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Le Diner à San Diego: An Experience!

Posted by on May 28, 2012 | 6 comments

A few months ago I heard about this amazing evening event in San Diego:  Le Diner à San Diego.  It sounded surreal, to say the least.  The location was withheld until hours before it started- and I love a good mystery!  Everyone was to wear white, dress elegantly, and bring a delicious three-course meal to share with friends.  The only thing provided would be tables and a beautiful location (and they also had a bar). I was totally hooked!

My first step was to find someone to go with us.  This proved to be challenging.  I think a lot of friends didn’t like the idea of having to wear all white.  Bummer!  Soon our friends Jen & Brent were signed up, though.  Thank goodness for friends who like an adventure (and wine).

In the days and weeks leading up to the evening I planned texted with Jen and we figured out our menu, talked about what we were going to wear, etc.   Finally, the day arrived.  The location was to be revealed at 3:00.  Our biggest concern:  weather.  It had been chilly the night before, and rainy that morning.   I was determined, however, to make a go of it.

I had visions in my head- it would be elegant, it would be serene.  I would be well-dressed, in heels, even!  Everyone would be nice, we’d make new friends and have lovely chats with Jen & Brent.  It would be like My Fair Lady, only modern.  I would come home with beautiful photos of a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime evening.  I would post on my blog about it, and it would look perfect.

In reality:  we froze our asses off.

It was FREEZING.

The location?  The Embarcadero.  If you’re not familiar with San Diego, this is a beautiful, waterfront park in downtown San Diego.  Ships go by, seagulls fly overhead, and there’s a marina on one side full of luxurious yachts and such.  The San Diego Symphony plays there in the summer months.  It’s gorgeous….when it’s warm.

Jen texted me soon after the location was revealed and said, “Uh…We are gonna freeze our nuts off.”  I remained optomistic.  “I’m from Kansas!” I thought. “How cold could it be?”  It was too late to buy white pants- we were leaving in just a little while as soon as our sweet babysitter, Rosy, showed up.  So, I added some quilts to our pile of stuff and off we went.

As we got there, it was obvious that people were in the same mindset as us:  “We want this to be cool, but it’s DAMN COLD.”  We persevered, though, because this event was just such a neat idea.  Here are some photos.  I took a ton, and then just as we were sitting down to eat my camera crapped out.  Very odd.  Now it’s fine.  Maybe the camera was cold as hell, too.  Some photos of our evening…

 

The view of San Diego from the Embarcadero.  Sort of makes me want a boat.  Sort of,  but without the taxes and dock rental fees.

downtown san diego skyline Le Diner a San Diego

Jen & Brent.  [Jen, your hair looks fine.  It was windy.]  Brent runs a very cool company called Groovy Like a Movie.  He’s rad.

Brent took this with his iPhone.  He was asking Siri questions all night, like, “What’s the temperature right now?”  It was 61.  It felt like it was 45.  I can’t wait for an iPhone 4.  Maybe even an iPhone 5?

There was a competition for best table decor.  I didn’t go too crazy- lots of tables went all out, but I just brought a tea light thing from IKEA (I’ve had it for years, but you can put it in a line, a circle, anything.  12 total- love it.), sea shells, rocks, and a few small vases with freesia.  Simple but pretty.

This drink was lovely.  It had coconut milk and lime in it, and it tasted like a coconut-lime-mojito.  I can’t remember what it was called, but I was hoping a little liquor would warm me up.  It didn’t.  But I still drank the whole thing.

At 7:00 there was a napkin wave to start off the meal.  We were already eating, but it was fun to see everyone in white standing and waving their white napkins.  Very cool.

Jen made appetizers- crostini with tapenade, and shrimp cocktail.  Yum.

I brought a pasta salad for our entree.   This is an iPhone pic, since by this time my camera was done.  Note the portable trash bags in the background- classy, eh?  One of the tenants of the evening was to “leave no trace,” which included taking all of your trash with you.

Brent saw the sun getting lower and all of sudden grabbed my camera.  I thought he disappeared, but then realized he was right next to me.  Cool, huh?

My  man in his dapper hat, drinking Prosecco.  Have you had Prosecco?  We like it better than champagne.  It’s basically the same thing, but it just tastes better.  Props to my dad for introducing it to us.

Be sure to click this photo below- Brent took it with his iPhone 4, and it’s a very cool panoramic shot of our end of the event.  You can really see how neat everything looked.

