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Watching, Reading, Listening and Waddling at Week 31

on
Saturday, August 25, 2018
We've officially made it to week 31 and I could not be more ready to have this baby! I am incredibly excited and grateful to be expecting, but I can't say that I've loved being pregnant.  I can tell that these last nine or so weeks the struggle will be real, which is perfect timing since next week I begin the busiest time of year for work. Ha! I'll be on the road every day from August 27 - November 1(or depending on when P shows up) with multiple events each week in the evenings. I'm nervous about how I will feel and how I will pull it all off but trying to power through with a positive mindset!

I'm trying to be grateful but sometimes the exhaustion, largeness of my body, heartburn (Tums, please), and nausea (wasn't morning sickness supposed to go away?) get in the way. I'm hoping these are all normal complaints in the third trimester.

The nursery is in progress but still a ways from being done. At least we've got a couple months! We've put together the crib and changing table, painted, and started hanging things up on the wall, and we'll plan to finish it all up after the shower next month. Working on the nursery is one thing that makes me super excited. I love decorating and working on house projects so I've really enjoyed this part of pregnancy. Getting a room ready for a new resident also makes it SO real and the heartburn (slightly) less bothersome.

Well, enough of my hormonal complaining - here's what's been keeping my mind off of my pregnancy woes lately:

Watching

Trial & Error

Has anyone else fallen in love with the characters of East Peck, South Carolina? This show is hilarious! I originally gave it a watch because I love Kristin Chenoweth but I was quickly hooked. Mike is even getting a kick out of it. The show is reminiscent of both The Office and Clue, which is totally my sense of humor. If you need a really good laugh - plus a good mystery - I'd highly recommend it.



Reading


I've been hitting up the library a lot the past few weeks. For one, I realize my days of free time are limited with travel season and a baby on the way, and two, with this large belly, there's not much else I can do right now. Here's what I've read this month -

What Made Maddy Run

What Made Maddy Run is a very sad story, but an interesting and important one, especially in a time when I believe we really need to take mental health seriously. Madison Holleran was a brilliant and beautiful student-athlete at Penn with a life that seemed perfect, but ended tragically. It is such a strong reminder that just because someone seems "fine" or the images we see on Instagram portray a happy life, that it isn't always an accurate picture. This one hit home to me in so many ways. A very interesting look at mental health, perfectionism, the pressure placed on teens, our society, and the effects of social media.


Sisters First

Okay, on a much lighter note, how can you not love the Bush family?! I've always admired them (even when it was unpopular) and I think Barbara and Jenna are both such inspirational women. I remember throughout high school I was fascinated by them and how different they were in looks, personalities, and career goals despite being twins. I enjoy watching Jenna on the Today Show and reading her column in Southern Living. Her personality is so infectious. I loved reading about their childhood and growing up among the Bush dynasty, which was surprisingly real and normal. I didn't think I could love the Bush family more until I read this book.

In Conclusion, Don't Worry About It

This was a surprise find while I was wandering the library aisles. I saw who wrote it (Lauren Graham!) and how short it was and thought, "Well, why not?"  It is a tiny little book that packs a powerful punch. It literally took me half an hour while on the elliptical to read this but it had some great thoughts on success and life in general. This would be a perfect gift for a recent graduate, someone starting their first job, or anyone, really, who needs a little inspirational pick-me-up.


Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe the World

Another super quick read that caught my eye because one of my big things is making the bed every morning. I cannot leave the house or start the day without doing it. The few times I haven't made the bed my day has just been off, and it really does impact how I feel at the start of the day. Written by a retired a Navy SEAL and four-star Admiral, the book takes you through life lessons that the author learned throughout his time in SEAL training and serving in the Navy. While most of us can't relate to the intense training a SEAL goes through, his life lessons are very relatable and great reminders. (Make your bed every morning!)





