Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Favorites: Happy Birthday Cayden

This Sunday, July 24th, at 12:47pm my precious baby boy will turn 1 year old. This past year has been the most overwhelming, life-changing, rewarding, and happiest year of my life. Having a child made me dig deep into my soul and re-evaluate everything about who I am and who I want to be. They say the first year of parenthood is the hardest to survive and while I agree with that statement, I must add that it is also the most rewarding. The fact that I created this baby, grew and nurtured him in my body, and gave birth to him is a miracle in itself. Cayden is truly my perfect match, he's everything I wanted and needed in a child and more. He teaches me important life lessons every day and this weekend we will be celebrating him. I want to dedicate Friday Favorites this week to my son, sweet baby Cayden, and my top 10 favorite things about him.

1. I love how you have no concept of personal space. Sometimes I think you would crawl back inside me if you could. You are constantly touching me, holding my hand, pulling my hair, and climbing all over me and you refuse to go to sleep without being snuggled first. Although it drives me crazy at times, I love and adore how cuddly you are and I treasure each and every touch and embrace. Being near you just calms me and I'm so glad you feel the same way about me.

2. Cayden, you are such a happy baby. Whenever we go on play dates or when people meet you for the first time they just marvel at how well behaved and happy you are. I think you get this from your father who always has a positive attitude. I still remember the first time I ever heard you laugh. We had just gone to the doctor's and you had to get some shots so I called out of work to stay home and snuggle you. We were laying on the couch and I flipped you upside down and for the first time I heard you crack up. I was so happy I was with you that day and got to experience that with you. I'll never forget that moment. Even when you're sick or teething you still have a smile on your face and I hope you never lose that happiness. Seeing you smile makes me the happiest mama in the world and your laugh is music to my ears. 

3. I love watching you sleep, baby boy. When you close your eyes you look just like my newborn baby again. Sometimes if I'm feeling sad or upset I will just watch how peaceful you are while sleeping and it calms me. When you wake up you have the brightest eyes and the rosiest cheeks. You are so sweet and snuggly, my love. Daddy and I used to love watching you wake up and seeing your 'stretchy face' and we would race to be the first one who got to pick you up. I'll never forget the morning you woke me up by softly kissing me on the lips. It's my sweetest memory of you.

4. I cannot stop obsessing over your little baby feet. I have taken hundreds of pictures of your little toes. You have the cutest toes ever, Cayden, and when you were a newborn you used to curl them around my fingers every time I would touch your feet. I love that you still do that. I love how you laugh and laugh when Daddy plays 'stinky feet' with you. One day you'll be a teenager with real stinky feet, but for now I will enjoy playing 'this little piggy' with your teeny tiny feets.

5. Baby, I never get tired of hearing how alike you and I are. People have said you look like my clone since the day you were born. We both like vegetables more than fruit, we are both stubborn and determined, and at times, we both drive Daddy crazy! I love looking into your face and seeing my face staring back. I love seeing my mom in certain facial expressions of yours. I remember when I was pregnant I told everybody you would look just like Daddy, but I was wrong. I see so much of myself in you and it never ceases to amaze me.

6. You have the most beautiful, big, brown eyes, baby. I get mad when people say it's a shame you didn't get my blue color. You and Daddy share eyes the color of melted chocolate and I never get tired of looking into them. Every where we go people comment on how pretty they are. When you are older, every girl will envy your thick black lashes and swoon over your beautiful eyes, I'm sure of it.

7. Cayden, I know I complain about it a lot, but I secretly love how attached you are to me. You definitely love your daddy, but you are a mama's boy through and through. When you're upset I'm the only one who can calm you and when you can't sleep I just have to hold you and breath into your neck to make you fall into a deep sleep. When we're apart, I feel like my soul has been ripped in two and I cry every time I'm away from you. You rarely let anyone else hold you and while it might make your grandma mad, I love it. One day you won't want me to be around as much, and that's okay, but until then, I will treasure every day like it's a precious gift.

