Chicago Part 2!

Hello hello! Wooooooo-eeee. This month has been non-stop. All good stuff, but let’s just say I’ve upped my caffeine intake a bit 😅. I can’t wait to catch you up on everything though!

Starting with…. Part 2 of Chicago!

We woke up Father’s Day morning and drove to Kasama as soon as they opened. I had a feeling there might be a line given this Michelin starred Filipino pastry shop’s popularity. I underestimated just how popular this spot was! The line when we arrived (before they even opened) was all the way down the sidewalk (I’m guessing at least an hour wait). It was a warm and sunny morning, and there was no way Quinn was about to chill in that line for that long. We didn’t want to give up on this restaurant we had so been looking forward to trying, so we put an order in online for pickup. It was still going to be about a 45 minute wait. We found a McDonald’s parking lot, sat in the AC in the car and entertained Quinn with toys, books and some home videos to get us through the whole 45 mins.

Finally it was time!! *Said in the voice of Rafiki*. I picked up our order and couldn’t wait to dive in. It took everything in me not to peak in the box and nibble on them before we got back to the hotel. At least I had an iced matcha to tide me over.

Now for the GOODS! We started with their cardamom kouign amann. This is one of their most popular items. It was great, and I don’t even particularly enjoy the taste of cardamom, but DJ said this was his favorite of everything we had.

Next up- the black truffle croissant! Listen to this description: this croissant is “laminated with 82 percent European butter and filled with black truffle and Delice de Bourgogne cheese, topped
with honey and truffle oil and fresh shaved black truffle”. It was a true mouthful. I love anything truffle and my taste buds exploded with this. It is so rich in flavor, it was almost overwhelming! I wouldn’t say it’s the type of croissant you’d just want to sit and eat on its own- it’s a great thing to have a couple bites of though.

Alrighty. Time for the foils gras danish with blackberry-cherry jam, pistachio, almond, and foie gras ganache. Truly one of the most stunningly unique creations I have ever tried. It was delicious!!!

And we also grabbed a chocolate croissant for good measure.

To cut the sweetnesss, we also tried their breakfast sandwiches. I loved these. Perfection.

The one thing we didn’t try that we were hoping to was their staple Ube and Huckleberry pound cake since they ran out. I think we had our fill though 😄.

Overall thoughts: Incredible bakery. When it comes to individual items- still nothing tops the Koignn Amann from B. patisserie in San Francisco and nothing yet tops the croissant from Arsicault also in SF. I’d say the star for me was the foie gras danish or the sandwiches. DJ says for him it was the cardamom kouign amann.

After the spectacular taste testing (with no crumbs leftover), we headed out to explore the city more! We walked past Millenium Park again and then a few more blocks to Shedd Aquarium.

This was such a fun activity that DJ suggested!! Quinn enjoyed it very much. This aquarium was epic.

They even had a dolphin viewing area.

Here are Quinn and DJ looking at some Beluga whales. It took everything in me not to start singing Babyyyy Belugaaa.

We fed Quinn her lunch we brought along in one of the cafes they had. Then time for dessert! It was a scorcher of a day, so nothing sounded better than ice cream. Lucky for us, there was a Chicago favorite, Rainbow Cone, right outside the aquarium.

Rainbow cone is known for their Original 95-year-old classic Rainbow Cone stacked with five flavors (sliced not scooped): Orange Sherbet, Pistachio, Palmer House, Strawberry, and Chocolate.

While a fun concept, I played it a little safer (and less messy) with a half scoop of chocolate and half scoop of strawberry. Of course, Miss Ice Cream Queen helped herself to a few tastes. She had a death grip on the thing 😂.

We started the long haul back to the hotel, but the ice cream made it much more enjoyable! (Ghirardelli’s is better from a flavor and creaminess standpoint, but we had to try something so fun and local!). While we went to the food truck, they do have other shops around the city!

On our way back, we stopped to splash in the Face Fountains.

We all took a little afternoon siesta and then it was time for dinner! We had originally booked a hotel that had babysitting services offered, but they cancelled their contract before we had our trip. Originally, we were going to treat this dinner as a date night, but Quinnie joined us. When all was said and done, we were so glad the babysitting services fell through because we had such a ball with her (per usual) and she loved the food. What dish in particular? You may be shocked to find out- stay tuned!

The dinner spot, a Chicago favorite, was The Purple Pig. Side note- we had a hard time actually finding the restaurant, so if you do go, it’s inside a bigger building on Michigan Ave.

This restaurant has received Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand awards since 2011, so you know it must be good!

The menu is diverse and extensive, truly something for everyone. It was a tough decision! We started with a bold and delicious glass of Cabernet and the crispy pig’s ear with kale, pickled Cherry peppers and a fried egg. YUM!!!!!!! A must try!

Next up were the mushrooms three ways with pickled onions and a truffle and mushroom three ways. I loved this.

Then with the hopes that Quinn would nibble on this dish, I got the roasted baby squash with ricotta cheese, pesto, almonds and lemon. She didn’t care for it. It was definitely good, but the least impressive of everything we tried.

When she started fussing and all other toys/efforts failed, we set up Ms. Rachel very quietly so we could continue to enjoy our conversation. We joked that Ms. Rachel was our fill-in babysitter.

For his main dish, DJ had the pork belly with ginger glaze, carrot, espresso and frisee. This is the dish to get!!!! It was SPECTACULAR.

I had their squid ink pasta, because I have a hard time turning it down if I ever see it on a menu, but it was just ok. Definitely should have ordered the pork belly.

But you want to know who was all about the pasta (“it’s not about the pasta!”) (sorry can’t resist a VPR reference)- QUINN. This girl could not get enough. It was hilarious the way she shoveled that pasta down- I was quickly googling to make sure squid ink pasta was even safe for a toddler lol.

And of course we had to get a family pic to remember this Father’s Day, celebrating this absolutely amazing Dad. DJ is the most selfless man, he makes Quinn laugh more than anyone, brings the fun and goofiness to our home, has such a steady temper and never complains (I mean never, it’s kind of incredible). He sacrifices a lot of time and energy for us, which may not always be shown here, but I just have to take a minute to express my gratitude for the stellar Dad and partner he is in life and in this parenting journey! Quinn adores her Daddy! And she definitely said Dada before Mama 😆.

