Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spousal Mini-Vacation

It was a little last minute, but we decided to head to Chicago for an overnight trip.  Our anniversary is this week, and Eric's parents offered to take the boys, so we said "why not."  Since we started dating, we have always liked spending time in Chicago.  Since we've been there so many times, it's fun to explore new areas and try new restaurants.  Usually our goal is to find places away from tourist spots.  Whenever we travel, no matter if it's our first time or fifth, it's pretty much our goal to look as little like tourists as possible.  In Chicago, it's pretty easy since we're so familiar with the city.

We slept in on Saturday, left mid-morning and stopped for breakfast along the way.  We stopped where we usually do, a little diner called Sophia's.  They have great breakfast, although this time for me it was not the same.  It was actually pretty hard to find something I could eat.  But it was fun nonetheless, and my fruit was delicious.

The hotel we stayed in was very nice, but on the cheap end when we booked.  We don't often make a big deal about hotels since we don't usually spend a lot of time there.  But we definitely know how to appreciate a good one when we see it.  We checked in Saturday afternoon and spent some time planning out our meals.  Eric did most of the investigating and found some great places for dinner that night and breakfast the next morning.

Sadly, it was pretty raining.  Not sadly was the fact that I had remembered an umbrella, so we weren't stuck getting soaked.

We did some shopping, and then headed to dinner.  We ate at the Handlebar, which is a pescetarian eatery, meaning it only served seafood as a meat option.  The food was really good, and it had a great vibe.  We liked it especially because it was off the beaten trail. 

P.S. never use your iPhone 4 in the dark.  The flash doesn't do anything to better your picture, as you can see.

Sunday morning was again rainy and foggy.   The forecast called for sun and warm weather, so we were a little disappointed, but not enough to discourage us from hanging out in the city any longer.

Besides, if we would have left early, we would have missed this amazing cafe/coffee shop.  It had such awesome style.  Plus, it was in a giant old house, which made it even cooler.

And to top it all off, our coffee and breakfast were amazing!  I would recommend this place to anyone needing breakfast in Chicago.

And it was situated in such a quaint neighborhood.  There were trees lining the streets and it was pretty quiet, despite being almost noon.

Before heading home, we stopped in to an Urban Outfitters, only to find that it was an outlet-type store.  Jackpot!  So, we didn't leave as soon as we had thought, but came out with some wicked deals.  After we had had our fill, then it was time to leave.

And it wasn't a moment too soon.  As soon as we started driving, the rain just started pouring.  Apparently, there were some tornado sightings along our route, but we didn't encounter anything too dangerous.

Thankfully, I married a great driver and he was able to navigate us safety back to our kiddos.

It was a fun trip, but it's also so nice to be home.  I missed our little boys.  Although, I am a firm believer that you need to take mini spousal vacations every now and again.  It was wonderful to be able to stay up late talking without the dread of getting up early, as well as doing things without having to worry about a sleeping/eating schedule.

Well, speaking of an eating schedule, I'm off to make the kiddos lunch.  

Monday, May 30, 2011

Weekend Wears

Goodness.  It's hard to find time to post on a holiday.  So far our day has been very full, but a lot of fun.  But I'm not posting about my day so far, I wanted to post my outfits for the weekend.  I was able to take photos all three days this weekend again.  I think I'm on a hot streak.

This weekend was marvelous.  My in-laws took the boys both Friday and Saturday night, so we were kiddo-less the entire weekend.  Because of this, it was my goal to wear skirts/dresses all weekend, but unfortunately, the crummy Chicago weather forced me to abandon my efforts.  Oh well.

So Friday we grabbed dinner with friends and saw a movie, Bridesmaids.  It was very funny, although I think I hyped it up in my head a little too much so my expectations were a bit unrealistic.  But even if it were dumb, the time spent with friends was totally worth it.

