Halston & Kevin’s Wedding!

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

Back when I originally wrote this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Toasting to the bride <3

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

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

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

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Made it to the boat!!

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

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

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

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

Our beautiful Mom of the Bride & Pete <3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Back to Bayside we go..

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

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

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

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

Question for you:

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

xo <3

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The Local House & Hal’s Bachelorette Party!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Even the little tucked away areas were adorable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions for you:

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

xo <3

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First Days in Austin & Flying to Miami!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We took another evening walk that night.

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July 7th was the same ol’ too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Plane time!

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Questions for you:

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

xo <3

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Our Road Trip from CA to TX!

Hey all! How is everyone?

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

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

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

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

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Have you ever seen more zen seals?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DJ ordered a brownie mixer, and I stole a couple bites. Also, if you go to Culver’s you must order their cheese curds too- that’s probably my favorite thing on their menu… my stomach was not feeling 100% otherwise I totally would have loaded up.

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Okay okay, still on our coffee quest. Luckily there was a Starbuck’s right across the parking lot!

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I ordered my go-to almond milk Misto and grabbed a Siggi’s yogurt for some protein to tie me over that hopefully wouldn’t aggravate my over-tired queasiness.  Goodness this yogurt is good! I have seen it sold all over the place, but haven’t tried it- it’s really dang good! I felt better instantly after eating it.

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Back to the highway.

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New Mexico has a special place in our heart after our experience in Albuquerque on our way to CA from IN.

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While driving through New Mexico we saw a road runner statue on the side of the road. It tripped me out, because it looked so realistic at first, but was impossibly gargantuan.

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The views driving through at dusk were breathtaking. I had to put Smalls on pause to soak them all up.

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And we finally made it to Texas! wooohoooo!

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We stayed at the Doubletree in El Paso. When we checked in, we got these complimentary delicious cookies! So fun & a great little touch 🙂

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We were so hungry by this point. We ate through all our snacks we had packed in the car and were ready for some real food! We just went to The Fire Restaurant in the hotel since it was pretty late (around 9:30 pm). While waiting for our food we were feeling reflective and talked all about our time in CA and what we were looking forward to in Texas. Special convos <3

DJ ordered one of the greatest pastas we’ve ever tried. It was blackened shrimp penne with mushroom, green chile, sundried tomato and red chile cream. Who would have thought- just out of a hotel restaurant?! We have talked about this dish several times since.. I mean, wow– we were mind blown. I think it was mainly that red chile cream sauce- whatever the heck is in that… I neeeed that recipe.

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Even though I ate DJ’s pasta as though it was my own (good thing it was a pretty generous portion), I also ordered the Fire FIT Vegan bowl with hominy cake, cabbage, tomato, onion, green chile, pickled radish, Guajillo broth, and cilantro. This was a phenomenal vegan meal! It had such a unique, wonderful flavor and it didn’t take long to eat every single bite.

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After dinner we scurried out to catch the bottom of the 9th of the El Paso Chihuahuas (we just watched through the fence). It was fun to see a different minor league stadium & how they run a show!

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I think our little El Paso stint was our favorite part of the road trip. So fun! In the morning of July 3rd we hit the road super early (around 6 am). We stopped in a gas station, and I grabbed some coffee. This was such stinking good gas station coffee- it even had a beautiful layer of crema- like …WHAT?! (the picture below is straight black coffee- not a latte or anything- that is just the quality of the crema!). First a hotel restaurant (not even Italian restaurant) serving the best pasta ever and now a gas station serving insanely good coffee… I am having an existential foodie crisis.

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Back to the road… More studying with Smalls & more driving for DJ.

I offered tons of times to drive, but DJ insisted on driving so I could study. He’s the best <3 I made such a dent and felt good about the ground I had covered (mentally, and I guess literally with our move, hehe).

Sooo we did have a little mishap on the highway. Remember how our cooler was just barely sticking out of the bed of our truck? Well, it went FLYING out of the bed when we were on a wide open windy area in Texas.. I mean flying… we were actually warned at the gas station from the cashier that the wind was brutal and to be careful. We didn’t realize it was going to actually pick up our cooler! We only lost a couple items that were of any value (our Ninja bottles were the big thing and just some cheap dishes, along with the cooler itself). Luckily the cooler tumbled off to the side of the road, but we are just just so thankful nobody was behind us on the highway… that could have been real bad. The thought makes me shudder. There was nowhere to turn around to retrieve it, but I’m hoping it wouldn’t cause any issues being off the shoulder.

About 10 minutes before arriving we started seeing gray clouds, ominous harbingers. We crossed our fingers that it wouldn’t start to rain because we had all that luggage in the bed of the truck. But sure enough, while stuck in our first experience of Austin traffic, the rain came down in full force- buckets upon buckets. We were so close…. yet so far..

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I will say despite knowing everything was getting soaked in the back I was still excited to see a thunderstorm. We hadn’t seen one in years, and I loveeeee a thunderstorm (at least the mild ones- not the actually dangerous ones, which I hear we may experience often here).

