How to make box cake mix your own! Plus my recipe for the very best Peanut Butter Frosting!Read More
To be honest, Dan and I have never really celebrated Valentines Day. Mostly because it falls right between both of our birthdays. We tend to go out to dinner at least once every two-three weeks, most of the time Mila joins us. Though you know when couples say “Everyday is Valentines Day” I believe there to be some truth behind that. I’m the type that needs LOVE often and when the going gets a little hard I thrive off enjoying chocolate or ice cream (and wine) with my husband on the couch after a long day. We celebrate our relationship daily I think in our own little ways. So when February 14th rolls around we don’t feel the need or pressure to over do anything. Maybe because we are parents and are tired a lot of the time? Are we lazy? Haha!
One thing we have mastered is a date night at home. Dan and I started date nights at home back when we were in college together as a way to save money. I’d always make us dinner in my tiny apartment and Dan would always bring chocolate or a pack of Oreos. (The Oreos, his mom sent him from time to time and we’d always be so excited when she did! Thanks Kathleen) We’d somehow turn our ordinary surroundings into romantic ones and have ourselves a great night alone.
Now a days it looks quite similar! The only real changes are; Netflix, the baby monitor near by and couple extra dollars to splurge on a nicer wine. I think it is important to actually go out for date night, of course! But to be honest those are far and few between. What we can do is make a few nights a month extra special by having a ‘Date Night At Home’.
Here are some ways we create date night at home (+ a yummy marinade recipe you can use for dinners not just for date nights, but the whole family will love it!)
-We always plan a few days in advance. We set a date so we have something to look forward to. When it comes to that specific day, I get more excited than I normally would to finish up the day and be home with Dan.
-Mila goes to bed at 7:30pm every night. This is something that we have been working on since she was around 8 months. It is routine now and come 7:30pm we can all REST! For a date night at home we feed Mila dinner and hold out till after she goes to bed to enjoy our dinner, alone. If your little ones don’t go to bed till later and you don’t want to wait to eat try doing; a fun dessert, making a cocktail together or a mocktail, going through a travel book together or anything that is hands on. I think with a date night at home it is more exciting to be hands on with each other before you lounge around and chit chat etc.
-Earlier in the day I’ll prep dinner and be sure to make it a simple one where I can do most of it ahead of time. This way once our kid goes to bed, it takes 30 minutes or less to finish cooking. Whatever it is you are making, try to prep as much as possible before hand. So when it is time to ‘date night’ everything is ready to rock.
-Typically I make dinner while Dan plays with Mila. But on date nights at home Dan joins me in the kitchen. We drink a little wine and talk while putting together our dinner. It ends up being a nice switch and we can actually do all of it with out Mila wanting in on the action. This tip is just re-iterating the importance of doing something together like cooking, making a drink etc. Whatever it is, I think it is helpful to be hands on with something together. It increases conversation and I always learn something about my husband haha! Once we put together a puzzle and I realized then that we'd actually make a pretty good pair on The Amazing Race!
-Now, to make things more special I always light some candles. We also have a record player and while we cook we have it on low in the background. I try and wear something other than my normal yoga pants or sweats. And NO I am not talking about cooking in lingerie. I’d just try and wear a little something different. A cute PJ set, a silk night gown? Anything that would be out of the ordinary and that you feel comfortable in. Something to get you both excited ;)
-Once dinner is ready we enjoy it together. We tend to talk about anything and honestly we catch up on a lot with what is happening at work or with our family. I know many try and not talk work or kids during a date. But honestly that is so hard for us. We love what we do for a living and we love our family and extended family too much to make those off topic. I think if you don’t make rules on what you can talk about, things just flow naturally. I sometimes ask Dan questions like “Do you remember when we …” “Where do you want to travel to next?” or anything that comes to mind to help keep our conservation fun and insightful.
-Of course after dinner there is always some type of dessert. Dan loves homemade brownies with Butterfingers smashed in and I love any kind of ice cream. I always plan something different for dessert that we can enjoy. Try buying ice cream sandwiches or a small carton of fancy gelato!
-And since I keep it real, we typically watch a movie on Netflix or catch up on a reality show we love (like The Challenge or Amazing Race). I'll save you the intimate details ;) but being intimate in the bedroom is always a PLUS and much needed.
