Hey, friends. How are you doing? This weather here in Austin is just W-I-L-D. We have been extremely grateful to still have our power on, but it has been a mess in most of the… More
Happpyyyy New Year’s Eve!! I have been sooo so stoked to write this post, and I’m hoping reading it will feel like we are ringing in the New Year with a celebration! Leaving off the weekend before starting our fall semester (late August), DJ requested we keep that last Saturday totally free. Fine with me! All I had on the agenda was an 18-mile training run. Little did I know all else he had planned.
On that Friday, DJ recommended one last trip to Aussie’s, our new favorite spot in town. I was not about to turn down an opportunity for those shrimp tacos! When we arrived I had a moment of utter confusion when I spotted my mom, Pete and Halston sitting at one of the patio tables. I could not wrap my head around what was happening! I quickly learned they had all planned a “Baustin” weekend since I would not have the Boston experience we had planned prior to the marathon since it went virtual rather than in-person. I did not have any idea about all they had planned! They pulled off this surprise so well, and DJ helped coordinate it during a time he knew I wouldn’t be bogged down with school. *Please note, COVID precautions were taken*.
We enjoyed some apps and meals at Aussie’s while I sat in shock, and then my mom handed me this itinerary for the weekend!
After dinner, we went our separate ways but then met back up in the morning to let the festivities begin! We picked up some Summer Moon coffee to go, along with some light pastries to tide us over to lunch. I’m telling ya- if you have never had Summer Moon- prioritize trying it if you find yourself in Texas! The “moon milk” will change your life. I like the 1/4 sweet moon milk because I don’t like too much sweetness with my coffee, but you can adjust to your tasting!
One place we have all wanted to go together since we moved to Austin is The Oasis located on Lake Travis. It is primarily known for its gorgeous views.
We arrived around 11 am and made it before the lunch rush. Thankfully, there is plenty of outdoor patio seating and we were seated far away from anyone else.
They don’t have a reputation for having the greatest food around, but I thought was actually pretty dang good!!!
After soaking up the views and fueling up for the day, we went to a place nearby to pick up a boat rental to take out on Lake Travis. It could not have been a more perfect day for boating.
We had the absolute best time. Those hours out on the lake were not only one of my favorite memories of the year, but of ever. Pete drove the boat and found the best spots to anchor down so we could swim. Swimming is one of my favorite things in the world, and we just swam and swam out there for hours. There is something about being in the water that it feels like the world stops for a second.
After returning the rental, we returned home and got ready for the evening. My mom then planned a whole “expo”. And she went all out. She had an assortment of “samples” (typically my favorite part of expos, hah) including protein bars and gu, hair-ties, other goodies, a can of New England Clam Chowder (ha!), and a lot of personalized Boston memorabilia including a Nike Boston Tank and Boston bag. A family friend made the coasters, coffee mug and wine glass! There was also the book Run the Mile You’re In. I definitely teared up seeing all they had poured into making this special and all the thought that went into it <3 I still cannot believe it!!! Even now writing about this weekend as a whole is making me emotional!
Kevin, my brother-in-law, sent vegan muffins and cupcakes from Mr. Natural. They were phenomenal, best vegan baked goods out there. And I don’t think they tasted extra good just because I was hungry 24-7 with my training, hehe.
Next, we headed down to South Congress Bridge to watch the famous 1.5 million bats fly out at sunset. Yup, you read that right! The first time I saw this daily bat exodus happen, I could hardly believe my eyes. There were so many bats flying out that in the distance they almost looked like a cloud or a massive swarm of mosquitoes. It. is. wild. According to the Bats in Austin website, “People are simply batty for Austin’s world-renowned Mexico free-tailed bats and their night flight of 60-plus miles per hour and 2-mile high flight patterns, and feeding frenzy of Austin insects”.
We grabbed a spot on the bridge that wasn’t crowded and hunkered down to watch the flight. You don’t know exactly when it will occur, so you want to be there a bit earlier than sunset to make sure you don’t miss it. Be prepared to wait 30 mins-an hour. It seems like a long wait, but it is worth it to see once! It’s funny because when we first moved here we had no idea about it and asked someone randomly while walking over the bridge “what is everyone waiting for?” LOL. Then we waited forever to see them, and now it seems when we are casually out on a walk or run we see it happen pretty often! One time we were actually under the bridge when they took off, and that was an adventure in itself, haha.
I love this video because you can hear my mom’s natural reaction to the bats which mirrors just about anyone’s who sees this for the first time!
It’s hard to capture the magnitude of the flight on video or in picture, especially because it’s hard to time up when they will make their first big exit from under the bridge. If you want an idea of the full experience follow this link and watch the video!
After alll that swimming and bat watching, we were ready for some grub!! We headed to Geraldine’s to get our food on. This is one of the most wonderful hidden gems in Austin in my opinion.
We entered to live music playing up on the stage of the spacious, industrial and beautiful venue.
The dining experience was one of the most memorable we have ever had in Austin. Every single menu item was extremely unique and delicious with a beautiful presentation! They are served tapas style, so we tried a little bit of every magnificent dish! Every bite was… WOW.
After our meal, we walked down Rainey street replete with food trucks, and Pete suggested we all try Little Lucy’s mini donuts. We all said we didn’t think we had room after our meal, but after one bite we absolutely found a second stomach! (lol, that kinda sounds like a dad joke, doesn’t it? Whoops)
I am soo stinkin’ grateful to my family for making this weekend so special. What was originally so devastating for me with Boston going virtual ended up being the most unforgettable, special memory. I joked with them that after all this, I better actually do well in the virtual Boston race! Pressure was on! Of course, I will recap the actual race next 🙂
I’d love to know:
- What are you looking forward to in the New Year?
Hey all! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas/holiday season, even if it all looked different this year. I also hope you have a Happy and Healthy New Year too! These wishes carry a little extra gravity this year, don’t they?
I am still going through the summer recaps, although they are flying by because, well, we didn’t do a whole lot outside of work and school. In July, I transitioned to my second clinical site for the summer at a family practice. I learned more than I could have imagined in a few weeks & I was able to secure the site again for the spring semester- woohoo! I can’t wait to get started again.
I was on a PB & Toast with a side of grapefruit kick through a lot of the summer.
More Austin walks!
