Summer means Farmers Market

farmers market sign

I wrote this article for www.centralvalleymoms.com but I’d thought I’d share here too 🙂 My goal this summer is to spend more weekends experiencing events and sights around our central California community. There are lakes and beautiful scenery an hour or less away from us and we haven’t seen any of it yet! (I pretty much go from school to baseball games/practice to the grocery store.)

A farmers market is the perfect opportunity to get out, enjoy this great central valley weather, and purchase beautiful locally grown produce and specialty foods.

old town clovis, caThe Old Town Clovis Framers Market is now open for the summer!

It  runs from May 10 through September 27, 2013 every Friday night from 5:30pm to 9pm on Pollasky St.

veggies from the farmers market in clovis, ca

 Take a look at these gorgeous vegetables we spotted on our first visit here last Friday!We are not from California so these farmers markets you guys have out here are AMAZING!!

carrots

clovis farmers market veggies

onion

beets

 This fresh herb booth smells insanely good!

fresh herbs

Herbs are so expensive at the store. I think I might buy some and dry them myself next time I go. Have you ever done that?

more herbsHere’s my kids checking out some local honey.

farmers market honey

 There’s lots of fresh bread,,, Yum.

bread at the farmers marketOur kids had a blast riding on the ponies. Her pony was named Arial and she’s still talking about it 🙂

pony rides at clovis farmers market

The balloon art guy was a big hit.

balloon guy

 There’s live music too! Visit here to find out about tonight’s band.

live music

 

I’m trying to get my kids excited about eating more fresh fruits and veggies, so this is a perfect place from them to sample new foods!

peaches from clovis farmers market

berries farmers market

berries at the farmer's market

 We came home with some fresh berries and kale.

farmers market berries and kale

Each morning I’ve been making a healthy smoothie with kale, blueberries, strawberry, almond milk, and protein powder. Buy a bunch of these berries, freeze them, and you don’t have to add ice! It’s a great breakfast.

Berry Kale  Smoothie

I LOVE this sign so much and want it for my kitchen.. I spotted it for sale at Glorious Junk Days last weekend also in Old Town Clovis. That’s a great event too!

farmers market sign

Have a great weekend!! Are you lucky enough to have a great farmers market where you live? What do you buy there?

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BHG @Walmart Room Refresh Challenge (Patio Mini-Makeover)

BHG @ Walmart Room Refresh Challenge

This past weekend I participated in a room refresh challenge utilizing fabulous Better Homes & Gardens products exclusively sold at Walmart. I am thrilled with our mini patio makeover and am excited to share the details with you today! I adore these high end looking pieces I was able to snatch up at affordable prices.

BHG logo

Let’s see some before pictures! We’ve had this patio set from Costco for about five years. It’s starting to show some age and is very, very, beige.

One of the beige chair cushions blew away when we lived in Las Vegas years ago and we never replaced it. I called to see how much a matching replacement Sunbrella fabric cushion would be and you might as well buy a new chair! Cushions can be so expensive, so I’ve been thinking about an alternative.

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Looking for new patio cushions is FUN, deciding is HARD!

I was so happy to pick up two of these BHG deep seat cushions in red that fit the back of our chairs perfectly.

BHG Cushions

This matching Sedona red 9 ft wood umbrella creates the perfect amount of shade in our little seating area.

patio refresh

This green outdoor rug, also from Walmart, provides a fun accent color and really brings that indoor look outside.

I’m obsessed with these decorative BHG Bombay planters, and three of them together at varying heights really make a statement. Don’t they look like expensive pottery? They’re actually lightweight plastic..shhhh no one will know.

BHG Walmart Planters

I made a little salsa garden in one pot with jalapenos, cilantro, onion chives, and ancho chilies. These will be perfect for the tomatoes I planted behind the seating area! Read that post here in case you haven’t, I enjoy making fresh salsa and now I can grow my own ingredients

These are plastic garden markers from the hardware store dipped in chalkboard paint, and then I wrote on them with a white Sharpie paint pen.

plant your own salsa potted garden

Here’s my first succulent potted garden! Succulents are so beautiful, interesting, need very little water, and easy to maintain.

succulents

The third pot has a Lily of the Nile surrounded by some red annuals.

Lily in the middle of annuals

The pots brighten our patio and I love these colors together!

These two little cute flower accent pillows, also from Walmart, fit right in.

patio refresh by fancy frugal life

This bundt cake pan re-purposed as a fun succulent planter is a fun flea market find from this weekend as well as the cheerful yellow and orange vintage tray and candle holder from Re-Markable J.

vintage flea market finds

I love to add vintage elements to my makeovers 🙂

succulents planted in a bunt pan

Speaking of makeovers, It’s not a fancy frugal makeover with out some spray painted accessories I already had!

green spray painted patio accessories

These little candle holders and succulent planter are on the coffee table under the covered patio.

painted patio accessories

I moved our couch under the covered patio to create two separate seating areas. and it made such a difference. More on that seating area in the future.

