guests bloggers


please welcome ms. christy mabrey from san diego, california for our guest blog today!

Oh how I love a good picnic!

Now that the sun is finally shinning here in San Diego, it has me thinking……picnics!!! I love the preparation, the set-up, the food and the games! I love it all.

I personally believe the organization and set-up is just as imperative as the menu. I mean, you have to look good while picnicking……right!?! So, for planning your next picnic I have three sections for you to focus on: the setting, the menu and the game.

The Setting…

My favorite place in San Diego to hang out would have to be Balboa Park because it is so pretty. There is always activity going on and yet there are places that you can find and be all alone. It is so peaceful. So, for my perfect picnic setting, I would choose Balboa Park.


Next would be the blanket. The blanket will set your whole color scheme. I found this on on Etsy. I love the colors!


This next find is my favorite: my table in a bag from Crate and Barrel!!! So handy, so easy to put together, it looks great and it always gets compliments. It is the right height to sit on the ground and to keep your food away from ants. I think a table is a must, plus it adds levels to your setting.

Lastly for your setting, you will need your picnic basket. I will suggest two. One would be the handy carriers that have all your tableware packed and ready to go. You can find these at Target. Because I tend to over pack, my things would never fit in that bag. Are you kidding me? So, I suggest bringing along a REAL picnic basket. They just make it feel so much more like a picnic!


The Menu…

1. Homemade lemon garlic hummus and pita wedges

2. Caprese sandwich (check out these amazing variations from Closet Cooking)

3. Spiked red, white and blue fruit skewers

4. Strawberry Lemonade

Fruit Skewers

  • 1 pkg blueberries
  • 1 pkg raspberries
  • 1 pkg strawberries
  • 1 pkg marshmallows
  • Vodka
  • Bamboo skewers

Wash and dry all fruit. Core strawberries and place in a bowl. Fill the bowl with vodka until it just covers the strawberries. Soak for 3-4 hours. Meanwhile, skewer the remaining fruit and marshmallows alternating red, white and blue. When the strawberries are done soaking, place them on the end. Save the vodka.


Strawberry Lemonade

Use your favorite recipe for lemonade or use a mix.

  • 1 crushed strawberry per glass
  • 1 strawberry to garnish per glass

This one is pretty self explanatory. However, I suggest using the yummy left over vodka {from the strawberries} and make it a mixed drink. YUMMMMM!


The Game…

So if you haven’t played Corn Hole, you are seriously missing out! This is the perfect picnic game. You can even get it with an easy to carry bag. They also have personalized sets. Mine is OU!!

Ok one last tip: BE PREPARED!!

I suggest you pack the following just in case: papertowels, hand sanitizer, moist towelettes, a tide stick and a cell phone.

You have to be prepared for a picnic disaster. You never know when your picnic neighbors will get pooped on by a bird. Yes, this happened to me on July 4th. I didn’t get pooped on, but my picnic neighbor did……in the face!!! Luckily I was there with my “clean up” kit filled with the above to save the day! Not only did I get compared to Martha Stewart, but we exchanged numbers and are planning a get together. You just never know!!!

all, we haven’t had a guest blogger in sooooo long! please welcome back, mrs. kendall jordan porter – the newly married lady as she talks about her new town – birmingham, alabama…

 

hello mpress readers! i am so excited to be back with you today. in honor of my husband (still so fun to say!) & i moving to birmingham, let’s chat about the fun places to go in this beautiful, BEAUTIFUL city.

first, & closest to my heart is the most adorable bakery i have ever laid eyes upon – dreamcakes weddings & bakery. in addition to all of the fabulous things dreamcakes & i have in common – love of all things pretty & pink, a need for super neat handwriting, & a slight obsession with lowercase letters – the cupcakes are so yummy. cookies & cream, tiramisu, caramel sea salt mocha. yummmm.

a totally new idea to me that we discovered is a coffee cupping at primavera coffee roasters. the same idea as wine tasting, but a coffee cupping teaches you the entire coffee process from the farm to your cup, different types of beans, & the correct way to “slurp” your coffee when tasting it. we learned that the louder the slurp, the better slurper you are. this was a fun afternoon activity.

flip burger boutique is a great hip gastro-pub joint with delicious food & interesting beers. blake, my husband, of course, swooned over his burger – caramelized onion, blue cheese, red wine jam. so good. i also loved my “flip burger” (ie not a hamburger) – tuna tartare with pine nuts, garlic, wasabi mayo, avacado, cucumber, & more. but the real deal sealer was the nutella + burnt marshmallow liquid N2 milkshake.

there.are.not.words.to.describe.the.deliciousness.

