Wednesday, March 17, 2010

are you wearing green today?

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Over the weekend I made some sweet treats to send to the mystery man and his family {he is in Key West...sad for me, good for him!} for St. Patrick's Day. I really wanted to try my hand at decorated sugar cookies, but was apprehensive about it. Luckily, I had Pink Martinis and Pearls to turn to! Do you read her blog? If not, you really should and if you do, then you already know how talented she is when it comes to baked goods, especially sugar cookies!

So with a little help and some good directions and tips, I set out to do the impossible. And for a novice sugar cookie baker, I think they turned out great! Also, got the reviews from mystery man and they're all positive, thumbs up!

Thank you so much Pink Martinis and Pearls for your excellent instructions, detailed pictures, and helpful tips! I know these are pretty basic, but I have a feeling I'll be trying more designs in the near future since I'm no longer afraid of the decorated sugar cookie :)

{sorry for the horrible picture quality}

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

tuesday tidbits

Happy Tuesday friends! This post is going to seem random because really, it's just a compilation of all the thoughts running around in my head :)
  • One of my faves, Belle on Heels, is hosting a Spring Swap! Sign up by March 22 to play along! All of the details can be found here. Let me know if you sign up too!
  • There was an earthquake in Pico Rivera this morning. It registered at 4.4 with no injuries or major damages reported. There is always the chance that this morning's quake could be a foreshock of a larger earthquake.
  • Yesterday J posted a great inspired by look over on her blog. The more budget friendly choice was from Lauren Conrad's collection at Kohl's. I went on my lunch break to try the top on. I ended up not liking it, but did walk out with this cute top instead!
  • As you know, I've been on a workout kick lately. I'm trying to get in great shape by my birthday {April 25!} because I want to look and feel great on my special day! Last night after the gym I didn't feel like I had really accomplished that much so I did Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred {Level 1}...I woke up this morning more sore than after any gym workout!
  • After hearing about it on virtually every blog yesterday, I had to go to Target to check out the Liberty of London collection. Is it bad that I didn't like any of it {women's clothing only, I didn't have a chance to look at the home goods}? The fabric patterns were just not my style. I tried on this top, but wasn't completely sold so it went back on the rack. Oh well, at least I saved some money :)
  • Spring is here in Los Angeles. I was driving home yesterday evening and I was sad to see that the sun was in my face the ENTIRE 6:30 pm. And today it's 83 degrees. I think it's time to put the boots and leggings up and pull out the tanks and sundresses {another reason to get in shape}.
Okay, that's it for today. Hopefully some of you have had a more eventful Tuesday than me! I'm off to decide what to eat for lunch :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Casa Laguna, Part II

Oh how I wish every day could be like this! Sunday was such a perfect day and I found myself counting my blessings over and over again. Laguna Beach is such a beautiful place, and I just can't say enough great things about Casa Laguna! Like I said before, CL is a bed and breakfast so I was very excited about the breakfast Sunday morning. Luckily, it had stopped raining and the sun was making an appearance so we were able to eat breakfast in the courtyard. The food definitely did not disappoint. There were so many choices and they all sounded great. We went with the steak and eggs, which was a 3 oz. portion of wagyu beef, a fried egg, and a potato and leek gratin, all drizzled with a basil pesto sauce {pic #2 in the collage below}. The other plate we chose was the cinnamon waffle with fresh strawberries and whipped cream {pic #4}.

After breakfast {and a teeny tiny nap}, we headed to Victoria Beach to take in the gorgeous ocean and explore the tide pools. We also walked in a beautiful park which I'm pretty sure I saw on Laguna Beach {MTV reality show} years ago. So anyway, after that we were hungry so we ventured to Cafe Heidelberg for a couple of mimosas and lunch. I had the grilled cheese sandwich and potato leek soup, both of which were delicious.

After lunch we headed back to Casa Laguna to get ready for our Togetherness Massage! This was probably the most exciting part for both of us. Not only did we get 60 minute massages, but we also got a 45 minute soak in the private therapeutic hot tub, along with a bottle of champagne and two complimentary CL flutes! It was absolutely amazing to watch the sunset from the hot tub! An added bonus was that we were the last couple of the day to use the private hot tub area so we were able to stay much longer than the 45 minutes we paid for!

