I adore Easter decor and wanted to try something a little different with my table this year for Easter brunch. I found this fun floral Kate Spade table cloth and black and tan striped runner and ran with it! I layered the two linens with sweet bunny place mats and added blush pink linen napkins to adorable wooden bunny napkin rings. For place settings, I layered my favorite rattan chargers with classic white beaded dinner and salad plate. To top the setting, I added blush crystal coupe glasses filled with gold foiled eggs ( tutorial here) . I love mixing metals and added gold flatware to my galvanized metal peices for a chic touch. Next, I gathered straw reeds from a field nearby our house and created a simple center piece with an oversized galvanized bucket. Our brunch menu will include all sorts of yummy treats including waffles and my favorite frittata. I added some cranberry orange scones to a blush crystal basket. I fell in love with this metal and wood, wheelbarrow salad bowl. I just think it's the cutest little addition. I layered a variety of bagels on a scalloped metal cake stand for some height contrast. I find with creating a table space you want to keep an eye on your heights and make sure to have a variety to make the table interesting. For an extra Easter touch, I added the cutest little straw bunny.
I was having a interesting conversation with a friend the other day about spending. What we each choose to spend our money on and what our habits are. As I get into my mid 30's I've started cutting back on my spending and focusing on the bigger picture when it comes to money. Thankfully, Erik has a wonderful career and my biz has been very good to me over the last 10 years but it's never to early to be more frugal. Also I find that the things that I want are always more $$ than I have. #adulting Over the last year, I've starting making small adjustments on my spending habits and tweaking my spending to put more away towards bigger projects or goals. Here are some small changes I've made that have created to put roughly $400 back in my pocket each month!
Do my own nails- sounds not that fun right? I know but hear me out! I work in the beauty industry and my nails needs to be done or looking clean at all times. I found that a. I don't care that much and b. I was spending around $60 a month on nail maintenance with my gel manicures and regular pedicures. No more!!!! Now I plop myself down in front of my favorite show at night and give myself a little mani pedi when I need it. I've collected about 10 nail polishes to cover all seasons and get it done. Total savings per month: $60
Make coffee at home-I actually prefer sipping my coffee at home during the week but was making a habit on weekends ( my work days) of grabbing a latte and protein box before work. That would add up to be about $8 each week at least. $16 if I was doing it both Saturday and Sunday. Now I brew my favorite coffee, add my almond milk and sweetener, healthy preplanned breakfast and off I go. I don't have to fret about waiting in the drivethru line and I that money goes straight towards other things. Total savings per month: $32 ( $8 a week)
Stop drinking during week- Erik and I made a rule of no more drinking and man has it changed out spending. This was a surprise one to be honest. Erik never cared about his wine being nicer but I acquired a taste for a middle of the road costing wine. We don't drink now outside of the occasionally date night or getaway and are saving roughly $45 a week just by not drinking. Whaaaa????? Total savings per month: $180
Cut fresh flowers from my own yard- I love fresh flowers in the house. There is nothing more cheery than a vase full of blooms on the kitchen table. I would gather about $12 worth of pretty stems from Trader Joes about twice a month for around the house. Since Spring is upon us, it's the perfect time to spend that $12 on potted blooms for our yard or porch. I now can plant my favorites and enjoy them whenever I want. Total savings per month: $24
Batch meal-I'm not a fast food person but my hubby is. I live for a grocery list and my hubby likes to walk the aisles for options. I CANT! So I made him a deal, if I batch meal for the week for us will he cut down on his eating out and extra grocery trips. If I'm batching for myself, whats it to me to make double portion? Nothing! I budget around $150-$200 on groceries per week which feeds the 4 of us breakfast, lunch and dinner for 6 days. The 7th day we usually go out as a family. Some of our go to's are tuna or chicken salad with pita chips for after school snacks, Spagetti, Burrito bowls and Tacos. I always try and utilize our local produce stand for our veggies to save major bucks. I can only get away with that budget because I meal plan and make a list like a machine! I get us all organized on Monday's and we are good to go! Total savings per month: $75
Comb through my subscriptions- I started combing through my bank statements and noticed a handful of subscriptions I've gathered over the last couple years. Yes YEARS I've been paying $3.99 here and $9.99 there for services that we don't use! NOOOO! When I totaled them up I was spending about $30 on nothing! Just throwing it out the window! Needless to say I cancelled those lingering things that I just didn't need and wasn't using and can put that towards something actually I will use! Total savings per month: $30
You all know I've been itching for a getaway with my hunny. I cashed in on my Christmas gift and we booked a quick overnighter to Palm Springs. I had never stayed at The Saguaro and it looked like the perfect spot for some fun and sun! Erik and I haven't been out of town just us two in three years. This mama was EXCITED! I had outfits all situated and checked out all the yummy eats around the area. I was ready!
