Friday Favorites

May 29, 2015

Gearing up for summer is more fun than ever since having my little girls, especially now that my oldest is in school--since it was her first year, the words "summer vacation" actually mean something to her. She doesn't quite have the concept of time down (she's only five) but she realizes that she's not going to have to go to school for awhile. And me being me, I've been pumping her up about summer and all the fun things we'll get to do together. I mentioned a possible pajama party (not to be confused with a sleepover) and she went bananas. I also want to plan a trip to Disneyland to celebrate the 60th anniversary, and of course we have Hawaii and a few road trips to look forward to. Do you have anything planned for the summer? 

Have a fantastic weekend, and God bless!

Chic candy stores around the world, and yes, I want to visit them all. 

A backyard movie party that looks like so much fun. I'm thinking this summer...

Jourdan Dunn's denim jumpsuit. And also her sunnies.

Hibiscus marshmallows.

Jessica Alba on the cover of Forbes for starting a diaper company because she wanted something better for her babies. This mama rocks!

10 Reasons I Love Los Angeles

May 28, 2015

I love L.A., I really do. I wasn't born and raised here like my husband and a few of my family members, but I've always considered Los Angeles my home. There are countless reasons why I adore the city (even with the traffic, smog, and  tourists that most locals complain about), but here are ten that, in my opinion, could make anyone fall in love.

1. Access to the beaches.
2. The Grove. (I realize The Grove has become very touristy and a little cheesy, but I love walking around, wandering in and out of the shops, and having an iced coffee as I make my way to the neighboring Farmer's Market.)
3. The Griddle Cafe on Sunset Blvd. And if I'm being really specific, the Noisella French toast at the Griddle Cafe on Sunset Blvd.
4. The Pantages Theater, where I saw my first Broadway play. (It was The Lion King.)
5. MB Post in Manhattan Beach (the bacon cheddar biscuits with maple butter are life changing).
6. Food trucks.
7. Cute little neighborhoods like Culver City and Silverlake.
8. The Rose Bowl flea market (technically not in Los Angeles, but it's close enough).
9. The flower marts downtown. 
10. The fashion district, where I spent countless hours and countless dollars at designer sample sales when I was a fashion editor at FIDM. 

image via Instagram 

Life Lessons From Something's Gotta Give

May 27, 2015

Something's Gotta Give is one of my all-time favorite films; I watch it every time it's on TV, and if it's not on TV, I pop in the DVD every chance I get. I've never tired of it and I probably never will. Besides being hilarious and adorable and smart, there are important life lessons to be learned from the movie. Here's what I've taken away from it after watching for what seemed like the millionth time recently.  

1. Light candles at dinner.
I've watched the movie no less than five dozen times, yet I only just realized while watching the other day that Erica Barry had placed lit candles on her table at dinner. It wasn't a particularly fancy or romantic dinner, no special occasion or anything, but by lighting candles it made something special out of something ordinary. Light candles at dinner--I mean this both metaphorically and literally (because they really do look so pretty).

2. Find inspiration in everything.
After having her heart broken by Harry, Erica, a playwright, manages to turn her pain into a masterpiece. She took all that emotion--the pain, the rejection, the anguish--and turned it into fuel to get over the writer's block she was suffering from and create a Broadway hit. 

3. Cry...and cry and cry. 
It's therapeutic and cathartic, and most of all, necessary. A couple of years ago I was going through a really difficult time and no one, not even my husband, knew what to say or do to help me. I was angry and heartbroken, and the only thing that gave me any reprieve, no matter how short-lived, was crying, and then crying some more.  

