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lets-celebrate-cakes

The Handmade Nest — A Glimpse

Have you heard about the Handmade Nest? I had the opportunity to go to the first ever GNO put on by the Handmade Nest last weekend. It was fabulous!

the-handmade-nest-button-jpg-300x300

The Handmade Nest is an opportunity for bloggers and non-bloggers in Arizona to get together and craft! It was held at the Power Ranch Barn, and let me just say it was the PERFECT venue for this event. There was plenty of room for all the tables, and I did not feel crowded, squished, or claustrophobic at all. :)

It was dark when I got there (it started at 7 p.m.) so I didn’t get a picture of the outside of the barn, but take a look at a portion of the inside:

inside-of-barn

This is only about half the room; there were a number of additional tables set up to the left that aren’t pictured here. Also, I have to mention, there was a nice & big bathroom located on the east side of the room. (I know it’s funny to mention a bathroom, but when you have that many women gathered for an evening…it’s nice to have that close by!)

When I first got there, I had to check out the giveaway table:

giveaway-table

Just look at all that loot! They had amazing sponsors like Riley Blake Fabric (love them!), Downeast Basics, My Minds Eye, The Ribbon Retreat, DecoArt, Wood Connection, Vintage Rose Wraps, Petite Party Studio, Rod Works, and so many more awesome companies! And you may not believe this, but I WON something:

what-i-won

A gift card to Downeast!! I was so excited…I may have screamed out loud. :)

Then I was drawn to an amazing display on the north side of the room….the CAKE BAR!

cake-bar

Petite Party Studio and Inspired Sugar have done it again…a FEAST for our eyes!! Those cakes are amazing…and I love the logo made out of fondant on the middle cake. It looks perfect! Those fondant flowers on the other cakes are so cute. And look at that amazing burlap runner with ruffles to match the theme.

cake-bar-2

I just love all the banners on the cakes, too. See the sticks used behind the cakes as a backdrop? Perfect for the “Nest” theme. They had many flavors of cakes at the party…like pumpkin chocolate chip and vanilla with raspberry filling. Yum.

When they started the evening, we got instruction and got to crafting! I chose to make the “Nest” boards. There were 4 equally amazing crafts you could pre-order to make. My husband asked what we were going to do with “Nest” boards…and I said, “imagine how cute these would be with an Easter vignette…” and  he said, “Well, I guess we could re-arrange the letters to say TENS or SENT…”  Yeah, I’m pretty sure they will be re-arranged every time I walk by them! :)

what-i-made

take-a-break-for-cake

While my boards were drying, I took a break for cake. I had the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cake and it was SO good. I’ve tasted a lot of cake in my decades of living…and this one just MIGHT be in my top 10! Really…it was that good. (Thank you, Inspired Sugar) I heard the other flavors were delicious, too. In the interest of fair reporting, I just may have to taste all the flavors next time and share my findings with you. 😉

I met some fun new people. I think one of the perks of going to these types of events alone is that you are kinda forced to meet new people. Even though I am sometimes a little shy, one of my goals for the night was to meet another blogger or two.

blogging-friends

Here’s Melanie from Reasons to Skip the Housework and Valerie from Occasionally Crafty. (Sorry, Kaitlyn, only a part of your shoulder made it in this picture!) I was lucky enough to sit by them! And they made these cute signs…which was one of my top choices for the night. (BUT since my husband was recently in a bicycle accident I decided against this one) Now that I see how cute they turned out, I’m wishing I opted for this craft as well!

Thanks to all the brilliance of the event coordinators:

Rebecca from The Crafted Sparrow
Kelli from Lolly Jane
Katie from Sweet Rose Studios
All the crafts were too cute and it was so difficult to choose!

Take a look at what we got in our swag bags! A necklace from The Crafted Sparrow (fantastic Rebecca!) and a Vintage Rose Wrap (beautiful, Katie!)

If you missed it this year, think about going next year! It was completely awesome. I’ll meet you there?

lets-celebrate-cakes

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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the-strawberries

Carlsbad Farmer’s Market – A Feast for your Eyes

Do you like fresh fruits and vegetables?! Well today I have quite a treat for you. I am taking you with me on a virtual tour of the Carlsbad Farmer’s Market in California! Ready, here we go.

carlsbad-farmers-market

I’ve been visiting San Diego since I was a kid, but I only found out about the AMAZING Farmer’s Markets they have over there just this past year. I can’t believe I’ve been missing all this goodness! Our last trip was just a few weeks ago and I really wanted to visit the San Diego farmer’s market, but we couldn’t make it on Saturday. Then I found out there are farmer’s markets all over Southern California on just about any day of the week (check out the list here). So on a beautiful Wednesday, we headed over to Carlsbad and found this little gem of an outdoor market.

cherry-tomatoes

Just take a look at these beautiful cherry tomatoes! There are quite a few pictures, so just take a deep breath and enjoy the amazing color and variety available here:

the-tomatoes

green-onions

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Radishes, Turnips and Zucchini.

