“Dirt” Pudding Recipe

Hey everyone! Per request I am excited to share this super easy “dirt” recipe with you! This is one of our favorite desserts. It has taken some trial & error, but I think I’ve nailed down the perfect recipe.

Ingredients: 

  • 1.5 package of double stuffed Oreo cookies
  • 2 (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding
  • 4 C whole milk
  • 8 oz. cream cheese- room temperature*
  • 1/4 C butter- room temperature*
  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 8 oz. Cool Whip
  • Gummy Worms are optional!

** It is very important ingredients are at room temperature- the consistency will not be right & it will not blend well if they are not at room temp.

Directions:

  1. Put Oreos in a large gallon bag or two to crush. Use a rolling pin or wine bottle to crush into chunks. You also can put some of the Oreos in a food processor to create a fine dust to put directly on top.

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2. In a large bowl, whisk together the instant pudding with milk for 2 minutes until thoroughly mixed. Let sit for at least 5 minutes.

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3. While pudding is sitting, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until fluffy- 3 minutes or so. A Kitchen Aid is great for this step.

4. Reduce speed to low and add the powdered sugar. Gradually increase speed until fluffy texture is reached.

5. Using a rubber spatula, fold the cream cheese mix into the chocolate pudding. Then fold the cool whip in until completely combined.

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6. Assemble your dish- it can be done using any type of pan, dish, mini cups, etc. Alternate layers of the pudding mix/Oreos (and gummy worm if desired).

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Sometimes I top with the fine dust, depending on the mood.

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7. Let chill for at least five hours. Overnight is best!

8. Enjoy!

xo <3

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Friday Favorites #16!

Hey all!!! Top a’ tha mornin’ to ya! (or whenever you happen to be reading this). I’m not sure I have ever been so excited for a round of Friday Faves. Let’s not dilly-dally and rather jump right in, shall we?!

1.Thanksgiving Leftovers. Can I get an AMEN?! I swear they are even better after a couple days. I have been loving my acorn squash for breakfast with syrup or for lunch with a little Fage. Alsooo, I have been LOVING this pumpkin butter from William Sonoma. Goodness gracious I could live on the stuff.

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To get creative with the Turkey Lurkey, I added it to some zoodles and made a “turkey alfredo”.  I froze the rest in the freezer so it didn’t go bad. Did you know you can freeze roasted turkey for up to three months? I read it on the Internet, so it must be true.

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Oh and of course, ya gotta sprinkle some parm on top! I served it with some homemade garlic bread.

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After my runs I have been loving cauli mashed potatoes, pumpkin butter, cranberry crisps, pumpkin hummus, and a corn muffin. MMmm.

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2. My girl, Dani, has a blog & I am LIVING for her recent post to Tahoe with Tammy. You all will love this so much, promise! I seriously re-read the post three times because it feels like you are right there with them & her pictures are phenomenal!!! You can find her blog at embracethedetours.blog.

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3. ALSO Tammy, who you alll know well by now, has a new Instagram that is gonna blow your travelin’ socks off. It’s called backroadborn. She travels more than anyone I think I know (besides Dani) & has a heckuvah an eye for photography. Get ready to be wow-ed by some seriously stunning views !!

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4. Honey Chai Turmeric Vitality Tea. Wow, what a mouth full! And a delicious mouth full at that! (well maybe more of a sip, we don’t want anyone burnin’ their tasters). Anywho- this is such a yummy warm & cozy tea & it’s magical too. Since I’ve started having this once a day I’ve noticed the inflammation has gone down in my body tremendously, especially my knee!

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5. Garage sale at our house!!! JK…. I joke that Target is our second home considering we are there pretty much once a day (mostly due to the fact that I inevitably forget something).. but anyways… they are having awesome sales right now. I clipped a coupon for $20 off 100, then we found some deals on laundry detergent and other necessities where if you buy three you get a $10 gift card.  We stocked up on all our essentials & saved a ton, and left with gift cards in hand. Pah-retty cool deal if ya ask meee.

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6. I cannot put the Order of the Phoenix down; it’s my favorite yet- so goooood! Also, Christmas tends to put me in the mood for HP. Not sure why, probably the magic of it all. Aaaand we are going to Disney World/Universal studios soon! (eeeep, imma pass out from excitement). So to get ready, this past week I have been living in this magical world. When I’ve been working on school work or on long runs I have the series playing in the background- I watched all four movies this past week, plus any spare time I’ve spent reading the fifth book.

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7. Arrested Development. DJ and I have a new tv obsession. We started Making A Murderer II, and while it was really good we both needed a palette cleanser after Haunting of Hill House. This is gold. We are sold. If you like The Office, I highly recommend this! **Also fun fact- we saw Jason Bateman in person on our honeymoon— and one day when I was in the workout room he asked if he could turn down the music. I said no. Just kidding – of course, I said yes. I tried to work up the courage to say something else, but got scared & starstruck and ran out of the workout room. You guys know how I get. Hahaha.

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8. I finally tried Boarshead dessert hummus… and the verdict? I am obsessed. FULL FLEDGED obsessed! I love eating the two flavors with pretzels & putting the dark chocolate one in my oatmeal in the morning. It is so fudgy, almost like frosting! I am telling you- you must try this!!!

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9. The Campfire Marshmallow Candle from Chesapeake Bay Candle. Oh my does this smell ever delicious! It burned a little quicker than I’d like- but that’s probably what happens when you burn a candle 24-7. (Pssst, I’ll tell ya a secret: we got it from Target).

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10.  This meme. If you know, you know.

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Questions for you:

  • Do you have any candles you swear by?
  • Any creative way to use up leftovers?

xo <3

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Our First Ever Hosted Thanksgiving!

Hi, Everyone!!! Happy Sunday to youu! Currently it’s Saturday night, we’ve got some Elton John playing, and DJ is working on a graphic for work! It’s a goooood night. Time to recap Thanksgiving week!

Monday the 19th I ran on the tready while doing a bunch of reading for school. Then I headed over to Peet’s, chatted with my favorite barista, Connie, and then get started on listening to lectures.

