John’s Grill & Final Bridal Shower Touches!

Happy Monday Friends!! Hope all you beautiful mommas had a wonderful day yesterday!!! Y’all are rockstars! I so wish we could have celebrated with our own today– they are truly the most incredible women we know <3

DJ had a long weekend, and we’ve been trying to make the most of it since I start my next semester this week. I am hoping to catch up on posts to present day. I’ve got on NYC Housewives on in the background to keep me company (judge away, lol).

Hur. we. goooo.

On April 26th, I went on a walk in the morning after catching up on some blogs with breakfast and answering e-mails.

44c1119c-16c1-4617-ad25-632d6d3f3d14-1In the afternoon I picked up the final templates from Staples. Here is a preview of the spread- her invitation, bridal shower bingo, and True or False questions about her and her fiancé! I also had wedding movie charades, but wasn’t sure how feasible that would be with space and people moving around. I know when I go to these things I like to just chat and eat, hah.

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So, somewhat funny story- I was at a table with a couple third-grade girls after they finished up their homework, and they were trying to decide what to draw. I asked them what they were doing for Spring Break and one of the girls said going to the beach, so I suggested drawing the beach they imagined. The other girl turned to her and said very seriously, “Make sure to put trash in the ocean so it’s realistic”. I couldn’t help but giggle (although I recognize the seriousness of the issue), but I was sooo taken aback by this third graders concern for the environment. At least they’re learning young!

In the evening, DJ had to work, but I was still excited to enjoy some quiet time at home. Any semblance of down time is about to be a very foreign concept. I decided to make wine from a “Make Your Own Wine” kit we received for Christmas! I had been saving it for a date night, but since we are moving soon (and it takes four weeks to ferment) I figured I should get started so we don’t have to lug it all the way to Texas with us. I put on a podcast and got to work!

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It was a lot of fun to make, although I’m not sure I did it 100% correctly. I couldn’t get the bag of fruit open at the suction cap, so I used a knife- pretty sure that broke sterile field. Oh well! On May 10th, I clarified the wine and in two weeks I will bottle it! This is a great gift- I’m realllly excited to see how it turns out!

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On April 27th I was invited to a food shoot by John’s Grill– one of the oldest restaurants in SF established in 1908. It actually is considered “Home of The Maltese Falcon“— the setting of the novel written by Dashiell Hammett. I’ve never read this literary piece, but after visiting the restaurant I’m adding it to the list. If you’d like to read more about its history and the famous patrons that have visited the restaurant see this link. 🙂

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I went with my friend from my nursing cohort, Cynthia, who lives in the city! You may remember when I last met up with her for some of the best pizza of my life in Noe. Anywho, when we entered the manager kindly walked us over to our seats. Since the meal is complimentary, there is a preset menu of their favorite items! I love this because it helps greatly with my indecision. They did say if there was anything else on the regular menu we wanted to try to let them know which was incredibly generous.

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They even gave us a little keychain gift to take home (it’s in the black bag!).

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We decided on their Private Label Cabernet. At tastings like this usually we get a glass- but this time they gave us the whole bottle! I was excited to take it home to have DJ try some too because it was phenomenal cabernet…Easily some of my favorite house wine I’ve tried!!

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Since there was an option for each course, we opted to each try one of each dish. For starters was Jack Lalanne’s Favorite Salad with seasonal greens, crab, shrimp, avocado, mushrooms and tomatoes tossed in their famous creamy bleu cheese vinaigrette dressing.

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WOW. That salad was fresh as can be!!! The seafood to the avocado was all just bursting with flavor.

And this clam chowder was maybe our favorite of all the food (dessert in a separate category of its own 😉 ). It had a bit of a kick which is a huge plus for a spice-lover like myself. Mmm mm!

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Cynthia tried their New York Steak. It was perfectly done to order.

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I tried a little bite with their peppercorn sauce and their bearnaise sauce… both wonderful accompaniments too.

For my main dish I had the Petrale amandine with sliced almonds and sweet butter sauce. Oh my goodness this was delicious!!! It had a bit too much butter for my personal preference, but the flavor was tremendous and the lemon helped cut the thickness of the butter. I still think the Petrale I had at Alfred’s was better, but this steakhouse overall I prefer.

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The dessert also took the cake!!! (or shall I say cheesecake). Holy. stinking. smokes. This may be my favorite dessert from a restaurant I’ve ever had. The only contenders from another restaurant are the Carrot Cake from Gasoline Alley (A home staple in Ohio that I don’t think anything will ever beat) and the desserts we had in Florida at Il Mulino.

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I have had a craving for really good cheesecake lately, and this 100000% satisfied it. This is as close to legit NY Cheesecake as it comes.

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Now, for this chocolate mousse torte– gooodness gracious- so light, yet rich, decadent, indulgent, and luxuriously delicious.

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We also took a little tour around their upstairs floors where they host parties.

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The history and elegance is enough to make you swoon!

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Such a lovely and delicious meal! Thank you, John’s Grill, for hosting us!

Before heading home I spent some time on the Embarcadero- probably my favorite place to just “be” in the City. I tried to soak up every moment. <3

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On April 29th, I went to Marine Layer on Santana Row in order to participate in their T-shirt exchange Respun program! Thank you tons, Emily for the info! If you turn in 5 shirts, you get $25 of credit in return. It was easy peasy. I was in and out within probably 3 minutes.

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On April 30th I finished getting gifts for the bridal shower. Since it’s a nautical theme I included Mermaid Crunch Popcorn, a water bottle, tropical gummies, and a candle for the game winners (thank you all for your suggestions!). All this is from TJ’s and the candles are from Target!

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For dinner I made purple sweet potato, tofu curry, Fage, and cinnamon.

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Aaaand as promised, I made DJ my homemade chicken curry he loves with jasmine rice and the naan bread from Trader Joe’s.

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Since I was going to be leaving for Ohio, I wanted to make sure DJ had enough in the fridge for the weekend so I made him some healthy pasta to have along with the chicken curry and enough naan bread and rice to feed an army.

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I went on a little walk in the morning of May 1st and loved how these flowers cascaded over the walkway.

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In the afternoon, I made a sweet potato with beets, artichoke hearts, and Fage to enjoy before packing to leave the next day for Cincinnati.

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I’ll recap my sister’s graduation & her shower in the next post!

Questions for you:

  • What is the best, most memorable dessert you’ve ever had (can totally be your own/ a family recipe!).

