Filling in the Gaps… & I Accidentally Ate Meat for a Week?

Hellllo and how the heck are ya?  I have a few fun little nuggets I really want to log from before and after the vacay. Let’s go way back.

When I say we’re going back, I mean.. we going wayyy-ay-ay-ay back.

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**Warning**- this post is pretty sappy & reflective. It’s more a journaling time for me, but you are more than welcome into my thoughts & stream of consciousness!

On March 16th, I received the most delish & yummy chocolate covered strawberries from my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew for graduation. I miss them all too stinking much. My sibs don’t always pop up in the blog as much as I wish simply because we are an entire coast apart… but I just want to mention how thankful I am for them. I especially hate being this far away from my niece and nephew. One of my main priorities this summer is making a trip to see them. ❤

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On March 19th after working a few rough days, I was running outside and had a moment. One of those moments where you reminisce and are overcome with reflection. This flower below literally stopped me in my tracks.

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Why? Because the last time I saw this flower I was facing some seriously significant obstacles. I was in a tumultuous place emotionally, and I had nearly an entire year of challenges in my wake. I was defeated and nearly about to give up, although I was fighting tooth and nail to stay positive. I saw this flower, and with a rush of memories & emotions I was reminded of what exactly I had overcome. Seeing this flower felt more official than graduation in affirming that I made it through, but not on my own. It was God’s reminder and promise fulfilled that He would carry me through, that in His power we can do all things (Philippians 4:13). The same flower is blooming again. As cheesy as it is, this flower represents to me my personal growth & blooming in this beautiful, terrifying, wonderful career. As I stated in this post  where I saw this flower for the first time, “I need this stage to blossom”. God’s creation is a powerful thing ❤

On March 21st, I presented our neurosurgical research for the last time. The research council seemed to love it. They even said maybe we could stay in touch moving forward!

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The rest of the week was work, work, work, work, work.

On March 24th, DJ and I saw DJ’s younger sister perform in the ultimate cheer competition! She is growing up far too fast for my liking, but it’s such a joy to watch her! She is incredibly talented, and I am amazed at her poise. (She is at the top of the group in the picture below). Ohhhh, and they won NATIONALS! YES, nationals! After this competition we had the most incredible dinner at LB Steakhouse with the fam after. ❤ (Saturdays that we can get everyone together are rare, so this night will always be treasured!). (PS. Their bread popovers are what dreams are made of!).

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I know I’ve said it before, but one of the greatest blessings I have experienced in this life is DJ & DJ’s family. I think about often how I don’t know why God thought I was worthy enough to have not only the perfect husband for me, but also the greatest family. It made a bit more sense this year, because I think God knew I needed them. The encouragement from DJ & his parents and their unwavering faith in me is part of the reason I made it. I wouldn’t have even applied for this residency program in the first place if my Dad-in-law hadn’t suggested it. I didn’t think I stood a chance at getting in the program, but seeing his confidence in me, coming from one of the men I respect the most, gave me that motivation to even fill out an application. ❤ I think all the time about how that one simple conversation with him changed the trajectory of my life and opened up doors that I didn’t even know existed.

Beginning March 25th kicked off my PTO streak for my full two week vacation! After Church we went to another couple’s house that lives nearby for salmon & to hangout. Mmmm mmm!

The rest of the week I basically spent getting ready for the cruise, running errands, cleaning, packing, and making sure Deej had food available. (I also ordered Freshly! I will do more of a thorough review in the future- but we LOVED it. We are still using up our promo codes, but the price for the ease of making such nutrilicious foods makes it worth it thus far!!!!).

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Is running errands anyone else’s happy place? I just relish in facing the day with a to-do list and knocking out everything with head to toe athleisure, headphones in, and podcast on.

Monday night of March 26th, I whipped up one of our favorite, easy, but tasty meals of scallops with cojita corn & brown rice.

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March 27th was a monumental day. Not only was it my beautiful Momma’s birthday, but I found out that I was accepted into Duke’s DNP program!!!! Previously, I knew I was accepted into the Masters program, but the DNP was a pipe dream in my mind. I cried when I saw the acceptance update on my profile and re-read it about ten times before finally calling DJ. Here’s to the next 3.5 years of studying & the academia grind. I start in August 🙂 I still can’t believe it, I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet!

During the day on March 28th, I had my hair brightened up a bit at Limon Salon! I just missed the bright blondeWhen I get my hair done, I like to get the Olaplex treatment. It has hands down made a mighty difference in keeping my hair healthy and my blonde bright. Hair treatments can be ridiculously damaging, but this mitigates the harm.

The night of March 28th, I was FINALLY able to see DJ play basketball! I usually have to work the next day or am working the nights he has games so I haven’t been able to make any. It was a blast seeing him do his thang (number 88)!

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These team names crack me up. Deej is with the Enginerds. Unfortunately, one of the players tore his achilles tendon during the game, so they continued to play 4 on 5. But they held their own!

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And- can you believe it- on March 29th, I actually got my nails done?! (Not just the Walgreens glue-on ones, haha). DJ said they were “aggressive”. LOL. I cannot remember the last time I had my nails done- I think maybe for Clair’s wedding, but even then it was a light polish because I had to go straight back to work. I think before that it had been a year, right before starting nursing!

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The evening of March 29th, DJ and I did an impromptu date night! We strolled through whole foods and grabbed some grub from their deli. Whole foods selections are ahhh-mazing. It’s the ultimate Sophie’s choice for the indecisive veg-heads.

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I also LOVE their olive bar. It’s the most massive olive bar I have ever seen. *Heart eyes on heart eyes*

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I made a massive salad which basically included every item from the cold bar (and some from the hot bar), and DJ tried dosa!

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Dosa is a southern Indian dish. Think a light fluffy crepe usually stuffed with potato and served with different chutneys. I joke that I knew DJ was the one when he was willing to partake in Indian cuisine with me 😉

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Then I jotted in the AM for the airport!!! That brings us to my last three travels posts from March 30th to April 5th! (Isn’t it crazy how much can happen in a few days?!)

Part One . Part TwoPart Three.

Annnd heading to the airport is where I left off in Part Three. We had a bit of a sad mishap with the airport. To get from the boat to the airport, Rach and I took a Lyft. We were taking two separate airlines out so we had to be dropped off at different spots. We agreed we would meet back inside after going through our siloed security stations. Once we both made it through we texted each other to figure out where the other was…. welll …. turns out we were in entirely different terminals and BUILDINGS. We were so sad we didn’t get to hangout those next few hours together and never actually said goodbye. 😦 Good thing I’ll be seeing her in a couple months for a wedding, but it was too sad. We just kept texting each other and sending pictures (keep scrolling) of what we decided on for lunch since we weren’t actually together to have lunch. Wahhhhhhhhh.

I parked it at a PJ’s Coffee and read my book to pass some time. PJ’s was pretty delish, but still not my Peet’s ❤

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For lunch I decided on one last hurrah for a NOLA meal at Ye Olde College Inn. I was craving some comfort food as our trip was at an end, and I was isolated from my best friend by a gosh darn wall.

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I pulled out my book, enjoyed the live jazz they had playing and ordered some gulf fish & smoked gouda grits (FANTASTIC!).

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I just read my book while savoring every bite.

The flight back was the scariest flight I have ever been on. There was an insane amount of turbulence, I really did think we were going down several times. I don’t think I’ve ever shed turbulence tears, but they were streaming this time. I love flying, but I can definitely get anxious when things aren’t smooth sailing, or smooth flying if you will. I couldn’t wait to get my feet back on the ground.

When I saw DJ pull up to the curb to pick me up from the airport I felt like I could finally take a sigh of relief. We headed to one of our favorites- Stein’s– for dinner. We had our two favorites, the quinoa butternut squash salad for me and the fried chicken sliders for Deej.

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We munched away while I told DJ every exhaustive detail of the trip and every. single. picture. He has the patience of a saint.

On April 6th & 7th I slept until the cows came home and then did laundry from the trip. I had a hankerin’ for Thai Food on Saturday evening. We ordered from Amarin Thai in San Jose. I actually had to reorder from Olarn (my go-to Thai place about a minute away), because my curry tasted thairrible. I’m refraining from going on a thairaid about it… I’m not picky, but I truly couldn’t eat it. I will say their Roti was the best roti I’ve ever had though, I’ll give them that.

DJ said their Pad Thai was fine (at least it was edible). I ended up getting the Red Curry from Olarn, a thaid and true ❤ ❤ <3.

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Stop with the thai puns you say?! I’ll thai.

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On April 8th, we attended a lovely Sunday Service then I ran errands in the afternoon to get ready for the work week. I have a funny story for y’all. So when my mom visited for graduation she ordered a sampler platter and brought back the leftovers to help me out with some food prep for the week! When I tried “Oren’s Eggplant” I had a moment of, “this is maybe one of the tastiest things I have ever had in my life”. I texted my mom, “Are you sure this is vegetarian? It is so savory!”. She was pretty sure the menu didn’t mention meat. I was curious what made it so good so I looked it up online and it listed, a puree of fried eggplant, spices, caramelized onion, and hard boiled egg. Well naturally, anything fried, with egg, and caramelized onion is going to be phenomenal. So this Sunday when I returned home, I decided to grab hummus, baba-ganoush, Oren’s eggplant, and pita for the week!

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After eating it for about a week, I looked at the list of ingredients on the label for the first time, noting their was more there than the menu had. What else was in it? Chicken fat. LOL. I had accidentally been eating meat for a week. I’m really holding down this pescatarian life well.

April 9th it was time to go back to work. I was terrified to go back. I usually get anxious after three days being away, so after having two weeks off my heart was racing out of my chest. It all went just fine and I did not forget how to be a nurse in just two weeks. Haha.

April 10th, I took a nice long run outside and soaked up alllll the beautiful blooms!

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Thursday April 12th, I went to Opening Night for the SJ Giants! DJ has been working  hard in the off season, and I was excited to be there for the big opening day!

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I just love these games. I couldn’t find anyone to go with, but I definitely don’t mind going on my own. The environment is jovial as can me, nothing beats stadium food, and it was exciting to see all of Deej’s diligent work come to fruition!

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When waiting in line at Turkey Mike’s for a veggie burger, two gentlemen in front of me asked me if I liked pickles. I was a bit taken aback, and a bit unsure of how to respond to this random inquiry. They explained that they are one of the sponsors and they were selling their pickles at the cash register. Bahaha. When cashing out they bought me one. So, if y’all go to a SJ Giants game, keep an eye out for the Buck’s Vineyard pickles. (maybe the weirdest paragraph ever written on my blog?!).

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This is where my loyalty lies: GORDON BIERSCH GARLIC FRIES.

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I may have gone a bit overboard on the food, but I ran eleven miles earlier and was ravenous! (The pickle was okay– I’m a salt fanatic and it wasn’t salty enough for me. I’ll stick to my Vlasic. Sorry, Buck’s!).

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I plopped down with my food, bundled up in a winter jacket (It was FREEEZING that evening), and contentedly sat back to watch the game. Literally, no one was sitting by me. I was laughing at how hilarious this whole situation much have looked. Just a girl alone, eating her garlic fries, cheering her favorite team on. (The guy speaking in the background of the video reflects my sentiment). “Here we are! We made it!”

I didn’t last the whole game because my Raynaud’s started acting up, and I couldn’t feel my toes. I and my numb feet ran over to give DJ a hug goodbye and then warmed up back home.

We both worked all through the weekend. Now that the season has started DJ and I are a bit of ships passing in the night again. I don’t think I’ve seen him for about three days now. But we soak up the little time we do have together! Our date nights are sporadic and often last minute, but we grab them when we can.

