One Big Rambling Post!

I started this post a few days ago, but haven’t had the chance to finish it until today- SOoOooo I woke up extra early to get this sun-of-a-gun done once and for all!

Hey y’all! This is my last official catch up post before going back to school tomorrow. I looked over the curriculum, and it looks really intense this semester. I know it will be okay, but I’m pretty anxious to just get started and get back in the groove of things. I have to remind myself these first weeks with “syllabus shock” are always overwhelming. So with a big deep breath I will get us all caught up. Sorry if I am MIA for a little bit here while I adjust back to the crazy study schedule, but know that I will blog and read your blogs whenever time allows. Gonna always need a study break, ya know? 😉

December 29th was a must needed restful Saturday. We did a whole lotta nothing, and it was great! I think I worked on some blogging & for dinner whipped us up some mahi mahi I had in the freezer with veggies for dinner. We watched our Arrested Development in the evening, of coursee.

December 30th we went to church in the morning, and we food was scarce in the apartment at this point since I still hadn’t been to the store since we left. I had some frozen bison taco meat for DJ I had before hand (thank goodness) & I made a hodge-podge for myself of eggs, squash, and hummus for lunch. It weirdly worked!

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I grabbed a See’s candy lollipop & headed to Trader Joe’s to get some real foood.

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And that brings us to NYE- December 31st!! Woohoo! Last year for NYE we were in Texas with my mom and Pete. (PS. WHAT was I thinking with that type of falsies? Someone should have given me a stern talking to, lol!!! What a stage I went through. Oy to the veyyy). Anywho- we just stayed in, and it was so fun & relaxing. I suggested we do that again this year and try to make soufflés since we’ve been talking about doing that together after going to Cafe Jacqueline. We got all our ingredients together and got to work while listening to our ole’ buddy, Frank Sinatra.

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While the soufflé was in the oven we enjoyed some yummy appetizers. Did I go overboard for just two people? Nahhhh, no such thing! Most everything is from TJ’s & I pulled out my homemade hummus. The artisanal bread was wonderful! I also made some roasted carrots & beets. I have never made my own roasted beets before, but it may become a staple- they crisped up so easily like chips & were just delicious!

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^^ Fun fact: That was all frozen cheese (half regular/half vegan) from when we went to wine country a few months ago. Cheese freezes very well. You just defrost it & it’s good to go. (Just don’t let it melt- I accidentally let the pepperjack/some of the vegan provolone go a tiny bit too long).

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I also saw these champagne gummies I could not help but resist! They were very tasty!

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So when we first took out our soufflé from the oven it hadn’t quite risen all the way, but I think it eliminated the “rise” after we let the cool air in. We cooked it a few minutes longer and it puffed up a bit more and the cheese got all yummy & caramelized on top! (but that’s why there is a divide in it- from when we tried to get a slice the first time around).

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The flavor was spot on- we tried to recreate the corn/ginger/garlic flavor, and it was pretty doggone close! Next time we are going to cook it a little longer & I think I’m going to whip my egg whites a bit more to give it more rise (isn’t that how it works?). It was still so light and airy, we enjoyed every little nibble!!! Once I perfect it I will share the recipe!

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We then plopped on the couch to watch the NYE show. This year looked frigid in the ole’ NYC.

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But ya cannot forget dessert. Believe it or not we still had room for this bad boy below.

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We saw this recipe on Tasty and when is a better time to recreate this monster than NYE? Here’s the thing though- we like every baked good we eat at home severely undercooked- practically asking for salmonella (what’s life without living on the edge). So all cookies, brownies, etc…must only be kissed by the oven! This meant it didn’t all “compact” the way it did in that video and really was just a big glob, but man, was it ever a good glob! SO rich, but goood. (I may or may not have had my slice with some double fudge brownie ice cream too).

^^ haha, it’s so obnoxious.

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Jan 1st was the last day off for DJ before he went back to work, so we just chilled at home, worked on Christmas “thank yous”, enjoyed leftovers throughout the day, and I went on a 12-mile run at some point. I also read a big chunk of The Hate You Give– I can’t wait to finish it- I could do a whole post on how it has challenged my perspectives & opened my eyes. Highly recommend this read to everyone.

The 2nd I spent nearly the entire day posting on Poshmark! LOVE Poshmark.

The 3rd I had a Facetime Dinner date with my best friend from Ohio, Rachel. MISS HER soooo much. My picture I took didn’t turn out, but she got one from her end!

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After, I went to Sara’s to hangout and catch up after our holidays. We had some tea and gabbed away for hours.

Friday, January 4th- January 5th were another two days of just getting things off the to-do list and ready for school and shipping Poshmark sales. In the evening I made these bacon wrapped scallops for DJ since our leftovers were getting low.

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He loved them! Definitely a two-thumbs-up recommendation!

Sunday, January 6th, we went early to church to help on the serving team (I’m so thankful I finally have a schedule that allows me to be a part of that again!). Since DJ “bumps out” (tears down the equipment, venue since it is a rental, etc.) after the 11:30 service we had some time between the two to grab some breakfast/brunch. We went to the table in Willow Glen that I’ve had my eye on for a while. I realized I kinda stalk restaurants- I’ll drive by a few times, look them up on YELP, go into a deep Google review dive, and then finally visit and introduce myself in person.

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Since it was raining outside & somewhat chilly their outdoor seating area was freed up. I had my winter coat on and they had heaters, so we agreed to go ahead and sit out there to weather the storm. The temperature was actually just fine with the heaters! We did walk through the inside of the restaurant to get there- loved the vibe and how it was decorated.

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The menu had such unique options & changes frequently! It was a bit on the pricier side, but it’s all seasonal locally sourced ingredients and everything was wonderful- the service, food, environment.

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The coffee was yummy- but could have been a bit hotter (but that’s what I say everywhere 😉 ).

