Friday Favorites vol 2

It’s been a busy week here in the Daniel house since the husband was away on a business trip to Colorado Springs. But I’m happy to report that he’s back home and this mama gets to enjoy time to herself again, haha. I learned a lot, especially about how crazy busy being a temporary single mom was and how hard that *ish is, but it forced me to be better with time management, setting new routines with Greyson (i.e. pulling him into the bath with me so we both get clean before bedtime), and being okay when things don’t always get done. Like dinner.

With that being said, it’s nice to have our family complete once more and I look forward to a weekend full of sunshine, family time, and perhaps a trip to the Santa Barbara Zoo!

Here are some of my favorite finds from the week!

One | Chalkboard Easter Eggs


Why have I never heard of this or thought of this before?! I love Whitney’s idea of using chalkboard eggs, which she found at Walmart, for her daughter so that she can enjoy playing with them all season long. Such a cute idea! One could even use chalkboard paint (now that they come in all sorts of fun colors) on those plastic Easter eggs and reuse them year after year! 😉

Two | Coconut Crusted Tofu with Sweet Chili Sauce


Whoa, is this vegan recipe delicious!

There are quite a few steps and I recommend battering and covering your tofu with the panko/shredded coconut mixture first, then frying them instead of doing the assembly line as you’re trying to cook. I made these this week and found myself trying to do them franticly in batches without burning the coconut (which burns fairly quickly, BTW). However, it was well worth it and makes for plenty of leftovers that you’ll want to eat the following day…or hours later, whichever 😉

I opted for roasted brussel sprouts and yellow squash as my veggies. The only other suggestion I have is skipping her steps to making the chili sauce only because I tried it and it didn’t taste very good. Perhaps I did something wrong, but instead I just simply mixed the Huy Fong chili sauce with a little bit of mayo (I know it defeats the purpose of being vegan, but you can always use vegan mayo).

Three | The Power of Meaning

I’ve been a member of Blogging for Books for the last couple of years. I love the concept of receiving free books for the exchange of an honest review. The selection is pretty limited, but every time I am discovering new authors and genres.

Lately I’ve been dealing with some pretty heavy emotions and in this season I’m definitely grateful for my faith which is pulling me through day-to-day. I mentioned this book, The Power of Meaning, in my April Currently post and I couldn’t rave about it enough. Just reading the introduction and first chapter has filled me with so much insight that I can’t wait to to finish reading.

Four | A Beach Family

I am always so impressed when I get our family photos back from our photographer, Toki. She was so wonderful to work with during our fall photo session and included Greyson’s one year photos complimentary. We decided to go with Philip’s vision, which was a beach themed shoot, this time around since I chose the woodland theme last time for our Christmas photos. I can’t wait to share more of our photos later on this week on the blog!

Five | A Happy Baby

Greyson is officially free of his bought of allergies and I am singing hallelujah! It was a bit scary as a new mom when you see your child’s eyes crusted shut and constantly gooping up with this yellowish discharge. Thankfully with a trip to the doctor and a recommendation for children’s Claritin and eye drops, he’s back to 100%. His smile is everything and I loved being able to take him outside and swim around in the food.

I hope you all had a beautiful week and enjoy your weekend!

Linking up with Erika, Amanda, Katie, and Amy.

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Friday Favorites vol 1

Friday Favorites | vol 1 | |

Happy Friday everyone! We all made it!

One thing we weren’t anticipating this week was Greyson’s bout of, what we thought was, pink eye. At the beginning of the week we awoke to his left eye crusted shut and my heart sank; as a teacher and seeing my fair share of bacterial pink eye I knew the crusties weren’t a good sign. Throughout the day his eye was a little inflamed and red, but no other signs. Hallelujah! Then the following night he began developing a yellowish discharge from his eye and it made me feel even worse – especially since we were looking forward to traveling to Colorado this week for my husband’s business trip. All night it seemed to be getting worse and his eyes more red by the hour. We used a little bit of saline eye wash to keep his eyes clean and made a doctor’s appointment for the next morning.

Thankfully the wash seems to be working really well and is keeping the discharge at bay. Having seen his doctor it turns out his pink eye isn’t contagious, but due to allergies. The one downside to living on the coast here are the Santa Anna winds that blow from the mountains down – so we get all the dust and dirt (mixed with the natural blooming and pollen). I am doing a happy dance that we don’t have to completely disinfect the house and his things, but more so just keep up with his eye drops and keep the house free of allergens.

