Last Day in Texas- Part 3!

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

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Everything in this coffee shop is so cute.

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They have tons of vegan and gluten free options too!

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

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

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

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Jadie lounging around..

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

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

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

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This place was adorable.

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We even found some Harry Potter frogs & wands!!

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

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

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

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

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Pete had the Ozark turtle

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

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

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

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DJ had their country fried steak

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

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The flight back was great- easy peasy!

Questions for you:

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

xo <3

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Our Texas Christmas- Part 2!

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

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

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

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

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

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Dinner time! We had roasted green beans & potatoes…

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Dinner rolls.. (a must)..

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Wild rice…

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Roasted butternut squash & craisins…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions for you:

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

xo <3

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Our Cleveland Christmas!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I have so missed them all.

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

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

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

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Cuties <3 They always melt my heart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Game Time!

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We lost, but it was an unforgettable experience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions for you!

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

xo <3

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Magic Kingdom & Vacation Wrap Up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We even witnessed a beautiful fireworks display.

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

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

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Cinderella’s castle!!

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

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

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

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After this we headed over to the Haunted Mansion ride.

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On the way we saw the big parade!

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*cue the spooky sounds- ooooOOoooOoooOOOooo*

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

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

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They even had a vegan sloppy joe. Score.

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

We perused the park a bit more before heading back.

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

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There is an endless amount of activities for all ages.

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

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

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

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

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

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Two orders of meatballs for the table!

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

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

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

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

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

Question for you:

  • What is an item on your food bucket list?

xo <3

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Epcot!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hence, a stop in Norway was absolutely mandatory.

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

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

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

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China time!

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

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

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Can you guess where next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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we had to try a delicious crepe, duhhh!

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And this brings us back to the United Kingdom!

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

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

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

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

Question for you:

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

xo <3

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Animal Kingdom!

Hey hey!!! I was putting this post together and realized it was basically 99% food pics per usual. I shook my head and thought to myself, “ya dun it again, kid”. I guess food is just too darn photogenic, but I’ll fill in the gaps with words (also per usual) haha. Y’all have your snacks ready? Let’s gooo!

After wizarding our way through Harry Potter World we passed through Jurassic Park and The Comic Book Land to ride the Hulk Ride (what a blast!) & then went back to the hotel. We were all pretty tired and chilled to the bone after the cool day. We decided to order takeout from a hotel restaurant and stay in the cozy community room to play CodeNames with the whole gang. If you guys haven’t played this game, ya need to! It’s soo much fun and perfect to whip out with the family for the holidays (or anytime).

For our meals we ordered from Todd English’s Blue Zoo (located within the hotel). I had the Blackened Florida Grouper and da-da-dannng was it ever delicious. It came with black eyed pea puree, polenta “johnny” cake, jumbo lump crab meat, and creole cream. Every bite was heaven.

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DJ had the lobster carbonara. Obvi, it was good. I mean it has “lobster” and “carbonara” in its name after all. Can’t go wrong with that!

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After several rounds of seriously our new favorite game ever, we called it a night. I definitely slept more that night than the one before! On December 6th I woke up at 6:45 am (3:45 my time… oy vey!) to study & get my training run in for the day. It was worth it though when followed by a stellar breakfast (and lots and lots of coffee). We had a hotel breakfast with my mom-in-law and stepdad in law, Gordie, before meeting up with the rest of the group. This breakfast had so many nomz!!! Here is a little roundup.

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Gosh, this breakfast was sooo tasty & fresh & delicious. Mmmm! I love the combo of a muffin, fruit, yogurt, and granola.

Time for Animal Kingdom!

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Immediately after going through the entrance we were greeted by a walking tree. Only in Disney!

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And thennn we were greeted by the tree of life!

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We first went to Dinoland to ride the Dinosaur ride. Too fun!

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Then we headed in the direction of Expedition Everest. This may have been the ride I was most excited for yet.

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SOOO. much. fun! Also that kids face in the back….poor thing doesn’t know what he got himself into. hahah.

We walked around a bit more and had lunch at the Tusker House Cafe.

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This buffet had alll the goodies- there was something for everyone! I loved every bite, but their hummus was particularly yummy!

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Time for the Safari ride. Buckle up!

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This guy below is definitely my Monday mood.

