Happy First Day of Summer!  School is out for Olive and I am looking forward to all the uninterrupted family time that comes with this time of year.  Bring on the BBQs, the watermelon, and the beach days.  I love a spontaneous adventure as much as the next gal, but let’s face it: a planner has gotta plan sometimes.  😉  Today I was inspired to write up a little summer bucket list to get some fun activities on the calendar for my family.

Summer Bucket List 2016

  1. Host a Korean BBQ dinner at our house
  2. Make homemade ice cream (this isn’t difficult, since I’ve made multiple batches already in the last month…)
  3. Go berry or cherry picking
  4. Beach bonfire, complete with s’mores
  5. Make popsicles
  6. Backyard campout
  7. Go bowling
  8. Sidewalk chalk afternoon
  9. Watch a movie at the drive-in
  10. Tie-dye with Olive
  11. Watch a baseball game
  12. Picnic at the beach
  13. Day at the Midstate Fair
  14. Make lemonade
  15. Family hike
  16. Santa Barbara Zoo
  17. Family bike ride
  18. Go stargazing at a local dark sky location
  19. Watch the sunrise and the sunset on the same day
  20. Read the World Summer Book Club

Other givens: lots of apple tasting at Gopher Glen, eating tons of homegrown tomatoes and sugar snap peas from our garden, park days, play dates and road trips.

What am I missing?  I’d love to hear something on your own summer bucket list!  Hope you’re having a great start to the week; see you again soon!

I’m baaaaaack!  And boy, have I missed it.  I have blogged on and off for 15 years (!!!) but am frequently “off.”  When things get busy (often), the blog is always first to be put on the back burner.  After a few weeks and then months go by, it seems intimidating to jump back into a routine.  But, I have sincerely desired to return to this space and am looking forward to sharing more regularly again.  One thing I’ve always loved writing about is the random finds/things that I’ve discovered and fallen for.  So I thought I’d jump right back into this blogging thing with my most recent “lately love” — BeautyCounter.

I have always been into skincare, following in the footsteps of my mother and her fastidious facial cleansing routines. I grew up watching her use dozens of products on her skin, treating her face with the utmost delicacy, visiting spas and getting facials regularly.  Although I haven’t invested the same amount of time and money into my own face (much to her chagrin, ha!), I’ve certainly seen firsthand what it looks like to take care of one’s skin.  Like most women, I went through stages with my skin care.  There were years I spent too much time in the sun, and years I went to bed with a full face of makeup.  Now that I’m older (read: getting fine lines and wrinkles) and somewhat wiser, I am more motivated to put some effort into my self-care.  Though I inherited some pretty good “skin genes,” I know good skin care starts from the inside out.  Good sleep and hydration are both key to healthy, supple skin.  From there, my desire is simply to take care of my skin in the most healthy, natural way possible.

Just over a month ago, I was introduced to BeautyCounter by my dear friend Lindsay.  She is an amazing wife and mama and one of my favorite women on the planet.  She also shares my desire for pure, natural products whenever and wherever possible.  I was immediately intrigued by the premise and heart behind BC.  BeautyCounter is a line of skincare, body care and makeup that is committed to providing the highest level of safe + effective products.  Created by a mama herself, the goal was to create the products she couldn’t find on store shelves.  BC has proactively banned over 1500 harmful ingredients from their own products, and are continually looking into each and every ingredient they use in their line to ensure its safety.  About 80% of their ingredients are organic and natural, and the other 20% of synthetic ingredients are carefully vetted.

I’ve had the pleasure of trying a host of BeautyCounter products and I am 100% in love.  I have noticed a real difference in the tone, texture, look and feel of my skin in just over a month.  I want to note that this is NOT an ad or sponsored post — this is just me sharing something I’ve discovered and loved.  Isn’t that always the best way to learn about something: to hear from a friend who loves it too??  I’ve tried tons of expensive products in my day but have never felt so good about a line as I do about BC.  It works and it makes me feel empowered using something safe and pure.

