Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Loving Lately

Mid-week post! Hello! I'm here to share some fun finds I've come across lately, as well as some family adventures. Here's what's making me happy lately...

Online shopping! I’ve had way too much fun finding things we need (and “need”) lately, and I’ve been randomly scoring some great deals! Following companies on Facebook really helps, and stocking up when there’s a good sale has been a huge time and money saver. The other day, for example, Jet posted 25% off Honest Company products, and I walked away with tons of bubble bath for about half off (thanks to a first-time-user discount)! I also checked out thredUP (an online consignment store where you can buy and sell clothes) for the first time, because I’ve heard great things about their deals for kids’ clothes. Before I checked out, I asked (via the little “Chat with us!” feature) if there is a first-time-user discount, and sure enough I got an additional 40% off (I bought two maternity dresses for a fancy night we have coming up, but neither one worked out unfortunately, and I also bought Marshall a pair of overalls!).

Amazon Prime Day wasn’t as huge a hit for me, but I did buy a new diaper bag, and I’m so excited to start using it. It’s a big upgrade from my last one and will transition easily to a weekender bag when we no longer need diapers.

New recipes
Terry and I have really stepped outside our comfort zone lately with some awesome new recipes. I love browsing Cup of Jo, 100 Days of Real Food, and Smitten Kitchen <--I love the “Surprise Me!” button!) for inspiration, and sometimes I’ll put my own spin on dishes. Here are some we’ve tried lately:

Orange Creamsicles--perfect for hot nights!

Strawberry-coconut water popsicles (I just threw a bunch of strawberries and some coconut water in a blender and then poured the resulting mixture into our popsicle molds--they were so sweet and delicious! And perfect for me to get some healthy coconut water in, because I’m not a huge fan of drinking it straight)

Mango Chia Pudding--again, I’m not a huge fan of chia seeds and so far haven’t found a good way to incorporate them into my diet, but this recipe is DELICIOUS. So easy and quick, too! Marshall kept asking for more, also, which is a great bonus lately, as he’s hitting the infamous two-year picky phase!

Cheesy Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Peppers - I made this recipe once with a few minor tweaks and loved it, so we tried it again with an enchilada flair. I just added some cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder, and used pepper jack and cheddar instead of the other cheeses. It was delicious, and a perfect side dish or main entree.

Sloppy Joe’s! I can’t remember the last time I had sloppy Joe’s, but I thought it would be a fun recipe to try. SUPER easy, totally delicious, and we all gobbled it down. Terry even convinced me to try making homemade hamburger buns, which are tasty but not quite fluffy enough for me, so I’ll keep working on it.

Egg (white) pizza bake--like a frittata, but bigger, and cooked entirely in the oven. I used kale and collard greens for some variety, and we portioned them out to bring as snacks at work all week. Honestly, chopping all the greens and sauteeing all the vegetables was a LOT of work (luckily I had some cooked sausage and ground turkey in the freezer, so I just threw those in, but that would have added even more work), so I’m not sure we’ll make this one super often, but the idea of it--lots of veggies + cheese + eggs--is definitely one to repeat. Next time I’ll just double the batch and freeze half so I get even more out of it. Delicious, though, and a great way to eat tons of greens, which has been a real struggle this entire pregnancy. (By the way, I used 12 whole eggs instead of the recommended egg whites.)

(Making bread with Daddy)

(Recent haul from the farmer's market)

Sticky Toffee Pudding! For our five-year anniversary, Terry and I celebrated a few times to spread out the magic. First, we spent a night in San Francisco while my parents watched Marshall. Then for our actual anniversary, we gave a nod to our honeymoon (Italy and London) with a dinner out (with Marshall!) at an Italian restaurant

and homemade sticky toffee pudding. It was such a fun night!

Movie nights at home the last two weekends have been a perfect way to unwind after a long week. We watched Spy, which was hilarious, and The Big Short, which was fantastic (but definitely required a few pauses on my part to make sure I understood everything). Watching new movies and shows together has always been a favorite pastime of ours, but it is easy to get into a routine of watching our old standbys instead of diving into something new. Silly, because the new stuff is so fun!

And speaking of which, another new favorite: Catastrophe on Amazon Prime! We started watching a few weeks ago on recommendation of our friend Amanda, and we savored every episode. Hilarious, extremely vulgar, British humor...what could be better? I highly recommend it for anyone, but especially if you have kids, because it gets REAL about life with babies.

Watching Marshall and Scout interact has become a real joy around here. Scout is still terrified of the kid, but Marshall is really interested in the cat. He'll grab a toy for Scout and then walk around the house chanting, "Scooooout! Where are you? Come play, Scout!" Meanwhile the cat finds ways to hide.

Finding a healthy (and sustainable) balance during this pregnancy. A few weeks ago, our former birth teacher came over for an exercise consultation, where she took me through a full pregnancy-safe workout and showed me tons of exercises that are perfectly healthy for me to do up through my delivery date. We also talked a lot about nutrition, changes I can make in my diet to optimize baby's health, and ideas for reducing my stress. While the consultation was extremely helpful, it also gave me some anxiety about "doing everything right" and ended up making me feel like I was actually doing everything wrong.