4. Go to Paris for your birthday.
Or do something else if you like, but just make sure it's fabulous. I spend a ton of time every year making sure that my daughters have the most magical birthday celebrations, and that I do something meaningful and special for my husband and friends, but I honestly can't remember the last time I put any real thought into my own birthday. That's going to change. Birthdays are meant to be celebrated!

images via 1, 2, 3, 4 

Almond Joy Ice Cream

May 26, 2015

When I was a kid, the small town that we lived in had an Italian eatery called John's Pizza. It wasn't a chain or a huge, gimmicky place, but every kid who lived in Ridgecrest, California had a birthday party there at some point in their pre-adolescent lives. The reasons were simple: 1) the pizza was cut into squares instead of triangles, which totally blew our young minds, and 2) they had the most incredible homemade ice cream with candy bar flavors. Snickers was always the most popular (chocolate ice cream with giant pieces of Snickers candy bar swirled in), but Almond Joy (vanilla ice cream with chunks of Almond Joy) was a close second. Instead of pieces of candy, my version lets each ingredient stand on its own, so you get coconut (toasted to bring out the flavor), crunchy almonds, and chocolate in every bite. It's as good, if not better, than John's version, and I didn't even need to pull out my ice cream maker!

Almond Joy Ice Cream
2 pints heavy whipping cream
2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup whole almonds
¾ cup shredded coconut

Place two clean metal loaf pans in the freezer and preheat oven to 350°. Spread coconut on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, or until it's lightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. While coconut is toasting, roughly chop almonds so you're left with both big and little pieces. 

Pour whipping cream into a large bowl and beat with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add the sweetened condensed milk and blend until combined. Gently fold in your coconut, almonds, and chocolate chips and lightly stir to distribute the ingredients throughout the ice cream base. Pour the ice cream mixture into the cold loaf pans, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 6 hours. Scoop and enjoy!

Memorial Day

May 25, 2015

In 2013, we took a trip to our nation's capital. It was winter, and our California bones stiffened against the biting chill of the forty degree weather. But even with the numbing cold, it was this, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that gave me goose bumps. The sheer length of the wall was astonishing, almost frighteningly so, and the number of names carved into it seemed an impossibility. And that was only one wall, for one war. It's hard to imagine the many, many more lives that have been lost to protect our freedom. 

To the countless men and women of the armed forces who fought so bravely to preserve our freedom, and who took their last breath doing so, I honor you and I thank you. Thank you for your unyielding courage. Thank you for your commitment. Thank you of your sacrifice. 

photo by Angelica Golden


May 25, 2015

image via Instagram 

Friday Favorites

May 22, 2015

May has absolutely flown by, and it took me totally by surprise when I learned last Sunday that Memorial Day is already upon us. I'm definitely grateful for the long weekend and excited that summer is just around the corner, but I've got to admit, my enthusiasm is laced with just a twinge of sadness. My little girl is being promoted from kindergarten in a couple of weeks, and just typing that sentence was enough to set off the waterworks. I'm so proud of my sweetie, but I just wish time would stand still so I can keep her little for as long as possible. The summer means that I have to let go of my kindergarten baby and accept that I have a first grader. It's such a bittersweet feeling. So this holiday weekend I'm taking advantage of the extra day to have some special time with her. We'll probably go get manicures, and she's requested pot roast for dinner (a dish I've never made, and she's never actually eaten in her life), so I'll recruit her help in the kitchen as well. Enjoy your long weekend, be safe, and God bless!

The pot roast recipe that I thinking of attempting this weekend. (Unless you have an awesome recipe you'd be willing to share with me...anyone?)

Tips for hosting a midweek game night.

CasaSandra, an artsy boutique hotel on an island off the coast of Cancun.

Jenna Lyons wearing this feather skirt for Solange Knowles' wedding--I love everything about that sentence!

The Kate Spade Madison Flamingo Clasp Clutch.

10 Epic Hot Dog Recipes for Memorial Day

May 20, 2015

Memorial Day marks the unofficial kickoff of summer and, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, the beginning of peak hot dog season (Americans consumed some 7 billion dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day in 2013). And while the humble hot dog will never be considered gourmet or glamorous, it is pretty tasty, and with the right toppings can be crazy delicious. Here are several inventive hot dog recipes to try this holiday weekend.  

