After a week of traveling with minimal quality food, I was absolutely craving pizza. But not just any kind of pizza, Chicago Style deep dish pizza. When these cravings set in, all I think about is how satisfying it would be to have it, but how much pain I’ll be in from the long list of ingredients involved that I shouldn’t be having.
This past weekend I invited 4 women to join me in a weekend, girls-only, camping getaway. The trip was based around making it to see the poppy fields. There are a few options for someone looking to see poppies in southern California, the most well known being Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. Being only 1-2 hours out of Los Angeles, we chose to see them in Antelope Valley.
I’ve started hosting monthly potlucks with my friends as a way to share in food and get everyone together. This month’s theme was the ever popular Unicorn Food!
I had all of these aspirations of trying to make rainbow grilled cheese, or fancy multi-colored ice cream. The day arrived for the get together and time got the best of me. While prepping other food items, assuming most people would end up bringing sweets and people would want some real food too, I was worried I’d never get to my actual dish.
In thinking of an extremely easy dish I could make that would still contribute to the Unicorn Food theme, it dawned on me that I had left over instant pudding. I know, I know. It isn’t my normal healthy diet dish, but everyone’s allowed a cheat day every once in a while, right? It was so ridiculously easy, while still impressing my guests, that I knew I just had to share!
Having clear glasses (I purchased plastic ones to make clean up easy) is key. After all, you want your guests to see the beautifully colored layers right? I garnished it with a strawberry on top, but you could definitely get elaborate with the decorations. Next time, I may add whipped cream, sprinkles and assorted fruits.
You could certainly make the pudding from scratch, but what made this so quick was using the store bought instant pudding. It’s only 3 ingredients! The pudding hardens so quick you almost don’t have time to pour it into the glasses (which is why you need to move fast). The benefit to this, though, is that you can have these ready in under 30 minutes, as you don’t have to wait long for each layer to set. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!
Quick and Easy Unicorn Food: Rainbow Vanilla Pudding
- 4 Packages Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
- Milk (quantity required by the pudding mix you purchase x 4)
- Food Coloring (4 different colors)
DirectionsKeep in mind: I purchased a generic instant vanilla pudding mix from the store that required only milk to be added. I used whole milk for full creaminess. Please note that if you are making pudding from scratch, or using a brand that requires additional ingredients you may need to adjust the timing on each step.
- Line a tray with 10 clear cups (or glasses).
- Because the pudding starts to harden almost immediately when the mix is combined with the milk, it is easiest to color the milk before adding the actual pudding mix. Add the amount of milk required by one full milk packet of instant pudding mix to a bowl.
- Add 4 drops of your first food coloring to the milk in the bowl and stir until the milk reaches the color of your choosing. You can add more or less food coloring to adjust for the saturation you are looking to achieve. Note that the pudding may add a bit of a yellow color once added.
- Next, add the contents from 1 pudding mix box to the bowl and mix it in with a whisk until all mix is dissolved into the milk.
- Immediately begin pouring into the 10 cups, pouring until you’re about 1/2 inch up the glass of pudding (or your desired layer height). You may end up with extras at the end if your pours were smaller, but that’s okay – more for the chef! Once it starts hardening, it’s tough to get an even layer in the glass.
- Let this layer sit for 5 minutes to harden. This is key in ensuring your layers don’t combine.
- Now, repeat the process again with your next 3 colors until you have 4 beautiful layers in your cup.
- Garnish with a strawberry (or toppings of your choosing) and serve!
Recipe by TheirWanderlust.com
This past weekend I hosted a weekend camping getaway for myself and 4 other women. We had one goal in mind: to see the poppies in Antelope Valley!
In searching for a place to camp, I found Saddleback Butte State Park, just a short 45 minute drive from the Poppy Reserve and about an hour and a half out of Los Angeles. We were looking for a desert-type camping, in comparison to the Angeles Forest, and loved that it was surrounded by Joshua Trees. It’s a small (37 campsites) campground East of Lancaster. There’s a small town with a gas station a couple of strip malls about 7 minutes from the camping grounds, so it’s a great location for anyone wanting to get out of the big city, but still feel close to civilization in case of an emergency. It took us about an hour and a half to get there with moderate traffic immediately outside of LA.
The campgrounds offered some of the best/cleanest bathrooms (just a sink and toilet) I have seen yet. Most of the campsites also came with a fire ring, a wooden shelter over a picnic table, parking spot for 2 or 3 and a grill.
