Friday Favorites!

Happpy Friday!!! 

Oh wow, it has been a HOT minute since I have done a Friday Favorites post. I didn’t plan on writing one today,  but sometimes after that first cup of coffee you just don’t know what will happen! I am so excited to share some of my favorite things of late with y’all. Now that I am not 100% consumed with school (for now), I have some shows, podcasts, recipes, Christmas inspo., etc. I have been enjoying!

(P.S. I am listening to Taylor Swift’s new album as I write this, and I’m eager to hear your thoughts if you have listened. Folklore was one of my favorites of hers, so I am stoked for evermore). 

First up- my friend Rach sent me the most delicious and thoughtful advent calendar! It has vegan dark chocolate for each day of December! I look forward to my little heart shaped piece of chocolate every day 🙂 

Okay, so I guess there is a teeeny bit of school sprinkled in here. I have been studying for my boards a bit each day, and I LOVE using the Leik review. It’s been kinda *fun* to go through the intensive review, as everything is starting to really come together. I won’t be taking my boards until next spring, but I want to be prepared as possible for my final clinical rotations. If you are an FNP student, I definitely recommend this book for review! I actually wish I had studied it throughout the program coinciding with each unit-  so I recommend doing that if you are just starting out. This will not be my only source of review, but it is a great one to start with. (There are a couple minor typos/errors in the book I’ve found, but overall it’s solid).

Alright, if you have been around here for a while you probably know I have ice cream in some form nearly every day for dessert. Well, y’all, I had to give up the dairy pretty much all together (at least for now) due to some skin issues. I have seen a huge difference since cutting it out. I replaced my yasso fudge pops (from Target) and ice cream cones with these Fudge Bars from So Delicious (I found them at Whole Foods). They are a great alternative. But if you can have dairy- yasso is so yummy- I was on a kick of that for a while! 

New running shoes!!! I have been long overdue in replacing my running shoes (Since before Virtual Boston in September- eeeeek, don’t tell!). Brooks are my go-to shoes for year-round training. When I trained for Boston I ran in the Nike Zoom Fly 3 for the speed- they are ah-mazing, but in terms of sustainable training and support for the way I run and step, I am hesitant to veer away from Brooks ghost + inserts for the long term. Maybe one day I’ll officially transition over to the Nike running side, but there has been enough change in 2020 already, lol. (When I get to the actual Boston recap, I’ll talk about the magic that is Vaporfly Next % I wore for race day too). 

GreenPan Pans!! So we have been a kick of “healthifying” (not a word, but it works) our home environment (I am planning to do a whole post eventually on the why and the how), and the first thing that had to go were our old cooking pans. Also, we were due for a new pans since we haven’t replaced them in about five years since getting married. We looked into and read all about the healthiest pans, and decided to go with GreenPan. Another cheaper alternative we were close to getting were these pans that come in a variety of adorable colors. We went with GreenPan because they seemed to be a trusted brand in pretty much everything we read. Also the reviews on GreenLife were questionable- they had a high rating, but the recent ones were mostly negative- so we just played it safe and invested a bit more. Anyway, we absolutely love them. They are nonstick, cook evenly and quickly at low to medium heat and are extremely easy to clean. I’m usually a bit reckless with my cookware, but I’m going to try to take good care of these. 

Autumn is starting to show its face in Austin!!! The leaves here change later in the year, and here we are in December with it finally starting to feel somewhat like fall! 

Something that has really helped me get in the Christmas spirit is watching Taralynn McNitt’s Vlogmas. I just adore her Vlogmas she does each year, and they have added a real lightness to the heaviness of this year. She was actually my initial inspiration for blogging, and I’ve been following her blog since 2014. She is the realest, and just a breath of fresh air in the hyper-curated blogging space of full-time bloggers. If you want to check out her actual blog follow this link. You guys will love her (if you don’t already!). 

After many recommendations to watch the Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, we gave it a chance and oh my goodness- highly recommend. It is a heavier watch, but it is extremely well done and unlike anything you have seen before. That’s a bold statement- but it’s spellbinding, quirky, suspenseful.. and so much more!

And I would be remiss, devastated and heartbroken (anyone know the reference?), if I didn’t share these No-Bake Vegan Brownie Bites with you that are ohh sooo good! These were recommended by my sister-in-law, and I am just obsessed. I ate through my first batch so quickly, and I can’t wait to make them again. 

And last, but certainly not least, my Mom-in-law and my Aunt-in-law have a podcast that I just love called Ok Boomer! I try to listen as soon as they have drop an episode. They are witty, funny and it feels like you are just sitting having a conversation with them. I think a comment someone left in the reviews captured the essence of the podcast perfectly: “A fun and entertaining way to explore how another generation sees the world with a message to get out of your comfort zone and live life to the fullest”. Their goal is to take back the negative connotation of “Ok Boomer” to bridge all generations so we can all be “happily ok together”! And I say they do just that!

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What have you been loving lately?

**Disclaimer: There are Amazon affiliate links in this post. All ideas and opinions are my own. I may receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase the products linked**.

Paper planes, Colleen’s and Pizza! 🍕

Hey everyone! I am chillin’ here on a Saturday night with DJ sitting next to me. He is plugging away on school work with finals right around the corner. We have a bergamot and sandalwood candle burning from HEB. It has a unique, but wonderful, scent.

