We were in Texas for Two Years?!

Happy 2018 y’all!

Come on in, lemme set the scene. I am sitting here with our Christmas tree & decor still fully on display. I refused to let DJ take it down this week, and that convo was officially our first squabble of 2018. I told him he could take it down when I’m at work this weekend, although I’d prefer to keep it up until it literally falls over and no pines are left. Compromise y’all- marriage at its finest.

I have my third cup of coffee in hand (clearly not on that “decrease caffeine” resolution train). I have jazz playing in the background. I am overcoming quite the cold, as I am sure many of you are also facing head on. So from me to you, HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND YOUR ___ (insert sickness here)_____ ! I mean, really, along with popping the champagne we may as well take Airborne shots and instead of confetti throw around tissues.

I cannot CANNOT believe how quickly last year went by. I usually think the sentimentality of a New Year is always a bit cheesy (yes, coming from the cheese-y queen), but this year I was feeling it. 2017 was rough rough rough, and I welcome a new year with open arms. Last year I knew I was walking into a difficult year, but I underestimated just how challenging it would be. This year, rather than having a feeling of foreboding doom and anxiety, I am filled with excitement & anticipation as I can nearly taste the completion of THE most challenging obstacle I have ever faced.

In my last post I was heading to Fort Worth to visit my momma, Step-dad, Pete, and pup, Jade with DJ on the 28th. (Side note: I have always called Jade, “Jadey” as a nickname… and when in Texas I always end up calling Jade “DJ”.. dyslexic tendencies slipping to the surface there..whooops!).

real quick…You can check out previous posts exploring the Texas area here and here and here and here.


^ The diva dog hates her picture taken, but I had to snag a few!

The first night we arrived I was egg to the zausted. Momma Jill prepared the most delicious dinner for us including bottomless roasted veggies, grilled portobello mushrooms (for her and I), and Pete grilled up steaks for the boys. It was all accompanied by delicious wild rice, marinated mushrooms for the steak, and garlic bread.


Good lawd, momma Jill knows how to cook up a storm (maybe quite literally if you look at the temperature & snow we had!).

I also just adore their Christmas decor, and they surprised us by having our stockings still hung above the fireplace. **CUE THE TEARS**.


After dinner, we opened our stockings, chatted and soaked up my mom and Pete’s wisdom going into some big decisions this year ahead, and munched on homemade Christmas cookies. It actually felt like Christmas. Like I said in my last post, the day of Christmas is actually quite relative. And the best part of an untraditional Christmas is if you forget any figs for your figgy pudding there is actually a grocery store open! Howbowdat.


^^ Ms. Beggar McGregor.


Unfortunately, that night I dealt with a horrible bout of insomnia. I think it was the combination of coming off some crazy days in the hospital, the travel, and just general time change (it always gets me!). When I went to India a couple years ago I couldn’t sleep for three days straight. That jet lag, even a couple hours, kicks my butt.

But the next day we jet-started the day with a yummy fruit bowl, eggs, toast, and better n’peanut butter for my mom and I. Has anyone had this magic? It’s my treat when I go to Dallas. SO GOOD. I know I could technically stock up on it here… but it just reminds me of “home”, so I save it for those special trips to Texas. I think I’d be too sad eating it anywhere else. <— #emotionalmuch?

The 29thwas a day for the books. I actually did cry going through these pictures because I missed it too much already. My mom surprised me with a trip to Spa Castle and for DJ, a trip with Pete to the Cotton Bowl! I’ll recap Spa Castle right quick!


So, this place is HUGE- very Texasesque! I have never seen anything like it. Basically it’s a giant Spa amusement park. They have everything from a fitness center, saunas galore, whirlpools with jet massagers, a plethora of spa treatments, and general lounging areas.

You receive this key to a locker when you come in and just badge in and out of your locker as you please!


Momma bear and I decided to start with a hearty workout prior to a day of total bliss.


Everyone is required to wear these uniforms in the sauna for probably several reasons that you could infer. I joked that this reminded me of a cult meets monastery, but I was all on board!


The entrance area was absolutely breathtaking. Every inch of the facility is designed to make you relax.


