June’s in July!…Posted in September

Hey hey!!

Continuing on through July- July 17th was a great day! I met up with a friend I met through the blog, Taylor, for the first time! She is the coolest and actually gave us many suggestions of places to go/things to do when we moved to Austin. I am so thankful we could meet before the move!

We met at June’s All Day on South Congress which is the cutest, quintessential brunch spot.

I had to try a cappuccino even though I’d probably already hit my caffeine limit for the day- it was so worth it though!

I also tried the appetizing platter with pastrami smoked salmon, onion & poppy bialy, red onion, capers, watercress, and wasabi tobiko cream cheese. I didn’t know what a bialy was,  but it’s kind of like a thin bagel… I think I like it even more than a bagel! It was all delicious, even though I ended up eating the platter like a five year old, lol. This was one of my favorite brunches in Austin without a doubt!

I couldn’t believe how quickly the time flew while we chatted away! It was such a nice lunch, and I highly recommend this spot if you visit Austin 🙂

Thanks for poppin’ in, have a great rest of the week!

Austin Explorin’ with my Sis Part 2!

Hey, friends!! Happy Labor Day- I hope you’re having a great one 🙂

Welcome to Part 2 of the weekend with my sister, Andi! Leaving off from Part 1, after we went to reflexology, we were driving back and noticed a Half Price Books in a strip mall. It’s hard for either of us to turn down a bookstore, so we zipped in and then perused the aisles for a while.

After, we both noted we had a sweet tooth acting up. So we drove to South Congress to get some sweet treats from the retro candy store, Big Top.

This place had a little bit of everything you can imagine.

We were particularly amused by these retro decade candy packs! How adorable are these?

We tried a few different kinds of fudge, chocolate bars and truffles! My favorite was the dark chocolate sea salt caramel truffle.

After this, we went back to the apartment and lounged on the rooftop while enjoying the start of the sunset.

Andi took this pic below- I think it’s just so beautiful.

We chatted away for hours, and I think we could have stayed out there for hours more, but we wanted to get down in time to see the bats take off up close! 

The bats were in hiding again that night, sadly. It also started raining and our stomachs were grumbling, so it was an easy decision to give up the waiting and head to dinner instead.

For dinner, we were both craving Asian Cuisine and stumbled upon Lin Restaurant on 6th street.

I was enamored by the beauty of the umbrellas hanging from the ceiling as we walked in.

I took this pic below on the way out after it had cleared out a little, but when we arrived at 9:00 pm there was hardly a seat open!

The water was served in these mugs- my sister loved them so much she purchased one as a souvenir!

Now for an item that will go on a “Must Try Foods in Austin” list (when I make that one day)- this mushroom bao. I dream of this appetizer, and I actually could have easily ate this as my main course.

We also shared some yummy bok choy with mushrooms to get our greens in.

Pictured below is their famous dumpling- I see why, it was delicious. But the mushroom bao is still my personal favorite.

We also split their Seafood Delight Bird Nest – the nest was made out of tarro chips. It was so good- and it was HUGE.

After such a jam-packed day we were exhausted and ready to hit the hay!

In the morning, we went to Picnik before church.

We both had our eye on their muffin basket- yummm! I had a Mayan mocha with all kinds of cozy spices & coconut milk. It went perfectly with the muffins!

We also shared a delicious lox toast to give us a protein boost for the day.

After church at Austin Stone, we drove around downtown Austin for a bit enjoying the murals, then it was time to drop off my sis at the airport. And if you’re wondering- I was surprisingly able to find the South Terminal this time without getting lost! We did leave extra early just to make sure to allow enough time to get lost if needed though 🙂

I returned home to the sweetest card ever from my sis that I’ll treasure forever!! She also left me this most amazing, luxurious goat’s milk soap.

It was a weekend for the books with lots of inside jokes, a list of things/food we classify as “life changing” & the best memories <3 Can’t wait for our next sister weekend in Colorado- hopefully Halston can make that one too 🙂 ! <3 Thanks for visiting me, Sis!!! <3

Austin Explorin’ with my Sis Part 1!