& in case you are into things other than consumption, there are also gorgeous places to go hiking in birmy! check out my blog post & pictures @ love, the porters.

love love, kjp.

let’s welcome back guest blogger, teresa dotson (momma t) today! she just recently returned from new orleans, and has some great ideas for food, shopping & where to stay!

Laissez les bons temps rouler! is the Cajun expression meaning “Let the good times roll!” It strongly conveys the “joie de vivre” (“joy of living”) attitude that pervades south Louisiana. It is mostly associated with New Orleans (one of my favorite cities) and one in which my hubby and I had the great pleasure of visiting for his birthday!

We’ve been coming here for years and it never fails to provide us with an abundance of terrific food, lively entertainment, COMPLETE relaxation and gorgeous viewing of architecture, flowers, and happy, happy folks.

Because we drive, we spend a night in Natchitoches, LA (where Steel Magnolias was filmed!) and this time we stayed at a very lovely bed and breakfast – The Levy-East House, which was really nice and right downtown, within walking distance to shops and restaurants. It was a wonderful place and we would definitely stay there again. We always enjoy our first couple of pounds of hot boiled crawfish here too; if you are any way into mudbugs I highly recommend this place!

Lovely room!

Back of B & B

Azaelas everywhere!

The relaxation has begun

Mudbugs rule!

This bridge takes us over the Mississippi River into Baton Rouge – I was driving and this always gives me the heebie jeebies! Quite a view when you are going over the river but I can’t look down (because I’m driving and because I am too heebed out!)

Yikes!

Upon our arrival in New Orleans we headed straight to Central Grocery for a muffuletta sandwich; another culinary highlight! Central Grocery is a small, old-fashioned Italian-American grocery store with a sandwich counter located in the French Quarter. Just looking at these sandwiches make me hungry!

The two-handed method is best!

We’ve been staying at the Hotel Villa Convento for several years; it’s a quaint, charming little guest house on one end of the quarter. We try to get a balcony room so we can do alot of this:

Another one of our very favorite places is the Acme Oyster House on Iberville. Dang, I can barely look at this web site without craving some of that incredible food – and I just got back! We have spent ALOT of hours here eating fantastic oysters, fried seafood platters, many beers and almost always meet new friends at the oyster bar! It’s always crowded, busy, loud, fun and AWESOME! These pics might give you an idea:

You just have to top off the night with a stroll down Bourbon street to take in all the revelry!

The next day we decided to take the streetcar to the Garden District and Magazine street which is a 6-mile long neighborhood avenue with tons of darling shops and antique stores. We walked ALOT but that’s the only way to justify eating all the food; hoping we can at least physically stroll off some calories! This little old restaurant is now one of our favorites – if you ever watch Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, it was recently featured there.

Beads in the trees!

There was a Pirate gathering in the French Quarter – don’t ask me why! That’s what we love about New Orleans; there is always a random parade or gathering of just about anything!

welcome back guest blogger ashley nelson! today she’ll be talking about her trip to san francisco for a bachelorette party! she and her friends looked like they had an absolute blast in san fran. from the decorations to the wine tasting – it was an event i’m sure they’ll never forget!