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I loved the variety: lots of beautiful flowers, organic eggs, mushrooms (types I’ve never seen before!), pastas, and candied almonds.

pile-o-veggies

Isn’t it fun to look at piles o’ veggies? I love the produce department at the grocery store, but these organic, locally grown vegetables are just so beautiful!

the-herbs

There were herbs like dill, parsley, cilantro, thyme and basil. And you could even take home your very own strawberry plant!

the-grapes

the-plums

Plums, nectarines, and peaches galore!

the-peaches

what-we-got

We found some goodies that we just couldn’t leave without. Flowers, kettle corn, strawberries, peaches, fudge, and Cheesecake in a cup (it was divine!)  I know, I know, it’s all the sweet stuff…but we are on vacation here! Plus, we had already purchased our carrots, beets, celery, apples, kale and other delicious veggies to juice at the local organic market.

I hope you enjoyed this short tour of the Carlsbad Farmer’s Market. I’ve been to a lot of farmer’s markets and this just might be my favorite one to date!

the-strawberries

Oh, and before you go…did I mention they had seafood too? Come back this week to see my absolute favorite (and simple) way to grill up market salmon. We like this preparation because it tastes as good (or better) than any salmon we’ve ever ordered at a restaurant! See you then. :)

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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boys-looking-at-flowers

Botanical Garden at Balboa Park

I have a great little vacation tip for you the next time you are in San Diego. And it’s *free! I love a family-friendly-and-free place to visit while on vacation. It’s the Botanical Gardens at Balboa Park.

botanical-gardens-at-balboa-park

This amazing garden has so many varieties of plants and flowers…some I’ve never even seen before. Take a look at how amazing this atrium is, too…all made of wood. It’s actually one of the largest lath structures in the world!

the-aviary

It was built in 1915 and it’s an amazing historical must-see building. There are enormous trees and plants growing, like giant ferns and this elephant leaf plant (I may have named that plant just now):

giant-ferns

elephant-plants

G was enthralled with it. And he also loved the polka dotted plants. He asked me to take a picture especially of him sitting next to them in his “I made this plant” pose. Hey, I don’t make this stuff up…that was his instruction to me! (Love this kid!)

i-made-this-plant

I do almost* believe he made that plant…with that pose there. 😉
Take a look at some of the other beautiful plants to see at the Botanical Garden.

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This place just might be a little magical. It’s a perfect garden for kissing (at least G thought so).

best-place-for-kissing

There’s a spot near the back of the garden that is growing an “Allspice” Tree and the bark smells so good…just like Allspice!

The boys especially enjoyed the “smelling garden” that had a number of plants and herbs that you could touch and smell. There was mint and basil, lemongrass and one that smelled like cinnamon. Even a plant that my husband thought smelled like dish soap!

smelling-garden

There’s the boys smelling and touching the “smelling garden” plants! So entertaining. We probably could have stayed there for quite some time if a *little someone* didn’t need to use the bathroom! Ah, the life of traveling with kids, right? :)

boys-looking-at-flowers

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the Botanical Garden at Balboa Park. Check out the tour of the Flower Fields at Carlsbad, too.

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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back-to-school-fonts

Back to School {free} fonts!

I’ve received lots of requests for the fonts I’ve used for my snack parties and back to school treats. So I thought I’d put together a post of some of my favorite Back To School fonts that you can get for free!

back-to-school-fonts

Just click the links below to find out where to get the fonts:

1) SchoolScriptDashed

2) Penmanship Print

3) Ostrich

4) Susie’s Hand

5) Another Typewriter

6) Cinnamon Cake

7) Varsity Regular

8) BlackJack

9) Learning Curve Pro

10) Good Dog

Love ’em! Happy Back to School season!

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 1 }
doritos-pict

Taste Test Tuesday — Chips for dipping

It’s Taste Test Tuesday! I love this day. And today I am reporting on our taste test for TORTILLA CHIPS.

tortilla-chips-taste-test

Here are the Tortilla Chip Contestants:

1) Santitas
2) Food Club
3) Doritos
4) Mission
5) Tostitos

This was a “blind” taste test. I numbered the bowls for each brand of chips #1-5. Then all the judges took one (or more) of the chips in each numbered bowl.

