A look back: Labor Day weekend.

Like I said, I love holidays. All of them. I especially love them when we get out of town on a holiday weekend. My hubby needed some time off so we decided to see if we could go to the cabin for the long weekend. The “cabin” is his uncle’s vacation home (that he graciously lets us use) in Camp Connell. It’s a 3 bedroom – plus a loft – 2.5 bath home and is close to Bear Valley, Murphys and Arnold, three towns that I have fallen in love with. This is the fourth time I’ve been to the cabin. My hubby’s been going there since he was younger than Lyla. His uncle bought the land and the family built the home – isn’t that cool? It’s such a special place to him and is now very special to me, our family and my parents. They came with us on this trip and on my first trip. I think I’ll have to do an entire post on just the cabin because I could go on and on about it, and this is supposed to be about Labor Day. But, I love the cabin. I feel so blessed and grateful that his Uncle lets us use it. It’s good for the soul. Back to the weekend…

My hubby took the day off of work on Friday so we could leave as soon as Lyla got out of school. Another great thing about living in Tracy is that it’s much closer to the cabin. It usually took us about three, three and a half hours to get there from San Jose and our trip is now cut in half, awesome. John walked Lyla to school that morning and picked her up at her request. Its special for her Dad to take her since I do it every day and I love that they get to share that quality time. While Lyla was at school, John ran a couple of errands and I packed for all of us except for Lyla. She wanted to pick out what she wanted to take herself. This caused me slight anxiety because letting Lyla pack herself could take hours but with my supervision, it actually wasn’t all that bad. She tends to want to bring everything (I’m not sure where she gets that from…) and this time did great! Lyla gets out of school at 11:34 and we were crammed in the car and ready to go by 12:30.


We didn’t hit any traffic and only stopped once at the Darby Red Apple Ranch fruit and bakery stand. It was a tradition in my hubby’s family to stop here for cider, pie and apples and we’ve continued that tradition. We stop at least once or twice every time we go to the cabin. We usually take a picture there and I’m bummed because I forgot this time 😦 Here is a pic from our trip to the cabin in January. I can’t believe how little Lyla looks here and Sophie was only five weeks old (and sleeping in the car).


So if you ever go to Murphys, Arnold, Camp Connell or Bear Valley, you MUST stop here. I’m not kidding. Everything is amazing. We always get their cider (it’s unbelievable) and we always try their goodies. We’ve tried the apple donuts (out of this world), apple strudel (phenomenal) and the pies are to.die.for. Seriously, the apple pies are fresh and delicious and the best I’ve ever had. There is always so much to choose from and it all looks amazing, its hard not to want to try it all. They sell fresh fruit (apples of course), dried fruits and nuts, jams, flavored syrups and so much more including honey. I love their honey. It comes in a big jar and lasts forever. They had pumpkin butter that I wanted and I thought we’d be back but we forgot to stop on the way out. I’m so bummed because I love pumpkin and I really wanted to get some to try out in fall recipes. I really can’t say enough about this place and I’m not the only one who thinks its great, check out the Yelp reviews. It’s cute and quaint and just perfect. We wolfed down our donuts and popped open the cider in the car, I told you we loved it.

We got to the cabin, unpacked, checked out what we needed from the store for dinner/breakfast/snacks and headed back out again to the market in Arnold. Boy, you could tell it was a holiday weekend. I’d never seen that market so crowded. The hubs really wanted steak so we decided on filet mignon, prawns, roasted potatoes and I honestly cannot remember the vegetable, oops! The girls were just hanging out playing while the hubs prepared dinner. He made a killer filet, he is the king of the grill.

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My parents arrived the next morning at 11, and we had plans to head to the rec center to swim and relax by the pool for the day. Lyla is a fish and can swim forever. Born and raised in Florida, I could lay out by the pool all day long and not complain. Knowing that the pool would be crowded, we tried to get there right at noon when they opened. We probably got there by 12:15 and it was already packed. We had such a lovely day. Check out how gorgeous the pool is. The sky was a brilliant blue and there wasn’t a cloud to be seen. We soaked up the sun, swam and relaxed surrounded by the redwoods.



