Sister Time & Wine Country Part I!

Hey hey, long time no seeee!! Oh man, you know what’s tough? Sometimes the times in life when you need to write and process the most are the times that are the most chaotic and don’t allow much free time to do just that! (Don’t count how many times I used “time” in that sentence, or this one). But I’ve gotta say, at this moment, I’m actually enjoying the chaos. It’s incredibly stressful for sure, tears have been shed, and there are times I don’t feel like I can handle it all- but things are going much smoother than I could have ever imagined, and I feel like we are almost in the clear! We also have a lot of the really huge stressors behind us, so now much of that anxiety is getting replaced with excitement and anticipation! Also, although each day is go-go-go from super early morning till nearly midnight, the adrenaline from everything is working wonders. We officially move out on Sunday.

Currently….My brain is fried, I cannot do another lick of studying, so I am treating myself to just this one night to do a blog post!

We left off the evening my sister arrived. On June 5th, my Sis and I woke up early to get to work! Halston had tons of “to-dos” on her list for the wedding & of course, I had a bottomless pit of reading and studying and assignments. We started the day with avocado smoothies– Hal talked about them for weeks leading up to the trip since she got hooked on them last time she was here. We had one every day of her visit this time around- and now I can’t have one without missing her!

I took a midday break to post some items on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. I’m never using Craigslist again with the success we’ve had through Marketplace. I’m so stoked about it- it’s just so easy.

In the evening we whipped up some stuffed sweet potatoes again. We made ours each a bit differently, mine with extra tzatziki and beets and Hal’s with extra green goddess dressing from TJs. These also included tofu, roasted peppers and onions, artichoke hearts and hummus all stuffed in Murasaki potatoes. We chatted out on the balcony & enjoyed the momentary quiet from the studying/wedding details.

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On June 6th we went to Peets during the day to get shtuff done, and then came back in the late afternoon and worked out on the main apartment community deck. Smalls was soaking up the sun… I would have hated to disturb him..so I figured I should just let him be 😉

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We made massive salads in the evening with all ingredients in the fridge- mmm mmmm! Halston is all aboard the massive salad train too.

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Side note: DJ had a home-stand during the week she was here (where he leaves basically at 730 am-ish and doesn’t get home till 11ish); that’s why he isn’t around in any adventures, sadly. We missed him!

Anyway, we took an after-dinner walk around Main Street before I hit the books again.

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Aaand it was the same ol’ on June 7th. We were very productive through the week, but basically it was just study/eat/workout/study/eat.

To shake things up for dinner, we decided to try TJ’s Cauliflower Gnocchi! We didn’t add much seasoning to it because I wanted to get a feel for the base to see what I could jazz it up with next time.

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They were super yummy. I think next time I’d like to add some type of nice parmesan on top! A red sauce would work well too. We ate them with tilapia and roasted veggies from Chef Hal herself. Halston and I eat essentially the same type of diet, so it was fun to tag- team dinners throughout the week.

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I started packing that evening after getting to a stopping point I had planned for the week. We made sure to try to get a good night sleep because we woke up around 4:45 am on Saturday June 8th to get a workout in. And finally- after a long week of studying and wading through wedding logistics we were ready for a day of fun & relaxation! We scarfed down our coffee and avocado smoothies and headed out to celebrate my sister’s birthday in….. NAPA!

We headed from Cupertino to the Ferry Building in SF where our wine tour car would be picking us up. I booked us through Platypus Wine Tours again since it was such a phenomenal experience the first time around with Kelsey (and it’s very reasonably priced).

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The tour bus was scheduled to pick us up in front of the Ferry Building at 8:45 am, and we had about twenty minutes to spare after grabbing our Ferry tickets for the trip back…so naturally we had to grab some pics!

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When it was time to load up the car, we found ourselves surrounded by about 8 other people from all over the world- Denmark, France, Canada… It was fun to get to know them all throughout the trip. That’s something I so love about San Francisco- you meet people from truly everywhere and anywhere with the most fascinating lives and stories.

First stop first: Auburn James.

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This was a unlike any other winery experience we’ve had before. The whole tasting room vibe was supposed to make you feel like you were entering a home, and it really did feel like we were all just hanging out in a living room.

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We were given our tasting and then showed around the vineyards.

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The vineyards were beautiful! But it was HOT HOT HOT. Our Platypus tour guide did say they were a little bit worried about wildfires that day. I think we could have all done without that little tidbit of knowledge.. eep!

6486d0ac-f7b3-4bfa-b416-ea35be5d910f1d6c75ed-5548-4dd3-8a3f-97408f06db4a I wouldn’t say this winery is a must, but it was a lovely experience nonetheless. I think it was the most educational out of the four!

Second Stop: Hagafen. This was our favorite of the day for several reasons…

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Oh, and another bonus, they had games! We attempted a round of cornhole, but the wind kept catching our bags, so we didn’t do too hot.. meaning it was probably comical for any bystanders watching, haha.

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Before we knew it, it was lunch time! yaa buddy. They had vegetarian dishes for Hal & I. Platypus called before hand to make sure they accommodated any dietary restrictions. So kind! We enjoyed every nibble of our veggie sandwiches accompanied by hummus, pears, and a lentil salad that was to die for.

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And dessert were these sweet little strawberries and cream muffin bites.

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I’ll recap the second part of wine country in a separate post! Happy birthday again, Sista!

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Questions for you:

  • What do you call cornhole? I know it has a variety of names depending where you’re from.
  • What time of day do you prefer to workout?

xo <3

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Meeting another Blogger, Golden Boy Pizza & The Emporium!

Hi, everyone! I hope you had a nice weekend!

Jumping straight on into the recap…On May 29th and 30th, it was just study study, ya know the drill by now- but also, ya can’t get started without breakfast, right?! Breakfast time is one of my favorite parts of the whole day & I have been eating this one on repeat the last few weeks: an Avocado smoothie with PB toast & honey.

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On May 30th I went to the local coffee shop to grab a cafe au lait and studied with Smalls in our apartment community office/study room. In the afternoon was Boys and Girls club. The kids are done for the summer & it’s been a bit emotional coming to that realization. I can’t wait to get plugged back in once we’re settled in Austin!

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On May 31st I had a very lovely morning! I met up with a local blogger, Kalpana, from surreyfarms.net at Great Bear Coffee in Los Gatos.

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We have been friends in the blog-o-sphere for years but have never met up before. It was absolutely wonderful to meet her and have such deeply rich conversation for a couple hours- I felt like we could have talked all day! And the coffee was fantastic as a nice bonus 🙂 It was certainly the highlight of my week. If you want some mouth-wateringly, beautifully prepared and delicious recipes, gorgeous garden pictures, and heart-warming family adventures I highly recommend heading over to her blog! She is a true inspiration of mine <3

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In the afternoon I enjoyed a purple sweet potato with beets, artichoke hearts, hummus, and Fage.

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I studied all the rest of the day and then while walking through our complex I realized there was something going down…. A hoe-down to be exact!

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The management team had an entire western themed party going on for the complex complete with a petting zoo for the kiddos. I texted DJ to see if he wanted any food, but he had already had BBQ at the stadium for lunch. Still, so fun and a nice gesture for the apartment crew to put this on!

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DJ finally had an evening to breathe from work, and I hustled on school work so we could enjoy a Saturday evening together the following day.

On Saturday June 1st we both were productive during the day and then around 5:00 pm we headed to San Francisco. I read Smalls in the car on the way down up (I always want to say down for some reason?!) and actually made a huge dent in my chapter- it makes me optimistic that I’ll be productive on our road-trip to TX. So where was our foodie adventure for the evening you ask? Welllll, lemme telll youuuu! I’ve been on a serious pizza kick lately and have been on a mission to find the best!

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People swear by Golden Boy Pizza as the best in the city. The wait was about forty-five minutes, but finally we made it to the front to order. It’s a casual spot- you can technically eat inside, but it’s mostly standing room. People usually just take their pies to go.

