Category Archives: Life

98 Days Until Baby!

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Holy moly. This week we passed a major milestone. Wednesday marked 100 days until our due date and now we’re in the double digit countdown. WHAT? That’s just crazy talk. Considering the fact that only five percent of babies are actually born on their due date I realize it’s just a ballpark, but it’s still a big deal to me. I’ll be posting a second trimester recap in a few weeks, but I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on this whole brewing a baby thing now that we’re just over three months away from meeting our little guy.

Physically, I’ve been feeling really great. I can feel him kick, which is the coolest thing ever and still totally weird. To feel your body move and have no control over it is just…wow! I first felt kicks around 21 weeks and we could feel kicks on the outside by 22 weeks (I’m 26 weeks today). Some days he’s more active than others. And some nights he wakes me up while doing a conga line across my belly (or maybe it’s hiccups!) and I secretly LOVE that. I just lie there in the dark with a hand over my little dancer and a smile on my face until he goes back to sleep.

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My belly is growing a lot more, too. I feel like it took a while for me to show and I’m happy to be out of that “is she pregnant or did she just let herself go?” phase. It’s sort of astonishing to watch my body change so much. I’ll never forget the first time a stranger commented on my belly. We were in the airport and the woman doing my pat down (I’ve been skipping the big X-ray machines) asked me right away how many weeks along I was. I kind of wanted to hug her right then and there, but figured I’d probably be breaking some TSA laws.

Once I passed the 20-week mark we started thinking about the nursery and buying and registering for baby stuff (!!!) We recently got a crib (already set it up!), mattress, dresser (that will double as a changing table), changing pad, bookcase, and ordered our glider. The glider will arrive in January and I can’t wait to sit in it, read, and just hang out in baby’s room. I realize that this stuff is just stuff and probably more than this little human will ever need. But I can’t tell you how helpful it’s been for my mental state. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve experienced a lot of fear throughout this pregnancy. It comes and goes, but sometimes the fear gets the best of me. There’s been something so reassuring about furnishing our nursery and researching baby items that’s made a big difference for me. I think it’s the fact that I can picture our baby using these things and it helps me trust that everything will be okay.

Speaking of our nursery, before becoming pregnant I wasn’t a huge fan of nurseries with a theme or that were overly babyish. Now? We’re going with a colorful safari/jungle theme and everything we’ve found is so cute I could just burst. Funny how things change, huh? Bring on the giraffes, elephants, rhinos, and monkeys!! Robert and I also bought baby’s very first clothing items last weekend: two onesies from Baby Gap and a hat and mittens. The thought of our little guy wearing them turns my heart to mush. Baby boy clothes are seriously the cutest.

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Thanksgiving Day in Kansas City

As someone who basically researches stuff for a living (and enjoys it), I always imagined I’d spend the entire pregnancy reading stacks of baby books. I’m surprised (and maybe a little embarrassed?) to say that so far I’ve only read one (Bringing Up Bebe) and it was actually more entertaining than informative. Robert just finished The Happiest Baby on the Block (seriously ask the man anything about the fourth trimester and the 5 S’s and he’s on it!) I’ll be reading that next followed by Heading Home with Your Newborn (it’s written by two pediatrician moms and the closest thing I’ve found to a baby owner’s manual; I actually received a copy years ago for a story I wrote for American Baby magazine so I’m happy I held onto it). I may read some Ina May Gaskin books I have, too. If you have any must-read recommendations, I’d love to hear them! We’ll also be taking some classes offered through the hospital in the next few weeks. But ultimately, I know that the real learning happens in getting to know our baby and figuring things out once he’s here. Plus, I’m relishing this time when I can still get through as many novels as I like : ) I just finished a really cute book called Vintage that I’d recommend if you’re in the mood for some chick lit fluff.

I have a feeling that with the holidays coming up, the next few weeks are going to fly by and all of a sudden we’ll be well into the third trimester and preparing for baby’s arrival (aaaaand making 10,000 freezer meals…I’m super excited about that). For now, I’m trying to make it a priority to slow down and soak in this time as much as I can because I know it really is so fleeting and such a gift.

