Christmas in July!! (Christmas 2020)

Before July slips away from us, I want to make sure celebrate the second most wonderful time of the year- Christmas in July!

I never shared the post from Christmas 2020 since so much time had passed since I had the time to write it, so it feels like a good time to share it now 🙂 Get your eggnog loaded up (probably iced), and let’s get started!

DJ and I drove to my mom and Pete’s late on December 23rd to join them and Halston (missed you, Kevin!!). First things first when we arrived- Pete’s famous Pumpkin Crunch. DJ will talk about how much he loves this dessert at random times throughout the year. It is that good. We loaded up on the pumpkin crunch with ice cream within 10 minutes of arriving.

Even though it was already late in the evening, we stayed up chatting for a little bit before going to sleep.

Christmas Eve, we had a lovely breakfast together.We took it overall pretty easy that day, which I think we all needed. We got our respective workouts in (Hal and I did an Insanity workout together), lounged around, watched some shows and Facetimed our Grandma & Grandpa!

For dinner, we had an amazing spread of beef tips (for the meat-eaters), seitan beef tips (for the veggie eaters), potatoes and green beans.And the rest of the evening we played What Do You Meme and other card games.

The next day, Christmas, we enjoyed the most wonderful breakfast!

And these are hands-down the best Portuguese muffins on earth!!

We opened gifts/stockings and then watched a Candlelight Church service.

My mom even made vigil candles. It was such a beautiful service, and even though we couldn’t be in person, it was a great alternative  <3

That evening we enjoyed some appetizers, but the real star of the show…

SEAFOOD PAELLA. This was my mom’s first time making this- she whipped it up in a cast iron pan over the grill.

This meal was out of this world. Writing this now I can practically taste it! May need to be a new tradition.

We served it with Red Lobster biscuits. Cannot go wrong with those! It’s always the great debate- what is the best free carb indulgence from restaurants? Red Lobster biscuits vs. Texas Roadhouse Rolls vs. Olive Garden breadsticks. Oh, and then there is the Outback bread and Cheesecake factory’s too! What’s your favorite?

December 26th, we had some girl time with pedicures.

After our pedicures, we stopped into Devivo Brothers (our favvv) for a delicious lunch while the guys went to Hard Eight BBQ.

Now, this next event is something I did not know I needed in my life, but I am officially obsessed with- Axe throwing!!

I was not very good (like most sports I try), but I semi-improved by the end. Everyone else picked it up quickly.

After axe throwing, we grabbed some Andy’s. Cannot go to Keller without a stop at Andy’s!

Before calling it a night, we drove through a nearby neighborhood that does a “theme” every year with Christmas displays. This year’s theme was Charlie Brown, so cute.

On December 27th, we went to Top Golf – another new favorite pastime. Annnd another new favorite pastime that I am horrible at but will play any day of the week!

DJ won every round-he was sooo good.

Pete and Halston killed it too. (My mom sat this one out since her shoulder was recovering from an injury).

What kind of swing do I have going on? Help.

Who knew Top Golf didn’t only serve up the chance to show off a cringe-worthy golf swing, turns out it has some really decent food too. The guys were raving about the wings, but I had my eyes on that hummus!

That was just our appetizer, because that evening we enjoyed some incredible Mexican cuisine from Maria Cuca’s.

We had Baileys for dessert and played the game of Quelf until past midnight. You guys, that game is too much. I was laughing to the point of tears!

The next morning, Pete made us all frappuccinos! These are tasty as can be & bring me back to high school days when he used to make them for us.

That evening, of the 28th, we went to Sushi Sam and ordered a Sushi boat for the table. We did damage!! The sushi thooo- I mean you can have good sushi and you can have great sushi. This fell into the “great” category, no question.

And before we headed out on the 28th, we grabbed some Summer Moon followed by an Orange Theory workout all together 🙂

It was an awesome Christmas..this family time was much needed. It was tough not being able to go back to Ohio like we usually do, but I’m grateful we will be able to celebrate lots of holidays with our family there moving forward!

I’d love to know: 

  • What is your favorite complimentary bread from a restaurant?
  • Have you ever celebrated Christmas in July?

Weekend with DJ!

Hello hello! I hope you are all having a great week. I had a wonderful weekend with my older sis in town! I can’t wait to share all about it! For now, I’m zooming back a couple weekends to another favorite of the summer when DJ visited me 😊

He flew to town for a couple days the weekend of June 25th. Can you believe it had been over a month since we had seen each other?! At this point we only have a couple weeks to go until no more long stretches apart.

First up on our weekend agenda was breakfast on June 26th at Magnolia Cafe.

As we pulled into our parking spot, we were greeted by this bird mural. When my sister was here, she remarked how fun all the murals were around the city- it really is fun to spot new ones all the time!

I’ve passed Magnolia Cafe more times than I could count! I always get a kick out of their “Sorry We’re Open” sign and knew it’d be a place we’d have to stop in eventually.


I would describe it as a no-frills, solid, reliable breakfast spot (although I believe they have dinner too). The staff was exceptionally friendly and we savored our time out on the back patio.


Even the menu continues on with the apologetic, tongue-in-cheek flare. 🥞

Typically we don’t prefer very fluffy pancakes, but these chocolate chip ones were really good and loaded with chocolate!

We limited our coffee intake at breakfast knowing we were going to try a new coffee shop after breakfast. I’ve heard many people talk about Cosmic, but I didn’t realize how close it was to us, just tucked away on a side road off South Congress.


They have a very expansive menu with some unique options like a lavender matcha latte, or if you’re feeling wild, a nitro espresso cocktail. We grabbed a couple iced coffees and enjoyed the morning sitting in their massive courtyard.

One thing we did not cross off the bucket list in Austin was Franklin BBQ (I know, shameful!). They went to carry out only during the last year, and we kept waiting for it to reopen, but it has not yet. We tried to put in an order for carry out while sitting there at Cosmic- but they were all sold out; procrastination was not our friend here. As the caffeine kicked in, we became more determined to find a way to get our hands on the world’s best BBQ.  Where there is a will and all that, right? We ended up calling Franklin’s to see if there was any chance there was more available than listed online, and they explained we could actually order a whole brisket online and have it delivered chilled to our home through Goldbelly. Also, side note- the staff was so friendly and really did what they could to help us out. We watched a Youtube video of someone who did this to see if it would still be good/worth it even shipped- and he said it was 99% as good as the real thing in person! So we are going to do it- probably have people over, make some veggie dishes and sides- and serve it up as a fun transitional meal from TX to OH as soon as we get off the waitlist!
Anyway, Cosmic is THE perfect place to relax with some coffee on a Saturday morning. And there is plenty of seating… which is a huge plus around here!