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After studying up, I did the big ole’ trip to Safeway for alllllz the Thanksgiving goodies. I haven’t shopped at Safeway in forever since discovering TJ’s, but there were a few items I wasn’t sure TJ’s would have, so I just did my whole trip there using my Safeway account. I hardcore lallygag when I grocery shop. I love grocery shopping. I look forward to it during my week, and truly get lost in the aisles while listening to my podcast. Anyone else see grocery shopping as the equivalent of going to the park?

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I went to Peet’s again on Tuesday the 20th, and witnessed the most horrendous parking job of all time. It’s super hard to find a good parking spot in this lot- so I was a bit miffed. I truly don’t know why I’m sharing this- but it’s cathartic- so here we are.

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I whipped out my major assignment for the week and wrapped up my discussion boards, so I could focus on Thanksgiving activities the rest of the week!

For starters, Wednesday November 21st I designated as a full on prep/clean/cook day. I relish in days like this. They make me so happy. Also, for the first time in a long time it was raining!! You can hear my reaction in a tragic run-on sentence. tehehe.

This was much needed after the fires and totally purified the air. I will never take for granted fresh luxurious air again! My runs outside since have been filled with the smell of pine and a crispness. Anyways- first, I picked up few last minute items I forgot in my first trip (did you actually host a thanksgiving without multiple trips last minute to the store?). Once home, I grabbed some tea to warm me from the chill outside (I already had hit my coffee limit for the day), listened to Up and Vanished and cooked my heart out! (Also DJ had the day off, which added an element of warmth to the apartment just having him there).

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Now, I am a bit mischievous, I must say. I secretly made a couple vegan dishes- and only waited till after they were confirmed delicious before divulging that they were in fact vegan 😉

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First up- vegan cauli. mashed taters!!! I also made regular mashed potatoes the day of, but I didn’t get pictures. So for these ones, ya just boil your cauli, put in a food processor with butter, salt, and pepper, and then you are good to go! I loveee them, especially with a little gravy on top!

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Next up- my vegan stuffed acorn squash! This was my “main course” for the big day. I was going to use the chicken I discovered at TJ’s, but was craving these even bit more.

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Next- pumpkin hummus ! Mmmm mmm so good! I served it with the pumpkin cranberry crisps from TJ’s. Golden combo (and of course I had to taste test the day before 😉 ).

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Nowwww- some vegan sweet potato casserole!!!

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I waited until actual Thanksgiving day to top with mallows to make sure the mallows wouldn’t get stale overnight or overcook.

Oh, and is it actually thanksgiving without green bean casserole?! This has traditionally been one of my favorite dishes (although this year I think I even liked the sweet potato casserole more!). I used this vegan recipe from Delish. I will say it does need a dash of salt at the end to top it off- but besides that it was scrumptious!

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And totalllly not vegan, but totally necessary- mac and cheeeeeeseeee!

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DJ rated this a “10” and said it was the best mac and cheese he has ever had. (He doesn’t blow smoke either- always gives it to me straight!). He even said it was better than Homeroom’s *gasp*. I mean it was great, but I don’t know if I’d go that far….

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And the last thing I made that day was DJ’s requested dirt. I love/hate when he requests it because the stuff is so darn addictive!

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I don’t have a rolling pin to crush the Oreos, so I use a wine bottle lol. Works like a champ.

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I also de-grouted my kitchen floors. They needed it badly!

Before

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After- Not perfect- but much better!

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Ready to go 🙂

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I topped off the evening with my usual nightly ice cream cone (I just rotate through flavors year round- currently we are on a chocolate brownie kick, and always have to add the cashews).

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Thanksgiving morning I had a stellar 15-mile run in the clear air under beautiful blue skies.

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I returned home around 11 am and then got started on the Turkey. My mom was a lifesaver answering my questions over the phone about the giblets and whatever-the-heck else I didn’t understand for my first turkey roast haha.

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And now for the final spread left to right: roasted multicolor honey herbed carrots/corn muffins/green bean casserole/croissants/regular hummus, grape, and pecan pumpkin butter, pumpkin hummus/turkey with stuffing/stuffed acorn squash/mac and cheese/mashed potatoes (vegan & regular)/sweet potato casserole/apple pie (Amy’s homemade!)/pumpkin pie/deviled eggs!

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Amy and her boyfriend joined us for the feast!! (Yes, that was only for only four people, haha). If you want leftovers please stop by because we have sooo much.

Unfortunately, I did make one boo boo. I forgot to take the chilled cranberry sauce out of the fridge. How do you forget the cranberry sauce??!!?!

After stuffing ourselves to the brim, we played the first season of Hunt a Killer. It’s a detective subscription box where you try to solve a murder (Amy and I are total true crime junkies). We actually solved it fairly quickly with four minds working together.

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After, we played Office trivia while eating Amy’s amazing apple pie and then they headed back to the city.

Ah, so much to be thankful for. God is so darn good. I think where I was mentally & emotionally this time last year, and it’s amazing to see all the goooood that has happened since. Even though we missed a big part of our family this year, I was reminded just how grateful I am for them and the small blessings of each day. Love to you all.

Questions for you: 

  • I gotta know- favorite Thanksgiving dish?

xo <3

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Candytopia!

Happy happy Saturday, everyone! I hope all my American friends had the most wonderful Thanksgiving and everyone else had a beautiful week. Currently I am sipping on a cup of coffee with the OSU vs. Michigan game on in the background and DJ working on a project next to me. I have just been relishing in this long weekend. I can’t wait to share how my first time hosting Thanksgiving went- but I don’t want to pass over last Sunday November 18th! So, without further adieu, let us jump into the land of Candytopia!!

Candytopia is a pop-up interactive candy experience- basically a Candyland come to life! I loveee my candy, so when I heard about this I couldn’t pass it up. My sister in law, Amy, joined me!

Our tickets were for noon, so I drove down from Cupertino around 10 am to make sure we had plenty of time for parking, etc.

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All the sculptures in Candytopia are made of candy. It’s pretty sweet!

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Time to go inside!!

