Friday, November 17, 2017

TGIF!

Hello, Friday! This week flew by for me. Here's a TGIF-style recap of my week!

The high of my week was getting our listing photos back. I'm really happy with how they turned out. It feels so good to have the photos taken care of so we don't have to deal with having them taken once we have a baby!

The low of my week was my painful flare and steroid injection. I'm so over these weekly flares. They just wipe me out and make it so hard to do basic tasks like cooking and cleaning.

The book I am reading is It's Okay to Laugh by Nora McInerny Purmort. This is a re-read for me. I don't often re-read books, but it's our December book club book so I wanted the book to be fresh in my mind so I could contribute to the discussion.

Recipes I made were this instant pot chicken enchilada soup. Our verdict was that it was 'just ok.' It just didn't have as much flavor as we like. Last night I made baked chicken parmesan (but skipped the melted cheese on top as we didn't have mozzarella on hand) on top of GF pasta with puttanesca sauce. It was really good!



The best money I spent was on these warming mittens. They are supposed to help with arthritis. Who knows if they will help my RA but I figure it's worth a shot!

My plans this weekend include going out to dinner tonight with some girls from book club and then attending a live taping of the podcast, Terrible, Thanks for Asking. We are reading the book by the host of the podcast (Nora McInerny Purmort) for our December meeting so it will be fun to see her live before our book club meeting! On Saturday, my SIL and I are going to shop for the family we are sponsoring for Christmas. Starting last year, instead of giving our parents a Christmas gift, we use the money we would have spent to sponsor a family in need. I don't have any specific plans for Sunday besides grocery shopping/preparing for Thanksgiving. I'm hosting my family for a lasagna dinner the day after Thanksgiving. I'm making 2 lasagnas - one veggie and one meat. I am planning to make one of the lasagnas on Sunday. It will be nice to get one of the lasagnas made/froze ahead of time!

What was the high of your week? Did you make any recipes this week (either new-to-you or tried and true)?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

NYC Trip Recap

Happy Thursday! This week has been a bit of a blur! I got back from my NYC trip on Monday evening and the rest of the week has flown by as we had to prepare for listing photos which were taken on Wednesday. To be clear - we are not listing our house now. We decided to get the listing photos out of the way before we start to accumulate lots of baby stuff. Now we'll be able to list the house as soon as we find a house to buy. Add in a painful RA flare that required a steroid injection (my 8th of this pregnancy!!) and it has been a hectic week...

But let's talk about something more fun - my trip to NYC! I planned this trip back in April as I had some American Airline miles that were expiring. I had enough miles to pay for the flights so it made this trip inexpensive.


The reason for the trip was to visit my friend Alli and meet their new baby! Alli and her husband moved to an adorable neighborhood in Queens called "Sunnyside Gardens." I had never been to Queens before but was completely charmed by their neighborhood. It's full of brick row houses and mature trees. It has a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline and you are just a quick subway ride away from midtown.

I arrived on Thursday evening and checked into my airbnb. I opted to stay in an airbnb instead of with Alli and her husband as I knew they'd be adjusting to life with a newborn. Plus it's kind of nice to have your own space to return to at the end of each day! I highly recommend the place I stayed in. It was only $110/night so it's very economical. The unit is a small studio but had plenty of room for 2 people. Sunnyside is an easy 20 minute subway ride into Manhattan so it's a very economical way to visit NYC!

I went over to Alli's on Friday morning and soaked up time with Alli and her adorable son Aaron! I got lots of opportunities to cuddle their sweet baby! Holding him made me even more excited for the arrival of our little one!

Is there anything better than holding a sleeping baby?

Aaron and his momma, Alli. Aaron loves to give side eye!  ;)
On Friday we went out for a yummy lunch and then spent the rest of the day at their house. It was very cold outside for NYC - in the 30s! I was more than happy to chill with Alli and the baby. Alli made dinner + homemade GF chocolate chip cookies! Can you say supermom??

On Saturday I went into Manhattan for the day. I started off by meeting up with a friend that I met when I worked in Colorado the summer after my sophomore year of college. I hadn't seen her since 2009 so we had a lot of catch up on! I enjoyed a decaf latte.


