Archive | lifestyle

happy birthday, adam!

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oh man, it’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since my little dude was born! i still remember the day we brought him into this world as if it were yesterday. but here we are, celebrating our little one-year-old boy. i’ve never been one to get into party-planning, i hate celebrating my own birthday, and even decided to forgo a baby shower before adam was born. but obviously, i changed my tune when it came to celebrating the big number one! i still wanted to keep things simple, but i also wanted it to be special. so after much hemming and hawing, i decided to rent a cute little cottage in the mountains for the weekend, so we could have a few days to celebrate. my mom and sister came with me and we made all of the decorations by hand. and on the big day, we served tacos hot off the grill, and i decorated a bunch of tiny cakes just for the occasion. we sang happy birthday, and adam cried when everyone applauded, but quickly changed his tune when we gave him his smash cake, which he very delicately broke into. and when it was time to open presents, he squealed with delight over each and every gift. it really was a great show. i am so happy that it went off without a hitch, we survived the stress of it all, and were able to enjoy celebrating adam’s first year with family. so here’s to many more birthdays to come!

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#passthebag: donate clothes to benefit schools!

and just like that, it’s 2015! we had a nice few days off to enjoy with our little family, but now it’s back to the grind. we’ve been cleaning the house and clearing out all of our christmas decorations to embrace the new year with a clean slate. adam has gone through yet another growth spurt, so we’ve been sorting through his clothes and saying goodbye to the last of his little onesies. he’ll be one year in just a week, but he’s already wearing toddler sizes! i was getting ready to drop them off at the local thrift store when schoola contacted me and asked if i’d be interested in donating some of our gently used kids’ clothes as part of their #passthebag campaign to generate funds for schools. if you’re not familiar with the site, schoola is an online, gently-used clothing retailer selling kid’s clothing, sizes 1 year and up (and will be introducing a women’s clothing category late this year). all the clothes they sell are donated by parents, and $2 out of every $5 spent on the site goes right back to schools!

here’s how it works:

step 1: go to schoola and request a donation bag.
step 2: once the bag arrives, fill it with gently-used children’s or women’s clothes, and send it in for the benefit of your child’s school.
step 3: challenge at least 3 friends or family members to do the same by posting on facebook, twitter, or instagram and using the hashtag #passthebag.

adam helped me pick a few items to send in, which will soon be for sale on the site. so now it’s our turn to #passthebag! i’ll be nominating a few friends on instagram later today!



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the year in review: things i made

hard to believe it, but i’ve been writing this blog since december of 2008, which means i’ve just celebrated 6 years as a blogger. and for most of that time, it’s been pretty exclusively about my personal style and forays into fashion. but 2014 was a year of firsts, and i finally opened up a little and shared some of my interests outside of fashion. true, some of it was fashion-related, like my adventures trying out indigo dye and making baby-friendly jewelry. but i also started food blogging including a family recipe series for the holidays. i even shared an easy bath salt diy.

at first, i was pretty anxious about sharing something new because blogging about anything other than my outfits was kinda out of my comfort zone, but i’m really glad i gave it a try. working on projects like these can be really therapeutic for me, and they help me to break free from the sometimes monotonous routine of staying home to take care of the baby. i definitely plan to continue this trend, and i’m especially excited to finally start sharing some glimpses inside my home as i work on our interior decor! and i would love to start talking a little bit more about my adventures in parenting as well. so here’s to many more fun lifestyle posts in 2015!




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family recipes: tamales

one of our longest-standing holiday traditions is for the whole family to get together to make a big batch of tamales for christmas. in fact, i can’t even imagine a christmas without warm tamales on the table. the process for making them can be pretty labor intensive, so i’m sharing an abbreviated version for the latest post in my family recipe series. you can make the masa from scratch, but i usually just buy it already prepared from the local panaderia. and when it comes to fillings, there really are no rules. i’m sharing this classic vegetarian version because it’s simple and tasty, but the options are limitless. you could try adding potatoes, pumpkin, corn, or carrots. and when it comes to meat, i usually prepare a pork filling with a red chile sauce.

chile and cheese tamales yields about 6 dozen

corn husks soaked in water until soft
15 lbs masa preparada
2 lbs jack cheese cut into strips
roasted anaheim chiles with the skin, stem, and seeds removed
green chile sauce (you can make your own or simply buy a canned variety from the grocery store from brands like herdez or hatch)

the best way to do this is to convince a few friends or family members to join in, then gather all of the prepared ingredients in a little assembly line! with a butter knife or thin spatula, you’re going to spread a thin, even layer of masa across the smooth side of the corn husk about 1/4″ thick, leaving a couple of inches on one end. this is kind of hard to describe with just words, so i have added plenty of photos to illustrate what this looks like. then, add your filling. in this case, we place the stick of cheese inside the chile, then top it off with a spoonful of green chile sauce. then wrap it up like a little burrito, folding up the bottom end to seal it. this is not the only way to wrap tamales, but this is the way we do it in our family. some people cut strips of corn husks and use them to tie off one or both ends. it’s really up to you.  from there, place the tamale upright in a steamer pot. once you’ve filled the pot, put them on a low boil to steam for about 1.5 hours. you’ll know they’re ready when the masa becomes slightly firm to the touch.




