The baking streak

Hi friends!

Happy Good Friday!

This week felt longer than usual, so I’m pretty thrilled we are now at the end of it. Spring has finally decided to stop by, and I can’t tell you how happy I am to see the last of the snow melting away.

My sister Mumbi sent me this photo of Imara my niece (her daughter) wearing a dress I gave her over a year ago. Imara finally grew into it and is bringing that maximum cuteness! This little girl is the sweetest. Mumbi and her family are currently in Spain, which looks like quite the ultimate vacation land.

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I discovered this Double Chocolate Chunk granola (here) and have not looked back. It is amazing as a cereal, a yogurt topper, or just on its own. Seriously the best snack. I love a chunky granola, it is so satisfying.

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This “low oil level” notification came on in my car. It must be some kind of error because Joel just added oil a few days ago. He will take a look at it –> I sure am glad he knows his way around cars. I’m slightly useless with these kinds of things.

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The scene in my kitchen last night. My baking streak continues: I baked six… yes SIX… loaves of Amish friendship bread. I would have baked eight but I ran out of eggs hah. Our freezer has never seen so much bread :) I texted my mommy friend from the Mom’s Brunch (she is the friend who gifted me the original starter yeast) to tell her what I was up to, and she said she had just finished baking six loaves of bread at her house too! We are on the same wavelength lol.

In a nutshell, the “starter” has yeast, flour, milk, and sugar in a bag, and you let it sit and “grow” for 10 days (you massage it a bit each day and add more flour and other stuff on Day 5), then on the 10th day, you save small portions in 4 new bags and the rest gets baked. This means every 10 days you get 2 fresh loaves of yummy bread plus 4 more bags that will “grow”. It’s called “friendship” bread because you’re supposed to give some of those bags to friends so that they can experience the deliciousness. I didn’t give my bags out because I wasn’t sure if I had messed up the whole shabang by using almond milk instead of cow’s milk (spoiler: turned out fine). I tell ya, that Amish bread is the gift that keeps on giving.

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I varied each loaf slightly… from regular “plain” to caramel, butterscotch, and banana. Joel likes to have a slice of Amish bread with his breakfast. He says he likes it by itself slightly warmed, no butter or anything on top.

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I looked at a few different recipes on Pinterest and got inspired to turn one of the loaves into a chocolate berry bread, topped with a nutella drizzle. This will be my contribution to Easter dinner (we’re going over to Amy’s).

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See this lamp? It was a wedding gift many moons ago. The original lampshade was a taupe ish color, which was not my favorite at the time. I picked out this white/grey number at Ikea and it has lasted very well (10 years and going strong). I still like it a lot, so I don’t have any plans to get rid of it –> I will probably put it on a different lamp elsewhere in the house. Anyway, I recently wanted to switch back to the original lampshade, but when I looked for it in our attic, I could not find it (I could have sworn I saw it up there). I have no idea where it went?

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I ended up picking out a new lampshade at Target. I went with plain white linen for simplicity, because it does not compete with any of the decor. The shape also seems to fit the lamp a bit better too, so I am quite happy with the purchase. $19.99 at Target!

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Another Target find… these “nothing added” dried mangoes! The only ingredient is organic mangoes and I am here for it. And yet again, I am thinking about just going ahead with a dehydrator purchase so that I can dry my own mangoes at home…

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I got together with Natasha for lunch today! This time we went to Lumi Asian Fusion in North Haven. She had never been before and I was interested in trying out more of their menu (I have had their avocado cucumber roll before which is amazing). We each got a lunch special that started with Miso soup. I am always down for Miso soup.

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Natasha got a bento box which looked amazing. I have never had a bento box before but I will definitely be back to try one of these. It looked like just the right amount of everything! Side note: bento boxes are like the fancy version of the metal food trays that we had at my boarding school cafeteria. :)

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I got broccoli with beef for my meal and it was pretty great. The portion was large enough for 2 meals, so half of it came home with me for later. Leftovers rock.

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After work I headed over to the Sephora to return this It Cosmetics CC cream (here). I used this stuff years ago and remember liking it a lot (I used the color “medium”). Perhaps my skin type has changed with age or the pregnancy, but my experience this time around was definitely not the same. This stuff made me look straight up dead. No thank you. I will 100% be sticking with my beloved Andalou Naturals (find it HERE!) –> it has broad spectrum SPF 30, a pristine ingredient list, and a high rating on the EWG website. I don’t know why I ever strayed.

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When we lived in Houston I went to Sephora all the time. It was only 7 ish minutes from my house so it was really easy to pop in. Nowadays it is quite the trek to get to a Sephora (40 min or longer with traffic) so I don’t go nearly as often. It’s probably just as well because almost everything there costs a pretty penny. But it was nice to browse around and check out all the shiny new things. If I didn’t break out so easily I would definitely be more brave about trying out different products.

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While at the mall I also meandered through a couple different stores and ogled their spring inventory. Turns out walking around the mall can work up quite the appetite. Or maybe it is the whole growing a human in my belly thing. ;) I stopped at a pretzel place for some cinnamon bites –> these things are dangerously good.

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Have an awesome Easter weekend, you guys! I hope the skies are sunny where you are! :)

Doing anything fun this weekend? What is your “holy grail” face sunscreen? Got any favorite baking recipes to share?  

*This content uses referral links. Read my disclosure policy for more info.

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Fine dining vs hole in wall

Hi friends!

Check out Joel’s fancy dessert from a work dinner with his colleagues the other night. They went to a French restaurant and he said it tasted great. I think it looks very impressive but I am not sure I’d know how to begin eating this intriguing creation… mix it all together? or eat each component separately? hmm.

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My meal was much less fancy by comparison :) Bernice, Ro, and I went to Nick’s Luncheonette in West Haven for brunch. It’s a little “hole-in-wall” place that we heard about from some of Bernice’s foodie friends. I am a fan of the hole-in-wall vibe, and based on all the good recommendations, we knew we were in for a treat. It was our first time there and we all ended up liking it a lot. It’s a cute little spot, totally unassuming, and very down-to-earth. I wouldn’t know such a popular luncheonette existed there if I didn’t know exactly what to look for. I have actually driven past this many times and had no idea it was here! They don’t have a website and yet were packed to the gills with customers.