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DJ tried their lemon ricotta pancakes and they were what lemony dreams were made of!! Sometimes when I order the lemon ricotta pancakes the “lemon” doesn’t quite come through, but the flavor was brilliant in these. Can you tell I snagged a few bites?

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I had their avocado, crab, and egg toast that was considered a “snack”. This was not your average avocado toast- it had Dungeness crab & trout roe on perfectly cooked toast (very slightly burnt). Mmm!

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Monday January 7th I met with my nurse friend Kim in the afternoon for coffee at Orchard Valley in Campbell. I am totally gonna have to come here to study! They had so many tables & it was nice n’ quiet.

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It was lovely to catch up with Kim, I always leave our conversations refreshed and encouraged.

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In the evening I made us Sriracha Shrimp Bowls with eggs & artisanal bread (still left from TJs!). It was a great combo, kinda reminded me of bibimbap!

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We plopped down to watch the train wreck that was the premiere of Colton’s season of The Bachelor. Lemme say, it easily could have been an hour, not three. I’m going to watch every second, but I am beyond tired of the virgin storyline, and quite frankly, I think some of the girls need to check themselves because a couple were downright disrespectful about it. I know I don’t usually get heated up in hurrr, but I could go off! First night favorites: Cassie and Katie. I thought Bri’s entrance was gold (although she looks a lot like Lauren Bushnell which…….. ehhh… that’s all I’ll say). I also didn’t mind Erika’s entrance! I liked that it was simple & a play on her name. Demi’s trouble, but I’m here for it. I’m surprised Jane & Erin got sent home. Would love to hear your thoughts!!

Going from reality TV back to reality, I told DJ something I wanted to try this year was one recipe per week of his request to get me out of my own cooking comfort zone. One of his favorite soups is cream of veg from the Dixie Stampede. I made it a long time ago (probably four years), and he requested it to be his recipe of the week. I made it on Tuesday the 8th, and it was crazy easy, but he kept raving about how much he loved it.

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Yesterday, the 9th, I started school. I don’t know why, but I was suffering from some severe anxiety that made it hard to even get through even a paragraph of reading. I thought I got it all under control after my residency ended, but it’s creeping back up. I think seeing the massive load of assignments we have this semester plus some big life changes (more on that to come) just felt overwhelming to think about (although it’s all great stress to have). And I know the anxiety is disproportional… I submitted an assignment and forgot to indent and space in a couple spots, and it nearly sent me into a full blown panic attack. I couldn’t stop thinking about it the rest of the day (It was a TWO point introduce yourself post). Coo-koo, I tell ya what! Maybe it’s hormones… is it a full moon?! I bet it’s a full moon. Nope, it’s not a full moon, I just checked. Scratch that. Hmm idk. I’m just gonna ride this wave out. I read some scripture in the evening which really helped put me at ease, and I already feel better refreshed this AM. Okay enough rambling- gotta get back to work. I get to see my third graders today too at B+G club that I haven’t seen since mid-December, so I have that to look forward to this afternoon!

Question for you:

  • Any recipes you’ve tried lately that you love?
  • Best book you’ve ever read? (I’m making my 2019 reading list now!)

xo <3

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All that and Dim Sum!

Ooooh ohhh we’re halfway thereeee, ohhhh livin’ on a prayer! I had four posts to get out this weekend (maybe five), and we are officially halfway to that goal. Thanks for spending a bit of time out of your day to read.. I know y’alls lives are busy and it always blows my mind that any of ya care about what we’re up to.

So after we returned from Texas we slept till the cows came home on December 28th. We were just whooped from all the time changes & random sleep schedule. When we finally arose from our hibernation it was time for breakfast. There wasn’t a ton in the fridge, but I was able to whip together a recreation of the mushroom toast I had from Toast in San Jose (or at least I tried!). It was pretty good, but yeah, not quite the same 😉

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We spent the rest of the day cleaning… I’m talking deep cleaning… I’m talking intensive deep cleaning! We like to do a massive clean-out every few months, but this is the largest we’ve done in a while. We scrubbed every dern inch of our apartment. It felt sooo fresh after.

On December 29th after church we went to San Francisco to meet up with Amy and her boyfriend for Dim Sum.

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I have never had Dim Sum before, but it’s been something I have been eager to try for months. City View has a great reputation as one of the most authentic and delicious (yet reasonably priced) Dim Sum places in SF.

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We went around 1:00 pm and the place was packed. In order to get your name on the list you literally have to chase down the lady with the notepad to have her put your name on the list. I’m not exaggerating at all- you have to be actually aggressive to get your name on or you won’t get seated. As soon as I could finally get to her I said “Mack, four” (for four people) in a stern voice. We waited probably fifteen minutes just to even get our name ON the list. It felt odd being that pushy- but I guess that’s the name of the game as that is what everyone else was doing.

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We probably waited about 40-50 minutes total- not too bad!

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When we were seated, ladies started coming around with carts with multiple steaming items on them that grab the attention of your eyes and your nostrils. You just point to what you would like and they place it on your table. They keep tabs on what you order so you just point and then chow down!

Here is the low down:

We started with bao buns. Now this is what I expected in trying bao! It was absolutely delicious. If you are a carbaholic like me, you would lovee these.

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Pekking Duck: I tried a tiny nibble- very savory & full of flavor.

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Scallop + Shrimp skewers: Maybe my favorite part of the entire meal- I could have ate a bowl of these. SO good.

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Steamed spinach + oyster sauce: Fine, a nice change of flavor- but just tastes like steamed spinach.

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Turnip cakes (your left)- This was my second favorite dish I think! Gosh, these were so good. I didn’t know what to expect, but these were packed with flavor & I really enjoyed the texture (think almost like tofu in texture). On the right are the fried crab claws- they were good, naturally, but a bit too fried for my liking.

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After this first round, it was dumpling time!!

First up- soup dumplings! Very good.

