Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Personalized Prints on Wood by Cut Out Art- Review and Giveaway!

i recently had the opportunity to order a custom wooden print from Cut Out Art.  CutOutArt.com is a company based out of Lake Forest, California that allows you to upload your photos and have them printed onto wood.  Their unique printing procedure ingrains your pictures straight onto a ready- to-hang Wood Panel.  They offer a variety of sizes and styles, as well as different options for customizing your print to make it extra special. They take pride in every piece they print!



Creating a custom print is very easy. You can upload your photo from your PC,  Facebook or Instagram. There are different options for customizing: you can add text, a background, different images and symbols.  i created an 8 x 12 custom print.  This style was really intended to be a landscape, but i really liked this photo and it didn't fit as a landscape so i used it sideways and it still came out great!  There is a little (?) symbol at the bottom and if you click that it will give you a tour of the page and show you what the different features are and how to use them. 


The ordering process was very quick and easy! After submitting my order, i received an email letting me know my order had been received and then another when it shipped out. Shipping was quick and i'm super pleased with it. i love how you can see the wood grain through the print. 


All wood prints include a simple keyhole slotted hanging system and two mounting screws on back for hassle free hanging. The prints are heat and water resistant, and simple to clean with just a damp cloth. Every wooden print has it's own unique wood grain which shows through the print very subtly. 

i really like the wooden print that i received and i love that the company uses environmentally friendly inks, and wood that has been harvested in a sustainable way. Each piece is handcrafted in the USA and a portion of each purchase is donated to Charity Water.

The generous folks at Cut Out Art were kind enough to offer a custom 8 x 12 wooden print to one of my lucky readers!  Please enter below using the rafflecopter form, you may have to wait a minutes for it to load! This giveaway is open to US only. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway




i received a product in exchange for my honest review. i was not compensated, my opinions are my own. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Morel season!


Spring is my absolute favorite season. There are so many things waking up, and if you blink you'll miss it. Every year when Spring Break comes around, Kenan starts making plans for different places we can go. It always bums me out a bit, as there in no place i would rather be in the spring then here. 

With the kids in school, we have to take advantage of their vacations and breaks if we want to go anywhere...which means every spring, i feel like i miss so much.

This year was no different. Everything was just starting to open up and bloom and we were making plans to head to Florida. 




My morels usually start popping the second week of April, which is of course when we were going to be gone.  Our weather had been unseasonable warm, so i had a feeling morel season might be a bit early this year. So a few days before spring break i was out hunting morels.

i found these brand new tiny morels just starting to emerge. The largest one in this photo is only about an inch tall. They were all super tiny, so i covered them with leaves marked the spot and left them until we returned.



When we got back from our trip, i went out to check the morel spot before i even unpacked. As i was searching for my marked spot, i found this one. i was so excited that i hadn't missed them entirely. When i found my marked spot i was disappointed to see that they were all gone. It looked like they had just dried up from the lack of rain. 


i started hunting for more in the area, and was excited to find several that were a good size. They were just starting to dry in places and if i'd waited a day or two they would have been too old and unusable. 


i picked all of these in just a matter of minutes. They had all come up in the same small area that i've found morels in before, so i already knew where to look. They are not usually so easy to find. 

i went back out hunting a few more times that week and found 4 more, still in this same area. i hiked out all through the woods hoping to find another patch, but didn't find even one.  In years passed, i have found random morels in the strangest of places. We had a couple come up next to our mail box, a few in the flowerbed, a couple on our trail down to the creek and a couple more under the apple tree that is next to the creek. Many of our old reliable patches have since dried up.  They are so unpredictable, but always a joy to find.


With spring comes real food! My leafy greens are finally ready to harvest. The asparagus has just started coming up, my hens are laying like crazy and i have fresh herbs to incorporate into my meals. i get into such a food rut over the winter, and although i can purchase fresh vegetables at the local grocery store, it's just not the same as harvesting your own from seeds that you grew, nurtured or foraged yourself. Spring is truly the time of hope and new beginnings.


It was such a pleasure to sink one's hands into the warm earth, to feel at one's fingertips the possibilities of the new season. ~Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bouchard Chocolate Cheesecake Bites- Product Review






 i was invited to review some Belgium chocolate cheesecakes bites, so how could i say no? :) The whole family helped to test and review these and they got a unanimous double thumbs up. They are seriously delicious!!



Bouchard chocolates has been perfecting the art of chocolate making from the historical city Ghent, Belgium since 1931. The box contains three different flavors. Dulce de Leche, Strawberry and chocolate fudge. These are perfect for those moments when you just want to indulge.  



The chocolate is crisp when you first bite in, and then super smooth, melt in your mouth goodness.
They would make a wonderful Mother's day gift. (hint, hint) They are all so good, i can't even pick a favorite.

 You can find Cheesecake Bites this spring at your local Walgreens. they retail for around $10 a box.  Visit the website for more information about Bouchard chocolates. https://www.bouchardchocolate.com

i received this product at no cost in exchange for my honest review, i was not compensated.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Spring Break- Frida Kahlo at The Dali, St. Pete

One of the best and unplanned parts of our Spring break, was getting to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit at The Dali museum.  Kenan mentioned wanting to take the boy to the Dali, and having been there before many years ago i said i didn't need to go. i had no idea that they had a new building, and i was picturing the little museum i had visited probably 20 years ago. 