At check in, we were welcomed with our choice of Hibiscus Margaritas or Bloody Mary's. YEP! First things first, we ventured out to catch the last of the sunshine at the pool and sip our drinks. They were featuring a "Valley of the Dolls" on the lawn for a fun movie night. I love a movie night! We planted ourselves next to the fire pits and had the best time under the stars.
The next morning we made our way over the Norma's at The Parker for brunch. I had heard their Lemon Ricotta pancakes were beyond delish so I was on a mission. If you follow my stories you saw this adorable jumpsuit before our trip. I love the ease of a jumpsuit. I paired my straw hat, striped bauble earrings and white sunglasses with the pinstriped suit. The tie front makes it a little extra feminine. I later topped the casual look with a denim jacket.
The pancakes were the best I've ever had! Erik got the egg and bacon quesadilla. The portion was huge but I never wanted to stop eating them. They were just the slightest bit lemony and so fluffy!
After finishing up our amazing breakfast we plopped ourselves by the pool for the rest of the day. I chose my favorite bright pink off the shoulder suit and wrapped a scarf around my waist for some coverage. I love the retro feel of white sunglasses, pom pom tote and an oversized hat to add fun to my pool outfit.
Erik and I aren't really big gift givers so Valentine's gifts are really nonexistent most of the time. I always love time together or a simple dinner at home with the girls. I know Vday is usually splashed with jewelry and flowers. I have never been a huge jewelry person and really love simple classic pieces that are timeless and have some meaning. Now give me some chocolates and we are talking another story.
When I came across this Jord watch I fell in love immediately. I planned to give it to my hubby as a little surprise for Vday but the wood watch was just too gorgeous that I stole it for myself. I loved it's classic frame and nautical feel with the wood frame. You know I live for that timeless, coastal feel. The design is so unique yet still feels lux. The part that stole my heart is the watch personalization option. I had it enscribed with my favorite verse. Jeremiah 29: 11. I know this is a very popular verse but it bears repeating. "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. So good right?! I chose this message because I feel like time moves so fast. We all find ourselves rushing through our time, hurriedly to the next thing on our to do list. Worrying about having enough time with our babies before they grow older. Spending quality time wiht our spouses. My whole life revolves around time and how to best lay it out each day. Such a silly thing to fret about when God already knows our plans. He has our whole life planned and all for good. It's my favorite reminder to relinquish my stress about time and let God take it.
I feel like this is the perfect gift not only for your spouse but for yourself if you are single! The styles are unisex and are so versatile.
Just in time for Valentine's day, I've partnered with Jord to giveaway $100 code towards a Jord watch of your choosing!
Here are all the details on how to enter!
Giveaway link: https://www.jordwatches.com/g/lifewithlipstick
The giveaway will close February 9th at 11:59pm. As a reminder, winner receives $100 Coupon Code. All other entrants receive a 10% off Coupon Code. The $100 and 10% off Coupon Codes will expire February 23rd.
