Salmon Avocado Toast
Ripe tomatoes, fresh salmon, creamy avocado.....

Ripe tomatoes, fresh salmon, creamy avocado.....

Salty capers and crunchy bread....

Salty capers and crunchy bread....

This is one of my absolute favorite snacks that you can enjoy anytime of the day. This recipe was inspired by me always ordering something similar at my favorite coffee shop but it became a $12 habit when I knew I could make it at home for a fraction of the cost. I pretty much keep all of these ingredients on hand so it's super quick to make whether for breakfast, lunch or linner!  Skip the salmon and you still have a ultra loaded avocado toast!

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Salmon Avocado Toast Recipe

By Brandi Milloy

  • Butter
  • 1 slice crusty bread
  • 1 tbsp. cream cheese (jalapeño cream cheese for extra spice)
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • Everything But the Bagel Seasoning (if you can't find this, swap with garlic salt)
  • 3 pieces of smoked salmon
  • 3 ripe cherry or mini heirloom tomatoes
  • A few sprigs of fresh dill
  • 1 tsp. capers

Directions

  1. Heat a skillet on medium high heat. Butter your bread on one side and place it butter side down on the skillet to get it nice and toasty. Remove from heat and set aside.  
  2. Spread the cream cheese on the bread. Next, place sliced avocado on top. Sprinkle with Everything But the Bagel Seasoning. Top with sliced smoked salmon. Garnish with sliced tomatoes and dill. Sprinkle capers on top and enjoy!
My 2018 Food Trend Predictions
Hello Kitty Cafe

Hello Kitty Cafe

Part of being a food reporter and trend expert is studying consumer behavior, anticipating direction and being tuned in to what people are talking about, buying, photographing and exploring.  It's strategically figuring out and studying what people will become obsessed with before we all realize it and basically forecasting what is yet to come.  Actually-that's all BS; I'm just messing with you. These are simply my predictions. They are my own opinions based on what I think people will be eating, making and ordering in 2018. From turmeric lattes to instagrammable eats, I had the chance to be on KTLA and share my 2018 food trend predictions. Take a look at the foods I think will be dominating our dinner plates this year! You can watch my segment here

My Favorite Dessert Gifts to Send

I love sending desserts as gifts-especially to people who are really tough to shop for and seem to have everything! Many of these were on our dessert table at our wedding and friends still talk about how much they loved every single thing.  I get asked all the time what my favorite treats are around the country so I finally compiled my list of sweets that are so much fun to send and receive. Please note, these are in absolutely no specific order. I can't choose favorites because they are all so good! Also, I love that so many are owned by female entrepreneurs. Girl power!

BLISS & BAKER San Diego, CA

I crave these on a daily basis. The sticky sweet treats are cereal-ously delicious. My favorite flavor is their Salty Caramel Crispie but other favorites are Peanut Butter and Sugar Cookie. Started by a mother daughter team, Laura and Natalie, I just love them!

MOMOFUKU MILK BAR New York City, NY

I will never forget the first time I had Milk Bar. I had a slice of their 7 layer birthday cake. It's the yummiest, layered cake filled with cake crumbs that are almost like mini birthday cake truffles, sprinkles and vanilla frosting.  Each layer of the cake is brushed with a vanilla milk "soak" that makes it super moist and delicious. Chef Christina Tosi (who I have a major girl crush on btw) is the mastermind behind reinventing all of our childhood favorites. Other desserts I love from her: b'day truffles, confetti cookie, the list goes on.

EDOOUGHBLE Los Angeles, CA

All-natural cookie dough that's safe to eat! This edible cookie dough is a dream. Enjoy it on ice cream, cookies or just simply on a spoon. One of my favorite flavors is Cookies N' Dream. It's dark chocolate with vanilla frosting and chocolate sandwich cookies. Sometimes I even mix this with Peanut Butta Cup.  This is what you bring to girl's night!

MILK JAR COOKIES Los Angeles, CA

My husband, Mr. Amazing first introduced me to these cookies. He is practically a cookie connoisseur. He's had every cookie out there.  And let me tell you. There is no other cookie out there like this.  Milk Jar Cookies are soft, chewy and so large you can usually 

GARRETT'S POPCORN Chicago, IL

If you like sweet and salty, this popcorn is for you. It's half salty cheddar cheese and half buttery sweet caramel.  I survived on this popcorn when I lived in Chicago. Even if you don't like popcorn, you'll like this. It's like no other popcorn I've ever had.  It's light, fluffy, craveable and a great gift for anyone in your life. 