8. Every day I am amazed at how smart you are. You hit each and every milestone a month, if not more, early. I couldn't believe when you start sitting on your own, standing on your own, talking, and now walking. People are amazed at your strength and determination. I try to never compare you to other baby boys and girls but I want you to know how proud I am of you. I know no greater joy than seeing you succeed at something you've put your mind to. I am so, so lucky to call you my son, sweet boy.

9. I know I talk a lot about the bond you and I have Cayden, but the relationship you and Daddy have is something so special. Without truly understanding the concept of time you still know when it's 5 o'clock and you stand by the door saying 'dada' over and over. Your face lights up when that door opens and it's just amazing to see. He truly is your hero, and I know you're going to want to be just like him when you grow up. I couldn't ask for a better role model for you; your Daddy loves you so much. One day you will understand how hard he works for us and how many sacrifices he has made and your love for him will fill your heart.

10. Cayden, you make me a better person. It's as simple as that. My past is not perfect and I will make mistakes in the future, but thank you for keeping me grounded and for reminding me every day how lucky I am. Every move I make, I make for you and for our family. I hope that we always stay this close and that you will feel comfortable talking to me about everything. You have made Daddy and I so much closer, stronger, and happier. I can never thank you enough for that. Thank you for being you and for bringing our family so much happiness.

"The days are long, but the years are short." -Gretchen Rubin. A truer statement cannot be made. Happy birthday, Cayden. Love, your mama. XOXO

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wedding Planning Wednesday - The Big Exit

I've always believed the best parenting advice comes from other mom's, and I believe the same thing can be applied to weddings. I think real life experience is the best resource out there. Brides know what works and what doesn't work and people that have been to a ton of weddings have seen it all and can offer fresh ideas! This is where you come in... If you've been to a wedding, helped plan a wedding, been a bridesmaid, or had a wedding yourself then I want to ask your advice! Every now and then I will dedicated my Wedding Planning Wednesday to asking for YOUR suggestions and opinions. Any and all feedback is needed and greatly appreciated! 

The first topic I need help with is our BIG exit! Traditionally rice was thrown at the bride and groom as they left for the night, however it is prohibited in most places nowadays because birds try to eat the rice and choke on it. Modern brides have done everything from birdseed to sparklers to confetti for their exit, but all of those things are prohibited at my venue because it IS a nature center first and foremost. So what does that leave me with? The only thing I can think of is bubbles.Now. bubbles aren't a bad idea but I just feel like it's so predictable and I would love to come up with something a little more creative and unique. I've seen dried herbs such as lavender thrown and I am considering that, but there's got to be other ideas out there! So tell me, what have you seen done at weddings and what would you suggest we do? If you leave a suggestion in the comments below I'll love you forever and ever! XOXO

*image sources can be found on my Pinterest wedding board here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Favorites: Pretty in Pink

Because it's gloomy outside and because I have killer cramps and a teething baby on my lap right now, I need something pretty to cheer me up. And what's prettier than the soft, feminine color of ballet pink? The answer is nothing! And just in case you are doubting me, I have come up with some proof that is most definitely pretty in pink...

Are these not the sweetest cupcakes you've ever seen? I love the ultra fancy and feminine toppers; they make my heart smile!

I'm really loving this ombre trend right now and this cake with its various shades of pink is no exception! It's almost too pretty to eat! 

Pink, sprinkles, and doilies? Oh my! Not only is this a super cute and inexpensive favor idea, it's easy to put together too!

I love the idea of serving a simple drink like pink lemonade out of a fancy glass bottle like this one. The doily inspired bottle wrapper and pink ribbon are just the icing on the cake!  
These pretty pink tulle wands are so whimsical and feminine; I need to have a girl next just so I can throw her a fairy party and make these!

Is this dress not the prettiest and most flattering thing you've ever seen? I love the sleeves and the way the waist gathers. I think it would look fabulous on any body type!

Such a cute and unique baby shower gift! Towels, onesies, a wash cloth and a baby spoon make this the sweetest ice cream sundae you've ever laid your eyes on!

