2.20.2017

Weekend Recap

The weather this weekend was insanely beautiful and you could just feel the buzzing energy of everyone wanting to take full advantage of every minute.


Friday after school, my cousin Gia and a few of her friends came over to hang with Leo and I. After playing outside for a few hours, Gia stayed over for dinner with Joel and I, and the three of us watched a few shows and went to bed. 


Saturday my sisters and my cousins Amanda and Sean all came out from the city to spend the night with us.


I set out sandwiches, we went through a lot of champagne, we played a few games, watched the dunk contest, ate a ton of pizza and then everyone fell asleep on the couch before 10. 


It was glorious.


and King Leo was loved on hard.


Sunday Amanda and I took Leo for a long walk, and then decided to sneak away to go watch 50 shades darker.

 

She went back into the city, and I picked up my boys and we decided to go get a few beers at Crystal Lake Brewing.

The place was packed, and its just such a perfect spot. We grabbed a bucket of Jenga blocks for Leo to play with and stayed in this perfect little corner of the brewery for almost two hours. 


Joel's parents ended up meeting us there for a drink together, we had a quick dinner with them at their house after, and then headed home.


I walked to my neighbors house to was Big, Little, Lies since we don't have HBO and then basically melted into my bed at 9:30 after a long, exhausting, but such fun weekend. 

2.17.2017

Five on Friday

::: 1 :::


Shutterfly and I have spent a lot of time together this past month. I finally finished Leo's baby book and I did it through my go-to which is Shutterfly. This blog sometimes feels like a chore, but boy did it make my life easier when I looked back at all of Leo's monthly updates. I'm so excited to have them printed off into a book with pages dedicated to his first holidays and vacations too. It's well worth the $30 dollars (because books are always 50% off, so wait for the sale!)

https://images-community.shutterfly.com/prs/v1/1AYsW7Rs1ctm/bede5a24-ed6d-11e6-8f7d-ff78647a9fd2/p/67b0de21b3127c426502/JPEG/1487106049000/0/
I've also found Shutterfly to be a great place for backing up my photos. Not only does it make it easier to just click and print them off, but now they're all there for when I want to blog too. I previously had been emailing myself photos, saving them to my hard drive, and then uploading them onto the blog. With Shutterfly I've cut out the middleman. I keep the app on my phone, upload my photos everyday, and then when I go to blog, I copy and paste from Shutterfly's website which stores all of my photos by date. It's been a game changer! 

::: 2 :::
We had a great Valentine's day. Joel and I had celebrated on Sunday with a divine dinner cooked by Joel....
So that come Tuesday, the day was spent with a little extra love for the family. We started the day at our favorite tot rock class.


And then we had a visit from Leo's Grandmother AND Great Grandmother. He was spoiled with love.

 

 ::: 3 :::
I have two new podcasts that I've been binge listening too, so I thought I'd share. My friend Mallory turned me on to I Do Declare, and then they turned me on to The Pop Cast. I love both and they're easy, fun, lighthearted podcasts.
The Popcast with Knox and Jamie

My friend Annie asked when I get a chance to listen to podcasts and for the most part, I listen to them everyday during nap time. I like to have my headphones in and listen to them as I prepare dinner, do laundry, clean the house....whatever. I also keep a pair of headphones in our stroller and will pop them in at that point if we go for a decent walk around 4pm.

::: 4 :::
This post is very technological for me, but I wanted to share my experience with the app called Headspace. I don't think it's all that new.....in fact, Joel had already gone through the ten day trial when I told him all about my "new" finding. But regardless...

Image result for Headspace app

I'm really liking it. You start with a free, ten day trial and it just helps you train your brain. I have to keep really on top of my anxiety and this is one other tool to really keep it at bay. 

::: 5 :::
Leo's favorite game in the entire world is hide and seek. He will leave a room, and come rushing in with a big "BOO" in hopes for a big reaction of how much he scared you. This week his favorite hiding space has been c/o his new TeePee that he got from his aunts for Christmas. 

 

This weekend (week actually), is supposed to be in the sixties so I'm thinking we're going to clock as much park time as we possible can! My sisters are coming to hang on Saturday and that's about all we have planned. Have a great weekend! 

 :

2.16.2017

New house needs

Initially when we moved into the house, I was on a "get things perfect" rampage, and couldn't be slowed. 


Once we got all of our stuff from our 2 bedroom apartment in LA, into this much larger home, I was able to fill some immediate furniture holes.

I'm actually surprised how not empty this house is, given the change, but there are some holes.....and some of those holes are just going to have to wait a while. 

I'm not good with waiting, and I'd like every room to look done, and looking done now, but there's no sense in rushing, so I'm working with it.

What I'm hoping to scoop up in the next few weeks is a hallway runner, a comfortable, fun couch for our living room (and I'm leaning towards navy), and a small table that would work well in front of our front bay window. 