They also have several food trucks on site too.

After enjoying our iced coffees, we went back to our apartment. I worked out for about an hour and then got ready for the day.

We had an early dinner reservation at 5:30 on South Congress, so in the afternoon we killed time walking and shopping the tourist trap. We hopped store to store, and it was such a blast. There are gems on that road! Our first stop was Neighborhood Goods– I would love to shop here for gifts for holidays.



Many of the store fronts are beautifully decorated, vying for the next passerby’s attention.

One of my favorite stops was Big Top Candy Shop. I love a vintage candy/soda shop like that.

And of course, we stopped in all the different boot shops! 

Oh, and cannot forget South Congress Books!!
We did have a little (now funny) mishap. It was super hot that day, and I had lathered myself in sunscreen. At some point, my ✨ glisten ✨ turned into straight sweat and the sunscreen ran straight into my right eye. It was annoyingly painful and would not stop watering! I knew my makeup on that eye did not stand a chance, so I ran into a restaurant bathroom to rinse it off. I probably should have taken the other eye makeup off too- because they were hilariously incongruent. But at least my eye wasn’t on fire anymore. We didn’t have time to walk back to the apartment, so I resorted to just keeping my sunglasses on in all the shops. DJ said he didn’t see a big difference between my eyes, and we debated if it was worse wearing my sunglasses indoors or having uneven makeup, ha!

Before we knew it, it was time for dinner. We walked to Central Standard to sit out on their patio.

They are known for their cocktails. I don’t typically order cocktails since the ones I’ve tried have been so sweet, but the waitress recommended the ‘Face Your Fears’ cocktail with mezcal, tequila, aperol, chareu, grapefruit and lemon- so refreshing and not too sweet with a nice smoky flavor! Highly recommend. 

We ordered some delicious oysters. They tasted particularly good given how hot it was outside.

Right before getting the rest of our food, we noticed a wedding was happening right next to us. We watched nearly the whole thing, keeping our conversation at a minimum and a whisper, mesmerized by the ceremony. They had the cutest little pup in the bridal party too. I was getting emotional as the bride walked down the aisle, and I don’t even know the people!!

Back to the food- I ordered a falafel burger which I was obsessssedddd with.

DJ ordered their roasted half chicken- he said it was good but maybe wouldn’t order it again.

After dinner, we walked back to the apartment to give our feet a break and unpack our shopping finds.

Here is a candle we picked up! I also couldn’t resist trying the sour bears from Neighborhood Goods (yum!) & DJ tried the cashews. I really could do some damage in there- I love all the unique finds.

We went on a lovely sunset walk along Ladybird Lake where we had another debate. Right around the time the bats took off, we saw a small swarm of flying creatures above us darting here and there. We had a passionate conversation about whether they were birds or bats. I thought they were bats, and DJ thought the former. Finally some random stranger came near us and said loud enough for us to hear, “those are birds” 🤣. Okay, Deej, you win this one.

Next, we went up to the rooftop for our favorite view of the city! We were saying it was eerily quiet for a Saturday night in Austin. We hypothesized that everyone was just taking the weekend easy with July 4th being the next. But hopefully they didn’t know something we weren’t privy to!

The next morning before dropping DJ off at the airport, we quickly stopped into Gourdough’s Donuts food truck for breakfast. This is another Austin classic.

We sipped on a couple iced coffees while waiting for our order to be called.

These donuts blew away every expectation. We could not believe how good these were. We ordered the Funky Monkey with caramelized bananas, the Mother Clucker with fried chicken over a savory donut (DJ’s favorite & I tried a bite and even liked it- it’s a must order if you like chicken), and the naughty and nice cinnamon donut with honey (the simplest of them all, but very tasty!).

And that wraps up our amazing, amazing weekend together. I was deeply sad the rest of the day after he left and thankful I had clinical the next day to reset and distract my mind.

I’d love to know:

  • If someone visits your city, what is the *must* visit restaurant?

Family Trip to NC & Graduation!

Hello all!! I hope you are having a lovely week so far. I survived my last and probably my favorite intensive yet (content-wise). I learned so much. My head is spinning though- I think I need to go back and rewatch all the lectures because it was a ton of information. We also had to wait until today to find out if we passed our check-offs, and I did- *phew*- huge sigh of relief! More on all that later! For now, I want to jump right into our past April and May.

April was my study month. Okay, yes, every month has been a study month for the last few years- but this was the study month. As soon as I finished up clinicals, I was entirely focused on studying for boards (and I had started my endocrinology specialty, so I had some assignments for that). For those nurses studying for FNP boards out there- I did the Leik book & App- very helpful, the Sarah Michelle review which was my favorite, and the APEA review with Hollier-maybe less helpful for boards, but valuable for practice and review in general. I think I would have done Fitzgerald if I had to do it over because I heard great things about that one. I did not find the Exam Edge questions relevant or helpful at all. I did like Board Vitals though! My main unsolicited advice- do as many questions with rationales as possible!

Anyway- back to things outside of studying!.. April 5th I went to the Magnolia Silos with my mom. You can read about that trip here if you would like.

On April 11th, I drove to Keller when my sister was there visiting my mom and Pete. The first stop was F n G for dinner (one of my fav spots in town).

Our go-to item is off-menu- they have few vegetarian offerings, so if you ask for a vegetarian dish, they have something called Matchstick veggies- always so good. I have started using broccoli slaw in my every day meals because of this dish! It’s really delicious sautéed up with lots of veggies & a bit of olive oil.

And special shoutout to their peach cobbler which is pretty unreal.

April 12th my sister, Halston, had a simulated virtual trial for law school. Lucky for us, family and friends were allowed to watch! My mom and I sat out on the patio while she did her trial inside the house. It was SO cool to see her do her thing & she absolutely killed it! We were insanely impressed.