Listening

Ali on the Run


The most recent podcast to join my lineup is "Ali on the Run." I need to jump back to some of the beginning episodes to get a good feel of the show, but so far I love it. I picked up during her "What's New with You" week where she revisited past guests on her show - all amazing women runners. Ali is expecting and her due date is just one day ahead of ours, so I appreciated her pregnancy related questions she had for all these women runners. It was encouraging to hear that while many ran their entire pregnancy, running postpartum was a struggle and took time, even for these incredible athletes. Ali's positivity radiates through the mic and I love her personality. She ends each interview with a wonderful question - "What are three things you love about yourself?" Super motivating podcast whether I'm literally on a run or on a Target run. 


Have a great weekend, friends! Enjoy this last weekend of August. 

San Diego Getaway

on
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Last month we took a short trip to San Diego and it ended up being a super relaxed and enjoyable visit. I hadn't been to San Diego since I was about seven years old when I visited my great-grandmother, and I had been wanting to go back. With an unusually cold April here in Wichita, we were excited for some warmer temps and time on the beach. Turns out we visited during a cool period for San Diego as well and needed our hoodies and jackets, but the sunshine was still radiant and we enjoyed plenty of beautiful ocean views.

Here were a few of our favorite things -

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens

One of Mike's favorite IPAs is made by Stone Brewing, so I knew I wanted to make a stop at the brewery while we were in town. The brewery has multiple locations throughout the city, but we decided to have lunch at the brewery at Liberty Station. The location was perfect as it sits right next to the airport. Once we landed and got our rental car, we headed to the brewery for lunch.

I feel like all breweries have really good food, and this place was no exception. Their food was amazing. (See more later on) Mike really enjoyed beer tasting and ordered a flight of IPAs that he wouldn't be able to find in Kansas.

The huge patio and gardens have to be mentioned as well - they were gorgeous. Large koi ponds, beautiful flowers and a bright, sunny patio made the dining experience even more enjoyable.

Yes, that really was my beer. 

La Jolla

We stayed twenty minutes north of San Diego in La Jolla, which was so beautiful. I remember staying there as a kid and loving the beaches, sea lions, and neat downtown area. We stayed at La Jolla Shores Hotel located right on the beach, which was great for walking the shore in the morning and evening. Just a mile south of our hotel was downtown La Jolla which is so beautiful and fun for window shopping, strolling the sidewalks and finding a great place for dinner and drinks. We spent every evening downtown.

Checking out La Jolla Cove 

Exactly how I feel after too much Chipotle

Beautiful beaches 

Walking the beach in the morning

Mike's secret admirer

San Diego Zoo

Our first morning in San Diego we headed to the Zoo, because when you're in San Diego that's got to be on your list, right? You could really spend a full day at the Zoo - especially if you are pushing a stroller, or wandering around with little kids, as we saw many parents doing. Mike and I strategically planned out our path around the Zoo and did it in a full morning. My legs were tired and I was ready for lunch by the end of the morning though.

The San Diego Zoo was huge and very impressive, but it also made me realize what an incredible Zoo we have here in Wichita. Our elephant habitat is hard to beat. We loved seeing the polar bears and catching the panda lunch just in time.



Hotel del Coronado 

I really wanted to see Hotel del Coronado while we were in San Diego - much more than Mike who I believe had never even heard of it but he didn't grow up idolizing old movie stars like I did. The Del is just as beautiful as it looks in the famous Marilyn Monroe photos, old movies and postcards. It did surprise me just how huge the place is though - and all constructed of wood! I can't imagine the upkeep to keep the hotel in such grand condition. The hotel was built in 1888 and was the first beachfront resort on the West coast. We walked around the grounds, through the lobby and into the gift shops before heading off to lunch.

Coronado Island was so beautiful. I wish we would have spent more time on the island. Orange Avenue, the main drag, is filled with all sorts of unique boutiques and swanky shops. We walked through some of the neighborhoods and I loved looking at all the quaint little beach cottages (probably with a huge price tag!) with darling patios and window boxes literally dripping with colorful flowers.





Bottomless Pina Coladas

Let's take a moment to talk about how many Pina Coladas I consumed on this trip. So many tasty ones! Unlike restaurants in Wichita, so many restaurants had frozen nonalcoholic drink options, which made me so happy!


