Baby | 5 Month Photo Shoot

He’s 5 months old already! Let me stop and let that sink in – 5 months! That is almost half a year, which is almost a year which means it’s almost his first birthday?! Okay, I guess not quite but it sure feels like it.  Seriously, you hear ‘they grow up so fast’ and boy is it true! I want him to stay this cute, little, squishy guy forever. Since he just had his 5th month birthday it was time for his photo shoot. 6MonthPhotoshoot_1 6MonthPhotoshoot_26MonthPhotoshoot_5 6MonthPhotoshoot_3 6MonthPhotoshoot_4

I am cherishing these moments when I get to dress him up in anything I want and he is still happy as can be – even if that means naked and a cap like Grandpa!

Baby | Travel Nursery

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Since it is always fun to take a peek into other people’s homes, I thought it was time to share what little man’s nursery looks like these days. We did not find out the gender prior to the birth, so we had to stick to a neutral color palette and plus, it gave me a reason to put white in the nursery despite everyone’s recommendations. Sometimes, ya just have to do what the heart wants to do! I love walking in there and seeing his smiling face lit up by the morning sunlight. It warms my heart even on the chillest of mornings!TravelNursery1TravelNursery7

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TravelNursery8 TravelNursery6 If anyone wants to know where anything is from please put it in the comments and I will do me best to answer :)

 

 

Broderick | 4 Month

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As I told you yesterday, this little guy has stolen our hearts (especially in the picture above which might be my all time favorite so far). He is more fun than I ever could have imagined. Every month, I do a mini photo shoot with him and this time Daddy was able to participate! For his four-month photo shoot, I wanted to capture his rolly-polly legs before that cute chub is gone and his playful personality that is beginning to develop. He talks to us all day long and somehow we communicate even though neither of us are speaking anything other than baby gibberish of oooohs, coos, and ahhhhs.

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Broderick, I hope you know just how loved you are because Mommy and Daddy just can’t get enough of you! I am fully aware that I have turned into “one of those Moms” that shares way to many pictures of her kids but I can’t help it. I prooooomise to post about something other than this little guy next time!!!!

 

Recipe | Almond Cookies

I have had this recipe in the back of my recipe book for well over two years and decided it was finally time to give it a try. With the holidays coming up, I am always in need of new cookie recipes. This one reminds me of my favorite almond cookies from my days working at the local coffee shop, Bella Bru, while in high school. These little cookies are filled with tons of almond flavor and are perfect to enjoy with your morning coffee or as an after dinner treat!

Italian Almond Cookie

Ingredients:
3 egg whites
1 (16-oz) package Bob’s Red Mill Finely Ground Almond Meal
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sliced almonds
Powered sugar

Directions:
1. Beat egg whites until foamy in a large bowl. Stir in almond meal, sugar, almond extract and salt; cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to chill.

2. Preheat oven to 300F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Press almonds with your fingers to break into smaller pieces. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch crescents and roll in almonds; place on baking sheets.

3. Bake for 20 minutes for softer or 30 minutes for firmer cookies. Dust with powdered sugar.


Sleepy & White

I have tried my very best to enjoy each moment with little B because I know these are moments we can never get back. This first six weeks have already flown by and I can’t believe he will be 2 months old in just a few weeks.

Since little B’s announcements went out, I thought it was time to share these pictures which I took when he was seven days old (belly button shot was 14 days :)).  I look at them and marvel at how little he was. This little guy loves to put his right hand next to his face which is funny because we have a sonogram picture of him doing this exact thing.


This is was my favorite picture from the session and melts my heart. This represents little B just how he is, no hats, no crowns, just his little face sleeping away with his hands.

We love you little guy!

A Sweet Baby Shower

With only a few more days to go until our little one arrives, I thought it was time to share pictures from my baby shower which was held a few weeks ago. I was honored with the pure joy of family and friends gathered to celebrate our little baby on the way. I am seriously the luckiest girl and have such great family and friends who traveled from Northern California just to attend and my sister who flew from Florida so that she wouldn’t miss the day – seriously blessed! All of the decorations in the world can’t compared to the love that filled the room as the shower wouldn’t be the same without these people there.

The invitations were one of the my favorite elements of the shower. I wanted them to be simple and classy with just a touch of baby. Because we are not finding out the gender of the baby, this made it difficult to incorporate gender neutral colors. While we could have gone with something more neutral such as green or yellow, I ultimately love pink and wanted to incorporate that color into the shower, so we settled on baby blue and blush pink.

