San Fran & San Jose in 23 hours? You betchya!

Hey guys! I am SO stoked to share this post with you all! My dear friend from college came to visit all the way from ninder nanders (nickname DJ and I use for Indiana). Man, oh man, I missed this girl. We haven’t seen each other since graduation last year. That’s just too much time I do say. She’s my kindred spirit in many ways, and easily one of my favorite people on planet earth to be with. On Monday I worked all day, and after the relief of knowing I was in the clear, I cleaned out my closet and went through clothes to give to good will/ take to Plato’s. Love me some cash for clothes, ya feel? I found some shirts that I was deciding if I wanted to give away, but actually ended up liking them now and kept them after not trying them on for years. 

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Sarah arrived at about 1230 at Tuesday at the San Jose airport right down the road! We headed to SF to explore the city. I felt so bad because this was Sarah’s first time here, and we could not see the doggone Golden Gate. I have never seen such dense fog before! It was crazy, but still somberly beautiful.

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She’s so flipping cute I can’t even take it. COME BACK, SAR!

After popping over to the non-existent Golden Gate, we went to the loyal, fog-resistant Ghirardelli square. Chocolate will never let you down.

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We grabbed the free samples of the pumpkin spice milk chocolate (uhm, yum) and then explored. The inside of the Ghirardelli shop is so neat- it has a very 50s/60s-esque vibe, and you can actually watch the chocolate churning which fulfills my childhood Charlie-and-The-Chocolate factory dreams.

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They are known for their massive, and delicious, sundaes, but it was a wee bit chilly out for us to grab one. If you want to see pictures of the sundaes in all their glory, you can check out our experience here!

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BUT what can warm ya up better than a nice glass of wine? There is a cute little winery, Wattle Creek Winery, in Ghirardelli square that I’ve actually wanted to try for some time now. I was excited when Sarah suggest we stop for some- told yaaaaa- we twins.

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It’s super unique and has eclectic vibes. It has a mish-mash of decor and colors that could easily come off as tacky, but somehow the way it all pulls together it is nothing but modern class.

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This is a picture below of their wattle leaf, learn something new everyday!

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After hanging out in the square, we headed down to the pier.

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Naturally, I had to show Sar Fisherman’s Wharf and the famous sea lions.

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They were being super lazy for us. Prolly grieving the fact that the Golden Gate up and vanished like the rest of us.

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We caught glimpses of Alcatraz and then headed down the pier to the shops. If you know me, you know I have a weird love for sock shops.

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We finished the walk down to the Ferry building and then turned around to walk back while soaking in the views along the Embarcadero.

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We were pretty ravenous after all the walking and decided to try Crab House on the pier. I have never been here before, but the bibs drew us in (you’ll see what I mean ;)).

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The crab house can be described in one word: FUN. It is decked out in themed crabs everywhere you turn, the staff is incredibly friendly, the views of the bay were fantastic, and the food. OH. THE. FOOOOOD!

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We decided to split a few different items from the menu to get a varied taste of everything. This calamari was the bomb, it was the definition of flavorful and perfectly crispy. 🤤

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We also tried their crab chowder. We chowed down like we were from out of town. It was insanely delish.😋

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And, of course, we couldn’t pass up their iron roasted mussels and shrimps. Holy maloly. The word tasty has a new definition for me after these little suckers.

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THE BIBS! Now do you understand why we had to come here?

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We actually survived the whole meal without getting anything on them (I can’t believe it either), and ended up taking some bibs for the road. What didn’t we take with us? Oh, the food, because we demolished every last lick.

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Walking back to the car we were unable to escape the mouth-watering scent of baking bread wafting from the Boudin bakery. As we passed the window we noticed an alligator made of pieces of bread.

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When we came home we chatted on the balcony sippin’ on wine and eating some ice cream. 

In the morning we went to (if you are a long time follower you can probably guess)- Bill’s!!!!!! The actual best breakfast place in the whole world.

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We split one of their mimosas (it’s pretty essential for a brunch at Bill’s).

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Sarah had their cinnamon roll french toast. Oh. my. word. It was insanely good. Like there are actually no words to describe the deliciousness that is their cinnamon roll french toast.

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I usually get their Greek omelette, but this time I had their Salmon Benedict with a bagel, capers, onions, smoked salmon, and poached eggs. It hit the spot. I think I muffled out a “mmmm mm” with every bite. It’s easily the best salmon benedict I have ever had.

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And, of course, I had to show Sar around the Row after!

At about 1215 I dropped her off at the airport. It was a hard goodbye, but I was tremendously thankful for the short time we had together. It meant so much that she made the time to come see me & the Bay!

This morning (Thursday morning) I stopped by Peet’s to grab a cafe au lait before my residency class. It was super nice to see everyone from my cohort, and also nice to have a class day vs. in hospital day.

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Hope you all have a beautiful weekend! I will be working all weekend long, but living vicariously through you!

xo ❤

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A Santa Cruz Kinda Weekend

Hey ya’ll. Happy Sunday Funday to ya. I hope you all are safe in this craziness that is happening literally everywhere. I don’t know about you, but I am experiencing such tremendous unrest. I feel the heaviness of everything happening, and it is crushing me. Compounding the heaviness that is impacting our world, country, friends, fellow bloggers, and family, there is the uncertainty, fear, and confusion I am facing in my current circumstances. I will explain more on that later. However, today in Church we had a sermon that made it near impossible for me to keep the tears at bay. Our pastor offered such encouragement and truth to grasp during these times and emphasized trusting God’s sovereignty through it all (when they post it I’ll share the link). It was just what I needed to hear. Additionally, praising Jesus with fellow believers was the most peace I have felt in a couple weeks now.  My job doesn’t allow me the ability to go to Church most Sundays. But when I can it helps me find new perspective, helps reveal truth in spite of human emotion. I have grown pretty apathetic and exhausted as of late. I plan on doing a six month recap soon- September 20th is officially 6 months of being a neurosurgical RN in an IICU. My probation period ends tomorrow, and I’ll find out if they are keeping me on or not. I am just lying it at Jesus’s feet. That’s all I can do. I don’t have the strength or energy to do anything but leave it in His hands at this point in the program, at this point in life. I’ll keep you all posted. I hope this doesn’t sound melodramatic- I’m just whooped.

Anyways, on my way home from Church I had a renewed sense of energy that I needed considering tomorrow is gonna be extra-extra stressful. So for now- I just want to escape and share the most beautiful moments from the past couple weeks with you all, and of course, reminisce over all the yumz that have been devoured in that time. Bon appetite 🤗😋

On August 30th, where I left off on my last update post, I went to dinner with my good friend Tammy for some girl time and super savory eats. We hopped over to Aqui, which is basically just down the road from DJ and I. I have no idea how we haven’t gone here before, because ohhh my lanta, manna from heaven may have actually fell on my plate.🤤

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I ordered their salmon salad with organic greens-crunchy cabbage mix, feta, lemon vinaigrette, herb aioli, cherry tomatoes, garbanzo-jicama-edamame mix and cucumber. Their guac and chips is actually new level too. I mean, come on now, it’s actually glowing in the picture. Now if that doesn’t scream heaven ordained tex-mex, i just don’t know what does.

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After, we popped across the street to a dessert shop called Hechaa. Tammy suggested we try their Mochi! I have never had Mochi, but I hear it’s delicious, and I’m always down for a new foodie adventure. Anyone ever had it?! Sadly, they were sold out. No worries though, we still took pictures with their gorgeous flower wall like the couple of basics we are.

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August 31st I met up with a great family friend at Starbucks, who is also an RN. I talked about all that’s going on, my struggles, my thoughts, etc. She provided some awesome encouragement and advice moving forward. I’m excited to share sort of our tentative plans/thoughts for the future with you all (soonish)!

On September 1st, DJ had the evening off early too! We whipped up some ‘zas with Naan bread and all the fixings. He made a caprese one with tomatoes/mushrooms/sun-dried tomatoes/fresh buffalo mozzarella/garlic/olive oil/sprinkle of parmesan, and I made one with goat cheese/hummus/sun-dried tomato/spinach/kalamata olive/garlic/mushroom/balsamic glaze. His looked prettier haha.

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I worked all Saturday (9/2) and Sunday (9/3) , but luckily DJ finally got a weekend of R & R. He spent some time with family and I was able to join on the fun Monday (9/4) for labor day! We just relaxed and ate great food. The rest of labor day we cleaned the house, did some laundry, and watched some shows on HBO.

I worked Tuesday (9/5) and Wednesday (9/6). Wednesday was especially hard. I lost it during report to the oncoming shift. Luckily, the nurse was so gentle and sweet with me and helped me catch my breath. I had about eight critical lab values over the course of the day, an infiltrated IV, a patient whose wound seriously dehisced, a newly post-operative patient admit (if you’re a nurse you understand the challenge), an isolation room with double insulin checks, and about 100 other things that went wrong that I won’t bore you with. It was rough. Real rough. Quite possibly one of the most difficult days I’ve had yet- and working 12 hour shifts 4/5 days is exhausting beyond belief.

Anywho, when I went out for a run on Thursday (9/7), I saw this little note at the cross walk. I don’t know why it meant so much to me. But it was just a nice thought that someone took the time to place that there and it happened to fall in my path that day.

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And even though autumn is right around the corner, I couldn’t help but stop and admire these beauties!

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It’s the little things that really bring me joy lately.

I’ve been trying to use up all of our food the pantry/fridge before making a big trip. For a few nights I stir fried alll kinds of veggies together, tofu, and hummus. It was super filling and tasty too!

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Friday (9/8) I worked on our research project for the program, cleaned the house a smidge, and did some laundry. But I was pretty antisocial and not super in the mood to do anything after the chaotic days at work.

But finally, the highlight of my weekend (besides Church today) was yesterday (9/9). DJ and I finally, FINALLY, FINALLLY had a full day together! We wanted to get away, and where better to get away to than Santa Cruz for a beach day?! I started the morning early with a short warm up run followed by an insanity session. Shaun T. kicked my booty and I was ready to get some fuel. We threw on our baseball caps, I skipped on doing any makeup, and made an avocado smoothie. (I hope ya’ll don’t take a shot every time I mention this smoothie on this blog, ya’ll would be six sheets to the wind). I also took along a slice of Ezekiel bread and an RX bar for the road.

