Easter Sunday on a Cruise!

OKAYYY, being super honest off the bat, I had a really hard time uploading these pictures because they make me want to go back SO BADLY. I guess that’s a good thing though, right? Always better to leave a vacay wanting more! (that’s what my momma always says!)

After our amazing time in NOLA, we headed to the ship around 2:00 pm in the afternoon on March 31st. Luckily, our Lyft driver came with a mini van that had the ability to tote all our overpacked typical how do I pack my whole life in a suitcase luggage to Port. Speaking of the port, when looking at where to go on maps, Rach asked me if we were disembarking from “Port of Call”. I recognized the name, and said, “Yep, absolutely that’s it!” with the utmost confidence. Our sweet Lyft driver, mother of five with a thick southern accent, kept saying, “You sure y’all want to go to Port of Call with all that luggage?! It’s a pretty tiny place!”. We were so confused until she halted the mini van in front of a burger joint called Port of Call with no body of water (or cruise ship) in sight… Uhhh whoops! The reason I recognized Port of Call was because I had seen it on lists of restaurants when I’d done research! After we all came to the epiphany that that burger joint was not in fact our cruise ship and had a good laugh, we headed to the REAL port!

And we made it!!!

img_2202img_2205img_2406

The port didn’t provide the most gorgeous views around, but we knew soon the swampy bayou water was soon going to turn into a sparkling blue!

img_2204

And here is the famous Natchez boat out & about, New Orlean’s only steamboat!

img_2420

We boarded the Carnival cruise, Triumph. Carnival cruises are known as more low budget cruises, but I have always LOVED them. Sure, you face long buffet lines, rowdy crowds and youngin’s, annnnnd may have to fight tooth and nail for a beach lounge chair- but for the price the food is pretty darn good (and unlimited, hellllo!), the shows are magnificent, the people and staff are friendly, fascinating, and non-pretentious, and it truly is FUN. I’m a big advocate of Carnival, especially for younger crowds and people with kids!

img_2206

We made it to our room!!!

img_2200

We loved our room. It was more spacious than we expected and had a window facing the water. It only cost about $100 more to get an outward facing room rather than interior, and totally worth it. The views, especially at night of the water and the moon, were beautiful! (Also it helps with any disorientation and claustrophobia).

img_2201img_2404

We unpacked a bit and Rachel’s momma snuck in THE SWEETEST little Easter basket for us in Rach’s luggage. It was soooo thoughtful & special. Even though we would be spending Easter on the cruise ship, this definitely helped us get into the Easter spirit!

img_2213img_2211

She even included dark chocolate because she knows it’s my faveee. This was some of the best dark chocolate I have EVER had (actually probably THE best). Malley’s chocolate for the win. I literally carried it around in my purse with me the whole cruise so I always had my chocolate on me 😉 It didn’t last long as you can imagine!

Rach quickly opened the Peeps because she likes them stale, lol.. I have yet to try a truly stale one, but I could see it?! Side note- My Greek teacher in high school invented something called “Peeps wrapped in a blanket”… peeps wrapped in bacon. It’s actually a thing on urban dictionary , haha. Anyone have a Peeps preference?!

img_2210

We finished exploring our Cruise Ship, which for food had a Guy’s burger joint (with all the burgers & fries your heart desires), a seafood shack, blue iguana cantina, the lido restaurant, and 24-7 pizza pirate & ice cream/frozen yogurt.

img_2431img_2208

I adore this picture ❤

img_2207

The ship was stunning with an endless array of activities, particularly on the Promenade and Lido deck.

img_2421img_2409img_2215

We headed down to the first show (they usually took place around 7 and again at 9).

facetune_11-04-2018-22-15-16

We had the late dinner time at 8:15 pm, so we always went to the early show. I don’t have any pictures from the nightly shows because photography isn’t allowed- but they were one of my favorite parts of the cruise. The talent was just phenomenal. I have much more of an appreciation for the shows now that I’m older.

After the show every evening we headed to dinner. This is my favorite part of cruises. I LIVE for the evening dining room dinner. The tables were decorated elegantly.

img_2432

We were seated with four other girls that were our age. Sometimes you are seated with other people for the fine dining meal, but we weren’t upset about it. The conversation flowed well, and we enjoyed their company! And just to clarify for those that haven’t been on cruises, you can literally order anything on the menu, and as much as you’d like (minus a small section where you can pay $20 upcharge for lobster tail). I mean can you think of anything better than that?! Some of the dishes weren’t great, but others blew our flip-flops off.

I won’t include pictures of EVERYTHING we ate on the cruise, because that may be obnoxious… but I will certainly highlight our favorites!!!

I had the “Port Featured item” which was a cajun salmon. It was FANTASTIC!

img_2410-1

For dessert I had a tiramisu dish, which I loved. We always called dessert time SUGAR TIME!!!!! (this originated on cruises with my mom & sister- making me very nostalgic for them at many points during the cruise).

img_2217

Another part of cruises Rach and I both love are the comedy acts. They have a mix of family friendly and then some with more adult content.

img_2219

We always sat near the front for the comedy acts (go big or go home, yo), and for the first one we went to we were picked on quite brutally by the comedian. We took it like champs though and weren’t actually offended. After, we decided to grab a picture with him, and as Rach crutched up to him, he put his hands in his face and felt horrible realizing he had thrown jabs at the girl with crutches without knowing it. Lol!

img_2222

We were greeted by a cute little elephant when we got back to the room 🙂

img_2218

We snoozed hard that evening. In the morning of April 1st, I hit the gym and read on the treadmill which became routine for the rest of the trip.

img_2433

I LOVED the book I took to read on the cruise (highly recommend). When I vacation I like to read mystery/crime/thriller novels. Girl on the Train is the epitome of the type, which I read on our honeymoon. It definitely set the precedent. This time around I read Don’t Try to Find Me by Holly Brown. I still have a tiny bit left to read, but I’m savoring every page. It’s a pretty great mindless read. I also brought along The Book Thief in the flesh (or in the actual 3-dimensional book form) for when my Ipad was dying (I’m AWFUL about charging my electronics).

After we headed to one of our favorite memories from the cruise- The Easter Seaday Brunch (they know the way to my heart with that pun)! Rachel got us the CUTEST bunny ears to wear for the day. We put them on and headed to one of our favorite meals, and memories, of the trip.

Once again, you can order anything on the menu, as much as you’d like!

img_2279

And somebunny was veryy hungry!!!

I tried the salmon benedict & the Frosted Flakes french toast.

SO . DANG. DELICIOUS.

img_2422

I literally could eat this meal, including the french toast, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner forever and ever. This was some of the best & tastiest french toast I’ve tasted. It was the french toast of my dreams. Just take two of the best breakfast foods & mash um’ together! Any other frosted flakes junkies up in here?!

img_2423

Rach loved their steak & eggs..!

img_2424img_2425img_1883

We laid in the sun for a bit while reading our books, and then I heard over the speaker that they were having an Easter Sunday Service on board at 3 pm. I decided to go with no clue of what it would be like. Y’all it was soooo awesome, truly a memory I will never forget! I didn’t think it would feel like Easter at all, but between the sweet Easter basket, the Easter brunch, and the Sunday service it truly was one of my favorite Easter’s of all time. I was shocked how packed out the service was, there was hardly a seat open in the whole room.

img_2291

They played some worship music and then opened up the floor for anyone to share any special testimonies, praises, or prayer requests. I was surprised how many people were willing to share. One testimony someone shared included an anecdote about a woman from their home church who was told she would never be able to have a baby, ever since she was 18 years old. Now currently in her 30s, she and her husband decided to adopt a baby. After going through the whole adoption process, the little baby was taken away and given back to his biological parents. However, at the exact same time of this devastating loss of the adopted baby, she found out she was pregnant! God is so gooood.

I was in tears by the end of it because the things people shared were moving, powerful, and awesome. Then we all sang Amazing Grace together. It truly was a special reminder that Church can truly take place anywhere, it’s all about the people worshipping the same God- not the place.

Easter evening the cruise hosted formal night, wooohoo!We glammed on up, took our fair share of pics, then headed to the evening show.

img_2292img_2297img_2301img_2302img_2299

Everyone thought we were sisters, I mean we basically are ❤ Was not mad about the assumptions!

img_2293img_2294img_2306img_2308-1

Like I said, our fair share of pictures!

img_2311-1

After the show we salivated toward the dining room. Yum yum yum!

img_2310-1

That night we had some savory scallops (that I gobbled up before getting a good picture, whoooopsie), oven baked Japanese sea bass, and baked stuffed mushrooms. Mmmmm Mmmmmm mmm!

img_2430img_2312

This was much longer than expected, so next post I’ll recap our Cozumel excursion! 🙂

xo ❤

mack marie signature

New Orleans, LA!

