Grow

We're growing our own organic garden this year and hoping it'll cut back on our grocery bill next spring. The herbs and romaine I planted last year can't stop growing and are giving me so much, I've made herbs de provence with almost every dinner, and it's saved me money on my daily GG smoothies. So far we have mint, thyme, cilantro, rosemary, sage, and tarragon. I placed a couple of the herbs in their containers and kept forgetting to plant them but overtime, they grew roots on their own, and broke through the bottom of the container. In our dirt pods, we've planted cucumber, spinach, corn, beets, squash, cantaloupe, watermelon, and goji berries. We have a greenhouse (a small one we found on amazon and it works great), some dirt, seeds, and a little time and motivation, and we're hoping to reap the benefits next year. 


Kacie's Cookies

Last month Kacie sent me a box of homemade rosemary lemon cookies. At first I thought she hated me because who adds rosemary to a perfectly well baked cookie? I've never imagined rosemary in a baked good and she opened up my taste buds to a new world of herbed desserts.  They were so delicious, I asked for the recipe. It's such a surprising ingredient and it's always a hit when I tell people what's in it. You can find her recipe here. Thank you, Kacie! 


Unplugged for 40 Days

I don’t want the title to be misleading- I gave up TV for lent, not for good, and I still spent hours on the internet. I’m not scolding anyone for watching TV, just listing how awesome it was from my own personal experience. 

I've never participated in it but I didn’t know lent was something talked about until I read Jen's post. I thought it was like tithing- it’s personal. I wanted to share this because unlike tithing, something required, lent was a choice. I chose to challenge myself. The whole point of lent is to substitute whatever you're giving up to replace with acts of worship or something to get closer to God. I decided on TV because I love TV. I've never loved TV so much than I have at this moment of my life. I find comfort in it, I find humor in it, I find inspiration from it. If I want to tune out sad feelings, watching TV is a great alternative to feeling them. So I gave up the one thing I didn't want to give up. I decided to replace with worship music, and I made a playlist. The first hour was good, I felt inspired and ready to take on the next days. However, I barely made it through the first day. I had no idea how much terrible worship music was out there and it took me weeks to find something good. Once I got over my music tastes, I found out giving up TV was one of the better things I’ve ever done for myself- 

I ate cleaner. I didn’t watch commercials for food, or cooking or baking shows. I really believe in the out of sight, out of mind meaning. I didn’t see sweets or fatty foods, I didin’t crave them.

I moved more. I get bored. I get antsy. If I was sitting at my computer too long without the tv on, I got up, left the house, walked to the grocery store out of boredom, ran on the treadmill to listen to more music. 

Combine those both, and I lost weight. It was a mix of moving more, and eating better

I tweeted less. I didn’t realize how many tv-related tweets I had. Plus I didn’t want to read spoilers. 

I slept more. I didn’t have HGTV on at midnight. As soon as I was in bed, I was asleep a minute later. I’ve never experienced 8 hours of sleep since high school and according to my fitbit, I hit 7-8 hours every night. 

Less triggers. No baby commercials! To clarify, babies are NOT triggers for me (half my Instagram feed are babies, and I love and celebrate each one) but if I'm staring off into the TV, my mind goes into dark terrible places.  

I discovered new and loved music. I love music but over the years I’ve stopped listening to it as much because of TV. I pulled out old vinyl, and listened to over a hundred albums on my queue in rdio.  

Surprisingly I didn’t read much. I was in the middle of reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker, but I didn’t want to be influenced by her experience, I wanted to have my own so I put it down for lent. I read my Bible more, I felt more inspired without images, I blogged more, I had a cleaner home, we took up gardening to name a few. I dealt with issues that made a big step in going forward in my grief.  When we finally did watch TV, we weren't that impressed. Our DVR was filled and by the time lent was over, we had less than 2 hours of recording space. Today we just got rid of premium cable, deleted a bunch of TV shows, and are contemplating canceling netflix. I know it's only less than $10 a month but that money seems to steal me away from what I loved experiencing most- life! Like I mentioned, I loved TV more than most people and everything works in moderation, but there was no such thing for me. I hope this helps someone out there contemplating giving up TV, or even less of it. 

Friday Darlings

Every Friday I have a weekly collection of things I find darling. 