It's time to pick out that perfect red dress for Vday! I've rounded up all my favorites in all the styles. We have off the shoulder, frilly lace options and comfy shift dresses.
Valentine's day is almost here! I decided to invite some of my favorite ladies over for a little celebration of my love for them with a Galentine's lunch. I am so blessed to be surrounded by such special, smart, kind and amazing women. They inspire me daily! I wanted to make sure I was able to love on them as they have loved on me!
I started my table with a girly color palette of pinks, blue and yellow. I layered my table with a Hearth and Hand striped table runner and pieces like sweet bud vases, drinking glasses and striped pitchers from the newest Hearth and Hand Spring collection. I filled each vessel with different fluffy roses. I added little sweet treats to heart shaped ramekins and added my favorite Chandon Rose Mini's for some festive bubbles.
For our place settings, I layered simple blue and white placemats, straw chargers and pretty coral Hearth and Hand hand towels as napkins. Next, I added crisp white chargers and dinner plates and topped the setting with beautiful floral china. I received these beautiful dishes as a wedding shower gift and I still feel like they are the prettiest addition to the table. Goes to show that you can incorporate any piece into a setting and make it feel fresh and new.
I added little notes on each setting for each of my friends sharing three of my most favorite things about them. Nothing like a love note to cap off a girly lunch!
I am so giddy to be heading to Palm Springs with my guy next month! We used to make this our annual trip and haven't been able to make it happen for a couple years now. I booked us at The Saguaro which I have never stayed at before. I love the bright, retro vibe of the hotel and can't wait to lounge poolside all day! So excited! Of course, my outfit situation is in full force! I can't take a mini vacay without an outfit!!
Here's what my overnight bag will be holding! I like to keep my packing really simple when we travel. I wash and wear my hair on most days or blast it with dry shampoo. Throw on sunnies add a little color to my cheeks and hit the pool. I have officially embraced my one piece life and love a good bright swimsuit for a day at the pool. Erik and I like to keep our dinners out simple. We like to walk to a new restaurant or explore after eating. A comfy sundress and slides makes for the perfect evening outfit.
When Serena and Lily reached out to collaborate on a bedding project the timing just couldn’t have been more perfect. Not to mention Serena and Lily is my all time favorite brand. My master bedroom needed some sprucing. As I poured over bedding textures and patterns I fell in love with so many pieces. The thing I love about Serena and Lily is how their designs flood life and energy into each room but still has a sophisticated, relaxed feel. I strongly believe a bedroom is where you shut out the noise of the world. It’s that intimate space in a home where you put your thoughts to rest and bring peace to your mind.
Tips for revamping your bedding:
-Be aware of scale of patterns. Keep a small and larger pattern together.
-Trust your gut. You know what makes you happy.
-Keep in mind the other people that share this space. Not too flowery ladies! Give your men a little bit of a masculine feel in your choices.
-Stick with a color pallet of three colors or three different shades of one color to not overwhelm.
-Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box in terms of pattern and texture mixing.
I love the Chambers pattern and wanted to tie it back in with three large Euro size pillows against the headboard. Against our dark wood frame the white feels so crisp and ties into the quilt. Next, I layered the Two Tone Zip pillows. The zipper detail on these pillows had me at hello. This is where I was able to bring in some masculine details and add some subtle sophistication to the light and airy sheets and quilt. I topped off the pillows with the Whitley Embroidered Midnight pillow.
To add another layer of texture and bring in one more pattern, I added the Avery throw in the Harbor blue tone. This throw is so luxe! It adds another rich blue tone and completes the whole bedding just perfectly.
I wanted to bring up the lightness on our dark furniture again and found the perfect compliment in the Tinsley table lamps. The soft bubbled texture adds interest without taking away from the busier bedding.
Before and After
A huge thanks to Serena and Lily for collaborating on this post.
I worked really hard on my skin this past year and am so excited to share with you some of the products that made my skin super happy. We tackled fine lines, melasma, hydration and crows feet majorly this year and I've linked all my finds below!
