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  1. Tuesday, April 15

    I’m in love with Los Angeles and I don’t care who knows it!

    We decided to be fun people for Spring Break. It’s a lot of work being fun people, by the way, especially when one of the fun people comes down with croup the first night of Spring Break (we’re looking at you, Owen). But in the end it all worked out and the week was a blast! First we headed to Los Angeles for a few days and then skipped on down to Anaheim for some theme park fun. I’m going to share two posts about the trip and today we’re starting with LA!

    hollywood sign from griffith observatory by @janemaynard

    Here’s the deal with Los Angeles. The only times we’ve ever gone up there have been for quick day trips for a specific reason – going to an event and then heading home – or driving through to go somewhere else. So, whenever we go, we’re on a schedule and all we think is, “How does anyone live with all this traffic?” and “Why would anyone want to live in a city essentially just made of traffic?” and “Holy Freeways, there’s a lot of traffic.” I was soooo biased. I have uttered the words “I hate LA” more times than I care to admit. I totally did not know what I was talking about.

    LA is AWESOME. There, I said it. I am in love with Los Angeles. It’s quirky and huge and fun and there is so much to do. Seriously, we had a blast and can’t wait to go back! Granted, we {amazingly} didn’t sit in any traffic the whole trip, but LA is truly a city filled with all kinds of wonderful gems, especially edible gems. Here’s a quick rundown of where we stayed, the fun stuff we did, and the food we ate, in case you find yourself visiting the City of Angels! (Thanks to those who gave tips, they were super helpful and we definitely need to venture back to do it all!)

    hotel angeleno by @janemaynard

    Where We Stayed: Hotel Angeleno
    We stayed in a suite at Hotel Angeleno, located on the 405 smack dab in between Bel Air and Santa Monica, sitting in the shadow of the Getty. Our room looked to the southwest, so we had a peek of the freeway and the skyline and a full view of the ocean and the Getty. It was beautiful. The hotel has shuttles to nearby sites, a pool, and free wine at 5:30 every afternoon. There is also a restaurant on the top floor with amazing views. The building is round, which was fun and made for an interesting-shaped room, and the rooms were very nice. The location of the hotel was super convenient, with easy access to so many of the great things that LA has to offer. Oh, and free parking! Woohoo!

    hotel angeleno morning view of the getty by @janemaynardThe Getty is at the top of the hill. This is what we woke up to, with the golden sun shining on everything.

    hotel angeleno view from the room by @janemaynardThe only thing we lost off the balcony was Owen’s binky. Fortunately we were over the pool area and the binky was recoverable. Also, it didn’t kill anyone below. Win-win.

    Fun Stuff We Did

    • Griffith Observatory and the Travel Town Museum at Griffith Park. If you have kids interested in trains, Travel Town is a must! Owen was in heaven. On Sundays they also have live steamers that you can ride on. We got there too late to ride the steamers, but we did get to see them scoot by, and there is still a train ride in the regular Travel Town museum area even if you miss the steamers. We ended up simply driving by the Griffith Observatory – the kids were pooped and since it was the weekend there were mobs of people, but the view is AMAZING and we plan to go back with the kids on a less-busy day for a show at the planetarium (if you have people under 5, you have to make sure to get there for the first show of the day).

    travel town museum at griffith park by @janemaynard

    travel town museum at griffith park by @janemaynard

    • La Brea Tar Pits. The tar pits were fascinating and the kids had a great time at this small and accessible museum. Plus, seriously, the tar pits are just plain cool. Note that you can walk around the park and see the actual tar pits without paying admission to the museum, but you’ll learn more if you go to the museum and it is very interesting. We bought an annual family pass, which also gives us access to the LA Natural History Museum, which we will definitely be visiting.
    • The American Girl Store. Our girls got American Girl dolls for Christmas, so we surprised them with a visit to the store. We thought about eating at the cafe but it was very pricey, so we decided to let the girls each choose one thing in the store and get their dolls’ hair done instead. We just didn’t tell them about the cafe and they were in heaven. We probably spent an hour in the store!

