Posts in Lifestyle
The Only Sugar Cookie Recipe You Need: My Salted Butterscotch Sugar Cookies
Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Crisco®. The opinions, text and sugar cookie recipe that will change your life are all mine…but it can be yours too. #sharingiscaring

 

When I was a little girl my fondest memories are of baking in the kitchen with my Mom. I’d stand on the chair pushed against the counter and lean over to help. It feels like I learned how to measure ingredients before I could walk.  They were the best cookies and we always used Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening.  They were soft, fluffy and noticeably better than cookies baked with butter. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Crisco

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Crisco

Every year around the holidays we would host a cookie exchange where friends and family would come over and bring several dozen cookies to share. It was the best because we’d get to try tons of different cookies.  And everyone would ask what our secret was to making these beautiful, moist, fluffy cookies and we would tell them it was the Crisco®.

My Mom’s sugar cookie trees were always super popular, followed by her butterscotch bars.  I could never choose a favorite because they were equally delicious!  This recipe is inspired by both of those cookies. It has that warm familiar flavor of brown sugar and creamy white chocolate with the soft light-texture sugar cookie complimented all by fleur de sel which acts like electricity through the entire cookie. It’s one of those cookies you can never have just one.  It’s so good I could cry.

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Crisco

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Crisco

It’s like when you run into an old friend and a flood of good memories come back and you wonder why you ever stopped being friends only to discover you can’t remember why and that feeling makes you sad.  If that feeling was a cookie, this would be it.  Yes, I’m being serious. It’s not a sad cookie. It’s like a time capsule cookie that brings you so much joy you just want to hold on to it forever because the feeling is so good and you don’t want it to go away again.  That is this cookie.  This is the only way to describe my Salted Butterscotch Sugar Cookies. You’ll actually want to apologize to it because it’s so good and it did nothing wrong for you to forget it’s amazing qualities, despite never having it before. I’ve never met someone that didn’t love this cookie and try to stuff a couple in their pocket before leaving.  Long after the party is over people will find a reason to bring up this cookie just so they can talk about it and reminisce about how good it is.  I’ve had people offer up their first born child in exchange for this recipe. Ok-maybe not that far….but you get the picture.  This is why this is the only sugar cookie recipe you need. Scroll down to salivating city and then run to your kitchen and bake these immediately.  Be sure to tag me on IG @BrandiMilloy with photos of your Salted Butterscotch Sugar Cookies!

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Photo Credit: Olivia Kuan

Salted Butterscotch Sugar Cookies

By Brandi Milloy

Yields 4-5 dozen

Ingredients

3 cups Pillsbury™ BEST™ All Purpose Flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening (I swear by 1 cup baking sticks and keep them on hand in my pantry at all times)

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

16 ounces butterscotch chips, melted

8 ounces white chocolate chips, melted

Fleur de sel, for garnish

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 2 ½ inch round 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: Spread butterscotch on center of cookie. Drizzle white chocolate on top and garnish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

My Go To Favorite Kitchen Must Haves for Fall

Before Mr. A and I moved into our new home, we lived in a teeny tiny 420 square foot bungalow in Manhattan Beach. There wasn't really a kitchen-more like a kitchenette. It was the size of a child's picnic table. Imagine a sink, cutting board and that's it. That was it. Seriously.  I still can't believe I recipe tested and made big dinners there when we hosted friends. 

So now that we have a home with an actual kitchen, it's been wonderful filling it with all of our favorite kitchen gadgets.  These are items I use on a weekly or more basis, but especially for fall....when we find ourselves at home more, hosting friends & family and celebrating all of my favorite holidays! 

I would love to know what your favorite kitchen gadgets are-especially any that are lifesavers for new moms that have limited time. Share them in the comment box below. Thank you!

Kitchen Aid Mixer in Copper Pearl  I love using my mixer to make cookies & cakes all season long. And I love the look of the copper shade which matches all of the other hints of copper in our white & marble kitchen.

Kitchen Aid Mixer in Copper Pearl I love using my mixer to make cookies & cakes all season long. And I love the look of the copper shade which matches all of the other hints of copper in our white & marble kitchen.

Copper Measuring Cups & Spoons  When we moved into our home, I decided to downsize all of the extra miscellaneous measuring cups and spoons we had and replace them with two sets. One of which is this beautiful shiny copper set. 

Copper Measuring Cups & Spoons When we moved into our home, I decided to downsize all of the extra miscellaneous measuring cups and spoons we had and replace them with two sets. One of which is this beautiful shiny copper set. 

White Marble Cheese Board  An easy appetizer anytime we host last minute company is placing cheese, nuts, meats, jams, fruit, crackers and veggies on a board. I just use whatever I have in the fridge and pantry and display it on a marble board and it's like an instant party starter. Served with wine or sparkling water with fruit and guests think I've been working on it all day.  

White Marble Cheese Board An easy appetizer anytime we host last minute company is placing cheese, nuts, meats, jams, fruit, crackers and veggies on a board. I just use whatever I have in the fridge and pantry and display it on a marble board and it's like an instant party starter. Served with wine or sparkling water with fruit and guests think I've been working on it all day.  

Six quart slow cooker  From pot roast to slow cooker carnitas tacos, I make most of my meals during the fall in my Crock Pot. It's the easiest way to have a homemade meal ready for my family at the end of a long day. You really can't mess it up! This is an absolute staple in our home.

Six quart slow cooker From pot roast to slow cooker carnitas tacos, I make most of my meals during the fall in my Crock Pot. It's the easiest way to have a homemade meal ready for my family at the end of a long day. You really can't mess it up! This is an absolute staple in our home.

