Friday Favorites #13

Uhhhh should I be concerned…..  A Friday Favorites #13 on Friday the 13th?! I best not walk under any ladders today.

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But anywho wowzahs! It has been a while since a FF! I have a lot of things I am just luh-ving lately, so it was hard to narrow them down to just ten. I guess that makes next week even easier to write!

Here we go… !

  1. Have y’all seen the latest Aerie campaign?! For a few years they have been doing Aerie Real, and now they’ve broadened the campaign to include women with disabilities and medical conditions…. it is absolutely beautiful, these women are BEAUTIFUL. It nearly brought me to tears seeing these pictures. <3

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2. Wear This One! To say I’m excited about this would be an understatement!! I mentioned briefly in a previous post that my mom-in-law created a website and app called Wear This One. You know when you cannot decide what to wear for a wedding, work event, just a regular date? This is the solution all of us have been waiting for (men included!). You simply create an account, download the app (or use the site), post pictures of what you are debating between, and then people vote on which they prefer for the event. You can vote on looks too and there is even a “get inspired” page. It’s super easy, and you can also opt to keep it private if you want to create posts only your selected friends can vote on. Check. it. OUT!

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3. San Pedro Square Public Market. Honestly- I am baffled how I haven’t been here yet. It is now, in my opinion, the best place to eat in San Jose from an atmosphere perspective. DJ, Amy (SIL), and I went here a couple days ago. I was shocked by the number of food options alone.

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We grabbed our food (I tried some fresh to death sashimi from Blush) then found a spot outside to enjoy the live music. We will definitely be back!

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4. Plain Fage. I have been living for just some plain Fage with either Shakeology protein powder, maybe on toast, with oatmeal or with some fruit. I love how thick it is in consistency. I used to love the flavored Dannons, but this just keeps me full much longer with a bangin’ 18g of protein.

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5. TJ’s Spray Sunscreen. This is wayy cheaper than what you will find in the drug store and works very well! No sunburn yet for me this summer!

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6. R + Co Detangler. I have been attempting to keep my hair nice and healthy, but one of my issues has been finding a good detangler. My hair gets too knotted, so usually I end up having to use an absurd amount of detangler and then have greasy hair (no. bueno.). This stuff is like magic. Just a tiny little bit works SO well.

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7. GOOD SEED Hempseed Burgers!!! These are dang yummy. Maybe one of my favorite vegan burgers out there. The thing I particularly love about this burger is the unique flavor- it reminds me of stuffing at thanksgiving- mmm mmm!

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8. So you may remember back when I went on the cruise with Rachel, we made some good friends. Tiffany, pictured below was one of them! We met on an excursion and I hard core encouraged her to start a blog, raving about how amazing blogging is and how great the community is. Well y’all, she started one and it is magnificent!!! I hope you will give it a look over at www.justkeepbreathing.org ! 🙂 She is one of the most genuine, kind, warm, encouraging, and inspirational people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting!

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9. The Staircase. Oh. my. lanta. Y’all- DJ and I haven’t finished this yet because we are watching it together so naturally it will take us at least another couple months haha, BUT we are a few episodes in and it is gripping.

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10. Reading Chillout Playlist. This is my new favorite chill playlist on Spotify for reading. I love a little white noise and this is reading perfection!

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What are some of your weekly Favorites?!

xo <3

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There’s No Place Like Home: Part Two

Here we goooo, Part Dos! This one is a bit shorter, gotta give y’all some breathing room, hehe.

We left off the night of Monday the 2nd. In the morning of Tuesday the 3rd I met my friend Rachel at First Watch– my all time FAVORITE breakfast spot. It’s something we don’t have here in the West, so I was salivating as I walked through the door.

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And I guess you can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take the California out of the girl…. naturally I went for their avocado toast. (I also love their coffee). My other favorites here are their tri-athlete and their massive pancakes!

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Rach ordered their famous pesto chicken quinoa bowl with protein-packed quinoa mixed with kale, shredded carrots and house-roasted tomatoes topped with grilled all-natural lemon chicken breast, basil pesto sauce, feta crumbles and fresh herbs.

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After breakfast, I snuck in a workout at the local gym then decided to go to Earth Fare- my main reason for coming home (jk jk … kinda)…. My last meal would include the taters from Burntwood and tofu nuggets from EarthFare. This is one of the food items I miss the absolute most and a must when I go home.

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They didn’t have them in the main display and I started to panic. I asked the lady if she had any and she said none were made but she would be happy to whip some up. It was so kind, and I was willing to wait the extra twenty minutes to get some nuggs.

img_7274img_7275I grabbed some big salads for me and Clair before going to her childhood home to visit her mom and sister.

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This is a picture of their gorgeous backyard. Countless of my own memories growing up were held here too.

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For dinner I met with another close friend from high school, Kylie, at Pub Bricco. I hadn’t been here in forever, and forgot how doggone delicious their food was.

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Kylie had their salmon sandwich and I tried a bite- heaven. Anything with sun-dried tomatoes is pure gold.

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I savored every single bite of their veggie burger with tzatziki sauce.

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We talked, barely stopping to take a breath for almost three hours, and yet it never seems like enough time! We have been sending cards back and forth this past year though which has been such a great way to stay in touch. Who doesn’t love still getting snail mail nowadays?!

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In the morning of the fourth I woke up super early and headed to Lakeside, OH to join DJ’s family for a day on the lake!

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This place is very dear to DJ and I. DJ grew up here in the summers and this was actually where he told me he loved me for the first time (fun facts all around). When you are here it feels like all is right in the world.

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The girls! (Although we missed Amy- DJ’s twin).

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A ceremony was held to dedicate the Park to DJ’s Grandma and Grandpa- it was a beautiful and wonderful ceremony. Truly an unforgettable day. Love this family and honored to call myself part of it <3

After the ceremony I zoomed back to Cleveland to return the rental car. I was stuck in some serious bouts of rain- I do NOT miss that!!! Rain rain go away, come back when I am on my plane….. back to CA.. where there is a whole lot less precipitation.

BUT fighting the H2O was so worth it because I was able to attend my family’s fourth of July barbecue! My brother and his amazing wife Maura picked me up from the rental place and we drove to my cousin’s home for the evening.

I seriously hope I am half the parents they are!

This is Baby Kate- can’t handle her cuteness. Our little all American girl!

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And this is Jack- my nephew who literally melts my heart and soul every time he says, “Aunt Kenzie”.

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Kate loooved my sunnies.

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And my shoes! She got into those on her own. We just turned around and she was standing there in them with a big smile on her face. It was so stinking cute.

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Time for sparklers!!!

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BE STILL MY SOUL. This face <3

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Jack loved the sparklers and really loved the pop-its! Fearless little man.

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After an incredible family day, I tried to catch some serious snoozes before having to get up at 4 am for my flight (which would be 1 am Pacific time). Eek! I was surprisingly hungry when I got to the airport, so I found a yummy chia seed pudding with berries and nuts and had a coffee before boarding.

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And now that brings us back to good ole’ Northern Cali. Thanks for letting me share my home with you all- such a special place with such special people. Where is your home home?

xo <3

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There’s No Place Like Home: Part One

Heyyyya!!! I am splitting my Ohio trip into two parts so I don’t crash Rossy’s laptop, lol 😉 We took off for Ohio last Friday the 29th. I woke up around 4:45 am to squeeze in a few miles on the tready. Our flight was around 11: 45 am, and I had worked up quite the appetite by the time we had to go. I quickly grabbed a three bean salad and mixed green salad from Klein’s on the airport and ate a No Cow bar on the plane too for some extra protein. (still bitter they changed their formula, but they still keep me nice and full).

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Oh and of course had to snag a Cafe au Lait with almond milk from Dog Patch!

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Home! 🏡

We caught up with DJ’s mom at the kitchen table like we always have since high school <3 One of the best parts of coming home! We ended the night by watching the latest Bachelorette all together.

In the morning I got up early pearly to get ready for the wedding. The time change always messes with me and after getting up at 4:45 am the day before, I was gonna need a lot of coffee! Mom B even stocked up my favorite Dave’s Killer bread and had some perfectly ripe avocados. She knows me well! That avocado toast tasted so good. Food and coffee alwayyys tase better at this house.

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I brought my press on, jankey nails since mine are so darn short and I didn’t want to paint them. Welp, epic fail when I was short two nails! Haha.

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I whipped into the nearest CVS and grabbed a new pack. They are so long, but I didn’t want to mess with clipping them because I’d do a horrible job. Gotta just let the claws live sometimes, ya know?

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I deliberated which dress to wear and settled on this one (you can catch my options on my MIL’s new website and App Wear This One– I will explain more about this soon!).

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We went to a beautiful wedding after picking up my girl Rachel. Remember our cruise together?! We never got to say goodbye after accidentally separating at the airport so when we saw each other it was like “Goodbye! Hello!”.