It’s amazing how moving furniture around and adding great accent pieces can change an entire space! We’ve already had a BBQ and have been relaxing in our new patio, and it’s so perfect to start out the summer.

Patio Refresh Walmart BHG products

What do you think? Would you like to refresh your patio? Well guess what?!!

I will be giving away FIVE $50 Walmart gift cards, exclusively to my readers, so you can also give your patio a mini REFRESH! Stay tuned for that awesome giveaway!

For more information on BHG @ Walmart visit www.bhg.com/Walmart and follow them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BHGLiveBetter

(Disclosure: I was given a Walmart gift card to participate in this patio refresh, but all opinions are my own.)

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Flowers, Tomatoes, & Cucumbers (A first time gardener)

first time vegetable garden

Our backyard hasn’t really been a priority since we moved here in August. It’s pretty plain with a small covered area, some grass, trees, and a flower bed that has sat empty. The kids spend lots of time out here so my goal is to give it some much needed attention and create a nice space to entertain and be proud of.

(Here’s a couple before pictures.)

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I plan on rearranging the furniture, adding some more potted flowers, and maybe an an outdoor rug and curtains to hide the trash cans.

The first step we completed recently was to clean up this flower bed and plant our first garden. I decided to get brave and also plant some tomatoes! I figure since we now live in central CA where agriculture thrives, I should give it a try! (We’ll see, but so far the tomatoes are growing better than the flowers.)

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In the past I’ve done lots of flower planting in pots only. Sometimes it stays alive and sometimes not…I am not an experienced gardener. It turns out planting in the ground is a lot of work! Manual labor work..Ha

I decided to do this mid April when my husband was still recovering from foot surgery so lugging bags and bags of soil and plants and all the digging was up to me!

I ended up picking up all my flowers and soil at Home Depot and Costco. Costco had a great deal on tomatoes this year..A three pack of small potted tomatoes for $7. I bought two kinds of tomatoes, some lavender, lots of annuals, two bougainvillea, a few small cucumber, and two hydrangea.

Not all of these survived planting. The lavender is about dead. The hydrangeas died right away and I returned those to Home Depot. The bougainvillea lost all it’s leaves immediately and I thought it died, but now it’s starting to come back. If you have any ideas I’d love to hear. This bed gets lots of afternoon sun. I’ve been feeding with Miracle Grow plant and vegetable food, and watering regularly.

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I did have some help from some from tiny eager to help gardeners 🙂

planting flowers

Here is the garden as it is now about five weeks after we did all our planting. The tomatoes are a couple feet tall now and we added some cages. I’m so excited there are tomatoes growing on all of them! The kids both LOVE to participate by watering and pulling weeds. This is such a great family project, and worth the work 🙂

(I also re-stained part of the fence where it was faded from the sprinkler…that was bugging me!)

planting aTomato garden

I painted a few garden markers last week.

painted garden markers on rocks

These are the “early girl” type of tomatoes.

first time tomato garden

early girl tomatoes

Early Girl Tomato plants from Costco

Here are the “sweet 100s” type of tomatoes.

sweet 100s

Early 100s tomato plants

After five weeks the cucumber plants have grown lots, but are not yet producing…hopefully soon!

growing cucumbers

In case you didn’t see this is what I did with my herbs. Read the details here. It’s still going strong and I’ve been using the basil to make pesto and in mozzarella tomato salads 🙂

DIY Stacked Herb Garden

Now here is the real surprise! The hydrangeas I bought for the backyard died, but guess what has bloomed in the front yard!

surprise hydrangea bush

I didn’t even know this bush was a hydrangea because we’ve lived in this house for about eight months. It just decided to bloom!

hydrangea2What a nice surprise, right?! Has that ever happened to you?

hydrangeas

I love this quote and decided to make a little graphic for you.

gardening quote

Grow

Thanks for stopping by to visit my little garden. Stay tuned for some other fun happenings in my backyard!

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3 Ingredient Strawberry “Ice Cream” Popcicles

Strawberry & Almond Milk Popcycles

Isn’t it exciting when strawberries are $0.99 a pint at the store?! I love it..and It means lots of strawberry goodness for the week,

fresh strawberry pops

This weekend we made these frozen strawberry treats and they were a big hit! My kids loved them and actually we all did. I’ve been making smoothies everyday since I received the Ninja blender for Mother’s Day…Love that thing. I found these cool ice cream looking Popsicle forms at Ross on Friday .My daughter begged for me to get them 🙂 You know how that goes. There were cute, and inexpensive there so I did…

 

Tovolo freezer molds

 

Strawberry “Ice Cream” Treats by Lina Darnell

(These made 8 small pops, depends on your molds.)