Last Monday the night of April 16th, I made us pizzas, and Amy’s Margherita Pizza (One of DJ’s favorites) and I tried the Cauliflower pizza, which I loved and included in a Friday Faves!

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On April 17th, Deej and I had an impromptu date night! WOOT WOOT!

We hit up Historic Murphy Avenue in Sunnyvale for some good Mexican Grub. We just adore this strip, but haven’t made it over much lately. The last time we were here was March 2017 for St. Patrick’s Day!

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We hit Roberto’s Cantina for the best veggie fajitas and beef tacos!

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On April 18th, I hit up Trader Joe’s to meal prep and stock up on some fun new eats for the week!

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I sauteed veggies & Tofu to make stuffed purple sweet potatoes with hummus for lunches.

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And here’s what the lunches and snacks for the next couple days looked like.

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I worked on the 19th and 20th with a couple emotionally strenuous shifts.. But now I am sitting here being a lazy bum, thoroughly enjoying finishing up this blog post sipping my cups of coffee. I go back tomorrow, and only have today off. DJ is doing a seven day home stand, hence we haven’t seen each other since our date night and probably won’t see one another again until next week. Tis’ the baseball season. I’m beyond proud of him though. His creativity in his role amazes me & he is one of the hardest working individuals I know. Well, this post was obnoxiously long, but at least my OCD side feels like I am now caught up. Have a fabulous week everyone!

xo ❤

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Easter Sunday on a Cruise!

OKAYYY, being super honest off the bat, I had a really hard time uploading these pictures because they make me want to go back SO BADLY. I guess that’s a good thing though, right? Always better to leave a vacay wanting more! (that’s what my momma always says!)

After our amazing time in NOLA, we headed to the ship around 2:00 pm in the afternoon on March 31st. Luckily, our Lyft driver came with a mini van that had the ability to tote all our overpacked typical how do I pack my whole life in a suitcase luggage to Port. Speaking of the port, when looking at where to go on maps, Rach asked me if we were disembarking from “Port of Call”. I recognized the name, and said, “Yep, absolutely that’s it!” with the utmost confidence. Our sweet Lyft driver, mother of five with a thick southern accent, kept saying, “You sure y’all want to go to Port of Call with all that luggage?! It’s a pretty tiny place!”. We were so confused until she halted the mini van in front of a burger joint called Port of Call with no body of water (or cruise ship) in sight… Uhhh whoops! The reason I recognized Port of Call was because I had seen it on lists of restaurants when I’d done research! After we all came to the epiphany that that burger joint was not in fact our cruise ship and had a good laugh, we headed to the REAL port!

And we made it!!!

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The port didn’t provide the most gorgeous views around, but we knew soon the swampy bayou water was soon going to turn into a sparkling blue!

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And here is the famous Natchez boat out & about, New Orlean’s only steamboat!

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We boarded the Carnival cruise, Triumph. Carnival cruises are known as more low budget cruises, but I have always LOVED them. Sure, you face long buffet lines, rowdy crowds and youngin’s, annnnnd may have to fight tooth and nail for a beach lounge chair- but for the price the food is pretty darn good (and unlimited, hellllo!), the shows are magnificent, the people and staff are friendly, fascinating, and non-pretentious, and it truly is FUN. I’m a big advocate of Carnival, especially for younger crowds and people with kids!

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We made it to our room!!!

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We loved our room. It was more spacious than we expected and had a window facing the water. It only cost about $100 more to get an outward facing room rather than interior, and totally worth it. The views, especially at night of the water and the moon, were beautiful! (Also it helps with any disorientation and claustrophobia).

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We unpacked a bit and Rachel’s momma snuck in THE SWEETEST little Easter basket for us in Rach’s luggage. It was soooo thoughtful & special. Even though we would be spending Easter on the cruise ship, this definitely helped us get into the Easter spirit!

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She even included dark chocolate because she knows it’s my faveee. This was some of the best dark chocolate I have EVER had (actually probably THE best). Malley’s chocolate for the win. I literally carried it around in my purse with me the whole cruise so I always had my chocolate on me 😉 It didn’t last long as you can imagine!

Rach quickly opened the Peeps because she likes them stale, lol.. I have yet to try a truly stale one, but I could see it?! Side note- My Greek teacher in high school invented something called “Peeps wrapped in a blanket”… peeps wrapped in bacon. It’s actually a thing on urban dictionary , haha. Anyone have a Peeps preference?!

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We finished exploring our Cruise Ship, which for food had a Guy’s burger joint (with all the burgers & fries your heart desires), a seafood shack, blue iguana cantina, the lido restaurant, and 24-7 pizza pirate & ice cream/frozen yogurt.

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I adore this picture ❤

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The ship was stunning with an endless array of activities, particularly on the Promenade and Lido deck.

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We headed down to the first show (they usually took place around 7 and again at 9).

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We had the late dinner time at 8:15 pm, so we always went to the early show. I don’t have any pictures from the nightly shows because photography isn’t allowed- but they were one of my favorite parts of the cruise. The talent was just phenomenal. I have much more of an appreciation for the shows now that I’m older.

After the show every evening we headed to dinner. This is my favorite part of cruises. I LIVE for the evening dining room dinner. The tables were decorated elegantly.

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We were seated with four other girls that were our age. Sometimes you are seated with other people for the fine dining meal, but we weren’t upset about it. The conversation flowed well, and we enjoyed their company! And just to clarify for those that haven’t been on cruises, you can literally order anything on the menu, and as much as you’d like (minus a small section where you can pay $20 upcharge for lobster tail). I mean can you think of anything better than that?! Some of the dishes weren’t great, but others blew our flip-flops off.

I won’t include pictures of EVERYTHING we ate on the cruise, because that may be obnoxious… but I will certainly highlight our favorites!!!

I had the “Port Featured item” which was a cajun salmon. It was FANTASTIC!

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For dessert I had a tiramisu dish, which I loved. We always called dessert time SUGAR TIME!!!!! (this originated on cruises with my mom & sister- making me very nostalgic for them at many points during the cruise).

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Another part of cruises Rach and I both love are the comedy acts. They have a mix of family friendly and then some with more adult content.

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We always sat near the front for the comedy acts (go big or go home, yo), and for the first one we went to we were picked on quite brutally by the comedian. We took it like champs though and weren’t actually offended. After, we decided to grab a picture with him, and as Rach crutched up to him, he put his hands in his face and felt horrible realizing he had thrown jabs at the girl with crutches without knowing it. Lol!

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We were greeted by a cute little elephant when we got back to the room 🙂

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We snoozed hard that evening. In the morning of April 1st, I hit the gym and read on the treadmill which became routine for the rest of the trip.

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I LOVED the book I took to read on the cruise (highly recommend). When I vacation I like to read mystery/crime/thriller novels. Girl on the Train is the epitome of the type, which I read on our honeymoon. It definitely set the precedent. This time around I read Don’t Try to Find Me by Holly Brown. I still have a tiny bit left to read, but I’m savoring every page. It’s a pretty great mindless read. I also brought along The Book Thief in the flesh (or in the actual 3-dimensional book form) for when my Ipad was dying (I’m AWFUL about charging my electronics).

After we headed to one of our favorite memories from the cruise- The Easter Seaday Brunch (they know the way to my heart with that pun)! Rachel got us the CUTEST bunny ears to wear for the day. We put them on and headed to one of our favorite meals, and memories, of the trip.

Once again, you can order anything on the menu, as much as you’d like!

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And somebunny was veryy hungry!!!

I tried the salmon benedict & the Frosted Flakes french toast.

SO . DANG. DELICIOUS.

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I literally could eat this meal, including the french toast, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner forever and ever. This was some of the best & tastiest french toast I’ve tasted. It was the french toast of my dreams. Just take two of the best breakfast foods & mash um’ together! Any other frosted flakes junkies up in here?!

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Rach loved their steak & eggs..!

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We laid in the sun for a bit while reading our books, and then I heard over the speaker that they were having an Easter Sunday Service on board at 3 pm. I decided to go with no clue of what it would be like. Y’all it was soooo awesome, truly a memory I will never forget! I didn’t think it would feel like Easter at all, but between the sweet Easter basket, the Easter brunch, and the Sunday service it truly was one of my favorite Easter’s of all time. I was shocked how packed out the service was, there was hardly a seat open in the whole room.

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They played some worship music and then opened up the floor for anyone to share any special testimonies, praises, or prayer requests. I was surprised how many people were willing to share. One testimony someone shared included an anecdote about a woman from their home church who was told she would never be able to have a baby, ever since she was 18 years old. Now currently in her 30s, she and her husband decided to adopt a baby. After going through the whole adoption process, the little baby was taken away and given back to his biological parents. However, at the exact same time of this devastating loss of the adopted baby, she found out she was pregnant! God is so gooood.

I was in tears by the end of it because the things people shared were moving, powerful, and awesome. Then we all sang Amazing Grace together. It truly was a special reminder that Church can truly take place anywhere, it’s all about the people worshipping the same God- not the place.

Easter evening the cruise hosted formal night, wooohoo!We glammed on up, took our fair share of pics, then headed to the evening show.

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Everyone thought we were sisters, I mean we basically are ❤ Was not mad about the assumptions!

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Like I said, our fair share of pictures!

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After the show we salivated toward the dining room. Yum yum yum!

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That night we had some savory scallops (that I gobbled up before getting a good picture, whoooopsie), oven baked Japanese sea bass, and baked stuffed mushrooms. Mmmmm Mmmmmm mmm!

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This was much longer than expected, so next post I’ll recap our Cozumel excursion! 🙂

xo ❤

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Napa & Sonoma Part Two… & Graduation Day!

Annnnd here we are! Round two!!! Welcome welcome to perhaps one of my favorite recaps of all time. I am going to conclude our incredible time in wine country (if you missed part one, peep it here) then recap the rest of last week. I’ve just caught up with my favorite Peet’s barista while holding up the line (apologies to my fellow coffee addicts), have a cup in hand, and am situated in my favorite spot looking out the rain sprinkled window for the next couple hours. I don’t have any studying, applications, projects, or any other big “must dos” on my to-do list for the first time in years. I feel like I am breathing, really truly breathing. And this oxygen is quite nice. Inhale, exhale, sip some cafe au lait, repeat. Join me?

After we finished up at the brilliant Castle, we headed over to Frog’s Leap winery. I would say if you only have limited time in Wine Country Rambauer and Frog’s leap are the two I would recommend. Also, Kalpana, a friend that lives in Los Gatos, shared some amazing tips as well in the comments of the last post, so definitely take time to read those over too if you are looking for suggestions!

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Frog’s Leap is what I would equivocate to heaven on Earth. It is a floral oasis with winding gardens in the middle of a quiet cozy valley. Reflecting on it almost feels like a dream, the warmth of the sun and the wine as we walked around the Switzerland remnant abode nearly left me half expecting Julie Andrews to start serenading the visitors with Sound of Music.

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Halfway through our exploration of the majestic vineyard, I remember telling my mom no amount of pictures could do this place justice. And now I will say it again! Darn, guess you’ll just have to visit it yourself!

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Maybe I should put those sunglasses to use? Just an idea?

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We reluctantly left this ethereal destination only to follow a path just as beautiful onto our next destination. At one point we had to stop just to take in the most stunning natural spring of flowers we have ever seen!

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Adoring God’s creation can really work up an appetite. We headed to Mustards Grill upon my Uncle Pat’s recommendation. Good thing I just had a snack because even looking at these pictures my stomach is growling again! O my lanta, if you need a place to eat in Wine Country, I’ll tell ya, your decision is made- GO here!