Saddleback Butte State Park camping is on a first-come-first-serve basis and each campsite can have a maximum of 8 people. Most likely due to the high winds and cold weather, only about 1/4 of the campsites were taken when we arrived late Friday night. A few other campers joined Saturday. At the entrance, campers can grab an envelope with a permit to fill out and turn in the cash for the campsite. The cost was $20/night plus $6/night for each additional vehicle. Our total cost came out to be $52 for the weekend (two night) stay. There is a grounds keeper that comes by and checks at this park. Note that there is no attendant taking the cash, so you should plan to have exact change.
The other campers while we were there pretty much stuck to themselves, and nobody seemed overly rowdy. There were a couple of RVs and a handful of trailers throughout the area. The atmosphere is wonderful! We found a camping spot right next to a large Joshua tree, away from the rest of the campers. I will note that given the proximity to the highway, you do hear a bit of the traffic. For the most part, I never noticed it though. The ground we put our tent on was primarily a sandy texture. There were a lot of prickly plants growing up from the ground, that when touched, stung/tingled like poison ivy, so steer clear of those!
There are a handful of surrounding museums, hiking trails, and hills. In the far distance you can see the San Gabriel mountains. We unfortunately didn’t get to do any hiking in this area as we did our day trip to the poppy fields, but I have read great reviews on the hiking. Just outside of the camping spot, you can take 170 st. E north to E Ave. J, where just north of that intersection up a small gravel road (maybe 500 feet) is a small church ruins that’s awesome to check out.
Be sure to check the weather ahead of time, especially earlier in the year! We experienced a small bit of rain, high winds, and low temperatures at night. The winds gusted up to 20 mph, but our well-staked tent made it through the weekend just fine.
We will definitely be coming back to this State Park again! It was such a beautiful landscape, well-kept campground, and a short distance from Los Angeles, making it perfect for a last minute getaway.
More information on Saddleback Butte State Park can be found here.
For the past two years, Jesse and I have been attending Artisanal LA’s Spring and Fall shows. This biannual, pop-up show brings together nearly 100 small businesses from around the country offerings a variety of goods including food, clothing, beverages, skincare and more. I instantly fell in love with this event the first time I attended! Not only can you sample and shop around the various vendors, but the organization also puts on both free and paid programming ranging from DIY crafts to beer tastings.
To be quite honest, we typically come strictly for the shopping. Where else can you find so many niche products under one roof with the chance to sample before purchasing? Some of the products found at Artisanal are already being sold in stores like Whole Foods or Erewhon, but a lot are only available online.
This year it was housed at the California Market Center Penthouse (the same place it was held in Fall of 2016). If you’re trying to penny pinch, be aware that street parking can be difficult to find; however, parking is easy and relatively cheap (under $20) at the CMC. For newcomers, I highly recommend allowing yourself at least 3 hours there. With the abundance of vendors and time spent getting to know each brand, you don’t want to limit yourself on timing. They typically have food vendors available on site to purchase full meals from, but if nothing interests you, you can usually find 4 or 5 food trucks stationed outside as well. Don’t forget, you’ll be eating a full meal of samples too!
A lot of our favorite vendors were back this show from previous shows! Right when we walked into the venue, Carlitos Gardel Restaurant was the first booth we saw. Last Fall we picked up their delicious chimichurri sauce, which was being sold again this time along with their new aioli spread. We had such a great time getting to know the guys last time, we ended up doing a nice dinner out for Jesse’s birthday at their restaurant on Melrose in Los Angeles. For those nights of ballin’ without a budget, I highly recommend it! The steak was incredible, the service impeccable, and the restaurant has a nice home-like feel to it.
We headed over to the 21+ area where a few beverage companies were sampling beer and spirits. I really loved the Session IPA that Eagle Rock Brewing was sampling.
Another unique product we tried was Ventura Spirits‘ Strawberry Brandy. The gentleman sampling explained that the spirit was made from the bruised strawberries that the farmers in Ventura would normally discard, but made for the perfect alcoholic beverage. It was delicious! Made in the same facility, the neighbor booth Amaro Angeleno mixed their sweet and light liqueur with a tiny bit of soda water for us to sample as well.
As with all of the last shows I’ve been too, The Sanctuary at Soledad once again had the goats here, but this time there was a baby! The Sanctuary at Soledad rescues abused, abandoned and neglected goats (along with other animals), saving them from being euthanized. They had candles on sale along with a few other items, for which proceeds help fund the sanctuary.
