The Virtual Boston Marathon Event!

Hello all! Welp- I just had about a third of this post written and then it disappeared. *Stay calm, stay calm*.

Anyway! After the awesome Baustin weekend, I packed up and got ready to head to Fort Worth for my pediatric rotation. It was such a blessing I was able to stay with my mom and Pete, even though it was tough being away from DJ for those months. We tried to see each other every couple of weeks. We were apart for about a quarter of the year- not fun, but I am so thankful he has been so stinkin’ supportive.

The last meal I had in Austin before heading out was takeout Lucky Robot sushi. I had a hankerin’ for their Tiger eye roll. Yum!!

In the morning I had avocado toast with beets and an egg before hitting the road. Sounds like an odd combo, I suppose it is, but I think it’s pretty tasty!

My mom and Pete have been working hard on making home renovations this year, and I just adore this ostrich art in the guest bathroom. I’m borderline obsessed. If it ever goes missing they’ll know where to find it, lol.

While I was there I was so spoiled by my mom’s cooking!

In the evenings after clinical, I would unwind by going for a walk or run in the nearby neighborhoods and trails. It was so relaxing.

More delicious eats!

And I must have been feeling some type of way because these memes were in my camera roll, ha!

Around this time I discovered one of my mackncheeeesy posts had been featured on Cosmopolitan’s website!

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So now onto the actual Boston race!

Also real quick- how cute are these Boston themed nail decals and necklace from my mom in law <3! I used the stickers but am saving the nail wraps for hopefully the in-person race later this year. 

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 For the virtual race, we were given a window of time we could choose to complete the race. We had to download an app to track our run, and they also had all kinds of fun things in there like your bib and such.

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I ran the race on September 13th, so the night before I was ready to get my carb load on. We looked for Italian restaurants in the area with outdoor seating and my mom suggested Ristorante Mulino. We could not have chose a better pre-race meal! This focaccia definitely gave me my carby fix!

The calamari was great too!

For my main pasta dish I had their truffle mushroom ravioli. It was heavenly.

Every single dish was exquisite!

When the mosquitoes started biting we wrapped up the meal and ordered some tiramisu to go. It was really really good tiramisu!

Although I always have the intention of getting a good night’s sleep the night before the race, I always have a tough time with all the adrenaline! We woke up around 5:30. I had oatmeal and coffee, and felt ready to go!

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I saved my water from the “expo” to have before the race too 🙂

My mom mapped out the Trinity Trail in Fort Worth for me on her bike a week prior. It was a GREAT trail! Since I had no idea where I was going she biked the entire race with me. It was really special. My mom has been to every marathon I’ve run, and it was extra special we could do *the* one together. I think this was the highlight of the race going virtual- we would not have been able to do this together if the race had gone on per usual. 

They provided a start and finish line in the toolkit, so that is where we got these print outs!

It was a gorgeous morning!

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I ran in the Nike Vaporfly Next% for the marathon! They were a surprise gift from my in laws <3 I could not believe it because they were nearly impossible to find! They were SO fast. It is like running on a cloud. It really does almost feel like they are practically running for you!

Every couple of miles my mom would zoom ahead of me and write a message in chalk on the sidewalk for me to see as I ran by. It really felt like I had the whole family there cheering me on!! It was too thoughtful and too cool. These are just a couple of them out of many. <3

For my fellow office lovers…

This is what the tracker looked like inside the app! I thought it was so fun that it mapped it out as though you were running the actual Boston trail. My pace was way slower than my qualifying race, but I was just happy to finish it.

Halfway there!

I had an awesome group cheering me on! Two of our family friends came out with signs too!

They would all surprise me at multiple different parts of the trail 🙂

I felt really good until about mile 20, which is usually how it goes. The last 6 miles were rough. Now, here comes the worst part. My app shut down at 25 miles. Yup, totally shut off. I reopened it and it was back at zero. I was panicked beyond panicked and was trying so hard to not let the water works start. It was my worst nightmare. I forgot to bring my backup watch with me to Fort Worth too, so I thought I was out of luck unless they accepted my mileage from my general health app on my phone. Luckily, my mom had also been tracking on her phone, so I contacted Boston’s customer service and explained the situation. They responded really quickly and said it would be no problem, accepting my mom’s mileage as proof. I was so grateful to them for being understanding and grateful to my mom for also tracking the mileage! I actually talked to some other runners who also said they had issues with the app too, so that made me feel better that it was likely not something I did and rather a tech glitch.

Made it!!

Aren’t they all just the best?

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This really felt like the pinnacle of my running career. It all started when I was about 9 years old running with my Aunt Terry along the upper peninsula in Michigan (I would also go on to run my first half marathon with my Aunt in 8th grade <3). 

When that love for running began, my dad would take me to the local high school tracks and I would just run around the track for as long as I was allowed. Then came cross country and track. A couple of days before the Virtual Boston race, I found this picture with my Dad…

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This was taken when I was in 7th grade after a cross-country meet. He was always so supportive of my running. I felt like stumbling upon this photo so close to this race, THE race, held so much meaning. With a few miles left in the race my mom said how proud he would have been. That meant the world. 

I am overwhelmed with gratitude to DJ, my friends and family that have been so supportive over these years. I thank God for them all. I also never thought I would actually qualify for Boston, so I am extremely grateful for this opportunity- even if it all looked differently than I ever thought it would. I cannot imagine a better alternative to the actual Boston race 🙂 

After, we grabbed a quick lunch at Doc B’s on their patio in downtown Fort Worth. Everything was SO good- but you must try the crispy jalapeno potatoes if you ever go!

And that is a wrap on the Boston festivities 🙂 We will see what it looks like later this year-right now it looks like there may be a chance for a race in the fall. Fingers crossed! 

Thanks for sharing in this special memory with me!!

Baustin Celebration!

Happpyyyy New Year’s Eve!! I have been sooo so stoked to write this post, and I’m hoping reading it will feel like we are ringing in the New Year with a celebration! Leaving off the weekend before starting our fall semester (late August), DJ requested we keep that last Saturday totally free. Fine with me! All I had on the agenda was an 18-mile training run. Little did I know all else he had planned. 

On that Friday, DJ recommended one last trip to Aussie’s, our new favorite spot in town. I was not about to turn down an opportunity for those shrimp tacos! When we arrived I had a moment of utter confusion when I spotted my mom, Pete and Halston sitting at one of the patio tables. I could not wrap my head around what was happening! I quickly learned they had all planned a “Baustin” weekend since I would not have the Boston experience we had planned prior to the marathon since it went virtual rather than in-person. I did not have any idea about all they had planned! They pulled off this surprise so well, and DJ helped coordinate it during a time he knew I wouldn’t be bogged down with school. *Please note, COVID precautions were taken*. 

We enjoyed some apps and meals at Aussie’s while I sat in shock, and then my mom handed me this itinerary for the weekend! 