This week has been busy and full of love and friends. There has been three visits to Disneyland in one week, meeting online friends, celebrating birthdays, gardening, and flea markets. 

This week has been busy and full of love and friends. There has been three visits to Disneyland in one week, meeting online friends, celebrating birthdays, gardening, and flea markets. 

+ Clean eating approved cheesecake? It exists

+ This has been my favorite lip liner for the past few weeks. I didn't realize I wear it so often, I'm almost out. It's a mix of pink but with a red undertone. 

+ Friday night pizza night

+ This is what I'll be doing this weekend. 

+ I love love what Savannah carries in her bag, even the baby stuff. 

+ The culture of Pinterest- I don't agree with all of it, it's worth a read. 

+ I would love to shop at this

+ I love what this company does and who they do it for. 

Enjoy your Good Friday! 

Art School Dropout + A Giveaway!

Yep, this is a sponsored giveaway but don't worry, it's a brand I 100% support, love and recommend!

What I have up on my wall, this adorable pink Home Sweet Home banner, took 4-6 days to complete. It was a process of handmade, detailed labor of love from Jessee, founder and artisan behind Art School Dropout. I won't go into too much detail to give away her daily grind secrets, but I'm forever impressed. She may be an art school drop out, but her work was a best sellers. Her shop has a little bit for everyone, including the best selling banners, but also accessories and other things you didn't realize you needed until now. 

I really didn't know what to expect when I read "hand cast plastic". When it arrived, it was beautiful. Now I see what the description means when it says "one of a kind". It looks like glitter, but it's not overbearing. It will fit any type of decor and when you walk by it, there's an extra surprise. 

Transient
Transient
Transient
Transient

A lucky reader will have your own chance to win one of these awesome banners! The winner can choose any banner in the shop, that includes pre-orders or custom colors! All you have to do is enter below (click here to enter in case the entry form isn't showing). 

Custom Nike ID Low Blazers

I don't need another pair of sneakers, but I found myself on the Nike ID page and a few minutes later I got a confirmation saying my shoes were ordered. When they arrived, they were so beautiful, I had to take a million angles of a pair of shoes. As for the size, they are a tad bigger than the Nike Free's I normally wear for working out. I'm not sure if that's the style of the Blazer or just weird in sizing. I'm a 7.5 and that's what I ordered, but there is a little bit of room to wiggle my toes. I'm sure that extra space will come in handy when my feet are swollen from the summer heat. If you just want to purchase the Blazers but not make your own, I love these, these and these (and this pair if you're feeling brave).

Friday Darlings

Every Friday I have a weekly collection of things I find darling. 

This photo was taken at The Chromatic Gate in Santa Barbara.

This photo was taken at The Chromatic Gate in Santa Barbara.

+ I love makeup. LOVE. I love neon bright lipstick, smoky eyes before noon, and blush that looks unnatural on purpose- not all at once but you're brave if you can pull it off. I think it's also brave to go without makeup, especially when you're a fashion blogger. Leandra writes about how she feels when people call her ugly because she chooses not to wear makeup and it's as beautiful as her (makeup or not)

+ I can't deny my love for pink and readers associate that. This made my day. 

+ On the topic, I love this pinterest board

+ This makes me want to dust off my bike and go riding again. 

+ Calm Your Anxiety. 

+  I've been eyeing The Paper Mama's jewelry displays and they're available to purchase. 

+ 12 Books to Read for Spring

+ I have a Fitbit now. Let's cheer/taunt each other

+ Social Media Etiquette from someone who has kept it classy. 

+ I've been eyeing this camera strap! So pretty. 

+ I don't need another cute camera bag. I don't need another cute camera bag. I don't need another cute camera bag. I don't need another cute camera bag. I.DON'T.NEED.ANOTHER.CUTE.CAMERA. BAG. !!!!

+ Friday night pizza night! 

I hope you enjoy your weekend! 

Turntable Kitchen!