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They are famous for their clam and garlic pizza, so we tried that and a few other flavors: DJ had their pepperoni and sausage, and I had their cheese and clam/garlic.

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We took our slices back to the car and blasted the heat while chowing down. This pizza was very good. DJ and I both prefer thin crusts, and this is more of a focaccia, but it worked! It wasn’t too dense or doughy- it was light, airy, and had a lovely crunch. The flavor of the clam and garlic was pretty tremendous and unique, but DJ preferred their meat-based slices. I don’t know that I would wait that long again for it- but I am so glad we finally tried it! I see why it has its popularity, but at the same time I’m not sure it’s 100% worth the hype.

After, we headed over to The Emporium to continue our date night. The Emporium is a massive arcade for adults. They have a live DJ, play a giant movie, and have countless of games that will make you nostalgic for the 80s and 90s.

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It was a blast!!! Probably one of my favorite things we have done in SF yet.

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DJ beat me at the basketball game, of course (hello, two time national basketball champion 😉 )…. but I held my own in ski ball, hehe.

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When I was going through our pics on the way home I realized we were photo bombed by a cartoon painting who weirdly had similar eyes to mine?!

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On June 2nd it was back to it! Smalls is almost too big for the treadmill reading/walking routine, but if the chapter is somewhere in the middle of the book I can balance him, ha!

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June 3rd, same same, mixed up with my new favorite snack of a purple sweet potato, artichoke hearts, hummus, and Fage– can ya tell I’m on a kick?

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I decided to make some homemade hummus with leftover tahini that evening. This is the best batch of homemade hummus I’ve made thus far, but I stilll don’t like it better than TJ’s quartet.

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I also made Shakshuka from TJ’s. I heard about Shakshuka from Kori’s blog, and when I saw TJ’s had an easy throw-together one I figured it’d be a great way to start it out!

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I served it with a couple eggs, brown rice, and naan bread. It was so stinkin’ yummy. This will be added to the lineup!

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On June 4th I started the day with the uszh, yoozh? usz? (however you spell the short of usual).

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In the afternoon, I threw together a little snack that I quite enjoyed of cauliflower mashed potatoes, tzatziki, artichoke hearts, beets, and chik’n tenders from Lightlife.

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My sister was flying in that night! Before she arrived I had some errands to quickly run at Santana Row.

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I marveled at this cozy sunset before heading to the stores.

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After a happy reunion with my sissy, we went back home, I whipped up some stuffed sweet potatoes with tofu, hummus, roasted veggies, and green goddess dressing for us both, and we caught up while eating out on the patio.

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I was initially planning on doing more school work, but I was so excited about my sister being here that I couldn’t think about focusing. Instead, I made DJ a big batch of his favorite chicken curry and naan that would be good for about three meals for the week.

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This feels like a good stopping point.

Questions for you:

  • Are you having any food cravings/stages right now?
  • Have you watched Chernobyl on HBO? I hear it’s the new GOT, and DJ and I both are considering starting it after we finish The OA.

xo <3

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Friday Favorites #23!

Hey everyone! I just finished up a big night of studying and am taking a quick break before starting to pack. My packing hours have been basically 12 am to 3 am… so naturally gonna squeeze in a blog post in between. Normal, right? Let’s get to it- shall we?!

  1. My sister was here this past week! We spent majority of it in coffee shops studying for me, wedding planning for her, but we made the absolute most of the time we had. I can’t wait to share some of the adventures we did squeeze in. I’m having that post-visit depression since I dropped her off at the airport this morning, but cannot wait to see her and the rest of my family in a month flat for the wedding!

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2. The Woman in Cabin 10. While I don’t have much time to read right now, this book makes me want to sacrifice my couple hours of sleep a night to read. I’m not super far in, but it’s turning out to be a terrific mystery/thriller. I’ll letchya know how I feel when I finish it up!

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3. Everything But the Bagel Seasoning from TJ’s. I am obsessed. This stuff is oh so yummy- especially on avocado toast!

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4. Açaí  bowls. It’s been unusually hot here lately, so these make for a great breakfast or lunch. I put in a Sambazon açaí  packet with a frozen banana, 4 oz. (ish) of almond milk, salted cashews, and PB powder to mix in! Yum-mayyy

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4. Marine Layer Respun Program. I heard about this from Em’s blog and just love this whole mission! If you turn in 5 tees, you get $25 credit to the store, and they recycle your old shirts to make new ones! Win-win allll around. It was extremely easy- I just dropped off my shirts to the store and gave them my e-mail which had the credit in it within a couple hours. You can also mail the shirts in if you wish too.

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5. Averagefashionblogger. Dare I say Courtney is the most relatable human on the internet. I just discovered her Insta a couple weeks ago, and she has me cry-laughing.

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6. PiperWai Deodorant. I have had this sitting in my bathroom drawer for a while, and with the move coming I have been on a mission to use up allll cosmetics possible. When I ran out of my carcinogenic Secret, I decided to give it a go. I haven’t had great experiences with natural deodorant in the past, but dannnng this works. I am never looking back! And I am excited to hear they now have a roll-on version (the regular version is a little bit crumbly and messy). Highly recommend checking this out- fun fact: they had their start on Shark Tank!

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7. Youth by Glass Animals. I have this song on repeat. I can’t get enough. Fair disclaimer: I have an off-beat taste in music, so it won’t be for everyone.

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8. Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones. Soooooooo remember how our neighbors were supposed to move all the way back in November? Yeah, that never happened (long story). I didn’t feel like y’all would want to hear a full on vent session about it, but now that we are moving I feel like I can share this without it sounding so whiney, lol. Since we realized we would have to live with the crazy noise 24-7, we invested in a pair of Bose Headphones to try to deal with it, especially since we had some Best Buy gift-cards we had been saving up! Y’all…. these. are. magic. I live in them while in my apartment (no exaggeration- it’s pretty much all waking hours), but it has been the ultimate life saver this past half a year!!! Oh, and I love using them while studying in coffee shops too- they definitely help me focus. Best investment of all time.

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9. Facebook Marketplace. My sister introduced this to me while she was here, and I have had way much more luck than I did on Craig’s list with selling a few things before the move! It’s incredibly user friendly, even for a technologically inept individual as myself.

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10. Big Little Lies. So season two just released, and I decided to rewatch the first season while running/working on house chores. Oh my gosh, I forgot a ton. This story line is tremendous. I was definitely distracted first time around watching, because I don’t remember half of this! But wowza- maybe one of the best shows ever.

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That wraps up a FF. We were long overdue, huh?

What is your Friday Favorite today? Drop those FF links below if you have them!! 🙂

xo <3

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Nick’s Next Door & Homemade Wine!

Hi all! I am pleased to report I am feeling much better than when I wrote up my last post. The first couple weeks of the semester are always the most challenging, but I think I’ve found my groove and am relieved having a couple good grades under my belt. Thank you bunches for all your encouragement in the last post- it helped tons! Also, we have some logistics figured out about the move that also is a huge relief. I am gonna jump straight into recapping since I have quite a bit of ground to cover.

On May 24th I made an avocado toast with Everything But the Bagel seasoning from TJ’s. Gosh, I love that stuff! Sometimes I throw on some tabasco for a kick too.

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I studied all morning and whipped up this omelette in the afternoon with tons of veggies, garlic powder, pink Himalayan sea salt, and wilted kale served with some green goddess dressing (from TJ’s too). This dressing goes deliciously with eggs!

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But in the evening is where the real guuud eats come into play! As ya know that week was particularly emotionally draining for me. We had been saving a gift-card for a special occasion, and this was perfect timing. Even if it’s not a holiday, sometimes a much needed date night is an occasion of its own.

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The restaurant we went was called Nick’s Next Door, a tucked away little spot in Los Gatos. This is considered a local favorite, and it became clear quickly as to why. We opted to sit out on the patio under the twinkle lights and were warmed by overhead heaters that created a cozy temp in the coolness of the evening.