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After dinner, we went our separate ways but then met back up in the morning to let the festivities begin! We picked up some Summer Moon coffee to go, along with some light pastries to tide us over to lunch. I’m telling ya- if you have never had Summer Moon- prioritize trying it if you find yourself in Texas! The “moon milk” will change your life. I like the 1/4 sweet moon milk because I don’t like too much sweetness with my coffee, but you can adjust to your tasting! 

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One place we have all wanted to go together since we moved to Austin is The Oasis located on Lake Travis. It is primarily known for its gorgeous views. 

We arrived around 11 am and made it before the lunch rush. Thankfully, there is plenty of outdoor patio seating and we were seated far away from anyone else. 

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They don’t have a reputation for having the greatest food around, but I thought was actually pretty dang good!!! 

After soaking up the views and fueling up for the day, we went to a place nearby to pick up a boat rental to take out on Lake Travis. It could not have been a more perfect day for boating.

We had the absolute best time. Those hours out on the lake were not only one of my favorite memories of the year, but of ever. Pete drove the boat and found the best spots to anchor down so we could swim. Swimming is one of my favorite things in the world, and we just swam and swam out there for hours. There is something about being in the water that it feels like the world stops for a second. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 0fb71966-71eb-43e9-8cf9-4750a7adb3e1-1024x768.jpgAfter returning the rental, we returned home and got ready for the evening. My mom then planned a whole “expo”. And she went all out. She had an assortment of “samples” (typically my favorite part of expos, hah) including protein bars and gu, hair-ties, other goodies, a can of New England Clam Chowder (ha!), and a lot of personalized Boston memorabilia including a Nike Boston Tank and Boston bag. A family friend made the coasters, coffee mug and wine glass! There was also the book Run the Mile You’re In. I definitely teared up seeing all they had poured into making this special and all the thought that went into it <3 I still cannot believe it!!! Even now writing about this weekend as a whole is making me emotional! 

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Next, we headed down to South Congress Bridge to watch the famous 1.5 million bats fly out at sunset. Yup, you read that right! The first time I saw this daily bat exodus happen, I could hardly believe my eyes. There were so many bats flying out that in the distance they almost looked like a cloud or a massive swarm of mosquitoes. It. is. wild. According to the Bats in Austin website, “People are simply batty for Austin’s world-renowned Mexico free-tailed bats and their night flight of 60-plus miles per hour and 2-mile high flight patterns, and feeding frenzy of Austin insects”.

We grabbed a spot on the bridge that wasn’t crowded and hunkered down to watch the flight. You don’t know exactly when it will occur, so you want to be there a bit earlier than sunset to make sure you don’t miss it. Be prepared to wait 30 mins-an hour. It seems like a long wait, but it is worth it to see once! It’s funny because when we first moved here we had no idea about it and asked someone randomly while walking over the bridge “what is everyone waiting for?” LOL. Then we waited forever to see them, and now it seems when we are casually out on a walk or run we see it happen pretty often! One time we were actually under the bridge when they took off, and that was an adventure in itself, haha. 

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I love this video because you can hear my mom’s natural reaction to the bats which mirrors just about anyone’s who sees this for the first time! 

It’s hard to capture the magnitude of the flight on video or in picture, especially because it’s hard to time up when they will make their first big exit from under the bridge. If you want an idea of the full experience follow this link and watch the video! 

After alll that swimming and bat watching, we were ready for some grub!! We headed to Geraldine’s to get our food on.  This is one of the most wonderful hidden gems in Austin in my opinion.

We entered to live music playing up on the stage of the spacious, industrial and beautiful venue.

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The dining experience was one of the most memorable we have ever had in Austin. Every single menu item was extremely unique and delicious with a beautiful presentation! They are served tapas style, so we tried a little bit of every magnificent dish! Every bite was… WOW. 

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I am soo stinkin’ grateful to my family for making this weekend so special. What was originally so devastating for me with Boston going virtual ended up being the most unforgettable, special memory. I joked with them that after all this, I better actually do well in the virtual Boston race! Pressure was on! Of course, I will recap the actual race next 🙂

I’d love to know:

  • What are you looking forward to in the New Year?

Aussie’s & El Arroyo!

Hey all! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas/holiday season, even if it all looked different this year. I also hope you have a Happy and Healthy New Year too! These wishes carry a little extra gravity this year, don’t they?

I am still going through the summer recaps, although they are flying by because, well, we didn’t do a whole lot outside of work and school. In July, I transitioned to my second clinical site for the summer at a family practice. I learned more than I could have imagined in a few weeks & I was able to secure the site again for the spring semester- woohoo! I can’t wait to get started again.

I was on a PB & Toast with a side of grapefruit kick through a lot of the summer. 

More Austin walks!

August 8th was our five year anniversary!! DJ surprised me these beautiful flowers <3 We had always said we were going to do something big for our five year, like a trip out of the country or something. Obviously, this idea was put on hold this year, but when we can travel again we look forward to planning something 🙂 I’m just so darn thankful for him and treasure each day and year with him. 

When we wrapped up the semester/DJ’s internship in mid-August, we had about a week and a half off. We decided to try out a restaurant we had been eyeing up for a while. Aussie’s is a local favorite and is more modest-appearing compared to the flashy restaurants on nearby South Congress.

Along with not being a total tourist trap, this is the most chill spot you will find around. There is a volleyball court that usually always has a game going on next to their relaxing patio. Food is way more affordable here than most ATX restaurants, and it is super tasty. 

Proof- their shrimp tacos (!!!)

The YETI Flagship store is also near us and we walk by it all the time. Ever since we moved here we said we’d have to go and choose some YETI mugs together! We didn’t own anything YETI at the time, but we knew people loved it. And it seemed like a must with the flagship store so closeby.

I settled on the white rambler mug for myself and DJ chose the stainless steel.

Later that afternoon, we decided to try out our apartment pool for the first time together since we moved last summer. It’s kinda sad it has taken us that long, lol!! (I briefly checked it out last summer myself, but I didn’t stay out there long since that day was particularly excruciatingly hot). Also, our apartment has a great system with a reservation portal to make sure there aren’t too many people at the pool at once.

We decided ordering take-out chips, queso and margaritas from El Arroyo would be fun to take out to the pool and have our own little “staycation”. El Arroyo is famous around here for their sign with its creative messages. You can see a whole bunch of their signs here if you need a good chuckle!

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We used our YETIs for the first time for the margaritas! We were amazed at how long they kept our drinks cold, especially since it was also blazin’ hot that day. 

Our pool day was one of our favorites of the summer. It was so relaxing. Without school hanging over our heads in that small moment in time, we just chatted while floating in the pool and enjoying the beautiful, sunny Austin day. 