Pizza Stone for the oven or grill  We love to grill pizzas during the summer months but when the weather cools down we put the pizza stone in the oven. Our favorite?  Mr. A's Bacon, Brie & Jalapeno Pizza

Pizza Stone for the oven or grill We love to grill pizzas during the summer months but when the weather cools down we put the pizza stone in the oven. Our favorite? Mr. A's Bacon, Brie & Jalapeno Pizza

Reversible Grill & Griddle  I find myself making pancakes a little more this time of year. Maybe it's because it's colder in the mornings and the idea of eating pancakes in bed always sounds good. I never have berries in the house but I always have Oreos so  Oreo Pancakes  are usually a staple around here. 

Reversible Grill & Griddle I find myself making pancakes a little more this time of year. Maybe it's because it's colder in the mornings and the idea of eating pancakes in bed always sounds good. I never have berries in the house but I always have Oreos so Oreo Pancakes are usually a staple around here. 

Mini Muffin Tin  Can you ever have enough copper? :) I love making mini muffins, mini quiches, mini cookie cups-all things mini in this pan! No matter what you make in this, it's great because you can always have more than one. 

Mini Muffin Tin Can you ever have enough copper? :) I love making mini muffins, mini quiches, mini cookie cups-all things mini in this pan! No matter what you make in this, it's great because you can always have more than one. 

Tiered Dessert Stand  If you eat with your eyes, why not make a statement? You could put an Oreo on this thing and it would look fancy schmancy! Just sayin.

Tiered Dessert Stand If you eat with your eyes, why not make a statement? You could put an Oreo on this thing and it would look fancy schmancy! Just sayin.

    Le Creuset Dutch Oven  I received this as a gift from a friend in blue and even when we're not using it, I love keeping it out on the stove cause it's so gorgeous. I make all of our homemade favorite recipes in this thing. From chowder to mashed potatoes and my Mom's Filipino adobo. 

 

Le Creuset Dutch Oven I received this as a gift from a friend in blue and even when we're not using it, I love keeping it out on the stove cause it's so gorgeous. I make all of our homemade favorite recipes in this thing. From chowder to mashed potatoes and my Mom's Filipino adobo. 

Fresh Fig & Mascarpone Pie
I've learned that the most perfect desserts never taste the best. This pie is rustic, real and every bit is delicious! 

I've learned that the most perfect desserts never taste the best. This pie is rustic, real and every bit is delicious! 

I love, love, love fresh figs and enjoy them all season long but I think it's one of those fruits that can be intimidating to people if they don't know what to do with them.  What I love about this dessert is it takes little effort to make but the payoff is huge. The light, creamy mascarpone filling with bits of lemon zest is the perfect balance to the fresh juicy figs.  

For this recipe you really only need a handful of ingredients: pie crust (I don't mind store bought pie crust), mascarpone, heavy whipping cream, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and fresh figs. Hello easy street! Also, this is one of those desserts you wanna take to a dinner party or somewhere you can really show it off. After all, it looks SO fancy!

As always-I am not a food photographer even though I wish I was. Will someone teach me in exchange for pies? 

Fresh Fig & Mascarpone Pie                                                                                                                   by Brandi Milloy

Ingredients

  • 1 pie crust baked (homemade or store bought is fine)
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 lb. fresh figs, rinsed and sliced in quarters

Directions

  1. To make the filling: combine the mascarpone, powdered sugar, vanilla and lemon zest in a small bowl and mix until smooth.  Set aside.
  2. Into a bowl, pour the heavy cream and using an electric mixer, mix on medium speed. Mix for 2-4 minutes until billowy and fluffy and stiff peaks form. Carefully fold in the mascarpone mixture and then spread mixture evenly into pie crust.  Top with fresh figs.
  3. Serve pie with fresh figs so each slice gets plenty of fruit and enjoy!
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Affirmations I Tell My Daughter Daily

“Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on the earth, for what they believe is what they will become.” –Brooke Hampton

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Throughout the day I speak to my daughter as if she understands everything I’m telling her. From when I greet her in the morning to when I’m changing her, bathing her or taking her on a walk-I’m always talking to her.  I’ve been telling her these powerful words since before she was born, when she was just a blueberry in my tummy.  I fed my mind positive thoughts and let those thoughts fill my heart and belly.  And every night since she was born I tell her the below when I lay her down to go to sleep.

·      We love you Milly.  Mommy loves you. Daddy loves you. Jesus loves you. Everybody loves you. (Sometimes I go down the list of all of our family & friends that love her).

·      You are the sweetest little girl in the whole world.

·      I love being your Mama.

·      You are such a happy baby.

·      You are kind and nice and smart. You are so smart, baby girl.

·      You are generous and helpful and such a good friend.

·      You have already changed the world and one day you will move mountains. 

·      You are good at everything you put your mind to. You can do anything baby girl.

·      You are confident and powerful. You are brave and courageous.

·      You are amazing Milly. Your nickname is “@LittleAmazing” because you’re amazing just like Daddy.

·      We are so grateful for you. You are the best part of us. We are so glad God chose us to be your parents. 

·      You are safe, lovey. Mommy is here and Daddy is here. We are right here beside you. We will always be here for you.  We love you so much.  You are so deeply loved.

·      I can’t wait to spend time with you tomorrow. You are my favorite part of the day.

·      Good night my Love. Sleep well. Have sweet dreams.

·       We love you Milly.  Mommy loves you. Daddy loves you. Jesus loves you.