SUGARFINA Los Angeles, CA

This is the candy shop of your dreams. Sugarfina features delicious gourmet candy from around the world. Everything they have is extremely unique. Some of my favorites are their Atomic Sours imported from France, Champagne Gummy Bears from Germany and their Fruity Loops from Greece.  Their store looks like a jewelry boutique with each candy housed in a clear bento box.  You can create your own box with any of their 120 candies. 

COMPARTES CHOCOLATES Los Angeles, CA

Compartes turns chocolate into works of art. Their handcrafted premium chocolate bars are my favorite. From the beautiful packaging to mouth watering flavors, it's a one of a kind edible gift.  You're not going to find these flavor combinations anywhere else! From White Chocolate Cereal to Salted Pistachio, Dark Chocolate Raspberry Rose and Donuts and Coffee, there is something for everyone!

A Candid Conversation on Motherhood, My Breastfeeding Journey and More
Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Milly and I had the privilege of hosting Munchkin's first FB LIVE this year with my friend Molly and her son, Callan where we talked all about motherhood, the ups and downs of breastfeeding, tips and tricks to getting your milk supply up, bottle feeding and so much more.  I hope to continue hosting more FB LIVEs and creating more parenting content on my YouTube Channel so if you haven't subscribed, be sure to subscribe now. I truly don't know where I would be without the community of Moms I've met in person and via social media. It's my goal to create a place for all Moms to share their stories and journey of motherhood so we can learn from and lean on each other. You can watch our first of many more discussions here. Thank you to everyone who has continued to support me through your viewership, engagement and more. Let me know what else you'd like to see on my site as I continue to create more content on food, travel, parenting and more. 

Old Fashioned Homemade Raspberry Jam
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My mother in law makes the most delicious raspberry jam.  She gave us a jar once and we finished it off in less than a week.  I started craving it like crazy. Every time I saw her I would ask if she made some more (which probably got annoying-sorry). It's just that Mr. A and I make breakfast every morning and typically it involves some form of jam so it's top of mind every day.  And while I love buying fresh jam from the farmer's market, it can get pricey when it really is the simplest thing to make.  Whether it's smeared on sourdough bread under melty brie, bacon and eggs (seriously-try it!!!) or simply slathered on a buttered biscuit-we are jam people, folks. This recipe is inspired by my mother in law's. It takes about 15 minutes to make and you only need two ingredients. If you're like me, I'd make a couple batches as back up cause it's so yummy you'll end up adding it to just about everything you eat. 

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Old Fashioned Raspberry Jam

by Brandi Milloy

Ingredients

  • 2 heaping cups fresh organic raspberries, rinsed
  • 1.5 cups organic sugar

Directions

  1. Place berries in stainless steel pot and bring to a full boil, mashing the berries with a wooden spoon. Boil for 1 minute on high heat, stirring constantly.  Add sugar and continue to boil for 3-5 minutes or until thickened.  Store in mason jar in refrigerator and enjoy!

 

Scoliosis: My Back Story
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I've told this story hundreds of times and even now when I start to share my scoliosis journey it takes me back to 13 years old and being told by doctors I would need to get fitted for a back brace (that I would ultimately wear 23 hours of the day for almost 4 years) only to have 3 serious back surgeries thereafter.  My experience with scoliosis was challenging. There was a lot of bullying and moments of loneliness, feeling like I never belonged. The physical challenges were tough recovering from surgery after surgery. But ultimately all of these experiences surrounding my scoliosis shaped me into the person I am today. 

Photography Credit: Kyle Hartman

Photography Credit: Kyle Hartman

I had the opportunity to share my story with TODAY.com about embracing my scoliosis and my scar. You can read my interview here.  I was also a guest on POPSUGAR's Pretty Unfiltered where I share some of the difficult times I had when I was younger but also how I overcame those obstacles to be the strong woman I am now. 

