Hubby’s Birthday

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J turned 28 yesterday and we had the most fun celebrating him this past weekend. So, let me take a minute to brag about my husband… pretty much every morning, for the past 10 weeks, J has gotten Sophie out of bed, allowing me to sleep in, he feeds her breakfast, gets her dressed, brushes her teeth, and then tucks her into bed with me [and some times my cell phone on “kids mode”] before he leaves for work. This allows me to sleep in even longer, as long as Sophie is content to be in bed with me. That is just ONE of many things he does to try and make my life easier.

Since we plan on moving in the near future, he’s only showed me more how great of a father he truly is. He works hard to provide for us [and clip coupons for us], making sure we have enough food for the week [thank you coupons], that I can have the heat on as long as I want during these frigid Ohio winters, enough clothes [thanks again to coupons], and finally a home. Becoming a home owner is a big deal, and as the sole provider of this family, I’d think the process would stress him out or be a burden on him, and all I’ve heard are remarks of anticipation from him, and how he can’t wait to build a home with me and our 2 baby girls.

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He is silly, makes me laugh, is kind and tender to this overly-emotional, some times seasonally depressed California girl. I feel so blessed to have him in my life, and I couldn’t have concocted a more perfect spouse for myself if I tried. Now, I’m not saying he’s perfect, that’s definitely not the case… but I see where his weaknesses collide with my strengths, and vice-versa. Furthermore, I see how our chemistry together will help us to raise beautiful, God-loving girls.

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So happy birthday to the best dada and hubs I know! You bring so much joy to my life!

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Comfort and Joy

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I’ve been lucky enough to have my brother here helping me nest for the past 2 weeks, but he leaves on Monday. Besides spending time with his [sassy] goddaughter, he’s been helping me clean, organize, and been cooking us meals from scratch. If you’ve followed my blog for more than a year, then you know winters are especially tough on this former Southern California girl, but having my brother here has really helped me from feeling overwhelmed and isolated.

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Another thing that has helped, is baking! [My blog is named after a cookie for goodness sake…] While I’ve been trying to take care of my [and baby’s] health, winter time always calls for comfort foods. See, my brother never left the golden state after he turned 18, like I did, instead he stayed there for college and wasn’t expecting the winter wonderland that appeared here over night when he planned this visit. He too, has been needing comfort food during his stay, and so after my kale smoothie in the morning, the day usually progresses with either some fresh baked cookies, or a pan of baked mac’n’cheese. I’m not going to go as far to say that is a “balanced” nutritional diet, but it’s all about survival here in the winter. J got me a fitbit for Christmas, and that in and of itself has helped me to be more aware of my habits and how to improve on being a little more active.

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Though I’ll be sad to see my brother go, as I’m sure Sophie will be sad to see her playmate disappear, I rest assured knowing my mom will be here in less than a month for the birth of this new baby! In the meantime, I have J’s birthday to look forward to, as much as some well-deserved alone time I’m planning for us.

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Despite having a pretty mild winter here overall, it is still hard for me to cope when the snow starts falling. How do you all survive the winter months?

New Year

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On December 31st I had a tough morning. I slept horribly, I was frustrated that our Christmas vacation had been ruined by a plague of sickness, and so I gave Sophie to my mom and told her I was going to the beach. As I watched the sunrise, I tried to sort through all my thoughts and emotions so I could return to my family a little more clear-headed, and able to celebrate our last night together before we headed back to Ohio.

Whenever one takes time to think on New Year’s Eve, its almost impossible not to have the word “resolution” pop into your head. When I made resolutions last year, I was surprisingly easy on myself. I didn’t set goals that were unmanageable, and many of the goals were based on virtue as opposed to physical attributes (i.e. “give more quality of time to people” versus “get to such-and-such weight”) I certainly failed in many aspects of my resolutions, like my commitment to “complain less” yeah…. safe to say I didn’t make much of an effort in that area… But, my resolutions are a bit different this year knowing that we are headed into 2016 expecting a baby.

