Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A New Addition in September :)


If you follow me on Instagram or know me in person, you probably already know that Michael and I are expecting baby #2 in September! If not, surprise! We are both thrilled to become a family of four and giving Lydia a sibling. I'm 13 weeks pregnant and am finally starting to feel a little less exhausted. Much like my first pregnancy, I only experienced a little nausea in the morning and mostly because my stomach was empty. I am also experiencing the same aversions and cravings, nothing too sweet but lots of fruit, everything salty, spicy and sour. So far I am beginning to think much like my mom and sister that I am one who bypasses morning sickness, however, I seem to get a double dose of fatigue. I did exercise most mornings and it worked as a pick me up but still felt drained after lunch. Nap time became my best friend!

We found out I was pregnant pretty much the same way as last time. My period wasn't due for a few days but I was feeling off and sluggish. I just had a feeling I was pregnant. I told Michael to pick up a test, I took it that night and we waited for the results. I asked him if he could read it and he reacted the same as last time. "Oh boy" HAHA. I just laughed. We were both elated and a little nervous. In my previous post I talked about how we traveled to Puerto Rico in November, and there was an outbreak of the Zika virus back in the spring/summertime. We actually wanted to get tested for the virus before trying for a baby but God had other plans for us! So we quickly made an appointment that following Monday with our doctor to get a script for blood work. At this point we already told my sister and our parents so they could keep us in prayer as we prepared to test for Zika.

After we went to the doctor's office we learned that it was only necessary for me to get tested, and we got a stack of papers about the Zika virus and how the test worked. I actually googled up a storm prior to the doctor's appointment and learned about the horrors of the Zika virus to those who are pregnant. I prayed a lot prior to getting the blood work done and after while I was waiting for the results. I waited about a week until we fond out that I tested negative for the test. I felt incredibly relieved and thanked the Lord for answering our prayers! 


The three of us got to hear the baby's heartbeat a couple weeks ago, and last week we were able to see the baby for the first time via ultrasound! Lydia is still not sure what the heck is going on, but I am sure she'll fall in love once the baby is born. We are planning to find out the sex of the baby sometime in April, and would be happy with either a boy or another little girl. I already have a list of names! :) I may or not share the name on here once we've settled on one.  Now that I have finally posted something, I'm going to do my best by keeping you guys updated as I go through my pregnancy!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Long time no blog

Sometimes I lose track of the hours in the day, especially during the end of the year, and get distracted by all the small things on in my life. So here's a little glimpse of what's been going on in my life since I've been gone:


Since I last posted my family and I went to Puerto Rico during the week of Thanksgiving. It was a vacation with highs and lows, and all started with an Airbnb guest home that was not what we expected. To keep things short I’ll say the home wasn't as pictured (though we got what we paid for), the power went out more than once (this is actually normal in Puerto Rico though a lot of the businesses around the guest home had generators), a stray kitty always pooped in the flowerbed so the front porch was always smelly, and the most unfortunate: the shower water was always cold. We learned that the previous guests broke one of the showers and it was constantly dripping which caused all the hot water to be used up. However we did make the most of the house when the power was up and running but once it went out a second time towards the end of the week, we all threw in the towel and booked a hotel for the night. It definitely humbled us all. And made us appreciate our houses, consistent power, air conditioning, and hot showers.

bacalaitos, empanadas, rice, beans and mofongo!
Not to say we didn’t enjoy our vacation. We did! Michael and I got to visit Old San Juan, see my grandparents who live there, eat delicious food, and of course take Lydia to the beach for the first time. She didn’t seem that enthusiastic about the beach but absolutely loved the pool at the hotel.

Once we got home from our vacation, Michael started a new job that’s work from home all the time, and it’s been a huge blessing to have him around the house more. He's rested, we get to have lunch together almost every day, and he likes his boss. He was actually Michael’s boss a couple years ago at his old job, then he moved to a different company and reached out to Michael to see if he’d join his team. I was so happy that he was able to smoothly transition into this new job and that we can spend more time together. Periodically he will need to travel to New York, the first time he had to go there Lydia and I went with him. We stayed at my parent’s house and he commuted to the city from there, it was such a treat to spend time with my family!

