Easter Breakfast Bunny Butts

easter_bunny_buttsIf you want a really simple and adorable Easter breakfast recipe, may I recommend bunny butts. No matter what the age, I promise you’ll get a smile or two. And how easy?! We’re talking your basic pancake, some fruits and viola! Bunny butts!

What you’ll need for bunny butts:

6 pancakes (2 circles for head and bum, 4 for ears and feet)
Banana slices, or strawberries, for heel prints
blueberries for toes
Whipped cream for fluffy tail

One recommendation for the perfect bunny butt, make sure to create your whipped bunny tail last, right before serving. The hot pancakes will melt your cute little tail off so make sure your plate is ready to be served!

Hoppy Easter from my table to yours!

 

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Making the Most of Maui, Hawaii

Californ-ia_Maui_Hawaii
Although we visited three islands during our much needed-Hawaiian holiday, I can easily tell you that Maui was everyone’s favorite part of the vacation. With so much to do, whether you wanted to relax or hit the scenes, Maui offered something for everyone regardless of age, mood or interest.

When it comes to travel, I take pre-planning very seriously. I plan so I don’t have to lift a finger or think critically once my plane touches down at its destination. So, for all of my fellow planners out here, here are my helpful tips and recommendations for everything Maui, Hawaii.

1) Stay Where you Want to Stay

Of course you can visit Maui on a dime, well multiple dimes, but you know what I mean. But, when you envision your Hawaiian vacation, something tells me you’re not imagining Motel 6. If you’re like me, you want ocean view luxury, peace and 18 different spa tubs with a swim up bar.

My biggest recommendation, stay at the dream resort of your choosing but at half the cost. Services like VRBO can get you the same room and amenities (yes, the same!) as a hotel but at a fraction of the cost. We stayed in a three bedroom penthouse at a leading Kaanapali resort for almost 30% less than we would have if we booked through the hotel directly or a major online booking service.

Californ-ia_Maui_Hawaii_Resort

2) Rent a Jeep

Sure, it’s a little bit more expensive but it’s so worth it. We took the top off and cruised the island in the warm ocean air. Just make sure to look up your personables. Hawaiians are super friendly, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still protect yourself.

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2) Drive More Than the Road to Hana

Almost everyone will tell you to drive the Road to Hana, and you should. But, the Road to Hana only covers about a 6th of what Maui has to offer.

In one day, and it’s very doable in one day, Kevin and I drive the jeep the full way around the island. Now, everyone will tell you how unsafe this is but having done it, I will tell you it’s very doable. It is paved. It is safe. Just know that it isn’t always two lanes and you do need to be respectful of drivers opposite of you. That said, don’t be the guy making this trip in a mini van or full-size SUV—the locals will not be happy with you. Also note, you are driving these unadvised roads at your own risk—they are not covered by all rental companies.

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3) Taste Maui Wine

A nice little drive out of the resort towns and you can find yourself at Maui Winery. They offer two tours a day and tastings from open to close. You can enjoy three sample tastings, including their famous pineapple wines, and shop their gift shop. I personally found their wine much too sweet for my pallet but it was certainly worth visiting.

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4) See the Nakalele Blow Hole

It’s not everyday that you get to see a blowhole, especially one with such beautiful surroundings. The blowhole itself is very neat, but the drive to and past along with the easy hike down to the actual blowhole were one of my favorite parts of the trip. The north-eastern area of Maui is absolutely stunning and I highly recommend making it a part of your vacation.

Californ-ia.Hawaii_blowhole

5) Visit a Plantation

Hawaii is home to many different types of agriculture, including bananas, coffee, coconuts, star fruit, macadamias and most importantly, pineapple! We visited a plantation that offered a bit of everything, enjoyed demonstrations and a tasting at the end. Some of Hawaii’s main resources are the fruits that it sews so make sure to stop by a plantation for a literal taste of it!

Californ-ia_Maui_Hawaii_Pinneapple

6) Snorkel

I love snorkeling and Maui offers some very unique landscapes and wildlife for you to witness. We joined The Blank of Maui, a large boat that included equipment, breakfast and lunch, and yes, BEER & MAI TAIS, for our snorkeling outing. We saw fish of all shapes and sixes and my brother was even lucky enough to see, very close I may add, a green sea turtle. And the whales, oh my goodness did we see whales, on our trip. The whole experience was just completely worth it.

