Happy 12th birthday to my Buster!! Still a baby! #waitingforsophie #firstbaby

Happy 12th birthday to my Buster!! Still a baby! #waitingforsophie #firstbaby

(Source: tierdropp, via hawtvintage)

Beautiful Baby Girl Shower

This past weekend I went to my friend Kate’s baby shower at The St. Regis Hotel in Dana Point, CA. She’s having a girl so everything was pink and pretty! Her sister did such an amazing job hosting, and of course, The St. Regis doesn’t disappoint with its gorgeous views and food spread!

Check out all the loveliness here:

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Cute honey jars were on the table for all of us

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Another gorgeous diaper cake!

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And beautiful floral centerpieces! Stunning! Best of all, I won one of them because I won the ‘Celebrity Baby Name’ Game! I’m obviously up on my TMZ, Us Weekly, and People Magazine gossip because I was able to match the most celebrities with their babies’ name!

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The hors d’oeuvres were yummy and plenty, but the desserts were out of this world. Mini cheesecakes, hazelnut mousse, scones, chocolate ganache… delicious!

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Plus, Casey’s Cupcakes, which I’ve raved about before, were on hand, along with Eiffel Tower chocolate pops to match the Paris theme.

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It was such a beautiful shower and a perfect summer-like day with temps in the mid-80s! Congrats again, Kate!

Win a Bottle of Boiron Chestal Honey Cough Syrup

For most of the country, the winter this year was brutal. Sadly, more winter days mean more chances to catch the cold and flu season. And one of the most annoying symptoms of the season—the dreaded cough—causes more than 30 million doctor visits each year.

Unfortunately, I had to deal with an annoying cough this winter, after I don’t know how many years of not even getting sick at all. I blame it on being in the hospital for my baby’s birth in late December! Thankfully I was prepared with some Boiron Chestal Honey cough syrup. (Disclosure: I actually already had some Chestal in my medicine cabinet but Boiron USA gave me a bottle of Chestal for this product review.) 

I’ve been a real fan of Chestal for years because instead of working against the body as a suppressant, Chestal works naturally with the body to improve the productivity of all types of common coughs. The natural goodness of honey in Chestal coats and soothes the throat, while the blend of homeopathic medicines loosens chest congestion, thereby making coughs more productive for a speedier recovery. Best of all, the honey makes this cough syrup taste good.

Chestal is the perfect cough syrup for both day and night—calming those dry, fitful coughs at bedtime so they don’t prevent sleep, but without drowsy side effects for the day. There’s also a Children’s Chestal for your kids ages 2 & up.

Check out more information and testimonials from fellow consumers and health care professionals at www.Chestal.com.

Now here’s the best part: I’m giving away a bottle of Chestal (either Adult or Children’s version)! Please e-mail me or reply to this post with a reason why you want to try Chestal and I’ll randomly pick someone. The folks at Boiron USA will then mail you your full size bottle.

What do you have to lose? It’s definitely worth trying!

Good luck!

Non-Drowsy · Dye-Free · No Drug Interactions · Works Naturally with Your Body

Children's Chestal by Boiron: visit www.childrenschestal.com

My Beautiful Baby Boy Shower

This is so long overdue (especially since my baby is now practically 2 months old!), but I wanted to do a shout out to my dear friend Anne for throwing me a Pinterest pin-worthy baby shower. I’ve always told her she needs to be a professional party planner, and when you see these amazing party favors and decorations, I’m sure you’ll agree.

If you are looking to throw a jungle-themed party in the near future, hopefully these ideas will help stir up some creative juices!

Beautiful photos courtesy of Thao Vu Photography (www.thaovu.com).

First up, a candy bar for my guests! Thank you David Klein, inventor of the Jelly Belly jelly bean, for the jelly bean hook-up!

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Look at my diaper cake! On a side note, we’ve already gone through all those diapers!image

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Anne’s cousin Janet not only made the chocolate peanut butter truffles above, but also a cheese platter, and some serious professional-worthy cookies. They were gorgeous and delicious. I think she needs to start up a cookie business!image

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Candy bags all wrapped up and labeled with tags I printed using an Avery label template I downloaded

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Look at the decor! Jungle-themed lanterns and “It’a boy!” and leopard ribbons were all over!