On the car ride over we imagined worst case scenarios for if one of my nails were to pop off (the little press ons aren’t necessarily the strongest little suckers). We decided it would either be when shaking someone’s hand or at the reception and then the bride slipping on it. Totally normal convos to have on the way to a wedding, right?

As the send off, we all let off balloons outside the church. In San Francisco you would be beheaded if you dared let off balloons into the environment, haha. DJ and I were like, “Is this really happening?!”

In between the wedding, we picked up my sister from a local subway where she was meeting with a friend. Her poor car wasn’t starting, but my brother was able to come in the clutch for a repair. (Y’all it’s like the olden days- fam and friends within arms reach when ya need them, just loved it!).

We went to lunch at Burntwood Tavern, the favorite spot in town.

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Deej had their chicken sliders

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Rachel had their tater tots- and HOLY CANNOLI RAVIOLI, these are the best darn tater tots I have ever had. If I had to create a last meal these would be included.

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I went for their hummus and pita platter. It was a fantastic tide-me-over!

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So nice to see these two below. I haven’t seen Hal, my sister (In the middle) in over a year. I was ecstatic when I heard she was going to be in town for a couple days (She lives in Cincy).

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The food at the wedding was some of the best wedding food I have ever had!!! I had the macadamia salmon and DJ had their filet. Everyone raved about how wonderful the filet was (it’s hard to get a great meat cut at a wedding too!). And those potatoes- goodness gracious alive- I could live on those things.

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My two besties in one picture. Rachel in the middle, Clair on the right. Ya might remember Clair from her own wedding last November <3

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We all danced our little hearts out all together. DJ cut a rug!

Here is the gorgeous bride, Ali. Ali and I were SUPER close in high school. It’s one of those relationships where we can easily just pick up where we left off.

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Here is a video I grabbed of us dancing, but the sound isn’t working for some reason?!!! Ugh, snapchat, come n’!

Late in the evening they had pizza, is there anything better?! Rach and I were quite excited.

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In the morning of the 30th, DJ had to return to Cali for work around 7 am.

I went for a nice sixish mile jog and then Rach, Rachel’s Mom, MC, and I went to Cuyahoga Valley Church. This was the church we used to go to when we lived in Ohio. It was SO nice, gosh I miss that place.

I miss the simplicity of living in Ohio badly. When talking to my mom I was telling her how much I missed certain parts of living in OH (I wrote about some differences in my last post). She made a valid point- she said she was homesick the most when she was home. So true.

After church, we went for a scrumptious brunch in Cleveland. Since we are older now, I would like to go back and actually explore Cleveland. We never did growing up- we just stayed in our little town. DJ and I vowed we would do some more exploring next time we are there together!

anyway- I digress…the three of us decided on the Market Garden Brewery for brunchy perfection.

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I loved the decor- it’s industrial chic if I’ve ever seen it!

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MC tried their Bloody Mary (I snagged a sip! Mmmm mmm!).

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Rach and I savored their very generous in size mimosa flight! The flavors were fantastic- white peach, passion fruit, blood orange, & blackberry.

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I enjoyed their yummy avocado toast. I had a size of their potatoes and a poached egg to plop on top of it.

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MC and Rach split their Brisket Omelette with adobo braised short rib, fingerling potato, fresh avocado, queso fresco, fried pickled onions, cilantro. They said it needed a bit more umph of flavor, but the potatoes were awesome!

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They preferred the carnitas Benedict with 2 scratch english muffin, MGB progress pilsner braised pork carnitas, 2 soft poached eggs, salsa verde hollandaise, pickled red onions, cotija cheese, cilantro served with breakfast potatoes.

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After rolling ourselves out of the restaurant, we headed over to West Side Market. In alll my years of living in Ohio, I had never been here. Can ya believe it?!

It was HUGE- with seriously anything you can imagine. If when we move back here one day I am going to live at this place.

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Feels like home <3

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When I say they have everything, I mean everything..

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After purchasing some fudge and continuing to nurse our food comas, we went to a friend of Rachel’s who had a sweet little new puppy. Cutest little puppy ever!!

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In the afternoon, I headed over to my brother’s house to spend some time with my niece and nephew <3 <3 Gosh I miss them. I hate that I’m the “far away” Aunt- but it makes me treasure truly every single second. They amaze me and I can’t believe I have the honor to call myself their Aunt.

This here is little Miss Baby Kate. Jack, my nephew, was running around and I didn’t have a chance to snag a picture, but next post I have some cute ones of him <3 (I know I need to chill on the heart usage but I can’t help myself).

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The Aunts with their girl! Can ya tell we’re all related?

Maura, my sister in law, made these TASTY vegan buddha bowls. I recreated them immediately when I came home the best I could because they were so doggone delicious!!!

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After chillin’ with my family, giving the kids a bath and reading a bedtime story, we all hit the hay. Those little moments make my heart beat. I couldn’t love those two more than I already do.

In the morning I had the honor of putting little pigtails on this one and then seeing where the kiddos go for summer daycare/school.

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After, I drove to the local gym I used to attend and cranked out a few miles. I then went to Clair’s house for more baby snuggles with her little one, Jacob. He turned one this past week!

CAN. YOU. STAND. IT.

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We hung out, caught up, and kept a close eye on the rambunctious little booger above. We were going to do something outside, but it was in the nineties and promising rain. We ended up going to Target to try to find some clothes for Clair. It felt like middle school again….. except a baby in tow, tehe. It’s strange when you move away and then return how much feels the same, but so different all at once.

Once Clair’s husband Robby came home we went out for a nice dinner at …. guess where? Burntwood Tavern 😉

Clair opted for their Moscow Mule and I had a glass of Cab. Shocker, huh?

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Naturally, we had to split their taters again. I’m telling you— best darn tots I’ve ever tried. Napoleon Dynamite would have a field day.

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Clair had their delectable cedar plank salmon.

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With it being scorching hot out I decided on their salmon salad. I could eat this for every meal.

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We settled in for the evening with some wine to watch Bachelorette. It was a perfect day <3

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I will do part 2 soon with all our 4th of July Festivities & lotsa great grub!

xo <3

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Midwest Culture Shock

Hello and happppy weekend!!! This trip back to Ohio for a wedding was absolutely perfect. It was a fantastic reminder of why the Midwest is so great, and but wowzers mctrowzers sooo different… we haven’t been back in the summer since we moved and we had a definite culture shock returning. (Also I should clarify – this is a small town in OH, the culture shock would probably be less in a big city like Cincy or Columbus). I thought it would be fun to record some of those observations since what used to be our norm is now foreign to us! I actually made a post when we first moved to California highlighting the CA culture shock I initially experienced. It shows how quickly your perspective of “normal” can be shaped by your environment. I should also add this probably could also apply going from many urban to rural areas and does not cover all of CA nor all of Ohio. I will be working on my recap this weekend, but for now I’ll just leave this list of shockers here. I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts!

  1. Driving in the left hand lane as a single driver. In CA, we have to drive in only the right lanes if you are alone in the car, the left is for carpool lanes strictly.
  2. As soon as we were on the road with our rental car, we were asking, “where is everyone?!”. The lack of traffic on the road made us wonder for a second if there was some sort of natural disaster. I miss those open roads!
  3. Food prices. Food is insanely cheap comparatively. I think DJ and I have just gotten used to the exorbitant prices to eat out and it was refreshing to see a more forgiving bill.
  4. Hearing people talk about fishing, barbecues, and buying a home. Buying homes out here is, well, just not an option. Hearing people my age discussing buying homes was mind boggling.
  5. Along with the lack of traffic, there is the lack of food options. (But it doesn’t mean there isn’t great food- as you will see!). While I was there, the same place was suggested to eat for dinner three separate times, and the same breakfast place two separate times by all different people. LOL! That would never happen here considering the multitudinous options.
  6. Less Diversity. Something I loved when we moved out here was just the melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. We are definitely the minority where we live, so going back and being in the majority was a bit strange too!
  7. Seeing people you know at the grocery store… and the local coffee shop.. and the bank… and everywhere. It’s a small town, and you inevitably at least recognize someone everywhere you go!
  8. We aren’t considered “young” for being married. Most of my friends are married, engaged (or on their way to being engaged), and popping out kiddos. In CA, most people don’t get married until late late 20s, early 30s (if that), and we are certainly an anomaly.
  9. There is not a Starbucks (OR PEETS) every half a mile, so plan your coffee trips accordingly 😉
  10. There are certainly way more trucks than Teslas. DJ’s truck is considered a commercial vehicle here, hah!
  11. People eat dinner so early! We have adopted more of a 7/7:30 pm schedule for eating in the West, but most in the midwest schedule dinner for 5:30/6 pm.
  12. Thunderstorms are intense. I forgot how scary it can be driving in a torrential downpour. I do not miss driving in that rain, but I do miss the storms!
  13. The pace. There was something so beautiful, refreshing, and perspective forming about the slow pace and emphasis on what matters most in life- family, friends, faith and making memories. In Northern CA sometimes it feels like everyone is just rushing, always in a hurry to get somewhere and do something (but in reality everyone’s just sitting in traffic). There is a bit more of a concern and emphasis on occupation and education here too. Those things still matter in the midwest obviously, but it just seems that those priorities are different. It was a nice reminder for me, and maybe it all goes back to the slower pace. <3 (**also not saying this applies to everyone in NorCal, but just my observation**).
  14. Everyone is so friendly & strangers actually talk to one another.
  15. PLASTIC BAGS FROM THE GROCERY STORE. And without paying 10 cents?! Woah. woah. woah.
  16. Space! There is so. much. space. And grass!
  17. Country music plays everywhere. LOVE IT.
  18. Fashion is different here than in the midwest. Midwest fashion is brighter, more floral, and relaxed. In NorCal, fashion is more monotone dark colors, sleek, and form fitting. Denim is worn on the bottom in the midwest, and as a jean jacket in the Bay.

