Grill Life + Connecticut’s Best Tacos

Hi friends!

Happy Monday! We’ve had a busy past several days… let’s jump right in!

On Thursday we went on a tour of the hospital’s labor/delivery unit, and also their maternity unit. It was super helpful and makes us feel comfortable with the entire process. If you are having a baby at some point in the future, you should definitely sign up for a tour!

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We also assembled and test-drove our stroller! My parents got the Chicco Bravo Trio travel system for us as a shower gift (find it here!) –> Kristi suggested that I make sure I can steer the stroller one-handed to make sure it’s easy to maneuver, and that’s what I did. We also installed the carseat and made sure we knew how to get it from the car to stroller and vice versa.

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The weather was perfect, so we ate on the patio. As you can see, my water bottle rarely leaves my side.

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Joel made this rock wall and path next to our shed :) He also put some grass on there which is now starting to grow. This used to be just shrubs but it looks so much nicer now.

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Our college friends (they are married and have a toddler and a baby) were driving through Connecticut on their way to Boston, so they stopped in for dinner. It was the perfect opportunity to get the grill going for the first time this season. This was my first corn on the cob of the year and it was g.o.o.d. It was lovely catching up with our friends and hearing all about their new endeavors.

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Later that night, our smallgroup came over and we collectively decided to sit outside in order to soak in the beautiful day.

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It was Ro’s birthday so Jamie brought over a cake :)

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Lee brought a gorgeous fruit salad –> strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, and watermelon (you can guess what was my fave part hah). It felt pretty stellar to eat my number 1 food in front of a fire, surrounded by some super amazing people.

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The exact moment we wrapped up our discussion for the night it started raining, so everyone said their goodbyes and scampered back to their cars.

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Friday morning dawned bright and early with a bowl of leftover fruit salad. The blueberries were perfection and made my entire day.

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While getting ready for the day, I dropped this blush and it crashed onto the bathroom floor. I thought FOR SURE it was broken… but it somehow survived the fall. Phew! I got this trial size a over a year ago and am happy that it is still going strong.

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I left work early to head to the grocery store to pick up more grill stuff (we had my nephew Peter over for dinner) and a few random essentials. While perusing the produce section, I got all excited when I saw the below box thinking it was clementines. It was not. Just a friendly PSA: mandarins are not clementines.

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I also spotted this “baby pineapple” –> anyone tried this? Does it taste like regular pineapple? It sure was cute! :)

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My grocery store finally restocked these frozen Greek yogurt bars so I grabbed a box. These things are so darn good.

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It was really good to see Peter :) I still can’t believe how old he is… he just finished his freshman year of college –> I still remember when he was born!

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He gave us some Kenyan tea. This stuff is amazing. If you get a chance, you should try it – you will not be disappointed.

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We grilled up some burgers and caught up on life. It was nice to hear updates on everything Peter is working on at school, and his plans for the summer. :)

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Next came smores –> I like my marshmallows slightly brown on the outside and nice and gooey on the inside. When they are perfectly toasted like that, they are pretty delicious on their own without the chocolate or graham cracker :)

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Joel and Peter then played a couple rounds of ping pong. Peter is quite good and came close to beating Joel. I wonder when Joel will experience losing a game of ping pong hah.

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Saturday breakfast involved (surprise) watermelon. Joel knows how to pick the perfect watermelon. He needs to teach me his ways because I always pick ones that aren’t ripe yet.

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We ran a few errands including picking up some Scotchgard for our patio cushions. I don’t normally apply scotchgard to our indoor furniture but I am sure it would help to prevent stains.

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After errands, Joel did some yard work and I caught up on some research. Before we knew it, it was time to head over to Senor Panchos for Ro’s birthday dinner! We all got to sing happy birthday and the servers brought out a big fancy sombrero for her to wear :)

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My meal consisted of mix-and-match street tacos: tilapia (center), chicken (left), and steak (right). I ate the tilapia and steak tacos for dinner and then polished off the chicken taco for lunch the next day. The mango salsa on the tilapia was way too incredible and I had to order another side of it to put on my other 2 tacos. These have got to be the best tacos I have had in Connecticut, and I can’t wait to go back for more :)

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Sunday was Mothers Day! It started off with church in the morning, followed by a panera lunch with a few friends. Somehow Mike, Natasha, Bridgette and Garrett did not make it into the photo!??

