Fort Worth, TX Recap!

Hey Ya’ll! Long time no chat! I am so behind on these posts, comments, everyyything- so I apologize but I will get caught up very soon 🙂 I have so many good memories to record and share. I am taking us wayyy back in time to December 15th when I arrived in Fort Worth, Texas. My mom and step dad, Pete, live there and my sister, Halston, flew in as well. DJ had to stay in Cali for work! I already recapped San Antonio, which was a weekend trip, so this post is the bookends of that weekend!

Thursday (12/15)

I woke up in the morning sick as a dog. I definitely caught whatever had been going around. DJ took me to the airport, and we realized this would be the longest we would be apart since we got married. Anyway, I comically lugged my three suitcases through the airport, unable to keep them stacked in a way that I could physically move them in unison. I’d go five steps then *flop* the one would topple over, another five steps then *flop*- I continued dropping the luggage every few feet and certainly was someone’s entertainment for the day. I honestly didn’t care, I just wanted to get through security to my darn gate. I handed off my checked luggage and was finally free from the luggage juggling circus act. Once through security, I started craving soup more than I can ever remember in my whole life. The chills were pretty bad. I walked through the airport strip and had about given up on finding soup and instead started hunting down my gate. When I was close to my gate I saw the San Francisco Soup Company and was never so ecstatic to see a soup place in all my years.

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I ordered their summer corn chowder and it hit.the. spot. It took that achy chill out of my bones and made the rest of the wait bearable!

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On the flight I read the latest issue of the American Journal of Nursing, wrote some Christmas cards, and used the tray table as a pillow. What do you guys do on flights?

After I landed, my family and I exchanged hugs and “Ah! I don’t want to get you sick”(s) and “I don’t care!”(s), then hit the road to head to Keller (a suburb of Fort Worth). On the way we stopped by the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX. My sister’s boyfriend, Kevin, was there for one more night and we said he couldn’t leave without seeing this place. It’s quite the spectacle! It’s one large hotel, but they deck it all out for Christmas. You know the saying, “Everything is bigger in Texas”? I’m pretty sure that originated with this hotel. It’s worth a quick walk through if you are ever in the area!

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Cuties!!!! (I was out of commission for pictures; I basically looked like a walking zombie).

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They have an imitation San Antonio Riverwalk on the lower level. It’s even completed with Mexican restaurants all around it. How cool is that!??!

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Once home, I was greeted by my puppy, Jade, that I haven’t seen in so long.

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On Friday (12/16) Kevin left (sad day!), and I had my hair did (insert hand flip emoji) at a Lemongrass Salon by Aveda while my mom and sister shopped. I accidentally missed my appointment that I had scheduled in California (I thought it was 1 but it was 11), so my mom graciously helped me schedule this one. I still was not feeling 100%, so it was a good day to knock this out. Getting your head massaged and roots covered is a sure fire way to make a girl feel better 😉 I swear by Aveda salons for a good blonde!

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Friday night mama Jill whipped up a delicious dinner!!! It was cauliflower Arancini via GreenChef, and we loved it! However, we both agree after using both services that Blue Apron is still the better of the two.

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I liked using the leftover cauliflower bites to dip in hummus. They were even better the next day.

That night we went to the movies. I LOVE the movie theaters with the Cafe and Bar areas. We watched Collateral Beauty. I thought it was just OK, but the rest of my family loved it. Either way it was great family time and sparked good conversation. I won’t give a full synopsis- but if anyone has seen it I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Saturday morning (12/17) We left first thing in the morning for San Antonio!!!!!!!! You can read all about our Saturday morning to Sunday evening here.

Monday (12/18) was a chilllllllll day filled with sleeping in, a workout at the local recreation center with my mama, baking Christmas cookies, and sushi for dinner. A perfect day if there ever was any! The last couple times we have been in Fort Worth have been pretty tourist packed, so we decided to take it easy this round and just relax- a word that isn’t really in my vocab too often.

