My Favorite Hispanic Recipes

Hola amigos! Today marks the end of Hispanic Heritage Month. I hope you’ve had a good one!

Today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite Hispanic influenced recipes NOT from this blog. Some are traditional recipes & some are more like Tex-Mex or fusion like.

My Favorite Hispanic Recipes - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Food brings people together & introducing people to new flavors is a great way to introduce them to new cultures.

¡Buen provecho!

  1. Mexican Corn Dip from Well Plated – It’s like elote, but in dip form & not too heavy because of a few sneaky swaps! I made it for my mother in law, who loves all things corn, for her birthday & the whole family loved it.
  2. Black Bean Avocado Salad from Nancy C. – I make this often! Y’all know how I feel about tomatoes & this salsa-like salad checks all of the flavor boxes WITHOUT any tomatoes!
  3. Vaca Frita from Fabulous Fare Sisters – Vaca Frita is my favorite thing to order at Cuban restaurants, but you can totally make it at home! I’m making this tonight with some white rice & maduros.
  4. White Chicken Enchiladas from Joyful Momma’s Kitchen – Green chile & I are BFFs. This recipe, while not super authentically Mexican, delivers on the green chile front! This is one of the first foods I cooked for my husband while we were dating <3. It’s still a favorite!
  5. Churro Truffles from Pizzazzerie – For when you want that churro flavor without the choux pastry & deep frying.
  6. Merenguitos (Cuban meringue cookies) from Three Guys From Miami – This blog includes 2 authentic Cuban merenguitos recipes. Personally I only ever use the first one – sugar & NO cream of tartar. I love merenguitos that are super crunchy on the outside but still just the tiniest bit chewy on the inside. Yummmm!

What are your favorites from around the internet?

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Roasted Red Pepper Pico De Gallo

Confession time: I love pico de gallo.

If you know me, that might come as a surprise, seeing as how I HATE tomatoes.

Ok, wait, double confession time: I love the taste of pico de gallo, but I avoid eating the chunks for tomato reasons. It’s one of those times in my life that I really wish I liked tomatoes, because that limey cilantroy oniony juice is just wonderful. I usually dunk my chips in it like you’d dunk biscotti in coffee, or pour some of the juice on fajitas & tacos.

Obviously since the main ingredient is tomato I’ve never made my own pico before. If only there was something I could substitute for tomato while still capturing the essence of pico de gallo…

No Tomato Roasted Red Pepper Pico De Gallo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

I don’t even remember how, but I got the idea to try pico with red peppers instead of tomatoes. Guys, it came out AWESOME. It even LOOKS like pico de gallo.

Roasted red peppers have their own distinct taste, so this doesn’t taste quite like traditional pico de gallo (which means rooster’s beak just FYI – no one knows why we call it that). You can definitely taste the peppers, but you also get that limey cilantroy oniony flavor I was searching for. The roasted red peppers are soft & liquidy enough to be the perfect replacement to the offensive tomatoes.

No Tomato Roasted Red Pepper Pico De Gallo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

By the way, I roasted the red peppers in the crock pot! I got the method from COOKtheSTORY. The skin comes right off. For tricky spots I just hold the skin down on the cutting board with one hand & use the other hand to slide my thumb up the skin, separating the fleshy pepper. I’m sure jarred roasted peppers would work just as well for this recipe if making your own isn’t your thing!

I put a whole jalapeño in this, but it wasn’t spicy like at all. The heat in a pepper mostly comes from the pith/ribs, so thoroughly removing these parts drastically cuts the heat while still giving you the yummy flavor. If you like it hot, feel free to keep it all in or add some more!

No Tomato Roasted Red Pepper Pico De Gallo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

I can tell you from experience that this stuff is awesome on tacos and chips. What else would you put it on?