Good morning!! How are you this morning? Moving through July, one of the big highlights was my older sister, Andrea, visiting me in Austin. It’s rare we get to hang out just the two of us outside of holidays, so this was really special!

On July 9th, I had the day off clinical. I ran to get my eyebrows waxed because they were in desperate need of help. Well y’all, I didn’t think about the fact that I use an over-the-counter product with a small bit of retinol in it, and the skin under my eyebrows came right off. It almost looked like I was wearing pink eyeshadow under them. It was painful more than anything, but easy to cover up with makeup and healed quickly with aloe and moisturizer- but I learned my lesson!

Little did I know I had more lessons to be learned that day…

Andi’s flight from Colorado was scheduled to arrive around 7 pm. Unfortunately, it was delayed, but fortunately, only slightly. When she did arrive, I could not find her anywhere at the airport pick-up. We kept exchanging land marks and nothing was linking up. Another passenger mentioned to my sister that they were in an entirely different terminal about 15 minutes from the regular airport- I didn’t even know this terminal existed! So learn from my mistake pro-tip- apparently Frontier and Allegiant fly in and out of the South Terminal if you are ever picking someone up. Even after knowing about the terminal, I could not find it even after entering it into my GPS for at least 30 mins. My GPS just kept taking me in circles. We had a reservation for dinner at 9 pm, so we decided it may be best for her to grab an Uber and meet at the restaurant.

I entered the restaurant into my GPS and only a couple minutes into the route I passed a huge sign that said “South Terminal”, naturally. I frantically called my sister to let her know I was there and luckily she hadn’t called a ride yet. I zoomed in, picked her up, and we booked it to the restaurant.

On the way I realized I didn’t blow out a candle thinking we would be right back to the apartment from the airport before dinner. Aba was really close to our apartment, so I parked in the back lot and sprinted up 6 flights of stairs to put out the candle (my calves were sore the next day). Note taken- always put the candle out before leaving.

We were 15 minutes late to the reservation, but the staff was super understanding when we called to let them know we were on the way!

We finally made it!!

Aba is fairly new to Austin, and it can be tough to get a dinner reservation. I think I had to make ours a solid two months in advance. Shout out to my sister-in-law, Laura, for recommending it!!

Sista sista!This is easily one of the most beautiful restaurants I have ever been to. The decoration was breathtaking. We couldn’t stop commenting how gorgeous it was- these pics could not possibly capture how stunning it was in person!

Not only was it one of the most beautiful restaurants I’ve been to, but it was one of the best meals I had in Austin (which y’all know is saying something because that city knows good food!).We started with a couple of their dips- the hummus and whipped feta. We concluded after trying them that the hummus was spectacular, but the whipped feta was possibly…yes I will go there… life-changing. Gosh, I crave that stuff somethin’ fierce. Also- we ate the hummus and feta with veggies, pita and gluten free crackers (my sis eats gluten free). I tried one of the gluten-free crackers and may have liked them even better than the fluffy pita! The crackers had this wonderful rosemary flavor. Also, they have a full gluten free menu, so if you are gluten free, this is a really solid dinner choice in Austin.

We also tried the side of potatoes and the waiter suggested we dip them in the whipped feta- heaven I tell ya.

And it doesn’t even stop there. Next we tried the squid- which was divine. I am talking melt-in-your-mouth. 

After saying how good the food was about 24908509 times, we walked down South Congress. At this point in the evening (I think it was probably 10:30ish), SoCo was pretty empty. It was fun seeing it this late at night like that- It felt like we had the road to ourselves (and not in the eerie way like early on in the pandemic).

After a nice walk, we drove back to the apartment. My sister’s bday is in late July, but we rarely ever have the chance to celebrate in person, so we deemed this her bday night! I went to Mr. Natural’s in town (where Kevin got the AWESOME vegan muffins for the Baustin Weekend). They also had a wide array of gluten free options- so I grabbed a few for us to enjoy! We could not believe how good they were.

