10 Top Tips for a Healthy and Happy Pregnancy

I did it! I finally gave birth to a beautiful baby! She arrived right on the day of her due date which is rare for a first time mother! I had no complications throughout the pregnancy but struggled while giving birth as my water broke early and contractions were sporadic after 23+ hours of labor. Thankfully, I gave birth at a hospital where they were supportive of natural labor and had the best OBY/GYN. She was wonderful and inspired me to become a doctor like her one day. The doctor was skilled, patient, respectful towards everyone, was nearly always smiling and laughing but also knew when to be calm and professional. I also had the love and support of my husband and mother who tirelessly massaged me and stayed by my side as I cried out in pain from the contractions. I was so happy that my loved ones were there when I gave birth and they both cut the umbilical cord separately. It was a very emotional and happy moment as we all cried after my daughter was born.

My baby and me holding hands.



After giving birth, my mother wasted no time in making miyokgook (Korean seaweed soup) for me as it helps with blood circulation and breast milk production. I’ve been eating it everyday and sometimes three times a day with each meal and it still tastes delicious! Not only is it prepared with love daily but it is also nutritious and beneficial for my health. 😊 I hope to upload a recipe in the near future! I will upload my recipe for delicious lactation cookies very soon!

The following are the top 10 tips I have for a healthy and happy pregnancy from my own experience. The tips are not in any particular order. I hope they can help you but it’s important to follow what works for you!

  1. Exercise.
    I love to exercise because it’s the number one thing that makes me feel better both physically and mentally. I find that exercising helps me with headaches, puts me in a better and refreshed mood, and keeps my body strong. I’m a huge fan of martial arts and cardio. If I’m not able to attend martial arts classes then I rotate through my Insanity workout collection. (Insanity Max 30 is my favorite!) I did Insanity and Insanity Max 30 from the very beginning of my pregnancy and did it six days of the week until the very day I had to get admitted to the hospital. Always receive approval from your doctor before doing any intense workout. I believe that part of the reason I was able to continue working out was because I did it religiously before I got pregnant. I had to start modifying during my second trimester and knew when to listen to my body and stop when something didn’t feel right.

    Yes, there were days I didn’t feel like exercising (or even dreaded it) but I always felt better after getting up and just doing it. I might have felt tired and unmotivated in the beginning of a workout but I never regretted it and felt much better after finishing a workout. I also believe that exercising helped me not gain an excessive amount of weight and helped me give birth to a strong and healthy baby despite odds being against me. My baby was able to lift her head and tried to stand on her two feet the day after she was born!

  2. Eat healthy as much as possible.
    I always thought that I would relax my standards and pig out when I get pregnant for the first time. However, I really wanted to be healthy during my pregnancy for myself and my child. Gaining a lot of weight during pregnancy is also really uncomfortable. I can’t imagine how much it would negatively affect me both emotionally and physically if I really let myself go and ate everything I wanted. I tried to remind myself that I was in control of my cravings. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t indulge sometimes. I just tried to not over do it and eat healthy as much as possible with a lot of whole grain, fish, fruits, and vegetables. I also tried to avoid foods that were prone to listeria and kept up to date with news regarding listeria outbreaks on a regular basis.

  3. Drink a lot of water/fluids.
    I drank a lot of water before I even got pregnant but it’s so important to keep hydrated during pregnancy. At one point during my first trimester, water didn’t taste good to me anymore (yes, I can taste minerals and the difference between waters.) I had the hardest time drinking regular water which was one of the weirdest feelings. My doctor suggested Gatorade but I am not a huge fan since it contains dye, artificial flavors, etc. I ended up drinking a lot of barley tea to help keep myself hydrated. Barley tea also helped with my painful headaches that tended to come at nights. During my second trimester, I also drank coconut water and made mint and fruit infused water with lemon slices.I believe drinking a lot of water helped me cope with my headaches and promote blood circulation. I also never had an issue with overly swollen or puffy hands and feet throughout my pregnancy.