Here are the products I’ve tried so far:

  • Routine Clean Cream Cleanser (I use this every morning)
  • Countertime Nourishing Cleansing Balm (my very favorite BC product; it is a new holy grail item for me)
  • Countertime Radiance Firming Complex (another favorite product — feels amazing on the skin and gives me that glowy dewy finish I like)
  • Countertime Vibrant Eye Perfector (every morning and night)
  • Protect All Over Sunscreen SPF 30 (for me and the kiddos)
  • Kids Nice Do Shampoo
  • Kids Not a Knot Conditioner
  • + their former Kids Body Wash which has now been updated to the one below!

Here are the products on my wish list:

  • Nourishing Cream Exfoliator (I love a good exfoliant)
  • Purifying Charcoal Mask (like a 10 minute facial!)
  • Countertime Uplifting Day Cream
  • Countertime Restorative Night Cream
  • Super Duper Clean Kids Body Wash

My sweet Lindsay is offering free shipping this month if you’re interested in trying out some products.  Leave your email below and I’ll connect you with her directly to get the shipping deal!  <3

Your turn to share with me: what are your current beauty favorites, or your tried and true products?

Hope you all have a great weekend — see you again soon!

Happy Monday!  A second feature from the 2015 Love & Splendor Workshop is on Green Wedding Shoes TODAY.  We can’t wait for you to take a look at another one of our dinner settings.  For this particular evening, we dined outside the main house at Greengate Ranch and Vineyard.  Our inspiration was the equestrian property itself, bringing in rich autumn colors, masculine textures (such as leather, weathered wood and wrought iron), and luxurious details that made the experience truly special.

I never tire of looking at these photos from Braedon Photography — he captured every moment beautifully.

Make sure to check out the feature on Green Wedding Shoes today!  Now that we’ve been able to share some of the workshop on a larger scale, I’m looking forward to putting together some “closer look”  posts of each day of the workshop.  In those posts, I’ll be able to really focus on every beautiful detail and of course, share an overload of images.  Look out for that recap coming soon!

As always, I couldn’t have done a thing without my PHENOMENAL team…

photography: Braedon Flynn // planning & design: Love & Splendor // venue: Greengate Ranch and Vineyard in San Luis Obispo, California // floral: Wilder Floral Co. // furniture rentals: Found Vintage Rentals // tabletop rentals: Casa de Perrin // linens: La Tavola Fine Linen // décor rentals: Theoni Collection // catering: Trumpet Vine Catering // calligraphy: Anne Robin // paper goods: The Romance Between // donuts: Sugar Lips Mini Donuts // cake + mini desserts: Sweet and Saucy Shop // lighting: All About Events

Hope you all have a wonderful week.  I have a busy one ahead, filled with Skype calls, meetings, filming, and tastings.  In just the next seven days, I’ll get to see three of my couples.  Grateful for the amazing clients I have this year and I can’t wait to bring their unique celebrations to life.

Hi everyone!!  Let’s fast-forward through the requisite apology for not blogging in ages.  It has been an amazing yet action-packed season for me and when something’s gotta give, it is always the blog.  But — I am really looking forward to sharing more in this space in 2016.  Writing here is a great joy for me.

Along those lines, I want to share that we have a gorgeous feature on Green Wedding Shoes today!  My 2015 Love & Splendor workshop took place last fall at stunning Greengate Ranch and Vineyards in San Luis Obispo, California.  I’m ecstatic to FINALLY share some beautiful photos from Braedon Flynn.  Check out the post on GWS today, featuring our farewell dinner.  Next week we have the second part of the feature to share (!), and then I will be blogging about the entire workshop chronologically here.  🙂  For now, just a few teasers…

A huge thank you to Jen of GWS for coming all the way to SLO as a speaker (her second year in a row!) and also continuing to support and share my work.  Love you to pieces!

Thanks for reading & stopping by — much more to come very soon!

{DREAM TEAM for L&S Workshop 2015 Farewell Dinner} photography: Braedon Flynn // planning & design: Love & Splendor // venue: Greengate Ranch and Vineyard in San Luis Obispo, California // floral: Wilder Floral Co. // furniture rentals: Found Vintage Rentals // tabletop rentals: Casa de Perrin // linens: La Tavola Fine Linen // décor rentals: Theoni Collection // catering: Field to Table Events // calligraphy: Anne Robin // paper goods: The Romance Between // die cut gingko placecards: Jen Aitchison // ice cream: Negranti’s Ice Cream Truck // Photo Booth: CamBooth by Cameron Ingalls

PS // Today Noah is ONE (ohmygosh ohmygosh) and I have a sappy post in the works.  Too much excitement for one day, clearly, and I am still processing my mom-feelings.  🙂  Happy birthday to the littlest love of my life!