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While waiting for a table, I watched the chef expertly cooking up some french toast. I noticed that the french toast was a popular order, and there seemed to be some on every table. It looked so scrumptious that I made up my mind there and then to go with french toast for my meal (originally I was thinking waffles). I was not disappointed! I would love to try their blueberry/strawberry waffles next time. I hope our “breakfast club” continues for many moons to come.

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They do a great hot chocolate too, which is very important for brunch purposes indeed. Not too watery or too “chewy” hah. Is it weird that I don’t like whipped cream on my hot chocolate? It is like tasteless foam to me.

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Last night’s book club was all about Ten Thousand Saints! It has a ton of awesome reviews and I fully expected to love it, so I was disappointed when it turned out to be a tough one for me to get through. I am not sure why it was hard to get into this one. I felt like every chapter went in one ear/eyeball and out the other because I retained next to nothing. If you’re considering reading this, don’t change your plans on account of me –> other girls in the book club really liked this one a lot! I will blame it on pregnancy brain and not the book :)

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Even though the book didn’t exactly float my boat, I’m pretty lucky that the book club ladies are undeniably awesome company! We decided to do a pizza assembly meal where each person brought different toppings. Pineapples made a big appearance. Speaking of, I have friends who believe wholeheartedly that pineapple is the worst thing that could ever happen to a pizza. It’s funny how strongly people feel about pineapple when it comes to pizza lol! As a serious pineapple lover, I’m sure you can guess which (partially-assembled) pizza is mine hah :)

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I am not a fan of tomato sauce so I went instead for a garlic butter sauce that Mackenzie helped me to make (melted butter and minced garlic mixed together). White pizza for the win! I also added tomato, red onion, arugula, cilantro, mushrooms, and mozerella. The finished product was pretty tasty but I have to say the dough-to-topping ratio was ever so slightly off –> it could probably have done with more of each topping… either that or a thinner crust. But overall the whole experience was a lot of fun and I quite enjoyed my pizza! I also liked hearing different perspectives on the book and the different characters – that is always fun even when I personally wasn’t a fan of the book.

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I looked for my beloved Rosemary Mint candle in Target and did not find it. Boo. It doesn’t seem to be available anywhere online that I am aware of. I hope this candle is not limited edition or discontinued because I will be very very sad if I can’t get it again. :( I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled if Target ever restocks their shelves with this.

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I was looking through old photos and found this one. The cantaloupe craving seems to have completely disappeared –> I went from total obsession for months on end to now complete indifference/apathy? Pregnancy is weird. I am neither here nor there regarding cantaloupe now. Huh. However, the grape addiction doesn’t show any sign of budging, which I am ok with. Grapes have my heart.

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Another one from the archives: my first time meeting Asher! This was back when he was just 2 weeks old! He was born a couple weeks early and was only about 5 pounds at the time. Such a sweet little munchkin, it’s hard to believe how teeny he was. My friend Grace does not look like she just had a baby 2 weeks prior to this photo…

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This is Asher now, at 8-9 months old. Look how big he is, and just the cutest butterball! He’s got such a calm temperament and loves to observe all the action around him.

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I have officially been introduced to Muddy Buddies (here!). How is it possible that I have never had these before? I’m a fan. I got the peanut butter kind but I have no doubt the cookies & cream version is amazing too.

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Another oldie but goodie –> every time I see this photo it makes me happy. My younger brother Gibbs is one of my favorite humans and an awesome uncle to Khee and Petros. Gibbs did shark research in South Africa for a few years and is now looking into genetic/molecular PhD programs. I am secretly (or not so secretly) hoping he will apply to schools near us so that we will get to see him more often. I know our little guy will just love his Uncle Gibbs to pieces.

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Have you ever gone from being obsessed with a certain food to feeling quite indifferent towards it? Do you recommend the cookies & cream version of Muddy Buddies? Your favorite and least-favorite pizza topping?    

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Happy 100 post blogiversary!

Hi friends!

Guess what, I just realized that have officially published 100 posts on this blog! (today’s post is #101.) Hard to believe! In honor of reaching 100, I’m throwing back to a few highlights:

Ok, so let’s catch up on the weekend :)

Friday afternoon involved snacking on leftover brownies from smallgroup. They were just as good the next day!

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The upholstery cushion I ordered finally arrived on Friday. The cushion is made of the same dense foam as couch/sofa cushions. There are cushions of varying thicknesses available – we got the one that is 4 inches thick (find it HERE). Joel made some measurements and cut it to the right size for our hearth.

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We then went to Joann Fabric to pick up upholstery fabric which will be used to make the cushion cover. I had a coupon for 50% off and it felt great to save on this project.

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Afterwards we hit up the cinema and *finally* saw Black Panther. I was a little concerned that all the hype and anticipation would mean the film would fall short of expectations… but turns out the concern was for nothing –> it 100% lived up to the hype and beyond! What an awesome movie. My movie snack this time around was grilled chicken from Chick-Fil-A. I didn’t know they sold grilled nuggets (instead of deep-fried) and will certainly be back for them again! They gave out a bunch of ketchup pouches which I did not use because the chicken was delicious on its own.

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Saturday involved grocery shopping to pick up a few essentials –> grapes. Green grapes have my heart, and they were only $1.25 per pound at Stop n Shop (down from $2.50/lb).

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Laundry happened too. It is nice having the laundry machines upstairs near the bedroom. In our old townhouse in Houston the laundry machines were downstairs, which we were fine with, but it’s definitely nice now that we don’t have to cart it up and down stairs.

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I have temporarily moved my orchid to the living room ottoman. When it blooms, it sits in the center of the mantle. When it’s not blooming, it gets moved periodically because I can’t figure out where it should “live”.

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The vanilla greek yogurt I mentioned in my last post (here) made another appearance over the weekend. The only other flavor I have tried is the plain one which isn’t my fave –> but I am interested in trying some of the berry flavors like blueberry, raspberry, etc.

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I read the entire book “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins over the weekend. It’s been on my must-read list for years and I’m glad I finally got around to it. What a page-turner! I love getting completely immersed in a book. I like to read before bed –> I kept thinking I’ll just read ONE more chapter then go to sleep… but it was way too good to put down, and before I knew it, I had finished the whole thing. Highly highly recommend.