 

and then I'd like to put that table up in the guest room (where it belongs!)

 
 
I'm kind of hoping I can score a little bit with the upcoming President's sale so I've been on the hunt and really like this one from Wayfair. I need a dark colored rug that can really hide dirt since this runner will be in a heavily trafficked area. 

Bungalow Rose Ameesha Ivory/Blue Area Rug

My parents are building a house later this year, and I'm hoping to scoop up a few of my moms pieces when they move. I've got my eye on two cozy chairs for our master bedroom, vintage end tables that were my Grandmothers, her outdoor set and mmmaaayyybbbeeee even her sectional if it proves to be too big for her basement! She wants new and I am ONE HAPPY CAMPER to take any of her used goods! 

Our upstairs bedrooms are pretty lacking too, but with time, I know that this house will some day feel small to us!

2.14.2017

Making Marriage Merry

Last week a few of the blogs I read (Home of Malones and Mix'n'Match Mama) posted on the topic of "How to Make Marriage Work"...and in honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd throw my two cents in the game. 

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Joel and I have been together for TEN years next month! Pretty dang insane. We have walked a lot of life together, have grown up together, and have ebbed and flowed in what we like, what we want, and we need together and apart.


Every stage of life has required different things from each other, but when I thought about what has been consistent for the last ten years, these are the few things that I think have kept our bond strong.


Find things you both like doing outside of the house and do them...as often as you can. 


Joel and I don't operate well being at home constantly and being entertained by the television. We both like to stay active, and we have a lot of fun when we are active together. We really like to play tennis together - we're going to join a pickle ball league this summer together  - or back in California we really tried to get in a hike together every week. We also really like to play games, and even more so at a bar, so we try to do that whenever we can. Just doing things that help keep things fresh and fun.

Create traditions


My family will tell you...but I live and die by traditions. They're my absolute favorite thing about life and I like having marriage traditions too.  Watching our wedding video at our anniversary, staying in together on New Years Eve, whatever they may be are fun and help connect us.


Surprise each other


Honestly, I don't think this has to be grand or extreme, but a note under my pillow when Joel leaves for a business trip or cooking his favorite dinner after a bad day at work makes us both feel loved. It feels nice when someone goes a little bit out of their way to make the other one feel special.


Go on adventures 


There's nothing more I love than going to new places with Joel. Sometimes it's a new town or a new country - but I love everything about it. We both enjoy the anticipation of adventures, and we both dive into the place we are going to. We like to research and find the best places to eat, see, visit....and it's fun to get out of our sometimes stale routine. 


Try not to air your dirty laundry 



I think we all have been guilty complaining about our loved ones...especially after a few glasses of wine with your girlfriends. When its been a tough day, tough week, or tough year, its tempting to go to your girls and be reassured that "he's an idiot", but, for the most part, after I've done that, I wished I hadn't. I don't like my girlfriends to think poorly of Joel - and more times than not - I'm keeping my part of the argument out of the story. It's just a tough position to put everyone in, and I try really hard to stop myself from doing so. 


Set yearly goals on your anniversary 


We have done this for the last 3 years, and its something I really like doing. We spend our entire anniversary dinner talking about how the previous years goals went, and setting ones for the following year. We both try to come prepared with a few ideas, and a lot of the goals end up getting repeated. We try to pick a financial goal we want to reach by the end of the year, a romantic goal (like more date nights), a family goal (go to church more), and a travel goal (like go to Europe). Sometimes the goals are a bust, sometimes a success, but more than anything, its nice to be on the same page about where we want the year ahead to take us. 

Kiss


There's got to be something more in a marriage than just a roommate or co-parent. Kissing hello and goodbye, finding time to make out, and just remembering your attraction to your husband or wife, is pretty damn important. 


We are lucky in the fact that if given the choice, [for the most part], come Friday or Saturday night, there really isn't anyone else we would want to spend time with besides each other. Joel is everything I need in a partner. He balances me, calms me, motivates me, and loves me and I truly Thank God I was smart enough ten years ago to see that and not let him go.  

We're obviously not perfect, and we have a lot of room to grow in our relationship, so I'd love to hear what you feel like you are conscious to do in your current or previous or future relationships!

2.13.2017

Weekend Recap

On Friday afternoon, I accepted a part time job!

The opportunity came to me back in December when my old boss caught wind that I was moving back to Chicago. He reached out to see if I would be interested in a part time sales position - one that would be a work from home gig - and with the help of my mom and Joel's mom - I couldn't say no.I start in two weeks, and while there will be some training downtown Chicago, mostly I'll be working from our office from 12-4:30pm, 4 days a week. I'm really excited to see what a little extra work on my plate will do for our family...for good or for bad...but here goes nothing! 

To celebrate, I went out and got my hair and nails done, and then Joel and I went out to dinner with friends so it was a fun impromptu, baby-free celebration! 