Blend together :

1/2 pint strawberries

1/4 cup Vanilla Almond Milk

1/3 cup Greek style yogurt

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Pour them in your molds and freeze for at least a few hours before you enjoy.

Strawberry Ice Cream Pops

Look at my other cool “find” from Ross that day. I love it…just $24!

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Tangled Cupcake Tower Tutorial & Our Teacher Appreciation Day

Tangled Cupcakes Tutorial

Last week my son’s school had testing so this week we are celebrating Teacher Appreciation Day. We happen to have a great teacher right now who has been filling in long term for our original teacher who had a baby in January. Ms. Johnson is a new teacher and so full of enthusiasm and joy for these kids. I love being able to volunteer in class and with the home room parents. Our school has a tradition of decorating our classroom teacher’s door and bringing her treats and gift cards all week. This year we decided to do a Disney Tangled theme since our teacher is a big fan of the movie.

My part was to bring in the teacher and class a snack yesterday and I made these sweet little Repunzzle inspired ice cream cone cupcakes. I originally spotted these here, but with just a photo and no instructions. I kept track of how I made them so you can too!

First let’s talk about making cupcakes in ice cream cones. I read a ton of posts on doing this, and even asked my Facebook fans how they do it, and I decided to go with the method of baking them in muffin tins. It worked great! I will say that I threw away one batch because they sunk in the middle and looked yucky after baking. I’m not sure if it was my oven or what happened…. I then bought two boxes of Betty Crocker cake mix and they turned out great! Make sure to fill half way or a tiny bit over!

How to bake cupcakes in ice cream cones

Now let’s talk decorating! I don’t have fancy cake decorating supplies so I went with these tubes of frosting for convenience. I also bought the 4 small corresponding Cake Mate tips. I thought they worked great for what I needed.

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My first step was to make the door with chocolate frosting in a plastic bag by cutting the tip of the bag to pipe a thin amount.

For the hair I used the tip with the circle jagged looking edges. I made the hair sort of loop all the way down.

The vines are green frosting with a simple thin tip. Attach the flower sequins right away.

how to make Tangled cupcakes

The buttercream frosting is this recipe and contains shortening so it’s stiff along with purple food coloring. This will be important in the transporting of these treats in the car! The last thing I did was pipe on the purple frosting to look like an ice cream cone. I do have a plastic Wilton tool I use for frosting cupcakes.

Disney's Tangled Cupcakes

Not to shabby, right?! Now try making 27…That was a little time consuming! I did have a friend assisting me and we had fun.

transporting ice cream cone cupcakes

I ended up transporting them in muffin tins placed in larger boxes. They did fall over in the car but since the frosting is stiff it didn’t hurt them too much. Plus those Cake Mate tubes dry stiff as well.

I wanted to show you the small double tiered cake I made especially for teacher. I baked it in two different sized small glass ramekin bowls. Here is how I do ruffle cakes.

Tangled ruffle cake

This is the unfinished wood frame I painted to put a class photo in as a fun gift. The lizard is from the craft store too.

Painted Tangled Picture Frame

Another room parent made these cute wanted posters!

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Our class and teacher were all thrilled to receive these treats and we all had some fun celebrating! Wouldn’t these be perfect for a Tangled theme birthday party?!

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Mexican Shrimp “Ceviche” Tostadas

Mexican shrimp ceviche recipe

Good morning friends! This past Mother’s Day weekend we relaxed and stayed home with the exception of dance and baseball. I made this tostada meal one day and it was a perfect warm weather meal because I didn’t heat up the kitchen. It was almost 100 degrees here! My husband loves “ceviche” at restaurants and this is good cheater way to get a similar taste with cooked shrimp.

My mom makes a similar recipe as a dip and serves with tortilla chips or saltine crackers. What a great summer appetizer to bring to a barbecue! You could use all fresh tomatoes, but I like the taste of fire roasted diced from the can and use those in salsa as well sometimes.

Mexican “Ceviche” Shrimp Tostadas by Lina Darnell

(This is a pretty large batch)

Mix together:

2 pounds cooked tail off shrimp

2 -14 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

2 chopped fresh tomatoes

1/2 11.5 oz. can V8 juice

Juice of 2 limes

3/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 chopped small white or red onion

1 jalapeno chopped (omit if you don’t like spicy)

1 clove chopped garlic

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt & Pepper to taste

Chill for at least an hour…however the more you chill the better it gets!

***Mix in 2 large chopped avocados right before serving!

I served mine on top of store bought tostada shells.

mexican shrimp ceviche

My favorite tip: Top with some crumbled Mexican Cotija cheese. Cotija cheese (in Spanish, queso añejado, meaning “aged cheese”) is a hard, crumbly Mexican cheese made primarily from cow’s milk. It is so good and reminds me of all my previous vacations in Mexico! In my grocery store this can be found next to the Mexican sausage.