Disclaimer: while watching this video you will experience a severe amount of jazz hands.
After our super fun New Years Eve party it was time to clean out all the champagne, sweets and pizza from our systems. I have done multiple juice cleanses and love the results of Whole 30 and decided to jump into Tone it Up's 5 day Detox on January 1st. I can't tell you how over the idea I was when we woke up after our fun party and I had to make a clean meal and some batch meals for the week. It ended up being the perfect day to start. We didn't have any plans that day other than puttering around the house and cleaning up.
The whole purpose of the detox was to flush out the toxins and sugars from the last couple months and restart our systems, minds and energy levels. Not to forget our metabolisms. I think mine has been on a break for a bit.
I consider myself to be fairly knowledgable about healthy eating and what our body thrives yet was surprised by two new things I learned. One, is getting plenty of water ( 90 oz. helps not only your body flush itself clean but also helps your muscles recover effectively. Secondly, I learned about the major benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar. APC is essential to keeping lean. I helps control your appetite by maintaining your blood sugar levels. It also is rich in potassium which helps muscle growth. It also is a great anti viral , anti-bacterial and anti-fungal due to its extremely high levels of malic acid. It helps break down fat and not store it. I'm in! So here is what a day of detox looked like:
Breakfast: Morning Mocktail : 8 oz. water, 1 T of apple cider vinegar, juice of half a lemon and pinch of cayenne pepper) I can't at all lie. This is rough to get down but the benefits are beyond important to cleansing your body.
Coffee ( always add a splash of unsweetened almond milk )
Coconut protein pancakes: 1/2 half banana smashed, 1 scoop coconut Tone it Up protein powder ( you could use vanilla too), 1/4 cup egg whites. Wisk together to make batter. If consistency is to thick you can add a little almond milk to thin. I like my batter fairly thick for fluffier pancakes. Spray pan with coconut spray and pour two dollops of batter into pan. Cook on each side until brown. Top with 1/2 cup fresh berries and sprinkle of unsweetened coconut flakes.
Midmorning snack: Sliced apples with sprinkle of cinnamon
Lunch: Lettuce wraps were my favorite easy go to. I would top two lettuce stalks with sliced turkey ( nitrate free and low sodium) chopped veggies ( I love mushrooms, red bell pepper cucumbers and red onion) I would drizzle each wrap with regular or dijon mustard and roll up to eat. So filling and yummy.
Afternoon Snack: Slimming soup ( disclaimer: make this one mid morning so it's ready for the week. One batch can last you for four days.) You will need 2 T olive oil, 4 carrots, 1 inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and sliced, 1 onion, 2 cups veggie broth, 1 cup red lentils, 1 T cumin, 1 T chili powder, 1 T Corriander and pinch of cayenne pepper. Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Add chopped carrots and onion. Cook until onion is translucent or about 3 min. Dump in lentils, spices and broth. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Carefully add half of the soup into a blender and blend until smooth. Repeat with the remainder of the soup. I stored our soup in mason jars so they were easy to transport and eat while on the go.
Spicy Mexican Shrimp bowl- I make this meal often and just tweaked a couple things to fit the detox plan. Add 2 T of olive oil to a pan on high. Toss in 1 1/2 cup cauliflower rice and sauce with my favorite taco seasoning ( 1 T cumin, 1 T chili powder, 1 t garlic powder, 1 t coriander and little pinch of cayenne) Add in chopped bell peppers and half of an onion. Once veggies are cooked through, add about 1 1/2 jump uncooked shrimp. Cook until shrimp is cooked through and pink. I add in a can of organic black beans and stir to warm. Serve warm and top with a little avocado. So yummy you won't miss anything else! This would also be super yummy with ground turkey.
