Surviving Week One

joshandkai3

Last week was Nick’s first week back to work full-time. I was horrified and excited to figure out what solo parenting these peanuts would be like… I had ups & downs and endured multiple meltdowns (myself included).

Having a newborn & a toddler is just as crazy as it sounds. But there were things that definitely made the week easier.

What’s Helped Me Survive

  • Mocha Overnight Oats
    This has been INCREDIBLE for several reasons:
    1) I don’t have to make breakfast for myself in the morning (it’s made the night before).
    2) I get caffeine (there’s coffee in it).
    3) I get protein (there are oats & almond milk in it).
    4) It’s delicious (chocolate).
    I’ll be posting this recipe in the days to come, but I’m sure you can whip it together with the gist I just gave you. And it tastes amazing.
    PS how have I never thought about putting coffee in with the milk when I make overnight oats?? Brilliant.
  • Toddler Toys
    More specifically, toys that keep my 2 year old pre-occupied. The toys that have done this the best is a little bowling set I got him and the “gone fishing” game.
  • Emails & Texts
    I apologize to all my wonderful friends who have left voicemails and haven’t heard back from me. As I’ve said plenty, I’m a zombie right now and lack energy for phone conversation. But what’s kept me totally sane has been being able to text and email girlfriends. Even if I don’t have energy for coffee dates or long phone chats, I love that I get some friend time this way.
  • Perspective
    The best thing I’ve been able to do over the last week has been remind myself that this season is temporary. With that, I not only begin to cherish the really little, beautiful moments, but I also find relief in knowing that things will get easier. Kai WILL sleep through the night one day and he WILL be less fragile/needy as time goes on. One day my boys will be old enough to play together and I won’t be hanging by a thread trying to cater to them both separately at once. Of course different challenges come with different seasons… but the challenges of this season will soon be over.
  • Gratitude
    Finding beauty in things as little as my morning coffee… or our new fall candle that makes our home smell like the holidays. Finding gratitude in things as big as my two precious, healthy boys & my amazing community. Looking for beautiful moments, even when I’m tired and cranky, has been surprisingly simple.
  • Comedic Relief
    Thank you, Mindy Project and New Girl for giving me some quality laughs while I’m on the verge of meltdown.
  • Baby Carrier
    Kai lives in the Ergo. Apparently I’ve got an intense snuggler on my hands… he loves being upclose and personal so whenever he gets fussy I just put him in the Ergo (that literally glues him to my chest) and all is calm again.
  • Community
    Last, but certainly not least (in fact, the most helpful), our community has been vital. We are unbelievably grateful for dear friends & family who have dropped by to say hello, bring meals, groceries &/or help with the boys… I don’t know how we’d make it without you.

What’s Been Difficult

  • Bedtime
    Trying to put down a 2 year-old while caring for a hungry/crying 3 week-old feels pretty close to impossible when you’re the only parent home. Hopefully I’ll get a good routine down for this soon.
  • Getting Out
    Getting out of the house has been very difficult, but at the same time, absolutely vital to survival. Even if it’s as simple as going on a walk with the boys in the morning… nothing frees you from the feeling of house arrest quite like actually getting out of the house.

That’s my gist for week 1 of solo parenting.

My goals for this week are to shower every day and get out of the house at least once per day. Already excited to figure out somewhat of a routine 🙂

Would love to hear from you! What’s helped other mom’s during this transition?

Advertisements

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

img_8108

My favorite season has finally begun (not like you would know it by looking around L.A.)! There are way too many things I love about the Fall: pumpkin flavored everything, changing leaves, colder weather, the beginning of school, the return of my favorite fall T.V. shows and (best part of all) the HOLIDAYS. Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas back-to-back-to-back. I cannot begin to explain my love for this season and how desperately I wish L.A. looked a little bit more like Boston or New York this time of year (I always think of the gorgeous scenes in “You’ve Got Mail” & how picturesque it must be in NY right now).

Along with the Fall starting and with having two boys, I’ve been eager to start new traditions at this time of year, one of which being this: “Welcome Fall Night”. In my head, I want to grab my three boys, decorate our house all fall-y, bake some yummy pumpkin treats and watch a fall-y movie (i.e. Nightmare Before Christmas? It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown? Harry Potter??) I attempted this the other day and totally failed… The exhaustion of having a 2.5 week old took over and I couldn’t muster the energy to make it happen. The one thing I DID manage to do was make these delicious cookies. The recipe yielded, what felt like, a billion cookies and we’ve already eaten most of them… so beware.

