hello, i love…BarbersQ

Reggie is not into making a big deal out of holidays and he didn’t have any sort of expectation for Father’s Day, especially since he isn’t technically a father yet. I, on the other hand, tend to make a big deal out of holidays (and pretty much everything else in my life) so I wanted to take him somewhere fun to celebrate how special he is to me. Selfishly, I have been craving barbeque and knew that I wanted to take him somewhere with really kick ass barbeque. I had been stalking the menu at a barbeque spot in Napa called BarbersQ. They have great reviews and I love that they try to use as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. So when I saw that I could make a last minute reservation we headed up to wine country.

We were seated right away and the service was authentically warm and friendly from the moment we walked in the door. Immediately, I ordered some of their homemade cornbread and honey butter to start.

What arrived was some of the most delicious, moist cornbread I have had in a while. The honey butter added just the right amount of sweetness without overpowering. Yum!

Also upon seating we were informed that they were out of several of the barbeque items that I had planned on trying (brisket, ribs) so I was sort of disappointed. They did, however, have some of their special Sunday night fried chicken so Reg ordered that right away. Flustered with the lack of barbeque, I ordered the BBQ shrimp in a hurry. That is a weird choice for me but I am pregnant so unusual eating is sort of expected. Luckily, the choices we made were fantastic.

The fried chicken was juicy, crispy, and perfectly seasoned. Definitely lived up to the hype. Our server presented us with a homemade pepper vinegar to add to the chicken and it definitely enhanced the flavor, without overpowering. I highly recommend adding that if you order this dish. Reggie’s favorite ingredient on the planet is the potato and he loved the mashed potatoes. Surprisingly the gravy was a standout because it was not heavy and overly salted as most gravies tend to be. The collard greens on the side were a first for him and he seemed to really enjoy them. I loved them but then again I love anything cooked with any sort of bacon.

The BBQ shrimp were light and fresh with a hint of spice. At this point in our meal, this is where the service just kept getting better. My dish actually did not come out with the rest of the food because the chef didn’t like how they came out the first time. I appreciated that a lot because there is nothing worse than overcooked shrimp.

My favorite thing we ordered was, by far, the macaroni and cheese. See, I consider myself a sort of mac n’ cheese expert. I was a pain in the ass willful child and I pretty much only ate mac n’ cheese for the first 15 years of my life. My taste has thankfully matured but I still appreciate trying different versions. This one had the perfect amount of the creamy sauce with a hint of sharpness and a buttery crust. I could have devoured it all myself. Luckily for Reg, I shared. This is a must order friends.

I am not even going to pretend that we didn’t finish any of our plates because there was literally not a crumb of food left.Β Somehow we had room for dessert. I think that has something to do with the fact that both Reg and myself have been eating like a teenage boy lately.

In addition to craving barbeque, I have been craving Key Lime Pie. So when I saw that as an option on their dessert menu, I was sold. At least one craving was satisfied! What arrived was one of the creamiest, dreamiest lime pies I have ever tried. Topped with fresh, homemade whipped cream, I licked the plate clean. On top of it all, I was “mmmming” the whole time. I must be so embarrassing to take out in public. My husband sure loves me a lot. So I gave him the last bite.

Overall, I loved our experience here. We definitely plan on visiting again and hopefully that time I can actually try my beloved barbeque. But judging from our experience, anything you order at this restaurant is prepared with care and talent.

xo

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Pug Life

So I realize that I have only been blogging about twice a week but I have a really good excuse…promise. You want to see?




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Meet Crosby.

When Reggie and I first started dating, about 7 years ago, we both talked about how much we LOVE Pugs. When we moved into our new place, we both decided that this was the perfect time to find our pug. So for the last 6 months I have been stalking Petfinder.com for a Pug we could rescue. See, after watching this episode of Oprah, I have not been able to get the idea of rescuing a dog out of my head.

I was fortunate enough to come across Happy Ending Rescue in Los Angeles. However, Stephanie and her team do not just rescue dogs in Southern California–they also rescue internationally. In fact, our boy Crosby is from South Korea. Tragically, the practice of dog slaughtering for meat is still a major problem in South Korea.

Amongst the South Korean population that does not eat dog meat a growing segment of proactive supporters has been fighting for animal rights; fighting to bring about the long overdue realization that eating dog meat, a Korean tradition born during times of life-or-death, is now unneccesary and its continued practice is inhumane. (Happy Ending Rescue)

For more information, click here. I warn you, though, it is very graphic and disturbing.