Sadly, my sister had to leave that evening to go back to Philly, but it was nice to briefly see her!

April 13th, I worked on homework all day, then my mom and I drove to the entirely vegan-comfort food spot, Spiral Diner in Fort Worth, for an early dinner. It was on the way home for me too, so this worked perfectly.

Love the retro vibes here!

We were blown away by how good the food was. We tried the Fajita Quesadilla and the Chef salad. There was a not a single bite leftover.


Then we walked around the cute area near the diner before I headed out to return to Austin.

Throughout the month, I took breaks studying with lots of walks along Lady Bird lake. I do not know what I would have done the last couple years without this trail!!

April 25th DJ and I woke up extra early and went to get some Summer Moon. I think this was the day the Austin Marathon was going on, so we had a hard time getting around town. We weren’t able to go to our usual Summer Moon, but we discovered one not too far away. And it was so nice inside! I love those chandeliers.

We then went for a walk around a park near us enjoying the beautiful morning.

We even climbed to the top of the Doug Sahm hill to get glorious views of the city. It was impossible to not make a few “What in the Sahm Hill jokes” standing up there 😝


Then moving into May! May 7th we arrived in North Carolina for my graduation on site, DJ’s graduation (MBA), Kevin’s graduation (DMD), Halston’s bday and Mother’s day! Lots to celebrate. We were greeted by this rainbow when driving from the airport to the hotel.

For dinner that evening, we went to Firebirds Grill which we all loved. I would highly recommend this restaurant if you are ever in the area! This was deemed Halston’s bday dinner 🎂 🎉

That evening we had a surprise for Halston! My mom brought one of her favorite cake flavors- Italian cream- chilled through security, on a plane and safely to NC.

Happy birthday seeeester! Hal opened her bday cards, and we all enjoyed some of that cake (suhh guuhd) before turning in for the evening.

May 8th was graduation day! I woke up early to get a quick run on the treadmill while watching Cruel Summer (this reminds me I’m very much behind on that show)…. anyway, the morning was going smoothly until I had to deal with the dang graduation hood. I could not figure it out! My group chat from school was buzzing with other people trying to figure it out too. I couldn’t help but laugh, here we are graduating with master’s degrees, but can’t figure out how to do the graduation hood properly, lol. Someone from the group shared a Youtube video and luckily my mom was down the hall and able to help me out with it. This was one of those unexpected special moments- I had flashback to her helping me zip up my dress for the wedding  <3 She’s always got my back both figuratively and literally!

We still weren’t 100% sure it was right, but it didn’t matter after all – and I noticed when I arrived everyone clearly had their own interpretation of how to wear the hood, hah.

We almost didn’t have a graduation, but about a month before they decided to allow us to attend in person. Very thankful it worked out!

Even though family and friends couldn’t attend in person, my family watched back in the hotel on a TV ❤️

After graduation, I caught up with friends for a bit then met up with my fam to walk around campus and take some pics. 

We were famished after all the festivities were over, so we were on the hunt for anywhere to eat. I remembered Bull City Burger and Brewery  being really good from my first intensive, so we headed there. It was just as good this time around! I am obsessed with their sweet potato fries.

That afternoon I took a siesta – I did not sleep a wink the night before since I had consumed wayyy too much caffeine during our travel day and had a lot of excitement over graduation. The nap was perfect, and I woke up refreshed and ready to go for the evening!

We headed to downtown Raleigh for dinner at Oak Steakhouse. Prior to dinner, we stopped in a nearby market to grab some coffee while waiting for our reservation.

The dinner was spectacular! I do have to quickly highlight their Caesar salad. I think it was the best I’ve ever had.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and opened the sweetest graduation cards <3 Then Kevin, Halston, DJ and I went into downtown Raleigh to go out on the town. We found a cozy little patio to sit outside and played multiple different games like Heads Up, Trivia, etc.

The next day, May 9th and Mother’s Day, we had an awesome jam-packed day planned before we all headed our separate ways that evening.

First, we put our names in at Flying Biscuit – one of the most popular breakfast places around. I think we had around a 2 hr. wait, which we were prepared for. While waiting, we grabbed coffee at Cafe Carolina in the same shopping strip, sat out on their patio, and my mom opened her Mother’s Day cards and gifts. You all already know she is one of the best <3 She is easy to celebrate on Mother’s day- grateful for her beyond words.

We then walked around and stopped into a few of the shops.
And not long after that our name was called!

This is one of the BEST and most memorable brunches and was worth every second of the wait.

We started with perhaps the most unforgettable part of the meal- their biscuits!! Oh. my. goooodnessss. Easily the best biscuits I’ve ever had- and that apple butter with them was wonderful. 

We appreciated how they had vegan options on their menu. My mom and I split a couple dishes- their hollywood omelette with egg whites, spinach, mushrooms, and vegan mozz along with their avo toast. Both tasty as alllll get out.


We also tried their chocolate chip pancakes- YUM.

The guys each ordered the dirty bird bowl with two split biscuits, oven-fried chicken, queso and chicken sausage gravy- they absolutely raved about this dish.

Next up we went on a hike nearby. It was such a wonderful hike and a gorgeous day!

We found a great lake to walk around and at some point all tried our hand at skipping stones. I discovered that is not a talent of mine!

When we said our goodbyes at the airport, I remember being soo sad this highly anticipated weekend was over. It was one for the books, per usual! When don’t we have the best time together?!

If you’d like to explore my previous on campus experiences more I’ll link them here 🙂

On campus #1

On campus #2

On campus #3 

We were supposed to have more intensives in person, but we had to go virtual due to the pandemic.

I’d love to know:

  • Do you have any family trips planned this year?

Austin Staycation!

Hello hello!! I am sitting at Epoch coffee shop sipping on an iced coffee with a pile of school work staring me in the face, but I figured I’d allot myself about 30 mins to blog until the caffeine kicks in. Good plan, right?

I have really been looking forward to writing this post. March 16th DJ and I decided to do a staycation when our spring breaks overlapped.