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Saturday morning my mom picked me up before 9am, and we headed into the city to celebrate her birthday! 

My sister is the events director at a new hotel in Bucktown/Wicker Park called The Robey. 


If you live in Chicago, you have to visit. The views, location, ambience, and food are absolutely incredible.


We walked across the street to Publican Anker for a pretty solid brunch.

 

It was packed to the brim, and while brunch fit the bill, it was a bit over done for me. The brunch menu is pretty small, and of the 7 or 8 dishes we got, I really only totally loved one.


Before we knew it, it was time to head over to the PrivateBank theater for Hamilton! 


We bought these tickets back in October and have honestly been looking forward to the show for months. 


I wasn't sure what all the hype was about, but my final verdict is that there still isn't even enough hype for how good it is.


The music is unbelievable, the story, message, show, everything about it blew me away and had me wiping away tears at the end. It is a MUST SEE, and it honestly is worth the expensive price tag. 

After the show, we went over to Mama's Boy for a really solid dinner. Classic Italian food but we had a great bottle of wine, great appetizers (the burrata salad was my favorite) and an overall great time.

We capped it off with a cup of tea at The Robey cafe and went to bed before ten! 

Sunday I was home really early since my little Leo caught a little cold. I knew something was inevitable since he is new to these Chicago germs, but I'm hoping its short lived and he's back to his healthy self in no time.


Hope you had a great weekend!

2.10.2017

Five on Friday


::: 1 :::
 
Gym dare is still going. I'm shooting for 3-4 times a week, and while the inital drop off is not getting easier (in fact, worse), the teachers assure me that after twenty minutes Leo settles in and starts to play and have fun. I've only been working out for 45 minutes, but I think starting next week I'm going to bump that up. It will give me a better workout, and give Leo more time in the kidzone of actual play time. We will get there! 

::: 2 ::: 
I can't help myself with holiday outfits. I have never decorated my house for Valentine's Day (although I might next year), but Leo is my walking decoration. I've got another few shirts lined up for next week, but my little boy looks pretty darn good in red! 


::: 3 :::
Leo's sleep has been totally off whack this week....one morning I had to wake him from a deeeeeep sleep at 8:40am, and then today, no nap at all! He's cutting his molars (1 has just started to cut through), so that is one part to blame, and his room has been just way too bright, so that's the other part. I've bought a small fortune in window coverings, so I'm hoping that helps! 


::: 4 :::
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I'm finally starting to get my cooking groove back and its been nice to sit at the table and eat somewhat balanced meals together. This week we had superbowl leftovers on Monday, bunless burgers and sweet potato's on Tuesday, Korean bowls on Wednesday, and delish White Chicken Chili yesterday.
::: 5 ::: 
This weekend is due to very much so NOT suck for me. I'm getting my hair and nails done early afternoon thanks to wonderful in-laws who have offered to sit for Leo all afternoon and evening tomorrow - and then we are going out to dinner with neighborhood friends.
Saturday I'm ditching my boys for an overnight in the city to see Hamilton and spend some time with my mom and sisters. 

Hope you have a great weekend too!!




2.09.2017

CrockPot Korean Chicken Bowls

This meal might end up having a nostalgic feel for Joel and I, because it was what my mom made for us the night we landed in Chicago, for good.

 We had had such an insane travel day - lots of delays and turbulence with the dog and toddler - and we're both physically and emotionally exhausted from moving cross country and saying goodbye to a home and life that was really, really good to us.

We had just finished cleaning Leo (and his car seat up) up from a not so fun "situation", had kissed him goodnight, cracked open cold beers, and would have shoved basically anything into our mouths at that point, but what we did end up eating was heavenly. 

Warm, sweet, spicy, filling and on the somewhat healthier side of things.....it just fit the bill.
I haven't stopped thinking about it, so I whipped it up last night and wanted to share. 


CrockPot Korean Chicken Bowls
 
this recipe serves just about 4 adults. I typically like to cook dinners that provide a solid amount of leftovers, so next time I will add more chicken and/or double the entire recipe. 
 

The Goods:
  • 1lb chicken thighs
  • 1-2 TBSP of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 red onion 
  • 1-2 jalapenos 
  • 1-2 large heads of broccoli
  • 1 TBSP of ginger (I used the squeeze-y type that I just found at our grocery store)
  • 2 TBSP of rice wine vinegar 
  • 2 TBSP of sesame seeds  
  • Brown Rice 

Directions: 

1. Place chicken thighs and garlic into the CrockPot

2. Mix together sugar, soy, diced red onion, diced jalapeno, ginger, vinegar, and seeds


3. Cover chicken with sauce and cook on low for 6 hours, or until chicken shreds 

4. About 30 minutes before you are ready to eat, add the broccoli


5. Serve over brown rice (and add sriracha if you like a kick!)


 
Even Leo liked it!