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Love is in the Air

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My heart skips a beat every time I look at her sweet face and having this little love bug as my Valentine sure ups the fun factor of an otherwise cliché holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I love flowers and chocolates (who doesn’t?) but spending time crafting Valentine’s with a 17 month old is way more my style. At the moment, a certain someone is protesting any activity that requires sitting still or being indoors, so in order to get some deliciously sweet photos I had to take her outside and distract her with some beautiful San Diego sunshine. She was such a good sport considering we were both recovering from a weekend indoors with a stomach bug.

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What Valentine’s Day would be complete without a crafting project or two? Here are a few of the handmade love letters we sent to family and friends this year. Not bad for a 17 month old, right? Such attention to detail! 😉

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Itty Bitty Custom Kitchen Reno

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2014 was the year for projects and my absolute favorite, hands down was renovating this sweet (but originally way too pink)  kitchenette for Eisley.  Christmas has always been a special holiday to me and now that I have a little person in my life, it has become so much more fun to celebrate.  I knew I wanted to give her a play kitchen as her BIG present and while there are a ton that are adorable as is, I have always enjoyed adding my own personal touch to any gift so that’s just what I did.  My 16 month old may not appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that went into this diy custom kitchen but the removable sink that can also be worn as a helmet and an oven that doubles as the perfect hiding spot for her shoes are the toddler-approved icing on the cake.

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Originally, I thought refurbishing an old piece of furniture such as a nightstand or a hutch would be fun and cost effective but most of my thrift store finds were underwhelming and not that cheap.  I was absolutely thrilled when my husband found this cupcake kitchen on sale for $40! It came unassembled, which was perfect because I wanted to enhance each piece, one by one.

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BEFORE

I decided on a soft grey paint for the cabinetry with a white mosaic back splash, white and grey faux marble adhesive for the counter-top and cobalt blue accented knobs and cooking accessories (to match my own, of course)! The Smart Tiles back splash I chose were an easy cut, peel and stick and can be installed over just about any surface. I found the white and grey faux marble counter-top adhesive to be a bit tricky. It only took me three tries but who’s counting? Luckily it comes on a good sized roll which gives some wiggle room for trial and error. Finally, no kitchen is complete without a touch of Julia Child so I made a kitchen plaque with some words of encouragement to cover what was originally a clock.

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I am hoping that my pint-sized sous chef  learns to love cooking and baking as much as I do so that in a few years time I can get her these ridiculous Le Creuset Junior kitchen essentials to match my own! These are the things that excite me! 🙂

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White Chocolate Mint Cookie Christmas Bark

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Need a last minute holiday gift for friends? Your turn to bring treats to the office? Made a promise to bring something drool-worthy to the holiday party? Feel like Santa is over your cookies? Well, Christmas just wouldn’t be complete without something extra sweet and festive to snack on and if you want a treat that’s sure to impress and short on prep time, this white chocolate mint cookie bark is just the thing. No matter where you’re heading, I promise this sugary goodness will disappear in minutes so you better make a double batch.

If you’re anything like me, the holiday staff at Williams Sonoma know you by name during the holidays from cleaning out their stock in peppermint bark. Embarrassing, yes but so, so good. Well, this year I made my own because who doesn’t love white chocolate and peppermint together, in candy bar form? Instead of the traditional candy canes, I went with mint Oreos, pretzels, mint M&M’s and crumbled cookie topping  along with a pound and a half of melted white chocolate. Your welcome.  If this doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit, you’re hard to please.

White Chocolate Mint Cookie Bark Recipe                                                                                                                                 inspired by your homebased mom

  • 14 whole oreos, broken up (I used mint Oreos with the green filling.)
  • 1 1/2 cups pretzel sticks, broken.
  • 1 cup holiday colored mint M&M’s
  • 1 1/2-2 lbs white chocolate
  • 1/4 cup crushed Oreo cookie crumble for topping

Directions:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scatter the Oreos, pretzels and 3/4 cup of the M&M’s evenly.

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Next, break the white chocolate (I used Ghiradelli bars) into smaller pieces and place in double boiler. Heat (but don’t boil) chocolate until melted and smooth, making sure to stir throughout.                *If you are going to microwave the chocolate, do so in 30 second intervals, mixing between each interval until melted and smooth.

