Thursday, April 2, 2015

New fave product!


As most of you know, I'm big on making my own products such as all natural soap, lotion, and make-up remover.  I've made my own sugar scrub before with coconut oil, but it didn't wow me.

Recently, I purchased this Lavender Salt Scrub from Trader Joe's as I thought the packaging was pretty and that it would be nice for guests to have in the shower.  I put it in the guest bathroom and never thought about it again.

Recently, Emma was staying with us and raved about the scrub.  She was surprised I hadn't even tried it!  She insisted I use it the next time I showered.   Sure enough, she was right - it is amazing!
It is non-abrasive and goes on so easily.  A light scrub and rinse and your skin feels so smooth and moisturized.  You don't even need to apply lotion after you shower.  It leaves a light coat of oil on your skin that is not greasy at all, which also gives a nice glow.
  And the smell is so lovely... especially if you're a lavender fan like me!  I use this every day -- can't get enough!

Trader-Joes-Lavender-Salt-Scrub-2 label

The best part about loving this product was finding that the ingredients were all natural.  And the price... only $5.99 for a good size tub.  What a deal (and what a nice gift for someone!). I promptly went out and stocked up my cupboard for fear Trader Joe's would stop carrying it!!  

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The countdown begins...


We are now down to counting DAYS until our little granddaughter makes her appearance!

It's been really fun to spend more time with Emma as she is now "retired" and just waiting for her sweet little bundle of joy to arrive.

She and Nick are so very excited and ready to welcome their precious little girl.

She is now 37 weeks and the baby weighs about 7 lb. She is measuring a little ahead of schedule, and there are some signs that she is getting close, so we are hoping she will be early (please please!).  All my babies came between 37-38 weeks (and the smallest was 8 lb 3 oz) so we're hoping there is an "early baby" gene that I passed on to her! :-) We have started taking lots of walks to try and get that VERY active little girl out! 
Praying for a safe delivery very soon...

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WDW - Refrigerator Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Warning:  this post contains information that you may wish you had never heard.   It makes eating fresh hot cookies dangerously easy.  If you continue to read, please realize you do so at your own risk.  You have been warned.

Hey!  You're not still here, are you?  Uh-oh...


Have you ever just craved a warm chocolate chip cookie but didn't want to take the time/effort to make them?

Or, have you ever wished you could have fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies when you have guests over? 

Or, could you be one of "those people" who happen to like finding a bowl of cookie dough in the fridge???  (of course, I'm not.)

Well, the answer is this recipe!  You can make the dough for these cookies up to 2 weeks in advance.  All you do is scoop dough directly out of the fridge and bake for 9-11 minutes.   VOILA!  Fresh, hot cookies.  And not to mention perfect, ooey-gooey ones, too.  I was amazed at how good these turned out.  You can make one, two, or ten! Who knew you could do this?

The funny thing is, this is just the basic Toll House recipe, with an extra 1/4 cup flour added in. 

Recently, we had a family over for dinner.  After dinner, I took 2 minutes to scoop out some cookie dough.  In about 10 short minutes the house smelled amazing and I was serving fresh from the oven cookies.  They were a hit!

I'm planning to make these for a dessert bar at a baby shower next week.  Imagine the yummy aroma when my guests arrive! And wait until they see that the cookies are still warm.

And by the way, if you don't use a cookie scoop to make cookies, you are really missing out!  Uniform cookies, lickety split!  One of my favorite kitchen tools.  

Now if you'll excuse me, I think we are out of cookie dough...

Refrigerator Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. (REFRIGERATE AND REST A DAY.) Drop by rounded tablespoon (or use a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop)onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool. 

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Showers! Showers!

It's shower season!  
We kicked it off with a sweet baby shower for Emma, which was held at our home on a rainy Saturday in February.  Emma and Nick have chosen the sweetest name for their baby girl: Darsy Claire.


Emma with all her hostesses... minus one.  Stephanie's mom, Luci was also one of the sweet ladies on board, but had to leave before we could get photos.   L to R, my sweet daughter in law Stephanie, my dear sis Suzanne, the momma to be Emma, my darling niece Amy holding her son Micah, and Rich's lovely sister, Kristen.  These hostesses sure showered my girl with lots of love!
As you can see, we had quite a downpour, but thankfully we were all cozy inside.


My sis and Luci provided the unbelievable food.


My sister can seriously figure out how to 
do/make anything on the planet.
She made one of our favorite candies, honeycomb, dipped in dark chocolate.  It was SO good!  And yes, she made those adorable cake pops too.  They tasted as good as they looked.
She never ceases to amaze me!

Oh, did I mention she can make Nutella turnovers, too? 


There was a delicious fruit salsa and cinnamon crisps.
And everyone was sad that there were no chicken salad cream puffs leftover!


Luci made one of Emma's favorites:  orzo pasta salad with rosemary, pine nuts, and feta.
It was so cute how they served it in little containers.  
Suzanne also made mini peach trifles in recycled baby food jars!  
So clever!  The little wooden spoons were even stamped with Darsy's initials - so sweet.


It was so special to share the day with treasured friends.  Here is my friend Anna who I am always inspired by.

I'm so happy I got this shot of our dear friend Meredith with Emma.  Meredith is also expecting her 1st and we will be showering her soon, too!

Here's a special photo --Delphine, Wendy, Emma and I.  Emma was named after Delphine's mother, Emma Lee.  Wendy and I are lifelong friends and continually mistaken for each other!  
{We were sad to miss Wendy's daughter Whitney and her sister Brooke.}

What a blessing to have two grandmas and one great-grandma present! (and we would have had TWO great-grandmas but one was sick).  Also, there were several excited aunties-to-be there too!

