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A GENDER REVEAL CAKE

A few weeks ago, my sweet friend headed into the doctor to find out the gender of her third baby. She already has a boy and a girl, and she headed to the appointment thinking she was going to be welcoming another son to their family. I had told her that if she wanted me to, I'd be happy to whip her up a gender reveal cake so she and her husband could cut into it with their to older kids and share the whole experience with them. While she was at her appointment, Gigi and I prepped all the ingredients for the cake. I'd decided to adapt Jennfier Shea's recipe for Pink Champagne cupcakes from her fabulous book called Trophy Cupcakes and Parties! and make it into a layer cake. We set out the blue and red food coloring and waited...

She anxiously delivered the sealed envelope into my hands as she drove home from the ultrasound. The second she walked out the door I tore open the envelope and saw the ultrasound image that said, "IT'S A GIRL!" I have to admit, I teared up. There was something really amazing about being the first person (other than the ultrasound tech) to know that they were going to have another beautiful daughter in their family.

Gigi and I whipped up this cake and topped it with chocolate buttercream frosting. It turned out wonderfully!

gender reveal cake
gender reveal cakegender reveal cakegender reveal cakegender reveal cakegender reveal cakegender reveal cakegender reveal cake

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SOMETHING TO BE THANKFUL FOR

In August I introduced you all to Lila May, a brave, sweet girl battling cancer in our community. Many of you shared her story, donated money, sent love and prayers and today I'm so happy to be sharing this wonderful news her family shared today on her Facebook page)...

 Lila May

We are so very happy to announce that our Lila May has officially beaten cancer!!! Her final tests came back and all the neuroblastoma is gone. She has amazed us with her courage, determination and her will to survive. I can't wait to spend the rest of my life watching her grow! There aren't enough words to describe how grateful we are for all of your prayers, well wishes, and emotional and financial support. We truly could not have done it without all of you supporting us. We still have two years of limbo however. She has a 30-40% chance of it coming back in the next two years. Every six weeks we will be getting her tested. But we'll take our victory for now. We love you all so much!

Thank you all so much for sending your love and support her way. It means a lot to me and to her family. This is certainly something to be thankful for this week!

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MY THANKSGIVING RECIPES

thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving. For the past 11 years, Kyle and I have hosted and prepared Thanksgiving dinners a few weeks early for our family and friends. The first year we did an early Thanksgiving dinner, I was living in a tiny studio apartment, and had only a few pots and pans so we had to keep washing all the dishes to reuse. The apartment was roasting hot so I stuck our sad, wilting salad in the freezer for a couple minutes, thinking this would crisp it up which resulted in frozen, soggy, inedible leaves. But we had our first Thanksgiving together in that tiny apartment sitting on the floor with Kyle’s parents and my Mom. Come to think of it, I think that’s when we were introducing our parents!

Now, several Thanksgivings (and several lessons learned) later, we have our method and menu down. Most often, for the actual Thanksgiving day, we head up to my Dad and Stepmom’s mini-ranch and enjoy a wonderful dinner prepared by a team of truly talented chefs, most of the company has or does work in the kitchen at the Chateau Ste. Michele. The rest of us are food and wine lovers. There’s always incredible cheese, champagne, wine, and other treats brought from a friend in Portland, and we bring along our stuffing and pies. It’s a serious feast.

This week I’ll be sharing my Thanksgiving recipes with you including...


thanksgiving turkey recipe
Brined and Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey

thanksgiving stuffing recipe
Sourdough Stuffing with Pine Nuts, Dried Cranberries and Parmesan


roasted garlic mashed potatoes recipe
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

garlic green beans recipe


Garlic Green Beans

grandpa's apple pie
and my Grandpa’s Apple Pie recipe!

At the end of this week, I’ll link all the recipes within this post so you’ll have one place to see and print them all.

Happy planning, shopping, cooking, roasting, eating, and drinking!

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Support Lila May

Lila May is a little girl in our little town. She turned three this week. We have run into Lila and her mom, Heidi, several times at the grocery store, at parks, and naturally, she and Gigi have a lot in common. They have mostly talked about pink shoes, shared treats, gone down slides together, and smiled shyly at one another.