I will leave you with this wonderful recipe. Do you have any recipes or fall traditions you do with your families? I’d love to hear!

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup pure pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375° F.
  • Combine flour, baking soda cinnamon and salt in medium bowl.
  • Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl with electric mixer on medium until well blended.
  • Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract. Mix on low until combined. Stir in flour mixture. Batter will be soft. Fold in morsels. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

Life As a Mommy of Two

josh-kai

My first blogpost ever was written a few months after I had Josh, entitled “Life as a Mommy”. It feels crazy now to be back full circle and updating you all on “Life as a Mommy of TWO”.

Yes, I gave birth less than a couple weeks ago. Yes, I am completely sleep-deprived. But I have been eager to write, not just to give my dear friends an update, but also to really remember and cherish these moments. The first six weeks post-partum are always a blur (which is probably why everyone’s willing to have multiple children). But I want to record even the most exhausting of moments. Because one day these two cuties will be too big to snuggle with…

Here are a few updates on how life has been as a mommy of two (what’s been new, note-worthy, or totally different from round one):

Labor & Delivery

  • Labor moved a lot more quickly.
    I went into labor the exact same way both times (my water broke in the middle of the night the day before my due date), which happens to be an extremely uncommon way to go into labor. The first time, my body could not begin contracting on it’s own and I ended up being in labor for 30 hours before having an emergency c-section.
  • I had a successful VBAC!
    Luckily, my body began to go into labor on it’s own this time! I was contracting within an hour after my water breaking and was able to deliver Kai via VBAC, barely any pitocin and only after about 15 hours of labor. Still long, but technically half the time!

First Couple Weeks at Home

  • I miss Josh.
    It’s pretty drastic going from giving your son 100% of your attention down to about 10%. Josh spends the majority of his time with Nick now (since I have to nurse the baby). The other day I decided to take Josh to the park for a quick mommy-son date during Kai’s nap and as we were walking out the door, Josh turns to Nick and says “Daddy, put your shoes on!”, but when Nick told him he wasn’t joining us, Josh started to cry. And if I’m being honest, it took everything in me to not wallow in my heartbreak… that suddenly, mommy & Josh time wasn’t enough 😦 But I’m acknowledging that this may well be the season we’re in & that’s okay.
  • I wish I could give Kai 100%.
    On the flip side, it is also bizarre having a newborn, yet still needing to cater to an extremely demanding toddler. When we had Josh, we were able to put 100% focus on him, but it’s just not the same with newborn #2.
  • I’m getting out of the house much faster.
    Four days after giving birth, Nick & I had a very quick mini date night at this coffee shop right by our apartment while my aunt watched the boys. It was crazy but SO needed.
  • I’m desperate for exercise.
    The pregnancy weight seems to be dropping fairly quick (thanks to breastfeeding), but as I learned last time, even when I do return to pre-pregnancy weight, it does NOT mean my body will look the same as before. That requires work. And as per doctors orders, I’m on a “no-exercise” regimen until six weeks post-partum. I’m very eager to start treating my body right again.
  • I’m attempting to soak up the little moments.
    As tempting as it is to see this season as exhausting & full of sleep-deprivation (which is all true), I’m reminding myself continually to soak up these precious moments… ones where I get to just snuggle up with my new baby and relax, without worrying about work or any other agenda.

Favorite Items Post-Partum

  • SoundBub.
    About to make a shameless plug for my friend’s company’s product. We are in LOVE with our SoundBub (from the company WavHello), which is a portable sound soother, but also has blue tooth, which means you can play whatever you want on it from your phone or ipad. Josh is absolutely obsessed. And it’s also been super helpful for Kai.
  • Kindle.
    Makes reading while nursing or lying in bed infinitely easier.
  • Trader Joe’s Gummies
    For some reason, I’ve been intensely craving this particular snack ever since labor. My lovely friend got me three bags and, yes, I finished it all.
  • Face Masks & Dry Shampoo
    My sweet friend sent me the best care package last week, filled with goodies that let me pamper myself during this time where I feel totally un-feminine. Felt loved AND girly again.