A mere 11 days ago, my girlfriends from Texas and I were all arriving in San Francisco getting ready for what was quite possibly one of the best girls weekends and bachelorette parties ever! The bachelorette party was in honor of our good friend Laurie who is getting married in Dallas at the end of April. m.press cards (aka Cari) created the most wonderful black and pink invitations for the weekend which helped set the theme for the shower (as well as the weekend!) See Cari’s post on the invites here . If you have not been to San Francisco, then you are missing out. Our group of ten stayed at the W San Francisco, which was beyond fabulous! The staff at the hotel was top-notch and incredibly accommodating. We were fortunate enough to book the Fantastic Suite at the W, where we held Laurie’s lingerie shower. The room could not have been more perfect – the décor throughout the hotel is very modern with a bit of trendiness mixed in and is located in San Francisco’s Union Square area. Below is a selection of restaurants and touristy activities I would highly recommend should you visit San Francisco in the future!

Fantastic Suite at the W – Lingerie Shower!

Actual shower décor on the left and our décor inspiration courtesy of Utterly Engaged

Saturday evening, post lingerie shower, we went to a fabulous tapas restaurant called Andalu. This restaurant had been rated as the best place to dine with a large party and they could not have been more correct. Andalu was ideal. We sat down to a tasting menu with ten different small plate options for each of us to choose from and an all you can drink sangria option as well. Read the NBC review here if you don’t believe me!

{via Andalu website}

On Sunday, we were up and ready to go with a 10 AM bottomless $9 mimosa brunch at Circa. The food here was phenomenal – bacon, egg and cheese sliders anyone?! The mimosa’s were bubbly and not too orange juicy; the atmosphere was lively and upbeat. After brunch, we set off to be tourists for the day! We walked down to see the Golden Gate Bridge, which is an obvious must for any visitors! From there, we made our way to Ghirardelli Square to do what one does there – stop by Ghirardelli Chocolate Company’s flagship store to sample the yumminess of their chocolates and make a few necessary purchases to send home to our moms. Little known fact – they’ve been in business since 1852, so they are doing something right!

Circa

Golden Gate Bridge {via Cupcakes and Cashmere}

Ghiradelli Chocolate Shop

Following the sweets stop, we made our way to jump on the infamous Hyde Street Cable Car, which took us up Hyde Street and even past Lombard Street, San Fran’s most crooked street! You must take the cable car when in San Francisco! We rode up to Union Square just around the corner from our hotel.

Hyde Street Cable Car (via personal photos)

On Monday, we decided to partake in a group wine tour. This was a must for our group of girls and we simply knew that we could not leave the San Francisco area without visiting Napa Valley and Sonoma. I highly recommend that you do not skip this either. We kicked off the day long trip to the wine country with a little drizzly rain (note: to be expected in San Fran) and made our way to Muir Woods to see the Red Wood trees, which was delightful.

Muir Woods Redwood Forest

Next stop … wine tastings! The first winery was Cline Cellers, a delightful little winery in Napa, which specialized in Zinfandels. Of course with our discount, most of the girls in our group purchased Cline’s 2008 ancient vines Zinfandel – described as a rambunctious, bright and zippy wine!

Wine tasting at Cline with our new friend Ralph!

Our second winery was the Kunde Vineyard where we had a wonderful time! We got to visit the wine cellars underground, where there was volcanic rock that surrounded their barrels of wine. We all purchased the 2008 Gewurztraminer which was amazing!

{Photo via Kunde Winery website}

Our last vineyard was the Jacuzzi Family Winery. This was a beautiful winery where we got to enjoy not only a wine tasting, but also an olive oil and vinaigrette tasting in The Olive Press. This was a wonderful end to our wine tour as we all purchased a bottle of wine and sipped in enjoyment!


{Photo via Jacuzzi Family Winery website}

For more ideas on sites to see, things to do and places to eat and stay in San Francisco, check out local San Fran blogger’s SF Girl by Bay & Cupcakes and Cashmere. I also would look into Brooklyn Nomad’s Sunday City Spotlight post about San Francisco! I am sure you will fall in love with this city as much as we did!

XX


all – please welcome back guest blogger miss autumn! autumn just recently moved back to our hometown of norman, oklahoma (BOOMER!) and started working at the Abbott House. here she talks more about it and how you can help out!

