Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Maui Babymoon: Where We Stayed

Three weeks ago, Mike and I flew to Maui for our last trip "just the two of us."  Shortly after we found out we were expecting, we realized we hadn't gone on a real vacation in almost two years (when we went to Oahu).  We've had dreams of going to London, Cuba, and Central America, but since our time was limited (traveling in the winter before I can't fly anymore) and with the Zika risk, we decided on Hawaii as the perfect spot.  The weather was amazing (even though they were having a "cold snap" - hahaha), and we could choose to either relax or be active as much as we wanted. 

After we decided on a location, we started researching on what parts of the island to stay.  For the most part, we found six resort areas: Kapalua, Ka'anapali, Lahaina (all on the leeward - western - side of the island), Kihei, Wailea (on the southern beaches), and Paia (northern, at the start of the Road to Hana).  Needless to say, we were a little overwhelmed.  Luckily, some of our best friends had just planned their honeymoon with an amazing travel agent (I had no idea they still existed!!) and gave us her information.  With only a few weeks to plan, she gave us a ton of ideas, and we decided to split our time between the Kapalua and Wailea areas.  The island of Maui isn't too big (Kapalua and Wailea are just over an hour from one another), but with only one road to really get to any given place, it was nice to not have to drive too far to explore each part of the island while we stayed there.  Like when we were on Oahu, we wanted to drive every road on the island and really feel like we did everything (which we did!).

Ritz-Carlton Kapalua: We stayed our first five nights at the Ritz up in Kapalua.  One of our main goals of being on Maui was to play the Plantation Course (which we snuck in right before they closed for a 9-month renovation), and this allowed us to be right there and also play Kapalua's Bay Course.  I absolutely love how all of the hotels on the Hawaiian islands are so open and airy, especially the main lobbies and restaurants.  This one also had an awesome koi pond out front!
When we arrived in our room, we had the sweetest chocolate-covered surprise.  Way to my heart right there!  The Ritz also has a bunch of great restaurant options from a breakfast buffet with pool and ocean views to the cutest little coffee shop (with amazing brown butter donuts), to a beach bar with over-the-top shakes and delicious burgers.  There is definitely something for everyone.
If you're looking to leave the resort to eat, there are a few great options less than five minutes from the resort, in the Kapalua area.  We received some fantastic recommendations from our bartender at The Pour House on one of our first evenings.  Our favorite was definitely the Whale Watcher's happy hour at The Sea House.  What we found interesting is that happy hours on Maui start as early as 2pm, so we enjoyed their happy hour more as a late lunch and ordered almost one of everything (see photo below).  Other recommendations were received were: The Gazebo for breakfast, Kitchen 5315 for dinner, and Cane & Canoe for any meal of the day.
Now for Kapalua golf: it is absolutely unmatched.  Not only is the Plantation Course consistently the #1 golf course on all of Hawaii, there is also a PGA TOUR event played there each January, and it's ranked in the top 50 public golf courses in the country every year.  It was built on an old pineapple field and actually uses the same irrigation system that the farm once did.  You also have ocean views from every one of the 18 holes.
Plantation's sister course, Bay, does not have the same prestige as Plantation but was equally as beautiful.  We played it in 40 mph winds, during a crazy winter storm, but we had the best time.  Many of the views are equally as spectacular as Plantation, and I really liked the trickiness of the fairways and sloping greens.  At both golf courses, we received a discount for being resort guests - so that was definitely a bonus, too!
Fairmont Kea Lana: After our five nights in Kapalua, we headed south to the Wailea resort area.  All of the resorts are beautiful in Wailea, and honestly, we chose Fairmont because it was the least expensive option - haha!  Seriously, having a travel agent is amazing.  We arrived to an upgraded suite and the absolute sweetest babymoon package, complete with tons of snacks and an adorable gift for Baby Boy.  The patio outside was huge with a full ocean view, facing south, towards Makena Point. 
Another bonus of booking through a travel agent were the deals.  She got us free breakfast each morning at the Fairmont, and it was delicious.  If you ever go, make sure you get some of their signature pineapple coconut bread (more like pound cake!).