    the la american girl store by @janemaynard

    • The Getty Museum. We just spent a couple hours at the museum but it was beautiful. We went to the Getty near the end of our trip, so the kids were feeling a bit restless. But I am really glad we took them and I’m sure we’ll return! The exhibits are wonderful and the views cannot be beat. The museum is free, parking is $15 and you can park twice in one day. We also want to visit the Getty Villa in Malibu, which is supposed to be beautiful as well. The Villa is also free but you need to get tickets ahead of time.

    view from the getty museum by @janemaynard

    • Westwood Village. On our last day we stopped in Westwood Village for lunch and ice cream (see below). Westwood Village is an adorable neighborhood with movie theaters, food and more right next to UCLA. It was lovely sitting at a table on the sidewalk enjoying our food.

    westwood village by @janemaynard

    The Food We Ate
    We ate sooooooo well while we were in LA. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

    • Plan Check Kitchen + Bar: My sister told us we had to eat at Plan Check, a burger joint similar to Unami Burger but better, according to Anne. Every last bite was scrumptious. I don’t think you can go wrong ordering anything off the menu. My sister says pig candy is a must, which we didn’t know until after, but thankfully Nate got a taste of it on his burger.

    plan check kitchen + bar by @janemaynard

    • The Farmer’s Market at 3rd and Fairfax: When we left the Bay Area, part of me mourned the loss of the Ferry Building in my life. I LOVE THAT PLACE. The Farmer’s Market in LA is different from the Ferry Building but every bit as wonderful. It’s my new Ferry Building. So much food, so much ambience, so much history. The tater tots from Fritzi’s…I didn’t know tater tots could be good, and not only were they good, they were stellar. Moishe’s gyros pita was flavored perfectly. Bob’s Donuts were to die for. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I honestly could have spent all day just at the Farmer’s Market. Love love love love love. My dad told me after we visisted that when he was growing up, my grandmother also loved going to this Farmer’s Market. That makes me love it even more.

    the farmer's market at 3rd and fairfax in LA by @janemaynard

    • Milo + Olive: We ordered pizza from Milo + Olive in Santa Monica as recommended by friend Gaby. Nate’s assessment: If the French made pizza, this would be it. The crust was seriously like eating a perfect baguette. And then they had this thing called the garlic knot, which we thought would be garlic bread but was in fact a piece of bread filled with cloves of garlic and baked to sweet, delicious perfection. Cate couldn’t get enough of the garlic knot! Awesome food.

    milo + olive pizza  by @janemaynard

    • Diddy Riese: When we checked in at Hotel Angeleno, the receptionist told us we should take the kids to a place nearby called Diddy Riese. The whole trip we kept planning to go but never making it. The last day, as we drove out of town, we finally went. We grabbed lunch at the Flame Broiler down the street and then walked over to Diddy Riese for dessert. I did not know that ice cream sandwiches could be so good. They make homemade cookies and then put together your ice cream sandwich based on the flavors you choose. The cookies were divine. I could have eaten 4 sandwiches and been happy.

    diddy riese in los angeles by @janemaynard

    There you have it, Los Angeles in 2 1/2 days with 3 kids! This was just scratching the surface and I can’t wait to get back!

