Easy Entertaining: Finger Food Finds on Pinterest

Over the holidays we spent several nights entertaining with our families. Given the responsibility of coming up with some different appetizer and finger food dishes, I turned to Pinterest. I had already created a Finger Food and Appetizer board so it was easy to go there and pick a few items that would work.

We needed food that was good for a casual get-together, not too greasy or unhealthy (good-bye buffalo chicken bites) and could be prepared ahead of time.

Here is what we made and all of them ended up being huge crowd pleasers. I also loved that they were so easy to do and required little prep time.

Pears with Goat Cheese, Cranberries and Pistachio

This was so simple and requires no cooking skills. Simply slice the pear, toss in fresh orange or lemon juice, add some goat cheese and press in a few dried cranberries and pistachios. I used orange juice and herbed goat cheese.

Find original recipe and picture from Sweet Potato Chronicles.

Baked Brie with Cranberries, Honey and Orange Zest

The recipe said fresh cranberries, but since I already had dried cranberries from the pears I just went with that to be more cost effective. No one noticed.

Find original recipe and picture from Real Simple blog.

Grilled Zucchini Roll-Ups

We had to take advantage of being in Southern California and having access to a grill. These roll-ups I found (and pinned) on Cooking Light were great. The biggest challenge was thinly slicing the zucchini by hand, so I’d recommend using a mandoline if you have it.

Original recipe and picture from Cooking Light recipes.

Have you tried any recipes from Pinterest? How did it turn out?

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Meet Mayzie

Meet Mayzie, our French Bulldog who is really more like our first child. I mentioned her earlier, but felt like she deserved her own post so that I could share a couple of pictures (out of hundreds).

After lots of research, meeting breeders, attending dog shows and applying for puppies (yes, there are applications) we finally found a wonderful breeder who had the perfect puppy for us. We named her Mayzie after a character from Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hatches a Egg” and Seussical.

We were able to bring Mayzie home at 11 weeks old. She weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces.

Since she wasn’t finished with her vaccinations we had to carry her when we went outside or to walk to work. Her preferred method of transport that 1st week or 2 was my purse. We’re very lucky that she gets to go to work with us.

The first week of having a puppy was so fun and exciting, but exhausting. We were up multiple times in the night and it was like we had a newborn. I’ve never had so much worry and anxiety over a dog. I have no idea how we will handle real children! I literally took her to the vet once a week for the first month because I thought something wrong. Basic conclusion was that she was a picky eater and adjusting to her new home so I should just relax.

She’s had the sweetest personality from the very beginning. She loves people, dogs and especially kids.

We had a puppy reunion with her sister, mom and other dogs she grew up with at the breeder’s house. It was cute overload with Frenchies and puppies everywhere. In the picture above Mayzie is the puppy on the left with the pink collar. This is her and her sister reuniting with their mom.

She loves to cuddle in our arms or lap and will let you know if you are not doing it “right.”

She usually prefers to sit in blanket on your lap.

You can see how much she has grown. I’ve tried to take pictures in her bed at work to track the growth. For awhile she was gaining a little less than a pound each week. She’ll probably be between 21 and 23 pounds full grown. She is 18 pounds right now.

Enjoying the warm weather in Southern California over Christmas and having the time of her life.

And that is a quick introduction to Mayzie! Hope you enjoyed the pictures.

In future posts I’ll write about the process of finding a French Bulldog. It was a tough process and hard to find good information on how to find a good dog and breeder. Because frenchies are such a popular breed there are unfortunately a lot of unethical breeders and unhealthy dogs out there.  I hope that our story and experience can help others who want one of these sweet puppies.


Easy Entertaining: The Tendency to Over-Complicate

Mark and I love to have people over. It allows for quality time, easy conversation without the noise of a loud restaurant or being on the timetable of a waiter trying to turn over a table. We both enjoy cooking and it’s a good way to make use of all our various kitchen gadgets. While I love the chance to go out and try a new restaurant in San Francisco, sometimes it’s nice to have a meal at home with good company.

The problem with entertaining is that sometimes I over-complicate and stress over silly things. Silly things like figuring out how to make 5 new, semi-complicated dishes that I saw on a blog that are really more than I bargained for or should be attempting at once. How do I get 3 hot dishes timed correctly to serve for dinner when I only have 1 electric oven? To decorate or not; will I seem like a crazy Martha Stewart if I make those labels I saw on Pinterest? Do we play games or not? What if they don’t like the food? I want the food to be fresh, but not spend the evening in the kitchen ignore the guests.

Do you get the picture? I worry over things that probably aren’t an issue or it’s an issue I’m creating (like attempting 5 new semi-complicated dishes an hour before company arrives). However, as time goes on I’m picking up our own ways to make things simple, but nice as well as getting new inspiration and ideas from other blogs or pinterest browsing.

This will be a new series on “easy entertaining” as I share tips I’ve learned over time, my own hosting successes and failures, ideas for the future, inspirational finds and my entertaining experiences along the way. Plus I’m hoping this series gives me the extra motivation to try new things when we have friends over.

Do you entertain often? Do you ever over-complicate?


Hello 2012

I can’t believe it’s been this long since I last posted. Time has seriously gotten away from me this year. It’s been a busy, but overall good year. I’m sure there are things to go back to in the next few posts, but in the spirit of posting regularly and escaping the pressure of a 1 year lapse in blogging, I’m going to just focus present time and what’s been going on lately.

Golden Gate Bridge

2011 Quick Highlights
Really there is much more that happened than this. We’ve had some fun memories this year, but here are a few big things that happened.

