Pop Culture Drama, Recent Eats & BLW meals!

Good morning, everyone!! I hope y’all are well out there. I am UNWELL given all the Vanderpump Rules drama. I meannnn (!!!!!). IYKYK. I’ve put more productive things, like reading my book club book, on hold while I drink from the fire hose that is this drama.

Anyway! For those that don’t melt their brain with trash TV, I am going to treat ya to a maybe somewhat boring, but somewhat more wholesome, recap of our last few weeks, ha!

The last few weeks have been a bit tough for us. Poor Quinnie had a double ear infection, eye infection & stomach bug. All her dairy intolerance symptoms came back too, so we are once again halting the dairy trial. DJ and I also got the stomach bug, so that’s twice in a few months- no bueno!!! We did have a somewhat healthy stretch though until all this thankfully. Also Quinn’s in Leap 7, and it’s kicking our butt. And to top it all off, while driving home from work, a tire flew off a truck in front of me, hit my bumper and now it’s only hanging on by some tape. Back to the collision center we go :/. Feeling very thankful I was totally fine and Quinn wasn’t with me when it happened.

Enough of the woes though!!! We did have some fun and wonderful moments despite functioning sub-optimally and the stretch of poor luck.

February 18th we started the day with a trip to Walmart to grab a few miscellaneous items and to get Quinn out of the house. She has been loving the grocery trips!

We returned home, and I started immediately into some food prep! Miss Independent has pretty much free rein of our kitchen and living room area. It’s nice we have a pretty open layout to keep an eye on her and already had baby gates installed for the Moose.

Back to food prep- I have been really enjoying leaning into baby led weaning! I do have days where it feels overwhelming, especially when time and groceries are running low; however, I’m learning all the time how to make nutritious and convenient meals for Quinn. I have some of these combinations to share today, and it helps me to look back at what I’ve done recently for quick ideas too.

One of my favorite go-tos for her is eggs mixed with various ingredients (eggs have been a great way to introduce new foods and incorporate greens), avocado and toast. She always eats the toast, where the eggs and avocado is a toss up.

I also made these cauliflower nuggets with sweet potato. I used these to introduce onion and parsley. I didn’t quite dry out the cauliflower enough because they were tough to crisp up, but Quinn still gobbled them up.

The next day, February 19th, we wanted to go to the land to let Moose run around. Quinn cried from the moment we got in the car, so we decided halfway there to scrap the drive and just walk the towpath instead.

It actually ended up being an unexpectedly special walk. We walked past where DJ asked me to be his girlfriend on this bridge in January of 2010 ❤️. It felt extra nostalgic and sentimental returning there with Quinn & Moose.

It was a great temperate walk for February and reminded us how much we enjoy that trail.

After our walk, we stopped by Corelife. Usually I’m all about getting a salad there, but I was craving a wrap instead. I loaded up lots of veggies and tofu. Now that I’m able to have soy again, I’ve been craving tofu more often!!

That afternoon I made Quinn a “basil Alfredo” spaghetti squash with a coconut yogurt/avocado/spinach/basil/Italian seasoning/nutritional yeast blended into a sauce. She ate every bite.

We decided to venture over to Krieger’s to pick up some items for a meal I wanted to make from my Half Baked Harvest cookbook. I’ve discovered I am way more diligent about making recipes if I choose one from a cookbook vs saving them electronically. I’m still a decade behind with my hard cover cookbooks and paper planner, hah!

February 20th, we started the day playing with Moose!

The recipe I made that weekend was a real winner (so far all the recipes have been from HBH!). This was chicken saltimbocca with prosciutto, arugula and capers. Here’s a similar recipe from her site!

February 22nd, I made Quinn egg/oat/banana pancakes with a boiled blueberry compote. I think pancakes are her favorite food right now! I use them to introduce finely crushed nuts too.

She is still obsessed with her walker. She also is recently obsessed with the hanging hand towel in the kitchen. She rips it off the oven handle and runs around with it like she’s a flagger at the Grand Prix.

That afternoon, I made Quinn a lunch of toast with mashed edamame spread, tomato wedges and artichoke hearts. I try to balance her meals over the day with fruits/veggies/proteins/grains, but it’s always a mystery what she will actually eat.

For dinner, I made DJ and myself lamb salads with vegan feta and a fattoush dressing. We agreed this simple meal was one of our favorites of late!

One very exciting new skill Quinn has been working on the last few weeks is waving!! She really does it the best when I wave to her in the car mirror. I was able to capture it while we were at a stoplight that week (one of the rare times she’s not wailing in the car!).

February 25th, I was craving Thai food, so I made these green curry bowls from HBH with shrimp added.

They were yummy! Not our favorite recipe so far, but it gave me my Thai fix! I served with the Bfree Naan bread- I don’t recommend, they’re pretty flaky and have an odd flavor. I do like the Bfree pita though!

February 26th was prep for the week. I made the Jennifer Aniston salad again for book club the next day!

That afternoon DJ and I took Quinn and Moose to Bath Nature Preserve for some fresh scenery on our family weekend walk.

A fun little detail on this trail- there is a Solar System Walk that has a marking of all the planets in our solar system spaced on the trail scaled to how far apart they are in reality.

February 27th, I made Quinn a Banza penne with beef bolognese and zucchini. She loves this! A new favorite meal for sure. I try to make a nice sized batch of these meals, so I can easily send her food to daycare too.

That evening I had book club. Gigi stopped by to watch Quinn before DJ got home so I could make it on time. So so sweet of her! It was a great book club- we read The Love of My Life. It’s a good read! I’d give it maybe 3.5/5 stars – it’s a fast one with some decent twists.

February 28th, I dropped Quinn off at daycare for a couple hours so I could take Moose on a run. It worked out beautifully as it was during her wake window.

It felt soo good to get that run in! And it was nice to have one-on-one time with Moose ❤️.

Here is a pic from Marie while I was at work that week with Moose’s new friend, Wilson. 😊

Quinn was definitely under the weather that week. I tried to take her to the park and do bucket swings, but she was not having it. She did enjoy sitting in my lap though and swinging.

I took her after to the pet store to see fish, birds and her personal favorite, gerbils.

She was refusing food mostly that week and wanted to nurse nonstop. I think if I had to guess it was a combo of not feeling well/teething & Leap 7.

The tides started slowly turning on March 5th. We all seemed to be feeling a bit better. Quinn ate up some of her favorite pancakes & gave us some big characteristically Quinnie smiles. I was so relieved she was eating again!

That afternoon, we took Quinn to the park! We did the swings again and the slide. She was way more happy about it this time!

I still wasn’t feeling 100%, so I ordered sushi, my go-to comfort food when not feeling well. I realize this is a very odd choice of a comfort food, but I crave it when I’m feeling off. I think it’s the sodium I crave. (This is from Ichiban sushi, my favorite around here!).

Once Quinn started feeling better, I jumped back into making her meals. She really enjoyed this combo of pinto beans, broccoli, tofu and kiwi.

Not much else is going on around here! In my spare time I’ve been planning Quinn’s first birthday party, reading The Measure for the next book club, watching Married at First Sight and trying to keep us all healthy!

Questions for you:

– Are you following the VPR drama? Must discuss!

– What is your go-to comfort food?



Eliminating dairy/soy after my baby’s cow’s milk/soy protein intolerance diagnosis

Hey friends! I have a little bit of a different post today. I’m going to share all the tips/tricks/products I can think of that helped me survive the elimination of soy/dairy from my diet due to breastfeeding with Quinn’s cow’s milk protein/milk soy protein intolerance (CMPI/MSPI). I didn’t see much in the way of resources out there, so I hope this little post can be an extra knowledge nugget for those looking for it. When Quinn was diagnosed with cow’s milk protein intolerance 9 months ago, I had quite the journey ahead with navigating how to eliminate both allergens from my diet. I have been vegan in the past, which may have helped a little with the dairy elimination, but soy was another bear! When I say soy is in everything ….(!). Of note, I entirely eliminated soy from my diet (some opt to keep soy lecithin/refined soybean oil in the diet, but it depends on the baby- talk to your provider about that!).