Hey Friends & Fam! How is everyone doing?! I am psyched about this post. Just writing the name of this travel location makes me giddy- New Orleans has been on my bucket list for ages, and to have actually step foot there is still hard for me to believe!

Lemme back up in how this all happened… One of my best friends back in Ohio, Rachel, and I planned a pretty spontaneous cruise to Mexico. You may remember Rach from here or here!

This all came about when I decided to try to use some vacation time since I have hit my one year mark (we are allotted one vacation per year). DJ won’t be able to do a full vacation until probably this winter, so I figured even if I didn’t do anything or go anywhere I could at least have two weeks without work, right?! Well when I told Rach my dates, she coincidentally had this time off too as her last week of recovery from a knee surgery. It could not have worked out more perfectly! Even though Rach was still on her crutches she was a TROOPER. She did not miss a beat, and didn’t let them stop her. We agreed it would be nothing but reading in the sun and relaxation (I mean you’re either healing up at home or lounging on a boat- so why not choose the one with more sun?!).

DJ had to work on Easter & this is a super busy time of year for him, so he encouraged me to go and soak up this time. (No worries, I ordered him Freshly so he didn’t starve 😉 ).

Anyways, we decided on a Carnival cruise that went out of New Orleans on Saturday the 31st of March!

We planned & planned, packed & packed, and then met early on March 30th in in NOLA to get the vacay started! That morning, I woke up at about 3:45 riddled with adrenaline and couldn’t fall back asleep before my 8:45 am flight. I decided to go for a run. Once at the airport I grabbed Peet’s (duuuuuh) and ate a protein bar while I waited.

img_2088

Time for the flight! I binge listened to the podcast “Unexplained” while I dozed on and off.

img_2090

And before I knew it I had arrived in NOLA! My Lyft driver from the airport was sweet and knowledgeable. I noticed that everyone was authentically kind & helpful. It appears Southern Hospitality is still going strong! She drove me past a couple old cemeteries (their mausoleums are HUGE) and through the French Quarters as I snapped shots along the way.

img_2093img_2092img_2094

When I walked into The Sheraton on Canal Street (where we were staying that evening) I was greeted by lively music in the lobby & people bustling around in the most cheerful manner. It felt as though I had stepped right into a party. I grabbed some of the complimentary cucumber water and waited to check into my room. Once taking the old fashioned elevators up to the twelfth floor, I was finally in a NOLA hotel room. I had to pinch myself. I am in New Orleans. For years I have wanted to go to New Orleans for the culture, history, boss beignets and shrimp & grits. I couldn’t believe I was actually there.

I looked down after opening the shutter windows to a view that was both fantastic, although could probably  be terrifying for someone afraid of heights (hence the shutters). I highly recommend staying in this hotel. We were able to get a night stay for a reasonable price and it’s conveniently located to everything you could want to see in New Orleans!

img_2095img_2096

I changed out of my grubby travel wear & freshened up after the long flight. Time to Explore! (Rach’s flight still wouldn’t touch down for a bit).

I decided to make the first stop Garden District!

img_2140

I adored the local architecture with balconies lining the alternately pastel pigmented shops and homes.

img_2141img_2142These houses! I just love the wrought iron and hanging baskets at every turn.

img_2152

I perused the shops on Magazine street. I was fascinated by the mix of mysticism, antique shops, and enticing bakeries that lined the way.

img_2145img_2146img_2144img_2147img_2148img_2150

NOLA, you are bizarre, I’ve gotta say! But a fun bizarre…..and I guess at times just a bizarre bizarre! 😉img_2149

Around 7:00 pm, Rach texted me saying she was at the hotel! It was perfect timing. Since it was getting dark I didn’t want to spend much more time alone in the Garden District. I went back to the hotel and wanted to cry when I actually saw Rach standing there in front of me! It had been 18 months since I’ve been with my best friend y’all. TOOOO LOOONG.

We got ready & organized our room while having totally non-linear conversations (because after a day of travel you have stories to share about the characters you met along the way and also have been storing up “oh I need to tell her when I see her” stories).

We then hit the town! We stepped out greeted by a beautiful sunset.

img_2153

We walked around the French Quarter, taking in wafting scents of cooking Creole cuisine, the fascinating people & costumes, a sundry of shops (including Halloween shops in March- what… well I guess explains the costumes?!).

Of course, we had to see the famed St. Louis Cathedral. It was interesting… there were religious groups preaching next to psychics with their crystal balls adjacent to street performers. Probably more entertainment right here than anywhere in the quarter!

img_2154

We kept walking on to Bourbon street! It wasn’t as rowdy as I expected, but it was certainly crowded. I was somewhat concerned about safety after doing a ton of research. We were extra cautious, but overall, I felt extremely safe in the main high traffic areas. The Uber driver back from the Garden District drilled into us not to go into any weird side alleys or anything that looked remotely sketchy.

img_2155

Do Pirates count as sketchy?

img_2156

We jumped into a Lyft to go to Arnaud’s!

img_2157

This restaurant was promised to be one of the most authentic New Orleans restaurants.

img_2158img_2159img_2169

I stepped in and immediately thought, Yep, this is the Big Easy!. The red and white stripes, jazz band playing the background, and elegant old fashioned decor met every NOLA expectation.

img_2160img_2161img_2162

Arnaud’s has a deep history like everything in the city. We loved the ambiance, the friendliness of everyone, and the live band made us relaxed and at ease immediately.

img_2163img_2164

I started with a dirty martini that seemed to fit the scene. It was one of the best I’ve had- not too strong and not too salty!

img_2166

Rach tried one of their specialty drinks- The Contessa! It was sooo goood!

img_2165

So, debate here- is turtle part of a pescatarian diet? I don’t know! Haha, but I had to try the turtle soup which is a staple of New Orleans cuisine. It was just okay to me, but if you are a chili lover & a meat eater, you would love it… even though this photo probably does the opposite of making it look appetizing, ha!

img_2167

Since Rachel arrived I hadn’t stopped talking about shrimp & grits (particularly the dish I had seen at Pat O Brien’s, our next stop). We decided to go light here for dinner so Rach and I split the amazing pompano duarte with sauteed fillet topped with gulf shrimp & tomatoes, seasoned with garlic, fresh herbs & chili peppers. Yum! It was delish- but I will say, my baby SF does have some fish dishes that could rival this.

img_2168

We then we weaved through the quarters to the next spot- Pat O Brien’s!—recommended by Rachel’s cousin. My grandma also said this is one of her favorite places in New Orleans to go, especially around St. Paddy’s day.

img_2171

The courtyard is the prototypical scene for some R & R on a Friday night in NOLA. There were laid back tunes playing and multi colored lights exuding festive vibes. They immediately welcome each guest with Pat O’s mardi gras beads- the only mardi gras beads either of us would be heading home with,  lol!

img_2170

We were told we had to try their Hurricanes, considered one of the staple drinks in the quarters. I had looked up Pat O’s before hand, so I knew they were massive! I told Rach there was no way I was able to even finish half of one and asked if she wanted to split. She said, “It’s one drink, how big can they be?!!”. We both ordered one and as they set them down she looked at me with the widest eyes. Needless to say, we barely put a dent in them, but the few sips we had were delicious!

img_2173

And *cue dramatic music*…. the ultimate reason I wanted to go to Pat O’s….. their shrimp and grits!!!!

img_2115

It lived up to the hype and the weeks of yearning for the ultimate shrimp & grits experience. Ugh, I can nearly taste them looking back at this picture. If I had to make a suggestion- I would say skip the fine dining and just go straight to Pat O’s.

img_2176img_2172

We jumped into a little unassuming place next to Pat O’s playing some good ole’ upbeat 90s tunes. We danced for a bit before heading back to the hotel!