Roasted Red Pepper Pico De Gallo

  • 5 roasted & peeled red peppers, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (seeded & ribs removed for less heat)
  • 1/2 lime for juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 tsp Cuban seasoning (or just some cumin, garlic powder, & black pepper)
  • salt to taste
  1. Add all ingredients to a bowl & stir to thoroughly combine.
  2. Refrigerate for 3 hours. Stir again & taste for salt. Add more if necessary.
  3. Serve & enjoy!

 

Cuban Seasoning Mix

We all have those smells that take us back to our childhood homes. Sometimes it’s something like perfume or something in nature like trees or flowers. A lot of the time I believe it’s food. This seasoning smells like home to me.

Cuban Seasoning Mix - Mrs. Dessert Monster

For me, Cuban seasoning should be heavy on two spices: garlic & cumin. Cumin, comino en Español, was brought to Cuba by the Spanish. It is native to the Middle East. In researching, I learned that cumin is mentioned in the Bible! (See Isaiah 28:25-27)

I rarely ever measure out spices when I’m in the kitchen & usually just sprinkle away at my heart’s content. However, I am a big fan of these “all in one” type seasoning mixes. I make my own chili powder with this recipe I found on Pinterest! Since I appreciate that recipe so much, I sat down & developed my own Cuban mix to share during Hispanic Heritage Month.

This is different from the Sazón packets you see in stores. Those are fantastic! They typically have achiote/annato for coloring & contain cilantro. This is not a copy-cat of that, but can be used pretty much the same way.

I’m using about 2 tbsp of this stuff on some chicken thighs for dinner tonight. You can use it on any protein, or even meatless dishes!

Cuban Seasoning Mix

Makes about 8 tbsp

  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  1. Mix all spices thoroughly in a bowl. Store seasoning mix in a dry place.

For scaling up/down: 1 tbsp = 3 tsp, 4 tbsp = 1/4 cup

Fall Pumpkin Toddler Craft

If you’ve seen my post about toddler cards, you know that this mami doesn’t want to put a lot of work into a craft that’s supposed to be done by a toddler. So when I saw a cute little fabric pumpkin at Target I thought to myself, “this would be perfect for Cupcake to decorate – with minimal help from me!”

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I love this project because it is good for almost all toddler development stages & even older! Toddlers (ages 1-3) run the gamut from just starting to walk to almost ready to read, but if your kid can hold a marker, they can decorate a small pumpkin. It doesn’t even have to be a fabric one like this – it can be a craft pumpkin or even a small real one! Just use an appropriate type of marker for whatever the surface of your pumpkin is.

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Cupcake had so much fun coloring all over her pumpkin. She loves when I let her play with markers. She particularly enjoys putting the caps back on.

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You’ll notice I gave her permanent and dry erase markers (which won’t wipe off since this pumpkin’s fabric). Her washable markers are still in some box around here…

The bright side is that her art work is permanent! 😉

The only input I had was giving her the markers one by one & pointing out white places on the pumpkin for her to color on some more. After she was done, I took that permanent marker & wrote her name & the date. Then we went outside for a little photo shoot!

You can kind of see that the leaves are actually changing color around here! Just a few more weeks until cooler temperatures in Georgia. As a Floridian, I am nervous & excited!

This cute little pumpkin is going on our bookshelf. Having just moved, I wasn’t going to pull out much of the fall stuff we have stored in the garage. I’m happy to have a little pumpkin flare around the apartment & it’s extra special that it was made by my daughter.

Fall Pumpkin Toddler Craft

  • small pumpkin (fabric, craft, or real!)
  • markers (I suggest fall colors like green, brown, and orange, but if you want a rainbow pumpkin that sounds fun, too!)
  • adorable toddler
  1. Supervise your toddler while they color on the pumpkin.
  2. When they’re done, write their name on it if you’d like. Done!

30!

Happy 30th birthday to ME!

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I’ve pretty much been celebrating all month long. You only turn 30 once!

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My golden year was pretty amazing. My husband & I did something we’ve been talking about pretty much since we got married (almost 4 years ago, can you believe it?!?). We moved out of South Florida. It happened super fast, too. It was like “Hey, we’re thinking about moving. Hey, we’re gonna move. Hey, we moved.” It was about 2 months from our scouting trip to our move in date. We had been praying about the decision for months & when it was finally go time it was GO GO GO! Only God could have orchestrated such a smooth move for us. My husband is thriving in his new job & we are getting settled nicely.