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We started with the BEST calamari dish ever… crispy calamari with curried slaw and fresno chili. Yumayumayummm.

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Deej had their half Pound niman Ranch Hamburger or Cheeseburger, house-made pickles, french fries. I love how everything has a little touch of Mustard too on their dishes.

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My mom and I of course split their special Halibut. And we also split a glass of their recommended pinot grigio for the halibut. I am not even kidding, this halibut was some of the best of all time. And for it being split, they gave us such a generous serving. We didn’t leave one nibble to be consumed. It was tremendous. It was so good that momma Jill decided to purchase a cookbook to take home. Her and Pete like to collect books from places as souvenirs. Such a fun idea!

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We then headed to our last stop for the day- Domaine Carneros.

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This chateau is the oldest sparkling wine house in all of Napa.

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It’s pristine winding staircases leading up to a mammoth mansion overlooking the miles of vineyards, mountains, and rolling hills was a picturesque site to behold..

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We tried their sampler of sparkling wines with some roasted almonds. Once again, hate to be the bearer of bad bubbly, but we all agreed we preferred our Almond sparkling wine from Trader Joe’s.. Maybe we just didn’t try the right ones?! Certainly worth the experience though!

DJ had to head back that evening to work the next day, but my mom, Pete, and I watched Fixer Upper and ate our leftover desserts. Pete was feeling much better by this point!

That evening my mom handed me a big thick envelope. I had no idea what it could be. Inside were pages on pages of prayers she has wrote out for me through this year . I have cried reading her cards in the past, but this just pulled the heart strings next level. This was one of the most special gifts I have ever, EVER received. I still haven’t finished them all yet, it may take a while, but I cry every single time I read one. She has always set such a great example for us of what it looks like to be in true relationship with Christ and how prayer is not just about requests or bringing struggles, it’s about the conversation. The prayers are so real, honest, and raw. I truly believe the only reason I made it through this year was because of her and others’ prayers. I did not make it through on my own strength, there is no way. Thank you again, Mom<3

In the morning of Monday the 12th, I headed back a bit before my mom and Pete did to get my speech finished up for the next day, to run a couple errands, and do a quick couple loads of laundry. I was just following my GPS and lo’ and behold, stumbled right on through the Golden Gate. Don’t you love it when that happens?

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In the evening, we all met at Willard Hicks in Campbell. DJ and I have wanted to try this place out for a while, but it’s near impossible to get a reservations.

Time to put this place to the test! DJ’s mom, Laura, who hasn’t been here in a YEAR (you may remember this epic weekend), was able to come for graduation! It meant the world that she wanted to come in the first place. She has been one of my main shoulders to lean on and always an ear to listen through this wild ride of a year ❤

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So with the WH— LOVED the ambiance. I was expecting a pretty fancy steakhouse, based on the menu and wait, but it had a more casual sports bar feel, yet with a touch of pizzazz.

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We started with the exquisitely exotic willard hick’s baked brie. It came with phyllo wrapped baked brie with roasted veggies, whole roasted garlic (like still in the bulbs), dried fruit, chutney, and crostini. I probably do not need to even rave about how fantastic this was.

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We also had to try their iron skillet poblano cornbread. This may have been my favorite part of the whole meal. The sweet creamed corn was perfectly moist (sorry moist haters). We savored every single nibble.

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For entrees (everyone in my family is a saint for letting me be “That” person snapping pictures of their food)… anyway, Pete tried their awesome short ribs!

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Of course, my mom and I split the scallops with some of the most delectable mushroom risotto to ever grace our taste buds. The scallops were cooked to savory perfection and the small little critters carried the most divine flavor!

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Both DJ and my mom in law had the swordfish. Of course I snuck a nibble- it was mmm mmm mmm good!

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Sides- Butternut squash, Horseradish mashed potatoes, & Brussels. Can’t go wrong with those!

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I love these people more than words can say!

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The next day, March 13th, was graduation time!!!! I have yet to do a one year reflection post, and I will save most of my thoughts for that. But this was a HUGE day. HUGE. I honestly didn’t think I would make it to this point. I presented my research project that I have poured endless hours into, gave my speech (which went very well- thank you for your prayers & encouragement about that!), and lastly was given a certificate that I prize more than my high school or college diploma. This certificate states that I completed the Residency program, but to me, it symbolizes surviving the hardest year of my life.

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Also, I am so excited to share I was nominated Employee of the Month! When I saw the announcement in a staff e-mail I thought it was a mistake, or that there was perhaps another Mackenzie on our unit I was unaware of. Surely, it couldn’t be me?! This warmed my heart more than I can express. I feel like I fail and am incompetent on a daily basis, but it was beyond affirming that others think otherwise. I do not at all feel deserving, but it just motivates me to live up to the honor! Within a couple weeks I was accepted into my first choice for grad school, graduated from my residency program, had the most tremendous memories with my family, and then this?! Too much to handle. God is good and He is faithful. I was able to show my family the unit I work on, and of course my mom whipped out her phone for the picture below as I started blushing and quickly walking away. lol. It was great to finally show them where I work though after endless  conversations over this past year about it all!

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To celebrate, I was having a hankering for True Food kitchen which is nearby the hospital. Subconsciously, I think there is a reason I was craving this. After I took my NCLEX nearly a year and a half ago, DJ and I celebrated by going to True Food. I think it has officially become the place to go after super high stress events?!?

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I love that all the food is organic and wholesome, but it’s also annoyingly delicious (annoying meaning I crave it allll the time, but can’t get it enough to satisfy my craving).  Anyone else get that? All the girls tried the thai grapefruit martini… absolutely refreshing and not too terribly sweet.  Pete had their bloody! Can’t go wrong with a good bloody.

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Meals! Boy, can we eat. Us girls tried variations of their ancient grains bowl, which is my favorite thing I have had here yet (although their fall butternut squash and ricotta pizza is pretty flame- wood fired to be exact). This included miso glazed sweet potato, turmeric, charred onion, snow peas, grilled portobello, avocado, and hemp seed. Definitely something that could be recreated (although I probably could never make it taste quite as yummy). You can add shrimp, tofu, chicken, or steak too!

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DJ had their TLT again (tempeh, lettuce, and tomato). SO GOOD. You would never know the bacon wasn’t bacon.

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Pete had their spicy panang curry with organic potato, long bean, bok choy, carrot, thai basil, and coconut shrimp broth with chicken! I’m telling ya, their menu is super diverse- something for everyone!

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After the amazing lunch, DJ had to go to work, and Pete decided to take a little nap back at home. However, the ladies of the group were not about to turn down a stroll through a mall. We waltzed and frolicked (inside blog joke, anyone?) through the mall. It was a blast. Even the next day we were talking about how much fun it was to just peruse the mall together.

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Last, I just want to share something pretty special. When we were at Casillo Di Amorosa, my mom suggested we both get bracelets as a sweet way to remember our trip. We both picked out our own special color, and usually I would go for a neutral tone, but I couldn’t get over how pretty the periwinkle-like purple was. A couple days later I opened up a gift from my mother-in-law. I was blown away by the thoughtfulness of the gifts (I’m saving a couple for a Friday Faves), but I want to share one. This gorgeous necklace is Amethyst. She explained the amethyst represents healing powers and that this is what I give my patients. I cried when I read this. So beyond thoughtful, and something I will forever treasure ❤

I also realized both the Castillo di Amorosa stone matched the amethyst and loved how well the two go together. Wearing this jewelry will always remind me of the strong, prayer warrior women that have been my rocks to stand on, my source of wisdom, and my encouragers.

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I have never been so emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted as I have been this past year. And yet, in this moment I have never been so utterly fulfilled. Thank you for coming on this journey with us. Love to you all.

xo ❤

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Napa & Sonoma Part One …. And Some Big News (finally!) :)

Hello, All!!! Wow, so much has happened in just a couple weeks… I’m not sure even where to begin!!! I am coming off working nearly every darn day this past week and weekend, so bear with me as I type as a victim of far too much caffeine consumption on this lazy afternoon. It took exactly three cups of coffee to nurse that nursing hangover (which is such a thing, I promise).

I have debated whether to share my final grad school decision in this post or in the next one. Let’s be real, I don’t have that type of patience to wait….. so I’ll just share right here, right now… You know that last school I was waiting to here from?! Well verdict is in….I WAS ACCEPTED! I was accepted into my #1 choice program for MSN- Duke School of Nursing! My DNP portion (Doctorate of Nursing Practice) is still under review, but that affects me more in a couple years (from MSN into DNP).

What does this mean?! 

Well, DJ and I will be staying in California! I am so relieved because neither of us felt like it was quite time to fly the Cali coop just yet. He is loving his job more and more by day, and I’ve grown pretty attached to our new lives we have built. We know it’s not forever, but it just feels so premature to leave now- DJ’s sister JUST moved out here, we love our Church, and….. Peet’s. I mean Peet’s… come n’ now. How can I leave my love just yet? I have been having serious chats with God saying if we are supposed to stay please make this a possibility with Duke. Nashville was terribly tempting, but we always say, “Hey if we wanna move there one day, then we will make it happen!”. I’ll be doing their distance based program which means I will be flying to NC every now and again for on campus intensives, but my clinicals will be at a local hospital and classwork online.

I probably won’t make a formal announcement anywhere else until I officially send back the acceptance letter, but I couldn’t wait any longer to tell y’all. Thank you for allll your prayers, words of encouragement, and pep talks since OCTOBER. From the GRE to the exhaustive applications to the interviews, to the waiting, waiting, waiting… it’s meant so much that y’all have had my back.

Now, back to our main course. Sooo guess what? We did the whole “wine country” thing last weekend! I worked hard into Friday March 9th so that I could have the whole weekend off and Monday as well. On Saturday, the 10th, I poured an extra cup o jo’ and dodged off to Sonoma to meet my mom and stepdad, Pete, in the quaint area of Glen Ellen.

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They rented this SUPER adorable Air BnB for the weekend. We kept saying we could live there! If you want specifics on this place, I’d be happy to share with you…. highly recommend if you need somewhere to stay in Sonoma for a couple nights at an affordable price!

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We wasted not one beat and headed to our first stop (well my first stop- my Mom & Pete had a whole day of ‘splorin’ already under their belt). This gorgeous, serene place below is Ledson Winery.

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Downton Abbey vibes? Yeah, me too.

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I’m going to include quite a bit of detail about the wines for my own reference next time we go and for any other fellow oeniphiles (lovers of wine). If you don’t care, then just feel free to skip over all the wordiness 😆

We did a fantastic tasting and found our favorites from this winery included their Bordeaux blend (Good lawd, so tasty) & their steel barrel Chardonnay. I don’t like Chardonnay usually at all, but I relished in the flavor of the steel barrel one. It’s lighter on the tongue, more like a pinot grigio, and leaves out the oakiness. (bahahaha, like how I act like I know what I’m talking about from a couple days in wine country?! Feel free to correct my amateur knowledge). The Bordeaux wasn’t on the tasting list, but the very knowledgable and passionate sommelier gave us a sample off the menu. This sample translated into one of the greatest sips of wine we have ever tried. The flavor just lingered and lingered. Since at this point I know I am officially starting grad school this fall, I asked DJ if my reward for graduating grad school could be a bottle of Bordeaux. Only two years away, y’all! (Maybe 3.5 years if I get into the DNP program).

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The two cutest Texans in all of Wine Country!

img_0415We then zipped over to Jacuzzi winery, a famous stop in Sonoma with a cute gift-shop, oil tasting store, and winery all in one (AKA all you need… it’s like the 7-11 of all wineries… although I have a feeling they may feel offended by that comparison).

