Okay, I have to be totally honest here, how is it already Valentine’s Day? I swear we just put our Christmas tree away. Anyways, this last year holidays have meant so much more to us since Joey can finally be part of the festivities! I spent so much time trying to decide if Valentine’s Day was a “kid holiday”. We put such a huge emphasis on our significant other on this day but rarely let the kids partake in the excitement!
This year I decided we are going to start our first family Valentine’s Day traditions. I thought to myself I could bake Joey a cake, or maybe go do something fun, or perhaps fill her entire room with balloons (trust me I might still do this one). As I made my list of ideas I began to ask myself do people buy their kids gifts for Valentine’s Day too? Well, to my surprise this is a thing! Who knew?!
Once I found this out I stalked the internet for that perfect gift for our little Valentine. I thought I would share some of the amazing gift ideas I found along the way for the rest of the parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents that are stuck like I was.
When I was pregnant with Joey, all I remember was craving nothing but In-N-Out (and Taco Bell). It was so hard restraining myself from eating one of their burgers everyday. My go to is: a double-double, extra lettuce, extra tomatoes, whole grilled onions, extra toasted buns, no salt on the patty and dressing on the side. Augh, just writing this right now is making me want to go get one right now!
My friend Catherine and I did a Target Employee shoot together previously but we wanted to do an In-N-Out one together so this week we took our girls out for some burgers and fries. Joey’s first time trying In-N-Out! Can you tell that they both LOVED it??
You came here for the big news, right? Well before I share that I just want to thank each and every one of you for the last 5 months. We have met so many amazing people on this book tour so far and are sure to meet many more along the way!
I am so excited to share the latest details on our Book Tour! I have received so many messages about where we will be next. Well, I am thrilled to announce we will be traveling up the West Coast and couldn’t be happier because we love the Pacific Northwest!
Whole Foods Market is hosting us for FOUR more book signings!!! Grab your tickets now because they sell out very quickly (usually less than 24 hours). Tickets are only $12.95 and include a copy of my book Naptime With Joey, a Joey magnet, a tote bag other giveaways and some delicious snacks from Whole Foods Market.
So the moment you all have been waiting for! Here are my upcoming tour dates and links to buy tickets. Please be sure to read the FAQ on the link for your city to get all the exciting details! Click on the dates to take you the ticket page on Eventbrite! See you soon!
I’ve been trying to be better about feeding myself. Lately I’ve been just focused on cooking for Joey and then for some reason I’m not as hungry after she eats. Is anyone else like this?? Skipping meals is no good especially when you’re parenting and working all day and night. I found that when I do eat, it’s usually something really quick and not as healthy and I’m seeing the side effects of it already this year. I’m more tired and end up snacking on sweets more during the day.
So I decided to do something different this year and attempt (key word: ATTEMPT) to start eating more salads during the week. Now that a Whole Foods Market opened up close by and I’ve been traveling around the west coast to different WF markets and have been seeing all the amazing produce they have, I decided to do a series on salads. I’m going to start getting more fresh ingredients from my local WFM local store to make myself some delicious lunch salads to motivate me to eat better. I made this salad this week and I’m pretty proud of it because it has 13 ingredients! It was so good that Joey stole some of it when I wasn’t looking! I realize when I make my salads like this, all elaborate and beautiful to eat, it ends up motivating me to make more and eat more salads. Looks like Joey’s not the only one I like to dress up! 😉
I swear since becoming a mom my purse has been taken over by all things Joey! If you ever need an extra sock or a package of fruit snacks I’m your girl! For 2018 I vowed to myself I was going to take my purse back over. I recently came across Cuyana and was thrilled when I saw all of their amazing pieces to help me set this resolution in place.
As many of you know we have been doing a lot of traveling for the launch of my book Naptime With Joey. Well, with traveling so much came more and more of Joey’s stuff in my purse. I wanted to share with you the amazing pieces from Cuyana I got to help conquer the chaos of “the black hole”.
Travel Case Set– This was one of the most exciting pieces I have! When thinking about what was important to me when organizing my purse was all of the items I needed to store. I love the small case for items like my lip gloss, rollerball perfume and compact mirror. This has come in handy so many times (no more hunting for that small item). The larger bag as been vowed Joey’s bag. I have refused to have floating snacks in my bags from here on out. The Crumb Kings have spoken! It is perfect for a couple fruit snacks, an applesauce packet and a small toy to keep her busy.