We booked at the Fairmont in downtown Austin, which was actually within walking distance for us. We packed up for a couple night stay. It was nice that if we forgot anything, we could just walk down the road to pick it up. We were craving a true getaway vacation somethin’ serious, and there just wasn’t time for one… so this was our best alternative. It ended up really feeling like a real vacation and was so refreshing for us both. There was an interesting study done looking at benefits of short-term vacations if you need help convincing someone 😉

Anyway, here we gooo!

We checked in around 3 pm. As we were walking over, DJ said he was pretty sure he saw Dave Chappelle. We googled if he was in town that weekend, and sure enough, he was!

As soon as we dropped off our luggage, we walked over to check out the view.

It did not disappoint. We could see Ladybird Lake, Rainey street and I-35 all from the window.

We quickly realized we were pretty hungry- we had a late dinner scheduled that night but needed something to tide us over. We sauntered down to the restaurant in the lobby, Fulton, and check out their options. It was fun being on “vacation” but not feeling pressure to do everything a city had to offer in a few days. It made it that much more spontaneous and relaxing.

The decor is super eclectic in here, but somehow worked. I feel like I use the word “eclectic” to describe quite a lot around Austin- but it really just fits the city as a whole.

I mean, they even had this massive tree in the middle of the restaurant.

We ordered a cheeseboard with warm olives and a glass of pinot grigio. The whole combination was unreal. We’ve had a lot of luck with good food in hotels- remember when we had some of the best pasta of our life randomly at the Doubletree in El Paso? Anyway- this cheese served with honeycomb was seriously the greatest combination and the warm olives were addictive as all get out. We still talk about this! After our linner, I was hitting an afternoon slump. I noticed they had a coffee shop in their lobby, good things, so it was not even a question. I grabbed a semi-bitter cup of jo’, but it had caffeine and that was all that mattered at that moment.

Once the caffeine kicked in, I had the energy to get ready for the evening.

Then we headed out to explore the city as tourists do!

We walked around with no real plan, just venturing into parts of the city we haven’t yet while enjoying all the artwork.

We had our reservation around 7:30 for dinner that evening. It was at a spot I have wanted to try ever since we’ve moved here located at the end of Rainey street- Emmer & Rye.

This restaurant will appear on pretty much every list you find of “Best Restaurants in Austin”. And for good reason. This was an unforgettable meal from start to finish. We were seated outside on their patio with twinkling string lights which just set a great romantic, cozy ambiance. The weather that evening was particularly lovely too. Their entirely farm-to-table menu changes often, so some of these items are not on their menu anymore- but the one “must try” is a constant.

I started with their beet dish that was soo yummy.

Deej sampled a beef tartare dish (I think that’s what this was)- he loved it, and I think this is still on their menu!

Now for the star of the show. When I compile a “must try” dishes in Austin- this is near the top of the list. This is their famous cacio e pepe (This is the dish I was referring to in a previous post). I think this is perhaps the best pasta dish we have ever tried (sorry Doubletree, you’re a close second). The truffle mushroom pasta from Il Mulino at Disney is in there too.

For dessert we tried their black garlic ice cream, chocolate, orange and tomato. Wait! Before you schedule an eye appointment- yes, you read that all correctly!! We have a theory that if something is on the menu that sounds absolutely disgusting, it must be extra good because how else is it on there? Y’all… wow wow wow…. this was unusually good, meaning both unusual and unusually delicious. I don’t know why the heck it is, and it tasted unlike anything we had tried before- but do yourself a favor and give it a go if you ever are in town.

That night we turned in early. We had said we were going to stay out on the town originally like we would if we were really on vacation, but we’re old now, you see. So we promised ourselves we would stay out later the following evening.

The next morning we slept in a little bit, and around 8 am I went down to workout in the hotel gym. How awesome is this view?

And after working out, we ordered some room service breakfast which is probably our favorite part about staying in hotels.

Those pancakes! Perfection, along with everything else.

We then headed out for our next day adventures. Since we didn’t park at the hotel (we just wheeled our suitcases through town), we walked back to our apartment to pick up the car.

And next on the docket was a hike at the Barton Creek Greenbelt. I can’t tell you how many people have recommended this spot to us, and finally we tried it out.

It was a wonderful walk/hike. Usually there is water and the picture right above shows where little waterfalls form. It was bone dry while we were there, but I bet it’s flowing now given how much rain we’ve had.

After our about 5-mile hike, we drove back to the hotel around one in the afternoon. We lathered up the sunscreen then headed down to the hotel pool. Now this is vacation!!

We listened to podcasts, read books (I was working my way through Hillbilly Elegy– great read- thank you Maureen for the recommendation) and sipped on our margs in the sun.

When we got a bit too warm, we took a dip in the pool.

We didn’t want this day to end!

But then our stomachs started growling.

We had a dinner reservation at odd duck, another restaurant we’ve wanted to try for a while. I loved the whole atmosphere of this place.

We were hungryyy after our day in the sun, so we went all out on this meal.

Once again, the first dish of the night was a delightful beet dish.

Probably my favorite part of the meal was next- Cast iron cornbread with cheddar and green garlic butter. Oh my. I crave this.

We then tried their carrot quesadilla with oaxaca cheese and coriander flower dressing. This was unique and probably my second favorite of all the courses. I think DJ said this was his favorite.

We shared a scallop dish too- can’t go wrong with these. So delicious.

And ever since I tried quail with my mom in San Antonio, if it’s on the menu I feel like we have to get it. I don’t particularly like meat, which is part of why I eat mostly plant-based, but quail is an exception! This quail was fried with creamed corn, peppers, peaches and spicy honey. I think that description speaks for itself!

We were pretty full, but their dessert menu looked too good to pass up.

And it was too good to pass up. We tried their lime panna cotta with almonds, ginger, graham crackers, and toasted meringue. TOP 5 dessert of our lives.

As we promised to force ourselves out on the town, we discussed what to do next over dessert. It was actually St. Patrick’s day, so we thought it’d be fun to go down to Rainey street since we figured it’d be poppin’ and it was close to the hotel. We walked around for a while enjoying the energy that has been absent for so long in the city and then went to Javelina at the end of the street. We were sitting out on the street when we noticed a little visitor near us.