After gabbing for 2 hours, I took a subway down to the Soho area and had lunch at Senza Gluten which is a 100% gluten free Italian restaurant. It was amazing to be able to order anything off the menu! My pasta was delicious!


After lunch I stopped by Laduree to pick up some macarons to share with Alli's husband, Chris, who is also a Celiac. (Alli is allergic to tree nuts so can't have macarons.)


Then I meandered down to the 9/11 Memorial. I was hoping to go to the museum but the line was obnoxiously long. The memorial was beautifully done. They have 2 different pools that are surrounded by the names of the victims of 9/11. The memorial indicates where the victim was or what fire department or police department they were a member of.


There is also a "survivor tree." Here is an explanation of the tree:

"In October 2001, the tree was discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged, with snapped roots and burned and broken branches. The tree was removed from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. After its recovery and rehabilitation, the tree was returned to the Memorial in 2010. New, smooth limbs extended from the gnarled stumps, creating a visible demarcation between the tree’s past and present. Today, the tree stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth."



After that I headed back to Sunnyside. We went out to dinner that night at a restaurant in their neighborhood. I had a delicious burger on a GF bun! GF buns usually suck but this one was so good!


Sunday was another low key day. We got brunch in the morning, checked out an art fair, and then headed back to Alli's to soak up more time with baby Aaron.

It's exhausting being this cute!
 I got him to smile and managed to capture the moment on my phone!


Aaron is just the sweetest baby. He only cries when he's hungry or needs his diaper changed. I hope our baby is as good-natured as baby Aaron! But fussy or easy going, we'll love him or her no matter what!

Alli made one last meal - a delicious pasta dish with sausage, peppers and onions.  It was so good!


On Monday morning, I took my time getting ready. I was feeling especially exhausted that morning - I should have known it was a sign that a flare was coming as I tend to get extra tired before having a flare.  And sure enough - I came down with a flare during the night on Monday. Womp womp!

My trip to NYC was the perfect getaway for me. It was great to spend so much time with Alli and her husband and to get so many baby snuggles from sweet Aaron!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Virtual Coffee Date

Hi friends! It's been awhile since I've done a virtual coffee date. It feels very winterish here as our highs are in the 30s ( and will be in the 20s later this week) and we've had 2 snow falls already (although the snow has melted each time). So it seems like the perfect time of year to grab a cup of something warm and catch up on life's happenings!



If we were having coffee today...

- I would actually opt for tea as I stopped drinking coffee shortly after finding out I was pregnant. It's safe to have a couple of cups a coffee a day while pregnant, but I was so turned off by the taste so I stopped drinking it completely! I could add it back in as the taste is more appealing now but I kind of like not being 'hooked' on something. I will occasionally get a decaf latte when I want a warm treat, though.

- I would talk about my upcoming travel plans! Later this week I am flying to NYC to visit my friend Alli. They had a beautiful baby boy in September. I can't wait to snuggle him and kiss his pudgy cheeks. I'm staying in Alli's neighborhood in Sunnyside, which is in Queens. I rented an airbnb that is a couple of blocks away from their home. They are in the midst of a remodel and are obviously adjusting to life with a newborn so it made sense to get my own place. Her neighborhood sounds so cute and charming so I can't wait to check it out. Plus I can be in Manhattan in 20-30 minutes on the train so it will be easy to get into the city. While I'm there, I am going to meet up with a friend that I made when I worked in Steamboat Spring, CO during college. I haven't seen her since 2009 so we have lots to catch up on!

- Next I would tell you about my trip to St. Louis in early December to visit Nora. Nora was diagnosed with lymphoma this summer and has been undergoing treatments this fall. In September she found out that the cancer is gone (hip hip hooray!). So this trip will be a celebration of being cancer-free and having her treatments behind her (she has her last two treatments this month). We are going to do some Christmasy stuff and visit book stores and just soak up girl time together. This will be my last trip before the baby comes. I could safely fly up to 34 weeks but I have decided to stop traveling a bit earlier. Luckily my boss is totally fine with me not traveling anymore.