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Then shrimp dumplings– a staple of dim sum- also yum!

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Wild mushroom– Mmmmm mmm! Terrific.

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Pork and peanut– From those that tried it they said they were good with a strong peanut flavor

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Chicken siu mai in the bottom right- DJ said “pretty good” haha.

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The pot stickers were great too from the little nibble I tried.

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BBQ Pork Buns– I just tried the actual bun part with a little of the sauce, and it was a flavor so tremendous it’s hard to describe! This was overall the favorite of the meat eaters. The bun was sweet, fluffy, and warm- yet it nearly melts in the mouth. If they were stuffed with veggies I could eat these all day every day every meal. They were phenomenal.

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Egg Custard Tarts– We were not fans. They didn’t have any flavor at all?!

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Our first dim sum experience was a success!! If you have had dim sum I would love to hear some of your favorite dishes.

We grabbed our leftovers to go (none of that tasty cuisine was going to go to waste!) then DJ and I walked around China Town a little bit

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The artwork around downtown is always fascinating.

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We then went to The Fairmont to witness the famous Gingerbread House that they have set up in the lobby every holiday season.

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It was just magnificent!

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Can you believe this things is real?!

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It was such a beautiful day. I told DJ I wanted to frolic around a little longer. He always playfully laughs at me when I use that word.

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But if this isn’t frolicking I don’t know what is!

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I just love some of the store fronts in SF. There is so much history and culture in this city. It’s intricately woven with so much detail and stories on every corner. Not to get sappy, but SF really does have a special place in my heart.

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We walked around Union Square a bit before heading back home.

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Questions for you:

  • I just finished up the Golden Globes- did anyone else watch? I love award shows- I especially love seeing the dresses & outfits, seeing reactions, and hearing speeches. Also, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were stinking adorable!
  • Bach is on tomorrow– who is watching?! I’m actually excited for this season even though it’s been neigh-sayed quite a bit.

Have a wonderful week!

xo <3

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Last Day in Texas- Part 3!

And sadly, we have arrived to our last day in Texas. We absolutely soaked up every second of it though! In the morning my mom took me on a little mom-daughter date to Summer Moon while DJ did his training run. This is a lovely little coffee shop that recently opened in Keller.

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Everything in this coffee shop is so cute.

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They have tons of vegan and gluten free options too!

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Whatever they put in “moon milk” is soooo darn delicious. One of the best lattes I have ever had! We only ordered the 1/4 moon, and it was plenty sweet. Their beans are wood-fired too, and you can definitely taste the difference.

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My mom and I split the vegan almond croissant (perfection) & the vegan pumpkin muffin. Their pastries are spectacular. We agreed we even liked this almond croissant more than Tartine’s (one that is hard to beat!).

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The coffee with the treats was absolutely wonderful. The pumpkin muffin was dense and yummmyyy. I loved having that time with my momma to catch up one-on-one too.

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Jadie lounging around..

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After DJ got back from his run, Pete cooked up Five Star hot dogs for the guys! These hot dogs are famous back from Cleveland. In fact, my mom and Pete have them shipped down to Texas from CLE… yes, that good!

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Our flight wasn’t until the evening, so we decided to make the most of the afternoon as possible! We went to downtown Roanoke, a brand new little area that sprung up within the last year. It is truly the definition of quaint and the boutiques are adorable!

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And anytime there is a candy shop, gotta pop in!

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This place was adorable.

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We even found some Harry Potter frogs & wands!!

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Since we still had some time before we had to leave for the airport we decided to try out Craft & Vine. This is a fun little taproom where you can find the most original craft beers and wines.

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You can walk by and see everything that is on tap and read all the info about each selection.

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We all opted to try their beer. They were all great flavors- they actually tasted like their descriptions (which I feel like is hard to come by in beer haha).

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And one last hurrah, gotta try Andy’s Frozen Custard before we leave!

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Pete had the Ozark turtle

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& DJ tried the triple chocolate concrete that I had a few big bites of. I forgot how amazing custard is. Wowwwza. Tast-eeee!

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Once we got home I had a hankerin’ for some real food, so I enjoyed some leftovers.

We made it to the airport on time, but then our flight got delayed about two hours. BUT we were stranded in the best terminal in all of DFW. We had plentiful restaurant options and plenty of room to set up shop (aka blog). By the time 9 rolled around we were hungry again (imagine!). Since we knew it would be a long night we decided to go to Reata in the airport. You may remember when we first went to Reata with my mom and Pete from this post from a few years ago. When we saw it, we just could not pass it up.

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DJ had their country fried steak

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& I had the veggie platter with rice- it was perfect for what I was craving.

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The flight back was great- easy peasy!

Questions for you:

  • This is an odd one- but do you have a favorite airport? I think DFW terminal D is now my favorite, hehe. DJ’s favorite airport is Indianapolis because it’s super easy and straight forward.
  • One thing you are excited for this coming week?

xo <3

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Our Texas Christmas- Part 2!

hey y’all! I am soo far behind on these posts, and I feel like I’m moving at a snail’s pace getting them out. My goal is to catch up before starting back up at school in a few days! Oh, and this is entirely foodie laden, so have your snacks in hand need be 😉

The last post ended after an awesome run Christmas Day. Around 3:00/4:00 pm, a couple neighbors came over to have lots of appetizers & a phenomenal dinner.

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My mom’s neighbor brought over this gorgeous cheese spread with olives and tomato garnish with a wonderful oil drizzle. It was the best cheese spread ever.

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My mom also made her homemade guac which is to-die-for.

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We went out onto the patio to enjoy some wine, scrumptious appetizers, and great conversation.

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Dinner time! We had roasted green beans & potatoes…

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Dinner rolls.. (a must)..

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Wild rice…

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Roasted butternut squash & craisins…

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Halibut for us pescatarians.. (gosh this was guuuud)…

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And beautiful Cornish hens for the meat eaters! I tried a tiny bite of DJ’s out of curiosity, and although I don’t care for the taste of meat usually, this was very tasty! DJ kept talking about how much he loved them too.

