So before I cheers to a new year, I've got some favorites to share.


Food




Naan pizza - I ate this stuff all the time from about 6 to 10 weeks postpartum. It was quick and easy, and when paired with a side salad, it felt heathy enough for a full meal.

Cape Cod Chicken Salad - another postpartum favorite (spoiler alert: there will be a theme here). I was literally eating this everyday throughout the summer. I absolutely couldn't get enough! It's from Costco, and there were times I made a Costco run with baby in tow just to get stock up on some more. I was buying two at a time. I was having it for lunch, dinner, snack, second dinner... did I mention I absolutely couldn't get enough? I think the reason I started craving it was because it was my first real meal postpartum in the hospital. I was looking at the menu of sad hospital food, and the chicken salad sandwich was the only thing that sounded halfway decent. I was pleasantly surprised, and I left the hospital wanting more. Then, my team at church did a mealtrain for us once I was home, and one of the lovely ladies brought a big batch of chicken salad from Chicken Salad Chick, and she paired it with...

Publix French Hamburger Buns - I had never tried these before, but once I did, I was hooked. When I re-upped on the aforementioned chicken salad, I also had to get more of these. So that meant I was going to Costco for chicken salad, and then straight to Publix for the buns. I was a fiend!

Plain Pringles - I'd also get these in bulk from Costco, and they were a great finishing touch to my favorite meal. J would make an actual dinner, with fresh-cooked food, and I'd be like "I think I just want some chicken salad," and I'd pull out the tub of chicken salad and one of the snack size pringles. It was wild for me because all throughout my pregnancy, all I had were aversions. Nothing tasted quite as good as it once did. I was cheated, bamboozled, HOODWINKED! It was nice to finally have real cravings again, so was ready to oblige.

Stella Rosa Rose - once I dropped my load in May, the first thing I was really looking forward to was a glass of wine. Unfortunately, I had so much postpartum swelling from all the fluids they pushed during labor (mentioned in this post). I didn't want to add alcohol to the mix and make things worse, so it took a good month or so until I finally felt well enough for a glass. We had gotten a bottle of Stella Rosa Rose during a Christmas gift exchange last year, and I remember having to watch J drink the whole thing on my behalf. It was a sad moment. So as soon as it was wine time, I went on the hunt for that same bottle, and it was just as good as it looked when J was drinking it. So I bought more, and sometimes I'd buy 2-3 bottles at a time. I used to be very picky about rosé. Lower ABV, more recently bottled vs. aged, etc. All I cared this year is that my rose was made by Stella Rosa. Period.

Sourdough Bread - The tangy texture of sourdough just makes every sandwich, piece of toast and cruton so. much. better. It's become a grocery list staple this year, and I buy a loaf pretty much every week.

Califia Farms Cold Brew - This one slid in last minute. I was making my own cold brew for a few months over the summer using a french press, but I got tired of the cleanup and decided to just throw some money at the problem. I've tried a handful of other brands (Chameleon, Stok, Starbucks), but none have as good a flavor as the Califia Farms.

Kale Salads - I had to have something healthy to round out this list, and kale salad is it. Anywhere we went, if there was a kale salad on the menu, I was trying it.


Home




French Press - I never thought I'd be a french press user. I'd see people use them on Youtube when illustrating their morning routines, but it just seemed like it took too much effort. I was a fool! Thank God Meredith bought me one, because I have seen the light. I don't quite understand why, but the coffee tastes so much smoother from the french press. It's my favorite way to make coffee on the days I'm working from home. It makes my mornings feel more luxurious and intentional.

Metal Straws - I am officially a metal straw convert.

My Swing Chair - I wrote about it in this post.


Baby



Dock a Tot - Surprisingly, I don't have very many baby favorites, but this thing was an absolute must have. It's plush, portable and easy to clean, and Gabriel loved napping in it up until about 6 weeks. Then he got the itch to explore and couldn't stand lying down - pun intended.

Glass Bottles - Another easy-to-clean favorite, my mom bought a handful of glass bottles fo us to use, and even though I had a whole bunch of others, we mainly stuck with those. Gabriel likes his milk warm, not room temperature, not lukewarm, warm. The glass holds the heat well, so we didn't have to keep re-warming the bottle if he took breaks mid-feed.

Target Diapers - Before having a baby, I didn't think I'd be picky about diapers, but they are not all created equal. Pampers are the most expensive, and they keep baby's bum too dry in my opinion; they were drying out his skin. Huggies leaked like crazy, and it took me two boxes to finally realize Gabriel didn't have a super soaker bladder; it was just the diapers. The Costco brand were basically Huggies without the label, so those were also a fail. I finally tried Target's Up & Up diapers about 3 months in and loved them. They don't leak. They don't keep him too dry, they absorb the perfect amount of moisture, and they're honestly the best price around town. I'm buying a box of these for every new mom from here on out, so they can at least try them for themselves.
Vaping is a nasty habit, kids. Don't try it. It'll leave ghost trails all over the house.

Your future SO will also probably hate it as much as I do. 😐

Let me preface this post by saying I'm no baker - not even a little, not even at all.

However, I was craving cookies at 10pm on a Wednesday night, and I had just read Alexis' 'what I ate Wednesday' post, and there was a link to a cookie recipe there, and I did feel empowered to give these babies a try.


Word on the street is Ford Fry will soon rebrand The El Felix to a Superica (source), which makes sense to me since the menus are identical. My work wives and I got together for a secret santa gift swap this week, and I figured I may as well document this spot on the blog before it's gone for good.

Out-of-focus Christmas tree for the win on a Monday. I've been taking care of a sick baby and a sick husband (so basically two sick babies) this past weekend, so this is my view this afternoon.