I could probably go on. Both places are two entirely separate worlds. They each have pros and cons, and I wouldn’t trade living in CA for the stage we are currently in. But it was a great reminder that no doubt, OH will always be my home, and I’ll always be a midwest girl at heart.  <3

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xo <3

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SF Tourin’ & Big Basin Hikin’

Heyyy yaa! This post is going to be heavily picture laden- but not as heavy on the words (at least as much as usual 😉 ). This week has been busy running around getting ready to go back to Ohio this weekend, BUT I am going to try to squeeze this post out before we take off!

Soooo where did we leave off? I believe it was Thursday the 22nd… DJ and I headed to BW3 (Buffalo Wild Wings) in the evening to meet up with his coworkers. It was a blast, and I can’t wait to see them all again for another get together mid July.

Friday the 23rd kicked off a tremendous weekend. I started the morning (as I have every morning) with some avocado toast using Oren’s Hummus Shop whole wheat pita, hummus, and mashed avocado with pink Himalayan salt & pepper. I can’t get enough of this.

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After an Insanity workout, DJ and I headed to Santana Row to do some shopping for him. I was thankful I didn’t have to look for anything for myself because I am overrrrr it! But I always love going with DJ just to tag along & have an excuse to find a cup a jo’ somewhere.

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In the evening we drove into SF to attend our Church’s annual conference called If Not For the Hand of God at the Regency Ballroom. We had Mack Brock in the house & a ton of phenomenal speakers over the weekend. Every second was incredible. My notebook is filled with pages and pages of wisdom and conviction from these Pastors.

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I also loved getting to see my sweet friend, Tammy, if only briefly Friday night!

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DJ and I woke up around 6 am on Saturday morning, the 23rd. We decided we had enough time to try to squeeze in an awesome breakfast before a busy jam-packed day.

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I have wanted to try Kitchen Story for a while- it’s one of those well known “Must try” brunch places in SF.

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We were seated immediately since it was only 8 am on a Saturday (give it 2 hours and you are looking at least an hour wait).

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DJ tried their millionaire bacon. The last time he had the bacon was at Sweet Maple. We had to see how this stacked up.

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I had the Primavera with egg whites, spinach, mushrooms, and blistered tomatoes, a croissant, and rainbow potatoes. Such a wonderful start to the day!

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DJ had their ricotta pancakes and said they were some of the best he’s had in the city.

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Overall, we both agreed we still liked Sweet Maple better… but it was a fantastic breakfast nonetheless.

We attended the first session of conference at 9:30 am, then during the lunch break we scarfed down a couple complimentary sandwiches and decided to explore.

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We stumbled across Japantown, a destination in the city we have never been before.

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I’d love to come back and try some of these restaurants.

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After the afternoon session, we decided to go to the 16th Avenue Tiled steps- a tourist spot we have never explored.

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Apparently there was a lady stealing plants from the steps, and they had a picture “shaming” her for stealing. It seemed both ridiculous and hilarious.

After the steps we went to Twin Peaks. You may remember I went on my own a couple months back, and I knew DJ would love the views.

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He had no clue I was taking these pictures of him, sorry deej! Hehe.

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Last on the list for the day was Haight-Ashbury street… a step back in time to the 60s. It is known for being the origin of the hippie culture.

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We decided to stop and grab a quick bite to eat to tide us over before heading home. We went to the first place we saw- Magnolia.

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DJ had their house burger.

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I decided to just have the house salad- I wasn’t super hungry since I had been nibbling on snacks I had in my purse all day- any other grandmas in the house?! I have food on me at ALL times.

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Haight-Ashbury is also known for the Piedmont Boutique with the flailing-out-the-window-legs. What a hoot.

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It truly felt like a step back in time… one of the craziest streets I’ve ever been on. Everyone was exceptionally friendly though- I will say that..

Sunday morning, the 24th, Tammy and I went on a loooong hike at Big Basin in the Santa Cruz mountains!

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I’ve been wanting to do this hike for a while and finally a good time we both could go!

I have never seen Redwoods in person before and was BLOWN away. I have never seen anything so gargantuan in my whole life.

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We had an hearty laugh over this form we had to put on our dashboard. This just instilled allll the confidence in us!

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We set out to do the longest hike the Berry Creek Falls- Skyline to the Sea-Sunset loop.

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Take a look at this bee hive!!!

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The falls were stunning, located about five miles deep into the hike. The pictures cannot do them justice.

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Whoever said “Don’t go chasing waterfalls” was just plain wrong.

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Is it a Black Bear? Nope, it’s a MACK bear.

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We hiked from about 10:45 am to 4:00 pm. It was a phenomenal and strenuous hike (the sign did not lie). The weather was perfect and the views were breathtaking. No greater therapy than nature.

Monday I cleaned up the house, did a load of laundry, and ran some errands. In the evening I made butternut squash pasta with lemon, garlic, and olive oil topped with sprinkled parmesan, a quinoa medley, and I also decided to make stuffed jalapeños for DJ (with Monterey cheese blend, white onion, and bacon).

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Tammy came over to watch the Bachelorette and we snacked and chatted. So thankful for the time we were able to have together this weekend! As the show started, I had this giant salad that I’ve been eating on repeat this week with a black bean burger, tons of veggies, hummus, and balsamic vinegar.

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Yesterday, the 26th, I spent the day getting together packages to ship that I sold on Ebay and Poshmark. I also went for a nice long eight-miler. It’s so funny around here- I swear we have two springs… the flowers go into full bloom early in spring then die then all of a sudden bam.. have a full bloom again. Not mad one bit about it.

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Today, the 27th, I knocked out a little bit of the remainder of my to-do, meal prepped for when I’m gone next week but DJ is home, and started packing for Ohio! Anyone have any fun weekend plans you’re looking forward to?!

xo <3 submark

Finding my [[ Center ]] & Fighting Self Care Guilt

Happy Friday Eve, everyone! I have been spending the last couple weeks finding my center per the title. *Cue the yoga mudra*. This sounds like some serious Californian crap, but ohhh well, it’s trueeee.

Leaving off from the last post, I entered into the next week determined to do some serious self care.

Self care is difficult for me because I tend to feel like I have to be dying on my sword, exhausted in every way before I allow myself to take a darn bubble bath. But that’s what these couple of months are for before diving back into the deep end in August. I am struggling though because if I’m rested, calm, and moving less than the pace of a tornado- am I doing something wrong?! The guilt has been knocking at the door… but I had to remind myself of the beautiful lesson I learned about seasons/transition times when I moved here, and I am going to soak up these next few weeks best I can. After all, I have to be rested before I can give my all, right?

My sister, Andi, and I chatted on the phone on Father’s Day reminiscing about our Dad and life in general. I told her how I’m feeling a bit strange not being busy busy busy. She said the awesome thing about these phases and seasons is that you are available- truly available for whatever God might have for you.

Case and point- I was on a run today and saw a debit card on the sidewalk. In all my busyness previously, I honestly may have just left it, not bothering myself with it. But since I had the time, I was able to run the card to the nearest Police Station- It felt good being able to just do something that I selfishly probably wouldn’t have if I was in one of my busy seasons. The police called back and said the man was incredibly grateful. I also feel like I’ve just been able to be there for my friends and family a bit more this last couple weeks. Usually, I just keep my phone on “Do not Disturb” because when I was at work I obviously couldn’t answer, and when I wasn’t at work I was running around getting ready for work or trying to sleep. It resulted in a endless games of phone tags and a full voicemail box. Now, I actually have my phone on and am able to chat with my friends and family who are going through some tough stuff right now. I’m so glad I can be there to just listen.

