Savings September In Review

Hey everyone! I have a little different type of  post today. As some of you may know DJ and I have an annual tradition of doing a lil’ something we call Savings September. We have noticed that summers tend to make a big ole’ dent in the spending arena, so every September we use to refocus, re-establish good habits, and look for ways to be smarter about spending, especially leading up to the holiday season. We don’t want this to be limited to September either- the goal is that by creating these conscientious, yet practical, habits we will be able to take what we have learned and apply it to each month thereafter.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to make a post initially; I never have in the past. However, this year was particularly successful, and a few of you have expressed interest in ways we have saved! SO without further adieu, here are some little easy tips and tricks that helped us save 42% of what we spent in August. Yes-42%!!! Something we predominately learn each time we do this is the little expenses and choices add up!

1.Limiting Eating Out.This one is probably not a big surprise that it’d be a saver & it didn’t mean we never ate out. Basically, we limited our eating out to either social hangouts with friends or date nights together. I tried to be diligent about prepping more and making sure there was something DJ and I could easily have for lunch rather than him buying lunch every day at work. This used to be a routine for us, but it definitely fell through the cracks through the summer. Feels good to be back in the swing!

 

2. Limiting Coffee Out. I definitely still had my Peet’s <3… but I used up old gift cards with a couple dollars sitting on them here and there at various coffee shops. I tried to only go to Peet’s once or twice a week when the school load was extra heavy and ordered a small most times.

3. Groceries. This is probably where we saved the most. I tried to use up every little thing we had in the pantry/freezer/fridge before going back to the store. I would create meals surrounding what we already had. For example, I knew we had fish in the freezer, so I would go get rice and a veggie to “fill in” a meal with what we needed to use up. I also tried to be attentive to making the wisest decision among choices. For instance, usually when I get tomatoes, I don’t pay too much mind to the couple cent difference between the Roma and the cherry tomatoes. But when you opt for the cheaper one and apply that mindset to every item you are buying over weeks, months, years it really adds up- especially on things that you don’t mind a slight difference. Oh, and buying the on sale in season fruits makes a HUGE difference too- and taste better!

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4. Skipping on the non-essentials. I loveee myself some carbonated bevies, especially “ICE” waters. But the thing is, they ain’t cheap when you buy them often! I always throw in a couple bottles when I’m at the store along with some gum from the cash register- but with how frequently I chew gum, it just isn’t a wise investment and a habit that needed some breaking. Rather than buying ICEs, we bought 3 large packs of Bubbly water for $10 and stopped buying gum entirely. I do have mints in need of freshening up my breath on the go though. Not only has this saved monetarily, but I no longer even crave the ICEs or gum. This doesn’t mean I won’t grab a pack here or there, but I don’t have the desire for a piece of gum every hour of the day.

5. Poshmark!!! I sold quite a bit on Poshmark this past month, and then had credit in my account available with the sales. I noticed I needed new face-wash, but my favorite face-wash that I discovered through Fab Fit Fun costs around $34. Ugh! That’s how they get you. I decided to check Poshmark to see if I could find some for cheaper. I negotiated for two bottles that would be about 1/2 of the price using the Poshmark credit. Score! It makes me wonder what other items I can find on there.

6. Being cognizant of saving electricity. I have a bad habit of keeping lights on going room to room (It drove my mom nuts growing up). We have both been extra diligent in making sure to turn lights off upon leaving a room and when we leave the house. It’s a great habit we have developed, and now it would bother me to keep them on and leave.

7. Buying in Bulk. At some point I noticed we were running low on some cleaning supplies, toilet paper and other essentials. I remembered I had received a coupon from Bed Bath and Beyond to get $20 off $80 spent. I bought all the stuff that we needed (including a couple fall candles-  autumn necessities 😉 ) all online. We are stocked up on tons of cleaning supplies, a new shower liner we desperately needed, dishwashing soap, and toilet paper for way cheaper if I had bought them at a regular grocery store. The delivery also came with 2 $60 gift-cards towards HelloFresh. Also, at Target you will sometimes see if you buy a certain number of items, you can get a $5 gift-card back. I always try to stock up on laundry detergent and household essentials when I see those promos going on. Right now if you get a flu shot at CVS affiliated with Target- you can also get a $5 giftcard to Target (just call before you go to make sure they are doing the promotion). But get yo flu shot, peopleeee!

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8. Using Cosmetics I already Have. I don’t know about you, but I have a bunch of little “samples” sitting around of makeup, shampoo, body wash, etc. Rather than just buying something new when I ran out of something, I gathered up all my samples and have been using everything up. Those little samples go a long way! Not only have I discovered some products I really like along the way, but I am clearing up space in the cabinet too. Oh! And I’ve started using olive oil to remove makeup- it works wonders and is so gentle- no more needing to buy makeup remover!

9. Having fun, restful weekends at home. I love to be busy and plan, plan, plan. But even seemingly cheap plans can become expensive, especially around here- you’ve got unexpected parking expenses, food, gas money, etc.. Not having a ton of weekend plans reminded me how important (and fun) just a weekend at home is for rest & rejuvenation. I also was able to get ahead on some school projects, so that always feels good! Oh, and DJ definitely needed the time to breathe now that the season has ended. I’m excited to plan some lax dates this month when we carve pumpkins, watch Halloween movies, make homemade wine together, practice baking soufflés, and have picnics with the lovely autumn weather!

10. Mint. This financial management app is incredible. It is super easy to use and understand. Being conscious of where every dollar goes, seeing our budget clearly, and having alerts when we are about to go over a set budget has been tremendously helpful in being good stewards of our money.