When I was 19-years old, I met a boy.  I was wrapping up my sophomore year at UC Berkeley (so was he) and though we never had a single class together, we attended the same church.  I will never forget the first time I saw him (from a distance, and I swear it was in slow-mo like in the movies) and gushed to my girlfriends that he was absolutely dreamy. We moved from admirers to friends, until one day Erik skated up to me on Sproul Plaza (yeah, he literally rolled up to me on his skateboard) and asked me to join him at a concert the following week.  I said yes, he skated away, and the rest is history.  🙂  If you’re wondering about the concert: we saw The Juliana Theory & the Ataris at the Fillmore in San Francisco.  Major points if you know either of those bands.  🙂

From then on, we were nearly inseperable.  We dated for the rest of our undergrad years, getting engaged during Christmas break our senior year.  I’ll share the amazing proposal story one of these days…  We got married just months after graduation, surprising most of our friends and family.  Why would we want to get married so soon, so young??

Oh how thankful I am to have spent such sweet, formative years with my one and only.  How grateful I am that we knew back then that this was IT — that love is a covenant and you choose to love every day.  Love is what you do.  We set our love upon one another, and that love has only deepened, matured and strengthened over the years.

Today we celebrate ten beautiful years of marriage (and over 12 years together).  I am in disbelief that the time has passed so quickly, and yet I can think back and see how full these ten years have been.  We have walked through so much together.  We’ve been blessed to travel to six countries together, along with many US destinations.  We both abandoned our “stable futures” and everything we had studied in college to pursue what we felt was truly our calling.  We’ve lived in four homes together.  We clung to each other in years of infertility and recurrent miscarriage.  We welcomed our miracle daughter in 2012.  We bought our first home together in 2013.  We took the leap of faith into the world of adoption in 2014 and embarked on a roller coaster ride through the domestic adoption process.  We welcomed our miracle son in 2015, via adoption.  We’ve laughed to the point of tears, we’ve cried in valleys of sorrow, we’ve fought and we’ve forgiven.  We have both GROWN, by the grace of God, and so has our love.  TEN years always seemed like the first “big” anniversary to me.  An entire decade.  Now that we have made it, I wonder if the next ten will fly by even faster?

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I am currently out of town celebrating with a mini-getaway.  I’m sure I’ll share more about that on the blog eventually.  Today I just wanted to share my top ten things I love about my college (and forever) sweetheart, Erik.

favorite pic of us on our wedding day — so much joy!

singing “be thou my vision” with our guests // it’s one of my favorite pics of the day
and was snapped by a friend in one of the front rows!

  1. His unwavering faith and devotion to the Lord — he exemplifies what it means to practice what you preach
  2. His ability to be silly & playful — we have so much fun together, and I can be my goofy self around him without any hesitation
  3. His sharp wit and humor — he makes me laugh every single day
  4. His brilliant mind — Erik has always challenged me and conversations with him elevate my own way of thinking.  God has given him such an ability to study, understand, retain and teach.
  5. His patience — he has so much grace for me and others
  6. His beautiful amber hazel eyes — they are the color of golden honey and they are captivating!
  7. His tenderness in parenting — Erik is the best father to Olive and Noah and there is nothing more attractive to me than seeing how he cares for our little ones.
  8. His uncanny ability to dominate at everything he does, whether it’s a long-time hobby or a brand new endeavor.  Erik is just good at everything, and it is kinda crazy.
  9. His romantic heart — Erik has always written me the most beautiful, sincere love letters and never misses an opportunity to wow me on anniversaries and special occasions.
  10. Your loyalty and devotion to me — I feel so secure in your love and you love me so well.

to my Erik — you are my greatest blessing on this earth.  I can’t adequately express how thankful I am for you, every single day.  10 years ago, I married the very best man I knew.  You still embody to me everything that a great man is: devoted to the Lord, full of integrity and honor, respectful, well-spoken and kind, tender-hearted, wildly intelligent yet strikingly humble, utterly hilarious! and personable, and let’s face it… you’re pretty easy on the eyes, too. 😉

I know I am better for knowing you, and for having the honor of living as your companion. you teach me so much just by the way you live.  You are a constant source of encouragement and edification to me, and there is such comfort that comes from the support you give.  I know how special our relationship is.  I truly believe it to be an (unfortunate) rarity: two people committed to love each other, and also wildly in love with each other.  I treasure what we share, and I am proud to be your wife.