So what does this self care look like? Well first, I have allowed myself to sleep without an alarm (which is a challenge when usually I set an alarm even when I don’t need one). My body has been thanking me though- I am breathing easier and feel like my feet are actually on the ground. My circadian rhythm is resetting- and not only physically- but emotionally too.

I’m beginning to actually feel like myself again.

Second- I am cutting out the artificial sweetener drinks and sticking to water. I love those ICE drinks and Vitamin Water Zero- but I have decided to try to just drink pure water. I have noticed the difference in two things- bloating & energy. I love my flavored wa’ (pronounced wah), but time to hydrate the old fashioned way.

Next, this past year in nursing I have severely damaged my back, actually more than I realized. I am working on doing more stretching and some yoga to help it, but DJ suggested I get a massage. I decided Monday June 11th to get one at Elements Massage in Los Gatos with a coupon. Although the masseuse  talked the entire time and we ended up talking about her family’s medical issues, it was still enjoyable. A nurse is never really off duty ;). Haha.

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Monday during The Bachelor(ette) season is my favorite night of the week! I love that DJ watches with me because he has the most hilarious commentary. We took a nice lazy walk on Sunday night on Main Street and passed Rootstock Wine Bar. We decided we would hop in there the next night for a glass of wine before the Bachelorette.

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It’s pretty expensive, but sooo delish, and a nice date place every once in a while. They always have some of the best wine. I also love the whole ambiance- it’s rustic, yet chic, and comfortable. On some nights they have live music playing. We sat out on the patio and enjoyed our glass of wine before walking home to eat our Tollhouse  chocolate chip cookies and watch maybe the silliest shows on television. (Although.. it does look like it could win an Oscar next to the Proposal- ew, that show– awful. Do not even get me started!).

Tuesday morning, the 12th, I tried my first Orange Theory class!!! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I used the arm band for the first one, so I don’t think it was accurate- but it a fantastic workout. I don’t think I’ll stick to the courses because it’s very similar to Insanity (with the HITT routine) that I already do. But every once in a while with some friends it would be fun!

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Almost every night this last couple weeks (That DJ doesn’t have a game of course), Deej and I have been going on evening walks after dinner. This has been one of my favorite parts of the day. We used to take walks often when we lived in Indiana, but have just been so on the go since moving here. It’s been great to have that time together to chat, unwind, and reconnect.

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Wednesday, the 13th,  I did Insanity then realized a new Handmaid Tale episode was out on Hulu. To Peet’s we go with popcorn in tow!

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After, I rounded up our groceries for the week from TJ’s and did some meal prep the rest of the day. In afternoon I started the book, “Behind Closed Doors”. It’s a difficult read from a content perspective, but goodness I could not put it down. Has anyone read it?

Thursday morning, the 14th, I made the same avocado toast that I’ve been having every morning while enjoying it out on my balcony. It has a slice of seeded bread, 2 TBSP hummus, 1/2 avocado, and pink himalayan salt and pepper. I think I’ll be on this kick for a while.

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I went for a run, although somehow I think a sweat bee got caught in my mouth and stung me or something. I was okay, but it was a bit of a shock and hurt! I don’t even know how that happened, lol, but the bee season is in full swing right now. I then was proceeded to be chased by killer crows on the last rung of my run. They followed me about 1/4 mile even when I changed direction and then started flying in front of my face. It was so scary!!! I dove across four lanes of traffic and finally lost them. (A few days later, I heard on the radio this is a thing in Canada!). Mack vs. Nature- 0-2.

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I then caught up on e-mails, laundry, etc.

One of the meals I meal prepped for the week was salmon, broccoli, wild black rice, and ciabatta bread from Trader Joe’s! We gobbled this up for dinner.

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Friday I headed to my first Bar experience!! I had heard about Barre3 from Kori, and when my friend invited me to try The Bar Method, I jumped on it. I think there are some differences between those two- but generally the same idea.

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The boutique was immaculate, quiet, and adorably decorated.

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So my thoughts on bar: I’m such a cardio junkie- so this was a fantastic new challenge for me! I loved how much they focused on strength through micro-movements. It was a workout unlike anything I’d ever done before. I still don’t know that I can totally depart from my cardio- but I would love to incorporate the idea of focusing on such specific muscles into my normal workout regimen more. No wonder Kori & Kaci (Kori’s twin) have the most perfectly toned arms!!

The rest of the day Sara, my friend, and I went back to her house to binge watch our show & snack.

In the evening I headed to Harry Potter Night to watch the San Jose Giants play!

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They went alll out for this! When you enter the gates, they give you a ticket and sort you into a house. Despite the long debate DJ and I had in our kitchen about which house we would be in, I was sorted into Gryffindor! (The sorting hat at Warner Bros said Gryffindor too, sooooo).

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If I had to sort myself I think I’d be in Ravenclaw. Which house are you?!

They even sold Butterbeer from a local brewery (It was basically cream soda, mmm mm!).

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I just LOVE minor league games, especially at Muni. The food is irresistible and the environment is pure fun and excitement.

I recorded on video the House Race on broomsticks, and this poor little man ate it. I felt bad, but I couldn’t help from laughing.

Saturday morning, the 16th, I was craving a soft boiled egg over my toast. I went through FIVE eggs to try to get one that didn’t break right when I was taking off the shell. Well…..

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I overcooked it when I finally thought I had it right. Haha. What are your tricks for a perfect soft boiled egg that’s a bit runny?!

I ended up just going with a normal over medium fried egg.

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Yum, yum!

I went for a calming long walk, listened to a podcast, chatted on the phone, and then during my mid-stride bliss, I was pooped on by a bird. Not the first time this has happened, probably not the last. After taking a THOROUGH shower and washing all my clothes, I then got to work posting tons of things on Poshmark and Ebay that I’ve been wanting to post for a while.

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These are all the clothes I have left (minus workout clothes/pants that are in my dresser). I feel lighter having narrowed it down to clothes I actually wear (considering I wear the same like five outfits in rotation- ha). DJ had to work the weekend, but was home Saturday night for dinner.

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We improvised with the little bit of salmon we had left, rice, and them a tomato soup from trader Joe’s with tortilla strips.

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Sunday the 17th was Father’s Day. It was a hard day- just missing my Dad and DJ had to be at work so I did feel a bit lonely. I went on a long walk in the afternoon and called my step dad, Pete, and my grandpa which turned my mood right around. I’m so excited to see them in about a month! I continued to spend the rest of the day spring cleaning and posting to Ebay/Poshmark.

Monday the 18th- Wednesday the 20th I spent the days shopping. Ok, that probably sounds wonderful to most of you, but not for me! I hate shopping (especially when I need something). I get in the mood maybe once a year for like five minutes when I actually want to shop. This was not one of those times. I needed to find a dress for a wedding we have next weekend and also was hoping to find something to wear for fourth of July. I struck out everywhere, leaving each place empty handed.

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^ I mean, this is what I’m working with… (although the dress alone is pretty cute!).

I did enjoy seeing the massive gorgeous Anthropologie at Stanford Mall.

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Since I couldn’t find a single thing, to online shopping we go (I must clarify- I do LOVEEE online shopping! I’m still a female, ya know?).

Tuesday evening, the 19th, we headed to DJ’s Dad’s to celebrate Father’s Day and to say goodbye (They are moving back to Ohio). It was bittersweet, but I’m glad we had one last hurrah before we saw them go.

Yesterday morning the 20th, I had the best cosmetologist (in my book) at Limon Salon work some serious magic on my damaged hair (part 2)… part one is in the previous recap where she had to work my hair out of the awful highlights.

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Last evening, I made a big crockpot chicken and veggie slow cooked meal that made the house smell magical. I am going to try to make meals in the next couple weeks that we can freeze for when things pick up here soon.

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I’m now sitting at Peet’s (imagine that) and then heading to a work dinner with DJ’s coworkers tonight. Woohoo!

How are your weeks going? If you know how to make a soft boiled egg, please help your girl out!

xo <3

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Celebrations & A Half Moon Bay Day Trip :)

Hello all mack-mareaders (see what I did there?!). Right off the bat I want to say a heartfelt thank you for your response to my last post. I can’t tell you how encouraging this community is- you all have lifted my spirits through this grueling past year, and I am deeply thankful for each of you <3

Once again I have left myself with a good deal of catch up! Starting with us arriving back from Portland. You may remember the travel map DJ gifted me for Christmas…. we were able to add a Portland pin to it! Cause if you liked it then you shoulda put a pin on it. 