Now, the “Sauna Valley” was paradise. My pictures cannot possibly compare to the real experience, so I’ve included a link here that you can explore each room and all their benefits! Our favorites included the Himalayan Salt Room, The Charcoal Tower, and the Gold Pyramid.


I thought the “Color Therapy” room was super fascinating. The health benefits behind each room just blew my mind.


There is even an Iceland room if you need to chillll out even more.


Let me jus say—- this was EXACTLY what I needed to shake out the anxiety & stress of the year. What a great way to say SAYONARA, Seventeen! These Saunas were out. of. this. world.

We then headed down to their pool area. All those silver bars jetting out of the water are massage stations. They are not for the faint of heart either. The next day I had that same sore feeling I get after a great massage that really works out the knots. It was too cool.


Last, but certainly not least, we finished off at their indoor bar/pool/whirlpool area. It was all quintessential bliss.


We had worked up quite the appetite by this point so we nommed on some sushimi and wakame salad to tie us over before the big Sushi showdown.


We had every little bit of energy zapped from our bodies and knew it was time to head back home.

On our way home we grabbed some fantastic & fresh sushi to go and my mom pulled out her now famous tofu wedges. After getting cleaned up we sat on the couch, turned on some easy TV, and I blogged while my mom crashed in the cozy living room. It was the epitome of a perfect day.


While we sat back and relaxed, the guys hit up the Cotton Bowl for the OSU vs. USC game. DJ was PUMPED about this, which probably goes without saying.


They said it was an absolutely amazing game.

On the morning of the 30th, DJ, my mom, and I hit up the local Keller Pointe (my favorite workout facility in the WORLD). After we zoomed to Kindred Coffee…. oh. my. lanta. Calling all coffeee lovers & snobs: If you are ever passing by the North Richland Hills area, you must stop. This was everything coffee magic & more.


We had a lazy afternoon, and I snuck in a much needed nap. I don’t nap often, but I always do so well in Texas, plus this nasty cold was beginning to make it’s debut. We then put our fancy clothes on and headed out to Lonesome Dove at the Stockyards.


^^ We did not plan to match. I swear. Hahhah.


Love love love love the stockyards.


This place has one of the most unique menus I have ever seen. I avoid eating meat 98% of the time, but when there is something that is unique, I MUST try it. This was certainly one of those occasions. We tried a sampler of their appetizer options including wild boar ribs, kangaroo Carpaccio “Nachos” (yes, actual kangaroo) Avocado Salsa, Habanéro-Fig Demi-Glace, and blue corn lobster hushpuppies. The kangaroo and ribs were a hit among the table out of the three.


My mom and I shared the shaved vegetable salad while Pete tried the butter lettuce with smoked bacon.


I couldn’t get great pictures of our meals (calm yo self, mack), but they were all yummmy. My mom and I split the redfish En Papillote, with Fennel, Leek, Carrot, Yellow Squash, Chiles, & mint. We agreed it wasn’t the most flavorful fish we have had, but still satisfying. DJ tried the Wagyu skirt steak, but the winner was Pete’s Roasted Garlic Stuffed Beef Tenderloin, with Western Plaid Hash and syrah Demi-Glace (pictured below).


The other big hit was the side of truffle mac and cheese. I mean can you go wrong with ANYTHING truffled?


Outside they have a pit for s’mores too.


We headed home for some Bailey’s & Pumpkin Pie with happy stomachs and lots of laughs.

In the morning of the 31st, we headed to my mom and Pete’s home church for an AMAZING service. The message was powerful and encouraging & the worship was beautiful.


And what’s a Sunday without a little Sunday Brunch?!?! When I lived here the summer prior to our wedding in 2015, I loved walking up and down the main street of Keller to do my wedding planning. This was before I began blogging, but this would have been a favorite mention. The Snooty Pig is one of my ALL. TIME. favorite breakfast places, and Pete suggested we go. I was not about to turn that down!


One of the reasons I love this place so much is their muffins. They have the most unique, but scrumptious muffins.