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My new sugar bowl arrived! I love it. We have never had a real sugar bowl before, so this is a nice addition. My criteria when I was looking were pretty simple: it had to be white, come with a spoon and lid, and have “sugar” embossed on it. This one is the perfect size and exactly what I had in mind. Find it HERE!

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We spent Saturday night at home watching Our Souls at Night. I love Jane Fonda (if you haven’t seen Gracie & Frankie on Netflix, you really should, she is awesome!) and Joel really likes Robert Redford. We both thoroughly enjoyed the movie –> it is such a lovely and heartwarming story. Peanut M&M’s were the perfect accompanying movie-snack.

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Sunday dawned bright and early with a big bowl of refreshing green grapes. I think this little bun in the oven is made of 50% cantaloupe and 50% grapes at this point.

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I have 4 bags of Amish Friendship Bread going at the moment, which will translate to 4 loaves of bread. For someone who doesn’t typically do much baking, I sure am doing a lot of it lately :) We will have plenty to freeze for later, that’s for sure.

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Sunday lunch happened at House of Naan with Amy and Bernice. I love these ladies, and the food ain’t bad either :)

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Amy and I split some veggie samosas. They are filled with potatoes, peas, and spices. I appreciate a good Indian samosa but I definitely think that Kenyan samosas are about 120% better. I should learn to make them so that others can also experience their yumminess.

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House of Naan does awesome lunch specials and mine consisted of lamb korma. Half of this came home with me and will be consumed for lunch today. The best thing about Sunday lunch is of course the amazing company! I don’t know how I got so lucky to have such stellar people in my life but I am thankful every single day.

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Next up was Target! I love these rolling pins. I have never owned a rolling pin in my life but these are super pretty. If my baking streak continues, I might have to invest in one :)

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I also made a stop at Ulta. I wish there was a Sephora near me – the closest one is 40 minutes away. That may not sound far, but back in Houston we had a Sephora 7 minutes from our house, and boy do I miss that. Oh well, at least the Ulta helps to fill that void hah. I went in for some facewash and ended up perusing the makeup section. I used to use this It Cosmetics CC cream years ago –> I don’t know why I stopped using it because this stuff is great. I love the high SPF. Maybe I will go back to using it again.

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I watched the pilot episode of Station 19 (really good!) and munched on these “nothing added” dried mango (here). Every time I eat these I consider getting a dehydrator so I can dry my own mangoes in my kitchen. Way too delicious.

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The thermometer on the deck doesn’t always tell the truth. Today it says it is 80 degrees outside. I WISH it was that warm hah. The high is actually 46 F. We have learned not to trust this particular thermometer on sunny days, because the direct sunlight heats it up and throws it way off. We have another thermometer on the other side of the house that sits in the shade and is much more accurate :)

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Do you use sunscreen on your face every day? Got any easy bread recipes to share? What are you up to this week?   

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One sunny Friday + OOTD

Hi friends!

It’s a beeeeautiful Friday and I am excited about all the sunshine. The nor’easter we were supposed to get a couple days ago only dropped about one inch of snow instead of eight, which was a pleasant surprise. Temps should be warming up from here on out (knock wood) and that makes me very very happy! I dream about hanging out on the patio and can’t wait for all the spring blooms to start popping up in the backyard.

My outfit for today: this black maternity wrap top! My friend Grace gave this to me and I love it. Side note: Grace and I went went to the same boarding school in Kenya and have known each other since 3rd grade. She and her family live in Boston, and it’s nice to be able to see them every so often. Anyway, I was pretty excited about this top. This is the second piece of maternity attire I now own. The first was the dress I wore to our Gender Reveal party. The dress is HERE, it’s on sale right now! (The non-maternity version of the dress is HERE). And you can read more about the party HERE. Back to the wrap-top –> the wrap feature is pretty stellar for adjustability on the growing bump and future nursing. I can see why it’s a favorite style for maternity clothing… and non-maternity too! I don’t know why I don’t own more wrap attire.

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I made some banana bread for this week’s mommy potluck brunch. I have really enjoyed getting to know mom friends. They all have young kids, and a few currently have buns in the oven. It’s fun chatting with them about their experience with pregnancy, labor, and delivery, which helps me feel a little more prepared for when my time comes. We meet in the home of one of the moms, which is awesome for that laid back atmosphere. We mostly hang out, munch on tasty foods, and catch up with each other while the kids play together. I’m looking forward to our little boy joining in on the playtime too. He’s got some amazing little friends eagerly awaiting his arrival! Speaking of his arrival, my preggo app tells me our boy will be here in about 100 days, give or take… which does NOT seem like very much time at all! Where is the time going? This pregnancy is flyyying by!

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The conference room at work got a nice little makeover –> new paint job, new cabinets, and a few bonus items: keurig, full coffee situation, microwave, and fridge. The fresh paint and new setup makes the room look bigger and brighter. I am always amazed at what a difference paint can make! While we’re on the topic of paint, I should also mention that we are considering having our living room repainted at some point. We considered doing it ourselves but figured with our schedules it probably would be better to have someone come and do it. I would love a light grey-blue on the walls. My favorite color combination is light grey-blue and white… it is just such a calming and fresh combo. I’ve been dragging my feet on getting quotes from different painters/contractors but I hope to make progress on that this summer/fall.

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Leftover pizza came to the rescue when the hunger pangs struck. Fun fact: I love white pizza. I am not the biggest fan of tomato sauce on pizza (I don’t love tomato sauce on anything, not even pasta lol). For a long time I just thought I was just one of those weirdos that didn’t like pizza… until I was introduced to WHITE pizza. After that, I was fully on board. My favorite is when there is minimal cheese + maximum pineapple. The winning combination.

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The piles of logs and brush in our backyard are slowly diminishing, thanks to Joel. I am thankful that neither of the trees hit the house on their way down. Joel has also worked hard to secure our remaining trees with steel cables –> they started leaning over after we got a heavy snow, so the cables are helping keep them upright. I hope this prevents them from falling over in future winter storms.

