Duct Tape Crafts for Summertime

My daughter discovered duct tape in the 4th grade. Her classmates introduced her to these wonderfully, colored tapes, which at first, she wasn’t too sure what to do with.  She came home from school one day and declared that we had to go to Michael’s or Target to get these colorful tapes to “make things out of”.  Now, let me start by saying that we are a pretty crafty family, and I love to frequent Michael’s and JoAnn’s for all of my scrapbooking needs.  However, I had not yet heard of these tapes, (aside from the usual black duct tape) and had no idea what she was talking about, so I put the request on the back burner.  After all, there was always a new fad in town…Webkinz, Littlest Pets, Silly Bandz, Perler beads, etc…

DuctTape3A few weeks later, while shopping at Target, she sees the tapes.  Back then, they were only available in solid bright colors like hot pink, aqua blue, lime green and so forth.  Of course, she wanted all of them, but at $5.99 a pop, I decided to only go with one and see how long the fad would last.  She started experimenting with the tape by making small, simple things like bookmarks, until she realized the girls  in her school were learning how to make some pretty elaborate wallets (and of course, in multiple colors).  I waited a bit to see how intense this new fad would become before I decided to purchase a few more colors.  Pretty soon my daughter was teaching herself how to make wallets, phone cases, pencil pouches, hair bows, bracelets, well, just about anything she could teach herself from internet tutorials!  And of course, she started customizing the items as well.  As with all fads, duct tape started coming out with all sorts of patterns, even holiday ones.

DuctTape1Fast forward a few years, and my daughter started selling her items at the school craft sale (all proceeds went to charity), where she was getting requests on a daily basis!  Needless to say, the fascination has died down a bit, as now she’s in 7th grade.  However, every once in a while, when she’s in her crafting mood, she will take out her tapes and think of new ways to craft with them.  Last year, she covered her school laptop bag with the tapes, and she still finds ways of decorating with them.  Well, at least I’m glad this fad lasted more than a few months…

Some of my daughter's creations!

Some of my daughter’s creations!

You can find many duct tape ideas on the internet and on the duct tape brand website. Here are some additional links to some other fun duct tape crafts your kids might enjoy…

Christmas Decorations Photo Courtesy of Joann Fabrics

Christmas Decorations
Photo Courtesy of Joann Fabrics

Flower Pens Photo Courtesy of Seven Sisters

Luggage Tags Photo Courtesy of Qreative Quail

Waterproof Beach Bag Photo Courtesy of

Waterproof Beach Bag
Photo Courtesy of Spoonful.com

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Keurig and Snapple…A Perfect Combination

Ready for some refreshing drinks on this Memorial Day?  Take a look at what I found! A few months ago, I finally caved in and purchased a Keurig coffee maker.  This is one of the best purchases I have ever made for my kitchen, it’s so easy to use, I love it.  Since I’m the only coffee drinker in my house, I was getting tired of wasting a whole pot of coffee, every time I wanted a cup. I love brewing the different Starbucks coffees and the Swiss-Miss hot chocolate too.  Iced coffee though…that’s never really been my thing, I like my coffee drinks hot.  But recently, I came across a cool new concept, Brew Over Ice K-Cup packs (where else…at Target of course). Now I can also prepare cool iced drinks with my Keurig, perfect for living in this Miami heat.

My favorite Brew Over Ice K-Cups are the Snapple Iced Teas, which come in lemon, peach and raspberry flavors. I’ve also tried the Celestial Seasonings Half and Half (Arnold Palmer) and the Green Mountain Naturals Lemonade, which are both pretty good also.

These drinks are just as easy to make as the coffees.  You just fill your cup to the top with ice and place the Brew Over Ice K-Cup into the brewer. Press the brew button, stir and enjoy your drink! It’s so easy, even a child can make these…which reminds me, I think it’s time for me to teach my daughter how to use the Keurig brewer…

Photos courtesy of BrewOverIce.com

Marvelous Marbella

Costa del Sol…just the name makes you want to hop on a plane and go there! I’ve had the opportunity to visit Spain several times, even lived in Madrid for a short while when I was very young. However, I had never truly ventured into the Costa del Sol. My husband and I have visited Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada and Nerja, but we had never stayed at any of the beach towns in Andalucía before.  This past summer we finally decided to visit Marbella, and we were not disappointed!

