Kansas City Coffee

Author: Ruthie Pollard


Last month I had the best time in Kansas City, otherwise known as the “Paris of the Plains.” It was my first time in Missouri, the destination was a Christian conference by IHOP (International House of Prayer…not pancakes). I stayed with my friend Michelle and her hospitable family in Kansas.

What does one do in the midwest? Surprisingly, the coffee scene is pretty big here. I complied a list of recommendations from people who have lived in the area and we set off on a coffee crawl hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop. If you find yourself in Kansas City for some reason check these out! Although, I might just be writing this post for myself haha.

Quay Coffee:

The baristas’ at Quay are some of the friendliest I’ve met. When going to a new place I try to keep an eye out something unique on the menu. The guy before me ordered an amazing looking coffee, the “Gibraltar”. I went with that, it was a a double-shot of expresso and a bit of milk. Also, an aesthetic dream.

Second Best:

I ironically put this in second…hah. I ordered a delicious honey lavender latte which was the best I’ve ever had! Outside the window it started snowing huge chunks of snow, the perfect cafe backdrop.

Oddly Correct:

This was the ultimate hipster location. There is funky art on the brick walls and beanies worn by all who enter. Even a dog came into chill while his owner flipped through a novel. I can never resist a good slowly prepared pour over and it seemed like the perfect place for it. The pour over came in a science beaker, as one would expect from a coffee shop so odd and yet so…correct.

Messenger Coffee Co:

At this point in the coffee crawl we had our fair share of caffeine. I was tempted to get a tea but alas, coffee was what I set out for. The shop has two floors and plenty of light. Upstairs is a roastery where you can watch the team prepare the beans. I asked what they had on drip and was given a long and passionate description of the origin of the beans and the subtle blueberry notes. The notes did not disappoint.

If you’re in a city for a short amount of time this might be the best way to experience all the coffee.



Big Sky Country

Author: Ruthie Pollard


“The Last Best Place” this is how author William Kittredge described Montana. And I could see why after experiencing it’s natural beauty and wide open sky. 

My college crew Justine, Jess, and Cheryl or “The Four” as a we call ourselves decided to have our annual reunion in Helena, Montana. It was an adventure of a lifetime! My friend Justine and her husband Josh had recently moved to Montana, welcoming a baby boy last year. We were excited to meet the newest little member of the family. 

Living in Montana, Justine knew all the best places to eat, explore and hike. Jess and I started off the adventure by fulfilling the dream of horse back riding through the mountains! We had a delightful time at Summer Star Ranch.


We had originally intended to go to Glacier National Park for the weekend. However, wildfires that started a few weeks prior were threatening the trip and thick smoke blanketed much of Montana. I noticed on the map that we were just as close to Yellowstone National Park if we went south. So we switched gears and headed to Wyoming! 

On our way to Yellowstone we stopped at Helena’s finest boutique, Poppyseed to get some cute apparel. Naturally, we got matching bison shirts. 


Some must see spots in Yellowstone: 

The Midway Geyser Basin: This stop is home to stunning pools such as the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring and mesmerizing Excelsior Geyser. 


Old Faithful Geyser:  You can’t go to Yellowstone without seeing this natural wonder go off.


Hayden Valley: This is where the wild buffalo roam the open plain but beware, may get caught in an ammusing wildlife traffic jam. 


Grand Canyon of Yellowstone: The view over this canyon is so magnificent it doesn’t even look real. There are also hiking spots off the main view (just watch out for the bears).  

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We had a short visit to Yellowstone but it’s easy to get around the park so we got to see everything we wanted to! 

Back in Montana Justine’s Dad took us out on a boat ride through the Gates of the Mountain. They call it the Gates of the Mountain because when Lewis and Clark set off on their expedition down the Missouri River they thought the river had come to an end. But as they got closer to the mountain it appeared to be opening like a gate. This illusion is quite a sight to behold. 

I can honestly say that as I sat in the front of that speed boat, I have never felt so at peace. Feeling the sun, and taking in the view with my closest friends made my heart so full.


For our last night out we channeled our inner Ron Swanson and had a delicious steak dinner at the Silver Star.