It was nice to have a break from ice water, and Pina Coladas are one drink that taste just as delicious without alcohol. It put me in vacation mode and felt festive to have a drink at dinner.

Cue DJ Khaled..."Another one!"


My favorite one was a lavender Pina Colada from Duke's La Jolla. I know the combination doesn't sound like it would work - but it was SO good.

Duke's Lavender Pina Colada was heavenly!

So much good food...

One thing that stood out to me on this trip was how amazing the food was - maybe it was because I was finally crawling out of the deep, dark hole known as morning sickness, but we ate really well on this trip. So many delicious dishes and fresh seafood. I didn't have one bad, or even so-so meal. Here's what we loved -
  • Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - We ordered the Smokey Brisket Sandwich (our waitress recommended we add avocado - we did), and the Balsamic-Fig Jam Grilled Cheese (she recommended adding pork belly - we did) and both sandwiches were so tasty. Mike did a flight of their IPAs he can't get in Kansas and I enjoyed their nonalcoholic brew.
  • Duke's La Jolla - Obviously the Lavender Pina Coladas! We also loved the fish tacos and the fish sandwich. Sit outside in the barefoot bar area for the most beautiful ocean views. 
  • The Crab Catcher - We really splurged here, and had a "when in Rome" attitude. After perusing the menu we said, "What the heck!" and ordered the giant seafood platter for two that the waiter recommended. Definitely not something we can order in Kansas. We enjoyed a huge platter of shrimp, lobster and ginormous crab legs - all delicious. By the end of the meal our bellies were full, our hands were slippery with butter, and I had a new appreciation for how easy it is to eat a steak. 
  • The Waterfront Bar & Grill - We were in the mood for splitting appetizers for lunch and we loved our nachos and fish and chips. The batter for the fish and chips had cinnamon in it - unexpected flavor but it worked so well! This is the oldest bar in San Diego and is full of character! 
  • Shore Rider Bar - Go here for instant laidback surfer vibes! Mike had an incredible fish sandwich. I ordered a chicken and avocado salad (not my first choice but I started to wonder about the amount of seafood I was consuming on this trip while pregnant...). It was still really good - and spicy! My only regret was not being able to order their amazing looking Froses, frozen rose drinks. I saw some people actually pour a little champagne on top of theirs. Sigh. 
San Diego was a great getaway - and I'd love to go back! Especially when I can add some rum to those Pina Coladas....

Have a great holiday weekend!

This Spring's Favorite Flicks and Book Picks

on
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
 Between unusually cold weather and pretty intense bouts of nausea, I didn't spend as much time outside in the evenings this spring. The evenings were cold - dipping down into the 20s through the middle of April and my morning sickness was at its worst in the evenings. So, my usual 90 mph pace of getting things done in the evenings slowed down significantly. The positive of that is I read some entertaining books and Mike and I watched a ton of movies this spring. We knocked out quite a few Oscar nominated films like The Darkest Hour, I, Tonya, and The Shape of Water, which was fun. (The Shape of Water was a wild ride.) 

I love nonfiction - I really enjoy true stories, memoirs, and learning about people's lives. Natural Disaster by Ginger Zee was really entertaining. I've always liked watching Ginger on Good Morning America, but her book is truly a deep dive into the real Ginger Zee. I learned so much about her life, and came away from the book respecting and liking Ginger so much more. She details her struggles with depression and mental illness - all while being amazingly successful at a young age. I loved how real she was about her struggles - yet I was also inspired by her drive and perseverance in her professional career.


Sourdough by Robin Sloane was pure fun. The story follows Lois, a software engineer in San Francisco, who hates her tedious, bland job in the tech world, and discovers she has a talent for baking sourdough bread thanks to an inherited, somewhat magic, starter.  Completely different from anything else I've read lately and really entertaining!




Like I mentioned before, we watched a record number of movies this spring. Redbox knew us well. I, Tonya had piqued my interest since I saw the commercials this past winter. It was really entertaining - Allison Janney made a frighteningly perfect mom. Not sure exactly how accurate the film is to the whole story (obviously) but it sure had me hooked. Lots of dry humor - which I greatly appreciate.