On July 10th we were all carb loaded and ready to do Orange Theory!

We had an excellent workout and after just walked around the South Lamar square for a while admiring the artwork.

After, we zipped over to South Congress again for some post-workout fuel. I had a hankerin’ for some coffee & Andi said a smoothie from Amy’s sounded great! I quickly grabbed an iced coffee from Jo’s.  I can’t believe I hadn’t tried this sooner. This is easily some of the best coffee in Austin. Top 3 favorite coffee shops without a doubt!

Andi loved her smoothie from Amy’s too!

We went back to the apartment, got cleaned up, relaxed for a bit and then walked across the bridge to Cooper’s BBQ in downtown Austin.

Even though I don’t eat meat, these BBQ spots have the best sides! My favorite is still Terry Black’s, but this was darn good. Their coleslaw and mac n’ cheese was my favorite.

If you didn’t use half a stack of napkins, did you even BBQ?!

We grabbed a quick picture of Mr. Cooper himself.

To top off a wonderful afternoon, Andi suggested we go to reflexology. I have never done reflexology before and wasn’t familiar with it. It was awesome though- it’s basically a long foot massage!

And that wraps up our first part of the weekend.

Much more to come in part two 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Did Someone Say Coffee? Teal House, Mañana, Epoch & Two Hands!

Hey, hey! I was going into this post with the intention of doing a full June recap, and then I realized I had more from June to share than I initially thought, and then I realized mostly all I did in June was go to clinical and study in coffee shops. I had a mission to try as many coffee shops as possible in Austin before leaving. Spoiler Alert- Austin has some good coffee. So, without further a-brew, let’s get into it.

June 2nd I woke up early to walk on the treadmill and get some lectures in before clinical.

On June 3rd, I had a comically unfortunate morning (thankfully it did turn around!). It started by waking up extra-early to be extra-productive. But then I realized I was out of coffee (bad enough, I know). I usually have one cup before going to coffee shops- which I know seems silly, but I have my second cup at the shop and then am set for the day on caffeine. Anyway, I proceeded to burst a tube of makeup all over my bathroom.  Granted, how was I supposed to function without any caffeine in my system? I then went to a coffee shop in town and the barista didn’t arrive to open the shop on time (said another customer standing outside)- so I went to another. I did get a quick laugh out of this stop sign I spotted on my way.

The other shop didn’t open for 40 mins, so I sat in my car and waited while reviewing some of my class notes—  Only to find out once they did open that it was take out only (no sitting in to study). As I was walking back to my car, I watched a bird poop on my driver’s side window. Others in line outside saw it too, so I had to do the walk of shame back to that car being marked by the bird as my own. Then again, isn’t that supposed to be good luck?!

So now I had no option but to go to the car wash. I went to one- it was closed even though it said open online. I went across town to another- they did not accept the only card I had on me. So at this point I went home, got some cash- went back to the car wash and then found another coffee shop.

Things did start to turn around at this point (thank you, bird). The coffee shop (Aka my saving grace that day) was Teal House on South Congress.

It wasn’t crowded at all when I arrived, so I found some perfect study seating. The baristas were exceptionally friendly too. I took one sip of my cafe au lait and the unfortunate morning melted away.

I got to work on my material for class, and then a few minutes later one of the baristas came over with a free cinnamon roll. They are known for them, and wowza- I see why! YUM.

A few minutes after that I received an e-mail from my prof explaining she was pushing back due dates on an a couple assignments. This was a huge blessing since I was heading to spend time with my mom that weekend, so it afforded us more quality time together.

June 4th through the 6th I was in Keller at my mom and Pete’s- I shared about that fun weekend last week if you are interested in reading about it!

The rest of the week was focused on class and clinicals, but my mom was in Austin June 9th for work, and we had an unforgettable dinner at Café Nosé.