The next day we had to get up bright and early to hit the road. We quietly ate our room service breakfast near the door so we didn’t wake Quinn. I ordered salmon lox and DJ ordered some memorably tasty pancakes. Side note- it was tough to eat this quietly; there were a lot of dishes to accidentally “clink” lol.

When Quinn woke up, we shared some of the pancakes with her. She was all about em’!

Then it was time to hit the road! The ride back was much smoother than the ride over.

Questions for you:

– What are you watching/reading currently?

– Are you on any food kicks right now?



Chicago Part One!! 🏙️

Hey, everyone! Finally, I am getting out this long overdue Chicago post. It’s 445 AM, I have a hot cup of frothy Nespresso in hand and oatmeal on board, so let’s dive in! We decided to go to Chicago over Father’s Day weekend since it’s a relatively short trip, and we were itching to travel! The evening of June 16th we hit the road.

Quinnie was less amused by the construction getup photo-op at a rest stop than I was 😅.

It was a rough trip. Quinn’s a light sleeper and would wake up with every bump in the road 😣. We realized gone are the days of driving through the night. Day trips are going to be the way we roll for now!

We arrived in Chicago around 1130 pm central time. We took in the fantastic views of the city before eagerly catching some 💤s.

Quinn has started pointing at everything, and it was adorable how she eagerly pointed out the window when we woke up.

“Mom, look! It’s Chicagahhhhh!”

I was feeling the cobwebs in the morning and needed to get caffeine on board ASAP. Once we got ready, we headed out to breakfast around 830 AM.

We went to brunch at a restaurant called Terrace 16 that promised the best views in the city. It did not disappoint!

DJ and I started with mimosas, and I didn’t turn down the opportunity for another cup of coffee. We didn’t realize the only option for mimosas was bottomless, and the guy looked at us funny when we said we were good after one- when we got the bill we understood why 🫠.

Time for food! I ordered their vegetable frittata with asparagus, wild mushrooms, spinach and Gruyère. Every bite was spectacular!

For Quinn I ordered a parfait bowl with berries that she didn’t touch, but DJ and I happily enjoyed some.

Deej had their Croque Madame. I had a bite and woah, so good. A great savory option.

Whoopsies another portrait mode fail lol.

After brunch, we decided we better change since it was getting warmer out. We also applied a bunch of sunscreen and then headed out to explore the Windy City!

I made a mistake with the spray sunscreen- I tried to apply it to my hair part, but sprayed too heavily and it turned my hair white. Good times, haha.

I love being among the hustle and bustle of a big city. The energy of Chicago was electric on that Saturday morning. Many people were exercising in various forms- running, bicycling or doing yoga in the big green space of Millennium Park. I tried to catch the names of coffee shops displayed on paper cups of people we passed “just in case” I needed another ;). Tourists fought for a spot around The Bean and various street artists performed beautiful melodies, a soundtrack to accompany the gorgeous day.

We then ventured over to Maggie Daley park to explore the three acre play garden for kids. This place is epic. I can’t wait to bring Quinn back here when she’s a bit older. That day we just enjoyed the sights and the bucket swings :).

While walking back to the hotel, we saw a surprising amount of people sporting Orioles gear. DJ is a huge Orioles fan (I am a fan now too by proxy, except when they’re playing the Guardians 😜). We checked to see if they were in town, and sure enough they were! We didn’t have a strict agenda that day and decided it’d be fun to take Quinn to her first baseball game!! I just happened to have an Orioles hat on me and one of DJ’s old Orioles shirts I wear as a night shirt I lent back to him- so we were accidentally prepared 😄. I should have just played this off like I planned it as a Father’s Day gift haha!

Parking was a bear (pun intended), but we made it to the stadium with plenty of time to spare.

I was thrilled at the opportunity to go to Wrigley Field!

Is there anything better than a baseball game in the summer?!

Quinn fell asleep on the walk over to the game and grabbed some snoozes in my carrier while we waited for the game to start.

We haven’t been to a game in ages, and I was impressed with the QR core option to have food and drinks delivered to your seat!

Chillin’ on her Dad’s lap enjoying the game! DJ was in heaven I’m pretty sure.

Early into the first inning, DJ goes, “oh noooo”. I look at him frantically as a litany of scenarios run through my mind in a second- what’s wrong?! Is she choking?! No, ok phew. Did she lick the seat? Spit up on the people in front of us? Lose a shoe? Did DJ order food to the wrong seat?!!!! He pointed to Quinn’s hat and, I realized it had a little bear cub on it. It was worse than I thought. The betrayal by your own daughter… hard to put into words 😭. I thought we raised her better!

Anywho- back to the food! I don’t know if I’ve actually ever tried Cracker Jacks, but they’re pretty good.

I was also craving a cheeseburger and got a soft pretzel to share with Quinn after we walked around the stadium for a while. She enjoyed the cheeseburger most!

Family pic 🥰.

After the game, we navigated the traffic, parked our car and then headed on foot to Navy pier.

Navy pier is much more of a little amusement park than I expected! It’s adorable and has fantastic food options too.

She fell asleep as we walked around the pier.

We walked along the river and then decided ice cream sounded like a great appetizer before dinner.

We saw a Ghirardelli store and a rush of amazing memories flooded back from San Francisco ☺️.

We were even greeted by a Painted Ladies photo while waiting in line.

Seriously some of the best!!!

We put an order in at Lou Malnati’s, a famed deep dish pizza joint in Chicago. I have had Giordano’s in the past (the other famous deep dish), but I didn’t love it. That was over 10 years ago though. I’ve heard from others that don’t love Giordano’s that Lou’s is where it’s at. Do people call it Lou’s? Some local Chicagoan is probably rolling their eyes at this whole paragraph, hah!

The line for the restaurant seating was crazy long, so we just ordered food to go. We still had a 30/40 minute wait for pickup, so we killed time running around with Quinn in the area outside the restaurant. She was having a ball, pointing at the tall statue nearby, waving, making friends. It was golden hour, a violinist was playing nearby, and people seemed to have an extra pep in their step. At the end of the trip DJ asked me my favorite part, and for some reason this simple memory stood out 💕.

Food’s ready!!

We went back to the hotel to eat. I ordered Quinn chicken tenders and fries – she didn’t eat much of the chicken, but fries are this girl’s jam.

