Category Archives: Family

UK: Week Two

Disclaimer- no spell check was done.

We are currently in our quaint little B&B and enjoying a couple hours of rest while Gabs takes a ‘bed-nap’. Her bed-naps are the ones she takes on our slower, relaxing days here- on a real bed and usually lasting two or more hours. Usually she troops through a ‘buggy-nap’ which is in the stroller, about 45 minutes long, and while we are touring around or in a museum.


The past few weeks have been incredible, full of new experiences, exhausting but exhilarating, and going by SO FAST. We got to London after an 11 hour plane trip (which went very smoothly, barely used any of the million toys I or Grandma brought for the little miss) and promptly Konked out in our hotel after going through customs , finding our luggage, and hauling the luggage ourselves many blocks away to our hotel. And by ‘we’ I mean Grandma (Susan) and Joey lugged it- being that I was then 17 weeks pregnant and having a couple not-so-good symptoms, they were firm about not letting me carry too much.





After the catnap of about 2 hours (felt like a WINK) we headed out feeling recharged and hungry! We popped into a restaurant nearby and had some absolutely marvelous fish and chips. Pretty much have to start with a British staple like that, right? We sat next to a lovely family at the restaurant who were absolutely taken with Gabby- which led to some fun conversation. Great way to start a 3 week trip!







The next two days were a blur. We walked around London, seeing everything there was to see, touring anyplace that would let us in- including the House of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the Eye, St.Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower Bridge. We were walking from dawn to dusk, and never took a bus or train until late in the evening when Susan and I pretty much forced Joey to have mercy and find the tube station. šŸ™‚









The next day we made our way to Oxford- an hour train ride turned into a 3 hour one due to Wimbledon traffic/signaling problems- but we finally made it to our home for the next two weeks! Gabs soon got accustomed to the public transportation- and tried to say “HI!” to just about every passenger on every trip. It was definitely a learning experience for me as a mom to keep her well-behaved/occupied in a 2 square foot seat for so many hours the last few days- Can’t say I’m an expert but we made it, with tons of help from Dad and Grandma.

We got to Oxford and I almost heard myself relax. We took a bus through the town and just looking at all the historic churches and colleges, with the cool breeze and promise of two weeks in one place made me almost giddy with excitement. Grandma was so kind and insisted we switch rooms at the adorable B&B we stayed at- with more room for Gabs to run around and a larger bed. Grandmas have hearts of gold, don’t they? She also made sure that there was a mini fridge in the room for us and stocked it with grapes, apples, chocolate, milk and juice for us. No words. Just love, so much love for her.










Joey pretty much slept, went to class (25 minute walk, which he loved) did homework, and read his textbooks for the two weeks he was in class here. This was no vacation at first for him! Though he loved his class and classmates- he’s excited to get to actually travel and explore with us now. He’s actually out at the Ashmolean Museum as I write this and Gabby naps- that’s the oldest museum in England, and suuuuper interesting. We made Gabs spend 6 HOURS in that awesomeness. Poor girl, but at least she’s a poor, cultured girl.








You’ll be bummed (possibly) at my lack of great pictures in this post… Which I know is pretty much a crime to not have amazing pictures of such a historic town. I took most of them on my DSLR though and purposefully have neglected my phone this trip. It’s been great.
We are staying in a small town just outside of Oxford- called Headington. Our B&B is my absolute favorite- the managers here are new (Rhoda and Martin) , so we have been here almost as long as they have been here! We’ve gotten to know them really well and will miss them when we leave. They have a special spot and cup for Gabby at breakfast every morning and always know what she’ll have to eat- and every now and then Rhoda and I would spend some time chatting in the backyard while Gabby had some free time to run around. I have a feeling we will stay in touch!
The weather here is glorious- sunny, breezy, and cool. Sometimes rainy which I always welcome. We’ve been on hours of walking tours, church tours, seen old historic colleges, talked to a 91 year old about her experience in the Navy (she debriefed soldiers who returned from Normandy on D-Day) and seen Blenheim Palace, where Winston Churchill was raised. Also, grandma treated us to many things, which included a river cruise on the Thames!