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I stuck with my tried and true Panera favorite: the chicken frontega sandwich. This sandwich is the bomb dot com. Joel opted for his regular steak and arugula sandwich and some broccoli cheddar soup.

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After lunch, more errands were run. A few blooms were spotted outside the grocery store –> I love this time of year and all the colors of life.

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Our Mother’s Day celebration continued with a dinner date at Zaroka. Such a super cute Indian restaurant!

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I can confirm their food is the tastiest! Their portions are also rather generous, which meant we had plenty left over for later. It was a nice little date night and a great first mother’s day for me! Can’t wait until our little guy is here and can participate in the celebration too :)

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That’s it from me! I hope your week is off to an INCREDIBLE start, and that you have some sunny skies where you are. :D

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What did you do over the weekend? What’s your favorite way to celebrate the moms in your life? When you grill corn on the cob, do you boil it first?

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Kicking the doctor + fire!

Hi friends!

The other night Joel offered to slice up a watermelon for me. What a guy! He certainly knows the key to my heart. You guys know watermelon is my number 1 right now. Yes please!

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He then set up a mini office in the dining room where he got to work burning that midnight oil. While he was in there being super productive, I hung out in the living room watching The Letdown on Netflix. :) Speaking of Netflix, I am all ears if you have binge-worthy recommendations! Now that my beloved This is Us is on a hiatus, I need to fill the void…

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Joel’s dinner (massaman curry with beef).

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Is there anything tastier than this? My pregnant brain says an emphatic NO.

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The babe and I just bumpin along, heading to our doctor checkup.

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While waiting for our doc, I spotted this hole in my leggings. It’s not a new hole by any means, it actually happened last summer during one of our backyard fires (fires might be our favorite summer night activity) –> a spark popped out of the fire and landed on my leg. I didn’t see or feel it until after it burned a small hole right through my leggings. I should probably get new leggings at some point but these are just so darn comfortable. :) This isn’t the only item of clothing that shows wear and tear due to our fires… I also have a sock that sports a similar spark-related hole. Worth it. :)

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The checkup went really well! Our little guy is doing great and measuring right on track — he gave the doctor a big kick when she was listening to his heartbeat, which I found rather amusing indeed. :)  While there, I also got my tdap vaccine, which protects the baby from pertussis –> the shot was painless but the nurse told me to prepare for my arm being sore for a couple days.

Man oh man, it was an absolutely gorrrrgeous spring day! I took my time getting to and from my checkup –> those extra moments of sunshine made my day. It seemed like everyone had the same idea, there were so many people out and about, enjoying the amazing weather and sitting outside at all the local restaurants. I’m pretty sure that outdoor seating was invented for days like this.

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Spring and summer might be my 2 favorite seasons in Connecticut. It’s hard to concentrate on anything work-related when it’s so beautiful outside, especially in those first few weeks of proper spring when all you want to do is be out there soaking it all in.

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I am on top of my hydration game right now. I sure do love getting those liquids, whether they be in water, crystal light, seltzer, or watermelon form. I’m getting good use out of all my water bottles, not the least of which is my 48 oz (1.5 liter) bottle that I got a few years ago. It’s quite a beast of a bottle and is probably too huge to carry around on the go, but it surely makes for a stellar companion when I’m in full-on couch-potato mode hah (find it here!).

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Sometimes the thought of a refreshing bowl of delicious watermelon is what gets me out of bed in the morning. Although honestly, there are days when the last thing I want to do is manhandle and slice up a big heavy watermelon –> those are the days when I wish my pregnancy craving was something easy like apples lol. I definitely miss how easy the grape phase was hah! But I suppose it’s all worth it in the end, especially when you get that one *perfectly* ripe watermelon, yum! :)

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Joel is working on fixing our old leaf blower. It’s looking a little worse for wear at the moment but it will be up and running like a gem in no time :)

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A snack of a pineapple bun occurred –> these are definitely best when they are hot, crispy, and fresh from a China Town bakery… but defrosted from my freezer is the next best thing :)

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When Joel got home from a late meeting, we tucked into some salmon, veggies, and rice for dinner. I topped it with a Ginger Thai sauce that took it all to the next level. I could eat this several times a week and not get sick of it.

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Just a trusty bag of crackers I keep on my bedside table in the event that heartburn strikes. I would use tums, but since getting pregnant I haven’t been the hugest fan of the taste/texture of tums. These crackers get the job done. Thankfully, heartburn has not been too much of a problem of late (it was more of an issue in the 1st trimester). Fingers crossed it stays that way!