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Smoothies have made a daily appearance ever since we ran out of grapes a few days ago. Mangoes, blueberries, raspberries, and blackeberries make for a delicious cup of goodness. Pretty yummy! That said, I am excited to replenish the ol’ grape supply when we hit the grocery store this weekend. :)

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A photo I forgot to include last week –> we finished our puzzle! Joel did about 80% of it hah. He is really good at puzzles. We left it on the table for a few days before putting it away. It’ll be a fun one to bring out the next time we’re itching to put together a puzzle! :)

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This is a magical meal comprising a Columbian style arepa, barbacoa (lamb), plantains, guacamole, sour cream, and rice. The arepa is under the barbacoa – you can’t really see it – but let me tell you, this meal is unreal and gets a solid A+ from me. Oh yes. Joel introduced me to Columbian arepas when we moved to Connecticut, and I am so glad he did. We get them from a Cuban/Latin place in New Haven. Worth every last penny.

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This Greek yogurt has made its way to the top of my favorites list recently. A friend said she loves this yogurt brand because the ingredients are Whole 30 friendly, plus the yogurt itself is delicious. When I tried it for myself, I wholeheartedly agreed :) She is absolutely right! We used to get the plain flavor but as you know, vanilla is just so much tastier. Such a yummy way to get some good calcium and protein. This yogurt is especially awesome mixed with granola –> yesss.

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Last night was our turn to do smallgroup snacks, so we did brownies and vanilla ice cream. Super easy and delicious! I can’t say enough how much I love our smallgroup. It is such a refreshing time. I really look forward to it every single week. We have a great mix of those much-needed “real” conversations, as well as plenty of good ol’ belly-laughs.

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Who is your go-to for getting bigger paint jobs done in your house? What’s your favorite fruit combo for smoothies? Your thoughts on white vs regular pizza?  

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Snowday + hearth plans

Hi friends!

Happy first day of spring! I know it doesn’t feel much like spring in New England, seeing as it is another snowday here in Connecticut. But let’s all collectively cross our fingers that this is the very last nor’easter before Old Man Winter packs up for the year. The one good thing about a snowday is it means working from home, and nothing goes better with that than a nice big bowl of cold grapes. :)

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My afternoon snack on this snowday may or may not have involved a few peanut M&M’s. These are miles tastier than regular M&M’s in my opinion… although those are pretty good too :) and they were perfect fuel for my afternoon productivity. Analyzing data is much more interesting when M&M’s are keeping me company.

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We got these flowers 2 weeks ago before our Gender Reveal and they are still going strong! Some of the smaller leaves closer to the bottom have gone a bit crispy, but the blooms are still looking fresh and pretty. I tell ya, this was quite a good use of $7.99.

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I baked up some Amish bread for us the other day. I am not usually big into baking, but it was a lot of fun making this bread from scratch. Just like I do with every recipe, I used almond milk instead of regular milk. Also, the recipe called for baking soda but I did not have that. Luckily despite not following the recipe exactly, the finished product still tasted fine to both Joel and me. Oh, and I don’t have a second bread pan so I made use of the muffin pan for the extra batter. :)

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While waiting for the bread to come out of the oven, I enjoyed a cup of tea courtesy of the very last teabag from my sister-in-law Sonia. I will have to pick up some of this tea the next time I go to a David’s Tea shop. It is so delicious, especially with a dash of almond milk.

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Turns out muffin-shaped bread is kinda great. I loved how yummy the house smelled while the bread was baking! Joel came in from chopping wood (he’s finishing cleaning up the tree that fell during our last snow) and the first thing he said was “mmm, it smells AMAZING in here!” :) He then proceeded to down several of these muffins. The bread is tasty enough to eat on its own without butter or anything else on top, which I appreciate. I haven’t tried it toasted yet, but I imagine that would be good too.

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Dinner last night consisted of Thai curry. Red curry is one of Joel’s favorite Thai dishes and I am happily jumping on board. I used to be all about noodles (pad thai, pad se ew, or any other noodle!). I still have a special place in my heart for noodles, but I have also learned to branch out, and in the process, I have discovered lots of other crazy good dishes too.

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The Thai leftovers made another appearance at lunch today –> this is may not be traditional nor’easter food, but it made for some pretty incredible snowday sustenance. Gotta love cozy foods when it’s all wintry outside! What’s your favorite thing to eat on a snowday? I would not say no to hot chocolate on a day like today.

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Let’s talk about our hearth for a sec. When we host bigger groups of people (ie, our weekly smallgroup, random movie nights, family, etc), we can’t all fit on the couch so the hearth gets used as extra seating. I have been thinking of ways to make this spot more comfortable. In my foray into different pillow/cushion options, I found THIS upholstery cushion which is essentially one huge couch cushion. It looks perfect for what we want, and the price was pretty decent too. It’s a tad longer and wider than our hearth so we will trim it to size. The nice thing about being able to trim it ourselves is that we’ll be able to get a precise fit around the white columns. I also found a great coupon for fabric at Joann Fabric, so we’ll be able to cover it with upholstery fabric that matches the rest of our furniture. I just hope that the nor’easter today doesn’t delay the cushion’s delivery!

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Let’s back up to a couple days ago when I got together with Natasha for lunch at Panera! Natasha is a pretty stellar human. She has 2 kids and is currently working on becoming a nurse. I have acquired some great pregnancy/baby advice from her, which helps to make me feel a little more prepared to welcome our little boy. I’m glad I have so many mommy friends to call in those inevitable moments when I will need advice. Oh, and Natasha also has great general/life tips, like this one: if you download the Panera app, you can get a free bakery item! When she told me that, I immediately downloaded the app and claimed my free chocolate chip cookie, and it was delish. I loved her tip (and my cookie!) so much I thought I would pass it on to you guys… quick, get the app and get your free snack :) What is your favorite order at Panera? I have loved their Frontega Chicken Panini and Broccoli Cheddar Soup for years upon years. So good.

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What are your thoughts on Almond Joys? In Kenya there is a similar candy bar called Bounty, which is almost exactly the same thing except without the almond. I grew up with an appreciation for Bountys, and have always liked almonds, so it was inevitable that I would also enjoy Almond Joys. I know coconut can be one of those “love it or hate it” things, but I’ve always been a major fan. I haven’t had one of these Almond Joys in years but it surely did a fantastic job of satisfying that random hankering for something sweet.

