Friday Faves # I’m not sure, I’m running late for work and want to get this published!

Happiest of ALL Fridays, to youuuuu! I woke up a FULL five minutes extra this AM to try to whip out a Friday Faves post with just a few things I have been loving this week!

  1. ONE Bars. Since No Cow and I are having a bit of strife, I decided to give these little sons of a guns a go. And hot DANG. They are so tasty. The birthday cake, lemon, or MAPLE DONUT will not let you down. I’m eating one literally as we speak (aka I type). You can buy them at Amazon or the big protein shops like Vitamin Shoppe/GNC.


2. I knowwww quotes are A. Pretty cheesy and B. Pretty Basic, but you C… I’m both those (at least I’m self aware), but naturally I love them. I saw this quote in a little boutique I strolled into this week. It hit home with me, especially with how this past year has been. I would not have had any strength to make it through without the support of DJ, friends, family, and y’all. Then with the second part, the reason I go into nursing everyday is to love people. It is ultimately the reward to love and to show love that is the driving force and fuels me with courage every day I step foot on the floor.


3. Ok, SnarkyNurses may be my favorite nurse Instagram account. It is the perfect amount of sarcasm, a bucket of truth, and has those gems of, “We all think it, but no one says it”. Gosh, I LOVE it.


4. Lately I have been loving the Chill Hits station on Spotify. I decided to just put it on while cleaning one day and cannot get enough. I always avoided it while working out and whatnot because it didn’t seem the right fit, but I was so wrong. It is absolutely my new favorite workout playlist. I also like listening to it at night when I’m reading.


5. Dis Eggplant Hummus from Trader Joe’s doe. Baba or hummus?! How about both! My new obsession (overused word, but I mean it here… ooooob to the sessssssssed).


6. Pink Himalayan Salt. I found this little guy in TJ Maxx, and love love love. I used to live and breathe sea salt, but this is next level. Plus, it has quite a few health benefits  (Ps. I don’t know if that’s a reputable source, but we’ll go with it)! Needless to say, I am so-dium pleased with it…. *crickets* …


7. While we are talking all things Himalayan, because that’s just your standard run of the mill convo, DJ and I are OBSESSED (gosh dang it, stop overusing that) with Himalayan Kitchen… a tremendous Indian food joint we found in Sunnyvale. Indian food is my faveeee, and I was having a massive craving the other night. HK has the BEST curry dishes, and they are spicy to the point where it is ALMOST too spicy,  but not quite which is exactly right. DJ goes for the Chicken Tikka Masala, and I ventured away from my usual Palak Paneer and tried their Shrimp Curry. And Naan… Heaven, just heaven. I have a theory that naan was the mana God sent down from Heaven.


8. the Skimm! If you don’t read anything else on this post READ THIS!!!!!! the Skimm is my lifesaver. There are so many current events happening it’s hard to keep up and read everything. the Skimm is a free e-mail service that send you the skimmed version of all news M-F. It breaks it all down in an easy to understand, and fun to read format. Use the  link below to subscribe! I have been using this since the middle of college, and have it to thank for my somewhat elementary understanding of what is happening up in here.



9. Baked By Melissa Cupcakes. Shoot I was supposed to leave for work two minutes ago. Ah! We had these sweet goodies delivered for Valentine’s Day and holy maloly cupcakes… these are the cutest little cupcakes with the most massive embodiment of flavor. SERIOUSLY the best cupcakes I think I’ve ever had.


10. Last but not least, I can’t believe I haven’t shared with y’all that I finally have a running watch, the Vivoactive Garmin! I used to have the Forerunner, but I lost it a few months after we moved out here (the black hole of California). I LOVE this watch, it’s super easy to use for a technology novice like myself, and has everything I could want in a watch. It links with an app on the phone for accurate tracking too.


(There are probably a ton of typos up in here right now… don’t mind them. Ok time to go run around like a chicken with its head cut off for 12 hours! Seeeee yaaaaa!)

xo ❤


Valentine’s Day on Top of a Mountain

Hello, hello! Happy Thursday (maybe Friday) to you all! I am sitting here all cuddled up in my the coziest of all blankets and do not intend to get off the couch all day. I always say that, but I go stir crazy after a couple hours. (edited in note: I put in a good three couch potato hours…better than normal!).

Anyways, I have some updates, that you probably saw a sneak peak of if you follow me on Instagram!

This past week has been crazy busy & stressful- but oh so GOOOD! February 7th I started my day with some delicious yogurt toast and a protein bar (no cow).


I’m pretty peeved because No Cow just changed their formula, and I do. not. like. it *toddler stomping feet*. I am clinging to the last few of the old ones I have, but they are quite evasive now. Has anyone tried the new formula? What are your thoughts?


I LOVE THE GRIT! It’s what made it perfect with a cup of joe. Ah, No Cow, breaking my heart.

At about 10 am, I met my sweet, fellow nurse, friend from Church, Kim for some coffee in Campbell. Barefoot Coffee is some of my favorite around.


She’s too stinking cute!


We had such wonderful & much needed conversation (& venting). It’s so nice to talk to someone who just “gets it”. I am very thankful for her ❤

The rest of the night I spent prepping for my interview. Unfortunately, that night my laptop stopped working. Good timing for an upcoming online interview, huh?

That meant February 8th I went straight to the Genius Bar, praying to God that this was a salvageable issue.


While my computer was being worked on, I trotted down Santana Row to try to get some fresh air to calm my nerves.


Thankfully, it was an easy fix! We are back in business, baby!

I scrounged up what little was left of the day to meal prep for the weekend, prepped for the interview, and focus on staying calm stocked up on more brown paper bags.

I had a hard time focusing with three days of work staring me in the face. Lemme just say, in nurse world 2 days vs. 3 days is a tremendous difference. Friday, the 9th– Sunday the 11th were some of the most challenging shifts I’ve had, acuity wise and emotionally.

Every morning feeeelz….

…. Hopefully we can get both eyes open by the time we pull into the hospital.


I kept it together for the most part and can see how much I have grown in one year. I would have fallen apart at the seams last year with this assignment. Still, when Monday rolled around, it all hit me. By it all, I mean the emotional toll of everything….. My patient’s stories, their cases, their families…. it all fell on me in what felt like a single moment. I was on a run and just started sobbing. I let myself feel for the first time since starting that stretch of days. I was honored that God entrusted me with each of them for the weekend, but needless to say, I was exhausted and depleted in every way.

Monday, the 12th, was not a lick productive.

I did get a quick trot in though.


I spent the evening reading with our TV fireplace flickering, and Halo Top in hand trying to distract myself from my nerves.


February 14th. I woke up early to get ready for my 9:45 am interview via Zoom. It went well, I think! This is a distance based program and our number one choice (probably)… but the chances of getting in are slim. I don’t quite have the experience that others applying for the program have (It’s a doctorate program). I do have a chance of their MSN program hopefully. A few hours later I found out from Vanderbilt that I was accepted into their MSN program! WOOHOO! I was accepted into two/three of the programs, now I’m just waiting for this one last decision… the suspense is real! I should know by end of February/early March.

After the interview, I ran for a while, then jotted to the mall to find something to wear as I realized I had nothing for Valentine’s Day! I found this on sale. Wooohoo!

Deej gave me this sweet rose ❤


Nooow time for our Valentine’s Extravaganza!!! DJ and I haven’t had a date or much time together since San Diego. We decided to splurge a little to celebrate Vday, the interview being over, and now getting into one of the big schools I was pulling for. We decided not get on another gifts or anything and just have a stellar dinner.

Someone at DJ’s work suggested the Mountain Winery Valentine’s Day dinner. We don’t usually do much on Valentine’s Day, maybe make some make your own pizzas, last year I did a race in Sausalito… I don’t really get the point of Valentine’s day… because isn’t the day to celebrate love your anniversary? It’s kind of a double anniversary? But I’m still for any excuse for chocolate, dinner out, and a chance to brag on my amazing man!

I went to Mountain Winery once with Rachel over a year ago. It’s absolutely gorgeous. The views are breathtaking.

They host concerts in the summers in their stunning outdoor pavilion.


We were greeted in an indoor heated tent with a rose with our table number and a glass of Rose.


The best part? The cheeeese!!!!


It was a fantastic cheese bar- with crackers, figs, nuts, fruit, and every type of cheese imaginable.


Round One..


After about a half an hour of mingling, we were taken on a tour of the estate. It was fascinating, but freezing! I kept thinking to myself, “Roses are red, my lips are blue, if we don’t go inside soon I’m going to LOSE IT”. Ok, I am a bit dramatic when I’m cold, but I was shivering something fierce!

