Our Trip to Arizona!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Before we knew I was pregnant, Brian and I planned a trip to Phoenix to celebrate the end of what was sure to be another grueling tax season for him. We bought the tickets two days after we found out, and we truly looked forward to the trip every day following. During ridiculously cold winter days (during which our pipes burst, our furnace stopped working and we froze on train platforms for weeks on end) and the overwhelming emotions that came with finding out our big news, we looked forward to the end of April, when our babe would be more of a babe, and B would be home for more than eight hours a day. And maybe it's because we went into it knowing this might be our last trip as a family of two, but it was as blissful as we had hoped and imagined. We've been home for a week (and it has rained almost every. single. day), and I'm ready for those red rocks and that blistering heat again. 

Typically Airbnb enthusiasts, we opted to stay at a resort this time to make the trip as relaxing as possible. We stayed at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, which is where I stayed with my family four years ago. We'll be back on our Airbnb tour next time we travel, I'm sure, but I always forget just how amazing hotels are. Fresh towels! Pools! Room service! Your bed made! By someone else! Breakfast! Lunch! Dinner! Sure, you pay for all of that, but I get it.

B and I met in Arizona because I was in Seattle for work until the trip, and I was so giddy to see him and get the trip started, I was up with the sun on our first day. I'm sure he wasn't thrilled, but we had the lazy river to ourselves and a quiet, slow breakfast, so no regrets. Also, despite the most exquisite breakfast menu, Brian opted for three types of cereal in one bowl and a sprinkle donut each morning. Sigh. 

My parents recommended we make a reservation at Cafe Monarch for dinner, and I'm so glad we did. We've made it a tradition to treat ourselves to a lavish, fancy meal each trip, and this one topped the charts. We had five slow, beautiful, delicious courses, each better than the next, with service better than we've ever experienced. It was one of the most special nights, and I'd go back in a heartbeat. 

Also, I love that Brian's shirt has numbers on it. It's as if J.Crew designed it specifically for him, ha! 

Brian surprised me with a Mustang convertible at the airport, which wasn't entirely (or mostly or at all) for me, but it made the trip so fun. It was almost 100 degrees all three days, so it was very welcomed, sunburn and all. 

We spent our second day hiking around Sedona (Fay Canyon, Soldier Pass and Little Horse), and while we did all moderate or easy hikes (I've always been a scaredy cat when it comes to heights and hiking downhill, but now even more so), we were both wiped by the end of the day. We also went to Montezuma Castle on our way, essentially a 20-room high-rise apartment nestled into a towering limestone cliff from years 1100-1425, which was so wild to see. 

There's no better meal than a post-hike meal, and Tortas de Fuego did not disappoint. At all. I'm not sure we said two words together as inhaled our meals. We decided to hike again after, and by the end of the day, we were absolutely exhausted. We wanted to stop for burgers on the way home but didn't even have the energy for a drive-thru :)

On our last day we walked around Papago Park and Old Town Scottsdale, scheming how to keep the Mustang and make vacation last forever. I know our lives are only going to get better, and we'll look back on these days feeling as though something was missing, but these days have been and are so special to me. I've loved this stage of our lives so much. The past nine years have been the best of my life, and there's no one I'd rather take the next step with. I'm so excited for the next step, but this space has also been oh so good to me <3 

Bits and Pieces

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Hello from (finally!!!) sunny Chicago! It's a Sunday evening, and I wish I could sit in this space for as long as possible. Half Sunday scaries, intimidated about the week ahead, other part also Sunday scaries, just not wanting this relaxing weekend to end. Last week (a short week as we were on vacation in Arizona still on Monday, mind you) was rough. Chasing a long list of work deadlines that crept up on me, with a number of other commitments I couldn't move around, I was running on empty. On Wednesday night I broke down to poor Brian. It's likely hormones, but looking through our calendar for every week for the near future, I was overwhelmed with everything going on and everything we have to figure out before our babe arrives. But, as he always reminds me, it's all good things — seeing people we love, prepping for our biggest undertaking together yet, going to jobs we enjoy — and for that I am very grateful.