It is a joy to love you… for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death separates us.

happy anniversary baby <3 I love you.

spring 2008 — the image is found

december 2008 – amelia lyon

fall 2009 – jessica claire

january 2012 – jose villa

july 2014 – ryan ray

june 2015 – the image is found

I hope you’re all having a great day; see you soon!

With Olive starting preschool in a month (!!!), I have had school supplies on my mind.  I always loved back-to-school shopping as a child, and now I get to be the one with the pocketbook, helping my own daughter fill up a cart with (cute) essentials.  Although the supplies truly necessary for a preschooler are limited, I knew I wanted to invest in a great first backpack.  My goal was to find something well-made, colorful and appropriately-sized.  Ideally, Olive will hold on to this backpack for at least a few years.  Here were my top contenders…

  • Herschel // Settlement Kids backpacks $39.99 — Herschel is synonymous with hip backpacks for kids and adults alike.  They have a kids line as well as a slightly larger youth line, for the bigger kiddos.  Olive was instantly attracted to the variety of quirky patterns offered; her favorite is the “South Beach” design in a bright teal, covered with palm trees and pink flamingos.  Both the Settlement and Heritage lines come in kids’ sizes.
  • STATE Bags // The Kane $55 —
    STATE Bags is like the TOMS of the bag world; they have a wonderful program that matches each bag sold with one given to an American child in need.  I love the playful color blocking on the bag, and the various pockets and compartments.  I think both colorways work for boys and girls.
  • Freshly Picked // Limited Edition Backpacks $30 —
    My favorite moccasin maker now makes limited edition backpacks!  This summer they did a playful banana print and a coral-backed palm leaf pattern.  Right now they’re offering a classic stars and striped backpack.  The price is right, too!
  • Skip Hop // Unicorn Backpack $20 — I love Skip Hop products and their sweet line of backpacks (and coordinating lunch boxes, plates, cups, etc.) is comprised of various animals.  The unicorn is a newer offering and it just puts a smile on my face.  This bag is the smallest of all at only 10.5″w x 12″h x 5″d.
  • Fjallraven // Kånken Mini backpack $65 — I love the squared-off shape of this iconic framed backpack, a Swedish classic.  It comes in a rainbow of colors (including some two-tone options) and is beautifully made.

Let me know if you have a favorite!  In the end, I couldn’t get Olive off of those “mingos” (what she calls flamingos) and we ordered the Herschel Kid’s Settlement backpack.  It shipped at lightning speed and the quality and craftsmanship exceeded my very high expectations.  Olive is already wearing it around the house in excitement for “school time.”

Hope you are all having a great week!


Last month I took a few days to escape to the woods with my family.  We are so fortunate to live just a short 1.5-2 hours from Big Sur: California’s most famous stretch of coast.  If you have never driven Big Sur, I urge you to put it on your list.  It is such a breathtaking, magical, soul-stirring part of the country.  On the left, it’s nothing but cerulean waters, sparkling in the sun and crashing against the rocky shoreline.  On the right, you will pass numerous state parks and endless miles of redwood forest.  The drive is notoriously perilous (read: lots of twists and turns, narrow roads, few guard rails between you and sheer cliffs) but rewards you with spectacular views.  There are countless turnouts along the drive for you to snap some photos and soak in the views a bit longer.

The drive alone is reason to visit, but we were excited to trek to Limekiln State Park for some tent camping.  Many people are surprised when I tell them I love to camp (and hike, kayak, etc.); I guess I don’t really give off the adventurous vibe (hah!).  Appearances are deceiving, however, because I absolutely love being outdoors.  Erik and I hope to pass on this love of the outdoors with our kiddos so we bravely (?) took our 3 year old daughter and 4 month old son along for the experience.  I’m happy to report it was an incredible trip!  Olive loved the novelty of sleeping in a tent and Noah is such a happy camper (pun intended) that he adapted beautifully.  We spent 3 nights out there and it was the perfect length of time for our family.