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We started the evening with some unique and wonderful wine- a white for DJ, red for myself.

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Complimentary bread to start a meal is always a huge bonus in my book 🙂 It was served with a zesty marinara-type sauce.

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We also shared a couple appetizers. First up, their lobster spring rolls with sweet chili beurre blanc, Thai cabbage salad, and crushed roasted peanuts. These were refreshing! I will say the lobster was masked a tiny bit by the other flavors, but still tasty.

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Our personal favorite were the basil pesto croquettes. Gosh, these were stuffed with flavor!

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Oh oh! Wait, tying for first place in the appetizer department is the wild truffle mushroom soup. This is some of the best darn soup I have ever tried. You can see the truffle oil bubbling at the top. I thoroughly enjoyed dipping bread into it to sop it all up.

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For my main course I had Nick’s on Main Salmon with lemon risotto, sautéed asparagus and fava beans topped with a Dungeness crab beurre blanc. WOW. wow. wow. Every bite was tremendous. Also, every time I have risotto I wonder why I don’t eat it every single day.

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DJ had their Pan Roasted Rib Eye Steak with bone marrow, crispy truffle fries, tarragon dusted roasted cauliflower. He loved the rib eye steak portion, I loved the cauliflower portion. Also, I tried a bit of the bone marrow- forever convinced it is one of the tastiest things you can eat on planet earth.

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What a scrumptious meal! It was so nice to just chat and enjoy an evening out on the town without any distractions. One thing we discussed debated in our convo at dinner is whether you can like both the Office & Stand-up comedy. I don’t think it’s even a question- absolutely you can, and probably do, like both!!! I love stand up, and I love The Office. DJ thinks if you like The Office you have too dissimilar a sense of humor to like stand-up. Curious your thoughts!

The bill was brought out in The New Food Lover’s Companion book for you to sign along with countless other customers. We also met Nick himself. He came over and made sure we were comfortable- such a nice guy who is clearly beloved by the patrons!

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For our signature in the book we posed our question, hah.

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Such a lovely evening <3 We were practically there till close & enjoyed every moment.

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On May 25th it was “back to school” for me. In the afternoon I made some grilled cheese & tomato soup for us.. an easy go-to.

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In the evening I made DJ a skirt steak with chimchurri sauce, roasted potatoes and an egg for that “steak and eggs” feel.

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I had the same thing, minus the steak- add a veggie burger.

Oh, and also exciting…after a little over four weeks and hours of prep/filtering/etc. our homemade wine was ready to be bottled! I have saved memorable wine bottles from the last couple years to use for the bottling (except the Cupcake- I just needed a fifth to store the last bit, hah).

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Just for kicks, here are the posts that correspond with each bottle above:

Kieu Hoang

Cashmere- Black Magic

La Fantasia 

John’s Grill

When I eventually tried the wine for the first time I was a bit nervous- I was pretty sure I’d get sick or that it’d taste awful since I kinda messed up a couple steps, but it turned out sooo yummy & full bodied & delicious (and did not make us sick!).

I am super stoked about how it all went from the entire manual process to the actual wine itself. I would highly recommend this as a gift to anyone you know who likes vino! My only concern is how we will transport the bottles with us to TX.. I think maybe I could get one of those empty wine boxes from Trader Joe’s or something? We’ll see!

On May 26th I made rack of lamb for the first time. During my long study days making dinner is such a highlight of the long hours- it’s a fun creative outlet to break up the studying.

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I served the lamb over a bed of brown jasmine rice with wilted spinach and a homemade tahini sauce. DJ loved it! At first he said it was way too much food for him that I plated, since I just gave him the whole thing haha. But whaddya know.. he ended up eating the entire thing minus maybe one single chop.

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May 27th, Memorial day, DJ had to work, and I had a ton of studying to get ready for my first exam. Since DJ didn’t really get to experience a relaxing Memorial Day I tried to prep a dinner that would give somewhat that holiday feel (burger, mashed potatoes, mac n’ cheese, a bread stick). I ordered it all from Applebee’s with a gift card & added a giant refreshing salad for myself that I topped with some vegan crumbles & green goddess dressing. Thank you to all who serve and your families for your service <3

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On May 28th I started the day with toast with PB & honey. This has been on repeat the last few weeks paired with my avocado smoothie.

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I then went to Peet’s to study the whole day away! It was very productive & was good for me to get a change of scenery to study.

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A refreshing snack I enjoyed that day was this açaí bowl. After I took the pic I decided to add some PB and chocolate chips to it- a great summer treat!

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For dinner I made DJ one of the go-tos: BBQ baked chicken with roasted potatoes, rice, and steamed spinach with some parm on top. I had my usual large salad to finish up the veggies going badly.

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May 29th I took my first exam. My head was pounding after the timed 90 minutes of adrenaline. I had a really hard time focusing the rest of the day. My headache nearly turned into a migraine, I started getting anxious about questions I convinced myself I missed and decided to just take the rest of the day off from school since I wasn’t going to be productive anyways. I worked on stuff for Hal’s wedding weekend and caught up on other things that have been on the back burner since school resumed. Like brushing my hair. Ok, I’ll wrap it up here- this is already quite lengthy! I’m particularly excited for my next post, so hopefully I can get that out sometime in the next week?..month? … year?!

Questions for you:

  • Do you like both the Office & Stand-Up?
  • How was your weekend?

xo <3

 

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Falafel’s Drive In & Mystery Spot!

Hey, everyone! I am writing this on absolutely zero brain power, so please excuse the typos (I’m sure there will be plenty). Imma be real– this last week or so has been a doozy. We officially move at the end of this month, and the pressure of school, the move, and trying to get everything aligned for my sister’s wedding is putting my body in a state of fight-or-flight. My heart is racing out of my chest every day, I’m not sleeping, my appetite is pretty suppressed.. I know everything will get done… it always does. I usually thrive off this type of stress, but I think the sleep-deprivation mixed with anticipation of receiving feedback for my first quiz and exam are just weighing on me. Once I get those back (they make up 20% of my entire grade) and have some (hopefully good?) grades under my belt I bet I’ll feel very relieved. So, yes, if you have any extra sanity lying around, please send it right my way 🥴

I just hit a wall tonight while reading my textbook, so I’ve decided since I won’t be able to sleep anyways, maybe some writing/reflection is just what I need to calm down. When I started blogging I realized the power of choosing to focus on all the positive. Also, everything that is happening is good great stress- I have to keep that in perspective. I wouldn’t change a thing that’s happening! And this stress does not even pale in comparison to what I was going through about a year ago- so I’ll take this ANY day over that phase of life! PLUS, I don’t have clinicals this summer- so this timing could not be more perfect. I’m very thankful. So let’s get on with the highlights, shall we?!

Let’s see, so May 13th one of the highlights of the day was enjoying this tofu curry with basmati rice and some whole wheat pita. I could eat this meal every day! It’s sooo satisfying.

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I went on a nice walk in the evening after dinner. I am soaking up every moment of my walk route lately. It’s definitely going to be one of the things I miss the most. I have been living for that daily walk to clear my head and shake off the mental cobwebs! Even just a mile or two can really be just what I need to refocus.

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On May 14th I finished getting everything together to start my semester. May 15th my term officially started. I will say I prefer the format of this semester over last’s, even though it’s going to be the most challenging yet, content-wise and workload. It’s less paper-based and more exam-based- which means less busy work through week, but overall way more time studying. I do love what I’m learning, which makes all the difference. This is my textbook that will basically become my third arm this summer. I put my fist in for reference, hah. How this will all be read in less than three months time is beyond me, but we’re gonna give it our best shot!

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I worked most of the day on reading through orientation lectures, organizing my planner and starting on the first Module. Before making dinner I went for a walk and quite literally stopped to smell the roses 🙂

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For dinner I decided to have a massive salad out of my trough with hummus, all the veggies, and some Lightlife “chicken” since I had my Indian meal for lunch.