Always after the new year, I get itchy to clean my house. Sort of an early spring cleaning of sorts. This could be a big closet clean out or declutter of my pantry. I have to admit I haven't done either of those things yet but I have done 5 little things that make my house feel fresh and bright. I hope these tips help you start your new year fresh and calm.
1. Open all the windows- my dad has always been so big on getting all the windows open during the day and the lights on at night. We always eye roll when he is bustling through the house opening all the windows. I'm officially becoming my father in my fresh air ways. I absolutely love having all our back doors open and the fresh breeze coming through our windows. I say this because it's 75 degrees in California! Even a little cool winter air can freshen up any space.
2. Lemon in the garbage disposal- age old kitchen trick but always works. Since redoing our kitchen we did replace our garbage disposal but there is nothing like the fresh smell of lemon. I use lemon in my water and through the rinds in and grind them up.
3. Dust your hard to reach spots- you know those spots. The tops of the fan blades, on taller shelves and on top of the fridge. There are a million more places but tackling these make me feel that much more clean at home.
4 Bring in nature- we have a couple monstrous rose bushes on our porch. They are huge and bloom bright pink and purple roses. While I'm a major white rose only person, these gorgeous blooms get brought inside more often than not for a pretty pop of color. If you don't have flowers at home some branches with pretty leaves are always lovely and create interest in a room.
5. Hang tea towels- simple but there is something really pretty to me about tea towels. I love to collect pretty ones on my Home Goods runs and hang then over the oven handle or drape them over our sink. It's just makes me feel fancy somehow.
As I sit and gather pictures for this post my house is still full of glitter and balloons are still floating. We had the best time ringing in the new year with some sweet friends!
If you follow me on Instagram you saw my story about not having much a decor meter. I either go full out and have a whole styled decor situation or I do nothing. Not great at the middle ground. I decided to keep my crazy down to a normal level and do a festive drink station and only a couple other sparkly accents. I love how our little champagne bar turned out!
I wanted to keep the vibe celebratory but super comfy and simple. We had each family wear their comfiest pjs and bring a little something to eat. I put together some sparkly cupcakes and a charcuterie board along with a handful of pizzas and sipped on Chandon.
The kids started the night with a round of Twister while us adults got into my pile of games. I have been really wanting to start hosting game nights so this was the perfect excuse to bust out the games. Us girls broke open What the Meme and the boys joined us for Telestrations, Left Right Center and Cards of Humanity. I had never played Telestrations but it quickly became my favorite! My tummy muscles hurt today from laughing so hard.
We were hoping to pop our poppers and do an early East Coast ball drop to keep it an early night. We quickly ditched the idea of turing in early and kept the fun going until 11:30. I had a handful of poppers for the kids and some super big crackers for us adults. Our house was quickly full of glitter! I have to say it doesn't bother me one bit!
Cheers to you and a sparkly 2018! I can't wait to share new content, videos and travel with you this year!
It's a sparkling fresh new year and time for new goals and dreams! One of my best friends is a major promoter of vision boards. I make pretty thorough goals for myself throughout the year but never have made a vision board. We thought how fun would it be to do our vision boards together and have a couple more of our favorite ladies play too. It became a thing! Goal Gathering! I like a name for get togethers!
We kept our gathering small and intimate with just 4 of us. I put together a Charcuterie board with yummy snacks and we sipped on mini Chandon splits.
A couple of the girls have done intense courses on goal planning for their businesses and helped create a format for both our big goal lists and our vision boards. We broke down the goals into categories.
Here is how it looked:
Family: to encompass anything family or relationship related. This would include family camping trips, quality time with each child, date nights or getaways with your hubby, lunch dates with parents, special notes and coffee dates with friends, etc.
Spiritual: faith based goals like incorporating a daily devotional into your morning routine, attending a women's bible study, making Sunday's a priority to attend church, read faith based books, etc.
Physical: this could be the obvious like getting back to the gym or cleaning up your eating. This category could also be things like bleaching your teeth regularly,trying that new haircut you have been eyeing, doing weekly at home masks or practicing yoga daily.
