1 Year of Motherhood

Today is my precious baby’s 1st birthday. She was born at 7:47 on November 28th 2011. What a crazy fantastical experience it was and has been ever since. This year I’ve reflected a lot on my own mother and what an amazing person she is. My mom was there for Georgiana’s birth  which is fitting because she’s been there for every important (and unimportant) event of my life. And now she’s being there for the events of my daughters life including her entrance into the world. To have a good, strong and selfless mother is a gift that I think I can never fully realize. My mother has sacrificed for me on so many occasions that I’ve lost count. And now that I’m a mother I realize that not only am I lucky to have been raised by my mom but so is Georgiana. I’ve had a premium example of how to be a mom and she’ll benefit from what I was learning all those years and didn’t realize. In every action that my mom took to improve my life I’ve learned what it takes to raise a successful family by her example. I’m humbled by the very high bar that she has set but I’m excited about my journey as a mother because I have her to help me along the way.

This last year has been the best year of my life. To have Georgiana in the world is a way bigger gift than I could have ever comprehended. I really had no idea what a true pleasure it is to be a mom. Every morning when I go into get Georgiana from her crib its like christmas. She has the most infectious smile and laugh and to be with her is like life being complete. Michael and I are so totally in love we had no idea what to do with ourselves. Of course we’ve had our moments of hectic craziness but in reality its been WAY more precious moments than stressful ones. I’m just grateful for this beautiful life that I have with my handsome husband, precious baby and and amazing family. God is good!

Post Thanksgiving Rant & Recipe

After Thanksgiving there are all these leftovers but not necessarily enough for a full Thanksgiving do-over. I made a thanksgiving sandwich that was super yummy and didn’t take much of the  leftovers to put together. Here’s the recipe so that you can know what to do with those delicious bites:

1. Thanksgiving Sandwich.

Ingredients:

sourdough bread toasted

gravy

turkey

cranberry sauce

Directions:

Take your toasted sour dough bread and spread some gravy (slightly warmed so that its not totally fluid or congealed) on each slice. Layer one slice with turkey and top with cranberry sauce. Add the seconds slice of bread on top and cut in half. Voila!

In other news….I think I gained a pound back from all this holiday noshing. I count my calories every day and last week I ate about 2700 extra calories than I normally do. (For those of you who don’t know, I had a baby a year ago and am working on finishing off those last few pounds). I feel like because I’m out of town and trying to relax a bit that I’m slipping into a lazy  “I don’t care if I’m fat” mentality. I also think that when I’m home I start identifying myself as this massively obese person who has no hope of being as skinny as my slim women family members. Its almost as if my role in our family is as the fat one and even if I lose a ton of weight I’ll still feel that way. My sister is getting married and found a picture she wanted to use in a slideshow of growing up photos at her wedding. The main reason she wanted to use it was because it was a cute picture of her and my brother right before he left on a two year church mission.  I happened to be in the shot, caught off guard and smiling with a plate in my hand and mouth full of food. Bethany asked is I would be mad if she used the photos and I was like, ” Um, can you crop me out!?” My Mom starts laughing and makes a comment like, “Your brother is leaving for two years but that’s not stopping you from eating!” Nice, right? Well, I think I may be overly sensitive about comments like these. Probably if I didn’t make such a big deal about it in my head then if someone says something like this I wouldn’t pounce on it as being an insult. But anyway, since I’m home I’m feeling fat (like I usually do) and then there was an incident with Michael and I that I won’t go into but didn’t help. So now I’m feeling like whats the point of all this effort. Of course I’m not actually giving up on my health – I’m just feeling like a whiny defeatist right now. Also, we don’t have cable at our house so since I’ve been here I’ve been watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta which probably isn’t a good idea.

On a lighter note Michael and I have been having a great time on our little vacation. My parents only live an hour away from Santa Barbara so its been awesome to get away from work and just veg. We have built in babysitters here so its amazing to go to a movie or go to the luxurious chinese foot spa and relax. Speaking of the chinese foot spa…wow. One of the best massages I’ve had despite the fact it was only $25 for an hour. An incredible deal if you ask me. The chinese don’t mess around with their massages. They were finding muscles I didn’t even know existed. Also, I have a theory that since there are so many people in China, the chinese have different concept of “personal space.” They weren’t shy when massaging my back (including my butt) and pulling up my bra to get all the spots on my back. Normally I would be really weirded out by this but you can tell this is just their method. I once got a massage by this guy who flirted with me before and after the massage and I was uncomfortable the whole time.  I’ve since always requested a female masseuse for those sporadic occasions when I’ve sprung for a massage. Anyway, the Crystal Palace in Newbury Park I highly recommend. haha.

Finally, my baby Georgiana is going to be a year old in two days and I super sad. But I’m happy too because she’s just so darn cute and is doing all sorts of cool things. She’s got a tooth garden in full bloom and is walking all over the place. I’m not quite sure at what point she transitioned from a baby to this little pre-toddler but it happened fast. We love her and just can’t get enough. Hope y’all had a great holiday and remember to hug your loved ones a little tighter at this time of year! xoxo

Thanksgiving Table Top Ideas

The amazing Kelly Oshiro of sbchic.com styled this spectacular Thanksgiving table and I had the privilege of photographing it. All the rentals came from Town and Country here in Santa Barbara. I’m excited to use the persimmons from this shoot to make persimmons cookies… Hope you all have a fun and festive Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays!

