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!

<3,

Mackenzie

The Cherry Capitol- TC, MI!

I am about to blog about one of my favorite places ever, and there is no way I can possibly do it justice, but you bet I will do my best! The first trip DJ and I took after graduation in April was to Traverse City, MI. I have taken a while to blog about this trip which severely throws off the order of events, but that’s okay because I want to make sure that I hit all the highlights and articulate accurately what a wonderful place this destination is.

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I have gone to Traverse City since I was a little girl. From hunting for the coveted Petoskey stones in the unusually cold water to sampling cherries from family friends’ cherry farms to soaking up the fresh michigan air in my lungs as I skied along the  most breathtaking views, my memories of this spectacular place are numerous. My mom is originally from this area, and I am lucky to have my grandparents live on one side of the notorious peninsula and my Aunt and Uncle right across the bay. **FUN FACT: DJ and I actually got engaged at my Aunt and Uncles’ beautiful waterfront home. I will have to share that story sometime ;). When planning our summer, Traverse City was at the top of the list.

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Why not do the most peaceful exercise in the most peaceful place?

The first night we arrived my aunt and uncle prepared us the most fabulous dinner. They are the type of people that seem to just excel at anything and everything they set their minds to. Cooking is no exception. My uncle prepared some of the most delectable salmon we have ever had followed by perfectly cooked veggies from my aunt and an absolutely refreshing salad. We still talk about “Uncle Pat’s Salmon” now. We have been to several restaurants for salmon and said, “Well- still not as good as Uncle Pat’s!”. The next day I was supposed to run the “run michigan cheap” half marathon. I may have forgone that race considering it was 30 degrees, snowing, and at 7 am. I decided to do instead ten miles on the treadmill and watch Flashpoint on Netflix. That show will keep you on the end of your seat (or on the end of the treadmill?). If you have Netflix, I highly recommend it. It made the ten miles fly by. We had a yummy parfait for breakfast and headed out on the town.

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At this point in time I was studying hard for my NCLEX (nursing boards), so DJ and I went to this delicious coffee shop called Aroma’s. It was the BEST almond milk latte I have had in my entire life. Look, I used to be a barista so I know this stuff ;). We studied for a few hours, I think DJ watched some games on his phone (or something sport related- who knows), then went back to get ready for lunch.

This is going to be a food post isn’t it? Yes, very much.

What was for lunch?! Well let me tell you… everything organic you could dream of. My Aunt and Uncle shop at multiple grocery stores and farmers markets to only buy the most organic and clean ingredients. I love staying at their house to eat all their food (…and hanging out with them is a major bonus, hehe). This little booger was the most delicious salad I may have ever had with multicolored carrots, tons of root vegetables, hummus, etc. etc.

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After lunch, I continued to study a bit and then relax. My Aunt and Uncle are super easy-going people; I feel that I can just veg-out and not worry about a thing when I’m in their home. DJ always jokes that I am going to be my Aunt when I’m older; we have very similar personalities, and I take that as quite the compliment. That night they treated us to a wonderful dinner at the restaurant Blu in Glen Arbor. I have never been anywhere like this. It has fine dining cuisine, but the most relaxing environment. You enjoy your meal overlooking the gorgeous water and are surrounded by only about ten other tables. It is the most quaint fine-dining experience I have ever had the privilege of enjoying. The staff was incredibly hospitable and knew many patrons by name. Ohhhh, and the food was insane. The menu isn’t super large, but anything you order will be fantastic. We tried a vast array of blue crab puffs with a sweet chili sauce, escargot with parsley and garlic butter, foie graus in a cherry sauce, and mixed greens with sherry vinaigrette. That’s a lot you say? Well those are just the apps. For our entrees we sampled (meaning devoured in their entirety) the walleye and a trout dish that was cooked to absolute perfection. I can’t give too much away because you just have to make your way there yourself. (HINT: order their flourless chocolate cake and myer’s rum soaked pineapple cake for dessert)! We wined and dined over amazing conversation, nonstop laughter, the most calming views, and exquisite cuisine.

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Are pant-suits back in style yet?

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I thought the pant suit was cute and all until I had to use the restroom. Then I realized what a struggle that would be-trying to unzip that thing! I held it all night, believe it or not…most would not.We all went back home with full stomachs and happy hearts. Nothing beats time with family.  And nothing beats access to the restroom after you have held it for three hours.

The next morning the two chefs went to work and made us huevos rancheros. Uhm, hello, how have I gone my whole life without these?! They made mine with vegan sausage (which tastes no different than regular- I am telling you!). We were stuffed like turkeys on thanksgiving, said our goodbyes, and headed off across the bay to see my grandparents (aka the coolest g-rents that ever lived).

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On our way to the other side of the Peninsula, we stopped at the cutest little winery. I told DJ I had to pop in. It looked like a mom-and-pop shop from the outside. On the inside it was a modern, sleek-looking wine tasting bar- I didn’t see any touristy little giftshop (you know- the ones with the spinning keychain holders that never spell your name right). So at 11 am on a Tuesday we are the only ones standing in this wine cellar. The girl that was working was super friendly, and we got to chatting for a while. I did end up sampling just a few sips of a couple wines because A. I felt weird if we just left without buying anything after chatting for that extended period of time and B. Wine.