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I was amazed at how close we were able to get to the animals.

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It’s a real life Lion King!!! Naaaaaaants ingonyama bagithi baba

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The whole fam in front of the tree of life 🙂 <3 Just love this group so much.

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PANDORA TIME! I love love loveeed the movie Avatar when I saw it for the first time. I remember watching it when I was in high school.. I was home on a weekend recovering from being sick and just got lost in the beautiful world while lying on the couch like a log. I was awestruck by this recreation of Pandora at Disney. My pictures do not even come close to doing any type of justice. It’s just one of those things y’all will have to see for yourselves 😉 Blogger meet up in Disney?!

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Below are some epic adult beverages you can grab at the stand Pongu Pongu in Pandora. They have boba right on top. On your left is the Rum Blossom and on the right is the Mo’ara Margarita. Mmmm!

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*PS. Thank you to the fam for being so patient and helpful ( and for being hand models) through the trip*

Time to head to the Avatar Flight of Passage. ok….WOAH. Where do I find the words?! This is easily one of the coolest VR rides ever ever ever. I didn’t know this type of technology existed?!?! If you go to Animal Kingdom you HAVE to ride this ride. Definitely get the fast past though, because the regular line is crazyyy long (rightfully so). This and Tower of Terror were probably my two favorite rides from the week. Although Escape from Gringotts was up there too.

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After going back to the hotel we got dressed up then went to Shula’s within the hotel for dinner to celebrate DJ’s sister, Renee’s, birthday! I love that her birthday fell during the trip- we rarely get to see her with all our crazy schedules, nonetheless on her birthday, so the fact that we could celebrate ALL together was very special <3

We started off with warm, fluffy, perfect bread… *insert drool face* good lawd. That bread… I will dream of it for all of my days…

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For an appetizer DJ and I split the seafood trio of shrimp cocktail, crab meat, and lobster tail served with a trio of sauces. My mouth is watering all over again!

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For my main, I had maybe the most delicious scallops I have ever tasted..

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DJ’s steak… (once again, probably needs no description 😉 ).

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And sides that will blow your socks off!! Crab mac and cheese.. me oh my was this ever good! Holy moly, I could have ate that as my meal alone!

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& Some scrumptious asparagus..

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Dessert was a chocolate souffle DJ and I split. 2018 has been the year of souffles—savory, sweet, and pancaked! If it’s on the menu, we basically have to try it. We compared this to Cafe Jacqueline– yes .. that good!

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Picture is a bit pixelated since I stole it from the good ole’ f-book, but ya get the idea 😉

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We slept so well that night after such a phenomenal meal. In the morning, DJ and I snuck in a run then grabbed some coffee from Fuel downstairs in the lobby. That coffee touched my very souuul. No no, that statement is not dramatic at all.

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DJ enjoyed a ham and cheese sandwich, and I had some leftover breakfast from the day before- fruit, granola, and yogurt.

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Next we go to Epcot!!! Wooohoo!! I probs should edit this post, but I’m too excited to share.. so we’ll just post it with all errors and whatnot, k?!

Question for you:

  • Favorite Disney movie of all time?

xo <3

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Harry Potter World!!! (mostly)

Okay all, hold on tight to the Portkey, as I am transporting us Muggles to Harry Potter world today! (and finishing up the rest of our time in Universal).

We left off in “San Francisco”. A bit past SF you will see King’s Cross– the first hint of our entrance into the fantasy land! There are a few little Harry Potter references in a crossway that leads to other side of Universal. If you directly cross through King’s Cross you will end up in HP land.

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Knight Bus, anyone?!

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I am forever convinced this is the creepiest creation below in all of HP… even above the noseless He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named.

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Before exploring HP land through King’s Cross, we decided to first explore that side of Universal Studios. We entered into Krustyland- a Simpsons Fan’s dream. I have never watched an episode of the Simpsons, but it was still fun!

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For lunch we had Moe’s, which is a big cafeteria providing many options that are odes to Simpson’s food. (sorry to all the innocent bystanders that I captured in my photos- whoops)

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I was still able to sniff out a vegetarian option. I had some hummus and pita with a veggie sandwich that was tasty & filling. I did notice that nearly everywhere we went in Universal Studios and Disney had accommodating options for people who don’t eat meat.

