remembering tot bedtime

I love photoshoots with kids in pajamas. There is just something so sweet and innocent about bedtime, unless you fight your kids to fall asleep. We don’t have the greatest nighttime routine, it’s pretty rough with me working four nights a week and with Jim traveling. This Summer we’ve really started working with the kids. Both kids are pull-up free at night which has been a work in progress, but we made it. Our routine is not perfect but it works for us and that’s all that matters. We both get frustrated on a weekly basis because we compare ourselves to others and there’s one thing I always tell new parents, do what works for you and don’t listen to others. In the end, my kids are happy, they are funny and sarcastic as hell, they sleep in late (a blessing for me but a curse) and they are healthy. One day I will miss the middle of the night cuddles. I embrace them sleeping with us even if that means it’s not always the most comfortable for us.

To document our Summer bedtime trials we did a PJ shoot with local photographer, Sweet Snap Photography. The studio is super cute and she runs monthly mini sessions that are adorbs! You might take a look for her upcoming back-to-school minis.








Do you co-sleep? I would love to hear from you!

for the love of the mouse.

Many people have a place or activity that they turn to when they feel down. After my Grandmother passed when my Mom was down I would suggest a Disneyland visit. We’ve always been a Disney family but once I had kids it changed, I see the park differently and I love it even more because I am experiencing it through their eyes. It was recently explained to me that it’s because it’s a place of fantasy. I don’t want my children to grow-up in a fantasyland, I want them to know that there are struggles in life and that all things aren’t pretend. From a previous post you know that as a family we are in the most trying time in our lives. Our children do not know there are issues, rather that mommy has a different place she lives, we call it the new normal and explain that there is a lot of in between normal we experience throughout life. Over the past month I have been spending more and more time at home as we reconstruct and start building a new future. Life has been good and life has been tough. If you follow me on Instagram you know that we go to Disneyland just about every week or bi-weekly. Just like I used to do for my Mom after my Grandma passed I have found myself resorting to a visit to Disneyland. I have found a new meaning in the phrase, “the happiest place on Earth”. I no longer stress out over visits, the kids and I try something new each visit and we call ourselves the little explorers. It has been very difficult for me to blog, I have neglected this space and I believe that if I begin to write about things I love like our visits to Disneyland then a new love will form. I look forward to sharing our Disney adventures, travel & park tips, yummy food and the joy we have as a family at the park.



Triple Berry Coffee Cake


It’s no secret that I have an addiction for triple iced espressos served over ice with a splash of half & half. I will seek out my favorite coffee houses for the best variations of my drink. My Mom has her go-to’s from Starbucks and even as a baby Payton shared the same love for Starbucks’ very berry coffee cake. There is just something about the airy cake studded with fresh berries topped with a light buttery streusel that makes the dreariest of mornings bright. It tastes even better with a bold cup of espresso.

My “copycat” recipe isn’t reduced fat like Starbucks’ but it is pretty darn close in terms of flavor. I have made a few versions and this one was the best! This version skips the streusel because I wanted a lemony glaze instead. I hope you enjoy it just like my family does.


Triple Berry Coffee Cake
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A copycat version of Starbucks' very berry coffee cake.
Recipe type: Breakfast & Breads
Serves: 8-10
  • For the Loaf:
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour + 1 tablespoon
  • ¾ cup cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ cup blackberries
  • ½ cup raspberries
  • For the glaze:
  • 1 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease bottom and sides of bundt pan; dust with flour, tapping out excess.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the fresh berries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes before removing cake to a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.
  5. While the loaf is cooling,
  6. To make the glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners sugar, the lemon juice and the milk. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Add up to another tablespoon of milk if the mixture is too stiff. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake and let it drip down the sides. Let the glaze harden slightly before serving.


i cheated.