I hope this helps any other moms that are out there feeling overwhelmed because the learning curve can be tremendous. But it is possible to continue breastfeeding! (However, if you ultimately decided to go the formula route- there is absolutely no shame in it!). I also want to have this post written in case we have to navigate this again in the future with another baby, because, wheeew, I’d hate to forget all this!

I don’t want to get too graphic/medical- that’s not the intention of this post. But I will say it took a solid three weeks for Quinn’s symptoms to show marked improvement. Around week two I thought why am I doing this if it’s not working?, but the pediatric gastroenterologist encouraged me to give it time, and she was right! When I started seeing the improvement in Quinn’s symptoms, it was the motivation I needed to keep going. If you do want more details about what lead to the diagnosis, we can definitely chat in the comments or feel free to send a message.

A couple quick disclaimers: I’m not writing this as a medical professional/to give any medical advice, I’m simply writing friend to friend! Please check with your provider regarding these products and soy/dairy elimination if you have any questions. Additionally, this post is not comprehensive. There are a lot of really great products/resources out there, and I’m discovering new ones all the time! If I missed something you love, please let me know so I can include it ☺️. Further, this post is not sponsored in any way. I just genuinely want to share products that have worked for me (and some that haven’t). Lastly, products can change, so while I hope this entirely accurate, please double check labels :).

Any who!! Let’s get into it, shall we?!

First things first- I learned it’s important to read every label. Many restaurants have allergen sheets online where you can quickly tell if there is dairy or soy in an item. Below is the chart I used to familiarize myself with what to look for specifically on labels. Here is the link for the graph below reproduced from McMaster Children’s Hospital.

It can seem overwhelming looking for all these ingredients, but it is helpful that most labels write “contains: *insert allergen*” under the ingredient list. I still read the whole label though because I have seen soy in the ingredient list when it’s not listed as an allergen.

Some sneaky culprits of these allergens that surprised me were lunch meats/certain processed meats (casein), dressings/marinades, breads and candies/chocolate. When going out to eat, most places can check if something contains soy/dairy. Just specify you cannot have butter too, because I discovered many people don’t automatically think of butter as dairy. Also you can request your meal is cooked with olive oil- that way you can be more confident butter or vegetable oil (which usually contains soy) won’t be used. Also, just because something is vegan does not mean it’s soy free!

Now let’s talk the good stuff- what’s not off limits!! I tried to stock our fridge with whole foods to serve as the base of my diet. Think- vegetables, fruit, meats, seafood, eggs and grains (oats/rice/quinoa/farro). The trick here is to be cautious buying “quick” variations of these items. For example, many of the instant rice packages have soy added. When cooking with just these basics listed, you add so much flavor to your meal with lemon, lime, herbs and other spices. (Also double check spice/seasoning labels because dairy/soy can hide in there too!).

In addition to my “base”, below are the products I’ve explored/used. The biggest bummer- some of these specialty items can be pricy, but it’s good to know these are available if you want a suitable alternative. I substitute with these products in recipes too, and usually the meal turns out well!

Milk: There are so many options out there for this! I usually opt for Silk’s unsweetened cashew or almond for less creamy milk or Planet Oat Oatmilk if I want creamier. You have many options depending what you prefer- coconut, oat, flax, pea protein for example. There are extra creamy/sweetened/flavored/chocolate options too! I totally avoided anything hemp based though. If ordering a latte or milk based drink at a coffee shop, I suggest ordering oat milk as it will usually be creamier and frothier than almond or cashew. Here’s a fun roundup of some of the best.

Coffee Creamers: My favorite are the nut pods. They aren’t necessarily as creamy as real creamer, but I’ve enjoyed trying the different creative flavors. Califia has a line of coffee creamers that sound delicious, I just haven’t got around to trying them yet!

Yogurt: My favorites are either the unsweetened So Delicious coconut, True Goodness plain coconut (creamier than the So Delicious) or oat based yogurt. Another option for almond based is Kite Hill unsweetened Almond, although the flavor is a little ~different~. If you venture into the sweetened route, there is a lot out there! I just have found the sweetened yogurts tend to have a lot of added sugar, so I’d rather sweeten mine more subtly/naturally with honey/fruit. I personally don’t enjoy the Nancy or Forager yogurt as much, but they have oat and cashew based ones, respectively. I have never tried Culina, but that’s another soy/dairy free coconut based alternative. Also! Plain unsweetened yogurts can double as sour cream. I always top tacos with it and a little a lot of hot sauce 😋.

Butter: I LOVE the Earth Balance soy free butter! I haven’t tried anything else, but I’m sure there is more out there.

Breads: My favorites- Dave’s Killer Breads, Atoria’s Lavash Wraps . Other brands to look for: Udi’s, Bfree. For tortillas- Siete Chickpea or Cassava tortillas are my faves! I heat them up in a frying pan with a little soy/dairy free butter until golden and make tacos with them.

Lunch Meats: Here is a helpful link that shares common lunch meats that are dairy/soy free. My go-to used to be Applegate’s Turkey Breast, but recently it’s become kind of dry and flaky! Now I use Hormel’s Natural Turkey breast. I also tried to avoid nitrites/nitrates/preservatives in general.

Cheese: My two favorite dairy and soy free cheese brands are Violife and Follow Your Heart. I love the Violife Colby Jack shreds (they melt great) and Follow Your Heart smoked gouda slices particularly! Violife has a great parmesan cheese block too. Daiya is another solid option, I just prefer the other two more. Although I do love Daiya’s jalapeño havarti cheese block!

Pizza: This category is trickier to find good alternatives I’d say. Daiya has some options- I don’t love all of them, but their meatless meat lovers is probably my favorite. I think the best is the Vegan Harvest Flatbread. Amy’s vegan margherita is also tasty! (Amy’s also has some good soy/dairy free burrito options (and general other prepackaged options too!).

Mac n’ Cheese: I usually make my own with a pasta like Jovial or Banza & the cheeses listed here, but some prepackaged options are Annie’s and Amy’s!

Protein bars: Some dairy/soy free protein bars have sugar alcohols, so be cautious if you’re avoiding those. My go-to soy/dairy/sugar alcohol free were Good! Snacks Bars, Go Macro, and Rx Bars. If you’re ok with sugar alcohols, No Cow, Orgain and Lenny and Larry have options. Other general options: Aloha & Larabar. Some of these have good protein powder options too. In order to add a boost of protein to my day, I make a “Greek yogurt” with a dairy/soy free yogurt, 2 scoops of collagen powder, peanut butter or chocolate pb2 (makes it more of a chocolate mousse), berries & honey! That collagen powder is a great protein boost you can mix into coffee, soups, yogurt, etc.

Peanut Butter: There are many options here, just watch for the soybean oil! My favorite is MaraNatha Creamy or Crunchy peanut spread. Smucker’s Natural, Justin’s, or Once Again Nut Butter are other solid options.

Ice Cream: There are some good options out there you will see listed as “frozen dessert”. Most use a coconut, almond or cashew base. So Delicious has delicious options (double check for soy though). My favorites are the cookie dough, salted caramel cluster, oatmilk S’Mores, vanilla bean sandwiches, mocha almond fudge bars & dipped double chocolate delight bars. Clearly I’ve made the rounds in the ice cream department! I have a harder time finding Oatly products, but I think the coffee flavor frozen dessert is so delicious and creamy!!! They have some great other flavors too. Some other brands that have specific dairy/soy free products: NadaMoo!, Halo Top (contains sugar alcohols), Cado Avocado, Favorite Day, Jeni’s (Texas Sheet Cake is a winner!), & Talenti sorbettos.

