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Along Abbey Road | A Lifestyle And Family Blog : December 2013


Old Point Loma Lighthouse

Outfit details || Hat: Anthropologie. Sweater: LOFT. Pants: LOFT (similar). Watch: UO.

As I sit here typing and looking through these photos, the beauty of San Diego leaves me feeling breathless. Yet, somehow, I am suffering major heart pangs of nostalgia for my home back in the Pacific Northwest. The pounding of rain against the roof, watching the raindrops trickle down the windows, leaving streaked paths resembling a thousand tears. I know that sight all too well from years of pressing my forehead against the cold window panes, shaping fog marks from the warmth of my breath and body. 

Then there is that smell. Oh, the smell of Washington rain. I believe the technical term in petrichor, and if you are a native PNW dweller, you know the meaning of that word as well as I do. There is something so melancholy, yet alive about that drizzly, gray weather. It's not often I miss it, but when I do those feelings hit hard. Smack dab, front and center in the middle of my heart, causing it to ache for the memories and familiarity of a place that was once home to so many facets of my life. 

It's kind of funny, because as we walked around this old lighthouse at the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma, it had that same sad beauty that makes me so fond of my old home in Washington. There was something lonely about those stacks of white bricks and white stone that piled up to create a simple, yet imposing structure. I pondered about all of the silent and foggy days the keeper of the lighthouse lived, and I felt a certain closeness to it, as I've spent nearly my entire life living on the Pacific Ocean and countless hours staring out into that curious and expansive blue sea.

Even though I am now in Southern California, the West Coast has been my life's companion as long as I can remember, and I hope to never part.

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Christmas Morning

Now that Christmas is over, Luke consistently asks to read all of his books about Santa before he goes down for the night. I think it's safe to say he likes the guy. I mean, look at all those goods he scored! 

We loved watching him open all of his gifts, which clearly consisted of cars, trucks, more cars and trucks, and a couple of dinosaurs thrown in the mix. And let's not forget his band set! I've always had this pipe dream of starting a band in my garage and am hoping to instill the love of music in Luke and Wes. We even attempted our own version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" -- Luke was on the tambourine and tone block, Matt clanged the cymbals, and I mixed it up with vocals, the triangle and the maracas. Nothing short of greatness, I tell you. Wish you could've been there.

Baby Wes just did his 2 month old (can't believe he is already that old!) doe-eyed act and happily sat in our laps, getting more chins by the minute. 

Last but not least, Matt cooked up our traditional Christmas morning breakfast. It is one of my favorite meals of the entire year. Bacon, sausage, french toast, hash browns, chorizo and egg burritos. Let's not forget the orange juice, chocolate milk, sparkling cider and egg nog to wash it down. Gluttony at its finest, and it tasted so good

Christmas 2013 in general was so good so great (aside from Matt getting a stomach bug later that night, but at least it struck in the evening... positive thinking over here!)! 

Hope you all had as wonderful of a Christmas as we did, and even more, I hope you enjoy the rest of this year in the company of the ones you love, holding on to the magic of this season for the year to come!

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Our Holiday Duds

Me || Skirt: DIY. Top: F21. Collar: DIY. Shoes: Nine West. Lips: NARS Jungle Red.
Luke || Cardigan: Baby Gap. Pants: Gap Outlet. Boots: Target. Shirt: H&M. Tie: H&M.
Wes || Cardigan: Baby Gap. Shirt: Carter's. Pants: The Children's Place.

I'm a little late to the party on the whole holiday outfits thing, but better late than never! The boys were spoiled by their uncle and aunt with the cardigans. It doesn't get cuter than matching cardigans, I promise. And look! I actually got a chance to wear my tulle skirt I made! The end.

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Merry Christmas!

This is our digital Christmas card this year since we didn't get around to printing out the real thing (you know, new babies and stuff). We would like to thank our tripod and camera remote for being our photographers. But, more importantly, we want to wish all of you a very, very Merry Christmas all the way from the thriving metropolis of Encinitas! Hope you are having a stupendously wonderful day full of family, love, and those warm fuzzy feelings (and some snow flurries, too). Hugs and kisses to you all!

