Fragrances and this gal’s pregnant nose

Hi friends!

This week has very spring-like, with a couple sunny days in the 70’s! There’s nothing like an early spring to put a pep in your step. We did have some rain today but I am hanging onto the hope that spring has come early since it is actually warm enough to rain instead of snow. One of my friends is certain that we are due for another big snow storm before it officially warms up, but let’s hope she is wrong about that. :)

I recently started using this Shea hand cream from The Body Shop. I got it a while ago in an airport — I was traveling to a conference. I had some time to kill before my flight, so did some browsing in the airport Body Shop. After I bought this lotion, I threw it into my bag and completely forgotten about it until a couple days ago when I was rummaging around in my bag and found it again. I’m so glad I did! I never go a single day without putting on some kind of lotion on my hands (no idea when that habit started), and my hands love this stuff! It feels really moisturizing, and the bonus is it smells lovely. I would describe the scent as warm, gourmand, and not too overpowering. :)

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Speaking of scents, I haven’t had the urge to wear any perfumes or strongly-fragranced products since being preggo. Non-pregnant Dawn likes perfume on occasion but pregnant Dawn has yet to touch the stuff. My nose is normally quite sensitive even when I’m not pregnant, and pregnancy has certainly heightened that sensitivity. For a few weeks there in the first trimester I had to stay far away from anything scented… I even used fragrance-free body-wash to wash my hands because the smell of our regular hand soap was way too overpowering for my poor nose! Thankfully the hyper-sensitivity to scents has started to simmer down now that I’m out of the first trimester. It’s nice to not feel like I’m choking every time I am near anything even remotely fragranced :)

These green grapes have become something of a staple around here. Right now they are $2.50 per lb at our grocery store. In my opinion that is somewhere between a great price and a meh price. At least they taste amazing –> perfectly ripe, sweet, and juicy! I have found that fresh produce in New England tends to be more expensive compared to the south (and sometimes not as good). I remember paying $0.99 per lb for grapes during the summer at our local grocery store in Houston. I miss those prices!

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Speaking of fruit, here is another staple of the week: fresh peaches! These aren’t super “hairy” on the outside, which I like. The skins aren’t quite as smooth as nectarines, but they are not as hairy as some peaches I have had in the past. Ya know, I can deal with the hairy peach skins (they taste too good not to!), but not having all those tiny little hairs on my tastebuds is great too. We bought extra peaches because this week is our turn to provide snacks for our small group. We plan to do a yoghurt and granola bar, with Greek yoghurt, peaches, cantaloupe, banana, and other “fixins” to add on top. Should be yummy :)

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Joel felt like lasagna for dinner a couple nights ago, so we got takeout from a nearby Italian restaurant. I wasn’t super hungry so I opted for what I THOUGHT was going to be something small (ziti and meatball from the kids menu)… I was wrong. The kids portion was enormous! And you know somethin else? Boy did my eyes bug out of my head when I saw Joel’s meal… his lasagna could have fed a family of 4! But of course it was all very tasty and the abundant leftovers made for some stellar leftovers, so zero complaints here. Side note: I always say Italian is not my go-to cuisine, but then I end up enjoying it when I have it, so not sure what that is about :)

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Breakfast this morning consisted of a smoothie! I haven’t made smoothies in a long time –> we actually got rid of our big blender a while ago (I can’t remember why but I think it was old and falling apart). My older brother David gave us his mini blender when he moved to South Africa, and this was the first time we put it to use. It was a lot easier to use compared to our old clunky one, and made the perfect amount for a single smoothie. I added fresh cantaloupe, a bit of orange juice, and then added some frozen raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and mango. It was pretty delicious! Next time I will also add bananas, peaches, and maybe also some Greek yoghurt for protein. What is your favorite way to amp up the protein in your smoothies? Do you put veggies in your smoothies?

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I found these mini ginger cookies in the bakery section of the store and scooped some up. I fully intended for these to accompany the smallgroup granola/yoghurt bar, but we ended up cracking into them yesterday (oops). They are so darn good! The perfect amount of gingery crunch –> It takes some pretty major restraint to not eat 30 in a row. They remind me of the crunchy ginger cookies we used to eat as kids. When it comes to ginger cookies or gingerbread I prefer crunchy over soft. Although let’s face it, soft gingerbread is pretty good too :)

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Pad Woon Sen noodles for dinner last night :) –> bean thread noodles with onions, scallions, egg, carrots, and baby corn. So incredibly good. I could eat Thai (or any Asian) food every single day. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a personal chef who whipped up whatever you wanted that day? That would be the dream.

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What are your weekend plans? I keep checking my weather app because the forecast is going back and forth between rain and no rain for Saturday. It would be nice to spend some time outside so I am really hoping the rain holds off. At some point we are going to try and see Black Panther with some friends –> we have been wanting to see it since it came out but everywhere near us is sold out (we have MoviePass so we haven’t bought tickets in advance like everyone else).

What’s your favorite way to add protein to your smoothies? What are you up to this weekend? If you had to pick one type of cuisine to have for the rest of your life, what would it be?   

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The perfect movie snack discovery

Hi friends!

Did you have Monday off from work? Joel did not – he had a couple conference calls with clients in Europe. I had a pseudo off day, meaning I got to sleep in a little longer than usual and got some work done at home.

Lucky for me, Jessica was available for a lunch date! We went to Maison Mathis, a place I havent been in quite a while. I debated getting an omelet but finally decided on the quinoa salad.

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Hot chocolate and quinoa salad (I added an egg and some avocado). I have to admit it was not the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had… it tasted watered down. :/  However, the food was absolutely delicious! Between the sundried tomatoes, artichokes, kale, quinoa, egg, and avocado, the salad was bursting with yummy flavor –> I did not need to add a single drop of the vinaigrette that came on the side. :) I ate half and brought the other half home. Now that I am pregnant, I get full faster so I can’t eat big meals all at once. I have been eating frequent smaller meals and so far it has been working out nicely.

