Our Four Year Anniversary Celebration & Homemade Indian!

Present Day: Ok, this is the last back-logged post I have from August!! It won’t take long to catch up the last couple months though because we haven’t done a whole lot, haha. Hope you all are so well 🙂

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^^Oh. And dat me tryin’ to make it to December! I have another on campus intensive coming up in a couple weeks- I’m both excited to see my peers and a nervous nelly for the testing. I’ve been practicing the skills everyday for two months now. It will be such a relief when that’s over. Welp, here’s the post. It’ll be a surprise to me too, as to what’s in it, since I wrote it three full months ago. 

Original Post: Hey hey!!! Jumpin’ right on in after the last post… Let’s see- August 16th was filled with all the overdue check-ups at the dentist and doctor. August 17th we had set aside to celebrate our anniversary (even though it was over a week late- better late than never!). We discovered the absolutely extraordinary world of soufflé our previous anniversary at Cafe Jacqueline in San Francisco and found ourselves craving them again this time around. I scoured the internet to see if we could find a place that had them near us, but the closest place was Fort Worth- a bit out of the way. So, we decided to just make them at home ourselves. We made homemade soufflés for New Years Eve, and it was one of our favorite nights ever ever, so why not give it another go?

Also, we can’t just have a soufflé… when it’s a special occasion ya have to have appetizers too! I picked up some good meats, cheeses, and veggies from TJs  (yes, this is just for the two of us, haha). I served it all with warm focaccia bread and pita chips.

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I added some figs to the meat and cheese tray for a pop of dimension (And flavor as well- have you ever had prosciutto and fig together? It’s a combo I saw here and there on menus in the Bay- the whole sweet and savory experience).

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For the veggies, I roasted broccoli to decorate the perimeter of the tray and then included fresh root carrots, marinated beets, artichoke hearts, cooked crimini mushrooms, roasted garlic bulbs, and sun-dried tomatoes with dipping hummus. There are few things that make me happier than preparing food. I just love it.

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We enjoyed our apps with a glass of champagne and then got to prepping our soufflé. It’s a long, pretty arduous process to make soufflés. Once you make the actual batter you have to let it cool to room temp which can take up to a couple hours. During that time we took a walk around the city.

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When we came back from our walk we put it in the oven for about 35 minutes. It came out nearly perfect, but was around 10 pm by the time we finally ate. We both agreed it was even better than the one we made from NYE, and I think we are figuring out the nuances of making a soufflé, slowwwwly but surely. Still working on getting the big “puff” effect on top.

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It was a wonderful evening, just cooking together, watching some impractical jokers & this is a bit cheesy (and we’re not talking the copious amount of cheese we consumed that evening), but while eating our soufflé we wrote out a life bucket list. We always are talking about things we’d like to do, so we made it concrete and put it all in one place. I will try to type it up here sometime too!

August 18th we had friends in town from college who we went to church with. DJ had a ton of studying in the afternoon so I ran errands, cleaned the apartment.. all that jazz.. before we enjoyed leftovers for dinner in the evening.

August 19th I was in the mood to cook from scratch! I made this pasta from a cooking magazine, but replaced some of the items with healthier ingredients. It had whole wheat pasta, corn, soft boiled eggs, and parm in a delicious garlic olive oil sauce. For DJ’s I added turkey bacon too. Yummmy.

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On August 20th I had my car mirror officially fixed! Yay! We are back in business. In the evening I had a massive pizza craving. And a very specific pizza craving- Pizza Hut. Since discovering it in the Miami airport, it has entered my mind many a time since. After chipping away at my to-do list all day, I had worked up quite the appetite. I whipped into Pizza Hut to pick up a large pizza for dinner.

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Before pulling out of the parking lot… something caught my eye….across the street that there was a Dominos that had the same deal as Pizza Hut. Dominos was always my favorite chain growing up (or so I thought- that garlicky crust just got me). I haven’t had it since high school and thought of a brilliant beyond brilliant idea. It may be fun to do a side by side taste test to see if my perceived reality had stood the test of time. Plus then I wouldn’t need to cook dinner for a couple days- win-win!

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Below is the Dominos.

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The verdict? Pizza Hut won by a landslide eating the two side by side- not even a question! I put up a poll on my Instagram and people voted Pizza Hut as the better chain between the two. Now if I were to do this again- a Pizza March Madness bracket if you will, what other chain would you recommend I compare it to side by side? In the mean time, I am going back to eating local pizza since there are insanely good options around here, but it was nice to get my Pizza Hut fix.

On August 21st, I ran outside on the trails in the morning and saw this sweeeet couple in front of me. These shirts were too stinkin’ precious not to share!

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August 22nd, out on my run I saw some new cool artwork was displayed on the trails.

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& I made sure to say hi to Charlotte.

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I even saw these cuties by the water.

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On August 23rd I went out by the pool for the first time since we’ve moved here. It was quite nice. I wanted to read my book on my kindle app, but it was to bright to even make out the words, so I just listened to a podcast while dunking my feet in the water.

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Oh!! And I know I mentioned in the last post our Indian food we had all ready to go- We had sambar, plus I made tofu curry and Idli with my idli maker my mom got us as a wedding gift.

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Gosh, it was all so tasty and satisfying. That sambar transported me right back to Chennai! DJ and I both agreed we have to make it a priority to visit India together. I miss it!

And this brings us to this present moment Saturday August 24th at 3:48 pm. I am sitting at Bennu enjoying an iced oatmilk coffee and anticipating a fun date night in downtown tonight with DJ and church tomorrow. Have a great week everyone 🙂

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Questions for you:

  • Please tell me something going on in your world! Anything at all. I miss reading blogs more than you know!!! Just. have. to. make. it. to. December 16th. Then I’m gonna at least have a couple days to catch up!

xo <3

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Moonshine Grill, Swift’s Attic, & Merit Coffee!

Present day: Hey all! How is everyone? I accidentally used salt in my coffee this AM before realizing it wasn’t sugar- so that’s how my day’s going! 😆 That’s the real Catch-22 about coffee- how do you even function to make the coffee before you’ve had your coffee?! Yeah soo, anywho, October has not slowed down as I hoped it would. In fact, it’s busier than ever. Probably needless to say I’m counting down to the holidays at this point. I’m not one to wish days away, but this semester I am wishing away for all it’s worth, haha. I just want to get to clinicals!! Alrighty, let’s get to it!!!

Back when I wrote this: Alright, I have 15-minutes until DJ gets home, so let’s see how much of this I can get done before he arrives. I have a full Indian spread ready for us– Sambar, Veggie curry, idli & rice.. I’m quite excited!! I need this post to distract me so I don’t dig in early, lol.

On August 13th I ran in the morning, textbook free!!! I had been running with Smalls, and since I didn’t have any exams to study for I was free to just run on the treadmill or watch a sociologically and psychologically educational TV show (aka….. reality tv)… it was so nice!

For lunch I met up with Amy at Moonshine Bar and Grill. My goal for the day was to brainwash her to move to Austin with us, lol, and this place is supposed to be a local favorite. (I haven’t been able to convince her yet, but I’m happy she can hold down the fort in the Bay Area while we’re away- and it’s giving me extra incentive to go back and visit so I can see her!).

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Moonshine has a main restaurant, an outdoor bar, and an outdoor patio. Our wait was going to be about an hour unless we could scour out a spot that was first come, first serve at the outdoor bar (it still had full food service). We decided to go out and see if we could snag a few spots. We lucked out and snatched um’ up with no wait time at all! The service was excellent off the bat. We were off to a great start!

Here is a pic of their cute little patio too, which is right across from the outside bar.

157c0267-9491-466b-8cb8-d6f53c7a872dWe loaded up on food. We saw garlic bulbs on the menu and had to see what they were all about. Being from SF, where the food is absurdly expensive, we expected a single bulb. When the platter of garlic bulbs with goat cheese, roasted peppers and bruschetta were set down our eyes grew about three times their size. The cheaper food prices compared to the Bay area is easily one of my favorite parts of living in Austin.

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And 10/10 on flavor. I actually loved this so much I tried to make garlic bulbs again myself after this– they weren’t quite as good as these, but they were still so delicious & easy! I don’t have a specific recipe, but I doused mine in olive oil and pink Himalayan salt then roasted them at 375 for maybe 25 minutes? Maybe longer? I’ll need to do it again so I can remember exactly what I did and write it down.