It was totally worth it, especially for the views!


We then snaked to our florally decorated table. Somehow we ended up with Table 1 and were in a nice exclusive corner table.


We started with some clementine and pesto (or something like that) for a palate cleanser. The seemingly incompatible flavors actually worked very well.


To start, we had scallop three ways. These included citrus scallop ceviche with avocado, seared french scallop tartar with crispy kale, and grilled scallop over mango puree with mizuna salad. Our favorite was the mango purreed…. mmm mm!


We then had for the second course butter wedge lettuce with medley carots, roasted beets, whipped goat cheese, with blood orange and herb vinaigrette. It was accompanied by Sauvignon blanc- our favorite of the wine tastings.


The third course presented with sea bass with basted shrimp, lentils, braised leeks, and rainbow chard with a lemon beurre blanc reduction. I want to cry because I want this again right now. It was too good.


The fourth course consisted of steak duzelles on a bed of smashed fingerling golds with creamy blue cheese, charred veggies, and chanterelle wine reduction. I gave deej my steak, but the rest of the dish was fabulous.


And to top it off, we were given an intermezzo of limoncello with ginger cream and deconstructed strawberry shortcake with red velvet sponge, champagne lime sorbet, and strawberry reduction. It was all tremendous.


It may be my favorite Valentine’s Day we have ever had together. I’m so thankful for my valentine. ❤


Each couple was gifted a bottle each to take home too.


I woke up early this morning, the 15th, to go to work to get my annual TB test blood work done. I’m actually a smidgeon nervous for the results because I have cared for TB patients quite a bit this year (of course proper isolation in place), but I can’t help feel a tiny bit on edge. Especially with how stinking sick I’ve been this year. I’m sure it’s fine. It’s fine, right? Cool it, Mack, your hypochondriac is showing. I’ll know for sure in about three days to settle my little paranoid mind.

I spent the day cleaning, answering e-mails, texts (gosh, I’ve been bad bad bad with the texting lately), and other misc. items on the to-do list. I had a great big salad with a bean burger & some green alkaline juice for lunch while watching Winter Games. It hit the spot.


Right now I’m eating sushi and going to tie up loose ends for my project. We have our last class next week! Almost. there. One more month until graduation!


Have a beautiful weekend, everyone!

xo ❤


A Quite Ambiguous Life Update!

Hey y’all!! I haven’t done a hum-drum recap post since last year?! I’ve done our trip recaps, Friday Faves, and EVEN a recipe…. but not a recap. What. is . happening?!

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Yes, This is Us unleashed one of the most dramatic, tear-jerking episodes in probably history of television on Sunday. I think I need to see a therapist after that episode. But we won’t get into it. It’s so good, so heart-wrenching, so real…. it hits on a very visceral level for me.

Anywho, I want to document just some real quick recent happenings and answer everyone’s questions about, “What’s going on, what’s the school situation, what the lowwww down?”.

Once we came back from Texas (yes, I am going THAT far back), I worked January 2nd and had to take my first ever sick day the 3rd. Darn, I almost made it a full year without taking a sick day! The 4th and 5th I spent resting and worked through that next weekend. On that weekend, my sweet coworkers threw the sweetest surprise “potlock” for my birthday. It touched me to literal tears. They brought in all kinds of goodies & cupcakes. I’m so thankful for them.


On the 11th, we had our preliminary presentation and the research scientists seemed to love it! They gave us tremendous feedback, so now we just have to make a few adjustments and we’ll be all set. Our official presentation is March 21st. I will be prepping hard for it before then! PS. I love our cohort education days because we always get a flamin’ breakfast of croissants & coffee! One time we had smoked salmon with capers (my weakness)!


March 7-12th we worked hard so we could enjoy our vacation to San Diego January 13th-17th. Here are Part One, Part Two, and Part Three if ya missed um 😉

We’ve been craving comfort food lately as “winter” comes to an end (I feel embarrassed and rude saying that to my kindred midwesterners)….stay warm, friends. I empathize, I really do!

I have loved continuing to make cod. One of DJ’s favorite’s was a meal with cod, corn grits, asparagus, okra, and zucchini with marina/parm cheese. Now, it does not get more midwest than this folks (unless a casserole was involved 😉 ).


One of my current projects is reading through “must read” books list. So far I have read The Giver, The Lovely Bones, and Fahrenheit 451. Would love your suggestions too! I think next I’m going to read Wuthering Heights and The Book Thief. Lemme say though.. all those gosh darn stupid reality shows are vying for my serious attention on Monday nights, so tryna’ find that balance 😉

(I’m still making my way through the Harry Potter series, but have been falling asleep the second I hit the sheets lately!).

On the 27th, DJ’s twin sister (WHO JUST MOVED HERE!!!!!!), drove up to SJ to have some breakfast with us. I can’t explain how excited I am that she’s here. You might remember her from when she visited us here. (Scroll to end of the linked post).

Anywho, we had to take her to the infamous Bill’s. We just had one open within a mile of our apartment (EEEEKKKK!!!!!) I am freaking out.


What’s brunch without Bill’s Famous Mimosas?

DJ tried their country fried steak with biscuits and gravy.


I had my tried and true, go to athena greek omelette. Goat cheese on an omelette is GOLD.


Amy opted for probably one of my favorites on their menu- the Cinnamon Roll French Toast. Phenomenal.


Amy headed back to the city in the afternoon after hanging out at our apartment for a little bit. This was one of the first Saturdays in months, probably all year, that DJ and I were both 100% free. We spent the day lounging, napping, took a walk, and relaxed. It was absolute perfection. We kept saying how refreshing it was to have a full day like that. It doesn’t happen often- I actually can’t even remember our last day like that.

On Sunday the 28th, I finalllly had a Sunday off of work to go to Church (EVERYONE CHEERS!). Lemme say, it was SO nice being able to worship with my community in person and not be listening to a podcast sermon on Sunday.

After Church, I went to lunch with my girlfriend Tammy that you all know probably well my now, and her husband, Ben. (DJ couldn’t tag along, but I brought him home some grub!).

We went to Mendocino Farms in Campbell. This may be our new local joint. I am obsessed!!! There are so many phenomenal pesce/vegan options!!!


You order Panera style, and they give you a buzzer when food is ready.

I loved their farmhouse theme.


I was craving a great salad. I had their avocado & superfood ensalad with butter lettuce & romaine, curly kale, quinoa & millet, housemade superfood krunchies, black bean, roasted corn & jicama succotash, red onions, cilantro, Cotija cheese, grape tomatoes, avocado with chipotle vinaigrette. There are no words to describe how yum this was!


Even better yet… their sides.. the curried cous-cous and marinated beets were so savory. I am craving them again. I might just have to go in tomorrow to get more.


Tam had the Mary’s Chicken Salad with shaved, roasted Mary’s free range chicken breast with balsamic glaze drizzle, butter lettuce & romaine, nitrate-free applewood smoked bacon, crumbled blue cheese, avocado, grape tomatoes, red onions, hard boiled egg with mustard vinaigrette. Good mendocino heavens.


There was a Trader Joe’s plopped right next door, and this is where I had my epiphany that Trader Joe’s may be the greatest place on earth.THEY EVEN HAVE SUSHI!


I went for an amazing run after, and saw this cute little lemon tree.

img_7975Monday morning I made an omelette with my leftovers stuffed in!


For one of my birthday gifts, I received my first ever Fab Fit Fun box. This is allll over the place social media wise, but I’ve never pulled the trigger. I was thoroughly impressed with the box, and can’t wait to use the products. I’ll let you all know how they all work out.


I can tell you this add on fuzzy blanket is amazing. (Duh, what girl doesn’t like a comfy blanket?)


How stinking cute!

DJ is playing in a basketball league called the “Enginerds”. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this on the blog before, but DJ was (is) a tremendous basketball player. He isn’t hanging up the shoes quite yet as he is playing in a local league every other Wednesday. I’m obsessed with the name of their team (so Bay area)- The Enginerds! Lol.


I have been thinking lately about doing a meal prep post about how I have been meal prepping for my twelve hour shifts! I never have really shared my prep days for work, but why not?! It took a while to get my routine down, but I think I finally have it figured out to stay full and stay nourished!


On January 30th, I had the unexpected couple of hours off as our unit was over-staffed. I instead was able to go to work at 11:30 am. I walked into the shining sun and gorgeous fountain. That never happens. What a glorious day that was!


Shall we chat Super Bowl on the the 4th?! Our unit was not about to neglect the celebrations. We had donuts, chips, and pizza galore. I worked extra extra extra hard to get my work done so I could catch a couple glimpses of the game. They were small glimpses, but I did get to watch JT do his THANG!