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Jessica and I sat there for a while after finishing up lunch, just chatting about life, work, the future, etc, and all that talking meant that we worked up a second appetite for dessert! :) I had my eye on the layered mousse until I saw the price… then changed my mind to go with the mini-eclairs instead.

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When I asked the guy behind the counter about these mini-eclairs, he surprised me by saying that I could have them on the house –> he said I was the nicest customer he’d had all day. :) I thought that was very nice of him! I haven’t had an eclair in forever and these were lovely! Perfectly chilled, and somehow also very light. Yum!

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Jessica opted for a strawberry waffle — she let me sample some of it and boy oh boy was it delicious! Joel and I have been talking about getting a waffle-maker for the longest time and this just sealed the deal for me! In the meantime, I will be going back to Maison Mathis for their waffles in the very near future –> they have a “loaded waffle” which comes with a ton of different berries, and has my name written all over it.

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I just started a new book: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (here). I’m only partway into the first chapter as of now, but I’m interested to see how the story progresses. I picked this book up purely based on the cover when we went to the library and had only 20 seconds before it closed. I didn’t want to leave empty-handed so grabbed this as I was hustling out of there. Hope it’s a good one!

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Bernice has been eating rice cakes for her afternoon snack –> when I saw THESE lightly salted rice cakes at the store I thought of her and had to pick them up. I haven’t had rice cakes in YEARS! Back in college I used to eat the cheddar-flavored Quaker Oats rice cakes all the time (here!). They are pretty tasty for a snack. I remember going to the convenience store to buy snacks like this all the time. There was also a specific protein bar I used to get all the time, because it was easy to throw in my backpack for days when I had hours and hours of biology or chemistry labs.

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Green grapes for lunch because that is what sounded good to me. I can’t get over how good these green grapes are. They are a little smaller than normal so I assumed they would be tart, but they are actually perfectly ripe and juicy, not too tart at all! I should definitely have bought a few more bags of these. :) Speaking of grapes, what do you think about those enormous globe grapes? They look so huge. Do they taste like regular grapes?

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Plantain chips make my day — I LOVE these crispy, salty little things. I have never tried to make my own plantain chips at home, but perhaps I should! I can’t imagine it being too difficult… (famous last words?) haha

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Joel and I decided to catch a movie one evening — The 15:17 to Paris! Did you follow this story in the news when it was happening? I remember being glued to my screen when the story first broke. When I heard that there was a movie coming out based on the real events, I couldn’t wait to see it. The actual guys who were involved in the incident portrayed themselves in the movie. The acting was a little stiff at times (can’t blame them, they aren’t professional actors), but the story was pretty interesting.

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I have discovered my new favorite movie food… sushi! There is a sushi place right next to the movies, so we stopped in to pick up a snack. Joel got a couple spicy salmon rolls (I can’t wait to eat those again), and I got an avocado roll and a cucumber roll. We asked the restaurant to wrap the rolls in aluminum foil, which made them super easy to transport. Since I did not get any soy sauce or ginger, it was very easy to eat these with fingers without creating a big mess. I’m officially a fan of sushi at the movies, it made for the best movie food ever!

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My lunch today: eggy french toast –> 2 eggs on whole grain bread with a bit of kosher salt. I don’t usually add anything to my french toast (Joel likes to top his with maple syrup). Over the past couple days, I have noticed that I have been using mostly eggs as my protein source rather than other meats. This is pretty much because of how easy they are to whip up. Eggs just make life easy.

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My nightly snack of late has consisted of fresh peaches –> these are so good! I remember the first time I met Joel’s family, they lived in a house that had a peach tree in the yard. We would pick beautiful peaches and munch on them all the time! His family has since moved away from that house, but I still remember that peach tree fondly. It makes me want to plant one in our yard too. How awesome would it be to have gorgeous fresh peaches right from our own back yard? :)

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What’s your favorite thing to put on waffles? Have you ever had sushi at the movies? If you had to pick either peaches or grapes to grow in your back yard, which would you choose?   

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Floor seats + lunch crew!

Hi friends!

I hope you had an awesome weekend, wherever in the world you are! My family seems to be having a nice time celebrating Chinese New Year in Singapore. My sister in red, her husband, and their two kids (they live in Holland) with my mom and maternal grandmother who live in Singapore:

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Meanwhile in Connecticut, our Friday night consisted of a movie date! We are putting our MoviePass cards to good use. This time we opted for The Greatest Showman. The cinema was totally packed and we ended up sitting in the front row –> not ideal seats but the comfy reclining chairs helped to make the movie enjoyable still. I liked the storyline of hard work and acceptance, and had the songs in my head for a while :)

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Saturday involved ice skating! Our church rented out one of the ice rinks in the pavilion so admission and skates were free of charge to us. The little kids were super cute with their tiny skates. :) It was Bernice’s first time skating so she made sure to get a few helpful tips from Joel.

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Joel explaining and demonstrating proper skating technique to her.

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Bernice managed to make it all the way around around the rink with the help of Joel and another friend. She is determined to properly learn how to skate so that she can skate at the Rockefeller rink (one of her bucket list items for this decade).

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I opted to watch all the skating from the bleachers as I did not feel like risking falling. I made sure to bring a few Rolos (find them HERE) to munch on. They are so good!

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I also had my trusty water bottle with me (similar HERE), and my book. My habit of carrying water everywhere started back in college. I felt like everyone at my school carried water bottles with them wherever they went — is this a college thing or was it just my school? One of my college roommates, Kelly, was on the volleyball team. She carried around not one, but three of these liter-size bottles with her wherever she went. THREE. She drank somewhere between 4-6 liters of water every single day.

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I am almost done with Beneath a Scarlet Sky (available HERE) –> it is a super enjoyable read and one I happily recommend! I would probably love it even more if I hadn’t taken a hiatus halfway through to read Middlesex (this month’s book club pick HERE).