-The thing to keep in mind here is to plan ahead. Try to make things a little extra exciting with a fun dinner, drink, a little on the sexier side clothing, low music, candles. Don’t do anything that doesn’t seem natural, other wise you both will feel weird. Keep it light and try to remember why you fell in love. Also, I know a lot of couples love to be spontaneous ... which is great! But for Dan and I being spontaneous isn't something that comes natural on the regular. Don't feel bad for planning ahead to spend quality time with your partner! Life is nutty with work, children and other things. Planning for a date night at home and making it special in your own way is a life saver!
Happy Date Night At Home Friends! Let me know how it goes.
Photos by Lily Ro Photography
Well, as I sit here trying to think of words to re-cap last weekend my brain gets a bit lost. Last weekend, if you missed my posts on Instagram, I ran a 1/2 marathon and I lived to tell the tale! To be transparent I’ve been training for this beast for just a few short months and I never really felt nervous about the run until I hit mile 7. I was in good spirits and felt positive. Plus, I ran the Run Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon! It was my first trip to Walt Disney World! I was just beside myself the entire time, crying at every turn when I saw something new. I could feel my body tense up with excitement walking down the Magic Kingdoms Main Street and seeing the Animal Kingdoms Tree of Life. It all was so overwhelmingly awesome. I’d have to say the only thing that was awful was not having my children with me to experience it. However, we are already planning a trip back with Mila in tow. I can not wait!!
Running never used to be my thing, as much as I wanted it to be. I had always tried to get to that point of “needing” to go for a run. I thrive more so on group exercise classes like spin or dance and I love weight training with my husband (who is a personal trainer). I’ve run 5k’s before but never any more miles than that. Though when the option of running a 1/2 marathon presented itself I jumped at the chance, mostly to see if I could really do it. Turns out I can, not to entirely well, but I finished the race! Ever since arriving back home I’ve been hell bent on running another and decreasing my race time. So, the addiction has started so to speak and though I can’t wrap my head around it much … I guess you could say I am a runner. But if you told that to me just even 6 months ago I would have laughed and said “No Way!”
The truth is running is mostly mental, as in all in your head. Yes conditioning, endurance etc. all matter. But it really comes down to how strong you are in your head. Those positive thoughts really do work. It is hard for me to think of anything more inspiring than my own children when I run. I like to think of them right beside me, I imagine the wind blowing through Ryan’s red curls and Mila’s crinkle nose smile. I know it might sound weird, but that is what does it for me. I know people must think of the most random of things while running. My friend Jenna told me during the race when I was starting to fade, “Dedicate each mile to someone or something.” That was especially inspiring because then I started to run for things like my marriage, my own personal motherhood, my family as a whole, those thoughts kept me moving forward. Running for things that mean the world to me and drawing strength from them helped immensely. It also made me cry through out the race. Which, I think I might have been the only one bawling during the race? Who knows.
The one thing that was the most difficult was trying hard to think/push past the pain. Come mile 7 (mile 7 was hell) my knees started to ache and the pain only got worse as the race went on. I had to stop and walk a few times which embarrassed me at first, but I came to piece with it. I think at some point you really have to listen to your body, though running is mental there is pain that can’t be ignored. My knees were pretty much shot after the race. I had to ice for three days after race day and they still feel a bit sore. I learned about IT Bands and how running too many miles can cause them pain haha! My husband says I need to do more squats and other exercises to strengthen my knees. So, I’ll be working on that and training more efficiently moving forward. I also know so many of you mentioned to get fitted for running shoes, which I’m kicking myself for never doing. You live and you learn. Or you run 13.1 miles and learn.
I will say the best part of the whole trip was crossing that finish line and holy crap did I cry! I wasn’t even looking at Dan, I had my eyes fixed on the lady who was putting the medals onto people. I immediately had a flood of emotions and the second she put that medal around my neck I gave her a giant hug and cried on her shoulder. Then I found Dan and kept crying. People were asking me if I needed water, a banana, Dan was trying to take my photo. I was a hot mess, numb with excitement and pride.
To recap - The weekend at Walt Disney World was insanely awesome. The 1/2 marathon was incredibly hard, but also the most rewarding thing. I’ll definitely be doing it again and I’m excited to continue to train for a better race time. I couldn’t have gotten through it with out my children and husband. For they are ones who have built me into the person I am and give me the strength daily to achieve my goals. Thank you SO much for following along on Instagram and for all your well wishes before and after the race! You guys are the best and I look forward to sharing with you my next race!