(click to enlarge)

1. view from Victoria Beach
2. steak and egg breakfast
3. private hot tub
4 cinnamon waffles
5. at the was so windy!
6. cheers-ing the sunset :)
7. hot tub
8. champagne and towels
9. slippers!
10. part of the wine and cheese selection
11. giving puffin a massage
12. at the tide pools

This was such a relaxing weekend and I can't wait to do it again!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Blog Evolution

  • Since I started blogging in January of last year I've met so many wonderful people and found a lot of fun, interesting blogs to read! I love this little community that we have. It's such a positive environment and I feel like I'm part of something amazing!
  • You may have noticed that I deleted my blogrolls because I'm not sure who is still blogging, who went private, or who is still even reading Sweet Tea Diaries. I also deleted all of the buttons and awards. Please don't take it personally, but I was so overwhelmed by all the clutter and I feel like it's just time to update all of that.
  • To those of you that comment on my everyday posts, thank you! I love all of you and I hope you see your blog's name on my "Delightful Daily Indulgences" blogroll. If not, let me know so I can be sure to add you. I'll be updating my blog with many of your blog's buttons and any awards I receive going forward.
  • Again, thanks for everything. You have no idea what this community has done for me and what it means to me.
  • I was also excited to see that I am about 10 posts away from my 300th post. Truly unbelievable, but very exciting! I am hoping to do something fun for that milestone :)
I'm sure you already know this, but I thought I'd share anyway. You can now add "pages" to your blog, and the links appear right under your blog title! Just go to the Posting tab and select the Edit Pages link to set up your pages. I'll be using this feature for an Awards page and a Favorite Bloggers page...neat!

AND...I haven't forgotten about Part II of my Casa Laguna trip. Look for a post soon!

PLUS...for those of you asking about the mystery man, I'll reveal soon enough. I'll just say that I'm very happy and right where I want to be :)

{las vegas}

Have a fun and safe weekend!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Casa Laguna, Part I

Yesterday I posted a little teaser about Casa Laguna Inn & Spa in Laguna Beach, CA. If you haven't guessed, that is where we spent our weekend and it was just so perfect! Casa Laguna is a little bed and breakfast, full of charm and personality. The grounds are impeccable, the staff is pleasant and accommodating, and the location is amazing - it's just a short walk to the beautiful beaches and tide pools.

We checked in Saturday afternoon, and were so excited to find out that our standard courtyard room had been upgraded to an ocean view room! We took so many pictures, but I narrowed it down to the few that I've included in the collage {click picture to make larger}:

{1} the sign from the outside of the inn
{2} our ocean view room
{3} the steps leading up to the private "cottage suite"
{4} cute little seating in the pool area
{5} the windowsill in our room
{6} another view of our room from the front door
{7} ocean view taken from our balcony
{8} complimentary slippers to wear along with our room key
{9} the bathroom, which included a magnifying mirror (not sure if that's a good thing...)
{10} the breakfasts are all made using the Slow Foods Movement
{11} fruit and muffins served at breakfast
{12} our room number


We made reservations to eat at K'ya Bistro in Laguna Beach. Unfortunately, it was raining Saturday night so we didn't get to go for a pre-dinner cocktail on the Rooftop Lounge. But we did get to enjoy dinner in the restaurant's private wine cellar room, which was very chic! Again, I put together a collage {click picture to make larger} because I felt like I would be overwhelming you with pictures {like Vegas!}:

I won't go over every picture, but I will tell you that the food was absolutely wonderful! The plates are made to be shared and we ordered 4 dishes: lobster mac & cheese, grilled lamb burger, bbq braised beef short rib, and seared wild scallops. We also had banana pecan bread pudding and apple cinnamon crisp for dessert!

It may have been raining, but there was seriously no way to put a damper on how perfect Saturday was!

I'll share Sunday with you tomorrow {it deserves its own post}!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Goodbye, Farewell!

Since everyone knows that I love cupcakes, I was bound to get the Big Top Cupcake for Christmas this past year! I finally broke it out last week to make a giant cupcake for a going away party for two of my co-workers. I was a little apprehensive about how it would turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised! It was super easy {I can't really stress just how easy it was honestly} and the end result was an adorable giant cupcake!