Random question: Do you have a favorite bookmark? I have been using this 26.2 sticker which I got at my very first marathon. It is my favorite bookmark and always reminds me of my very first time running 26.2 miles. The race was a major struggle but I finished on my own two feet. However, I did not have the race I wanted due to my plantar fasciitis injury. I received a cortisone shot in my foot 10 days before the race and did not run a single step for those 10 days. Not the ideal way to taper for the race (hah) but the good news is I got it done.

I would love to go back to run Hartford again one day. It’s a great course, has decent turnout, tends to have nice weather, and it just happens to take place about 40 minutes from my house!

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After the ice rink we were both hungry so decided to stop in at Eli’s again for lunch. Those fish tacos were calling my name for the second week in a row! Joel opted for a Philly Cheese Steak and a wheat beer. My tacos came with a coleslaw and black bean pico on the side, but I didn’t end up touching either of those — I was very focused on my tacos :) Just like last time, I ate 2 there and the third came home with me.

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We relaxed at home for a few hours before heading to the Yale vs Harvard women’s basketball game! We swung by Walter and Kelly’s apartment to pick them up, and then met up with Joan later at the game. We got floor seat tickets through one of the coaches who goes to our church. It was the first time in my life to sit that close to a game… it is quite a different experience compared to regular seats!

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One of the perks included with our floor seat tickets was access to the lounge and food, including a two salad options, various types of pizza, and a couple types of cookies for dessert. Drinks included wine, juice, and water. Great spread! I felt very spoiled!

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The Yale mascot is a bulldog named Handsome Dan. Sometimes Handsome Dan makes an appearance at games –> sadly we did not see him at the basketball game, but we have seen him before at football games. This is the original Handsome Dan from the early 1900’s. Bulldogs used to look so different:

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Sunday morning we were late for church, partly because Joel was snow-blowing our driveway, and partly because we took our time with breakfast. I made him some eggy french toast (2 whole eggs and a bit of salt on one piece of honey nut whole grain bread, cooked on stove top with olive oil). He sometimes adds maple syrup on his french toast but this time he opted for raspberry preserves.

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After church we headed to Brother Jimmy’s BBQ for lunch. None of us had been there before, and we all enjoyed it!

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Joel got the brisket sandwich with brussel sprouts on the side. Back in Houston we always ate brisket with pickles and onions, so he made sure to request some.

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The lunch crew! Can’t wait to do this again!

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After lunch we headed to our grocery store to pick up essentials for home. Joel and I are in agreement that this is the largest amount of cantaloupe we have EVER gone through. These pregnancy cravings are somethin else. I could skip cantaloupe for a day but that is not something I’m interested in doing anytime soon :)

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The rest of Sunday evening was super relaxed. We hung out at home watching the Olympics and vegging on the couch. I am currently sipping on watermelon-flavored sparkling water while typing this, with Joel snoozing next to me. It’s a very relaxing Sunday evening around here.

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What did you do over the weekend? Do you put anything on top of your french toast? Any books or movies to recommend? 

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The best flavor combo on the planet

Hi friends!

Thank you for all the love on my last post! We are so excited to welcome our little bundle this summer :) Our friends and family are split half and half as far as whether they think it is a boy or girl… Weigh in on what you think! –> I can’t wait to find out!!

Let’s catch up on the past few days…

Who else got an early jump on taxes this year? It feels so good to get that done and out of the way. While riding that high of sense of accomplishment due to finishing our taxes, we stopped in at Eli’s for an early dinner. I had the tacos and Joel opted for their ahi tuna burger. This food deserves an A+ all around! I squeezed a good amount of lime onto my tacos, downed two of them, and the third came home with me to be consumed later that evening when I got hungry again :)

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Joel made an emergency morning trip to the grocery store to replenish our cantaloupe reserves. WHAT A GUY. He even sliced it all up for me before I made it downstairs for breakfast! Boy oh boy, there’s nothing like finding a big bowl of beautifully chilled cantaloupe just waiting to be enjoyed. I’m glad he supports my cantaloupe craving — he certainly knows the key to my heart <3

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I finished Middlesex! It’s a very long book and at times somewhat verbose, but wowwiee, what a story! I can’t wait to discuss it with my book club in a couple weeks. Friendly PSA: Don’t marry your sibling, kids.

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Between now and when our book club meets, I will be catching up on Beneath a Scarlet Sky (I got about halfway through before pausing to read Middlesex). So far so good!

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Looking up chords so that he can play guitar and sing a song for the baby! I love the concentration :)

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Oh just cooking up some broccoli for dinner — what’s your favorite way to prepare broccoli? Back in Houston, I used to steam it in this cool steamer that goes right into the microwave. In recent years, I have also found an appreciation for roasting it in the oven. But these days I tend to cook it on the stove top with olive oil and salt. Easy and tasty! I find that the broccoli is consistently good from our grocery store. The brussel sprouts, while another favorite of ours, can sometimes be hit or miss (we once got a bag that was completely spoiled). Thank goodness the broccoli is normally a safe bet.

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Crackers and salsa because we did not have tortilla chips. Not a bad substitution, but I won’t be giving up tortilla chips anytime soon :) My favorite tortilla chips are the Tostitos Hint of Lime, yummmm. Side note: the hint of lime chips remind me of watching the superbowl back in college. My friend Kristi and I made a special trip to the store to buy a bag of those chips, and then headed to Joel’s dorm to watch the game with him. We made it just in time for the halftime show and Janet’s wardrobe malfunction.

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Catching up on Greys Anatomy with a bowl of vanilla bean ice cream. Joel prefers regular vanilla but I am solidly on Team Vanilla Bean.

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What did you do for Valentines Day? This year we went to Taste of Brazil! We have heard good things and have been wanting to go for years. I’m glad this was the year we made it happen! They have a salad bar buffet (which has a ton of salad options and also cooked veggies, rice, and meats) and they also bring meat to each table on big skewers so that they can slice off pieces for you. My favorite dish from the salad bar was the cucumber salad with cilantro, lime, and avocado. It was super light and fresh, and complemented the savory meat nicely.