For the past year Lila has been fighting a type of childhood cancer called Neuroblastoma. Lila has undergone several rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, surgery to remove tumors, a stem-cell transplant, and Immunotherapy. I first learned about Lila's illness last winter when I came across a flyer encouraging people to come to come take photos with Santa, the proceeds of which would benefit Lila and her family's mounting medical costs. When I read her story, I just cried. It felt so close to home.

Lila MayLila May

If you have a moment, please visit their site, Lila May's Army, where you can donate money (as little as $3), and Lila's Facebook Page where you can leave a message and support and join in with others from our community, and all over the world who are keeping Lila in their thoughts. You can email her family at lilamaysarmy@yahoo.com with questions or words of support.

Her family is planning a virtual 5k fun run to help raise money to pay for Lila's medical expenses. You can read all about it here!

Lila is an incredibly sweet little lady, from a wonderful family. Thank you for taking a minute to read about her.

A poster for Lila's 5K fundraiser...


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Day on the Farm

Recently we went with my friend Steph and her two kids to visit another friend's farm. We're so lucky to live in a place where friends' farms are a five minute drive away! I was thinking about it and realizing that most of our friends have amazing gardens, some of them have cows, horses, bees, pigs, sheep, chickens, goats... it's practically a petting zoo around these parts. I can't wait to get our own chickens but it'll have to wait until next summer. Redoing our backyard and having a baby has been enough projects for this summer! I love spending time on these farms. There's something pretty wonderful about people who are putting all of their time and energy into their gardens, animals, land... you can read more about this particular farm here. That back to basics mentality really appeals to me, I wish I was better about practicing it in my own home.

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Little known fact, I have always wanted a pig for a pet. Preferably a micro-piglet. Kyle, for some unreasonable reason, does not seem thrilled about the idea. Plus, as much as I wanted her to love them, Gigi was pretty scared of the pigs on the farm. I may have to settle for chickens and bees.

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A Week in Seattle

We just got home from a really wonderful week in Seattle. There's nothing like that city when the sun comes out. We decided to do a nice long stay since it was the first time traveling out of town with Lulu! It turned out to be the best decision. Going for the extra few days meant that we didn't spend the whole time running around, and we actually got to put our feet up and relax a bit. We spent time with my siblings, Kyle's parents, Great Nana, Great Grandpa, and Great Great Aunt Helen, and we had a barbeque with good friends. We also got to spend some time together, just the four of us, swimming in the pool, and going to the zoo. It was a really wonderful trip, I wish we could have stayed even longer. It's so great getting to "vacation" in our home town.

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My favorite part of the trip was getting to introduce Lulu to her Great Granpa. He is so thrilled to have two great granddaughters and truly dotes on them. You should have seen the ice cream sundae he ordered for Gigi! I love that my girls bring him such joy and amusement.

seattle trip

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Pressing Apple Cider

This week the freezing air swept in and it's officially winter. It feels like fall just hurried past. A couple weeks ago we had a wonderful day with our good friends embracing the fall by gathering apples and pressing fresh apple cider. Our friends, Ivy and Mike, acquired a press last year and we ready to put it to good use this fall. Kyle's boss has an apple orchards so we headed up into the hills with our neighbors Patrick and Kate and their son, Waylon... who is Gigi's regular partner in crime. The orchard was wet and muddy but these two tiny helpers didn't seem to mind at all and we quickly had our bin filled with apples.

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Then it was time to head to Mike and Ivy's house with our bounty. Waylon and Gigi gladly joined their little friend Grace to play while the adults got the apples and press ready to make cider. Actually, Gigi and Grace spent most of the time pushing a baby doll around in a grocery cart feeding it from a bottle... It's amazing how the girls were such little caregivers!

pressing apple cider
pressing apple cider

It didn't take long before we were ready to get the press going. The kids were a huge "help". It was amazing how quickly the process went. Before long we had tons of fresh, sweet cider flowing.

