Patio Decor Ideas

Colorful patio decor  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThe weather in sunny southern California allows us to pretty much sit outside year round.  And it’s killing me that my family doesn’t have a ridiculously cool outdoor set up to chill out in.  Next week I’m sharing my little outdoor oasis that my husband put together for me for Mother’s Day, but my dream fresh air experience has tons of bright patio decor.  In my opinion, you can’t have too many colors.  I’d take my wine, magazines and a patio playlist to my al fresco living space and relax all weekend long.  Here are some more great patio decor ideas for my dream patio:

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Clean Eating Recipes

Roasted veggie farro salad.  So yum!  // I found myself in a really crazy, unhealthy spot a month ago.  I was concurrently taking antibiotics for a sinus infection, along with steroids for said infection, a muscle relaxer for a strained muscle and had a pain shot for the pain from said strained muscle which I was instructed not to take with my headache pill because they would not react well together.  I looked at all of that and just stopped.  I don’t want to be taking all of that.  It just shows how unhealthy my whole life is.  I don’t fault the doctors for just layering all of that on, they can’t be the only director of our health at this point.  Gone are the days where they truly care about our overall health and focus more on the ailment at hand.  Which leaves us to be the controller of our temple.  And my temple was falling apart.  In conjunction with Andrea’s challenge, I decided that I need to make some changes in my life.  And I’m starting with food.  I attribute all my cellulite to processed foods and see that my kids are consuming an awful lot of junk food in our crazy, busy life.  So while I am not going whole hog (I refuse to throw away the food that is in my freezer and cupboard simply to start over – there is far too much money invested in that to throw it away), I am changing our meals a little at a time and taking this time to really learn about clean eating.  My kids don’t love it but they are trying.  My husband is totally on board.  And I have to say, aside from trying to get in enough protein to keep me feeling full, the food has been delicious!  I wanted to share a few of the things I have made recently with you.  So feel free to change these up to suit whatever your diets needs or flavor preferences are.  And not all of these recipes might not be the cleanest as written, I know I can modify them to be.

Fantastic Clean Eating Recipes

This cold, roasted veggie farro salad is AMAZING!  I brought this to a barbecue and everyone loved it.  I was able to make most of it the day ahead so it is a great entertaining recipe.  I left the cheese out of mine but served it for anyone else who wanted it.  And the leftovers were fantastic too!

A strawberry vinaigrette?  Yes!  SO good!  Perfect on baby spinach and chicken and whatever.  I have not made her whole salad recipe as she has it in this post, I just wanted to try out the dressing recipe for my son who doesn’t like salads.  This didn’t make him like salads.  But it made me love this dressing.

I’ve been addicted to popcorn because I get snacky and feel like it is probably a pretty safe, clean bet.  Well, probably better than cheetos.  I have not tried this Sea Salt and Coconut Popcorn recipe yet but it seems like the perfect snack when you need a little treat.

I made this strawberry chia seed jam to replace the hopped up stuff I had been putting on my kid’s sammies.  Chia seeds are amazing.  They sort of congeal making the fresh cooked strawberries not runny but, duh, like jam.  And it tastes amazing!  And it is super easy.  And you can see how you could use all different kinds of berries to make more combos.  Mmmmmmms, maybe a little ginger peach chia jam for my oatmeal?

I have not made this yet but how crazy does this coconut “bacon” sound?  I know it will probably never really take the place of legit bacon but I love coconut and might be another great way to add some texture to salads.  I try not to have too many nuts around the house because of an allergy so sometimes my salads aren’t as well-balanced, texturally speaking.

I’ve started a clean eating board on Pinterest if you want to find more recipes to try out.  And don’t forget to browse Andrea’s site for some REALLY helpful posts on healthy swaps and how to handle the prep involved for making clean eating meals a priority.



My Favorite Thing About Our Christmas Cards

confusing-xmas-cardIf you haven’t seen our Christmas card yet, go check it out here.