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recipe for Mexican shrimp cocktail tostadas

I hope you all had a great mother’s day as well!

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These kid gifts are the best, aren’t they? I cherish each one.

My sweet husband got me a Ninja blender as a gift! I am so excited!

I had been dropping major hints about a Vitamix but we aren’t ready to drop $500 on a blender yet. I know I hear they are worth it…

But I am super impressed with my Ninja and have made myself kale berry smoothies and the kids individual smoothies this morning. It’s so convenient to clean…I appreciate that. Are you into juicing? I can’t wait to try more!

Thanks for stopping by to visit!!

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Spring into Action: My article for Central Valley print magazine May 2013

Central Valley Magazine May 2013 Cover

Remember how I’m managing/contributing to the Central Valley Moms website for the Fresno Bee? Well I think it’s going really well and I love the job!

They also recently gave me the opportunity to write an article this month for the Fresno Bee’s print lifestyle magazine Central Valley May 2013 issue.

I wrote the step by step process of my coffee table makeover using CHALK PAINT® decorative paint by Annie Sloan.

Before and after Annie Sloan Coffee table makeover

Read the entire article here. Hooray for freelance writing! This is very exciting for me….

central valley feature

 

I am particularly proud because the photography is mine as well!

Yesterday while waiting at a Dr’s appointment we found some excellent reading material it in the waiting room 🙂

Thanks for stopping by and all your love and support.

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Handmade Baseball Fabric Skirt and Embellished Tank Top

handmade babseball fabric skirt and top

Look at this cute, cute, cute, so cute handmade baseball outfit!! Ahh I can’t stand it…How fun right? My daughter’s fifth birthday was last week and she received this an awesome gift. This outfit will be perfect for her to watch brother’s baseball games in!

My husband has three amazing sisters, aren’t they so gorgeous?! I’ve never had a sister so having three sister in laws is pretty special for me. Even though we live in different parts of the country this is a close and fun group.They, along with my mother in law, are so supportive of me, my blog, our kids, my writing, and are always the first ones to “Like” a project of mine on Facebook. Ha..I love that!

sisiters

Cory happens to be very talented at sewing and has her own sewing business called Sew Funky. She is always coming up with different creative fabric bags and accessories for sale.

Here are some great examples of what she can sew…I know it’s so great!

You can follow her on facebook as Sew Funky! Coryanne.net.

I love all her bags especially that big giant yoga bag. I am a lucky owner of one of her bags, a pretty camera strap, and key fob.

sew funky cory

This is such a fabulous high end boutique looking embellished tank top. I was thinking it would look great in any summer fabric! I know some of you would be able to whip this out no problem!

baseball embellished tank top

Cory said this project involved fabric and bias tape, and lots of pins. She started by putting a piece of paper over the tank to trace a pattern and then cut out the baseball fabric. She then used doublefold packaged red bias tape around the entire piece of fabric and down the middle. Once that was done she ironed, pinned it down, and sewed the entire piece to the tank top and added buttons last.

The skirt has bias tape around the edges instead of hemming.

embellished boutique style tank top

She knows my daughter loves elephants and made her two more super cute outfits with matching embellished tanks!

green elephant outfitpink elephant handmade outfit

Thanks Aunt Cory, she loves it all and will definitely be wearing soon!

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Watermelon Margaritas for Cinco de Mayo

watermelon margarita recipe

This weekend was so great and relaxing! We had one day that was really hot and today was so nice and cool! My favorite times as a family are simply just playing in the backyard. I worked in the garden, re-stained part of the wood fence, and watched the kids play. Tonight I made my husband and I some watermelon margs to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, while he was out picking up dinner from a local Mexican place 🙂 So nice to not cook….

I like this drink because it’s not as sweet as a strawberry flavor and something different than a normal sweet and sour margarita…refreshing!

Watermelon margs in the blender

Watermelon Margaritas 

by Lina Darnell

Makes 2 large servings

Blend together with ice:

-2 cups watermelon minus the seeds

-2 shots of Tequila

1/2 shot Grand Marnier

1/4 cup Blue Agave Sweetener

juice of two limes

+Garnish with salted rim and mint leaves if desired

This is my favorite Cinco de Mayo glass! It was from a great restaurant I worked at as a server in college while attending NAU. It was the type of small family owned place where we wrote out paper tickets, bused our own tables, and made our own drinks at the bar. The food was amazing and my best friend and I worked there together so it was a blast and brings back memories! HA

fav margarita glass

My husband got the mason jar drink.

watermelon margs

This is the best $10 investment from Target…the kids loved it this weekend.

kids sprinkler toy

We don’t have a pool or access to a community pool anymore, so here we go with the next best thing! ha

 

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