My Guilty Pleasure

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Day #5 of the 31 day blog challenge asks what my guilty pleasure is. Hmmmm, I mean really I could go in so many directions but I will keep it simple. I jump start every day with an iced coffee. I used to drink iced coffee with 1/2 whole milk but now I have made the switch to 1/2 almond milk with a teeny splash of half and half. I also have to have vanilla although I am trying to cut back on the amount of vanilla that I add. Sometimes I make these at home with my Keurig and other times I pick one up at Starbucks, Peet’s or Nugget. I really love visiting random coffee shops while on vacation and doing a comparison. My favorite iced coffee is from a little place in Amador City called Andrae’s. They make their own vanilla milk. Say what? Yeah, it’s worth the drive every now and again for the splurge.

Do you have a guilty splurge?

How Do You Like Them Apples?

I can’t recall if it was my dad or grandpa that used to say that but it’s in my head as is fall. It’s almost fall. Almost as in I’ve already decorated and bought some new fall clothes. In reality it’s averaging 105 here this week. Boo. I am not the least bit happy about those temps, even in the midst of summer. I don’t like the hot. We stay semi warm here in Northern California through Halloween. We will have some cooler days and nights before we are totally submerged in the crispness of the season. I can not wait. Fall is so my favorite season and it goes way too fast. Fall officially kicks off on September 23rd but I start decorating right after Labor Day. September is also the kick off to Apple Hill which is one of my favorite places to go. Ever. With that, I am sharing some recipes that I am hoping to make and share this apple season.

Snickerdoodle Apple Cobbler – Crazy for Crust
Are you kidding me? Two of my favorite things rolled into one yummy recipe. I am definitely making this one soon!

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New England Apple Cider Cake – A Family Feast
This might be a fun weekend breakfast.

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Apple Pie Moonshine – It’s a Keeper

I’ve had the store bought version of this before and it is a tummy warmer for sure. Perfect for a crisp fall night.

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Apple Cinnamon Yogurt Pancakes – Julia’s Album

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Apple Pecan Feta Spinach Salad with Maple Cider Vinaigrette – Cooking Classy

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Apple Cider Caramels – I Heart Nap Time
These are the perfect thing to make and giveaway. I am sure you could make new friends if you kept these in your purse.

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Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Spread – She Wears Many Hats
I am sure this would be a crowd pleaser at any fall party.

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Of course I have barely scratched the surface for delicious apple recipes. I am drooling as I type this. Yum yum yum. Do you have a favorite apple recipe?

Summer Entertaining

Well happy July — Almost August. Where did summer go? We have spent the better part of our summer traveling between home, Napa and Lake Tahoe. I feel so lucky that we are right in-between two beautiful places. My husband’s family is located primarily in Napa. We had out of state family visiting as well as my niece’s wedding and a surprise 50th birthday party for Steve’s brother. It was a lot of family time and amazing moments. Tahoe is just close enough to escape the heat. We did a few day trips, a camping trip to Camp Richardson and then a 2 night getaway to The Resort at Squaw Creek. It was go, go, go but every minute was wonderful.

I am a bit of a decorating and entertaining dreamer. I literally lie in bed at night and think of things I can decorate or parties I could throw. I thought I’d share some fun finds for summer entertaining. It’s a bit of decor, food, drinks and just all around fabulous party ideas.

First we have to start with some pretty decor.

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I love these jars of flowers that I found on Pinterest. Original source unknown.

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I love this simple tables cape at Style Me Pretty. You could use cloth napkins with a simple piece of rosemary or lavender sitting on top as well. I also love that using mixed patterns has become quite trendy and it’s a great way to up cycle as well. You never know what fabulous new pieces you might find at garage sales, flea markets or thrift stores.

 

Summer-Lemonade-BarGiggles Galore shared this adorable make your own lemonade bar. Kids would have a blast creating their own concoction.

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Of course a grown up version of a beverage bar would be a hit. So how about a mojito bar?

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Gourmande in the Kitchen shares this appetizer using herbed flatbread and then topped with arugula, almonds and fresh parmesan. It looks light and refreshing. Plus it’s gluten and grain free.

