We’re Home!

It was a pretty uneventful weekend after a looong week last week. Saturday we caught up on some much-needed r&r and got ready to hit the road.. or sky. Whichever you prefer. It was a laundry, packing, eat-everything-in-the-fridge kinda day.

Yesterday was more relaxing than a typical flying day too. Our flight wasn’t until 4:45 p.m. so we actually got to sleep in, hit the gym, and have a quiet morning. It was nice to be able to take our time and not get up and rush out the door. That said, we landed in Baltimore at 1 a.m. EST. Nathan and I didn’t mind so much because it was 10 p.m. for us. My parents, on the other hand, are the best. They dragged themselves out the door to pick us up dark and early! Let’s be honest though.. it wasn’t so much dragging as it was bouncing from excitement πŸ˜‰

I couldn’t be more excited for this trip home. I can’t wait to see some of my favorites..

Jilly Bean Poppy

The sweetest picture ever.

I’m looking forward to stuffing my face with my entire family on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Dinner Deep Fried Turkey Slicing

There will be LOTS of deep fried turkey carving!

I’m so, so happy to be able to be there when my cousin gets married on Saturday!

Nathan Me Nicole Kirk Awkward Family Photo

My favorite picture of the 4 of us..

And, of course, I can’t wait to celebrate my little bean’s first birthday.

Jilly Bean

Look how teeny she was!

Jilly Bean Walking

Can’t believe it’s already been a year..

Ironically enough, we’re going to be celebrating our 1 year in California while we’re back in Baltimore.. but I’m ok with that. It’s going to be a good 2 weeks, my friends. And it’s a great way to start my week, for sure. No meal planning this week.. it’s a play-by-ear till Thursday. Fine. By. Me.

Food for Thought

If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving, are you able to be with your family?

27 Years

Isn’t it funny how your birthday really just sneaks up on you as you get older? When you’re young, it’s a whole big to-do.. your parents bring Dunkin Donuts munchkins into school, you get a big party with lots of cake, and you get a whole day about you. Well, I decided to take the day off of work today, Nathan’s coming home early to take me to lunch, and Saturday [after work] is all birthday fun! It’s the little things that make me realize how lucky I am.

This birthday is definitely a bit different for me; it’s my first in California so it’s going to be full of all new experiences. Last year, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by a ton of family and I loved it.

Grandpa

This year already kicked off with a great startβ€”I skyped with my mom who sang happy birthday to me at 12 am EST. The time difference is still weird sometimes but she is always there to remind me that I was born in Eastern Standard Time πŸ˜‰ And I’ll be back in Baltimore for more celebrations in just a few days.. I can’t believe it’s here already and I’m so looking forward to it.

My 26th year brought quite a bit of change with the big move across the country. It’s really taught me a lot about my life, myself, my marriage, and so much more than I could have imagined. As someone who isn’t a big fan of change, giving up my career to explore what I think I want to do with my life next has been really scary. And while it’s been difficult, I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive husband to encourage me and cheer me on throughout the process. In the last year, I’ve learned even more that Nathan truly is my best friend; we couldn’t have done this move without each others’ support and I’d say that’s a hell of a lesson to learn.

Stinson Beach Brittany Nathan

I may not be with my family and friends this time around, but I think I’ve got a pretty great group of people to celebrate with out here.

Tone It Up TIU Mission Dolores Park Clueless

Not to mention how special it’s going to be when I get to see the fam again.

Orioles Dad

Orioles Mom

Jilly Bean Smiles

Matt Jilly Melissa

Things seem to really be falling into place and 26 was a hell of a year. I can’t wait to see what 27 will bring!

No questions today, just thoughts πŸ™‚

We’re Home!

This past weekend has been one of my favorite in a while. Friday we flew home for a long weekend and it’s been so great to see everyone again, especially my new favorite person.