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They gave us mini tongs that we could use to grab the meat as they sliced it off the skewer. There were several different types of meat (beef, pork, chicken, etc) and varying specialty cuts. Everything was seasoned to PERFECTION!

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For dessert, we opted for this Brazilian Flan gem. Gotta love a good flan! Our Valentines date was quite the success!

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After work, Bernice and I headed to Target so that she could pick up a few items for her mom. I have a card that gets 5% off, and I like to share that perk with friends who don’t have the card (they venmo me back). When we arrived, I realized I forgot to eat lunch so we swung into Chick Fil A for some nuggets.

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The Chick Fil A water with lemon has got to be the most refreshing drink on earth. I need to be adding lemon to my water at all times.

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Our Target trip included some pretty stellar finds, including these “nothing added” dried mango. I should probably go ahead and invest in a dehydrator so I can make my own at home. Bernice picked some up too :) We may or may not have dug into our mango snacks while walking around the store…

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Bernice introduced me to this sparkling water — I am officially a fan! It’s got the perfect amount of bubbles and flavor. I’m usually a seltzer person but since getting pregnant I have been all about plain water (and lots of it!). This sparkling water is a refreshing change though! I will 100% be back to try more of their flavors.

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This week was Natasha’s turn to do snacks for our small group, and she absolutely NAILED it! Fresh veggies, a chocolate bobka, 3 types of homemade hummus (plain, red pepper, and cilantro lime), fresh pita, flax seed tortilla chips, pickled beets, and pickled turnips!

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Guys… I could NOT get enough of her homemade lime cilantro hummus! As you can probably tell, I am always down for the cilantro + lime combo. (I’m just realizing I’ve mentioned cilantro and lime quite a lot in this post?) I am convinced it is the best flavor combo on the planet! I know cilantro tastes like soap to some people but to me it is magic.

When I get hummus it is usually the store bought kind, normally garlic or red pepper flavored. I have never thought to buy or make cilantro lime hummus, but this stuff is a total game-changer. Joel and I have made our own hummus at home before but it has been a while. I will need to get Natasha’s recipe so that I can replicate this amazingness in large quantities!

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Your thoughts on the cilantro + lime combo? Ever had Brazilian food? When do you usually do your taxes?

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Our news

Hi friends!

Guess what…

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…That’s right, we’ve got a cute little bun in the oven! :)

Some of my favorite things about pregnancy so far include:

  1. Developing a deep and meaningful bond with cantaloupe
  2. Joel saying “group hug” when he hugs me :)
  3. Talking about names that we like… quite the task!
  4. Joel talking to the baby every day (“hey, this is your dad”) <– aww
  5. Seeing all the adorable stretches, wiggles, and flips during ultrasounds
  6. Joel playing guitar and singing for the baby… it is just so sweet
  7. Getting to tell our friends and family the exciting news and feeling so loved by their happiness and support :)

While pregnancy has mostly been a breeze, I’ve definitely also had some of the less desirable effects… like first-trimester fatigue, heartburn at night, headaches in the evenings, weird/vivid dreams, and plenty of going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Thankfully I have not experienced much in the way of nausea or food/scent aversions, so that has been nice.

As far as cravings, I have only ONE to speak of, and you guys already know this one –> cantaloupe! :) Yep, I am always down for some of that sweet orangey good stuff.

We are so super excited! It’s going to be quite the summer — CAN’T WAIT! :)

Any guesses as far as boy or girl? 

Fridge update + a nostalgic restaurant!

Hi friends!

How was your weekend? We had a pretty relaxing weekend around here. Friday started out bright and early with… you guessed it!… cantaloupe! I am slowly (or not so slowly) making my way through Connecticut’s supply of cantaloupe.

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We decided to get a jump on our taxes this year. We were getting all our documents printed and organized when we realized we needed more printer ink. Cue a trip to our local staples to pick up a cartridge. Why is printer ink so expensive…

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After picking up our ink, we drove passed Lumi Asian Fusion and figured we’d check it out for dinner. We had never been before but always talk about going whenever we drive past it. I don’t think we have been to an Asian fusion place since living in Texas. They seem to be all over Houston but not as many in Connecticut.

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I normally like spicy salmon sushi rolls or salmon sashimi, but this time opted for a couple rolls from their “cooked rolls” section: shrimp tempura and a mango roll. Joel got a tuna roll and a couple other raw ones that I can’t remember. My shrimp tempura was a very nice change from my usual raw sushi choices, but my heart remains with all things salmon.

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The restaurant surprised us by giving us a cute little dessert on the house. :) I love fruit for dessert! Growing up in Nairobi, my family always had fruit for dessert. I don’t think we ever did “normal” desserts… just a lot of apples, oranges, mangoes etc… *sigh* I sure do miss having mangoes all the time.

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Saturday was a warm day for February (50 degrees!). I met up with a friend, Natasha, for lunch at Rice Pot. This was Joel and my favorite Thai place when we lived in New Haven, and it felt nostalgic to be back.

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I normally like to get either a noodle dish or their sizzling chicken. But this time I decided to try their sizzling beef.  It came out on this enormous platter… more than half of it came home with me for leftovers. It was super tasty, but I have to say I prefer the sizzling chicken –> the chicken tastes like it’s cooked differently compared to the beef (maybe seasoned and baked?), and it also comes with a wider variety of veggies.

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Natasha opted for a chicken dish and I was 100% eyeing it the entire time. As you might imagine, I had major order envy! :)

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Joel worked on finishing up the window muntins and getting them back onto the windows. He wants to go around the trim with paint one last time to clean up some of the edges of the walls. This project has taken a good bit longer than either of us anticipated, but we are almost done! :)

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We decided on a mini date-night that evening, and so headed to the movies. Originally we wanted to see the Last Jedi but it was no longer playing at our theater. Joel has already seen it but I guess I will just have to wait till it’s out on Netflix. Instead, we opted for Jumanji. It was a pretty funny movie — Kevin Hart is hilarious and the dynamic between him and Dwayne Johnson just tickles me. Now that we officially have our MoviePass cards, we will be back for many more movies!

