Tag Archives: Cinco de Mayo

Go Big, or Go Home (I Happen to Think You Can Do Both)….A Visit to the Arhaus Store


I can’t exactly pinpoint the moment in time in which we lost control of our lives. I suppose like anything it was a natural progression; Chuck and I dated, were engaged, got married and started a family. When Nicholas and Amanda were little tykes it was mind numbing, but relatively simple; wake up, keep the house, care for the children, cook the meals, bathe the babies, watch a little TV and head off to bed. The fact that we have a pocket door that separates our Family Room from our Kitchen has been both a burden (completely lacking in the “Open Floor Plan Concept,” hence limiting the “flow” when company is present……and, as I am the More is More Mom®, you can imagine that company, of some sort, is frequently present) and a blessing (in the beginning the pocket door was a wonder, enabling us to corral the children in the hours after dinner and before bed…our people are total night owls…..allowing us time to catch up on evening programming like Seinfeld and E/R, back in the day; while also allowing for peace and privacy in our Family Room for reading (ha,ha,ha) or TV viewing (far more likely) and permitting a flurry of daily activity in our Kitchen simultaneously.). One day, out of the blue, madness ensued…..

Then, it would appear, over night, it all changed; at the tender age of 4, Nicholas started playing hockey, and over the years, added baseball, added basketball, added cross country, added track, and added golf. Amanda begged to take a gymnastics class herself, at the age of 4 (must be a magical age), was instantly invited to attend class twice a week, and all of the sudden that was that, she became a full time competitive gymnast……life became pretty busy.

As if Chuck’s career pursuits haven’t been crazy enough, sustaining our family, eleven years ago I started my own little Interior Decorating Business. Plain and simple; I Am A Worker. This probably comes as no shock to you, but you are looking at your 2005, Our Lady of Perpetual Donations, Volunteer of the Year. Oh yeah! One of my mottos is: If it takes up all of our time, uses up all of our resources and makes absolutely no sense what-so-ever… sign us up!!

Now, like a hundred years later, I find myself with a little more free time than I’ve ever experienced before. Nicky drives (frightening and fantastic), Amanda is at gym 20hours a week (frightening and fantastic), leaving me with time I could have only dreamed about! So, what is a girl to do?

Well…I must share with you; one of my pursuits has been to take advantage of all of the wonderful opportunities to develop relationships in the world of Interior Design. I have been racing from cocktail party….with SWAG (!)….to cocktail party….with SWAG (!) and have learned of, and seen (oh bliss!), many wonderful and exciting things.

Last week I attended a soiree at the Arhaus Store. Their store in South Barrington, IL was a visual delight! I had an opportunity to chit chat with the Visual Art Director, Adam, who represented their three Chicago-land stores. What I observed was over-the –top, repetition-for-visual-impact Design….

A gigantic cylinder vase, filled with river rock, water and a fresh stem of greenery.

Another of their gigantic cylinder vases, this time filled with grass (organic and brilliant)!!

Simple green recycled bottles, displayed as a beautiful collection.

Back to the Beach: Bell Jars displaying a collection of sea-shells and an enormous hurricane filled with sand, a candle and more sea-shells! I am dreaming of a visit from Frankie Avalon (Venus, if you will….) and Annette Funicello (of Mickey Mouse Club Fame)….

Again (See my Cinco De Mayo Celebration and my visit to Home Depot), we are observing the whimsical spiky plant as a decorative element (can I pick ‘em or what?)…

Animal skins…. as rugs (lions, and tigers and bears….and zebra’s)…. Oh My!

 

What I adore is the over-the-top-fantasy of it all…

You know what they say…..Go Big, or Go Home! As the More is More Mom®, I think you can do both!

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Cinco de Mayo…..CELEBRATE!!


As the More is More Mom® I am totally up for a good celebration. Let’s see, the month of May brings the likes of May Crowning, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and the ever popular Cinco de Mayo (commemorating the Mexican Army’s victory over the French forces at the Battle of Puebla…once again, I owe all of my knowledge of obscure historical facts to Wikipedia.). Cinco de Mayo is way better then St. Patrick’s Day. The wearing of the green is all well and good, but unless you love drinking beer, St. Paddy’s is kind of a let down (not to mention the fact that we usually have snow in March, but the warm weather in May screams, “Cocktails on the Patio.”). Cinco de Mayo on the other hand, now that’s a party……

This year my family and I celebrated Quattro de Mayo (all in the name of good photo opportunities!). My tablescape was festive and my menu delicious!

