Afternoon Snack

The weather has been very warm and we are staying cool indoors. I wanted to share this yummy snack I put together 🙂

Sabra hummus – any flavor you like but I used supremely spicy (my fav)

Half avocado

Snack factory pretzels – any flavor (I used everything flavor) just came across these flat pretzels. SO good!

Put together and enjoy 🙂

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Quick entertainment

Trying to sit in peace to eat breakfast does not happen very often (at least through the whole meal). Today I fed them and then got them situated so I could actually sit and eat too.

Here’s what I used: blanket, pipe cleaner & two strainers.

They are still sitting & using their creativity to make something. This was a Pinterest-inspired activity. Thank God!

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My best friend’s “Cute as a Button” themed Baby Shower

We’ve long awaited this pregnancy and it has finally arrived, by God’s grace.  My BFF and husband probably got really tired of people asking them when they planned on having kids since everyone around them was either pregnant or had kids (including myself).  God’s plan is perfect and they are now enjoying this very precious time.

Pregnancy Announcement

Pregnancy Announcement

I don’t think I can count with my hands how many times she has helped coordinate someone’s baby shower.  So now that she is expecting everyone returned the love and helped out in some shape or form with her “Cute as a Button” themed party.

It worked out really nice because everything was evenly distributed and went so smooth! Also, since we all helped plan each other’s showers we had a little experience in streamlining the process.  If you’re planning a shower I really recommend starting early and delegating tasks to friends & family as much as possible so that it is less stressful.

We invited about 120 guests and I am guessing that close to 80-90 people actually attended…and yes it was ALL women! We found that it was easier to host a “brunch” style shower and provided the guests with heavy appetizers, dessert, tea, juice & fruity water.  Both

Grandma-to-be’s helped in providing delicious Persian & brunch style food and the Auntie-to-be plus friends helped with decorations, invites etc.

I designed the invites and got them printed through VistaPrint and got a pretty good deal by using one of their perpetual coupons.  The mommy & baby advice cards turned out really cute because I found a bird cage from TJ Maxx where guests could fold and submit their completed cards through the bars.  I had a frame that we used for their pregnancy announcement photo which I re-purposed and inserted black matting for guests to sign and leave a message around her silhouette “baby bump” photo.

My other girl friend was responsible for the candy bar and she brought all the jars and filled them with bright pinks, soft pinks, yellows & orange colored candies.  I was so surprised after the shower to see most of the candy gone! Mostly because I wanted some lol.  We had a framed sign that said “Girls are Sweet, Please take a Treat!” and above the bar we had a sign that said “Sweet Baby.”

We had button flower vases sitting on each table with umbrellas hanging from the covered patio area.  She had a custom Cute as a Button cake & cupcakes along with an extra Nothing but Bundts two-tier “Cute as a Bundtin” cake.  We had some extra flower buttons so we designed the Bundt cake with it and it turned out really cute.

We ordered a “Cute as a Button” sign from Etsy and my friend made button streamers to hang from the doorways.  On another wall we had baby photos of the mommy & daddy-to-be.

Lastly, the games! We had three games the first one was hilarious…my girlfriend bought three baby bottles and filled it with water (about 1/3 full).  She chose three women to participate and they had to drink from the bottle as fast as they can to see who can finish the bottle the quickest.  The second game – the women had to balance a coin in between their legs and walk across the room.  The third game – was for the kids, but adults can play this too.  We had mini balloons blown up and they had to grab as many as they could and fit it under their dress/shirt.  The winners all received a prize.

We ended the day by opening gifts and overall everything went perfect! I have some pictures below of the event so you can get a better idea of the theme.  You’re more than welcome to pin my photos and share with your friends 🙂 visuals are always helpful when you are trying to plan a party!

Cute as a Button theme - gift table with advice cards, frame & bird cage.