We ended our trip with a hike up Mount Helena, a moderate 5,000 footer with sweeping views of the city. We were especially proud of Cheryl who climbed one of her first mountains! After the hike we went off to the airport, and said goodbye until next time… taking with us the priceless memories of a lifelong friendship.

Next time I look forward to exploring Glacier National Park and the Grand Tetons! What are your favorite spots in the Northwest?



A Week in Paris

Author: Ruthie Pollard 


If I could think of a motto for this vacation it would be, “Did my dreams just come true?!” In Paris every day brought a new surprise, and around every corner was beautiful place to discover. We happened to go during a heat wave in April so it was sunny skys and warm weather the whole week through. I did my dream trip and it was worth it. I was given a lot opinions about Paris but I looked forward to forming my own.  I went with my friend Moria who has been to Paris twice before and knows her way around the city.

In this post I will lay out the itinerary of my week. We did some planning in advance but while traveling you always need to leave a little room for adventure. 

Day 1: Arrival

The hour ride from airport Charles de Galulle to the hotel was not far off from a typical traffic commute on the Mass Pike. It certainly did not feel like Paris until we reached the old streets in the city. The taxi ride was our first glimpse at the Eiffel tower as we crossed the Siene River. Our small hotel Val Girard was located in the 15th Arrondismont a residential part of Paris. Staying in a non-touristy area was a great decision, throughout the week we enjoyed visiting our local creprie and restaurants away from the buzz of the city center.


Day 2: Musee d' Orsay and the Arch of Triumph

 Our first full day in Paris we hit the ground running. It was highly recommended by friends that we get the Paris Pass, a card that offers fast track access to museums, sites, and unlimited metro rides. We bought a three day pass which meant we really had to pack the days in order to make it worth our while. Our first stop was the Musee d' Orsay,  which some would argue is best museum in Paris. This former railway station is home to the works of great French artists Van Gogh, Degas, and Renoir. After a morning of exploring the museum we walked to the ferris wheel and started our journey down the Champs-Elysees (aka a long street lined with shopping and food). After a full day of walking I could not resist stepping into Laduree for some coffee and macaroons. We ended the day with a walk up the Arch of Triumph for the best views of Paris.


Day 3:  Louve, Musee de Orangerie, Notre Dame, Shakespeare and Company

One must always visit the Louve when coming to Paris. Although, after experiencing it once you might be all set. The biggest museum in the world also happens to draw the biggest crowds in the world. I was looking forward to seeing the Mona Lisa (along with everyone else and their mother). I couldn't believe how packed the room was just to snap a shot of the beloved painting. Things got slightly intense after some pushy tourists tried to make their way to the front. After getting my fill of the worlds most famous artwork and sculptures we headed to Musee Orangerie. This peaceful and small museum felt like a welcome retreat from the crowds. It was lovely to see the impressionist works of Picasso, Matisse, and most importantly Monet’s Panoranic Water Lilies Painting. 

For dinner we headed over the the Notre Dame area. When people ask me my favorite part of the trip I think of Square Jean -XXIII a garden to the right of Notre Dame. When we rounded the corner I saw a sea of cherry blossoms beside the cathedral. It was the most magical moment thus far as golden hour had just touched the city. I walked over the bridge and and headed to Shakespeare and Company one of the oldest and most iconic bookshops. For dinner I tried escargot for the first time at Le Parvis, it was surprisingly delicious! 


Day 4: Palace of Versailles, River Cruise on the Seine

When we arrived at Versailles the ticket desk informed us that the palace was closed due to strike. Which can apparently happen at any time. Despite this disappointment the palace gardens were open, and it ended up taking a full day to walk around. Next time I visit I will definitely rent a bicycle for the day as the grounds are extensive. Marie Antionette’s estate in the garden “The Petit Trianon” was open for exploring and free with the Paris Pass. Walking in sunlight for hours during a heat wave can bring on quite the appetite and we were overjoyed to discover the cutest cafe called Angelina’s.

We heading back to Paris and arrived just in time for a Siene River cruise at sunset. The river boat guide explained the history of each bridge we passed under. As we traveling up the Seine it was beautiful to see the famous landmarks in evening light.  The cruise ended perfectly under the Eiffel Tower just as it twinkled for the first time that night!