Chocolate/Sweets: Hu chocolate is my favorite (the salty dark chocolate is my weakness), but it can be pricy. Another great option is any of the Enjoy Life products (I really enjoy the brownie bites and chocolate chip cookies. They have good baking product alternatives too!). Also, you can keep out an eye for plant based alter ego chocolate bars. Another way I satisfy my chocolate sweet tooth is with these Veggies Made Great Chocolate Muffins. I put a little ice cream on top of a warm one of these for a dessert, and oh my goodness- heaven! It reminds me of a molten lava cake. For a quick overall healthier brownie alternative, I enjoy Nature’s Bakery Double Chocolate Brownie Bars. Oh and I cannot forget the PNW Cookies!!! Of what I’ve tried, I most love their Chocolate Chip cookie & Molasses cookie. Yum!

Cereal: I usually get the Vanilla & Almond Special K, but there are many cereal options available! Here’s a list of soy free options, many of which are dairy free too (but, as always, please verify).

Snacks: I have to have my salty snacks. My favorites include Hippeas Snacks (white cheddar particularly) Harvest Snaps Green Pea Snacks (original lightly salted), Popcorners, Hu Grain Free Crackers, Angie’s BOOM CHICKA POP popcorn (kettle corn is my go-to) & Simple Mills Sea Salt Crackers. Oh and Siete also has a slew of great chip options! There’s actually a whole lot out there in the way of snacks, just have to read the labels!

Dressings/Oils/Marinades: I keep it overall pretty simple. I tend to use balsamic, olive oil, mustard and Fattoush Salad dressing for my day-to-day. Noble Made has some fun options- some I still haven’t tried but want to! Most of their products are vegan (except the garlic parmesan wing sauce), but I can’t confirm all products are soy free, so please double check! Saucy lips has excellent choices too- and I believe they are entirely soy and dairy free! Primal Kitchen is another brand for dairy/soy free options. I tried the garlic Alfredo sauce, and it was fine; it did grow on me. However, they have other great options to explore!

Entirely dairy and soy free brands: These brands you can trust are good to go! Many of them have a wide array of products, so have fun exploring them!! Enjoy Life, Violife Foods, Daiya, & Hu Kitchen.

Further resources: I came across this master list as well! This list is nice because it highlights dairy free only foods as well if you are ok with soy. I don’t use an app, but it may be a convenient way to look up food choices! Here is a list of some to consider.

I actually have felt so good eating dairy/soy free. I think the biggest difference I’ve noticed is I feel overall less inflamed and oddly energized. It’ll be interesting to see if there is a difference when I add these back into my diet.

I sincerely hope this was helpful for someone out there! Please let me know if I’m mistaken on any of this information or you have products I can add :). You’ve got this!!



Valentine’s Recap!

Hey hey! It’s a chilly, yet beautiful, Saturday morning here on this long weekend. It’s not even noon, but I’ve managed to have breakfast, complete a continuing education credit, go grocery shopping (so fun with Quinn in the cart!) & do the dishes! This is unusually productive as Saturdays are usually a more lazy day. I feel very well rested after yesterday (I’ll recap yesterday later in this post!). Hope your long weekend is off to a great start! (Although, may be later in the week when I finally publish this!).

Rewinding back to last Saturday, February 11th, I met up with Rachel for her birthday brunch! We met around 1 pm, which was perfect timing as Quinn was well rested after a long nap and feed. DJ kept things under control at home while I whipped up Route 8 to celebrate my dear friend!!

Rach always keeps her eyes out for fun new spots for us to try! She’s my go-to person for foodie ideas all over the Cleveland/Akron area and beyond! For this meal, we met at Pub Frato in Chagrin Falls.

This place had an industrial vibe with warm, cozy lighting. reminding me a lot of Burntwood actually.

After enjoying the Bloody Mary at Burntwood a couple weekends ago, I decided to try Pub Frato’s “garden bloody”. I’m pretty sure they brought the wrong one out because it had a big ol’ piece of bacon in it with minimal veggies. I wasn’t upset though, it was delicious bacon!! A happy mistake for sure.

Rach tried the mimosa flight! Pic of the gorg birthday girl!!

I had the salmon over arugula/beets/blue cheese & pomegranate! I’m starting the dairy introduction very slowly. So far, so good! This meal was scrumptious as could be.

When I returned home, the deliciousness didn’t end! Gigi and Gordie spoiled me for Valentine’s Day by sending these dairy/soy free cookies from Pacific Northwest. How stinking thoughtful are they?! These are very tasty, especially for being dairy/gluten/soy free. You would never guess!!! I keep them in the freezer and have been taking a couple bites a day. My favorite flavors of what I’ve tried so far are the chocolate chip and molasses 😋.

It didn’t stop there either- they generously gifted us Baked by Melissa vegan cupcakes. Again, you’d never know they’re vegan. Amazing!

I took Quinn’s ninth month photos that day (again a bit delayed, at least I’m consistent 😄).

While playing in the nursery, Quinn decided to try standing with minimal support- I could hardly believe it!

That afternoon we went to Kendall Hills with Quinn and Moose to let Moose frolic around. These hills were a little easier when I didn’t have a 18 lb. + babe strapped to me, but I got a good workout hah!

After Kendall, I was craving Raising Cane’s something fierce!!! I think we’ve had it before after Kendall Hills because I couldn’t get it out of my mind the whole time we were there. Isn’t the brain funny that way.

I looked up allergens on their site and at this point I was having a little soy daily and very little dairy. Since I already had a little cheese that morning, I wanted to make sure not to overdo it with any more dairy. I saw they had something called naked chicken tenders that were dairy free & the sauce actually was dairy free too according to the allergen list! I was doubtful these naked tenders actually existed considering we’ve never seen them on the menu…… but we zoomed into Cane’s parking lot, DJ went inside to order and returned with the naked tenders! I was stoked! And they were goooood!!

Not pictured: me downing these fries and tenders in the car while Quinn fusses in her car seat, because, yes, she still hates the car! We even have tried switching to a convertible car seat, and that hasn’t even seemed to help 😵‍💫.

Quinn was ready to go on Monday morning, February 13th. I had a later shift start that day, so I was able to drop her off at daycare. When I dropped her off she cried and put up a little fight which absolutely broke my heart. Ugh.

Thankfully I was off February 14th, Valentine’s Day, and could spend every second with my little Valentine!

For breakfast I made her these banana egg pancakes with a raspberry compote (simply boiled raspberries, smashed).

She LOVED them. She actually giggled as she ate them, and I refilled her little plate three times.

Had to show off her outfit without covering it with a silly bib, of course 🤪.

After breakfast, we crawled around the living room, and this girl found particular fascination with my shades. Why does she look like she’s about to say “yeah, ok mom, bring me my bottle please” as she pushes the shades up? 😆.

We then went on our FIRST jog together! 3 miles!! This is so very exciting for me. Usually I can only workout when DJ is home to watch her since we’re still doing mostly contact naps, so this was AWESOME!

Back to playing. This time she thought it would be fun to venture into Moose’s crate 😅.

After her afternoon nap, we went to CVS to get a few things. I also picked up the Lily’s Sour Gummy Worms at checkout, which I really enjoyed!!

Quinn put together a little Valentine Surprise for DJ, complete with one of his favorite sweets- Daisy Pops Cake Pops (the owner was actually a high school teacher of mine), a heart shaped pizza from Marco’s and some toys for Moose. (I added some books in for Quinn too). 🥰.

🥰🥰🥰. DJ was pretty smitten by his Valentine!

And he surprised me with this spectacular sunset inspired bouquet 🥰.

Quinn was also very spoiled by all her grandparents this First Valentine’s Day!

DJ and I don’t always make a big to-do of Valentine’s Day, but this year was so much fun celebrating with our mini Valentine.

February 15th, Gigi came by to spend the afternoon with us! We were both craving Subway, so it was an easy decision for lunch. I don’t know if y’all remember, but I lived on Subway veggie delights when I was pregnant. I even considered making Quinn a subway sub for Halloween 😆. Since Subway has soy in the bread, it was a no-go when I had to give that up. But now that I could finally have soy again, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this sub!!! I added my own vegan cheese…. Still just being cautious with the dairy.