  4. Relax and take it easy.
    Unfortunately, most of pregnancy and giving birth is not really in your control. I’ve read several books, did a lot of research, and made plans but sometimes life doesn’t go the way you exactly hoped. Whenever I felt anxious or worried of all the things that could go wrong, I would pray and try to trust in God regardless of the outcome. I also meditated daily, did biofeedback, and exercised which helped release tension. I also recommend a nice warm soak in the bath with your favorite salts, aromatherapy, and music. Do any enjoyable and safe activity that helps you relax. You deserve it! 😊

  5. Enjoy the journey (as much as possible).
    During one point or another, I felt like I was looking forward to the future or missed the past. When I was in my first trimester, I was looking forward to the “golden” second trimester which was not that drastically better for me as people said it was. During my second trimester, I missed the first trimester where I had a slimmer figure and was able to sleep on my back. During my third trimester, I wanted this baby out because I was SO uncomfortable towards the end. After the baby was born, I missed being pregnant and able to sleep a little bit more. Even Chai recently said he can’t wait for the baby to be six years old and already at school. Right now, I’m letting go of all that and just enjoying the moment. As I write this, it’s been a little over two weeks after I gave birth but I can tell my baby has already grown so much compared to when she was at the hospital. Her personality is starting to really shine and she acts differently. She smiles a lot more and knows what she wants. I really want to stop looking to the past and future but just enjoy the present so I don’t miss out what’s happening right now whether it’s baby related or not. Studying and learning about mindfulness also really helped with being present in the moment.

  6. Know your body and limits. “Know when to say no.”
    If you’re the “A blood type” who tends to be a perfectionist and push themselves, then we have a lot in common. My mother advised me both during pregnancy and post-partum to rest well as much as possible and eat well for both my and the baby’s health. I wish I rested better during my pregnancy and didn’t push myself so hard. After giving birth and going home, I felt like a truck hit me several times over as I woke up every 2 hours to feed my baby. My baby was also fighting with me for 1-2 hours because she had difficulty latching for the first week. I never gave up but my body was at its limit on top of trying to recover from giving birth. Recently, I pushed myself into going out and running errands and my body gave me a huge wake up call. I needed to stop and rest even if there were so many things that needed to get done. I would say that I prioritized my health but didn’t really act on it. Deep down, I knew that I needed to get healthy first in order to take care of myself and my family. I am also blessed to have the support of my family to help me with everyday tasks so I can take a break or not push myself as hard.

  7. Know what works for you and drown out the rest of the noise.
    I feel like this is one of the most important key points. During my pregnancy, I tried nearly all the popular advice on what to do and eat for an easier birth. I drank raspberry tea leaf daily, tried to eat a lot of dates, ate a lot of eggplant with herbs towards the end of my pregnancy, etc. I felt like they honestly didn’t do much as I did not have an easy labor. The one thing that really worked for me was exercising nearly everyday and staying hydrated. I also ate well before I was in active labor to give myself the strength I needed as I went more than 24 hours without food. After giving birth, I was given so many contradicting advice from family members, nurses, doctors, and internet resources. It was overwhelming and discouraging at the same time. Medicine is not a perfect science and people are constantly researching and learning new things and overturning older advice. I would say to keep an open mind and make your and your baby’s health a priority. Try not to listen to advice that would compromise your baby’s health or weight gain. There is no one “right” way to do things and you have to find what works for you since everyone’s experiences are different.

  8. Sleep better at night.
    Sleep sleep sleep as much as you can! I suffered from insomnia during my pregnancy but do whatever you can to make yourself comfortable and rest well. What worked for me during pregnancy was using a long body pillow to put in between my legs when my hips hurt me and my feet fell asleep. I was contemplating on buying those special pregnancy pillows but they are really not necessary. I would meditate again at night that was specific to sleep or put on some meditation music that would help me doze off.

  9. Massages.
    Massages help you relax and, most importantly, they feel good! Massages helped me get through pregnancy and cope with the pain during active labor. If you get a professional massage during pregnancy, make sure to find out in advance whether they can accommodate pregnant people!  

  10. Babymoon & Going on Dates
    I highly suggest you and your partner go on a babymoon during your second trimester. It’s a wonderful way to relax and enjoy one last big vacation before the baby arrives. My husband and I went to Hawaii for our babymoon and it was one of our favorite trips so far. You can find out more about the trip and some tips and recommendations for travelling in Hawaii here. It doesn’t have to be a destination where it’s too far. As long as you both can enjoy the trip together, I believe that’s what matters! 😊 I also recommend that you continue to go on regular local dates even after the baby’s born to help re-connect with your partner. It’ll be easier if you have a babysitter or a family member who can help watch the baby during your date!