Educational: this category could be business related or personal development related. I am going to take an official photography class to learn more about my camera. You could make it a goal to go back to school, attend conferences in your field or reading educational books like biographies or biz books.
Business /Work: this category can include your work goals for promotion or even little goals like keeping your office drawers organized regularly.
Material things: this is a bigger category. This would include the material things or projects you are aiming to gain or finish in the year. This category can also include getting debt free or adding to your savings. Some of my material goals this year are to add built ins and a powder room to the house. I also want to create my garden this year.
Then you get to my favorite part! The vision board making! I am super visual person and really get inspired by beauty. We chose our most powerful goals for the year and found inspiring images for each from Pinterest. We all found the most inspiration from pins we have already gathered on our boards. We then used Canva.com templates to upload our images and create our beautiful vision boards.
I hope you are more than inspired throughout the year to attain your goals and dreams! I am a huge goal setter and believe in 1, 5, 10 year goals! I'd love to see your vision boards too! If you create one add it to Instagram and tag me in it! Cheers to a gorgeous 2018!
I love Champagne and can't wait to ring in the new year with my favorite people! In order to pop only the best bubbly correctly, I asked my adorable sorority little sis and champagne professional ( no really!! it's her career! ) Alissa to help me guide you through the best champagne for your 2018 celebration. She rounded up the best champs priced from lowest to highest, gave us the scoop on each selection, food pairing and party tips for how to make sure you are prepared to be the perfect hostess! Don't miss the best champs fun facts at the end! My favorite part!
Domaine Chandon Brut Classic
A great choice if someone is a fan of buying local. This amazing winery was opened by Moet & Chandon in Yountville, CA in the mid 70's. They create their sparkling in exactly the same fashion as it's French Cousins and have a very playful side. Their we bite features cocktail recipes as well as entertaining tips and tricks. They even release special limited edition holiday bottles and this year the bottles were designed by the incredibly talented Rebecca Minkoff
Etoile by Domaine Chandon
Etoile, French for Star, is the Prestige offering from Domaine Chandon. A hugely food friendly sparkling and presented in an exquisite bottle with long neck and simple gold writing. this is an awesome, esoteric offering and one that is splendidly priced for gifting.
Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV
Veuve Clicquot "Yellow Label" Brut
Champagne Ruinart, Blanc de Blancs
Dom Perignon, Blanc Vintage 2009
When selecting your Champagne for this holiday season, it is definitely a good idea to look around for the best price available. Champagne and sparkling are an affordable luxury and if you are going to splurge a little ….. now is the time to do so. From Big box chains, to your local grocery store, to independent wine and spirits shops, and yes even online only stores…. everyone is offering their best foot forward when it comes to pricing and availability this time of year. Some helpful hints and tips: Above is a list of some of the world's most loved bubbles. Including the oldest Champagne house, as well as the very first Sparkling Winery from Napa and of course Champagne Royalty …. KRUG and the beloved Dom Perignon.
When looking for Champagne for your holiday gathering it is a good idea to keep a few things in mind when shopping around on price.
1) Number of people in attendance- each 750ml bottle of Champagne will provide approximately 5-6 glasses. If you are having a small party of 2 or a large gathering of 100 there is a Champagne for you and a size to match. Sizes include individual "mini" bottles in 187ml (Moet & Chandon and Domaine Chandon) "Half Bottles" 375ml (Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Ruinart, KRUG) or Large formats such as the "Magnum" 1.5L or the equivalent to 2 regular 750ml bottles(Domaine Chandon, Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, Dom Perignon, and KRUG)..