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What is your favorite movie snack? I like popcorn as much as the next person (kettle corn or plain salted are my 2 favorites), but this time around I brought in some Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal in a ziplock bag. It was the perfect snack!

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Sunday was quite the rainy day. But at least it’s warm enough to rain instead of snow, amirite? :)

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We left church later than expected due to catching up with friends (not a bad reason! haha) — we had planned to go the grocery store right afterwards but were way too hungry by the time we left. So we made a stop at one of our favorite Indian buffets… Zaika!

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Their buffet changes each week, which I appreciate a lot. Joel politely inquired about whether there was any beef (there were no beef dishes in the buffet that day) and the lovely server surprised us by bringing out a bowl of curry beef just for us, at no extra charge :)

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With tummies full of awesome Indian food, we headed to the grocery store to pick up some essentials for the week.

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My absolute favorite find at the grocery store were these “nothing added” dried mangoes! No sugar, sulfur, etc! It was so delicious. I love dried mango! I tried to make dried mango in the oven once and it didn’t work out very well. I should probably get a dehydrator so that I can make my own proper dried snacks.

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The rest of Sunday afternoon/evening was spent at home. Joel did some tinkering with the fridge (we’ve been seeing a weird error message and hearing strange alarms beeping for a few days)… he found that the evaporator was completely frozen over, so there may not have been enough refrigerant flowing through the expansion device. <– direct quote from Joel who is an engineer and knows way more about this stuff than me. :)

We transferred all the food from the fridge to the deck in plastic bags (good thing this happened in the winter — the temperature outside was perfect for this) and all the frozen food to a cooler packed with ice. Then we unplugged the fridge and let it completely defrost.

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Once everything was totally defrosted, Joel plugged it back in and we let the inside of the fridge and freezer cool down again. The good news is this seems to have corrected the issue –> no more error messages or beeping alarms! :) Let’s hope we won’t have any further issues with this or any other kitchen appliance.

My Sunday dinner consisted of grapes –> I wasn’t super hungry given our Indian lunch and grapes just sounded good. I’m pretty sure these are some of the best red grapes I have ever had. Connecticut pals: the red grapes at Stop and Shop are absolute PERFECTION right now, go get some! :)

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My brother Gibbs is currently at Diani Beach on the coast of Kenya. He’s actually there for a few meetings, not a vacation… but just LOOK at how beautiful it is. I wouldn’t mind being teleported there right this instant!

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What’s your favorite snack to sneak into the movies? Have you ever made your own dried fruit snacks? What movies are you excited to see this year?

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When the fridge is on the fritz

Hi guys!

What a weird week weather-wise! We’ve had everything from snow to sleet, rain, sun, fog, and freezing rain. Temps are expected to be mild (40’s) over the weekend so I am excited for the relatively balmy weather. I feel like every winter is a weird winter, but this one seems to be particularly weird. hah! Check out the sheet of ice currently sitting on our patio.

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Our kitchen appliances seem to be revolting at the moment — namely, our fridge. It started randomly beeping the other day with quite the strange error message.

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Joel tried to look up what the message means and how to fix it, but it isn’t anywhere in the manual…?? So we are not quite sure what to do about it at the moment. The inside of the fridge and freezer seem to be operating fine, and there are no issues with the compressor or parts in the back. So our food is safely chilled/frozen (phew!). We aren’t sure if this error is just an issue with the computer on the front of the fridge. If you have any insight, please feel free to share!

My awesome friend Priscilla and I have been friends since freshman year of college. We lived on the same floor of our college dorm and were both Biology majors. Our friendship solidified when we took a statistics class together –> who remember college stats? At the time I swore it would be the LAST stats course I ever took for the rest of my life…. little did I know that I had YEARS more of statistics ahead in graduate school! Hah! Anyway, Priscilla now lives in Queens NY and has a cute 7 month old baby boy. We were video-chatting when he woke up early from his nap. I love his adorable bed-head :)

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I finally headed back to the gym after a long hiatus. Usually I stick to the treadmill when I am at the gym. I normally hop right on, run 6-7 miles, then head home. But this time I opted for the elliptical instead. It felt good to get some cardio and ease back into that workout life. I must admit though… the elliptical is just not exciting to me for some reason. I felt like the time passed waaaay slower compared to the treadmill?? Each minute felt like 10 times longer than that. Maybe I need to listen to music while working out instead of an audiobook.

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My post-workout lunch –> salmon, broccoli, carrots, and quinoa! Salmon is quickly becoming one of my favorite things. I love to cook it in butter on the stove top and then add a spritz of lemon juice. Yum. :)

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Just a photo of some waterfalls from Joel’s camping trip with Walter last weekend. They hiked around 25 miles total. Joel’s sleeping bag is made for temps down to 30 degrees but it was definitely much colder than that overnight — single digits! He used the foil blanket that I got after my first marathon as a heat shield blanket – he wrapped it over his sleeping bag at night. Brrr.

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The other day I was heading out of a meeting when the hunger pangs struck. I made a beeline for Rubamba and got myself a Columbian style arepa. They also do Venezuelan arepas but in my opinion the Columbian arepas CANNOT be beat. They are well and truly crazy good! I could have done without the yellow rice, but the combination of the seasoned beef, the sweet arepa (under the beef), the savory guacamole, the hot sauce, and plantains really hit the spot. If you have never had a Columbian arepa, you need to run — do not walk — to your nearest Columbian restuarant! You will not regret it :)

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Connecticut friends: while you’re at it, get yourself one of these cards at Rubamba… after 10 meals, you get one half off! I am happy to report that my next meal will be 50% off! YISSS :)

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Bernice, Ro, and I got together for our monthly “breakfast club”! We go to a different place each time, and in the process we are discovering a lot of really awesome eateries in the area. This time, we met up at the State Street Cafe! They do great breakfast and brunch foods (they also have *killer* burgers) and the prices are super reasonable. I started out with a hot chocolate, which seems to be becoming my breakfast club tradition.