This weekend was a great reset. We spent as much time outdoors as we could, I went to brunch with friends here and here,  Brian made the most amazing homemade everything bagels, I went on a long bike ride along the lake and couldn't have been happier to be pedaling by the water with the breeze in my hair, I made chicken curry, Brian came home this afternoon with the most delicious rose, cardamom, dark chocolate latte for me from here (best latte I've ever, ever had), BRIAN FELT THE BABY KICK FOR THE FIRST TIME (I buried the lede! How did I just remember this?!)! There was organizing, cleaning, laundry. We're ready for Monday, I suppose, but that doesn't mean I'm chipper about it.

Lots of photos from life lately below. Highlights: running an 8K in my best time yet (with our little Moosh inside me!), my dad's 60th birthday festivities, which included a very serious Boston cream donut taste test, a baby shower, a girl's weekend, date nights and lots of sweet friends <3

A Happy List!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

What's making me happy as of late? This, this and this again — a million times over! It's with such great excitement that I announce that Brian and I are expecting our first child! We're still in shock and take turns calming each other down (Brian's had scary dreams about car seats, I already don't want it to leave me and go to college...), but we're also over the moon. I'm 19 weeks along (almost halfway there!), and my belly is slowly but surely expanding. Our babe is growing fast and furiously and is now the size of a mango:) We can't wait to welcome this little person into the world and give him or her lots of hugs, smooches and tummy rubs. xoxo

Beautiful Stationary From Basic Invite

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

I'm a big etiquette nerd and love all things politesse (like, making eye contract while toasting and tilting your spoon away), so it's not surprising that I have a drawer full of evergreen stationary that I use liberally. When someone does something for you, hosts you, thinks of you, I think it's such a nice gesture to write a handwritten note in return thank you, your kindness was very much appreciated. But I also might send cards too often. I have a family friend who I started sending a birthday card to a few years ago. He told my parents it brightened his spirits, so I started sending a Christmas one, an Iranian New Year one and one for his wife's birthday, too. Thinking I'm an avid card enthusiast (which I am!), he now sends me cards for every holiday — Thanksgiving, St. Patrick's Day, Easter... nothing goes unaddressed. It's funny, but it's also so sweet <3 

I'm always on the hunt for personalized stationary, and I love some new pieces I ordered from Basic Invite. There are hundreds of options for everything (evergreen, holidays, special occasions), and they're all easily customizable. I ordered my stationary sets on my phone on the train on my way to work. It was super easy (with the exception of narrowing down my five favorites).

There are 180 different color options for everything (and foil, my favorite!), so you can make everything exactly how you want it, and 40 different colored envelopes. You can also ask for custom samples to be sent before printing your order, and there's an addressing capturing service that allows you to request your friends and family's addresses by connecting your Basic Invite account with any social media channel. I hadn't heard of Basic Invite when we were getting married or when I was graduating, but I wish I had (look at these chic graduation invitations!). 

Like custom framing, I've made the mistake of custom invitations in the past, and it's a costly mistake. If you're looking for cute, affordable, personal invitations, stationary or cards, I can't recommend Basic Invite enough. Even if you're not sure what you want or need, the site's inspiration gallery is the perfect place to start.

P.S. Basic Invite is offering readers 15% off with code 15FF51.

(This post was sponsored by Basic Invite. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Make the Most.)

Our New Water Bottles!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

As someone who can't stand clutter and is constantly embracing the magic of tidying up, it's surprising that if you open up the cupboard above our fridge, you'll be welcomed with a collection of water bottles and portable coffee cups as far as your eyes can see. An assortment that has withstood every monthly donation drop off, a selection apparently so near and dear that I get frustrated when Brian leaves one at work too long (but girl, you have 20 more!). They come in all shapes, colors and sizes (truly, 8-64 ounces and everything in between, I've got you). But, alas, the bottle to supersede all bottles arrived in the mail a few weeks ago.