Between the two hotels, we liked the pools and outside dining better at the Fairmont.  Both were fantastic, but the pool complex at the Fairmont was bigger, had a water slide, and even a swim-up pool bar. 
We would absolutely stay at both places again and recommend them to all of you.  If you have any questions about where to stay in Maui, please let me know!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Our New England Baby Shower

Last weekend, my mom threw me the sweetest baby shower.  We flew to Connecticut after our babymoon in Maui.  We were headed up to New England for a friend's wedding, and since this would be our last trip up to the Northeast before the baby is born, it all worked out perfectly for a little party.  What I love about our family is that both sides are so close, so my family, Mike's family, our friends from childhood and college, as well as family friends we've each grown up with throughout our whole lives were there.
My mom even started with the sweetest, modern invitations from Zazzle.  You can view the full suite of coordinating watercolor paper products here.  The shower was held at Latitude 41° Restaurant and Tavern on the campus of Mystic Seaport.  It's right on the Mystic River in a historical inn.  The room we used had beautiful, vaulted ceilings and so much natural light.   It really didn't even need any fancy decorations to stand out!  My sister-in-law joked that if she was getting married again, it would be here. 
My mom did put her own special spin on everything.  She made the centerpieces herself and coordinated the napkins and bows perfectly for Baby Boy.  On each table was also the most delicious favor, a sugar cookie from A Spoonful of Sugar.
As guests arrived, they were invited to sign (well, stamp) the guest book.  How absolutely adorable is this sea turtle print from Ruby Rose Prints?!  Guessed stamped their finger onto the print and signed it with their name.  I cannot wait to hang the finalized piece in the nursery!
We had the most delicious buffet lunch, but obviously my favorite was the cake.  It was huge!  My mom always gets my favorite from Vesta Bakery: marble cake with chocolate mousse filling and whipped cream frosting.
Guests were super sweet and generous and mailed most of our gifts to South Carolina so that we wouldn't have to ship them home, but one of my favorite parts was that my mom asked for guests to bring a new or used book for Baby Boy, instead of a card, and write an inscription to him so that Mike and I can see it every time we read the book to him.  I'm so excited to have a great start to our own little library!

Thank you to my amazing mom for hosting and to all of our family and friends for being there to celebrate!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Healthy Breakfast Cookies (Made with Pantry Staples!)

Before I got pregnant, I was one of those people who would grab a bottle of water on the way out the door and not eat anything else until lunchtime.  Needless to say, that quickly came to an end.  While I was very lucky not to experience any nausea during my first trimester, if I didn't eat for more than a a couple of hours during any waking hours, I would start to get very annoying headaches.
These cookies have so much goodness in them, and you can definitely add your own favorite ingredients, too.  I've tried raisins, craisins, coconut, and walnuts.  Also, if you're looking for a gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free cookie - this is it (however, make sure you check with the brands you select for any potential cross-contamination)!

- 2 large bananas, mashed
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons milled flaxseed
- 2 cups quick oats
- 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl.  I like to add in one ingredient at a time and mix until that's incorporated before moving onto the next one.
3. Scoop 1/4 cup-fuls of batter onto the parchment paper.  The cookies will not spread or rise when they bake, so I try to round and flatten the batter so that they cook more evenly.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, until the cookies appear dry.
5. Allow them to cool fully on a wire rack and store them in individual bags.  I bring 2 to work each day, and this batch makes enough for a full work week (5 days)!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Predicting Baby's Gender: 10 Old Wives Tales

I found out I was pregnant at about 4 weeks, and we had it confirmed when I was 9 weeks alond.  We decided to find out early what we are having because I am definitely not a patient person.  The way they can collect my blood and do a range of genetic testing on baby (including finding out the gender) at only 13 weeks is seriously so cool.  Well, before we found out the results, I scoured the internet for all of those silly old wives tales that can supposedly predict the gender - I figured, why not, right?!  Here's what they predicted during my first trimester:

  • Chinese gender predictor chart: Boy
  • Mayan gender predictor: Boy
  • Heart rate: Over 140 bpm (Girl)
  • Experiencing breakouts?: Yes (Girl)
  • Having morning sickness?: No (Boy)
  • Craving salty or sweet?: Salty (Boy)
  • Cranky or in a good mood?: Good mood (Boy)
  • Where is your weight gain?: All in belly (Boy)
  • Feet hot or cold?: Cold (Boy)
  • Having headaches?: Yes (Boy)

So, it was 8 for boy and 2 for girl.  A few of these (hello, craving everything sweet and thank goodness the breakouts seem to be behind me) have changed since then, but they all said to measure between 10 and 12 weeks.  For some reason Mike and I both had this instinct that we were having a girl, but it turned out that these old wives tales were better at predicting than any parental instincts that hadn't kicked in yet - haha!

It's true, Baby BOY Taylor will be here in May!  We have finally chosen which room will be the nursery, and coincidentally, it's already painted blue.  We can't wait to start getting the nursery together soon!

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