Putting Milly to bed at night is some of my favorite time with her because I know I am teaching my daughter how to empower herself and I’m filling her mind with positive thoughts.  If you don’t already, I really encourage you to create your own affirmations for yourself and/or your child.  What will you say? What do you want them to be? I’d love to know what you come up with. Let me know in the comment box below.

A Letter to Milly, an 8 Week Update
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Happiest two months baby girl!  You are so incredible. You have really lived up to your name @LittleAmazing.  I knew when you were in my belly you would be like this-calm like the ocean and bright like the sun.  You radiate light, my love. I could stare at you forever. 

You're 8 weeks old today and it has been the most powerful time in our lives.  You've taught me so much patience, a trait I've never really had before.  But I'm not talking about patience with you. I mean patience with myself.  Expectations I have for myself as your mama, as a working mama trying to balance it all are somehow not so high because all that matters is I'm doing my best. There are so many firsts and so many new things but we are learning together and I couldn't do any of it without Daddy.  We are so lucky to have him.  When you were born he did all of the night feedings. Do you remember, baby? Daddy let Mama sleep and he took such good care of you.  In the mornings he helps take care of you too so I can sleep in.  And he feeds us. He makes us breakfast every morning with lots of coffee and he makes dinner for us too. That's why I have so much energy when we're together lovey.  He does so much for us. He loves us so much. 

I love how you make me slow down and pause.  I am soaking up every bit of you. I love spending time with you. I love our conversations. You're such a good listener, so alert and interested.  You seem to love the sound of my voice and I love the sound of yours.  You started trying to talk to me. We've been communicating since you were in my belly but now you are cooing and singing to me a lot.  Your voice is sweet like honeysuckle. And your soft milky breath is like heaven.  

You never cry. You yelp if you're bored and ready to be held and you fuss when you're hungry but you aren't a crier. You have so many expressions.  You are so good about telling us exactly what you want.  When you were itty bitty you would inch your way up daddy's chest until you were right under his chin and couldn't go any farther and then you would sleep there for hours.  We would call you our inch worm.  Now we call you our little hungry hippo. You love to be in the water and I started taking baths with you. It's such a peaceful time and it reminds me of when you were born...in the water, my little mermaid.  You're an easy baby and we are so grateful.

Before you go to sleep at night is one of my favorite times with you. We talk about our day and how much mommy & daddy loves you. I tell you about Jesus and how much he loves you too. You always look so relaxed and you go to bed happy, baby.  You love when I massage you and when I touch the back of my hand on top of your head. I massage the spot between your eyes and you fall fast asleep.  But at night I've been missing you.  That's because you've been sleeping 6-7.5 hours. I'm still getting up to pump, baby girl but when I look over at you in your bassinet you look so peaceful dreaming deep in your sleep.  Sometimes I just stare at you and then have to stop myself from picking you up.

This week we started our Mommy & Me class, baby yoga and infant massage. You really enjoy going to class.  You are not a homebody that is for sure.  You thrive being outside, in the stroller, in the carrier, in your car seat.  You love watching, looking, observing and exploring. 

We are so in awe of you, Milly. It has been an absolute gift calling you ours.  We love getting to know you and are soaking up every moment.

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A Tour of Milly's Nursery
Photo credit: Jenny Quicksall Photography

Photo credit: Jenny Quicksall Photography

Just when I thought the kitchen was my favorite room in our house, we created our nursery for Milly and I found myself always wanting to be in there.  Despite being a room for our baby girl, something about it seems sophisticated. The vintage persian rug from Zartiques.com is not only warm and super soft (perfect for tummy time) but feels like an extension of our home decor. Our vibe is very boho mid century modern with the charm of our 1930's Spanish bungalow.  That was something that was important to Mr. A and I. We didn't want the room to feel like a baby's room. 

Photo credit: Jenny Quicksall Photography

Photo credit: Jenny Quicksall Photography

Some of my favorite elements of the room is the yarn wall hanging by the Dancing Tapestry above her crib. I love the image of the sunset and the rose gold beads that play off some of the other rose gold elements in the room. Another special piece is the mini wicker chair that was mine when I was a little girl! I can't wait for the day Milly is old enough to sit in it while I read to her. 

Photo credit: Jenny Quicksall Photography

Photo credit: Jenny Quicksall Photography

Photo credit: Jenny Quicksall Photography

Photo credit: Jenny Quicksall Photography

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You can see more photos of her nursery by heading to the feature on POPSUGAR.com and shop some of my favorite pieces in the nursery here.

 

These Brownies are the SHI*

With a slightly crispy exterior and a chewy interior, these super chocolatey brownies are some of the best I've ever have. There are so many fun occasions you could make these for! Your friend gets promoted-give them these brownies with a note that says "You're the SHI*!" or if your friend is going through a break up you could give them these brownies with a note that says "He/She was a piece of SHI*!" Or you could just give them to the Ex and tell them to "Eat SHI*!" LOL. I'm dying...I digress. Hopefully you're not offended. 

It was such a treat to finally work with Rosanna Pansino and I'm so excited to check out her new line of bakeware and goodies from Wilton! Check out our collab we did for my show, Eat the Trend on POPSUGAR FOOD and then scroll down to see & shop some of my favorite items from her new line available August 19th! I'll take one of each! 

