Austin Staycation!

Hello hello!! I am sitting at Epoch coffee shop sipping on an iced coffee with a pile of school work staring me in the face, but I figured I’d allot myself about 30 mins to blog until the caffeine kicks in. Good plan, right?

I have really been looking forward to writing this post. March 16th DJ and I decided to do a staycation when our spring breaks overlapped.

We booked at the Fairmont in downtown Austin, which was actually within walking distance for us. We packed up for a couple night stay. It was nice that if we forgot anything, we could just walk down the road to pick it up. We were craving a true getaway vacation somethin’ serious, and there just wasn’t time for one… so this was our best alternative. It ended up really feeling like a real vacation and was so refreshing for us both. There was an interesting study done looking at benefits of short-term vacations if you need help convincing someone 😉

Anyway, here we gooo!

We checked in around 3 pm. As we were walking over, DJ said he was pretty sure he saw Dave Chappelle. We googled if he was in town that weekend, and sure enough, he was!

As soon as we dropped off our luggage, we walked over to check out the view.

It did not disappoint. We could see Ladybird Lake, Rainey street and I-35 all from the window.

We quickly realized we were pretty hungry- we had a late dinner scheduled that night but needed something to tide us over. We sauntered down to the restaurant in the lobby, Fulton, and check out their options. It was fun being on “vacation” but not feeling pressure to do everything a city had to offer in a few days. It made it that much more spontaneous and relaxing.

The decor is super eclectic in here, but somehow worked. I feel like I use the word “eclectic” to describe quite a lot around Austin- but it really just fits the city as a whole.

I mean, they even had this massive tree in the middle of the restaurant.

We ordered a cheeseboard with warm olives and a glass of pinot grigio. The whole combination was unreal. We’ve had a lot of luck with good food in hotels- remember when we had some of the best pasta of our life randomly at the Doubletree in El Paso? Anyway- this cheese served with honeycomb was seriously the greatest combination and the warm olives were addictive as all get out. We still talk about this! After our linner, I was hitting an afternoon slump. I noticed they had a coffee shop in their lobby, good things, so it was not even a question. I grabbed a semi-bitter cup of jo’, but it had caffeine and that was all that mattered at that moment.

Once the caffeine kicked in, I had the energy to get ready for the evening.

Then we headed out to explore the city as tourists do!

We walked around with no real plan, just venturing into parts of the city we haven’t yet while enjoying all the artwork.

We had our reservation around 7:30 for dinner that evening. It was at a spot I have wanted to try ever since we’ve moved here located at the end of Rainey street- Emmer & Rye.

This restaurant will appear on pretty much every list you find of “Best Restaurants in Austin”. And for good reason. This was an unforgettable meal from start to finish. We were seated outside on their patio with twinkling string lights which just set a great romantic, cozy ambiance. The weather that evening was particularly lovely too. Their entirely farm-to-table menu changes often, so some of these items are not on their menu anymore- but the one “must try” is a constant.

I started with their beet dish that was soo yummy.

Deej sampled a beef tartare dish (I think that’s what this was)- he loved it, and I think this is still on their menu!

Now for the star of the show. When I compile a “must try” dishes in Austin- this is near the top of the list. This is their famous cacio e pepe (This is the dish I was referring to in a previous post). I think this is perhaps the best pasta dish we have ever tried (sorry Doubletree, you’re a close second). The truffle mushroom pasta from Il Mulino at Disney is in there too.

For dessert we tried their black garlic ice cream, chocolate, orange and tomato. Wait! Before you schedule an eye appointment- yes, you read that all correctly!! We have a theory that if something is on the menu that sounds absolutely disgusting, it must be extra good because how else is it on there? Y’all… wow wow wow…. this was unusually good, meaning both unusual and unusually delicious. I don’t know why the heck it is, and it tasted unlike anything we had tried before- but do yourself a favor and give it a go if you ever are in town.

That night we turned in early. We had said we were going to stay out on the town originally like we would if we were really on vacation, but we’re old now, you see. So we promised ourselves we would stay out later the following evening.

The next morning we slept in a little bit, and around 8 am I went down to workout in the hotel gym. How awesome is this view?

And after working out, we ordered some room service breakfast which is probably our favorite part about staying in hotels.

Those pancakes! Perfection, along with everything else.

We then headed out for our next day adventures. Since we didn’t park at the hotel (we just wheeled our suitcases through town), we walked back to our apartment to pick up the car.

And next on the docket was a hike at the Barton Creek Greenbelt. I can’t tell you how many people have recommended this spot to us, and finally we tried it out.

It was a wonderful walk/hike. Usually there is water and the picture right above shows where little waterfalls form. It was bone dry while we were there, but I bet it’s flowing now given how much rain we’ve had.

After our about 5-mile hike, we drove back to the hotel around one in the afternoon. We lathered up the sunscreen then headed down to the hotel pool. Now this is vacation!!

We listened to podcasts, read books (I was working my way through Hillbilly Elegy– great read- thank you Maureen for the recommendation) and sipped on our margs in the sun.

When we got a bit too warm, we took a dip in the pool.

We didn’t want this day to end!

But then our stomachs started growling.