We decided to have dinner in Arnold at the Snowshoe Brewing Company. This is another one of our “cabin” traditions, I’m a sucker for a tradition. We stopped here on my first trip up and the relaxed atmosphere, yummy food and good beer keeps us coming back. They also have a little arcade area which helps to keep Lyla entertained. We knew it would be crowded so we got there early (right after 5) and we were seated right away. We had a great dinner and Sophie used a highchair in a restaurant for the first time! Big milestone 🙂

On Sunday John cooked up a big, hearty breakfast. Eggs, blueberry pancakes (don’t know why, but I’m been craving these big time lately) and bacon. It was delish. Lyla really wanted to go to Mercer Cavern (we took her there when we were at the cabin in the summertime and I was pregnant with Sophie) so we all got ready and headed to Murphys. Obviously we couldn’t take Sophie down into the cavern (you go sixteen stories into the earth!) so my parents took Lyla while John, Sophie and I headed to downtown Murphys.  I’ve been dying to check out the cute shops and restaurants in the downtown area. I’ve been there before, we ate at a pizza place once and we’ve driven through it many times but never really strolled along the main street. All of the shops and wine tasting rooms have caught my attention every time and today was the perfect day to check them out. Now my hubby isn’t really much of a “window shopper” but he played along at my request 🙂 The area was super busy and really hard to navigate with a stroller so we strapped Sophie in the Bjorn and got to walking. We strolled through several stores and eventually met up with my mom and decided to get some wine while we waited for my stepdad (he had to run back to the cavern – lost his phone!). We stopped at Zucca winery and it was so cute. There was a beautiful outdoor area with tables and fire pits and we set up camp there. It was terribly hot that day but we enjoyed ourselves like we usually do. We stopped for ice cream before heading back up to the cabin and ate it by the historic downtown Murphys Hotel. It is so cute and I am begging my hubby for an overnight trip there, I love this little town.

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After a quick breakfast and packing up, we decided to stop by the city of Columbia on the way out. It’s a state park that is a living gold rush town. John really wanted to take Lyla here and I love historic towns so this was a lot of fun. We stopped in all the little shops, Lyla made a candle and we sampled the homemade candy. This place was so cool. It was really hot that day so we didn’t last long and we had to get on the road but we definitely want to come back. There is so much to explore, there are even places to eat and drink wine, cha-ching, so  I know we’ll be back here on another one of our trips to the cabin.

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This was a great trip. But then again, every trip to the cabin is great. Both John & I agree that we feel so relaxed and rejuvenated after every trip. There is no cell service or Internet there so we truly “unplug” and its so nice to really get away from it all. Plus, Lyla just adores it. She gets so excited whenever we start to talk about a trip to the cabin, I love seeing her so happy, it’s truly is our happy place 🙂

Sophie Gray: Nine month update.

I can’t believe my sweet Sophie is already nine months. These months have flown by. I know its partly because we went through so many big life changes immediately after her birth but still, sigh, my baby is growing up way too fast for my liking. I absolutely love this age. Sophie makes me smile all day long and I literally count down the seconds until I hear her wake up in the morning. She has started to sleep through the night, most nights (hallelujah!) and is such a sweet-natured little baby. She is full-on crawling now and moves so fast. It’s so cute to watch her crawl, I could watch her all day long and I do, lol. She has really started to say our names, mama, dada and Lyla and I swear, hearing those words, its the most beautiful thing. I love seeing the interaction between her and Lyla, Lyla will dance all crazy just to make her smile and tells me, “mom I just love to see Sophie smile,” so sweet! We love our Sophie Gray so much!!


Weight/height: Sophie doesn’t see her pediatrician again until she is 12 months old so I’ll have to go with her 6 month weight/height, and because we don’t own a scale at home, I don’t know how much she weighs now! At 6 months (her appointment was back in July), she was 17 lbs, 1.7 oz, which puts her in the 62nd percentile. Her height was 2’3″ which puts her in the 81st percentile, girlfriend is growing! She was always smaller than Lyla when we compared percentiles but she is catching up.