We decided to try their lemon poppyseed ones, although I was nervous because with possibly starting grad school here soon I know I’ll have to take drug tests! I was like how long does it stay in the system for?!? We pulled out our phones and started googling. Turns out it’s only for a few days, so I should be safe. When the waiter plopped the lemon muffin down on the table DJ just looked at it and said, “Well, that’s just a drug test waiting to be failed”. I just glared at him as I took my first big bite. 😉


And now I have this blog with pictures to explain if it comes to that. LOL. Pete had their strawberry banana one too. I said it’s a tradition now to try a different flavor every time we come. Last time we had the cranberry orange one- oh me oh my, not sure which I like better.

My mom and I split a veggie omelette with a side of the most fresh salsa.


Pete had their western skillet. He’s too kind to let me always photograph his food. Oh, how these people put up with me and my antics.


DJ had a classic pancake breakfast. He said the pancakes were definitely good. Still not THE best. This guy and his cakes..


After, we hit up the gym for the last time in 2017 (tears), and then *attempted* to hot tub. It was so bitter cold outside so although our necks down were doing okay, we could feel our nose hairs and lips freezing. We didn’t last too long as you may imagine. Still fun though!

DJ decided to door dash a Whataburger.. when in Texas!


It’s hard to tell from the picture, but these suckers are ginormous! Easily the biggest burger in diameter I have ever seen. DJ said it was fantastic, but still prefers in-n-out.


Time to Ring in the New Year!!!!




We put on the TV to watch the NYE festivities, and then momma Jill set up the dinner table like a winter wonderland.


We had appetizers of brie cheese with apricot spread from Trader Joes (GET THESE NOW), hummus, mom’s homemade guac (there is none that compares, and meatballs for the men.


I helped my mom out in the kitchen preparing some of the food for dinner (But she honestly did most of the work). She gave me an Instapot for Christmas, so we had a fun little tutorial on how to use it by experimenting with au gratin potatoes! It was a blast, and I am itching to use mine!


The dinner (That DJ and I cannot stop talking about) included crab legs, asparagus, au gratin potatoes, and red lobster biscuits. Rachael Ray move on over.


We had a great time toasting to a new year, had fabulous conversations, and watched the ball drop. We haven’t spent a New Year together in ages, so this was a true treat and will be dearly treasured.

In the morning on the 1st, we gloomily packed up to head back to Cali. I had my breakfast of peanut butter toast one last time, and we exchanged big hugs. This may have been the hardest trip for me to leave. I was reminiscing on the days growing up when we would have breakfast with my Dad and then come home to my mom cleaning every nook and cranny to ring in the New Year. Bittersweet contemplations..

In the airport, DJ spotted a twisted root- him and Pete went to one before the cotton bowl, and he had to have one last burger before heading back. We had plenty of time since our flight was delayed about an hour.


Even after writing this I don’t feel like I did justice to just how phenomenal of a trip this was. It was much needed, and gave me just the zest I needed to face the next couple months.


I went back to work on the 2nd, and struggled through the whole day. I was in the Neuro Close observation room, masked up because of my cold. That evening and the next morning I had the knives-in-my-throat feeling and every inch of my body ached. I called in sick, but worked diligently on my research project instead. I just couldn’t risk giving my patients what I had, especially in the NCOR room.

OH oh oh! And we were startled awake to a crazy earthquake last night. I think they said it was a 4.6- but it was the weirdest thing. I woke up and the room was just swaying side to side. I woke up DJ and everything was just rattling. The first earthquake I experienced a few weeks ago I thought someone was trying to break in. This time it was like Goliath was shaking our whole apartment. Apparently the center of the quake was in Berkeley. No damage was done, but a few pictures are a bit lop-sided on the wall.

I hope all of your New Year celebrations were safe and fun. I pray for blessings, happiness, and all the other cheesy things (And lots of actual cheese) to you this year!

xo ❤



64 thoughts on “We were in Texas for Two Years?!