We also have some other just general saving tips that we have used for a couple years or gained over past Savings Septembers:

  • We love Groupon . This is where we get some restaurant deals & most of our hotel deals  (along with Orbitz to collect Orbitz bucks!)- always make sure to get points or rewards for your travels! It’s a free night in a hotel or a free plane ride eventually. I also have accounts with hotel.com & booking.com for when they have the cheapest comparative rates.
  • Installing Wikibuy into your Internet toolbar is a big saver! Every time you are about to make a purchase, Wikibuy will scour the internet for coupon codes, deals, promos, etc. and automatically apply it to your order if it finds one. You also get money back many times and can use that toward other purchases.
  • Sometimes I like to peruse Coupons.com before making a purchase to see if there are any coupons for something I may need too.
  • I have subscribe and save on Amazon for certain things we rebuy every few months- like shavers and Swiffer refills. This saves 5% for each purchase, and we would buy that stuff every couple months anyways- so why not save 5%?

As you can see, a lot of the savings do not come from really any novel ideas, but simply being conscious of each purchase. Hope this was somewhat helpful for someone! If you have any tips and tricks I’d LOVE to hear them too! Have a beautiful week, everyone 🙂

xo <3

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All the Cheese Please!!!

Hey everyone! This past week was really solid- just an overall great week. Saturday the 29th, I woke up feeling much better. Still not 100% up to par, but overall better (at least I could move!). It was sooo nice to have DJ home; we just lazed around while I worked on a school project, and DJ worked on apps. The applications are going to be submitted soon- prayers would be greatly appreciated! This decision will affect where we live and just our trajectory in life in general. It’s a biggun’. I never really feel anxious about these “huge” life decisions anymore because God has proven so faithful time and time and time and time again- even things that seem terrifying end up being some of the greatest (and formative) adventures- taking us to people, experiences and places we couldn’t imagine our lives without.

Okay enough sap, time to get to the sub!

I have wanted to try a dutch crunch sammy for a long time… it’s a type of bread that is pretty famous in certain places around the Bay. One of DJ’s favorites is Ike’s! He’s had it several times at work, but I have never tried one before. We had one right down the road and since I wasn’t feeling up for making dinner we decided to head there and knock something off the BL.

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Doesn’t Deej make a cute Ike? Hahah.

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The menu is massive, and they have an abundance of vegan options (so you know I was terribly indecisive).  When we were ordering the cashier asked if I would like sourdough bread, DJ said my eyes got super wide, almost in horror, when I said, “Oh no! Dutch Crunch!”. He said it was the most dramatic bread order ever. He ribbed me about that for quite some time after, haha. Look, I’m serious about my dutch crunch!

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Since I was eager to get home and cozy up in my warm blankets, we decided to take our food back.

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And this is what the lovely dutch crunch looks like!

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I ordered the “Sometimes I’m a Vegetarian” (quite a mouthful, huh) which had grilled mushrooms, marinated artichoke hearts, pesto and vegan provolone.

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It was super yummy- I give the dutch crunch a big ole’ two thumbs up!

DJ ordered his go-to- the Menage a Trois- a popular sandwich here. This has BBQ Sauce, Cheddar, Halal Chicken, Honey Mustard, Pepper Jack, Real Honey, and Swiss.

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In the evening after getting some energy from Ike’s I decided I should try to get some fresh air after being cooped up for a couple days. I went for a short walk around the neighborhood, and saw this Lime scooter. These are everywhere right now. You can use an app on your phone, activate the scooter, ride it anywhere, then just leave it. Welcome to the Silicon Valley!

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In the morning of the 30th, I tried to get up early for church but still wasn’t 100% and we had big plans in the afternoon. DJ said to just sleep a little extra and that sleep made alll the difference. I chugged some vitamin C and echinacea, then got ready for the day. I had a slice of avocado when I woke up then we met back at the apartment around 11.

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Time to represent our home team!! Gooo CLE! DJ’s birthday is this weekend (October 6th), but to celebrate his birthday all he wanted was to go to this game. I gave him the tickets a couple weeks earlier to make sure he didn’t have to work this game day.

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Right before getting to the game at noon(ish), I ate a salad I packed for the road to save on the $15 stadium meals (and since we wanted to get dinner after) & packed a No Cow bar for midday snacking.

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We heeerreeee!

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The energy was just spectacular!!!

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NFL games are such a blast, and we loved every second (despite having a few hot/cold flashes & then witnessing the end when the Browns lost- womp womp). Happy early birthday, Deeeej!

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After the game we were starvin’. Since we were in Oakland, we realized we were close to a place we’ve been wanting to try- a famous mac and cheese spot called Homeroom. What better way to cope with a heartbreaking loss? We put ourselves on the Waitlist on YELP and hungrily headed to the restaurant.

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It’s set up with a school house feel- so cute with many small little touches.

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While DJ was standing in line for the bathroom I couldn’t help but entertain myself.

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And now— for some next level mac and cheese!!!

Like I said, we were hungry— so we ordered three. First, the Gilroy Garlic (with added breadcrumbs). Gilroy is a city near us that is known for their garlic. If you drive through the city you can actually smell the garlic! I couldn’t resist when I saw this on the menu, and it was my favorite of the three (especially after I lathered it with some hot sauce)!

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Next: The Jalapeno Popper! Gosh, this one was great too. This was DJ’s favorite. I loved the spice and flavor combo of this one. It was a close second.

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And last, the vegan mac and cheese. I will say- this is a tasty mac and cheese IF you haven’t tried the other two. It’s delicious in its own right- and definitely tastes like cheese- but it has nothing on the garlic and jalapeno.

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You are what you eat— and I am mac(k) & very cheesy #selfawareness. I know- It’s all a bit much to swallow, but also pretty darn grate. I couldn’t brielieve how delicious this meal was. No way you could feel blue after downing some of this goudaness.

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And for dessert- their large oreo!

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We returned home, did some laundry, and watched Dexter the rest of the evening. It’s getting to be a bit much! Season 6 is too disturbing- if it doesn’t settle down soon, we may need to find something else- I find myself covering my eyes and squirming through so much of the episode. I’m hoping it’s just this case they’re working on, we will see. But we just love our Dex! the struggle..

