Our Road Trip from CA to TX!

Hey all! How is everyone?

So we are FINALLY at our road trip post from CA to TX!

Early in the morning of July 1st, we ate some oatmeal in disposable bowls, wiped down our counters one last time, dropped our keys off and then headed out first thing. One spot we never hit while living in CA was the charming little beach town of Capitola, so we made sure to factor it into our road trip.

As soon as we pulled into the city limits we started seeing brightly colored homes with characteristic beach signs on front doors or in windows reading phrases like, “All you need is Love and a Beach” and “This Mermaid swims on Coffee”.

The city itself is surprisingly quite tiny! I always imagined it much larger in my mind- but the polly pocket size of the city added to its charm. We found a parking spot and roamed around the immediate area. We couldn’t go too far from DJ’s truck since we had a bunch of suit cases in the back. **PS. Take note of the cooler sticking out of the back- it’s important for a story later on**

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Have you ever seen more zen seals?

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Although it was a cloudy day, the colors of the beach homes popped against the somber skies.

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After enjoying Capitola and watching a swarm of lifeguards being trained in the water (I can’t imagine how chilly that water was!), we hopped back on the road.

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Next up: Palm Desert. We passed by an army of windmills on our way. It reminded me of Courtney’s road trip out– she mentioned how large and alarming they can be- and I totally agree! It’s a weird feeling being under such looming and massive structures that are moving nonetheless. Funnily enough, all I could see were antibodies when I looked at them- Smalls was causing my brain to compare everything to something patho related, lol. Here’s a link to antibodies so you can see what I’m talking about.

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We finally arrived to our hotel for the evening! Somehow I got it for an insane deal — compared to everything else around it was one of the more affordable options. When we arrived it turned out it was “villas”, but really was more of a hotel room- it was confusing, but made sense once we actually got in our room. Anyways, the views of the mountains all around were just spectacular. It was HOT though- the idea of what the “desert” feels like was 100% as scorching as it sounds.

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We spent a good chunk of time lugging in all our suitcases from the bed of the truck to the room. Once we dropped everything off we headed out to explore the grounds (but we had to be sure to be back in time for Bachelorette, of course 😉 ).

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The grounds were so pretty & relaxing! Once we returned from our exploration we decided to just order some room service. I ordered a salad with added avocado (and I had a bunch of hummus to add too that I packed in our Freezer lunch bags for our roadtrip) and DJ opted for their chicken sandwich with the truffle fries that I kept stealing, naturally.

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We watched The Bachelorette and enjoyed our food. I love travel nights like this. It reminded me of time we were in NYC and made sure to be back to the hotel in time for Bach. Now, if I was in NYC these days I don’t think I could sacrifice a second of exploring the city for any show (yes, even Bach!), but since we were there wasn’t too much going on around us that evening we didn’t feel like we were missing out.

That evening was rough when it came to sleep- there was this LOUD whirring noise that even kept DJ up (who can sleep through anything)… we ended up calling maintenance at around 12:30 am when we resolved we probably wouldn’t be able to sleep. They came by and basically said there was nothing they could do at the time- it was in the pipes above us. I put on my noise-cancelling headphones to try to sleep. DJ finally fell asleep, but I tossed and turned the whole night and had a gnawing pain in the side of my head the next day from where they dug into my head. Then, our toilet stopped flushing unless we pressed the flush with the strength of Samson or did the lift the lid and pull the chain method. It suddenly all made sense why our room was immensely discounted, haha. Minus the nocturnal hours, the stay was so nice!

When it was finally the morning of July 2nd I decided to shake off the cobwebs with a morning run and a ton of coffee. Really- what would we do without coffee? I was a new person after some endorphins & caffeine.

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We ate oatmeal and granola bars we had on us for breakfast and hit the road. Back to spending time with Smalls.

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While passing through Phoenix we hopped off the highway- I needed more coffee desperately.

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But while on our quest for coffee we were greeted by an awesome surprise. Culver’s! We squealed out of nostalgic joy (DJ would probably argue he did not squeal, but I definitely did). We loved our Culver’s when we lived in Indiana. 

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DJ ordered a brownie mixer, and I stole a couple bites. Also, if you go to Culver’s you must order their cheese curds too- that’s probably my favorite thing on their menu… my stomach was not feeling 100% otherwise I totally would have loaded up.

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Okay okay, still on our coffee quest. Luckily there was a Starbuck’s right across the parking lot!

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I ordered my go-to almond milk Misto and grabbed a Siggi’s yogurt for some protein to tie me over that hopefully wouldn’t aggravate my over-tired queasiness.  Goodness this yogurt is good! I have seen it sold all over the place, but haven’t tried it- it’s really dang good! I felt better instantly after eating it.

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Back to the highway.

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New Mexico has a special place in our heart after our experience in Albuquerque on our way to CA from IN.

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While driving through New Mexico we saw a road runner statue on the side of the road. It tripped me out, because it looked so realistic at first, but was impossibly gargantuan.

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The views driving through at dusk were breathtaking. I had to put Smalls on pause to soak them all up.

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And we finally made it to Texas! wooohoooo!

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We stayed at the Doubletree in El Paso. When we checked in, we got these complimentary delicious cookies! So fun & a great little touch 🙂

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We were so hungry by this point. We ate through all our snacks we had packed in the car and were ready for some real food! We just went to The Fire Restaurant in the hotel since it was pretty late (around 9:30 pm). While waiting for our food we were feeling reflective and talked all about our time in CA and what we were looking forward to in Texas. Special convos <3

DJ ordered one of the greatest pastas we’ve ever tried. It was blackened shrimp penne with mushroom, green chile, sundried tomato and red chile cream. Who would have thought- just out of a hotel restaurant?! We have talked about this dish several times since.. I mean, wow– we were mind blown. I think it was mainly that red chile cream sauce- whatever the heck is in that… I neeeed that recipe.

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Even though I ate DJ’s pasta as though it was my own (good thing it was a pretty generous portion), I also ordered the Fire FIT Vegan bowl with hominy cake, cabbage, tomato, onion, green chile, pickled radish, Guajillo broth, and cilantro. This was a phenomenal vegan meal! It had such a unique, wonderful flavor and it didn’t take long to eat every single bite.

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After dinner we scurried out to catch the bottom of the 9th of the El Paso Chihuahuas (we just watched through the fence). It was fun to see a different minor league stadium & how they run a show!

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I think our little El Paso stint was our favorite part of the road trip. So fun! In the morning of July 3rd we hit the road super early (around 6 am). We stopped in a gas station, and I grabbed some coffee. This was such stinking good gas station coffee- it even had a beautiful layer of crema- like …WHAT?! (the picture below is straight black coffee- not a latte or anything- that is just the quality of the crema!). First a hotel restaurant (not even Italian restaurant) serving the best pasta ever and now a gas station serving insanely good coffee… I am having an existential foodie crisis.

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Back to the road… More studying with Smalls & more driving for DJ.

I offered tons of times to drive, but DJ insisted on driving so I could study. He’s the best <3 I made such a dent and felt good about the ground I had covered (mentally, and I guess literally with our move, hehe).

