September 12, 2014

Random Friday Thoughts

by Shelly

Whew! So Ellie started school the second week of August and it’s been freaking, stinkin’, crazy ever since. This weekend…THANK GOD…we have not a thing going on. I see beach time in my future.

So today, I ran across an interesting article a friend posted on Facebook, titled “Why It Doesn’t Matter How You Feel About Your Friends” by . Highly recommend reading it.  I’ve struggled throughout my life with friendships for some reason.  I’m very outgoing most of the time, but once I’m home I tend to withdraw and become all introverted. Since I also work from home and spend a lot of time in front of a computer, this introverted-ness can become an issue maintaining friendships.  Recently I’ve started to recognize this issue within myself and am now looking to make some changes.

Last weekend, I walked 38.3 miles in the Avon Breast Cancer Walk in Santa Barbara. I was part of a team of eleven girls which mainly consisted of members of my workout group Happy Hour Fit Club and we raised close to $25,000 for the charity.  It was one of the coolest, most rewarding experiences I’ve ever been through. The thing about the walk is that if you’re pretty fit you can do it. The part that’s hard (at least it was for me) is the monotony of walking so far…for sooo long! However, with all the hours we spent walking, it gave everyone in our group plenty of time to talk and get to know one another better. Saturday evening after we walked 26.2 miles, we congregated in one of our hotel rooms for pizza, cocktails, and card games. It was during that evening that I realized how important friendships really are in my life, especially female ones.  My husband and I spend a lot of time together and we really are best friends. But this has been to the detriment of my friendships with other people.

So after reading the article today, I really have a change of heart going on. I need to reach out more. Have people over for dinner more often. Meet up with a friend for a walk or coffee. Granted it’s not easy scheduling things with kids activities, work, and whatnot. But there are many days where there are blank spots…time that I could be seeing a friend or chatting on the phone. It’s been one year since I started working out with HHFC  and I will say that I have been blessed to meet some incredible women who have now become friends. So cultivating these friendships have become a priority for me.

Go read the article and tell me what you think. Do you struggle with friendships too?

Sidenote…I don’t usually get very personal on the blog. But I guess I felt the need to share today. Ok and now for some fun pics of our Avon Walk weekend!

{our team! 6am the first day.}

{the trail of walkers coming up the hill}

{couldn’t beat the views along the way}

The second day we were scheduled to walk 13.1 miles. Poor Mindy (seen to the right in the pic) got the WORST blisters on Day 1 so she and another gal from our group sat out the second day. At mile 10 Sunday, Mindy and Corrie surprised our group! They showed up with a tray of champage, fresh fruit and snacks. Such awesome girls! That champagne tasted like pure heaven too. It was HOT!

{so sweet}

We were all SOOO excited to be crossing the finish line that last day. We were sore in weird places, some of us had feet full of blisters, and we were all getting scorched in the hot sun. Two of the girls were uber-excited to be finishing, so they crossed over the finish line doing a wheel barrow. Hilarious!

Wishing you all a great weekend and hey…reach out to a friend!  Have some people over for appetizers and drinks in the backyard. Go hang out at the beach with some other families and spend time together. Something.

Friends are after all, are a blessing.

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I am without a doubt a summer girl, but the humidity and heat in late August tends to make me long for cooler weather. Our mail has been jammed packed lately with fall magazines and catalogs and I am DYING to update my wardrobe with a few essentials. Here are the looks that I’ve been coveting lately…


Do you see a theme here? Preppy, tomboy, nerdy, classic. Yeah that’s going to be my look this fall/winter fo sho!  So here are some picks to get the look if you so desire.

Nars Lipstick-Shanghai Express




Lace Skirt

New Balance Sneakers

Shoemint Slipons

Quilted Vest


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It seems that Ellie is invited to a never-ending amount of birthday parties these days.  We typically only have her attend the parties of the friends she is closest with however. It just makes things easiest on us…. and keeps gift costs down!  This past year I’ve really tried to come up with some unique gifts for her to give her friends. I mean, I KNOW they all want the latest Barbie or newest Lego set.  But from what I’ve witnessed at birthday parties, there is no shortage of toys that a kid will get!  So recently when Ellie received an invitation to attend the birthday party of one of her BFFs, I came up with a fun semi-educational gift that will keep the girls active and practicing their spelling skills all through summer. We put together a fun pen pal kit!

Here’s what we put in the kit:

1. A nice wide lined pad of paper and white envelopes

Both girls are entering second grade, so spacing and letter sizing are still things they need to practice on.