We went to bed at a decent hour to get sleep for the next day. The morning of March 31st I woke up bright and early and hit the gym. I considered running outside, but since I’m not always positive where to run and which roads are safe, I just played it safe and ran in the Sheraton gym. I squeezed in about 8 miles, then was ready for some breakfast!

img_2185

I decided to walk to the Riverwalk on the GORGEOUS morning and grab some beignets and coffee from Cafe Du Monde for me & Rach (they are famous for their beignets!).

img_2177img_2178img_2179

I even spotted our Cruise Ship on the way!!

img_2175img_2180

 

 

 

img_2182img_2181img_2184img_2183img_2105img_2106

We weren’t the biggest fans of them, sadly… I think the ones I had in Fort Worth were better. They are basically like donuts in flavor and have soft interior/crispier exteriors. I will say their coffee was PHENOMENAL. I would easily go there every day just for a cup of jo’.

After getting ready for the day, we decided to grab some grub at their famous Brunch spot, Atchafalaya! We weren’t able to make reservations, but the wait wasn’t as bad as we expected- only about 45 minutes!

img_2248img_2188img_2192

Atchafalaya is in the Garden District, so we were able to see cute little homes while we waited.

img_2189img_2226img_2225I just adore her yellow hat, can you picture any better outfit for brunching on a Saturday in the South?!

They have a fun little frying pan you can actually sit in too, how creative!

img_2191img_2187

One of their reasons their brunch is so popular is their epic make your own Bloody Mary bar. I have never made my own bloody, so Rachel helped me big time. I accidentally poured the tabasco instead of letting drips in, so it was spicy spicy, but in my opinion, the spicier the better!

img_2193img_2195img_2109

Rach had their refreshing grapefruit mimosa!

img_2108img_2194

We weren’t starving, and had no place to store leftovers, so we decided to go pretty easy on brunch. Rach tried their AWESOME potatoes and fruit, and I had their butternut squash salad with a side of poached eggs. It all hit the spot and dat cheese (triple cream) was some of the greatest cheese I have ever tried!!! It was tremendous.

img_2196img_2197img_2198img_2199

The rest of the trip may require about three more posts. Next time we go to NOLA, we’d like to do a cemetery tour & see Frenchmen street. If you are planning a trip, we were told NOW is the time to go. The weather was just perfect, and it doesn’t have the crazy traffic of their holidays seasons. Have you ever been to New Orleans?! Have any favorite restaurants/spots/memories to share? Stay tuned for some cruisin’, sunshine, & Cozumel!

xo ❤

mack marie signature.png

15 Things I Wish I Knew as a New Grad Nurse

One year ago, I began as a baby nurse, every fiber of my being laden with trepidation and excitement. I pulled up my compression socks, laced up my promisingly supportive Brooke’s ghost shoes and stepped foot into the hardest year of my life. I didn’t think anything could be more challenging than nursing school, and I was in for a rude awakening. Everyone says the first year of nursing is the most challenging, but it’s hard to grasp until you are in the throws of the anxiety, incompetence, and fear that plague your every day. There are a few things I wish I had known or someone had told me before I began this year, and maybe, just maybe, this can help some new grad nurse out there on this emotional, wild, and spectacular rollercoaster.

  1. You will make mistakes. For some reason, I didn’t realize that as a new grad nurse, you make mistakes. No one ever said point-blank, buckle up, you’re gonna screw up…. a lot. Maybe people don’t talk about it because we have people’s lives in our hands, and we should strive for perfection. This is true, but I think it would have saved me much of the intense self- badgering if I realized mistakes were inevitable. Don’t get me wrong– always triple check your meds, doctors orders, operate in professionalism, always do your absolute best….. but every little mistake from having an overdue med due to mismanaged time (IT WILL HAPPEN) to forgetting to unclamp your piggyback antibiotic (everyone has done it) to not charting something correctly is an opportunity. Never try to cover it up, make sure your patient is safe first and foremost, and then… learn. Trust me.. you won’t make that mistake again. Do not beat yourself up. Repeat after me… Mistakes= Lessons, Lessons= Growth. You need the mistakes to grow, and each mistake is molding you into a strong, robust, competent nurse. The mistakes will become fewer and farther between, but they never will entirely cease. Neither will the lessons, and neither will the growth.
  2. You will experience a new level of anxiety, but it will get better. Every single day I stepped onto the floor, the anxiety overwhelmed me in a way I have never experienced before; it plagued the crevices of my mind and soul. I felt like I was operating in flight and fight at work AND at home. I couldn’t separate the two, and would often wake up in hot sweats- “Did I return that med?! Did I chart that?! Oh shoot, I forgot to get that patient ice chips!”… I had literal breaks with reality. One time I woke in the middle of the night panicked because I thought I had forgotten to give my husband insulin (he’s not diabetic). But somewhere along the line, I was able to turn the “work” brain off. It took a long time, but now a year later even though I still think about my shifts, it doesn’t carry the same anxiety provoking reflection it did at the beginning. I still shed plenty of tears for my patients on the way home or the next day after a hard stretch of days, but it’s out of mourning for and with them… not from anxiety.
  3. Those impossible skills…. become possible. One of the most frustrating parts of being is a new grad is the lack of agility and the constipated pace of your skills. Tasks that are super “easy” to most seasoned nurses still scare the code brown out of us. Even priming IV tubing seemed like a formidable obstacle when I began (air- in-line alerts sent me straight into cardiac arrest). By the end of the year you will be taking out central lines, hanging blood, straight cathing, and working with PEGs/trachs like it ain’t no thang. Hands on skills were my weakness, I didn’t think I’d ever get the hang of it. But somewhere along the way, I did. And trust me, if I can do it, you can do it.
  4. 12 hour shifts are long, but nursing is a 24-7 job. One thing that I didn’t quite get when I began is nursing is a 24-7 job. Yes, in those 12 hours that belong to you, the weight of people’s lives are in your hands. But always remember— it’s a 24-7 job. Do your best not to pass on any tasks, make sure you give all your shift meds, but if you don’t get around to changing the now expired IV tubing because your patient was physiologically unhinged and you were keeping them from grave, it’s ok. I used to think I literally would get fired if every single little protocol ridden task was not completed. Some days, all you can do it keep someone alive. It’s a 24-7 job. Just remember that.
  5. Yes, you can do another day. Countless times I thought to myself, I don’t know how I can do another day of this. Sometimes we have such a bad first shift in a stretch of three, and we don’t know how we can physically or emotionally handle the next two. But you do. You just do. After enough times of thinking this, and enough times of doing that “next” shift, you start to know that you can, in fact, do another day.
  6. Listen to your patients! Sometimes symptoms are not textbook clear. If a patient says they feel “off”, listen to them, closely. What is off? When did it start? Listen to their concerns, even if they seem unwarranted, because often times they are not. There are clues in conversation, history, and in chats with family that may not show up in vital signs.
  7. Patients listen to you, closely. Patients will ask you so. many. questions. Sure, you may know some, but there are plenty you will have no clue. Do not be afraid to say, “I don’t know, but let me find out!” or direct the question to the proper team. Something I have discovered is when you have those scrubs on, patients take you at your word. Even if you put a disclaimer- such as I’m not 100% sure- or, make sure that’s ok with your primary doctor, or “I think _____” but double check with your pharmacy….. they will only hear the answer part of your statement. Avoid saying those disclaimer statements, because as soon as it is out of your mouth, they will hear my nurse said ____ and take it as truth. It’s better to utilize your resources (call pharmacy, ask your charge, ask the MD) and give them the most informed answer possible.
  8. Listen to your gut. “What gut?” you may be thinking as you have only been a nurse for about a month. Ok, your gut will develop as time goes on (and I’m not just talking from break room potlucks and donuts). If you have that “bad” feeling… investigate why. There are so many times I wish I had just listened to my gut a bit more. Just last week I had a patient who I had a off feeling about. Nothing had changed in their baseline neuro exam or technically by physiological assessment. But I knew something wasn’t quite right. I told the MD, but he had no real basis to conduct any additional tests either. I told the next shift nurse about this feeling too… and the next day when I returned this man was in the ICU. Trust. your. gut.
  9. Nursing Assistants are vitally important. Y’all. I don’t think I understood just how important nursing assistants are before starting this gig. They are massively crucial to our success and the patients’ success. The nursing assistants on my floor are brilliant, many have been working for years and single-handedly keep me afloat some days. I learned (and continue to learn) a tremendous amount from them. Do not be afraid to ask them for their tips/tricks in patient care.
  10. “Thank you” goes a long way. This may seem elementary, but as a nurse, you begin to understand the weight and gravity of a thank you. Give thank-yous out like candy. They are free to give and priceless to receive. Thank your housekeeping staff, your charge nurse, your transporter, your nursing assistants, the previous nurse who tried her best to get loose ends tied up for you, doctor’s, PT/OT who helped your patient walk for the first time since surgery. We are a family in healthcare, and it’s so important to remind them they are all appreciated.
  11. Make recommendations, and happily accept constructive criticism in return. ISBAR- the “R” (for recommendation in communication) is especially hard for a new nurse, but do it anyways. You will get some MDs who will make you feel as if your idea is the worst possible idea they have ever heard. You will also have others who will kindly suggest an alternative. And EVEN some who will accept your recommendation. Regardless of the response, ask them to explain the reason behind the intervention/order/medication, and then thank them for taking the time to explain. It will go a long way in developing rapport among you and the provider.
  12. Go the extra mile. Cue the eye rolls from my nurses in the back. I get it, we already are given an impossible to-do list every day. There is no way to go the “extra mile”. Or is there? When I first began, I barely saw my patient. I only saw the to-do list. I barely had time to be with them, because I was just trying to get it all done. Yes, this is the way of nursing now it seems, but sometimes, just taking the tiny extra seconds to hold their hand and say, “How are you” at the beginning of a shift or offering an extra pillow can make all the difference. This one takes time to conquer, but you’ll get there. I am still learning how to do this, and it takes reminding myself daily to just look the patient in the eye and not just to examine their pupils.
  13. ASK ALL THE QUESTIONS. Not sure how I didn’t have this listed as number one… but ask every question. Do not assume ANYTHING. You will feel like you are grating the nerves of some other nurses, but you will learn who your best resources are. Remember, a little annoyance is nothing in comparison to someone’s life. Even the slightest bit of doubt, check it out!
  14. ‘You time’ is necessary time! “On the clock” for us is a fight of life vs. death. When you are off the clock embrace your life- do what you need to do to take care of you. Go for a walk outdoors, exercise, do yoga, pray, write a letter to your friend who lives far away, get a massage (get multiple massages), pedicures, go out for a nice dinner, nourish your body with healthy foods (and nourish your soul with dessert), travel, or do nothing at all. Find what helps you relax and disconnect. I didn’t want to be social at all for a good six months and found myself in a hole of isolation and depression. I didn’t think I had the energy to do anything. But once I started making plans, planning trips, etc. things started turning around quite a bit. Find what works for you!
  15. It’s worth it. Oh my sweet fellow baby nurse, you don’t know if you will survive, but you will. I know it’s hard to believe, but things will get better. People would say that, and I just didn’t believe them. Have faith. You are stronger than you think. This year, yes it is hard, it’s probably the hardest thing you have ever done, but it’s worth it. When you see your competence start blooming, so will your confidence. When a patient tells you that they will never forget you, it’s the most rewarding feeling in the world. Through this whole process you are impacting countless lives and countless lives will impact yours. Soon you will have forever-in-your-heart moments, unforgettable connections to patients, and “good” days under your belt, or stethoscope rather. Write them down and remember them. Because at the end of the long twelve hour shift day, there is no amount of fear, anxiety, or bad days that can overshadow the honor it is to save a life.