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That is a meal I will remember for a looong time. After dinner we played What Do You Meme? OFFICIALLY my favorite game.

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Dessert was a mix of Christmas cookies, french silk pie, and Pete’s famous pumpkin crunch.

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Pete’s pumpkin crunch is one of the things I look forward to most during the holidays. It’s basically pumpkin pie meets cake meets alll your dreams come true. Ya just load it up with cool whip and you are good to go!

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In the evening we started A Star Is Born. We only made it halfway through before going to sleep. Even from the first half of the movie I was amazed by Lady Gaga’s acting & of course Bradley Cooper was outstanding as always. The story line was gripping.

In the morning of December 26th, we went for a nice long run and then I had some of my mom’s vegan pesto pizza & a couple hard boiled egg whites for a protein boost.

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The day was sooo relaxing. We lounged around most of the day, watched an episode of The Great British Baking show, I blogged a bit, and then in the evening we went to Fogo De Chao. The weather was horrible getting there (there were tornado warnings all over the place, but has that ever stopped us from hunting down food?!). We have all been talking about going here for a while since my mom, Pete, and DJ haven’t tried a Brazilian Steakhouse before. So we all thought why not give it a try! (I had been to one in high school when I still ate meat that was incredible, but was dying to try it out again! Their veggie options are tremendous too).

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You can choose to do the meat + feijoda bar or just the feijoda bar (veggies galore, meats, cheeses, smoked salmon, unique dishes, hot dishes, breads, etc.). If you choose to do the meats, they come around with multiple cuts of amazing meats, and if you have your card on the “green” side (meaning you would like a cut of the meat off the skewer) or they pass your table if you have the “red” side (meaning I’m okay…. for now).

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The brought out these bread rolls, pao de quiejo, which I was immediately obsessed with. They were so light, delicious, fluffy, and had a cheddar flavor that lingered on the tongue after a bite.

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Here are some pics from the bar! Some of my favorites were the smoked salmon, beets, hearts of palm, and various cheeses.

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Since we came on a Wednesday, bottles of wine were half off- woohoo!!! We split a Chilean red, and oh MY, I’ve heard Chile wine is great from my sister who has been there, but goodnessss, this stuff was top-notch.

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The picture below shows an example of them coming by with the skewer and meat being shaved off table side! You can see on the table that DJ has the green side up meaning he would, in fact, like more meat.

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They also brought out some sides from the kitchen that blew our socks off. The polenta sticks may have been my favorite, the caramelized bananas were sweet and delicious, and the creamy garlic mashed potatoes probably speak for themselves!

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Once we came home I snuck in a couple snuggles with this little pup. She loves me, I promise… even though she looks a bit unsure… haha.

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We finished A Star is Born that evening too. Talk about a tear jerker!! Goodness that movie is so well done and so darn emotive. Have tissues if you watch.

Questions for you:

  • Best movie or TV show you’ve watched recently?

xo <3

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Our Texas Christmas!

Hey All! I left off from our arriving in Texas after our Cleveland trip.

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In the evening of Christmas Eve we attended the candlelight ceremony at my Mom and Pete’s church. (Love my sister photo bombing us… It was like she was there, lol!). I realllly did miss her so much- her and Kevin went to Peru to spend Christmas with his fam. We face-timed the day of though, and it was fun to virtually meet some of Kevin’s family!

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The Candlelight service is one of my favorites of the whole year.

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The service & music was just moving- my eyes sweated a few times during the ceremony for sure. Easily one of my favorite hours of the entire Christmas season- taking time to worship & remember the true meaning of this chaotic, fun, wonderful season.

When we returned home my mom put out the most delicious shrimp cocktail & cheese with a pepper jam and crackers. Okay- I neeed to get that pepper jam! This is such a scrumptious appetizer to whip up; I’m gonna remember this for next time we host!

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I also had to share the Christmas table my mom assembled. Each set of plates is unique, and they were not all bought from the same place. Look how beautifully it all goes together though!

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I always get home decor tips/tricks from her when I visit.

For dinner we had grilled romaine with parmesan cheese and tomatoes (post the romaine scare- don’t worry it was the safe stuff 😉 ).

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For the guys, Pete made some mouth-watering lamb tenderloin. DJ raves about Pete’s grilling.

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My mom made the vegan version for us!!! Below are little seitan riblets. Gooooodness gracious, I think this is my favorite faux meat dish everr.

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We had some of my mom’s famous cornbread… I could eat this straight out of the pan with a spoon. It’s insanely good.

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Roasted potatoes with rosemary, yum!…

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And the whole doggone delicious spread!..

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After dinner we watched the movie BlacKkKlansman. It is a really thought-provoking movie, with a fast paced, intriguing story line, and a gut-wrenching, powerful ending. It’s one of those endings you forget to breathe.

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After getting a deep night sleep, we woke up to Christmas!

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Our usual pattern for Christmas morning is presents, breakfast, stockings. This year we made an Instapot egg casserole with bacon for the guys and a veggie egg casserole for us.

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Time for stockings!!  They are so sweet to still do them for us even as adults <3 Pete and my mom make one for each other each year too which I think is just precious.

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Stocking stuffers! Look at all those See’s Candies suckers! *heart eyes*

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In the afternoon, I went on a 7-mile training run.

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I don’t know what was in the air, but I was just having the smoothest of runs while I was there. Christmas night was tons of fun, but I’ll save that for the next post 🙂

Question for you:

  • What’s your favorite thing you’ve done so far this year? cheesy question, I knoww 😉

xo <3

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Our Cleveland Christmas!