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On May 16th I studied all morning but had a nice afternoon respite by going to Boys and Girls Club. The rest of the day I read, read, and read some more! That’s basically been every day since I started the semester.

For dinner I made DJ some BBQ chicken with corn & rice. Such an easy midweek meal.

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May 17th- Read. All. The. Pages. & Leftovers.

The 18th I started the day with some delicious oats, chocolate chips & an avocado smoothie. I joked when I posted this on my insta-story that all these competing patterns are quite dizzying.

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May 19th– Lotsa reading and lectures. Oh! I do want to say I am so thankful for my professor I was assigned. He is easily one of the best profs I think I have ever had undergrad/grad school combined. These concepts are immensely challenging, but he explains them in a way that makes them much easier to understand and digest.

In the evening we watched GOT finale. I wasn’t thrilled with it along with most of the general population, but I am eager to watch the documentary! I think the fact that people were signing petitions is absurd and offensive- you can’t protest someone’s “art”, ya know? But I do wish it had ended differently.

May 20th–  I changed up my breakfast a bit and started the day with Crunchy PB toast with a touch of honey, grapefruit and coffee. 

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May 21st I spotted these beauties while out on my walk.

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And now, for some fun- DJ and I had a little impromptu date!

I am actually getting kind of sleepy now.. it’s about 11:30 pm.. I think I might try to finish this post in the morning and sleep now! Wish me luck!

7: 00 am: Ok, I am back… I actually slept! I knew blogging would help 🙂

Jumping right back in! I love Falafel, and in SJ there is a place called “Falafel’s Drive In“. It has raving reviews on YELP & has been on my bucket list for ages. Finally time to try it out!

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It’s a fast-casual little joint where you order at the stand and then eat under the scaffolding.

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We each ordered their two famous offerings: a falafel pita sandwich and a banana milkshake to split. And, of course, some hummus on the side for good measure.

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It was easier to see the inside of the falafel after I took a few big bites in. d22a4972-807a-4aa7-800b-c94f09150944

Verdict: It was absolutely delicious! The flavor combo of the sweet, cool banana milkshake with the soft, spiced and flavorful falafel was epic. I probably wouldn’t order the shake on its own- it was more of an “icy” milkshake than creamy- but it was still a pretty tremendous combo. Their hot sauce is some of my favorite I’ve ever tried! It’s not super spicy (which usually would be a no-go for me), but the unique, sweet/spicy synergistic flavor blew me away! The hummus was fine- butttt I wouldn’t order it again with Oren’s right down the road!

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On May 22nd, DJ had a day off so we decided to go to the beach in Santa Cruz to get some fresh air & get me out of the house. I still had to study most of the day, but I just read in the car and on the beach!

On our way to Santa Cruz we stopped at The Mystery Spot, a spot we have wanted to go for a while. Since we’ve moved here we’ve seen people with a bumper sticker proudly announcing they have, indeed, been to this popular spot. We knew we had to go before moving. And I wanted a bumper sticker too, darnit! Oops, My FOMO is showing.

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So what is Mystery Spot? The description from their website sums it up very well:

The Mystery Spot is a gravitational anomaly located in the redwood forests just outside of Santa Cruz, California. It is a circular area of effect around 150 feet or 46 meters in diameter. Within the Mystery Spot you will be stunned as your perceptions of the laws of physics and gravity are questioned. But don’t take our word for it, come and decide for yourself!

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It was wild! I know there is probably some explanation, but it was pretty trippy! For example, one of the things she did was roll a ball in what appeared downward on a plank, but it rolled back up (and she “proved” how the ball wasn’t altered or there weren’t any other gimmicks- although I’m pretty sure the entire thing is one large gimmick, lol). Definitely a fun thing for kids- it will blow their mind- but also fun for adults too!

For instance, in this picture, DJ feels like he is standing straight up, but it appears as though he’s leaning forward.

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And here it looks like we should fall right off the table, but we didn’t feel unstable at all. Had to take the opportunity for the Titanic pose, of course.

5965f2f7-ea7b-4e01-b70e-9643671e75b7It was a fun experience, and only took about 45 mins total.59282dd6-d1d4-427f-9927-3971ef1f68d5

Also! Banana Slugs!!! These are the mascot of SC & it’s always exciting when you spot one.

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PS. This place was Dad Jokes galore, so naturally that made me appreciate it all the more.

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And we finally got our sticker!!! Woot woot.

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Next up: The Beach!

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I forgot our towels at home (where is my mind), so we swung into Walgreens and grabbed some. I did remember all the snacks though- you can bet I wouldn’t forget those 😉

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It was too chilly to actually lie out, but even lying down in the sun on the sand all bundled up was still soooo relaxing. It was a great change of pace to knock out some reading.

Also, I decided to name my massive book “Smalls”…. 1. Because I love irony. 2. Because now I can say, “You’re killing me, Smalls” all summer long.

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As we were leaving Santa Cruz I had a nostalgic moment thinking about how this was the first place we visited when we moved here. It was also one of the first places I fell in love with in California and has been our getaway when life gets stressful. It also has been where we have made amazing memories with our little sisters, Kelsey, Rachel, and Halston and Kevin. It felt all of a sudden full circle, and I was overcome by such thick emotion as we drove away for the last time.

Time to get back to reading. Thank you for taking time out of your day to stop in 🙂

Questions for you:

  • What is one positive thing going on in your life right now?

xo <3

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Lotsa munchin’ & brunchin’!

Hey hey! How are you? I spent all day long reading countless pages in pathophysiology and watching lectures so I am treating myself to some writing late this evening 🙂 This semester is already kicking my butt. I am gonna have such little free time .. so it’ll be interesting doing an entire move in the middle of it. Even my prof said, “I hope this course is behind you before the move!”… whoops… guess we’ll see how it goes, haha. (It’s an online course for those that are confused about how that will work).

After returning from Hal’s bridal shower, on May 7th, I paid my speeding ticket, unpacked and did laundry. For dinner I made us this curried seafood mix of calamari, shrimp, and scallops with jasmine rice and naan bread.

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On May 8th I started the morning with oatmeal, a Cutie clementine, Shakeology protein powder, and Fage with my coffee.

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For lunch, we didn’t have much in the way of groceries but I whipped up my new favorite omelette combo: egg whites, artichoke hearts, vegan mozzarella cheese, and garlic powder with pink Himalayan sea salt & hummus on the side. YUM!

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And guess what?! Remember how Alexandra and I wanted to go to that Italian restaurant in SF, but they had no openings the evenings we were there? Well— our calendars aligned so we made reservations for that afternoon! Around 2:30 pm we met at my apartment, and I drove us into the city to (finally) try out Cotogna.

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I absolutely loved the interior- it was so warm & cozy and you could see the whole wood fire burning stove.

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So the item on my bucket list was the Raviolo with farm egg & brown butter.

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^^ Yes, that beauty!!! This ravioli was massive & sooo stinkin’ amazing. Did you all ever make buttered Cheerios as a kid? They were the ultimate treat for us growing up! This dish was reminiscent of that in flavor… but the cheese and quality of pasta took that nostalgic flavor to spectacular and exquisite heights. I had to leave a nibble for DJ, so I took a little home for him to try along with a dish of his own- the Agnolotti del plin. He said he preferred the Raviolo, but that both dishes were incredible.

Afterwards, we had to satisfy our sweet tooth. We headed to Mitchell’s, a place on the bucket list. They are known as one of the best places for ice cream in the entire Bay Area!

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I ordered a combo of chocolate caramel crackle per Alexandra’s suggestion & Ube.

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The Chocolate caramel crackle is some of the best darn ice cream flavors I have ever had!!! Gosh. I get why it’s known for being famous- & I was soo glad Alexandra suggested it. The Ube was fine- I haven’t been a huge fan of Ube the couple of times I have tried it– it’s just too plain Jane for me.