August 8th was our five year anniversary!! DJ surprised me these beautiful flowers <3 We had always said we were going to do something big for our five year, like a trip out of the country or something. Obviously, this idea was put on hold this year, but when we can travel again we look forward to planning something 🙂 I’m just so darn thankful for him and treasure each day and year with him.
When we wrapped up the semester/DJ’s internship in mid-August, we had about a week and a half off. We decided to try out a restaurant we had been eyeing up for a while. Aussie’s is a local favorite and is more modest-appearing compared to the flashy restaurants on nearby South Congress.
Along with not being a total tourist trap, this is the most chill spot you will find around. There is a volleyball court that usually always has a game going on next to their relaxing patio. Food is way more affordable here than most ATX restaurants, and it is super tasty.
Proof- their shrimp tacos (!!!)
The YETI Flagship store is also near us and we walk by it all the time. Ever since we moved here we said we’d have to go and choose some YETI mugs together! We didn’t own anything YETI at the time, but we knew people loved it. And it seemed like a must with the flagship store so closeby.
I settled on the white rambler mug for myself and DJ chose the stainless steel.
Later that afternoon, we decided to try out our apartment pool for the first time together since we moved last summer. It’s kinda sad it has taken us that long, lol!! (I briefly checked it out last summer myself, but I didn’t stay out there long since that day was particularly excruciatingly hot). Also, our apartment has a great system with a reservation portal to make sure there aren’t too many people at the pool at once.
We decided ordering take-out chips, queso and margaritas from El Arroyo would be fun to take out to the pool and have our own little “staycation”. El Arroyo is famous around here for their sign with its creative messages. You can see a whole bunch of their signs here if you need a good chuckle!
We used our YETIs for the first time for the margaritas! We were amazed at how long they kept our drinks cold, especially since it was also blazin’ hot that day.
Our pool day was one of our favorites of the summer. It was so relaxing. Without school hanging over our heads in that small moment in time, we just chatted while floating in the pool and enjoying the beautiful, sunny Austin day.
Most days of that break I used to get organized- I re-organized my entire laptop making sure everything had a file, deleted unneeded files, etc. It took a while, but it felt great moving into the next semester. I also read a little bit, made sure to get my oil changed and was deep into my training for the Boston marathon at this point! I also had to pack for the fall semester for my pediatrics rotation.
I’d love to know:
- Favorite memory from this past month?
Hey heyyy! It is a sunny morning here in Austin. I am eager to get out and go for a run. Ohh, JK, I just checked the weather. 37F! We’ll wait a bit till we are at leaasttt in the high
40s, 50s, 60s.
So this post is a recap of our Christmas 2019. I never got around to it last year since I hit the ground running with clinicals in January. I said maybe I’d publish it for “Christmas in July”… welp, that didn’t happen either. I think it’s actually very special that I am just getting to write this post now. This year we are not going back to OH, so getting to relive last year’s festivities, prior to COVID being on our radar, is going to be bittersweet (with more sweet than bitter! <3).
Prior to going back to Ohio last year, DJ and I exchanged gifts. He gifted me this gorgeous Tim Cantor Collection Book. I was ecstatic. He knows Tim Cantor is my favorite artist, and there were many pieces in this book I had not seen yet! I have this book and Affinité on display on our coffee table. I actually just flipped through this yesterday in the morning with my coffee 🙂
On December 22nd, we arrived at the ATX airport. I grabbed an almond milk cafe au lait from Ruta Maya while we found our gate.
I was still pretty full from breakfast, but to get something in our stomachs before flying, we stopped at Haymaker in the airport. I had a veggie salad and we split some poutine fries that were as good as they look!
We met up with some friends at Burntwood Tavern that evening after landing and just chatted away for hours.
On December 23rd, I think spent most of the morning just hanging out with my MIL and Gordie while wrapping gifts. They are so awesome to let us ship all our gifts there every year.
Around 3 pm, I met up with Rachel to attend a Christmas production by one of the churches downtown. She heard about it from a friend at work, so we thought it would be great to check it out together and get dinner together after to catch up!
When we walked in, it was so cute with little cookie and coffee stands and a photo station.
After the beautiful Christmas production, we went to Humble Restaurant in downtown Lakewood. it was a long wait, but we didn’t mind since it gave us more time to catch up!
Also this place is so warm and inviting (I took this pic on our way out- when we got there is was jam-packed!). I had heard of the wine bottle Christmas trees- but I had never seen a chandelier before!
You know any place with a wood-fired stove is gonna be tasty!
We started with their roasted beets with saba, pistachias and ricotta. YUM.
We also tried their roasted stuffed artichokes- oh my gooooodness. Delicious.
We also split their caprese pizza which was divine. Everything we had there was phenomenal!
On the morning of Christmas Eve, we woke up to this thick layer of fog to go with our coffee and breakfast. Easily one of my favorite parts of being home is just chatting together in the kitchen while enjoying our breakfast and coffee.
Pool Noodle was feeling totally relaxed at home for Christmas too!
It was a wonderful Christmas Eve spent with family <3
On Christmas Day we awoke to have a wonderful breakfast and can you believe how stunning this tree is?!
My Mom-in-law made an absolutely delicious quiche for breakfast. I don’t know if there is any better breakfast food for Christmas morning!
We enjoyed another full day with great food and family <3
And, of course, had to get more pics of the sweet Noodle.
We had a spread of many delicious desserts- I had to try a little bit of everything. I mean how would you choose?! YUM!
It was also a Christmas of playing code names!! This is probably our favorite game to play. Also, just to go on a little tangent here- I never really enjoyed card or board games growing up, but as an adult I love them. Is that odd? Anyone else experience that?
We ended the evening with some spectacular ice wine! DJ saw me working on this post and went “that ice wine was SO good!”. We savored each single sip while sitting around a fire outside together. It was a perfect Christmas day!
We didn’t get too many pics through the weekend, but we did get this one. We laugh at how far apart and from one another we are in it, but hey, it works for memory sake. Lol.
On December 26th, we had the evening planned with my side of the family. On our way to their home, we swung by one of our old stomping grounds with a covered bridge.
At my cousin’s home, all my siblings and our niece and nephews gathered together to enjoy great conversation, great food, peppernuts (the traditional family Christmas cookie) and so much fun.
