a baby shower for my sister

My sister is having a baby soon (very soon!) and I could not be more excited. I was delighted to host a baby shower for her yesterday. Several of her family, friends, and colleagues came to shower her with love, baby clothes, and eat a delicious cake (made by her boss!). However, many of those who love Alison were not able to attend the festivities. We missed you all, but your love and good wishes were felt as Alison received your gifts. I wanted to share pictures from the lovely afternoon!

my favorite lentil soups

Lentil soups are the one of my top choices when I need to make something that’s fast, healthy, hands-off, and cheap. I always keep lentils in my pantry (hey-o, zero waste!) and they can be made into a delectable soup with only a few other ingredients. And often you can throw everything in the slow cooker.

This fall, I made so many lentil soups that they all started to blend together in my brain. The other day, a friend asked me to send her the recipe for a soup I’d mentioned making, and I hadn’t the foggiest idea which of the myriad of lentil soups that might be.

So, to keep everything straight, for me and for you, here’s a compilation of my favorites. A few are a tad fancier and a couple are quite simple. But they’re all remarkably delicious. And easy. And healthful.

These are listed in order of easiest (or perhaps, simplest) to fanciest. But none are much work relative to many other dishes. I recommend doubling them all; they freeze remarkable well.

Moroccan Red Lentil Stew {Parents Need to Eat Too}
This comes from a cookbook and I can’t seem to find it online. It’s super simple, like most of the recipes in the book, but remarkably good for minimal effort. You put everything in the slow cooker and walk away. I highly recommend this cookbook if you are short on time but want to make healthful dishes to please a variety of palettes.

Red Lentil Soup {the kitchn}
This is one of my go-to recipes. It’s super simple as written, but you can jazz it up by adding other ingredients. I’m always amazed at how delicious it is for such little work.

Freezer Meal Detox Lentil Soup {Pinch of Yum}
Make this. And all of the freezer meals on this blog. So good. I rarely freeze the ingredients together; I usually just make the soup. It’s a good one to take to a friend who needs dinner. Healthy and yummy.

Glowing Spiced Lentil Soup {Oh She Glows}
Can’t go wrong with this one. A touch fancier than the above recipes, but still quite easy.

Healing Thai Butternut Lentil Soup {ambitious kitchen}
This recipe is a bit different than the others because of the Thai flavors, the coconut milk, and the nut butter. It’s richer but not in a bad way. In a way that is comforting after a long day. I’ve used potatoes (sweet or regular) in place of the squash on occasion and it’s worked out very well.

Spicy Red Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Spinach {Milk Street}
Milk Street recipes are amazing. This one is no exception. Definitely double it.

Happy New Year, all!

easy pumpkin cookies

It’s a deep question of nature vs. nurture: Does autumn drive our bodies to crave pumpkin and nutmeg, or is it just society influencing us through advertising and social media?

Truth is, on this one, I don’t really care. I like pumpkin everything. (Well, except for pumpkin spice lattes, which might make me a bit of an outcast? See, advertising can only reach so far!)

Anyhow. I’ve made a lot of great pumpkin recipes this fall. I’m currently all about these Pumpkin Oatmeal Anytime Squares (Vegan and GF!) from Oh She Glows. I’ve also been making pumpkin overnight oats by combining steel-cut oats with pumpkin puree and milk (any kind!) and spices. To take it up a notch, I’ve been really want to make this Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal from Minimalist Baker.

But, sometimes, you just need a straight-forward gluten-filled cookie. Maybe you need to take a dessert to a school Halloween party or you’re hosting a fall gathering of your book club? These cookies are just the ticket. They’re not too much work, they’re just the right balance of healthy and indulgent. They’re not too crumbly so if you give them to your kids you won’t have to immediately get out the broom. They’re also pretty adaptable. If you don’t have pumpkin, applesauce works. Use any oil or butter you have. Don’t want chocolate? You crazy. I mean, add dried fruit or nuts!

Happy October, friends!

Easy Pumpkin Cookies
½ cup coconut oil (or butter), softened or hardened so it can be whipped with the sugar
¾ brown sugar
1 cup puréed pumpkin
1 egg beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ (187.5g) cups white flour
1 cup (120g) whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground nutmeg (freshly grated tastes amazing!)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the oil and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and beat for one minute more. Then add the pumpkin and vanilla extract.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the flours, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

3. Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, to the liquid mixture. Gently mix in the chocolate chips with a spatula.