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Ro and I both ordered the “Big 2” which includes 2 french toasts, 2 meats (I got sausage), 2 eggs (I had mine scrambled), and homefries. Bernice is still in the midst of a huge challenge at her gym and is staying far away from carbs, so she stuck with an omelet with mushrooms, tomato, and spinach. The portions were so big that half of this came home with me and was later consumed as my dinner. :) I will be back at some point to try their Californian Benedict (eggs benedict with avocado) and other things on their menu. As always, I felt refreshed from the inside out after spending time with these ladies. I don’t know how I got so fortunate but there’s no denying I have hit the friendship jackpot.

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The 3 of us swung through Target briefly to pick up some essentials. Of course we HAD to spend a little time in the candle isle. I found my all-time favorite candle (rosemary mint soy vegan candle) and was very tempted to purchase a backup. I still have one at home plus another randomly scented candle that I haven’t even burned yet, so I could not justify purchasing it. I hope this candle is a permanent thing at Target because I will 100% be back for it in the future.

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Bernice and I went on a 3 mile walk together and chatted about life. We passed a gas station and had to pop in. She picked up a strawberry blow pop (her only indulgence) and I spied these Necco candies –> Joel loves these, and seeing them made me think of him. I picked up a couple for him — I think it’s funny that he likes these old-school candies.

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Your thoughts on Neccos and other “classic” candies? Ever had a kitchen appliance go on the fritz? What’s on your workout playlist?  

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My fave candle + a 3 course meal!

Hi friends :)

Don’t you just love when you discover an amazing restaurant in the EXACT moment that you need something great to eat? A couple days ago Joel and I were out running errands when the hunger pangs struck us. We were in a town that we are not super familiar with and had no idea where to stop for lunch. We were debating what to do while at a stoplight when I looked up and suddenly saw the perfect place! Pho & Spice!

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There is a special place in my heart for Thai food (and also Vietnamese… anything Asian really)! So I was very excited that we happened up on this gem. There is actually a Pho & Spice location in New Haven which we have been to a couple times. Based on our prior experience, we knew we were in for some good food. :)

The menu is quite sizeable with plenty of options to suit pretty much every preference. I debated a few alternatives but finally settled on one of the lunch specials. The lunch special price is pretty great (around $9) and you get 3 “courses”. First came a spring roll and dumpling… yum :)

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And then came this incredible seaweed soup. It was a very cold day so this piping hot soup really hit the spot. I could have downed another 2 or 3 bowls of this.

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The main course, star of the show… salmon with vegetables and rice. It looks like a small portion, but that’s just because the plate is enormous. This was a generous amount of food and half of it came home with us for leftovers. I’m pretty thrilled with our choice of restaurant. This is a good reminder that we need to return to the Pho & Spice in New Haven for a meal sometime soon! :)

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Let’s talk footwear and back pain! When I want to do something outside in the winter, I generally reach for my hiking boots. They keep my feet warm and dry, and are super comfortable. Can’t go wrong, right? However, after going on a long (2+ hour) walk on a paved trail in my boots, I felt a NIGGLE in my lower back. Eeeek!

Let me give you some backstory here (pardon the pun hehe)… there is a specific muscle in my lower back that actually SPASMED a couple years ago after I went back to running too soon following a marathon (please do not repeat my mistake) –> the acute back pain went away in a couple days but my lower back took almost an entire year to feel back to “normal” again. Ever since then, I continually work on strengthening those muscles and the muscles surrounding (glutes, hips, hams, core, etc) and keeping up with stretching. All of this has helped a LOT.

It has now been 2 years since that awful back spasm, and in general my back feels fine. But when I felt that little niggle, it was a reminder to double-check everything from my form, gait, strength training, stretches, and even footwear. I think my hiking boots may have been partially to blame — they are heavier than regular running shoes and since I keep them loosely laced (I like to be able to slip my feet in and out) they may not have provided as much support as I thought. All of this may have changed my gait slightly. 2 hours is a long time to go with a modified gait, and it would definitely take its toll on any weak links in the kinetic chain!

In addition to keeping up with the strength training, I am also going to be careful about choice of footwear! Those hiking boots (properly laced up lol!) are great for actual hiking, but real training shoes are probably more appropriate for when I’m out on paved trails. I definitely notice that my back feels totally fine even after super long walks in these :)

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In other news, Joel and I popped into Nica’s Market for sandwiches the other day. When we first moved to Connecticut, their sandwiches were around $6 each. Now they are $8 or even $8.50 depending on the sandwich. It’s still a pretty good deal considering the size of the portions (usually enough for 2 meals). But regardless, it sometimes stinks to see those prices going up!

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While we were there, we spotted a couple of my favorite Toblerone! I wish our grocery store sold these but I must admit: finding this chocolate in random places makes it more of an exciting treat (compared to always having it in the house). Find it HERE!

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My favorite sandwich from Nica’s is “The Flag” which comes with mozerella, tomato, fresh basil, salt, pepper, and olive oil. It’s pretty stellar! This time around I felt the urge to add grilled chicken for some extra protein. It tasted nice but I definitely prefer the sandwich “as is” (without chicken). Joel went for the “Alpino” sandwich, which comes with Bresaola, arugula, red onions, olives, shredded parmigiano or Swiss, and olive oil. He added a few kettle cooked jalapeno chips on the side :)

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Just some cantaloupe in the car while heading over to BJ’s with Bernice. It may not be the most travel-friendly of foods, but its deliciousness makes up for that. Joel picks out the best cantaloupes — perfectly ripe, sweet, and juicy.

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Would you believe this was my very first time in a BJ’s? Bernice has a membership and invited me to tag along on her shopping trip so that I could check out their bulk prices. I will be back with her to pick up things in bulk. Since it’s just Joel and I at home mostly, we do not have our own membership. I feel like memberships make sense for bigger families, or if you can split it with someone. It sure is nice to have friends who are members though! I need to put a list of things together for the next time I am here with Bernice.