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I also had to try their jalapeno grits… in the words of Billie Eilish- DUH!. These were dangerously good.

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Now, let’s talk their mac and cheese! This is unlike most mac and cheeses- it was placed emphasis on the sharp part of “sharp cheddar”, but I absolutely LOVED the bold flavor. It was unique, but I am all about it. And they topped it with breadcrumbs- they know what’s upppp!

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It was all reasonably priced, spectacularly delicious, great service with great convo… all around.. I totally see why this is a favorite, and no doubt I’ll have to take DJ back!

After our awesome meal, we went to Pennybacker Bridge (Thank you, Taylor for this rec too!!).

In order to get to the top for the views, we followed some people we saw go into the woods next to the parking lot, hiked up a little trail and then made it to the top!

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These views did not disappoint!

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Austin never ceases to amaze me with its unexpected beauty!

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After Pennybacker we decided to find somewhere we could go inside since it was getting a bit too hot to be outside much longer. Where better to go than a movie?

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We zipped over to Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on South Lamar.

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This place is so much fun! It has almost a Marvel meets a 50s/60s inspired vibe.

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We decided on Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark since we both read the stories when we were younger. There is such an 80s/90s resurgence right now with everything media, and I am here for it. Did you guys see even Lizzie McGuire is coming back in November?!

Anyway- When we sat down before the movie started I checked out their food menu just to take note for next time (we were still so stuffed from lunch). I was stoked to see they have an expansive vegan menu.. I can’t wait to go back with DJ too! The movie was a fun watch- it really got me in the mood for Halloween time.

After the movie we were starting to get a bit hungry again. We went to Rainey street and stopped at the food truck Gobble Gobble ATX. I got one of their veggie burgers with chili sauce (yum!) and Amy tried one of their legit chicken sandwiches.

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In the morning of August 14th, my mom arrived in town for business! She had a couple hours before she had to be at work, so we went to Snooze together, a brunch spot I’ve had my eye on since Jess mentioned it.

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It has such a cute retro vibe! I absolutely adored the decor. It felt like a scene from Austin Powers or something.

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Coffee first always! It was great coffee. (and this coffee was salt freee!)

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Whenever my mom and I go out we always order two dishes to split. We decided to first try the lox-n-latke benny with homemade crispy latkes topped with Lox style salmon, poached eggs, cream cheese hollandaise, fried capers, pickled red onions and pistou. Oh me, oh myyyyy this was SO good. The latke itself was such a unique alternative to a bagel, which is traditionally served with a lox. I highly recommend trying this out if you ever find yourself near a Snooze.

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We also split their Goldilock’s Porridge with ancient grain mix of steel cut oats, quinoa, millet, amaranth simmered in almond milk….topped with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, bananas, toasted almonds and hemp seeds. This is something I could eat every single day for breakfast. Oh so satisfying.

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During the day I had a ton of errands/appointments/etc. I was overdue for getting my oil changed, and the jiffy lube guys were so friendly and helpful. They even left me a smile on my next oil change sticker. There’s that Texas kindness coming through again!

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In the evening, the whole family reconvened to go to dinner together after DJ finished school for the day! We went to Swift’s Attic in downtown.

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While we all had certain menu items we wanted to try, but we basically ate the items family style. There was a lazy susan in the center of the table that made it easy (and fun) to share everything! We agreed all dinner tables should probably just have a lazy susan. The only times I have used them is at dim sum restaurants; I had never thought of them existing outside of that context!

To begin we tried their “squid fries” with  roasted garlic aioli, charred lemon, herbs. These were fantastic! The whole fam was sweet to encourage my photo taking- they weren’t even embarrassed when I pulled out my food light. LOL. They’re so supportive <3

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Next up were the corn fritters with rum raisin butter. I think this may have been my favorite appetizer. They were sooo tasty.

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Now for a side: The “sweet pots” with sweet potato, tomato curry, coconut curry, brussels leaves, spicy peanuts, and fried onion. This was another favorite. I could have ate this as my meal alone- mmmm mmmm! What inspired flavors.

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Pictured below is the pork cheeks with fig jam, spicy mustard, and sourdough toast. We all thought it was pork butt, but turns out pork cheeks are actually the jowl of pig. This was DJ’s favorite!

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Another main was the “fire from the attic” with grilled salmon, broccolini, charred zucchini & shishito puree, Fresno chile, and parsnip chips. My mouth is watering again just typing this up!

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Aaaand maybe the most photogenic of all the items: The seared scallops with sweet corn puree, miso pesto, charred corn, asparagus, and fried mushrooms. I think the photo speaks for itself! Corn and scallops isn’t something you see together often, but it really works.

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And we aren’t done just yet… below is the Mole y Elotes with sweet corn puree, miso pesto, charred corn, asparagus, and fried mushrooms. I did not try this dish, but DJ loved it!

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Dessert time!! Wow oh WOW these desserts were good… so very unique, but absolutely jam-packed with all the flavor you could imagine.

First: The Banana Pudding Empanadas with burnt banana caramel, milk froth chips, banana & bourbon “lasagna”. This was my favorite of the two– I think I would go back one evening after dinner for this dessert alone (but then we may as well just get dinner there too 😉 ).

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And still soooo dang good was the Mexican Ice Cream sammich with cake batter marshmallow and braised almonds. I loved the little marshmallows! And how adorably plated is it?!

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It was such a treat that we were all able to get together this evening, and one of my favorite memories, easily, since living here. With our parents in town for business, me being between semesters, DJ not toooo crazy bogged down by school yet and Amy having time to come for a few days, it all worked out nearly serendipitously! (We did miss Pete though !)

We said our goodbyes and as I was walking my mom back to the car, we caught a lightening store in the distance. I love that Austin has thunderstorms. We never got them in CA, so I’ve missed them! My mom and I took some time to watch the electric streaks light up the sky and city below.

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On August 15th I met with a friend from church for coffee in the morning at Merit Coffee. I walked there from my apartment since it was only about a mile away.

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It’s such a modern little coffee shop. I’m going to definitely come back here to study sometime!

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I was burnin’ up after that walk, so I decided a watermelon sparkling water sounded absolutely refreshing to go along with my hot coffee for when I actually cooled down from the air conditioning.

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It was a yummy coffee & great chat! In the evening we had another event for DJ’s class. This time we all met at The Salt Lick, a pretty far drive, but well worth it! We mingled and chatted with his classmates and then had some awesome BBQ once again. Although we both agreed it’s not even in the same ballpark as Terry Black’s BBQ.

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We spent some time enjoying the gorgeous views outside & chatted with classmates.

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Then we found a spot on these steps and enjoyed some mouth-wateringly, I-could-cry-it’s-so-good peach cobbler. Now that the salt lick takes the cake on.

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It was a great evening. I had a blast chatting with DJ’s colleagues. One of them is from southern India where I did a nursing trip. He said he’d bring me some sambar (a staple of southern India I haven’t had since visiting there!!) I was beyond excited! (And to bring it full circle.. it’s the sambar we’re about to eat RIGHT now since DJ is home). See ya later!! I hope all is well <3

Question for you:

  • Do you like breadcrumbs on your mac and cheese?

xo <3

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Great Coffee, Burgers & Texas BBQ!

Present Day: Hey all- wow, I cannot thank you all for your love and support in the last post. It was comforting and healing for me to talk with you all and read your comments – I am just always in awe of how genuine and supportive this community is <3

Currently…I just have a million things running through my head that I’m incredibly eager to get out on paper (electronic paper). I originally wrote an intro for this to give a little update on what’s going on right now, but it ended up being soooo long, I’ll just make a whole other post for it. Life has been quite the rollercoaster- but, gosh, I’ve learned SO much this last couple months.. in all transparency- it’s been challenging and painful in some respects, but also so much growth has taken place. I look forward to articulating all that soon.

Anywayyy. Here is another post I wrote back in August. Who knows what I said, lol:

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I’ll just jump right in. July 31st I went on an evening walk before dinner after studying all day and saw the city in all its glory.

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August 1st and 2nd were also huge study days. A friend I met through blogging reached out when she knew I was going to be moving to Austin and sent me the most wonderful list of places to check out! One of the spots on her list was Bennu 24-7 coffee (yes, you read that right- twentay, fourrr, sevennnn!). I had a long day of studying ahead, so where better to camp out for the day (or night need be)?