On the morning they planned to go, i decided completely last minute that i might as well go too. My girl was planning to stay home with Nana, but she too decided to come along.


So you can imagine my surprise when we walked up and i saw this gigantic museum! To add to the excitement, i comepltely freaked out when i saw that there was a Frida Kahlo exhibit on disply. i absolutely love Frida Kahlo and would have been so disappointed if i had stayed home and then found out her work was on exhibit! 


The new building is a work of art in itself. *The Dali’s stunning new building was designed by architect Yann Weymouth of HOK, it combines the rational with the fantastical: a simple rectangle with 18-inch thick hurricane-proof walls out of which erupts a large free-form geodesic glass bubble known as the “enigma”. The Enigma, which is made up of 1,062 triangular pieces of glass, stands 75 feet at its tallest point, a twenty-first century homage to the dome that adorns Dali’s museum in Spain.


Inside, the Museum houses another unique architectural feature – a helical staircase – recalling Dali’s obsession with spirals and the double helical shape of the DNA molecule.


The museum offers self guided, audio tours. they provide an ipod and headset, and as you move from piece to piece, you click on the picture on the ipod and it narrates the corresponding story.  It was interesting, but i honestly found it a little distracting. i would have rather just read the info myself. i suppose it's helpful for when the museum is very busy, you don't have to wait for your chance to get close enough to read the info about each painting.


As we were getting our headsets from the front counter i asked the woman working if we were allowed to take pictures. Often times cameras are not aloud in museums. She told me that no pictures were aloowed inside the Frida Kahlo exhibit, and you could take photos (no flash) in the Salvador Dali exhibit.  So we snapped pictures on the outside before entering the exhibit.


Once inside the Frida exhibit, i immediately noticed that EVERYONE was taking pictures. There were museum staff standing right there, and smiling and seemed to have no problem with it. Several people were even using their flash and the museum staff, standing right there,  didn't say a thing. There were also no signs anywhere saying not to take photos.

So after we finished the Frida Exhibit, i went back and took one photo. :) 


The Salvador Dali exhibit was amazing. i was surprised how small some of the paintings were, and how large others were. He detail work on the small painting is just unbelievable. 


The audio tour does provide a lot of information about the Dali's life and work. It was a very enjoyable museum to visit for the entire family. For kids, there is the Mustache tour treasure hunt.  It's the family friendly version of the audio tour, and they win a prize for completing the treasure hunt. The only downside of it, is that the mustache tour didn't include all the paintings, and my daughter wanted to rush through the treasure hunt to get her prize, so i ended up missing some of the information from the regular tour trying to keep up with her.


After we finished up in the museum, we went outside to the gardens. There is a tree with ropes hanging down that are covered in admission bracelets. So we took ours off and added them to the tree. There is also a hedge maze and there was a tribute garden for Frida Kahlo.


They also have a nice gift shop, with souvenirs in all price ranges. The Dali Museum was a really neat experience. i'm so glad i decided to tag along last minute. i would have been devastated to miss the Frida exhibit, and see the new museum. Definitely add it to your to do list next time you visit the St. Pete area! 



*See more at: http://thedali.org/about-the-museum/the-building/#sthash.iXdWOMon.dpuf

Friday, April 21, 2017

Spring Break 2017- Bradenton/Anna Marie Island

Spring break in Florida!  This year we decided to take a quick trip down to Florida to visit with my parents over the kids spring break. They ony get 2 days off for spring break, the Friday before and the Monday after Easter. We took them out of school Thursday and Tues, so we had a little more time to enjoy the break. It still ended up being a very quick trip.

 The first day we drove around 6 hours, and stayed the night in Savannah. The next morning we headed to Leesburg to visit my 79 year old Grandma.


Since we were just stopping for a few hours we brought pizza and pie, so she didn't have to worry about cooking. After eating we went down to the pool house and the kids spent an hour enjoying the pool while we sat around a visited. It was great to see my grandma and a nice break from all the driving. After leaving my grandmother's we headed on to Bradenton, where my parents live 6 months of the year.  It's only about 2 hours from my grandma, so we arrived Thursday evening.


The next morning we got up early and headed to the beach! Anna Marie Island is just across the bridge from Bradenton. We like to go to Coquina beach.  If you get there in the morning, it's really not that busy. 


The water is crystal clear and quite shallow, so i could let the kids play in the water without worrying too much. While they were swimming, a school of fish came close to them and then pelicans began diving all around them scooping up the fish.  It was a pretty neat thing to observe.


We spent a few hours on the beach with my mom, then headed back to their house for lunch. The kids enjoyed the pool at the clubhouse, while Kenan and i tried to recover from the drive. After dinner, we headed back to Anna Marie Island to enjoy the sunset.


This was taken at Bradenton beach. There are beaches all down this strip and fun little shell shops and touristy stuff. We were looking for a relaxing low key vacation, and the beach was just what we needed.