Latest Posts

tasting, tasting. 1, 2, 3.

Hello Yelp Elite badge 2021! We’re already more than a third of the way through 2021 so I best recap some tasty Yelp events! So far I’ve been able to participate in a virtual beer and snack pairing, yogurt tasting, coffee run, and sushi take out! All the Yelp Elite events, though still virtual, are still deliciously fun! Here’s what I’ve been snacking on…

Anaviv’s Table and East Brother Beer

One of the first Yelp Elite events of the year was a virtual beer and food pairing with Anaviv’s Table and East Brother Beer, both located in Richmond, California. Anaviv’s Table, pre-pandemic, was a communal dining experience (they sat 12 max per seating) that focused on featuring local food from nearby farms. Today, they sell goods market style and a select nosh offering. East Brother Beer is a local favorite brewery (I enjoy their house stout!) among many of my friends, and it’s a family friendly spot, too.

This was the first event with a delivery option for the tasting menu and if I have learned anything during this pandemic it is that I love me some food delivery. Our tasting kits came with slow roasted almonds, crispy sage and rosemary chickpeas, soft pretzels with a creamy mustard dipping sauce, and three beer selections, plus a Yelp mug!

The almonds were paired with the pilsner, chickpeas with the IPA, and pretzel with the red lager.

As we noshed, we chatted about tasting notes, listened to business stories, and learned all the snack secrets!

SAGA Kitchen

Every now and then businesses offer Elite Perks where you can stop in over the course of a few days and pick up a treat. SAGA Kitchen in Alameda, California, hosted an Elite Week during Lunar New Year celebrations. SAGA kitchen is a shared kitchen and a platform for food start-ups that provides support in business consulting, accounting, marketing, and social media management. As part of the perk, Elites got to choose a set menu item from one of four restaurants: Koharu, Sachi Sushi, Wok Chi, or Yue Club. I chose Sachi Sushi and it came in a cute bento box – I had a ‘eating a bento under a sakura tree’ flashback.

Red Bay Coffee

This Elite Perk was mega! Elites were treated to a charcoal latte, a trio of coffee beans, and a Yelp mug (now I have a set!). I also picked up an extra charcoal latte for the Hubs and a mocha for me in case the charcoal latte was not a hit. Oh, but it was! Have you ever had one?

Red Bay Coffee also sells pantry items and they have a little parklet spot across the street so you can stay awhile.

I love visiting local coffee shops, and now that I’m much more of a caffeine drinker (hello momhood!), I can enjoy said cups of caffeine without the jitters.

Ellenos

The Ellenos yogurt scoop shop (yes, a yogurt scoop shop!) is located in Pike Place. This virtual yogurt tasting took us on a trip to Seattle! One of the owner’s gave us a tour of the shop, shared his coming to America to sell yogurt story (he was previously in Australia with Greek roots), and then we learned and enjoyed the proper way to consume Ellenos yogurt – scooped, not stirred!

We picked up our goody bags from the Ellenos set up at Dracenos Park in Oakland. Each goody bag came with a handwritten note, Ellenos swag, and four flavors of yogurt: marionberry, passionfruit, vanilla bean, and brownie batter. All the yogurts start with the same base: milk, honey, and cane sugar – Grandma’s recipe! I enjoyed all of the yogurts, but of course my favorite was the one with chocolate.

Ellenos sources their ingredients locally; they even source their milk from a small dairy farm. And everything about their flavors is thoughtfully put together, even down to how the vanilla bean flecks look like in the yogurt. Have you tried Ellenos? Their yogurt is available at Costco, Whole Foods, and other select retailers throughout California.

I love being part of the Yelp Elite Squad because I get to discover places and eats that I might not otherwise discover on my own. What are some of your most recent tasty local finds? Share below!

oh hi 2021.

Remember when I took a stamped calendar workshop in Seattle? I loved the idea and wanted to share the experience with my family. We had originally planned for this to be our activity for Christmas Craft Camp 2020, but guess who stored away their craft kits through the winter and start of spring? Yuh, all of us. So for Mother’s Day we brought out our crafts for another virtual Mom’s Day activity – a bit late for a calendar craft, but still just as fun.

For my calendar, I used gouache! I not-so-secretly want to be a surface designer so I decided to practice with pattern play.

I tried to vary shapes and colors throughout the calendar, but I clearly had some favorite patterns – splotches and stripes for the win!

My very favorite design out of the twelve months is March. It might stay March all year. 🙂 I can envision this as a fabric print!

