Grilled Strawberries & Brie
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This is one of those dishes where no one knows what to expect and then they give it a try and they are totally coming back for more. I made this recipe on my show, Let’s Eat! on Food Network and my co-hosts were totally surprised too. Maybe you’ve seen raspberry jam paired with brie but strawberries? They aren’t even the star of the show, really. I think the fresh thyme is really what pulls this dish together and grabs you. But who am I to tell you who the star is. Make it for yourself and then let me know what you think. I’d love it if you even posted your photo on instagram and tagged me @BrandiMilloy with the hashtag #BrandisBites

xo,

B

Grilled Strawberries & Brie

by Brandi Milloy

Ingredients

  • One 8.8-ounce wheel Brie

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil

  • 8 ounces strawberries, hulled and sliced in half lengthwise

  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme

  • Pinch fleur de sel

  • Pinch red pepper flakes

  • Crackers, for serving

    Directions

  1. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Brush the Brie with some of the oil. Grill until softened and grill marks appear, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Carefully transfer to a serving platter or board.

  2. Toss the strawberries in the brown sugar in a bowl until coated. Brush the grill with the remaining oil and add the strawberries cut-side down. Grill until the sugar is caramelized and the strawberries are tender, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

  3. Arrange the strawberries around and on top of the Brie. Garnish with the thyme and sprinkle with the fleur de sel and red pepper flakes. Serve warm with crackers.

Optional: Try a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a decadent touch.

Favorite Drugstore Beauty Staples
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I love a good beauty find and saving money is my favorite thing to do! These are a few of my beauty staples you can find at the drug store, pharmacy and your local Target/Wal-Mart that I LOVE just as much as my pricey beauty products. I got a ton of feedback from you guys after I posted my travel video and you saw how small my makeup bag is which inspired me to show you what I love to use. I’ll definitely share what’s inside my makeup bag but I wanted to start with a few of my go to staples that are great for anyone and very affordable.

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L’Oreal Lash Paradise Mascara

I LOVE this mascara. Some people say it’s kind of like Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara and I can see the similarities but I swear this one doesn’t get clumpy and dry as quick as Too Faced and the L’Oreal one is a third of the price! Hello. I love saving money-what about you? The brush on this mascara is really good-it grabs all of my lashes and the super thick formula makes my lashes dark, bold, thick and futtery. If you like the look of wispies, that’s kind of what this does to your lashes. Sometimes I just put on my powder and this mascara and I don’t look completely like I just rolled out of bed.

Thayers Witch Hazel Toner

This is the beauty product you probably don’t use but need to start using immediately. The last two times I got facials, both estheticians told me that if I do anything to my skin it’s USE TONER. A gentle non alcoholic toner removes dirt, oil, excess makeup your face wash may have missed, unclogs pores AND restores your skin’s PH balance. But it also does more than that. Toner refreshes and hydrates your skin. It’s the easiest step you can add to your nightly beauty regimen with big payoff and SO affordable! I like this one because it’s alcohol free so it doesn’t dry and strip the skin. It’s just undistilled witch hazel, aloe vera and rose water-easy!

Natural Bristle Dry Brush

Oooh I love dry brushing so much. It’s invigorating and the best way to start your shower or bath regimen. I try to dry brush at least 3 x week but if I remember, I’ll do it more often. It’s not for the faint of heart but once your body gets used to it, you’ll be addicted like me. I also love the way it hurts so good. Haha! It gets rid of dead skin cells (gross) and exfoliates your skin but I love the other benefits like the way it increases my circulation and helps with lymphatic drainage. This means it reduces bloating! If you don’t know about lymphatic drainage, please educate yourself because it is LIFE CHANGING. I do facial massage daily to help reduce swelling and anytime I get a massage I ask for lymphatic drainage. This topic probably needs it’s own post but maybe later.

So the way you dry brush is you do it on dry skin before you shower or bathe and start at your ankles brushing in upward movements towards your heart. It doesn’t feel good at first unless you’re like me and fall in love immediately. I also have a high pain tolerance but it’s not even that. The sensation is probably new but it’s like a wake up call to your skin which by the way is the largest organ on your body so do more for it!!! This will get your blood flowing in the best way! As you keep brushing you move up your legs, stomach and arms-all while doing small strokes toward your hard. When you get to your back you can go down your back from the top of your neck. I remember when I was little I read an article about Jennifer Aniston swearing by dry brushing and from then on I was hooked. I’ve probably been doing this since high school. It helps with skin tone and texture and supposedly it helps with cellulite which never hurt anybody!