At breakfast, the little stinker put on her sweet begging face. Sorry, Charlie, I like my toast too doggone much to share.

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Christmas Bakin’! I wish I could take credit for any of this, but Mama Jill was the baking wizard all the way. Her coconut macaroons are the BOMB (they are the white morsels). And there is truly something about homemade rice krispy treats!

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Tons of sushi from Kroger with seaweed salad and asian thai salad was on the agenda for dinner. (I know grocery store sushi may not sound super appealing, but I have never been disappointed!).

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After sushi, we went over some family friends’. I met them last spring when I was in town and had a ball with them. I couldn’t wait to hang out again. Their house is the most festively decorated home I have ever seen. I think the said they have eighteen Christmas trees total? Each one is decorated with a specific ornament theme. For example, they have a Christmas tree with only shoe ornaments, another with only wine bottle ornaments, another with only santa ornaments, etc.; it was an actual winter wonderland.

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She has no idea I snapped this, but I snuck a picture of this classy lady!

Also we had carolers stop by, and they were the most precious two little girls in the world.

Tuesday (12/20)

This was lounge day round two! We watched Netflix, home videos, Hulu, and grazed all day long.

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My family hasn’t let me live this clip down for years. This is Halston and I. I was NOT a nice big sister!!! Sorry, Hal!!! Thanks for not holding this against me. Love u!

Here is a picture of my mama’s homemade guac that I mentioned in the San Antonio post!

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For dinner she made roasted onion, butternut squash, brussel sprouts, and cranberries with a maple glaze. YUM!

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Every single night us three girls hot-tubbed, chatted, and sipped on wine. It was perfection. Pete was so sweet to encourage us to have our girl time.

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The neighbors next-door just had a baby, so we dog-sat a couple times in the evenings for them to lighten their load. This video makes me belly laugh every time I watch it. It is of one of the dogs (the most lovable Pitbull in the world) thoroughly enjoying a tummy rub. Yes- that is a dog making that noise. My mom at the end of the video goes, “Why are you crying, Buster?!” *That’s the dog’s name 😉

Wednesday (12/21)

Halston, my mom, and I woke up and did Insanity in the living room. All ya’ gotta do is move a few couches out of the way and you’ve got a nice gym!!

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Followed by shenanigans.

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Jadey baby didn’t feel up for the workout. Also- what a stinking diva. She literally has her bed on the bed. Spoiled pup, I tell ya what.

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After our big family workout, we went to brunch at Another Broken Egg Cafe per my stepdad’s suggestion. I think I thanked him at least ten times for suggesting this place, because it was one of the BEST brunchy places ever. Ugh, I say that every time, but I do mean it!

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They had such a uniquely delicious selection of food, and their coffee was served in handcrafted stone mugs. Doesn’t get much better than that.

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My mom and Pete said we needed to try the Beignet doughnuts. These are like the best-donuts-you’ve-ever-had and then some. SO. GOOOD. And they are served with a honey marmalade. I donut know how I have gone my whole life without them. And I donut know how I have gone so long without making an awful pun. You’re welcome.

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Us girlies tried the skinny omelette which had herbed egg whites with blanched asparagus, roasted red peppers, green onions, goat cheese and roasted garlic cloves with an english muffin and a fruit dish. They seasoned it with the most palatable herbs!!!! My mom and I placed our bets on what they were, and we actually nailed it! Thyme, rosemary, and parsley. If you’ve never tried that on an omelette, DO IT! It’s extraordinary, or shall I say “Egg-straordinary”! Ok, ok, I’m done now 😉

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Pete chose the lemon ricotta pancakes. He graciously offered us all a bite, and obviously I graciously accepted a big ole’ one. My sister gets mad because she says when I “try” something, I end up eating half of it. But, hey, tomat-oh, tomah-toe. You say “try”, I hear “sample half the plate”. Anyways, these were lemony ricotta-ey pancakey perfection.