Every year I get Ashley's birthday gift from Sephora, she's the beauty queen after all. I never expect anything in return, but this year, she outdid me by not only buying me a gift I love, but an experience! She introduced me to Turntable Kitchen with a one month gift subscription. Before you roll your eyes at another subscription box, this one is different. Turntable Kitchen has been a blog bringing together music and recipes. They were so successful at it, they introduced their blog to your doorstep, The Pairings Box. It's three recipes with a main ingredient and comes with a limited edition 7" vinyl from an up and coming indie band. Mine was turmeric as the main ingredient and I got IYES 7" with a limited edition cover of Beyonce's Crazy in Love with less than 150 copies made of the type of vinyl I got. 

I love cooking and always having music going, it seemed like such a natural concept and it's been executed beautifully. I cooked a turmeric chicken with mint orange salad, and served it with their jalapeño agave lemonade (I added mint to mine). I played it on my portable turntable and it's small enough to fit in the kitchen. The recipe cards come on high quality card stock, so if you get it a little messy, they'll survive. TK also carries a wooden box for their vinyls and recipe cards. The whole gift was wonderful- the discovery of new music on vinyl (it always sounds better on vinyl), the recipes, which were healthy and can easily be substituted if needed, and the discovery of new food, and my growing love for cooking. Thank you Ashley! Obviously I sent the thank you card too soon! Check out Turntable Kitchen and their subscriptions

Locals Only; Amazing Cakes

I was surprised with a birthday cake from my family. I came home from Disneyland and when I walked in, Scott asked me to get him a glass of water. Before giving him the sideye (I can't remember him asking him for a glass of water the 6 years I've been married to him), I opened the fridge and there it was, in all it's glory. It's so beautiful in real life, these photos don't do the details the merit it deserves. Also, please note I've never used "merit" for a cake. 

The flavor was chocolate and it was delicious. Our family uses Amazing Cakes whenever we need to celebrate something. I mean, you can't have the word "amazing" in your store name unless you meet expectations and beyond and they do! They were also voted Best Wedding Cake for 2012 Bride's Choice Award. You can check out the gallery here. UPDATE! I should point out this cake is large enough for 8-10 people and cost a little under $50. 

Amazing Cakes

524 N. Magnolia Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Phone: 714-995-3399

Locals Only is a series on our.city.lights blog highlighting Anaheim and surrounding areas in the OC. If you're a small business and would like exposure on this blog, I love supporting local business'. Contact me here.

Friday Darlings

Every Friday I have a weekly collection of things I find darling. 

My CSA has brought an abundance of green beans. I made The Pioneer Woman's recipe but substituted the bacon fat for coconut oil. It was so good, I had seconds and made them again for dinner. (insert wide eyed emoji)

My CSA has brought an abundance of green beans. I made The Pioneer Woman's recipe but substituted the bacon fat for coconut oil. It was so good, I had seconds and made them again for dinner. (insert wide eyed emoji)

+ Get a cup of coffee and tissue ready, this blog post is long, beautiful, painful and joyful to read all at once. I was so moved by it, when I commented, I realized I spelled my name wrong. The emotions I felt while reading really blew my mind. 

+ Skateboarders and cameras. I don't know what else I can to lure you in  to watch this but those two words would have my interest. 

+ Candelles is having selling out of their Spring line really quick. Get them while you can!

+ So tempted to buy these, they look so cool on her. Plus the last photo. 

+ Once again, Danielle shared another great link with me. I have to dig through my photos but I think the most beautiful library I've been to was in Utah in SLC.

+ While you're on Danielle's blog, read this.  Her thoughts on social media and friendships. 

+ 10 Things I Would Have Never Done Before Becoming a "Blogger"

+ The history of the color pink. 

+ Lomography offers a film subscription. If I picked up my analog cameras more often, I would love to do this. 

+ Tips for The Traveling Vegan

+ NYCPL adds high resolution images to their database for free use. This is awesome if you're a scrapbooker or want to use them for digital. Or just print it for your home. 

+ Friday night pizza night!

Enjoy your Friday 

Hearst Castle

We stayed in San Simeon and took a drive to Hearst Castle. It was my first time going and I was amazed. I was amazed at the architecture, the art work, the landscaping, everything about it was either really tacky or really sophisticated but I loved it all! 

