Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Meet & Mingle || The Birds Nest

Hi there! Welcome to our first "Meet & Mingle"!  I chose the name "Meet & Mingle" because that's exactly what I envisioned happening when I thought of this series.  I want you to meet other bloggers and mingle together...ask questions, visit blogs, pin images, share your favorite posts - get to know each other in a fun way! Each week, I'll be featuring different bloggers and sharing a glimpse of their lives with you.  I've always loved getting to know the blogger behind the blog so here's your chance to do the same. To kick the series off, I thought I'd share a little about myself.  Hope you enjoy the first "Meet + Mingle"!

Your blog name & it’s significance:

Hi, I'm Kaitlyn! I started my blog, The Birds Nest, in 2010 when I was a newlywed. After reading my very first blog ever, Thrifty Decor Chick, I was inspired to start my own blog to share DIY projects, recipes, and newlywed life.  After a brief hiatus, I started blogging again after my daughter was born and it's been a mini-baby book ever since. I really enjoy connecting with other bloggers and it's been a fun road for me so far! 

Tell us a little about your family:

My husband, Rob, and I have been married almost five years (on July 3) and we have a two year old daughter, Olivia Grace.  She's a sweet, caring, compassionate little girl who is the light of our lives and she cracks us up everyday.  We also have a dog, Harper, and cat, Annabelle, who keep us on our toes (and help to make the furniture "cozy").  

Currently in my shower [favorite beauty products]...

I've been using L'Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5 and really love how strong my hair has been.  I also use Matrix Total Results Color Care So Silver Shampoo about once a week, which is great for keeping my blonde highlights bright.  Dove bar soap is a staple and I love using homemade sugar scrubs to exfoliate.  This Coconut Almond Sugar Scrub is one of my favorites! 

I never leave the house without...

Chapstick, my iPhone, sunglasses.  Of course the diaper bag as well if I'm out with my little one, which contains my entire life. 

First thing you do when you have 5 minutes to yourself...

Sit down and relax with a cup of tea (my favorite is Harney & Sons Green Tea with Thai Flavors), browse social media, and catch up on my People.com ;) 

Favorite cupcake...

Ah, cupcakes are my weakness! I love them all! If I had to pick just one, I think it would be chocolate cake with mocha fudge frosting...or chocolate cake with coconut...or...lemon cake with coconut...I admit I have a cupcake problem. 

Top three baby items you'd recommend to new moms:

1. Summer Infant baby monitor 
3. Baby wrap (Technically, I never had one with Olivia - we had an Ergo - but I'm dying to use a Solly wrap with our next)

Currently obsessed with…

OITNB.  I breezed through Season 3 so fast that I think I may need to re-watch it from the beginning of Season 1 because it's so, so good! 

Top three meals you make for your family:

1. Chili
2. Chicken Piccata
3. Pasta with sausage, kale & white beans

One of your favorite blogs:

I love Little Baby Garvin.  It's refreshing to read real life stories, complete with tidbits of not-so-perfect moments during the day, yet so many fun, inspiring ideas! I love her festive ideas, too! 

Share your social media links so we can follow you!

Instagram: @thebirdsnestblog

That's it for my Meet & Mingle post! I hope you enjoyed the first post in my Meet & Mingle series! If you'd like to be featured, please email at: thebirdsnestblogger@gmail.com, I'd love to have you! Please feel free to grab the above button if you are featured! 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Farmer's Market + Wacky Lemon Cake

Today was a beautiful day and my sister and I decided to try a new farmer's market just a quick ride away.  It was huge and I'm so glad we tried it!  I love farmer's markets and I always prefer to buy my fruits and vegetables there instead of at the supermarket when I can. There were so many stands filled to the brim with lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, beets, radishes, fresh bread, pastries, fresh strawberries, honey...just everything you could think of! We loaded up on fresh fruit and veggies and bought some treats to enjoy on the grass along the park area.  We bought warm chocolate chip cookies and homemade strawberry scones to snack on in the car.  And while we spent most of our time chasing after the girls running in two directions, it was still an enjoyable trip.    Bring on summer and fresh everything! 