PS. I am SOOO mad at Dany in GOT. I won’t post spoilers, but if you watched this episode- leave me your thoughts in the comments. I am not about the way she “handled” things.

xo <3

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Kaya Toast & Angel Island!

**I wrote this last Thursday and forgot to publish it- so here it is now!**

Hey friends! I am writing this post from about a million miles in the air. I’m not going to try to estimate exactly how many miles…I have a weirdly comical inability to estimate distance/measurement of any kind. One time I ordered wedding portraits our first year of marriage for a Christmas gift for my in-laws and accidentally ordered a portrait the size of a fireplace. Not. Exaggerating. It was the same size as the fireplace. I cannot be trusted when it comes to numbers.

So, yeah, I’m in an airplane and on Cloud 9- quite literally! I have everything checked off my what seemed endless “to-do” list leading up to this weekend & just caught up on reading posts! A little behind the scenes: I opened up all the new posts to read while I had WIFI on the ground and then am writing my comments in a Word document. When I land & have WIFI again I’ll just copy and paste um’ to the comment section. My favorite way to pass the time on flights 🙂

I downloaded episodes of The OA to get started on, but am in the mood to write at the moment. Traveling makes me extremely productive. I love that there is nothing else vying for your attention- especially when you’re in the air and disconnected from the world- you literally cannot do anything else except what you have right in front of you! And on this flight where I’m squeezed in the middle of two strangers I literally hope I don’t sneeze because I will elbow the person next to me on accident. Also, I hope they aren’t reading this because that’d be awkward?! Oh well!

So after our wonderful Easter (the last one in SF- hard to believe!), the following Monday April 22nd I reset for the week. Since my semester was officially done I had to get to those “back burner” items … you know, the ones that can wait but need to be done at some point: I called our prospective apartment complex to get on a wait-list, worked on stuff for the shower, made lists of what we need to do before moving, cleaned out my car, tried to sign up for the Boston Marathon (I’m having such an issue figuring out the application process- if someone has done it please let me know! It’s so confusing & I can’t seem to actually find a formal registration place or someone I can get in touch with—their customer service line doesn’t lead anywhere and I only get automated e-mails back)… anyways you get the picture.

In the afternoon of the 22nd I went on a little walk (my favorite way to just clear my head as of late- maybe even more than running *gasps from the crowd in the back*). I just loved these beautiful truly vibrant blooms!

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These ones are practically neon!

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Let’s see.. On Tuesday April 23rd, I made DJ some pepper jack stuffed chicken with jasmine rice and corn. I made some vegetarian Indian for myself with jasmine rice and tandoori naan from TJs. DJ had some, but said he preferred his chicken (fine– more veggie curry for me 🙂 ). He also is used to my chicken curry I make for him, so I promised I’d make it sometime soon!

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Wednesday April 24th …. well, I have no pictures, so either I was busy with hum- drum things or I disappeared into a black hole. Who knows.

Thursday April 25th was eventful though!! I woke up around 8, ran outside (it was a glorious morning). Then around 10:30 am my friend Alexandra from my nursing cohort met at our apartment. We took my car into the City (ya know I love driving into the City like a real weirdo)… First stop was BreadBelly. They have a few menu items I discovered through the ol’ I-G that I was itchin’ to try.

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We walked in and to our surprise there was no line, even though it was close to lunch time when we arrived. The place was immaculate. I’m trying to get that YELP elite status, so I wrote a review and will just share it here to give ya the low down. Definitely am going back ASAP!

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I couldn’t finish all the Kaya Toast so I saved it to have again in the morning (and had a cooler with me like I do every time I do when I go into the city so nothing goes to waste)!

We took the Ferry over on the Blue & Gold Fleet located at Pier 41. It was easy-peasy lemon squeezy finding it all. Important note: they do have a specific departure schedule, so it’s important to plan out your day rather than try to catch a Ferry last minute. I was glad we did a bit of research before rather than just winging it.

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The ride over was a bit bumpy, but the views were sooo incredible along the way. We saw some huge homes perched onto an Island in the distance and tried to figure out how they would get their groceries there or what they would do if they ran out of toilet paper.

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When we arrived we could not stop talking about how absolutely gorgeous this island was!! I honestly had no idea what to expect with it; I only knew it was a place on the bucket list I made months ago that we decided would be a fun spot to cross out for the day. Mainly this island is known for its nod to history & awesome hiking.

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Being a couple of nurses, something we both found incredibly fascinating was the fact that it was used to quarantine those with contagious diseases like smallpox, plague, and cholera.

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We went inside the tourist area and read up on some more history. All so interesante!

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Then we took off for our hike! It’s so nice because the hiking begins as soon as you step foot off the Ferry. You don’t have to take a cab or taxi to any spots- you just choose your path and get going!

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The views, the views, the views! This might be one of the most beautiful places you could go in the Bay. We couldn’t stop talking about how breathtaking it was at every turn. Of course, the pictures cannot do justice.

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As we walked along we noticed a little path that lead to some homes. We took it down and realized they were the homes we saw from the Ferry!! They were actually not homes at all, but abandoned barracks. So I guess no one was too concerned how they were gonna get that roll of Cottonelle. There was a baking house too that had literal smoke coming from the chimney! We stepped inside to check it out and walked right into a guided tour- WHOOPS! They were nice about it though and let us snoop around, haha.

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The Ferry ride back was much more smooth, but took longer since we stopped to drop people off at Sausalito and Tiburon.

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Peek of Alcatraz on the way back!

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We had SUCH a blast exploring Angel Island. It’s easily one of my favorite things I have ever done in the city. It’s a cheap activity too- all you have to do is pay for the Ferry. It’d be fun to pack a lunch and take the earlier Ferry out to make a day out of it! But the time we spent there for our festivities was just perfect–We got our history and our hike!

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So you know I don’t do a trip to the city without a food stop 😉 We were going to go to Cotogna, one of Alexandra’s favorites and a place I’ve been dyin’ to try (they have a famous giant ravioli). When we walked in they said the wait was at least 1.5 hours to sit at the bar or would be over three for a table. Thank you, next. We walked along Little Italy and Alexandra got a front row to my indecisiveness in full force, lol. There are SO many good restaurants in Little Italy. We finally settled on Tony’s Pizza… a place some consider the best pizza joint in the City.