2)Who is your audience and what is on the menu?: will your guests be simply toasting to the New Year or do you have a home filled with wine aficionado's? Champagne LOVES food so if your group falls into the later category…. your menu will be a huge help in your selection. If you are having lighter fare such as Turkey, Fish, Vegetarian or Vegan…. a brut or Blancs de Blancs will be the true companion to your spread. Should your menu include items such as red meat, lamb, pork, or items with hearty sauces…. then Rose will truly be the perfect choice to wow your guests whether they be Sommelier's or first time Champagne Sippers.
3) Have FUN! Champagne is a beautiful way to not just celebrate the holidays but the everyday and the people you are with. It is truly unique in that it can be carried from welcome, to appetizers. Main dishes, desserts and of course ringing in the New Year.
- there are approximately 49 million bubbles in a 750ml bottle of Champagne
- Marilyn Monroe is believed to have taken a both in over 350 bottles of Champagne
- There are approximately 100 calories in a single serving of Champagne
- The velocity at which the cork leaves the bottle can garner speed of up to 100 mph
I sat down a couple weeks back after a lot of nagging from my husband for my Christmas wish list. I just couldn't think of anything tangible that I wanted. We typically don't exchange gifts, but this year decided it would be a fun change. I thought and thought about all the little things that I wanted and just didn't come up with anything that I cared that much about. It made me realize that what I really wanted for Christmas was time together. Isn't that the most precious thing you can give another person, is your time?
Erik and I both have very busy schedules. To be honest ,we more often times than not, feel like strangers passing in the night. One heading this direction and one running in that direction. School, homework, dance, work etc etc etc. A law enforcement life sorta looks like that and definitely a family with young kids does. I can't say that I have anything to complain about because if anything it has taught me to prioritize our time and really value what time we do have. If that means, missing events or scheduling a date night weeks in advance, then that is what it is. We have luckily made it work but not without effort. If you have followed my insta stories for some time you know how many times, I look over to see my romantic movie night partner dead asleep.
So this Christmas, I asked for time. I've asked for a long drive to a explore a new city. I've asked for a night of playing cards by the fire. Just slow, quality time to connect. Cheers to you and your loved ones getting that quiet time to focus on each other and create priceless memories.
I've adopted Chocolate Crinkle cookies as our family's official Christmas cookie. I know, very dramatic! I just think they are the prettiest little things! Not to mention, they are beyond delish. Like a fluffy brownie! We make a whole assembly line of these beauties and have fun wrapping them all up for our neighbors. A couple years back, we topped them with crushed candy canes and stacked them in mason jars with pretty ribbon. Last year, I scored some adorable galvanized buckets from the dollar bin at Target and layered them inside. This year, I found some sweet,snowflake adorned baking dishes and we are wrapping them up in fluffy cellophane and blue glittery bows. It's all in the presentation! I included the recipe below for these babies!
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
you will need:
4 oz unsweetened chocolate , chopped
1/4 c unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 c granulated sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour ( plain)
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 c (9oz) mini semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c powdered sugar
Combine the unsweetened chocolate and the butter in the top of a double boiler pan or heatproof bowl. Set over simmering water and stir until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on med. speed, beat the eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilla until light in color and thick, about 3 minutes. Add the melted chocolate mix and beat until blended. In a bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and beat until blended. Mix in the chocolate chips. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 325
Rol rounded tablespoonfuls of the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll each ball in the powdered sugar to coat completely. Arrange the balls on baking sheets about 3 inches apart.
Bake the bookies for about 13-17 minutes or until tops are puffed and crinkled. Let cooked cool on baking sheet on wire rack for 5 minutes.
recipe adapted from Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen by Georgeanne Breannan
I find these ages of 8 and 6 to be my favorite. We are in such a sweet spot. I don't know if it's me feeling more peace and joy in my own life or absorbing my little's lives. I find myself often worrying or anxious if day to day I am doing a good job of creating a life for the girls that they will remember and want to replicate. I cherish my childhood with my family and always aim to recreate the same feelings for my girls. Of course we are all different, but I know exactly what I hope to create for my girls. I want them to feel confident, included, loved, special and secure. I want them to trust their instincts and know their opinions. I want they to be fiercely confident in what makes them happy and strive to have that feeling daily.