 

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I had to throw in a tomato recipe since tomatoes are in season and there really is nothing better then a fresh garden tomato. How about some grilled tomatoes with a basil vinaigrette? Yum! This was over at My Recipes.

 

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These kabobs at Natasha’s Kitchen would make a great main course. You could of course sub chicken or even shrimp for the beef if you wanted.

 

Delicious-Very-Berry-Cheesecake-Oat-BarsBeauty and Bedlam gives a step by step tutorial on these mouth watering berry cheesecake bars.

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Peach Cobbler is a great ‘go to’ summer desert. With fresh peaches available at Farmers Markets, you just can’t go wrong.

If you feel like throwing a little summer soiree I have given you some funny summer entertaining ideas. 😉 Do you have go to receipts for hosting summer dinners? Please feel free to share.

 

Quinoa Goodness

I know, strange name for a recipe but it’s a mash up of so many things. I created it using leftovers in my fridge and it is Delicious (yes, with a capital D). It was basically an accidental creation that I love so much that I just had to share. I did not measure. What you see is just a little of this and that thrown into a bowl, mixed up and devoured. It does not require dressing because the avocado and goat cheese make it kind of creamy. I think dressing might over power it although a tad lemon juice and olive oil might make it pop. What you will need:

  • Cooked Quinoa
  • Avocado
  • Green onions
  • Fresh corn off the cob (must be fresh or the taste just isn’t the same)
  • Goat cheese (crumbled)
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Cherry tomatoes (halved)

This is a cold salad so make sure the quinoa is room temp before adding. Mix all ingredients together and viola, lunch is served.

You get something that looks like this:

Quinoa

This has been my lunch for the past two days and tomorrow will make for day #3. I love all of the yummy garden foods that come from summer. Corn on the cob is my current obsession. What about you? Are you foodie obsessed? What is your go to lunch?

Little Pieces of July

Something funny about me? I was born in July. However, I do not love summer. I love Fall. So why was I born in the summer? Why did I get married in the summer? Interesting uh? Well I can tell you this, since becoming a mama — I enjoy summer more. I feel like I am transported back to being a kid and feeling the freedoms of summer. When I was a kid, I was a lot more heat tolerant. Now a perfect summer day for me is 85 degrees. Yeah, that hot spell we had over the 4th of July? I was pretty much in a permanent bad mood all week. I tried to fake happy but I was melting on the inside and out. Yearning for a breeze, some fresh air that wasn’t coming out of an air conditioning vent and barely keeping the house tolerable. I won’t go on and on about how Fall is my favorite season. You can read all about that here and here. Before I get all lost in a season that hasn’t even arrived yet, let’s visit July. July was full of fun for our family. Day trips, birthdays, ice cream, July 4th, visits with family — it was an action packed month full of fun memories.

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Some of my favorite parts of July 2013: Day trip to Silver Lake, Planning July 4th with my dear friend Stacie, celebrating my friend Kelly’s birthday {FYI: when the band doesn’t show, use a juke box to have a dance party and singalong}, kayaking with my family, Boeger Winery Sunset Sipping {Hangtown Cooler please!}, doing a little bedroom makeover for my littlest}, kids being creative with Legos, a day trip with my boys which included a hike, some lake time{and crawdad catching} and ice cream at Camp Richardson, back to school shopping, birthday creating and last but not least, celebrating Mason’s birthday on July 26th and wrapping the month up with my birthday which entailed a day trip to Sand Harbor.

I’d say by the looks of things, July was pretty awesome for us! Hope ya’all are enjoying the dog days of summer.

Summer Cocktails

It’s summertime and that means — yep, cocktails!! Not that you can’t have cocktails in the other seasons but there is something so refreshing about cocktails in the summertime. I love seeing how a slew of ingredients bring about something so yummy and delicious. I keep putting this post off assuming that I will pull it together and make/share a couple of my favorites and add pictures as well but … but … but .. you get the point. It’s not happening! The last time I had my two favorite concoctions was while camping and I just didn’t think to get photos. I will share the recipes with you though. You can just imagine how pretty they are in a glass with a cute lil straw.