Jilly Bean Smiles

Jilly Bean Play Time

Jilly Bean

Matt Jilly Melissa

We also took the whole mishbacha [<– that’s family] to the Orioles game. Even though it ended up being an O’s loss, it was a ton of fun to be there with everyone and turned out to be a pretty good game!

Orioles Dad

Orioles Grandpa

Orioles Mom

Orioles Nathan

Baltimore Orioles Tampa Bay Rays

We made it to our favorite bar after getting some much-needed squeezes from my girls.

Nicole Me Jessie

Maxs Taphouse

And of course, we had to break out the wedding cake. Unfortunately it didn’t make it to California with us, but my parents were nice enough to store it in their freezer for the past 7 months.

Wedding Cake Bananas Foster

It was almost as good as we remembered and we were happy to share it with all of the family that was there.

We head back to California tomorrow but I have to say it’s been really nice to be home and I’m already looking forward to coming back in August!

Food for Thought

Do you live far from home?
What’s your favorite part of visiting home?

Five Things Friday: Family Edition

For my list of things that are important in life, family ranks #1. And maybe I’m biased but I’m pretty sure mine takes the cake.

  1. Waking up to pictures like this one make my day.
    Jilly

    She really is the cutest.

    Don’t you just want to squeeze her?!

  2. I have the best husband. Honestly, I know everyone feels that way but anyone that will drop anything to come be with youβ€”without you askingβ€”is someone worth holding onto. I’m a lucky gal.

    Sunset San Francisco

    He’s cute too.

  3. I’m missing my family right now. I wish it were easier to go home but the reality is that it’s pretty darn pricey. Skype is the best and I love that I can see my parents so often.

    Mom Dad Golden Gate Bridge

    This was nice too though.

  4. I can’t wait till we go home in August. I’m already planning so many fun things.. my parents don’t even know! Labor day cookout? Orioles game? Let’s get to planning πŸ™‚

    Baltimore Orioles

    O-R-I-O-L-E-S!

  5. Speaking of baseball, Nathan and I are headed to the A’s game on Sunday. We got some new gear to sport and it’s definitely going to be a good time. Definitely looking forward to the weekend with my best friend.

    Stinson Beach Brittany Nathan

    Hopefully it’ll be a little warmer πŸ˜‰

Food for Thought

What are you looking forward to this weekend?

I’m grateful for…

I have to admit, while I hoped to participate fully in Elf 4 Health, it’s been really tough. I’ve been doing so much running around over the past week looking for a place to live and any downtime that I have is spent searching for more places to visit or skyping with my family. Or doing both at the same time. That said, today’s Elf 4 Health challenge is to make a list of 20 things I’m grateful for. I just couldn’t skip this one.

  1. Skype. Maybe it seems weird that this is first on my list, but since moving across the country, I couldn’t be happier to have this technology. I talk to my parents on skype a few times a day and have been able to see the rest of my family and some friends.
  2. Jilly. Speaking of skype and the rest of my family, the baby is here!! I’m sad I wasn’t able to be at the hospital with everyone but I did, at the very least, get to see the baby girl when she was just hours old. She’s such a cute little nugget and I’m so incredibly happy for my brother and sister-in-law. They couldn’t be happier and I know they’re going to be amazing parents.

    Jilly

    Really, how perfectly adorable is that face?!

  3. Nathan. Obviously I’m a fan, but he’s been really great with this move. He has his job and is starting to create his routine while I’m trying to figure everything out. He couldn’t be more encouraging and supportive of me trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. Not to mention he knows how to make me smile and takes me on road trips to breweries!

    Oakland Farmers Market Blue Bottle Coffee

    Our first farmers’ market trip. Many more to come!

  4. My parents. To say they weren’t thrilled about the move is an understatement but they’ve been great. They put us up at their house for a few days before the move and the day after Thanksgiving, they woke up bright dark and early to take us to the airport. They have given all the support they can possibly muster up and I love em.

    3 Generations

    3 generations – baby girl, daddy, and grandpa.

