Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bridal Showers and Cold Brewed Coffee


I was honored to throw a bridal shower last Saturday for Emma's best friend, and my 2nd daughter, Kaitlyn.
Emma and Kait have been besties since 2nd grade!   Now Kait is getting married, and it was such fun to shower her!

I knew an August shower would call for being indoors and sure enough, it was 105 degrees on that day!  Rich and I moved all the furniture out of our family room and set up 5 rectangle tables, plus another one in the living room to accomodate the 48 guests.

I served brunch and kept it very simple.   I made an egg dish, which I fondly call "egg puff."  I'll put the recipe below-- it's one of those "tried and true" ones.  It's so easy to throw together, too. 

I served two salads - one was an arugula salad containing cantaloupe, prosciutto, peas, thin red onion slices, and diced fresh mozzarella.  It was dressed with a sweet balsamic dressing.
The other salad was made with watermelon & tomato.  I know - weird combo - but it was delicious.  On a big white serving plate, watermelon & tomato chunks (all from my garden!) were layered and topped with crumbled feta cheese (TJ's in water is my favorite).  A lovely herb vinaigrette was poured over all --made with fresh garden herbs (tarragon, basil, mint, parsley, and chives), lemon juice, & olive oil.  

Lastly, there was a fruit platter, the bride's favorite Krispy Kreme donuts, and homemade zucchini bread (that's what you make when you have a ton of zucchini!).

Bummer, I was too busy to snap photos of the food... oh well.  I was grateful Emma walked around and took photos for me of the set up.

I used herbs from my garden and some white flowers from TJ's for the table.  I am obsessed with the colored mason jars... I used the purple ones here.   I made lavender scented candles for favors to go with the earthy theme.  Tablecloths were simply painters drop cloths! I love how they look like linen.

 



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I tried something I haven't done before -- a cold brew coffee bar.  I made up a bunch of cold brew coffee (recipe below) and served it with vanilla & caramel syrups (Torani) and a plain organic sugar syrup (homemade).  I put out ice, whole milk, half & half, and almond milk.  I also offered a cold chai tea concentrate (from TJ's) for tea drinkers, and hot coffee for those who would drink it on such a hot day! Guests could fix their own personal favorite.  

Here is the set up before everything went in (again, I was too busy to take a photo of it).    I made signs for the ingredients and used this packet of letters for signs all around.  I like to utilize this hutch in my dining room as a beverage station.  The shelves are a great place for the cups.  The hot coffee is on a small adjacent table as it was kind of tight to fit everything!

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 I love this photo of us with our girls!  When they were growing up, Kathy and I got them together often and we made a fun foursome.  Now we have added baby Darsy!
I'm not sure why she is naked... but isn't she so yummy? 



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I sure adore my baby girl!


Egg Puff
serves 10-12
Ingredients
·         10 eggs
·         1/2 cup flour
·         1 tsp baking powder
·         1/2 tsp salt
·         1 pint (16oz.) small curd cottage cheese
·         3/4 lb jack cheese, shredded
·         1/4 cup butter, melted
·         1-2 cans (4 oz cans) diced green chilies, drained
Directions
1.      Beat eggs until light and lemon colored. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cottage cheese, jack cheese and melted butter, blending smoothly. Stir in the chilies. 
2.      Pour mixture into a well-buttered 9×13 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or center appears firm. 
3.      Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.


Cold Brew Coffee

In a large jar, mix 1 cup medium ground coffee (I used an organic French roast from Costco) with 4 1/2 cups cold filtered water.  Refrigerate 12 hours, then strain with a cheese cloth.  




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Monday, August 10, 2015

Summertime


Since I haven't posted much this summer (sorry Carol)
here's a little recap so far! 

Summer is always a big produce time around our little homestead.  Because of the warm winters the past couple years, the stone fruits have been less abundant.   However, we did get a good crop on one plum tree, about 50 peaches, and over 100 lbs of apples!   I made applesauce, froze apple pie filling for later, and made plum sauce, a favorite.  Also, we give lots away to family and friends!

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Our veggie garden has been great!  We planted about 20 tomato plants (mostly heirloom), yellow and green zucchini, cucumbers, lots of herbs, and our strawberry patch is going strong!  Here's a typical pick a few times a week. 

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This spring, I "retired" from being the Program Coordinator of The Master's Kids, a wonderful mommy-and-me preschool program at our church.  For five years I have been blessed to run TMK, and have enjoyed so many wonderful friendships as a result.   At graduation this year, the moms gave me a generous gift -- time away with Rich at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.  Ojai is a great little town to visit and the Inn is one of the most beautiful and deluxe places you could ever stay.  We enjoyed two days of R & R, wonderful scenery, and delicious food.  Here's our fab villa.

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Below is the gorgeous view from our poolside lounges! 