That extra extra extra hard (aka every single shift, lol) translated into this…


I’m glad Deej got to watch the game with his family though!

Yesterday, the 5th, I was able to squeeze in a gorgeous 10-miler. To be honest with y’all … doc says I need to chillll on the mileage. I’m trying, but struggling cause it’s the way I cope with my stress. My body isn’t handling it. I am going to try to incorporate more strength training & cross training > cardio.

Anywho.. these February blooms along my runs have been gorgeous. It is finally starting to warm up a bit again!


Post workout nibbles/appetizer before dinner of veggies straws, dried okra, mushrooms, hummus, and smoked salmon jerky.


Lately for dinners all I have wanted is warm comfort food due to the weather and perpetual ill feeling. Today after a great Insanity workout I was craving my giant refreshing salad with it being 72 degrees outside. I always love putting a veggie burger in my salad with hummus & some balsamic vinegar. MMmm mm!


Let’s talk future now. I have an interview February 14th for a doctorate program. Gosh, I want this so badly. I was accepted into a local program here, so that’s a possibility too (it’s a master’s program). I am waiting to hear back from one last school in Nashville. I’m not sure what this year holds for us.. it’s all a big ole’ question mark… we are just trusting God with it all. He has proved faithful time and time again. DJ is still loving his job in marketing for the SJ Giants, and will probably look into getting his masters next year. I am excited and hopeful to see how this year unravels! Lots of questions will be answered in this next two months, and I am hoping to share some fun (and definite) updates with you all.

xo ❤


Friday Favorites #9!

Happy Friday, everyone! I know, it’s hard to believe… but I will have officially published three posts in one week- I turned my project in and now have a couple days before I have to start getting serious about prepping for the BIG presentation. To top off the streak here I am doing a Friday Faveeessss! I love them and I love reading yours. If you have one this week please leave it in the comments.

  1. This spoon from one of my best friends from college. It is perfection! I found a perfect match on Amazon. Jump on it if you know any nurses who love to cook!


2. COD. For some reason, hubby and I have been LOVING seasoned cod lately for dinner with okra and brown rice. I usually grab salmon or tilapia, but hot dang this cod is terrific. Who knew! Also, one of my patients owns a bakery and gave us this amazing cheesy pesto bread (and a TON of other bread too) to go along with it!


3. My guitar ❤ I finalllllyyyyy had my guitar repaired. It’s been about three years since I’ve really played. I used to play in high school a ton, and I have about eight original songs (I didn’t say they were quality original songs- but they are original, lol!). I started missing it terribly when nursing school was over and FINALLY had it fixed up/repaired by the nearby Starving Musician. Stay tuned.. (literally).. maybe one day I’ll share a song if I gather up the courage. Buuuuut probably not. haha


4. This travel map!!! It’s no secret we LOVE traveling. For Christmas, DJ found this map for us. If you look closely, there are little blue pins that we place on every city we have visited together. It is very clear that we are from the midwest and now live in California, haha. I want to book a trip every time I pass it in our hallway!


5. TRADER JOE’S!!!! Ok. It’s alsooo no secret that Trader Joe’s is amazing. But I’ve only been a couple times in my life, and never since we’ve lived here. WHY NOT!?!?? I KNOW, I ask myself that everyday now. Why have I not been?! It’s like adult Disneyland. It is the freaking greatest place on Earth. I’m obsessed. I could EASILY name 10 items to make Friday Favorites from Trader Joe’s alone. I’m sure it will be a frequent visitor on this segment, so watch for new fun products!


For instance, this King Salmon Jerky… a bit salty (but that never deters me), and so stinking good. It’s a pescetarian dream. Especially because in my past meat-eating life I loooooved me some beef jerky.


& This Arugula Pizza was too delish. My willpower was at a big fat zero with this in front of my face. Let’s just say, this did not last long at ALL between the two of us!


6. Avocado Toast Tank from Deej for my bday. Anything more perfect for a Cali girl?


7. Shakeology oats. I am embarrassed to mention Shakeology honestly–… I’m always a bit of a skeptic of health formulary protein stuff (except my No Cow/Quest bars)…. I’d just rather eat my protein than drink it I guess. Anywho, lately I have LOVED making a big ole bowl of oats for breakfast with vegan Shakeology powder on top and stevia (maybe even a little whip cream). It’s like dessert!


8. Impress Nails by Kiss!!! I adore these stick/glue on nails. As a nurse, I can’t really wear nail polish (it comes right off and chips with the hand sanitizer). This is such a great alternative and quicker than painting and waiting for my nails to dry. If I only have a day or two where I need nice nails, I loveeeee these!


I wore some purple ones in San Diego.


9. Lulus!!! Lulus is a new online shop I am OBSESSED with!!! Their style is totally my cup of tea. They have free shipping over $50 and free return shipping within 30 days. Their customer service is amazing, and selection is tremendous. Some of you asked where the dress was from in my first San Diego post, here is the link!


10. SUPER BOWL time! I will be working during the Super Bowl, probably my favorite sporting event of the year (except when Cavs are in the finals)…..BUT we love these recipes below if you need some healthy ideas for your party…..and I’ll be making them regardless if I have to celebrate a day late 😉 !!

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

Vegan Tacos

Loaded Vegan Nachos

xo ❤


Vegan “Chicken” Piccata

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve shared a recipe, but this is a new favorite in our household!!! We have had a bountiful supply of lemons lying around lately. Also, Kalpana at Surreyfarms has been sharing a plethora of lemon recipes that have been making my mouth water!!! I thought I’d try my hand at recreating a vegan chicken piccata. How in the heck do you do that?! I wasn’t sure if this was going to turn out… I used a regular chicken piccata recipe and modified it to work. I held my breath as we took our first bite, and it was phenomenal. DJ is a meat eater, but he LOVED this. He said we need to make it a staple. So when life gives you lemons, maybe try this out?!


  • 5 medium size zucchinis, spiralized. If you need an AWESOME spiralizer, try this one here.
  • 4 large packages of tempeh (I used organic 3 grain from Trader Joe’s).
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • all purpose flour (I used Bob Mill’s)
  • Olive Oil Spray- I love Pam’s EVOO spray!
  • 3 TBSP Vegan butter of choice
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed


  1. Spiralize your zucchini into a large bowl!
  2. Spray zucchini with olive oil spray, then transfer to large sauté pan. Sprinkle with a dash of sea salt, ground pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Cook on medium heat, covered until noodles are soft and most of the water is evaporated from the noodles- about 10 minutes. (Turn down heat if they start caramelizing- zucchini burns pretty easily!)
  3. Transfer back to bowl.


4. Cut tempeh lengthwise in half.


5. Spray both sides of tempeh with spray, sea salt, and pepper.

6. “Dredge” in all purpose flour (although it’s more like just lightly cover each side with flour- tempeh crumbles pretty easily, so be gentle with um!)


7. In the same large pan on medium heat add 3 TBSP of butter and spray pan with EVOO spray.

8. Transfer the tempeh to the pan when butter starts to sizzle and cook until browned on each side, about four minutes each side (maybe a little longer depending how quick your pan cooks, turn up heat if cooking too slow).

9. Once browned on each side, transfer to plate.

10. In the same pan, add lemon juice, stock, and capers. Bring to a light boil.

11. Add Tempeh back to the pan and simmer each side for about three minutes each. Add olive oil as needed and before flipping.


12. Serve over zucchini noodles

13. Enjoy!!!


It really did taste like chicken….

xo ❤


San Diego: Part 3- An Italian Oasis, Museums, & Shout House!

HAPPY TUEEESDAY! It’s actually my Monday.. cause ya know, nurse life. But guess what? I get the first four hours off unexpectedly due to unit staffing! I’m thinking this is for the best considering I’ve already spilled oatmeal on myself after overflowing it in the microwave and burning my tongue on my coffee. It’s gonna be “that” kind of day so maybe it’s a good idea that we don’t place human lives in my hands until I wake up a bit ;).

Alas, we come to our last post from San Diego, but I think it may just be my favorite.

We left off coming back from the Zoo in Part 2… Hungry as a couple of bears.

Per recommendation from a couple friends, we had to try the infamous Cucina Urbana. I want to say straight up– If you have one meal to have in San Diego, and if you are a human being that has any kind of love for food, GO HERE. Besides the brunch (which is just in another food universe), this was hands down, our favorite meal.

It’s the ultimate tasteful experience the from the warm farmhouse feel to the contemporary aesthetics to the food itself.


It was romantic, yet casual. All the food on their menu had Italian roots with unique twists.