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Wednesday night we had the Candlelight celebration at church. It worked out perfectly because this was our “faux” Christmas Eve. Although we couldn’t celebrate actual Christmas day all together, the fact that we could go to this candlelight service definitely made it feel like a true Christmas Eve celebration. It was moving, and I love seeing the sanctuary lit up by candlelight.

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When we came home we had apps while we finished up cooking dinner! The cheese was a mix of vegan and regular. I truly could not tell the difference between which one was vegan and which one was not. Usually good vegan cheeses are hard to come by, but this stuff was a facsimile; it blew my mind! We could not get enough!

Fun tip: If you need a fancy, yet incredibly easy, appetizer- try doing pita crackers + hummus + roasted red pepper + roasted onion + a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

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Although DJ wasn’t able to actually be with us, we still hung his stocking!!!

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It was nice to sit around and enjoy our apps around the gorgeous tree. It’s these moments that define the word “content” for me.

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Dinner started with goat cheese “croutons” atop a salad with pears, pecans, and mixed greens. THIS. This is going to be a tradition.

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Momma made ribs for Pete… yes, that whole thing was for Pete considering none of us eat meat. LOL. The girls had a sesame crusted tuna. I forgot to take a picture because I was a bit ravenous!

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Dessert followed with my mom’s marveeeeelous Christmas cookies and my step dad’s famous pumpkin crunch which I am beyond bummed that I don’t have a picture of. We gobbled that thing up so quick! It’s one of our favorite parts of Christmas. It’s truly something I look forward to year round.

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We ended the night with a dip in the hot-tub per usual.

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On Thursday (11/22) we had our “faux” Christmas Day!!!!! It was a magical morning followed by a breakfast of eggs, toast, and BEER JELLY! I found these on UncommonGoods for Pete. We had fun sampling all of them! Uncommon Goods is an AMAZING site for unique gifts for the family. I find most of my gifts here each year!

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Annnnnd my stocking, as well as Halston’s, was stocked with five gum, NO COW bars (lemon meringue- the best), and Quest bars. We may have a bit of an obsession to say the least…

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After opening gifts and having breakfast, I went for a nice long run. Unfortunately, the sun didn’t want to peak through too much, but it was still enjoyable. I lived in Texas in the Summer of 2015 before traveling to India, so the familiarity feels like home, even down to the running trails.

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In the afternoon I ran a couple errands with Mama Jill

You know you are in Texas when…

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That afternoon we had apps round two!

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For our “Christmas day” dinner, we started with pear salads with goat cheese, toasted almonds, cranberries, and mixed greens. I made my cauliflower mashed potatoes! I promise I will post those at some point! They were a big hit.

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We also had stuffed vegan acorn squash with fresh cranberries!

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My mom also made regular meatballs for Pete

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And we cannot forget my most favorite dish of the season: Sweet potato praline . YUHHHHMMM.

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And what is any holiday meal without green bean casserole? She made it healthier too by substituting the cream of mushroom for light and low sodium. We could not even tell the difference!

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This perfect Christmas dinner was followed by more hot tub & wine!

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Friday (11/23) I woke up early to go to the local recreation center in Keller to get a workout in before getting ready to head to the airport. My sister had a different flight than me (a much earlier one), so she was landing in Ohio as I was taking off. This is how I caught up on reading everyone else’s blogs from the week! People probably think I’m such a crazy ellipticallyng (spelling?) with a laptop, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do!

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When my mom got back from the airport, I finished packing up and then we decided we had time for one last lunch before heading out. She recommended a favorite of her’s and Pete’s in town, Devivo Bros. Eatery. It is considered rustic comfort food, but has an Italian flare! So essentially all the good things..

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We split the Kale salad with fresh kale, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, crispy tortilla strips and candied almonds tossed in a jalapeño ranch dressing as well as the white bean tomato basil soup.

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It all hit the spot perfectly, and I was so thankful for this small chunk of time we could treasure before my flight.

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Isn’t she darling?!