Mini Jewelry Case– When we travel I don’t like to put my jewelry in my suitcase. In the past, I would throw everything in a Ziploc bag and toss it in my purse. If anyone has ever done this then you know exactly what happens. I would usually spend about 20 minutes untangling the mess I had created. This amazing case has solved this issue. I love the top strap to store all of my rings and earrings!
Oversized Carryall Tote– I have always been the girl that carries 2 purses. When I am out with Joey I toss my smaller bag into a tote. This bag fit the bill and the budget. I am secretly hoping I get the black one for Valentine’s Day (hint hint, Allen). On a serious note though, this bag is made so well. I am not one that is careful with my purses because the reality is I am usually more focused on Joey than I am if my purse is touching the ground. If you are a mom you have to take this bag for a test drive!
All in all, I cannot express my love for my Cuyana items more! The durability is top of the line and the fact that everything coordinates and matches makes me so happy. I cannot wait to add to my collection of their items. Here’s to a happy, healthy and hopefully organized 2018!
Have you guys finished your holiday gift shopping? Since so many of you have been asking what our current favorite things are, I thought I’d post them here to give you some gift ideas! Most of these items are favorite things of Joey who is currently almost 20 months old. I’ve also added a couple things for parents. 🙂
NAPTIME WITH JOEY BOOK:
I mean, c’mon. I have to throw this one in there because it’s kiiinda my book haha! No but actually I’ve been hearing they’ve been great gifts for expecting parents, grandparents, kids (they love the pictures and playing I-spy with them) and also for white elephant gift exchanges. You can buy them at most bookstores worldwide as well as through the links below:
OK, who wouldn’t want this? Joey LOVES music and singing so this was such a great thing to have especially when we went camping recently and she entertained everyone with Bruno Mars songs. Allen and I are big karaoke fans so it’s only natural that Joey inherited the same passion as well.
This toy was incredibly entertaining for Joey especially right after she turned one. We would take it everywhere (we still do!) on long car rides and airplane trips. These days, she been able to actually put the buckles together by color when she wasn’t able to do that. What I do from time to time is hide the toy for about a month and then bring it back so that it’s kinda like “new” to her again. I’ve watched her play with it in the car for about 20 minutes straight once! Trust me, if you’re looking for a “helpful” kid-friendly gift to give, GIVE THIS TOY.
UNCLE PAULS’ PLAYDESK: (for those who live in Southern California only)
I asked our dear friend who can build all kinds of amazing wooden structures to make us a play desk for Joey. This is what we came up with! There’s a magnetic board on it as well as a little cubby hole. The great thing about this is you can add whatever you want to it. Lately Joey loves to color with crayons so we just set up her paper and crayons on this desk so she could mark it up any way she wants. You can read my other blog post about how to order one by clicking here.
Joey loves watching me put on makeup and when she started reaching for my brushes and wanting to play with my makeup, I looked up pretend makeup toys and found this. I got it for our flight to San Francisco and it entertained her for a good 30 minutes! Some of my friends said that they bought it for their toddler for trips as well and that they it was the perfect entertainment for their kids too!
So many of you have asked about these flashcards that we’ve been going thru with Joey every day. We love them! What I love about these are the pictures are very simple and clear to identify. It says that it is from ages 1 and up but we started around 15 months because she was still chewing on everything. Mudpuppy who makes these cards also make other things like puzzles which Joey also loves to play with and also other types of cards.
I can’t say enough how much I love our Nugget Comfort. We have a play room for Joey where she likes to play with her toys, read books and lounge around and we had been looking for something just like this Nugget Comfort. It’s not only super comfortable to sit and lay on, you can move it around as it comes in four pieces. If you go to their website, you can see all the different ways you can set it up.
Joey is so interested in markers, crayons and pens but the bad thing about that is she obviously doesn’t know how to color in between lines and so it goes everywhere! She recently marked up our leather couch with a Sharpie! One of our dear fans gave us this at one of our book signings and Joey has been loving it. Best thing about it is, there is no ink involved. Only water! This was also something we brought with us on air plane rides and also when we go on playdates to someone’s house. The way it works is you fill the pen with water and you start coloring the pages and the drawings magically appear!
We have several of these now because we realized Joey can sit for a pretty long time by herself just putting these puzzles together. I couldn’t believe how quickly she learned how to put it together on her own without my help. It’s pretty amazing how kids absorb so much knowledge so quickly on their own. We love gifting this to our friends who have kids because it’s not messy or hard to clean up. I think it totally beats iPad sorting games!