Finally we arrived, got our keys, checked in, and unloaded our sopping wet suitcases. It’s all good though- they aired out pretty well, and it wasn’t an issue. We had never seen our apartment in person (my mom helped scope them out for us when she was in town for business a few months ago). We were immediately excited upon walking in! This is perfect for the stage we’re in right now- annnd everyone was so friendly we interacted with while unloading our truck. I think that was the first thing we noticed here- everyone is so friendly!

After dropping our stuff off, we popped into Trader Joe’s for our first ever Texas grocery trip! It has a parking garage system where you get your ticket comped if you are under an hour- forces me to grocery shop real quick- and y’all know I treat TJ’s like a leisure stroll in the park, so this can be a challenge, hah. Also, you take an elevator to bring your groceries down in the cart. All these little things seemed so confusing at first, but are second nature now!

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Alrighty this is quite long so I’ll continue the rest in another post. All in all it was a wonderful, memorable road trip, even with the minor little glitches. Rest in peace, ol’ Igloo Cooler- thanks for helping preserve all our San Francisco leftovers over the years… you were real cool 😉 

Questions for you:

  • Have you ever lost anything valuable on a road trip/traveling?
  • Are you team room service or eat out on the town? Both?

xo <3

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**There is an affiliate link in this post, but all opinions and ideas are my own**

A Sister Day in the Bay!

Hey hey!! Wow, I think this is the longest I’ve ever gone without blogging since I’ve begun. I miss y’all tons! But guess what- we finally have Wifi?! Wooohooo! The last few weeks have been a real whirlwind, but with the best of memories mixed in. School and trying to find our footing in a new city is taking up every second of my spare time. I hope to get catch up on blogging during the couple days I have between semesters in August (If I’m not sleeping the whole time, lol).

I am still catching up from way back in June. After our day in Wine Country and the most unforgettable pizza dinner at Capo’s, we stayed the night at my SIL Amy’s. In the morning, Hal and I had plans to run the city. And yes, I mean physically, literally run (but I guesssss you could metaphorically say we ran the city that day too 😉 )! She is maybe the only other person I can think of that would agree to get around the city this way. While packing for the weekend I advised Hal to bring warmer clothes. SF is usually pretty mild/chilly, even in the summer – hence the saying- “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco”. Wellll, it would have behooved me to actually have checked the temp- and it ended up being 95F! Whooops. We were a bit overdressed, but weren’t about to let it deter us from our plans.

Since we were going to be out and about for the day, we took our leftover pizza and snacks, and filled a bag of ice from Walgreens since I forgot my cooler (Womp Womp). We were not about to let all that food go to waste though! Surprisingly, this makeshift cooler worked out really well. We placed the bag in a little plastic lid I had in the trunk, so anything that melted didn’t actually get on the car lining. The lengths we go to to protect our food, amirite?!

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And we are off to the races!….

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Our first stop was Arsicault– a bakery known for their croissant.

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We took our croissant next door to Breck’s since Arsicault doesn’t have much in the way of coffee.

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We grabbed some iced coffees to enjoy with it! I rarely get iced coffees, but this day was givin’ me a hankerin’ for one! It was so smooth and creamy. You could tell it was extremely high quality beans.

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Now onto the croissant… I have tried several croissants in SF-  Tartine, B. Patisserie, etc. and this one easily was the best (with Tartine as a close second). The only other croissant I’ve had that may come close is the one from Summer Moon I went to with my momma in Fort Worth (which I think they may have a Summer Moon in Austin?! I passed a sign for one the other day!). Anyway- the combo with the iced coffee is about as good as it gets. I get cravings for this on the dailyyy now.

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After the most delightful start to the day, we saw a Farmer’s Market around the corner we had to check out.

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This breaddddd. I am always drawn to the carbs like a magnet.

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We continued running, running, and running some more..

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Soaking up the views along the way…

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Our next stop was the Cable Cars, but first, we needed to find some hydrating fluids to quench our thirst. We popped into the Walgreens once again (we spent a whole lotta time at the corner of happy and healthy that day). They have the cutest little Ghirardelli section too! I have never seen that in a store before.

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After grabbing some vitamin water to refuel, we also popped into the big Macy’s across the street and cooled down for a second while perusing the super cute summer selection.

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And finally, we grabbed our tickets for the cable cars. It was about a 45 minute wait. Important Tip:We learned later that you actually can jump on at any cable car stop (you don’t have to go to the main one- you can avoid a ton of waiting time if you walk just about .25 of a mile up the road!).

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I had never rode a cable car before this either (I know– How can I call myself an SF pro if I haven’t even rode a cable car?!)… I was excited to share this SF first with my sis and not lay awake at night feeling like a fraud (JK that never happened- well not often). For my history people- Cable Cars were invented in SF, so it’s pretty much a “must” on every tourist list. If you want to read more about the history click here!

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It was actually way more fun than we even anticipated! We did it more for the novelty of it, but wow- what a blast!

 

The views of the city as we strolled along were awesome too.

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Pic or it didn’t happen.

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We ended near Ghirardelli Square, and then continued our run to our next spot….