This post might be the most personal and the hardest I have ever written. I cheated on my husband and my family. I lied, I betrayed and most importantly I hurt the ones I love the most. Years ago I wrote about my depression, then my postpartum depression, life after having a baby and losing my Grandmother. I seemed to get through those episodes until I became pregnant with our son and we learned he was going to be born with a birth defect that my body created. I entered a depression I didn’t even know existed until I felt empty months ago. I learned to cope with my anxiety and my severe social anxiety attacks five years ago. I went off the meds and back in the Fall while standing in Starbucks with my family I had an anxiety attack out of nowhere. I knew at that exact moment that my mind and body was spinning out of control like it did many years ago. I let my guard down, I was empty and dissatisfied with my life in terms of career. I never stopped loving my husband and my children but I had stopped loving myself. It might seem like an easy equation that once you cheat you house a life full of lies and dishonesty that you begin to stop loving yourself. When I would look in the mirror I no longer saw myself. I would look at myself with disgust and many nights I was left sleepless because I took the guilt with me no matter where I went. This was until November 30th, when I finally came clean about my indiscretions. It was the most freeing moment of my life. I finally felt alive except for the fact that the person I loved the most, the man I had been with for the past fourteen years, my best friend, my lover and the father of our children was dead. I broke him. I crushed his heart and everything he thought was true was now a lie. For the past five weeks I have been on a self-help journey of finding myself. I was untrue to myself for so long. I distanced myself from my family and best friends because I hated myself. I hated this person. That person is gone. I have said goodbye and I never want to see her again. It’s amazing how hitting rock bottom (hard, really damn hard…) that you begin to realize things about yourself that you thought were never possible. I inherently overreact over situations that I necessarily shouldn’t overreact to. Now, I can sit back and analyze the situation before reacting, if I even react at all. A few years ago I couldn’t sympathize with my best friend when her husband was on deployment in Afghanistan. I remember becoming upset with her when she declined an invitation to attend a Summer party, meanwhile, her husband who I have the upmost respect for was on a plane to the Middle East. My reaction was so bitchy and unrealistic. How could I be upset with my best friend when what she was going through was far more important than a stupid ass party? The point of this story is that now I see this. I see how I selfishly acted because I was selfish. I made selfish actions because I was a selfish piece of shit. The moment that I knew I had changed is when I saw the above story clearly. I had an ah-ha moment. It clicked. It took me weeks to get to that point. I have spent the last five weeks staying in-between my parents house and a condo that a friend is so graciously letting me rent from her. I have seen my children a handful of times. I missed Christmas, I missed Christmas, people! My time removed from my children was all because I was selfish and made the biggest mistake of my life. I will never get this time back. I will never get back the birthday party I missed, the Christmas carols that were not sung, the Christmas lights that were not seen, or the Christmas morning magic, but most importantly I will not get back the life I (we) once had. I have seen a therapist five times, two psychiatrists, and even an AA type group meeting for co-parenting through conflict. I have read books and rediscovered the person I have always wanted to be. I now sympathize with the person sitting at a restaurant that looks distressed, I no longer wonder, why the fuck is that person so unhappy? Because that was me. I now look at these people, smile and give a, have a good day vs. passing judgement. I want to understand and sympathize with people. I am thankful for the people that have stood next to me through the most difficult time in my life but I am even more thankful to those who have stood next to my husband during the toughest time in his life. I write this post about my experiences and my road to recovery but the main point is that I am publicly apologizing to my husband for hurting him. I don’t want the life we once had because I want a new path. My new way of thinking and happiness will create a new chapter for us and our children. We are bound to have better days because I am a different person. Jim, I am sorry for hurting you, I am sorry for all the pain I have caused you. I have lost your trust and I want to rebuild this. I know it will take a long time and it might never happen but I love you and I am willing to embark on this journey if you’re willing to join me. I have never stopped loving you. You are my best friend and I so deeply miss you.

Trust takes a lifetime to build and only moments to destroy. It can be mended with commitment, but a scar will always remain.  When we learn to forgive, we can wear our scars with pride, as it’s a combination of every experience that makes us who we are.  

Goldfish cracker Crusted Mac ‘n Cheese #Goldfishmix

 This post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GoldfishMix #CollectiveBias


I realize the New Year has just begun, but I have to tell you that there is just something about the Winter months that make me crave comfort foods. In SoCal, we’re actually experiencing Winter-like weather so the craving of comfort foods has been insane. I have also been brainstorming comfort-type foods to bring to the annual big game party. I think I accomplished all my goals with this simple mid-week meal that can be made ahead for guests, for a quiet night in with the kids or to bring to a party. You must try my version of creamy mac ‘n cheese with a buttery, crisp and decadent Goldfish cracker crust.

I know you’re probably asking yourself, Melissa, did you just say Goldfish cracker crust? Yes, I sure did people! I know I might be channeling my inner grandma here but we’re not talking crushed potato chips on top of tuna noodle casserole. We’re talking about a grown-up version of mac ‘n cheese that takes the cute Goldfish crackers we have all grown to love, crushed with all it’s buttery goodness atop creamy noodles chock full of cheese. You might seriously thank me for bringing Goldfish crackers to the dinner table.






5.0 from 1 reviews
Goldfish cracker Crusted Mac 'n Cheese
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A twist on an all-American comfort food. This mac 'n cheese takes the Goldfish crackers we all enjoy and love to the next level by adding a buttery crust to the creamy mac 'n cheese.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
  • 1 pound Elbow Macaroni
  • ½ stick Butter
  • 8 oz. Extra Sharp Cheddar
  • 8 oz. Colby Cheese
  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • ¼ cup Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 tsp Ground Mustard
  • 2 tsp Fresh Thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Crust:
  • 1.5 cups Crushed Whole Grain Goldfish crackers
  • ¼ cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • ½ stick Butter
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil
  2. Boil pasta to al dente, do not overcook pasta.
  3. Meanwhile, grate your cheeses. In a pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk flour and butter together and keep stirring for roughly five minutes until you have a blonde color.
  4. Pour milk into flour/butter mixture. Stir for another five minutes or so until it begins to thicken.
  5. Crack your egg into a separate bowl and scramble. Add in a few spoonfuls of milk/flour mixture to temper the egg. Mix the tempered egg back into the pot.
  6. Add in the cheese, ground mustard, salt and pepper.
  7. Once the pasta is cooked add the hot pasta to the cheese mixture. Mix until combined.
  8. Taste for seasoning and add in fresh thyme.
  9. Coat a baking dish and spoon in mac 'n cheese. Top with an additional sprinkling of cheese and then crumb topping.
  10. Crust:
  11. In a small bowl combine: crushed Goldfish crackers, panko breadcrumbs and melted butter. Mix until combined. Top onto mac 'n cheese.

If the mac ‘n cheese isn’t enough comfort food fun, I went even further with my love for Goldfish crackers and whipped up my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. But, instead of just plain ‘ole chocolate chips I added: caramel filled chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and pretzel Goldfish crackers. I mean, if you thought you were going to just “wow” everyone on game day you can pretty much seal the deal with these sweet & salty pretzel Goldfish cracker cookies. It’s basically like a Take 5 bar wrapped up into a cookie! Yum!!




Bring a smile to any table with my Goldfish cracker crusted mac ‘n cheese and my gooey pretzel Goldfish cracker cookies. You can find Goldfish crackers on the cracker & cookie aisle at Walmart. Goldfish cracker cartons are on Rollback right now!

You can find additional Goldfish cracker recipes by visiting their Facebook page or by following them on twitter at @GoldfishSmiles


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