How was your pregnancy and what helped you get through it? Please let me know through your comments below!

Hawaii Trip with tips and recommendations

I haven’t been updating on a weekly basis partly because Chai and I were away in Hawaii for a babymoon~ I plan to update this website on a bi-weekly basis. On top of being pregnant, I am working on an online masters degree which takes up most of my time. I want to make time to do more of what I enjoy including playing piano and working on this blog. I still plan to continue to update this website regularly.

Now onto Hawaii! 😀
This wasn’t my first trip to Hawaii. I think it’s my third or fourth time being there but the last time I’ve made a trip there was when I was in high school. We decided to choose Hawaii because Chai had never been there and we also needed a relaxing beach trip compared to our usual jam-packed/running to the next appointment schedule in Germany. It was also nice seeing Hawaii again with the perspective of moving there one day. I highly recommend renting a car when you’re visiting the islands so you can venture outside the cities. The exception would be if you’re only staying in and exploring Honolulu for a few days where public transportation (buses) would suffice. I recommend purchasing the day pass for the buses where it’s cash only and you need exact change. I heard and saw that they are building for a train transportation in Oahu but I’m not sure when that will be completed.

 

MAUI

We stayed in Maui first which is one my favorite islands at my friend’s house. Maui is really a beautiful place with nice beaches and landscapes. It seems to be the favorite island of most people I’ve talked with! The only downside is the prices/cost of living there. We spent the most on food and gas in Maui where dinners usually were around $150 for two people. Chai and I were able to drive through the Road of Hana and see the Twin falls and Waianapanapa State Park. I recommend the drive to Road of Hana for some nice scenery! The one thing that we weren’t able to do was see the sunrise at Mt. Haleakala. We didn’t know that you needed to register in advance and the government shutdown probably didn’t help our cause either. A tip from the locals is to bring a jacket because it’s freezing up there! I also heard that the sunset is almost just as lovely and you don’t need reservations to see the sunset. We weren’t able to catch the sunset because we made dinner reservations almost every night we were in Maui. My friend who grew up in Maui recommended the Keawakapu Beach which was nice. 😊

 

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Dinner at Laihana Grill.

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Twin Falls at Road to Hana.

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Road to Hana.

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Maui Landscape.

 

Most of the places we tried that were popular on yelp and online failed to meet our expectations. ☹ I guess it’s an issue of difference of tastes. I’ve only listed a fraction of the places we’ve tried but tried to list the most well-known or highly recommended places.

Maui Restaurants/Cafes/Places to eat:

Lahaina Grill: (****) This was our favorite restaurant in Maui! I had notified the restaurant in advance that we were celebrating our anniversary dinner and babymoon and they were kind enough to take a nice photo of us, give us a baby bib and cards, and provide a free yummy cake for dessert! Our waitress was kind and highly energetic. The food was very nice as well. The only big downside was the parking where you have to either find street parking which can be difficult since it’s located in a popular area or pay at a parking lot.

Island Vintage Coffee: (****) This is like the Starbucks of Hawaii where there are several stores in Maui and Oahu. I preferred their frozen kona coffee over Starbucks frozen drinks. The only other drink I tried was their matcha latte which I found a bit too sweet. I did not try any of their food but it seemed like a popular place for breakfast. I recommend signing up for their rewards card where you can get a free drink after at least 62? points.

Paia Bay Coffee & Bar (***): This was a cute hipster breakfast place. It’s in an open area so it’s perfect when the weather is nice which is most of the time in Hawaii.

Da Kitchen Café (**): We tried the Loco Moco and the kimchi crabcake. I loved how there was Korean food infused into some dishes in various of restaurants. The kimchi crabcake was sad and overpriced as we only received one piece. The main dishes here were huge so splitting the Loco Moco was more than enough. The food came out really quickly which made me question whether it was prepared freshly. The taste was below average.

Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice (**): This place has so many flavors to choose from but they taste artificial.

Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread (**): This food stand is located on Road to Hana. Their banana bread was warm when we received it which was a pleasant surprise but it wasn’t the best banana bread we’ve ever tried like most websites claim. It was pretty average and overpriced.

