I have to say that Halloween is not my favorite holiday. I actually really hate how gross everything is. This year when we went to pick out the kid’s Halloween costumes, we stood at Party City for an hour staring at the costume wall. Either the costumes were totally whack or they were super gory. I’m just not going to have my 5-year-old walking around the neighborhood in something with fake blood splatters. I also don’t love the overtly themed Halloween songs they play every year. Sure, you have to hear Monster Mash, but I’d rather listen to something with a Halloween vibe, that is still good music.
Here are some of my fave songs that I made in to a Halloween playlist for your listening pleasure. It’s a little moody and melancholy with a few goth influences. But your ears will still like it. I’m sure of it.
Every time my kids finish a container of milk my head spins. Those containers have got to be good for other things. I know they can be recycled but they can be so much more useful than that. So I decided to make some of the plastic milk jugs in to planters. And I decided to take my older son with me when I went to the master, his grandfather, to learn the best way to replant plants, since I have the blackest thumb possible. I figured we could keep at least a few of these containers out of a landfill and teach myself and my son something that could come in handy later. Both of my kids have expressed an interest in planting our own food, so this lesson will surely come in to play again. got milk? asked me if I could come up with a craft that would share how milk and healthy habits can be worked in to your everyday living. And I really think these planters do that.
But first we needed a few empty milk jugs. Luckily, this kid LOVES his milk. If he could, he would drink milk for all of his meals instead of eat. I don’t hate that. Milk is full of good stuff that his body needs so he gets it for each meal and one snack a day. And before we knew it, we had 3 empty jugs for us to upcycle in to planters.
Grandpa Al runs a nursery out of his back yard and sells cottage garden plants to mom and pop nurseries in and around Orange County (read this great article the Register wrote about him). So when it comes to anything with plants, he is the man. We brought over our plastic milk jugs and he and my son got to work turning what would have been trash in to something useful. I had wanted to plant some herbs, as I really enjoy using them in cooking, but Grandpa Al doesn’t grow herbs. And while he used to grow heirloom vegetables, he has since changed his focus to cottage flowers. I decided that since I’m such a gardening novice, I would let him show us with his regular plants and then my son and I will be able to purchase some herbs and create an herb garden together. Continue reading →
If you’ve noticed, I’ve begun sharing my favorite local (Orange County, CA) spots every other Friday here on the blog. You may want to check out all my posts tagged Orange County, to see where else I have been!
Today I’m sharing about my first time at Brio, one of the new restaurants at The Irvine Spectrum. The Spectrum is like my second home. It is close by, has great shops and restaurants and fun stuff to keep the kids entertained. When I saw that some new restaurants were opening up I couldn’t wait to try them out. So when I won an Instagram contest run by the Spectrum which included dinner at Brio, I was pretty dang excited.
The contest was in conjunction with Style Week OC and included myself and my best friend getting our hair blown out at My Blow LA. It was so awesome to get a little pampering done. And I only had one minor heart attach when I realized they probably weren’t using a sulphate free shampoo which can cause a Keratin treatment to wear off sooner. And it was kind of funny to watch the gal try to curl my hair. Since the treatment pretty much straightens your hair, albeit pretty temporarily, it would not take the curl when she tried to use a curling iron. My hair basically laughed at it. We finally got some curl with the straightening iron technique though.
Next we got to sit front row at the fashion show featuring clothes from some of the stores from the Spectrum. It was fun and I saw plenty of things I wanted to run off and buy.
And then it was time for Brio!! The restaurant seems HUGE. And it was quite loud. It seems like a great place to go when you have a large group of people who want to get together for dinner. I would have preferred it to be a little bit less noisy, but our visit was during peak hours on a Friday night so I can’t really complain. They were running a wait, but since we had reservations, we were seated fairly quickly. You guys this, as well as the other new restaurant Del Frisco’s Grille, seem to be a hit. Both are always busy and they are great new additions to the mall (I’ll share about Del Frisco’s soon! Spoiler alert, I love it too!) The restaurant design is inspired by a Tuscan Villa and is warm and inviting. I can’t wait to dine out on their patio too. I love the fabric they chose for their outdoor chairs.
The Brio menu is not huge but has something for everyone. The menu is based on northern Italian cuisine and has tons of lighter options for those not looking to consume thousands of calories in one meal. But if you are looking for a super satisfying, hearty comfort food style dish, they have those too. And their bread basket came with this crazy yummy flatbread that made my heart and my mouth happy.
We started off with the Bruschetta Quattro, featuring four different combinations, that was super tasty. We pretty much inhaled this and I would totally order this again.
And for our main course, we decided to share two entrees. The kitchen split them up for us which was super nice of them and made it really easy to try two things that both sounded amazing. On the left is the Gorgonzola Crusted Beef Medallions served with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. And on the right was the Sweet Potato and Chicken Risotto. Both dishes were fantastic! I would recommend both of them. But now I need to go back and try out some more things that stood out to me on the menu.
To end our night, we tried out the Torta di Cioccolata, which is a warm chocolate cake served with vanilla bean gelato and the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Mousse. Both were crazy good. I could have eaten about 2 gallons of the peanut butter mousse. The presentation of all the dishes was great and we enjoyed every part of our Brio experience.
Aside from the wonderful food, the staff and service were super friendly and accommodating. I’m absolutely looking forward to another visit.
