the first days & our grand opening

our grand opening via milissweets.com

On Friday, January 30th, the doors to MiaBella Yogurt & Desserts opened to the public in Vista, California, and our new baby was born. Mili’s Sweets is the “Desserts” portion of the shop. My sweet friend Amy, is the owner of MiaBella.

The best part was seeing some familiar faces. Our family,  friends and my wonderful customers from my catering-days made us feel so incredibly special!

It has been a lot of work and a very personal journey. The moments in the first couple weeks were beautiful and special, somewhat like holding a newborn in your arms, with the same stayed-up most-of-the-night-pain that comes with it. I’m not going to lie, I cried on more than one occasion, because of the drastic transition I was facing from being with my kids most of the time, to coordinating a full-time work schedule. Eventually, I will completely forget what I went through and have already gotten into the swing of things with more assurance and sleep. It’s all good stuff and part of the process.

To have your own business that is open daily via retail has to be a labor of love. It cannot compare to what I have done in the last five years since starting Mili’s Sweets. You put your heart and soul into a room, for people to walk in and out of.  You put a ton of passion and care into everything in the room, especially your products, so that your best can shine through. Each time our doorbell rings, we feel happy, excited and grateful to welcome anyone who has chosen to come into MiaBella for a treat.

our grand opening via milissweets.com

I do feel like I’m living the dream. When I see that simple decal of my logo on the front window, I still pinch myself. I can’t believe it. I’m so thankful. I work so hard and it feels so good to be here.

With my new adventure, I have hired employees for the first time in my life. It’s exciting and wonderful. My mom was my first official employee but she is a part-time volunteer. I hope that in the near future, she can retire from her job, but in the mean time, she will be with me when she can and I  have a small staff to help me get to the place where I’m suppose to be.

Here she was with me in the kitchen, the morning after we opened. To have her by my side is such a joy. No one loves me the way she does or would be so excited to help me wash dishes! To see the video of Maria Rosaria, a 71 year old Nonna, dancing in the kitchen, please click on this link: Mili’s Sweets – Dancing Momma video

A couple weeks later, we threw our grand opening celebration. It was President’s Day and it also just so happened to be my son’s birthday. We couldn’t wait to celebrate!

our grand opening via milissweets.com

When I say we, I mean my family. I cannot be myself, or who I am without my team. I simply cannot do my job without them. My family and faith are my life. They hold me up. They are my cheering section. They have to be incredibly patient and understanding. They see through my walls and know exactly what I’m all about. They are why I am doing this.

What’s even more amazing, is how proud they are of me. They want to do anything at all to help me and to share what Mili’s Sweets is about.  To be so loved and supported is an incredible feeling. I feel like I can accomplish anything when I have  my husband as my other half and our kids by our side.

our grand opening via milissweets.com

Then there are the incredible family and friends in the background. Many of them were able to attend our grand opening and it was such a treat to be with them! We started the morning with a blessing of the shop from Fr. Patrick, who has provided me with unforgettable spiritual direction and guidance. I’m forever grateful! As the day went on, more and more wonderful people joined us. They were responsible for making the day the best it could be. I love them for it.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I will again. I could not have moved forward with this next chapter of Mili’s Sweets at retail without the help of my dad. He’s the sweetheart in the wheelchair, with his service dog and my son by his side. He is such a great dad and loves me so much. It was his investment that helped me to get just about everything I needed to start-up.

(Believe me when I tell you that everything, absolutely everything happens for a reason – no matter how painful. It was the horrible accident that caused him to eventually loose his leg, that gave him the ability to help me financially. It was this same accident that brought the two of us closer together than ever before. It is a pretty amazing story, to save for another time, if I have the courage to do so. Let’s just say, I’m so very proud of him too. xox)

our grand opening via milissweets.com

One of my favorite moments was singing ‘happy birthday’ to our son, Nikko. This kid is such a blessing and a joy. If it weren’t for him and his allergies to peanuts and tree nuts, I would have never started baking as a professional in the first place.

our grand opening via milissweets.com

Celebrating and cherishing these precious moments together is what a good life is all about. THIS is the real dream that I’m living. To have the opportunity to love one another and to be together is our greatest gift.

our grand opening via milissweets.comNeedless to say, with his awesome balloon-jet pack and one of his mom’s cupcakes, he had one of the best days of his life. (So he says and I believe him.) We won’t soon forget it!

Thank you for being here. Take care.

xox, Mili

it’s all about the babes

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Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love children. I think all kids are awesome, have incredible potential and are beautiful. I can be my nerdy-self around them. I love to talk with them. I also especially love to make treats for them and to help make them feel special.

One of the best perks of my new job – providing my desserts every day at retail via the MiaBella shop – are the babes. When I say babes, I mean the kids. I just absolutely love seeing them! They are so cute!

Here I was with my own “baby boy,” at our soft-opening. Amy and Marty, owners of MiaBella, invited some of their friends over the day before we opened to the public just four weeks ago. My son was so happy to pass out Mili’s Sweets samples. He’s so proud of me and I’m so proud of him.

IMG_6050Then there is this awesome babe. I can’t even deal with how cute she is, enjoying a marshmallow pop. I mean, talk about living in the moment as a child! It’s the best of the best!