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Boba Butt! The Corgi inspired Boba shop!

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Their boba is SOOO good!!! Pictured is their strawberry smoothie boba… the definition of refreshing and flavorful! We have to make sure to bring Pool Noodle (Amy’s Corgi) here sometime so she can get him up on the photo wall!

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And you know I couldn’t help but sing, “I like big boba butt smoothies, and I cannot lie!”

We then jogged through China Town to a place on the bucket listGolden Gate Bakery. They are famous for their egg tarts. I didn’t know what to expect since I wasn’t super excited about the ones I tried from City View- but people said these were in a league of their own. The shop also has extremely unpredictable hours- there is even a Twitter account that directly addresses, “Is the Golden Gate Bakery open today?”.

We waited about 30 minutes (not too bad of a wait from what I’ve heard!). The bakery itself was pretty cramped inside, and there was hardly room for more than a few people at once. We eagerly ordered our tarts and headed outside to try them out!

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The verdict? Woah— woah— I get it!!! I totallyyyy get the hype. It’s hard to describe the flavor because it’s unlike anything I’ve had before. It was steaming hot and the bite was the most wonderful balance of savory, sweet, and crisp with the crust. The egg flavor was there, but in a muted way that wasn’t overwhelming. Think almost like a sweet quiche. Like I said– just perfectly balanced in every way! I definitely should have gotten more than the couple we ordered, but we had one more food spot we wanted to try.

Next up we were going to go to Haight Ashbury for their Street Fair, but then we heard there were a bunch of naked men walking around so we decided to change our plans, lol. SF, you’re something else, I’ll tell ya what. Rather, we decided to go to The Mission- an area in SF with a ton of great restaurants and shops!

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My sister particularly loved it because it has a lot of Latina influence. She feels right at home when she hears people around talking in Spanish.

Hal was having a Peruvian craving, and I’m convinced Ceviche is one of the greatest things on earth. So naturally, we popped into Limon Rotisserie for a little snack before heading home.

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We shared Ceviche Mixto. This was the best ceviche of all time ever ever. This dish will definitely be the one to beat! Halston said her fiance’s mom’s is better- so when I saw her for the wedding festivities I told her we have to all get together and have her ceviche sometime! Her ceviche definitely is on that “ultimate” food bucket list- which I should publish on here one day. Hmmm. Digressing..digressing…

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Back to the food at hand— the taro chips it was served with were really tasty! I have never had these before, but I know the brand Terra has some- so I may pick them up in the store if I see them.

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And a crisp, Diet Coke was the perfect refreshing beverage to pair with it. I know how bad they are for ya, but on a rare occasion nothing sounds better!

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And here is the summation of what we ran for the day!

75ee0c58-fbc6-4e5d-a3ea-e53d21f8221dIf you like to run, this is such a fun way to see a city. Just make sure to do it with someone and map out the safe places in town… and maybe don’t wear leather workout pants in 95F weather!

That evening we just enjoyed lotsa leftovers! (mainly the ‘za, of course 🙂 ).

Question for you:

– Please share something going on in your world. I miss blogging so much & reading what you’ve all been up to too!

xo <3

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Wine Country Part II & Capo’s Pizza!

**I started this post on the evening of July 4th, just as an FYI for some temporal reference 😉 I’ve just chipped away at study breaks**

Hey everyone! We are officially in Austin! We arrived last night. It was a pretty smooth trip out, but an emotional and high stress morning today. I’ll discuss all that more when I actually do our travel posts. BUT we did have a productive afternoon, I made it to my study end point for the day, and then our evening of the 4th was a blast. Currently, I am sitting on the floor in my new “study spot” with my mood lights wrapped around our fan to give some sense of calm lighting- It may be a fire hazard at the expense of my own aesthetic comfort- gotta choose your battles, ya know? (I’ll take a picture now and put it in the post when I have Internet again). Our movers don’t come until the 9th, and we leave the 10th for the wedding- so it’ll be a bit before we are living normal again- it’s all guuud though.

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Peep the Ugg boots from 8th grade that I still wear as slippers around the apartment, totally a normal thing, ya?

I have Dynasty, a new show I’m trying out, playing in the background. I downloaded it from the Lobby’s WIFI since we don’t have any yet. I’m also eating Halo Top ice cream because I couldn’t find my normal Dreyer’s Double Chocolate Brownie favorite at the store, and this is probably my second favorite. It’s 11:37 pm, but my body is still on Pacific time, so it feels much earlier to me. I am so eager to discuss all things Austin and our last whirlwind of a 36 hours.. but for now I will try to catch up on everything else from the last month, hah!

In the last recap, I summed up the first part of our sister jaunt through Wine Country. The next winery we went to a winery called Mckenzie-Mueller! I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a touch excited about the shared name; some of those things that bring ya amusement as a kid never die. Ya know growing up when you’d be at a tourist shop and find your name on the little key chain? It’s that same thrill (even if they spelled it differently, close enough). Also, side note about Platypus tours: I think it’s so enjoyable that you don’t know which wineries you are going to until the day of- it adds an element of surprise- I didn’t even know that this winery existed!