What I’ve Been Cooking Lately

tableHi guys! Long time no see! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. We had a cah-razy Thanksgiving week with a lot of travel. The weekend before Turkey Day we flew to Kansas City for a night, then drove to Branson, MO and spent a few days with Robert’s family at Big Cedar Lodge. We then drove back to KC for Thanksgiving, flew home to Chicago for a night, and then drove up to Detroit for our final wedding of the year and back home again. Phew! I can’t believe all of that happened within the span of one week. At 25.5 weeks, baby sure has racked up some miles already! I must say, it feels so great to be home.

I haven’t posted a recipe in a while, but I’ve been cooking A LOT. We’ve been so fortunate to host family and friends several times over the past few months. It’s funny, when Robert and I were registering for wedding gifts (best thing ever) he’d joke about the imaginary life I had in my head in which we throw dinner parties all the time. Before we got married we just didn’t do it very often. But over the past year we’ve been hosting more and more and I absolutely love it. We’ve become quite the team when having people over.

I must say: dinner parties at home > dinner out. It’s just so much more laid back and enjoyable!

Currently, I feel like I’m going through a phase where I’m really enjoying following recipes pretty much to the word. It’s a great way to sharpen my skills in the kitchen and get back to basics. At the same time, following recipes gives me the confidence I need to make things I’ve never made before (like penne alla vodka–from scratch!) Lately, I’ve been all about comfort foods and no one does comfort better, in my opinion, than the Barefoot Contessa. So you’ll see quite a few links to her recipes below.

Here are some of my favorite recipes lately:

Barefoot Contessa Italian wedding soup I made this soup for a big group of friends we had over on a Sunday afternoon. I served it with a big salad, cornbread, and apple cider cupcakes.

Barefoot Contessa penne alla vodka This is going to sound insane, but I actually decided to make this recipe on a whim as a way to use up some ingredients we had on hand including lots of frozen pureed tomatoes from our CSA this summer and some heavy cream. It’s probably the most extravagant clean-out-the-fridge meal I’ve ever made. It was delicious.

Barefoot Contessa winter minestrone soup with garlic bruschetta I’d been eyeing this recipe for as long as I can remember and I’m so happy I finally got a chance to make it when a friend visited for lunch one day last month. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I’m definitely going to make a few batches to freeze before baby arrives in March!

Smitten Kitchen sweet and sour holiday brisket in the slower cooker from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.This November, my parents and sister visited for a weekend. I had this brisket ready for them when they arrived late Friday night. I served it with roasted carrots and potatoes (recipe is also from the cookbook), sauteed shredded brussels sprout salad, and apple spice cake for dessert.

Smitten Kitchen big cluster maple granola from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I make a batch of this with raisins every week or two so I always have a container of it in my pantry. I love having a big bowl of granola with sliced bananas and milk most mornings. I’ve also been known to have a bowl when I occasionally wake up starving around 3 or 4am : )

Quiche Oh my goodness we’ve been eating so much quiche lately. It’s my favorite way to clean out the veggie drawer and finish up any remaining eggs each week. I use this recipe as my base, mostly for the instructions. Lately I’ve been taking a much simpler approach with shallot, canadian bacon, and arugula or spinach. Yum! I even made two of them while we were away with Robert’s family last week.

We’re Having a Baby!

Apple3 Robert and I are thrilled to share our happy news: I’m pregnant!!!! I’m 17 weeks along! Baby and mama are doing great. Robert’s still not sure what all the fuss is about, his first trimester of my pregnancy was really easy : ) According to all of my pregnancy apps, Baby Fowler is currently the size of an apple. It’s appropriate since I’ve eaten about two apples per day this week and more applesauce than I should probably mention.

DSC00387I’ll try not to bombard you with many bump photos here or on Instagram, but I know I’m always curious to see them. This was my bump at almost 16 weeks…things have grown a bit since then.IMG_0008For our one year anniversary, Robert had a photo of our most recent ultrasound (taken at 13 weeks) framed. Traditionally, the first anniversary present is paper and I can’t imagine a more perfect gift. To say I teared up when I unwrapped it would be a massive understatement.