Lace peplum top from j.crew and Neapolitan Punchline glasses from Rivet and Sway

Lace peplum top from j.crew and Neapolitan Punchline glasses from Rivet and Sway

Read more about Hearst Castle here

6 Months

  

At San Simeon, California 

At San Simeon, California 

I consider myself a strong person, but Max’s death was tough. People who loved me didn't love me enough to handle the pain. Bloggers and acquaintances who didn't like me put aside their pride and ego to love. People reached out, friends ran away, strangers became friends, but ultimately humanity showed itself, the beauty and the ugly of it. Max broke people's hearts but he also showed me love. What happened is something I would call remarkable, almost supernatural. Only love can do that. Only love can rush the adrenaline of strangers. Scott and I remember opening up a gift box, our home overflowed with condolence cards, flowers, and packages, and multiple gift cards to places we would never think we would miss, like shopping at Trader Joe’s or Mother’s Market. They were gifts we will not long soon forget and ones we will always be thankful for. We came home from the hospital thinking we would quietly mourn our baby's life. We had no idea how many people would be impacted by this. We sincerely thank you for celebrating his life along with us. 

So much of yourself is revealed when things don't go your way. I still shake my head in confusion of the whole thing- healthy baby, healthy pregnancy, healthy parents. I miss you, Baby Max. 

For now, this will be my last post on Max. I will come back and write about him when I feel it’s right, it could be a couple months or maybe a year. I know a lot of grieving moms found my blog and connected with me, and I’m so grateful for those paths crossing. Please email me and I promise to email back. I’ve opened up on my blog because it’s a place I felt the safest to share. It may not be as personal as my journal or my therapy sessions, but it was helpful in my recovery. Thanks for reading. 

March 2014 Favorites

Let's take a look back at favorites for March 2014

Favorite Instagram feed is brandivannevel. Brandi's photos are simple. They don't need much editing, and there are no heavy filtered photos to distract you from the photo. In the middle of a adorable baby photos, cute selfies, sophisticated florals and stylish OOTD's, Brandi's peaceful photo pop ups and it's like you're on a mini-vacation with her. 

Favorite purchase would be our vacation. Okay, so we get free hotel nights with points on our only credit card but they are worth saving up for. We splurged on healthier meal options at Whole Foods by our hotels instead of cheaper fast food. It was more romantic having a picnic on the beach than coming back to our hotel room bloated and moody. I also have a new appreciation for California, the beaches it has, and sunsets it offers.

Favorite moment was my birthday week. It was one big moment of awesome. I loved the surprises, whether it was the sunrise from a California beach (I'm a big cheese ball but so true), or flowers from Kaelah, texts from unexpected and long lost friends, to Instagram comments, I seriously took them all in and enjoyed them. Even those moments of sadness, I didn't take any tears for granted. 

Favorite book was re-reading The Outsiders. It's one of my favorite books. After this huge life changing moment I experienced, everything is seen with a new set of eyes, including books. I discovered what I loved about it all over again and caught new words formed together I believe SE Hinton wrote for just for me.

Favorite music is a tie between Twin Forks and Allison Weiss. Twin Forks is Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba's new project. When I listen to it, it sounds like Chris Carrabba grew up with his fans. While we all swooned with him over ex's, now we're singing about stable marriages and families. The music is indie, with kick-drum folky tune to it. Allison Weiss is a younger, newer (2009-ish) artist but just because she's newer doesn't mean she can't keep up with her own written indie music. I love pop-punk and with Allison's female vocals to lead the catchy music, it works. Listen to Allison Weiss on rdio or spotify. Listen to Twin Forks on rdio or spotify. 

Honorable mention- Favorite pinnner would be Vanessa Joie. Some people have a talent for knowing what’s going to be big and Vanessa has a great eye for this. Her taste is fun and her creative mind leaks through curated pins. 

Here's to April 2014! 

Birthday: In Context

I remember reading this article (NSFW) on the truth behind Instagram photos and while it was funny, it reminded us our life can't be judged in snapshots. Brandy, one of my favorite Canadians and bloggers, recently posted on what's the reality behind each snapshot. While I make it very clear my life isn't perfect on my blog, ultimately, people don't know the whole story. I thought I'd have fun with the idea and tell what the reality is behind these shots for my birthday. 

I'm in this weird dress size- not back to my old dress size but I'm swimming in my maternity clothes. It took me four dresses from Nordstrom and Amazon to find one. The day before, Janelle, a friend who doesn't have a Facebook, blog, Twitter, etc (bless you, Janelle) sent me this perfectly matching Betsey Johnson clutch not knowing the color I chose. 