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Poolside selfie :-)

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 Delicious and beautiful poolside food

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For the second summer, we have hosted two pastor friends as they are doing their doctorates at the Master's Seminary.   Will is from New Jersey and Nicholas from Baton Rouge.  They come for two weeks and it is always so much fun!   After picking them up at LAX this year, we hit the newly opened Grimaldi's Pizza in El Segundo.  If you've ever been to New York you know what Grimaldi's is.  We are so happy to have one in Los Angeles now!  Best pizza!

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I've been into making popsicles this summer.  I purchased this mold and it's fantastic! I wanted one I could make with popsicle sticks (vs. plastic base) so the mold wouldn't be tied up, and this one is perfect.

After making the popsicles, I pop them out, wrap in waxed paper, and store in freezer bags.  That way I can make different kinds and always have a good selection on hand.  The one below is my favorite -- key lime.   It is simply 2 cups organic greek yogurt, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, and 1/3 cup honey.  I mix it all up in the Vitamix and pour into the molds.  Sometimes I sprinkle graham cracker crumbs on top after I pour for the "pie crust."   Rich's favorite is a fudgesicle that I make with coconut milk, raw cacao powder, cinnamon & honey.  There are tons of great recipes on Pinterest.
A healthy and refreshing summer dessert!

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We also remodeled the living room a little!  It had been over 12 years since we last painted, and it was time for a change.   We had a deep khaki green which is now updated to a deep gray.  It looks nice.  We sold our old furniture on Craig's List and purchased two slipcovered Ektorp sofas from IKEA.   I could write a whole post extolling the virtues of Ektorp sofas....  but my top three reasons to buy them are:  1) affordable  2) comfortable  3) machine washable covers!!  They are the simply the best.

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We also painted our mantle white.  
It was a honey colored stain that wasn't too attractive.  :-)
Our fireplace is quite the funky attraction of the room.  We hope to someday remodel it to better fit our ranch home style, but for now a fresh coat of paint hopefully helped a little.

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Mid July we had a great family vacation in San Clemente with the kids!  For the first time, we used VRBO and found a great beach house we could all stay in.  It was a great experience! We had a fabulous 5 days together, hanging at the beach, cooking simple meals at the house, playing corn hole, tennis & Sequence games, and just relaxing & reading. I seriously cried when it was over!

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We had a gorgeous view from the backyard.  
A perfectly placed hot tub made watching the sunsets amazing.

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My girls  :-)  We made the jacuzzi bath temperature for the baby and she loved  it!

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The kids cooking dinner (Emma multitasking!)

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And that little baby sure made the trip lots more fun!
Grammie and Pop sure love our little girlie.  My favorite was waking up to her little coos each morning and all the snuggles.

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Naps on Grammie are the best (for me - and I think Darsy, too!)
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Aunt Nay :-)

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Uncle Drew

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Too bad everyone can't look this cute in a bathing suit. 

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Love our little family!

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After we returned from our trip we (finally) sold our RV.  We've been campers for more than 28 years but now with the grandbaby, the beach house thing is working out much better for us :-)
Farewell... yard hogger!!

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A culinary and fellowship highlight of the summer was lunch at my dear friend Alik's mom's house.   This had been a long time wish of mine to come into Araxy's kitchen and taste all the Armenian specialties that Alik had told me about for so many years.   Just look at this feast she made for us, all from scratch.  
She literally cooked for days!!  

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This was puff pastry with a spinach filling - YUM!
  

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Incredible homemade dolma, plus a lovely creamy tomato salad...

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These veggie patties and meat-filled balls were to die for.

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It was seriously hard to pick a favorite but if I had to I would say the homemade falafel.  Oh.my.word.  Best I've ever tasted. Alik's dad fried it right on the spot, it was so crispy and fresh.  And the tahini sauce ... I could take a bath in.

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Araxy crowned the meal with special Armenian coffee and her homemade baklava (oh and also another un-pictured comforting pudding-like dish made with farina, and topped with pine nuts)  We were STUFFED but it didn't matter.  We ate dessert anyways, and a lot of it.  :-)

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Alik and her mom, Araxy.  She is a woman who loves the Lord and loves others ... what a sweet & generous lady.  And she raised a pretty neat daughter, too.  :-)

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The very privileged guests!!   
We even got care packages to take home.

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Alik's 90 year old grandmother lives with Araxy and she was just the sweetest.  She doesn't speak English but she sure loved our visit and was especially happy to meet/hold baby Darsy.  She melted my heart!
 
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And in case you were wondering, Buttercup's summer has been going well, too.  :-)
She has been in the pool more than us!
She has also enjoyed some outings in the Jeep with Mom & Dad.  
We just introduced her to a local dog park, too.
She's like the new awkward kid at school, but I think she likes it. 

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And Darsy says "I love you" in ASL.  She's brilliant, you know.

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