Most days of that break I used to get organized- I re-organized my entire laptop making sure everything had a file, deleted unneeded files, etc. It took a while, but it felt great moving into the next semester. I also read a little bit, made sure to get my oil changed and was deep into my training for the Boston marathon at this point! I also had to pack for the fall semester for my pediatrics rotation.

I’d love to know:

  • Favorite memory from this past month?

Christmas 2019 *Rewind* 🎄

Hey heyyy! It is a sunny morning here in Austin. I am eager to get out and go for a run. Ohh, JK, I just checked the weather. 37F! We’ll wait a bit till we are at leaasttt in the high 40s, 50s, 60s.

So this post is a recap of our Christmas 2019. I never got around to it last year since I hit the ground running with clinicals in January. I said maybe I’d publish it for “Christmas in July”… welp, that didn’t happen either. I think it’s actually very special that I am just getting to write this post now. This year we are not going back to OH, so getting to relive last year’s festivities, prior to COVID being on our radar, is going to be bittersweet (with more sweet than bitter! <3).

Prior to going back to Ohio last year, DJ and I exchanged gifts. He gifted me this gorgeous Tim Cantor Collection Book. I was ecstatic. He knows Tim Cantor is my favorite artist, and there were many pieces in this book I had not seen yet! I have this book and Affinité on display on our coffee table. I actually just flipped through this yesterday in the morning with my coffee 🙂 

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On December 22nd, we arrived at the ATX airport. I grabbed an almond milk cafe au lait from Ruta Maya while we found our gate.

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I was still pretty full from breakfast, but to get something in our stomachs before flying, we stopped at Haymaker in the airport. I had a veggie salad and we split some poutine fries that were as good as they look!

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We met up with some friends at Burntwood Tavern that evening after landing and just chatted away for hours.

On December 23rd, I think spent most of the morning just hanging out with my MIL and Gordie while wrapping gifts. They are so awesome to let us ship all our gifts there every year.

Around 3 pm, I met up with Rachel to attend a Christmas production by one of the churches downtown. She heard about it from a friend at work, so we thought it would be great to check it out together and get dinner together after to catch up!

When we walked in, it was so cute with little cookie and coffee stands and a photo station.

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After the beautiful Christmas production, we went to Humble Restaurant in downtown Lakewood. it was a long wait, but we didn’t mind since it gave us more time to catch up!

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Also this place is so warm and inviting (I took this pic on our way out- when we got there is was jam-packed!). I had heard of the wine bottle Christmas trees- but I had never seen a chandelier before!

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You know any place with a wood-fired stove is gonna be tasty!

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We started with their roasted beets with saba, pistachias and ricotta. YUM.

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We also tried their roasted stuffed artichokes- oh my gooooodness. Delicious.

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We also split their caprese pizza which was divine. Everything we had there was phenomenal!

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On the morning of Christmas Eve, we woke up to this thick layer of fog to go with our coffee and breakfast. Easily one of my favorite parts of being home is just chatting together in the kitchen while enjoying our breakfast and coffee.

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Pool Noodle was feeling totally relaxed at home for Christmas too!

It was a wonderful Christmas Eve spent with family <3

On Christmas Day we awoke to have a wonderful breakfast and can you believe how stunning this tree is?!

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My Mom-in-law made an absolutely delicious quiche for breakfast. I don’t know if there is any better breakfast food for Christmas morning!

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We enjoyed another full day with great food and family <3

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And, of course, had to get more pics of the sweet Noodle.

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We had a spread of many delicious desserts- I had to try a little bit of everything. I mean how would you choose?! YUM!

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It was also a Christmas of playing code names!! This is probably our favorite game to play. Also, just to go on a little tangent here- I never really enjoyed card or board games growing up, but as an adult I love them. Is that odd? Anyone else experience that?

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We ended the evening with some spectacular ice wine! DJ saw me working on this post and went “that ice wine was SO good!”. We savored each single sip while sitting around a fire outside together. It was a perfect Christmas day!

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We didn’t get too many pics through the weekend, but we did get this one. We laugh at how far apart and from one another we are in it, but hey, it works for memory sake. Lol.

On December 26th, we had the evening planned with my side of the family. On our way to their home, we swung by one of our old stomping grounds with a covered bridge.

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At my cousin’s home, all my siblings and our niece and nephews gathered together to enjoy great conversation, great food, peppernuts (the traditional family Christmas cookie) and so much fun.

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We did a white elephant gift exchange among the adults, and someone was gifted the Beanboozled game. We played the game until every one had a spin, and the reactions were hilarious!

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More white elephant fun… hehe

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More family fun <3

On December 27th, in the afternoon I met up with my friend from childhood- Kylie! We met at the Nervous Dog Coffee Bar, and I ordered this delicious vegan cookie to go with some coffee.

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I probably have mentioned this before, but a little fun fact- Kylie and I have been “pen pals” ever since DJ and I moved out to CA. It’s so much fun to stay up-to-date through snail mail on each other’s lives. I am always on the lookout for a cute card when I’m out and about!

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After, DJ and I had dinner at Mustard Seed Cafe, one of my favorite restaurant in town (which is actually located within a grocery store).

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It was all super yummy!

Later that evening, DJ’s younger sister had a basketball game that we were so stoked we could attend. The game was great! She played amazingly, and it was really sweet to watch DJ beam with pride watching her. We are so thankful we had the chance to watch her play while in town.

On December 28th we went to see my mom, Pete, Halston and Kevin. After catching up for a few hours, we went to Austin’s Woodfire Grill in Brecksville where my Grandma Violet met with us.

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We had a feast of delicious eats!

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After, we went back to my parent’s friends’ home (they graciously offered to let us all stay there while they were away for Christmas). It was so cozy & we spent the night playing games and laughing. A lot.

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And then, sadly, we left to return to Austin the next day. we grabbed Sammy’s in the airport. I still remember how good that salmon salad was!

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It was a Christmas we will never forget. I am incredibly thankful for these memories with friends and family and celebrating the birth of Christ. It was so much fun to relive this post!

I hope you all have a very wonderful holiday season, even if it all looks a bit different this year!

I’d love to know:

  • What is one of your favorite Christmas/holiday traditions?

<3

Walking around ATX & Tacos! 🌮

Good morning, everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. This last week just flew by! Zooming right through 2020 (some would say quite literally), we find ourselves at the end of May. It was my sister, Halston’s, bday, so we decided to meet outdoors at Keller Park to celebrate her while keeping safe distance.

We played some cornhole (I am still terrible), exploding kittens (I hate the name, love the game) and just caught up! It was really special and easily one of my favorite days of the whole year.

We ordered some awesome eats from Devivo Brothers along with a yummy carrot cake. I know with carrot cake, you love it or you don’t, but our fam loves it. This one was good, but if you want the best carrot cake EVER it is from Gasoline Alley in Bath, Ohio.