Hearts & Gems Molds

Hearts & Gems Molds

My Top 10 Baby Shower Gifts to Give & Receive

Whether you're pregnant now and creating your baby registry for your upcoming baby shower or you have a friend who is expecting and not sure what to get them, here are some of my absolute favorite gifts I received from friends & family!  Scroll down to shop all of the items featured! Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more content and let me know in the comment box below what other videos you want me to make! Thanks! xo


#1 Cloud Be Sleep Sheep http://rstyle.me/n/cratnxcbzxp
#2 Personalized Clothing http://rstyle.me/n/cratp5cbzxp
#3 Children's Books http://rstyle.me/n/cratq6cbzxp
#4 Moby Wrap http://rstyle.me/n/cratswcbzxp
#5 Munchkin Mozart Music Cube http://rstyle.me/n/crattkcbzxp
#6 Moses Basket http://rstyle.me/n/cratuscbzxp
#7 aden + anais swaddles http://rstyle.me/n/cratvjcbzxp
#8 California Baby Products http://rstyle.me/n/cratwhcbzxp
#9 Personalized Towels http://rstyle.me/n/cratxscbzxp
#10 Homemade Gifts-needlepoint art http://rstyle.me/n/crat2ecbzxp

Our @LittleAmazing Birth Story PART ONE
Our precious babe!

Our precious babe!

Full disclosure: Little A is currently on my breast learning how to latch so I’m using two fingers to type.  Today was a big day! We took her to her first visit to the pediatrician, ran some errands and got home later than I thought we would. I planned on writing this birth story last night but was so sleepy between feedings! Plus I can’t put her down and I know I’m supposed to sleep when the baby sleeps but how is that possible when I can’t stop staring at her?

Our @LittleAmazing Birth Story PART ONE

Milly Blake Simon

Born 7.7.17 at 7:07am

6lbs. 7.5 oz 19.5” long

Despite having an “easy” pregnancy and really enjoying being pregnant, like many other mamas-to-be, the last couple of weeks of pregnancy are tough.  You feel like your body is maxed out. There’s just no way there is any more room for this baby to grow.  It was getting harder to bend, harder to breathe and days on set were leaving my ankles as swollen as softballs.  During the last two weeks it was especially tough as I started getting Braxton hicks and back labor. The Braxton hicks were manageable. The back labor on the other hand, was brutal. It felt like fire and it would come every hour or so…even at night- so not a lot of sleep for this mama-to-be.  The only thing that would relieve it was stretching my back and doing cat cow pose on all fours or rotating my hips on a yoga ball for several minutes. I actually had a segment on the 4th of July for KTLA and between teases I left set to go to the green room and do cat cow pose on the floor to relieve the pressure! Thank goodness no one saw this pregnant lady in her dress on all fours!

The day before Little A came I was ready. Mentally and physically I felt like she was going to come on the 7th of July. My original estimated due date was 7.17.17 but Mr. A and I had joked that it would totally be OK if Little A came on 7.7.17. Both dates are pretty lucky! On Thursday July 6th, I had a meeting in Studio City and then decided to go to Caioti Cafe to get “The Salad.” This magical salad is known to naturally induce labor. I had heard all about it and definitely wanted to try it. I mean- it couldn’t hurt. Plus, I had to eat something for lunch! The salad is basically greens, walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese but the secret is in the balsamic dressing. I ordered the salad and asked for extra dressing. I stopped by POPSUGAR Studios to grab some mail and told all the girls to send 7.7 vibes my way.

When I got home I decided it was game time. I started going down the list of natural ways to induce labor. I ate the salad, drank some raspberry leaf tea (another thing known to get contractions going), did some lunges and continued down the checklist.  I even had Mr. A do some acupressure on me.  We went to bed around 10pm and I put it all in God’s hands.  I obviously know the baby will come when the baby is ready but I had a good feeling going to bed. 

At 1:24am I was jolted awake by a contraction and the feeling that my water was breaking. I ran to the bathroom just in time and felt my water break. Immediately I started having contractions about 3-5 minutes apart. I texted our doula, Darla to let her know what was going on.  I thought maybe I’d try and go back to bed a bit. What a joke. The contractions were too close together so I stayed in the bathroom for a little over an hour and timed them on my phone. They were strong and consistent.  The hour flew by.  At this point I didn’t realize Mr. A wasn’t awake. He had been waking up with me every hour for the last two weeks to give me counter massages anytime I had back labor so I didn’t realize at 3:00am that he was still sleeping. I decided to wake him up and tell him the exciting news. I was beaming from ear to ear. Knowing my water broke and I was in active labor just made me so excited because I knew Little A was on their way! 

Mr. A immediately started helping me relax and breathe into each contraction.  During my pregnancy we had been practicing hypnobirthing at home plus we had taken hypnobirthing classes with Nina Phelan of Soulful Birth for the past month every Sunday for three hours.  Nina was absolutely imperative in making us feel confident and ready for natural birth. Her class is phenomenal and equipped us with so much strength and power to conquer our natural birth journey. I feel like she really prepares the fathers and significant others of the mamas to be doulas.  I know I couldn’t have gotten through each wave (the term we use for contractions in hypnobirthing) without Mr. A. He was the best partner ever.  He started timing the waves and letting me know when they’d be over. That’s the beauty of labor. People never talk about the space between the waves when you aren’t contracting. Your contraction might last a minute but then there’s space between each one-even if it’s just four minutes or one minute like what I was experiencing. They are just like the waves in the ocean. The wave comes up and then there’s a beautiful space where the water is still.  The ocean is calm. This is a gift and a powerful time for your body to relax, breathe oxygen in and not focus on the wave that’s up ahead.  He would count down and keep telling me “Only 20 more seconds left baby. You got this. You’re so strong. I love you.  Just breathe. Thank you so much for doing this for our baby.” I could cry just thinking about how grateful I am for him.  He was incredible. 

