Archive for the ‘edible joy’ Category

thanks to trader joe’s easy-peasy gingerbread house kit, olive and her friend geeves made their tasty masterpieces.  olive kind of couldn’t believe she could eat it. craft project + candy?! christmas miracle.

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the planets aligned two weeks ago for a perfect evening to celebrate olive’s birthday.  the rain stopped, the mosquito service had visited, bubble wands were prepped and the fridge pickles were pickling!

as a side note, i’ve got to give a BIG, HUGE thanks to my sister, good friend Julie, Aunt Mary Lou, mom and friend Amy for all their incredible help and calming effect.  these lovely ladies arrived early and basically put everything together while i attempted to decompress.  (expecting a toddler to take a nap on the day of their birthday party may have been a silly idea…lesson learned!) and my talented friend, amy, lightened my to-do load by baking up her delicious and beautiful ladybug cupcakes and a lemon curd cake for the adults.  thanks again! birthday angel awards for you all.

these bubble wands were a fantastic hit! not only did it keep the little ones busy so parents could actually hold a conversation, but it kept the teeny tiny issue of not liking to share at bay as each kid got to take a wand home.  

thanks to a living social deal for a mosquito service, friends could wander the yard and check out the garden bite-free!

so great having a special guest at the party…olive’s great aunt mary lou.  she always manages to offer a much needed helping hand and a good laugh to boot! 

nonna and her girls

a pregnant woman’s dream spread: watermelon, pickles, burger fixings, mom’s bean salad and salsa fresca. speaking of burgers…

carter as grill master. delicious job babe!

lily cools off with a refreshing treat!

and, finally, the piece de resistance: 

as crazy as i felt when it started, it was just such a good time.  there’s nothing i love more (except maybe the quiet that surely follows!!) than being surrounded by those i love, eating delicious food and sharing some good laughs. and i can’t think of a better reason to have all of these together, than while celebrating my beautiful girl’s birthday!

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life according…

…to my razzle…or these pictures would be if my phone (yes, it’s called a razzle!) actually took a decent picture, but that’s shooting for the stars when it doesn’t actually let me make a phone call inside my house (man, did i set my expectations too high for that one!)…i digress. so i used my camera as it’s sole purpose in life is to take pictures. unlike our multi-tasking phones. or so i hear.  (can you tell i have smart phone envy?!) anyway, here’s a bit o’ random for this rainy hump day.

good-bye mulberries, hello sun

my birthday dinner from side street cafe. hope’s best with a side of corn and bean salad.  any sandwich that allows you to either double the pimento or add bacon is alright by me. 

olive wearing her finest jewels for a bike ride around the porch:

my garden helper, with her new blue gloves. that girl loves her some blue!

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carter is a huge fan of betty crocker’s classic strawberry shortcake.  every strawberry season you are sure to hear the whirring of our hand-held mixer and smell the scent of these buttery, not-too-sweet cakes baking in the oven.  pure heaven!

(i know…we like our whipped cream. i promise there are a bunch of strawberries under there too!)

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this past Easter i asked to bring the desserts.  one of our traditional treats is a bunny-shaped cake.  this time around, i used Ina Garten’s coconut cake and it was delicious! (not being a fan of almond extract, i subbed in lemon.  a great pairing with coconut!) i had it shaped, iced and coated with a layer of “furry” coconut and then the girls took over the finer details.

cake decorators extraordinaire…

the rest of the spread…

i can never stop with just one dessert…or at least, it’s really difficult for me.  so i added a new recipe from march’s southern living brunch spread. these little vanilla-buttermilk tarts were divine! and so super simple.  i’m a huge fan of vanilla paste now.  (it can be subbed in for vanilla bean and extract which is so convenient and much more affordable!).  speaking of affordable, instead of buying each of these fruits separately, i bought a container of them together from whole foods for around $6.  there was plenty for the tarts and then some.

what we did when not eating:

i’m in love with niece sophie’s belly…

life doesn’t get much better than being surrounded by delicious food and good family!

(thanks to my talented sis for the wonderful photos!)

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i am all about simple recipes lately as i’m not to keen to be on my feet for long.  the side effect of working retail. and being pregnant doesn’t help! i also really love recipes that don’t involve turning the stove or oven on as it’s starting to heat up these days.

this recipe comes from the “i heart trader joe’s cookbook” my sis-in-law gave me.  super simple, very flavorful and quick…as always, thank you trader joe’s (& becky)!


pesto chicken salad

(serves 2-4)


1/4 c. pesto

3 Tbl. red wine vinegar

2 Tbl. olive oil

1 1/2 c. cooked chicken

7 oz. mixed greens

1/4 english cucumber, chopped

1/2 c. shredded carrots

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

salt & pepper

** we nixed the pine nuts…lovely idea but not in our weekly food budget. you could add walnuts or whatever you have on hand, or skip all together like we did.   also, we used fresh spinach from the garden & just made a big bed on our plates…didn’t worry about measuring.  i’m not a huge fan of raw onion, so maybe let folks dish this part out themselves, or serve in a little bowl on the table.  finally, i got a package of trader joe’s chicken tenders and after marinating them in their tuscan italian dressing we grilled them.  had some with the pesto salad and had the rest tonight in a salad wrap.  bellissimo!

back to the recipe…

whisk together the pesto, vinegar, and olive oil.  season to taste with salt and pepper.  toss the chicken with half the pesto mixture.  in a large bowl, combine the greens, cucumber, carrots, and red onion, and dress with the remaining pesto mixture (we just drizzled some on top and saved a little for a future salad/meal).  adjust seasoning to taste.  arrange on a platter and top with the chicken.  sprinkle pine nuts over the salad.

dinner is done! hope you enjoy!

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a couple of weekends ago, i schlepped my family out to durham to deliver around 10 bags of crafty clutter to the scrap exchange.  i have to admit, it was really, really hard to let go.  we’re talking stamps, envelopes, beads, paints, papers, stickers, and tons of “this would be so fun to make _____ with” stuff. but, you know what, as you can imagine, i not only haven’t used it or made it, but i’ve let it sit looming in my closet, attics and bureau making me feel guilty. and not creative.  so out it went and in came a breath of fresh air and possibility!

as a reward for my letting go (and bribery to my family for taking the journey with me), we stopped off for an amazing lunch at foster’s market. highlight of the visit, besides the hot italian sub (with artichokes and all kinds of magic tucked inside!) and the giant chocolate chip cookie we enjoyed on a bench outside…was getting to meet ms. sarah herself.  carter was very cute and raved to her about how much he loves her.  i kept the part to myself where carter said if i wasn’t around he’d marry her. i think she got the picture!

and this is what i get for asking olive to smile.  when will i learn?!

ps. next time i’m totally going for the shredded bbq turkey sandwich with homemade slaw and bread and butter pickles.  it was a hard choice, but i’ll come back for you friend!

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