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We all shuffled into a lobby-type room before starting the tour while they explained the rules, explained how to use the app, and gave a general intro. I was shocked at the creativity just in this room alone. I mean look at this dragon- entirely made of candy. They have a sign next to each piece saying what it is made of and how long it took to construct.. this took 542 hours!

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Also in each room you enter there is a box of candy with yummies for the taking.

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My candy corn lovin’ self was lovin’ this fox

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We all congregated into the next room as Lindor Truffle’s propelled down on the other side of a clock from the ceiling! I LOVE these. Some of the yummiest chocolate.

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We then took an escalator downstairs into another room…

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This room was bright and playful! It felt like we were in Willy Wonka’s factory.

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My favorite part of the room was this little toad stool.

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The next room was a chandelier room with epic recreations of some prominent figures & just fun photos.

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Then there was a little crossover area with large blow up balloons and a photo op!

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Next room- the underwater room! This one may have been my favorite for the actual aesthetic effect.

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But the room with the most laughs- the Unicorn room!

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Yes- you are interpreting this photo correctly– there is a pig farting confetti. Only in SF, folks, only in SF. hahaha.

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I am still finding confetti around the house even after vacuuming several times, hah!

And now.. onto the marshmallow pit! We had a hard time getting a solid picture.. oh well. It was SOO much fun. Talk about feeling like a kid again!

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We ended in the gift-store with some fun, unique finds! We were gushing over how cool this Candy Sushi was!

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Amy and I grabbed a quick cup of coffee at Starbucks, and then I headed back to Cup to meet up with DJ. Time to get our tree!!! We usually don’t get our tree until after thanksgiving, but this couple of weeks is crazy busy & I didn’t want to fight the masses that would be going to get them this weekend.

This year we went to a place in the mountains of Los Gatos called Tabacco Ranch.

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We had an extra hard time this year finding the right tree, on top of my general indecisiveness. I don’t know if it was a bad year for trees or if the thick smoke damaged a lot of them, because there were many that seemed to be missing entire halves and branches. But finally- we stumbled across THE one! *cue angels singing Hallelujah chorus in unison*

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Okay, time to go eat some leftovers & then work on the Thanksgiving post! 🙂

Questions for you:

  • Favorite candy?
  • Christmas tree- real or fake? Colored lights or white lights? I always love hearing what everyone prefers to do!

xo <3

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Little bit of this, a little bit of that!

Hi, everyone!!! Before the holidays catapult into full force I am hoping to play a little catch up with the happenings from the last couple weeks. This is gonna be one heckuvah hodge-podge post. Oh, but before I forget- please check your Spam! My comments have been getting stuck there again. 🙁 Oh dear WP, all I do is love youuuu , why must you do this to me?!

Anyywho, November 6th after returning from Austin was a day full of school work. The days entirely devoted to school are such a blur! I don’t remember the day itself- but I do know I made trout with roasted zucchini and brown rice. Mmm mmm. Such an easy go-to meal. DJ had his leftover tacos per usual.

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November 7th I went on a lovely seven mile run in the morning.

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In the evening I made DJ bow-tie pasta with a garlic breadstick from TJ’s. Highly recommend- these are quickly becoming a favorite in our home! I had a repeat dinner of the night before.

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Thursday November 8th, I enjoyed a nice run again, then finished up some discussion boards and went to Boys & Girls club in the afternoon. In the evening, since I was ahead of my schedule for school work for the week, I treated myself to a little in-home spa night!! I heard of this amazing face mask featured below from Maureen. (Also she just finished her first marathon this past weekend!! Woooohooo!).

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Anyways, I think I could count on one hand the number of facials I have done in my life (okay maybe one finger- I’ve always been skeptical that they actually do anything), but this was so nice!

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I poured myself a nice glass of wine in my San Jose Giants glass and plopped on the couch to catch up on blogs after taking off the face mask. The Aztec clay worked so well, and I truly feel that I felt a difference in the brightness and smoothness of my face. If you end up using this, I will say you need less than you think- a little goes a long way!

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November 9th I took the day off from running and decided to go for a morning walk before getting started on my massive assignment for the semester. The trees finally are tryin’ to make it feel like fall. A for effort I say 😉

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Our Friday was pretty uneventful- I worked on my huge paper & just chilled with DJ at home.

Saturday November 10th provided a little respite from the crazy studies!! I ran a fourteen-miler in the morning and then we went to the most epic annual holiday party hosted by our friend Nicole (one of DJ’s coworkers) and her family. You may remember it from last year!

All they ask is that you bring a nonperishable item- isn’t that a wonderful idea for a holiday party?

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The decor, the food……. everything is just done up superbly. It is truly the party of the year. My pictures do not even display the half of it. There was an entire other room with hot food (the most delicious apple crepes I have ever had) and a mimosa bar outside on their stunning patio.

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Peek the Rombauer crate 😉

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For dessert, there were pumpkin crunch parfaits that I was like, “I am so stuffed, but I have to have one bite”… yeah, right! Good luck stopping after one bite of these little guys. Dessert stomach came in the clutch that day.

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They also had these darling caramel apples. The creativity is just next level with everything. *cue Ciara’s Level Up*

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Nicole’s family is so fun to be around and make you feel like one of their own. I had been looking forward to this party for months, and it was full of nothing but laughs, great convo and new friends. <3

The morning of November 11th DJ proposed we go to Toast before Church. Who am I to object?! Since DJ “bumps in” to help set up for church, we drove separately and met there. I squeezed in a run before and was starvin’ marvin’ by the time I arrived.

Snuck a shot of this cutie before he noticed. Shhhhhh.

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This time I had to actually try their toast. I had the mushroom toast with whipped mascarpone and goat cheese, sautéed spinach, egg whites, garlic, peppers, mushrooms, a touch of marsala wine, & balsamic glaze all on sourdough toast. It was phenomenal!!! The savory creaminess and the cheese blends on the toasty sourdough was unbelievable ! (And actually totally feasible to recreate at home).

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And like I said.. I was so hungry! I ordered a side of french toast to see if it was any good. I will say it was about average. Not worth ordering, but glad I gave it a go, so now I know. Didn’t mean to rhyme, but guess it was just the time!