I’m glad we went to this event- I just wish it had been warmer.  By the time we finished our entrees we couldn’t feel our hands, so we opted to head to Jen & Brent’s for wine and dessert.  I made pots de crème- more about them soon.  Yum.

Thanks to Jen & Brent for being so adventurous.  I love the concept of this event, so I was pleased to receive an email from them the next morning that said they’d see us next year… in the summer.  Right.  Lesson learned.

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Teacher Appreciation Week

Posted by on May 16, 2012 | 5 comments

I love a good Teacher Appreciation Week.  When I was a teacher this week couldn’t come at a better time; it was usually during a crazy, hectic spring-is-insane kind of week, and the parents at our school always did an amazing job of making us feel loved and valued.  I learned a lot of great ideas as a teacher, and now that I am a parent with kids in preschool (and soon-to-be kindergarten) I was excited to shower the teachers at our preschool with some TLC.  Hopefully my ideas will give you some inspiration, too.

My kids go to a local preschool that has a very laid-back feel.  I love it.  There isn’t a lot of fuss about anything- the kids are there to be loved and to learn to love school.  The teachers love what they do.  Can’t ask for much more than that!

In years past, I’ve done a “Thank You Party” for the teachers that taught my kids.  It was really fun, but the longer they are at this school, the more teachers they come into contact with, and hosting an entire staff at my house… well, I do love a good party, but I’m not quite ready for that.  So this year, now that I’m not pregnant or teaching, I decided this is the year to do a real Teacher Appreciation Week.  Here’s what I did to prepare and put it into action!

 

{Prepare}

I emailed our preschool director to get the message out, and she forwarded my email to all of the parents at our school.  I requested that all of the parents let me know if they wanted to help out, contribute money, or whatever was easiest.  I also let everyone know that participation was not required, as I didn’t want to pressure anyone into doing something when they had already planned their own thing.  Very quickly we had a plan, which you’ll see below.

Then I gave a questionnaire to all of the teachers to find out what they like to eat, do, etc.  I thought this would help the parent get to know the teachers and also get everyone excited about the week.  When the teachers filled these out, I compiled them into a simple Word document and emailed it out to the parents to help them with ideas for personal gifts, etc.  Here’s the questionnaire- feel free to download it!  Just click and “save as.”

I also put out sign-up sheets for parents to bring in treats on two days.  One day is for healthy snacks and the other is sweet treats- a little bit of both sides of the spectrum.  To help with costs for decorations and gifts for the directors and cook at the school, I also put out a collection envelope.  This was very helpful- it gave me a budget to work with, and any remaining money can be put towards a gift card to a book store or a place like Lakeshore Learning.  This also allowed super-busy families to contribute and help out without stressing out.

{Action}

The Thursday before Teacher Appreciation Week I passed out this sheet to all of the teachers so that they could know what they had to look forward to for the week.  It’s always fun to know what’s going on and be informed, right?!

 

Monday

Once the plan is in place everything sort of takes care of itself.   The only really involved thing was this past Monday.  Everyone brought in flowers when they dropped off their kids, and we needed to get them into vases so that each room had fresh flowers to enjoy for the week.

I had help from two lovely moms, and another decorated vases for us- they are perfect!  I showed up with an empty bucket and some trimmers for trimming stems.  It took us about an hour to get the flowers removed from their wrappers, separated into 10 bouquets, and trimmed to fit the vases.  I was very thankful for the help- doing it by myself would have taken a few hours.  I also downloaded this adorable bunting from Urban Bliss- I think it was intended to be used as flash cards, but I wanted something cute to hang, so I just punched holes and used some ribbon.  It looks super cute.  I also sewed together some streamers thanks to the amazing Dana.  I made these for Jack’s Party and they will become a staple in our house, for sure.

 

Tuesday

Parents bring in treats.  I was planning on setting them out, but my son, Jack, was sick, so an awesome mom pitched in and set stuff out for me so I didn’t contaminate the food. :)  Thanks, Jessica!

Wednesday

I called our local Jamba Juice and got a great deal on 20 smoothies.  They even gave us a nice discount since we were a) ordering a boat-load of smoothies, and b) it was for amazing teachers.  Score!

Thursday

Parents bring in treats.  Easy!

Friday

I pick up bagels and cream cheese to bring in, and parents bring in their own gifts.  I also bring in gifts for the director and cook of the school.  Hooray for Teacher Appreciation Week!

