ALL. THE. FUN. In Fort Worth, TX.

HEYYY YAAAA’LLLLL! This past weekend was nuthin’ but good, Texan fun. It’s actually one of those posts that I’m nervous to write because I feel like I won’t do the weekend justice! Also, fair warning that there are about a million pictures on this post- I had zilch chill when it came to the snapshots. We all know I break about every rule in the blogging book: My posts are too long, I share too many pictures, I make horrible jokes, and I ramble like a middle school girl on the phone. BUTTTTT at least I’m honest about it, right? RIGHT?!

I only find out my schedule about four weeks before, so impromptu planning has forcibly become a newly acquired skill. It worked out that I had four days off in a row, and I had to make the most of it. DJ couldn’t make it with the uncertainty of work, so he was surely missed.

I haven’t seen my mom since the marathon and my step dad, Pete, since Christmas, so I though this would be a perfect time to pay them and my fave lil’ town a visit!

Real quick: If you want to read other posts about the fort worth travels you can check it here or here!

Last Friday (8/11), I worked all day, came home, scarfed down some food and then went to the airport to catch a red eye at 1 am.

I sat down to catch up a little bit on blogging while there. I thoroughly enjoy my “me time” while traveling alone, but man oh man, I was so tired it was hard to even keep my eyes open. I hate being tired- growing up I used to say sleeping is such a waste of time, and I never have really enjoyed it. But this was one of the top five moments of exhaustion in my lifeeeee. My body was like, “whyyy must you torture me like this, go.to.sleeeeep”. Needless to say- I have never longed for or appreciate sleep so much as I do now with this nursing gig.

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I slept nearly every second on the plane ride. I didn’t even wake up for the snacks- yup, that’s how tired I was.

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I had a short layover in Houston. When I arrived in Fort Worth at 8 am on Saturday, I grabbed my suitcase from baggage claim and felt such a great excitement/relief when I saw my mom pull up. I was ecstatic to see her, and also pretty darn excited to find a real live bed with a pillow instead of an airplane tray table. As soon as we arrived, I exchanged a hug with Pete and cuddles with my puppy.

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I decided to take a “quick nap”. I ended up sleeping until one. I never do that. It reminded me of the days of coming back from nursing school and zonking out for hours on end. There is just something about being at your parent’s house that you feel like you can actually relax 100%.

Once I woke up, we went to The Keller Pointe– the local workout facility.

After working out, my mom and I chatted in the hottub (It’s actually so nice after those workout chills set in!)

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And of course, what’s a mother daughter hangout without some sushi!

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We then got ready for our family night out!!

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Dallas/Ft. Worth was having it’s BIG restaurant week! It’d be a crime if we didn’t attend as self-proclaimed foodies. During restaurant week different restaurants create a menu that usually has a three or four course meal with a flat rate, which is way more reasonable than what you would typically spend. You get to sample several options from the menu, pair it with a wine, and get the experience for a decent price! We all haven’t been together since Christmas, so we joked that this was a combined birthday, Father’s Day, new job, and almost making it to the six month mark celebration! Any excuse to celebrate 😉

My mom blew up my e-mail with suggestions to view while waiting for my plane, which is perfect because one of my favorite past times happens to be researching the best local food spots in town. Eddie V’s caught my eye. Not only were they voted the BEST seafood restaurant in the US of A, they also are known for their wine selection– so there’s that.

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The whole restaurant was nothing but class and elegance. The description on their site describes them perfectly:

Eddie V’s charismatic vibe draws you in and holds you close, invites you to be seen, or sit back and just savor. The finest seafood and steaks. World-class wine and service. And live jazz in the V lounge. Eddie V’s can be found across the country. While each location is unique in its setting, artwork and décor, they all share an unmistakable elegance.

If you have a special occasion to celebrate and need a great night out- this is your place. They have several locations in the US- you can see if there is one near you here.

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Of course, for anywhere to be top notch, they served delicious warm bread and butter. The butter was topped with chives and paprika- I’m saving this combo for a rainy day.

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We started with the Maine Lobster Bisque. It was flame. We thought it could have used a bit more actual lobster, but it was still fantastic.

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My mom and I also split their season salad. It came with full parmasean slices and an olive brushetta marinade. It was the best compliment to the heavy lobster bisque.

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Now to get to the main course… I had the salmon with young vegetables and a mustard vinaigrette. I feel like the picture just speaks for itself. It was phenomenal.

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My mom ordered the swordfish with lemon, olive oil, sea salt, and asparagus. It was pretty simple, but absolutely fantastic. I honestly don’t know if I preferred the salmon or swordfish. Both were scrumptious beyond description. They were not lying about good seafood.

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No worries to those carnivores out there….Pete ordered the filet. It was cooked to PERFECTION.

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And just when we didn’t think the meal could get better… then we had the au gratin potatoes…. it was consensus that this was the best part of the meal. Until…

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…..we had dessert!!!!! Wow oh wow. I’m not even exaggerating when I say this was some of the most mouth-watering dessert I have ever tasted.

First, we tried the butterscotch panna cotta. This had salted caramel, walnut pralines, and biscotti. Not sure what it was about this dessert, but it was seriously some of the greatest flavor I have ever experienced. It was smooth, creamy, and full of such intensely pleasant sweetness with a light finish.

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And last, but ooooh certainly not least, we tried the Hot bananas foster butter cake: flambeed table-side and served with small batch butter pecan ice cream. It was easily the tastiest bananas foster I have ever devoured.

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On Sunday morning, we headed to church. Everyone is so friendly in Texas. It was a great service and nostalgically pleasant to attend Church together like the ole’ days!

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When we got back from Church, I downed a piece of toast with better n’ peanut butter PB & honey. We then went to Keller Pointe to workout!

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In the afternoon we went to one of our favorite places in Fort Worth, TX- the Stockyards!

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The Stockyards has a rich western history, and still to this day has the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive! People line the roads like they are getting ready for the Macy’s Day Parade.

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We didn’t actually attend the drive this time, but I’ve seen it before and it’s pretty neat!

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There is a little gem of history with every step you take, a new story to be uncovered, a piece of the past to be explored. The boutiques and locally owned shoppes are part of what I love about it most too- #shoplocal.

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My momma and I headed to Cowtown Winery to try a couple flights before heading to the premier event for the evening.

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The people next to us were so friendly and immediately struck up a conversation with us. I miss the friendliness….. In California you’re lucky if the cashier at the grocery store acknowledges your presence…. ok ok it’s not that bad, but people just keep more to themselves around here!

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And thennn for the main event of the evening….

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We hit up the nationally renowned Billy Bob’s Texas. This is basically like a right of passage if you claim to know anything about the Fort Worth area.

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This place is considered the world’s largest Honkey Tonk. Check that off my bucket list.

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It’s MASSIVE. It is truly hard to describe. There are about four bars alone in the one massive room, a ring for actual bull riding (not even a mechanical one, a real one), and an energy that fills the whole arena.

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We realized we were pretty hungry, and decided to split the portobello mushroom sandwich and sweet potato waffle fries. They were both so good. There was actually cole slaw on the sandwich, whichhh may be the best thing eva. If you go to Billy Bob’s do yourself a favor and try their sweet potato fries!

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What was this epic event occurring for the evening?! The World’s Largest Karaoke Competition! This was the finals of three rounds. It was such a memorable night- my mom and I realized we were probably the only two attending that didn’t have any personal emotional investment in any of the contestants, but we soaked up every second. The tunes were amazing, the talent was incredible, and did I mention the sweet potato fries?

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Also I had such a surreal moment where I actually put my hand in one of the actual cast members of the The Temptations. SWOON.

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When we got home, we spent time chatting in the hottub, listening to the quiet, quiet night only with the gentle soundtrack of chirping crickets and basking in the warm embrace of sleepy, nocturnal wind. That moment reminded me so much of Ohio. I needed it – especially now… just the peace and solitude, the feeling that nothing exists except the trees swaying above you, the hum of creatures in the grass, and the quiet- the utter hush and white noise of nature, a symphony in it’s own right.

I slept so deeply that night. The next day, Monday, we headed to Seven Mile Cafe– a staple brunch spot in Keller!

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They have a giant chess board outdoors… I mean… come on..

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Plus, it’s basic as me, so naturally, it drew me in…..

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The food is boss here. The service not so much, but I guess they can afford to be slow considering the food is worth the wait. Pete ordered their California burger, I ordered their create your own omelette, and momma Jill ordered their Vigas. The Vigas is hands down the thing to order!

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This is the vigas below- it has seasoned tofu scrambled with tortilla strips, jalapeños, soyrizo, onions, tomatoes, avocado, and served with black beans and a side of tortillas. It was veryyy vigalicious.

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And of course we had to finish with one of their homemade cinnamon rolls. Can’t go wrong with that!

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When we got home, my mom whipped up us iced lemonade and basil for the road! Time for the beach!

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We went to a new spot my mom had been wanting to check out- Little Elm Beach. The City of Little Elm is darling, and the fact that they have probably one of the only little beaches in the state of TX makes it a perfect getaway spot.

