From Our Family to Yours

Merry Christmas!

To fully enjoy our time celebrating with family and friends we're taking a little blogging break.
See you next year!


Cranberry Bliss Bars

Yep. These are those delightful bars that stare you in the face while you're ordering your Grande Peppermint Mocha at Starbucks.

Make a batch of these copycats, keep them refrigerated until you want need your next cup of coffee, and then bask in the gloriousness of your coffee and Cranberry Bliss Bar.

And, these come just in time for all your holiday gatherings.

You. Are. Welcome.

Side note: Don't be intimidated by the number of ingredients and steps. These bars were actually quite easy to make. If you can measure, stir, and pour than these can be made. The most difficult part for me was drizzling the chocolate to make it look 'pretty.' And then waiting to devour them… That part is always the most difficult.

Cranberry Bliss Bars - A Starbucks Copycat
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped

8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 oz white baking chocolate, melted
1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

How they come together:
Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly spray 9x13 non-stick baking pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; stir to blend.
In a separate bowl, whisk sugars with butter, eggs whites, oil, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients in two additions until batter is very well blended. If batter looks 'crumbly' rather than smooth, add one drop of water at a time, until batter smooths out.
Fold in white chocolate chips and 1/3 cup cranberries.
Spread batter evenly onto the baking pan (baking tip: use the back, or underside, of a measuring cup to ensure batter is smoothly evened out).
Bake 15-25 minutes, or until edges are light brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Don't over-bake or bars will be dry.
Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Prep frosting; in a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until well blended.
Frost bars and sprinkle with remaining cranberries.
Drizzle with melted white chocolate (baking tip: melt chocolate by placing in microwave safe cup and heat for 15 seconds; stir. Add another 15 seconds; stir until chocolate is melted).
When chocolate sets, cut into triangles.
Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Linking up with Elizabeth and Courtney's Christmas Desserts and Tacky Sweaters party!
Sweet Turtle Soup
Recipe Inspiration :: Skinny Taste


Happy Marcus Monday!

2 years, 9 months. 
It's been quite the trip, little man. I can't wait to see where this ride continues to take us.
Happy Monday!


Hand Prints, Hand Holding, and Holiday Happenings

It's Friday and the Hallelujah Chorus is on repeat.

It was a difficult week but we had some pretty solid highlights.

1. A few weeks back Marcus and I spent an afternoon creating Christmas cards. I'm hoping all our recipients have received these by now.
 By some sweet miracle it wasn't too difficult of a task to get the Santa hand prints made.

2. Marcus has taken to his big boy bike.
He is such a little man.

3. I seriously can't get enough of the cuteness these two bring to the table.
Their innocence melts my heart.

4. Teu continues to have fun around our house.
Assisted by the fire truck to hang ornaments // Fort building // Marshmallow roasting 
Teu was found hanging out by our back door, and he had gotten into our holiday window decorations. Too bad he had a few things mixed up.
Teu asked Marcus to rearrange the holiday saying and fix up Santa's upside down issue. Marcus was more than happy to oblige.

5. Days 13-19 are in the books for the #2014christmasphoto challenge on Instagram.

13. Pajamas // 14. Celebrate // 15. Green
16. Cookie // 17. Tree // 18. Gifts
19. Inspiration

Have a fabulous weekend!


Meet Teu // Countdown to Christmas

This is the first Christmas we were lucky enough to have an elf visit us. Apparently Santa wanted to wait until he was sure Marcus had somewhat of an idea of what was going on with a strange little elf moving around our house.

We informed Marcus that he was in charge of naming the elf. After several minutes of the deer in the headlight stares (from Marcus), along with a few prompts for names (we threw out names like Mickey, Toodles, Donald, Goofy - see a theme?) we were greeted with silence. Finally, Marcus piped up, "Two!" I repeatedly asked if Marcus meant, "Toodles." Each time I was greeted with a resounding "NO! TWO!" So, our elf became Two. Except neither Scott nor I could quiet digest the name. We then did what any other parent would do. We made the name slightly our own. We kept the pronunciation of the name "two," but changed the spelling to "Teu."

And, that's how "Teu" came to be.

Since December 1 Teu has been so generous as to leave Marcus a new Christmas/winter themed book each morning. Thanks to Teu, Marcus and I have gotten into a routine of finding Teu, grabbing our new book, and snuggling up to read the book before moving along with our day. It's one of the best ways to start our day and I love it.
On Christmas Eve Teu will pack up all the seasonal books and take them back to the North Pole, until next year, of course.

Most nights Teu simply moves from one location to the next. However, there have been a few evenings where Teu has gotten creative…
One morning we woke to Teu's rendition of a snowman. I guess if you don't have real snow you get creative!
Teu thought it would be sweet if Marcus and Teu, and Twinkles, could all match.
Teu and Twinkle are big on sweets. They thought our candy cane decorations were a pretty sweet spot to hang out.
Teu couldn't help but hang out on the mistletoe.
Teu and Twinkle took a spin with Thomas.
Teu found it fun to add silliness to our family picture.
One morning Teu and Twinkle made their own donuts with Cheerios, frosting, and sprinkles (of course), and were so kind to leave Marcus his own donuts. 
Teu doesn't do too many mischievous things, as the point of his visit to our home is to encourage good behavior.

