DIY Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

DIY Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

Cinco de Mayo
Courtesy of Brit+Co

If you’re looking for a holiday to throw a party in May how about a Cinco de Mayo celebration?

Cinco de Mayo, celebrated on May 5, is not the Mexican Independence Day, that’s on September 16.  This holiday is celebrated both in Mexico and the US to commemorate the Mexican army’s victory over Napoleon III’s French forces on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla.

The holiday is celebrated in Mexico, specially in the state of Puebla, but in recent years it’s become more of an American holiday than a Mexican one.  Many Americans don’t really know its significance but head out to their favorite Mexican restaurant for a nice plate of Mexican food and a few margaritas.

This year why not celebrate at home and throw your own “fiesta” for family and friends; at least you won’t have to worry about having too many margaritas.

Make it fun and interesting.  Hold a salsa, chili, or guacamole  contest; ask friends and relatives to make their favorite salsa, chili, or guacamole and bring it to the party.  Everyone will have a blast sampling the entries and judging who has the best.

Put up a colorful backdrop and add some props, sombreros, maracas, serapes, etc. for a photo booth.

Here are a few budget ideas for your Cinco de Mayo Fiesta.

*Clicking on a product name will take you to an Amazon Affiliate link.

Cinco de Mayo
Courtesy of Brit + Co

What’s a fiesta without lots of colors and a pinata?  Learn how to make these “pinata” decor from Brit + Co.  It’s easy, all you need are bright colored tissue paper, scissors, and a glue gun.

Instructions click here!

Cinco de Mayo
Courtesy of Planning it All

Planning it All decorates with paper lanterns.

Cinco de Mayo
Courtesy of Adore Pics

Keep the menu simple with a Nacho or Taco Bar.  Let guests make their own nachos or tacos so you can enjoy your own party.

Cinco de Mayo
Courtesy of Celebrations at Home

Churros for dessert; a churro bar or in paper cones.

Cinco de Mayo
Courtesy of Wedding Chicks

For drinks you can do a Sangria or Margarita Bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cinco de Mayo
Found on Pinterest

For non-alcoholic drinks set out a bucket of Jarritos!

Roasting the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Roasting the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

This time of year I get hungry for a juicy turkey dinner!  It’s no wonder, Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  It’s about the only time of year that I roast a whole turkey.

I still remember my first time roasting a turkey, I had no idea what to do.  Over the years I’ve perfected it, and my family expects a Thanksgiving feast every year.

In recent years deep frying turkeys have been real popular.  I’ve heard deep fried turkeys are delicious, but in our family you don’t experiment on a Thanksgiving turkey.  So I’ve always roasted my turkey in the oven using the brown bag method.  I’ve been roasting my turkeys this way for over 30 years.  It’s easy, no basting involved.
You just place the turkey, roasting pan, and rack,  in to a brown paper bag, slide it in to the oven and roast for the required time.  You tear off the bag about 30 minutes before it’s done to get the nice golden brown color.  When the timer rings take the turkey out of the oven and let rest for 15 – 30 minutes before carving.

Trust me you’ll end up with a delicious juicy turkey.  You’re family will love it!

Here are instructions for Savvy Nana’s Brown Bag Roasted Turkey!  Psst!  There’s a roasting chart on that post too!  Believe me it will come in handy!

My 24 pound bird last year.  Perfect!

Last year’s Thanksgiving feast at my house.

Thanksgiving at my daughter’s house in Colorado.  Smaller bird cooked the same way, perfect every time!

12 Recipes Using Hard Boiled Easter Eggs

12 Recipes Using Hard Boiled Easter Eggs

 

Easter Sunday will be much more perfect if your house is anything like mine you will have at least a couple of dyed hard boiled eggs on your hands before lunchtime.

My first inclination is usually to chop the eggs up and make egg salad sandwiches for lunch for the next few days if not longer.

This year if you want to try something a bit different here are some recipes using hard boiled eggs along with some new twists on old time favorites like egg salad sandwiches and deviled eggs.

Try out one or two, perhaps you’ll find a new family favorite to make year round.  Click on picture for recipe.

To make these recipes you will need hard boiled eggs.  Click here for a tutorial on how to make the perfect hard boiled eggs from Recipe Lion.