I always so love my time with Alexandra. Can’t wait for her and her hubby to join us in Austin- right, girlfran?! 😉

On the morning of May 9th, I rummaged through the freezer to find a frozen banana, a dragonfruit pack and then threw on some PB and chocolate chips.

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I caught up on e-mails, etc. that I missed over the weekend and got around to some other to-do list items.

For dinner I made us BBQ’d tempeh, peppers, corn, & white rice. It was pretty delish & high in proteins, so very filling!

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In the evening I took a bath to just veg out after such a busy few days.

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on May 10th DJ and I had a fun day leading into a full weekend of us just hanging out! I went for a run in the morning, caught up on some blogging, and then we headed to Shake Shack.

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Neither of us had been before, but we were so pleased with the whole experience!

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You order via an electronic system- introverts rejoice.

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It took a loooooong time for our food to be ready, but they were super busy.

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DJ tried their burger- his thoughts: It is a good, solid burger, but he still way prefers In-n-Out’s.

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I could not resist their limited time Game of Thrones milkshake! It was a peppermint shake with candied toffee that made up “dragon glass”- soooo yummy.

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DJ also loved their chocolate shake. Next time we want to try their mixers- we loved our Culver’s concrete mixers when we lived in IN. The fries were decent- good to dip in the shakes of course- but the best fries are forever from Steak & Shake. In the evening I did some grocery shopping and we finished up Ozark (the second season kinda dragged in my opinion-but still excited for the third).

May 11th, I whipped up some black bean brownies to have for the week. I just finished the last of them today. I actually have been having them with my oatmeal, smoothies, or toast for breakfast to get my little chocolate fix!

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After a morning run, DJ and I headed into the city to try out Nopa in the early afternoon. We lucked out with parking right on the corner!

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This place’s menu changes each month- but they always have one famous item on their menu- the Custard French Toast.

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We ordered that and the brioche cinnamon roll with strawberries, kumquats, and guava cream cheese frosting and a pomegranate mimosa to pair with them.

After ordering, we sat back to enjoy the ambiance of the place- it had almost an industrial feel with a wide open space and two floors, but somehow maintained a warm energy about it.

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First up- the cinnamon roll! The flavor burst in each bite of this was real. The guava cream cheese frosting is something I could eat by the spoonfuls- it was outstanding.

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Now, time for custard french toast! Y’all this lived up to every bit of the hype. I could not get over how delicious this was.

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I tried to get some syrup pouring pics, but the distance of the food on my portrait mode messed with my spatial perception, and I ended up pouring it on the table instead. We had a good laugh at it after my initial embarrassment.

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In the evening, we were craving Mexican, but nowhere around us serves crunchy tacos (the kind DJ prefers)- so I whipped us up a whole spread! I haven’t done this since my mom and Pete were here back in August, although you know I make the tacos alone all time.

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I put out salsa con queso and regular salsa with hint of lime tortilla chips and plantain chips, DJ’s regular tacos, and my vegan tacos (in the bowl) with lettuce wraps (I LOVE the refreshing crunch of a lettuce wraps for tacos topped with tons of Tabasco and Fage as “sour cream”). I also made my mom’s marg. recipe. Such a winning meal.

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On the morning of May 12th, we brunched round 2 at Stein’s! This was my last free weekend before being buried in school work, so we took full advantage, can ya tell?

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I ordered their vegan hash with mushrooms, tofu, tons of seasoning, and potatoes. It definitely needed salt- but with salt & enough hot sauce it was pretty good. Don’t think I’d order it again because I could probably make this at home, but it was worth the try. The little baguette pieces were yummy- but they could have maybe given a couple more.

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Now, this was the star of brunch! This stack of pancakes consisted of blueberry pancakes with mascarpone cheese & some delicious syrup.

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Aaaand I got that syrup pour picture to redeem myself from the prior day’s fiasco 😉

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Personally, these are my favorite pancakes I have ever tried in the area. The mascarpone cheese cuts the sweetness perfectly. They were the perfect balance of fluffy without being too dense and heavy.

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After doing some chores in the afternoon, we decided to take a late afternoon hike at one of our BL hike places- Sanborn County Park.

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^ Take note. hahah.

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This is such a little gem of a spot. There were so many families enjoying the sunny afternoon and campers galore.

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The forest was so quiet and serene.

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Going into my most intense semester yet, this was the perfect type of balanced weekend to explore, rest, eat fantastic foods and spend some great quality time with DJ.

Question for you:

  • Where do you go to get your favorite burger/fries?

xo <3

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Halston’s Bridal Shower Festivities!

Hi, All! Happy Monday to you. I am actually putting the finishing touches on this on Sunday– I have a couple posts in my drafts that I wrote before starting school. This semester is going to be a true doozy…the free time is going to be basically nil with the move & traveling for the wedding on top of it all. Sooo, I may be somewhat MIA for a few months. Although, blogging is incredibly therapeutic for me, and it gives me something to look forward to… so hopefully I can prioritize it in some way even if it is not as frequent.

Also, I published my sister’s Graduation post, but WP didn’t release it on on the main Reader for some reason. In case your interested I have it linked here 🙂

After we arrived back in Cleveland, I picked up a rental car at the airport since I would be buzzing around like a bee all weekend separate from my Mom and Pete.

My first stop was my friend Rachel’s to pick up some supplies I had shipped in for the shower. I only very briefly got to see her since I had a long to-do list, but we had plans Sunday together to look forward to.

Next up was Staples (do you believe it? hehe). I ordered the bridal shower sign for pick-up in OH while I was sitting in CA, which was a bit odd, but it went off without a hitch. I walked in and was able to pick it right up!

Right after, I went about a half mile down the road to Aldi. A few of you know I was obsessed with Aldi when I lived in Indiana. I have missed it, and I can’t tell ya how stoked I was to return! I had to pick up all the groceries for the shower and this was the best and most affordable way to do it.

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I put my quarter in the slot (Thanks, Pete! He lent me a quarter because I realized I didn’t have one on me before we left the rental car lot) and was off to get my groceries. I got tons of fruit, veggies, chips, salsa, etc. etc. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t just casually grocery shopping for DJ and me. There was way more I could have bought if I was actually loading up on a regular food haul!

I spent the evening with one of my best friend’s, Clair, and her beautiful little family. She has the sweetest little boy, Jacob, and a newborn angel named Layla.

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I mean- can you handle his cuteness?! I already miss him oh so much. I spent probably half of my time there playing tag with him around the dining room table, haha.

I food prepped all evening while we gabbed away. I relish my time with her & I’m just so proud of her and the beautiful life she has built.

In the morning around 7:00 am we went to Planet Fitness. I had a great run & did a little weight workout. Perfect start to the day. The vibe at Planet Fitness is really great. If you are looking for a gym membership, their’s is super affordable & the whole experience genuinely makes you wanna go to the gym!

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While driving to my brother’s house to set up (My sister-in-law and bro graciously lended their home for the shower!), I got a gosh darn speeding ticket. My first ever. I was soo upset. I was going a teeeny bit fast, but I was A. in a rental car and B. going down hill on C. An open country road (where the speed limit was way lower than I thought) when I was clocked. Also, the officer was driving when they clocked me with the radar- I have never heard of that, but I guess they can do that? I thought they had to be stationary. Anyways, I know I deserved a ticket- I know there are truly no excuses- but it definitely set back my timeline and is an annoying expense. HUM-BUG.

Now putting that ticket out of mind, onto allll the good stuff 🙂 Once I finally arrived I had to get into set up mode fast. I unloaded my separate suitcase filled with decorations that I checked on my flight and got to work.

First up, the “Staples” sign! The download from Etsy was only $5, so I only had to pay for the printing and foam board.