Root-beer Float

My version doesn’t really entail any ice-cream but it tastes like a root-beer float. Anyone that has tried them is instantly hooked. First off, I am in love with these skinny glasses from Cost Plus. I have actually bought them for my girlfriends as they are a hot ticket around here. Add a straw and they are perfect for a pretty cocktail.

I add one shot of Whipped Vodka to a full glass of ice and then top with root beer. Voila. A simple and super tasty cocktail. Some people like to add whipped cream to the top. I think they are plenty sweet without.

Orange Julius with Whipped Vodka

These seem to be made a million different ways but this is how we make them. Now these are a main attraction while camping so they are served in non other then a Red Solo cup. I know, classy!

In a shaker combine: ice, 2 oz Whipped Cream Vodka, 1 oz Triple Sec, fill with OJ and then a squirt of canned whipping cream. Shake well and serve. This will serve two.

Both of these go down a little too easily so beware how quickly you feel the results if you know what I am saying.

I made this yummy sangria for the 4th of July. Again, I did not get a photo before it was all gone. What I loved the most is that it called for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc which is the type of wine I always drink. It sold me on the recipe.

Summer Sangria at The Sassy Writer

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Of course have a Pinterest Board which is dedicated to Entertaining and that is where I save these little gems for later. Check out some of the yummy things I hope to make soon. All recipes can be accessed by clicking on the drink title and source above the photos.

Mexican Sangria at Design Sponge

Mexican Sangria

Sour Cherry Gin Slings at Food & Wine

Sour Cherry Gin Slings

Cherry Moon at Grey Goose

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Frozen Cherry Margarita at Girlfriend Getaways

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Gin & Tonic {one of my faves} at Drizzle and Dip

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Cayman Lemonade at Islands

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The Frenchy Cocktail at Intoxicology

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Marshmallow Cake-tini Cocktail at Tablespoon

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These look like tantalizing cocktails. I’d love to hear if you have tried any of these and what you think. Oh my last round up does not come with a photo {although I had two last weekend and I can tell you that they were delicious} is a drink called the Va Va Voom and it was at a local spot called Sauced. It had vodka, muddled mint and lime, simple syrup and hard cider and was served on the rocks. It tasted like a carbonated lemonade. It was so yummy {and it may have caused excessive dancing, just sayin’}.

Come on over and check out my million and one other pins at Pinterest 🙂 Just kidding, I only have 7, 257  pins.

Cheers to Summer my friends {even though I long for Fall}.

Day 15: 31 Days of Being Present

Today was super fun and very easy as far as being present. Probably because I got to spend it with my friend, Julie,  at one of our favorite places, Apple Hill. It’s our annual thing. The kids love to go but we like to sneak up on a weekday when things are less hectic. There are so many fun places to eat. I mean really, it’s gorgeous and all but I {heart} the food!! Apple pie, crisp, donuts, sauce, cider and then there are the caramel apples. Oh. My. Goodness.

Some of my favorite spots:

Ables Acres has an amazing selection of caramel apples. My personal fave is the apple pie one. Whoa. I can’t even put into words how amazing it is. They also have apple fritters as big as my head. Yep, that was breakfast! With a Starbucks of course.

I love the pies at Apple Ridge Farms although I hear that Hooverville makes a pretty amazing pie as well. That being said, we made the journey to Hooverville which is actually off of Highway 49 heading towards Coloma. Let me just tell you a funny story about this  spot. For two girls who are very used to the Apple Hill ranches and farms, this was off the beaten path. Down a one lane road that had arrows that kept pointing us in the right direction. Then a sign that said, “you are 1/2 way”. Wow, seemed like we should have been there by that point. As we are cruising along Julie tells me this story about a TV show she saw years ago that took place in the middle of nowhere and it involved creepy men and peacocks. Oh great story!! Where were we at anyway? Did we have cell service? Well we finally reach Hooverville and parked. There is only one person working but it has a lot of picnic tables and looks like it could be busy on a weekend. It’s Monday. So it was not busy. We parked and got out of the car and guess what I saw? Seriously. Guess. Peacocks!!! I was giggling and said, “Julie” and she said, “Don’t tell me, peacocks?” Yep — lots of them in cages. We just had to laugh and laugh and laugh. What are the chances? I can recall seeing peacocks at two places, the Folsom Zoo and Daffodil Hill. They were not caged at either place. Anyway, it was worth the journey for all of the laughs. Oh the pie? We each bought one so I will give you the verdict on that one later!!