We did a white elephant gift exchange among the adults, and someone was gifted the Beanboozled game. We played the game until every one had a spin, and the reactions were hilarious!
More white elephant fun… hehe
More family fun <3
On December 27th, in the afternoon I met up with my friend from childhood- Kylie! We met at the Nervous Dog Coffee Bar, and I ordered this delicious vegan cookie to go with some coffee.
I probably have mentioned this before, but a little fun fact- Kylie and I have been “pen pals” ever since DJ and I moved out to CA. It’s so much fun to stay up-to-date through snail mail on each other’s lives. I am always on the lookout for a cute card when I’m out and about!
After, DJ and I had dinner at Mustard Seed Cafe, one of my favorite restaurant in town (which is actually located within a grocery store).
It was all super yummy!
Later that evening, DJ’s younger sister had a basketball game that we were so stoked we could attend. The game was great! She played amazingly, and it was really sweet to watch DJ beam with pride watching her. We are so thankful we had the chance to watch her play while in town.
On December 28th we went to see my mom, Pete, Halston and Kevin. After catching up for a few hours, we went to Austin’s Woodfire Grill in Brecksville where my Grandma Violet met with us.
We had a feast of delicious eats!
After, we went back to my parent’s friends’ home (they graciously offered to let us all stay there while they were away for Christmas). It was so cozy & we spent the night playing games and laughing. A lot.
And then, sadly, we left to return to Austin the next day. we grabbed Sammy’s in the airport. I still remember how good that salmon salad was!
It was a Christmas we will never forget. I am incredibly thankful for these memories with friends and family and celebrating the birth of Christ. It was so much fun to relive this post!
I hope you all have a very wonderful holiday season, even if it all looks a bit different this year!
I’d love to know:
- What is one of your favorite Christmas/holiday traditions?
Good morning, everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. This last week just flew by! Zooming right through 2020 (some would say quite literally), we find ourselves at the end of May. It was my sister, Halston’s, bday, so we decided to meet outdoors at Keller Park to celebrate her while keeping safe distance.
We played some cornhole (I am still terrible), exploding kittens (I hate the name, love the game) and just caught up! It was really special and easily one of my favorite days of the whole year.
We ordered some awesome eats from Devivo Brothers along with a yummy carrot cake. I know with carrot cake, you love it or you don’t, but our fam loves it. This one was good, but if you want the best carrot cake EVER it is from Gasoline Alley in Bath, Ohio.
Later on our drive back to Austin, DJ and I decided Sonic looked really good (as if we hadn’t had enough sugar already, ha!), so we veered off and grabbed a milkshake to split. It was a great choice (I cannot remember the last time I had Sonic!).
The next day I had to go get my car cleaned- it was just long overdue. During summers in Texas our cars can get dusty pretty quickly. Does anyone get slightly nervous in car washes? I am always irrationally worried my wheels aren’t aligned and that the spinner cleaner thing is just gonna just come through my windows or that my car will get crushed by it. Or maybe it is the claustrophobia of it all. IDK! Anyone else? Just me?
By the beginning of June we were in the thick of school, DJ’s internship, and for me, clinicals. I started out the first half of the summer at an Integrative health site! I learned quite a bit about diseases/illnesses I would not have elsewhere. Some of the complex diseases we managed were Lyme disease, PANDAS/PANS in kids, mold toxicity and chronic pain. I am grateful for the experience. I had a super long drive to get there, but it was a gorgeous route, and I looked forward to the drive each day.
Austin never ceases to amaze me with its beauty. I have said before, but this is the one thing I didn’t not know about Austin before moving here- just how stunning this city is! We have this huge green area pictured below smack dab in the middle of the city that people will exercise on, do work/homework or just hangout with friends. DJ and I have been meaning to do a picnic here. Hopefully we get around to that soon on a warmer day! (For reference, cold= anything under 70). We have grown WEAK!
Walks were our way of getting out of the house and clearing our heads over the summer. We took a lot. It’s funny because when you are so bogged down by school work/work you look forward to anything that isn’t studying- so for example, we would jokingly argue over who got to do the dishes, because doing the dishes meant time to listen to a podcast while doing some mindless task and not be studying for a moment, lol.
On June 4th, I wanted to show Deej this gorgeous bridge on Ladybird lake below at night I had discovered a few days prior. We had been on it many times during the day, but at night the way it’s illuminated with the city in the background is just magical. I remember on this walk we debated the existence of aliens. WoooOOOoOOoo.
When things started opening back up, we did some research into what would be a safe place to eat. We had been to El Alma’s before (after skydiving) and knew they had massive outdoor seating, so we decided to try it out. It was great, and we felt very safe. We were tucked far away from anyone else.
To replace exchange of menus, they used this QR code to access the menu. I think this would actually be a great replacement for material menus moving forward!
I still think they have my favorite queso around. It is so. good.
DJ had their tacos, and I had their tostadas. Last time, I didn’t love the dish I ordered, but this time it was great!
We weren’t going to make going out to eat a habit, but it was sooooo nice to get out of the house for one night.
On another walk during June we noticed these turtles doing some morning yoga. I’ll tell ya what, the critters around here have such personality.
On June 13th we watched The Matrix. I had never seen it before, can you believe that?!
I love when I drive down South Congress at night and see the regal capital lit up.
So, part of the reason this passed summer was so stressful is because clinical sites were extremely hard to find given COVID. I felt majority of my time was just trying to figure out my fall rotations rather than focusing on my school work, which was incredibly frustrating. I was scheduled for my pediatrics rotation for the fall, which was already one of the more challenging sites to get in the program, throw in a pandemic- and woof! I actually heard about this idea on a podcast, so I stole it to confirm a placement: I bought a pack of little mini shoe keychains from Amazon, and in a folder included my resume, cover letter, preceptor benefits and this little shoe. I mailed it out to different sites, and I stated I was “trying to get my foot in the door”.
It was so well received and the practices loved the idea, but none of them were taking students at the time (understandably so). I am SO thankful my school was able to help me find the site in Fort Worth.
More of Austin in all its glory!
One of the nights I made some chili to serve with Siete chips. We discovered the brand Siete after moving to Austin (they are an Austin based company), and all their products are delish!
Have a great week, and thanks for reading! 🙂
Question for you:
- Feelings about carrot cake?