What do you do during this week for your kids’ teachers?  There’s tons of inspiration on Pinterest, but I’d love to hear what you have done, too!

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DIY Chalkboards {Summertime Fun!}

Posted by on May 9, 2012 | 5 comments

…..

I want this summer of 2012 to be one my kids remember.  I want it to be fun.  I also want to be able to say to them, “Go Play Outside!” as often as possible.  I have lots of memories of being sent outside to play when I was growing up.  There’s just nothing like summer when you’re a kid.

For a long time this area of our house has been off limits.  It was full of mud, gopher holes, and sharp, dangerous tools.  This fall we’ll have been here three years.  And thankfully, this is the first summer where I think we really NEED this space for our family, and it’s ready!  I’ll be showing you more later, but for now, we’ll stick to these home-made chalkboards I made for the kids.  They’ve been a big hit, and were very straightforward to make.  I saw this idea on several blogs a few years ago, and of course now I can’t remember any of them.  I knew I could buy a chalkboard somewhere, but I wanted them to be small so the kids or I could move them easily, and I didn’t want to feel bad if they get banged up, as I’m sure they will.

I went to Home Depot one day to get something completely unrelated and came home with all the fixings to make these.  I grabbed three square pieces of wood (I could wander in the lumber part of Home Depot all day just to smell the wood).  I believe they are 2 ft. x 2 ft. I also grabbed 2 cans of this primer by Rustoleum:

And 2 cans of this Chalk Board Paint, also by Rustoleum.

Making these was very simple, but a bit time-consuming in order to let the primer and paint dry.  I just followed the directions on the can.  I’d throw on my painting clothes in the morning and slap a coat on.  Then in the afternoon I’d do another.

I did three coats of primer and three coats of chalkboard paint.  I think it took 3-4 days to complete.

The thing that was most helpful was using extra pavers to elevate the boards.  See this picture below?  This is how I started; do not start this way.  Find something thick and even that you don’t care about and stick it under the boards so you can’t see it.  Then you can paint the entire surface of the board AND the edges, and it is easy peasy.

We already had quite a collection of sidewalk chalk.  I was thinking about buying regular chalk until I saw how much sidewalk chalk we have.  We can wait.

I bought this handy carrying case at Target.  The bottom compartment still needs something- haven’t decided what we’ll put in there.

We use some planters I got in the dangerous dollar section at Target to hold water for dunking our chalk.  It makes the colors so vibrant.

The day we started using these, Anna was in heaven.  I drew a picture on the middle board to show her how to do the water, and she was ready to go.  This little girl is a creative type, just like her mommy. :)

Jack just has fun making a mess and asking me to draw things for him.  Helicopters are the most popular.

What fun things do your kids like to do outside?

And by the way- do my pictures not look SO much better?!  Hooray for new cameras!

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Mother’s Day Project & San Diego MNO!

Posted by on Apr 24, 2012 | 15 comments

Are you ready to clean up your Pinterest Boards?  Thursday is Clean Up Your Pinterest Boards Day!  Join us and make sure your pins are legit!  Can’t wait!

Are you ready for Mother’s Day?  I am!  I love having a day to celebrate the fact that I’m a MOM!  I can’t believe I’m 36 and have three beautiful kids.  Before I get into the details of my post, I want to share an event I’ll be attending and am SO EXCITED about!    I’m also on the committee promoting it because I am so thrilled that this group exists for the sole purpose of giving MOMS a NIGHT OFF!  Woot!

If you are a San Diego mom, you should come to San Diego Mom’s Night Out Mother’s Day Event!  Don’t worry, it’s not on the “real” Mother’s Day- it’s Thursday, May 10th.   National Mom’s Nite Out is the first nationally organized celebration of motherhood intended to bring together today’s moms, physically and virtually.  National Mom’s Nite Out unites hundreds of social media groups, companies, local playgroups, mommy bloggers and mother social networks in giving moms a well deserved night off. National Mom’s Night Out consists of local events held across the country including ours!

San Diego Mom’s Night Out Mother’s Day Event is going to be at Bliss 101 in Encinitas.  I live in El Cajon, and let me tell you- the drive will be worth it!  Just a few of the fun things planned: wine, food, skinny shots, massages, and swag bags!  Need I say more?  Go get your ticket, gals!   For reals- it’s going to be so nice!

Now, onto my tutorial- I am so pleased with how these turned out!

