Tag Archive | brandon

Friday favorites: Apartment edition

Hey there friends! Happy Friday and happy October. WOW…October? Where did that come from? It’s hard to believe it’s fall, and hard to believe we’ve lived in our new place for over a month now. The last time I wrote, Brandon and I had just moved; however between classes, the move, and working weekends, I simply haven’t had the chance to sit down, write, and share about it.
Since I had a few minutes, it’s Friday, and I love to read blogs about new homes and home improvements, I thought it would be fun to share some favorites from our new place.

The best part about moving is the decorating, right? It certainly is in my opinion! The top 3 things I’ve learned from moving thus far:
I have a Home Goods problem.
I have a T.J. Maxx problem.
I have a Marshall’s problem. 
Luckily, I didn’t do tooooo much damage since I’ve had 4 different apartments over the last 7 years (!!!) and between Brandon and me we already had most of furniture and things to fill it, but the first step in curing an addiction is to admit it, right? Winking smile

While I love our apartment for many reasons(such as the location, the quiet, and the gym, just to name a few) I have a few favorites inside our new place, too: 
Our nautical décor and tall windows:
I am all about nautical (always have been) and love the look of the starfish in the top window pane. Also, we found this great “Maine” sign listing all of our favorite places on the coast that matches perfectly. The tall windows that let the sunshine come through each day are also a favorite. Plus, to go along with the nautical theme, this rope mirror was a must (Home Goods find…obsessed!)
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Kitchen and signage:
I’ve always loved being in the kitchen, and it remains my favorite spot in our place! The counter space, island, and signs make me smile. We haven’t completely finished it, but here’s a sneak peak:IMG_0259IMG_0274

Bathroom colors:
Lately, I’ve been loving light yellow, and when we moved in I knew I wanted the bathroom to be nice and bright. Because of this, we went with a yellow and white color contrast. Here’s a peek, plus some more signs (told you I have an addiction)!
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Living with this guy: Love love LOVE living with him again (clearly this picture shows he loves it too…hehehe):
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He is such a handy man and did all of the dirty work when it came to moving. Our place looks better and better each day thanks to him. Love you B!
With that, I’m off to class. Hope you enjoyed this sneak peak SmileHappy Friday, friends!

What’s your favorite part of your apartment/condo/house?
Does anyone else have a “signage” obsession like me?

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Catching up & a Quinoa Recipe

Hey there and happy Thursday to you all! It’s been a busy couple of weeks around here. Between getting engaged(!!!!), moving,  starting classes, attending amazing weddings and still working weekends, I feel like I’ve been in “go-go-go” mode constantly. However, Brandon and I were SO excited to move into our new place. Minus the actual “moving” part, it has been so surreal to set up our new home together as fiancés! (Can I just admit how much I love saying that?!)

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I also started my Master’s Degree program last week, which was exciting yet overwhelming all at once.  Organic Chemistry will be consuming my life for the next four months. #sendhelp
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Anyway, back to our new place. I think my favorite part of our new digs is the kitchen. The counters, the cabinets, the island, the set-up…I just LOVE LOVE LOVE it (I will share a picture once it’s all set up). Plus, having a new kitchen makes me so much more motivated to cook. Healthy dinners for the win!

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Speaking of healthy dinners, my favorite vegetarian protein source lately is quinoa. I started to eat quinoa back in Australia and I haven’t turned back since. The first time I tried it, I wasn’t too fond of it, but that’s because it tasted really bland to me. However, once I researched it a bit, I learned that if you cook it in chicken broth (or vegetable broth), it’s so much more flavorful. After that, I became hooked.  It’s a great source of protein, filling, gluten-free, and simply delicious. This week, I decided to use up some random vegetables in my fridge and make a veggie-quinoa mix. It’s so easy and makes terrific leftovers, too. To complete my dinner, I stuffed a red pepper with the mixture and baked it for 15 minutes, eating it alongside of some roasted veggies and corn (off) the cob. I plan on putting the mix on salads as leftovers for the rest of the week! Here’s my recipe:

Veggie & Black Bean Quinoa Mix
1 cup quinoa
2 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup black beans
1 small yellow squash, chopped
1/4 red pepper, chopped
handful of spinach
salt/pepper/seasonings to taste
1 red pepper (optional)

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2) Place quinoa and chicken (or vegetable) broth in a saucepan, stir, and put burner on high. Once it begins to boil, lower temperature to a simmer and cover (stirring every few minutes), until it’s thickened and fluffy. (This will take about 15 minutes). Trust me, one cup expands IMMENSLY!
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3) While the quinoa cooks, chop your vegetables. I chose onions, squash, mushrooms, red pepper and spinach, and at the last minute I added some black beans in, too. The beauty of this dish is you can honestly use any vegetables in your fridge.
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4) Stir-fry these on the stove until cooked thoroughly (using spices of your choice), and add the spinach in at the last minute. Once cooked, set aside until the quinoa is finished.
5) Once the quinoa has finished cooking, add the vegetables in. Voila, you have your quinoa mix!
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6) ***Optional: I cleaned a pepper out and stuffed/baked the mixture inside for about 15 minutes, but this isn’t necessary. You could also just stand at your stovetop and eat it too (yes, I am guilty of this Winking smile)

Have a great rest of your week and weekend, friends. Happy almost fall!

***9-11-2001 Never Forget***

Do you cook with quinoa? If so, what’s your favorite way to eat it?

Any recipes to share?
Any one else move in September?

Gahhhh moving is the worst!

Engaged! The best question of my life

Hello, hello! Happy Labor Day, I hope everyone is enjoying their long weekend. For the past week I have had some exciting news to share, but I never got the chance to hop on here and write. Since I never ever want to forget a single detail about this, I figured today was better late than never!

This past Sunday on August 24th, 2014, I was asked the best question of my life.
Down on the ocean in beautiful Kennebunkport, Maine, Brandon asked me to marry him. I don’t think there will ever be another moment that takes my breath away or surprises me quite like this one, and I know for certain I will never forget it.
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My Fiancé

Although I’ve known that Brandon was the one for me and would be my future husband, I truly didn’t expect this to happen after work last Sunday evening! I was 100% surprised and so so happy; it was done in typical Brandon fashion; heartfelt, caring, and full of love. It was truly the best night of my life.  I feel so honored that he asked me to be his wife, and couldn’t be happier that our families are being joined together forever. A new brother, the best in-laws and a wonderful extended family is just icing on the cake…so happy!
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Brandon brings so much joy, laughter, and purpose to my life and I can’t wait to spend forever with him.  I’ve currently been replaying our engagement-evening events in my head over and over again, and smiling so hard my face hurts. Since I never want to forget this moment, I wrote a little poem of my memories that night:

Our Engagement: A Night to Remember

A drive to the water
we were all dressed up,
it was a Sunday evening date
where I thought we’d just laugh and catch up.

But you had a plan, 
one that I did not know;
so sneaky yet organized
everything just seemed to flow. 

Since drives to the ocean are one of our favorite things
it wasn’t abnormal to stop and sit,
listen to the surf,
and smell the air that it brings.

Little did I know when you parked at the beach
that when you said you wanted to touch the water
you were planning to go down on one knee.

This night was going to be one to remember,
it was part of your plan,
to say a heartfelt speech
and ask for my hand.

I can’t believe I almost ruined it,
being so late from work,
crushing your sunset plans
and all of those ocean-side perks.

But sometimes the best moments go unrehearsed,
and since I had no idea I went and said something first.
“When are we going to get a dog” I asked,
it seemed that was all that you needed,
since you responded really fast.

When you said “there’s something that has to happen before we get our dog”
I still didn’t get it,
it was like my mind was in a fog.