Loaded cheddar hot dogs (with garlic sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions, bacon, and white cheddar sauce--oh my!)

Firecracker hot dogs (with fried jalapeños!)

Pizza hot dogs 

And if burgers are more your thing, here are nine insanely delicious burger recipes to try this holiday weekend.

Benefits of Smiling

May 19, 2015

I'm smiling here because I've got another martini and a plate of lobster pasta coming my way.

I read something the other day that really stuck with me: smiling, even when you absolutely do not feel like it, will improve your mood. Apparently the mere act of turning up the corners of your mouth is enough to trick your body into believing you're feeling good. Armed with this information, I decided to do a little research to find out other ways smiling affects our lives. Here's  what I discovered:

It makes you more attractive.
Smiling makes you look less tired and worn down. This is good to remember when you've been up all night with a feverish munchkin.

You look younger.
Smiling is an instant facelift. That's because the muscles needed to smile actually lift our facial features, making us look more youthful.

Smiling has numerous health benefits.
It lowers blood pressure and boosts immune function (because you're less stressed when your smiling), plus releases endorphins, serotonin, and natural pain killers.

You're more approachable.
This one is pretty obvious, since people would rather chat with a smiling, friendly-looking person than a a scowling grump.  

Smiling is contagious.
You can actually spread joy by smiling. This will make the world a better place, which will make you feel really good. You'll smile more, and the whole cycle begins again.


May 18, 2015

image via Instagram (@therealdebbieallendanceacademy)

Friday Favorites

May 15, 2015

This week went by blessedly fast, and I couldn't be happier because I have a fabulous weekend with girlfriends ahead of me. We're all leaving our babies with our men and having a much-needed girls day; it's sort of an extension to Mother's Day. Since we haven't had a chance to hang out sans bambinos in a really long time, we've all been sending the happiest, giddiest text messages. I hope you have something fun planned for your weekend. Be safe and God bless!

These colorful gladiator sandals

Five reasons Hulu should save The Mindy Project. (I'm devastated by FOX's cancellation, by the way.)

Pulled pork breakfast nachos

Cubes of food that look surprisingly awesome.

This professor, who comforted a crying baby so that the child's mother could stay in class for the lecture.

10 Tips for Grocery Shopping with Children

May 14, 2015

Before I had kids, I never made shopping lists and it didn't even matter because I knew I could always dash back out to the store if I forgot something. Since having my girls though, my shopping philosophy has changed completely, right down to where I park (no kidding!). Here are a few things I've learned over the past five years that make grocery shopping with little ones a lot easier.

1. Make a list.
Consider staples and meal planning when making your list, and try to categorize it according to food type (e.g. list all fresh produce together, list frozen foods together, etc).

2. Remember to take your list!
Because the last thing you want to do is pack the kiddos back into the car and run out for a bag of brown sugar. 

3. Go at the right time.
Avoid going when little ones are sleepy or right at feeding time. Also, be mindful of when the store will be crowded, particularly around the time when people are getting off work. 

4. Park next to, or as near as possible to the cart corral. 
This way you can get the kids in the car and out of the sun or cold immediately, and not have to worry about leaving them in the car as you take the cart back.

5. Carry a light snack with you.
Something about being around all that food makes little tummies feel hungry. Either carry a little something in your purse, or be prepared to open up a box of cereal.

6. Keep newborns and infants close in a baby carrier.
Rather than putting their carseat in the cart (which can be dangerous), carry infants in a baby carrier. The smell of mama will help them relax and the sound of your heartbeat will probably lull them to sleep so you can get your shopping done.

7. Use a cart cover.
I'm more of a germaphobe than ever since I gave birth, so I swear by using a cart cover every time I shop. It's also nice and soft for when tired little ones want to lay their sleepy heads down.

8. Let them help.
Letting children who are old enough participate gives them something to do and makes them feel important. Make sure you praise them for being such a big help to mommy.