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When we returned, we worked hard through the rest of the week then into that weekend (May 26-27), my last weekend on this unit :(. While I am SO excited to finally have my Sundays back with my Church family- I had developed another family. Our weekend crew was the same every weekend so we all grew super close. I especially had a special bond with my work moms. There were two ladies who took me under their wing, mentored me unofficially, and helped me figure out the next step when I thought I was at a dead end. I didn’t expect to get too emotional until the very last day, but as I was telling one of my work moms- Mia (I called her Momma Mia) we both started crying. Ah, I will miss them, I already do. We had a cute little weekend potluck that Sunday.

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I spent the next few days catching up on house chores, laundry, etc. from our Portland trip and recapping the trip on the blog. On Wednesday I went to Trader Joe’s to stock up on goodies for my last day to take in to thank everyone for all their help this year. I seriously wish I had known about the magic of TJ for all these years….. they just have EVERYTHING. And we have cut down significantly on our shopping budget since shopping there!

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And then June 1st… my last day came… <3 It was hard to believe this was the last time (for now) that I’d be walking through these doors.

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When I came home, DJ was still at work, but this was waiting for me on the counter..

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It warmed my heart- so thoughtful! He left the sweetest card and a compass path candle. He’s a good one, I’ll tell ya what….

Saturday, June 2nd, I woke up early to get some hair did. Guys.. my roots were SO bad. They have never been this bad before. I’d include a picture of the before but I think I’d scare you.

Needless to say… I was pretty excited once those sons of a guns were touched up. (For my blondies out there- I started doing balayage last year instead of highlights. It lasts way longer and looks more natural. Well, the last time I had my hair done before the cruise, my regular stylist wasn’t available so I took whoever was available- she insisted on re-highlighting my hair, but I recognized the roots way sooner and missed the natural balayage feel. <– That sentence was about as long of a run on as my roots were). What is your preference? Highlights? Balayage?

 

 

In the evening, my friend Sara came over to celebrate my completion of the program and starting this new journey with school. We pulled out all. the. snacks.

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We watched a new show and paused intermittently to chat at times. Love girl time!

On Sunday the 3rd, we had an eventful day! DJ had a busy morning at the stadium and then we whipped down to Oracle for Game 2 of the Finals!

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Goooo Cavs!!!! Our blatant support of the Cavs caused quite the ruckus. No worries friends & fam- we held down the fort.

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After, we crossed over the Bay bridge into SF to get dinner with a couple of our friends.

I can’t actually remember crossing the Bay Bridge before, and oh myyyy was it ever beautiful all lit up!

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The sun set added such a warmth to the evening. I had never been in SF on a weekday night (well, going into a weekday night), and the quietness of the city mixed with the setting sun and twinkling lights was almost romantic. It gave me a new appreciation for my already favorite city <3

It was an unforgettable day with great memories and friends.

On the following Monday the 4th, I was running errands near DJ’s stadium, and he said he was heading to lunch if I wanted to join. It was fun to have the freedom to pop in and even though I’d already eaten it was fun to just sit and recount the game with him spur of the moment.

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DJ loved the habit burger and says their chocolate malts are one of his favorites.

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In the evening, we watched Bachelorette together. Anyone watch? Any thoughts? I was excited for this season, but so far I feel like it’s a bit of a snooze fest (I guess they always are in the beginning, aren’t they?).

Tuesday the morning of the 5th,  I grabbed breakfast with my friend Danielle whom I haven’t seen in FOREVER.

We met in downtown San Jose on South First at Social Policy.

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As I walked around, I found a new appreciation for downtown San Jose… it was looking extra colorful and bright this morning. It’s funny how sometimes we can forget to be a tourist in our own town. I’m going to make a more concerted effort to explore SJ this summer.

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The line for SoPo was out the door even on a Tuesday morning. It was well worth the wait!

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I had a cafe au lait with their house-made almond milk and their avocado smash (best avocado toast I’ve ever had).

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I’m on an strong avocado kick right now.

The rest of the day I spent cleaning up my e-mails, making a giant to-do list for the summer, enjoying a nice run outside, then meal prepping.

Wednesday, oh our dear Wednesday, the 6th, we watched the Cavs lose in the Finals 🙁 But we had some spicy sriracha green beans from The Habit to help mitigate the pain.

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Thursday, the 7th, I spent the day running, reading, blogging and sipping a cafe au lait at Peet’s while watching some Hulu… I may have also taken the popcorn with me in a ziplock container to Peet’s… people probably were slightly confused, but Peet’s is my second home after all.

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Friday the 8th, I pulled the trigger on an idea I’ve had for a while. OK, this is so silly, but I have so many food pictures from this blog that I wanted to compile into one place. I figured why not create an Instagram where I can just store them (and use puns to my heart’s content)? I always want to post them on my personal insta, but I feel like I would just be spamming all my friends and fam.. This is going to be my little creative outlet (besides this blog of course).

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Please leave your Instagram handle below so I can follow you there!

Saturday, the 9th, we went to Half Moon Bay for my first time (DJ had been once before).

It was chilly out- in the low 60s- and for me that’s winter, hence the winter jacket. Yes, I know, we have grown soft. Our midwest skins would be disappointed in us.

Half Moon Bay is a sleepy little beach town, so quiet, serene, and surprisingly full of history.

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We walked along the beach for a while, then the coastal trail.

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We wondered along downtown hand in hand, soaking up the lazy afternoon, peeking into family owned shops, and letting our conversations wonder aimlessly as we were.

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With the bitter chill in the air (lol, I’m so dramatic), I was craving a hot coffee. We stopped by The Cafe Society, a quaint little coffee shop/jazz bar- how fun is that?! I grabbed an americano with steamed almond milk, then we headed back into the tundra. Baha.

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The colors just popped, each storefront was lovingly decorated with intricate details.

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We passed a Tom & Pete’s- I realized I’d seen this place before but couldn’t remember where exactly… then it hit me! It was the truck located at the pumpkin patch we went to a couple years ago.

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We also noticed this Jail that was built in 1911. It looked like there was a tour going on. The jail pushed up against the mountains looked like something out of a storybook.

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Before heading back, we were not about to miss an opportunity to go to Sam’s Chowder House!

 

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I saw they had a seaweed salad on the menu, and it sounded just perfectly refreshing! Love my seaweed.

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I opted to try their raw oyster bar- with 2 oysters, 2 clams, and 2 shrimp. When I ordered it DJ goes, “You don’t even like oysters”… and I longingly said, “But I wannnnt to like them”. And guess what! I really enjoyed these oysters! I actually enjoyed them even more then the clams, which says something, cause I love clams.

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DJ of course had their lobster roll (their go-to menu item that is just insanely delicious), and I snuck more than a few bites.

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Still convinced this is one of the best restaurants the Bay has to offer. If you want ridiculously fresh seafood- this is it.

Yesterday I was able to go back to Church for the first time in a while, and it was soooo nice. I then caught up with my friend Tammy after at Cafe San Jose.

I’m putting together a master summer bucket list for the SJ/SF/Oakland area- so if you have been PLEASE share with me your favorite place to eat, things to do, etc. (No worries, Kate, Capo’s is on the list hehe!).

Have a fabulous week, everyone 🙂

xo <3

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Nursing: Tribulation & Triumph.

Hey guys- This is another journal-like entry as I reflect on this past year. I don’t want to forget these pivotal moments, but to my loyal readers- do not feel obligated at all to read this one. It’s quite long! 

Do you ever have too many thoughts swirling around in your mind that the idea of trying to articulate them is intimidating? I’ve been putting off this post simply because I do not know where to begin. But something I have learned through writing these last couple years is “just write it”. It’s like if Nike modified their slogan to fit not physical athletes but those who win essay competitions, those who fuel up on coffee rather than Gatorade, and who suffer from carpal tunnel injuries rather than sprained ankles. Writers are athletes in their own right (or in their own write). Oops- now, this is the problem with just write it… it can get you far, but maybe not in the right direction.

Allow me to redirect this metaphorical train back to the topic at hand.

I  have not mentioned yet in my documented nursing rhetoric around here that in order to pursue a doctorate full time, I cannot continue to work full time simultaneously. I will be traveling cross country a few times a semester, potentially driving for hours to and from clinical assignments, and then studying hours on end. After extensive conversations with my husband we agreed it would be rational to begin the program without the full-time commitment, then potentially reapplying for part time or per diem positions once I feel out the flow of the program. I turned in my notice about a month ago. My managers could not have been more supportive. As I began telling each of my coworkers individually the realization started to set in …

You all know this job (although job seems such an inappropriate word), this calling that began on March 20th 2017 has been an obstacle, or rather a series of obstacles, tribulations, and triumphs. It has been the most strenuous, yet the most rewarding venture I have ever embarked. It has pulled my heart strings in nearly every direction that at times I thought it would tear. It pushed me to such utter fatigue that I felt that I didn’t have energy to speak at times. It shoved my emotional boundaries where I often wondered how my body could possibly produce another tear. It forced me to grapple with the most profound questions of life and come face to face with with the most integral parts of humanity- and to recognize the best and at times the darkest parts of myself. It brought to light the robustness of the human spirit- it showed me what true strength looks like as I walked along my patients, warriors, who fought tooth and nail for another day.