So over the last two weeks or so, I've been working on finding a healthy balance between what our teacher suggested and what is realistic and sustainable for me. I certainly agree with eating healthy, for example, and adding nutritious foods and reducing sugar. But I also think there's something to be said for enjoying the act of eating, indulging in occasional treats, and fully embracing the experiences of eating out or taking Marshall out for a treat!

(After going out for ice cream recently!)

I have added lots of greens and vegetables to my diet and reduced my sugar intake, but I am still having tea on occasion and enjoying dessert when I want (a few times a week). It's a happy medium for me that keeps the experience of eating fun.

Similarly, the exercises I learned have been awesome for making adjustments to my strength workouts. But our teacher wanted me to follow a very specific type of power walking for cardio workouts, and I just wasn't feeling it. We like going for longer walks, and we like letting Marshall out of his stroller to explore now and then. So now I'm incorporating all her suggestions for strength exercises (modified push ups, dips, upper body exercises with very light weights, bodyweight squats, stationary lunges, pelvic rocking, planks, calf raises, etc.), but we're enjoying our normal family walks for cardio. I also walk at work (20-30 minutes at lunch) at least three times a week (which might go down as it gets hotter in LA). I'm so much happier just relaxing and enjoying workouts instead of stressing about doing it "right"! I'm a pretty active person, so I'm not worried about each individual workout so much as maintaining a generally active and healthy lifestyle.

Some photos from a recent walk to campus with our baby Bruin...
(We counted the chimes when the clock struck 10.)

Overall, this pregnancy has been far less stressful than my first, and finding this healthy balance for nutrition and exercise feels like a wonderful way to head into the home stretch. (I'll have a pregnancy update soon...true to second kid form, we're way behind on sharing those updates. But I'm 27 weeks today, officially entering the third trimester!)

So that's what's going on around here! I'll be back sooner than later this time, but have a great rest of the week!

Monday, July 4, 2016

San Francisco, Fake Father's Day, and Fourth of July

I thought I'd pop in to finally share what's been going on recently. Let's go back to a few weeks ago, when we enjoyed our last trip before baby. We started at my parents' house, including a stop at storage... pull out baby stuff! We brought some back with us and left some for my parents to bring down to us when they visit next. I'm excited to start going through it all!

My parents had some famous "Brentwood corn" (corn grown in Brentwood, California, which is seriously delicious), and Marshall got to help shuck.

Saturday morning, Terry and I took off to San Francisco and left Marshall with my parents for the night! We stayed in Union Square at Hotel Abri. Great location, decent hotel and value, but nothing amazing.

The day we arrived, we took our very first Uber across the Golden Gate Bridge to take in some views and walk back across (first time

True to form, we couldn't settle on one location for our date, so we opted for a traveling date. First stop: a brand-new (week old) bar off Union Square for drinks (I got a virgin mojito). Delicious and great service!

Then we popped right next store for fried pickles and another drink for Terry at the craft beer bar.

Finally, dinner was a bunch of shared small plates, including bacon jam deviled eggs, a salad with pickled vegetables and buttermilk fried chicken,

and an incredible cod sandwich. SO good.

For breakfast we returned to Dottie's True Blue Cafe. The lines are long, and we've had pretty slow (but friendly) service both times, but the food is worth it! I chose an omelet with the jalapeno cornbread,

and Terry went with the carnitas quesadilla.

After barely 24 hours, we headed back on BART to see our little guy, and Chris and Ashley also arrived at my parents for a quick Father's Day lunch (err, more likely, to spend some time with their favorite nephew).

And then we drove back down to get home before another week of work. Now that we're done with all our travel through October, we're already excited about enjoying some time at home to ourselves, relaxing as much as possible and getting ready for our new addition in a few months.

Marshall is certainly getting ready and playing big brother to his doll. :-)

Reading with Daddy

Smoothies for a weekend breakfast!

A recent wedding

Since Father's Day was mostly spent on the road back home from our trip up north, I suggested we do a second Father's Day to really celebrate Terry, which included some homemade cinnamon rolls. Marshall and I loosely followed this recipe, and I've already informed Terry that we'll be adding these to our Christmas morning traditions!
For Father's Day, I updated Terry's frame with photos of Marshall in Terry's favorite teams' jerseys (Bruins, LA Kings, and Dodgers),

and two new prints for the baby's room (we're doing an ocean theme with an emphasis on the mystical octopus), so I got him this one and this one from Minted. Terry is a true ocean lover, and I think this kid's room theme is especially meaningful to him, so that's why the gifts were "for Terry" even though they really benefit the baby.

We've tried a few other new recipes lately, too, including stuffed peppers (loosely followed this recipe, but used marinara instead of plain tomatoes and mozzarella instead of cheddar, no Swiss cheese).