I just took a basic chocolate cake mix and made it per the box instructions.

The batter was split between the top and bottom mold. Baking varied, but I think it took about 35 minutes for the top mold to bake all the way through and about 45 minutes for the bottom one to bake.

I was worried that there wasn't enough batter in the molds, but it definitely expands as it bakes. Once they cooled, I cut off the rounded parts so the two pieces could fit together flatly and make the cupcake shape.

By putting frosting between the two pieces, it ensured that the cupcake stayed together. Then I just frosted the top with a can of Betty C*rocker's Whipped vanilla frosting and I decorated it with the Cupcake Icing {also by Betty} and sprinkles!

Here are my two co-workers that left for new and better endeavors!

I don't normally use box mixes and I never use pre-made frosting, but I think it turned out great. It's definitely cheaper than making the components from scratch! I heard reviews from the people who ate it and they were impressed so it must have tasted pretty good as well {I usually never eat the cakes or cupcakes I make...I don't have much of a sweet tooth}.

I really enjoyed throwing together this fun little treat! Have any of you used it??!

Friday, March 5, 2010

My Weekend, Part II

Continuing on with my Las Vegas recap...


Oh my gosh, we all slept SO late! Not surprising in my family since my mom and I are world champions when it comes to sleeping and napping! We finally got up at around 12:30 pm, but it took us awhile to get moving. Dad really wanted a buffet so we decided on Bellagio's, The Buffet. It was delicious! We got seated around 3 pm {the line was outrageous} so we got to enjoy their champagne brunch! Everything I had was so good. And the price of $28.95 was a steal!

So honestly, we were at the buffet for almost 3 hours. It was great because they were switching from brunch items to dinner items at around 4:00 so we got to have the crab legs and beef wellington for the price of brunch. Some might consider that cheating, but I think it was just good timing :)

The Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio was all decked out for the Chinese New Year. It's the Year of the Tiger! The trees, flowers and ponds were so beautiful!

We decided to venture over to check out the CityCenter. This place is incredible! We took a tram from the Bellagio to Crystals, which is where all the retail stores are located.

{tram ride}

The Mandarin Oriental is one of the hotels in the CityCenter. We decided to have a drink at the Mandarin Bar, which is located on the 23rd story of the hotel. The view was phenomenal! The CityCenter was so nice inside and it reminded me of Ocean's 13 because it was definitely built for the high rollers visiting Las Vegas!

{view from Mandarin Bar}

After the bar, we ventured over to Aria to do a little gambling. All of their slot machines are digital so there were crazy visual effects. Even though I was losing, I wanted to keep playing so I could see all the 3d images on the slot machines! That's how they reel you in...


On Saturday night, we tried to go eat at the Hofbrauhaus, but the kitchen was closed! So we decided to go for lunch on Sunday. It's such a fun German place that was built to exactly replicate the original Hofbrauhaus in Munich.

The rest of Sunday was spent gambling in the Venetian {Mom loves gambling!} and then taking it easy back at the hotel. We decided to spend the night and we left for LA at around 6 am Monday morning! Needless to say, we were pretty tired after driving and an 8 hour workday! But it was definitely worth it. I love every chance I get to see my parents!

Thanks for joining me in my recap. I know it was long and probably boring for a lot of you, but one reason I love to blog is so that I can capture all of my memories forever!


I hope you all have a great weekend! I have amazing plans that I am so looking forward to! I can't wait to share with all of you next week...all I can say is get ready for more pictures! Ha!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Weekend, Part I

I had a great weekend and so many pictures to share! I decided to split my recap into two parts so it isn't too much of a picture overload!


I absolutely CAN NOT drive to Las Vegas without stopping at the Chick-Fil-A on the way! I had no idea how much I took this place for granted when I lived in Georgia. Now I will do anything for their delicious sweet tea and chicken nuggets with waffle fries!!

My dad has been in Las Vegas for the last month. He goes every year for work and stays at the Hilton Grand Vacations Club at the north end of the strip. It's such a nice place and Mom and I are lucky to get to visit him there. He has a one bedroom suite with a fully equipped kitchen, a washer and dryer, an awesome shower and huge tub, and a surprisingly comfortable pull out bed in the living room.