As the last day of work approached, this past Friday June 1st, I was overcome with reflection and contemplation. I didn’t realize it was possible to grow this exponentially in one year. I think back to my first days where I knew next to nothing. For about the first three months, I felt like I was given an insurmountable to-do list. I was given a  group of HIPAA names at the beginning of each shift that represented human beings that I was responsible to keep alive and I didn’t know how. If I made one wrong move, this person would lose his or her life because of me. The one phrase that resonated with me was, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. But what do you do when you “don’t know what you don’t know” involves peoples’ lives in the scales? The “don’t know” can be the difference between another day and the grave. Is there anything more terrifying? Every time I woke up to go to work I knew I would potentially be facing the next worse day of my life. This sounds melodramatic, but it’s the bleak truth- during this time I would often quietly hope that I would get in a car accident on the way to work so I wouldn’t have to go in (I know how awful that is- and I sought the proper help when those types of thoughts started creeping up). I don’t want to admit that, but it’s part of this story and it’s the cringe-worthy truth. I was depressed, and I was desperate, and I was failing. I was not going to make it through.

Then a note came around month four. We have these cards patients can fill out before they leave the hospital to thank someone who cared for them. I received a note from a patient thanking me for talking with her about some tough things she was going through outside of being sick and how much that conversation meant. When I received this note, it changed everything for me. To see I could have that type of impact changed my perspective and renewed my passion. It gave me a fire and strength to continue on. Then the next note came, then the next, then the next. I started to feel that I was actually making a difference, and nothing is more fulfilling than that.

And it was a two-way street. I reflect often on these patients that, conversely, impacted my life, and made every day, as hard as they were, so worth it. The past couple weeks these memories and interactions have flashed in front of my mind. There was the paraplegic man that was rotated among nurses because he was an “ extra difficult assignment”. When it was my turn for him, my heart just broke- he was not in good shape and, you know, I’d probably be cranky too. After a morning filled with a long string of complaints, aggravation, cruel words, and a ceaseless scream for “NURSE” that echoed into the halls, I had a moment of conviction. God was pulling on my heart strings to offer to pray for him. But God.. He won’t let me… it’ll make him more upset that I even offered… I still have to be his nurse for seven more hours… But ultimately the conviction won over. Through a single exhale I asked if I could pray for him. He looked thoroughly stunned, but quickly mumbled that would be ok. I prayed over him, and he was quiet for a moment. He thanked me and for the first time that shift, he asked me my name and didn’t just call me “nurse”. We had a great rest of a shift together. He asked if I would be back the next day. I wouldn’t be, but I was sad I couldn’t be back with him for a second day in a row.

Another patient was an older adult who was there for a spine surgery related to cancer. He was having a challenging recovery, but by the third day we had together we were able to get him up and walking. I rarely ever had time to walk with my patients, but this day I was able to squeeze one in with him, it was special. He was thrilled to be out of bed, walking about, and proud of his progress. At one point as he whipped around a corner with his IV pole I even had to pull out one of my go-to cheesy nurse jokes, “You better slow down, or you’ll get a speeding ticket!”. But soon, the nausea caught up, and I sat with him as he threw up. I loaded up his IV with anti-nausea meds and pressed a cold washcloth to his head to help him get it under control. He was so disappointed in himself, but I was not about to let him forget his tremendous progress. He was a rockstar in my book. That goodbye was a challenge because I knew he would be discharged by the time I returned. Upon saying goodbye he said to me, “I will never forget you for as many years I have left”. I will never forget him either, for as many years I have left.

There was the stroke patient who was engaged at the time of his stroke, he was trached, peg’d, unable to speak, and it was unclear how he would recover- if at all. He was one of my most trying patients from an acuity perspective and from an emotional perspective. I at times was at a loss for words with how to communicate with the family. After caring for him for three shifts in a row, I was on my day off, running outside. The whole situation suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks. Out of nowhere I stopped, I couldn’t breathe- and suddenly I just sobbed in the middle of the sidewalk. It’s not fair, I thought to myself. But for the first time I realized my tears were not from anxiety, they were from deeply grieving for my patient and his family. He wasn’t in my rotation of patients for a couple weeks, but one time I passed him when he was sitting in the hallway. He no longer had his trach and looked so much better, he was awake and seemed aware. I walked by and said hello and he spoke back in full sentences. For the first time, I saw a drastic recovery like this, and thought, I love my job.

Perhaps one of my most difficult assignments was when I was floated to another unit. I was assigned a man with a terminal illness who was showing signs of quick and acute decompensation. He was not yet comfort care, but I didn’t think he looked as though he was going to make it through the night. After consulting with the doctor, she was able to get consent from the family to convert him to comfort care– meaning we do everything possible to make him comfortable without continuing life saving treatment. His family was clearly in denial- which is extremely common. It can be confusing when we were just drawing labs, taking blood pressures, and giving fluids, and now all the monitors are turned off. He was slipping in and out of consciousness, and I told his wife if they had any family they should call them right away. I think it finally hit her, and the begging, the pleading, the crying, the look in her eye- is something I will never forget. I gathered with the family and we prayed over him and did whatever we could to make him more comfortable. It was 4:30 pm, and my float nurse insisted I take a lunch. We are required in California to go off the clock for thirty minutes, but the whole time I just mechanically ate like a robot- tasting nothing at all, only eager to return to the bedside. I thought my patient was going to pass on my shift, but he waited until later in the evening to go peacefully. During that shift and when I was home, I reflected on repeat what one of my clinical instructors said to me, “It’s a blessing to be there when someone comes into the world, but God hand picks those who are there as someone leaves it”. What a great responsibility it is to be a nurse.

I could list these stories, these actual realities for many, for pages and pages. Countless individuals have changed me as a person in a single year. I do not view life the way I did only a year ago. My outlook and priorities have changed. The job itself is relentless and hard, but I would not have made it through without my patients, their hugs, their encouragment, their humor, and inspiration to find a strength that pales in comparison to their own.

Working in this call, despite the pain and challenges, despite how the beginning was marked by an overwhelming cloud of anxiety, I have been filled predominantly with gratitude and appreciation. I would have conversations with God on the way to and from work, asking why he would entrust me with such amazing individuals’ lives, how do I have the honor to call myself a nurse? How did I end up at a teaching hospital where I was getting the best education and learning? How did I get blessed with such an unwavering support system to make it through? More than anything this experience made me appreciate the most basic elements of life.

I remember on a particularly tumultuous day, I stood in the supply closet forcing back tears and just found myself thanking God for the ability to breathe on my own, to pee on my own, to walk on my own, to speak on my own.

I have had to enforce fluid restrictions for patients with critically low sodium levels, and the way they would beg for just a sip of water….it was one of the most awful orders I had to carry out- I couldn’t give this water to them because they could die. It even made me appreciate drinking water at my leisure.

Working in the field of neurosurgery with my neurosurgical patients has been the most awakening, perspective changing and humbling experience. Each day is a gift, each moment, each breath is a gift.

Day by day, I slowly found my confidence in being a nurse. It didn’t mean it became easy, far from, but there was an empowerment I experienced with more competence. I felt more pride, ownership, and reward as I navigated the scary medical waters. I found I could advocate for my patients, communicate with them better, answer more questions, and confidently provide the best possible care without questioning every single thing I did. I found myself multi-tasking in a way I never realized I would be able to. Skills that would scare the code brown out of me at the beginning, I was able to do much more at ease. I was advanced to a Clinical Nurse II by my six month mark. I didn’t feel entirely deserving of the advancement in title, but was determined to do my best to live up to it.

Each day was still immensely intimidating, but around month eight I found myself able to separate home and work, having less anxiety, and experiencing more rewarding shifts. On Christmas Eve, I walked in to do a neuro assessment on a patient who had a marked change. I recognized something wasn’t right with her strength in her legs as it had been the previous assessment. I let the MD know, and as soon as the order was in I rushed her up to an MRI and CT scan…the resident came running into the CT room, out of breath, with a  surgical consent form in hand explaining she had an spinal epidural hematoma and needed emergent surgery. We got her into the OR right away. For the first time I think I saw how clearly I had saved someone’s ability to walk, potentially her life in a moment. As I was silently basking in this save while back on the unit changing another patients’ wound dressings, my phone rang. The secretary was on the other end, “Uh.. hey.. your patient fell in 9A”. “WHAT! Fell?!”. I couldn’t believe my ears. I can’t seriously have my first patient fall today I thought. On one of my best days as a nurse, I also had one of my worst. Tis’ nursing. The next day, Christmas, I received back the patient from with the epidural hematoma after a night in the ICU. She was moving her legs about and had no complications. It was one of the greatest Christmas presents I could have received. We sat and watched parts of a hallmark movie together as I pushed antibiotics through her IV, and I remember thinking, These holiday shifts aren’t so bad.