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We told our hubs that we’d bring them home dinner, so we ordered three pies that we knew they’d enjoy too! The first was a marg, the second a New Yorker, and the third the Diavola. First up, the Margherita.. this is not just any marg… it  is a world-renowned, award-winning margarita pizza. I gotta say, we were both incredibly underwhelmed. It was extremely doughy and kinda luke-warm (we were sitting out in the freezing cold – the temp dropped quickly, so that may have been part of it!). I asked the waiter if that was normal for it to be like that… he explained the “soupy” doughy nature is a sign of a very authentic marg. Interesting. I absolutely prefer Pizza Antica’s  marg over this ANY day. But different strokes for different folks!

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The second famous one I saw all over the place was their New Yorker. This is one I knew DJ would love cause he loves a meat lovers pizza. I tried one bite with the meat so I could give an objective review before taking the rest of the meat off.. it was great! The crust was nice and crispy on this one. Still don’t prefer meat on my ‘za, but this was DJ’s favorite when I took it home for him.

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Last up was the Diavola. Both Alexandra and I agreed this was the best one of the three!! I tried a bite, and it was tremendous. Their hot sauce is already added to the Diavola, which I think is the main reason it’s such a winner in our books. I’m surprised it didn’t win any actual awards though. After our three slices a piece we tapped out and took the rest to go for our guys.

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And that wraps up one of my favorite days ever in the city. It was soo much fun hanging with Alexandra- we get each other on a kindred level. We’ve been through a lot of similar challenges in life & that first year of nursing bonded us in such a way where she feels like a sister to me. I’m gonna miss this one something fierce. Trying to convince her to move to Austin too 😉

I know this one was wordy,  but I just don’t wanna forget these special details. Thanks for reading!!

Question for you:

  • Do you prefer your pizza crust crispy or doughy?

xo <3

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Abstract Table & Easter in SF!

Hey hey!! I have one more day to catch up on posts before taking off for Ohio! I’ll be MIA till probably mid next week, but can’t wait to catch up on all your happenings then 🙂

After our hike, DJ and I blasted the heat in the car (it was freezin’ out there!) and then headed home to get ready. I was invited to Abstract Table in Oakland to try out their “Atolls” menu complimentarily. I was ecstatic and honored to try it out & really excited DJ could go with me. We made a little date night out of it!

I have never actually drove through downtown Oakland before. I was taking in all the buildings & noting restaurant names as we drove along. “Ohhh, I wanna try that place out sometime!” I probably said five times as we drove along the main drag.

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Abstract Table is located in The Gastropig and has seatings on Friday and Saturday at 6:30 pm/8 pm.

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We opted for the earlier time slot since we live about an hour from Oakland (and so I could get some natural lighting for pics if we’re being real 😉 ).

I love the purpose and inspiration of their menu. Their mission is to bring awareness to the fragility of the coral reefs by bringing innovative, vibrant, and piquantly beautiful flavors and plated dishes to the Bay! You can read about it in detail in the description below.

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The ambiance was super relaxed. It felt rustically casual, yet was clean and bright. They pride themselves on being fine dining, without the pretense and definitely nailed it! Also the menus are cheaper than most fine dining around. It is $50 for the five course or $70 for the seven course.

First, the waiter came out and offered us wines for the evening. Since it was mostly going to be seafood, we opted to try their white wines. I loved it- so crisp, great with the dishes. They served in little mini mason jars- so cute!!

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The first course was an oyster, scallop, squid, leek, citrus and starfruit.

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This is probably one of the most exquisite things I have ever eaten. It was a refreshing beginning to the meal!

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Second Course: Shrimp & scallop dumplings with seaweed caviar, avocado powder, and dashi. They were good, but the best was yet to come!

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Third course: Sea bean, guava, pineapple, black sesame wafer, and chili-yuzu vinaigrette. This was very sweet, but delicious.

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Fourth course: Ashen octopus, chicharron, passion fruit, coconut pearls, and octopus jus. This was yummy! It was incredibly unique with the flavor, but I loved the boldness of the dish.

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Fifth course: Wild boar belly with mango nectar poached carrot, jackfruit kimchi, and plantain puree. I was nervous to eat this whole dish since I don’t regularly eat meat- but I definitely had a few bites to try it out. It was tremendous!!! This was our favorite of the night. I don’t like the taste of meat, but this was so savory, without any dryness at all.

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Sixth Course: Braised goat, pigeon peas, baby greens, kabocha curry, and smoked chili. DJ loved this one! I didn’t care for the goat, but I loveeed the curry and pigeon pea mix.

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Seventh Course: Hawaiian cinnamon buckwheat cake with white chocolate-lime mousse, finger lime, chili sesame sand. Wow oh wow oh wow this dessert was magical!!! We were blown away.

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We are so thankful have tried out this phenomenally constructed and executed menu! Thank you, Abstract Table and Chef Andrew David Greene, for having us!

On the morning of April 21st (Easter), I started the day with some avocado toast with hummus and everything but the bagel seasoning from TJ’s.

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Easter outfit! Deej and I had to drive separately to church because he had to work a bit after.

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We attended a lovely Easter church service and then DJ headed to work for a few hours. When he came home around 1 pm, we zipped up to SF.

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I made us reservations at The Saratoga– A spot I’ve had my eye on for ages!!

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It had a gorgeous industrial interior!

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We started with some mimosa like drinks- both deliciously light, fruity, and not too overwhelmingly sweet.

We mainly wanted to try their Jenga Tots! These were truly tots with cream cheese, smoked salmon, cucumber, capers, and red onion. They were phe-nom-en-al!!! I am obsessed!!! This is a brunch dish at its finest. The actual tots had a wonderfully done crispy exterior with a savory, heavenly potato-ey pillow on the inside. I will dream of this.

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We also tried their mimosa donut. This was a donut with a blood orange glaze and pop rocks. I didn’t notice any pop rock poppin’, but it was still absolutely delicious. I would love to enjoy one of these with coffee in the morning. In most pictures I’ve seen it usually has a more bright red/pink color, so I’m wondering if they did something to change the color for Easter? hmmm. Either way – fantastic donut!

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After our scrumptious brunch, we headed to Ghirardelli square. Deej was having a little itch for one of their famous sundaes. The weather was as wonderful as it comes in the city– Bright, sunny, 70s, and even with the wind, not too cold- but also not too hot.

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It sure was windy though! hehe.

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But where there is wind– might as well take advantage of it for that wind-blown selfie, riiight? 😉

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We made it!

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The line was insanely long. Probably didn’t help that it was a holiday and a weekend. We decided we’d come back on another day.

Instead, we decided to go to the Palace of Fine Arts since I have never been before & it was within walking distance. DJ has been once and said it was definitely worth visiting!