Go get em, Rockstar! You’ve got this!

Ohh, and never use the “Q” word. Never, ever, ever use the “Q” word.

Napa & Sonoma Part Two… & Graduation Day!

Annnnd here we are! Round two!!! Welcome welcome to perhaps one of my favorite recaps of all time. I am going to conclude our incredible time in wine country (if you missed part one, peep it here) then recap the rest of last week. I’ve just caught up with my favorite Peet’s barista while holding up the line (apologies to my fellow coffee addicts), have a cup in hand, and am situated in my favorite spot looking out the rain sprinkled window for the next couple hours. I don’t have any studying, applications, projects, or any other big “must dos” on my to-do list for the first time in years. I feel like I am breathing, really truly breathing. And this oxygen is quite nice. Inhale, exhale, sip some cafe au lait, repeat. Join me?

After we finished up at the brilliant Castle, we headed over to Frog’s Leap winery. I would say if you only have limited time in Wine Country Rambauer and Frog’s leap are the two I would recommend. Also, Kalpana, a friend that lives in Los Gatos, shared some amazing tips as well in the comments of the last post, so definitely take time to read those over too if you are looking for suggestions!

img_0490

Frog’s Leap is what I would equivocate to heaven on Earth. It is a floral oasis with winding gardens in the middle of a quiet cozy valley. Reflecting on it almost feels like a dream, the warmth of the sun and the wine as we walked around the Switzerland remnant abode nearly left me half expecting Julie Andrews to start serenading the visitors with Sound of Music.

img_0491img_0502-1img_0493img_0494img_0492img_0495img_0496img_0419

Halfway through our exploration of the majestic vineyard, I remember telling my mom no amount of pictures could do this place justice. And now I will say it again! Darn, guess you’ll just have to visit it yourself!

img_0497img_0689

Maybe I should put those sunglasses to use? Just an idea?

img_0499img_0500img_0503-1

We reluctantly left this ethereal destination only to follow a path just as beautiful onto our next destination. At one point we had to stop just to take in the most stunning natural spring of flowers we have ever seen!

img_0506-1img_0226

Adoring God’s creation can really work up an appetite. We headed to Mustards Grill upon my Uncle Pat’s recommendation. Good thing I just had a snack because even looking at these pictures my stomach is growling again! O my lanta, if you need a place to eat in Wine Country, I’ll tell ya, your decision is made- GO here!

img_0504-1img_0505-1

We started with the BEST calamari dish ever… crispy calamari with curried slaw and fresno chili. Yumayumayummm.

img_0507-1

Deej had their half Pound niman Ranch Hamburger or Cheeseburger, house-made pickles, french fries. I love how everything has a little touch of Mustard too on their dishes.

img_0508-1

My mom and I of course split their special Halibut. And we also split a glass of their recommended pinot grigio for the halibut. I am not even kidding, this halibut was some of the best of all time. And for it being split, they gave us such a generous serving. We didn’t leave one nibble to be consumed. It was tremendous. It was so good that momma Jill decided to purchase a cookbook to take home. Her and Pete like to collect books from places as souvenirs. Such a fun idea!

img_0509-1

We then headed to our last stop for the day- Domaine Carneros.

img_0510-1img_0511-1

This chateau is the oldest sparkling wine house in all of Napa.

img_0512-1

It’s pristine winding staircases leading up to a mammoth mansion overlooking the miles of vineyards, mountains, and rolling hills was a picturesque site to behold..

img_0516img_0517img_0513-1img_0514img_0515

We tried their sampler of sparkling wines with some roasted almonds. Once again, hate to be the bearer of bad bubbly, but we all agreed we preferred our Almond sparkling wine from Trader Joe’s.. Maybe we just didn’t try the right ones?! Certainly worth the experience though!

DJ had to head back that evening to work the next day, but my mom, Pete, and I watched Fixer Upper and ate our leftover desserts. Pete was feeling much better by this point!

That evening my mom handed me a big thick envelope. I had no idea what it could be. Inside were pages on pages of prayers she has wrote out for me through this year . I have cried reading her cards in the past, but this just pulled the heart strings next level. This was one of the most special gifts I have ever, EVER received. I still haven’t finished them all yet, it may take a while, but I cry every single time I read one. She has always set such a great example for us of what it looks like to be in true relationship with Christ and how prayer is not just about requests or bringing struggles, it’s about the conversation. The prayers are so real, honest, and raw. I truly believe the only reason I made it through this year was because of her and others’ prayers. I did not make it through on my own strength, there is no way. Thank you again, Mom<3

In the morning of Monday the 12th, I headed back a bit before my mom and Pete did to get my speech finished up for the next day, to run a couple errands, and do a quick couple loads of laundry. I was just following my GPS and lo’ and behold, stumbled right on through the Golden Gate. Don’t you love it when that happens?

img_0518

In the evening, we all met at Willard Hicks in Campbell. DJ and I have wanted to try this place out for a while, but it’s near impossible to get a reservations.