Oh wow, it has been a HOT minute since I have done a Friday Favorites post. I didn’t plan on writing one today, but sometimes after that first cup of coffee you just don’t know what will happen! I am so excited to share some of my favorite things of late with y’all. Now that I am not 100% consumed with school (for now), I have some shows, podcasts, recipes, Christmas inspo., etc. I have been enjoying!
(P.S. I am listening to Taylor Swift’s new album as I write this, and I’m eager to hear your thoughts if you have listened. Folklore was one of my favorites of hers, so I am stoked for evermore).
First up- my friend Rach sent me the most delicious and thoughtful advent calendar! It has vegan dark chocolate for each day of December! I look forward to my little heart shaped piece of chocolate every day 🙂
Okay, so I guess there is a teeeny bit of school sprinkled in here. I have been studying for my boards a bit each day, and I LOVE using the Leik review. It’s been kinda *fun* to go through the intensive review, as everything is starting to really come together. I won’t be taking my boards until next spring, but I want to be prepared as possible for my final clinical rotations. If you are an FNP student, I definitely recommend this book for review! I actually wish I had studied it throughout the program coinciding with each unit- so I recommend doing that if you are just starting out. This will not be my only source of review, but it is a great one to start with. (There are a couple minor typos/errors in the book I’ve found, but overall it’s solid).
Alright, if you have been around here for a while you probably know I have ice cream in some form nearly every day for dessert. Well, y’all, I had to give up the dairy pretty much all together (at least for now) due to some skin issues. I have seen a huge difference since cutting it out. I replaced my yasso fudge pops (from Target) and ice cream cones with these Fudge Bars from So Delicious (I found them at Whole Foods). They are a great alternative. But if you can have dairy- yasso is so yummy- I was on a kick of that for a while!
New running shoes!!! I have been long overdue in replacing my running shoes (Since before Virtual Boston in September- eeeeek, don’t tell!). Brooks are my go-to shoes for year-round training. When I trained for Boston I ran in the Nike Zoom Fly 3 for the speed- they are ah-mazing, but in terms of sustainable training and support for the way I run and step, I am hesitant to veer away from Brooks ghost + inserts for the long term. Maybe one day I’ll officially transition over to the Nike running side, but there has been enough change in 2020 already, lol. (When I get to the actual Boston recap, I’ll talk about the magic that is Vaporfly Next % I wore for race day too).
GreenPan Pans!! So we have been a kick of “healthifying” (not a word, but it works) our home environment (I am planning to do a whole post eventually on the why and the how), and the first thing that had to go were our old cooking pans. Also, we were due for a new pans since we haven’t replaced them in about five years since getting married. We looked into and read all about the healthiest pans, and decided to go with GreenPan. Another cheaper alternative we were close to getting were these pans that come in a variety of adorable colors. We went with GreenPan because they seemed to be a trusted brand in pretty much everything we read. Also the reviews on GreenLife were questionable- they had a high rating, but the recent ones were mostly negative- so we just played it safe and invested a bit more. Anyway, we absolutely love them. They are nonstick, cook evenly and quickly at low to medium heat and are extremely easy to clean. I’m usually a bit reckless with my cookware, but I’m going to try to take good care of these.
Autumn is starting to show its face in Austin!!! The leaves here change later in the year, and here we are in December with it finally starting to feel somewhat like fall!
Something that has really helped me get in the Christmas spirit is watching Taralynn McNitt’s Vlogmas. I just adore her Vlogmas she does each year, and they have added a real lightness to the heaviness of this year. She was actually my initial inspiration for blogging, and I’ve been following her blog since 2014. She is the realest, and just a breath of fresh air in the hyper-curated blogging space of full-time bloggers. If you want to check out her actual blog follow this link. You guys will love her (if you don’t already!).
After many recommendations to watch the Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, we gave it a chance and oh my goodness- highly recommend. It is a heavier watch, but it is extremely well done and unlike anything you have seen before. That’s a bold statement- but it’s spellbinding, quirky, suspenseful.. and so much more!
And I would be remiss, devastated and heartbroken (anyone know the reference?), if I didn’t share these No-Bake Vegan Brownie Bites with you that are ohh sooo good! These were recommended by my sister-in-law, and I am just obsessed. I ate through my first batch so quickly, and I can’t wait to make them again.
And last, but certainly not least, my Mom-in-law and my Aunt-in-law have a podcast that I just love called Ok Boomer! I try to listen as soon as they have drop an episode. They are witty, funny and it feels like you are just sitting having a conversation with them. I think a comment someone left in the reviews captured the essence of the podcast perfectly: “A fun and entertaining way to explore how another generation sees the world with a message to get out of your comfort zone and live life to the fullest”. Their goal is to take back the negative connotation of “Ok Boomer” to bridge all generations so we can all be “happily ok together”! And I say they do just that!
What have you been loving lately?
**Disclaimer: There are Amazon affiliate links in this post. All ideas and opinions are my own. I may receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase the products linked**.
Lately, I have started studying for my boards, so I am chipping away at that a bit each day. I have also done a lot of “back burner” items since being back in ATX, some Christmas shopping and deep cleaning of the apartment. I start back up my clinicals in a few weeks (back in Fort Worth again), so I’ll be going back to stay with my mom and Pete (I am so thankful to be able to stay with them!!). This rotation is much shorter this time around. Then I will start a different rotation when I’m back in Austin. Wow that is wordy! Don’t worry, there’s no quiz later 😉
Here is the message inside the little airplane…
We had a huge laugh about this and, of course, threw them back the connect 4 pieces.
After unpacking and taking a nap, I was quite hungry. My first meal I was craving back was Chilantro’s tofu bowl.
It doesn’t look like much, but oh my, it is a delish dish! DJ enjoys their tacos.
When I was actually in New Orleans, the one food I craved the most that I didn’t ever have (since I was eating mostly non-perishables) was…. eggs!!!! Since my circadian rhythms were a bit thrown off, I woke up around 3 am wiiiide awake, and decided to have some avocado toast with an egg and an Easter frosted cookie. I forgot just how good avocado toast + an egg was. Magic. (Spoken like a true millennial).
The first Sunday back I was thinking how nice ordering a brunch in would be. I stumbled upon a great brunch takeout spot called Colleen’s Kitchen!