Like I said, Joey finished his class on Islam and Sh’ria law today- (happy fourth! No one celebrates it here, duh. I kinda forgot.) anyways, and last night I got to tag along to the gala they threw in honor of the students. And gala’s here are most certainly NOT casual- most of the women had ball gowns on! And I enjoyed meeting the people Joey had been taking classes with online and now in Oxford for the past year and a half. It was intimidating to be the only non-student there at first, but they were incredibly kind and talkative people! It was a fabulous date night with great company- and I almost exploded from pride watching Joey be asked to explain the current events on Geert Wilders to the rest of us. It’s not everyday you get to see your husband in a situation like that. (I almost burst, truly.) By the way- they had a course AFTER dessert here. Whaaaat. Thank goodness I’m pregnant and gaining weight anyway.
Well, there’s my ‘hello’ to you all, from the Uk! Tomorrow we head to Amsterdam, which is going to be another amazing week with seeing Joeys host family from college, possibly (hopefully) some other friends, and going to pubs for the World Cup. We were devastated by the USA loss (chuck Norris changed his name to Chuck Howard) but at least we have HOLLAND to fall back on! HUP! Oh, and I need Some poffertjes in my life.

Nutella crepes?
Porridge every morning?
Croissanteries and cappuccinos around every corner?

Okay, I guess. šŸŽ‰

Love from Gabs, my dear, sweet AMAZING and sometimes tantrum-in-candy-shop-throwing little traveler.

Love from me, the one with no directional skills (Thankful for my MIL who guides us everywhere and hopefully doesn’t want to kill me by the end of this trip) but super love for foreign people, countries, food and history. And gets tired easily.

Love from ‘Mama Susan’ who has unending patience, generosity, a map for a brain (supposed to be a compliment) , and good sense of humor and fun.

And love from Joey, my really smart and fun husband- who took his family on this crazy adventure with him.

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Filed under Family, Favorite Things

Crockpot ‘Best Chicken You’ll Ever Have’


I love daylight savings time. I love when it stays light later into the evening and on the other side, I love when it gets light earlier in the morning. I wasn’t thinking this love would last once we had Gabs, since I heard that kids don’t adjust quite as smoothly as adults (who don’t always adjust so swimmingly either..) but she must have the same love as I do, because she’s still sleeping the same! I think it’s because she was sick during the time change, so she wasn’t sleeping normally anyway.


All she wanted to do was lay on the couch and cuddle with Violet- it was sadly adorable.

Either way, we’re adjusted, back to healthy and luuurvin’ it.

So, even though there’s more daylight in the evenings now, that doesn’t always mean you want to spend more time on dinner. I found this recipe online, and though it may not be healthy- IT IS MY FAVORITE. I’m getting used to taking pictures of my recipes again, so if you want to be sold on the recipe, visit the original site and don’t be repulsed by my gross ones!




These are the leftovers on a sandwich. We had it by itself for dinner the night before, but ate it too fast to take pictures.

You must make it and watch your family devour it before your very eyes (even the picky ones) and then proclaim their undying love for you afterwards.

Then the next day, put the leftovers in a sandwich and hear it all over again.


Meanwhile, you’re just excited because you spent literally $1.54 per serving and 4 minutes in prep time (that’s being generous.)

Joey and I have a friend from college who told us about what his mom would do each evening at dinner. She’d serve a wonderful meal to her family of all boys- and tell them how much each serving cost to make while serving it. It became almost a fun game to see how delicious/cheap she could make her meals- and a great way to keep yourself in check when planning meals!

~Enjoy! M

P.S. yeah, it’s not healthy or technically low in fat. BUT. Whenever I make a meal that might not be waist-friendly, I just serve my portion over a big handful of chopped romaine. Honestly, I’ve found that pretty much any dinner tastes good over crunchy lettuce.