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But most would opt for their delectable burgers & curly fries! This is the “Clogger Burger” below. That name…. hahah.

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The big group of us also all had a try of the Lard Lad Donut!

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It was so yummy! Even better than I expected. Mmm ! I thought it would taste like straight sugar, but it actually had great flavor that came through too.

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Okay, zipping back to King’s Cross — crossing through we entered into Diagon Alley.  Even if you are an expert in Harry Potter I think it’d be impossible to absorb all the details. It’s ah-may-zing.

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First things first! Gotta grab a wand 😉 If you buy an interactive wand, you are given a map that leads you to place in the park where you can use your wand to “cast spells”, marked by a circle symbol on the ground that you step on, with a pattern for how to use your wand to activate the “spell”.

Each wand corresponds with a character from the series. Can you guess whose is whose?

img_4536-2img_4538-2img_4539-2img_4537-2img_4589img_4588img_4590img_4593facetune_14-12-2018-10-35-14Originally we all grabbed our character wands (Amy and I chose Hermione), but then we realized you could trade it in for personalized wand at Olivander’s. Basically they take your birthday and tell you what wand is specific for you. For my January birthday, I received the  “Birch” wand!

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Below is one of the spots you can use your wand I was describing earlier. In this one you can control the eyeballs. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write? haha.

Next, we rode the new Gringott’s ride which was just insanely incredible, easily one of my favorite rides we did the whole day. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Virtual reality + roller coaster= mind blowing experience. Wow oh wow- Did I mention I loved that ride?!

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Time to finally try a Butterbeer!

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The gang with our wands and butterbeers 🙂

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They were SO gooooood! It is like a cream soda, but thicker. it’s very very sweet, and typically I don’t like any drinks too sweet- but gosh, I loved that. It almost had that root beer float type of creaminess. There is actually no alcohol in Butterbeer despite the name, so it is safe for kiddos & trust me- they’ll love it!

Below is a building that you can turn the lights on and off with your interactive wand.

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Time to enter Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes!

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In order to get to the second part of HP world, you have to take it Hogwart’s Express to get to the second part of the park. But first- you have to run through platform 9 3/4, of course. 

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All aboard!! We shuffled into a cabin that perfectly resembled the ones in the movies. There is a screen that has passing images of rolling hills, a simulated invasion of dementors, and finally your arrival to Hogwarts. Too cool.

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We heeeereee! This is the Hogsmeade portion of the park.

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Breathtaking.

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It was really chilly that day, so it added to the real feel of the fake snow on the rooftops.

HoneyDukes was one of the “must-visits” for the day…

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It did not disappoint! I was blown away by everything you could try that was straight from the books. Anyone brave enough to try the Bertie Bott’s Beans?

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I opted for a chocolate frog. I mean you havee to get a chocolate frog, right? Next time I’ll be trying the pumpkin pasty. That is something in the book that always sounds so delicious too.

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It was wonderful milk chocolate! I am not even a fan of plain milk chocolate usually (I prefer dark), but this was lovely & smooth.

Oh, and you get a trading card just like they do in the books. I received Bertie Bott!

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Last, but not least, we saw THE Hogwarts. There is a ride called The Forbidden Journey inside the castle we rode too- it was a blast, but Gringotts still has it beat. Better just do both to be sure 😉 I was just wowed by the attention to detail, the magnitude, and again, the total immersion of the experience.

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Okayy, I’m off to finish up The Order of the Phoenix now! Have a magical weekend, my friends 🙂

Questions for you:

  • What is your favorite Christmas movie?
  • Anything fun happenin’ this weekend in your world?

xo <3

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Travelin’ & Universal Studios Part 1

Hey heyyy!! Oh man, am I ever excited to share this trip with you all! I have taken a few days to even get this post out because I wanted to get my final exam done before any blogging. I finished up my semester yesterday & all went very well 🙂 One step closer to that Doctorate degree!! So let’s jump right in because we have got a lot of ground to cover (I mean quite literally, these parks are MASSIVE!! So glad I brought my walking shoes ;)). This will take several parts, no doubt. This vacation was with DJ’s side of the fam to celebrate many birthdays (including Mickey’s 90th, of course) and to just all be together in one place. We rarely can get everyone together for a few hours, nonetheless a few days! This was such a treat and truly a vacation of a lifetime. And before I start I have to shoutout my Mom-in-law for planning this absolutely spectacular vacation & making it all possible!