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When we arrived at Santa Cruz we were greeted by the comforting summer aroma of everything fried and the sound undulating screams from roller-coaster fanatics. We walked around the Boardwalk, took in the views of the crashing water, and claimed a cozy spot on the sandy strip as our own.

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We brought books along and decided to just read and lounge allll afternoon. I’m still making my way through Goblet of Fire. Every night we have been watching Game of Thrones (yes, I know, it’s horrible. I’m not endorsing it). But due to this, I haven’t been reading at night as often, and when I try to I usually conk out. I will make it through though! (I have a deal with myself and DJ that when I make it through all the books we can go to Harry Potter world).

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DJ brought a book too and we read and napped on and off for the afternoon. It was perfect. I was so thankful he suggested this for the day!

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DJ decided after a few hours he was craving a dog on a stick.

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What’s your favorite fare food? I think mine might be garlic fries, but at the time I was seriously craving some seafood!

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We hopped over to the Sock Shop on the wharf, which is my personal favorite boutique. I loveee socks, and I may have found the perfect pair for me….. 

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Of course we had to stop and see the little sea lions (that’s DJ’s favorite part).

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We had worked up a serious appetite by this point, and I, like I said, had a serious seafood hankerin’. We decided to try the famous FireFish Grill. We have tried tons of places on the Wharf (Olita’s, Gilda’s, Stagnaro Bro’s (twice here and here)), but had yet to try this pretty famous one!

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They immediately brought out this bread assortment, so naturally they won my heart.❤️

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Everyone around us was having a bloody mary, and they looked good although I’ve never had one. So I thought, what the heck, let’s try it! So DJ and I gave it a go. It was super yummmm. It had tons of spice and the rim was salted with a mixture that looked like sand (suh cute, right?). We didn’t finish the boogar though- it was huge and like a meal in and of itself, but it definitely complimented the food well!

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Rachel, one of my best friends from Ohio, loves Bloody Mary’s so I was excited to share with her that I actually tried one. She has been blowing up my phone with pictures of homemade bloody mary mixes ever since. Also Anna, I can say I had one in honor of your bday 😉

DJ’s seafood tacos didn’t photograph well. (The crowd boos). But he loved them! I tried the seafood kabob, called the FireFish Grill! This had skewered charbroiled prawns, scallops, salmon, fresh fish, bell pepper and onion. Hint, hint, when a restaurant names a dish after its name, it’s probably a solid option. I think I said “this is amazing” maybe six and a half times through the meal. The half because I’m sure a mouth full of the deliciousness cut me off at some point.

Oh, and I definitely took the leftover scallops to go- (Bach. in Paradise fans knows what I’m referencing).

img_1199After our scrumptious feast, we walked around the pier a bit more, soaked up the last bit of the beach breeze and sun, then headed home.

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^ DJ’s legs got horribly burnt. I am a nut about sunscreen, so I made sure not to let him live it down after he persisted that he didn’t need it before hand.🙆🏼😜

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I’m so thankful for him. I know I say that all the time, but I don’t think know I wouldn’t make it through this year without him.

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We jammed to oldies tunes on the way home, including a few faves You Make My Dreams by Daryl Hall & John Oates, some Uptown Girl (Billy Joel <3), Flash Light by Parliament, and Wake Me up Before You Go-Go. 🎶 If you ever need some feel good in your life, listen to those tunes. Promise you’ll feel better.

Blog Birthdays: 🎂🎉

To sweet Anna, from Actively Anna, Happy belated birthday dear on July 27th! (Soooo belated). I hope it was absolutely wonderful! Thank you for being such an amazing friend here since the beginning. I absolutely love our chats ❤ So thankful for you, dear!

Lovely Lisa, from Life of an El Paso Woman, happy birthday tomorrow!!!!! Thank you for your love, encouragement, and conversations always! I hope this birthday is the best yet. This is your year! This last one is put to rest, and I believe this one will bring the best blessings for you. Sending you so much love and birthday hugs!

xo ❤

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A Sun Basket Review & A Fox Dog!

Hey hey heyyyy!! How’s it kicking?

First things first- sometimes I feel slightly unsettled posting some superficial, light hearted posts when such tragic events are occurring all over our world, ya know? Especially right now with all the events that occurred in Charlottesville, the flooding and the storm in Texas, things in Syria, etc. etc……it’s just heart wrenching. Unfathomable. I know there are always tragic happenings; it’s inevitable. But my heart just breaks at it all, and I feel almost silly taking pictures of food and being so grossly removed from it all. I was talking with a friend about it and they made a good point that if we never took time to celebrate the little things in life and only focused on the bad, what type of existence would that be? It’s true. It’s important to acknowledge, be aware, and help however and wherever we can in this broken world. But it’s ok to also take time and celebrate beauty. The good, the bad, the terrible, the beautiful, the painful, the uplifting, the fun, the heart wrenching, the hilarity, the ugly, the superficial, the deep, and even the mundane makes up all things we call life, and it should all be acknowledged. Blogging is such a great escape for ourselves to write, to celebrate with others the beauty in their lives, and to  encourage one another too. ❤ If other bloggers have ever felt similarly or have any thoughts please share them with me. ❤

I have a few fun happenings that have occurred over the past month or so, but with the traveling to Texas, and work in between, I haven’t done a recap! This post is incredibly saturated with edible items- just FYI. Sending all ya’ll fair warnings if you get the tummy grumbles easy-I highly encourage you grab a snack now! Nurse’s orders.

On Wednesday, August 9th, One of DJ’s best friends from growing up, Grant, (also best man in our wedding) and his girlfriend came to California for work, and we had a nice dinner at the Counter one night. This is easily one of DJ and I’s favorites since we discovered it in NYC. You see this list below? You literally build your own burger with whatever protein/bun/cheese/sauces/toppings/etc., and the options are endless. It’s both a foodie dream, but an indecisive foodie’s nightmare. But the dream trumps the nightmare, I promise 😉

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I usually make a vegan veggie burger with a multigrain or ciabatta bun with nearly all the veggies, smoked gouda cheese, and coleslaw with a side of sweet potato fries. This day was scorching hot, so I was fancying salad and put it over greens with a side of balsamic vinaigrette.

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The next day, I had to work, but DJ gave them the grand tour of the area and took them up Mt. Hamilton for the gorgeous views.

Now, I am not proud of this, but I am a hard core fan of the show Vanderpump Rules on Bravo. One of the cast members, Stassi, has a podcast and her show had a promo code for Sun Basket. I decided to give it a try and it was a great decision!

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It comes with an actual little cookbook instead of individual sheets like Blue Apron or Green Chef. It keeps it all condensed in one place, so that’s pretty nice! Plus you get recipes even for the boxes you may not have bought (the entire summer series is in one cookbook).

Quality: In terms of the produce, it is non-GMO, organic, and healthy. However, because of it’s organic nature, the ingredients started going bad within a couple days. I had to make sure to make all the meals right away. But it was all immensely flavorful and fresh.

The first meal we made was the New Orleans style Shrimp Creole. I gobbled this one right up! I think it was my favorite of the three.

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Quantity: In terms of quantity, the servings were fantastic. Since these delivery systems aren’t exactly cheap, you want to make sure to get enough for leftovers if possible. This did not skimp of quantity and we all know leftovers can sometimes be ever more delicious than the first go around.

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The second meal we made were the steak tacos with zucchini-scallion salsa and lime-yogurt. This was DJ’s favorite. I obviously didn’t have the tacos, but I loved the zucchini-scallion salsa!

Health: By health standards, these are winners. All the meals are approved by a nutritionist that works for the company, and the emphasis is on spices, dynamic flavor pairing, and enhancement of natural flavors without adding sugars and added fats.

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And last, but certainly not least, we had the penne with moroccan spiced chickpeas and tomatoes. I liked this more than DJ, but I love love love the blend of cinnamon, cardamom, and garlic together.

Speed: These meals were easily the quickest to make of any that I have tried from Blue Apron to Green Chef to Hello Fresh. I was in and out of the kitchen within about twenty minutes with these ones. I was shocked at how little effort was put forth to get a healthy, scrumptious, and satisfying meal.

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Overall impression: 8/10. I will certainly be trying Sun Basket again! The only real con was the fact that the vegetables need to be used almost immediately upon arrival. Besides that I was super impressed with the service. Blue Apron meals are heartier and have more of a “comfort meal” factor, but they aren’t quite as health focused.

Anyone else use it and want to give their experience?!

Now fast forward past the Texas trip….vrrrroooooommmmm.

On August 21st, DJ and I both had the day off! We went to Stein’s, the new restaurant near our apartment. It’s one of those places that I crave. It’s ridiculously yumm.img_0778-1

I ordered the quinoa & butternut squash salad with napa cabbage / jicama / cilantro / avocado relish / pumpkin seeds / chili lime vinaigrette. I was craving something crunchy, cold, light, and sweet! It hit the spot!

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DJ tried their cornmeal battered cage-free Petaluma fried chicken with slaw and three sauces: The Green Goblin, Wings of Fire, and Sweet Samui. They have a long list of options to choose from with sauces.

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August 22nd, my good friend Sara came by to celebrate her getting a job! Woohoo! We watched the show The Sinner, with Jessica Biel (a psychological thriller- gripping as can be!), and nommed on tons of snacks while playing with the cutest little puppy in the whole world. She was dog sitting and brought this little Foxy lady over.

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Naturally had to whip up a batch of the cookies too 😉

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One Wednesday, August 23rd, I spent the morning lounging for the first time in a while. It was so nice to unwind and take a few deep breaths. I had the house clean, the laundry done, and the groceries stocked for the rest of the week.

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In the afternoon, I went on a hike with DJ’s stepmom! It was much needed chit-chat time. We went to San Antonio Nature Preserve and hiked about seven miles. Quick insane story though- remember last year when I had that scare with the mountain lion (probably a bob cat?). Well, when we were hiking up that same trail, a man came down running past us and told us there had been a mountain lion attack near the top of the hill on the trail (a poor little deer). The unnerving thing was it was in the exact.same.spot I had heard the snarl. I had a hard time sleeping that night- it just didn’t sit well with me. I had convinced myself that it was a bobcat all this time, but the truth is it very well may have been a mountain lion that I had heard.

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After braving the hike (on a different path, of course) and seeing tons of wildlife from deer to turkeys and colorful birds, we went back to our apartment and fueled back up with avocado smoothies, protein cookies, and tons of laughs. Since I was heading back to work the next day, this really helped get me into better spirits and calmed my nerves a great deal.