Essie Cuticle Oil

This cuticle oil is pretty much always in my purse. It’s a great way to refresh any mani and keeps my nails and cuticles moisturized and healthy. It’s especially great in between trips to the salon when my gels have grown out or my nails are nude-they still look good. You brush it onto your nail bed along your cuticles and then rub in any access. Makes such a difference when people see your hands. I mean they are a dead giveaway for age and no one likes dry cracked nails and hands. Sometimes I even bring the cuticle oil down my fingers onto the tops of my hands just to give that extra something.

I hope this helped you discover some new beauty finds you weren’t familiar with and I’d love to know what your beauty staples are too! Tell me all about them below and then I’m always curious what else you want to see on the blog so let me know that too.

xo,

B

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Get Your Pendant Necklace I Designed with Edward Avedis Now!
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Friends! I designed a necklace and I'm so proud to share it with you. Made in 14kt white, yellow or rose gold and sterling silver in the upper or lowercase letter of your choice, this pendant necklace is something you'll have forever and if you're like me, you'll pass down to someone special one day. I’ve always been a minimalist jewelry person. If you pay attention, I pretty much wear the same earrings everyday (these rose gold studs Mr. A gave me on our wedding day), my wedding ring, my watch and a necklace. Before I designed the Milly Pendant, you’d always see me wearing my tiny cross necklace which is also by Edward Avedis. I like jewelry that is meaningful that I can wear everyday. Sure I own and wear costume jewelry and cheapy stuff but my staples are quality jewelry I really love.

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Designing this necklace was so much fun. The custom font is feminine and personal. The way the initial hangs on the necklace is so different because it just flows within the chain. I love how the lower case letters look but you can do upper if you prefer! Each piece is handmade here in Los Angeles, CA which was super important to me.

The best part is if you use code: BRANDI you'll get 20% off. I’m so grateful to be able to work with my dear friend EDWARD AVEDIS Jewelry on this piece and I'm excited to collaborate on more ideas I have. Feel free to share this with someone that needs a subtle hint on what you want in your stocking this year!

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Let's Celebrate National Cookie Day

Over the years I’ve made SO many cookies, especially while I was the host of POPSUGAR’s Eat The Trend and Get the Dish with Brandi Milloy. To celebrate National Cookie Day, I decided to pull together a round up of a few of my favorites. Hope you enjoy and if you make any of them, be sure to post on social and use the hashtag #BrandisBites



Tips for Traveling with a Toddler
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Five words. Keep calm and carry on! Seriously. Travel becomes so much easier and less stressful when you simplify all the stuff you don’t need and pack only what you will actually use. I hate checking bags. I have anxiety just thinking about all the extra time it takes to check them and then wait for them at baggage claim (if they don’t get lost-which is another thing I have anxiety about)! I’ve also done my fair share of traveling with Milly solo and the less crap, the better! I’ve never felt more like a badass than when I traveled with her by myself and didn’t need anyone to help me with my bags. It’s feels so good to do it all on your own! Watch below for my tips for traveling with a toddler and how to get away with just bringing a carry on!

Here’s what I carry on:

  • my carry on sized suitcase with spinner wheels (you can’t use a bag with regular wheels ever again!)

  • diaper bag back pack (again, you can’t travel with anything else! I mean you need your hands as free as possible.)

  • baby carrier (this is our favorite for so many reasons!)

  • And if you need a travel carseat and/or stroller or both (I know some folks borrow them from friends & family once they arrive at their destination), this is an investment but we are obsessed with it. Especially with the amount of travel we’ve done, this convertible carseat stroller combo is a must have!!! We have it in grey but there are so many beautiful colors and they are alway sold out!

A few tips but scroll down to watch the full video where I cover everything:

  • Plan outfits for your babe ahead of time and take photos of each ensemble. It might seem silly and stuff only fashionistas would do but it’s super helpful and makes getting ready each day easy peasy.

  • Pack toddler’s outfits in gallon size zip bags. It’s like the poor man’s version of vacuum seal bags but work just as well! It’s great for keeping worn or soiled laundry contained too!

  • Two shoe rule. This kind of applies to adults too. I usually only bring the shoes I wear and another pair. IF I absolutely need to bring one other option, I try to look through my closet one more time at any options that are versatile enough to work. If not, I figure it out.

  • Pack only the things you use on a daily basis (diapers, wipes, cream) with the exception of a small “Just in Case” bag. For us, it’s Milly’s toiletry bag where we keep a thermometer, toothbrush, medicine, essential oil rollers, Nose Frida, etc.

  • The diaper bag is really the most important thing you pack. You should have everything you need for at least 1 day of travel in there. You never know when you’ll face a delay, etc.

And for ideas on what to pack to entertain your toddler age 12-18 months, watch this video on how to assembly a “busy bag!”