Cute as a Button theme – gift table with advice cards, frame & bird cage.

www.lovedelara.com - henna on hands belly shot
http://www.lovedelara.com – henna on hands belly shot

 

with the mommy-to-be, Cute as a Button shower

with the mommy-to-be, Cute as a Button shower

 

belly pose

belly pose

 

Cute as a button - Candy bar with Sweet Baby signage

Cute as a button – Candy bar with Sweet Baby signage

 

Henna tattoo with baby's name on it

Henna tattoo with baby’s name on it

 

Cute as a Button theme - gift table with advice cards, frame & bird cage.

Cute as a Button theme – gift table with advice cards, frame & bird cage.

 

Baby Shower Candy Bar for girl

Baby Shower Candy Bar for girl

 

Two tier "Cute as a Bundtin" cake & custom cupcakes & button cake

Two tier “Cute as a Bundtin” cake & custom cupcakes & button cake

 

Button Streamers for Cute as a Button shower

Button Streamers for Cute as a Button shower

 

Hanging umbrellas outside above tables as well - multi color

Hanging umbrellas outside above tables as well – multi color

 

Frame with silhouette photo for guests to sign - Cute as a button theme

Frame with silhouette photo for guests to sign – Cute as a button theme

 

Auntie & niece shot - Cute as a Button theme

Auntie & niece shot – Cute as a Button theme

 

Bottle baby shower game - give the bottles to three participants and fill 1/3 with water.  Have them drink out of bottle to see who can drink the fastest.

Bottle baby shower game – give the bottles to three participants and fill 1/3 with water. Have them drink out of bottle to see who can drink the fastest.

 

Baby shower game - give each participant a coin and have them walk across the room, winner receives a prize.

Baby shower game – give each participant a coin and have them walk across the room, winner receives a prize.

 

Baby Shower game - kids can participate in this one.  Have mini balloons blown up and see who can grab the most to fit under dress or shirt.

Baby Shower game – kids can participate in this one. Have mini balloons blown up and see who can grab the most to fit under dress or shirt.

www.lovedelara.com - Cute as a Button themed shower

http://www.lovedelara.com – Cute as a Button themed shower

How effective is your skin care routine?

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with the sheer amount of beauty products out there…all claiming to make some sort of difference in your skin. Not too long ago I went to a skin care seminar sponsored & co-hosted by Plush Esthetics (www.PlushEsthetics.com) and learned quite a few things. I am always hesitant to attend these seminars because of the pressure to buy their products afterwards, however, this time it was not like that! They really focused on educating the small group on the importance of routine and explained the positive effects of proper skin care.  I walked away with a better understanding on what items I should have in my daily skin care regimen.  I’ll try to explain in my post some of my questions and the things I learned.

I always wondered…are all those steps to cleansing your skin really necessary?!

Well…you can maybe get away with not doing everything, but know that each step has its own role in slowing the process of aging. I learned that there really is no product out there that will completely eliminate your wrinkles (aside from photoshop, lol)…but rather slow down the aging process. This is the reason why we should have a good skin care routine/regimen. The earlier you start & the more consistent you are, the better the results.

Ok so you’re wondering…do you really go through the whole process every night?

The answer…As a mom of two little ones, NO, as much as i’d like to set time aside both in the AM & PM, I have to be honest and tell you that I get lazy and just rather sleep. It’s just like exercising…you need to maintain it regularly. And then….there is this thing called hormones…AHHH hormones. It’s like a little monster that lives inside and likes to pop its head out once a month and ravage your skin lol. Well, If you keep a regular routine you can definitely minimize the breakouts. Eating clean, staying hydrated & a proper skin regimen assist in regulating that little monster we call hormones.