Time to put this place to the test! DJ’s mom, Laura, who hasn’t been here in a YEAR (you may remember this epic weekend), was able to come for graduation! It meant the world that she wanted to come in the first place. She has been one of my main shoulders to lean on and always an ear to listen through this wild ride of a year ❤

img_0519

So with the WH— LOVED the ambiance. I was expecting a pretty fancy steakhouse, based on the menu and wait, but it had a more casual sports bar feel, yet with a touch of pizzazz.

img_0532

We started with the exquisitely exotic willard hick’s baked brie. It came with phyllo wrapped baked brie with roasted veggies, whole roasted garlic (like still in the bulbs), dried fruit, chutney, and crostini. I probably do not need to even rave about how fantastic this was.

img_0527

We also had to try their iron skillet poblano cornbread. This may have been my favorite part of the whole meal. The sweet creamed corn was perfectly moist (sorry moist haters). We savored every single nibble.

img_0521

For entrees (everyone in my family is a saint for letting me be “That” person snapping pictures of their food)… anyway, Pete tried their awesome short ribs!

img_0528

Of course, my mom and I split the scallops with some of the most delectable mushroom risotto to ever grace our taste buds. The scallops were cooked to savory perfection and the small little critters carried the most divine flavor!

img_0526

Both DJ and my mom in law had the swordfish. Of course I snuck a nibble- it was mmm mmm mmm good!

img_0522

Sides- Butternut squash, Horseradish mashed potatoes, & Brussels. Can’t go wrong with those!

img_0523img_0524img_0529img_0530img_0531

I love these people more than words can say!

img_0288

The next day, March 13th, was graduation time!!!! I have yet to do a one year reflection post, and I will save most of my thoughts for that. But this was a HUGE day. HUGE. I honestly didn’t think I would make it to this point. I presented my research project that I have poured endless hours into, gave my speech (which went very well- thank you for your prayers & encouragement about that!), and lastly was given a certificate that I prize more than my high school or college diploma. This certificate states that I completed the Residency program, but to me, it symbolizes surviving the hardest year of my life.

img_0733img_0734

Also, I am so excited to share I was nominated Employee of the Month! When I saw the announcement in a staff e-mail I thought it was a mistake, or that there was perhaps another Mackenzie on our unit I was unaware of. Surely, it couldn’t be me?! This warmed my heart more than I can express. I feel like I fail and am incompetent on a daily basis, but it was beyond affirming that others think otherwise. I do not at all feel deserving, but it just motivates me to live up to the honor! Within a couple weeks I was accepted into my first choice for grad school, graduated from my residency program, had the most tremendous memories with my family, and then this?! Too much to handle. God is good and He is faithful. I was able to show my family the unit I work on, and of course my mom whipped out her phone for the picture below as I started blushing and quickly walking away. lol. It was great to finally show them where I work though after endless  conversations over this past year about it all!

img_0696

To celebrate, I was having a hankering for True Food kitchen which is nearby the hospital. Subconsciously, I think there is a reason I was craving this. After I took my NCLEX nearly a year and a half ago, DJ and I celebrated by going to True Food. I think it has officially become the place to go after super high stress events?!?

img_0533-1img_0543-1img_0537-1img_0538-1

I love that all the food is organic and wholesome, but it’s also annoyingly delicious (annoying meaning I crave it allll the time, but can’t get it enough to satisfy my craving).  Anyone else get that? All the girls tried the thai grapefruit martini… absolutely refreshing and not too terribly sweet.  Pete had their bloody! Can’t go wrong with a good bloody.

img_0535-1img_0536-1

Meals! Boy, can we eat. Us girls tried variations of their ancient grains bowl, which is my favorite thing I have had here yet (although their fall butternut squash and ricotta pizza is pretty flame- wood fired to be exact). This included miso glazed sweet potato, turmeric, charred onion, snow peas, grilled portobello, avocado, and hemp seed. Definitely something that could be recreated (although I probably could never make it taste quite as yummy). You can add shrimp, tofu, chicken, or steak too!

img_0540-1img_0539-1

DJ had their TLT again (tempeh, lettuce, and tomato). SO GOOD. You would never know the bacon wasn’t bacon.

img_0542-1

Pete had their spicy panang curry with organic potato, long bean, bok choy, carrot, thai basil, and coconut shrimp broth with chicken! I’m telling ya, their menu is super diverse- something for everyone!

img_0541-1

After the amazing lunch, DJ had to go to work, and Pete decided to take a little nap back at home. However, the ladies of the group were not about to turn down a stroll through a mall. We waltzed and frolicked (inside blog joke, anyone?) through the mall. It was a blast. Even the next day we were talking about how much fun it was to just peruse the mall together.

img_0546-1img_0547-1img_0545-1img_0544-1

Last, I just want to share something pretty special. When we were at Casillo Di Amorosa, my mom suggested we both get bracelets as a sweet way to remember our trip. We both picked out our own special color, and usually I would go for a neutral tone, but I couldn’t get over how pretty the periwinkle-like purple was. A couple days later I opened up a gift from my mother-in-law. I was blown away by the thoughtfulness of the gifts (I’m saving a couple for a Friday Faves), but I want to share one. This gorgeous necklace is Amethyst. She explained the amethyst represents healing powers and that this is what I give my patients. I cried when I read this. So beyond thoughtful, and something I will forever treasure ❤

I also realized both the Castillo di Amorosa stone matched the amethyst and loved how well the two go together. Wearing this jewelry will always remind me of the strong, prayer warrior women that have been my rocks to stand on, my source of wisdom, and my encouragers.

img_0735img_0736

I have never been so emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted as I have been this past year. And yet, in this moment I have never been so utterly fulfilled. Thank you for coming on this journey with us. Love to you all.

xo ❤

signature-1

Napa & Sonoma Part One …. And Some Big News (finally!) :)

Hello, All!!! Wow, so much has happened in just a couple weeks… I’m not sure even where to begin!!! I am coming off working nearly every darn day this past week and weekend, so bear with me as I type as a victim of far too much caffeine consumption on this lazy afternoon. It took exactly three cups of coffee to nurse that nursing hangover (which is such a thing, I promise).

I have debated whether to share my final grad school decision in this post or in the next one. Let’s be real, I don’t have that type of patience to wait….. so I’ll just share right here, right now… You know that last school I was waiting to here from?! Well verdict is in….I WAS ACCEPTED! I was accepted into my #1 choice program for MSN- Duke School of Nursing! My DNP portion (Doctorate of Nursing Practice) is still under review, but that affects me more in a couple years (from MSN into DNP).

What does this mean?! 

Well, DJ and I will be staying in California! I am so relieved because neither of us felt like it was quite time to fly the Cali coop just yet. He is loving his job more and more by day, and I’ve grown pretty attached to our new lives we have built. We know it’s not forever, but it just feels so premature to leave now- DJ’s sister JUST moved out here, we love our Church, and….. Peet’s. I mean Peet’s… come n’ now. How can I leave my love just yet? I have been having serious chats with God saying if we are supposed to stay please make this a possibility with Duke. Nashville was terribly tempting, but we always say, “Hey if we wanna move there one day, then we will make it happen!”. I’ll be doing their distance based program which means I will be flying to NC every now and again for on campus intensives, but my clinicals will be at a local hospital and classwork online.

I probably won’t make a formal announcement anywhere else until I officially send back the acceptance letter, but I couldn’t wait any longer to tell y’all. Thank you for allll your prayers, words of encouragement, and pep talks since OCTOBER. From the GRE to the exhaustive applications to the interviews, to the waiting, waiting, waiting… it’s meant so much that y’all have had my back.