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It was one aesthetically magnificent building. We also saw this little guy swimming around.

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It was much bigger than I expected! I have passed it in the distance many times while driving, but actually seeing it in person was a majestic experience.

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At this point my dogs were barkin’!!! After allll my trips to SF you’d think I’d know which shoes to wear to take on the hills & miles of walking. Well, I completely over-estimated the comfort of the gray booties (my “most comfortable” pair of non-athletic shoes). Fashion or pain? Hard decision, ya know. But next time, I am totally sticking to the Adidas. Learned my lesson!

Since DJ had to work Monday (and we wanted to make sure to make it back on time to see Game of Thrones) we decided to take dinner to go and then just heat it up when we were hungry later. Of course, we had to hit somewhere on the bucket list! Barzotto here we come!

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This is a cute little fast casual Italian restaurant located in the Mission. I have been stalking this specific dish, the snail shells with marinara, ricotta, lemon zest and pepper, for a few months now. We put in our GrubHub order, and it was ready just in time for when we pulled up.

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Even though we took it to go, I told DJ we had to try at least one bite in the car so we could give it a fair evaluation of it fresh from the kitchen. It was soo yummy & actually even better than I expected considering I’m not a huge marinara pasta fan. The lemon zest combined with the soft, creamy ricotta was the most pleasant combination. We finished the rest up that night with other leftovers from the fridge.

When we got home I realized I had a bit of time before Game of Thrones. I did a mini fill-in grocery trip of essentials.

So, little tidbit- DJ doesn’t love going into the city as much as I do (actually… he doesn’t really prefer it), so the fact that he took the whole afternoon after working on one of his only days off (and the day before) to go with me meant a ton <3 As I was driving home I passed by CREAM and decided to surprise DJ with some as a little thank you! (And because I felt bad the line was soo long at Ghirardelli).

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Chocolate on Oreo on Chocolate! Not exactly a Ghirardelli Sundae, but a close second 🙂

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And that wraps up our Easter!

Question for you:

  • Ok, so T-Swift dropped her new song last week. Would love to hear your thoughts. I thought it was ‘aight. Very happy, upbeat- definitely a “bop”. The “Spelling is fun” part took me aback a bit (it sounded like a movie soundtrack for a kids movie IMO). The actual music video was mesmerizing! I loveeeed that she collaborated with Brendon Urie. Their voices together was pure magic.

xo <3

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Ramen Nagi & Castle Rock!

Hi All!!! I am stilll SHOOKETH from the Game of Thrones episode last night. *Spoiler alert* –There was one point where I was saying to DJ, “There is NO possible resolution from this- they are all deeeaad”! And then Arya jumped in and saved the freaking day, my giiiiirl.

What a phenomenally done episode.

Anyway– Jumping straight into these highlights from the last couple weeks because I have got to hustle to get these recaps done before leaving Thursday for OH for my sister’s graduation and bridal shower. Woohooo! I cannot wait.

April 15th I went to Nosh to work on school assignments and plan out the next couple months.

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In the afternoon I went on a walk to shake off the cobwebs from staring at a screen all morning.

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Lately, I have been trying to diligently use up everything in our fridge and pantry before going back to the store (as I’ve said about five hundred times; don’t mind my broken record self). Since we don’t want to lug a bunch of dry goods to Austin with us, we’ve been having the dressings/dry goods inspire our meals. It’s been pretty successful and a fun challenge! However, once the fridge started looking like this I bit the bullet and went to the store.

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A girl can only eat frosting and chocolate milk for breakfast so many days in a row…I kid, I kid 😉 But I was craving a raw vegetable.

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It was a pretty large trip! The guy at Trader Joe’s said, “You having a party?” as he scanned my three large hummus quartets. I said, no I just really like hummus, haha.

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While at TJs, I saw the Tomato & Olive Focaccia and couldn’t resist.

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I made a Margherita pizza on it with some fresh basil straight from the plant. Mmm mm! It was delicious- although I still prefer thin crust at the end of the day.

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I also ate up soo many large salads that week- I was craving them somfin’ fierce and was ecstatic to enjoy so many fresh veggies.

On the morning of April 16th, I woke up to a beautiful, sunny morning!

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I went to pick up my bridesmaid dress from David’s Bridal and to get it fitted. You know what’s wild?! My alterations were more than the dress itself! Anyone else have tips for the future on what to do about more affordable alterations? Is it better to go elsewhere? Is David’s Bridal known for having pricy alterations or is that how it is everywhere?

Once I was home, I decided to meal prep for DJ for the week. I made these fajita steak bowls with cilantro lime rice from Diane’s blog served with some Chimichurri sauce I’ve had sitting in the pantry begging to be used. He liked them a lot & they made for a great dinner through the week.

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April 17th was the official last day of the semester (before finals- but I lucked out with not having any this semester?! I don’t know how, but I won’t argue with it!). In the afternoon I whipped together one of my favorite lunches of late with purple sweet potato, Fage, tzatziki, green goddess dressing, boca crumbles and almond mozzarella cheese.

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I ran in the afternoon & lifted some weights. It was a great workout- fueled by the elation of surviving another semester of grad school.

On April 18th, I snap-shotted my meal that I’ve had on repeat for breakfast the last couple months: Avocado smoothie with oatmeal + stevia and some vegan chocolate chips. This is kind of odd, but I actually like pouring the smoothie onto the oatmeal before eating it– it kind of has that cold overnight oat effect.

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In the afternoon I worked on some templates for Bridal Shower games. The last thing I have on my list is figuring out gifts for winners of the games- any ideas?

On April 19th we received the sweetest little Easter surprise in the mail from my MIL <3 <3

See the pretzels below? They are the best pretzels I have e’errrrr tried. They are MAGIC. They are cinnamon greek yogurt covered pretzels. They are flavor explosions in the mouth! I put them in the freezer and treat myself to a little handful here and there. SO stinking good.

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In the evening we went to Ramen Nagi for a long overdue double date with our friends Tammy and Ben. Ramen Nagi is a super authentic Ramen spot that people have been raving about for months. The line is always at least 45 minutes long!

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First, you choose which Ramen Flavor you’d like and then choose your soup “setting” (saltiness, oil, garlic), toppings, spice, noodles and then any extras.

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The wait went by quickly for us since we had soo much to catch up on.

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I loved all the fixin’s in the middle of the table, especially the little rice noodles.