But you followed that by getting down on one knee,
looking me straight in the eye,
asking “will you marry me?”

That beautiful ring
glistening in the dark,
your smile so bright
I could feel the love and the spark.

Due to sheer surprise,
I barely remember my reply
but it was an obvious yes
to this dream guy of mine.

Sealed with a kiss, a hug,
and about a million “I love you, oh my god’s”
we ran to the car to share the news
with our loved ones near & far.

The most memorable night for both of us
and for our families too,
I can’t wait to spend all of my life with you.

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Thank you to all of our family and friends for your heartfelt congratulations, love, and support. I’m so excited to be Mrs. French!

xoxo

p.s. Summer 2015 wedding is the plans…wedding date coming soon! Smile

Lately: smiles and celebrations

Hello, hello, long time, no talk! I didn’t intend to be absent for so long, but things got a little exciting around here last week…Brandon came home! Lately there’s been a lot of smiles and celebrating going on around these parts : –)
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Obviously I couldn’t resist making a sign, and because I’m a secret poet I had to rhyme Winking smile

I wish I could bottle-up the emotions I felt as I saw him walking towards us; it is a feeling I’ll never forget. Having him home is so surreal! Simple things like getting coffee and bagels together, going to the grocery store, watching t.v.; it’s these little things that I missed the most. I’m so happy to have him back.  Even just being in the same time zone is SUCH a treat because we can actually communicate throughout the day. This may not sound major, but it was something we couldn’t do as a result of the Australian/U.S. time difference so it’s a wonderful feeling.
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We met my best friend Julia’s newborn baby boy, Jackson, the day after B arrived home…he is so precious!

Brandon planned a Vermont getaway for us over the weekend which was unforgettable. A fun road trip with just the two of us was the perfect way to celebrate his homecoming together. We toured (and gorged on ice-cream)  at Ben & Jerry’s, visited Lake Champlain Chocolates and Cabot Cheese, had (too many) drinks, danced and sang the night away at a David Nail concert, and mostly just enjoyed being together again.  I don’t think I stopped smiling all weekend!
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Is there anything better than free ice-cream samples? I think not.
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What a small world…we even saw friends at the concert! Hi girls : –)
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This would be my hang-over cure bagel. Maple walnut cream cheese for.the.win.

To top off the weekend, I headed to Connecticut to celebrate my sister & the bride-to-be at her bridal shower hosted by her future sister and mother-in-law. To say this shower was beautiful is an understatement. It was EXQUISITE. The decorations, décor, food, festivities, and people were amazing. What a special day for my sister. Love you Deb and Lauren!
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Future sisters!
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It is truly the season of bridal showers! Last week I also attended my friend Suzanna’s shower and it was such a fun day. Can’t wait for that wedding!
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There’s one more thing that’s been celebrated around here lately:
Last week I received my acceptance letter into the Master of Science in Food and Nutrition program at Framingham State University in Massachusetts, beginning in September of this year. I am BEYOND excited. This program acceptance is what I’ve been working towards for the last year-and-a-half, and besides that, it also means that Brandon and I get to move back to Massachusetts this fall. Hip-hip-hooray!  Thank you all for the kind words and support <3
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The celebrations will be continuing this weekend, too! I’m off to Atlantic City for Kimmie’s bachelorette with 8 beautiful ladies. It’s her last fling before the ring and I can’t wait! GET ME TO FRIDAY. Have a great rest of the week, friends. xo

Ever been to Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in VT?
What’s your favorite B&J flavor?
I am a die-hard cookie dough lover, but I tried the ‘candy bar pie’ flavor this past weekend and now I’m hooked!
 
New Jersey friends, any recommendations of fun, girly, day-time activities in Atlantic City in case the weather isn’t conducive for bathing suits?