This gift is obviously for the mamas and the papas. This is my go-to camera for all video related things. If you’ve seen the recent “Banana Talk” video on my Instagram, that was shot with this camera. I love that it auto-focuses and that it has a flip screen so that you can record in selfie-mode. This also has wi-fi tethering so that you can download the images and videos you shot right on your phone! This would make a great gift to someone who loves to take photos and videos all the time but don’t want to carry a big dSLR around all the time.
If you’ve been following my posts Instagram, you’ll know that I LOVE Easter Ahn’s jewelry line. I wear my custom Joey necklace, bracelet and earrings everyday. She also designed our wedding rings. I’m obviously a big fan of her work. Her pieces make the perfect gifts for your loved ones because they’re high quality real gold (comes in White, Yellow and Rose), they’ll last forever and you can personalize them with a name or initial(s)! Easter also does custom designs for all types of jewelry and can create gorgeous engagement/wedding rings.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll probably know that I love all things miniature. So when I was asked by the SoCal Honda Dealers to create a holiday DIY craft, I decided to try something I’ve always wanted to do: make a miniature winter landscape! I’ve seen many versions of this in mason jars, vases and even trifle bowls but I wanted to try one in a wooden lantern that I had laying around and use this opportunity to learn how to use polymer clay for the first time. After trying to make a miniature car out of clay, I now have a new found respect for artists who do this but in even smaller versions. It’s not easy but it’s not impossible either so you can try it out yourself!
The reason why I partnered up with the SoCal Honda Dealers to do this DIY project is because I love what they’re doing with their #RandomActsofHelpfulness campaign and wanted to spread the word. They have been doing random cool things like surprising families throughout the holiday season all over Southern California (OC, LA, Ventura, San Bernardino and Riverside counties) by just being helpful!
For instance, keep your eye open for the Helpful Guys in Blue who will be popping up at 4 different Christmas Tree lots across SoCal where they will be surprising families there with free Christmas trees. Also between now and Christmas, their tanker truck will surprise Honda drivers at gas stations across SoCal with free gas!
[This blog post is sponsored by the Southern California Honda Dealers]
Things you need: A decorative lantern. I got mine here.
I had these miniature trees and they were the perfect size for the lantern. I got mine from Michaels but you can find them here.
I took the glass from an unused photo frame to use as my workspace with the polymer clay. There are various types of polymer clay but the one I used was this one.
This was probably the hardest part of this whole project. It’s no joke trying to make something out of literally nothing! The polymer clay was easy to work with however as it ended up being very easy to mold and shape even after working at it for more than an hour. Yes…this took me an hour haha. Polymer clay remains workable until cured in the oven so you can keep using it until you’re ready to pop it in the oven. Even after you cure it, you can always add more of the polymer clay if you feel like adding more to it and then put it in the oven again.
When you’re done with your clay figurine, it’s time to cook! Depending on the size of your figurine, curing occurs at temperatures from between 265 °F (129 °C) to 275 °F (135 °C) for 15 minutes per 1⁄4 inch (6.4 mm) of thickness. You can use your home oven for this. I used my toaster oven and it worked fine! To avoid it from burning I added a foil tent to block. Doesn’t it look like a little car port? How cute is that little Honda decal? This is exactly why I love miniatures. It just tickles me how cute everything is in tiny form!
I used a copper wire string light that I received in a gift from one of our fans who included it with a Moana ornament for Joey (her favorite thing to play with right now! Thank you!). I used a velcro sticker to attach it to the top of the lantern.
Next I took some green felt, bunched it up and placed it on the bottom of the lantern. I then arranged a couple of the decorative trees on top of the felt.
Found these miniature gifts that literally made me squeal. They were the perfect size for the car!
I took the car out of oven, I let it sit in a pool of ice water before adding the presents on top.
Next I took fake snow powder and used a spoon to add to the landscape bit by bit.
I added the string lights to crowd to the top and left a few to run through the snow so that it would illuminate the ground as well. After Joey woke up from her nap, I asked her to help me add more snow into the landscape and she was more than willing! Love that we can now do projects together!