Mama’s Fish House (*): This place was highly recommended online and by my local friend. Unfortunately, it was a bust for us. The atmosphere was nice as the restaurant was located closely to the beach and the property area was big. The restaurants boasted of freshly prepared fish but I couldn’t really tell if our fish dishes were fresh or not which mean it probably wasn’t. For the price paid and quality received, it was not worth it. Our server was unfriendly and not helpful especially when a flying roach flew into my dish. That was really disgusting and put a downer on our moods.

 

OAHU

We stayed at Kapolei for a few nights before spending our last nights in Waikiki, Honolulu. We definitely enjoyed Kapolei more than Waikiki because of the scenery and nature. It’s also more quiet and peaceful. I recommend visiting the Pearl Harbor where there is no entrance fee and you learn a lot of interesting things about the tragic events that occurred. We were able to also watch a moving short film before riding a complementary boat ride to the USS Arizona memorial out by the ocean. We weren’t able to enter the memorial because they deemed the docking area too dangerous and needed to be fixed but we were still able to see a lot of great views from the boat. The whole visit was very informing and thought-invoking.

If you’re at Honolulu, I recommend the Ala Moana Center not only for shopping but to visit the three food courts. Hawaii has a big Japanese population so there are a lot of delicious Japanese treats and restaurants! It was like being in Japan sometimes or Okinawa because of the nice weather.

We didn’t get to visit as many beaches as we’d have liked to but I recommend the Ko’Olina Beach Park. The Kapolei beach park was also relaxing. I do NOT recommend the Waikiki beach as it’s covered in tourists and garbage. ☹ That was the only beach out of the ones we visited that had so much garbage in the sand. It was really sad.

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Pearl Harbor Visit.

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USS Arizona Memorial.

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Memorial with Oahu Landscape.

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Kapolei Beach Park which was nice and relaxing!

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Oahu Mountains.

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Beautiful Ko’olina Beach Park.

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The mountains near Ko’olina Beach Park.

 

Oahu Restaurants/Cafes/Places to eat:

La Cucina Ristorante Italiano (****): An Italian restaurant that had some very nice dishes. The food is made to order so it can take some time but it’s worth it! The bruschetta appetizer was the best we’ve ever had!

Senia (****): We went here for their pre-fix lunch course. The food was delicious and well-presented while the service was nice and professional. I highly recommend the butter mochi for dessert!

Marukame Udon (****): We liked this place so much that we visited here twice during our stay! It was also close to our hotel and a very good value. There’s usually a line but it goes by quickly. The udon noodles are prepared fresh and you can watch them being made.

Matcha Stand Maiko (***): This matcha place is located very close to Marukame Udon which makes it a nice place to go for dessert! Their hojicha latte was a bit strong but authentic. Their matcha softserve was delicious.

Leonard’s Bakery (***): Probably the best place to eat masaladas. The masaladas were given to us piping hot so it’s best to eat them right away~

Roy’s Ko Olina (**): Roy’s is a chain with several locations. The food didn’t seem fresh and the dishes weren’t great so a one time visit was enough for us.

 

 

 

Have you ever been to Hawaii? What are your recommendations? 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Berlin & Dresden Christmas Markets

It’s already December!
It’s amazing how fast time flies by! There’s still a lot of exciting things happening in December before we welcome the start of the new year!

I wasn’t able to upload a post last weekend because I was away in Germany visiting Berlin and Dresden with Chai and Teddy. It was my first time visiting Germany around this season and I was super excited to see the famous German Christmas Markets!!! I did so much research about the markets in Berlin and Dresden and what food I wanted to try and bring back home. The majority of the souvenirs we bring back these days are food related. We brought back a nice WMF spätzle maker so we can now make authentic Käse (cheese) Spätzle which is my favorite German dish! There are two types of Spätzle makers but we chose the type that makes the shorter ones because it is Chai’s favorite, the device is a lot lighter, and less complicated (aka easier to clean.) It looks like this.

I did not visit as many Christmas markets in Berlin as I originally planned but the main Christmas market in Dresden made up for that! All the food that we tried in the Berlin Christmas markets was so disappointing. We tried a Bratwurst, Glühwein (mulled wine) for children (aka non-alcoholic), candied almonds, Baumstriezel (chimney cake), and Schneeball (a type of fried dough covered in chocolate with different flavors) in the Berlin Christmas Markets. I’ve had tastier food at the Spring Festival and Summer Tollwood Festival in Munich.