Two years gone by

Hi friends, Happy Easter Monday! I hope you had a memorable day and weekend with your families. I spent Easter with some of my favorite people.
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We were missing a few other favorites (furry friends included) but one in particular was constantly on my mind:
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Today’s the day that I (along with his family and friends) have been waiting for for over two years now: today Brandon comes home FOR GOOD! It’s hard to believe that two years have gone by, but somehow they have. And now we can officially kiss our long distance relationship goodbye…AMEN! I’m headed to the airport tonight with his family and oh.my.gosh. the butterflies in my stomach are out of control. I swear I will have a permanent smile plastered on my face for the next year.  When I knew he was boarding his plane last night, the smiles just didn’t stop. Someone pinch me, I can’t believe it’s finally here! 
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I couldn’t be prouder of my love for his accomplishments over the last two years. In that time, he made lifelong friends and a lifetime of memories. I am so happy we were able to share part of his Australian journey together.
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Anyway, I have so much to share but for now, here’s the recipe I promised last week. I made this way too many times last week…literally for 3 out of 7 days this was on my dinner plate. Whoops. I guess you could call me an incredibly boring eater, but like I said, it’s just too good to stop! And yes, I have a cauliflower problem.

Cauliflower Poppers
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Ingredients:
3/4-1 head of cauliflower
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic salt

Directions:
1) Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large mixing bowl, mix olive oil, nutritional yeast, and garlic salt together.
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2) Wash and chop cauliflower into florets; then place in mixing bowl with the other ingredients.
3) Stir all together until the cauliflower is mostly covered with the yellowish mixture.
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4) Place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes, then turn each piece over with a fork and bake for another 25-30 minutes, until browned.
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5) Try not to eat the entire batch…good luck! 
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This dish is gluten-free, dairy-free, and relatively low in calories, too. It has quickly become my staple side-dish… I am hooked!  I suggest making a double batch if you are serving four or more people, otherwise, you might run out too quickly. Just a tip!

Counting the hours until we’re off to the airport tonight, yay! Wish me luck : –)
Also, best of luck to all of the Boston Marathon runners today, I’m cheering for you. And to my dear friend Michelle, who continues to be my inspiration day-in and day-out, I’m thinking of you. Love you, girl xoxo

How was your Easter?
Do you like cooking with nutritional yeast?
I was a bit afraid at first, but now I love it!
What’s your favorite cauliflower recipe?

a happy birthday wish

A happy birthday ode to my one-and-only. Happy 28th, B! Can’t wait to celebrate with you in 3 weeks <3

Ode to Brandon
28 years, where does time go?
A silly question, one we’ll never know.

Yet every year on our birthday we tend to ask
why does time go by so fast?

For the last two years you’ve been down-under, in the tropics and sun
leaving everyone back home envious of your adventures and fun.
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But most people don’t realize the sacrifices you’ve made
leaving home for an international opportunity, things could change, relationships could fade.

You left having no fear at age twenty-six
a tall, handsome, American ready for his Australian fix.

Fresh off the plane in 2012 with no family or friends
can you believe it now, when you think about then?
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First up was wrong-side of the road driving coupled with a stick shift, too,
you were an instant pro, excelling as you always do.
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Then nailing down an apartment with quite a view
I’ll never forget living there, sharing those moments with you.
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Meeting new people, making best mates
becoming an avid cross-fitter with a constant 5:30 p.m. date.
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You’ve seen New Zealand, Dubai, all of Australia and more
true experiences that have opened so many doors.
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Leaving home at 26, soon returning, now 28
this opportunity it must have been fate.

It showed you the world, exposed you to new  people, places and things,
even when you missed home, you embraced this time and all that it could bring.
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Two years have come and gone, where did they go?
For you, they went fast, for me they went slow.

My wish is to never spend another birthday apart;
can’t wait to have you home, love you with all my heart.

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xoxo

a spring in my step…April confessions

Hey friends, happy April 1st! Since it’s the beginning of the month and all, why not start with confessions?

