To My Mom

by ilene on May 9, 2015 · 1 comment

in parenting, Skylar's First Year


To my mom,

Thank you.  I finally get it. I’m finally beginning to understand the depth and breadth of your love for me and my siblings. It’s taken 35 years and 2 children of my own but I’m just now appreciating all that you have done for me and continue to do for my babies.  You are my hero.  Happy Mother’s Day to the most loving, self-sacrificing mom there ever was.


To my little ones, Zoey and Skylar,

My hope is to be the mother to you that your Ahma was to me.  You are my joy and my heart.  You have made my dreams come true.  Thank you for making me the happiest and proudest mommy there ever was.


To all moms,

Happy Mother’s Day!! Wishing you all pedicures, breakfasts in bed, homemade cards and time alone to shop!



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Bulletproof Coffee

by ilene on May 4, 2015 · 1 comment

in recipes


Have you heard of bulletproof coffee?  Bulletproof coffee is basically coffee that is blended with coconut oil and butter.  Coconut oil seemingly goes into everything these days, so why not coffee?  It tastes like a latte  but without any cream or sugar.  It’s developed a cult following this past year and those who swear by this concoction believe that it helps with weight loss, gives you extra energy and improves your overall health.  I have a hard time believing all this though since drinking one cup is consuming almost 500 calories(!!), but with long nights of feeding a newborn and a crazy early-rising 2 year old, I needed  a strong pick-me-up in the mornings so I gave it a shot.  With this stuff coursing through your veins, you will feel invicible!

The ingredients:  Your favorite coffee beans, coconut oil, butter:


First, brew your favorite cup of coffee. Like most San Franciscoans, we are big Philz devotees since we live just down the street from one. We chucked our 12 cup cuisinart coffee machine last year in favor of slow drip. We bought this ceramic slow dripper from Blue Bottle and we love it (the handle has broken off):


The slow dripper is so quick to use and easy to clean up and makes a great cup of strong coffee. The only downside is that it requires special filters that we have to buy at Blue Bottle or online.

After the coffee has brewed, I blended the coffee with 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in my magic bullet, which is the perfect sized contraption for blending one cup.  The result is a creamy, buttery, somewhat tropical cup of coffee:


Since I like my coffee really sweet, I added two teaspoons of brown sugar to it, though most people don’t need the added sweetener.    The verdict? Not sure if I am a fan yet.  While it tastes alright and a good jumpstart to my morning, I can’t get past the fact that I was drinking oil and butter.  And that its almost 500 calories per cup!!!  Eek!!



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Oversized Paper Orchids

by ilene on April 27, 2015 · 1 comment

in party, stationary, tutorial


My friend Jackie was getting married in her native Hawaii last summer so I helped throw her bridal shower before her wedding in Oahu.  I was in charge of decorations and since she was going to have beautiful orchids all through out her wedding so for her shower, I decided to make a bunch of white orchid decorations, including this massive oversized paper orchid centerpiece.   To get an idea of how big the orchids were, here is a photo of the radiant bride-to-be in front of it:


It was huge!!  The giant stem of orchids made a nice focal point for the party.  The biggest bloom at the bottom spanned about 3 feet across! (side note: isn’t my friend Jackie so pretty?  Thank you for having a wedding in Hawaii and giving us a reason to vacation there!)

For the paper flowers, I found a free orchid template online here. The template made orchids only a couple inches big, so I enlarged the flowers in photoshop and made the blooms in two sizes:  one extra-large bloom at the base and three smaller ones above it.  Each bloom had three pieces to it: the center piece and 2 petal pieces (I’m sure those are not the right botanical terms).  I printed the enlarged templates out on my printer on regular paper then I pieced them together with tape:


My local art supply store Flax in SF happened to be having their annual paper sale so I bought a bunch of HUGE pieces of crepe-like paper for $1 a piece. Normally the paper sells for $5 a piece so I got a great deal on them and they were about 4feet x 5feet big.  The paper was thinner than poster board with a slight texture. I traced the templates onto the paper and cut out the pieces. Here are all three pieces that make up each flower:


I decided to watercolor the center pieces of the blooms to make them look more realistic:orchid3

I did the old grade school trick of sprinkling salt on the paint while it was still wet to make it look more speckled:orchid4

Because the flowers were so big and the paper was thin, I was afraid they wouldn’t hold up, so I reinforced the backside of the petals with floral wire. I taped the wire to the petals and the wire kept the flowers from being too floppy:

Then because I wanted the petals to curl a bit to look more realistic, I curled the edges of the petals by rolling them up with my hands. The floral wire helped hold its shape:
Then I glued the three pieces of the flower together so that each bloom looked like this:


After I was done making all the flowers, I was trying to figure out how to put them together to create one stem of blooms. I needed a strong curved structure that could stand upright and just was I was telling my dilemma to Jeff, my eyes locked on our arc lamp across the room and I knew it was perfect for the job! We have this “big dipper arc lamp” from CB2 and it was exactly what I needed to create my orchid plant:



The arc is adjustable so I extended the arm as far out as it would go.  I took off the lightbulb and lamp shade and wrapped the metal arc with green paper.  Then I taped each bloom along the “stem”.  I also added a couple  small buds to the end of the arc and green leaves at the base:


One show stopping orchid plant all done! Perfect for the Hawaiian-themed bridal shower!

I ended up making a bunch more white orchids with yellow centers that we hung around the room. The bride was able to re-purpose the flowers and took a bunch with her back to Hawaii and used them as props for the photo booth at her wedding reception, too!


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Fruit-Filled Icecream Cones

by ilene on April 23, 2015 · 0 comments

in party, recipes


We hosted a women’s brunch at our home a couple weeks ago and I made these fruit-filled ice-cream cones dipped in chocolate for the occasion.   They were a different way to serve fruit at a party and I think it’d be a fun idea at a kid’s birthday party as well.  It’s a great way to get children to eat more fruit!  I saw the idea on Pinterest while browsing around so I can’t take credit for this idea.  I like how simple it was to put together and made a nice display at the buffet table.

I bought these icecream cones from Safeway:


For the chocolate, I melted semi-sweet chocolate chips with a teaspoon of  shortening (you can also use coconut oil, too):


I microwaved the chocolate in 30 second intervals until the chocolate was melted, then I dipped the rim of each ice-cream cone in the chocolate: 

I set the cones on a silpat mat and put them in the fridge for 10 minutes to harden up:fruitcones4

I made the chocolate cones the day before the party and stored them in an air tight container overnight so it was one less thing to do the day of the brunch.  Then the morning of the brunch, the cones were filled with fresh fruit:

If I were to make these again, I would get the bigger waffle cones so that I could fit more fruit in them.  I also had meant to make whipped cream and spoon them at the bottom of each cone, but I ran out of time. I think the whipped cream would have made them extra yummy.

I wish I had a better photo of the fruit cones from the brunch, but this was the only one I captured of all the cones stacked up:fruitcones

A special thank to my friend S who came to the brunch early and helped assemble these! With all the food we were frantically making that morning, these could not have been done without her help!

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My identical twin sister and I gave birth to our second daughters just 3 days apart in February. We originally had the exact same due date (imagine our shock when we found out!), but both of us were overdue and ended up being induced.  When we found out we were expecting at the same time, we were overjoyed!    Zoey and her cousin Rylie are 6 months apart, which we thought was really close in age, but now our second set of girls are just days apart.  This is the closest I’ll ever get to my dream of having twin girls!!  I call them our twinnies = twins + minis.

The only downside about giving birth to our daughters at the same time was that I didn’t get to meet my sister’s newborn and she didn’t get to meet mine until recently. We live 400 miles apart so I was really bummed that I didn’t get to be there for her birth and I had to wait 5 weeks to meet her daughter.  For my birthday this year, all I wanted was to meet little baby Averie, so I boarded a plane with 5 week old Skylar and off we went!  I was teary-eyed meeting my niece for the first time.  We finally were able to introduce the cousins to each other, too!

Here are our twinnies at 6 weeks old:


That’s Averie Hope on the left and Skylar Love on the right.  Even though they, in theory, share half the same genes, they look nothing alike and couldn’t be any more different in personality. Averie has so far shown to be the feistier, loud one while Skye tends to be a little more quiet and content. It’ll be interesting to watch them grow up and see how they interact with each other. I imagine Averie will be the vocal leader and Skye will happily follow.

How cute are their little bums?


My hope is that Averie and Skylar will become the best of friends as they grow up, just like their mommies.  My dream is that they will be each other’s biggest cheerleaders, celebrate each other’s triumphs, support each other through challenges that come and always be there for the other.   They already mastered crying together:


The beginning of a lifelong friendship.  Best buddies:twinnies5

Here is a picture of all four of our daughters on Easter:Easter

I’ve always wanted to be a mother to girls, so I feel like I am living my dream!  I foresee lots of tea parties, ballerina performances, dress up time and princess fun in our future! And thats how I like it!


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