The next issue is $$$…taking care of your skin isn’t cheap!  Although, it’s not cheap…know that you’re skin does not become younger as you get older so maybe you can justify splurging a little.  Below are the items that should be in your routine (ideally):

  • Cleanser
  • Toner
  • Exfoliator (once/week)
  • Eye Cream
  • Moisturizer
  • Serum of choice (depending on the area you want to focus on)
  • Sunblock

Alongside the cleanser I highly recommend purchasing a Clarisonic brush (really gets the skin clean and minimizes pores & wrinkles)

Two items that I have to have at all times are my cleanser & sunblock (even on my lazy days).  After attending the seminar I learned to accept that all the items listed above play a specific & defined role in the whole anti-aging process.  For example on my lazy nights…when I don’t use toner I now realize that it’s kinda like using the dishwasher on the “air dry” setting and getting water spots on the glass.  It has the same effect when you don’t use the toner…it helps get rid of any residual cleanser, dirt and/or makeup.

If you’re looking to try a new line…I highly recommend using Plush Esthetics (www.plushesthetics.com). I’ve used all the products from their line and absolutely love it! Mind you, my skin is very sensitive! My favorites from the line are the Defend sunblock and the Awaken cleanser.

PlushEsthetics.com - Defend Sunblockwww.PlushEsthetics.com - Awaken Cleanser

The Awaken cleanser smells amazing and is non-drying and soap-free. It does not contain any artificial dyes and foams up nicely.  If you’re skin is dry I would look into the Refresh cleanser (keep in mind that this one is milky and does not lather).

The sunblock is really the best I’ve ever tried for my face. It is broad spectrum and is not chemical-based. This sunblock has zinc oxide which acts as a shield from the sun and does not get absorbed in the skin. It is also the only sunblock that I’ve used that really moisturizes because it contains vitamin E & C. Lastly, it does not have the strong sunblock odor…it actually smells pleasant (which is a big plus!!). I like to use this product on my kids too!

If you decide to try their products, enjoy 10% off plus FREE shipping by entering the promo code: lovedelara at checkout 🙂

www.lovedelara.com - blog post on maintaining healthy skin & product recommendations

NOTE: I am not a skin care professional, if you have any specific skin condition consult with a doctor first. I am just sharing my personal experience with these products.

I must try this! {reblog}

God willing, I cannot wait to try this! Looks amazing, taking my coconut oil love to another level!

{love+cupcakes} Blog

DIY_shea_butter_body_butter_001

DIY_shea_butter_body_butter_009

Are you ready for softer skin? This body butter has you covered. All of you! I put it on from head to toe and it keeps my skin feeling soft and supple all day. And best of all, it’s not too greasy and doesn’t clog my pores. I like to add essential oils for fragrance, but this butter has a sweet nutty scent on its own. A little goes a long way, so this batch should last you several weeks. Enjoy!

p.s. Make it a gift! Put your body butter in a glass jar and add a cute tag to it. Voila!

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Happy First Birthday to our Giant Schnauzer Broderick!

We brought home Mr. Skansen‘s Broderick Von Mises (aka Brody) when he was only 4 months old! Brody is my first pet dog so it has been quite interesting to have such a large breed in the house.  At five months we started his training at Cali K9 (www.calik9.com) because I had no idea how to handle him.  I definitely recommend picking up some training classes if you’ve never had a dog before and/or have an out of control dog.  In our case, I wanted to make sure our dog was obedient and listened to us since we have small kids.

We ended up signing him up for one of the packages at CaliK9 (group & private lessons) and almost immediately I felt so much more comfortable handling him and realized that most of the “training” we did before going to CaliK9 was wrong.  We’ve been so blessed to have such a great dog that is SO good with both the kids and us.  The training was an added bonus and he still continues to go.  I am very happy we started him early and did not wait because now he listens to us on command.

Having Brody around is really like having another child in the house, but since he behaves so well (thank God) it makes his puppy phase go smoothly.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that he is only a puppy and to not expect so much from him lol (in terms of his training progress).  He’s a very fortunate dog who gets fed a combination of the best quality dog food & raw meat.  He loves to go to Carmel and let loose on the beach.  On rainy days, he likes to get his exercise by using his treadmill and loves it.  His Daddy likes to spoil him.