Another big reason why German Christmas Markets were a huge disappointment for us and we did not eat as much as we would have liked was because of the seriously unsanitary conditions these vendors were selling their food. The vendors would touch money and then touch the dough or whatever food they were preparing right away without wearing any gloves. I’ve seen vendors cough all over the food and eat their own food they were selling with their bare hands. I didn’t see a single person use hand sanitizer or wash their hands. It was a huge turnoff and we tried to keep eating at the markets to a minimum to avoid getting sick. I strongly recommend going to a stand that has a large enough team where there are designated food handlers and one person who only handles money. The only clean vendor I saw that had such a team was selling Handbrot (a delicious freshly made bread with cheese & Champagne mushrooms or ham inside topped with sour cream and chives) at the Dresdner Striezelmarkt.

I highly recommend the Dresdner Striezelmarkt over any Christmas Markets in Berlin if you are in the area. Dresden is about a 2 hour train ride away from Berlin. In any Christmas market, if you purchase a drink you can either keep the cup or return it to receive some euros back. The cups can make a good souvenir if you like the design. All markets sell knickknacks that are a bit overpriced and sold in multiple stands. If you really like something, I recommend trying to find the best price first before making your purchase.

Christmas is an amazing time for food and baked goods!
Chai grew up in Germany and really missed Stollen and Lebkuchen (German Christmas cookies full of warm spice.) We bought Dresdner Stollen and Nuremberg Lebkuchen from Kadewe. Chai mentioned that the Lebkuchen from Kadewe was more delicious and pricey than from the supermarket. Chai also bought me a Lindt Advent Calendar! I never knew about Advent Calendars in the US but apparently they’re big in Europe. This was my first time receiving an Advent Calendar and it’s really a simple yet fun treat to have. We look forward to opening a “window” of the Advent Calendar each day~ Some other food related souvenirs from Germany I recommend are: Speculaas (Christmas biscuits), various types of Stollen, various Ferrero chocolate, Leibniz crackers, candied and chocolate covered nuts, various gummies including vegan, pure European honey, Italian balsamic vinegar and/or olive oil, Händlmaier Bavarian sweet mustard, and European jam.

IMG_6812Christmas decoration inside Kadewe.

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Realistic looking potatoes made out of marzipan. Germans love their potatoes!

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A Korean monument in the middle of Berlin.

IMG_6958A part of the Berlin wall that had some Korean tribute to it.

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One of the smaller Dresden Christmas markets.

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This is what Handbrot looks like although we didn’t get it from this stand.

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Dresdner Frauenkirche.

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Inside the beautiful church.

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IMG_7063An amusing wooden piece from a souvenir shop.

IMG_6835Teddy joined us on this trip! We took her to many of the dog-friendly restaurants in Berlin.

IMG_6899Teddy received some water from Ottenthal.

IMG_6851Teddy tired from her trip and relaxing in the hotel.

IMG_6856She buried her face in my arm to shade herself from the sunlight.

Reviews and Ratings of Christmas Markets

Dresden

Dresden Striezelmarkt (4/5): Located in a beautiful city with wonderfully and uniquely decorated stands. Dresden is most well known for their Stollen (fruit bread.) We tried Handbrot as previously mentioned and white chocolate drink which was wonderfully warm and delicious to drink in the freezing weather.

IMG_7061Dresdner Striezelmarkt at night.

IMG_7030Ferris wheel and some market stands.

IMG_7032One of the many uniquely decorated stands.

IMG_7020German Christmas Pyramid.

IMG_7027Christmas decorations.

IMG_7034White hot chocolate drink.

IMG_7033The ovens at the Handbrot stand.

Berlin

Weihnachtszauber Gendarmenmarkt (3/5?): Chai visited this market on his own and he claimed that it was very similar to the market in Alexanderplatz but more scenic. It costs 1 Euro per person to enter after 2 PM.

Weihnachtsmarkt auf dem Alexanderplatz (2/5): The food here was not tasty and most vendors we saw were pretty unsanitary. I think it’s an okay market to visit if it’s your first time but I would recommend the Weihnachtszauber Gendarmenmarkt more if you want a nicer scenery.

Winterwelt am Potsdamer Platz (1/5): A small market with a small tube riding as its main feature.