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Half way through the tasting, DJ waltzed through the door! (PS. when he reads this later he’s gonna say… “Why did you use the word waltz? I didn’t waltz!” Just like he doesn’t like when I use the word frolic for verbiage. LOL).  Thennnn he’s gonna say I always make him look like a grump in my blog posts… Babe, we all know you are the life of the party, okurrrrr?

He had to work Saturday, so we left at different times, but we were stoked he was able to join in!

Review of Jacuzzi- To be honest, none of their wines “wowed” us like Ledson’s did. Plus their server was a bit more aloof (we discovered the person serving can make or break the experience!). I think we had more fun trying out their oils than their wines.

Directly across the street from Jacuzzi winery is the famous Cline Family Cellars. It feels as though you step onto the grounds of Charleston. Sheep graze along the drive in and willows cascade the entire property.

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I wish I was half as photogenic as she is!

We actually ended up buying bottles here because they were decently priced and absolutely superb. They also waive the tasting fee if you purchase, so it made sense. We loved both the Cashmere white and red blends. The red blend reminded me of a nice smooth cab.

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For dinner, we headed back to Jack London Village and decided to try their promisingly authentic Indian restaurant.

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Yeti is a tiny little unassuming Indian and Nepalese restaurant overlooking the vast Sonoma landscape. The hot (hot as in knock ya dead spicy- just how we like it) food was a perfect contrast to the new cool briskness that started taking over the evening.

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We started with our favorite appetizers, Samosas, with a few chutney options. (Mmmm). Watch out for the red one though- it’ll get ya!

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My mom and I split a couple entrees. We typically do this when we go out because there are always two that we can’t decide between. First we tried the Shahi Prawn Tandoori that was presented sizzlin’ sizzlin’ away.

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We also split the Began Bharta (eggplant). I couldn’t decide which I liked better. They both were phenomenal.

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The men both ordered the classic, never fails ya, Chicken Tikka Masala.

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We ordered everything with a side of perhaps the best naan I have ever had, white rice, and brown rice.

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After, we stopped by the near grocery store to pick up some sweet treats. My mom and I still can’t shake how bomb the grocery store soft homemade sea salt caramels were. Dang, I really should have packed a bunch for the road. First stop when we go back to wine country: The local Glen Allen grocery store for some caramels!!!

Unfortunately, something didn’t agree with Pete that night and he was out for the count through the next day 😦 What we all did agree on is that it’s a perfect excuse for them to make another trip out sometime soon to make up for that lost time!

In the morning of Sunday March 11th, momma Jill and I did a hard workout in the little sunroom for about an hour. We were going to run together, but it was far too bitter. She did yoga and I did a youtube cardio workout. I just love love love working out with her! She motivates me.

After, my mom made a delicious spread of cheeses, crackers, berries, eggs, bacon, toast, and coffee. My mom and I made our favorite avocado toast with egg whites, sea salt, pepper, and some paprika and cumin on top. Since it’s getting warmer out again I have been loving this in the mornings.

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We packed up the rest of the cheese and crackers (and beyond satiable fig jam) with us to our wineries for the day!

The drive alone made us all giddy with excitement. The views are truly breathtaking with fog resting on the tree tops and vast miles of forest. The closest beauty I have ever seen was probably  Big Sur or Tahoe (well if we are talking US.. obviously Bora Bora wins the gold medal). Wait, Grand Canyon too. But that’s like next level. Ugh, I don’t know. It’s all so pretty!

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We were in for a treat. Feeling as though we were trespassing, we snaked in through a metal gate, by a few gargoyles, and onto a long drive that led straight to a castle. Yes, a castle.

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This unique winery is none other than Castello Di Amorosa.  In this moment I realized wine country is not simply vineyards lined up with exorbitantly priced bottles of vino. It is matter of fact, adult Disneyland. I know I said Trader Joe’s held that title a few weeks ago. I recant that statement. It’s wine country. Trader Joe’s is like Cedar Point…. Wine Country is Disneyland. Each winery has it’s own history, ambiance, specific wine it’s known for, and grounds to explore.

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The fog from the morning lifted, the sun started warming the grounds, and the peacocks came out to play.

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How’s about I just let these pictures speak for themselves?!

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We did the general admission and headed down to their actual cellar for the tastings. We were greeted by an enthusiastic Italian man. His thick accent and the cellar lined with wines and pasta could easily trick one into thinking they are in the heart of Italy.

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We ended up buying their La Fantasia. This is a late harvest dessert wine, and me oh my is it everrrr delicious. DJ and I both loved it (and I’m not even a fan of dessert wine). We decided we would open it up on the premiere of the Bachelorette (LOL). Seriously though, can you think of a better occasion?!

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Next we headed to a winery that was pretty modest aesthetically compared to the other wineries we had been to. It was not a stone mansion, nor a grand estate. It almost had more of an office feel when you walked in the door. We discovered quickly that they didn’t need anything to stand out, simply because their views and wines did. We all agreed Rombauer had the hands down, glasses up, best wines of any we had tried (and even after the next couple wineries we went to we still stand by that).

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Every single one we tried, wine after wine, was a wine-ner. I’m not a fan of Zinfandels, but I loved Rombauer’s. It was absolutely magical. I still am not sure why we didn’t purchase it (yet another reason to go back).

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Even their walls are educational- how bough dat’

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The aficionado showed us 3D maps of wine country, gave us an explanation of where the grapes grow, and helped explain which foods would pair best with what we were having.

When we got to the dessert wines, he explained blue cheese was the perfect compliment. My mom and I exchanged knowing looks and both said, “We have some in the car!”. He said it was totally fine to bring it in, so we whipped out our cheese and crackers, had that delicious dessert wine with blue cheese, and made some new friends from Nevada who helped us munch it all down.

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I guess I’ll stop here for now. I have to say, I’m even more excited for the next post. I already have all the pictures uploaded, but wanted to avoid crashing your tablet again, Rossy. Hahah. Hopefully this is somewhat short enough to not mess with anyone’s technology, but looking back I have to admit to myself it’s still pretty stinking long. Oh well! All’s well that ends … with wine.

xo ❤

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Facebook HQ Tour & Clearing Things Up!

Hello Everyone! I have been holding off doing an update post because I’ve been hoping to have a definite answer by now from the last school… but STILL nothing. They said late February/Early March, so I’m going NUTS. Sounds like everyone else is going crazy too based on the AllNurses.com thread I am following like a stalkery psychopath. I have been refreshing my portal every five seconds (where the decision will be posted). I’m loooosing it! This is torturous!

Also, I get that my whole job/school situation is SUPER confusing… so I want to try to clear things up for y’all who are not quite sure what the heck is happening, I can barely keep it straight myself: (or just skip this because, honestly, who cares haha).

  • In 2016 I graduated from a four year nursing school in Indiana with my Bachelors of Science in Nursing.
  • When DJ and I moved to California, it took me nearly eight months for the state of California to give me the OK to take my boards (If you followed me from the beginning you know the insanity that was!)
  • I started my one year Registered Nurse Residency program Spring 2017 on a neurosurgical unit. This means I am an employed nurse, but the residency is different as you have a more intensive preceptorship, are part of a cohort that you meet with about once a month, have a research project, and classes to enhance your clinical skills and learning. Nurse residency programs are a newer concept so this is where it is often confusing- it is not school, it is employment, just more supportive, learning focused, and integrative than traditional new nurse positions. Highly recommend.
  • I am coming to my one year with this program and graduate March 13th. (I’m also speaking at it, so prayers that that goes well would be MUCH appreciated). I present my research March 21st. After that I will continue to work on my unit for now, I just won’t have the extra class work or research project.
  • I am currently applying for graduate school to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. I have always wanted to be a general FNP, and am now considering more than ever possibly becoming specialized in neuroscience so maybe I can work at an outpatient neuroscience clinic eventually.
  • I am awaiting one last school’s decision before making my final decision. This decision is a big one because it determines where we are going to be living this fall.

Does that clear it up a bit?!

*refreshes portal*-  yup, still nothing.

Now we go wayyyy back! February 16th was my Dad’s birthday. My Dad passed away in 2009, and for some reason his birthdays always seem the hardest day for me. More than the actual day of passing, more than the holiday season (those are still difficult though)…. I think it’s because it’s the one day that was all about him. With holidays, we have new traditions/memories to buffer the pain. With his day of passing there aren’t great memories to miss or create a sobering wistful nostalgia contrasted with the grief and loss. But with his birthday, there isn’t much in between now and then… It is a purely bittersweet day. There exists what was and now a forever gaping “since then”. My family has had a hard time getting all together in the middle of February with our schedules, so the day immediately brings back the fond memories of going to Outback Steakhouse (his favorite) and having the whole family in one place. It is those memories that leave me missing him horribly and missing my family too. This year was a bit different though. Being in California, it doesn’t “feel” like his birthday without the blistering snow, Ohio quietness and gray skies. I sometimes am afraid I’m not honoring or remembering him properly- I wanted to go to Outback for lunch, but it didn’t work out with DJ’s schedule, and I had a string of work days coming up, so I hardly had any time in between. I talked to my siblings, that always helps-  but I just wish we could have all been together. I decided to take the day to remember and reflect- his kind heart, his unmatchable sense of humor, his sheer intelligence, his goofiness, and selflessness. I listened to those couple of voicemails I have saved from him that I know will both crush my heart and cause me to laugh through the tears. I wish that he could be in these blog updates and posts, and I wish he was going to see me graduate from this program next week. However, I like to think he knows, and is celebrating, just from afar. ❤

I started the morning going to Target Express near us to fill in groceries that we were missing. On my way back to the apartment, I spotted that Main Street Cupertino had red lanterns held everywhere- I remembered it was Chinese New Year!

They had fun tents set up for the local businesses and people were bustling trying to snag some free SWAG.

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There were fun little dog structures made of grass and succulents. I was so impressed! How are people so creative?!

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I meal prepped for the day and prepped for work. When the evening rolled around, we had the awesome opportunity for a tour of Facebook HQ with our friend Tammy who works there.

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We walked into a pristinely clean lobby with a nook with an almost misplaced homeliness with a mini oculus set up.

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The woman at the front desk greeted us and had us give her our IDs. I had my ID out and ready in the car, and before getting out of the car I accidentally left it on the seat. When I realized this she went, “Oh no problem! Do you have Facebook? Just give me your name and I can verify with your picture!”. Too funny.

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She then told us to help ourselves the the drinks in the fridge and showed us where the bathroom was. I walked over to survey the free hydration station and saw only two things in the fridge- Diet Coke and Water. I laughed- Diet Coke was my Dad’s favorite bev. I told my sister earlier that day I wasn’t going to have time to go to Outback or do anything big to celebrate him, and she said, “Just drink a stinkin’ Diet Coke!”. I took a picture of this serendipitous moment to send her.

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Typically I wouldn’t take note of a bathroom, but this was the most stocked up public bathroom I have ever seen. It had EVERYTHING you could need, including hairspray. For some reason the hairspray made me chuckle.

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Tammy and Ben (Ben is Tammy’s husband) (also you may remember I met with them a couple weeks ago for lunch), met us in the Lobby and we immediately headed to the dining room for some dinner. Emojis greeted us, dancing along the walls. I was already mesmerized by the amount of meticulous detail pointing back to the Facebook Empire.

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They had multitudinous options for dinner, buffet style. Everything has a label and names each ingredient. They had plenty of delicious vegan (and non-vegan) options. When you are a Fbook employee, ALL the food is free (with the exception of a couple super specialty places). They say the first year you work there you gain the “Facebook Fifteen”. Most have verified this rumor has quite a bit of validity. I can see why!

