Third annual New Year’s Day Brunch

What better way to start the new year than with a bunch of friends and lots of excellent food? After the success of our second annual NYD brunch, we knew our little tradition had serious traction and prepped for good times and good food to start 2014.

The talented Desiree from The 36th Avenue designed adorable printables which came in handy for our celebration – I added a bit to the large printable, but other than that, the design is all hers.

Steve, his mom and his aunt do some cooking:

Steve also made monkey bread, and our guests brought yummy scones with homemade jam, homemade breakfast sausage, fresh fruit, OJ, sweet potato hash, brownies, etc. while we provided coffee, pancakes and waffles, and eggs and bacon.

As excellent as the food was, it was even better to have family, and friends from all areas of our lives, getting together. Truly a great way to start 2014 – cheers!!!

Thanksgiving 2013

Our Thanksgiving celebration was pretty damn awesome, I have to say. We hosted as we have for the past few years, but this time it was super special because we got to meet the littlest member of the family – and the current titleholder of The Most Chunkalicious Thighs in Existence. Here she is with our oldest, who is so good with babies:

Our menu had most of the usual dishes, plus a butternut squash soup Steve had tried in Napa and wanted to recreate. It was my favorite part of the meal.

Other than cooing at the baby.


I forgot to include poached pears in the menu, it was something Steve tried a couple of years ago and it was a hit, so he makes it every year.

Seriously, our little cousin could feed a family of four for a week with one of her thighs.

We are not having any more kids so kindly allow me this temporary baby-insanity. Happiest baby ever. Mama J, you are doing a great job!

I hope your Thanksgiving – or your Thursday if you did not celebrate – was a good one. I do not partake of the brick-and-mortar Black Friday craze, but I will definitely be checking out online sales – are you braving the crowds to get a deal?

Bollywood Bash!

As I mentioned on Friday, Steve and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary this past weekend. We’d been wanting to throw a Bollywood-themed party for years and we figured this was our chance.

My husband applied henna to my hands and a couple of friends and their daughters’ hands. No stencil, all freehand. He also made an arch so people could walk through it. If at this point you are getting the impression that he’s the crafty one and I just take pictures, I wouldn’t argue with you.

Our friends’ and their daughters’ hands:

My hands:

See that on the left (my right) hand? Yep, he put in a fleur de lis for me :D

Awwwww – ring shot.

Entrance to the “Taj Mahal”

In order to hang lovely swaths of color (i.e. dollar store tablecloths) Steve and our awesome neighbors pinned them around the fan . . .

… and then spread them out to hang away from the center.

The vanilla chai cupcakes were made by my awesome friend J. – the cupcake toppers are from Bird’s Party, so cute!

In my test batch I used a box of French Vanilla cake mix and substituted a cup of strong chai tea (3 bags steeped for 20 minutes) instead of the cup of water in the instructions. The Buttercream is from the Wilton website and has 2 T of strong chai tea. My friend offered to bake them for me and they were a hit, my uncle had six of them, I think!

I found Ellie, our party mascot, during a visit to Goodwill. She was there, right in the end cap and I thought she was perfect, so she came home with me:

Ellie and the perfect-for-our-theme doormat we got at Pier 1:

This being our tenth, we decided to splurge a bit and have a local restaurant provide the food. Everything was delicious, we had Tandoori chicken, Butter chicken, Basmati rice and Naan bread, Salad, Okra masala, and Vegetarian korma. Even though everyone who RSVPd showed up – about 40 friends and relatives – we have lots of leftovers, so we get to enjoy our yummy party food for a couple of days.

My brother, awesome bartender that he is, whipped up some delightful mango concoctions – both family-friendly and with alcohol.

They were frosty and delicious in the warm afternoon. We also enjoyed some gulab jamun for dessert.

My husband got his kurta at a local boutique, we were so happy with the customer service – the salespeople are nice, helpful, will work with your budget, etc. We sent a few friends there to get their costume and they were very happy as well. We never require people to dress up but it was nice to see so many of our dear guests embracing the theme.

I purchased some red glittery fabric – and let me tell you, I still have glitter all over my skin – and the lady from the boutique showed me how to pleat and wear it. My headdress is the necklace I made for my wedding, I was very happy to wear it again ten years later. I wore a teal shirt to coordinate with my husband’s kurta, and teal flats, tons of bracelets (from H&M), and turquoise earrings I already had.

We are so thankful to all the friends and family who joined us, everyone who helped out, and those who couldn’t make it but were there in spirit. I kept thinking my dear daddy would have had a blast at our party, he loved my husband and I know he was happy to know we are happy together.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week, I am off to scrub still more glitter off me!

