|Eat| Cajun Kitchen Cafe in Santa Barbara : “The belly rules the mind.” – Spanish Proverb

By September 15, 2014 Eat : Santa Barbara, Family and Friends, Guy <3, Travel
Cajun Kitchen Sign Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara was the first stop the “Guy and Rach do the California Coast Because Yay Marriage” tour.  We pulled into town pretty much starving but me being me, I wanted to wander around and look at the menus at fifteen different places before settling on the place I had found on Yelp two hours prior. Cajun Kitchen Cafe in Santa Barbara is just one block off State Street, the main road that goes through most of the city .  The building itself is unassuming and looks straight out of the 70′s. Before we even opened the door we were hit with a wave of nostalgia for those little old diners that are few and far between and the amazing smell of fresh Cajun food. The interior matches the exterior. Clean but out-dated and somehow fitting. There wasn’t a wait but most of the seats were filed even though the time for a lunch rush had long past.

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The menu is a mix of Cajun, American, and Mexican. We saw all three types of dishes walking by as we waited for our food and everything looked good but nothing looked quite as amazing as the food they brought to our table. We decided to go full Cajun for this meal and started with an order of the beignets for $3.75. Guy has this on-going love affair with donuts which piques at beignets so there was no way we were going back out the door without an order. They arrived first and were so hot we actually had to wait to eat them which was pure torture. Served with a side of  syrup for dipping, they were slightly denser than other versions I’ve eaten before but perfectly crunchy on the outside and pillow soft on the inside. This was how excited he was before trying them…

Guy Preparing the Eat Beignets at Cajun Kitchen Cafe in Santa Barbara

…And this is the after. Can you tell he was a happy boy?

Post Beignet Face at Cajun Kitchen Cafe in Santa Barbara

I’ve mentioned before that we are sharers. We eat off each other’s plates and often make plans to go-halfsies on stuff just so we can try more of the menu. This was  one of those meals. Guy ordered the Seafood Gumbo ($11.50) and I ordered the Crawfish Etouffée ($12.50) . Both came with a choice of bread so Guy got the biscuit and I got the cornbread.

Seafood Gumbo and Biscuit at Cajun Kitchen Cafe in Santa Barbara
These bowls came out steaming hot and it was hard to sit and look and not taste. The gumbo was full of rice, a really tasty flavorful brother, shrimp, scallops, crab, and a few different kinds of fish. Nothing was over cooked which can be a problem for soups with seafood. I like my gumbo with a thicker broth so I was happy I ordered what I did but the flavors and spices were so perfect my usual preferences didn’t keep me from eating my half . Between the two of us we were able to mostly polish off the bowl and part of the biscuit which was crunchy and flaky on the outside but nice and soft on the inside.

Guy eats Seafood Gumbo at Cajun Kitchen Cafe in Santa Barbara

The Crawfish Etouffée is a much simpler dish with a little more spice than the gumbo had, but I ended up using one of their many available hot sauces to heat it up just a little more. This bad boy was so filling we couldn’t finish it and since we already had dinner plans and lunch plans for the following day we had to leave it behind. The creaminess was just what I was looking for. It’s a pretty simple dish that can truly be a hit or a miss. This was a hit.

 Crawfish Etouffée at Cajun Kitchen Cafe in Santa Barbara

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The Cajun Kitchen Cafe isn’t as fancy as many of the surrounding restaurants but what it lacks in ascetics is makes up for with the attentive service. Established 30 years ago in 1984, this place has earned its stripes by serving amazing, fresh, hot, yummy food to travelers and locals alike. It’s a little something different in a sea of New American restaurants and nation-wide chains.  If you are in the neighborhood, shoot up a block and try this place.

Cajun Kitchen Cafe
1924 De La Vina
805.687.2062

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An Interview with Kittorama : “The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.” -James Bryce

By September 8, 2014 Etsy Artisans, Guest Posts and Interviews
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If you’ve been around DTA for a while, you probably already know that I am a big geek. Want proof? Well here’s a review of Comic-Con 2014 and here’s one for LeakyCon2014. If you need more proof simply scrolling should do the trick. Anyway, I found this awesome stuff just scrolling through Etsy and when I approached Kit, she was happy enough to oblige and interview. This is what she had to say.