Another small thing that's been going on is that we've been putting Lydia to sleep earlier and scheduling her naps. No more co-sleeping in this house! As much as we enjoyed the experience, you get to a point where you just want the bed to yourselves, and have your child in their own crib with a healthier sleep schedule. It's actually exciting because I'm getting that extra alone time during the day with her naps and of course dealing with a less cranky child during the day. A big part of why I haven't been blogging has a lot to do with the fact that I lacked the alone time to sit down and write. Alone time was so sporadic, and now it's more consistent, which means I should be back on here more!

During this transition, Michael has been such a big help and blessing. He has been putting her to bed most nights, praying with her and making her feel comfortable in the crib. It has been growing their bond too. She does fuss after he leaves the room and sometimes he’ll go back in, but she eventually falls asleep. Right now her crib is on our bedroom and when she wakes up in the middle of the night, I try to comfort her by holding her hand or if that doesn't work I'll cuddle with her. I am trying to be better with that though and teach her that she needs to put herself back to sleep.

We plan on moving her into her bedroom once Michael his office space into the basement sometime in the spring. I am hoping she loves her bedroom and won’t feel the need to sleep in ours!


Lastly, we hosted Christmas and it had a lot of fun with Michael's side of the family. I made this pear sangria, yellow rice, empanadas, cheese flan, and pumpkin bread. Michael made his famous wings and everyone brought a delicious little something-something! After we exchanged gifts, Michael shared a message the Lord placed on his heart and prayed before we all ate. We played The Game of Things and laughed up a storm! We are planning on hosting our small group on Thursday for an end of the year get together, and my parent's are visiting this upcoming weekend for New Years which we are also hosting. Lots of hosting but it's been coming with lots of help which has been much appreciated! : ) 

And the bad... I started to trim my bangs and got too carried away by cutting them too short... At this time I'm so thankful for bobby pins, headbands, and of course the fact that it'll grow back. But if that's the worst thing going on in my life, I'll be a-okay. 

Until next time my loves,



Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Love! {10.21.16}

source
I's been like two months since I've done one of these bad boys, so let's get started!

one// This Sunday Michael and I are going to Chicago! It's for a conference with Harvest Bible Chapel, and it'll be our first extended trip (3 days!) without Lydia. I'm a little nervous because the longest I've been away from her is a full day/overnight! However, at the same time I am looking forward to learning and becoming closer to God without all the distractions.


two// The other day I took a picture of Lydia sitting in her chair and realized I had taken a similar one exactly a year before. 7 months old vs. 19 months old. I think she was just starting to army crawl at that age and now she's running, climbing and dancing!

three// I am easing back into painting. I got out the oil paints that I had bought over a year ago and forgot about. I am hoping it'll help with relaxation and spark my creativity!

pacifier nostalgia 
four// So, Lydia hasn't used her pacifier in two full days! We have been talking about weaning her off of it, but my instincts just told me to just keep it from her and have her go cold turkey. I told Michael we need to be strong and not cave in when she's upset. Yesterday she was a bit of an emotional roll coaster but we all survived. On the bright side she's been sleeping through the night without a fuss! The next step? Have her sleep through the night in her crib :)

five// I'm happy that the weather is finally cooling down! This week has been so hot, and I have been drinking iced coffee in the afternoon when my soul is craving a hot latte. I also want to retire my sandals already and bring out the cozy fall/winter clothes. Today may be dreary and wet but I think it is refreshing, and I can appropriately wear a flannel and sip on a latte without sweating :)


six// After two years of reading my bible on my phone, I got myself a new bible this week and it's beautiful! Distractions are constant in my life, and doing my daily readings through my phone seemed to open doors to more distractions. I've always preferred reading books over screens so the transition from phone bible to real bible has been seamless!

That's all I have for this week, I hope you guys have a lovely weekend!