I caught this raccoon out of my periphery scaling the tree to my left. He was clearly not bothered by humans, which is quite the red flag. But he was darn cute. It reminded me of a time in high school when DJ and I were eating Penn Station sandwiches in a park and a raccoon scurried out of a trash can near us- I jumped up on the picnic table and freaked out, protecting my Penn Station with my life.

After trying to make an entrance into the restaurant (he clearly just wanted in on the St. Paddy’s day fun too), our little friend found his place under the porch out of sight. The rest of the evening we played trivia which was so much fun.

It was around 11 before we headed back to the hotel, and as we were walking back we spotted a Via 313 food truck. As soon as the thought of Via crossed our minds, there was no question about putting in an order. It was quite chilly at this point in the evening and the hot, fresh Via 313 was unlike anything else! Side note, but very exciting,…. DJ said he found a pizza place in OH that “is not Via, but is very close”. This was just the greatest news, and I can’t wait to try it out.

And sadly, we had to check out the following morning, March 18th. We weren’t ready to totally go back to studying just yet, so we went to Snooze for brunch. Perfect way to hit the “snooze” button on reality, eh?

And that wraps up our little Austin staycation. It was a wonderful few days and  just what we needed to reinvigorate us for the rest of the semester.

P.S. it has been way more than 30 mins, but oh well, I was having too much fun writing this!

I’d love to know: 

  • What is your favorite staycation or vacation you’ve ever taken?

Father’s Day 2021

Hi, everyone. Happy belated Father’s Day to all the Dads out there, and I hope you all had a great Father’s Day weekend. Father’s Day is very bittersweet for me. I miss my Dad every single day, but Father’s Day is especially tough. My heart goes out to you if it’s the same for you. I wish my Dad was here so badly to see my siblings thriving, meet DJ, meet our niece and nephews (his grandchildren) and just everyyyything else. The urge to call him randomly is still there, and if you’ve lost someone you probably understand the bulldozing mix of pain and longing that sometimes hits out of nowhere or when you hear a certain song, see the car they used to drive or when together with family and noting their palpable missing presence. My Dad was an amazing man, and there is no way he could have been a better Dad. He had the best heart, was incredibly selfless, hilarious (truly had us laughing constantly), and brightened everyone’s day he interacted with. He saw the best in people and brought it out of them. He set an awesome example for us, taught us invaluable lessons and as we’d drive home from family outings, he’d always ask, “Good memory?”. He was always sure we made good memories together, and we did. I cling to those tightly.

At the same time on Father’s Day, I feel extremely grateful for the incredible “bonus” Dads in my life through my stepdad Pete, my dad-in-law, and step dad-in-law! We are soo blessed.

For this Father’s Day, my mom and I devised a plan to surprise Pete at Brazos in Waco- halfway for us both (about 1.5 hrs). You may recognize this from when we met for my Grandma Violet’s birthday!!

We loved Brazos the last time, so we figured why not go back. My mom told Pete to reserve the day. So after church they headed out. Pete commented on the long drive, “At this rate we might as well visit Kenz!”. LOL!

They arrived before me, so when the waitress said “reservation for three” I think he figured it out, hah.

Oh my gosh, y’all, this lunch was so good and so much fun. It was easilyy the highlight of my weekend & it was really good to catch up, especially since Pete wasn’t in town when I visited my mom a couple weekends ago.

We started the meal by sharing this outrageously good guac.

Pete ordered the Ewing burger from last time that was far too memorable to pass up again.

And these fries!!! Had to get a close up.

My mom and I split their salmon over a bed of basmati rice with asparagus and broccoli along with the house salad with candied pecans and strawberries. Wowzaaa, all so yummy. And what’s a true celebration without some dessert?! We ordered the peach cobbler, and it was out-of-this-world good. Even the vanilla ice cream they served with it was superb. I am so thankful we were able to do this!!! I’m also so stinking thankful for Pete- he has been supportive in every way, through every season of life. If you have followed this blog over the years, that probably goes without saying. There is not a person on earth that has a bad word to say about Pete, and he is one of the most humble, kind, hardworking people I know. We always have the best time all together too.

After lunch, we sat in the car to open cards and gifts, then I presented my presentation for this week’s intensive. My mom spoiled me by sending me off with delicious eats including her zucchini cake (I’ll be sharing about that in a few posts!), fresh sprouts from her garden, a quinoa and veggie dish, and her homemade PB protein balls.

I drove back to Austin and ended the day with a spectacular sunset run.

I’d love to know: 

  • How was your weekend?

<3

Walking Through March 2021!

Gooood morning!!! I am feeling particularly chipper today. I woke up at around 5:20, had some toast, went to Orange Theory at 6:15, unloaded the dishwasher, watched a lecture, had another breakfast, read my Bible then started to crash, so now at around 10:30 I am enjoying a second cup of coffee while writing this up. I have a few concrete assignments to get done today that I’m actually looking forward to. I love when there is a solid endpoint with written assignments vs. studying that feels far more nebulous. I’m saving all that for the rest of the weekend.

Now zipping on back to March.

March 3rd was a particularly beautiful evening for a walk. I saw this little tranquil crane enjoying the sunset as well.

I never get tired of all the different fun artwork all over Austin. I am always seeing something bright & new. I adored this little Greetings From Austin Postcard mural on the side of a building on S. 1st Street near Roadhouse Relics.

March 11th was my final clinical day for the FNP program. I really miss that office. I’m hoping to stop back to see everyone one more time before the move!

March 15th we grabbed some Summer Moon to start the day early and then went for a nice walk together along Lady Bird Lake.

Below is the Stevie Ray Vaughan memorial statue we pass every time we walk the trail.

It was a particularly crisp and beautiful morning that day.

March 16th had a more eerie feel than the previous day, but I relished it. I love cloudy weather, especially when I have a lot to get done. I feel like it gives me an “excuse” to not be outside, ha. DJ always says I would thrive in Seattle, particularly because I also LOVE rain and thunderstorms more than any type of weather. I’ve never been, but it’s on the list!

March 16th – March 18th DJ and I did a whole staycation in Austin! That deserves its own post, so I’ll share that next.

March 19th DJ and I picked up Sweet Green (the best!) and headed down for a picnic on the green space at Auditorium Shores. It was love at first bite, and I have lost count of how many times I have ordered salads from here since. My go-to is their Green Goddess with added tofu.