Crockpot ‘Best Chicken You’ll Ever Have’

serves 4

recipe from


4 chicken breasts, frozen or thawed. (adjust cooking time if frozen)

1 box chicken flavored stuffing mix

1/2 cup sour cream

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/4 cup water


Place chicken in bottom of crockpot. Open up stuffing mix and dump it on, right on top of the chicken.

Next, mix your sour cream, cream soup, and water in a bowl, and dump it on top of the stuffing.

Lid on, and 4 hours at low (thawed chicken) or 4 hours on high (frozen chicken).

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Filed under Baby, Family, Food Stuffs.

Lunches Lately



Am I the only one who feels like Christmas is next week? I’m frantically brainstorming Christmas gift ideas and we haven’t even sliced the Thanksgiving turkey yet. Well, we sliced the ‘Friendsgiving’ Turkey yesterday with a few of our close friends- a new tradition I’m adoring. A gal I love invited a bunch of people over and cooked us a feast complete with homemade cranberry sauce all while keeping a deliciously adorable 3 month old happy. Gabs can barely keep her hands off him. Gah! My baby is 9 months old!


Later this week we are party-hopping to both sides of my family on Thanksgiving Day- the main feast with my husband’s side and then dessert with my side later in the evening. {Who am I kidding- we’re snagging pie at both feasts} it should be a wonderful day of family and focusing on all the good things in our life. It’s my favorite! Loving this idea from Pinterest for when I host my first family Thanksgiving.

I heard somewhere once that lunch is supposed to be the biggest meal of your day- not sure what the science is behind that, but rarely is that the case for me, especially during Thanksgiving week! I like a hearty breakfast and a light lunch usually. Gotta save room sometime. Here’s what I’ve been having for lunch lately:

1. Whole Wheat toast // almond butter // my sister in law’s homemade (&home harvested) pomegranate jelly


2. roasted sweet potato // hummus // low fat cottage cheese20131125-070711.jpg

3. beets // goat cheese // spinach // balsamic Ā {{ordered this by accident the first day on my honeymoon- then had it daily for lunch!!}}20131125-070602.jpg

4. whole wheat toast // peanut butter // sliced cukes // sliced tomatoes {{ another weird but DELICIOUS combo a friend discovered for me in college}} hey. living on a budget, okay?20131125-070549.jpg5. roasted sweet potatoes // roasted brussel sprouts // crumbled trader joes sausage-less sausage // spicy thai peanut dressing


These are my easy go-to lunches –Ā what are yours?Ā Off to get owned at spin, yet again.



Filed under Family, Favorite Things, Food Stuffs., Holiday, Uncategorized

I Don’t Even Know


I don’t even know where to start! We took a little breaksy from the blog for no apparent reason other than…. I don’t even know. Busy? Definitely yes. But when isn’t life busy? Eh, anyways, we are back and just in time for Halloween/ Reformation day!

Here’s my little pajama calf.




Speaking of my little moo-cow, Gabs has learned quite a few things during the past few weeks! Crawling… “SO BIG”!… Ā waving, has two teeth…and holding her own bottle (= LIFE CHANGING) it’s all pretty exciting. I realize I’m fawning over everyday things, but hey- I’m the mom, I get to freak out with excitement over the little things. But seriously, her teeth are the cutest.







I haven’t really tried many new recipes lately either, we’ve been sticking to familiar, tried and true dinners lately and it’s been a little boring, but hey. It’s food. Speaking of tried and true, have ya’ll made this yet? Or for you meat-lovers, this is always a favorite. I promise you’ll thank me later. OR you can check out this lady’s instragram for endless and beautiful meal options- she’s been the inspiration for my grocery list this week!

That’s all for today, we do so appreciate whoever takes the time to read {and hopefully enjoy} our blog about random things- I have a couple surprises for ya’ll and you’ll be pretty floored.

