Friday, June 27, 2014

5 on Friday

Happy Friday! It looks like the gals are going to be taking a break from the 5 on Friday link-up so I thought I'd do one final 5 to wrap things up for the Summer. I may continue to do some kind of weekly wrap up until 5 on Friday comes back this fall, but we'll see.

My wonderful husband bought me a FitBit and I'm a little obsessed. It probably doesn't help that 2 of  my friends have one and we can compete to see who gets the most steps. It does lots of amazing things, but I find myself using the step tracker and calories burned the most useful of all the features.

The week after you come home from vacation is brutal. I've looked at our vacation pictures so many times this week and it makes me both happy and slightly depressed at the same time. I've honestly been trying to figure out a way I could make a career out of being a professional vacationer. 

I need a festive 4th of July recipe that's not the typical strawberry/blueberry dessert. I'm thinking about one of these?

Sunday is Jack's birthday party since we were at the beach on his actual birthday. I know I said I was going to just go with an all blue theme, but when I saw this idea I knew it was prefect. Jack LOVES to eat and who doesn't love The Hungry Caterpillar. 

How is June almost over? This month has flown by and I can't believe next week marks the beginning of July which also happened to be my husband's birthday month. I'm also determined to make a bucket list for the rest of our summer to help us remember some of the things we still want to do.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Jack: 12 Month Update

Jackers! The day has officially come and gone and you are a whole One Year Old! I honestly can't believe an entire year has gone by since we welcomed you into the world.

You are so sweet, happy, and pretty dang adorable. You've brought so much love into our lives and your big, toothy smile instantly brightens my day. You're starting to develop your own personality, complete with little melt-downs and all. With each day that passes I see less of my little baby and more of a toddler and this excites me and makes me sad all at the same time.

I can't wait to see how much you change and grow in this next year. I'm hoping time slows down and that I'm able to soak in every last bit of baby you have left. I plan to rock and cuddle you and sing You Are My Sunshine until you fight me off and then I plan to do it some more. We just love you so much.

Here's a look back at these last 12 months.

12 Months!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

We're Baacckkk!

We're back from vacation and it's bittersweet. By the last day I was ready for my own bed and to walk around bare foot without sand sticking to my feet, but by the time we got home and everything unpacked I was already missing the sound of the beach and our incredible beach house. 

I had grand plans of getting posts scheduled for while we were gone, but time got away from me and I figured having a packed suitcase was more important than a recipe post. I'll do a full recap of our trip later this week. Until then, he's two of my favorite pictures from the week.

Pure joy at an ice cream shop. 

Playing hard in the sand means sand everywhere. Even in little baby eyelashes.

Friday, June 13, 2014

5 on Friday

Happy Friday everyone! We've had tons of rain this week so I hope the weather cooperates for our beach vacation. Let's get to it, shall we?

Yesterday Ben had a field trip with his school to the St. Louis Zoo. The rain held off until we left and we had a great time. Last year the zoo opened a new Sea Lion exhibit with one of those underwater tunnels where the animals swim over you. Such a neat view of these adorable animals!

I've been thinking about these Sweet Tea Lemonade Mojitos ever since Kristin over at Iowa Girl Eats posted the recipe. I think they would be great for the beach, don't you?

Ben went to his first overnight church camp at the beginning of the week. It was only for one night and two days but I missed him like crazy. Of course he had tons of fun and didn't miss us one bit. Ben's cousin's church puts on this camp every year and I think it's so great they have something like this for the younger kids. Did I mention it was in the woods? I went to a church camp growing up but it wasn't quite this rugged. 

I've never met a baby more obsessed with Mexican food, especially salsa. Watching him dip his chip in it is beyond funny. He doesn't actually eat the chip he just licks the salsa off and then re-dips it. You obviously don't want to be stuck having to share the salsa bowl with him.


Have a wonderful weekend!!!
Monday, June 9, 2014

Weekend Recap

Happy Monday Friends! This week is a short one for me since we leave for the beach in just a few days.  

After the kids went to bed on Saturday night, J and I had a date night at home and watched Non-Stop with Liam Neeson. It was a pretty good action flick that will leave you tying to guess who the bad guy is all the way to the end. 

Ben is such a great big brother and always trying to teach Jack what to do and not to do. Here he was reminding him that we don't eat chalk :)

There's something so sweet about a sleeping baby and I can't stop watching him.

Have you all seen the commercial from Mass Mutual about the mom of a child with special needs? It came on the tv this weekend and I was a wreck. You'll definitely need a tissue.

I've finally decided on a theme for Jack's 1st birthday and finished designing the invitations last night. After going back and forth over a theme I decided to go with blue. Just the regular ole color blue. Easy, classic, and it leaves me with so many choices. You'll have to wait to see what the actual invites look like, but I did come across this banner idea while browsing Pinterest. 

Cheers to the start of a great week!
Friday, June 6, 2014

5 on Friday

Happy Friday Friends!

This week's 5 is going to be a little different. Last night Ben graduated for preschool and it was the cutest thing ever. I may have cried several times. For today's 5 on Friday I'm going to list my top 5 moments from the last 5 years with our little guy who is not so little anymore. In no particular order...

Ben did amazing throughout the entire ceremony! He smiled, sang, received his diploma, and even let me a take million photos afterwards without whining. I am so proud of him. And in case you need a cry, listen to the Bruno Mars song, 123. Then imagine a bunch of 5 year olds singing it. 