Despite all that, and not being able to accompany the husband on his trip to Colorado, there were a few great things that happened this week. So here are a few of my favorite moments!

Spring has sprung in Ventura.



I am a lover of colder weather and some rain isn’t so bad – especially since I get to enjoy it from the comfort of home. However, there’s no other feeling than spring making it’s grand return with the sun shining, the crisp air, and just an overall sense of renewal. Since much of California has been hit with a drought for the last number of years, this year especially we were blessed with a lot of rain and thankfully, for the first time in forever, we’re officially partially out of the drought in many places. With that being said, what used to be dirt and dried up plants and rivers has done a 180 degree turn and even the mountains that are the backdrop to Ventura are nice and green!

A happy 29th birthday to me!

Turning 29 was kind of a big moment for me. I mean, I know next year will be a big moment too, but turning 29 makes you realize that you’re within your last year of your twenties! So, in celebration I created a few goals for the year and spent my evening celebrating with my husband and Greyson. I even put on fake eyelashes and did my makeup for the occasion (there’s seriously a special place in heaven for women who can apply fake lashes flawlessly – I’m a work in progress) which is a big deal for me. The husband got me a very cute bouquet of flowers, I fit into a pre-pregnancy dress I hadn’t been able to in months, and was treated to one of my favorite Italian restaurants. So, all-in-all I had a pretty great day!

Thank you to everyone on Facebook for the birthday love as well as friends and family who texted, called, or sent cards!

The Painted Cabernet

I have always heard of sip and paint nights where you can enjoy some wine as you are lead through how to recreate a piece of artwork and The Painted Cabernet is exactly that. A couple of girlfriends of mine treated me this past Sunday to a little girls day in celebration of my upcoming birthday and I had such a great time! I had always wanted to do something like this and I’m so glad we did!

Have you ever done something like this?

Hulu w/ no commercials + RHOP



Gizelle is kind of my favorite.

Andy Cohen is probably a genius simply because of The Real Housewives franchise and what he’s made of it since the days with the ladies from the O.C. The newest Housewives show are women who hail from Potomac, Maryland, which is just right outside of D.C. and where I grew up in Northern Virginia. Knowing the D.C. season of The Real Housewives didn’t garner and real kind of audience I was interested to see how Potomac would stack up. Thanks to Hulu I was able to catch up on the entire first season and I have to say that I’m diggin’ the new women. I thought their first season had plenty of drama, which one comes to expect from this franchise, and the dynamic of the ladies is interesting. Each Housewives city offers a different perspective on everyday life and I love it. I’m curious about what season two will bring and even heard that one cast member isn’t returning and a new one is being introduced. Hmmm….

What else do I love? Hulu with no commercials! Yes, it’s an additional $4.99 to upgrade, but considering how much I would pay in cable, it’s worth it’s weight. I’ve found that the hubs and I both enjoy watching our favorite shows without interruption. Yes, it’s bearable to sit through 3-4 of the same commercials during one episode (we’ve done that for years – I also remember back when Hulu only had one commercial!) but it’s not enjoyable. That extra $5 has made such a difference and I couldn’t recommend it more, especially if you’re a Hulu lover like me!

Loving my new Nest Cam for Greyson

Have you all heard of Nest Cam? I’ve known of their cameras and smart thermostats, but with the price tag of $200 I never really considered purchasing one. Plus, living in a one bedroom with Greyson’s crib right outside our door we never really needed a baby monitor. However, now that we are within just a month or so of moving into our new two-bedroom apartment I began my research into the best camera for Greyson’s new room. I knew I wanted it to be high quality video, stream onto my phone or other device, and be equipped with night vision. A lot of the leading baby monitors can do most of those things, but somehow I always came back to the Nest Cam.

We’ve had a few theft issues in our apartment complex recently (thankfully not our apartment) and home security and safety has been a top priority for me these days. I know my complex is secure, but I feel that one can never have too many home measures in place – especially during periods of travel or being a SAHM like me. In my quest for the perfect camera, the Nest Cam was rated amongst the top for security and was mentioned most often in the various articles and blog posts I read related to security measures for apartment dwellers.