Have you ever heard of the Pinterest famous wacky cake? If you haven't tried it, it's delicious! I shared on Instagram (@thebirdsnestblog) that I made the lemon version last night. Super easy - no eggs, milk, or butter and it comes out super moist. I've made the chocolate one quite a few times and the lemon one was just as good.  I used this recipe from Pinterest.  Perfect for a quick dessert when you need a little something ;)

[Image via: SweetLittleBluebird

Follow along: Pinterest Instagram Facebook Bloglovin' XO

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Easy & Delicious Tikka Masala [Slow Cooker Recipe]

My sister made Tikka Masala a few months ago and I've been craving it ever since.  [Side note: I always say "Tikki"...whatever;)] This recipe is easy and super yummy! I love using my slow cooker and use it frequently, which is a lifesaver for busy days, so this recipe is great for our family.  I based my recipe off of this recipe, which I found on Pinterest and changed it according to our taste.  Olivia ate almost her entire plate, which also shows it's a keeper! Here's how I made mine...

[Follow along on IG @thebirdsnestblog]


Boneless, skinless thighs (enough for your family)
1 shallot (or small onion)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups of plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp Garam Masala
1 Tbsp Cumin 
1 Tbsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 bay leaf
Salt + Pepper to taste
3/4 can coconut milk
3 Tbsp cornstarch 
Jasmine Rice
Lime Wedges
Parsley or Cilantro

1.  Mix together the onion, garlic, tomatoes, Greek yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, Garam masala, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  Pour mixture into slow cooker.
2.  Dice chicken thighs into bite-sized bites (skip this if you'd prefer shredded chicken)
3.  Add the chicken to slow cooker and coat with sauce mixture.
4.  Add bay leaf and cover.
5.  Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
6.  Add the coconut milk mixed with cornstarch and stir to combine.  Cook another 15 mins or until hot.
7. Serve over coconut rice with fresh lime wedges.  

Coconut Jasmine Rice: I love, love, love coconut rice...so good! I make mine using 1 cup of jasmine rice and 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk.  I always use my rice cooker, but if you prefer the stove top just follow the directions on the bag.  The coconut milk makes it really creamy and it's a nice addition to this meal. 

If you'd like to see how much Olivia enjoyed this, I'll leave you with this ;) 

Enjoy! XO

Follow along on: Facebook  Pinterest  Instagram  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Five Summer Reads You Won't Be Able to Put Down!

[Image via: Pinterest]

Isn't reading peaceful?  Especially as a mama, I can completely appreciate the quiet. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I'm pretty sure I haven't finished a book in approximately two years...as in since the day Olivia was born.  I tend to skim magazines and browse People.com [to keep up with my reality stars;)] but I rarely take the time to sit down and read a good book.  As summer approaches, I'm determined to change that! I love a good thriller but only read it when my hubby is home and I'm also feeling the organization bug so here's my mixed list of can't-put-down-books...hope you enjoy! 

2.  Gone Girl

What are some of your favorite reads? Have you read any of those books?  I'm half way through The Fringe Hours and I'm loving it. If you have recommendations, I'd love for you to share! XO

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Celebrate Dad: Fun Gift Ideas for the Men in Your Life

Father's Day is always a fun day, filled with some quality time, special gifts and of course lots of bacon (if your hubby is like mine.) It's easy to get stuck in a tie rut, so I came up with some fun gift ideas that you may want to give the special men in your life. 

Rob won this tactical diaper bag from the Tactical Baby Gear company and loves it.  He hates lugging around my diaper bag if he takes Olivia out somewhere so this is perfect for the new daddies, or seasoned dads in your life ;) He also loves to grill & loves hot sauce so those are some fun gifts...double points that they're edible.  I love the tees from The Blue Envelope! Olivia has a "2" shirt and it's the softest shirt ever, so this I'm sure will be a hit.  If you haven't heard of Dollar Shave Club, you definitely need to check it out. I actually steal these for myself as well and it's so worth all of the money you save.  This would be a great gift for your brother or brother-in-law as well. What are some of your ideas for Father's Day? Do you have a favorite tradition?  There will definitely be some grilling and hammock swinging on our agenda that day.  Enjoy! XO 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Mystic, CT: Where to Eat, Stay & Play

Hi friends!  We just got back from a mini vacation to Mystic, CT for my hubby's birthday and we had such a great time!  It's about three hours from us and we timed it right so we hit minimal traffic = happy toddler, happy parents.  There are so many fun things to do that I wanted to share a bit with you! 