More photos & fun to come as I get more sleep and baby starts to plump up 🙂

Chocolatey Almond Oatmeal

oatmeal

I’ve been looking for a quality oatmeal recipe that all 3 Kwok’s would love and I think I found it. This serves about 3 people and whatever you have left can easily be stored for the following morning.

When I made this, I sort of just threw things together. And then as I began to write out the recipe for you all, I had to “guess-timate” measurements (for the last 5 ingredients), so I hope those portions are accurate! Either way, it’s hard to go wrong with this. It was delicious and full of protein (note: milk, oats, almond butter). As you can see, I’ve been getting a kick out of my almond butter. If anyone knows of a place that sells it cheaper than $7/jar let me know 🙂

ENJOY!

Chocolatey Almond Oatmeal

Ingredients

  • 2 C whole milk (or any kind of milk)
  • 1.5 C rolled oats
  • 3 tsp brown sugar
  • 4 tsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 4 tsp almond butter
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • pinch (or two) of salt

Directions

  1. Pour milk into a small or medium pot, place over stove & put on med/high heat.
  2. When milk starts to bubble, turn heat down to low and add the rolled oats, stirring frequently so that milk & oats don’t burn.
  3. When oatmeal is ready (you can tell because the milk will be mostly absorbed), remove from heat.
  4. Stir in brown sugar, almond butter, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt until incorporated.**remember that cinnamon is strong and you don’t want to add too much or else it becomes over-powering… I don’t know what ‘a dash’ is numerically, but it felt like the most accurate wording. Just add a little at a time.

 

10 Things I Learned in August

img_7834

  1. I am officially a “Review Kick” user.
    Maybe I’m late to the game, but have you heard of this? You sign up at Review Kick (either as a seller or a reviewer) to receive certain Amazon products at a heavily discounted rate in exchange for a review. You pick your product, wait to get approved, then purchase, use & review. I just got my first item (a diaper bag) at 67% off! So great! Haven’t been using this site long enough to really say how much I like it, but so far, I very much appreciate the discounted diaper bag 🙂
  2. I love reading & taking notes on my Kindle.
    It took me a while to get used to. And I still think it is no replacement for your good old fashioned book. But I certainly read quicker on it and I can store all of my notes in one place. In fact, I just emailed myself a doc of everything that’s been hi-lighted & noted in my most recent kindle book (“Uninvited” by Lysa Terkeurst… so good btw).
  3. As Christians, we cannot claim to love Jesus while completely ignoring injustice. This is a form of hypocrisy.
    Jesus loves justice. If we love him & claim to follow him, we must care about the things he cares about. I see unending injustice locally, nationally globally… yet the church in America (as a whole) appears to be largely silent about it. Can we say we love Jesus & follow him, while at the same time, refuse to engage with or even care about issues of injustice? I’m not sure. It’s sad to notice this so-often true reality: We don’t look like our Christ. We don’t love & care about the things He cares about (the marginalized, the hurting, the broken). If the church truly looked the way Jesus had envisioned, people would be flooding through our doors. I will be the first to admit that I am no where near where I want to be, nor do I know as much as I would like surrounding this topic. But I do know that I am desperately longing for change… for knowledge… and for there to be continued dialogue and open conversation amongst Christians (& others) in regards to what God’s heart for justice is.
  4. The ‘Frozen’ musical at Disneyland is AMAZING. And could probably be a broadway show.
    Besides the fact that it would be too short (it’s about an hour long), this musical is legit. So many amazing singers, actors, and on top of all that, incredible stage & light effects that I’m eager to see again. Oh and I also want to mention that one of the actresses that plays Elsa is definitely bi-racial (black/white)… I thought this was an awesome move on Disney’s end.
  5. I still need to see Selma.
    Suddenly realized last week that I still have not seen this film about the civil rights movement (after being told repeatedly to go see it). I gotta get on that.
  6. If you are bored and want to freshen up your place, re-arrange the furniture.
    We’ve completely changed up Josh’s room (which he will now be sharing with his baby bro) and have also migrated Nick’s desk (aka home office). Definitely feels fun and like our apartment is new again 🙂 Sometimes it’s nice to shake things up.
  7. I cannot remember what it’s like to have a newborn.
    I’m 39 weeks and counting… slightly more prepared than a few weeks ago, but still feeling like I don’t remember anything from last time. My most recent google searches have been “what goes in a newborn diaper bag” and “what do you pack for the hospital labor/delivery”.
  8. Joshua cannot stop singing, “It’s a Small World After All”.
    He literally sings this song every… single… day. My and Nick’s alarm clock is Joshua singing this song (no exaggeration). And as an added bonus, he thinks it’s hilarious to replace the last word with something silly. Some of his favorite ‘versions’ of this song are: “It’s a small world after mannequin” and “It’s a small world after boat”.
  9. I want to take a family trip to Iran.
    Okay, I know you think this is insane… but it’s really not too crazy. My whole life, I thought I would never go because I kept hearing how unsafe it is (and in some ways, it is). But my dad made the trip this year (for the first time in 37 years) and everything went so smoothly. There are multiple reasons why I want to go: it’s beautiful, we have family there, a place to stay and people to help with our kiddo’s. I would love to see & explore a place so incredibly different from the US. Now to weigh out the pro’s & con’s and figure out if the logistics are possible… we’ll see 🙂
  10. I have become a coffee snob.
    It’s not like I meant for this to happen. In fact, when people have asked me in the past if I’m picky about my coffee, I would always so absolutely not. But living in LA, I have inadvertantly gotten so accustomed to these high-end coffee places, solely because they’re close by (& it’s simply what you do in LA). Places like Philz, The Refinery, Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia, Conservatory… I had Starbucks coffee a few weeks ago and could barely get past a couple sips. Suddenly, it tasted absolutely disgusting. And burnt. When you start drinking good, quality coffee, you just can’t go back.