Californ-ia_Hawaii_snorkel

7) Luau

Although our Luau wasn’t all it had been hopped up to be, I’m going to stay positive and tell you that you should still see a luau when in Hawaii. When in Rome, right? If you want the luau experience you’re probably imagining, you’re going to have to pay extra. I was between three different luaus and decided on the one that promoted drunks, fire dancing and an all-you-can-eat buffet. If doing it differently, I would recommend sticking to Luaus that boast authenticity and plated meals. Also, splurge on the flower lei. An extra $30 a person seems expensive, but it’s one of the big things you expect and hope for when in Hawaii.

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8) Food Trucks. Period.

Neither Kevin and I were impressed with the fair we had during our Hawaii trip. The best food we had throughout the duration was from food trucks. In fact, I cam back to California only wanting food truck food, boycotting everything else. Some of the trucks may look a little rough, but trust me, when that plate of complete fresh and amazingness comes out, you’ll be glad you stopped there over the 4 star restaurant you were considering.

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9) Eat Banana Bread and Coconut Everything

Some blogs will tell you where in Hawaii you can find the best banana bread. I am hear to tell you that is false. Everyone claims to have the best banana bread. Even our cab driver was selling his version of the best banana bread. It doesn’t matter where you get it, just do it. It’ll be amazing.

As far as the coconuts go, try a little bit of all of it. The milk, the flesh, this amazing toasted candy concoction you’ll see at farmers markets. So good!

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10) Whale Watch

If you don’t have a chance to go snorkeling or have watched Soul Surfer one too many times (enter JAWS theme song) you absolutely MUST go whale watching. I’ve been whale watching before in California, super romantic surprise from Kevin, but it just doesn’t hold a candle to the amount of humpback whale activity you’ll be able to see in Maui. the experience is almost spiritual and something you’ll never forget.

Amanda Schremser Kevin Seele Hawaii copy

OK. So maybe I didn’t get any amazing pictures of whales–I was too immersed with the experience to care about my camera. But what can I say, I love this photo! 🙂

Are there other items aside from my top ten you’d recommend in Maui? I’d love to hear it and make sure to tackle it on my next return…which is hopefully sooner than later!

Looking Back on an Amazing 2015

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Finally having my first breather in 2016, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on an amazing year in my life. 2015 brought so many opportunities and changes and I feel nothing but blessed to have shared these experiences with the people I love with my entire heart. Here’s a look back at an amazing year.

 

San Diego HomeWe moved! And not just any move, we made THEE move. Kevin and I decided that if we’re going to be working our tails off, we might as well be working our tails off right on the water. Why not have our morning cup of coffee with a view. When in San Diego! We love our home and that is exactly what it is, Our FIRST home together!

 

IMG_2764I turned 30. This number might scare some women, but I am honored and blessed to be 30. I’ve had more than my share of obstacles and heart-break to get here, but you know what, I’m here. I might not be exactly where I thought I’d be but I’m exactly where I need to be and, above all, I’m happy. Cheers to being 30 and fabulous!

 

IMG_3126Kevin’s company, Block Risers, launched. Not only did his company get started, but he, alongside Sven Anders Alwerud at Jelly Skateboards, completed a successful crowdfunding campaign that generated over $102,000! I am so ridiculously proud of Kevin and his team. 2015 was only the start of this amazing venture!

 

IMG_4695I started a new job! I joined Jacob Tyler creative group as Senior Brand Manager in July and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I cannot believe how fast the last seven months have gone and the projects I’ve been able to be a part of. This is the career I’ve been working towards and I couldn’t think of a better agency to grow with. We’re going to see big things in 2016!

 

IMG_4514My family experienced Lambeau Field. We’ve always been Green Bay fans, and my sweet heart almost sister-in-law planned the perfect birthday present for my brother–a surprise Packers VS Seahawks game with friends and family in tow! We drank, we cheered, we won and I got to see my brother with the biggest smile ever when we walked through that door to surprise him!

 

IMG_3758Amanda Mac Studio celebrated its one year anniversary! Whoa! If you would have asked me a few years ago if I would have my own business I would have giggled you out the door. This is a major accomplishment for me and I love seeing how my little etsy shop has grown. I love my customers (well, most of them) and the inspiration and creativity the community brings. Look for my new item “Mac Stacks” summer of 2016!