Christmas Pancakes with Milly on the TODAY Show
Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton 

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton 

Being able to introduce our daughter, Milly to the TODAY Show family and the rest of the world during our segment on the TODAY show is a memory I will cherish forever.  It's funny because when I was invited to be on the show I knew I needed to find someone to help with Milly. Our good friend, Maureen aka GMo traveled from Philly to NYC to help us out only for Aunt Hoda to hold Milly while I worked! Baby girl was so excited to be on set and comfy cozy in Hoda's arms.  Check out the entire segment and the recipes here and then scroll down for more photos.

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

Photography Credit: TODAY Show | Nathan Congleton

What to Buy the Person Who Has Everything
Photography Credit: Cat Clendenning

Photography Credit: Cat Clendenning

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Cheesecake Factory. The opinions and text are mine.

I love this time of year-the decorations, the smell of fresh Christmas trees and tons of family time but one of my least favorite things about the holiday season is shopping. Don’t get me wrong-I love giving gifts especially when I know someone wants something and I remembered exactly what they want and when they open their gift the excited look on their face fills my heart with so much joy.  But then there are those people that you procrastinate to shop for because it’s like they have everything. Do you have friends or family like that? And you don’t want to just get them something random, right? One of my absolute favorite gifts to give are gift cards to their favorite restaurant.

Photography Credit: Cat Clendenning

Photography Credit: Cat Clendenning

One of my family’s favorite place to eat is The Cheesecake Factory. They make everything from scratch -even their dressings.  And right now they are doing a sweet promo. For Every $25 dollars in gift cards you buy at The Cheesecake Factory, you’ll receive a “Slice of Joy” card redeemable for a complimentary slice of their legendary cheesecake from January 1st through March 31st, 2018. The ‘Slice of Joy’ gift card offer is available exclusively at The Cheesecake Factory restaurants or online at TheCheesecakeFactory.com

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The Slice of Joy card is redeemable for any slice of their cheesecake. Personally, depending on my mood my go to is Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake but I also love their Peppermint Bark Cheesecake, especially because it's only available around the holidays.

Photography Credit: The Cheesecake Factory

Photography Credit: The Cheesecake Factory

It's a white chocolate cheesecake swirled with chunks of chocolate peppermint bark, topped with white chocolate mousse and finished with chopped peppermint.  It's just the right amount of peppermint and chocolate and it's everything you love about the holidays on a plate.  Plus for every slice they sell through the end of the year, The Cheesecake Factory will donate 25 cents to the local Feeding America food bank.  So when you order the Peppermint Bark Cheesecake it's a purchase with a purpose.  Now if you love chocolate, another go to of mine is the Hershey’s Chocolate Bar Cheesecake. It's delicious!  It's Hershey's cheesecake between moist chocolate cake with creamy chocolate frosting and chocolate chips.  

Photography Credit: Cat Clendenning

Photography Credit: Cat Clendenning

Oh my goodness I’m salivating just thinking about this. 

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And let’s be honest-who doesn’t want a gift card to The Cheesecake Factory? There’s something for everyone.  I could eat their Buffalo Blasts every day. Oh and when I gave up meat for Lent one year I must have went there every other week for their Asian Lettuce Wrap Tacos (no chicken cause obviously no meat for Lent). That sauce is to die for.  A gift card to The Cheesecake Factory is a great gift for everyone on your list and it’s ok if you’re doing it just to get the free slice of cheesecake. I won’t tell.

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Three Amazing Holiday Tablescapes
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I love, love, love decorating the house this time of year but the hardest part is always figuring out what theme I want to go with. From traditional to elegant and my latest favorite-whimsy and playful, you can create the most beautiful tables for the holiday. You'll notice I love mixing colors and textures and repurposing other decor I already have.  I just can't deny my love for terrariums!!! Check out my post on the World Market blog for all my decorating tips and then watch my video below featuring three amazing tablescapes!

Five Easy Baking Tips for the Holidays
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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Crisco®. The opinions and text are mine.