We had a dinner reservation at odd duck, another restaurant we’ve wanted to try for a while. I loved the whole atmosphere of this place.

We were hungryyy after our day in the sun, so we went all out on this meal.

Once again, the first dish of the night was a delightful beet dish.

Probably my favorite part of the meal was next- Cast iron cornbread with cheddar and green garlic butter. Oh my. I crave this.

We then tried their carrot quesadilla with oaxaca cheese and coriander flower dressing. This was unique and probably my second favorite of all the courses. I think DJ said this was his favorite.

We shared a scallop dish too- can’t go wrong with these. So delicious.

And ever since I tried quail with my mom in San Antonio, if it’s on the menu I feel like we have to get it. I don’t particularly like meat, which is part of why I eat mostly plant-based, but quail is an exception! This quail was fried with creamed corn, peppers, peaches and spicy honey. I think that description speaks for itself!

We were pretty full, but their dessert menu looked too good to pass up.

And it was too good to pass up. We tried their lime panna cotta with almonds, ginger, graham crackers, and toasted meringue. TOP 5 dessert of our lives.

As we promised to force ourselves out on the town, we discussed what to do next over dessert. It was actually St. Patrick’s day, so we thought it’d be fun to go down to Rainey street since we figured it’d be poppin’ and it was close to the hotel. We walked around for a while enjoying the energy that has been absent for so long in the city and then went to Javelina at the end of the street. We were sitting out on the street when we noticed a little visitor near us.

I caught this raccoon out of my periphery scaling the tree to my left. He was clearly not bothered by humans, which is quite the red flag. But he was darn cute. It reminded me of a time in high school when DJ and I were eating Penn Station sandwiches in a park and a raccoon scurried out of a trash can near us- I jumped up on the picnic table and freaked out, protecting my Penn Station with my life.

After trying to make an entrance into the restaurant (he clearly just wanted in on the St. Paddy’s day fun too), our little friend found his place under the porch out of sight. The rest of the evening we played trivia which was so much fun.

It was around 11 before we headed back to the hotel, and as we were walking back we spotted a Via 313 food truck. As soon as the thought of Via crossed our minds, there was no question about putting in an order. It was quite chilly at this point in the evening and the hot, fresh Via 313 was unlike anything else! Side note, but very exciting,…. DJ said he found a pizza place in OH that “is not Via, but is very close”. This was just the greatest news, and I can’t wait to try it out.

And sadly, we had to check out the following morning, March 18th. We weren’t ready to totally go back to studying just yet, so we went to Snooze for brunch. Perfect way to hit the “snooze” button on reality, eh?

And that wraps up our little Austin staycation. It was a wonderful few days and  just what we needed to reinvigorate us for the rest of the semester.

P.S. it has been way more than 30 mins, but oh well, I was having too much fun writing this!

I’d love to know: 

  • What is your favorite staycation or vacation you’ve ever taken?

Father’s Day 2021

Hi, everyone. Happy belated Father’s Day to all the Dads out there, and I hope you all had a great Father’s Day weekend. Father’s Day is very bittersweet for me. I miss my Dad every single day, but Father’s Day is especially tough. My heart goes out to you if it’s the same for you. I wish my Dad was here so badly to see my siblings thriving, meet DJ, meet our niece and nephews (his grandchildren) and just everyyyything else. The urge to call him randomly is still there, and if you’ve lost someone you probably understand the bulldozing mix of pain and longing that sometimes hits out of nowhere or when you hear a certain song, see the car they used to drive or when together with family and noting their palpable missing presence. My Dad was an amazing man, and there is no way he could have been a better Dad. He had the best heart, was incredibly selfless, hilarious (truly had us laughing constantly), and brightened everyone’s day he interacted with. He saw the best in people and brought it out of them. He set an awesome example for us, taught us invaluable lessons and as we’d drive home from family outings, he’d always ask, “Good memory?”. He was always sure we made good memories together, and we did. I cling to those tightly.

At the same time on Father’s Day, I feel extremely grateful for the incredible “bonus” Dads in my life through my stepdad Pete, my dad-in-law, and step dad-in-law! We are soo blessed.

For this Father’s Day, my mom and I devised a plan to surprise Pete at Brazos in Waco- halfway for us both (about 1.5 hrs). You may recognize this from when we met for my Grandma Violet’s birthday!!

We loved Brazos the last time, so we figured why not go back. My mom told Pete to reserve the day. So after church they headed out. Pete commented on the long drive, “At this rate we might as well visit Kenz!”. LOL!

They arrived before me, so when the waitress said “reservation for three” I think he figured it out, hah.

Oh my gosh, y’all, this lunch was so good and so much fun. It was easilyy the highlight of my weekend & it was really good to catch up, especially since Pete wasn’t in town when I visited my mom a couple weekends ago.

We started the meal by sharing this outrageously good guac.

Pete ordered the Ewing burger from last time that was far too memorable to pass up again.

And these fries!!! Had to get a close up.

My mom and I split their salmon over a bed of basmati rice with asparagus and broccoli along with the house salad with candied pecans and strawberries. Wowzaaa, all so yummy. And what’s a true celebration without some dessert?! We ordered the peach cobbler, and it was out-of-this-world good. Even the vanilla ice cream they served with it was superb. I am so thankful we were able to do this!!! I’m also so stinking thankful for Pete- he has been supportive in every way, through every season of life. If you have followed this blog over the years, that probably goes without saying. There is not a person on earth that has a bad word to say about Pete, and he is one of the most humble, kind, hardworking people I know. We always have the best time all together too.