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Then I set up decor around the home with my sweet niece and nephew helping me out. I wish I could have spent more time with them directly that weekend, but the little time I did get to see them was treasured <3

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And now, the fooooood!!!! First up, an anchor with the veggies…

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A palm tree with fruit….

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And since it was Cinco de Mayo, we had to add a little Mexican flair! My mom made her famous corn and avocado salad and we served them in little margarita cups I ordered from Oriental Trading company.

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I was going to make Taco pizza from scratch, but I was pretty exhausted Saturday and on top of everything else to prep, I figured an ordered pizza would probably turn out better anyways! I found a place a quarter mile away, called A Slice Above, that delivered a pizza called “South of the Border”— (perfect for the 5th!)–it included Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese with diced onions, green peppers, black olives, and seasoned ground beef, all covered with a zesty salsa sauce. They had a vegetarian option I opted for too. Since the shower started at 1 pm, I had them delivered at 12:30 and just hid the boxes 😉

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My mom also made some absolutely scrumptious crab nachos!!! A couple of her good friends came to help with food setup too- sooo appreciated!

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Oh, and you can’t forget sweets 🙂 The little blue and white sour circles reminded me of life rafts (and sour gummy candy is my sister’s favorite). I also included cookie sandwiches, raspberry cheesecake bites, Hersey kisses, and cake pops. I ordered the cake pops from Etsy- they were delivered to my SIL’s house a couple days before the shower & were in perfect shape. Everyone raved about how good they were too (they were red velvet- one of my sister’s favorite flavors). I tried to stick to her colors of nautical blue and I thought the gold dusted ones looked like sand.

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For drinks my mom made her famous margaritas in two different flavors & we also had Virgin margaritas, diet coke, coke, and water.

All the guests started arriving! We chit-chatted and caught up with people we hadn’t seen in years! After, we all ate lots of food & then sat around to open up gifts! Kate, our niece, was adamant that she wanted to help open the gifts with Hal. Too cute– although we did have to make sure she didn’t cut herself on any pizza cutters! We played bridal bingo and a true/false game about her and Kevin (her fiancé). The games went really well! I chose not to do the charades because we spent a good chunk of time mingling (just as I was hoping 🙂 ). We had one tie with the true/false game, so I was glad I packed an extra gift bag !

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Everyone watching Hal open her gifts!

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After the gift opening we made sure to grab some pics. Can’t believe my baby Sis is getting married. So happy for her. I could not think of anyone more perfect for her either! PS. I threw a color on for the shower. Are you proud? In the Bay area we only really wear neutrals, so going back to the Midwest I figured I’d spice it up a bit..

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And I just loveee this picture of my Aunt, Sister, and Grandma.

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Sistas sistas!! This is my sister Andrea on the far right. I’ve mentioned her several times on the blog before, but she lives in Colorado so I don’t see her often. I call her my therapist because she’s so wise & we always have the best of “life” chats. That day, she helped me a tremendous amount. I don’t think everything would have been ready on time without her.

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We also couldn’t help but snag a quick selfie with one of my little sis by proxy (and also a bridesmaid!), Marissa. She is moving to NorCal in June! I wish we were staying, but since Hal is visiting in June hopefully the three of us can hangout more then too 🙂

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My Dad’s side of the family <3 Well, females anyway 🙂

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After everyone left we said our goodbyes, and I took some leftover pizza, veggies, and fruit back to Clair’s. Rach joined us!!! She brought my all time favorite dessert from back in OH- Gasoline Alley’s Carrot Cake (I mentioned a couple posts ago!). It was as stinkin’ delicious as ever!

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It was also so good to have some girl time. We all have been friends since sixth grade & it’s so easy to pick back up where we left off always.

Oh, and of course I had to include a picture of sweet Layla. I keep joking I might steal her. But am I joking? Be stillll my heart.

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My flight on the 6th was at 6 pm, so I had some time in the morning to sleep in, relax and get ready to go! I did run along the beautiful country roads before kicking it into pack-up mode.

Clair lives right next to horses. I felt so at home, since we lived somewhere similar when I lived there. Going back there grounds me, reminds me of what’s important in life & to find joy in the little things.

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O-H-…..!

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Once returning from my run I nibbled on some yogurt, fruit, and granola… and had two hefty cups of coffee to fuel up for my travel day!

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After returning my rental car, I flew out of CLE Hopkins with allll my snacks for the evening in tow.

Here is a small fraction of what I nibbled on on my flights. The combo of the cranberry almond KIND bar and greek yogurt was oh so satisfyin’!

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Aaand with that I landed back in CA late in the evening (around 11:30 pm). DJ picked me up & I was just elated to see him! I started missing OH as soon as I stepped down, but was happy to be back. We talk all the time how we think we’ll end up back there someday. I would bet we do one more move after Austin and then end up settling in OH. Just a prediction, of course will be determined greatly by DJ’s job, but we shall seeee!

Questions for you:

  • Favorite travel snacks?
  • Can y’all believe it’s almost SUMMER- where is this year going? Any vacation plans coming up?

xo <3

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Halston’s Graduation!

I am so excited to share this post!! A couple weekends ago, my baby sister, Halston, graduated from University of Cincinnati & I was so thankful I was able to watch her walk across the stage!!

Starting from the beginning…

On May 2nd, I ran six-ish miles before heading to the airport at 10 am to fly into OH for her graduation and also her bridal shower. DJ had to work all weekend, unfortunately, so couldn’t come along. He was missed somethin’ fierce <3 Anyway- I packed all my food for the travel day so I wouldn’t have to pay the exorbitant prices at the terminal. Since realizing you can take real food through security, it has been such a game changer! I just use my insulated lunch box and load it up with all the noms. Occasionally I do get stopped through security with it, but they always give the green light once they know what it is.

My go-to for the travels is a sweet potato, black bean burger, hummus, Fage, and whatever veggies might go bad that I can roast up and then throw in.

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They also had a See’s Candy kiosk that you know I could not resist. I also didn’t know what flavor I’d be in the mood later, so I just decided to get one of each (totally justified buying these since I packed the rest of my food). 😉

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On the plane itself I got hungry again so ate a Fage yogurt with PB2 (my neighbors were so confused what powdery substance I was pouring in there, haha). It is super high in protein so helps keep me full for a couple hours. I also nibbled on some popcorn and protein bars as well as raw veggies I had packed later on in the trip.

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I had a layover in Chicago (got delayed by about an hour as we always do there), and then finally arrived in Cincy around 9:30 pm. My mom picked up me and Pete- who arrived exact same time I did since he was delayed too- (love when that works out) & we headed to the cutest little Airbnb. Even after the long day of travel, I felt so wired. No matter what, I can never sleep the first night I change time zones. I read my book most of the night while occasionally thinking just mayyyybe I could fall asleep, but then 20 mins later of trying to snooze I’d just started reading again. I think I finally fell asleep around 6:30 am and maybe got an hour or hour and half of sleep total. Hello, insomnia. When I was in India I don’t think I slept for three days straight- time change and jet lag just really messes me the heck up.

On the morning of May 3rd, my mom so kindly went out and got us all coffee (BLESS HER). And y’allll this joe from Deeper Roots Coffee (a non for profit coffee company), was one of the best cafe au laits I’ve ever had. You know that super smooth first sip that just hits your soul? Every sip of this was just like that 😍 After chugging that down I felt like I was ready to face the day!

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Here is me, the beautiful smarty pants, and my momma! We got a picture before the humidity attacked. (And man did it attack! Lol).

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Aaaand guess where we were able to go to breakfast before graduation?! First Watch!!! This was my favorite breakfast spot before moving to CA, and I stinkin’ miss it! I was stoked when Hal suggested we go. Also, we saw this sign driving in– best billboard ever!