 

Reviews and Ratings of Restaurants

Berlin

Ottenthal (5/5):  Although I love trying new restaurants, this is our favorite restaurant to visit whenever we are in Berlin. It’s an Austrian restaurant with the best Käsespätzle and Schnitzel I’ve ever tried. I also highly recommend their Apfelstrudel for dessert. The restaurant provides great quality food with good service.

IMG_6896I always order Käsespätzle from Ottenthal.

IMG_6907Plumb dumplings for dessert.

Kadewe Café Black Forest (4/5): This coffee shop is one of the two coffee shops on one of the top floors in Kadewe which is a luxury department store. I recommend this café over the one next to it as the coffee quality is higher. It’s one of the best coffees I’ve had in Germany. I always make multiple visits every time I am in Berlin.

Taverna Ouisa (4/5): A large Greek restaurant with delicious moussaka. The waiters were friendly and nice which was a surprising change from the usual German service.

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Café Einstein Stammhaus (4/5): This restaurant is not really a café but more a restaurant. Chai and I visited here twice for breakfast. We both enjoyed the omelet with cheese on bread and the cappuccinos. I believe they also sell lunch and dinner which we haven’t tried yet.

IMG_6836Omelette with cheese on bread and Apfelstrudel.

IMG_6935Tasty cappuccino.

Benedict (3/5): This place is attached to a hotel and sells breakfast 24 hours. We also visited here twice for breakfast. It’s popular with both locals and tourists. I recommend coming here before 9:30 AM during the weekday if you don’t want to be waitlisted. Most breakfast dishes come with a warm beverage or mimosa. I highly recommend the avocado and egg on a bagel.

IMG_6949Avocado and egg on a bagel.

Standard Pizza (3/5): This is an Austrian owned Italian pizza place. The pizza was baked in a stone oven by two Italian gentlemen. It’s a decent place to grab lunch but not the best pizza I’ve ever tried.

IMG_6858Spicy pizza from Standard.

Zeit fur Brot (3/5): A bakery that bakes their own fresh bread and has one of the best cinnamon buns I’ve ever had. They offer various of flavors including cherry! The bun was light, fluffy, and delicious.

Backermann (3/5): We visited this place on our last day because it opened early enough and was somewhat close by to our hotel. The bakery bakes their own bread but the service was lacking.

Coure Di Vetro (3/5): I recommend this place if you’re in the area and looking for gelato! I tried the pistachio but the White Duke was more tasty. It’s freshly made on site and cash only.

Bocca Di Bacco (2/5): I was very much looking forward to this Italian restaurant. The food was good, restaurant in a nice area, and there were even ambassadors visiting the same night. However, the service was unexpectedly lacking. Maybe I would give it another chance in the future but not any time soon.

IMG_6978Sea Bream with vegetables.

Bakery Backwerk (2/5): An average and common bakery chain. I questioned whether the baked goods were freshly prepared on site or arrived frozen and just heated in the oven.

Caras (2/5): We tried the cappuccino here and were not impressed at all.

 

Dresden

Kastenmeirs (3/5): A famous seafood restaurant with lots of space. I tried the lobster and leek soup which was too salty for my taste. I recommend the fish risotto.

IMG_7055Compliments from the chef.

IMG_7056Lobster and leek soup.

Dresdener Kaffeestubchen (3/5): A very small café that is well known for its Eierschecke cake. I recommend trying the cake but the cappuccino was really not good so avoid the drinks.

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Eierschecke cake.

IMG_7001The Lion King soundtrack collection in the cafe.

IMG_6991The Titanic collection in the cafe.

Fruitful Summer Gardens

There’s something really special about keeping your own garden.

Summer has already ended and it’s already well into Fall! Time really flies! I wanted to create a post about my mother’s summer gardens before it was too late!

I remember we had our first garden when I was in middle school. We had purchased a house with a small plot of land in Scarsdale, NY. There was really not much of a backyard at this house compared to all the other houses we’ve lived in. However, my mom turned this small plot of land to a garden where we could enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. I fondly remember she grew tomatoes whenever she had a garden. It was part of a foundation in keeping her gardens and may be related to her Italian history.