I live for travel tips and hacks so if you have any more, spill! Leave me a comment with all the advice and then share this post with a mama friend. And if you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube Channel, you can do that here. I appreciate the support from my Mama Tribe! Thanks, xo Brandi

A few other travel related posts:

My Favorite Products for Traveling with a Baby

How to Survive a Trip with a Newborn

My latest vlog where we traveled to Seattle.

VLOG: Our Trip to Seattle

Earlier this month we were invited to stay at the Staybridge Suites in Seattle and had the best time! Watch my vlog to see what we did, what we ate and all the fun in between! Then be sure to let me know where you think we should travel to next! Also, if you aren’t subscribed to my YT Channel, please do! I’d so appreciate it and I’d love a thumbs up. Thank you friends!

Baked Brie & Blueberry Wreath

This post was made possible by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. Thank you for your support!

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This is one of my go to appetizers anytime of the year but especially around the holidays. Who doesn’t love gooey cheese and warm bread? Topped with blueberries bursting with flavor and seasoned with thyme, rosemary and a little red pepper flakes, it’s the perfect balance of fruit to cheese to bread.

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I’m telling you right now you should pick up double ingredients and make two of them. They go quick. And if you’re like me you probably have most of the ingredients on hand. I keep blueberries by the boxful around here and always have a can or two of refrigerated biscuit dough.

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I usually have a bundle of fresh herbs in the fridge (it goes a long way!) or I’ll sometimes forage them around my hood. Ha! This is actually my third attempt at an herb garden but technically it’s not my fault they all died because I was over watering them cause I didn’t know Mr. A was also watering them and then this one time my basil just fried in the sun. It was sad. I don’t know what happened but that’s neither here nor there. And……. I should stop right now because you’re probably not even reading this anymore which is totally fine. Make this right now. You won’t regret it! And if it changes your life like I know it will, send me a shoutout on the gram! I love when you remake my recipes. Means the world. Hope you enjoy! Oh yeah and one more thing. Scroll down for the recipe and pics of Milly helping me with the final touches! She’s the yummiest!

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Baked Brie & Blueberry Wreath

by Brandi Milloy

  • 1 (8-ounce) round Brie or Camembert cheese

  • 1 (16.3-ounce) tube of biscuit dough like Pillsbury Grands!

  • 3/4 cup frozen blueberries or 1 (6-ounce) basket of blueberries

  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

  • 1/4 teaspoon rosemary, minced

  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves

  • 1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt like Fleur de Sel

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and cover preferably a pizza stone (because it cooks evenly and provides a crispy bottom) or a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Remove top of cheese round by carefully slicing the top of the rind off. Place cheese round in center of baking sheet with cut side up. Open biscuits and cut into quarters. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place around cheese round until you have two rows of dough balls around the cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bread is cook through and golden brown. .

  3. Meanwhile, into a saucepan, add blueberries, red chili flakes, rosemary and thyme. Cook on medium low for 2-3 minutes or until blueberries start to darken and burst. Remove from heat and pour blueberry mixture on top of cheese. Garnish with fluer de sel and herbs as desired!

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Three Ingredient Protein Balls for Little Ones

First of all, the photo above has nothing to do with this recipe except it’s a pic of Milly holding our favorite Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake truffles from her first birthday. I haven’t had a chance to take pics of these protein balls so there you go! Hope I didn’t trick you.

If you tuned in to my IG LIVE yesterday with Dini Klein of Prep and Rally, you saw we made up a recipe based on our favorite no bake balls. These are super simple snacks we make for our babes (Dini’s daughters are 5 and 3, Milly just turned 16 months). All you need is dates, nuts and fruit (dried or freeze dried fruit). I like to keep these cold in the fridge and then take them out for a snack throughout the day. You can really have fun with what you put in them. Here’s my favorite combo but the sky is the limit. You can swap out the almond butter for peanut butter. I also love adding rolled outs. You can also use different nuts depending on your preference! The key is mixing it in the food processor until it starts to come together. The below is a guide more than a recipe because it just depends on how sticky your fruit is or how many dates you add. I’d love to know what you end up creating and if you make these, take a pic with your little one enjoying them and tag me on instagram @BrandiMilloy

Enjoy!

Protein Balls

By Brandi Milloy

  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted almonds

  • 3/4 cup madjool dates

  • 1/4 cup almond butter

  • 1/3 cup freeze dried strawberries

  • 1/3 cup freeze dried blueberries

Directions

  1. Into a food processor, add nuts, dates and almond butter and process. Add fruit and process some more until mixture comes together enough to form ball. If mixture is too “wet” add more fruit and nuts by the tablespoon. If mixture is too dry, add a tablespoon of almond butter or a few dates until desired consistency.