Lately, I have started studying for my boards, so I am chipping away at that a bit each day. I have also done a lot of “back burner” items since being back in ATX, some Christmas shopping and deep cleaning of the apartment. I start back up my clinicals in a few weeks (back in Fort Worth again), so I’ll be going back to stay with my mom and Pete (I am so thankful to be able to stay with them!!). This rotation is much shorter this time around. Then I will start a different rotation when I’m back in Austin. Wow that is wordy! Don’t worry, there’s no quiz later 😉

Anyway, picking up from the last post, after my final shift, I left New Orleans around 3 am after getting the car packed up. I tried to sleep, but it was not happening with how my body had totally flipped schedules. I figured why not just drive through the night. I started listening to Where the Crawdads Sing on audiobook for my drive- it was phenomenal!!! I would say it is a contender for one of my all time favorite “reads” (even though I listened). I heard they are making a movie of it soon- cannot wait!
When I was home and unpacking we noticed a piece of paper tumble onto our patio from above (please excuse the dirty windows). 

Here is the message inside the little airplane…

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We had a huge laugh about this and, of course, threw them back the connect 4 pieces.

After unpacking and taking a nap, I was quite hungry. My first meal I was craving back was Chilantro’s tofu bowl. 

It doesn’t look like much, but oh my, it is a delish dish! DJ enjoys their tacos.

When I was actually in New Orleans, the one food I craved the most that I didn’t ever have (since I was eating mostly non-perishables) was…. eggs!!!! Since my circadian rhythms were a bit thrown off, I woke up around 3 am wiiiide awake, and decided to have some avocado toast with an egg and an Easter frosted cookie. I forgot just how good avocado toast + an egg was. Magic. (Spoken like a true millennial).

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The first Sunday back I was thinking how nice ordering a brunch in would be. I stumbled upon a great brunch takeout spot called Colleen’s Kitchen! 

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We ordered a whole bunch of brunchy (say that 10 times fast) items from their cheesy grits to their chicken and waffles to their smoked salmon crackers and cranberry biscuits! It was a brunch if there ever was one! My mouth is watering just remembering it now.

That afternoon, I went through my mountain of mail and opened a couple super thoughtful gifts and cards sent from family and friends. My amazing family sent me this package of cake pops! This has extra special meaning since it is actually a cake pop shop owned by one of my high school teachers. They were the absolute best cake pops I have ever had! If you want to check out her shop visit this link 🙂

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 55d260ea-5dec-4a07-a649-f0696a7e33b2-819x1024.jpgAlso my dear blogging friend over at Cyranny’s Cove sent me this awesome and extremely thoughtful candle that has a diamond once it burns down. This warmed my heart sooo much. Oh and she also sent along a roll of toilet paper, which we all know has been like gold this year, hehe! Thank you again, Cyra! <3

Later that afternoon, DJ and I went and strolled along Lady Bird Lake. We now have an official walking path that is about 4 miles. We love taking that walk together whenever we have a chance. The views are beautiful and the wildlife always keeps us entertained!

A few days later we tried a new restaurant for us called Galaxy Cafe. DJ ordered their burger, and I tried their Galaxy buddha bowl with steamed kale, homemade lentils, brown rice pilaf, roasted sweet potatoes, mushrooms and a side of chile peanut vinaigrette with salmon. We will be ordering again!

Around this time I began my semester! I still had some time to put in before beginning clinicals to make it to my 14-day mark since New Orleans. 

Mid-May we realized it had been far too long since we had dug into some Via 313!!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cdfb36d6-47d4-472d-962b-f26a82fb2b18-887x1024.jpgFour cheese is my go-to, so I made sure to get that! On another pizza we ordered the Detroiter (DJ’s favorite). For the last za’ we experimented with half of the Cadillac which has gorgonzola, fig Preserves, parmesan, and balsamic glaze (my new favorite) and half of The 500 with pepperoni, jalapeno, and pineapple rings (probably not an order-again). 

This stuff is soooo good! 

That night around dusk we went for a walk together around town. It was a lovely evening in ol’ Austin.

We saw this cute little heart lit up in one of the buildings downtown. I always kinda wonder how they coordinate this.

And I’ll end this post with one more walk around the lake 🙂

I’ll share a couple more highlights from this past summer in the next couple posts! Thanks for reading!

Question for you:

  • Any funny neighbor stories? 😅

An Austin Takeout Roundup!

Hey all! Thank you tons for the warm welcome back 🙂 I’ve gotta say, I felt a bit more myself since publishing that post! I had high hopes to get a bunch of posts done and be more present around here- and wellllllll, surprise, surprise…. that did not happen. But we did enjoy our time between semesters and started our new ones about two weeks ago. I am actually temporarily living in Fort Worth right now at my mom and Pete’s to complete a clinical rotation. I found out last Friday my placement was official, packed over the weekend, did the mini move on Monday, picked up my badge on Tuesday and started on Wednesday! I am aiming to finish up the rotation by the end of October to start my next one in November. I miss DJ sooo much, but he is going to stay here next weekend when I do the “Virtual” Boston Marathon, and I’m planning on visiting Austin the weekend after that.