  5. My grandparents. I got to skype with my maternal grandparents when they were at the hospital visiting Jilly and even though everyone was totally confused as to how to hold the iPad and what to do, it was great to see them so happy with their great grandbaby. And I know my grandfather on my dad’s side couldn’t be more excited to visit the new family soon!
  6. Jessie. She’s one of my best friends and knows what it’s like to move all over the country and away from family. She knows what homesick feels like and even though I was texting her last night at 10pm, I have to remember that it was 1am for her. Her texts may have been influenced by a bit of wine, but those are the best kind, right?

    Jessie Heavy Seas Ale House Baltimore Maryland MD

    Miss her.

  7. The gym. The hotel where we’re staying actually has a decent enough gym and my workouts are making me feel more normal. I like to pretend like I have some sort of routine πŸ˜‰

    Hotel Fitness Center

    I can only use one machine at a time anyway..

  8. FREE FOOD! Our hotel has breakfast included everyday and dinner/drinks included Monday-Thursday. Breakfast is fine.. I always have my oatmeal but Nathan is learning to deal. Dinner is.. well.. we’ve eaten it once. But they do have a decent salad bar so I’ll take it. Free is free!
  9. Whole Foods. There’s one right around the corner from Nathan’s office and I’ve been able to get a few small things to cook up quickly as well as some food from the hot bar and we’re practically living the dream over here! [I’m just happy to eat all of their roasted veggies!]

    Whole Foods Kombucha

    And they have kombucha on tap!

  10. Beautiful scenery. I’ve been loving all of the views of the water and mountains as I’ve been driving through San Francisco by myself, but driving with Nathan yesterday and seeing his reactions really made it even more special.

    San Francisco California CA

    The hills here are terrifying to drive!

  11. Healthy lunches. They’re everywhere in SF! I love trying all of the new places.

    Evolution Fresh Kevins Kale Quinoa Butternut Squash Bowl

    Evolution Fresh has a cafe here and it’s amazing!

  12. Almond milk lattes. Really, they’re just great.

    Almond Milk Latte

    The best.

  13. Chocolate and peanut butter. And marshmallow! This homemade s’mores peanut butter cup was out of this world!

    S'mores Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup

    I need to make these.. genius!

  14. Beer. Nathan and I took a little road trip yesterday to Lagunitas and Russian River. They both make some mighty fine beer and serve awesome food too! We split a roasted veggie pesto sandwich at Lagunitas and then a crispy crust vegan pizza at Russian River. Great way to spend a Saturday!

    Lagunitas Brewing Company Beer Sampler

    So tasty!

  15. Our king size bed. We definitely took it for granted and didn’t realize until we started sharing a queen size bed at the hotel. I can’t wait to get ours back!
  16. The rest of our furniture. I miss the cozy feeling of sitting on my own sofa. Soon enough, though. Soon enough.
  17. PayByPhone. While I don’t love having to pay for parking everywhere I go right now, it’s definitely much easier when I can just pay my meter from my phone when I’m 10 blocks away!
  18. Guest bloggers. Like I said, I’ve been slacking lately and it’s nice to have such a wonderful community to help me pick up some of the slack and keep you all happy πŸ˜‰ [P.S. I have one more coming!]
  19. Social media. I love reading blogs and haven’t been reading as much lately, but as Caitlin reminded me, they’ll be there when I get back to it!
  20. You all! I’m so happy to have you reading my blog even with my lack of attention lately. Thanks for sticking around πŸ™‚

I’d say that’s a whole lot of marvelous, huh?

Food for Thought

What are you grateful for?

What I Ate Wednesday #52: Another Birthday

Oh hi there, friends! It’s been a while, huh? Sorry about that.. life has been crazy the past couple weeks and I’ve been gathering all of the pieces.

Speaking of crazy, I can’t believe it’s already September! Here I am with my birthday edition of WIAW and it’s only 2 weeks late πŸ˜‰ I happened to have found myself in Florida on my birthday and even though we already had plans at home,Β  we quickly adapted and I had quite a tasty day. Not to mention, I was also with a bunch of family that I don’t often get to see; it was so nice to spend the day with everyone!