Happy New Year, my friends!! I am crazy behind on getting posts out, but this coming week I think I’ll be able to recap our Christmas festivities & New Years 🙂 December 20th we headed to the airport. Our Uber was a Tesla– kinda fun riding in one! However, the driver took a wrong turn and then tried to cover it up by saying there was some specific drop off for Teslas at the airport? There wasn’t, and he dropped us off on the International side, not domestic. Hence, we had to take the tram to get back to the Domestic terminal. Oh well, at least we got to see the beautifully lit up International side.

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We got to the airport with plenty of time because we were nervous about the holiday travel. The airport really wasn’t bad at all, and we were at our gate in no time. We went to our favorite little restaurant in the San Francisco airport, Mission Bar and Grill. I had a big salad right before we left to use up all our veggies, but DJ grabbed some tacos. All their food is always so fresh & delicious.

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We had a red eye and quite literally had red eyes at the end of it. Everything that could lead to lack of sleep happened to a comical degree– wailing babies (not just crying- wailing) (I know they can’t help it though), turbulence, the only lady that felt the need to read the entire flight with the bright light was in our row… needless to say we were a bit exhausted when we finally landed at around 5 am on December 21st. The only saving grace was having episodes of The Great British Baking Show downloaded onto my phone.

It felt so good to see this sign that means we are home!

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My mom-in-law picked us up from the airport and once we were back at the house we slept… and slept… and slept. We slept from 7 am to about 2 pm. It was weird waking up with only a few hours of daylight left! That evening we were getting together with my Dad’s side of the family for Christmas. We were doing a double white elephant gift exchange this year (1 funny, 1 nicer gift), and I realized I forgot our joke gift back in CA. Mom B to the rescue with a cute little tree she had at her house that she offered to give away. DJ and I ran to the nearest gas station to get lottery tickets so we could decorate it.

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We all met at my cousins’ home, and it was just so special spending time with everyone together. I was so darn excited that there were Peppernuts, the traditional cookie my family used to make all together every year. Even though time & distance doesn’t allow us to get together for the baking day, my Aunt Pam made sure to have large tins full so we could all take some to go.

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Gotta get a cheesy family picture with the cookies, right?!

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I have so missed them all.

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We also got to spend some quality time with my older sister, Andrea. I think it had been two years since we have seen each other!

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Dinner was so stinking yummy. We had pasta, pizza of all varieties from the favorite local pizza chain (my favorite was the artichoke- mmmm mmm!), salad, and a few other sides. It was perfect.

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We had my niece and nephew open their gifts first, then we did the white elephant exchange.

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Cuties <3 They always melt my heart.

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We went back to my brothers house and played some card games before heading back. We returned probably at 2:30 (ish) in the morning. We slept until about 11 am on December 22nd. I’m tellin’ ya- travel and the time change threw us all off!

In the morning, we woke up to a beautiful snowfall!!! It made me so happy to see snow. I do miss it (I just don’t miss the cold that comes with it 😉 ).

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We went to DJ’s Dad’s home to spend time with that side of the family for the day. It was great spending that time with them, especially since they moved from CA back to OH this past summer. DJ’s younger sisters are now going to the same high school I went to and have some of my previous friends as teachers- it’s been fun discussing that and making connections.

In the evening back at my MIL’s, we enjoyed some phenomenal desserts (including her FAMOUS pumpkin pie) and played Codenames (seriously LOVE that game).

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On the 23rd we woke up early to get in our training run- 14 miles- then went to my Dad-in-laws home for a few hours before heading to the Cavs game that evening!

This was a pretty spur of the moment event. We were offered tickets from our family and although we had to change our flights from CLE to TX around a bit this was just an opportunity we could not pass up.

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We arrived early and grabbed some delicious food at the Bacardi Ocho lounge.

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I had a ton of sushi & then downed some delicious crostini with smoked salmon & quinoa that was cooked perfectly.

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Game Time!

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We lost, but it was an unforgettable experience.

For our last evening in OH we opened the cutest stockings & gifts with the fam and Pool Noodle while sipping on champagne all together. It was a wonderful evening before our early flight.

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Oh, and I had to share this picture below we found back from 2011 I believe.

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Our rearranged flight left in the morning at 6 am heading to Dallas/Fort Worth.

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We had a layover in Washington and it was fun to see the Washington Monument and Capitol building as we were being shuttled to our gate.

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We arrived to DFW airport at around 11 am on December 24th. My mom and Pete picked us up from the airport. Once home, we were greeted by my mom’s annual mouth-watering cookie display & my sweet pup, Jade. UGH, I missed that dog!

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We snacked & ate a hodge-podge of items- my mom always has yummy vegetarian treats on hand & DJ and Pete had BLTs.

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After fueling up I went on an incredible seven-miler. Something about the warm air was just invigorating. I’ll finish up our Christmas eve in the next post.

Questions for you!

  • Travel pet peeves?
  • Best White Elephant gift you’ve ever given/received?

xo <3

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Lotsa Pho & Homemade Soufflé Pancakes!

** SO I wrote this post on the 20th and totally forgot to publish it, so here it is over a week later, haha**

Can four posts in 24 hours be done?! I am tryin’! I have 45 minutes before I am heading to Boys and Girls Club, so I’m gonna try to get this done really quick. Although I’ll probably publish it in a couple days to give ya a breather from all the Disney excitement 😉

After saying our goodbyes to the fam on the evening of the 8th, Amy, DJ, and I all headed to the airport at around 6 am on December 9th. Amy and I were starting to feel that ominous “tickle” in the back of the throat. We loaded up on Vitamin C packs to take with our generous 2 ounces of complimentary water on the plane.

I thought this little set up at our gate was adorable!

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Luckily the seat next to DJ and me wasn’t occupied, so Amy joined us! Unluckily, I felt like absolute crud, so I was a bump on the log and barely moved the entire flight. I studied what I could and then just slept.

The only food that sounded appetizing once we were home was pho. Pho is the ultimate comfort food when sick, especially from House of Pho (hands down the best Pho around).