Day 5: Eiffel Tower

“Eiffel Tower Day” was spent doing all things Eiffel. It was the perfect day to go to the top of the tower as the skys were clear and the crowds were low at mid-morning. After taking in the grand view of the city we joined the masses on the green space “Champ de Mars” in front of the tower. The path along the grass was lined with happy picnickers and blooming lilacs. For the best pictures of the we walked to Jardin du Trocadero and took pictures with the Eiffel on the stairs. At this spot you get a full view with the tower from a distance. 

On our way to the tower we passed several quntiesstial parisain cafes. The kind where locals casually people watch while sipping their coffee. Cafe Gustave was the perfect spot to stop for a refreshing meal in the warm sun. After a relaxing day we decided to forgo public transportation and walked 45 minutes back to the hotel. We topped off the night with a nutella crepe from our neighborhood creperie!


Day 6: Disneyland

We started the morning bright and early for the trip to Disneyland Paris! The local florist on the street greeted us with a bonjour as he tended to the flowers. I felt like I had my own Disney moment starting off the morning greeting the neighbors like Belle.

To get to the park we had to take the Metro and connect to a train (RER) that went an hour outside of the city. To paint the picture accurately I must say that my experience on train ride and the general surrounding of Disneyland Paris was very unpleasant. We ran into some shady characters in the Metro that made our entrance into the Disney park feel like more of an escape then arriving at the happiest place on earth. The stark contrast between the safe bubble of Disney and the outside world was a bit unsettling. I felt overall “safe” in Paris but the Metro is a different story. If you are a young girl traveling always be on your guard in and around this city. The Metro system is at the beginning stages of tackling it’s wide spread problem of harassment. 

However, I was not going to let that experience ruin one of my most looked forward to moments in the trip. After we got past the morning it was delightful to discover that Paris Disney holds the same magical joys of childhood and the rides I know and love. It is much smaller then the other locations but with a sweet french charm. I was most excited to walk up into the castle which is an opportunity not experienced by park goers in Florida. One of the highlights was going on my favorite ride “Space Mountain” which  transformed into to “Hyperspace Mountain” with a Star Wars theme.


Day 7: Montmatre and the Palais Royal

We had planned from the beginning to go to Montmarte on our last full day. Out of all the places we traveled these streets felt most authentically French. The wysteria cascaded over buildings like purple waterfalls and musicians serenaded passers by with the lulling melody of a harp. The Sacre Cour church peeked out from all angles of the surround streets and walking the steps up to the church felt like a scene from the movie “Midnight in Paris”.  

In Montmartre we met up with Rachel, an American traveling Europe. We had lunch at La Maison Rose, this blush pink cafe was even more beautiful then the pictures. It was like walking into a fairytale! After lunch we strolled the streets and scouted out the best baguette in Montmartre at Le Grenier a’ Pain. Palais Royal was next on our agenda, we hopped on the Metro and headed to Buren's Columns. This highly instagramable spot was on my bucket list for pictures. Rachel happens to be a talented photographer and we did a fun artistic photo sesh by the columns. Following along with her adventures @thegirlandtheidea

Then it was on to Berthillion known for the best ice cream in Paris. On our walk to ice cream I couldn’t help but notice all old men painting and sketching along the Seine River. When I was a child this was exactly how I pictured Paris from all the picture books and movies. For dinner we had the best Ratatouille!


My trip to Paris was an unforgettable dream. Let me know if you recommend any great spots next time I visit! 




Motherhood: A Journey

Author: Becky Sizelove

Mother's Day
"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." - Rajneesh

As I enter Target and get myself a coffee and my first substantial meal of the day, inspiration hits me. I realize I have truly entered a different realm of being as a Mom. Suddenly, I notice every fellow Mom or Dad around me and we give each other a reassuring nod. I think to myself, “wow there’s so many new babies around right now,” as though there wasn’t already a million parents in Target that I didn’t notice before I had my baby. It’s like when you get a red car and suddenly every car on the road is red. In my early twenties I was known to say that I was afraid of babies and when someone announced they were pregnant, I’d click “unfollow” so I didn’t have to see every update about what their kid had for breakfast (totally love those posts now). Once I was married I sometimes joked that I’d just get twenty dogs and travel the world, rather than have children. I then decided I wanted kids but just wasn’t ready yet. I felt too selfish still. And suddenly one day I woke up and felt like my life wouldn’t be complete without becoming a mom, and a mom I became.