There were other changes that occurred between last September & this one, but in all of that here’s how I did with my goals:

  1. Read the Bible regularly. – Ok, this one never gets crossed off. I have been doing better & it’s only made me want to do it more. 1) I completed my first year of BSF with the study of Romans & now I am hooked. Cupcake loves the kids’ program, too! Transferring to a BSF group in Georgia was the first thing I did after we secured an apartment. It’s been a great way to get plugged in & meet some people, too! 2) the YouVersion Bible app is amazing. I have done several of their reading plans & turned on notifications for the verse of the day. My favorite feature is the ‘compare’ feature: you can see the same verses in different bible translations, even different languages! 3) I am slowly doing the Becoming MomStrong Bible study. (It was supposed to be an over the summer thing, but, you know. Life.)
  2. Volunteer. – Habitat For Humanity Project June 16!1536245758545.jpg
  3. Lose weight. – Goes hand in hand with #4
  4. Get more serious about fitness. – In June I finally started eating better & exercising 3-5x a week. Instead of going hard & getting quickly burnt out, I aimed to break a sweat for at least 10 minutes a day & focus on strength training for muscles instead of calorie burning cardio. I took a pause from working out while we were moving, but after settling a bit I got back on the wagon & I am happy to report that I have lost 15 lbs! I did this totally at home with no gym membership or equipment using a combination of My Fitness Pal for calorie counting & Fitness Blender for workout videos! (not a sponsored post – I just really enjoy their website!)
  5. Make Spanish more of a priority at home. – This one is also a permanent goal. My husband has been such a great supporter of this. His Spanish is improving as he tries to speak mostly Spanish to Cupcake. It warms my corazon ❤
  6. Throw a fancy dinner party.
  7. Go to a gun range. – I didn’t go to a range, but I did get to shoot guns at a family member’s hunting camp in Alabama over Labor Day Weekend. Half credit?
  8. Go to local high school football games.
  9. Read more books. – Read: Talking As Fast As I Can , Out Of The Silent Planet, Perelandra. In progress: IT, That Hideous Strength, Becoming MomStrong, Dad Is Fat.
  10. Learn a (simple) new make up look.
  11. Get more serious about my book business.
  12. Paint more.  – Some of these watercolors also turned into #28: a letter to a friend! I have enjoyed getting in to watercolors & doing some of the challenges on Instagram. It has really stretched me as an artist!  

  13. Build something with my hands.
  14. Donate blood.  Feb 19 – After the shooting at MSD in Parkland. 1536245942479.jpg
  15. Grow my hair long (& healthy) to donate. 12 inchesJune 14th!  

  16. Visit a new city in Florida. – I did TWO! Dec 19: Anniversary trip to Mt. Dora, FL. Jun 29: visited friends near Amelia Island, FL.
  17. Fast.
  18. Pay for someone else’s coffee.
  19. Send a care package to a soldier.
  20. Bake a soufflé. – First I think I should EAT a souffle to see what it’s all about!
  21. Be more intentional about making new friends. – Having just moved to a completely new area, I am definitely focusing on this one now!
  22. Hand make (most) Christmas presents this year. Check!
  23. Pay off debt. – This is the first thing we will do once the sale of our house closes.
  24. Go on a painting/cooking/activity date with my husband. Check!
  25. Go see more local shows/events.
  26. Go to one of the Orlando theme parks. – April 21 – we went to Universal Studios with our moms! Despite the look on her face in this picture, my niece had a great time. 10 minutes after this picture was taken she yelled “THAT WAS AWESOME!”1536247053431.jpg
  27. Work on knife & butchery skills.
  28. Write more letters to friends. – Could have been better, but I’ve sent friends a few cards that I watercolor!
  29. Grow in my relationship with God. – Another one that never gets crossed off. I am excited to go into my 30’s as a dedicated Christ follower. I am working hard to choose joy & be the light. I complain too much and my tongue gets away from me way too often. But I can feel the Father, Son, & Spirit working on me!


