Cheers to 35 and 35 Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

This is 35 and how I feel about!
Maybe if I don’t look it won’t happen. 

Here are 35 things you probably don't know about me:
  1. I’m terrified of the dark.
  2. I started dating my husband at 14.
  3. I’m Portuguese, which means I’m loud and proud!
  4. I’ve traveled to 5 different Countries. 
  5. Until recently I wouldn’t walk on street grates for fear of falling in.
  6. My favorite city I’ve been to is Estoril, Portugal. 
  7. I was raised by a strong, brave and selfless single mom. 
  8. I lived in LA for two years and attended UCLA but hated nearly every second so I moved home and graduated from Fresno State. 
  9. I’m a complete Introverted Extrovert. 
  10. My favorite movie is Pretty Woman. 
  11. I only eat meals so I can eat dessert! I wake up counting down until I can have dessert and it be socially acceptable. 
  12. I hate to be cold... ok you knew this one already. 
  13. I’m 5’1” so I’ve worn heels nearly every day of my life since high school. 
  14. My favorite thing to do is dance. 
  15. I'm an only child but have 1 half brother, 1 step sister, and 1 half sister I've never met.
  16. I love hot tea but do not like coffee.
  17. My grandpa had the greatest impact on my life and was my favorite person in the world. 
  18. I like to be on the go but also like a little down time as well.
  19. I could care less about sports but love going to a game for the social aspects (like eating and drinking, lol).
  20. I've had significant health battles in my younger years but so incredibly thankful that most are minor these days.
  21. My greatest fear in life was not being able to have children but I had no issues at all.  Now my greatest fears involve my children.  Like which one will wear me down first!!!  JK!
  22. I need lots of sleep but have terrible insomnia.
  23. I'm really cheap and love a good sale.
  24. I've been in a bar fight, gotten someone kicked out of a bar and danced on a bar.
  25. I almost drowned in two feet of water trying to snorkel.  I'm exaggerating but I suck to say the least!
  26. I get up and get "dressed" nearly every single day.  You will rarely see me without makeup.  Putting myself together just makes me feel better on the inside.
  27. I hate running, not crazy about spinning, but could do High Fitness every day of the week.
  28. I've never liked my body.  My freshman year of high school I wore a long sleeve shirt around my waist every day trying to hide my huge behind.  My now husband was the one who convinced me I didn't need to hide it.  
  29. I find laugher and humor to be the most attractive quality in others.  I was attracted to Kevin because he made me laugh.
  30. I love my job and spend a ton of volunteer time protecting homeownership and private property rights.
  31. My favorite color is pink, my favorite number is 4, my favorite season is Summer, my favorite food are Hungry Bear Cookies, and my favorite drink is Malibu & Diet Dr. Pepper (or water).
  32. I visit the Day Spa on almost every trip I take.  If time and money allowed I would get a massage every week.
  33. I'm Type A, organized and OCD by nature but after having three kids I'm just a total mess!
  34. I love to listen to music really loudly in the car and I make up half the words to every song.  Remember Bennie & The Jetts in 27 Dresses?!?!  That's me!
  35. I'm not crazy about getting older but feel so blessed for my health, my family, my friends and where I am in my life.


Fun & Easy Breakfast Options

This post is sponsored by General Mills, but all opinions are my own. 

Break is over which is very bittersweet and back to school is in full swing.  Mornings are always tough but after a long break they are that much more difficult.  I prep as much as I can the night before including picking out clothes, packing lunches and prepping breakfast.  Breakfast time can cause issues when it comes to all the requests.  I try and feed the girls something quick since we have to be out the door pretty early and I also try to just make one thing to save myself some time.  

To make everyone happy I picked up some new cereals and new flavors to satisfy everyone!  I switched out chaos for fun with the new General Mills cereals from Walmart.  We picked up Jolly RancherHershey's Kisses and Trix Trolls with Marshmallows Cereals and the kids thought it was so much fun, their smiles were as bright as the rainbow.






As you know I love throwing mini breakfast bashes for the girls to celebrate all the holidays and milestones, so back to school totally qualifies. It was another fun breakfast celebrating back to school after winter break.  It made the transition from slow mornings to chaotic mornings so much brighter.  Add some fun to your next breakfast and grab one of the new flavors by General Mills from Walmart!

  • DreamWorks Trolls World Tour © 2020 DreamWorks Animation, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  • HERSHEY’S KISSES trademark and trade dress, conical configuration and plume device are used under license.
  • JOLLY RANCHER trademark and trade dress are used under license.

How to Plan the Best North Pole Breakfast with Elf on the Shelf

The Christmas season doesn't truly begin until our North Pole Breakfast.  We may have visited Santa and the decorations have been going up over the past few weeks but it doesn't feel real until Jingle the Elf returns from the North Pole.  

