Category Archives: Favorite Things

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.
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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.

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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!

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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. 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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. 🎉

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

Lunches Lately

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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!

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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

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

3. beets // goat cheese // spinach // balsamic  {{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


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

~M

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

Move It Monday

A couple months ago, someone lit a fire underneath my post-baby butt. Instead of doing my usual elliptical/freeweights, I started going to a few classes at my gym- and the instructor somehow learned my name and has pushed me to my max every. single. class. I am loving the accountability, and also am finding that I have a new love for group fitness.

I tend to be the type that likes to just focus on my own workout alone, go hard, and then be done. I am not the person chatting it up at the gym, in between machines. However, these classes have really pushed me out of the box as far as pushing different muscle groups and breaking out of my plateau. The two classes I attend regularly now are spin and muscle blast {BodyPUMP is getting there}. Each class, I think I’m not gonna make it through- but I always do and I always manage to push myself a LITTLE further. It’s exciting AND it’s addicting. I find that scheduling my workouts and having people notice when I don’t come are HUGE motivators. Also, I’m not going to be the only one that can’t do 8 million lunges- if SHE can do it, SO CAN I!

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On days when we don’t hit the gym, Gabs and I work out together. Usually its a walk or run with the stroller, other days she and I do core stuff. And other days, we eat chocolate chips and salad and cuddle on the couch. This may or may not happen more often than I’d like.

Gabs’ workout compilation comes to you, free of charge.

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Bicycles & Push-ups : She’s laughing at me because I still do modified ‘girl’ push-ups. Wimp.

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There ya have it. She is next Jillian Michaels, and I’m pretty proud. Scared, but proud.

What do you do to stay in shape? I love hearing what others do for exercise!

~M

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Filed under Favorite Things, fitness, Uncategorized

Bacon Powder Biscuits

I have a good Tuesday morning story for ya’ll. I’ll start out with this: a lot of you already know that K and I were born with hearing loss and both wear hearing aids. My hearing is much worse than K’s- which comes with its challenges, but has never been something that made me embarrassed or feel bad. In all honesty… It’s made my life pretty hilarious. Because I get to share stories like THESE.

Growing up, K and I always remember spending time with our grandparents. My Grandma and Grandpa Cole would have us over all the time and we’d play on the pool table, eventually smash each other’s fingers with the pool balls, play house, dress-up, and of course, eat.

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My Grandpa was (is) known for his pancakes, namely because he’d make them into all sorts of different shapes for us. Though he could make any shape, we always requested the first letters of our names. Later, we found out that the ‘special’ pancakes were just Bisquick mix! Funny how something as special as Grandpa making them for you makes them taste like gourmet pancakes that no one else could ever replicate!

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My grandpa also made us Bacon Powder Biscuits a lot. We’d have them for breakfast with butter and syrup and we LOVED it. I would request these bacon biscuits all the time and beg my mom to make them when we got home. She’d ask me if I was sure that’s what they were called and I was adamant there was bacon powder we needed to go purchase somewhere.

I’m sure you all know where this is headed. After a childhood full of Bacon Powder Biscuits and bliss, I came into the knowledge only a few years ago that there is, in fact, NO SUCH THING AS BACON POWDER.

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WHAT!?!? I’m sure I tasted bacon in those biscuits. There’s gotta be a can of bacon powder out there somewhere. Pretty sure I’ve seen it in MarVal. Cooked, ground bacon to flavor these delicious breakfast treats. I swear I tasted bacon, guys. I don’t even want to know if I’ve told people that bacon powder exists.

Turns out,  my hearing aids heard something different for the first 20 years of my life. These heavenly Bacon Powder Biscuits were none other than your average (but still super tasty) bacon-less Baking Powder Biscuits.

Baking. Powder. 

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Not near as much fun as bacon, but still one of my all time favorite breakfasts that reminds me of my grandparents. The recipe is in most cookbooks, despite my childhood belief, and I’m just sharing one of many!

~M

Buttermilk Baking Powder Biscuits

2 cups AP flour

1 tbsp baking powder

2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp cream of Tartar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 butter

2/3 cup buttermilk

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add the buttermilk all at once. Using a fork, stir until just moistened.

Turn dough out on a floured surface and quikcly knead 10-12 strokes. Roll to 1/2 inch thickness and cut out biscuits with a biscuit cutter or overturned glass. Place biscuits 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm with syrup or jam!

p.s. Look what I found. A day will come when I will bring Bacon Powder Biscuits to life. Mark my words.

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Filed under Baking, Favorite Things, Food Stuffs.

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 to 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.

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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!

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

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

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4. Need. This. Cake.

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

 

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

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

 

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~M

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

Baby Art

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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 are 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 in 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!

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{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. 🙂

~M

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Stitchfix Friday

I took a Stitchfix breather for a while, because I finally got a box where I didn’t really like anything. It was painful to send the whole box back and lose that $20 styling fee! So I took a break, and months later, I was ready to get fixed up again.

I let Gabs give me her first impression on all the items. She’s my voice of reason when it comes to shopping.

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Bottom line- if they don’t taste good, ix-nay on the clothes. I loved the look of everything in the box upon first glance, and hoped for my wallet’s sake that some of the items wouldn’t fit so they’d be easy ‘no’s’. Does anyone else do that?? I’m probably just a weirdo who needs forced self-control.

#1. I was so excited when I saw this in my box! I saw another blogger get this top and I thought it was so cute on her!

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#2. I’m a sucker for the flowy tops. It’s my go-to for a quick outfit and is so light and airy for a summer day. I loved the print and small zipper detail.

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#3. I liked this fun and bright chevron print, but was not a fan of the length and neckline. I was disappointed on the fit because I love bright colors!

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#4. Again, loved the bright blue and the material this shirt was made out of was SO SOFT. If every piece of clothing I owned was made of this, I’d be in heaven. However, I don’t do cowl-neck. I just don’t. I had to adjust the shirt a lot to lay like this, otherwise it was kind of bunchy.

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#5. Lastly, this fun statement necklace! Navy with gold, and loved the length. I think this is the first time I ever kept jewelry from a fix!

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Man, I look like such a dweeb trying on clothes. Pardon the selfies! I do love that we can try on clothes in the comfort of our own homes with Stitchfix- as well as try the pieces on with items from our own closet.

This is the perfect shopping experience for me, as its not as easy to try things on at the mall anymore while trying to keep Gabby entertained- plus those fitting rooms are teensy! My stylist for this fix really listened to my comments and gave me an A+ box.

I ended up keeping #1, #2, and #5! Most successful fix thus far- and so easy to send back the items I chose not to keep!

Have you gotten your fix yet? Here’s a link to get you started!

http://stitchfix.com/sign_up?referrer_id=3030462

~M

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Filed under Baby, Favorite Things, Style