Hard Boiled Easter Eggs

Add a bit of zip to regular deviled eggs with my Roasted Red Pepper Deviled Eggs.  It’s become a family favorite![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Hard Boiled Easter Eggs
Make your favorite deviled egg recipe into these pretty pastel eggs.
Here’s a photo tutorial on how to dye your hard boiled eggs from Donkey and Carrot.  Just dye the whites and pipe in your favorite yolk mixture![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Hard Boiled Easter EggsOr serve these deviled egg chicks from She Knows. [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Hard Boiled Easter EggsLighten up your egg salad recipe by using adding Greek Yogurt.  Here’s a recipe from Damn Delicious.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Hard Boiled Easter EggsHere’s another egg salad recipe from My Yummy Life using Greek Yogurt, this one adds a bit of dill for some extra yum![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]
Hard Boiled Easter Eggs 
Two Peas and Their Pod has a great recipe for Avocado Egg Salad.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Hard Boiled Easter EggsFor a lower carb alternative try these Light Egg Salad Wraps by Lady Behind the Curtain.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Hard Boiled Easter EggsSkip the Egg Salad and use those hard boiled eggs in this Egg Wrap with Avocado and Ham from the Cookin Canuck.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Hard Boiled Easter EggsTry these Scotched Eggs, they’re a complete meal!  Hard boiled eggs wrapped in sausage with a crispy shell.  Here’s a recipe for Baked Scotched Eggs from Left Side of the Table. [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

 

Hard Boiled Easter EggsFor something a bit with a bit more spice try these Egg Masala Curry  In Spicy Tomato Gravy from Lisa’s Kitchen.
Served over rice this would make a filling meal. [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]
Hard Boiled Easter EggsHere’s another Egg Curry, Indian Onion and Yogurt Egg Curry recipe from Girl Cooks World, this one uses Greek Yogurt.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

 

 

 


 

Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina – Great Dubai Resort!

Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina – Great Dubai Resort!

Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & MarinaTo say that Dubai has a ton of  hotels would be an understatement.  I believe there are almost 600 hotels in this city state that covers 1,588 square miles, that’s roughly the size of Rhode Island which covers an area of 1,544 square miles.  And the hotel count is growing with 140 more set to open in 2016 and still more during  the next 4 years to accommodate visitors expected to flock to Dubai during the World Expo in 2020.

So there definitely isn’t a shortage of hotel rooms! There are hotels to fit all types of travelers and budgets.  From low end hotels in the old city to super luxury resorts on Palm Island Dubai has it all. We’ve stayed in several different hotels there, including the JW Marriot Hotel Dubai in Deira,  the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Beach Hotel & Resort,  and the Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina.

All three are great hotels.  They’re comfortable, luxurious, have awesome service, and great locations.  But our all time favorite is the Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina, specially when the kids and grandkids are with us, they love the Westin.

Most of the resorts in Dubai, special those located in Jumeirah or on Palm Island are very kid friendly, but from my experience the Westin is the least expensive for the this class of hotel, depending on the season rates start at about $250 – 350 per night for a standard room.  Believe me other luxury hotels in the area charge more.

westinWe usually book Executive Club Rooms that have sea views and come with perks like breakfast, afternoon tea, cocktail hour, and all day drinks at the Executive Lounge located on the 8th. floor.

An Executive Club room starts at about $350 a night.  When you have kids it’s sometimes worth the extra dollars spent on the Executive room to have access to free drinks and snacks all day.  [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

 

 

 

Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina

Blue Orange Restaurant

We also try to book the room to include breakfast, yes the Executive Club rooms include breakfast at the Lounge, but we love the buffet breakfast at the Blue Orange Restaurant located on the ground floor.

Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina

Play area in the Blue Orange Restaurant

The space is much larger with a greater variety of food choices, and has a play area for the kids.  I did say the hotel was very kid friendly![spacer height=”-20px”]

 

Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina

Fresh crepes at the Blue Orange Restaurant

Not to mention their crepes are amazing!

The buffet breakfast is pretty pricey if it’s not included in the room rate.  It’s about $40 per person and children under 12 are half price.

If you can’t get the breakfast package when you make your reservation you can splurge on the breakfast buffet at least a couple of times during your stay.  It’s so worth it![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

 

 

IMG_2735Ok other than the amazing breakfast buffet here are other reasons why we love this resort.

The rooms are spacious with ample storage, the beds very comfortable, and the bathroom luxurious with plush towels, robes, and slippers. Each room is equipped with a handy Nespresso coffee machine which housekeeping restocks at least once a day.  Did I mention they clean the rooms twice daily and have turn down service?  The kids love the little chocolates they leave on the pillows!  So yes the resort is luxurious and has awesome service.

On a tangent the kids loved the welcome gifts they receive when we check -in.  They each got a little backpack filled with vacation essentials; a disposable camera, water bottle, and beach toys.  I think the concierge gave them the gifts while we were checking in.  I can’t quite remember I was busy with the welcome drink and snack they let you munch on while checking in.  The cold towels they offer at check in was much appreciated too.  I told you they were awesome!