I had a great conversation recently with my dad about the girls. I love that we can talk so openly about what his feelings were raising me and my brother with my mom and his male perspective. My dad and I are incredibly alike and I value his masculine opinion greatly. It helps me see things clearly from a different angle. We are both very self competitive and strive for more all the time. We aren't perfectionists but see things very fast moving. Always quickly moving towards the bigger goal. That is a really hard perspective to carry when raising kids. I teeter on the line of " to much and not enough" never sure what's the right thing. I want my girls to feel independent from me but still feel me close if they need me.
My dad gave me the best advice and interestingly enough it was things I had been mulling over for some time. He said " make sure they feel included in your decisions". So simple. This I hope makes the girls feel that their opinion is good , valued and taken seriously by me. I had been adopting this practice but didn't know I was doing it. For example, I would be getting dressed for a date with Erik and ask the girls to pick out my shoes that they thought would work with the outfit I had on. They would scamper into the closet and come out with options. Some super "wow" and some really great! I would try them all on and we would discuss which was better and why. Then we would move onto earrings, lipstick and coat. This seems frivolous but made my heart so happy. They knew mommy wanted to look nice for my date with daddy and wanted to help.
I remember the silliest things about my mom getting ready for a special event and I want my girls to remember their own special memories about me.
I am so giddy with my shopping picks this year for the girls! We aren't a big toy family and the girls rarely get gifts outside of their birthday and Christmas. I found some of the cutest presents this year that I can't wait to surprise them with! Here are some of my favorites!
1. iPod Nano- if you have followed my Insta Stories you are familiar with Peyton's epic dance shows we get each night. I am so excited to load up all her favorite tunes for her to rock out with.
2. Polaroid Instax Mini - Capri went to her dance competition team party a couple months back and I really wanted her to be able to take pictures of her and her friends since mommy's weren't allowed. This is the perfect camera for her for next time!
3. Mind Blowing Science kit- I love interactive, activity gifts. This kit has tons of cool learning projects. Perfect for school age boys and girls who have everything.
4. Mancala- BEST board game ever!
5. Luminous Skateboard- a skateboard that lights up! I mean.....no more discussion!
6. Teepee- perfect for the little ones to snuggle in with their books and toys. My girls still love having slumber parties their big teepee at nana's house! So cozy!
8. Lemonade cart- The girls LOVE selling lemonade and other odds and ends in the summer. This cart makes their little entrepreneur endeavors all the more official.
9. LIFE board game- this has quickly become one of our family's favorite game night picks.
10. Kids Kayak- This gift makes me so excited! This will be Capri's big Santa gift. We visit Balboa Island often and each time we visit she befriends any kids that have one of these kayaks. Eventually she hijacks it completely. Now she has her own to adventure with!
One of my most favorite traditions with the kids is gingerbread house making. We have done it since they were super little and it' the perfect way to kick off the holiday! This year had to be my most favorite! The girls are at that sweet age where they are creative and can enjoy the process. In the past, I've made the rookie mistake of buying the non preassembled houses. You know, the one with all the house pieces flat in the box and a big 'ol frosting pouch. I don't care what the directions say, you need to be an engineer to get that nonsense to stick and the house stand up! So of course in my busyness I grabbed the non assembled from Target. NOOOO!!! The directions assured me, this would be a cinch! Assemble in minutes they say! This was a 20 minute, two man job! Once we got the houses in order, it was go time and mommy could sit back and let the decorating fly. Peyton eats more than she decorates and Capri is very into excessive decor.
I had a great time making the table festive! I grabbed up sweet Target Dollar Bin pine tree and Bottle brush trees, candy jars and festive ramekins to hold treats. I can across this adorable sleigh serving platter and used it for our chocolate milks. We pumped our Christmas tunes and mommy's heart was full!