I also had to get the fresh tofu spring rolls. They always look so darn good in Hunida’s posts, and had me craving some of those too. They were so tasty and refreshing. The peanut sauce was on point.

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We door-dashed it, as we had ZERO energy. I chose the vegetarian option. It was just what I was craving, and I always feel like eating spicy pho helps to clear out the sinuses and kill the bad germs. I don’t think there is any science behind that theory, but I’m stickin’ to it. I felt almost instantly better after eating the noods.

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DJ ordered a chicken pho that he really enjoyed.

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Later that evening DJ got hungry again so I whipped him up Chicken Tikka Masala with Naan from TJ’s. I always like to have fast meals on hand for when I’m not in the mood to cook. TJ’s comes in clutch with frozen meals, especially during this crayzayyy time of year. This gets a 8/10 from DJ. I absolutely love the naan. For being frozen naan I think it’s as good as it gets!

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December 10th I spent the entire day studying away. Just studied, studied, studied! In the evening I made DJ a cheese tortellini with parmesan crisps.

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I had the second half of my leftover pho. The serving they gave in this delivery was very generous!

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December 11th I took my final!!! It went really well, and I am very thankful it is behind me now. A couple months ago I was debating if I should go to Disney because of the final, but I’m glad I made it work because it would have been horrible to miss out on such a wonderful  family trip. That is something my undergraduate self would have never dreamed of doing- look Ma, I’m more balanced!

In the evening I made Deej his favorite tacos per request. How he isn’t sick of these by now is beyond me.

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I was craving fresh raw veggies since I was finally feeling better. I had a big salad with a bean burger and hummus.

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December 12th I ran some errands in the afternoon to restock on groceries. I spent the rest of the evening catching up on laundry and all that fun stuff. In the evening I made Deej a cajun style pasta. He gave this pasta a 9/10.

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On December 13th, I grabbed a coffee in the morning and went for a walk while listening to podcasts. Perfect start to the morning. I also went to TJ Maxx to peruse for gifts & get a new planner after.

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After, I zipped to Santana Row to look around there for gifts. The five level parking garage was FULL midday. That is unheard of! Tis’ the season. This reminds me why I always try to get shopping done a few weeks before Christmas. People— people everywhere…

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On my way home I ran to the post office to drop some packages off and make some returns.

Friday the 14th was a fun day! I completed an 18-miler for marathon training, and then caught up on blogging. In the evening I made DJ a Shepherd’s pie from TJ’s. He rated it a 6/10. Probably not a rebuy for us. I had my big ole’ veggie mix again. I get on kicks with that salad. Mmmmm ! I’m already excited to have it in a few hours.

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We made sugar cookies from scratch and then decorated them. I just love the cookie making tradition 🙂 I would have made more, but since we are traveling the rest of December it didn’t really make sense. Every time at this year I am reminiscent of our Mingle & Jingle. One year I would like to do something like that again!

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Saturday December 15th I woke up early, worked on a blog post while watching The Great British Baking Show and enjoyed oatmeal & coffee out on the balcony.

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Saturday was a super lazy day for us, but much needed. I don’t even remember much of what we did- I’m going to guess Arrested Development & eating sugar cookies was in the mix.

Sunday the 16th was our Christmas Creative at church. I always love the Christmas Creative every year! Our Pastor says it’s the time of year when “we let the creatives out”, hah. They tell the Christmas story through gifts of singing, dancing, acting, video, etc. The talent just astounds me.

With no in-post segue (who has time for that?) I’m sad to inform you we found out some terrible news. You know the soufflé pancakes we just discovered and are obsessed with? Apparently, that was only a pop up location. They are moving out 🙁

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WELL. Are we gonna let this get us down?! NO… heck to the NAH. We are just gonna have to make our own! I looked up a recipe for soufflé pancakes and gave them a shot. I was ambitious and tried to make them in Christmas shapes. I forgot to grease the cookie cutters, so they didn’t come out perfectly shaped (womp womp), but were still a success from the flavor and texture standpoint!!!

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They were so fluffy, light, and tasted just like the ones we had! I definitely have room to improve, but I am excited they turned out as well as they did.

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This was the second batch which looks much more like the original ones we tried from Koja.

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On Monday December 17th, I did a HITT routine in the morning then met up with our campus Pastor, Amy, in the afternoon for some lunch & to catch up. We went to SoFa, a place in San Jose that is like a nice cafeteria set up with the yummiest foods to choose from.

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We both decided to nom down some poke. I usually go for ahi tuna when I get poke, but they had octopus on the menu which I had to try. It was absolutely satisfying.

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I caught up on more blogging in the afternoon & evening.

Tuesday December 18th I woke up early. I mixed up my usual oatmeal breakfast to use up some of the food we already had on hand. I made an egg white omelette with a bunch of veggies, hummus, and a slice of Ezekiel bread with low sugar raspberry jam.

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I went for a run in the afternoon. It was a gorgeous day!

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Yesterday the 19th I was running around like a nut trying to get everything ready to go for Christmas and traveling. And that brings us to today, the 20th! We leave later tonight to go back to Cleveland. It’s a red eye so I’m a bit nervous about the lack of sleep I’m facing especially with the time change, but I’ll just take it in stride per usual.

Question for you:

  • Favorite holiday tradition?

xo <3

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Friday Favorites #17!

Oooohhhh hello there. Thank you for taking a few seconds out of your crazy schedule to stop in and visit lil’ ole me. And I wish you a very happy friday to youuuu! I am sitting in the airport right now waiting for our flight. I am hoping to finish this up by the time we board so I can have it published for the morning. So without further adieu, let’s get to the faves!

  1. No Cow Chocolate Fudge Brownie. So I was mad at No Cow bar for a bit after they changed their initial formula. WELL, I think they changed it again because I tried a few other flavors beyond my trusty lemon meringue, and I am now team No Cow Bar hard core again. I love the lemon, blueberry, raspberry chocolate, and this double chocolate fudge brownie bar is literal dessert.