Now, back to our main course. Sooo guess what? We did the whole “wine country” thing last weekend! I worked hard into Friday March 9th so that I could have the whole weekend off and Monday as well. On Saturday, the 10th, I poured an extra cup o jo’ and dodged off to Sonoma to meet my mom and stepdad, Pete, in the quaint area of Glen Ellen.

img_0406

They rented this SUPER adorable Air BnB for the weekend. We kept saying we could live there! If you want specifics on this place, I’d be happy to share with you…. highly recommend if you need somewhere to stay in Sonoma for a couple nights at an affordable price!

img_0667-1img_0666-1img_0669-1img_0668-1img_0409

We wasted not one beat and headed to our first stop (well my first stop- my Mom & Pete had a whole day of ‘splorin’ already under their belt). This gorgeous, serene place below is Ledson Winery.

img_0410

Downton Abbey vibes? Yeah, me too.

img_0411img_0412img_0413

I’m going to include quite a bit of detail about the wines for my own reference next time we go and for any other fellow oeniphiles (lovers of wine). If you don’t care, then just feel free to skip over all the wordiness 😆

We did a fantastic tasting and found our favorites from this winery included their Bordeaux blend (Good lawd, so tasty) & their steel barrel Chardonnay. I don’t like Chardonnay usually at all, but I relished in the flavor of the steel barrel one. It’s lighter on the tongue, more like a pinot grigio, and leaves out the oakiness. (bahahaha, like how I act like I know what I’m talking about from a couple days in wine country?! Feel free to correct my amateur knowledge). The Bordeaux wasn’t on the tasting list, but the very knowledgable and passionate sommelier gave us a sample off the menu. This sample translated into one of the greatest sips of wine we have ever tried. The flavor just lingered and lingered. Since at this point I know I am officially starting grad school this fall, I asked DJ if my reward for graduating grad school could be a bottle of Bordeaux. Only two years away, y’all! (Maybe 3.5 years if I get into the DNP program).

img_0414

The two cutest Texans in all of Wine Country!

img_0415We then zipped over to Jacuzzi winery, a famous stop in Sonoma with a cute gift-shop, oil tasting store, and winery all in one (AKA all you need… it’s like the 7-11 of all wineries… although I have a feeling they may feel offended by that comparison).

img_0416img_0420img_0422img_0423-1img_0424-1

Half way through the tasting, DJ waltzed through the door! (PS. when he reads this later he’s gonna say… “Why did you use the word waltz? I didn’t waltz!” Just like he doesn’t like when I use the word frolic for verbiage. LOL).  Thennnn he’s gonna say I always make him look like a grump in my blog posts… Babe, we all know you are the life of the party, okurrrrr?

He had to work Saturday, so we left at different times, but we were stoked he was able to join in!

Review of Jacuzzi- To be honest, none of their wines “wowed” us like Ledson’s did. Plus their server was a bit more aloof (we discovered the person serving can make or break the experience!). I think we had more fun trying out their oils than their wines.

Directly across the street from Jacuzzi winery is the famous Cline Family Cellars. It feels as though you step onto the grounds of Charleston. Sheep graze along the drive in and willows cascade the entire property.

img_0426-1img_0425-1img_0428-1img_0427-1

I wish I was half as photogenic as she is!

We actually ended up buying bottles here because they were decently priced and absolutely superb. They also waive the tasting fee if you purchase, so it made sense. We loved both the Cashmere white and red blends. The red blend reminded me of a nice smooth cab.

img_0684img_0441-1

For dinner, we headed back to Jack London Village and decided to try their promisingly authentic Indian restaurant.

img_0429-1

Yeti is a tiny little unassuming Indian and Nepalese restaurant overlooking the vast Sonoma landscape. The hot (hot as in knock ya dead spicy- just how we like it) food was a perfect contrast to the new cool briskness that started taking over the evening.

img_0430-1img_0431-1

We started with our favorite appetizers, Samosas, with a few chutney options. (Mmmm). Watch out for the red one though- it’ll get ya!

img_0432-1

My mom and I split a couple entrees. We typically do this when we go out because there are always two that we can’t decide between. First we tried the Shahi Prawn Tandoori that was presented sizzlin’ sizzlin’ away.

img_0433-1

We also split the Began Bharta (eggplant). I couldn’t decide which I liked better. They both were phenomenal.

img_0434-1

The men both ordered the classic, never fails ya, Chicken Tikka Masala.

img_0438-1

We ordered everything with a side of perhaps the best naan I have ever had, white rice, and brown rice.

img_0437-1

After, we stopped by the near grocery store to pick up some sweet treats. My mom and I still can’t shake how bomb the grocery store soft homemade sea salt caramels were. Dang, I really should have packed a bunch for the road. First stop when we go back to wine country: The local Glen Allen grocery store for some caramels!!!

Unfortunately, something didn’t agree with Pete that night and he was out for the count through the next day 😦 What we all did agree on is that it’s a perfect excuse for them to make another trip out sometime soon to make up for that lost time!

In the morning of Sunday March 11th, momma Jill and I did a hard workout in the little sunroom for about an hour. We were going to run together, but it was far too bitter. She did yoga and I did a youtube cardio workout. I just love love love working out with her! She motivates me.

After, my mom made a delicious spread of cheeses, crackers, berries, eggs, bacon, toast, and coffee. My mom and I made our favorite avocado toast with egg whites, sea salt, pepper, and some paprika and cumin on top. Since it’s getting warmer out again I have been loving this in the mornings.

img_0443-1img_0459-2

We packed up the rest of the cheese and crackers (and beyond satiable fig jam) with us to our wineries for the day!

The drive alone made us all giddy with excitement. The views are truly breathtaking with fog resting on the tree tops and vast miles of forest. The closest beauty I have ever seen was probably  Big Sur or Tahoe (well if we are talking US.. obviously Bora Bora wins the gold medal). Wait, Grand Canyon too. But that’s like next level. Ugh, I don’t know. It’s all so pretty!

img_0445-1img_0446-1

We were in for a treat. Feeling as though we were trespassing, we snaked in through a metal gate, by a few gargoyles, and onto a long drive that led straight to a castle. Yes, a castle.

img_0448-1img_0449-1

This unique winery is none other than Castello Di Amorosa.  In this moment I realized wine country is not simply vineyards lined up with exorbitantly priced bottles of vino. It is matter of fact, adult Disneyland. I know I said Trader Joe’s held that title a few weeks ago. I recant that statement. It’s wine country. Trader Joe’s is like Cedar Point…. Wine Country is Disneyland. Each winery has it’s own history, ambiance, specific wine it’s known for, and grounds to explore.

img_0450-1

The fog from the morning lifted, the sun started warming the grounds, and the peacocks came out to play.

img_0453-2img_0452-2img_0468-1

How’s about I just let these pictures speak for themselves?!

img_0456-2img_0454-2img_0455-2img_0458-2img_0457-2img_0462-2img_0463-2

We did the general admission and headed down to their actual cellar for the tastings. We were greeted by an enthusiastic Italian man. His thick accent and the cellar lined with wines and pasta could easily trick one into thinking they are in the heart of Italy.

img_0464-1img_0465-1img_0466-1img_0472-1

We ended up buying their La Fantasia. This is a late harvest dessert wine, and me oh my is it everrrr delicious. DJ and I both loved it (and I’m not even a fan of dessert wine). We decided we would open it up on the premiere of the Bachelorette (LOL). Seriously though, can you think of a better occasion?!

img_0467-1

Next we headed to a winery that was pretty modest aesthetically compared to the other wineries we had been to. It was not a stone mansion, nor a grand estate. It almost had more of an office feel when you walked in the door. We discovered quickly that they didn’t need anything to stand out, simply because their views and wines did. We all agreed Rombauer had the hands down, glasses up, best wines of any we had tried (and even after the next couple wineries we went to we still stand by that).

img_0474-1img_0475-1img_0476-1img_0477-1img_0478-1img_0482-1img_0479-1

Every single one we tried, wine after wine, was a wine-ner. I’m not a fan of Zinfandels, but I loved Rombauer’s. It was absolutely magical. I still am not sure why we didn’t purchase it (yet another reason to go back).

img_0481-1

Even their walls are educational- how bough dat’

img_0488img_0485-1img_0487-1

The aficionado showed us 3D maps of wine country, gave us an explanation of where the grapes grow, and helped explain which foods would pair best with what we were having.

When we got to the dessert wines, he explained blue cheese was the perfect compliment. My mom and I exchanged knowing looks and both said, “We have some in the car!”. He said it was totally fine to bring it in, so we whipped out our cheese and crackers, had that delicious dessert wine with blue cheese, and made some new friends from Nevada who helped us munch it all down.

img_0484-1img_0480-1img_0483-1img_0489-1img_0473

I guess I’ll stop here for now. I have to say, I’m even more excited for the next post. I already have all the pictures uploaded, but wanted to avoid crashing your tablet again, Rossy. Hahah. Hopefully this is somewhat short enough to not mess with anyone’s technology, but looking back I have to admit to myself it’s still pretty stinking long. Oh well! All’s well that ends … with wine.

xo ❤

signature-1

Facebook HQ Tour & Clearing Things Up!

Hello Everyone! I have been holding off doing an update post because I’ve been hoping to have a definite answer by now from the last school… but STILL nothing. They said late February/Early March, so I’m going NUTS. Sounds like everyone else is going crazy too based on the AllNurses.com thread I am following like a stalkery psychopath. I have been refreshing my portal every five seconds (where the decision will be posted). I’m loooosing it! This is torturous!