  2. Roll into balls and place in fridge to firm up and enjoy within 10 days!

Holiday Movie Watching Party Tips
Photography Credit: Home & Family

Photography Credit: Home & Family

Every time I work at Home & Family I have an absolute blast. Their team is truly “family” and everyone is so warm and welcoming. So it was even more special to work with Cost Plus World Market, partners I’ve worked with for years now and is a dream company to represent. The theme was a holiday moving watching party! Do you love the Countdown to Christmas on the Hallmark Channel as much as our family? They have the best movies and it always gets us in the holiday spirit.

Photography Credit: Home & Family

Photography Credit: Home & Family

For this set up I created a few different themes. The first is for families complete with a hot cocoa drinking station and all the yummy fixins like snowmen marshmallows. The other is for girls night in and is all about lux touches and feminine colors. When my friends come over I love spoiling them with charcuterie boards, cocktails and dessert. You can watch the full segment here and then let me know if you set up your own holiday movie watching party!

Photography Credit: Home & Family

Photography Credit: Home & Family

How He Asked: Our Love Story
Photography Credit: Kyle Hartman

Photography Credit: Kyle Hartman

Photography Credit: Kyle Hartman

Photography Credit: Kyle Hartman

Getting engaged to Mr. A was the most magical moment ever. Actually, our entire courtship was magical and a complete whirlwind.  Our first date was the day after we met. Our second date, four days later. Two weeks after that I met his family.  I spent Thanksgiving with them and remember thinking at the dinner table that I could absolutely marry this man and his family. That Christmas he came with me to AZ. Three months later we went on an epic trip to Asia visiting Thailand and the Philippines. Over the next several months we did a ton more travel to Big Bear, Vegas, Breckenridge, Sedona, NYC and I think there’s even more but I can’t remember. Then we decided to plan a trip to Tulum, Mexico to celebrate our almost one year anniversary. Little did I know that this trip would completely change our lives forever and I’d be getting proposed to! I get giddy just thinking about it. Luckily my hubs set up a camera before he asked me to marry him and we have the entire proposal on tape! We are also grateful to our dear friend, Jillian Ezra of Ezra Productions who invited us to talk about our proposal together with a his and hers perspective. Scroll down to watch the proposal and the interview of us sharing how it all went down!

Photography Credit: Kyle Hartman

Photography Credit: Kyle Hartman

Photography Credit: Kyle Hartman

Photography Credit: Kyle Hartman

Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast Cups
Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

These are one of my go to snacks for Milly. Obviously they are great for breakfast but she enjoys them anytime. It’s a great way to sneak in a ton of veggies and you can make a dozen at a time. I use whatever I have on hand and there’s something about food shaped like a cupcake that makes toddlers love them! It’s the perfect size for their little hands.

Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

These are also great for when you’re hosting a ton of people or when family is in town staying over. They’re great brunch foods! To make them even more decadent, sometimes I’ll add a little pie crust to the bottom so it’s almost like mini quiches. I love quiche. People don’t give quiche enough love. Scroll down for the recipe and then let me know what other variations you come up with. If you post the photo on instagram, be sure to use the hashtag #BrandisBites.

Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast Cuppies

By Brandi Milloy

Ingredients:

  • 12 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1 heaping cup fresh spinach, chopped

  • 1 cup veggies or choice, chopped (like broccoli or mushroom)

  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

  • 1 1/2 cups ham, sliced and chopped

  • 1 cup swiss cheese, shredded

  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

  • 2 teaspoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped (optional)


    Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and spray muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, veggies, salt and pepper and nutmeg. Fill muffin tins equally with ham and cheese and then carefully cover each with the egg mixture, about ¾ of the way full.

  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until eggs are set cups are golden. Let cool for 5 minutes before enjoying! 

Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com




Peanut Butter & Jelly Cups

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cups

This post was made possible by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. Thank you for your support!

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PB & J Cups

by Brandi Milloy

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. fresh blueberries

  • 1 tbsp. water

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 12 oz. semi sweet chocolate, melted

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

  • fluer de sel, optional

Directions

  1. Make jam by placing blueberries, sugar and water in pot on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for a minute and mash slightly. Turn off heat to cool. Pour jam into clean jar and keep in refrigerator up to a month.

  2. Using a pastry brush, spread chocolate up sides of mini muffin liners and place in muffin tin. Freeze to set, about 5 minutes.

  3. Spread 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter into bottom of chocolate shell. Top each with 1/2 tablespoon of jam. Place back in freezer to harden, about 5 minutes.

  4. Top each cup with melted chocolate and garnish with a sprinkle of sea salt. Place back in freezer one final time to set completely. Keep in refrigerator for ultimate freshness and enjoy within 10 days!