We went to Lemonade for a light lunch. I looked so touristy taking a million shots on my DSLR. 

How meta is it to wear the sunglasses named after you? I'm out of my element here because I'm wearing pink and contacts. I also had no idea how awesome sunglasses were. They hide all the tears while still looking fab. 

Birthday scarf! I was a little bummed the salesgirl at Nordstrom totally dragged this on the way to the counter like a wet towel. 

After walking around Fashion Island, I went home to change. Pink is my favorite color but surprisingly that's the only pink pieces of clothing I own and I was so uncomfortable. I went back home to change and added my Audrey sunglasses before heading to Disney California Adventure. 

We went to Carthay Circle. The sodas were ROSE PETAL sodas. I love roses but not in my drink.

Birthday Disneyland Frap! I'm lactose intolerant so I don't have to tell you what happens behind this photo. 

I came home to a custom birthday cake. I loved it so much, I took a million shots of it and everyone was annoyed at how long I was taking. They don't understand the life of a blogger :P It was so beautiful, I'm devoting a full post to it later. 

Overall my birthday was great.  As I was doing these "in context" photos, I had a hard time finding the negative in them. When I post photos, even if they are styled, there's not much behind them. I see the positivity and beauty in my own real life, I don't think the life I display on my blog or Instagram is that much different. My life isn't perfect, but it's simple and what others would call boring. And that, for me, makes it perfect.

Friday Darlings

Every Friday I have a weekly collection of things I find darling

+ I have so many photos to edit this week, I have no idea where to begin but I'm so excited to finally sit down and play with them. I literally took so many photos on vacation, I had to find a Fry's Electronics to buy another 60gb SD card because I barely have room on my Mac Air (my travel buddy!) but I didn't want to delete photos off my other camera card either. The struggle is real. 

+ Spring is the best season. Science says so

+ Stephen King's On Writing is a must read for any published or aspiring writer. He offers 20 more tips on topic. 

+ Scare the world.

+ I ate pretty good on vacation but I'm kicking up my diet to my old eating habits and going shopping this weekend. It'll be 6 months in April, and I seriously need to stop using the "I just had a baby" excuse for not getting in better shape. I'm not ashamed of my body- it's been through so much and I carried a baby plus delivered but I would love to be stronger. I'll be sure to share before and after pics! 

+ The Making of Harry Potter.

+ Did you check out the new colors for Harveys Bags? They're limited edition, grab one while you can! 

+ It's Friday night, pizza night! 

+ I love Lauren and her reasons for eating healthy. 

+ Is Pinterest the new search engine? I found these amazing Twin Peaks tattoos and I can't stop scrolling. 

+  This is the only lipstick I've ever finished and every year just like spring arrives, so does a new tube.

Enjoy your weekend! 

LOL Disposable Camera Challenge

Katie from Skunkboy Creatures has a fun disposable camera challenge. I've had the disposable LOL Cam sitting in my drawer for a couple years (and thankfully the battery didn't die out!) Coincidentally, I first used it when I was in Santa Barbara and finished the roll 2 years later in SB. I love "full circle" connections!

I should point out I normally get my film done from Dwayne's and Old School Photo Lab but for something quick like this, I did go to Walgreens per Katie's recommendation. My roll was off either because of the film winding or the Walgreens guy didn't cut it right. Either way, I love them even if they're a little off center. It highlights the weird! 

You can see them all here and there's even a flickr group dedicated to the camera

The camera is sold out but there are different variations of the camera here and here

 

Pause

This week's Friday Darling's won't be going up, partially because I'm limited on wifi while I'm away and I had such a crazy fun birthday week, I completely forgot to organize a post for today.  For fun links, I recommend the following blogs

+ Sometimes Sweet

+ Aspen Summit

+ Chocolate Cream and Cake

+ The Clueless Girl

+ Oh So Pretty

+ Lauren Conrad

I'm relaxing, celebrating life, unplugging this weekend, posting the occasionally pic on Instagram and editing photos with this view below. I mean, work is hard sometimes but can you see why I can't concentrate much? The view from my hotel is so ugly :P