    A portion of our hotel costs were covered by Hotel Angeleno. All opinions are my own and we still spent plenty of money on our little jaunt to LA! ;)

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  2. Sunday, April 13

    Week 377 Menu

    Wow, it sure is hard to settle back into the routine of normal life. I’m kind of wishing spring break would last forever!

    weekly menu from @janemaynard with FREE printable weekly meal plan and shopping list

    Step 1 to getting back into the groove: plan the weekly menu! Here goes…

    MONDAY:
    - Grammy’s Orange Chicken
    - Rice and veggie

    TUESDAY:
    - Taco night

    WEDNESDAY:
    - Rachel sandwiches
    - Fresh fruit and chips

    THURSDAY:
    - Take out – Cate has tennis in the afternoon and then Anna is in the school talent show right after. Can you guess what she might be doing? It certainly couldn’t be singing a song from Frozen with a friend like every other girl in every other school in America…

    FRIDAY:
    - Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    - Let’s be honest, take out. I’ll be busy making food for Easter and I’m sure I’ll bail on making dinner on Saturday ;)

    SUNDAY:
    - Easter dinner with friends at our house! We are still planning the menu, but it will for sure involve ham and homemade rolls.

    Click here for the free printable of this week’s menu plus the shopping list!

    Now it’s your turn! Please share your menu for the week, no matter how plain or fancy! If you are also planning an Easter feast and know what you’ll be cooking, be sure to share the details!

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  3. Friday, April 11

    Friday Show and Tell

    Happy Friday! It’s actually sort of a sad Friday for me because it’s the last day of our trip. We’ve had a GREAT week and I can’t wait to tell you about it, but it will have to wait a few days. I’m still in Spring Break mode. ;)

    easter muffins

    Here are my “Babbles” for the week:

    And yumminess on Cosmo:

    Show and Tell means the whole class gets to share. Show us what you got, links, fun news from your life, anything goes!

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  4. Tuesday, April 8

    Bertucci’s Tortellini with Sausage, Mushrooms and Creamy Tomato Sauce

    For our very first date, Nate and I went to the Davis Square Bertucci’s in Somerville, MA. Once we were married, if we ever went out to a restaurant (which was rare), it was usual to Bertucci’s or John Harvard’s. I think one of the reasons I love Bertucci’s so much is because of our personal history associated with it, but I still love going to that restaurant whenever we can because they do make some good food. Those dinner rolls and that margherita pizza…YUMMMMM.

    bertucci's tortellini with sausage, mushrooms and light creamy tomato sauce from @janemaynard

    One of those times early in our marriage when we went to Bertucci’s I ordered a tortellini dish that was served with sausage, mushrooms in a light cream tomato sauce. This was one of the very first restaurant copycat recipes I created at home and definitely one of the first things I cooked that gave me some confidence in the kitchen.

    bertucci's tortellini with sausage, mushrooms and light creamy tomato sauce from @janemaynardbertucci's tortellini with sausage, mushrooms and light creamy tomato sauce from @janemaynard

    It’s been years since I’ve made what we call Bertucci’s Tortellini, but I threw it on the menu a few weeks ago and IT WAS SO GOOD. I made sure to write down measurements for you since the recipe I had posted on the site was pretty lame and directionless.

    bertucci's tortellini with sausage, mushrooms and light creamy tomato sauce from @janemaynard

    This is a nice and easy dinner to prepare that tastes wonderful. (I think I had thirds the other night.) The only thing missing from this recipe is Bertucci’s dinner rolls!

    bertucci's tortellini with sausage, mushrooms and light creamy tomato sauce from @janemaynard (>> Find out more…)

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  5. Sunday, April 6

    Week 376 Menu & Spring Break Here We Come!

    Today we are hopping in the car and heading north to Los Angeles for 3 days and then down to Anaheim. We are going to be staying at the Hotel Angeleno in LA in one of their suites. I’m super excited because, as many times as we’ve been to LA, we’ve never gone and seen the sites or spent any time there. Any suggestions of fun things to do are welcome! We are for sure going to hit the Getty, the La Brea Tar Pits and the Griffith Observatory. Geesh, that might fill our three days right there, but would still love to hear your ideas!

    hotel angeleno in los angeles

    After LA we are heading south to Anaheim, where we’ll brave the spring break crowds for one day at Disneyland and then spend a few days exploring the area. Our hotel the Carousel Inn & Suites is literally across the street from the park, which will be super convenient (I hate parking at Disneyland, it’s bananas). Nate and I are both taking off time from work, which I think will be the best part of the trip, honestly!

    carousell inn & suites in anaheim

    Needless to say I am not cooking this week. Woohoo! I’m sure we’ll be sick of eating out before the week is done, but I am excited to get a little break from the kitchen.