She brought with her some storage tubs that she had kept of mine since high school. While going through a photo album, I found these pictures from 2011 of me and DJ. LOLLL. I mean…..the lewks, the running tan lines, the posing. It’s too much. I can’t believe I’m sharing this on the internet.

Here’s one that’s a little more normal I suppose, lol.

Alright, jumping back into this decade. June 11th was a day of running errands. I picked up this Olipop soda at the grocery store- the strawberry vanilla was tasty!

I decided to treat myself to a study-free night that evening. It started with a long walk along Ladybird Lake.

I then did a soothing face mask! Idk if these masks actually do anything, but it completed the illusion of a relaxing night at home.

I also lit up a candle from Whole Foods. I rarely shop at Whole Foods, but I do like to see what fun little finds I can get there when I stop in on occasion. I think I caught up on some blogs that evening and probably watched some trash reality TV if I’m taking an honest guess.

On June 12th, I was craving some baked goods when I woke up. I looked up places with a good bakery selection within walking distance and discovered Mañana.

I walked down South Congress on the beautiful morning and my GPS took me to this coffee shop tucked away off the normal path. I had no idea this was here!

It was so cute and actually had a good amount of open seating.

I had a hard time deciding what to get, so I figured I would get both the turmeric and matcha latte along with their kouign-amann and chocolate croissant and have breakfast set for two days.

They were sooo good. I was pleasantly surprised. I think it’s tough to beat any SF bakeries, but this definitely gave me a good fix!

On June 16th, this ad popped up. I actually was feeling overwhelmed at this point in the summer, so I thought it was kinda cool, but also kinda creepy? I do find it very unnerving when ads read my mind, but this one was sweet, lol.

That evening I went out on a walk on Ladybird enjoying the evening.

June 18th I went to Orange Theory on South Lamar in the morning. I did OT one day per week over the summer. It was gifted to me for Christmas, and I finally was able to use my sessions! I loved it soo much & it really gave me something to look forward to every week. I had to be intentional to stay out of the apartment because too much time in the apartment alone causes me to get in my head.

June 19th I tried another coffee shop a little further away- Epoch.

I enjoyed my iced coffee while working on writing on the blog and getting some school work done.

That evening I went on a nice long run enjoying the absolutely gorgeous evening.I timed my runs around sunset, and they were some runs I will never forget!- the more tamed heat, the spectacular golden hour and good music while running off the stress of the day.

June 21st I walked down South Congress to try a new coffee shop in town- Two Hands.

How adorable is the sitting area?

I tried the mushroom latte, which was actually way too sweet for me. Worth trying, but I would stick to regular coffee next time.

Oh, and last thing- I just got a Nespresso after hearing how much people love it (I also needed to replace my Keurig), but I sadly don’t think it’s for me! The coffee tastes so bitter and strong and the caffeine content seems way too high compared to what I’m used to. I like to have a few cups of coffee through the day, but if I do that with Nespresso I get sick to my stomach and can’t sleep. If you use Nespresso, how do you make it & what are your favorite pods? I’m leaning toward returning but figured I would ask before I do!

Hiking Through a Weekend in Keller, TX!

Heyyy, all! Thank you for the warm welcome back to Ohio!

I have been eager for a long time to write this post. One of my favorite weekends this summer was spent with my mom in Keller (Pete was missed!- he was back in OH working on a job during this time). When I arrived on June 4th, my mom had the most beautiful and colorful lunch set up for us! The spread consisted of an incredible avocado vegan chik’n salad, mixed fruit, a homemade vegan zucchini cake and hibiscus tea- yummm! I told her I needed that recipe for the zucchini cake, seriously some of the best cake I’ve ever tried.

I studied for an exam in the afternoon, and then we went to Golden Thai for dinner. WOW- this Thai was phenomenal!

My mom was dog-sitting a friend’s dog named Duke that weekend-he is a sweetie, and it was so much fun having him around!