I really enjoyed having these goals for the past year. Sometime along the way I also made a vision board for our family. I’m looking forward to setting more personal & family goals for 2019.

Bring it on 30’s!

PS: I made that cute belly badge I’m wearing in the first pictures with my awesome new Cricut! My husband totally surprised me with it. I’m already starting to work on Christmas crafts!!!!

Pastelitos De Guayaba

In South Florida pretty much all of the grocery stores with a bakery have an assortment of Hispanic pastries/baked goods. Empanadas, arepas, and of course, pastelitos.

Pastelitos are Cuban pastries with various fillings. They can be sweet or savory. Today I’m sharing with you the king of all sweet pastelitos – pastelito de guayaba.

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This pastelito is filled with guava paste, which is a very sweet, very thick guava reduction. It is absolutely one of my favorite things. I’ve briefly shared about it before in a couple of recipes.

In this recipe, guava paste is the star. Pastelitos de guayaba (the Spanish word for guava, as you may have guessed) come in two forms – con queso y sin queso. The combination of guava paste & cheese is truly wonderful. Any cheese will do, but for pastelitos it’s cream cheese. The two flavors melt and marry beautifully in the puff pastry. If cheese isn’t your thing, that’s OK. Just stick with the guava.

Thanks to the wonder that is frozen puff pastry, this recipe is ridiculously simple. I don’t make it often because it’s kind of a calorie bomb, but it’s worth every single one.

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To make a dozen pastelitos, cut the guava paste brick into 12 slices. I usually cut in into quarters & then each quarter into 3 pieces. Then lay the guava slices on to the puff pastry sheet, using the folds as natural dividers. For this batch I put cream cheese on half of them.

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Top with the other sheet of puff pastry, cut into 12 squares that each contain a guava slice, & score the top. Then brush with an egg wash to get that nice golden color.

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These pastries are so flaky and delicious. Cuban people would call this breakfast, but this makes a great dessert, too. Basically good for any occasion, any time of day! Pastelitos are delicious warm or cold, but you definitely want them to cool for a few minutes after coming out of the oven. Hot guava = lava. Hey, that rhymes! These can be a little messy between the flaky crust and warm, gooey guava. You’ll definitely be licking your fingers!

Now that I don’t live in South Florida anymore I might be making these more often. If your local grocery store bakery doesn’t offer pastelitos, now you know how to make your own!

¡Buen provecho!

Pastelitos De Guayaba

Makes 1 dozen pastries

  • 1 package frozen puff pastry
  • 1 brick of guava paste (approx. 14 oz)
  • cream cheese (optional)
  • 1 egg for wash
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Thaw the puff pastry according to package directions. You want it thawed enough to unfold without cracking, but not soft.
  2. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry on to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  3. Cut guava paste into 12 slices. Place 4 slices per pastry sheet fold to get your 12 servings. If adding cream cheese, place 1 tbsp (or slice of the same length as guava slice) on top of guava.
  4. Unfold the second puff pastry sheet and place it over the one with the guava paste. Cut into 12 squares and score the tops of each.
  5. Brush egg wash on each square. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Can be enjoyed warm or cold.
Nutritional info (with cream cheese): 307 cal, 44 g carbs, 13.5g fat, 4 g protein

Classic Cuban Flan

Deciding what recipe to share with you this week for Hispanic Heritage Month inspired me to make something that I have not made in ages: flan.

classic Cuban flan pressure cooker flanera Mrs. Dessert Monster

What is flan? Flan is a delicious cooked custard. There really is nothing like it in my opinion. It can be very hard to describe. When done correctly, the texture is light and dense at the same time while being totally smooth; truly one of a kind. The caramel on top is just as important as the custard. Flan can be many different flavors. This here is the OG flan.

