Easter With The Markwood's!

Yesterday was a great day ... busy & hectic ... but GREAT! We loved celebrating London's first Easter right here at our little Massachusetts apartment. It was nice not to have to travel anywhere, but to wake up in our own beds and lounge. We did a little food prep the night before, so we could enjoy Sunday for the most part. We got London all dolled up for Easter service and had a little pre-church photo shoot (which was totally my husband's idea) Haha! We hosted Chris's mom and stepdad for dinner which included: Ham w/a brown sugar glaze, green bean casserole, mac n' cheese, mashed potatoes, peas, homemade rolls, and deviled eggs! For dessert I made carrot cake cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting ... I must say - these were a big hit! London sat at the table with us, tried ham for the first time, and absolutely loved it! By "loved it" I mean, she wouldn't eat anything else but ham...probably should have given her veggies beforehand, but ehh - it was a holiday so I let it slide :)

 

Yummy Homemade Marinade

This is kinda random - but I made a really good homemade marinade for chicken tenders last night and thought, ehh...why not share? It's easy, quick, and very tasty. Chris was a big fan!
- 3 T soy sauce
- 2 T honey
- 2 T olive oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 T chopped cilantro
*Mix all together and place chicken tenders in baking dish. Cover with marinade and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but the longer the better. Heat oven to 350 degrees, and cook for 15 minutes, turning half-way through. Enjoy!

 

Magical Newport Weekend, Part I

I hope everyone had a happy Easter celebrating the Resurrection! 
Chris and I were able to get away for a long weekend - and it was just as the title says...magical. Newport, RI is such a little slice of heaven, right in our backyard. After only a 75 minute drive, we arrived in this charming seaside town and were checking into our selected bed & breakfast, The Hydrangea House. We absolutely LOVE b&b's, and this spot was perfect for us. I can't say enough about the hosts, Grant and Dennis, who went above and beyond to make our stay extra special. We had turn-down service at night with cookies left on our pillows, wine and cheese in the afternoon, and the breakfast was OUT OF THIS WORLD. Each morning we couldn't wait to see what they had prepared for us...and it was nothing short of gourmet status. Bread pudding french toast with Vermont maple syrup, homemade glazed apple turnovers, oven baked bacon, raspberry pancake fritters, orange zest yogurt mousse...the list goes on and on. According to Chris, I put on a "legendary" performance at breakfast :)  It was quite funny actually, there were four other pregnant women (myself included) staying at the inn this past weekend! Three were due in June. You'd think there was some sort of "expectant mother special" going on, but it was all by coincidence! 
Anyway, I highly recommend a stay at the Hydrangea House ... even if it's just for a night of two. Below is a photo of the dining room (I was terrible with my camera this weekend) so just take my word for it...you would absolutely LOVE this b&b...especially the quaint rooms and fantastic breakfast! 
blog1

blog1

Friday Five

Is it Friday already? This week has gone by in the flash, but I'm not complaining. It's been a week of discovery for me as I learn to adapt to my growing body and work out the kinks in classes like prenatal yoga and coconut oil massages. I also started reading a new book "Bringing Up Bebe" and I'm finding it rather entertaining. I hope you all had an amazingly fulfilled week! XX!

 

One // ILY Couture "donut tee"

blog1

Two // Multi layer necklaces...Wildflower Shop

blog2

Three // Wood prints...*swoon*
blog3
Four // Cinnamon bun pancake cravings...

pancakes

 

Five // My new read...

blog4

 

 

 

 

