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Activities for Kids, Food

Freshly picked blackberry muffins

Blackberry season is upon us here in Santa Cruz and we are loving it. There are literally vines galore in our little Rio Del Mar neighborhood. And I’m pretty much convinced that wild blackberries truly taste the best; they’re so flavorful and juicy. My mouth is watering just thinking about a freshly picked blackberry in my mouth. Lol! They also make for a fun activity for the kids; it’s just one more thing we love to do outside during this beautiful California summer.

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Food, reads

I’m reading “Savor” and it’s wonderful

IMG_5746Since our move, you could say I’ve been a little… overwhelmed.. with life. This city is 10x the pace of Santa Cruz and I know that times as many people. And with a new job, I’m having to put myself out there all over again to make new friends and connections. I’m also having to push myself professionally in ways I’ve never done before. It’s all good though, so I’m trying not to complain. I have a beautiful family and finally a fabulous day care. New restaurants to try, a good fitness routine .. all is OK. I’m just still having a hard time adjusting to life here again. I guess life just feels different and I’m still trying to figure out the “now” and what’s best for us. Trying to find a good balance of down time with Jace and everyone else. A friend of mine recently recommended a book of devotions, called Savor, by Shauna Neiquist — Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are. Since starting it a couple weeks ago, I must say, it’s completely changed how I look at things, reminding me to cherish the every day splendors and gifts God provides. And to never forget the power of prayer. This one devotion in particular, titled “This is it”, has particularly stuck with me. I of course can’t share it all, but here is one of the lines: “This pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of us will ever experience.”… Every devotion is the true-to-life, reality of God’s love and this life we are all living. It’s a reminder to focus on the present and savor every disaster, every triumph. It literally brings me to tears every night, and each devotion is only a couple paragraphs! I’m not a crier, but her words reach into my soul, into the whole purpose of living this mortal life. It’s wonderful. And what’s ALSO wonderful are the recipes! Mrs. Neiquist also has recipes sprinkled throughout the book — recipes you can enjoy around the table with your loved ones. I completely share in her love for food and dinner parties. (Shauna, can we be best friends, please?) So, this morning I got up early and made her Baked French Toast for my boys. I was going to start it last night to let the goodness soak into the cinnamon bread overnight but I passed out soon after Jace went to bed, haha. I had to cut the recipe in half, seeing that I wasn’t going to feast with a bigger breakfast party but it still came out just as good. The next time I make it I will probably use less cream cheese, but nonetheless, it was perfect. Not too sweet, not too plain. Just a traditional plate of french toast, with some creamy cream cheese. The syrup on top brings it to life, too. Soooo good!  Once I find some good peaches I want to make her grilled peach and caramel sundae! I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a little perspective on life. Beautiful scripture and life moments anyone can relate to. She is a eloquent, spiritual and honest writer. Once I get through this book I may get her other book, Cold Tangerines. Until next time, happy living friends!

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Food, Gilbert

Food Trucks Friday

IMG_5554The food truck frenzy here in the Phoenix area is pretty big. but just on Fridays I’ve found. I work downtown by the Biltmore and the food trucks come driving up, but only on Fridays. And downtown Gilbert is the same, but they take it to a whole new level. They go all out. I mean, look at their typical line up! We decided to get there early on Friday, knowing that waiting in long lines with a toddler wouldn’t be fun. After a good scan of the options, we both went for the Best Dressed Dog. Seriously amazing. We both ordered the BBQ dog = pulled pork with the magic Judd sauce and coleslaw.

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IMG_5561 IMG_5562 IMG_5563Dessert was at Udder Delights. I almost went for the Strawberry Moscato Smoothie, but decided on her root beer float. I can never resist a good root beer float. Little boy and Rob split a regular vanilla. Udder Delights was so great. They had hula hoops and little kids chairs set up with music. Such a fun colorful food truck! IMG_5564IMG_5566IMG_5569I’m pretty happy to live so close to food truck Fridays in downtown Gilbert. All this good food, so close to home!

Aptos, Food, Friends, Heather by Hand

A birthday bonfire

A dear friend of ours celebrated a birthday in July and we wanted to make it extra special. This gal means the world to us {in case you can’t already tell, she’s plastered all over my blog half the time}. I know she’s not going to like something sappy written about her, but she’s seriously a beautiful person. I don’t know what I’d do without her. Miss Heather wanted a low-key birthday so we did just that. We brought the party to the beach for a sunset bonfire with Smoked Chocolate S’mores, champagne . . & hot dogs, hahahaha. Jace didn’t want to miss his Auntie’s birthday so he came along for the party, too. I know this is a little back-dated, but Happy Birthday Heather. Hope you enjoyed!

{the lovebirds <3}
we love you so much heather w!
Food, Friends

Smoked chocolate chip s’more cookies

I’m so one of those girls who work out on the weekend so I can eat really bad on the weekend. And  the other weekend I had a friend to help me indulge! We decided on smoked chocolate chip s’more cookies. You are going to love this recipe. If you like smoked, chocolatey S’mores, this cookie is for you. And baking around my house now involves Jace. Pretty sure we took more pictures of him than we did of the actual steps of the recipe, ha. I just know he’s going to love food as much as me. What a sweetie.  I really couldn’t have asked for a better Saturday afternoon. Baking outside, with my bestie and son? And then I got to eat fresh out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies after? Amazing day in my books.



{Jace face hanging with the ladies}



{Best bib ever. Foxes on mint?! Love}





{Baking sure is tiring}





And just when you think you’re getting some great food shots, your 9-year lhasa apso decides to take a pee right in the camera’s view {lol}. Nice, Lucy.

Now, here’s the recipe!!

Smoked Chocolate Chip S’more Cookies

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 7-8 whole crackers)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of Hot Cakes’ smoked chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows 
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper {always a must in my book!}.
In a medium bowl, whisk the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking soda, and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and marshmallows.
Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets {I use a cookie dough scooper}, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake for 9-12 minutes (I did 1 tray at a time), then remove from the oven. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Eat right out of the oven for the best flavor, with milk of course.