The adoption process was a breeze and Crosby has been making us laugh nonstop for the past couple weeks. Plus he loves the camera so expect to see him making an appearance every now and then. πŸ™‚

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P.S. Apple’s next ad campaign?I can only hope πŸ˜‰

Friday Night Special

I love Fridays. Not because the weekend is near or a new movie is coming out, though I do love all of those things. Instead, my anticipation comes from the Friday night special at George’s Greek Cafe for kleftiko. According to legend, kleftiko means “stolen meat.” Historically, this dish is made with a lamb stolen from a flock, perhaps one grazing in nearby hillside. Then, the thief would cook the meat for several hours in an underground oven sealed with mud so no steam could escape and give the thief away. The result? The most tender, flavorful piece of lamb. Heaven.

George’s Greek Cafe is also a legend in itself. On a given night you can find George himself standing outside hugging guests as they enter the restaurant. Okay, the hugging is optional but I like it.

In all seriousness, the service is incredible. Everyone is smiling and happy to offer food and wine recommendations and occasionally some (free) samples. No pretention, just free wine. For example, if you want to try some wine before committing to a bottle, just tell your server what you like and they are happy to let you taste several options before deciding on a bottle.

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My husband shares my kleftiko enthusiasm so he joined me for dinner. We started our evening with a Greek favorite, Amethystos. This wine is a solid Cabernet & Merlot blend that pairs nicely with the lamb.

Reg and I were quite hungry but we knew we wanted to order a couple favorites before our lamb arrived. First up was the Melintzanosalata, a baked eggplant dip with garlic and lemon juice. The flavors are light and clean. I dare you to just try a little.

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Then, the Saganaki arrived. This is all about the presentation, baby! Saganaki is an extremeley popular appetizer here. I know this because you can literally see when someone orders it because of the “show” that comes with it. However, as great as the giant fire show is, the actual dish is even better.

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Greek Kasseri cheese is battered and lightly fried then brought to table to be flamed with Brandy and then the whole dish is finished with Kalamata Olives and fresh squeezed lemon juiced. Best served layered on that soft, doughy pita bread.

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Here it is–the famous Kleftiko. Not only is the meat spectacular (I highly recommend squeezing those lemons on the meat to intensify the flavors a bit more) but the sides are equally fantastic. The potatoes are roasted with quality olive oil, onions, and thinly sliced carrots which make the potatoes slightly sweet. George’s famous Greek salad is also served with the dish.

The combination of authentic, friendly service, affordability, and fresh healthy food makes George’s one of my favorite restaurants…period. While Friday has a special place in my heart because it is the only night you can order Kleftiko, any night you visit George’s you will not be disappointed.

xo,

Jenna

P.S. Can’t visit on a Friday? Check out their Monday night 1/2 off bottles of wine special!

Hello I Love…Starling Diner

First of all, I want to apologize for the large gap between posts. Short version of a very long story=we had to move very fast because the water in our old apartment turned out to have a toxic level of bacteria. Ew. I know. Luckily, Reg and I are both healthy and we are now living back in Long Beach.

I love Long Beach and I must say it really feels good to be home. We have moved several times over the last 7 years and Long Beach is the only place we lived for more than a year and I think we will be staying here for a long time. Naturally, my favorite part of Long Beach is the food, particularly the breakfast. For some reason, I have found that Long Beach houses some of the best breakfast restaurants and they are always crowded.


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Case in point–Starling Diner. This place usually has a wait and for good reason. You get fresh, creative dishes in a quaint cozy house turned restaurant served with a smile.

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Free coffee always makes the wait more tolerable.


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In fact, Starling takes waiting area entertainment to a whole new level with the composition notebooks that are scattered around the restaurants for people to write, share their thoughts (about food and life)… or maybe just doodle.


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I thought this entry was awesome. I loved the chain of responses between people who stumbled upon this particular notebook over what to order.


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We started with some old favorites. I missed these Cream Scones so much. They are especially good when topped with the homemade orange butter and homemade lemon curd. They only bake so many each day so it is first come first served. They are brought out immediately after ordering and are perfect to nibble on while perusing the menu.

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I chose the scramble with roasted mushrooms, spinach, and jack cheese. The roasted mushrooms’s deep flavor made this scramble really special. The roasted potatoes and fresh baguette were a great added bonus but I pushed them aside to share Reg’s breakfast.


