Brunching our way through 2018

Ryan and I share a love of breakfast food. Any time we have the chance to go out for brunch we really enjoy it, so we decided that for 2018 we were going to make that a priority and try a new brunch place each month.

We decided to keep track of all the places that we try and rate each place based on factors that are important to us: coffee, taste of the food, service, portion size, and price. I’ve listed the places we tried in order from least favorite to our favorite place of the year!


  • Jack & Nellie’s (Forest Hills, Queens) — Unfortunately, we were not very impressed with this place. It got great reviews on Yelp, but we felt like it was too pricey for the amount and quality of food you received.
  • The Supply House (Upper East Side) — We enjoyed meeting up with some friends for brunch on this day and were pleased when we weren’t rushed out after finishing our food. We do wish the portions were a little larger, but overall we enjoyed our brunch!
  • The Omelette Shoppe (Grand Rapids, MI) — We received good food for a really good price. We would definitely visit this place again to try something else.
  • Agora Taverna (Forest Hills, Queens) — We loved that the servers gave us some muffins to snack on while we waited for our food, although we were pleasantly surprised to receive our food so quickly after ordering!
  • Highland Bakery (Atlanta, GA) — The friend who told us about this place raved about the peanut butter stuffed French toast, so we had to give it a try! It was a peanut butter lover’s dream, and we would love to come back next time we are in Atlanta to try something else.
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  • The Harold (Midtown Manhattan) — This was the best coffee we had all year! The food was delicious too, but unfortunately the service we received wasn’t very good and that really affected our experience (almost to the point of not wanting to go back).
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  • Banter Irish Bar & Kitchen (Forest Hills, Queens) — This restaurant offers a fixed price for brunch which includes coffee, tea, or a cold drink. It is a little pricier than some other options, but well worth it in our opinion.
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  • Ward 8 (Boston, MA) — Great atmosphere with delicious food and coffee make this a great brunch option! We loved the creative options offered here, like the croissant egg sandwich pictured below.
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  • The Apron Cafe (West Hampton Beach, NY) — We enjoyed a relaxing brunch outside watching planes take off and land at a small airport close by. The food was delicious and was a good price for the portion received. Even better, they offered to-go iced AND hot coffee!
  • Sanford’s (Astoria, Queens) — Best omelette we had all year, delicious hot AND iced coffee, and unique pancakes. Success!
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  • Trestle (Astoria, Queens) — This was one of our favorite places this year! We especially enjoyed the coffee and thought it was a nice touch that they still honored our request for to-go coffee even though they had to place it in kiddie cups. 🙂
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  • Thomas Ham & Eggery (Long Island, NY) — This restaurant boasts of the best breakfast in Long Island for 72 years, and we believe it! This was the best service we received, hands down! If you decide to give this place a try, be prepared to wait for a table, but don’t let that keep you away! This place is well worth the wait!

 

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Thankful that this guy loves coffee and brunch as much as I do!

What a fun year of exploring brunch places together.

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Menu Monday

Struggling to come up with dinner ideas as these winter days continue to drag on? Take a look at my menu for the week to help ease your planning process a bit!

MONDAYAvocado Black Bean Quesadillas served with roasted cauliflower — I am going to add some diced chicken to our quesadillas this week.

TUESDAYSlow Cooker Hawaiian Shredded Chicken — We like to eat this as a rice bowls instead of lettuce wraps.

WEDNESDAYItalian Orzo Spinach Soup — This is one of my favorite soup recipes! It will be perfect for the cold temperatures coming our way this week!

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Photo by Navada Ra on Pexels.com

THURSDAY – Spaghetti served with roasted asparagus — This is one of my favorite meals. I could seriously eat spaghetti every week and not get sick of it.

FRIDAYSloppy Joes served with sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli — If you have been following along for a while, you know I like my manwich sauce. However, this homemade recipe for sloppy joes is a pretty close second!

Happy Cooking 🙂

Menu Monday

Need some help coming up with dinner ideas for your week? Take some inspiration from my menu for the week.

MONDAYPulled Pork served with asparagus — We like to eat the pulled pork on slider buns from Trader Joes.

TUESDAYPotato Soup — This is one of my favorite soup recipes! I like to use diced ham in place of the bacon (I just don’t like dealing with the mess of cooking bacon).

WEDNESDAYOven Chicken Fajitas served with broccoli — I like to make my own fajita seasoning using this recipe. I sprinkle 1-2 tbsp over the chicken, peppers, and onion in place of an individual store-bought seasoning packet.

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Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

THURSDAYOne Pot Spinach and Tomato Pasta

FRIDAY – Slow Cooker Meatball Subs served with green beans and sweet potatoes — This recipe is so simple: pour about 1/3 of a jar of your favorite marinara sauce into the bottom of the slow cooker, place desired amount of frozen meatballs (I personally like to use Trader Joe’s frozen turkey meatballs) on top of sauce, and pour the rest of the jar of marinara sauce on top of meatballs. Cook on low for 6-8 hours and ENJOY!