What’s your story? I’ve always like to make things. I have crocheted since my mother taught me at a very young age, and was interested in art in many forms. I have painted large abstract canvases, painted t-shirts, created beaded jewelry, sewed clothing for my daughter when she was a baby, and now I’m making literature inspired art. I’m a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Nerd who loves Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Steampunk, Classic Movie Monsters, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, etc. We could be here all day listing the things I fan-girl about. I was laid off from my job in 2013, so I amped up my on-the-side craft business and started doing local Farmers Markets and Craft Shows. It started out slow, but the more shows I do, the more I learn and the more people I meet in the Arts Community, the better for my business.

What, how, and why did you decide to make what you make? My main body of work right now consists of Book Pendants, Book Earrings and Book Boxes.I’m an avid reader and my core group of friends are from my Book Club, so it seemed natural that my creations started having literary leanings. Pop Culture is another element that has a big influence on my work. In addition to books I enjoy T.V. Shows – especially things on BBC, as well as Movies – mostly Science Fiction and Fantasy. I started doing more shows that were geared towards those that love the nerdy things that I do, and found my audience.

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What inspires you? Obviously, books are my number one inspiration, along with all the crazy fandoms going on in the world. My friends, family and customers have wonderful suggestions and feedback for me. That keeps my brand fresh and ever-evolving.

What is your creative process? Is it wrong that my creative process usually begins with surfing the web? I am addicted to Pinterest and have started to dabble in Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. Sometimes I’ll be at the library or watching T.V. and I’ll think, I could make something that could celebrate this cool thing. I get out my supplies and start putting things together. If it’s not coming together, sometimes I’ll look for a tutorial to learn a new technique or learn about a product that I didn’t know I needed.

Other than Etsy, where can people find you on the web?
http://www.facebook.com/kittorama
http://www.twitter.com/kittorama

http://www.instagram.com/kittorama

http://www.tumblr.com/kittorama
http://www.pinterest.com/kittoramma

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Do you have any nicknames? If so what are they and who gave them to you? I think it may be apparent that one of my nicknames is Kittorama. It was given to me by a friend, many years ago. Having such a short name, people tend to want to make it longer, just like people with long names tend to get shorter versions – i.e. Edward becomes Ed. It’s kind of like us straight haired girls wanting curly hair and visa versa.

What would you do if you won the lottery? Okay, practical things first: I would buy a house, make sure my daughter has a healthy college fund and treat my husband and I to vehicles made in this decade. Now for the fun, I’ve always wanted to go to Europe, especially England and France. I would follow my family tree to Germany and see how far back I can go. I would open several Artists Co-ops where locals can showcase and sell their creations. I would save as many animals as I could from shelters, probably adopting several cats. I may get my husband a dog, if he’s nice to me.

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What are your top five favorite words and why? Turquoise – I just love how it’s spelled and it rolls off the tongue. Serendipity – Wonderful, unexpected things, plus a cool movie with John Cusack. Mellifluous – Something that sounds gorgeous and melodic. Presitidigitation – It’s just magical. Shillelagh – It rhymes with Hayley and I used it to make up a song for my daughter when she was small.

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|Do| Wizarding World of Harry Potter and LeakyCon 2014 : “I’m just really active in the fandom.” – Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

By September 4, 2014 Do : Orlando, Travel
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Every year, I go to LeakyCon. It’s a Harry Potter convention. I know exactly what you are thinking because it’s the first thing people ask when they hear I’m going to Harry Potter convention and that’s what do you do there? It’s a lot like summer camp for people who consider Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry home. Mostly, I see my friends. Some of the best people to crash into my life and stay there even though we only see each other once a year. We go to panels, spend too much money on all things magical in the vendor room, go to books signings, get pictures with fandom important people, play quidditch, break Guinness world records, go to the ball, drink beer, wrock out with our wands out at Wizard Wrock concerts,  have pizza parties in our hotel room, sleep too little, laugh too much and start planning for next year.

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This year, as LeakyCon was held in Orlando, we had the opportunity to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which means I got to go to Hogwarts, shop in Diagon Alley, and ride the Hogwarts Express. And before you ask, yeah, I cried a little as we pulled into Hogsmeade Station. It was like finally, finally, after years of waiting, getting the welcome to Hogwarts letter via owl. I got to drink in The Three Broomsticks, get a wand at Ollivander’s, walk through the wall at Platform 9 3/4, and adopt a Pygmy Puff. Try the frozen butterbeer but plan on sharing because they are sweet. A+ from me to the proprietary Three Broomsticks beer which Jodi said tastes like basketballs…And also all the ice cream except the Chocolate Chilli which was like way too spicy, and I say that as someone guilty of putting hot sauce on almost everything.