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Drizzle the melted white chocolate over the candy mixture (spreading with a spatula to even, if needed) and top with remaining mint M&M’s and crushed Oreo cookie crumble.

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Refrigerate until hardened and gently break into chunks.

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Place in a decorative bag for gifting or directly on a plate because you deserve it!

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Hoping you and your loved ones enjoy all the sweetness this Holiday Season has to offer.                                                        xo

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Savoring the Sweetness | Eisley’s Holiday Photos

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Wishin’ and Hopin’ and Thinkin’ and Prayin’. Plannin’ and Dreamin’…

I once read a card with the words, “I have an irrational fear of wasting a fabulous outfit on an insignificant day.” Well, the moment I laid eyes on this sweet-as-can be knit dress and deer hat, (complete with ears and antlers) my holiday card inspiration was born. I had a vision and this fabulous outfit would NOT be wasted, it would be photographed! Even though I consider every single day of the past fifteen months of mommy hood to be significant, let’s face it, my outfits seem to get more blah and basic as my daughters get more fabulous. My little Eis is an all about the accessories kind of girl, (favorite word, “shoes”)  so I knew she would need some darling Mary Jane’s to complete the look. When I tried the whole ensemble on E, my heart actually skipped a beat. She looked absolutely precious.

Aside from getting the little tornado to stay put for half a second, the rest of the props were pretty simple and consisted of items I already had lying around the house or stored away in the garage. I used the guest room comforter as the back drop, my crafting table top as the white ground cover and a birch branch which I potted and decorated with some silver glittery stars (as a distraction for little miss). Throw in a little fake snow, some pine cones and a bundled up baby and VOILA, winter wonderland, right here in San Diego!

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By no means am I a professional but I do enjoy a little DIY stage prep and I always enjoy photographing this little cutie, no excuses needed. Watching those big blue eyes light up as she “oohh’s” and “aahh’s” over the magic of the season brings the biggest smile to my face. Did I forget to mention that my husband was standing behind me streaming Elmo videos to try and get her attention? Anyways, I’m fairly certain she will be in full protest mode by next Christmas, throwing the props at me and refusing to wear anything but a diaper so I’m trying to savor the sweetness of it all while it lasts!

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Shop the look-Mayoral knit dress and The Blueberry Hill hat from Puddles children’s boutique | Shoes: Mini Melissa ‘Campana’ Mary-Janes.

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Thanksgiving in Sacramento

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If there is one thing I miss most about growing up in Sacramento, it’s the chilly fall weather and those big, beautiful trees! I’m talking some serious trees people, palms don’t make the cut. As the California state capital, our claim to fame is having more trees per capita than any other city in the world. There is just something terribly wrong with a San Diego weather forecast of 90 degrees on Thanksgiving, don’t you think? Don’t get me wrong, I love my adopted city two out of four seasons but during the holidays I get seriously homesick. Thankfully, we decided to take the 10 HOUR road trip up north (toddler-in-tow) to show little E what a real autumn looks like and of course, to visit with her Papa and her Gigi!

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Our first outing was to the State Capitol to walk the beautiful grounds and to sneak in a fun fall photo shoot (compliments of my brother Zach) of little Miss giggling with delight every leaf crunching stomp she took. On Eisley’s to-do list: stop and check up on the rose garden to see what all the hype was about, inspect seven out of ten park benches we came across to make sure they were up to code, walk through each and every pile of leaves within sight (collecting one favorite leaf from each pile) and pay a visit to any tree that had dangling leaves within reach of a two and a half foot explorer.

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The wonder and amazement in her eyes made me want to return to the leaf pile jumping, pine cone collecting, ear-to-ear smiling, carefree days of my childhood and that is exactly what I did.

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I don’t think much can top a bundled up baby in a snuggly coat and warm hat when it’s cold outside. It is pretty much one of my favorite things in the whole wide world and guarantees at least a thousand cuddles and kisses. This cute, Mini Boden quilted jersey jacket (a birthday gift from Auntie Amanda) and festive Gap pom-pom hat were the perfect fit for such a crisp, breezy day.