Old Town

Old Town

Marbella is typically associated with millionaire beach mansions, crowded beaches and celebrity sightings. My Marbella experience was quite different…a maze of typically Andalusian streets with palatial facades, intricate wrought-iron balconies and a series of shrines and chapels, especially the old town (Casco Antiguo). Marbella’s old white washed streets and cobbled squares are among the most beautiful on Spain’s Costa del Sol. You can spend hours just wandering through the little pedestrian streets, full of boutique shops, cafes, and gorgeous buildings with balconies full of beautiful, colorful potted plants. It’s definitely an area suited for long strolls, and as always, do not forget your camera!

We stayed at the Marriott Marbella Beach Resort, and I highly recommend this hotel, especially if you’re traveling with kids. The rooms are spacious, clean and comfortable, we actually had a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment, with a large balcony.  The outdoor area is beautiful, with several restaurants, and a very large pool with slides.  Our daughter made several friends during our stay, and we all enjoyed all of the amenities throughout the property. The resort is about a 15 minute drive into the old town, but we had a rental car and there are various parking garages in town.  The resort also provides a shuttle into the old town various times a day.

Marriott Marbella Beach Resort

Marriott Marbella Beach Resort

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Buttered pasta for Carolina, pan-fried codfish with potatoes, calamata olives, cherry tomatoes, and white wine for hubby and risotto with stracchino for me!

At the heart of the old town is Plaza de los Naranjos, very picturesque, and full of shops and restaurants.  We got caught up in the liveliness of the plaza and decided to have dinner there one night.  Big mistake…as with most main squares in these towns, the food was not great, and the service even worse.  Marbella does have a great selection of diverse amazing restaurants, but make sure you do your research, and stay away from all the tourist traps. The cosmopolitan nature of Marbella means you will encounter people from all parts of the world. Dinner at Stuzzikini, a little Italian restaurant, was amazing with great food and very friendly owners. They actually came by our table and chatted with us, telling us all about their family business! We also had another great meal at Tempora Restaurante, right around the corner.

Stuzzikini Cocina Italiana

Stuzzikini Cocina Italiana

In Marbella, as with most European cities we have visited, residents praise the quality of life.  One afternoon, I was shopping in a little jewelry store with my daughter, just as the famous “siesta” was about to start.  The store owner was practically rushing me, because he had to close up for his 4 hour rest, and then proceeded to tell me that Europeans were not like Americans in that they work to live, not live to work (not the first time I  have been told this in Europe). I realized at that moment, that these are some of the reasons why we travel abroad.  We like to experience the differences in cultures, and in Spain, that includes getting your shopping done in the morning, as they will close the town down between the hours of 1-5PM! So, we happily headed back to our hotel and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon by the gorgeous pool area. Later that evening we returned to town for some more strolling and dinner.

While staying in Marbella, it is also very easy to take day trips to the other nearby towns of Torremolinos, Mijas, Fuengirola, Benalmádena, Puerto Banús, and of course, Málaga, which has the nearest international airport.

Here are some more pictures of our Marbella trip.  Have you been to Marbella?  I’d love to hear what you enjoyed most…

Tiled bench at Parque de la Alameda

Tiled bench at Parque de la Alameda

Typical street in the old town

Typical street in the old town

Typical square in the center of old town, with the beautiful Iglesia de la Encarnación in the background

Square in the center of the old town, with the beautiful Iglesia de la Encarnación in the background

Typical souvenir shops selling Sevillana dolls and cermaics

Souvenir shops selling Sevillana dolls and ceramics

Ermita del Santo Cristo de la Vera Cruz

Ermita del Santo Cristo de la Vera Cruz

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Sevillana dresses hanging from the balconies on Plaza de los Naranjos

Beautiful potted flowers

More beautiful balconies

Dinner at Plaza de los Naranjos

Dinner at Plaza de los Naranjos

A street named after me...

A street named after me…

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes

Now that summer is around the corner and many of us are starting to plan our vacations or just hanging out at our favorite beach, lake, pool, etc., it’s time for some good summer reading.  I love to read and when I find a good book, I just can’t put it down until I’ve finished it. When I was much younger, I read many of the Flowers in the Attic series by V.C. Andrews. Years later, I became obsessed with the mysteries of Mary Higgins Clark, and I read many of her novels as well.

In the past few years, I’ve read many more books, and I will be featuring some of my favorites in the weeks to come.

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain (click here for synopsis)
Let me start by saying that I love all of the books by Diane Chamberlain and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her at several book signings, as she lives in Raleigh, NC, where I used to live a few years ago.  Her books always have a mystery to them, and they really keep you guessing.  This is the first of her books that I read a few summers ago, and I think I finished it in two lazy beach days!  It is my favorite of all her books and it pretty much got me hooked on this author.  Without giving much away, I’ll just say, go buy a copy, or download it to your e-reader, grab a towel, some suntan lotion, shades, a cold drink, and enjoy a great afternoon read!