Pizza pizza pizza! 🍕 DJ ordered their deep dish Malnati classic with sausage, mozzarella, vine-ripened tomato sauce all on their trademarked buttecrust.

I had the Deep Dish The Lou with basil, garlic and onion seasoned spinach, mushrooms and Roma tomatoes on garlic buttercrust.

The verdict? Definitely better than I remember Giordano’s being! I liked DJ’s more though. Mine felt it was missing something, adding sausage would have made it perfect I think! Now on a whole, nothing has yet topped Via 313’s Detroit style pizza in Austin, TX.

Hopefully I’ll get to Part 2 soon!! Thanks for visiting the Windy City ‘with us’. If you know Chicago, I’m open to more recs too because we would love to go back when time allows! It’s a fairly easy weekend trip!

Oh oh oh ! And I forgot to mention we are officially moved into our new place! Been a whirlwind of a couple weeks but so worth it!

Questions for you:

– What style of pizza is your favorite?

– Any summer travel plans?



Our Final Day in Clearwater, FL: Lenny’s, Ice Cream & Palm Pavilion!

Goood morning and welcome to our last day in Clearwater, FL! We agreed this trip was the perfect length of time.

For our final day of fun, we woke up in time to watch the sunrise. It was beautiful & my Nespresso coffee made it all the more vibrant as the caffeine rushed through my veins.

DJ enjoyed the gorgeous morning with Quinn while I got ready for the day.

Then we headed out to the rumored best breakfast in Clearwater- Lenny’s !

Looking over their menu my mouth was watering, and I couldn’t wait to dig in.

The local favorite is located near the Phillies winter training area, and we saw some Phillies art on their building while walking in.

According to Lenny’s website, Lenny’s “has a great New York Jewish diner feel to it”, and we found this held true!

One of the best parts of a meal at Lenny’s is the free danish basket. I couldn’t actually partake in it due to the butter, but I sure do love that they serve them! (Also side note: as I write this I think we’re in the clear on dairy! Feeling hopeful!! I’ll give more of an update in a future post!).

For Quinn, I ordered toast, tomatoes, avocado and eggs. She wanted nothing to do with the eggs or avocado but gobbled up the toast and tomatoes.

DJ had their chicken waffle Benedict, which he liked but wasn’t blown away by.

I had their garden omelette which was good, but there are many other things I would have tried if I could have had dairy at the time.

I also got a side of their potato pancakes which were soooo yummy. They served them with a side of applesauce which was the perfect compliment to the crispy delicious potatoes.

After breakfast, we strolled outside while Quinn slept in the carrier.

Then we enjoyed the pool one last time before deciding it was time for some ice cream.

We’d passed a place on the way in that had dairy free ice cream advertised, so I had to try it! It was called Ice & Cream Creamery – no secret what they serve, huh? 😄

Very happy with my cone!

We walked along the strip while we savored them as long as the heat would allow and then headed back. By that point, Quinn was ready for another nap, but it was too hot out for her to do a carrier nap outside. I walked around the lobby and halls while she slept, and I caught up on the latest episode of Vanderpump rules with my headphones in.

Then it was time for a little snack while we all got ready for dinner! We decided it’d be fun to give Quinn a view with the snack. DJ fed her a Little Spoon meal while I got ready for the evening.

We then headed to our final stop of the trip- Palm Pavilion.

This was such a last minute, nonchalant choice – it was within walking distance and had a good looking menu. And it was awesome! It was super casual and one of my favorite meals. It has a great vibe and had blissful views of the ocean too.

We started with some creamy and fresh guac and chips.

I had a hot chicken wrap with lots of veggies and fries that hit the spot.

We then tried to get to bed early for an early wake up time for the airport.

During our layover, I found the nursing room at Charlotte’s airport, and it was awesome!!! It was quiet, relaxing and spacious, a nice respite during a busy travel day.

Tired girl ready to sleep on the second leg!

Thank goodness because she was a ball of energy and wore us out on the first haha.

Then we were home! Thanks for reading and following along Quinn’s first beach vacation with us!!



Day 3 Clearwater, FL! In the Forecast: A Clear Sky & Frenchy’s!

Happy happy weekend!! Y’all it has been so (good) busy, but I’m taking forever to get these vacation posts out. I suppose it just prolongs the reminiscing on such a special time, yeah?!

Today I will be sharing our third day in Clearwater, FL! Quinn got a great night sleep and woke up with a little extra pep in her step.

Quite literally.. this girl was enjoying practicing her walking all week long!

We met up with my mom and Pete in the lobby and then walked across the street to Clear Sky Beachside Cafe.

Photo op!

We picked Clear Sky out of convenience, but the local dive boasted as a Yelp “Top 100” brunch spot in the USA!

We sat on their patio, which enclosed us from the threatening wind that morning. We put in orders then entertained Quinn with books and the little table creamers while waiting for our food.

I had the crab Benedict sans hollandaise because of the dairy. It was tasty, sure, but not the best benny I’ve had. (Of course, the sauce could have been a game changer!).

My mom had their avocado toast, which came out with a nice presentation!

For Quinn, I ordered scrambled eggs (which she barely ate), and mixed some of her kite Hill yogurt with fruit and a little peanut butter. She did enjoy that!

It was a solid breakfast overall, but maybe a bit surprised in top 100 in USA? All depends on what ya order these places too.

We headed back to the hotel, an easy walk back across the street.

I went for a run while my mom and Pete watched Quinnie. Unfortunately DJ wasn’t feeling 100% after getting a little sun poisoning, so it was nice he was able to just sleep for a bit while I ran.

It was a great run!! I got in 5 miles, which I rarely ever have the time to do anymore.

After my run, I got ready for the day, went back to my mom and Pete’s hotel room and nursed Quinn.

Then for her nap, we did the same thing as the day before! My mom just had Quinn nap with her, while DJ and I lounged at the pool. I had a glass of rosé that was very refreshing and yummy.

I continued to read my thriller, Flicker in the Dark, SO GOOD. Then for lunch ordered this scrumptious hummus and veggie wrap. I usually don’t care for chips (if French fries are an option I usually would rather have those), but these chips were soo good!!! Why does food taste even better after sitting in the sun and poolside? 😋

Then DJ and I went for a short stroll on the beach together.