Anyways, it was just a wonderful day!

On Monday October 1st, I read & ran some then met up with my friend Kim from church at Peet’s in Campbell. This was the prettiest Peet’s I have ever been to!

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The rest of the day was more just study, study, discussion boards, papers, Monday night football, then Dancing with The Stars! (A nice thing about being on the West Coast is DJ’s football usually ends right about when the 8:00 pm shows start!). Fall TV is the bestttt.

Tuesday October 2nd, I had some Ezekiel cinnamon toast with toasted coconut vanilla yogurt, apricot, and chopped walnuts with coffee for breakfast.

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I went on a nice run outside and noticed these neighbors added a tree right in front of the street on Floral Row? I have walked this street a thousand times, and never noticed this— I’m 85% sure it’s new. It’s like the tree has a vase?! Lol.

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This house amazes me with their green thumb- every year they have butternut squash that start popping up.

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And the cute little peaches are appearing all over the place now too.

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I finished up some tough assignments for the week this day, so that felt great.

In the evenings of this week, DJ and I have been having a rotation of grilled cheese and tomato soup, stuffed sweet potatoes, and for me- a massive salad. Unfortunately, he is fighting the cold now too, and mine is lingering just a bit. Needless to say, this meal has been hitting the spot. I make mine vegan his with regular cheddar (I even snuck in some leftover mac and cheese one of the nights which added a fun flavor!) too much cheese? nah. Too many carbs? no such thing.

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Yesterday, the 3rd, we just were in work mode all day. I did make a pit stop to get some groceries at TJ’s and Sprouts.

Questions for you!

  • Favorite mac and cheese? (It can totally be homemade too 😉 ).
  • Have an NFL team you love?

xo <3

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Friends, Flowers & Pizza!

I am desperately trying to keep up with my recaps to present time- I’ve been preferring whipping up somewhat shorter recaps rather than crazy long ones that won’t crash your computer– which do you prefer? Here we gooooo!

Tuesday September 25th, I had some oats with stevia, better n’ peanut butter and Fage for breakfast. I’ve been having this on repeat this past week; it’s like comfort food. The tang of the Fage mixed with the sweetness of the PB and crunch of the oats resembles dessert! (I have a feeling Kori subliminally influenced this combo ; ) ).

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I went for a lovely walk in the afternoon and found maybe one of the most gorgeous flowers I have seen yet on Floral Row as I have started calling it.

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I also received a delivery while I was “going to school” ….A bottle of #Besties wine from Trending Wine in Napa!!! You may remember this winery from when Kels and I visited. Take a look at that link if you want more details about it 🙂 I have never received a complimentary bottle from any winery like this; it was so kind & the best surprise! You are guaranteed laughs, fun and unforgettable memories if you decide to make the trip here. There is now has a spot in SF, so you know we’ll be tryin’ that out someday!

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After working up another appetite, I decided to have my stuffed purple sweet potato. Gosh, I wake up in the morning already thinking about when I can have this during my day. I crave it all the time.

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Unfortunately, at some point in the afternoon, I noticed my hair had a serious reddish/pink tint to it. Not that I have anything against pink hair- some people rock it so well- but when it’s not intentional and haphazardly pink, it can look a bit funky.

I had noticed it days earlier.. and DJ had too, but I thought maybe if I washed it again and toned it, it would be better… but it seemed to have gotten worse. I messaged my hair lady, and she said to come in the next day to get it fixed.

That evening I went to my friend Sara’s house to watch our show and catch up. I got to hang with Foxy again!!! I love when Sara is dog sitting this cutie <3

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I took my giant salad with me. I have started adding pita chips to my salad and it’s sooo good mixed with the hummus & adds a great crunch.

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Wednesday the 26th I had my hair fixed while catching  up on e-mails…. it still has a slight reddish tint to it at the roots, but nothing too noticeable unless you’re looking for it. She offered to go darker to get rid of it totally, but I don’t want to spend another hour in that chair or another cent or hurt my hair anymore. It’s just hair!!! I’m happier with it now, but I occasionally see the pinkish red. Hunida told me it’s perfect for autumn, and I love that way of thinking!

On Thursday the 27th I did an two intense 20 minute body workouts in the morning. I usually do Insanity on my archaic super slow laptop on which it’s downloaded, but DJ took the charger we share for that type of laptop out of town with him. I decided to try out the HITT routines our apartment has in the workout studio for the first time, and they were such a nice change! I will continue to work them into my weekly routine. I was soooo sore the next day.

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After, I could barely focus on my school assignments because I was so excited to get together with my closest friends from my Stanford neurosurg. cohort.

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We met at Pizza Antica and chowed down on some tasty pizza, shared a bottle of wine and caught up on each-others’ lives. It was my favorite night of the week and helped lift my spirits with DJ being out of town!

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I missed them soo much <3

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I had their bianca pizza (which isn’t technically on the menu- but it used to be- and they will still make it for ya!) & added mushrooms and arugula. Leave it to me to basically get a salad on top of pizza, lol.

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Friday the 28th, I officially came down with a cold. I could feel it coming on the day before right after my intense workout, but it went into full fledge I-can-barely-move mode Friday. I could barely walk from the soreness in my legs, but I also felt just so weak overall. I tried to wake up with some my new go-to breakfast and coffee, but still didn’t feel 100% after.

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After picking DJ up from the airport and hearing all about his trip, I worked on a couple quizzes and school assignments before having my stuffed purple sweet potato for lunch.

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He had a great time in Des Moines!! He said it was a charming city, and he would love to go back together.

In the afternoon, after DJ worked on grad school apps and I tried to get some work done, we then watched a few episodes of Dexter, because a whole week without Dex was near torture! #irony. We just had leftovers for dinner and headed to sleep pretty early.