Every Latin country has their own flan recipe. Actually, it probably even varies family to family! This is my family’s recipe.

classic Cuban flan pressure cooker flanera Mrs. Dessert Monster

I made my family’s classic Cuban flan the old fashioned way – in the pressure cooker.

classic Cuban flan pressure cooker flanera Mrs. Dessert Monster

Hisssssssss

We’ve never made it any other way. There are other recipes out there for making it in the oven. This recipe is staying true to my roots & embracing the scary pressure cooker. There really isn’t anything to be scared of. I bought this one like 10 years ago & it has a sensor that WILL NOT allow you to open it if it’s still pressurized. It’s pretty fail safe. The hissing sound it makes really takes me back to my childhood. I introduced Cupcake to that sound today – she wasn’t a huge fan. Yet.

You CAN make this recipe using an InstaPot, or so I have read. I have zero experience using one, so I’m not sure what the conversion would be. It took me many years to embrace the CrockPot, so I think it’ll be another while before I can embrace the InstaPot.

The other item you need to make this recipe the traditional way is a flanera.

flanera flan Mrs. Dessert Monster

I just bought this one off Amazon (not affiliate link, just sharing!). It’s actually a little sad I didn’t already have one, but I really haven’t made flan in ages! Siglos, as my mom said. The locking lid prevents water from getting in to it. Again, there are other recipes that omit this equipment, even using a pressure cooker or InstaPot. For me, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I’m not messing with success & proven results!

This recipe and this cooking method is a part of my heritage. Sure, there are other times I totally embrace different ways of making classic recipes. Or even just outright buy my favorite Cuban foods. No one I know makes their own croquetas anymore, thanks to Goya. But this flan is special. And special equipment aside, it’s pretty simple to make.

classic Cuban flan pressure cooker flanera Mrs. Dessert Monster

Back when I did make this flan more often, I quickly jotted down my mom’s recipe one day. You can totally tell English is my heart language, even though Spanish was my first language. Since it’s been a while I called her to clarify & wrote down the instructions more clearly for all of us.

Classic Cuban Flan

  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • ~1 cup milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  1. Pour sweetened condensed milk into a large mixing bowl. Take the now empty can of sweetened condensed milk & fill it with milk (it’s approximately 1 cup, but doing it this way ensures you have equal parts by volume milk & sweetened condensed milk).
  2. Add eggs & vanilla to bowl. Mix thoroughly using electric mixer or by hand with a whisk. Set aside.
  3. To make caramel, pour 1 cup of sugar into medium saucepan. Melt until a light golden liquid caramel forms. Carefully pour caramel into flanera, using oven mitts to turn the flanera to cover the sides with caramel.
  4. Strain the egg custard mix into the flanera with caramel. Close the latches.
  5. Place flanera into pressure cooker. Fill with water until just below lid of flanera (this was less than 2 cups for me, just to give you an idea). Do not fill too high. Close pressure cooker properly. TIP FROM MY MAMI: when using an electric stove top, you may want to use a metal or foil ring to prevent flanera from being in direct contact with the heating element. I have a gas stove so I did not do this step.
  6. Turn the stove on medium heat. When the pressure cooker begins to hiss, cook for 30 more minutes, then turn off heat. Allow pressure cooker to fully depressurize before opening. I usually leave it for about an hour. Take flanera out & put into fridge for 1-4 hours.
  7. When ready to serve, open flanera. Take your serving dish, invert it over flanera & flip flan out. You want a serving dish with some sort of edge so you don’t lose all that precious caramel! Cut into slices & spoon residual caramel over top.
Nutritional info, based on 12 servings: 200 calories, 32 g sugar, 5.8 g protein, 5.1 g fat

Hispanic Heritage Month

¡Hola amigos! Today marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month!

