Showing posts with label Personal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Personal. Show all posts

Monday, February 25, 2013

Belize Honeymoon

Today is a little day of celebration! We moved into our house over the weekend! So I decided to treat myself, and torture you, with a completely selfish post about our honeymoon! And because, I finally finished all my wedding posts, and I'm, of course, having wedding post withdrawals. In fact, it's not just posting about the wedding I'm having withdrawals from, I'm having wedding related EVERYTHING withdrawals! I wonder if Adam would be up for renewing our vows in a year... hmm... 
KIDDING! Kidding... kinda.

Belize vacation
{Honeymoon in Belize on Ambergris Caye}

But I haven't talked about possibly the best thing about having a wedding, well besides the whole marrying the person you love thing and getting a Kitchen Aid mixer as a wedding present, and that is the honeymoon! I can not express how happy I am that we decided to go on a long honeymoon immediately after the wedding. It's totally worth the credit card bill we are currently paying off. And that is a testament to how awesome this honeymoon was because that money could really come in handy now with the whole house thing. But, for me, it was just what I needed to start our married lives together (and to recoup from the madness of wedding planning). I can't see myself having been ready to buy a house (and all the scary grown up settling down implications that come with it) without getting a little bit of the travel bug out of my system first.

Belize vacation
{Snorkel Trip to Mexico Rocks}

We decided on Belize after extensive fights discussions about where to go. Let's just say, the right side won. Quite literally, if you are looking at the picture above. (Get it! I'm on the right.) And it turned out to be everything I dreamed of and none of the negative stuff Adam conjured up in his crazy head. Love you, hunny. 

Belize vacation
{Canoeing Down the Macal River}

Belize is incredible. Looking at these pictures makes me miss it so much. What I wanted in a honeymoon was a little bit, well really a lot, of adventure, some relaxation, good food, and of course quality time with my new hubby. A friend suggested Belize because she had some friends who just went there on their honeymoon and loved it. It was the perfect fit for us because it offered the adventure I craved and the ability to kick it on the beach as well.

Belize vacation
{At Chaa Creek Resort Before Our Amazing Massages}

Belize vacation
{Garnaches Poolside at Chaa Creek Resort}

We went for 10 glorious days. And no, it wasn't too long. It was just perfect. We split the trip into two portions. Five days in the Cayo District of inland Belize near San Ignacio and only about a half hour from the Guatemala border and five days on the island of Ambergris Caye.

Belize vacation

What we loved so much about our time in Belize is that the two portions of the trip felt like completely different vacations. The landscape, food, culture, and activities were totally unique to the two regions we visited. It felt like such a bargain getting two different vacations in one vacation! If that makes any sense. Belize is also such a small country, under 350,000 people in the whole country, that we found ourselves continually running into the same people, albeit tourists. We ran into our friends from our time inland at our jungle resort at a restaurant on the island. The people who took our photo on the top of a Mayan ruin in Guatemala ending up staying at the same resort as at the beach. It was crazy! We made some good friends and had a few nights that are both hard to remember (oh, Belize rum and Belikin beer) and hard to forget.

Belize vacation
{Rum Drink}

Belize vacation
{Belikin Beer}

I can't say enough good things about Belize. The people were friendly, the food was great, I always felt  safe, and it was adventurous. We went hiking in an ancient Mayan sacrificial cave and walked among pottery and skeletons! from 800 AD or earlier. The coolest part about this was that you had to hike 45 minutes, forge a river three times and swim through a lagoon to get into the cave. Once in the cave you waded through water, squeezed through rocks and eventually came upon a huge open room with bits of Mayan history left exactly where the the Mayans left them. Nothing has been moved, there are no ropes and rails. It's just you and your guide (and a few other guides and tourist that you encounter along the way). This was our favorite thing we did in Belize, but no cameras were allowed so I don't have any pictures. But I wouldn't feel right talking about the honeymoon and not mentioning our experience at Actun Tunichil Muknal. That cave was a once in a lifetime experience. Another favorite, venturing across the border (with a guide) to Guatemala to see the Mayan ruins of Tikal.

Belize vacation
{Tikal}

Belize vacation
{Tikal}

Belize vacation
{Tikal}

Belize vacation
{Tikal}

Belize vacation
{View From the Top of a Temple at Tikal}

Belize vacation
{Cave Tubing}

Belize vacation
{Ziplining in the Rain}

We went during the low season. And it was very much the LOW season. We were the only ones at our resort in the jungle for the first 2 days. And when we got to our resort on the island it had just opened the day before. It actually made the trip really enjoyable. No crowds on tours and stuff like that. And it only rained 3 times  in the 10 days we were there and it never really was much of a bother. 