    It’s weeks like these that we need you even more to share your menus and provide inspiration for one another. So, please post those menus!

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  6. Friday, April 4

    Friday Show and Tell

    Happy Friday! Just a few quick links to fun food I shared on Babble and Cosmo this week!

    homemade buttermilk syrup from @janemaynard

    On Babble:

    And on Cosmo:

    You know the drill – share your stuff!

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  7. Thursday, April 3

    Jamie’s “Divine List” of Jane’s Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets

    Two weeks ago my cousin Jamie was in town with her family. While they were here we cooked a few meals and, the entire time, Jamie was keeping a running list of must-have kitchen gadgets in my kitchen that she didn’t realize were must-have kitchen gadgets until she used them. She calls it the “divine list.” I know for a fact she’s already bought a few of the items and I don’t doubt she’ll have them all before the month is out!

    This is not an exhaustive list of all the things I love and couldn’t live without in my kitchen, but all the items that Jamie added to her divine list are some of my favorites that we use all the time, so I figured it would be fun and helpful to share her list! You know, in case you feel like shopping today, which I’m sure you do because when doesn’t one feel like shopping?

    dreamfarm scizza pizza scissors | thisweekfordinner.com

    The Scizza
    I wrote about the scizza last December and proclaimed my love then. Jamie simply caught a glimpse of the scizza and was excited about it. Once she actually used it, she was officially in love. You can get it from Dreamfarm. Jamie was also impressed with Dreamfarm’s garlic press, the garject, but the scizza is what really stole her heart.

    margherita pizza on wood pizza peel from @janemaynard

    Wood Pizza Peel
    While Jamie was here, what started as me throwing some pizzas together turned into a mini class for Jamie. I didn’t realize I have so many little tricks when making homemade pizza. Jamie is trying to convince me to do a video showing how to make pizza. Maybe one day if I actually get some makeup on I’ll think about it. Until then, one of the secrets to cooking great pizza is having a wood pizza peel to transfer the pizza to the stone in your oven. (That sentence alone opens up a Pandora’s box of pizza baking tips, but I’m resisting the urge to go into more detail. I promise to share more another day!) Anyway, I love my wood pizza peel. One of the reasons it’s so great is because it has a rough, unfinished surface. The cornmeal spreads so evenly over this surface and it’s a cinch getting your pizza into the oven. It also has a nice-shaped tapered edge (see photo). I’m not sharing any links for where to buy a wood peel because I can’t really tell what the surfaces are like from looking at photos online, so get out and do a little shopping to find your own perfect peel.

    tortilla warmer from @janemaynard

    Tortilla Warmer
    I love my tortilla warmer. Jamie loves my tortilla warmer. It’s the best. Read more about it here.

    manual glass juicer from @janemaynard

    Manual Glass Juicer
    This is a timeless kitchen gadget. I love my manual glass juicer, perfect for when I need to juice something for a recipe quickly. The little ring of knobs in the center catches all the seeds and the juicer itself catches all the juice, which you can easily pour. I received my particular juicer as a wedding gift. There are tons of these out there, just make sure you get one with the little knobs.

    le creuset butter crock from @janemaynard

    Le Creuset Butter Crock
    I will not rest until all the world owns a butter crock. Butter Bell makes a nice version, but I love Le Creuset’s even more. Read more about it here.

    That’s it! Jamie’s divine list! Happy shopping!