After lunch, we sat in the car to open cards and gifts, then I presented my presentation for this week’s intensive. My mom spoiled me by sending me off with delicious eats including her zucchini cake (I’ll be sharing about that in a few posts!), fresh sprouts from her garden, a quinoa and veggie dish, and her homemade PB protein balls.

I drove back to Austin and ended the day with a spectacular sunset run.

I’d love to know: 

  • How was your weekend?

<3

Walking Through March 2021!

Gooood morning!!! I am feeling particularly chipper today. I woke up at around 5:20, had some toast, went to Orange Theory at 6:15, unloaded the dishwasher, watched a lecture, had another breakfast, read my Bible then started to crash, so now at around 10:30 I am enjoying a second cup of coffee while writing this up. I have a few concrete assignments to get done today that I’m actually looking forward to. I love when there is a solid endpoint with written assignments vs. studying that feels far more nebulous. I’m saving all that for the rest of the weekend.

Now zipping on back to March.

March 3rd was a particularly beautiful evening for a walk. I saw this little tranquil crane enjoying the sunset as well.

I never get tired of all the different fun artwork all over Austin. I am always seeing something bright & new. I adored this little Greetings From Austin Postcard mural on the side of a building on S. 1st Street near Roadhouse Relics.

March 11th was my final clinical day for the FNP program. I really miss that office. I’m hoping to stop back to see everyone one more time before the move!

March 15th we grabbed some Summer Moon to start the day early and then went for a nice walk together along Lady Bird Lake.

Below is the Stevie Ray Vaughan memorial statue we pass every time we walk the trail.

It was a particularly crisp and beautiful morning that day.

March 16th had a more eerie feel than the previous day, but I relished it. I love cloudy weather, especially when I have a lot to get done. I feel like it gives me an “excuse” to not be outside, ha. DJ always says I would thrive in Seattle, particularly because I also LOVE rain and thunderstorms more than any type of weather. I’ve never been, but it’s on the list!

March 16th – March 18th DJ and I did a whole staycation in Austin! That deserves its own post, so I’ll share that next.

March 19th DJ and I picked up Sweet Green (the best!) and headed down for a picnic on the green space at Auditorium Shores. It was love at first bite, and I have lost count of how many times I have ordered salads from here since. My go-to is their Green Goddess with added tofu.

Watching the sunset from here was pretty spectacular as all the buildings lit up with a golden hue.

March 23rd I discovered DJ’s favorite flavor of Jeni’s at the store so was sure to snag some.

March 23rd we went for a night walk. I’ve enjoyed going for dusk/night walks and runs lately since it’s so darn hot during the day. I only walk in busy, well- lit areas- do not worry! 

March 27th we grabbed donuts from SH Donuts. We love this place, and the people who work there are sooo friendly. Oh, and their donuts are excellent.

After enjoying our donuts we walked around downtown around 7 am. We were loving our morning walks this month.

I also went on a jog after. I had an awesome run with a little bit of sugar high!

The evening of March 28th I made this vegan caprese salad over farro. I wasn’t sure how the “cheese” would turn out, but it wasn’t too bad! It was labor intensive to make, so I think I’ll probably just buy the vegan cheese next time, but it was overall a fun project and turned out yummy.

I remember around this time my actual courses were getting pretty stressful, my motivation was waning, and all I really wanted to do was focus on studying for boards, but we made it through!

March 31st we tried this delish Banza pizza. Gosh, this was REALLY good.

Something I loveeed doing through March was keeping our screen open throughout the day. It was the perfect mild temperatures, and it really did something for my mood. It’s a bit too hot much too hot to do this right now, but I took full advantage when I could!

And I will make sure to share about our Staycation next!

I’d love to know: 

  • Are you a morning bird or night owl? I am definitely an early bird, but my insomnia begs to differ.

The February Snowpocolypse

Hello hello!! I woke up this AM and decided to put my to-do list on hold to do a little blogging with my coffee. I have an intensive next week- you may remember when I’d go to my school for them? They went virtual this year, but I am really excited (and nervous) for it. We’re going to be learning how to program pumps for diabetes, do check-offs with a standardized patient, present an endocrine topic to our peers (mine is titled The Impact of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals on Fertility) and  attend various lectures. Oh, all of that to say, I have a long weekend to prepare for the intensive and think I can afford a few minutes to write this up 🙂 !

Now for a little February update! February was a weird, weird month… and if you ask anyone in Texas I’m sure they will immediately have flashbacks to our ice storm- I’ll be sure to discuss that whole fiasco and a half. February 6th I was notified we had a package, so I went down to the mail room and this Austin city candle was in the box. It didn’t have a sender on it or any messages, so it’s still a mystery who sent this candle! If you did, thank you!!!

Once we burned it down, we noticed a little foil wrapped something in the bottom. We handled it with gloves lol because, remember, we had no idea who this was from! But inside was a crisp $2 !! How fun.