mamma bird and baby bird

While pregnant I kept trying to imagine what it would be like to give birth and have an infant - plenty of people told me what it would be like but their words never could have explained it. Being a parent can’t be described, you don’t know until you’re in it. Each woman has their own unique birth story and I think that's so beautiful - our babies enter the world in different ways and we raise them in different ways. Sure, we all have similarities but each family has their own unique dynamic. The moment Sawyer was born I burst into the most joyful sob, the emotions and love I felt instantly were so overwhelming. It was like an outer body experience and I felt forever changed by it. I was reborn. Fast forward to day six, where my hair was in the biggest messy bun at the top of my head, I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself - I hadn’t slept more than an hour each night. I’d been up trying to figure out how to nurse and hoping I was doing everything right for my son. I Googled every sound and activity to see if I was doing the right thing. I worried if I didn’t run fast enough to his bassinet when he started to cry for nourishment or comfort that he'd be irrevocably damaged. I tried to describe how I felt about him to my husband, “I feel like we’re tethered together.” It was as though the umbilical cord was still connecting us. We went through a bout of digestive issues for a couple weeks and Sawyer would cry and I wondered if he had colic, I wondered if I’d ever sleep again. But then he started to sleep more, I became more confident as a Mom, I started to learn the ins and outs of my baby and suddenly I went from feeling like I wasn’t good enough to feeling like I was living my life’s purpose. I felt Sawyer was making me the best possible version of myself.

mother and son at coffee shop

With Sawyer by my side, I feel the most joy I’ve ever experienced. Suddenly that “selfishness” I had before vanished. Sawyers every need comes before mine and it brings me so much happiness. The exquisite feeling of comforting him by picking him up or making his face light up just by looking at him is all I ever need in life. From day one, I felt so much love for Sawyer but it wasn’t until around six weeks that I felt love for myself as well. Becoming a mother both breaks you and builds you up - it has to be that way because you’re no longer the same you, now you’re Mom. It's such a beautifully transformative experience. We run in survivor mode and we raise our babies on instinct, somehow we don’t know what we’re doing but we follow our hearts and intuition and it works. We tap into a space in our brains that never before existed.

maxi cosi stroller

It’s like I entered a different world or dimension when I became a mom, a whole new state of being with a different brain. A brain that could withstand lack of sleep, a brain that could use logic and reasoning to calm my baby, thinking of the most random solutions that magically worked. A brain that could push all my needs down and put my baby’s needs first, being completely selfless. And suddenly these kind sweet women were reaching out to me to offer support - the fellow Mom. I don’t know if I could have gotten through those first few weeks without it. Their encouragement built me up and gave me an ever important outlet and I got to thinking ... isn’t this how it’s supposed to be? When we lived in villages, women all banded together and helped each other out. I think that’s a beautiful thing, and it could be used more often in every aspect of life. Everyone just helping each other out. Because life is tough sometimes and you just need a reassuring smile or someone to hear you out and tell you it’s all going to be okay.


I have a new respect for my own mother now. She did all that I’m doing but she didn’t have the internet and she didn’t have a car. She didn’t even have friends or family nearby at the very beginning. And suddenly when I look at my mom I see a cape over her shoulders. She’s super human. Now I know why there’s a day for moms, even when you have the most supportive husband, there are often needs only moms can fulfill. I get why people post a million photos of their kids - they are the best thing ever - more beautiful to us than the most exquisite sunset or mountain scape. When I look at my son I see the best thing that’s ever existed and I can’t believe I get to be his Mom. And I’m thankful he made me a new me. I’m thankful he made me a Mom.

So cheers to you, moms, and Happy Mother's Day. Keep raising the sweetest nuggets around and share those photos, they're beautiful :)

first mother's day onesie
mother's day breakfast in bed

Travel to Europe Through Books

Author: Ruthie Pollard 

It is one of the strongest bonds, I think, that can spring up between people: sharing a passion for certain books and their authors.
— Alice Steinbach

Looking for some book recommendations? A good book will transport you to a different time, culture, landscape, and mindset. In preparation for my travels I have been reading up on European adventures fiction and non-fiction. 