Time to head back to OH-IO.
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I will recap that soon! Since DJ couldn’t join us on our fort worth adventures this year I figured why not include a few from last year?!? 🙂

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This is from when we visited the Fort Worth Stockyards. Such a fun place if you ever get the chance! Next time I go back to Fort Worth I am going to do a travel post about them.

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And a trip wouldn’t have been complete without absurd amounts of sushi.

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Thanks for hanging in there with me through this crazy long post!

I will do a quick holiday post recap once I am back 🙂 DJ and I have are currently waiting for our 6 am flight and have been up since 3 am! EEEK!

Wishing you a very Happy New Year,

xo <3

Mack

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A Mountain Lion Scare and Food with Flare

****** WARNING: An asinine amount of food pictures to follow. Ya’ll have your snacks ready? Ok, good. Let’s goooo!**********

Woah now, put on the breaks there! Getting ahead of myself..First,  I want to thank TheHangryRunner for the nomination for the Mystery Blogger award. It’s so hard for me to find time to write a post to respond, but the nomination means so much!

Okay, off we go now 🙂

Our Aunt and Uncle on DJ’s side came in town Thursday. My side was here a couple weeks ago! Just in case anyone was momentarily confused. We have been excited to see them as they live in Ohio and the last time we saw them was in April! Fun side note: Our Aunt actually published a humorous, high-energy book series. I know I have a few writers that follow this blog, so I’ve provided the link to her blog page to check them out if interested 🙂 Highly entertaining and relatable!

When they arrived they gave us an incredible gift. This is one of those times that I was reminded that, yes, we live in the twenty-first century where technology is just INSANE. Allow me to present a smart pan called Pantelligent. Yes- you heard me right. A SMART PAN. It has a temperature sensor in the actual pan body and connects to an app on your phone. You tell the app what you are cooking, and it reads the pan, telling you what temperature to set the pan to, when to flip the food, when to turn up the heat or turn it down, etc. Mind blown.

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We had some champagne, toasting to family and new adventures. We showed them around our place and Main Street and noticed it was just about dinner time. Naturally, whenever we have visitors who are sushi fans we have to take them to Yuki. It’s such a hole in the wall place, but the fact that you have to wait so long for a table even on a week night exemplifies this is the best sushi around. Yes- to all my girlfrans who are sushi lovers, come visit me here and we WILL go to this place.

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After dinner, we parted ways for the evening. Around 9:45 we got a knock on the door. I had met our neighbors that just moved in the day before and we did the casual “Come by if you need anything!” I definitely meant it, but was surprised how quickly they took us up on it! Sure enough, 9:45 pm on a Thursday night, stopping by to “borrow” lettuce… when we have a grocery target across the street that’s open till midnight. We happily gave them lettuce, but it was hilarious. Last night they came by for cilantro. We are taking bets on what they are gonna swing by for next!

Now for a wild story. Allow me to tell you about one of the scariest moments in my ENTIRE life…And I thought Halloween was over.

Friday I decided I wanted to run to the top of my favorite trail running mountain. It seemed like a great challenge. It’s about four miles inclined up, and at certain points you can feel pretty isolated, especially in the woods. I have been running on my own since I was like two years old, so I usually don’t usually feel too nervous on tucked away trails. I can certainly be naive… I realize. I trotted happily ? exhaustively ? happily exhaustively taking in the spectacular view, the inviting winding path. My legs burned something fierce trudging up that incline, but I wanted to make it to the top with every ounce of my being.  I was running through the last section of forest and foliage, then the top of the mountain came into view. I felt a renewed energy and pushed to get to the top.

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The beginning of the last stretch
When I was only maybe 100 feet from my destination, I heard the most terrifying noise. A big ole’ angry cat snarl. . The kind of sound you would hear on the Animal Planet. It sounded like the creature was up the hill next to me and close. I didn’t want to look.  I had one of those moments where I just froze. The fright turned to flight, hello sympathetic nervous system! I turned around and booked it down the mountain. (Which is the exact opposite of what you are supposed to do if you encounter a mountain lion, mind you). I have never run so fast in my entire life.