We debated between the stuffed fried squash blossoms and the grilled octopus. We settled on the octopus (Can you believe it?!).. this was tremendous. I even liked this better than the octopus from Mister A’s, and I told DJ it was easily the closest I have had to Marco Prime’s (one day I will shut up about the octopus from Marco Prime- today is not that day). This octopus included speck + celery + cashew + lemon yogurt + salsa verde. Mmmmm mmmm!


I am an odd bird, and I’m not a huge fan of traditional pasta… don’t kill me! If I have the option I would much rather choose a seafood dish or pizza usually over pasta. But the waitress convinced me I had to try this dish, and I would not dare go against the expert’s suggestion! This is the chili thread farfalle with tahitian squash + brussels sprout leaf + red cabbage + burrata cider fonduta.


The verdict? Unbelievable. Seriously (I have my serious face on) one of the BEST pasta dishes I have EVER had. If I could go back to San Diego for one thing- I think I would grab this.

Anywho… DJ’s opted for their mouth-watering lasagna. There was not one little nibble left at the end of the meal.


After, we grabbed the check and rushed back to the hotel so we didn’t miss a beat of Bachelor. Also, fun fact- Tipsy Crow, a local bar/dive, airs Bachelor on Monday nights. We considered going, but decided we just wanted to relax in the hotel room and get some room service desserts!


The next morning, we walked to Gaslamp for breakfast. (This is going to be a comida saturated post).


The Breakfast Republic was beckoning to us from our Yelp app.


Every. little. thing. in this restaurant was paid mind to from the coffee mugs (Need) to the napkin holders.


I had their mushroom & pesto benedict- mmmm mmm!


Deej tried their pancake flight with oreo pancakes, traditional pancakes, and bacon pancakes… Take a look at their pancake menu! It’s amazing! I thought they were SUPER good, but DJ is a bit pickier 😉


Also, to settle the whole debate with male/female restrooms in California, they just stuck the M right in the middle of the two restrooms. I thought this was hilarious… and actually ingenious… and interesting….

In the bathrooms they have on the wall backwards, “You look fine” so when you look in the mirror……


You get a little pep talk!


Even washing your hands is an experience, lol.


We headed back to the hotel and got ready for the day to hit up the museums in Balboa park!


First, we went to the Museum of Man.


DJ might argue that this picture is pretty accurate at times, lol


To be honest, neither of us were all that excited about it. It just didn’t seem to have anything that really, “Wowed” us.

BUT across the street is a new Cannibal exhibit, and that was very fascinating!


Balboa is just stunning.


We walked around Balboa park and hit up the Natural History Museum. Once again, not anything thrilled us too much. We decided we probably could have done without the Museums, but they were worth a shot!


We couldn’t leave Balboa park without sneaking a peak at the Moreton Bay Fig Tree! It’s over 100 years old and one of the largest in California.


We peaked into the Japanese friendship garden, but decided we were ready to head out!


For our last evening we decided to spend it where? None other than the Gaslamp Quarter! We decided to see if we could snag a spot at Rustic Root, a desirable rooftop bar and eatery overlooking the heart of Gaslamp.


This was a treat!!!! We decided to just pop in for some light apps, and the warm air and casual ambiance was the most relaxing experience.


We devoured the salmon tartar with green onion , masago , sweet & spicy sauce ginger , papaya , avocado , and shiso as well as the garden flatbread with cherry tomato , jalapeno , roasted garlic , red onion zucchini , pesto , and manchego & jack cheese. So good!


After our apps we had quite a bit of time before the last big event on our itinerary. We passed a Tim Cantor art gallery, and I couldn’t not stop in.


I am obsessed with this picture below. (I knowwww I’m not supposed to take pictures of art, but I couldn’t help it).


Alll of his art was impeccable. It blended reality with almost a carnival like, dream state. I spent probably twenty five minutes in the small gallery. DJ ended up just sitting outside, but I couldn’t get enough!

After, feasting with our mouths and our eyes, we headed to the Shout! House. If you are a San Diego native, you know this is the PLACE.


We still had room for more food, so DJ had the wings and I was dying to try their Mac & Cheese balls.


The show included Dueling pianos. We LOVE comedy shows and anything of the like. Even though it was a Tuesday night, the place ended up filling up quite a bit. I was in awe of how talented they were! If you need something to do in San Diego, highly recommend this!

After Shout! House, we walked back and swam in the warmed pool at the Westin. This was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. I love love love swimming, and swimming on a San Diego overlook in this beautiful city on a warm evening was perfection.


We ended our last night with one more dessert from room service….


In the morning, we ended with breakfast at the hotel. It was the BEST hotel brunch I have ever had. It was so good that I left a review for them on Orbitz. I know I already reviewed the Westin in part one, but I would say, it’s worth staying here for the breakfast buffet alone (it’s not free, but 100% worth it).


They had beet and carrot juices that were so tasty.




One of my favorite parts of the breakfast was the goat cheese toasts. This would be a fantastic appetizer- toast, goat cheese, blueberries, and rosemary! I will definitely be recreating for a party or hosting.


We packed up and said goodbye to the hotel ❤


Since our flight was in the evening we decided to spend or last couple free hours at Coronado beach again. We went and laid  (lied? lain? HELP!) out on the beach, reading, and falling in and out of sleep.


It was a perfect way to end an absolutely perfect trip.


So, what did we miss?! I would love to hear all your suggestions for next time we stop by this incredible city!!!! Thanks for sharing in these fun memories with us 🙂

xo ❤


San Diego: Part Two- Sunsets, and Gaslamp, and Bears, oh my!

Well I should probably get this part two written one of these days, whaddya say? I left off Part One with us heading to La Jolla!!! La Jolla was breathtaking- I’ll just let the pictures mostly speak for themselves. It’s just about a twenty-five minute drive from downtown San Diego.


When DJ and I discussed our favorite parts of the trip after the fact, DJ said La Jolla was a candidate.

The cove is a gorgeous little beachy/cliff strip of land along the ocean. Up from the water’s edge is a quaint city with an inviting atmosphere and a small town feel.

We were immediately greeted by the cutest sea lions. They were a couple of lazy bums, plopping around on the sand until the tide came in too close.. then they would scootch a couple inches, probably the most movement they would have the whole day.


What. a . life. Am i right?!


And there was one that was determined to stake his claim.


We walked around the sidewalks, edging past other tourists, all of us trying to sneak in glimpses of the glorious views. Per my good friend Annie’s recommendation, we had to see the sunset at the cove. I absolutely understood why as the sun started making it’s way toward the water.


Babe & Views, Views & Babe


We sat on a dusty cliff and chatted in the most serene, calming moment accompanied by the background hum of waves and people’s murmurs. I looked over at Deej and said this reminded me of our moment on the cliffs in San Francisco months ago. At that time I had such anxiety, I felt such a hopeless, heavy, suffocating weight on my shoulders. I told DJ now I felt joy, excitement, and a new found hope in the future. This year has been hard (to say the absolute least), but I’m thankful to have had him by my side through every step.

On our way back to the car we spotted an acapella group, and drug DJ toward them to watch to his chagrin. Let’s just say this is not his cup of tea, but I loved it!! Babe & tunes & views!


After La Jolla, I had said it was time to rally, rally, rally!!!! I still was not 100%, but much better than the night before. Ohhhhh and you know how I wasn’t sure we were going to ever be hungry again following that massive brunch? L O to the L. We were ravenous. A serious sunset can take it out of ya. We headed to the Gaslamp Quarter to grab some grub… it was only about a mile and a half walk from our hotel.


I love the energy of the Gaslamp quarter. It’s considered the historic heart of San Diego, yet it has such a contemporary and lively vibe about it all.

Even on a Sunday night, it was hopping on every corner.


We were craving some good Mexican, and La Puerta had the reputation as being some of the best around. The 40 minute wait confirmed those rumors.


It has all the rock and roll vibes and all though decorated to give off casual, garage like feels, it was meticulously decorated. The right side of the wall was covered in fake green moss contrasted by a wall of actual criminal mug shots. It was the most unique restaurant we may have ever been to.


We tried their street tacos- I had the grilled veggies and DJ tried the carne asada. So good, the ingredients were fresh and delicious. The whole meal definitely hit the spot.

Funny(ish) story: The waiter brought out a CD player with our bill… we thought it was basically an eccentric billfold. We put the card in and when he came back to grab it, he was confused…not seeing a card or cash visible. We explained it was in the CD holder, and he said, “Oh no, that’s just staying on the table after you head out.” Whoops! Oh well. But a CD holder would be a creative way to collect cards and money….