9. Double check your cart before check out. 
You're not just looking to make sure you procured everything on your list, but also to see if tiny hands have thrown in something extra, like a box of cookies.

10. Offer incentives for good behavior.
Grocery shopping isn't exactly fun for kids (and it's not always fun for adults either). Find out if your store has stickers or balloons or some other treat to reward little ones for being on their best behavior.

Words to Use More Often

May 13, 2015

I've always had a fondness for words (which is no doubt the reason I became a writer) and I'm always eager to not only expand my vocabulary, but also to utilize the words I know and love more often. I came across this list on Baublebar's Instagram and immediately emailed it to myself for future reference. There are a few words here that I actually do use quite often, but others that I'd like to incorporate. I'm particularly loving the nostalgia of words like swell, hullaballoo, and balderdash, and the emotion that words like abominable, delightful, and resplendent evoke. I definitely plan to find ways to integrate them into everyday conversation. Are there any words on this list that stand out to you?

How to Cut a Watermelon in 10 Minutes

May 12, 2015

After admitting on Facebook that I was unable to cut a watermelon in under an hour, a friend from high school shared with me the fast and easy way she gets the job done. I tried it out for myself and was absolutely amazed at how quickly I was able to cut a rather large watermelon; we were snacking on it in less than 15 minutes (the extra 5 minutes was needed to remove seeds for my little ones).

Here's what you do: cut off both ends of the melon, then stand it upright. Using a downward motion, slice the rind from all sides; you'll be left with a sort of barrel-shaped melon with no rind. From there, lay the watermelon on its side and cut 1-inch thick slices (they'll look like discs). Now slice each disc into strips, then the strips into cubes. Enjoy!


May 11, 2015

image via Instagram (@therealdebbieallendanceacademy)

Friday Favorites

May 8, 2015

I'm extremely sentimental, so it's no surprise that as Mother's Day nears I've been looking at pictures of my sweet girls when they were teeny tiny (and getting a little misty). My 5-year old, the sweetest, yummiest little sugar plum ever, is icing on the cake; she's been saying "Happy Mother's Day!" all week and telling me how important I am to her and how much she loves me (which, by the way, is more than her books and Disneyland and all the holidays combined). I'm just so in love with both of my girls, so in love, and I feel so blessed to be their momma. However you're celebrating Mother's Day this Sunday, whether you're being feted or you're celebrating one of the moms in your life, I wish you a Happy Mother's Day and a safe weekend. God bless!

The pants, yes, but also those adorable giraffes. 

Balloons that make me want to throw a party immediately.

Disney princesses as decor inspiration.

This ridiculously pretty tablescape

An absolutely perfect shot of Santa Monica. (I heart L.A.!)

Sweet Gift Ideas for Kids to Give to Mom

May 7, 2015

Since Mother's Day is just a few days away, here's a list of thoughtful (and free!) gift ideas that little ones can give to their mommas. Share it with your husband or partner, help a girlfriend's kids plan a surprise, or if your children are old enough, leave this page open on your computer and hope they find it on their own. 

1. Say "I love you" in multiple languages.
2. Fix her morning coffee or tea just the way she likes it. 
3. Hide a sweet note or picture in her handbag.
4. Wash her car (because I don't any mothers who enjoy doing this).
5. Make a handmade card, complete with colored macaroni and lots of glitter.
6. Set up a pampering station and give mom a neck massage and a manicure. 
7. Read mom your favorite book.
8. Write her a poem.
9. Do the dishes or other housework without her asking.
10. Prepare a nice, hot bubble bath for her and give mom at least twenty minutes of peace and quiet.
11. Shower her with hugs and kisses.
12. Let her take a nap. BONUS: cuddle up and take a nap with her.
13. Pack mom's lunch for work on Monday.
14. Make a list of reasons why you love her.
15. Say a special prayer for momma.

image via

Wedding Guest Etiquette

May 5, 2015

It's wedding season, and if you haven't already gotten an invitation to a ceremony, you can probably expect one soon. Here are ten tips for being an exceptional wedding guest.