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Oh, and let’s not forget, they also have beer and wine available for their employees. Drinking on the job is not exactly discouraged around the Fbook HQ. People had drinks sitting at their work stations and we were told during meetings it’s not unusual for people to bring in a glass of wine.

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Naturally, they have endless supplies of non- alcoholic bevvys including La Croix galore, Vitamin Water Zero (I love the lemonade one), and teas on teas on teas. Disneyland. Just Disneyland.

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The food was TREMENDOUS. Mmmmm mmm. I had a sampling of everything and was not disappointed one little bit.

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We then got a night tour of the property. Tammy said I’d have to come back in the daytime. Stay tuned for a part 2 sometime!

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The main drag is literally a town. There are plenty of diverse restaurants for any palate, a barber shop, ice cream shop, a Hub shop (to get your bike fixed), and an arcade! If you need to de-stress, no problem- just go play some video games on your lunch break. LOL.

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They have a little bridge connecting two buildings that they modeled off the Golden Gate, too cute!

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Then… for the most epic part…. getting to try Virtual Reality for the first time.

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It’s against Fbook rules to take pictures of the TV screen, but there was a screen right in front of where I’m standing. The TV shows everyone else in the room what I am seeing. With the headset on, I can see 360. It TRULY feels like you are standing somewhere else. It’s trippy. Tammy asked me if I was afraid of heights. I pridefully said, “Heck no, bring it on”. As soon as the screen transitioned I found myself on top of a building overlooking a good 1200 feet drop. My mind was tricked, and my heart started racing, my palms began to sweat and I began to panic. I had to actually take a moment, breathe and remind myself that I was not in fact overlooking a plunge to my death, but I was standing in a room with a very flat floor.

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Tammy encouraged me to explore my surroundings. I got down and looked over the edge, not daring to get that close while standing. I then navigated the rafters, the steel planks, and the surrounding buildings. I did all this within a small three foot space.

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We then did one where a dinosaur chases you. I had everything in me that wanted to turn and run, but I kept reminding myself, “this is not real!”.

The last one I did was a game where you chop up a bunch of fruit with a sword. I get super competitive in these things, okay?!? I know I look ridiculous, but come on’… serious about my fruit.

 

DJ’s turn!

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I then worked through the weekend, caught up on sleep, errands, and misc. to-do things on February 19th and 20th. On the 21st, I headed to my annual Dental checkup. I actually look forward to going to the dentist, not because of the actual dental part, but because of the people. I wouldn’t usually include something this silly in an update post, but it is a BIG deal that I have only needed one dental appointment this year. When we first moved here, I felt like I lived at the dentist office. (Hence how I know the staff so well). I had a root canal within a couple weeks of unlocking our door for the first time and had several follow up appointments to finish the repair and place the final cap. I was given a clean bill of health this time around, and no dental procedures are in my near future!

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I had about a million things on my to-do list for the day, but it was so beautiful out and all I wanted to do was blast my music and walk down the quaint street of downtown Los Altos. So I did. I was surprised at my ability to “waste” time and not feel too anxious about it, but I also think I needed this. I knew March was bringing with it a new level of stress and busyness that I was going to be wishing I had taken a couple seconds to chill, breathe some fresh air, and just relax.

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And for the love of God, you guys, please do not hurt their plants! lol.

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I decided with a clean bill of dental health and swag in my music fueled steps to treat myself to some solid mediterranean cuisine.

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Occasionally I like eating by myself. I don’t do it often, but I find it so relaxing. Usually I’ll bring my laptop to blog or a book to read. I sat inside Cafe Nur, my to-do list tucked away in my purse and deeper tucked in the back of my mind. I savored my vegetarian sampler, sipped my Pellegrino and blasted my favorite Spotify playlist. I reflected upon what a nutty year this has been, and I was only one month from overcoming the most difficult obstacle I have ever faced: Nursing. I began to get emotional—overwhelmed with relief, gratitude, and yet excitement of what is to come. This calls for extra pita.

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To prolong the procrastinative (not a word, but it should be) state, I decided to go for a long run out in the glorious sun. Mid-run I received an email from my Residency Program Coordinator saying she was still looking for a class rep to speak at our graduation. I don’t know if I had soaked up too much sun or was on a high on baba ganoush and running adrenaline but I volunteered. As I sent the message I both regretted it and applauded the strangely uncharacteristic act. I think deep down I felt that I wanted to express gratitude to all who have helped me and my cohort classmates survive this year. I also want to let my cohort know what bomb nurses they are and how thankful I am to have done this year with them. This year has been the craziest, most challenging, worst and yet most rewarding year of my existence. What is one more challenge?

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I spent the rest of the day in go-mode. Laundry, food prep for the next couple days of work and for DJ, clean, answer e-mails, and start a draft for a speech that I hope I make it through without vomiting on stage. We had our FINAL class March 22nd. We decided to do a massive potluck to go out with a bang. I made an array of veggies accompanied by pita chips and popcorn (since my coworkers find my obsession with popcorn quite hilarious).. I had to stay true to character.

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Proud of my hard work (aka not cutting my finger while chopping up veggies), I shot a text to my mom….

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Hey now, I didn’t adopt the California lifestyle, the Cali life adopted me!

Let’s just say, us nurses know how to whip up a pot-luck.

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And what’s a celebration without cake?!

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I and DJ worked the next few days. I then had the weekend off! Sunday night, DJ was hankering some In n’ Out. When you have an In n’ Out craving there is only one thing that will satisfy: In n’ Out. I had already meal prepped and was craving my massive salad awaiting me at home, but I tagged along so we could have some extra time together.

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Monday night= BEST night of the week. Bach time!!!! Y’all this season though. Too many thoughts… I won’t even get started. But jeeez la freaking louise. It is something! Per usual, we make our giant mega cookie out of pillsbury cookie dough. It’s tradition. It does not feel right to have bach without it. We literally refer to it as “Mega” like another family member. “Hey Deej, can you bring me mega?”. This night I had to go to bed immediately after Bach since I worked three in a row (including that Monday), but I relished the couple moments I had in between sleeps.

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After working overtime and tryna’ just keep my eyelids open, I decided to do my old tradition of getting a solid workout in after breakfast and then heading to Peet’s. My heart fluttered as I had set aside this day to finish up my speech. It didn’t take as long to write as I had anticipated. Once it was finished up and I saw my good ole’ friends at Peet’s from back in the NCLEX studying days, I hit up the local TJ’s to see what was cooking. I went in without a grocery list. You see, you don’t go to TJ’s with a list, you let TJ’s tell you what you need.

*Refreshes portal*- ugh, still nothing.

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I also went to Sprout’s to stock up on some carbonated beverages.. I go through stages where I CRAVE soda. I try to stay away from anything with aspartame (minus the diet coke from a couple weeks prior 😉 ). Some of my faves include Hansen’s and Zevia. Many don’t like Zevia because of it’s aftertaste (totally get it), but I’ve been hooked on it for years.

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*Refreshes portal*- nope.

I meal prepped for the rest of the week and work days. Salad includes tons of veggies/tofu/hummus/ and balsamic glaze.

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Friday, the evening of the 2nd, we stopped by DJ’s Dad’s house to visit with his family. I have missed them horribly! A healthy dose of family time was just what I needed to survive a pretty heavy weekend in the hospital.

This past Sunday the 4th, DJ had to get up with me under the full blown moon (4:30 am). I was so excited about this that I had to snap a shot of us taking the elevator down to our cars simultaneously and had someone to eat breakfast with!

 

After a super tiring work weekend (still recovering), we had Indian last night that I picked up from TJ’s with naan and white wine. Such a great combo. We lazily glued ourselves to the couch and the television as we watched Arie the Asinine make an absolute fool of himself. Y’all I hate to talk bad about ANYONE, I give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and actually thrive off “difficult personality” patients, but Arie.. I can’t deal with him. And I’m pretty sure he is a sociopath. He exhibited ZERO empathy during that break up. Ugh, my heart broke for both girls. Ok I need to stop before I get myself in trouble. *Deep breaths, deep breaths*.

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If you hung in with me through this full post, you deserve an award.

*Refreshes portal one last time* *buffering* – humbug. Still notta goose egg zero zilch. 

On a totally unrelated note, my favorite (and only) pair of yoga pants that I’ve had since Freshman year of college got a hole in them this week. An unsalvageable hole. Needless to say, I am in need of a shopping spree, much to hubby’s dismay. It’s gonna be hard to find replacements for those beloved pants, but alas, it is time to invest in some new basic girl attire.

xo ❤

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Valentine’s Day on Top of a Mountain

Hello, hello! Happy Thursday (maybe Friday) to you all! I am sitting here all cuddled up in my the coziest of all blankets and do not intend to get off the couch all day. I always say that, but I go stir crazy after a couple hours. (edited in note: I put in a good three couch potato hours…better than normal!).

Anyways, I have some updates, that you probably saw a sneak peak of if you follow me on Instagram!

This past week has been crazy busy & stressful- but oh so GOOOD! February 7th I started my day with some delicious yogurt toast and a protein bar (no cow).

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I’m pretty peeved because No Cow just changed their formula, and I do. not. like. it *toddler stomping feet*. I am clinging to the last few of the old ones I have, but they are quite evasive now. Has anyone tried the new formula? What are your thoughts?

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I LOVE THE GRIT! It’s what made it perfect with a cup of joe. Ah, No Cow, breaking my heart.

At about 10 am, I met my sweet, fellow nurse, friend from Church, Kim for some coffee in Campbell. Barefoot Coffee is some of my favorite around.

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She’s too stinking cute!

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We had such wonderful & much needed conversation (& venting). It’s so nice to talk to someone who just “gets it”. I am very thankful for her ❤

The rest of the night I spent prepping for my interview. Unfortunately, that night my laptop stopped working. Good timing for an upcoming online interview, huh?

That meant February 8th I went straight to the Genius Bar, praying to God that this was a salvageable issue.

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While my computer was being worked on, I trotted down Santana Row to try to get some fresh air to calm my nerves.

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Thankfully, it was an easy fix! We are back in business, baby!

I scrounged up what little was left of the day to meal prep for the weekend, prepped for the interview, and focus on staying calm stocked up on more brown paper bags.

I had a hard time focusing with three days of work staring me in the face. Lemme just say, in nurse world 2 days vs. 3 days is a tremendous difference. Friday, the 9th– Sunday the 11th were some of the most challenging shifts I’ve had, acuity wise and emotionally.

Every morning feeeelz….

…. Hopefully we can get both eyes open by the time we pull into the hospital.

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I kept it together for the most part and can see how much I have grown in one year. I would have fallen apart at the seams last year with this assignment. Still, when Monday rolled around, it all hit me. By it all, I mean the emotional toll of everything….. My patient’s stories, their cases, their families…. it all fell on me in what felt like a single moment. I was on a run and just started sobbing. I let myself feel for the first time since starting that stretch of days. I was honored that God entrusted me with each of them for the weekend, but needless to say, I was exhausted and depleted in every way.

Monday, the 12th, was not a lick productive.

I did get a quick trot in though.

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I spent the evening reading with our TV fireplace flickering, and Halo Top in hand trying to distract myself from my nerves.

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February 14th. I woke up early to get ready for my 9:45 am interview via Zoom. It went well, I think! This is a distance based program and our number one choice (probably)… but the chances of getting in are slim. I don’t quite have the experience that others applying for the program have (It’s a doctorate program). I do have a chance of their MSN program hopefully. A few hours later I found out from Vanderbilt that I was accepted into their MSN program! WOOHOO! I was accepted into two/three of the programs, now I’m just waiting for this one last decision… the suspense is real! I should know by end of February/early March.