The house we are currently living in has a much bigger backyard which meant more gardens and delicious things to eat! My mother has set up at least 4 gardens and a vineyard in our backyard. I’ve gifted her several rose plants in the past but they never managed to survive. I would joke that my mother has a green thumb only when it comes to food. However, we do have beautiful peonies, tulips and other flowers blooming in the Spring and Summer. She grows various tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, all kinds of pumpkins, squash, eggplants, parsley, basil, rosemary, lettuce, perilla leaves, shiso leaves, mustard leaves, kale, and more every year! There was even a summer where she grew corn but we didn’t get to try any because the wild animals ate them all before we could. My mother never uses pesticides or any kind of treatment so all the produce is organic, fresh, and delicious. There’s nothing more delicious than eating freshly picked and washed vegetables and fruits from my mother’s gardens. My mother’s Italian tomato sauce is also much more delicious when made with the tomatoes from her garden! There is a small downside to keeping an organic garden with no treatments which is getting bit by mosquitoes and all sorts of bugs. I’ve gotten bit at least twice while trying to take photos of her garden earlier this Summer and my mother gets bit every time she goes out to pick anything.

IMG_0495 (2)Unripe tomatoes and cucumbers earlier this Summer.

IMG_0498 (2)We enjoyed a lot of fresh tomatoes this year!

IMG_0500 (2)This poor sakura tree was overwhelmed by all the cucumbers and pumpkins!

IMG_0501 (2)The sakura tree has become a cucumber tree during the Summer!

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Some of the cucumbers were too high to reach!

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We also enjoyed a lot of various pumpkins this Summer!

IMG_0508 (2)There’s even more tomatoes in her other gardens.

IMG_0510 (2)This is the vineyard my mother set up many years ago.

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You can see some grapes!

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We always have too many perilla and shiso leaves. We never have to buy any during the Summer and give a lot of them away to friends.

IMG_0521 (2)This is another large garden which I nicknamed, “The Mini Jungle.” It’s also where we get bit the most by bugs.

IMG_0523 (2)There’s so many vegetables growing here, it’s hard to pick a place to start!

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IMG_0526 (2)These gardens have overflown even more since I took these photos in the early Summer. Now that it’s Fall, they’ve calmed down a lot.

The greatest happiness of keeping a garden is really seeing the joy on my mother’s face when she picks the fruits of her labor after all her hard work in maintaining the gardens! What’s also great about my mother and her gardens is that she always shares her fruits and vegetables with her friends and guitar students!

Do you keep a garden? I hope you have fond memories of warm Summers with loved ones and eating fresh produce as well!

 

 

Grain Free Cupcakes for Dogs & Happy Birthday to Teddy!

October 12th was Teddy’s birthday!!! This precious Pomeranian turned 13 years old yesterday!
She is an irreplaceable member of our family. Teddy is always by my side in the house and is the perfect dog. I really can’t express how much I love her and how blessed I feel to have her by my side for all these years. Teddy has unfortunately been diagnosed with Chronic Heart Failure earlier this year and visited the Emergency Animal Hospital and vets multiple times. Thankfully, she’s been doing well these days. I really pray that my family and I can enjoy a few more blissful years with Teddy!

These cupcakes for dogs are super easy to make and are on a much healthier side! I used unsweetened and unsalted ingredients as any excess sugar or salt is not good for my dogs or any other pet. I also didn’t have to worry about any grains or flour for this recipe! Teddy and Sophie really enjoyed these cupcakes and gobbled them up! I had to be careful that Teddy didn’t eat the cupcake liner as she was really trying to get every last piece of her cupcake! For more information about Teddy and Sophie, please click here!

Happy Birthday Teddy!
You are so loved!!!

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Yummy Almond Butter Apple Cupcakes for Dogs!

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IMG_1215 (2)Teddy is all dressed up in her hanbok (Korean traditional clothes) for her birthday!

Capture2Happy Birthday Teddy~

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Teddy already started licking her cupcakes!

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She’s so eager to have one!

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Teddy’s first bite of her cupcake!

CaptureYou can tell she really enjoyed it!

Capture6My favorite photo!! Teddy looks so ecstatic!

photoShe is almost done with her cupcake!

IMG_1232 (2)Another favorite photo! Teddy’s content chubby look! 🙂

 

 

Yield: 4 Cupcakes
Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 TBSP almond butter (unsweetened & unsalted)
  • 1 small pack of unsweetened apple sauce (3.9 oz)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp baking powder

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with racks placed in the middle of the oven.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together until well combined.
  3. Place batter in cupcake liners inside a cupcake tray or spray the cupcake tray with oil until it is ¾ full.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes and let it completely cool.