Back to the beginning…in the evening of December 3rd I meal prepped a bit for the plane. I can’t go a few hours without having a snack, but buying snacks at the airport is pricy. So I made overnight pumpkin oats with cranberries and yogurt and a salad with protein crumbles & hummus. I also had grapes and apples and protein bars to munch on.

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I put everything in my Pack It lunch box in my carry on. It keeps it nice and cool the whole flight since there are built in ice packs!

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After getting through security, you know the first place I went (even though it was in the opposite direction of our gate, hehe)…

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Breakfast & study time!

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On the plane I studied a majority of the plane ride, enjoyed my salad & protein bar, and sipped on some seltzer water.

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We arrived in Orlando in the evening around 5:30 pm, and headed directly to the Walt Disney Dolphin Resort to meet up with the family. This hotel lobby is just breath-takingly stunning, but also fun & exotic!

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After getting the family all together we headed to The Boathouse.

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If you are going to the Boathouse for dinner a reservation is a must!! This is a popular spot and rightfully so. The decor from the moment you step in is exactly what you would anticipate- fish, boats, netting.. it is a sundry of all things nautical!

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They have some awesome unique drinks too- even their lemon drop martini is served with a rock candy stick.

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They started us with some melt in your mouth rolls- so good!

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For the table we shared a couple rounds of oysters- some Rockefeller and some regular.

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I had never had Rockefeller oysters before- and although they had bacon in them I tried a little nibble of just the creamed spinach and oyster, and it was an explosion of flavor. The regular oysters were the definition of “fresh”.. mmm mmm!

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I ordered the cedar plank salmon for my main dish & DJ had the Maine Lobster and pasta skillet- holy maloly it was all so scrumptious! I would recommend the pasta skillet over the salmon though!

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^^ Perfection.

& The decadently delicious desserts all around…

Key lime pie in a Mason Jar

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Macadamia Turtle Pie

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Double Chocolate Bundt Cake

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I probably don’t need to explain how good those are, huh?

Walking back to the hotel we passed some beautiful Christmas decor lit up in the evening. It was wonderful catching up with everyone & just chatting the night away. I kept feeling like I needed to squeeze everything into one conversation, but then remembered we still had several days ahead of us to chat and hang out!

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Despite getting up so early, I was not tired one bit. It was technically only about 7 pm Pacific time once we returned, so I decided to go run to wind down from the traveling day. I actually was able to get my studying done that I had planned for the next day, so that felt productive!

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I loved the workout room- they had a separate smaller room where you could choose HITT routine programs, and they even had a punching bag.

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Time to hit the hay! I actually couldn’t fall asleep until about 5 or 6 am, and we woke up around 7.. hence, the sleep was very minimal that evening. Jet lag always throws me off no matter how tired I am. When I went to India I couldn’t sleep for over 48 hours straight (and melatonin does nuthin’ for it for some reason!).

Anywho- this was a gorgeous view to wake up to!

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I grabbed my protein bar and headed downstairs with DJ to get some coffee before heading out for the day’s festivities!

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There was a little place in the lobby called “fuel” that had just anything and everything you could want food/drink wise. Their coffee shop was SO good. I loved the cafe au lait I had there.

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I paired it with my No Cow bar in the morning to get a protein boost before getting the day started.

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Time to head to Universal Studios!

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We rode a bunch of rides to start out the day- the Minion Ride (such an insanely fun virtual reality ride!), Rock It Hollywood Rollercoaster, & the Shrek Virtual Reality ride. I was blown away by the detail, high technology, and deep immersion of it all.

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For a little pick me up, I grabbed a cup of jo at Boulangerie.

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This place was super cute, but their coffee was awfully bitter!

We continued along in the park and passed another mammoth Christmas tree.

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We were so taken aback when we saw this sign below. There is actually a faux “San Francisco” in Universal Studios. We laughed saying we traveled across the country just to end back up in San Francisco.

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They recreated notable spots in SF pretty darn well!

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I mean there was even a “Ghirardelli Square”.. too funny

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And it was located right on the water- how perfect.