I’ve beenĀ crafting. Yeah.Ā More on that later.


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Weekend Faves

Thank you, thank you, THANK you for all your responses and encouragement regarding my last post! I’m touched and encouraged that there are others right alongside me- so encouraged, in fact, that waking up early is starting toĀ almost be funny.

It’s weird to do ‘daytime activities’ in the middle of the night, but weird in a fun, ‘I might as well’ sort of way. Like, bake doughnuts at 3:30 am. And fold laundry. Clean the kitchen. Give Gabby a sink bath. Drink copious amounts of quarter-caff coffee. I could do this for a while! Yeah, probably not.


Anyways, it’s the weeeekend!! In order to celebrate, I’ve rounded up a couple favorite things for ya’ll to check out in your free time.

1. I could make these at home, but Fatty Sundays just packages them so dang cute. They’d make a great gift!


2. Old Navy just had their 40% off everything sale= new favorite//affordable//stylin’ clothes for Gabby (or your kid).


3. Searching for pretty free fonts? Stumbled across these and am in love.


4. Need. This. Cake.


5. Favorite run of 2012– time to do it again.


6. Can happiness be ‘found’, or is it an attitude?Ā 

7. And my favorite, favorite weekend thing?
Liverpool games with these two goobs.




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Filed under Dessert, Family, Favorite Things, fitness, Uncategorized

Baby Art











While I never really developed any artistic ability, I do want to give Gabsy a fighting chance. And even if she’s not terribly artistic either, we areĀ always up for painting. Especially the kind of painting where it’s messy and edible.

It’s much easier for Gabs to paint than draw right now, since she has more interest inĀ eating the crayons/colored pencils than color on paper. So we combined her two interests (putting things into her mouth and smearing food) into yogurt painting!

I didn’t come up with this idea (PINTEREST, as per usual) but the original momma used cool whip instead of yogurt. We had greek yogurt in the house so that’s what we used! Besides the yogurt being chilly, it was a blast for both of us. We spent about an hour covered in breakfast, then another hour of Gabs splashing in the kitchen sink.

Can’t wait til next summer when sidewalk paint happens!


{yogurt + food coloring= body paint} ** after a quick google, I read that Greek yogurt is awesome to use because it’s strained much more than regular yogurt so it’s a little easier on the baby digestive system than cool whip or any old yogurt. Having said that, babies are tough and can probably handle a tablespoon of any of those options, since that’s all that Gabs really tasted. She was too busy painting me. šŸ™‚


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Filed under Baby, Family, Favorite Things

The Non-Vegetarian Sister

Major thanks to my wonderful sister for keeping you all going with reading material the last few months. Im sorry for having been away so long, I take a break and she goes vegetarian on me!? Although these meals look delicious and I truly do trust M’s talent in the kitchen, I’m not sure I could do tofu.
I really like meat.
Now that school is back in session and my internship has started, I plan on being much more diligent in my efforts to share my goings-on with you all. Because I am having some truly awesome experiences!
Because the nature of my job has a huge element of confidentiality, I hope my shortened version of experiences will still be able to show how much I am loving social work.
I’ve got a great group of supervisors both at school and my agency, but so far my relationship and dependency on God has blossomed in a way I didn’t expect. I wrestle a lot with being a follower of Jesus and being a person who advocates for others especially when the two vocations don’t mix. Or cant mix.


(From A Voice in the Wind, by Francine Rivers)
It’s an awesome learning thing for me, and I am repeating to myself daily that God’s plan for me is greater than my plan for myself. Self-care has been underlined from the beginning as something that is necessary to my health and ability to do my job, so posts like M’s last week (even though I have no moppets yet!) made a big impact on my day.
Did anyone else gain from M’s post last week? I love how God uses so many different people with so many different talents to reveal Himself to us.


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Filed under Family, Food Stuffs., God, School, Work