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

Little Blue Truck

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

We’re Going On a Bear Hunt

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

The Pout-Pout Fish

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

Giraffes Can’t Dance

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

Little Blessings for Little Children

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

Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You

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

Daddy and Me

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

`Baby Animals

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

Sophie la girafe: Colors

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

If You’re Happy and You Know It

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

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!

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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#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