- I'm sure we'd talk about the holidays! This year we are spending Thanksgiving with my family. My brother is hosting which is super convenient for us since he lives only 30 minutes away. Phil doesn't get the Friday after Thanksgiving off so it's great that we won't have to travel far. I love Christmas but I really love Thanksgiving. It's all about family and food and there's no pressure to decorate or buy presents! That said, I'm also excited for Christmas. We'll be celebrating with Phil's mom this year (we alternate who we spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with). Phil and I are not gift people - we stopped exchanging gifts for birthdays and Christmas last year. Instead we focus on spending quality time together to celebrate the holiday. I'm already thinking about the special meal we'll make to celebrate our little Christmas (it will be Indian-themed since we both love Indian food). Plus we always bake something together so I'm starting to do some research on what we should make!

- We would talk about what we are reading/planning to read. Right now I'm reading Everyone Brave is Forgiven, which is a WWII novel. After I finish this book, I want to An American Sickness which is about our broken healthcare system. The next heavier non-fiction book I want to read is The Second Amendment. It's written by an NYU law professor. It's about the history of the 2nd amendment (right to bear arms) and which is one of the most misunderstood provisions of the Bill of Rights. Given the insane level of gun violence in our country, I need to become more well-versed on this issue.

- Lastly, we would probably talk about my pregnancy. I'm 23 weeks today! I'd likely whine a bit about the latest flare I came down with on Sunday evening. I'm pretty much getting maybe a 4 day break between flares these days. If they continue at this rate it's going to make for a VERY long pregnancy.  :/

If we were meeting for coffee or tea today, what would you tell me?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Podcasts, Books and Looks of October

October was another busy month! Time is a-flying and before we know it, we'll be turning the calendar to 2018. November and December are 2 of my favorite months as I love all the holiday excitement and anticipation - although I don't feel as much of a sense of anticipation anymore as Christmas comes so fast and I don't really care about gifts like I did when I was a child!  #adulting

Here's how October shaped up for me:

Podcasts:

Birthful - I am really enjoying this podcast which delves into all kind of topics from labor and delivery to breast feeding to cloth diapering. Shout-out to Amber for recommending this to me!

Books:

It was another strong month of reading for me!  I read 7 books! My favorites were Al Franken's memoir and This Is How It Always Is.



The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson - 3 stars - This is a novel about 2 step-sisters. The older sister goes to Alabama to help out her aging grandmother and learns some secrets about the family. I had heard good things about this author and while I enjoyed the book, I didn't LOVE it.

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel - 5 stars - This will end up on my 'best reads of 2017' list. It's about a family with a transgendered child. The author is the mother of a transgendered child so she can speak with authority on the subject, although she makes it clear in the afterword that this is not her child's story. My book club will be discussing this tonight and it's going to make for a great discussion, especially since the person leading the discussion is a child psychologist who has counseled transgendered youth.

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham - 4 stars - This is a young adult novel that is addresses the race riots that occurred in Tulsa in 1921. I had never heard of these race riots. As a result of the riots, an entire section of town where African Americans lived was burned to the ground. I'm glad this book is bringing attention to this horrible act in history.

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain - 3 stars - This is similar to Almost Sisters as the main character returns home to deal with her father's estate and learns a shocking family secret.

Still Life by Louise Penny - 4 stars - This is the first book in Penny's Inspector Gamache series. Some have said the book moved slowly but I really enjoyed all the character development. It is a 'cozy mystery' so it's the perfect series to dig into as the weather gets colder! It also made me want to visit Quebec, Canada as the series is set in that area. I'll definitely read more from this series (after I get through my big stack of unread books that I own!!).

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate - 5 stars - This memoir by the Minnesota Senator, Al Franken, was really entertaining. He used to write for SNL so clearly has a great sense of humor and a way with words. In the book he talks about his career and how ended becoming a senator. He won in a very close race - with all the law suits it took 7 months for him to be declared a winner. I was living in Minnesota at that time but do not remember the legal battle over the senate race! I guess I did not pay as close attention to politics back then?