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I had such a delicious cafe au lait with oat milk, and it fueled me to be extra productive that day. This will be a go-to spot once I begin my next semester. It was pretty busy though, should I need to make a note to go early before it fills up! Thank you so much for the awesome rec, Taylor!

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Around 6 pm I called it quits, went home, made dinner and ate dinner with DJ and then took a nice walk out on the trails.

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On August 3rd I went for an afternoon run (yeahhh, probably should try to stick to morning runs in this heat, lol).. but I saw this Brixton hat on a corn stalk. One of DJ’s favorite brands is Brixton so I had to take a pic and send it to him. It just seemed all very “Texas”.

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I decided to explore the city a bit more on foot. On my way I saw a group of kayakers- probably one of the city’s favorite past times, especially on Ladybird Lake. They are everywhere there is water! One of these days DJ and I said we have to wake up early and get out there to rent a kayak.

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In the evening for a date night we went to hopdoddy burger bar. I was having a MAJOR burger/fry/milkshake hankerin’ & this is one of the highest and most frequently reviewed spots on Yelp. We walked to the main one on South Congress ready for a long wait.

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After about 35 minutes we made it in! The vibe inside was upbeat, but laid back.

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We started off by sharing their Oreo milkshake. It was an one-of-a-kind delicious milkshake. Maybe my favorite ever… big statement… the only issue is the waitress brought it about over thirty minutes before our food & we like to dip fries in our shake. The second half we saved for that purpose was pretty much melted by the time the food came.. womp womp.

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When we finally did get our food, it was well worth the wait. DJ enjoyed their classic burger.

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I had their “impossible” vegan philly cheesesteak burger with sweet potato fries to share with DJ. I took one bite and died & went straight to heaven. I told DJ I haven’t experienced that flavor in so long- it tasted just, and I mean, just like a regular burger. (Burgers were one of the few actual meat items I genuinely enjoyed when I ate still ate meat). We were also raving about the sweet potato fries- I mean, just all the flavor was wow oh wow. Service was terrible- but would I go back and wait and endure the awful service for this all over again? You betchya!!!!

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On August 4th I don’t have many pics.. hmm I studied a ton I’m sure. I made us cauliflower gnocchi for dinner.. mmmm mmm !

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On August 5th I had this scrumptious toast with blackberries, almonds, Fage, stevia, and a dash of PB powder. I love the blend of different textures.

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I was going to go to Bennu to study, but I couldn’t find a spot. So I whipped my car around to go to a different coffee shop.. I ended up going to three different places before I found one that served decaf. How wild is that? (I had already hit my caffeine quota for the morning).

Anyways- the place I did find was actually located inside a book shop. It’s called Coffee People and is located within Book People. I had to walk about 1.5 miles from my car to get there, but I had already paid for a couple hours of parking, so I wasn’t going to throw that away for nothing. Smalls pretty much threw my back out carrying that thing around, especially in the heat- lol! I probably should make suuuuure I want to stay before paying for parking… lessons learned.

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The coffee was really tasty, and it was a productive few hours hanging out there.

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in the evening I went on a walk and saw these turtles swimmin’ around. So cute. I’ve seen quite a few turtles around here.. something else that reminds me of the Towpath.

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For dinner I made “chik’n fried rice” …. one of the tastiest darn concoctions we’ve had from leftovers!!! I had some brown rice, vegan chicken, eggs, and tons of veggies and stir-fried some minced garlic and soy sauce in there. DJ and I gobbled it up like it was our last supper. It’s definitely making its way into the rotation as a staple.

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On August 6th I decided to just study in the lobby of our apartment for a change of scenery.

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And once again, a walk to clear the ol’ noggin. So my allergies were pretty rough when I first moved here. I couldn’t figure out why, because I usually don’t get allergies. Welllllll below is all the pollen that lined the trail. Makes sense now! Apparently Austin is pretty notorious for bad allergies. They have calmed down since that first couple weeks once my body adjusted, but still act up on occasion.

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August 7th I walked to Starbucks to study and then on the way home enjoyed some of the Austin art. I thought you would all enjoy to see it too 🙂

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Love these messages.

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After dropping my books off at home I went out to the trail and saw this beautiful swan.

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On August 8th it was our anniversary!! DJ had wanted to try Super Coffee since we moved here, but we have been out of luck whenever we have looked for it. I made it my mission to find some on our anniversary for him. I stocked up on a couple different flavors so that they were there when he returned from orientation. He ended up liking it, but it really just takes like a protein shake. I think I ended up liking them more than he did, lol!

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For dinner I made us brown rice, asparagus, vegan chicken for DJ (per his request) and salmon for myself. I also made us a caprese to share.

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Aaaand he brought me home these absolutely stunning flowers <3 <3 He’s been the greatest husband I could ever imagine over these last four years. I am so immensely thankful for him and don’t know how I’m so blessed. It’s hard to put into words how much I admire and adore him.

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On Friday August 9th, I took my final exam first thing in the AM. I was planning on taking it Sunday, but I didn’t want it hanging over my head, and I felt prepared. In the afternoon I made a massive to-do list of everything I had put on the back-burner from the summer/this semester. DJ laughed at how I wrote out my list by hand on notebook paper. Does anyone else still write out their to-do lists by hand instead of on their phones? I just love how satisfying it is to cross it out by hand- I will write things down even after I’ve done them to cross them off sometimes 😆 At this point, I have knocked pretty much everything on it out, and it feels gooood! In the evening we had a spousal/partner banquet for everyone in DJ’s program. It was so much fun to meet some of DJ’s colleagues and put faces with names! I was itching to take a picture of the food because it was absolutely delicious and plated so pretty, but I restrained. I had a chile relleno that was very yummy- I think I’m gonna have to start making them at home, although it probably won’t be even close to as good as that one I had!

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When the banquet wrapped up we still had a ton of energy and the two us decided to go out on the town. We walked to Rainey street from our apartment and headed to Bangers. DJ had been here once before with some colleagues and wanted to take me back. I totally saw why- it was a happenin’ place!!

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The vibe was utterly relaxed and it was perfectly warm outside. We sat under the stringed lights enjoying a couple sours at a picnic table and watched the live band play.

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On Sunday we decided to watch an online sermon since DJ had quite a bit of school work to get done and family was coming later that day. Once all the fam arrived (My mom in law & Gordie and DJ’s twin sister, Amy!) we showed them our apartment and then set out to get some good BBQ. We had been told Terry Black’s BBQ is some of the best around so we gave it a go since it was within walking distance.

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Here’s the roundup!

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To say this BBQ is good would be the understatement of the century. This was phenomenal BBQ. Easily the best we’ve ever had. We couldn’t get over the flavors. Even the green beans were insane… they don’t look like much.. but whatever the heck magic they cook them in… I want the recipe. The mac and cheese was out of this world. And the hot sauces were wildly good. Everyone that ate the meat raved about it- DJ particularly was blown away by the brisket.

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I may or may not have restaged a photo shoot with the leftovers the next day… LOL. Add this to the list of “most-extra-things-I’ve-ever-done”.

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I have many more adventures to share- I’ll do that in another post so I don’t crash whatever device you’re reading on with all these pics, haha.

Questions for you:

  • What’s your favorite BBQ side item?
  • Do you make your to-do lists on paper by hand or on an electronic device?

xo <3

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Remembering Our Sweet Pup, Jade <3

Hi, my friends. I had planned on an update post, but last night we unexpectedly lost our sweet girl, Jade, due to health issues 😪 My heart is in so much pain. I want to use this post to reflect on our special memories with her over the last thirteen years so we may never forget them. Jade was the sweetest, spunkiest, full of personality and loyal dog to ever live (I know everyyyy dog owner says that, but it’s trueee). I will never forget when we first met her … we were visiting a family friend’s home and there was the tiniest, cutest little black and white pup. We assumed it was their new dog, but my mom said, “meet your new puppy!”. My sister and I were ecstatic. I remember my mom coming into my room the next morning to wake me up for school with little tiny Jade in her arms- I was wide awake in a moment and just giddy with excitement that this pup was ours (if you need to get your middle school kids out of bed, just get puppy, hah). I couldn’t wait to get home from school just to be with her. We went between names for her … Shamu… Oreo…. Mia (this was her name for three days, but it just didn’t suit her). We finally settled on Jade, and it suited her perfectly. She was the most energetic puppy, to the point where it would alarm people, but hey- she just loved everyone SO much. She was wild and crazy in her younger days, no doubt, who can relate? She was such an easy pup to train. We taught her so many tricks—all the typical ones – “sit”, “roll-over”, “shake”, etc. …. but then we stepped up to more advance ones: “yoga”, “speak” and my personal favorite was “sneeze “on command.