#bawledmyeyesout DSC00438 The photo is now hanging in our room. I stop and stare at it every time I walk by. I can’t believe that little being is in my belly right now!! We’ll find out whether it’s a boy or a girl at the end of October. I’ll be sure to share the news here, too!! For now, I’m off to stuff my face with second breakfast, my new favorite meal. Thank you so much for sharing in our joy!

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Celebrating One Year of Marriage in Saugatuck

Last weekend Robert and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary in Saugatuck, Michigan. I can’t believe it’s already been one year. Easily the fastest and happiest year of my life. Saugatuck is located about 2.5 hours outside of Chicago, making it an ideal location for a weekend getaway. Michigan also holds a special place in my heart because it’s where we spent our honeymoon last year {though we were much further up north then.}

This year, we had a fantastic time exploring the quaint waterfront town, eating delicious food, hiking some dunes, and relaxing in the adorable cottage we rented. To top it off, we had perfect weather (70’s and sunny!) all weekend long.

We arrived Friday around 5 p.m. After unloading the car, walking into town, and popping into some shops, we enjoyed an early dinner at Restaurant Toulouse. Although it’s a French bistro, the menu was totally eclectic. To start, we shared some bruschetta, I had a house salad with pineapple vinaigrette, and Robert had a spinach salad with dried cranberries, apple, walnuts, and chèvre. For entrees, I ordered herbed salmon with a butter cream sauce (swoon) and Robert had red beans and rice with tenderloin beef tips (so good). We sat outside, watched the sun set, and listened to a live guitarist. Afterward, we enjoyed some ice cream and chocolates from Kilwins, wandered along a dock looking at boats, and headed home for an early night. {Sorry we didn’t think to take any pictures on Friday!}

Saturday morning we walked into town for an egg breakfast at Pumpernickel’s Eatery. We also shared a cinnamon roll–great way to start the day! We then took a 10 minute drive to Saugatuck Dunes State Park and hiked through the woods to the lake.DSC00398DSC00400

We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day!

DSC00392Next, we took a 20 minute drive up to New Holland. Such a pristine little town! We roamed around and had lunch sitting at the bar at New Holland Brewing.  I had a salad with grilled chicken and homemade seasoned potato chips that rocked my world. Robert ordered the chili.

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We returned home to our cottage, relaxed for a bit, and got ready for dinner. Thanks to a recommendation from friends, we’d made a reservation ahead of time at the Belvedere Inn.  It’s a chateau-like B&B with beautiful gardens and a great restaurant. We arrived a little early and enjoyed drinks on the veranda followed by a four-course meal.

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Hello, handsome husband.

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Highlights of our meal include beet and pear carpaccio, butternut squash soup with crab, lobster tail for me and filet mignon for Robert. Then, Robert completely surprised me by having a local bakery recreate our FUNFETTI wedding cake they delivered to the restaurant!!!!!! One of the best surprises ever!!!! It was delicious, so thoughtful, and I’ll never forget it.

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IMG_0023As if the night wasn’t already special enough, we watched a couple get engaged right after dinner!!! It was the sweetest. I may or may not have cried like a baby.

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Sunday morning, our actual anniversary, we got an early start and had a delicious breakfast at Uncommon Coffee Roasters. It was the cutest little spot. I wanted to order muffin and scone crumbs from the display (isn’t that the best part?), but it wasn’t exactly on the menu. DSC00453

I had oatmeal with brown sugar and chai tea.

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Robert had a cinnamon oat muffin, hot apple cider, and a smoothie. He also had some wicked photography skills! I kind of want to move into this image he took below (he took most of the photos in this post with our new camera.)DSC00459At last, it was time to head home. But first, we stopped at the same apple orchard we went to on our way home from our honeymoon! We stumbled upon it thanks to a sign on the side of the road last year and couldn’t have been happier that it was only 15 minutes away from where we stayed this year. It was a much different experience picking apples in the warm sunshine compared to the downpour we experienced while apple picking last time, but it was just as fun.

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We took some shots for Robert’s forthcoming country music EP. ha!

DSC00470We decided to start the tradition of taking a picture every year on our anniversary.

Year One:

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I’m so happy we got a chance to get away for a few days. It was such a perfect opportunity to spend time together, reminisce about the past year, talk about our future, and make new memories together. I can’t wait to see what year two has in store for us!