"The beach house!" That's what Ryan used to call the beach. Dan's family owns a beach house in Laguna and we typically spend our lazy Summer days there. Ryan always heard us say "the beach house" and just associated all beach going as such. When he said he wanted to go to "the beach house" he meant the actual beach. Naturally, it's a fond memory, Ryan at the beach. Spending time there with out him just isn't the same. Though now as Mila is at the age to truly begin enjoying the beach, this past weekend was pure bliss. Her tiny sand footprints following the lead of her big brother. Of course Mila taking her own route from time to time, trailblazing her own beach style!
Last year she didn't care for the beach one bit. While she loved being in the pool and the warm beach water in Hawaii. Laguna proved to be too cold for her liking. She was so unsure about the crashing waves barreling toward her. She spent her time sitting in my lap or laying on a towel. Those days are clearly over now, which I'm happy about!
Last weekend we headed to the beach or the "the beach house" rather for our first official beach day of the Summer! Even though the weather was a bit cloudy, the days were perfection. In fact, it ended up being great days wherein the sun was hidden but the wind was warm. The water was indeed cold, yet Mila wasn’t phased. As most kids aren’t! I remember Ryan shivering while having the time of his life. Totally not noticing the chill, just focusing on the fun of things. Mila went head first into the sand and stood with zero fear by the ocean. It is funny how much can change in a year!
We figured out Mila has a serious knack for playing in the sand. We’ll definitely have to invest in some more sand toys this season! Her favorite was having me or Dan build a sand tower to have her knock down. We also dug up a giant hole she enjoyed playing in. Until she accidentally took a spill within the hole and got stuck. It was awful, but kinda hilarious.
Seeing Dan hold Mila’s hand down by the shoreline made my heart sing. Sometimes during those moments time seems to stand still. My heart throbs with gratitude and I am able to take a step back and just take a good hard look at my family. Does this happen to any of you? It happens at the most random times, but all of them seem to have this raw memorable quality. I never want to forget this day however, I’m certain our beach days this Summer will bleed together. I am positive though that watching my husband and daughter holding hands while dipping their feet within the water is a memory that will be imprinted within my memory.
This past weekend got all three of us excited for Summer and long beach days. Days where no matter how many showers you take, sand just seems to pop up in every nook and cranny. The scent of sunscreen lingers on our sun kissed skin. And let’s not forget the joys of having redheads … freckles are starting to pop up and I can’t help but kiss each and everyone. Mila has acquired a few, the one behind her right ear is my favorite.
Cheers to family beach days! Below are a few photos from our weekend …
There is something quite delicious about a weekend away with old friends. The stories and fun memories re-told are pure nostalgia. Plus, with the added bonus of our children toddling around things seemed to be a bit surreal. Like, wait. It feels like we just graduated college. We are still kids and now we have kids?! I'm such a fan of looking back at life. I tend to over think things of course. Though, going through my past gives me the emotional jollies. If I look deep enough, I can see God's plan hard at work. His directions and paths I set out on have taken me to where I am today. All the bad, tragic and downright greatness swirled together to make up my life thus far. I'm breathlessly grateful.
This past weekend we met up with college friends to
A. meet their new baby.
B. to traipse around our college campus.
We've actually been planning this trip for a few months now and though it seems we frequent Northern California often ... visiting where we went to college hasn't happened ever! This was our first time back since graduation! Our first time back since I snagged a kiss from Dan before snagging my diploma. I love that memory. While waiting to head out for the ceremony most of us were loud and obnoxious. Hanging with friends and cheering each other on. I found Dan and gave him a quick kiss before jumping in line with the other students graduating with my major.
We walked in and out of our old lecture halls. Jealously crept in when we walked into the new student union. So many memories flooded my brain, a few tears fell. I'd love to experience that time of my life again. Working at the Copy Corner, showing up late to class and concerned only about sorority happenings. It was a pretty stressful time with trying to graduate in four years, plus trying to figure out who you were and what you wanted to with your life. (Nothing followed the plan I made, except of course Dan ;) Though stressful, I only really remember the laughs and abundance of fun! Walking around the campus we kept saying things like "Remember when ..." or "This is where we ..." I think if Mila knew how to roll her eyes she would have.
The rest of the weekend was spent hiking up near the Golden Gate Bridge. Which is actually one of my favorite things to do. We also found this seriously yummy restaurant in Mill Valley called Playa. If you love tacos go there immediately. We lounged around in the sunshine and watched the Oscar mix up finale! Haha!
