Monday Musings

monday musings

How have you been and how was your weekend?!?!?

These past two weeks I’ve taken a break from writing have been jam-packed! We took our first real vacation as a family of three, gone through a ridiculous heat wave in San Diego, had family come visit, have been sleeping much less due to a teething baby and now officially have a SEVEN month old!

I call our vacation two weeks ago to Lake Tahoe our first REAL family vacation because all of our trips so far have been to visit family or work-related. Not that those trips don’t count for anything or weren’t fun, but this one was really just us three. We didn’t have any major Cecilia meltdowns which we were so thankful for and we LOVED our time in Tahoe and want to make it a yearly tradition. Growing up, my family went to Tahoe every winter, and I am so excited that we want to start a similar tradition with our family.

Teething is no joke, y’all! Cecilia was sleeping fairly well (only waking once a night) up until a couple of weeks ago and now she wakes up every three hours or so. Oh, and she also hates taking long naps now, so by the end of the day I have one crazy tired baby. Sigh…

I’m obsessed with the show Fixer Upper again. Even though I’ve mentioned before that the end design can be pretty predictable, I love that show so much.

Did you watch the MTV VMAs? I watched some of it and I’ve never felt older…or more over-dressed. I didn’t know a bunch of the performers and didn’t understand any of the performances. I’m 80 years old.

I’m in denial that tomorrow is September.

While I’m in denial about today being the last day of August, I’m excited because I absolutely love Fall. I love eating everything pumpkin under the sun, decorating our house and everything else that comes with the season.

DIY Painted Wood Jewelry Boxes

It’s time for another nap time project!

diy painted jewelry boxes

My last nap time project was for Cecilia, but this was one was all for me!

Since my daughter was born, my typical daytime outfit has been Lululemon pants and a plain top. Lately, I’ve been trying to break out of that rut and wear actual clothes during the day. While I haven’t been completely successful at it, I’ve found that even just wearing nice earrings, a bracelet or necklace have completely changed the way I feel about my Lululemon uniform.

I’ve never been a big on accessories, but I had a Stella & Dot party a few months back with my friend Lauren and was able to buy some classic pieces that I loved and that really upgraded my day-to-day look. The new influx of jewelry motivated me to do a major clean out of things I had that I no longer liked or haven’t worn in years. It also made me want a new jewelry box for all of my things and after a ton of research online I couldn’t find one that I liked that wasn’t completely overpriced. So what did I do? I made my own!

diy painted jewelry boxes

Off to Michaels I went, and I purchased one of these standup boxes and two of these books. I also bought these Martha Stewart stencils.

I started off by painting everything my favorite aqua color that I used in the past on Cecilia’s piggy bank.

diy painted jewelry boxes

I had to use a couple of coats, but once that dried, I was ready to move on to stenciling! I had never used Martha Stewart stencils, but I have to say that I LOVED the ones I did use because they have a light adhesive on them that keeps them from moving around while you paint – no extra tape needed!

diy painted jewelry boxes

diy painted jewelry boxes

I chose different stencil designs for each drawer, but, of course, you can use all the same ones if that’s what you prefer. After that, I was ready to tackle the inside of the boxes. For the two books, I just measured out a piece of white felt, cut it and used my trusty hot glue gun to adhere it to the bottom of the box. DONE! For the standup box, it was a bit trickier.

The two wooden “books” are being used for my bracelets and necklaces, but I wanted the standup box to be for my earrings and rings, so I needed to be able to store them a bit better than just laying them down on some felt.

For this, I first measured and cut wooden dowels to the width of each drawer. I cut felt to match that width then wrapped and glued it around the dowel.

diy painted jewelry boxes

diy painted jewelry boxes

After those were good to go, I popped those into each drawer.

diy painted jewelry boxes

And that’s it! My new jewelry boxes were ready for jewelry!

diy painted jewelry boxes

diy painted jewelry boxes

diy painted jewelry boxes

diy painted jewelry boxes

TOOLS USED (all purchased at Michaels)
ArtMinds Wooden 4 Drawer Box
ArtMinds Wooden Book Box
Martha Stewart Crafts Scrolls Adhesive Stencils
Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Satin and Metallic Acrylic Craft Paint (in Aquarium in Satin and Yellow Gold in Metallic)
Plaid Spouncer Stenciling Sponges, 1/4″
Creatology Wood Dowels

 

Monday Musings

monday musings

How was your weekend? I feel like we were going, going, going all weekend long! I’m actually looking forward to the week so I can relax. Is that crazy?