Coco was a beautiful film with gorgeous colors and animations, and a really sweet story. It reminded me so much of my Nana who loved the Mexican culture and traditions so much. She bought me a book about the Day of the Dead when I was little and this movie was a great reminder of what a cool holiday it is.

The Greatest Showman was the best movie I've seen this year. It was pure magic - and such a feel good film. The glittering costumes and set, gorgeous songs, and fun dance scenes were right up my alley. I absolutely loved it. What surprised me most was that Mike said the same thing. He agreed it was one of the best movies he's seen in a long time. Also, who knew that Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron could dance like that?

Summer's coming so my movie watching may slow a bit but I am always in need of a good summer read for the pool, the patio, and a road trip. Feel free to offer any suggestions!



First trimester favorites

on
Friday, May 11, 2018
First trimester is in the rearview mirror, and I can't believe how it flew by! However, if you would've talked to me during the first trimester I probably would have told you it wasn't going by fast enough. I was in a constant state of nausea and it was about as fun as it sounds. I didn't know what to expect when I heard other moms-to-be talk about morning sickness, but now that I've experienced it firsthand, I'm really not a fan. The nausea was all day but really hit its highest point at the end of the day from 3 p.m. on.

The only thing that would keep it somewhat bearable was constantly eating. When I first found out I was expecting I had visions of myself consuming leafy greens and nutrient-packed smoothies. The reality looked more like Kraft mac & cheese, white carbs, and ice cream.

The second trimester has been good to me so far though. Many friends promised it would be a welcome reprieve after the first trimester, and they were right. I've had a few random aches and pains, and the occasional bout of nausea, but nothing to complain about.

Here were my first trimester staples -

Preggie Pop Drops

I can't say enough about these bad boys - they went everywhere with me during my first fourteen weeks. I had them in the car, in the house, in my purse, and in my pockets. They helped ease nausea so much! I tried the wristbands and Ginger drops and gum, but they didn't do much for me. The Ginger was almost too spicy for my stomach at that point. These sour fruity drops did the trick though - I probably went through four or five packs. I found them at Target and Amazon for the same price, otherwise they were kind of hard to track down. A first trimester lifesaver for sure!



Eating all the (bad) things

Like I mentioned earlier, if it was a cheap food you ate in college, I was probably eating it during my first trimester. Ramen noodles, ice cream, crackers, mac & cheese and really any white carb. Nothing ever tasted good but certain foods definitely sounded bad. Morning sickness is a weird thing. Also, I've never eaten so much in my life. I was constantly eating all day - it was the only thing that helped me feel not as sick. It would have been a lot more fun if stuff tasted good!



Tea

I really didn't have any food aversions except for hot coffee, which is really strange as I was a coffee devotee. I haven't worried about staying away from caffeine (I feel like it's yet another thing we're supposed to panic about) but I have tried to consume less of it.  I've been surprised by how much you can actually have and still stay under the recommended 200 mg or less a day.  Tea did sound good during my first trimester though, so I drank a lot of Constant Comment. I've graduated on to cold brew Cafe Lattes by Califia Farms but hot coffee still doesn't sound appetizing at all.



Running

Surprisingly my running didn't slow down at all during my first trimester (okay, maybe the pace did!)  Running was really the only time I felt good. No headaches, no nausea, and plenty of time to relax and think. I could tell I was slower and had less energy but I still enjoyed my usual running routine. The second trimester has been great as well - definitely been feeling more energetic!



It is still surreal to think we're finally expecting after a year of failed attempts. It doesn't quite seem real yet, but hoping that once I start feeling little kicks or have a bump show up it will. Thanks to everyone who has shared advice, suggestions and congratulations! We welcome all the help we can get!

Happy Friday, friends!

January books, movies, and a royal podcast

on
Friday, February 16, 2018
I started January off strong with an ambitious #18for2018 list (if any of you listen to the Happier podcast, you know what I'm talking about).  I filled it with daily goals, one time tasks, and an equal amount of simple and ambitious intentions for the year. So far, it's going well, and it feels much more fun to say I have 18 goals for 2018 than a resolution. 