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

img_8002

It’s been a while since I posted anything (especially a recipe), but I made these tonight and couldn’t not share. Absolutely love these cookies. I loved them because 1) they have almond butter in them, 2) they taste awesome and 3) they’re a healthier alternative to standard chocolate chip cookies. They’re flour-less and only have 6 ingredients. No butter & only half a cup of brown sugar. Already had 3 and refraining from eating anymore. The only downside is that they come out a little crumbly… I still loved the taste, texture and softness. The crumbliness only made it a tiny bit more difficult to eat. Otherwise… two thumbs up 🙂

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (Flourless)

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (250g) almond butter (I did 1/2 C almond butter, 1/2 C peanut butter)
  • 1/2 cup (90g) light or dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (190g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

 Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg until beaten. Mix in the almond butter, then the brown sugar, baking soda, and vanilla. Mix everything together very well. Fold in the chocolate chips until combined.
  3. Scoop the dough onto prepared baking sheet, about 1 TBS per scoop.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes. The cookies will look very soft– that’s ok! For crispier cookies, bake up to 11-12 minutes.
  5. Allow the cookies to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Cover leftover cookies tightly and store at room temperature for up to 7 days.
  6. Make ahead tip: Cookies freeze well up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

slightly adapted from http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/01/03/almond-butter-chocolate-chip-cookies/

Life Lately

Oh how this summer has flown by… I cannot believe how quickly this season (& pregnancy) has gone. It feels like just yesterday we were rejoicing over that bright PLUS sign… and now I’m only a month away from the due date. I am feeling big, fatigued and READY for our little one to arrive.

I haven’t been on top of the blogging at all during this pregnancy… How quickly I’ve forgotten what a great outlet this has been for me to de-compress & externally process my life… and for those that have been waiting for an update, here’s a sneak peak at my life lately (through verbs).