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Recently obsessed with La Croix- any one have a favorite flavor?! I love them all- but I think the coconut may be the best!

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We walked the beach and took a swim in the comfortably tepid water. I love swimming, but haven’t in a while. It felt tremendously refreshing to be in the water again, especially in that Texas heat!

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After we dried off a bit we went to the Little Elm Lakeside Trails to scope them out.

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They actually reminded me a bit of the trails in Ohio, ohhhhh how I miss the CVNP!

When got back from our sun & fun filled day, I whipped up my stuffed sweet potatoes for my momma to try! We devoured these suckers then headed to, sadly, the last adventure on the weekend agenda..

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PAINTING WITH A TWIST! I have wanted to do this for ages, and there was one basically right in my parent’s backyard in Keller!

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If you don’t know what Painting with A Twist is, lemme inform yaaas. Basically, it’s a painting class, but the “twist” is you can bring in a bottle of wine, snacks, etc. and you paint while sipping!

You just register online and they have everything set up for you- the canvas, the paint, the water, the brushes- all you need to bring is yourself…. oh and your beverage of choice, ohhh and your chocolate of choice 😉

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We also won the “selfie competition”- yes, so slightly cheesy (literally and figuratively- womp womp), but we won and got two painting with a twist tumblers so 100% worth it!

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Priorities….

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They have plenty of photo ops all over the place!

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Tell me she isn’t just the cutest?!? Plus she had the best painting in the class- not even kidding!

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I woke up at 5 am on Tuesday to head to the airport and head home. It was the hardest thing to say goodbye. I grabbed some Starbucks to help with the grief. They always misspell my name so that at least provided a sprinkle of humor.

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Welp, this may officially be one of my longest posts ever. If you stuck through it I give you props! I hope you all had the best weekends! Anyone do anything crazy or fun?

Blog Birthdays:

Kristy from Southern In Law on August 12th. Guys, Kristy always has such yummmmy, healthy eats and her pictures alone will make your mouth water! She also is super candid about her life and such a joy to follow.

Dani Jane from A Beautiful Thing on August 17th. This lovely London lady blogs about literally everything, from fashion to travel to restaurants- you must follow her now if you don’t!

Happy birthday to you both, I hope it was wonderful 🙂 Sorry I’m a bit late!

xo ❤

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Lake Tahoe Travels!

HAPPY SATURDAY!

I am so excited to share this travel post with you all. There is a ridiculous amount of pictures and detail in this post, but Tahoe deserves nothing less! I also love my travel posts to be super informative for anyone that might go to one of these places in the future. It was one of the most gorgeous places I have ever been. I tried to capture the beauty, but the pictures do not even do justice! 🌲

DJ and I discovered early on last week that we both had last weekend off (6/10). It’s the first weekend we both had off at the same time since I started my job in March. We took full advantage and planned a trip to Lake Tahoe. It just sounded like the perfect, most peaceful location to go to get away from the chaos of our everyday.

The drive in alone was a special experience. The views were awe-inspiring. With every turn, ascent, and descent, we were accompanied on either side by an endless sea of trees, waterfalls cascading in the mountain sides, and snow comfortably resting atop the vast mountains illuminated by the Tahoe sun. I half expected a greeting from bobcats, rams, and fox as it felt as though we had stumbled upon a real world Cabelas.

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We had dinner arrangements, but wanted to drop off our luggage at the hotel first. I use the word hotel lightly here. With my improptu planning, I found somewhere on Groupon for dirt cheap. Ya’ll know I swear by Groupon. I haven’t had many, or any, bad experiences with Groupon. I found a place that looked decent on their site, but didn’t do too much research (A. I didn’t have any time and B. Everywhere else was $$$$$).

Welllllll—– when we arrived it was…. *dramatic pause* not quite a “romantic getaway”. The entire building was entirely dilapidated, the sketchiest of folk were hanging out in the corridors, the lobby smelled of a mix of cigarettes and mildew. I sent a quick text to DJ at check-in, “I am so sorry!”. He assured me it was fine, and we just had to see our room before making any judgement. Once we finished checking in, which took an hour in and of itself, we lugged our luggage to our room (We had to take an elevator that I was convinced was going to break under the weight of my skepticism). The whole way there I was panicking, What have I done, I thought. DJ was being somewhat optimistic, and just kept saying, “let’s just see what the room is like.” When we stepped into what I was expecting a cozy, romantic lodge with an overlook of the lake we were blasted with the most horrendous smell, a moldy bathroom, dusted furniture, and bent curtain rods with haphazard curtains that looked as though they were bought from a garage sale…. a garage sale from the fourties. I broke down in tears, not sure from emotions or from the severe allergens in the room. Our one weekend we finally had together I was convinced I had ruined. We had a reservation at our restaurant at 6:30 pm, and it was currently 6:00. We brainstormed what to do, going back and forth between staying or finding somewhere else. We finally decided that since we didn’t know the next time we would have this time together, it was worth it to make this trip something nice and decided to swallow the money.

We quickly booked another hotel at somewhere nearby and took a deep breath. Time for dinner. **PS. I hear Air BnB is a great option for Tahoe!** **PSS. One day we WILL get the full on camping gettup!**

I put on my forest green laced dress and finally had the chance to paint my nails! I don’t ever have my nails painted for nursing, but was so excited that I finally could pull out some of my favorite dark brown Zoya polish for the occasion. Naturally, I painted my nails in the car, because that’s what ends up happening 99% of the time.

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I even put on my fern earrings to really get in the spirit 😉 DJ always slightly pokes fun at how “all in” I get about encompassing the idea and essence of different events/holidays/etc.

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We headed to Edgewood Restaurant, which provided one of the greatest meals of our entire lives. That’s a bold statement ya’ll.

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The snow capped mountain and icy blue water views alone were fabulous. I felt like I could breathe for the first time since starting my job. It was as though the earth was back on it’s axis and I could actually be, exist, in the moment.

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We joked that they knew I was coming with Himalayan salt readily available, an assortment of olives, and sea salted herb and ciabatta bread. Olives, bread, and salt. OK- all we need is red wine, and this girl is set!

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It was the most tremendous start to any meal I have ever had.

Next, I know most times when we go out we avoid the meat based appetizers (considering I’m pesce). I told DJ I wanted to order something that had a meat base since we never usually do. (I also mayy have been trying to make up for the minor hotel fiasco). A bit surprised, but obliging, we ordered the lamb ragu with gnocchi and wild mushrooms.

Excuse me…

I needed to go get napkins to wipe the drool off the corners of my mouth as I reminisced..  🤤 This dish was heavenly. I didn’t try must of the lamb, but the gnocchi and mushrooms alone blew me away. The flavor was dynamically savory- bringing that word for me a whole new meaning!

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DJ and I both followed the appetizer with the Chilean Sea Bass over lobster bisque with fingerling potatoes. Basically all good things on earth on one plate. HOW. I told DJ on the spot this was hands down the best fish dish I have ever had.

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There was a couple that was looking to get their picture taken at the table next to us. I jumped in to ask if they would like us to take it for them since the waiter seemed busy. We headed outside and chit chatted briefly. It allowed for us to grab some pictures of the brilliant sunset as well.

They asked us if we had the halibut for dinner. I excitedly said “Yes! It was SOOO good”.. I went on and on about how it was the best dish of my life only for DJ to whisper to me that we had the sea bass. Whooops. 🤷🏼‍♀️😂

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When we left Edgewood, we headed to our new hotel. This one did not disappoint, not one bit. We HIGHLY recommend The Landing, voted the #1 Boutique North American Hotel, with good reason. It was absolute perfection.

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I loved the detail and care that went into each room. It was unusual, eclectic, modern, and yet cozy. The fireplace was my favorite part.

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Nowwww I may have created one more dilemma, which thankfully we laugh about now. I decided before bed I wanted to try to use the Jacuzzi, so while it was running, DJ and I stepped out on the balcony and see what views we could see from the room. When we stepped back in, I saw water overflowing from the tub. Then the phone rang. The front desk asked if we had any kind of water leaking. The tub literally filled in .5 seconds. We couldn’t have stepped out for more than 3 minutes. We frantically used every single towel we had to sop up the floor. Apparently it was leaking through to the room below. It was one of those moments where I didn’t know if I should laugh hysterically or cry.😂

To make it worse—- when we called back to see if it was taken care of below the lady informed us it was a bride and groom below us, that apparently were too inebriated to care at the moment, but we still wrote them a note apologizing and tried to compensate them for any issues. Maybe I was just trying to help?! Don’t they say rain on your wedding day is good luck?! Rain into your bedroom must be like the BEST luck, ya?!?

Two strikes in one day for me guys. ROUGH. DAY. 🙌🏻

Just kidding.. it was an absolutely amazing day, I simply share these mishaps because I think they are hilarious!

After getting a  fantastic night sleep, I got up a bit earlier than DJ and headed down to squeeze in an eight mile run before the festivities ensued for the day.

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This was the view from the Treadmill. GORG.