This is our favorite time of year because it’s the start of our favorite holidays beginning with Halloween. We love dressing up all year round but this month it’s socially acceptable haha. It’s also our favorite time of year because we get to feast on holidays foods and treats. This year Joey is old enough to take in part of the Halloween festivities with us such as trick-or-treating, however we decided not to indulge her with candy this year because if she’s anything like me, she will get HOOKED on candies. Might as well prolong the inevitable! So we decided to think of some alternatives for treats for her this year. Since Joey LOVES fruit, I thought it would be fun to get an Edible Arrangements full of cute fruit cut out and arranged in a bouquet. She loved it! There were some chocolate covered fruit but that went straight to my mouth.
In case you don’t have an Edible Arrangements store near you, here are some great ideas that I’ve been finding on blogs for candy alternatives for Halloween. We’ll be trying some of these treats for Joey this year!
I know Joey will LOVE these because tangerines are one of her favorite fruits. For these all you need are tangerines and celery stalks & leaves. Just take a pairing knife or use your fingers to remove the white membranes on the outside, wash and slide the celery stalks to fit in the middle and there you go! Not sure if Joey will eat the celery but there’s no hurt in trying!
This one cracked me up when I saw it because it just looked so easy! Why didn’t I think of that?? If you’ve seen Joey’s Banana Talk video, you’ll know how much she loves bananas. This one’s perfect for her! This one has a bit of chocolate chips but it’s pretty much just bananas. No pun intended.
If anyone has any more candy alternative ideas, comment below! I’m all for tricking kids into eating healthy snacks!
Still pinching myself because I can’t believe Naptime with Joey is about to be released on October 3rd! Book stores are already taking pre-orders for the book so I decided to do a giveaway to kick off the countdown to the release! At first I wanted to do a giveaway of Joey’s magnet and temporary tattoos but I decided it would be even more fun to include some of my favorite items that we’ve used as a family with Joey. It’s also a thank you to all of you for supporting and loving our family especially this past year. THANK YOU!
OK, so what am I giving away??
You will be getting:
A Walker Family Goods States duffel bag. We have two of these and we love using them from everything from day trips to long weekend holidays. The bags were created by my wedding videographers whose family I absolutely adore! They are all about encouraging families to go on trips and make memories which I’m all for. This bag is on backorder right now!
Cuddle + Kind Pearl the Mermaid Doll. Joey loves Pearl and often times naps with her during the day. I love what Cuddle + Kind does which is they provide 10 meals for each doll that is purchased (Through the World Food Program USA).
Rags to Raches rag. I love that these rags (they call them rags not rompers) have no snap buttons and are super stretchy and comfortable for your babies. It’s breathable and easy to play and sleep in comfortably.
Two bows by Blondes in Bows Joey wore these all the time especially on bad hair days! They’re absolutely adorable and we have Joey wear them often.
Mochi Kids Cactus tee. I am in love with Mochi Kids graphics. The ramen and this cactus one is currently my favorite!
Four Glitter & Spice teethers. Joey loved their teethers, especially their french fries one.
Iddy Biddy Baby tank and matching bloomers. I love how durable and soft their fabric is and also their gender neutral graphics. Joey practically lived in this outfit this whole summer.
Gathre diaper changing cover. I love how light it is to take around and also how cute they are! They’re also waterproof and super durable. They also make larger sizes so check them out for more items.
Sushi costume by The Wishing Elephant. Carolyn makes the most creative costumes for kids! I loved dressing Joey up in the sushi costume especially because my favorite food in the world is sushi!
The Mini Mat by EZPZ: It sticks to the table so it doesn’t move and this one can be easily taken with you when you’re on the go.
Host and Toast Muse Floating Letter Board: Something fun for the home!
Mini Love Letter Gold necklace from Easter Ahn Design (letter and color of your choice!) Easter designed our wedding bands and engagement ring and we LOVE her work. She makes the BEST quality jewelry! I have the Love Letter bracelet of the letter j for Joey that I never take off and I’m planning on passing it down to Joey when she’s older.
It Really Takes a Village Tote by Eunie Park. If you get my book, you’ll recognize her handwriting on this tote bag. Her hand lettering was used for Naptime With Joey. I absolutely love this tote bag. I take it everywhere I go!
Joey magnet and temporary tattoos created by my good friend Sarah Soh who is an AMAZING illustrator. Go check out her work here.
To enter the giveaway, please email us your receipt of your pre-order for Naptime With Joey. If you purchase more than 1, please send us your receipt indicating so and we will count additional entries for each book you purchase. You can email the receipt at hello/at/lauraiz.com or direct message us on Instagram. Winner will be chosen on September 7th, Allen’s birthday! Can’t wait to get these goodies out to the winner!
