Four Years! {Sedona + Flagstaff Getaway}

by Jenn (eating bender) on October 16, 2014

Today marks four years of married life with my best friend – hurray!


This year, Bobby and I decided to combine an anniversary and babymoon trip into one fall weekend getaway. After our adventures in Sedona toward the end of the season last year, we thought it would be fun to head north even earlier in hopes of catching a glimpse of the leaves as they’re just beginning to change.

Well, turns out we were a few weeks too early in Sedona, but we got our wish in Flagstaff, and the overall beauty of both locations made for a refreshing and relaxing weekend, just the two of us (and, of course, our little navel orange … who is now the size of an onion!).

We hopped in the car on Friday after work, arriving at the Inn On Oak Creek a little before 8:00. I am pretty sure this place has nothing but positive reviews, and after staying there, we can see why. More on that in a second.




(Note: The above pictures were taken the next morning!)

We picked up our keys and got back in the car in order to make our dinner reservation at Javelina Cantina, which turned out to be just down the street. For a little backstory, Bobby and I took our first road trip to the Grand Canyon way back in September 2007 (before I started ye olde blog). On our way home, we drove through Sedona and stopped at a Mexican restaurant, where Bobby ordered his first beer (a Corona), having just turned 21. The food was amazing, but we neglected to remember the name of said restaurant and have been searching for it ever since!

All we have to go on is a picture that was taken of us with the restaurant view of Sedona’s red rocks in the background. We still aren’t sure whether Javelina Cantina was the place because as soon as we got there, we realized that it being dark outside made it kind of hard to see that same view … haha. So the mystery restaurant is still a mystery, but in the meantime we enjoyed some delicious Mexican fare.

We started out with chips and salsa, then added some guacamole to the mix.



Bobby ordered a margarita for the occasion. :)


For dinner, we shared the chicken fajitas, which were perfectly seasoned and came with a plethora of veggies and side options. It was a super delicious way to kick off the weekend.



Once our bellies were stuffed, we made our way back to the inn. The downstairs area where they serve breakfast was cute and cozy.


They were packed with guests for the weekend, so we were given two different king rooms on Friday and Saturday night (there are 13 rooms total). Although our rooms did not have the much sought after creekside balconies, they were clean, comfortable and beautifully renovated. The inn used to be a bed and breakfast and still has that vibe even though it has been converted into a hotel. (By the way, they didn’t ask me to say any of this – we just really enjoyed our stay.)



We had mentioned to the manager, Katie, that we were celebrating our anniversary, and were delighted to find a bottle of wine and a nice note when we entered the room. Katie apologized that they didn’t have a non-alcoholic option, but it didn’t matter – the gesture was still very sweet!


The inn continued to amaze us the next morning when we came downstairs for breakfast. They offer continental options such as orange juice, coffee, bagels, and muffins – perfect fuel for a day of hiking. But what really wowed us was the view from their main floor balcony.


Now we know why those creekside balcony rooms are popular! It was incredibly peaceful to sit outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of Sedona while eating. The temperature was also pretty perfect, which didn’t hurt.


After breakfast, we winded our way along the main road in search of none other than the West Fork Trail! This past spring and summer was a rough one for the Oak Creek Canyon area, as the Slide Fire burned more than 21,000 acres. Trails and parks have been closed ever since, but we were fortunate enough to arrive the same week that the West Fork Trail was reopened.

It was just as gorgeous as we remembered – albeit a lot greener this time around.


Although the leaves hadn’t really changed yet, we enjoyed walking along the familiar trail and stepping from stone to stone across the creek. We didn’t venture too far in, but it was a cool and shady walk that got the day started off right.




On the way back into town, we made a pit stop to see if our Sedona vortex was still hanging around near the small waterfall. And it was! These mini whirlpools are so cool to look at.



We made our way into the heart of town for a quick stop at one of my favorite stores: Earthbound Trading Company. Annnnnnd we ended up finding something that sealed the deal for how we’re going to decorate Baby Bender’s nursery! I’m excited to share more once everything comes together.

Next up: lunch at PJ’s Pub & Grille, where we hoped to catch the Northwestern game!


I decided to eat exactly what I was craving: a cup of chili and a basket of chicken tenders. :) Luckily, the NU vs. Wisconsin game was on, and we were thrilled to see our Cats come away with a victory!



The rest of the afternoon was spent hiking the Broken Arrow trail, which we found for the first time back in March. What can I say? We’re creatures of habit. But how could you not be when you have this view while walking?