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On our way out of the hotel, we asked one of the employees where the best breakfast spot was. He recommended Heidi’s, and if a local says this is the place to go, count us in!

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This pancake house was super quaint, 50s/60s vibin’ with Christmas lights strung year round. I loved it. The line was out the door, and clearly was the place to be for breakfast. We only had to wait about 20 minutes, surprisingly.

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We tried their homemade blueberry muffin and biscuit.. yurm. Not quite on Cracker Barrel level (which we have lately been craving since there are none out here).

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However, this Veggie Omelette blew my taste buds away. The waiter recommended their house potatoes with onion and garlic- I understood why quickly- suh guuuuud!

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DJ ordered their short stack and said they were some of the best pancakes he has ever had. He is always on the hunt for some doggone good cakes, but it’s hard to find ones that he loves! Soo for him to say these were some of the best was both shocking and demanded that I try an obnoxiously big bite nibble.

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They were light and airy, and yet full of buttery, sugary, and delicious flavor. I agree- some of the best! Also makes sense why they deem themselves a pancake house!

After breakfast we headed to Eagle Falls Trailhead to hike and soak up some views. There are endless trails to go to in the area, but EFT seemed decently close to us (about a twenty minute drive) and had good reviews.

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After passing a renaissance fair (which I hard core tried to convince DJ to go to with me, but it was a no-go…. not even the lure of giant turkey drumsticks could get him to go, darnit)… we scoped out for a place to park the car.

Parking was a boogar, but we lucked out and found some right near the trailhead after searching for a few minutes.

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We had a blast exploring. Being in nature is 100% relaxation time for me. I love getting my adrenaline up with climbing and jumping through the cliff sides, over waterfalls, and feeling like a child again, exploring the earth’s crevices- the most magnanimous playground.

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I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves, although like I said, they still do not do justice!

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We were wrapped by the chilling, yet soft, breezes that at times carried snowflakes. I haven’t seen snow in wayyy too long. I thought I would never miss the cold moving out here, but the cold brought me solace, and I absolutely relished in it.

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After our wilderness exploration, we decided to explore the downtown area as well. To start off, we needed to refresh with some throwback sodas from the Old Fashioned candy store- Rocket Fizz (love that place. I always have to stop in when I see one!).

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I adored all the shops and downtown stores. DJ and I had fun perusing the boutiquey stores, art shoppes, and became quite inspired for Christmas gifts in this year to come.

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There was live music playing always within ear shot, and chair lifts occasionally would fly above our heads. I can’t imagine what this is like in the winter! I also love that the city seems to keep up it’s Christmas lights year round. It felt like we reverted back in time to a little Christmas vacation with the chill in the air, the lights, the chair lifts, the lodgy hotel, and the magic of the snow capped mountains.

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I keep mentioning Christmas, but it REALLY felt like December!

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After exploring little downtown Tahoe, DJ and I went back and snoozed for a couple hours. We were exhausted from the early start and hike.

It felt soooo nice to turn up the fireplace and take a NAP. Guys, I cannot remember the last time I actually took a nap. Seriously, I cannot remember.

In the evening, DJ and I took off to go to a Wine tour.

Funny story… when the Uber dropped us off at the pier from Google maps, we could not find where we were supposed to go. I watched the clock tick closer and closer to our departure time. I started freaking out and when the time hit ten minutes to departure, I went into full on panic mode. I just looked at DJ and realized we could not find the pier and I took off in the only direction we hadn’t explored. #FLIGHTORFIGHT. Literally- I was running in the opposite direction like a chicken with its head cut off. In the meantime, DJ kept his cool, called the boat, and found out exactly where to go. As I was in my dedicated sprint, I called the same number hurriedly.

Me: “HI!.. My husband and I booked a wine tasting tonight, and we can’t find the pier, and I know we are supposed to be there now!”……

Staff member: “I think we just spoke to your husband, are you by him by chance?

Me: “I am running back toward him right now”

Staff member: “Ok- see you two soon!”.

Lemme jus say- DJ gave me a hard time about that one. Heck, I can’t help it- I’m a runner. When I don’t know what to do, I just run!

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We boarded the intimate Golden Rose. There were three other couples with us, two from NY and one from Redwood City, CA. We actually ended up exchanging numbers at the end and are potentially grabbing some dinner together soon!

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The wines we tried were phenomenal, but even more intoxicating were the serene views of the lake.

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The rainbow clouds, mountains, and eagle nests all in one landscape were unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

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Just hours before we were looking down on Emerald Bay, and now we were actually on it!

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We packed cheese, crackers, and hummus as we floated along.

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Naturally, I was convinced we should move here. I inquired about the nearest hospital in our Uber. I am still pushing for it… *cough cough, hubby*….

After the tastings we had to have some good dessert. I did some serious research and found that Riva Grill had some flame options.

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We stopped by and placed orders for some insanely delish cheesecake and deep fried oreos- Hello all things good.

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We ended our evening with the hottub, which luckily we got to ourselves. I think most people headed home Sunday night because it seemed pretty quiet come Monday.

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In the morning I ran a quick 9-miler and then we headed to the Driftwood Cafe, a notoriously yummm place for brunch.

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I ordered their veggie omelette with parmesan and sprouts on top with cottage cheese and their bran blueberry muffin on the side. It was the quintessential hearty & heathy breakfast.

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DJ ordered the Carolina Connection which included two potato pancakes topped with grilled ham, two over-medium eggs, and country gravy served a buttermilk biscuit. I tried a bite of the gravy which was annoyingly good.

Let’s just say we both left with beyond satisfied tummies.

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And then it was time to head back to the real world. This trip gave me the rekindling and energy to move forward. I needed this time desperately with DJ and feel even closer to him after this trip. It also helped put things just a bit more into perspective. Life is still good. I can’t wait for the next time we can explore the world together.

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Blog Birthdays: (I thought I would have this post out last week, so I’m a bit late to sending out my love to these ladies!) I’m so thankful for all your friendships! ❤

K.M. from AnkhorYou on June 13th. Happy FREAKING birthday to this lovely lady who constantly inspires me with her vulnerable, beautiful writing, her endless pursuit of adventure, fashion, historical knowledge, and sage advice. She encourages me and those around her and spreads magic in this world with her mermaid glitter. Thank you for being here and being such an amazing friend. I LOVE YOU, dear!

Allie Zotola from LivingMyFullLife on June 14th. Ahhh- Sweet girl, Happy Birthday! I love how you share your beautiful life with us and how you always find joy in the every day. You have your priorities straight to me and are a role model of mine! Also you are the grandest cake baker and I get all my Aldi fixes from you sharing your hauls with us 😉 I hope you had the BEST day!

Tara from RunandLiveHappy on June 15th. Where to begin?! Yours was one of the first blogs I have ever followed, and I always wish we could hangout! We are kindred foodie spirits, and we must do a race together one day! Thank you for all your encouragement, especially in this last marathon! I love all your delish recipes, keeping up with your lovely family, your zest for life, and of course, the cutest pup ever- Jake! I hope this was the most perfect birthday yet 🙂

Katy from KatysLifeStory in the month of June. Katy, you are an incredibly strong and lovely woman! I am constantly amazed by you and your courage, determination, love, empathy, and ability to embrace life even when you have been through some of the hardest things in life. Thank you for your friendship and always inspiring me. I hope your birthday is perfect and you feel loved and celebrated as you certainly should be!

Last but not least,

Kori from GypsyRD on June 17th (TODAY!). HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I know we are just recently friends, but I feel like you are a kindred spirit! I love your posts, your sweet cats, your adventures, and your food combos! You are so authentic and kind and have a truly beautiful soul. I hope you have the most fun celebrating with your sister today!

Questions for you:

  • Favorite Old Fashioned Candy?!
  • Anyone been to Tahoe?!
  • What’s your favorite way to relax?

xo ❤

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Los Angeles- WEHO Part Two

I thought my traveling/exploring was done for the year, and yet I have one of my ALL-TIME favorite ever travel posts to share with you! This reminds me you just never know what adventure lies around the corner. The first part was a joy to write, but I’m especially excited to share part two!!! (You can check out that first part here).

Sunday morning, I woke up and went for another nine-miler. I turned up my worship music and listened to it the entire time I ran. My favorite worship song is “In Christ Alone”. What’s your favorite? We wanted to try out a church in the area like Hillsong or C3 LA, but with the driving/activity we had planned for the day it would have been hard to do it all. Next time for sure!!!

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We had been looking forward all weekend to trying out Jessica Biel’s restaurant Au Fudge. This is designed for couples/parents with kids, but we couldn’t resist. Everything about it screamed “Basic girl’s paradise”.

Basically how it works- you can choose to drop your kids off for the duration of your meal and au pairs watch them in the cutest little daycare center. They have tons of activities year round and if you want to dine with your kiddos, there is a precious list of delicious choices for them too. The menu options  for adults (especially the drinks) are hilariously witty & cute. Go check out that link above to see their adorable list of momma friendly options!

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The food was fabulous as well. And incredibly photogenic!