The photo above isn’t the best looking, but it’s of my husband playing with Idina Menzel here in San Diego on Saturday. She’s in the top center signing Defying Gravity and he’s top left playing the viola. I am a HUGE fan of hers and was so happy to be able to go to the show and tell everyone around me my husband was on stage with her :) The show was amazing. She’s incredibly witty and knows how to work an audience.

One of my favorite parts of the show (and there were many) was at the very end when she went into the audience for the second time and had all the kids come up and sing Let it Go with her. She put the microphone on them and it was so adorable. I was just sad that my little one (who was with me and did very well at her first big concert) is too young to participate. Next time!

I’m back in the reading groove! I FINALLY finished Angels & Demons. OMG, it took forever because Dan Brown books are like 500 pages. I didn’t see the final twist coming, though, so it made it all worth it.

Yesterday Cecilia went for a ride in the “big girl part” of the stroller, meaning she wasn’t in her carseat attached to the stroller. My gosh, she loved it! She kept kicking and swinging her feet as we were walking and was having such a great time. It was so sweet.

Our summer vacation is coming up next week! For whatever reason, I keep forgetting I’m going on vacation and haven’t started planning, etc. I’ve added that to this week’s “to do” list!

I’ve finally found the one thing my daughter – peas! I don’t blame her, though, because I don’t like them so much either. It was just kind of funny though because she makes “mmmmm” sounds the entire time she eats and can’t wait to get the next bite, but with peas, that was definitely not the case. I guess she can’t like it all!

Bacon, Brussels Sprouts and Ricotta Pizza

There are so many things I love about this pizza. Let me count the ways…

bacon, brussels sprouts and ricotta pizza

1. I first made it a few months back and since have probably made it twice a month. I think once I made it four times in a two week span. It’s that good.

2. There’s bacon in it.

3. Even if you don’t like Brussels sprouts, I guarantee you will like this pizza. The sprouts pretty much cook in the bacon fat and nothing can beat that.

4. It’s easy.

5. No pizza dough? The bacon/spouts topping can be eaten as a side. There have been a couple of times where I wasn’t able to roll my dough out enough to use all the sprouts, so I just popped the extras in my fridge and had them for lunch the next day.

6. There is no way you can just stand in your kitchen while you’re waiting for the dough to finish pre-baking and not eat these sprouts by the forkful.

7. My husband thinks this is the best pizza I make.

8. If left to my own devices, I could probably eat this whole thing in one sitting.

9. Bacon.

10. Bacon.

bacon, brussels sprouts and ricotta pizza

Okay, maybe those last two were cop outs just so I could get to 10.

This pizza is super easy, and like I said, the sprouts could be eaten on their own. Whenever I make this, I use plain pizza dough from Trader Joe’s as well as the bag of shaved brussels sprouts they sell. They’re by no means a requirement (you could make your own dough and thinly slice the sprouts), but they make things that much easier if you’re crunched for time.

I hope you enjoy this pizza as much as we do! It really is a big hit in our house!

Bacon, Brussels Sprouts and Ricotta Pizza
Yields 1 12-inch pizza

Ingredients
1 pound of your favorite pizza dough (I use plain dough from Trader Joe’s)
12 ounces applewood smoke bacon, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
10 ounces shaved Brussels sprouts (if you can’t find ones already shaved, you can thinly slice whole sprouts)
4-6 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese (the amount you need depends on how cheesy you want your pizza!)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
Salt, to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425F.
  • On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out your dough to your desired shape and size (12 inch diameter is ideal to fit all the topping).
  • Cook the dough in your oven until crust is a light golden brown, approximately 10-15 minutes. Set aside once done.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium high heat, cook the bacon until brown, about 10 minutes.
  • Once the bacon is brown, add the brussels sprouts and stir to combine. Really let the sprouts soak up all the lovely bacon fat!
  • Once the skillet is dry, add the vinegar, pepper flakes and a few pinches of salt. Once everything is added, let the sprouts get brown, but still stir every once in a while so they don’t burn. If your pan gets a little dry, add a small amount of olive oil.
  • When the sprouts are brown, remove from the heat and taste them. Add salt, if needed.
  • Top the pre-baked crust with the brussels sprouts mix.
  • Top with dollops of ricotta.
  • Bake an additional 8-10 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
  • Enjoy!

Monday Musings

monday musings

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?

Ever since Gilmore Girls was released on Netflix, it has been on a constant loop in my house. I’m not even exaggerating that. I’ve probably watched the whole series four or five times just on Netflix. That’s not even including the many, many times I watched it on DVD before that. I may be addicted.