To Eat: 

We love finding new restaurants to try out and pretty much eat every type of cuisine.  We've found that most of the restaurants there had kids menus and were very family friendly.  A few places that we loved were:

1.  The Pita Spot  - this was our favorite! Olivia ate about three plates of freshly made hummus and their falafel pita wraps were to die for.  We also tried the mozzarella flatbread and Rob had a lamb gyro.  Definitely family friendly and SO good! It kind of looks like a small store front restaurant but they cook right in front of you and it had a fun, Mediterranean vibe.  We will definitely go again when we visit.

2.  Mystic Soup Company - We stumbled upon the Mystic Soup Co. while trying to figure out a quick lunch before heading home and we were so happy we did! We literally drove past it, it's so small and somewhat hidden.  Clearly, it's a local favorite!  There was a huge line and almost every table was filled.  The tables sat along the water and it was such a nice view.  The soup menu changes daily and they only have a few each day - I love that!  I had a sweet greens soup with avocado, cilantro, lime, and white beans.  Rob & Olivia both had broccoli cheddar and they really enjoyed it as well.  We also got two panini and they were huge...definitely enough to share.  Considering that there was a line out the door, I'd say that's a good place.  

3.  Gumdrops & Lollipops Candy Store - This is a really cute, old fashioned candy store.  We got ice cream and a few handmade chocolates as a special treat.  Known for it's old-fashioned seaside charm, they also sell homemade fudge, nostalgic candies, bulk candy and have a diner style menu.  It's definitely a fun little store for kids.  

To Stay:

1.  Mystic Marriot Hotel & Spa - This hotel was absolutely spotless and beautiful.  The rooms were spacious and clean...exactly what I look for first.  It was quiet the entire time, with only very little hallway noise in the morning and the beds were super comfortable.  There is a Starbucks in the lobby, which is always perk;) and a Red Door Spa connected to the hotel. If we were without Olivia, I'd definitely be stopping there. Most of the rooms start at $169, but we were able to use a government discount which cut it down to $96!  Definitely ask if you're that applies to your family - this includes police officers. It was also a very short drive to the aquarium and downtown Mystic.  There are also a handful of hotels very close to the aquarium including, the Hyatt & Hampton Inn. 

To Play: 

1.  Mystic Aquarium - This is always one of our first stops, as Olivia loves fish, whales & everything in between! There are many outdoor habitats where you can see the animals very close - perfect for little ones.  There's also sting ray exhibits, where you can touch them and feed them.  The Beluga whale was one of Olivia's favorites. It swam so close to the glass and she was amazed. 

We arrived in time for the sea lion show, which was so fun for all of us! The trainers and sea lions put on a little show and also give information about the mammals.  It was perfect for her age, not too loud and definitely kept her attention.

There were tons of fish, sharks, and jellyfish to look at inside, along with some fun facts and displays.  The price is slightly high, about $40 per adult, but if you are staying for a few days they are good for three days.  Again, show a government ID and you're able to get in for free and your family goes for half price.  

2.  The Book Barn - This was the coolest place with tons of used books.  There's five locations, with one especially for children's books.  There were so many books everywhere! A huge selection of the children's books were like-new condition and varied from $1-$4.  Olivia was thrilled to spend time there reading and exploring.  They even had a little play area at one location, complete with a goat to feed.  So fun! 

3.  The Children's Museum of Southeastern Connecticut -  This was a cute little place that I would definitely recommend for toddlers or younger children.  It was so nice that she could run around and touch and play with everything! There were little areas with different themes, including a kitchen, fire truck, shadow room, mirrors, and lots of other fun play areas. There were also frogs, lizards, and turtles for her to look at in their tanks.  We happened to go when it was half price admission because they opened later in the day, but normally their admission is $7 per person over the age of 1.  

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our favorite places in Mystic! Do you have any places your recommend to eat, stay, or play there?? I'd love to hear! XO

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