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

how this started

How did this even happen? It has been five years since I started Mili’s Sweets. Before that time, I would never in a million years think I would want my own small business. I’ve always thrived on stability and am not a person who takes many risks. I guess people change – sometimes because they have to and sometimes because they want to.

I’m sharing a little about how all of this started.

I had to become a mom. 

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my birthday, July 2007

Fast forward to one of the many miracles that have happened in my life. One of my favorites is becoming a mom. I don’t take this opportunity and blessing for granted. When I was younger, doctors told me that I’d need surgery to be able to become pregnant. That wasn’t God’s plan since two months after marriage, I was pregnant and have given birth to two extraordinary and healthy children, a daughter who is now ten and a son who is seven.

I went from having a wonderful career in the corporate world, to giving it up to stay at home with the kids. It was a team-decision that my husband and I made. It came with many sacrifices and I would not want to trade this special time for anything. I loved to cook and bake but I was only OK at it. Staying home really helped me to hone in on the baking and cooking skills that I wanted to have, for personal joy and for my family. So I worked it into my life, along with making baby food like a crazy-person, doing crafts and going on fun adventures with the kids.

Turned out, our baby was allergic to peanuts (and tree nuts). 

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days before our ambulance ride, June 2008

I’ll never forget June 25, 2008. Our 16-month-old son wanted to try the peanut butter sandwich that his big sister was enjoying for lunch. I gave him a little peanut butter spread on a small piece of bread. He seemed to like it. Then he violently changed. I called 911 for the first time in my life. This baby of mine kept saying over and over, “Uh-Oh. Uh-Oh. Uh-Oh.” I was scared. He was pink and swollen, and had giant welts that looked like second degree burn-blisters all over his face and body. The worst was seeing these giant sacks covering his eyelids, making them close. He could breathe. The ambulance was at our home in a few minutes. I still remember the medics who helped us and gave a special seat and teady bear to my sweet four year old (who was also scared). My husband was two hours away, at work, and would meet us at the hospital.

Our son was soon tested for allergies and we learned that he was very allergic to peanuts and all tree nuts. It took a toll, but I have always been strong and would be sure to protect our child. It seemed so strange and far fetched to have a child with such severe allergies. Our family was meant to have this small challenge and we were going to work it out.

I couldn’t buy my son treats at the store. I couldn’t buy him a birthday cake. 

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baby boy’s 2nd birthday, February 2009

It was quite a learning experience to figure out what I needed to do to protect our little boy. I couldn’t believe how many items in the store has traces of peanuts/tree nuts. I wasn’t going to risk having my son be harmed over his allergies, so I avoided most packaged foods all together. I learned to make everything on my own. I ended up cooking or baking everything for our home – three meals a day were fresh and I’d experiment with dessert. I loved doing it and it was good for my family. I really enjoyed my work and the outcome. My family liked what I was making too.

My son was really into Thomas the Train. In fact, he loved anything that had to do with trains. For his second birthday, I wanted to buy him a special cake but every single bakery I called could not guarantee that there would be no traces of peanuts or tree nuts. A bakery that could work out an order for my son, literally did not exist. So I couldn’t order a cake. I made one.

This funny, goofy train cake, that I made for my sweet boy, was awesome (to us).  It was a turning point for me. It brought my kids so much joy. My sweets were bringing others so much joy. It left quite an impression on me. I decided I wanted to continue to develop my own recipes and to just keep baking.

I went for it. 

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 Mili’s Sweets sampling party at my home, July 2010

With a lot of encouragement from my friends and family, I started Mili’s Sweets. It was on my wedding anniversary, March 8, 2010 that I made it official. I found the courage to go for it. I was nervous, but I just had to move forward.

I always felt like becoming a good baker and developing my recipes was a God-given gift. To have hope in the idea of supporting my family in any way, with doing something that I absolutely loved, felt like a dream come true. (I still believe this to be true. Every time I finish making a cake or complete an order, I feel thankful that I was able to do it.)

My friends loved my sweets. I’d try new recipes and gave most of the products away. I’ll never forget my very first official paid-order. It was from my friend, Honeye Hawkins. Our daughters took ballet together. From there, word of mouth, love, passion and prayer pushed me along.

I developed a following and a professional catering business where I set and styled dessert tables and delivered throughout San Diego County, while renting a commercial kitchen that was located near my home.

More people were exposed to my work. 

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San Diego Living, Cupcake Wars, September 2010

In the summer of 2010, I received a call from a local television show. The producer had tried one of my Creme Brulee cupcakes at a party and wanted to know if I’d like to be on a Cupcake Wars segment of their program, where a bunch of different local dessert/cupcake companies would “compete” and viewers would vote for their favorite. I was the absolute underdog of the bunch. I was also incredibly nervous. My mission, to provide nut-free sweets, to be myself and to simply make the best-quality and best-tasting product I personally liked enough to sell to others, shined through. I couldn’t believe it when I was told that I won their little Cupcake Wars program! Having the title, “Best Cupcakes in San Diego” was a great building-block for my business.

I give until it hurts.

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with my volunteers at Mili’s Sweets UTC fundraising event for American Red Cross, April 2011

I always dreamed of being able to give generously to charity. I was raised to give and give, but what I typically had to offer was my time and resources and not necessarily a check worth a significant amount of money. As soon as I understood the value in the desire for my sweets, I took advantage of it. I promoted to give to charities since it was the only way that I knew to fundraise on my own for a significant amount of money.