IMG_7981

  • Missing our time as a family in Palm Desert.
    For the second year in a row, the three of us (four if you include the belly baby) ventured out for a quick family vacay at the JW Marriott in Palm Desert . We’ve discovered something lovely about this place: For the stage of life we’re in, this is our ideal family vacation. We do nothing but eat, lounge and play by the pool. No running around trying to explore, no driving anywhere… pure relaxation. It was so nice, that we actually decided to stay one extra night last minute. Although my heart typically longs for adventure in Europe or Asia or even the Middle East, our season of life can’t really hold that right now. I’m choosing joy & gratitude in little trips like this one 🙂
  • Wanting (NEEDING) a new pair of sunglasses.
    I’ve had the same pair for a couple years now from TOMS (which I’ve loved), however Josh has destroyed them. Note to self: don’t let your toddler play with your sunglasses if you can help it. Without them, my eyes feel like they’re dying and I am now in desperate need of a new pair.
  • Enjoying 21 days in the book of John.
    I have felt extremely disconnected spiritually and have been craving a discipline to get me back in scripture and prayer. They say it takes 21 days to build a habit, so I decided to spend 21 days going through the book of John (1 chapter per day). I’m 5 days in and already feeling rejuvenated in my soul. As a mom, it’s hard to find any real rhythm of quiet time and I have no doubt things will get shaken up again once the new baby arrives. For now, I’m enjoying the luxury of energy and sleep, which allows me to spend deep, quality time connecting.
  • Learning to hold money loosely.
    A lesson I’ve been learning for the past 4 years… The more I practice generosity, the less I struggle with greed. As my maternity leave starts, we are losing half our income for the next 5 months (part-time mama’s get zero benefits :() God reminds me again and again that I am to trust him with everything and relinquish control. I am grateful for a season to practice this again.
  • Ditching my “Passion Planner”, Loving my “Happy Planner”
    Well, I should really devote a whole post to this… but I decided I am not a Passion Planner person. At the start of the year, I wrote about starting to use the Passion Planner (look it up if you haven’t heard of it). I liked it for a couple weeks, but absolutely could not keep up (& this is coming from a girl who ADORES paper planners and has never ditched one mid-year). The passion planner is great for highly detailed people… but for me, I could not plan my day in half-hour increments, and I did not feel like breaking up my to-do lists into top, middle & low priority. I need more freedom & space to plan the way I like. I am a dreamer (an ENFJ for myers-briggs loving folk) and need a bit of creativity… the Passion Planner is more for SJ’s. My brain hurts when you force me to think in high detail. With all that being said, I am now OBSESSED with the Happy Planner. Obviously I will give you a more reliable review after using it for at least 6 months (it’s only been two weeks).
    **Here’s the happy planner if you don’t already know:
    http://www.meandmybigideas.com/create365-thehappyplanner/
  • Reading “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman
    Just started. Only a few chapters in, but already love it. Reminds me of “Up”.
  • Prepping for Baby #2 (& not-so-prepared).
    People always laugh when I tell them about my first pregnancy… my water broke in the middle of the night the day before my due-date. We did not have a car seat installed, nor did we have a hospital bag packed (most people do this at least a month in advance). And as a bonus kick, my husband had stayed up all night watching the Australian Open with some friends, so by the time we got to the hospital, he was running on a couple hours of sleep (if that). We are finding ourselves, once again, completely un-prepared for baby #2. But not super stressed about it… it worked out fine last time and I am hoping and praying that everything will come together this time too.
  • Embracing that my child is free-spirited & completely unhindered.
    We recently dedicated Josh at our church. It’s a beautiful moment where the pastor prays for our son on stage and we make promises, as parents, to raise him in a Christ-like way. It was lovely… except for the fact that Josh would not stand still. He kept running to the middle of the stage and stare at the crowd. He would turn around to Nick & I and say loudly, “I wanna play drums!” (there was a drum-set on stage). While our pastor was praying for him (remember, this is in front of a couple hundred people), Josh sat on the floor and took his shoes & socks off (we’ve got an Asian kid). I was initially mortified, but after all of it, I realized that God has blessed Josh with a totally free & unhindered spirit… I would do well for some more of that in my own spirit 🙂

Happy Things ( June 2016)

It’s been over a year since I’ve made a ‘Happy Things’ post. And now felt like an appropriate time, because this pregnancy has been exhausting

**I will lay out the disclaimer that I am VERY excited to have another baby, grow our family and I feel incredibly blessed to be pregnant.**

However, this all does not change the fact that I constantly feel like I’m going to topple over from sheer exhaustion. I am actually quite amazed at how different two pregnancies can be. I’m getting bigger much more quickly. I have a job and a toddler (unlike last time). And my hormones are all over the place (actually, much like last time).

The good news is, there have been plenty of little things that have kept me going (besides wonderful family & friends). Little “twinkles of joy”, I’ll call them. Happy things. And here they are 🙂

IMG_1746

  • “Bread & Wine” by Shauna Niequist
    A book I had been meaning to read for a long time… it contains everything I love: God, mommy stories & food. Shauna Niequist essentially writes about her life and how most of her relationships are made ‘around the table’ where people gather for food & drinks… you eat with those you love. And she’s added in a recipe at the end of every chapter. I’ve already made 3 of them (Chocolate Mousse, Enchiladas, & Gaia Cookies). All have been amazing (although the Chocolate mousse is certainly the best AND easiest… will be posting that recipe soon).