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This cutie-pie is too much. This shot that his dad took with my little cupcake package is so great. His adorable smile kills me!

IMG_6063This sweetheart and his family are so wonderful. He is allergic to peanuts, just like my son, and here he is, going for it with one of my cupcakes. It’s an incredible feeling for a child (and for their parents) when they have a severe food allergy and can be at ease, knowing the the food they are enjoying is totally safe (and yummy). I love everything about it!

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This little one is known for loving my “cake” but he was just as happy with one of my ice cream sandwiches. He is such a babe!

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And then there’s the help. On Valentine’s Day, my daughter came in to help me. She’s official and has her food handler card and the whole nine yards. To have some time to be together at MiaBella is really a gift. She loves it and I love every minute of being together.

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Nikko has become my official box-assembly boy. It’s a job he loves because he knows he is helping me and he is really good at it.

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My stepdaughter was able to come down from school at UCLA to check out the new digs too. It is so great when our children and our family can just be together. At this point of our lives, any time together is considered a precious moment. We are loving these moments!

xox

baby shower in blue

baby shower in blue

My sweet friend was pregnant with a baby boy. I was delighted to make the treats for her shower that she wanted to enjoy with her friends.

baby shower in blue

On an indigo tablecloth, with some white, glass and blue plating and a beautiful bouquet of hydrangea, I catered and set some of her favorite flavors. There were Tiramisu cupcakes, Boston Cream cupcakes, Coconut Bars, mini Key Lime Pies and Lemon Meringue pies.

baby shower in blue

This was just a small detail in a very memorable evening. I loved being with my husband at this shower, and all of the other couples as we sat, talked, had an incredible meal and watched a beautiful sunset. It was so nice to have the time together.

baby shower in blue

xox

just a purple lollipop

Valentine

Valentine’s Day reminds me of a purple lollipop.

Before Kindergarten, I had never heard of this wonderful holiday called Valentine’s Day. I still remember bringing home the brown paper bag filled with candy, from Mrs. Pottoff’s class.

I set the treasure on my bedside table.  As the days went by, I noticed my bag was loosing some of it’s prized possessions.

I was cool and calm when I went to my little brother about the missing candy. I told him it was all right. I didn’t mind sharing. In fact, I told him that he could have any and all of the candy that he wanted, with one exception: he had to promise not to eat my only purple lollipop.

There was something special about this ordinary grape lollipop. I wanted to wait for just the right time to enjoy it. Days later, I took a look inside my crumpled brown paper bag to find that my lollipop was gone!

How could this have happened? Wasn’t my brother happy enough with all the rest of my candy? I ran after my him yelling, “How could you?!” It was the most angry I had ever been with him in my whole little life. He apologized and I say I forgave him. However, every year around around Valentine’s Day, I’d remind him and share with anyone whom had not yet heard the story.

The best part is how he turned it around. . .

On my 18th birthday, my brother surprised me by covering my bedroom floor with countless purple lollipops! I was so happy, I most certainly cried.

So today, I took a peek inside the brown paper Valentine’s Day bags that my children brought home from school. Low and behold, we found a little purple lollipop! I shared this story with them for the first time and they laughed, imagining me running after their Uncle Mark. They insisted that I have the treat, even though they know that it wasn’t really all about the candy.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

xox

sweet heart treats

It’s about that time, when we go out of our way to show and tell our sweethearts how much we love them and cherish them. One way I share my love, is by making sweets for my sweets!

I’ve compiled a group of three of my favorite Valentine’s Day recipes that are all themed with heart-shapes.

Sweet Heart Treat #1:

Chocolate Pops, with Love

First up, homemade Valentines for the kids to pass out, are my favorite. No one really wants another heart-themed pencil or piece of paper with a superhero on it.

heart chocolate pops - how-to via milissweets.com

Making something unique that takes a little time and love, is even better.

heart chocolate pops - how-to via milissweets.com

The best part is, with a tiny bit of help, your child really can make them. They will be really happy and proud to pass them out to their friends.

heart chocolate pops - how-to via milissweets.com

Sweet Heart Treat #2:

Sweetheart Cheesecake Tart 

My kids would really love it if I made this one again! It’s absolutely delicious. 

sweetheart cheesecake tart - recipe milissweets.com

This take a little extra time and effort but for the people you love, you can squeeze it in!

sweetheart cheesecake tart - recipe milissweets.com

Sweet Heart Treat #3:

Chocolate Pots de Creme

chocolate pots de creme recipe by milisweets.com

I’m going to put it out there, that chocolate is an absolute-must for me to enjoy on Valentine’s Day. I don’t need a whole box of chocolates or a large treat. A little goes a long way. I just want (or should I say need) a little chocolate-something that is extra rich, deep and delicious.

Chocolate pots de creme will definitely cover the want and need for Valentine’s Day. To make the recipe, will give you a bit of an arm workout, and is definitely not a beginner-recipe, but it’s well worth making it happen. I prefer the espresso version but do not include it when making it for little ones.

chocolate pots de creme recipe by milisweets.com

chocolate pots de creme recipe by milisweets.com

I’m a sucker for vintage Valentines. Here’s one I stumbled upon, while on Pinterest.

vintage Valentine

Hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

xox, Mili

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