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If you’re getting snow today, I hope you stay safe and warm! :)

Is this a snowday for you too? Where’s your fave place to buy upholstery fabric? Are you a coconut lover or not so much? 

*This content uses referral links. Read my disclosure policy for more info.

Friends, food, and strollers

Hi friends!

I hope your Monday is going well so far! It’s a sunny day around here which makes for a lovely start to the week, even if winter coats are still a necessity.

What did you guys do with your weekend? We had some great friend time and also managed to be fairly productive errand-wise. One of the errands we ran was returning a few library books… The Paying Guests went back to the library –> it turned out to be “meh”. Not terrible, but not necessarily one I’d recommend. Oh well, on to the next!

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Joel made himself a quesadilla –> this is such a good way to use up random leftovers. The green and brown sauces in the middle are leftover from an Indian meal earlier in the week.

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The balloons from our Gender Reveal party were hanging out in the garage waiting for trash pickup day. Just seeing this reminds me how much fun the Reveal was! :)

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I finally got my engagement ring and wedding ring re-sized. I’ve been wanting to do it for a couple years now so I’m glad we got around to doing it. We picked up the wedding band on Friday and will get the engagement ring tomorrow. I love when my rings get cleaned and polished and come back lookin brand spankin new :)

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Joel has been working on cleaning up the trees that fell during the nor’easter last week. I’m glad that we’ll have plenty of firewood, but it sure is sad to say goodbye to those trees. When Spring rolls around, we will plant new trees in those spots.

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Lots and lots of errands were run on Friday night. While we were out and about, we walked past this leather store and Joel randomly decided to check out their leather jackets. Seeing these cowboy boots reminded me of the years we lived in Texas. I used to have a cool pair of cowboy boots which I loved.

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Another one of the things we did was look at carseats and strollers. This is such a new world to us, and it’s been fun learning gobs and gobs of new information.

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Out of all the carseats we saw, we liked the Chicco one best (here). As far as strollers, we liked how light the Graco stroller was, but it was pretty hard for me to fold/unfold it by myself. The Chicco stroller (here) was a little heavier but MUCH easier for me to fold/unfold by myself, even with one hand! Unless we find something we like better in the next several months, we will probably go with the Chicco carseat/stroller combination HERE. Feel free to suggest other brands if you have one you love!

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All that carseat/stroller testing made Joel hungry so we stopped at Auntie Annie’s to grab him a pretzel –> Joel likes mustard on his pretzels. Do you? I do not.

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We then hit up Home Depot to pick up some rug-padding to go under our new rug…

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…and went home to set it all up the living room. This is the rug-pad  –> it is very plush feeling and has a waterproof barrier on one side to prevent spills from going through to the floor.

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And here is how it looks with the rug in place :) There are still a few “bobbles” and creases in the rug from where it was folded during shipping, but those will get worked out over time. The antiqued, imperfect design really floats my boat.

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Turns out arranging furniture and manhandling rugs into place can really work up the ol’ appetite. Eli’s sounded good for dinner — ahi tuna risotto for me and salmon salad for Joel! Half of mine came home with me and was devoured for dinner the following night.

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On Saturday a few of my childhood friends came over for the day! Colleen, Grace, and Amy :) We all went to the same boarding school in Kenya and have remained close over the years since. Amy and Colleen live in New Jersey and Grace lives in Boston, so my house is the perfect halfway point for us all to convene. Grace has a little boy who is the cutest butterball you’ve ever seen. Amy has 2 adorable sons and is expecting her 3rd in just a couple weeks. We made brunch together and made sure to get in lots of talking and laughing.

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Joel headed outside to work on cutting up the tree. Meanwhile, we chatted up a storm inside. These girls are the best.

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Danny and Jack (Amy’s boys) grabbed their toy saws and trooped outside to help Joel. These kids are utterly fascinated by everything that is going on with the tree. They were super excited to help Joel “saw” the tree with their toy saws hah. It was the cutest.

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Asher (Grace’s son) kept us company inside –> he is the most laid back baby and is content to sit back and observe all the activity going on around him.

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After the girls and their kiddos left, Joel and I decided to make use of our MoviePasses (probably our best purchase of 2018). We saw the new Tomb Raider movie – it was pretty good! Alicia Vikander was super tough and awesome. Sidenote: I saw her give an interview last week where she talked about how hard she worked for all those muscles and it made me like her even more!

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My movie snack was plantain chips (find them HERE). You guys know I love these things.

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Sunday consisted of (surprise) grapes on the way to church.

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And after church, we had lunch at Mezcal with a few smallgroup friends. I got steak tacos a la carte (comes with guacamole). I can’t say enough good things about these tacos… they are perfection.

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The rest of Sunday night was pretty low key, and it felt nice to relax at home. Joel and I chatted about boy names we like –> so far we have a list of names we like, but no clear favorites just yet. I’m noticing that we like names that are more traditional (as opposed to trendy). There are just so many cute names out there it is hard to narrow it down!

Got any carseat/stroller recommendations? What’s your favorite brunch food? Seen any good movies lately?    

*This content uses referral links. Read my disclosure policy for more info.

I didn’t have grapes and nobody died

Hi friends!

I know you guys are gonna be shocked to hear this, but……I have not eaten a single grape in 2 days! While grapes are still a solid pregnancy craving of mine, we ran out a couple days ago and haven’t had time to pop over to the grocery store. I thought for sure I would miss grapes like crazy but you know something? I was fine! Instead of starting the day with my usual bowl of chilled grapes, I have been enjoying some pretty stellar fruit smoothies. :)

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Gotta give that blender some love, right? My brother gave us this single serve blender when he moved to South Africa and it’s nice to put it to good use (find it HERE). I love that it’s super easy to use and also simple to clean, which means I am way more likely to want to use it. My smoothies have consisted of mango chunks, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, plus a little water or juice to help the blending process. A nice cold smoothie in the morning is *almost* as good as a big bowl of grapes :)

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Our fresh flowers that we bought last week are still looking mighty lovely over here! There may still be snow on the ground (and even more in the forecast for next week) but these beauties go a long way to injecting a bit of Spring to our home. I’m always amazed how long these flowers last –> I feel like they last much longer than roses, and are way easier on the ol’ wallet compared to roses too.