TheSecretLife-thumb1

Photo Courtesy of Diane Chamberlain Books

 

I Mustache You a Question…

Carolina & I at a school event last year!

Carolina & I with mustache props at a school event last year!

It seems that lately, everywhere we look we see mustaches!  On cards, websites, logos, cupcakes, photo props, jewelry… But where did this bizarre trend come from?  All you have to do is search for “mustache” on my beloved Etsy, and you’ll find over 54,000 results!  Well, it’s been rumored that the fake mustache fad originated with hipsters as a way to mock conventional ideals of fashion and style.

Photo Courtesy of PETA

Photo Courtesy of PETA

It’s also believed that PETA started the whole mustache craze with their campaign “Grow Your Own Fur” back in 2010. PETA posted a picture of a rabbit wearing a fake mustache with “You can help stop the killing of animals for their fur by growing your own fur” as the slogan for the campaign.

It doesn’t really matter where this originated from…the fact is that everyone is going crazy for mustaches!  The craze started off slow, but gained momentum by late 2011 with Movember,(mustache+November) a campaign in which men grow mustaches throughout the month of November to help gain awareness to men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer and other male cancers. Women decided to support the Movember movement, by also sporting fake mustaches throughout the month.

ConneryMustaches have also become a subject of humor. There’s even a picture of Sean Connery that’s been re-posted lots of times over the internet where the heading says, “I mustache you a question but I’m shaving it for later”.  There is also a Fake Mustache Day celebrated on February 24, (the international celebration is held on February 3). So, even if you’re not into the whole false ‘stache thing, (and I know many of you aren’t) give it a try on Mustache Day, you might actually have some fun!

 

Will the mustache fade out soon? And what will replace it?
Let me know what you think?

Hello Kitty Sweet Tin

Hello Kitty Sweet Tin Photo courtesy of Neatoshop.com

Mustache Themed Baby Shower Photo Courtesy of OwliePowlie.com

Mustache Themed Baby Shower
Photo Courtesy of OwliePowlie.com

Mustache Necklace Photo Courtesy of Etsy

Mustache Necklaces
Photo Courtesy of Etsy

 

Mustache Themed Manicure Photo Courtesy of weheartit.com

Stash it away wall hooks Photo Courtesy of Kirklands.com

Stash it away wall hooks
Photo Courtesy of Kirklands.com

 

Pan Con Mantequilla

So it seems that now I’m finding tapas restaurants everywhere…you know what they say, when it rains it pours.  Recently, we came across Bread+Butter Counter… a “Cuban Gastropub”, in Coral Gables. In Miami, good Cuban food isn’t very hard to find, with historic restaurants such as La Carreta, Versailles and Sergio’s, as well as, hundreds of smaller mom and pop places, all featured in travel books. (This by the way, was one of the main things hubby and I missed when we lived in Raleigh, no Cuban restaurants around, and most locals would refer us to the nearest Taco Bell, yes you heard it folks, Taco Bell!)

Media Noche Croquetas & Pan Con Tomate

Media Noche Croquetas & Pan Con Tomate

At B+B, owner and chef Alberto Cabrera offers a creative menu using Cuban staples with a twist, to serve up innovative dishes. In addition to a complete list of tapas style remakes of Cuban traditional plates to share, there’s also medium-sized rice dishes and a few larger plates, including the Pollo Asado, which is my husband’s favorite!  I went for the Media Noche Croquetas served with aioli and soda crackers, and Pan Con Tomate, both very good.

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Platano en Tentacion

However, the dish we most enjoyed was the Platano en Tentacion…bacon-wrapped plantains, served with five-spice almibar and topped with sour cream, and chives…in one word, divine!

I also really liked the decor of this place, resembling an old-time diner or counter restaurant. The first thing I noticed when we sat down, were the tin can water cups on the table, very similar to the ones my sisters tell me we used in Cuba when we were little.  There are also many beautiful, vintage black-and-white images of the old Cuba my parents are always reminiscing about.  I must warn you though, as with many places in the Gables, parking for this place is tough, so if you’re trying to make your reservation, give yourself enough time to find a spot.

Tin water cups

Tin water cups

Once again, we didn’t make room for dessert. However, there were a few that caught our eye for our next visit, such as the Flan de Queso de Cabra (a goat cheese flan) and the Torrejas, a traditional dish similar to Cuban “French Toast”, served with guava maple syrup and cream cheese ice-cream.  I’m not sure they’ll be as incredible as my Abuela’s torrejas were, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon!

Bread + Butter Counter
2330 Salzedo Street
Coral Gables
http://www.breadandbuttercounter.com