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

This weekend, Chris and I had an uninterrupted 72 hours together - which probably hasn't happened since our honeymoon last August - and it was pretty great. We were lazy bums around the apartment, watching basketball and eating delicious homemade creations. Sunday morning I figured I should go all out with a little homemade pancake action to cap off an amazing few days. I love the blog A Cozy Kitchen and highly recommend you to check it out for yummy breakfast, apps, dinner, etc ideas. 
The cinnamon bun pancakes are super yummy - the glaze, I would definitely tweak a little because I didn't die over it. I mean, it was good - but not great. With that said - they are definitely worth trying on a weekend/cheat day as a little treat!
Glaze:
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 T milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pancakes:
1 c flour
2 T sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/4 c buttermilk
1 large egg
1 T unsalted butter, melted then cooled
Directions: Heat griddle or cast iron skillet and coat with cooking spray or butter.
Whisk together ingredients for glaze and set aside. In a bowl, combine dry ingredients and sift together. Separately mix together wet ingredients (buttermilk, egg, butter) and add to dry. Stir together gently - there should still be some lumps left over - DO NOT OVER MIX. Scoop the batter onto the skillet making the pancakes roughly the same size so they are stackable. (Helpful Hint: They are done when you see little bubbles forming all over) Flip and cook 1-2 minutes more. Transfer to plate and top with glaze - serve with warm maple syrup for that "little something extra!" Enjoy!

Valentine's Day Treats!

One of my favorite things to do on Valentine's Day is to bake yummy treats! It's the perfect way to show your love and affection for that special someone. I've put together a short list of my personal Pinterest favorites for you all to try!

Sugar Cookie Hearts

blog1

 Dipped & Decorated Pretzels

blog2

Red Velvet Pancakes 

blog3

Mini Baked Valentine Donuts

blog4  blog5

Cherry Cupcakes

blog6  blog7

Blood Orange Poppy Seed Scones

blog8  blog9

 Chocolate Covered Oreos

blog10

 

 

Skinny Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

Quick, easy, and only about 150 calories each...these muffins are still very tasty and won't start your day off on the wrong foot! There is no oil or butter, but instead applesauce - which gives the muffins a nice, moist (ugh, least favorite word) consistency throughout. 
What you'll need...
  • 1 and 1/4 cups wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • raspberries
  • chocolate chips
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, applesauce, and egg white together and pour into dry ingredients. Mix with rubber spatula until combined. Fold in raspberries and chocolate chips.

Divide the batter evenly between approximately 10 muffin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Allow muffins to cool and enjoy!

 

Unique Decor for Home!

In my search for creative Valentine's Day gifts...I came across a few home decor items from various sites that I thought would be cool to share! Since we use a leather chest as our coffee table, we have been needing some coasters to set our drinks on. I came across these super cool ones from Poketo that come in a set of four. Of course, we would choose the "East Coaster" set since that's where we live and obviously it's the best coast (duh). The site also has some cool stationary and other interesting pieces to browse through. 
Another cool site is Mapiful...where you can create map posters of the exact place you fell in love, where you grew up, or just any place that is uniquely special to you. The prints come in the mail and you can have them framed or even frame them yourself. I'm thinking of doing one of Boston for the baby's room, as the place that Chris and I started our life together and where she was conceived. For that reason (and so many more) Boston will always have a special place in our hearts. Check it out...make a print...and let me know what you think! 

blog1  blog2

 

blog3         blog4

What To Get Him For Valentine's Day!

Before I get the collective "Valentines Day sucks!" from pretty much everyone I know, I'd like to go on record to say that I am PRO February 14th. Any day that celebrates love, I fully support! Yes, I absolutely believe that love should be shown every day of the year, not just on V-Day...but why not dedicate one day to do some extra special things for your partner? Here are some ways that you can show your man that you care!

1. Send him something sweet!

Whoever coined the saying "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" was so spot on! You could bake his favorite treat homemade or send chocolate covered strawberries to work...even cupcake spots like Georgetown Cupcake, Sprinkles, etc will deliver and that could be a nice surprise! 

2. At-home spa/movie night!

Buy some lotions and massage oils. Prepare a bath for him or have him take a shower (if a bath is not an option), light some candles, then give him a nice long rub down! Once that is finished, you could even have him soak his feet and give them some extra TLC. Once he's relaxed, he may just fall asleep OR you could make some popcorn and slip in a movie!