Sooo we did have a little mishap on the highway. Remember how our cooler was just barely sticking out of the bed of our truck? Well, it went FLYING out of the bed when we were on a wide open windy area in Texas.. I mean flying… we were actually warned at the gas station from the cashier that the wind was brutal and to be careful. We didn’t realize it was going to actually pick up our cooler! We only lost a couple items that were of any value (our Ninja bottles were the big thing and just some cheap dishes, along with the cooler itself). Luckily the cooler tumbled off to the side of the road, but we are just just so thankful nobody was behind us on the highway… that could have been real bad. The thought makes me shudder. There was nowhere to turn around to retrieve it, but I’m hoping it wouldn’t cause any issues being off the shoulder.

About 10 minutes before arriving we started seeing gray clouds, ominous harbingers. We crossed our fingers that it wouldn’t start to rain because we had all that luggage in the bed of the truck. But sure enough, while stuck in our first experience of Austin traffic, the rain came down in full force- buckets upon buckets. We were so close…. yet so far..

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I will say despite knowing everything was getting soaked in the back I was still excited to see a thunderstorm. We hadn’t seen one in years, and I loveeeee a thunderstorm (at least the mild ones- not the actually dangerous ones, which I hear we may experience often here).

Finally we arrived, got our keys, checked in, and unloaded our sopping wet suitcases. It’s all good though- they aired out pretty well, and it wasn’t an issue. We had never seen our apartment in person (my mom helped scope them out for us when she was in town for business a few months ago). We were immediately excited upon walking in! This is perfect for the stage we’re in right now- annnd everyone was so friendly we interacted with while unloading our truck. I think that was the first thing we noticed here- everyone is so friendly!

After dropping our stuff off, we popped into Trader Joe’s for our first ever Texas grocery trip! It has a parking garage system where you get your ticket comped if you are under an hour- forces me to grocery shop real quick- and y’all know I treat TJ’s like a leisure stroll in the park, so this can be a challenge, hah. Also, you take an elevator to bring your groceries down in the cart. All these little things seemed so confusing at first, but are second nature now!

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Alrighty this is quite long so I’ll continue the rest in another post. All in all it was a wonderful, memorable road trip, even with the minor little glitches. Rest in peace, ol’ Igloo Cooler- thanks for helping preserve all our San Francisco leftovers over the years… you were real cool 😉 

Questions for you:

  • Have you ever lost anything valuable on a road trip/traveling?
  • Are you team room service or eat out on the town? Both?

xo <3

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**There is an affiliate link in this post, but all opinions and ideas are my own**

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Our Final Days in the Bay!

Hey all! Hope you all have had a nice week thus far. I am in desperate need of some writing time. Writing is the kinda thing I absolutely crave..even if it’s just writing up a recap! I should be studying for my final exam, but I think I’m more productive and clear headed when I take time to get some of my thoughts out on paper- er- WP virtual paper, I suppose.

Our last week was a mad dash to get ready for the move while trying to simultaneously study and get school assignments done….. June 20th I had a long overdue hair appointment at Aveda salon in Willow Glen. I have to say, I am pretty excited to be out of CA when it comes to hair care— the salons around the Bay Area were terribly overpriced. They are way more reasonable in Texas. AND we got a coupon pack from our apartment when we arrived  that included an Aveda coupon in it for a salon nearby- woot woot!

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I’m working on getting those darker roots so I can go longer and longer without getting it touched up. I definitely feel like my hair is back to itself after last summer when it turned pink, lol! Also, Smalls was able to experience the Hair Salon too (nothing like reading about the pathophysiological mechanisms of reactive oxygen species while getting your hair did). At one point he decided to jump off my lap onto the floor- and I swear it rattled the building. That was very much a “You’re killing me Smalls” moment.

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Quick question– has anyone tried Madison Reed? I am considering it because it would save a ton, but I don’t trust myself with hair one bit… curious if anyone has experience with it?

On June 21st I ran some errands on Main Street- I already miss that express Target we had basically out our back door- it was extremely convenient, but also this will force us to be more intentional with grocery shopping and cut out the “fluff”… Savings September is right around the corner, so this is a great temptation to not have near us.

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On June 21st I used up some more of the chicken for DJ making BBQ chicken, wild rice, and a wedge salad with bacon, diced tomatoes and thousand island dressing (DJ’s favorite type of dressing).

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June 22nd was a big day of packing. It feels like this was yesterday, but it was a month and a half ago- never ceases to amaze me how crazy quick time flies!

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To refuel from packing I had a big ole’ Murasaki potato, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, beets, hummus, and Fage. I have this almost everyday- with different variations. Adding jalapenos is my favorite addition lately!

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In the evening I made DJ flank steak with a side of chimchurri sauce, brown rice and a caprese salad.

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On June 23rd we went for our last Date Night ever on Main Street. We decided to go to Rootstock and enjoy their patio. I didn’t take many pics- just soaked up every single moment!

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We passed our giant Apple on the way home for the last time. Since Cupertino is where Apple is headquartered (we could see it from our apartment window) they have a giant apple right on Main Street. People love it as a photo op.

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June 24th I woke up to a luminous sunrise. Sigh. This is turning out to be a quite the nostalgic post for me to write <3

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We consolidated all our belongings into one spot & were mostly all ready to go for the big move! We ordered half our boxes from Amazon and got the other half of the bigger boxes from the Home Depot. The ones from Amazon were pretty cheap and went a long way.

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I woke up with a delicious omelette with tons of veggies, vegan cheese and a slice of toast with butter.

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In the afternoon… I enjoyed…you guessed it…my stuffed murasaki potato..creature of habit over here!

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In the evening we enjoyed salmon topped with artichoke hearts, roasted veggies, and quinoa… only half the veggies actually made it on the plate (the other half makes it into my mouth straight out of the oven, lol).

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I recapped more of my highlights from June 24th to the 28th in my Friday Favorites post! On June 29th I enjoyed one of my last walks around the ‘hood.

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In an effort to try to use up some of the last of our food I made an egg white omelette with artichokes, whatever veggies were in the fridge and a side of grapefruit…. on a Christmas plate. Gotta use whatever you’ve got when moves happen, haha. I guess I was just embracing Christmas in July.

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June 30th was a BIG day! It was DJ’s last day working at the stadium. His coworkers had planned for weeks to send him out with a bang! They arranged to surprise him by having him throw the first pitch as they all lined up behind home plate, plus they made an absolutely heartwarming video of him and his contributions to the team. It was incredible. They so sweetly invited me to be a part of it all! I brought Sara with me to the game so we could have some girl time too before the move <3 (It was Luau night at the stadium as you can probably tell ).

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Here we all are lined up behind the home plate with DJ pitchin’! Tammy took this pic- her and her husband, Ben, went too! I was thankful to see them one last time before we left too.

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Going in for a hug when he realized I was there, hehe.

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They even signed a bat to give him and wrote some of the kindest cards. He will undoubtedly be missed!

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After watching some of the game, Sara and I went to Santana Row to use up my free vouchers I got through Instagram and enjoy one last girls night. The Hotel only requested I take some pics to share- I took the pics, just have yet to share them- so I’ll start here, ha!

The Hotel Valencia was just serene and lovely.

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We used our coupons to get a our pretty drinks & then chatted for what felt like five minutes, but was actually a couple hours, out on their terrace. We also went to look over The Row on the balcony side too.

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I miss Sara sooo much already. It was an emotional goodbye, but could not have been a more perfect last day in the Bay!

When DJ returned from the game he was pretty hungry, so I used the last eggs we had and made him a piece of peanut butter toast. And this was the last dinner ever had in our apartment! Not the most extravagant- but at least we used up all we had left.