4. Using a cookie dough scoop or your hands, form the dough into 1-2T balls.

5. Bake at 350 for approximately 15 minutes.

zoë's first birthday (with pumpkins)

Earlier this month, Zoë turned 1! Seriously. She is over a year old.

The past year has been full of ups and downs and a whole lot of fatigue. Her little personality is absolutely marvelous and we are so grateful she is a part of our crazy family. She has never known anything other than a family with four people in it, and she’s throwing herself into things more and more every day.


After sprinkle waffles for breakfast, we piled into the minivan, picked up Auntie Al and Uncle Jakob, and headed north to Rock Creek Farm. It was a typical “fall” day in Colorado: 70 and sunny. Ha. But we all had a great time picking out “the perfect” pumpkins and checking out the other fall activities. I really like this particular farm because it is organized well and the attractions aren’t overwhelming. I don’t need a bouncy house; I just want some pumpkins. The goats and tractors are nice, too.

We had a lot of fun at the pumpkin patch, and Zoë was in good spirits. But, once we got home, she was pretty darn fussy. Teething…learning to walk…brain development…Being one is hard work, I imagine.

She was overtired, so I rocked her for a short nap which isn’t something we do often. It seemed like a great way to be celebrating her birthday for both of us. Then I made pesto with all the basil from our garden, just as I had on the day I went into the hospital in labor. We had a nice family dinner and a pumpkin bread “cake” that Willa picked out for her at the pumpkin patch (“so you don’t have to do any more work, mama”).

It was a good day. It’s been a good year. We love you so much, Zoë!

friends + noodles forever

A couple months ago, my dear pal Rachel and her daughter Shoshi came to visit. We did what we do: had fun spending time together and eating copious amounts of Asian food. There were also trips to some local splash pads, lots of ice cream (including affogatos for breakfast with condensed milk ice cream à la Dan accompanied by Chinese yóutiáo), tacos, and a kid-free dinner out. It was delightful to not only get to spend time together as friends, but also to see our kids have fun together. And, not to toot our horn too much, but the noodles we made were divine. This is usually the case when we cook together. Good vibes = good food.

Thanks for making the trip, Bai!

so, you wanna reduce your waste?

If you know me or have checked out this blog or my Instagram, you know I’m pretty into reducing waste. I talk about it a lot. It’s one of the things I’m most passionate about these days. As a result, I’m completely thrilled that I’ve had several friends ask me recently for tips about how to go about reducing their waste. Fist bump, friends! Because I think we can all agree that the picture below shows a sad state of affairs, right?

There are a lot of “zero-waste” blogs and other resources available on the Internet, so I urge everyone to do their own research and check out the true experts. They can all explain why moving towards a circular economy is better for the planet and why single-use plastic is the devil.

I’ve drawn on these resources as I’ve progressed along my “journey” to reduce our household waste. After a few years of really focusing on the things we can do (and the things we can’t quite take on), I think I have a decent number of tips to share. Also, many people living the “zero-waste” lifestyle don’t have kids, and that adds a serious wrinkle to one’s systems. Decreasing your own trash is different than reducing what a family of five generates!

This is a huge issue and there is so much that can be said (thus the reason I talk about it on the daily!), so I’m going to start with some broad-stroke tips for getting started. Take ‘em or leave ‘em.

one. // Use what you ALREADY own.
Being “eco-friendly” is trendy. There are stores that will sell you many things to help you go forth on your “zero-waste” journey. Some of these things are very useful (metal straws). Some of these things are beautiful but not necessary (Wreck jars). Use up the things you already own. Even if this means using some not so Instagram-able plastic Tupperware until it breaks, using items that are already in your life is always better than supporting the manufacturing of new materials.

two. // Buy LESS and buy USED.
The cold, hard truth is that the world is against us in this crusade. It might change in the future, but for now we live in a disposable economy and it’s incredible hard to avoid having trash come into your life. The best way to create less waste is to just consume less. When you need or want something, first shop your house. Maybe you have something like it that you’ve forgotten about. If not, ask around. Maybe you can borrow it or get it for cheap from someone you know. If that fails, buy it used. There are lots of online or local consignment options.