We stopped by our dear San Diegoan Ghirardelli cousin after because I had a serious sweet tooth. I grabbed a few Ghirardelli squares to munch on as we strolled around the street of Gaslamp. (If you ever pass a Ghirardelli they pass out free chocolate squares inside of that season’s flavor).


After strolling around after another food coma, we decided to head to Altitude Sky Lounge- A rooftop hangout promising the ultimate views in San Diego.


I highly suggest stopping by here if you visit San Diego. The ambiance was amazing- relaxed and comfortable. They even had a large flickering fireplace that people chatted around into the late hours of the evening.

And the views speak for themselves….


We were even able to look directly into Petco park


We walked back to the hotel with happy tummies and happy memories.


On the 15th (yes we are finally into the next day), I woke up bright and early for a good workout. I loved looking out the window and watching the sunrise. I am trying to read through the “100 Books you should read before you die” list this year. I read, “The Lovely Bones” while working up a great sweat. I will say, it is quite disturbing, but I couldn’t put it down. I have so many highlighted sections and quotes from it that I’d love to share sometime soon.


DJ and I headed out for the day for our long anticipated trip to the renowned San Diego zoooo!!!! We parked near Balboa park and decided to walk over.


We did the Go San Diego pass, which I think was the best way for us to do both Balboa and the Zoo. It was the cheapest way and included nearly everything. The only thing the 3-day pass didn’t include vs. the 3,5, and 7 day pass was Sea World. We were okay with that, but if you want to visit sea world I suggest doing the 3, 5, or 7 day pass!

We grabbed breakfast from the cutest little coffee stand in Balboa park. I opted for oatmeal and DJ munched on a slice of lemon poppyseed bread. The coffee was tremendous…


…Until I spilled some on my white sweater….. ya win some, ya lose some.


The zoo, oh the zoo!!! Y’all know what a zoo has so I won’t go into much description. This was by far the best zoo I have ever been to. It had everything… it truly had creatures I had no idea existed. I would suggest blocking out at least three hours to see everything.


DJ navigated us with the map, making sure we didn’t miss a beat!

These little guys below are >100 years old!!! How sturtling is that. I couldn’t believe these little critters were born back in the 1900s. And they were HUGE, I didn’t know turtles (or tortoises?) this large existed. The pictures do not do justice to their size. Males can weigh greater than 500 lbs. 500 LBS. I was in turtle awe.


Gotta love a good croc.


One of our favorite exhibits was the gorillas.


The Easter Giant Eland is one of those creatures that looks magical, and I didn’t know anything like it actually existed in our world. They were spectacular.


We started getting pretty hungry again after the Panda Exhibit (love love love!). We stopped by Sabertooth grill for some grub. Nothing like some good fried food to accompany a zoo day. DJ wen with the classic grilled chicken tenders and I was pleasantly surprised to see they had a vegan burger!



Once we were all fueled up, we went back making sure we didn’t miss a single exhibit. We stopped by and watch the Jaguar Keeper talk (super fascinating) and listened the formidable lion bellowing in the neighbor exhibit. Apparently, it’s roar can be heard up to four miles away!

This sweet little man below was one of my other favorites from the exhibit. I didn’t take a picture of it’s name, so I don’t know what type of animal it actually is, but it was precious!!! Does anyone know?!


The baboons probably should be a PG-13 exhibit to be honest.


And if you don’t think God has a sense of humor…..


Badgers are hilarious the way they scamper about.


To cap off our adventures, we did the sky ride. Definitely do this to get a full look into the zoo! The sun was just starting to set so we had some pretty views of Balboa Park and the sky as well.


We headed back to our car after several hours of exploring what felt like another world.


We then made our way to dinner in Little Italy. I will include that in our last part of the trip, Part 3!

Have y’all been to the San Diego zoo?! In general- what’s your favorite exhibit?

xo ❤


San Diego: Part One- Mister A’s, Coronado Beach Brunchin’ & Mission Beach

Long time no see!!! But I can’t say long time, no SEA! This past week, DJ and I zipped to San Diego (MY FIRST TIME) for an impromptu getaway. On a whim, I requested a couple days of PTO, not thinking it would get approved. But I’lllll be all the darned, I got em’!!! We quickly planned our trip, and I’m pretty confident I spent more time planning than we were actually there. I LIVE to plan a trip.

Since last year, I have been sick sick sick (overly dramatic use of the New Year). This virus is hanging around much longer than the usual.

It’s actually kind of entertaining— like “What form will it take this week?!” Behind week one we have a runny nose! Behind week two we have a dry nagging cough! Feeling adventurous- week three has a sinus infection and body aches! I thought I was getting better around the second week, but the last day I worked on the 12th, I entirely lost my voice by the end of my shift. Trying to give report to other nurses was painful.

The next morning (The 13th) I woke up with a swollen, hoarse, scratchy throat, horrifically runny nose, and swollen face. Happy 24th birthday to meeee! I felt all the body aches and allll the sick. Luckily, I was fueled up my hot coffee and ibuprofen which alleviated the symptoms a ton. PS. Get your flu shot if you haven’t. This year it is SO bad, you guys. Not something to mess with. I get that it is only 10% effective.. yadayadayada.. but majority of those who have become severely gravely ill did NOT have their shot.

Anywho, I was adamant I wouldn’t let this bug get in our way. Mind/matter. I was ready to rally through it and not miss a beat of what we had planned. “Rally” became the theme of our trip. Every time I felt like utter crap, I just said, “But imma rally!“.

The sweet guy gave me the greatest birthday card in the world and this flower birthday cake before hitting the road. I meannn come on now, how ingenious is this since obviously we wouldn’t be there to actually consume a cake. Even now (on the 22nd) the flowers are still in full bloom, without a wilt in sight. And it said, “Hope your birthday takes the cake”….


I blew out those candles with all the energy I could muster and we jotted over to San Jose’s airport. Neither of us have been in this airport before, and we loved it! Easy & simple and much closer than the SF airport for us.

Naturally…. had to get some Peet’s with LOTS of honey and cinnamon lathered all over the foam of my cafe au lait.


We flew Alaska and loved it! Granted, it was only about an 1.5 hour flight, but we were in the air much quicker than it seemed usual for most airlines, and it was all over a pleasant flight.


We made it…500 tissues later!


I turned a corner in the afternoon and was feeling much better by the time we landed.

Since this is a travel post, I will include quite a bit of information on the more practical travel side (skip this if you aren’t planning on visiting anytime soon, or ever, which would be a crime, and I may try to convince you otherwise)……

When DJ and I were trying to figure out the most cost friendly/ location convenient way to do San Diego, we found that doing the package deal seemed the way to go. We were able to snatch a flight, hotel, and rental car for <$1,000. Granted, parking is a bear, especially at The Westin where we stayed, it was $50 a night!!!! We found a lot directly across from valet that was much cheaper, but overall- that’s something that definitely needs to be taken into account when visiting. We debated if uber/lyfting vs. driving was cheaper, and honestly with all the parking fees it probably would have been about equal, but at least with a rental you have the convenience to get up and go wherever you would like at any time. But like I said- parking is a pain in the neck, so we would definitely consider just ubering next time). We also were able to walk to Gaslamp from The Westin which helped immensely. If you want to do San Diego, I highly suggest staying right in downtown so you can walk most places and not have to pay the uber fees at all (except for when visiting other beaches/Coronado island). ALSO, if debating Westin Gaslamp vs. Downtown 100% stay at the Downtown location. It is maybe a 0.3 mile difference, and the Gaslamp hotel is much more expensive. We loved the Westin downtown complete with a pool, hot-tub, amazing workout facility, beautiful views, super clean, an in-room coffee maker (essential), quiet, awesome bar, and friendly staff. Like I said, only downsides would be the parking cost & the fact that breakfast is not included. But the breakfast is tremendous if you vouch for it (it’ll be included in my last San Diego post).

This is the view from the hotel window. If you want to explore the Westin downtown, click here!


We got all snazzed up and headed to our first destination in America’s Finest City: Mister A’s.


Despite having totally lost my voice at this point, I had not lost my appetite. I’m one of those people that only lose my appetite if I have the literal plague. I actually usually get more hungry when sick, especially with colds. The ibuprofen definitely helped with the swallowing ailment too.

Mister A’s is located on the twelfth floor of a building overlooking San Diego. It promised to have the best view in San Diego, and the best food. Can’t pass that up, am I right?


This is one of the classiest little restaurants we have ever been to.

Now, the foooood. Let’s chat food. I’m eating spoonfuls of PB while writing this to keep the hunger at bay. I suggest you do the same.


Prior to the meal they brought out bread and butter with a complimentary little bread nugget with a light whipped aioli and hummus creme.


Even their butter is served in the most beautiful fashion!