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And if you’ve followed my blog for a while you may know I have a little nightly ice cream cone (except for when we travel, of course). But just because we were leaving I wasn’t about to let that stop me from my daily tradition! (I refreeze it after making it, but before eating it, so it doesn’t melt as fast— I know, I’m weirdlyyy particular about my ice cream cone- haha).

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In the next post I’ll recap our trip from CA to TX!

Questions for you:

  • Favorite salad dressing?
  • Do you have any unique daily routines?

xo <3

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I also just want to say before I end this- my heart is so heavy with the shootings that occurred this past weekend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted 😢 💔

A Sister Day in the Bay!

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

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

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

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And we are off to the races!….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Soaking up the views along the way…

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Pic or it didn’t happen.

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

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Boba Butt! The Corgi inspired Boba shop!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question for you:

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

xo <3

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Wine Country Part II & Capo’s Pizza!

**I started this post on the evening of July 4th, just as an FYI for some temporal reference 😉 I’ve just chipped away at study breaks**

Hey everyone! We are officially in Austin! We arrived last night. It was a pretty smooth trip out, but an emotional and high stress morning today. I’ll discuss all that more when I actually do our travel posts. BUT we did have a productive afternoon, I made it to my study end point for the day, and then our evening of the 4th was a blast. Currently, I am sitting on the floor in my new “study spot” with my mood lights wrapped around our fan to give some sense of calm lighting- It may be a fire hazard at the expense of my own aesthetic comfort- gotta choose your battles, ya know? (I’ll take a picture now and put it in the post when I have Internet again). Our movers don’t come until the 9th, and we leave the 10th for the wedding- so it’ll be a bit before we are living normal again- it’s all guuud though.

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Peep the Ugg boots from 8th grade that I still wear as slippers around the apartment, totally a normal thing, ya?

I have Dynasty, a new show I’m trying out, playing in the background. I downloaded it from the Lobby’s WIFI since we don’t have any yet. I’m also eating Halo Top ice cream because I couldn’t find my normal Dreyer’s Double Chocolate Brownie favorite at the store, and this is probably my second favorite. It’s 11:37 pm, but my body is still on Pacific time, so it feels much earlier to me. I am so eager to discuss all things Austin and our last whirlwind of a 36 hours.. but for now I will try to catch up on everything else from the last month, hah!

In the last recap, I summed up the first part of our sister jaunt through Wine Country. The next winery we went to a winery called Mckenzie-Mueller! I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a touch excited about the shared name; some of those things that bring ya amusement as a kid never die. Ya know growing up when you’d be at a tourist shop and find your name on the little key chain? It’s that same thrill (even if they spelled it differently, close enough). Also, side note about Platypus tours: I think it’s so enjoyable that you don’t know which wineries you are going to until the day of- it adds an element of surprise- I didn’t even know that this winery existed!

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This was easily the most beautiful landscape of the day, although the overall feel was a bit more “stiff” than the others. It was so quiet, which was nice, but the host had an air of arrogance that created a somewhat impersonal, cold vibe.

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The tasting room was in a fun little nook- surrounded by the owner’s paintings and wine barrels.

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So meta, ya know?

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We headed out to the vineyards and had a lesson about basically every varietal.

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While it was fascinating, and the educational element of wine country is my favorite part, it felt a bit too long in light of the heat. They eventually let us loose to enjoy the grounds ourselves and find respite in some shade in between our galavanting! After getting a bottle for DJ of Sauvignon Blanc, my sister and I went to the vineyards for pics. **If you do visit Napa/Sonoma and want to purchase a bottle, they will often waive the tasting fee. This bottle ended up coming out to about $5- and since Hal and I shared a tasting it was only about $10/person. I highly recommend doing it this way if you do the tours with multiple stops!**

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We loaded up into our Tour Bus and headed to the last spot!

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And to conclude our tour, we went to Starmont.

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At this point in the day the heat was at a high… circa 105F. We decided to move inside after initially starting the tasting outside because the heat was nearly unbearable.

It was a nice winery– but felt more “commercialized” than the others- more of a tasting room than an actual winery I’d say.  I think it’s the type of place the locals like to come and hangout on a lazy Saturday. But I think if you want the full Napa experience, pass on this one and go to an actual vineyard.

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Time to head to the Ferry!

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When we got back into the bus to head to the Ferry, the driver had cheese and crackers for us- yummmy!! Can’t beat that.

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After exchanging Instagram handles with friends we made from the tour, we hopped off the bus and waited for the Ferry back from Vallejo to SF.  The Ferry never gets old! I just loveeee it.

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It was a nice and smooth ride with stunning views.

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And for Halston’s bday dinner… We went to Capo’s! It was only about a mile walk from the Ferry, so that was easy peasy. This recommendation came from Kate at LiveintheNautical. When she visited SF, and we met up for the first time, she highly recommended Capo’s to us. I had been eager to try it since, but it seemed we always had something else lined up every time we ventured into the city. One of Halston’s favorite foods is pizza, so I was hoping to give her one of the best pizza experiences of her life! (Also side note: This is the sister restaurant to Tony’s we had tried a few weeks prior).

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I immediately loved the entire feel from the brick walls to the red leather seats. I would describe it as casual, edgy, classic, yet somewhat romantic, all at the same time.

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We started with the Quattro Forni, a pizza cooked in four different ovens.  YES- FOUR. In 2012 this won the “Best of the Best” Pizza award in Las Vegas’s international Pizza Festival. This is cooked in a 500 gas brick oven, deep fried, then topped with all the yums. THEN, it then returns to a 500F brick oven, then a 650 brick oven, and lastly a 800 wood burning oven. I don’t even know if this would be classified as “pizza”—it had more of that feel of a cheesy bread because of the light airiness of the crust- but think the best GOSH DARN cheesy bread you’ve ever tasted in your life. I dream of that flavor (especially the crust). And they only make 10 per day! I made a note in our Yelp reservation that we would like to try one and called to confirm that day that it’d be available. I was determined we’d try one, haha. It was better than I could have ever imagined. Such a uniquely phenomenal creation.

Next up was the pizza-pizza- we had their “cracker thin” pizza- half Farmer’s Pie with mozzarella, provolone, goat cheese, white sharp cheddar, house honey Calabrese sausage, bacon, Guan’s assorted mushrooms, farm eggs, peppadews, arugula, oregano & romano (this half was mainly for DJ since we knew we’d be able to take him some home) and half Haight Ashbury (vegetarian) with mozzarella, provolone, feta, pesto, onions, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, broccolini, roasted red peppers, garlic, oregano, romano. We shared a slice of the Farmer’s to give it a review, but our heart was with the Haight Ashbury. The cracker thin crust was everything I could have dreamed of in a pizza crust- light, crunchy and balanced. The whole pie definitely satisfied our “pizza tooth”. Halston said it was some of the best she’s ever had too!

She was a trooper letting me pull out my obnoxious, incredibly non-subtle, food light to get these shots, lol.

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And that’s a wrap! My sister-in-law, Amy, graciously let us stay with her that evening since we were set to frolic in SF the next day! We had fun catching up and chatting with her all about her solo trip to New Zealand.

I’ll recap the next day’s happenin’s in a separate post.

Question for you:

  • Did you have a nice Fourth of July?

xo <3

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Sister Time & Wine Country Part I!