February 12th we met up with some friends at Central Machine Works for the first time as a group since the previous year for a friend’s bday!! This place is awesome!! It has the most chill vibe.

Valentine’s Day we received the sweetest valentine’s from my niece and nephew <3 <3  I cannot say how excited we are to be living close to them and our other nephews and niece!!!

February 15th, we woke up to THIS!!! Whaaat!

I was planning on going to stock up on groceries that morning. As someone who grew up in OH, I was not afraid of no snow. Actually that’s a total lie- I totaled my car on black ice as a teenager, so it’s probably the thing I’m most nervous about with moving back. Anyway, here was my trial run. The problem with this massive snowfall in TX is it never happens, I mean never happens, so they didn’t have the normal snow trucks to salt the roads. I didn’t take that into account when I ventured out that day! I should have taken a hint when there was no one on South Congress that mayyybe I shouldn’t try driving on it? There were people skiing and snowboarding down it though!

There was also this guy in front of me, with the “Life is Good” tire cover. Am I surprised he was the only other one out on the road? Of course not. This is the type of person unfazed by anything. If we ever do have the anticipated zombie apocalypse, this is the guy I want on our side.

When I finally arrived at HEB (which took triple the usual time), they weren’t open!! This whole venture was clearly not my brightest moment.

The worst part of the not being able to stop at the grocery store… you might want to sit down for this one- I didn’t have any coffee left. Yes, I know. I ended up stopping by a Starbucks nearby on foot that was actually open, I think since it was attached to a hotel. I loaded up on four coffees that lasted a couple days and then kept doing that until I was able to make it back to the store. Never been so thankful for Starbucks in my whole life.

I headed home and we turned on our artificial fire, because same as a real one, right?

And then I had to get to food prepping with the little we had left in the fridge. I was actually quite amazed how much these groceries stretched. I made roasted potatoes, peas from a can (slaved over this one), cauliflower mashed potatoes, an eggplant parmesan (I give that name generously considering we had very little sauce left), seitan from vital gluten wheat powder, protein bars that were not good, but I ate them anyway, and lastly, our favorite- a mix of the leftover veggies, lentils and chickpeas we had mixed in with various Indian spices! We also had a little rice leftover so we added that to it and it was a delightful dinner.

Oh, I can’t forget these! I found a can of heart of palms that had been sitting around for a long time, and looked up creative ideas for them. When I found a recipe for heart of palm “crab cakes” I knew this what we had to go with! We actually had most ingredients on hand, and they were SO good. DJ was impressed how similarly they tasted to real crab cakes.

We stretched these meals until Friday when I ventured out to the store. I was craving vegetables like you wouldn’t believe.

I spent the week catching up on various school assignments. DJ did too- and actually his already virtual classes were entirely cancelled since some classmates lost power.

I do want to take a moment to say- I recognize we were incredibly blessed through all of this. We did have food, we didn’t lose our power, we had a roof over our heads- and it is truly heart breaking what happened to so many people. I don’t discount that at all, and it was really a traumatic week for so many. I pray this never happens again.

That Friday, February 19th, DJ and I went out to celebrate Valentine’s Day a week late. You know us, just makeshift celebrate everything on our own schedule, lol. I’d wanted to try Olive & June for a while, so I made us a reservation.

We sat out on their gorgeous patio. Everything was delizioso!! We shared their cheese boards (amazing, I loved the pickled veggies and the cheese was darn good)

We then had their beet salad that was one of my favorites ever ever- soo good! It actually may have been my favorite part of the meal.

I had their seared gulf snapper- it was flavorful as can be!

DJ had their cacio e pepe. It was really tasty!! Butttt there is actually an even better cacio e pepe in town we tried a few weeks later- can’t wait to share that!!

We grabbed some desserts to go- so yummy.

February 21st we got brunch with a friend from Kerbey Lane Cafe. I genuinely forgot to take pictures, but take my word for it that this place had some GOOD food. An *ultimate* brunch spot.

Oh, just one more detail from the whole chaos of the snowstorm. Throughout the rest of the month we were also on a boil water warning. We boiled a whole bunch of water at once and then used every coffee mug that would fit in the fridge to store it.

For desserts throughout February I was loving these strawberry ice cream bars with a little PB and some chocolate chips.

And it had been far too long by the time February 26th rolled back around since we had last ordered Flower Child! (Always have to get a side of that corn and quinoa).

And that wraps up our…interesting… February! I best get back to the grind. Have a great weekend, friends!!

I’d love to know: 

  • Do you have any stories around dealing with wild weather?

Café No Sé!

Hey, everyone!! Hope you are having a lovely week. I wanted to quickly share my new favorite spot in town! Last Wednesday, June 9th, my mom was in town for work and we planned a dinner in town. We walked down to Café No Sé on South Congress. I believe this translates to Cafe “I Don’t Know” in Spanish, which would be representative of the eclectic style and choices of food of the Cafe! I’m not totally sure if that’s the origins, if anyone has any further insight I’d love to hear, lol- but that’s my theory. Anyway, I have wanted to try this restaurant for so long. It always looked adorable from the outside. 

Immediately upon walking in we were smitten with the overall aesthetic. It has an extremely clean and crisp modern feel while still being warm and homey.

