Keeping it simple: What’s for dinner? Spicy mussels and chorizo!

One of my favorite summer dishes is mussels in white wine and garlic sauce.  A highlight of my travels is having the classic Belgian meal of ‘moules et frites’ (mussels and fries) in a classic Belgian beer garden restaurant, which opened in London in the mid to late 90’s – Belgo Centraal – and it is still there, in Covent Garden, if you ever visit!  I was lucky enough to frequent this restaurant when it first opened, and was seen as a cutting-edge modern and industrial space, and blessed to return with my husband just a few years ago when we visited London together.

If you love mussels, then there is no better pairing than crispy french fries and a cold (preferably Belgian!) beer.  Well, years later I was brave enough to attempt to recreate this at home, thanks to a very simple recipe I got from a dear foodie friend.  The result was delicious, and I was surprised at how easy it was to make.

The only thing is that it was too ‘plain’ for my Mexican husband — he is a man who eats a jalapeno with every meal and even wants to add hot sauce to Dominican food!  So, imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon this fabulous recipe, that includes spicy Mexican chorizo as well as red pepper flakes to bring a little more heat in.  Needless to say, it was a huge hit!

Spicy Mussels and Chorizo, Recipe and Image via Martha Stewart

Spicy Mussels and Chorizo, Recipe and Image via Martha Stewart

For this recipe, and lots more one-pot dinners and simple dinner recipes, visit my ‘easy dinner ideas’ pinterest board and follow me on pinterest!  You will be inspired for sure, but also will probably leave very hungry and ready to try a new recipe!

xoxo

sweetest mami

ps If you make this, do come back and let me know what you think of the recipe!

First Birthday Party {Easter Brunch}

Life moves fast…my little boy turned one not so long ago.  I posted photos on facebook, for friends and family, but barely had the time to share the birthday party on my blog.  There were so many cute details we prepared ourselves; I’m quite proud of how it all turned out, and the timing was perfect.  He turned one on Easter Sunday, so we hosted a Brunch to celebrate both occasions.

IMG_6993

the birthday boy, brought to you by the number one!

The projects included the following…all of which the hubby and I tackled on our own, and somewhat succeeded!

DIY Numero Uno

The yarn-wrapped number one shown above was a joint effort by my husband and I.  My husband carved it out of spare carton boxes, hot glued them to stay together, then I painstakingly wrapped it in an ombre yarn in blue, to give it this nice textured effect.  The yarn-wrapping took several days to complete, as some of the areas had to be done on smaller scraps of carton, then glued back onto the number one, since it was so tricky to really wrap yarn around the entire number.

Project Summary:  Tools Needed:  Hot Glue Gun and 3 – 4 Glue Sticks (for building number), One Ball of Yarn, One Elmer Glue Stick (for patching up scraps of yarn-wrapped carton) Cost:  $5 – $10 (depending on which craft tools you already have); time spent – 4 days

Easter Brunch Birthday Party Decor

Easter Brunch Birthday Party Decor

Twelve Month Photo Banner

This was such a cute project, and I hung it up in his nursery after the party, where it remains today.  This was an effort, because every month I tried to remember to take the similar picture of him in his crib, inspired by the newborn photo our photographer took of him when he was less than two weeks old.  I bought card stock in blue and yellow, to match the theme of the party, and mounted each photo onto card stock, alternating the colors, then punched out mini banners to use as labels for each month.  The tricky part was adhering them to the ribbon with double-sided tape, evenly spaced, and also it was a two-person job (three, if you count my husband guiding us to how it looked) to get it up on the wall.  It’s a good idea to press firmly on the sticky tape behind each photo to the wall so it doesn’t rely only on the tape at the ends, because trust me, it will start to fall off easily and quickly…

Project Summary:  Tools Needed:  Card Stock, Double Sided Tape, Craft Punch (or your imagination to make label badges), ribbon Cost:  $5 – $10 (depending on which craft tools you already have); time spent – 2 hours

*Note: I used the same craft punch and ribbon to make the mini banners for the cake.

Custom Printables by {howsweetlifeis}

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Birthday Boy Stats - Custom Printable by {howsweetlifeis}

Birthday Boy Stats – Custom Printable by {howsweetlifeis}

Custom Printable Set

This took me awhile to figure out.  I didn’t quite know what to create, that could be fitting for both Easter and a first birthday party for a little boy.  After many hours spent on pinterest and party blogs, I settled on keeping it simple and fresh, but adding a bit of fun to the theme with this cute little bunny image I found as a free clip art file on the web.  I added a fancy script font for the titles, and a nice seersucker blue diagonal pinstripe as the background for my custom printable collection.  It took a lot of patience to center things just right, and to make the little tent holders in the back, but I felt it was all worth it and was a nice finishing touch for the party.

