Wednesday, December 7, 2016

15 Fun Facts About Hawaii

 I'll be perfectly honest -- before I moved to Hawaii, I didn't know much except that I planned to lay on the beach every single day. HA! That's a bit laughable now, but I feel like I've learned so much in such a short amount of time, it would be criminal not to share! Today, I'm dishing 15 fun facts I've learned about the great Aloha State :)

15 Fun Facts About Hawaii
1. Hawaii has its own time zone (Hawaiian Standard Time.) There is no daylight savings time. The time runs two hours behind Pacific Standard Time and five hours behind Eastern Standard Time.

2. The state of Hawaii is composed of eight main islands(in order from northwest to southeast): Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and the Big Island of Hawaii.

3. Honolulu is the largest city in the world based on borders. According to the state constitution, any island (or islet) not named as belonging to a county belongs to Honolulu. This makes all islands within the Hawaiian Archipelago, that stretch to Midway Island (1,500 miles northwest of Hawaii) part of Honolulu. Honolulu is about 1,500 miles long, more than halfway across the 48 contiguous states.

4. Molokai was once the home of the world's largest pineapple plantations.

5. Ka Lae, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, is the southernmost point in the United States and is located at 18:54:49 N 155:41:00 W.

6. Measured from its base at the bottom of the ocean floor, Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii is the tallest mountain in the world.

7. Billboards are illegal here! Hawaii is one of four states that have outlawed billboard signage. The others are Alaska, Maine, and Vermont.

8. Hawaii has no snakes -- and it's illegal to bring them. The only legal snakes are kept at the zoo.

9. Flower leis are a customary tradition throughout the Hawaiian Islands. These hand-woven floral masterpieces are presented at nearly every celebration.

10. Hawaii is the only U.S. state with a tropical rain forest.

11. The Iolani Palace, located in Honolulu on Oahu, is the only royal palace in the United States.

12. At 3,000 feet deep, 7.5 miles long and 2.5 miles wide, Haleakalā is the world's largest dormant volcano. The name in Hawaiian means 'House of the Sun'.

13. The Hawaiian Archipelago is the largest island chain in the world, spanning 1,523 miles.

14. Hawaii is the most isolated population center on earth. The chain of islands is 2,390 miles from California; 3,850 miles from Japan; 4,900 miles from China; and 5,280 miles from the Philippines.

15. Hawaii is nicknamed 'The Aloha State', because 'aloha' is the most commonly used word in the Hawaiian language, meaning hello, goodbye, love, best wishes, and more.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Ultimate 2016 Gift Guide For Everyone On Your List

You know me - I'm a shopper from way back. Sick in bed? Shop online. Have a bad day? Hit the mall. Need a mood lift? Walk around Target. You see where this is going. As much as I love shopping, I also love giving gifts. There's something so special about picking out a gift for someone that you know they'll love and that's part of why I love the holidays so much.

This year, I kept it simple on gift guides and am giving it to you all in one place! I created lists for ladies based on what's on my list this year, for men based on what Dane is getting and has received in recent years (and loved!), as well as a list of all Judy & Bill's favorites!
The Ultimate 2016 Gift Guide For Everyone On Your List

Happy Shopping!

Gifts For The Ladies

Okay so no real surprises here from me - a little hair/makeup, some clothes and a few functional pieces.
Sultra Curling Wand: Full disclosure - I use this bad boy daily and love it! By daily I mean as often as I wash my hair and for touch ups here and there. It's a MUST.

I Heart Keenwah Chocolate Puffs: The perfect snack! Equal parts sweet and salty...mmmm!

Blank Denim Jeans: I blame Kelsey for my addiction to ripped denim...

Kylie Lip Kit: Okay so I admit, I'm not a fan of the Kardashians, but I AM a fan of lip color staying on all day. I'd be willing to give this a try if I got it in my stocking!

Turkish Towels: A swanky little upgrade for your shower routine

Bath & Body Works Candles: The Leaves scent is by far my favorite!

Rifle Paper Co Prints/Cards: I love the whimsical designs from Rifle Paper Co & this Hawaii print hangs proudly in my house already :)

Le Creuset Dutch Oven: This cookware is what kitchen dreams are made of!

Men's Gift Guide 2016

Shinola Watch: Dane has yet to take his off since I gifted it to him earlier this year!

HydroFlask: By far the best water bottles around! My ice stays in there for 3 days -- not joking!

Happy Socks: Dane loves these for work days and they're perfect for a stocking stuffer!

Vineyard Vines Slim Fit Polos: They have the best fit of the MANY that have come through our door, plus they come in a ton of colors.

The Tie Bar Bow Ties: Dane likes these because they are affordable AND high quality!

The Big Green Egg: We are hoping Santa may drop this off at our new house this year. After spending the summer with my parents (who have the most amazing outdoor kitchen setup), we are determined to smoke everything!

Sugarfina Pale Ale Gummies: A delectable little stocking treat! For the true booze aficionado, stock their sock with this bevy of cocktail-inspired candy!