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Leftover salmon and veggies made another appearance for lunch, along with some pad thai noodles. I could have eaten a second (and third) bowl, but this was the last of it, so I contented myself with some yogurt and flan. :)

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Guess what, we had our FIRST fire of the season last night! Boy oh boy was it an absolutely perfect evening for it.

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How I have missed sitting by the fire in this chair. We have cushions for all our patio chairs, and we are planning to scotch-guard all of them this weekend.

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White pizza with plenty of red pepper flakes on top, plus a cackling warm fire makes for a very good night.

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Joel set the mood by strumming a few songs on his guitar. And at some point we saw Benjamin the Bat flying around –> we first saw this cute little bat last summer and decided to name him Benjamin… his favorite spot to nap is in a safe little corner outside our chimney, and we appreciate that he snacks on all those pesky mosquitos and bugs. We also heard some coyotes howling up on the mountain, a first for me. I’m cool with the coyotes staying up there and not coming over to our house. Oh, and I saw my first shooting star of 2018 :)

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Ever heard coyotes howling in the great outdoors? Do you keep clothes due to their comfort even if they have holes? What’s your favorite outdoor spring/summer thing/activity? 

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A movie and a rule breaker

Hi friends!

Did you have a good weekend? Ours was very low key and relaxing — exactly the kind of weekend that leaves you feeling recharged for the week. We have a busy week up ahead so it felt good to have a couple chill days.

Some of our smallgroup pals went up to Hartford for “Worship Night in America”. Joel and I couldn’t make it but it sure was fun seeing all the photos in our group chat.

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Looks like there was quite the turnout! The last time we were at a similar event was when we saw Hillsong United at the Lakewood arena in Houston. It was fun living vicariously through the photos! :)

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Meanwhile, Joel and I headed to the movies –> we wanted to see the new Avengers movie, but the seats were sold out, so we saw Amy Schumer’s movie instead (I Feel Pretty). It provided a good amount of humor to fuel our weekend. She is hilarious!

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My movie snack consisted of Nothing Added organic dried mangoes. I am very thrilled to see these back in stock at Target. I can’t recommend these enough. If they weren’t on the pricier side I would keep large quantities in our pantry at all times.

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Dinner happened at home after the movie. I was still full from the dried mangoes so I was content with just a couple pieces of watermelon for my dinner. Joel didn’t have a movie snack and had worked up quite the appetite from yard work, so he was happy with his burger, topped with avocado, bacon, lettuce, and tomato, and a side of fries.

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The best way to start a Saturday morning is with a nice big bowl of watermelon. When did we as a society make the transition over to seedless watermelon? I don’t think our grocery store even carries the kind with seeds. I remember as a kid having to spit out the seeds with every bite — ah memories haha.

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We stopped in at Home Depot to pick up another can of teak oil so that Joel could oil up the remaining 2 patio chairs. I always feel drawn to the house plants, is it just me? I love having plants of all kinds at home. My very first plant was a bamboo which I purchased for our tiny Houston apartment at a local Asian market. The kind that sits in water, no soil. I still remember how excited I was about that little ol’ bamboo –> I wish I could remember what happened to it.

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A mid-morning snack involved a bowl of granola and almond milk, always a winning combination in my book.

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I grabbed a new pair of earbuds (similar ones here). My other ones randomly died, which shouldn’t be too surprising as they were maaany years old. I love in-ear earbuds because they don’t fall off, and are comfortable to wear even while working out. I like to tuck the cord behind my ear so it doesn’t hit me in the face.

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Have you guys seen these little container tub things? I picked up a couple packs of large ones (here) and small ones (here). I use them for everything! They snap securely shut, and you just give the sides a little squeeze to pop them open. I like to store my earbuds in one while they are in my bag so they don’t get all tangled up. I also use the tubs when I travel since they are so easy to clean and are great for storing random things like vitamins, mints, jewelry, or toiletries.

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We dropped Joel’s car off at the shop for a new tire (he had a flat last week). I need new tires on my car too, something I have not been looking forward to due to the cost… tires are so darn expensive.

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While waiting for Joel’s car, we grabbed a late (ehh 4pm) lunch at Panera. Joel’s favorite sandwich from there is the steak and arugula. My favorite is the chicken frontega. He also got a small bowl of broccoli cheddar soup. This soup and I go way back –> I remember getting it in college when my friends and I would decide to get a meal off campus. We would sometimes go read magazines or study at the Barnes and Noble that was right next to the Panera, or stop in at the nearby mall.