 

IMG_5936The Iowa Hawkeyes made it to the Rose Bowl! For Christmas, Kevin bought me six tickets to Pasadena, a bowl game the Hawks haven’t seen in over 25 years. It was an experience of a lifetime and that’s how I’ll always remember it! If you want the score, you’ll have to ask someone else, I’ve already misplaced it! 🙂

Falling in Love with Chalk Paint

Chalk Paint Dresser

I’ve wanted to paint something with chalk paint about as long as I’ve had this dresser–a very long time. I constantly see on Pinterest and other DIY type sites, darling little accent pieces with shabby chic flare.

Refinishing furniture, or at least the intention to refinish furniture, is something I’ve always been passionate about. I’m always looking for the perfect furniture find, even if I have no place for it–and living in our little beach condo, we certainly have no place for it. I’m an advocate when it comes to making an original new again, whether it be an old steamer truck, a brick colonial or my buffet pictured here. I’ll take the time to give the real deal a little love any day over something in a box from Ikea.

So back to chalk paint. Oh my goodness I’m in love. White Chalk PaintOne pint of Annie Sloans, clear wax and a few new pieces of hardware and I had a brand new dresser. All in, dresser included, I spent about $125 on this little DIY weekend project. Oh, and the best part, you don’t even have to sand anything. That’s right, and I repeat, no sanding necessary!

There are so many different ways to skin a cat when it comes to chalk paint and wax. Every instruction I read/watched was slightly different from one another. I am confident your results will be perfect which ever you choose to follow. Both My Passion For Decor and The Thinking Closet do a great job if you’re looking for some application tips!

I was between White and Provence (I need to keep my beachy cottage look going after all) but here were the beautiful pieces that helped give me my inspiration. Certainly feel free to share your chalk paint projects and inspiration. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I’m on the hunt for a new furniture piece!

Chalk Paint Dresser Inspiration

 

Left to Right:  Lily Pad Cottage  |  Antique Restoration  |  The Painted Drawer

The Simple Girl’s Pho

Simple to make pho

The first time I was told we were going out for pho (pronounced fuh) I cringed. The idea of going out on the town and actually paying someone for soup is not exactly my idea of a date night. Flash-forward two hours into the date later… I’m officially obsessed with pho.

It’s wonderful, and wonderful for you. It’s warm, flavorful, tangy and I love the whole idea of adding whatever-the-heck you want to it. Want some bean sprouts? Sure! Need some jalapeños? Toss em in. Totally hooked on pho.

Naturally, what Amanda likes, Amanda likes to re-create. I perused my local Vietnamese market and purchased everything I needed to start my own at-home pho. Well… I purchased everything with a picture on it that looked like something I would need for pho.

One word of note before we begin. This is easy girl’s pho. I quickly learned, after I had purchased my ingredients (minus the oxtail bone) that the pho broth alone can take days to create. This recipe will not take you days, it will take you a crock-pot and a few hours—you can read a good book and tip a few wine glasses back while the slow cooker does the work for you!

Ingredients

Broth
5-6 Beef Bones (I seriously used sirloin bones from the night before—the more meat hunks hanging off them the better
1 Large Onion (chopped)
1 Hunk Fresh Ginger (peeled and chopped)
4 Cups Beef Broth
2 Cups Water
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
1 Stick of Cinnamon
1 tsp Pepper
3 Star of Anise (the little star looking things that come in popery…but don’t use popery)

Toppings
Raw Beef – shaved very thin
1-2 lb Rice Noodles/Rice Sticks

Optional (but recommended!) Toppings
Bean Sprouts
Jalapenos
Basil
Cilantro
Mint Leaves
Limes

Instructions

Combine broth, water, fish sauce, bones and all spices into your crockpot.

On a non-stick baking sheet, oven-broil your diced onions and ginger for about 5 minutes. You’ll want the onions and ginger to be slightly charred but not crispy burnt. Transfer onions and ginger to your crockpot.

Cook on low crock-pot setting for 4-6 hours. Longer if you have the time!

When your broth is ready, you will want to strain it of all solid bits before it comes time to serve. You can use or strainer or a slotted spoon to discard the pieces. If a strainer is used, just make sure to transfer your broth back to the crock-pot when complete—you want to keep your broth hot!

Cook your rice noodles until al dente. Drain and divide among your serving bowls.