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Have I mentioned my favorite candle of late? I love this Rosemary Mint vegan soy candle. The scent is light and clean, and absolutely perfect for small spaces. Probably the best thing about it is that it isn’t too over-powering or cloying. I have a sensitive nose (Joel calls it my Super Sniffer) and do not always enjoy strong scents. This lightly fragranced little guy is perfect! I also love that it is soy so I don’t have to wonder what it is releasing into the air of my home. :) I got it on sale at Target over the holidays… I hope Target still carries these because I definitely want to get more!

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What do you recommend buying in bulk? I’m thinking toilet paper, beef/chicken to freeze, but other suggestions are welcome! Your favorite soy candle? What exercises and stretches do you prefer for your lower back? 

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

Superbowl weekend + the nicest human

Hi guys!

How was your weekend? Congrats to the Eagles and their fans on quite a Superbowl win! Joel is a Patriots fan so he’s not thrilled with the outcome of the game, but it was a good one to watch!

Let’s rewind to the end of last week –> we host a smallgroup every week which usually involves food, games, and discussion of the Bible. It was Ming’s turn to bring snacks this time and he brought over this UNBELIEVABLE homemade Kahlua Cake. Dessert should not be allowed to be this good…

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There was some freezing rain that night so a few folks were late… which just gave us more time to hang out and chat while we waited for everyone to arrive :)

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Dooz announced that he is moving back home to Pennsylvania :( We will be so very sad to say goodbye but are excited for him to start his next chapter of life. Saying goodbye always makes me wish I could round up all our friends and family from around the world and bring them to Connecticut. It would be so nice if we all lived in the same place!

After the smallgroup discussion wrapped, a few of the guys headed down to the basement for ping pong. Joel is pretty good and hasn’t lost a game to any of our friends… yet… :)

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Joel headed off for a weekend camping trip with our friend Walter. Bear in mind we are RIGHT in the middle of a New England winter… the weather decided to test their cold-tolerance and gave them highs in the 20’s and overnight temps in the single digits. Brr! Way too cold to sleep outside! Just thinking about it gives me a chill. Spoiler: the guys survived their winter camping trip and had a great time!

Before Joel left, he made some trail mix to snack on while he’s out there (you know, gotta have a snack while freezing your buns off hah). Granola, craisins, raisins, honey peanuts, salted peanuts. He also took a couple eggs with him but they froze solid and did not thaw until he got back home.

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My dinner Friday night –> leftover broccoli, carrots, quinoa, and bok choy! Not very exciting but I always feel good when I eat leftovers.

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Saturday’s breakfast involved a scrambled egg with quinoa and a glass of orange juice. I haven’t had OJ in quite a while but there was some in the fridge and it looked enticing.

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I drove over to meet Bernice at her apartment. We then walked over to downtown New Haven. It was only 30 minute walk or so and it felt great to get some activity in. I finally remembered to charge my Garmin watch (similar Garmin HERE), so it was fun being able to track mileage again. On days like this I am tempted to get a fitbit, but then I remember that my Garmin is better for running. The only thing my Garmin doesn’t do that a fitbit does, is count steps. It was a nice sunny day but very cold (I couldn’t imagine camping in this!).

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We made it over to Battel Chapel with plenty of time to spare before Dr. Cornel West’s lecture. We grabbed seats in the front as soon as the security guards and dogs did their sweep. Look at how beautiful this chapel is! Fun fact: a couple Christmases ago we came to this same chapel with my youngest sister Kabi for the Hallelujah Chorus Sing-a-long!

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Dr. West. He is brilliant, passionate, empowering, charming, funny, and utterly inspiring! We need more people like him in this world.

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After the talk, Jessica surprised us by popping over to our seats –> turns out she was sitting across from us the whole time and we had no idea! Bernice and Jessica stood in a long line to get their books signed and pictures taken with Dr. West. I did not have a book to sign but tagged along as the designated photographer and fangirl.

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We were super hungry afterwards so the 3 of us walked over to B Natural for a bite. I got the turkey avocado sandwich which sounded amazing… but sadly it ended up being kinda meh… it could have used a LOT more avocado, and also the turkey was on the dry side. Not the best sandwich I’ve ever had, but it felt good knowing all the ingredients are pristine. The next time I go back to B Natural, I will try their power bowl or protein bowl –> those looked amazing and I don’t know why I didn’t just go for one of them?…

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We chatted for a while and then decided we still had room for dessert :) so we walked over to a vegetarian place called Claire’s Corner Copia. I’ve heard awesome things about Claire’s and was excited to give it a try. Jessica got the vegan Lithuanian Coffee Cake and let Bernice and I sample bites (very tasty indeed) and Bernice got a vegan chocolate chip cookie which was also good (not quite the same as a regular cookie but still good!). I got a hot Russian Fruit Tea which had chopped apple and some type of red berry in it. Very yummy! It would probably be amazing in the summer as an iced drink too!

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Superbowl Sunday was quite eventful… did you watch the game? It was a nail-biter at times! We made 3 different types of chicken wings and also cake for dessert. Friends who came over brought potluck style dishes including mini hotdogs, chili, cheese platter, chips & salsa, roasted chickpeas, kale salad, bean dip, and veggies & hummus! We had quite the amazing spread! The hits of the night were Kelly’s bean dip (which was literally SCRAPED clean) and also her kale salad of which I happily consumed 2 heaping plates!

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Ugo (behind me in the glasses) is seriously one of the nicest humans in the world. His wife will be joining him in Connecticut in a couple weeks and I am super excited to meet her! I just know she will be amazing based on how awesome he is and all the cool things I’ve heard about her! I hope she is fully prepared to be my very good friend because THAT is happening. :)

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Just a few of us gals proving that we can still be friends despite our differences (Jessica is a major Eagles fan but I will forgive her for that haha).