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It was exceptionally sweet and delicious. We took a few jugs home and Kyle filled a big carboy to make hard cider but, due to neglect it has since turned into apple cider vinegar... and lots of it. Before we took the babes home for their late afternoon naps, we took them out to feed the crushed apples to the goats and go for a little ride in the Radio Flyer. These three, I tell ya.

pressing apple ciderpressing apple cider

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Stockholm, Sweden and Rosendals Kafé

The past two summers, I've been fortunate to have the opportunity to photograph the most wonderful family who happen to live in Stockholm, Sweden. Just last month they were in Oregon again and I shot their family photos. Upon our mention that we'd be traveling to Sweden, Pauli invited us to stay with them. It was a generous offer and we happily accepted. We spent two very fun, giggle, silly, girly evenings with them.

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stockholm sweden

One great thing about staying with a family in Stockholm was that we got wonderful recommendations for where to go and (more importantly) where to eat. When Pauli told us about Rosendals Kafé, we knew that was where we needed to go. It's the most incredible café tucked into the most extraordinary garden! They make food straight from their gardens, it's always in season, and it was spectacular! The menu changes daily depending on what's available. It was such an inspirational place. Without intending to we spent nearly our whole day there.

stockholm sweden rosendals
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We ate our wonderful food in the garden where we made new friends and Gigi ran and played. Then we browsed through the shop, I wanted to buy the cookbook for the café but they didn't have it in English. We picked up a sweet treat for later and then walked the grounds, meandering along paths until we found our way to the ferry.

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stockholm sweden rosendalsstockholm sweden rosendalsstockholm sweden rosendalsstockholm sweden rosendalsstockholm sweden rosendalsstockholm sweden rosendalsstockholm sweden rosendalsstockholm sweden rosendalsstockholm sweden rosendals

We took the ferry across to Gamla Stan, or the Old Town area of the city. It was pretty touristy but there was a lot of people watching to do. We wandered and walked until late afternoon when we decided to head back to Pauli's home to make dinner for her and the girls.

stockholm swedenstockholm sweden rosendalsstockholm swedenstockholm sweden
stockholm sweden

Stockholm is such a beautiful city. We only got to spend one amazing day there but it's on my list of places I hope to visit again and again.

Later this week I'll share some photos and stories from here in Edinburgh, Scotland and I have a new recipe and cooking video to share too!

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Farm Day

We are now settled in Edinburgh, Scotland and Kyle has started school. The tone here is so different from that in the countryside of Sweden. It's drizzling a bit and you can feel the day to day city pace. Kyle has started school, he leaves with his bag around 7:30am and is having a wonderful time. Gigi and I are hanging with Uncle Ryan, I'm catching up on a little work, journaling, reading... It feels like we left summer behind in all it's perfection in Sweden. It's definitely fall here in Scotland.

I still have more photos and stories to share from our time in Sweden this week... these photos are from one day of our trip we spent just relaxing on the farm. One thing I loved about the farm life was going every morning with Gigi to check on the chickens and look for eggs. Then, to come right inside and make her breakfast from an egg she collected. I'm so excited to plan and prepare for getting chickens next spring.

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We spent the day playing, exploring, doing laundry, snacking on real Swedish fish, napping, reading, and soaking up the sunshine.

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Another thing we loved about being in the countryside was fika, afternoon coffee that is traditionally prepared over an open fire and served with sweets. Ryan's neighbors invited us over to have traditional fika with them. We wandered over around 4pm for coffee. Normally I wouldn't dare drink coffee so late in the day but throughout our time in Sweden I never found it to affect my sleep. Maybe it's countered by all the fresh air. We sipped our coffee and snacked on brownies made my Kerstin. We also got to try her special flower water which was very sweet, made from flowers at her mountain cabin, and a homemade juniper berry cordial.

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Kerstin and Oboreo delighted us all with some violin playing! The girls, Gigi and Kerstin's granddaughter Judith, couldn't get enough. Gigi danced and jigged and cheered for more. It was wonderful. The more they played the sillier the girls became. Doing headstands, lying down and rolling on the grass, squealing and giggling like mad.

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After fika we returned to the house to prepare for a wood-fired pizza dinner with Lars, Karin, Isak and Sofia. Any time spent with this family was so much fun. Gigi couldn't get enough of Miss Sofia. Everyone chipped in to prepare the ingredients and soon we we all assembling our individual pizzas.