Happy Cooking 🙂

2018 Recap

1 international trip

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5 round trip flights

5 bus trips

6 states visited

5 years of marriage

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7 visits from family and friends

2 weddings attended

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1 baby niece

13 brunch places tried

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2 Broadway plays

21 books read

2 trips on the subway with a whole car to myself

This year was full — Full of laughter, time with friends & family, coffee, subway rides (and delays), Trader Joe’s trips, memories, church activities, lessons, seasons of growth, and so much more.

Looking forward to what adventures 2019 will bring!

 

Decorating for Christmas in Small Spaces

Typically, my decorating style is pretty simple, but I do really enjoy making our home feel festive for the holiday season. When I found out that we were moving to NYC, one of my biggest fears was that we wouldn’t have enough room to store Christmas decorations in our one-bedroom apartment. Needless to say, I spent many hours figuring out the best way to utilize our space in order to spare enough room for our Christmas decorations.

I am excited to share my simple decorating tips with you. I have found that you can make even the smallest space feel festive with just a few simple decorations!

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Christmas Wreath — I love decorating with wreaths! Simply having a festive wreath to welcome me as I come home makes so much of a difference. Wreaths are also a good option of you have big windows or extra wall space. They liven up a space without taking up too much room. I store my wreath in a special container that fits perfectly underneath our bed!

Slim Christmas Tree — Finding a place to store a Christmas tree was the ultimate test. At one point, Ryan told me that we may not be able to have a Christmas tree in our apartment and that gave me all the motivation I needed to purge and come up with creative storage solutions to make it fit! Having a smaller tree is perfect because it doesn’t take up too much space in our already tight living quarters while also not being a bear to store during the rest of the year. Multiple craft and home goods stores sell these pencil trees, and they are usually cheaper than other trees too!

Garland — Adding garland in strategic spots around our apartment makes quite the impact! I like to store the Christmas cards we receive throughout the season on a strand a garland lining the doorway in our kitchen. I got the inspiration for this idea from this post on Pinterest! Garland easily fits into the top of a box of Christmas decorations and comes back to life year after year.

Candles — Burning a holiday scented candle is a simple way to completely change the feel of your small space.

Just because you live in a small space doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on decorating your home for the holidays. These few simple items make our apartment feel cozy while not feeling cluttered — the perfect combination in my book!

Menu Monday

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season. If your schedule is a little full this last week before Christmas, let me offer some help! Take some dinner inspiration from my meal plan for the week.

MONDAYItalian Orzo Spinach Soup — This is one of my favorite soup recipes. I think I am going to try adding in some chickpeas this time and see how it goes!

TUESDAYSlow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls — If you have family coming into town for the holiday, this is a great meal to prepare to feed a lot of people!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

WEDNESDAYMeatball Subs served with mashed sweet potatoes and green beans

THURSDAYChili Stuffed Sweet Potatoes — Chili is a favorite in our house this time of year, and combining chili with sweet potatoes makes it even better.

FRIDAYSlow Cooker Everything Beef served with rice and sautéed vegetables — This recipe is really versatile and super easy to make!

Happy Cooking 🙂

Menu Monday

Happy Monday, everyone! Sorry I have been MIA on here lately. Ryan and I took a trip to Rome over Thanksgiving and are just getting back into the swing of things. Be on the lookout for posts about our trip in the weeks to come! 😉

This time of year is so much fun, but it can also make your schedule seem even fuller than normal. Believe me, I am right there with you! Creating a meal plan for my week decreases my stress level tremendously, so I hope that my meal plan can help relieve YOU of some stress as well. 🙂

MONDAYBroccoli Cheddar Chicken Pasta — This is one of our favorite dinners! I especially love eating leftovers for lunch the next day. Feel free to add extra veggies in addition to the broccoli; that is what we have been doing lately!

TUESDAYCrockpot Sesame Chicken served with rice and sautéed vegetables (zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, and edamame)

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Photo by Angele J on Pexels.com

WEDNESDAY – Sloppy Joe’s served with steamed broccoli and sweet potatoes — I love Manwich sauce myself and will probably never be able to give it up completely, but I have found this recipe for homemade sloppy joe’s that is a pretty close second 😉

THURSDAYSlow Cooker Chicken Fajita Soup — I like to make my own cream of chicken soup following this recipe.

FRIDAYSpaghetti Squash Pad Thai — I always add some frozen edamame to this recipe! This recipe is really easy to adapt to your specific taste.

Happy Cooking 🙂

Menu Monday

This week I am teaming up with my sweet friend Emily of Everyday Emily to bring you not one but TWO menus for this week! Emily and I met in college and quickly became friends. She is a southern fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogger based in Greenville, SC, and her enthusiasm to share her love of fashion and beauty is contagious! I love reading her blog because she inspires me to try new things! I know you will love her blog as much as I do, so be sure to check out her Menu Monday post to get even more meal inspiration for your week.