When I first tried all the chips, I liked them all. But we had some judges who are true “chip conneseuirs” and took this taste test VERY seriously. You may be just like me and not really care about a dipping chip…but many judges INSISTED that there is a big difference in chips and that you’ll be much happier with a truly delicious chip.

In fact, my sister and brother-in-law had already done some chip research for me and told me to make sure to include a couple brands of chips in this particular taste test. (Thanks Wendi & Kevin!)

We started out just trying the chips alone, then added homemade salsa to the mix. And most of the judges agreed on the TOP TWO chips. Care to make any guesses?

Here are the WINNERS:

first-and-second-place-winners

First, Santitas and
Second, Tostitos!

Interestingly enough, these two chips are very similar AND they are both made by Frito-Lay in Texas!  I was actually happy to learn that Santitas chips are very similar to Tostitos, but they cost much less (see the bag: $2 only!)
(Note: Doritos are also made by Frito-Lay, but they are only available in a yellow corn chip; Most judges liked the white corn chips better).

doritos-pict

I always like to include a generic brand (ie: inexpensive) for each taste test. In this case, our generic brand did not fare so well.
Last place: Food Club & Mission. Judges reported that Food Club chips were “bland” and “boring.” They reported that Mission chips were “too thick” and “too crunchy/tough.”

{A BIG thanks to all the judges for this taste test!}

So, dear readers, let me know what are YOUR favorite tortilla chips. And comment if you have any suggestions for future taste tests you’d like to see.

Until next time…

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 2 }
mini-souffles-with-choc-sauce

Taste Test Tuesday– Chocolate Souffle vs. Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

It’s a great day. Not only is it Taste Test Tuesday, but my Dad is here for a visit! I knew that there needed to be CHOCOLATE for him. And he agreed to be a taste test panelist. (I may have gotten my love for taste tests partially from my Dad…we have been doing taste tests at home ever since I was a kid!)

So this is a special edition of Taste Test Tuesday. The taste test results will be posted next week, but today I am sharing the recipe for “Foolproof Mini Chocolate Souffles with Sauce.” Oh. My. Goodness. These little souffles are amazing. I got this recipe a couple years ago from my co-worker, Aubrey. (Hi, Aubrey!) And I’ve made them only a few times for special occasions, but these are some of the easiest and BEST Chocolate Souffles I have ever eaten!

mini-souffles-with-choc-sauce

I’m going to challenge these homemade Souffles to a taste test versus  homemade Chocolate Molten Lava Cake! (I’ll share this recipe next week.) The Chocolate Molten Lava Cake is a favorite recipe of my daughter, Amber. (Hi, Amber!) They are both amazing recipes that I honestly don’t know which one will be crowned the winner!

I will have some more pictures and results for you next week. Until then, try this Chocolate Souffle Recipe. You’ll either be glad you did, or you’ll be cursing me for sharing such a tempting dessert that you crave weekly! :)

Foolproof Mini Chocolate Souffles with Sauce

 

Foolproof Mini Chocolate Souffles with Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients

  • ½ cup sugar + 4 teaspoons for coating
  • 8 squares (8 ounces semisweet chocolate)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 400°.  Lightly rub four individual soufflé dishes with butter.  Put 1 teaspoon sugar in each dish, and tilt the dish so that the buttered surfaces are covered with sugar.  Use more sugar if necessary.  Set aside.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a heavy frying pan over very low heat, stirring constantly.  When the chocolate is almost melted, turn off the heat and set aside to cool.  The heat of the pan will melt the remaining chocolate.
  3. Separate the eggs, putting the whites into a medium metal or ceramic bowl with no traces of grease, and the yolks in another medium bowl.  Set the yolks aside.
  4. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer just until they form stiff peaks.  Do not over beat.  Set aside.
  5. Add the ½ cup sugar and vanilla to the yolks and beat with an electric mixer or a whisk for about 1 minute, or until thick and light yellow.
  6. Add half the melted chocolate to the beaten yolk mixture.  Set aside the rest of the chocolate for making the sauce.  Stir the chocolate mixture thoroughly.  Add the beaten egg whites and fold them together gently with a rubber spatula, turning the mixture over repeatedly until no white is showing.
  7. Pour the mixture evenly among the four prepared soufflé dishes.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the mini soufflés have risen and are beginning to brown.  Remove from the oven.
  8. To Make the Sauce: While the mini soufflé are baking, add the cream to the reserved melted chocolate and stir thoroughly to incorporate, If the chocolate is too firm, heat it for about 1 minute over very low heat, stirring constantly, until it softens enough to combine with the cream.
  9. Unlike most souffles, which must be served as soon as they come out of the oven, these mini souffles can wait to be served for up to 30 minutes. Their tops will fall a little, but no one will notice because, just before serving, you make an incision in the top of each one with a knife, and then spoon in about 2 tablespoons of the warm chocolate sauce. If the souffle hasn't fully cooked, no one will notice, because of the added sauce. Store leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator. (Ha! What leftovers?)
http://www.sunshineinmypocket.com/taste-test-tuesday-chocolate-souffle-vs-chocolate-molton-lava-cake/