Limekiln State Park is the perfect campsite for anyone with kids, or anyone who prefers a more low key environment.  There are only 27 campsites there (so quite small): some are at the beach (literally a private little beach only accessible through the campsite — not great for swimming but perfect for relaxing) where you can fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves; others are along the rushing creek; the last group of sites are in the redwood forest.  We went with the redwood sites and were fortunate enough to nab the BEST site in the camp: #29.  I cannot tell you how many times we were asked during our stay (by passerby, other campers, random hikers) what our campsite # was.  Site 29 is elevated (above the main road) and is therefore separate from all the other sites.  You don’t border anyone, you can’t hear anyone else, and it really feels like you are in the VIP section.  😉

this is campsite 29!

We loved that Limekiln had enough nearby to keep us happy at camp (e.g. a beautiful bubbling creek and some mellow trails for hiking with kiddos, along with that aforementioned private beach).  But, we did venture out a few times to explore other parts of Big Sur.  We made stops at Big Sur Bakery & Café (a MUST — the yummiest sandwiches!), Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (more great trails and hundreds of campsites), Henry Miller library, and Pfeiffer Beach (which was incredibly windy and cold, which makes for a less than desirable beach experience… but undeniably gorgeous).

Limekiln was so great that it’s hard to imagine staying anywhere else next time we head to Big Sur.  But, there are many beautiful state parks in the area that I hope to try very soon.  It’s always a tough decision when it comes to sticking with the vetted, beloved old favorite vs. trying out something new.

During the day we explored, hiked, read, and relaxed.  We ate like kings thanks to lots of pre-trip preparations (and let’s face it — everything tastes somehow better when cooked over a campfire), and slept soundly in a large 10-person tent.  We are so glad we went with the bigger tent; we had tons of room to stretch out, get dressed, stow luggage, etc. instead of going to the car everytime we needed something.  In the evenings we had a tradition of making cocoa, coffee and s’mores and then tucking in for a classic Disney movie (played on my laptop).  I know it sounds anti-outdoorsy to enjoy technology on a camping trip, but it made our early evenings so special for Olive.  She had never seen any of these movies (Aladdin, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast) so we loved snuggling together and sharing them with her.

Although we enjoyed our movie nights, we were “unplugged” for the rest of the trip.  I only had service for a few brief moments one day, when I could post a photo on IG.  Being unable to check email or social media for a few days was so good for me.  I was more engaged in my surroundings, soaking up precious time with my family and more attentively marveling in the creation around me.  I also especially loved reading my Bible outside while Olive and Noah napped each afternoon.  It was such a blessing to have that time to myself with the Word, just listening to the creek rush by, taking quiet moments to ponder and meditate.  I felt refreshed (except the part where we only had one ice cold shower, haha!) and rejuvenated and filled to the brim with gratitude.

We’re already planning our next trip this fall!  If you have any favorite spots in and around Big Sur, let me know.  We will likely venture further north on our next visit, taking the kids to nearby Monterey and Carmel.

Enjoy the week and see you again soon!


Thank you to everyone for your sweet comments here & on Instagram regarding our Target commercial!  We are so grateful for the opportunity we had to be featured as a voice for adoption.  Many people have asked how we got the gig, so I thought I’d share a little behind-the-scenes post on how it all happened.

The process started in early March, when my sweet friend Joy (of Oh Joy!) emailed me about the casting.  She knew that Target was working on putting together a series of nursery commercials and they were looking for different families to feature.  She thought we might be a fit (since we were in the adoption process) and asked if we might want to audition.  Of course my interest was piqued, but I didn’t expect Erik to want to drive down to LA for an audition.  Surprisingly, he said we might as well fill out a questionnaire and see what happened.  We were called for an audition shortly thereafter, with less than a day’s notice.  (That is typical for the industry, but atypical for us since we live hours away from LA now…)  I asked the casting director if we could bring our kids (they were just casting parents) and they said we could.  So, two kiddos in tow, we made our way to the audition.

first audition // see noah sleeping by the monitor?

Our initial audition took less than 15 minutes.  We checked in, waited in a large room with dozens of other couples, and were eventually called into an audition room.  It was just us and a sweet cameraman who filmed us answering a handful of questions.  The process was pretty simple and we felt honored to share our adoption story, even if it was just with the cameraman!  The initial auditions were conducted over a few days, and they likely saw countless couples.