Thankfully I won a giveaway on a blog for a $50 e-gift card to and perusing through their inventory I saw the Nest Cam again. was having a sale of free shipping over $35 orders as well as a new customer discount. Using both of those deals, and my $50 e-gift card, I paid a fraction of what it retails for! The best part is that it arrived the very next day!

Linking up with…Erika, Katieand Amy.

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Scenes From Our Weekend: A Luau First Birthday

A Luau First Birthday | |

Celebrating Greyson’s first birthday was an amazing experience even though the prep took all day and I was only slightly stressed at the last minute. However once I saw everyone arrive and enjoy themselves with food, drinks, and conversation I knew everything was going to work out perfectly. Since it’s Grey’s first birthday, and my first time organizing one, I wanted everything to be perfect and my luau theme to come together.

We picked a luau theme pretty early on in the planning process a few months ago. It’s a little homage to when we took our first wedding anniversary to Kauai (and where we believe he was conceived). It’s also a reflection of the beach life we live here in Ventura and since our apartment complex is like family, we wanted his birthday to be celebrated as a big gathering of friends. These people have been so supportive of us ever since we moved in, throughout my pregnancy, and especially during Greyson’s life. They’ve been witness to every stage and it’s truly special and meaningful that many of our fellow residents could make it to his party.

A Luau First Birthday | |

Our one family photo and there’s a sunspot right on my face! Nonetheless, it’s a good picture 😉

A Luau First Birthday | |

Greyson also sported Philip’s outfit from his first birthday in 1982! How adorable is that?!

It’s a LUAU!

A Luau First Birthday | |

No luau is complete until there’s a tiki bar! I made the sign using a banner from Target and a Sharpie. I also got the black tablecloths from Target and the skirts from Amazon. Because we were traveling to D.C. I ordered all of my Hawaiian decorations ahead of time that way all I had to do was set it up the day of the party. I did get last minute things the day before, but was really happy with how well everything seemed to come together!

Some might wonder why the tiki bar at a child’s first birthday party and I would answer, that no child birthday party should be without a little booze for the adults. The first birthday is moreso a party for the adults anyways considering Grey’s too young to even remember this party. So why not make it fun and enjoyable for everyone? I also got fun drink umbrellas and offered everyone lei’s as party favors (it’s in the details!).

A Luau First Birthday | |

Some of the last minute decorations I pulled together was this ‘Chasin’ Greyson’ poster. I wanted to display photos of Greyson from birth up until his first year and browsed Pinterest for ideas. I found this one then made it my own using the beach theme and my best attempts at drawing palm trees. Instead of using photos of his ‘firsts’ like in the pin, I opted for his monthly photos to show his growth since everyone who came to his party knew Philip and I while pregnant and had the opportunity to watch him grow up.

Also, I included a fun slideshow using the option in the Photos app on my iPad which pulls photos from any album and displays them in a slideshow with music. It was a fun little touch and took zero prep – just select the option at the top right of the screen and it plays all on its own.

I also asked our friends to sign his Oh, The Places You’ll Go book as a means of a guestbook. I’d love to have it out for every year up until he goes to school and collect as many messages from our family and friends as possible. Makes for a cute keepsake later on 😉

The Food

A Luau First Birthday | |

My mother-in-law has this amazing dip she makes every year for Christmas and when they told us they were flying out for this birthday and asked to contribute something I just had to have her make it! As expected, it was a huge hit and multiple people asked for her recipe. I simply shaped it in the form of a pineapple, arranged almonds for detail, and added the top of a fresh pineapple for a finishing touch. These chargers from Michael’s were on sale, too, so I decided to pick up a few to go along with the Hawaiian beach theme. I can’t take credit for the idea, so you can find the inspiration from Pinterest here.

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

We did a potluck style luau and our friends from our complex donated a lot of great side dishes. We catered the entrees from a local Polynesian restaurant in town and their short ribs were delicious. Originally we thought to grill, but at the last moment we decided to get food catered that way my husband and I could worry less about food and spend more time hanging out and keeping track of Greyson.

A Luau First Birthday | |

Hanging out with Grandma! Grandpa was there too but somehow he managed to escape the camera!

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

The Sandcastle Cake

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

When throwing a birthday party one of the biggest, and most important, decisions to make is all about the cake. I went back and forth in my head as to what I wanted to do: Should I get a custom cake? Should I make it myself? Should I buy a pre-made cake from the grocery store? Again, after some time looking through Pinterest for ideas I found a lot of inspiration for a sandcastle cake!