As I mentioned before, my family is a 7 hour drive away but they were still just as invovled as if they lived right around the corner.  We made the invitations ourselves, while my Mom printed the envelopes and glued the envelope liners.  I love the classic look of envelope seals and thought this would be the perfect touch of baby. At our wedding 3 years ago, we created a candy buffet which I loved so much, so I wanted to create a station where guests could pick dessert items as they wished. For the baby blocks, my Mom and I found unpainted wooden ABC blocks at Hobby Lobby. I had Ryan scrape off one of the “C”‘s and glued a “Y” on instead. We used white hyngragea’s in decorated glass vases.

The wonderful ladies at Sweet & Saucy made the adorable carrot cake which I loved so much I didn’t want to cut into it.

Above the gift table, I displayed my weekly pictures which I have been taking since week 8. Because my family does not live close by and cannot see the baby’s progress I began taking these so they could see the growth throughout my pregnancy. I decided it might be a fun way for guests to also track the progress.

As I mentioned before, I love decorating with pink, so my Mom had to continuously remind me to use blue as well. She found these plates at Kirkland and because she is the best mom ever, she picked up 25 plates for us to use. I made salted carmel macrons for each guest to enjoy and placed them in the mini dessert cups.   

I am not a huge fan of traditional baby shower games, but the celebrity game never gets old. I took 15 celebrity baby bumps and using Photoshop put my head over their face. Guests had to guess who the celebrity bump was!


I loved the idea of a onesie decorating station which I had seen on many other blogs, but when it came down to it my Mom had a good point which was, “Shan, you are going to have so many cute baby clothes, I can’t really see you putting your kid in one of these homemade onesies.” Which, well, is true. She brainstormed different ideas and came up with a onesie cookie decorating station. “Perfect”, I said!

I made a double batch of sugar cookies using this recipe (which made about 40 onesie cookies total) the weekend before and froze them. I was nervous that they weren’t going to be fresh, as I had never froze the cookies before, but thankfully, I couldn’t even tell a difference and they tasted as if they were just baked. I made 6 different colors of royal icing which was more than enough and filled them in 12oz bottles.

Each guest decorated a sugar cookie which was placed on the voting paper for everyone to cast their vote for the favorite cookie.




My sister ended up with the winning cookie!!!!!!! Seriously, some of the cookies turned out awesome. Once the cookies were dried, we packaged them up for each guest to take home. 


I was so blessed to have so much love at the baby shower and to have so many family and friends in the same room all together to celebrate our little one with us.  So many people came together to help pull off such an amazing event. It seriously could not have been done without the help of everyone involved.

xoxo

Summer Lovin’

Dress: Only Hearts ; Hat: H&M

Dressing with a bump can be one of the most challenging fun parts of being pregnant. At 35 weeks, I have only bought 2 straight up “maternity” clothing items – these pants and these bands which are on loan from a friend. I have tried on many items, but I can’t bring myself to actually purchase ill-fitting pants and make-me-look-bigger-than-i-am tops at the maternity store (oh dear stores, you know who you are that sell such items).

Now, don’t get me wrong, the growing belly does require some new clothing, but I find buying a few sizes larger at H&M and Zara works wonders for shirts and sticking with my regular pants + a belly band will go a long way. And when you are in the mood for something a little more fun, this long dress will do the trick which is made even better with swiss-dot lace! (And, it’s on sale right now!)

xoxo

Baby Sunshine

I am not into posting weekly bump reports, but I have to say, I am too excited to keep these to myself.  After a long weekend of baby shower festivities, my Dad was still up for the task of taking some pictures to capture this beautiful time in our lives.  We headed down to the beach just as the fog was burning off leaving the sky filled with a mix of clouds and warm sunshine.

Only a few more weeks until we get to meet this little bundle! Thanks Dad for capturing these for us – we will treasure forever!

xoxo

Recipe | Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

So, I will admit that chocolate chip cookies aren’t really my thing which surprises even me because I love just about any sweet you put in front of me, except chocolate that is.  I am not sure if this is a blessing or a curse, but nonetheless, I am not a chocolate lover.  Unfortunately for my husband, this means I often forget about his favorite cookie, the old fashioned chocolate chip cookie (I tell ya, he is a basic guy that is easy to please in the kitchen!).

So when I read about these chocolate chip cookies on Cupcakes and Cashmere’s blog, I knew I had to try them at least for his sake right? While the 24-36 hour wait time may be a bit discouraging, if you are anything like me and must eat one right away, the batter makes plenty to pop a few in immediately and honestly, I didn’t really notice the carmely difference the original recipe talks about. Lastly, if you don’t have the bread flour, cake flour, or patience to wait 24 hours for the batter to rest you can always try these which we made during our trip to Bodega Bay which were almost equally as good – I made Ry decide which he liked better :) (Notes: For the Epicurious recipe, we did not melt the butter as stated in the recipe, only used 1 6oz bag of chocolate chips because they were $5 a bag at the general store, and cooked for 13 minutes at 375 degrees and they turned out excellent as well).