I have to come back here to try out the coffee!! (& their pastries).

We ordered up their café spread with chickpea hummus, kamut & pine nut tabbouleh, and grilled laffa. Wow, that hummus was pretty spectacular and the grilled laffa was near impossible to put down. 

We then tried out their greenhouse lettuces, avocado, goat cheese, kabocha squash, pickled cranberry, radish, sunflower seed cracker, and pomegranate vinaigrette. Easily my new favorite salad in town.

Now the octopus- *chef’s kiss*. My mom said it was one of the greatest dishes she has ever had- I may have to agree!!! It was phenomenal!

For dessert we tried their sweet tea ice cream. It tasted just like sweet tea-it was genuinely as though we were eating sweet tea.We then walked back down South Congress to the Bat Bridge. People were scattered all over the lawn and in kayaks, tour boats and along the bridge anxiously awaiting the grand bat flight. But, sadly, they never did take flight- Womp womp. Usually they take off a little before sundown, but it was 9:15 and still nothing. We ended up leaving, but we were glad my mom had the chance to see them once before

Before going back to her hotel for the night, we hit up the tea station in the apartment. And that wraps up our wonderful evening!!

I’d love to know: 

  • What has been the highlight of your week so far?

January Austin Eats Roundup!🍦

Hey friends!! I hope you had a wonderful weekend! I have some long posts in the queue, with nearly each one recapping each month from this last half-year. Wow.. that is crazy to say. Last year felt like the longest year ever… and now this one is flying. Do you feel the same? I am going to save the Christmas post for July so I can do a proper “Christmas in July” post. And between the throwbacks, I’m going to try to add in some more recent happenings.

Wrapping up last year, DJ and I were craving some good froyo, so we stopped by Culver’s on December 30th and grabbed some.

On December 31st, New Years Eve, I stopped by the grocery store to restock the fridge and decided to pick up a TIME magazine I spotted at the checkout. I can’t remember the last time I picked up a magazine, but this seemed like the one to have given what a wild, ~unprecedented~ year we had.  I’m sorry- I know everyone probably never wants to hear that word again.

What better way to ring in the New Year than with Via 313?! I made us some side salads to go with them, because you know, health.

On January 1st, DJ and I decided to order from a restaurant my mom recommended – Flower Child. You will quickly see- this was not the last time we ordered from here! It prides itself on being a health-conscious restaurant, which is nice & all- but their food is soooooo goooood. Our favorites include their corn with quinoa, broccoli, and mashed potatoes. It will be a restaurant we miss a ton for sure.

It was so good we ordered it the next day too!

On January 3rd, I headed to my mom and Pete’s to finish up another clinical rotation. This was a lot shorter than the fall semester rotation, but I was excited to spend this time with them again. I look back at what a blessing this time was I able to spend there. It was certainly frustrating not being able to find these rotations in Austin, but I wouldn’t trade the memories in Keller/Fort Worth for the world. Plus I had the BEST preceptors there, so I can’t imagine it having gone any other way. This rotation in January was Ob/GYN- I learned so much. Oh, and my sister, Halston, was still there too since Christmas! Right before she left, my family surprised me with the sweetest set up-I don’t deserve them!! My birthday was a week later, but Hal wanted to make sure she was there to celebrate. They ordered dinner from one of our favorite restaurants in town, Devivo Brothers, had a balloon, a card and some AWESOME vegan desserts (the little roses in the second picture are all various delicious vegan cheesecakes!).

On January 8th, I decided to run to a nearby Starbucks during my lunch break. I ordered the Kale Portobello Mushroom Sous Vide Egg Bites – but they accidentally made the Everything Bagel ones which I discovered are even better than the Kale ones!! What a happy mistake.

And a Misto was in tow, naturally.

That weekend, on January 9th, my mom, Pete, DJ and I went to Redrock Canyon in Southlake for my birthday dinner. Everything was phenomenal!!

And you better believe we still had room for Andy’s!! It really is the best Frozen Custard- hands down.

That night I opened up birthday gifts at home from mom and Pete <3

My mom even included her famous chocolate chip vegan cookies that are OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD. These did not last long!

January 11th we had delicious salmon, salad, peas and rice while watching The Bachelor.

On my birthday, January 13th, my mom made me the most delicious breakfast of egg whites, vegan mozz, a pear balsamic (I think? I have to double check on that!), fresh sprouts from her garden and zucchini bread. Not a bad way to enter into a late-20s crisis! 😉

I returned home that evening after wrapping up clinicals and DJ greeted me with this gorgeous bouquet! For my birthday dinner all I wanted was… you can probably guess it… Flower Child!! It also only seemed right- some Flower Child to go with my Flowers.

Oh, also– I just think this is the coolest thing- Deej got me a kit where you burn the candle down and then plant daisies in the candle as a plantar. I had no problem burning down the candle…. but I have zero, I mean ZERO, green thumb and somehow I could not get the dang Daisies to grow. Hahah. I joke that I can only keep humans alive, not plants.