Birth Day.
I know he was this small, but yet I can't believe it looking at him now.

The First Christmas.
So excited even though he had no idea what it was all about.

Playing Baseball. 
I've loved watching him become involved with sports and the growth he makes with each and every practice and game.

Becoming A Big Brother. 
There are no words to describe how I felt at this moment except complete and total overwhelming love.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Bachelorette Hits Chicago {Places, Food, & Reviews)

Today I'm telling you all about where we stayed, what we ate, and what we thought about it all. To see pictures of people not just our food, check out this post from earlier.

Let's start with our hotel. We stayed at the Omni on Michigan Ave in a double bed suite. I would definitely recommend this hotel if you're going with a larger group. The couch in the living room pulls out to a queen size bed and you can also request a rollaway from the front desk. The location of the hotel was perfect and right in heart of everything. We were directly across from the Apple Store and next door to Zara on Michigan Ave. The hotel staff was extremely friendly and housekeeping put up with our multiple requests for more towels without so much as a sigh.
pictures from the hotel website

Another great thing about the Omni is their bar and restaurant, 676. Our plan was to eat lunch when we arrived in the city, but due to a later start and LOTS of traffic, we ended up checking into our hotel around 4:30pm. We didn't want to eat a big meal since we had dinner reservations at 8:00pm, so we headed to the hotel's restaurant where we tried different cocktails and shared some appetizers. Drinks at 676 run anywhere from $8-$15 dollars with beers being a little less expensive. This was about the typical price range for drinks at most places we went to. Appetizers were also pretty standard at $7-$15 dollars, but a lot of the dishes were shareable. 

 I got the Blood Orange Whiskey Sour and honestly, it wasn't my favorite. It was super strong and I couldn't taste any of the blood orange flavor. I happened to pick Alissa's drink for her and of course it was delicious! I can't remember the name, but it had champagne and strawberries in it. 

We all shared the spinach dip which I can be pretty picky about. Most spinach dips are just so so but this one was delicious.

We also ordered the shrimp flatbread pizza. I'd never had shrimp on a pizza and I had all but convinced myself I wouldn't like it. You guys. All of us were talking about this afterwards. It was at the top of the list of best things I've ever eaten. 

Later in the evening we headed to RPM Italian, Giuliana and Bill Rancic's new restaurant. Unless you want to wait a long time, I would highly suggest making reservations. We got there a little before our 8:00pm reservation and after checking in had a drink at the bar. We didn't have to wait too long and when our table was ready they sent a text to my phone. I was really hoping this place would live up to the hype and it didn't disappoint.

Sorry for the picture quality. It was pretty dark inside. 

We all shared a couple of appetizers and these stuffed roasted peppers were the perfect lite bite. 

We also ordered the garlic truffle bread. Truffle + bread, enough said.

One thing to note about RPM is that all of the portions are relatively small (or small compared to other US restaurants). I ordered the lobster ravioli and it was delicious. All of the pasta is homemade and you could definitely tell. The prices for the pasta dishes were comparable to what you would pay at an Olive Garden ($15-$20), but obviously way better quality.

Make sure to add RPM to your list of places to eat if you love Italian, however if you're looking for large portions and shareable entrees, you may find yourself disappointed.

The bellman at our hotel hooked us up with the best cab and driver who took us and picked us up from RPM. 

Saturday we ate breakfast at the Corner Bakery near our hotel. For a chain restaurant the breakfast was pretty standard, but good. Next time, I'd skip a chain and head to a more local place like Brunch.

After some serious shopping we headed to Gino's East on Dearborn. If you're heading to Ginos you'll want to note that there are SEVERAL Gino's locations. So many in fact that half of our party went to a completely different one than the other half of us. The Ginos on Dearborn is newer and has much more of a pub feel. If you want the Ginos where you can write on the wall, this is NOT that location. The weather was nice so we sat outside on their cute little patio. This location also seemed way less crowded and we didn't have to wait for a table.

It's not a bachelorette party without some blueberry flavored shots with lunch. 

No trip to Chicago is complete without eating deep dish pizza. We got the vegetarian and as always, it didn't disappoint. One piece per person is usually enough so order accordingly and remember the pizza's often take 45 minutes to bake because they are so thick,

Before dinner on Saturday night a few of us headed back up to 676 to relax and grab a cocktail after a long day of walking around the city. I tried my first Moscow Mule and it was much better than I expected. It is the perfect refreshing drink and not too sweet. Plus, how cute are these coper mugs!

For dinner on Saturday night we ate at the Packing House. Looking at the menu you might be a little scared, but trust me, this is the place to try things you normally wouldn't. We all got different dishes and tried each others and every single dish was fantastic. I highly recommend the lamb and crab spaghettini, and the roasted chicken. The restaurant is pretty pricey and dishes range from $18-$40. The restaurant's also about a 10 minute car/taxi ride from the city so plan accordingly.

After dinner we took a taxi to Howl at the Moon, a dueling piano bar. This place was super packed and there was hardly any room to even move around. If we had to do it over again we would have reserved a table and gotten there earlier. There were several other bachelor/bachelorette parties that night as well. The concierge at our hotel had passes for free cover, which was $10 so if you stay at a hotel with a concierge, take advantage of this service. They usually have passes for free covers at bars and may even be able to make reservations that you couldn't get.

And that's it! Feel ready to conquer Chicago? Email me with any other questions or additional recommendations.