Do you spot the sea salt below? We have never had anything like it. It was out-of-this-world delicious. It was unlike any sea salt I have ever had. I could actually go on for days about how much I loved this stuff. I need to find out where it is from and how I can acquire these little guys.


I nearly ate their physical menu everything on it looked so good. After much YELP research, we decided to try what seemed to be two of their famous apps- the black mussels provencale with garlic, shallots, and fresh herb butter and their plancha grilled octopus with romesco sauce. I’ll tell ya what, those octopi are the closest I have tried to Marco Prime’s (the best octopus dish in the world). If you follow, I have been on a hunt for that flavor ever since. Gosh, this stuff was good. DJ LOVED the mussels, I preferred the octopus, but still thought they were savory and scrumptious as well. I even asked if the seaweed was edible, and the waiter goes, “Well it’s more for garnish, but I guess technically?”. I joked that he could leave the empty plate so I could savor the seaweed. He thought I was serious, and looked a bit horrified.


For the main course, I had their main scallops with champagne butter, savory cabbage, walnuts, and parmesan. Oh. so. stinking. tasty.


DJ had their lobster tail served over zucchini and basil. It was easily one of the most generous servings of lobster tail I have ever seen!


We also tried their truffle mac as a side and ya know, we thought it was pretty subpar. It needed more salt (luckily we still had our handy dandy sea salt on hand). I’d suggest trying a different side, everything else was phenomenal, but the mac and cheese we could have done without (shocker, I knowww).


We ended the exquisite edible extravaganza with decaf coffee (for me), a sweet complimentary slice of carrot cake (YAASSSS) & their chocolate royale with dark and white chocolate mousse, caramel ganache, and praline crunch (highly recommend).


Sometimes my eyebrows have a life of their own, but gotta let them live, ya know?


The views did not disappoint. It was a perfect end to the evening.


We waddled back to the hotel with a “no regrets” food coma and had plans to visit Gaslamp. I even got dressed up in something a little more versatile to walk through the historic district….but the minute I sat down I realized I couldn’t do it. I ‘d hit my limit for the day and needed to go to sleep. We decided to explore and rally into the night the next day!

In the morning of the 14th I was feeling tremendously better. I even was able to squeeze in a few miles before hitting the town. I LOVE working out on vacation. I feel like I always am more motivated to get up at the butt crack of dawn and crank it out. Plus, it was very important to create an extra stomach for this trip!


While some people say breakfast is the most important meal of the day (which I would usually concur), if brunch is in the running it may have my vote. According to the Internet (the most reputable source), Hotel Del Coronado hosts the best brunch in all the land in their Crown Room. We made reservations on Open Table and woke up two eager beavers to see what all the hullabaloo was about.


First, Hotel Del Coronado was more gorgeous and breathtaking in person than one could fathom. It was simply captivating, a historic landmark that inspired not only awe, but wonder. We agreed that one day we would have to actually stay there.


The Crown Room was spectacular. It was much larger than I envisioned from the pictures. I feel like I am writing about something sacred while describing this experience. It was easily one of the BEST meals we have ever had. We agreed that if you are going to be in San Diego on a Sunday, it is worth every single cent and more. It is an experience of a lifetime and everyone needs to add this to their bucket list ASAP. There is no amount of pictures, words, or BOLD TYPING that can do this justice. It was a few hours in time that will forever be reminisced between the two of us.


This brunch had EVERYTHING you can imagine. EVERYTHING. I took a bajillion pictures and probably didn’t even snap half of it. We are talking endless lobster, crab legs, sushi, a make-your-own-donut bar, make-your-own smoked salmon bagel bar, endless unique drinks, a Bloody Mary bar, desserts on desserts on desserts to your heart’s delight, waffles, pancakes, prime rib, beef, veggies upon veggies, cheese from every sector of the world and fruit, parfaits, a candy bar, NYC cheesecake……. I’m not kidding.. I haven’t even covered the half of it.


At the make your own donut bar, they even had a flamer that toasted the marshmallows on top of the donut if you wanted to make a “S’mores” donut!




And guess the heck what- DJ said he finally found some all-star pancakes that rate up at the top. (If you follow, we have an ongoing hunt for the best pancakes for DJ).


Below is a donut DJ made, too cute not to snap a shot.


There were crown chandeliers hanging all over… you know I couldn’t resist..

Highlights from the brunch included- the crab legs, biscuits and gravy, smoked salmon, pancakes, mimosas (I didn’t actually prefer the Bloody Mary although it was their signature drink), the NYC Cheesecake, and their shrimp… good lawd, it was the freshest doggone shrimp I have had. I also have to say our waitress was perhaps the sweetest lady of all time. She was such a doll and made the whole experience even that much more terrific.

***Cue the food coma***

I questioned if I would ever be able to eat again quite honestly.

After that experience of a lifetime, we made our way back to the car to change into some beachy gear!

Gotta still represent the SJ in the SD!!!!


We perused their shops and views.


Finally we made our way to the beach, greeted by the most terrific sand castle I have ever seen.


We breathed in the fresh salty air, sunk our feet into the soft sand, and let the sound of the waves overwhelm our senses, saturating our lungs with calm.

We laughed watching the sea gulls fly high into the air and drop a shell from many feet up, hoping to discover an edible gem inside. We mainly laughed at how close the shells came to plopping on people’s heads half the time.


After the amazing time frolicking on the beach (DJ HATES when I use the word frolick), we headed to our next destination: Belmont Park at Mission Beach.


Oh how this screamed Santa Cruz to us!!! It is truly the Santa Cruz of San Diego.


We had to ride the historic Giant Dipper! This one and the one at Santa Cruz are the considered National Historic Landmarks.


It was actually way more fun than I expected for being such an old coaster!!! But I think it can also guarantee a headache after a few rounds 😉

We walked along Mission Beach, definitely a more boisterous beach than Coronado’s. I’d suggest Mission or Pacific if you are looking for more a party, upbeat, and laid back crowd. Coronado is more calm, quiet, and sophisticated.


We then headed to La Jolla for an epic sunset. I will include that in my next post! I may have to break this into three parts because there is just far too much. It will probably take another post to just finish the 14th, and we were there till the 17th. Oh boy, haha.


I am still stuck on the couch after working all weekend long and never really recuperating too much, but that means I’ll have a couple days to catch up on here. I haven’t opened WordPress for a few weeks and am excited to sit down and respond to y’all soon and see what you are up to!

PS. If you have any San Diego posts, please feel free to leave in the comments below! I’d love to explore yours too!

xo ❤


We were in Texas for Two Years?!

Happy 2018 y’all!

Come on in, lemme set the scene. I am sitting here with our Christmas tree & decor still fully on display. I refused to let DJ take it down this week, and that convo was officially our first squabble of 2018. I told him he could take it down when I’m at work this weekend, although I’d prefer to keep it up until it literally falls over and no pines are left. Compromise y’all- marriage at its finest.

I have my third cup of coffee in hand (clearly not on that “decrease caffeine” resolution train). I have jazz playing in the background. I am overcoming quite the cold, as I am sure many of you are also facing head on. So from me to you, HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND YOUR ___ (insert sickness here)_____ ! I mean, really, along with popping the champagne we may as well take Airborne shots and instead of confetti throw around tissues.

I cannot CANNOT believe how quickly last year went by. I usually think the sentimentality of a New Year is always a bit cheesy (yes, coming from the cheese-y queen), but this year I was feeling it. 2017 was rough rough rough, and I welcome a new year with open arms. Last year I knew I was walking into a difficult year, but I underestimated just how challenging it would be. This year, rather than having a feeling of foreboding doom and anxiety, I am filled with excitement & anticipation as I can nearly taste the completion of THE most challenging obstacle I have ever faced.

In my last post I was heading to Fort Worth to visit my momma, Step-dad, Pete, and pup, Jade with DJ on the 28th. (Side note: I have always called Jade, “Jadey” as a nickname… and when in Texas I always end up calling Jade “DJ”.. dyslexic tendencies slipping to the surface there..whooops!).

real quick…You can check out previous posts exploring the Texas area here and here and here and here.


^ The diva dog hates her picture taken, but I had to snag a few!

The first night we arrived I was egg to the zausted. Momma Jill prepared the most delicious dinner for us including bottomless roasted veggies, grilled portobello mushrooms (for her and I), and Pete grilled up steaks for the boys. It was all accompanied by delicious wild rice, marinated mushrooms for the steak, and garlic bread.


Good lawd, momma Jill knows how to cook up a storm (maybe quite literally if you look at the temperature & snow we had!).

I also just adore their Christmas decor, and they surprised us by having our stockings still hung above the fireplace. **CUE THE TEARS**.