2. Pack of colorful pens for writing and drawing

3. Washi tape

…for decorating the letters

4. Stickers

More decorating stuff!

5. Stamps

…of course

6. Lifesaver Gummies

A girl needs a yummy treat to snack on

7. Blank plastic box

To hold all her letter writing supplies or to hold her pen pal letters.

We also printed out a letter to send to her pal, explaining what the kit was for…

It was kind of fun putting it together and Ellie was so excited about having a pen pal for the summer.

Hope I gave you a fun idea to use the next time you have to get a gift for a child’s birthday!

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July 26, 2014

Easy Cake Topper DIY

by Shelly

We have never been real big on the “have a big birthday party every year” thing, for our kiddo.  Both my husband and I never had large shindigs for every birthday when we were growing up.  And we both feel it’s a bit excessive when it comes to our child as well. Instead, we like to do a larger party maybe every five years or so and then smaller things on the other years. Last year we did a small breakfast party with Ellie’s closest friends here at our home. It was super easy, Ellie had a great time and the whole thing was wrapped up by 11am.

The last few months Ellie has been none stop talking about surprise parties and how much she likes them.  Not that she’s EVER been to one or had one mind you!  I kept telling her that we weren’t having a large party for her this year, but that we’d do something special and that I had something planned.  Which was a total lie because in actuality we were dealing with my husbands’ car breaking down and finding a new car to buy. Total car drama!  So literally a week before her birthday I emailed a bunch of people and asked if they could join us at our fav Mexican restaurant for dinner and cake. Since Ellie’s birthday just happens to also be my birthday I tried to make it both kid and adult friendly.  And luckily most of my close friends have kiddos who also happen to be close friends with Ellie. Win win!

So I got the biggest ice cream cake I could buy, hit the dollar store for lots of balloons and got to the restaurant early, so that we call could surprise Ellie when she walked in with her dad. Ellie was totally surprised and it was a fun early dinner with all the people we love!

{the new SEVEN year old!}

{the birthday girls}

Now on to the easiest cake topper EVER!  I knew I wanted to get an ice cream cake for the party since we both LOVE ice cream and it just seemed appropriate for a week of 4th of July birthday party. But let’s face it, Baskin Robbins isn’t the best at the actual decorating of the cake. At. All. So I had them leave the cake pretty plain…just white frosting, blue detailing and some pastel confetti candy accent.  But then I made my own glitter cake topper and it turned out so cute!

Take wood baking or cake pop skewers 

 And some glitter chipboard letters

And hot glue letters to the tips of the skewers! You could write out any message you want.

Fast. Cute. Easy.

The sparkler candles that I bought for TWELVE FREAKING DOLLARS however…total dud! They last all of about 2 seconds and you can’t really light more than one at a time. Don’t bother if you ever see them and think HOW CUTE! Waste of money!


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July 25, 2014

Recap: Summer Begins

by Shelly

It has been a crazy few months to say the least!  I figured the best way to catch you all up on what’s been going on is to share my iPhone photos with you.  The beginning of June the hubby and I did our second triathlon together in Huntington Beach.  This one was a different challenge for me since the swim was in the ocean, the bike ride was on a PUBLIC path (very challenging!) and the run was on the sand.  I was NOT prepared for the ocean swim at all!  I had rented a tri wetsuit to wear and thought it would be no big deal since I surf and am very confident in the ocean. WHELP, the wetsuit made the swim so much harder for me and I had no idea that I would freak out putting my head in the ocean! I couldn’t do it! So I swam the whole way without really sticking my head in the water and consequently ended up pulling a neck muscle and was out of commission for about three weeks after that. Lesson learned. Train in the ocean stupid! But hey, I looked pretty strong right before the race huh?!

{fresh faced before the race}

Ellie finished first grade the end of June and we had a great last day with a big party on the beach with other families from her school. It’s been a tradition that a few families started a couple years ago, but this was our first year going. What a fun afternoon! We couldn’t stay for the bonfire and bbq however, because we were leaving bright and early the next day to go camping in Sequoia National Forest.

{ellie with her awesome teacher!}

{end of the year beach party. someone said the count was 70 kids!}

We decided to go back to Sequoia to camp like we did last June. This time we were able to secure a spot higher up the mountain. And our camping spot was AMAZING to say the least! We were right next to a small river/stream which was great to play in during the day to cool off and boy did it sounds nice at night. The other cool thing was the amount of wildlife we got to see. A young stag came right into our camp the first day!  And we got to spy on a momma bear with her two cubs playing by the water. It was such a cool experience for us city folk!