After unpacking our stuff and throwing a load of laundry in, we headed to Ellis Island Casino & Brewery for the $6.95 steak special! I've written about this place and the special so many times {here and here} so I won't bore you with pictures. I will just say that the food was just as good as last time...AND I doubled my money on the slots in the casino! If you are in Vegas, I recommend heading off the beaten path to this place.


My mom flew in Friday afternoon, so Dad took the day off of work. He was nice enough to let us sleep in a little bit. After we woke up, we headed to the gym for a workout and then back up to the room to get ready while watching the US men's hockey team play.

As a side note, I really loved watching the Olympics this year! Figure skating has always been my favorite, but I really liked seeing the skiing activities as well.

After picking Mom up, we were all ready for lunch. I knew that I wanted to try Hubert Keller's Burger Bar at the Mandalay Bay so that's where we headed. Along the way, I found these very friendly penguins hanging out by the Minus 5 Ice Lounge!

Burger Bar was just as delicious as I was expecting it to be! As an appetizer, we had the fried jalapeno pickles. They were so yummy! I ordered an angus burger with blue cheese, caramelized onions, and jalapeno bacon strips. As a side, I had the sweet potato fries!

{the above is the kobe burger with blue cheese and bacon. fat fries on the side}

Needless to say, my mom was ready to gamble after lunch! We stayed at the Mandalay Bay for a few hours before we headed back to the hotel. What I love about the hotel is that there is a full service marketplace in the downstairs area. They make sandwiches, pizza, and breakfast items, as well as having a fully stocked grocery section. For dinner, we ordered a pizza and ate in our room!

My parents went to bed so we decided to walk to the Peppermill Fireside Lounge {wrote about this place here} to order the famous Scorpion Bowl! Okay, I don't really know if it is famous, but it is delicious! It's almost comical how large the glass is and the straws that come with it are at least 2 feet long. The Peppermill is a fun place to come to sit back, relax, and people watch!

That's it for Part I...stay tuned for Part II soon!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Encounter with the Stars

My friend Kate shares my love of silver foxes...hehee! I'm not ashamed to admit that I watch NCIS just so I can see Mark Harmon {actually, it's a really great show and he's an added bonus}. Monday night, Kate and I ventured to the Saban Theatre for PaleyFest 2010. The cast of NCIS, along with their producers, writers, and directors, were there to talk about the show, themselves, and anything else the audience wanted to know.

One of the best parts of the evening was getting to see the NCIS episode, Mother's Day, before it aired {last night's episode} and without commercials! The cast really seems to enjoy each other and I love how they are all so appreciative of the show and the fans. I feel that if I were to run into any of them in a public setting, they'd be more than happy to sign an autograph or pose for a picture. They seemed to genuinely love acting!

I had such a great evening, and still can't believe that I was in the same room as some of my favorite celebrities! In fact, I was about 3 feet from Cote de Pablo and Michael Weatherly when the cast was signing autographs at the end of the show. It was a madhouse at the front, but Kate managed to get both of our tickets signed by the very handsome Michael! It was so amazing and a memory that I'll cherish forever {corny I know, but true}!

{kate's hand in front of Michael!!!}

Things I Noticed/Learned:
  • Michael Weatherly is married??! Since when?
  • Cote de Pablo is very giggly and a little girl.
  • Now that I've seen "Tony" and "Ziva" together in real life, I really want them to get together on the show! They just seem so comfortable as "Tiva."
  • Sean Murray got reaaaaaallllllyyy skinny. His new look had me concerned because he really doesn't look healthy. He also didn't talk very much or seem to be having as good a time as the other actors.
  • Rocky Carroll seems like a nice guy! I love to hate him on NCIS because he does a lot of things that make me angry, but in real life, he is very gracious and appreciative.
  • Actors are much shorter in real life than they seem on tv {with the exception of Michael}.
  • Fans are CRAZY when it comes to the chance at getting an autograph. I got squished, pushed, and stepped on while trying to get close to the stage.
Thank you Kate for inviting me to the show!

PS - Stay tuned for my Las Vegas weekend recap!!