ThirTEAth Birthday Party – Invitations

Every year in our family October is a big month and as September draws to a close I’ve very much reminded of this. It’s a month full of Birthdays (My Littlest Sister, Brother-in-Law, The Husband and Me) and this year it’s a big one for me; my 30th.

For me it’s not something to dread, or a way to mourn the end of the 20s but simply another reason to really go all out on a party. To celebrate my 30th Birthday I am in fact, completely embracing the corny aspect of it and I’m throwing myself a ThirTEAth Birthday party.

As the date draws nearer I’ll share more and more details about the party but for now let’s start with the invitations. The idea is from Pinterest and the templates can be found HERE courtesy of Do-It-Yourself-Invitations.

Materials:

-White or plain cardstock

-Decorative cardstock (I bought something similar to THIS, from Michaels)

-Ribbon

-Baker’s twine

-Scissors

-Exacto Blade

-Glue dots

-Glue stick

-Stapler

-Tape

-A6 Envelopes (4 3/4″ x 6 1/2″)

*Optional: additional cardstock for envelope liners & envelope liner template. Two great DIY Envelope Template Guides can be found HERE and HERE.

Using the templates I modified the wording, using a Free font download from Simple As That and then printed everything out.

Photo Courtesy of Rebecca from Simple as That

Next it’s all about assembling the invites and what method works best for you. Glue dots of the plain cardstock to attach it to the tea cup and on the bow. An Exacto blade to cut out the slash in the lid for the tea bag, and tape to adhere the tea bag label to the twine and to the invite.

If you’re planning on making envelope liners I recommend a glue stick over glue dots but that’s because I don’t like it when they open the envelope and the liner falls off.

You’re all set and now it’s time to start planning the decor, menu, favors and activities!

Yours Truly,

Mel



Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market (CUESA)

Lately I’ve been obsessed with Farmer’s Markets and if you’ve been to any one of the ones in the Bay Area you know why. The experience of a good farmer’s market is one that will captivate all your senses. The colors will pop out at you, the smell will delight your nose and the food; the food will tickle your taste buds and leave you wanting more and more until you can’t possibly eat anything else.

The first time the Husband and I went to the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market we may have gone a little overboard (I think we left with 3 grocery bags and half an igloo full of stuff) but I just couldn’t seem to help myself. Everything was so fresh and some of the food so new to me that I couldn’t say no. I mean come on, we walked right in and BAM there was a bakery stand, Biscuit Blender so our course I had a to get a few things to try.

Then The Husband was insistent that he get his Blue Bottle Coffee Company (A SF rarity) which was surprisingly inexpensive and quite tasty, considering their reputation.

Just past Blue Bottle there was another bakery and that was my first encounter with Miette and their to die for shortbread cookies. I convinced the sales girl to let me try a sample of their lavender and now they’ve got a new fan for life. I’ve always has a soft spot for shortbread but theirs was a type of butter goodness that I just couldn’t resist and in fact I think my exact words were, “Mmpf, I’ll take that one.”

From there we ventured outside and there was so much to see and taste with all the free samples that our stomach started to growl.

Luckily the friends we were there to meet choose that time to arrive and we got down to the important business of brunch time.

The Husband went for seafood (just one of the sandwiches below), while Holly chose a burger and I went for some down-home style Mexican food; everything was absolutely delicious. In fact, on our second trip I went right back to for the chilaquiles and The Husband opted for a burger.

From there we circled back around into the covered part of the farmer’s market and continued to lust after all the food and it was really a testament to my willpower and maybe, quickly dwindling cash, that we only left with as many bags as we did.

But we weren’t done yet and we continued to eat ourselves silly. The steamed buns were too good looking to resist and I’d never had a bomboloni so I was curious and had to try it; basically it was a cream filled donut, rolled in sugar and after that I was stick-a-fork-in-me-I’m-done.

All in all we had a great few hours eating and catching up with friends that I wished we saw more often.

In fact, on the ride back home The Husband even announced that he didn’t hate it which is a BIG deal because if you know him he is not a fan of anything San Francisco. So I was pretty pleased with myself and now, for the life of me I couldn’t remember why I waited so long to check it out.

If you’re keen to see it for yourself it’s every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (is the big one) and if you drive there’s a great place to park HERE that’s only $3 ALL DAY (yup, you read that right) with validation at the Farmer’s Market.