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We tried a couple appetizers- the rice and edamame. Both scrumptious!

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Whatever seasoning they put on the edamame is out of this woooorld.

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Tam ordered the Red King- I think their most popular dish— “A striking blend of garlic, chili oil, and cayenne pepper in a velvety broth; topped by a tempting ball of miso-infused minced pork and select Nagi cayenne,with tender Cha-shu”. I tried some of the broth and me oh my was it delish!

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DJ ordered their Original King with “award-winning tonkotsu pork-broth prepared in the traditional method, mouth-wateringly rich, fresh, and aromatic; special handcrafted noodles and classic Nagi pork Cha-shu”.

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He loved it- I liked it- but my personal fav was the Veggie King!! “Savory Japanese soup stock expertly blended with cauliflower purée, featuring hashed potato “chashu” and accented with shiitake mushrooms and spinach; Nagi’s amazing vegetarian ramen”.

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I could not get over how insanely yummy this was…. I expected to like this place, but this is one of the most savory, comforting, satisfying meals I have ever enjoyed. To say it surpassed my expectations would actually be an understatement. It blew my expectations out of the water. Or should I say out of the Ramen! I ordered it extra spicy. One of the workers suggested I not get it as spicy as I put on my paper, so I took his opinion and changed my number down. I kinda wish I had kept it at my original spice (a 7)… but the 5 still had a nice kick! I also added extra dried mushrooms + cabbage. Also, whatever the hash potato cakes were may have been my favorite part of the whole dish!! They were so crisp and held up well absorbing the broth but maintaining their crunch! **all these exclamation points are entirely warranted**.

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It was such a fun double date! Love hanging with Ben + Tammy.

On Saturday, April 20th, DJ had to work the whole morning, but in the afternoon we went to Castle Rock State Park for a hike. This was a place on my bucket list. DJ is a bit skeptical that I can hit everything on the bucket list before we leave. I am blindly optimistic though. hahah. Meaning….

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In all seriousness, I know some of the food places will have to wait probably years, especially the fine dining- but I’m hoping to make a serious dent in the fast casual spots and hiking.

Anywho… where were we? Oh yes yes, Castle Rock–

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They have boulders you can climb on- soo much fun. It reminded me of a place called Whips Ledges that we used to go all the time growing up in OH.

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There is a peak and also waterfalls, but we were a bit low on time because I had a food shoot in the evening to attend. It was a blast just climbing all over the rocks. Hiking is one of my alll time favorite things to do and when climbing is thrown in- nothing better!

Questions for you:

  • Have you tried authentic Ramen? Do you like it?
  • Are you on the GOT bandwagon? Who do you think ends up on the throne?

xo <3

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The Best Brunch in SF & Flor De Cafe!

I gotta tell ya what. Spring has not always been my favorite time of year. For years, I have had some pretty intense SAD. So usually by the time Spring rolls around I’m not in the best state, and I feel like I’m mentally/emotionally “defrosting” from a long winter. It is the time of year I usually associate with energy depletion, apathy in full force, and stunted motivation. It traditionally isn’t until Summer that I feel I have my full mojo back. However, since moving to CA, I have grown to just love & relish in the spring time. I love the blooms, the sunshine, and the hope/renewed excitement that accompanies this time of the year. This might be my favorite spring so far too… I am soaking up every last second of living here, and really just trying to be ever present, finding the beauty in every single moment.

I’m still catching up on the recap, but I’m closing in on only being a week behind. We’re making strides here, people, making strides. On Saturday April 13th, I spent the day catching up on blogs/finishing up some school assignments for the semester- same ol’ same ol’. In the evening I made a mix of mixed veggies, lots of Morningstar vegan crumbles, and green goddess dressing. Mmm!

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As I have been trying to use up all our dry goods, I decided to use up a gargantuan bag of black beans that have been sitting in the pantry for a while. I made these black beans brownies from Chocolate Covered Katie and love them!!! You’d never know they were made with black beans. They are also vegan and gluten free! I actually have been eating these some days in the morning with my avocado smoothie instead of my oats. I have such a sweet tooth in the morning some days.

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On April 14th, I woke up around 5:45 am, ran about 7 miles, then headed to Nosh to grab a coffee since I was out of coffee at home.

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Time to drive into the city!!!

This ring I’m wearing below is one of my favorites because it belonged to my Nana. It has such special sentimental value & she had such a spectacular eye for fash-un. It makes me feel close to her whenever I wear her gems <3

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First stop was Brenda’s French Soul Food for some brekky. My SIL and foodie/exploration partner in crime, Amy, joined me. What am I gonna do without her when we move?! I’m seriously trying to convince her to move to Austin with us.

Anywho, Brenda’s is the most frequently reviewed place on YELP in SF and has been one of those places that I “MUST” try before we move.

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I appreciate how they so clearly lay out the “House Rules”. I dropped Amy off to put our name on the list before finding parking, but as I drove around I realized we were in the Tenderloin- probably the most dangerous area in SF. After she put our name on the wait list, I called her and then picked her back up so we could find parking together.

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The wait was not bad at all! Rumor has it that you will wait at least 45 minutes no matter when you come, but we waited maybe 20? It was not bad!

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The interior was amazing. I expected it to be more grungy- but it was clean, fun, upbeat, polished. I forgot to get a pic, but one of the walls were entirely made up of mirrors (you can see them on the YELP page if interested).

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The way they put the silverware in the coffee canister reminded me of Cafe Du Monde! 

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Amy ordered their famous Molasses-Black Walnut Iced Coffee with Whipped Cream!

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To start we ordered beignets.

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Okay y’all. These were out. of. this. world. I am adding these to my list of “must try” dishes in San Francisco. The flight includes one plain, one apple, one Ghirardelli chocolate filled, and one crawfish.

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The Ghirardelli was DJ’s favorite (I brought him back some to try!). I liked it for sure- but it was more of a rich dessert than breakfast item for me.

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My favorite was the crawfish. Not even exaggerating- this is easily one of the best things I have ever eaten.

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My second favorite were the Granny Apple Smith. Oh my gosh, these were phenomenal.

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And even the plain ones held my attention. These were, without any question, the best beignets I have ever had. They were even better than Cafe Du Monde’s in New Orleans (which I did not think lived up to the hype).

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Oh, and you bet we ordered more! Amy tried their Croque Monsieur with baked ham and swiss with bechamel sauce on sliced sourdough. I tried the cheese with the bread and that alone- holllly smoke-a-roonies. I cannot handle- so yummy.