1) Alleluia, Amen, Praise the Lord…it’s April!
This may sound dramatic but I have been waiting for this day ALL YEAR LONG. It’s not just because I’m sick of winter though (even though I am SO OVER it). The real reason I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of April is because today’s the first day in two years that I can actually say ‘Brandon’s moving home THIS MONTH!’ {Insert happy dance here}. I am 100% positive that there is a spring in my step today.
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This was the welcome sign I made for his Sept./Oct. 2012 visit home…ahhh the memories. I get chills just typing this!

3 weeks until the best day ever at the airport.
3 weeks until a hug, kiss, and hand-hold can physically happen.
3 weeks until goodbyes won’t exist.
3 weeks until our new beginning. 
Can’t wait, can’t wait, can’t wait!!
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2) My Nana is my idol.
Nana turned 87 over the weekend and even though Boppa wasn’t well enough to join us, we made the best of it with a girls dinner on the ocean full of cocktails, live piano music, laughs, and tears. At 87, I can only hope to be as loving, vibrant, witty, youthful, full-of-life, and as fashion-forward as my Nana.  Leopard scarf and matching leopard flats at 87? She is my idol.
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3)Black ice is no joke.
Two days before my sister’s bridal shower, I fell and sprained my foot…Ooooof it was painful.  I wish I could tell you that I sprained it doing something athletic, but that’s just not the case.  I was actually volunteering when it happened, and all it took was a slip on a patch of black ice.Black ice is no joke, my friends. I was in so much pain that I proceeded to crawl to my car and cry for 30 minutes. I ended up not walking on it for most of Friday and Saturday, so by the day of the shower, it felt strong enough to walk on. I’m very lucky it wasn’t worse!   I was more-so freaking out about not being able to wear heels than my actual injury ( I know, it sounds shallow),but a new dress with no heels? That wasn’t happening. I’m pretty much all healed, with the exception of a nasty bruise. I’ll spare you a picture!

4) Once again, I have an iced coffee addiction.
Thanks a lot Dunkin’ Donuts for introducing the ‘Cookie Dough’ iced coffee flavor. So much for not spending money on coffee…now there’s absolutely zero hope for me in that department! My goal is to try and stick to my two coffee per-week limit. However, since it’s only been out for two days and I’ve already had two, I am fairly certain I am already failing miserably.
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5) I have a pancake problem.
It seems like ever since I adapted to a gluten-free (for the most part) lifestyle, my love of breakfast foods has grown and grown. I could seriously eat smoothies, pancakes and waffles all day every day. Last week I had a pancake craving around lunchtime so I tried a similar version of this sweet potato pancake recipe from Tina at Carrots ‘N’ Cake.  Now I’m hooked!

Cinna-Pumpkin Spice Sweet Potato Pancakes
Adapted from Carrots ‘N’ Cake
Ingredients:
1/2 cup sweet potato (cooked and mashed)
1/3 cup almond flour
1/2 cup egg beaters (or 2 eggs)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 Tbsp. maple syrup

Directions:
1) Clean, peel, and chop a small/medium sized sweet potato into chunks, then put it in a microwave safe dish with a small amount of water, cover with saran-wrap and cook for 4-5  minutes, or until soft. Let it cool off, mash with a fork or potato masher until smooth, and measure out a 1/2 cup.

2) Preheat skillet on stovetop and coat with cooking spray. Then combine the 1/2 cup of sweet potato with the remaining  7 ingredients in a mixing bowl (or food processor) and mix well. (I used my hand-mixer).
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3) Once your skillet is heated, add the desired batter amount you’d like and cook evenly on both sides.
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4) Add your desired toppings and serve immediately.  I topped mine with almond butter, raisins, and slivered almonds, but the combinations are endless (granola, pecans, cashews, anything!)
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#pancakeproblems

What are you looking forward to the most about April?

Has anyone else tried the new Dunkin’ flavors? If so, what’s your favorite?