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A Perfect Evening with New Friends

dala-jarna lakedala-jarna lakedala-jarna lakedala-jarna lakedala-jarna lakedala-jarna lakedala-jarna lake
dala-jarna lakedala-jarna lakedala-jarna lakedala-jarna lakedala-jarna lake

We spent the most lovely evening with the sweetest family. Meeting Lars, Karin, Isak and Sofia has been the highlight of our trip in the Swedish countryside. You can't imagine a more kind and generous little family. They were so welcoming to us, doted on Gigi and really made our time in Dala-Järna so wonderful. These photos are all from a perfect evening we spent at their small lake cabin near the farm. We walked through a beautiful wooded area, the ground was covered in tiny blueberry bushes, and then came upon the lake. It was still warm enough for a swim and even Miss G got in the water to splash and play. We had fika (evening coffee) and sweets and sat on the porch until the sun set. It was one of those evenings for me where I just wanted to hold my breath and take it all in. We feel so lucky to be here, on this trip, meeting such wonderful people, making memories with Ryan and experiencing new things with Gigi.

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Gigi's First Concert: The Head and The Heart

This weekend we took G to her very first concert. Our friend Chris is in a great band called The Head and The Heart. We haven't had the opportunity to see them play in concert yet so when the Portland Zoo announced that they would be playing a show as part of the summer concert series we immediately bought tickets. We listen to their CD a lot so I hoped Gigi would recognize the music. We were completely unprepared for her enthusiasm as the band took the stage! She went absolutely bananas...



Gigi had so much fun meeting her "Uncle Kick", the concert was wonderful, and it was so lovely to catch up with Chirs.
gwyneth concertchris head and the heart

I'll have more photos and stories from our weekend in the next couple of days. Happy Monday.

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Birch Bay: Part Two

Continued from Birch Bay: Part One...

On Sunday morning we woke up early again, but this time I was ready. Ready for coooofffffffffeeeeeee!, for reading books on the couch, for walks on the beach. We were planning to head for home during Gigi

's morning nap so we spent the morning caffeinating and packing up. Gigi is in love with Who Will Comfort Toffle? which was a gift. It's from Sweden and it's beautifully illustrated. She spent the morning in her cozies, finding and comforting Toffle with kisses.

Birch Bay

We got dressed and headed down the waterfront to say goodbye to the great blue herons who flew by and the tiny little crab we discovered. When I was a kid I loved turning over "big" rocks to reveal scores of baby crabs living underneath. Despite my unshakeable fear of spiders, these eight legged creatures amuse me. I found this little guy living in a shell. Which, incidentally, is how Toffle's story ends too.

Birch Bay
Birch Bay

Birch Bay

Birch Bay

Birch Bay

After draining our coffee, we saddled up and hit the road. We spent almost as much time in the car this weekend as we did in Birch Bay, but it was totally worth the trek. I love nothing more than spending time with my family.

Birch Bay

Nothing more.

Birch Bay

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Birch Bay: Part One

This weekend we escaped. Invited by our good friends, Jeremy and Tara, to their family's lovely vacation home in Birch Bay, we loaded up the car and headed North. After so much hustling around the past couple of months, it was hard to leave again. But the promise of R&R beconned so off we went.

We arrived in Birch Bay fairly late on Friday evening and got quickly settled in. I love the feeling when you walk into a new place and get to take it all in and say, "This is going to be my little home for the next 24 hours". After getting Gigi cuddled up in bed, we made dinner and played board games.

Our darling girl woke us up early on Saturday morning and I felt like I was in a swamp. The thick comfy matress and sleep deprivation from the last few weeks had an unexpected effect on me. I spent the whole morning rather, the whole day, in a haze of muddled half-sleep. I'm pretty sure I wasn't forming my sentences properly. Kyle, always the early riser, headed down the stairs to the beach with our on-the-go-girl, and I followed, bed-head and all. Is there anything more enticing than a wooden staircase leading to the water?

Birch BayBirch Bay
Birch BayBirch Bay

One of the best things about spending time with our friends is seeing how much they love Gigi. They embrace her, love her, snuggle her, and play with her. It makes both Kyle and I so grateful to have such amazing friends. "Aunt" Tara and "Uncle" J hold an extra special place with me because of their love for our daughter.