She was one smart cookie. Some of my favorite memories with her were our runs together. I would take her without a leash to our favorite Northeast Ohio trails and she would trot along right next to me. When she was a super teeny puppy, my dad would laugh at the way she would clumsily run back and forth in the front yard and would narrate what she would be saying if she could talk. It would have my sister and me in stitches. I think that adds another layer of heartache- the fact that my Dad was still here and knew her- losing Jade is a reminder of the time that’s passed, and it’s painful on that level too.

Some funny quirks about Jadey:

She loved to cuddle, but she HATED if you moved your feet while she was lying on them. She’d give you a growl and a side eye. Do not dare disturb her perfect position! But she LOVED having her arms scratched. If you stopped scratching it, she would keep it out and be like, “um excuse me?” until you started scratching it again.

My mom would pry us home from college with pictures like this saying, “Jadey misses you”.

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She had an irrational fear of toasters. We have no idea where this came from, but we had to replace our toaster with a toaster oven because she’d freak out every time we brought out the actual toaster.

We couldn’t play basketball with her around because she would literally pounce (we’re talkin’ all four legs, Air Bud mode) on top of the ball every chance she could. She played way too good an offense, no getting that ball from her.

She put up with our constant, high-pitched baby talk to her. And countless kisses.

She was always up for a road trip. One of her favorite spots to go was our Grandma & Grandpa’s in Traverse City Michigan. She knew she’d be spoiled by them. We passed most of our time by swimming in the Bay, and at the edge of the dock she’d always want to join us, but was terrified to jump. She would whine as she kept peering further and further over the edge working up the courage to take the plunge. It took coaxing from all of us, and then finally she would jump in! We’d all cheer for her, and you could tell she was quite proud of herself. <3

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She LOVED peanut butter and it was so cute to watch the way her mouth smacked after she ate it (especially out of her Kong) & without a doubt, her favorite candy was Twizzlers. You could not eat them around her or she’d go berserk trying to get to them. She also loved ice cream time because she knew one of us would let her lick the bowl (but mainly Pete, that’s why she liked him best🤣) . *peep the spoon*

img_4838Every time you came home she would pretend to be excited to see you for 0.05 seconds, before running over to her bowl to ask for food, even if she’d already been fed (we overfed her now and again due to this manipulation).

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She would show up in the background of blog photos here and there, mostly featuring food, naturally 😉 She knew how to put on those “begging eyes”. And man, oh man, was she able to put on the charm when she wanted food from you!

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W-A-L-Ks with my mom were her favorite daily activity <3

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She hated getting her picture taken, and half my pics of her are blurry. It looks like we have to pin her down for most pics cause as soon as she saw that camera, she’d try to bolt.

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She’d randomly have sprinting fiascos around the house where she’d run the halls and then couch to couch. We’d end up playing games of tag with her and any rug on the floor didn’t stand a chance.

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She thought she was an alpha dog even though she was smaller than many of her friends, especially her best friend, Apollo!

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She loved anything/anywhere with mud and water. Hence, she loved visiting the cabin in Georgia where she was able to roam and adventure freely with her cousin Eli.

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I could go on and on. Jade was always there through many firsts, lasts, Netflix binges, late night studies, holidays, meals, hum-drum days, some tears and countless joyful memories. She was an interwoven part of our life and family, and there is a massive hole now without her. She will be missed beyond words, loved deeply, and remembered forever. RIP, our sweet Jadey. ❤️💔❤️

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Adventurin’ in Austin!

Hey all! Another back- logged post coming at you!! This semester is just nuts- I’m so stinkin’ sad I’ve had to take such a big step back from the blogging community… but I do think October maybe will be a bit lighter ?! Anyways- have a great week ahead!

On July 15th we continued unpacking and studying. I was trying to catch up as much as I could after taking a full three days off from the books. It was a wonderful break, but also it was pretty tough to get back to it.

On July 16th I did a big Trader Joe’s trip. I found this Organic Sparkling Apple Cider which was quite refreshing and tasty. 🍏

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In the evening I made us salmon, cauliflower gnocchi and asparagus. We are both obsessed with the cauli. gnocchi from Trader Joes.

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On July 17th it was more studying. It was a rough day though. I kept feeling the need to get the whole DMV process rolling since we only had until the 31st to get it done. I had a hard time focusing, so I decided to just get all these logistics done so I had a clearer mind to study. In order to get my car registered and a license, I had to get my state emissions inspection done. When pulling out of our garage I was so focused on not hitting the car parked closely next to me that I backed my drivers side across a cement pillar. It destroyed my mirror and some of the body. I was soo angry at myself. It was one of those moments where I knew I was way too overwhelmed and trying to do too much in a short period. I called my mom in the parking lot of where you get the emissions checked and she kindly pointed out my car probably wouldn’t pass with a broken mirror. So scratch that (pun intended). I went to a nearby mechanic on the verge of a panic attack, thinking how badly I needed to get back to studying. The guy could tell I was overwhelmed, took me without an appointment, temporarily secured the mirror so it would pass the inspection and helped me order a new one for the cheapest price available. He called his friends over at a local State Emissions inspection spot and told them the scenario and that a new one was ordered so they didn’t fail me. It was the kindest thing in the world. I called my mom again after thanking her for the heads up and explained what happened after- she said, “That’s Texas for ya! We take care of each other”. It was so above and beyond of him.

Anyways, In the evening we enjoyed a four cheese pizza from TJ’s. It was really yummy. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad pizza from TJ’s & they have so many options!

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July 18th-19th was study/unpack/study. DJ did meet up with some friends that he worked with back in CA that were visiting for dinner. I wish I could have joined but I had a mound of assignments to get to. He did find a cool little spot called The Lost Lei that he said we’ll have to go back to sometime! During one of those days I went to the DMV and sat with Smalls for over three hours waiting to get my new Texas license. I also made a trip to HEB to pick up some more essentials. I love HEB, especially now that I know how to navigate it. The prices are awesome, and if there are coupons available for items they will be right in front of them on the shelves. You just grab one and take them to check out. It’s saved us a lot already!

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July 20th was more of the same, but we did treat ourselves to our first meal out since moving to Texas! Yes, it took us nearly a month to actually eat out (except for our one small, quick meal at Cane’s).

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We chose to try out Torchys Tacos. This is a popular Austin Taco staple and one of the most frequently recommended spots for us to check out.

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They have several locations all over the city, but the one downtown was within walking distance so it made it easy peasy. I love how accessible downtown is for us– definitely will save us a ton on parking in the long run.

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They have tons of options on their menu, something for every dietary preference! Their tacos are individually only about $4.50 a piece so we ordered several different ones and their Green Chile Queso and Chips.

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It was probably the best queso I have ever had. I think it was my favorite part of everything I tried. It is addictively delicious 😋 – I barely could leave room for my actual tacos haha.

DJ ordered the Trailer Park with fried chicken, the Democrat with barbacoa and Crossroads with smoked beef brisket. He loved them all and said he couldn’t choose a favorite.

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I ordered the Independent with fried portobello mushrooms and the Mr. Pink with seared ahi tuna. I expected to prefer the ahi tuna one more, but it was a bit too salty and saucy for me, where the Independent was the most amazing blend of flavors!

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Their margaritas are delicious too!

After, we decided to walk around and explore the city a bit.

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I just adore the character of this city. I will discuss all my thoughts on my first impressions of Austin in a separate post!

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So pretty pretty.

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On July 21st for dinner I made a zucchini pasta with turkey meatballs for DJ and I just ate a portion without the meatballs. Not pictured- garlic bread on the side. Mmm !

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July 22nd for lunch I made a salmon salad with tzatziki. Such a perfect summer lunch!

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For dinner I made us “chik’n” from Lightlife, corn, and brown rice for dinner. DJ is fully on board the “Chik’n” train too. I appreciate how open he always is to trying my vegetarian meals!

