Donovan's Steak and Chop House: Tasting My Way Through San Diego Restaurant Week Part 3

San Diego Restaurant Week is continuing all this week. For my final outing, I chose one of San Diego's highest rated steak houses, Donovan's Steak and Chop House located in San Diego's famed Gaslamp district. San Diego Restaurant Week is a great way to experience one of San Diego's many restaurant's at a discounted price. I was so glad I decided to treat my husband to a night out at a place I knew he would love and it was a treat to experience San Diego Restaurant Week at one of San Diego's most highly regarded restaurants.

Donovan's Steak House

Donovan's is known for their intimate atmosphere. The walls are covered in rich and warm wood with classic detailing. There are several cozy seating areas as well as an ample bar area. It's private without being secluded. Donovan's is also very close to Petco Park, within walking distance in fact.

What We Ate
The Restaurant Week options at Donovan's offer your choice of a salad, entree and dessert. Warm bread is offered upon being seated. We both chose the caesar salad to start. My husband dined on the 4 oz. twin prime filet medallions topped with bleu cheese and a delicious port wine demi-glaze. He likes his steaks medium rare and he said this one did not disappoint. It had a perfect warm pink center. It was served with crisp seasonal vegetables and garlic smashed potatoes. I had the scottish loch salmon with maitre d' butter. It was deliciously buttery soft and flaky. I chose the seasonal vegetable and the garlic smashed potatoes. the vegetables were perfectly crisp without being underdone and the garlic smashed potatoes were piping hot and so good! Click over for the full San Diego Restaurant menu.

Good To Know
Expect unparalleled service at Donovan's Steak and Chop House . The server's work in teams of three with a lead server on point. This ensures you are never without anything you need during your meal, whether it's a refill on your water, your plate cleared or another glass of wine. Our server, Erik and his team truly went above and beyond to provide a first class experience.

San Diego Restaurant Week
San Diego Restaurant Week is an event that showcases the diverse and upcoming culinary world in San Diego County; with over 175 restaurants participating. While reservations are not required at , they are strongly encouraged. For more restaurant choices, including restaurants all over the San Diego County area, visit SanDiegoRestaurantWeek.com

Disclosure: I was invited to have a complimentary dining experience at Donovan's by the folks at San Diego Restaurant Week. My opinions are my own. 


The Patio on Lamont Restaurant: Tasting My Way to San Diego Restaurant Week Part 2

 Nestled in the enclaves of residential area of Pacific Beach in San Diego is a charming restaurant called The Patio on Lamont. In fact, drive by and you just might miss it. The Patio is located on Lamont Street in Pacific Beach (hence it's name) and from the outside you almost wouldn't know it's there.  If you are thinking of trying this Pacific Beach restaurant, expect delectable, fresh comfort food menu items that are perfect for a lunch or dinner date. I brought my mother along for lunch. Not only do I love her company, but she enjoys trying new places to eat as much as I do.

When you walk in to the Patio on Lamont, you feel as if you've walked into a friend's lush and open garden deck. A living wall with abundant greenery flowing down like rain graces an entire wall. A swooping canvas canopy covers the open outdoor section. Large patio style string lights run from one end of the patio to the next. I almost wished we had chosen to come back for dinner so I could se the patio all lit up. The outdoor patio connects 3 separate small buildings that house the bar and the indoor seating area. At each table a small potted succulent acts as a centerpiece.

What We Ate
For lunch, The Patio serves a selection of menu items that are great for sharing with a friend or savoring all to your self. We decided to share a plate of the Roasted Beet Bruschetta (6 beets, candied walnuts, arugula, and goat cheese served on ciabatta bread slices). It was divine and my favorite thing we ate that day. We also had the Tabouleh. It was absolutely delicious. It tasted homemade and I loved that the serving was a generous portion. My mom also chose the House-Smoked Pulled Chicken Sandwich (which she said was delicious) and I chose the Lunch Trio with the Beef and Bleu Flatbread, a yummy watermelon gazpacho and a mini chocolate mouse dessert. I would order each of these menu items again.  Click over for the full Patio lunch and dinner menu.
The Roasted Beet Bruchetta
The Beef and Bleu Half Flatbread
The House-Smoked Pulled Chicken Sandwich

For Lunch, they are offering their "Locals Who Lunch" special, which is what I had. Your choice of any sandwich or flatbread, a small soup, and a mini dessert all for $15. For Dinner, it's your choice of 
an appetizer (the Beet Bruschetta is on the list), a main entree and desert all for $35.