Once our shoes were sufficiently coated in red dust, we made our way back to the hotel, checked into our new room and got ready for dinner at Cucina Rustica.


This was a great choice (thanks, TripAdvisor!) if I do say so myself. They knew it was our anniversary and as a result, the host spread fresh rose petals across our table. Our server started by bringing us a warm bread and olive oil basket.


We decided to start with the Caprese salad, made fresh with whole milk mozzarella, vine ripe organic campari tomatoes, organic basil and organic extra virgin olive oil.


For my entrée I chose Chef Lisa’s Luscious Lasagna, a classic lasagna layered with homemade bolognese sauce, Italian sausage, ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. So good!


For our anniversary dessert, the waitress brought a complimentary cake. I don’t remember exactly what it was called but it was sweet and spongy with raspberry sauce, whipped cream and chocolate shavings. The perfect end to a tasty meal.


The next morning, we packed up and drove a bit farther north to see the Oak Creek Canyon Vista.


This particular spot also has sentimental value. We snapped a picture here seven years ago and managed to recreate it again in 2014! Mother Nature hasn’t changed much, and I still apparently wear two hair elastics spread out on my wrist, haha. But the biggest difference is the third addition in the second picture. :)


We continued north to Flagstaff, where I hoped we could catch some early signs of fall. I’d seen pictures of Lockett Meadow in Arizona Highways magazine and thought it would be a great idea. Well, turns out, it might have been a better idea if we owned a truck. My failure to read the directions closely led to our definitely-not-an-SUV making a three-mile climb up a mountain just to reach the clearing. (To be fair, you’d think a meadow would be at the base of the mountains, right? Right.) It was a lot like accidentally driving on the Appian Way, except 20 times longer and scarier.

Thankfully, our car made it up in one piece, and we were rewarded with this stunning view of the San Francisco Peaks. Totally worth it, I exclaimed. Yeah I suppose so, Bobby (the driver) said. :)


Although I don’t think we’d attempt the drive again in our car, we were able to relax among the yellow aspen trees. The air was crisp and everything smelled amazing. We left feeling peaceful and ready to rock the drive back down.



To cap off a wonderful weekend of adventures, many of which were revisited favorites, we made our way to Diablo Burger in downtown Flagstaff for lunch, a burger joint we fell in love with nearly three years ago. I started out with a beer – Sioux City root beer, that is.


And I went with the build-your-own burger, topping it with caramelized onions, pepper jack cheese and Diablo’s secret sauce. It really hit the spot and served as the perfect send off.


In many ways, our wedding seems like it was just yesterday. Then I think about all of the incredible things that have happened these past four years, and I realize that it’s been a jam-packed journey so far! I have a feeling year five is going to be the most exciting one yet.

Happy anniversary, Bobby! I love you!




Baby Bender: 15 Weeks

by Jenn (eating bender) on October 1, 2014

15 weeks

I’m excited to share what I’ve been doing to track Baby Bender’s week-by-week progress! I got the idea from combining this post and this post on Pinterest and thought it would be a lot of fun, not just for me and Bobby but also for the little one to be able to look at someday.

I get weekly updates comparing the baby’s size to a food through the pregnancy apps I have downloaded (What to Expect, BabyCenter and The Bump, to name a few – I’m kind of obsessed), and although my chalk drawing skills are far from perfect – can’t seem to get the spacing down or the “k” and “s” to look right on “weeks,” haha – it has been something I look forward to at the start of every new week of pregnancy. Plus, coming up with props has been pretty cool, too.

Week 4-14 Collage-blog2

So here’s an update on where we’re at!

How far along: 15 weeks, 2 days.

Baby is the size of: A navel orange! He or she is four inches long and weighs 2.5 ounces.

Feeling: Pretty darn great. About a week and a half ago was when I finally noticed I hadn’t felt nauseous for several days. Hurray! Apart from still getting tired early and wanting the occasional daytime nap, my energy levels have been back to normal.

Total weight gained: Five pounds. So happy about this one, since the nausea of the first trimester combined with (let’s be honest) the fact that I was no longer imbibing in my fair share of wine and beer each week was actually making it difficult to gain. I’ve made up for it these past three weeks!

Exercising: I’ve been able to keep up with at least one run each week. Typically they’re about three miles long and nowhere near my pre-pregnancy pace, but it feels really good to be able to continue an exercise I enjoy, at least for now – especially as it starts to cool down here and I can finally run outside again! Other than that, I do a lot of walking, elliptical-ing and lifting light weights. I am hoping to start pre-natal yoga soon, too.