I love the holiday season! From the smell of the Christmas tree to wrapping presents while singing Christmas carols and spending time with family-it is such a joyous time of year! But for my family, it’s also the busiest time. We love having people over and hosting parties. From being a new mom and keeping up with work, I’m always looking for ways to save time, especially when it comes to entertaining.  One of my time saving tips is to always keep Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening on hand. You don’t have to let the shortening get to room temperature before using it and since it has a higher melting point than butter, you don’t have to “chill” the dough before baking!  I love to make a large batch of sugar cookie dough the morning before I plan to have people over. Shortly before they arrive I start to bake batches of cookies one at a time.  There’s nothing better than the smell of cookies baking in the oven.  It takes very little effort and instantly makes folks feel welcome. Here are some baking tips for making the dough your own. Plus, scroll down for my Sugar Cookie Birthday Cake Sandwich Cookie recipe.

TIP #1 Get thicker, airy and light-texture sugar cookies by replacing butter with Crisco® All-Vegetable shortening.

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TIP #2 Make a sugar cookie cake/pizza by pressing sugar cookie dough into a cake or pizza pan and baking.

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TIP #3 Before baking, press wooden sticks into center of sugar cookie dough to make cookie pops. Great for holiday party favors or even for milk dunking!

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TIP #4 For quick and easy decorating, add Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening when melting chocolate. This creates a smoother consistency perfect for dipping sugar cookies, fruit and pretzels (add ½ teaspoon Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening per 1oz of chocolate).

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TIP #5 Create your own flavor combinations by adding dried fruits, nuts and/or candies to your favorite sugar cookie dough recipe.

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Sugar Cookie Birthday Cake Sandwich Cookies

By Brandi Milloy

Yields 2-3 dozen

Ingredients

3 cups Pillsbury™ BEST™ All Purpose Flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup rainbow sprinkles

1 batch Crisco® Creamy Homestyle Vanilla Frosting

Directions

STEP ONE

HEAT oven to 350°F. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl until blended.

STEP TWO

BEAT shortening and sugar in large bowl with mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

STEP THREE

BLEND in egg, milk and vanilla. Gradually blend in flour mixture. Fold in ½ cup sprinkles.

STEP FOUR 

DIVIDE dough in half. Roll out each half on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with 2 ½ inch round fluted edge cookie cutter. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet.

STEP FIVE 

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until bottom edges are very light brown. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

STEP SIX 

To assemble sandwich cookie: Frost the bottom of one cookie and press another cookie on top.  Garnish edge of cookies with sprinkles. 

 

My Favorite Products for Traveling With a Baby
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My husband and I love to travel so we decided early on we weren’t going to stop going on trips just because we added a little member to our family! Thank goodness Milly is a natural born adventurer who loves to be on the go. She’s four months old and already she’s been on a handful of flights, across country twice and more weekend getaways than I can count. I’ve learned plenty of tips and tricks along the way and you can read about those here.

When I began the overwhelming task of packing for Milly, it was daunting.  I already joke that babies are little hoarders so how do you choose what to bring when they need so much stuff? I decided to prioritize as many products that do double duty as possible. I thought about what things would make her comfortable and being away from home easier and finally, what things I use the most at home. Here are my 14 favorite products for traveling with a baby. Consider this your packing checklist!

Fold’n Go™ Travel Bassinet

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While many hotels provide a crib you can borrow during your stay, I prefer to bring my own. Weighing in at under 3 lbs and super compact, it’s ideal for travel. Most bassinets are so bulky and big they take up an entire piece of luggage meaning that’s one more bag you have to pay for.  I also like that the mattress is removable and the sheet is machine washable. This one folds up easily and is for approximately the first 3 months. The breathable mesh panels give such a peace of mind with an infant. We took this on several trips and it allowed us to go to bed knowing Milly was safe and comfortable.  It should be noted that this bassinet should not be used when the infant begins to push up on hands and knees or has reached 15 lbs. (6.8 kg.), whichever comes first.

Teether Babies®

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“Munchkin the Monkey” as we call him is Milly’s best friend.  He’s been on every trip with us so thank goodness he can go in the wash! I understand parents want to bring their child’s lovey with them on trips plus the blanket, teethers and more toys but that leaves room for losing items! And that’s a whole lot of stuff to pack! This is a packing checklist on the essentials-what you really NEED to bring. I learned early on from my mommy friends that it’s best to have a travel lovey that only goes on trips with you….and to buy two ;) just in case.  I love how this monkey pulls triple duty.  The textured paws massage Milly’s sore gums. The crinkly paper is great for keeping her attention on road trips and it even rattles. Plus the clip at the top means you can attach it to almost anything.