Hair: Sophie has the craziest hair! I love it so, so much. It’s very fine, super light brown and sticks straight up. She has her Daddy’s hair. It’s really funny because when John gets out of the shower and doesn’t do his hair, it looks exactly like Sophie’s, it’s just too funny and super cute.

Diapers: Size 3 Huggies Little Movers and she needs em’ cause girlfriend is moving all over the place.

Clothing: Little Miss Sophie needs to go shopping. Her wardrobe is in desperate need of an update. I so badly want to buy her Fall clothes but its still pretty hot and I’m trying to hold off until the season starts to change a little bit more. She can still fit into her size 6 month dresses but is pretty much wearing 6-12 months in everything.

Favorite things: Right now, Sophie is really into the pretend fruit Lyla has in her little kitchen. She will crawl super fast from the kitchen all the way to the playroom just to get to the fruit. She takes it all out of the basket, puts each piece in her mouth, then puts its back in the basket and repeats this little sequence all over again. She also likes this small little baby doll we got her on a whim, she calls it mama.

Likes: Sophie loves to smile, hug and give kisses. They are big, wet and slobbery kisses but they are the best. Her, Lyla and I spent a solid five minutes giving each other kisses the other night, it was so fun. She loves peek-a-boo and playing with her sister.

Dislikes: Sophie no longer likes getting her diaper or clothes changed. It is really hard, no joke. She will not stay still at all. I used to be able to distract her and get it done but nothing works anymore. She wiggles and turns and tries to sit up, the girl needs to go. She hates being hot, especially when she is in her car seat. Sophie is really an easy-going girl, there is not much she dislikes.

Favorite foods: Frozen mango, applesauce, prunes (shocker!), blueberries, oatmeal, greek yogurt, smoothies, yes smoothies. I make a smoothie for Lyla and I everyday and Sophie just started grabbing for the straw one day and I let her try and she figured out how to drink it. She also loves chicken, carrots and sweet potatoes. She also loves Baby Mums Mums, the banana kind are her favorite and we just started to give her Gerber yogurt bites, which she loves as well.

Milestones: This girl is moving! Sophie crawls everywhere and pulls herself up on everything, which is amazing to see but also makes me hold my breath because, more often than not, she falls down. She can say mama, dada, Lyla, hi, hey very clearly and she uses the words correctly. Before she would just babble them but now she looks directly at you and says your name, its really sweet. She is on a great nap schedule and sticks to it most days. And as my child who doesn’t like to sleep at night, the fact that Sophie is now sleeping through the night, most nights, is a major cause for celebration, woo-hoo!

Reflections: I don’t know why but just seeing the word “reflections” makes me kind of emotional, okay I lied, really emotional. Sophie just makes me so happy. She has brought our entire family so much joy and watching her with Lyla, its hard to put into words how that makes me feel, but I am so happy to be their mother. Just like with Lyla, she makes me want to be a better person and everyday, I strive for that, to be the best version of myself I can be. I have good days and I have bad days but I have to say, the good far outweigh the bad. Even when I’m exhausted, I can still say, I am 100 percent happy with my life and where I am right now.

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Welcome Fall treats.

Today is the first day of Fall. That gets us really excited over here. Lyla has been jumping up and down talking about it for days. She knows this because she had to do a special Fall project to celebrate the turning of the season and because her mother likes to put pumpkins all over the house. All joking aside, we adore this season. The sights, the smells, the colors, we love Fall.

This idea was born after I made these amazing apple oatmeal bars last week. They came out so good and were so easy to make and I knew immediately that I wanted to share these with friends. I also knew immediately that I wanted to try and make them with pumpkin – they came out just as good. I thought these would be the perfect treat to hand out to my neighbors and Lyla’s teacher. Last night, while burning a pumpkin spice candle, I assembled my welcome Fall treats. I think they came out so cute and I just love doing projects like this. Easy, simple and, hopefully, well received.