Imagine our excitement when we found out we made callbacks (aka round two of auditions), which meant another trip to LA.  I saw nearly 50 families listed on the callback sheet!  On this occasion, we were called in to meet the director and a team of creatives working on the film.  Noah slept through the audition (of course!) but Olive enjoyed hamming it up for everyone, making friends with the production team and crawling up on the casting couch with them.  It was hilarious!  Once again we enjoyed the experience of sharing about ourselves, why we chose adoption, and how we had already been so blessed in the process.  We also chatted about how our fast-paced adoption made it difficult to prepare for Noah in the way most expectant couples might prepare for their little ones.

Post callback, we learned we had been selected for the commercial.  The casting director then let me know that Target loved Olive and wanted her to be in the commercial as well.  We were delighted!  We had some paperwork to handle (since Olive is a minor, she required a work permit as well as a special bank account for children in the entertainment industry) before things were made official.  As a sidenote — at the time we filmed the commercial, we were not allowed to show Noah’s face on camera.  This is one reason why he is not featured in the commercial.

in the studio

From there we scheduled recording sessions (since the commercial is a voice-over, Erik and I spent time in a recording studio), fittings, and call times.  The recording session took a couple of hours in Santa Monica, where we sat in a sound booth with the director.  He asked us tons of questions about our relationship, our family, our homelife, our fertility struggles and the adoption process.  A lot of the questions were likely warm ups to get us comfortable speaking into microphones (with a handful of people sitting in the adjacent room, listening and taking notes on sound bites they might want to put into the final commercial).  I really loved that the process was conversational, since it meant our own words were used in the commercial, not a script.  It also helped us get very comfortable with the director (the brilliant creative, Mac Premo) before shoot day.  We had a great time telling our story to him in full detail, even though only a few snippets made it into the 1 minute commercial.  A little note: I was a little sick on the day of our studio session, so my voice sounds deeper than usual in the commercial.  Of course no one could really notice but it still makes me chuckle when I hear it played back.

olive with director mac premo

The day we shot the commercial was an exciting and packed day.  We arrived early to grab coffee and breakfast (catering + craft services = one of the best parts of the entertainment business! haha) and then were rushed into hair/makeup and wardrobe.  I love that they observed what we wore to the audition (our own clothes) and just tried to mimic that.  So, while the clothes we wore were selected by stylists (the hilarious Keith Wager), they were almost identical to what we had worn to the audition.  Keith joked that it was actually hard to find quirky clothes for me.  😉  Everything we wore was head-to-toe Target, of course.  Olive was put into overalls which looked darling on her, but there was a tiny bit of drama since she prefers to wear dresses everyday of the week.  We all convinced her she looked perfect and distracted her long enough for her to forget what she was wearing.  I then had the pleasure of having my makeup done by the talented Terri Apanasewicz.  She is an industry star who styles some of the most famous faces in Hollywood (including Cindy Crawford and Gisele, nbd), yet she treated me with the utmost kindness and care.  I told her I hope our paths cross again so she can really doll me up, instead of just giving me the everyday look we were going for with this commercial.  😉  We didn’t do anything to my hair (or Olive’s!) to keep it natural.  From makeup I was literally whisked to set, and right into the first shots.  Everyone on set was super friendly and accommodating, from the producers to the cameramen to the editors.

Also fun — they hired a teacher/handler for Olive, since she is a minor.  She was so lovely and also had worked with some of the biggest child stars in Hollywood, including Abigail Breslin.  I was really blown away by the talented crew that Target had brought on for the project!

Overall I was  taken aback by the amount of people who were on-set to oversee the project.  There was someone there from Target HQ, along with the creative team who had been at the audition, sitting in a “video village” to observe the playback.  They would occasionally radio up minor comments and notes to help capture exactly what they envisioned for the project.  There was a props team, a seamstress, and countless others.  The energy in the air was palpable, and the pace frenetic yet upbeat.

It was a very full day of filming but I have to say I enjoyed every minute.  I loved just getting a glimpse of the fascinating world of film/TV.  SO much work went into putting together this spot; it made me pause to consider how much more time goes into shooting every scene of a TV show or movie.  I certainly came away with a greater respect for the art and thought and effort that goes into creating the commercials we see everyday.