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This was easily the most beautiful landscape of the day, although the overall feel was a bit more “stiff” than the others. It was so quiet, which was nice, but the host had an air of arrogance that created a somewhat impersonal, cold vibe.

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The tasting room was in a fun little nook- surrounded by the owner’s paintings and wine barrels.

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So meta, ya know?

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We headed out to the vineyards and had a lesson about basically every varietal.

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While it was fascinating, and the educational element of wine country is my favorite part, it felt a bit too long in light of the heat. They eventually let us loose to enjoy the grounds ourselves and find respite in some shade in between our galavanting! After getting a bottle for DJ of Sauvignon Blanc, my sister and I went to the vineyards for pics. **If you do visit Napa/Sonoma and want to purchase a bottle, they will often waive the tasting fee. This bottle ended up coming out to about $5- and since Hal and I shared a tasting it was only about $10/person. I highly recommend doing it this way if you do the tours with multiple stops!**

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We loaded up into our Tour Bus and headed to the last spot!

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And to conclude our tour, we went to Starmont.

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At this point in the day the heat was at a high… circa 105F. We decided to move inside after initially starting the tasting outside because the heat was nearly unbearable.

It was a nice winery– but felt more “commercialized” than the others- more of a tasting room than an actual winery I’d say.  I think it’s the type of place the locals like to come and hangout on a lazy Saturday. But I think if you want the full Napa experience, pass on this one and go to an actual vineyard.

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Time to head to the Ferry!

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When we got back into the bus to head to the Ferry, the driver had cheese and crackers for us- yummmy!! Can’t beat that.

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After exchanging Instagram handles with friends we made from the tour, we hopped off the bus and waited for the Ferry back from Vallejo to SF.  The Ferry never gets old! I just loveeee it.

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It was a nice and smooth ride with stunning views.

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And for Halston’s bday dinner… We went to Capo’s! It was only about a mile walk from the Ferry, so that was easy peasy. This recommendation came from Kate at LiveintheNautical. When she visited SF, and we met up for the first time, she highly recommended Capo’s to us. I had been eager to try it since, but it seemed we always had something else lined up every time we ventured into the city. One of Halston’s favorite foods is pizza, so I was hoping to give her one of the best pizza experiences of her life! (Also side note: This is the sister restaurant to Tony’s we had tried a few weeks prior).

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I immediately loved the entire feel from the brick walls to the red leather seats. I would describe it as casual, edgy, classic, yet somewhat romantic, all at the same time.

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We started with the Quattro Forni, a pizza cooked in four different ovens.  YES- FOUR. In 2012 this won the “Best of the Best” Pizza award in Las Vegas’s international Pizza Festival. This is cooked in a 500 gas brick oven, deep fried, then topped with all the yums. THEN, it then returns to a 500F brick oven, then a 650 brick oven, and lastly a 800 wood burning oven. I don’t even know if this would be classified as “pizza”—it had more of that feel of a cheesy bread because of the light airiness of the crust- but think the best GOSH DARN cheesy bread you’ve ever tasted in your life. I dream of that flavor (especially the crust). And they only make 10 per day! I made a note in our Yelp reservation that we would like to try one and called to confirm that day that it’d be available. I was determined we’d try one, haha. It was better than I could have ever imagined. Such a uniquely phenomenal creation.

Next up was the pizza-pizza- we had their “cracker thin” pizza- half Farmer’s Pie with mozzarella, provolone, goat cheese, white sharp cheddar, house honey Calabrese sausage, bacon, Guan’s assorted mushrooms, farm eggs, peppadews, arugula, oregano & romano (this half was mainly for DJ since we knew we’d be able to take him some home) and half Haight Ashbury (vegetarian) with mozzarella, provolone, feta, pesto, onions, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, broccolini, roasted red peppers, garlic, oregano, romano. We shared a slice of the Farmer’s to give it a review, but our heart was with the Haight Ashbury. The cracker thin crust was everything I could have dreamed of in a pizza crust- light, crunchy and balanced. The whole pie definitely satisfied our “pizza tooth”. Halston said it was some of the best she’s ever had too!

She was a trooper letting me pull out my obnoxious, incredibly non-subtle, food light to get these shots, lol.

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And that’s a wrap! My sister-in-law, Amy, graciously let us stay with her that evening since we were set to frolic in SF the next day! We had fun catching up and chatting with her all about her solo trip to New Zealand.

I’ll recap the next day’s happenin’s in a separate post.

Question for you:

  • Did you have a nice Fourth of July?

xo <3

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Sister Time & Wine Country Part I!

Hey hey, long time no seeee!! Oh man, you know what’s tough? Sometimes the times in life when you need to write and process the most are the times that are the most chaotic and don’t allow much free time to do just that! (Don’t count how many times I used “time” in that sentence, or this one). But I’ve gotta say, at this moment, I’m actually enjoying the chaos. It’s incredibly stressful for sure, tears have been shed, and there are times I don’t feel like I can handle it all- but things are going much smoother than I could have ever imagined, and I feel like we are almost in the clear! We also have a lot of the really huge stressors behind us, so now much of that anxiety is getting replaced with excitement and anticipation! Also, although each day is go-go-go from super early morning till nearly midnight, the adrenaline from everything is working wonders. We officially move out on Sunday.