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After picking up Joel’s car from the shop and spending a few hours getting chores done around the house, we went back to the movies (thank you MoviePass!) and managed to get seats for the Avengers. Yay! We also decided to actually buy concessions hah and grabbed some plain popcorn and a coke.

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You guys, the movie was so good! I love all the Marvel movies so I knew I’d enjoy it. There was QUITE the shocker of an ending –> I won’t spoil it for you but if you haven’t seen it yet (and you like Marvel movies), you really should!

Sunday was a little cooler (60) and very overcast –> all day long it looked like it was going to rain any second. It ended up drizzling in the evening.

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We put the cushions on the chairs so that we could have lunch out there. Patio life is the best life.

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We then got the teak table and chairs set up for the season. I am getting more and more excited for all the meals that will be happening out here.

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The rest of Sunday afternoon was quite uneventful –> we both spent a few hours getting caught up on work. Not the most exciting of afternoons, but we felt very productive. When dinner time rolled around we opted for salad and some lasagna. It was more like lasagna soup because it didn’t hold together in the slightest, but it tasted good. :)

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Why use a napkin when you have a convenient belly to catch falling food?

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And finally, dessert was had while watching a Clint Eastwood movie. Instead of a bowl and spoon, Joel went with a plate and fork for his ice cream. What a rule-breaker :)

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What did you do over the weekend? Have you seen the new Avengers movie? How do you feel about house plants?     

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When hunger strikes at 11pm

Hi friends!

Happy May! I hope your May is off to a nice start.

What do you do when you’re hungry at 11pm? I’ll tell you what I did… I made myself some scrambled eggs with salt and pepper! :) This was definitely one of my more satisfying night-time snack choices. Eggs should make more of an appearance at times other than just breakfast.

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Video-calling my dad the other day –> sometimes he puts the phone to his ear and then this is my view. :) He and my step-mom are coming to help out with the baby this summer. Since we didn’t travel back to Kenya for the past couple Christmases, we haven’t seen them since they came to visit a couple years ago. I can’t believe that it has already been 2 years — it is crazy how time flies!

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These little caramel flan cups make for a very delicious snack. I’ve always really liked flan, but I have never tried my hand at making it myself – anyone have an easy recipe to share? I sure do appreciate this sweet little treat.

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For pretty much the entire pregnancy I have been taking calcium as well as prenatals. When you’re pregnant, you should get about 1000mg-1300mg of calcium daily (depending on age). I have been taking a pill with breakfast and another one with dinner to get my daily dose. I get these Nature Made supplements from Amazon, which is the same place that I get my prenatal vitamins. I like the Nature Made prenatals because they are easy to find (my grocery store carries them too) and they have DHA. Something I learned a while back was to look for the USP logo on any vitamins or supplements to make sure they are safe. You can find the calcium supplements HERE and the prenatals HERE :)

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Indian food for dinner and then again as leftovers for lunch the next day. Chicken korma, saag (spinach), and lamb curry with rice. It’s a good thing both Joel and I share a love for Indian food. I don’t know what life would be like if we didn’t enjoy the same cuisines. There are definitely some foods that I like that he doesn’t (ie, cauliflower) and some foods that he likes that I don’t (ie, olives), but in general we appreciate the same kinds of cuisine. :)

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We spent a little time on the patio before Joel headed off on a quick little work trip. It was one of those warm, sunny days that felt more like summer than spring. All the birds and squirrels were out and about, and it felt like perfection just soaking it all in. One of the birds had a very lovely chirp/call (it’s what he’s looking at) and we were trying to figure out what kind of bird it is.

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This is the little bird with the pretty little chirp. Anyone know what kind of bird this is? It hopped right up and let loose a few warbly notes that were quite lovely indeed. The bird was quite bold and curious, and didn’t seem too afraid of us… until it decided that we got too close for comfort, then it flew away hah.

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A snack of homemade bread happened at some point. Now that my baking streak seems to have worn off, it is very nice to be able to enjoy some of the fruits of that labor :)

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Current state of the bump –> I am rapidly approaching Basketball Smuggler status :) We can see this little boy’s movements from the outside now! I gotta say, I still haven’t gotten used to seeing my belly jumping when he kicks. It’s still pretty weird to me. But I’m sure it will only get more pronounced as the baby gets bigger in the coming weeks –> today I saw the bump move slightly with each of the baby’s hiccups!