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I’ll end here. In the next post we head to Harry Potter World (eeeek!!!!!!). It was a day to remember, I’ll tell ya that much! Can’t wait to share. But for now I will leave us in San Francisco… And you thought you were getting a travelin’ post, eh? 😉

Question for you:

  • Highlight of your week so far?

xo <3

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Marin Headlands Hiking & Home Cafe!

We are just zoooming right along! My type-A side is very bothered that my recaps are not in the present time just yet, but we are almost there!!

Thursday September 13th I woke up and made the Ezekiel bread again with nuts and dried fruit.

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I went for a run and still spotted some new blooms.

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I then drove to the Post Office to drop off some Poshmark sales! woot woot!

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I worked on schoolwork at Peet’s all day (with my packed lunch- I literally have a full spread of my snacks on “my” counter there, make myself right at home) then headed back home. I had my massive salad again for dinner (I get on kicks) and made DJ some beef tacos.

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Nearly every evening this past couple weeks we have watched an episode or two of Dexter before bed- SO good!

And whaddya know- Friday September 14th I had Ezekiel bread again with chopped walnuts and craisins.

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I snuck in a nice run then spent the rest of the day working on school work- at Peets ‘magine that?

Jus me and Peety for the day

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In the evening I had a nice chunk of time to blog, which was nice. After eating leftovers, DJ and I watched Dexter for the rest of the evening. Such a restful Friday! Since we aren’t planning many events right now it’s been nice having free weekends to just hangout at home. I suffer from serious FOMO but am discovering how relaxing it is to have an uncluttered schedule on the occasional weekend.

Saturday the 15th I woke up around 7, ate some avocado on rice cake and then headed to SF to hike with Amy and my fur-nephew, Pool Noodle!

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Driving into the city the sky was so crystal clear! This is a rarity and the views were just breathtaking.

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We decided to meet at Marin Headlands- a place on the ole’ Bucket List.

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The fog started rolling in as we did our hike, but it didn’t take away from the stunning views.

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Pool Noodle <3

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Can ya’ stand the cuteness?

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He’s so photogenic

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After the fact, we went to Home Cafe to have some nice lattes and treats! Home is alsooooo on the Bucket List. I hope you don’t take a shot every time I mention that thing. It literally drives our plans anytime we go into the city.

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I’ve had Home on my radar for a while because they make the prettiest latte art and serve up some one-of-a-kind toast! Check out the menu… I need to go back and just try one of each!

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Amy tried out their scrumptious Bravo toast

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I was still pretty full from a protein bar I had before our hike, so I just tried one of their Japanese Mochi donuts. It was okay- nothing to write home about, but still a nice accompaniment with the coffee!

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Amy had their cookie monster latte- I had a sip- and let me tell you- maybe one of the tastiest sweet lattes I have ever sipped!!! It was divine. Tastes like you are straight up drinking a chocolate chip cookie (but in the best way!).

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I had their birthday cake latte, and it was ever so satisfying!!! I highly recommend this too. Also, you can taste how high quality the espresso is, yum!

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In the afternoon in Cupertino, it was such a gorgeous day I decided to listen to podcasts and take a walk since I was almost all caught up on school assignments. I have a new podcast I’m obsessed with- that I shared in my recent Friyay Faves– Dr. Death. The rest of the day was basically tying up loose ends with assignments for the week.

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In the evening, I made Deej chicken tacos & I had my big salad, yes again. I start to crave this thing! I will get sick of it soon, but I am deep in my salad kick.

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On Sunday the 16th, DJ and I went to church then DJ went to work the Almaden Valley Art & Wine Festival. I just worked on laundry, cleaning, dishes, fill in groceries through the day, etc.

When he returned later in the afternoon, he had a big box with him that had a ribbon. I was so excited he let me open it, haha. It was from the festival thanking the Giants for making an appearance there- they gave us a big bottle of nice Merlot, a beer glass, and a wine glass! It’s Christmas y’all! Savings September karma!

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In the evening, I tried a glass of the delicious wine while we watched Dexter and then Monday it was back to the grind. Hut hut!

I will save this week’s recap for next time 🙂

xo <3

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Sears Fine Food & The Wave Organ!

Let’s just drive right in- shall we?!