My mom and Pete came down after Quinn’s nap and lunch, and we took over so they could enjoy a lunch poolside too.

Making sure to stay hydrated, I refilled my water frequently. The lobby had two big dispensers with fruit infused water- this was such a treat! I always forget just how refreshing fruit-infused water is.

Back to the hotel to get ready for dinner!

Trying to get a pic of us two, but Quinn just wanted to eat the sunscreen 😆. Forever teething!

For dinner that night, we went to the Original Frenchy’s Cafe. My Uncle Pat recommended this place, and it also falls on pretty much every list of best places to eat in Clearwater.

There are a couple locations, but I think going to the Original was the best decision!

It has an old school diner feel, which I always am drawn to. The staff was exceptionally friendly too.

Quinn was a bit fussy (it was creeping close to bedtime), so DJ took her outside to walk her around in the fresh air before the food came. At one point, he walked back and forth across the window with Quinn, and she was very entertained by us waving to her through the glass.

I had to take the opportunity to grab a pic with my mom and Pete!

Ok ok you’re saying get to the foooood. First things first- Frenchy’s Garlic Crab fries with garlic butter and parsley, garlic aioli, old bay seasoning and snow crab 🦀. I couldn’t have these for obvious delicious reasons (I’m looking at you garlic butter!), but those that did said they were very good.

Another appetizer shared was the smoked whitefish dip. This dip was good, there is no denying it. But I’m convinced no smoked whitefish dip will ever be better than Apache Trout’s in Traverse City, Michigan!

For Quinn’s meal, I got her some of her favorites: black beans and tomatoes. This girl could eat probably beans and tomatoes for every meal. They’re my sure fire way to get her to eat something if she’s being picky.

One happy camper.

Photo fail! I tried to get a pic of DJ’s Cuban sandwich (a staple of Clearwater cuisine), but I didn’t realize I had on portrait mode and ended up emphasizing the black beans instead. So here’s another close up of some beans 🤪.

Ok so now for one of my favorite dishes the whole vacation- this Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich. Oh my lantaaaa.

I paired it will a Heineken 0.0 and it came with perfectly crisp French fries… I don’t think I left a crumb behind. I was tempted to go back the rest of our time there to get this whole meal again.

As we walked back to the hotel we were struck by the beauty of the sunset that evening. We stepped out to the beach side of the resort to get a good look before heading up to bed.

Oh also just a fun tidbit from that night- My mom and Pete stayed out a little after us and texted us – “Did you all see Hulk Hogan?!” . Apparently he was at his bar which was right next to Frenchy’s!

And maybe by our next vacation I’ll get out Day #4 🤪. It’s just an extra busy time! I have a bunch of continuing education credits due this year on top of hospital mandatories, Quinn had her bday last weekend (can’t wait to share about that 🥰), I worked a bunch this week & just trying to be present while keeping the house afloat every day is certainly a juggling act. Entering into these toddler years I can feel a shift in our already *non-existent* routine haha and things are changing. Oh and Quinn is walking now, so there’s that 😄. My emotions are ALL over the place. More than they have been since early postpartum. Any other moms have this happen around a year?

If you still read this blog, I just want to take a minute to say I appreciate you & the fact that you want to pop in to see what my lil’ fam is up to. I’d love to hear what’s going on in your world.



Day 2 Clearwater, FL! Soaking up the ☀️ & Caretta On The Gulf!

Good morning, everyone!! This week sure is an extra busy one, but I am still hoping to find time here and there to write these fun vacation recaps!

Welcome to Day 2 of our time in Clearwater, FL! When we woke up, nothing sounded better than a room service breakfast. We love a room service breakfast and try to do at least one on these types of trips!

Quinnie perusin’ the menu with us.

It was going to take about 40 minutes for the food to be delivered, so I headed out for a short jog to start the day.

When I stepped outside I was immediately enveloped by the humid, yet warmly inviting, air. Ohio, who?! 😜 The eager morning sun beams mirrored my own excitement about the day ahead.

I didn’t run for long by the time I got out the door, but it felt great to put on the Happy Morning Mix on Spotify and get my heart rate up!

I made it back just minutes after the food was delivered. By the time we finished feeding Quinn our food was cold, as it goes. Well, we were in luck because my mom and Pete got an unreal upgrade to one of the Sandpearl suites. They told us to bring up our food so they could watch Quinn, and we could reheat our meals & enjoy them hot!

And enjoy the meals we did!!! I failed to get good pics of it all, but I did capture the highlight: this extra crispy chicken apple sausage – yum!! It tasted like it was cooked in a cast iron skillet.

After breakfast, my mom and I headed down to the beach to go for a walk with Quinn. On our way down we were able to really take in the resort for the first time since arriving.

This resort struck the perfect balance of being peaceful and kid friendly.

I thought Quinn would fall asleep immediately in the carrier with the fresh air of the beach and white noise of the waves, but I think it was just all too stimulating for her because she didn’t snooze a wink. She particularly perked up whenever a dog strolled by.

Below is a picture from her putting her toes in the sand for the first time 🥰.

Also, my mom and Pete brought this little dress with them that she’s wearing- isn’t it stinking cute?

After our walk Quinn was no longer able to fight a nap. My mom insisted DJ and I go enjoy the day and she would just have Quinn nap with her. I gave my mom some breast milk and Little Spoon meals to have on hand and off we went. She and Pete made it very clear they were happy to be on Grammy and Grampy duty through the trip- we were so blessed to have them there! Within minutes of leaving, my mom sent me a sweet photo of Quinn fast asleep on her chest ❤️.

Beach time! DJ and I lathered up the sunscreen and grabbed a beach cabana. We got two free ones with our stay which was nice!

We grabbed some beachy drinks (spicy margarita for me, piña colada for DJ), DJ loaded up a podcast, I opened up a thriller, and we went into total relaxation mode for hours.

My mom sent me this sweet update of Quinn eating her lunch after a nice long two hour nap!

All rested and fed, they then got Quinn ready for the big beach day! (These are the swim diapers we used – we use them for swim class too!).

First some dancing to the grand piano in the lobby 🥰.

We met up with them at a bubble station set up for the kids 😊.

Then it was time for the pool. Quinn was all about it!

I got her this little pool float which she tolerated and seemed to enjoy the first day, but did not have any interest after that.

