Friday, April 24, 2015

guest post // chai tea concentrate with oh simple thoughts...

Friends! As you know I'm currently taking some much needed mommy/baby/daddy time after the birth of our little one :) Aggg guys, we're parents!!!! So during this transition into our new season of life, I've invited some of my most beloved and dear blog friends to help me out, in the form of unique and wonderful guest posting! Today, I'm honored to have Rachel of Oh Simple Thoughts take over. 



Hi there, I am Rachel and I blog over at Oh Simple Thoughts. I write about my marriage, my passion for being in the kitchen, and my relationship with Jesus. I am thrilled to be sharing with you today as Christina is enjoying much needed time with her new little babe! What an exciting thing to become a mom. 

I don't know about you but I LOVE hot drinks. I am a sipper by nature and always have to have a drink in my hand to sip on throughout the day. Lately I have been on quite the chia tea kick. I drink it cold, hot, in latte form, and even order dirty lattes (lattes with a shot of espresso). So rather than continuing to spend almost all of my "fun money" every week on fancy chai drinks I wanted to try to make my own concentrate. And it worked. 


This is a simple recipe that is so flavorful. The most challenging part of this recipe is finding all the ingredients, and the way grocery stores are these days even that part should not be too difficult. 

CHAI TEA CONCENTRATE 
For printable recipe, click here

  • 6 cups water
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2-3″ fresh ginger, sliced
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 15 cloves
  • 5 allspice pods
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom seeds
  • 5 black tea bags
  • milk of your choice 


1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat add water and honey until sweetener is completely dissolved. Add all of the spices and continue to simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. 

2. Remove the mixture from the heat, add the tea bags, and let them steep for 10 minutes.

3. Strain out the spices and tea bags and store your chai concentrate in the fridge (it will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge).


To serve:
1. Using a 1:1 ratio, add milk to concentrate and warm in a saucepan over low heat. Top with whipped cream and cinnamon! Enjoy (daily). 

This is a warming drink not just because it is served hot, but all the spices make it a drink that warms up your insides as well as your outsides! I love it, and drink this almost as fast as I can make it. It is a must try! 

What is your favorite hot drink? 


Thank you so much Rachel! Gawwww! I seriously love chai tea, lattes, iced chai, etc. Love it so much! I've never heard of a dirty chai before, though! I'm so intrigued! May have to try that next. MmMmm, so craving chai now :) I am totally making a batch of this and keeping it in my fridge for all my chai needs. For more amazing recipes and inspirations, please check out Oh Simple Thoughts!

Although I'm not around here as much as I'd like to be, you can still stay in touch (and ooooh and ahhhhh with me at HOW CUTE OUR BUNDLE OF JOY IS!!!) via FacebookTwitter and my favorite- Instagram!



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

guest post // essential apps with mane message...

Friends! As you know I'm currently taking some much needed mommy/baby/daddy time after the birth of our little one :) Aggg guys, we're parents!!!! So during this transition into our new season of life, I've invited some of my most beloved and dear blog friends to help me out, in the form of unique and wonderful guest posting! Today, I'm honored to have Olivia of Mane Message take over. 


Charm & Gumption print | Mane Message hair ties 

Let's be honest for a second, we are all constantly on our various devices. Whether it's a smart phone, tablet or computer it's seems almost impossible to unplug completely. Especially if you're running an online business like me. I'm not here to judge you. There's no shame it in. Hey, it's 2015 after all. These devices have become vital tools that enable us reach people around globe, stay organized and learn. 

I wanted to share a few of my favorite apps with you. I'm going to skip over obvious choices, such as, Instagram + Pinterest, and hone in on some gems that have become essential to my daily life. I tried to choose apps that can be used across various platforms and are not exclusively for the iPhone (although that's where I primarily use them). 


Timehop - I'm sentimental beyond belief and this is one of my favorites hands down. Timehop gathers your social media updates from the current day throughout history. I check it over coffee every morning without fail. I love seeing what I was up to/thinking about 6+ years ago.

Evernote - It took me ages to commit to using Evernote on a regular basis. I will say now that I completely understand people's obsession with it. I rely on it heavily and use it on all of my devices. You'll find me using Evernote to snap photos of business receipts, log my day dreams and bookmark articles I want to read later. 

Todoist - Great to-do list app with a clean design. I love that you can assign tasks to other people. I use this to collaborate with my employees. It helps us keep track of projects and complete daily tasks. My boyfriend and I also use it for meal planning and grocery lists. 