7 Things You Should Do Everyday for a Healthy Marriage
Photography Credit:  Brandon Kidd Photography

Photography Credit: Brandon Kidd Photography

I don’t know about you but I’m trying to have a healthy marriage, one that lasts, endures and thrives! I wanna feel like a newlywed when I’m 100. Early on into our courtship Mr. A and I made the commitment to make our relationship top priority and after attending our first marriage retreat a few years ago, we decided we would commit to a couple’s retreat once a year.

Last weekend we attended our second marriage retreat (we’ve been married two years so we are two for two!) and I left there feeling even more excited about the life we are creating together. I plan on writing a few posts about our experience and maybe I’ll even get Mr. A to guest host but here are the 7 things you should do everyday for a healthy marriage.

The Rule of 3

This might seem pretty straight forward but “touch” is a huge part of the way we connect! In this day and age, so many of us are busier than we’ve ever been and if you are a parent on top of that, time together can be very limited. When we show affection to each other we are acknowledging one another and giving the other attention (which can also be a sign of respect), showing them they are important and cherished and most importantly, affirming your bond to one another.

  • Kiss each other three times for 3 seconds everyday

  • Hug each other for 3 minutes everyday

  • Speak to each other (in a meaningful, undistracted conversation) for 30 minutes at least once a day -holding hands if possible

Unplug

Half of an adult’s day is spent consuming media. Reread that. Half. The average time adults spend on media (listening, watching, interacting) is 18+ hours a day. Young adults ages 18-34 spend 43% of their time consuming media on digital platforms. (Source: Nielsen) These statistics are so startling it makes me want to make major changes in my life. A few of these small steps can have a significant impact:

  • Set media boundaries. For example, no phones at the dinner table is a great one!

  • Place a limit on how many hours of television/phone/tablet etc. you use

  • Turn off all media 30 minutes before bed. This includes phones! This is part of the reason why we don’t like televisions in bedrooms. Bedrooms are for retreating, sleeping, connecting or mattress mambo. :)

Envision Your Marriage

Take time each day to envision what you want your marriage to look like. One of the exercises we did before we got married was write a family prayer. I definitely encourage you to do this with your spouse and family. You can call it a guide, blessing or mission statement/manifesto for your home but it was a great way for us to write down exactly how we want to live and what we hope to accomplish together as a family. Everyday we pray together. We pray for our family, our marriage and anything that is on our mind in our lives. Thoughts become things, things become habits. The more you envision what you want, the more likely you are to take the steps you need to make your vision become a reality.

Walk With Your Spouse

Ever since buying our home and becoming parents we’ve done a lot of walking. Maybe it’s cause when you have a newborn and want to get out of the house, a stroller walk seems like the easiest way to get fresh air. It could also be cause we are absolutely obsessed with our hood and love how close we are to the beach and all of our town’s stores and restaurants (we are so grateful). When we walk together we talk together. Go on a walk everyday with your spouse. Make it a thing. I’m telling you it will change your life. A walk is great for your heart (literally and figuratively). It gets your body moving, blood flowing and energy going. It allows you to decompress, connect with nature, relieve stress from the day and time to talk. And if you don’t want to talk, you are still walking side by side, breathing in fresh air, observing the world around you. We used to say that the sunshine was Milly’s babysitter cause no matter how upset she was we could take her outside and she would immediately stop fussing and start smiling. Connecting with the Earth allows us to connect with each other.

Do Something Together

This can be as simple as sharing a hobby or making dinner together. Even laying in bed and making a bucket list together, planning your next trip or reading the same book together (Chris and I do this sometimes) is doing something together! I know sometimes it can be easier for us to watch our own shows or do our own thing but incorporating each other in those hobbies or tasks or at least watching the show together is always better. You make memories and hopefully have a lot of fun. #BetterTogether

Let Go of the Little Things

The same things you fight about now will be the same things you fight about 20 years from now if you don’t let go of the little things. And, the little annoyances can lead to bigger issues if you don’t find a way to overcome them. Whether it’s figuring out who’s in charge of doing certain chores around the house but also understanding that all tasks are both of your responsibilities or accepting that they will always forget to hang up their wet towel and you’ve accepted you will always pick up the wet towel for them, you’ve gotta let go of the little things.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

No marriage is perfect. Even the healthiest marriages have challenges but what sets the ones that work and the ones that don’t apart- is exactly that. Work. Both people have to be on the same page about dealing with challenges and obstacles. This means resolving conflict together. And the quicker the conflict is resolved the better. Daily check ins are so crucial to making sure each person’s needs are being met. This is something you can do each evening or some time in the morning.

I’d love to know if you have any tips for living a healthy marriage or please share any activities, resources, etc you use in your relationship below. And keep coming back to the site for more posts as I continue to share more of what we learned at our retreat. Thank you!