But, if you are up for the challenge of waiting, feel free to try these cookies and maybe you can have one happy husband like mine!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Published: July 9, 2008

Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling

Ingredients

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour

1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)
Sea salt.

Directions
1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.


Maxi Dress, my new bff?

Maxi dresses – oh how I love you! You are like one big blanket that wraps around and never has to be adjusted for bending or sitting. You give this party of two enough room to keep everyone involved happy. The best part, you don’t give me extra bulge in unwanted places like those evil, dare I say,”maternity” pants do. Any and all maxi dresses are welcome in this house (at least for the next 8 weeks).

xoxo

Beach Celebration

The weekend was spent celebrating another Bob’s championship – yes, these are a big deal around our house as there is nothing that Ry enjoys more. While the guys may get older and the trophies get larger, the players are still little boys at heart who get excited to sport their uniforms, put on their cleats, get dirty, and of course win the game!

The celebration pictures are not exactly my favorite blog material, as I prefer to feature images that do not remind me of college in Isla Vista, therefore, I will leave you with several beach pictures from the day.

Congrats Bob’s!

Sleepy Beach Town | Bodega Bay

Having never been to Bodega Bay, I was excited to see this coastal town. Just about a hour north of San Francisco lies a very sleepy community filled with farms, fishing, and not much else. While the weekend was booked with wedding activities, we did manage to fit in a walk to the ocean, which was made all the more pleasant by the beautiful weather and empty beach.

xoxo

Stripes + Popsicles

To wrap up what has become baby week, I present to you this adorable little guy. I normally don’t photograph toddlers but how could I say no to such a cute face! It is amazing that something as simple as melted sugar and food coloring can get a kid to do almost anything – including sitting still for 90 seconds.  Geesh, how simple life used to be!

May we enjoy all the little things in life this weekend, including warm weather, a friendly smile, or if you are so lucky, a yummy popsicle.

xoxo

Beckett | Newborn

We met in 7th grade. While we weren’t immediate friends because basic junior high coolness factors got in the way, we eventually had our moment to connect.  You see, she was the popular cheerleader who came to school dressed like Cher from Clueless, feather pens and all, and I was the weird, tall gymnast with too short of pants because they didn’t always used to make 32″ inseams let alone 36″ inseams. Somehow through our mutual love for cheerleading and my mad gymnastics skills, which got me on the Pop Warner team, we were given a chance to become friends.

We then spent the next 4 years of high school almost inseparable. She would be the one to pick me up for 5:30am cheer practice, host a party to celebrate the 90210 series finale, or work in cahoots with my parents to hold a surprise 16th birthday party.  She taught me how to write a proper love letter as well as the magic of hot rollers.

Now, over 10 years later, I still get to call her my best friend and see her in a new light…..as a mother. Seriously, even though this is #2, I am still shocked to write that! The girl that I brought home a little too late after a little too much fun is now a mother of two adorable boys, Riley & Beckett.

This picture is one of my all time favorites as it captures the sweetness and beauty of motherhood. I spent my birthday hanging out and taking these pictures of these two and I wouldn’t have it any other way.



Congratulations to your beautiful family Melissa and Dustin and may our kids learn the beauty of a best friend!

xoxo

Secret is Out

My wonderful husband took this picture of me almost 2 months ago when I was……..5 months pregnant! I know, I know, I waited a while to post anything about it, but I haven’t been posting about much lately anyways and all of my posts have been random bits from our life, so I guess in the random nature…the secret is finally out! Since then my belly has grown quite a bit because this baby is coming in just a couple more months.

The late April fog had rolled in and I decided we need to head down to the beach before dinner to use up the last of our film before heading off to France. I love to see how Ryan decides to capture things, even if I might boss him around a little to make sure he “gets” what I am going for! I tell him my thoughts, and show him where to stand, and which lens to use  (i know, annoying!), all of which he is half listening to so I freak that he doesn’t get it and wont get the picture I want. But when the film comes back, he never fails and his talent always surprises me and makes me excited that he shares the love for photography as much as I do! Thanks cutes for dealing with me and creating such pretty pictures!

Fuji Pro 400h; Nikon FM3a, 85mm f/1.4

xoxo

Paris on Film

Our stay in Paris was filled with bakeries, cappuccinos, strolling, and window shopping at all the finest stores. We spent each morning walking the streets looking for a place to enjoy a croissant before starting the day. Everything in France is created with thought, skill, and pride which makes the products, food, and architecture have that little extra something special that we are lacking here in America.