Oh and speaking of awesome the concierge will loan you a child’s car seat if you need one, free!  They add a small deposit to your room charge until you return the seat, then they remove the charge.  Fair enough because it was a very nice car seat.  Saved us a bundle too, Hertz was going to charge us $20 a day to rent Jett’s car seat and we were there for 2 weeks!

The concierge will also handle lost luggage, I mean luggage that the airlines very nicely lost for you on your way to Dubai.  A couple of years ago the airlines (not Emirates) somehow misplaced all our luggage.  The Westin’s concierge followed up for us and as they were delivered we found them already in our rooms.  It took the airlines  3 days to finally deliver them all.  The concierge kept us appraised of our luggage situation daily until they were all delivered, took the stress of arguing with the airlines away!

Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & MarinaAmong the best features of this hotel is the beautiful stretch of beach on the property, it’s quite a long stretch as the Westin is connected to its sister property Le Meridien, another great hotel.  Guests at either resort have access to both resorts amenities including the pools, kids’ club and play area, and restaurants.

It’s a private beach and from there you can see across to Palm Island.   The kids loved splashing in the very warm Gulf water and collecting the many shells scattered on the beach.

 

westinWhen they’re not at the beach the kids love the pools.  The children’s pool is shaded by a tarp.  It has a small water slide and a little cave the kids can play in.  The lifeguards are very friendly and attentive.   By the end of our last stay they were calling the kids by name!

IMG_2265

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IMG_3019And whether you’re on the beach or at the pool the pool valets are always around.  They pass around cold water and small cups of cold juices and the always welcome cold towels and misters, all free of charge.  You can also order drinks, snacks, or lunch.  Just ask for a menu and they’ll be happy to bring it.  Food and beverages are charged to your room of course.   How much more pampered can you be?

While you’re at the pool you can enjoy some adult time with out the kids by dropping them off at the kids’ club, it’s located by the beach between the 2 resorts. A schedule of kids’ activities is posted by the towel kiosk as you enter the pool area.  There’re many different activities through out the day.

The Kids’ Club staff are very good.  When you first sign up the manager will let you know what the activities are and will list down any special needs your child may have including food allergies.  Snacks are provided and you can arrange for your child to have lunch there as well.  They will also ask for a list of people who you authorize to sign your child in and out of the club.

IMG_2291 IMG_2295The Kids’ Club area is very safe and secure.  There’s an out door play area with play ground equipment on the beach side, but you don’t have to worry, it’s fenced in and has no beach exits.  The indoor play areas is air conditioned and has books, toys, video games, and movies for your child to use.    For younger children they have art activities and story time, for older kids they have sports including soccer and basketball.  Did I mention most activities are free?[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

IMG_2559My grandson Dion participated in the Banana Boat ride.  The activity cost about $8 and was scheduled for one afternoon a week.  He had a blast!

IMG_2547We watched him from the comfort of the beach lounges!

But the water fun isn’t limited to kids! The water sports center rents jet skis, kayaks, speedboats, and more. Remember it is a Resort & Marina!

And of course there’s a gym and their Heavenly Spa.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

The Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina really does have something for everyone.  It’s a great family friendly hotel at a great location.   It’s fun and comfortable resort at a great location, with excellent service, and great restaurants.  That’s why it’s our favorite reasonably priced resort in Dubai!

For other kid friendly hotels in Dubai click here!  For budget friendly Dubai hotels click here!


Crocheted Kitchen Hot Pads – FREE Crochet Pattern

Crocheted Kitchen Hot Pads – FREE Crochet Pattern

Hot PadsWell the new year is officially here.  At our house that means a year of events to look forward to.  But before I can start planning our next event I had to clean up and organize after a very busy holiday season.

My kitchen was a mess!  Specially this year when our refrigerator decided to go on the blitz on Christmas Eve.  We found ourselves shopping for a new fridge the day after Christmas, when did they get so expensive?

We found one at the Home Depot who delivered it to our home the day after New Year.  This gave me enough time to clean and organize my kitchen with time to spare.  I figured our new state of the art 30 cu. ft. LG fridge equipped with all the bells and whistles called for new and fresh kitchen accessories to go with the Nesspresso machine, pasta machine, silverware, and other kitchen gadgets I got for Christmas.  So what could I make?