Some thing I want to focus on this year, is soaking in those rare but sweet moments. I slept horrible last night, so when Sophie woke up, I had her come back to bed with me so I could continue to rest while she played with my phone. About 20 minutes in, she set the phone aside, lay down next to me, and began stroking my hair. Then, every 10 strokes or so, she would kiss the top of my shoulder. When she was bored with this, she sweetly said “oooooh-uvv-you” (which roughly translates to “I love you”) before rolling back over to play with the phone again. It was such a sweet moment that I intend to recall for the rest of the day. I mean, I like to recall all the naughty things she does throughout the day, why not try to recall the sweet things just as often? (if not MORE often)

What are your resolutions?

5 Things I Love About Winter

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Being a Southern California native, there wasn’t a lot for me to love about winter when I first moved to the Ohio Valley. I mean sure, witnessing your first snowfall is pretty magical, but after that — then what?

In fact, I remember an encounter with my roommate during my very first winter here. I was shivering as I came back from class, complaining about the cold when she said, “Well, of course you’re cold… Where’s your winter jacket?” I was so confused and responded in all seriousness, “This IS my winter jacket,” while pointing down at the hoodie I was wearing. Um hello, when it’s below 60 degrees, you throw on a hoodie, duh. While my hoodie was adequate for San Diego winters, I was totally clueless about how to handle a real winter.

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As of this year, I will have spent a total of 5 winters back east, so I wanted to share with you, some genuine reasons to love winter. These are the little things I have to hold on to when I haven’t seen the sun shine for a week straight.

  1. Citrus season! Blood oranges and clementines, I seriously binge on these fruits in the winter. Not only are they at peak deliciousness, but they are reminiscent of warmer days.
  2. Natural Beauty. Ok so Ohio is pretty ugly once all the colorful fall leaves have disappeared from the trees, but it is redeemed through the beauty of snow fall. My favorite thing about a big snowstorm is walking outside just after the climax, to hear nothing but the sound of fresh snow beneath my boots.
  3. Indulgence. Of course the holiday season is the classic time to indulge, but if you know me, then you know I go hard all the way until spring. Hot beverages and baked goods just should not be limited to the holiday season, people! Nothing motivates me to preheat the oven and sip on hot cocoa like 30 degrees.
  4. Being stranded. Ok so this one is slightly romanticized. Being stranded in your car on the highway during a snowstorm would be bad… Having a legitimate excuse to stay in and cuddle? Not bad. When I see the snow covered road, I start praying for cancellation of any plans. In SoCal we could say “yeah, I tried to come see you, but I saw the traffic was just too bad.” Our 2 lane highway never has any traffic to rival that of the 405, so snow is all I have to work with in the way of canceling plans.
  5. Holiday denial. For some reason, people in Ohio keep lights and decorations up for longer, and not just because they’re lazy… it’s intentional. While I don’t know the exact reason why, I’d guess it’s because they don’t know how to reconcile still having snow, with out the enhancement of twinkling lights and happy snowmen.┬áIt’s much easier for the brain to live in a happy place of “Christmas wasn’t that long ago… it’s still the most wonderful time of the year! Surely if this snow is still festive then so are my holiday lights!” At least, that’s my thinking. I typically keep our holiday decorations up until Valentines day, where I then reluctantly pull out some pink and red decor, before the real excitement comes in March and I actually get to bust out the SPRING decorations!

What’s your favorite thing about winter?

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Food of SoCal

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It’s no secret that I’m a foodie. The intention of this blog was to focus on the 2 things I love most, food and babies.

I lived in Southern California for 20 years before I moved permanently to Ohio to be with the love of my life, so I know the food scene pretty well. Our Mexican food is superior to any other state, that’s no secret, and I would love to debate anyone who says otherwise! [Not really] But there are a few other joints that might surprise you.

Any way, I wanted to do a round up of all my favorite places AND throw in a few extra foods that I think are ESSENTIAL for anyone to eat when they visit the golden state.

