Current faves: Birthday, holiday events, gifts and weekly workouts

Hi, friends! How was your week? Did you celebrate Christmas? Are you ready for the new year? What day is it right now in this strange between Christmas and New Years week? 🙂

Although I’ve been over on Instagram and Facebook checking in, since we last spoke here, I turned another year older and we celebrated Christmas — all of the festivities in a few short days. I know a lot of you are probably enjoying time off and may not be reading blogs, but I didn’t want to miss a chance to pop in to say hello and catch up in our usual Friday fashion! So you’re going to see a collection of favorites, which are mostly holiday related …


Brunch, spa and family fun

My birthday was such a nice day! Dave and Brady and I went out to brunch (which is something we never do for some reason), and I had a delicious veggie omelet with potatoes, sourdough toast, beet juice and a few bites of a pancake we split and shared with Brady too, all at American Kitchen in Lafayette (super cute and casual place).

Brady at brunch by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

Birthday brunch by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

Birthday brunch at American Kitchen by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

After brunch, I dropped the boys off at home and went to downtown Walnut Creek to the Woodhouse Spa, a place I really love going.

Funny enough, Dave had originally made some appointments for me on my birthday as a surprise, and they mistakenly sent me an email confirmation directly a week in advance and ruined the surprise. After that, we actually ended up moving some things around, so I only did the one service on my actual birthday, and it was luxuriously relaxing.

Outside birthday brunch at American Kitchen by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

(Here is the fuzzy top I’m wearing, which is well-priced and brand new.)

I spent a decent amount of time lounging in the quiet room of the spa after my service, which was also magical.

When I got home, Brady was just waking up from his nap, so we turned around and headed back out to the Tilden Park Steam Train. If you remember, a couple of weekends ago, we took Brady to the Tilden Park Merry-go-round, and so the steam train is just another cute attraction for families in the park we needed to try. You pay $3 a person (Brady is free) and ride on a real steam train around the mountain-ness-tree-covered park, with lots of Christmas decor, and even some vistas of the valley.

Tilden Park Steam Train by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

It was pretty chilly that day and it was misting (a common Bay Area term for light dewy moisture in your face in the air), so we bundled him up and his little nose got red instantly hehehe — also he seemed a little bit nervous, but also alert.

I really enjoyed riding on the train, and the ride was much longer than I expected too. It was also full, with lots of families with kids Brady’s age doing the same thing. I love that we have cute things like this to do nearby. And I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again — kid activities are way more entertaining than I would have thought.

Tilden Steam Train by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

That night, I opened some presents, the boys sang happy birthday to me (with candles in cheesecake — heheh just my style), and Dave made us grass-fed burgers and sweet potato fries after Brady went to sleep, and we played Scrabble and watched a Christmas movie. Perfection!

By the way, Dave blew up a ton of balloons for me, and Brady could hardly handle the fun of playing in them. It was so cute!

Brady with balloons by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

Warriors holiday party

We also got out to the Warriors annual holiday party last week before my birthday, and it was at the Emporium in San Francisco. It’s a cool venue with all sorts of arcade games. It was a trek to make it there (deep into the City) on a weeknight, but some of my girlfriends and I — who are also married to Warriors employees — rode the BART in together and met our dudes in the City.

Warriors holiday party by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

I bought my entire outfit the day before at H&M for only $50 — I don’t love shopping there, but they had what I was looking for, and the price was right. My shiny pants aren’t available any longer, but here is my top. We had fun that night!

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Our holiday was pretty quiet, low-key and yet also special, as a family of four in our house for the first year. Last year, we spent Christmas as a family of four too, and it was quite different. Brady was less than 12-weeks-old and was world’s worst sleeper, and Dave and I were literally dead people walking during that time. We lived with a constant sore-throat-hungover-heavy-eyes-headache-whole-body-pain feeling for so many months. Wow. That sucked. Sometimes I think I’ve blacked that period out. But needless to say, we didn’t really have a Merry Christmas last year at all … so this year was better.