P.S. Here are a handful of other photos from the day that were too cute to pass up! Merry Christmas!

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A Christmas Party

A couple of weekends ago we hosted a little Christmas gathering with a few of our pals. I wanted to share a few quick photos of the food and set up because, well, this is a blog and I was rather proud of my accomplishments since I rarely do this sort of thing. Also, the menu for our party was really easy to prepare and delicious, should you be scratching your head and troubling yourself with the age-old "what should I serve at our party?" question. I tried to add a little bit of everything so there were enough options and flavors, but not too many options.

First up for appetizers and sides, we had bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese (nom!), fruit bruschetta, and caprese. For the main course, we had slow cooked roast beef sandwiches and sweet potato fries. It wouldn't be a party without Mexican Coke to quench your thirst (and to give you a sugar hangover), and there was also water with cranberries to add a little color and a Christmas-y feel.

And what do you suppose we had for dessert? Our cutout sugar cookies, of course!

I am always in search of simple and tasty party foods, so what are your best go-to party goodies and tricks?

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Gingerbread House

We started a new tradition of gingerbread house making this year, in addition to our cutout sugar cookies. Believe it or not, I've never made a legitimate gingerbread house in my life. I suppose this isn't 100% legitimate since the gingerbread, frosting and embellishments came in a box. Making the house from scratch would be oh so lovely, but ain't nobody got time for that!

If you couldn't tell, Luke thought the purpose of this activity was to shovel the candies into your mouth as fast as humanly possible. Also, if frosting were drinkable, Luke would be chugging it.

So, the real question is, do you ever eat your gingerbread house after making it? Or is that gross? Is it simply decorative? Sorry, I don't know these things --I am a gingerbread house amateur. It smells really good, meaning I am this close to taking a massive bite out of the side right after Luke does.

P.S. Isn't Wes the chubbiest dubby in the land?! I am definitely taking a bite out of those chubbins.

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Holiday Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

As promised via Instagram, here is the magical recipe for our holiday cut-out cookies. This tradition began in my family far before I was born, and it is one of my most treasured holiday activities (you can see the gluten-free recipe for these cut-out cookies we made last year here). 

Luke made an excellent helper as he kept watch on the dough scrap pile and ate it with a cautious enthusiasm. He kept looking up at me each time his fingers pinched another mouthful and didn't break eye contact as he slowly raised the bite to his mouth, just waiting for me to say, "no more, buddy." But, alas. I was in the Christmas spirit, and what is Christmas without eating bottomless cookie dough with your best pal, Mama? It's those little things I want him to remember, and it is so good to have my own blossoming family with whom I can share these warm memories.

Without further ado, I give you the best cut-out sugar cookie recipe in the world. Oh, and you will definitely want to double the recipe (maybe even triple it) because 2 dozen of these babies will maybe last you 48 hours if you're lucky... 

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
Serving size:  2 dozen
Prep time: 25 minutes

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2  tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream (this is the golden secret!)

Heat oven to 425Ā°F. Mix shortening, sugar, egg, and vanilla thoroughly. Blend dry ingredients together. Sift them into the wet sugar mixture alternately with the sour cream. Make sure dough is well-floured so it can be handled in your hands without sticking. Divide dough into a small ball; place on wax or pastry paper, cover it with another sheet of wax paper and roll out to 1/4" thickness. Cut out shapes with desired holiday cookie cutters. Place on greased baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes. Enjoy!

Recipe from the Betty Crocker Cooky Book

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A Random Thing Or Two-sday

 Jacket: TJMaxx (similar). Hoodie: Target. Pants: H&M (similar). Shoes: UO (similar). Sunglasses: Target.

1) Hoodies under jackets are becoming my new obsession. I blame it solely on Leonard from The Big Bang Theory.

2) Fact: Smiling is contagious and can leave you feeling more positive, optimistic and motivated (source). Get out there and smile today!

3) If you Christmas shopping procrastinators still have some last minute purchasing to do, I highly suggest you check out BRIKA. It's the perfect place to snag a one-of-a-kind gift for that friend or mother-in-law that has everything (and you can enter to win a $25 gift card to the BRIKA store here!).