I worked on the 24th and 25th. BUT- we had a pizza party because we beat our unit record of no patient falls on the unit! WOOHOOOOO!!!!!!!

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Also, a coworker brought in fresh figs. I’ve never had figs before, but I think I have a new addiction. They are so delicious and sweet. If you haven’t tried them- doooo ittttt! SO TASTY!

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DJ has been extra busy with his job lately, and is currently running the marketing department (GO DEEJ!). I’m so proud of him; he’s working ridiculously hard right now. We don’t see each other much, but hopefully when the season settles down we will more!

On Saturday, August 26th, I could barely bring myself out of bed. That’s when I decided to get my creative juices flowing and made the running post. I also caught up a bit on blogging, went for a nice long run, and watched movies (yep, can you believe it?!). Usually after a couple days in a row of working, I need a day with near zero human interaction. It’s hard to be “on” and at the whim of four human beings for nearly 24 hours straight (with about 9 hours in between shifts). I know hospitals aren’t hotels, but I really do think patients think they are sometimes, lol. I feel like I play waitress/maid/person jus’ tryna’ keep you alive all at the same time. (Hmmm, sounds like motherhood? I think I am getting a little taste, haha). I don’t mind though- I really do love my patients. Even the extra-needy ones 😉 But on that first day off, even DJ knows to just not say a word to me.

Sunday, August 27th,  I accidentally overslept through church, but watched Case for Christ on Amazon! SO GOOD! I squeezed in an excellent insanity workout, went to get my bridesmaid dress fitted from David’s bridal, did some groceries, and had a hankerin’ for MOD Pizza for dinner. It was a much more productive day than Saturday, and kept my mind preoccupied for the next couple days of work. (If I sit around, I really tend to work myself up about it).

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On this past Monday and Tuesday, I was assigned to NCOR (neuro close observation room). I always get super-extra nervous when I’m in that room because it’s the sickest patients on the floor that require 24-hour, eyes on, observation. The first day left me sobbing in the bathroom, but the second day was much better, and I walked away feeling elated. ‘Tis nursing.

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I now am resting up a bit before working this weekend, and have a couple fun things planned these next couple days before heading back (I’ll recap in the next post).

Who’s ready for fall?!?!!?

Blog Birthdays:

Happy Happy Happy Happy Birthday to my girl, JJ, from Sitbackandjustlive on August 24th! Girl- I am SO thankful for you. You speak such encouragement and love into my life and sooo many others! You inspire everyone with your zest for life, and thank goodness for all your makeup tips & vicarious Boston adventures! LOVE YOU,  beautiful!!! Hope FL is treating you, real well. XOXO

xo ❤

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Lobbies & Robbers & Bearnaise, OH MY!

Happy happy Thursday to yas! I’m currently sitting outside in my little basket, drinking an avocado smoothie & eating protein choc. chip cookies while watching the sun come up over the mountains. I am utterly content on the heels of having two incredibly hard days in the hospital. I received a couple of timely texts from DJ’s family that meant the world and gave me the boost I needed to make it through. I am so doggone blessed to be able to call DJ’s family my own. And now I am pumppped to share this past weekend with ya’ll!

So, DJ and I are celebrating our anniversary in about a week here, but this past weekend was the only one that lined up for us to celebrate! We kind of considered Tahoe our anniversary trip, so we decided to do something more local in SF- a staycation if you will!

We staycayed at the JW Marriott hotel in SF. The lobby’s interior was gorgeous!

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We like to try out different hotels because each one brings a different experience. Even though this hotel had the best amenities (great fitness room, awesome food pantry, bathroom, etc.), DJ and I agree Le Meridian and the Fairmont surpassed this one by far at a similar price (although we did grab those two on Groupon!). SO if you are looking at staying in SF, consider those two options before JW Marriott. Our fridge was missing & a light was out. Plus the overall aesthetic and experience was better at the other two!

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For dinner we walked to Alfred’s, just about a mile from Union Square.

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Holy maloly- this place was the bomb dot com. Open since 1928, the moment you step in, the giant chandeliers put off an old fashioned, classy ambiance that throws you back in time. The hostess and servers were so friendly. The food- man, oh man, the food was too good! They are also famous for their cocktails.

They served the the butter in the shape of a flower- now that’s a fancy first! I have never seen this done before, but I am convinced the butter was extra tasty!

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We started with their shrimp cocktail and tater tots. These were the fanciest gosh darn tots we have ever had with creme fraiche & smoked trout roe. I do think the appetizers were overpriced, but all in the name of a fantastic experience, right?! I say the tots were good- but the shrimp cocktail is where it was at! If we go back I would love to try the smoked black cod!

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Our main courses were absolutely exquisite. I told DJ this may have been one of my favorite fish dishes. (I feel like I always say this, but honestly- this was out of this world!) I had the Petrale Sole with a lemon caper butter sauce. It reminded me of a lemon picatta chicken my mom used to make for us growing up. It was perfection. Mouth watering perfection.

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DJ ordered their filet with baernaise sauce. I tried the sauce and it was heavenly.

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I think our favorite part of the meal (or close second, because the fish may have been my fave) was the creamed spinach. It was maybe the best we have had. It came with bacon bits on top, but it was easy for me to just eat around them. The panko breadcumbs on top mixed with the perfect amount of savory and herb created a flavorous explosion that is hard to even describe. If you are in SF, stopping by Alfred’s for their creamed spinach alone is a must.

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It was a perfect anniversary dinner!

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As we were walking back to the hotel we saw the craziest thing. There was robbery (orchestrated by a couple) who ran into one of the shoe stores lining the road near Union Square. We heard the yelling and when we turned the corner we saw shoes & boxes flying everywhere and the woman and man arguing aggressively with the store owner…. things started getting physical. The owner was chasing the woman, and the man of the two was quickly to the defense. They were essentially in the middle of the road, but closer to the side that we had to walk. Along with a few other cautious people, we walked toward the scene hoping we could get past without any issues. As we got within about fifteen feet we saw the man of the pair reach behind him into his backpack. DJ and I immediately turned around and sprinted back toward the other side. He easily could have been reaching for a gun, and we weren’t in the mood to be in the center of a downtown SF shooting. We ran back toward the corner and decided to cross the road and take the scenic route back. The guy didn’t pull out a gun, it was a pole of sorts (not sure what exactly), but he started chasing the owner with it. Finally we heard the police sirens and kept trying to peep from other side of the street to watch the action. Sociology at it’s best. #bystandereffect #citylife

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The whole experience really worked up a sweet tooth for the two of us. We decided to grab dessert at none other than our faveeeeee…… you can probably guess- CHEESECAKE FACTORYYYY!!!!!

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It was a bit of a wait, but well worth it. I am a firm believer of not going to chains when in a big city with unique options- but I might break the rules sometime for this one. The restaurant is located on top of the Macy’s tower with tables overlooking Union Square. We peaked out while waiting for our cheesecake and the view was tremendous. Plus, cheesecake factory. Ugh, too stinking good.

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On the way out DJ said to me as we passed the whole crowd waiting in line, “Too bad they ran out of cheesecake” and some guy overheard saying “Oh man!!!!!”. It was too funny, but I really hope this didn’t stop the guy from getting his cheesecake!

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We went back to the hotel and nommmed down on our Cheesecake (Oreo Dream Xtreme for DJ and White Chocolate Raspberry for me (and maybe watched a bit of Game of Thrones on my little iphone screen because we were both hard core craving it). Guys, this show though…

In the morning I ran a few miles and then we walked to Dottie’s True Blue Cafe, a famous breakfast spot in SF.

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The line was insaneee. I think we waited about an hour and a half before finally getting in.

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It is pretty small, not a lot of tables, and the service is super slow. If you go here the things to order are their baked pastries. We ordered full meals and they were ok, but crazy overpriced. We would have much preferred Sweet Maple any day. BUT their baked goods looked absolutely incredible, and the coffee was delishhh.

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DJ had their pancakes- he said they were aighhht, just not the best.

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I had an egg white omelette with lots of veggies and feta cheese. It was great- tasty as it comes, but it was the most expensive omelette I have EVER had. I do have to say, the jalapeno cornbread with pepper jelly was the highlight. I think I could have just ate that alone. I didn’t leave a crumb on my plate of that little guy. If you do find yourself at Dottie’s, it’s a must!

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Overall, it was a good meal, but Sweet Maple STILL takes the cake as the best breakfast/brunch spot in SF for us. We have yet to try Mama’s (which is supposed to be epic).

After breakfast, we shopped around Union Square for a bit!

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DJ suggested we go to Baker’s Beach (He always has the best ideas). We have actually not been to this beach since moving here. We were both craving Big Sur or Monterey for our getaway, and this helped us give a bit of a fix.

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We just hung out, climbing on the cliffs, sitting in the cool breeze, gazing upon the Golden Gate and serene bay and talked about everything. There are so many questions, and confusion, about what our next step in life is… about where we would want to move next, about what we still want to accomplish and experience while we are here, about the emotional rollercoaster we both have been on in the past year. We talked about how this is just a season- that we won’t always be seeing each other for a total of thirty minutes each week. But how long will this season last? I think we are both realizing as young twenty-somethings that life is not a clear linear path and rarely do plans actually happen as planned. I’m just thankful we have this journey to figure it out together. This was time we both needed, and I was so very thankful for it.

Hope you all had the best weekends!

Blog Birthdays:

Shooot, I am so late to these but a BIG, MASSIVE, happy birthday to

Samantha @ artofbeingfabulous on July 29th. Sam is nothing short of inspirational. I mean her blog name basically says it all: she has perfected the art of being fabulous! She has the best travel tips, recipes, fashion advice, and tons of great tips for overall well being. In a nutshell, her blog has everything you could need. So thankful for you and your sweet comments always, Samantha! BIG happy birthday to you, dear!

Heather @ Polyglotjot on July 30th. Guys! She is one of the very first bloggers I followed-  she shares everything from WIAW posts to life updates to her whole pregnancy, to amazing recipes and everything in between. Each post is AWESOME & leaves you mighty hungry! She is also just so genuine, and has became a dear friend. Happy birthday, Heather! I so love all our conversations ❤

xo ❤

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Take me Out to the Ball Game!