A bit more about school…finding clinical placements are already tough, and during the pandemic, it’s been extra extra tough- so I’m thankful to have one at all, even if it means traveling some. This semester I am in pediatrics and obstetrics. I L-O-V-E my pediatrics rotation so far. I have been also so enjoying this time with my mom and Pete. I kinda feel like a teenager again- lol. I go into my room to study when not at clinicals and pop out when my mom says “dinner’s ready!” (I feel spoiled with her cooking!).

So continuing on in the recaps, we are now entering into late March (It’s comical how far behind I am, truly). This is a little hodge-podge variety post of some of the Austin restaurants we tried around that time. We first decided to try out some local BBQ, and Black’s BBQ is one of the favorites around. We tried a few different sides, and DJ tried some of their meats.

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Overall, it was yummy, solid BBQ for suree- but I think Terry Black’s is still our favorite we’ve had yet!

That Sunday we watched church. It’s interesting because now whenever talking with friends it’s either “listened to church” or “watched church” since ours hasn’t opened back up yet. I think of all things, I cannot wait for Church here to resume.

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On one of my walks that week I saw this… yikes! I have seen several snakes like this in the area. At first I thought it was fake- but nopeee.

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And it’s not Lady Bird Lake without spottin’ turtles. DJ and I crack up at this picture because the one turtle is just doing its own thing and chillin’ at the top of the log. It does not have a care in the world.

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More great eats! I think this was leftover BBQ with brown rice and veggies.

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That week I went on a walk down South Congress- one of the busiest places in Austin (usually). At this time it was absolutely vacant and kinda eerie. I don’t think any other point in time this picture would be possible.

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This picture below is from Joann’s, mentioned in one of my last posts- it is unheard of to see this place empty, and there was not a soul in sight.

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Later I made us some tortilla pizzas with vegan sausage- gosh these were good!

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Even though we are just inundated with seeing these types of signs all over now, I want to document them here and there- as we are currently living history.

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March 27th was my Mom’s birthday. If this was any other year, we would have certainly drove down to Forth Worth to celebrate. It was great to be able to at least Facetime with her for a little bit & celebrate from afar!

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To finish out our March, we ordered from Henbit. We tried their smokey broccoli, a Waygu burger for DJ, and I had my eye on their desserts with their famous monster cookie with chocolate chips, pecans, white sonoran wheat, lemon zest and their basque cheesecake.

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DJ loved the burger!

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This is one of the greatest cookies I’ve probably ever had. I wasn’t sure what to think of the lemon zest when I read it in the initial ingredients, but the addition made this cookie. I actually froze half of it, and enjoyed eating it frozen even more than warm.

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Contending for a first spot of all cheesecakes is this basque cheesecake. It looks burnt on top, which is intentional. Again, I was not at all sure what to expect with the flavoring, but it was exquisite. The creaminess and subtle burnt flavor blended well to create a beautiful dimension of flavor. Certainly, this is the most unique cheesecake we’ve tried and easily one of the best!

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Another breakfast kick I’ve been on is the avocado toast w/ EBTB seasoning & a side of grapefruit slices. I definitely go through phases with grapefruit.

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We also went through a phase with making different Thai dishes with a red curry base. I usually mixed tofu into mine and chicken into DJ’s. Mmm mmm.

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Aaand we are now strolling into April with a walk downtown.

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Later that day we decided to try out Chilantro, a Korean BBQ inspired restaurant that I’d been hearing a lot of buzz about. It has a flare of Mexican cuisine inspiration as well. Fun fact- it was actually on Shark Tank!

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The main thing we wanted to try were their Kimchi fries. They actually surpassed our expectations- they were insanely good. Dangerously good. And they had a nice little spice! I could actually go for some of these right now…

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DJ ordered some tacos, and I had their tofu bowl. The tofu is so good. This is something I crave from time to time. When I returned from New Orleans, it was the first thing I ordered.

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I think it was around this time that my clinicals were put on hold for the spring semester. We still had classes, but the learning is most important in the clinical setting. Thankfully, those hours were able to be made up. I am so full of gratitude that despite everything going on we have been able to continue in our respective programs. Just gotta keep trudging through until Spring 2021!

Question for you: 

  • Fall is in the air!!! What are you looking forward to most with this season coming up?

xo <3

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Friday Favorites: Shameless Series

Hello and welcome to the first unique installment of Friday Favorites: Shameless Series where I share my slightly embarrassing (& admittedly basic) obsessions with ya!

  1. This Coffee Mug. When I arrived in New Orleans, I realized I packed every essential kitchen utensil, except for the most essential… a coffee mug. So I went to a nearby Target to get my groceries and grabbed this one below. It is maybe the most basic thing I own (outside of this blog), but oh wow, oh boy, does it bring me joy!

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2. TikTok. UPDATE: Okay- when I originally published this post I included tiktok. Obviously a lot has changed since this post, and I have since deleted the app off my phone.

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3. Listen to Your Heart. My feelings are still pretty ambivalent with this show (much like the actual contestants’ feelings for one other). But overall, I’m livin’ for the dram’, livin’ for the music, and livin’ for the cringe-factor.