Belize vacation
{View from inside a Cave looking Out}

Belize vacation
{Tamales in Guatemala}

Belize vacation
{Our Cabin at Our Jungle Resort - Crystal Paradise}

Our jungle resort was secluded and we went on tours most days we were there. Meals were served family style at the resort and were home cooked by the family that lived at and owned the resort.

Belize vacation
{Our Resort Dog, Shane, on the Island}

Belize vacation
{Traditional Belize Fast Food}

Belize vacation
{At the Belize Zoo}

Belize vacation
{Tiny Plane to the Cayes (Islands)}

Belize vacation
{Island Feast}

Belize vacation
{Fresh Coconut!}

Belize vacation
{Our favorite Bar on Ambergris Caye - The Palapa Bar}

Belize vacation

We went on two snorkeling trips while on the island our favorite was Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley where we got to snorkel with nurse sharks and sting rays!!

Belize vacation

Belize vacation

Belize vacation

Belize vacation
{Coconut Shrimp}

The whole experience was out of this world! I would highly recommend Belize if you are looking for a  vacation / honeymoon that is both adventurous and relaxing. 

Belize vacation
{Our Last Night in Belize}

Where did you / do you want to go on your honeymoon?

Love, Luck, and Happiness!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

DIY: Cinnamon and Honey Beeswax Candles

We move on Saturday. It's a new chapter of our lives and I'm excited about it, but I'm also sad to be leaving behind Long Beach, our friends here, our first place together, and everything that I've become so used to for the last 2 1/2 years. There is one thing that I won't miss - the commute. Last Thursday and Friday my commute from work in North Hollywood to home in Long Beach took 2 hours and 15 minutes and I thought I was going to LITERALLY loose my mind. So, there are lots of pros and cons to this whole moving to Valencia thing, and trust me, I've weighed them all. But when it is actually happening, like as in, in two days, the whole thing feels very real and a bit scary. We spent our last weekend in Long Beach, doing what we do - really a whole lot of nothing and some cooking (cooking for me, not Adam, he continued to do a whole lot of nothing). We went for a run, went for a bike ride down the beach path, and took Penny to the dog beach. It was a wonderful last weekend in Long Beach.


To ease my leaving Long Beach blues, I wanted to do something to warm the new house a bit, and I thought homemade candles would do just the trick. I've been wanting to make my own candles for some time now, since Adam has horrible allergies and occasionally the candles I buy set him off. And then he is a sniffling, runny nosed, annoying mess. Something with a natural scent would be the best fit for us, so I purchased some beeswax and cinnamon sticks and got to work on some Cinnamon and Honey Candles. Beeswax has a delightful light honey scent. The cinnamon sticks don't release quite as much cinnamon scent as I had hoped, but I still think they are a nice touch. As your candle burns down to the bottom, the cinnamon sticks are revealed, making the candles rustic and unique.


Here's how I made two eight once jar candles and two four once jar candles:

Supplies:

1 pound of natural beeswax - I bought mine on Amazon
1 package of soy wicks, the ones with the wick attached to a metal bottom
10-12 cinnamon sticks
jars - I used 2 - 8 oz jars and 2 - 4 oz jars
a large metal can - I used a 28 oz tomato can, rinsed and cleaned
a small pot
oven mitts
a chisel (or flat head screw driver)
a hammer
ribbon for decoration

Method:

If you have a block of beeswax (and not pellets) use the chisel (or flat head screw driver if you have to improvise like me) and the hammer break your beeswax into chunks that will fit in your can. Place beeswax chunks inside the metal can.

Heat water in the pot over medium high heat. Carefully place the can of beeswax into the pot of water, being careful that it doesn't tip into the water. You now have created a double broiler with minimal cleanup! You can just throw out the waxy can when finished melting your wax and creating your candles. 


While the wax is melting, prep your cinnamon sticks by breaking them into pieces. I used scissors, my hands, or the hammer and chisel depending on the size of the stick. After that, and once some of the wax has melted, dip the metal end of your wick into the liquid wax. Place the wick centered inside the jar with the wick as straight as possible. Repeat with other jars. Now place cinnamon stick pieces around the wick in the bottom of each jar.


Stir the wax occasionally, I used a whole cinnamon stick to do so, that way I didn't have to get a kitchen utensil all waxy. Once the wax is completely melted, use a oven mitt to remove the can of wax from the boiling water. Place a rag underneath the can to protect yourself from boiling water drips. Carefully pour the wax into each jar, avoid pouring directly on the wick, you don't want to topple it over. 


Discard your empty waxy can and let the wax cool. And that's it! If your wicks are tilting too much to the side you can use toothpicks or shish cabob sticks laid across the top of the jars to help center them. Once the wax is fully cooled, trim your wicks to 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Decorate the jars and enjoy!