{part of the view from our campsite}

As soon as we got home from our camping trip, Ellie started a fun beach camp that is put on by her swim team.  She is such a little fish just like her mom and dad, so to say she had fun is an understatement. Her cuteness the first day of camp kills me. I know, I’m biased…but seriously..the hat is just adorable on her!

Well that gives you a little snippet of the first part of our summer. Come back tomorrow (YES on a Saturday!) and I’ll be sharing the most easy DIY cake topper ever! Happy Friday friends!

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May 30, 2014

Picnic at the Bowl

by Shelly

Sooo glad it’s Friday! But man, anyone else notice how fast the weeks fly by? I can’t believe how quickly this year has been going.

I’m looking forward to a mellow weekend. The only real thing we have planned is heading to the Bruno Mars/ Pharrell concert at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday. SO EXCITED! We always try to see a few shows during the summer at the Bowl. It’s just such a fun venue!

I’m a sucker for a good picnic, so below I’m giving you my must haves for a concert picnic at the Bowl. Yes, box wine. It won’t break or roll or any of that. Take it out of the box and just put the foil bladder into your cooler. * *A little tip** Place the foil bladder on the VERY bottom of your cooler and pack all the food and whatnot on top. If the Bowl is not a sponsored ”Bowl” event, technically you are not allowed to bring in alcohol. BUT this trick works EVERY time we go! 

Happy Weekend Friends!




chicken salad


kimono wrap

lip stain


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We tend to really switch our eating habits as soon as it starts to warm up.  I am a BIG fan of comfort food and/or anything I can possibly cook in my Le Creuset dutch oven!  But there really isn’t anything easier or yummier than grilled food in my opinion.  A friend recently asked what I like to cook once summer rolls around, so I thought I would share my top recipes with all of you too!


Our very favorite…  Barbecue Roasted Salmon is a go to anytime of year.  During the summer however, I like to soak some cedar planks in water while the fish marinates and then grill the salmon on the planks instead of turning on the hot oven. This is a total winner! No joke…better than a restaurant. Definitely one for when you have company over for dinner.

{via instagram}

Another easy and oh so good recipe, Grilled Apricots with Arugala, Burrata and Country Ham.  I wing it a little more by sometimes using peaches or nectarines instead (whatever looks best at the store) and then I usually just drizzle good olive oil and balsamic on top. Oh and prosciutto…I always use prosciutto. Yum!

I’m married to a central Cali boy, so to say he loves artichokes is sort of an understatement.  This Grilled Artichokes with Creamy Champagne Vinaigrette recipe totally beats out any other way of cooking ‘chokes. Delicious!



I love making this dish when I really don’t feel like cooking or we’ve been at the beach all day and I’m absolutely beat. Roasted Shrimp with Orzo  is full of flavor and great to make for a large group of people!

And this one I’ve featured on the blog before, but Grilled Steak Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette is  SUCH a winner I had to share it again. My hubby demolishes this when I serve it and my kid actually likes it too and she doesn’t really like red meat or tomato!


{via Pinterest}

Oh and just a little something I pinned recently that has quickly become a morning staple in our house, this yummy Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie . Such a great post workout drink!

So, I hope I’ve given you some yummy new ideas for summertime eating! I’m sure I’ll be sharing more fun warm weather recipes in the next few weeks. 

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May 27, 2014

Backyard Dreaming

by Shelly

The weather has been absolutely lovely here in So Cal. Warm, but not too warm during the day and a nice cool breeze come evening. But the lack of a real place to hang out outside has been bothering us all. And we really, REALLY miss having a pool.

The last two homes we owned both had pools. Our first place had a 1960s classic, kidney shape pool with nothing but concrete and small flowers beds. And our ugly pool equipment was smack dab in the middle of everything. We remodeled the entire backyard eventually and it was really what we loved about that home the most.  We still talk about how much we miss that backyard. Below is a little sneak peek of the changes we did to that yard. We didn’t use a landscape designer, my husband and I designed out the whole thing ourselves.


Our last place, had an amazing backyard, but to be honest…it wasn’t quite us. A bit too formal and the layout didn’t really work. The covered patio area was far enough from the main house that it was a pain to entertain. And the previous owners who had remodeled the backyard had put an outdoor fireplace in the WORST area! It was next to the outdoor kitchen, but there was no room to put chairs by  it because it would block the bbq area. Poor design!


Our current home was a DISASTER…which you may already know if you have been reading the blog for a while now. There was not one inch that was good. Not the interior of the home, not the exterior, not the front yard, and not the backyard. NOT. ONE. INCH.  We still would like to redo the entire exterior of our home and possibly add onto it a bit, but our first priority has been getting the backyard a bit more visually appealing. Seriously, it was a WRECK when we moved in.