And that about sums it up !!

Questions for you:

  • Have you ever been to Des Moines?
  • What’s your favorite type of workout or HITT routine?

xo <3

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Apparently… I Eat a lot of Green Cuisine!

Hey y’all– time for a little update, whaddya say? On Monday September 17th, I woke up early, looked at my new round of assignments for the week, headed to Peets and did school work with my packed snacks all day long. Obnoxiously large salad for dinner. Dexter in the evening. Same ole’ same ole’.

Tuesday September 18th, I woke up and immediately inhaled a buncha coffee and noshed down on a rice cake with Dannon’s vanilla yogurt, a sliced dried apricot, a couple raisins, and a chopped up walnut. Mmmm!

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I went for a nice run in the morning (I prefer long runs on Tuesdays because it’s when all the new episodes for the podcasts I listen to are released!).

There are so many fruit trees in this neighborhood. I just loved how this apricot tree was cascading over this fence. 🍑

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After making a dent in my schoolwork for the day and downing my massive salad, I decided to get creative with a dinner for DJ. I had tomato sauce, chicken, eggs, cheese, and leftover crackers.

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I crushed up our cracker crumbs to make bread crumbs, basted the chicken in some eggs and then put the cracker crumbs on top. I baked it in the tomato sauce and put cheese on top too. I told DJ I made chicken parm, since that’s what it most resembled. It felt good to use up those cracker crumbs that probably would have gone stale sitting in the pantry otherwise.

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I wasn’t home when he had it because I had already headed to SF to see A Simple Favor with my sister in Law, Amy. I was so excited when he said he loved the dish- it was definitely a shot in the dark without following any recipe.

I enjoyed a beautiful drive into the city. SF never gets old. I love the pastel colored apartments and the character on every street corner.

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The sunset was stunning too with contrast of the clouds. Hard to capture, but I gave it a go!

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I know I mentioned it in my FF post, but A Simple Favor was soo good. It’s a must see. Never have I ever seen anything quite like it.

Wednesday September 19th, I reverted back to my summer go-to of rice cake with avocado toast and hummus. And here we have green food #1.

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I had an interview in the afternoon for a new organization I’ll be volunteering with then made DJ ground turkey tacos for dinner! He’s not sick of the different takes on tacos just yet! Haha.

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I packaged them up so they would be ready for him when he got home.

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Thursday the 20th and Friday the 21st included more just cranking out school work, grabbing fill in groceries from TJ’s, and of course, cranking out more Dexter episodes right before going to sleep. However, we did have a wonderful date night on Friday night. We tried for the first time ….. GEORGIAN FOOD. Yes, food from the country of Georgia!

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This restaurant is called Bevri located in downtown Palo Alto. It has a large menu- although it’s quite a challenge pronouncing anything on it!

Luckily, it has black boards across the restaurant explaining what everything means,  what the menu items are, and how to eat them.

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They also have crayons on each table so you can draw on their paper tablecloths. Unfortunately, when we sat down we didn’t have any crayons. I was so tempted to steal some from another table- but our table was kinda small and we had to have a ton of room for all our food. ha! Anyways, if I had to give an overall definition of Georgian food I would say it is combined Chinese and Mediterranean food.

We started with eggplant rolls. They were pretty good! They are stuffed with a nutty spinach combo. I felt it could use a bit more flavor, but they were still refreshing.

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And the presentation was beautiful!

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I also had to try the khinkali with mushrooms. These are a lot like dumplings- and gosh freakin’ dang- they are delish! I have craved these since I tried them. Green food #2.

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Now for the star of the show- DJ ordered their must try Adjaruli which is a boat shaped bread boat with cheese, butter, and an egg. It’s freaking phenomenal. It’s like pizza… but even better. (Which I didn’t think was possible to say, because pizza is forever one of the greatest things on earth).

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Overall, it was a fantastic meal. The only thing I would say is if you go make sure to order all items to be delivered at the same time. I ordered essentially two appetizers as my full meal, but they were brought over a half an hour before DJ’s food came. My dumplings were a bit cold (but still good) by the time DJ got his food— although he did insist I didn’t wait on him– but I insisted right back that I would be sad when my food was gone and I would have to just watch him eat, so I waited. Anyone else just sad when you finish your food before the other person? Haha.

Saturday September 22nd both DJ and I had a run in the morning, but different lengths. DJ has been running a ton lately too!

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We walked out to the starting point together, but I decided a coffee sounded better than running for the time being. I found my SB cardholder card from 2014 (yes, four years ago) and discovered it still had a $10 balance on it. I decided to make it a goal to use this up before buying anymore Peet’s, even though that’s where my loyalty lies (lays? lie?). He went off on his run and I grabbed a coffee and walked for a couple miles before starting my run.

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It was also the massive garage sale weekend in Cupertino. I had to stop by even though I wasn’t planning on grabbing anything. It was still fun to poke about though! I think I stopped by about 4 garage sales on my walk.

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In the afternoon I was having a hankerin’ for a stuffed sweet potato. I nommed on a purple one with Fage, avocado, morning star vegan crumbles, and Daiya vegan cheese. I’ve been eating this on repeat this past week.

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Sunday September 23rd DJ left for a business trip to Des Moines, Iowa. After dropping him off at 5:30 at the airport, I ran about nine miles, went to church, and then hit up Ozumo again with my friend Tammy for some yummy brunch!

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I was ready to chow down.

First, we ordered jasmine tea to share. I tried to capture mid-pour with portrait.

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But I spilled in the process, lol! Smoooooth.

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Speaking of smooth- this tea was so smooth. I am not a huge tea guy- I really gotta be in the mood. But this was just so satisfying and delicious- it didn’t require any sweetener or anything (I usually will put a touch of sugar or stevia in tea).

We started with the Ozumo roll with salmon, cucumber, jalapeno, mango, yuzu sauce, and micro shiso. Their sushi is the definition of fresh. You cannot go wrong here!