HUMMPPP DAY! Happy Wednesday! I worked all weekend and yesterday, but right before the work grind, I had the awesome opportunity to FINALLY go to an SJ Giants game last Thursday!!! If you are new around here, DJ works for their marketing team, and I’ve been dying to go see him do his thang’. Also who doesn’t love a baseball game in the summer?

I whipped out my SJ Giants baseball cap and hit the road!

I briefly had the chance to say hello to DJ and meet some of his lovely coworkers finally! I still just can’t believe this was the first time I could actually attend. I invited my friend, Sara, whom I’ve mentioned in a few posts. She met me at the game and we were in for one heckuvah evening!

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This night was “Christmas in July” themed. I immediately recognized the Christmas in the Park sign from when DJ and I actually attended the downtown festive filled event last winter.

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I even spotted Santa, ‘magine that! You can catch the fella prowling all around San HO HO HOse, all year long.

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I loved loved loveeeed the stadium. There is really something about a minor league baseball game’s energy that is invigorating. The food options lining the walkway are tremendous. The touches of detail are as enticing as the food choices. Even the walk area is marked by giant orange footprints of a wondering “Gigante”, the beloved giant gorilla mascot.

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We watched the beginning of the game, but quickly the wafting aromas of barbeque and fried carbs beckoned to us from the bleachers. The SJ Giants are known for their fantastic food options- particularly their churros, garlic fries, and beer options. We found our way to Turkey Mike’s BBQ with our free meal coupons (thanks Deej ❤ ). If you find yourself at an SJ Giants game, Turkey Mike’s is the ticket. Even the long line attests to that. SO worth the wait.

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We nibbled, LOL . NOT. WE SLAMMED. I ordered a veggie hot dog (which might be my real draw to the game- I discovered these suckers in Baltimore at an O’s game and thought I was in actual heaven), cole slaw, and a marinated veggie sandwich with feta (yes, basically two meals, but it was all freeee!) Sara used her meal voucher and tried the chicken sandwich with a side salad, and we both split garlic fries and a couple of hard ciders. Not gonna lie to ya’ll, …. it was probs one of my favorite meals in a looong time.

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I’m so thankful for this chica. She’s one of those people I instantly clicked with when we moved here. She also has the greatest laugh of all time- it’s contagious! Oooohhhhh and she’s super patient with me as I tried to stealthily sneak all my foodie pics for the *whispers* blog.

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I  also snatched pictures of not one, but two, creatures in their natural environment!

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Sara and I are still talking nearly a week later about how much fun it was. It was super cool for me to see where DJ spends most of his time. He’s one of the hardest workers I know, and I was thrilled to support him and our city’s team!

How were all your weekends?!

xo,

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I Accidentally Stole From Target & Other Recent Happenings

HOWDY! Excuse me while I unleash my good ole’ southern side (I just booked a quick four day trip to Dallas in August!). YEEHAAW. My schedule only comes out about three or four weeks before, so I’m doing all my planning last minute, but I’m learning to navigate it.

I’m thrilled to tell ya’ll that things are getting mucho better. I think after I wrote my last big nursing update post I began truly coping. I’m able to sleep through the night most nights without taking an absurd amount of melatonin, and I am able to separate work from home a bit better. I actually have some energy outside of work and am becoming motivated to start, idk, do real people things, besides sleep on my off days. I’ve still had days that would consume me at the beginning, but now I try to just see them as a learning experience. I feel that I am contributing more to my patients’ care too. One of my patients was just a bit too drowsy for my likin’ and had sluggish pupils. I let the doctor know, and when they did the CT scan it turned out he did have a re-bleed in the brain. As much as I wish these types of complications didn’t happen, it was incredibly rewarding to feel like I actually made a true difference for a patient. I still have an infinite amount to learn, but I don’t get nauseous every single day walking into work. I’ve actually had a few times where I’ve been somewhat excited to go back in because I knew I was getting my same patients back from the prior day! This turned corner is all, 100%, due to the tremendous support I have received in the last couple months and spending time in God’s Word has truly helped change my perspective. I don’t think I could have survived the first three new-grad nursing months from h-e-double hockey without you all, DJ, my family, my friends, and other coworkers. It sounds supes cliche, but it’s the truth. I have just a couple months until my probation period ends and I think I might just make it, guys! Then I will officially be a Clinical Nurse II! Just gotta keep peddlin’ on. (I needed to work in this photo somehow).

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Also my coworkers have jokes… I walked into this when I worked last Sunday and found it hilarious.

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When going through my Camera roll as of late I noticed two things. A. All I do is take pictures of food. and B. I make some weird crap. But I swear, it’s delicious crap.

Ok, exhibit A….

I decided to try a portobello mushroom cap stuffed with baked tilapia, blistered tomatoes, hummus, kalamata olives and seasoned with Za’tar. I had a side of quinoa & brown rice. It turned out crazy good. I made it the next day. DJ really enjoyed it as well and commented how good the house smelled when it was all cooking.

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I also have been craving tofu lately! Last week I made a medley of roasted veggies, vegan turmeric cauliflower mashed potatoes, and pan roasted tofu with tomatoes.

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I then bought giant collard green leaves and stuffed them with the above plus a dollop of hummus.

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I’m obsessed. I can’t stop eating these little guys!

Last Monday (7/10), I finally FINALLY was able to see one of my girlfriends, Sara. Our schedules haven’t been lining up lately, but they matched for once! DJ had to work super late that night so it made for a great impromptu girl’s night. I still had to work on Tuesday, but not until 2:30 pm, so I didn’t have to go to bed at 9 pm. She came over and we watched Bachelorette, sipped champagne, and ate cookies & chocolate. It was sooo needed.

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Tuesday (7/11) DJ and I worked our toosh’s off, but Wednesday (7/12) we both had the same day off! *GASP*. The same day?!? Yes, yes… I know it’s hard to believe, I was looking for the pigs flying overhead too. We were both pretty exhausted from the day before and decided to just take a chill day. We started our morning with a breakfast at Bobbie’s Cafe. This is a staple breakfast place in Cupertino. It’s your typical mom-and-pop dive with great staple breakfast options, phenom service, and friendly folks who appear to frequent the diner for their morning cup of Jo and side of eggs.

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You know a place is gonna be good when they welcome you with this many hot sauce options….

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I ordered their poached eggs over an english muffin with a side of cottage cheese. It hittt the spot!

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DJ says Bobbie’s pancakes are some of the best around here. I tried them, and definitely concur. I say they taste similar to Heidi’s– light but full of flavor.

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In the evening I made DJ a pepper jack crusted chicken with a sprinkling of pita breadcrumbs and pasta. For myself, I ate a collard green/cauliflower/veggie/hummus/tofu whatever-the-heck you wanna call it wrap.

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Since we graduated our FACC series class, we are only having one class with our Cohort every couple of months. We begin our research project in September. Eeeek! I am too pumped. I already know what our topic is gonna be, and I’m nerding out hard core.

They surprised us Thursday morning (7/13) ( with the most gourmet breakfast! I quickly snuck a picture when no one was around 😉 ) #DOITFORTHEBLOG.

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It included all kinds of fruit and bagels with cream cheese, capers, and smoked salmon. I told one of my coworkers that every single tear in the last few months was worth it for this very moment.

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After a long week of work, DJ and I set out to Oren’s Hummus shop on Main Street lateee on Friday night (7/14). It was a super spontaneous date night, neither of us thought we would be home as early as we were (I actually got out on time!).

If you want the run-down of Oren’s, go here, such a throwback post. It’s one of our all time favorite spots, and they have some of the best hummus in the whole wide world.

For an appetizer, make sure to order their original hummus with a side of whole wheat pita. Greatest life decision, I promise.

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I always order their Moroccan carrots, marinated beets and veggie skewers, and DJ usually gets their beef hummus.

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Funnnnnyy story: We stopped by Target afterwards to pick up a few groceries and a card for a friend. I picked out the card and walked around with DJ for the rest of the food he wanted to pick out. When walking back to our apartment, I realized I still had the card under my arm and hadn’t paid for it. I FREAKED out, classic “me” mode, and started sprinting back to Target hollerin’ to DJ, “I accidentally stole it!” When I looked to my right there was a Sheriff stepping out of his car in the parking lot. I dived into Target half expecting him to chase me. I’ve always loved the show Cops, just never expected to be on it. Nothing ended up happening. I walked up to the cashier and explained what happened, they couldn’t have cared less, but I clutched that receipt ready to explain myself as I left the building!

On Saturday morning (7/15), or any day I have off, you can almost definitely find my in my lil’ egg basket. I just swing, swing, and swing while enjoying my coffee, avocado smoothie, and oatmeal chocolate protein cookies. It’s hands down my favorite part of the whole day!

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DJ and I both had Saturday off too. DJ played some basketball with the guys in the morning and I went on a nice, loooong run. We also snuck in a few episodes of Game of Thrones and before we knew it, it was dinner time!

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DJ suggested Mod Pizza. How I haven’t been here yet is beyond me. They have them all over the US- anyone tried it?! It’s basically a subway for Pizza and it’s amazing.

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The crust/sauce/and topping options are endless AND they are reasonably priced. Around here that is a BIG deal. (literally). SUNS OUT, PUNS OUT.

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Deej ordered a Chocolate Milk Shake- I tried a sip. If you are a shake lover, you should definitely order one of these. Wowza! It was sweet, but the chocolate flavor was sending me into a whirl like the Cuckoo bird in the Coco Puffs commercial.

I did a Mini-Mod with red sauce, all the veggies, and fig balsamic glaze to top it.

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DJ had the Mad Dog!

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I couldn’t believe how quick the service was too!

After we devoured every bit of our pizzas, we headed to the Row to be out and about (like I said, I’m beginning to turn back into my old self a bit more!).

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The parking was super limited on a Saturday night, so we had to park on tippy-top of the parking garage. We didn’t mind though, the view of the Sunset was perfect, and we made it just in time!

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Anyone recognize the car below? It’s the one from Back to the Future! (DeLorean DMC-12).

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On Sunday (7/16) we went to Church. It was one of the first Sundays since starting this job that I actually had off and could actually go. It did something good for me to see all my friends. I missed everyone so doggone much!

After I did a quick grocery trip. I love grocery shopping- I just put my headphones in, listen to a podcast, and stroll the magical Safeway aisles.