Also, I get that my whole job/school situation is SUPER confusing… so I want to try to clear things up for y’all who are not quite sure what the heck is happening, I can barely keep it straight myself: (or just skip this because, honestly, who cares haha).

  • In 2016 I graduated from a four year nursing school in Indiana with my Bachelors of Science in Nursing.
  • When DJ and I moved to California, it took me nearly eight months for the state of California to give me the OK to take my boards (If you followed me from the beginning you know the insanity that was!)
  • I started my one year Registered Nurse Residency program Spring 2017 on a neurosurgical unit. This means I am an employed nurse, but the residency is different as you have a more intensive preceptorship, are part of a cohort that you meet with about once a month, have a research project, and classes to enhance your clinical skills and learning. Nurse residency programs are a newer concept so this is where it is often confusing- it is not school, it is employment, just more supportive, learning focused, and integrative than traditional new nurse positions. Highly recommend.
  • I am coming to my one year with this program and graduate March 13th. (I’m also speaking at it, so prayers that that goes well would be MUCH appreciated). I present my research March 21st. After that I will continue to work on my unit for now, I just won’t have the extra class work or research project.
  • I am currently applying for graduate school to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. I have always wanted to be a general FNP, and am now considering more than ever possibly becoming specialized in neuroscience so maybe I can work at an outpatient neuroscience clinic eventually.
  • I am awaiting one last school’s decision before making my final decision. This decision is a big one because it determines where we are going to be living this fall.

Does that clear it up a bit?!

*refreshes portal*-  yup, still nothing.

Now we go wayyyy back! February 16th was my Dad’s birthday. My Dad passed away in 2009, and for some reason his birthdays always seem the hardest day for me. More than the actual day of passing, more than the holiday season (those are still difficult though)…. I think it’s because it’s the one day that was all about him. With holidays, we have new traditions/memories to buffer the pain. With his day of passing there aren’t great memories to miss or create a sobering wistful nostalgia contrasted with the grief and loss. But with his birthday, there isn’t much in between now and then… It is a purely bittersweet day. There exists what was and now a forever gaping “since then”. My family has had a hard time getting all together in the middle of February with our schedules, so the day immediately brings back the fond memories of going to Outback Steakhouse (his favorite) and having the whole family in one place. It is those memories that leave me missing him horribly and missing my family too. This year was a bit different though. Being in California, it doesn’t “feel” like his birthday without the blistering snow, Ohio quietness and gray skies. I sometimes am afraid I’m not honoring or remembering him properly- I wanted to go to Outback for lunch, but it didn’t work out with DJ’s schedule, and I had a string of work days coming up, so I hardly had any time in between. I talked to my siblings, that always helps-  but I just wish we could have all been together. I decided to take the day to remember and reflect- his kind heart, his unmatchable sense of humor, his sheer intelligence, his goofiness, and selflessness. I listened to those couple of voicemails I have saved from him that I know will both crush my heart and cause me to laugh through the tears. I wish that he could be in these blog updates and posts, and I wish he was going to see me graduate from this program next week. However, I like to think he knows, and is celebrating, just from afar. ❤

I started the morning going to Target Express near us to fill in groceries that we were missing. On my way back to the apartment, I spotted that Main Street Cupertino had red lanterns held everywhere- I remembered it was Chinese New Year!

They had fun tents set up for the local businesses and people were bustling trying to snag some free SWAG.

img_8760

There were fun little dog structures made of grass and succulents. I was so impressed! How are people so creative?!

img_8761

I meal prepped for the day and prepped for work. When the evening rolled around, we had the awesome opportunity for a tour of Facebook HQ with our friend Tammy who works there.

img_8763

We walked into a pristinely clean lobby with a nook with an almost misplaced homeliness with a mini oculus set up.

img_8765img_8766

The woman at the front desk greeted us and had us give her our IDs. I had my ID out and ready in the car, and before getting out of the car I accidentally left it on the seat. When I realized this she went, “Oh no problem! Do you have Facebook? Just give me your name and I can verify with your picture!”. Too funny.

img_8764

She then told us to help ourselves the the drinks in the fridge and showed us where the bathroom was. I walked over to survey the free hydration station and saw only two things in the fridge- Diet Coke and Water. I laughed- Diet Coke was my Dad’s favorite bev. I told my sister earlier that day I wasn’t going to have time to go to Outback or do anything big to celebrate him, and she said, “Just drink a stinkin’ Diet Coke!”. I took a picture of this serendipitous moment to send her.

img_8767

Typically I wouldn’t take note of a bathroom, but this was the most stocked up public bathroom I have ever seen. It had EVERYTHING you could need, including hairspray. For some reason the hairspray made me chuckle.

img_8768

Tammy and Ben (Ben is Tammy’s husband) (also you may remember I met with them a couple weeks ago for lunch), met us in the Lobby and we immediately headed to the dining room for some dinner. Emojis greeted us, dancing along the walls. I was already mesmerized by the amount of meticulous detail pointing back to the Facebook Empire.

img_8774img_8775

They had multitudinous options for dinner, buffet style. Everything has a label and names each ingredient. They had plenty of delicious vegan (and non-vegan) options. When you are a Fbook employee, ALL the food is free (with the exception of a couple super specialty places). They say the first year you work there you gain the “Facebook Fifteen”. Most have verified this rumor has quite a bit of validity. I can see why!

img_8776img_8777img_8780img_8779

Oh, and let’s not forget, they also have beer and wine available for their employees. Drinking on the job is not exactly discouraged around the Fbook HQ. People had drinks sitting at their work stations and we were told during meetings it’s not unusual for people to bring in a glass of wine.

img_8782

Naturally, they have endless supplies of non- alcoholic bevvys including La Croix galore, Vitamin Water Zero (I love the lemonade one), and teas on teas on teas. Disneyland. Just Disneyland.

img_8781

The food was TREMENDOUS. Mmmmm mmm. I had a sampling of everything and was not disappointed one little bit.

img_8787-1

We then got a night tour of the property. Tammy said I’d have to come back in the daytime. Stay tuned for a part 2 sometime!

img_8783

The main drag is literally a town. There are plenty of diverse restaurants for any palate, a barber shop, ice cream shop, a Hub shop (to get your bike fixed), and an arcade! If you need to de-stress, no problem- just go play some video games on your lunch break. LOL.

img_8773img_8784img_8772img_8771img_8789-1img_8785

They have a little bridge connecting two buildings that they modeled off the Golden Gate, too cute!

img_8788-1img_8769img_8770

Then… for the most epic part…. getting to try Virtual Reality for the first time.

img_8720

It’s against Fbook rules to take pictures of the TV screen, but there was a screen right in front of where I’m standing. The TV shows everyone else in the room what I am seeing. With the headset on, I can see 360. It TRULY feels like you are standing somewhere else. It’s trippy. Tammy asked me if I was afraid of heights. I pridefully said, “Heck no, bring it on”. As soon as the screen transitioned I found myself on top of a building overlooking a good 1200 feet drop. My mind was tricked, and my heart started racing, my palms began to sweat and I began to panic. I had to actually take a moment, breathe and remind myself that I was not in fact overlooking a plunge to my death, but I was standing in a room with a very flat floor.

img_8790-1

Tammy encouraged me to explore my surroundings. I got down and looked over the edge, not daring to get that close while standing. I then navigated the rafters, the steel planks, and the surrounding buildings. I did all this within a small three foot space.

img_8793img_8791

We then did one where a dinosaur chases you. I had everything in me that wanted to turn and run, but I kept reminding myself, “this is not real!”.

The last one I did was a game where you chop up a bunch of fruit with a sword. I get super competitive in these things, okay?!? I know I look ridiculous, but come on’… serious about my fruit.