Our North Pole Breakfast is the second most magical day of the year; second only to Christmas morning.  The girls jumped with joy and squealed with delight when they saw Jingle had returned.  I think I get as much joy as they do planning the breakfast and seeing their excitement.  Their smiles make my heart explode and witnessing their innocence is the best feeling.  I had the realization the other night that my years are VERY limited with Emily and the magic of Christmas.  She is in second grade and it will only be a matter of time before she starts questioning Santa.  This year I am going to do my best to soak in all the innocence, magic and joy!

Our Breakfast Bashes are always so much fun and quite simple to execute and this one is no exception.  Most of the time I use our tableware from Re-Play because they add the best pops of color.  I always have a stock of paper straws and the glass milk jars I also have on hand.  I found the gold wire baskets at Dollar Tree (score!!!) and found the t-shirts and pajamas from The Children's Place (all linked below).  Our letter board adds some humor and the final touch on the table.

For the food we started with Reindoor Donuts, Santa Cookies and Marshmallow Snow Balls.  The main course was Santa pancakes.  To make the donuts I used mini chocolate donuts, twist pretzels cut in half, candy eyes, and red candy coated chocolately pearls.  For the pancakes I used strawberries, canned whipped cream, chocolate chips and black decorating icing. 

So I may LOVE our North Pole Breakfast but remembering to move the elf is a whole different story!  Onto planning his moves and activities...

Creative Christmas Card Ideas

I love planning out our Christmas cards every year.  Some years I pick a theme and other years I just pick a landscape and coordinate our outfits.  Here is a round up of our past Christmas Card Ideas for you to use as a little inspiration...

Location: Christmas Tree Farm
Color Scheme: Leopard and Red 
Card Caption:
"May you have the gift of faith, the blessing of hope and the peace of His love at Christmas and always."

Theme: There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays
Location: Under a Fresno sign
Color Scheme: Black, White & Hunter Green 
Card Caption:
"May there be joy in your home, love in your heart, and laughter in your life this Christmas season."

Theme: Polar Express
Location: Caboose
Color Scheme: Red & Black Buffalo Check
Card Caption:
"The bell rings for all who truly BELIEVE.  Make the magic of Christmas remain in your heart and the sound of the bell in your ear."

Location: Park
Color Scheme: Red, Navy & White
Card Caption:
"We said a Christmas prayer for you because the season's near.  We didn't ask for riches but for gifts so much more dear.  We asked for joyful gatherings with your family all around, and for carols to inspire you with their old familiar sound.  We asked for quiet moments in your heart on Christmas morn, for a special time to celebrate the Savior who was born...We asked for friends to send their best that you might know they care.  We asked for peace and love and hope, and we know God heard our prayer."

Theme: Silent Night
Location: Home
Color Scheme: Red & White
Card Caption: 
"Merry & Bright...and up all night!
We traded silent nights for a bundle of joy!"

If you want more details about styling holiday cards click HERE.  If you want more details on executing cards from start to finish click HERE.

A Complete Guide to Creating Beautiful Holiday Cards

One of the best parts of the Christmas season is Christmas Cards.  I love sending them just as much as I love receiving them.  It's the only time of year that I check the mailbox regularly and get excited for mail.  I love seeing how everyone has grown and all the creative ideas from everyone.  Although Christmas cards are so much fun they can be labor intensive and pretty stressful to execute from start to finish.  I've created a guide that I've tweaked and perfected over the years so that you can take all the stress out for yourself.  Here are all the steps in creating a beautiful card:

1. Pick a Photographer
2. Pick a Theme
3. Pick Wardrobe
4. Pick a Location
5. Take Photos
6. Search Card Options, Create, and Order

I always start with the photographer because the best ones book up MONTHS in advance.  I seriously get our Christmas card photos on the books in the Spring and I'm always amazed how few options are already left when I start looking for a mutually agreeable date.  If you don't already have a relationship with a photographer you need to start looking for one.  I always ask for recommendations first and then start looking at their body of work online or on social media.  Pick a few that you like and then start looking at their pricing.  Photography can be insanely expensive so you need to find someone within your budget.  You can find newer photographers who are trying to build their business who are charging cheaper prices but are still very talented.  Make sure you ask several questions ahead of time before booking to make sure it will be a good fit.  Here are some questions I think you should ask:

1. Do you have experience with children?
2. Do you have experience with editing and Photoshop?
3. What is your turnaround time for delivering photos?
4. How do you deliver photos?
5. How many photos can I expect to receive?
6. Are all photos delivered raw or edited?

If you are local we absolutely love Melissa Gotelli Photography.  We've used her for many occasions over the years and she is so kind and patient with our family.  We are always so happy with her work!