Bookstores can be overwhelming when you don't know where to look, thankfully my friend (and librarian) Dr. Katie Posey has pulled out some great reads! Browsing small book shops + coffee make a fantastic day trip! You can follow her bookish adventures on instagram @whatkatieread. 


  1. A Woman's Europe by Marybeth Bond: A series of short stories from popular authors and their trips abroad. (Frances Mayes description of Tuscany was my favorite) 
  2. A Year in Paris by Janice Macleod: This is an illustrated book full of beautiful pictures of Paris. The author documented each day she spent in Paris for a year. 
  3. Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach: Journey through Europe with Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Alice as she details her travel adventures. 
  4.  Les Parisiennes by Anna Sea: A true story of the resistance, collaboration, and the woman of Paris under Nazi occupation. Many of the woman maintained their glamorous lifestyle as a form of resistance. 
  5. My Love Affair with England by Susan Allen Toth: Memoir of a travelers journey through England. 
  6. The New Paris by Lindsey Tramuta: This American born author details her journey of moving to Paris and discovering the up and coming businesses in the city. The book is full of newer places popping up in Paris accompanied by stunning photography and personal interviews with shop owners. 


  1. Paris for One by JoJo Moyes: A young girl is stood up on a trip to Paris. She decides to make the best of it, meeting new friends along the way. 
  2. The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris: Follow the story of Anna a young English girl who starts working at a renouned chocolate shop despite her lack of chocolate knowledge. 
  3. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim: Four ladies who don't know each other travel to Italy together on an impromptu vacation. They each make peace with situations happening in their personal lives while surrounded by the Tuscan Countryside. 
  4. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster: This classic novel will take you on a romantic adventure through Florence the set in the early 1900's. 
  5. Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch: This is an easy read geared towards young adult readers. It's perfect for a plane ride and will leave you wanted a taste of gelato! 

Let us know if you have any book recommendations! Happy reading! 




Summer Dreaming

Author: Ruthie Pollard 


As a New Englander I tend block out this time of year, we are after all best known for the fall. This winter has been particularly brutal with record breaking arctic temperatures, and the “bomb cyclone” snowstorm. The weather can't seem to figure out if it should be 70 or 17 degrees any given day. It makes summer feel like a distant memory. 

For many people, long durations of freezing weather and darker days can be accompanied by seasonal depression or Season Affective Disorder (SAD). It can affect some people significantly by bringing on sadness, or just feeling sluggish and unmotivated.

We all handle this time of year differently and I wanted to list some great ways to beat the cold and keep your spirits up this winter!

Essential Oils:

I don’t sell them, but I am tempted to start with all their success stories! Trusted friends swear by their health benefits and uplifting aroma. Putting a couple drops of your desired mood into a diffuser can change your day. Kristen Lavalley knows more about Young Living Oils then anyone I know and her social media accounts gives great informative tips. Here are some oil recommendations depending on what you need:

Frankincense- A grounding scent that helps to balance your mood. 

Stress Away- A blend of lime and vanilla that smells like summer! 

Lemon - Uplifting and refreshing, it wakes up the mind making you feel alert. 

Joy - Calms emotions and promotes peace.  

Lavender - Basically does everything. Calms, heals, helps you sleep.  


Keeping in shape will help keep you motivated. I recently started the couch to 5K app and I’m proud of myself for learning to run (which has never been my thing). Running a little more every week has helped me sleep better and feel better.  

Give Yourself Things to Look Forward Too:

Maybe it's time to splurge on a new pair of shoes...or if you’re like me, look forward to an upcoming destination. I am currently planning a trip to Paris in April. I just love knowing that on the other side of winter a flower filled Paris awaits!

Share your feelings with a friend:

On these cold nights I would rather be a hermit. Let’s be honest, staying inside all day is much more comfortable then venturing out into the frozen tundra. When we are alone for too long it can turn into loneness. Talking with close friends and making time to do fun activities can get you out of the winter rut. There is a good chance that they are feeling the same way. 