IMG_1749
Our 4th of July Feast… Guess Niequist is right about food being a gathering place 🙂

  • Babyganics mineral-based sunscreen
    I’ve been lathering up Joshua’s face with this stuff.
    Confession: My bad mommy habit is that for the past couple years, I’ve done a pretty poor job at using sunscreen on Josh. It’s mostly b/c Nick & I never wear it (people with medium to dark skin tones don’t typically burn easy). So I always forget to put some on Josh & then feel awful. But I finally bought a big tube of Babyganics sunscreen and feel really great about this purchase 🙂
  • I got a Kindle!
    For my birthday! From my hubby! He was just asking me why I haven’t blogged about my Kindle yet… well here it is 🙂 I’ve only read one book on it so far (“Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell… so so good). I tend to read way faster on the kindle for some reason. And I love the I can hold josh in the rocking chair and read at the same time. This is going to be PERFECT for when baby #2 comes and I’ll need something light to hold & keep me entertained while I’m nursing. Definitely a top notch birthday gift.
  • My 27th Birthday
    Something I love about my birthday is that my husband loves my birthday… he doesn’t necessarily care about his own birthday… but he certainly loves mine. And I feel very blessed by this 🙂 It may be because he knows I feel super loved when I’m celebrated. But in any case, he went out of his way to make my birthday extra special. I am certainly looking forward to year 27.
  • Korean BBQ for Father’s Day
    We’ve come to the realization that celebrating Nick means going out to KBBQ. It’s definitely one of our favorite foods to eat & something we consider a treat. We had AYCE at “Road to Seoul” in Koreatown and it was amazing ($20 per person and kids under 3 eat for free!) Can’t wait for another reason to celebrate my hubby and go again 🙂
  • Saturday morning at the Grove
    My favorite time to go is bright and early Saturday morning: it’s mostly empty and Barnes & Noble opens before all the other stores. I took Josh on Saturday morning and we both had a blast. Maybe we’ll make this routine.
  • Small Group leading
    My husband and I began hosting a summer ‘small group’ through church that I lead with a friend. We’ve absolutely loved having people over & studying scripture together with a group. It’s been so life-giving in many different ways.
  • Mendocino Farms
    Nick & I tried this for the FIRST TIME this weekend with his family and our minds were absolutely blown. We all got something different & tried a little bit of each. Our favorites were certainly the “Proscuitto & Free Range Chicken” & the “Kurobuta Pork Belly Bahn Mi”. The Proscuitto one (which I ordered of course) tasted exactly like Italy. It took me straight back to when I was living in Florence six summers ago. After I took my first bite, I looked at Nick and said, “This is literally everything I want in a sandwich.” And it’s true. Nick agreed it was amazing. The Bahn Mi was also ridiculous. I couldn’t get enough of either. Go get ’em.

IMG_1725

My ‘tastes like Italy’ sandwich. heaven.

What I’m Into (May 2016)

I haven’t done a post like this in a while, so I was feeling up for it. Here’s a little peak into the things that have been saving me this month.

FotorCreated

PS… here’s Josh @ 9 months vs. 2 years… CAN.NOT.HANDLE.

Loving:

  • Bubble Baths
    This has been a true luxury ever since we moved into our new apartment. Our baths have JETS btw… which definitely kick it up a notch. I’ve taken a bath at least once a week for the past couple months, sometimes more. It is the perfect way for me to relax physically & mentally. I am looking into a bath tray so that if I wanted to I could watch, read or eat/drink during.
  • Old Navy Maternity
    Just discovered this thanks to my lovely mama friend who ventured with me over to Old Navy to check out some incredibly well-priced items. Left the store with 3 different maternity shirts (and I literally had none before). SCORE.
  • Bluewater Mission Sermons
    If anyone is looking into some quality sermon podcasts, I’ve begun listening to pastor Jordan Seng at Bluwater Mission church in Hawaii.
  • Movie in the Park
    My favorite part of L.A. summers (via Eat.See.Hear). Went to “Princess Bride” a few weeks ago and loved it… as for our next film: “500 Days of Summer”. Cannot WAIT.