Currently….My brain is fried, I cannot do another lick of studying, so I am treating myself to just this one night to do a blog post!

We left off the evening my sister arrived. On June 5th, my Sis and I woke up early to get to work! Halston had tons of “to-dos” on her list for the wedding & of course, I had a bottomless pit of reading and studying and assignments. We started the day with avocado smoothies– Hal talked about them for weeks leading up to the trip since she got hooked on them last time she was here. We had one every day of her visit this time around- and now I can’t have one without missing her!

I took a midday break to post some items on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. I’m never using Craigslist again with the success we’ve had through Marketplace. I’m so stoked about it- it’s just so easy.

In the evening we whipped up some stuffed sweet potatoes again. We made ours each a bit differently, mine with extra tzatziki and beets and Hal’s with extra green goddess dressing from TJs. These also included tofu, roasted peppers and onions, artichoke hearts and hummus all stuffed in Murasaki potatoes. We chatted out on the balcony & enjoyed the momentary quiet from the studying/wedding details.

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On June 6th we went to Peets during the day to get shtuff done, and then came back in the late afternoon and worked out on the main apartment community deck. Smalls was soaking up the sun… I would have hated to disturb him..so I figured I should just let him be 😉

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We made massive salads in the evening with all ingredients in the fridge- mmm mmmm! Halston is all aboard the massive salad train too.

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Side note: DJ had a home-stand during the week she was here (where he leaves basically at 730 am-ish and doesn’t get home till 11ish); that’s why he isn’t around in any adventures, sadly. We missed him!

Anyway, we took an after-dinner walk around Main Street before I hit the books again.

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Aaand it was the same ol’ on June 7th. We were very productive through the week, but basically it was just study/eat/workout/study/eat.

To shake things up for dinner, we decided to try TJ’s Cauliflower Gnocchi! We didn’t add much seasoning to it because I wanted to get a feel for the base to see what I could jazz it up with next time.

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They were super yummy. I think next time I’d like to add some type of nice parmesan on top! A red sauce would work well too. We ate them with tilapia and roasted veggies from Chef Hal herself. Halston and I eat essentially the same type of diet, so it was fun to tag- team dinners throughout the week.

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I started packing that evening after getting to a stopping point I had planned for the week. We made sure to try to get a good night sleep because we woke up around 4:45 am on Saturday June 8th to get a workout in. And finally- after a long week of studying and wading through wedding logistics we were ready for a day of fun & relaxation! We scarfed down our coffee and avocado smoothies and headed out to celebrate my sister’s birthday in….. NAPA!

We headed from Cupertino to the Ferry Building in SF where our wine tour car would be picking us up. I booked us through Platypus Wine Tours again since it was such a phenomenal experience the first time around with Kelsey (and it’s very reasonably priced).

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The tour bus was scheduled to pick us up in front of the Ferry Building at 8:45 am, and we had about twenty minutes to spare after grabbing our Ferry tickets for the trip back…so naturally we had to grab some pics!

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When it was time to load up the car, we found ourselves surrounded by about 8 other people from all over the world- Denmark, France, Canada… It was fun to get to know them all throughout the trip. That’s something I so love about San Francisco- you meet people from truly everywhere and anywhere with the most fascinating lives and stories.

First stop first: Auburn James.

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This was a unlike any other winery experience we’ve had before. The whole tasting room vibe was supposed to make you feel like you were entering a home, and it really did feel like we were all just hanging out in a living room.

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We were given our tasting and then showed around the vineyards.

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The vineyards were beautiful! But it was HOT HOT HOT. Our Platypus tour guide did say they were a little bit worried about wildfires that day. I think we could have all done without that little tidbit of knowledge.. eep!

6486d0ac-f7b3-4bfa-b416-ea35be5d910f1d6c75ed-5548-4dd3-8a3f-97408f06db4a I wouldn’t say this winery is a must, but it was a lovely experience nonetheless. I think it was the most educational out of the four!

Second Stop: Hagafen. This was our favorite of the day for several reasons…

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Oh, and another bonus, they had games! We attempted a round of cornhole, but the wind kept catching our bags, so we didn’t do too hot.. meaning it was probably comical for any bystanders watching, haha.

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Before we knew it, it was lunch time! yaa buddy. They had vegetarian dishes for Hal & I. Platypus called before hand to make sure they accommodated any dietary restrictions. So kind! We enjoyed every nibble of our veggie sandwiches accompanied by hummus, pears, and a lentil salad that was to die for.

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And dessert were these sweet little strawberries and cream muffin bites.

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I’ll recap the second part of wine country in a separate post! Happy birthday again, Sista!

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Questions for you:

  • What do you call cornhole? I know it has a variety of names depending where you’re from.
  • What time of day do you prefer to workout?

xo <3

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Halston’s Bridal Shower Festivities!