Duluth Pack Portfolio Bag: I've been on the hunt for a bag Dane could carry to work that was functional, yet durable. I think I've found it in this Duluth Pack!

Dog Gift Guide 2016

And what kind of #crazydoglady would I be if I didn't give you suggestions for your four legged family members?

Judy LOVES the KONG Stuffed Animals while Bill is more of an aggressive player and needs more durable rope-style tug toys.

The Furminator: This is a MUST for anyone with dogs who are shed monsters like mine. This keeps the furball tumbleweeds in my hallways to a minimum.

Waggo Bowls: We use elevated aluminum bowls and slow feeders for every day use, but sometimes our special pups require homemade/wet food and they get it in this fun Waggo bowl. Shamelessly, I just really like the fun colors,

Tennis balls: I have two Labs - I buy these bad boys in bulk on Amazon.

Petsafe DrinkWell Water Fountain: We have about 400 water bowls throughout our house, but the Petsafe Water Fountains are by far my favorite. I discovered them at BlogPaws this summer and fell in love. They keep water fresh and don't accumulate as much dirt/grime as I had once imagined.

Now that I've shared my musts for this season -- let me know what's at the top of your list! I love discovering new gifts to give!

Monday, December 5, 2016

How To Craft The Perfect Charcuterie Board

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. 
#BoursinCheese #CollectiveBias

If there's one thing that I'm known for at the holidays -- it's entertaining. I really love having friends and family around my table, in my house and enjoying the magic of the season. To me, it's more special than any gift. But what's a party without food? It's not a party, that's what.
How To Craft The Perfect Charcuterie Board

One of the food staples I have at every party is a well-thought-out charcuterie board. It's Dane's favorite part, because specialty cheeses, meats and bread are not typical things we keep in our house. #sadbuttrue
How To Craft The Perfect Charcuterie Board

When I was in culinary school in Italy, one of the topics we learned about was how to prepare the perfect board with accompanying snacks for guests to enjoy. This particular segment was followed by a trip to the home of Parmigiano Reggiano and dear Lord in heaven - I just want to live there. That's a story for another day...

Just in time for your own holiday get-togethers, I'm sharing how to craft the perfect charcuterie board on your own. Let's dive right in! 

How To Craft The Perfect Charcuterie Board
I always like to keep these three concepts in mind while preparing:
  1. Mix things up! Offer a a wide range of cheeses, so that you can appeal to all guests
  2. Prep early! Cheese should be served at room temperature, so prep things about one hour before guests arrive so it has time to breathe
  3. It's more than cheese! The perfect charcuterie board offers more than just cheese - be sure to add something sweet (I like fruit or honey), a meat option (or two) and some sort of bread. My go-to is thinly sliced prosciutto from the deli and a fresh baguette!
Now, what cheese? What tools? 

 I mentioned before about variety and what I keep in mind is creamy and crumbly, as well as fresh and aged. It's important to have variety, because taste in cheese is palate dependent. 

A couple favorites include: 

Boursin® is a creamy, crumbly cheese that your guests are sure to love and you can pick some up in Walmart's dairy section. My go to is Boursin® Garlic & Fine Herbs Cheese, because I love the hint of garlic without it being overwhelming, but the Cranberry & Spice or Cranberry & Apple would make a great addition to any holiday plate! Other flavors include: Boursin® Red Chili Pepper, Basic & Chive and Cracked Black Pepper. This cheese spreads very easily, so make sure you have some bread or crackers nearby! A soft cheese knife would be best for this smooth cheese.
How To Craft The Perfect Charcuterie Board
There's currently an Ibotta offer for Boursin® that you can snag HERE!
Fresh burrata is another great choice - firm exterior and gooey delicious interior. Burrata falls into the category of pasta filata cheeses -- think mozzarella, fior di latte, straciatella, etc. And if I'm being totally candid - Americans have been messing it up for years. Traditional pasta filata cheeses from southern Italy are made from coagulated milk, whey and thermophilic bacteria. Americans recognized they could imitate this process (but never match taste or quality) with citric acid and thus, cheap Americanized mozzarella and the like were born. True pasta filata cheeses are nearly impossible to get outside small Italian delis or made in small batches at home, but are well worth the effort - trust me! Thinly slice these cheeses prior to serving for best results.

For a hard cheese, I typically turn to an aged cheddar, pecorino romano or parmigiano reggiano. I like something that guests can chunk off and put on top of a crostini or cracker, or simply enjoy for taste alone. Typically these cheeses have a salty sharpness in flavor. Parmigiano Reggiano comes with the highest price tag, so make sure you pick that one up when you're having your in-laws or boss over ;) A flat cheese knife works best to chip, chunk or shave these types of cheeses.
How To Craft The Perfect Charcuterie Board

Now that you have all your cheeses picked out, it's time to arrange and serve! I tend to arrange in a circular pattern, with a cheese alternate in between each selection (grapes, meat, honey, etc.), but how you choose to serve your platter is completely up to you. No matter what - your guests will gobble it right up.

What is your holiday entertaining go to?

How To Craft The Perfect Charcuterie Board

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