Watching the sunset from here was pretty spectacular as all the buildings lit up with a golden hue.

March 23rd I discovered DJ’s favorite flavor of Jeni’s at the store so was sure to snag some.

March 23rd we went for a night walk. I’ve enjoyed going for dusk/night walks and runs lately since it’s so darn hot during the day. I only walk in busy, well- lit areas- do not worry! 

March 27th we grabbed donuts from SH Donuts. We love this place, and the people who work there are sooo friendly. Oh, and their donuts are excellent.

After enjoying our donuts we walked around downtown around 7 am. We were loving our morning walks this month.

I also went on a jog after. I had an awesome run with a little bit of sugar high!

The evening of March 28th I made this vegan caprese salad over farro. I wasn’t sure how the “cheese” would turn out, but it wasn’t too bad! It was labor intensive to make, so I think I’ll probably just buy the vegan cheese next time, but it was overall a fun project and turned out yummy.

I remember around this time my actual courses were getting pretty stressful, my motivation was waning, and all I really wanted to do was focus on studying for boards, but we made it through!

March 31st we tried this delish Banza pizza. Gosh, this was REALLY good.

Something I loveeed doing through March was keeping our screen open throughout the day. It was the perfect mild temperatures, and it really did something for my mood. It’s a bit too hot much too hot to do this right now, but I took full advantage when I could!

And I will make sure to share about our Staycation next!

I’d love to know: 

  • Are you a morning bird or night owl? I am definitely an early bird, but my insomnia begs to differ.

The February Snowpocolypse

Hello hello!! I woke up this AM and decided to put my to-do list on hold to do a little blogging with my coffee. I have an intensive next week- you may remember when I’d go to my school for them? They went virtual this year, but I am really excited (and nervous) for it. We’re going to be learning how to program pumps for diabetes, do check-offs with a standardized patient, present an endocrine topic to our peers (mine is titled The Impact of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals on Fertility) and  attend various lectures. Oh, all of that to say, I have a long weekend to prepare for the intensive and think I can afford a few minutes to write this up 🙂 !

Now for a little February update! February was a weird, weird month… and if you ask anyone in Texas I’m sure they will immediately have flashbacks to our ice storm- I’ll be sure to discuss that whole fiasco and a half. February 6th I was notified we had a package, so I went down to the mail room and this Austin city candle was in the box. It didn’t have a sender on it or any messages, so it’s still a mystery who sent this candle! If you did, thank you!!!

Once we burned it down, we noticed a little foil wrapped something in the bottom. We handled it with gloves lol because, remember, we had no idea who this was from! But inside was a crisp $2 !! How fun.

February 12th we met up with some friends at Central Machine Works for the first time as a group since the previous year for a friend’s bday!! This place is awesome!! It has the most chill vibe.

Valentine’s Day we received the sweetest valentine’s from my niece and nephew <3 <3  I cannot say how excited we are to be living close to them and our other nephews and niece!!!

February 15th, we woke up to THIS!!! Whaaat!

I was planning on going to stock up on groceries that morning. As someone who grew up in OH, I was not afraid of no snow. Actually that’s a total lie- I totaled my car on black ice as a teenager, so it’s probably the thing I’m most nervous about with moving back. Anyway, here was my trial run. The problem with this massive snowfall in TX is it never happens, I mean never happens, so they didn’t have the normal snow trucks to salt the roads. I didn’t take that into account when I ventured out that day! I should have taken a hint when there was no one on South Congress that mayyybe I shouldn’t try driving on it? There were people skiing and snowboarding down it though!

There was also this guy in front of me, with the “Life is Good” tire cover. Am I surprised he was the only other one out on the road? Of course not. This is the type of person unfazed by anything. If we ever do have the anticipated zombie apocalypse, this is the guy I want on our side.

When I finally arrived at HEB (which took triple the usual time), they weren’t open!! This whole venture was clearly not my brightest moment.

The worst part of the not being able to stop at the grocery store… you might want to sit down for this one- I didn’t have any coffee left. Yes, I know. I ended up stopping by a Starbucks nearby on foot that was actually open, I think since it was attached to a hotel. I loaded up on four coffees that lasted a couple days and then kept doing that until I was able to make it back to the store. Never been so thankful for Starbucks in my whole life.

I headed home and we turned on our artificial fire, because same as a real one, right?

And then I had to get to food prepping with the little we had left in the fridge. I was actually quite amazed how much these groceries stretched. I made roasted potatoes, peas from a can (slaved over this one), cauliflower mashed potatoes, an eggplant parmesan (I give that name generously considering we had very little sauce left), seitan from vital gluten wheat powder, protein bars that were not good, but I ate them anyway, and lastly, our favorite- a mix of the leftover veggies, lentils and chickpeas we had mixed in with various Indian spices! We also had a little rice leftover so we added that to it and it was a delightful dinner.

Oh, I can’t forget these! I found a can of heart of palms that had been sitting around for a long time, and looked up creative ideas for them. When I found a recipe for heart of palm “crab cakes” I knew this what we had to go with! We actually had most ingredients on hand, and they were SO good. DJ was impressed how similarly they tasted to real crab cakes.

We stretched these meals until Friday when I ventured out to the store. I was craving vegetables like you wouldn’t believe.

I spent the week catching up on various school assignments. DJ did too- and actually his already virtual classes were entirely cancelled since some classmates lost power.

I do want to take a moment to say- I recognize we were incredibly blessed through all of this. We did have food, we didn’t lose our power, we had a roof over our heads- and it is truly heart breaking what happened to so many people. I don’t discount that at all, and it was really a traumatic week for so many. I pray this never happens again.

That Friday, February 19th, DJ and I went out to celebrate Valentine’s Day a week late. You know us, just makeshift celebrate everything on our own schedule, lol. I’d wanted to try Olive & June for a while, so I made us a reservation.

We sat out on their gorgeous patio. Everything was delizioso!! We shared their cheese boards (amazing, I loved the pickled veggies and the cheese was darn good)

We then had their beet salad that was one of my favorites ever ever- soo good! It actually may have been my favorite part of the meal.

I had their seared gulf snapper- it was flavorful as can be!