He also got me a Basil kit- but I am saving that for our new home so I can make fresh caprese with DJ <3

And that wraps up an amazing 27th birthday!! I just had a moment where I thought, “Wait, it was 27, right?”. You know you’re getting older when… *laughs nervously*  On January 15th, DJ and I had a date night out. Walking over to the restaurant we passed by Yeti and saw this sign and found it too funny. When people ask where we’re from around here we always say Ohio, because there is definitely a negative connotation about the annoying Californians invading Texas. We just happened to move directly from California, but we aren’t *technically* from there, lol!We had a giftcard to Swift’s Attic in downtown Austin. We had been once before and loved it!! They shut down for a while, so we were excited to see they were back up and running.

We tried several dishes- and nothing disappointed. Their menu rotates frequently, and everything is deee-lish!

January 17th we ordered Postmates- I clearly was not in the mood to cook in January lol. I thought this note was so sweet our Postmates driver put in our order.

I started my final clinical rotation for the FNP program around January 18th. I was at the same clinical site as the previous summer, so I felt like I jumped right back into the groove. On January 21st, DJ and I were craving burgers, so we drove down the road to try Arlo’s Vegan Food truck.

YOU GUYS. This was maybe the best vegan burger I have ever had. Prior to this, Hopdoddy’s was easily my favorite- but this actually was even better (did not know that was possible). DJ was very impressed. You would not know they were vegan. We didn’t care for their mac n’cheese, but the tater tots and sweet potato fries were perf.

Holy moly, we really ate our way through Austin in January, huh? That evening our second stomach (aka the dessert stomach) called out for some ice cream. We walked down South Congress to Amy’s– a famous spot in Austin for some ‘scream. We were debating between trying Amy’s or Jeni’s (fairly new to SoCo and a chain). Since Amy’s is the classic local spot, we went there first.

We put in our order (it was a hard decision since they have so much to choose from!), and then we just waited while enjoying the neon night on South Congress.

I see why people love this ice cream! WOW. I loveeed their strawberry ice cream. And they do not skimp out on the topping! (psst- must get the cookie dough).

January 22nd, the sweet tooth was still out in rare not-so-rare form, so we decided no time like the present to get Jeni’s to compare the two back-to-back.

I had their Brambleberry crisp, and actually didn’t love it. DJ thought it was really good though. He opted for the salted peanut butter with chocolate flecks- now that was jam-packed flavor!!! DJ said Jeni’s was the clear winner, but I actually preferred Amy’s, since I just love being able to mix toppings into my ice cream. But Jeni’s is pretty darn high quality ice cream for sure.

On January 23rd, my mom-in-law and I were chatting, and she said they were getting True Food Kitchen takeout for dinner in Chicago, and it sounded so good! We said how fun it’d be if we ordered True Food take out too, kinda like sharing dinner from afar. It is one of those restaurants I crave for sureee. I love their butternut squash pizza especially.

And that wraps up our January!! It sure was a tasty one and a great start to the year!

Question for you: 

  • What are you looking forward to this summer?

San Antonio Staycation :)

Hey hey!!! How is it going? So, how do you feel about a Christmas in June post? I know July is usually the whole thing, but I am so excited to share this post, so why not just start these festivities early!!

I am zipping us all the way back to December. DJ and I were desperately craving a break from the books, clinicals, studies, etc. We found a day that worked for both of us and decided to do a quick staycation in San Antonio, an hour down the road. DJ has never seen San Antonio at Christmas either, so this was a must before we moved!

I did my nails for the first time since probably that prior May(?), and it felt goood to have some color on them. Any other runners have scars all over their hands from falling? Just me? Oops, haha. 

I also put on some of my favorite earrings from Rach! They go with everything, and they have become my “go-tos”.

And let the adventure begin! Also, if you want to explore prior San Antonio adventures- you can head here and here 🙂 

For starters, we checked into the Westin downtown. We had some Orbitz points to use up, so we were excited it worked out to use it for this hotel. We were super amazed with all the precautions taken too. Who knew self cleaning buttons even existed?!

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Even the remote was protected!

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After dropping our suitcases off we headed out to walk around the city. DJ was the tour guide, even though I had been there more than he had – look, I can’t do directions for nothin’. I get all sweaty when someone gives me directions in “Compass”.

This little area (I’m sure it has a name?!) is probably my favorite place to walk around. It has such a vibrant and energetic vibe. (More vibrant and more energetic in the non-pandemic era, of course).

The architecture around the city is just stunning too!

And finally, what we came here for— the Riverwalk!

We walked the entire Riverwalk before heading back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I was so eager for it to get dark for DJ to see it lit up with the Christmas lights over the water!

Our view outside the hotel was pretty amazing at sunset. 

We were in awe of the beauty of this hotel!

And there is no possible way to capture the glowing, festive lights in all their glory through a picture, but it is a sight to see!

We went to boudro’s for dinner, of course! It was delicious- I have recapped it once before and the lighting wasn’t great for pics, so I’ll leave those out this time.

After a restful night’s sleep, we went to Ostra for one last meal on the Riverwalk. I first went here with my mom and sister and remembered their food being so yummy.

And it did not disappoint this time either! I had one sip of their coffee, and it was glorious. It was soo good I had to ask the waiter what they used. And guess what it was…Not just your average coffee, nope. Peet’s! Of courseee I loved it.