Hi, All! Happy Monday to you. I am actually putting the finishing touches on this on Sunday– I have a couple posts in my drafts that I wrote before starting school. This semester is going to be a true doozy…the free time is going to be basically nil with the move & traveling for the wedding on top of it all. Sooo, I may be somewhat MIA for a few months. Although, blogging is incredibly therapeutic for me, and it gives me something to look forward to… so hopefully I can prioritize it in some way even if it is not as frequent.

Also, I published my sister’s Graduation post, but WP didn’t release it on on the main Reader for some reason. In case your interested I have it linked here 🙂

After we arrived back in Cleveland, I picked up a rental car at the airport since I would be buzzing around like a bee all weekend separate from my Mom and Pete.

My first stop was my friend Rachel’s to pick up some supplies I had shipped in for the shower. I only very briefly got to see her since I had a long to-do list, but we had plans Sunday together to look forward to.

Next up was Staples (do you believe it? hehe). I ordered the bridal shower sign for pick-up in OH while I was sitting in CA, which was a bit odd, but it went off without a hitch. I walked in and was able to pick it right up!

Right after, I went about a half mile down the road to Aldi. A few of you know I was obsessed with Aldi when I lived in Indiana. I have missed it, and I can’t tell ya how stoked I was to return! I had to pick up all the groceries for the shower and this was the best and most affordable way to do it.

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I put my quarter in the slot (Thanks, Pete! He lent me a quarter because I realized I didn’t have one on me before we left the rental car lot) and was off to get my groceries. I got tons of fruit, veggies, chips, salsa, etc. etc. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t just casually grocery shopping for DJ and me. There was way more I could have bought if I was actually loading up on a regular food haul!

I spent the evening with one of my best friend’s, Clair, and her beautiful little family. She has the sweetest little boy, Jacob, and a newborn angel named Layla.

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I mean- can you handle his cuteness?! I already miss him oh so much. I spent probably half of my time there playing tag with him around the dining room table, haha.

I food prepped all evening while we gabbed away. I relish my time with her & I’m just so proud of her and the beautiful life she has built.

In the morning around 7:00 am we went to Planet Fitness. I had a great run & did a little weight workout. Perfect start to the day. The vibe at Planet Fitness is really great. If you are looking for a gym membership, their’s is super affordable & the whole experience genuinely makes you wanna go to the gym!

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While driving to my brother’s house to set up (My sister-in-law and bro graciously lended their home for the shower!), I got a gosh darn speeding ticket. My first ever. I was soo upset. I was going a teeeny bit fast, but I was A. in a rental car and B. going down hill on C. An open country road (where the speed limit was way lower than I thought) when I was clocked. Also, the officer was driving when they clocked me with the radar- I have never heard of that, but I guess they can do that? I thought they had to be stationary. Anyways, I know I deserved a ticket- I know there are truly no excuses- but it definitely set back my timeline and is an annoying expense. HUM-BUG.

Now putting that ticket out of mind, onto allll the good stuff 🙂 Once I finally arrived I had to get into set up mode fast. I unloaded my separate suitcase filled with decorations that I checked on my flight and got to work.

First up, the “Staples” sign! The download from Etsy was only $5, so I only had to pay for the printing and foam board.

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Then I set up decor around the home with my sweet niece and nephew helping me out. I wish I could have spent more time with them directly that weekend, but the little time I did get to see them was treasured <3

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And now, the fooooood!!!! First up, an anchor with the veggies…

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A palm tree with fruit….

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And since it was Cinco de Mayo, we had to add a little Mexican flair! My mom made her famous corn and avocado salad and we served them in little margarita cups I ordered from Oriental Trading company.

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I was going to make Taco pizza from scratch, but I was pretty exhausted Saturday and on top of everything else to prep, I figured an ordered pizza would probably turn out better anyways! I found a place a quarter mile away, called A Slice Above, that delivered a pizza called “South of the Border”— (perfect for the 5th!)–it included Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese with diced onions, green peppers, black olives, and seasoned ground beef, all covered with a zesty salsa sauce. They had a vegetarian option I opted for too. Since the shower started at 1 pm, I had them delivered at 12:30 and just hid the boxes 😉

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My mom also made some absolutely scrumptious crab nachos!!! A couple of her good friends came to help with food setup too- sooo appreciated!

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Oh, and you can’t forget sweets 🙂 The little blue and white sour circles reminded me of life rafts (and sour gummy candy is my sister’s favorite). I also included cookie sandwiches, raspberry cheesecake bites, Hersey kisses, and cake pops. I ordered the cake pops from Etsy- they were delivered to my SIL’s house a couple days before the shower & were in perfect shape. Everyone raved about how good they were too (they were red velvet- one of my sister’s favorite flavors). I tried to stick to her colors of nautical blue and I thought the gold dusted ones looked like sand.

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For drinks my mom made her famous margaritas in two different flavors & we also had Virgin margaritas, diet coke, coke, and water.