May it also be pointed out a second elf joined Teu not too long ago. Marcus won the little elf during our Santa Train experience. Elf number two was named Twinkle, and he and Teu became fast friends, and go everywhere together.

While Marcus doesn't totally get the gist of our elf/elves his excitement when finding Teu and Twinkle each morning makes my heart swell. Sharing the holiday joy with him is by definition, priceless.

What fun and mischief has your elf been up to this season?

 Linking up with Beth for her Christmas Countdown!
Our Pretty Little Girls


I Want to Talk About the Fun…

I almost don't want to hit the publish button on this, but I kind of have to. Maybe if I do it will take some of the… Tough… And wash it away. At least I can hope.

I want to talk about how much fun we've had on our last two bowling outings…
Bowling: possibly the best indoor/rainy day/too hot to play outside activity for toddlers, no joke. And, it's cheap!
Bowling really was so much fun.

But, I don't want to pretend that things haven't been difficult. Because, dammit, things have been downright hard.

I get it, toddlers have more mood swings than any woman during Shark Week. But, shoot. This last week has been one for the books.

With a few exceptions (see bowling photos above),  there have been several meltdowns (both on Marcus' and my part), tears from all parities involved, and more than one occasion where I threw in the white flag and simply gave in to a two-year olds demands, because I just.couldn't. keep.going. My calm voice of reasoning basically said, "See ya!" And then I handed over three dozen cookies to stop the madness. Because we all know copious amounts of sugar is a solid decision regarding toddlers.

And that was just Tuesday.

The rest of the past week has been much the same.

After a phone call with my mom explaining Marcus' behaviors she asked me, "So, tantrums?" Yes, tantrums. I'm not unfamiliar with occasional outburst and crazy toddler-ness, but this? Lately?
Ho. Ly. Chit.

Some one please pass me the biggest bottle of wine. Or a Lunesta so we can both just sleep through the rest of this phase.

Yesterday I thought we hit a turning point. My little monster slept till 7:30 (and then the angels burst into the Hallelujah Chorus). We had a merry little morning of baking and eating cookies for breakfast, and we had an afternoon play date to round things off.
Then it was like the good mood just decided to up and jump off a cliff. WHY?!

I keep reminding myself this too will pass. It has too. Seriously. IT HAS TO, or I will absolutely, without a doubt, lose my freaking mind. I do not want to head into next week, and all the gloriousness of Christmas, with a child who simply wants to cry, scream, and beat his fists on the couch because I handed over a half full sippy cup instead of a totally full sippy cup.

I'm praying that one of these mornings my sweet yet stubborn, loving little boy will wake up and hang out with me like we used to.

Now, about that wine…


The Failed Day Date

In the span of two days last week California received 10 trillion gallons of rain (give or take a few gallons). While LA didn't receive all of that, we did receive A LOT. There were two solid days of strictly indoor activities.

When I realized that park and the beach were totally not feasible I thought we'd try out something new.

I prepped Marcus for hours, telling him of a special surprise, a special date we were going on. Internally I was pumped, and terrified.

We were going to the movies. The only movie showing that I thought would be remotely appropriate for Marcus was Penguins of Madagascar.

Our date started strong.
After paying the very minimal matinee fee I loaded up on all the necessities: theatre popcorn and Watermelon Sour Patch Kids.
Marcus took to the popcorn and left me with the Sour Patch Kids, I wasn't complaining.

During the previews things were going well. My little man sat quietly and munched on his goodies like a champ.
So far, so good.

Then the movie began, and all seemed well in our world.
It didn't take long for me to realize the movie was a little over Marcus' head. The content was a few years older than what Marcus was ready to view.

Then we hit the scary part, and it was all down hill from there. Marcus' little bottom lip began to quiver, and he quietly began to chant, "I'm ready to go home." I quickly exited, made a beeline for the bathroom, and thought maybe by the time we returned to our seats the scariness would be over. I couldn't have been more wrong.

There were only a handful of other moms with kids in the theatre, but I didn't want to totally ruin their experience with Marcus' terrified wails.

Frantically I packed up our items and high tailed it out of there.

We made it 45 minutes (15 of which were previews)…

We will try again when Marcus is older. Like, 5 years old. Maybe 8. Probably 12.

Seriously though, can someone please tell me when is a good age to take kids to the theatre (2.5 years is obviously not the age)? And where are the movies that aren't going to scare my kid senseless?



My Kid on the Catwalk

While we are being washed away (pray California doesn't seriously fall into the ocean. There is so. Much. Rain) I figured we might as well highlight some of the good stuff from this week.