Travel™ Bottle Warmer

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Having a travel bottle warmer is a must have for our family. The last two trips we took were for my work so my husband was doing about half of the feedings using my frozen breast milk. This makes it convenient for him to feed our daughter when Mommy is working or on the go. The flexible heating band conforms to the bottle so it warms evenly and quickly.  We even plugged the warmer into our Uber on the way to the hotel!

LATCH™ 4oz Bottle

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This has been Milly’s favorite bottle since birth. Luckily we didn’t have to try a dozen bottles before finding the perfect one for her because a friend had suggested we try LATCH™.   For a breastfeeding mama I love the slow flow and ultra flexible nipple that flexes as she eats.  It mimics the movement of a real breast. And the anti-colic valve helps ensure bubbles don’t travel through the breast milk meaning Milly goes to sleep just as easy as when she breastfeeds. I don’t know what we would do if my husband couldn’t feed Milly with such ease. And bottles aren’t just for when Milly’s away from me. There have been so many instances where we were glad we had a bottle ready for her (waiting in line to rent a car, in the taxi on the way home, during dinner at a restaurant, and many more.) Even if you are a breastfeeding Mama, make sure you pack at least two bottles including a little cleaning brush and soap when you travel. You’ll be so glad you did.

Manual Breast Pump

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For the same reasons mentioned above, never go on a trip without a manual breast pump.  You never know when you can’t breastfeed but need to relieve yourself and/or feed your baby. This is the best $30 I’ve ever spent.  It’s small, easy to use, discreet and quiet.  On long road trips I've used it to pump in the car (while my husband drives). I actually prefer my manual breast pump over my electric.  It just feels more efficient and I don't need to be teethered to an electrical outlet to use it! 

California Baby Bubble Bath

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When you’re traveling with a baby sleep is so important. We sometimes give Milly two baths a day when we are on the road. One is for playtime that we make into an activity. This is great because it’s a nice way for her to play and let out some energy! The other bath is to calm and relax her before bedtime.  Ironically, our favorite California Baby bubble bath is “Party!” and “Calming”! Organic, pure and safe it’s the only skincare I use on her. 

Shhh…™ Portable Sound Machine

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When you’re on the go and your baby’s schedule is all out of wack, you want all the help you can get when it comes to getting them to sleep.  This sound machine is as small as a baby bottle and battery operated so it’s super convenient for on the go. It’s instantly calming and since we use one at home too, Milly is easily taken to dream city as soon as I turn it on. Read more about why I swear by this when I travel here.

goPad™ Diaper Changer

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This will by far be your travel must have accessory. I keep this in my diaper bag so I can just grab this clutch instead of bringing the whole bag.  It has everything you need to change your baby on the go. I love it so much I wrote a whole post about this here

aden & anais Swaddles

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

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These super soft muslin blankets are so versatile. Use them as a swaddle, tummy time blanket, burp cloth, blanket, stroller cover, breastfeeding cover and more. I make sure my diaper bag, car and stroller always have them!

Baby Bjorn Carrier

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Baby wearing is truly key when traveling. I know us Moms are used to holding our baby and doing everything with one arm but save yourself the sore biceps by investing in a baby carrier. Until Milly is bigger, I’m using a hand-me-down one my sister gave me that she used with my nephews over 10 years ago!

Doona

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While I won’t consider this a must have, if you travel a lot, it is worth the investment.  This car seat and stroller in one is compact and easy for travel. It made getting in and out of cabs when we traveled to NYC a breeze. With one click it goes from stroller to car seat and vice versa.  So narrow and small, it fit in the teeniest of areas. Having this on a trip eliminated the need to pack a separate car seat and stroller.

Happ Diaper Bag

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A diaper bag that doesn't look like a “diaper bag” was important to me when looking for something I could take on vacations, especially since I would also be using it as my handbag.  Obviously I needed it to be functional too. The fact that this bag is a backpack-allowing me to carry one less thing –and it’s sophisticated and modern-I decided to get two.  There are so many smart cubbies, and the zippered flap opens wide so you can easily grab all of your baby essentials.

Zip Up Sleeper Onsies

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Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile you want your little one to be comfortable.  Dress them in zip up sleepers so they stay warm and cozy. Changing their diaper is also much easier when you aren’t fiddling with snaps and buttons! These are also really great to wear in cold weather climates underneath their jackets and blankets so you can transition from inside to outside a lot easier.