Our Favorite Books for a One Year Old
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We’ve been reading books to Milly since she was in my belly. In addition to this being great for bonding (especially for Daddy and baby), it can also help stimulate baby’s senses and brain development. Once she was born we continued reading to her throughout the day and before bed. Over time we’ve seen huge growth in her language skills, her connection to pictures, recognizing things and imitating sounds. Her thirst for knowledge and learning is amazing! I will spend hours on the floor with her reading just to watch the excitement and joy she gets from each story. We have our favorite classics of course like Dr. Seuss’s ABC and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle but as Milly has gotten older she has her own favorites. And while we love going to the library each week to check out books and have different ones in rotation (I especially love checking out holiday or theme books out instead of buying them), these are the books I’m so glad we own and will cherish for years to come. The added bonus for a one year old is these are all hard back books which is key when your LO just wants to put every page in their mouth.

Little Blue Truck

We love the theme of this story which focuses on helping and togetherness all while learning the sounds of our favorite animals on the farm and of course, the little blue truck’s signature beep!

We’re Going On a Bear Hunt

I just adore this story so much. I could listen to Mr. A read it to Milly all night long. The adventure of going on a bear hunt and all the challenges they overcome along the way are great lessons for teaching courage and bravery!

The Pout-Pout Fish

This was the first book Milly ever kissed! Heehee. This story teaches you that it’s all about how you look at things and that sometimes all it takes is one person to make a big difference. It’s a very “cup half full” story and has wonderful repetition and rhyming.

Giraffes Can’t Dance

Similar to the theme of the Pout-Pout Fish, I love that this story teaches the beauty of differences and the unique qualities we each have. Such a powerful lesson to teach all of our children early on!

Little Blessings for Little Children

What we love about this book is that you discover something new every time you read it. The images are beautiful and the blessings featured are simple and pure. It’s a great book to reflect on all of the small things in our life that bring us joy and encourages a thankful heart.

Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You

This is one of those books that will make Mamas cry. It’s an opportunity to tell your children how loved they are and a daily read for our family. We adore several of her books.

Daddy and Me

All of Karen Katz’ books are great! She does lift-the-flap books really well. Milly loves the surprise element and getting to participate in the story. These can get torn by eager hands so be careful when leaving them out without grown up supervision.

`Baby Animals

These Indestructibles books are awesome! They can be chewed and pulled and won’t rip or tear. I like bringing these on trips or keeping in the diaper bag. Milly is such an animal lover and this book features a great variety of them!

Sophie la girafe: Colors

This flap book is super simple with a combination of colors, animals and everyday objects. Milly loves to lift the flaps to reveal the story and I really like that the author included unique names like Josephine, Margot and Gabin.

If You’re Happy and You Know It

This is a multi-cultural version of the traditional song which means it’s also an interactive music activity for us. Milly loves reading this book, clapping her hands and stomping her feet, etc. Featuring 36 different cultures it’s diverse, worldly and is truly a wonderful book.

Ring POPsicles
Photography Credit: Karen DeGrazio

Photography Credit: Karen DeGrazio

So Milly hates milk and I mean who can blame her when Mama’s milk is so good (breastfeeding joke-haha!) I’ve never been a fan of cows milk but give me all the cheese and ice cream. Love diary but not a cow’s milk drinker. We are basic b’s around here and love our organic almond milk, pea milk and always cereal milk. Ha! But when it comes to Milly’s health and how crucial it is for her to get essential vitamins and minerals (Vitamin D and Calcium) plus dietary fats for brain development (80% of your child’s brain development happens before they are 2 years old-whoa!), proteins plus all the other essential nutrients in whole milk- I had to get creative. Easy. Whole milk yogurt popsicles. This isn’t a new idea. My sister has been making these for my nephews for years and the last time we were in AZ visiting them they made Milly her own and she was all over them (her cousins and the popsicles).

Photography Credit: Karen DeGrazio

Photography Credit: Karen DeGrazio

What I like about having these on hand is they act as a “special treat/dessert” even though they aren’t really a dessert at all. I mean… the way I make them they are pretty straight forward. I like to buy a large tub of organic pasture raised plain whole milk yogurt and flavor it myself but you can also buy the flavored ones. I will add fresh or frozen fruit purees, fresh or frozen fruit and some spices if I’m feeling naughty.

Photography Credit: Karen DeGrazio

Photography Credit: Karen DeGrazio

These are one part organic pumpkn puree, two parts whole milk yogurt and a few sprinkles of cinnamon and nutmeg. Very PSL minus the L and 100% basic b again. Milly loves them! They aren’t sweet at all but super flavorful. A quick hack for making them even easier is just alternate squeezing a pouch of yogurt with your favorite fruit pouch and freeze! No excuses for not making your babes something semi-homemade!