Birch BayBirch Bay
Birch Bay

Since Gigi naps at 9am everyday, we were able to spend some time relaxing with our friends while she caught some zzzs. During her nap the clouds burned away and we were blessed with an outpouring of sunshine. When Gigi awoke we were all playing cornhole and relaxing in the sunshine. I loaded that girl up with sunscreen and proceeded to spend the next hour battling with her that she must keep her sunhat on! She just loves hats so, so much that she wants to hold them and present them to everyone around her. Jeremy had bought her some bubbles at the market and unwittingly, with the first blow of tiny bubbles, became the royal bubble master for the afternoon. Who can deny a sweet "more more more" from a child who adores you and thinks your bubble blowing skills are spectacular?

Birch Bay

I could hardly wait for the tide to recede so we could take G out to explore the shore. When I was in L.A. with her she couldn't get enough of the water and the waves. In Birch Bay, the shoreline is quite shallow so when the tide goes out you can walk out one hundred or so yards. We took off her shoes, rolled up her over-alls and trundled down the stairs with four dogs in tow to see what we could see.

Birch BayBirch BayBirch Bay
Birch Bay
Birch Bay
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By the time we walked back up the stairs from our long explore Gigi was nodding off. We rinsed her feet, stripped her of her wet clothes, kissed her sunscreened head, and plunked her into bed. The sun was high in the sky and everyone was sipping beer that Kyle had provided. Since I'm not much of a beer drinker I eventually accepted a glass of red wine, kicked my feet up, picked up my book, and ignored the clock that said it was only 2:30 in the afternoon. I'm in the middle of reading Very Fond of Food by Sophie Dahl. I've lately found myself reading cookbooks instead of novels. I am obsessed with the stories behind the recipes, the photography, the ingredients. Cooking has really become my main passion in life... other than being a mom it's what I derive the most joy and satisfaction from.

Birch Bay

By the time Gigi woke from her afternoon siesta it was pouring rain and we were all taking shelter inside. It rained on and off for the rest of the evening. There was a lot of cuddling, cooking and eating to be done so perhaps it's a good thing that the rain came down.

Birch BayBirch BayBirch Bay

We stayed up late playing games and drinking wine and whiskey, oh my. The sun didn't set until nearly 10pm and when it did we were surprised with the most bizarre moonset! We tried to figure out why the moon might be setting, decided it may or may not be the apocalypse, bid each other goodnight/it's been lovely to know you, and headed for bed.

Birch Bay


To be continued...

 

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Our Trip to California

Me and GwynethHappy Gwyneth
Gigi and I had a wonderful trip to California. G makes a great little travel companion and I really loved this time with her.

The main thing I discovered on this trip was that we really have some wonderful friends in California. It is really amazing when your friends open their homes up to you and your silly, squirrelly, sometimes-tantrum-throwing, one year old. It meant so much to me to be welcomed into our friends' houses for a night, a week, a cup of coffee, or a shared meal. Everyone was so excited to meet Gigi and loved her so much. We are very happy to be home but are already missing all of our wonderful CA friends.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from our trip...
Gwyneth Deborah Dion
Gigi with Hadley and Deborah. G and I went over to visit Deborah and Co. twice, once to cook dinner for them and once for coffee. I wish we could have spent even more time with this lovely family.

Whitney Johnson blogger with Gwyneth
We met up with Whitney of Eat Sleep Cuddle for lunch on our way from San Diego back to LA. I really love her blog and it was so nice getting to meet her, I only wished we lived closer so we could cook and eat together all the time!

Stephanie Harrison Lucia
We spent almost a whole week in San Diego with Steph and Andy and their kiddos, Harrison and Lucia. Steph and I are so similar and every time I get to see her I just feel completely understood, fulfilled, and loved. She's a great friend.
Gwyneth Harrison hug
There's also this little blossoming romance.
Gwyneth holding hands

San Diego Zoo
We spent a great day with Steph and Co. at the San Diego Zoo. I have wanted to go to the San Diego Zoo ever since I was a little girl. I wanted to either be a zoologist or an actress and was obsessed with a promotional CD/game from the San Diego Zoo. It was a blast with the kids. It was one of those perfect days where not one of them cried and everyone was happy.
San Diego ZooGwyneth Harrison hug
(In case you were wondering, Gigi is licking the flamingo fence in the photo on the right. It's good for her immune system, right?)