Around 4:30am the waves were getting more intense. I decided to get in the shower hoping it would relieve the pressure.  It was absolutely fantastic. The warm water felt like a massage and made the waves bearable. I didn’t want to get out but was worried it might relax me too much and slow down my labor.  I continued to trust my body. I kept thinking to myself “Your body was made to do this. You are doing this.”  Leading up to my delivery I knew I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. I knew I would be most comfortable at home and had set goals for myself to only get to the birth center when we were ready to start pushing. Little did I know I should have been a little more specific with my goals and vision.

Our doula checked in with Mr. A at 5:00am and quickly realized I was probably farther along than we all thought. Anytime I had a contraction I would lean against the wall and just breathe through it.  I was taking sips of water between each wave so I could stay hydrated.  Looking back I didn’t think a first time delivery could go that quickly but now it was 5:30am and things were really picking up.  Mr. A texted our certified nurse midwife, Simona around 5:45am and first she said “Why did you wait this long to text me? And why are you texting me and not calling me!”  Whoopsy!  She was concerned I could have the baby at home!

I could feel the baby move. Around 5:50am I felt Little A in the birth canal. The baby was coming! All I wanted to do was bear down (Go Wildcats! U of A reference) and start pushing.  It took so much strength for me to decide to leave the house and head to the birth center but I wanted my water birth damn it!

I told Mr. A to grab our bags and put them in the car and then as soon as he’s ready I would start walking to get in the car.  Both our doula and midwife said they would meet us at the birth center.  As we were leaving Mr. A asked me “Are you sure it’s time lovey? You’re still communicating.” One thing we learned in our birthing classes was that when a woman is in transition or ready to start pushing she will go inward and quiet and won’t be able to talk. She will be primal and focused on her body and the baby and probably not able to communicate anymore. I, however was so verbal that when we walked outside I reminded Mr. A we needed to move my car to the driveway so we didn’t get a ticket for street cleaning that morning.

We got in our car at 6:15am and headed to the Natural Birth Center.  Mr. A put on our rainbow relaxation guided meditation to help me relax and stop from pushing and drove us as safely as possible.  Keep in mind this is a Friday morning in LA. We live in the South Bay and had to get to Beverly Hills.  If we had left any later, it would have taken us at least an hour to get there. Luckily it took us about 25 minutes. They were the longest 25 minutes of my life.  I kept my eyes closed during the drive to stay focused on my breathing and listened to our tapes. Mr. A gave me constant updates on how close we were and how much farther we had to go.  A couple times I started moaning and pushing and then I would try and stop myself. In between the intensity I would talk to Little A and tell our baby to stay in there a little longer. “Not yet baby. We aren’t there yet. Almost baby. We are almost there, baby.”

We got to the birth center at 6:40am and I jumped out of the car and flew up the stairs like a monkey.  We had arrived before our certified nurse midwife and doula.  Luckily a midwife student on call, Addi was there with a nursing assistant, Mayra. As soon as I saw them I was so relieved.  We’ve gotten to know both of these women for the last 10 months at every check up and every appointment and it was so surreal to see them that morning knowing that we were about to have our baby.  As they were turning the lights to the office on, I told them to get the water in the tub because the baby was coming. I’m not sure if they thought I was really ready or if they were trying to have me wait for Simona but there was no time for that.

I got in the tub around 6:45am. I remember my sister, Sonya (who also had a water birth with my nephew, Bexton) said that as soon as you get in the water, you feel amazing relief. She was right. It felt wonderful but I also knew it was game time. At first I was just trying to breathe through the feeling to push. I didn’t want to rush things and all of the sensations were so foreign. It’s an unknown sensation you’ve never felt before. It’s what other moms tell you about but you can’t really explain until you are actually experiencing it. I knew I wanted to surrender to my body and let it do what it was meant to do.  In that moment I also recalled my prenatal yoga instructor, Khefri telling the mamas in her class that pushing “feels good”. I know that sounds bonkers but I think what she meant by that was it feels good to finally be able to push the baby out knowing that you are that much closer to meeting your baby. Right before 7:00am I started breathing the baby down and pushing.  I pushed three times and then held her there. As I held Mr. A’s hand I took one big breath for more energy and pushed once more. Then I grabbed my baby under the water and pulled her to my chest.

I did it! I did it! That’s all I kept thinking after I had Little Amazing.  Our baby was here. It was really happening.  It was almost like I was having this out of body experience.  It didn’t feel real.  I had watched so many beautiful natural birth stories including my sister’s and now I was living it. I had just delivered our baby all natural, medication free in the birthing tub. I had been visualizing this exact scenario over and over in my head for months and now it was actually happening. I remember locking eyes with Mr. A, both of us absolutely beaming with astonishment and saying “I love you” to each other. 

I held the baby against my chest and couldn’t stop staring. I was in a baby daze! Finally one of the assistants asked what we had. We totally forgot to look! I asked Mr. A what the baby was. Boy or girl? I turned the baby around to face him and he said “It’s a girl!” And immediately I knew she was. 

She was so tiny-like a glowworm. I couldn’t get over it.  I was finally meeting this precious gift from God that He chose for us.  This little baby we had been talking to, singing too and loving on for 10 months. I was holding our love baby, our baby we were meant to have exactly when we had her.  Milly Blake Simon.  We had always known our baby girl’s name. We both had thought of it together-inspired by my maiden name, Milloy. Mr. A would always say, “It’s the best name. How could you not love that name?” It always felt right. Even when we were looking for our first home, we would go to open houses and if we didn’t think the house had a room that was right for Milly, we knew it wasn’t our home.  And I think even though we waited to find out the sex of our baby, deep down we knew it was a little girl. 