First and foremost, I want to wish a HUGE congrats to Jenn and her husband on the birth of their baby girl! So happy for you two three!

Birthday Lunch with the Fam!
Last time Nathan and I were in Florida, just a month earlier, we found a fabulous Vietnamese restaurant. This time, we wanted to try out another place to compare, so we dragged my family. How could they say no? It was my birthday! πŸ™‚

It was pretty entertaining watching everyone, including my Grandpa, trying to figure out the menu. Good thing there are always descriptions in English and lots of pictures!

Gramps <3

Gramps ❀

I just can’t get behind pho in the summer so my go-to has been the grilled pork vermicelli bowl. This pork was more of a sausage as opposed to the flat, grilled pork. It wasn’t my favorite vermicelli bowl, but it was still darn tasty! And of course I asked for extra crushed peanuts!

Grilled Pork Vermicelli Bowl

Grilled Pork Vermicelli Bowl

Snack Time!
After lunch, we dragged the youngins [otherwise known as the cousins and my parents] over to one of our new favorite breweries in Florida, Funky Buddha. I got a Cucumber Jones, a cucumber and basil infused wheat ale. I absolutely loved it! It was so refreshed and delicious.. I just wish I could get more of it!

Cucumber Jones Wheat Ale

Cucumber Jones Wheat Ale

Appropriately fuzzy, right? πŸ˜‰

Dinner
In the spirit of trying new restaurants, Nathan took me to a tiny Indian restaurant that seats about 10 people. It was a very “no frills” kind of restaurant; they even served the food in to-go containers. Works for us!

I went for the grilled tandoori chicken and Nathan, who was feeling something extra spicy, ordered the chicken vindaloo. When you order, they ask you to give a rating, 1 though 10, for how spicy you want your sauce. He ordered a 7 and it was definitely up there!

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken

Spicy Chicken Vindaloo

Spicy Chicken Vindaloo

The food was so flavorful and the portions were very generous. We will definitely be returning!

Birthday Dessert
FROYOOOOOOOOO!! Seriously, it’s all I wanted. We located the nearest Yogurtland and I absolutely loaded up! It was perfect.

Yogurtland Birthday Froyo

Yogurtland Birthday Froyo

And to top it all off, I ended my trip with a run [in exhausting humidity] with this view.

Sunrise Florida

Food for Thought

Do you prefer to go to a fancy restaurant for your birthday or would you rather keep it casual?

What is your favorite dessert?

What I Ate Wednesday #26 – Doing It Up Miami Style!

Have you entered my KIND Snacks giveaway? It ends tomorrow night.. don’t miss out!

Friday night, Nathan and I jet setted to Florida for a long weekend. I have family in the Ft. Lauderdale area so it’s always nice to be able to get away and go visit them, especially this time of year when it’s freezing at home! And since it’s not enough to just go to Florida, we planned a full day in Miami; completely revolving around food, of course!

We spent the day roaming South Beach with completely full stomachs. Seriously, this was not planned well. We had far too much food at every stop! But I guess if that’s my only complaint, it’s not so bad πŸ˜‰

[Brunch]
Yardbird

“A house of worship to farm-fresh ingredients, classic Southern cooking, culture and hospitality.”

This place is great! I loved the decor and all of the little touches, from the clever chalkboard drawings, right down to the paper napkin ring.

Yardbird Decor South Beach Miami Florida FL Jeff McInnis Top Chef

The staff was super friendly and really helped to make the experience so enjoyable and relaxing. I think my eyes lit up when we walked in and didn’t stop until we left. The kitchen was open to the restaurant and I loved being able to see everything being made and brought out. I definitely tried to scope everything out as it went by!

Yardbird Run Chicken Run South Beach Miami Florida FL Jeff McInnis Top Chef

Shares
Butter Lettuce and Grilled Mango salad with smoked pecans and benne seed vinaigrette.
Chilled Watermelon with cayenne pepper, lemon, and herbs.