The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay - 3 stars - I bought this off a kindle deal email months ago and finally got around to reading it on our Asheville vacation. It's a light, easy read so was perfect for vacation.

Looks:

I already shared this photo in my pregnancy update, but this was one of my favorite looks from October. Most of my looks are not photo-worthy these days. I have been wearing a lot of longer maternity long-sleeve t-shirts. I bought some cute dresses from Gap and Pinkblush but my belly isn't big enough to wear them yet as there is too much excess fabric!


Friday, November 3, 2017

Pregnancy Update: 22 weeks

Happy Friday! I'm back with another pregnancy update.

Baby size:  The baby is about 11" long and weighs about a pound. According to the Babycenter website, it's the size of a spaghetti squash. The fruit/vegetable comparisons do not make sense to me, though. Last week it was the size of a banana, now it's a spaghetti squash?? I was thinking they must be comparing the length of the baby to the fruit or vegetable but it still doesn't make all that much sense to me!

Sex of the baby:  I'm sticking with my decision to not find out. Phil still kind of wants to know so at our 20 week ultrasound appointment we had the technician put the sex in an envelop for Phil. Our agreement is that Phil won't tell me if he opens it or not so I won't ever know if he did in fact find out the sex. We had friends over on Monday and they asked if he had opened it and he said he hadn't so maybe he'll stay team green with me - although he could have just been saying he hadn't opened it since he's not supposed to tell me if he did!

Symptoms/RA management:  My RA still sucks. I'm pretty much getting flares every week now. Some are minor, some are awful and force me to stay home from work for a day. Unfortunately the perinatal specialist we saw did not have any advice and said to just work with my Rheumatologist. My Rheum has told me that we've exhausted all of our options and I just need to stay on a low dose of steroids and increase it when I get flares. There is one more drug we could add in, but it carries a risk of liver issues so she doesn't want me to go on it. Plus it could take 2-3 months to become effective and then I'd have to go off it when the baby is born as it's not safe for breast feeding. I totally underestimated how difficult it would be to manage a chronic illness while pregnant.

Other than my RA issues, I'm feeling pretty good. I have started to have low back pain which is surprising as my bump isn't that big. But I guess the muscles in that area have adjusted to accommodate a growing baby. I'm going to continue to get monthly massage so hopefully those will help.

Recent/upcoming appointments: We had our 20 week ultrasound a couple of weeks ago and it went great. The baby looked healthy and they said the weight was 80th percentile so that was good to hear as low birth weight is one of the risks of steroid use. We also found out I have an anterior placenta - which means the placenta is in the front. That explains why I'm not feeling much movement as moms with an anterior placenta feel movement later than others.

I had my 22 week prenatal appointment yesterday and that went well. I really really love my OB and am so glad that I switched back to my previous practice. My belly is measuring on track which was reassuring as I've received several "wow, you aren't showing much!" comments.

Sleep:  Sleep has been a bit better lately and I slept especially well when we were in Asheville. I'm accepting that I am just going to be more tired during this pregnancy. Some women feel more energetic during their 2nd trimester but that hasn't been the case for me. My RA and all the flares are likely the culprit for feeling extra tired as flares just wear me out. Most weekends I need to take a nap on both days. I'm still getting up 2-3 times a night to go the bathroom which is super annoying!

Cravings and favorite foods: Pickles are the only thing that stand out in my mind. I also find that I am super thirsty for water.

Exercise:  I'm still taking it very easy due to all the flares. I'm working on accepting the fact that I won't have the active pregnancy that I envisioned. It's out of my control due to my RA but I do feel guilty and wonder how the lower level of activity is going to impact my birth and recovery but since I can't do anything about it, I need to just accept it.

Recent baby prep/decisions/purchases:  Our Amazon registry is pretty much finished. I am sure I'll add things going forward but I think we've registered for everything we need. This weekend I am buying a second hand Halo Bassinet from someone off of Facebook. I am glad I was able to find it second hand as they are not cheap (retails for $200, I got it for $125 and she's throwing in 3 sets of sheets).