Minutes after I delivered Milly, our certified nurse midwife and doula showed up. I told them I was so sorry they didn’t make it but they were both so happy for us. I was still in the tub and it was perfect timing. We were able to do delayed cord clamping, cord banking and I delivered the placenta with ease.  Little A got so much skin to skin time with Daddy and we both got to love on her for hours. I started breastfeeding baby, we called our families to share the good news and by 11am we were on our way home! Welcome to the world Milly Blake Simon. You are so loved!

I will never get over how amazing our natural birth story was but I’m confident there were several factors that made my delivery smooth. To find out what I did that I attribute to having a short labor and smooth delivery, stay tuned for PART TWO of our birth story. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts in the comment box below and be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more or our Amazing Life!

Minutes old Milly in Mommy's arms and already stealing Daddy's heart!

Minutes old Milly in Mommy's arms and already stealing Daddy's heart!

Our Gender Neutral Baby Shower Soiree
Feeling SO loved by all of our family & friends! @LittleAmazing is such a blessed baby!

Feeling SO loved by all of our family & friends! @LittleAmazing is such a blessed baby!

It's still so surreal to me to think that almost a year ago I was celebrating my Bachelorette Party in Palm Springs and now, I'm married to Mr. Amazing, living in our first home with a baby on the way! What a whirlwind year it's been! I am so incredibly grateful to have had two baby showers hosted for me. My mom hosted a shower in my hometown of Sierra Vista, AZ with my best friend, Jeff and sister, Sonya. The theme was appropriately bumble bee and every detail from the food to the black & yellow candy bar and bumble bee cookies were perfection.  It was intimate and extremely special.  

For my shower in LA, where I've called home for nearly 10 years I wanted the shower to be casual and laid back. I knew we'd have a big group of girls but I wanted it to still feel personal.  Since we're waiting to find out the gender of @LittleAmazing, I didn't have a particular theme in mind-I just wanted the space to exude baby! The invitation designed by Kirra Reyna Designs really set the tone with the blue, green and pink pastel watercolors, clouds and stars.  I just loved the softness of our invitations and signage and how there was something vintage about them. My friends who hosted, Ruth, Faith, Breelyn & my mother-in-law Nicole, carried that theme throughout the shower-stringing the most adorable handmade cloud mobile above the beverage cart and other cloud and star mobiles above the tables. I can't wait to use these in the nursery for decor (so stay tuned for our nursery reveal very soon). Guests were invited to "dress their guess: blue or pink, what do you think?" It was pretty split on thinking the baby will be a girl or boy.  The gold balloons and black and white patio furniture was a good neutral backdrop for the rest of the decor.  Silver dollar eucalyptus and white garden roses weaved through the black wicker peacock chair made it the absolute centerpiece of the party which made me feel like a bohemian Queen!  I knew I wanted to wear white (my favorite color) and was so happy to find this lace maxi which I paired with my new favorite heels (they have velcro straps which are perfect for this mama-to-be's growing belly)!  

The day before the shower I went to the LA Flower Mart and picked up my favorite peonies, colorful ranunculus and dahlia flowers to decorate the tables.  I love having fresh flowers at the house and these made me so happy!  The theme for the menu was all of my pregnancy cravings-although I don't know if I really have had any true cravings since I just eat everything I've always enjoyed-lol!  Guests were treated to catered Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, nuggets tenders and salad. We had southern sweet tea, lemonade and fresh coconuts for refreshments and a make-your-own bubbles bar. The dessert table included a ton of sweets including a rosé gummies station!  Guests played games and decorated onesies using a DIY onesie decorating kit from A lil' Moore complete with paint, iron-on stickers and decals. Favors included super soft aden + anais swaddles which double as sarongs, beach blankies and hair wraps (for guests who don't have little ones yet) and I also gifted guests my favorite natural and organic skin care products from California Baby-a staple at the Milloy-Simon household!

Scroll down to see some of my favorite photos and then be sure to check out the full feature on POPSUGAR!  

Special thanks to my bestie, Breelyn Stone for taking all of the photography at my shower. 

Credits

Photography: Breelyn Stone

Invitation & Signage: Kirra Reyna Designs

Furniture: Cost Plus World Market

Peacock Chair: Cost Plus World Market

Cloud Mobile: Polly Chrome Crafts 

Catering: Chick-Fil-A

Fruit & Fresh Coconuts: Melissa's Produce

Cake, Cupcakes & Cookies: Susie Cakes

DIY Onesie Decorating Kit: A lil' Moore

Candy: Sugarfina

Marshmallow Treats: Bliss & Baker

Brandi's Dress: A Pea in the Pod

Favors: aden + anaisCalifornia Baby

Ice Cream for Breakfast a la Smoothie Bowls

There's something about creamy frozen fruit made soft serve style that makes me feel like I'm eating ice cream for breakfast.  I had the chance to create some easy breakfast recipes while I visited the Chick-fil-A headquarters recently and my smoothie bowls were a huge hit.  This is a staple at Casita Amazing, so much so, that our freezer is always stocked with all the must haves. You can get the recipe and read all about my trip by heading to the Chick-fil-A blog, The Chicken Wire!  Then come back here and let me know what your favorite smoothie bowl combination is!

Choose whatever fruits and toppings speak to you!    Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

Choose whatever fruits and toppings speak to you!  

Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

How gorgeous is this kitchen?  Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

How gorgeous is this kitchen?

Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

I love adding sliced almonds on top for a little crunch.   Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

I love adding sliced almonds on top for a little crunch. 

Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

You eat with your eyes so.....make it gorgeous, darling!  Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

You eat with your eyes so.....make it gorgeous, darling!

Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

I love eating these smoothie bowls anytime of the day! Afternoon snack anyone?   Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

I love eating these smoothie bowls anytime of the day! Afternoon snack anyone? 

Photography Credit: AshtonStan.com

Sneak Peek: Our Maternity Shoot at El Matador Beach, CA
Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

From the first time I spoke with our maternity photographer, Jenny Quicksall, I knew she was the perfect person to capture this special chapter in our lives.  Not only is she incredibly talented with an eye for detail, lighting and composition but she is an absolute joy to be around.  Her beautiful energy is infectious and being a mama of two, she and I immediately connected about my pregnancy and our babies. Jenny is extremely easy to work with and makes shooting with her feel natural when photoshoots never "feel natural." She made the entire experience so much fun despite it being cold and cloudy that even Mr. A was even enjoying himself! We chose to take our maternity photos at El Matador Beach in Malibu, CA since we love the beach and wanted to get some shots with the large rock formations.  While we were taking photos we realized that a year ago we were in Joshua Tree shooting our engagement photos with Brandon Kidd. So wild to think of all the milestones we've reached together in a year. We got married in August, traveled to Greece & Italy for our honeymoon, found out we were pregnant with Little A, bought our first home together, renovated our first home and now we are only weeks away from becoming a family of three.  What a truly amazing year we've had! Seeing these photos really makes me appreciate Mr. A even more. He is such a great partner, friend and husband but I really can't wait to see the wonderful father he's going to be. He already does so much for @LittleAmazing and I and I thank God everyday for our life together.  

Continue scrolling to see our maternity photoshoot sneak peek with Jenny Quicksall @JennyQuicksall and stay tuned for the full feature on POPSUGAR.com

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

Photography Credit: Jenny Quicksall

CREDITS: Photography by Jenny Quicksall | Dresses by Pea in a Pod |  Hair & makeup by Kasia Bohos | 

Babymooning in Maui and Our Must Visit Spots

Babymooning might be a fairly new concept but I'm all for it. Going on one last epic trip before the baby comes was a great way for Mr. A and I to celebrate us and our family of two. We know the big adventure is yet to come when we welcome our little one in July but we also realize life will change for a bit and it won't be as easy to just jet set to Hawaii for a romantic getaway.  It was tough to choose one island to visit but ultimately we chose Maui for its mix of paradise and resort amenities. Our trip was 5 days and it was the perfect amount of time for us to connect, enjoy one another and experience new things with each other. Together, Mr. A and I compiled our list of must have spots to visit while on the island whether you're there babymooning or not. 

COCKTAILS & MOCKTAILS AT MAMA'S FISH HOUSE 

Everyone told us Mama's Fish House is a must visit.  So we went directly from the airport to the famous restaurant for lunch.  The place faces the water with breathtaking views and a refreshing ocean breeze. Tiny little birds fly in and out of the restaurant and the intoxicating smell of gardenia flowers is everywhere. Decked out with bamboo chairs and Hawaiian decor, it's the epitome of tropical.  And while the food was good and completely authentic (fresh seafood and traditional Hawaiian sides), it was really expensive and we ended up having plenty of dishes on our trip that were more delicious elsewhere on the island. So for us, we would suggest going there for a cocktail (or a mocktail)... and if you dine there, go for a sunset dinner on one of your last nights to really make it special.

Mai Tai for Mr. A and a Virgin Lava Flow for his Baby Mama

Mai Tai for Mr. A and a Virgin Lava Flow for his Baby Mama

The view as your walking down to Mama's Fish House

The view as your walking down to Mama's Fish House

MAUI'S HEART ROCK AND NAKALELE BLOWHOLE

Despite being almost 7 months pregnant with cankles that wouldn't quit, I had no intention of just spending our babymoon hanging at the resort all day sipping virgin pina coladas with my feet up! I wanted to explore Maui as much as possible! We walked, hiked and climbed our way around the island and during a day trip to Kapalua we made our way to find the Heart Rock and Nakalele Blowhole.  There's a trail at mile marker 38.5 where you scale rocks and sandy dirt down to the famous spot. Round trip it's about a mile hike with a couple steeps spots so I would recommend wearing tennis shoes or secure sandals.  Once you get to the bottom, you'll see the blow hole to your left and if you turn around and look to the right along the water, you'll see the heart shaped rock!  The blowhole is quite impressive, powerfully shooting water over 100ft in the air. But beware, signs along the trail warn visitors that the blowhole is dangerous so it's best to stay at a safe distance when visiting.  

Heart Rock with my loves!

Heart Rock with my loves!

BREAKFAST AT GAZEBO RESTAURANT

Our wedding photographers, Brandon & Kristin Kidd suggested this spot as an absolute must eat. Maui is one of their favorite places to visit and they frequent there pretty often to shoot weddings making them practically locals plus they are foodies just like us, so we knew it would not disappoint.  The Gazebo is located in Lahaina on the property of an apartment complex by the pool.  The casual restaurant is on a gazebo (this is probably obvious) with limited seating and a wait time averaging an hour.  But trust me, the wait is worth it! The portions are large and meant to be enjoyed family style.  Once you're seated, the service is quick and the food is hot! I enjoyed a glass of POG (pineapple orange guava juice) with Hawaiian fried rice and pineapple mango pancakes. Mr. A ordered the Portuguese Sausage Platter. Despite being super hungry and eating a ton, we still had leftovers! 