Hey hey, long time no seeee!! Oh man, you know what’s tough? Sometimes the times in life when you need to write and process the most are the times that are the most chaotic and don’t allow much free time to do just that! (Don’t count how many times I used “time” in that sentence, or this one). But I’ve gotta say, at this moment, I’m actually enjoying the chaos. It’s incredibly stressful for sure, tears have been shed, and there are times I don’t feel like I can handle it all- but things are going much smoother than I could have ever imagined, and I feel like we are almost in the clear! We also have a lot of the really huge stressors behind us, so now much of that anxiety is getting replaced with excitement and anticipation! Also, although each day is go-go-go from super early morning till nearly midnight, the adrenaline from everything is working wonders. We officially move out on Sunday.

Currently….My brain is fried, I cannot do another lick of studying, so I am treating myself to just this one night to do a blog post!

We left off the evening my sister arrived. On June 5th, my Sis and I woke up early to get to work! Halston had tons of “to-dos” on her list for the wedding & of course, I had a bottomless pit of reading and studying and assignments. We started the day with avocado smoothies– Hal talked about them for weeks leading up to the trip since she got hooked on them last time she was here. We had one every day of her visit this time around- and now I can’t have one without missing her!

I took a midday break to post some items on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. I’m never using Craigslist again with the success we’ve had through Marketplace. I’m so stoked about it- it’s just so easy.

In the evening we whipped up some stuffed sweet potatoes again. We made ours each a bit differently, mine with extra tzatziki and beets and Hal’s with extra green goddess dressing from TJs. These also included tofu, roasted peppers and onions, artichoke hearts and hummus all stuffed in Murasaki potatoes. We chatted out on the balcony & enjoyed the momentary quiet from the studying/wedding details.

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On June 6th we went to Peets during the day to get shtuff done, and then came back in the late afternoon and worked out on the main apartment community deck. Smalls was soaking up the sun… I would have hated to disturb him..so I figured I should just let him be 😉

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We made massive salads in the evening with all ingredients in the fridge- mmm mmmm! Halston is all aboard the massive salad train too.

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Side note: DJ had a home-stand during the week she was here (where he leaves basically at 730 am-ish and doesn’t get home till 11ish); that’s why he isn’t around in any adventures, sadly. We missed him!

Anyway, we took an after-dinner walk around Main Street before I hit the books again.

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Aaand it was the same ol’ on June 7th. We were very productive through the week, but basically it was just study/eat/workout/study/eat.

To shake things up for dinner, we decided to try TJ’s Cauliflower Gnocchi! We didn’t add much seasoning to it because I wanted to get a feel for the base to see what I could jazz it up with next time.

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They were super yummy. I think next time I’d like to add some type of nice parmesan on top! A red sauce would work well too. We ate them with tilapia and roasted veggies from Chef Hal herself. Halston and I eat essentially the same type of diet, so it was fun to tag- team dinners throughout the week.

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I started packing that evening after getting to a stopping point I had planned for the week. We made sure to try to get a good night sleep because we woke up around 4:45 am on Saturday June 8th to get a workout in. And finally- after a long week of studying and wading through wedding logistics we were ready for a day of fun & relaxation! We scarfed down our coffee and avocado smoothies and headed out to celebrate my sister’s birthday in….. NAPA!

We headed from Cupertino to the Ferry Building in SF where our wine tour car would be picking us up. I booked us through Platypus Wine Tours again since it was such a phenomenal experience the first time around with Kelsey (and it’s very reasonably priced).

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The tour bus was scheduled to pick us up in front of the Ferry Building at 8:45 am, and we had about twenty minutes to spare after grabbing our Ferry tickets for the trip back…so naturally we had to grab some pics!

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When it was time to load up the car, we found ourselves surrounded by about 8 other people from all over the world- Denmark, France, Canada… It was fun to get to know them all throughout the trip. That’s something I so love about San Francisco- you meet people from truly everywhere and anywhere with the most fascinating lives and stories.

First stop first: Auburn James.

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This was a unlike any other winery experience we’ve had before. The whole tasting room vibe was supposed to make you feel like you were entering a home, and it really did feel like we were all just hanging out in a living room.

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We were given our tasting and then showed around the vineyards.

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The vineyards were beautiful! But it was HOT HOT HOT. Our Platypus tour guide did say they were a little bit worried about wildfires that day. I think we could have all done without that little tidbit of knowledge.. eep!

6486d0ac-f7b3-4bfa-b416-ea35be5d910f1d6c75ed-5548-4dd3-8a3f-97408f06db4a I wouldn’t say this winery is a must, but it was a lovely experience nonetheless. I think it was the most educational out of the four!

Second Stop: Hagafen. This was our favorite of the day for several reasons…

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Oh, and another bonus, they had games! We attempted a round of cornhole, but the wind kept catching our bags, so we didn’t do too hot.. meaning it was probably comical for any bystanders watching, haha.

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Before we knew it, it was lunch time! yaa buddy. They had vegetarian dishes for Hal & I. Platypus called before hand to make sure they accommodated any dietary restrictions. So kind! We enjoyed every nibble of our veggie sandwiches accompanied by hummus, pears, and a lentil salad that was to die for.

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And dessert were these sweet little strawberries and cream muffin bites.

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I’ll recap the second part of wine country in a separate post! Happy birthday again, Sista!

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Questions for you:

  • What do you call cornhole? I know it has a variety of names depending where you’re from.
  • What time of day do you prefer to workout?

xo <3

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Meeting another Blogger, Golden Boy Pizza & The Emporium!

Hi, everyone! I hope you had a nice weekend!

Jumping straight on into the recap…On May 29th and 30th, it was just study study, ya know the drill by now- but also, ya can’t get started without breakfast, right?! Breakfast time is one of my favorite parts of the whole day & I have been eating this one on repeat the last few weeks: an Avocado smoothie with PB toast & honey.

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On May 30th I went to the local coffee shop to grab a cafe au lait and studied with Smalls in our apartment community office/study room. In the afternoon was Boys and Girls club. The kids are done for the summer & it’s been a bit emotional coming to that realization. I can’t wait to get plugged back in once we’re settled in Austin!

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On May 31st I had a very lovely morning! I met up with a local blogger, Kalpana, from surreyfarms.net at Great Bear Coffee in Los Gatos.

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We have been friends in the blog-o-sphere for years but have never met up before. It was absolutely wonderful to meet her and have such deeply rich conversation for a couple hours- I felt like we could have talked all day! And the coffee was fantastic as a nice bonus 🙂 It was certainly the highlight of my week. If you want some mouth-wateringly, beautifully prepared and delicious recipes, gorgeous garden pictures, and heart-warming family adventures I highly recommend heading over to her blog! She is a true inspiration of mine <3

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In the afternoon I enjoyed a purple sweet potato with beets, artichoke hearts, hummus, and Fage.

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I studied all the rest of the day and then while walking through our complex I realized there was something going down…. A hoe-down to be exact!

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The management team had an entire western themed party going on for the complex complete with a petting zoo for the kiddos. I texted DJ to see if he wanted any food, but he had already had BBQ at the stadium for lunch. Still, so fun and a nice gesture for the apartment crew to put this on!

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DJ finally had an evening to breathe from work, and I hustled on school work so we could enjoy a Saturday evening together the following day.

On Saturday June 1st we both were productive during the day and then around 5:00 pm we headed to San Francisco. I read Smalls in the car on the way down up (I always want to say down for some reason?!) and actually made a huge dent in my chapter- it makes me optimistic that I’ll be productive on our road-trip to TX. So where was our foodie adventure for the evening you ask? Welllll, lemme telll youuuu! I’ve been on a serious pizza kick lately and have been on a mission to find the best!