Hispanic Heritage Month goes from 9/15 – 10/15. I’ve always said that Hispanics are so extra that they couldn’t just pick a calendar month – hahaha, I mean, jajaja! I actually just recently learned (thanks to a post by Spanish Mama) the reason behind the dates. It was first National Hispanic Heritage Week starting in 1968 under President Johnson. It was designated as the week to include 9/15 & 9/16 because several Latin American countries celebrate their Independence Days then. In 1988 President Reagan made it a whole month.

That means that Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrating its 30th birthday this year, too!

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Maybe it’s being in Atlanta away from the Caribbean bubble of South Florida, maybe it’s missing my Mami, or maybe it’s the fact that Cupcake looked at me the other day & said “I don’t want any more” instead of “no mas”😳, but I want this Hispanic Heritage Month to mean a little more to us as a family. Usually it’s like October 3rd (another important date, lol) before I’m like ‘oh wait, isn’t it HHM?’

So let’s have some fun this year. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite Latin recipes this month & invite you to share yours with me!

¡Hasta la próxima!

 

My Gratitude Journal

We just recently moved to Atlanta & decided to rent an apartment for a year before trying to buy a house. It is the best decision for us right now, but living in an apartment after several years of home ownership is hard.

 The water pressure is terrible. There’s carpet everywhere (not great for toddlers or pets!). The kitchen countertops are this ugly material that is hard to clean. We have this weird humidity issue happening. And don’t get my dad started on the stairs!

I could go on, but I won’t.

Instead, I am choosing to focus on the things that I am loving about this apartment. Instead of just surviving here for the next year or so until we buy a house, I am choosing to thrive here. Instead of grinning and bearing and wishing this year to go by quickly, I am going to make the best of it.

I have realized that this year of apartment living matters. There is a window above the kitchen sink & I can see the leaves changing colors for Fall. The views in general are actually quite nice here. My husband is actually enjoying his commute from here. Cupcake is going to turn 2 here. Depending on how long we’re here, we might even have another baby here! I won’t wish this away.

God has put me right here, right now, for His glory.

I’m going to try something new. When something is majorly bothering me, instead of complaining, I will aim to come up with 10 things that I like about it. 10 things that I am grateful for. I will try to realize just how privileged & undeserving I am of all of the things that I have. I will strive to thank the Lord for blessing me.

What’s something that is bothering you in your life? What are you most complaining about right now? Will you join me in making a gratitude journal about it?

My Gratitude Journal

Atlanta Apartment List, in no particular order

  1. 3 bedrooms
  2. Gas stove!
  3. Large laundry room
  4. Garage that I will actually use to park my car
  5. Large walk in closet
  6. Deck with a sliding door
  7. Our bedroom fits our new king size bed
  8. Good storage space
  9. Dog friendly
  10. The view of the leaves changing from our kitchen window

Gratitude Journal Mrs. Dessert Monster

 

 

Cupcake’s Nursery

When we first moved in to our house, the second bedroom was affectionately called Phase 2. As in the second phase of unpacking/renovating. It remained that way until about my 4th month of pregnancy – 1.5 years later!

That’s when it officially became Cupcake’s nursery.

Ever since completing the nursery & bringing Cupcake home from the hospital, I’ve been meaning to write this post & share it with y’all. So here it is – almost 2 years later, after we moved out of this house.

That’s right, we have left the Sunshine state & moved to the Peach state! We are now officially Atlanta residents (OTP, for those of you in the know). After decades of living in South Florida, we moved north to move to The South.

Before we moved, I was finally able to have the room look organized enough to take photos. What I mean is that her room did NOT look like this on a daily basis – not even close! But I wanted to preserve the memory of her first room in its best state.

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We decided on teal/aqua, yellow, & pink for her room colors. The color on the wall is Aqua Wish, in case you are wondering!

Cupcake’s favorite corner was this one with her book shelf & glider.

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How many Usborne & Kane Miller books can you spot?

Here’s a prime example of why I say her room never really looked this organized!

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This room & this house will always hold a special place in our hearts. It’s the first home Cupcake knew outside my body.

We’re looking forward to decorating her new room in our apartment. And now we have a new ‘Phase 2’ in the 3rd bedroom!