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2. Sabra’s Caramelized Onion Hummus. I tried to make homemade hummus this week, and it was no bueno. I tweaked it enough to make it edible, but had a hummus hankerin’ that it was not satisfying. So I froze it like I do basically everything. I went to the store and found this baby, and as the container shows, it only lasted a few days. This is my new favorite flavor for sure.

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3. Bible Reading Plan. I discovered an App that puts together a reading plan for you by themes (you can choose other ways for how you would like to read). I have never read through thematically before, and the way it highlights how the New and Old Testament are interwoven is blowing my mind. I am just loving reading the Bible in this way.

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4. My girl Rach got sent me this ornament for Christmas! I am so touched! She wrote in the card that she didn’t get it because I’m flaky but because it was punny. Does she know me or what?! LOVE it, love her.

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5. This week I have loved writing the Disney recaps. Being able to reflect on each day has helped tremendously with even remembering those little moments that can flee from the memory quickly. You can find all the parts of the Disney travels below.

Universal Studios Part One

Harry Potter World

Animal Kingdom

Epcot

Magic Kingdom

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6. Dis’ Sourdough bread from TJ’s. It’s so tasty!

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7. I received this Alex and Ani Cleveland Indians bracelet from one of my best (and longest) friends, Melissa, as an early birthday gift. How stinkin’ cute is this?!?! It is so treasured and I will wear it proudly!

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8. My TV obsession this week goes to The Great British Baking Show. Have you watched?!?! I watched the last two seasons (you can watch each season exclusively), and I am living for this show.

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9. This meme. Mine is bottom right, no doubt.

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10. Hunida sent me the sweetest little goodie bag & card for the holidays. I mean, my heart is absolutely melted! How. dang. thoughtful!! I just love this girl. If you don’t follow her blog ya need to right nowww. Isn’t blogging just the best for forming friendships like this? I am thankful for this one!

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Have a wonderful holiday weekend & A VERY Merry Christmas, friends. And I know the holidays can be tough and heighten the rough times too- so I’m praying for those that may be feeling a little more dejected during this season, that may have lost loved ones, or are just going through anything at all. Sending you all my love & hugs!

xo <3

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Magic Kingdom & Vacation Wrap Up!

Five days till’ Christmas! Can ya even wrap your noggin’ around it?! We leave this evening to go back to OH, and I have two more posts to whip up before then. Thankfully I am all packed, so now is devoted to time to write! My favorite 🙂

After Epcot, we walked back to our hotel (only about a half-mile away) and soaked up the gorgeous golden sunset on our way.

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We passed through the boardwalk on our way back. This boardwalk had a fun, relaxing, carnival inspired vibe. And it’s way cleaner and nicer than typical touristy boardwalks.

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Since DJ and I arrived to Disney later than everyone else, we didn’t have the chance to ride the Tower of Terror with them earlier in the week. Luckily, we had a bit of time before dinner, so we decided to go to Hollywood Studios to ride the legendary ride!

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I LOVED Tower of Terror. That and Avatar were my two favorites. Now I finally understand what the hype is all about!

We decided to eat on the Boardwalk at Big River Grille. My picture didn’t come out great since it was dimly lit, but I had a salmon salad. I was craving some greens after all the sugar and carbs that day, and that hit the spot. We ate outside, and although it was a chilly evening, the space heaters definitely helped keep us toasty.

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We even witnessed a beautiful fireworks display.

We all went back to the hotel and watched The Office for a bit. I couldn’t keep my eyes open; insomnia didn’t have a chance to set in that night! On Saturday December 8th  I woke up feeling refreshed & ready to go. I woke up early to run and study, and then we all met up to go to Magic Kingdom.

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I know I keep saying it, but I just loved all the Christmas decor.

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Cinderella’s castle!!

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First ride: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This was a fun little coaster for sure!

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And now… for another favorite- Splash Mountain!!!

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This picture below cracks me up every. single. time.

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After this we headed over to the Haunted Mansion ride.

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On the way we saw the big parade!

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*cue the spooky sounds- ooooOOoooOoooOOOooo*

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It was, again, a very immersive ride. I cannot get over the design & creativity of everything in Disney.

For lunch we went to Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. Below pictured is the loaded fries- they had flaming hot cheetos on top! YUM!

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They even had a vegan sloppy joe. Score.

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We tried to ride Space Mountain, but it was shut down for the day. Always need an excuse to go back 😉

We perused the park a bit more before heading back.

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Here are more shots we grabbed from around the resort on our way back…

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There is an endless amount of activities for all ages.

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DJ and I decided to squeeze in a game of mini golf across the street before dinner. We hadn’t been in ages!

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SO much fun. I forgot how much I loved this game. DJ only won by only a hair!

For one last hurrah, we had dinner at the spectacular restaurant, Il Mulino located in the Swan hotel (sister of the Dolphin where we stayed). OH.my.goodness. Easily the best Italian restaurant I’ve ever been to!

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They started us with a little complimentary appetizer that had salami on one side and eggplant antipasto on the other. The eggplant- sooo tasty.

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The bread had several options, and I opted for the pizza bread. I could have ate five slices for my meal alone. I savored every little nibble.

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Two orders of meatballs for the table!

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The caprese almost looked like mouse ears! I don’t know if they did that on purpose, but an excellent presentation nonetheless. It sure was refreshing!

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I have been wanting to try truffle oil pasta for a while now. Sometimes I will go down truffle pasta rabbit holes on Instagram. I found a few places in SF that have it, so I said for my birthday I would like to go to one of the to try it. However, when I saw Rigatoni con Funghi with truffle oil on the menu, I didn’t hesitate in deciding what to order! And it lived up to, if not surpassed, my expectations! Now I have to find a new food to stalk 😉

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The Deej ordered the tortellini alla panna with meat tortellini and peas in a cream sauce. So good! I definitely had a bite (or two).