The morning of June 5th we went to Orange Theory together and then followed it with a delish breakfast of avocado toast and fruit.I took an exam after breakfast and then we headed out for a hike. We did the Canyon Ridge hike in Fort Worth which was awesomeee. 

We thought it was pretty cool how this looked just like a natural doorway into the next part of the hike.

We even stumbled upon the Rest-A-While Shelter, which I think is just a great name for a pavilion in the middle of a long hike. Half the structure was no longer there, but hey, the invitation to rest-a-while remained.

If you’d like to read more about the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps, I have linked some information here.

It was no joke of a hike- I think it was about 6 miles roundtrip with a ton of elevation. We had wonderful views and great conversation.

After, we went to a Mexican restaurant, Mariachi’s, that had a… drumroll.. all vegan menu! We took full advantage.

We had to try multiple items- first up- chips and salsa, of course.

Next, we tried the pineapple burrito- this was my favorite of all we tried.

Next were the jackfruit tacos- which were certainly delicious, but the burrito had my heart.

Also on the side we tried the elote- this is also a must-order.

On our way home, we decided we were in much need for an afternoon pick-me-up. We kept our eyes out for a coffee shop and right off the highway was Black Rifle Coffee. We decided to give it a shot!

It was good coffee & gave us that burst of energy we needed!

Duke was so funny-he kept begging  incessantly for my coffee cup. Who knew dogs loved coffee so much.

Once I finished my coffee, I gave him the empty cup to see what he’d do with it, and he just took the sleeve and ran off, lol. Guess it wasn’t the coffee he was after, after all!

When we returned home, we cleaned up then started a new show together- The Circle. We were hooked after a couple episodes. In the evening, we walked around downtown Roanoke, love this place!

It ended up raining so we went back home a little early and watched The Circle while eating delicious leftovers for dinner.

Sunday, June 6th, we went to Summer Moon for some amazing vegan breakfast treats and coffees.

After Church, we went to HG Supply Co. This place was ah-may-zing. Next time we visit I said we have to bring the whole family here- I know they’d all love it.

We beat the brunch rush –these seats filled up very quickly after we arrived. I loved the industrial feel, and there were places to play corn hole and ESPN playing on most TVs. Super chill and relaxed with excellent food.

The hummus was really good, and I had to try the crab cake toast which did not disappoint.

Our favorite was the build-your-own bowl. We loaded up the veggies and had this insanely good dressing- I wish I knew what it was because I’d buy it by the bottle!

When we returned home we watched some more episodes of The Circle, and then it was time for me to head back to Austin.

On the way home I stopped by Buc-ee’s since I’d never been, and it’s pretty famous around TX. It’s basically a big convenience store with shopping, food and fun finds. It was busy busy; I probably picked the worst time to go, but it is a fun place if you have a few minutes to spare.

Then it was back to clinical the next day.

Question for you!  

  • Do you have any favorite hiking trails?

~Mackenzie

Christmas in July!! (Christmas 2020)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That evening we enjoyed some appetizers before the star of the show…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was not very good (like most things that require a modicum of athleticism), but I semi-improved by the end. Everyone else picked it up quickly.

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

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

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

DJ won every round-he was sooo good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’d love to know: 

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

Weekend with DJ!

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

They also have several food trucks on site too.

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’d love to know:

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

Family Trip to NC & Graduation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love the retro vibes here!

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


We also tried their chocolate chip pancakes- YUM.

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

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

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

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

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

On campus #1

On campus #2

On campus #3 

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

I’d love to know:

  • Do you have any family trips planned this year?

Austin Staycation!

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

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

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

Anyway, here we gooo!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I started with their beet dish that was soo yummy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those pancakes! Perfection, along with everything else.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We didn’t want this day to end!

But then our stomachs started growling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’d love to know: 

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

Father’s Day 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

We started the meal by sharing this outrageously good guac.

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

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

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

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

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

I’d love to know: 

  • How was your weekend?

<3