I had made several sets of these colorful trivets or hot pads to give friends for Christmas, but I didn’t make any for myself.  Now that I had a bit of spare time I decided I should make a set or two for myself.  I love this design, the ring makes for easy storage.  You can hang them on a hook, a cabinet or drawer pull, or even on the faucet if you choose to use them as dish cloths.  Best of all they’re super easy to make, each one took me less than an hour!  The shower curtain ring covered in yarn keeps these trivets neat and handy.  Make some for yourself or to give as gifts.  They make great hostess and house warming gifts!

I’m giving you directions for 2 versions of the same pad, one is done using HDC (pictured above) the other is a front post HDC (pictured below).  Either one is cute and easy.

Materials:

#4 yarn in cotton or material you prefer in the color or colors you prefer
Hook Size J 6.00mm
Plastic shower curtain ring – you can pick up a set at Walmart for under $2.  You can get any color, but I prefer the clear ones.   This set just needs one ring, you can save the others for other projects.

Stitches:

Ch – chain
Sl St – slip stitch
SC – single crochet
HDC – half double crochet

Directions:

Magic ring – Ch 1

36 SC in the circle.  Pull tight and Sl St to first SC.

Row 1:  Ch 2 (counts as 1st. HDC), HDC in next 4 sts, 3 HDC in next st, HDC in next 5 sts, Ch 2, turn (13 HDC)

Row 2:  HDC in next 6 sts (until you reach the middle of the 3 HDC point in row 1, this is your increase point), HDC in each st to end of row 1, Ch 2, turn (15 HDC)

Row 3 – 20:  Repeat row 2 increasing 2 HDC for each row when you make 3 HDC at the increase point which is the middle of the 3 HDC in the previous row.

If you want a smaller pad you don’t have to make 20 rows, just make less rows.  For longer pad continue pattern until you reach your desired length.  You can also change yarn at the end of any row if you want a striped design.

At the end of your last row DO NOT fasten off and continue on to the edging.

Edging:

SC around the entire work including the ring at the top.  Work 3 SC at the increase point of the last row and in each corner.  Fasten off and weave ends in.

Ring:

Hot Pad

Shower Curtain Ring

Tie yarn at one end of the shower curtain ring.  Tie it on the ring itself, not the part where it latches.  Leave that yarn free for easier opening and closing of the ring.

SC around the entire ring to the other end.  Work SC in the ring like you are working a magic ring.  Push stitches together as you work to make them tighter. The idea is to leave no gaps so you can’t see the ring.
Fasten off and weave in ends.

 

 

Hot Pads

 

 

 

 

 

This version uses the same pattern just a different stitch.  To get the ridge you will work the entire pad using a front post HDC.

 

 

FPHDC Version:

If you’re not familiar with front post stitches here’s a video tutorial from LeisureArts.com

To make this version follow the pattern above, but instead of HDC make the stitches FPHDC (front post half double crochet).  End each row with and HDC.

 

Shell Pattern Leg Warmers – Free Pattern

Shell Pattern Leg Warmers – Free Pattern

Shell PatternI’ve been in a legwarmer mood and have been crocheting them in various designs.  This Shells and Cords pattern by Creations Chaann is one of my favorites.

It takes a little longer and more yarn than some of the other legwarmers I’ve made, but it’s thick, warm, and cozy.  I made it using almost 2 skeins of Red Heart yarn in Black Fleck.  I love the small pops of color throughout.

The pattern isn’t that easy but it’s not hard either.  You will have to be familiar with front post double crochet (fpdc), back post double crochet, and working in back loops.

The pattern is divided in to 3 parts:  Top ribbing, body, and bottom ribbing.

The top ribbing is worked in rows of back loop single crochet stitches.  This is the part that will hold the legwarmer up on your calf.  You can adjust the ribbing to fit your calf by adding or subtracting the number of rows worked.  (To find the correct measurement for the top ribbing measure around the upper part of calf, just below the knee.  Your ribbing should be 1″ – 2″ less than the measurement you took.  To double check place the work around your calf, it should be snug, but not too tight.  Remember the ribbing will stretch once you put the leg warmer on.  Making it too loose will cause the leg warmer to slip down.)  Once you’ve made enough rows to fit your calf you will slip stitch the last row to the first row you made to form a band.  The rest of the warmer will be worked in rounds.

The body  is worked in a shell pattern running vertically between rows of ridges.  The ridges are made with front post double crochet.  You can add length or shorten the legwarmer when you work the body by making more or less rounds until you reach your desired length.

The bottom ribbing is also worked in rounds, so don’t fasten off when you finish the last row of the body.  You will be working the ribbing using front post and back post double crochet.

Click here for the pattern from Creations Chaann!

If you need to learn how to do front post and back post double crochet here’s a tutorial from Meladora’s Creations for Crochet!