DJ ordered their waffle & berries & I ordered their lox croissant. My mouth is actually watering writing about it- this brunch was mighty tasty.

And would it be a San Antonio trip without a visit to The Alamo? 

We opted out of the tour this time, but DJ was glad to see it from afar.

And that’s a wrap on our little staycation!

Question for you:

  • How the heck are ya?! Been a minute. 

Ummm I don’t think I can do my signature anymore?! I hear it’s Cheugy.

Oy to the veyyyy, LOL. 

I Passed!

Hey all!  I am so happy to share with you I graduated and passed my boards to become an advanced practice nurse- specifically a family nurse practitioner.  Thank you all so much for your encouragement through these last few years of grad school (and just in general!). I have to be a bit sappy here because it is just one of those milestones, ya know? I think about how much support I had throughout the program– from DJ and our family, friends (including y’all), other students, professors–and I’m feeling extremely thankful. I had many chats with God throughout this thing that sounded like, “Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing?”, and I had a heavy dose of imposter syndrome. Being at the end of it, I could not be more sure this path was the right decision, and while I know this will be a challenging transition, I could not be more excited.  

I am now deep into my endocrine specialty program already (and loving it). It wraps up in August when I’ll be heading back to OH to join DJ. 

I hope you all are well!! Sending so much love. 

Mackenzie, MSN, FNP-BC (had to!) 

Magnolia Farms!!

Hey all! I interrupt our catch-up posts from last year with a very recent post from our trip to Magnolia Farms in Waco, TX. I figured since I’m so behind, I’ll start doing a mix of recent posts and catch-up past posts- because I am really darn excited to share some of our recent happenings!

Oh real quick- for some reason my last post did not show up in the Reader, so hopefully it will this time. E-mail subscribers did get the post I believe- if not, let me know so I can work it out 🙂 

Anyyywhoo- enough house keeping bizzness!

Soo full disclosure- I know about Chip and Joanna Gaines, but I really haven’t really watched their show (I think I have seen one episode?)… I know we need to change that– but regardless- this experience was AWESOME, even as someone who isn’t well-versed in Fixer Upper world. I so admire the empire they have built in Waco. Now, if you are like my Mom or my friend Rachel, and are obsessed, I hope you enjoy this post a little extra. 

My mom and I met up on April 5th in the parking lot of Magnolia Table restaurant to get some brunch. While driving into Waco, you are greeted my multiple billboards with quotes from Joanna or Chip- it’s adorable. (Of course, no pics- because safety first 😉 – but still wanted to share!). Waco is a perfect middle point between Austin and Fort Worth too – about 1.5 hours both ways, so it worked out perfectly for a spontaneous day trip for us.

I knew I would like this place from the sign alone!

They do take reservations, but they were pretty booked up, so we were happy to see they still took walk-ins. We met at around 10:30 am, had a 45 minute wait (we just chit-chatted it up in the car) and then were seated.

Before walking in, we were greeted by this gorgeous, almost Venetian-style exterior! 

Once seated we were able to absorb the cute details around the restaurant more closely.

We first ordered lattes. We held off grabbing Starbucks during our wait since we knew we would want to grab some coffee from their coffee bar in the restaurant!

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Annnd holyyy latte goodness- they were absolutely heavenly. I actually ended up ordering a second because it was so stinking delicious.

I had two main things I wanted to try on their menu: The biscuit with strawberry butter & their tater tots!

Nothing disappointed- DELISH. There is nothing these people don’t do to excellence, huh?

Quick pic outside after brunch.

Then we drove a little down the road to the Silos! Kinda hard to miss!

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My mom has been before, but I was wide-eyed trying to soak it all in. There is a large stretch of lawn with relaxing lounge chairs, and I think that is what surprised me the most- just how chill the whole vibe was. I think I expected it to be a hustle-bustle tourist feel, but it felt more like hanging out in a backyard.

First, we ventured into their Seed & Supply shop.

This little shop had so many cute little garden gadgets. Our favorite was a sprout pencil that you can actually plant!

On our way out, we noticed this green house too.

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After walking out and turning to our right (with the wide green space on our left) there was a long line of food trucks that would satisfy any craving! Most people were in line for the Sweet Iced Tea.

After passing the food trucks, we noticed a whole new part to the Silos that were not even built when my mom was last here a couple years ago! First, there is this super cute baseball field with an actual concession stands in the background. That is one thing- the attention to detail in this place is just incredible. We were saying you could go back several times and notice something different every time.

You can probably spot the church past the outfield. We walked over to check it out.

We found a sign explaining its history. I think it is so cool and special they preserved this.

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After, we walked over to their new shops that each had a “theme”. If you caught my last post- I am all about a theme!

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It had notebooks, paints, etc. I could have done some damage ($$) in there, but thankfully I had restraint this time. Next time- no promises.

Where to next?

Their home store, of course!! There are two “big” home stores on site- the first is more furniture and the second is more home decor/kitchen items/smaller home goods.

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On our way out of the two stores we grabbed Kettle Corn for my sis, Halston- she loves Kettle Corn & she was going to be in Fort Worth that week to visit my mom.

After finishing up our tour of the Silos, we had one final stop – The Bakery. We were not about to pass it up! We had about an hour wait, but it was so worth it. 