  • Bacon Breakfast Sandwhich: Cheddar, avocado, rosemary digonaise, fried egg, brioche bun served with breakfast potatoes & melon
  • Chicken and Waffles: Buttermilk Waffles & Crispy fried chicken nuggets, spicy maple syrup
  • Vegan Hash: Potatoes, spinach, avocado, & fennel “sausage”

For drinks: Dani tried their bloody mary, I tried the grapefruit mimosa and coffee, and Tammy and Dani tried their green tea matcha latte!

For dessert: We couldn’t resist the vanilla birthday cake milkshake. Tell me that is not just the most darling dessert you have ever seen! They even gave us a couple pieces of complimentary fudge after which I found to be the sweetest thing ever (PUN TOTALLY INTENDED!).

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After Brunch, Tammy took us to Runyon Canyon Park. This is where a lot of celebs will go hiking. See, this is why it’s great to go with someone who knows the area, because I would have never known this place even existed!!!!

* We didn’t actually spot anyone, but we speculated those covered with scarves, hats, and sunglasses on a cloudy day were probably “someone”.

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It was an AWESOME hike. The views of LA were insane. The clearness of the skyline was apparently a rare sight. Even though we were a bit unlucky with the rain, it meant we were able to see this beautiful overlook! But HINT: go to the bathroom before because there are not many options (meaning none) on the hike. I was doing the potty dance the whole way down the mountain.

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The pups we saw were SO. CUTE. I had serious puppy fever after the hike. I’m pretty sure Tammy was considering kidnapping a french bulldog at one point too 😜hahaha.

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After our hike, we went back to the Air bnb and got ready for the rest of the day. I am a neat freak right before I go to bed (like all dishes must be done, all rooms must be clean and picked up), but throughout the day the rooms in our home look like this- especially the bedroom/closet/and bathroom. DJ says, “Tornado Mack went through” . Dani kindly snagged this picture for her snap story- HA. I swear it was clean 20 minutes before she took this!

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Once we were ready for the day we headed to Melrose Place!!! We saw Fred Segal’s (the original department store), and tons of other infamous shopping locations!

We had to stop in Magnolia Bakery, just because it’s too darn cute. Tammy grabbed an ice coffee while we were in there, and we just snagged a whole bunch of pictures! I hear their cupcakes are divine, and I’d love to try them sometime!

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And of course…. we couldn’t leave West Hollywood without getting pictures by these famous  walls…

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Or stopping in D A S H! (prices were not quite as bad as I had expected!!)

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It was a bit chilly and I was craving a coffee or a pick-me-up by this point in the afternoon. All the coffee shops were out the door so we stumbled across Alfred’s Tea. This is apparently a super famous place, but we just wanted some coffee or tea gosh darnit. It was a long line, but Tammy had stopped in another store and said to take our time getting something to drink. Dani had her first bubble tea and I tried the kamboucha! By the time I got up to the cash register, I was feeling the cold drink more than the hot. It was crowded in there!

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Such a sassy little tea shop!

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For dinner, we had reservations at PUMP (another of Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurants). We didn’t hit Villa Rosa- the third and last, but maybe next time! I can’t describe truly in words how spectacular PUMP was. I swear, it was easily the most stunningly decorated restaurant I have ever been to. Think- garden oasis, chandeliers, fairytale all wrapped up in one place. Plus, the menu wasn’t outrageously expensive. (Yes- expensive, but not like you would expect somewhere like this to cost!). The food was divine.

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AND GUESS WHO WE BUMPED INTO!?!?!? That’s right- Conrad Ricamora (Oliver from How to Get Away With Murder). I think I freaked out more about seeing him than the Bachelor contestants. Ok, it’s a toss up. But he was SO sweet about getting a picture with us. I always hate to be that person, but come on, CONRAD RICAMORA!

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For dinner, they start you off with artisan bread with salted butter and chives with olive pieces in the bread. I’m such a big olive fan, so anything with olives…send it my way! I think I ate half the bread myself (thanks for helping a little, Dani). Tammy- next time, I’m making you try it. 😜

ALSO… SALTED BUTTER! See! **If you didn’t hear my rant in a previous post, basically I think salting your bread and butter is the BEST and only way to eat it, and apparently Farallon and PUMP agree 😉

While waiting for our table, they offered us drinks from the bar, but I didn’t finish mine and had to resort back to good ole’ red wine. This place and the ambiance demanded it!

Tammy and I had the Tiger Prawn and Farro Salad. This included tiger prawns tossed with farro grains, baby arugula, dried fruits, scallions, cucumbers, micro cilantro, and candied pecans in a light lemon citronette. This may be one of my favorite meals I’ve ever had. I am definitely going to try to recreate it at home.

I also ordered a side of the wasabi cauliflower mashed potatoes. Not gonna brag, but I think the ones I make are a bit better 😎

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Dani tried the chicken milanese with lightly breaded chicken breast, pan-fried with fresh lemon, served with Lisa’s homemade potato salad with scallions and turkey bacon and a small arugula salad with pine nuts, tomatoes, and red onion.

I have to say- Lisa’s homemade potato salad may be the best potato salad I have ever had!😋

On Monday morning, I ran about six miles at 6:30 AM then we scrambled to get the air b n’ b clean before getting on the road. We stopped into Urth Caffe one last time to grab some quick on-the-go fuel.

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I tried their green tea matcha muffin  with their green tea match latte (JJ, I know you’re freaking out, girl- yes, it was the muffin was as good as it sounds!). Like I said in my last post, it would be DANGEROUS if this place was nearby. I would probably live here!

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At 9 am we were on the road and heading to Warner Bros. studio!

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Lucky for you, I’m going to take you on the tour with us! We were able to see the back and front set of the studio- and it was MAMMOTH! I had no idea this studio was so huge. You see the staircase at the very back of the alley? That’s where the famous spiderman kiss was filmed!

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Look familiar?? Luke’s Diner!

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How about this one? Miss Patty’s dance studio! 

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Mona’s House from Pretty Little Liars

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THE GILMORE GIRLS’ HOUSE!

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The famous Gazebo from Gilmore Girl’s is below too!

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This is the ladder autographed that Lady Gaga jumped off of from the Super Bowl this year!

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I loved seeing the Dexter chair and the Full House “house”. Although, we have the real painted ladies right here in SF!

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We were able to see where they stored all the bat mobiles!

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Dani and I did the green screen for Harry Potter and were incorporated into a video- it was so much fun and the nerd was just oozing out of us!

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Here is my imitation of Phoebe’s famous run right where she did it!

And our favorite- getting this picture on the Friend’s set ❤

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It was about a three hour tour, and so worth it. I can’t begin to even cover all the epic knowledge you learn about the pure magic of creating a movie/TV show. My mind was blown! Hands-down worth your time!

We were super hungry after but didn’t want to take too long to get lunch. Tammy found this darling cafe called Olive & Thyme, and we ordered food to go! Tammy said it may have been the best tuna sandwich of her life and the avocado toast with poached eggs that I had was absolutely superb. The coffee was not so great though. If you go, get a latte instead of just plain ole’ joe!

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On our way out we spotted Katie Holmes. We walked right by them and I took about a million photos secretly and to my elation (and surprise) a couple turned out!

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We then headed back, leaving behind the marvelous City of Angels, but taking some unforgettable memories home with us.

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We hit some horrible weather on the way home and it reminded me of gripping the steering wheel as I did so many times in Ohio. I was under the impression this didn’t happen in California? We looked on the news the next morning and the route we had taken home was impassable and entirely flooded. We got out of the thick of it just in time! (We also made it home for Bachelor just in time).

Truly I could not have asked for a better first experience of LA! I can’t wait to go back. Thanks for sharing in our adventure with us!!!

xo ❤

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Los Angeles- WEHO Part One

To say this past weekend was fun would be a tremendous understatement. It was truly one for the books, and I can’t wait until the chance to go back to LA! I went down with a couple girlfriends super last minute. DJ and I were planning on maybe going to Napa for President’s Day Weekend, but he had to work (or thought he would have to), so this trip worked out super well! He knew I had been dying to go to LA ever since we’ve moved out here and encouraged me to go especially before the job starts. I have never been (neither has one of my friends, Dani- dark hair). SO, Tammy (blonde hair), lived in the OC for a good part of her life and offered to show us around West Hollywood (WEHO). Best tour guide ever!!!!!!!!!

I definitely have to make this post into two parts (maybe even three), because there are SO many pictures and SO many good memories to share! I didn’t think I’d get a chance to blog this yet, but I came down with something bad last night and am stuck in bed. Hence, time to blog. Also- I think this is the fifth time I’ve gotten sick in three months. I’m guessing it’s just all the stress, little sleep, change in climate, and insane amount of activity going on!

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Anywho, on our way down Friday the weather was rough. We were getting texts from just about everyone we knew to be careful or to just turn around. BUT us girls are from the midwest (and Washington), so a little rain didn’t deter us.