I was not required to share my visit as part of the contest but I enjoyed everything so much that I wanted to. All opinions are my own and in my opinion, this place is great! Have you been yet?
Carved watermelon. I bet that wasn’t the first thing to pop in to your head when you were planning your last party, was it? But it totally should have been. Pumpkins aren’t the only things that you can carve. And carved watermelons make really great party decor and signage. These can be made ahead of time, really they SHOULD be made ahead of time. But they are quite easy and will be the star of the show.
I asked my friend Carole to create one for our pajama party in Palm Springs. And then, of course, I forgot to print out the phrasing before I left for the trip. But that really didn’t matter. Carole was still able to carve the watermelon. You will need a watermelon, some simple carving tools – her’s were for carving or cutting clay and purchased from the local art supply store, and the image or words that you want to carve. If you want a specific font, you can easily just print out the words on standard computer paper, just try to make sure that the words will fit on the size watermelon you bought.
Using the straight tool, (I’m going to be honest, I have no idea what any of the tools are called. This one is sharp on the end but straight, sort of like a straight pin but a little bit thicker) begin to poke holes in the watermelon all around the outline of the words. Many pumpkin carving books use a similar technique.
So here you can see the dots that you can then connect to shape the letters and words.
I really love this idea for signage at parties. You can use them on buffet tables, as centerpieces, just about anywhere. And it works not only with words but also with images. Carole has carved some pretty amazing things in watermelons.
Next, you will use the tool that looks a little bit like a tunnel or a “u”. With it, you will follow along your dotted line scooping out the speckled green skin. You do not need to go very deep in to the watermelon. You just want to remove the hard outer skin.
While it might take a few minutes to do, it is really easy. Once you are done, you want it to have a chance to dry out a bit. We left this one out overnight and by the next morning, it looked like the first image in this post. The carved out portion turns a little bit lighter and it makes the words pop. Aren’t they fantastic!
This carved watermelon above was the first one Carole carved for me for an outdoor movie photo shoot I did a really long time ago. It shows perfectly how watermelons can live on past summer and slide right in to fall. (this last image is by Sadie James Photography). I feel like this is how I want to carve my pumpkins this year too. Just think of all the creative designs you could do! I’m so grateful to have creative friends who are willing to share their talents with me! Thank you, Carole!
I knew I liked this Sauder cabinet when my husband first put it together. But I’m realizing it is even more awesome than I originally thought. It is crazy versatile and fits in just about any room in my house. I recently had my husband help me move it in to the bedroom. The colors work perfectly and it is now used as a place to store all his business supplies. He recently started a small business with a partner and our house has had stuff everywhere. We rarely eat at our dining room table anymore so I knew that this cabinet would be perfect to hide all that clutter. Can’t wait to share his company with you all soon! You are going to love it!
This is where the cabinet was before. I still really love the idea of putting the cabinet back in this location and instead of using it as a bar area, like I originally did, keeping it as the supplies cabinet. This will actually be closer to where he is conducting business and provide a place for me to set my keys and sunglasses in between school pick ups. I also need it back in the living room because otherwise, I have very few places to put Halloween decorations. I’ve got a neon green skeleton man who needs a home!
But sometimes this cabinet needs to be in my work space off my kitchen. One of the key selling points of the cabinet for me was the faux marble top. It provides a great surface for photographs so I move in here from time to time to get some work done.
I can’t believe how perfectly this piece fits in this bedroom nook. It is out of the way and is a great place to keep all of my husbands supplies without them being strewn all over the house. It is also a great place to display one of my father-in-law’s paintings.
This desk caddy keeps all my husband’s supplies tidy and easy to get to. I’m just wondering how long it will be until all of those pens go missing. My kids love to draw and I know once they realize these are here, they will be “borrowing” them all the time.
I didn’t want to add too many knick knacks so this space can remain really user friendly, so I added two small cacti, one wood, one real. It adds a nice little decorative touch without being frilly.
And I moved my husbands catch-all tray from his nightstand to this cabinet so he can grab it even easier as he heads out the door in the morning. The color of the tray goes really well with the faux marble and it is small so it doesn’t take up too much space.
These ridged sides really add a nice design element to the room as well. Between the great shape of the legs and this cool texture on the sides, this cabinet is not typical and is really great looking.
Which is why it also works so well as a prop for my blog posts. I try to plan my editorial calendar ahead of time so when I shoot things, I usually have a few different crafts or recipes to do all at once. This cabinet makes it super easy for me to have everything close by so I can be super efficient and get a lot of posts done at once.
Although the cabinet doesn’t look that big, the inside shelves are really spacious and can hold a ton of stuff. When I had this cabinet set up as a bar it always shocked me just how full of stuff it was!
And the marble-esque top is a perfect backdrop for photos. It isn’t so shiny that I get reflections off of it and the colors are subtle but pretty. I set it in front of my white photo backdrop and it is a great spot to shoot things, especially cocktails.
I am SO glad I didn’t pick the chair that I had my eye on! This Sauder cabinet has been awesome and no matter where we decide to keep it, it will be perfect for our house. The best part was that the price was super reasonable and I have half a mind to order another one so I can put them in the living room AND the bedroom! This piece is so versatile which is one of the reasons I love it so much. You can check out my Pinterest board for versatile furniture that can be found on the Sauder site to find more pieces that I think would be easy to use in multiple places in my house.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sauder. The opinions and text are all mine.