Beach time!!

Going into the ocean for the first time- All giggles and smiles!

After all the fun in the sun, Quinn was ready for another nap. My mom and Pete got her to sleep again while we were able to leisurely get ready for dinner. Sweet picture of Grampy supervising ❤️.

I enjoyed a late afternoon decaf Nespresso which became a tradition on this trip. I lounged in bed and sipped while reading. Bliss.

Nearing the time of our reservation, I went up to my mom and Pete’s room with Quinn’s outfit for the evening and waited for her to wake up. When she did, we promptly changed her into this sweet outfit from Gigi and then took the elevator down to the restaurant in the hotel, Caretta on the Gulf. We were particularly looking forward to this meal as it is known as one of the best in Clearwater.

This girl is ready to eat some good food!!! we had teether crackers and a pouch as an appetizer before the food was delivered.

Side note- It’s so much easier to get reservations when you go out with a baby because you’re usually vying for the early time slots (5 pmish).

Quinn decided she was in a yelling “YAH YAH” phase for this trip. We started calling it the vacation of yah yah. Here’s a little snippet of it!

Now the food! To start, the waiter brought out some complimentary ceviche. It was refreshing and kicked off the meal on a delicious note!

And, of course, one of my favorite parts of the meal- the bread with dips!!!

My fam tried not to rave too much about how good the Asiago cheese rolls were knowing I couldn’t partake, but it was clear they were stellar. The regular bread was yummy too!

I have to share this mozzarella salad that DJ ordered! I’ve never seen it served like that- how fun!

My mom and I split the summer salad with compressed watermelon, meyer lemon & blueberry chutney, brûléed figs, marcona almonds, petite hibiscus, butterfly sorrel, red shiso and champagne & grilled peach vinaigrette. This was very unique and tasty! I particularly loved the brûléed figs.

Pete had their pork belly with roasted poblano & manchego grits, nueske’s applewood smoked bacon lardons, grilled scallion and savory espresso caramel. My mouth is watering writing this description out…

My mom had the impossible vegan bolognese. It was fine, but nothing to write home about. There are so many better menu items, but if you’re strictly plant based it’s nice they have this option.

For Quinn, I ordered the salmon with a side of broccoli. The salmon was amazing. I was not mad she didn’t want the whole filet because I happily devoured the rest. She loved the broccoli, but unfortunately it was extremely salty. Note to self- ask for unsalted next time! We also gave her some of the impossible bolognese since we knew it was dairy free.

DJ got the surf and turf. I’ll let the pic speak for itself…

And I wolfed down this surf and turf sushi roll with lobster, beef tenderloin, asparagus, enoki mushroom, truffle oil, eel sauce and fried onion. Definitely one of the best sushi rolls I’ve ever had. Maybe second only to the Shacho roll from Ozumo in California.

After we finished up, we headed to the terrace set up with comfy sofas and modern rectangular fireplaces. The warmth of the fire felt delightful after stepping out of the air conditioned restaurant. We took some pictures before taking an elevator ride and walking a few steps back to our rooms. Convenience is everything with a little one!

My kissing bandit!

After we got back to the room, we realized Quinn still had some unexpected energy. I took off my makeup, changed into some oversized comfy clothes, changed Quinn into a onesie and we headed out for a night walk with DJ.

And that wraps up day #2! DJ and I were saying we could have gone home that evening entirely rejuvenated and refreshed.

Can’t wait to share day #3!



Quinn’s First Trip to Traverse City/Suttons Bay, MI!

Good morning!! How are you doing? I’ve been so looking forward to sharing this trip with y’all! If you’ve followed this blog for a few years- you may know how special Traverse City, Michigan is to me and my fam. My mom was raised there, and my sister and I spent many weeks in the summers and winters there. And the cherry on top.. (pun totally intended as TC is the Cherry Capital of the world)- DJ proposed to me at my Aunt’s house on the water in Suttons Bay (right next to TC). Every time we go back it feels like home away from home. Not only was it special introducing Quinn to the place that holds such a cherished place in our hearts, but we also got to introduce her to the people we cherish there: her Great Aunt Terry, Uncle Pat and Great Grandma and Grandpa!

We handled the drive the exact same way we did for the wedding trip to Illinois, leaving at midnight on September 2nd and driving through the night. It worked well again!

When we arrived, a glowing sunrise over the placid bay greeted us.

After we pulled in the driveway, overwhelmed by excitement and exhaustion, we unpacked and took in the gorgeous morning. The air itself in TC is different- it is much cleaner and fresher than our air here in OH. Ahh 😌.

My Aunt Terry and Quinn were instant best friends!! Every time Quinn spotted my Aunt throughout the weekend she would just light up! Also, their dog, Stout, was so sweet with her. He was her little guard dog. We stayed in the downstairs bedroom, and if he ever heard Quinn cry he’d come sit at the stairs to check on her. It was adorable. Reminded us of Moose (who was staying with his second mom, Marie, for the weekend).

I tried to nap, but Quinn was not having it! She was ready to take on the day- so we got her changed, dressed and headed upstairs for all the fun. I gave myself an IV of coffee (I wish, it really was an extra half a cup- not quite the same, but it did the trick) and rallied! 

We spent the day catching up with my Aunt Terry and Uncle Pat and took it super easy. We went on a beautiful and peaceful morning walk together in the neighborhood to kick off the day. It helped get the cob webs off from the drive.

The rest of the day, we just relaxed between Quinn’s feeds and naps in the carrier. They have a treadmill too, so I just used that to get her to fall asleep if she refused to just conk out while I was stationary in my carrier. It will be nice when we can get her to nap in a pack n’ play, so I don’t miss out on time visiting with people when we travel. Or when they visit us.

She sure was happy to be in Northern, Michigan. In the afternoon, DJ watched Quinn while I snuck in a little run (that helped wake me up more than anything!), and then we all gathered outside prior to dinner with various beverages. 

My Aunt had this tremendous dealcoholized sauvignon blanc. It was a dead ringer for a sauvignon blanc! While I can technically have a drink here and there as long as I carefully time out the feeds/bottles, I rarely do because it’s more trouble than it’s worth. So, I was excited to try out this wine! It was delicious! Highly recommend if you’re looking for a good dealcoholized wine. 