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  8. Tuesday, April 1

    Pretty Food: Brie Phyllo Torte with Fresh Raspberries

    Years ago my friend Liz hosted a cheese party at her home. If you showed up with a bottle of wine, she gave you a plate of cheese! Okay, so it was actually a little fancier and more involved than that. She had gone to who knows how many cheese shops and gathered who knows how many cheeses and had them set up at different tables, organized by strength. Have you ever been to a cheese tasting? It’s really fun! You start with the mildest cheeses and work your way up. And you JUST EAT THE CHEESE. Leave the bread and crackers at home, this experience is about really tasting the cheeses, appreciating the nuanced differences of each type. It was a delicious, educational and fun night that obviously left an impression on me and changed the way I looked at cheese.

    brie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynard

    There truly is an art to cheese, one that I am woefully uneducated about but also very much appreciate. Nate lived in Paris for a few years back in the day, so we have a bias towards French cheeses. When I had the chance to work on a post for Président, trying out one of their recipes and sharing it with you, I jumped. We love brie and camembert and love to buy Président when we indulge!

    brie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynard

    A few years ago, Nate and I went to Paris together. We ate so many wonderful foods, including cheese of course! As I was looking through Paris photos this morning to include in this post, I laughed when I discovered the very first photo I took in Paris was of a small round of Président camembert we bought on our first day in that marvelous city! No wonder that’s the cheese I always buy – we can enjoy a bit of France right here in California!

    Président Cheese in Paris from @janemaynard

    By the way, les crèmeries are to Paris what Dunkin’ Donuts are to Boston. I couldn’t believe how many cheese shops there were, and they all looked like this. No wonder the French have mastered the art of cheese.

    crèmerie in paris from @janemaynard

    The recipe I am sharing with you today comes from Président’s website, where you can find all kinds of easy gourmet recipes. I chose this particular recipe because it not only sounded delicious but it was downright pretty. This beautiful torte would be perfect to serve at any party, but a cheese party would be especially lovely. It can serve as a nice alternative to the straight-up cheese tasting but still fit into the theme of the evening. Also, even though the torte might look intimidating to make, it actually is quite easy to throw together. You can totally impress without the stress!

    brie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynardparchment paper strip for brie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynardbrie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynardbrie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynardbrie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynardbrie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynardbrie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynardbrie phyllo torte with raspberries from @janemaynard

    Also, this food looked gorgeous at every step of the cooking process. Sorry for all the pictures, but I just couldn’t help myself.

    (>> Find out more…)

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  9. Sunday, March 30

    Week 375 Menu

    How is it Sunday already? GoodNESS.

    I have NO carry-overs from last week’s menu. I think that might be a meal planning miracle. ;)

    weekly meal plan from @janemaynard including FREE printable and shopping list

    MONDAY:
    - Grilled Chicken Burritos, including Cilantro Lime Rice, Black Beans and Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

    TUESDAY:
    - Honey Goat Cheese Pizza with Caramelized Onions

    WEDNESDAY:
    - Lentil Soup

    THURSDAY:
    - Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    - Breakfast for Dinner: Pancakes
    - Fresh fruit

    SATURDAY:
    - Starting our Spring Break fun – we don’t even know what the plans are yet, but we’re going to do something!

    SUNDAY:
    - Traveling who knows where?! :)

    Click here for the free printable of this week’s menu plus the shopping list!

    You know the drill – show us what you got! Share your menu for the week! THANKS EVERYONE!

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  10. Friday, March 28

    My New Favorite Dishes – Q Squared NYC

    The giveaway is now closed, but please keep reading to check out this great company and read my interview with the founders!

    Today is FUN because I get to introduce you to a super cool company, share a fun interview AND do a giveaway!

    Q Squared NYC Montecito Dinnerware from @janemaynard

    Q Squared NYC recently reached out to me about working together. Now, I get a lot of emails about a lot of products everyday, but Q Squared really stood out. I clicked through and discovered a small company with really beautiful products as well as a fun story. I was super excited to find out more about them and was so happy that they got in touch with me!