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wherever i wander

Over the weekend, I decided to take advantage of the unseasonably warm California winter weather by borrowing my dad’s vintage Alfa Romeo for a little spin. I should preface this by saying that I don’t have a ton of leisure time because when I’m not busy with Adam during the week, I’m cramming in as much work as possible into the weekends. My Saturday mornings are most often spent tethered to my computer for hours on end, editing photos, writing blog posts, answering emails, and working on freelance gigs. I count myself as lucky because I’m able to do what I love, but I certainly wouldn’t mind a little more fresh air once in a while. So of course, when HP & Intel asked if I’d like try out the new HP Stream 8 Tablet with Intel Inside®, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to get out of the house and into the world again.

I have to admit that before now, I hadn’t gotten on the tablet bandwagon before. Call me old-fashioned, but I usually get all of my work done on a regular desktop computer. So I might have been a little more excited than the average person to discover all of the features you can get on these things. HP Stream is a new kind of tablet with Intel Inside®, and one of the more intriguing features is that all of the HP Stream products include a free 4G data plan for life. They also include Office 365 (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Access) along with 1TB of free cloud storage for one year. Did I mention that the tablets run on the Windows operating system? They essentially operate like a mini desktop computer with Intel Inside® for lightning fast performance. Clearly I am behind on the times because I did not know that mobile technology had come this far.

Needless to say, I’ve been having a lot of fun zipping around town in my dad’s car, toting around my tablet and setting up my own little workspace wherever I wander. I’ve been going off on vintage shopping excursions, scouting new photo shoot locations, and just getting out of the house and getting inspired. I’m still working, but now I’m free to work from my happy place.



This post was written in collaboration with HP & Intel. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make this blog possible!

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making memories

over the weekend, we made the first of our annual trips to the christmas tree farm as a family. which was really just a glorified trip to the petting zoo. adam doesn’t care about christmas trees or presents, and he’s absolutely terrified of the man in a santa costume, but he can not get enough of the petting zoo.

i know he’s too young to remember these moments, but i certainly won’t forget them any time soon. and it’s really got me thinking about all of the family traditions we will get to create together over the years. oh man, parenthood has turned me into a big ol’ sappy mess! insert happy crying emoji here.

adam is wearing the most adorable cat shirt that we received as a gift from electric collective, a handmade cycling cap from niko’s naptime, sweater by neige , and osh kosh jeans.



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family recipes: mexican hot chocolate

i’m kinda cheating with this latest post in my family recipe series because even though we grew up drinking mexican hot chocolate, we never actually made it from scratch. our real “recipe” would normally consist of buying up a box of abuelita from the grocery store, chopping up a few cubes, and whisking it into some warm milk in a saucepan. there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing just that, but over the weekend, my sister and i decided to try out our own “healthy” rendition of this childhood favorite.

“healthy” mexican hot chocolate

2 cups milk or milk-alternative of your choice
2 – 3 tablespoons raw cacao powder*
2 – 3 tablespoons maple syrup or agave
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of sea salt

simply pour all of the ingredients into a saucepan on medium heat and whisk until warm! for this recipe, i really like using an almond/coconut milk blend, but if you wanted something really rich and creamy, then go for whole milk. we also tried adding various other spices beyond just cinnamon, but found that if you start adding things like nutmeg and cloves, it really starts to taste more like pumpkin spice. that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but after tinkering with the recipe quite a bit, i personally prefer to keep it simple.

*a note about the cacao: we tried this with unsweetened bakers cocoa and it just did not taste like the mexican hot chocolate we grew up drinking. i think that using real, raw cacao powder (or nibs that have been ground to a powder in a food processor) is the most important element of this recipe. it’s what will give you that strong, slightly bitter flavor that is associated with the drink.

oh, and i think i may have cancelled out the healthy part of this recipe but adding a big dollop of homemade whipped cream. you gotta live a little, right?

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a scene from last week

i caught a few snapshots of adam with his great-grandparents when they came over for albondigas last week! it is such a special treat to be able to watch him interact with them, he really does have a special bond with them.