Yours Truly,

Mel


“Open Me When” Care Package Idea

This week my little Sister went away to College and it was definitely bittersweet. While I’m really happy that she got into the school of her dreams, I’m still super sad that she’s now a plane ride away and won’t be stopping by for impromptu dinners.

To make the parting easier for all of us my Mother suggested that she and I put together a bunch of item into what we are calling an “Open Me When” Box. The thought behind it is that when she’s feeling homesick she can open the box and choose a package (based on the tag) to open.I made sure my half of the box was a mix of both whimsical and practical things with a few items that I’m pretty proud of; with most of the items from either Target or the Dollar Tree (for a list of items that I purchased, go HERE).

I wanted to keep the tags light-hearted so they have saying on them like; Open me when you are having a bad hair day, open we when you need some silky legs or my favorite, open me to destroy hang nails!

“Open Me When” Care Package

Materials:

-Open Me When – Present to Label Guide 09.12.14 (For a list of the items & corresponding label)

-4 Pages of Avery 5164/8164 Labels (or the Staples/Office Depot equivalent) – Download mine: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 & Page 4

-Care Package Items

-24 Paper Snack/Sandwich Bags (from Sprouts)

-Pretty Box

Assemble all of you goodies and make sure they’re going to fit into your brown bags; if not trim them to size or remove the item from their packaging.

Next make sure you have your labels printed out & your guide handy.

Now start stuffing your bags with goodies!

Once I assembled all of the materials it was pretty quick to put it all together and I had my share of her care package all ready to go.

I hope she likes them and I can’t wait until next month when she’ll be back for her Birthday; the big 18!

Yours Truly,

Mel


Cupertino CityWIDE Garage Sale! (9/20 & 9/21/14)

There’s one last all-you-can-eat City Wide Garage Sale for 2014 and it’s this weekend in Cupertino, CA.

Yup, that’s right the LAST one of the year and I’ll be honest, Cupertino is always my favorite. Maybe it has something to do with Cupertino being my old stomping grounds but I’m convinced that the best stuff and bargains can be had there; I’m still ranting about my Pottery Barn finds almost 10 years later!

If you’re itching to get a few more garage sales in before the weather starts changing check out the Cupertino City’s website for more details.

Detailed Printable PDF Map HERE

List of all Registered Garage Sales (with item descriptions and dates) HERE

See all the Red dots, those are garage sales and I’m hoping to make quite the dent in those on Saturday.

Yours Truly,

Mel


Review: High Tea Fall Fashion Show

I had such high expectations for The High Tea Fall Fashion Show and I have to say that I was pretty bummed when it didn’t deliver. Somehow I got the start time mixed up and when I showed up at 3:30 I thought I had a ton of time and I was wrong. The Fashion Show was already under way and I was late.

I quickly signed in, grabbed my “bites box”, an iced tea since it was that or champagne and headed off to find my seat.

The show was enjoyable and while some of the “fashion” was questionable for Fall, Oakley and Tommy Bahama I’m talking to you; I did find a new favorite store in C. Wonder.

The biggest let down was the “High Tea” part. The bite boxes as they called them were provided by Lisa’s Tea Treasures and consisted of 1/2 a cucumber & cream cheese sandwich on white bread and a tiny scone the size of a silver dollar. Really guys that was the best you could do? Next time I’ll just skip a ticket, save myself $25 and just watch the show from the sideway.

I do have to say that after the show there were after-parties hosted by some of the sponsors that served drink and munchies so we all walked around and enjoyed the freebies.

Oh well, live and learn.

Yours Truly,

Mel

P.S. For a short 30 second video from the Fashion Show check us out on Facebook.


Apple Galette

Ever since my Mother made me an apple galette last year for my Birthday (read more about that HERE) I’ve been fascinated by them and I’ve seen them everywhere. They’re at all the farmer’s markets, in food magazines and now recipes are even popping up in my Facebook feed so I thought it was finally time to bite the bullet and try my hand at one.

This recipe for a Fruit Galette from The New York Times isn’t anything special but it looked tasty and most importantly easy enough; if you’re interested they also have a step-by-step VIDEO.

You see, when it comes to any kind of dough I always seems to mangle it and the crust ends up either too soft to do anything with or super dry and crumbly. Lucky for me the stars were in perfect alignment and my galette crust was easy to work with, not too sticky and it came out all kinds of perfect.