This tasted so good!

Thursday, February 16th, was a tough day. It was my Dad’s birthday, which is always just difficult in its own right, missing him. But then everything seemed to go wrong. To start, I spilled my breast milk when making bottles & spilled my coffee on the carpet. Thennnn, get this- I left the car seat in my car on accident so DJ had no way to get Quinn to daycare since he leaves after me. He called me right as my shift was starting, and I had no clue what to do. Thankfully, he called Gigi who graciously drove right over with a spare car seat she had for our nephew. She saved the day! What would be do without her? I really do not know. I thought the chaos was over, but then I had one of the hardest days at work since I’ve started. By the end of the day my nerves were just shot. But when I picked up this girl and had her napping soundly in my carrier, I felt like I could take a deep breath. ❤️

She’s wearing her sweet Corgi shirt from her Aunt Amy!

Thankfully this rollercoaster of a week ended on a wonderful note 🥰. We were planning on going away for President’s Day weekend as a fam, but that fell through. DJ had already opted to use a vacation day for that Friday, so we decided to use it as a full “date day”.

We dropped Quinn off at daycare around 9 after her first nap of the day. We also dropped Moose off at Camp Bow Wow since it was a little chilly for a walk; this way he could get his energy out, and we would just pick him up after lunch.

Returning home, we had breakfast, blasted country music, caught up on some easy house chores, talked & laughed just the two of us. We watched Yellowstone then got ready to go to lunch!

I wanted to eat somewhere kinda romantic, but that’s hard to find on a random afternoon, hah! We ended up going to Beau’s on the River in Cuyahoga Falls. Funnily enough, this was located in the Sheraton where my baby shower was held. I missed Quinn immensely all day, but it was really important and wonderful for DJ and I to have that time together.

The main dining room wasn’t opened, so we were seated in the lounge. The lounge had a calm, relaxing vibe as it overlooked the water.

We were seated with the best view in the house!

As I gazed out at the snow flurries over the water, I said to DJ, “this is just magical”. He couldn’t help but laugh at how I said this while overlooking a muddy river situated on a hotel embankment overcast by the grayest of clouds. Then we were both laughing because, well, he made a fair point. But look, if you take a mom anywhere that serves a good meal she can eat without rushing, she’s probably going to call it magical! 😄 ✨

Given the frigid day outside, I ordered a cozy glass of red wine. DJ ordered their seasonal beer, and I loved how they served it in a Cavs mug. I had a sip & it was delicious!!!

For an appetizer, we tried the white cheddar shrimp & grits. DJ had never had grits before and was a big fan!! I have always loved them, and these were really tasty. I only had a couple bites, since I’m sure there was quite a bit of dairy.

I also had their beet salad with feta, prosciutto chips (yum!!) over a massive bed of arugula. My kind of salad!

DJ had their veggie stir fry with steak added over sticky rice.

I savored their salmon ALT (aioli, lettuce and tomato) with the aioli on the side. It hit the spot as did the fries!

Post lunch car selfie 🙃. I think I’ve used every emoji in the book at this point of the post. My millennial is showing 🤪.

We then picked up our Moose!

He was one sleepy boy after Bow Wow. We gave him a lot of one-on-one attention which he hasn’t had simultaneously from both of us since Quinn was born. He ate it up! We fell asleep watching Yellowstone then picked up Quinn from daycare, looking forward to a full long weekend all together. ❤️

It was a really special day!

Thanks for reading & sharing in these fun memories in our little cut of the world.

Question for you:

– How was your long weekend if ya had one?

– How was your regular weekend if you didn’t?



Family Brunchin’ & A Mini “Vacation”!

Good morning, everyone! I hope you all are having a nice week. I have a little time before my shift starts to chip away at this post.

January 28th we started the weekend with some cuddles with Moose ❤️.

That morning I switched out my usual bowl of oatmeal for a little egg burrito. Something about the weekends make me crave egg for breakfast.

That afternoon we went to my nephew, Jack’s, final basketball game of the season. They won and all received trophies at the end. It was so sweet! Here’s a a pic after a change and feed.

That evening I was able to soak up cuddles with Moose while Quinn climbed all over the baby-proofed living room. She is so much more steady now pulling herself up and cruising than she was even a couple weeks ago. I don’t feel like I have to hover right next to her every time she pulls herself up on something in fear of a fall forward or back.

While Quinn explored the daring living room landscape, DJ and I pulled up home designs on the TV as we dreamed about features we would love to have in a future home if/when we build on the land (we’re talking a long time from now). It’s fun to dream and look at different styles though! I know a lot can change between now and then. Right now I’m really into the “barndominum” look. Said every Midwest girl ever hahah.

January 29th we met with my Dad’s side of the family for a big family brunch at my cousin’s! It was really nice having my sister, Andi, in town from Colorado. We missed Kevin and Halston (who just bought a house in Charlotte, NC!) .

I love this little bib Quinn got from her Aunt Laura and Uncle Ricky!

Andi came by in the afternoon- it was great to catch up!

January 30th I started the day with some avocado toast on leftover dairy/soy free sourdough. Very yummy!

That day was so much fun. I love my full days with Quinn at home. We started out with some morning giggles in her new nugget fort. This nugget was a recommendation from a recent friend, and it’s been so much fun!!

That afternoon, I made a wrap with bacon, smoked Gouda cheese (dairy free), power greens, red onion and mustard on a mustard wrap. I’m actually not usually a big bacon fan even after eating meat again, but it’s weirdly sounded kinda good lately.

That afternoon we went to Target for some fill-in groceries, and I whipped out my cart cover for the first time. She had a ball strolling the aisles. This may be our new past time. Wow, writing this post I realize I am quickly turning into one giant cliché, if I wasn’t one already 😂. But if loving going to Target for fun is wrong, I certainly do not want to be right!

I picked up this vegan jerky just out of curiosity- but it wasn’t all that great. It was fine. Give me the real stuff 😜. Sometimes I find myself talking like this and I’m like, “who am I?!”.

That evening I made us some bowls of veggies, brown rice and grilled chicken strips with the primal kitchen garlic Alfredo mixed in.

January 31st, I took Quinn to our go-to coffee shop, Nervous Dog. I quietly read her a few books and played with some toys and puppets.

That afternoon our peaceful morning was unfortunately a bit disrupted. The alarms in the house went off unprompted for the THIRD time, so I called the fire department to make sure there wasn’t anything deleterious truly going on like a carbon monoxide leak.

We waited for the fire department in my car. I asked the NP about having Quinn’s hearing tested, but she advised we just watch and wait (see how language develops and how she responds to sounds, etc.). At this time, we have no reason to be concerned but will have a lower threshold for referrals if any concerns arise. I’m happy with that plan!

Anyway, back to the pain in the butt alarms – no carbon monoxide or anything else was detected thankfully. Just one of the detectors was bad and setting off the rest randomly. Sort of an anticlimactic story, but I am glad it is!

February 1st, we whipped out the walker for Quinn. She is obsessed with this thing. I think it gives her a sense of freedom and independence she’s longing for. I always joke she has this attitude of “this baby stuff is for the birds!”.

I had to work February 2nd, but Marie sent us some sweet photos of Moose from his daycare! In the first he’s hanging with his pal, Captain. Some of his best buds are the littlest dogs. Moose definitely does not know his size, hah!

February 3rd, I made Jennifer Aniston’s famous salad per the recommendation of my friend, Melissa. Oh my gosh, this is so good. I made mine with violife vegan feta, but you really couldn’t tell the difference!

I served it with slightly over air-fried salmon (whoops). But even DJ enjoyed the salad, and I wouldn’t say feta is usually his cup of tea/block of cheese.