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4. Applesauce on the Go. I’m pretty sure these were created with toddlers in mind, but they are quick sugar and easy to eat when I have to scarf somethin’ down fast. I also stocked up on goldfish and currently have a mean craving for some gushers. Does this mean I’m regressing? It’s quite possible.

img_46575.  Dadsaysjokes on Insta. Contrary to popular belief in the day of TikTok, Instagram does still exist, and if you dust off the ol’ app from time to time, you may as well follow this gem of an account. Without a doubt, you will find some all-stair jokes 😉

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Do you have any shameless Friday Faves?

<3

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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, friends!!! He has risen!!!

I hope you are having a beautiful day making memories with your family even though it may look a bit different than usual <3

I had a post scheduled to be released last night, but quickly sent it back to drafts (so, if you receive that e-mail but don’t find the post, that’s why). I wanted this post today to only point to Jesus. This morning I was listening to two worship songs on a loop. The first has been my favorite since I can remember- it is a classic, but never seems to lose the power of its words. The second one played a pivotal role in bringing me back to my faith when I was going through a lot of uncertainty and feeling lost. I hope you find encouragement, hope and peace through them this Sunday.

In Christ Alone

Reckless Love

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Don’t be alarmed, he said. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. (Mark 16:6) 

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Eye’ve got my Eyes on San Antonio!

Hi, everyone!! I am currently flying back from North Carolina after an on-campus intensive. A little update about this semester- it has been a game changer, in the best way.  I am in clinicals now, which means I am back with patients <3 I have doubted this decision to return to school many times, especially last semester, but I just kept praying, praying, praying and trusting that this truly what I’m supposed to be doing. And finally, it all feels like it’s coming together. I still struggle with some insecurity about my knowledge or experience, but I am reminded the purpose of this program is to fill in those gaps and provide us with what we need to know. Rather than the idea of being an FNP seeming so nebulous and intangible, it’s becoming more feasible. Prior to clinicals, I was worried about not retaining much of what we learned since it was so stinkin’ much, but it’s pretty cool to see how much of that knowledge comes forward when it’s called upon. My preceptor is absolutely brilliant, and I am learning so much from her. The MAs I work with could not be more wonderful. Last semester was grueling, but this semester feels like a weight is lifted; I have clear direction, motivation and assurance- I am feeling very thankful. My mom-in-law told me last semester (paraphrased) that throughout life often when it feels you are at your wits’ end is usually when you have a breakthrough/things turn up. That’s exactly what I’m experiencing, as is DJ. It’s busy as ever, but we’re both feeling reinvigorated. I do still have a tremendous amount of trepidation, nerves and amount to learn- but the accompanying emotional turmoil has lessened. Also, some exciting news- DJ sealed up his internship for this year. We will be apart for fourteen weeks since it’s in Ohio, which is going to be tough… but we are trying to see the bright-side: It’s a great opportunity for him, I have my heaviest amount of clinical hours during that time so I’ll be MIA anyway, he gets to explore a new city, and with the very little spare time I do have I can invest in friendships in Austin. It’ll just be another adventure for us both!

Okay, so I am posting one more post from 2019 (this one), and I’ve decided I’ll save my whole Christmas post for next Christmas season and release it at the beginning of December. I’ve never done that before, but maybe it’ll be a fun change of pace?!

Words, words, words… soo many words. And here are more words… but then pics will come soon too!

Sooooo story time (full disclosure, it’s a C+ story at best, read at your own risk of boredom):

I went to the ophthalmologist on December 17th for an annual eye exam (had my first floater…sad day). I had my appointment scheduled at 1 pm and was planning on meeting my mom for dinner in San Antonio in the late afternoon/evening (she was there for work). They said I would be just fine to drive after the appointment, so I didn’t rearrange my plans to drive straight to San Antonio immediately after. Well, it was more challenging than I would have thought. I was fine seeing a few feet in front of me/long-distance- I could read road signs easily, but I couldn’t make out anything on my phone, and even the car dashboard was hard to read. I went home and grabbed multiple sunglasses and somewhat blindly entered San Antonio into my GPS (Again, I was just fine seeing more than a couple feet in front of me, I just couldn’t read fine print). So I am driving and hear the ominous “ding ding” of the car maintenance alert on my dash. I had to squint furiously to make out what was the drama was. I figured out that it said my tire pressure was low, but my car doesn’t clarify which tire’s pressure is low, so time to go fill them all up. I found a gas station and pulled in. I could not read the meter for the life of me- it was just a black meter box with blurred numbers and letters. I walked into the gas station without running into the door (I know, I’m still surprised I didn’t too) and went up to the cashier with my double sunglasses on. Her face did not hide her confusion. I said to her, “I have a very odd request” which caused her to look at me even more… inquisitively. I explained the situation and offered to pay anyone a few bucks just to help me fill the darn tires up because I was helpless. One of the gas station employees helped me out, but when I turned on the car the alert was still on. I drove for a while longer, very cautiously, and the up-close blurriness slowly subsided. I tried one more gas station and this time I could make out the meter just enough to fill up my tires. But the dang alert light was still on my dashboard. I then took it to a car shop in San Antonio when I arrived, and they said it was probably just the alarm that needed to be reset since my tires were just fine (but they didn’t have that capability there). ANYWAY, I took the car in officially when I was back in Austin, and it was true, my light alert just needed to be reset… So I went through all that chaos for nothin’ ! LOL. Okay, D+ story at best. If you read that, bless you.