3. Romantic coupon book!

Another homemade gift idea that won't cost you a dime! Give coupons for things he can use throughout the coming months such as "1 free back massage" or "homemade treat of your choice" ... you can make them sexier of course - but I'll leave THAT creativity up to you :) 

4. Splurge on a watch!

Guys love watches...or at least my guy does! This is usually a great "go-to" for a gift, especially on Valentines Day. TJ Maxx or Marshalls usually sell really nice name brand watches for less...so check there first!

5. Cologne!

Everyone likes a good smelling man! I love to pick out Chris's cologne... I think I've picked out every cologne he's worn for the last 7 years and I love it! This is a pretty safe gift and obviously something that is very useful too!

 

 

Baby Inspiration Part II

Fashion Finds For Less!

Date Night: Aquitaine Boston

My husband and I decided to have a little dinner date night, and we finally were able to get reservations at Aquitaine Boston in the South End. Aquitaine is a "modern Parisian bistro" and you walk in instantly feeling welcome and "at home." The dishes are traditional and delightful, the atmosphere is romantic but lively. It was my favorite (yes, my favorite) restaurant we have eaten at so far in Boston! The menu has a large variety of dishes, and also offers a "prix fixe menu" before 6:30, which we were able to order from; three courses for $29.95...such a fantastic deal! For my 3 courses I chose the "Soupe a L'Oignon", Steak Frites, and Chocolate Mousse. Chris went with the Warm Beet Salade, Roasted Half Chicken, and Creme Brûlée! 
To start, the french onion soup was AMAZING, complete with truffled braised short rib and melted aged gruyere. For me, it would be difficult to order any other appetizer, because it was THAT good. Chris's appetizer was super yummy also...the beets were sliced thin and topped with a sherry vinaigrette and toasted walnuts. He did think there would be more greens, but he was still happy with the dish and thought it was very tasty.
Next, the entrees. I ordered my steak medium and it was so perfectly cooked and seasoned with a black truffle vinaigrette that it basically melted in your mouth! (I think Chris was a little jealous) The frites were amazing dipped in a garlic aoili! My dish was also served with a large side of greens which was a nice addition to the plate as well. The roasted half chicken was served over a parsnip puree that was to-die-for! Wow...the chicken was falling off the bone and the skin was perfectly crisped. We shared a little of each, and were extremely happy with the flavor of both dishes. Desserts were pretty off the charts as well, especially the creme brûlée! I'm a chocolate girl (even more so with this pregnancy) but the brûlée was pretty spectacular. The mousse was extremely rich and served with homemade (yes, homemade) whipped cream...which makes all the difference in the world, doesn't it? LOVE!
We were so thoroughly impressed with our meal, that we cannot wait to return! They also serve brunch on the weekends - which I'd love to try! I highly HIGHLY suggest visiting this restaurant...you will not be disappointed! 

Oatmeal Banana Pancakes!

Two days in a row of food posts....blame the pregnant lady :) 

This morning I woke up a little bit earlier (like 10 minutes) so instead of running around frantically preparing my breakfast/lunch...I had time to put something yummy together! I'm a HUGE pancake fan...anytime we're out to breakfast I order them, hands down. With the flour, sugar, etc...they aren't always the healthiest option UNLESS you make them the way I did this morning. I usually mash one whole banana into mine for extra sweetness, and you can add any berries that you have kickin' around as well. They're very hearty and the oats will keep you full longer throughout the morning!

Here's what you'll need:
*Makes 2 pancakes
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 banana (optional; Can use just berries or have plain)
- dash of water
Directions: Cook in prepared pan on medium heat, as you would normal pancakes. Serve with maple syrup and enjoy!

 

 

Nursery Inspiration!