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that I did some canning again last week. This week it was Blackberry Jam with Lemons Zest from my new favorite cookbook Canning for a New GenerationI made it one night after Cecilia went to sleep and I’m so surprised all the cans sealed and the jam tastes good because I was a complete klutz in the kitchen that night. Things were getting knocked over and spilled left and right, that I just had to laugh at the end of it all.

This Saturday my husband is playing with THE Idina Menzel. Cecilia and I are going to the concert and I CANNOT wait. I love her and want to be her BFF. Whenever I listen to the Wicked soundtrack I only sing the Elphaba songs (except for Popular) and I watch YouTube videos of her all the time. So pumped!

My baby is officially six months old. I have no idea how that happened. What I do know is that I want to squish her and kiss her all day long.

Are you up on your Housewives episodes? Am I the only one who likes Meghan on RHOC? I feel like I am. Maybe it’s because I’m just a little older than she is and I cannot stand how the older ladies just keep referring to her as a
“30-year-old?” What’s wrong with being 30? I think they may be a tad jealous.

So, it’s August. ACK! I’m going to hold on tight to these last weeks of summer. Fall is my favorite season (I love the clothes and the decor), but this summer has been so fun with my baby girl that I want it to last forever.

Five Favorites: Baby Items, Part Four

five favorites: baby items, part four

Fisher Price 4-in-1 Sling ‘n Seat Tub – When I was pregnant and making my registry, I was very up in the air about whether I wanted to get an special infant tub or not. Once I decided to register for a tub, I did a lot of research and ended up with this one and I am so happy I did. We started using it once we got the go-ahead to start using soap for Cecilia’s bath and it has grown with her since and I imagine will be able to use this for quite some time since there are four different stages. The tub is super easy to clean after each bath and doesn’t take up any space to store since it hangs over a door. The hanger on it was really what sold me to register for this one since we don’t have lots of storage in our small condo. Cecilia really loves this bath and it has truly become one of my favorite items.

Kiddo Feedo Baby Food Freezer Tray – Once we got the go-ahead to start giving Cecilia solid food, I did a ton of research on which freezer trays were the best. There are a lot of options out there and a lot of different price points, but I decided to go with Kiddo Feedo. These trays are awesome. I read a lot of reviews of other trays and the main complaint about them was that the food was really hard to get out of the tray once it was frozen. I have never had a problem with these. The food pops out so easily with no messes left behind. I have a purple and yellow tray, but they come in a few other colors as well. They also have FANTASTIC customer service – super quick to respond and they truly want their customers to be happy. I had a question about my trays and the co-founder of the company was the one to write me back!

On a baby food side note, stay tuned for a whole new section on the blog with information about making baby food and recipes! Until then (and even after), you can find my recipes on Facebook and Instagram.

Beaba 1st Stage Silicone Spoons – These Beaba spoons are fantastic! Super sturdy, but still soft enough for the little one. I love the colors and that they’re super easy to clean. Cecilia really tries to feed herself sometimes and the spoons are the perfect size for her to try to do that. She’s in teething mode and since she loves to gnaw on these when she’s eating, we’ve given her one of them as a teether on one or two occasions.

Aden + Anais Wearable Blanket – In my first baby favorites post, I talked about how I loved Aden + Anais swaddle blankets. I still love those and use them, but now that baby girl is in her crib and rolling around in there a ton, I don’t use them for bed time and have switched these wearable blankets. They’re made of the same soft and lightweight fabric as the blankets, but they have holes for her arms and zip her up like a little sleeping bag. They are perfect for our mild San Diego nights and get softer the more we wash them. LOVE!

Ingenuity Chair Top High Chair – Space-saving products were a big plus when I was researching baby items. This high chair is not only great because it’s so easy to clean up baby food messes, but it also just attaches to one of our dining chairs so it doesn’t take up an extra space in our tiny place. We just started using this about six weeks ago when Cecilia started eating purées and there is still a bunch of room for her to grow in it, so I’m hoping she’ll using it for a while to come!

Disclosure: This was not a sponsored post and I have no affiliation with any of these companies besides the fact that I use and love their products :)

Test Kitchen: Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate

Hello, my name is Christina and I’m a coffee snob.

test kitchen: cold brew coffee

I wasn’t always this way, though. It’s only been the past couple of years that my coffee snobby-ness has gone to a completely new level. I actually didn’t drink coffee/caffeine for about five years after college and still don’t drink it crazy often now, but (in my mind) I know good coffee/espresso when I taste it.