All the guests started arriving! We chit-chatted and caught up with people we hadn’t seen in years! After, we all ate lots of food & then sat around to open up gifts! Kate, our niece, was adamant that she wanted to help open the gifts with Hal. Too cute– although we did have to make sure she didn’t cut herself on any pizza cutters! We played bridal bingo and a true/false game about her and Kevin (her fiancé). The games went really well! I chose not to do the charades because we spent a good chunk of time mingling (just as I was hoping 🙂 ). We had one tie with the true/false game, so I was glad I packed an extra gift bag !

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Everyone watching Hal open her gifts!

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After the gift opening we made sure to grab some pics. Can’t believe my baby Sis is getting married. So happy for her. I could not think of anyone more perfect for her either! PS. I threw a color on for the shower. Are you proud? In the Bay area we only really wear neutrals, so going back to the Midwest I figured I’d spice it up a bit..

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And I just loveee this picture of my Aunt, Sister, and Grandma.

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Sistas sistas!! This is my sister Andrea on the far right. I’ve mentioned her several times on the blog before, but she lives in Colorado so I don’t see her often. I call her my therapist because she’s so wise & we always have the best of “life” chats. That day, she helped me a tremendous amount. I don’t think everything would have been ready on time without her.

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We also couldn’t help but snag a quick selfie with one of my little sis by proxy (and also a bridesmaid!), Marissa. She is moving to NorCal in June! I wish we were staying, but since Hal is visiting in June hopefully the three of us can hangout more then too 🙂

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My Dad’s side of the family <3 Well, females anyway 🙂

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After everyone left we said our goodbyes, and I took some leftover pizza, veggies, and fruit back to Clair’s. Rach joined us!!! She brought my all time favorite dessert from back in OH- Gasoline Alley’s Carrot Cake (I mentioned a couple posts ago!). It was as stinkin’ delicious as ever!

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It was also so good to have some girl time. We all have been friends since sixth grade & it’s so easy to pick back up where we left off always.

Oh, and of course I had to include a picture of sweet Layla. I keep joking I might steal her. But am I joking? Be stillll my heart.

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My flight on the 6th was at 6 pm, so I had some time in the morning to sleep in, relax and get ready to go! I did run along the beautiful country roads before kicking it into pack-up mode.

Clair lives right next to horses. I felt so at home, since we lived somewhere similar when I lived there. Going back there grounds me, reminds me of what’s important in life & to find joy in the little things.

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O-H-…..!

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Once returning from my run I nibbled on some yogurt, fruit, and granola… and had two hefty cups of coffee to fuel up for my travel day!

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After returning my rental car, I flew out of CLE Hopkins with allll my snacks for the evening in tow.

Here is a small fraction of what I nibbled on on my flights. The combo of the cranberry almond KIND bar and greek yogurt was oh so satisfyin’!

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Aaand with that I landed back in CA late in the evening (around 11:30 pm). DJ picked me up & I was just elated to see him! I started missing OH as soon as I stepped down, but was happy to be back. We talk all the time how we think we’ll end up back there someday. I would bet we do one more move after Austin and then end up settling in OH. Just a prediction, of course will be determined greatly by DJ’s job, but we shall seeee!

Questions for you:

  • Favorite travel snacks?
  • Can y’all believe it’s almost SUMMER- where is this year going? Any vacation plans coming up?

xo <3

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Halston’s Graduation!

I am so excited to share this post!! A couple weekends ago, my baby sister, Halston, graduated from University of Cincinnati & I was so thankful I was able to watch her walk across the stage!!

Starting from the beginning…

On May 2nd, I ran six-ish miles before heading to the airport at 10 am to fly into OH for her graduation and also her bridal shower. DJ had to work all weekend, unfortunately, so couldn’t come along. He was missed somethin’ fierce <3 Anyway- I packed all my food for the travel day so I wouldn’t have to pay the exorbitant prices at the terminal. Since realizing you can take real food through security, it has been such a game changer! I just use my insulated lunch box and load it up with all the noms. Occasionally I do get stopped through security with it, but they always give the green light once they know what it is.

My go-to for the travels is a sweet potato, black bean burger, hummus, Fage, and whatever veggies might go bad that I can roast up and then throw in.

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They also had a See’s Candy kiosk that you know I could not resist. I also didn’t know what flavor I’d be in the mood later, so I just decided to get one of each (totally justified buying these since I packed the rest of my food). 😉

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On the plane itself I got hungry again so ate a Fage yogurt with PB2 (my neighbors were so confused what powdery substance I was pouring in there, haha). It is super high in protein so helps keep me full for a couple hours. I also nibbled on some popcorn and protein bars as well as raw veggies I had packed later on in the trip.

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I had a layover in Chicago (got delayed by about an hour as we always do there), and then finally arrived in Cincy around 9:30 pm. My mom picked up me and Pete- who arrived exact same time I did since he was delayed too- (love when that works out) & we headed to the cutest little Airbnb. Even after the long day of travel, I felt so wired. No matter what, I can never sleep the first night I change time zones. I read my book most of the night while occasionally thinking just mayyyybe I could fall asleep, but then 20 mins later of trying to snooze I’d just started reading again. I think I finally fell asleep around 6:30 am and maybe got an hour or hour and half of sleep total. Hello, insomnia. When I was in India I don’t think I slept for three days straight- time change and jet lag just really messes me the heck up.