After dinner, we opened our stockings, chatted and soaked up my mom and Pete’s wisdom going into some big decisions this year ahead, and munched on homemade Christmas cookies. It actually felt like Christmas. Like I said in my last post, the day of Christmas is actually quite relative. And the best part of an untraditional Christmas is if you forget any figs for your figgy pudding there is actually a grocery store open! Howbowdat.


^^ Ms. Beggar McGregor.


Unfortunately, that night I dealt with a horrible bout of insomnia. I think it was the combination of coming off some crazy days in the hospital, the travel, and just general time change (it always gets me!). When I went to India a couple years ago I couldn’t sleep for three days straight. That jet lag, even a couple hours, kicks my butt.

But the next day we jet-started the day with a yummy fruit bowl, eggs, toast, and better n’peanut butter for my mom and I. Has anyone had this magic? It’s my treat when I go to Dallas. SO GOOD. I know I could technically stock up on it here… but it just reminds me of “home”, so I save it for those special trips to Texas. I think I’d be too sad eating it anywhere else. <— #emotionalmuch?

The 29thwas a day for the books. I actually did cry going through these pictures because I missed it too much already. My mom surprised me with a trip to Spa Castle and for DJ, a trip with Pete to the Cotton Bowl! I’ll recap Spa Castle right quick!


So, this place is HUGE- very Texasesque! I have never seen anything like it. Basically it’s a giant Spa amusement park. They have everything from a fitness center, saunas galore, whirlpools with jet massagers, a plethora of spa treatments, and general lounging areas.

You receive this key to a locker when you come in and just badge in and out of your locker as you please!


Momma bear and I decided to start with a hearty workout prior to a day of total bliss.


Everyone is required to wear these uniforms in the sauna for probably several reasons that you could infer. I joked that this reminded me of a cult meets monastery, but I was all on board!


The entrance area was absolutely breathtaking. Every inch of the facility is designed to make you relax.


Now, the “Sauna Valley” was paradise. My pictures cannot possibly compare to the real experience, so I’ve included a link here that you can explore each room and all their benefits! Our favorites included the Himalayan Salt Room, The Charcoal Tower, and the Gold Pyramid.


I thought the “Color Therapy” room was super fascinating. The health benefits behind each room just blew my mind.


There is even an Iceland room if you need to chillll out even more.


Let me jus say—- this was EXACTLY what I needed to shake out the anxiety & stress of the year. What a great way to say SAYONARA, Seventeen! These Saunas were out. of. this. world.

We then headed down to their pool area. All those silver bars jetting out of the water are massage stations. They are not for the faint of heart either. The next day I had that same sore feeling I get after a great massage that really works out the knots. It was too cool.


Last, but certainly not least, we finished off at their indoor bar/pool/whirlpool area. It was all quintessential bliss.


We had worked up quite the appetite by this point so we nommed on some sushimi and wakame salad to tie us over before the big Sushi showdown.


We had every little bit of energy zapped from our bodies and knew it was time to head back home.

On our way home we grabbed some fantastic & fresh sushi to go and my mom pulled out her now famous tofu wedges. After getting cleaned up we sat on the couch, turned on some easy TV, and I blogged while my mom crashed in the cozy living room. It was the epitome of a perfect day.


While we sat back and relaxed, the guys hit up the Cotton Bowl for the OSU vs. USC game. DJ was PUMPED about this, which probably goes without saying.


They said it was an absolutely amazing game.

On the morning of the 30th, DJ, my mom, and I hit up the local Keller Pointe (my favorite workout facility in the WORLD). After we zoomed to Kindred Coffee…. oh. my. lanta. Calling all coffeee lovers & snobs: If you are ever passing by the North Richland Hills area, you must stop. This was everything coffee magic & more.


We had a lazy afternoon, and I snuck in a much needed nap. I don’t nap often, but I always do so well in Texas, plus this nasty cold was beginning to make it’s debut. We then put our fancy clothes on and headed out to Lonesome Dove at the Stockyards.


^^ We did not plan to match. I swear. Hahhah.


Love love love love the stockyards.


This place has one of the most unique menus I have ever seen. I avoid eating meat 98% of the time, but when there is something that is unique, I MUST try it. This was certainly one of those occasions. We tried a sampler of their appetizer options including wild boar ribs, kangaroo Carpaccio “Nachos” (yes, actual kangaroo) Avocado Salsa, Habanéro-Fig Demi-Glace, and blue corn lobster hushpuppies. The kangaroo and ribs were a hit among the table out of the three.


My mom and I shared the shaved vegetable salad while Pete tried the butter lettuce with smoked bacon.


I couldn’t get great pictures of our meals (calm yo self, mack), but they were all yummmy. My mom and I split the redfish En Papillote, with Fennel, Leek, Carrot, Yellow Squash, Chiles, & mint. We agreed it wasn’t the most flavorful fish we have had, but still satisfying. DJ tried the Wagyu skirt steak, but the winner was Pete’s Roasted Garlic Stuffed Beef Tenderloin, with Western Plaid Hash and syrah Demi-Glace (pictured below).


The other big hit was the side of truffle mac and cheese. I mean can you go wrong with ANYTHING truffled?


Outside they have a pit for s’mores too.


We headed home for some Bailey’s & Pumpkin Pie with happy stomachs and lots of laughs.

In the morning of the 31st, we headed to my mom and Pete’s home church for an AMAZING service. The message was powerful and encouraging & the worship was beautiful.


And what’s a Sunday without a little Sunday Brunch?!?! When I lived here the summer prior to our wedding in 2015, I loved walking up and down the main street of Keller to do my wedding planning. This was before I began blogging, but this would have been a favorite mention. The Snooty Pig is one of my ALL. TIME. favorite breakfast places, and Pete suggested we go. I was not about to turn that down!


One of the reasons I love this place so much is their muffins. They have the most unique, but scrumptious muffins.


We decided to try their lemon poppyseed ones, although I was nervous because with possibly starting grad school here soon I know I’ll have to take drug tests! I was like how long does it stay in the system for?!? We pulled out our phones and started googling. Turns out it’s only for a few days, so I should be safe. When the waiter plopped the lemon muffin down on the table DJ just looked at it and said, “Well, that’s just a drug test waiting to be failed”. I just glared at him as I took my first big bite. 😉


And now I have this blog with pictures to explain if it comes to that. LOL. Pete had their strawberry banana one too. I said it’s a tradition now to try a different flavor every time we come. Last time we had the cranberry orange one- oh me oh my, not sure which I like better.

My mom and I split a veggie omelette with a side of the most fresh salsa.


Pete had their western skillet. He’s too kind to let me always photograph his food. Oh, how these people put up with me and my antics.


DJ had a classic pancake breakfast. He said the pancakes were definitely good. Still not THE best. This guy and his cakes..


After, we hit up the gym for the last time in 2017 (tears), and then *attempted* to hot tub. It was so bitter cold outside so although our necks down were doing okay, we could feel our nose hairs and lips freezing. We didn’t last too long as you may imagine. Still fun though!

DJ decided to door dash a Whataburger.. when in Texas!


It’s hard to tell from the picture, but these suckers are ginormous! Easily the biggest burger in diameter I have ever seen. DJ said it was fantastic, but still prefers in-n-out.


Time to Ring in the New Year!!!!




We put on the TV to watch the NYE festivities, and then momma Jill set up the dinner table like a winter wonderland.


We had appetizers of brie cheese with apricot spread from Trader Joes (GET THESE NOW), hummus, mom’s homemade guac (there is none that compares, and meatballs for the men.


I helped my mom out in the kitchen preparing some of the food for dinner (But she honestly did most of the work). She gave me an Instapot for Christmas, so we had a fun little tutorial on how to use it by experimenting with au gratin potatoes! It was a blast, and I am itching to use mine!


The dinner (That DJ and I cannot stop talking about) included crab legs, asparagus, au gratin potatoes, and red lobster biscuits. Rachael Ray move on over.


We had a great time toasting to a new year, had fabulous conversations, and watched the ball drop. We haven’t spent a New Year together in ages, so this was a true treat and will be dearly treasured.

In the morning on the 1st, we gloomily packed up to head back to Cali. I had my breakfast of peanut butter toast one last time, and we exchanged big hugs. This may have been the hardest trip for me to leave. I was reminiscing on the days growing up when we would have breakfast with my Dad and then come home to my mom cleaning every nook and cranny to ring in the New Year. Bittersweet contemplations..

In the airport, DJ spotted a twisted root- him and Pete went to one before the cotton bowl, and he had to have one last burger before heading back. We had plenty of time since our flight was delayed about an hour.