If you’ve been watching our Instagram Stories, you might’ve caught me feeding Joey some Miyeok Guk for lunch or dinner. It’s her absolutely favorite food. It’s so easy to make and is something she eats pretty often.
Miyeok Guk is a Korean seaweed soup which mothers eat postpartum for at least the first few weeks after giving birth because of its amazing health benefits. It helps with lactation/breastmilk supply and is known to be the best thing for mothers in recovery, at least in Korea. I ate this soup with rice for about 2 weeks straight along with a very simple no-salt/no fried diet (for a month) and I have to say it did make me feel like I was recovering quicker than I expected, I didn’t feel lethargic or tired like I thought I would be and I had a pretty good breastmilk supply by the end of the first week. It was tough being on a strict no-salt diet and eating this soup 3-4x a day for two weeks but I have friends who have done it for a month! The fish sauce has sodium in it so it was the only amount of sodium I had. Everything else I ate, for example, salmon, I had to only season with lemon. I will admit though that I feel strongly that it did help me with postpartum recovery, especially in the area of breast milk production. The Koreans started this postpartum tradition after they noticed centuries ago that whales would eat massive amounts of seaweed after giving birth to nurse their calves. I don’t know how much of that is true but that’s how the tradition started! Miyeok Guk is also known as Korean Birthday Soup and is commonly eaten during birthdays because of this tradition.
Miyeok/seaweed is actually a super food as it contains a great source of calcium, iodine, fibre, omega acids, vitamin B1 & B3, while low in calorie. It helps with metabolism, blood circulation and purification, constipation relief, detoxification, anti-carcinogen, anti-aging etc. No wonder the Koreans love this stuff!
There are many different variations of Miyeok Guk but since so many of you asked for my specific recipe that I use for Joey, here it is.
Ingredients: Yields 2-3 “Joey-servings”
Dried seaweed (You can find them at most Asian grocery stores) *Please note that this is not the same as the dried seaweed snacks. Those are already cooked, salted and ready to eat. The dried seaweed you want to get for this recipe is the one that is dried in its original state and it usually comes in a long packet like the one pictured below.
2.5 ounces of thinly sliced beef brisket or ground beef
4 cups of cold water for the soup / Extra water to soak dried seaweed in
1/2 tsp of minced garlic
1 tbsp of fish sauce
I like to use my Korean Stone Pot instead of my other cooking pots because it doesn’t leave a stain where the top of the soup is and it retains the heat longer than my stainless steel pots. In general I like to cook simple things like pasta and boiling water in my stainless steel pots as soups tend to leave odors behind. You can find a Korean Stone Pot here. You can cook Bibimbap in there as well, which is a fav Korean dish of mine.
Use your scissors to cut a handful of seaweed. FYI, a little bit dried seaweed goes a long way.
Soak the dried seaweed in cold water for at least 30 minutes. An hour is ideal. After 30 minutes, you’ll see the seaweed take its original shape.
When it’s ready, rinse the seaweed twice and drain. Squeeze to remove excess salt that was used in the drying process. Cut into bite sized pieces for your little one. You can always cut again after the soup is made.
Sauté the meat in your pot with a tiny bit of sesame oil. Again, a little bit of sesame oil goes a long way so use a very small amount. You can always a tiny bit more later if needed. Add the seaweed, minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce. Sauté for 5 minutes. If it starts to stick to the bottom, you can add a bit more oil.
Add the water, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a medium low and let simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes. Skim off any foam or oil that floats on top and serve with rice.
For Joey, I like to use this Seven Grain organic rice which includes brown rice, barley, millet, flax seed, wheat, red quinoa, and wild rice. I got these at Costco.
Sometimes I make a larger batch and keep several portions in the freezer so I can whip them out if I’m pressed for time for a meal prep. The regular version of this recipe is a little different as most people use soy sauce but I prefer the flavor of the fish sauce far more better. You can also substitute the beef with chicken, shiitake mushrooms, abalone or mussels. You can add tofu if you’d like as well! It’s a super healthy dish and hopefully your little ones will love it as much as Joey does!
About Laura Iz
Hi, I'm Laura Izumikawa. I'm a stay-at-home-working-mama to Joey and wife to the funniest guy I know. My photos of my napping daughter dressed up as pop culture icons became viral one day and now I blog about our lives because it turns out, people want to know more about us which is totally crazy to me! Thanks for visiting!
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