Grocery Shopping

Lately I’ve been having strong feelings about grocery stores. I went grocery shopping last night at about 9 pm and was feeling much more relaxed than I do when shopping during the day. Its quieter and the baby’s asleep at home with Michael so I’m not trying to hurry or anything.  It gave me some time to reflect on the modern grocery store. When I shop at Ralph’s (a California supermarket) I spend most of my time on the far left of the store and then the far right. I don’t spend much time in the middle. Why? Because there are isles and isles of pre made stuff. There’s an entire isle of frozen dinners. An isle of JUST ice cream. An isle of processed juice and beverages like gatorade and vitamin water. An isle of cereal. An isle devoted to salad dressing various oils. I get why its like that. Companies that manufacture these products pay for isle space and therefore we have an overabundance of kinda weird foods. But that’s not what really bothers me. I guess what bothers me is if there was a slight higher degree of knowledge of cooking so many of these pre processed foods would be obsolete. I mean, its SO easy to make salad dressing and most of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry (or should be). Also, pasta sauce. Ridiculously easy. Maybe we aren’t going to spend hours making bread I grant you that, but rice? Why does rice-a-roni even exist? Its rice with a spice packet that you probably already have in your cupboard. I’m not against processed foods, I guess it just makes me sad that we obviously rely on them WAY more than we need to.

Trader Joe’s is a more enjoyable shopping experience for me but their meat department (and sometimes produce) is not always reliable. Whole Foods (aka “Whole Paycheck”) is way to expensive and also doesn’t have all the things that normal people need when going to the grocery store. Fresh n’ Easy is good but the experience is blah. Interestingly enough I like Trader Joe’s check out the best. It makes the most sense. There is no unloading of groceries onto a conveyor belt, they are scanned straight out of the basket by the checkout person. But if I go to Traders Joe’s I inevitably have to make a trip someplace like Ralphs to get things like  baking soda or normal sugar that Trader Joe’s doesn’t have. And if I want REALLY good meat I go to Whole Foods just for that one item. Or on the rare occasion I’ve gone all the way out to the harbor to the fish market to get fresh seafood. Ralph’s is the most expensive but the most convenient. The other day I decided I was going to only go to Ralphs and buy everything there instead of running all over town. My bill was $350….Yikes! And of course, the farmers market is the best place for seasonal produce but never has everything you need. I walk downtown on Saturday’s to hit the farmers market and its always amazing what I get. Last time I got some grapes that were so unbelievably fresh, crunchy and delicious I couldn’t believe I’ve been settling for grocery store grapes all these years.

So there you have it. The perfect shopping experience/store hasn’t been invented yet. Until it is I’ll continue traveling all over town trying to figure out to save money, be locally minded and not lose my mind.

Thai Peanut Pizza

I have made this recipe for years and I really love it for entertaining or just a simple dinner at home. It can be a great appetizer if cut into smaller portions as well. I always wrestle with rolling out the pizza dough perfectly. The good news is it doesn’t have to look perfect it just has to taste really good – which it does. Enjoy!

This is the dressing I use as the sauce. Its so delicious and you can find it at Trader Joes along with a great pre-made pizza dough. 😉

Ingredients:

1 package pizza dough or homemade pizza dough (I get mine at Trader Joe’s but I’ve made it from scratch before too)

1 jar spicy peanut dressing (I used Trader Joe’s Brand)

1 cup shredded mozzarella

¼ cup sliced green nions

¼ cup shredded carrots

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 ripe avocado diced

1 cooked chicken breast diced

Directions:

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees

Roll out pizza dough on a floured service. Place dough on a pizza stone that has been warming in the oven.  Bake pizza dough for 5 minutes and then remove from the oven. (This helps to crisp up the bottom of the dough). Top with peanut dressing, mozzarella, green onions, carrots, cilatro and chicken breast. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to brown on the edges. Take out of the oven and let cool. Add avocado on top. Crack some salt and pepper on top to taste. Enjoy!

Cielito Mexican Restaurant Santa Barbara (Review)

Michael and I have been wanting to try out Cielito since it opened and finally made our way over there.  This restaurant was previously an Acapulco which is a chain mexican restaurant in California. I have to say it was one of our FAVORITE places to go for lunch because the outside patio was so picturesque with a lovely fountain and turtles swimming around. When Acapulco closed we were very sad even though the food was fairly standard mexican. Every time we’d walk past the empty shell that used to be Acapulco it would remind us of joyous times gone by.  And then….Cielito opened and we were chomping at the bit try it out. The branding is great. They are marketing themselves as a more upscale mexican dining experience. Here’s what we had…

Outdoor Patio

Our favorite fountain with turtles basking in the sun. They didn’t put tables and chairs around the entire perimeter of the fountain as Acapulco had it. Still beautiful. 😉

Refreshing beverage.

Chips and guacamole. Good but nothing I haven’t had before. Salsa at Playa Azul and Rose Cafe are still my reigning favorites in town. Here they charge for chips and salsa which always irritates me to pay for at a mexican restaurant. Its like paying for a fortune cookie at a chinese restaurant….

Michael ordered the Tacos de Costilla which is braised short ribs, salsa, cojia cheese and cilantro. It was an “over promised under delivered” sort of moment. They tasted like shredded beef tacos. They were good but nothing we felt would entice us for a second trip. The rice and beans also seemed standard. Although, to be fair maybe there aren’t that many exotic ways to do rice and beans.

I got the Mexican Chopped Salad with Shrimp which had chickpeas, olives, avocado, corn and jicama. Again, it was okay. I didn’t really like the dressing that much and the combination of ingredients didn’t sing.

Overall, it was good not great. I’d go again for the atmosphere and to try something else since their menu does have a flare to it.  I really like how they have interesting offerings like pork belly quesadillas and mashed potato tacos. I would go again just to make sure we didn’t miss the stars of the show. Cielito is right next to the CaliBressan Chocolate store so we were able to  eat some out-of-this-world chocolate which quickly made us forget that our lunch didn’t quite deliver what we were hoping for.