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Spicy Fried Chicken Thighs


Fried chicken. Where does one begin? I'll start by saying that it's one of my favorite things to cook with my husband. I do all the prep work, he does all the frying, and then we indulge in it together. Fried chicken is a special kind of food that gives you a hug and makes you stop thinking about the craziness of your day and focus on the present moment. Don't be afraid to allow fried chicken's crispy texture and flavor layered goodness to create a party in your mouth! Chances are you will feel a little better while eating fried chicken. Okay it might be temporary satisfaction, but I'll take it, and I'll allow it to be the highlight of my day because life is too short not to enjoy the simple things. 

In my kitchen we use boneless chicken thighs because it's our favorite part of the bird. But by all means you can use chicken breasts, legs, wings, or better yet a whole chicken! This recipe is flexible that way. Fried chicken tastes delicious at room temperature and contrary to belief it can be reheated in the oven, or dare I say it even eaten directly out of the fridge! You can make sandwiches the next day on a nice soft bun or toss it into a salad. The delta sauce recipe is optional but I really love it. It's almost like Russian dressing but much spicier and really elevates the fried chicken. The sauce can also be used on french fries, tostones, and yucca fries.


Fried chicken can be a bit of a messy kitchen adventure that does require a little time but believe when I say that it's absolutely worth it! I like to serve fried chicken with roasted potatoes and either a bright green salad or braised collard greens with a little lemon juice to balance out the richness of the chicken. Though if you decide to serve your fried chicken with flaky buttermilk biscuits, I'd expect an invitation for dinner at your place. ;)



Spicy Fried Chicken Thighs 

The recipe is based off of this one and it's truly a keeper!
Serves 8
  • 2lbs. organic boneless chicken thighs*
  • Buttermilk
  • salt, garlic powder and pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup Frank's Red Hot or other vinegar based hot pepper sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 cups flour 
  • 2-3 teaspoons cayenne powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh pepper
  • peanut or canola oil for frying 
  • kosher salt to taste
delta sauce: 
makes about 2 cups 
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup sambal oelek
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • fresh pepper to taste
Directions:

*You can absolutely use boneless breast meat just be sure to read my note on the bottom of recipe. 

  1. For chicken: Place chicken in a large plastic freezer bag and cover with buttermilk. Refrigerate overnight or at least two hours before cooking.
  2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, water and hot pepper sauce. Whisk until combined. 
  3. In a large gallon sized freezer bag, mix flour, paprika, pepper and cayenne. 
  4. Remove chicken from buttermilk and sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  5. Place all chicken pieces in freezer bag with flour mixture. Shake until all pieces are evenly coated. 
  6. Remove all chicken pieces one at a time, shaking off excess flour. Dip each piece of chicken in egg mixture, and return to bag of flour. After all pieces have been dipped into egg mixture and put back in flour bag, give another shake to coat the pieces of chicken again.
  7. Heat oil in a deep fryer or dutch oven to 350 degrees. Working in batches, drop each piece of chicken in hot oil. Fry for about 5-7 minutes each side or until golden brown. *If you're using breast meat it will cook faster. Season chicken with a sprinkle of kosher salt.


For the delta sauce: combine everything in a small bowl. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.

Enjoy! 




Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lydia Renee's { 19-month-update! }



I always find myself in awe with this little girl... Even when she drives me loco, I am always finding myself awestruck that she is my daughter and that I’m her mama. She just turned 19 months which means in five months she'll be a two-year-old! Her personality is really blooming. She’s strong-willed, passionate, and independent yet somehow still clingy with me especially. Independent in the sense that she's capable of playing by herself and not big on being spoon fed or having her hand held. Yet, clingy in the sense that she craves cuddles, which is fine, until she demands cuddles whenever I am in the middle of cooking dinner.


On talking: She doesn’t form sentences yet but is an excellent babbler! The words she says most have been very enthusiastic greetings such as “hi!” and “bye!!” She also likes to point to her head and say "head-head", and then of course she points to things and asks "whatsthat?!" I'm mama and Michael is "da." Sometimes she tells me "no!" which I don’t always agree with but it’s slightly better than her yelling or grunting her foreign language at me. She also barks. She seems to understand more than she can speak... Kind of like me with my Spanish skills! Though she's not a lost cause like me, and will learn to speak English fluently as time passes.