We ordered a whole bunch of brunchy (say that 10 times fast) items from their cheesy grits to their chicken and waffles to their smoked salmon crackers and cranberry biscuits! It was a brunch if there ever was one! My mouth is watering just remembering it now.
That afternoon, I went through my mountain of mail and opened a couple super thoughtful gifts and cards sent from family and friends. My amazing family sent me this package of cake pops! This has extra special meaning since it is actually a cake pop shop owned by one of my high school teachers. They were the absolute best cake pops I have ever had! If you want to check out her shop visit this link 🙂
Also my dear blogging friend over at Cyranny’s Cove sent me this awesome and extremely thoughtful candle that has a diamond once it burns down. This warmed my heart sooo much. Oh and she also sent along a roll of toilet paper, which we all know has been like gold this year, hehe! Thank you again, Cyra! <3
Later that afternoon, DJ and I went and strolled along Lady Bird Lake. We now have an official walking path that is about 4 miles. We love taking that walk together whenever we have a chance. The views are beautiful and the wildlife always keeps us entertained!
A few days later we tried a new restaurant for us called Galaxy Cafe. DJ ordered their burger, and I tried their Galaxy buddha bowl with steamed kale, homemade lentils, brown rice pilaf, roasted sweet potatoes, mushrooms and a side of chile peanut vinaigrette with salmon. We will be ordering again!
Around this time I began my semester! I still had some time to put in before beginning clinicals to make it to my 14-day mark since New Orleans.
Mid-May we realized it had been far too long since we had dug into some Via 313!!
Four cheese is my go-to, so I made sure to get that! On another pizza we ordered the Detroiter (DJ’s favorite). For the last za’ we experimented with half of the Cadillac which has gorgonzola, fig Preserves, parmesan, and balsamic glaze (my new favorite) and half of The 500 with pepperoni, jalapeno, and pineapple rings (probably not an order-again).
This stuff is soooo good!
That night around dusk we went for a walk together around town. It was a lovely evening in ol’ Austin.
We saw this cute little heart lit up in one of the buildings downtown. I always kinda wonder how they coordinate this.
And I’ll end this post with one more walk around the lake 🙂
I’ll share a couple more highlights from this past summer in the next couple posts! Thanks for reading!
Question for you:
- Any funny neighbor stories? 😅
Hi friends! How’s it going? This post I’ll be recapping my time in New Orleans while working on a COVID-19 unit as a nurse. So, I was going to make this post private originally, but I know a few have said they are eager to hear about it, so I will share. I will say, I am nervous as heck to share this because of how painful the topic of COVID is for many people right now and considering we are still in the thick of it. I wish there wasn’t a crisis to respond to. But sadly, this is the reality of what we are living through. I also want to say, I am not looking for praise or anything, nor is it warranted. I have been in outpatient for majority of this year as an NP student, so this was a drop in the bucket compared to the nurses, MDs, NPs, CNAs, RTs, OTs, PTs, SLPs, etc. who are in the hospital day in and day out. I do think, however, it is still worth documenting and sharing this very real part of history as I have lived it.
So how did I end up going here in the first place? Well a little background- I was in the process of getting a nursing job in a clinic setting while continuing to go through grad school. The interview process was put on hold midway through with COVID going on. Since I had about a month off in between my spring and summer semester, I decided to apply to everything, anywhere in the country to try to help where I could with COVID. DJ was apprehensive about it but also supportive. The New Orleans contract was perfect timing- I was able to take my final exam early, get to New Orleans and return before starting clinicals, just a touch late, after a two week quarantine. I was able to make up the hours quickly though. Anyway, I had never done a travel assignment before, and it had been a little bit since I had stepped foot on the floor. I was nervous for sure, but sometimes you just know you need to do something, and this was one of those times.
In mid-April I packed up my car and grabbed pick-up Starbucks heading out to hit the road.
It was a smooth drive. I just chatted with family and friends the whole time which made the whole trip fly. It was about 7.5 hours total. I arrived at the hotel I’d be staying at that was actually connected to the hospital (which was awesome). I just simply walked to work each day.
I packed my Keurig because, well does that really need an explanation? Lol. I also stopped by a Target when I arrived and stocked up on alll the snacks. I was thankful to have a little fridge and tried to get in veggies and fruit where I could.
We were given a super-speed orientation given the nature of the crises, but it was thorough enough. I scarfed down half of a Larry & Lenny’s cookie before heading to it in the morning- this was one of my favorite snacks while I was there. It kept me nice and full & oh my goodness, they are tasty!
Since I’d be working night shift (7 pm to 7 am), I stayed up as late as I could the night before my first shift to try to flip. I had never worked nights, so I wasn’t sure how my body would respond. Turns out I loved it compared to working days. It helped that I didn’t have to flip back and forth like most people who work nights usually, but surprisingly I slept so well during the day and I felt great and energized on nights. After the assignment, I joked that this explained my insomnia- my circadian rhythm is actually reversed, and I’m apparently nocturnal and did not know it.
On the 16th I woke up around 3:30 pm, did a short insanity max 30 workout in my room to get my blood pumping and then had some coffee and oatmeal while reading my Bible before heading into the first shift. ^My basic-as-it-gets coffee mug from Target that I love oh so much. Lol.
For my ‘lunches’ on shift, I tried to pack things that were easy to eat but somewhat nutritious. My go-to was a mission spinach tortilla with hummus, vegan turkey, spinach, baby tomatoes and hummus. I also went through a phase with stuffed sweet potatoes too. In addition to the wrap, I’d maybe throw in an apple, some dark chocolate, a yogurt and white cheddar hippies snacks.
I usually had about 2 cups of coffee before my shift, but sometimes would up it to three with the third cup accompanying me on my walk to the floor.
When I first stepped on the unit, it was odd seeing extension tubing/cords leading IV pumps outside the room (so nurses could have access without entering the room). Prior to my first shift, I was shown the supply room, given all necessary equipment while I was there and overall felt well equipped to do my job. I worked with solely COVID patients, so it was important that we used strict PPE. Some units I worked on required full “bunny suits” for the duration of the shift and others we gowned immediately before going into the pressurized rooms. The most difficult moments I had with the PPE were when a patient’s oxygen would plummet, and my instincts would urge me to run straight into the room without taking the time to don everything on while battling how important it was to protect ourselves too. It was also tough how we had to limit our contact and only enter the room for necessary interactions, and we clustered care like crazy (giving meds, turning, vitals, etc.). I wanted to just pull up a chair and be with them in this scary time- but it wasn’t exactly possible. The communication barrier with all the masks was frustrating too. But I tried to make the most of every moment to let them know how we cared and were doing our best to get them better.