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In the afternoon I meal prepped a bit- cutting up veggies, getting meats ready, yada yada yada, and then I made my faveeee oatmeal chocolate chip protein cookies. I cannot get enough!

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DJ has been asking me lately to make the Dixie Stampede soup. Dixie Stampede is a Dolly Parton owned show/restaurant in a few locations. DJ went with the basketball team in college to the one in Branson, MI, and came back raving about the soup. I whipped up a big ole batch that lasted all of three days.

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It is currently Wednesday (7/19) after working Monday and Tuesday. Today I am going out on a long run to catch up with podcasts and then I’m not sure what the evening holds! Tomorrow is pretty busy though, I’m excited to share all about that in my next recap post. Now that I’ve downed basically an entire jar of PB2, I’m off to run and soak up some beautiful sun! What are you all up to this week/weekend?

((BIG HUGS))

Blog Birthdays:

Major happy birthdays to Fallon @ Slacker Runner in July- an epic, motivational, and genuine runner who also has an terrific sense of humor!

and Niki @ Nikisthoughts.wordpress.com on July 18th! (I’m a bit behind, but I hope you had the most wonderful day!). I love Niki’s Share Your World challenges- they are super fun and insightful, and also spark some awesome conversation.

xo ❤

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A Perfect Pittsburgh Wedding!

Happy Hump Day, ya’ll. How were your 4ths?! If you have a link to a post about your celebrations feel free to leave it in the comments 🙂 I’d love to hear what you all were up to! Mine was super laid back because this past weekend was busy as could be, and I was running on no sleep. Hence I dreamt of all things vegan bratwurst and fireworks as I slept a majority of the day away. DJ had to work all day anyway, so it worked out well.

I am stoked to share about the epic wedding this past weekend!

On Thursday morning I quickly packed for my flight. I never pack the day of, but since I worked nearly four twelve-hour shifts in a row leading up to it, the last thing I wanted to do when I came home on Wednesday night was pack. I Ubered to the airport and had the most phenomenal discussion with my Uber driver. She gave me such great encouragement and actually we talked about the blog a bit. I gave her my blog name, so if she happens to read this I send her a big hello and thank you for her sweet conversation.

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I took an American Airlines flight from SF to Chicago to Pittsburgh. My first flight, the long one, had selections for movies still in theaters! I was surprised! What are some of your favorite airlines?! I was thoroughly impressed with American.

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I didn’t end up watching the movies, but took that time to type away for my last blog post. It was the definition of therapeutic. So needed. As soon as I pressed that “publish” button I felt like I could take a deep breath. It was metaphorically, yet tangibly, cathartic to just get it all out. It was as though I untethered the shackles of difficult moments and trials from mind, and grasped ahold of them- drowning them in truth and light.

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It’s weird, but only when I travel do I really crave pop (or soda, if you aren’t from the midwest). I even received a whole can– wooohooo. American Airlines stepping up the game. What is your go-to flying beverage of choice?

The family I sat next to were headed to Sutton’s Bay and Traverse City from Sydney, Australia. Small world! I gushed about my love for the quaint city and gave them a mile long list of fantastic restaurants, highly suggested Bardon’s epic ice cream shop, and emphasized the need to go to the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Their little girl fell asleep on my shoulder at one point, so precious.

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I lucked out and was assigned the window seat. However, I did have to monitor my fluid intake, otherwise I would be getting up to go to the bathroom every five seconds per usual. Road trips can be a bit of a pain with me because I tend to chug water on the heels of my morning joes. Zero chill.

I barely made my second flight because our first one took off late. I also misread the SUPER confusing signs to my gate and ended up having to go through security again. I was definitely that person- sprinting through the airport with bags flying and a crazed look on my face. But I made it. I even had a few moments to scarf down my airport sushi just in time to board– hoooolllllaaaa.

On my second flight I sat next to a Russian man who is an expert in acarology (the study of mites). He was giving a lecture at OSU about it. Pretty quickly into our conversation he asked me, “Are you afraid of death?”. I was taken aback but it led to some interesting conversation.

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I Ubered from the airport to the hotel. It was about a forty minute drive. I spent the entire forty minutes chatting with a die-hard Pittsburghian about the day in the life. If anyone wants to be convinced by someone that Pittsburgh is the best city to have ever existed in all of history and all time to come, this is your guy.

I arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn in Cranberry at about 2 am. It was a very nice Hilton! I highly recommend staying here if you need a reasonably priced place to stay in Pittsburgh.

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I couldn’t sleep one wink on Thursday night. Actually, that’s a lie. I fell asleep around 5 am and slept until 6 am until my neighbor decided to blow dry her hair. I couldn’t fall back asleep. I chugged a cup of coffee & decided to run to try to wake up my body. Also, does anyone else just love hotel coffee? I swear there is something about it that just makes me giddy (and not just from the caffeine). Maybe it’s just the adrenaline of travel that is associated with it and the good times that leave a great taste in the mouth.

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I then headed to the venue at Freedom Farms to help the rest of the girls set up for the wedding. I was stoked to see Lyndsay, the bride to be! She is one of my dearest friends since middle school. We attended youth group together all the way through high school. We have literally been through it all together from sharing countless laughs, tears, navigating boys (oh boy), going on trips in the US to the Dominican Republic together, growing in our faith, eating absurd portions of pineapple pizza at the pool in the summer, strumming our guitars in worship and just in our spare time, splitting a dozen donuts in one sitting at a dive in Indiana, cheering each other on in track meets even though we were competing schools, getting ready for a plethora of church events and getaways, and she was even the one who sat with me in silence after my dad passed away, my deepest heartbreak. She is as loyal as they come and has always been a role model of mine. I love her deeper than just a friend, she is a sister to me.

We were just missing our Clair, our good friend who is having a baby and was due on Lyndsay’s actual wedding day! The babe still hasn’t came, but literally ANY second now. Eeek!

Here is a little walk down memory lane….

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I was honored she asked me to be a bridesmaid, and I was beyond thankful (and shocked) that I could make it. I also haven’t seen her since my own wedding– two years ago! The reunion was quite special. I quickly got to know the other amazing girls in her bridal party and exchanged hugs with her family. They were like a second family to me growing up. I and my dear friend, Sarah, arranged the bouquets for some of the tables. I loved doing this. In another life I’d like to be a florist.

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The venue was incredible. I wish I had taken more pictures, but we were busy bees getting ready for the big day and just soaking up the precious moments! If you live in Pittsburgh and are looking for that rustic, yet elegant, venue- THIS IS YOUR PLACE. It was straight out of a fairytale.

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All of the creative touches actually outdid Pinterest. Lyndsay ironically was the first person who I ever heard about Pinterest from! Ahh, to think back to when we both started planning our weddings all those years ago.

Below is a picture of all the bridesmaids & Lynds (in white). I think this picture sums us up way better than the more normal ones we took 😉 Gosh, it was the best bunch of ladies.

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The rehearsal dinner was in-cred-ible. She served Greek food with wide arrange of marinated olives, hummus, baba ganoush, tabouli, pita, lamb, chicken, feta, dolmas, rice, and finished off with the best greek desserts ever (naturally I tried them all- the baklava was baklavamazing).

I scarfed it all down before I could grab a picture. Once I finished the food I decided I needed to find out where this was catered from. Lyndsay said it was actually her good friends, a life mentor, (with no Greek heritage), who cooked the food. I was blown away. I found the lady and by occupation she is a physician’s assistant. She said she just grew an interest in Greek food and was determined to learn how to cook it. We chatted for a while about cooking (she’s my new inspiration) and about medicine. In a little over twenty four hours I had met a diverse number of new, unique, and wonderful people.

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Friday night we headed to Lyndsay’s to do nails and spend some last minute reminiscing before she took the plunge into wedded bliss. Ugh, I love her so much.

Saturday morning we went to the hair salon to get that hair did. It all went smoothly and was a blast! We were in and out in about less than hour. CRAZY!

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Lyndsay was nothing short of perfect for her day, inside and out.

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This is Sarah’s hair- It looked identical to the picture she showed it was nuts! I had to take a picture.

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This was my up-do. I did a braid into a low bun.

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Mimosa time!

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We all did our makeup together at the hotel and then packed up to go to the venue. Things were getting REAL!

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I am obsessed with this photo below because this is just Lyndsay: All dressed up and effortlessly gorgeous with her yoga mat and Nalgene bottle in hand. She literally drank from the Nalgene at the venue all night. I love how true to herself she is in any situation. It’s always been something I’ve admired about her.

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Even the ride to the venue was such a blast.

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We made it!

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We took all our pictures with the party which may have included chasing a chicken, but we did not catch it, unfortunately. We also all gathered before the wedding to witness the magical first look! It was the type of first look that didn’t leave a dry eye to anyone who witnessed it. The day emulated the beauty of the union- it was supposed to rain, but the rain held off and the sun made it’s presence known, wrapping each guest with the warmth and glow that radiated from the love of the couple.

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Here is a picture of the bridesmaid’s bouquets! Stunning, right?!

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The ceremony was the most Christ-centered, loving, sweet, and beautiful wedding I think I’ve ever been to. The message from the pastor (Lyndsay’s father) resonated with me big time. The way Joseph looked at Lyndsay melted all of our hearts. The whole day was PERFECT. I know I have used that word far too much, but seriously- there is no other way to describe it.

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Reuniting with friends I haven’t seen in forever was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. I missed these people beyond words. Seeing them all made my heart so happy. ❤

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**CUE THE TEARS**

For dinner there was burrito bar. YUUUUMMMM.

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They are the stinking cutest that ever was.

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And the rest of the night was followed by dancing our tails off.

At the very end of the night, all us bridesmaids and Lynds had an impromptu dance to “Marry You” right before the sparkler send off. As cliche as it may sound, it was seriously a cinematic movie moment, and I can’t imagine a better way to send off my best friend, my sister, into her next stage of life.

That night I left for the airport around 3 am. Needless to say I slept every minute on each flight on the way back. When I arrived around 10 am (SF time), DJ picked me up. I went back home to sleep, but in the afternoon we went to Bill’s to have a nice breakfast together.

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It was a quintessentially perfect wedding weekend that I felt blessed to be a part of. Joseph and Lyndsay are a tremendous couple that already are changing and inspiring others’ lives.

Thanks for sharing in this weekend with me!

xo ❤

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A Super Quick Update!

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HEY YA’LL!

Long time no seeeeee.