B and I were gifted Infuze water bottles, and we've been thoroughly impressed so far (and, I'm telling you, we know our bottles). The water stays cold all day, and the bottle has a vessel that can hold liquid flavoring (which, Infuze offers, too). The bottle mixes the flavor with your water as you drink, and the backflow preventer stops the flavor from entering your bottle. You can turn the dial to adjust the flavor intensity. I really like the lemon-lime flavor, it tastes like candy (zero-calorie, electrolyte candy).

We're going hiking in Arizona later this month, and I'm excited to take them with us. While we have a lot of bottles, most have been too heavy or too small to pack, so we've always stocked up with plastic bottles at a nearby gas station before starting our adventure. These are large but light (Brian's holds 32 ounces!), so they'll be perfect.

(This post was sponsored by Infuze Hydration. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Make the Most.)

My Parents

Friday, April 5, 2019

On Wednesday evening, for no reason at all (nothing was wrong!), my parents drove through rush hour traffic to bring me homemade Iranian food for dinner (including multiple varieties of enough food to feed us for weeks…). I was going to spend the night eating pasta and watching reality TV on the couch, and this generosity (which came a day after I got a random package from them in the mail with a dress they knew I'd like…) boggles me. No one on this planet deserves them, I will forever aspire to be them. 

Secretly, it has been a hard week (maybe parents just always know?), and I am so grateful for this love.

San Antonio, Texas!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

During Christmastime, when my parents' Christmas tree was filled with boxes of all shapes and sizes underneath, there were two peculiar ones that had my and my sisters' attention. She was relentless and wanted to know who they were for and what they were so badly, it became an ongoing joke. Lucky for us, they were for us, and even luckier, they were clues that we were going on a girls weekend getaway trip with my mom. So, a few weekends ago we spent three days in San Antonio, Texas, soaking in great weather, amazing food and lots of laughter. We've decided to make it an International Women's Day tradition (and have our eyes on Mexico City next), and I'm so into that idea.

We flew out on Thursday afternoon, returned late Sunday night, and stayed at the San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk, which was the perfect location — central to all things touristy but just a mile away or short cab ride to some more local restaurants and attractions. B actually surprised us and had breakfast delivered to our room on Friday, which I wish I had gotten a picture of. It was the sweetest gesture. We spent our days walking around, stopping for frozen drinks and chips and salsa before walking lots again. 

My mom chose San Antonio because she had been with my dad nearly 20 years ago and really enjoyed it (and, after the winter we've had in Chicago, we were begging for that kind of heat), and my sister and I were pleasantly surprised. We had amazing dinners at Ocho and Acenar and would go back for the pastries at La Panaderia in a heartbeat
— wow, wow, wow. While we (regrettably) split the Nutella cruffin on our first day and didn't get it again, we all decided it was the best thing we ate all weekend. So, so good. 

We had a hilarious adventure getting churros at Churroholic on our first night, and the next morning we had the best breakfast tacos at Pete's Tako House, where the wait was long unless you were willing to sit in the blistering heat outside (again, Chicago winter, sign us up). On our last day we had brunch at Guenther House, and I'm so glad we did because we wouldn't have seen that historic district otherwise. We walked around admiring all the old homes and history, it felt a lot like New Orleans. 

We hit up a few big tourist spots, like walking along the River Walk a few times, visiting The Alamo and walking around the Japanese Tea Garden, which was our favorite. We sat at the Garden's cafe for hours, just soaking up the sun.

We also ran into the perfect mural for the weekend — love this image of diverse women. 

I'm a sucker for any sort of tradition and love traveling, so I do hope we make this weekend a regular thing. It was so nice to take some time to unwind with the ladies I love the most <3