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Even though I had to work on school assignments through the whole evening we did put on Bach in the background.

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July 23rd I worked on submitting my clinical request form and DJ helped me take a head shot for my application. I also got my annual TB testing done for clinicals. We sold our big couch since it wouldn’t fit in our new apartment and dropped it off to the buyer. It was a pain in the BUTT to get out the door- but it feels good to have it off our hands. Back story with the couches: We got basically the cheapest ones we could find at Big Lots when we lived in Indiana for our first town house, and planned on reselling them at the end of the year- but fell in love with them so have had them since. We still have the smaller love seat so it’s perfect for just the two of us.

On July 24th we had leftovers in the evening as well as a caprese salad.

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July 25th I made DJ some tacos he was craving & I enjoyed my massive garden salad.

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July 26th it was study, study, study. I went to Starbucks for a change of scenery and took along a Quest bar. I tried the Chocolate Sprinkle Doughnut for the first time, it was fine, but I still prefer the Cookie Dough or S’mores flavor most.

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I remember that day being kinda emotional and stressful. I worked hard studying all that day and then on July 26th I told DJ I needed something to look forward to to stay motivated that day. We decided to see Toy Story 4 in theaters that evening. We actually had chipped away at the first three Toy Story’s in the evening before going to sleep, so all of them were fresh in our minds and made us even more stoked to see Toy Story 4! Better yet, we had two movie coupons so it was a free date night (minus the sodas we picked up).

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This was one of the cozy theaters with the reclining chairs! We will definitely have to go back. I usually have such a hard time sitting through a couple hour movie, but it was much needed to turn my brain off.

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We really enjoyed Toy Story 4! It was so cute. I had no idea how they were going to make a fourth after the full-circle ending of the third, but we think they pulled it off! I told DJ we need to go movies more often.

July 27th was another full day of studying (sorry, I sound like a broken record!), and since we were getting low on groceries we decided to eat something quick within walking distance. Many people have suggested Home Slice down here, especially because they know my obsession with a good NY slice.

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We were going to just eat at the restaurant, but since the wait was over two hours and it was already 7:45 we decided to just go next door to their “More Slice” Slice House to pick up to-go slices. The slice I mainly wanted to try was the white pie & spinach, and it was a special they had- love it when that works out!!!

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Here she is in all her beauty!!! It was phenomenal. This was one of my favorite slices of pizza I’ve ever had. In CA it was really hard to find good pizza, and when we finally did (At Capo’s), it was sooo darn expensive. This $4 slice is somethin’ of my dreams. I knew I loved Austin upon the discovery of this slice of pizza. 🤣

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We also tried their Marg which was fantastic. DJ tried their pepperoni, but I think the consensus is to get their white pie if you ever go. But also, you can’t go wrong.

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We walked around South Congress after. It has a retro, funky, yet hip, vibe. I think it’s my favorite part of the city. Next time we’re there I’ll take more pictures to give you a better idea.

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On July 28th I went on my first run outside and discovered an amazing running trail that goes for miles! While it was hot, it wasn’t as bad as expected. I do go through sunscreen like it’s going out of style now. Also, while this pic of a bat under the bridge may be cool, the smell under that bridge is gosh awful. I have to hold my breath every time I run under it- who knew bats could stink so badly?!

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I adore this trail though. It snakes along Lady Bird Lake and is easily accessible from our apartment without driving. I have put in quite a few miles on it since discovering it. It actually reminds me of the Towpath back in OH which adds a comforting “home” feel. I was worried about giving up my walking path back in CA because it was such a therapeutic part of my day, but this is 10000% better.

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This feels long enough so I’ll wrap it up here. Even though the whole first month was insanity and chaos and stressful, the transition was all-in-all smooth! We no longer have obnoxiously loud upstairs neighbors (I could cry tears of relief, truly) and the city just exudes this vibe of excitement and fun. Can’t wait to share more!

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Question for you:

  • Have you seen any good movies lately?

xo <3

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Halston & Kevin’s Wedding!

Present Day: Hi all! How are you? I am popping in to toss up this post before heading to my on campus festivities. Festivities may be a bit of an euphemism–I am genuinely excited, just nervous ! I took my first exam of the semester yesterday- it went well so I feel immensely relieved about that. It helps to have at least one good grade under the belt. Every day has been sun-up to sun-down studying. We haven’t been out of the apartment in three weeks except for school (for DJ), studying in coffee shops here and there (for me), and Church. I let myself outside a few minutes a day (yes, like a dog 🤣) – I literally feel like a prisoner to these books- but it will be worth it! And this mini trip is probably going to be great for my mental health. Anyways- I am pulling out another post that I have archived. I’m only three months behind 🙈 Hope you enjoy! Back to the books for me..

Back when I originally wrote this:

It’s Wedding Time!!! This post is going to be a lot of blurry photos, but the best of memories. Since I wasn’t able to actually take a lot of pictures this weekend this is a conglomeration of captured moments from friends and family- so thank you to all who did take pics! When we get the professional photos, I’ll do a whole other post going into more details about the ceremony/decor etc. because my sister did a spectacular job–it’ll just be more fun to discuss with the pics too 🙂 On the morning of July 12th, Hal and I slept in and headed down to workout in the hotel gym around 10 am.

After getting some great runnin’ in, we went back to the room and enjoyed some breakfast snacks we had for all the bridesmaids. Then I met up with my older sister, Andrea, for some coffee at the Starbucks at Bayside across the street. It was a short span of time, but one of those special times I won’t forget. I value my time with my older sis so much. I’m very thankful for her <3

After getting ready for dinner in the afternoon, we all headed over to the actual rehearsal in a hotel banquet room. Even though the ceremony was taking place on a boat, we just made do in the hotel since we didn’t actually have access to the boat until the day of. After an easy peasy rehearsal, it was time for the the rehearsal dinner!

This was not your traditional rehearsal dinner… no, no.. this was an epic upon epic rehearsal dinner. It took place in the coolest Peruvian venue, called Candela Gastrobar.

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On various screens across the restaurant, there was a slideshow of pictures from Kevin and Halston’s childhood up to present day. Many of those pictures I had forgotten about or never even seen before- they pulled at all our heart strings! After a beautiful prayer we had an authentic Peruvian dinner. Everything was phenomenal- but that ceviche in particular- yum!

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Both families danced to all types of Latin music late into the evening…DJ and I practiced our salsa (I taught him what I had learned a bit from the day before). Although we did learn later that I, in fact, taught him all wrong- whoopsies! Good thing we had plenty of seasoned salsa dancers to help us out! Most of all, it was just amazing to have so many people we love in one place.

After the dinner, a big group of us went to the Bayside area to just hang out and listen to the live band. It was awesome to get to know some of Halston and Kevin’s friends a bit better. That’s something that’s so great about weddings- you get to know people you may not otherwise and meet these people that have been so formative in the couple’s lives. 282d159c-dfd2-40ae-8cc9-508c35c2a549

Even though this pic is blurry, I love the shot of these two! We had to separate them right before midnight to make sure they didn’t see each other the actual day of their wedding until the alter, of course! hehe. We’re not superstitious… just a little stitious.

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In the morning of July 13th (wedding day!!!) all the bridesmaids gathered in the conjoined rooms around 10:30 am. We had all the snacks set out and Halston had bridesmaids gifts for us all <3 So sweet! She gifted us beautiful robes, sunglasses, notes, and engraved champagne glasses. Truly above & beyond!

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Toasting to the bride <3

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Halston received a gorgeous bouquet from Kevin unexpectedly as we were getting ready. Such a sweet little surprise. Annnnd did you actually get married if you didn’t get a coffee from Starbucks that says “Bride” as your name? 🙂 One of the bridesmaids’s husband so kindly picked up this order for all of us!

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We all got our hair did and then our makeup done. I usually don’t prefer an “up do” but they were entirely necessary for the boat! After getting this particular up do though, I was allll about it! She did a wonderful job with it looking relaxed and not too tight. We also got our makeup done- which was a TREAT. I hardly recognized myself since I struggle to even put on mascara most days haha.

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We Ubered in different cars to get to the venue. But to get to the boat we had to walk across the main downtown pier. So… what did we do? We walked across the pier in our robes of course, lol! People were probably like “What’s happening?!”. We definitely got some confused looks our way. I forgot to get a picture of the back of my hair after it was done, but you can get an idea in this pic.