Good To Know
~The Patio is a pet-friendly restaurant. Bring your pup in on your next outing and he or she is sure to be treated well. They'll even give your pooch his or her own dog bowl fill with water.
~The open air means there may be flies.  Because we were sitting close to an open window, we had quite a few. If you think this will bother you, I suggest requesting an indoor seating spot.
Parking, which is available on the street, was definitely a challenge. Although for dinner, they offer valet parking.
~I would go back just for the bruschetta alone. I would also love to sample some of their house made cocktails, as they come highly recommended on several review sites. 
~The beach (Pacific Beach) is a very short drive and a little longer walk from The Patio on Lamont. Overall it was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun San Diego Pacific Beach lunch spot.

The Patio on Lamont
858-412-4648 for reservations

4445 Lamont Street
San Diego, Ca 92109
Disclosure: I was invited down for lunch and given a $50 credit to The Patio on Lamont to use towards sampling the restaurant's offerings in exchange for sharing my opinion of my experience with you. All opinions are my own.


Cafe Coyote: Tasting My Way to San Diego Restaurant Week Part 1

In honor of San Diego Restaurant Week which starts this week, I'll be sharing my experience at 3 different restaurants in San Diego. First up is Cafe Coyote. I was invited to dine at Cafe Coyote, a long time Mexican restaurant located in Old Town San Diego. Old Town is a wonderfully charming and historic area of San Diego that has a plethora of restaurants and shops. If you are planning a trip to San Diego soon, make sure to put Old Town on your list.

Cafe Coyote has been voted "Best Mexican Restaurant" in San Diego for several years running and is an editor's pick from sandiego.com. I could see why! We arrived last Sunday to a bustling crowd enjoying the post-Chargers-game festivities. There was a line out the door, so I was so glad to have made reservations. Having previously tasted their famous homemade tortillas, I was excited to bring my husband for dinner. The building has an old world Mexican hacienda charm with lots of little rooms and breezy outdoor patio. We were seated in the outdoor patio area. As we dined, we were also occasionally greeted by roving Mariachi guitarists and a gentleman carrying gorgeous red roses.

What We Ate
We started with the Cocktail de Cocktail de Camaron which is shrimp diced with celery, tomato, onions, cilantro and jalapeƱos. So good! It's served with tortilla chips and was so refreshing and full of flavor. This was my favorite thing we tasted. 

 I had the Margarita Shrimp Tacos and my husband had the Carnitas Plate with fresh homemade tortillas, which is one of the Coyote Favorites choices. He said the tortillas were out of this world and the carnitas was good too. I wished I had saved more room for my tacos. They were delicious and had a mild flavor. However, I was so full from the appetizer that I barely ate any.

We were also treated to some delicious Fried Ice Cream drizzled with honey and served with cinnamon sugar tortilla chips. Of course, somehow I managed to have room for dessert. ;-)

If you love traditional Mexican food, you will love Cafe Coyote.

Good To Know:
You can take their famous handmade tortillas to go! Cafe Coyote's famous homemade and handmade tortillas are served warm with butter or salsa and available for walk up purchase. If you want to sample this deliciousness as you walk around Old Town, I would highly recommend this option! 

Cafe Coyote is offering a specially priced menu for San Diego Restaurant Week (September 21-26, 2014). It's $10 for lunch and $25 for dinner. Dinner includes your choice of an appetizer, entree, and dessert. Both the Famous Carnitas Plate and Luis' Fried Ice Cream are choices on the SD Restaurant Week menu.

Parking was definitely an issue. Free street parking is available, but plan to park a few blocks away from your location. I highly recommend bringing a few extra dollars for a flat rate parking lot located nearby.