One booth that was hard to miss was The Hummus Guy. A loud, energetic man with half of his face on the cover of all of the hummus packages, handed out samples to passerbys, letting them know he had the best hummus in town. I have to admit he wasn’t incorrect in that statement!
We also fell in love with Paragon Jams. We took a jar of the Pear Tarragon Jam home and made a whiskey and tea cocktail with it that night! Another awesome jam vendor there was Indie Jams, selling unique combos of flavors.
Califia Farms continues to pop up at a lot of events I’ve attended with their cold brew coffees mixed with different non-dairy milks. I’ve always really enjoyed their product, and personally prefer the Black and White (cold brew mixed with almond milk).
We grabbed some delicious granola to use in our acai bowls from Sommer House, who also had a delicious chocolate flavored granola.
If you’ve been to any of the major farmer’s markets throughout the LA area, you’ve probably seen Leonardo e Roberto’s Gourmet Blends. They have an incredible line of infused oils and vinegars. We have several at home ourselves including the Passion Fruit Balsamic Vinegar and the Lemon Olive Oil. They’re great for marinades and dressings!
Last year we went home with Ag Standard’s truffle almonds, and this year we tripled the amount we took home! They added a new flavor, a chocolate almond, to their already incredible line of flavors. Seriously though… truffles + almonds.
Hands down the most insta-ready booth was Plant Puns. Succulents, ferns, herbs, and other plants lined shelves with witty puns like a fern with “Fernie Sanders” written on it and “Catnip Everdeen” written on a pot with catnip.
We took home Lahtt Sauce this time around, and boy am I happy we did! We picked up the vegetarian sauce (an asian, all-purpose chili sauce) and have already had a chance to use it! I tossed it in with some quick stir fry and it made for the perfect, quick dinner.
I could go on and on about all of the amazing things we tried! But, to spare you the even longer post, here are some of the other unique products we enjoyed and/or took home:
- Mary’s Chicken (Before moving to a primarily vegetarian diet, their Air Chilled Chicken was my go to!)
- Indie Jams
- Bond Bar
- Brothee (Love the vegan Mushroom broth!)
- 36 Degrees Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Creme Creations
- Iggy Chips
Thanks for the great event, Artisanal LA. We can’t wait to come back in the fall!
For this month’s craft night with the ladies, I wanted to make something functional and decorative. I saw someone selling a set of wooden hanging shelves and figured it would be the perfect home decor to replicate. After reading several blogs explaining different methods and styles to make, I decided to take on the adventure through a little trial and error.
Given the right tools, this is such a simple and adorable craft to make for your home. I only made one myself, but I am highly considering a second (or third… or fourth…) now to complete my set.
The supplies you’ll need for this are:
- Piece of wood for the shelf itself (used 4.5 inch wide by .75 inch thick wood from Home Depot cut to make 16″ long shelves)
- Power drill
- Drill bit for putting holes into the wood (I used a brad-point bit to help with more precise drilling into the wood)
- Steel ring (I used 2″)
- Sand paper (I used 120 grit)
- Wood stain
- Paint brush for the wood stain
When I picked up the wood at Home Depot, I had them cut the long board of 3/4 inch thick by 4 1/2 wide board into multiple 16 inch long pieces for each lady coming to craft night. If you don’t have a saw at home, don’t worry! Home Depot can cut your wood for you at the store. You will have to pay for the entire board though, even if you only need one-16″ piece. Keep that in mind when picking out your wood at the store.
I also picked up the stain, paint brushes and sand paper at Home Depot. Also, make sure you have the right drill bit for your drill before leaving the store. I like using the brad-point bits as they have a pointed end that helps for more precise drilling (for those of us that tend to be clumsy). I find the cheap small paintbrushes to work perfectly fine, even at $1.50 or less a piece. I do usually throw them out after I use them for a project, as I find them difficult to clean back to good working condition without losing a lot of bristles (at least with the cheap ones).
The first step is to measure out where you want your holes to be. I found that whichever flat part of the wood was where the drill bit popped out of, I got a little bit of wood chipping away. For that reason you want to make your markings on the side people will see. You’ll be starting to drill through the side you make the markings, so consider that your “good side.” You’ll be able to erase the pencil marks, so don’t worry about that!
I positioned the center of my holes 3/4 an inch in on each corner. You’ll need 4 holes total, one on each corner of the board. This is where the chording will get strung through. (See the above diagram for clarification.) To do this, I used a ruler and marked 3/4 inch in on each side of the long side of the board with pencil. I then took the straight edge of the ruler and drew a line across the board to help in positioning the holes. Using that line, I marked 3/4 inch in on the line itself on either side with an “X”. This perfectly positioned the holes 3/4 inch in coming from either side of the wood. Repeat this for the other side of the wood as well.