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Another thing about mountain lions is they stalk their prey. So even when I felt I was away from the area I heard the snarl, I still didn’t feel at ease. I was praying incessantly and imaging the headlines in tomorrows paper, “Woman, Only Twenty-Two, became Mountain Lion’s Dinner” “Never run away from a Mountain Lion: Deadly Attack when Woman loses her Common Sense and Her Life”. I would be featured on the TV show 1000 Ways to Die, and I would forever go down on the Wiki page of the handful of recorded mountain lion attacks in North America.

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You guys know I’m one for the dram’, and to be honest none of that was going through my head, besides begging God to get me back to safety and to make my legs go faster. 

A little over a half mile down I saw a woman hiking up the path. Hallelujah, praise Him above. I have never been so relieved to see another human being. I ran up to her out of breath and shaking tremendously. I didn’t realize just how scared I was until I tried to speak and nothing came out. Finally, I calmed down and just repeated, “Mountain lion” over and over and pointed up the hill. First she asked if I actually saw it and I shook my head. Then she calmly explained that she has lived in this area for 47 years and has hiked this trail for 16 without ever seeing a mountain lion. She assured me that it was probably a harmless bobcat.

I explained how I was so frustrated I was that close to the top but just didn’t quite make it. She helped convince me that I had nothing to worry about if I wanted to attempt the mission again. Well now, I certainly didn’t want to call it quits. She continued to assure me that I was safe and that she was right behind me if anything were to happen. I know it’s crazy that I even contemplated going back, but in the moment my pride was blinding me. K? I ran without thinking, to the top, snagged a few pictures, and then descended that mountain quicker than I probably would have in any other situation. I don’t think I will ever do that trail alone again, at least not without some kind of bear spray (works for the lions too).

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Here is proof that the mountain-lion-bob-cat didn’t get me. Also, I never have a good hair and makeup day at the same time. I had to record the anomaly.

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 Since our Aunt and Uncle were still in town on Friday, we planned to have dinner at the GREATEST RESTAURANT in San Francisco. Say Whaa? The best in all of SanFran? What is this place? It is called *dramatic hand twirl* Farallon. Located in Union Square, it’s known for featuring exquisite costal cuisine; aka this pesca’s dream come true. DJ and I (and mama bear) sampled food from Farallon when we went to the Eat Drink SanFran event, and knew this was a place we would have to venture to at some point. I was ecstatic when our Aunt and Uncle suggested it.

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This was easily the most unique and impressively themed restaurant I have ever seen. Like I said, it’s known for it’s seafood, and everything about the restaurant created the illusion that you were in an underwater oasis. There were actual jellyfish fixtures that hung from the ceiling. JELLYFISH CHANDELIERS, GUYS. The seats were designed so you felt like you were sitting in a pink velvet shell. The walls were a marine teal and lined to illustrate coral in certain areas. The restaurant mastered the art of creating a high-end, luxurious and classy underwater sanctuary.

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Our Aunt and Uncle encouraged me to take pictures, I obliged without a fuss, because ya’ll know I like those food pics 😉

First we started with caviar. I have never had it, and neither had DJ (or at least it’s been a while). It was so full of bursting umami flavor and the chives, onions, and light cream sauce just caused a flavor explosion in my mouth. I understand why people revere caviar as such a treat!

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We decided to do the tasting menu because what better way to make your way around the delicacies?!

We started with a local halibut crudo with basil oil, serrano chili & crisp shallots over grilled moon drop grapes. We raved about how the flavors complimented each other perfectly.

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Next we had pan roasted sole with brussel sprouts, beurre rouge & dungeness crab. Holy Moly. This was definitely a crowd favorite for the evening. This dish rode the line between delicate and savory perfectly.

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Next up was the Gnocchi & Cayucos Abalone with rosemary butter, smoked trout roe, & aged balsamic. This. Thissss. I can’t even begin to describe the flavor. I will do it injustice no matter what I say!