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Of course, DJ had to order the winning chocolate chip pancakes! He always lets me have a bite, bless him.

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We went to church then had a nice nap in the afternoon with football on in the background. Sunday fall football naps are the best naps.

In the evening I was having a craving for some pizza! I made a vegan pizza on butternut squash from Trader Joe’s. I had high hopes for the butternut squash crust, but it missed the mark. I would say stick with the cauli crust. I think the butternut squash should have been more of a root veggie pizza maybe with hummus rather than a traditional marinara based pizza! (but of course, I still ate every little bite).

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I topped it with their almond cheese- TJ’s almond mozzarella is some of my favorite! It is some of the best vegan cheese I think I’ve found.

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DJ had leftover pasta, and then for dessert I made some overdue tollhouse cookies for us. We finished the Haunting of Hill House… It ended on a beautiful note! I heard on a podcast that Haunting of Hill House is the This is Us of horror… I felt like it was a pretty accurate description. hahah.

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November 12th was back to the grind with school, but with the California fires weighing on my mind. This picture below was taken at 4:30 pm. The sun was blocked by all the smoke, and this is the eerie scene that resulted. It seriously felt somewhat apocalyptic.

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I thought the air was better on November 13th, so I went on a nice walk in the morning before hitting the books.

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There were some radiant blooms!!

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Unfortunately, when I came home I had an awful headache and felt somewhat nauseous. I think I thought the smoke cleared too soon— quite literally. 🙁 Even being so close to everything going on it’s hard to wrap my head around- I just pray for everyone affected and that has lost their home or loved ones. It is devastating.

November 14th I started the day with some toast: pomegranate and Fage with a sprinkle of Shakeology protein powder on cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread. Mmm mmm! I am loving pomegranates lately – except for the fact that it looks like a crime scene when I’m cutting them up.

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Since then we have been pretty much confined indoors. DJ kept insisting on going outside for his run, but I pulled the nurse card and wouldn’t let him. Usually you can see mountains in the background- but everywhere you looked was smoky. It is much better now though!

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Oh, super random story- but kinda funny, I use my old mac laptop (barely operating) to do Insanity since that’s what I have it downloaded on… but when I brought it up from doing a workout it went haywire. It made an unnervingly LOUD buzzing noise (not the normal fan whir)– I actually thought it was going to blow up! I put it on the floor in the bathroom and called the Mac customer service hotline. I think the guy thought I was a nut when I led into the convo with, “I think my laptop is gonna blow up”….. It stopped whirring about two minutes into the phone call (of course)… so I just let it be. I don’t have anything seriously important on there, but I am just glad it didn’t self combust hahah.

Thursday the 15th- Saturday the 17th was full of Boys & Girls Club, studying, and working on my big assignment! I made a major dent, which is such a relief. I can’t wait to share my Sunday with you in San Francisco- but that is for another post 🙂

PS. If you are still looking for a yummy side dish/dish for any vegetarian/vegan friends I have one that I just love! I am making it this Thursday and thought it’d be fun to do a little link up with the recipe here.

Anywho- have the best Thanksgiving everyone 🙂

Questions for you:

  • Any go-to face masks you really like?
  • Favorite Thanksgiving recipe? Please share a link if ya have one!

xo <3

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*There are affiliate links in this post, but all opinions are my own*

Austin, TX!

Happy Thursday! And welcome to a travel post! This is a short & sweet one, as we were in Austin for only about 24 hours. BUT we did our best to make the most of it 🙂

So, as many of you know, DJ is checking out different schools/campuses for grad school (MBA). We decided to give UT Austin an in-person visit since he’d never been, but it’s one of the schools he is considering. On Saturday November 3rd I spent the day packing, tying up loose ends around the house, trying to get as much school work done as possible, cleaning, etc.

Around 4:45 am on November 4th I woke up to run, then around 6:30 am we grabbed an Uber to the airport!

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The only thing that made standing through security and the long lines bearable was the promise of Peet’s at the end. *Big deep sigh of bliss* Nothing like Peet’s and reading about reformed Medicare at 7:30 am.

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I studied majority of the plane trip, so I hardly even remember it. I do know the turbulence was awful, and I don’t do well at all with that. But we still arrived, safe and sound 🙂 The Uber driver was very informative and we learned a ton about Austin on our way just to the hotel. Gosh, everyone is soo dern friendly in TX!

We stayed at The Hampton Inn that was closest to right off campus. It was super convenient, cheap, and easily the nicest Hampton Inn we have ever stayed.

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Highly recommend if you are ever in Austin. Those hotels downtown can be pricy- this one was a real bang for the buck!

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And in light of keeping Austin weird they had an intentionally spray painted wall & a photo booth, lol.

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This was on the inside of the elevator… Austin and I will get along just fine!

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We were greeted by a cute little Armadillo & a coffee maker first step into the room, so we were happy as a couple clams! <3

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After dropping our stuff off at the hotel, we walked across the street to UT Austin to check out the grounds!

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It is a stunning campus!

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After walking around for a while, we realized we were quite hungry (‘magine that!). We went back to the hotel, grabbed some water at their cute little water stand in the lobby, and then changed out of our frumpy travel clothes.

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If you know me, you know before big trips I can spend an absurd amount of time researching restaurants. I came to the conclusion that The Salty Sow was a must!

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It was such a warm little space!

img_1523Luckily we came in time for the tail end of Happy Hour, so we tried a few apps at only $5. *In voice of Dorothy: We aren’t in California anymore*.

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First, we had to try the “duck fat” fries. Not even sure what that means, but goodness gracious, they were crispy, delicious perfection. And how fun that they were served with a fry-d egg!

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Next, we had to try the Brussel Sprouts. These were hands down, the BEST Brussel sprouts we have ever had. DJ isn’t even a huge fan of brussels usually, but he kept saying over and over he couldn’t believe how tasty they were.

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For main entrees, DJ ordered the slow cooked beef shoulder with yukon gold mashed potatoes, glazed root vegetables, and a fried egg. It was served in a literal pan.