Christmas Eve by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

Anywho, it would have been nice to have been around more family, but we made a big trip for Thanksgiving to spend time with my family in Florida, and unfortunately, it didn’t work out for anyone to make the trip to come see us — so we did the holiday alone again. We’ve started a few small traditions that we continued, and it’s cool to start building that sort of thing for our family. 

On Christmas Eve, we went to a family church service, and it was really festive and welcoming and just felt right. It was at 4:30 p.m. at a local church in Walnut Creek, and everyone had kids, so Brady sat with us in the pew and ate crackers and played with the program the whole time chatting to himself as we paid attention — nobody minded — and we sang a bunch of good songs and totally enjoyed ourselves soaking up the reason for the season. (I think we’ll go back to that church again actually.) That night, Dave made us some roasted chicken from our newlywed cookbook, which was fantastic, and we watched “Miracle on 34th Street.”

Family on Christmas Day by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

On Christmas Day, we made waffles, opened presents, then went to walk around the Lafayette Reservoir, with a million other East Bay families on such a beautiful day. We just hung out at home the rest of the day chilling, and that was it. Overall, I’m glad we didn’t have to pack up and get on a plane for Christmas this year, but I did miss seeing more fam for sure — missed them a lot!


Essential oil diffuser

This was on my Christmas list this year, and my sweet momma came through and gave it to me as a birthday gift. I’ve been wondering what the whole essential oil craze is about and decided I wanted to give it a try. I’m not at all educated in this space, but am starting to learn. So now I have a diffuser — this brand, which has some cute styles — and four oils to use.

Essential oil diffuser by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

I believe in the power of oils, I just don’t quite know how I plan to use them yet. Stay tuned as I figure it out. But I’ve been blasting the ones I do have since the second I opened this gift. Thanks, momma!

Apple AirPods

I have some bulky over-the-ear bluetooth headphones that I’ve been wearing to the gym for years, and Dave always makes fun of them. He’s given me a couple of pairs of smaller ones to try out, and they just never stay put in my ears, so I give them back. The only earphone that works in my ear is the Apple earphone with the cord. Well, you can’t work out or take dog walks with a cord, so now I have some fancy Apple AirPods, sans cord.

AirPods by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

Apple AirPods by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

These were one of the things Dave got me for Christmas, and I’m really excited to have them. As most Apple products, the design is sleek and simple and they charge in a little magnetic case. And the best part? They actually stay in my ears! 🙂 


Christmas Day pumpkin chocolate cream cheese dessert

I have no problem buying our dessert, and I always do. But I felt the urge to make something on Christmas Day. I found a few recipes that sounded good and put them all together for my own creation. And it is not healthy AT ALL, but was really easy and so tasty, so I recommend it and wanted to share it here. It’s a pumpkin chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting, of course.

Pumpkin cake dessert by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

Cake ingredients:

  • 1 box vanilla cake mix (at least I used organic)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chunks or chips

Mix all that together and pour it into a greased baking pan, then bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees, until you can poke the center of the cake with a toothpick and it comes out dry.

Then for the frosting …

Frosting ingredients:

  • 1 8-ounce tub of real cream cheese
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 3 cups of real melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix it all together (I did it by hand, but a mixer would have been quite helpful), and put it in the fridge until the cake has cooked and cooled. Then spread it on the cake and enjoy!

Pumpkin cream cheese cake dessert by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

It was pretty darn tasty, and I continued eating it past Christmas. 🙂 


Weekly workout recap

And now we’re into the fitness.

Here’s a look at my workouts from last week …

Weekly workouts by A Lady Goes West

  • Monday: 1-hour BODYPUMP class, 10 a.m.
  • Tuesday: 30 minutes of BODYATTACK, 30-minute CXWORX class, 9:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday: 25-minute full-body weights workout, 11 a.m.
  • Thursday: Taught 1-hour Bootybarre class, 12 p.m.
  • Friday: 1-hour yoga class, 11 a.m.
  • Saturday: 1-hour BODYATTACK class, 9:30 a.m.
  • Sunday: Rest day

This past week was pretty class heavy, but that just seems to be what I’m in the mood for lately. I didn’t lift weights three times, which is always my goal, but as I said a few weeks ago — I just haven’t been motivated for that third resistance session. The good news is that I did a gentle yoga class, and I also did BODYATTACK two times! Yes!