When we were about an hour into the trip, my tire pressure light flashed on. Of course, because what is a road trip without a little needed car maintenance? We pulled off the next exit and gave the wheels some air. When Tammy was running back inside the gas station to return the tire pressure gauge, I spotted a flash of color out of the corner of my eye. I whipped the car away from view and Dani said, “What the heck are you doing?” I said, “I just saw a Peacock!!!”. She didn’t believe me for a second until the big feathery creature trotted on it’s way in our eye’s view. Sure enough, it was a peacock. So far I have seen wild zebras and peacocks in California, so I’m not sure what to expect next!

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When Tammy came out of the gas station she didn’t see us (we had drove around the corner to chase our pretty little friend). I said to Dani, “That’s okay, she’ll call us.” Then we both noticed her phone was still sitting in the passenger seat. We quickly drove back around and she was standing there with the most bewildered look on her face. We had some explaining to do, but we were both laughing so hard it was all we could do to spit out the word “peacock”.

In the evening we arrived at our Air B n’ B! I will say I was a touch skeptical about this service as I’ve never used it before, but it was AMAZING. We were located in the heart of Beverly Hills, walking distance from Rodeo Drive and within short miles from anywhere we wanted to go. The house itself was adorable, clean, and the hostess was easy to communicate with. She left us clear, amicable instructions about keys, the parking pass, and even said we could help ourselves to tangerines on her table. Hospitality is apparently not dead! This was a steal too. It was about $140 for the entire weekend per girl. (I know it’s taboo to talk prices, but I really wanted to emphasize how great this is!). If you have never used Air B n’ B, I highly recommend. But do a ton of research and look at MANY places to make sure you are getting the best/most safe/accessible place around! Traveling is becoming easier and cheaper by the day!
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For dinner we went to a place called Saddle Ranch Chop House. I tried to grab pictures, but it was quite dark inside and none of them were showing up. We had snacked a bit on the way and weren’t starving, so we spit their famous jalapeño mac and cheese and cotton candy.

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I rode their mechanical bull and since I didn’t fall off I was awarded a second gargantuan cotton candy. I don’t even like cotton candy, but how can you resist this?!

After, we headed to a place called Hyde Sunset Kitchen & Cocktails. Someone had recommended this place as we were on our way out as a good place to go to just hangout. Ready for the most epic part? Where are my bachelor fans at? We saw Chase McNary, Luke Pell, Jasmine G., Christian Bishop, Lace Morris, and ready for the kicker? Amanda and Josh- together. Yep we knew they were back together before TMZ! There were all these articles coming out Monday about them being seen Sunday night together. Haha- we were freaking out when we read this.

In the morning I woke up at 7:30 to go for a run. I got in about 9 miles just running around Rodeo Drive, different neighborhoods, and Winchester Blvd. I LOVED these morning runs, although I was going on little sleep every time I did one.

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Once we were ready for an epic Saturday, we headed to the legendary Urth Caffe. If this was close to me, it could be dangerous. They not only have the BEST matcha green tea lattes on planet earth, but their food is phenomenal.

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I ordered their salmon scramble which included toasted ancient sprout bread (YUM), roma tomatoes, and chives and then added capers and red onion with egg whites.

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Tammy ordered the rustic poached which included two poached eggs over toasted whole wheat bread garnished with capers, basil oil, heirloom tomato, and red onion. Isn’t it pretty?!

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Dani ordered the Mexican Omelet which included three organic eggs, roma tomatoes, green chilies, red onions, monterey jack cheese and cilantro, served with salsa. Unfortunately I didn’t get a pic of this for you to salivate with your eyes, but I’ll take her word for it and she said it was delish!

They serve their coffee in a BIG cup. Their coffee is super strong, as is their espresso. If you go here, get the matcha latte!

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After breakfast we walked around to check out all the shopping on Rodeo Drive! These stores astounded me. WOW- just the pure wealth is mind-blowing. We were wide-eyed at the price tags on everything 99% 100% of the time! We were waiting in line for the restroom somewhere and one woman said, “I love your shoes! Who are they?”to a girl standing next to me. Lol. “Who”. Glad she didn’t ask me because I’d be like, “Uh, my boy Target”.

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So the thing that sparked this trip initially was our bonding over Vanderpump Rules and Housewives of Beverly Hills. I’m honestly so embarrassed to admit that, but we all have our guilty pleasures, right?! Pure entertainment. I consider them more comedies than anything 😉

Anyway, stopping by and seeing Kyle’s store was essential for us. The clothes were crazy expensive like everything else, but ridiculously soft. I don’t know if I have ever felt such soft clothing in my life.

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Don’t mind us, we’re just casually drooling over these dresses.

There were also some gorgeous hotels we popped into to check out!
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After walking around there for a while we went to get the classic Hollywood sign landmark!!!! I was ecstatic when the renowned block letters came into view. I’m such a sucker for the touristy attractions.

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The Boomerangs were our favorite!

And, of course, we made our way to the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

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Our last stop was the Bel-Air House, but we needed some coffee from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to give us a pick-me-up. (Peet’s still takes the cake 😉 ).

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We then headed back to our Air BnB to get ready!

The excitement could not be contained. We were finally going to SUR!!!! If you watch the show, you know this is a huge deal. If you don’t, then just don’t mind me while I lose my cool a bit.

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When we arrived we didn’t have reservations, and there were only three tables that were “First come, first serve”. It looked like a group of married couples was about to leave, so we asked them if they were. They said they might leave soon, but weren’t committing. However, they said we could sit with them if we wanted to to order food! It was incredibly kind of them to offer. We finally were able to get some grub- we were STARVING.

We all agreed we had to try the famous goat cheese balls. I’ve got to say, they were even better than I had anticipated. If you are ever in WEHO, you MUST stop in SUR for an order of goat cheese balls. We also tried the ahi tuna and Dani & Tammy tried the sliders. It was all insanely delicious.

Now, I know many of you are wondering, “Well did you see any of them (the cast)?”. The answer is a big ole’ YES! We didn’t see many waiters or waitresses, but we saw Peter, Ken, Lisa, and Giggy! We were all fan-girling so hard.

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Here is Lisa walking out of SUR…


WEHO is popping in the evening. We walked around the strip, stopped in a few different places, and then were hungry once again since we hadn’t had a huge dinner. We stopped by Mel’s Drive In for one of the best veggie burgers/milkshakes/and sweet potato fry meals before heading home! I had wanted to try Mel’s for a while, and it certainly lived up to the hype. I can’t wait to take DJ there.

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^This picture above was taken at Mel’s and was basically me the entire trip- on the lookout for celebs.

I am going to work on part 2 tomorrow! There is way more to come, way more celebrity sightings, and wayyyy more fun to record! See you then!

Blog Birthdays:

Susie @ SusieOpinions on February 14th- I’m so sorry I’m so late, but I hope your birthday was absolutely spectacular!!

xo ❤

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Cleveland, Ohio- A Perfect Christmas

HAPPPPPYYYY NEW YEAR! Here we are the end of 2016, and before it crosses into 2017, I am going to do my best to recap our Christmas!!! Excuse the spelling and grammatical errors, because I’m sure there will be plenty considering I’m trying to whip this out in like 20 minutes.

So, CHRISTMAS!

On December 23rd, I arrived in Cleveland, Ohio. I was picked up by one of my best friend’s from childhood. We were able to sneak in a quick dinner together at BJ’s in Montrose, OH, my old stomping grounds.

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I wished we snagged a picture together, but we were so busy talking and catching up it didn’t cross my mind (but yes, taking a picture of my cherry-chipotle salmon still did cross my mind).

The rest of the evening was so nice, relaxing, and needed after a full day of travel. I spent it chatting with DJ’s mom in the kitchen while wrapping all the gifts I had shipped to their house so I didn’t have to lug them on the plane. She was so kind to let them stockpile over there for the last couple months! Sitting around and just talking away in her kitchen is one of my ALL TIME favorite things to do in the world. Since I have dated DJ since high school, that kitchen island has hosted countless laughs, discussions, decisions, and family time at it’s finest.

DJ came in on a red-eye in the morning of the 24th, Christmas Eve. Before he came home from the airport, I went out for a run. This view below defines home for me. Ya’ll have essentially seen me as a ‘Cali girl’, but Farmer’s markets, the giant swing at Szalay’s, cornfields, washed-out red barns, and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park are nearly as innate as my genetic makeup. The miles of running trails that I’m able to circumnavigate through sheer muscle memory, or rather soul memory, hold onto my secrets from years and years past. The actual footprints of my running shoes may weather away, but the memories of the struggles, trials, elations, and joy that have soaked this part of northeast Ohio is indelibly there forever. I relished every second of that cold run that brought an inner warmth nearly incomparable to much else.

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One of my friends, Annie, said to me yesterday- “Your blog cracks me up. One second you are like, guys, here is something really serious and then BAM, here’s a picture of some food!” Ha! She’s so right and that is exactly what I’m doing right now.

BAM. Here is a pic of some DELICIOUS homemade cinnamon sugar donuts that my mother- in-law made! Seriously some of the best tasting donuts ever. She should open a bakery.