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Check out that beautifully oiled teak table –> I’m excited for another summer of bbq’s, lunches, and hangouts around this table on the patio. Yay for all the memories that will be made :)

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While Joel was away on his work trip, a Chipotle dinner happened at home. Chicken, brown rice, green peppers, onions, pico, medium salsa, corn, and guacamole! I never used to get the guac at Chipotle since you have to pay extra, but I have since come to the realization that guac makes everything better and is sometimes worth the splurge. :)

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I added these cushions from our couch to the fireplace to accompany the new hearth cushion. It seems more cozy this way but I am undecided on whether they’ll stay there.

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I love these weeks of Spring when the trees are in full bloom. I used to pass these trees every single morning on my way to and from the gym. I would get up at 4am and be on the treadmill by 5am, and I’d run 6 or 7 miles before leaving the gym at 6:30am. I remember that refreshing sense of accomplishment and the endorphin high after each run. Boy do I miss that. It’s weird that I genuinely do not know when my next run or race will be… if all goes well with delivery, recovery, breastfeeding, and getting used to our new little family member, I am hoping to get back to easy running sometime this fall. #fingerscrossed.

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Kristi’s daughter Rowan has decided that she simply cannot go to Target without that little purse of hers. :) Just like her mom, this lil gal has such a personality, and I love it! In my opinion, the very best part of this photo is the adorable little toes in those flipflops. Why are little feet just so darn cute?

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And across the pond, waaay over in Holland, my niece Imara is looking right at home behind the wheel! I feel like it was just yesterday that she entered the world. It will probably feel like 5 minutes from now that she is actually driving for real. It’s true what they say about kiddos growing up so fast.

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Any idea what kind of bird that is? Do you take any supplements or vitamins? Got an easy flan recipe to share?     

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Calypso music + naughty squirrels + cookies!

Hi friends!

Dare I say it… Spring is finally here! And it sure is welcome after the long months of cold. I love spring, summer, and fall in Connecticut, but I’d be fine with fast-forwarding straight through winter. A few spring blooms are showing up in the yard and I could not be happier about that.

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Dinner Friday night consisted of salmon, broccoli, zucchini, and a spring roll while working on the ol’ blog. I have been sticking contentedly with my goal of having salmon (or some kind of pregnancy-friendly seafood) twice a week, and will probably continue this indefinitely.

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Saturday morning meant yard work. Hey stud :)

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He’s done a good job getting that enormous woodchip pile spread out amongst the trees. It looks great! I’m glad he knows his landscaping stuff.

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The birds (and a few naughty squirrels) have been enjoying the seed we set out for them. This is supposed to be an anti-squirrel feeder but those cheeky little things still manage to get into it. Anyone know how to prevent squirrels from stealing your birdseed?

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Another one of our spring traditions is underway: the annual oiling of our teak furniture! Teak is one of my favorite types of wood –> it’s extremely durable in all weather conditions, lasts forever, and looks beautiful. Applying oil to the wood with a cloth or sponge helps to keep it looking supple and conditioned year after year. We get an oil made specifically for teak, like THIS. The oil isn’t necessarily mandatory –> we could just leave it alone and it would still be fine (left alone, the teak eventually takes on a patina aged finish which is also quite lovely). We got this patio set about a year ago at Jordan’s – it was our very first time buying patio furniture and we have been extremely happy with the purchase!

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For lunch, we headed to Olives and Oil in New Haven. The last time we were there was for my birthday over a year ago, so we were long overdue for another visit.

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The menu looks like a vintage magazine, which I loved. I also thought it was cute that they call their wines “grapes on tap”. :)

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Bread, green olives, and olive oil with seasoning for the starter –> we chuckled over the flower pots :) Love that creativity :)

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Joel went with the olives panini, which came with tapenade, arugula, and faro. It also came with a pastina soup – he enjoyed every bite of his meal thoroughly.

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I went with the “day trippin” pizza, topped with mushrooms, shallots, truffle oil, fig, balsamic, and smoked mozzarella. It was one of the most interesting pizzas I’ve ever had. The flavor profile was quite… complex… I felt like there were so many unfamiliar flavors on my taste buds that my brain didn’t quite know what to make of it!