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I ordered the shrimp & grits to take home for DJ. I knew this was a dish he’d enjoy! I tried a little nibble before packaging them up & they were just WOW. Mind blowingly good- although Patty O’s may have them beat!

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I ordered their shrimp & goat cheese omelette with caramelized onions and a tomato relish. I don’t know what the heck made this so good, but it was one of my favorite omelettes I’ve had in my entire life. Also, their potatoes are uniquely delicious & the biscuit was warm, doughy, obnoxiously good.

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They even have a homemade strawberry jam on the table with whole strawberries and a perfect jam on the biscuit.

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One of … no no no, THE best brunch I have had in the Bay. If you have to eat at one place for breakfast while visiting SF, this is your spot!

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After we went back to Amy’s for a beat, and I got to see my fav little pups- Gravy & Pool Noodle <3

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We then headed to a shoot for the day!

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This shoot was for Flor de Cafe. They reached out to me on Instagram, asking if I would come in for a shoot in exchange for their famous sandwich! I obliged happily 🙂

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This cute little Cafe is owned by a man from Chile & his wife from Southern Columbia. Their story is inspiring & beautiful. She actually does all the artwork for the cafe!

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I met the Chef and owner, Hernan- seriously such a nice guy! He was so welcoming & kind. Time to get to the photo shoot. So the reason this place is oh so special is because they serve the only Lomito sammy in the entire Bay Area. The Bay serves everything so the fact that the Lomito is only served here is a purrrrty big deal.

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This spectacular sandwich is made with two day marinated pork, mayo, avocado, sauerkraut all on ciabatta bread. Y’all know I will eat meat when DJ says something is a must-try or there is something soo good I can’t pass it up. This was one of those times! I took a big bite of that lomito, and let me tell ya- even for someone who doesn’t like meat, this sammy was excellent. I brought home the rest for DJ and he LOVED it.

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So much fun getting taking these pics– Also major thanks to Amy for her help with this shoot- she really has an eye for food photography!

Have a great rest of your week, y’all!

Question for you:

  • What’s your favorite comfort food dish?

xo <3

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**Thank you for the Lomitos & having us in, Tim, Hernan, & Flor De Cafe!**

Lotsa PB Toast & Culinary Corner Bistro!

This past week was so busy, but sooo much fun. I can’t wait to share everything. So April 8th, I whipped up some fish/quinoa/roasted eggplant for myself and some tacos for DJ. Both I have posted more than a zillion times so I’ll spare ya the pics.

BUT what is picture worthy are our severely undercooked tollhouse chocolate cookie gems! MM mm! Peep mega cookie in the background 😉

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April 9th after working on some big school assignments, I made a combo of tuna, quinoa, mixed veggies, and spicy mustard. Deej had his taco leftovers.

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April 10th, I woke up with some avocado toast/homemade hummus/tabasco while reading some blogs on the balcony.

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While reading y’alls posts I got hungry again, naturally- so I made some PB toast with honey. I had to rip this massive piece of bread to fit in the toaster, that’s why it looks attacked, lol.

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I worked on some school assignments at Nosh, and nibbled on a kiwi and more PB toast. I’m on a PB Toast kick ever since Trouble Cafe.

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In the evening we had a women’s conference at church, and since I was helping with Welcome team we had to be there at 5:15. So, it was either eat dinner at 4:45 or wait until 9:30 pm. Definitely going with 4:45! I made a massive omelette to get lotsa protein with mixed veggies, quinoa, and salsa.

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The treats they had for the guests were adorable!! I mean look at those macarons!

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The whole outside patio of the church was set up for super cute photo ops for the attendees.

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Such a great night praising Jesus with some amazing sisters in Christ <3

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On Thursday April 11th, Deej was out of his overnight oats, so I made him eggs, bacon, and PB toast with honey. This meal was very much inspired by Maureen– she always makes yummy looking eggs & toast in the AM!

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And whaddya know I made a slice of PB toast for myself as well! Once again, had to rip the bread to fit in the toaster. (It was bread from a client of DJs and OH so good!).

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For dinner I whipped up an omelette again and put some green goddess dressing from TJ’s on top. I put that stuff on everything lately. So good!

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In the evening I treated myself to a bath with these bath bombs from artnaturals. They smell wonderful, but still nothing beats a Lush bath bomb!

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I do love that each bath bomb has a separate purpose- for example one is for strength, one for energy, and one for calmness.

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For breakfast on April 12th, I made steel cut oats with mixed berries, protein powder, vegan chocolate chips and some whipped cream. mmm! I’ve been eating this on repeat for breakfast the last week.

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And I made DJ his overnight oats so he wouldn’t have to worry about it when he came back from work. This had steel cut oats, milk, honey, Natural PB from Jif, and a dash of vanilla.

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In the afternoon I went on a beautiful walk around the neighborhood.

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For lunch I made toast with avocado, egg whites, almond cheese, and green goddess dressing.

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I then got dressed and ready for a foodie event–I painted my nails too! Time to brighten it all up for spring!

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The place I went this night was Culinary Corner Bistro in San Jose. The owners and chef were incredibly kind & fun! They wanted us to get new menu photos for them and just to promote the restaurant in general. They were cracking up at how often we moved dishes to get the perfect lighting and we even went outside at one point to make a spread on the ground. More on that to come 😅

Culinary Corner Bistro is a pan-pacific asian inspired fast-casual restaurant that has options for everyone from omnivore to vegan.

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They had such nice little set up for all of us!!

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I’m telling ya- the hospitality was spectacular. Time to get to the food.. whaddya think?

First up- their Crispy Peppercorn Wings with caramelized fish sauce! I didn’t sample these, but everyone raved about them.

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Next: Crab Cakes with crab meat, Japanese ginger, and sriracha aioli. These were SO tasty. I love crab cakes, but usually when they are too “fried” I don’t like them. Although these were fried, the inside crab flavor was fantastic- so savory. I could have ate this whole dish.

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These ahi tuna rolls with mango, avocado, cucumber, with wasabi-ginger soy sauce were some of my favorite! They were wonderfully fresh, had a tiny sweetness with the mango, and the sauce was really yummy. The bites were small enough that you didn’t have to worry about them falling apart- can I get an Amen, Hunida?!

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These truffle sweet potato fries below were really yummy! I wouldn’t say they were my favorite sweet potato fries I have ever had, but they were still great. The sauce with them was a scrumptious accompaniment.