Food is obviously a semi-exception to this point because you have to buy some amount of food. It’s still a good area to think about buying less (statistics about wasted food are crazy!) but when talking about shopping for food, this is an area it’s more important to consider the packaging…

three. // If you have to buy, CONSIDER the PACKAGING and the MATERIAL.
Best choice = buy without packaging.
Better choice = buy with compostable packaging.
Good choice = buy in paper, glass, or aluminum packaging.
Less than ideal choice = buy in recyclable plastic packaging.
Worst choice = buy in non-recyclable packaging.

Packaging is pretty easy to “rate” but the material of the product can be harder. But the key question to ask yourself is “what is going to happen to this when I can’t use it anymore?” For this reason, I try to buy mostly clothing of organic fibers and toys made of wood or paper. And you always want to think about the quality of the item. If it’s really high-quality plastic that won’t likely ever break or is something you’ll use for years and years to come, then you should buy it!

four. // COMPOST and seek out COMPOSTABLE items.
Food scraps, brown paper bags, pizza boxes, wine corks, tissues, tissue paper, paper towels, paper napkins, toothpicks, bamboo = all compostable. Many cities, including Denver, have city-wide compost collection. It’s pretty ridiculous that in Denver we have to pay for it yet trash is free. However, the bin is large, so you can certainly share with several neighbors to defray the cost. Backyard compost is always an option too; look for free 101 classes at your local library or through the city.

If you need a single-use option, try to find one that’s compostable. It’s easy to order food “for here” at a coffee shop or restaurant and then pick it up off the plate with a compostable napkin. Much better than getting a plastic container! However, you should always try to use reusables before turning to compostable paper products. Paper towels, plates, tissues, etc. all take a lot of resources to manufacture and ship. This makes them less ideal for the environment.

five. // Develop a “rag system.”
In our house, we use different-sized towels or cloths for all kinds of tasks:

  • Towels are for kitchen clean up.

  • Large rags are for one-time messes like Zoë’s food on the floor.

  • Small cloths are used as baby wipes, tissues, or as toilet paper.

  • We use tablecloths and cloth napkins.

  • Cloth produce bags are for grocery shopping and taking food on the go.

After use, baby wipes (and cloth diapers) go in a wet bag and all the other soiled cloths are thrown in a big laundry basket in our unused downstairs shower. Everything gets washed on the “Sanitize” cycle in the washing machine and is used again. Our towels are an assortment of dish towels, and all the smaller cloths are cut-up old clothes. When I am out of the house I will sometimes throw away a “baby wipe” cloth. I figure the old clothing was destined for the landfill anyway, so at least it got a few more uses.

This is our system, but there are lots of ways you could do it depending on your family’s needs and your house/washing set-up. Also, everyone has a different tolerance for and understanding of germs…do what you’re comfortable with but I’m sure you can come up with a system that works for you!

six. // Use CLOTH BAGS and a WASHABLE MARKER at the grocery store.
Stock pile a whole bunch of cloth bags to use at the grocery for produce and bulk items. These can be bags you have bought (I, personally, avoid bags made of synthetic fiber, but that’s a personal choice), bags you already have (I have several cloth bags that purses or other items came in like TOMS shoes), or you can make your own if you’re a sewer (make me some too, please!).

The washable marker is to write the PLU number on your cloth bags for bulk items. The cashier can then see it clearly and it’ll wash right out in the laundry. If your grocery requires you to print out stickers for bulk items, your hands are probably tied, but you can always ask!

(A more “advanced” option is to take your own jars to places like Whole Foods that will tare them for you, but I don’t recommend tackling this if you’re just starting out.)


seven. // RECYCLE but only minimally. REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE, REPAIR and ROT are all better choices!
Recycling is not the answer, particularly when it comes to plastic. Plastic gets downgraded each time it’s recycled and there’s not much of a market for thin/cheap plastic. I often hear people complain that their recycling bin is overflowing every week and they wish it got picked up by the city more often than their trash is collected. I agree with this to a certain extent, but if your recycling bin is super full, then you should still take a closer look at your materials consumption. Recyclables often end up in the landfill.

eight. // ANALYZE your waste.
Everyone is different and we all consume different types of products. Check out your own trash and recycling bins to see what you are throwing away on a regular basis. Ask yourself if you could procure those items in a different or better way.