Brica Cover Guard™ Car Seat Travel Tote

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This bag made bringing Milly’s car seat when we flew with her really easy. Rolled as a suitcase or worn as a book bag, we maneuvered through the airport with very little effort. The extra large zipper made it easy to fit our Doona in the bag even when we had limited space at the gate.  What’s nice about waiting to check the car seat at the gate is if the flight isn’t full many airlines will give a vacant seat to your baby allowing you to use the car seat on the plane.  Plus, if you do check your car seat this cover will keep it protected and safe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gingerbread Ice Box Cake
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Traditionally, ice box cakes are made with chocolate wafer cookies but I've given one of my favorite desserts a festive twist. Made with six layers of gingerbread, homemade whipped cream, and buttered toffee pretzels this cake is sweet, salty and perfect for the holidays.

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Get the recipe and watch my video on how to make it below plus head to the World Market blog for more of my favorite desserts this season. 

How To Survive a Trip With a Newborn
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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Munchkin®. The opinions and text are mine. #munchkinpartner

Traveling can be stressful, add in a baby and it can feel like too much to even bother but I’m telling you right now, this is THE TIME to travel! Milly is four months old and she’s been on a handful of flights including across country twice. We took her with us on two business trips to New York City, conquered public transportation, the TSA and plenty of not-so-baby-friendly places.  Plus, she’s been with us on weekend getaways to Temecula, Big Bear, San Diego and Palm Springs…and we’re just getting started.  

Milly loves to be out and about. In fact, she thrives from it!  Our babe is definitely not a homebody but we also started traveling with her early on and it became a part of her lifestyle. I remember friends with children telling us they didn’t go on trips until their baby was six years old and I never wanted that to be the excuse why I stopped doing things I enjoy.

Traveling with a newborn is actually amazing because they are so predictable. They eat, sleep and potty. They’re small. They aren’t mobile…yet. They don’t have opinions or tantrums and did I say they aren’t mobile?  And they fly for free, people!

I’m here to tell you, you can do it. Whether you have a road trip coming up or a flight ahead-here are my tips and top travel must haves for not only surviving but enjoying a trip with baby.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

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Prevent yourself from feeling rushed or stressed by giving yourself plenty of time to do everything you need to do.  If it took you an hour before baby, add at least another half hour with baby.  Whether that’s allowing extra time to go through security at the airport or allotting enough stops on a road trip for diaper changes-if you build that extra time into your schedule, you won’t want to pull your hair out when you need to change your baby’s soiled outfit for a second time…which leads me to my next tip.

Pack Smart

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Preplan your baby’s outfits (including bibs & blankets) and pack them in zippered bags. This makes getting your baby ready super easy and then at the end of the day you can place the dirty clothes in the bag.  I take pride in Milly’s diaper bag. Everything is organized and easy to find and that doesn’t mean I fill every pocket with something different. I find that you never remember where you put something and unless the bag is completely clear you spend more time searching for something when you need it. I love my goPad™ Diaper Changer.  Every diaper bag should have one.  This is a lifesaver! I can’t imagine traveling without it. 

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Instead of lugging the diaper bag to the lavatory on the plane or through a restaurant/store/etc. you just take this instead. It’s a diaper bag clutch. You can even hook it to the stroller. I keep it fully stocked with Milly’s diapers, wipes, cream and hand sanitizer so I can just grab it and go. The extra large cushioned pad makes sure she’s comfortable even when the sometimes make-shift-changing-table isn’t and it has an expandable bonus panel to use as she grows.  The diaper pad zips off and the vinyl surface makes it easy to clean.  There’s even a disposable bag dispenser that comes with 25 bags.

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Know Before You Go

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If you plan on flying with your child, know the policies before you go. If you have a child under 2, they fly free on most airlines...but some will give you a seat for your child as long as the flight is not sold out (so wait to check your stroller until you get to the gate and always check airline policies on extra bags, strollers, etc).  Also, sometimes it's worth purchasing a seat for them even if they fly free.  Consider this option for long flights.  You will be more comfortable, your baby will be too and if you book it far enough in advance, it's really worth it.  We recently flew across country and paid extra for "even more space seats." However, by the time we did that round trip, it was almost $400 for the upgrades.  We decided it would have been better just to pay for a seat for our child to have our own row!  Also, try to book direct flights so you don't have to deal with extra travel time due to layovers and stops!