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DJ loved it.

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For my main, I had the chef’s veggie antipasto platter. It didn’t give a large description of everything that would be on it, but I’ve never met a veggie I haven’t  liked. The platter was massive! I thought “there is no way I can finish all that!”.. but whaddya know, everything was so delicious I couldn’t leave a scrap.

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We were pretty tired and somewhat disoriented from traveling/time change/daylight savings, so we just went back to the hotel to get a nice night slumber & watch Haunting of Hill House. In the morning of November 5th, DJ met with a student from the school of business while I cranked out a six-miler on the treadmill while reading for school. After…. brekky time! At home I usually have breakfast before working out, but when traveling I usually like to work out first thing and work up a massive appetite before chowing down. It makes all the food taste sooo guuuuud.

Look how pretty this buffet area is!!! I just love a good hotel breakfasts.

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The coffee was soo yummy too.

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I grabbed a chocolate scone, fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, a hard boiled egg, and studied for my research course while fueling up for the day.

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While waiting for DJ to return, I watched some lectures in the hotel room and then somehow dozed back to sleep.

When he came back it was around 11:30/12 and we still had some time before our flight. We decided spur of the moment to squeeze in a few more eats before heading back. First stop: Tumble 22! I actually had a Austin food blogger (AustinEater) reach out with the suggestion.

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They claimed it was the best chicken sandwich ever, and DJ confirmed.

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Right next door was a fun little spot called Ranch 616 that had pescatarian- friendly eats for ya girl, so we decided to swing in.

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The atmosphere was wonderful- nice &  relaxing, buzzing with character!

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First, we had to try their Southern Kitchen Living award winning “best oysters in the South” oysters! I am not a big fan of fried food because often I feel like all you taste is the “fried” flavor and nothing else (plus sometimes thereafter tummy troubles)… but these were jam packed with spectacular flavor. And the aioli they served with it was just the best, creamiest compliment. DJ swore he wasn’t hungry after having that massive sandwich, but after having one bite of these he had his share 😉

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I also tried their shrimp tacos which were Mmmmmm mmmmm mmmmm! My mouth also waters just thinking about the jalapeño onion rings. I may never be able to enjoy standard onion rings the same way again.

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Time to head back to the hotel. Luckily, where we stayed we were able to walk to everything except the airport while we were there. This saved on getting a rental car and also allowed us to see more of the city on foot.

I loved this mural we spotted on the way back!

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The rest of the day was a full travel day with a layover in Denver. It all went pretty smoothly. I just studied the entire time and actually knocked out a decent amount of school work for the week!

Questions for you:

  • Have you been to Austin? If so, do you have any favorite restaurants/ things to do?
  • If you could visit a city for 24 hours where would it be?

xo <3

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Friday Favorites #16!

Happy Friday, everyone!!! I was not planning on publishing a Friday Faves today, but I am having the worst time focusing on school this morning. It smells thick of smoke from the wildfires and my eyes are dry- it’s making it hard to read and absorb the info. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by Camp Fire (and the shooting). My stomach hurts thinking about everything going on 🙁 So scary, so awful. What’s happening to us, guys? *Sigh* I didn’t even plan on mentioning this, but my heart is breaking for the pain & loss being experienced by so many.

Anyways, Friday Favorites are always some of my favorite posts to post (Did that sentence even make sense?). Publishing one always brightens my spirits, and I hope it brightens yours as well! I’m currently enjoying an extra cup of pumpkin spiced joe (it’s a three cup of coffee type morning) and am excited to share some highlights before hitting the books again. Luckily, I have the whole weekend to just focus on a massive paper I have due soon. Alrighty ! Leggo!

  1. Apple Cider Donuts from Trader Joe’s. We haven’t been great this year about doing all the traditional autumn activities, but really, all ya need is an apple cider donut (or six) to call your fall a win!!!

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2. Brooks Ghost Runners  & Berry Inserts. This has been my go-to shoe/insert pairing for the last six(ish) years, maybe more! Before using this combo I had horrible shin splints. I have been fighting some serious knee pain recently, then realized I haven’t replaced my shoes in nearly five months. That’s far too long when you are marathon training. Since replacing them my knee already feels much better, but I’m gonna take it easy this week to try to let it heal up.

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3. TJ’s Lightlife Smart Tenders. Oh, how I love Lightlife. Their smart tenders are just insanely good, vegan, and super high in protein.

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I like dicing up the tenders, heating them up, and throwing them in my salads. For thanksgiving, I am going to eat these with gravy as my “turkey”. (Of course I’ll make a real turkey too for the meat eaters 😉 ).

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4. Dang, this is quickly becoming a TJ’s Friday Fave! Have y’all tried these pumpkin cranberry crisps yet?! OH man they are good! I like dipping them in greek yogurt for an afternoon snack. Mm mm. I may need to go grab some now!

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Okay, back, with crisps in hand! Onto the next one….

5. If you follow the bachelor, you have to read this exchange between Arie & Sean Lowe. Too funny.

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6. My sister asked me to be her maid of honor!!  After a lot of contemplation and ambivalence about my answer (jk jk), I said yes! I am so so excited. She asked me with this cute little scratch off  & a wine glass that had an inside joke engraved on it. Her wedding is next July 🙂

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Not a super high quality picture, but a high quality moment!

facetune_07-11-2018-18-50-23(PS. JUST in case anyone notices, I’m not wearing my ring in the pic because I was deep cleaning the apartment this day haha- there is zero trouble in paradise 😉 ). Although speaking of which- can you believe Kaitlyn and Shawn’s breakup (bachelor franchise reference)?! *insert shocked emoji*. Although I’m not alll that shocked. There were some signs. Okay, I need to move on. Hahah.

7. We are a bit late to the game with this one. But we are LOVING The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. We watched the first episode and weren’t sure how we felt, but after the second one we were glued to the series. I think we may binge it tonight depending how much work I get done to try to finish the ‘sodes. We have three left!