One example from my house is yogurt containers. Even though I was buying the big tubs of yogurt, we’d still have one in our recycle bin each week. As a first response, I started buying yogurt in a glass jar. That helped from the waste perspective, but it was expensive. I then started making my own yogurt which has worked really well for us. And it’s really not that hard!

nine. // Don’t be too SELF-CONSCIOUS.
Eighty years ago, people would have thought the idea of using something one time and then throwing it out was absolutely bonkers. But, today, it’s the norm. When you challenge the norm, people sometimes get a bit confused. When I first started asking for drinks without straws people looked at me like I had three heads. But now, they often reply, “oh of course, we don’t use straws anymore!”

The grocery worker often thinks I’m a bit weird when I ask them to put deli meat or salmon in my Tupperware, but then, sometimes, they have an “ah-ha” moment when they’ll respond “oh wow, that’s a good idea!” My family has rolled their eyes at me more than a few times, but I have observed subtle changes in their own behavior over the years. If refusing single-use packaging is important to you, just be friendly and polite, and usually you’ll get a decent response. Sometimes you’ll get a dirty look or a “no,” but just keep on trying!

ten. // Remember THIS:
All the plastic ever created still exists. It won’t go away in a period of time that we can conceptualize. That one fact keeps me up at night, but has helped me dramatically change my behaviors of consumption!

Now, go forth and reduce your waste. Fist bump, friends!

willa turns 6!

While we were in Minnesota, Willa celebrated her sixth birthday! We had a fun celebration at the lake house where we were staying: pancakes, a walk in the woods, tubing, paddle boarding, and a dinner out of pizza and ice cream sundaes. What more could a girl want? 

Well, apparently, when you're six you ALSO want a big party the next week with all your friends, a large (borrowed) water bouncy house, gummy worms, cupcakes, and presents. So we did that to celebrate, too.

Willa decided she wanted a backyard water party, and thank goodness for our kind and generous friends because the bouncy house made the whole party! We added in some snacks, seltzers, beer and cupcakes but really I don't think anyone will remember much besides the water activity.

Willa was absolutely delighted to hang out with her friends for an afternoon in the sun. She ate a lot of gummy worms and drank a few cans of apple juice. She loved telling people about the party both before and after it occurred. Cameron, also, took full advantage of the on-loan toy, and didn't get out of the water's spray until the sun was setting.

Happy Birthday to our wild Willa! 

Minnesota, Lady's slippers

When I was a kid, we drove across the country a few times. In the pre-iPad era, we looked out the window, sang songs, played travel bingo, and talked. Also: sister was often so engrossed in her reading that she didn't want to look out the window, and my parents bought a tiny TV that we somehow watched. I have many wonderful memories from those family adventures.

At one point, my Mom decided to use her handy AAA travel guide to teach us facts about the states through which we were driving. And for whatever reason, Minnesota's state flower really stuck in our heads. We probably said "Minnesota, Ladyslipper!" a thousand times, likely driving our parents crazy? 

Last month, we hit the road for our own family road trip. Destination: Minnesota. My above-average Minnesota knowledge is probably what led me to forge a deep friendship with a Minnesotan in college. Sixteen years later, Alli and I are still going strong and are lucky to have regularly vacationed together and visited each other, often with our families. This was, in fact, our second road trip to Minneapolis. However, the last time there was only one child involved...so, I guess it felt slightly less involved? 

The road trip itself did feel pretty long, but we enjoyed our family time together and the trip was worth every mile. It was an especially important trip this year because Alli was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She is handling it like the ultimate rock star that she is, and has always been, but it is still a lot. It has been challenging for me to be far away from a friend in a situation like this. Seeing her in person is always meaningful, but that felt especially true this time. No matter what the life circumstances, in-person interactions are so important in relationships. Nothing beats a face-to-face conversation and a hug, right?

While in Minnesota, we went up north to Alli's cabin and spent a few days enjoying fresh air and the lake. It rained a bit, but we had just as many if not more sunny hours. It was our first chance to try the SUP board Dan got me for mother's day. We had even more fun with it than we'd anticipated; it was really easy to get the hang of and the kids loved going out for paddles! 

Of course there was much more than paddle boarding. We went on boat rides, tubed, cooked delicious food, went for walks, exercised, and explored the nearby town. 