Anywho. After that fiasco, I met up with my mom at one of her malls she manages. We did some shoppin’, and I got the best deal ever on a Kate Spade purse. It was 60% off and I had a giftcard that covered it all with some left! My mom found some great deals on clothes too.

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After our successful shopping trip, we headed to our hotel for the evening. We stayed in the same one from the last time we were here!! As soon as we stepped through the lobby I had a rush of memories come back from the last trip. <3

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We dropped off our bags from shopping and took a quick view out the window before hitting the riverwalk!

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It is just magnificent at Christmas. There is no way to capture the beauty of the riverwalk in the photos.

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As we were looking for somewhere to eat we stumbled across a place that still had a happy hour going on- $3 glasses of wine. We stopped in for a glass at Lonestar Cafe while we had some wonderful conversation (mostly my mom encouraging me after an arduous few months). We also scoped the riverwalk for where we should eat.

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We decided on boudro’s. My mom remembered one of her coworkers actually recommended this. Wow, oh wow. This meal was one I will never forget. It’s one of those where every single bite was a flavor explosion.

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We sat out on their patio under a heater and were wrapped up in their cozy wool blankets. This was a moment where I felt like I could just relax for the first time in months. The setting was warm and seeing the Christmas lights on the riverwalk made it all that more magical.

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We decided to split three of their appetizers that were jumping off the page to us. First up, their seared scallops with white corn pozole (I don’t exactly know what pozole is, but it’s guuuud), red pepper vinaigrette and cilantro oil. I tried to savor every single little nibble!

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Next up were their wild mushrooms with grilled baked polenta, goat cheese, roma tomatoes and chipotle-thyme demi-glaze. Holy. Moly. Forever and always I have so mushroom for this dish in my life. So good. The polenta cakes were an excellent touch.

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And last… we went for a pretty uncharacteristic dish for us considering we do not regularly eat meat… but we could not resist a menu option as unique as this.. the all natural mesquite grilled Texas quail on pepper jack grits with fried parsley and jalapeno chips and chipotle demiglace. This was the winner. I didn’t think the other two dishes could be surpassed.. but woah…

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As we were munchin’, we had a little friend join us!!!

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He was so cute we could not stand it!!! Although he was a beggar!

My brother couldn’t help but point out on my insta story the irony that I posted our duck friend right after the quail. Whoops!

The riverwalk was hushed by the time we strolled back to our hotel. It was absolutely serene soaking with the quietness of the river and the brisk chill in the air. We both headed out in the morning. This was a quick and impromptu trip I will always treasure.

Questions for you:

  • Any good books you’re reading right now?
  • Did you watch the Oscars? I have them on while I’m editing this post, and these performances are captivating!

xo <3

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Lucky Robot & Trail of Lights!

Hey, everyone! In this post I am taking y’all on a culinary journey to Lucky Robot. This is a local restaurant on South Congress that I’m honored to be an ambassador for! This has been on our list of restaurants to try for a while, so I was ecstatic when they reached out.

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When we walked through the doors on December 15th we were immediately wowed by the eye-catching, electric and vibrant decor.

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We decided to sit outside since it was an absolutely beautiful day! It was nearly 80 in December. Whatt!

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Just a little background- they are the first sustainable sushi restaurant in all of Texas. They use the phrase Ichiban Dake to inspire all they do (it means “Only the best”). They put so much care and attention to every detail of their restaurant from the decor to the customer experience to the flavor to the presentation of each dish.

First, we started with peach blossom breeze which includes peach-infused sake, orange juice, cranberry juice and brut. It was light, refreshing and delicious!

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Of course, we have to have some edamame to start!

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We ordered their shrimp and pork dumplings with pork, shrimp, passion fruit ponzu and basil seeds. (Even though I don’t usually eat meat, for food shoots I do at least try each dish so I can appreciate the spread and give a fair assessment). These were great… the passion fruit was a wonderfully unique twist.