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Thanksgiving starts at about five am at my parents house because my dad spends about 12 hours basting the turkey while my mom makes all the fixin’s! I think I spent about 25 minutes in the kitchen this holiday (it’s vacation!) which was just enough time to whip up this NO BAKE, easy as marshmallow pumpkin pie with chocolate drizzle.  It was delicious and gone in under five minutes!

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I’m not the biggest football fan and I was way more interested in taking pictures of E in her fall get-up (which made her look so grown up I almost cried). Off to the schoolyard we went to find some more (you guessed it) leaves! I purchased her fox sweater and plaid twill skirt from Janie and Jack awhile back, thinking it would be absolutely adorable for Thanksgiving. The girl loves her sparkle so these gold glimmer Tom’s were a necessity. She is such a little ham, always cheezin’ it up for the camera.

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A visit to Sacramento wouldn’t be complete without a trip to one of my favorite childhood hangouts, Fairytale Town! I knew E was at the perfect age to introduce her to some make-believe magic and what a fun time we had walking under Humpty Dumpty’s bridge, visiting with Mother Goose and The Old Woman in the Shoe, chatting it up with Mary’s Little Lambs and Three Billy Goats Gruff, dining in Sherwood Forest (where she was stood up by Robin Hood) and exploring the Alphabet Garden. The Alphabet Garden was so cute, I talked myself into making our own this spring. Oh, what fun! I’m looking forward to taking her back next time we’re up north.

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E and dada

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E in alphabet garden

E as Maid Marian

E watching pondE smiling by pondThat just about sums up our fun adventures in Sacramento this fall. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving vacation spending time with family and friends and a surprisingly pleasant road trip (despite the twelve hour drive home with a nap deprived tot). I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Next up, CHRISTMAS!!!

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pumpkin cream cheese streusel bars

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This not so little piece of heaven is what I am eating right this very moment. Two seconds after posting this picture I thought it would be best to confirm the rich, creamy, sugary yumminess of these pumpkin cream cheese streusel bars before preaching that they are in fact divine. I am now taking a short break to return to the kitchen to collect one more just to be sure. Yep, divinity confirmed.

The whole household has been under the weather the past few days and since I am totally over chicken noodle soup I decided to whip up a plate of these bad boys to lift our spirits (baby excluded). With Thanksgiving only TWO weeks away, this recipe is the perfect holiday breakfast or dessert to share with those you are thankful for.

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All hail the Maid of Orleans

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A few months ago, my one year old daughter approached me and asked, “mama, mama this Halloween can I be one of the greatest female military leaders of all time?” It was the damnedest thing I’d ever heard. She mentioned that the national heroine of France she had in mind led the French Army to victory over the British at the age of 18 during the Hundred Years’ War. Although she was captured and burned by the British as a heretic, she was canonized as a saint years later. Given that All Hallows’ Eve is the night before All Saints’ Day, I thought it fitting for E to suit up for her big debut as Joan of Arc.

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Okay, so I may have embellished the truth just a bit about my daughter’s ability to speak in full sentences but the “ooooohhh woooowww” I received after she inspected each and every sequin of her blinged out armor verified that she approved of my costume decision. The inspiration for this hardcore toddler’s get-up came from my love of 80’s film and I felt an homage to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure was Halloween appropriate. Clearly, if she can command a French army, she has no need for sidekicks but that wont stop my husband from dressing as Theodore “Ted” Logan or me as Billy the Kid. Hello, I live for themes!

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Perhaps I have a slightly bizarre sense of humor when it comes to infant and toddler Halloween costumes but until she can in fact tell me in her own words who or what she’d like to be, I’m the boss. I thought it was going to be pretty tough to top last years Wednesday Addams costume but with the combination of her sassy, take charge attitude and spunky personality and my mom’s sewing skills, I think we nailed it.

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Wishing everyone a safe and Happy Halloween!

What a difference a year makes—

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*No brush fires were started, no babies were placed in danger and no famous French Cathedrals were visited for the purpose of this photo shoot.:)

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Pumpkins and Hayrides and Cider, Oh My!

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Some of my fondest memories as a child were the family outings we would take every year during the fall to Apple Hill, the most charming collection of ranches located just about half way between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe. The epicenter of family fun, this place was filled with apple farms, pumpkins, flowers, bake shops, face painting, pony rides, petting zoos, wagon rides, hay-bale mazes…you name it, they had it and as kids, we couldn’t get enough.