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Made it to the boat!!

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The bridesmaids all went to the hull of the boat to get ready. We changed into our dresses and then got all weepy as Hal showed off her stunning gown. I have chills just typing this thinking back to that moment.

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I mean holy cow… have you ever seen someone so gorgeous? I know I’m biased… but come n’!! How is this my little seeeester?

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I can’t express how happy I am her for her, or proud of her I am just for the woman she is. The love of a sister goes deeper than is possibly expressible.

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After pics and praying over Halston, we headed to the second floor to wait with the groomsmen to go up the stairs to the main deck where the actual wedding would take place. We won’t mention the fact that we realized last minute the rings and a groomsman were missing… but all that’s important is that they both appeared in time! LOL. Phew. What’s a wedding without a close call?!

Our beautiful Mom of the Bride & Pete <3

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And here are my niece and nephew walking down the aisle! <3 They melt my heart.

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Here she comes with our brother! Hal decided not do a first look, and Kevin’s reaction was priceless when he saw her.

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Y’all, it was the most beautiful wedding. I could hardly keep my cool through it- it was so personal and they really made an effort to glorify God through the entire ceremony. I think my favorite part (besides the actual vows) was the worship. They played a worship song and had everyone face a cross at the stern of the ship while we sang together.

After the wedding, during the cocktail hour, the bridal party went down to the beach for pictures! Here are a couple preview pics we received from the photographer.

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After the photography sesh, we did our entrance into the banquet room, gave our speeches, and then had an absolutely delicious dinner!! I had the salmon and salad- it was probably the best banquet salmon I’ve had. Everyone was raving about the food.

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And of course, I have to share this cake! 😍

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After dinner we went up to the deck where the ceremony was to dance the night away!!! It was an unforgettable experience- cruising along the Bay with music playing, the best energy and the warm, but perfectly breezy, Miami air. Time for the first dance- they had a medley of songs they danced to. Here is a snippet! Can they cut a rug, or what?!

And I was in absolute tears when she danced with our grandpa. Another favorite moment of the entire day.

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Once we re-docked we grabbed a few more pics.

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One of my best friends from childhood, Melissa, was able to make it too! I was so excited to see her, even briefly! ❤️

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One more pic of the view of the city from the dock.

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To both Kevin and Halston’s surprise, they had a Rolls Royce awaiting to take them away for their honeymoon! Talk about taking off in style!

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Ok ok ….One more picture with the South Beach Lady 🙂

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After the wedding we walked back through the main pier, this time actually dressed in societally acceptable clothing.

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We decided to go back to the hotel to get changed and then come back out since the night was still young! (Well, I guess not that young, but it was our last night in Miami so we had to soak it up). On our way, I spotted this popsicle spot called Wonderfruits Bubble Tea & Pop Shop.

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It caught my eye and it sounded so refreshing!!! I was craving something sugary, so DJ and I opted to try the Oreo flavor. Kinda goes against the “fruit” idea, but hey, it was perfect for what we were cravin’! I would like to try that Kiwi one if we ever return- mmm mmmm!

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Picture of the city down the street as we were walking back. Miami is such a vibrant city!

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Back to Bayside we go..

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We hung out in the same place as the night before, and it was such a perfect end to the trip. We found a quiet and peaceful little spot on the stairs near the water and the band and talked allll about how wonderful the wedding was.

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On July 14th we were up and at em’ to catch our flight back to TX. We said goodbye to our family and then grabbed a Lyft to the airport.

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When we made it through security, I scoped out a Starbucks and grabbed a pizza from Pizza Hut for us to share. I just picked the pepperoni off my slices to make it a plain cheese ‘za. In recent years I feel like I have rediscovered a fondness for simplicity with certain foods. I used to think “vanilla” or “plain cheese” was lame (for me personally)…. but sometimes just simple is best, especially when you have that craving! For example, the vanilla bean cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory is one of my favorites on their menu, and a plain cheese pizza can really just hit the spot (especially if ya add a little crumbled parm and crushed red pepper 😉 )<—- does that defeat the purpose of the simplicity? 😆

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Also, Jennie has blogged a couple times about her love of Pizza Hut’s pizza. I haven’t had it probably since I was nine or ten and grew up solely on DiGiorno & a local place called Georgio’s, so I was eager to try it again. It was so delicious. I know this probably isn’t revolutionary- but I was pretty wow-ed. I am all about trying the local gems, but when stuck in an airport with limited options it forced us to try it out, and it surpassed ALL expectations. This makes me question everything- what other food chains are all around me that would just blow my mind? Does truly no one out-pizza the hut? Gripping questions and the existential foodie crisis continues.

Question for you:

  • Are there any “plain” foods that you love?

xo <3

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The Local House & Hal’s Bachelorette Party!

My fingers are buzz, buzz, buzzing—I am soooo excited to write this post! Our weekend in Miami for Halston’s wedding was one of the best weekends of all time. I cannot stop thinking about it! After our morning workout, my mom, sister and I got ready for a girls’ day out!

First stop: The Local House in Miami for Brunch. If you follow my foodstagram, I’m sure you are sick of my endless posts of this place by now.. but alas I can’t help myself, this place is the ultimate brunch spot!

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From the palm tree print scaling the ceilings to the wooden tiki paneling, a tropical vibe was fully realized the moment we stepped through the entrance.

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Even though we sat outside I had to share the inside decor as well… holy maloly–😍

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Whenever the three of us go out to eat we usually order a few dishes and all share. We have similar taste buds & this way we can try more than one thing on the menu.

First up: We tried avocado toast with poached eggs and mixed greens.

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Second up: Fried eggs on avocado toast with mixed greens (We had to make sure we had enough avocado toast to go around, lol). That toast was ohhh so yummy.

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Third up: The Seafood Scramble with gulf shrimp, blue crab, lobster, fine herbs, tobiko, and grilled sourdough. It was packed with flavor. You could tell the seafood was fresh as could be. This is the dish to get- truly kriller 😉

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After our wonderful brunch together, we went to Starbucks to load up on more caffeine while getting our nails done!

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I rarely ever get my nails done … but it felt so nice to get pampered for a day! I went with a super neutral tone on my hands since my bridesmaid dress was a bright color & then tried to match my toes to my dress. I felt so empowered with my nails did- isn’t it funny how that small detail can make a difference?

While we were getting our nails done, I received a text from DJ that he had passed by his all time favorite podcast studio (The Dan Le Batard show on ESPN) and he saw the hosts doing a skit outside as he was listening to the podcast in real time. How stinkin’ cool is that?! Needless to say, that was an all-time moment for him on the trip.

We returned to the Air BnB (which was located inside a hotel), got all our suitcases together, and then headed to the second hotel for the weekend where the bridal party and all the guests were staying for the wedding.

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Time to set up for the Bachelorette party! I couldn’t go too crazy since I had to stuff everything into my suitcase, but it all came together. Since we had conjoined rooms for the bridesmaids I made Hal camp out in the other one until we were done setting up.

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When all the girls arrived I handed out a Bachelorette Bucket List for the evening. Below is a small snippet of the list, hehe, but there was quite a bit on it.

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**Kevin is Halston’s Fiance’s name to clarify for those wondering where that came from!

We then headed out to our first stop for the evening: The Broken Shaker. This place was such an awesome hidden gem. You would have no idea it existed from the street, but when you walk inside what appears to be a standard industrialized building, you enter into a true oasis.

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We had a reserved table– upon arriving we claimed our territory, put in our appetizer order and then strolled the property.

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The drinks were spectacular. The true definition of “refreshing” especially the mojito!

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Even the little tucked away areas were adorable.

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We also had to get tons of pictures with the bride to be before hand- this is a smallllll fraction, hehe.

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Once the appetizers came, we scurried back to our table, ready to chow! We had this lil’ friend waiting for us on the water jug.

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We enjoyed some plantain chips with a delicious aioli and artichoke fries with tzatziki sauce. All tasty & the perfect appetizers!

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During my Bachelorette prep, I looked up a ton of Bachelorette party games before hand, and none of them seemed like they would top What Do You Meme. So I brought this along, and we had so much fun playing it! I dare say it’s my favorite game- it always leaves us belly laughing.

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The “I Do” Crew + The Stunning Bride-to-be!!