Even after writing this I don’t feel like I did justice to just how phenomenal of a trip this was. It was much needed, and gave me just the zest I needed to face the next couple months.


I went back to work on the 2nd, and struggled through the whole day. I was in the Neuro Close observation room, masked up because of my cold. That evening and the next morning I had the knives-in-my-throat feeling and every inch of my body ached. I called in sick, but worked diligently on my research project instead. I just couldn’t risk giving my patients what I had, especially in the NCOR room.

OH oh oh! And we were startled awake to a crazy earthquake last night. I think they said it was a 4.6- but it was the weirdest thing. I woke up and the room was just swaying side to side. I woke up DJ and everything was just rattling. The first earthquake I experienced a few weeks ago I thought someone was trying to break in. This time it was like Goliath was shaking our whole apartment. Apparently the center of the quake was in Berkeley. No damage was done, but a few pictures are a bit lop-sided on the wall.

I hope all of your New Year celebrations were safe and fun. I pray for blessings, happiness, and all the other cheesy things (And lots of actual cheese) to you this year!

xo ❤


A (F)untraditional Christmas!

Hello beautiful people!!! I am typing up this post from the air heading to Dallas, TX! Woohoo!!! So much has happened since my last recap, and I’m excited to fill ya in! To be honest… this holiday season I have been a bit of a Grinch. Not outwardly, in my conversations or by my actions…but certainly when reflecting on my own thoughts. I’ve known for a couple months now that I was going to have to work on the 23rd, 24th, 25th, and 27th. This only left one day for celebrations (the 26th)… and any time I work three in a row I have a difficult time opening my eyes the next day, nonetheless try to throw together a Christmas celebration on my “Sammy day” as we say (sandwich day in between work days).

I begged DJ to fly back to Ohio to be with family. After all, I would be at work majority of the time and when I was not I would be, well, .. A. exhausted and B. an actual B. Catch my drift? It’s just reality. I turn into a MONSTER by day three. Like Wicked Witch of the West meets Ursula. But, alas, the sweet hubby refused to leave me.

If ya know me, I have more “basic” tendencies than not…a la CHRISTMAS OBSESSED. Yet this whole season I didn’t feel inclined to blast Christmas music, baking cookies, or watching Christmas movies when I felt there would be no real culmination celebration with family and friends to celebrate our Savior’s birth. Ya knowww?

BUT there were till some fun happenings that didn’t allow me to avoid the season entirely.

On December 16th, One of DJ’s coworkers held a beautiful Christmas party in her home. It was incredibly elegant with charcuterie galore, hors devours, caviar, an omelette station, a plethora of salads, biscuits and gravy, mini parfaits, etc. etc. Not to mention the most satiating dessert bar. It was delicious and fabulous! I had a ball getting to know Dj’s coworkers better too.


For the 17th and 18th we both worked hard and then the next few days I tried to round up most of my research project. It’s due the 8th of January so we are ticking down to the last few days!!! Y’all I am PUMPED about it. I cannot CANNOT wait to share it!

On the 19th, Sara, Tammy, and I all headed out for some bday celebrations for Sara’s bday!


We had drinks and cheered to another year of our Sara over salted caramel popcorn complete with peanuts, bacon, and rosemary (it sounds like an interesting combo, but it is an interesting combo that WORKS!).


I savored their irresistible pan seared salmon with sauvignon blanc sautéed salmon, asparagus, zucchini, red onion, red pepper, fennel, roasted beets, avocado, arugula, and lemon vinaigrette.


Tammy tried their butcher’s flat iron dip with carmalized onions, fresno chiles, mustard aioli, Havarti, and au jus.


Sara opted for their cowboy burger with shoestring onion rings, bacon, cheddar, and beer barbecue sauce.


We finished off with a complementary birthday Sundae for Sara. It was way too fun and nothing beats some good girl time. These two have kept my spirits afloat this year. I don’t know what I’d do without the two of them.


When I went home, I was greeted by some decadent truffles from another client of DJ’s. I am a sucker for truffles. I cannot get enough. You all know I love a good cliché, and does it get more cliché than Christmas truffles? I think not, and if loving this cliché is wrong I do not want to be right.


The 23rd-25th were work days. Guys, so much happens during my day on our crazy neuro floor and I have so many stories that I’d like to share (protecting all anonymity of course)…. But sometimes there is just too much to say and explain that I avoid sharing anything all together. These days were filled with my first patient fall, rushing a patient to surgery to prevent paralysis, and a few tears. The thing is…..each day I have worked has a story, a situation that would make you gasp, cringe, squirm, or cry tears of joy and sadness. I am afraid to share these stories because I don’t want to do an injustice to the experience, to the fact that these are real lives, real person’s & family’s reality. However, for 2018, I am considering sharing a story, maybe once a week or every couple of weeks before I forget them. I have learned more about humanity, vulnerability, compassion, patience, and love in this past year through neurosurgery. I’d love to share these lessons and stories that have left a footprint on my soul. So stay tuned for how that all plays out.


Our coworkers are so encouraging, and I’m thankful that we all have each other’s backs in the chaos.


Also, one of the nurses brought in this HOMEMADE cake. HOW?!?


The 26thDJ and I had our day to celebrate our Christmas. I kept telling him the 25th was our Christmas Eve. He played along like a trooper (even though I’d snap at him every time he mentioned Christmas being on the 25th… “NO HUN, IT’S CHRISTMAS EEEEVVVVVEEEEE”.

On our faux Christmas Day we slept until the cows came home and then had “Christmosas”, cinnamon rolls, an omelette, and I even made some turkey bacon for Deej. I love whipping up big meals, but now-a-days I feel like I have such little time to cook like I prefer to. This morning was a treat for me.


Deej figured out how to get a fireplace to play through our TV. I just love love love ! Thank gosh he knows how to work technology. I swear I am from the stone ages when it comes to working a remote control.


Christmosas: Dry champagne/ Martinelli’s grape juice/ granny smith apply slices/ pomegranate seeds.


We then blasted our Christmas music, put on our now traditional Christmas onesies and opened presents on the ground like a couple of children. It was obnoxiously fun, and I want to say a massive thank you to all who sent the most beautiful gifts and stockings to our house to give us a real Christmas. It really did feel like Christmas, and I am so thankful DJ played along with me. Jesus wasn’t actually born on the 25th, right?!


In the afternoon I laced up the new pair of Adidas Boosts DJ gifted me and headed out for  Christmas run… a Jingle Jog if you will! The weather was perfect, I had the sugar from the cinnamon rolls rushing through my veins- I was zooooming. Talk about a runner’s high! I felt like I could have ran forever. It was one of the most glorious runs I have ever had.


For dinner, I whipped up scallop and crab stuffed sole (from Omaha Steaks- thank you Aunt Terry and Uncle Pat), asparagus, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, cauliflower mashed potatoes, roasted veggies with tofu, and grand’s flaky biscuits. We savored every bite over some nice white Pinot Grigio and a Charlie Brown Christmas.

img_4979-1img_4978-1img_5007-1img_5011-1We finished the night with some GLORIOUS Moser Roth truffles (THE best truffles on planet earth- their strawberry rhubarb is a must-try) and our classic Chocolate Chip cookies.

For being an untraditional Christmas, we both agreed it was one of the best. This was certainly a year I will treasure forever. I loved celebrating with my patients and my husband. Sometimes different is not so bad.


I had to head back to work the 27th, it was a difficult shift..

I’m tired, y’all. So very tired. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Our project will soon be submitted and I will have a minute to breathe…. Maybe… we’ll see! I’m learning to just enjoy the small moments, take deep breaths, and count my blessings because there are so very many- this blog and all of you being one of them. This has been the hardest year of my life (besides the year I lost my Dad). But I would not trade it for the world.

This morning (28th) was filled with early morning wake up call, stuffing myself with some toast, a full on pat down going through security (I was basically stripped to my breeches in the airport), and now a minute to sit back and relax on the plane. We are heading to Dallas and are munching on nuts, a salad for me, and a burger for DJ. I am working on my thank you cards from Christmas (I am one of those odd birds that genuinely loves writing thank you cards). I cannot wait to see my momma and step dad, Pete, and of course, my little pooch, Jade.


I don’t usually make New Years Resolutions. But this year I have one…

I have learned an enormous amount this past year and one of those lessons is that there is freedom in vulnerability. I have things I want to share but have not yet had the courage to. I have slowly showed you all my heart in certain situations, but I hope in 2018 I can dive deeper, share more of my heart, and be honest about parts of my story that I have never shared before.

Thank you for sharing in our life, for supporting and encouraging us on our journey. I am thankful, I am so thankful for each of you.

xo ❤