On the morning of May 3rd, my mom so kindly went out and got us all coffee (BLESS HER). And y’allll this joe from Deeper Roots Coffee (a non for profit coffee company), was one of the best cafe au laits I’ve ever had. You know that super smooth first sip that just hits your soul? Every sip of this was just like that 😍 After chugging that down I felt like I was ready to face the day!

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Here is me, the beautiful smarty pants, and my momma! We got a picture before the humidity attacked. (And man did it attack! Lol).

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Aaaand guess where we were able to go to breakfast before graduation?! First Watch!!! This was my favorite breakfast spot before moving to CA, and I stinkin’ miss it! I was stoked when Hal suggested we go. Also, we saw this sign driving in– best billboard ever!

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We deemed it our Mother’s Day brunch since we wouldn’t be able to celebrate on the day of. We have grown so flexible with holidays over the years and it’s become fun to celebrate on our own watch! When you don’t have expectations, you can’t become frustrated- so we never set expectations and learn to “be like Gumby” as my mom has always reminded us growing up. The idea is to go with the flow when you can’t control things or make them fit into a certain peg & you’ll avoid a lot of frustration. The best of memories sometimes come in spontaneity and the originality of an experience (such as celebrating holidays on “non” holiday days 😉 ).

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Coming out of my contemplative dialogue- I see First Watch has added dairy free creamer! That’s fun!

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The boys split a platter of their million dollar bacon. I couldn’t help but capture the beautifully plated strips.

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Although the menu has an abundance of new items I would like to try, my stomach was off from the lack of sleep and travel, so I stuck to my tri-ed and true Tri-athlete–It hit the spot! Next time I’m orderin’ their salmon tzatziki toast and lemon blueberry quinoa pancakes. For now, I’ll continue to live through Kori’s awesome pics of her visits. Although, they do have them in Austin which makes me oh so happy!

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The graduation was held at Fifth Third Arena. I have never been to a graduation this massive before! Ha, I say that like going to graduations is like going to the movies. I’ve only been to maybe three other graduations in my life.

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We had a hard time finding a place, but Kevin, her fiancé, scoped out the room and found us the best seats in the house.

There were soo many graduates! There is truly something about the energy at a graduation that is thick with emotion, pride and hope. It’s like an inspiring, nostalgic, and bittersweet electric current is rippling through the entire room.

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Ahhh here she comes!!! You can easily spot her with her colorful sash for Latinos en acción.

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Cue the tears- no seriously, I’m tearing up again writing this, hah.. I’m soooooo stinking proud of her.

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She elegantly walked across the stage and didn’t fall! Woohoo! Go Sis!

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After we walked around the campus for pics. I love her cap- it totally embodies what she is all about. Oh, and for those wondering she graduated with two majors (NBD!)- International Business and Finance-and a minor in Spanish. She also got a full ride for law school and aspires become an immigration lawyer. Yes, she is a bossss lady, and I am ecstatic to see the way she continues to change lives in the best way.

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^^ The gorgeous couple! Gosh, I love um’!

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^The fam bam.

After we went to celebrate at Halston’s Favorite restaurant- The Cheesecake Factory! Ya can never have a bad meal here. The rest of Kevin’s family joined us too!

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My mom and I split their beet and avocado salad with glazed beets, avocado, fresh orange, arugula, and honey yogurt sauce and their salmon. Both were so scrumptious- the beet & avocado in particular was just such a lovely conglomeration of flavors. I wanna try to make this at home sometime!

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They even brought Hal her cheesecake with a “Congrats” on it. So sweet! We all enjoyed bites of various cheesecakes before heading out.

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On our way out we spotted this Cincinnati Bearcat and of course had to get a pic with Hal next to it!

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The whole familyyy! (Minus Deej). My hair was flat-out done by this point- flat being the operative word, haha.

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We all went back to the AirBnb and sat around the fire while listening to fascinating stories from Kevin’s parents from living in Peru, discussed the upcoming wedding,  laughed a lot, and even learned Bachata (a type of dance) from Kevin’s mom. I gotta practice a bit more before the wedding !

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That evening I slept so much better than the one before. I fell asleep listening to the audiobook of Where The Crawdads Sing. I love it so far!

In the morning of May 4th I went for a nice run around the area of Hyde Park. It was one of those runs that I think will stay with me. So much joy and excitement surrounded this weekend, and that run cemented those adrenaline filled emotions into my memory. The area was captivating and picturesque too. I especially adored the way the morning dew drops clung to these purple blooms.

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I had to stop several times to take in the seemingly illustrious home fronts and historic schools.

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Once we all returned and got ready for the day we were ready for some coffee & breakfast. We walked across the street to The BonBonerie Cafe- the cutest little french cafe I ever did see! They have a garden entrance for their main cafe and also an adjacent bakery. We had to stop in both, naturally.

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