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Something that’s not looking so fresh –> my old lapdesk. We got this years and years ago in Houston, back when I was working on my doctoral dissertation. The lapdesk came with me to Boston, survived the move to our Connecticut apartment, and somehow also made it here to our house perfectly intact. It was going strong until last year when it quite literally started falling apart at the seams. The bottom cushion is filled with these little white fluffy balls, which started appearing in all corners of our living room. Taping it up extended its lifespan another several months, but the time has finally come to say goodbye to my dear old lapdesk and let it go.

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I ordered a new one, and although the weather last week delayed its arrival, it is finally here (Find it HERE). When I work from home, I am either at my desk or on the couch. These lapdesks make working on the couch much more comfortable, because I don’t have to have the laptop directly on my lap. Just LOOK at this brand spankin new lapdesk… it is big enough to fit my laptop and a mousepad on it, is super comfy to have on my lap, and I know it will get plenty of good use (using it right now to write this!). :)

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My friend Kristi’s daughter Rowan is the cutest thing on the planet. She has been fascinated by the big machines across the street that are clearing trees from the lot. I love that she sits and takes it all in from the doorway. Her cute little curls are way too adorable. I can’t wait to see Kristi and Rowan (and our other girlfriends + their kids) when they come visit in just a couple months! My highschool girlfriends and I have always been very close and I am excited for our little boy to be friends with all their kiddos :)

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Lunch yesterday consisted of leftover Indian food. I love me some lamb korma and chicken saag (spinach & chicken). I hope our kiddo is as big a fan of ethnic cuisine as we are. We will definitely do our best to introduce him to a variety of foods over time.

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Lee was in charge of snacks for last night’s smallgroup and he brought over some fresh fruit and a couple stuffed breads. The stuffed breads are Lee’s “thing” he brings them whenever he is in charge of snacks, and they never disappoint! The stuffed breads and strawberries disappeared into our tummies pretty quickly (I was a mega fan of the strawberries) and by the end of the night the only remnants were pineapple and 2 slices of cantaloupe. Question: what are your thoughts on pineapple? I used to LOVE pineapple as a kid, but nowadays if I eat too much it sort of pickles my tongue. My friend Priscilla and my sister Wairimu say it happens to them too. I still love pineapple but have learned to go easy on the fresh stuff. But cooked pineapple? Load up my plate please, because I can eat piles of it cooked.

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After smallgroup, Joel and I decided to put down our new area rug in the living room. Look at how enormous the living room is with the couch moved out of the way. I am excited about the new rug because it will finally be the right size for the space. Up until now we have been using a different rug that we had in our old apartment, but it is far too small. That rug will instead go into the guest room (it is the perfect size for that space). We weren’t able to finish the rug task because we realized it would be a good idea to get a rug pad for underneath the new rug. We’ll need to pick one up today –> any ideas on where to look? Ideally we would like a rug pad that adds a bit of cushion and “plush-ness” but we aren’t super picky. I guess we’ll see what we can find that fits our budget!

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Joel’s beverage of choice while working on our puzzle was whiskey. He would pick beer or whiskey over wine any day. I can’t say that I miss any of those beverages, but the one thing I am looking forward to after pregnancy is sipping on a nice cold margharita (on the rocks) on a summer’s day out on the patio. Sounds pretty great, right? By the way, Joel is seriously good at puzzles. Maybe it’s the engineer in him, but he has a ton of patience to search for one specific piece amidst the hundreds of pieces, and he also has a good dose of “stick-with-it-ness” and could happily work on the puzzle for hours at a time –> I am rather impressed by his puzzle-solving skills.

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That’s it from me! I hope you guys have an AMAZING weekend! :)

Recommendations on where to look for a rug pad? Does pineapple “pickle” your tongue? What are you up to this weekend?    

*This content uses referral links. Read my disclosure policy for more info.

St. Patty’s Day Parade + Amish Bread!

Hi friends!

Thank you guys for your lovely comments on my Gender Reveal post! We are so excited to have a little boy and can’t wait to hold him in our arms. :) It is quite surreal to think he’ll be here before too long!

How is your week going so far? We had even more snow come our way in the past few days. While a fresh blanket of snow certainly pumps up that “winter wonderland” vibe, I must admit I feel very “meh” about it all. This is pretty normal for March in New England, but can Spring just be here already?

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My friend Kristi got snow down in North Carolina too –> her hubs Evan and daughter Rowan made sure to get outside and enjoy it! I love that they gave their snowman hair and a hat :) Kristi is one of my long-time pals – we met in 7th grade at boarding school in Kenya and have been besties ever since. After we graduated from highschool, we went to the same college, and met our hubbies there. Evan (her husband) was in my statistics class freshman year! Kristi actually knew Joel better than I did back then, and I guess she knows me pretty well too because she would always tell me that I should hang out with him more. It’s funny to think that all 4 of us (Kristi, Evan, Joel, me) spent those college years together :)

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Let’s back up to Sunday. After church we went to Tandoor for some lunch! Joel’s favorite cuisine has always been Indian food, and I am not complaining about that. :) I am glad we enjoy the same foods.

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After lunch we watched the St. Patty’s Day parade for a while. This happens in New Haven every year and this was our first time catching some of it. It was a nice sunny day, and not too cold, which made it quite pleasant to be outside.

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We then went home and unwrapped the baby’s gift from his Aunty Meg (Joel’s sister) –> his very FIRST books! Our kiddo is going to love these! I have always been really interested in quantum physics, so the “Quantum Physics for Babies” book made me particularly happy :)

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Joel’s dinner on Sunday consisted of a very interesting mashup of leftovers from the Gender Reveal… peppers, stuffed bread, bacon-wrapped clam, and probably other random stuff in there too. We still have a good amount of the Reveal cake leftover in the freezer too. Speaking of leftover frozen cake, did any of you guys do the tradition of eating the top tier of your wedding cake on your one-year anniversary? We did not. We got married in Kenya and left the cake in my parents’ freezer when we flew back to the USA.