d6d39db9-02de-4619-b385-d1e3cb23fd3a82a8eba9-ff20-42f4-a03c-8eccd087d60aNext up were the steamed pork buns with spicy soy glaze, farm-to-table sunomono and cilantro.  They were extremely savory and packed with flavor. The bao itself was soft and pillowy as could be. DJ was particularly blown away by these, they were his favorite of everything we tried. We are starting a “must try” in Austin list with specific items from different restaurants, and this is going on it!640dbb78-f34f-4b76-ba02-a4d7f69798580066ed63-eadb-424e-adcd-8d1e8ebcda37Next up is my personal favorite- the veggiepillar with miso grilled eggplant, sesame, pickled cucumber and carrot, topped with avocado and serrano, yuzu miso sauce and sesame. Okay, this is seriously one of my favorite sushi rolls I have ever tried, and it doesn’t even have any fish. Phenomenal.eabdfd18-d347-48df-9ffb-a628eaaaa72c9b425252-2334-4a01-b8f3-06ca210786d7We also tried their famous Voltron with crab, avocado, pickled cucumber & carrot topped with tuna, salmon and amberjack that is served with sesame, spicy mayo and soy lemonglass glaze. It was delicious and had every fish you could ever dream in a roll- it was DJ’s favorite between the two, where I preferred the veggiepillar.cc4323bb-7098-4b9a-a208-ff4d6e7a7402Next up is the stunning king cebiche with big glory bay king salmon, tiger’s milk, serrano, purple sweet potato, shallot, persimmon and cilantro oil. The flavor was extremely delicate and you could tell how much attention went into this dish.5032eb2a-779e-461a-9f8f-1e13144d2c1e988ce4d4-ce98-431e-b582-510b3616b3efWhen we got home I went for an lovely run in the warm weather. After, we did some house chores, and then I worked on going through the pics a bit. We were pretty exhausted after such a busy weekend- but then had a second wind around 8:30. I saw that it was free admission to the Trail of Lights and since neither of us had classes the next day (what!) we decided to check them out.2f4c3a59-8baa-4c0c-b828-76bc132492b2839bf375-1544-4270-86e5-2acc31d6137fb99316f3-9e8e-44d7-8410-4c98ebb873e4We have heard a lot of hype around this event, but didn’t know what to expect. It was absolutely magical and magnificent. It helped get us in the Christmas spirit!58691701-281f-43b4-b58c-e277ebe9aaacCan you spot Texas on the globe?1928be52-72e5-4052-9b0b-d767f3e1d2e0e18171e4-43b7-46e7-b6da-036581501059832186cb-29c7-47b3-9155-a36ffcbf939cI was crackin’ up by the “Upside down” land. All the trees were literally upside down haha. How does that even work… ya there, gravity?9dbe9c20-3f26-45e0-9765-6234b5887ef3They had a variety of food trucks, a carousel and even a Ferris wheel!14880808-44c7-4250-80ad-bc1f253405ecb0a3afa4-5b4c-492f-b97e-a4420fc43340They even had a bat cave (Representing the bats on South Congress). I don’t know that I’ve discussed the whole bats on South Congress thing before… but I’ll make sure to discuss the whole situation behind them in a future post.2d9b0993-5d82-4924-8103-a3761ba027f1And to further the Christmas inspired lights, here is the North Pole!a3268256-bb80-4cf4-b557-bacdb447d038We even had the opportunity to go through Candyland!686d7de8-9c4e-46dc-ac93-01bfeed765fd4a86d51a-f5d9-4cdd-b0d4-abe1a932a7e3d68f1b3d-8417-4995-aef9-b8a304b5e8f2At the end of the trail there is even a live band playing an area to cook S’mores if you wish.30370549-5703-477b-877d-cc44d055c6fe5292d490-35c3-4262-b49c-78ff84d06465As we headed out we were in awe of the lights against the city skyline. Plus there was a massive moon that night, although I failed to capture it on camera.0bab99dd-10dc-468a-ba31-27a9ff864697Since we had sort of a “linner” at Lucky Robot, we grew hungry again by the time we finished the lights around 9. Since neither of us had to get up early the next day we decided to walk into town to grab some pizza.a9683439-4bbb-405e-9e18-5c96696beb87We went to Via 313 – another local favorite.800045f0-e3c7-4495-98ce-6615085aa8da36f16654-08f1-4ddd-864b-90e4b3a02f3cIt took a while to get our pizza (probably about 30 mins), so we enjoyed the quiet and warm setting and watched some ESPN in the meantime.88f8611a-dc9f-412e-8bc0-5f1bb14b0c04Finally around 11 pm we got our pizzas – the veggie for me and four cheese for DJ. The veggie was fine- but the four cheese was absolutely amazing!b1145553-a1d7-4c87-a80e-0f599f658ec0455838d7-a314-464d-9f37-945c32ae55acAnd I had to take a picture of the bathroom area- so cute.4f7041ba-3786-46af-8cbd-960449f562eeQuestions for you: 

  • Are you watching Bachelor? We must discuss.
  • Thoughts on the Grammys if you watched? I thought Alicia Keys did an incredible job…So full of grace. I loved Lizzo’s performance (of course) and Camila Cabello’s had me in tears. I still have about an hour left, but I will probably finish it tomorrow.

Before I end this post I just want to say we are absolutely devastated hearing about Kobe, his daughter and everyone else involved in the accident. Gosh, there really are no words… reminds us all to hug our loved ones a bit tighter and to never take a single moment for granted. <3 So many thoughts and prayers are with the Bryant family and all other families impacted.

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Remembering Our Sweet Pup, Jade <3

Hi, my friends. I had planned on an update post, but last night we unexpectedly lost our sweet girl, Jade, due to health issues 😪 My heart is in so much pain. I want to use this post to reflect on our special memories with her over the last thirteen years so we may never forget them. Jade was the sweetest, spunkiest, full of personality and loyal dog to ever live (I know everyyyy dog owner says that, but it’s trueee). I will never forget when we first met her … we were visiting a family friend’s home and there was the tiniest, cutest little black and white pup. We assumed it was their new dog, but my mom said, “meet your new puppy!”. My sister and I were ecstatic. I remember my mom coming into my room the next morning to wake me up for school with little tiny Jade in her arms- I was wide awake in a moment and just giddy with excitement that this pup was ours (if you need to get your middle school kids out of bed, just get puppy, hah). I couldn’t wait to get home from school just to be with her. We went between names for her … Shamu… Oreo…. Mia (this was her name for three days, but it just didn’t suit her). We finally settled on Jade, and it suited her perfectly. She was the most energetic puppy, to the point where it would alarm people, but hey- she just loved everyone SO much. She was wild and crazy in her younger days, no doubt, who can relate? She was such an easy pup to train. We taught her so many tricks—all the typical ones – “sit”, “roll-over”, “shake”, etc. …. but then we stepped up to more advance ones: “yoga”, “speak” and my personal favorite was “sneeze “on command.