Cafe Coyote
2461 San Diego Ave
San Diego, CA
619-291-0715 for reservations

Disclosure: I was invited by Cafe Coyote to enjoy a complimentary dinner in exchange for sharing my experience with you. My opinions are my own. 


Silly Playdough Faces

These silly play dough faces are a fun activity for kids.  

To make these fun "monster guys" as my son calls them,
 here's what you'll need:

  • Playdough
  • Googlie eyes
  • Chenille pipe cleaners, cut into fourths
  • Toothpicks

Push the playdough flat or smush it into a ball. Add chenille pipe cleaners for hair, googlies for the eyes, and carve out a mouth using a toothpick or form one with pipe cleaners.


Easy Cilantro Chicken and Ranch Lettuce Wraps

Maybe it's the end of summer and the back-to-school schedule that has me hungering for meals with fresh ingredients without a bunch of work. Sometimes, I'll walk the produce section at the grocery store and pick up whatever sounds good at the time, cut it up, throw it together and add a simple vinaigrette and that's dinner - or lunch. Since I had just had salad the night before, I decided to make these easy cilantro chicken lettuce wraps.  

                                                                         oops forgot to add the cilantro!

Here's what you'll need to make Cilantro Chicken and Ranch Lettuce Wraps (although of course you can customize your ingredients to your personal taste):

  • 1 head of Romaine Lettuce
  • 2 cups roasted chicken (pulled and cut into pieces- I purchased a precooked whole chicken from the deli section of the grocery store)
  • 1/2 red onion -diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cut cilantro 
  • 2 small tomatoes - diced
  • 1 cup shredded cheese, any variety
  • 1/2 green bell pepper - diced
  • 1/4 ranch dressing

*Mix all ingredients and spoon inside halved Romaine lettuce leaves.
*Optional: Add the juice of 1 lime
*Serves 2: Adjust ingredients to taste



Easy Back to School Shopping: Give Back to your School with Schoola #clothes4schools

Back to School time is here! We have just a few days before school starts. My daughter is especially looking forward to school. She's already talking about seeing her friends, starting a new grade, and what she will wear on her first day of school. We homeschool through a charter school, so she will be going to school a few days a week to have a "traditional" school experience. Her actual first day in the classroom will be a bit later. She told me recently, that sometimes it's hard to know what tops and bottoms go together because she keeps them separate in her closet and dresser. So together we came up with a fun idea to help her choose outfits in the morning:

 We put a bunch of outfits together and photographed them, complete with shoes and accessories. She will put the photos in a photo book (or store them on her iPod) and can flip through them when she is getting ready for school. Problem solved! She felt so empowered to be her own stylist and to have a simple way to help her get ready for school.

Have you heard about Schoola?
Schoola turns brand name outgrown clothes into money for your child's school programs. You can donate your previously worn clothes to Schoola and request that your child's school receive a predetermined portion of the proceeds from the sale of the clothes. We are excited to pick out a few things for back to school and maybe even a holiday dress!

It's a win-win for you and the school! Don't feel like donating? That's okay. You can still shop the thousands of brand name previously worn kid's clothing items on the Schoola website and proceeds still go to schools in need. You can even hold a "Schoola Clothes Drive" and get your entire school or  homeschool co-op group involved! To request a free donation bag or shop for school clothes and a great discount, visit Schoola.com

You can connect with Schoola through their many social media channels:
Website: Schoola.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/Schoola
Twitter: Twitter.com/Schoola
Follow the hashtag #ClothesforSchools


Shredded Chicken Sandwich On A Pretzel Bun With Homemade Honey Mustard

What's not to love about soft pretzel rolls, really? While I'd love to try to make homemade mini soft pretzel rolls, I'm so glad Costco has them! To make a shredded chicken sandwich on a mini pretzel bun with homemade honey mustard, you'll need:

1 pretzel bun, cut in half
2-3 oz. Shredded chicken (or favorite meat)
1 slice of tomato
1 leaf romaine lettuce
1 slice of colby jack cheese (or your favorite)
homemade honey mustard

Layer chicken, tomato, lettuce, cheese, honey mustard together on the mini pretzel roll....yum! Is it time for lunch yet? Making your own honey mustard sauce is so easy. Here's how.  