Maybe because I haven't eaten breakfast or maybe because I'm hormonal and want to shove cupcakes in my mouth... either way, this is the most delectable cake I think I've ever encountered!

That's all for now! I'm off to cuddle my almost 1 year old (!!!!!) and watch some classic Molly Ringwald movies. Happy Friday everyone! XOXO

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wedding Planning Wednesday - Lighting

Some brides are all about the dress, some the venue, and to some the flowers are the most important thing. For me, I'm all about the lighting and ambiance. Because we are getting married in a forest that's covered in oak trees, lighting is very important. If I don't have enough then it will be pitch black by the time the sun goes down! When I first started researching weddings to get a feel of the look I'm going for, I fell in love with cafe lights strung over the reception area. Cafe lights are basically big round light bulbs on a string that are attached to poles on both sides. I think they are oh so romantic and cozy!

I really want to take advantage of the beautiful trees at the venue, too. My first idea was to hang candles in mason jars, but because open flames are not allowed I would have to use LED flameless candles instead. I also can't decide if I want to string white lights around the tree trunks and branches or just stick to the cafe lights. So many options! If anyone has any advice or opinions I'd love to hear! XOXO

all image sources can be found on my Pinterest wedding board here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A very much needed date night...

Last week was hard. I've been so stressed out lately that I started feeling sorry for myself. I became one sad mess moping around the house with very little patience. It was taking a toll on Mando and I's relationship so I decided that we needed a date night. I wanted to keep it a surprise so I didn't tell Mando where we were going; I just packed a bag Friday night with a change of clothes and a blanket and when he arrived home all three of us were on our way.

Because it's already the middle of July and we still hadn't been to the beach I wanted to go to Ruby's on the Huntington Beach pier. I kept Mando guessing the entire way there although he did guess the beach (but I'm sneaky and said no, hehe!) and it was so nice to see his happy face when we arrived! The weather was gorgeous outside but there was enough wind to keep it from being too hot. There was a small wait when we got there so we let Cayden run around the pier as we waited for a table. When we got inside, we got a table with an ocean view and stuffed ourselves with cheeseburgers and milkshakes. It was the perfect family date night and we all felt so refreshed afterwards. Sometimes it's easy to forget that we are newly engaged because we are so busy as a family, but I think it's important to celebrate that fact every now and then.

The rest of the weekend was spent swimming and planting flowers at my mama's house, shopping for Cayden's birthday party (2 more weeks, eeeeek!), and getting all 3 of us hair cuts. Cayden did so good and looks so grown up now! I'll be back later this week for Wedding Planning Wednesday to share more fun wedding inspiration with you all! XOXO

My little wild baby has been tamed and looks all grown up now! *tear*  (Please excuse the iPhone After picture)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday Favorites: Fantastic flats!

I've mentioned before how pre-baby I wore heels every single day. I worked in an office and rocked 5 inch stilettos like it was no big deal. After Cayden was born I tried to put on some of my old heels to go see a burlesque show with my friend Toni and it felt like my ankle was breaking. I have no idea why, but I'm guessing my feet changed like so many other parts of my body did during pregnancy. Although I still love heels, they just aren't practical in my life anymore so I have ventured into the world of flats.

Now I know you Sex-and-the-City girls think I'm crazy, but I fell in love with ballet flats and now I would choose them over a cute pair of stilettos any day. They are cute, comfortable, and stylish and you can make them work with almost any outfit. Now my discovery has turned into a full blown obsession and I'm always on the prowl for a unique pair. Here are a few of my Pinterest finds that I have been lusting over...
I die for these shoes. Love the silver, love the glitter, love the nude lining. Love, love, love!
Ya'll know how I feel about lace and doilies by now, so when I saw this pair I immediately wanted them. They would easily dress up or down and I adore that eggshell color!

These are the classic ballet flat. I love the contrast of the black and white stripes and that bow just kills me! So sweet!

I think we can all agree that we would sell our souls for this pair of Chloe flats right? Right. Moving on...