We also spent time some time in Minneapolis. I was able to go to one of Alli's treatments with her, we took the kids to the park and the pool, and we enjoyed a delicious brunch. The last time we got our families together, we had 3 kids, and this time there were 5! I think that'll be the cap on the kid front, but I cannot wait to see these "cousins" grow up together and enjoy many adventures with each other. And with their parents!

kindergarten, check.

Somehow, we're already one-third of the way through the summer break. Seems like it just started. I mean, I just went to the pool for the first time with all three kids. But summer is, indeed, in full swing. And kindergarten is in Willa's rear-view mirror.

I am extremely proud of Willa and everything she accomplished and experienced in the past year. She was brave, determined, adaptable, and enthusiastic. She made friends and formed meaningful relationships with teachers. She did most of her homework. 

The year ended with a slew of activities and celebrations. It was busy but fun. I love Willa's genuine desire to participate in all school functions (even when her family might be just slightly less energetic!).

^^willa performed a solo ballet dance for the school talent show. i was surprised at how big the audience was! many of the kids did group dances, but she just went out there on her own and danced to the music from the nutcracker. cam wanted to congratulate her with ice cream sandwiches from the grocery store across the street! or, perhaps, he just wanted one!^^

^^field dan! dan and cameron went to cheer her on.^^

^^kindergarten graduation! i must admit, i don't entirely understand the "point" of having a graduation from kindergarten (i imagine there's some history here and it hasn't been phased out entirely?) but it certainly was fun for all of us. willa and her classmates had rehearsed their songs for months. my personal favorite was to the tune of taio cruz's "dynamite." WE WILL GRADUATE, CUZ WE'RE DYNAMITE! anyhow. it was a nice way to bring the year to a close, and i appreciated having the opportunity to see and thank all the teachers, administrators, and staff who had an influence on willa during the year.^^

thanks for the visit, friends

In the years since I "officially" became an adult and got my "own place," we've always had a guest room. Having a guest room is obviously a privilege, and not something everyone can have, especially as families grow. That said, I really appreciate that we have one. Because having a guest room makes it more likely you'll have, well, guests. 

Last month, our guest room (and adjacent TV room) filled up with our dear friends Megan and Sean, and their son William. We spent a long weekend eating and chatting, walking and laughing, playing and sharing. It was so nice to have a chance to catch up in person. Phone calls and texts (and blog posts!) are most definitely technological advances that have afforded a new type of closeness in long-distance friendships, but nothing can replace real-deal face-to-face conversations.


Weekend activities included:
Pizza Night
Voodoo Doughnuts 
Comida at The Source 
City Park Jazz
Lions Park, Golden

vacation spot :: middlebury, vermont

We went to Vermont for a summer vacation in 2016. Two years ago!

It was an absolutely fantastic place for a summer vacation with friends. But I never blogged about it because we had so much fun and did so many things that I had too many pictures and I totally overwhelmed myself trying to figure out how I should organize them. #excuses

You, too, should probably go to Vermont for a vacation. Now keep in mind that I am definitely bias, since I went to Middlebury College and I met Dan there along with many of my closest friends. And I got married there! But still. Vermont is pretty rad. And Middlebury and the surround area makes for an excellent family vacation spot. Hear me out:

It's beautiful. Ya know, Green Mountain State and all!
We stayed at a house on a dirt road just outside of town. The views from the house were spectacular. The deep green of humid summer is always magnificent. The town, too, is picturesque. Between the old buildings, the college campus, Marble Works and the falls...there are many breathtaking views to take in.


There's pizza. 
Have you ever seen an American Flatbread pizza in the freezer section at Whole Foods and other groceries? They are arguably the best frozen pizzas available, and they are from Vermont. There's a Flatbread restaurant in Middlebury and it is nothing short of sensational. Great pizza, salad, and beer along with ample green space for the kids to explore before or after the meal.

There's other good food, too. 
Vermont has a great food scene. Farm-to-table is certainly not a new concept there. From the fancy to the creemee (soft serve ice cream), you won't be disappointed. 

The Middlebury Bagel Deli is an absolute MUST for breakfast. The bagel egger sandwich is a given, and you need to get some donuts too. Don't worry, you'll go do something active later (see below).

You can swim and hike!
There are numerous lakes to swim in and mountains or hills to hike. No matter what your desired exertion level, you can achieve it in Vermont! We opted for a couple of nature walks with the kids, and a day at Lake Dunmore. 