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People swear by Golden Boy Pizza as the best in the city. The wait was about forty-five minutes, but finally we made it to the front to order. It’s a casual spot- you can technically eat inside, but it’s mostly standing room. People usually just take their pies to go.

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They are famous for their clam and garlic pizza, so we tried that and a few other flavors: DJ had their pepperoni and sausage, and I had their cheese and clam/garlic.

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We took our slices back to the car and blasted the heat while chowing down. This pizza was very good. DJ and I both prefer thin crusts, and this is more of a focaccia, but it worked! It wasn’t too dense or doughy- it was light, airy, and had a lovely crunch. The flavor of the clam and garlic was pretty tremendous and unique, but DJ preferred their meat-based slices. I don’t know that I would wait that long again for it- but I am so glad we finally tried it! I see why it has its popularity, but at the same time I’m not sure it’s 100% worth the hype.

After, we headed over to The Emporium to continue our date night. The Emporium is a massive arcade for adults. They have a live DJ, play a giant movie, and have countless of games that will make you nostalgic for the 80s and 90s.

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It was a blast!!! Probably one of my favorite things we have done in SF yet.

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DJ beat me at the basketball game, of course (hello, two time national basketball champion 😉 )…. but I held my own in ski ball, hehe.

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When I was going through our pics on the way home I realized we were photo bombed by a cartoon painting who weirdly had similar eyes to mine?!

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On June 2nd it was back to it! Smalls is almost too big for the treadmill reading/walking routine, but if the chapter is somewhere in the middle of the book I can balance him, ha!

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June 3rd, same same, mixed up with my new favorite snack of a purple sweet potato, artichoke hearts, hummus, and Fage– can ya tell I’m on a kick?

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I decided to make some homemade hummus with leftover tahini that evening. This is the best batch of homemade hummus I’ve made thus far, but I stilll don’t like it better than TJ’s quartet.

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I also made Shakshuka from TJ’s. I heard about Shakshuka from Kori’s blog, and when I saw TJ’s had an easy throw-together one I figured it’d be a great way to start it out!

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I served it with a couple eggs, brown rice, and naan bread. It was so stinkin’ yummy. This will be added to the lineup!

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On June 4th I started the day with the uszh, yoozh? usz? (however you spell the short of usual).

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In the afternoon, I threw together a little snack that I quite enjoyed of cauliflower mashed potatoes, tzatziki, artichoke hearts, beets, and chik’n tenders from Lightlife.

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My sister was flying in that night! Before she arrived I had some errands to quickly run at Santana Row.

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I marveled at this cozy sunset before heading to the stores.

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After a happy reunion with my sissy, we went back home, I whipped up some stuffed sweet potatoes with tofu, hummus, roasted veggies, and green goddess dressing for us both, and we caught up while eating out on the patio.

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I was initially planning on doing more school work, but I was so excited about my sister being here that I couldn’t think about focusing. Instead, I made DJ a big batch of his favorite chicken curry and naan that would be good for about three meals for the week.

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This feels like a good stopping point.

Questions for you:

  • Are you having any food cravings/stages right now?
  • Have you watched Chernobyl on HBO? I hear it’s the new GOT, and DJ and I both are considering starting it after we finish The OA.

xo <3

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Falafel’s Drive In & Mystery Spot!

Hey, everyone! I am writing this on absolutely zero brain power, so please excuse the typos (I’m sure there will be plenty). Imma be real– this last week or so has been a doozy. We officially move at the end of this month, and the pressure of school, the move, and trying to get everything aligned for my sister’s wedding is putting my body in a state of fight-or-flight. My heart is racing out of my chest every day, I’m not sleeping, my appetite is pretty suppressed.. I know everything will get done… it always does. I usually thrive off this type of stress, but I think the sleep-deprivation mixed with anticipation of receiving feedback for my first quiz and exam are just weighing on me. Once I get those back (they make up 20% of my entire grade) and have some (hopefully good?) grades under my belt I bet I’ll feel very relieved. So, yes, if you have any extra sanity lying around, please send it right my way 🥴

I just hit a wall tonight while reading my textbook, so I’ve decided since I won’t be able to sleep anyways, maybe some writing/reflection is just what I need to calm down. When I started blogging I realized the power of choosing to focus on all the positive. Also, everything that is happening is good great stress- I have to keep that in perspective. I wouldn’t change a thing that’s happening! And this stress does not even pale in comparison to what I was going through about a year ago- so I’ll take this ANY day over that phase of life! PLUS, I don’t have clinicals this summer- so this timing could not be more perfect. I’m very thankful. So let’s get on with the highlights, shall we?!

Let’s see, so May 13th one of the highlights of the day was enjoying this tofu curry with basmati rice and some whole wheat pita. I could eat this meal every day! It’s sooo satisfying.

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I went on a nice walk in the evening after dinner. I am soaking up every moment of my walk route lately. It’s definitely going to be one of the things I miss the most. I have been living for that daily walk to clear my head and shake off the mental cobwebs! Even just a mile or two can really be just what I need to refocus.

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On May 14th I finished getting everything together to start my semester. May 15th my term officially started. I will say I prefer the format of this semester over last’s, even though it’s going to be the most challenging yet, content-wise and workload. It’s less paper-based and more exam-based- which means less busy work through week, but overall way more time studying. I do love what I’m learning, which makes all the difference. This is my textbook that will basically become my third arm this summer. I put my fist in for reference, hah. How this will all be read in less than three months time is beyond me, but we’re gonna give it our best shot!

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I worked most of the day on reading through orientation lectures, organizing my planner and starting on the first Module. Before making dinner I went for a walk and quite literally stopped to smell the roses 🙂

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For dinner I decided to have a massive salad out of my trough with hummus, all the veggies, and some Lightlife “chicken” since I had my Indian meal for lunch.

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On May 16th I studied all morning but had a nice afternoon respite by going to Boys and Girls Club. The rest of the day I read, read, and read some more! That’s basically been every day since I started the semester.

For dinner I made DJ some BBQ chicken with corn & rice. Such an easy midweek meal.

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May 17th- Read. All. The. Pages. & Leftovers.

The 18th I started the day with some delicious oats, chocolate chips & an avocado smoothie. I joked when I posted this on my insta-story that all these competing patterns are quite dizzying.

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May 19th– Lotsa reading and lectures. Oh! I do want to say I am so thankful for my professor I was assigned. He is easily one of the best profs I think I have ever had undergrad/grad school combined. These concepts are immensely challenging, but he explains them in a way that makes them much easier to understand and digest.

In the evening we watched GOT finale. I wasn’t thrilled with it along with most of the general population, but I am eager to watch the documentary! I think the fact that people were signing petitions is absurd and offensive- you can’t protest someone’s “art”, ya know? But I do wish it had ended differently.

May 20th–  I changed up my breakfast a bit and started the day with Crunchy PB toast with a touch of honey, grapefruit and coffee. 

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May 21st I spotted these beauties while out on my walk.

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And now, for some fun- DJ and I had a little impromptu date!

I am actually getting kind of sleepy now.. it’s about 11:30 pm.. I think I might try to finish this post in the morning and sleep now! Wish me luck!

7: 00 am: Ok, I am back… I actually slept! I knew blogging would help 🙂

Jumping right back in! I love Falafel, and in SJ there is a place called “Falafel’s Drive In“. It has raving reviews on YELP & has been on my bucket list for ages. Finally time to try it out!

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It’s a fast-casual little joint where you order at the stand and then eat under the scaffolding.