  1. What an absolutely incredible trip!!! I am drooling over every single dish. Girl, your descriptions are wonderful, and the creativity of all the meals is awesome. I was laughing at your worry over the lemon poppyseed muffin. The things we have to concern ourselves with as working/studying adults, ha! You are gorgeous as is your mom! I can most definitely see similarities. Lastly, that spa – oh my word it looks fantastic! Such a perfect day date with your mom! I do wish my mom were still here so that we could do that. But I love reading about your experience. 🙂 I hope you get to feeling 100% better soon and have an amazing Friday and weekend! XO

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Kori! oh me oh my I am ever behind. Isn’t it hilarious about the poppyseed?! We just had some poppyseed bread the other day and I said, “here we go again!”. Gotta live on the edge a little, right?!?!

      Aw, Kori, I wish your mom was still here too for you ❤ I know you are making her SO proud though. I know that feeling all too well too.. I'm always happy for people having good moments with their dad but it tugs at my heart strings that I couldn't do that too. One day ❤ Thank you for stopping by! Sending ALLLLL my love to youuu! XO

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your kind words! As you said, one day you and I both will get to enjoy these moments with our loved ones. All the more reason to live life to the fullest with those we love dearly. ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Spa Castle sounds amazing! What a sweet mom you have to plan an outing there. Also I’m obsessed with your over the knee boots. You look so good in them girlfriend! Can you mom come teach me how to sent tables and cook dinners because holy smokes she looks like a splendid host. I’m so so happy to hear you had a great time in Texas. Sometimes time with family is just what we need ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Maureen!!!!! Girl, if you ever get the chance- goo. So amazing. Especially after a workout (you should treat yourselves after a race!). Thank you for your SUPER sweet words- I think the boots are just from amazon if I remember right? oh my gosh.. I could live on her meals (I mean, I guess I did for 18 years haha). And yesssssss, Family is all I needed, you are so right. Hope you are having a PERFECT start to a new year. ❤ Also, PS. SO excited we are officially insta-friends as well 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would totally be down to treat myself to a spa after a race. That’s an awesome idea! Me too! I can’t believe it took so long to be insta friends 🙂 Thanks Mackenzie! I hope 2018 is going well for you too!


    1. YESSS!!! Isn’t it amazing?!?!? And it TOTALLY is. We should hunt one down together and go sometime. I’m not sure if they have any here, but either way… we should go to a spa soooon!


  3. Dear Meakchenzzyie,

    I’m glad to see you had a great Holiday season despite the busy schedule, and I just wanted to wish you and DJ the best for 2018. Heath, love and happiness through the year to come, and time to breathe every now and then!

    Keep being your gorgeous, bubbly & positive self!

    *Love from Freezingland*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CYRANNY!!!! Always love your takes on the spelling…Makes me laugh :). Thank you thank you for your sweet holiday wishes. I’m only two billion years behind and wishing you the same!!! Truly, I hope this year is one of your best. Thankful for you, Cyr! ❤ ❤ Sending SOOO much love. Hope you are staying warm warm warm. But you know you can always escape to here if you need a few extra degrees 😉


  4. Ahhh this post gave me ALL the feels! So happy you got to see your beautiful momma (seriously WHAT is her secret? She is stunning! ) And Jade is such a cutie! Seriously so much puppy love for that pooch! 
Happy New Year Beauty! I hope 2018 is a fabulous year! (I know it will be!) And huge hugs. The creeping crud needs to take a break. It is brutal! And it is just January!
    Your trip to Dallas sounded amazing and just what the doctor (nurse?) ordered! I am glad you had a blast! Sometimes we need to get away to recharge!
    Your mom decorates so beautiful for Christmas and New Years! And oh my lanta those cookies! Do I see wedding cakes on that plate?!?!
    Spa castle sounds exactly what the doctor ordered! How flipping incredible! I need asap! And definitely the perfect way to end out the year!
    And oh my lanta sushi! I LOVE!
    Ahhh girl! You know I am down for some great coffee! Also side note, I might be going to the Fort Worth area, in September. My sister in laws sister is getting married and I might travel along to help with the kiddos 🙂
    And I reiterate your mother AND YOU are stunning! I LOVE your outfits! Total fashionistas both of yoU! ❤
    And oh my lanta that muffin place looks divine! and your New Years feast is making my mouth water! SOOO Yummy!
    I heard about the earthquake and I am so happy you are fine! I hope 2018 is the best year yet for you huN! You deserve it! SO much love to you! ❤