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First, what we ate on this trip: [don’t judge me, it’s a long list…]

IN N OUT – Burgers and fries done RIGHT.
Food Trucks – Ok, so in Huntington Beach, the food trucks all congregate in a parking lot once a week, and we got lucky enough to have come in on the day that this special foodie event happens. Justin got an amazing pork quesadilla, I had bacon wrapped dates and street tacos, my dad got tater tots smothered in cheese sauce and sloppy joe, then we all finished off with ice cream from Longboards.
Panera – This is a bigger chain that can be found all across the USA. Their salads are phenomenal, but if you’re up early [like, before 8 am] you can get a delicious breakfast souffle.
Mimi’s Cafe – J ordered some breakfast tacos that I seriously envied, but this little restaurant has a great specialty coffee drinks, desserts, and pastries. I had a breakfast sandwich, while my mom split her California omelette with Sophie. This is also a bigger chain though, I’ve never seen it outside of California.
Disneyland – Inside the park are some pretty classy restaurants! I usually just grab a hot dog or churro from a cart when I’m there, but since I was pregnant this time, and not running off to any rides, I asked if we could sit down to one of the park’s restaurants. I chose Cafe Orleans, mostly for their pumpkin beignets.
Mod Pizza – This just opened up across the street from my parents in Huntington Beach. It is basically the Chipotle of pizza. You choose your crust, toppings, cheese, etc. All the ingredients are high quality and the final product is delicious.
Old Town Mexican Cafe – This is exclusive to San Diego and it is[hands down] the best Mexican food. There are wonderful ladies making the tortillas from scratch at the front of the restaurant. We went during their Dia De Los Muertos celebration, which felt extra festive.
Whole Foods – Again, this is some thing that you can find in all 50 states [I think…] but we grabbed these little ham and swiss muffins from the bakery before going to the wedding and they were delicious!
Einstein Brothers – Another big chain, I know, but I live in a more rural part of Ohio so I still don’t get to eat this stuff that often. Aside from a New York deli, these are the best bagels! Plus their honey almond “shmere” is to die for.
Lazy Dog – This restaurant can be found in Huntington Beach or San Diego. They have the best sweet potato tots with jalepeno creama. I’ve gotten tacos from there, salads, and sandwiches… never had anything I didn’t love.
Roppongi – This is a little sushi place in La Jolla. Their sushi is pretty standard, but what blew me away were these short rib sliders they had! So delicious and unexpected from a place specializing in sushi!
Sprinkles – Yes, the first cupcake shop. I’m torn on whether or not I love them. I’ve had more consistency and better flavor from some smaller chains then from the original cupcake giant, but Sprinkles s’mores cupcake is definitely the best EVER.

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Rubio’s – Also a big chain, but I think it is pretty exclusive to the west coast. If you want good fish tacos but are on a low budget, Rubio’s is perfect! We used to get these fish tacos almost every Friday during Lent, when I lived at home. Rubio’s fish taco’s are what opened the gateway to me actually liking fish. If you are a sworn fish hater though, their street tacos are also surprisingly authentic!
Hash House A Go Go – A location in Vegas and in Hillcrest (Down town San Diego). The portion sizes are out of control, but they do fin twists on farm fresh food, My brother and I shared a platter of chicken and waffles, but their more savory scrambles are good too.

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California essential foods:

California Burrito – Roberto’s is a bigger chain that you can find throughout the bigger city of San Diego, but if you’re in East County, Estrada’s has the best California burritos!
Sweet potato fries – Most probably don’t think of sweet potato when they think of SoCal, but SHADES in Ocean Beach is the first restaurant I can recall to push the sweet potato fry craze. The Spot in La Jolla is another place that has fantastic fries (in fact, I’ve never had any better!)
any salad, anywhere – our seasonal produce is awesome. Order a salad at any restaurant and you can expect awesome produce that tastes in-season.
guacamole – I don’t have a location for this one either, but your trip tp California just isn’t complete unless you’ve had chips and guac from some where. Since avocados thrive in the SoCal sun, California guacamole isn’t really something you can “mess up,” it’s good anywhere
frozen yogurt – Yogurtland is a classic that can be found anywhere in CA, but if you’re in San Diego, the yogurt mill is an iconic place to get frozen yogurt. The portions are extremely generous though, so you may want to share!
fish – again, I don’t have a specific place to go, but if you don’t have a large budget, the Rubio’s baja grill I mentioned above has great fish tacos. If you have a more refined palate (and budget) definitely look into some of the nicer, sea-side restaurants up and down the coast. You won’t taste fish as fresh, anywhere else!
IN N OUT – I love this joint so much, it just has to be on both lists. This chain is a California landmark and is almost exclusively a CA chain [there is a location in Texas now, and one in Vegas]. The fries are the freshest potatoes you’ll ever have and the burgers are plain DELICIOUS. I always get mine with grilled onions, but if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can get your burger OR fries “animal style” which includes the grilled onions, secret sauce, and cheese.
Extraordinary Desserts – This is a small chain in San Diego with only a few locations. Whenever my family had a big party though, we’d get a fruit tart from here are they are divine! I’ve also made trips down there with friends for late night dessert runs. Their Bailey’s ice cream is also a fantastic treat. It’s on my list of must-go places for SOCal, mostly because its nostalgic for me.

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I know many other SoCal native who have completely different tastes than I do, so feel free to ad your CA-must-haves in the comments! Those are definitely my top picks though.

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A Love Affair

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So, if you’re facebook friends with me, then you probably got bombarded with my California pictures already, but for those poor unfortunate souls who only follow my blog, I wanted to share them with you too!

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Being an overweight, 5 month pregnant woman isn’t easy. Being an overweight, 5 month pregnant woman who needs some thing nice to wear for a wedding was just down right depressing. WAS… was depressing. You see, I found this beautiful Jessica Simpson maternity dress that I thought I looked great in! It was modest without being frumpy, and although it was black polyester, it kept me surprisingly cool at the 80 degree beach wedding I attended [I mean, I still had hot flashes, but the sweating was at a minimum, and that’s saying a lot.]

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So no, Jessica Simpson is not paying me to write a product-placement post, I just wanted to share with you that I actually felt beautiful for once during this pregnancy. Maybe I was high on feel-good hormones from both baby and getting to be reunited with my whole family, I don’t know, but my cousin’s wedding was just a genuinely good evening.

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For being a Halloween wedding, they really didn’t do over-kill on the Halloween details. The colors were a chic black, white, and gold, with gold pumpkin place cards, dia de los muertos cake topper, and candied apple buffet. While Dana and Lindsay have a beautiful love story of their own, any wedding I attend always makes J and I reminiscent of our own engagement and wedding. Every wedding we attend is secretly a celebration of our own marriage. Every time we dance or make eye contact at a reception, I feel like a bride again and he a groom.

Weekly Reflection

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The past week flew by, but over the weekend I had some time to chill out and pack for our upcoming trip to California. Like every week, last week had its shares of “ups” and “downs.” I’m glad I get to start out this one packing for a trip to see my family and celebrate a highly anticipated wedding! The actual celebration takes place on October 31st, so we won’t be doing any traditional trick-or-treating, however, that hasn’t stopped me from putting up a few festive fall decoration around the house that are currently in tandem with many pink decorations from our gender reveal party.

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While a trip to California is a BIG thing to look forward to, I’ve also been trying to find joy in the little things as well. One of those things being baked goods, [I mean, just look at how festive that frankenstein green pistachio muffin is!] but also just spending some quality time alone with Sugar Plum. I know our days of “mommy and me” time are winding down as we approach my due date.

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And even though we won’t be trick-or-treating, that didn’t stop us from buying bella a little costume to dress up in. Not to mention it will be the perfect outfit to wear to Disneyland this week.

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Have a safe Halloween, everyone! I’ll be taking a little break from blogging while I spend time with family, but you can keep up with me on Instagram: @lilmissmotto