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Sa-weet!

No, not just the chai cupcakes – which, seriously, are yum on a major scale.

Not just the buttercream, made by my sweet friend J.

But planning something with a good friend or two who have your back. Planning something with people who get as excited as me about the color of the paper plates. Because they’re happy for me.

I haven’t always had that, and I’m so grateful.

Minecraft Party, part 1

Minecraft is everywhere. Just about every kid I know plays it, and just about every parent I know knows about it. It’s like Legos, but online, and each block has different properties. So of course, my oldest, a fervent fan of the game, decided he wanted a Minecraft party for his 8th birthday. Being the craft-crazy parents that we are, we happily obliged.


Can you tell I went overboard with the square/block theme?


I totally stole the popcorn baggy idea and creeper background idea from Puerta Bella. The popcorn baggies were a hit, every kid (and some adults) grabbed a baggy each and went on their merry way, eating popcorn. I loved that there were no hands grabbing popcorn from a big bowl, that each person could get their own popcorn. The Red Vines TNT idea was shamelessly stolen from Seaside Interiors, and I used some square candle holders I already had, the kids loved it!

I decided to make mini sandwiches, cut to look like blocks, of course. We had Chicken Pesto, made very easily by mixing cooked chicken and mixing it with some of the pesto I made last week; Peanut Butter and Jelly; and Tuna Salad.

My mother in law baked the yummy cakes and my husband decorated them. We had one creeper and two “dirt blocks”:



Aren’t those candles fun? My husband saw them at the store and grabbed them, I’d never seen them before. The sides of the dirt blocks are a mix of oreos and graham crackers. We also had block candies and starburst to complete the “block food” theme.

On Friday, I’ll tell you all about the awesome piñata my husband made!

Let’s get it started


Yesterday we held our second Annual New Year’s Day Brunch — what started as a small gathering with a couple of friends wanting to start the new year right (good friends, good food, good conversation) has now evolved into a gathering of roughly 15 people. We provide all the waffles people can eat, and coffee, and then people bring whatever else they want to have. Believe me, it is a feast of talents, each friend or relative bringing something wonderful for everyone to enjoy.


Even the little ones get into the action, my boys nommed on waffles and the homemade banana muffins brought by our fearless friend K. I am, as I type this, enjoying some of the leftover potato hash our dear friends J & M brought.

Auntie L brought her famous gorilla bread, so good! And our friend J made more of the only breakfast sausage Steve and I like. J makes it himself, blending spices and all sorts of goodness, and it vanishes pretty quickly. Steve’s parents contributed eggs and bacon, and my sweet friend J brought a ton of OJ because you know how it is, when you have OJ in your fridge it goes bad, but when someone brings it you can’t wait for it and then down it like liquid gold.

We had a grand time, which is the point of the gathering, to start the new year with laughter and good food, and surrounded by great people. Here’s to more New Year’s Day brunches!!

Food coma

Holy crap, that was a lot of food. And I didn’t even have turkey! Steve made an awesome bacon-wrapped pork loin so I went for that. And my mama’s world famous sweet potatoes with marshmallows. And Steve’s fabulous apple crisp.

My mom’s neighbor makes these adorable turkeys — mom bought a bunch and sent them to me for my table settings:

Don’t they look sweet?

I had set the table like this:

And then I remembered we were also having butternut squash bisque, so I had to re-do my settings to add the bowl – oops!

The little guys had to move to the chargers:

Here is the aforementioned pork loin; it was so moist and yummy!

And the bisque, which I will be enjoying later:

We have a silicone mold that we used for the cornbread:

They turned out so cute, little leaves and pumpkins.

Huge biscuits, gingery honey carrots, and the sweet potato/marshmallow casserole in the back:

We also had delicious turkey breast made by my in-laws, stuffing and gravy, green bean casserole, spicy lentils (kind of random, but I made them last year and people liked them), garlic mash, sweet potato medallions with caramelized walnuts, and I am sure I am forgetting more stuff, but it was all yummy and most of it was made by my awesome husband. Our cousin J brought a fabulous veggie basket with all sorts of goodies, including my favorite olives from Trader Joe’s.

We had a great time, and the boys had a blast playing with their cousins. We have big bellies and happy hearts. I hope your thanksgiving was a great one!

Lego Birthday Party

My youngest turns six today. We celebrated on Sunday with a small birthday party in the theme of his choosing — Lego Dinosaurs. I did a simple invite based off the Dino Lego website, using the Legothick font I downloaded for free:

The day was beautiful, a little warm for my (arctic) taste, but my in-laws lent us their canopies and we had a great time chatting in the backyard and watching the kids play.