One of the reasons for my snobby-ness is that my North Park neighborhood is quickly becoming not only the biggest beer neighborhood in San Diego, but also a big coffee neighborhood. And, we’re talking good coffee. While we do have one of THOSE popular coffee shops that sell the mochachoco frappalatte type drinks, we have more than a handful of craft coffee shops within a three block radius of one another.

I’m generally a cappuccino gal, but my husband is a cold brew fanatic and has quickly turned me onto the coffee drink that’s the current rage in these parts.

test kitchen: cold brew coffee

Now, don’t confuse cold brew with iced coffee; cold brew is far superior. While iced coffee is pretty much just pouring hot coffee over ice, cold brew is slightly more time-consuming and uses no heat at all to brew the coffee. The result is a fantastically smooth and refreshing coffee drink with less acidity and bitterness than hot coffee or iced coffee. Case in point, I would never be able to drink a cup of regular ol’ hot coffee because of all the acidity, but could totally drink a cup of cold brew.

I’ve been wanting to make cold brew at home, so my husband doesn’t have to go out and buy it all the time and when I went online to research some recipes, I found that there were lots of differing opinions about the best way to make cold brew. Because I love to recipe test and my dream job would be to work at America’s Test Kitchen, I decided to do my own home experiment and have my husband do a blind taste test to determine which method was the best.

Most recipes were in agreement about how long the coffee should brew and the ratio of grounds to water, but the size of the grounds (coarse or fine) and type of beans (medium roast or dark roast) were up for debate. My four different cold brew batches were 1) fine grounds/medium roast, 2) fine grounds/dark roast, 3) coarse grounds/medium roast and 4) coarse grounds/dark roast.

AND THE WINNER WAS….

Coarse grounds/medium roast!

Fine grounds/dark roast took second and the other two were a distant third and fourth place. The winner was really smooth while the others had quite a bit of bitterness to them which wasn’t super refreshing or something I’d be able to enjoy an entire cup of. What did I do with the non-winning cold brew? I made coffee ice cubes! Yup, just put that extra cold brew in an ice tray to add to future cold brew. The bonus of coffee ice cubes is that when they melt, they won’t water down your drink! Win!

Have you tried cold brew, yet? What are your thoughts?

Cold Brew Coffee
Yields approximately 2 1/2 cups of concentrate

Ingredients
2/3 cup medium-roast coarse coffee grounds (the size you would use if you were brewing coffee in a french press)
3 cups filtered water

NOTE: You’ll also need a jar with an airtight lid large enough to steep your grounds, a strainer and some cheese cloth.

Directions

  • Place coffee grounds in a large pitcher or jar.
  • Slowly add the water to your container.
  • Stir gently with a non-metallic spoon (the handle of a wooden spoon works really well) to make sure all of the grounds get soaked in the water. Let sit five minutes, then gently stir again.
  • Top the container with a lid and set aside in a cool, dark place (room temperature is what I did) for 24 hours.
  • After the coffee grounds have steeped for 24 hours, line a strainer with two layers of cheesecloth and strain your cold brew.
  • The liquid you have left is your concentrate! Pour in a new, clean container and store it in the fridge.
  • How you enjoy your cold brew is up to you, but I like it over ice with some half and half.
  • Enjoy!

Monday Musings

monday musings

How was your weekend???? I feel like mine was jam-packed with fun, social events. On Saturday, I got together with some work friends and had a blast catching up. Many of them had never met Cecilia, so we all had a fantastic time staring at her cutie-patootie face :) Yesterday we had brunch with Stroller Strides friends. It was the first time we got together as a group with our babies AND husbands, so it was fun to get to know everyone as a group!

I think Cecilia is going through one major growth spurt. She has been cah-razy fussy and not sleeping so much. Which, of course, means mommy isn’t sleeping so much. Coffee was my BFF last week.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I had my first canning experience last week! I had so much fun and the final product was delicious and made some tasty breakfast. I’m canning something new this week and can’t wait!

Tomorrow my baby girl turns SIX MONTHS OLD!!!! Where the heck did the time go?!?!? She’s half way to her first birthday and I can’t believe it.

We went to our first library story time on Friday and had so much fun! Cecilia loved looking at the other babies and actually paid close attention during the story. Most of the San Diego library branches have different types of story times for kids, so I’m hoping to hit up more in the future.

Monday Musings

monday musings

How was your weekend? Our was pretty low-key because we had some INSANE very un-San Diego like weather. On Saturday it was super humid, in the 80s and we had a cah-razy thunderstorm! At one point the lightening was striking right in our neighborhood! My husband still had to work and he texted me after he left home saying that our main cross street was like a river. On Sunday it rained a bit, but it was hot and humid. I seriously felt like I lived in Texas again.