    1. Hi beauty!!!! GIRL, right?! I always tell her I hope to age as gracefully as she does. Fingers crossed!! Jade would love youuuuu. She is one loving pup. If ever in Texas, she wouldn’t mind you stopping by 😉 I agree- this has been a BAD year for sick already! Have you had it yet? I hope not! And YES YOU DO see them! They are my mom’s all time favorite. You would love love love the spa & sushi. Wahhhhhhhh I wanna hangout so baddddd. I wish we could have a spa and sushi day together. Can we PLEASE do that in the future?! Only two more months of this program then I’ll have a bitttt more free time! (Hopefully, who knows!). Thank you for your sweet, sweet compliments. Gosh, you make my blushhhh. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOUUUU! I’m only three weeks behind. Sending alll my love and massive hugs!! XOOXOXOOXOXOOX

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sweets with your genes you definitely will! You are already stunning! Awe you are the sweetest! I would love her!
        Well funny you say that since I might be going to Texas in September 🙂
        it has! So bad! I was being a hypochondriac the other day freaking out about getting sick. Aweee I WANT to hang out! Girl come to New York Though I recommend waiting a little bit. It is freezing! But if you come we will do all the indoor activities including spa and sushi!
        Also FYI For my Birthday in June I may or may not be going to San Deigo you have inspired me SO…If you are free 🙂
        Ahhhh soooo flipping excited! We are so celebrating when you are done!
        Awe anytime love! Your comments and posts and texts always make my day! So proud and excited for you beauty! Bwahaha that is okay I have been blogger slacking lately 🙂 Happy new Year! Love you!! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you, love!!! Seriously?!?! Where in Texas and why?! Oh my gosh, I should try to coordinate to be there around the same time so I can give ya a squeeze. Haha I would LOVE to be in NY even in the tundra. But we definitely need that spa/sushi day. It’s totally happening. YES YES YES YES YES ! San Diego is incredible- you would LOOOOOOVEEEEEEEE it! I am giddy with excitement for you! I hope it works out!!!! ❤ XOXOO


  5. What a wonderful trip you and DJ had. The Spa Castle is crazy cool and what a needed day for you. Your mom’s tablescape is exquisitely gorgeous!!! The chargers, candles, plates and those oh so pretty napkin holders are the best! Jill, you are quite the cook and you can set one fabulous table!! So happy you got this trip in!! 🙂


  6. I’m so glad you were able to spend a belated Christmas and New Year’s with your family! Doing so is always such an encouragement and refreshment for the future months, especially when you get to explore old haunts and relive special memories. Alexander and I drove back this December to spend Christmas with his family (he hasn’t had Christmas with them in 3 years) and that was a treat for both of us, but I think especially for him. We still have to celebrate with my family at some point, but that just makes the Christmas season last a little longer. 😉 (Our Christmas decorations are still up, too, by the way. Per my request. 🙂 )
    Also, I just want to mention that your mom’s Christmas dinner table setup is absolutely gorgeous! The snowflakes are amazing!
    I hope this new year goes a little smoother for you than last, and I hope you feel better soon!


    1. Lauren!! HEY GIRL! So goood to hear from you. Sorry I am so late to reponding to this.Isn’t family time the ultimate cure all?!? SO necessary. Woah, I am super excited you guys got that time with Alexander’s family after so long. That’s a long time! It makes me feel better that you still had your decor up as well ❤ I will absolutely pass on the sweet words to my momma. I aspire to be as good as she is at the whole home-making thing one day. Thank you for your kind wishes, love! I hope you are having the BEST start to this new year!