To prepare your pho bowls, place your thin slices of beef and cooked noodles into your individual bowls. Ladle the hot broth over top over your beef slices and noodles. The hot broth should cook your meat within moments, turning the meat an grayish opaque color. If some pieces stay slightly pink, do not be alarmed, those are just medium rare-medium pieces but completely safe to consume.

Serve your pho bowls to your guests and let them have fun with all of the toppings you’ve arranged for them on the table.

Makes 4 servings

Enjoy!

Note: When slicing your beef thin, if you have trouble doing so, try flash freezing it for a few moments before you cut it. This will help keep it stiff and easier to cut into thin strips!

My Little Hand-Painted Globe

Hand Painted Globe
Little hand-painted globes have been popping up everywhere you look. Pinterest. Etsy. Antropologie. And for good reason… they’re adorable!

I purchased a (rather hideous) orange globe from Home Goods ($25) about six months ago with the intent to turn it into something creative of my own. Finally, a weekend to myself, I broke out the paint brushes (and the globe that I had been storing in the trunk of my car) and got to work.

Before and after hand-painted globe

What you need:

A globe (I recommend Home Goods, TJ Maxx or Ebay)
Your favorite acrylic paints
Paint brushes
A black sharpie (optional for outlining)

All in the project ran me about $35 and a good morning’s worth of time. For inspiration, I looked up “hand painted globes” on Pinterest to better visualize the style I was after. After I was done painting the globe, I added a little custom personalization and added little outlined hearts to all of the places Kevin and I have traveled to. I cannot wait to keep updating our little diy world!

Globes that inspired me:
Inspiring hand-painted globe

Product Hoar-der

Hotel Toiletries
Last year was a very proud year for this girl. I accomplished many goals, the biggest being the large amount of debt I was able to successfully tackle. I scrimped. I saved. I paid down every bill and loan that I had amassed in my name (all accept my student loans which you should all know by now I consider another limb VS actual debt.)

Since last year was my pay-off-debt year, my dream for 2015 was to start cushioning my bank account. After all, I have very tenacious investing goals and the only way to make money is to spend money. In order to spend money, well… I need money to begin with.

So I started to think of ways I could save. Yes, I could do the obvious and buy fewer shoes and (cringe) eat more meals from a box, but what other creative changes could I make that wouldn’t affect my waistline and my dignity?

Then it occurred to me. There was one (possibly brilliant or completely asinine) daily routine that I could change and implement instantly that could save me possible hundreds in the course of a year. And so I began my experiment… that has nothing to do with giving up Starbucks.

You, reader, are either one of two people. You are:

A. The type of individual who travels and takes your own toiletries, occasionally using the accommodation’s provided hygiene goods.

B. The person who shoves every type of freebie they can get their hands on into their carryon. After all, the maid cart is free game.

I, oddly enough, am the latter of the two travelers. If it’s in a plastic bag or bottle, I will hoard it like an underprivileged raccoon. Over the course of two years, traveling like I do, I have managed to amass enough shampoo, conditioner and body wash to replace an Ulta’s inventory. Or, if you are looking for a more realistic/visual representation, an entire three-drawer Rubbermaid. Still a tenacious feat for this traveling klepto.

Since January 1, 2015, I, Amanda Jane, have been lathering, rinsing, scrubbing, picking, and brushing myself clean FOR FREE from the help of Radissons, Marriotts, Hiltons and Wyndhams all over the continental US. I have not purchased a single shampoo, conditioner, soap or lotion in over six months and I’m still going strong.

With that said, just because I’m going strong, doesn’t mean my hair is. This experiment has truly been the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Some of the finer hotels, for example the Wynn in Las Vegas, will provide you with the very same brands and quality you’re already using on a regular basis. On the other hand, the Silver Creek Inn, in Granby, Colorado (you know, the one with the murphy bed with plaid sheets) might as well be one step up from Dawn dish soap.

So if you’re looking to save some extra coin this year and your hair doesn’t mind Schizophrenic dry spells from time to time, I highly recommend taking advantage of the “Hotel Free Sample” giveaways. It’s a great way to save some money, try some new product and provide you with snappy blog content when you obviously have nothing more fascinating to write about.

 

P.S. For all of you friends and family out there planning to visit me this year…do not worry. You will have your choice of either hotel provided product or the conventionally purchased, overly-priced but amazing bath items we’re all very fond of and used to.