The Internet is overflowing with adorable, free printables. Sometimes, most of the time, I have a hard time deciding which ones to use because they are all so darn cute. I am so thankful to the talented people who share these with the world. I knew I wanted use twine to tie a tag onto a bakery type box with the bars inside. I found these beautiful tags here. The colors and design fit my vision perfectly and they just screamed Fall, plus they said, “Welcome Fall,” … they couldn’t be more perfect.


I thought I would have to go to Michael’s for twine but I ended up finding some at Target in the dollar bins. How cool is that? I’ve never seen really crafty stuff in the bins but I found the twine along with several other cute, packaging type items like bags, labels and stickers. I bought some bags and other tags that I know I use in the future, maybe for Halloween treats?


Here are the pumpkin oatmeal bars. I cut them up into small squares and put two or three (depending on the size) into these white gift boxes. I’d been searching for bakery boxes in Tracy and hadn’t been able to find exactly what I was looking for. Sadly, there is no Container Store anywhere near me and that used to be my go to place for packaging. Luckily, I have the best mom in the world and she picked up and delivered these boxes to me, thanks mom!


I love how these turned out and I cannot wait to give them to our neighbors today.

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Happy Friday.

What a week. I spent most of it, well rather all of it, feeling awful. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I loathe being sick. I thrive and order, routine and a busy schedule and I hate that being sick changes all of that – I’m working on being more flexible. I also workout four to five (sometimes six) times a week and not being able to do that, puts me in a funk. I tried to listen to my husband’s advice and actually rest but today I am done with resting! I woke up for the first time this week feeling like myself again, just in time for the weekend, hallelujah!

Every Friday at Lyla’s school is school spirit day. We finally got her t-shirt from the school and she was really excited to wear it – she is proud to be an Art Freiler star! We had a little issue getting ready this morning. We picked out her star denim skirt last night to wear with her shirt today because her school logo is a star, well she decided this morning that she did not like the skirt and wanted to wear her other star skirt. I like the denim one better and tried to convince her to wear that but in the end, I let her wear what she wanted. I’m getting better at that too 🙂 Which one do you think looks better? Its hard to tell but the skirt in the second picture has small, silver stars on it. I also love that the Lyla has a pair of converse to match her new school t-shirt. They modeled the shirt after the converse logo.

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I haven’t run all week so I was itching to go today since I finally felt better. I recently started using the jogging stroller with Sophie and she loves it just like Lyla did. I love that, most of the time, running in the stroller puts the girls to sleep 🙂


I love that my girls get to enjoy my love of exercise with me. I really hope this gives them the foundation to love exercise like I do. Both of my parents passed that love down to me and I wish to do the same with them. Here they both are loving the jogging stroller. Lyla was just about the same age as Sophie in this collage, my sweet girls!

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Egg white scramble.

Back when I was training for a triathlon, this was my go to breakfast. Every Saturday, I would swim (really early) and bike, and would come home ravenous. I wanted something warm, satisfying and healthy, good fuel for my body. I am a creature of habit and would use spinach, tomato and cheese in my scramble every Saturday but you could add turkey sausage or bacon, broccoli and different types of cheeses to switch it up. I usually use whatever cheese is in my fridge and two to three egg whites. Lately, I’ve been reading about how great egg yolks are so I’ll leave in one or two yolks (like in the pictures below) along with the egg whites. I pair this with a slice of whole wheat toast or whole wheat tortilla (again whatever I have on hand) and breakfast or lunch, is served!






Weekend recap.

I picked a rather normal, uneventful weekend to do a recap of but you know what, sometimes that is what I love reading about most on other blogs, simple, ordinary, day-to-day life. My parents stayed with us the weekend prior and we went to Tracy’s Taste of the Valley festival and were pretty busy all weekend so we knew we wanted to take it easy this weekend. Sometimes those are the best weekends, the ones with no plans. Friday morning started out with my little baby looking way too big. I swear, the times goes by even faster with number two, what a sweetheart!