High Hill Ranch has a great selection of food including burgers and sandwiches. I also love the apple cider {free samples} here. There are also several vendors on hand for handmade crafts and gifts.

Boa Vista has great prices on apples. We didn’t even realize this until we overheard someone at High Hill say, “They are $5 cheaper at Boa Vista“. Um OK — on it!! We popped over to Boa Vista and grabbed some apples and they also have other produce as well. Wish I remembered that before I went grocery shopping yesterday. Bell peppers were 69 cents each!

To cap off our day we popped into Placerville and grabbed lunch at The Shoestring. Cause after sugar you need some grease, right? I had a western cheeseburger and Julie had a hot pastrami. Of course we shared fries. They also had crushed ice for the sodas. I have a crush on crushed ice. Seriously. I even asked for a refill which I NEVER do cause I love the ice so much. It’s the little things 🙂

How often do you make the time to be present doing something that you love?

A Special LOCAL Photography Project

I’ve said it before — I love meeting people and hearing their stories. This past week I had coffee with a mom that I’d chatted a little bit with. We have kids in the same grades and we recently ended up in the same Cub Scout Den. The plan was to discuss an upcoming photography shoot and a fabulous idea she has for a very special book. Well this coffee date turned into a 3 hour coffee date {that could have probably gone on but I had to leave town that afternoon}. I left feeling so inspired and excited to share her idea with all of you in hopes that maybe you could help her idea become a reality.

Jen Tarbox Photograpy is local to El Dorado Hills. She does photography because she loves it. Her goal is to never get too big because she doesn’t want to feel like it is work but more of a hobby that she loves. What I really love is that she is not about making a major profit, she likes the idea of shaping her business {and her world} around charity. For example, a percent of proceeds for photo sessions with get donated to a charity. I love this idea and it seems so unique. Her energy was so inspiring and I seriously left our “date” feeling like I should and could do more with all of my little ideas. She is in the process of revamping her website but you can bookmark her site for whats to come and also follow her along on Facebook.

Now, about this amazing project that she is working on and how you can possibly be a part of it. Jen is planning to create a photography book that highlights the everyday life of local children with special needs and life changing illnesses. It is a book that will tell their stories and also offer information on how to find charities that support these illnesses and special needs. It will also talk about how really, we are all capable of so much — regardless of the things that make us different. I really love the idea as I think teaching our kids about diversity and how we treat others regardless of their uniqueness as people is so important. She personally has a cousin with Downs Syndrome and Leukemia and knows a little girl with Cystic Fibrosis. I have friends with children that have Dwarfism, Autism, Aspergers and Cerebral Palsy. All of these children are just that — children. Regardless of their differences.

If you know of someone who would like to be a part of this project, please contact Jen at (916) 605-9202 or jenmiller.tarbox@gmail.com.  If you’d like to be a part of the book, you will get a FREE photo session {and yes, this can include siblings} as well as a FREE book when it comes together. Again, I am so excited to see this project come to life so if you know of anyone that would want to be a part of this, please pass the word.

 

Farmers Markets 2012

I love Farmers Markets and besides finding fresh fruits and vegetables, I also love all of the other goodies that can be found. A few weeks back, at our local market, I found a crepe booth. Yum! I love crepes. We also have a local bakery and Z Pie even has a booth. I don’t know if you have ever had Z Pie. They are these delicious little pot pies in several flavor combinations. They even have desert pies. But … back to the Farmers Market 😉 A lot of the same spots host Farmers Markets weekly but a few local places have changed this year. Briggs Ranch is no longer offering a Farmers Market on Friday mornings but now Palladio in Folsom has one on Thursdays from 8-1 in front of Whole Foods Market.