Later on our drive back to Austin, DJ and I decided Sonic looked really good (as if we hadn’t had enough sugar already, ha!), so we veered off and grabbed a milkshake to split. It was a great choice (I cannot remember the last time I had Sonic!).

The next day I had to go get my car cleaned- it was just long overdue. During summers in Texas our cars can get dusty pretty quickly. Does anyone get slightly nervous in car washes? I am always irrationally worried my wheels aren’t aligned and that the spinner cleaner thing is just gonna just come through my windows or that my car will get crushed by it. Or maybe it is the claustrophobia of it all. IDK! Anyone else? Just me?

By the beginning of June we were in the thick of school, DJ’s internship, and for me, clinicals. I started out the first half of the summer at an Integrative health site! I learned quite a bit about diseases/illnesses I would not have elsewhere. Some of the complex diseases we managed were Lyme disease, PANDAS/PANS in kids, mold toxicity and chronic pain. I am grateful for the experience. I had a super long drive to get there, but it was a gorgeous route, and I looked forward to the drive each day.

Austin never ceases to amaze me with its beauty. I have said before, but this is the one thing I didn’t not know about Austin before moving here- just how stunning this city is! We have this huge green area pictured below smack dab in the middle of the city that people will exercise on, do work/homework or just hangout with friends. DJ and I have been meaning to do a picnic here. Hopefully we get around to that soon on a warmer day! (For reference, cold= anything under 70). We have grown WEAK!

Walks were our way of getting out of the house and clearing our heads over the summer. We took a lot. It’s funny because when you are so bogged down by school work/work you look forward to anything that isn’t studying- so for example, we would jokingly argue over who got to do the dishes, because doing the dishes meant time to listen to a podcast while doing some mindless task and not be studying for a moment, lol.

On June 4th, I wanted to show Deej this gorgeous bridge on Ladybird lake below at night I had discovered a few days prior. We had been on it many times during the day, but at night the way it’s illuminated with the city in the background is just magical. I remember on this walk we debated the existence of aliens. WoooOOOoOOoo.

When things started opening back up, we did some research into what would be a safe place to eat. We had been to El Alma’s before (after skydiving) and knew they had massive outdoor seating, so we decided to try it out. It was great, and we felt very safe. We were tucked far away from anyone else.

To replace exchange of menus, they used this QR code to access the menu. I think this would actually be a great replacement for material menus moving forward!

I still think they have my favorite queso around. It is so. good. 

DJ had their tacos, and I had their tostadas. Last time, I didn’t love the dish I ordered, but this time it was great!

We weren’t going to make going out to eat a habit, but it was sooooo nice to get out of the house for one night.

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On another walk during June we noticed these turtles doing some morning yoga. I’ll tell ya what, the critters around here have such personality.

On June 13th we watched The Matrix. I had never seen it before, can you believe that?!

I love when I drive down South Congress at night and see the regal capital lit up.

So, part of the reason this passed summer was so stressful is because clinical sites were extremely hard to find given COVID. I felt majority of my time was just trying to figure out my fall rotations rather than focusing on my school work, which was incredibly frustrating. I was scheduled for my pediatrics rotation for the fall, which was already one of the more challenging sites to get in the program, throw in a pandemic- and woof! I actually heard about this idea on a podcast, so I stole it to confirm a placement: I bought a pack of little mini shoe keychains from Amazon, and in a folder included my resume, cover letter, preceptor benefits and this little shoe. I mailed it out to different sites, and I stated I was “trying to get my foot in the door”.

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It was so well received and the practices loved the idea, but none of them were taking students at the time (understandably so). I am SO thankful my school was able to help me find the site in Fort Worth.

More of Austin in all its glory!

One of the nights I made some chili to serve with Siete chips. We discovered the brand Siete after moving to Austin (they are an Austin based company), and all their products are delish!

Have a great week, and thanks for reading! 🙂

Question for you:

  • Feelings about carrot cake?

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New Orleans, LA

Hi friends! How’s it going? This post I’ll be recapping my time in New Orleans while working on a COVID-19 unit as a nurse. So, I was going to make this post private originally, but I know a few have said they are eager to hear about it, so I will share. I will say, I am nervous as heck to share this because of how painful the topic of COVID is for many people right now and considering we are still in the thick of it. I wish there wasn’t a crisis to respond to. But sadly, this is the reality of what we are living through. I also want to say, I am not looking for praise or anything, nor is it warranted. I have been in outpatient for majority of this year as an NP student, so this was a drop in the bucket compared to the nurses, MDs, NPs, CNAs, RTs, OTs, PTs, SLPs, etc. who are in the hospital day in and day out. I do think, however, it is still worth documenting and sharing this very real part of history as I have lived it.

So how did I end up going here in the first place? Well a little background- I was in the process of getting a nursing job in a clinic setting while continuing to go through grad school. The interview process was put on hold midway through with COVID going on. Since I had about a month off in between my spring and summer semester, I decided to apply to everything, anywhere in the country to try to help where I could with COVID. DJ was apprehensive about it but also supportive. The New Orleans contract was perfect timing- I was able to take my final exam early, get to New Orleans and return before starting clinicals, just a touch late, after a two week quarantine. I was able to make up the hours quickly though. Anyway, I had never done a travel assignment before, and it had been a little bit since I had stepped foot on the floor. I was nervous for sure, but sometimes you just know you need to do something, and this was one of those times.

In mid-April I packed up my car and grabbed pick-up Starbucks heading out to hit the road.

f8c8eccc-2772-499d-a34b-75e604062c92It was a smooth drive. I just chatted with family and friends the whole time which made the whole trip fly. It was about 7.5 hours total. I arrived at the hotel I’d be staying at that was actually connected to the hospital (which was awesome). I just simply walked to work each day.

31be45c7-78f6-4053-b144-8abbd9220a25I packed my Keurig because, well does that really need an explanation? Lol. I also stopped by a Target when I arrived and stocked up on alll the snacks. I was thankful to have a little fridge and tried to get in veggies and fruit where I could.

68322de0-3e04-48fc-ae7a-0204098065ecWe were given a super-speed orientation given the nature of the crises, but it was thorough enough. I scarfed down half of a Larry & Lenny’s cookie before heading to it in the morning- this was one of my favorite snacks while I was there. It kept me nice and full & oh my goodness, they are tasty!

8edf121d-1d4a-4d7d-a58c-3a6dafb5ee2bSince I’d be working night shift (7 pm to 7 am), I stayed up as late as I could the night before my first shift to try to flip. I had never worked nights, so I wasn’t sure how my body would respond. Turns out I loved it compared to working days. It helped that I didn’t have to flip back and forth like most people who work nights usually, but surprisingly I slept so well during the day and I felt great and energized on nights. After the assignment, I joked that this explained my insomnia- my circadian rhythm is actually reversed, and I’m apparently nocturnal and did not know it.