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This was followed by the Ozumo scramble with onions, bell pepper, sweet potato, kale, cauliflower, eggs and micro wasabi. I don’t know how they roasted these stinking veggies, but they were so full of flavor and complimented the eggs perfectly. I also loved the touch of green onion- this is something I’ll have to try to make at home.

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And last, but certainly not least, we had the matcha pancakes with whipped cream, red bean, raspberries and matcha powdered sugar. The red bean was a nice touch!!! Green food #3.

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I dare say they are the best pancakes I’ve ever had. It helps that I’m a matcha freak, but I also love thin pancakes that are nice and crisp. These. were. everything. I need to take DJ back to try them since he is the pancake king after all.

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I cozied up on the couch in the afternoon to get some school work done.

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The rest of the day was just the same- study, snack, dinner, blog a bit and then hit the hay!

Monday September 24th I ran on the treadmill reading a couple chapters for the week.

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I hunkered down to “go to school”, but I was craving some roasted veggies, so I whipped up roasted eggplant to munch on with hummus while watching lectures.

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I kept coming back for more pieces throughout the day and by the end of the day there were none left. Didn’t think it was possible to eat an entire eggplant in one day? I am here to tell you it is! 😂

Another snack I loved that day was a purple sweet potato with Fage and cinnamon. This is one of my favorite snacks in the autumn.

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I’ll recap the rest of the week in my next post since this is getting a bit lengthy 🙂

Oh, and for those that are curious… here is a sound bite of our upstairs neighbors. Listen about seven seconds or so in, and you will start hearing it. We’re still trying to work things out, but all parties are in communication and aware of how frustrating this issue is- so we’ll see in the next few weeks what our solution will be. Management has been attentive and helpful as they can be.

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xo <3

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Marin Headlands Hiking & Home Cafe!

We are just zoooming right along! My type-A side is very bothered that my recaps are not in the present time just yet, but we are almost there!!

Thursday September 13th I woke up and made the Ezekiel bread again with nuts and dried fruit.

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I went for a run and still spotted some new blooms.

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I then drove to the Post Office to drop off some Poshmark sales! woot woot!

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I worked on schoolwork at Peet’s all day (with my packed lunch- I literally have a full spread of my snacks on “my” counter there, make myself right at home) then headed back home. I had my massive salad again for dinner (I get on kicks) and made DJ some beef tacos.

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Nearly every evening this past couple weeks we have watched an episode or two of Dexter before bed- SO good!

And whaddya know- Friday September 14th I had Ezekiel bread again with chopped walnuts and craisins.

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I snuck in a nice run then spent the rest of the day working on school work- at Peets ‘magine that?

Jus me and Peety for the day

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In the evening I had a nice chunk of time to blog, which was nice. After eating leftovers, DJ and I watched Dexter for the rest of the evening. Such a restful Friday! Since we aren’t planning many events right now it’s been nice having free weekends to just hangout at home. I suffer from serious FOMO but am discovering how relaxing it is to have an uncluttered schedule on the occasional weekend.

Saturday the 15th I woke up around 7, ate some avocado on rice cake and then headed to SF to hike with Amy and my fur-nephew, Pool Noodle!

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Driving into the city the sky was so crystal clear! This is a rarity and the views were just breathtaking.

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We decided to meet at Marin Headlands- a place on the ole’ Bucket List.

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The fog started rolling in as we did our hike, but it didn’t take away from the stunning views.

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Pool Noodle <3

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Can ya’ stand the cuteness?

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He’s so photogenic

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After the fact, we went to Home Cafe to have some nice lattes and treats! Home is alsooooo on the Bucket List. I hope you don’t take a shot every time I mention that thing. It literally drives our plans anytime we go into the city.

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I’ve had Home on my radar for a while because they make the prettiest latte art and serve up some one-of-a-kind toast! Check out the menu… I need to go back and just try one of each!

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Amy tried out their scrumptious Bravo toast

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I was still pretty full from a protein bar I had before our hike, so I just tried one of their Japanese Mochi donuts. It was okay- nothing to write home about, but still a nice accompaniment with the coffee!

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Amy had their cookie monster latte- I had a sip- and let me tell you- maybe one of the tastiest sweet lattes I have ever sipped!!! It was divine. Tastes like you are straight up drinking a chocolate chip cookie (but in the best way!).

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I had their birthday cake latte, and it was ever so satisfying!!! I highly recommend this too. Also, you can taste how high quality the espresso is, yum!

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In the afternoon in Cupertino, it was such a gorgeous day I decided to listen to podcasts and take a walk since I was almost all caught up on school assignments. I have a new podcast I’m obsessed with- that I shared in my recent Friyay Faves– Dr. Death. The rest of the day was basically tying up loose ends with assignments for the week.

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In the evening, I made Deej chicken tacos & I had my big salad, yes again. I start to crave this thing! I will get sick of it soon, but I am deep in my salad kick.

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On Sunday the 16th, DJ and I went to church then DJ went to work the Almaden Valley Art & Wine Festival. I just worked on laundry, cleaning, dishes, fill in groceries through the day, etc.

When he returned later in the afternoon, he had a big box with him that had a ribbon. I was so excited he let me open it, haha. It was from the festival thanking the Giants for making an appearance there- they gave us a big bottle of nice Merlot, a beer glass, and a wine glass! It’s Christmas y’all! Savings September karma!

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In the evening, I tried a glass of the delicious wine while we watched Dexter and then Monday it was back to the grind. Hut hut!

I will save this week’s recap for next time 🙂

xo <3

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Sears Fine Food & The Wave Organ!

Let’s just drive right in- shall we?!

Sunday September 9th, DJ and I woke up early, had breakfast, and headed to SF to go to Church with his twin sister, and my SIL Amy!