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After lunch we strolled around New Haven — it was a lovely sunny day, but the wind was chilly enough that we both wore coats. These bubble teas were perfect fuel for our walk around town — Joel got the taro flavor and I opted for Thai tea flavor. I prefer bubble tea on the rocks instead of slushy-style, but it was a nice change. Both flavors were good but I think Joel made the better choice, because the taro was a little yummier…

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We happened upon some live music on the Yale Green. There’s nothing like calypso music to make you feel like you’re on a tropical island.

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There were a few little kiosks set up where people were selling things. It was nice seeing so many people out and about enjoying the spring weather.

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Saturday night involved a redbox movie –> The Commuter. It wasn’t Joel’s favorite (he kept falling asleep), but I enjoyed it! Liam Neeson never fails to bring it. Note to bad guys, do not ever threaten Liam’s family or he will come. for. you.

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Sunday dawned bright and early with more yard work.

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We worked up quite the appetite and were excited to head to Lenny’s in Branford for an early lunch.

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Joel started with a cup of clam chowder. Fun fact: I used to despise chowder of any kind (clam, fish, etc)… it was all super gross to me. But my tastes have changed and I am now squarely on the clam chowder bandwagon. Yum.

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I went with a lobster roll for my meal –> they were quite generous with the lobster which made me happy! Lobster is another one of those foods I didn’t used to like but definitely do now. So good. Funny how your tastes can change, right?

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After lunch we walked along the Branford River. It was another lovely sunny day but those coats made another appearance on account of the brisk wind coming off the water.

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Sunday afternoon meant a good mix of relaxation, catching up on work, and running a few errands. I popped into Target for a few essentials and after meandering through the shoe section, came away with a new pair of kicks for just $8.50. :) What a steal! I love the clearance section at Target.

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Another errand I ran was picking up a few groceries, which included the impulse purchase of these frozen chocolate Greek Yoghurt bars –> they are gooooood!

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When Sunday night rolled around, we both had salads on the brain, but neither of us felt like going to pick up salad stuff from the store, so we decided to stop by Eli’s. My salad was topped with corn, beans, cherry tomatoes, and guacamole (so darn good) and Joel’s salad was topped with 2 kinds of beets, goat cheese, and salmon. I seriously feel like guacamole goes with anything, it makes everything better!

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Our dinner concluded with cookies and ice cream split between the 2 of us. Prior to this, I had not eaten a chocolate chip cookie in quite a long time… they haven’t sounded particularly appetizing to me since getting pregnant, but I’m happy to report that I enjoyed every last bite.

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What did you do with your weekend? Any tips on how to prevent squirrels from getting into the bird feeder? Do you have any spring traditions?   

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Thoughts from the week :)

Hi friends!

Happy Friday :) And what a good one it has been so far. After feeling under the weather earlier in the week I’m thrilled to be back to feeling 100%.

I am glad to see that WordPress seems to have corrected whatever glitch was happening a couple days ago, so we are back to our regularly scheduling posting! :) Here is a collection of photos and thoughts from the week!

Joel picked up some of these Kind bars at our grocery store. They are pretty tasty! We had these on the brain after seeing them for sale in the airport. Fun fact: if you want to buy ONE Kind bar at the Hartford airport, you will have to part with $5 (aka highway robbery). They are pretty tasty though. Get ’em HERE!

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Dinner included Broccoli rabe, grilled chicken, and a small piece of lasagna on the side. We eat regular broccoli all the darn time, but I have decided that we need to have more broccoli rabe in our lives.

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Another dinner consisted of salad, lasagna, and homemade bread. Joel put a ton of olives on his salad. I inwardly cringe when I see olives –> I’ve never understood his love for them. Are you a fan?

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We set up our anti-squirrel birdfeeder and are happy to see that the birdies are enjoying it! We sometimes still catch squirrels trying to steal the seed (cheeky!) but it seems to be a little tougher for them to get into this one compared to our other feeder. I am excited about watching the birds from the patio when it is nice and warm.

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Chicken noodle soup was a welcome delight when I felt under the weather. There is nothing like a nice hot bowl of comforting soup when you aren’t feeling 100%.

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Our hearth cushion finally arrived! We had an upholstery fabric person make the cover to go on the cushion, and he dropped it off yesterday. :) We love it! It is exactly what we were envisioning for extra seating in the living room. Our small group came over last night and a couple tushies gave it a test-drive –> they confirmed it is quite the comfortable spot to sit! Money well spent indeed. In case you are looking for something similar, HERE is the cushion we got (we cut it to size ourselves), and we picked up the upholstery fabric at Joann Fabric.

