what is inside our #disneyside @ home celebration box?

Our family was once again lucky enough to be selected to host a #DisneySide @Home Celebration which is wonderful because it always coincides with Miss L’s Birthday! This year, we decided to have some fun and unbox the items together to see what surprises were inside… take a look!

There’s going to be one heck of a great preschool Princess party happening at the end of February! Thank you #DisneyParks for letting us show our #DisneySide at home!


scenes from our farmer’s market in winter

I must admit that waking up early on a Sunday is really not my thing. If I’m honest, waking up really isn’t my thing. Sleeping really is. So getting out of bed on a Sunday is an incredibly daunting task, especially on cold & gloomy winter mornings.

But this past Sunday I coaxed myself awake and out the door in sub-40 degree weather and out to our Sunday Farmer’s Market in an effort to restock the kitchen for the week.


We’re extremely lucky because this Sacramento market is open year-round and is the largest certified market in California. And even on the gloomiest days, the piles of fresh veggies and fruits somehow makes you think that Spring/Summer is right around the corner. And yes… California grows strawberries year round (these folks drive 350 miles north to bring them in the winter).


Everyone has their own particular strategy about when and what to buy at the market. The cardinal rule is to go early (8am) if you’re looking to buy meat/seafood before the selection runs out. If we don’t “need” anything particular, I like to go around 10am, because that’s when the vendors start marking down their prices. If we get there any later, the Bavarian bakery will run out of pretzels and Miss L will be devastated.


This week’s seasonal spoils were pretty simple. Carrots, kiwi, clementines, blood oranges, lemons, avocados, kale & dates. [Have you seen the AMAZING date recipes in Martha Stewart Living this month?]

What are your favorite goodies from farmer’s market in the winter months?


the force was with us at the #rundisney #starwarshalf

The M Family travelled down to Orange County this weekend to partake in the inaugural runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon weekend.

Miss L was the first to race with her events on Saturday morning! It was her 4th runDisney kid’s race, but her first 200m event since she finally aged out of the 100m races!


Her ensemble? Princess Leia from “The Empire Strikes Back.” (I may have muttered a few bad words under my breath about the most recent haircut we got sabotaging my braids… but it stayed like this for 12 hours! WIN!)

As usual, she sped down the course with nothing but pure determination to finish on her agenda!

#StarWarsHalf #rundisney weekend

And she even passed up Han Solo on the way to the finish line!

This event’s race expo was extra special with some fun Star Wars touches on the merchandise as well.


Miss L got herself the most adorable new UCLA t-shirt, and I drooled over the options from the #TeamSparkle booth.

Did I forget to mention why this runDisney race was so special? Well, this time around, Mr. M decided to add “Half Marathon Finisher” to his list of personal accomplishments, so we ran our first race together!

#StarWarsHalf #rundisney weekend

It’s truly amazing how good people look at 5:30am before a race… I’m always so impressed! And the costumes… just look here for some of the best one’s out there from the course!

#StarWarsHalf #rundisney weekend 

Can you guess who we were (hint: Mr. M is missing his green buddy)??? I definitely never expected to walk around Disneyland in full gold lame spandex, let alone run 13.1 miles in it, but I did!

The course for this race wound its way through Disneyland and Disney California Adventure for the first 5 miles as usual, with lots of character photo-op’s along the way. Luke and Leia, Chewbacca, Stormtroopers, Star Wars Rebel’s Ezra & Sabine, Darth Vader and others lined the course in the parks and made the dark morning run fun!

#StarWarsHalf #rundisney weekend

My speedy BFF Auds caught up to us in Radiator Springs (she was taking ALL the photos) and we actually got a photo opp of the amazing sunrise! Seriously… if you think sunset is pretty in CarsLand, then sunrise is about 1000x as gorgeous!

#StarWarsHalf #rundisney weekend

We trotted through the streets of Anaheim and Garden Grove for the next 7 miles, then finally made our way to the finish line! We took a slow-steady pace, and minus a photo opp and bathroom break and med-tent stop here and there, we ended up quite happy with our overall finish time. Especially because we were back in the parks and playing by noon!

Which reminds me to give another “CONGRATULATIONS!” shout to Mr. M for really rocking his first half marathon (and his longest run ever) and still being able to walk today! It was definitely the perfect event to mark his first race ever!

The Star Wars Half Marathon was my 7th runDisney medal and 4th half marathon… and who knows when the next one will come! All I know is that it’s a blast seeing real friends & family on the course and in the parks and virtual friends online sharing in their success over the weekend and that no one puts on a race like runDisney!