Before leaving I had avocado “toast”, but we were out of bread… so in light of Savings September I used leftover rice cakes that have been sitting in the pantry.

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We went to the 9:30 service at our SF location, then after went to a bucket list place- Sears Fine Food!

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This place is located right across the street from the Sir Francis Drake hotel where Kels and I stayed when she visited. I have had my eye on this gem for a while- especially because they have famous Swedish pancakes.

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I lol-ed when I saw this written on the menu under Melons “We thump each and every one” haha. I just thought it was funny they included it.

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DJ got the eighteen (yes, eighteen!) pancakes so we all could try a couple. They were sooo good, you guys. We agreed they are probably the best pancakes we’ve had in the Bay so far (especially with the lingonberry jam on them- holy cannoli guaca-freaking-mole).

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Amy and I both had omelettes!

img_4326I even think the omelette and hash-browns were some of the tastiest I have had in the Bay. I usually don’t frequent a place twice because there is such a wealth of restaurants to try out- but I would go here again in a heartbeat. I think this might be my #1 breakfast spot I’d recommend to people visiting the City!

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Even the wait staff was super friendly. They brought Amy and I coins to use in their slot machine on the way out.

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We didn’t win anything- but it was so fun, and reminded me of when I was a child and would ask my Dad or Mom for quarters to play the “claw” game at some family owned ma-and-pa joints back in the midwest.

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We decided we still had a tiny bit of time left after to knock out one more thing on the list! We headed toward the golden gate and Crissy Fields area to see the Wave Organ.

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The organ is built into the jetty and in the water. It makes music with the waves. We didn’t hear anything when we were there, but it may be because we weren’t there at high tide.

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Still pretty cool to see!

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Love this picture of DJ and Amy

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In the afternoon, I went on a nice long run outside before buckling down to do school work for the evening.

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On Monday September 10th, I received a whole new round of assignments for the week. You know what this calls for? Peets!

I woke up early, walked on the treadmill as I read my chapters and then walked to Peets to gear down and watch lectures.

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I packed some snacks to take along like a no cow bar and a yogurt and then at about 4 pm in the afternoon headed home.

I went for a nice walk to clear my head then made dinner.

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In the morning of September 11th, I had Fage yogurt and frozen grapes to start the day (thank you, Kori, for this combo!). I did Insanity, then buckled down on more schoolwork.

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I had the same ole’, same ole’ snacks and food through the day, but in the evening I got a second hungry wind, craving something salty. I decided to make some sweet potato fries- they hit the spot!

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In the morning of Wednesday September 12th, I had Ezekiel bread, yogurt, raisins, and nuts with my coffee to start the day. (I found some Ezekiel bread I forgot was in the freezer! Woohoo!)

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I went for a run in the morning and saw the first signs of fall!

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Look at this beautiful lil’ guy!

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In the afternoon I got my hair did. As much as I love my bright blonde, it’s hard to keep up with. I decided to go back shorter and a more natural balayage so I can go a longer time without getting my roots touched up. Even though we are in Savings September, I consider this an investment since I won’t have to bother with my hair for a long time after this!

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When she finished it was REALLY dark. Like too dark for what I’m used to. I asked if there was anyway to brighten it up just a touch- cause I didn’t want it to be 100% brown (I have some blonde naturally).. so she washed out the color and then toned it. It was the longest I have ever been in a salon- 6 hours. SIX. I thought I was gonna pass out from hunger. Good thing I took my study materials with me.

I will post a pic soon!

It’s taking some getting used to, but DJ says he prefers it to my bright blonde, which makes me feel better <3

But like I said- I was SO hungry. I decided to make my favorite massive go-to salad: a kale blend with tomatoes, red onion, beets, peppers, multi-colored carrots, mushrooms, hummus, and a Morningstar black bean burger (slightly overcooked so it tastes like croutons 😉 ) topped off with balsamic vinegar. I literally ate massive carrots as I was making the salad and bites of a protein bar and probably some Smartfood popcorn, lol. It’s a wonder and a half that I stopped to grab a picture!

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This is getting a bit long so I’ll stop here for now before recapping the weekend 🙂

xo <3

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Friday Favorites #15 -Autumnal Feels!

TGIF!!!! Thank goodness it’s FALL!!!!! I know it may be a bit premature to be posting full fledged Autumn posts, but every ounce of my basic-fall-loving-self is screaming like a banshee to be let out. Even though I’m desperately trying to suppress it, just kidding I’m not, it’s showing itself in all its true colors. Like a tree in Autumn. On that note, let’s jump in (and I’m not talking a pile of leaves). How far into the back of your head have your eyes rolled? Rollin’ like a pumpkin rollllllll. Okay, I’m done. For now. Anywho- hope you enjoy these faves- maybe they’ll get ya in the spirit too!

  1. Faux pumpkins. Am I slightly embarrassed I have faux pumpkins? Yes. Do I nearly cry tears of joy when it’s time to bring them out? You betcha.

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2. Apple Pie & Pumpkin Candle from Bed, Bath, & Beyond. I recently did a massive bulk purchase from BBB for necessities (TP, paper towels, cleaner, dishwasher soap, hand-soap, etc.) with a $20 off coupon & slid a candle into the cart. This candle has such a strong scent; I am living for it. Recently, we’ve had a couple candles that don’t smell like much when they burn, but this is just warming the house with all the fall aromas!

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3. Dr. Death podcast. With a background in neurosurgery, this podcast caught my attention instantly. I have to say I think I have a strong stomach when it comes to gruesome medical talk, but this is not for the faint of heart. It is pretty disturbing- but what disturbs me the most is the fact that this story is real, and these are real patients, and involves a real surgeon. It’s mind blowing, tragic, fascinating… and horrific.

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4. The Passenger. I am about halfway through this thriller and loving every second of it. It’s entirely unpredictable, and the story line is gripping. It’s not super explicit like a lot of thrillers are, which I greatly appreciate. Highly recommend this one!! I can’t wait to finish it up.