We sipped our “wine”, or beer in the guys’ case, and took turns holding the Sweet Pea <3.
First time trying on some shades! Lol. 
While soaking up the fresh air, canvas-worthy views and family time- Quinn happily chomped on my Aunt’s finger. My Aunt suddenly became wide-eyed and announced she felt Quinn had a tooth!! I took a look and, sure enough, one was fighting to come to the surface. The rest of the weekend she was teething, and my Aunt had just happened to get her the cutest little onesie complimented by a bamboo teething ring! 
Eating at my Aunt Terry and Uncle Pat’s feels like we’re dining at a restaurant whenever we’re there. They are awesome cooks. For this meal, we had a melt-in-your-mouth halibut with a cous cous medley and brussels sprouts .
She was all about it! We dipped her toes into the water for the first time too. Harder to read her on this one- she was entirely stoic. Haha.

The next day, September 3rd, was a very special day! We were all up at about 6:30 AM and had breakfast & coffee. I had oatmeal with berries, coconut yogurt and almond butter. MMmm. 

One thing I had been craving was a proper good cafe au lait from a coffee shop (I learned how the UK use the word “proper”, and I just love it, so I’m now incorporating it into my own speech). UK friends, let me know if I botched that, lol. Anyway- on my way to visit my grandparents in their new residence, we stopped into Aroma’s for said au lait. Lemme tell ya, it was everything I dreamed of and more. It’s wild to think the last time I was at this coffee shop, I was studying for my NCLEX… one of my first blog posts. Nostalgia. *Sigh*. 

Next up- a highlight of this trip- Quinn meeting her Great Grandma & Grandpa!!! MY HEART!


They were beaming ear to ear the entire time we were there. It was sooo sweet & so special. She was soon due for a nap after we got there, so I put her in my carrier, we all sat outside and chatted while she snoozed.

Then it was time for more cuddles and pictures!

We did a round of tummy time before leaving so she could show off- both her outfit which had little mini cherries all over & her strong TT skills!

While we were at G & Gs, DJ and Uncle Pat went golfing. DJ has never golfed there before, so it was a fun new experience for him!

When we got home, DJ took over and I snuck in another run. It felt amazing!

For dinner, we had these juicy chicken thighs from the air fryer (I must make at home) with french fries and salad- so. good. 
Then it was time to hit the hay. The lack of sleep was catching up with us, so we went to bed a little extra early that evening. 

The next day, September 4th, we all felt ready to go! Especially this girl!

I made sure to capture at least one sunrise too (I know you have seen a sunrise before, but have you seen this sunrise?! ;)). They are so beautiful there!

After breakfast, we went on a nice walk, had a really chill morning filled with tummy time & naps- then my Aunt picked up my G & G to come over for the afternoon to watch football, hang out all together and then have dinner.

While everyone was watching football, I went through a box of pictures and historical documents from my G & Gs home & Quinn napped in my carrier. They and my Aunt said to take whatever we wanted. I was shocked to see so much history in these boxes- there were letters and pictures probably from the 1800s! I could have looked through everything all day long, and I plan to continue sifting through it next time we’re there. It was so fascinating to me.

Dinner was a refreshing salad with perfectly grilled steaks,  mushroom & corn. We managed to have Quinn sit on our laps for the meals, and she did really well! Makes me hopeful we can start taking her out to restaurants with us!

It’s corn! 

A couple family pics before ending the night (Quinn was snoozin’ at this point, and, don’t worry, I readjusted Quinn in the carrier after this- she was getting a bit low!). 


Uncle Pat took some family pics for us on the dock before we called it a night! Clearly, we’re still working on the smiling for the fam pics ;). 

We had planned on trying to leave at midnight again that evening so we could have actual labor day to get ready for the week. We tried to go to sleep, but Quinn was not having it. DJ and I decided it may be more productive to just leave right then (around 8 pm) rather than waiting until midnight. It did take a lot of soothing and one last big feed to get her to finally settle in the car, but the rest of the trip was smooth after that! 

And that sums up a very special trip to TC <3. 

Thanks for sharing in it with us! Cannot WAIT to go back!

Question for you:

  • Do you have a ‘home away from home’? 



Cravings, Baked Goods & A Trip to TC!

Hey everyone!! I figured I would do a hodge-podge type post of all the miscellaneous happenings from the end of February into March. I have quite the random spread for you today!

The evening of February 18th, I had to have my (pregnancy safe) sushi fix. I got all fully cooked sushi that were made fresh that day (one is vegetable and the rest are various California rolls with cooked crab). It really hit the spot.

My whole pregnancy I thought I would want sushi (mainly the raw stuff) after delivery as my first big meal- but I think that’s changed!! I have wanted nothing more than a big ol’ deli sandwich with tons of meat and cheese from Jimmy John’s. I told Deej he’s on JJ duty- Priorities, priorities!

Saturday, February 19th, was a very productive day for both of us. We got a lot done around the house and work-related stuff accomplished too. Moose caught up on enough sleep for the three, well technically four ;)), of us.

That day, I was craving some Panera. I got their green goddess salad as well as their turkey chili and added some cheese on top. This was all soo good! I also live for those baguettes.

Side note: We were having a discussion with a group of friends the other day, and a lot of people apparently don’t like Panera in general! I didn’t know this was a possibly commonly felt sentiment? I do think it can be overpriced, but I also think the food is pretty good/it has good options when you need something quick. Curious your thoughts on it!

Sunday, February 20th, we went to our nephew’s basketball game.

It was adorable watching this age group play! He did really well too- lotsa assists and even had a basket! He was so selfless with the ball. He made us all proud, but especially his Uncle DJ who played through college.

That afternoon we took Moose for a walk before getting back to the work grind.

Monday, February 21st, I woke up feeling a bit under the weather with a cold. After a day of tomato soup & grilled cheese I felt a little better. I feel like I really turned the corner a few days later.

I tried to get outside for some fresh air that week and keep up with my walks. I remember on this walk in particular it felt like spring really may be approaching! It was a tad warmer than usual, the snow was melting into the side of the sidewalks, and the sun was out in all its glory. Could it be we survived our first Ohio winter since being back? (Spoiler alert: Despite my naïveté optimism, we still had a couple months of winter left considering it just snowed a few days ago in April, loll).

February 22nd, I received a Babylist box for creating a registry. I loved using Babylist because you can add anything from any store on it.