Today he turns 1! So let’s wish him a very Happy Birthday! The puppy phase is some what over and our 3rd child is growing up! Here is Brody at his one year mark – classy, sophisticated & ready to take on the world!

Happy Birthday Broderick!

Giant Schnauzer - Broderick Von Mises, 1st Birthday.  www.lovedelara.com

Giant Schnauzer – Broderick Von Mises, 1st Birthday. http://www.lovedelara.com

 

Giant Schnauzer - Broderick Von Mises, 1st Birthday.  www.lovedelara.com

Giant Schnauzer – Broderick Von Mises, 1st Birthday. http://www.lovedelara.com

Limiting technology & exposing our kids to focus/concentration activities

Society today is focused around technology and almost everything can be done via computers & smartphones. You can painlessly access almost anything with the touch of a button. With that in mind, it has become increasingly difficult to keep our little ones from watching TV, Netflix, playing games (for fun & educational purposes) on the iPAD, iPhone, iTouch, Android, Nook, Kindle, etc.

My 2 year old daughter can probably work an iPad better than some adults, lol. One morning I left her to sleep with daddy while I dropped big brother off and she crawled out of bed and just entertained herself with Netflix “just for kids” while daddy slept. I got home soon after and asked her what she was doing and she’s like “just watching my show on the iPad mommy” I thought it was so cute and smart how she managed to unlock the device & navigate through the icons. With all this available to them, it is so easy to over-stimulate their brains which over time can cause difficulty concentrating and/or focusing on completing a simple task.

I am not against exposing my kids to technology because I do believe they can learn from it, but as parents we should be aware of what they are doing & how much time is being spent on these devices. I am guilty too! My kids have watched more than one episode of Dora in a day, but sometimes it’s tough to get things done without giving them a TV break!!

If you do decide to put TV on for them, then I suggest communicating to them that they are to watch X amount of TV and give them a five to ten minute warning before you turn it off (to avoid any possible meltdown/tantrum).

So in lieu of TV time, I wanted to share with you an activity that can hone in on their concentration & focus. Both my 2yo & 4yo love to play…LEGOS! Although expensive, it is a great activity to get their little minds focused. My husband calls it “the non-ADD” activity because it requires their undivided attention and when you get to the more intricate sets it becomes even more challenging. If your child is young (1+) you can start with the big blocks and move your way up to the duplo sets…and then the sets with the teeny, tiny pieces.

My 4yo puts together the 6-12yo sets with very little guidance from daddy. We sit him down at the the dining table and he begins by grouping all the pieces together by color (which takes time) then he grabs the instruction manual and goes page by page piecing it together until he is done. Once he is done he is absolutely thrilled and so happy about his final product. It is a very rewarding project because from 100+ scattered pieces it turns into something totally functional!

My 2yo daughter loves to build towers and big brother helps her to make things she would not think of which also indirectly nurtures the sibling bond (double score!).

If Legos are not in your budget (because it can get costly), there are many focus & concentration games available that are free! I was researching online and came across this great article: http://www.empoweringparents.com/Five-Simple-Brain-Exercise-Activities-for-Your-ADHD-Child.php# (which is by the way a great website with helpful tips & tools for parents).

The article gives you ideas on activities you can do with your child to help increase their focus. I think my son would love to do the coin game! I am excited to try it with him, God willing. Regardless of whether your child has ADHD or not (since the article is talking about kids with ADHD), this article has some great activities any parent can use. The more we put our children in front of TV the higher the chance of them becoming easily distracted when trying to complete tasks (which may lead to behavior issues in school, ADD characteristics, etc.).  Ultimately, God is the best protector and I put my trust in him.  If we do things in moderation (as God says), then we should not have a problem.  Excess in anything becomes problematic, so try to keep your balance!

Note: this is not an expert opinion just my personal views & suggestions based on research and observations I’ve made over time. 

Building focus & concentration in children

Building focus & concentration in children

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