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We deemed it our Mother’s Day brunch since we wouldn’t be able to celebrate on the day of. We have grown so flexible with holidays over the years and it’s become fun to celebrate on our own watch! When you don’t have expectations, you can’t become frustrated- so we never set expectations and learn to “be like Gumby” as my mom has always reminded us growing up. The idea is to go with the flow when you can’t control things or make them fit into a certain peg & you’ll avoid a lot of frustration. The best of memories sometimes come in spontaneity and the originality of an experience (such as celebrating holidays on “non” holiday days 😉 ).

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Coming out of my contemplative dialogue- I see First Watch has added dairy free creamer! That’s fun!

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The boys split a platter of their million dollar bacon. I couldn’t help but capture the beautifully plated strips.

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Although the menu has an abundance of new items I would like to try, my stomach was off from the lack of sleep and travel, so I stuck to my tri-ed and true Tri-athlete–It hit the spot! Next time I’m orderin’ their salmon tzatziki toast and lemon blueberry quinoa pancakes. For now, I’ll continue to live through Kori’s awesome pics of her visits. Although, they do have them in Austin which makes me oh so happy!

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The graduation was held at Fifth Third Arena. I have never been to a graduation this massive before! Ha, I say that like going to graduations is like going to the movies. I’ve only been to maybe three other graduations in my life.

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We had a hard time finding a place, but Kevin, her fiancé, scoped out the room and found us the best seats in the house.

There were soo many graduates! There is truly something about the energy at a graduation that is thick with emotion, pride and hope. It’s like an inspiring, nostalgic, and bittersweet electric current is rippling through the entire room.

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Ahhh here she comes!!! You can easily spot her with her colorful sash for Latinos en acción.

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Cue the tears- no seriously, I’m tearing up again writing this, hah.. I’m soooooo stinking proud of her.

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She elegantly walked across the stage and didn’t fall! Woohoo! Go Sis!

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After we walked around the campus for pics. I love her cap- it totally embodies what she is all about. Oh, and for those wondering she graduated with two majors (NBD!)- International Business and Finance-and a minor in Spanish. She also got a full ride for law school and aspires become an immigration lawyer. Yes, she is a bossss lady, and I am ecstatic to see the way she continues to change lives in the best way.

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^^ The gorgeous couple! Gosh, I love um’!

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^The fam bam.

After we went to celebrate at Halston’s Favorite restaurant- The Cheesecake Factory! Ya can never have a bad meal here. The rest of Kevin’s family joined us too!

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My mom and I split their beet and avocado salad with glazed beets, avocado, fresh orange, arugula, and honey yogurt sauce and their salmon. Both were so scrumptious- the beet & avocado in particular was just such a lovely conglomeration of flavors. I wanna try to make this at home sometime!

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They even brought Hal her cheesecake with a “Congrats” on it. So sweet! We all enjoyed bites of various cheesecakes before heading out.

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On our way out we spotted this Cincinnati Bearcat and of course had to get a pic with Hal next to it!

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The whole familyyy! (Minus Deej). My hair was flat-out done by this point- flat being the operative word, haha.

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We all went back to the AirBnb and sat around the fire while listening to fascinating stories from Kevin’s parents from living in Peru, discussed the upcoming wedding,  laughed a lot, and even learned Bachata (a type of dance) from Kevin’s mom. I gotta practice a bit more before the wedding !

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That evening I slept so much better than the one before. I fell asleep listening to the audiobook of Where The Crawdads Sing. I love it so far!

In the morning of May 4th I went for a nice run around the area of Hyde Park. It was one of those runs that I think will stay with me. So much joy and excitement surrounded this weekend, and that run cemented those adrenaline filled emotions into my memory. The area was captivating and picturesque too. I especially adored the way the morning dew drops clung to these purple blooms.

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I had to stop several times to take in the seemingly illustrious home fronts and historic schools.

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Once we all returned and got ready for the day we were ready for some coffee & breakfast. We walked across the street to The BonBonerie Cafe- the cutest little french cafe I ever did see! They have a garden entrance for their main cafe and also an adjacent bakery. We had to stop in both, naturally.

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There is a special little area for tea time too. I saw moms coming in with their daughters all dressed up. It was adorable.

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Of course I got a cafe au lait. It was perfect. The two cafe au laits I had that weekend were two of the most memorably delicious– Cincy knows how to do their coffee!

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Next stop: Bridal shower!

The Bridal Shower took place in Strongsville, OH (close to Cleveland), so we drove that afternoon from Cincy to CLE (about three and a half hours).

Question for you:

  • Favorite Cheesecake Factory cheesecake flavor? Mine is probably their Oreo Dream X’treme. I love their tiramisu & vanilla bean too (I am usually anti-vanilla anything, but their vanilla is so creamy and delicious!).

xo <3

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John’s Grill & Final Bridal Shower Touches!

Happy Monday Friends!! Hope all you beautiful mommas had a wonderful day yesterday!!! Y’all are rockstars! I so wish we could have celebrated with our own today– they are truly the most incredible women we know <3

DJ had a long weekend, and we’ve been trying to make the most of it since I start my next semester this week. I am hoping to catch up on posts to present day. I’ve got on NYC Housewives on in the background to keep me company (judge away, lol).

Hur. we. goooo.

On April 26th, I went on a walk in the morning after catching up on some blogs with breakfast and answering e-mails.

44c1119c-16c1-4617-ad25-632d6d3f3d14-1In the afternoon I picked up the final templates from Staples. Here is a preview of the spread- her invitation, bridal shower bingo, and True or False questions about her and her fiancé! I also had wedding movie charades, but wasn’t sure how feasible that would be with space and people moving around. I know when I go to these things I like to just chat and eat, hah.

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So, somewhat funny story- I was at a table with a couple third-grade girls after they finished up their homework, and they were trying to decide what to draw. I asked them what they were doing for Spring Break and one of the girls said going to the beach, so I suggested drawing the beach they imagined. The other girl turned to her and said very seriously, “Make sure to put trash in the ocean so it’s realistic”. I couldn’t help but giggle (although I recognize the seriousness of the issue), but I was sooo taken aback by this third graders concern for the environment. At least they’re learning young!

In the evening, DJ had to work, but I was still excited to enjoy some quiet time at home. Any semblance of down time is about to be a very foreign concept. I decided to make wine from a “Make Your Own Wine” kit we received for Christmas! I had been saving it for a date night, but since we are moving soon (and it takes four weeks to ferment) I figured I should get started so we don’t have to lug it all the way to Texas with us. I put on a podcast and got to work!

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It was a lot of fun to make, although I’m not sure I did it 100% correctly. I couldn’t get the bag of fruit open at the suction cap, so I used a knife- pretty sure that broke sterile field. Oh well! On May 10th, I clarified the wine and in two weeks I will bottle it! This is a great gift- I’m realllly excited to see how it turns out!

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On April 27th I was invited to a food shoot by John’s Grill– one of the oldest restaurants in SF established in 1908. It actually is considered “Home of The Maltese Falcon“— the setting of the novel written by Dashiell Hammett. I’ve never read this literary piece, but after visiting the restaurant I’m adding it to the list. If you’d like to read more about its history and the famous patrons that have visited the restaurant see this link. 🙂

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I went with my friend from my nursing cohort, Cynthia, who lives in the city! You may remember when I last met up with her for some of the best pizza of my life in Noe. Anywho, when we entered the manager kindly walked us over to our seats. Since the meal is complimentary, there is a preset menu of their favorite items! I love this because it helps greatly with my indecision. They did say if there was anything else on the regular menu we wanted to try to let them know which was incredibly generous.

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They even gave us a little keychain gift to take home (it’s in the black bag!).

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We decided on their Private Label Cabernet. At tastings like this usually we get a glass- but this time they gave us the whole bottle! I was excited to take it home to have DJ try some too because it was phenomenal cabernet…Easily some of my favorite house wine I’ve tried!!

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Since there was an option for each course, we opted to each try one of each dish. For starters was Jack Lalanne’s Favorite Salad with seasonal greens, crab, shrimp, avocado, mushrooms and tomatoes tossed in their famous creamy bleu cheese vinaigrette dressing.