  7. Awwwh happy new year!!!!!!!
    And holy crap theres SO MUCH to do over there!!!!!!! The spa totally blew my mind for some reason LOL. It’s certainly NO WONDER you wanna move over there so bad 😀
    And it’s always nice to see photos of you and DJ together, along with all the yummy delicious food you guys eat 🙂 And we have a Maru over here too, except that’s a short name for the restaurant, the full name is Yataimura Maru and it’s based off a Tokyo restaurant, and it also happens to be my favorite Japanese restaurant 🙂
    ANYWAY, I love how happy your family is, they look like they’re very nice people 😀
    Hope you’re having a good start of the year! ❤


    1. RIGHT?! It is insannnnnee!!! I couldn’t get over it too… you are not alone in having your mind blown. No way!! You guys have a Maru too?! What doesn’t Portland have though, really? 😉 Thank you for stopping by, love. Hope your new year is off to the best start!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Happy New Year, Mack!! I am soo glad you guys were safe from the earthquake and man do you have me wanting to go to Texas ASAP! So funny about your first squabble of the year being about taking down the Christmas stuff. That’s totally something Jimmy and I would squabble over, too!!


    1. ALLIE! Hey, girl! how are you??!?! (I guess I could catch up on your blog to find out, huh?!)… I have a couple days off here and am hoping to sneak a few moments to read 🙂 Thank you for stopping by and YESSS! I laughed out loud and told my husband about how you guys would bicker about that too. Tooooo funny. Gotta love marriage, right?! And yes– visit when you can! When the time comes, we will definitely need to chat about places that are a must visit/must see! XOXOXO


  9. What a wonderful way to end 2017 and start 2018!
    After such a tough year, it was wonderful that your Momma got to pamper you with all her beautiful cooking (she sure sets a lovely table!) and that spa visit! And all those yummies you had! I am still drooling!

    Wishing you a spirit-filled year ahead, Mack! Hope you enjoy Grad School, and all the other wonderful experiences you will have! Hugs!


    1. Ju Lyn!! Ah, so sorry for the SUPER late response!!! I finally have a moment to breathe, and per usual your comment lifted my spirits ❤ I will pass on the super kind words to my momma. And wishing you the exact same. Thank you tons and tons. Gosh, I am very thankful for you and your friendship here! I hope you are having a beautiful start to this new year!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Always good to hear from you! I know you have your plate very full, so don’t worry at all! It has been a good start to the year – trying to find my footing with the new schedules of the girls and the driving that entails. Started the year with a family trip to Bangkok, so all good!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I just looked up Bangkok on google to learn more. Sounds like a wonderful place with so much to explore! Adding it to my travel list. Thai food is one of our favorites too 😉 I bet it’s even better authentically!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. What an awesome, fun, tasty, and relaxing trip! That spa sounds INCREDIBLE, & I love all of your outfits! So cute! Your mom is gorgeous and I love all of the Christmas decorations!

    Glad y’all were hurt by the earthquake!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Mackensie, happy 2018 to you too!! The Christmas tree is not supposed to come down until Jan 6 , little Christmas, just to defend your position ! I hope you are feeling better after your cold;) You did have a difficult year as I know from following along, Such a cute dog Jade is! How cute your Mom left your stockings up waiting for your arrival. I love the cosy living room and Minnie and Mickey. The tree is beautifully decorated too. Spa castle looks amazing !! Such a great place for health and wellness. The boys look like they are enjoying the game. I will definitely try Kindred coffee if in Dallas. Look how cute you and your Sis.. I mean Mom are !! She is so cute. I would love to visit the stockyard , some great food. Baileys and pie sound yummy to Me! Cute pic of you and DJ (love the necklace) and all the family pics. How fun is it getting to help your Mom in the kitchen! It was sad I am sure leaving and heading back to normal life but you made great memories that are saved forever here on your blog. I am glad you were ok after the earthquake. Many blessings to you both in the year ahead Dear, hugs, Terri xo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy 2018 to you, Terri!!! So sorry I am so late to responding to this!! Yayyy- I’m glad you took my stance on the Christmas tree debate 😉 I have a feeling you and my mom would get along very well too- you both are the sweetest, most fashionable women! Thank you again for stopping by and your kind words always!!!! I hope this new year is off to an absolutely beautiful start for youuuuu! XO


  12. Your trip looks and sounds so epic!! You and your mom are gorgeous. That spa, oh my word. How magical and relaxing~ I hope you’ve had a wonderful start to the first few weeks of 2018 and are feeling really well, Mackenzie! XO

    Liked by 1 person

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