Shirt: Thrifted & Altered
Skirt: Thrifted & Altered
Tights: Meijer
Shoes: Thrifted

On Saturday, we slept in for a while, and then took our time getting ready before we headed to Chicago.  We stopped for breakfast/brunch on the way (more like Eric stopped for breakfast), and arrived in Chicago about 2:30pm.  We checked into our hotel and off we went.  We decided ahead of time to limit the number of stores we visited, just because we weren't on a shopping spree.  We first stopped at H & M and then Urban Outfitters.  We were mildly successful at both places, but weren't super impressed with either spot.  That night, we decided to check out this restaurant/bar called Handlebar.  It was a such an awesome find.  The food was good and the atmosphere was really unique.  We thought about going out afterward, but once food hit out stomach, both of us started yawning and decided to be the like parents and head to bed.

Blazer: Mossimo
Dress: Missimo
Tights: Target
Boots: Aldo

Sunday was another sleep in morning, and didn't arrive to brunch until 11:30am.  I need to stop here, and tell you about where we ate.  It was incredible!  It was in an old house, gutted to accommodate a coffee shop/cafe.  There was even a second floor with seating.  The entire place was decorated with old, vintage stuff (pretty random) and there as a room with high back chairs and bookcase walls filled with vintage books.  Needless to say, I was in heaven.  So, just to warn you there will be a lot of Sunday pictures so you can see a peak into this great place.  Okay, back to our Sunday adventure.  Because it didn't stop after brunch.  I had decided to return something to UO that morning and saw one on our drive that morning.  We stopped in and were going to check out a couple more places, but ended up spending over an hour at the store.  Why?  The entire store was filled with sale items.  It was an UO outlet!  I was in heaven.  I am such a lover of deals and we got so much stuff for the same price of the item I was returning.  I was pretty geeked when we left, to say the least.  Since we had spent to much time there, we headed home through lots and lots of rain.  We were hoping to have some sun, but it was not in the cards for us this weekend.

Tank: H & M
Top: Urban Outfitteres
Shorts: H & M
Tights: Target
Boots: Aldo

Although we may not have been able to do and go everywhere we wanted, it was a laid back trip and very much needed.  It was so nice to spend good, uninterrupted quality time with my mister.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Packing for an Overnight Trip

Oh my word, packing for an overnight trip is crazy.  I've done it before, but not in quite a while, so I must have become unaccustomed.  And I'm not talking about packing for kids.  We all know that kids require an exorbitant amount of stuff.  No, I'm talking about myself.  I consider myself a decently light packer, in comparison to other girls.  But while I was packing for this little getaway, I couldn't help the awe that was everything I brought.

I think what makes it so difficult is that you only use everything once.  I bring my entire bathroom for one night, to use everything once.  It just seemed a little excessive.  But a girl can't go on an anniversary trip without her curling iron, or her makeup, which requires makeup remover, plus she needs to shower, which requires shampoo, conditioner, body wash a razor and on and on and on.

See what I mean?

This is my bag.  For clothes, I had an outfit for today, pajamas, a cardigan and leggings in case it got cool and unmentionables.  The rest.   Cosmetics that probably could have been left behind but I didn't want to.  It's crazy to think that besides more clothes, this is the same amount of stuff I would bring for an entire weekend.  But, a girl has to look pretty on her anniversary getaway, and if this is what it takes, then so be it.  I guess I'd just rather look pretty than pack light.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Discovering New Talents

I am loving where the boys are at, age-wise.  They just get SUPER excited anytime they discover something new they can do.  And then they like to do it over, and over, and over...well, you get the idea.  Most times this is very entertaining, and other times, it's less.  Like when Atticus realized he can touch and change our stereo.  Fun for him, not for me.  But now I find the kid scooting over there constantly.  Hopefully he'll find something new soon.

Last week, though, was a real treat.  I gave the boys spoons to chew on, trying anything and everything to help with their teeth.  Anyway, they soon discovered that they can hold the spoon in their mouth without using their hands.  This "new talent" was very entertaining.  See.

We had such a blast watching them.  I think they would have stopped earlier if we didn't think it was so funny.  But eventually they got over it and decided to go back to just gnawing on the spoons.