  1. Celebrating 1 year in San Francisco. We’ve been lucky to experience some really amazing things here and grow both individually and as a couple. We’ve been to parades, festivals, incredible restaurants, baseball games, theater and explored the various neighborhoods in this 7×7 mile space.
  2. Family and Friends visiting us in the city. One of the best parts of living in San Francisco is that we live in a place that people want to see. We have been so lucky to have many friends and our families come visit several times since we’ve moved. It’s always a highlight of that month and gives an excuse to discover more things in this city.
  3. Oregon for Annie’s wedding. We went to Portland, Oregon this summer for one of my best friend’s wedding. We got to catch up with friends and see a beautiful new place. I hope we can make it back soon.
  4. 2 year anniversary. So much has happened in the 2 years since we got married. We did our annual celebration and dinner out at a fun restaurant that’s been on my wishlist. We went to Michael Mina this year. I also got the best gift ever. See below.
  5. Mayzie! If you know me in person or have previously read this blog, you know that I’m a dog person. A French Bulldog puppy joined our little family as our 2nd anniversary present. We researched and looked for a breeder for about 6 months before we found Mayzie, but she was worth the wait. More on her in later posts…
  6. Holidays in Southern California. We drove down to visit our families for both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. It was so nice to be down there and visit people and places we miss. Mayzie also enjoyed the road trip and warm Southern California weather.

2012 To-Do List and Goals
I am not going to say resolutions because I think it’s too easy to break those. These are some general goals that I think are very doable. There is also our San Francisco & Bay Area To-Do list which features many things that I want to do, eat and experience. I won’t share everything here because the list is very long, but mention some overall themes of the list. Here we go…

  1. Get back into crafting more. I’m sad to admit I didn’t do too much crafting last year or as much as I would have liked. I miss it though and need the creative outlet. I’m hoping that blogging will encourage me to create new things and find inspiration in the blogging community. I want to incorporate some crafting into parties and entertaining as well.
  2. Brush up on photography and photoshop. My senior year in college I took a photography class to fill in some remaining credits and wanted something fun. I was definitely out of place as a psychology major in a land of photoshop gurus, comms majors and others who had spent a majority of their college life on an apple. It ended up being one of my favorite classes, but I’ve lost much of the knowledge over the last few years. Time to get out the camera again.
  3. Visit Bay Area destinations. We are an hour drive away from some really incredible places. Time to plan some weekend and day trips to Napa, Sonoma, Monteray, Half Moon Bay, the Redwoods and more.
  4. Health, working towards a better me and enjoying it. I got a good start on this at the end of 2011, but I want to continue to make better food choices, find an exercise routine I enjoy and lose the few extra pounds that are hanging on. I don’t enjoy running and often wander around aimlessly at the gym. I hope to find a routine that works for me and that I can enjoy.
  5. Cooking more and mastering new things. I hope to try making new things and master a few recipes in my collection of cookbooks that have just been flagged for too long. Along with this I want to use fresh ingredients and ingredients I have not tried before. In a addition to healthy cooking, there a few cookie and dessert recipes from new cookbooks that deserve the splurge.
  6. San Francisco To-Dos. I say this generally because there are so many places I want to see and a list of restaurants I hope to try. I want to consciously get out and do new things vs. opting to just stay in or do the same routine on the weekends.
  7. Take a vacation. It’s been a few years since we took a true vacation that wasn’t just to go visit family. I hope to get some time away to explore a new place, relax and get quality time with Mark.
By the way, do you like the new blog design? All credit goes to Joy from How Joyful Design Studio. If you are looking for a custom design or a premade (like me), she has it all. And is amazingly creative and sweet as well. Also, the buttons on the right sidebar will lead you to my Pinterest board (where I spend way too much time), twitter and a few other fun things.

That’s it for now. What is on your to-do list for 2012?


Happy New Year and A Few Thoughts

Happy New Year my friends!  Yeah, I’ve been MIA. But, one of my resolutions is to be better about posting and updating among other things.

Here are a few things on my mind that I thought I would share with you and catch up a bit while I try to get back into my blogging groove.  Not sure if groove is the right word, but it will do.

1. Had a wonderful holiday break in Southern California with family and friends.  While SF is great, I miss all the people down there and it was nice to have some time with them.

2. My husband is the best. He bought me two pairs of shoes for Christmas. He must truly understand and love me to give me shoes. Rainboots and yellow peep toes.

3. I really want a dog.  Like reeaallly bad. At night I look for websites of local breeders for miniature schnauzers, french bulldogs and wire hair fox terriers among others. It might be a little pathetic.

4. We are having a string of bad luck with planes related to Las Vegas.  First when we actually went to Las Vegas 3 of our 4 flight attempts were canceled. Then every plane we have been on in the last 2 weeks has been delayed due to flying from Vegas. Not sure what this means.  But I liked Las Vegas and want to go back, if planes decide to cooperate.

5. We are cooking more. I account this to the fact the I received Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc and Ina Garten’s How Easy is That? for Christmas. I’m inspired.

6. One of my resolutions is to be better about sending things in the mail. Nothing crazy but birthday cards, just hello etc.  I think this will also help me use some of my crafty gadgets more.

7. The Pioneer Woman is coming to San Francisco for her book tour.  I mean, her blog is a daily read. her cookbook is on my kitchen counter right now and she inspired me to buy this Lego Christmas gift for Mark. I should meet her even if I do feel like a nerdy fan.

What is new with you?

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