Photography Credit: Karen DeGrazio

Photography Credit: Karen DeGrazio

I love these popsicles so much. Some days they are breakfast pops, other days an afternoon snack, her appetizer for dinner. I just love she’s getting another source of calcium in addition to other calcium rich foods she eats like greens, tempeh, almond butter, broccoli, pinto beans. Plus how freaking cute are these ring pop molds. Don’t think I wasn’t going to gush about how stinkin adorable these are!!!

Photography Credit: Karen DeGrazio

Photography Credit: Karen DeGrazio

Super affordable and didn’t need all 18 so we gave a set to our friends. The molds I got for my sis when her boys were small are these and I think I might like them better but you get half the amount of pops so just depends on what you need.

Photography Credit: Karen DeGrazio

Photography Credit: Karen DeGrazio

I love that they’re the perfect size for little hands and so soothing for swollen gums and teething mouths! Milly has fun trying to get to the frozen blueberries hidden inside so in some ways it’s a bit of an activity her.

Photography Credit: Karen DeGrazio

Photography Credit: Karen DeGrazio

I’d love to know what combinations you come up with. Let me know in the comments below and post your ring pop pics on IG and tag me @BrandiMilloy #BrandisBites.






DIY Toddler Learning Tower Stool
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Ever since Milly was an infant she’s been hanging out in the kitchen with us. When she was an itty bitty babe I’d wear her in my wrap or carrier and she’d watch me put dishes away or prepare meals. Many times we would keep her in the dock-a-tot on our island in the kitchen and she’d watch us cook and eat. Once she was sitting up, she’d sit in her chair and watch me from the counter. I’ve always encouraged participation in the kitchen. When she was old enough to grasp things I’d let her stir a dish or press the button on the mixer. I love how interested she is in learning! If there’s anything I’ve taken away from parenting it’s to embrace the messy and give your child the liberty and independence to learn. Every day there is something new to discover! So you would imagine as soon as she was big enough to cruise and then stand, she was always tugging at me trying to see what I was doing and get in on the action. One could think your child is whining or getting fussy because they want a toy or want you to stop what you’re doing but with Milly, as soon as I picked her up and showed her what I was doing she was immediately engaged and excited. Once this clicks, it’s a lifesaver for continuing your day and getting all that household business done. Even just explaining to Milly what I’m doing or why I’m doing it makes her feel like she’s involved. They just want to help and be a part of whatever you’re doing! I couldn’t wait to have Mr. A help me make this learning tower stool IKEA hack I found on Happy Grey Lucky (the link is below!) And by help, I mean I picked up the $19 stool from IKEA. :) He did everything else.

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What I love about this learning tower stool is the design. It’s sleek, modern and I like the raw pine look. We haven’t put the finishing touches on (we plan on covering the screws with wood filler, staining it slightly and then sealing it with poly to make clean up super easy) but I love the way it turned out!

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There are a lot of similar stools available but they are bulky and large and in our amazing bungalow, space is limited. Plus, they cost anywhere from $200-$250 and this entire hack cost us less than $50! This is something Milly will use for at least 3-4 years and hopefully one day her little brother or sister will enjoy it too. Be sure to follow me on instagram to see the many ways we use it for learning and hands on activities!

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For the full tutorial go to Happy Grey Lucky!

Pumpkin Spice Blueberry Donuts

Blueberries are an absolute staple in our home so I’m thrilled to partner with the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council on some fun and easy recipes like these pumpkin spice blueberry donuts. Some might argue these aren’t donuts because they aren’t fried but I promise you they are every bit delicious. These cake donuts are fluffy and tender with juicy blueberries, a creamy frosting and if you like pumpkin spice-they have all those warm comforting flavors that instantly get you in the fall mood.

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And when I say this recipe is easy, I mean SO simple! All you need is pumpkin bread/muffin mix, oil, eggs, water and blueberries!

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You basically make the batter, fold in the blueberries and then pour it into your donut pan and bake. That’s it. This is the donut pan I use.

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If you want to add a simple glaze on top, you need a little bit of powdered sugar, water or milk (I used almond milk cause that’s what we had on hand) and some chopped blueberries. Then just frost them after they’ve cooled.

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Even my 15 month old daughter, Milly was able to join in on the fun! If you’re like me and your kiddos won’t let you do anything without them, invite them to help you! I love using cooking and baking as a teaching tool. I had Milly help me add the blueberries to the batter. It may have took her a while and she ate about half of the blueberries but she did it and was so proud of herself!