Via Mili’s Sweets desserts, I have raised thousands of dollars for several charities, schools, non-profit organizations and will continue to do so for what I can, and have a passion for. Many of my contributions are given silently. My most memorable efforts have been for American Red Cross, the local non-profit, “Fight Like a Girl, Team Kaelyn,” for an incredible little girl whom was fighting cancer, and for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

We made some friends.

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my daughter and her best friend at their First Holy Communion, May 2012

I’ve always tried to squeeze Mili’s Sweets around my family’s schedule. I have always played the stay-at-home mom roll and am very active at my children’s school. Our school-community is super important to me. I have a few friends who I made there who really loved me (still do), love my products and believed in me so much, that they would introduce me to their friends, and always have me cater sweets for their special events.

One of those friends from the kids’ school is Ann Marie. I placed an ad in the school newsletter when I first had my license and permit and she gave me a call. We instantly clicked and over the years, we have become good friends. She is a special blessing that came into my life, to really boost my confidence so that I could take my work and what she also considered my gift, to another level. I love her for what she has done for me.

Then there was my friend Amy. Her daughter and my daughter became best friends as soon as they met in Kindergarten. I didn’t know Amy well at that time, but I always knew I liked her. That year she was pregnant, and after having her baby, I delivered dinner and dessert for her family to enjoy. Over time, we became close friends. She is like a sister to me – someone with whom I tell everything and anything. I love her.

Amy is the woman who owns MiaBella Yogurt & Desserts. She approached me in the spring of 2014 and asked if I’d like to partner up with her to start a dessert shop. Without hesitation, I said “Yes!” It’s one of the easiest and best decisions I’ve ever made. I can’t believe that the shop will be open in just a couple of weeks!

Then there are the friends that I met and made through my business. To be supported in this way simply amazes me. We have real connections and not just a “like” on facebook. Take social media away and these incredible relationships would still thrive.

I confess, that don’t have many super close friends. However, the friends and family whom have been by my side, who really love me, have my heart. I cannot be who I am without them! I am so thankful for each one of them and they know exactly who they are!

I keep my family close. 

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my daughter makes my mom her birthday cake, July 2014

My mom lives with us in our home. My dad is one of my best friends. He has been through hell and we will always have each other’s back. I love my brother and his family. We are super close, even though he lives out of town. My husband and I are still completely in-love. He’s my other half, my very best friend. We’ve been together for almost half of my lifetime. I love and admire my step-daughter, who is grown-up and attending college. Our children are the loves of our life. My family loves me like no one else on the planet. They are proud of me. They want to be with me. We constantly want to be together.

I don’t live in “la-la” land. Life is usually not easy. It is incredibly difficult and dare I say a burden to care so much, to keep it all a-float – but life with this family of mine is a labor of love that I will never tire from. I am beyond blessed! I thank God every day for what he puts in front of me.

I need to stay true to myself.

One thing I learned a long time ago, that I bring into my life as Milissa in my “real” world, and as Mili in my Mili’s Sweets world, is to never compromise who I am. I try to concentrate on doing my very best every single day, at anything I sign up for and I sign up for a lot. I am extremely determined and passionate. I’m a “glass half-full” kind of lady. I’m a nerd. I clown all of the time. I laugh at my own humor and I want to laugh every single day. It’s impossible for me to hide my emotions and I tend to shed a tear or two often, whether tears of joy or not. I can’t pretend that my faith and my roots are not important pieces that make me whole. I will always love and encourage others, even if they don’t do the same for me. I hug. I don’t think I’m better than anyone else. I’m not. I am humbled with the understanding that I am here because of the opportunities that God has put in front of me – I’m just going to try to make the most of them.

I will always care about my work.

I care so much about each one of the desserts I make. I care about the people who want to enjoy a treat, but can’t because of food-choices or extremely dangerous food allergies. I live it and I totally understand it. I’ve had customers call me and talk to me just about the situation they go through, either for themselves or for their children when it comes to necessary food restrictions. Some just want to be sure that what I say I’m offering is what I mean. It is. Mili’s Sweets will not only always be completely free of peanuts and tree-nuts, but I will also try to accommodate other food-related needs by offering gluten-free and/or egg-free options.  I will also always be happy to answer questions about the ingredients I use, so that people can be assured that it is safe for them to enjoy. I love what I do and I want to keep doing it.

xox,

Mili

P.S. Thanks for being here and for reading my little stories. I know this is some personal stuff, but I think it’s cool to share. Please, reach out to me and share your stories. Take care and big hugs!

 

 

 

Nevaeh Costa - January 17, 2015 - 8:42 am

I loved reading this! What an incredible story and I’m so excited to see you gain even more exposure in this venture and inspire others. Plus- smiles & the “oh my gosh this is soooo good” will be heard over and over to keep you motivated.

Kathleen Arciero - January 17, 2015 - 4:19 pm

Beautiful Blog – your sweet journey is an inspiration – staying true to your family, self and passion for taste and perfection! It is a gift! Bless you – looking forward to the Grand opening! K

sweetsbymili@gmail.com - January 22, 2015 - 5:01 pm

Thank you so much Kathleen! God bless you. I appreciate you and your kind words!

sweetsbymili@gmail.com - January 22, 2015 - 5:02 pm

Thank you so much Nevaeh! You are awesome! God bless you!

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