What did I tell ya? Yuck.

Umm…the patio, I guess.

The side of the house looking into the backyard. Hey, at least there were nice fruit trees!

Little by little we have made some changes. We removed the ugly DIY awnings over the windows that the previous owners had made.  They blocked out a ton of natural sunlight into the bedrooms and made them dark and sad. So those termite infested things came off quickly! We also demolished the somewhat “paved” patio area with the metal pergola which was missing it’s cover and the chainlink dog run fence.

Last year after a bit of coaxing, the husband finally agreed to have our lawn resodded. And when I saw lawn, what I really mean is green weeds and crabgrass that from afar APPEAR to be a lawn. It was not grass really. So, we had our gardener put in sprinklers, flower beds, new sod and a row of privots to create a hedge wall for privacy. My inspirations are very East coast classic, Hamptons feeling.

With this home I want a formal meets cottage garden design.  Just enough boxwood for symmetry, but enough pea gravel, white roses, hydrangea, and jasmine to feel cottage.  Although we’ve put in sprinklers, sod and all that, we do plan on putting in a pool and hot tub sometime in the next year or so. We plan to keep the beds we’ve already created and just move the sod and sprinklers to the front of our home when the time comes. I’m crossing my fingers that this all happens by next summer. Eek!

For now the pups are enjoying the backyard the most, chasing squirrels and birds and rolling around in the grass. The humans enjoy it mostly for it’s slip and slide capabilities!

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When Ellie was just a bit over two years old, I decided (prematurely now that I look back) that she should have a big girl room. Stupid. Stupid. I moved the guest room full bed into her room, ran out to Pottery Barn Kids and decorated her room in like one weekend. It wasn’t great, but I was SO excited to have her out of the crib. She was after all a total chunky monkey and lifting her in and out of that crib was bruising my ribs. NOT KIDDING.  I hated the room about two months later. Why did I rush? It looked like a page out of the PB Kids catalog. Can you say cookie cutter?

So all this time I’ve wanted to redo her room, but the timing never felt right. I wanted her room to reflect her personality, her likes, her passions. And I really don’t think Ellie’s style and taste developed until about this year. While we were in Australia she and I both were enamored with the laid back, beachy, exotic style we saw everywhere. I’ve always been a total SUCKER for tassels, exotic and block prints, and bright colors and those elements were everywhere we looked Down Under!  Ellie started taking notice too and my design soul smiled everytime she and I would walk past a design store or a cute restaurant that was decorated nicely and she would comment or stop to take a look. We bonded on that trip in so many ways, but we really had fun noticing the design details all around us.

After we got back I decided  her cookie cutter bedding and the full mattress had to go! Her room isn’t very big and the bed just takes up way too much of the floor space. Ok, I’m going to stop yapping to just show you the room….

The pic above was taken a couple of months after we moved into the ugly duckling. This isn’t exactly how the room looks now…there are bamboo roman shades, white frames over her bed, the room is laid out totally different and a striped Dash and Albert rug is on the floor. But you get the general idea…cookie cutter bedding, tons of kid toys and crap everywhere and a dresser that looks messy and doesn’t hold enough clothes. Oh and pink. It was what she wanted when we moved her three years ago, but she loathes it now. Small doses are ok, but she’s all about the cool tones now. Like her momma!

So here is the new plan…

1. The bed will be replaced with an upholstered daybed with trundle (since sleepovers are inevitable at her age). This will free up floor space big time!

2. Her favorite color is now turquoise, or aqua, or any shade in between. So I’d like to find a vintage, over dyed rug in her fav color to anchor the room and give her something soft to play on.

3. Over her bed we are going to put this fantastic print I found at Ikea a few weeks ago! I was so excited because it was perfect for my little surfer girl and only $20 bucks. I couldn’t find the exact print, but the one on the storyboard is similar. On either side of the print we are going to put in some sconce lighting as well.

4. The bamboo shades may stay, but we are definitely adding these fun tassel draperies from Serena and Lily to add softness to the windows. The tassels remind us of all the clothing in Australia. They are everywhere. As they are quickly becoming a thing here too.

5. I’m not totally sold on this particular dresser, but she wants something reclaimed or washed/rustic looking. I like this one because it’s a bit fem. But we’ll see.

6. Another fab Serena and Lily find. This rattan mirror is just so beachy and boho. Ellie loves it too. So it’s a must.

7. Then there is the bedding. The plan right now is to keep the bedding for the most part white. Then we are going to add tons of pillows in her fav aqua tones. We both LOVE Rikshaw Designs, so of course a few pillows will be from there. And then I might have some custom pillows made out of vintage batik fabric I have lying around.