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family recipes: albondigas soup

it’s the time of year to celebrate family, so i’ve decided to share some of my favorite family recipes for the month of december. i grew up on mexican food, with all of the recipes being handed down from generation to generation on my mother’s side. and as soon as the weather gets chilly, we all start craving a pot of caldo (soup) to warm our bones. albondigas (meatball) soup is one of my ultimate comfort foods. in fact, after adam was born earlier this year, i asked my mom make a giant pot for me, and it was literally the only thing i ate for at least a week after i got home from the hospital. i just didn’t have the stomach for anything else. she would serve me a warm bowl of soup with a rolled up tortilla, and i would be in heaven.

last week was grey and rainy, so it was the perfect time for us to practice our family recipe. my sister and i made a big pot of soup under my grandmother’s supervision so that we could share the recipe with you. mind you, this is a recipe that we’ve all committed to memory, we eyeball the measurements for all the ingredients, and each of us tweaks the recipe to our own personal taste. there really are no rules, especially when it comes to making soup! i’m offering you the base for how we make it in our family, but feel free to add or subtract whatever ingredients you prefer.

albondigas soup

for the meatballs

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup brown rice
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped mint
garlic salt, pepper, and cumin to taste

for the soup

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup rice
1 tbsp crushed garlic
cumin to taste
3 cups vegetable stock
3 cups of water
1 small can of tomato sauce
2 cups cubed red or yellow potatoes
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
green beans or any other vegetable you prefer!

garnish (to taste)

cilantro
green onions, chopped
oregano

after prepping all of your veggies and meatballs, coat the bottom of a large pot with a thin layer of olive oil. saute onions until translucent, then add crushed garlic and saute for another minute before adding the cumin. finishe sauteing for another minute, then add the vegetable stock, water, and tomato sauce, and bring to a boil.

once the soup is boiling, carefully drop in the meatballs. let boil for about a minute before adding in the vegetables. reduce heat and allow the soup to simmer until all of the ingredients are tender, about 30 minutes.

serve with cilantro, green onions, and oregano to taste. then warm a tortilla and enjoy!






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handmade holiday: soaking salts and milk baths

the holidays can be stressful, you guys. every year, i feel totally chill– until the day after thanksgiving, when i suddenly realize that i have about a million gifts to give, and my already monumental to-do list seems to quadruple in size. add a baby to the mix, and i can become a bit of a scrooge. but this year, instead of allowing myself to become overwhelmed, i decided to simplify. instead of trying to fight the holiday crowds over silly little trinkets, i decided to partake in a handmade holiday. yes, i still have plenty of holiday shopping to do, but making the bulk of my gifts has already lightened the load tremendously. so over the next couple of weeks, i’ll be sharing some of the holiday diy projects that i’ve been making along with the help of my sister.

first up, a collection of luxurious milk baths and soaking salts. since having the baby, i’ve been making an effort to set aside some chill-out time to soak in the bath about once a week, so i already have my own little stockpile of soaking ingredients in my cabinet! they can all be found at your local health food store, and the recipes are really simple, with many of the ingredients being easily interchangeable. the only real investment comes in the form of the essential oils. some bottles run upwards of $25 a pop, but you only use a few drops of each, so there will be plenty leftover for your own concoctions. plus, the act of simply slowing down and making something was rather therapeutic, and felt a lot more meaningful to me. probably because making these soaks is basically one big aromatherapy session in itself!


the shopping list

pink himalayan sea salt
pink sea salt
red hawaiian sea salt
grey celtic sea salt
epsom salt
baking soda
powdered coconut milk
powdered buttermilk
powdered honey
essential oils (i used vanilla, lavender, ylang ylang, grapefruit, orange, and a “relaxation blend”)

soaking salts

1 cup sea salt
1/2 cup epsom salt
1/4 cup part baking soda
5 – 6 drops of essential oil

i should probably start out by saying that you don’t need to get himalayan pink or celtic grey salt for these. i think they are said to have special therapeutic properties, and that may be true, but i mostly went with them because they come in pretty colors. regular old sea salt and epsom salts will still do the trick. my personal favorite mix of essential oils? lavender, grapefruit, and ylang ylang.

milk bath

1 1/2 cups powdered milk
1/4 cup powdered honey
1/4 cup epsom salt
5 – 6 drops of essential oil

for this recipe, we tried two different soaks, one made with coconut milk and the other made with buttermilk. the coconut milk obviously has a very strong coconut scent, so we mixed in some vanilla to compliment it. the end result basically smells like cookies. the buttermilk is more neutral, so this one is a good option if you want to use essential oils that might not go as well with coconut. we mixed it with grapefruit, orange, and vanilla.

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