First things first:  CREDIT.  I first saw this project on Pinterest, which sent me to Mandy Douglass’ blog, It Will Change Your Life. At the bottom of this post I saw the cutest thing I’ve ever seen for Mother’s Day, and thought to myself, “I HAVE to make this!”  I emailed Mandy, and she so graciously agreed to let me post this tutorial.  Thank you, Mandy!

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Jack’s Party: Scavenger Hunt!

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 | 5 comments

I wanted something easy for the kids to do during the party, and since I was hopeful that it wouldn’t rain and we have a pretty big yard, I wanted to keep them outside for at least part of the time.  I started by searching on Pinterest for “boy parties” and such, and happened across a scavenger hunt.  The only problem was that it wasn’t suited for our environment- I think it was a beach hunt.  After a bit more searching I realized I just needed to spend some time in Photoshop.  It really didn’t take long to make.

Each bag had a little magnifying glass tied to the handle (purchased from Oriental Trading), and I also stuck a pencil in each bag.  Then they could use their pencil to mark things off (or their parent could), they could collect a lemon from our lemon tree, and whatever else they wanted to keep.  Recognize the wagon? :)

When they were done, I let them choose between one of these or these as a prize.  I didn’t “enforce” too much- but lots of them were so proud of finding everything on the page.  It was super cute!

Some tips if you decide to do a scavenger hunt:

  • Don’t get too specific if your crowd is younger- keep it simple.
  • Don’t hand out the bags until AFTER you give directions- otherwise they will likely just take the bags and run off without really knowing what to do.
  • Expect it to take just about 20 minutes or so, maybe a bit longer.
  • Advise guests to wear appropriate footwear- we put it on the back of our invitation.  Our yard is not one for flip flops at this time of year.

 

Here’s my birthday boy and his daddy during the hunt.  My two men. (Note the gopher holes in the foreground.)

As an aside, the other thing we had that ended up not working as well was the Giga Ball.  (It cost way less wherever I got it, but can’t remember where.)  I love this thing!  It’s the best money I’ve spent for parties and gatherings/play dates.  We intended for everyone to do it as they arrived (before food consumption).  Unfortunately on this day it was so damp outside that everyone (including my husband) started getting too wet and muddy, so we had to put it aside.  Later it came out again after the sun burned off some moisture.  Some kids like being rolled down the hill.  Others…not so much.  Either way- it sure is a fun thing to have around!

Below is the hunt.    The tree with the question mark is for “Which tree is the tallest?”.  The “???” is for if they find something that’s not on the page. “Take one of each” is for our citrus trees- we have three (lemon, orange, and grapefruit) but we ended up only having them pick lemons because the other two have lots of bees right now.  The grasshopper was just an example of a bug.  You’re welcome to download it. I’d appreciate some pins or comments if you download it.  Thanks!

Up tomorrow:  Food and Wrap-Up!

 

Also a big thanks to my friend, Tonya, again for her lovely photos that add so much to these posts!

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Pinterest Projects: Butterfly Window

Posted by on Mar 23, 2012 | 0 comments

Maybe I should call this “Butterfly Week”?

{For my fellow Pinterest Pals:  Please do NOT pin this post!  Please go the the original post, linked below, and pin her original content. I want to blog and pin with integrity, and I am not the original person who thought of this- she deserves the credit.  Thanks!}

I saw this post, pinned it on my Pinterest board, and wanted to tackle it immediately.  As in, “We-must-drink-all-the-milk-so-I-can-prep-this-project” immediately.  Alas, I had to gather a few of the supplies, so it was not that quick.  It was most excellent to have a valid excuse to buy a huge pack of Sharpies in lots of colors.  Who doesn’t love Sharpies, right?

I was so happy that I did this with Anna.  Truth be told, she only did the coloring, and she wore out much sooner than I did, but still- she did a few and it was fun.  And she loves them. Every once in a while she will say, “Mommy!  Look!  There are real, live butterflies in our window!”  I’ll say, “No way, really?!”  And she’ll say, “No, silly, they’re just pretend.”  I’m going to miss four.  Four really is fun.

The only thing I will add to the excellent directions on the original post, is that putting these in the window has caused most of the colors to fade. The yellow faded within a few days.  The magenta color hardly budged, though- must be something in the pigment.  It was easy to take them down and touch them up, though.  I love them for this time of year.  So fun.  Make some.  Make them right  now- you can thank me later.

Happy Weekend- my son turns three today, so there will be party posts forthcoming!

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