I need to start keeping pictures like these around the house.  Seeing the just makes me smile, and I need that sometimes on more challenging days.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Weekend Getaway

Our 5-year anniversary is next week, but Eric and I weren't going to do anything, except maybe dinner or something small.  But this week, Eric expressed to me that he was feeling pretty exhausted lately and would really like to get away this weekend.  His mom offered to watch the boys all weekend, but we originally only accepted for one night.  After talking with his mom, we now will be childless for two whole nights.  This is a pretty big deal, since we haven't been childless for more than a night since before the boys came home.  I can't lie, I'm just a little nervous.

Oh, you want to know where we're going?  Chicago :)

We love this city.  It's not too far (about three hours), but far enough to really disconnect from the day-to-day stuff.  We will only be spending Saturday night there, but it will be a wonderful night indeed.  We don't have anything planned, so we can make decisions based on how we're feeling.  We may shop a while, or have lunch in Millennium Park, see a movie or just spend the whole time in our PJs.  Who knows.  I am a major planner, so I'm going to try and just "go with the floor" (whatever that means, I don't really know), because I know Eric especially needs a relaxing weekend.  And that's the nice thing about going to Chicago.  We've been there enough that it's pretty familiar, and there's no pressure to "see the sights."

So tonight we will be dropping off the kiddos, and then heading to dinner and a movie with friends.  And then tomorrow we will head to Chi-town.  Not sure what time we'll be leaving, but I'll make sure our drive involves Starbucks, oh course.  It can't be considered a road trip without at least one stop.

And here's a photo from the last time we were there.  It's actually been a while.

Any fun weekend plans for you?  It seems like Memorial weekend is either super relaxing or full of projects.  I don't think I've ever heard of someone doing both.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New Food: Dessert Edition

***I scheduled this recipe to post a couple of weeks ago, and I just realized that it never did.  Since it's intended post date, I have made these muffins twice and both times they have turned out delicious***

I was done.  Done eating rice cakes and peanut butter as Eric enjoyed a warm bran muffin.  It was hard because I, at one point in time, was able to enjoy it too.  But no more.  Well, not until June and then we'll know if it's no more.

Anyway, despite my lack of baking skills, I decided I was going to attempt gluten free, dairy free, egg free, and sugar free muffins.  Yeah, sound good right?!

Well, I found a recipe I could work with and after some modifications, removed said muffins from oven.  Sadly, they turned out pretty doughy inside.  But I am going to attempt them again next week.  I know where I messed up, and will correct my mistake before the next batch.

If you want to check out the original recipe, you can click HERE.

3 cups of pumpkin puree
1/3 cup of olive oil
6 tbsp of ground flax seed & 9 tbsp water (enough egg replacement for 3 eggs)
1 cup agave nectar (replaced honey)
1/2 cup Truvia (replaced sugar)
4 cups of gluten free flour mix
3 tsp of baking powder
3 tsp of xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin tins.

This is what the egg replacement looks like.

Whisk together the pumpkin, oil, egg replacement and Truvia.

In a separate bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients (agave, flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice).

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones, just until combined.

Fill muffin tin cups 3/4 full and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Let cool for about 5 minutes in pan, hen turn out onto cookie racks and cool completely before cutting and/or eating.

Now, I will tell you where I made my mistake, lest you do the same.  I couldn't find any gluten free baking mix at my local grocery store (more like I didn't see it) and so I purchased white rice flour.  Apparently, white rice flour doesn't absorb very well and therefore, my muffins were super gooey.  But like I said, I got the correct flour and will be remaking them next week, with chocolate chips.  Yum.

So, my first attempt at gluten/dairy/egg/sugar free baking was mildly successful, but pretty good considering it was my first try.  Do you bake a lot?  I would love more recipes.  I think it's something I should master as the "home maker."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gym Lovin'

I just got back from the gym, and man oh man, do I love that place.  Most mornings it takes a lot of motivation to get the boys up , fed, dressed and out the door in time, but once I'm there, I usually don't want to leave.  Before the boys came home, I was working out an average of 5 days a week.  And as soon as those boys came off the plane, poof...nothing.  My mother-in-law would come over every week or two while the boys napped so I could hit the gym for an hour or so, but it's just not the same as a regular routine.