I have a long way to go before I can be a legit surface designer, but this was fun practice. Also, PS 2022 calendars are already available. Maybe I should get started for next year; I already know want to paint plants!

cookies at the claremont.

To celebrate being fully vaccinated I met up with my basically-family friends for an outdoor cookie decorating event at the Claremont hosted by East Bay Provisions. The Claremont had converted part of their parking lot into an outdoor restaurant and event space. It was the perfect weekend to be outside!

Each ticket came with a dozen sugar cookies (we received kitten, bear, turtle, and butterfly shapes), four icing colors, assorted sprinkles, popsicle sticks, and hand wipes.

Our host came around and provided a quick demo. I was hoping for more direction, but it really was meant for open play. Since I do much better looking at samples, I watched my niece decorate her cookies first and was inspired by her creations.

My favorite technique was piping out splotches of color and then taking one of the popsicle sticks to drag the color across the cookie. It made it look like watercolor and blended the colors (almost) seamlessly.

I really liked how my bears turned out! In the end, they all tasted the same so we really couldn’t go wrong with how we decorated.

To top off our first time hanging out in over a year, we noshed on burgers – decorating cookies goes well with burgers, obvi. We all ordered the same thing – the Berkeley Smash Burger with bacon jam, pickled green tomato, mustard aioli, cheddar, and fries. The fries are easily on my top three list – so good. And I dared myself to try the fries with the cookie icing – not bad.

What a lovely day to spend outside with fresh air and fambam!

PS East Bay Provisions hosts food and non-food related events throughout the year.

bloombox.

What better way to celebrate another pandemic wedding anniversary than with Matilda’s Bloombox! Ever since I spotted Matilda’s seafoam truck at a local craft event adorned with the prettiest blooms, I’ve wanted an excuse to treat myself to a box (I mean, ya, this one is also for you, too, Hubby). What a delight!

Each box comes with a beautifully designed information sheet with details on each grower and each flower/herb, plus owner Emily’s suggestions for how to prepare and arrange the blooms in your vase of choice. I love that each flower/foliage is sourced from local growers, the box is hand delivered, and it’s also a fun DIY activity.

Matilda’s Bloombox is not a subscription, but rather you select in advance which weeks you’d like to receive a box and you are charged upon delivery. They give a preview a week or two in advance to give you time to say yea or nay, and when it’s delivered, there’s no address label on the box – it’s like a friend left you a surprise gift (but that friend is you. :))

This bloombox included:

It is an understatement to say that this box smelled so good.

I used our head table flower jar from our wedding for this arrangement. The info sheet included recommended vessel size and tips on building the base (with rosemary and boronia), adding the focal flower (ranunculus), and adding the secondary flowers (tulips and lavender).

I am majorly crushing on this arrangement. So pretty!

The blooms opened up after just a few hours in water, and even more so during the week. Check out the tulips on Day 3!

I love love loved everything about this floral experience, and I’m looking forward to another occasion (or just because) to order my next box. Affilink alert: Save $10 on your first box! And happy anniversary to us. 🙂

homegirl.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas, mother figures, and future moms! This is my first Mother’s Day, and the only craft I was able to put together in the last month was this iron-on letter onesie for my little. It’s super simple and you can gather all your supplies from your local craft store or craft closet.

Materials and tools:

  • Onesie or any clothing item of choice (I recommend washing before applying letters)
  • Iron-on letters (Pick your fave font and color)
  • Scissors
  • Iron (Remember I have a dedicated craft iron now? Ha!)
  • Ironing board or other heat-tolerant firm surface
  • Towel (A tea towel works nicely)

I made a similar top for myself many years ago to celebrate my mom. Mine said Mommy is my Homegirl. I was inspired by a Gwen Stefani bag I used to own that said Gwen is my Homegirl.

Cut out letters and arrange as you wish. Remove the protective backing; the letters should stick in place. Place a towel on top of the letters, then firmly press with the iron (I used the cotton setting) for 20-30 seconds. Allow the letters to cool, then peel off the plastic. If it looks like the letters have not yet set, stop peeling and iron them for a little longer.

I realized as I was cutting out letters that getting glitter letters was probably not a good idea for a baby, but the font was so cute! Also, the glitter seems to be sticking well so far, and he will probably spit up on it soon after our photo opportunity and we will need to change him into something else. 🙂

So easy right? I have so many more letters left, too. What should I spell out next? Happy celebrating the Mamas in your life!

annie’s.

One day I’ll have a garden of my own. For now I have a patio with potted plants and places like Annie’s Annuals and Perennials to enjoy.