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We each ordered their two famous offerings: a falafel pita sandwich and a banana milkshake to split. And, of course, some hummus on the side for good measure.

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It was easier to see the inside of the falafel after I took a few big bites in. d22a4972-807a-4aa7-800b-c94f09150944

Verdict: It was absolutely delicious! The flavor combo of the sweet, cool banana milkshake with the soft, spiced and flavorful falafel was epic. I probably wouldn’t order the shake on its own- it was more of an “icy” milkshake than creamy- but it was still a pretty tremendous combo. Their hot sauce is some of my favorite I’ve ever tried! It’s not super spicy (which usually would be a no-go for me), but the unique, sweet/spicy synergistic flavor blew me away! The hummus was fine- butttt I wouldn’t order it again with Oren’s right down the road!

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On May 22nd, DJ had a day off so we decided to go to the beach in Santa Cruz to get some fresh air & get me out of the house. I still had to study most of the day, but I just read in the car and on the beach!

On our way to Santa Cruz we stopped at The Mystery Spot, a spot we have wanted to go for a while. Since we’ve moved here we’ve seen people with a bumper sticker proudly announcing they have, indeed, been to this popular spot. We knew we had to go before moving. And I wanted a bumper sticker too, darnit! Oops, My FOMO is showing.

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So what is Mystery Spot? The description from their website sums it up very well:

The Mystery Spot is a gravitational anomaly located in the redwood forests just outside of Santa Cruz, California. It is a circular area of effect around 150 feet or 46 meters in diameter. Within the Mystery Spot you will be stunned as your perceptions of the laws of physics and gravity are questioned. But don’t take our word for it, come and decide for yourself!

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It was wild! I know there is probably some explanation, but it was pretty trippy! For example, one of the things she did was roll a ball in what appeared downward on a plank, but it rolled back up (and she “proved” how the ball wasn’t altered or there weren’t any other gimmicks- although I’m pretty sure the entire thing is one large gimmick, lol). Definitely a fun thing for kids- it will blow their mind- but also fun for adults too!

For instance, in this picture, DJ feels like he is standing straight up, but it appears as though he’s leaning forward.

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And here it looks like we should fall right off the table, but we didn’t feel unstable at all. Had to take the opportunity for the Titanic pose, of course.

5965f2f7-ea7b-4e01-b70e-9643671e75b7It was a fun experience, and only took about 45 mins total.59282dd6-d1d4-427f-9927-3971ef1f68d5

Also! Banana Slugs!!! These are the mascot of SC & it’s always exciting when you spot one.

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PS. This place was Dad Jokes galore, so naturally that made me appreciate it all the more.

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And we finally got our sticker!!! Woot woot.

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Next up: The Beach!

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I forgot our towels at home (where is my mind), so we swung into Walgreens and grabbed some. I did remember all the snacks though- you can bet I wouldn’t forget those 😉

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It was too chilly to actually lie out, but even lying down in the sun on the sand all bundled up was still soooo relaxing. It was a great change of pace to knock out some reading.

Also, I decided to name my massive book “Smalls”…. 1. Because I love irony. 2. Because now I can say, “You’re killing me, Smalls” all summer long.

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As we were leaving Santa Cruz I had a nostalgic moment thinking about how this was the first place we visited when we moved here. It was also one of the first places I fell in love with in California and has been our getaway when life gets stressful. It also has been where we have made amazing memories with our little sisters, Kelsey, Rachel, and Halston and Kevin. It felt all of a sudden full circle, and I was overcome by such thick emotion as we drove away for the last time.

Time to get back to reading. Thank you for taking time out of your day to stop in 🙂

Questions for you:

  • What is one positive thing going on in your life right now?

xo <3

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Lotsa munchin’ & brunchin’!

Hey hey! How are you? I spent all day long reading countless pages in pathophysiology and watching lectures so I am treating myself to some writing late this evening 🙂 This semester is already kicking my butt. I am gonna have such little free time .. so it’ll be interesting doing an entire move in the middle of it. Even my prof said, “I hope this course is behind you before the move!”… whoops… guess we’ll see how it goes, haha. (It’s an online course for those that are confused about how that will work).

After returning from Hal’s bridal shower, on May 7th, I paid my speeding ticket, unpacked and did laundry. For dinner I made us this curried seafood mix of calamari, shrimp, and scallops with jasmine rice and naan bread.

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On May 8th I started the morning with oatmeal, a Cutie clementine, Shakeology protein powder, and Fage with my coffee.

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For lunch, we didn’t have much in the way of groceries but I whipped up my new favorite omelette combo: egg whites, artichoke hearts, vegan mozzarella cheese, and garlic powder with pink Himalayan sea salt & hummus on the side. YUM!

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And guess what?! Remember how Alexandra and I wanted to go to that Italian restaurant in SF, but they had no openings the evenings we were there? Well— our calendars aligned so we made reservations for that afternoon! Around 2:30 pm we met at my apartment, and I drove us into the city to (finally) try out Cotogna.

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I absolutely loved the interior- it was so warm & cozy and you could see the whole wood fire burning stove.

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So the item on my bucket list was the Raviolo with farm egg & brown butter.

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^^ Yes, that beauty!!! This ravioli was massive & sooo stinkin’ amazing. Did you all ever make buttered Cheerios as a kid? They were the ultimate treat for us growing up! This dish was reminiscent of that in flavor… but the cheese and quality of pasta took that nostalgic flavor to spectacular and exquisite heights. I had to leave a nibble for DJ, so I took a little home for him to try along with a dish of his own- the Agnolotti del plin. He said he preferred the Raviolo, but that both dishes were incredible.

Afterwards, we had to satisfy our sweet tooth. We headed to Mitchell’s, a place on the bucket list. They are known as one of the best places for ice cream in the entire Bay Area!

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I ordered a combo of chocolate caramel crackle per Alexandra’s suggestion & Ube.

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The Chocolate caramel crackle is some of the best darn ice cream flavors I have ever had!!! Gosh. I get why it’s known for being famous- & I was soo glad Alexandra suggested it. The Ube was fine- I haven’t been a huge fan of Ube the couple of times I have tried it– it’s just too plain Jane for me.

I always so love my time with Alexandra. Can’t wait for her and her hubby to join us in Austin- right, girlfran?! 😉

On the morning of May 9th, I rummaged through the freezer to find a frozen banana, a dragonfruit pack and then threw on some PB and chocolate chips.

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I caught up on e-mails, etc. that I missed over the weekend and got around to some other to-do list items.

For dinner I made us BBQ’d tempeh, peppers, corn, & white rice. It was pretty delish & high in proteins, so very filling!

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In the evening I took a bath to just veg out after such a busy few days.

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on May 10th DJ and I had a fun day leading into a full weekend of us just hanging out! I went for a run in the morning, caught up on some blogging, and then we headed to Shake Shack.

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Neither of us had been before, but we were so pleased with the whole experience!

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You order via an electronic system- introverts rejoice.

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It took a loooooong time for our food to be ready, but they were super busy.

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DJ tried their burger- his thoughts: It is a good, solid burger, but he still way prefers In-n-Out’s.

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I could not resist their limited time Game of Thrones milkshake! It was a peppermint shake with candied toffee that made up “dragon glass”- soooo yummy.

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DJ also loved their chocolate shake. Next time we want to try their mixers- we loved our Culver’s concrete mixers when we lived in IN. The fries were decent- good to dip in the shakes of course- but the best fries are forever from Steak & Shake. In the evening I did some grocery shopping and we finished up Ozark (the second season kinda dragged in my opinion-but still excited for the third).