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We have had this little chair since we got married –> we brought it back with us from Kenya after our wedding (we honeymooned in Singapore). The leather seat comes off and the legs fold up for easy storage, and it is all hand stitched and hand carved. I have been using it as a footstool, and it’s been great for keeping those pregnant feet elevated. Joel was joking around with me last night and went to sit on it, and the poor chair completely gave out under him! We both busted up laughing! But man, what a sad day for our faithful little chair. I sent my dad a note right away requesting a new one (they are coming over from Kenya to help with the baby this summer).

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Joel got up early and went to the grocery store so that I would have Crystal Light and grapes when I woke up. He knows the way to this preggo gal’s heart, and I happily confirm he is the very BEST OF THE BEST. <3

Good news! My fiddle leaf fig is growing a brand new leaf! This fig has managed to grow one or two new leaves every spring. I’m pretty happy to see this, especially since I always worry about our house being too cold and dry for this fig!

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Joel is working on landscaping the area next to the driveway/house, and had a huge pile of wood chips delivered for that purpose. He definitely gets his exercise out there with all the work he does around the property.

This has been a week of clementine lovin. These little suckers are so darn good. I’m convinced all the vitamin C helped me get better that much quicker. Clementines have a special place in my heart.

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A couple nights ago I started wedging small pillows under my belly at night, and let me tell ya –> it makes a world of difference! I never understood why preggos always talked about needing a lot of pillows (hah) but I can 100% say that I completely GET IT now! My head isn’t the only part of me that needs a pillow… nowadays the belly and the knees have joined the pillow party too.

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Last night all I wanted for dinner was a big salad, and all Joel wanted was some seared tuna. We each got exactly what we wished for from Eli’s! This salad disappeared into my tum in record time. All the toppings went together so perfectly that I didn’t even need to add any dressing. Joel very much enjoyed his seared tuna –> side note: years ago in Houston I ate some awful sashimi tuna and have not been able to eat raw/seared/sashimi tuna ever since. Just thinking about it turns my stomach. But I still do happily enjoy sashimi salmon, yellow tail, etc (when I’m not pregnant hah).

Our smallgroup came over last night and Jeff brought over some very tasty pizza. We also played a couple rounds of Taboo before diving into our discussion. You guys know how much I love our smallgroup. (also, if you haven’t played Taboo, you should, it’s super fun –> Find it HERE!).

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We have a humidifier in our bedroom to help ease the dryness of the winter air. It was due for a cleaning and I was very thankful that Joel stepped up to the task. Friendly PSA: keep your humidifiers clean folks – they can harbor bacteria and gross stuff.

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A very good bowl of chili happened at some point…

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…and so did a brownie (leftover from smallgroup –> Jamie made this and it tasted delicious!).

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Remnants from a Panera lunch with Natasha. I am perfectly content talking with her for hours on end – she is the bestest.

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Last night was a restless leg kind of night (aka not the most fun pregnancy symptom), which meant a lot of tossing and turning until I finally gave in and cracked into my book. Have I mentioned that my book club is reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng? It is so very good and made my sleepless night that much more enjoyable. I love her writing style, and find myself pulled into the story and caring about the characters. Highly recommend! Find it HERE.

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I’ll leave you guys with a quick bump update: Here we are at almost 30 weeks! This little boy is super active and kicks quite a lot, especially the ribs on the right side. The cutest thing on earth is when I feel his tiny hiccups. Can’t wait to meet you little guy!

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What do you have planned for your weekend? How do you deal with nighttime restless legs? Got any good books to recommend?

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A long overdue lobster roll!

Hi friends!

Welcome to another Monday! I heard a rumor that it’s going to SNOW again tomorrow… I can’t say I’m over the moon about that. But you know what? It is supposed to be in the 70’s by the weekend, and THAT is some pretty welcome news :)

My belly band arrived over the weekend, woohoo! I figured it would be good to have around for when we do hikes, longer walks, or just working out in general. I tried it on –> it took me a minute to get strapped in right (probably should have read the directions first haha) but once it’s on, it really does take that belly-pressure off the ol’ hips and back (find it HERE).

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Grilled chicken, broccoli, and pasta for the win! Grilled anything sounds good right now, mostly because grilling reminds me of summer. :)

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My on-and-off relationship with beauty blenders is back on again. I love these things, they are quite the game-changer :)

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Another oldie but goodie that I recently re-discovered: Crystal Light Lemonade! It tastes so darn refreshing, and is a nice change from plain water.