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Alright… Dinner time!! For dinner we went to a place called Delores, But You Can Call Me Lolita (Yes, that is the actual full name of the restaurant- quite a mouth full, eh?) (quite literally 😜) . It’s a two story restaurant- we requested to sit on their rooftop that overlooks the city.

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I knew it was beautiful from pictures I had seen of it before hand, but wow- it was more stunning & adorably detail-oriented than I could have even imagined. It is elegant, yet relaxed and has a sophisticated feel without being stuffy. I could not have imagined a better spot for a Bachelorette party dinner! I highly recommend if you are looking for one in Miami.

Even their menu is fun to read and find all the little nuggets of creativity.

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We called this Halston’s Iron Throne. Well, actually, none of the other bridesmaids watched Game of Thrones, so I guess that’s a little inside joke with me, myself, and I. 😆

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The menu was affordable, yet contemporary and chic. It totally gave the feel of eating “fancy” without the price tag. (Which is super hard to find in Miami). I split a salad and the octopus with Halston which was all spectacular.

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After dinner we went back to the hotel room and all gathered around and opened Hal’s gifts 🙂

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On our way out to hit the town round #2, we saw my entire family in the lobby restaurant/bar! Hal got this sweet picture with our grandma and grandpa <3 It was my first time seeing them that weekend, as well as my first time seeing my Aunt and Uncle since they arrived. So fun to have a quick mini fam reunion! DJ hung with them the whole day, so it was great to get a quick hug from him and hear how much fun he was having. My grandma said DJ was her buddy for the day- so sweet.

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Time to get this Bachelorette dancing! Halston requested going to a place that had Salsa or Latina music; she loves Bachata too—  but the one main place we found that was playing it was soooo crowded. Apparently we found the best place in town, it was just not the best kept secret! It made it hard to even move. After deciding to maybe try somewhere else, we wondered around a little and then we found this super hole in the wall spot. Even though there was hardly anyone there we had a blast. The band even gave us instruments and we were given a little dance lesson 💃🏼 . Sometimes it’s the unplanned/spontaneous moments that end up being the best!

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Here is a couple of us attempting to learn to do this dance (but I have no idea which one- Salsa? Bachata?). I was failing miserably either way 🤣 but it was so much fun!

We went back to the hotel and played a few more games, enjoyed our snacks, and I handed out the gift to the Bucket List winner- Vanessa! (One of Halston’s best friends from Colombia!). It was an unforgettable day/ night celebrating Hal! 🥳 💕🎊

Questions for you:

  • Have you been to Miami?
  • Do you like to dance ?

xo <3

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First Days in Austin & Flying to Miami!

Hi everyone! Ok, now I am dipping into my back-logged post reserves. It’s 12 am, I’ve been studying since 7 am… and that’s pretty much how every day this week has gone, and I think this semester is going to go. It is a DOOZY. I do have my on campus intensives soon, so I’ll be traveling for those which I’m excited for – just a lot of prep until then. But, for now, I have a few posts on standby to share :). Hope you all are so well 💕❤️

So now our posts moving forward are all going to be from our time in Austin (well some Miami too). I am so stoked to recap the rest of the summer. It’s been probably the busiest few months I can remember, but all packed with fun (and only a couple moments of panic, hah).

Once we returned home from TJ’s, I whipped us up some Indian Food with their naan. I loveee TJ’s naan (both the fresh & the frozen). They have such a wide variety of options for vegan and vegetarians too (they have a Vegan Tikka Masala that is so yummy!).

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We spent the rest of the night unpacking and getting settled as much as we could.

The morning of July 4th I started the day with a slice of toast with yogurt, strawberries, salted cashews and a dash of stevia. I love the salty/sweet combo, especially with coffee.

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I spent the whole day studying. Kinda a bummer when it is a holiday — but gotta do what you gotta do, ya know? DJ was really understanding & he worked on getting organized/getting ready for his semester too.

In the evening we decided to go clear our heads and walk around outside. Basically upon stepping out our door we were in the audience of the Austin Symphony. Everyone was congregated to hear them play and witness the massive Fireworks display- there was an excitement and anticipation buzzing through the city, vendors lined the sidewalks and food trucks emanated smells of fair food that made us involuntarily salivate. The food truck scene is incredible here!

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We walked along a river and soaked up the views of the city. We even saw our first city rat that scurried past us on the trail. Eep!

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When walking back to find a place to stand and watch the fireworks, we were passing a set of porta potties, and I heard a mom tell her daughter in a scolding tone as they left one of them, “No more peeing till we get back to the hotel, that was traumatizing enough”. It cracked me up.

We found a spot on a bridge to watch and it was nice to turn off my tired brain for a couple moments and to share this moment with DJ. We haven’t had a Fourth of July together since we moved to California (ironically it was actually during our last move too!)- the last few summers he was at the baseball stadium for game nights and fireworks.

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On July 5th, we both went to a nearby Starbucks to crank out work all day. Since we didn’t have Wifi, we changed scenery between the lobby of our apartment and Starbucks. We had a gift card, so we figured we would use that up before venturing out to different local coffee shops.

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In the afternoon we made a Target Run to get a few things we needed like cleaning supplies, bowls to replace some we lost in the cooler, toilet paper, etc.

We found these bowls for .79 a piece & we love them!!! They are dishwasher and microwave safe too. Also, they are the perfect size. (My oatmeal doesn’t overflow, which is the ultimate test, amiright?!)

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For this meal I made a murasaki potato stuffed with roasted artichoke hearts, chik’n from Lightlife, and green goddess dressing from TJs.

July 6th was the same ol’ as the day before… but with one special highlight- we tried Cane’s for the first time! Now, this place is very hyped up. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone who doesn’t just rave about it. So naturally we had to try it out!

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We ordered a basic chicken tender basket with fries and their Texas Toast. DJ LOVED their chicken and we were both obsessed with their Texas Toast and fries… but maybe my favorite part… the sauce!!! That doggone Cane’s sauce- oh me, oh my.. so good!! Obviously, we get the hype (it 1000000% lives up to it) & we will be back. I have since found myself craving that Texas Toast & sauce combo– mmm mmmm!

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We took another evening walk that night.

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July 7th was the same ol’ too.

July 8th…nothing new- just study, study, study. I did have a pretty serious moment of panic this day though. I had to take my exam for class on the morning of the 10th before flying out for my sisters wedding that afternoon. Originally, the cable guys were supposed to come on the 8th to set up the Wifi, but then something came up and it looked like they wouldn’t be able to come until after we returned home. I needed that secure Wifi for my exam (public access Wifi can knock you off easily, plus it’s hard to focus in public). We worked it out that if they had a cancellation they would come on the 9th. I prayed hard there would be a cancellation, and luckily there was! I was so thankful…it all worked out as it always does!

Anyways- random non-segued transition- at TJ’s I saw this Fresh Texas Homegrown Okra I could not pass up. I don’t know what it was about this Okra, but gosh it was sooo tasty.

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For dinner one night I made us okra, eggs, and brown rice. Kinda an odd combo, but it worked!

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July 9th we started the day with some PB toast with honey and eggs. The movers came that morning too!

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Since I needed to crack down in the books, I headed to Starbucks while DJ helped get the movers going. Time to put in one last massive day of studying!

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Before heading home for the afternoon I grabbed DJ a protein chicken wrap from Starbucks.

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The rest of the evening was spent packing for Miami and unpacking a couple boxes here and there. In the morning of July 10th, first thing I did was take my exam. After an hour and a half I submitted the exam, and was thrilled to see my grade (we get them automatically because it’s electronically graded).

It set the day and trip off on a great note 🙂 It was such a relief to have that behind me! We finished getting our suitcases together and then left our scattered boxes to go to the airport.

Austin’s airport is awesome! It emulates the hip/happenin’ chill vibe of the actual city itself.

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I sniffed out some coffee from Ruta Maya and then sat down to start my next unit. Usually I give myself the rest of the day off from studying after an exam, but since we had my sister’s wedding festivities the entire weekend I couldn’t afford to take our travel day off too. Worth it though! Anticipating all the fun that was coming helped keep me motivated.

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Plane time!

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We arrived in Miami in the evening. We made a trip to the grocery store with my mom to get some snacks for the Bachelorette party the following day. Something that we were fascinated by was the way you get your groceries down… they have a system where you put your cart on an escalator and then just meet it at the bottom! Too funny.