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8. This is an unusual Friday Fave- but this past week when checking out at my local Target I was chatting away with one of my favorite cashiers, and right before I left she threw a bunch of free goods into my shopping bag! I used up everything already except the lavender + sage soap (which I smells delightful and I’ll be opening it up today). I particularly loved the lemon sage lotion– yummy!  Shoutout to my local TarJay employees – y’all are the real MVPs!

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9. This. Just this.

img_1422-110. Ebates!!!

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Oh man, oh man! A few of you recommended signing up and installing this into my internet toolbar for cashback on purchases after my Savings September post. All I gotta say is….. what have I been doing my whole life?! This is incredible. It’s so easy, and I already am racking up cashback on things I already buy all the time. Thank you tons for the recommendation!!! If you want to sign up, click this link!

Questions for you:

  • Current favorite Trader Joe’s Product?
  • Any weekend plans?

xo <3

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**There are affiliated links in this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own**

All the Carbs, Please!!

Hey, Hi, Hellur! I worked my tush off this week promising myself I could blog a bit tonight if I could get “x” number of assignments done! Annnd here we are! Wooohooo!!! The last week and a half was stuffed to the brim with soo many fun things. I cannot wait to share!

Sunday October 28th we went to church in the morning. I came home and whipped up a stuffed purple sweet potato with some leftover crab from my giant sushi burrito, avocado, and fage.

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It hit the spot! In the afternoon I worked on a massive school assignment that is due at the end of November while DJ worked on grad school schtuff. For a little break I ran to TJ’s.

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^These pumpkin biscottis were mighty tasty with some coffee!!!

img_1275  On my way home I received this text from my mom- in case anyone has a Boarshead near ya I thought you’d appreciate me passing it on 😉 How good does this sound?! Has anyone tried any dessert hummus?

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When I came home from our massive haul I whipped DJ and me up a Margherita Pizza.

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The way it bubbles gets me every time 🤤

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Monday October 29th all my new assignments were released. I worked, worked, worked as did DJ. For dinner I made him Bison Tacos per his request (I swear he never gets sick of these things haha), and I made myself a giant garden salad.

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October 30th was the same ole’ as the day before. Except for dinner I used some mini raviolis I found at Trader Joe’s to make mac n’ cheese ravioli.

I also tossed in a little tomato sauce and a bit of parm on top. I love the texture of parm on top of any pasta- always the perfect finishing touch!

img_1235I had a tiny bit with my favorite salad, and DJ pretty much destroyed the rest 😉

In the evening I perused through Food & Wine magazine to get ideas brewing for Thanksgiving. I am PSYCHED to cook up a storm this year.

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In the morning of October 31st (Happy Halloweeeen!), I had a nice long run outside greeted by a beautiful day. The sky said summer, but the leaves were begging for fall. Welcome to California autumn, haha. I am LIVING for all of your autumn pictures you guys have been posting. It’s so different here. I still love the weather, don’t get me wrong- but I do miss the gray skies, chill and smell of “fall” in the air.

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I worked all day on assignments, and then headed into the city to meet up with my friend, Cynthia, from my residency cohort! I haven’t seen her since we graduated from the program in March. I’ve missed her! We have stayed in touch, but haven’t had a chance to get together. As I drove into the city a beautiful palette of colors greeted me along the skyline.

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Of course, pictures never do justice 😉

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We went to her favorite local pizza joint, Ardiana’s. We have similar taste buds, so we decided to split a couple dishes. First up was the roasted Brazillian broccolini, white anchovies, chili oil, preserved lemon, and pecorino romano. It was beyond delightful. Oh my! I don’t know the last time I’ve had anchovies- but I’m allll about um’ now! The combo was perfection.

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We followed this dish with a pizza with funghi, caramelized onions, thyme, fontina, and moltinero truffled pecorino. The truffled flavor is something I have dreamt about ever since. This was easily one of the tastiest pizzas I have ever tried. Better than Pizza Antica even! I dare say it was even better than Jack Rose Libation House which before stood as my favorite.

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I stayed at my SIL, Amy’s, apartment for the evening since I was a bit nervous driving all the way home late on Halloween evening. I slept so well and woke up to this gorgeous view on the morning of November 1st.… I just love this city <3 Not a bad way to start the month 🙂

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At around 7:30 I headed toward the Embarcadero to squeeze in a run before heading home. I have been craving a run on the Embarcadero lately. Do you all remember when Annie lived here? I used to love staying at her apartment and getting up early to sneak in a run on the water. It is the bestttt.

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After my run, I decided I still had time before I wanted to head back to Cupertino. I was loving loving loving being in the city. I went back to the car, grabbed my laptop and school materials then headed to Peet’s in the Ferry Building.

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I grabbed a quest bar for breakfast and had to see what this vegan eggplant “bacon” was all about. It wasn’t too bad, but way too expensive for what it tasted like. I actually prefer my homemade eggplant strips to this!

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I was happy as a stinking clam. I just missed Kate because this is the Peet’s where we first met in person! I sent her a little snap of the table we sat and chatted at.

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I was surprisingly productive for being so giddy. I knocked out one solid assignment and decided to head home to eat up some groceries rather than spend more money eating out.

On Friday November 2nd, I had a gala for Boys & Girls Clubs. Okay, I haven’t really mentioned this on the blog yet…. but this has been a big part of my life for the last couple months. This also probably explains why I haven’t been able to get out my posts in a timely manner, haha. First, I help third graders with their homework on Thursdays. I just adore these kiddos and always get the cutest little drawings haha. Yes, I have one eye in the middle one 😉

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It has been one of the most rewarding, lovely, amazing experiences. Truly a highlight of my week! Next, I have been mentoring a high school girl and helping her get ready to compete in something called “Youth of the Year” (YOY). They choose three outstanding high schoolers from the program, they each write a speech about what the club has done for them, and then compete for a scholarship. I have grown close to the girl I’m mentoring, and when the opportunity came to volunteer for the gala I eagerly signed up since it meant I could see her give her speech!

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I chatted with her and the other two YOY contestants before, we ran through their speeches, and then just all hung out trying to calm their nerves. I then went to help out at the raffle table when the event began.