I took the pic below once I got home since I took the goodies home to share with DJ- we had a lemon cupcake, a cinnamon roll, a brownie cookie & a chocolate chip cookie. I use past tense emphatically because they did not last long. I think my favorite was the cinnamon roll & DJ’s was the brownie cookie- but they all were phenomenal!!

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Although at this point we were “coffeed out” <–(shhhh, I know I shouldn’t say that, but it’s true)… we still wanted to stop in their coffee shop to see what it was all about!

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The smell of roasting coffee made its way outside before you even stepped foot into the shop- mmmm. The shop is as cute as you’d expect, but my favorite part was seeing Baylor students working away on homework assignments here. Can you imagine, just having access to this awesome place to hangout and study whenever you want?! There are even little study lamps on the tables.

And that is Magnolia for ya!!! Like I mentioned earlier, I really do think you could come back here multiple times and notice something different. It is just too cool. Hope you all enjoyed this tour 🙂

Question for you:

  • Have you seen Fixer Upper?

Hamilton Pool & Hamilton Musical!

**I apologize if you get this post to your e-mail twice! I was having some technology issues, but I think we have them sorted now!**

Good evening, friends! I am sitting here on a Friday night with the screen door open, letting the live music and cool air of an Austin weekend drift in as I enjoy some ice cream and have my own Fleetwood Mac radio playing in the background. It’s pure bliss. I am in a good groove with my studies and am finding some time in the evenings to give my mind a rest.

Hope y’all don’t mind some Christmas throwbacks, since I’m jumping back in around that time! The first couple weeks of December I spent studying for class and boards as much as possible. December 4th DJ and I ordered a little pre-lit mini Christmas tree from Walmart for this year. We usually like to do the whole cut a tree down and such– but we were nervous about bringing in a live tree in Texas (so many bugs!) & we also don’t have a ton of space for one anyway, so this was perfect!

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I loved how this downtown building was lit up in red and green. 

On one of our walks we noticed this little guy chillin’ along Lady Bird lake.

I noticed one of the trees along my normal running trail was suddenly decorated with ornaments! Too cute.

December 8th DJ and I decided to go for a walk around UT’s campus for a break from the studies since it was a gorgeous day & we knew it wouldn’t be very busy.

December 11th I went on a walk when it was drizzling outside a little bit. I think the trail is just beautiful at these times (and I have it to myself when it’s raining out 🙂 )!

December 12th the bright blue skies were back!

The turtles couldn’t resist some sun bathing too.

Around this time, I was on a kick with this wrap featured below- it is so good, but I know the ingredients might sound like an interesting mix- it includes a veggie wrap, sundried tomatoes, hummus, dolmas and marinated mushrooms- delicious!

December 15th I tried out this new brand of pizza- seriously one of my favorite vegan pizzas I have had yet! Corn on pizza is fantastic. 

December 16th I changed up my running direction and went over a bridge providing a postcard view of the city. 

Later that day I met up with my friend, Alana, to chat and walk around Mueller park. It was really nice to meet up with her- I always love our convos. Actually- she is the last friend I saw in Austin prior to quarantine! We stopped into Halcyon to get some tea to accompany us on our walk. It was my first time in Mueller (besides picking up Colleen’s for brunch), but it would not my last- it is so nice to walk around with many awesome shops and the park itself is lovely. I need to take DJ back there before we move! It reminds me a lot of downtown Palo Alto 🙂 

That evening I made the quesadillas out of the But I Could Never Go Vegan cookbook- and they were easily the best recipe we have had out of there yet. We were blown away by how good these were!! 

December 17th we decided to go to Hamilton Pool Preserve to explore. We tried going one other time, but after driving the near hour to get there we realized you had to have a reservation. Whoops! We made our reservation this time, easy peasy. I think there were so many openings because it was freezing. We still had so much fun exploring though, and the cold was actually refreshing. Like free cryotherapy.

We grabbed some coffee at the gas station on the way prior to arriving. I will give Peet’s free advertising any day of the week.

I thought this little walking stick station was adorable. 

Not to be a stickler… but there weren’t any sticks in there, soooo I don’t think people followed the directions 😉 . Anyone ? Anyone? *Crickets* … Sorry. Cringey jokes are kinda my schtick. Ok ok I’m done. 

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It was stunning!!

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On our way home we decided to stop at Pennybacker bridge since DJ had not yet been! (I had been once before with Amy– DJ’s twin and my SIL 🙂 ). 

And I am allllll about a good theme, so I deemed this day a “Hamilton” themed day. We had wanted to see the Hamilton musical for a while, so we did a little free Disney plus trial so we could watch it. 

It was incredible! I understand what all the hype was about!!

December 18th we went for a nice walk along lady bird and saw another type of bird. I think I am seeing where it got the inspiration for its name. Also super random- but occasionally I will see a flock of parakeets (yes, GREEN parakeets). When I first told DJ, I think he questioned my eyesight, but it’s a thing here! I’ll keep a look out, hopefully I can snag a pic of them before we move. 

The next evening, on December 19th, we took a night walk around the city and enjoyed the festive buildings and lit up roads.

Questions for you:

  • What is your favorite movie/musical/play?
  • Any weekend plans?