 

 

When we got made it back to the Air Bnb we were staying at, DJ ordered a burger from Five Guys. He ordered a double, not realizing their standard burger is already a double so ended up with three patties. Lol. Safe to say he got his protein intake met for the day.

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I worked that evening on getting everything ready as much as I could for the Bachelorette party and then hit the hay.

In the morning, my mom, sister and I all worked out at the AirBnb together. Workouts are all the more fun with them by my side!

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Ahh- I’m so excited for the next post where I’ll recap the first half of Miami. Thanks for reading 🙂

Questions for you:

  • Do you like Raising Cane’s?
  • Do you have a favorite fast food “sauce”?

xo <3

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Friday Favorites #25!

Happy Friday to you all! I am on my last day of break and did not get quite caught up on everything as I was hoping… a few unexpected things came up and somehow this break is already over. Next semester is going to be double the load of what the summer was… which I don’t even know how that’s possible, eek!.. hence, I may be a bit MIA again till the holidays 🙁 (I do have some posts backlogged to share though!!). And of course, I will pop in when I can, I just may not be as active as I’d like to be… we’ll see how it goes. Thanks for being patient. Anyway, I do have a bit of time this AM to whip out a Friday Favorites 🙂

  1. Hello mat from Walmart. In the Bay Area we didn’t have a welcome rug and didn’t really need one since we were rarely bringing in dirt or dust. However, in Texas our shoes get pretty covered from walking around the trails. I found this rug at Walmart to help the cause! It’s technically an outdoor rug, but it works inside our foyer area.

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2. Texas Blooms. I have loved discovering the different types of flowers/wildlife local to the area. I do have to be careful to not touch the foliage lining the trails though because it’s littered with poison ivy! (And, yes! I did find a new walking/running path (wooohooo!)- I’ll discuss that more in a recap post.. eventually… hah).

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3. Impractical Jokers! Okay y’all, this is one of our favorite shows ever ever!!!! This is so funny! We watch a 20ish minute episode occasionally before going to sleep, and it has us in stitches every time.

4. Boxed. I love writing letters, sending hand written notes, and even have a pen pal from high school… so we go through stamps like nobody’s business. Going to the USPS for stamps is always a pain in the butt and a big waste of time. I found these stamps in bulk at Boxed- Plus, at check out you get to add two free add-ons, so I chose the bare baked crunchy apples and a protein Kind bar. What a deal. I am going to use them more for bulk buys in the future! If you use LOVEBULK you can get 15% off your first order plus free shipping 🙂

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5. theo organic fair trade salted almond dark chocolate I picked this up in Miami to have for our Bachelorette night… and all of us were going crazy over how good this chocolate is!

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6. Greeting Cards for every occasion.I found a roundup of the forty cutest cards from Amazon for only $12.99. I have already used several— they really do have every occasion and the cards are adorable! This is just a small sample below.

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7. Cauliflower Gnocchi from Trader Joe’s. The obsession is still going strong.

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8. Mariell Earrings . I felt like these were the most perfect simple, but pretty bridesmaids earrings. I’m sure I’ll be able to wear them again for other occasions too.

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9. Niksen. This is a Dutch concept of literally (I’m trying to use “literally” when it is literally in only a literal sense 😉 ) doing nothing with no agenda. We are not meant to be productive all the time… this is a great reminder to take a few moments to just “be”. It reminds me of Psalm 46:10… “Be still and know that I am God”. How often do we just “be still”? It was very thought provoking for me. Time to put it into practice!

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10. Today I did save the best for last!….. DRUM ROLL……. Amy started a blog!!!! It’s called Rightfully Lost & is going to be your new favorite travel blog. When it comes to traveling, she knows what’s up. She does world-wide expeditions, often solo, so if you want to know how to do cost-effective trips while getting the most out of them, she’s the one to talk to. Plus you’ll just leave feeling so dang inspired. Traveling the world on your own is no small feat, and her stories are incredible. I am stoked she started this!!! Right now she has a post recapping her time in New Zealand- it’s a fascinating read, and she has a serious eye for photography.

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Any favorites for you this week?! Have a great weekend. Can’t tell you guys how much I miss ya.

xo <3

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**There are affiliated links in this post, but all ideas and opinions are my own**

Our Road Trip from CA to TX!

Hey all! How is everyone?

So we are FINALLY at our road trip post from CA to TX!

Early in the morning of July 1st, we ate some oatmeal in disposable bowls, wiped down our counters one last time, dropped our keys off and then headed out first thing. One spot we never hit while living in CA was the charming little beach town of Capitola, so we made sure to factor it into our road trip.

As soon as we pulled into the city limits we started seeing brightly colored homes with characteristic beach signs on front doors or in windows reading phrases like, “All you need is Love and a Beach” and “This Mermaid swims on Coffee”.

The city itself is surprisingly quite tiny! I always imagined it much larger in my mind- but the polly pocket size of the city added to its charm. We found a parking spot and roamed around the immediate area. We couldn’t go too far from DJ’s truck since we had a bunch of suit cases in the back. **PS. Take note of the cooler sticking out of the back- it’s important for a story later on**

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Have you ever seen more zen seals?

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Although it was a cloudy day, the colors of the beach homes popped against the somber skies.

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After enjoying Capitola and watching a swarm of lifeguards being trained in the water (I can’t imagine how chilly that water was!), we hopped back on the road.

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Next up: Palm Desert. We passed by an army of windmills on our way. It reminded me of Courtney’s road trip out– she mentioned how large and alarming they can be- and I totally agree! It’s a weird feeling being under such looming and massive structures that are moving nonetheless. Funnily enough, all I could see were antibodies when I looked at them- Smalls was causing my brain to compare everything to something patho related, lol. Here’s a link to antibodies so you can see what I’m talking about.

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We finally arrived to our hotel for the evening! Somehow I got it for an insane deal — compared to everything else around it was one of the more affordable options. When we arrived it turned out it was “villas”, but really was more of a hotel room- it was confusing, but made sense once we actually got in our room. Anyways, the views of the mountains all around were just spectacular. It was HOT though- the idea of what the “desert” feels like was 100% as scorching as it sounds.

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We spent a good chunk of time lugging in all our suitcases from the bed of the truck to the room. Once we dropped everything off we headed out to explore the grounds (but we had to be sure to be back in time for Bachelorette, of course 😉 ).

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The grounds were so pretty & relaxing! Once we returned from our exploration we decided to just order some room service. I ordered a salad with added avocado (and I had a bunch of hummus to add too that I packed in our Freezer lunch bags for our roadtrip) and DJ opted for their chicken sandwich with the truffle fries that I kept stealing, naturally.

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We watched The Bachelorette and enjoyed our food. I love travel nights like this. It reminded me of time we were in NYC and made sure to be back to the hotel in time for Bach. Now, if I was in NYC these days I don’t think I could sacrifice a second of exploring the city for any show (yes, even Bach!), but since we were there wasn’t too much going on around us that evening we didn’t feel like we were missing out.

That evening was rough when it came to sleep- there was this LOUD whirring noise that even kept DJ up (who can sleep through anything)… we ended up calling maintenance at around 12:30 am when we resolved we probably wouldn’t be able to sleep. They came by and basically said there was nothing they could do at the time- it was in the pipes above us. I put on my noise-cancelling headphones to try to sleep. DJ finally fell asleep, but I tossed and turned the whole night and had a gnawing pain in the side of my head the next day from where they dug into my head. Then, our toilet stopped flushing unless we pressed the flush with the strength of Samson or did the lift the lid and pull the chain method. It suddenly all made sense why our room was immensely discounted, haha. Minus the nocturnal hours, the stay was so nice!

When it was finally the morning of July 2nd I decided to shake off the cobwebs with a morning run and a ton of coffee. Really- what would we do without coffee? I was a new person after some endorphins & caffeine.

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We ate oatmeal and granola bars we had on us for breakfast and hit the road. Back to spending time with Smalls.

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While passing through Phoenix we hopped off the highway- I needed more coffee desperately.

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But while on our quest for coffee we were greeted by an awesome surprise. Culver’s! We squealed out of nostalgic joy (DJ would probably argue he did not squeal, but I definitely did). We loved our Culver’s when we lived in Indiana.