    Q Squared NYC Montecito Dinnerware from @janemaynardI don’t know, guys, but these just might be my two most favorite plates ever in the history of the world. Just sayin’.

    First, before we get to anything else, just look how cute their dishes are. Q Squared sells melamine dinnerware, drinkware, flatware and great serving platters. Everything is beautifully designed and appeals to all kinds of aesthetics, from classic to modern. I am a firm believe in using beautiful things on a daily basis, plus I have kids, so beautiful dishes that are also practical? BINGO. We also love eating outside. Q Squared’s dishes really are perfect for our family!

    Q Squared NYC Montecito Dinnerware from @janemaynard

    All of the dishes you see in today’s post are from the Montecito line, which I can’t get enough of. We already have white and blue dishes in our everyday collection, so I knew that Montecito would fit right into our kitchen. The Provence blue flatware and blue tumblers also go perfectly with these dishes and I’m loving it all. You can tell that the products are high quality – nice and sturdy with a good feel. I’m ready to party!

    Q Squared NYC Montecito Dinnerware from @janemaynard

    Q Squared NYC Montecito Dinnerware from @janemaynard

    I mentioned that Q Squared has a fun story. The company is founded by a mother-daughter team, Nancy (the mom and former Glamour editor) and Alaina (the daughter). I had the chance to do a little interview with them and would love to share it with you. I especially love the story behind the inspiration for starting the company. So cute!

    Interview with Q Squared NYC founders and mother-daughter team Nancy and Alaina from @janeymaynard

    Q: What inspired you both to start a company making dinnerware? Do you love cooking or entertaining or was it just a fun way to channel your creative energy?

    The answer is a little of both, plus a third reason.  We do love cooking and entertaining, and we both feel very creative. Alaina has a critical eye for art and Nancy is a fan of fashion. The third reason, though, was not being able to find beautiful products that were practical and affordable.  After college graduation, we went shopping to set up Alaina’s first apartment. She has a very high standard aesthetically but was on a low budget. Everything we came across that had an aesthetic Alaina liked was either China or Porcelain, with the China Cabinet price tag to match – so we created our own company and products to fill that need!

    Q: Your about page says that while you have complimentary styles, they are distinct. What are Nancy and Alaina’s different styles?

    Nancy is modern and minimalistic, while Alaina is classical and ornate.  Nancy likes bold colors and Alaina likes more muted colors. Combining the two styles results in our refined look that bridges a generation gap. We like to call them generation-less.

    Q: What is your design process like?

    Alaina is the Creative Director, so the designs originate from her and her inspiration. Her inspiration comes from the past, whether it is history in general or her own personal history. Nancy’s input to the designs helps guide the collection toward what would be most widely appealing to our consumers.

    Q: Do you see yourselves moving beyond dinnerware one day?

    Yes, absolutely!  We are launching our first new product category (home fragrance!) in Summer 2014, with the continuing expansion into Fall/Winter 2014. Looking into 2015 and beyond, we will continue to introduce more home decor products, including gifts, decorative accents, textiles, etc.

    Q: What is the best part of working together?

    The synergy that we feel together, knowing that the results are bigger and grander than each of us alone. Oh and there’s always the perk of having a mom in the office (for the occasional old-fashion PB&J!)

    I hope you’ve enjoyed being introduced to this great company, its founders and their beautiful products. Good luck with the giveaway!

    This post was sponsored by Q Squared NYC. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

    I think it’s time for a giveaway! One lucky, randomly-selected person will win 1 Large Cool Montecito Tray along with 4 Cool Montecito Tapas Plates. Here is how to enter the giveaway! (Comments must be left by Thursday, 4/3 Midnight PT.)

    The winner of the giveaway was Debbie Rough, who said, “Love this same pattern you have. Need a new tray… Mine just broke!!!! Woohoo hope I am a winner” Congratulations to Debbie! You will love your items!

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