After the interview, I ran for a while, then jotted to the mall to find something to wear as I realized I had nothing for Valentine’s Day! I found this on sale. Wooohoo!

Deej gave me this sweet rose ❤

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Nooow time for our Valentine’s Extravaganza!!! DJ and I haven’t had a date or much time together since San Diego. We decided to splurge a little to celebrate Vday, the interview being over, and now getting into one of the big schools I was pulling for. We decided not get on another gifts or anything and just have a stellar dinner.

Someone at DJ’s work suggested the Mountain Winery Valentine’s Day dinner. We don’t usually do much on Valentine’s Day, maybe make some make your own pizzas, last year I did a race in Sausalito… I don’t really get the point of Valentine’s day… because isn’t the day to celebrate love your anniversary? It’s kind of a double anniversary? But I’m still for any excuse for chocolate, dinner out, and a chance to brag on my amazing man!

I went to Mountain Winery once with Rachel over a year ago. It’s absolutely gorgeous. The views are breathtaking.

They host concerts in the summers in their stunning outdoor pavilion.

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We were greeted in an indoor heated tent with a rose with our table number and a glass of Rose.

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The best part? The cheeeese!!!!

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It was a fantastic cheese bar- with crackers, figs, nuts, fruit, and every type of cheese imaginable.

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Round One..

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After about a half an hour of mingling, we were taken on a tour of the estate. It was fascinating, but freezing! I kept thinking to myself, “Roses are red, my lips are blue, if we don’t go inside soon I’m going to LOSE IT”. Ok, I am a bit dramatic when I’m cold, but I was shivering something fierce!

It was totally worth it, especially for the views!

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We then snaked to our florally decorated table. Somehow we ended up with Table 1 and were in a nice exclusive corner table.

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We started with some clementine and pesto (or something like that) for a palate cleanser. The seemingly incompatible flavors actually worked very well.

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To start, we had scallop three ways. These included citrus scallop ceviche with avocado, seared french scallop tartar with crispy kale, and grilled scallop over mango puree with mizuna salad. Our favorite was the mango purreed…. mmm mm!

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We then had for the second course butter wedge lettuce with medley carots, roasted beets, whipped goat cheese, with blood orange and herb vinaigrette. It was accompanied by Sauvignon blanc- our favorite of the wine tastings.

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The third course presented with sea bass with basted shrimp, lentils, braised leeks, and rainbow chard with a lemon beurre blanc reduction. I want to cry because I want this again right now. It was too good.

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The fourth course consisted of steak duzelles on a bed of smashed fingerling golds with creamy blue cheese, charred veggies, and chanterelle wine reduction. I gave deej my steak, but the rest of the dish was fabulous.

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And to top it off, we were given an intermezzo of limoncello with ginger cream and deconstructed strawberry shortcake with red velvet sponge, champagne lime sorbet, and strawberry reduction. It was all tremendous.

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It may be my favorite Valentine’s Day we have ever had together. I’m so thankful for my valentine. ❤

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Each couple was gifted a bottle each to take home too.

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I woke up early this morning, the 15th, to go to work to get my annual TB test blood work done. I’m actually a smidgeon nervous for the results because I have cared for TB patients quite a bit this year (of course proper isolation in place), but I can’t help feel a tiny bit on edge. Especially with how stinking sick I’ve been this year. I’m sure it’s fine. It’s fine, right? Cool it, Mack, your hypochondriac is showing. I’ll know for sure in about three days to settle my little paranoid mind.

I spent the day cleaning, answering e-mails, texts (gosh, I’ve been bad bad bad with the texting lately), and other misc. items on the to-do list. I had a great big salad with a bean burger & some green alkaline juice for lunch while watching Winter Games. It hit the spot.

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Right now I’m eating sushi and going to tie up loose ends for my project. We have our last class next week! Almost. there. One more month until graduation!

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Have a beautiful weekend, everyone!

xo ❤

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A Quite Ambiguous Life Update!

Hey y’all!! I haven’t done a hum-drum recap post since last year?! I’ve done our trip recaps, Friday Faves, and EVEN a recipe…. but not a recap. What. is . happening?!

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Yes, This is Us unleashed one of the most dramatic, tear-jerking episodes in probably history of television on Sunday. I think I need to see a therapist after that episode. But we won’t get into it. It’s so good, so heart-wrenching, so real…. it hits on a very visceral level for me.

Anywho, I want to document just some real quick recent happenings and answer everyone’s questions about, “What’s going on, what’s the school situation, what the lowwww down?”.

Once we came back from Texas (yes, I am going THAT far back), I worked January 2nd and had to take my first ever sick day the 3rd. Darn, I almost made it a full year without taking a sick day! The 4th and 5th I spent resting and worked through that next weekend. On that weekend, my sweet coworkers threw the sweetest surprise “potlock” for my birthday. It touched me to literal tears. They brought in all kinds of goodies & cupcakes. I’m so thankful for them.

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On the 11th, we had our preliminary presentation and the research scientists seemed to love it! They gave us tremendous feedback, so now we just have to make a few adjustments and we’ll be all set. Our official presentation is March 21st. I will be prepping hard for it before then! PS. I love our cohort education days because we always get a flamin’ breakfast of croissants & coffee! One time we had smoked salmon with capers (my weakness)!

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March 7-12th we worked hard so we could enjoy our vacation to San Diego January 13th-17th. Here are Part One, Part Two, and Part Three if ya missed um 😉

We’ve been craving comfort food lately as “winter” comes to an end (I feel embarrassed and rude saying that to my kindred midwesterners)….stay warm, friends. I empathize, I really do!

I have loved continuing to make cod. One of DJ’s favorite’s was a meal with cod, corn grits, asparagus, okra, and zucchini with marina/parm cheese. Now, it does not get more midwest than this folks (unless a casserole was involved 😉 ).

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One of my current projects is reading through “must read” books list. So far I have read The Giver, The Lovely Bones, and Fahrenheit 451. Would love your suggestions too! I think next I’m going to read Wuthering Heights and The Book Thief. Lemme say though.. all those gosh darn stupid reality shows are vying for my serious attention on Monday nights, so tryna’ find that balance 😉

(I’m still making my way through the Harry Potter series, but have been falling asleep the second I hit the sheets lately!).

On the 27th, DJ’s twin sister (WHO JUST MOVED HERE!!!!!!), drove up to SJ to have some breakfast with us. I can’t explain how excited I am that she’s here. You might remember her from when she visited us here. (Scroll to end of the linked post).

Anywho, we had to take her to the infamous Bill’s. We just had one open within a mile of our apartment (EEEEKKKK!!!!!) I am freaking out.

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What’s brunch without Bill’s Famous Mimosas?

DJ tried their country fried steak with biscuits and gravy.

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I had my tried and true, go to athena greek omelette. Goat cheese on an omelette is GOLD.

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Amy opted for probably one of my favorites on their menu- the Cinnamon Roll French Toast. Phenomenal.

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Amy headed back to the city in the afternoon after hanging out at our apartment for a little bit. This was one of the first Saturdays in months, probably all year, that DJ and I were both 100% free. We spent the day lounging, napping, took a walk, and relaxed. It was absolute perfection. We kept saying how refreshing it was to have a full day like that. It doesn’t happen often- I actually can’t even remember our last day like that.

On Sunday the 28th, I finalllly had a Sunday off of work to go to Church (EVERYONE CHEERS!). Lemme say, it was SO nice being able to worship with my community in person and not be listening to a podcast sermon on Sunday.

After Church, I went to lunch with my girlfriend Tammy that you all know probably well my now, and her husband, Ben. (DJ couldn’t tag along, but I brought him home some grub!).

We went to Mendocino Farms in Campbell. This may be our new local joint. I am obsessed!!! There are so many phenomenal pesce/vegan options!!!

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You order Panera style, and they give you a buzzer when food is ready.

I loved their farmhouse theme.

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I was craving a great salad. I had their avocado & superfood ensalad with butter lettuce & romaine, curly kale, quinoa & millet, housemade superfood krunchies, black bean, roasted corn & jicama succotash, red onions, cilantro, Cotija cheese, grape tomatoes, avocado with chipotle vinaigrette. There are no words to describe how yum this was!

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Even better yet… their sides.. the curried cous-cous and marinated beets were so savory. I am craving them again. I might just have to go in tomorrow to get more.

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Tam had the Mary’s Chicken Salad with shaved, roasted Mary’s free range chicken breast with balsamic glaze drizzle, butter lettuce & romaine, nitrate-free applewood smoked bacon, crumbled blue cheese, avocado, grape tomatoes, red onions, hard boiled egg with mustard vinaigrette. Good mendocino heavens.

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There was a Trader Joe’s plopped right next door, and this is where I had my epiphany that Trader Joe’s may be the greatest place on earth.THEY EVEN HAVE SUSHI!

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I went for an amazing run after, and saw this cute little lemon tree.

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For one of my birthday gifts, I received my first ever Fab Fit Fun box. This is allll over the place social media wise, but I’ve never pulled the trigger. I was thoroughly impressed with the box, and can’t wait to use the products. I’ll let you all know how they all work out.

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I can tell you this add on fuzzy blanket is amazing. (Duh, what girl doesn’t like a comfy blanket?)

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How stinking cute!

DJ is playing in a basketball league called the “Enginerds”. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this on the blog before, but DJ was (is) a tremendous basketball player. He isn’t hanging up the shoes quite yet as he is playing in a local league every other Wednesday. I’m obsessed with the name of their team (so Bay area)- The Enginerds! Lol.

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I have been thinking lately about doing a meal prep post about how I have been meal prepping for my twelve hour shifts! I never have really shared my prep days for work, but why not?! It took a while to get my routine down, but I think I finally have it figured out to stay full and stay nourished!

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On January 30th, I had the unexpected couple of hours off as our unit was over-staffed. I instead was able to go to work at 11:30 am. I walked into the shining sun and gorgeous fountain. That never happens. What a glorious day that was!

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Shall we chat Super Bowl on the the 4th?! Our unit was not about to neglect the celebrations. We had donuts, chips, and pizza galore. I worked extra extra extra hard to get my work done so I could catch a couple glimpses of the game. They were small glimpses, but I did get to watch JT do his THANG!

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That extra extra extra hard (aka every single shift, lol) translated into this…

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I’m glad Deej got to watch the game with his family though!

Yesterday, the 5th, I was able to squeeze in a gorgeous 10-miler. To be honest with y’all … doc says I need to chillll on the mileage. I’m trying, but struggling cause it’s the way I cope with my stress. My body isn’t handling it. I am going to try to incorporate more strength training & cross training > cardio.

Anywho.. these February blooms along my runs have been gorgeous. It is finally starting to warm up a bit again!

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Post workout nibbles/appetizer before dinner of veggies straws, dried okra, mushrooms, hummus, and smoked salmon jerky.

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Lately for dinners all I have wanted is warm comfort food due to the weather and perpetual ill feeling. Today after a great Insanity workout I was craving my giant refreshing salad with it being 72 degrees outside. I always love putting a veggie burger in my salad with hummus & some balsamic vinegar. MMmm mm!