Lydia's daily activities: Besides babbling, Lydia's days are filled with what I think she believes as "organizing." She likes helping me clean by stuffing her toys in between the sofa cushion or slipping the really small stuff inside the vent.  She is big on reading and spends quite a while engrossed in her animal alphabet book. We are trying to teach her how to make animal noises and decipher which animal makes which sound. She loves playing hide and seek, and being chased too, though she's the happiest when she's outside and exploring nature. She's also happy when she is allowed to watch her nursery rhyme videos. She gets her groove on and I get a work out in, it’s a win-win. The YouTube channels that she loves (and that I can tolerate), are ChuChu TV, Dave & Ava, and occasionally The Farmees. If I sing the songs to her she tries to sing-a-long with me and does a little jig too.


What she's eating lately: Lydia is still a great eater! Her favorite are still blueberries, but now I can confidently add bananas and avocados to the list which were off limits before! During breakfast she’s currently loving oatmeal with cinnamon and maple syrup with a side of blueberries. She will usually have chocolate milk and juice throughout the day. Lunch varies between peanut butter and jelly, Annie’s mac and cheese, or whatever leftovers from last night’s dinner. She gets hungry in between meals and typically eats an applesauce or yogurt kefir squeeze packs. And when dinner rolls around, she will eat whatever we’re eating and sometimes a Biscoff cookie if most of her dinner goes into mouth and not into Zoe’s! 


Sleep: Lydia is still sleeping in crib in our bedroom and manages to sleep through the night. She's been having a hard time going to sleep earlier than 9pm but we are working on it. We are planning on moving her into the spare bedroom once it's cleaned up and painted. I have been wanting her to sleep in her own room for a while now but of course life gets busy and it will be a big adjustment for her. It's one thing to have her sleep in her crib for most of the night in our bedroom (she always winds up in our bed somehow), it's another thing to have her sleep in the crib and be in a separate bedroom all night. Sleep training is hard but I think it'll be good for all of us!

To wrap this up I will say Lydia you are a crazy little girl, and we love you so much. You create messes and have a fiery temper that tests my patience but you make both Michael and I's (maybe even Zoe's) hearts so full, and life just wouldn't be as fun without your silly antics. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

24 things about me



Guys, last week I entered my mid-twenties! I thought 24 years old still qualified as being in my early-twenties but my husband told me otherwise and after a playful argument I finally accepted the fact that my early-twenties have expired, and that's okay! The first three years old my twenties consisted of life changing experiences like having major surgery, becoming a wife, moving to western PA, and giving birth a darling little girl. Each of those events came with their share challenges and adjustments but without them I wouldn't be the woman I am today. My hearts fuller, I'm better with managing time and focusing on the more important things in my life. I'm totally looking forward to the new experiences God will provide me with this upcoming year!

I am a huge fan of writing lists and because it's been a long time since I've done much of an intro on here and my about me page is only a couple of paragraphs, I thought it would be fun to write up a list of 24 random things about me.

one// I was born in Long Island, New York; lived in Queens, New York for six years of my life, then moved to central New Jersey because of my dad’s job. After Michael and I got married we lived in an apartment in New Brunswick, New Jersey and then moved about 382 miles away a few months later. I really miss my family and living close to the shore but I’m also loving our home north of Pittsburgh. The small town we live in has lots of parades, friendly people and it is just so peaceful which is perfect for our family. Pittsburgh is about 40 minutes away from us and I feel really lucky to be nearby such a spectacular city! 

two// My all-time favorite scripture is “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” -Philippians 4:4

three// I have three tattoos. A half a heart on my ribs (my sister has the other half), “Rejoice” written in Hebrew and a fuchsia Gerbera daisy watercolor tattoo on my left shoulder. For some reason all tattoos are on the left side of my body, and I’m thinking I might keep up with that trend!

four// I love Thai, Mediterranean and Indian food.

five// Cleaning relaxes me. If you would have told me that when I was about 10 or 11, I wouldn’t have believed you! I was the kid who stalled cleaning her room and dreaded Saturday morning chores. Something clicked when I got married and had my own house. Sorry mom. I guess you're getting your revenge with my messy toddler undoing all my chores. 