On the 16th I woke up around 3:30 pm, did a short insanity max 30 workout in my room to get my blood pumping and then had some coffee and oatmeal while reading my Bible before heading into the first shift. 669290d0-b822-472c-aed7-b9425b9991fc^My basic-as-it-gets coffee mug from Target that I love oh so much. Lol.

For my ‘lunches’ on shift, I tried to pack things that were easy to eat but somewhat nutritious. My go-to was a mission spinach tortilla with hummus, vegan turkey, spinach, baby tomatoes and hummus. I also went through a phase with stuffed sweet potatoes too. In addition to the wrap, I’d maybe throw in an apple, some dark chocolate, a yogurt and white cheddar hippies snacks.

8677fde3-1fb5-4829-9ecc-ec9fe316f88fa9f91084-85db-4174-8fec-f4dd967fdc79I usually had about 2 cups of coffee before my shift, but sometimes would up it to three with the third cup accompanying me on my walk to the floor.

When I first stepped on the unit, it was odd seeing extension tubing/cords leading IV pumps outside the room (so nurses could have access without entering the room). Prior to my first shift, I was shown the supply room, given all necessary equipment while I was there and overall felt well equipped to do my job. I worked with solely COVID patients, so it was important that we used strict PPE. Some units I worked on required full “bunny suits” for the duration of the shift and others we gowned immediately before going into the pressurized rooms. The most difficult moments I had with the PPE were when a patient’s oxygen would plummet, and my instincts would urge me to run straight into the room without taking the time to don everything on while battling how important it was to protect ourselves too. It was also tough how we had to limit our contact and only enter the room for necessary interactions, and we clustered care like crazy (giving meds, turning, vitals, etc.). I wanted to just pull up a chair and be with them in this scary time- but it wasn’t exactly possible. The communication barrier with all the masks was frustrating too. But I tried to make the most of every moment to let them know how we cared and were doing our best to get them better.

Some of the shifts I had my own full assignment, other times I would act as a runner and help nurses out on the floor. Having runners during COVID is really helpful because if you are in the room and do forget something, you have someone ready to go retrieve it for you so you don’t have to doff and re-don the PPE.

After my shifts, I would take off the PPE before leaving the floor, put my N95 in a paper bag that sealed up and put in a specific pocket of my book bag, and then head immediately back to the hotel. As soon as I entered in the door, I jumped in the shower, then ate breakfast at around 8 am.

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I found I usually preferred eating my dinner before my shift and would eat oatmeal right before going to bed. I was on a kick with this mix above with pomegranate and Fage.

I usually slept from 8:30 am to about 2:30/3 pm. Around that time I’d get a call letting me know which unit to head to. I tried to get a short 20-30 min. workout in before my shifts to get a little cardio in and as a mini form of therapy. Then I’d eat my dinner, head to work until 7 am.

d534b66d-c93c-48cf-8d42-996550c9d160A few times I would stop in the cafeteria and use my employee meal voucher to pick up some delicious poke and sushi too.

About ten days into the assignment without ever stepping a foot outside, I decided it was probably time when I had a couple days off. A couple coworkers suggested a trail near the hospital. I decided to check it out, and it was the best decision! I just went during an off-time on the trail and stayed far away from anyone (with my mask on, of course).

6bf036f7-f900-4284-adef-713b0a6c9ac2cf0c53c9-7243-43a5-bbb8-7cdff6a0d96e82131dc4-d1d5-44de-a288-b5230d5da4debec7777b-091c-41b9-aa07-37ee91ad0995For one of my meals, I tried a medley of different cold items including beets, eggplant and couscous. It was a treat!

fde2f833-2570-46d0-bbb0-d1c099671165One day, I had a notification that I had a package at the front desk. I had no idea it was even possible to ship things to the hotel to get to me, but my mom and Pete sent me the sweetest surprise 🙂 (All the snacks were so good).

e82d99d6-2709-4208-a32e-c61962bcb77cAnother incredible surprise is when I was out on one of my walks my brother and sister-in-law Facetimed me and told me we had another nephew on the way!! He is here now and so perfect <3

2081f8a7-5c8b-48c8-b251-aef5dcc99e09Whenever I was on the trail I would look over the bog and see if I could spot any gators! (or are they crocodiles? I never know the difference).

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And what do you know!!! Do you see it? (pic below)

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There was all kinds of fun wildlife to see on those walks.

e34bb496-b8f3-40c1-a1cf-e722215da6d06592455a-4b39-4adf-9bfd-6fb855f4e149The sunsets were just gorgeous.

I had some ripe avocados I needed to use up, so I started having some avocado toast for breakfast. I had an herbal tea with my breakfasts usually to help me unwind and fall asleep.

3ebb32c0-79f3-423e-a03a-c7dfc825a53a6bca2531-468a-4052-a55b-895aeb3cd1b8f1fb528f-2739-4297-b2fe-15b846b68321faab852b-f87f-4a6a-9a16-a7932c1a0701I was there during Nurse’s Week, so we received the cutest little goodies! All the nurses I worked with on night shift were absolutely amazing people. I still stay in touch with a couple of them today. Also, I want to shout out the awesome respiratory therapists who go above and beyond to keep things afloat- I feel like they are some of the unsung heroes of this whole thing.

97781a22-c264-4e94-b13e-020fa61b7afe4c9df976-45a3-4612-b8f9-2a65e565730fI know this post is filled with some nice pictures, but on the other side of this is a devastating reality. This assignment itself was heart breaking. I don’t know how to describe it other than that- I felt a seething anger toward this virus, because all these patients should not have been there suffering the way they were. I hated that they had to be isolated away from everyone in one of the scariest times in their lives. Even writing now about it, it’s hard to find the words. This virus was just wild see up close- the unpredictable nature, the aggressiveness, the whack-a-mole nature of the complications…

Despite the hard and extremely sad moments, there is one instance that I treasure. Around 2 am, one of my patients could not fall asleep for anything, even after administering the PRN meds ordered and repositioning. I asked him if there was anything we could do, anything he could think of that would help. And he said in a dejected tone all he wanted was some ice cream. He did not know the floor actually stocked it, so when I asked him “chocolate or vanilla?” his eyes got wide with surprise. I went and got him some ice cream, and in order to keep his oxygen saturation up, I would take his mask off, have the NC going for backup, he would take a bite, put the mask back on if needed and we would make sure the oxygen was stable before giving another. We had a good little system going. Mask off, take a bite of the ice cream, make sure oxygen is stable…repeat. He told me about his family during this time and actually shared a story about an ice cream shop from his childhood. After eating the ice cream, he fell asleep. I cherish that interaction, and it was the most time I actually was able to spend with a patient.

6a45af56-b180-49f1-a7af-655b3a27c72249835a33-3c9d-48c6-8f50-e67a149e4922I don’t think I have ever experienced such a mix of emotions as I did with this assignment. Philippians 4:7 discusses a peace that surpasses understanding. I’m not sure I have ever understood that verse as well as I did in this experience. I felt covered in prayer because my anxiety, apprehension, fear was met with an unexpected stillness as soon I stepped on the floor- an internal stillness that allowed me to have a calmness, clarity and quickness that was necessary for my patients.