*Do not leave candle unattended. When wax burns down to the cinnamon sticks in the bottom, the last half inch or so, discard. Do not keep burning down to the bottom. 

Love, Luck, and Happiness!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Almond Joy Smoothie!

In this post I was going to talk about how when I was a kid I wasn't allowed sugary cereal and how great it would be to eat candy for breakfast and now as an adult I can realize that dream with this Almond Joy Smoothie! Or, I was gonna talk about how as a kid I loved Almond Joy's but hated almonds so I spit the almond out, and how Mounds seem like the reasonable solution to that problem, but my love for dark chocolate didn't develop until late in my twenties, but by then I also liked almonds, so basically my coconut candy options are now endless. If by endless, I mean I can choose from either Almond Joy or Mounds. 


But while those two things would be much more relevant to talk about in this post, I'm not going to talk about either. I know, I know you were probably really dying to hear about the things I was deprived of as a child and my weird candy hangups. But what I want to talk about is something I just can't keep in any longer. This is like a LIFE MOMENT. A big one. Up there with getting married and getting a dog. Maybe even bigger than both those things! Well, maybe not getting married, but probably bigger than getting a dog, but not quite as big as having a kid. Which is NOT what I'm going to announce. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here.

Drumroll please....

WE ARE BUYING A HOUSE!!

This particular house!


She's no beauty queen on the outside, at least as far as paint colors go, seriously former owner people you JUST repainted this house with THESE colors!? But she's got a lot of heart on the inside. And a big backyard. And a good location. And 3 bedrooms. And 2 1/2 baths. And a big master bedroom. And hardwood floors. And eventually she will have a kick ass redone kitchen. Can you tell I'm kinda in love?

So to celebrate, let's all drink Almond Joy Smoothies! Because the only thing better than candy for breakfast is healthy candy for breakfast!


Almond Joy Smoothie
One Serving

1/2 a frozen banana
1 1/4 cup coconut milk (from the carton - I used Original flavor)
2 tablespoons shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2 tablespoons (creamy) almond butter
desired amount of ice

Blend all ingredients except for ice. Once blended, add ice and blend again until desired consistency is reached. 

*For a sweeter treat, replace the cocoa powder with chocolate syrup.


Love, Luck, and Happiness!

P.S. We are moving from Long Beach, CA back to our home town of Valencia, CA and I'm very nervous / excited / sad. It's such a mix of emotions! I'm going to miss all our friends in Long Beach, and the neighborhood we live in, and being close to the beach. But I'm excited to be closer to Adam's family and to be in a VERY family friendly area that we are already familiar with. It's crazy how grown up this whole thing feels.

P. P.S. As the move quickly approaches, I'm going to do my best to stay on a twice a week blogging schedule, but I may have to drop down to once a week once my kitchen is in disarray! But with the new house will come lots of DIY posts so that's exciting! So stick with me while I work this whole thing out! :)


Friday, January 18, 2013

The Wedding Part 4: The Dessert Bar - How To

I know, I know, at this point you're probably about as sick of hearing about my wedding as my husband is of hearing my mother and I talk about it. BUT there is a "How To" tutorial involved in this post, and let's be real, it wouldn't be a proper wedding series without discussing the cake. Or in this case, the cakes, cupcakes, cake pops, and doughnut holes.
Oh my!

wedding dessert bar

I knew from the get go that I didn't want a three or five layered cake. Not knocking them, just the idea didn't appeal to me. We're not big cake people to begin with, so doing something a little different felt right to us. Plus I love having options. It's an indecisive girl's dream.

cutting the cake

But we did pick one cake to be our main cake. We choose the flavor strawberries and cream because Adam doesn't like chocolate (weirdo, I know!) and because we both like strawberries. And strawberries translate into pink, so I could have pretty pink ombre layers inside. That was the main reason. I mean look how pretty it is!

pink ombre wedding cake

 I loved our "official" wedding cake. It was simple, yet beautiful and was insanely good. It was vanilla and strawberry cake with fresh strawberries in between the layers, and a buttercream frosting that was not deathly sweet. It was perfect. And pretty. Oh, have I already said that it was pretty? Well it was.

pink ombre wedding cake

I really loved my cake toppers as well. They are from Ready Go Wedding Co. on Etsy. You can customize the coloring and outfits. They also offer pets! We of course had to get a little Penny with a pink bow. And they donate $10 of the purchase of a pet animal topper to a local animal shelter. How great is that?!

custom drawn cake toppers

But like I said it was dessert bar and here I am going on and on about just one cake. I get a little carried away when it comes to wedding stuff. (As if you hadn't already noticed.) So here are the other cast of characters at the dessert bar.