May 11th, I whipped up some black bean brownies to have for the week. I just finished the last of them today. I actually have been having them with my oatmeal, smoothies, or toast for breakfast to get my little chocolate fix!

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After a morning run, DJ and I headed into the city to try out Nopa in the early afternoon. We lucked out with parking right on the corner!

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This place’s menu changes each month- but they always have one famous item on their menu- the Custard French Toast.

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We ordered that and the brioche cinnamon roll with strawberries, kumquats, and guava cream cheese frosting and a pomegranate mimosa to pair with them.

After ordering, we sat back to enjoy the ambiance of the place- it had almost an industrial feel with a wide open space and two floors, but somehow maintained a warm energy about it.

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First up- the cinnamon roll! The flavor burst in each bite of this was real. The guava cream cheese frosting is something I could eat by the spoonfuls- it was outstanding.

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Now, time for custard french toast! Y’all this lived up to every bit of the hype. I could not get over how delicious this was.

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I tried to get some syrup pouring pics, but the distance of the food on my portrait mode messed with my spatial perception, and I ended up pouring it on the table instead. We had a good laugh at it after my initial embarrassment.

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In the evening, we were craving Mexican, but nowhere around us serves crunchy tacos (the kind DJ prefers)- so I whipped us up a whole spread! I haven’t done this since my mom and Pete were here back in August, although you know I make the tacos alone all time.

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I put out salsa con queso and regular salsa with hint of lime tortilla chips and plantain chips, DJ’s regular tacos, and my vegan tacos (in the bowl) with lettuce wraps (I LOVE the refreshing crunch of a lettuce wraps for tacos topped with tons of Tabasco and Fage as “sour cream”). I also made my mom’s marg. recipe. Such a winning meal.

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On the morning of May 12th, we brunched round 2 at Stein’s! This was my last free weekend before being buried in school work, so we took full advantage, can ya tell?

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I ordered their vegan hash with mushrooms, tofu, tons of seasoning, and potatoes. It definitely needed salt- but with salt & enough hot sauce it was pretty good. Don’t think I’d order it again because I could probably make this at home, but it was worth the try. The little baguette pieces were yummy- but they could have maybe given a couple more.

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Now, this was the star of brunch! This stack of pancakes consisted of blueberry pancakes with mascarpone cheese & some delicious syrup.

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Aaaand I got that syrup pour picture to redeem myself from the prior day’s fiasco 😉

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Personally, these are my favorite pancakes I have ever tried in the area. The mascarpone cheese cuts the sweetness perfectly. They were the perfect balance of fluffy without being too dense and heavy.

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After doing some chores in the afternoon, we decided to take a late afternoon hike at one of our BL hike places- Sanborn County Park.

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^ Take note. hahah.

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This is such a little gem of a spot. There were so many families enjoying the sunny afternoon and campers galore.

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The forest was so quiet and serene.

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Going into my most intense semester yet, this was the perfect type of balanced weekend to explore, rest, eat fantastic foods and spend some great quality time with DJ.

Question for you:

  • Where do you go to get your favorite burger/fries?

xo <3

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Halston’s Bridal Shower Festivities!

Hi, All! Happy Monday to you. I am actually putting the finishing touches on this on Sunday– I have a couple posts in my drafts that I wrote before starting school. This semester is going to be a true doozy…the free time is going to be basically nil with the move & traveling for the wedding on top of it all. Sooo, I may be somewhat MIA for a few months. Although, blogging is incredibly therapeutic for me, and it gives me something to look forward to… so hopefully I can prioritize it in some way even if it is not as frequent.

Also, I published my sister’s Graduation post, but WP didn’t release it on on the main Reader for some reason. In case your interested I have it linked here 🙂

After we arrived back in Cleveland, I picked up a rental car at the airport since I would be buzzing around like a bee all weekend separate from my Mom and Pete.

My first stop was my friend Rachel’s to pick up some supplies I had shipped in for the shower. I only very briefly got to see her since I had a long to-do list, but we had plans Sunday together to look forward to.

Next up was Staples (do you believe it? hehe). I ordered the bridal shower sign for pick-up in OH while I was sitting in CA, which was a bit odd, but it went off without a hitch. I walked in and was able to pick it right up!

Right after, I went about a half mile down the road to Aldi. A few of you know I was obsessed with Aldi when I lived in Indiana. I have missed it, and I can’t tell ya how stoked I was to return! I had to pick up all the groceries for the shower and this was the best and most affordable way to do it.

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I put my quarter in the slot (Thanks, Pete! He lent me a quarter because I realized I didn’t have one on me before we left the rental car lot) and was off to get my groceries. I got tons of fruit, veggies, chips, salsa, etc. etc. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t just casually grocery shopping for DJ and me. There was way more I could have bought if I was actually loading up on a regular food haul!

I spent the evening with one of my best friend’s, Clair, and her beautiful little family. She has the sweetest little boy, Jacob, and a newborn angel named Layla.

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I mean- can you handle his cuteness?! I already miss him oh so much. I spent probably half of my time there playing tag with him around the dining room table, haha.

I food prepped all evening while we gabbed away. I relish my time with her & I’m just so proud of her and the beautiful life she has built.

In the morning around 7:00 am we went to Planet Fitness. I had a great run & did a little weight workout. Perfect start to the day. The vibe at Planet Fitness is really great. If you are looking for a gym membership, their’s is super affordable & the whole experience genuinely makes you wanna go to the gym!

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While driving to my brother’s house to set up (My sister-in-law and bro graciously lended their home for the shower!), I got a gosh darn speeding ticket. My first ever. I was soo upset. I was going a teeeny bit fast, but I was A. in a rental car and B. going down hill on C. An open country road (where the speed limit was way lower than I thought) when I was clocked. Also, the officer was driving when they clocked me with the radar- I have never heard of that, but I guess they can do that? I thought they had to be stationary. Anyways, I know I deserved a ticket- I know there are truly no excuses- but it definitely set back my timeline and is an annoying expense. HUM-BUG.

Now putting that ticket out of mind, onto allll the good stuff 🙂 Once I finally arrived I had to get into set up mode fast. I unloaded my separate suitcase filled with decorations that I checked on my flight and got to work.

First up, the “Staples” sign! The download from Etsy was only $5, so I only had to pay for the printing and foam board.

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Then I set up decor around the home with my sweet niece and nephew helping me out. I wish I could have spent more time with them directly that weekend, but the little time I did get to see them was treasured <3

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And now, the fooooood!!!! First up, an anchor with the veggies…

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A palm tree with fruit….

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And since it was Cinco de Mayo, we had to add a little Mexican flair! My mom made her famous corn and avocado salad and we served them in little margarita cups I ordered from Oriental Trading company.

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I was going to make Taco pizza from scratch, but I was pretty exhausted Saturday and on top of everything else to prep, I figured an ordered pizza would probably turn out better anyways! I found a place a quarter mile away, called A Slice Above, that delivered a pizza called “South of the Border”— (perfect for the 5th!)–it included Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese with diced onions, green peppers, black olives, and seasoned ground beef, all covered with a zesty salsa sauce. They had a vegetarian option I opted for too. Since the shower started at 1 pm, I had them delivered at 12:30 and just hid the boxes 😉

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My mom also made some absolutely scrumptious crab nachos!!! A couple of her good friends came to help with food setup too- sooo appreciated!