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Everyone minus Elise and Amy — how did they not make it into the shot?? There were equal parts Eagles fans and Patriots fans in attendance so there was a good bit of banter/rivalry going on. The game had a lot of twists and turns, which I suppose makes it more interesting than one team totally demolishing the other –> although Joel would have been fine if it was the Patriots who were doing the demolishing :)

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What’s your favorite superbowl dish/snack? Your thoughts on winter camping? Doing anything to celebrate/honor Black History month?   

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How he saved the day + the most extravagantly sweet place in New Haven!

Hi friends!

We just had another warm winter day around here (high of 40!) so you better believe I was pretty thrilled about that. Crazy to think that February started out in such a balmy way. Granted we do have a chilly weekend up ahead, but I can look past that as long as we get a few warmish sunny days here and there! :)

Let’s rewind to earlier in the week — I’m still thinking about this yummy dinner of salmon, broccoli, carrots, brown rice, and quinoa. Totally hit the spot! I will definitely repeat this again and again.

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The state of our kitchen sink was pretty dire. Luckily we have a dishwasher which makes life easier, but sometimes I just don’t even have the energy to unload and re-load the dishwasher. Joel made my day and took care of ALL of it! <3 He saved the day! :)

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I was a couple blocks away from our old neighborhood in New Haven, and it brought back lots of memories! We really enjoyed our 3 years living in New Haven. I certainly love where we are now, but there are many aspects of New Haven life that I miss. I could say the same thing about Houston life and Kenya life too… every place is so different, but I miss certain aspects about each of them! I guess there will always be something I love and miss about each place that I live! :)

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Joel’s lunch yesterday — he added turkey to his ramen noodles and it looked quite stellar. I will have to copy him in the near future. Pretty soon we will need to replenish our ramen stock… I like to get THIS pack of 20 — absolutely delicious!

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We took a quick trip to the library last night before it closed. Joel needed to return some books and I tagged along just because. We arrived at 7:55pm (it closes at 8) so I did not have time to browse like I normally would. I ended up selecting this book (The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters) based only on the cover — I didn’t even read the back! Hopefully it turns out to be a good read!

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When we left the library, we were hungry. It was late too (for us), so neither of us felt like doing anything cooking-related. We ended up picking up dinner. Given the choice, I normally go for tacos over burritos. But this time I decided to venture into the burrito world.  I opted for this steak burrito (steak, black beans, guacamole, cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa, and sour cream included). It was tasty, but my preference of tacos remains undeterred.

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This morning after my usual cantaloupe (can’t skip that even for one day), I scrambled a couple eggs for breakfast. I haven’t made scrambled eggs in a while! Over easy is usually my favorite but these were pretty great too!

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I recently learned the difference between vanilla ice cream and vanilla BEAN ice cream… apparently vanilla bean has little pieces of the actual vanilla bean mixed in (makes sense, right? lol) –> if you look closely, the ice cream has little black dots all throughout! Am I the only one who did not know what those little black dots were until now?… :)

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Ro and I got to go out for a walk together! It was so lovely and sunny. There were a lot of people out running and walking their dogs. I’m glad we took advantage of the awesome weather.

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The trail was a little wet in certain spots, but most of it was nice and dry. That will all change in the near future because we are supposed to get rain overnight. With the freezing temps expected this weekend, I’m sure the trail will soon be pretty icy! I’m glad we got to get out on it before that happens. :)

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I’ve been doing some strength workouts at home lately and really enjoying it. My go-to routine so far is (2 sets of 20 for each of the following)

  • Legs, hips, glutes:
    • Lateral leg lifts
    • Clam shells
    • Donkey kicks
    • Fire hydrants
    • Weighted double-leg squats (right now using a 5 lb weight in each hand)
    • Weighted single leg squats
    • Hip hikes
  • Arms (with 5 lb weights)
    • Bicep curls
    • Overhead tricep curls
    • Lateral arm raises (not sure if this is what they are called)
    • Overhead press

Eventually I will work up to 3 sets of 20 for each, and also add heavier weights. The lower body stuff was my post-run routine to keep the legs running happy. I incorporated these exercises into my routine after experiencing random pains and niggles in the IT band and piriformis. Strengthening those muscles (along with consistent foam rolling and stretching) seemed to resolve these issues which meant pain-free running! :)

From the other day –> Ro and I were both in the mood for donuts, so we spontaneously headed to “Donut Crazy” in New Haven :) I was lucky enough to find a parking spot right in front, so I felt pretty cool about that.

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Their selection of donuts is insane! So many fancy donuts to choose from! They also have all the “regular” donuts, like glazed, plain, boston cream, and blueberry.

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I ended up going with the Black Hawk (bottom photo, middle right) and Ro picked the Peanut Butter Explosion (bottom photo, bottom right). I brought one home for Joel — he picked one called Butternut (above photo, bottom right).

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A closeup of my Black Hawk donut! It was enormous — I could only eat a quarter of it, and ended up bringing the rest home. Seriously delicous! Boy oh boy, talk about a sugar rush! It’s a chocolate donut topped with oreos and chocolate icing… phew! This donut is 100% a chocolate-lover’s paradise.

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Ro’s Peanut Butter Explosion donut was equally as extravagant — a chocolate donut with peanut butter in the center, as well as peanut butter icing and peanut butter cereal (I can’t remember what it’s called?). She said it was incredible but couldn’t finish hers either lol! She also got a matcha latte which she was was amazing :)

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The entire place is very trendy and “instagrammable”. The crowd was mostly young university students, many of whom were working on laptops or sitting in small groups chatting. The friendly environment plus crazy good donuts means this spot was a hit in my book!

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Ro and I grabbed seats on one of the couches and chatted about life while munching on our sugary treats. We decided to come back very soon for breakfast or brunch so that we can try out their avocado toast and other things on their menu!

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Do you prefer tacos or burritos? What’s your favorite type of donut? What is your favorite home workout?   

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