Baby Loving:

  • Kid’s CamelBak
    Nick & I both agreed this is one of the best purchases we’ve made this year for Josh. He lovesssssss his CamelBak and drinks a ton of water now.
  • “No Fits Nilson!”
    Josh’s favorite book (currently). Requests it every single night. This book has inadvertently taught me some things about handling tantrums with toddlers.

Eating:

FYI: Nick and I have done a lot of eating out the past month… mostly in part to our new apartment being right by “little saka” which is mini Japan Town here in West LA. We’re walking distance from some top notch Asian restaurants and had to try out all the new spots nearby!

  • Tsujita LA
    Best ramen I’ve ever had. It’s the dipping ramen kind (tsukemen). We were dying to try it based off the crazy reviews and the never-ending line that they literally ALWAYS have. Nick and I can’t stop talking about it. Sounds exaggerative, but it’s really not.
  • Seoul Sausage Co.
    We got their flaming rice ball, Korean animal style fries & poutine (on two different occasions)…. So so SO yummy. An explosion of flavor in your mouth. A bit overpriced (for the amount of food you get), but definitely tasty. Lives up to the high # & rating of yelp reviews.
  • B SWEET
    We got the salted caramel bread pudding (small size) with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top to share. We were both in heaven. It’s really sweet but so so yummy. And the perfect size to share. Most people get it for themselves, but I think it’s better with another person.
  • Coffee Tomo
    Got their famous “tomo latte”, which is essentially a latte with sweetened condensced milk. The environment is a really great place to do some work or reading. And the latte was so so good. Overpriced… but delicious.

Listening to:

  • “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake
    And no, it has not gotten old 🙂

Watching:

  • The Bachelorette
    Because I can’t not. And I think JoJo is a great choice for bachelorette (she’s half Persian btw… I’m sure I’ve already told you). The season premiere was so-so but second episode was super entertaining… quality girls night event.

What are you into this month?

 

Healthy Bars: Choco Chia & Choco Crunch

I’ve been trying out healthier recipes recently for two reasons:

  1. My sweet tooth is seriously out of control and I’m desperate for recipes that cut either fat, sugar or both.
  2. I decided to try a VBAC for my next delivery! It’s not totally related, but I want to be as healthy as possible for it… along with kicking up my exercise routine, I definitely need to adjust my eating habits. And I’ll start with my desserts.

Here are, not one, but TWO new recipes I’ve discovered that I already love and feel good about eating. A quick gist:

Choco & PB Chia Bars (on the left): healthy little bars with a ton of protein (note, PB & chia seeds). You can make these as you wish. There is no sugar in these… just dates are used to sweeten it 🙂

Vegan Choco Crunch Bars (on the right): These are like little chocolate bars that taste kind of like a crunch bar. The sweetener used in these is maple syrup & the fat used is coconut oil (great substitutes)!

ENJOY 🙂

Choco & PB Chia Bars

  • 1 cup pitted, whole dates (about 9-10)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp peanut butter (I used crunchy)
  • 1/4 cup peanuts (or any nuts & dried fruit… I would suggest trying with raisons, dried cranberries, or even chocolate chips to add some yum)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  1. Add all ingredients to food processor and process until the ingredients break down and become a mostly cohesive mixture. You will still have little pieces of peanuts remaining, and the consistency of the mixture should hold together when you press it together.
  2. Line a rimmed dish with parchment paper and press mixture into it, leaving your desired thickness. I used only about half of an 8″ x 8″ baking dish as I didn’t have a smaller dish available.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before slicing. Store bars in the refrigerator.

recipe slightly adapted from: http://www..com/2016/03/15/chocolate-peanut-butter-chia-bars/

Vegan Choco Crunch Bars

  • 1/3 cup of cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil
  • 5 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of rice cereal
  • pinch of salt
  1. Melt coconut oil with cacao powder in small saucepan on low heat.  Add maple syrup, vanilla, and a pinch of salt and mix well.
  2. In a bowl, mix rice cereal and chocolate mixture so rice cereal is completely covered and mixed well.
  3. Line a 9X5 bread pan with parchment paper.  Pour in rice cereal and chocolate mixture.  Level into a even layer.
  4. Place in freezer for 15 minutes until completely set.
  5. Lift parchment paper out of pan and separate the bar from paper.  Cut into bars and enjoy!  Keep in freezer so chocolate stays set.

recipe slightly adapted from: http://www.servedfromscratch.com/chocolate-crunch-bars-vegan/