One of my favorite guests was my great nephew, 9 month old Micah Raye.  I get to babysit him a couple afternoons a month and he's definitely my baby boy crush.  I love that little face!


Amy had such sweet things planned -- diapers you could write a fun message to Emma on, an ABC book for Darsy we could all contribute to, and adorable sugar scrub favors.  Kristen and Stephanie did the amazing flowers and decorations.  I wish I had gotten more pictures of that!


Emma was also showered a second time -- this time by the three friends she nannies for, Melinda, Vanessa, and Carly.
It was a small, intimate gathering at Bottega Louie in downtown L.A.   There were 8 of us and it was just so delightful! 

First of all, if you've never been to this restaurant... GO!
It's truly spectacular.  It's housed in an old building that I believe used to be a bank.  It has high, ornate ceilings, is painted a stark white, and is accented elegantly by white Carrara marble everywhere.  It just oozes stately charm. And the bakery and food are UNBELIEVABLE.  If you have a minute, click on the link above and take a virtual tour on their website. 

Here's what you are greeted with when you walk in the door.  

Bottega Louie is famous for their macarons.  
And their beignets are not too shabby either (top shelf).


Whoever designed this place and did the B.L. branding was a sheer genius.   The place is pure eye candy.


Emma with her hostesses which are so dear to her.  
And you can see they all adore her, too.

The group:  l to r: Stephanie, Carly, Vanessa, Melinda, Kaylin, Emma, me, Suzanne


Some girly gifts were waiting to be opened.


The uber-talented Melinda made us all darling 
personalized bags as favors.
Mine was extra special :-)
{actually I almost cried when I saw it}


The table setting was gorgeous thanks to Carly's lovely flower arrangements (which we all got to take home and enjoy).


There were also precious little Bottega boxes filled with macarons at each seat.



There was also a special bag for Darsy....


With a cute little diaper holder inside... beyond cute!


And even my bag contained a pouch with diapers & wipes for when I'm traveling with Darsy!


Bottega has the BEST coffee on earth.  Seriously. 
And when they plunk down a tray of fresh, warm beignets and raspberry coulis to go with it, the world around you just fades away.


My brunch was beautiful and scrumptious.


Emma had their amazing quiche.  Can't you just see the deliciousness in this photo?


And then some time later, Melinda decided we all needed 
to share a pizza!!
It was one of the best pizzas I've ever tasted, too.
Bottega has a huge brick pizza oven.


And then a special little dessert came out for the momma to be, and we all passed it around and had a bite or two.
I don't know what it was but it was sure decadent & chocolatey!


Me and my sweet "girls" - we are just so excited about this baby!


Emma opened her gifts and it couldn't have been more girly fun...
First, a beautiful blanket hand crocheted by my sister!!
(I told you she can figure ANYTHING out.  This was her very first blanket and it's gorgeous.)


baby pink moccasins!

And Darsy's first Salt Water gold! I die.


I cannot fully express my gratitude for these three ladies' examples and godly influence in my daughter's life.  Though Emma was originally "hired" to help them with their families, they became dear friends and over the years became like family, really.  Each one has lavished her with love and has invested uniquely in her life.  Emma loves them and their children to the moon and back.  I know she is going to miss spending time with them but is very ready for her own momma adventure to begin. 

Lord willing, we will meet this sweet baby girl in a month!

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

WDW - creamy goddess salad dressing


My favorite dressing when I was a kid was "green goddess."  I'm not sure where the name came from (or what was in it), but I loved the creamy consistency.   Creamy dressings are just so wonderful... but they usually contain yukky mayonnaise.   So we stick to mostly vinaigrettes.  When I came across this dressing recipe using tahini, I thought it was a brilliant yet healthy way to add some creaminess to a salad.  I have made it a couple times now, and I just love it!

Tonight I made a salad using our fantastic fresh garden greens and beets (which I oven-roasted), some avocado, leftover steak, and this lovely dressing.   With daylight savings time in action, and the warm weather, this felt like the perfect summer dinner.

 Lemon Tahini goddess dressing

  1. Toss all ingredients into a Vitamix, small food processor, or standard kitchen blender.
  2. Blend until well combined and smooth.
Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator. Use within 1 week.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WDW: Probiotic Power Punch!

It's sickie season, and though I usually escape illness fairly well, this season I've gotten a couple of mild colds and a nasty infection.  

So, I'm trying to be proactive about eating lots of greens, fresh veggie juices, vitamin and antioxidant rich fruits, and probiotic foods, such as yogurt, kefir, and the like. Probiotics are especially helpful to boost all that good bacteria in your gut (where most of your immune system operates).   Today's recipe is a favorite new breakfast that I tweaked from this yummy chia seed pudding recipe  (except I sub in maple syrup for the sweetener in the above).   

I'm a HUGE fan of raw dairy products, and we are fortunate to have Organic Pastures dairy here in California (and we are fortunate that raw dairy is LEGAL!).   My local Sprouts market sells their products, including their raw kefir.   Kefir has more probiotics than yogurt, so I buy it often and mix it into smoothies or pour it over some fruit.   I decided to blend my love for the chia pudding with my desire to eat more probiotics.  The result was smashing!  Try it soon!

Kefir Chia Pudding
Serves 1 

1 cup raw kefir (or at least use organic, unsweetened if you can't get raw)
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
fresh berries of choice
real maple syrup
toasted coconut, (or granola, nuts, etc.)

In a serving bowl, stir the kefir and chia seeds together.   Chill at least 45 minutes.
Top with a drizzle of maple syrup and toasted coconut. 

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