Now that I am grown with a baby of my own, I am making new memories out of old family traditions and this weekend’s outing to Julian Mining Co. was a wonderfully nostalgic trip down memory lane. Julian is a historic gold-mining, apple-picking, cider drinkin’ kind of town just an hour east of San Diego, making it the perfect getaway destination for antsy road-trippers that measure about two and a half feet tall.

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We purchased a package deal which included access to the hayride, cider-press, petting zoo and pumpkin patch and sold for $9 per adult and $7 per child, with babies getting in for free. For older kids, there is a gold and gem mining station and a tomahawk throwing center which seemed to be the most popular attraction (uh, duh).

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Out of all the activities offered, my little pumpkin was most interested in finding a little pumpkin of her own so to the pumpkin patch we went. I can’t even begin to describe how fun it was to watch her explore and take it all in. Such a confident, independent and adventurous little girl she has become with an insane amount of energy, curiosity and a flair for the dramatic. Bye-bye baby, hello toddler!

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My favorite attraction was a gruesome 380 foot walk to Julian Hard Cider (brilliantly planned). To my beer-brewing husband’s misfortune, beer is an acquired taste that I never acquired but cider is a completely different story. I’m assuming it has everything to do with the composition. To hops, barley and grains I say no thank you but apple juice, yes please! Their lovely flight of five hard ciders for $5 included a delicious selection of apple, cherry, black and blue, apple pie and raspberry cider which I was kind enough to split with my husband. My favorite was the apple pie, better than any apple pie I’ve ever made and sure to please both beer and non-beer drinkers alike.

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If none of these attractions excite you, perhaps the cutest, sweetest, most ridiculously perfect boutique, Mini & Me, located just outside of Julian Hard Cider will do the trick. If you love fashion, home decor and all things baby than you might want to do yourself a favor and stop by to take a peek!

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sweet potato, ricotta and honey mini muffins

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The only thing I love more than muffins is mini muffins! They are such a quick, easy, and (in this case) nutritious any-time treat for my one year old daughter who doesn’t have time for sit-down meals. She’s a toddler on-the-go with a million and one things to destroy any given day and these bite-sized, sweet potato, ricotta and honey mini muffins give her the perfect recharge she needs to get the job done. Whether she’s “cleaning” out the tupperware drawer or “reorganizing” the bookshelf, these minis allow her to multi-task like a pro.

Sweet potatoes and cheese are two staples we always have on hand at our house because my little one requests them daily so putting the two together seemed like a win, win. The combination of sweet potato and ricotta cheese makes these muffins extra light and airy while the honey, brown sugar and spices add just the right amount of sweetness for a petite little critic with a picky palate.

One happy toddler makes one happy mama.

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Sweet Potato-Ricotta-Honey Mini Muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup sweet potato puree, cooked *
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease mini muffin tins to prevent sticking. In a large bowl whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Add sugar, whisk and set aside.

In a medium bowl mix ricotta, sweet potato puree, applesauce, honey and milk.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir just until combined.

Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake 15-16 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

-makes about 36 mini muffins

*To make sweet potato puree, wrap sweet potatoes in foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for one hour, allow to cool, peel and then mash until smooth.

-if your babe is under the age of one and you wish to try these, simply omit the honey from the recipe.

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pumpkin whoopie pies with maple-marshmallow cream filling…welcome, fall!

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What better way to welcome autumn than by baking up a delicious batch of these pumpkin whoopie pies with maple-marshmallow cream?! Yes, I said maple-marshmallow cream! The name alone makes my mouth water. The light, airy texture of these looks like a cookie, tastes like a cake treats coupled with a creamy, sweet filling  makes this recipe a go-to favorite any time of year.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I tend to make my pies whopper-sized, cutting down the amount to about twelve but hey, go big or go home, right? While the temperature here in sunny San Diego says summer, I’m happy to report my kitchen sure smells like fall!

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I will also note that a trip to the Sugar Shack in Arlington, VT awhile back has left me with fully stocked cabinets of some mighty fine pure maple cream. It was just begging to be used so I added a bit to the filling for some extra maple goodness!

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