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A very pretty sunset happened while we were out running errands. I must say though, for the record, the very best sunsets in the world can be seen from the Rift Valley in Kenya. This is a fact. :)

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I got a new bronzer from Ulta because I am out of my other one (Nars Laguna) and do not feel like dropping $40 for another one. (side note: why is makeup so expensive?). Anyway, I’ve heard good things about this Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer. The first time I opened it, I caught a strong whiff of pina colada, which isn’t unpleasant but definitely got me by surprise. The scent has since grown on me –> I’ve used it a couple times and so far I’m into it (find it HERE). I added the mascara to my cart because I needed a new one and figured I’d take advantage of Ulta’s buy 1 get 1 50% off deal. So far so good! (mascara is HERE)

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While out running errands, I spotted this Fanta and was instantly reminded of the sugary orange juice I had to drink before my blood test on Friday. Spoiler: I passed the blood test! No gestational diabetes for me (phew!).

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Also spotted while out and about: this Eva NYC hair mask. I was gifted a tub of this stuff years ago in Houston and loved it! It has the most incredible scent. I used it when my hair was chemically straightened (thermal reconditioning). The straightening process was pretty harsh, which meant my locks were in need of extra moisture –> this mask helped to bring some of that hydration back. It’s good stuff.

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I feel like not a week goes by that Joel doesn’t go to Home Depot for something or other. This time we stopped by to pick up some bar oil for his chain-saw. He’s been putting it to good use on the trees that were felled by a nor’easter a couple months back. We will definitely have plenty of firewood for years to come.

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Date night attire – pregnancy edition. My regular t-shirts still fit over the belly –> I tie them at the hip so they don’t hang funny. I wore a long skirt that I’ve had for years (with leggings underneath because it was cold hah), plus an old cardigan and was good to go!

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For our date night, we went to SBC Restaurant and Beer Bar in Milford. We’ve been there once before and knew we were in for some good food and even better atmosphere. :)

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I went with the lobster rolls and truffle fries… I haven’t had a lobster roll since last summer, and was definitely long overdue for another. I had one roll for dinner and brought the rest home for lunch the next day.

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Joel thought the carrot cake looked good for dessert so we split one. The taste was good but it was a lot more dense than I was expecting –> not my favorite cake texture, so I only had a bite. But Joel surely enjoyed it.

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We stopped in at Target to take a peek at their waffle irons. They had a couple options but we will probably end up ordering the one we want online. I’m excited to start a new waffle tradition in our household :)

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Sunday brunch was at the State Street Cafe in North Haven. While we were there, Jamie let me use her hand lotion and I proceeded to fall head over heels in love with it –> I am 100% buying this so I can keep it with me at all times. It is super moisturizing, non-greasy, and has the most incredible chocolatey scent. Win-win-win.

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I don’t know how they get their French toast to be so perfectly FLUFFY –> do they whip the eggs? Add water to the eggs? Natasha’s theory is that they must cook it in butter. I need them to share their secrets so I can re-create this magic in my own kitchen.

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Joel went with a gyro and fries for his meal. This sparked a conversation about how to pronounce the word “gyro“. Joel and I both say “yee-roh”.

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Sunday afternoon meant a nice long walk for Joel and me. I bundled up (it was cold and windy!) and also wore my belly band. I can confirm that it is awesome. Being back on this trail reminds me of my years of marathon training. I have logged many a mile here. My longest run on this trail is 20 miles. It’s crazy to think about that kind of distance right now. I’m amazed at what the human body can do, and can’t wait to get back into a running routine again.

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On our walk, we came across some ponies, sheep, and chickens. The pony was super cute, but must not have been feeling very social that day, because it stayed in the corner and eyed us from a distance.

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When we got home, I rolled up my sleeves and got to baking! Butterscotch nutella muffins, as well as banana cream choc chip muffins. Extra batter (and there was quite a bit of it) was baked in bread pans, so we ended up with lots of muffins and breads. Our freezer is pizzacked.

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While all the baking was underway, Joel was outside man-handling piles of wooden logs, branches, twigs. What a guy.

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He was pretty excited about the muffins when he finally came inside. :)

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What is the proper pronunciation of the word “gyro”? Thoughts on how to make fluffy french toast? What do you have coming up this week?        

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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?  

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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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