Below are a few photos from our remarkably lazy, yet heavily reminiscent weekend!
Every year we all fall victim to making a resolution list and most of us make promises of "This year I am really going to stick to it!" It really does feel refreshing to establish resolutions and if anything they get us excited about the impending year ahead. A lot can happen in a year, why not this or that? These past weeks have been an emotional whirlwind. I've been feeling things so fiercely with the holidays, missing my son, celebrating my daughters first holiday, her first birthday and now heading into our fourth year with out Ryan. All of it has taken a toll on me and my husband thinks I'm crazy. Though, he gets it most out of anyone. Together we weathered the past weeks and now we are feeling a bit anew. Ready to make resolutions and if anything have the most fun trying to achieve them. If your resolutions stress you out, then maybe this isn't the year it was meant to be. Or maybe it is and you need to jump on and tackle it! I hope your resolutions over all are goals that make you wise, more experienced. I hope they gather your loved ones. I hope they seal friendships and make new ones. Just know that from the beginning, you are enough. You are good all ready. Your resolutions should be helpful stepping stones in creating you into a stronger self, not a make or break situation that makes you feel guilty if not reached.
Try creating a fun list of small resolutions that can grow in the midst of 2017. Goals that can ebb and flow with the year ahead. Set yourself up for success and have fun no matter what. Try and see the good in everything. Make a conscious effort to be happy no matter the downpour you are faced with now or in the future. I am 100% saying all this as a reminder for myself. I need to repeat these things in my head to give me the gas to keep going. Hopefully these words resonate with another out there too.
Below are a few resolutions I have made for myself and my family.
Happy New Year Friends!
#1 Do New Things Locally.
Dan and I travel a lot and we do make adventure a top priority. Though lately we've done a lot of repeat things locally. We live in Los Angeles close to most everything and there is truly a lot to see and do that we haven't yet. So this year we have adopted the term 'Weekend Warriors' and will try and hit up a spot close to home we've yet to. Things that fall into that are restaurants, hikes, museums and any other random city activity we can find. Cheers to new things!
#2 Nail Down A Work Routine. #bemoreORGANIZED
Since Dan and I started to work from home/for ourselves we have been doing a ton of adjusting. It has been mostly scary plus extremely rewarding but 2016 was struggle city. The struggles came from not using a calendar, not communicating our work schedules with each other and just getting used to the fact that, wait, we are in charge here. I started Baby Boy Bakery Kids last year and Dan started Saldana Fitness which is his own personal training business. Together we are happier than ever, but let's be real this life is all new and we need to be more organized. So that my friends is one of our goals this year - to be more organized, create work hours for ourselves, communicate our schedules better and by god USE A DAMN CALENDAR.
#3 Be More Clean.
I never understood the reason my mother yelled at us every morning to make our beds before getting ready. Why?! I'm going to sleep in it again tonight. Or why clean up Mila's toys when she will tornado through them again come morning? The answer is simple. You'll feel better and actually be more productive. I've found that I perform better within a clean home. Having a clean home is actually pretty tough. Just having Mila around and I struggle. How do mamas of 3+ little ones keep it all together? Having a cleaning lady is obviously out of the picture and budget so it is up to me and whenever Dan gets a wild hair to vacuum. He really is cute when he tries. Am I the only mom who has to clean herself because "No, you are doing it wrong!!!" Anyways, I've started to use a cleaning schedule where I clean one thing each day (mop, dust, toilets etc) and do a load of laundry every other day. It actually is working out great just five days in. My mom also used to say "It takes 7 days to develop and nail down a routine" So I have two days left and I'm golden. ;) Realistically, I will try my best and not beat myself up if my house turns into a pig pen a for a few days. A messy house means it is being lived in right?!
#4 Take more adventures.
This one is simple and is our family goal each year. Take more adventures. Last year we went camping, took two weeks off from reality in Hawaii, Dan held his first bootcamp class and I designed new products! Adventures I think are anything that offer excitement with a light layer of fear. They push our boundaries and force us to grow. They can be fun, scary and even hard work. Though the outcome is always for the better. This year we have vowed to take more adventures including travel, work projects and being open to change. Viewing most everything as an adventure awaiting to be experienced.