I just went back to check and make sure Chicken Salad Chick was on my 2018 favorites list, and it is, rightfully so. This was my favorite spot last summer/fall. I'd walk to the Vinings location during my lunch break at work since it was somewhat within walking distance. The trek there and back was always a good workout - so many hills in the area that my calves would be on fire!

Had a lunch date here with my boys and rekindled that old flame. 🔥



I've recently come to realize that Trader Joes becomes my go-to grocer during the holidays. They have such good seasonal snacks (gingerbread and peppermint flavored everything), and that's when I'm craving all kinds of quick and easy comfort food, which is what they do best. My meals are currently all over the place, and it's usually a mix of whatever's within reach paired with something green to make it "healthy."

Current TJs favorites include:


 

A few days ago, I was leaving target, wearing leggings as pants with Starbucks in hand - peak suburban mom style. Who even am I?

I'll save the existential crisis for another post. Today is all about the various ways the lovely men and women spell my name when I place an order for "Chantel" at Starbucks. Sometimes they get it right, but when they don't, I do this weird thing where I attach a caricature to however they decide to spell it.

These are my personalities.


Sharing some snaps from a brewery hop date day.
And by "we," I mean "me."

Obviously.

I took the photo above this past weekend on a quick day trip to Blue Ridge. It's a small town in the mountains with lots of cute shops, restaurants, and sights. The plan was to go apple picking, a cute little family trip that Gabriel won't remember but will still fill our hearts. Unfortunately, everyone else had the same plan because there was an hour+ wait to pay for the tickets. So, instead, we walked around the area, had a couple wine slushies (us, not the baby) and then rode over to downtown Blue Ridge.

Well, that was packed too. The parking was full. The wait times at the restaurants were long. We were chasing the post-daylight-savings sun. So, after stopping in a couple shops and admiring the town, we decided to just head back home and stop at the nearest Chick-Fil-A for a late lunch.

One the way back, I pulled over to the side of the road to document the beautiful scenery.


Later, while I was going through my phone to vet the pictures, I found this snap (below), from the exact same day (November 9) four years ago.



A couple years back, there was a petition circulating on the social media circuit about changing Halloween to the last Saturday of Halloween, instead of having it on the 31st. That way parents didn't have to worry about rushing home from work to get their kids ready if the holiday was in the middle of the week. I remember thinking to myself just like Americans to want to change a whole holiday to fit their consumeristic agenda.  In the words of Allison from Hocus Pocus, "It just so happens that Halloween is based on the ancient feast called All Hallows Eve." It marks the day before Day of the Dead, and to change Halloween would mean changing a period of observance honored by people all over the world.
No matter how many times I wipe the drool, it instantly reappears.



Tierra randomly sent me this blog URL the other morning, and without hesitation, I clicked on the first "routine" post I saw.

Fun fact: I am a sucker for routines.

Morning routines, night routines, work routines, cleaning routines. I love them all. I love my routines. I love your routines. I love the routines of perfect strangers. I am a routine voyeur. What better way is there to peek into the world of another person? Routines are so telling and intimate if you look closely enough. The things we do every day without really thinking about it are pretty much built into our brain wiring, right? I love brain wiring insight.

👀

I have written about my routines over the years (work/morning), and even though they have changed as of late, I still hold on to some semblance of a system to get me through each day.

Here are some things I do daily, no matter what.



I'm not much of a science geek. When given a choice, I'd choose an art-themed activity over a science-themed one any day of the week. However, Atlanta is not like Washington D.C. in that we don't have very many free museums around town.

Thankfully, the first full weekend of each month, Bank of America cardholders have free access to select museums around the country. In Atlanta, our options are Atlanta History CenterCenter for Civil and Human Rights, and the High Museum of Art. I've been to all of these, but I was still determined to find a fun and free family activity on this hot summer September weekend. So, we headed just north of Atlanta to Cartersville, home of the Tellus Science Museum.

I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised! First of all, the grounds are stunning; every inch is perfectly manicured.

Ruby Falls is a 145-foot high underground waterfall located within Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. I had been to Ruby Falls once with my mom a few years back, and it was a cool experience, but not something I was itching to do again. 

This time around was different from what I remember. The tour was longer, there were many more callouts to the various formations inside the caves and more lights and signs, which took away from the organic beauty of it all. It's just like humans to mess with nature for the sake of commercialism. The formations, however, are still quite a sight to see. 




We decided to get out of town pretty last minute. One minute we were talking about maybe going somewhere and within the hour we were booking the hotel. After a bit of searching, we found BODE. It's not quite a hotel, but it's not quite an Airbnb either. I'd describe it as a cross between the two, but more than anything, it's super millenial.

Here's why:


When I was in college, I was seeing a guy who mentioned taking me on a trip to Chattanooga for the weekend.

Chattanooga? That little po-dunk town 2 hours north of Atlanta? I had been before and was not impressed, and I told him as much. It was a cool town, but there really wasn't much to do.

Believe it or not, he didn't drop my ungrateful behind right then and there – probably because he had a whole host of faults that I don't have the time or energy to mention at the moment. Now, about a decade later, I had the itch to getaway, but we have a baby in tow, and the budget won't allow for an extravagant vacation at the moment, so where did I turn? Chattanooga.

Granted, it's probably changed so much since 10 years ago, but it's such a cute little town! The downtown area is small in comparison to Atlanta, but it's super easy to navigate, not nearly as congested with traffic, and filled with lush greenery and cute little local shops. And! There was a Peet's Coffee coffeeshop across from our hotel! It honestly made me never want Starbucks again. We need one in Atlanta. But I digress.
WARNING: TMI ahead.



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