The morning of February 4th I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Or as DJ and I jokingly say “the wrong side of the bread”. I was in a bad mood for no good reason. And usually when that’s the case, the reason is hormones. I felt the need to just be entirely alone for a bit. I also felt so guilty wanting that but after talking to Clair and my mom that day, they assured me that is very normal. Quinn had a bottle she didn’t drink at daycare that I didn’t want to have to dump, so I asked DJ if he could feed her while I pumped and ran a few errands. He happily agreed. I ran to the UPS store and then stopped in CVS. While at CVS, I had a craving for something salty and carbonated (corroborating my hormone theory all the more). I grabbed some beef jerky (the REAL stuff) & a chemically-laden diet Dr. Pepper. I then whipped into a nearby empty parking lot to pump while listening to a podcast, taking myself on a little mini vacation at a driving range complete with palm trees 😄.

After pumping, I headed back home and was in much better spirits. Nothing a deserted tropical oasis, a DDP and a self-prescribed time out can’t fix 😄.

That afternoon we went on a beautiful family walk outside.

For dinner I made us Praeger All American Impossible Burgers with smoked Gouda vegan cheese in lettuce wraps. DJ actually loves this brand Impossible burger, as do I.

February 5th, we had such a fun morning as a family! And this time I woke up in a much better mood. I had been wanting to take DJ to the Burntwood Tavern in Cuyahoga Falls ever since I went with Rachel. It’s so cozily situated on the water and not far from us.

We attached the fast chair for Quinn and played puppets with her while waiting for our food. She was a happy camper being out and about!

Quinn is wearing her overalls from her Great Grandpa 🥰.

During their brunch, they have a Bloody Mary bar. I couldn’t remember the last time I had one, but it looked delicious, so I made one- extra extra spicy 🌶️ .

DJ opted for one of their mimosas.

I got the same thing I always get – an omelette, but the potatoes are where it’s at 😛. DJ got their Nashville hot chicken sandwich- yum!!!

We came back that afternoon and played with Quinn, crawling alll over the place, before her next nap. ❤️

Quinn still snoozes a lot in my carrier for naps, so lately I’ve been watching Married At First Sight while strolling on the treadmill. This is a good season so far! I love this show so much. I think it’s one of the best kept secrets in reality TV land. I also listen to the Love at First Sight podcast after every episode – Aysha and Jason are so much fun to listen to and are hilarious. Sometimes I look forward more to listening to the podcast than watching the actual episode.

The rest of the day, I chipped away at a recipe from the Half Baked Harvest cookbook- these basil beef bowls. Oh my, were they delicious!!!

February 6th was Quinn’s 9 month appt! Can you believe how quickly the time has gone? I surely cannot. All around a great report for this one ☺️.

I didn’t take a pic, but for dinner that night I made her pasta with a homemade tomato, power greens and oregano sauce. This girl gobbled it down!!

The next day I made her avocado, sardine and quinoa balls. She loves sardines, I just have to give them to her on bath days 😆.

After work on February 7th we went on our usual outdoor walk.

February 8th, we spent a fun day with Gigi. We went on a gorgeously crisp walk outside with Quinn taking in all the sites. I’m excited to be able to start jogging with her in this jogging stroller as the weather turns!

That afternoon we ordered Aladdin’s. I was craving their lamb salad and ordered a side of the baba ghanoush with pita. I added my own vegan feta for the full experience. Never disappoints! If you ever find yourself here, you must order a side of their hot sauce 😋.

That evening we went to Senior Night at my little sister-in-law’s basketball game ❤️. It was so special and emotional! 🥹. Really stinking proud of her! She’s going to where DJ and I went to college to play basketball, so we’re all really looking forward to that!

After work on February 9th, we went on our usual walk greeted by more blue skies! It certainly has been a mild winter.

For dinner for Quinn, I made sweet potato wedges, brussels sprouts, and quinoa mixed with a little bit of hummus.

I also prepped some nuts to introduce in her oatmeal to help introduce more allergens. She’s done well so far!

Also some really exciting news!! Quinn and I are able to have soy again! We trialed her for about two weeks where I had a little soy daily and then ultimately fed her tofu for a couple days – and no issues!!!! This is huge! Next step is dairy – but I’ll take what I can get for now 🙂 I’m also relieved to know she won’t go through her life having to avoid soy and that she truly did grow out of it.

Alrighty enough of my rambles!!

Questions for you:

– What would be the hardest food for you to give up?

– Any podcasts you’re enjoying?



Fire Alarms, Random Eats & A Girl’s Trip to Columbus!

Hi, Everyone!! How are you doing? I am so ecstatic to report we are on day three of a successful crib nap. Going to try to whip this post out at lightening speed before she wakes up.

January 17th I received this adorable photo from daycare of Quinn spelling out her name with letters.

January 18th was a day of planning meals, prepping for work the next day and getting the house organized. January 19th I also worked, but afterward, I walked Quinn outside on the surprisingly warm Thursday afternoon (I think it was in the 50s?!).

I love this new jacket!

That day I made a really easy pot roast with homemade gravy. So tasty. I didn’t use the extra lean beef in this recipe though, just regular.

January 20th out of nowhere (I wasn’t cooking or anything) our fire alarms went off through the whole house. It was so loud, I genuinely was, and still am, concerned about Quinn’s hearing after the exposure. I got us out of the house and bundled as quickly as I could to face the now bitter cold while covering her ears, but it was so loud it physically made me dizzy- which I’ve never experienced before. Out of desperation I called Gigi and Gordie who luckily were home and able to swing by and help inspect what was going on. Nothing was found as a cause (we suspect it was a power surge issue after speaking with a technician), and the alarms just stopped on their own right when they arrived.

Even though chaotic and a little concerning, I met the sweetest neighbor who insisted I sit in her car while waiting for my in-laws. I may have gained a new friend out of the whole fiasco.

Also it was fun to unexpectedly get some time with Gigi and Grandpa! I know I’ve said it a million times, but I really am so grateful to have them nearby.

That evening I made (aka heated to a scorching hot temp on the stove) Amy’s quinoa, kale and lentil soup with a tortilla lightly fried in some earth balance vegan butter for dinner. I add a couple scoops of collagen powder for a boost of protein to my soups. I like to have these and other Amy’s soups on hand for quick dinners, last minute lunches for work and chilly days that call for a cozy meal. Side note- any one else prefer their soup so hot it’s nearly inedible?

We were low on groceries, so I didn’t have my usual berries to add to my morning oats on January 21st, so I added some applesauce. This sounds so simple, and it is, but my goodness the combo of applesauce in oatmeal with peanut butter is really yummy!

Mr. Moose tired after a playdate at Aunt Marie’s!

That afternoon, we went to my younger sister-in-law’s basketball game where my other sister-in-law cheered! Quinn loves going to sporting events and is always mesmerized when we have football on. We joke it’s her favorite sport.

I love this pic of Quinn with her Aunt Kori 🥰.

That evening, I made air fryer chicken with the multipurpose umami seasoning from Trader Joe’s with parmesan broccoli (the violife parm block is out of this world for a dairy free parm!), potatoes and brown rice. It all was pretty good! I feel like it needed something else- like a glaze with the chicken or something. Maybe a cranberry salad for a sweet and savory type thing. But overall, tasty!

Once again low on groceries, on January 22nd, for lunch, I made this brown rice bowl with leftover garlic Alfredo sauce from Primal Kitchen with an egg over top and chopped red onion and green peppers. This last minute hodge podge meal was actually so good!! I’ve started putting that sauce on everything when I have the chance, which is surprising because I didn’t really know how I felt about it at first, but it’s really grown on me! I love mixing it with grains like rice and quinoa bowls.

For dinner that evening we did a pizza night with Mike’s hot honey and crushed red pepper! DJ had CPK’s Margherita and I had the Vegan Harvest Flatbread (sooo good & way better than some of the other vegan pizzas I’ve tried).

And that brings us to the week of January 23rd! We started the day out with a trip to Nervous Dog coffee. I brought along the teether crackers Quinn is obsessed with, and we FaceTimed my mom and Pete. It was Pete’s bday that day!

