Archive | family

two years

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my little baby is two years old! we celebrated the big day at home with family, nothing too big this year. having a birthday so shortly after the holidays can be a little overwhelming, so i think i’m gonna have to learn how to better incorporate the planning in with everything else that goes on during the end of the year. and what’s even more, my own birthday is merely nine days away! thankfully, i’m a grown-up that doesn’t want or need much of a celebration. but i hope that as adam grows older, he’ll have fond memories of his birthday parties. he’s to young to remember this one, but i will certainly never forget just how much he enjoyed the day. he was cool and calm all day long, he oohed and aahed for every single gift, and at the end of the day, he asked if he could eat cake in bed and requested to bring a balloon into the bedroom. and he fell asleep singing happy birthday to adam, haha. it was really sweet to watch, and even though i’m not a very sappy person, i couldn’t help but get a little sentimental thinking about his life and how much joy he’s brought into our home in a matter of just two short years. here’s to many more!

ooh, and if you’re curious, we got the happy birthday plates, harlequin pattern napkins, and happy birthday garland from meri meri. i ordered some party hats that inexplicably didn’t arrive in the package, but the rest of the decorations were delightful. i got the cakes from a local bakery, martha green’s, and requested for them without piping or decorations so that i could add rainbow sprinkles at home. oh, and yes, that is a photo of me holding a giant burrito. we got them from a local favorite, rosa maria’s. i’ve always wanted to get one of their giant party-sized burritos, although i will admit that there are logistical challenges to eating said burrito once it’s been cut into slices!

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the little baker boy

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it’s christmas, and we’re all feeling comfy and cozy, enjoying this chilly southern california winter. the other day was particularly grey and rainy, so we stuck to indoor activities and decided to bake sugar cookies from scratch. fortunately for us, we just received the most adorable little kid’s apron set by odette williams, which turned out to be the perfect accessory for our activity of the day! like most toddlers, adam is obsessed with doing everything he sees his parents do, especially in the kitchen. brendan washes dishes most mornings before heading off to work, and adam often wakes up requesting to help his daddy! and you know he was ready to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty when i started mixing cookie dough. i set up a little work station for him to experiment with rolling out the dough and using a cookie cutter!

i’ve mentioned it here and there before, but i’m a certified pastry chef. before i became a blogger, i was actually a professional cake decorator. i still don’t know why i don’t show off my baking chops more often on the blog, but perhaps with adam’s help, we’ll share more of our culinary adventures in the new year. baking with a kid can be a test of patience, but it’s so rewarding to give them the opportunity to try something new and to truly feel like they’re contributing and collaborating with you. especially during such a special time of year.

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makr cards for christmas!

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this time of year, i haven’t had much time for anything other than holiday prep – and i’m not complaining! i mentioned it in another post, but having a kid around during the holidays makes everything just a little more delightful. seeing the way adam’s eyes light up when we set up the tree, or watching him react to all of the silly christmas decor is enough to make me melt into a big sappy puddle. we’re even sending out christmas cards this year, which i have never ever done in all of my life. but when makr asked us if we’d like to partner up to try out their service, i was totally on board. and you bet i pulled up our cheesiest family portrait just for the occasion. i know that all of our aunts and uncles and distant relatives will be delighted to see our little family, and to hear about our new addition to arrive early next year!

i ordered the happy holidays pack, which includes a set of cards that you can customize front and back, along with little matching gift tags! the tags came in handy because i’d already put together my own little hot cocoa recipe to send as gifts for friends and family who live in faraway places. and i had a lot of fun putting together a customized calendar using pictures of adam throughout the last year. but of course, who could resist our silly little family portrait? it’s very rare that we pose like that, but looking back, i’m glad we did it at least one time this past year so that we’ll have a little token of our memories as time goes by.

get 20% off your holiday pack order via makr.co with code “CALI” now through 1/31/16!

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this post was sponsored by makr.

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blurb books for the holidays

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’tis the season, you guys! in some years past, i’ve been known to be a little bit of a scrooge, but having a baby has really changed my perspective on the holidays. children have this way of making the holidays magic. and this year, i’m really excited to have had the opportunity to partner with blurb books to create customized photo books to give as gifts to some of my closest relatives. adam’s grandparents and great-grandparents are always pestering me for more photos of adam, so i know that these little books will bring them lots of joy. i have to admit, even i got a little teary-eyed when the package came in the mail and i flipped through the images of adam over the past two years. i arranged the book in reverse chronological order, so as you turn the pages, you watch him transform from a rambunctious toddler to a squishy little baby to the very day he was born. it’s kind of fun to get lost in memories as you reminisce further back in time to days not so long ago, but forever in your memories.

and the best part is that the entire process was totally painless. the books are completely customizable, but virtually foolproof. i get completely overwhelmed by projects like this, but i was able to do the whole thing online. you can start by choosing a book size, pick from a few different style options, and then simply upload your photos and insert text wherever you desire. my hard drive is currently a mess, so i was happy to see the option to pull all of your images directly from your instagram account. and that’s pretty much it! of course, if you happen to be a design pro, then there are also a lot of other options for publishing your book, but i definitely like that you can keep it simple, and still come away with a really beautiful book.

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this post was created in collaboration with blurb books.

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summertime

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they say that memorial day marks the first unofficial day of summer. we’ve had a couple weeks of unseasonably gloomy weather so far, but the sun has finally decided to come out and play. so of course, we’re celebrating with a tiny kiddie pool in the backyard. i haven’t had a backyard since i was a kid living at home, so it’s been a fun realization that i can just step out into my own little area when the weather is nice. adam is obsessed with his pool and usually makes a beeline for the hose every time we go out, requesting, “awa awa awa.” (we taught him agua instead of water.) i foresee a lot of this in our future.

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fifteen months

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today is adam’s fifteen month birthday! so i thought i’d share a few photos we snapped last weekend on easter. apparently my grandpa got a little overexcited about the event and decided that he wanted to build a sandbox for adam. my grandma had to convince him to settle on something store bought, so they spent the entire week prior shipping around for the perfect sandbox. unfortunately, it’s more of a seasonal item, so they had to settle on the iconic plastic turtle. which, might i add, was perfect. i’m merely retelling the tale of their hunt!

so of course, it was a big event to watch him discover the contents of his bucket and eventually play in the sand. and adam was outfitted in this dandy little look for the day. the shirt, shorts, and sunhat were all a gift from egg by susan lazar, and the shoes are a classic pair of saltwater sandals.

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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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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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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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