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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A new spice for life: OLD BAY


Have you ever experienced a moment when you see a brand or product that you have 'known' for years and realize you actually know nothing about it?

     For years, I have passed by the OLD BAY Seasoning canister in the spice aisle. I have heard it mentioned in recipes over time and recently I was watching one of those cooking shows on television and heard the guest cook rave about OLD BAY Seasoning and how it is a staple in his spice repertoire. I still thought nothing about this seasoning, and still had never considered purchasing or using it. http://www.oldbay.com/products/old-bay-seasoning.aspx

     And then it happened, I was in the spice aisle at the grocery store the other day, as I needed a few spices for some new recipes, and the OLD BAY canister was staring at me. I decided to buy it not really having a plan on how I was going to use it, but I figured, its a vintage looking canister and matched with my kitchen decor none-the less.

     The next day, my husband came home for lunch and had a paper bag in tow with a pound of shell on jumbo shrimp he had picked up from the fish store. I had a different dinner planned for that evening, but with a bag of fresh uncooked shrimp, I needed to change the "What's for dinner?" question. The shrimp were beautiful and I really wanted to do them justice by cooking them in a special way. We discussed possibly grilling them on the barbecue (shrimps on the barbie!) by simply dressing them with oil and salt, similar to a dish we had in San Francisco the day prior at one of our favorite tapas restaurants, Picaro (http://picarotapasrestaurant.com/). And then it hit me, I had just purchased that OLD BAY Seasoning, and it self proclaims it's the seasoning for seafood, and with that "same great taste for over 70 years," how could we not try it?

     The first recipe listed on the back of the canister is for Steamed Shrimp and we went for it.

2 tbsp. OLD BAY Seasoning
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 lb. shrimp, in shells
In saucepan, combine first 3 ingredients. Bring to boil. Add shrimp, stir gently. Cover; steam until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Drain; remove shells.

     It was absolutely delicious. Just those few minutes steaming in the pot, the shrimp were so rich and flavorful. In fact, we kept burning our fingers because we couldn't help but dive in within seconds of draining out the steaming broth. The shrimp were salty, smokey and infused with that 'great taste' OLD BAY promised. I served pan roasted broccoli with lemon and garlic and spaghetti alla checca (tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil, S & P, parmesan cheese) on the side. Our bellies were happy and full with good eats.

     I am so happy to now 'know' OLD BAY and have it in my arsenal of spices! If you are like me and have never used this seasoning, I recommend you immediately get a canister and try out this seasoning that has been celebrated for all these years and get in the "know."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Showered With Love

      As my belly grew bigger with my growing "womb-mate," my mom's baby shower ideas grew even bigger. She was determined to have a special and memorable event. My mom's home is a beautiful and magical place. It's like an adult tree house, adorned by huge pines and aspens and a backyard that feels like you are in an enchanted forest. There is a babbling creek that runs through the yard, a refurbished ski chair lift chair that now swings, and a huge tipi.
 
       The shower was a "Woodland" theme, which was appropriate considering our family's home. From the food to the decorations to the props for the photo booth, there was enchanted forest magic all over. I felt like I was in a Disney fairytale. My heart swelled (much larger than my already swollen ankles!) with the abundant amount of love showered upon me and my growing family. I am such a lucky girl!

   After gathering our ideas on our Pinterest boards, we vowed to go big with the food and decorations. From German chocolate coconut cream filled cupcakes, strawberry shortcake cake pops, mini rice crispy treats, to cookies and candy and so much more, here is our "Sweets Table" (which we tried to make mostly gluten free):

We had quiches, Chinese chicken salad, a green salad, and asparagus. The dishes were surrounded by pictures of my husband and myself when we were children. Our "Eats Table":
 

We had all types of beverages, from mimosas, to lemonade and iced coffee. The "Cheers Table":
 

My mom really utilized the artisans on Etsy.com for her decorations. There are wonderful finds by really talented people on that website. The products and services were terrific.
 


     Instead of ordering flower arrangements from a florist, we got pallets of flowers and rosemary bushes that we then replanted in the yard after the event. Plus the rosemary had such a wonderful scent, it just added to the Woodland theme. My mom also found these little pixie lights that she adorned each arrangement with, so when the sun started to set, the tables twinkled in the night.

     There was also a wish tree, where people could leave special messages to the baby. I have them in my son's baby book. It was such a special detail that I am so grateful to share with my son when he gets older.
 