  • Nationally a report of child abuse is made every ten seconds.  That means that while you are reading this article, about six children will be harmed and their lives will forever be changed. 
  • April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month.  A month dedicated to the education, advocacy and prevention of child abuse.  The Mary Abbott Children’s House is on the frontlines of this battle.

What are YOU doing to stop child abuse? To find a child advocacy center near you, go to http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org, and take a stand against child abuse.

Mary Abbott Children’s House is a child-centered program focused on reducing the trauma of victims of abuse through state-of-the-art, comprehensive forensic interviews that allow a child to tell his painful story only once. In laymen terms, that means that we create a safe, child-friendly location for children to tell their story. In traditional systems, children are asked to tell their painful story over and over again to all parties involved (including law enforcement, child welfare services, family advocates, forensic interviewers, etc.). What makes us different, is that we get all of the right people together all at once, and record the interview with state-of-the art equipment. This reduces the trauma they are forced to endure and starts them on their process to healing. Through our program, more offenders are convicted; they serve longer sentences; they are taken off the streets, sparing future children the pain; and the child is directed toward counseling and healing service providers. In other words, the healing starts at Abbott House.

For more information about Abbott House, call (405) 579-5800, or go to www.abbott-house.org, or visit our blog at www.maryabbottchildrenshouse.wordpress.org.

let’s welcome back guest blogger kendall beller! get excited because it’s about baking today. i challenge you all to make these and report back. happy baking!

{cupcakes sign via etsy}

three things i love are baking, cupcakes, & martha stewart.  (i wish she hadn’t committed the whole insider-trading thing – so maybe i don’t love her morals, just her cooking & wedding advice)!  so when i came across martha’s snickerdoodle cupcake recipe, i knew it was going to be a happy day.  enjoy every bite, but maybe share with a friend or two.

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ c all-purpose flour                                      1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp

1 ½ c cake flour                                                     1 ¾ c sugar

1 T baking powder                                                4 large eggs

½ tsp salt                                                                 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 T ground cinnamon                                          1 ¼ c milk

DIRECTIONS

preheat over to 350º & line standard muffin tins with cute paper liners. {i encourage you to look here or here}. sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, & cinnamon. martha says to use a whisk instead of going through the labor intensive sifting process.

with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter & sugar until fluffy. add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. beat in vanilla. reducing speed to low, as not to get flour all over your entire kitchen. add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, & beating until combined after each.

divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about ¾ the way full. bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester {try this one} inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

while cooling, make this delicious frosting: martha’s brown sugar + cream cheese frosting.

INGREDIENTS

½ c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp

8 oz cream cheese, room temp

1 c packed light-brown sugar

DIRECTIONS

in an electric mixer, mix all three ingredients on medium speed until smooth. spread frosting on cooled cupcakes & sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar!

let’s give a warm welcome this week for m.pressed guest blogger – teresa dotson (aka – momma t). she’s gotten inspired by seeing Mary Poppins in theater last weekend and wants everyone to get their culture on!

It’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

There’s nothing like going to the theatre for an opening night show – the banners, the marquees with the show’s name in lights, finding your seats and glad you paid extra for a close row, the sound of the orchestra as it begins its musical medley, and finally the lights going down and the curtain coming up! IT’S SHOWTIME!

I had the pleasure of attending the opening night showing of “Mary Poppins” at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts with my precious daughter last Friday. It was terrific! They had incredible talent on the stage – from the energetic dancers to the amazing acting and singing of Jane and Michael Banks, and our personal favorite: BERT the Chimney sweep! If you get a chance to catch this, please do – it’s a truly wonderful show!

I think everyone should treat themselves to a little culture every now and then. It’s a nice change from going out to eat or taking in a movie. And it doesn’t even have to be a Broadway production; it can be a community theater act, a poetry reading, or even a high school play. It’s a wonderful activity to take in and besides that, these actors work very hard and deserve a loving audience to support them! With spring and summer approaching, the opportunities will be out there for all kinds of events – from expensive to really affordable so try to get out there and support the arts!

After seeing Mary Poppins I am now inspired to take up tap dancing, drink more tea, and fly a kite!

POST EVERYONE!

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