Invest in Cold Gear:

Just because it’s -14 outside do we need to let the cold win? I say no! Buy all the things. When you commit to buying quality winter gear it’s an expensive task with long term reward. Here’s a starter investment guide to keeping warm:

Light Candles at Night:

If your not into the idea of lathering yourself in essential oils. Candles at night are a good way to bring light into the room especially if it’s a nice smelling candle. I love the clean scents from Anthropologie and new soy candles from Madewell. 

Get Vitamin D When You Can:

With all the lack of sunlight our bodies are craving Vitamin D. Stocking up on supplements and eating foods containing Vitamin D can help your body feel better. Also, get sunlight while you can!  As a teacher I have to stand outside at least 45 mins a day in rain and snow. This is a blessing in disguise as I do get a small amount of sunlight daily. If you can't get outside I have heard that it is beneficial to do light therapy using light lamps

Uplifting Diversions:

When you are starting to feel down find good things to focus on. Watching a funny movie, getting your nails done, and enjoying a favorite meal with a friend can help brighten a dull day. Most importantly, I find it comforting to listen to worship music, read scripture, and journal my thoughts and prayers. Listening to encouraging podcasts and reading a good book with a warm drink are small moments I look forward to. 

Please let me know if you have any advice for beating the winter blues!



Donut Day!

Author: Ruthie Pollard 


Winter has officially come in all its frozen glory. With sub-zero temperatures over the last week I was thrilled to be warm and cozy indoors. What better way to spend your time then baking treats? I’m low-key obsessed with The Great British Bake Off, so naturally when photographer and fellow fan Gabby Gordon suggested a baking shoot  - I was all in! Realistically, being a fan of a baking show and being a “baker” are two very different things. Practice makes perfect, and donuts make excellent practice! My goal for this showstopper was to make fun and festive looking donuts for any occasion. 

What you Need: 

  • Donut Recipe - (my suggestion would be to find one from a reliable cook book as oppose to pinterest) for example, William Sonoma has - The Doughnut Cookbook
  • Homemade Icing - l did a sugar glaze from aseasyasapplepie.com, but next time I’ll look into different flavors such as maple, chocolate, or Nutella. Get creative with toppings and flavors! 
  • Edible Flowers - During warmer months they can be found in the herb section of most grocery stores. As they are out of season, Gabby looked up edible flowers and cut them right off a plant she bought in the floral section. 
  • Wilton’s Edible Glitter - I found edible sprinkles + gold dust at Michael’s Craft Store (because festive). 
  • Fruit - Not pictured here, but fresh fruit is a lovely accent to any treat! 

Last time I made donuts I cut off the bottom tip of the piping bag BEFORE putting in the batter...it didn't end so well. This was a much better experience. :)


Dipping the Donut - To add icing simply dip the donut into the icing bowl and give it a quick swirl. Make sure to add your toppings right after dipping so they will stick. You can use more powdered sugar in the icing to get the desired thickness. In my first icing batch I found the consistency was too thin and it absorbed right into the donut. Don't be afraid to double dunk!  


I was gushing over these photos and their edits, it’s such a joy to work with talented photographers. Take a peek at Gabby’s site for more of her beautiful work, https://www.gabriellagordonphoto.com.

Now with all this inspiration (in the words of the hosts)….on your marks, get set, BAKE! 



Peppermint Cocoa Recipe

Author: Becky Sizelove

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Merry Christmas! 'Tis the most wonderful time of year. And what better way to celebrate than with a hot cup of cheer? This is the easiest recipe and can be made with your favorite hot cocoa mix and that left over candy cane you have in your sweets drawer!

becky's peppermint hot cocoa recipe.jpeg


  • Hot cocoa mix
  • Water or milk (depending on how you like to make your hot cocoa)
  • Mini marshmallows (or fluff if you so choose)
  • Candy cane


Turn on your kettle or heat milk in a sauce pan. While waiting for your water or milk to heat to desired temperature, grab your candy cane and keep it in its wrapper. Take the bottom of your mug and gently slam down on the candy cane (great for working any holiday stress off). Empty candy cane pieces into a bowl or container. Once your water or milk is heated, mix in your favorite hot cocoa mix and top with mini marshmallows and a sprinkling of crushed peppermint. Enjoy the most refreshing cup of cheer of the season! 

Serves: two 

Wishing you all a very merry day!