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My love for grapes is going strong. While green grapes are at the very top of the obsession list, red grapes are pretty high up there too. I wouldn’t say no to cantaloupe if it was in front of me, but right now grapes are my #1 boo. I must have consumed 200 cantaloupes in the first half of this pregnancy, but now I am working my way through piles and piles of grapes :)

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One of the moms who goes to the Moms Brunch (it happens every other week) gave me this “Amish Bread”. Apparently it’s got some yeast and flour in there, and you massage the bag every day for 10 days then bake it. She sent me the instruction for what to do… on Day 5 (today) I added a cup of flour, sugar, and milk (I used almond milk because we didn’t have any cow’s milk – I hope it turns out ok!). It’s my first time trying this and I can’t wait to sample the finished product!

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We made a run to Home Depot to pick up supplies so that Joel can re-right our trees that started leaning over from last week’s nor’easter. I’m sure you guys have noticed that Joel is super handy, which is something I am really thankful for. It’s super cool to me that he can fix and build just about anything :) I’m glad he’ll be able to teach all this stuff to our little boy because I am pretty useless at that kind of thing.

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Vanilla flavored Greek yoghurt was the perfect snack while working on our puzzle. The Stop n Shop brand is delicious!

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We’re making some good headway! We have the entire top edge complete, and big sections of the middle part too.

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My sister-in-law Sonia brought some amazing tea that she picked up from David’s Tea in NYC. It has beets, nuts, and other goodies in the teabag, and not only does it taste like yummy cereal (we added a dash of almond milk), it also turns the water a pretty shade of pink!

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Every now and then I love me some plantain chips! My favorite is the plain kind (they also have garlic) and even though the bag comes with like 3 servings inside, I can eat the whole thing all by my lonesome :)

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I mentioned that some of our dishes have been mysteriously cracking lately. It’s a set that was given to us as a wedding gift over 10 years ago. Over the past 3 or 4 months, we have had to throw out 4 plates due to having big cracks in them. Yesterday I was heating up some lasagna in the microwave and heard a “pop” and saw that the plate had cracked right down the middle! These plates are from Target and are from their “crackle” collection (aptly named haha). They were awesome plates for many years, and we loved using them, but you may want to avoid the “crackle” collection if you are looking for something that will last longer than 10 years.

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I have found that a mug of hot chocolate goes a long way to satiating that hankering for something sweet. THIS is the kind we have, and I am enjoying it immensely! I don’t have a big sweet tooth –> I’m more of a salty/savory person, but there are definitely a few of those moments where I have that “I could go for something sweet” feeling. Hot chocolate gives me that sweet fix for fewer calories compared to downing a bunch of cookies or cake (although there are certainly days when cookies & cake happen too hah!).

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Got any baby books or registry must-haves to recommend? What do you do with your puzzles after you complete them? Your favorite kind of hot chocolate?    

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Our little one’s gender reveal! :)

Hi friends!

It was a pretty big weekend over here! At long last, we FINALLY found out the gender of our little bun in the oven!

But first, let’s rewind to the night before the big reveal. We picked up Freddie and Sonia (my brother and his wife) from the train station –> I am so glad NYC is close enough that we can see them fairly often. We were all hungry so we went to Eli’s for some grub.

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I got the same thing I ordered the past 3 times we went to Eli’s: fish tacos! I had them put the slaw on the side and switch out avocados for guacamole –> perfection :) I did not used to be a fish taco person until I tried these. I sense many more fish tacos in my future.

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After much anticipation, Saturday morning rolled around! Natasha and Bernice came over around noon to help get everything ready.  It’s true what they say… many hands really do make light work!

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Amy came over early too and cooked up several amazing dishes for the party. Everything she made was a major… I mean MAJOR hit: bacon wrapped clams, cheesy onion bites, a crazy good chip dip, and more! She also brought pink and blue balloons, helium (which was tempting to play with hah), a frame that everyone could sign for the baby, and a cute banner for the fireplace where everyone could wager their guesses as far as boy or girl! Amy rocks. :)

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That’s a pretty good looking spread! We had 2 kinds of stuffed breads, red lobster roll bites, lots of different veggies for dipping, chips, gluten free pretzels (Joel’s sister is gluten free), spicy hummus, 3 kinds of cheese, crackers, bacon-wrapped clams, chip-dip, cheesy onion bites, sliced fruit… and of course the star of the show –> CAKE! :)

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We’re so fortunate to be able to share these moments with our awesome friends! I can’t tell you how incredible these people are. Sidenote: my friend Kristi helped me pick out my blue dress + pink necklace combo :) A quick word about the dress: you can find it HERE! It is my very first maternity purchase and boy was it a good one. Let me tell you, it gets a solid A+++ from me! Super comfortable (which is KEY for preggos), not see-through, adjustable neckline, soft fabric, good sleeve/dress length, and quite flattering! I received a ton of compliments and I give all credit to the dress. I know I will keep wearing this even after baby is here –> and another plus is that the wrap-neckline will be conducive to nursing. Oh, and if you’re not pregnant, the regular non-maternity version is HERE!

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The boy/girl guesses ended up being split pretty evenly. :)

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My amazing friend Priscilla and her little boy Edgar –> we’ve been good friends for over 15 years, since freshman year of college! When I lived in Houston, she was living in Philadelphia, and we talked on the phone pretty much every single day. She was my maid of honor and at our wedding in Kenya! She’s a good egg, and I mean it when I say I am VERY lucky to have her as a friend. I am excited for our kids to be friends too! :)

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I get the feels just looking at these smiling faces! Fun fact: I gave Freddie that blue jacket several years ago as a Christmas gift! It makes me happy whenever it makes an appearance :)

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Everyone got to sign this frame, and I am excited to hang it in the nursery (once we replace the stock photo with a real one our kiddo hah). We have a few friends who couldn’t make it to the party who will get their chance to sign it later. :)

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Next up was the onesie decorating contest! We did something similar for my sister’s baby shower –> she had all these special momentos/memories that actually had practical use. Plus, I loved getting photos of my niece wearing the onesie that I decorated for her! It’s definitely a gift that keeps on giving :)

Just LOOK at the concentration going on here –> the focus is real!

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The official time-keeper (Bernice) gave everyone 15 minutes total, and not a second more, to decorate their onesies. The pressure was ON to come up with a design :)

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The judges (Joel and me :) then deliberated on the onesies. Picking a winner was tough – there so many good designs!