We have decided use cloth diapers (this is a "you do you" thing - I totally understand why many opt to use disposable diapers, but we've decided that cloth makes sense for us!). We have several different kinds on our registry but I ended up buying 4 cloth diapers as there was a really good warehouse sale (shout out to my friend Emilie for letting me know about it!). We'll use disposables until the baby will fit in the "one size" diapers which fit babies when they are around 10 pounds. So we'll use disposables for the first month or so - unless the baby takes after me and is 10 pounds at birth (please let this not be the case!!).

Our next big purchase will be a glider. Phil's mom offered to purchase this for us which was very generous of her as gliders are not cheap! But Phil does go out to her house every weekend to help her out so I know this is her way of thanking us/paying us back for all of his hard work. I have a glider in mind but I want to go to a show room and try out the different options before we order one.

Another decision we made was about child care. We toured 4 daycares in the first trimester and have opted to go with a Spanish Immersion Daycare that is between our neighborhood and where we work downtown. The couple we are best friends with take their son there and have been very happy with it and it stood out as our favorite place of the 4 we toured. They aren't able to confirm when they will have a spot available but we are just going to trust that it will work out. Worst case scenario, we will hire a nanny for a month or so if they don't have a spot open when I return to work in July. This obviously means that I am planning to go back to work full time after the baby is born. I am fortunate and get 18 weeks of maternity leave (10 of which are paid) plus 2 weeks (paid) before the due date. This is very generous compared to what most US companies offer! A lot of my friends have to go back around 12 weeks so I am very grateful that I will have 6 more weeks at home with our baby.

Mood: I will be honest and say I do not love being pregnant. I feel some guilt over this as I feel like I'm supposed to be enjoying it. Maybe if I didn't have active RA I might be able to enjoy it more? I am very grateful to be pregnant and I can't wait to meet our baby in March but I can't say I enjoy being pregnant.

Maternity clothes: I've packed away all of my pre-maternity pants. I am carrying so low so it's not comfortable to use the belly band with my pre-maternity pants. I can still wear some of my pre-maternity dresses as long as they have some stretch to them, like the one I'm wearing in the picture below.

Both pictures were taken when I was around 20 weeks. I haven't taken any pictures since then!



Reading:  I'm still slowly working my way through "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." My goal is to read the newborn sleep section and then pass it off to Phil so he can read about sleep training and such. I kind of doubt he'll read it before the baby is born, though. The next book I want to read is "The Happiest Baby on the Block." I've heard it's really good. We'll also probably check the video out from the library as I've heard that it does a great job of demonstrating how to soothe a baby.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Asheville Recap: Part II

I'm back with the 2nd half or our Asheville trip recap! On Friday morning, we slept in again, although not as late as the day before. But I still got 10 hours of sleep which felt amazing. I'm kind of odd in that I sleep better in other places. This has to do with the fact that I have insomnia. It's gotten better over the last couple of years because of the sleep training I've done, but sleep still doesn't come super easy to me at home.

After eating another breakfast of scrambled eggs and hash browns, we headed out for another series of hikes. And once again, it was a winding, curvy drive!


On Thursday we had headed north of Asheville so on Friday we went south. The fall colors were even more beautiful south of Asheville as the evelation is lower and the temps are slightly warmer as a result. We stopped at one of the overlooks and snapped a couple of pictures. You might notice that I wore the same sweatshirt again. I swear I changed my bottoms and the shirt I wore under my sweatshirt. :) I just love this sweatshirt so much as the material is extra soft and comfy!


The fall colors were so gorgeous!
We ended up doing 3 hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway that day. We wanted to see some waterfalls so 2 of the 3 hikes were waterfall hikes. The first hike was a shorter hike to Skinny Dip Falls. Apparently this is a popular swimming spot in the summer!


21 weeks pregnant and loving these hikes!


We came across this really cool-shaped tree on the trail. We thought that it looked like a deer head.