There are places in the world that have a profound impact on our lives. They become a part of who we are. For me, Middlebury is one of those places. It was truly special to spend a week there with my family and our great friends.

And I am glad I finally blogged about it. 

denver hot spot :: zeppelin station

Lucky for us, some recent dining trends dovetail quite nicely with our current family situation. Namely: fast casual. It's always ok to take children to a place where you order at a counter. And it's even better when it's a fast-casual eatery that has multiple options. Enter dining trend #2: the "food market hall."

Shortly after it opened, we tried Denver's newest such establishment: Zeppelin Station. Located in north RiNo, it's nestled amidst ongoing construction across the street from the 38th & Blake light rail station. Fear not, Denver drivers, there's a parking garage. There are also a few spots out front. It seems, regrettably, wholly inaccessible to bikers. I do hope I'm wrong on that point, though. 

Zeppelin Station boasts an impressive lineup of global cuisine. Mostly Asian though, so if you don't like Asian you shouldn't go and we can't be friends. There is, also, one Canadian place. Poutine! Get it. Always delicious. But this poutine wasn't especially remarkable. The Indian place, however, was. The Korean place? A bit of a miss.

But enough chit chat. Let me cut to the chase. From what we tried and my general critical analysis of food here's what I think you should eat:

A) Vinh Xuong banh mi, preferably their spicy tofu and avocado
B) Namkeen's methi chicken 

And if you do get food from Namkeen (or something besides Vinh Xuong), you should get "The Gelato Boy" dessert at Gelato Boy which is gelato on one of Vinh Xuong's sesame buns. SO GOOD. Zoë thought so too.

Last but not least, big props to Zeppelin Station for being very waste conscious! Most of the food containers are compostable and the rest are recyclable. Gelato Boy was a true delight because I almost always make my kids get ice cream in cones so there's no plastic, but this time there were compostable cups! (They still chose cones.) However, the spoons were only compostable in industrial facilities, which is of questionable environmental value, so good thing I'd brought my own.

Unfortunately, it appeared people weren't totally "getting it" quite yet. I'll spare you my photos of the bins, but the "LANDFILL" one was full of compostables and recyclables. C'mon people! Be more like me. Kidding. Kind of. Go to Zeppelin Station! 

zoë and me in NYC

Earlier this month I jetted off to the Big Apple with just my littlest little. My parents are living on the Upper East Side for a year, and I had to get out there to see them and their new urban stomping grounds.

My mom actually came to visit the week before so she could see the bigger kids, and then we flew back together. It was so nice to have her help for the flight. Having a lap infant may be a cheap way to travel, but, man, is it tiring! Amiright? 

In New York, we spent three days walking around 20,000 steps per day (thanks, FitBit!) and riding trains, buses, and taxis. We explored Central Park, the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, Chelsea, Chinatown, Brooklyn...and a bunch of other neighborhoods I don't know how to specifically name. 

I also got to see a dear old college friend, which is pretty much the best thing ever. Thanks for making time for me, Suz! 


The city is so beautiful. The buildings. The trees. The people. Part of me wanted to take a picture of everything, but a camera can't really capture it. I found myself often just putting my phone in my backpack and trying to take in the feel of the city.

Speaking of taking things in, we also did a lot of eating. The main focus was Chinese food and bakeries. Shocker, right?!

^^this chocolate chip walnut cookie from levain bakery was perhaps the most delectable thing i ate the entire time i was in the city. there may have been an entire stick of butter in it, but i did not care. it was so damn good. i wasn't sure what to order (read: i always panic!) so i asked the guy working. after the obligatory "get whatever you're feeling like; it's all good!" comment, he agreed that if i was only there one time, i should definitely get a cookie. he was not wrong.^^

^^we went to xi'an famous foods for their noodles, but i was more impressed with the lamb dumplings (pictured above). as you may or may not know, it is HARD to find a good dumpling outside of asian, but these were legit. the sauce was fantastic. the noodles were good too, although i may have ordered wrong. too many options! i froze. if i went again, i'd share noodles with someone and also order a vegetable to balance things out. the noodles are hand-pulled (or as they say, "hand-ripped!") and fantastic, but quite heavy.^^