8. And the one thing she demanded on was a poof….gold poof to be exact. My little tomboy does have a girly side after all! So we’re going to add two possible for when friends come over.

9. Last but not least…actually it’s probably the first thing that will change…the walls. I’m probably going to paint them a warm, slightly sand colored white and the ceiling is going to go glossy aqua. We may do stripes. This remains to be seen.

So there it is. Ellie’s new Australian, surfer girl, glam, boho bedroom. I kind of want to sleep in here with her when it’s done. The bed comes in a few more weeks, so I will be a mad woman getting it all together in time for her birthday the beginning of July!

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Somewhere along the past few months I decided to become a triathlete.  I know, crazy right?!  After starting a new work out routine with the best group ever back in September, I decided to sign up for the Los Alamitos Race on the Base that took place this past February.  After I announced my decision to my husband, he surprised me completely when he said, “Hey, I’ll do it with you! Sign me up too.”. What the what!?  I was shocked.  My husband WAS once a triathlete back in high school and actually did an Ironman race.  But it had been 20+ years for him and he was most definitely out of shape.  I’m proud to say though, that he jumped into training with both feet and hasn’t looked back.  I would actually say he’s been more into the whole thing than me. He’s a stud!

Well, we both did the race back in February…and finished…actually finished! I don’t know why I’m sooo surprised. Well, I’m not surprised that he did well, but I am surprised that I did pretty well and actually went through with the whole thing!  I wasn’t exactly the athletic type in my younger years, but now just around the bend from being 40, I am in the best shape of my life!  It feels great!

{me at the ROTB Sprint Tri, Feb. 2014}

So of course I’ve gone and done what everyone does after they do one sprint tri….they sign up for three more! No?  They don’t do that? Well, I did and so did the hubs.  And I bought a road bike and gear…and well I guess I’m doin’ this shit! Yikes!  Can you say addicted?  But it’s nice to have a goal and to have something exciting to look forward to and train for. Needless to say it has totally consumed our lives. We sort of live and breath, running, cycling, swimming on a constant basis. That, combined with the normal daily schedule has made my life very full as of late.  I’ve actually backed off from work just a bit to focus more on our family and personal life and I feel blessed to be able to do that. But some new projects have dropped in my lap, so hopefully I will have some fun stuff to share with you all soon.

Ok, enough with the exercise crap. I’ve been very into some stuffs lately and here it all is for ya. A little this, a little that. But if you ignore most of this list, please DO NOT pass up watching Extra Virgin! Especially if you love cooking, or Italy, or Debi Mazar or pasta.

1. Extra Virgin had me hooked after just one show. I love the chemistry between Debi and her hottie, Italian hubby Gabriele Corcos. And the food…damn it…so good! I’ve already made a few dishes from the show and they are all delicious.

2.I’m not sure where my love of monograms comes from. I’m a Southern California beach girl through and through afterall, but somewhere along the line (I think it’s Martha’s fault) I developed a deep love for monograms on pretty much anything. My blogger friend Grace is the purveyor of all things monogram and I was beyond thrilled to see that she’s taken her hobby of monogramming and opened up a shop! Rest assured that I will be purchasing one or two…or three things for my own home.

3. While shopping for new lipgloss I happened upon this lovely fragrance by Bobbi Brown.  Beach is hands down what summer smells like to me.  The smell of the ocean, mixed with jasmine just does it for me.

4. A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to meet Sarah Richardson at the Laguna Design Center’s Spring Market.  She is quite a lovely person and her new fabric line for Kravet is just as lovely.  I am DYING to use a few of the fabrics in some upcoming design projects.  They are fresh and pretty…just perfect for spring!

5. Training and working out as hard as I have been the last few months has definitely come with some benefits! My legs are taking on quite a nice shape….which basically comes down to…they are SKINNY!!  This is a huge thing for me. I have never really had skinny legs, or muscle tone, or legs I even felt like showing off. But I do now! This romper by Yumi Kim would be great for summer date nights and for backyard cocktail parties if I dress it down.

6. I have a strong love for lime green. Our family room has some hints of it and I have been looking for a throw that brings more of that color into the room. This one fits the bill and has cute pom pom detailing, which I love!

7. We recently stopped by this burger joint on our way back from a trip to Legoland. The Riders Club Cafe rivals Umami Burger and in my honest opinion…wins all the way!  Great burgers and great beers. Definitely a go-to for your cheat day!

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