I was impressed with all the little samples of things that came in here- bottles, belly butter, diapers, lotion, fridababy products, a Burt’s Bees newborn onesie, coupons and even more I’m sure I’m forgetting!

February 24th we took off on our Charleston trip documented here, here and here 🙂

March 3rd, I had a hair appointment scheduled at Agape Organic Salon and Spa. I drove a little further since this place uses all organic products and no harsh chemicals. I hadn’t had my hair touched up since August 2021, so it was time. (Of course, I made sure with my OB it truly was safe before going).  The stylist did a great job- she did as little as possible just to blend some of the balayage and stayed away from my scalp. I was shocked how I didn’t smell any fumes while she did my hair compared to the usual stuff used. The final result was super subtle, natural, blended & exactly what I was hoping for. Thinking I can probably go another six months at least without getting it done again!

March 4th, we ordered Piada Italian Street Food for dinner. DJ always gets their carbonara which is incredible, and this time he got it with their hot fried chicken. He also tried their lobster bisque which was yummy too. (Can you tell I sampled a little bit of everything he ordered?). I was craving veggies, so I got the create your own salad with a side of their basil pesto and green harissa. Also, a must order every time is the parmesan piada stick. It’s so goood. And their brownies are deliciously dense & fudgy too!

March 5th, we ran errands around town. We took Moose man with us because we knew all the driving would likely make him tired, and a tired Moose is a good Moose 😉

That day, we did have a bit of a scare. Baby girl was active enough in the morning (she met her kick count, but maybe wasn’t as active as usual- although she does have the occasional quieter day). That afternoon, DJ and I went on a long walk enjoying the beautiful day, and when we got back from the walk I didn’t feel her move hardly at all for a couple hours except for a bout of hiccups. I started to panic when all the normal tricks to get her to move weren’t working. I called my OB, and he said the hiccups were reassuring, but to do kick counts again and come in if she didn’t meet them. We were due to babysit my niece and nephew around that time, so we zipped over their house, and I filled in my sister-in-law on what was going on. She gave me some orange juice she had on hand, and I started the new round of kick counts. I knew DJ could hold down the fort if I needed to go to triage. Thankfully after about 20/30 mins, she started moving again, she met her kicks, and my niece even got to feel her move ❤️. It was so scary, but I was/am so relieved she is ok! The next few days after that she was more active than ever, so I think she was just resting up.

Once I was reassured all was ok, I was able to really enjoy and be present for that time with Kate and Will <3. We missed Jack, but he was busy at the Monsters Game representing the Boy Scouts on the rink during halftime!

We had the best time with them!

On Sunday, March 6th, I drove to Medina for a maternity shoot that was more intimate, focused on documenting my pregnant belly <3. This was one of the greatest experiences, and I highly encourage any pregnant momma to do it! I felt really empowered during the shoot, and I will absolutely treasure these pictures forever! Shout out to my photographer, Rachael, who made me so comfortable and knew just how to capture this special time.

That evening was gorgeous, so we took Moose out for a walk taking advantage of every second of daylight.

By this point in the day, I was ravenous. DJ had already enjoyed some leftovers for dinner, but I was ready to chow down on something specific- gyros. I wanted the usual lamb gyro, but the veggie one looked delicious too- so naturally I ordered both… and a side of jojos. It was all so good. 

I had a little leftover the next day, so at least I got two meals out of being indecisive, hah.

March 8th, I started meal prepping for the postpartum period. I try to make one crockpot meal to freeze per week. So far I have about six in the freezer. If you have any freezable meals that you love, please send them my way!

March 8th and 9th, Moose and I got lotsa walking in!

Here is post-walk with his sleepy head on the pregnancy pillow.

The afternoon of March 9th I got an exciting delivery! Allie over at Living My Full Life has an awesome blog and Etsy shop, Braid Bakery.  When I saw she was selling the most eye-catching Easter chocolate covered Oreos, I had to get some. When I was checking out, I also threw in some gluten free brownies and she generously gifted some of her granola.

We were blown away by how good this all was! She is so incredibly talented!

That afternoon, I met up with my friend, Kaitlyn, in downtown Hudson at the cutest little coffee shop, Heartwood Coffee Roasters.

It was a gorgeous afternoon, even if a little chilly, so I grabbed some hot tea, and we ventured back outside to walk around downtown Hudson. Also, I have to come back here to try some of these baked goods! I have my eye on those croissants.

The walk was filled with lots of sunshine and wonderful, soul-fueling conversation 💕.

I worked on Thursday and then headed out on Friday, March 11th, to Traverse City to see my grandparents. I almost missed my connection due to my first flight being significantly delayed, and I had my first Braxton Hicks contraction while trying to speed walk/sprint to the gate- no fun! But I made it!

Anyway, I wish DJ could have joined, but unfortunately it was tough to schedule with work. It had been wayyy too long since I’d seen my grandparents, and I knew this was probably my last weekend I could travel while pregnant. They are living in a new residential home that is just perfect for them, and I was excited to see it in person. And I was also thrilled, of course, to see them in person and for them to see me pregnant 💕.

It was so wonderful to be reunited. They were so sweet with the baby and talked to her a lot through the weekend.

That evening they gave me a tour of the building, we played a couple rounds of pool and had dinner in the beautiful dining room.

They both are way better at pool than I am and easily beat me, haha.

When I left later that evening, I realized I could probably eat a whole other dinner after the long day of travel! I ended up going to Poppycocks (a family and local favorite) to pick up some food and took it back to the hotel with me (usually I’d stay with my Aunt & Uncle, but they were on a road trip).

I couldn’t believe how much of an appetite I still had- I chowed down on some pita, a roasted veggie platter, hummus and bread while watching an episode of Married at First Sight. It really hit the spot! Also that show is nuts, and I love it.

I returned to my G & Gs in the morning for breakfast bright and early. It was such a yummy breakfast, and we felt fueled up for the day.

After breakfast, my Grandpa and I dueled off in several rounds of pool. And of course, he won most of them.

We had lunch in the dining room and then drove to the mall. I thought it would be so special for them to help me pick out a couple outfits for baby girl 💕.

It was so adorable watching them dote over the clothes and take their time making a decision of what they wanted for their great-granddaughter <3. Makes me all emotional just thinking about it!