Wear Your Baby

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When you’re a mama, you’re used to doing everything with one hand but sometimes you need both of your hands, especially when you travel and that’s why a baby carrier is key! I actually use a hand-me-down baby carrier from 10 years ago that my sister used with my nephews. It makes traveling so easy, especially when I’m by myself. You don’t have to worry about where you’re going to put your baby when you need to do something or if the stroller is going to fit somewhere because your baby is comfortable and safe right on your chest. Eliminating having to push a stroller gives you so much freedom!  We’ve gone through museums, spent hours exploring and site seeing and even went hiking with Milly in the carrier.  Plus, she loves being in her carrier. She really enjoys looking around and seeing everything. And most of the time she falls asleep in the there!

A Rested Baby is a Happy Baby

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Traveling can be tiring, especially for babies and it can be tough (even for me) to get quality sleep when on a trip.  My secret weapon for getting Milly her much needed rest is her sleep soother. This Shhh…™ Portable Sound Machine is as small as a baby bottle and battery operated so it’s super convenient for on the go. It features three different sounds: shushing, heartbeat and white noise and has a timer.  It also acts as a night light (that can glow solid or pulse) which I love since it does double duty when we’re away from home.  We used this when we stayed with family and friends. I’ll use it to help drown out noise when she’s napping in her stroller.  It was really useful when we traveled to the Big Apple because the portable sound soother helped to drown out any noise from the bustling big city below.

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I hope this gives you the confidence you need to travel with baby! And remember that no matter what, everything you are is enough for baby! You got this!!! Stay tuned for a full round up of all my favorite products for traveling with baby!  What are your travel must haves? Let me know in the comment box below and be sure to subscribe on here and YouTube and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter so you never miss a thing.

#SHOPSMALL Business Holiday Gift Guide

I love supporting small businesses. I find the best gifts come from those small shops who are really putting their blood, sweat, tears and love into every single thing they make. They have a story and typically it includes a whole lot of sacrifice.  They're the people with a dream that turned it into a side hustle and then a full on business. I'm a small business. I've owned other small businesses. There was Brandi Lea Boutique where I sold hand beaded jewelry and other handmade things like denim purses. Then there was Sweet Party STIX, a dessert business my friend, Miranda and I started as the answer to the mini dessert frenzy. We catered parties and events where we created dessert tables and candy buffets. We drove all over SoCal and worked nights and weekends together.  I've actually had that entrepreneur spirit since I was 11.  Back in the day when you couldn't find "fun" nail polish colors I would mix my own and sold them door to door. I love making things and love supporting those that do the same even more. Take a look at some of my favorite small businesses to support and #ShopSmall! 

The Dancing Tapestry -Dip Dyed Yarn Wall Hangings and Bohemian Tapestries

The Dancing Tapestry -Dip Dyed Yarn Wall Hangings and Bohemian Tapestries

Indie Claire Boutique -Affordable, handmade headbands & clothes for your littles

Indie Claire Boutique -Affordable, handmade headbands & clothes for your littles

Bliss and Baker -Small batch artisan crispie treats

Bliss and Baker -Small batch artisan crispie treats

Edward Avedis x Brandi Milloy -Teeny tiny rose gold cross 

Edward Avedis x Brandi Milloy -Teeny tiny rose gold cross 

Zartiques -Persian rugs and vintage mid century modern furniture and decor

Zartiques -Persian rugs and vintage mid century modern furniture and decor

Muddy Heart -ceramics for the home

Muddy Heart -ceramics for the home

Four Sisters Farm Soap Co- handmade soaps
The Sleepy Cottage- custom and luxury handcrafted sleep masks

The Sleepy Cottage- custom and luxury handcrafted sleep masks

Get Swank- handcrafted, hand painted wood signs made with love

Get Swank- handcrafted, hand painted wood signs made with love

Beautiful Briny Sea- handcrafted salt and sugar blends

Beautiful Briny Sea- handcrafted salt and sugar blends

Everything But the Kitchen Sink Cheese Board
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Cheese boards are the MOST EASY things to make. Whether you have an unexpected guest or you're hosting a party, they become the place where everyone gathers.  I always have a couple key items on hand so that no matter what-I can host a group of people over in a pinch.  Check out my video for inspo to create your own and then take a look at some of my hostess must haves.