Friday afternoon, Lyla, Sophie and I headed to downtown Tracy. We had an amazing drink at this adorable coffee shop when we first moved here and I promised Lyla we would go back one day. When I walked out of my bedroom wearing a hat, Lyla said, “Oh, I’m going to wear my hat too so we can match,” um, heart melting! Hearing things like that makes me so happy. When I was little, I used to love to match my mom. I’ll be sad when these days are over. Here we are in our hats ready to head downtown.


My hubby took my car to work that day so we got to cruise around in his car, a Chevy Volt. It was my first time driving an electric, hybrid car and I was a little hesitant. Maybe I thought it would drive differently or something, I don’t know what it was but I was scared. Of course, there was no reason to be. I actually loved driving his car. I missed the space of mine (I have a GMC Terrain) but it was fast, zippy and used no gas, winning! Plus, it looked all futuristic inside.



Our first stop was Baristas.We discovered this place back in July when we went to the Farmers Market downtown and Lyla had to use the restroom. It was super hot that day so we ducked into the closest place we could find to use the restroom. We ended up ordering the best drink ever, the strawberry lemonade blended. We are loyal Starbucks customers and I mean loyal but we just love this place. It’s adorable and everything we’ve ever tried there has been really, really good. I love the feel of it, its got a good vibe and is decorated so cute. Lyla, of course, ordered her strawberry lemonade blended and I decided on a pumpkin caramel nut mocha blended. I never order these type of coffee drinks because I know they are typically very high in calories but I am so glad I did. This drink was amazing. I keep raving to my hubby that he has to try this place. I cannot wait to go back and try more items off the extensive menu. We’ve only tried the baked goods but the lunch food looks great as well.


We walked around downtown for a bit, stopping in a few of the stores there and browsing around. Lyla is the best window shopping buddy. She asked me to take her picture in what she called the “secret garden” – here she is. It was getting pretty hot so we decided to head home.


We made a quick stop at Safeway and Sophie was being her typical, smiley self. She has such a happy persona 🙂


Sometimes John gets home later on Friday nights so the girls and I went ahead and ate dinner. I snapped this pic and sent it to him to let him know his dinner was ready and waiting, nice and warm. I made balsamic chicken in the crock pot and it came out so good.

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Saturday morning came and Lyla, who started to complain of a sore throat on Friday, woke up feeling really sick as did I. It was such a bummer because we had plans to work around the house this weekend and I was in no shape to be doing that. We did go to Costco for the first time since we’ve lived in Tracy (exciting!) and I’m happy to report that it was barely crowded! Costcos in San Jose are notorious for being insanely crowded all the time, especially on the weekends and it was pretty crazy to see one that wasn’t that busy, especially on a Saturday. I love going to Costco. We aren’t regular Costco shoppers so when we do go, I love to browse around and go up and down every aisle, much to my hubby’s delight.


Sophie has only recently started to ride in the cart so it was really exciting to see both of my girls in the double cart – Lyla is smothering her sister as usual – lol.


Can anyone guess where we went to dinner on Saturday night? Does the picture below give you any hints?


Yep, Five Guys! I texted John on Thursday and said, I’m craving a cheeseburger bad and we are getting one this weekend. I knew that would  make my hubby happy because he loves burgers and I only eat them every so often. We eat very, very healthy during the week and I workout 4-5 times a week so when I crave a burger, I let myself enjoy one, everything in moderation is my motto. Boy was it good!



Saturday night I started to feel really sick and I hate being sick. I absolutely cannot stand it. I’m a go, go, go type of person and I don’t like it when I can’t do all the things I’m used to doing. I was also planning to go on a long, solo run Sunday morning and I was so bummed my throat starting to hurt really bad. Sophie also started showing the same symptoms as Lyla and she was not happy about it. She has never been sick in her eight months of life and she was just super fussy and had a hard time getting to sleep that night. We were all hanging out in our bedroom and Lyla asked me to take some pictures of her and her girl, her mini Lyla, in their matching pajamas. This made me smile even though I was feeling so bad.