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Obviously we took our judging task very seriously :) Our criteria included originality, creativity, execution, cuteness, and artistic prowess (we made up these categories on the spot lol). We gave points in each category to certain designs. The overall winner (most points) took home a prize!

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Announcing the winner of the onesie decorating contest! There were a few honorary mentions for onesies that caught our eye… but the person who took home the prize and all the bragging rights was… drumroll… ELISE!!! Her onesie had a toolbelt design which Joel was a big fan of hah (you can see her design in the above photo, it’s the one with the orange belt that we’re standing in front of).

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And then, my friends, at long last…… It. Was. Time.

That’s right. Time to CUT THE CAKE! After 24 weeks of wondering, speculating, and guessing…. the moment of the big reveal had finally arrived!!!

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Guys. The anticipation and excitement was SO REAL.

When we cut the cake, it took me a moment to process what I saw… I was SO SURPRISED! All the emotions and happiness just bubbled right on up. It was such an incredibly special moment. A couple tears may have happened (I couldn’t help it!) because I just could not contain that amount of joy. It was so cool to be able to share that moment with a few of our favorite people.

I’m so glad Bernice captured the moment on video –> I have re-watched it a million times because I can’t get over the look on Joel’s face when he sees that BLUE ICING!!!

That’s right!… I said BLUE! We’re having a little BABY BOY! :) :) :)

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We are so happy and excited, and CANNOT WAIT to welcome our little fella!

It’s funny, I actually thought it was a girl for the longest time, so I probably did quite a few double-takes to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. :) It’s a boy!

I am excited.

Smiles for miles because we’re all just so excited to meet you, little guy. <3

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Got gender reveal stories to share? Any cute boy names to pass along? What did you do over the weekend?    

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Our first power outage

Hi friends!

It’s looking like winter once again here in good ol’ New England. We had quite the nor’easter a couple days ago which gifted us a fresh blanket of snow. It looked very pretty and serene!

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Despite looking very pretty, the snow was very wet and dense. All that heavy weight took out a lot of trees and power lines in the area, which meant a lot of people lost power. Our power went out in the evening, which was a bit of a the bummer. We were right in the middle of watching Wonder Woman (which is very good!) when everything suddenly went dark. I was worried that the house would get cold (we have gas as our heat source, but the fan that blows the hot air through the house is electric). Thankfully the temperature in the house didn’t change too drastically and the power came back at around 3am.

During the blackout, we decided to break out our jigsaw puzzle. Let me tell you, it is HARD to put a puzzle together by candlelight! Every piece looks identical and your eyes play tricks on you lol. It probably didn’t help that the puzzle is quite intricate and the pieces are tiny. It made for a good activity though, and we even managed to get one of the edges almost completely done –> I feel pretty accomplished about.

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We woke up the morning after the storm to find that a couple of trees on our property had fallen over from the weight of the snow. Joel is working on chopping these up, and we’ll probably need to call a company to help with the bigger pieces. He also wants to secure some of the trees that started leaning over so that they are upright again. Hopefully doing so will help them to re-root.

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After my book club made quesadillas last week, I felt inspired to recreate them. Since I don’t have a quesadilla maker, we did ours in the oven on cookie sheets. We went the non-traditional route and decided to fill them with unexpected ingredients — mostly to use up what we had in our fridge. We had some “regular” stuff in there, like shredded cheese and black beans, but also included other things like leftover paneer (soft cheese), vindaloo curry, and BBQ ribs.

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These “fusion quesadillas” were enjoyed with sour cream and salsa. I didn’t grow up eating sour cream (not sure why but I guess it’s not a big thing in Kenya?) so it’s not something I naturally gravitate to. It’s one of those foods that I feel totally neutral towards… I don’t love or hate it.

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We added the 2 leaves to our breakfast table and now it is at it’s largest size. Normally we like it at its smallest size, but it sure is nice to be able to seat more people at at a bigger table. I wish we had more matching chairs… the dark brown chairs are from our dining table which we don’t use as often as the breakfast table. Fun fact: the breakfast table and 4 matching chairs were the first purchase we made for our house when we bought it. It was quite the steal on Craigslist and we refinished it ourselves in the garage. Sanding everything took forever and made my arms sore (we did it by hand because we do not have a power sander). After a couple coats of poly, the set looked pretty much brand new again!

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Tacos happened. Who else prefers tacos over burritos? I feel like tacos taste way better. Why do burritos taste so bland to me? I filled this taco with steak, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and guacamole. Pretty delicious! The only way it could have been better would have been if there were also some raw onions in there. I miss all the really good tex-mex that we had at our fingertips in Houston. One of my favorite places to go was a restaurant called Chuys – they have the best beef fajita tacos and margaritas! Connecticut needs to get some good tex-mex :)

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Hot chocolate kept me company while getting some work done at home. When snow is on the ground, hot chocolate always sounds killer. Is it weird that I was never into hot chocolate before my 30’s? I didn’t dislike it, I just never reached for it. Another thing I don’t really do is add marshmallows to my hot chocolate (again, I have no idea why because marshmallows are delicious).

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We ran a couple errands in preparation for our Gender Reveal party. One of these errands was to go on the hunt for faux flowers. The Michael’s near us did not have any that we liked, so we ended up picking up some fresh flowers. These definitely won’t last as long as faux, but I love how they perk up a space. Our grocery store has a lot of good options for fairly inexpensive (I think I spent $7.99).

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We settled on this happy little bouquet, which adds a nice breath of fresh air to the room. I hope these flowers last a good long while! The vase was a wedding gift and makes an appearance every now and then. Speaking of wedding gifts, our first set of plates as a married couple is starting to fall apart! In the past several months, 3 of those plates have been thrown out due to having cracks. The cracks go right through the plate so that anything liquidy would drip right through. Weird, right? Thankfully we have another set of dishes that we bought a couple years ago, and those ones are going strong so we aren’t going to run out of dishes anytime soon :)

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I signed up for Amazon Prime again because I figure that it will come in handy for baby stuff. I got rid of it a while ago because we weren’t using it much, but then realized how much I missed it when I had to wait more than 2 days for something hah. One day I am sure all online purchases will have same-day delivery.

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What are your favorite quesadilla ingredients? Did you get any snow this week? If you haven’t already, feel free to throw your guess as far as the baby’s gender! :)