As you can see, there is no shortage of pastry selections at the bakery and the best (or worst) part is that everything is terrific just like you always hear so it makes deciding on a treat quite difficult for someone like me who loves treats and struggles making decisions. (Side note: We went to a gelato stand that had 99 flavors, so you can imagine my head exploding as it took me 7 minutes to pick a gelato flavor).

Cappuccinos are one of my Dad’s favorite morning drinks, so he was always up for a little coffee break. I love this hat and tweed coat and thought he fit the Parisian part quite well.

We have countless pictures as there is never a shortage of beautiful things to photograph. The colorful doors, old windows, aged shutters, and cute flower boxes line every street, but yet the view just never gets old.

xoxo

All photos taken with Fuji Pro 400h; Nikon FM3a; 50mm f/1.8 or 85mm f/1.4

Boscolo Hotel | Nice, France

I don’t think there has ever been a hotel with more perfect decor than that of the Boscolo Hotel in Nice, France. The all white concept is mixed so elegantly with modern and french provincial pieces giving it a perfectly glamorous look. I was dying over this bed and trying to figure out any way possible to get it back home with me. I contacted the hotel, which so kindly told me that the Cryus Company from Italy makes the bed.

Hurdle #1 – Can I find the headboard in the catalog? I immediately downloaded the catalog and started flipping through until I eventually saw it! Step 1 complete – the bed is still available for sale.

Hurdle #2 – Do they ship to the USA?  Yes – looks like they have a store in New York!

Hurdle #3 – Now how much does it cost?  A question I wondered throughout my trip because I was anxious to see if this bed could really be mine.  I contacted the Cryus Company shop in New York it turns out it costs roughly between…….  $9,000 – $11,000 depending on finish and fabric choice. Ahhhhh….talk about a dream crusher! While the bed is worth every penny, I am afraid this bed will have to wait to come home with me until after I invent my million dollar idea!

I have yet to find one that I love so much and has the elegance and charm of the Cryus Company bed, but looks like the search must continue.

Anyway,  onto the rest of the pictures!

This is the lobby of the hotel, which we didn’t get to spend nearly enough time in because we were out exploring the city of Nice. P.S. the Cyrus Company also makes these beautiful chairs which my sister and I did a little photo session in. More pictures on that to come!

Enjoying a special Mother’s Day honoring the heart of our family, my Mom, with a little bubbly, and fresh French treats. 

Our stay at the Boscolo was thoroughly enjoyed and we all look forward to coming back soon!

xoxo

Ladurée Macaron | At Last


If you are a loyal reader, you have read of my love of macarons and macaron recipe trials here, so you can bet I was over the moon when I found myself in Paris a few weeks ago and standing across the street from Ladurée…yes, just feet from the world-renowned Ladurée macaron. And let me just say, the chandeliers, pretty pastels, beautiful packaging, and mouth water treats were enough to call it a day and set up shop inside the store, but the actual treats were enough to make me dream of moving to France to work as a Ladurée baker!

As far as setting up shop inside the store, that is exactly what we did. No joke. We spent so long deciding which treats to buy and taking in all the decor that my Dad managed to find a cafe and grab a beer while us girls “ooooh’ed” and “ahhhh’ed” over the treats.  Every inch of the store was covered in design inspiration and no detail was left untouched. You know a shop is doing something right, when there is a security guard in a cookie store! Obviously, said security guard did not permit pictures, so I did my best to capture Ladurée at it’s best. I picked up a few more of these delicious treats at the Paris airport and brought them home, so Ryan could get a little taste of France and we froze the rest in hopes of savoring every last crumb in the weeks to come.

xoxo

Ka-Pow! Fireworks Time!

As mentioned here, we enjoyed the city fireworks show as Ryan and I have done since 2003. It is always a great way to celebrate the holiday season and a fun time to get together with friends. Ryan enjoys spending each year perfecting his fireworks shots and this year were some of his best! 

Here was the great finale which lit up the entire beach with the bright flashes.

While this shot is more reminiscent of Halloween than Christmas, I loved the bright moon sitting above this house and had to capture it on the walk home. Once again, another great show and another memory down in the books!

xoxo

Recipe | Garlic Chips

Whenever I go back home there are a few restaurants that I always try to make my way to and Pizzeria Classico is one of them as we go specifically for their delectable garlic chips. So you can imagine my excitement when my best friend pinned this recipe on her Pinterest because it might be the closest thing I can get to them in LA.

The result was finger lickin’ good and almost as good as the original!

My tips: add more cheese than you think, double the garlic, and roll the dough as thin as possible!

Enjoy!