I have a sweet & short post about what we have been up to lately (well, relative to my other posts) . I received a text from my mom yesterday saying she was concerned since I haven’t made much contact with anyone the last week or so. NO WORRIES- all is well & good just busy, busy.

It reminded me that I haven’t updated the good ole’ blog baby in a while. I need to write an entirely separate post soon about what I have learned this past month in regards to nursing, faith, and dealing with some intense emotional battles. It’s been nothing short of a glorious, ferocious, awful, and beautiful rollercoaster.

That will come soon… I travel to Pittsburgh this weekend so I’m thinking the flight may be a good time to unravel that one.

But for now, for all our friends and family that are all, “How the heck are ya, where the heck are ya, and what the heck are ya up to?!” … this is my response!

I graduated from the FACC series class last week (Foundations of Acute and Critical Care Training). That means wayyy less online work, aka less free time sucked up, and more consistent 36 hour weeks in the hospital rather than sporadic classes mixed with shifts. HALLELUJAH! I learned so much through this series and while it was a major time leach, I am incredibly grateful for all I learned.

Alsoooo..come on now- this cake..

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. Hahahahha. I know it’s bad, but I couldn’t help but share. Our FACC leaders definitely have a good sense of humor (which I have learned is entirely necessary in nursing).

DJ’s doing amazing at his job working with the SJ Giants in marketing. I admire him beyond words with the way he has handled this job and the integrity with which he also handles the challenges. He has been an outstanding leader in our small group through church as well. Unfortunately, I haven’t been to our small group because of work, but DJ has been leading a good deal of the sessions. I am just thankful I have him as my rock as we go through this hard, hard year.

We both are in such similar places of navigating the season of NEW. New jobs, new coworkers, new schedules, new responsibilities, new frustrations, and new memories! We still hardly see each other but soak up every second when we do.

Many evenings I get home and go straight to sleep after a 12 hour shift, and can’t do much the night before a shift considering I have to get up at 4/4:30. But some nights when I don’t have to go back the next day I try to just soak up that alone time.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy those quiet evenings are in my feng shui hangout eating sushi, drinking some wine, and reading or watching a reality show. Call me basic if you wish, but these sushi rolls are ANYTHING but basic.

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A place near our apartment called Azuma can be delivered through GrubHub. I oscillate between the 49ers roll (eel, avocado, and other assorted fish), and the sunshine roll (lemon, tuna, eel, green onion, and avocado)…. with brooownn rice. Brown rice adds a texture and heartiness to the roll that I love.

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It’s all so delish. Probably the two best sushi rolls of my life. But I have a problem. When DJ and I went through the budget/spending this month I embarrassingly replied “Sushi” when he asked what each purchase on my card was from. Whoops. Girl’s gotta eat. #sorrynotsorry. #sushinotsorry.

Speaking of eats! Here are our other recent ones..

I have been LOVING my turmeric cauliflower mashed potatoes with black bean burgers, hummus, and parmesan asparagus. You know I get on kicks, and this is the most recent! I also love topping it with basil.

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Flat-out pizzas are always a good go-to. If you’ve never tried a good flat-out pizza, it’s definitely worth a try- especially if you are a lover of thin crust pizzas! Each flatbread is only 100 calories, and then I top with vegan cheese, tomatoes, basil, and oregano to make a mean vegan margarita.

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It’s also been a while since I’ve made Indian. When we lived in our Toho in Indiana this was one of my favorite meals to make! DJ loves it too. For myself I make a vegetarian version with dosa, idli, and tons of curry laden veggies. For DJ I make chicken tikki masala with jasmine rice and naan. Who doesn’t love naan?! If you don’t know what naan is, you don’t know what life is, so please stop reading this and go try some naan.

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Did you try the naan?!?

I’m serious.

Try it.

Now.

Since I am leaving this weekend, I made DJ tons of BBQ chicken, parmesan rosemary fingerling potatoes, fried okra, and wild rice.

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Alsooo, I may have casually ordered a jillion gallons of PB2 on Groupon. It was a steal!!!! Pb2 is so dang expensive, so when I saw this Betty bargain steal I had to jump.

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Ok, ok you caught me. When going through the budget and spending it goes like this … Sushi, sushi, PB2, sushi, overage data fees while blogging about sushi and PB2, sushi.

I’ve also been running a ton to deal with my stress. Lately I’ve been listening to podcasts rather than music. Just wait for the next Friday Faves, folks, and I will divulge some of my loooves. Anyone have favorites out there?!

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Last Thursday I got my hair did! Wooohoo!!!! The roots were so bad. I am in the wedding Saturday, so I felt like I had to be somewhat presentable for someone else’s forever wedding photos.

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After getting the roots all touched up and a nice (MUCH NEEDED) trim, I was craving me some boba. Luckily, next to the Aveda salon on Santana row there is an amazing Boba shop It hit.the. spot. Especially because it was way too hot that day. Raise your hand if you love boba?!

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FINALLY one of DJ and I’s days aligned for a day off last Friday. We started our day off by sleeping in until the cows came home.

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Then I was craving boba, … so… boba.

We also decided to try out Game of Thrones. Holy maloly- it’s entralling! Does anyone watch? Yes, it’s pretty dang explicit, but I know most shows are out of the gate to get more ratings. The story line is just insanely good. Any thoughts?! We love it.

For dinner we tried the newest addition to our little Cupertino downtown- Stein’s Beer Garden.

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It was one of those places that just has pizzazz.

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I loved the feel. It was beery unique! There is a literal wall lined with faux foliage in a modern, industrial environment.

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The staff was super friendly off the bat. While there was a bit of a wait, it was worth it.

We started with complementary pickled veggies in a jar. I don’t know why more places don’t do this! It was such a great mini app. I didn’t even miss the typical starter bread (GASSSSPPPP!).

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I’m not big on beer, but felt like I should at least try one, considering it’s in the restaurant’s name. The only kind I really like that I’ve tried are Sours. Their Mango Gose was surprisingly refreshing with the meal I had!

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I tried the roasted beet & smoked salmon salad with arugula, chevre goat cheese, and spiced pecans. It was fantastic! (Also- PS. I just have to tell my Aunt that she would LOVE this place, it’s so up her alley, so ya’ll need to come back soon!).

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DJ tried the Yucatan Pulled Pork Sliders with chili paste marinated pork shoulder with chipotle aoili chicharon, cilantro slaw, jalapeno, and roasted tomato salsa.

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The rest of the night we flew through a couple episodes of GOT, then we both worked all weekend.

Fast forward…

It is currently Wednesday evening, I’m on the heels of 4- 12 shifts nearly in a row. I’m not sure my mind is all here and this post probably has a million errors haha. I’m haphazardly watching bachelorette and realizing I have a million things do before 10 am tomorrow. Oh well. It will get done, it always does.

I leave tomorrow for Pittsburgh and don’t return until Sunday. I plan during that time to catch up on blog comments and your blogs too (although, I’m not sure the 7 hour traveling day in the air will have wifi?!)..

Monday is back to work and then I won’t see DJ again until Tuesday, but he works most of the time too. Also- my best friend’s baby is due this week, and I can hardly stand it. This time of life is wild, and hard, fun, challenging, and rewarding. I know we will look back on this year and see it as one of the most transformative for the both of us.
What are you all up to this weekend?!

xo ❤

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Sister’s 21st Birthday and Best of the Bay

Woooowww. Long time, no talk! HOW ARE YOU ALL?!! I am totally blog-deprived.

I know I say this repeatedly, but this is truly the most challenging and busiest time of my life. How people do this residency program with kiddos is beyond me. I finally have a day off, and I have ZERO plans but to blog, catch up on my to-do list, and eat Smoked Gouda Triscuits and gruyere cheese (hello heaven). DJ is at work, so additionally I fully intend to spend the whole day in my PJ’s, unless I go to the store for cookies for bachelorette night, but then, and ONLY THEN, will I put a bra on. Catch my drift? Ok- let’s get to it.

Since my last recap (which was about the end of April), all I have done is work, cry, meal prep, cook, cry, run, laundry, and cry…. so yes.. (I do plan on making a post about how all that is progressing soon enough, but for now let’s share ALL the gooooood!).

My sister, Halston, and her boyfriend, Kevin, came in town last week, and they left me with some awesome memories that I am one eager beaver to share!

I started out last Friday (5/19) by having my new obsession for breakfast (avocado smoothies) with homemade breakfast cookies (yeah, those recipes will be posted eventualllllly). I love sitting in my egg basket swing from Target and soaking up the sunrise with my Bible while sipping up my avocado smoothie and breakfast chocolate chip cookies. Does not get better than that, folks! My outdoor area is my “feng shui playground”.

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Since I had that Friday off, I food prepped to have at least a couple options for my sister and her boyfriend and my hubby for the week! I made roasted veggies, eggplant parmesan, tons of shredded chicken, roasted parmesan multicolored potatoes, and vegan joes (my sister is also pescetarian, but loves vegan foods too!).

I also cleaned the heck outta’ the house, which felt gloooorious!

When I picked up Kevin and Halston from the airport, they unpacked a bit, and then I had to show them around Main Street Cupertino, naturally. We had tons of avocajoes for dinner and I had to hit the hay early for work.

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While I worked the whole weekend, Kevin and Halston went to an SJ Giants game with DJ and then Church Sunday too. Even though I couldn’t participate in the weekend festivities, I’m glad they had such a blast!

Sunday night, my fave duo surprised us by also cooking some additional food for the week (we flew through all the food I made!)- Kevin whipped up some scrumptious fettuccini chicken alfredo for him and DJ, and Halston made the most delish tofu lettuce wraps for us. They spoiled us!

Monday I had off, although DJ had to work, but the three of us decided to go to Santa Cruz! This was their first time EVER in California, so I had to give them the authentic beachy town experience.

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First we stopped by a coffee shop that carried the famous Marianne’s Ice Cream to grab a cone for Kevin. DJ and I have had it before and the ice cream is velvety smooth and creamy and dreammmmyyyy.

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And I am still steadily making my way through HP, ya’ll! Just in case you are just popping in for the first time, my dream is to read through all of Harry Potter then go to HP world. Big bucket list dreams right here.

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After soaking up all the sunny rays ….and Halston aggressively avoiding getting any sand actually on her towel (or herself) — (anyone else like that? Hahaha)—….. we decided to go grab a late lunch/early dinner on the pier.