Our city apartment may be too small for a classic nursery...but that hasn't stopped me from dreaming about the perfect one! Gotta love Pinterest and Etsy...so many fabulous ideas, I could just die! If we end up moving out of downtown Boston, I would love the nursery decor to carry a slightly vintage tone throughout...with whites and creams and natural wood fixtures. I'm not one for crazy color schemes or "winnie the pooh" themes - and thankfully, my husband isn't either! 

 

 

How To Cope With Morning Sickness!

I am almost through my 15th week of my first pregnancy and I must say, I'm feeling rather good now! Not nearly as nauseous as I was at the beginning and I find myself much more energetic. Honestly, weeks 5-8.5 were pretty miserable...so much so that I wasn't truly able to enjoy the initial excitement of our little blessing. I don't know why it's called "morning sickness." That needs to be changed to "all day hellish sickness." I was living off of saltines, ginger ale, and gin gin candies and actually lost a few pounds, which I think it pretty normal in the first trimester for sick mums. I must say, my husband was a GIGANTIC help to me during that time. Even with his extremely busy schedule, he was waiting on me as I needed, making me breakfast, and making his own dinners since I couldn't stand to look at or smell food. His support was so amazing, and it made me even more thankful to have him as a partner. Now that I'm feeling better, we are having a lot more fun and are able to enjoy this time all the more together. 

I wanted to share a few ways that I dealt with my nausea in the first trimester, in hopes that it can help any soon to be moms out there! The biggest thing is, try (and I know it's not easy) to stay positive...remember that it will pass, and just focus on making it through the day at hand. "Survive and advance" was literally my day to day motto...that mentality helped get me through as did the following:

1. Ginger ale - I brought it to work, kept a can in my car..wherever I went I was taking small sips of ginger ale.
2. Gin Gins - My sister gave me a box of these candies and I felt they really helped for a time. I am not a fan of ginger, which was the unfortunate part of this, but I would force myself to suck on these candies. 
3. Sea Bands - I wore these elastic wrist bands on both wrists to combat the nausea. I'm not sure if it was a mental thing, but I feel like it did help a little.
4. Warm Baths - When you're sick, the last thing you want to do is even go through the process of showering, but it's kind of hard to skip many of these :) ...I found myself drawing a lot of baths so I could sit and wash my hair or do whatever I had to do. 
5. Small Meals - Eating small meals and snacks throughout the day (even though you don't feel like it) really helps fight the nausea. Stick to bland foods like crackers and bread. It's easy to miss meals because you feel so sick, but I found that I was even more nauseous on an empty stomach. 
Do you have any ideas to combat pregnancy sickness? 

Boston Eats: "Lolita"

Chris and I are huge fans of Mexican food, and have been hearing about a restaurant downtown called Lolita. We decided to try it last night before Chris's road trip to Virginia. It's walking distance from our apartment, so I foresee a lot of dinners here in our future! The atmosphere is really cool...very dim lights and red light accents. It was pretty busy for a Monday, and was glad that Chris had made a reservation. The bar/lounge area was packed...and according to Chris, they have amazing margaritas, so I can see why :) They bring the standard basket of chips to the table, but I love that they also bring three different kinds of salsa to try! (All were very yummy!) They also brought shaved ice to the table as well (which they offered to top with tequila, but we declined for obvious reasons) but I thought it was a cool touch!  Our food was great! We ordered the beef chimichangas to start which we REALLY liked. Great flavor. For dinner I had the ancho chile chicken quesadilla and Chris went with the chicken tacos. They have a large selection of tacos to choose from...swordfish, fried chicken, steak, marinated chicken, pork, and more! By far, the coolest part of the evening, was when they brought our check, they brought green apple cotton candy with it! OH. MY. GOSH. Best thing ever. I haven't had cotton candy in a longgg time, and I'm not sure why! I LOVE IT! They also give you fake tattoos with a wet cloth and everything (my idea of a good time!) Of course, I put it on right away, as you can see from the photo :) 

There are so many amazing places to eat in Boston, that if the restaurant doesn't blow us away, there's no need to return. Happy to report that we will definitely be returning, and can't wait to bring our friends!