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Next we had the Reichardt Farm Duck with cinderella pumpkin & chestnut chai. By this point we were getting pretty full, but had to try it. Even though I don’t eat meat, when something like this is placed in front of me there ain’t no way I’m passing it up. I tried a little bite and decided it tasted like steak. If you like steak, you would love this! My favorite part was the pumpkin. It reminded me of sweet potato puree and the chai butter was the perfect sweet touch.

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What?! There is more? You betchya. Below is a baked pear with vanilla ice cream, pomegranate seeds, and a delicious macadamia nut cookie. Move over Betty Crocker!

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The best part of the night wasn’t even the food. It was the treasured quality time with family and conversation about everything and anything. I send a big thanks to our Aunt and Uncle for allowing me to document this evening, and for making this unforgettable night happen. You guys spoiled us!!! xo

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DJ and I woke up with a craving for two things: Donuts and The Office. We started this Office/Donut tradition back in Indiana in our little townhouse. We would occasionally just spend a morning binging the office and eating delicious donuts from Poppy’s (the ONLY donut shop for miles). Now we have about ten fantastic options within a ten mile radius. Thank you, California. We always get a healthy amount, and I freeze whatever donuts we don’t eat. Not kidding- just throw them in the freezer, then when you get that craving, microwave um’ and they are good as new whenever you want! I like the Maple donuts, DJ likes plain glazed or cinnamon sugar. What are your favorites?

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Like I said, there are tons of highly rated donut shops near us, so we will definitely be making our ROUNDS, because they bring us a HOLE lot of joy. Just a little SPRINKLE of humor for ya.

Saturday night we met with friends from Church to try some authentic Ethiopian food. This place was about as authentic as it gets. I was so giddy when I stepped in and saw this little tikki hut. Anything tikki can put one in a good mood, Amirite?!

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We started with Sambusa, which reminded me of a Samosa from India. I would describe it like a spinach pie with lentils. DELISH, especially with whatever barbecue sauce this was.

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We had our food served to us on a silver platter. Literally. How great is that. We tried the meat and veggie sampler. Ethiopian food is the kind of thing you definitely do NOT want to try on a first date and no- you are NOT given silverware for the main course. They took away our forks. HA! You use the spongy Injera (pancake like substance) to scoop the food.

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We left so stuffed. The food was delicious and like nothing I have ever had. The injera was actually painless to use and scooped the food super easily. I would highly recommend it!

This place just opened up near us and we gave it a go Monday. I was planning on cooking, but I applied for my first nursing job Monday and had a massive headache after slaving over the application for about four hours. DJ suggested we try it out. Conclusion: We will be back!

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After completing that application I felt the need for some Halo Top. My two favorite flavors are the strawberry and birthday cake.. MMM mmm. This stuff has the health factor and taste factor dowwwn- low calorie (280 for the pint), high protein, and low fat. It is probably the best replica out there of real ice cream.

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Tuesday- I did something I have never done before! I made Tacos. Go ahead and laugh. I know it’s pretty unbelievable that I’ve never made them. I basically only cook bizarre things, remember?! I’ve made taco salad, “taco-like” options, and vegetarian wraps but never just plain Jane tacos. No worries, I did garnish it with cilantro to stay true to myself. #TACOTUESDAY, ya’ll. DJ has been craving them and I decided to try my hand at the little guys. I was shocked at how easy they were to make, and they made the house smell delicious. He said I nailed them. If you know me, there are very few compliments you can give me that are better than complimenting my cooking. For my meal, I made a garden salad with tons of veggies, pickled onions, pickled beets, beet hummus, vegan chicken strips, and balsamic vinegar.

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I won’t get all political because I know you guys have enough of that, but I hope you were all able to make it to the polls!

OHHH! Last thing- I finally posted my Healthy French Toast recipe. 🙂

Hope you guys are all doing well! Can’t wait to see my Ohio and Dallas fam in about a month! Counting down!

Wishing you a toasty week,

xo <3

Mack