Oh, and if you are a fan of Happy Days or Holes, you may recognize Henry Winkler, the guest speaker for the evening. He was great and entertaining!

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I wasn’t planning on taking pictures for the evening, but since I was tucked away in the corner at the raffle with no one around me for dinner time (except a couple third grade twins I was watching for the evening) I decided to sneak in a few shots 🙂 I had the butternut squash ravioli. It was tasty but unfortunately a bit cold when it came out- that’s whatchya get with banquet food sometimes! I know, I worked in the banquet industry. Difficult to keep all that food warm for sure.

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For dessert they brought out a raspberry mousse stuffed cookie. This was just incredibly delicious. I savored every little bit of this thing!

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Here are all the awe-inspiring, amazing students lined up!

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She didn’t win, but to say I was SO proud of her would be an understatement. I was bursting with pride watching her speak so eloquently and confidently. She vulnerably shared parts of her life and demonstrated a courage that amazed me. It was a wonderful night. I hope to continue to mentor her in some way even though this event is over. DJ attended our church gala, and although I was sad I couldn’t be in two places at once he shared every detail with me! I will save that for the next post.  Oh, and next recap is a travel post- yeeehaw! 🙂 **I don’t have time to edit this post because we want to watch Haunting of Hill House, so please excuse errors that I will cringe at when I find them tomorrow, lol. Goodnight one and all!**

Questions for you:

  • Favorite pizza toppings?
  • Pizza or pasta? I know, I know.. cruel to make you even choose!

xo <3

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Flights & a Sushi Burrito!

Aaaand let’s jump right into the better half of last week! Currently it is midnight, my neighbors are being loud per usual (But they are leaving within the next week!), and I am eating mac and cheese. No one can be mad while eating mac and cheese. Monday the 21st, I had my big ole’ midterm- It went really well! Deep breaths of relief all around 🙂 The rest of the day was horribly unproductive. I still received a whole new round of assignments for the week, but barely made a dent. Brain fried like an egg on cement on a hot July day in the south. Tuesday the 22nd to Thursday the 24th I chipped away at my assignments, but felt super off. I had a weirdly hard time focusing- my emotions were alllll over the place, and I had that “impending doom” feeling for no reason. I told my mom on the phone I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a full moon because this is how I get around them (aka off my rocker)… turns out it was! Hahah. All is right in the world now though- as soon as it started waning we were back on track. DJ thinks I’m nuts blaming my emotional crises on the moon- but it. all. makes. sense. I can palpably feel y’alls’ eyerolls- “there she goes…. talking in crazy Californian”. teheh.

Anyways, nuff of the hog wash. So, I am sooo excited to share that I received my first ever foodie invite!! You might remember Flights from here or here. I just love this spot! Everything, food and drink, is served in Flights of three. I received a DM in my foodstagram (*mackncheeeesy… subtle plug*) inviting me to “media” night at their new location opening in Mountain View. I have to be honest– immediately I was terrified by the thought of “media night”.. doubting my worth being there, worrying about the logistics, etc. But I have learned this last year the power of just saying “yes”. Any type of event that I don’t know 100% what to expect can be kinda scary- but usually the unexpected turns into some of the greatest memories.

Back to the fooood (important things)!

We walked up to the stunning entrance and had to give our names on the list- heart racing- are our names going to be on there?! They were. Phew! We were greeted with champagne and encouraged to take a seat wherever we wanted. We found a nice little table and then were given a menu. The CEO came over, shook our hands, and told us to indulge to our hearts content. I was floored- everything was FREE! Everything was complimentary. WHAT?! We ordered sooo much food- trying to avoid what we had already tried. And we still haven’t tried everything. My goal is to try literally every food item on the menu! At this point I think I have like 2 more dishes to try haha.

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Oh, so this is a pretty fun detail— if you need service you press the “service” button, same with pay and dessert respectively.

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They also had spreads for us to snap shots of too!

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Now for what we ordered! We started with the hummus.. and holy smashed chickpeas… it blew me away. I never expect much from hummus after having Oren’s… but this was dang good! And the pita was warm and fluffy. The flavors they have are avocado cilantro, roasted red pepper, and roasted garlic. I truly could not pick a favorite!

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We also ordered the veggie pizzas— this is easily one of my favorite things on the menu. They had blue cheese apple, pesto margherita, and mushroom teriyaki. I think I love the mushroom teriyaki best, but the pesto margherita was close behind as was the blue cheese apple. YUM!

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We ordered their salad flight too- I would say they were just okay. The caprese was the best of the three!

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The star of the show in my opinion, was the tuna! SO GOOD! My mouth waters just thinking about it- so fresh, so delish!

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I went with my good friend, Sara, who y’all probably recognize by now! DJ’s new favorite video game came out that Friday so while he graciously offered to go with me I knew he’d much rather be gaming. Plus I hadn’t spent time with Sara in a while so this was a perfect excuse to hangout. Also can we have a moment to just admire her hair? Seriously the most beautiful hair in the woorrrrld.

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We had to try at least one meat item- cause I gotta be objective for my carnivores out there! I tried one bite of each, as did Sara- and we agreed the truffle empanada was the best of the three. So tasty. The al pastor and ground beef were a bit too salty for our liking.

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To top off the meal we had beignets!

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I’ve beignet waiting all my life for a flight like this <3

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HEAVEN! They surpassed all expectations!! facetune_31-10-2018-11-10-22

It ended up being just a wonderful event, so easy and fun! I am super glad we said yes. I will say the next day I started feeling insecure when I saw everyone’s gorgeous photos of the spreads from the same event. I started comparing myself to the other food bloggers, thinking of all the different shots I should have grabbed, but quickly remembered one of my go-to fave nuggets of wisdom “Comparison is the thief of joy”. I am not a professional, I do this for fun, and that’s exactly what it was! I am grateful to have been invited in the first place, and it was truly an unforgettable experience!

Saturday morning of the 27th I went for a nice run in the morning followed by a riveting CPR class to renew my license. How does two years go by so quickly?!