Traditional Hawaiian Fried Rice

Traditional Hawaiian Fried Rice

Pineapple Mango Pancakes with Coconut Syrup

Pineapple Mango Pancakes with Coconut Syrup

Portuguese Sausage Breakfast Platter

Portuguese Sausage Breakfast Platter

MAUI'S SUNFLOWER FIELD

it's hard not to stop at the Sunflower Field in central Maui and snap a pic. As far as the eye can see the land is speckled with bright yellow flowers.  It's absolutely gorgeous! The Biodiesel Sunflower Project offers tours for visitors but keep in mind the field is on private property and a working farm so respect the land and please don't pick the flowers! 

IMG_8326.JPG

ROAD SIDE SMOOTHES

While Shave Ice will always be my first love, you rarely marry your first love (although I adore a good high school/college sweetheart story and admire those couples who find each other early on in life)! And while I had plenty of shave ice while we were in Maui, the sugary snow just didn't compare to the fresh fruit smoothies we enjoyed during our babymoon. Our favorites were found on the side of the road on our way around the north part of the island.  Family owned and made in a small truck, we placed our order with one of their young daughters.  I ordered pineapple mango and Mr. A got guava peach. When they came out you could just see they were the perfect consistency.  Thick ribbons of frozen fruit with the most intoxicating smell.  Oh my goodness they were the best things I had ever had! I guzzled mine so quickly I almost forgot to snap a pic! 

Paradise in a cup!

Paradise in a cup!

Road side food trucks are the best!

Road side food trucks are the best!

BLACK SAND BEACH

For me, going to Black Sand Beach was worth the trip to Maui alone! From the smooth black pebbled beach to the nearby lava rock anchored by the turquoise blue water, the Black Sand Beach lives up to all of the hype I've ever read about.  If you get there early, you'll find yourself alone where you can really soak up all of nature's beauty.  Black Sand Beach is off the Road to Hana (another HUGE must do when visiting Maui-so important that it deserves its own post coming soon). The area is lush with palm trees, birds of paradise and every other hypnotic Hawaiian flower.  It's like nothing you've ever seen before!

While some of it is black sand, it should probably be called Black Pebble Beach!

While some of it is black sand, it should probably be called Black Pebble Beach!

Definitely bring water shoes if you're a baby like me. The rocks aren't all smooth!

Definitely bring water shoes if you're a baby like me. The rocks aren't all smooth!

Whether you go to Maui for your babymoon, honeymoon or any other special celebration my recommendation is to take advantage of the entire island! Rent a car, roll down the windows and let your heart be your guide! There is so much more to do on Maui than just hang by the pool. For more photos, go to Instagram @BrandiMilloy and search the hashtag #littleamazingmauimoon.

How To Bring Indoor Style Outdoors

One of my #1 style guidelines is that anytime I've investing in a new decor item or piece of furniture, I make sure to only purchase versatile multi-functional pieces. Our house doesn't have a lot of storage space so this is a great way for me to maximize what I bring into our home. And because I love to entertain indoors and outdoors, I'm constantly moving decor and using items in more than one space.  That's why I love World Market's indoor outdoor collection. The pillows are amazing and made with recycled water bottles so they are weather resistant but still soft. The accent tables are great for outdoor entertaining but I also have one of them beside the glider in my nursery.  Living in sunny California we spend so much of our time outdoors and I love that you can really achieve an outdoor living space with World Market. Click here to read more and shop some of my favorite items! 

SUBSCRIBE NOW to BrandiMilloy.com for new content EVERY WEDNESDAY!

I'm happy to share that I will be posting more about my personal life right here on BrandiMilloy.com From being married to Mr. Amazing and our journey together as newlyweds, new home owners and soon-to-be new parents to decor ideas and renovation projects from our 1930's Spanish bungalow to entertaining ideas and recipe hacks PLUS my travel guides and must have food spots....I can't wait to create and share more with you all! So be sure to SUBSCRIBE to BrandiMilloy.com, my YouTube page and follow me on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter. xoxo, B

NACHO Typical Cinco de Mayo Fiesta
Fun fact: Mr. A & I got this blanket in Tulum, Mexico the day after we got engaged. 

Fun fact: Mr. A & I got this blanket in Tulum, Mexico the day after we got engaged. 

I had so much creating this segment for KTLA featuring a self-serve Nacho Pie Bar, Waffle Ice Cream Tacos with Coolhaus Ice Cream & Sugarfina Cactus and Pineapple Gummies, DIY Mexican Fruit Cups and a Make-Your-Own-Margarita Bar. Be inspired to host your own party by watching the full segment here! Yippity Yippa Yiyiyiyiyiyiiii!!! 

For my favorite products for Cinco de Mayo, scroll down! 

Sugarfina  Cowboy Cactus: bursting with prickly pear flavor. $7.50

Sugarfina Cowboy Cactus: bursting with prickly pear flavor. $7.50

World Market  Taco Truck Taco Holders $6.48

World Market Taco Truck Taco Holders $6.48

World Market  Rocco Glassware $12-$24

World Market Rocco Glassware $12-$24

Urban Outfitters  Mini Donkey Pinata $12.00

Urban Outfitters Mini Donkey Pinata $12.00

Bliss and Baker  El Churro Crispies $18.00 for 4

Bliss and Baker El Churro Crispies $18.00 for 4

World Market  Aiden Bar Cart $199.00

World Market Aiden Bar Cart $199.00

World Market  Cactus Lights $19.99

World Market Cactus Lights $19.99