For the cake, we chose to do a Lego brick cake — actually two, since I made one chocolate and one vanilla cake. My son’s choice was blue frosting on his vanilla cake, so I made the buttercream, too. First time, and I think it tasted pretty good. The chocolate cake was covered in green buttercream. We had liquid food coloring at home so I used that, but it took so much coloring to get the shade I wanted that I think next time I will use gel food coloring. My son saw the blue buttercream and gave it a thumbs up. Then he tasted some and wanted to eat the whole container so I had to refrigerate it for a while ;D

A couple of friends suggested Ding Dongs for the Lego studs on the cake:

Here’s my sweet Alex blowing out the candles:

It worked out perfectly that I made a six-stud brick and he was turning six, I just stuck a candle into each, uh, Ding Dong stud. Man, that sounds bad, huh? lol

For the piñata, my husband made a fabulous, Alex-sized version of one of the Lego Dino wranglers:

Here you can see the “model” on the shoulder:

Clothing details:

It’s alive!

My husband gazes at his creation one last time before the kids go at it!

Alex with his piñata:

After the carnage, my oldest made sure to save the head for our future “trophy room” — seriously, we have saved the heads off a few piñatas and costumes, and I told my husband we should mount them on the wall the way others mount moose and tiger heads :D

Hope you’ve enjoyed looking through our Lego party – have a great Tuesday!

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Superhero Birthday Party – Masks & Capes

Our original plan had been to make fabric masks and capes for the kids so they could be “superheroes” all afternoon — but then my husband decided to shape foam sheets into masks and off he went, making a ton of them in a variety of colors and shapes.

This one was my favorite:

I loved the sparkly rose gold color and the heart shapes!

My son chose this one:

Here he tries on another mask for size:

The kids loved choosing a mask and cape and wore them throughout the party – here are some of them during the piñata gorefest (not really). I made a few capes in different colors, and my son requested his be longer, and I added his initial on the back.

It was fun to see the kids trying to decide which color mask or cape to wear, it was a very important choice ;D

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Our New Year’s Day Brunch

The sixth (out of six) event we hosted this holiday season was a brunch to celebrate the first day of the new year.

We made it a potluck, with us providing pancakes and waffles, coffee and tea, and people bringing whatever else they felt like enjoying. We had a great turnout and many delicious goodies.

The living room mantel had been de-holiday-ed and has a pared down appearance:

Our brunch set up included this fun printable from eighteen25:

Hutches ready with drinks and platters for yummy goodies:

Glitter is always appropriate:

The food people brought was amazing:

The sausage on the top left plate was delicious. Oh, there’s none left. Yeah, it was epic, and it was gone the moment I would bring more out. Our friend J made it himself and I tell you, I usually HATE breakfast sausage, but this was fabulous.

My mother-in-law brought fresh fruit, which was the healthiest thing we had all day:

Auntie L brought this amazing gorilla bread:

Picture us diving in like raging beasts and pulling back with our pieces, leaving only a few nuts and crumbs on the plate.
She also brought yummy muffins and pumpkin bread. Oh man, inviting Auntie L is a dangerous thing, she is a fantastic baker.

We provided pancakes and waffles, and our friends S&C lent us their Mickey Mouse waffle maker:

Our friend K and her family brought bacon and ingredients for a yummy hash. Then she told me to leave my kitchen:

See that huge knife she has?

Yeah, I left.

But then she brought this out so I figured I’d been made to leave my kitchen for a good reason:

Our friends J&M brought eggs, freshly made whipped cream, and a yummy berry compote. Our other friend S was seen scooping up a huge spoonful of whipped cream and dumping it in her coffee. We all just smiled and nodded. S brought us homemade mulled wine, which we can’t wait to try, and many people brought sparkly wine and OJ for mimosas.

There’s no further pics because I was eating like a pig for the rest of the brunch. That, and making sure K didn’t have a knife in her hand anymore.

My dear friend M and her kids (her son is friends with my oldest) came over, which made for a nice end to our brunch. Then my husband started playing Lonely Island videos on the TV while the kids were playing outside. One little girl made it back inside and her dad promptly took her back outside so her tender ears would not be corrupted by our choice of entertainment.

My boys were still getting Christmas gifts, I swear, we are all severely spoiled. The final brooch on the perfect day we had was my friend M coming back to drop off some homemade posole for my dinner. I tell ya, we have awesome friends.