This was my first time at the nursery, and I almost didn’t make it in time. I was the last person allowed in ten minutes before closing. It wasn’t enough time to explore the whole nursery, but it was plenty of time to be in awe of the plant varieties they carry and take lots of pictures.

The nursery is large and packed with so many different kinds of plants that there’s a guidebook! It’s like the Disneyland of nurseries.

I feel like I could learn a lot about flowering plants from hanging out in the nursery and talking to the staff. Each plant has an info card with care tips and photos of the blooms, too. I love me a good info card, and I will stop to read all of them.

I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to make any good plant decisions in my limited nursery time – oh, but I did! I selected a trio of plants to take home: Dahlia merckii, Papaver rhoeas “Falling in Love,” and Phacelia viscida. Wish me luck that I can keep these plant babies alive and get them to bloom.

Visit any good nurseries lately? Share below! And let me know what you’ve been planting in your garden.

one of everything.

The traveling baking company Blooms End popped up at Morningtide. This was my first time trying this local bakery and it did not disappoint.

Per usual, all great pop-ups at Morningtide draw a crowd. I made sure I was in line at the start of the pop-up (it’s even better if you come earlier). Also per usual, I shopped Morningtide after I got my pop-up goods. 🙂

Mary Denham, the baker and visionary behind Blooms End, put together the most delicious array of savory and sweet creations for the day’s festivities. The menu was released the day before and I knew when I got to the front of the line I would order one of (almost) everything.

I ended up getting one of every croissant (minus one because she sold out of the chocolate croissants by the time I got to the front of the line), plus cookies (chocolate chip and white chocolate-marcona almond). Check out this croissant line up:

  • croissant (plain)
  • chocolate
  • coffee-cardamom monkey
  • meyer lemon-breakfast tea twist
  • blackened date-graham-chocolate
  • quince & manchego
  • roasted carrot-hazelnut-feta
  • broccoli rabe-white cheddar claw
  • spinach & feta
  • white bean & speck
  • romanesco & cheddar mornay
  • chorizo & manchego

There were lots of sweet treats, too – too many to try!

My bounty! Hubby and I had a taste test. I appreciated that half of the croissant selection was savory – you don’t see that too often. All of the croissants were flakey and soft, and Mary’s flavor combinations were so unique! My favorites were the white bean & speck and chorizo & manchego croissants.

Blooms End will be back at Morningtide this month and word on the street is that they hope to host Blooms End pop-ups each month, so I guess you know what I’ll be doing once a month for the foreseeable future.

that’s a wrap.

I tried my hand at making beeswax food covers. I’ve been wanting to learn how to create my own for some time, and now I know I’d rather just buy them premade. Ha! It’s a messy craft!

Jenny Lemons teamed up with Cara of Cara Corey Designs for their monthly craft night to bring an evening of creating these reusable, sustainable, and super cute beeswax food wrappers. Cara reviewed materials and shared all of her wrapper making secrets. What’s great is you can use scrap fabric – so if you’ve got a fabric stash, this is a fun way to use up material, or a good reason to buy more cute fabrics!

Per usual, Jenny Lemons prepared craft kits. When I learn a new craft I love having a kit with all the supplies ready to go (even though I totally have a stash of fabric, beeswax, buttons, and embroidery floss!). The kit from Jenny Lemons included:

  • Jenny Lemons fabric squares
  • Beeswax pellets mixed with jojoba oil (portioned for each piece of fabric)
  • Buttons
  • Embroidery floss
  • Needle
  • Parchment paper

We also needed:

  • Foil
  • Iron
  • Ironing board or similar
  • Scissors
  • Cup/bowl
  • Spoon (I used a chopstick)

First, we wrapped our irons in foil to serve as a barrier between the iron and the wax, and covered our work area with parchment.

The kit beeswax was packaged with jojoba oil (can also use liquid coconut oil); we mixed it up in a cup to make sure the oil was distributed among the beeswax pellets. Basically, you want each pellet to have an oil shine.

Before adding the beeswax, Cara recommends cutting your fabric to your desired size and shape, though this can be done after adding the beeswax, too. I cut a scalloped edge onto my fabric.

We sprinkled and spread the beeswax on our fabric. Then laid the hot iron onto the fabric, keeping it in one spot until the wax had melted. This is the part that can get super messy, especially if you have too much wax on your fabric. We removed excess wax off of the fabric by moving the melted wax off to the side with the iron. We flipped the fabric and ironed the other side, and repeated this process, until we we had a thin, even layer of beeswax on both sides of the fabric.