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I personally think Stagnaro Bros. is the best place for half price apps. I went here with Rachel last summer and it did not disappoint one bit.

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Halston ordered their appetizer sampler platter (clam strips, shrimp, etc.), Kevin tried their lobster quesadilla, and I jumped on their smoked salmon bites.

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It was all tremendous. I am truly salivating right now at the thought. Their tarter sauce was delish with the sampler platter, the lobster quesadilla was phenYUMenal, and the salmon bites seriously reminded us of eating hearty meat like smoked ham or steak bites. Whatever sauce they use may contain illegal substances, because they were addictive. SO GOOD.

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Halston was a bit cold on the way back to the car. I think I wear emotions on my face pretty clearly; she is a walking emoji! Ha!

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Whenever there is a crowd gathered by the edge of the pier, you can bet you will find a bunch of little sea lions providing the daily entertainment.

We zoomed back home just in time for Bachelorette to begin!!! I was stoked to have company to view the Bachelorette with. DJ and I used to have massive parties back in Indiana for bach. nights and now it’s usually just the two of us. It felt good to get ALLL the goods out, have multiple people’s input, and the hum of a full living room.

Anyone else watching? Thoughts? I just adore Rachel. This show gets goofier by the season, but I truly hope she finds her happy ending.

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Monday night at midnight Halston and Kevin went to Yardhouse on Santana Row so Halston could get her first legal drink. She got her favorite, a pina colada, and a pizza to wash it down! 😉

I had to work the rest of the week Tuesday through Thursday. Halston would get up early with me before work (yes, at 4:30), have breakfast with me, and drop me off at work so her and Kevin could use the car for the day. I just ubered home after. I treasured those mornings together and this coming week I know I will be feeling a bit sad horribly depressed without her here with me!

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Tuesday was her TWENTY FIRST birthday!!! How is my little sis this old?!

I need to take a moment and just brag on this incredible human. My sister is without debate one of the greatest individuals to grace this planet. She’s my younger sister, yet she is my role model. She doesn’t care what people think of her, yet everyone loves her. She has her priorities straight with a level head, a strong faith and a selfless love for others. She exudes a zest for life that surpasses most and embodies the most gentle spirit. She is also ridiculously fun to hangout with and is always a guarantee for the most wonderful memories with tons of laughs. She pursues adventure whenever there is a free second, but works harder than most people I know. She is the greatest listener, has wisdom beyond her years, and both an emotional and physical strength that allows her to dominate whatever life throws her way. HAPPY 21st again, seeeester. I love you more than words!!!

We started the epic birthday with avocado smoothies and while DJ and I were at work, Kevin and her spent the day exploring SJ (going to Crossfit and Bill’s Cafe- hollllaaaa!) and had a beautiful dinner at the ethereal Grandview restaurant after!

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You can read about our previous Grandview Experiences here and here. HINT:  Their cheesecake is to die for.

This restaurant is like you are sitting in a little part of Heaven. The views are indescribable. It’s all terribly romantic, stunning, and the whole experience is absolutely spectacular. I would not want anything less for Halston on her big 2-1!

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The beautiful birthday princess and her amor had the most wonderful evening. Aren’t they gorg?! I’m so thankful Kevin was able to come on this trip! He treats my sister like an absolute queen and the two are a perfect pair.

On my way home from work I ubered past Coldstone Creamery to pick up a Peanut Butter Playground cake for Hal, her fave. I fell asleep before they came home, but the missing slices in the morning told me they enjoyed it! (Also, I totally forgot to snap a picture; thank you internet for coming in in the clutch).

peanut butter playground.jpgWednesday, Halston and Kevin went into downtown SF to meet up with Kevin’s future roommate. He is attending Dental school in Pennsylvania- Hal and Kevin both went to University of Cincy where they met. Hal has one year left, but is studying abroad in Columbia this fall. After undergrad she plans to go to law school. Got it? (There is a quiz on this post after 😉 ).

They loved exploring the city, and graciously shared their pictures with me! They went to Pier 39 (essential), and then made their way to Japan town to meet the roommate. Hal had some Boba on the way. I honestly didn’t even know Japan town existed… I thought there was only China town. Hal and Kevin said the food was insanely good at this place though. DJ and I will definitely be back-pocketing the name for a date night! She didn’t get any pictures of the food though- I haven’t trained her well enough in Blogger ways, lol.

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Thursday they spent the day resting up at home and when I came back from work, we all went to Kula!!!! DJ and I used to be obsessed when we first moved here, but there is plenty else to explore, hence we haven’t been in a while. If you want to read about the conveyor-belt sushi experience, I have a pretty thorough review here.

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My personal favorite roll is the Kula roll with lemon juice sprinkled over ahi tuna.

When DJ came home from work late that night, Hal made us all pina coladas (cause now she can officially have them!), and we played Cards *mumbles* againsthumanity… I know the game is probs not something I should promote, but goodness gracious it’s too much fun. The game inevitably leaves you with inside jokes and belly laughs.

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Friday morning, Hal and I decided to go to Tony Look trail for a nice run (that heckuvah trail that I always take our guests on- here, here, and here). Usually I just hike it with people, but I convinced Halston to run it with me. Haha – she was a trooper.

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WE SURVIVED! Even though we were annihilated by overgrown weeds and were convinced we were going to be plowed over by an off-roading car at one point (long story). Once again- Halston’s face says it all! BUT— No mountain lions today! Woohoo!

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When we made it back home we scarfed down some grub and got ready to go back into SF for more bday celebrations with all four of us!

Deej took us down Lombard street and Filbert street (The steepest road in SF). You can’t even see over the car into the road below when you are on the very top. It’s trippy and feels more like a rollercoaster than a road!

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We parked near Ghiradelli square and perused around here before heading to the Golden Gate.

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I realized I had never had my second cup of joe for the day and was crashing. Luckily, Le Marais Bakery came to the rescue. It was no Peet’s, but it did the trick!

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Cuties ❤ ^

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Coffee ❤ ^

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Crew ❤ ^

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We then ubered the bridge to the other side to grab some photos with the world renowned bridge (which just celebrated it’s 80th anniversary! Thank you, Kate, I had no idea!). Very enlightening!!!

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After enjoying our time at the Bridge we headed to the Ferry Building to explore and grab some food to tide us over.

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Halston and Kevin were dying to try the empanadas. DJ and I still haven’t tried the little guys, but they said they were tasty!

We also stopped at the SF Fish Company where we grabbed the famous chowder! It was super good- not as good as the one’s I sampled with my mom in Monterey, but dang close!

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We killed time by walking around SF and then stopping to get bandaids for a horrible blister on my foot. #heels. #beautyispain.

Our reservation was at 8:00 for Venticello Restaurant on Nob Hill. We arrived early, but got light drinks at the bar and just relaxed a bit before our table was ready.

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This restaurant is the definition of “quaint”. It is tucked away, easy to miss, but once you step inside the scents of wood oven pizza, baking Italian herbs, and romantic lighting embraces you. The service was excellent and, although a bit chilly by the windows, the warmth from the real burning wood stove was a perfect touch.

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We all agreed that wherever we went for dinner, pre-meal complimentary bread was essential.

We also ordered their margharita pizza for an appetizer. The pizza looked satiating, but no one wanted to order it for their main course, so dubbing it an appetizer worked out well. They also had other amazing options as appetizers- we will be back. The pizza was fantastic, but I and DJ prefer when the ingredients are more visible in a margharita- like the mozzarella is still obviously buffalo slices and the tomatoes are sliced. The flavor was still tremendous- it just tasted more like a basic cheese pizza!

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For my dinner I tried the scallops. Holy Italian cannoli- the flavors were out of this world! It had a pesto sauce along with artichoke heart puree. Still, Farallon’s scallops take home the W, but these were pretty doggone good!

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Taking pictures was a bit hard since the lighting was quite dim, but Halston ordered the gnocci with gorgonzola and mushroom cream sauce, Kevin ordered their spaghetti carbonara with pancetta, english peas, and farm cream sauce, and DJ tried their fettuccini with house-made spicy pork fennel sausage and tomato cream sauce (pictured below). We all loved our entrees and I don’t think there was a bite left on any of our plates!

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But you better believe we left room for dessert. After scavenging YELP to find a place that sounded like the golden ticket, we headed to SIFT which promised milkshakes, macaroons, and ice cream sandwiches. When we arrived, the options were pretty limited. Luckily, across the street was Smitten! We decided to give it a go and it was one COOL experience! It’s all organic and the flavors are uniquely delicious like brown sugar with cinnamon shortbread, dough my goodness sundaes, and almond coconut macaroon to name a few. It took us forever to decide what we wanted because it literally all ridiculously yummy.

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Halston and DJ had the dough my goodness sundae, Kevin had their vanilla with strawberry prosecco sauce, and I had their cold brrrew with cookie dough pieces pretzel pieces, and brown sugar caramel sauce on top. It was tremendous. The coffee flavor was strong, but the sweetness of everything else provided the perfect balance!

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For the evening, we decided to try out a Gatsby themed exclusive nightclub. It’s supposed to take place during the prohibition era, so all of the information is super obscure online and you receive the place the day of the event. I received an e-mail saying “Your appointment to get your watch fixed it scheduled at 11:00 pm at this location”. I was confused for a second and then realized it was all part of the underground, secretive experience. We still had time before 11, so we tried to find somewhere to go dancing. The place we tried out had hardly anyone there yet, so we got stamped and decided to go back later. When we arrived at the Gatsby location, it was a bit….. different than expected. It was a crowd quite a bit older than us, the room was pretty small, and there was no music playing as it said on the website. We didn’t stay long but it was worth the try and we also had the most interesting uber ride of all time- let’s just say SF is like a box of chocolates— you never know what you’re gonna get!

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The rest of the evening the four of us danced and then headed back home. It was overall a super fun, yet bizarre in many ways, night!

On Saturday, Halston and Kevin had a late flight back to Ohio. We had one place left on the list that was essential for them to try before leaving: In n Out. Confession: This was my first time trying it too.

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The boys ordered the burgers and animal style fries & a shake. Us girls nibbled on their fries and tried the shake. It was all good, but I still prefer Swenson’s back in Akron. If you are from Akron, you would understand.