And some blueberry lemon muffins, which weren't great (too lemony?), but good enough for the toddler.

Plus a BIG batch of marinara sauce for the freezer. I feel like it's still a bit early to intentionally make freezer meals for when baby arrives, but I assume some stuff might accidentally sit in there for three months, and I'll be thrilled to dig it out and have an easy meal ready to go!

A new park in our neighborhood opened last weekend! 

I have a feeling we'll spend a lot of time here. It's not very shady (yet--they have trees planted, but they're not providing much shade as of now), so it'll be great for summer mornings, but I like the setup. It's entirely enclosed, pretty small, lots of benches, and closer than any other parks (big bonus!). It's also near our library, so we can stop on the way to or from getting books. It might also be less crowded than our other park for a while, so we can keep an eye on Marshall while giving him some independence once the little one arrives. 

Marshall has been in a bit of a Mommy phase lately, but luckily it's not that he is at all resistant to spending time with Daddy. And thank goodness, because then I get adorable photos like these. <3

Super random, but on one of my walks at work recently I stopped for a quick photo of the back of Royce Hall. I love that I get to work at my alma mater and that UCLA happens to be such a beautiful place. 

Fourth of July Weekend

Okay, finally caught up to now! I got off early Friday, so we picked up Marshall and headed to a local splash pad, which turned out to be a little overwhelming to Marshall. He watched the other kids play for a few minutes, then decided he wanted nothing to do with the water and insisted that we leave the area. So we tried out some big kid swings instead, which were a hit! 

This weekend also marked our official transition to the toddler version of Marshall's crib. We wanted to make this transition well before baby comes so that Marshall has time to adjust (and we have time to catch up on sleep, if it's a rough transition). We want to avoid buying a second crib (our plan is just to switch Marshall to a real twin once baby is ready to use the crib, around 5 or 6 months), so this is a nice option for now. He fell asleep without incident each night, but in the mornings he's a little uneasy and calls for me. It's pretty adorable that he'll sit there, waiting for us to get him, apparently not realizing he can get out by himself! But for the most part, the transition has been smooth. Since it's virtually the same as his old crib, I think when he's half asleep he barely notices a difference.

Breakfast Saturday: pancakes. Marshall's favorite thing to "cook" in his kitchen.

Saturday we mostly took care of chores around the house, made a trip to Bed Bath & Beyond (I saved $30 because I had no fewer than SIX $5 off coupons...the cashier must have thought I was insane stockpiling all those!), and hosted Jenn, Justin, their baby Monroe (HE IS SO FRIGGIN CUTE!), and Jenn's friend from the Bay Area for an impromptu BBQ. Terry grilled a gigantic tri tip and absolutely nailed it. We used the meat for sandwiches and salads, and I think everyone went home happy.

On Sunday, we had big plans: A whole day with some of our best friends up in their neck of the woods (about 40 minutes from our house). We started at Underwood Family Farms for play time, meeting the animals, and strawberry picking!

Terry and I completely fell in love with strawberry picking and can't wait to go back (or find more farms) to pick more. It's certainly more of an experience than a farmer's market, and Marshall was pretty into it, too!

After lunch and naps and some much-missed adult time, we all headed to the pool. I was so excited to swim (last pregnancy I had plenty of opportunities to swim because we had a pool at our apartment, but this time we don't really have any access to a pool) and even completed a few laps between watching our little fish.

Then we loaded up our wagon caravan and headed to the annual Third of July celebration!

This thing was SO fun! Thousands of people, food trucks, music, kids' activities, picnicking, and fireworks. We attempted to make a potluck, and Katie brought an incredible couscous salad (<-- might be the recipe), and Heidi made some killer snickerdoodle blondies. I wanted to provide a chopped kale salad with nectarines, burrata, toasted almonds and pecans, and red onion, but the kale we bought at Costco was awful and ruined the entire thing. I was pretty embarrassed; luckily these people made me feel like it wasn't the end of the world. (We tried the salad again at home today, with better greens, and it really was delicious, so hopefully I can share it next time.)

Heidi is pregnant too (same time again! Kayla was born three weeks before Marshall, and now Heidi's baby is due about two weeks after ours)! Another bump photo!

We headed out early (before fireworks) because we had a long walk and a long drive home, but it was such a fun day. Perhaps a new tradition!

13,000+ steps later, this mama is TIRED and sore today.

Today, we are totally taking it easy. I'm even "slacking" (purposefully) on meal prep in favor of relaxing and enjoying the day off. We spent the morning at home (Marshall changed his doll's diaper and demonstrated awesome form, so we're putting him to work once the baby's born),

returning a few items at the mall, and whipping up a few just-for-fun goodies in the kitchen, including our first batch of homemade popsicles (fresh strawberries combined with coconut water) and a huge four-berry cobbler (straw-, black-, blue-, and rasp-), using this recipe.

We're reluctantly heading into another week, but only four days until the next weekend of family time and fun!

Happy Fourth of July to all of you!