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This video is a little clips real from this year that one of my best friends, in the magical or muggle world, made of our little adventures. I make my first appearance at the :33 second mark and continue to embarrass myself throughout. Watching this makes me wish the days were going faster so I can get back to Hogwarts next year.

And here’s a little wizard wrock playlist to introduce you to the awesomeness.

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Healthy Lunches and a Laptop Lunches Lunch Box Review : “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ― Virginia Woolf

By August 26, 2014 Giveaways , Discounts and Reviews
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Packing an unhealthy lunch is easier than packing a healthy one. All those single serving chip bags and chocolate chip cookies are cheap and at an arms reach on every grocery store end cap but science tells us healthy eating habits start young. Packing a healthy lunch your kids will eat isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Check HERE and HERE for some ideas to get you started.

Color: Kids like bright colors. Packing items of varying together adds visual interest. I often pack strawberries and blackberries together because they look nice next to each other. A trio of bell peppers is also another big hit in our house.
Texture: Varying textures makes eating an experience. Having a variety of textures in one lunch box encourages kids to eat a variety of items but avoid sending new textures or textures you know aren’t a hit  in the lunchbox and keep the experimentation for home where its easier to curtail waste.
Involvement: Let your kids pick what goes in their lunch. A simple would you like an apple or an orange can be the catalyst for healthy eating. My preschooler is big on picking between two given options because it makes her feel more grown up.

We also really try to cut down on our throw away habits, like an over-use of ziploc bags and disposable containers. To do that we’ve embraced lunch box systems, often called bento boxes, where the containers nest together, creating compartments that separate foods from each other.In an effort to find the best bento, I reached out to several highly rated lunch box companies and requested samples. This is the first of a series of reviews that eventually be aggregated into a single post weighing each against the others. For the sake of full disclosure, I did receive the Laptop Lunches Bistro  Bento Box 2.0  free of charge in return for my review of the product. Everything included in this review are my own unfiltered beliefs about the integrity and usability of this product.

Laptop Lunches Bistro Bento Box

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Pros:
Sturdy and Made in the USA:  The build quality is fantastic. Ours has been dropped multiple times and still looks brand new, despite the abuse. The plastic is thick and sturdy but doesn’t contain any lead, BPA, so I don’t have to worry about harmful chemicals leaching into my daughter’s food every day. That “Made in the USA” stamp means that the company is required to actually follow laws regarding the materials they use and are legally required to adhere to safety laws that companies outside of the United States often see as recommendations and suffer no legal ramifications for ignoring.

The Colors: I love all the different color combinations available. I’m not gonna lie, when asked to pick one it took me a while and I ended up just letting Harper decide.

Leak Proof: Surprisingly, it’s pretty hard to find lunch boxes that will claim to be leakproof and fulfill that promise. The Laptop Lunches Bento Box does that. The seals are tight and getting the lids off is a bit of a pain so yo know they aren’t going to pop off on their own.

A Spot for Silverwear: This is pretty novel but most bento boxes have no wear to put silverwear but this one has a slot on the right hand side where you can slip some in so your lunch can be completely self contained.

Options: Because the pieces all come out of the lunchbox, you have options. In fact this is one of the rare bento box lunch boxes I’ve found with a spot that fits a regular sized sandwich!

Easy to Clean: For those most part, this lunch box is easy to clean, Everything wipes out easily and the texture on the inside is smooth so food doesn’t really want to stick to it.  We don’t have a dishwasher, unless you count Guy, but according the their website all the components are dishwasher safe.

Laptop Lunches Bisto Bento Box Jazz

Cons:
Lots of Moving Parts: While I love the versitiliy of this lunch box, there are a lot of parts and because of that it is important to be hyper vigilant about fully assembling the entire lunch box before it gets put away and makes it easier to lose things.

Size: It doesn’t fit into either of my daughter’s lunch boxes. Neither Iron Man nor the Disney princess brigade could hold this one which is an issue because my daughter doesn’t have access to a fridge at school and thus her lunch boxes have to be stuffed with ice packs to keep everything cool though out the day.

Better Suited for Big Kids: This lunchbox seems much better suited for older children or adults who have the strength to actually open the lunch box and the internal containers. Since I work from home and my husband already has a dedicated lunch box, I’m not sure this will get much use until my daughter is older and can actually open and close it by herself.

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