Some of the shifts I had my own full assignment, other times I would act as a runner and help nurses out on the floor. Having runners during COVID is really helpful because if you are in the room and do forget something, you have someone ready to go retrieve it for you so you don’t have to doff and re-don the PPE.
After my shifts, I would take off the PPE before leaving the floor, put my N95 in a paper bag that sealed up and put in a specific pocket of my book bag, and then head immediately back to the hotel. As soon as I entered in the door, I jumped in the shower, then ate breakfast at around 8 am.
I found I usually preferred eating my dinner before my shift and would eat oatmeal right before going to bed. I was on a kick with this mix above with pomegranate and Fage.
I usually slept from 8:30 am to about 2:30/3 pm. Around that time I’d get a call letting me know which unit to head to. I tried to get a short 20-30 min. workout in before my shifts to get a little cardio in and as a mini form of therapy. Then I’d eat my dinner, head to work until 7 am.
A few times I would stop in the cafeteria and use my employee meal voucher to pick up some delicious poke and sushi too.
About ten days into the assignment without ever stepping a foot outside, I decided it was probably time when I had a couple days off. A couple coworkers suggested a trail near the hospital. I decided to check it out, and it was the best decision! I just went during an off-time on the trail and stayed far away from anyone (with my mask on, of course).
For one of my meals, I tried a medley of different cold items including beets, eggplant and couscous. It was a treat!
One day, I had a notification that I had a package at the front desk. I had no idea it was even possible to ship things to the hotel to get to me, but my mom and Pete sent me the sweetest surprise 🙂 (All the snacks were so good).
Another incredible surprise is when I was out on one of my walks my brother and sister-in-law Facetimed me and told me we had another nephew on the way!! He is here now and so perfect <3
Whenever I was on the trail I would look over the bog and see if I could spot any gators! (or are they crocodiles? I never know the difference).
And what do you know!!! Do you see it? (pic below)
There was all kinds of fun wildlife to see on those walks.
The sunsets were just gorgeous.
I had some ripe avocados I needed to use up, so I started having some avocado toast for breakfast. I had an herbal tea with my breakfasts usually to help me unwind and fall asleep.
I was there during Nurse’s Week, so we received the cutest little goodies! All the nurses I worked with on night shift were absolutely amazing people. I still stay in touch with a couple of them today. Also, I want to shout out the awesome respiratory therapists who go above and beyond to keep things afloat- I feel like they are some of the unsung heroes of this whole thing.
I know this post is filled with some nice pictures, but on the other side of this is a devastating reality. This assignment itself was heart breaking. I don’t know how to describe it other than that- I felt a seething anger toward this virus, because all these patients should not have been there suffering the way they were. I hated that they had to be isolated away from everyone in one of the scariest times in their lives. Even writing now about it, it’s hard to find the words. This virus was just wild see up close- the unpredictable nature, the aggressiveness, the whack-a-mole nature of the complications…
Despite the hard and extremely sad moments, there is one instance that I treasure. Around 2 am, one of my patients could not fall asleep for anything, even after administering the PRN meds ordered and repositioning. I asked him if there was anything we could do, anything he could think of that would help. And he said in a dejected tone all he wanted was some ice cream. He did not know the floor actually stocked it, so when I asked him “chocolate or vanilla?” his eyes got wide with surprise. I went and got him some ice cream, and in order to keep his oxygen saturation up, I would take his mask off, have the NC going for backup, he would take a bite, put the mask back on if needed and we would make sure the oxygen was stable before giving another. We had a good little system going. Mask off, take a bite of the ice cream, make sure oxygen is stable…repeat. He told me about his family during this time and actually shared a story about an ice cream shop from his childhood. After eating the ice cream, he fell asleep. I cherish that interaction, and it was the most time I actually was able to spend with a patient.
I don’t think I have ever experienced such a mix of emotions as I did with this assignment. Philippians 4:7 discusses a peace that surpasses understanding. I’m not sure I have ever understood that verse as well as I did in this experience. I felt covered in prayer because my anxiety, apprehension, fear was met with an unexpected stillness as soon I stepped on the floor- an internal stillness that allowed me to have a calmness, clarity and quickness that was necessary for my patients.
After my final shift, I was tested for COVID before returning to Austin. I tested negative, which left me surprised but thankful. (I still waited the full two weeks before heading into clinicals for an extra precaution). I went for one last run on the trail and reflected, unsure how to feel or process everything. Thankfully, the cases were decreasing and they no longer needed travelers by the time I left.
When we moved to Austin, and I had a hard time finding a nursing position that would work with my school schedule and clinical travels, I started questioning my identity as a nurse. I felt like such a fraud at times. I felt my skills slipping further and further away. But being back on the unit, I felt that part of my identity cemented again. Thank you to all who prayed through the assignment. And please keep praying. Please pray that we do get this thing under control, that patients recover and recover quickly, this current spike is halted, grieving families experience are comforted during this time and health care workers are given the strength, energy and resources to make it through this. Thank you tremendously to all out there who have been and are still fighting this out on the front lines.
Stay safe and healthy, all.
Hellloo! How are ya?! I am poppin’ in here to my biannual blog post (hah!), but for real with the pace I’m moving this year, it is not far from the truth. Anywayyy, I just wrapped up my fall semester and am back in Austin! Oh real quick- I was having some security concerns with the blog, so it was offline entirely for about a week, but I think we’ve got it figured out now. Fingers crossed! Also, WP- what the heck is this new block editor? I am not a tech savvy one, so this whole new format is intimidating me, haha.
So, I’m not sure where to begin. This year has been heavy & soo challenging- emotionally, physically, mentally. Every time someone asks “how are you?”, it is hard to answer honestly. And I know my problems are minuscule in comparison to what others are experiencing right now…But I do empathize if it has been an extra tough year for you too. I’m hoping the next few posts can highlight some of the good that has occurred this year though. And I do think I’m now in a better head space than I’ve been in for a while. Also, I always think I’m generally more thankful when I blog because it really does help me focus on the good even in the most difficult times. So I say it is time to get back to it!!