For Christmas, my mom gifted Quinn this iPad so they could FaceTime on it instead of my phone. It’s been awesome! She even covered it with this adorable butterfly stand.

Quinnie wanted me to make sure I got a pic of her cute boots too ;).

At this point we entered into the thick of winter, and I’m weirdly enjoying it? I greatly appreciate these seasons after being away from them for so long!

We discovered that evening that Quinn has a new favorite food- green beans!

With a new grocery order in the house, I made us wedge salads, parm crusted tilapia and brown rice for dinner. I *thought* I used the vegan parm, but accidentally used regular (speaks to how real the fake stuff looks!). Anyway, this meant I accidentally re-introduced Quinn to dairy earlier than I planned, but she’s tolerated it well!

On Tuesday, January 24th, Quinn and I went out for breakfast with Gigi to one of our favorite spots, Garrett’s Mill Diner. The chef was so sweetly concerned about my allergies that he even brought out the containers of what he cooks with to double check it was all ok. I do admittedly feel bad being this high maintenance out to eat, but gosh that was kind of him!

The food is always so good!!!

We came back home and crawled around in her nursery while I folded laundry.

I had a salad for dinner (the usual with veggie burger and hummus), but made DJ his favorite soup from the Dixie Stampede. This is the best copycat recipe I’ve found yet.

I was craving avocado toast with an egg for breakfast on January 25th.

That day I scoped out a venue for Quinn’s first bday! We don’t have enough parking/space at our townhouse, so we’re going to do her party at a park.

I also realized Quinn loves looking at photos on the fridge! I made a new collage for her, and she is obsessed. I’m going to try to make a book with all our family for her to flip through when time allows!

On January 26th I did something I haven’t done since Quinn was born. I had a full girl’s day with a friend! I didn’t have any shifts that week which is unusual, so I used a daycare day to meet with a friend in Columbus (she lives in Indianapolis, so it’s a great halfway point!). She’s a nurse too, so it worked that she didn’t have to work that day either.

I dropped Quinn off around 730, drove home and got ready/packed my pump bag, snacks, coffee and water then hit the road!

I met Laura, one of my dearest friends from college, around 11 AM at a fun brunch place called Drunch Eatery.

After chatting away and forgetting to look at the menu, we realized “oh yeah, probably needs to get an order in!”. We decided to start with mimosas to kick off a proper girls day. Drunch had more flavor options than anywhere I’d ever seen. I tried the strawberry rhubarb, it was good, but very sweet (I don’t love super sweet drinks, but it was still good!).

For my main, I got their quinoa bowl with an additional egg and a side of their breakfast potatoes. Everything hit the spot! I’ve been on a quinoa kick since this brunch.

After brunch, we headed to an adorable little downtown area to visit a candle shop like the couple of basic gals we are!

If it wasn’t so cold I would have loved to walk around more. There were a lot of cute boutique-type shops that lined this street.

Back to the candles! The shop we ventured into was called Penn & Beech. You actually can make your own candles and diffusers here, but we didn’t have quite enough time, so we just grabbed a couple to go.

How cute is this place?

What I love about these candles too is they are nontoxic. Even after smelling probably every single candle in the store we didn’t leave with a headache. I bought the Christmas Ale candle and Wild Currant. They both had unique scents that I couldn’t resist! When I burned them at home I couldn’t believe how they so beautifully filled the house with the delicious scents. Highly highly recommend!

And what would go better with a candle than a good book? We marched (drove about three miles) into German village to go to the famed Book Loft. This bookstore has 32 rooms of discounted books with every genre you can imagine!

Yes, we did get lost several times 😆.

I picked out a few books for Quinn and grabbed the Half Baked Harvest Every Day Cookbook for myself. I cannot wait to make all the recipes in there 😍.

It was around 230 pm at this point, so we said our goodbyes, promised to not let so much time pass before we did something like this again, I pumped once in the car and then headed back to pick up my girl! It was tough being that far away (about a two hour drive), but that girls day did something good for me & felt much needed!

I’ll get into our February in the next post ☺️.

Question for you:

– Would you rather live somewhere with seasons or somewhere it was warm all year round?

– What type of candle scents do you prefer?



Friday Faves!

TGIF! I hope you all had a great week 🙂 I wanted to share a few favorites I’ve been loving lately to kick off the weekend.

1. Inglesina Fast Table Chair. This is the BEST chair for going out to a restaurant with Quinn or to other people’s homes for dinner. It’s super portable/easy to hook up to a table without causing damage and way comfier than high chairs. We take it everywhere with us!

2. Burt’s Bees Lip balm . This stuff saves my lips in the winter here. I couldn’t find the exact pack I have, but any of their lip balms are great.

3. Seraphine’s 3-in-1 Parka. I am obsessed with this jacket. It was a birthday gift and is made for pregnancy, baby wearing or just wearing as a regular jacket. Quinn loves it too and falls immediately asleep on walks in it.

4. The Love of my Life by Rosie Walsh. I’m only 25% of the way through this book club book, but so far it’s a great thriller. I’ll keep you posted if I change my mind when I finish it. But last night I found myself reading it at 130 AM and had to force myself to go back to sleep. I’m eager to get back to reading it during Quinn’s next nap!

5. MaraNatha Natural Peanut Butter Spread. I particularly love the no-stir kind. It’s so creamy and delicious.

Am I bit dramatic when it comes to PB? The answer is always yes!

6. Libman Freedom Spray Mop. This was another gift that I’m over the moon about! I don’t know how I functioned before we owned this?! This mop sprays and then mops the area just freshly sprayed. I only use vinegar and water to clean everything, so that’s what I fill this up with. It makes cleaning the floors a breeze, and I just wash the reusable cloths in the wash. So much healthier/more cost effective than the Swiffer mop and pads we used to use.

7. The Mole. If you haven’t watched this on Netflix, stop reading this post and go watch this right now! I don’t think I’ve binged a show so fast in ages. The link above gives a good synopsis of what it’s all about!

8. Nut Pods Creamers. These are dairy/soy free, and I love their recent toasted marshmallow and cinnamon swirl flavors.

9. Serenity Kids Organic Pouches. These have been helpful and convenient whenever we’re traveling or on the go. We try to give Quinn food baby led weaning style food at home, but at a restaurant or after a long work day when I don’t have food made, she loves these packs. I feel good about the fact that they’re organic with wholesome ingredients too.

10. This quote by Virginia Wolfe – “I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.”

What are you loving this week?



Our January So Far!

Good morning everyone!! I hope your year is off to a great start. Can you believe we are already nearing the end of January? It’s been a pretty eventful one for us, in both great and other not-so-great ways 🥴. I’m going to share it all today!

Zipping all the way back to December 28th, I picked up a shift at work and was greeted by this beautiful sunrise heading out the door. Usually I leave in the pitch black, but my shift started later this day. It was a nice start to the morning. I also got this picture below while Quinn was at daycare 🥰.

That afternoon, we FaceTimed with my siblings, niece and nephews. It was fun to see everyone. Andrea is coming in from Colorado at the end of the month, so we’re excited for that! She hasn’t seen Quinn since July!

We jumped on the call fresh off a walk outdoors, hence the wintry getup, hah!

December 29th was a very special day. We celebrated Christmas with my Dad-in-law’s side of the family in the evening. It was a reminder of how wonderful it is to live so close- it was tough to get all our schedules to match, but when you live in such close proximity, you can even celebrate Christmas a week later on a week night!

One tradition DJ did growing up, and I would love to continue with Quinn, was having a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas. How adorable is this?!

I had a moment of total nostalgia. We had Moose with us, and I had a flashback to last year’s Christmas when I was sitting by the fire with Moose when we he was just a puppy and I was still pregnant. Now there he was, a full grown dog, lounging in the same spot, and Quinn is now here with us too. Wild how things change in a single year!