The M Family Portrait

We haven’t had any family photo sessions. That’s pretty scandalous for a blogger to admit, but it’s true! Instead we just have all our snapshots and dSLR photos and wedding photos on the walls. I decided that I’d change that this year, but instead of opting for just another photograph, I decided to do something different.

A few years back, I had stumbled upon the magic of artist Gabby Zapata’s and her awesome portfolio and fallen in love with her artwork. I also fell in love with her senior thesis animated project, “Bubbles.”

Bubbles from gabriela zapata on Vimeo.

So I went ahead and inquired about a commission for Miss L’s “Hawaiian themed” room. I told her about her love of turtles and showed her photos of the room and of Miss L. And this is the pretty artwork that now hangs in her room:


In Miss L’s words, “This is from the time I went swimming with a turtle in Hawaii.”

So fast forward to this fall, and I decided to contact Gabby again about another commission. I had no idea if it was something she’d want to do, but I asked if she could do a family portrait for us.

Luckily she agreed, because I’m not sure who else would have been able to capture the M Family spirit quite like she did! MFamilyPortrait

Now we have the perfect family portrait to add to the walls and I’m oh so happy it’s not just a photograph! And a HUGE thanks Gabby for filling our house with such wonderful art!

family, sporty

scenes from the 2015 alamo bowl

January 2, 2015. The day my mom and I returned to Texas for yet another UCLA Football game. This time for a bowl game. It might not have been the national championship team that we all hoped for in August (go Oregon – #BackthePAC), it definitely became a team that we all loved a little too much. Perhaps it was the weekly reality show treatment courtesy of Pac-12 Network’s “The Drive” or just that we had so much fun at that game in Dallas?  No matter… we wanted to see them go out on top and beat Kansas State!

UCLA v Kansas State - 2015 Alamo Bowl

So back to Texas we went… this time to San Antonio. Where it was cold and rainy like it was in Dallas. To say I’m not sold on Texas weather would be an understatement. The folks from Kansas seemed warm at least, so they were happy to have driven south for a week.

This was the scene outside of the Alamo Bowl. They had all these great bands and stages and activities set up… but it was so miserably cold and wet that they barely had any fans hanging around. We spent the afternoon huddled under the Bruin Bash tent in coats and waited for the deluge to calm a little bit before making our way into the stadium.

UCLA v Kansas State - 2015 Alamo Bowl

This was the scene outside of the Alamo Bowl. They had all these great bands and stages and activities set up… but it was so miserably cold and wet that they barely had any fans hanging around. We spent the afternoon huddled under the Bruin Bash tent in coats and waited for the deluge to calm a little bit before making our way into the stadium.

UCLA v Kansas State - 2015 Alamo Bowl

Ah… yes… 70 degree warmth inside of a bowl! This makes me realize just how insane fans are in Buffalo and Green Bay, and how lucky those St. Louis, Indianapolis & Detroit fans truly are!

UCLA v Kansas State - 2015 Alamo Bowl

UCLA fans were outnumbered at least 20:1 in San Antonio over the weekend, but when we were out walking it seemed like 100:1. The running joke among UCLA fans was how many purple fans had remarked, “Wow! You’re the first UCLA fan I’ve seen!” No matter… we made sure that we represented well when we could. We were sitting in the last row, which meant I could stand up and yell for days with no one in my way. And with all of the 3rd downs and 4th downs we endured on defense, you might understand why I still have no voice a week later.

Our jubilant celebrations in the first half led to frightened heart attacks in the 2nd… but in the end we pulled out the victory to yet another 10 win season!

UCLA v Kansas State - 2015 Alamo Bowl

And even though our trip to San Antonio was short, we did get to partake in some of it’s loveliness outside of the game. We visited the Alamo, since it was literally 100 feet from our hotel (Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk).

We indulged in charbroiled oysters from LUKE (aka. one of New Orlean’s chef John Besh’s restaurant) during their killer happy hour… which may or may not be the last time I enjoy such amazingness due to my body’s not-so-awesome reaction the next morning….

UCLA v Kansas State - 2015 Alamo Bowl

And we took some leisurely strolls and a lovely boat ride down the Riverwalk in both the bitter cold and the pretty sunshine of our departure day.

UCLA v Kansas State - 2015 Alamo Bowl

UCLA v Kansas State - 2015 Alamo Bowl

San Antonio is definitely a great destination city for conventions/events… just hoping that it’s warmer the next time I stop by! And so ends 2014-15 UCLA Football… and our trips to Texas for the near future… great season Bruins and thanks for making us fans proud!