My friend, Michelle, sent me this text after receiving our Christmas Card:

“Mommy, how is that bird so big?  How did they get on?  And that mommy and daddy forgot their kids.  Are they on the naughty list?”

This is why we do the cards.  For the reactions.  And this one was the cutest!!

Easy Microwave Applesauce

Microwave Applesauce RecipeThis is one of my favorite recipes.  Ever.  It is so easy and fresh and have I mentioned easy?  I make extra of this Easy Microwave Applesauce so that I have more of it all to myself.  The green apples make it a smidge more tart than normal applesauce which I love.  I usually make it for Christmas dinner.  Well, I make it a day or two ahead so that I don’t have to do anything on Christmas day.  That is reserved for lounging, eating yummy foods and spending time with the family.  I came across a recipe in Martha Stewart’s Every Day Food magazine (which I can’t find online to link to) years ago and have been making it ever since.

ingredients for applesauce recipeI know that Martha got some bloggers in an uproar recently.  I was not one of them.  I don’t totally disagree with some of the things she said.  She is absolutely correct that I don’t test my recipes until within an inch of their life.  If I had a million dollars, a test kitchen and support staff, then yes, I would test my recipes more.  But she is wrong that I am not an expert.  I am an expert in anything I do in my home.  Because that is where I am free to make whatever I do completely my own and put my spin on it.  I choose to share some of those things with my readers to give them inspiration.  If they make one of the recipes that I share and then make their own changes to it, that is amazing.  There is always room for improvement.  Which is why I made Martha’s recipe better.  OH SNAP!

lego-break-while-cookingSo once you have all your ingredients out and are just about to really get going, you are going to need to stop and listen to a Lego set review.  My oldest creates his own themed sets from the Legos he already has.  And then, like his fave, The Brick Show, he goes on.  And on.  And on about the Legos.  This is where you can feel free to make some changes.  Maybe you don’t have someone to requesting your attention and that is ok.  These are the types of things that happen in my “test kitchen.”

peel-and-chop-applesPeel and chop the apples.  Don’t forget to cut two extra apples for your kids.  If you don’t they will take the ones that are meant for your recipe whenever you turn your back.  I’m sure Alexis did the same thing.

add-spices-and-lemonHere is where I go rogue on Martha’s recipe.  I add a bunch of different spices that I love.  Like ginger, and cloves.  I’m sure Martha is clutching her pearls at the mere suggestion.

mash-applesOnce you mix everything together, you cover the dish and put it in the microwave.  About halfway through you mush the apples with a fork.  I like to leave it really chunky though, but this is totally personal preference.

cinnamon-apple-sauceAnd then you eat it.  It is yummy warm but I think it is even better cold.  I know sometimes tone doesn’t transfer well over this here internet and I want to make sure that you all know how much I respect Martha.  She has built an empire, amassing the most talented people under one company.  And you have to respect someone who is comfortable in her cold, sometimes harsh, persona.  She makes no apologies for being who she is.  And while not everyone will like her, and she may make lots of people angry, she is always herself.  As we all should be.

Easy Microwave Applesauce


  • Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cinnamon Applesauce Recipe
  • 6 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into roughly 1/2" chunks
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • 1/16 tsp clove (use more if you like it, but it is a really strong flavor)
  • coarse salt


  1. In a 2-quart microwave safe dish with a lid, combine apples, sugar, lemon juice, spices and salt
  2. Cover and microwave on high until very tender, 10-15 minutes, stirring halfway through
  3. Mash apples with a fork (leave larger chunks for an overall chunkier texture)
  4. Serve warm or cold
  5. Store covered in refrigerator for up to a week.


Gift Guide: Coming Soon!

gift-guide-coming-soon2013Next week I’ll be sharing my gift guides for 2013.  There will be gift ideas for the hostess in your life, the kids and your friends (guys and gals) who are on your buy for list.  And I’ll also be posting my Wishlist, because how else are people going to know what to buy me? ;)  Have a great weekend!