Quinn got after the gifts! She loved trying to eat everything per usual. In her mind the whole world is edible. Bow? Yum. Tissue paper? An appetizer. Cardboard? Main entree, fiber.

She was spoiled by her Sissy, Poppy, Aunts and Uncle! We had a blast the next day diving into the gifts. How adorable is this little turtle ball pit 😍.

That afternoon of December 30th, I decided to try the stroller again for a walk. With Moose, I don’t feel comfortable putting her in the carrier while walking him since he tugs on the leash when dogs pass. She enjoyed the stroller much more without the car seat. She just happily took in the views and crisp air while clutching her best friend, Violet.

New Years Eve, I was in the mood for a festive brunch. I decided to make a “beermosa” with non-alcoholic malt beer from Two Roots. This is fantastic non-alcoholic beer and award winning for a reason. Mixed with the orange juice it was a great combo. For brunch I made veggie egg scramble with a slice of Dave’s bread topped with Crofter’s berry jam.

It was a fun, chill day at home since DJ had the day off too! In the evening, Quinn got to experience her first fine dining experience.

We were going to a restaurant called Ken Stewart’s Lodge, so it seemed appropriate to put her in this outfit 😊.

And we’re off!

She started off in the high chair but didn’t last very long before we started passing her around. This social butterfly was ready to socialize.

For my main, I got scallops over butternut squash risotto (containing butter) which were divine. At that time I was adding back dairy into my diet in small amounts since Quinn had done well with yogurt and cheese. I had a little creamed spinach too. Unfortunately the next week, all her symptoms of cows milk intolerance returned, so I’m going to wait until she’s closer to a year to try again.

Quinnie girl got her own side of mushrooms, but was not super interested. She way preferred a couple bites of my risotto.

Here she’s reaching for the dessert menu. Girl knows what’s good!

Overall, she did well! It was a longer (albeit delicious & wonderful) meal. We were there from probably 530 to about 730, and she usually goes to bed no later than 7- but she was ready to push back the time on NYE! I probably should have brought more distractions though. At one point we used her shoes as a toy/teether- I mean they never actually touched the floor so they were probably fine?! 😅 It was so good to see our family and chat about everyone’s plans for the coming year.

January 2nd, DJ had the day off again! We had been wanting to take Moose to PetSmart to do his Christmas shopping, just never found the time until then.

Yes, we were bad parents without getting him anything to open on the holiday, but to make it up to him we thought it’d be fun to take him to the store and let him choose his own gifts/treats! If he really seemed excited about something we loaded it up.

The nice thing was pretty much everything he wanted was on sale after the holidays. Thanks for being a cheap date, Moose 😄.

Moose also so sweetly sniffed out some holiday cookies to take to his friends at Aunt Marie’s. Thoughtful guy, that one.

After getting Moose’s goodies, we took Quinn over to admire the birds and fish. I had her outward facing in the carrier, and she just loved taking it all in! This would be a fun rainy day activity for us to do in general.

That afternoon, we snuck in a family walk between the rain storms.

We started Quinn in the stroller, but she was over it halfway through and wound up in the carrier. We laughed because DJ was left pushing Violet in the stroller and no baby. Quite the look there, Deej!

That evening held another cherished memory ❤️. We went to Gigi and Gordie’s for Christmas!

They even had a stocking made for Quinn 💕.

We had fun opening gifts with Quinn (again trying to keep her from eating all the wrapping paper). She was sooo spoiled by all her grandparents!

We had Gigi’s chili for dinner too- my favorite!! She puts the big chunks of tomatoes in her chili, and I could eat it on repeat for days 😋.

Also I had to share how many EmergenC packs we were gifted for Christmas- clearly everyone knows we need them 😂.

January 4th was a tough one! I was using my back cam in the rain while backing into a gas station spot and didn’t see a pole since it was blurred in the cam 😭. I took out my back bumper and a taillight. Thankfully Quinn was not in the car (I was on my way to daycare when it happened). It’s all sorted now, and thank goodness for auto insurance, but was such a hassle, and I was just so mad at myself!

But this girl can turn any week around! On January 6, it was flannel day at daycare so I put her in this sweet outfit 🥰.

That day I started feeling under the weather, and it got worse as the day went on. I was so nauseated by noon/had no appetite, and I couldn’t eat anything the rest of the day. That is highly unusual for me. By the evening I felt so weak and tired that all I could think about was getting into bed. Overnight, it hit DJ too. It was very clear by the next day we had the stomach flu. It was the single hardest day in parenting we had faced yet. We were so weak and sick, we set our alarms every hour to alternate caring for Quinn. Gigi graciously stopped by to relieve us for a bit too in the afternoon. We survived the day, and thankfully Quinn didn’t seem to get it as bad as we did (she did throw up once but seemed her normal, happy self most of the week). We turned the corner Sunday and started getting an appetite back. We loaded up all the bland food items.

We even had enough energy to set up an obstacle course for Quinn that afternoon. She had so much fun with this!

My milk supply plummeted after the bug, but two weeks later thankfully it has come back to baseline. I basically just had to eat a LOT and drink a lot of water to get it back.

Monday January 9th Gigi sweetly watched Quinn while I zipped to drop off my beat-up car and pick up a rental.

January 10th, Quinn and I played in her playpen after breakfast.

I then got Quinn ready for the day and realized we unintentionally were matching, hah!

I finally got Quinn’s eight month photo just a little late!

January 12th I had off work. Quinn and I had a blast just hanging out together all day and cooking.. I made a vegan shepherds pie from scratch. DJ and I didn’t love it- I should have known it wasn’t our cup of tea looking at the ingredients. But Quinn, now that girl loved it!

That week we decided to give the full on baby led weaning a go again! It’s been much less stressful this time around (also she has 7 teeth!). Quinn has been enjoying it, and meals tend to last longer since she really has fun munching on her foods. So far, we have done egg, avocado strips, tomato wedges, zucchini spears, sweet potato wedges, sardines, whole asparagus, broccoli florets and pineapple BLW style! We still give oatmeal for breakfast and purées to make sure she’s getting her iron, but it’s been an exciting and fun endeavor!

January 13th, my birthday, I decided to start the day with a different type of breakfast! I gave the shepherd’s pie a second chance and put an egg over it. It transformed the flavor, and I had this on repeat for several days after!

I went for a massage that morning and returned home to a sweet edible arrangement from DJ. It was so thoughtful of him to get this. I couldn’t really do cake this year with the dairy/soy allergy, but this was a very sweet alternative ❤️.

Rachel stopped by and brought me food from Town Hall in Cleveland knowing I would be able to order something from there! Again, so thoughtful 🥹. I had their beyond delicious Brussels sprouts and spicy salmon roll. There is so much on their menu I want to try!

It was so much fun chatting away with Rach! When she headed out, I opened my gifts from DJ- I have to share this one with you all because it’s one of my most treasured gifts I’ve ever received.

Best gift ever 😭.

That weekend was a much needed chill yet productive weekend. We got so much done and spent quality time together as a family. Moose loved the relaxing weekend too. I thought it was so sweet he took a nap on her baby blanket 🥹.

While Quinn insists I’m physically in the playpen with her 90% of the time, sometimes when I run over to do dishes or get my cup of coffee real quick, I’ll return to her making the silliest faces through the mesh 😄.

On January 15th, Gigi and Gordie offered to stop by to watch Quinn while DJ and I celebrated my bday out! We decided to go back to Michael Angelo’s. I had a giftcard, and I wanted DJ to experience their yummy food!

It always feels so weird when we get into the car without Quinn or Moose. We realized we hadn’t had a date since October! Crazy how time flies. We decided we want to be more intentional on finding time for dates out this year.

We shared a flight of wine to sample some different ones. Our favorites were the 2021 Rose and Wildflour Cabernet.

For my main, I got vegan rigatoni. It was fine, but when I brought home leftovers I was able to doctor it up with my own vegan cheeses and butter to take it to another level 😋.