This resolution was actually the first I wanted to tackle and nail down. I've never really used coupons and I'm an idiot for not. I began this week and just in one trip I saved $36.82! On things like toilet paper, toothpaste and Dan's shampoo. The money I could have saved last year kills me. But 2017 will be my year of grocery savings because why not!? Coupons are easy and stackable sometimes!! I know I am new to this. My mother in law is a coupon wizard and has taught me a few things. I'm asking for a coupon case for my birthday. I'm diving head first guys. Hopefully you don't stand behind me in line, I take forever now.
#6 I. Love. You.
The last half of 2016 went by like a blur. I felt like since coming back down to reality after our trip to Hawaii things never really settled down. Dan and I became so busy and most days we would high five each other in passing. We would take turns spending time with Mila while the other had things to do plus work. We forgot to emotionally support each other. Meaning we were supporting each other and our efforts to getting things done. Though we fell quite and rarely declared our love. I know that might sounds crazy, but I need that declaration otherwise I start to crumble and act crazy. I need to hear "I Love You. You are doing do good" from my husband. I need it for my heart. My husband needs it too, even though he wouldn't admit it. Relationships are hard. Marriage is hard and takes a lot of work. Dan and I and the life we have been through together thus far is hard! We struggle sometimes and a little I. Love. You. goes far. Together we are making a commitment to tell each other "I love you" more. To tell each other what we need and just love on each other more. To stop and really look at us and what we are doing. What we have done. It is pretty incredible and I am so proud of us.
Lately our life seems to be going by faster than usual. We all marvel at how fast time really goes, but honestly last week left me out of breath. I feel like I am doing things, and with each task done another one appears. Fast paced and busy is a good thing. I’d rather be busy than bored. Though, time is something we have little of that is for sure! One thing that proves difficult is finding family time during the week. Both Dan and I work for ourselves so we try and work at all hours of the day. When Mila is awake I am with her, and typically Dan is with clients during the day. Come dinner time all three of us are “hangry” and tired which is a pretty deadly combo. Anyways, the three of us enjoy weekend mornings and generally how lazy they can be. Typically on the weekends we are lazy in bed. I usually run to get bagels and coffee, unless we have somewhere to be the day is spent slummin' it. I decided to bring that into the week a bit and take my family on a breakfast park date right smack in the middle of the week. And also, there seems to be so many photos of Mila and I ... I had to capture this Daddy + Daughter Duo of mine. They melt my heart!
I packed bagels, cream cheese and baby food for Mila. I brought along a few toys and our calendar so Dan and I could catch up on each others schedules while Mila played/ate grass. We picked up iced coffees on our way to the park (I get a triple shot latte, Dan gets an iced mocha) and it ended up being the most beautiful morning.
Lucky for my husband, I decided to pamper him a bit because really he is my rock and I would truly be nothing with out him. Dan is honestly the hardest person to shop for. If it isn’t Go-Pro camera gadgets or running shoes he doesn’t care about much. He is a personal trainer so he lives in athletic wear, and it is really hard to get him out of sweat stained tank tops. Also, these tank tops aren’t even really tank tops. They are old t-shirts he has cut the sleeves off of, total gym rat style. When I recently saw the MSX by Michael Strahan line at JCPenney I jumped at the chance to buy one of everything for Dan! I got him a few tops that quick-dry and these tech-knit joggers. Honestly, anything would be a step up from his homemade tanks! But this MSX line hit the spot and was affordable enough for us to purchase a few pieces, not just one. This outfit is great because it transitions from our breakfast park date to work right after for him. Low maintenance I think is every mans dream. The MSX by Michael Strahan line features transitional pieces to take you from working out to having fun with family, which is kinda perfect for Dan. He can wear them everywhere. #MSXEverywhere! I bet he’ll even give up those tanks of his for these new shirts ;) I hope ...
While at the park we decided to toss Mila into a bucket swing for the first time and I cried! I cried because she laughed and squealed with delight the entire time and tears just welled up from happiness. I live for experiencing things with my children and seeing them do things for the first time is just priceless. Nothing is better! Now, I am trying to fit a quick park session into our daily routine just so Mila can get her swing fix. Park date anyone?!
After our breakfast at the park, Dan and I parted ways for the day. I felt so full and happy that day. I know having breakfast in the park every morning isn’t realistic, but I will definitely try to do something similar every so often. It helped break up the week and let us all come back to what really is important these days. Which is family time!
*This post was in collaboration with JCPenney