They settled on these adorable gems below! My grandma chose the pink set and my grandpa chose the overalls and sweatshirt. He said they both spoke him, so of course, we had to get both 🙂

I can’t wait for them to see her in these outfits!

We did some grocery shopping in the afternoon and then got ready for dinner.

That evening, we had plans to go out on the town! We had reservations at Artisan located inside the Delamar Hotel on the water in downtown TC.

We had an early reservation, so it was fairly empty when we arrived, but it filled up quickly! The interior was stunning.

Artisan is a fairly new restaurant (I believe late summer/fall of 2021), and my G & G had never been.  They kept saying how amazed they were with the renovations since they’d last been, and they even ran into a couple friends.

We started out with some hearty and delish bread & butter.

And I managed to sneak in a photo of these two cuties!!

To our delight, it was actually restaurant week- so we were able to try a bunch of menu items at a great price.

For starters, we enjoyed this brilliant presentation of roasted crudités with hummus, pomegranate, and kale pistou.

My G & G both tried some of the butternut squash bisque and didn’t leave a drop behind.

For our mains, I had their roasted chicken which was beyond good.

They both had their steak for restaurant week & raved about how great all the food was.

Oh, but it didn’t stop there. Included in the restaurant week menu was dessert! We tried two- the butterscotch bread pudding & salted caramel cheesecake.

I think the pictures speak to just how delicious these desserts were!

After dinner, we said our goodbyes (which was soo difficult), and then I had my flight out early that next morning. It was a short trip, but one chock full of amazing memories with them!

My grandma also sent us home with some sweet cards <3.

On the plane ride home I read as much as possible out of Newborn 101. I know there is no real way to truly prepare to be a parent, and you have to be able to be flexible, but reading and absorbing some info gives me a touch of confidence having a general framework to work within. This book is also full of awesome tips & suggestions!

I couldn’t wait to see Mr. Moose and DJ, but I already missed my grandparents so much. And that wraps up through March 13th!

Thanks for reading, and next up I’ll share about the baby shower!



Our Babymoon to Charleston Part Three!

Gooood morning! (or afternoon or evening- whenever you may be reading this).

It’s a rainy day here, and my favorite days to blog are for sure rainy mornings. I’m ignoring my to-do list that is longer than it’s ever been, and giving myself one solid hour to write about & share our final day in Charleston, SC!

The morning of February 26th, Rach sent us a picture of Moose and Trotter. So cute how sleepy they both look. We were reassured knowing Moose was in the best of hands with her & I know he loved having his friend Trotter there.

We headed out right away to soak up the sunny morning.

We immediately went to Miller’s All Day for breakfast knowing there would be a heckuvah wait. It was about an hour and a half, so we decided to just walk around town and stop in shops to pass the time.

First stop- a Christmas store!

We usually don’t get souvenirs from the places we travel to, but we decided it would be fun to start collecting an ornament from each place we visit. This is the one we ended up getting!

The place the ghost tour started the night prior seemed like a neat little area of town, so we decided to explore it a little more in the daylight.

At Historic Charleston City Market, there were many vendors selling a sundry of artistic DIY creations. You could also find benne wafers just about every few feet!

When we were on our ghost tour, we noted Byrd’s had a sign displaying free cookie samples. As much as we were tempted to ditch the ghosts for some free samples, we resisted, but thankfully we made it back to enjoy some the following morning!

I tried a lemon one and a chocolate one. Since they are more crunchy cookies versus doughy, they would go wonderfully with some coffee! They had great flavor.

We were about due back for our reservation, so we started the walk back to Miller’s. I was ready to CHOW DOWN.

And we’re back!

We were seated immediately once we checked back in. How cute is this place.

I ordered a decaf coffee, and DJ had the nitro cold brew.

Now for the foooood. This was a brunch we will not forget!!

I had their frittata with eggs, grits, roasted veggies, whipped feta and mixed greens. I have stayed away from feta most of my pregnancy since it can be a risky cheese for listeria, but I made sure this was pasteurized- and the fact that it was heated up on top of the eggs made me feel better. It was phenYUMenal!

DJ had their signature fried chicken biscuit. I had one bite and was blown away by how good this was!! A must try. 

And we could not resist sharing a side of their waffle with sorghum, caramel and meringue. Every bite was heavenly. 

10/10 brunch!

Our big tourist stop on the agenda this day was visiting Magnolia Plantation & Gardens. Magnolia houses the oldest public gardens in America. I like this quote from their website to sum it up, “Unlike most of America’s gardens, which are formal and seek to control nature, Magnolia cooperates with nature to create a tranquil landscape like Eden where humanity and nature are in harmony”.

It was stunning & truly peaceful. We enjoyed every moment being out there. I only interrupted the tranquility about three times for a bladder break, but besides that it was wonderful in every way!

There was a Japanese garden with bamboo, many beautiful flowers on the different trails, quaint bridges, a garden maze and even a Biblical Garden amongst much more. I’ll just let the pictures tell the story here 🙂

And ya know I had to sneak in a bump pic somewhere!

DJ took the picture above with the bee-have to give him photo cred for that one!

I don’t even think we were there in peak blooming season, and it was still breathtaking. Of course, the pics cannot do justice!

After Magnolia, we decided to drive around to different areas of Charleston from Mount Pleasant to Sullivan’s Island to the beaches along Isle of Palms.

We then headed back to the Mansion to rest our feet a minute before dinner.

On the porch in the mansion around 5 pm, they serve hors d’oeuvres and wine for guests. I sampled a little bit of everything (minus the wine), but made sure to save my appetite for a great dinner we had planned.

We popped up to the Cupola one last time and then went back to the room to get ready for dinner.

We snagged a picture in front of the glorious stained glass mansion doors and then headed across the lawn to the restaurant on site, Circa 1886.

This meal was included in our babymoon package, and we wanted to make sure to save this for our last meal because we knew it was going to be a real treat.

This is one of the best meals we have ever had beginning to end – from the service to the food itself to all the creativity in between. It was a fun, romantic and delicious meal!

First, since the waitress knew we were on a babymoon, she immediately brought out a “Spirit Less Sippers” menu. I ordered the Faux-jito and DJ thought the menu looked so good, he ordered their Baby Burro. These were some yummy drinks to start out the evening!