Homemade Honey Mustard Sauce Recipe
2-3 parts yellow mustard
1 part mayonnaise
1 part honey 

Whip mustard, mayo, and honey together with a fork.

Spread honey mustard on your pretzel bun and enjoy!


Art is an Adventure!

Art and creativity are very near to my heart. Growing up, I expressed myself creatively in a variety of ways. Some of which still give me a little giggle. When I was very young, I would dance and sing to heart’s content, giving performances to anyone and everyone who would listen. As I got older, I loved writing, acting, and theatre. Since having kids, I have loved children’s crafts, exploring creativity with food and more. One common thread and life lesson woven throughout my lifelong artistic experiences was that putting yourself out there artistically requires a certain amount of risk and vulnerability. And those are two traits that not only help budding artists grow in their craft, but also transfers to other areas of life for both children and adults.

Already at ten, my own daughter yearns to soak up art in its many forms. From acting classes and music appreciation, to creative expression in her school projects, she’s had so many opportunities to explore different creative outlets. Last September, she began taking traditional art classes at a local art school. She has a natural gift for drawing and painting that I have just loved seeing blossom. While we have been fortunate to experience art in so many ways, it’s no secret that creative programs in schools across the nation are being cut for many reasons.  Did you know that you and I can do something about that while shopping for clothes for our kids?

 Have you heard of Schoola?
 Schoola is a company that aims to raise funds for creative arts programing in schools across the country through the donation and resale of children’s clothes. How does Schoola work? Well, in a nutshell, gently worn and adorable brand name clothes are donated (by people like you and me) and proceeds from those sales are then utilized to fund creative arts programs at schools across the country: Schools like yours, schools like ours and schools like Yick Wo Elementary in San Fransisco, California. Take 2 minutes to watch this video, 2 minutes to see how important art is to kids.

Did you catch that one part in the video? Just one bag of previously loved clothing donated to Schoola will fund art supplies for five children at Yick Wo Elementary through this campaign.

I am so excited to be partnering with Schoola to specifically raise money for Yick Wo Elementary. Their goal is to raise $25,000. You and I have a unique opportunity to help these kids, teachers, and staff raise money to fund their school’s art program. Here's the best part, you can also raise money for a school of your choice at the same time.

Here's how it breaks down:

  • For every donation bag requested or clothing purchase made through Schoola, $1 will be donated to Yick Wo Elementary through this campaign. (By clicking on the above link, Schoola tracks the donations and purchases so that Yick Wo gets the $1).
  • Plus, if you send back your donated clothes and fill out the school selection information, $2 of every $5 raised will go back to the school you selected! That's a win for Yick Wo and a win for your school!
  • This specific fundraising campaign through this blog (and other participating) runs from July 28-August 16th, 2014, but Schoola will always be raising money for arts programs.

Again, if you want to help me raise money for creative art programs through Schoola, there are two ways you can do so right now: After clicking the link to learn more about Schoola, you can then choose either "request a bag to fill with donated clothes" (at no cost to you) or browse the selection of cute and gently worn clothes available for purchase on their site and make a purchase. To be clear, you are not obligated to click on anything or purchase anything, but if you choose to donate a bag of clothing or purchase clothing, the above proceeds of that transaction will go to fund school arts programs. I wanted to test it out before I shared it with you, so I requested a donation bag of my own. It was pretty easy to request a donation bag.

You can connect with Schoola and the #clothes4schools campaign online via twitter, facebook and the hashtag #clothesforschools

Twitter: http://twitter.com/schoola

*Disclosure: I was compensated for participating in the Schoola #clothes4school campaign. However, all opinions are passionately my own and as Schoola reached out to me I became excited to be a part of this project. I was given a choice of schools where our donations would go and I chose Yick Wo. To read my full disclosure policy, see the tab at the top of this page.