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I desperately needed to go to the grocery store, but wanted to work on school work in the evening… so I messaged DJ to see if I could pick up some food for us from the mall nearby (this mall has the greatest food options! I seriously go there just for their food sometimes). I was craving Sushirrito, and he wanted Panda. I grabbed him some orange chicken and I tried a BL item– the ultimate Sumo Crunch roll!

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I was a starvin’ marvin’ at this point, so I also snatched some seaweed salad to tide me over. It literally didn’t even make it home…. I wonder what other drivers were thinking hahah. And yes, I ate it with the chopsticks. And yes, I spilled it all over myself (goes without saying).

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And now for the epic Sumo Crunch roll!!! I will say I loved the amount of crab on it and the red tempura flakes – mmm mmmm. I still think I preferred some of the other rolls better. Some people say you should get it with tempura shrimp, so maybe that’s what I need to do next time.

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But wait….. could it be?!?!? BAKED BY MELISSA! Halloween Edition!!! Thank you so much to my mother-in-law for this sweet halloween treat. Y’all know our love of Baked Melissa- so we were PUMPED! I think our favorite is the “eyeball” or the “bear-ied” alive hahah.

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One day I’ll catch up on these updates. Hope you all have a fun & safe Halloween. I won’t be really celebrating this year (sigh- in the midst of the craziness we never really got anything together), but I am eagerly looking forward to seeing all your posts!!

xo <3

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**This is a sponsored post with affiliate links. All ideas and opinions are my own**

Jus’ Out Here Havin’ a Ball!

Hey, Everyone! Wowzas- long time, no seee! The last couple weeks have been an absolute whirlwind. I feel like I have just soo much to share- this may take multiple posts. We left off Sunday the 14th from our jots around SF. Monday the 15thWednesday the 17th I spent all day e’ryday chugging away on school work. Of course, Monday night Dancing with the Stars consumed the evening. But they didn’t even send anyone home! I’m sick of the participation trophies, haha. On Thursday the 18th I volunteered in the afternoon and then deep cleaned the apartment. Feels so refreshing to do that every couple weeks!

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In the evening, my friend Dani came by to get ready for an event in SF. We actually heard about it from Venmo John on Sunday, as he was promoting it. It sounded like a tremendous event, a wonderful cause and a fun girls night. We were just sad Tammy couldn’t join us! As I mentioned in my last post, Dani is a traveling occupational therapist and is moving, so this was our last time to hangout together. My sister in law, Amy, joined us too!

This event was hosted by Spark– a “network of young professionals who invest to improve the lives of women around the world”. The theme was black and pink if ya can’t tell 😉 We realized when we got there that it was just one massive fundraiser, but still a fun time! I’m just totallly not used to settings like that haha.

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Sista sista! I seriously can’t express how much I love living this close to my SIL. She is easily one of my all time favorite people to hang with.

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Picture with one of the band members

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Dani and me <3 Ugh, I am going to miss her tooo. darn. much. Seriously always the best of memories with this one!

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Always always have to get snacks of course. They had the cutest little pass around dishes. The best thing I tried was a little cheesecake cup, but the picture came out a bit too blurry…. Not blog approved 😉

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We said hey to John and thanked him for telling us about such a great event!

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By the time the event was over, we needed real sustenance. We headed to Nob Hill Pizza & Shawerma to nosh on some pies!

On Friday the 19th, I studied big time for my midterms. Deej and I had a chill night at home while he worked on grad school interviews.

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Anyone else study on the treadmill?

Saturday the 20th, we decided to try out a new breakfast spot. There is nothing better to fuel up a long Saturday run than some yummy breakfast food.

img_0634img_0523This new Dive is called Toast Cafe & Grill– and we knew nearly immediately it would be a favorite.

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The menu is extensive- with alllll the yummies!

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I ordered their french garden skillet with egg whites. It hit the spot. You can’t see the hashbrowns underneath in this photo, but they were mighty tasty. I will say I feel kinda bad for not trying out their toast at TOAST (quite out of character for me), but next time, next time 😉 The skillet just sounded too darn good.

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Deej tried their South of the Border omelette, and he said he may like this place better than Bill’s…… *gasp*. I don’t know if I’m gonna go that far just yet.

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I do like their pancakes better than Bill’s though.. I have to admit! But nothing tops Bill’s french garden omelette or smoked salmon benny. Mmmm mmm!

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The service was impeccable too. We both cannot wait to go back.

In the afternoon I had a glorious long run! That evening Deej & I just had a chill evening. We watched the first episode of The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. We weren’t sure how we felt about it at first, but now we are loving it!!

Sunday the 21st we went to Church in the morning. Afterward, I grabbed a much needed cup of coffee with Tammy. She knows all the best spots. I had never been to this fun little cafe called FlowerFlour before, but I am officially obsessed.

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Is this not the most intricately and eclectically decorated cafe you’ve ever seen?

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Such a great place to visit in the fall! We grabbed lattes and shared some scrumptious zucchini bread while having a great chat.

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After DJ was done “bumping out” at Church (tearing down the venue since we use a pop up site) we went to LazyDog, a restaurant we just love on Main Street Cupertino, for some good eats. He called me mid run, but I am always down for a snack break. Lol.

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I usually have a hard rule against ordering the same thing on a menu twice- but I can never resist ordering their seared ahi tuna over cauli mashed potatoes. Mmmm mmm!

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DJ had their fried chicken sandwich. All their food is too darn good! I kept stealing probably too many fries than he would have liked, hahah oops.

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I ordered the second half to go, but literally as soon as I got home I was itching to have the second half.

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And I finished the evening with the second half of that run and some beautiful views. I ended up running about 26 miles in two days (a 12-miler followed by a 14 miler Sunday (split into two parts). I’m currently gearing up for a marathon in January if my knee can handle it.  Also, I was stressed about taking my midterm in the morning this run helped calm me down a ton.

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I enjoyed some veggies, cheese, hummus, and pita chips to snack on post run + some Dexter with DJ.

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This is getting long so I’ll wrap it up here! Have a wonderful week, m’ friends!

Questions for you:

  • Favorite post run/ post workout snack?
  • Anyone else love “leftovers” as much as I do? 

xo <3

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