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5. Dexter. I’m pretty sure Dexter has made it on the FF list before, but he’s making a comeback! DJ and I watched this show probably about a year ago, but dropped off around season 4 when work was getting intense. We decided we both would love to pick it back up and now we’re wondering how we ever stopped. It’s soo stinkin’ gooooood.

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6. A Simple Favor. Stop what you are doing right now (wait, I guess that would be reading this)….. After reading this, buy tickets for the next showtime of A Simple Favor. This is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time! I saw it this past Tuesday with my SIL, Amy and her boyfriend. The way it’s produced is just genius- the perfect blend of humor, thriller, suspense and everything else. Plus, Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively are just phenomenal actresses (goes without saying).

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7. 6 min. abs with Cassey Ho. This has recently become one of my favorite workout videos. You can get a better abs workout in these 6 mins than from  some of the 15 mins you’ll find on Youtube. Cassey & any of her Blogilates videos are amazing! I do this one about every other day.

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8. Murasaki Sweet Potatoes. They’re baaacccck. I literally let out a vocal “yay!” when I saw these in Trader Joe’s. I have a couple recipes for stuffed sweet potatoes I love to make with them in the fall!

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9. Miyoko’s Vegan Cheese Wheel. We used this for the first time this past summer, and it’s my new vegan cheese obsession. It’s the closest changing faux cheese to the real thing I’ve found- and the herbes de provence is remarkably delicious. You’ll need to pack this for your autumn picnics of course 😉

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10. African Botanics Revitalizing Therapy Gel. This stuff is magic! It came in my FFF box, and I am fully obsessed. I love using it on my shoulders and back especially. Funny story though- one night this past week my hamstrings were hurtin’, so I lathered it alllll over my legs. Not a good idea. They felt like they were on FIRE. I had to race into the bathroom and scrub it off once the burn set in. It was quite a scene, much to DJ’s entertainment. As you can tell, it works VERY well, meaning a tiny bit goes a long way! You’ll need this after raking all those leaves!!

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Question for you!

  • Any weekly favorites? Things you are loving?

xo <3

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Fall Blooms!

Hey, everyone! I am picking up from where I left off to fill in some gaps in recaps. It may take a few posts to catch up- but I’m excited to share some very beautiful fall blooms that are poppin’ up here in Cupertino! I swear- California has like five springs.

Tuesday the 4th and Wednesday the 5th I just did school work all day long. In the evenings, we had leftover cheese and crackers and hummus from wine country to try to eat some of that up. I always love post-wine country trips because it gives us an excuse for cheese and cracker dinners. We love to graze around here 😋

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Come around Thursday the 6th, I had a massive craving for one of those See’s candies lollipops. To take a study break, I drove to the mall in order to stock up!

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The rest of the week was all the same- wake up, workout, study, take a walk to clear my brain, make dinner, watch Dexter with DJ (yes, we picked it back up!!), throw a tantrum about the neighbors at 12 am (lol, more to come with that), then repeat! These following blooms are from my walk on Friday, September 7th 🙂

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One of my neighbors even has a lemon tree

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And an apple tree- but more apples were on the ground then on the tree- haha

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I even spotted this little squash!

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After finishing up the cheese and crackers during the week, I then made up some vegan tacos with lettuce wraps to devour.

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Saturday September 8th, I needed to “fill in” some groceries. We are trying to use up everything we have at home and just fill in need be- our grocery bill has plummeted this month so far, and I love that it forces us to get creative 🙂

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In the evening, I whipped up DJ a farfalle pasta with sauce & cheese we already had, but added pasta I grabbed from TJ’s. I just had the lettuce cup tacos again. I blogged a bit while DJ worked on his graduate school ap!

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I’m saving Sunday festivities for the next post, cause they need a post of their own 🙂

Questions for you!

  • Favorite type of pasta noodle? 🍝
  • Favorite season? 🍂

xo <3

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V. Sattui Winery & Labor Day!

Slowly but surely we are catching up!! Sadly, this is the last installment of Labor Day weekend- but it was a couple of days that did not disappoint!

After our awesome first few days together and the first three wineries (post one, two, and three), we headed to the last one of the day- V. Sattui. It is a family owned and operated winery since 1885 and was voted the winery of the year for 2018 by the Winemaker Challenge for the second year in a row.

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This is definitely more of a tourist trap winery than the others we went to- it has a giant gift shop, a deli, a park where you can eat, stands that sell gelato, among a number of other to-dos.

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Now, I have to put on the disclaimer that our experience may have been slightly negatively skewed considering we went over Labor Day weekend- but I am going to give an honest (but brutal) account of our time here.

First, upon arriving we couldn’t find parking. Like- nooo parking anywhere. Finally we found somewhere about 3/4ths a mile away and walked in 90 degree heat to get there. Fine- it’s labor day weekend, I get it. But in Napa, usually parking isn’t an issue.

Second, we got our tickets for our reservations. I had the whole day mapped out to a “T” including our dinner reservation after- so there wasn’t a ton of wiggle room. Yet, when we got our ticket, basically it was entrance to a room where you have to fight tooth and nail for a spot at their wine bar.

img_3640I will say the grounds are just stunning. img_3642img_3643img_3647-1img_3639img_3644img_3638img_3637img_4479-1

Y’all know I am not a complainer- but I gottttaaa vent a bit.