1. Always send your reply card.

Even if the bride or groom is your sibling, send the card back or hand it to them in person. When it's time to tally up the headcount, they shouldn't have to make any phone calls to double check that you'll be there.

2. Never wear white. 

Not even cream, ivory, or ecru. The only exception is if the bride and groom specifically requests that their guests wear white (which is becoming a trend). Otherwise, it's actually better to wear black to a wedding than white, lest you receive the death stare from the bride's mother.

3. Don't wear anything too sexy.

This should go without saying, but you'd be surprised. If you're unsure, wear a classic piece, like a sheath dress, and punctuate it with great jewelry.

4. Bring your intended "plus one."

If you have to make a change, notify the bride in advance, as she may be having place cards printed.

5. Stay out of the photographer's way.

You may be tempted to pull out your phone or camera to capture the bride coming down the aisle or the happy couple's first kiss, but you might end up blocking the perfect shot for the photographer. Instead, just be in the moment and look at the pro's pics when the couple gets them back.

6. Always send a gift.

Even if you can't make it to the ceremony, wedding etiquette dictates that you send a gift anyway. 

7. Stick to the registry.

This is kind of a no-brainer, especially for the wedding (not so much for the shower, especially if you're close to the bride and want to get her something meaningful). Do the bride and groom a favor and have the gift shipped rather than bringing it to the ceremony.

8. Sit where you're told at the reception. 

If you've ever planned a wedding or big event, you know what a pain in the butt putting together a seating chart can be. Respect the bride's wishes and sit at whatever table she places you.

9. Don't drink too much.

A wedding is not the place to relive those glory days of college. Have fun, drink champagne, but know your limit.

10. Stay until the cake cutting.

It's always hard to gauge when it's the right time to call it a night, but a good rule of thumb is to wait until after the bride and groom have cut the cake. And when you do leave, make sure you thank the bride and groom, or a member of their immediate family.

image via

15 Fun Things to Do With the Kids in May

May 1, 2015

Coming up with new ways to keep your little ones entertained can seem an impossible task at times, so each month I will offer up a few fun ideas that you and your children might enjoy. Have fun!

1. Make homemade Play Doh and spend the afternoon being creative with it.

2. Sit in the park and eat popsicles.

3. Make individuals pizzas from scratch and let them make silly faces with the toppings.

4. Celebrate May the 4th with a Star Wars marathon.

5. Build an obstacle course in the living room or backyard.

6. Set up a lemonade stand and help them make a little pocket money for summer vacation.

7. Take them to see Tomorrowland. (Release date is May 22.)

8. Get one of those ridiculously huge bubble blowers and have some fun outside.

9. Let them cash in all the coins at the bottom of your purse.

10. Teach them how to double dutch jumprope. 

11. Wake up extra early and watch the sun rise.

12. Roast marshmallows over the stove or grill.

13. Go fishing.

14. Have an un-birthday party, like in Alice in Wonderland.

15. Fill their rooms with balloons while they sleep so they wake up to a colorful surprise.

image via

Friday Favorites

May 1, 2015

I often have moments throughout my day when I have to stop and live in the reality that I'm an actual adult with real responsibilities. It's not a bad feeling, just a sort of mini epiphany when I hear my little ones call out "mama" and I realize they're talking to me, or when I check my email to find a message from my daughter's kindergarten teacher. This week was full of those moments, especially since my husband and I celebrated his 30-somethingth birthday and our six year wedding anniversary. Real grown-up stuff! I hope you have an excellent weekend; find time to do something that will make your inner child happy. God bless!

Dreaming about our upcoming family vacation to Kauai.

Gorgeous prints from Kaela Kay.

A beautiful and colorful salad

Super cute DIY magnets

The most adorable candy bar wrappers ever. 
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