Mom & Dad Visit Chicago and We Did STUFF

IMG_5781Earlier this week, my Mom and Dad flew from New York to Chicago to hang out for a few days. On Monday night, Robert joined us for dinner at Revolution Brewing, but had to catch a flight that evening for work (sadface). Still, the three of us (and Remy and Pippa!) managed to have the BEST time so I thought I’d share a few highlights from their short visit.

We didn’t have any solid plans for their trip. I was hoping they could help me take care of a few odd projects around the house. Nothing major. They’re just so good at organizing and making spaces more functional. They’ve lived in four homes in the past six years and each has been flawless, so I figured they could offer some advice.

Well, before I knew it they were measuring things, making lists, and pulling items out of kitchen cabinets. I realized I hadn’t made any major updates to my kitchen since we moved into our home over a year ago. But this week I learned that as time goes by, it’s great to reevaluate how you can make your spaces work even better for you. Armed with our lists and measuring tape, we headed out the door.

First, we needed sustenance so I took my parents to one of my favorite places in Chicago: Protein Bar. You guys, I’m obsessed. I go at least once a week. I just can’t get enough so I had to share the goodness with them. They loved it too! And then we took a selfie.

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Next, we hit up Bed Bath & Beyond and The Container Store. Do we know how to have a good time or what? The truth is, my parents make everything fun–even tedious tasks like running errands. Finally, we went to Whole Foods and picked up ingredients to cook for dinner. And gelato.

Back at the homestead THIS happened. It may look completely discombobulated to you, but to me it says progress. We (okay my mom, mostly) reorganized the kitchen so everything is a heck of a lot easier to grab when we need it. She also scrubbed shelves and pots and pans that had been somewhat neglected (oops) and taught me how to do this kind of stuff properly. Looks like I still have a lot of learning to do.

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One of the updates I’m most excited about is absolutely ridiculous. I finally got a Simple Human trashcan. Besides its functionality and sleek design, here’s why I love it: It meant we could move the trash out from under the sink, which allowed us to move the recycling bin from the pantry to the sink, and the dog food, which was awkwardly placed in a tiny utility closet, to the floor of the pantry. I also got new containers for their food that are so much easier to access. Feeding time at the Fowler Zoo is now so much faster and easier. I realize how absurdly boring all of this sounds, yet I learned a lot this week about carefully considering how your spaces work for you. If you can move things around or find an item that makes your life just a little bit easier, it makes a world of difference for everyday tasks.

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Pippa approves (and she loves my parents, too).

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While my mom continued her cleaning and organizing mission (gah, she’s the best!) my dad got started on dinner.

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On the menu: homemade shrimp cocktail and cocktail sauce.

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Grilled BBQ pork chops and corn (wrapped in foil with butter, salt, and pepper and then grilled and omg it’s insane). I made a salad.

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And finally, pie from Bang Bang Pie. Two slices of Key Lime, Peanut Butter Vengeance, and Mixed Berry Plum. It was sooo good.

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Wednesday, we continued our errand/home improvement spree with stops at Target and Home Depot. It seems silly that we’d spend our short time together doing this kind of stuff instead of, say, bopping around downtown. But to me, there’s something pretty special about doing completely ordinary things when my family is here. It makes them feel more like family than guests. This is the kind of priceless stuff they’d occasionally help with if we lived closer together. So we just packed it into a few short days.

Plus, I’ve spent my whole life witnessing my parents build an awesome home for my sister and me. I love that Robert and I get to do that now, but I still have a lot of learning and growing to do. It’s a process. Although at this stage of life my parents feel like friends (they’re my favorite people to hang out with), I also love that they were able to visit and Mom and Dad me for a few days.

After way too short a visit, Wednesday afternoon they were off and I was so sad to see them go. I get teary any time I leave them or they leave me. I love living in Chicago and know it’s where we belong right now, but living so far away from my family is the pits. I hope the distance doesn’t last forever. I’m so grateful I got to spend a few days hanging out with the coolest people I know. They never cease to amaze me with their knowledge, experience, and ability to turn what may seem like dull tasks into the happiest memories. Thanks Mom and Dad!

Here We Go!

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Hello, friends! Long time no see. I’m doing a little drive-by on my deeply loved, but lately neglected blog to tell you about an exciting adventure we have coming up….TONIGHT!