This sporadic gym attendance lasted a whopping four months, which is a long time if you're used to going multiple times a week.  It was our decision to get the boys completely adjusted to life with us before handing them to a stranger at the gym childcare.  Even now, I am happy with our decision, but it didn't make it any easier on the days I really wanted to work out.

And I know, I could have worked out at home.  But to be honest, I'm just not that motivated.  I can't prioritize doing crunches on my floor over laundry or dishes or sweeping.  I'm a gym girl (I guess I'm spoiled).  I need to get away from my house, where my only option is working out.  I think it helps me work out longer and harder.  Plus, seeing all those people there sweating their butts off, only motivates me more.

As a new mom, I have found that the time I spend at the gym is precious.  It's me time.  It's time I spend so I can feel good about myself.  If I don't work out for a while, I get just blah.  And I think the time I spend with my boys suffers.  I'm less energetic; less motivated to get on the floor with them.  For me, working out makes me a happier person overall.  Ask my husband.  According to him, I come back all smiles.

Yes, yes I would classify myself as addicted, but not in a bad way.  I am not addicted to being a certain weight, or lifting a certain amount, or going a certain number of times a week (although, I like the way I look/feel more when I'm working out).  I'm addicted to the energy it gives me, and the boost it gives my day.

I know every woman is different.  Every woman has something she likes to do for herself.  This is just my thing.  And I didn't always used to feel this way.  Actually, I had never stepped foot in a gym before I started dating Eric.  But now, I spend more time there than he does.   My goal is to get back to where I was before the boys came home.  Right now I'm going about 3 times a week.  But we'll see.  I'm not going to worry about it.  I'm thankful that I get to go 3 days a week.  And now with summer here, I'm hoping for lots and lots of walks with the boys.

Do you have something you like to do for yourself?  Work out, scrapbook, sew?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Baxter's Birthday Recap

So, Sunday was Baxter's first birthday and we had a little party with our families to celebrate.  It was a beautiful day, so we grilled and ate outdoors.  Almost as soon as we arrived, Baxter was off.  He decided that he wanted to go and explore my parents garden.

Since Baxter was all alone for a while, Bella decided she would step in and be his protector.  How sweet, huh?  She's loves him a lot, even though sometimes it doesn't seem like it.

Then Baxter's uncle came out to play.  My brother is pretty big, but he seems so much bigger sitting next to Baxter.  And Baxter ends up seeming so tiny.

He played with a ball that was in the yard for a while, and then decided that it was time to eat, so he went back to the patio.

Like I said, we grilled out and it was delicious.  Everyone contributed to the feast, so there was a lot off food to go around.  And a lot of food left over.

Once we were finished eating, it was cake time!  My mother-in-law brought some party hats so they were passed around and a few people wore them.  Atticus didn't seem to like the party hat too much.

Honestly, I was pretty anxious to see him eat his cake.  Mostly just to see what his reaction would be.  He stuffed it in at first, but actually ended up spitting a lot of it out.  It made me smile a little inside to see that :)  I was nervous that the kid would be instantly addicted to sweets, but thankfully, he seems to prefer bananas.

Atticus ended up getting pretty jealous of Baxter getting to eat cake.  This is how we found him afterward.

Apparently to him, a swing railing looks about as delicious as a piece of cake.

Once Baxter was cleaned up, he opened a few presents and then was pretty much asleep by the time he hit the crib mattress.  It was a pretty exciting, and somewhat overwhelming day being showered with sugar and gifts.  Eric and I both agree that birthdays are only going to become more fun as the boys get older.  It's our hope that although we may not spend a small fortune throwing a party, we can make our kids feel special and do things to make them feel that way.  Because you know what?  We just love our kiddos to pieces.  And we're going want to celebrate their part in our family each and every year.