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On the night of Christmas Eve, some REALLY exciting things happened. I FINALLY MET MY NIECE, Kate!!!!!!!! The feeling of holding this gem in my arms brought me so.much.joy. She is perfect. As an Aunt to my niece and nephew, the feeling of love is just truly overwhelming- I can’t imagine possibly being able to  love them more than I do, but that also provides for me a small glimpse of what a parent’s love must feel like. I also see how my own Aunt loves us like her own, and I totally get it in a new way now.

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Here’s my amazing nephew, Jack. He is one of the most intelligent, spunky, and inquisitive little two-years- olds I have ever met. I am blessed. The only way I could be more blessed is if I could have had him sit still for a picture. But I’ll take what I can get 😉

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We went to Mass at my brother and sister in law’s church. It is a breathtakingly beautiful Church in downtown Cleveland.

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My brother and his wife are some of the greatest parents I know. When my dad passed away, my brother became the rock of the family. He has constantly emphasized the importance of family, prioritizing us, encouraging us, and being there to offer wisdom and a hand no matter what. My sister-in-law is also one of the most gracious, loving, and just fun individuals to be around. I am thankful I have them as role models for when it DJ and I have kids one day.

When we got back to my brother’s house we had a scrumptious traditional lasagna, meat or veggie option, with salad and rolls. SO YUMMY! There were a good number of people here this year that we had to split into two rooms for dinner. It fills my heart to have a full house on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve has traditionally always been the night that we spend with my dad’s side of the family, but for a few years it felt that there were fewer and fewer people each year. Even my sister, Andrea, was gone for a couple years living in China. I missed her so much, and it makes me so happy to see the family growing again ❤

We spent the night playing games, laughing, and exchanging gifts. It’s super fun opening them up with my nephew now that he sort of has a handle of what is going on. Except the wrapping paper and boxes seem to be his favorite part!

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Christmas morning I did Insanity and then DJ and I got in our Christmas garb on to go downstairs!

Drumrollllll……..

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Yes- we jumped on that onesie train! We had breakfast all together and then headed over to visit some of DJ’s extended family. It was just a great day with amazing family, friends, food, and the cutest pups you’ve ever seen.

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This is DJ’s twin sister Amy’s corgi named Pool Noodle. Is that not the best name you have ever heard for a corgi, and is he not the cutest corgi you have ever seen?!?!

He is also pretty insta-famous: poolnoodlethecorgi

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The evening was filled with a Christmas dinner nothing short of holiday food deliciousness, and the desserts to follow …. well, the picture speaks for itself… perfection. I crave my mother-in-law’s pumpkin pie all year long. She is one of the BEST baker’s I have ever known. It’s not a holiday without her desserts!

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On the 26th I squeezed in another run. I would occasionally find myself on the lookout for mountain lions! It’s weird that I didn’t have to be concerned about them. DJ and I also had a bit of culture shock with the amount of space, land, and lack of people! We kept feeling like, “Where is everyone?!”. Welcome to the midwest!

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The rest of the day was super chill for us. The best kind of day. I love how being home, whether in Texas or Ohio, forces me to just veg-out a bit.

On the 27th, I had dinner with a good friend I’ve known since 6th grade. She’s one of those people that it’s incredibly easy to just pick right back up where we left off. We went to Mustard Seed Market & Cafe at Highland Square. This has always been one of my ALL TIME favorite restaurants. They have an incredible selection of vegetarian and vegan options that blow me away every time.

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I had the vegan Rueben sandwich with their antioxidant salad with turmeric dressing and coconut bacon. I could eat this for every single of my whole life, not joking.

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We spent the rest of the night with the family playing words with friends, watching Secret life of Pets and hottubbing! Also Hot tubbing NEVER gets old.

On the morning of the 28th I had breakfast with Rachel! A few of you that have followed me for a couple months may remember when she visited San Fran. You can read about it here and here 🙂 I was beyond excited to see her; I was missing her mucho.

We went to First Watch which is a must-go-to place when I go back to Richfield. It’s a chain, so a few of you may have heard of it?!? Anything on their menu is fantastic. They are notorious for their massive pancakes- banana nut or carrot cake are my favorites.

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I had their triathlete egg white omelette with house-roasted crimini mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and green chilies. It’s served with housemade salsa, a dry english muffin, and fresh fruit. This is my go to easily! I also love their power wrap (minus the turkey) and their Energy bowl.

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Rach ordered their pesto chicken quinoa bowl with protein-packed quinoa mixed with kale, shredded carrots, and house-roasted tomatoes topped with grilled all-natural lemon chicken breast, basil pesto sauce, feta crumbles, and fresh herbs. This is a favorite of a lot of people I know! Rachel loved it too.

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She also ordered their daily juice selections, it was simply revivifying. You cannot go wrong with a First Watch juice- they are fantastic.

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Rach and I hung out at her house after for a bit. Her house is like my second home to me. I always miss her and her family tons being so far away, but I was thankful that I could at least see her for that small amount of time! ❤ ❤

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Also she wins best gift giver of the century award. For any occasion, she thinks of the MOST creative, thoughtful gifts. For example, for our wedding, Rach had cornhole boards with our last name and the date of our wedding personalized in our wedding colors made. That’s just one of many,many examples, and this Christmas she once again blew me away!!!!! We have an inside joke of “just read the blog” when I either run out of time to tell her something, or I have a long story- I’ll always just say “just read the blog”. We occasionally throw out #ontheblog or #justreadtheblog as sorta a joke now. So look what she made me…..!!!!!

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She even had my sign-off! GUYS! Is she the best or what?!?!? She MADE this herself. I can’t get over it. She is starting to get a business off the ground so when she does, I’ll share her info with you all!

That evening we went to Burntwood Tavern in Fairlawn with DJ’s side of the family. It was such a rustic, and yet elegant, place to enjoy some great American cuisine.

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After dinner we packed up our bags (cue the tears), hot-tubbed one more time, ate as much of the desserts that we could for one last night, and then tried to snag a couple hours of sleep. At 3 AM we hit the airport and were on our way back to California.

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I am so thankful for the time to get together with our family and friends. We definitely missed those that couldn’t make it, but we treasured dearly the time with the ones that could. Nursing may consume my holidays in the future, but I’m grateful for at least this last one. More than anything too, I’m thankful for what Christmas means. It’s easy to get caught up in the hum-hum of holiday festivities, but the message behind Christmas is what is most important ❤

I cannot wait to read about how everything is going for all of YOU! I am so behind on reading, but I am truly looking forward to catching up this week. Getting those blogger cravings. Anyone else?

Currently DJ and I are on our way to SF to celebrate NYE!!!!!!

Happy New Year to everyone! I am thankful for all of you, for everyone I have met this year through blogging, and I wish you all nothing but joy, love, and blessings in this year to come!

xo ❤

Mack

Fort Worth, TX Recap!

Hey Ya’ll! Long time no chat! I am so behind on these posts, comments, everyyything- so I apologize but I will get caught up very soon 🙂 I have so many good memories to record and share. I am taking us wayyy back in time to December 15th when I arrived in Fort Worth, Texas. My mom and step dad, Pete, live there and my sister, Halston, flew in as well. DJ had to stay in Cali for work! I already recapped San Antonio, which was a weekend trip, so this post is the bookends of that weekend!

Thursday (12/15)

I woke up in the morning sick as a dog. I definitely caught whatever had been going around. DJ took me to the airport, and we realized this would be the longest we would be apart since we got married. Anyway, I comically lugged my three suitcases through the airport, unable to keep them stacked in a way that I could physically move them in unison. I’d go five steps then *flop* the one would topple over, another five steps then *flop*- I continued dropping the luggage every few feet and certainly was someone’s entertainment for the day. I honestly didn’t care, I just wanted to get through security to my darn gate. I handed off my checked luggage and was finally free from the luggage juggling circus act. Once through security, I started craving soup more than I can ever remember in my whole life. The chills were pretty bad. I walked through the airport strip and had about given up on finding soup and instead started hunting down my gate. When I was close to my gate I saw the San Francisco Soup Company and was never so ecstatic to see a soup place in all my years.

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I ordered their summer corn chowder and it hit.the. spot. It took that achy chill out of my bones and made the rest of the wait bearable!

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On the flight I read the latest issue of the American Journal of Nursing, wrote some Christmas cards, and used the tray table as a pillow. What do you guys do on flights?

After I landed, my family and I exchanged hugs and “Ah! I don’t want to get you sick”(s) and “I don’t care!”(s), then hit the road to head to Keller (a suburb of Fort Worth). On the way we stopped by the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX. My sister’s boyfriend, Kevin, was there for one more night and we said he couldn’t leave without seeing this place. It’s quite the spectacle! It’s one large hotel, but they deck it all out for Christmas. You know the saying, “Everything is bigger in Texas”? I’m pretty sure that originated with this hotel. It’s worth a quick walk through if you are ever in the area!

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Cuties!!!! (I was out of commission for pictures; I basically looked like a walking zombie).

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They have an imitation San Antonio Riverwalk on the lower level. It’s even completed with Mexican restaurants all around it. How cool is that!??!