Here’s my solo weights workout …

Cable workout

Favorite reads

Best stuff from around the web 

  • Beauty. Okay, if you’ve been waiting to try Beautycounter, now’s your chance to get some highly discounted products and sets. It’s currently the Winter Sale and some stuff is up to 60 percent off while supplies last. Check it out here!
  • Healthy eating facts. I love the bite-sized interesting food and nutrition tips in this list of the top learnings about food from 2018. I need to try moringa, and apparently the microwave isn’t so bad after all.
  • Books and shows. I must admit, I haven’t read or seen so many of the things on this list of must-read/watch, but they all sound great. Check it out if you need some inspo.

A Lady Goes West archives

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I hope you start 2019 with good people and good food! Talk to you soon, my friends.

By the way, I have a few giveaways of my favorite things lined up for the new year on Instagram and the blog, so stay tuned!

Questions of the day

Do you have an oil diffuser? What’s your favorite oil?

What did you get for Christmas?

Do you have any New Year’s Eve plans?

Do you like to go out to brunch? Or lunch? Or dinner? What’s your choice?



  1. My husband and I went easy on gifts for each other this year since we have some purchases to make for baby #2 due in March. We did but tickets though for the Hootie and the Blowfish/BNL concert this summer which we are excited about! I prefer going out to dinner; some days by the end of the day cooking is the last thing I want to do! I’m glad you had a wonderful birthday and Christmas!

    1. Hi Erin! I would have always said going out to dinner is my favorite, but now that we need a sitter, it’s more of a production ahahha. And I think event tickets are a GREAT gift — I LOVE to give experiences and have done that for Dave for the last few gifts for him outside of Christmas. It’s a good time to save — baby stuff is expensive! Hope you had a Merry Christmas! 🙂

  2. Loved this recap! I got to see your pics over on the Gram, but it was fun reading more details.

    I’ve been wanting the Apple ear buds for a while now but just haven’t made the investment. I wouldn’t use them that much since I work out at home primarily, but I still might get them sometime soon.

    So glad you had a wonderful birthday and a joyous Christmas! You deserved it!


    1. Hi Court! I do a lot of walking with the stroller and dog outside of the gym that make the AirPod purchase worth it to me, but you’re right — if you won’t use ’em, you don’t need ’em. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, lady!! 🙂

  3. Hi Ashley. Funny about your confirmations. I got my wife a new set of pots, pans, skillets to match the new kitchen stove and microwave I got earlier. Amazon sent it in the original box this came while I was at the gym. There went that surprise. I got a new Fitbit watch. An upgrade to the one I had. Of course I couldn’t get it programmed. Nor Fitbit when I called them. Now getting a replacement sent to me. Love Brady with his hat on backwards. Wonder where he got that idea. Got to watch my team from Indiana, Notre Dame, play Clemson in playoffs Sat night. Happy New Year to all of you

    1. Hahaha yes, it’s hard when you order something online and it arrives without you grabbing it first. Did you know Dave was born in South Bend?? He was!! Happy New Year!

      1. I was aware Dave lived in South Bend for awhile but didn’t know he was born there. Dave being a former Hooiser you can see whey us Hooisers are such friendly people. I taught school for several years at Bunker Hill Indiana. That is just north of Kokomo. And a bit south of South Bend. I regret it now but never took time to go up to South Bend to see an Irish football game. I ended up teaching in my wife’s home town, Brazil for 35 years. I went to high school in Terre Haute and Indiana State University. Don’t know if Dave would be familiar with all those places.

  4. Sounds like a lovely low key Christmas and birthday! We went more low-key this year too and were not sorry! We always hit at least 2 places sometimes 3 but this year we only went to one place and it was glorious! less is more on holidays I think!
    I love going out to brunch! If I had to pick though, I’d always pick a dinner for a date and then brunch or lunch for a family outing! Last year wasn’t great for us either in the sleep department. Much better this year so I was feeling much more festive haha!

    1. More sleep totally helps everything, right?? Yay!! And I agree with you — brunch with kids and dinner as a date. Happy early New Year, my friend!!!!!

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