     From the days leading up to the shower to the days after, family and friends descended upon our home to celebrate our family's new life. It was the special and memorable event that my mom wanted, and such a celebration of life. The entire house was filled with people and tons of love. It was a momentous time and a summer I will never forget. I am so thankful to have such amazing friends and family in my life. I am truly blessed and in awe of the love that surrounds me and my family. Thank you to all who were there!


 Baby Shower Tips:
 
* Use plants that can be replanted for center pieces. They become the gift that keeps on giving.
* Pamela's baking mixes were terrific for the gluten free desserts. They held up wonderfully and no one knew the difference.
* To elevate your cupcake, choose a pudding mix that compliments your cupcake flavor, after the pudding has set, put it into a zipbloc bag, attache a cake piping tip, poke it into the center of the cupcake and fill it before you frost it. Super easy, keeps your cupcakes moist and its a little surprise in the middle. Yum!
* Pinterest was a wonderful place to gather ideas for any party or event, just start a board and start pining!
* Etsy.com was wonderful place to find those one of a kind decorations. Some of the vendors will even work with you to make them more personalized to your liking.
* Having a photo booth at the event was such a fun idea. I found a Groupon for a discounted rate, so it made doable on the budget. As well, guests had a fun memory to go home with.


  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Little Man's Vintage Garage

AKA: Cooper's Nursery

It was so much fun decorating my baby boy's nursery. The nesting hormone definitely emitted during my pregnancy. My husband loves cars and I'm about all things vintage, hence the nursery theme. I spent many hours online window shopping and on Pinterest gathering my mood board 'pins'. I had two goals in mind, budget and not being too literal or cliche. I was really happy with the outcome. The room has a great energy and I feel the space came together swimmingly.




DECOR:

The antique tin signs are from a really cool and affordable website: www.asimplertime.com

The rug is from Target and was a bargain! Mind you this was after hours of searching for a cheap area  rug, which was not easy. I couldn't believe I paid under $100 for this  rug! www.target.com

The bedding is from www.babybedding.com. This website was awesome because the patterns and designs were not cliche. I did spend a bit more in this part of my budget, but it was worth it to me because I really liked their bedding. I decided on orange and blue gingham sheets, minky sheets for winter (oh so soft!), and a patchwork pattern to bring that vintage feel to the room. The site also makes rocking chair pads, which I got in orange gingham, and a lamp shade that matches. This site is a Pinterest user's dream!! Great customer service and easy to register and manage for a baby shower, fyi.



FURNITURE:

I knew I didn't want to invest into a changing table because I wouldn't need it after a few years. I kept reading that converting a dresser into a changing station was the way to go. You can attach the changing pad with straps, which are usually sewn onto the pad itself for safety reasons. So, I scoured www.craigslist.com for weeks until I found a dresser that was just the right size and price. Granted it was originally painted a pale pink, but my determined husband sanded it down stained and painted it, and viola... a new dresser for the nursery!


The crib was given to me by a friend- and boy oh boy- what a crib it is! I was extremely fortunate to be gifted this awesome piece! The best part is that the crib converts into a toddler bed as our baby boy grows.

The baby clothes rack was taken straight from a Pinterest pin I came across. My house is old and has very small closets, so that space was already a hot commodity plus my husband's clothes already occupied it. A diy project and super easy to install- we just mounted a curtain rod under a shelf- and magic... a clothes rack! Now I can easily see all of those cute little miniature clothes!







A few tips for a chic and unique nursery on a budget:

* Refurbish an old dresser and turn into a changing table
* Use hooks behind a door for baby carriers and bibs
* Utilize www.craigslist.com in your area to find lightly used baby furniture or pieces that can be converted into a piece for the nursery, like a bench or shelves. (Be sure to inspect it for safety- this is your baby's room after all!)
* A can of paint can change any room!

Happy Trails!!

Sweetness Defined

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." ~ John Lennon

I don't think I really embraced the meaning of this quote until recently. Over the past year I added two milestones to my path of life; marriage and a baby. I'm overjoyed with love and happiness and feel so blessed to have two new men in my life. I won't get too mushy, but it goes to show:

1. Be careful what you wish for because it could happen!
and
2. Life as you know it will never be the same!

 
Now things are really going to get interesting! Stay thirsty my friends!