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Halston and I were craving Boba tea as well. We jumped over to Tea Chansii on Main Street to try it out. I had their jasmine green tea with boba and Hal tried their smoothie. We ended the night by finishing up random foods in the fridge- I made Hal my loaded vegan sweet potato, the men quesadillas, and finished up the leftover tofu wraps Hal made earlier in the week (I crave them!).

We took them to the airport in the evening and said our goodbyes. I have had a hard time since they left. I was looking forward to the visit for such a long time, and I can’t believe it’s already over. I will treasure these memories forever.

I also want to take a moment to say thank you to those that have served and serve our country. I know I can fully never understand that sacrifice, but with a somber and thankful heart- thank you. And to the families and friends of those who have lost someone dearly, my thoughts and prayers are with you today.

To my WordPress fam, as always, thank you for being endlessly supportive as I swim upstream through this stage of my life. I send ya’ll all my love.

xo ❤

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Monterey, CA- Big Sur Marathon! 

I am beyond pumped to share this post about the epic marathon weekend! I didn’t mention the marathon too much on my blog leading up to it because I didn’t know if I would be able to run the race with the new job’s schedule (we work a ton of weekends). BUT I was able to get race day off and lemme tell ya, I’m forever grateful for the beautiful memories that elapsed in that small time frame. I needed this weekend too- as ya’ll know I’ve never been more exhausted or stressed physically and emotionally than this last month-so this was pure therapy.

Last minute my mom (Momma Jill) arranged to fly in for the weekend since DJ couldn’t go to the marathon with his work schedule. However, the day before she flew out she was in the hospital diagnosed with a fractured foot. I insisted  that I would be fine going alone, but I’m selfishly pretty darn glad she was adamant about coming! After all, she is my good luck charm at races! She is one tough cookie, I tell ya what. (shhhhh she isn’t wearing her boot in a lot of pictures- I may not have been the best nurse by allowing that one).

When she arrived Friday evening we headed to Rootstock Wine Bar on Main Street Cupertino.

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We ordered some bruschetta to share and a couple glasses of wine. The last time she was here, Main Street Cupertino was still entirely under construction. She was blown away by how much it had evolved! We stopped into 85-degree bakery to visually digest the exotic, massive, and drool-worthy desserts before heading back to the apartment. I will try the calamari ink roll one of these days!

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We were both pooped and fell asleep pretty early (after some ice cream, of course). DJ had some time in the morning before he had to head into work so we went to Bill’s. Surprise, surprise! It’s basically becoming a weekly tradition. You can read all my reviews about it here, here, or here.

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After a fantastic breakfast, DJ zipped to work and we began our trek to Monterey for the marathon!!!! (I kept thinking back to my and DJ’s our anniversary celebration and it made me miss him lots! During the actual race I passed the place we stayed which was pretty fun).

 

One of my favorite parts about races is the Expo! There is always an exorbitant amount of energy and excitement (plus the SWAG is pretty great too).

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This expo was pretty small, held at the Portola Hotel and Spa. There were limited vendors, but with the expo’s location there was plenty to enjoy outside anyway. I laughed because in typical Northern California style they had wine samples rather than the CLIF Bar samples you would see at most! For those that want to run this marathon in the future, make sure you stop by the Expo to pick up your Bib #, a bus ticket for the hotel you are staying to the race starting line (there is no access otherwise), and your T-shirt, of course!

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After strolling the expo, my mom and I walked around downtown Old Monterey. This town is so sleepy and quaint, even with all the commotion of the race.

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We decided to follow this sign to go to the water. We were quickly drawn into the downtown boardwalk with colorful storefronts, tourist landmarks, and each passing restaurant passing out samples of their individualized “claim-to-fame” recipe of clam chowder. My mom and I sampled all of them and were shocked at, first, how delicious they all were, and second, how different each one tasted!

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I hadn’t seen the show Big Little Lies at this point, but my friend, Kelsey, is obsessed. I started watching it this week with a free month HBO trial and cannot stop. It’s so good.

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They call me ‘The Bird Whisperer’ in these parts

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Around 3 pm we were able to check into the hotel we were staying for the evening- Monterey Tides. I found this place pretty last minute (with not being SURtain if I could make the race) and chose it because it was one of the cheapest I could find on a booking site. We were blown away by how gorgeous this place was- I kept thinking there was some mix up because this honestly underpriced!

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The hotel attendant said that it may be a couple minutes, so we decided to enjoy some drinks while overlooking the sparkling Monterey waters. My mom and I even saw our first whale!!! It was quite SURendipitious that we were staying at this majestic place!

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The room was super nice with a beachy feel- Definitely what you would expect from a place named “Monterey Tides”.

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After dropping our stuff off it was time to head to dinner. In order to not fight driving and parking, we decided to uber to the famous Mediterranean Oasis, Epsilon.

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From the decor, to the friendly staff, to the unbeatable Greek cuisine- this place was superb on every.single. level.

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ATTENTION ALL CARB LOVERS: You need to hear this. I was fascinated with their bread and dip combo. The waitress explained the way they make their dip is by actually putting sourdough bread into a food processor with olive oil, garlic, and salt (perhaps a few other secret ingredients too). Right before she walked away she said, “Just dip that bread into that bread!”. I may have to try making this at home. Talk about a fantastic pre-race carb-load meal!

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And their hummus…. hands down, no questions asked- the BEST hummus I have ever had. My mom took the first bite and I could tell by the look on her face that it was going to be just that. It was smooth and creamy- absolute perfection.

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And whenever there is octopus on the menu……

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Marco Prime’s is still forever my favorite, but this was satiating. It had a grilled flavor and almost tasted like steak. MMMM mm.

We also had to delve into their greek salad, because duh

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My mom and I split the vegetarian combo plate. Combo plates were created for the indecisive individuals in this world, like myself, so I was ecstatic to see everything we were wanting to try coming on one plate. It had imam byaldi (the “priest fainted” vegetarian eggplant dish), falafel, and dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves with rice and herbs). It all surpassed any greek food I have ever had, but the eggplant dish was particularly out of this world!

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And one can never end a mediterranean feast without baklava. Ya’ll know I am a strong believer on having a sugar-laden dessert the night before a race. Good Heavens, I can’t even explain…

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We headed back to the hotel to watch the peaceful, perfect sunset.

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We were in bed by 8:30 pm and fell asleep almost instantly.

3:30 AM my alarm went off and it was time to race! I was giddy and energized. I downed a cup of coffee and grabbed my No-Cow bar and Boom Chicka pop bag for the bus ride to the race. My mom drove me to the drop off point to pick up the bus shuttle at Embassy Suites (only a couple miles from Monterey Tides).

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The bus ride was about forty-five minutes- 30 miles south from Embassy Suites to the starting line. The race was a straight shot back north for 26.2 miles. I made some friends during the ride, everyone swapped race stories, goal times, jobs, and hometowns. The camaraderie of the Big Sur runners was unlike other races I have been. We laughed about the fact that this bus ride felt super long and yet we were about to be retracing the trek in just a couple hours. The scenery was kept secret by the dark nightly veil of mother nature, so even if you tried to get a peak of the views out the bus window all you could see was piercing black.

When we finally arrived, we still had about a mile and a half walk to the start. I had no clue where I was, but I just followed the masses of people as they unloaded off the buses.

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Finally! The starting line came into view.

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It was crowded. I get it- the forest isn’t exactly conducive to ten-million porta-potties and 4,000 people, but holy smokes, I really felt like a sardine!

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People lined the paths with coffee in one hand and a banana in the other. I love races for the people too- racing brings together all types. #peoplewatching

They provided fruit, coffee, tea, and water at varying stations around the starting line. They also have a truck for you to drop your bag with warm up clothes or anything else you need before the race that they then drive to the finish line. I loved this system!!! You just put a sticker provided with your bib number in the bag. After the race it was clear where to pick up your belongings and overall a super smooth process.

Now, if you are a runner, you know the STRUGGLE of trying to time the bathroom appropriately with the start time. You don’t want to go too early, but you don’t want to be anxiously waiting too long when everyone else is lined up at the start.

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And then it was time to begin!!! My heart swelled with excitement, my stomach filled with butterflies, and after taking the last couple days off running I was biting at the bit to get going. Considering I hadn’t trained much for this one compared to my other marathons I was hoping to at least finish without an injury.

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We started out in three separate waves, I ran in the second; the weather was pleasantly cool and the air smelled like pine and cinnamon. If there wasn’t enough adrenaline already, Highway One greeted us with the most intoxicating views at every turn. Each picturesque scene of the landscape had a way of taking your breath away while simultaneously giving you a second wind.

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I’m quite SURtain this is one of the most magnificent places that exists on planet earth.

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During these races is when I feel most myself, where I feel that all is right in the world, and all my cares dissipate with every step.

We embarked the renowned Big Sur bridge at the halfway mark .

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They even had a pianist playing whimsical tunes dressed in full performance garb!

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Around mile 15 I like to start using Gu Gel (they provide it twice during the race). I have half a packet at about mile 15, 18, 22, and then 24. It works!

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To avoid the head winds, I drafted a few different people throughout the race. Drafting works well, but you have to be pretty secretive about it, or you’ll creep the person you are following the heck out. Let’s chat if you’ve never heard of this. It’s essential for this race and saves SO much energy!

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YesSUR!

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At mile 23 they handed out the best strawberries I have ever had. It was similar to eating pure sugar! I wish I had snagged a picture!

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All done!

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Thank you, Aunt Terry, for the congratulatory beads all the way from New Orleans!!!!

Race Results!

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This was far off my PR of 3:38, but they say to add 20 minutes to your PR time with how challenging the course is (13th most challenging in the world), so I’ll take it. Plus without training for it and the stops for photo ops, I was happy to break 4 hours!

At the end of the race they handed out boxes of muffins, pretzels, cookies, minestrone soup and Sierra Nevada Beer. After races I’m not very hungry for about an hour- so we walked around a bit, basked in the sun, and then decided to head out. At this point I decided I was starting to feel my stomach growl. Warning: Once the post-marathon hunger begins, it’s insatiable for about three days!

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My mom suggested we go back to the hotel we stayed at the night before for Brunch (it was only about 11 am at this point!). She had breakfast there in the morning after doing yoga and said they had a great menu.

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She did not lead us astray! Multigrain avocado toast with poached eggs and a watermelon feta salad helped refuel the carbs, protein, and was still light enough to not upset my somewhat turbulent stomach.

And of course, mimosas are necessary after every long race.

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