I bought deep cake pans from Michael’s and simply used boxed cake instead of making it myself (needed something simple to pull together). I also used vanilla icing and to make the sand I used a food processor to grind up graham crackers and toasted coconut. I was so surprised to see that it looked exactly like sand! To make the sand bucket indents on the top I cut large marshmallows in half, coated them with icing and dipped into the sand mixture. I did have leftover batter and made cupcakes with sand topping which we used for the traditional cake smashing and offered them to anyone who didn’t want an actual slice.

A Luau First Birthday | |

Greyson’s First Bite of Cake

Gift Time!

It was so sweet that our friends brought gifts for Greyson considering we put on our invitations that there were no need for gifts as their attendance to his party was gift enough. Greyson is so blessed with his grandparents in terms of toys, books, and practically everything in-between, so to see others brought him a little something was very touching.

A Luau First Birthday | |

He makes the cutest growling noise when he sees Cookie Monster!

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

The Little Red Car

One of the gifts from his grandparents and Philip was the classic Little Tikes coupe. My husband says he had always wanted one as a kid and never received one, so when it was time he wanted to make sure Greyson had one. It was precious seeing Greyson see the car and to know how much it meant to Philip.

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

How many of you had this car growing up? Did you pass down the tradition to your kids?

A Luau First Birthday | |

Greyson playing in his new car with his cousin who came down from L.A.!

A Luau First Birthday | |

I was so happy that my sister and her family could make it down from L.A. to spend the afternoon with us for his birthday. Greyson and his cousin Shiloh were born 9 days apart so it’s very special to have him here to celebrate with us! My sister is the only family that I have living out on the west coast in California and due to both of our busy lives it’s difficult to see each other often. So when we do I always take it in and enjoy the moments we have together. So happy to have gotten to see them!

This weekend, and party, was a whirlwind but we’re so thankful to everyone near and far who helped us ring in this monumental occasion!

What are the plans for your baby’s first birthday? Or how have you celebrated first birthdays in the past? What themes did you go with or did you do something super simple? I’d love to hear!

See how I threw a simple Luau First Birthday for my son! Simple ideas and prep to ensure the best party on a budget! | |

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Scenes From Our Weekend | vol 7

This weekend had me feeling a lot of things.

Friday was Inauguration Day and typically I don’t feel one way or the other considering all the pomp and dutiful formalities that fill the day. However, this year was different. I was actually sad to see the Obamas leave the White House for the last time and to see Trump sworn in and occupy the most important position in our country. If Michelle’s face and stoic demeanor could represent my emotions of the day I would say it was spot on.

It was overall just a sad day for me; to realize and come to terms that his man, and his chosen cabinet, is our new President. To continue to hold out hope that he will lead our country in a positive direction. Honestly I’m still skeptic, but remain hopeful nonetheless.

But my sadness and fear turned to action and demonstration on Saturday.

Saturday was a powerful day for me personally. To have my husband and son march not just with and for me, but to stand next to the thousands of people who gathered in Santa Barbara to make a stance for equality. It’s more than Trump, as I’ve written in my last post explaining #whyImarchIt’s about being a presence that cannot be ignored and that a large majority of the American people demand that his administration realize what’s at stake and how prepared we are to ensure that our voices be heard. That women’s rights are, in fact, human rights we demand representation in the law; not just for women but for everyone.

Here are a few scenes from Santa Barbara.

So, thank you to everyone who came out in peaceful protest on Saturday. Thank you to the many families who marched together in the face of discrimination and intolerance.

Keep in mind that we all have much work to do outside of our march on Saturday. Our voices continue need to be heard that comes down to our active participation in our local and national governments. The Women’s March organizers have continued to share resources and have launched their next campaign called 10 Actions for the first 100 Days, which is one action every 10 days.


Express to your ELECTED senators why you marched or discuss the issues that you feel they should be representing on Capitol Hill. I used the Ink Cards app (it’s free!) to design a special themed Women’s March card and wrote to my senators about what matters most for me and for our country to be as inclusive as possible. Simply fill in your message and include your recipients and they’ll print and send your cards for you. In total I only paid $3 with free shipping. Done. This website also has an easy tool for you to type in your zip code to locate your senator’s public address.

Towards the bottom of the page you’ll find a box to input your email to stay notified of the next 9 steps in taking action within the first 100 days of the Trump Administration.

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