I’m a huge fan of apples and it just so happened that I had a bunch that had gone soft and weren’t good for snacking but would be perfect for baking.

Bonus points for making the dough entirely in the food processor.

Then take your dough and form it into a flat circle, cover it in plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge for an hour or more.

Now it’s time to peel and cut your apples. After it was all said and done I ended up with more apples than the recipe called for but I went with, “the more, the merrier,” philosophy and it came out just fine.

Don’t forget to toss them your fruit with the cornstarch and lemon juice; for an added kick I sprinkled in some cinnamon and omitted the lemon zest.

Here’s a little trick my Mother-in-Law told me when you’re working with dough. As you know after you roll it out you’ll need to transfer it to a pie tin, or in our case a cookie sheet and to do that without poking holes in it you’re going to fold it. I know what you’re thinking but do it anyway; first in half and then in half again (you’ll end up with a crust 1/4 of the size) and now it’s easy to move and no big deal. See, not that crazy.

Brush your galette with either milk or if you’re like me a  milk/cream mix and add a little turbine sugar for a bit of crunch.

Now into the oven and once it’s done it is best to eat it when it’s still warm with a little ice cream. Or even cold or standing up in your PJs for breakfast; whatever works for you.

Yours Truly,

Mel


Lemon Blueberry Bread

As part of my 3-Day Weekend celebration I decided to make some sort of sweet bread (vs. savory) and this Lemon blueberry recipe really fit the bill. Back when blueberries were in season I might have bought way more than I could eat with the intention of freezing some and now I was all to happy to break into my stash.

The recipe was submitted by ChezSpice onto All Recipes and I have to admit that I made a few minor tweaks. Before I started I knew that I wanted to make mini loaves so I doubled the recipe and divided the batter into 3 mini pans.

Also, after reading the ingredient list I decided that 2 Cups of sugar was an awful lot of sweet for 3 tiny loaves so I switch it out for 1 Cup of C&H light. C&H light was something that on purchased on a whim and it is a mix of stevia and pure cane sugar and now my go-to sugar substitutes. That’s because it’s still sweet, you don’t sacrifice flavor and most importantly; you don’t feel guilty when you eat six cookies instead of the just one you meant to have. Don’t lie, I know it’s happened to you too.

I did find that you don’t need to bake the mini loaves for as long as the single loaf; mine were about 40 minutes but be sure to check them with a toothpick and only remove them when it comes out clean.

As soon as these were out of the oven I was right there with the glaze and boy, did they look great. I even made sure to share a few loaves and I was rewarded with this text from a friend.

My favorite type of compliment is the kind that requires no words.

Yours Truly,

Mel


3-Day Weekend Baking Extravaganza

I hope everyone has an enjoyable Labor Day weekend; I know I sure did. I spend most of the weekend alternating between baking and cooking (or doing both simultaneously) in the kitchen and I couldn’t have been happier.

What that mean for all of you is that I have a couple new favorite recipes and I can’t wait to share them!

Here’s a little teaser for your Tuesday.

Yours Truly,

Mel

P.S. Would anyone be interested if I shared a really great marinara sauce recipe that’s heavy on the garlic and incredible on chicken parmigiana?


FREE – Online Knife Skills Class

Okay, so there really isn’t much of a call for good knife skills in baking but when I came across this offer for a Free Knife Skills Class via Craftsy on My Baking Addiction it was too good not to share.

Photo via Craftsy

It requires you to create a Craftsy account, which is a breeze and then you’re in. The class is broken down into 5 Lessons and each one varies from 30 minutes to an hour. I wasn’t sure how I felt about talking and online class but they’re taught by Chef Brendan McDermott and he’s good, like really good. The lessons are interesting, easy to understand and he definitely knows his stuff.

Right off the bat I knew this was a good choice because my lack of knife prowess was embarrassing and I was doing everything wrong. I wasn’t holding the knife right, I wasn’t slicing but chopping and the whole “be careful or you’ll lose a finger thing,” yeah, I’ve come precariously close to that a few times. A few participants even commented that his lectures were better than the ones that they paid money for so that’s always a plus too.

If you’re game and want to brush up on your knife skills you can find the class HERE and I strongly suggest you do it.

Yours Truly,

Mel