4) Luke is starting to talk in two-word phrases and the occasional full sentence, and it is delighting me and weirding me out that he is getting so big, all at the same time. Oh, parenthood, you make me stark raving happy and dramatically weepy (please tell me I'm not the only one suffering from these sweeping shifts in mood)!

5) Would you rather have a unicorn or be a unicorn?

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DIY Pom Pom Monogram Ornament

Twas' about two weeks before Christmas, when all through the house, 
there was a pom pom explosion, to the dismay of my spouse.
The stockings were adorned with colorful pom poms galore, 
along with each and every wall, surface, and door.

Luke and Wes were nestled on a new pom pom bed,
and of course a pom pom crown was encircling my head.
Matt in his pom pom sweater, and I in my cap,
had just settled down with a pom pom garland in my lap.

When I looked up to my tree thinking it needed to be fatter,
Pom pom ornaments were missing was what was the matter!
Away to my craft closet I flew like a flash,
and raided my obsessively large yarn hoarding stash.

The gleam of the flashlight shining from my iPhone,
gave the luster of prettiness to the yarn below.
When, what to my craft-obsessed eyes should appear,
But some wire and cardboard perfect for the letters so near.

With some little old scissors and a few hot glue sticks,
I cut out the monogrammed letter shapes mighty quick.
Then rapidly winding the yarn around the frame,
The first letters looked beautiful of my little boys' names.

First I completed the "L", to be followed by a "W"
and finished it with an "A" and a stately "M", too.
To the tip of the corners and the bottoms of all,
glued upon each little letter were tiny pom pom balls.

I spoke not a word, and finished the work,
adding ornament strings so they could prettily perk.
Laying a finger upon my contemplative chin,
These beauties looked perfect and were met with a grin.

I sprang to our tree, and hung the ornaments on the bristles,
Stepping back to admire, giving it an approving whistle.
When I heard everyone exclaim at the wonderous sight,
"Merry Pom Poms for all! And to all a good night!"

I truly, honestly don't know where that came from. I sat down to type, and that kind of just fluttered from my fingers onto the keyboard (it's the craft-lovers, abridged variation of "Twas The Night Before Christmas" if you didn't pick up on that). Anyway, this DIY post is inspired by these Anthropologie ornaments, and since I had all the materials on hand I figured I would make my own, versus paying $8 for each one. It's easy and a cute craft to do with your kiddies.


1 spool of yarn
1 package of small pom poms
Sturdy cardboard or old wire hangers (you also need wire cutters if you do this option)
Hot glue gun


1) Cut out the shape of your letter on your cardboard either using a stencil or freehand. You can also recycle an old wire hanger you get from the dry cleaner and shape it into your letter by bending it into shape. I tried both versions and they turn out the same, although cardboard is easier (I just wanted to put those hangers to good use that would otherwise get thrown out).

2) Start wrapping your yarn in neat lines all the way around the letter, making sure to go over it multiple times. Depending on the letter you do, some corners can get tricky, so glue down your yarn with the glue gun and begin wrapping in a new direction to adequately cover those wonky corners and crevices.

3) When finished yarn wrapping, glue down the yarn string and cut, making sure it is in the back.

4) Taking your hot glue gun, glue on your pom poms.

5) Tie on your ornament string to the top the by weaving it through some of the yarn (using a needle and thread for this part would be easiest) so it can hang. Adorn your tree with your shnazzy new ornament!

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Toddler Holiday Gift Guide (And A Giveaway!)

 Dino Stamp Set ($25) | Plush Bear ($36) | Spock Tee ($25) | Book ($17) Dino Pillow ($40)

For one reason or another, I've found myself deliberating on what to get Luke for Christmas. You know, they need to be the perfect gifts -- stimulating, educational, and fun for him (and not just pretty to look at for me). We've nailed it down with a few staples, and most of them fit the bill listed above. I am a big proponent of wooden toys AND handmade items (support small business!), that encourage creative play and learning. There are so many options out there, and sometimes it can be downright exhausting tracking down those beautiful toys and items without wanting to throw in the towel because you have 20 browser windows open, and yet have managed to accomplish not a dadgum thing. Blast those life-sucking, online shopping escapades!