Come springtime, I was voted employee of the month, which I thought was a typo in the staff email or surely there was another person with my name on our unit because it couldn’t be me?! March I was our class representative at our Residency program graduation and gave the class speech. And this is not at all to brag or say I did anything special- I say this to highlight the fact that I was perhaps the most inadequate for this job, but my patients, family, friends, coworkers, and God’s providence pulled me through. With Him all things are possible, it is true, because this was an impossible obstacle in my mind.

Then my last day came… I felt so much love from my coworkers in a way I never expected. They even threw a surprise potluck complete with a sheet cake from Costco (the best, right?). It touched me deeply, and I will miss every single one of them. We have been through the thick of it together. I gave my last shift report and in true nursing shift fashion one patient reported chest pain, the other went into a state of delirium, and the other suddenly couldn’t pee. I tried to help tie up the last few loose ends best I could, but recognized I had to entrust my last few patients (for now) into the next, exceptionally competent nurses’ hands.

As I left the floor I had a moment, where after all the chaos quieted I was alone in the break room. I was about to leave, my hand turning the doorknob after cleaning out my locker, but I stopped, turned around for a moment and took in the view of the room one last time- this room had seen so many tears, fears, and victories. With a bittersweet sigh, I turned back around and walked out the door for the last time, leaving a job but taking an intangible amount of learning, stories, and faces with me.

I washed my scrubs for the last time today and as they tumbled in the laundry machine, I received an e-mail about class scheduling for school. I don’t know how I arrived to this place, but I am thankful. My heart is saturated with gratitude. I am humbled and honored to have had this experience. My patients have no idea the effect they have had on me- and they are my motivation to be the best darn NP I can be, to be the best person I can be. I realize now the most grueling of times are vehicles for the most tremendous growth. I have learned sometimes there is not a clear line between ugly darkness and beautiful light, but often they dance together contrasting one another in a profound way.  I understand that God will not give us more than we can bear, but he will often give us more than we think we can bear. He is faithful and will carry us through. And I realize now that some superheroes do not wear capes, but instead wear hospital gowns. Patients think we save them, but they often save us too.

Eating Our Way Through Portland Part Three!

Hey y’all!! Oh man, I am getting these posts up at a snail’s pace. Ever since we’ve came back from Portland things have just been go go go! But alas, I finally bring us to our last installment of our Portland trip. Here are part one and part two.

We started out the last day of our trip venturing into Blue Star Donuts. Now, most people have heard that Voodoo donuts is the place to go when in Portland- but there is an ongoing debate among locals whether Blue Star or Voodoo is better. Jay insisted that we had to try Blue Star, and we were not about to argue with a local Portland donut savant.

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The flavors to choose from are the most unusual donut flavors I have ever seen….

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Donut you just want to try them all?!

I sampled the blueberry bourbon basil, lemon poppyseed, and the peanut butter and jelly.

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My favorite was either the lemon poppyseed- best lemon poppy ever, but the stellar unique deliciousness of the blueberry bourbon basil was unlike any donut I’ve ever had. It is a MUST try. The PB & J was excellent too- but I did prefer the other two more.

Deej tried the chocolate, blueberry cake, and glazed original. Not on bite was left! Jay had a maple bacon, one of their staples.

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But the ultimate question is- did you even go to Portland if you didn’t get a picture of the Keep Portland Weird sign?! Voodoo donuts is located right across the street, and it looked like a zoo. The line was wrapped entirely around the building, and we all agreed me made the right choice by hitting up Blue Star instead. (Next time we will try Voodoo to compare 😉 ).

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PAUL BUNYAN ALL!

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While stopping by the PB statue, I noticed a bunch of tents popping up and my farmer’s market senses were tingling. I cannot resist a Farmer’s market walk by. The boys graciously stopped by with me.

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CHANNEL THE FLANNEL Y’ALL! There was a local school parade we happened to watch going through the Farmer’s market. We laughed because we were probably the only one’s there that early in the morning that didn’t know a single person in the parade.

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I won this Yerba Mate at one of the cute little stands with a spin the wheel for a prize.

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After, we decided to head to Cascade Brewing House– the House of Sour! Sour Beer is my and DJ’s favorite- so naturally we had to try this place.

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After the yum of the pretzel from Deschutes, we all agreed we were up to split another!

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It wasn’t on the same level as Deschutes, and we didn’t prefer many of the beers. Maybe we didn’t get the right ones, but definitely would suggest going to Deschutes before Cascade.

We walked around downtown after near the Pioneer Courthouse and some side streets.

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We were pretty hungry again so we went to the ultimate food truck destination! Here is the address: 1207 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214. It’s a non-negosh if you go to Portland– you have to try one of these food trucks!

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They had asian fusion, Egyptian, BBQ, pizza, Mexican, and the one we opted for…

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Drummmmroolllll

Potato champion! An actual meal served over fries.

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So, I didn’t realize every single thing on the menu was over fries. I ordered the palak paneer fries and then the veggie korma thinking the korma was a wrap for some reason. In reality I had just walked up and confidently ordered two large orders of fries. The guy was probably like, “oook you do you boo booo…” The guys ordered the poutine fries and a burger to split from a nearby truck.

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Fries on fries on the sun’s in my eyeeees. This was the first time the sun came out, and I think it was a sign. The beams of light came through the clouds, illuminating this meal like it was sacred. Amen amen. (ok that’s a bit dramatic, but you can’t judge until you’ve tried this heavenly goodness).

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Gosh, did I mention these fries were good 😉 It was one of those times that I was like, no way I’m gonna make a dent in all this… but it was addictively delicious “Just one last bite” for about fifty more bites. Tehe.

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Now this burger, from Bottle Rocket, was burger perfection, simply amoozing. Wow, I am in rare form today. 😉  DJ was raving so much about it that I had to try it. Holy. stinking. smokes. I don’t know if I’ve ever tried a better burger. With the sun shinin’, the awesome energy, the upbeat yet relaxed atmosphere…this little pitstop is a great place to Ketchup with some friends.

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We went back to the hotel, took a long nap, then got ready for dinner.

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Diva Shot.

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DJ and I had a bit of time to kill before dinner and if we opted for the “Green clean” (so no housekeeping), we received a 15 dollar credit to use for room service or at Urban Farmer, the other restaurant within our hotel.

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These are pictures from the gorgeous sitting area you pass through to get to Urban Farmer.

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I absolutely adored the decor at Urban Farmer. It was rustic, chic, and soft. It was the perfect ambiance. To my CLE fam- there is one in Cleveland!! There are also locations in Philly and Denver.

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DJ and I tried Oysters one time and weren’t huge fans. But like with anything- you have to give something a few goes before you make a final decision on whether you like them. We decided to order a few. They were fine, but we both agreed we would just rather have a shrimp cocktail or another appetizer over oysters.

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We walked a couple blocks to meet up with Jay and Carly (Jay’s girlfriend) for dinner at Portland City Grill!

Gotta Keep Portland Weird, ya know!?

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Portland City Grill is on the 30th floor (chant with me.. views, views, views!!!)

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It was a beautiful evening, so we were able to see the mountains clearly!

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Portland City Grill is pretty darn expensive, but on Sundays they have a happy hour menu alll day. This means we were able to try a few dishes at half the price- they were just exquisite.

We started with some house salads and then the crab cakes. *insert drooling emoji here*.

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Then the asian spring rolls…mmm! I haven’t had these in a while. I used to make them all the time, and this inspired me to whip out my personal recipe to start making them this summer.

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Next on deck, fish n’ chips. Best . fish n’ chips. ever.

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We didn’t skip out on desserts. And we had a sweeet tooth! This beauty below is a lemon chiffon cake with layers of Lemon Chiffon Cake & Raspberry Gelée, Candied Almonds, Limoncello & Poppy Seed Ice Cream.

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And this magic morsel… the marbled black forest cheesecake with poached cherries, a chocolate cookie crust, and whipped cream. I don’t even need to mention how fantastic this was.

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The crew! (and a photo bomber)

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In the morning we headed straight to the airport, saying goodbye to an unforgettable few days filled with amazing memories.