 

DJ’s turn!

img_8794

I then worked through the weekend, caught up on sleep, errands, and misc. to-do things on February 19th and 20th. On the 21st, I headed to my annual Dental checkup. I actually look forward to going to the dentist, not because of the actual dental part, but because of the people. I wouldn’t usually include something this silly in an update post, but it is a BIG deal that I have only needed one dental appointment this year. When we first moved here, I felt like I lived at the dentist office. (Hence how I know the staff so well). I had a root canal within a couple weeks of unlocking our door for the first time and had several follow up appointments to finish the repair and place the final cap. I was given a clean bill of health this time around, and no dental procedures are in my near future!

img_9154img_9155

I had about a million things on my to-do list for the day, but it was so beautiful out and all I wanted to do was blast my music and walk down the quaint street of downtown Los Altos. So I did. I was surprised at my ability to “waste” time and not feel too anxious about it, but I also think I needed this. I knew March was bringing with it a new level of stress and busyness that I was going to be wishing I had taken a couple seconds to chill, breathe some fresh air, and just relax.

img_9158img_9159img_9162img_9156img_9157img_9161

And for the love of God, you guys, please do not hurt their plants! lol.

img_9163

I decided with a clean bill of dental health and swag in my music fueled steps to treat myself to some solid mediterranean cuisine.

img_9164

Occasionally I like eating by myself. I don’t do it often, but I find it so relaxing. Usually I’ll bring my laptop to blog or a book to read. I sat inside Cafe Nur, my to-do list tucked away in my purse and deeper tucked in the back of my mind. I savored my vegetarian sampler, sipped my Pellegrino and blasted my favorite Spotify playlist. I reflected upon what a nutty year this has been, and I was only one month from overcoming the most difficult obstacle I have ever faced: Nursing. I began to get emotional—overwhelmed with relief, gratitude, and yet excitement of what is to come. This calls for extra pita.

img_9160

To prolong the procrastinative (not a word, but it should be) state, I decided to go for a long run out in the glorious sun. Mid-run I received an email from my Residency Program Coordinator saying she was still looking for a class rep to speak at our graduation. I don’t know if I had soaked up too much sun or was on a high on baba ganoush and running adrenaline but I volunteered. As I sent the message I both regretted it and applauded the strangely uncharacteristic act. I think deep down I felt that I wanted to express gratitude to all who have helped me and my cohort classmates survive this year. I also want to let my cohort know what bomb nurses they are and how thankful I am to have done this year with them. This year has been the craziest, most challenging, worst and yet most rewarding year of my existence. What is one more challenge?

img_9165

I spent the rest of the day in go-mode. Laundry, food prep for the next couple days of work and for DJ, clean, answer e-mails, and start a draft for a speech that I hope I make it through without vomiting on stage. We had our FINAL class March 22nd. We decided to do a massive potluck to go out with a bang. I made an array of veggies accompanied by pita chips and popcorn (since my coworkers find my obsession with popcorn quite hilarious).. I had to stay true to character.

img_9166

Proud of my hard work (aka not cutting my finger while chopping up veggies), I shot a text to my mom….

img_9169

Hey now, I didn’t adopt the California lifestyle, the Cali life adopted me!

Let’s just say, us nurses know how to whip up a pot-luck.

img_9168

And what’s a celebration without cake?!

img_9167

I and DJ worked the next few days. I then had the weekend off! Sunday night, DJ was hankering some In n’ Out. When you have an In n’ Out craving there is only one thing that will satisfy: In n’ Out. I had already meal prepped and was craving my massive salad awaiting me at home, but I tagged along so we could have some extra time together.

img_9177img_9172

Monday night= BEST night of the week. Bach time!!!! Y’all this season though. Too many thoughts… I won’t even get started. But jeeez la freaking louise. It is something! Per usual, we make our giant mega cookie out of pillsbury cookie dough. It’s tradition. It does not feel right to have bach without it. We literally refer to it as “Mega” like another family member. “Hey Deej, can you bring me mega?”. This night I had to go to bed immediately after Bach since I worked three in a row (including that Monday), but I relished the couple moments I had in between sleeps.

img_9173

After working overtime and tryna’ just keep my eyelids open, I decided to do my old tradition of getting a solid workout in after breakfast and then heading to Peet’s. My heart fluttered as I had set aside this day to finish up my speech. It didn’t take as long to write as I had anticipated. Once it was finished up and I saw my good ole’ friends at Peet’s from back in the NCLEX studying days, I hit up the local TJ’s to see what was cooking. I went in without a grocery list. You see, you don’t go to TJ’s with a list, you let TJ’s tell you what you need.

*Refreshes portal*- ugh, still nothing.

img_9176

I also went to Sprout’s to stock up on some carbonated beverages.. I go through stages where I CRAVE soda. I try to stay away from anything with aspartame (minus the diet coke from a couple weeks prior 😉 ). Some of my faves include Hansen’s and Zevia. Many don’t like Zevia because of it’s aftertaste (totally get it), but I’ve been hooked on it for years.

img_9171

*Refreshes portal*- nope.

I meal prepped for the rest of the week and work days. Salad includes tons of veggies/tofu/hummus/ and balsamic glaze.

img_9170

Friday, the evening of the 2nd, we stopped by DJ’s Dad’s house to visit with his family. I have missed them horribly! A healthy dose of family time was just what I needed to survive a pretty heavy weekend in the hospital.

This past Sunday the 4th, DJ had to get up with me under the full blown moon (4:30 am). I was so excited about this that I had to snap a shot of us taking the elevator down to our cars simultaneously and had someone to eat breakfast with!

 

After a super tiring work weekend (still recovering), we had Indian last night that I picked up from TJ’s with naan and white wine. Such a great combo. We lazily glued ourselves to the couch and the television as we watched Arie the Asinine make an absolute fool of himself. Y’all I hate to talk bad about ANYONE, I give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and actually thrive off “difficult personality” patients, but Arie.. I can’t deal with him. And I’m pretty sure he is a sociopath. He exhibited ZERO empathy during that break up. Ugh, my heart broke for both girls. Ok I need to stop before I get myself in trouble. *Deep breaths, deep breaths*.

img_9153

If you hung in with me through this full post, you deserve an award.

*Refreshes portal one last time* *buffering* – humbug. Still notta goose egg zero zilch. 

On a totally unrelated note, my favorite (and only) pair of yoga pants that I’ve had since Freshman year of college got a hole in them this week. An unsalvageable hole. Needless to say, I am in need of a shopping spree, much to hubby’s dismay. It’s gonna be hard to find replacements for those beloved pants, but alas, it is time to invest in some new basic girl attire.

xo ❤

signature-1

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

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

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

img_8901

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

img_8891

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

img_8907

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

img_8903

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

img_8910

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

img_8913

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

img_8911

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

SUBSCRIBE TO the SKIMM

img_8909

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

img_8916img_8918img_8915

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

img_8908

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

xo ❤

signature-1

Valentine’s Day on Top of a Mountain

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

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

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

img_8501

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

img_8191

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

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

img_8540img_8541img_8504img_8509img_8508img_8505img_8506

She’s too stinking cute!

img_8507

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

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

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

img_8512

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

img_8510img_8511

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

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

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

Every morning feeeelz….

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

img_8513

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

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

I did get a quick trot in though.

img_8515

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

img_8542

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

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

Deej gave me this sweet rose ❤

img_8378

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

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

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

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

img_8518

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

img_8521img_8519

The best part? The cheeeese!!!!

img_8522img_8524

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

img_8523

Round One..

img_8525

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

It was totally worth it, especially for the views!

img_8526img_8527

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

img_8528img_8529img_8530

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

img_8531

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

img_8533

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

img_8534

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

img_8535

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

img_8536

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

img_8537

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

img_8532

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

img_8555

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

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

img_8539

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

img_8554

Have a beautiful weekend, everyone!

xo ❤

signature-1

A Quite Ambiguous Life Update!

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

what's happening.gif

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

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

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

img_7957

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

img_7953

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

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

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

img_7956

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

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

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

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

img_7958img_7959img_7963

What’s brunch without Bill’s Famous Mimosas?

DJ tried their country fried steak with biscuits and gravy.

img_7961

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

img_4954

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

img_1430img_7962

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

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

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

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

img_7964img_7965img_7966

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

I loved their farmhouse theme.

img_7969img_7970

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

img_7972

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

img_7973

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

img_7971img_7968img_7967

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

img_7974

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

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

img_7976

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

img_7983img_8012

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

img_7986img_7984img_7985

How stinking cute!

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

img_7982

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

img_7978

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

img_7980

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

img_8010

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

img_8011

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

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

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

img_7954img_8094

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

img_7981

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

img_8092img_8093img_8047

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

xo ❤

signature-1

Friday Favorites #9!

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

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

img_7880

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

img_7854

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

img_7867img_7865

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

img_7851

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

img_7878

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

img_7877

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

img_7852

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

img_7870

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

img_7876img_7879

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

img_7868

I wore some purple ones in San Diego.

img_7360

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

img_7871img_7575

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

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

Vegan Tacos

Loaded Vegan Nachos

xo ❤

signature-1