Sophie slept horribly Saturday night and so did I. I woke up Sunday feeling like I had been hit by a truck so my plans of going on a long run and doing some yard work were replaced with sitting on the couch and trying to rest… kind of a hard thing to do when you have two kids. My sweet hubby went out to Jamba Juice to get smoothies for Lyla and I. Normally, I make smoothies for us almost every day but we were all out of frozen fruit and I was not in the mood to make anything. Thankfully my appetite returned around dinner time and John made an amazing meal. We had picked up the most beautiful piece of Halibut at Costco on Saturday and he prepared it just wonderfully.


So there you have it, our weekend recap! We were home a lot since the girls and I were sick and as I type this, I’m still sick and nowhere near feeling better. I hope to shake this virus soon!

The headband that made us scream.

Lyla’s favorite color used to be green. And boy was it her favorite. She loved green so of course, everything we bought her was green. I thought it was so cool since most little girls love pink but since she was old enough to talk, green has been her favorite color. This summer, she retired green as her favorite color. Ever other color except green was her new favorite but I’m happy to report that she has finally settled on purple. Purple is now her new favorite color so when we were shopping for new headbands on a couple weeks ago, I found a really cute purple one. We didn’t try it on in the store so we didn’t really know just how cute it was until we got home. Lyla put it on and we looked at each other and screamed, yes screamed. It was just so cute that it elicited pure joy from both of us. Of course we put it on Sophie and screamed again. It is a darling headband and I love that Lyla loves it so much.


DIY: Rustic Autumn wreath.

In my dreams, I am a DIY master crafter. In reality, I never really had the time to do any crafting so I usually relied on the amazingly talented people over at Etsy for my DIY masterpieces. Now that I’m no longer working a typical 9-5 job, I’m hoping to be able to devote more time to flexing my creative muscle and making my own decorations.

I like to have a wreath of some sort on the front door year round. Fall is my favorite season to decorate for, I adore pumpkins so much so that I had a pumpkin-themed baby shower for my second daughter, I will definitely do an entire post on that shower. It was so much fun to shop for and decorate. Back to the wreath… I knew I wanted to make some sort of Fall themed wreath and it had to have pumpkins. I had pinned a few ideas to Pinterest and had some ideas of my own but I went into Michaels open-minded to see if I would be inspired by what I saw that day.

It took me awhile of walking around, going back and forth, picking up and putting down but I ended up walking out with a pre-made twine wreath, two small flower arrangements with fall colors, feathers and pumpkins and one large sunflower. This wreath was super simple to put together and the best part is that the entire thing cost under $10. The wreath was $4.99, the sunflower under $1 and the two other small flower arrangements were under $2. I really love how it turned out. My front door is ready for Fall!


Open-faced banana sandwich.

I love peanut butter and bananas and honey on toast. It’s one of my go to breakfasts, sometimes I will eat that every morning for a week. I usually use raisin bread or I add raisins to plain bread if I happen to be out of raisin bread. I always toast the bread so the peanut butter gets all melty (I know that is not a word but it describes it perfectly), it’s so good!

One afternoon I was craving that warm peanut butter/banana combo but only wanted a light snack so the open-faced banana sandwich was born. I take a banana, slice it down the middle and spread peanut butter on both sides (fyi: I only buy Smart Balance peanut butter), then I add raisins and, because I really like texture, I added some Kashi Honey Almond flax cereal. Top it off with your favorite honey (ours is from the Red Apple Darby Ranch stand in Murphys) and voila – an open-faced peanut butter banana sandwich!

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Dress: Carters via Carters Store, Headband: Nordstrom. I figured since I did an OOTD post for both myself and Lyla, I had to do one for Sophie. Today, she picked out her own clothes. Some days I have an exact idea of what I want her to wear and others, I have no idea. On those days, I’ll hold her in front of her closet and let her pick (i.e. whatever she lunges for first) her own outfit. It’s great that she helps me out with these big decisions. She must have been in a dress mood today. This one is super cute. Its navy blue, cotton and a size six months (she is eight and it still fits, score!). What a doll!