Our next hike was called Graveyard Fields and it was less than a mile down the road from the first hike. There were 2 sets of waterfalls. We started with the lower falls, which was a little over 1 mile away. We were kind of questioning whether we would actually find the lower falls as the trail was not well-marked and it split a couple of times so we had to guess which way to go. It all worked out, though, and we found the falls! We ran into a hiker on the trail who told us that he had spotted a copperhead snake by the falls. I am REALLY glad we didn't see it as I am terrified of snakes.


We made our way back to the start of the trail and went to the upper falls, which were really close to the parking lot. This waterfall was much more impressive!


Our last hike of the day was to the summits of Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain. It was probably around 2-3 miles round trip. The views from the top of the summits, which were around 6,000 ft, were really beautiful!



After that hike we headed back to Asheville. Our first stop when we got back was at The Gourmet Chip Company. This is another one of my 'must go' places in Asheville. They make their own chips and have lots of different flavor combinations. We went with the Parisian, which is what I always order at this place. The chips are topped with goat cheese, rosemary, thyme, and a white truffle spritz. They are sooo good! Phil thought they had too much going on so I ate the majority of our order.  :)


After showering, we headed into downtown and checked out the Friday night drumming circle. This is another one of my 'must do' things in Asheville. Every Friday night, a group of drummers meets in a park close to downtown and pound out some music. It's such a cool thing to experience! When the weather cools down, they move indoors but I am glad we were able to see them while they were still performing outdoors.


After taking in a few songs, we headed to dinner at a St. Lucian restaurant called Calypso. I hadn't been there before but we really enjoyed our food. I had a shrimp curry dish which was really good. I forgot to take a picture so you'll have to take my word for it.

After dinner we stopped at bookstore so I could buy "Goodnight Asheville" for Baby Segner. This is the only thing we purchased on this trip. It will be fun to read this to the baby and think back on this fun trip!


Our last stop of the night was at French Broad Chocolate Lounge. This is another place I HAVE to go to when I'm in Asheville. They have the best desserts and accommodate food allergies so well. I had a peanut butter cookie, which was the best pb cookie I have ever had, and a cup of salted caramel hot chocolate. Phil had a peanut butter brownie which he was was rich but very delicious.


After that we headed back to the loft and crashed. All that fresh air and activity really wore me out! On Saturday morning, we took our time getting ready, made breakfast and then headed to Charlotte. I gave Phil a short tour of the city and showed him where I worked and lived. A former co-worker hosted us for the night so we headed to her house. That night we went to dinner at Cabo Fish Taco, which is my favorite Charlotte restaurant. My friend Lori (who introduced me to this restaurant) and her husband met us as well as our host for the night and another work friend. It was great to catch up!

We spent the rest of the evening chatting with my 2 former coworkers. Neither of them had met Phil so there was lots to talk about.

We flew out around 12:30 on Sunday and were back home by 3pm. It was nice to have time to grocery shop and do laundry. Phil went out to his mom's to help out with a few things and, more importantly, to bring Oscar back as she had stayed there for the last 2 weeks! We really missed her and are so happy to have her back!

Reunited and it feels so good!
All in all, it was a wonderful getaway for us. This is the last pre-baby trip we will take together. I did end up having a flare for the whole trip and I got a second flare on Saturday night which was likely the result of all of the hiking we did. But all in all, I don't regret the hiking as we saw such beautiful scenery. Next time we go hiking, we'll have a little baby with us! I told Phil that he can carry him or her since I've done the carrying on our hikes in August and October. :)

Have I convinced you to go to Asheville yet? It's seriously one of my favorite areas of the country! There is so much beauty and so much great food!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Asheville Recap: Part I

Happy Halloween, everyone! I'm back from Asheville and ready to chat about our awesome getaway. We packed a lot of fun into this trip so I am going to split the recap into 2 parts so that these posts aren't too obnoxiously long (they'll still be long).

We landed in Charlotte mid-day on Wednesday, picked up our car and started to head towards Asheville, which is about 2 hours from Charlotte. We stopped along the way for some BBQ at Peace N Hominy in Belmont. We could definitely tell we were in the south as the daily menu included a bible verse (this is something you would never seen in the Midwest, despite the fact that we have a large Christian population!). Our lunch was delicious and inexpensive. I like NC BBQ because the sauces are vinegar-based and I LOVE vinegar. :) I had pulled pork and fries and Phil had a pulled pork sandwich.