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So this Thai mango papaya salad with daikon, carrot, and basil with Thai sauce is something I could eat every single day. It was so light, refreshing, but with so much citrus and sweet flavor and a satiating crunch.

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Where my meat lovers at? If you go, you have got to try the Grilled New York Steak Pho with Bone Marrow. I am convinced bone marrow is one of the tastiest things you can eat on earth- so needless to say this was PHOnomenal. I tried some of the broth & noodles- and it was mighty good.

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The dish on the top is the shaken filet mignon with angus filet wok seared with brandy, red onions, and butter, which people absolutely loved. The dish on the bottom is the BBQ boneless short rib with a lemon fish sauce. I tried some veggies from the boneless short rib and the sauce tasted far too heavy on the sodium for my liking- I’d veer away from that one – it overpowered the flavor. Many of their other menu items are much more fresh & well rounded with herbs and natural flavors.

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One of my two favorite dishes of the night is this mahi mahi below with grilled pineapple and mango salsa. It blew. me. away. SO Good.

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And for my favorite dish- the pan seared salmon with garlic noodles and seasonal veggies. The garlic noodles were to die for. And the salmon was perfectly crisped skin with an explosion of herbs and deliciousness.

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I think y’all will get a kick out of this. In order to get a picture of the full spread, we took all the dishes outside because we liked the look of the flooring. Here’s a little behind the scenes…

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Time for the full spread!

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**I wrote this earlier in the week & just realized it was published on Good Friday!!!  <3 Hope you have a lovely Easter weekend, friends, praising Jesus for His unfathomable love and sacrifice <3 To Him be the Glory!**

Question for you:

  • Weekend plans?

xo <3

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**Thank you to Tiffi Hung & Hung Tu for hosting us! And to Michelle for inviting us!**

A Basic Bae Day in the Bay!

Hi hi my friends!! I just submitted my last assignment for the semester! Woooohoooo! Wow, this one flew. I have a couple week breather before starting a pretty intense semester- getting into the nitty gritty of my advanced nursing courses with advanced patho and phys. I’m really excited about this next course, but a touch nervous considering we have a huge move, my sister’s bridal shower, bachelorette party, and wedding all within a couple month span. All great things- but I just hope I find a way to stretch each day time wise.

ANYWHO, talk about digression right off the bat… lol.

This post is all from Sunday April 7th. Tammy and I made a whole day out of exploring SF!

I do have to add an asterisk to this post. **It was a Basic Bae day in the Bay minus one. We missed our Dani dearly. It was not complete without all three of the Basic Baes of the Bay trio, but was still one of my all time favorite days exploring SF!

I woke up around 6:00 am and ran about 7 miles. Tammy met me at our apartment then we drove down gorgeous 280 into the city.

We arrived around 9 am after the hour drive. Parking is always the most difficult part of navigating the city, so I dropped Tammy off to get our names on the wait list at Zazie– the brunch spot we chose to try!

It took me a looong time to find parking, but finally I found a spot near this school with a eye-catching mural.

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Time to walk, walk, walk

Hope I don’t get mugged.

Walk, walk, walk.

Made it!

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We ate in their main restaurant, but they have a serenely beautiful back garden area you can dine in too! We were more eager to get food rather than wait longer for a garden spot haha.

4cf585d6-c6ba-4b2d-a0fd-9202d8a2abf1a67eef91-bb12-4c51-9e40-37b58891de7fZazie is considered one of the best brunch spots in SF. They are a french inspired restaurant known for their awesome Benedicts, french toast, and pancakes. They have miracle pancakes which are rotated every few weeks too! I would like to go back and try those at some point- they have a lemon curd one, but they weren’t serving it while we were there.

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Rarely do I go to a breakfast spot where the coffee blows me away… but I took one sip of this, and it was so smooth and scrumptious.

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Tammy enjoyed their yummy chai tea latte.

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We split two dishes- first up was the La Mer with hand picked California Dungeness crab, avocados, and chives. I honestly didn’t think anything could top Bill’s Benedicts– but this is a serious contender. You guys, this is maybe the best Benedict I’ve ever had in my entire existence. HOLY STINKIN’ COW. I don’t know what they put in it- but wow. And the potatoes are even served with whole garlic cloves.. the whole dish is a flavor explosion.

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We also ordered the gingerbread pancakes with lemon curd and Bosc pears. It was one of the items people raved about on Yelp, and I totally see why ! They were super satisfying- they reminded me of fall <3 *Sigh*- is is fall yet? Lol. The combo of the ginger/lemon/pear was wonderful. I will say I am more of a thinner pancake fan, so the actual texture was a bit too fluffy for my personal preference, but the flavor was so good I would eat them in any way, shape, or form! Also a fun fact about Zazie- they do not accept tips because the “tip” is worked into the original price. They provide their employees the following from their website: “a living wage, revenue share, paid family leave, fully funded health & dental insurance, paid time off, and a 401(k) with employer match for all of our hard working employees”. How cool is that? I wish all restaurants did this. 

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After our wonderful brunch we hiked Marin Headlands for a bit.

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These views never get old. The Golden Gate suddenly appeared in the distance.

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We killed time until we were able to see the Point Bonita lighthouse, the last manned lighthouse on the Californian coast! It is only open on Sundays and Mondays for a short window of time (only about three hours). Around 12:30 we headed over- right when it opened. On our way, we took in the sights and lovely blooms.

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On the way they had “cell audio stops” where you could call a number and hear fun tidbits about the place you were viewing.

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If you look very closely you will see the path to the lighthouse in the picture below and the tunnel that crosses straight through the mountainous landscape to get there.

The tour guide was a sweet older man that volunteered for the park- his last name was “Van Winkle” which we found so endearing. About five minutes before it “opened” he gave us a bit of the history about the lighthouse which was so fascinating. They actually do not know who hand carved the tunnel to get to the lighthouse- its all a bit of a mystery!

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Time to cross through the tunnel! I was a bit nervous knowing we had to go through a tunnel since I am mildly claustrophobic, but it was wide enough that I was just fine.

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What awaited us on the other side was this breathtaking, unreal lighthouse. I mean the pictures cannot even fully capture the beauty!

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Time to cross the bridge!

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We walked around, read a bit of the history on the inside of the lighthouse, and enjoyed the spectacular views.

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LOVE this pic of Tammy- she’s so photogenic.

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Time to hike on back to the car.

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Back through the tunnel..