Sunday September 9th, DJ and I woke up early, had breakfast, and headed to SF to go to Church with his twin sister, and my SIL Amy!

Before leaving I had avocado “toast”, but we were out of bread… so in light of Savings September I used leftover rice cakes that have been sitting in the pantry.

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We went to the 9:30 service at our SF location, then after went to a bucket list place- Sears Fine Food!

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This place is located right across the street from the Sir Francis Drake hotel where Kels and I stayed when she visited. I have had my eye on this gem for a while- especially because they have famous Swedish pancakes.

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I lol-ed when I saw this written on the menu under Melons “We thump each and every one” haha. I just thought it was funny they included it.

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DJ got the eighteen (yes, eighteen!) pancakes so we all could try a couple. They were sooo good, you guys. We agreed they are probably the best pancakes we’ve had in the Bay so far (especially with the lingonberry jam on them- holy cannoli guaca-freaking-mole).

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Amy and I both had omelettes!

img_4326I even think the omelette and hash-browns were some of the tastiest I have had in the Bay. I usually don’t frequent a place twice because there is such a wealth of restaurants to try out- but I would go here again in a heartbeat. I think this might be my #1 breakfast spot I’d recommend to people visiting the City!

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Even the wait staff was super friendly. They brought Amy and I coins to use in their slot machine on the way out.

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We didn’t win anything- but it was so fun, and reminded me of when I was a child and would ask my Dad or Mom for quarters to play the “claw” game at some family owned ma-and-pa joints back in the midwest.

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We decided we still had a tiny bit of time left after to knock out one more thing on the list! We headed toward the golden gate and Crissy Fields area to see the Wave Organ.

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The organ is built into the jetty and in the water. It makes music with the waves. We didn’t hear anything when we were there, but it may be because we weren’t there at high tide.

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Still pretty cool to see!

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Love this picture of DJ and Amy

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In the afternoon, I went on a nice long run outside before buckling down to do school work for the evening.

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On Monday September 10th, I received a whole new round of assignments for the week. You know what this calls for? Peets!

I woke up early, walked on the treadmill as I read my chapters and then walked to Peets to gear down and watch lectures.

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I packed some snacks to take along like a no cow bar and a yogurt and then at about 4 pm in the afternoon headed home.

I went for a nice walk to clear my head then made dinner.

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In the morning of September 11th, I had Fage yogurt and frozen grapes to start the day (thank you, Kori, for this combo!). I did Insanity, then buckled down on more schoolwork.

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I had the same ole’, same ole’ snacks and food through the day, but in the evening I got a second hungry wind, craving something salty. I decided to make some sweet potato fries- they hit the spot!

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In the morning of Wednesday September 12th, I had Ezekiel bread, yogurt, raisins, and nuts with my coffee to start the day. (I found some Ezekiel bread I forgot was in the freezer! Woohoo!)

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I went for a run in the morning and saw the first signs of fall!

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Look at this beautiful lil’ guy!

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In the afternoon I got my hair did. As much as I love my bright blonde, it’s hard to keep up with. I decided to go back shorter and a more natural balayage so I can go a longer time without getting my roots touched up. Even though we are in Savings September, I consider this an investment since I won’t have to bother with my hair for a long time after this!

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When she finished it was REALLY dark. Like too dark for what I’m used to. I asked if there was anyway to brighten it up just a touch- cause I didn’t want it to be 100% brown (I have some blonde naturally).. so she washed out the color and then toned it. It was the longest I have ever been in a salon- 6 hours. SIX. I thought I was gonna pass out from hunger. Good thing I took my study materials with me.

I will post a pic soon!

It’s taking some getting used to, but DJ says he prefers it to my bright blonde, which makes me feel better <3

But like I said- I was SO hungry. I decided to make my favorite massive go-to salad: a kale blend with tomatoes, red onion, beets, peppers, multi-colored carrots, mushrooms, hummus, and a Morningstar black bean burger (slightly overcooked so it tastes like croutons 😉 ) topped off with balsamic vinegar. I literally ate massive carrots as I was making the salad and bites of a protein bar and probably some Smartfood popcorn, lol. It’s a wonder and a half that I stopped to grab a picture!

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This is getting a bit long so I’ll stop here for now before recapping the weekend 🙂

xo <3

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