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Once home, I was greeted by my puppy, Jade, that I haven’t seen in so long.

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On Friday (12/16) Kevin left (sad day!), and I had my hair did (insert hand flip emoji) at a Lemongrass Salon by Aveda while my mom and sister shopped. I accidentally missed my appointment that I had scheduled in California (I thought it was 1 but it was 11), so my mom graciously helped me schedule this one. I still was not feeling 100%, so it was a good day to knock this out. Getting your head massaged and roots covered is a sure fire way to make a girl feel better 😉 I swear by Aveda salons for a good blonde!

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Friday night mama Jill whipped up a delicious dinner!!! It was cauliflower Arancini via GreenChef, and we loved it! However, we both agree after using both services that Blue Apron is still the better of the two.

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I liked using the leftover cauliflower bites to dip in hummus. They were even better the next day.

That night we went to the movies. I LOVE the movie theaters with the Cafe and Bar areas. We watched Collateral Beauty. I thought it was just OK, but the rest of my family loved it. Either way it was great family time and sparked good conversation. I won’t give a full synopsis- but if anyone has seen it I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Saturday morning (12/17) We left first thing in the morning for San Antonio!!!!!!!! You can read all about our Saturday morning to Sunday evening here.

Monday (12/18) was a chilllllllll day filled with sleeping in, a workout at the local recreation center with my mama, baking Christmas cookies, and sushi for dinner. A perfect day if there ever was any! The last couple times we have been in Fort Worth have been pretty tourist packed, so we decided to take it easy this round and just relax- a word that isn’t really in my vocab too often.

At breakfast, the little stinker put on her sweet begging face. Sorry, Charlie, I like my toast too doggone much to share.

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Christmas Bakin’! I wish I could take credit for any of this, but Mama Jill was the baking wizard all the way. Her coconut macaroons are the BOMB (they are the white morsels). And there is truly something about homemade rice krispy treats!

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Tons of sushi from Kroger with seaweed salad and asian thai salad was on the agenda for dinner. (I know grocery store sushi may not sound super appealing, but I have never been disappointed!).

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After sushi, we went over some family friends’. I met them last spring when I was in town and had a ball with them. I couldn’t wait to hang out again. Their house is the most festively decorated home I have ever seen. I think the said they have eighteen Christmas trees total? Each one is decorated with a specific ornament theme. For example, they have a Christmas tree with only shoe ornaments, another with only wine bottle ornaments, another with only santa ornaments, etc.; it was an actual winter wonderland.

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She has no idea I snapped this, but I snuck a picture of this classy lady!

Also we had carolers stop by, and they were the most precious two little girls in the world.

Tuesday (12/20)

This was lounge day round two! We watched Netflix, home videos, Hulu, and grazed all day long.

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My family hasn’t let me live this clip down for years. This is Halston and I. I was NOT a nice big sister!!! Sorry, Hal!!! Thanks for not holding this against me. Love u!

Here is a picture of my mama’s homemade guac that I mentioned in the San Antonio post!

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For dinner she made roasted onion, butternut squash, brussel sprouts, and cranberries with a maple glaze. YUM!

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Every single night us three girls hot-tubbed, chatted, and sipped on wine. It was perfection. Pete was so sweet to encourage us to have our girl time.

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The neighbors next-door just had a baby, so we dog-sat a couple times in the evenings for them to lighten their load. This video makes me belly laugh every time I watch it. It is of one of the dogs (the most lovable Pitbull in the world) thoroughly enjoying a tummy rub. Yes- that is a dog making that noise. My mom at the end of the video goes, “Why are you crying, Buster?!” *That’s the dog’s name 😉

Wednesday (12/21)

Halston, my mom, and I woke up and did Insanity in the living room. All ya’ gotta do is move a few couches out of the way and you’ve got a nice gym!!

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Followed by shenanigans.

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Jadey baby didn’t feel up for the workout. Also- what a stinking diva. She literally has her bed on the bed. Spoiled pup, I tell ya what.

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After our big family workout, we went to brunch at Another Broken Egg Cafe per my stepdad’s suggestion. I think I thanked him at least ten times for suggesting this place, because it was one of the BEST brunchy places ever. Ugh, I say that every time, but I do mean it!

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They had such a uniquely delicious selection of food, and their coffee was served in handcrafted stone mugs. Doesn’t get much better than that.

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My mom and Pete said we needed to try the Beignet doughnuts. These are like the best-donuts-you’ve-ever-had and then some. SO. GOOOD. And they are served with a honey marmalade. I donut know how I have gone my whole life without them. And I donut know how I have gone so long without making an awful pun. You’re welcome.

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Us girlies tried the skinny omelette which had herbed egg whites with blanched asparagus, roasted red peppers, green onions, goat cheese and roasted garlic cloves with an english muffin and a fruit dish. They seasoned it with the most palatable herbs!!!! My mom and I placed our bets on what they were, and we actually nailed it! Thyme, rosemary, and parsley. If you’ve never tried that on an omelette, DO IT! It’s extraordinary, or shall I say “Egg-straordinary”! Ok, ok, I’m done now 😉

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Pete chose the lemon ricotta pancakes. He graciously offered us all a bite, and obviously I graciously accepted a big ole’ one. My sister gets mad because she says when I “try” something, I end up eating half of it. But, hey, tomat-oh, tomah-toe. You say “try”, I hear “sample half the plate”. Anyways, these were lemony ricotta-ey pancakey perfection.

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Wednesday night we had the Candlelight celebration at church. It worked out perfectly because this was our “faux” Christmas Eve. Although we couldn’t celebrate actual Christmas day all together, the fact that we could go to this candlelight service definitely made it feel like a true Christmas Eve celebration. It was moving, and I love seeing the sanctuary lit up by candlelight.

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When we came home we had apps while we finished up cooking dinner! The cheese was a mix of vegan and regular. I truly could not tell the difference between which one was vegan and which one was not. Usually good vegan cheeses are hard to come by, but this stuff was a facsimile; it blew my mind! We could not get enough!

Fun tip: If you need a fancy, yet incredibly easy, appetizer- try doing pita crackers + hummus + roasted red pepper + roasted onion + a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

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Although DJ wasn’t able to actually be with us, we still hung his stocking!!!

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It was nice to sit around and enjoy our apps around the gorgeous tree. It’s these moments that define the word “content” for me.

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Dinner started with goat cheese “croutons” atop a salad with pears, pecans, and mixed greens. THIS. This is going to be a tradition.

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Momma made ribs for Pete… yes, that whole thing was for Pete considering none of us eat meat. LOL. The girls had a sesame crusted tuna. I forgot to take a picture because I was a bit ravenous!

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Dessert followed with my mom’s marveeeeelous Christmas cookies and my step dad’s famous pumpkin crunch which I am beyond bummed that I don’t have a picture of. We gobbled that thing up so quick! It’s one of our favorite parts of Christmas. It’s truly something I look forward to year round.

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We ended the night with a dip in the hot-tub per usual.

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On Thursday (11/22) we had our “faux” Christmas Day!!!!! It was a magical morning followed by a breakfast of eggs, toast, and BEER JELLY! I found these on UncommonGoods for Pete. We had fun sampling all of them! Uncommon Goods is an AMAZING site for unique gifts for the family. I find most of my gifts here each year!

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Annnnnd my stocking, as well as Halston’s, was stocked with five gum, NO COW bars (lemon meringue- the best), and Quest bars. We may have a bit of an obsession to say the least…

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After opening gifts and having breakfast, I went for a nice long run. Unfortunately, the sun didn’t want to peak through too much, but it was still enjoyable. I lived in Texas in the Summer of 2015 before traveling to India, so the familiarity feels like home, even down to the running trails.

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In the afternoon I ran a couple errands with Mama Jill

You know you are in Texas when…

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That afternoon we had apps round two!

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For our “Christmas day” dinner, we started with pear salads with goat cheese, toasted almonds, cranberries, and mixed greens. I made my cauliflower mashed potatoes! I promise I will post those at some point! They were a big hit.

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We also had stuffed vegan acorn squash with fresh cranberries!

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My mom also made regular meatballs for Pete

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And we cannot forget my most favorite dish of the season: Sweet potato praline . YUHHHHMMM.

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And what is any holiday meal without green bean casserole? She made it healthier too by substituting the cream of mushroom for light and low sodium. We could not even tell the difference!

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This perfect Christmas dinner was followed by more hot tub & wine!

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Friday (11/23) I woke up early to go to the local recreation center in Keller to get a workout in before getting ready to head to the airport. My sister had a different flight than me (a much earlier one), so she was landing in Ohio as I was taking off. This is how I caught up on reading everyone else’s blogs from the week! People probably think I’m such a crazy ellipticallyng (spelling?) with a laptop, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do!

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When my mom got back from the airport, I finished packing up and then we decided we had time for one last lunch before heading out. She recommended a favorite of her’s and Pete’s in town, Devivo Bros. Eatery. It is considered rustic comfort food, but has an Italian flare! So essentially all the good things..