IFTTT - This might be the nerdiest of the bunch, but it's amazing. Trust me. IFTTT stands for If This Then That. Basically, you can make "if" to connect different online platforms to each other. Example: Every time I Instagram it copies the image to my Dropbox folder. Or if the weather forecast calls for rain it tells ToDoist to remind me to bring an umbrella. Pretty nifty. 

Vsco Cam - Hands down my favorite photo editing app. I can get lost in the different film settings.  

Audible - I'm dyslexic, so reading can be challenging for me. Audible has without a doubt changed my life. It allows me to listen to books on tape easily. The app syncs your position across devices (even on your Kindle!), so you can listen anywhere. I love listening to books while I'm making hair ties, doing dishes or driving. On average I listen to a book a week.


There you go! There are tons of others, but these are the ones that I'm currently obsessed with. I hope these add organization + fun to your online life. 


Thank you so much Olivia! I have to admit, I'm such a sucker for the VSCO and Evernote Apps! My dad actually got me hooked on Evernote and I haven't switched back to normal note taking since! I love that I can make a note on my iPhone and it will be automatically synced to all my devices! So much better than the old note app which comes standard on iPhones/iPads. For the best and cutest hair ties ever (believe me, I have about 100) please check out Mane Message!

Although I'm not around here as much as I'd like to be, you can still stay in touch (and ooooh and ahhhhh with me at HOW CUTE OUR BUNDLE OF JOY IS!!!) via FacebookTwitter and my favorite- Instagram!

Friday, April 17, 2015

salted brown butter shortbread cookies...


To say I've been craving cookies lately, is an understatement. I know, I know- what about this post?? Yeah, I'm really trying to continue working on it. It's a process friend. But if I'm honest, this sugar craving loves cookies. If there are none around me I panic. I need chewy, crispy, carby, sugary cookies all day. 

And still chocolate.

But I also know this new craving is like, the worst thing ever. So I've been trying (sort of) to not have any in my home. Unless Bill brings me home one or two (to which he makes my freaking day). 

Last night actually, we had retired to our bedroom for the evening, were catching up on some of our beloved shows on Hulu when it hit me again and I NEEDED A COOKIE. Those fruit gummies in our fridge just weren't going to cut it. Shoot. So I looked at him with panic in my eyes and started telling him my life or death craving for something cookie like. Anything would do. But it needed to happen now, now, NOW! 

Then we had this brilliant idea- make a hodgepodge of somewhat healthy ingredients that somewhat resembled cookie dough and I'd snack on that. Oats, honey, almond butter and raisins were mixed together until they formed almost perfect Oatmeal Cookie dough. I could have cried it was so good. I sat in my bed and ate that little bowl so slowly, trying to savor every last morsel. It made me happier than I'm proud to admit. It was the best. He's the best. 

But then sometimes...you just really need an actual cookie. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

guest post // why not try out milkfarm with foreign escapades...

Friends! As you know I'm currently taking some much needed mommy/baby/daddy time after the birth of our little one :) Aggg guys, we're parents!!!! So during this transition into our new season of life, I've invited some of my most beloved and dear blog friends to help me out, in the form of unique and wonderful guest posting! Today, I'm honored to have Sharon of Foreign Escapades take over. 



Hi, my name is Sharon from Foreign Escapades and I will be your “host” today on Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe! I am so excited to be guest posting for Christina while she and Bill are busy figuring out/taking care of precious little Baby Main. He has finally arrived, yay! 

My home on the web is a travel-lifestyle blog which focuses on my various “escapades” whether they be local or around the world. 


Today our destination is Milkfarm, an artisan cheese shop in the upward trending section of Eagle Rock, CA. After driving back from taking my car to its 30,000 mile “doctor” appointment (which cost about the same as a small house), I needed a treat. To my delight, Milkfarm appeared at just that moment and there was a parking spot right in front which I took as a sign that I needed to explore inside this intriguing storefront. Once inside I realized I had hit the motherload -- cheese, glorious cheese…everywhere! 

This shop is the brainchild of Leah Park Fierro who has over 15 years of experience in the food industry with six of those years being at The Cheese Store of Silverlake. In fact, her two co-workers the day I visited were also veterans of The Cheese Store of Silverlake. Suffice it to say, these people know their cheese, but they also know great pairings and are ready to assist. 



Offering a rotating selection of sandwiches, salads, pastas, breads, and pastries, you may stop in for the cheese and find yourself staying for a meal. Did I mention their chocolate chip cookie? Milkfarm has the best chocolate chip cookie I have ever tasted (aside from my mom’s). Usually chefs get too fancy with the chocolate chip cookie deciding to add extra chocolate or fruit or some other crazy idea, thankfully not here. This one is traditional with just a touch of sea salt on top…incredible!