DJ had their cacio e pepe. It was really tasty!! Butttt there is actually an even better cacio e pepe in town we tried a few weeks later- can’t wait to share that!!

We grabbed some desserts to go- so yummy.

February 21st we got brunch with a friend from Kerbey Lane Cafe. I genuinely forgot to take pictures, but take my word for it that this place had some GOOD food. An *ultimate* brunch spot.

Oh, just one more detail from the whole chaos of the snowstorm. Throughout the rest of the month we were also on a boil water warning. We boiled a whole bunch of water at once and then used every coffee mug that would fit in the fridge to store it.

For desserts throughout February I was loving these strawberry ice cream bars with a little PB and some chocolate chips.

And it had been far too long by the time February 26th rolled back around since we had last ordered Flower Child! (Always have to get a side of that corn and quinoa).

And that wraps up our…interesting… February! I best get back to the grind. Have a great weekend, friends!!

I’d love to know: 

  • Do you have any stories around dealing with wild weather?

Café No Sé!

Hey, everyone!! Hope you are having a lovely week. I wanted to quickly share my new favorite spot in town! Last Wednesday, June 9th, my mom was in town for work and we planned a dinner in town. We walked down to Café No Sé on South Congress. I believe this translates to Cafe “I Don’t Know” in Spanish, which would be representative of the eclectic style and choices of food of the Cafe! I’m not totally sure if that’s the origins, if anyone has any further insight I’d love to hear, lol- but that’s my theory. Anyway, I have wanted to try this restaurant for so long. It always looked adorable from the outside. 

Immediately upon walking in we were smitten with the overall aesthetic. It has an extremely clean and crisp modern feel while still being warm and homey.

I have to come back here to try out the coffee!! (& their pastries).

We ordered up their café spread with chickpea hummus, kamut & pine nut tabbouleh, and grilled laffa. Wow, that hummus was pretty spectacular and the grilled laffa was near impossible to put down. 

We then tried out their greenhouse lettuces, avocado, goat cheese, kabocha squash, pickled cranberry, radish, sunflower seed cracker, and pomegranate vinaigrette. Easily my new favorite salad in town.

Now the octopus- *chef’s kiss*. My mom said it was one of the greatest dishes she has ever had- I may have to agree!!! It was phenomenal!

For dessert we tried their sweet tea ice cream. It tasted just like sweet tea-it was genuinely as though we were eating sweet tea.We then walked back down South Congress to the Bat Bridge. People were scattered all over the lawn and in kayaks, tour boats and along the bridge anxiously awaiting the grand bat flight. But, sadly, they never did take flight- Womp womp. Usually they take off a little before sundown, but it was 9:15 and still nothing. We ended up leaving, but we were glad my mom had the chance to see them once before

Before going back to her hotel for the night, we hit up the tea station in the apartment. And that wraps up our wonderful evening!!

I’d love to know: 

  • What has been the highlight of your week so far?

January Austin Eats Roundup!🍦

Hey friends!! I hope you had a wonderful weekend! I have some long posts in the queue, with nearly each one recapping each month from this last half-year. Wow.. that is crazy to say. Last year felt like the longest year ever… and now this one is flying. Do you feel the same? I am going to save the Christmas post for July so I can do a proper “Christmas in July” post. And between the throwbacks, I’m going to try to add in some more recent happenings.

Wrapping up last year, DJ and I were craving some good froyo, so we stopped by Culver’s on December 30th and grabbed some.

On December 31st, New Years Eve, I stopped by the grocery store to restock the fridge and decided to pick up a TIME magazine I spotted at the checkout. I can’t remember the last time I picked up a magazine, but this seemed like the one to have given what a wild, ~unprecedented~ year we had.  I’m sorry- I know everyone probably never wants to hear that word again.

What better way to ring in the New Year than with Via 313?! I made us some side salads to go with them, because you know, health.

On January 1st, DJ and I decided to order from a restaurant my mom recommended – Flower Child. You will quickly see- this was not the last time we ordered from here! It prides itself on being a health-conscious restaurant, which is nice & all- but their food is soooooo goooood. Our favorites include their corn with quinoa, broccoli, and mashed potatoes. It will be a restaurant we miss a ton for sure.

It was so good we ordered it the next day too!

On January 3rd, I headed to my mom and Pete’s to finish up another clinical rotation. This was a lot shorter than the fall semester rotation, but I was excited to spend this time with them again. I look back at what a blessing this time was I able to spend there. It was certainly frustrating not being able to find these rotations in Austin, but I wouldn’t trade the memories in Keller/Fort Worth for the world. Plus I had the BEST preceptors there, so I can’t imagine it having gone any other way. This rotation in January was Ob/GYN- I learned so much. Oh, and my sister, Halston, was still there too since Christmas! Right before she left, my family surprised me with the sweetest set up-I don’t deserve them!! My birthday was a week later, but Hal wanted to make sure she was there to celebrate. They ordered dinner from one of our favorite restaurants in town, Devivo Brothers, had a balloon, a card and some AWESOME vegan desserts (the little roses in the second picture are all various delicious vegan cheesecakes!).

On January 8th, I decided to run to a nearby Starbucks during my lunch break. I ordered the Kale Portobello Mushroom Sous Vide Egg Bites – but they accidentally made the Everything Bagel ones which I discovered are even better than the Kale ones!! What a happy mistake.

And a Misto was in tow, naturally.

That weekend, on January 9th, my mom, Pete, DJ and I went to Redrock Canyon in Southlake for my birthday dinner. Everything was phenomenal!!

And you better believe we still had room for Andy’s!! It really is the best Frozen Custard- hands down.

That night I opened up birthday gifts at home from mom and Pete <3

My mom even included her famous chocolate chip vegan cookies that are OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD. These did not last long!

January 11th we had delicious salmon, salad, peas and rice while watching The Bachelor.

On my birthday, January 13th, my mom made me the most delicious breakfast of egg whites, vegan mozz, a pear balsamic (I think? I have to double check on that!), fresh sprouts from her garden and zucchini bread. Not a bad way to enter into a late-20s crisis! 😉

I returned home that evening after wrapping up clinicals and DJ greeted me with this gorgeous bouquet! For my birthday dinner all I wanted was… you can probably guess it… Flower Child!! It also only seemed right- some Flower Child to go with my Flowers.