Robert and I are leaving for a two-week long vacation! We’re flying to Zurich tonight. We’ll be spending one week in Switzerland and one week in Northern Italy. To say we’re excited would be a tremendous understatement. We’re going to be on the move A LOT. We’ll be in a new city almost every day with the exception of two nights in Lucerne and then three nights in Venice at the end of our trip. We’re taking all of our stuff in big travel backpacks {pictured above. How did I wind up with the smaller one?} and I’m kind of thrilled about them. Of course, I have yet to pack so my opinion on the matter could soon change : ) Though the backpacks may seem rugged, rest assured we’ll be shacking up in hotels and not hostels #thisisthirty

This trip is also a big deal for me because I won’t be working at all for the full 16 days–no laptop, no e-mail–nothing. I may even go social-media free. Anyone who owns his or her own business knows how difficult it is to step away. You worry about work you’re missing out on that will get assigned to someone else. You wonder if you truly tied up all loose ends or whether you’re going to let someone down while you’re away. You wonder whether your editors {or clients or other business contacts} will replace you with a newer, shinier model in your absence. Whenever these moments of worry strike, I try to trust all of the hard work I’ve put into my career up to this point and believe it will be enough to help me pick back up when we return.

Of course, I know that even more than experiencing the awesome adventures, dreamy landscapes, and delicious food,I need this time away to clear my mind, hang out with my husband, and recharge. It’s so important and I’m beyond grateful that I get to do it in such a fun and grand way.

So here we go! And a huge thank you to Robert. He’s spent countless hours carefully planning every single day {his itineraries are epic} to make this the vacation we’ve both been dreaming about since before we got married. I actually have no idea what to expect so I can’t wait for each day to bring new adventures and surprises.

See you all in July!!

Life Lately: Home Improvements

Hi friends! It’s been a while since I did a little Life Lately post and updated you on some of the fun things going on around here besides food. So today I’m excited to share some of the big home improvements we’ve made lately. Our main living floor, which includes the living room, dining room, and kitchen is very nearly D-O-N-E!

If you’re new to the blog, we bought our townhouse in Chicago last July and moved in in August. Since we got married in September we didn’t do much furnishing/decorating for a while. The first big improvement was our kitchen backsplash in December. I also introduced you to Jana Bek. Her eye is amazing and she’s such a joy to work with. She’s made everything so easy for us and the best part is that although she provides tremendous input she takes all of our opinions and preferences into account so everything is still 110% us.

Eventually I hope to do a home tour with higher quality photos, but for now here’s a glimpse at our home as a work in progress.

 Living room. Light, bright, and cozy were what we were going for. I love that we worked in pieces we already had like the couch, Santa Monica print (a gift from Robert after a trip to L.A. together), the sampler (a handmade wedding gift), white stag, and side table along with newer items like the coffee table, pillows, rug, lamp, and painting.

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Our new built-ins. When we moved in, the spaces where you see the white cabinets were just two open, unfinished holes. Two weeks ago we had the cabinets built and we’re so happy with how they came out.

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 Dining room. The new light fixture may be my favorite part of our home so far.

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For Robert’s birthday this past friday (happy birthday, love!) I gave him a record player and my parents gave him the speakers. We had such a fun date Friday evening after work shopping for records and starting our collection. The turntable has been spinning pretty much ever since he set it up Friday night. I’m loving it just as much as he is. In this age of multi-tasking devices, there’s something so simple and satisfying about an object that serves only one purpose. Plus, it looks pretty cool if you ask me : ) The records and seagrass bench probably won’t live there permanently {the bench lives in our bedroom–our next big project}, but it works here for now.

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Finally, here’s a shot of the kitchen table in party mode before Robert’s birthday party on Saturday. I realized afterward that I didn’t get a final picture with the most important dishes–slow cooker BBQ pulled chicken {for sliders} and two trays of mac & cheese. For those who asked for recipes, check out the links above. It was also my first time making a three layer cake and frosting from scratch.

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We had so much fun celebrating with friends {too much fun to remember to take any pictures, apparently} and loved inviting so many people into our home for the first time. Creating this space into something we love has made it feel more like a home than ever before.