six// My favorite genre for movies are dramas, off-beat comedies, psycho-thrillers, and of course the occasional romantic comedy!

seven// I'm dreadfully shy. However I’ve been pushing myself to be more social, make phone calls, and get involved with others. It can be challenging and sometimes uncomfortable but it’s always worth it. 

eight// My current Netflix binge is Grey’s Anatomy and occasionally Prison Break with Michael. It’s so funny because a lot of the cast of Prison Break have been patients or loved ones to the patients at Seattle Grace!

nine// I feel more natural and confident as a savory chef than a pastry chef, mostly because I am more skilled in that area but I am working on that.

ten// I love earth tones: taupe, grays, yellows, browns and greens. But my favorite colors are turquoise, most shades of purple and red.

eleven// I was homeschooled through 4th-11th grade. It was a great experience, going to school the one year wasn't so great for me!

twelve// I've been drinking coffee regularly since I was twelve years old... I don't know if this something to be proud of? I like my coffee strong with a little creamer or in the form of a latte!

thirteen// I was a vegetarian all throughout High School and a little while after. It wasn’t until I studied at the Natural Gourmet Institute and read Michael Pollan’s book “Food Rules” that I became more aware of the better quality and sustainable meats options out there. My boyfriend-now-husband is who really inspired my transition to go back onto the path of burgers and bacon though. I quickly learned that adding meat into my diet opened more culinary opportunities in my kitchen, improved my health and feel overall less restricted with my diet. 

fourteen// Autumn is my favorite season!

fifteen// I have Ulcerative Colitis and have been in remission for about four years now. Daily medication, exercise, probiotics, a healthy diet and quality sleep are essential for me.

sixteen// By nature, I am stubborn and don’t always handle criticism well, but fortunately God’s been working on me in that area. Michael makes sure of it :)

seventeen// I’m a Puerto Rican woman who barely speaks Spanish, but I think my skills in the kitchen make up for it.

eighteen// I am allergic to cats but that’s okay because I’m a dog person.

nineteen// My old-standby wine is a Pennsylvania made wine called Buffalo Blush, it goes with mostly everything and taste nice too.

twenty// I am a homebody and most of the time I prefer staying in on the weekends writing, baking, or working on a project in comfy clothes.

twenty-one// I love ice cream especially soft serve, and making me choose a favorite would be like choosing a favorite child!

twenty-two// Quality time and words of affirmation are my love languages.

twenty-three// I am a daydreamer sometimes this is a good thing because it can be inspirational and other times it can be annoyingly distracting.

twenty-four// If I had to choose between running a mile and two minutes of non-stop burpees, I would choose the burpees. I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate running.

And that's twenty-four things you probably didn't know about me!



Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy Autumn!

Last Autumn when Lydia was 8 months old, now she is 18 months old!!

"Life starts all over again 
when it gets crisp in the fall."
                       -F. Scott Fitzgerald 
For as long as I can remember autumn has always been my favorite season, and I'm pretty proud of being born around this time of year! I love when the weather slowly begins to cool down and the leaves start changing shades of color. The smell of the air is crisp, and cinnamon sugar becomes the signature scent of my home. Everything just feels cozier. I'll be able to start wearing my fall uniform: a chunky sweater or flannel, jeans and boots. I cannot wait til I can wear boots again!! Food seems to taste better this time of year too. Winter squashes are at their peak, and boy do they taste mighty fine roasted, sprinkled with pumpkin seeds and served over kale. I also like pumpkin pie, pumpkin oatmeal, and pumpkin smoothies heavy on the spices.

There's a lot to love about this season. It seems to always inspire people to get together more whether it's to watch football (not me, I'm just there for the food), go to harvest festivals, host seasonal parties, go apple picking, etc. There's really no solid reason not to fellowship with your people when autumn is here! I am most looking forward to starting traditions with my family. I think Lydia will love jumping in freshly raked leaves, going to our towns harvest festival and helping me bake lots of delicious treats in the kitchen.

What are you most looking forward to this autumn?