Oh, also– I just think this is the coolest thing- Deej got me a kit where you burn the candle down and then plant daisies in the candle as a plantar. I had no problem burning down the candle…. but I have zero, I mean ZERO, green thumb and somehow I could not get the dang Daisies to grow. Hahah. I joke that I can only keep humans alive, not plants.

He also got me a Basil kit- but I am saving that for our new home so I can make fresh caprese with DJ <3

And that wraps up an amazing 27th birthday!! I just had a moment where I thought, “Wait, it was 27, right?”. You know you’re getting older when… *laughs nervously*  On January 15th, DJ and I had a date night out. Walking over to the restaurant we passed by Yeti and saw this sign and found it too funny. When people ask where we’re from around here we always say Ohio, because there is definitely a negative connotation about the annoying Californians invading Texas. We just happened to move directly from California, but we aren’t *technically* from there, lol!We had a giftcard to Swift’s Attic in downtown Austin. We had been once before and loved it!! They shut down for a while, so we were excited to see they were back up and running.

We tried several dishes- and nothing disappointed. Their menu rotates frequently, and everything is deee-lish!

January 17th we ordered Postmates- I clearly was not in the mood to cook in January lol. I thought this note was so sweet our Postmates driver put in our order.

I started my final clinical rotation for the FNP program around January 18th. I was at the same clinical site as the previous summer, so I felt like I jumped right back into the groove. On January 21st, DJ and I were craving burgers, so we drove down the road to try Arlo’s Vegan Food truck.

YOU GUYS. This was maybe the best vegan burger I have ever had. Prior to this, Hopdoddy’s was easily my favorite- but this actually was even better (did not know that was possible). DJ was very impressed. You would not know they were vegan. We didn’t care for their mac n’cheese, but the tater tots and sweet potato fries were perf.

Holy moly, we really ate our way through Austin in January, huh? That evening our second stomach (aka the dessert stomach) called out for some ice cream. We walked down South Congress to Amy’s– a famous spot in Austin for some ‘scream. We were debating between trying Amy’s or Jeni’s (fairly new to SoCo and a chain). Since Amy’s is the classic local spot, we went there first.

We put in our order (it was a hard decision since they have so much to choose from!), and then we just waited while enjoying the neon night on South Congress.

I see why people love this ice cream! WOW. I loveeed their strawberry ice cream. And they do not skimp out on the topping! (psst- must get the cookie dough).

January 22nd, the sweet tooth was still out in rare not-so-rare form, so we decided no time like the present to get Jeni’s to compare the two back-to-back.

I had their Brambleberry crisp, and actually didn’t love it. DJ thought it was really good though. He opted for the salted peanut butter with chocolate flecks- now that was jam-packed flavor!!! DJ said Jeni’s was the clear winner, but I actually preferred Amy’s, since I just love being able to mix toppings into my ice cream. But Jeni’s is pretty darn high quality ice cream for sure.

On January 23rd, my mom-in-law and I were chatting, and she said they were getting True Food Kitchen takeout for dinner in Chicago, and it sounded so good! We said how fun it’d be if we ordered True Food take out too, kinda like sharing dinner from afar. It is one of those restaurants I crave for sureee. I love their butternut squash pizza especially.

And that wraps up our January!! It sure was a tasty one and a great start to the year!

Question for you: 

  • What are you looking forward to this summer?

San Antonio Staycation :)

Hey hey!!! How is it going? So, how do you feel about a Christmas in June post? I know July is usually the whole thing, but I am so excited to share this post, so why not just start these festivities early!!

I am zipping us all the way back to December. DJ and I were desperately craving a break from the books, clinicals, studies, etc. We found a day that worked for both of us and decided to do a quick staycation in San Antonio, an hour down the road. DJ has never seen San Antonio at Christmas either, so this was a must before we moved!

I did my nails for the first time since probably that prior May(?), and it felt goood to have some color on them. Any other runners have scars all over their hands from falling? Just me? Oops, haha. 

I also put on some of my favorite earrings from Rach! They go with everything, and they have become my “go-tos”.

And let the adventure begin! Also, if you want to explore prior San Antonio adventures- you can head here and here 🙂 

For starters, we checked into the Westin downtown. We had some Orbitz points to use up, so we were excited it worked out to use it for this hotel. We were super amazed with all the precautions taken too. Who knew self cleaning buttons even existed?!

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Even the remote was protected!

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After dropping our suitcases off we headed out to walk around the city. DJ was the tour guide, even though I had been there more than he had – look, I can’t do directions for nothin’. I get all sweaty when someone gives me directions in “Compass”.

This little area (I’m sure it has a name?!) is probably my favorite place to walk around. It has such a vibrant and energetic vibe. (More vibrant and more energetic in the non-pandemic era, of course).

The architecture around the city is just stunning too!

And finally, what we came here for— the Riverwalk!

We walked the entire Riverwalk before heading back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I was so eager for it to get dark for DJ to see it lit up with the Christmas lights over the water!

Our view outside the hotel was pretty amazing at sunset. 

We were in awe of the beauty of this hotel!

And there is no possible way to capture the glowing, festive lights in all their glory through a picture, but it is a sight to see!

We went to boudro’s for dinner, of course! It was delicious- I have recapped it once before and the lighting wasn’t great for pics, so I’ll leave those out this time.

After a restful night’s sleep, we went to Ostra for one last meal on the Riverwalk. I first went here with my mom and sister and remembered their food being so yummy.

And it did not disappoint this time either! I had one sip of their coffee, and it was glorious. It was soo good I had to ask the waiter what they used. And guess what it was…Not just your average coffee, nope. Peet’s! Of courseee I loved it.

DJ ordered their waffle & berries & I ordered their lox croissant. My mouth is actually watering writing about it- this brunch was mighty tasty.

And would it be a San Antonio trip without a visit to The Alamo? 

We opted out of the tour this time, but DJ was glad to see it from afar.

And that’s a wrap on our little staycation!

Question for you:

  • How the heck are ya?! Been a minute. 

Ummm I don’t think I can do my signature anymore?! I hear it’s Cheugy.

Oy to the veyyyy, LOL.