Reading more books was one of those goals - 15 for the year to be exact. I originally had a much higher number to which my husband said, "No way, you're way too busy in the evenings to have that as your goal." So I took his advice and lowered it to 15, a little more than one a month. I've read three books so far, so maybe that was the right pace to set?

My favorite book so far has been Fitness Junkie, which is a fantastic satire on the world of health and fitness among the super wealthy. The book's protagonist takes you on her journey to save her job by losing 30 pounds (which she doesn't really need to lose).  From naked yoga, green juice, Kale obsessions to outrageously priced fitness resorts, this is a hilarious yet frighteningly true take on the health and fitness industry. It's funny, sweet and really well-written. It was a great pick for late January when fitness resolutions were still fresh in our minds. A must read!



Another fun read so far has been Anna Faris' Unqualified. The actress has a hilarious and heartfelt podcast of the same name that I subscribe to and love, so I knew I had to get my hands on her book. I read this one in just a couple of days and it was light, funny, and put me in a good mood. If you're familiar with the podcast, you'll enjoy it even more. 



Mike and I have rented a lot of movies this past month from Redbox because he hates going to movies. (This is a whole other topic that I'll dive into at another time.)  Mike and I rarely agree on the type of movie we want to watch, but I had picked some "old movies" recently so I let him pick a couple. We watched Dunkirk (which I ended up liking more than him!) and American Made, but one night when Mike was gone, I rented one of my movies.

Ingrid Goes West is a wild ride - one that will make you put your phone down. I absolutely loved it though. Elizabeth Olsen and Aubrey Plaza are outstanding. Rotten Tomatoes' description of it is perfect, "savagely hilarious dark comedy that satirizes the modern world of social media."  Rent this one, make yourself some #avocadotoast and consider yourself #blessed. It's so good. 




A new podcast I've added to my usual lineup is When Meghan Met Harry. This royal weddingcast is a great way to prepare for May's royal wedding. Hosts Kristen Meinzer (the American) and James Barr (the Brit) make the perfect duo for discussing the latest news, gossip and making predictions about Wills and Meghan's wedding day.  If you think you've heard Kristen before, you're right. She was the former producer on Happier, and she has another popular podcast, By the Book.



Have a great weekend, friends. Happy reading, watching, and listening! 










Wonderful Christmas Time

on
Saturday, January 6, 2018
Christmas was spent here this year, which was nice because we didn't have to pack our bags and travel. It did mean lots of family time and celebrating nightly for about two full weeks. I love my family and I love the holidays but boy, I was happy to see Jan. 2 roll around. I had toasted, feasted, partied, chatted, and drank champagne to excess. By New Year's Eve I was exhausted and felt like I wanted to crawl into a dark hole, not socialize for a month, and eat nothing but healthy food. Wow - that's not very cheery, is it? Let me start over.

The holidays were great.

They really were! So great, that yes, I was ready for a little quiet time and healthy eating....and a little less wine. Mike's sister, her husband, and their three month old son, Alex, visited from Seattle, and Mike's grandparents joined us from Florida. For Christmas Eve and Christmas my parents also joined us. So our celebrations were lively with ten people, one baby, and three dogs!

The families wanted Christmas photos outdoors for 'the light.' It was about fourteen degrees out.
This is my I'm-freezing-can-we-go-inside smile. Cheers! 


It was truly so fun to host everyone at our house for Christmas Eve, Mike and I enjoyed having everyone in our home and preparing a delicious prime rib dinner. Prime rib has become a Christmas Eve tradition in our house, which I'm totally cool with as I'd pick prime rib over ham or turkey any day. I know I was raised to say this but beef is always my favorite. #itswhatsfordinner


Mike has mastered the Christmas Eve prime rib and takes his job quite seriously. We reserve our prime rib each year from a local butcher shop that offers really amazing aged prime ribs. This year we had to purchase a larger one to feed our crowd so Mike lugged in a hefty 10 lb piece of beef that Missy May was overwhelmed by.