I also gobbled up their asparagus salad which I had last time and loved!

DJ enjoyed their carbonara!

Car selfies always and forever.

We stopped by our land after to see it in the winter! So fun to dream about the future.

And I’ll wrap up here for now considering this is plenty long enough!

Thanks for reading :).

Questions for you:

– What’s everyone reading right now?

– Highlight of your January so far?



A Magical Mountain Christmas ✨🎄

Good morning, friends! I hope you have had a wonderful start to the New Year. Currently, the house is a mess, laundry is everywhere, my to-do list is about a mile long, but I really just want to share with y’all about our Christmas before it gets too far gone! 

For Christmas, we met with my mom, Pete, Halston and Kevin in a cabin-inspired Airbnb home on Lake Lure, NC. Lake Lure is situated among breathtaking mountains, so peaceful and quiet you could hear a pin drop. On a hike, you may have the occasional black bear sighting, as my mom and Pete did. It’s the type of place that when you’re there, it feels like the rest of the busyness of the world fades. And once we were settled in, we were all able to take a big deep breath, but the lead up to the road trip was pure chaos (as is expected!).

We had been planning on taking my car for the road trip as it’s a smoother ride than DJ’s truck, and Quinn seems to tolerate the longer rides in it better. However, with the storm and plummeting temps coming in, taking the truck was a no-brainer. The only problem was we didn’t have a cover for the truck bed (with the gifts, baby things and our own luggage we needed to use the bed!). On Sunday, I was calling every car shop in town and looking online for a cover that would come in on time for us to leave. I found one that would arrive the 21st. I then frantically called around to mechanics to have it installed on the 22nd, the day we were pegged to leave. Thankfully, Joe’s Auto in Stow agreed to make it work even though they had a full docket as was. They were so kind and had it done by noon on the 22nd. (Although they did mess with me and called telling me I had the wrong size cover- followed by, “just kidding, you’re all set!” lol, I needed the laugh that day, but I did believe him because I totally would order the wrong size). I picked up the truck, thanked them profusely, loaded it up after zooming around packing in the morning, and we were ready to hit the road when DJ got back from work that evening. 

We left around 8 pm on December 22nd after dropping off Moose at Marie’s (so hard to leave him, but we knew the 9ish hour drive would be near impossible with him in the truck- more motivation for us to get a mini van ha!). While the driving through winding West Virginia can put anyone on edge in the middle of the night, we were lucky to have avoided the storm and only dealt with fog and rain. 

Quinn did overall pretty well through the night. We arrived in NC around 6 AM on December 23rd to a balmy zero degrees outside. DJ and I were zombies- neither of us had slept a wink. My mom was eager and ready to scoop up Quinn- so I handed her over as I fell into bed and a deep sleep. I didn’t realize I hadn’t given her any of Quinn’s toys to play with or her pacifier- so my mom and sister got creative with entertainment using kitchen supplies! 

Look at these two together! <3 

When she started getting hungry, I got up to feed her, and just those few hours of sleep made a huge difference. I still had some cobwebs the rest of the day, but I could function! 

I took in the breathtaking home. It was so cozy and not a detail was spared. A book was lovingly placed on the blanket near the fireplace, there was a s’mores station ready for the outdoor pit, a hot tub was sizzling and ready for all, and the view of the mountains and lake was magnificent. Here’s a compilation from the weekend:

Downstairs, there was an adorable little sitting area.

While there, we gave Quinn blueberries with oatmeal for breakfast every morning (they even had a high chair!). We discovered blueberries are a contender for favorite food. 

After her morning nap, the fam watched Quinn while I snuck off to the workout facility to get a real deal workout in! It felt amazing!! The views from the workout center were beautiful too. 

When I returned, I got both me and Quinn ready for the day. I put her in the most adorable onesie that our family friend, Melinda, made her that fit perfectly!

Quinn is pulling up on furniture at every turn! Too fast, Quinnie girl! Momma needs you to slowww down. She also started saying “uh-ma” over the weekend, which is transforming more and more into a confident “momma” by the day <3.

For lunch every day we were there I had a turkey wrap with veggies and hummus, a side of Siggi’s yogurt and some popcorners. 

Happy girl with Grammy!

For dinner that evening, my mom made a delishh Jamaican curried stew. This is definitely going to be added to our winter meal rotation! We pureed up a bit for Quinn to enjoy too, and, boy, she did. It even had a little spice, but she didn’t seem to mind. Probably because I craved spicy food like nobody’s business when I was pregnant. 

For dinners, we hooked up the Inglesina fast chair so she could eat at the table with us. LOVE this thing!!

Cuddles with Grampy after dinner <3.

Kevin arrived later that evening and met Quinn for the first time right before she went to bed! She warmed right up to him.

The fam played Chameleon late into the evening (our current fav game) while sippin’ on Kahlua & Creams and orange vodka sprites. Pete dominated! I hit the hay earlier than everyone knowing I’d be up bright and early with Quinn. 

And I surely was! Around 630 on Christmas Eve, I got up with her and made some oatmeal with pb and coffee. My mom heard us and snuck out to kindly hold Quinn, so I could eat my breakfast without interruption (it’s the little things as a mom, isn’t it?). 

After her first nap, DJ took over so I could sneak out again for another run. Those little 30 min workouts through the weekend felt amazing. Sometimes if I try to add in a workout on daycare days I feel so guilty, so I don’t really enjoy it even though I know it’ll make me a better mom ultimately – it’s just a tug-of-war of the mind and heart!

For Quinn’s naps, I just walked her in the carrier in the downstairs sitting area.

It was tough at times feeling like I was missing out on precious time with the rest of the family I rarely see. But on the same token, I love Quinn’s nap time because it means cuddles for me. At home it’s a non-issue (I even can often get things done while she’s in the carrier or walk so I’m getting exercise), so it’s hard to have incentive to try the crib… But a time like that where I felt like I was missing out was a good reminder of why it’d be good to get to sleep in a crib on her own for naps. She does it at daycare (cat naps, but still), so I know she can do it! I told DJ one of my NY goals is to get her taking one solid crib nap a day by March. I don’t think that’s too lofty at all. I just need to be consistent which I have not been. It’s tough with my work schedule being so inconsistent & with all the sickness we’ve had recently. And I mean, again, it’s hard to turn down the sweet snuggles! Ok, I’ll stop now with my stream of consciousness lol. 

P.S. DJ offered many times to do the carrier nap with her, but I was worried about her getting overtired if she fought falling asleep, so I just said I’d do them.

Anyway, once she was up and ready to groove for the rest of the day, I changed us into our outfits for family photos. We took many, and of course, I have to share most of them :).

I did a little mini haul of outfits from H & M for Quinn- they have such cute stuff & you can find great deals!

I do love the neutrals, despite the “sad beige baby” warriors out there.. but come on, no one can accuse this girl of being sad!

For dinner, we had salad, wild rice, peas, veggie shish kebobs and beef tenderloin with bearnaise. As Quinn has tolerated yogurt and me eating a little goat cheese without issue, I decided to have a little bearnaise – and she seemed to do well! 

I had this alcohol-removed Luminara wine my mom brought along for dinner- it’s the best NA red wine I’ve tried yet! Good “fake” reds are really hard to find; whites are much better. But this was as good as it gets IMO!

Quinn had a serenity kids beef, kale and sweet potato pack. These were easy to bring along to make sure she got her solids in while traveling. She loves these packs, and they’re made with only organic good stuff.

Once we got her ready for bed, we started a couple new traditions. First, we traditionally celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve with my dad every year, so as a way to honor and remember him we decided to have Quinn open one gift on Christmas Eve.

She opened her first ornament that matched her nursery theme <3. 

We then read The Night Before Christmas, which is surprisingly longer than I remembered ha!

We played a round of Chameleon and then loaded up Church on the living room TV.

Quinn and I called it a night so we could be rested for Santa’s arrival!

Doesn’t get cozier than this!