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Oh, and you can’t forget sweets 🙂 The little blue and white sour circles reminded me of life rafts (and sour gummy candy is my sister’s favorite). I also included cookie sandwiches, raspberry cheesecake bites, Hersey kisses, and cake pops. I ordered the cake pops from Etsy- they were delivered to my SIL’s house a couple days before the shower & were in perfect shape. Everyone raved about how good they were too (they were red velvet- one of my sister’s favorite flavors). I tried to stick to her colors of nautical blue and I thought the gold dusted ones looked like sand.

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For drinks my mom made her famous margaritas in two different flavors & we also had Virgin margaritas, diet coke, coke, and water.

All the guests started arriving! We chit-chatted and caught up with people we hadn’t seen in years! After, we all ate lots of food & then sat around to open up gifts! Kate, our niece, was adamant that she wanted to help open the gifts with Hal. Too cute– although we did have to make sure she didn’t cut herself on any pizza cutters! We played bridal bingo and a true/false game about her and Kevin (her fiancé). The games went really well! I chose not to do the charades because we spent a good chunk of time mingling (just as I was hoping 🙂 ). We had one tie with the true/false game, so I was glad I packed an extra gift bag !

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Everyone watching Hal open her gifts!

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After the gift opening we made sure to grab some pics. Can’t believe my baby Sis is getting married. So happy for her. I could not think of anyone more perfect for her either! PS. I threw a color on for the shower. Are you proud? In the Bay area we only really wear neutrals, so going back to the Midwest I figured I’d spice it up a bit..

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And I just loveee this picture of my Aunt, Sister, and Grandma.

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Sistas sistas!! This is my sister Andrea on the far right. I’ve mentioned her several times on the blog before, but she lives in Colorado so I don’t see her often. I call her my therapist because she’s so wise & we always have the best of “life” chats. That day, she helped me a tremendous amount. I don’t think everything would have been ready on time without her.

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We also couldn’t help but snag a quick selfie with one of my little sis by proxy (and also a bridesmaid!), Marissa. She is moving to NorCal in June! I wish we were staying, but since Hal is visiting in June hopefully the three of us can hangout more then too 🙂

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My Dad’s side of the family <3 Well, females anyway 🙂

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After everyone left we said our goodbyes, and I took some leftover pizza, veggies, and fruit back to Clair’s. Rach joined us!!! She brought my all time favorite dessert from back in OH- Gasoline Alley’s Carrot Cake (I mentioned a couple posts ago!). It was as stinkin’ delicious as ever!

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It was also so good to have some girl time. We all have been friends since sixth grade & it’s so easy to pick back up where we left off always.

Oh, and of course I had to include a picture of sweet Layla. I keep joking I might steal her. But am I joking? Be stillll my heart.

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My flight on the 6th was at 6 pm, so I had some time in the morning to sleep in, relax and get ready to go! I did run along the beautiful country roads before kicking it into pack-up mode.

Clair lives right next to horses. I felt so at home, since we lived somewhere similar when I lived there. Going back there grounds me, reminds me of what’s important in life & to find joy in the little things.

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O-H-…..!

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Once returning from my run I nibbled on some yogurt, fruit, and granola… and had two hefty cups of coffee to fuel up for my travel day!

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After returning my rental car, I flew out of CLE Hopkins with allll my snacks for the evening in tow.

Here is a small fraction of what I nibbled on on my flights. The combo of the cranberry almond KIND bar and greek yogurt was oh so satisfyin’!

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Aaand with that I landed back in CA late in the evening (around 11:30 pm). DJ picked me up & I was just elated to see him! I started missing OH as soon as I stepped down, but was happy to be back. We talk all the time how we think we’ll end up back there someday. I would bet we do one more move after Austin and then end up settling in OH. Just a prediction, of course will be determined greatly by DJ’s job, but we shall seeee!

Questions for you:

  • Favorite travel snacks?
  • Can y’all believe it’s almost SUMMER- where is this year going? Any vacation plans coming up?

xo <3

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Halston’s Graduation!

I am so excited to share this post!! A couple weekends ago, my baby sister, Halston, graduated from University of Cincinnati & I was so thankful I was able to watch her walk across the stage!!

Starting from the beginning…

On May 2nd, I ran six-ish miles before heading to the airport at 10 am to fly into OH for her graduation and also her bridal shower. DJ had to work all weekend, unfortunately, so couldn’t come along. He was missed somethin’ fierce <3 Anyway- I packed all my food for the travel day so I wouldn’t have to pay the exorbitant prices at the terminal. Since realizing you can take real food through security, it has been such a game changer! I just use my insulated lunch box and load it up with all the noms. Occasionally I do get stopped through security with it, but they always give the green light once they know what it is.

My go-to for the travels is a sweet potato, black bean burger, hummus, Fage, and whatever veggies might go bad that I can roast up and then throw in.

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They also had a See’s Candy kiosk that you know I could not resist. I also didn’t know what flavor I’d be in the mood later, so I just decided to get one of each (totally justified buying these since I packed the rest of my food). 😉

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On the plane itself I got hungry again so ate a Fage yogurt with PB2 (my neighbors were so confused what powdery substance I was pouring in there, haha). It is super high in protein so helps keep me full for a couple hours. I also nibbled on some popcorn and protein bars as well as raw veggies I had packed later on in the trip.

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I had a layover in Chicago (got delayed by about an hour as we always do there), and then finally arrived in Cincy around 9:30 pm. My mom picked up me and Pete- who arrived exact same time I did since he was delayed too- (love when that works out) & we headed to the cutest little Airbnb. Even after the long day of travel, I felt so wired. No matter what, I can never sleep the first night I change time zones. I read my book most of the night while occasionally thinking just mayyyybe I could fall asleep, but then 20 mins later of trying to snooze I’d just started reading again. I think I finally fell asleep around 6:30 am and maybe got an hour or hour and half of sleep total. Hello, insomnia. When I was in India I don’t think I slept for three days straight- time change and jet lag just really messes me the heck up.

On the morning of May 3rd, my mom so kindly went out and got us all coffee (BLESS HER). And y’allll this joe from Deeper Roots Coffee (a non for profit coffee company), was one of the best cafe au laits I’ve ever had. You know that super smooth first sip that just hits your soul? Every sip of this was just like that 😍 After chugging that down I felt like I was ready to face the day!

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Here is me, the beautiful smarty pants, and my momma! We got a picture before the humidity attacked. (And man did it attack! Lol).

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Aaaand guess where we were able to go to breakfast before graduation?! First Watch!!! This was my favorite breakfast spot before moving to CA, and I stinkin’ miss it! I was stoked when Hal suggested we go. Also, we saw this sign driving in– best billboard ever!

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We deemed it our Mother’s Day brunch since we wouldn’t be able to celebrate on the day of. We have grown so flexible with holidays over the years and it’s become fun to celebrate on our own watch! When you don’t have expectations, you can’t become frustrated- so we never set expectations and learn to “be like Gumby” as my mom has always reminded us growing up. The idea is to go with the flow when you can’t control things or make them fit into a certain peg & you’ll avoid a lot of frustration. The best of memories sometimes come in spontaneity and the originality of an experience (such as celebrating holidays on “non” holiday days 😉 ).

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Coming out of my contemplative dialogue- I see First Watch has added dairy free creamer! That’s fun!

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The boys split a platter of their million dollar bacon. I couldn’t help but capture the beautifully plated strips.