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We split the Kale salad with fresh kale, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, crispy tortilla strips and candied almonds tossed in a jalapeño ranch dressing as well as the white bean tomato basil soup.

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It all hit the spot perfectly, and I was so thankful for this small chunk of time we could treasure before my flight.

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Isn’t she darling?!

Time to head back to OH-IO.
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I will recap that soon! Since DJ couldn’t join us on our fort worth adventures this year I figured why not include a few from last year?!? 🙂

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This is from when we visited the Fort Worth Stockyards. Such a fun place if you ever get the chance! Next time I go back to Fort Worth I am going to do a travel post about them.

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And a trip wouldn’t have been complete without absurd amounts of sushi.

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Thanks for hanging in there with me through this crazy long post!

I will do a quick holiday post recap once I am back 🙂 DJ and I have are currently waiting for our 6 am flight and have been up since 3 am! EEEK!

Wishing you a very Happy New Year,

xo ❤

Mack

SURPRISE: San Antonio, TX!

HOLAAAAA!!!!! To say I’m ecstatic to share this post would be an understatement. I arrived in Texas late Thursday night, so I will share the very beginning of those festivities in my next update post. BUT for now- guess what we have?!?!?…. A TRAVEL post!!! And the best part was how unexpected this one was!

On the Thursday that I arrived, my mom handed my sister and I each envelopes with the CUTEST notes inside….

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My sister is fluent in Spanish, has lived in Dominican Republic and Honduras for brief periods of time, and has been dying to use her Spanish lately, so she was beyond excited about this “hispanic adventure”. 🙂

My mom also knows how much I love blogging about our travels, and so she thought it would be a fun place to go to take lots of pictures, experience authentic culture and cuisine, and make some amazing family memories.

DJ had to stay in Cali for work, and my stepdad (Pete) insisted that we make this a girl’s trip… hence, we had the most epic girl’s trip to San Antonio for a literal 36 hours. We left at 7:30 am Saturday and returned 7:30 pm Sunday, on the nose.

Also fun fact: the last time I was in San Antonio was with my mom and dad when I was 23 months old. Now here I am, almost 23, going back to San Antonio on the exact same weekend I did all those years ago ❤

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As soon as we arrived, we took our bags up to our hotel room and hit the gym for a 30 min. run to get our energy levels up after the 4.5 hours of driving. It was exactly what we needed. The sun was just beginning to peak out too when we stepped outside, so it was perfect timing.

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We walked by the river walk, but didn’t yet explore because we had other things on our minds……. FOOD.

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My mom insisted that we eat at a restaurant in the Historic Market Square. This place is just one giant festival. The colors and decorations are multitudinous and vibrant, a nice change from the neutral tones of the Bay Area. Patrons and restaurant employees line the bricked walkway in los charros and las china poblanas (traditional hispanic garb). The atmosphere was contagiously upbeat, and the smells of food lingered through the air, enticing each passerby to consider stopping in to sample their own claim to fame.

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Mi Tierra is where my mom insisted we indulge. She never leads astray when it comes to good comida, so Halston (my sister) and I happily obliged.

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We put our names in and were told there would be about a 45 minute wait. Ya’ll think I can get hangry? You haven’t met mi hermana. She can be a wildebeast when she needs food. Sorry, Hal, it’s the truth. So 45 minutes just sounded a tad too long for us to twiddle our thumbs. Rather, we decided to go to the bar and order some drinks and apps to tide us over. Luckily we snatched the last few seats next to some locals wearing Mexican palm cowboy hats.

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Frozen margaritas for me and mother bear for starters

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I’m not the biggest fan of them, but when in Rome (Aka when in San Antonio). This one was delicious and accompanied the food super well. My favorite is the salt around the rim and I do prefer them frozen better, I must say.

& Virgin pina colada for baby sister bear. 

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We decided to split their special shrimp cocktail which uses jumbo shrimp, cocktail sauce, avocado, cilantro, and a bit of something magical to create the perfect combination. I wish so badly you could have tried this, Deej, because it was RIGHT up your alley!!!!

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And naturally- we had to taste test the salsa, avocado, and chips. My mom makes some out-of-this-world homemade guac, so that’s always the degree of comparison when we try other places’ recipes. The smoky flavored salsa was fantastic, chips were great, and the guac… on.point. No worries, Momma Jill’s still takes the lead.

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We didn’t leave a morsel of food behind… and then our buzzer paged notifying us that we had a table available. Oh shoot, we were gonna eat lunch weren’t we?! We decided we were pretty darn full and would just munch on the boardwalk when we grew hungry again.

We hopped into this bathroom before heading out and I had to take a picture. It was just darlin’!

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TIME TO EXPLORE!!!!

We finished exploring the Historic Market Square and then went to the indoor Historic Market place right next to it.

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Santa was just hangin’ around.

We stopped and watched the performances going on here for a few minutes, walked through the shops, and admired the handmade trinkets that littered the walls.

Now it was time to make our way to the River Walk!!!!

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The River Walk was absolutely like nothing I have ever experienced. It takes you to another place, and you really don’t even feel like you are in the United States anymore.

With the authentic Mexican eateries every few feet, one may assume they are in Mexico. When passing the Italian Cafe’s, one may have assumed they landed in a Venetian oasis.

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After exploring the River Walk we went to the Alamo. This holds a special place in my family’s heart. We have an Uncle who voluntarily came down from Kentucky and was killed in the battle. We found his name on the wall, took a picture, and discussed how sobering this moment was. All these years later, here are his great-great-great nieces were still coming to this place and discussing his memory because of his service.

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After exploring The Alamo, we hit the road and went to the Shops at the Rivercenter.

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I know where some of my blogging ladies would be spending their time 😉

The mall wasn’t insanely huge or anything, but it was awesome because you had a spectacular view of the river walk the entire time you shopped! We also picked up some Timberlands for my sister while we were there from Journeys!

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We did a bit more exploring around the awe-inspiring architecture and Cathedrals.

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———————-

TIME FOR A BREATHER.

We went back to the hotel and spent about 15 minutes resting our feet and recouping our energy. My mom kept saying, “Ya’ll better not fall asleep! I mean it!”.

Ok- we are good to go.

LET’S HIT IT!

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We headed back out as it started getting dark and decided to do the Riverboat Tour, because it’s like a requirement in San Antonio, honestly.We waited for a bit over an hour before we finally were able to get on the boat, but it was worth every second. The way the lights lined the gargantuan trees that loomed over the water, the jovially boisterous noise from all angles as people settled in for dinners and drinks, the music reverberating off the ancient brick, and memories being created for lifetimes all around us made the wait pleasantly bearable.

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The tour itself was one of my favorite parts of the trip. The air had a gentle breeze that was soft enough to just about put me  to sleep (coupled with the fact that we probably walked about six miles in a day). The coaxing of the boat down the water and the smooth rocking enhanced the experience of seeing the River Walk in an entirely new way. I loved the history that the guide provided about gems of San Antonio. Buildings we would pass by without a single glance now demanded a thought in space and time.

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We were able to get up close and personal to a monologue of Ebenezer Scrooge. This moment took me back to feeling like I was five years old again. The magic of Christmas was thick in the air.

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It cooled down incredibly quick, so I threw on this cardigan that I have been anxious to use for a night just like this!

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I know that you are all wondering- what about dinner?!?! I was wondering the same thing too by the time I got off that river boat! Most of the places on the River Walk are chains, and the ones that aren’t have a tremendous wait. We decided to try Yard House. This is one of my sister’s favorites. I have never been, but I will certainly be going back. The ONLY negative is they don’t serve bread, and my sister and I live for the bread at the beginning of meals.

We all basically have the same taste in food between my mom, sister, and I. We ordered a few things and then just shared them. We had the red quinoa salad bowl which included kale, parsley, brussels sprouts, roasted beets, cauliflower, pomegranate, feta, baby tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, and blood orange olive oil vinaigrette. Oh my lanta. I could eat this every day for the rest of my life I’m pretty sure.

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Next we shared the Mediterranean Salmon which was za’atar crusted with spicy tahini sauce and red quinoa with cauliflower, kale, golden raisins, and pistachios. It was YUM. I have never known what to use za’atar for (I have a bunch in my cabinet), so I am so pumped to start using it to crust my salmon!!!

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Last was the INSANELY delicious BBQ “Chicken” Pizza. It included Daiya (vegan) mozzarella, cilantro, red onion, and BBQ sauce. **Usually it just comes with normal mozzarella, but we asked for the substitute. This reminded me of the pizza samples we had from Morning Star at EAT/DRINK SF in August!!! Just fantastic.

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Next, we had to face the cold. The temperature had plummeted from the time we went in for dinner to when we left. Good thing giant blankets are back in style. LOLZ.

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In the morning on Sunday, we worked out for an hour, and then hit the River Walk for brunch.

But before we actually ate, we had to commemorate little sister’s first steps in her Timberlands 😉

When Halston read this ^^^ she said “Kenz, you make it sound like I’m a two year old! Take that off your blog!” Hahah. Tough luck chuck. I like it so it’s stayin’.