After my final shift, I was tested for COVID before returning to Austin. I tested negative, which left me surprised but thankful. (I still waited the full two weeks before heading into clinicals for an extra precaution). I went for one last run on the trail and reflected, unsure how to feel or process everything. Thankfully, the cases were decreasing and they no longer needed travelers by the time I left.

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When we moved to Austin, and I had a hard time finding a nursing position that would work with my school schedule and clinical travels, I started questioning my identity as a nurse. I felt like such a fraud at times. I felt my skills slipping further and further away. But being back on the unit, I felt that part of my identity cemented again. Thank you to all who prayed through the assignment. And please keep praying. Please pray that we do get this thing under control, that patients recover and recover quickly, this current spike is halted, grieving families experience are comforted during this time and health care workers are given the strength, energy and resources to make it through this. Thank you tremendously to all out there who have been and are still fighting this out on the front lines.

Stay safe and healthy, all.

North Italia & Snap Kitchen!

Hellloo! How are ya?! I am poppin’ in here to my biannual blog post (hah!), but for real with the pace I’m moving this year, it is not far from the truth. Anywayyy, I just wrapped up my fall semester and am back in Austin! Oh real quick- I was having some security concerns with the blog, so it was offline entirely for about a week, but I think we’ve got it figured out now. Fingers crossed! Also, WP- what the heck is this new block editor? I am not a tech savvy one, so this whole new format is intimidating me, haha.

So, I’m not sure where to begin. This year has been heavy & soo challenging- emotionally, physically, mentally. Every time someone asks “how are you?”, it is hard to answer honestly. And I know my problems are minuscule in comparison to what others are experiencing right now…But I do empathize if it has been an extra tough year for you too. I’m hoping the next few posts can highlight some of the good that has occurred this year though. And I do think I’m now in a better head space than I’ve been in for a while. Also, I always think I’m generally more thankful when I blog because it really does help me focus on the good even in the most difficult times. So I say it is time to get back to it!!

Shall we rewind to April? I believe that’s where I left off, LOL. Since early on in this thing we were using primarily Instacart for groceries, we tried foods from different stores we haven’t tried before. One of the delicious finds from Central Market was this vegan calamari. Of all vegan foods, vegan seafood always makes me a bit wary (and I eat seafood, so I usually just get the real thing), but this was surprisingly yummy!

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The highlight of our days between studying was taking walks around Austin.

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At this time I was going through the process of getting everything ready for my RN travel assignment in New Orleans.

On April 10th, We decided to have a last “date night in” before I was scheduled to leave that Monday. I was craving Italian food, so we checked out some take out menus and settled on North Italia. We started with their white truffle garlic bread <– have you ever seen so many tasty words strewn together?

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It was out of this world delicious!!!

For their pizza, we tried the Bianca with smoked mozzarella, aged provolone, ricotta, arugula, and lemon oil. Just like the monster cookie from Henbit, this touch of lemon oil was a unique and tasty ingredient I would not have thought would go so well on pizza.

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For my main dish, I ordered the squid ink malfaldine with white shrimp, calamari, acqua pazza, mint, fennel pollen, and calabrian chili. This was good, but actually a little bit dry. I think it could have done with a bit more sauce, then maybe would be perfect! You could tell the pasta was high quality.

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DJ tried their burrata tortellini with cherry tomato, basil, pecorino, and rustic tomato sauce. He loved it!

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While running some quick errands before my trip to NOLA, I decided to stop by Cuvee coffee as I noticed they had an outdoor to-go coffee bar.

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This was easily, hands-down, one of the best cups of coffee I think I’ve ever had. Definitely the best coffee in Austin yet. It reminded me of Facebook’s insanely good Saint Frank coffee a little bit!

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On Easter morning, we watched church while enjoying a breakfast of omelettes and english muffins.

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Easter was gorgeous! I was feeling a bit anxious awaiting my departure to New Orleans, but tried to be present soaking up the day with DJ.

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We also Facetimed family that day which was awesome and helped alleviate the nerves a bit.

Below is a picture from our evening walk.

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Although I was scheduled and ready to go Monday, the hospital moved back my start day one day, so I had an extra day at home before heading out. We ordered a few meals from Snap Kitchen so DJ would have leftovers for the week. I also tried to do some food prep and froze a few different meals to have on hand too.

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This meal was okay- not sure we will order from Snap again, but was definitely worth the try!

Thanks for stopping in 🙂

Question for you:

  • Please tell me how you have been/any life updates on your end!

xo <3

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Hey Strangers!

Hellloo! (echo: hello0o helloo hello). Anyone still reading this thing? Ha. I don’t truly know where to begin. Full disclaimer- the back-to-blogging nerves after being gone for three-ish months are in full force. The last few months have been really really challenging for a multitude of reasons. *Insert Taylor Swift’s Cruel Summer soundtrack in the background*. I know we aren’t alone in feeling this. In all seriousness, practically this whole year has been tough for everyone. And my heart goes out to all of you who are going through it too. We are just taking it day by day and counting our blessings. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to check in on us- it means so much that you’ve even noticed an absence and would take the time <3 I feel like I have soo much to discuss with y’all, and yet I don’t really know where to begin. Hmmm…one moment.. something feels a bit off….

**Turns on some background trash reality TV & grabs some ice cream**

Much better. Now it is time to blog!

So, the main things that have kept me from here are just lack of time with clinicals/school coupled with a lack of feeling creative. But right now we are between semesters and without something hanging over my head that I should be studying for the moment, I’m feeling that creativity creep back up, and I’m excited to jump in and try to write some posts.

And now I genuinely ask- how are you?

So without any real segue (those have never been my forte), let’s jump on in!

So let’s see. We are jumping all the way back to early March! And they say time travel isn’t possible. This post was around when we were finishing up our spring semester, so all these are highlights in between the studies! (All our times out on the town in this post were pre-lockdown). First, we started that weekend with some Kodiak Cakes… the pic is pre-syrup. Lotsa lotsa syrup 😉

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Fun fact: I often get teased (lovingly) for the way I say “syrup”. I say SEER-up instead of SIR-up. How do you pronounce it? Anyone else out there speak like me with a little extra emphaSEES on the wrong sylLABle?

That afternoon I went out on a beautiful walk and started seeing some spring blooms!

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It’s not quite the same as the California blooms, but I’ll take these pops of color! <3

That evening we had a dinner planned. We didn’t know it at the time, but DJ and I met up for what would our very last restaurant outing with friends for a long long time. We had about 1.5 miles to walk to the restaurant, but we don’t mind walking through the city one bit.