 

Chef’s Note:

This recipe may look intimidating, but it is rather simple, with just a few ingredients. And it is Foolproof. The first time I made it (for Valentine’s Day a couple years ago), I left the vanilla out of the souffles, so I added it to the chocolate sauce instead. They still came out delicious…proof: my husband ate TWO of them!

I like to serve mine with a little whipped cream and a strawberry on top, but if you’re a chocolate purist then you can certainly leave this part out!

Tip:

To help get the soufflé dishes out of the oven easily, bake them on a cookie sheet and then simply lift the cookie sheet out of the oven.

You may have noticed that one of the choices I categorized this under was “Inspiration”…if you are in need of a little inspiration, I’m convinced that these souffles will do the trick. Chocolate can be very inspirational, right?! 😉

I can’t wait to post the results. Until then, Enjoy every bite!

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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veggies-piled-up

Hot Pink Breakfast Drink weekly prep (in four easy steps!)

prepping-for-a-week-of-juicing

Just look at that pile of veggies! Am I the only one who LOVES to look at vegetables (and fruits)…they are so inspiring and colorful and happy!

I love to make veggie juice (Hot Pink Breakfast Drink) each morning, but sometimes my mornings are a little hectic! So, I found a way to prepare every week. It’s simple. And it requires only a little time.

1) Get all the veggies/fruits together.

2) Spread out 6-7 grocery bags

3) Place required amount of each ingredient in each bag

4) Stock them up in your refrigerator

Now, it’s just grab and go!

packed-in-grocery-bags packed-in-refrigerator

How’s that for easy! So each morning, I just select one bag, wash up my veggies, juice, and drink!

What makes your mornings easier?

veggies-piled-up

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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single-glass-hot-pink-breakfast-drink

Hot Pink Breakfast drink recipe

I can’t believe I am just now posting about my breakfast drink! When I started this blog, I initially thought it would be about wellness and what has helped me to feel better (after a prolonged illness).  HA! I found out that I enjoy baking, cooking and crafting WAY too much and this blog has really turned into more of showcasing my love of fancy and fun.

But I can’t ignore this Hot Pink Breakfast Drink because it is a big part of my life. This juicing every morning has been one of my routines for over a year and it has made a BIG difference in how I feel. In fact, I notice such a difference on the days that I DON’T make this juice for myself that I hate to miss even a day! I even took my juicer to California with me…(LOVE those Farmer’s Markets over there!)

Juicing is known to assist in detoxing the body and feeding your cells with all sorts of nutrients. It is SO good for getting maximum veggies into your diet. But I admit, when I first started I did NOT like the juice. It tasted like dirt. I was not happy.

But then I was introduced to this recipe…and I’ve been drinking it every morning since.

glasses-of-hot-pink-breakfast-drink

So I’m going to share this little recipe with you. I know, I know…you  may never try it and that’s ok. But if you decide to try it in the hope of helping you to feel better, let me just say this: you have to stick with it for a few weeks. Really. Did I mention that juicing is detoxifying? Well, the first little while your body will want to detox and you will not feel so great. But that means it’s working! So stick with it, and after a few weeks just see if it makes a difference in how you feel.