You know I’m all about the layering. The brightly hued, striped tablecloth sets the tone for a good time. My tres fabulous, multi purpose orange runner (I’m completely head over heals for orange these days. Who knew?), with the beautiful lattice pattern, is the perfect foil (One must love Pottery Barn, especially on clearance!). Hot pink placemats, edged with a beaded trim, are festive. Toss on rattan chargers for a textural element. Amidst the sea of color, the bright green glass dinner plates are a playful tie in to the citrus orange, and the pink dessert plates compliment the pink stripes in the table linens. I completely understand that a tablecloth negates the need for coasters, but I can’t resist the decorative detail of the green sparkles. Besides, the coaster then gives the proper importance to the ever necessary…..margarita glass. I rounded out the fabric elements with teal cloth napkins with a fringed edge, and slid it in place with a rattan napkin ring to re-enforce the texture of the charger. Simple silver flatware and orange and yellow peppers to adorn each place and completes my table setting. Bigger and better things await….

All of the elements of your tablescape should be thoughtful and help re-enforce your theme. A centerpiece can either merely compliment, or play an integral part in telling you story. How better to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than with Mexican Pottery? On a TJ Maxx and More run I fell in love with this sweet little froggy planter, and these wonderful matching patterned planters. The mix of patterns is vibrant and fantastic! Some hot pink floral stems from Jo Anne Fabrics filled in the froggy planter beautifully. The decorative, air purifying, plants I picked up at Home Depot the other day worked quite nicely in the planters. Every table setting benefits from candle light and I thought the simplicity of these votive holders, down played with the driftwood and twine detailing, was lovely.

The expanse of my kitchen island always works well for a buffet. I chose a red and orange, big buffalo check, square table cloth to set at an angle to anchor my display. At one end of the buffet, I filled my apothecary jars with lemons, limes and moss covered rocks for color and interest. On the other end, I placed two tall black painted candle sticks with floral detailing. For the center of my display I brought out my Chiquita Banana Lady that I use to serve tortilla chips. She is decorative and useful! On either side of her, I placed oversized margarita glasses (though I suppose that is personal opinion depending on how much you enjoy margaritas.); one to serve salsa, one to serve guacamole. The rest was simple….. a blue glass pedestal dish for the warmed tortilla shells, a platter for the fajita’s, a platter for the grilled corn, a baking dish for the nachos, plates, napkins, and of course blue glass tea light holders.

Not only does your celebration have to look good, but it should taste good too! I made salsa, guacamole, nachos, tacos, fajitas and grilled corn. All easy to make and prep in advance.

Salsa and Guacamole:
So easy to make! I always prepare an extra big batch of salsa so we have something to nibble on for a few days, though the guacamole doesn’t last nearly as long. I make both at the same time for the sake of efficiency.

 

7-8 tomatoes, diced (there about….5 for the salsa in one bowl, 2-3 for the guacamole in a second bowl)

1 large white onion, diced (two thirds in the salsa bowl, one third in the guacamole bowl)

1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced (two thirds in the salsa bowl, one third in the guacamole bowl)

1 bunch of cilantro, washed, chopped (all in the salsa bowl)

3 avocados’s, peeled, seeded, mashed in to thin chunks (all in the guacamole bowl)

3 salsa seasoning packets (salsa bowl)

3 guacamole seasoning packets (guacamole bowl)

In each bowl, stir until the ingredients are well mixed, add avocado pits back to guacamole bowl, transfer to air tight containers and refrigerate until ready to serve….with your favorite tortilla chips!