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We met up with our friends, Alana and Kyle, for some good eats and delicious wine at The Grove (a place highly recommended by my mom and Pete)! The interior here is so stunning.

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We sat out on their twinkling patio- a must if you ever go!

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We laughed because both us girls ordered the exact same dish (scallops) and both guys ordered the same dish (the Impossible burger).

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So thankful for that time with them! Can’t wait to meet up again.

The next day I made some super easy banana pancakes that were sooo dang good. Not sure why we don’t have these more often… especially considering how often our bananas get overripe. And then I throw them in the freezer. And then they never get used. Anyone else just have a lot of never-to-actually-be-used frozen bananas? Also, this is pre-lotsa lotsa SEERUP.

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I also baked some “zucchini” chocolate muffins from some random internet recipe that were so tragically bad I ended up throwing them all away. And I’m not picky, but oh wow, these were not great. Don’t trust all you read on the internet, kids… (even recipes).

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That week was my last food shoot for mackncheeeesy for a while <3. I have temporarily deactivated the account, but I’m thinking of maybe getting back soon. I do have a lot of good ordered-out eats to share!

Anyway- The food from Muro’s Pizza was delicious & the owners we met were so welcoming and friendly.

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You cannot go wrong here. Everything was super yummy, but our favorites were the artichoke dip and the pillowy fries (and the Topo Chico, which we had never had- but holy sparklin’ smokes that is some delish water!!

Now continuing through mid-March:

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Around this time I made us a TJ’s impossible burger + caprese salad (although this mozz. was different than the usual I get- but it still worked). One day we plan to do a side-by-side taste comparison of Impossible brand vs. Beyond vs. TJ’s.

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For myself I had my go-to stuffed sweet potato with Fage, jalapeños, avocado, beets and hummus. YUM

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That same day I went on a nice walk, and saw this gorgeous cascade of flowers outside the YETI store.

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To change things up for breakfast one day, I made toast with avocado and hummus & blackberries. I have been on a berry kick this entire summer. We can’t get enough of alll the raspberries/blackberries/strawberries!

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That afternoon I was craving a walk. It was a bit rainy out that day, but I was determined, and a little drizzle was not about to deter me that day. I grabbed an umbrella and hit Ladybird lake trail.

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It was actually so nice. I loved the calming mist and serene rain. Walking in the rain is so peaceful. I remember around this time listening ferociously to everything I could about the pandemic, but what I remember from this day the most is the sense of stillness and quiet.

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That evening I made a mix of Indian food, paratha and okra. The paratha from Trader Joe’s is my favorite. I just made my first trip back there in three months and restocked on a LOT of it, as well as the cauliflower gnocchi and some of their other snacks!

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Annnnd that’s a wrap 😉

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My rusty bloggin’ fingers love being back to this keyboard!

Question for you: 

  • Bringing it full circle- what do you think of T. Swift’s new surprise album?

xo <3

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The Texas Capitol, Sandy’s & Joann’s!

Hi All! How are ya? I am safely back in Austin. I still cannot believe how quickly a full month went by. I’m definitely still processing through some emotions while diving into this next semester. It is nice to be home though. Oh! some great news- I found out my clinical placement. It’s an hour away, but I’m just so stinkin’ thankful I won’t have to live in a different city this summer.

In this post I’m finishing up our fun little staycation spring break from early March (pre-lockdown, etc.).

After getting some poke, we dropped our car off at our apartment then walked to the Texas State Capitol for a little self-guided tour.

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Jus’ look at the beauty!

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Driving down South Congress and seeing the State Capitol bookend the road is probably my favorite site in the city. If you are curious to read more about the history of the capitol, there is a lot of great info here. 

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I think the the most interesting part was seeing the House of Reps and the Senate Chambers.

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It was pretty neat seeing this national historic landmark.

That afternoon, this package of Magic Spoon cereal came in the mail. I ordered it after hearing about it on a podcast. It’s created based off childhood favorite cereals, but with more protein and cleaner ingredients.

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Our consensus: It was worth the try with the discounted promo code, but we probably won’t pay full price to order again. It’s a nice idea in concept, but didn’t quite translate. It tasted very “protein-ey” and actually kinda sat like a brick in my stomach. I liked the blueberry flavor the most of all of them and the chocolate wasn’t bad either!

Once we unpacked our cereal, we rested our feet for a bit (our dogs were barkiiin’). After a while, spurred on by the heat of the day, we decided to try out the cute little local spot Sandy’s we’ve been eyeing since we moved here.

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They are particularly known for their hamburgers and frozen custard. We went to try out the custard this time.

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I hate to give a negative review, but it was just not our cup of tea. We love a more creamy custard than the frozen. Andy’s is where it’s at 😉 Next time DJ said he’ll have to try one of their burgers!

In the evening, we went to dinner at Joann’s Fine Foods on a whim. This restaurant is on South Congress. You can’t miss the distinctive red lips and bright neon sign.

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They always have the wittiest little sayings up on their letter board too.

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The interior was retro and fun! It makes me wanna go back one summer day in the afternoon and grab a milkshake with DJ while sitting on those stools.

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This time, we opted to sit outside to enjoy the beautifully balmy evening. It was one of those dinners we won’t forget- everything about the night was wonderful. The fact that both DJ and I had nothing too heavy hanging over our heads at the moment, the endless laughter through the evening, the perfect weather, the vibe of the restaurant and the delicious food- an Austin night that will be cherished!

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Joann’s has all these adorable little touches too- I love the little lips on the napkin.

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We started with margaritas and their queso and chips- yuummmy! In our queso rankings it is up there- we debated where it would fall- I think better than Gabriela’s, but maybe just below El Alma’s (I think that’s still my favorite!).

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They also brought out some complimentary biscuits- they were good, but the butter they served it with was necessary. The butter was salted with pink Himalayan sea salt if I had to guess.

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DJ had their barbacoa tacos that he loved.

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And I had one of the all time greatest salads I have ever ordered from a restaurant- the Rainbow Salad with lettuce, fresh veggies, avocado, toasted almonds, cilantro & mint, grated carrot & ginger dressing. The flavors, textures and freshness of it all was satisfying as could be! I’m thankful this is still something on their to-go menu right now.

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We decided to keep walking around town since it was such a gorgeous night. We went all the way to Rainey St., thinking we would be the only ones out and about that late, but we were not!

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The next day, we wanted to go on a big hike. We drove all the way to Hamilton Pool Preserve, which was about 45 minutes away. When we arrived we realized you had to have a reservation to go into the park- whoops! Now we know. We’ll be back with a reservation ready. I quickly looked up other nature spots we could visit, and Mt. Bonnell is supposed to be one of the best hikes in Austin. We drove straight there and jumped out of the car. I know there are great spots outside and around the city to get a true hike in, but this was more of an outlook just as an FYI!

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The views were still awesome though and we were glad we went!