1. This guy is one cool dude. 
He refuses to wear his own sunglasses. But mine? All day every day. 

2. Surprise! Another picture of my dashing little man. 
This reindeer shirt is one of my favorite holiday threads for Marcus this year. 

3. Then there is this shirt - Mickey and friends. I can't even handle the cute. 
Let's also note that Marcus' wardrobe is clearly 100 times better than mine.  

4. We had another bowling date this week. The kid loves himself some bowling.
I really need to get a post done on our recent dates. But, all the things holiday first.

5. I'm having the best time participating in Stephanie's #2014christmasphoto challenge on InstaGram. Here's the fun we've had thus far. 
Left to right, top to bottom.
1. Self // 2. Red // 3. Texture // 4. Ornament
5. Tradition // 6. Sweets // 7. Lucky (I call it blessed) // 8. Favorite
9. Elf // 10. Greeting // 11. Stockings // 12. Dozen
Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!


Surviving the Holidays

The holidays are filled with so many things that sometimes all those things can be somewhat overwhelming. To make it through the season without totally losing it I've compiled a list of my 'must haves' to make sure I survive the holidays.
Let's start with the obvious:

1. The coveted red cup. Once the switch from Pumpkin Spice (which I adore) to Peppermint Mocha is made you can bet that I'll be singing fa-la-la-la-la until the New Year. There's nothing better than strolling the aisles of Target, or anywhere else for that matter, with a red cup in hand.

2. Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark. Don't mind me if I eat my weight in these delicious squares this holiday season. I seriously cannot think of a better way to celebrate the season than with these. They also make fabulous go-to gifts for, well, anyone.

Moving along to the not so obvious:

3. Younique 3D Fiber Lashes. You guys, I don't even know where to begin with this. Simply put, this mascara is amazing. To make any holiday outfit and makeup combo complete I add a layer or two of these 3D lashes, and BAM, the look is immediately stepped up. I'm obsessed with these. OBSESSED.

4. A good workout. There is no better way to wind down from all the hustle and bustle of the season with a serious sweat sesh. A good run, a solid workout, give me all the sweat.

And the holiday shopping:

5. Ebates. I can't shop in stores anymore. Just can't. I don't have the time or patience to deal with all the people, the lines, the crazy of it all. Online shopping for me. But, online shopping with Ebates. Not only am I notified of amazing daily deals (super sales and whatnot), but I'm also rewarded with cash back. No catches, no gimmicks, no anything. In a few weeks I should be getting a sweet fat check from Ebates thanks to all the online holiday shopping I've done. If you're not an Ebates user (why not?!!!), click HERE to start making money back on all your online purchases, too.

Speaking of shopping, have you finished your holiday shopping? If you haven't found the perfect gift for the guys in your life I highly recommend checking out Man Crates. They have the perfectly manly gifts for all the guys in your life. I snagged the Personalized Barware for Scott's birthday and the personalized glasses have become his go-to glasses when the tops are popped and the beers are poured.

Now tell me, what makes the cut for your holiday survival list?

{{This is not a sponsored post - I was contacted by Man Crates to share bit about them. I was not compensated for this post, all opinions on all products are my own.}}


The Santa Train // Countdown to Christmas

It's pretty apparent my little space over here is blowing up all the things Christmas. I figured why stop? In the words of Marcus, I'll just "Keep on truckin." (Seriously, where does he come up with this stuff?)

A few weeks ago Elizabeth cued me in on a train that would be fun to take kids to. There was Santa, in a park, with a train ride. Basically the three most favorite things in my child's life right now.

When we arrived at the park I knew immediately this was going to be an epic adventure for Marcus.
We'd been talking about the train and Santa the whole day, so once we saw the train it was game on. Our child was ready to ride the rails and tell Santa (yet again) what topped the Christmas list.
 The train ride took us through the park and we saw lights galore.
I couldn't get over how many light displays were out and how many trees were wrapped from trunk to top. It was amazing.

We were let off the train to one of the best Santa set-ups I've ever experienced. As we waited in line Marcus was bouncing up and down with excitement. He was ready to see Santa!
For the third time Marcus reminded Santa that Marcus was hoping for cars on Christmas morning.

After Santa we spotted a few photo ops, and couldn't resist a few pictures in those face cut out thingys.
I love how everyone is ear to ear cheesing.
After our stop with Santa we loaded back up and headed back to Santa's Village.
The train tunnel.
Inside the train tunnel. Marcus thought this was just the coolest.
Santa's Village had so much to offer, and of course an awesome display of lights everywhere we turned.

Here we measured our height.
I think Mason was telling Marcus how tall Marcus was.
We frosted cookies.
So. many. sprinkles. 
Marcus was very interested in Mason's cookie.
We did a little ice fishing.

And, the best activity of all?
The bounce house!

Marcus loved it all and had the best time. Seeing his joy and excitement reminded me once again just how magical this holiday season is.
We'll have to go back again next year!

 Linking up with Beth for her Christmas Countdown!
Our Pretty Little Girls