Shall we rewind to April? I believe that’s where I left off, LOL. Since early on in this thing we were using primarily Instacart for groceries, we tried foods from different stores we haven’t tried before. One of the delicious finds from Central Market was this vegan calamari. Of all vegan foods, vegan seafood always makes me a bit wary (and I eat seafood, so I usually just get the real thing), but this was surprisingly yummy!
The highlight of our days between studying was taking walks around Austin.
At this time I was going through the process of getting everything ready for my RN travel assignment in New Orleans.
On April 10th, We decided to have a last “date night in” before I was scheduled to leave that Monday. I was craving Italian food, so we checked out some take out menus and settled on North Italia. We started with their white truffle garlic bread <– have you ever seen so many tasty words strewn together?
It was out of this world delicious!!!
For their pizza, we tried the Bianca with smoked mozzarella, aged provolone, ricotta, arugula, and lemon oil. Just like the monster cookie from Henbit, this touch of lemon oil was a unique and tasty ingredient I would not have thought would go so well on pizza.
For my main dish, I ordered the squid ink malfaldine with white shrimp, calamari, acqua pazza, mint, fennel pollen, and calabrian chili. This was good, but actually a little bit dry. I think it could have done with a bit more sauce, then maybe would be perfect! You could tell the pasta was high quality.
DJ tried their burrata tortellini with cherry tomato, basil, pecorino, and rustic tomato sauce. He loved it!
While running some quick errands before my trip to NOLA, I decided to stop by Cuvee coffee as I noticed they had an outdoor to-go coffee bar.
This was easily, hands-down, one of the best cups of coffee I think I’ve ever had. Definitely the best coffee in Austin yet. It reminded me of Facebook’s insanely good Saint Frank coffee a little bit!
On Easter morning, we watched church while enjoying a breakfast of omelettes and english muffins.
Easter was gorgeous! I was feeling a bit anxious awaiting my departure to New Orleans, but tried to be present soaking up the day with DJ.
We also Facetimed family that day which was awesome and helped alleviate the nerves a bit.
Below is a picture from our evening walk.
Although I was scheduled and ready to go Monday, the hospital moved back my start day one day, so I had an extra day at home before heading out. We ordered a few meals from Snap Kitchen so DJ would have leftovers for the week. I also tried to do some food prep and froze a few different meals to have on hand too.
This meal was okay- not sure we will order from Snap again, but was definitely worth the try!
Thanks for stopping in 🙂
Question for you:
- Please tell me how you have been/any life updates on your end!
Hey all! Thank you tons for the warm welcome back 🙂 I’ve gotta say, I felt a bit more myself since publishing that post! I had high hopes to get a bunch of posts done and be more present around here- and wellllllll, surprise, surprise…. that did not happen. But we did enjoy our time between semesters and started our new ones about two weeks ago. I am actually temporarily living in Fort Worth right now at my mom and Pete’s to complete a clinical rotation. I found out last Friday my placement was official, packed over the weekend, did the mini move on Monday, picked up my badge on Tuesday and started on Wednesday! I am aiming to finish up the rotation by the end of October to start my next one in November. I miss DJ sooo much, but he is going to stay here next weekend when I do the “Virtual” Boston Marathon, and I’m planning on visiting Austin the weekend after that.
A bit more about school…finding clinical placements are already tough, and during the pandemic, it’s been extra extra tough- so I’m thankful to have one at all, even if it means traveling some. This semester I am in pediatrics and obstetrics. I L-O-V-E my pediatrics rotation so far. I have been also so enjoying this time with my mom and Pete. I kinda feel like a teenager again- lol. I go into my room to study when not at clinicals and pop out when my mom says “dinner’s ready!” (I feel spoiled with her cooking!).
So continuing on in the recaps, we are now entering into late March (It’s comical how far behind I am, truly). This is a little hodge-podge variety post of some of the Austin restaurants we tried around that time. We first decided to try out some local BBQ, and Black’s BBQ is one of the favorites around. We tried a few different sides, and DJ tried some of their meats.
Overall, it was yummy, solid BBQ for suree- but I think Terry Black’s is still our favorite we’ve had yet!
That Sunday we watched church. It’s interesting because now whenever talking with friends it’s either “listened to church” or “watched church” since ours hasn’t opened back up yet. I think of all things, I cannot wait for Church here to resume.
On one of my walks that week I saw this… yikes! I have seen several snakes like this in the area. At first I thought it was fake- but nopeee.
And it’s not Lady Bird Lake without spottin’ turtles. DJ and I crack up at this picture because the one turtle is just doing its own thing and chillin’ at the top of the log. It does not have a care in the world.
More great eats! I think this was leftover BBQ with brown rice and veggies.
That week I went on a walk down South Congress- one of the busiest places in Austin (usually). At this time it was absolutely vacant and kinda eerie. I don’t think any other point in time this picture would be possible.
This picture below is from Joann’s, mentioned in one of my last posts- it is unheard of to see this place empty, and there was not a soul in sight.
Later I made us some tortilla pizzas with vegan sausage- gosh these were good!
Even though we are just inundated with seeing these types of signs all over now, I want to document them here and there- as we are currently living history.
March 27th was my Mom’s birthday. If this was any other year, we would have certainly drove down to Forth Worth to celebrate. It was great to be able to at least Facetime with her for a little bit & celebrate from afar!
To finish out our March, we ordered from Henbit. We tried their smokey broccoli, a Waygu burger for DJ, and I had my eye on their desserts with their famous monster cookie with chocolate chips, pecans, white sonoran wheat, lemon zest and their basque cheesecake.
DJ loved the burger!
This is one of the greatest cookies I’ve probably ever had. I wasn’t sure what to think of the lemon zest when I read it in the initial ingredients, but the addition made this cookie. I actually froze half of it, and enjoyed eating it frozen even more than warm.
Contending for a first spot of all cheesecakes is this basque cheesecake. It looks burnt on top, which is intentional. Again, I was not at all sure what to expect with the flavoring, but it was exquisite. The creaminess and subtle burnt flavor blended well to create a beautiful dimension of flavor. Certainly, this is the most unique cheesecake we’ve tried and easily one of the best!