Rant time (beware): Once inside and all three of us separating to see if we could find any open areas among the mass of people, I finally found a spot on the very end of a bar for our “reservation”. We all squeezed in and were greeted by the most crotchety and condescending lady to pour our wines. For the tasting, their list is extensive so we asked for some guidance in which to choose. She basically said they were all good and that it’s an impossible question to answer (she answered as though that was the most absurd question I could ask). Okayyy. So then I asked what their most popular wine is. She said they are all popular. Okayyy. Then I finally ask what her favorite is- and she said depends on the mood. Throwing our hands up in defeat, we basically just chose whatever. Oh, and at one point we ordered a Bordeux blend, but she brought out a cab. She poured it and we asked how it was a Bordeux blend if it’s a cab and she said, “Oh it’s a cab- we don’t have the Bordeux”… but rather than telling us they didn’t have it, she just poured us something random. Hahah. Like, what?! Come the very last wine to choose, we were going to try dessert wines- and she goes, “Oh you don’t wanna try the blah blah blah (some bold red) wine?” And we all three looked at each other like, Are you kidding me?! This is what we were trying to ask her the whole time… like we asked for your help to choose best ones from the get go, now you scold us for not trying the right ones?! It was a hot mess and she was so rude through the whole thing. We will not be returning. There are hundreds of wineries in Napa- do not waste your time here! I recognize how silly and minute this issue was- I just wanted it to be perfect for momma Jill and Pete, so I got a bit heated. Also, I wouldn’t even have cared about the busyness or fighting for a spot if our lady just treated us like human beings. Just be nice, why is that so hard for people to grasp?!

After I grabbed this adorable shot of them…

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Tried to get a selfie best we could haha

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And to decompress for the madness we went to downtown Napa for a wonderful dinner at Ristorante Allegria!

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It gives off the warm ambiance of a Macaroni Grill I’d say! (One of my favorite restaurants from back in Ohio).

We eagerly dived into their bread with a delightful bruschetta dip.

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For an appetizer, we split calamari… I forgot to snatch a picture before, but I remembered when I had one little squiddy left. Hehe.

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Pete ordered their Caesar salad that was super tasty. He was kind enough to share some with us even though my mom and I also split a house salad.

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Pete also had their vitello piccata with pan seared veal scaloppini, on garlic-mashed potatoes sauteed spinach, and lemon capers white wine sauce. I had a bite of the spinach and mashed potatoes and it was all heavenly.

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My mom and I split their pappardelle allo zafferano with fresh homemade saffron pasta, jumbo prawns, wild mushrooms, finished with roasted shrimp bisque. This hit the spot!! I love the idea of using bisque on top of noodles too- I may need to try that at home sometime. One of my favorite parts of eating out is seeing different ways you can assemble different ingredients for a tasty meal.

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We headed home for the evening, but my mom gave me this when we got back- A candle from Rombauer <3 <3 So sweet. AND it is made out of a wine bottle!

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Monday September 3rd, Labor Day, my mom and I woke up early to go to Orange Theory to get our workout on.

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It was partner day so it was extra fun because we worked together 🙂

After, we refueled with our avocado toasts per usual.

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Unfortunately, yo girl had to “go to school” the whole day, so my mom and Pete went to do some prospecting of malls in the area (it’s part of my mom’s job).

In the evening, my mom and I went on a nice long walk to clear our noggins. It was one of my favorite parts of the weekend.

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I’m just rocking that “I’ve literally been studying and reading every second of the day” look.

After a hard days’ work for all of us, I whipped everyone up tacos!!! Bison tacos are DJ’s favorite of the meals I make, so I made bison tacos for the men and my vegan tacos for my mom and I. Can you tell the difference? 😉

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Momma Jill made us all her famous skinny margs. Gosh, they are the best!!

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we ended the evening by watching Bachelor in Paradise and eating caramel blossoms with ice cream!

On Tuesday September 4th they left super early to head back to Texas. It was an unforgettable weekend- I always say that- but truly nothing tops time with family and friends.

Questions for you!

  • Let’s taco bout this- you a crunchy shell or a soft shell kinda person?
  • Cilantro- yay or nay? Apparently some people think it tastes like soap!

xo <3

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Stag’s Leap & Rombauer!

– What did the grape say when it got crushed?

Nothing, it just let out a little wine.

Okay! Next stop of the day is famous Stag’s Leap. This winery may sound familiar- They sell some of their wines in common grocery stores and even in Sam’s Club!

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The views driving in were beautiful and sprawling. It was so quiet and picturesque.

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The tasting room is bright and spacious. It has one large bar with multiple sommeliers to accompany your for your testing.

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The wine bar faces a gorgeous view of the mountains and vineyards.

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We tried all cabs in our tasting, but we were a bit disappointed! They were great compared to most $5- $8 wines we are used to drinking, don’t get me wrong- but we had thought Stag’s Leap was going to be just the best of the best. The cab we had at Darioush was on another level from these cabs. “Artemis” may have been our favorite surprisingly- it is actually the cheapest of the ones we tried, and luckily it’s sold in Sam’s if you have access to one 😉

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The Hills are Aliiiiive with the Sound of Musiiiic. Jus’ channeling my inner Julie Andrews.

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And what would be a trip to wine country without stopping at Rombauer? Our forever favorite <3 You may remember we went here back in March, but unfortunately Pete fell sick the night before and wasn’t able to make it. (who am I saying “fell sick”, who says that?). Anyway- We had to make sure he visited this time around!

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We just love everything about Rombauer- the wine (their Zin and Chardonnay is the greatest around- and I don’t even like either kind usually), the views, the landscape, the ability to picnic!!

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Before our tasting we had a little bit of time so we had a little picnic we packed with vegan & regular cheese, crackers, sun-dried tomatoes, dried fruit, olives, hummus, and chocolate.

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Time for the tasting!

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After enjoying the best zinfandel of all time and the crispest chardonnay, we relaxed on their patio.

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You don’t even have to do a tasting if you visit- you can just enjoy a nice glass outside if you’d like!

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I just love Rombauer. It’s always the first winery I recommend to anyone visiting Wine Country. Next post I will recap our last winery and the rest of labor day weekend 🙂

Questions for you!

  • Anything big planned for the week?
  • Favorite wine of all time? I love a good rec’!

xo <3

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