The prime rib was bigger than the dog! Missy was so impressed.

Chef Kuchinski at work. 

A good prime rib is all about the seasoning and the crust! 

Mike has researched lots of prime recipes and he goes by the "low and slow" followed by searing method. Some do the opposite, but Mike has had success with cooking the prime rib on low heat for about six hours (it always seems to take longer - pass the cheese tray). At the end of the six hours, the prime rib rests for about ten minutes and then you sear it at a super high temp to get that nice, crisp crust. Mike uses The Pioneer Woman's prime rib seasoning but not her cooking method.

This where I head when Mike says the prime rib is going to be another 30 minutes.
Even if the prime rib takes a little longer than expected it is always worth waiting for. I live for the end piece ( I forfeited it this year) that has all the crunchy, salty seasonings on the crust. So good!

Finally done and ready to eat! 

Our Christmas Eve menu also included cranberry and pistachio salads made by my mom, garlic mashed potatoes (another P-Dub recipe), balsamic green beans (Southern Living), kale salad and yes, plenty of Au Jus.

I just love these two! 

Christmas Day was spent at my in-laws feasting again, this time on turkey, all the traditional side dishes, and plenty of champagne. My parents were able to stick around and join us which was really great, too. My in-laws are great cooks and always have plenty of wine and champagne, so it's always a very large feast and daylong celebration.

Mike with his sister, Jess, and our new nephew, Alex!

My sister-in-law, Jess, is so fun! Here we are on one of many glasses of champs.

After 48 hours of prime rib, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, turkey, and copious amounts of bubbly, I was feeling really sluggish, so I took advantage of the slightly warmer evening on Christmas night and took a quick run outside. My in-laws live on a dirt road which I always feel at home on. Running down the road and looking at a beautiful Christmas Day sunset and feeling incredibly thankful for so much time with family was the perfect end to the holiday.

Hope that you savored and survived the holidays as well, friends!


French Onion Soup

on
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
For the past week we've had freezing temperatures....well, more accurately, WAY below freezing temperatures. One of the few things I do love about winter is the opportunity to cook up really delicious, satisfying soups. When it dipped down to single digits this past weekend, I knew it was the perfect time to make one of my very favorite soups - French Onion!


French Onion heaven at Mon Ami Gabi in Las Vegas

French Onion is such a comforting meal. What's not to love about onions, cheese, and bread? My favorite recipe for French Onion soup is from Wichita chef Bonnie Aeschliman's "Cooking with Bonnie: Farm to France." I mentioned this recipe before when we did a French Valentine's meal a couple years ago. 

French Onion is a great first course to any meal, but I think when paired with a fresh salad and served in a large enough bowl, it makes an amazing meal. Oh, and don't forget a nice glass of bubbly!


Is there anything better than the smell of onions cooking in butter? The answer is no. 

Bonnie's recipe is so simple and delicious. It does call for Sherry, which I think is a key ingredient in a good French Onion soup. So, if you don't have Sherry stocked in your bar already, you'll need to go grab a bottle. It's a good investment though, it lasts forever! I've had the same bottle of Sherry for years - I only use it for this recipe!

One place I do deviate from Bonnie's recipe is the cheese. Gruyere is fabulous but it can be difficult to find and pricey. I actually prefer a blend of three cheeses - Mozzarella, Havarti, and Parmesan. Mozzarella and Havarti melt really well and give the soup a delicious ooey, gooey cheesy topping. The Parmesan gives it a salty, savory flavor. Lots of cheeses would work - but these are my favorite. Just make sure it melts really well so you get that cheese-dripping-from-your-spoon effect. 


Pure bliss! 

The only thing I don't like about French Onion soup? Waiting to eat it. To get this beautifully browned cheese top, you must broil the soup at super high temps - like 450 degrees. Yikes! Once the soup is done, you'll have to have some patience or you'll end up with a very burnt tongue. (I speak from experience, people.) This is when you snap that photo for Instagram so your friends can be jealous of your soup, pour yourself some more wine, or munch on the side salad. It's worth the wait. Bon appetit!

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