Don’t let the color fool you. This is mostly a VEGETABLE drink…it’s not a fruit smoothie! I took some of this over to some friends to taste one morning and because it’s such a beautiful color they may have thought it was going to taste like raspberries. It didn’t. And they hated it. (Hi Kristy, Shellie, & Kara! Shall we try this again…Can I bring it to our next meeting?!)

the-veggies

It starts with carrots, celery, kale, beet, apple, red cabbage, and oranges. Sometimes I add spinach or lettuce. But mostly it’s the veggies shown. The exciting part is that we now grow our very own cabbage and kale!! I think we shall try growing beets, too! And the oranges come from our trees! (In fact, if you’re not into juicing, maybe these orange blossom cookies will hit the mark?) When oranges aren’t in season, I will add a bit of lemon juice.

prepping-the-veggies

I start by cutting off the ends of the carrots and celery, cutting the apple if it’s too big to fit in my juicer, and removing the orange rinds. Be sure to first wash everything well. I buy nearly everything organic, but I haven’t been able to find organic apples so I wash those with GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract) to remove as much pesticide residue as I can.

the-juicer-breville

I have a Breville juicer with 2 speeds. And here’s a trick: put a produce bag in the container to catch all the “pulp,” it makes clean-up so much easier!

juicing-the-veggies-5-picts

And, just that fast, you have delicious, beautiful, veggie-packed breakfast juice! Oh, it’s beautiful. I like mine cold, so I add a bit of ice. And oh, how delicious! (My husband still makes a sour face when he drinks his, though; he may never love it, but he stills drinks it!)

opening-the-top

Take a look at that pulp. This juicer does a great job. I have been experimenting with a few recipes to use that pulp in, and if you are interested I may post a few of those!

We also use this as a compost for our garden. Oh yes, the veggie garden LOVES IT!!

So here’s the recipe! Try it and let me know what you think.

Kari's Hot Pink Breakfast drink recipe

Ingredients

  • 6-7 carrots
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 small beet (or 1/2 of a large beet)
  • 2-3 leaves of kale
  • 2 medium oranges
  • 1 medium apple
  • Slice of Red cabbage

Instructions

  1. Wash everything well. Trim ends off carrots and celery. Cut the zest off the oranges. Cut the apple if it's too big.
  2. Put everything into the juicer.
  3. Add ice to the finished juice, if desired.
http://www.sunshineinmypocket.com/hot-pink-breakfast-drink-recipe/

Don’t forget to clean your juicer right away. It’s a lot trickier to clean once the pulp is dried on (don’t ask me how I know that.) Here’s to your health!

(P.S. Come back tomorrow: I’m going to show you how I prep for the week to make my mornings of juicing go so much smoother. The preparation makes juicing SO easy!)

single-glass-hot-pink-breakfast-drink

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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today-i-plan-to-be-awesome

Dose of Sunshine Monday — Today I Plan to

It’s Monday ALREADY! The weekend seemed to fly by and now it’s time for a fresh new week. Well, I have to admit, today I woke up thinking of all the things that had to be done this week and it was exhausting just thinking of it. Ever have thoughts like that?

So then another thought popped into my head: what if today I just had one plan? So here’s the plan:
today-i-plan-to-be-awesome

And I’d like to remember to appreciate beautiful nature. (This picture was taken at the Amazing Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California. See review and more pictures of the flower fields here.) So it’s two for the price of one today! What are your plans for this Monday? Sending you blessings for an awe-inspiring week!

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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ben-and-jerrys-vanilla

Taste Test Tuesday — Ben & Jerry’s Faceoff

When we go on vacation to the beach it’s tradition to get each of us our very own container of ice cream. And we are very traditional. So this trip was no different. We love to pick out our own ice cream and eat it over the course of the vacation stay.

So of course we decided to turn it into a FACEOFF…and use it as our Taste Test Tuesday. So I must warn you in advance, that this taste test Tuesday is informal and unofficial. We had only my husband & I as the judges and we didn’t attempt to increase the panel (I think we were so into this taste test and we wanted to keep it to ourselves!)

ben-and-jerrys-faceoff

 

The contestants: “Everything but the…VERSUSHalf Baked

Everything but the = A collision of chocolate and vanilla ice creams mixed with peanut butter cups, Heath Bar chunks, white chocolatey chunks and fudge covered almonds.

Half Baked = Chocolate and vanilla ice creams mixed with gobs of chocolate chip cookie dough & fudge brownies.

Wow. Those both sound delicious! Which one would you choose if you had to pick one to enjoy while on vacation?
If you know me at all, it is probably very obvious which flavor was mine. And, while both these flavors were very, very good…there was a clear winner that we agreed upon completely. (And it was MY flavor!)

The WINNER IS:

everything-but-the-winner

Have you even TRIED this flavor?! Yum. I was delighted to finish of the entire carton over the course of a few days. :) Sigh. And now we are on an ice cream break. No more until the next vacation.

What is YOUR favorite flavor? I’m saving up ideas for my next carton choice!

OH, and before you go..if you haven’t seen it yet, check out how Ben & Jerry’s placed in our Vanilla Ice Cream Taste Test here:

ben-and-jerrys-vanilla

 

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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