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Let’s talk future now. I have an interview February 14th for a doctorate program. Gosh, I want this so badly. I was accepted into a local program here, so that’s a possibility too (it’s a master’s program). I am waiting to hear back from one last school in Nashville. I’m not sure what this year holds for us.. it’s all a big ole’ question mark… we are just trusting God with it all. He has proved faithful time and time again. DJ is still loving his job in marketing for the SJ Giants, and will probably look into getting his masters next year. I am excited and hopeful to see how this year unravels! Lots of questions will be answered in this next two months, and I am hoping to share some fun (and definite) updates with you all.

xo ❤

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We were in Texas for Two Years?!

Happy 2018 y’all!

Come on in, lemme set the scene. I am sitting here with our Christmas tree & decor still fully on display. I refused to let DJ take it down this week, and that convo was officially our first squabble of 2018. I told him he could take it down when I’m at work this weekend, although I’d prefer to keep it up until it literally falls over and no pines are left. Compromise y’all- marriage at its finest.

I have my third cup of coffee in hand (clearly not on that “decrease caffeine” resolution train). I have jazz playing in the background. I am overcoming quite the cold, as I am sure many of you are also facing head on. So from me to you, HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND YOUR ___ (insert sickness here)_____ ! I mean, really, along with popping the champagne we may as well take Airborne shots and instead of confetti throw around tissues.

I cannot CANNOT believe how quickly last year went by. I usually think the sentimentality of a New Year is always a bit cheesy (yes, coming from the cheese-y queen), but this year I was feeling it. 2017 was rough rough rough, and I welcome a new year with open arms. Last year I knew I was walking into a difficult year, but I underestimated just how challenging it would be. This year, rather than having a feeling of foreboding doom and anxiety, I am filled with excitement & anticipation as I can nearly taste the completion of THE most challenging obstacle I have ever faced.

In my last post I was heading to Fort Worth to visit my momma, Step-dad, Pete, and pup, Jade with DJ on the 28th. (Side note: I have always called Jade, “Jadey” as a nickname… and when in Texas I always end up calling Jade “DJ”.. dyslexic tendencies slipping to the surface there..whooops!).

real quick…You can check out previous posts exploring the Texas area here and here and here and here.

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^ The diva dog hates her picture taken, but I had to snag a few!

The first night we arrived I was egg to the zausted. Momma Jill prepared the most delicious dinner for us including bottomless roasted veggies, grilled portobello mushrooms (for her and I), and Pete grilled up steaks for the boys. It was all accompanied by delicious wild rice, marinated mushrooms for the steak, and garlic bread.

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Good lawd, momma Jill knows how to cook up a storm (maybe quite literally if you look at the temperature & snow we had!).

I also just adore their Christmas decor, and they surprised us by having our stockings still hung above the fireplace. **CUE THE TEARS**.

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After dinner, we opened our stockings, chatted and soaked up my mom and Pete’s wisdom going into some big decisions this year ahead, and munched on homemade Christmas cookies. It actually felt like Christmas. Like I said in my last post, the day of Christmas is actually quite relative. And the best part of an untraditional Christmas is if you forget any figs for your figgy pudding there is actually a grocery store open! Howbowdat.

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^^ Ms. Beggar McGregor.

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Unfortunately, that night I dealt with a horrible bout of insomnia. I think it was the combination of coming off some crazy days in the hospital, the travel, and just general time change (it always gets me!). When I went to India a couple years ago I couldn’t sleep for three days straight. That jet lag, even a couple hours, kicks my butt.

But the next day we jet-started the day with a yummy fruit bowl, eggs, toast, and better n’peanut butter for my mom and I. Has anyone had this magic? It’s my treat when I go to Dallas. SO GOOD. I know I could technically stock up on it here… but it just reminds me of “home”, so I save it for those special trips to Texas. I think I’d be too sad eating it anywhere else. <— #emotionalmuch?

The 29thwas a day for the books. I actually did cry going through these pictures because I missed it too much already. My mom surprised me with a trip to Spa Castle and for DJ, a trip with Pete to the Cotton Bowl! I’ll recap Spa Castle right quick!

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So, this place is HUGE- very Texasesque! I have never seen anything like it. Basically it’s a giant Spa amusement park. They have everything from a fitness center, saunas galore, whirlpools with jet massagers, a plethora of spa treatments, and general lounging areas.

You receive this key to a locker when you come in and just badge in and out of your locker as you please!

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Momma bear and I decided to start with a hearty workout prior to a day of total bliss.

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Everyone is required to wear these uniforms in the sauna for probably several reasons that you could infer. I joked that this reminded me of a cult meets monastery, but I was all on board!

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The entrance area was absolutely breathtaking. Every inch of the facility is designed to make you relax.

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Now, the “Sauna Valley” was paradise. My pictures cannot possibly compare to the real experience, so I’ve included a link here that you can explore each room and all their benefits! Our favorites included the Himalayan Salt Room, The Charcoal Tower, and the Gold Pyramid.

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I thought the “Color Therapy” room was super fascinating. The health benefits behind each room just blew my mind.

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There is even an Iceland room if you need to chillll out even more.

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Let me jus say—- this was EXACTLY what I needed to shake out the anxiety & stress of the year. What a great way to say SAYONARA, Seventeen! These Saunas were out. of. this. world.

We then headed down to their pool area. All those silver bars jetting out of the water are massage stations. They are not for the faint of heart either. The next day I had that same sore feeling I get after a great massage that really works out the knots. It was too cool.

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Last, but certainly not least, we finished off at their indoor bar/pool/whirlpool area. It was all quintessential bliss.

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We had worked up quite the appetite by this point so we nommed on some sushimi and wakame salad to tie us over before the big Sushi showdown.

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We had every little bit of energy zapped from our bodies and knew it was time to head back home.

On our way home we grabbed some fantastic & fresh sushi to go and my mom pulled out her now famous tofu wedges. After getting cleaned up we sat on the couch, turned on some easy TV, and I blogged while my mom crashed in the cozy living room. It was the epitome of a perfect day.

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While we sat back and relaxed, the guys hit up the Cotton Bowl for the OSU vs. USC game. DJ was PUMPED about this, which probably goes without saying.

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They said it was an absolutely amazing game.

On the morning of the 30th, DJ, my mom, and I hit up the local Keller Pointe (my favorite workout facility in the WORLD). After we zoomed to Kindred Coffee…. oh. my. lanta. Calling all coffeee lovers & snobs: If you are ever passing by the North Richland Hills area, you must stop. This was everything coffee magic & more.

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We had a lazy afternoon, and I snuck in a much needed nap. I don’t nap often, but I always do so well in Texas, plus this nasty cold was beginning to make it’s debut. We then put our fancy clothes on and headed out to Lonesome Dove at the Stockyards.

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^^ We did not plan to match. I swear. Hahhah.

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Love love love love the stockyards.

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This place has one of the most unique menus I have ever seen. I avoid eating meat 98% of the time, but when there is something that is unique, I MUST try it. This was certainly one of those occasions. We tried a sampler of their appetizer options including wild boar ribs, kangaroo Carpaccio “Nachos” (yes, actual kangaroo) Avocado Salsa, Habanéro-Fig Demi-Glace, and blue corn lobster hushpuppies. The kangaroo and ribs were a hit among the table out of the three.

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My mom and I shared the shaved vegetable salad while Pete tried the butter lettuce with smoked bacon.

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I couldn’t get great pictures of our meals (calm yo self, mack), but they were all yummmy. My mom and I split the redfish En Papillote, with Fennel, Leek, Carrot, Yellow Squash, Chiles, & mint. We agreed it wasn’t the most flavorful fish we have had, but still satisfying. DJ tried the Wagyu skirt steak, but the winner was Pete’s Roasted Garlic Stuffed Beef Tenderloin, with Western Plaid Hash and syrah Demi-Glace (pictured below).

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The other big hit was the side of truffle mac and cheese. I mean can you go wrong with ANYTHING truffled?

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Outside they have a pit for s’mores too.

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We headed home for some Bailey’s & Pumpkin Pie with happy stomachs and lots of laughs.

In the morning of the 31st, we headed to my mom and Pete’s home church for an AMAZING service. The message was powerful and encouraging & the worship was beautiful.

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And what’s a Sunday without a little Sunday Brunch?!?! When I lived here the summer prior to our wedding in 2015, I loved walking up and down the main street of Keller to do my wedding planning. This was before I began blogging, but this would have been a favorite mention. The Snooty Pig is one of my ALL. TIME. favorite breakfast places, and Pete suggested we go. I was not about to turn that down!

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One of the reasons I love this place so much is their muffins. They have the most unique, but scrumptious muffins.

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We decided to try their lemon poppyseed ones, although I was nervous because with possibly starting grad school here soon I know I’ll have to take drug tests! I was like how long does it stay in the system for?!? We pulled out our phones and started googling. Turns out it’s only for a few days, so I should be safe. When the waiter plopped the lemon muffin down on the table DJ just looked at it and said, “Well, that’s just a drug test waiting to be failed”. I just glared at him as I took my first big bite. 😉

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And now I have this blog with pictures to explain if it comes to that. LOL. Pete had their strawberry banana one too. I said it’s a tradition now to try a different flavor every time we come. Last time we had the cranberry orange one- oh me oh my, not sure which I like better.

My mom and I split a veggie omelette with a side of the most fresh salsa.

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Pete had their western skillet. He’s too kind to let me always photograph his food. Oh, how these people put up with me and my antics.

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DJ had a classic pancake breakfast. He said the pancakes were definitely good. Still not THE best. This guy and his cakes..

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After, we hit up the gym for the last time in 2017 (tears), and then *attempted* to hot tub. It was so bitter cold outside so although our necks down were doing okay, we could feel our nose hairs and lips freezing. We didn’t last too long as you may imagine. Still fun though!

DJ decided to door dash a Whataburger.. when in Texas!

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It’s hard to tell from the picture, but these suckers are ginormous! Easily the biggest burger in diameter I have ever seen. DJ said it was fantastic, but still prefers in-n-out.

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Time to Ring in the New Year!!!!

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^Cuties

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We put on the TV to watch the NYE festivities, and then momma Jill set up the dinner table like a winter wonderland.

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We had appetizers of brie cheese with apricot spread from Trader Joes (GET THESE NOW), hummus, mom’s homemade guac (there is none that compares, and meatballs for the men.

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I helped my mom out in the kitchen preparing some of the food for dinner (But she honestly did most of the work). She gave me an Instapot for Christmas, so we had a fun little tutorial on how to use it by experimenting with au gratin potatoes! It was a blast, and I am itching to use mine!

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The dinner (That DJ and I cannot stop talking about) included crab legs, asparagus, au gratin potatoes, and red lobster biscuits. Rachael Ray move on over.

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We had a great time toasting to a new year, had fabulous conversations, and watched the ball drop. We haven’t spent a New Year together in ages, so this was a true treat and will be dearly treasured.

In the morning on the 1st, we gloomily packed up to head back to Cali. I had my breakfast of peanut butter toast one last time, and we exchanged big hugs. This may have been the hardest trip for me to leave. I was reminiscing on the days growing up when we would have breakfast with my Dad and then come home to my mom cleaning every nook and cranny to ring in the New Year. Bittersweet contemplations..

In the airport, DJ spotted a twisted root- him and Pete went to one before the cotton bowl, and he had to have one last burger before heading back. We had plenty of time since our flight was delayed about an hour.

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Even after writing this I don’t feel like I did justice to just how phenomenal of a trip this was. It was much needed, and gave me just the zest I needed to face the next couple months.

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I went back to work on the 2nd, and struggled through the whole day. I was in the Neuro Close observation room, masked up because of my cold. That evening and the next morning I had the knives-in-my-throat feeling and every inch of my body ached. I called in sick, but worked diligently on my research project instead. I just couldn’t risk giving my patients what I had, especially in the NCOR room.