I'm not really a 'yellow person' but for some reason I have been wanting a pair of sunny yellow flats in my collection. I think they would work with so many different colors.... navy blue, red, teal. This pair makes me happy and they are perfect for summer!

I'm no Snookie, but I love leopard print as much as the next girl. This pair is neutral enough to go with several outfits, but patterned enough to make a statement. I love pairing fun shoes with a simple outfit!

**All image sources can be found on my Pinterest fashion board here.

I hope everyone has a fun-filled weekend with your loved ones! I'm surprising Mando tonight and taking him to the beach to for some hamburgers and milkshakes on the pier! I'm so excited to see Cayden playing in the ocean! XOXO

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing

This Fathers Day I wanted to bake something special for Mando. His most favorite dessert in the whole world is carrot cake so I decided to do carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing. I was apprehensive at first because I've never made carrot cake and had no idea what was in it, so I hopped online and started searching for the perfect recipe. There are so many variations out there and it was hard for me to find one that didn't contain pineapple or coconut (yuck!). I finally stumbled upon this one from Gimme Some Oven and decided to give it a try. I made quite a few adaptations to it and came up with what I believe to be the perfect carrot cake recipe! They are chock full of yummy spices and come out moist and delicious. The cream cheese frosting adds the perfect amount of sweetness on top!


  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3-4 medium sized carrots, grated
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1½ cups vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 chopped walnuts
  • 12 oz. cream cheese
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
First preheat your oven to 350° F and line your muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt and whisk together.

Using a cheese grater shred the carrots until you have about 3 cups. This step can be a pain so if you have a food processor, USE IT! Once they're all grated, add them to the bowl with the dry ingredients and set aside. 

In a separate mixing bowl combine the sugars and eggs and mix with an electric mixer until creamy. Slowly add the oil and continue mixing until batter is light in color and thoroughly combined. Add this to the large mixing bowl and stir in the carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Then, using a wooden spoon, mix in the raisins and chopped walnuts.

Scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake liners until they are 2/3 full.  Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting beat the cream cheese and butter in a medium mixing bowl on medium speed until smooth or 2-3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until totally incorporated and beat until smooth. Pour the icing into an icing bag or ziplock with the tip cut off. When your cupcakes are completely cool, frost as desired and enjoy! XOXO

 NOTE: I baked these on a hot day and my frosting started melting and became runny and unattractive. I suggest popping your frosting in the freezer or refrigerator for a few minutes until it thickens before icing your cupcakes!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday Favorites: Pins of the week!

I wanted to do something light and fun for this holiday weekend and because I have found some amazing inspiration on Pinterest this week I decided to dedicate today to my favorite pins of the week! I don't know if it's because it finally feels like summer is here, but I just can't get enough of all of these bright and sunny colors!

I absolutely love the colors in this vintage kitchen. The red and aqua, the vintage colanders, and that big open window make this the kind of kitchen a girl dreams of!

One of the best DIY ideas I've seen to date: Cover a pot with mod podge and some pretty fabric to give yourself the sweetest container garden in town! I NEED to do this on my balcony!

I think we can all agree that my sister really needs to find some giant yarn and make me this cozy blanket! LOVE!

I'll admit it, I'm not really into art. It's very rare I find a painting or a picture that I love enough to look at day after day, but when I saw these AMAZING pieces by Michelle Armas my mouth dropped. I love her use of colors and texture and I would love to hang one of these paintings in my family room. (The prices are very reasonable too!)

Just a little bite of wonderfulness! How adorable would these spoons be at a baby or bridal shower? I love the pastel colors too!

Ever since I saw this stand mixer on The Pioneer Woman I have lusted after it. It is so pretty and unique, it's truly a work of art! Now get in my kitchen! 

Another creative idea: use vintage colanders as hanging flower pots! So different, so pretty and you can bet I'll be on the hunt for some of these on my next antique trip!

That's all for now! I hope everyone has a fun and safe July 4th (my personal favorite holiday, and Cayden's first)! We'll be spending the weekend BBQing, watching parades, and lighting sparklers! XOXO