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Invitations, Favors + Papa Bender Dinners

Posted Jul 20 2010 3:16pm

What could possibly incorporate all three of those things?

Why, a trip to Arizona, of course! Sorry to leave you all hanging for a week, but I ended up turning off the computer for a long weekend in favor of this:

You all know how much I love home. I caught the Arizona fever again. But this time, my business partner Jill was there to catch it with me – and she can vouch that it does, in fact, exist. :)

One of the main focuses of the trip was some down and dirty wedding planning. I crossed several things off my to-do list and am feeling better already:

  • DIY invitations (I can’t WAIT to show you how these turned out!)
  • DIY wedding favor bags (again, can’t WAIT!)
  • DIY wedding ribbon wands (for the entrance during the reception)

There’s more, but you get the gist! All of our paper-made goodies came from a store called the Paper Depot that is a must if you 1) can get to Minnesota and 2) are planning a big event or love scrapbooking. The possibilities and color combinations are endless in this store!

Additionally, my mom created an extraordinary version of the wedding menu I mentioned in my last post . Thanks to all who commented about the seating chart question. Your thoughts and ideas were SO helpful and I even sent my mom the post to show her how awesome you all are. :)

Beyond the wedding preparation extravaganza, Jill and I also had a chance to visit her brother, who works at a restaurant in Scottsdale called Culinary Dropout , on Saturday afternoon.

After saying hello to her brother, we settled down to order. To start, we had raspberry cocktails made with rum, mint and a bit of sugar. They were perfectly sweet – the fruit inside was great, too!

Jill’s brother recommended that we order the soft pretzels and provolone fondue. Twist my arm…

He knows what he is talking about, that’s for sure! The soft pretzels were warm and doughy with a sea salt topping. So flavorful, moist and chewy. I was swooning.

And whoever decided to melt provolone into fondue is an absolute GENIUS. Enough said.

It was a nicely portioned appetizer and we saved some for my family to try back at home. Jill also ordered a Home-Ec Martini to taste, which was magnificent. It was made with Belvedere vodka, Grand Marnier, strawberries, basil and lemon juice.

It was a great adventure into the shopping area of the city.

Last but not least, it wouldn’t be a trip home if I didn’t highlight the various culinary works of none other than Papa Bender himself. My first request? I think you know what’s coming…

Oops! How’d that get in there? ;)

But in all seriousness, my first request was very much related to margaritas.

Fajitas, of course! I wanted Jill to experience my absolute favorite meal. PB didn’t disappoint. He set up our fajita station complete with all the usual fixins.

I loaded up my tortilla with shrimp, chicken and flank steak – plus red and green peppers, tomatoes, black olives, marinated onions, cheese, sour cream and salsa. Olé!

I can safely say that these still hold the title of, “Best Fajitas in the World.”

Papa Bender also made us fresh turkey burgers with swiss chard and corn on the cob. It was my first time having corn all summer, which officially made it official in my official summer rules book.

On our last night, Papa Bender pulled out all the stops.


Served with tomato, olive and artichoke antipasto, baked potatoes and Swedish potato sausage , which Papa Bender had picked up after Jill mentioned it was a family favorite. That guy misses nothing!

I snagged two of the crab legs along with a potato and sausage, with swiss chard, mushrooms and tomatoes on the side. It was a true culinary treat.

I am always so spoiled by Papa Bender’s love for cooking. I need some of his motivation and creativity to rub off on me – I’ve been slacking here in Chicago lately!

All in all, it was a phenomenal weekend. The dry heat and sunshine were a nice break from the clouds and shower-like humidity of the Windy City.

Now that I’m back, things ought to be a bit more normal around these parts. I have some product reviews and giveaways that I’ve been meaning to post for weeks. I’m excited!

Question: Where is your favorite place in the world to decompress?

I think from this post it’s pretty obvious what my answer is. :mrgreen:


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