Next, we went to the real touristy side of the city in downtown Traverse City. Downtown TC is my type of paradise. It has the cutest bakeries, gift shops, antique shops, unique family owned stores you can imagine. Despite the fact that I have been there a million times it never gets old! I usually spend hours upon hours just gallivanting through the numerous stores- especially Cherry Republic. *CUE DRAMATIC MUSIC*. This little shop is always packed because they offer cherry jams, cherry covered espresso beans, cherry salsa, cherry malted milk balls- need I go on? They allow samplings of many of the items and also offer a diverse menu of food choices. DJ and I ordered some soup to warm up while we were there. We also stopped in a coffee shop called Espresso Bay so I could squeeze in a little studying.

The trip in town would not be complete without visiting the olive oil store, Fustinis. I stocked up on their basil olive oil, 18 year old balsamic vinegar, and espresso balsamic (which is palatable on vanilla ice cream). I have tried my fair share of salad dressings but nothing tops combining some Fustini’s  basil olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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My favorite discovery of the day was the bakery called Morsels. You know how sometimes you just need “a little something sweet”? Well that’s me all the time, and this place does the trick. It has a bunch of different delicious flavored “Morsels” you can choose from. Some of the best included: Brownie points (our personal favorite), Nuts and Berries (the TC award winning favorite), and Seventh Heaven which had graham cracker, coconut, and butterscotch chips. We went back right before we left (to go back to Indiana) and stocked up on a few more for our road trip home.

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I just loved this sign
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After exploring the great down town, we headed over to our Grandma and Grandpa’s for some quality time. We caught up on all the happenings while enjoying one of those home cooked meals only a grandma can whip up. They are two of the coolest individuals I have ever met. They have been together since they were teenagers and have the most incredible stories. As I get older the stories become more and more  fascinating. They also are incredibly sage; I call my Grandma often for advice and just to chat. She is a no-mess-around kind of lady and will give it to you straight coupled with the warmest heart and a generous spirit. My Grandpa is simply the kindest person you will ever meet (and the most hilarious). His famous line to anyone who walks through the doors is, “Me Casa es Su Casa“, and he means it. We are beyond thankful for them and treasure each and every second together.

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The next day DJ and I headed off to one of our all-time favorite locations- The Sleeping Bear Dunes. Our family would always make fun of us for how often we would visit the sandy hills during TC family get-togethers. When you experience the Dunes, you will understand why they are such a big deal!

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The two of us just turn into a couple of big kids when you put us in some sand. We could frolic all day in those parts. The sand dunes have a MASSIVE dune that you can go down and climb back up (the one we are playing on above). It takes about five to seven minutes to get down, but it can be anywhere from a thirty-minute to a two-hour hike back up depending on your condition. The dunes extend for what seems like miles, and there are multiple different starting locations you can go to in order to access the park. One year we did the strenuous four mile hike to Lake Michigan. Make sure to take water and a fresh set of legs if you ever do that one ;). DJ and I went to a couple of the side trails we have never been to before and saw a porcupine up in the tree. I’m not sure where I thought porcupines lived, but I did not expect to see one in Michigan.

On our way home we made a very necessary stop in the downtown area for Kilwin’s ice cream. This is at the top of my ice cream shop list. As soon as I am in the TC area, I begin craving the stuff like a Pavlovian dog. They also serve extraordinary truffles, toffee, fudge, candied apples, and many other goodies. I love sampling all the different fudge places on the strip too. DJ always laughs at me because I get grossly excited when I see a fudge store, but never actually buy any fudge. I think I like the concept of the tremendous amounts of flavors, the smell, and the feel of a fudge store more than the actual fudge. But I always try the samples *Guilty face*.

My grandma and grandpa are big on the traditional cocktail hour. As a kid my grandpa would make me Shirley Cocktails with a little cherry. That was the only time I ever had shirley cocktails (at Grandpa’s), so it was an absolute treat. This night we had an earlier reservation, so we skipped cocktail hour (in very Bachelorette-like fashion, all you bachelorette junkies know what I mean). However, when I was getting ready to go Grandpa knocked on my door and brought me a small glass of wine and big hug. He explained he gives Grandma wine to help her get ready. Those simple, special moments are memories I will treasure.

Wednesday night we went to an amazing restaurant called Apache Trout grill. This is a tourist and locals’ favorite in the TC area, and you best make reservations in advance to grab a table! The entire meal was beyond tasty. I am convinced their smoked whitefish dip was sent straight down from heaven. I was obsessed with the stuff and think it should be mandatory that everyone try it once in their lives. You also cannot go wrong with any of the seafood entrees. However, may I suggest the walleye with the caper beurre blanc sauce. I am a bit caper-crazy, so when I saw that the walleye came with them I jumped on board (or jumped ship- pick your pun). It exceeded my expectations!

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The next day it was time to head home. Though, we did dabble in a fantastic lunch at Poppycocks in TC before! DJ and I ran there along the Peninsula and met up with everyone (Uncle Pat, Aunt Terry, G+G). I ordered the falafel waffle. If that is not only fun to say, it was also super fun to eat! We also said our emotional goodbyes, and left with memories that forever will hold a place in our heart.

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Hope you guys find time in your lives to visit this magical place. Thanks for reading!

Wishing you more falafel waffles than you can handle,

xo <3

Mack