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Curl Up On a Cold Day with These Holiday Cookies
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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Crisco®. The opinions and text are mine.

What’s better than warm sugar cookies? How about hot chocolate cookie cups filled with fudgy frosting and topped with peppermint and marshmallows? These are perfect for those cold days when you want to curl up with a warm treat. You guys know I LOVE making cookie cups, but these might just be the cutest creations yet! Watch how to make these adorable desserts below and then scroll down for the full recipe!

These are so much fun to make

These are so much fun to make

Start with your sugar cookie cup

Start with your sugar cookie cup

Fill with chocolate fudgy frosting

Fill with chocolate fudgy frosting

Top with micro marshmallows

Top with micro marshmallows

Sprinkle with crushed peppermint 

Sprinkle with crushed peppermint 

Add your pretzel handle using chocolate frosting

Add your pretzel handle using chocolate frosting

Press on the side of your cookie cup and hold to set

Press on the side of your cookie cup and hold to set

Ready to enjoy!

Ready to enjoy!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups

By Brandi Milloy

Yields 3 dozen

Ingredients

3 cups Pillsbury™ BEST™ All Purpose Flour 

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 Pillsbury™ Filled Pastry Bag Chocolate Fudge Flavored Frosting

Crushed peppermint candies, for garnish

Micro marshmallows, garnish

Mini pretzels

Directions

STEP ONE

HEAT oven to 350°F. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl until blended.

STEP TWO

BEAT shortening and sugar in large bowl with mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

STEP THREE

BLEND in egg, milk and vanilla. Gradually blend in flour mixture.

STEP FOUR

FORM dough into 1 tablespoon size balls and press into mini muffin tin and up the side to create a cup. Repeat this step until you’ve filled each tin.

STEP FIVE

Bake 10-12 minutes or until very light golden brown. Cool completely.

STEP SIX

To decorate: Pipe chocolate frosting into cups. Sprinkle with peppermint and marshmallows. To create the handle: break off the loops from pretzels and attach to the sides of the cookie cups using chocolate frosting.

Holiday Lights Sugar Cookies

If you’re planning to make a bunch of different types of holiday cookies this season, give my Holiday Lights Sugar Cookies a try – they’re too cute. These fluffy sugar cookies are made with Crisco®All-Vegetable Shortening, topped with crushed candies and strung together with candy string.

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Holiday Lights Sugar Cookies                                                                                                     

By Brandi Milloy

Ingredients

3 cups Pillsbury™ BEST™ All Purpose Flour 

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup Rainbow sprinkles

16 ounces white chocolate morsels, melted

Various hard candies, crushed

Sprinkles

Directions

STEP ONE

HEAT oven to 350°F. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl until blended.

STEP TWO

BEAT shortening and sugar in large bowl with mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

STEP THREE

BLEND in egg, milk and vanilla. Gradually blend in flour mixture.

STEP FOUR

DIVIDE dough in half. Roll out each half on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with light bulb cookie cutter. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet.

STEP FIVE

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until bottom edges are very light brown. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

STEP SIX

To decorate: frost cookies with white chocolate and sprinkle with candies and sprinkles while wet. Thread candy string through hole to connect.

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Custom Watercolor Birth Announcements by Consider the Lilies
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What a blessing to be able to work with Abby Hollar of Consider the Lilies to create Milly's custom birth announcements. I've admired her work for some time now. Not only is she an extremely talented artist, painter and water colorist, but she has such an incredible eye and amazing taste. She's also a blogger, photographer, and the kind of friend you love to brag about!  Working with her was so easy especially since I had no idea where to start. She pulled a couple ideas out of me and truly brought my vision to life.  I shared with her how I have an affinity for protea flowers and ranunculus and then shared some photos of Milly's nursery for more inspo. I love the soft blue gray she chose for her name and the delicate rose gold color for the back.  The floral wreath works perfectly with the newborn photo taken by Jenny Quicksall. We couldn't be more thrilled with how they came out! Thank you Abby!