Sleep: So far, so good! Sometimes I wake up once or twice, sometimes I can sleep through the whole night. I’m making the most of it while I still can and aiming to get at least eight hours.

Showing: Yes! I’ve felt like I’ve been bumpin’ since week 12 but now other people can see it noticeably, too. I am pretty sure watching the bump grow is going to be one of my favorite parts of pregnancy. It’s just so cool to think, “I’m growing a tiny human in there!”

Cravings: Nothing too outrageous. Still loving carbs but I’ve been able to work certain veggies back into the rotation by sticking them into soups, pastas, etc. I’ve also been on a plain yogurt kick, which I didn’t really eat much of prior to being pregnant. I love topping it with granola and a big spoonful of peanut butter. And I eat at least one apple a day, often pairing it with gouda cheese. Yum!

Aversions: I am not a huge fan of seafood or red meat right now. It’s funny that I’ve always heard about pregnant women hating the sight of chicken, but for me it has been the opposite. I love it!

Missing: Pumpkin beer! But I think it’s only because of fall. The smell of alcohol still doesn’t really appeal to me, which has actually been GREAT. :) Beyond that, I just miss soft cheese.

Maternity clothes: I’m not wearing any just yet but I recently took advantage of a 40% off everything sale at LOFT to get some maternity jeans and fall/winter sweaters.

Movement: I’ve been feeling a lot of butterfly flutters and bubbles (not to be confused with digestion, haha), both of which I’ve read can be some early signs of movement. I’m excited that I’ll hopefully be able to feel my first real kick in a few weeks.

Looking forward to: Our next doctor appointment in two weeks. We had the chance to hear the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler last time and I’ve proceeded to listen to my recording of it over and over ever since. I’m looking forward to hearing it again and while we’re there, scheduling our next ultrasound where we hope to find out…

Boy or girl: …the gender! The closer we get to the 18-week mark, the more sure I am that finding out is the right move for us. I’m excited to reveal it to friends and family, though we are going to keep the name a secret so that there is still a final surprise to look forward to.

Best moment of this week: Having my first vivid dream about the baby. I’ve been having wild and wacky ones lately, but a couple of nights ago was the first time our baby was there, too! I’m keeping it to myself as to whether it was a he or she. Only time will tell!


I’ll be interested to see how these answers evolve and change over the next 25 weeks.

(Ah! I can’t believe there are just 25 weeks to go!)




Top 10 Books On My Fall To-Read List

September 23, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! I am ridiculously excited to participate in my first “Top Ten Tuesday.” It probably comes as no surprise that I am a voracious reader of book blogs, and I’ve been wanting to join in on the fun for quite some time (learn more about the weekly meme here). […]

Read the rest →

Feeling Peachy: Baby Bender Details

September 15, 2014

Thank you all so much for the kind words on our big (little) announcement. Being able to share the news has made us feel all the more excited and extremely grateful for the amazing family and friends we are blessed to have in our lives. I feel like there is now so much I want to say! […]

Read the rest →

Hey, Hey Baby

September 9, 2014

“Hey what? Go Wildcats!” We interrupt this period of relative radio silence on the blog to bring you…the reason for said radio silence on the blog! Yep, it’s a good one. I’ve been baking cinnamon buns! Okay, not really.  I did make cinnamon buns a few weeks ago, but this particular bun has been baking for a […]

Read the rest →

The Move From Print to Film: How “Outlander” Stacks Up So Far

August 29, 2014

Source I am so excited to share a guest post with you today on a topic that I am very passionate about at the moment: the Outlander television series! I was initially immersed in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels more than two years ago, and although I still have a few books in the queue before I’m all caught up, Claire Randall’s amazing […]

Read the rest →

A Sizzlin’ Weekend

August 28, 2014

Somehow I blinked and it was almost Labor Day weekend. The inevitable end of summer is upon us, and while it has been a little crazy seeing fall decorations (and Halloween candy?!) on display already, I have to admit that I’m more than ready for my favorite season to arrive. Cooler temperatures (well, sort of), warm drinks […]

Read the rest →

Ireland, Day Five: Moll’s Gap, Ladies View, Jameson Distillery and Kinsale

August 9, 2014

Previous recaps: Day One – Bunratty and Doonbeg Day Two – Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and Lahinch Day Three – Slea Head Drive, Beehive Huts, Dingle Peninsula and Killarney Day Four – Tralee and Killarney National Park Our fifth day in Ireland was a scenic road trip that included a partial tour of the Ring of Kerry and stops in […]

Read the rest →