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We had lots of shower activities and games! I got the alphabet book idea from my friend Crystal’s shower. It’s a creative and personal way for all your friends and family to write a message and get their artistic side on. I also loved my friends’ Annie and Allyn’s idea to do a scrapbook of messages. I received the sweetest messages!

Finally, it doesn’t hurt to have a picture-perfect setting and day!

Microsoft’s P.S. I Made a Difference Holiday Celebration

Leave it to the gang at Microsoft to throw a fun, DIY holiday party, featuring DIY maven Erica Domesek, founder of the innovative lifestyle brand, “P.S. I Made This…”.

Talk about DIY queen! Erica has appeared on The Today Show, Rachael Ray, The Martha Stewart Show, E! News, The Nate Berkus Show, Fox Business News, and as a judge on TLC’s Craft Wars. Her work has been featured in issues of Glamour, Lucky, InStyle, Teen Vogue, Self, Elle, Vogue, The Wall Street Journal and more. In 2013, she was named as a spokesperson for the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA).

Anyway, the event, held at the super sweet Microsoft Experience space in Venice, CA this past Tuesday December 3rd, only made me wish I was way more crafty.

The event not only showcased Erica’s amazing talent, but with all the cool Microsoft gadgets around, we guests were exposed to tons of DIY tips to create gifts and add a personal touch to Holiday décor and entertaining.

Check out the photos from the evening. It will truly inspire you! 

If you’re looking for further inspiration, visit MadePossible.by, a website dedicated to the little ways technology is making it possible to take on every day…everything from DIY, entertaining and family fun, to gift gifting and more.

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DIY Maven Erica Domesek, founder of the innovative lifestyle brand, “P.S. I Made This…” using a Microsoft Surface to make some cool stuff. She’s so crafty and chic! I LOVE her outfit! (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Microsoft)

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DJ and fun festivities at the Microsoft Experience space (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Microsoft)

imageLots of great DIY ideas using Microsoft products (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Microsoft)

imageGuests were given tools to be crafty! (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Microsoft)

imageHere’s my own crafty thing! I made a lit-up Christmas ornament and wrapped it up!

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Of course, some guests got really fancy, making ornaments and cookie cutters with Windows 8.1’s plug-and-play support for 3-D printers – it’s as easy and familiar as printing a Word doc to a paper printer! (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Microsoft)

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But really, this tops it all! Me with Erica and my own personal “PS I Made This…”!!! Haha!

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Candy Bar!

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Smores Bar!

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Hot Chocolate and Tea Bar!

imageCute DIY tea/coffee/hot chocolate stirrers

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#GivingTuesday Donation Station

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I ran into my friend at the event, the smart and talented Susan Yara, NewBeauty’s Editorial Video and Interactive Director! Here we are with Erica and Susan’s friend, too.

Perfect Apple Tart Recipe

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! The holiday season is now upon us! Undoubtedly, this is one of my favorite times of the year. I love seeing all the lights and beautiful decorations. Best of all, it’s so fun getting together with friends to celebrate. Bring on the cookie exchanges!

But first, here’s a wonderful and delicious apple tart I made for Thanksgiving this year. It was so fun baking with puff pastry! It’s flaky, light, and delicious, and not “too heavy.” I consider it a nutritious treat. I mean, it’s got apples!

 

Original recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart.

Enjoy! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17.3 ounce package), thawed
  • All-purpose flour, for surface
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
  • 1/2 cup fresh or good-quality applesauce
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into thin wedges
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sanding sugar, for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
  • Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS

STEP 1

Roll puff pastry into a 14-by-16-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Cut a 1-inch-wide strip from each side of dough. Brush edges with egg wash, and top with cut strips to form a crust. Prick middle of dough all over with a fork, and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

STEP 2

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread applesauce onto middle of dough using an offset spatula. Arrange apple wedges over applesauce in 3 tightly overlapping rows. Brush apples with melted butter. Brush crust with egg wash, and sprinkle entire surface with sanding sugar. (Unbaked tart can be frozen for up to 3 days.)

STEP 3

Bake until edges start to puff, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees, and bake, rotating halfway through, until pastry is dark golden brown and apples have caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes more. Transfer sheet to a wire rack, and let cool for 10 minutes.

STEP 4

Warm apricot preserves and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Brush apples with warm apricot preserves. Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired, and cut into squares using a pizza wheel or a knife. Serve warm with whipped cream if desired.