Photo Source

Here are links for local Farmers Markets for the 2012 season {most markets run from June – October}. Check sites for exact dates.

  • For El Dorado County Markets, click here.
  • For Sacramento, click here.
  • Foothill Farmers Markets is mostly listings for Placer County. Click here for those locations.
  • Davis offers a year round market, click here for times and locations.
Local Harvest is a great resource for Farmers Markets in your area – you can search by zip code. You can also find CSA’s, events and farms.
Now — if my garden starts producing, that will be a whole other post 😉
Happy Weekend friends!


Fun Places for Kids

Ah Summer — it’s upon us and many of us are looking for fun activities & vacations. Well, I know I’d personally love to go to Hawaii. Buuuuuuuuut, that is not in the cards for us {hello backyard redo!!}. So instead of one big, pricey trip how about several small, less expensive trips or even stay local for the day? There was a recent article in the SF Gate about 20 places every California kid should see. Click here for that information.

Some other fun ideas.

Take a hike – yes, really! We have so many beautiful places in Northern California to explore on foot. Click here for a directory of trails. Slack Packer also has a wealth of resources. Check them out here.

Jump in – check out Swimming Holes of Northern California by clicking here. Sac Magazine also shared an article last summer with a few local spots, click here to read that.

Get out of town –  How about a day trip? Here in EDH, we are situated between Lake Tahoe and the Bay Area. We could take off either way and in less then 2 hours, be at so many destinations. A few ideas?

  • Six Flags offers amusement for the whole family.
  • Angel Island is a pretty place and the ferry ride there makes it is that much more fun for the kids. You could make a day of it and then head into Sausalito for some dinner.
  • Take a ride on a paddlewheeler in Tahoe. MS Dixi II and Tahoe Queen offer guided trips along the majestic blue waters of Lake Tahoe.
  • You could also head to Amador or Calavares County for a tour of an old mine or cavern. Click here for details and locations.
  • If you are looking for an adventure, take the short drive to Santa Rosa and take part in a Safari at Safari West. My son actually did this with my sister and had a blast.
  • Enjoy a breathtaking view of Lake Tahoe by riding the gondolas at Heavenly.
  • Squaw Valley  offers activities and plenty of gorgeous scenery in the crisp mountain air. Check out their site for what to do while visiting.
  • Head into San Francisco and visit the Exploratorium, California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park or the San Francisco Zoo.
  • Speaking of zoos, I hear that the Oakland Zoo is one of the best around. I’m hoping to get there this summer myself!
  • I also just stumbled across this fab little site called California Day Trips. It is full of great resources from beach to mountain spots to explore as well as various amusement parks and even local events.

Hang out locally

Raging Waters is a great way to cool off in Sacramento. They are offering a great deal right now where you buy a day and get a season pass for free! It’s a pretty great deal.

Golfland Sunsplash in Roseville offers fun in the sun too!

How about a little river fun? You can get out there via kayak or raft. River Rat off of Fair Oaks and Sunrise offers rentals as does American River Rafting on Sunrise Blvd. These are both very family friendly and the waters are not white water conditions at all. If you are looking for something more advanced {for the bigger kids}, check out White Water Voyages or Whitewater Excitement.

Check out your local community pool. I hear that many might close due to budget issues {boo, hiiissss} but check, you never know what might change. In El Dorado Hills, you can check out the CSD website by clicking here. For info on Folsom, click here. For info on Cameron Park, click here. Sacramento has several community pools, click here for locations, times and entry fees.

How about a day of berry picking? Of course a picnic lunch is in order. Patricks Berry Farm in Camino is a fun day trip and you are also surrounded by beautiful Apple Hill. The location can’t be beat. American River Cherry Company got a nice little plug in Sunset Magazine. Call before heading out to do some berry picking as these places have estimated opening dates in the next week but things can change.

Something on our Summer to do list is the drive-in movies. I have not been to a drive-in movie in over 20 years {wow .. really?}. I think my kids would love it!!

These are just a few of so many ideas of how to spend the dog days of summer. What do you have planned? I’d love to hear of any local favorite things to do. Please share 😉