After that pit-stop, we got back on the road and got to Asheville in the late afternoon. We checked into our airbnb. As I mentioned in my travel post, we much prefer airbnb's to hotels as we like having access to a kitchen. The airbnb we rented was a loft and it was located in a great location. It was downtown, but not in the loudest area of downtown. And it was huge! Phil said it was like sleeping on a basketball court.



There were 2 beds - 1 king and 1 queen - so this unit could have been shared with another couple, which would cut down on the cost. I still thought it was a reasonable expense and really appreciated that parking was included because parking in Asheville is really difficult - especially on the weekends.

After getting settled in, we walked to Trader Joe's and got some eggs and hash browns to make for breakfast each day as well as some snacks for our hikes. We ended up only eating out one meal a day while we were in Asheville as we'd make a bigger breakfast, snack during the afternoon, and then go out for dinner at the end of the day. As a result, we spent very little on food which was nice!

Our first dinner out was at my favorite Asheville restaurant - Chai Pani. If you find yourself in Asheville and like Indian, you have to check this place out! We shared an appetizer, but I forgot to take a picture of it, and we each got our own entrees. Phil got a Chicken Tikka roll which was an Indian-style burrito with naan as the burrito wrapper and I got a 'thali' which included butter chicken, rice, daal, pickled cabbage, pappadams (crispy bread-like things made from chickpeas) and raita. It was delicious!


On Thursday morning we slept in. And I mean really slept in as we didn't get up until 9:30 am (which felt like 8:30 to us with the time change)! I slept for 11 hours which felt amazing! I can't remember the last time I slept more than 7-8 hours. My body really needed the extra sleep. We made breakfast and headed out for some hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Phil jokes that all of our trips involve windy, curvy roads.



There were definitely lots of sharp curves but at least there weren't any one-lane bridges like there were in Maui!  :)

Our first hike was a short 2 mile (round trip) hike called Craggy Pinnacle. The fall colors were absolutely beautiful. It was a little bit cool, but not too cold for us hearty Midwesterners.



Most of the people we saw were wearing winter jackets. Phil, on the other hand, wore shorts! It was in the upper 40s/low 50s. Notice the icicles in the picture below!


For our next hike we decided to hike to the summit of Mount Mitchell, which is the higher point east of the Mississippi. The full hike is 10+ miles one way, but we just did the last 1.5 miles to the top, so 3 miles round trip. It was a pretty difficult trail in some parts as you had to scramble over rocks and tree roots and such, but it was a fun trail. You could also drive to the top of Mount Mitchell but as Phil said, 'where's the fun in that?'


The views from the observation deck were beautiful. Pictures don't do it justice but the fall colors were spectacular.


After that hike we headed back to Asheville and went straight to New Belgium Brewery. This is one of Phil's favorite beer makers so I am glad we had time to tour their site.


We've done a lot of brewery tours but this one was definitely the best we've been on. You can tell the brewery was designed with the tour in mind. They had lots of beautiful artwork throughout the brewery, much of which was circus-themed. New Belgium holds fundraisers each year and they tend to be circus-themed so that is the reason why the art is circus-themed.


At one point we needed to go from the 2nd level to the ground level and there was a slide to get to the lower level.


Phil coming out of the slide
Phil enjoyed trying 4 different beers (I obviously stuck with water since I don't drink beer and I'm pregnant).

By the time we finished the tour it was after 6 pm so we headed back to our loft, showered, and headed out for some tacos at White Duck Taco. They had lots of different tacos, many of which were GF. I had a Korean Beef, a jerk chicken and a grilled fish taco. My favorite of the 3 was definitely the fish taco.


After a full day of activity we were in bed early! All that fresh air definitely wore us out and I ended up sleeping for 10 hours that night! If only I could sleep that soundly and for that many hours at home!

Have you been on a brewery tour? Even though I don't drink beer, I enjoy going on brewery tours as you learn so much about the company and their brewing process. And Phil enjoys the free beer!