Here are my top five reasons Milkfarm is a must go to destination:
1. An incredible selection of artisan cheeses, both domestic and international, that are award winning and cut to order for the freshest taste.

2. Customer service that excels in knowledge, friendliness, and a general love for food that is infectious.

3. Sandwiches and cookies which are delicious, fresh and (for the sandwiches) always changing. *Note: go early to get the sandwich you want as they sell out quickly.

4. “Meet the Maker” events where you can talk with the people who supply some of the products sold in the store (these are free events each Saturday).

5. The unique and tasty wine and beer pairings available for your enjoyment.
Details: Milkfarm, 2106 W. Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA  90041


Thank you so much Sharon! I have to admit, I'm such a sucker for artisan cheese! I mean...it's practically my love language. So, as soon as we can, we're headed here for lunch. It's a date! For more ideas and inspirations on where to eat or play, please check out Foreign Escapades!

Although I'm not around here as much as I'd like to be, you can still stay in touch (and ooooh and ahhhhh with me at HOW CUTE OUR BUNDLE OF JOY IS!!!) via FacebookTwitter and my favorite- Instagram!


Friday, April 10, 2015

guest post // baby faves with lovely indeed...

Friends! As you know I'm currently taking some much needed mommy/baby/daddy time after the birth of our little one :) Aggg guys, we're parents!!!! So during this transition into our new season of life, I've invited some of my most beloved and dear blog friends to help me out, in the form of unique and wonderful guest posting! Today, I'm honored to have Chelsea of Lovely Indeed take over. 

Hey gang! Chelsea here from Lovely Indeed, so happy to be filling in while Christina is snuggling the new little one! I'm actually a new mama myself, so I thought in honor of our tiny people I'd share a few favorite things that have been lifesavers during my little guy's first couple of months. 

I'm gonna be real with you -- not all of these things are glamorous. But neither is motherhood all the time, right?! I'm discovering that most of the time motherhood is more like just guessing what will work for you and your baby and sort of blindly winging it until you're both happy. It's totally crazy and scary and thrilling and wonderful. But if there are any mamas out there who find even one or two of these things helpful, I'll consider it a win. And if you're not a mom but may be someday -- bookmark this page. Just trust me. 

Honest Shampoo and Body Wash. No joke, when we use this on Henry it makes him smell like a creamsicle. 

My Brest Friend. What a terrible name for a nursing pillow, right? Ugh I really can't stand it. But! If you're nursing, it is a lifesaver. It clips around your waist to stay in place and has little head boosters for baby. There's also a pocket where you can keep important stuff. Like the TV remote. 

BabyLit Books. These have to be the most charming kids books around. They're classic tales told through incredible illustration and used to teach simple concepts like colors, numbers, and more. Right now Henry loves Frankenstein (it's all about body parts, get it?).

Tommie Tippee Closer to Nature Pacifiers. I'm not looking to start a great debate on the use of pacifiers here, guys, but sometimes we just have to use 'em. They have helped on long car rides and in desperate moments of getting the little one to calm down and sleep. These are our favorite -- Henry takes them easily and we can also take them out easily while he falls asleep so he doesn't nap with a pacifier the whole time. That, and the Britain designs are adorable.

Old Navy Striped Waffle Knit Pants. Our little guy has lived in these for the last few weeks. I bought a few pairs when he was born and they've held up so well -- and they add a little cuteness to a plain onesie. They're cozy for the cold and plenty comfy (and so affordable!).

Nosefrida Snot Sucker. I said it wasn't all glamorous, right? I'm gonna get real here. Our tiny dude has a stuffy nose pretty often, and it just breaks my heart to hear him snorting and sniffling while he's trying to breathe. This contraption is crazy -- you put one end gently at the opening of baby's nostril, the other end in your mouth, and you literally suck out what's inside. Don't worry, there's a filter that keeps anything from coming out of the nose and going straight into your mouth (that would probably be impossible anyway with the way that the thing is built). But it works one hundred percent of the time, and baby always breathes easier. We use a little saline mister first (this is our favorite) to loosen up any dry gunk, and then go to town with the Nosefrida. Problem solved.

So! If you're a mama and have any favorite things you use for your baby, leave them in the comments so we can help out Christina with her tiny new sweetie! We moms have to stick together, after all. xoxo


Thank you so much Chelsea!! These are fantastic! For amazing DIYs, more on motherhood, and a few laughs along the way, please check out Lovely Indeed!

Although I'm not around here as much as I'd like to be, you can still stay in touch (and ooooh and ahhhhh with me at HOW CUTE OUR BUNDLE OF JOY IS!!!) via Facebook, Twitter and my favorite- Instagram!