chocolate rosette cake

 A gorgeous Chocolate Bavarian Cream cake that I unfortunately did not get to taste. But I heard it was good. How you could bring yourself to cut into those pretty rosettes, I don't know.

fancy pumpkin cheesecake

The most AMAZING brown sugar salted caramel cupcakes EVER!! So insane. Believe me when I tell you brown sugar cake with a creamy salted caramel center and some kind of subtle salted caramel frosting will make your knees buckle and have you begging for more. Unfortunately for me, my knees really did buckle, I missed sitting down in my chair and dropped half my cupcake. THE. LAST. ONE. Luckily, my dress offered lots of padding for my behind on the concrete landing, and I don't think too many people saw... BUT, back to the desserts. Also we had a pumpkin cheesecake! Pumpkin pie is Adam's favorite dessert, so we decided to class it up a little for the wedding with this snazzy pumpkin cheesecake with a caramel drizzle and walnuts. Sadly though, I don't think Adam got a piece. Oh the woes of having a wedding.

wedding cupcakes

Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, because I wasn't kidding that Adam loves pumpkin. And our wedding was in October so it kept with the theme. We also had pumpkin beer.

white ruffle wedding cake

Finally to round out the cakes and cupcakes, we threw in some cake pops (strawberry and lemon) and some pumpkin doughnut holes for good measure. 

crepe paper streamer backdrop

Creating a dessert bar was a fun and easy project. Maybe one of my favorite of the wedding! If you are feeling conflicted about the kind / flavors / type of dessert you want to offer at your wedding, a dessert bar is a great option. And they are fun! Here are some tips on how to DIY your own dessert bar.

1. Figure out how many guests you think you will have and do the math. One dessert for each guest at the very minimum, meaning one slice of cake, one cupcake, one or two cake pops (or other smaller items). Now add a little to that, or a lot. Remember that when presented with multiple options, most likely your guests are going to grab more than one. Here is what I did for 120 guests. One 10 inch cake (think about 24 slices), one 8 inch cake (about 14 slices), one 10 inch pumpkin cheesecake (about 24 slices), 30 cupcakes, 30 cake pops, and something like 30 - 40 doughnut holes.  How do you determine how many people a cake can feed? Check out this cake serving guide to get an idea. We had enough to feed our guests and a few leftovers, but I wouldn't have minded having more. Particularly of the brown sugar salted caramel cupcakes. Then I could hoard them in the ruffles of my dress and eat them later.

2. Figure out how you are going to procure the desserts. Are you thinking about taking on the baking yourself? (If so, big props to you! But remember that undertaking fresh baked desserts will make the already stressful days before your wedding even more stressful. And yes, those days will be stressful if you are a DIY bride.) Maybe you have friends that each want to contribute something to the dessert bar? This would be a great way to do a dessert bar on a budget. Assign trusted and talented baking buddies to each make a dessert for your big day. Or maybe you just want to hire a professional to do the baking. That's what we did, we hired a professional baker to make the 2 cakes, the pumpkin cheesecake, the cupcakes, and the cake pops. But the doughnut holes, we just went to a grocery store and picked them up the day before the wedding. And guess what? They were a huge hit, and no one was any the wiser. So don't be afraid to think outside the box and remember to work within your budget. You could hire a professional to do the main cake and then maybe just pick up some other treats from a local bakery / grocery store / friend that makes awesome cookies or treats.

3. Plan the look. How do you want to present the desserts? I chose vintage cake stands. I collected various cake stands from friends and relatives and even thrift shopped a few to create a look I loved. I brought them to my venue and my cake guy set them up when he brought the desserts. Check with your venue to see what they can offer or bring in your own supplies. I kept the decorations minimal for my dessert bar. There was suppose to be succulents at the base of the cake stands, but they seemed to never make it to the table. No biggie. It still looked beautiful to me. Especially with the back drop. Which brings me to number four.

4. Create, or select, a great back drop for your dessert bar. You will be photographed in front of it and you want those photos, like all the others, to be beautiful. I made my streamer back drop and it worked perfectly to cover up those hideous pool warning signs, since we had a poolside reception. You can create your own fringy streamer back drop in whatever colors you like by using my tutorial.

5. Label your desserts so your guests know what they are eating. It's no fun biting into a cake pop not knowing it's lemon flavored if you hate lemon. My labels were simple to make. I printed the names on kraft paper that I found at Michael's and then cut and folded them. After that I glued some leftover magnets I had on the inside of them to give them some weight so they wouldn't blow over or move around.

Creating your own dessert bar is easy, fun, and can be very cost effective! 


What are your thoughts on dessert bars at weddings?

**All photos by Jeff Janke Photography
**Cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops by Cake App├ętit

Love, Luck, and Happiness!


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