OH oh oh! And we were startled awake to a crazy earthquake last night. I think they said it was a 4.6- but it was the weirdest thing. I woke up and the room was just swaying side to side. I woke up DJ and everything was just rattling. The first earthquake I experienced a few weeks ago I thought someone was trying to break in. This time it was like Goliath was shaking our whole apartment. Apparently the center of the quake was in Berkeley. No damage was done, but a few pictures are a bit lop-sided on the wall.

I hope all of your New Year celebrations were safe and fun. I pray for blessings, happiness, and all the other cheesy things (And lots of actual cheese) to you this year!

xo ❤

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A (F)untraditional Christmas!

Hello beautiful people!!! I am typing up this post from the air heading to Dallas, TX! Woohoo!!! So much has happened since my last recap, and I’m excited to fill ya in! To be honest… this holiday season I have been a bit of a Grinch. Not outwardly, in my conversations or by my actions…but certainly when reflecting on my own thoughts. I’ve known for a couple months now that I was going to have to work on the 23rd, 24th, 25th, and 27th. This only left one day for celebrations (the 26th)… and any time I work three in a row I have a difficult time opening my eyes the next day, nonetheless try to throw together a Christmas celebration on my “Sammy day” as we say (sandwich day in between work days).

I begged DJ to fly back to Ohio to be with family. After all, I would be at work majority of the time and when I was not I would be, well, .. A. exhausted and B. an actual B. Catch my drift? It’s just reality. I turn into a MONSTER by day three. Like Wicked Witch of the West meets Ursula. But, alas, the sweet hubby refused to leave me.

If ya know me, I have more “basic” tendencies than not…a la CHRISTMAS OBSESSED. Yet this whole season I didn’t feel inclined to blast Christmas music, baking cookies, or watching Christmas movies when I felt there would be no real culmination celebration with family and friends to celebrate our Savior’s birth. Ya knowww?

BUT there were till some fun happenings that didn’t allow me to avoid the season entirely.

On December 16th, One of DJ’s coworkers held a beautiful Christmas party in her home. It was incredibly elegant with charcuterie galore, hors devours, caviar, an omelette station, a plethora of salads, biscuits and gravy, mini parfaits, etc. etc. Not to mention the most satiating dessert bar. It was delicious and fabulous! I had a ball getting to know Dj’s coworkers better too.

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For the 17th and 18th we both worked hard and then the next few days I tried to round up most of my research project. It’s due the 8th of January so we are ticking down to the last few days!!! Y’all I am PUMPED about it. I cannot CANNOT wait to share it!

On the 19th, Sara, Tammy, and I all headed out for some bday celebrations for Sara’s bday!

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We had drinks and cheered to another year of our Sara over salted caramel popcorn complete with peanuts, bacon, and rosemary (it sounds like an interesting combo, but it is an interesting combo that WORKS!).

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I savored their irresistible pan seared salmon with sauvignon blanc sautéed salmon, asparagus, zucchini, red onion, red pepper, fennel, roasted beets, avocado, arugula, and lemon vinaigrette.

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Tammy tried their butcher’s flat iron dip with carmalized onions, fresno chiles, mustard aioli, Havarti, and au jus.

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Sara opted for their cowboy burger with shoestring onion rings, bacon, cheddar, and beer barbecue sauce.

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We finished off with a complementary birthday Sundae for Sara. It was way too fun and nothing beats some good girl time. These two have kept my spirits afloat this year. I don’t know what I’d do without the two of them.

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When I went home, I was greeted by some decadent truffles from another client of DJ’s. I am a sucker for truffles. I cannot get enough. You all know I love a good cliché, and does it get more cliché than Christmas truffles? I think not, and if loving this cliché is wrong I do not want to be right.

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The 23rd-25th were work days. Guys, so much happens during my day on our crazy neuro floor and I have so many stories that I’d like to share (protecting all anonymity of course)…. But sometimes there is just too much to say and explain that I avoid sharing anything all together. These days were filled with my first patient fall, rushing a patient to surgery to prevent paralysis, and a few tears. The thing is…..each day I have worked has a story, a situation that would make you gasp, cringe, squirm, or cry tears of joy and sadness. I am afraid to share these stories because I don’t want to do an injustice to the experience, to the fact that these are real lives, real person’s & family’s reality. However, for 2018, I am considering sharing a story, maybe once a week or every couple of weeks before I forget them. I have learned more about humanity, vulnerability, compassion, patience, and love in this past year through neurosurgery. I’d love to share these lessons and stories that have left a footprint on my soul. So stay tuned for how that all plays out.

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Our coworkers are so encouraging, and I’m thankful that we all have each other’s backs in the chaos.

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Also, one of the nurses brought in this HOMEMADE cake. HOW?!?

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The 26thDJ and I had our day to celebrate our Christmas. I kept telling him the 25th was our Christmas Eve. He played along like a trooper (even though I’d snap at him every time he mentioned Christmas being on the 25th… “NO HUN, IT’S CHRISTMAS EEEEVVVVVEEEEE”.

On our faux Christmas Day we slept until the cows came home and then had “Christmosas”, cinnamon rolls, an omelette, and I even made some turkey bacon for Deej. I love whipping up big meals, but now-a-days I feel like I have such little time to cook like I prefer to. This morning was a treat for me.

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Deej figured out how to get a fireplace to play through our TV. I just love love love ! Thank gosh he knows how to work technology. I swear I am from the stone ages when it comes to working a remote control.

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Christmosas: Dry champagne/ Martinelli’s grape juice/ granny smith apply slices/ pomegranate seeds.

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We then blasted our Christmas music, put on our now traditional Christmas onesies and opened presents on the ground like a couple of children. It was obnoxiously fun, and I want to say a massive thank you to all who sent the most beautiful gifts and stockings to our house to give us a real Christmas. It really did feel like Christmas, and I am so thankful DJ played along with me. Jesus wasn’t actually born on the 25th, right?!

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In the afternoon I laced up the new pair of Adidas Boosts DJ gifted me and headed out for  Christmas run… a Jingle Jog if you will! The weather was perfect, I had the sugar from the cinnamon rolls rushing through my veins- I was zooooming. Talk about a runner’s high! I felt like I could have ran forever. It was one of the most glorious runs I have ever had.

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For dinner, I whipped up scallop and crab stuffed sole (from Omaha Steaks- thank you Aunt Terry and Uncle Pat), asparagus, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, cauliflower mashed potatoes, roasted veggies with tofu, and grand’s flaky biscuits. We savored every bite over some nice white Pinot Grigio and a Charlie Brown Christmas.

img_4979-1img_4978-1img_5007-1img_5011-1We finished the night with some GLORIOUS Moser Roth truffles (THE best truffles on planet earth- their strawberry rhubarb is a must-try) and our classic Chocolate Chip cookies.

For being an untraditional Christmas, we both agreed it was one of the best. This was certainly a year I will treasure forever. I loved celebrating with my patients and my husband. Sometimes different is not so bad.

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I had to head back to work the 27th, it was a difficult shift..

I’m tired, y’all. So very tired. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Our project will soon be submitted and I will have a minute to breathe…. Maybe… we’ll see! I’m learning to just enjoy the small moments, take deep breaths, and count my blessings because there are so very many- this blog and all of you being one of them. This has been the hardest year of my life (besides the year I lost my Dad). But I would not trade it for the world.

This morning (28th) was filled with early morning wake up call, stuffing myself with some toast, a full on pat down going through security (I was basically stripped to my breeches in the airport), and now a minute to sit back and relax on the plane. We are heading to Dallas and are munching on nuts, a salad for me, and a burger for DJ. I am working on my thank you cards from Christmas (I am one of those odd birds that genuinely loves writing thank you cards). I cannot wait to see my momma and step dad, Pete, and of course, my little pooch, Jade.

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I don’t usually make New Years Resolutions. But this year I have one…

I have learned an enormous amount this past year and one of those lessons is that there is freedom in vulnerability. I have things I want to share but have not yet had the courage to. I have slowly showed you all my heart in certain situations, but I hope in 2018 I can dive deeper, share more of my heart, and be honest about parts of my story that I have never shared before.

Thank you for sharing in our life, for supporting and encouraging us on our journey. I am thankful, I am so thankful for each of you.

xo ❤

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A Perfect Wedding Weekend <3

AHHH! I am SO SO SO excited to share this momentous weekend, I cannot even contain it. But I will say.. it was one of those weekends that was just soo good, I’m afraid I won’t do it justice! I have an obnoxious number of pictures to share, so I’ll try to keep the typing to a minimum.

Also, I accidentally published the first post after only uploading a few photos- super sorry if you get an additional e-mail!

SOooooOOoo…

Let’s get started shall we?!

Clair is one of my best friends since sixth grade of middle school. We were inseparable, and still talk on a nearly daily basis even from across the country. This wedding was a celebration beyond compare.

With Clair’s permission, I want to share a little background with you all. Growing up, Clair has always been the life of the party, the “live in the moment”, nurturing, compassionate, beautiful, fun loving, happy-go-lucky, and all around amazing friend. However, she definitely has the give-everyone-the-benefit-of-the-doubt type characteristic, which lended to some not exactly great relationships.

Then a couple years ago, a tragic, life-altering event happened that would shake all our worlds. Clair’s little sister, her beautiful, perfect 16-year-old sister passed away in a horrible accident. Even typing this, tears come to my eyes. Gosh, I miss her, and it is still incredibly hard to believe this is still the reality we live in. But around that time, Clair met Robby- truly one of the most incredible men I have ever met and definitely the most perfect man for Clair. We always say that Kat pulled some strings in Heaven to make this happen. So, although this wedding day was super bitter-sweet without her little sis, seeing where Clair is now and who Clair is with brings us all more joy than I can possibly describe. I would desire nothing less for my best friend, my sister. I love you, Clair & Robby. ❤ ❤

The weekend began at SamWanna Salon in Akron, OH where the sweet bride treated us all to manis and pedis. Come on now, how stinking sweet is that?!

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You guys know this girl never gets her nails did being a nurse and all that. What a treat!

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In the evening, we got all dressed up and headed to the rehearsal/rehearsal dinner. It was such a wonderful time.

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Me with Momma Babak, mother of the bride (but also my second mom growing up). ❤

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The beautiful bride ❤

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After the rehearsal dinner, I stayed with Clair and the maid of honor (Clair’s sister, Elane) at the Residence Inn Marriott in Akron. It was a stinking blast to say the least (girl’s night!).

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Annnnd cue the multiple snap chat photos!!

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At 6:30 in the morning (3:30 am my time in San Francisco) I woke up to squeeze in a quick run. Can you tell I’m ecstatic to be up so early? Lol.

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It was worrrth it, the line up from the hotel for breakfast was fab. So many delish options and the coffee was on point!

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After breakfast, the other girls came by for mimosas and bridal party pamper time!

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The stunnerrrr… ❤ (I know I am using an absurd amount of hearts in this post, but it’s entirely warranted).

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For lunch we had takeout Aladdin’s (a God-sent restaurant from above, amen, hallelujah, praise Him from whom all blessings flow). This Greek food is fabulous, and I could seriously eat it for dayyyyyyyyssss. Dat hummus, dem grape leaves, dat tabouleh, dat PITA…… do not get me started!

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Post getting Hair Did. I cannot do my own hair for my life, so these moments must be documented.

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Snap chat x2

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All our makeup DONE!

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Don’t mind us.. 😉

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Clair and the maid of honor (who seriously gave the BEST speech of all dang time).

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Here is a full on bridesmaid pic! Clair gifted us all these gorgeous robes for that pamperin’ process, and to wear in the limo