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Dessert though… WOW was this ever next level tastebud explosions. We split the cheesecake, tiramisu, and flourless chocolate cake. I don’t think I could choose a favorite…. it was all actual perfection.

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Final group photo for the trip <3 This was truly an unforgettably magical week.

Question for you:

  • What is an item on your food bucket list?

xo <3

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Epcot!

Happy happy Thursday, aka Epcot post day!! I am just sooo excited about this post. When we got to Epcot I told DJ I couldn’t believe I didn’t know about this place’s existence until this trip…. it is literally a foodie’s paradise!!! I could have killed an entire week in this park alone.

We took the ferry over from our hotel to the park. I highly suggest staying in Disney (on one of their hotel properties) if you are going to visit because all transportation is taken care of, painless, easy and decently quick. You can take a ferry or a bus to the parks at almost any hour of the day. Saves so much time & money in dealing with parking or uber/lyft!

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So the entire park is set up to take you from country to country. Each “country” is created so that it feels as though you are actually there. Its unreal (quite literally unreal, but they fool you well 😉 ). You get a taste of traveling across the world without actually leaving the US. My two favorite things were in one single place- “traveling” and foooood! At the end of the day, I told DJ it was one of my favorite memories/days of all time.

We briefly passed through the UK on the way to our first fast pass! I had to get the famous “telephone booth” photo, of course! One day I WILL actually visit. Where my UK bloggers at?! Holllaaa

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Our fast pass was for Test Track. For this you get to design your vehicle and then “test” while competing against other cars. The car below is the one DJ, my MIL and I created. I mean getttta load of these hot wheels 😉

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It was such a fun ride. We competed against others in our group which made it all the more competitive, naturally.

Now for Space Mountain! Unfortunately, someone had an “episode” on the ride right before us… so the clean up crew had to come in before we could ride. It stalled the ride for probably about thirty minutes. Finally, we got to embark! I am a bit claustrophobic and didn’t realize how enclosed the space was.. but I just tried to calm myself down and reminded myself I was fine. I am much better with the small spaces than when I was as a kid- I used to have a really hard time with even elevators. Anyways, that ride was in-stinking-tense!!! But totally worth it.

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After the ride we ran into some friends from college (fun!), then went to Club Cool to sample coca colas from around the world.

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The flavors were all super unique. I think my favorite was the Fanta Melon Frosty from Thailand, yummmy!

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Now we trottin’ through Mexico. Although it felt weird not stopping for Mexican food when available (one of our faves) we decided to try all the unique food before going back to the food we have access to usually, ya know?.

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Hence, a stop in Norway was absolutely mandatory.

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We walked into the bakery there, Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe, and were greeted by wonderful scents of sugary baking bread.

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We tried the lefse, a norweigan flatbread stuffed with cinnamon and sugar. It was light & scrumptious.

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We split an authentic Norweigan cider while we were at it. The pairing of the lefse and cider was fantastic; it was super refreshing and delicious on that hot day.

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China time!

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Oh my, was it beautiful. The intricacies, once again, took my breath away!

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I have had my eye on bao for a while now. When I saw it on the menu I had to get it for us to try! Even though it had meat, I still tried a nibble, but mostly ate the bun with the sauce which was delish in its own right. I will say– I don’t think this particular bao is as good as they come, but I loved trying it out nonetheless. The bao bun I had in SJ was wayyy more tasty. I think we need to make our way to SF soon to try more.

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Can you guess where next?

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Germany it is! Here we tried an authentic potato dumpling, and I think this was my favorite thing we had all day. Man, was that ever tasty. I think it was the texture & savory mushroom mix gravy I loved so much.

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When the moon hits your eyes like a big pizza pie that’s amore!!! Welcome to Italy, my friends 🙂

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If we had one more day here I would have LOVED to spend a day (or at least a full meal) in Italy. I bet the pizza there was delicious!

We did, however, split our first ever sangria. I gotta say, I wasn’t a huge fan. It was tripping my brain out… is this juice? Not quite! Is this wine? Not quite!!

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Of course, we saluted the US as we passed through, but didn’t stop to eat anything. Gotta leave room for things our taste buds have never explored.

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On to.. JAPAN TOWN! This past year I have grown a fondness and appreciation for Japan. Tokyo is easily #2 on my travel bucket list (after all of the Mediterranean). One day, one day…

We didn’t get any Japanese food because we actually have it quite often here in the Bay Area.

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There was a fun drum recital that played while we were there. Definitely added to the whole authentic experience!

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^^ Don’t know who those people are, but hope they had a good day ruining my perfect Epcot photo. JK JK.

Aaand we are off to Morocco! Oh my do I love Moroccan culture & food. We had it for the first time in Dallas actually, but have sought it out since. Remember our run in with the belly dancer a couple years ago?

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Onto France! LOVED France <3 (ok, let’s be real, I loved every second of every single moment being there). Anyways, this is the place to go for the baked goods for suuure.

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we had to try a delicious crepe, duhhh!

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And this brings us back to the United Kingdom!

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After exploring the UK a bit more thoroughly, we ventured into Canada

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Then we split a shrimp & guac arepa from the Columbia stand right before Mexico.

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Ok Ok, we gave in and had to have some Mexican cuisine 😉 We enjoyed some bombbb margaritas and tacos. I ate the salad and queso (such freaking good queso) & DJ had the tacos. mmmmm!

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This is quite long- I’ll stop here! I’ll wrap up our evening and the rest of the trip in my next post (I think!). I have sooo much to fill y’all in on. I adamantly told DJ I am gonna stay up all night if it takes me to write up these posts before we leave tomorrow to head back to Ohio. Bring on the all-nighter!

Question for you:

  • Which “Country” would you be most interested in trying out?

xo <3

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