Nachos and Tacos:

My family likes more of everything (including leftovers), so dishes with identical ingredients would be no exception….
3 lbs of ground beef, browned
3 taco seasoning packets, mixed well with drained ground beef
(Can be prepared in advance, stored in an airtight container, the mess cleaned up, and re-heated as needed.)
3-4 tomatoes diced (wrapped in paper towels, I should be paid for promoting Bounty, and stored in a Zip-Loc Baggie, I should be paid by them too, or an airtight container.)
1-2 bunches scallions, trimmed and diced (I store in a Zip-Loc sandwich baggie)
Lettuce chopped (my usual method….wrapped in paper towel stored in a container or baggie)
Black olives, sliced (I buy them pre-sliced in the can to make my life the slightest bit simpler…not usually my specialty.)
Shredded Cheese (my people like cheddar, but go crazy!)
Anything else you like on Nacho’s and Taco’s; peppers, sour cream…have at it!
Tortilla chips
Tortilla shells

Nachos:

Pre-heat oven to 350.

 

On a baking sheet (lined with aluminum foil for easy clean up), or if you are serving to guests, I would recommend a pretty baking dish;

Scatter a layer of tortilla chips.

Top with a heaping layer of cheese.

Spread as a hearty a layer of taco meat as your family prefers.

Sprinkle on tomatoes, scallions, black olives and anything else your heart desires.

Additional layers if necessary.

Bake for 10-15 minutes and dig in!

Tacos:
I think we all know how to make tacos. Eat up!

Steak Fajitas:

I found this recipe on the Food Network website. It smelled heavenly and Chuck said it tasted even better (I was busy nibbling on Nachos).
The Marinade:
I made two batches of the marinade and separated the meat from the vegetables. Each batch required:

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup red wine
2 TBSP light corn syrup
½ tsp hot sauce (I used way more. If you’re making spicy….make it spicy)

¼ tsp black pepper (I’m crazy for cracked black pepper, so I just kept sprinkling)
The Meat:

12 ounces left over flank steak slices (left over from what? I bought one pound of flank steak, sliced it against the grain in very thin slices so they were easy to eat wrapped in a tortilla shell, tossed them in a Zip-Loc Baggie with the marinade over night.)

The Vegetables:

I like a lot of veggies, so I doubled the amount.

2 green bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
Toss in to a Zip-Loc Baggie with the marinade overnight.

In a large non-stick skillet, I sautéed the meat (discarding the marinade), in a little bit of oil, until cooked through.

Remove from the pan and set aside on a platter.
In the same skillet, I sautéed the vegetables (discarding the marinade), until the veggies were nice and soft, almost caramelized.

Remove from the pan and set aside on the platter.

Serve on a warmed, soft tortilla shell and top with guacamole if desired.

Mexican Sweet Corn:

This also came from the Food Network website. It was beautiful, smelled amazing and was outstanding!
I adjusted the recipe to accommodate 10 ears of corn. As it read, the recipe was intended for 4 ears of corn. It can’t just be, because I am the More is More Mom®, that 4 ears of corn seem like a ridiculously small quantity, even for a family of 4. What if someone wants more?

10 ears of corn (husks removed. I always do that the night before I serve corn on the cob and store in a 2 gallon Zip-Loc Baggie…seriously they should pay me. I can’t stand the mess of the silks.)
Mayonnaise (or butter Mixture):

I like mayo just fine, but none of my people like it, so I substituted butter and it was delish.

2 sticks of butter, softened (or, for a single recipe they recommend ½ cup of mayo, so I assume if you were doubling the recipe, 1 cup of mayo)
2tsp chili powder (I eyeballed)
2 tsp garlic salt (I eyeballed)
Freshly ground black pepper (Again, I used cracked black pepper, and I eyeballed the amount…..I have very good eyeballs.)
Stir all ingredients together until well mixed and store in an airtight container (If you have not already stocked up in duplicates of various sizes of glass containers with lids, you should….)

 

Heat the grill. Turn down to medium. Brush the cobs of corn with oil and place on the grill. Turn until all sides are charred, 6-10 minutes. Remove from grill and slather on your butter or mayonnaise mixture. Serve on a pretty platter and garnish with quarter cut limes for anyone that might like to squeeze a little fresh juice over their corn.

 

So there you have it….a beautiful and tasty Cinco de Mayo celebration. Ole!

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