Babymoon to Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

Many of you already know this, but for those of you who don’t, we’re pregnant!

That being said, I wanted to let you guys know what a great time we had on our Babymoon to the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai, CA last month.

Thanks to the suggestion of my friend Crystal (who was also recently pregnant with me but gave birth to a cute baby boy earlier this month), Ry and I decided to go on a mini-vacation when I was about 29 weeks along.

It was the perfect respite as Ojai, CA is really a simple, quaint town that also boasts gorgeous and breathtaking views of the Topa Topa mountains and is nestled between acres of stunning citrus groves. It’s about 35 miles south of Santa Barbara and less than two hours from L.A. This small artsy community reminded Ry of Carmel. I agree, but Ojai is even that much more quaint and non-commercialized.

The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is a premier Southern California luxury resort that features an award winning on-site spa and golf course. I also was pleasantly surprised to see the beautiful magazine, 805 Living, in the room so I was able to read the amazing pieces written by my dear friend Mallory (who happens to be Senior Editor). Best of all, we could bring Buster along to our Babymoon, so he and I took full advantage of our morning walks to explore the impeccably-kept and serene grounds. We really enjoyed ourselves. It was so peaceful and quiet and the staff were so friendly and very down to earth.

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Here are just a few things we did while we were there:

Hiking

You can’t go to Ojai and not take advantage of one of the 24 hiking paths that crisscross the valley. The most popular (and supposedly most beautiful) hike is “The Last Chance Trail,” a 9-mile path paralleling Hwy 33. But, we opted for the simpler hike (hey, I’m preggers!), the Shelf Road Trail, which was pretty gorgeous, too, with its dramatic Ojai Valley views.

Food

There’s nothing quite like breakfast food, especially when you’re on vacation. We loved both of the two places where we ate: 1) Eggs ‘N Potatoes (1103 Maricopa Highway; (805) 646-5346), located in a strip mall with a Vons grocery store. The view isn’t the best but I loved my breakfast croissant served with bacon, scrambled eggs, tomato, avocado, and Swiss cheese. Plus, they gave us delicious free blueberry French crepes as an appetizer to whet our appetite.

2) We also enjoyed our meal at the low-key Ojai Café Emporium (108 S. Montgomery St.; (805) 646-2723) located in main town. The just-baked muffins and cinnamon-roll French toast looked delicious. I had the buttermilk pancakes and they were perfect.

3) Finally, we opted to treat ourselves one evening to some Spanish tapas at Azu (457 East Ojai Avenue; (805) 640-7987). The food was beyond delicious and the small plates were the perfect size for tasting a bunch of their different offerings including the Portuguese chicken soup and lamb kabobs.

It was really the perfect retreat. Here are just some of the pics I took.

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Buster loving his walk

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I even swam one afternoon!image

But alas, no golf!

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View from our Shelf Road Trail hike

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Zachary Prell Fall Winter 2013

As many of you know, I’ve known men’s designer Zachary Prell since college. He’s a dear friend of mine so I love it when his “Personal Appearance” and Trunk Show schedule takes him out West to the OC.

Just was the case yesterday when Zachary had a trunk show at Nordstrom’s at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. He and the Nordstrom Men’s Team created a fantastic event to showcase his new Fall Winter 2013 collection.

I arrived at the tail end just to have dinner with my friend, but not before I could see that the day was a success! I love it!

The Zachary Prell line is beautiful, so if you are a man with discerning taste (or a woman who wants her man to look good), you must check it out. Gorgeous men’s sport shirts, sweaters, jackets, and more. I wouldn’t expect less from my friend.

Here are some pics I happened to snap up of the Nordstrom floor.

As always, looking forward to Zachary’s next trip here! XO

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The Zachary Prell line front and center of the Nordstrom Men’s section

imageGorgeous sport shirts on a four-way stand

imageMannequins looking good outfitted in Zachary Prell apparel

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My dear friend, men’s designer Zachary Prell

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The Fashion Island Nordstrom Men’s team with Zachary Prell had a great Fall 13 trunk show (Photo courtesy of Zachary Prell instagram)

imageThe beautifully-shot Fall Winter 2013 Zachary Prell catalog

No Ugly Duckling turned 3 today!

No Ugly Duckling turned 3 today!

(Source: assets)