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For a finishing touch, I added a few fresh blueberries on top of each donut while the frosting was still wet and I had Milly help with this too.

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I mean, can you even with those cute chubby baby hands!?

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I just love this recipe and I hope you do too. The flavors of the pumpkin spice and blueberries work so well together and frankly, I think it’s a beautiful treat to show off at any of those holiday parties you have coming up!

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Photography Credit: @Ographr

A Mermaid Inspired Dessert Table
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I adore a good dessert table. It's perfect for someone like me that can never just commit to one dessert. Anyone else want the cookie AND the ice cream? I remember when I was a little kid and my parents would let us get one treat-I'd always try to find a way to get two! Why have just ice cream when you can get an ice cream sandwich with two chewy cookies hugging that ice cream. Right?! A dessert table at a party is always a good thing...and in some ways it's easier! Making a batch of a few things brings me so much more joy than stressing about making one gigantic perfect cake. And something I've learned in my years of hosting parties and my experience owning a dessert catering company (raise your hand if you knew this-and if you didn't-let me know in the comments below and if you want me to blog about that amazing adventure) is not everyone likes cake (gasp!). So I knew a dessert table was the way to go when it came to our daughter, Milly's first birthday shellebration! 

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How cute is this babe holding her birthday cake truffle? For the record Mama took it out of her hand before she could sneak a bite (sorry baby girl!).  If you read Milly's first birthday party post, then you already know I didn't end up making her a homemade smash cake like I wanted to. We actually didn't let her do a smash cake at all and guess what? It was fine! She already got her first taste of buttercream when we gave her a cupcake during her one year photos and that was enough for both Mr. A and I to agree that we don't need to let our babe go ham on some cake. 

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We did however make sure we had cake for our guests! I ordered our favorite birthday cake and truffles from Momofuku Milkbar and made my favorite funfetti cupcakes topped with chocolate seashells and mermaid tails.

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These are SO easy to make and you can find the molds for each online. Scroll down for the full recipe/directions on how to make these. 

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One of the easiest treats to make ahead of time for a party are marshmallow treats! You can't tell, but these are made with brown butter giving them a salty caramel flavor.  It's my absolute favorite way to elevate any dessert.  Then while they were still warm, I sprinkled my favorite sprinkles from Sweetapolita on top. These were gone in like .2 seconds!

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And if that's too much work and you want to keep things simple, host a candy bar! Even if it's just to see adults act like giddy little kids-have a candy bar at your party.  I'm telling you it's amazing! We love Sugarfina because they have all the best candy.

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I'm partial to gummies so we chose 5 of our favorites (baby whales, peach bellini, baby butterflies, apple frogs and ice cream cones). Nothing brings me more joy than to watch the look on people’s faces as they load up their candy bag! I also love how this pretty much acts as a party favor meaning one less thing I need to do which by the way-I don’t like party favors and think they’re a total waste of money. :)

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The last dessert we made were these cookie dough gems. Mr. A and I actually tag teamed making these because they’re that easy to do! They’re filled with homemade egg less cookie dough using this recipe (or you can also just buy Edoughble). All I did was tint white chocolate using gel food coloring (you can also use candy melts) and then filled each mold with the melted chocolate. Flip it over to allow the excess to drip and then place in freezer for about 5 minutes to set. Then you fill each chocolate coated mold with cookie dough and top with more melted chocolate to seal. Place back in the freezer for at least 15 minutes to harden. To remove gems from the mold, just tap on a kitchen towel covered counter. You can make these up to a week in advance if kept in a cool, dark place. You can also keep them in the refrigerator but they can sometimes sweat. For a finishing touch, I dusted mine with luster dust.

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I melted several different colors of white chocolate and then swirled them with a knife to create the marble effect before coating each mold!

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I actually used the same chocolate for the gems as I did with the mermaid tails and shells. Keep it simple!

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 I just adore how our daughter's party turned out. Let me know what you think! And if you recreate any of these recipes or ideas, tag me on instagram @BrandiMilloy. For the full party blog post including the simple DIY balloon arch Mr. A and I made, be sure to check out Milly’s First Birthday Shellebration. And scroll down for a quick recipe for these show stopping mermaid tails!

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CHOCOLATE MERMAID TAILS RECIPE

by Brandi Milloy

Ingredients:

Directions

  1. Slowly melt candy melts using a double boiler method or in the microwave for 30 seconds and then 10 seconds at a time. Once they are melted, use a spoon to carefully fill the mold, tapping it on a hard surface to get rid of any air bubbles. I mixed a few different colors to achieve the pastel watercolor look.

  2. Place mold in the freezer to harden and set for about 10 minutes. You can make these up to a week in advance and they will still taste and look fresh as long as you keep them in a dry cool place.