Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Post Fourth of July

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend! Did you spend it with family and friends? Did you throw an awesome barbeque? Did you pack up and head out in search of water?

 We have been hanging out with family since Friday, and are continuing our family fun in Virginia Beach for a few days. I am excited, and looking forward to a little beach time! I'll post more pics of our family fun later, but here is a look at our Fourth of July barbeque.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ponta Delgada, Azores

Good morning everyone! I hope you are all having a good week so far, and, for those of you stateside, getting excited for the holiday weekend. We are gearing up for family to come into town, before we all head out to the beach for a couple of days.

If you recall, right after we moved (literally days), we went on a week long vacation to the Azores. I'm sure most of you have never heard of this place. I hadn't, until my husband stumbled upon a Groupon for a trip to Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel. He decided to do a little research, since it seemed like such a good deal, to see what this place was and what it had to offer.  He found out that the Azores are a chain of volcanic islands that lay just over a thousand miles off of the coast of Portugal. Just a four hour flight from Boston (read about our layover adventure in Boston here). They are lush, green, and known for their tea, dairy farming, and pineapples. There are any number activities for tourist and locals to enjoy, depending on what you are looking for on your vacation. 

Anthony Bourdain has a huge presence in our house. We watched No Reservations religiously, The Layover as well, we now watch Parts Unknown, and I have to say that Kitchen Confidential is one of my favorite books (having worked in the service industry for half of my life). As it turns out, Tony paid a visit to the Azores during his time on No Reservations. See more here, or watch the episode here. A beautiful landscape of rolling hills dotted with cattle, encapsulated by azure waters, Tony's seal of approval, and (of course) the food, all sold us on a visit to this mysterious destination.

We were not disappointed. Beside the major jet lag from the four hour time difference, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. We explored the town of Ponta Delgada; enjoying local food, beer, and wine. The street art you find strolling through the streets brings this European style town into the modern era with vibrant colors and unique visions. At the center of the wondrous Terra Nostra Botanical Garden, overflowing with flora from around the world, lies a hot spring of a deep ochre yellow, smelling strongly of minerals and earth,  that had us steeping in its healing waters. Another geothermal pool that met the ocean was a whole other experience; as the tide washes into the pool naturally carved into the rocky oceanside, the fresh water cools the steaming thermal waters seeping from deep within the rocks below. Black sand beaches seated on the cold Atlantic Ocean were a treat on a nice afternoon. Drives on winding roads lined with Hydrangea waiting to bloom, through the rolling hillsides into peaks shrouded in clouds were lovely, and a bit scary at times. Tiny villages to explore kept us marveling at this docile little jewel nestled into the Northern Atlantic Ocean. How had we never heard of this place, and how long 'till we made our next visit?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fourth of July BBQ Tablescape

There's nothing America loves more than a good, old fashion Bar-B-Q for the Fourth of July. A tasty spread of hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, chips, dips, refreshing beverages, and a slew of friends and family, is truly what the doctor ordered for this mid-summer celebration. I am no exception; I love a great Independence Day bash. However, for me, it's more that I'll use any excuse to throw a party. I absolutely love to decorate, cook, and bake for anyone and everyone. 

For this year's celebration, we will be hosting my in-laws, and want to make it a fun occasion. So, I have set about gathering supplies to throw a fabulous backyard BBQ. My go-to for affordable decorations is always the Dollar Tree. I am all about making my own version of things that I don't want to spend money on, but you really can't beat $1. I usually start by purchasing a handful of items there, gather everything I can from around my house, and make the rest. I'll break down what I bought, made, and re-used for this festive tablescape.

With these tips and tricks, you can impress your guests, and still have money for food, refreshments, and fireworks!

I used one of those fold up tables that everyone has lying around for Thanksgiving or Christmas, when you have too much family to fit at your normal table. This is perfect if you don't have a fancy outdoor table.

I made the star garland last year with stars cut from craft paper, and twine. The pinwheels were quick and easy to make yesterday, with craft paper I had lying around.

I was so excited to find these basket at the $1 Stop (Dollar Tree). They were four for a dollar! I picked up extras. The bandanas also came from the Dollar Tree. You can also find them at Hobby lobby and Wal-Mart for cheap.

I used a mason jar wrapped in raffia, and a bandana to display and hold serving utensils.

This round place mat is one I have had for years. You can pick up similar ones at the Dollar Tree.

These star picks are actually cake toppers that I made. I stuck them in these vintage vases I picked up at Goodwill some time ago. I'll put them in an actual cake for next Friday. The red vases were Dollar Tree purchases, and the hibiscus is from our front flower bed.

The table cloth is from the $1 Stop (Dollar Tree), and the burlap is from a fundraiser I did last year. You can usually find it at fabric stores, but it isn't terribly cheap. You could easily pick up a few yards of some inexpensive fabric to use as a table runner.

I love these mason jar glasses. I scored them at our white elephant gift exchange last Christmas. You can use regular mason jars instead, or some colorful glasses. The little flags are cupcake toppers that came with cupcake wrappers I bought at Dollar Tree.

I snagged different size vases and items to use as candle holders from around the house to add to the mix. You could buy inexpensive flowers, or pick some wild flowers, to make it even more lovely. Use smaller glass items for bud vases or to hold votive candles.

I love these old school ketchup and mustard bottles I picked up at the Dollar Tree. They just add a little bit of fun to the event.

The mason jars I used were from the fundraiser I did as well. I picked up a few boxes of them at Wal-Mart for relatively cheap. They are great to put little votive candles in or use for bud vases.

I pulled the chairs from our dining room. You can use folding chairs if you have them.

The paper globes are from Dollar Tree. You could jazz this up even more with a string of lights. Everyone loves twinkle lights!

Get creative and think outside the box; use items for purposes other than what they were intended for, and pull things from around your home to save money. Your guest will be so impressed with your set up, and even more impressed with how little you spent! Most importantly, have fun!