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Immediately after, we decided to go see a matinee at the Alamo Drafthouse. As we were pulling into the theater, I received the first word about the Boston Marathon being postponed. I cried a bit in the car, then pulled myself together enough to head in. I felt silly shedding tears over something like a race when much bigger devastation was/is happening. But again, I’m so thankful it’s postponed and not entirely cancelled.

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We were the only ones in the theater when we arrived, so we ordered up a storm of food.

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We got some yummy sours, chips and queso, a massive chicken sandwich for DJ and a vegan pizza for me.

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I lucked out getting these pics before anyone walked in, hah. It was all so delish! I love the variety of food options at the Alamo & the fact that they have an entire vegan menu.

We saw the movie 1917. If you haven’t seen it, you must. It’s phenomenal. The thing that amazed me about it was the exquisitely simple plot that had a stunningly poignant impact on the viewer. The cinematography is breathtaking as well. I’ll leave the trailer here (idea from Maureen who shares trailers that always pique my interest!).

Question for you: 

  • It seems many new shows have been released lately! What are you watching?

*I finished up LTYH, and I was not super interested the last couple episodes. This last episode was especially over-produced. But I am a huge Rudi fan- hoping she will continue to bless us with her voice now that the show is over.

Have a great rest of the week! Hope y’all are doing well.

xo <3

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A Birthday Brunch, Kayaking & Poké!

Hey, everyone! How are you doing… really doing? I am in my last week here in New Orleans, and I cannot believe how quickly this month has flown. It’ll be an interesting transition back to days as I’ve become accustomed to that raccoon life (night shift) and living between the hospital and my hotel room. I start my next semester a couple days after I return to Austin, so I’m going to try to take one or two days to unpack, decompress and get situated for the semester, and of course, spend time with DJ. He did receive word that his summer internship job (the 14 week one) in OH is going to be virtual for the first half of the summer. Even though it’ll look differently than originally anticipated, I’m selfishly so stinkin’ happy he’ll be home. There is a chance my clinicals will be placed out of town, but I’m hoping that will not be the case.

Picking up on the recap posts!

Right around the first week of March, before the virus had affected much of Texas (that we knew of), it was my sweet Grandma Violet’s 94th birthday (Pete’s side). We worked it out that we would meet halfway between Keller and Austin in Waco for a bday brunch to celebrate! My mom discovered the restaurant Brazos, and it was the most wonderful choice.

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The restaurant is located in the Indigo hotel lobby. I loved their eye catching interior design.

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Some meal snapshots: DJ had their Dr. Ewing burger with cheddar, bacon and a Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce. He said he couldn’t really taste the Dr. Pepper necessarily, but he thought the burger & sauce was very good.

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^^And you know I stole many of those fluffy, yet crispy, fries right off the plate!

I split two dishes with my mom: First up the lox bagel (is it brunch without lox?) and….

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The veggie frittata which was everything. *Side note: My craving for eggs right now is out.of.control. I think the first thing I’ll eat when I get back is a massive omelette. Since I can’t cook while I’m here, I’ve been living off canned goods/non-perishable items, some cafeteria eats, and what little fresh produce I can fit in my fridge… but wowza do I miss eggs!

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Anyway, we had such a lovely time and celebrated my dear Grandma Violet big time. She has a heart of gold, is happy-go-lucky, and has so much spunk! Everyone loves being around her, and even though we only had that afternoon brunch, it was cherished time <3 We are all tremendously thankful we could make that happen before everything was lockdown- we had no idea that this would be the last time we would all see one another in person for a long time.

It’s also a huge blessing that Grandma Vi was here in the first place. She lives back in Ohio on her own, but flew down to visit my mom and Pete. Initially, they didn’t buy a plane ticket back, so she could just stay however long she wanted. When the shelter in place began she was already in TX and just stayed with them (and is still there now). They have been having the best time together. My mom even arranged for her to Facetime her sister in Scotland who she hasn’t seen in 26 years!! Special memories and silver linings <3

That first week was our spring break (the first spring break of grad school I actually didn’t have too many assignments to do). I wrote up a loose schedule of our week with all the places we wanted to see, all the food we wanted to eat and all the things we wanted to do. We decided we would be tourists in our own city, much like we used to do in the Bay Area 🙂

BRB… gonna go make a sweet potato in the microwave, it’s 3 am, but why not? Suddenly sounds so tasty.

OK, back. You know what would go great in this sweet potato right now? An EGG!!

Anywayyy- Our first food stop for the week was Woko Loco. It was a chilly day, so nothing sounded better than some hot wok noodle bowls!

img_1406img_1407DJ had their chicken bowl, and I had their zoodles with alllll the veggies and tofu. It warmed us right up! If you go, I recommend getting their “loco” sauce- mmm mm!

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When we returned home in the afternoon, I did an Insanity workout on Beachbody on demand (don’t worry, I’m not trying to sell it to you, haha, I just genuinely love the workouts) and then made us dinner. I spent the rest of the night writing up some posts.

The next day we went to the Rowing Dock and picked up a kayak around 9 am.

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It was so quiet and peaceful on the water; it is easily one of my favorite memories in Austin to date.

we row, row, rowed our kayak gently down the stream…  And by “we” I mean DJ, because if I learned anything from the experience it is that I have zero upper arm strength.

After a while I was pretty much useless, hah.

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We kayaked all the way out to our apartment and back- it took about an hour or so.

Once back to the Rowing Dock, we hopped off with our sea legs and shuffled back to the car smellin’ like stale lake water the good ol’ outdoors.

ee707d68-020b-420a-8cfe-37119f6d7651After cleaning up and getting ready for the day, we ran some errands. Then in the evening we watched the finale of the Bachelor (duh-v course).

While at the grocery store I saw this “Barbera” wine and thought how perfect it would be for us for Bachelor night. It’s not spelled exactly the same as “Barbara”, but close enough- ha! (If you know, you know 😉 ).

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The next day we drove all the way to Hamilton Pool Preserve, only to find out that you have to reserve a spot in order to enter the park. Whoops!! Now we know for next time.

Our next food stop was Me So Poke, home of the best poke in Austin we’ve had yet! This made up for the little let-down earlier in the day.

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And how cute is this wallpaper?!

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First we tried the California Bowl with rice, spring mix, salmon, wasabi ponzu, crabmeat, avocado, corn, cucumber, seaweed, sesame seed and spicy mayo. It was tasty but….

6c02a4f2-3f90-4016-8d57-3cb46475f220…my favorite was the dragon bowl with rice, spring mix, tuna, spicy tuna, classic sesame shayu, jalapeno, sweet onion, pineapple. cucumber, seaweed salad, edamame, crispy shallot and furikake. This is one of those meals I’ll be back for in the heat of summer!

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More adventures were to come that day, but I’ll save them for the next post!

Question for you:

  • What’s one food staple you wouldn’t want to live without? 🍳🥚

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