One big plus to all the rain (besides the fact we’re in a HUGE drought here in California)? My filthy car got a good washing!

Last week when I went grocery shopping, I bought four pound flat of peaches from Trader Joes. I ate them all, but one or two my husband ate. I bought more this week. I’m seriously going to turn into a peach.

I’m canning for the first time this week! I’ve been wanting to get started for a while, so I finally purchased a couple of books and all of the materials I didn’t have and I’m ready to go! So excited!

Have you seen this video of a baby seeing her parents clearly for the first time? I cried when I saw it. She has the sweetest expression and looked so happy and proud. Her big, bright eyes and huge smile reminded me so much of my baby girl. Adorable!

Did you buy anything on Amazon Prime Day? I was so pumped for it, but it definitely wasn’t what I expected, so I was disappointed. I hoped you scored some deals, though!

Have you heard of the Target app called Cartwheel? I LOVE it. I downloaded it a couple of weeks back and seriously check it everyday for exclusive deals. I saved an additional 20% on my last Target trip! I love a deal!

Summer Reading List Update

Have you been reading a lot this summer?

I told you last week that I was a book-reading machine the first few weeks of summer, but unfortunately fell off the bandwagon around mid-June. Cecilia now has a set bed time so I’ve promised myself that for 30 minutes after she falls asleep, I will sit down with my current book and unwind. I’ve found that during her afternoon nap time I’m always rushing to get some basic things done (ex: showering, eating, etc) that I don’t have time to really sit and enjoy what I’m reading because I’m thinking of all the other things I “should” be doing. Even though I’m super productive after she falls asleep, I’m going to dedicate 30 minutes to myself (and my book) to just relax and reboot before I finish out my daily “to do” list.

When I was on a roll with reading, I read three books from my summer reading list. In case you were looking for books to add to your summer reading (or just your general “to read” list), I thought I’d chat about them here.

summer reading list update

The Andy Cohen Diaries by Andy Cohen
If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know that I love, love, LOVE Bravo. Honestly, if I could watch only one channel on TV, it’d be Bravo. And when my husband and I decided to try a little experiment and get rid of our cable, my one major concern was, “but how am I going to watch all my Bravo shows?!?!?!”

This is Andy Cohen’s second book. While I haven’t read the first one, it’s totally on my “to read” list now that I’ve got this one under my belt. This book is fabulously trashy – and I mean “trashy” in a good way because he does some trash-talking and major name-dropping and I eat it all up. There are some instances where he doesn’t name names on purpose (mostly when referring to demanding Housewives or Watch What Happens Live guests) and I had fun trying to figure out who he was referring to. One major “storyline” in his book revolves around the adoption of his dog, Wacha, and it’s incredibly sweet to read how madly in love he is with him. The rest of the book a diary of his life each day for one year. It’s all about his celebrity BFFs (most notably SJP, Kelly Ripa and Anderson Cooper), jetset lifestyle and partying ways. Honestly, after reading this book I love him even more and want to count myself as one of his BFFs. If you already like Andy, or like any Bravo show, this is a great, fast, summer read!

summer reading list update

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I was really looking forward to reading this book because of all the great things I had read about it. While the book did have some twists and turns (and who doesn’t love those?!?), I didn’t find it to be as suspenseful as I was hoping. Some reviews I read talked about the book being “mind blowing” and “jaw dropping,” but unfortunately it wasn’t either of those things for me; I wanted it to be, but it wasn’t. I did appreciate the family relationships that were built at the beginning of this book, though. I could feel the tension between family members and those relationships had me hooked in the first few chapters. After those first chapters, though, this book lost me.

summer reading list update

 

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
To me, this book sounded like the epitome of a summer beach read since it takes places in the summer. On the beach.

The narrative jumps back and forth about seven years in time and revolves around the relationship between two college friends and one of those friends and her relationship with her college ex-boyfriend. Like many books, one of the girlfriends is the shy, conservative type while the other is the wild, beautiful one with many adoring male fans. At the beginning of the book you find out there is a rift between these two former best friends, so naturally you try and speed read through those chapters to get to the ones that “go back in time” in order to find out what happened between the two pals. I certainly foresaw some of the secrets that were uncovered in those chapters, but there were still some good plot twists and things I wasn’t expecting. The ending was a bit too soap opera/unrealistic to me, which kind of ruined it a bit for me, but overall this book was enjoyable.

What have you been reading this summer? I’m back into my reading mode, so check back her soon for more updates and reviews!