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WOW. That salad was fresh as can be!!! The seafood to the avocado was all just bursting with flavor.

And this clam chowder was maybe our favorite of all the food (dessert in a separate category of its own 😉 ). It had a bit of a kick which is a huge plus for a spice-lover like myself. Mmm mm!

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Cynthia tried their New York Steak. It was perfectly done to order.

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I tried a little bite with their peppercorn sauce and their bearnaise sauce… both wonderful accompaniments too.

For my main dish I had the Petrale amandine with sliced almonds and sweet butter sauce. Oh my goodness this was delicious!!! It had a bit too much butter for my personal preference, but the flavor was tremendous and the lemon helped cut the thickness of the butter. I still think the Petrale I had at Alfred’s was better, but this steakhouse overall I prefer.

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The dessert also took the cake!!! (or shall I say cheesecake). Holy. stinking. smokes. This may be my favorite dessert from a restaurant I’ve ever had. The only contenders from another restaurant are the Carrot Cake from Gasoline Alley (A home staple in Ohio that I don’t think anything will ever beat) and the desserts we had in Florida at Il Mulino.

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I have had a craving for really good cheesecake lately, and this 100000% satisfied it. This is as close to legit NY Cheesecake as it comes.

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Now, for this chocolate mousse torte– gooodness gracious- so light, yet rich, decadent, indulgent, and luxuriously delicious.

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We also took a little tour around their upstairs floors where they host parties.

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The history and elegance is enough to make you swoon!

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Such a lovely and delicious meal! Thank you, John’s Grill, for hosting us!

Before heading home I spent some time on the Embarcadero- probably my favorite place to just “be” in the City. I tried to soak up every moment. <3

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On April 29th, I went to Marine Layer on Santana Row in order to participate in their T-shirt exchange Respun program! Thank you tons, Emily for the info! If you turn in 5 shirts, you get $25 of credit in return. It was easy peasy. I was in and out within probably 3 minutes.

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On April 30th I finished getting gifts for the bridal shower. Since it’s a nautical theme I included Mermaid Crunch Popcorn, a water bottle, tropical gummies, and a candle for the game winners (thank you all for your suggestions!). All this is from TJ’s and the candles are from Target!

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For dinner I made purple sweet potato, tofu curry, Fage, and cinnamon.

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Aaaand as promised, I made DJ my homemade chicken curry he loves with jasmine rice and the naan bread from Trader Joe’s.

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Since I was going to be leaving for Ohio, I wanted to make sure DJ had enough in the fridge for the weekend so I made him some healthy pasta to have along with the chicken curry and enough naan bread and rice to feed an army.

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I went on a little walk in the morning of May 1st and loved how these flowers cascaded over the walkway.

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In the afternoon, I made a sweet potato with beets, artichoke hearts, and Fage to enjoy before packing to leave the next day for Cincinnati.

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I’ll recap my sister’s graduation & her shower in the next post!

Questions for you:

  • What is the best, most memorable dessert you’ve ever had (can totally be your own/ a family recipe!).

PS. I am SOOO mad at Dany in GOT. I won’t post spoilers, but if you watched this episode- leave me your thoughts in the comments. I am not about the way she “handled” things.

xo <3

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Kaya Toast & Angel Island!

**I wrote this last Thursday and forgot to publish it- so here it is now!**

Hey friends! I am writing this post from about a million miles in the air. I’m not going to try to estimate exactly how many miles…I have a weirdly comical inability to estimate distance/measurement of any kind. One time I ordered wedding portraits our first year of marriage for a Christmas gift for my in-laws and accidentally ordered a portrait the size of a fireplace. Not. Exaggerating. It was the same size as the fireplace. I cannot be trusted when it comes to numbers.

So, yeah, I’m in an airplane and on Cloud 9- quite literally! I have everything checked off my what seemed endless “to-do” list leading up to this weekend & just caught up on reading posts! A little behind the scenes: I opened up all the new posts to read while I had WIFI on the ground and then am writing my comments in a Word document. When I land & have WIFI again I’ll just copy and paste um’ to the comment section. My favorite way to pass the time on flights 🙂

I downloaded episodes of The OA to get started on, but am in the mood to write at the moment. Traveling makes me extremely productive. I love that there is nothing else vying for your attention- especially when you’re in the air and disconnected from the world- you literally cannot do anything else except what you have right in front of you! And on this flight where I’m squeezed in the middle of two strangers I literally hope I don’t sneeze because I will elbow the person next to me on accident. Also, I hope they aren’t reading this because that’d be awkward?! Oh well!

So after our wonderful Easter (the last one in SF- hard to believe!), the following Monday April 22nd I reset for the week. Since my semester was officially done I had to get to those “back burner” items … you know, the ones that can wait but need to be done at some point: I called our prospective apartment complex to get on a wait-list, worked on stuff for the shower, made lists of what we need to do before moving, cleaned out my car, tried to sign up for the Boston Marathon (I’m having such an issue figuring out the application process- if someone has done it please let me know! It’s so confusing & I can’t seem to actually find a formal registration place or someone I can get in touch with—their customer service line doesn’t lead anywhere and I only get automated e-mails back)… anyways you get the picture.

In the afternoon of the 22nd I went on a little walk (my favorite way to just clear my head as of late- maybe even more than running *gasps from the crowd in the back*). I just loved these beautiful truly vibrant blooms!

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These ones are practically neon!

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Let’s see.. On Tuesday April 23rd, I made DJ some pepper jack stuffed chicken with jasmine rice and corn. I made some vegetarian Indian for myself with jasmine rice and tandoori naan from TJs. DJ had some, but said he preferred his chicken (fine– more veggie curry for me 🙂 ). He also is used to my chicken curry I make for him, so I promised I’d make it sometime soon!

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Wednesday April 24th …. well, I have no pictures, so either I was busy with hum- drum things or I disappeared into a black hole. Who knows.

Thursday April 25th was eventful though!! I woke up around 8, ran outside (it was a glorious morning). Then around 10:30 am my friend Alexandra from my nursing cohort met at our apartment. We took my car into the City (ya know I love driving into the City like a real weirdo)… First stop was BreadBelly. They have a few menu items I discovered through the ol’ I-G that I was itchin’ to try.

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We walked in and to our surprise there was no line, even though it was close to lunch time when we arrived. The place was immaculate. I’m trying to get that YELP elite status, so I wrote a review and will just share it here to give ya the low down. Definitely am going back ASAP!

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I couldn’t finish all the Kaya Toast so I saved it to have again in the morning (and had a cooler with me like I do every time I do when I go into the city so nothing goes to waste)!

We took the Ferry over on the Blue & Gold Fleet located at Pier 41. It was easy-peasy lemon squeezy finding it all. Important note: they do have a specific departure schedule, so it’s important to plan out your day rather than try to catch a Ferry last minute. I was glad we did a bit of research before rather than just winging it.

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The ride over was a bit bumpy, but the views were sooo incredible along the way. We saw some huge homes perched onto an Island in the distance and tried to figure out how they would get their groceries there or what they would do if they ran out of toilet paper.

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When we arrived we could not stop talking about how absolutely gorgeous this island was!! I honestly had no idea what to expect with it; I only knew it was a place on the bucket list I made months ago that we decided would be a fun spot to cross out for the day. Mainly this island is known for its nod to history & awesome hiking.

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Being a couple of nurses, something we both found incredibly fascinating was the fact that it was used to quarantine those with contagious diseases like smallpox, plague, and cholera.

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We went inside the tourist area and read up on some more history. All so interesante!

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Then we took off for our hike! It’s so nice because the hiking begins as soon as you step foot off the Ferry. You don’t have to take a cab or taxi to any spots- you just choose your path and get going!

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The views, the views, the views! This might be one of the most beautiful places you could go in the Bay. We couldn’t stop talking about how breathtaking it was at every turn. Of course, the pictures cannot do justice.

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