She was one smart cookie. Some of my favorite memories with her were our runs together. I would take her without a leash to our favorite Northeast Ohio trails and she would trot along right next to me. When she was a super teeny puppy, my dad would laugh at the way she would clumsily run back and forth in the front yard and would narrate what she would be saying if she could talk. It would have my sister and me in stitches. I think that adds another layer of heartache- the fact that my Dad was still here and knew her- losing Jade is a reminder of the time that’s passed, and it’s painful on that level too.

Some funny quirks about Jadey:

She loved to cuddle, but she HATED if you moved your feet while she was lying on them. She’d give you a growl and a side eye. Do not dare disturb her perfect position! But she LOVED having her arms scratched. If you stopped scratching it, she would keep it out and be like, “um excuse me?” until you started scratching it again.

My mom would pry us home from college with pictures like this saying, “Jadey misses you”.

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She had an irrational fear of toasters. We have no idea where this came from, but we had to replace our toaster with a toaster oven because she’d freak out every time we brought out the actual toaster.

We couldn’t play basketball with her around because she would literally pounce (we’re talkin’ all four legs, Air Bud mode) on top of the ball every chance she could. She played way too good an offense, no getting that ball from her.

She put up with our constant, high-pitched baby talk to her. And countless kisses.

She was always up for a road trip. One of her favorite spots to go was our Grandma & Grandpa’s in Traverse City Michigan. She knew she’d be spoiled by them. We passed most of our time by swimming in the Bay, and at the edge of the dock she’d always want to join us, but was terrified to jump. She would whine as she kept peering further and further over the edge working up the courage to take the plunge. It took coaxing from all of us, and then finally she would jump in! We’d all cheer for her, and you could tell she was quite proud of herself. <3

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She LOVED peanut butter and it was so cute to watch the way her mouth smacked after she ate it (especially out of her Kong) & without a doubt, her favorite candy was Twizzlers. You could not eat them around her or she’d go berserk trying to get to them. She also loved ice cream time because she knew one of us would let her lick the bowl (but mainly Pete, that’s why she liked him best🤣) . *peep the spoon*

img_4838Every time you came home she would pretend to be excited to see you for 0.05 seconds, before running over to her bowl to ask for food, even if she’d already been fed (we overfed her now and again due to this manipulation).

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She would show up in the background of blog photos here and there, mostly featuring food, naturally 😉 She knew how to put on those “begging eyes”. And man, oh man, was she able to put on the charm when she wanted food from you!

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W-A-L-Ks with my mom were her favorite daily activity <3

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She hated getting her picture taken, and half my pics of her are blurry. It looks like we have to pin her down for most pics cause as soon as she saw that camera, she’d try to bolt.

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She’d randomly have sprinting fiascos around the house where she’d run the halls and then couch to couch. We’d end up playing games of tag with her and any rug on the floor didn’t stand a chance.

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She thought she was an alpha dog even though she was smaller than many of her friends, especially her best friend, Apollo!

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She loved anything/anywhere with mud and water. Hence, she loved visiting the cabin in Georgia where she was able to roam and adventure freely with her cousin Eli.

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I could go on and on. Jade was always there through many firsts, lasts, Netflix binges, late night studies, holidays, meals, hum-drum days, some tears and countless joyful memories. She was an interwoven part of our life and family, and there is a massive hole now without her. She will be missed beyond words, loved deeply, and remembered forever. RIP, our sweet Jadey. ❤️💔❤️

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Take Us Out to the Ball Game!

Hi, Friends! Speaking of Friends… I started the TV series for the first time. They are taking it off Netflix in 2020, and my friend Sara has been begging me to watch it. So it’s now or never! I’ve tried once before- and couldn’t get halfway through the first episode. She said to give it five and then make a decision. I am on episode 2 and already liking it a bit more than the first time around. I love having something light and fluffy to watch in the background of working on case studies, other assignments, etc. because the school content/life feels pretty overwhelming right now. It creates a nice balance.  When life itself feels stressful I tend to enjoy comedies and baking shows (that’s specific) even more- and when life is feeling more day-to-day or easy going I crave more dramatic shows.

I’m already digressing, and I haven’t even begun the post, haha. So where were we? June 10th was back to reality. My sister and I hunkered down at Peets and enjoyed our coffee while I studied and she worked on her to-do list.

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We came home early and whipped up some chicken and cheese quesadillas for DJ.

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For ourselves, we enjoyed some roasted asparagus, a seafood blend from Trader Joe’s, and some cauliflower mashed potatoes. Plus, (not pictured) but my sister made some absolutely to-die-for lentil stew. I have to get the recipe from her to share it here.