MONDAY – Trader Joe’s Cilantro Chicken Wantons served with cauliflower rice and sautéed veggies — Some of my favorite veggies to make with this meal are edamame, zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, and spinach.

TUESDAYPotato Soup served with a salad and bread — This recipe is so good and comes together quickly! I like to use diced ham in place of the bacon.

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Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com

WEDNESDAYMeatball Subs served with steamed broccoli and sweet potatoes — If you are short on time in the evenings, make these in the crockpot! Pour 1/3 of the jar of marinara sauce in the bottom of your crockpot, place desired amount of frozen meatballs on top of the sauce, and pour the rest of the jar of marinara sauce on top. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

THURSDAYRoasted Chicken and Vegetables served over rice (or pasta) — Time Saving Tip: Taking the time to chop up the vegetables and chicken the night before will help this meal come together even faster! All you have to do is preheat the oven, place chicken, vegetables, and seasoning on your baking sheet, and cook!

FRIDAYSlow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls

Happy Cooking 🙂

 

Top 10 FREE NYC Sites

Don’t you dare fall into the trap of thinking that the only good things to see in NYC cost you an arm and a leg! One of my favorite things to do is explore new free sites around the city, and today I have decided to share my favorites with you. 🙂

  • 9/11 Memorial — Located in Lower Manhattan, this site is a must see. No matter how many times I visit the memorial, I am struck by how beautiful and sobering it is.
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  • Staten Island Ferry to see Lady Liberty — Ask any New Yorker, and they will tell you that the best way to see the Statue of Liberty is by taking the Staten Island Ferry. All you have to do is grab a good seat and get your camera ready! Besides, who doesn’t love a relaxing boat ride on a nice day?!
  • Brooklyn Bridge — Walking the Brooklyn Bridge was high on my list of things to do after moving to NYC. I take any chance I get to walk across the bridge when family and friends come to visit.
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  • Central Park — I have written about my love for Central Park in the past (check out this post 😉 ), but I seriously can’t get enough. From the Belvedere Castle to the Bethesda Fountain to the miles and miles of green space, Central Park never disappoints.
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  • Chelsea Highline — This old railroad track turned walking trail allows you to walk through a section of Manhattan without having to worry about looking for cars. The Highline’s beautiful landscaping coupled with unique views of the city makes for a one of a kind experience.
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  • Grand Central Station — This is one of my absolute favorite places to visit in the city. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve gone to Grand Central Station, but somehow it never gets old. The architecture is incredible; I seem to find something new each time I visit. This is also one great spot for people watching, if that is your thing!
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  • Roosevelt Island — If you have been following along for any length of time, I’m sure you have heard me talk about Roosevelt Island multiple times. In addition to having a tranquil park at the southern tip of the Island, Roosevelt Island offers one of the most unique modes of transportation to get on the Island: The Roosevelt Island Tram. If you have never taken the tram, be sure to add that to your list the next time you are in NYC. It is a free subway transfer (or the cost of 1 subway ride if you didn’t take the subway to get to the Island).
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  • Bryant Park — This is my favorite spot in Midtown, Manhattan. Bryant Park is so calming and peaceful even though it is only a quick walk from the insanity of Times Square. My favorite time of year to visit Bryant Park is during Christmastime when they transform it into a winter village.
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  • New York Public Library — This iconic site is conveniently located right next to Bryant Park. If you are a book lover, you have to add this to your list of places to visit in NYC. My favorite place to take friends and family is the main reading room, so be sure to check that out when you visit!
  • Times Square (if you must) — I’ll be honest with you, Times Square is not my favorite place, but it is worth checking out one night after the sun has gone down. The whole place is so bright it actually feels like it is daytime!
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There you have it; my top 10 free NYC sites. Have you made it to all of these yet? Which one is your favorite? Do you have a favorite that isn’t included? If so, leave me a comment so I can add it to my list of places to see! 🙂

Menu Monday

Feeling uninspired to come up with dinner ideas for your week? Believe me, I have been there! I hope my menu can give you some inspiration and eliminate some stress from your week.

MONDAYBanh Mi Flatbread served with asparagus — **New recipe for us this week! I am planning on changing this recipe up a bit. I am going to use this recipe for inspiration as well (I am planning on using chicken instead of meatballs and adding radishes). I am also planning on swapping out the mayonnaise for Greek yogurt or avocado. Can’t wait to report back and let you know how this tastes!

TUESDAYSloppy Joes served with green beans and Trader Joe’s frozen mashed sweet potatoes — The last time I made this recipe, I followed the instructions for cooking it in the crockpot, and it turned out great!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

WEDNESDAYBroccoli Cheddar Chicken — The last few times I have made this recipe, I have been adding in zucchini and yellow squash in addition to the broccoli. The extra veggies help fill you up faster!

THURSDAYEnchilada Skillet

FRIDAYCornflake Chicken Tenders served with steamed broccoli and sweet potatoes

Happy Cooking 🙂