The next step in the planning process is deciding on a theme.  Some years I have a specific theme and other years I just pick a scenic background and coordinating outfits.  You can check out creative themes I've done in the past HERE.  If you need further theme inspiration check out your favorite influencers on social media or jump into Pinterest.  Once I decide on a theme I start working on the wardrobe.  This is one of my favorite steps because who doesn't love shopping!  I also get a small thrill from putting looks together (lol).  However, although the shopping is so much fun I always start in our closets to save time and money.  Once I see what we have that might already work I start shopping.  I usually buy several options and then start laying it all out to see what looks best together.  Another tip is to decide on looks for the whole family and then send it to your photographer.  They have an eye for what will look best on camera as well as what will work with the location.  Speaking of, now is the time that the photographer and I decide on the perfect location.  If you have a theme let the photographer know so that they can help you with your vision. 

Now for the hardest part...take the photos.  Does anyone else come totally prepared but leave completely shaken?!?!  No, just me????  I go in with the best intentions and the calmest mindset but the kids never want to cooperate fully and sometimes my vision just goes out the window.  There isn't enough bribing in the world to have a completely smooth session.  Luckily, I always get at least a few photos thanks to an amazing photographer.  My tips for taking photos are picking a good time for your kids when you book the session.  Don't plan pictures during nap times or witching hours.  Also do lots of pep talks (read:bribery) in the car on your way there.  Start with the photos that mean the most to you.  That might be a full family photo or a pic of just your kids.  Whatever that is start with that and anything you get after that is gravy.  Another tip for preparing for you photo session is to pick out a few card options ahead of time.  This way if you only like cards with vertical photos you can communicate that with your photographer.

The last step is creating and ordering your cards.  I found Postable last year and am in love/obsessed!!!!!  I love anything that saves me time and Postable makes sending cards a total breeze.  Their motto is, "You click, we lick!"  Can you imagine you order your cards and then do NOTHING after that?!?!  You don't have to stuff, seal, address and stamp.  Postable takes care of every single step for you.  I've literally saved a couple of hours by converting over to Postable I have the best news, you can use code FRESNO for 20% off your order.  

For more wardrobe and styling tips check out a previous post HERE.

This is a sponsored post.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.  Thank you for supporting the brands that have received my stamp of approval.

How to Kick Off Christmas with Santa HQ

“This is a sponsored blog; while the views expressed here
were genuinely mine, consideration was paid to me by Macerich/HGTV’s Santa

We live for traditions in our house and one of our favorites during the holidays is visiting Santa at HGTV's Santa HQ inside Fashion Fair Mall.  We've been going for several years and so the girls start asking for it as soon as Christmas starts sneaking into our house and around town.   It's usually our first holiday activity so it kicks off the season.

What makes Santa HQ so special is you don't just wait in line and visit with Santa for a minute but you have a full interactive experience before meeting the big guy!  There are four stops prior to Santa, each offering a new bit of fun.

The first stop is probably our favorite; the Naughty or Nice Meter.  Each child inputs their name with the help of an elf and then stands on an interactive board to see where they fall this year.  After the meter makes its determination the child's name appears on the appropriate list.  I think Santa is very forgiving because all three of my little animals made the Nice List. Seriously, Santa, even Jack?!?!

The second stop is inside the first room and is the Magic Mirror which turns you into an elf where you can choose an elf and an outfit and then send yourself a photo.  Also inside this room is where you can make your own Elf-ID which you can also send to yourself.

In the next room you can use an iPad for Elf-Ray vision and catch an elf along the ceiling and walls.  Santa's Sleigh Command Center is also available for you little elves to play and navigate.

The last stop before the grand finale is a professional photo opp with a backdrop and props.  Of course they save the best part for last and you get to climb into Santa's sleigh and chat with the main guy himself.   You know sometimes Santa is having a good day and other times a bad day but Santa was PHENOMENAL with our little ones.  He was beyond patient, kind, friendly and warm.  Our kids had the best experience not only telling Santa about their wishlist but reading about the elves and even the Christmas classic, Twas the Night Before Christmas.   Santa even helped Madi to read on her own.

Spend less time in line and purchase a FAST PASS which will allow you to pick a 30 minute window on a specific date.  You prepay for your picture package and skip the line when you arrive.  You can also opt-in for text reminders.  Also during your visit you may consider bringing a new toy for HGTV's Help Through the Holidays Giving Drive.  For more information and special event dates check HERE.

We absolutely love Santa HQ and give it two thumbs up.  It keeps us coming back year after year and would love to hear what you think about the experience!  Merry Christmas!

How to Create a Birthday Breakfast Tradition

Since Emily was very young I've thrown a small birthday breakfast to celebrate the day and it's become such a fun tradition.  It's very simple but makes the girls so happy and feel very special.  I almost always use our Re-Play tableware to add the pop of color to our kids table but sometimes I use paper goods.  In the past I've done a donut cake but this year I did a pink pancake tower with chocolate drizzle on top.