^^we also tried joe's shanghai in chinatown. their xiao long bao were pretty good! but not amazing. the ambiance, however, was great. the bustling restaurant felt festive but not too touristy and the service was quick and kind. the tables were communal, so we had a nice chat with a lady in town from LA for work. i really enjoyed our meal there. and zoë tried my favorite dry-fried green beans, so that was pretty exciting!^^

^^there were drinks to be tried, too. i enjoyed this one at my parents' favorite bar: caledonia.^^

Another special experience I had while in the city was going to the 9/11 Memorial. It was really moving to see what they've done to that area, and to take pause to think about the significance of that event. The architecture of the new buildings in that area was particularly impressive. I was a bit put off by all the tourist taking selfies and such in front of the ponds...but I guess to each their own? 

We had such a nice visit to NYC. It was wonderful to see my parents, and to bop around the city and see places I hadn't seen in years. One of my mottos for life lately has been "it's good to do things," and this trip was a prime example. I am so grateful to have been able to go! And big thanks to my Mom and Dad for hosting us! And Happy Anniversary! ;) 




I've been a parent for almost 6 years. How I would self-describe myself as a parent has definitely changed a lot over the half decade (hellllooooo, minivan!). There are so many things I think about now that I never contemplated before having kids. And there are an equal number of things I used to worry about that no longer matter much to me. A lot of this is just life, I think. As we grow and evolve, we learn what is most important to us and what is not as important. Those priorities are always a moving target. No two days are ever exactly the same.

Since Zoë was born, I've become a lot more anxious as a parent. It might be that I have three little people to worry about and that's 33.3% harder than it was when I had just two little people. But, if I'm honest, I think it's more than that. I'm worrying about things with Zoë that I never worried about with Willa, and I only worried about a little with Cameron. 

I'm constantly worried about whether or not my phone is harming her growing brain and body. Six years ago, when Willa was born, we were all a bit less tied to or phones.

But then again, there have to be things I'm not worrying about, too. I am much less stressed about nap schedules. I breastfeed whenever and don't keep track of anything on an app. I know that everything is a phase and change is the only constant. 


I remember feeling panicked when Willa cried in the car.  But if Zoë cries when we're driving, I don't worry too much. I just remind myself that this is life and her needs will be met when we get to where we are going.

There are a lot choking hazard toys in our house. I can already feel myself worrying about those a lot. 

I don't feel anxious to put Zoë down all the time. I know the time she wants to be held is finite, and it'll end sooner than I want it to. I also am trying not to mind when almost 30 pound Cameron wants to be carried all the time. His time, too, is finite. In the meantime, I'm building arm strength?

I'm not sure what my point is here. I'm so sleep deprived that I'm not exactly in a place for quality essay writing. But I am grateful for all the exhausting chaos in our life right now and I remind myself of that whenever the worries start to become overwhelming. 


brussels sprouts and sweet potato salad

Tonight, I had deep dish pizza for dinner. It was decadent.

Last night, however, we ate the much healthier but equally delicious meal of brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. I posted a picture on Instagram and few people (ok, fine, just two) asked for the recipe. I'd made it up based on a few different recipes, so if I want to make it again, it'll be good to have it written out. Because, I don't know about you, but I can't remember anything off the top of my head these days. Thanks, sleep deprivation! (My sister pointed out that my habit of mixing together a few recipes to "make up" one was reminiscent of my mom's style of cooking. Like mother, like daughter!)

Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Balsamic Vinaigrette 

2 medium/large sweet potatoes, any variety
1-2lbs Brussels Sprouts, depending how much you love them
1/4 cup pecans, roasted
Olive Oil
1T balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. 

2. Cut sweet potatoes into 1/2- to 1-inch chunks. Place in a sheet pan and toss with olive oil and salt + pepper. (If you want the potatoes to crisp on the outside, make sure they aren't touching each other. If they are, they will steam instead of roast.) Cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until soft to a fork prick. 

3. While the potatoes are roasting, trim the ends off the brussels sprouts and slice in half lengthwise.

4. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. 

5. Place brussels sprouts, cut side down, in the pan. Cook, undisturbed, for about 5 minutes or until they start to brown. Then toss in the pan with a spatula until they are cooked through. Cook them in batches so as not to crowd the pan. 

6. In a large serving bowl, combine sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts. Drizzle with olive oil if necessary (depends on how much you used to roast/cook the vegetables) and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle pecans over top.