His
Mama’s Chicken Biscuits with homemade pepper jelly and house-pickled cucumber, onion, and okra.
Coffee

Hers
Egg-white omelette with caramelized onions, muenster cheese, and smoked pork, topped with pimento cheese sauce. Buttermilk biscuit and fresh fruit on the side.
Coffee

Thoughts
The salad was tasty and I would recommend it if you’re looking for a light, refreshing salad. Next time, we would definitely look for something that packs a little more punch. Same idea goes for the watermelon; we like bold flavor!

Best biscuit ever? I think we both agreed on that one. It was light and flaky. Just the right consistency to peel layer by layer. The chicken was perfectly fried and the homemade pepper jelly was slightly sweet and spicy which was the perfect compliment. The omelette was chock full of mix-ins and flavor. I’d never had pimento cheese before but I think this may have converted me.

Overall, it was a great experience. I would definitely recommend a visit if you’re in South Beach and I’ll definitely be back again!

[Lunch/Snack]
Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs during brunch, but somehow we managed to put away all of that food. Which meant when lunch time rolled around, we weren’t hungry. Joe’s Stone Crabs were part of the original plan, but not being able to buy 1 or 2 for a little snack meant I skipped them all together.

Instead, we went over to the Hofbrauhaus.

Hofbrauhaus Hofbrau House Miami South Beach Florida FL

It had been a few hours and we’d done a few miles of walking so it was more-than-time for some beer. Or 1 liter each. And with all of that beer, clearly you need something to wash down!

Enter the meat and cheese platter with a side of soft-baked pretzel. Good thing we had the tiniest bit of room in our stomachs for this mound of deliciousness! We had no idea there would be so much food. But once again, we finished it. All of it.

And it’s worth noting, the people watching in Miami is second to none! You get a great view from the outdoor seating at this place.

[Pick-Me-Up]
Nathan has not stopped telling me about Aroma Coffee since he went to Israel 2 years ago. It’s the only coffee shop over there and they have the best coffee. So when he saw there was an Aroma Coffee in Miami, we had to stop in. And who doesn’t need a little iced cappuccino after a liter of beer?

Aroma Coffee Israel Miami South Beach Florida FL

[Dinner]
With no room left in our stomachs, we made our way over to Michael’s Genuine. It was featured on The Layover so we knew we had to check it out.

Michaels Genuine Food Drink Miami Beach Florida FL Anthony Bourdain

Unlike brunch, this time, we shared everything! We started with the Crispy Pig Ear. And if you can forget what you’re eating, it’s really delicious! They’re perfectly spiced and wonderfully crispy (just like the name!)

Next, we got the Crispy Sweet & Spicy Pork Belly with kimchi, crushed peanuts, and pea shoots. I love anything peanut so I was really digging the flavor and crunch on this.

Finally, for our meal we ordered the Grilled Leg of Lamb with salsa verde and the Wood-Roasted Brussel Sprouts with pancetta and lemon aioli. Unfortunately, I have to admit that this part of the meal fell flat. I was disappointed with the portion size of the lamb for the price, not to mention, it was cold when it came out. It wasn’t seasoned well and didn’t have tons of flavor. The brussel sprouts were good, but not anything really special.

In an attempt to make up for the lamb, we were comped a dessert of chocolate cake topped with ice cream and whipped cream. This happened to be the best part of the entire meal (and also the part that I didn’t photograph!)

With such a high price tag, I don’t think we would go back. The whole experience felt a bit over-hyped and even though we had a decent dinner, I’m sure we could have spent half as much and enjoyed ourselves much more elsewhere.

Overall, we had a great day in Miami. We were filled to the gills the entire time and couldn’t get enough of the sunshine and summery weather! Not exactly what you think of around the holidays, but a nice change of pace.

Food for Thought

Have you ever been to any of these restaurants? Have you ever gone to a restaurant that was recommended by someone famous and found that it didn’t live up to the hype?