Now it’s time to drill! You want to drill a hole slightly bigger than your chording, but ensure that when you tie a knot at the bottom of the string, the knot will hold the chording from slipping through. My chord was 4mm in thickness and I used 1/4 inch thick drill bit. Using the spots you marked on the board, drill 4 holes through the wood going all the way through the wood each time. This is where it is important to have the right drill bit, making sure its meant to go through wood. I recommend the brad-point bit as it allows for more precision.
Once the holes are completed, use your sand paper to sand out any rough edges along the sides, in the wood itself and where you drilled the holes. If you can, do this outdoors to reduce the amount of sand dust all over your house.
Using your paint brush and stain, paint one side of the wood, ensuring you get all edges and sides as well. Don’t over stain! If you want more color, plan to do a second coat. Also, be mindful that the brush tends to splatter the stain, so wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and put down plastic if you can. Plastic drop cloth is very cheap at Home Depot and a great way to contain the mess.
While one side of your board dries, you can start working on the chording. I chose to make my board hang down about 20 inches (give or take after tying it to the hoop and tying knots at the bottom to hold it in place). You can make it shorter or longer depending on your desired look and style. Whatever approximate length you want it to hang at after accounting for the knots, double it. To do this, I cut 2 – 40 inch long strips of chord. I purchased the chord at Hobby Lobby. The type of chording you us is up to you, but you will want to ensure it’s thick and sturdy enough to hold items on the shelf.
Pictures help better in explaining the next process, so be sure to take a look at the corresponding photos. Take your two chords and match up the ends. Find the middle of the two, matched up pieces of chording, and bend the two chords together in half there creating a loop.
Pull the loop over and through the hoop, so it bends over the edge of the steel ring.
Take the four strands of the chording and pull through your loop you made. This will tie the 2 strings to the hoop and create 4 dangling strands. These are the strands that will go through the holes you created on the board. Don’t tighten the knot too much as this will allow you some wiggle room in balancing the shelf once you are ready to test it by hanging it. If you tighten it too much, don’t worry you can almost loosen it.
Wait until your stained board is dry. If you can, and for the purposes of avoiding getting stained fingers, try to wait overnight. For our craft night, we use hair dryers to help speed up the process, but the boards will still be slightly wet, so a mess is guaranteed. Once it’s dry enough to touch, you can start stringing the chording through.
Tape comes in handy, depending on your type of chording, to get the string through easily. I use a tiny bit of tape on the very tip of the chording and wrap it around to resemble the end of a shoe string. Avoid putting the tape up too high onto the chording, because sticky duct tape may be tough to pull off the string. I found it easier to just use that on the edge of the string I was willing to cut off to avoid having to try to peel off the tape later. Once all four edges of the string are taped up, it’s time to begin pulling it through and tying your knots.
Looking at the hoop, divide the chording into two – so that two pieces of chord go to each side of the board. I looked at where the string naturally hung and divvied it up that way. Push the shoe-string like tip of each chord through its respective hole. Don’t worry about length yet as this can be adjusted, but try your best to keep things even. I tied two overhand knots at the end of each chord to hold the chord in place, preventing it from slipping back through the holes. You may need to adjust this based on the size of your holes and the chording you purchased.
You want to stay consistent in how much chord you leave at the end, but some wiggle room is okay as you will be able to level the board when you hang and tighten the top knot during the leveling process. This means you should aim to tie the end of the chord using about the same amount of chording each time. I used about an inch to an inch and a half for each corner.
Once all of the knots are tied, snip off the ends of the chords and hang the shelf on a nail for the leveling. Gently push down on the board to make it level on all sides. Doing this will also tighten the top knot on the steel hoop. If you’re having trouble leveling it, loosen up the top knot on the steel hoop and try to level again. Once leveled, gently place your items for display and enjoy!
Thank you all for your continued support! In order to better serve my fellow Angelenos and keep you in the know, we’ve created a new menu item seen on the bar on the top of my website titled “LA Calendar.” We’ve been sifting through the events in the LA and the greater vicinity and adding the information to this calendar to help keep you informed.
Event organizers are also encouraged to submit their event for consideration to be added to our calendar. This form can be found under the calendar on the same page. We will do our best to review all requests and add the ones we believe are a fit for our audience.
To reach out to us regarding covering your event, please drop us a line via our contact form.