It would have been good to add a little beeswax at a time and experiment with how much I actually needed for my piece of fabric. A little goes a long way! You’ll know you’re done when there are no longer any beeswax clumps, the entire fabric surface is covered with wax (both sides!), and fabric is pliable and “see through.”

At this point, the beeswax wrapper is ready to be used, but you can add embellishments. I added a button closure. Daaa, cute!

This is a fairly simple craft (See the full how to on the Jenny Lemons blog.), but oh my, it can get so messy! If you try it I suggest covering a large area for your work station. I only used enough parchment to serve as a “placemat” for my fabric, but the melted beeswax wanted to roam a bit further than my allotted area. Also, I have an iron designated for crafts now because I didn’t cover enough of the iron with foil. Seriously, cover the whole thing and then cover another spot on your work station with parchment just for the iron to rest on.

TL; DR: Not for me, but cool to know how to do. Do you make your own food wraps? Share below!

smorgastarta.

Throwing back to a savory birthday cake I made for Hubby’s birthday last year because it seems like a great Springtime snack!

I’m always looking for savory alternatives for cake. We eat normal cake, but we love savory foods more. Plus, it’s always fun to try something new in the kitchen. One year for Hubby’s birthday I made “ice cream sundaes” but out of mashed potatoes and sausages. This last birthday: smorgastarta, Swedish sandwich cake! Instead of making one normal sized cake I made a few mini ones.

I cut out bread circles (and made cinnamon sugar toast with the excess!), then made fillings. Many recipes call for lox which would have been so delicious but I was pregnant at the time, so I found inspo for vegetarian fillings. I created three:

  • Roasted beetroot + dill + honey + salt and pepper + cream cheese
  • Roasted red peppers + Colby Jack cheese + salt and pepper + cream cheese
  • Avocado + lemon + salt and pepper + cream cheese

Making mini cakes allowed me to focus on one flavor for each cake. The fillings tasted good together, but I wanted each to shine.

Then came the fun part – decorating! For one I frosted it with extra avocado filling. Another got cream cheese but it wasn’t melty enough so it went on thick. And then I learned you can microwave cream cheese – that went on smoothly. It felt like I was frosting cake. I boiled and sliced eggs, used a peeler to cut cucumber nice and thin, and chopped up some chives for sprinkles. Little sprigs of dill added some texture, too.

Whoa, these were super decadent and cream cheese loaded. I can see how a larger cake would have a better balance of flavor/richness. I added more cucumber on the side to balance out the creaminess.

These are reminiscent of tea sandwiches and would make a cute addition to a Spring tea. Or better yet, create these for an April Fools’ Day snack.

Are you on board the savory cake train? Or is this too much of a mind game? Share below!

seed paper.

It’s Baby’s First Valentine’s Day so we put together a little something for all his baby friends. Since babies can’t indulge in your typical Valentine’s sweets, I picked a non-food Valentine’s treat: seed paper in heart confetti form so friends can watch love grow all year long. (Aww, sweetness.)

I am a big fan of nature confetti – what I’m deeming as dried leaves or fallen flowers harvested from the same area where you will toss the confetti – so I am all over this biodegradable confetti! I found this seed paper from Botanical PaperWorks. It came in so many colors – I picked three colors to mix and packaged them up. Here’s how I put it all together —

I gathered:

  • Seed paper confetti (I picked hearts but you can choose other shapes or punch out different shapes from full sheets of seed paper instead)
  • Bag/pouch (I had 4” x 6” plastic bags in my stash. You can also source something biodegradable if you want to keep with the earth-friendly theme)
  • Tag design (I’m sharing a downloadable file below)
  • Cardstock (65 lb)
  • Printer access
  • Paper cutter or scissors
  • Bone folder
  • Stapler

Mix confetti and fill your bags with the desired amount.

I designed tags to fit my bags – 4 inches across and 2 inches tall (the printed tag is 4 inches by 4 inches). To assemble, print tags, cut with a paper cutter, fold in half and crease with a bone folder, and attach to the plastic bag with a single staple.

Since these bags were on the long side, I folded the top part of the bags down and hid the excess under the tag. If you do this, too, make sure the staple goes through the folded layers.

Package it up with additional goodies (like a cute heart ornament) and detailed planting instructions (taken from the Botanical PaperWorks website), seal with a heart sticker and a tiny name tag, and you’ve got yourself a fun Valentine’s greeting!

I might need to put this gift idea on repeat.

Happy almost Valentine’s Day!