Project Summary:  Tools Needed:  Creativity, Double Sided Tape and Stiff Paper or Card Stock to use as tent holders in the back Cost:  less than $5; time spent – 4 hours {I could have created invitations too, but used this cheeky bunny e-card from Paperless Post instead}

Brunch Drink Station

Brunch Drink Station

Brunch Drink Station

This one was easy, and a nice treat for the adults.  I mean, how can you have brunch, without a Mimosa or Bloody Mary?  The key was presentation.  We emptied out the juices into pitchers and served up fresh fruit and condiments to garnish the drinks in small plates.  Everything looked nice and neat, when set on a tray.  We set out the glasses too, for a self-serve bar.  Everyone loved this!!

Project Summary:  Tools Needed:  Sparkling Wine, Orange Juice, Cranberry Juice, Fresh Berries, Vodka, V8, Olives, Lemon, Serving Glasses, Tray and dishes Cost:  $15 – $20 (depending on the quality of what you buy); time spent – 30 minutes

{sweets and decor}

{sweets and decor}

Sweets and Decor
I baked cupcakes and topped them with shredded coconut and saved the Easter eggs we dyed as crafts, for decor.  I nested jelly beans and robin egg chocolates in shredded coconut baskets as another touch of decor and sweet treat.  I bought striped and polka dot (or coconut! as my girls would say) straws and baking cups from the Tomkat Studio.
Project Summary:  Tools Needed:  Cupcakes (make or buy),  shredded coconut for garnish, easter candy and dyed eggs; paper items for decor (baking cups and straws), plastic bottles or mason jars Cost:  $15 – $20; time spent – 1 – 2 hours (depends on amount of baking)
{Homemade Birthday Cake}

{Homemade Birthday Cake}

Birthday Cake
Yeah, I made the cake too.  I made a quick recipe, just for show, because I wanted a cute cake for my baby boy to smash and get all nice and dirty in.  Well, he was pretty much terrified of the cake after we helped him blow out the candle, so that didn’t venture out too well.  Unplanned, we ended up serving it to everyone, and it was a big hit.  Well, it was all organic and from scratch, so that was a plus.  It was made sweeter by the coconut garnish and the mini banner made with scrap card stock.
Project Summary:  Tools Needed:  Cake (make or buy),  shredded coconut for garnish, card stock, ribbon and straws for mini banner Cost:  $5 – $10; time spent – 1 – 2 hours (depends on amount of baking)

 

{Happy Birthday to You!}

{Happy Birthday to You!}

All in all, it was a fun party and all the work put into planning and decorating was well worth it.  I’m happy the birthday boy enjoyed all the decor and fuss as much as I did, and not to mention the girls’ joy in helping him celebrate too!

{birthday boy, not wanting to get a little cake on him..}

{birthday boy, not wanting to get a little cake on him..}

I leave you with a photo of my squirming baby boy, squirmy and all, as a reaction to when we tried to get his little hands on his cake…

I hope you enjoyed this post, and that it was fun as well as informative.  Thank you all for following my blog.

{Have the sweetest day}

xoxo

Haydee

 

i’m dreaming of a {white kitchen}…

{via House of Turquoise}

Lately, I’ve fallen in love with white kitchens.  I love their clean lines, modern and classic look, and the open and airy feeling they evoke.  I’ve been looking through tons of photos of kitchens I love, and I see a common theme evolving.

Here is my wish list for our new kitchen, which we hope to have soon:

  1. White cabinets – up to the ceiling, for more storage
  2. Deep drawers for pots, pans and lids
  3. Pull-out function for corner cabinets
  4. Glass tiles in white or clear glass
  5. Glass cabinets and/or open shelves
  6. White counter tops with minimal shading
  7. Apron sink, with chrome faucet
  8. Clean hardware — stainless, chrome, or crystal
  9. Hidden storage for trash and recycling
  10. Dark wood floors, balanced with an area rug
  11. Baking station – all baking items and display of cupcake stands and dessert plates

Here are some more photos of white kitchens that are inspiring my design of our new kitchen…

{via House of Turquoise}

{via decorpad}

{via design indoor}

 

Visit my ‘Kitchen Remodel’ inspiration board on pinterest, for more kitchen ideas that I’m loving these days!

{happy decorating!}

xo

~the sweetest mami~

{be inspired} the power of inspiration boards

inspiration board for {how sweet life is}

Do you like this?  Great! I’m currently taking a Blog Design Workshop, and this is the inspiration board for my blog.  I only started this week, and already I’ve learned so much.   I’m so excited to update my blog, so that it reflects more of my personality and style.

If you like this board, visit the full version on pinterest, and while you’re there why don’t you create your own inspiration board for something you love?  Are you thinking of updating your home?  Are you looking for new meal ideas?  Need some ideas for family photos?  I have many boards you can browse through, that can inspire you too.  Follow me on pinterest here.

{happy pinning!}

xo

~the sweetest mami~

ps.  The Blog Design Worskhop I’m taking is hosted by Jo Klima, a talented graphics designer who blogs at August Empress and designs websites at The Darling Tree.  Registration for this workshop is closed, but you can  visit Your Darling Blog Design Workshop pinand join the mailing list to be notified when registration for the next workshop opens.