Lucky for us all, I was recently introduced to the carefully curated shop, BRIKA, where selected artisans sell their handcrafted items. They are all in one spot, so you don't have to trade in your sanity to find the perfect items! Hip hip hooray! The items range from home decor and entertaining, to apparel and toys for your little people. There is so much detail and thought put into every item and it's the type of shop that makes your soul feel clean and refreshed... you know that feeling I'm talking about? Everything is just so, and it's simple and sleek and durable all at the same time.

Anyway, I've created the ultimate toddler holiday gift guide from the artisans of BRIKA, which range in varied price points for every type of budget. And it seems to me they are a huge hit, because Luke was sitting on my lap as I browsed through the shops and kept saying, "Ooooo! Dinosaur! Bear! Dump truck, dump truck!" So, there you have the official endorsement from an actual toddler. Looks like Santa needs to add a pit stop at the BRIKA warehouse to his excessively long list ;)

Now for the giveaway! The lovely people at BRIKA are generously giving away a $25 gift card giveaway to their shop so you can snag the items you've spotted. To enter this giveaway, all you need to do is:

1) Sign up to join the BRIKA community here
2) Leave a comment below telling us what your favorite item is from the site!

Giveaway open to US & Canada. Happy shopping and good luck!

UPDATE: Giveaway now closed. The winner is Shannon Dohrn, #18!

*This post was sponsored by BRIKA. Thanks for supporting our sponsors!


Happy Wrap Baby Carrier Giveaway

Where do I even begin to spout off how much I love this wrap? There are so many amazing things about it! I've had quite a few questions from readers and friends about my favorite baby carrier, and I have to say this Happy Wrap takes the cake. I've used the Moby wrap, the Ergobaby carrier, and some other cheap carrier I can't even remember the name of, so I feel I've a good hold on different baby carrier options (the only one I haven't tried is the sling, which I hear is good for when they are bigger, but I prefer wraps while they are itty bitty, and this thing can hold up to 30 pounds).

So why is the Happy Wrap so special? A) It's extremely lightweight and breathable, although it keeps baby warm when it gets chillier. Basically it works well in all climates. B) It is made from bamboo, meaning it is organic, hypoallergenic, incredibly soft, and has amazing stretch and durability. C) It's easy to put on, the color options are awesome, and they are made in the USA. What is not to love? NOTHING. It's the Mary Poppins of baby wraps and carriers (practically perfect in every way)!

I truly, honestly love this thing and was stalking the mailbox until it arrived, so I 100% recommend a Happy Wrap carrier if you are looking to do the whole babywearing thing, which I also fully support. I would not be able to go out and get things done having a toddler in tow (let's be honest, you need like 4 sets of hands with a 2 year old alone) and I love having my hands free. Also, Wes has been having some tummy problems lately, so I've been wearing him to help keep him upright and feeling comfortable. Plus, he just is happier being right next to me. This is a good writeup of all the benefits of babywearing if you are wanting more information and considering it.

Now that you are convinced you positively need a Happy Wrap, you are in luck! I've teamed up with the lovely folks at Happy Wrap and they are so generously giving away a wrap of your choice to one lucky reader! Enter the giveaway in the widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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A Random Thing Or Two-sday

 Sweater: LOFT. Blouse: LOFT. Pants: LOFT. Shoes: Urban Outfitters.

 1) It's Tuesday, right? For the last 6 weeks my life has been a perpetual state of confusion when it comes to knowing which day of the week it is. It's all a large, hazy blur of days flowing in and out of one another. The whole "the days are long, but the years are short" saying absolutely rings true.

2) Fact: Sea otters hold hands with each other while they sleep so they won't float away (source). So that's the cutest thing, EVER.

3) Isn't this wedding video the greatest (not to mention the bride's floral crown is perfection)? It makes me want to get married all over again just so I can have this dude come film it. Gah, I love love!

4) In the event that you need a good laugh, need reassurance that you are not a world class idiot, or all of the above, this article will mend all of that. I was crying by the end from laughing so hysterically.

5) Would you rather have pom poms for ears or tinsel for hair (I'm heavily in the Christmas spirit)?

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