Really quick… for travel posts I like to give super honest reviews of where we stay. If we had to recommend The Nines to someone we agreed we probably would not recommend it. I know this is shocking considering how beautiful and centrally located it is. It was very nice, but a few things fell a bit subpar for the cost. There was no coffee in the room- only out in the lobby (coffee in the room is a must for me, that darn mini coffee maker in most hotels is usually my favorite part of a stay, lol), the bartender at Urban Farmer was the rudest human being we have ever interacted with (we were flabbergasted at the interaction we had, absurdity at its finest), we never ended up getting that $15 dollar comp that we were promised (And never received housekeeping because of that, which is fine- but we were looking forward to getting the oysters comped), there is no pool/hot-tub, we were awoken by our neighbors at three in the morning and had a hard time sleeping with how loud they were, and the cost for what it is just wasn’t worth it in our opinion. We have had just as great if not better stays at places that cost way less. If you visit Portland, I’d recommend visiting the hotel, maybe going to Departure for some great views or Urban Farmer for the ambiance (just don’t sit at the bar in case you get that bartender haha), but don’t stay.

When we arrived at the airport I had to try the famous Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Their coffee was so strong, a bit bitter, a bit too much for me but I see how people would like it!

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Byyyyyeeee Portland <3 Thanks for the memories! Until next time!

xo <3

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Eating Our Way Through Portland Part Two!

Hey hey! I just had such a productive day, feelin’ like buzzing bee day where I saw my to-do list just dissolve before my very eyes. (edit: I was feeling that way two days ago when I started this post, no longer do I feel that way!). Lol. Anywayyyyys, we are NOT here to talk about today, we are here to talk about.. well quite a few days ago…. aka over a week ago….

SO let’s get to it, eh?!

Part One Portland is here in case you missed it.

We left off nomming down on Pine State Biscuits. After finishing up the breakfast of the century, we headed to Multnomah Falls.

The drive alone provided breath taking views. We cruised along the Columbia River Gorge taking in the deep green vastness, practically illuminated against the charcoal skies.

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We were planning on doing the hike up to Multnomah Falls, but the entry to the hike (a few miles past the viewing area) was closed due to the awful fire that happened last year. One of my patients actually warned me about this before going, and he was right! It was still a bit of a mess.

We turned the car around to head back to the viewing point. To our nice surprise at the turnoff, we were greeted by a portion of the Historic Oregon Trail! Love it when detours turn into destinations.

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We found a place we could snag some pictures in front of the falls without doing the hike. It worked out pretty beautifully that the hike was closed off because we were able to fit in so much more the rest of the day than we even planned.

One path closes, another one opens!

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The boyssss.

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The Majestic Multnomah Falls!!! The pictures can’t do them even a bit of justice.

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After hitting up the Falls we went to the Vista House overlook. There is a pretty cool history you can read about here for all you history buffs.

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These views!

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Contemplative…

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But not for long!

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After taking the views in at the Vista House, we headed to Washington Park.

We drove down a long winding road to find the park. It was like a scene from Alice in Wonderland, with roses accompanying each turn of the drive.

Something I didn’t expect, but adored, were the pastel colored homes ascending up the hill. It reminded me of a more spaced out SF. Squish in about fifty more houses, and we’d feel right at home!

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And time for the blooms in the Rose Garden! They weren’t even “in season” and yet everything still was gorgeous!

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After touring the Gardens, we went to downtown Portland to explore the Pearl District- a cultured, artsy, and heavily foodie laden area!

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We grabbed some coffee at Caffe Umbria, then continued exploring. This little coffee shop was so doggone cute.

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One of the places I had been dying to see was Powell’s Books- the largest Used & New bookstore in the world.

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It was MASSIVE. I could have spent hours upon hours in there. Gosh, I loveddd it!

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After Powell’s we walked around a bit more then passed through Providence Park.

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I couldn’t believe how large and PACKED the stadium was.

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And again.. the art never ceased to amuse!

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Since we were in a place known for their Breweries, one of the bullet points on our list was a “good Brewery”….. good thing Jay is a local and doesn’t know just a good brewery, but the best brewery!

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Deshutes had a long wait in the middle of the afternoon— and reason being- it’s amazing.

We started with a pretzel and it was the single greatest soft pretzel maybe I’ve ever had (except I’m forever a sucker of Auntie Anne’s). But this is just different, ya know?

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And we tried some fantastic beers to go along with it. DJ and I aren’t big “beer” people, but when in Rome. With the pretzel and the atmosphere, it all was fun to sample and actually pick up on the different flavors.

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Jay took us to a “locals” spot up a mountain to get panoramic views of the city! I couldn’t capture them with my phone, but gosh, they were awesome. It reminded me of the Twin Peaks in SF.

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On this little stone structure there are plaques that whichever plaque you stand in front of, if you look into the distance, that is the exact mountain you are viewing. Pahrettty neat!

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Believe it or not… at this point in the afternoon we definitely had worked up a real appetite. We decided to have a “snack”… aka a large 3:00 pm afternoon meal that we are calling a snack because in lieu of how much we ate on this trip, it really was just a snack. We went to a food truck stop that had a food truck for absolutely anyone- Indian to Vegan to Mediterranean to American to Mexican cuisine to etc. etc.- EVERYTHING.

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A place on my list was Viking Soul Food. When researching must have food trucks, this was on the list! It is Scandinavian food, which I have never even heard of before.

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The main thing they are known for is their lefse which is a Norwegian style potato flatbread, handmade daily. It is like a crepe, yet more savory. Hellooooo deliciousnesss.

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I tried their “Ocean Booty” with shrimp, aioli, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and almonds wrapped in the lefse. It was delicious, and perfectly light for the afternoon.

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DJ and Jay decided to try Herb’s Mac & Cheese. Jay had their Pulled Pork and DJ had their jalapeno mac and cheese.

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I had a bite of this magic and goodness gracious- it was maybe some of the best macaroni I have ever tasted. My mouth is watering looking at this picture again!

img_4596Time for one of the biggest HIGHLIGHTS of the weekend!!!

After we came back, we had a couple hours before we had dinner (yes, dinner, yet another meal so soon) planned with Jay and his girlfriend. On a total whim, I messaged Rossy from ayrgalaxy to see if she was maybe able to meet up. She was able to stop by with her husband Alex and her adorable, seriously cutest little man in the world, Ciel, to visit for a few minutes.

Y’all. Ok, where to begin? Rossy is the kindest, most down to earth, and beautiful person! Seriously- I know this will be hard to believe, but she is even more gorgeous in person! DJ and I had such a blast talking with her and Alex. They both are just the easiest people to talk to. Oh, and Ciel is just the most precious, gooodnesss gracious! Seeing Rossy interact with him and hold him gave me baby fever- she is such a good momma. I was so thankful they took the time out of their day (and go so out of their way) to stop by, it was the sweetest and seriously made the weekend.

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When walking with DJ to dinner after I kept saying, “Ugh! I wish we all lived closer so we could hangout more!”. But I am brainwashing them to visit SF for a double date, soooo stay tuned.

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We arrived at Masu sushi on foot after about only 10 minutes.

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Best. Sushi. Of. Our. Lives.

This is a must try if you go to Portland. Everything from the PERFECT ambiance, to the presentation of the food, to the TASTE (the most important).

Of course, I will simply adamantly suggest what to order so you have the most wonderful experience.

First, they bring you out complimentary edamame, sooooo yum!

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You have to start with the calamari. We savored every bit of the calamari. It isn’t the traditional fried calamari, but rather lightly breaded, but the calamari pieces are thick rather than stringy. The calamari was so juicy and without all the fried breading the flavor made quite the statement.

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Next, the Pearl with shrimp tempura, avocado, and crab topped with spicy tuna and sweet chili sauce is up. We also had a couple pieces of Kani Dungess crab to share.

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Next up was the Japanista– spicy crab, spicy tuna and kawaire with seared hamachi, cilantro and red jalapeno on top served with our hana and sweet chili sauce. YUM.

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And the best of all- St. Helen’s Volcano– whitefish, crab, scallops, shrimp and avocado baked with our volcano cream sauce, eel sauce and smoked bonito. It was flame. Literally.

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Jay, DJ, and I had been talking earlier that day about how we’d never been to Melting Pot. Jay surprised us by taking us here for dessert.

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The guys split a dish, and the gals split a dish. Y’all. How have I never had this magic before?!? My sweet tooth was terribly satisfied, and yet- I felt like I could have polished off a whole other plate. It was too dang good- the oreo crusted marshmallow and the brownies were my favorite.

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We parted ways with Jay and Carly (Jay’s girlfriend) after, excited to meet up again the next day. DJ and I headed to Departure, one of the restaurants in our hotel. We soaked up the views and just enjoyed one another’s company for a few minutes. It actually reminded us quite a bit of San Diego. We didn’t last long after getting up so early, so we headed to sleep fairly quickly.

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This was an unforgettable day. All the fun with great friends and great food- two of lives true treasures. Believe it or not there will be a part Three… one day probably next week, Haha. Y’all know I suck at blogging in a timely manner. Too late for new years resolutions (maybe I’ll just call it an early resolution and say I’m ahead of the game 😉 )?

Also- if you’ve ever been to Portland I’d love to hear your suggestions, favorite memories, anything at all!

xo <3

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