I hope one day Noah can watch this film and see how excited we were to welcome him into our family.  He has truly been loved and anticipated from the very beginning.  I can’t believe he has now been with us for five months!

Enjoy your day and see you again soon!  Thank you for stopping by!


I can’t believe it but my little family is featured in a Target commercial about adoption!  I’ve already watched it a handful of times and Olive is positively obsessed.  (Oh brother!)  Don’t worry — we aren’t quitting our day jobs.  But, we had a blast working on this project and are excited to have it as a little keepsake for our family.

Today I wanted to share the commercial (currently on their YouTube channel, but keep your eyes open: our contract allows to national TV spots as well!) but later this week I’ll share about the audition & casting process, as well as what goes into shooting a commercial like this.  It was a really unique and wonderful experience.

We’re not quitting our day jobs but hey, Olive is Coogan-account ready in case anyone out there wants to snap her up for their next ad campaign.  😉

I hope you all have a wonderful day; see you soon!


It’s no secret I am an ice cream fiend (it is hands down my favorite thing to eat, period).  I literally can never get enough and it is difficult to keep it in my house since my self-control goes out the window when I know there’s a pint waiting for me in the freezer…  Whenever I have guests over, I love to make my own homemade ice cream as a special indulgence.  Just a few weekends ago, I had the joy of hosting the Kaisers (Nate, Jac, and their two kiddos Grace and Jasper).  During their last visit, we whipped up a luscious salted butter caramel ice cream.  This time around, I let Grace brainstorm some flavor ideas and we picked one together.  We landed on a creamsicle-inspired flavor that combined a creamy vanilla bean base with a bright infusion of fresh orange.  The result was incredible and I am happy to share the recipe here with you!

Orange Creamsicle Ice Cream // makes a generous quart
**Vanilla base adapted from David Lebovitz // customized to add hint of orange

  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 3/4 cups of sugar
  • pinch of sea salt (or best salt you have in the pantry — I use Himalasalt)
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lenthwise
  • zest of one large orange
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice (fresh squeezed from the one you zested!)

Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice cubes (about halfway) and a bit of water so they are floating.  Then placing a metal bowl on top of that so it is surrounded by the ice cubes.  You want an extra cold bowl to add your ingredients later.  *A key to successful ice cream making is having a completely cold custard (un-churned ice cream) before pouring into your machine.

Put a mesh strainer over the metal bowl and pour the cream into it.

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, salt, and sugar until the sugar is melted.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the milk mixture, then throw in the bean pod.  Cover, remove from heat and allow custard to infuse up to one hour.  Remove bean pod.

In a separate bowl, whisk together your egg yolks.  Rewarm the milk mixture and temper the yolks by slowly adding small teaspoons of the warm milk to the eggs and whisking continuously.  When the yolk mixture is warmed up, add *slowly* to the milk mixture.  I am really cautious about scrambling my eggs so I very gradually add warm milk to the yolks, then a touch of the yolks to the milk, and so on.  This is the most time consuming step for me but it is well worth not ruining a batch of ice cream with chunks of scrambled egg!  haha

Now cook the custard over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a silicone spatula, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spatula.

Pour the custard over the mesh strainer into the cold cream (in that metal bowl over the ice bath).  This helps in case you didn’t temper patiently and have some floating egg bits in your custard!  It also ensures that the final product is luxuriously smooth.  Stir over the ice bath until the mixture is cool, then add the vanilla extract, orange juice and zest.  (I strain the orange juice but put the zest in directly because I love the pretty specks in the finished product.)

Put the custard into the fridge for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight.  This is a KEY step — your custard must be thoroughly and completely chilled.  If not, it won’t freeze completely in the churner and you’ll end up with ice cream soup.

When your custard is fully chilled, freeze it in the ice cream maker according to instructions.  I use the Kitchen Aid ice cream maker attachment that works with my stand mixer.  I love it!

Once the ice cream is churned, remove to a freezer safe container and chill until firm.  (Fresh churned ice cream will have a softer texture since it doesn’t have any artificial stabilizers, but it will firm up nicely in the freezer.)

Let me know if you try it — it was a definite winner over here!  Enjoy and see you again soon!