Getty CenterGetty Center
We stayed with Tara and Cole for the majority of our time in LA. They were so welcoming, accommodating, and loving. Gwyneth loved playing with them, and I loved having helping hands. They were amazing. They even babysat for me while I went and visited the film set of one of my favorite directors for half a day.

We did a lot together: trip to Venice beach, lunches and dinners out, a morning at The Getty Center to see the Herb Ritts exhibition, and Tara and Cole took the time to put together a sweet Easter basket for G too!
Herb Ritts Getty CenterGwyneth Easter

Gwyneth and Romi Dames
We also got to visit with our lovely friend Romi Dames (a very talented actress), my wonderful agent Carlyne and her daughter Joell, our friend/casting director Rene, our friend Karman, and our friend Darren. It was two weeks packed full of friends. 

We had so much fun together on this trip. Gigi is a total California baby!

California Baby Gwyneth

 

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A Few Thoughts on Traveling with a One Year Old

Gwyneth suitcase
This trip has been really fun so far. Gigi and I are getting ready to head down to San Diego to visit our friends, Steph and Andy. This first part of the trip has been wonderful but has involved a lot of juggling and visiting lots friends. I'll do a more detailed post on all our busy activities when we get settled in San Diego.

I have learned on this trip that having flexible expectations is key. I thought I'd have time to settle down and work, to watch movies, go to the beach, have picnics at parks, to read, etc. But traveling with a 15 month old is kind of a goose-chase. I've been staying the last couple of nights with Tara` and Cole. Tara has been a nanny for years so she totally gets it and has been just wonderful! She's helped me baby wrangle here at their apartment, and out at meals which has meant I can breathe and finish my sentences. You don't realize how squirrelly a one year old is until you travel with them by yourself!

I'm amazed at how much we've done in the past few days and how much fun I've been having with my little sidekick. She's been a trooper with all the changes in location, routine, sleep habits, meal times, etc. She's a good girl.

Once we're in San Diego it'll be me and Steph hanging out during the days while our three little ones play quietly together and nap in tandem, and all sleep through the night. Right?

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Rare Friends and a Busy Day

Our dear friends, Heidi and Ben, have left for their next adventure and we are a little sad. It's so rare to find another couple that shares all your interests, has the same sense of humor as you, has similar hobbies and creative ideas, and appreciates the same things you do. Our few days with them were so much fun.

Heidi and Gwyneth and Me

Now... back to real life! I have lots of photos to share from our time with Heidi and Ben. Unfortunately, they will have to wait for next week. I'm spending the day catching up on emails, and phone calls, and school work. Then I've got to pack a bag for me and G and get ready to head for Seattle. I'm photographing a big wedding with my sister this weekend. I'm trying not to stress out about the whirlwind of things that need to get done today. See you next week, friends!

One more thing: Google Friend Connect is no longer going to allow Non-Blogspot/Blogger blogs to use their Google Friend Connect service. There are lots of other ways to subscribe: RSS, Bloglovin', email or via Twitter or Facebook.

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Foodie Football

Last week we got together with many of our food loving friends to watch the Superbowl. Only problem was that Kyle was really the only one who likes football. It was fun to have everyone over for the great game food...

Gwyneth Paltrow Blue Cheese DressingFresh Baked Bread
Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing (recipe from My Father's Daughter) and Kyel's fresh bread.

Tyler Florence Chicken Wings
Cilanto and Lime Chicken Wings (recipe from Tyler's Ultimate)

Mini Wedges with Gwyneth Paltrow Blue Cheese Dressing
Mini-Wedges with Blue Cheese dressing.

friends and food and football
Our friends, Kristin and Colin, enjoying the wonderful food.

And, there was the game too...
Dad and Baby Football
Kyle caring. Gigi pondering why her parents dress her up in ridiculous outfits every chance they get.

Gwyneth and WaylonDad and Baby Football
Gigi and Waylon playing. G is clearly ready for some football.

Dad and Baby Footballme and gwyneth

Now we are off to enjoy our weekend. Gigi has been really sick the last couple of days so we may end up taking it easy. I'm hoping we can manage a little wine tasting and a dinner out for my birthday but, if we end up staying home, that'll be okay too. (If you want to see more food photos from the weekend they're here.)

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