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The Marin Headlands area has got to be one of the most breathtakingly beautiful areas in the Bay. On our way out we spotted a mini super bloom (is that an oxymoron?). We wouldn’t be able to call ourselves the Basic Baes if we didn’t pull over and grab some pics with all the poppies! We were surprised we were the only ones there?!

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Frolic, frolic, frolic.

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A little lady bug joined in on the photo shoot 🙂

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Naturally, we were hungry again- so we browsed spots in the city to check out. Tammy stumbled across The Dorian– a placed I’d wanted to try for a while too! Even from the outer decor this place was a winner.

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Inside was decorated with an ode to the 19th century, but somehow maintained modern Californian vibes.

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Tammy ordered their famous Frose (Yes, it is topped with nerds!), and I had a glass of their regular Rose.

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We also split a couple deviled eggs (I just took off my little bacon bit).

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We also were craving oysters, so we split some on the half shell. I loved the fixin’s they served it all with- it all just hit the spot. Perfect to “cool down” after our high energy explorations.

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And saving the best for last- Stonemill Matcha *Heart eyes heart eyes heart eyes*.

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We ordered a whole bunch to sample and just took home all leftovers since we were heading home after.

To start with- the black sesame puff!

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Mmm mmm! This was fantastic! The texture… flavor… just satiating. The next day I had the second half with coffee- perfect combo!

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The main thing I wanted to try here was the matcha creme pie. It surpassed expectations. WOW-ZA. It was creamy & fluffy, full of flavor, and insanely delicious.

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The next dish I couldn’t help but try because of its true uniqueness was the Matchazuke. This is made with rice, salmon, nori, green onion, and a matcha dashi (Japanese type soup). I had no clue what to expect, but this was magnificent. The combination of the flavors made this one of my favorite salmon dishes I have ever had.

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Tam ordered their famous Katsu Sando- Look at that hearty pork slice!

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She also ordered the pork gyoza, which she raved out! It was served generously with rice, miso soup, and pickled cabbage.

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The spread!

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While walking back to our car, we saw another eye catching mural we had to stop and admire.

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We also passed a dog park and stopped to watch the pups play before heading home.

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Thanks for reading!

Questions for you:

  • I’d love to hear a highlight of your life right now!
  • What is something you are looking forward to?

xo <3

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Cavs Game & Hiking & A Giant Soft Pretzel!

Hey hey!! I have set aside this Saturday to put my feet up, make no plans, and catch up on blogging/editing pics from some foodie jobs. The baseball season just started for Deej, so unfortunately he’ll be MIA a whole bunch (He’s a marketing manager for a local team & when they’re in season, he works many days 7/8 am- 11 pmish). But I’m excited that this season is shorter for us this year since he’ll be done come July for the move!

Alright, well let’s playyyy ballllll!

Thursday April 4th, I woke up with some coffee, an avocado smoothie, and some oats with vegan chocolate chips.

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I tried to get some assignments turned in, then headed out for a walk to shake off the cobwebs. It looked like it was about to storm the whole time, but I was willing to risk it.

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In the evening I made some tilapia, quinoa, broccoli, & roasted eggplant.

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Friday, April 5th was the same to start the day, but then for lunch I had an open faced tuna sammy with mustard, onion, cabbage mix and almond mozzarella cheese. This was one of the we-are-down-to-the-bare-bones groceries- what can I make out of what we have left? This may be a contender for the usual lunch rotation! I made it for lunch for a couple days after this too.

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In the evening, we headed to the Cavs vs. Warriors game! On the way I ate a buddha bowl of quinoa, vegan crumbles, almond mozz cheese, cabbage mix, and green goddess dressing. I ate it cold since I made it earlier and packed it in a freezer bag to eat right before we went into the game (with traffic it would take 1.5 hours at least to get there). It was sooo delicious cold – I especially loved the “meat & cheese” cold like that. Gonna have to make this again.

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We have a good friend from home who plays on the Cavs, so we love seeing him play whenever he’s close to town. We got to catch up after the game a bit too! DJ made the game in Sacramento the night before, but I couldn’t tag along with the homework load.

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Deej got hungry during the game and grabbed some chicken tenders and fries. These fries were sooooo goooooood. I don’t know how they make them, but they were almost buttery & just crispy perfection.

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On Saturday April 6th I was craving that Toast from Trouble Cafe. Well, since driving over an hour plus rush hour wasn’t exactly practical, I tried to recreate my own. I actually made it more of a french toast to incorporate a little protein! I used Artesano bread, egg, and then topped with some vegan butter & tons of cinnamon. I did end up putting some delicious cinnamon vanilla syrup on too for good measure 🙂

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On my walk that day, the flowers seemed to have really bloomed over night!! My camera couldn’t even keep up with all the spectacular blooms!

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DJ had the evening off, so we were excited to spend the rest of the day together. Since the weather was so inviting we decided on a hike & dinner. Before the long drive to East Bay we stopped for gas. I grabbed some of this Air Heads gum just to see what it was all about- and it is actually quite tasty. The flavor doesn’t last long, but it was a fun find!

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Time to hike Sunol Regional Wilderness. There is a small $5 fee to enter, but there is plentiful parking (a big deal around here) & the hike is well worth it.

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Now lemme tell ya – sure, ya gotta keep an eye out for those mountain lions & rattlers (I know from experience), but what you really need to look out for are the massive cow pies. There is one about every couple feet!

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We just chose a random path and began our ascent. I don’t really care to look at maps, hence why I have gotten lost on paths more times than I can count. I like to think I have a great internal compass, but I think DJ would argue it’s just plain broken, hahah.

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I have always adored rolling hills- and this place was full of them. They are so calming to me & the expansive undulating green makes me want to frolic just all day long in um’. We could not get over how beautiful it all was.

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We even saw this cute little cactus patch. Not something you see everyday up here in NorCal!

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*Swoon*

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We were able to get up close to the grazing cows.

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^^ This guy was not too happy about it. Lol.

But happy happy campers we were.

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My favorite part of it all was just our conversation. Even though we’ve been together since 2010, I still love learning about DJ. I love picking his brain, hearing his thoughts/opinions/perspectives. Since life has been so busy we haven’t had much time to just chit-chat about everything, so it was treasured time.

After that hike we had worked up quite the appetite! We decided to go to BottleTaps which was right down the road to knock off a bucket list foodie item.

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Since it was such a lovely evening we decided to sit outside. Such a great, relaxing vibe. It reminded me a lot of the brewery we went to with my mom and Pete in Roanoke.

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They brought out their menus and their beers on tap were listed on an Ipad.