Another breakfast kick I’ve been on is the avocado toast w/ EBTB seasoning & a side of grapefruit slices. I definitely go through phases with grapefruit.
We also went through a phase with making different Thai dishes with a red curry base. I usually mixed tofu into mine and chicken into DJ’s. Mmm mmm.
Aaand we are now strolling into April with a walk downtown.
Later that day we decided to try out Chilantro, a Korean BBQ inspired restaurant that I’d been hearing a lot of buzz about. It has a flare of Mexican cuisine inspiration as well. Fun fact- it was actually on Shark Tank!
The main thing we wanted to try were their Kimchi fries. They actually surpassed our expectations- they were insanely good. Dangerously good. And they had a nice little spice! I could actually go for some of these right now…
DJ ordered some tacos, and I had their tofu bowl. The tofu is so good. This is something I crave from time to time. When I returned from New Orleans, it was the first thing I ordered.
I think it was around this time that my clinicals were put on hold for the spring semester. We still had classes, but the learning is most important in the clinical setting. Thankfully, those hours were able to be made up. I am so full of gratitude that despite everything going on we have been able to continue in our respective programs. Just gotta keep trudging through until Spring 2021!
Question for you:
- Fall is in the air!!! What are you looking forward to most with this season coming up?
Hellloo! (echo: hello0o helloo hello). Anyone still reading this thing? Ha. I don’t truly know where to begin. Full disclaimer- the back-to-blogging nerves after being gone for three-ish months are in full force. The last few months have been really really challenging for a multitude of reasons. *Insert Taylor Swift’s Cruel Summer soundtrack in the background*. I know we aren’t alone in feeling this. In all seriousness, practically this whole year has been tough for everyone. And my heart goes out to all of you who are going through it too. We are just taking it day by day and counting our blessings. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to check in on us- it means so much that you’ve even noticed an absence and would take the time <3 I feel like I have soo much to discuss with y’all, and yet I don’t really know where to begin. Hmmm…one moment.. something feels a bit off….
**Turns on some background trash reality TV & grabs some ice cream**
Much better. Now it is time to blog!
So, the main things that have kept me from here are just lack of time with clinicals/school coupled with a lack of feeling creative. But right now we are between semesters and without something hanging over my head that I should be studying for the moment, I’m feeling that creativity creep back up, and I’m excited to jump in and try to write some posts.
And now I genuinely ask- how are you?
So without any real segue (those have never been my forte), let’s jump on in!
So let’s see. We are jumping all the way back to early March! And they say time travel isn’t possible. This post was around when we were finishing up our spring semester, so all these are highlights in between the studies! (All our times out on the town in this post were pre-lockdown). First, we started that weekend with some Kodiak Cakes… the pic is pre-syrup. Lotsa lotsa syrup 😉
Fun fact: I often get teased (lovingly) for the way I say “syrup”. I say SEER-up instead of SIR-up. How do you pronounce it? Anyone else out there speak like me with a little extra emphaSEES on the wrong sylLABle?
That afternoon I went out on a beautiful walk and started seeing some spring blooms!
It’s not quite the same as the California blooms, but I’ll take these pops of color! <3
That evening we had a dinner planned. We didn’t know it at the time, but DJ and I met up for what would our very last restaurant outing with friends for a long long time. We had about 1.5 miles to walk to the restaurant, but we don’t mind walking through the city one bit.
We met up with our friends, Alana and Kyle, for some good eats and delicious wine at The Grove (a place highly recommended by my mom and Pete)! The interior here is so stunning.
We sat out on their twinkling patio- a must if you ever go!
We laughed because both us girls ordered the exact same dish (scallops) and both guys ordered the same dish (the Impossible burger).
So thankful for that time with them! Can’t wait to meet up again.
The next day I made some super easy banana pancakes that were sooo dang good. Not sure why we don’t have these more often… especially considering how often our bananas get overripe. And then I throw them in the freezer. And then they never get used. Anyone else just have a lot of never-to-actually-be-used frozen bananas? Also, this is pre-lotsa lotsa SEERUP.
I also baked some “zucchini” chocolate muffins from some random internet recipe that were so tragically bad I ended up throwing them all away. And I’m not picky, but oh wow, these were not great. Don’t trust all you read on the internet, kids… (even recipes).
That week was my last food shoot for mackncheeeesy for a while <3. I have temporarily deactivated the account, but I’m thinking of maybe getting back soon. I do have a lot of good ordered-out eats to share!
Anyway- The food from Muro’s Pizza was delicious & the owners we met were so welcoming and friendly.
You cannot go wrong here. Everything was super yummy, but our favorites were the artichoke dip and the pillowy fries (and the Topo Chico, which we had never had- but holy sparklin’ smokes that is some delish water!!
Now continuing through mid-March:
Around this time I made us a TJ’s impossible burger + caprese salad (although this mozz. was different than the usual I get- but it still worked). One day we plan to do a side-by-side taste comparison of Impossible brand vs. Beyond vs. TJ’s.
For myself I had my go-to stuffed sweet potato with Fage, jalapeños, avocado, beets and hummus. YUM
That same day I went on a nice walk, and saw this gorgeous cascade of flowers outside the YETI store.
To change things up for breakfast one day, I made toast with avocado and hummus & blackberries. I have been on a berry kick this entire summer. We can’t get enough of alll the raspberries/blackberries/strawberries!
That afternoon I was craving a walk. It was a bit rainy out that day, but I was determined, and a little drizzle was not about to deter me that day. I grabbed an umbrella and hit Ladybird lake trail.
It was actually so nice. I loved the calming mist and serene rain. Walking in the rain is so peaceful. I remember around this time listening ferociously to everything I could about the pandemic, but what I remember from this day the most is the sense of stillness and quiet.
That evening I made a mix of Indian food, paratha and okra. The paratha from Trader Joe’s is my favorite. I just made my first trip back there in three months and restocked on a LOT of it, as well as the cauliflower gnocchi and some of their other snacks!
Annnnd that’s a wrap 😉
My rusty bloggin’ fingers love being back to this keyboard!
Question for you:
- Bringing it full circle- what do you think of T. Swift’s new surprise album?