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Yes, this would be their sourdough baguette stuffed french toast filled with Mascarpone cheese and topped with fresh whipped cream, berries, and Creme Anglaise. Unbelievable! I cannot believe I have been to this restaurant at least 20 times and never once tried the french toast. Now, I don’t think I could order anything else. This is a must try my friends.

As usual, everything was fresh and delicious. The serviced was equally spectacular. Before leaving and walking home (love that I can do that now), Reg had to grab one of the notebooks and write a little message of his own. Do you want to see?


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I guess you will just have to visit Starling Diner yourself to find it! πŸ˜‰

xo,

Jenna

I Heart Vintage

Good morning friends!

I uploaded so many new items to my store last night. I have been experimenting with expanding the store and when I found these vintage cabochons, I knew exactly what I wanted to create and I could not be happier with the results. But the best part? Everything is under $20.00! Check it out…


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Make You Feel My Love

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All My Loving–Blush Pink

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Going to California

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All My Loving–Purple

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Mary Jane’s Last Dance

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All My Loving–Mustard Yellow

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All My Loving–Red & White

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Me & Bobby McGee

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Oh Very Young

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All My Loving–Eggplant

What do you think of the new additions to Hello, I Love You?


xo,


Jenna

Hello…I Love Bob Dylan

I have always said that I was born in the wrong generation. As you can see from my jewelry, I am huge fan of music, particularly that of the 1960s and 1970s. Bob Dylan is easily one of my favorites. I love the way he combines rock, blues, and folk music to create powerful music with inspiring lyrics. In fact, I think Bill Clinton said it best when he discussed Dylan’s impact on music:

“He probably had more impact on people of my generation than any other creative artist. His voice and lyrics haven’t always been easy on the ear, but throughout his career Bob Dylan has never aimed to please. He’s disturbed the peace and discomforted the powerful.”

Here are a few of my recent designs inspired by Dylan’s legacy…


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Blowin’ in the Wind

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The Times They Are A-Changin’

I really love both of these pieces so much. In fact, I am wearing a pair of the Blowin’ in the Wind earrings (in pink) to a wedding this weekend. I consider them a little present to myself for my birthday, which is tomorrow! We are going to Pizzeria Mozza for dinner and then I am heading to Lake Tahoe for a very special wedding weekend. It is going to be a great time and I will definitely be sharing pictures when I return. πŸ™‚

Have a beautiful day!
xo,
Jenna

Busy Bee

Hello! I am sorry I took such a big break in blogging! I have been busy working on some jewelry for a wedding that takes place next weekend. Very exciting!

You want to see what they look like?





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I am really in love with the way they came out. That stone in the center is Aventurine, which is supposed to bring good luck. Legend has it that aventurine is a healing stone, improving imagination, increasing confidence, and reducing stress. Plus it is preeeeeeeetty.

However, because I have been so busy, I have not been coming up with as many original recipes. Instead, I have been relying on the Epicurious App for my iPad.

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In no way is this a paid advertisement for them but this app IS freakin’ fantastic. There are thousands of recipes with brilliant photos. Plus, there is a great feature where you can enter the ingredients you have on hand and then a list of potential recipes is generated.

Last weekend, when I had to make a dessert for a 4th of July party, I just wanted to make something quick. I really wanted to incorporate fruit because of the season and because I happened to purchase my body weight in nectarines at Trader Joe’s. Usually I don’t love their produce but these nectarines were actually quite good. They gave the cake the perfect sweetness and also came in a huge box. So really, no matter what I was making that day Nectarines were going to be included. Trying not to waste food here!

After a quick search I decided a  Nectarine Golden Cake would be perfect.

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I bought some vanilla during my last trip to Fremont Diner in Sonoma. I thought this was as a good a time as any to open it. Delicious.

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This cake was so delicious and EASY. I did make one adjustment, though, in that I used cinnamon instead of nutmeg for the topping because I did not have any on hand. The cake still tasted great. In fact, this cake tasted very similar to the Butter Cake from Mastro’s . Have you ever had it? It is probably my favorite dessert of all time. What can I say? I love butter.

Honestly, I think the best part of this recipe is it’s versatility. You could add berries, peaches, plums, apples, bananas (and chocolate chips) and this would have been fabulous. I highly recommend this if you need a quick dessert. Fresh whipped cream would take it over the top. Just sayin’… πŸ˜‰

xo,


Jenna