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On the morning of July 11th we enjoyed acai bowls with lotsa cashews, PB, and strawberries.

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And off to studying we go! We went to Philz coffee this time. I have always been “anti-Philz” because their coffee literally makes me shake (and I’m loyal to ol’ Peets). But we wanted to have a change of pace and gave it a go. We actually loved it- and since we both got decaf we didn’t get the coffee jitters. It was quite delicious!

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I also love that they offer oat milk! This was my first time trying it, and this might be my favorite milk alternative. It’s so wonderfully creamy.

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In the evening, it was Bachelorette night! We wrapped up around 6 pm at Philz and headed home to make dinner. Halston’s good friend (and basically my other little sister), Marissa, moved to the area the week prior. Since she is a big Bachelor franchise fan too, she came by our apartment, and I made us all tacos (half regular/half vegan) with all the fixin’s to gear up for the show. Can you guess which is which? It was such a fun night! I’m on the edge of my seat for the finale tomorrow..

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On June 12th we worked at Starbucks for the day and then went to an impromptu SJ Giants game since we finished up everything we had set to do!

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We walked around scoping out where we’d want to eat. Decisions, decisions, decisions!

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We settled on Turkey Mike’s for food… usually the go-to.

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We even got featured on their Instagram page with all our yums in hand!

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Found our seats!

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We loved our veggie subs… but I always particularly look forward to the coleslaw and baked beans from the stadium.

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We then popped into the press box to say hi to DJ & I took him a hot dog..Naturally, I had to get a photo of it before giving it to him- haha. He’s a trooper.

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And now- for the star of the show- The ever-so famous San Jose Churro!!!

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These are a “must” try if you go to a game. People say these churros are better than Disney World’s. I have never actually tried a churro before (That I can remember?), so I didn’t know much what to expect.

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It was tasty! I don’t know that personally I would go out of my way to have one- I think I’d prefer just enjoying an ice cream cone or garlic fries, but if you do like churros- these are the ones to try!

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And last up on the list- Somi Somi! Halston wanted to save this place for her last stop before flying out the next morning.

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It did not disappoint! I am forever convinced this is the best ice cream treat you can ever have.

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On June 13th, I had to drop Halston off at the airport- talk about a sad morning! But it helped knowing I would see her again in a month 🙂 I started the morning with an acai bowl again.

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Then I went to Philz in the afternoon to study with Smalls. I guess I can’t honestly say I don’t like Philz anymore, hehe.

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In the afternoon I enjoyed some tilapia with asparagus and a murasaki potato with vegan butter and Fage.

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The next few days were just a ton of studying and packing. I’m still on my stuffed sweet potato kick as an afternoon snack with vegan cheese, boca crumbles, an unnatural amount of jalapeños and Fage.

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On June 16th I was able to make it outside for my traditional walk route. I will say I am so excited to find a new route here! There is a river right near us, so I think that will be the place to start looking for one.

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On June 17th, I worked hard all day on school work, and then since I hit a mental wall, I texted Tammy to see if she could come over to watch the Bachelorette! Right before, I ate a dinner of tilapia, murasaki potato and a ton of roasted veggies.

8ac74fe7-ff30-4f03-b9a2-fe339fd5fc81During a commercial break, we tried out some face masks Tammy bought over. We laughed pretty hard at how the mask refused to stay on my face, and every time I breathed the mask around my nostrils would flare in and out. bahah. But the face mask did feel amazing! Even the next day my skin felt silky smooth. They are called 111 Skin Rose Gold.I added an Amazon affiliate link here if you’re interested!

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June 18th, back to Philz I gooo.

e8be47ab-302d-43b4-a243-a43a3bc3f3adMidday for a change of scenery I went to our apartment conference room to study. 92f9e0aa-1a7e-43fc-a255-12580e9904c0

I think I forgot to mention this, but funny(ish) story- I was trying to use up everything in our fridge/pantry before the move. I had a chicken-based dish I wanted to make for DJ later in the week and just needed a couple chicken breasts. Since he was going to the store I asked if he could pick a pack up. He got a large, I mean massive, super-sized pack of chicken … a week and a half before the move, lol. I cracked up when I saw it, and he was like, “What? You said to pick up a pack of chicken!”. I soo appreciated his effort- he just went a bit above and beyond (with enough to feed an army), but it gave us a good chuckle … or shall I say cluckle . 🐔 Anyways, I had to get creative to use it up, so for dinner one evening I made him some chicken tacos instead of beef- same ingredients otherwise. I didn’t know if it’d throw the whole taco off, but he actually really enjoyed them!

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I was craving my garden bowl per usual. This is definitely my summer go-to.

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On June 19th I made BBQ chicken with rice and a wedge salad.

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Eating amongst the boxes.

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Time to get back to studying!
Questions for you:

  • Do you like the show Friends?
  • Best churro you have ever had?

xo <3

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A Sister Day in the Bay!

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

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

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

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And we are off to the races!….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Soaking up the views along the way…

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Pic or it didn’t happen.

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

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Boba Butt! The Corgi inspired Boba shop!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question for you:

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

xo <3

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