Friday Favorites #16! + An exciting update :)

Hey Everyone! TGIFF! Thank Goodness it’s Friday Favorites! Sometimes on a pretty uneventful week I like to include the updates/highlights in a Friday Faves post. Also, Autumn seems to be the time of year when my creative juices (especially in the kitchen dept.) start flowing. I don’t know if it’s the fact that it’s a new season or what, but I always feel the urge to turn over a new leaf 😉

#1. Ezekiel toast with Fage & low sugar strawberry jam mixed/dried apricots/walnuts/stevia. It’s no secret I love my yogurt toast, but I got the idea to mix the yogurt with jam from Kori, and it. is. life. changing.

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#2. Kodiak Power Waffles. I have heard people rave about this brand, but it actually took DJ suggesting trying them out to pull the trigger. They are excellent little waffles! I topped them this morning with Fage, syrup, and vegan chocolate chips before a long run. I can’t wait to try the pancakes next.

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#3. Blooms. Nough’ said!

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#4. Chloe’s Pops. Is there anything better than a fudgesicle? Take that childhood nostalgia and indulge in this yumminess! This week I have been loving one after dinner as a little sweet treat.

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#5: Baked By Melissa. For DJ’s birthday, we got this little sweet treat in the mail from my mom-in-law!!! These are my FAVORITE cupcakes in the world- and although sent for DJ’s bday, he let me snag a few of course 😉 #happywifehappylife. The chocolate chip cookie dough is probably my favorite- but they are all terrific. They are based in NYC if you are ever there- but they make a wonderful gift too!

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#6. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. This show is a hoot and a stinkin’ half. I love it. I’ve only watched the first season, but I blew through it in about a week while writing discussion boards for grad school. I don’t typically like watching comedies alone, but this one is just gold. A must. Also, shoutout to Rach for the suggestion!

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#7: THRILLIST. If y’all don’t use Thrillist, ya neeeeds ta! I love this site. It gives an excellent list of all the great travel, food options, recipes, etc. I particularly love it to find the best food spots around here. I consulted this list big time to make my bucket list too. I get e-mails each week of “must try” restaurants and up and coming spots.

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#8. This Garlic Chicken Cheddar Recipe. This is more like a DJ Friday Fave! I haven’t tried this myself, but DJ loved it. I usually make big meals for him for the week that will last a few days, and this was a hit. Plus it smelled phenomenal while cooking. I also added a drizzle of ranch because I felt it would complement the flavors well (and everything is better with ranch).

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#9. VASANTI. This is the BEST face wash/exfoliating cleanser I have ever tried! It was in my FabFitFun box, and boy oh boy am I glad! My skin has never been better.

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#10. Dancing with Stars. DJ always cracks up at me watching this show because I watch it with the goofiest smile, just happy as a clam, and sometimes I can’t help but try to get up and dance the darn Fox Trot with um’! (what an awful sight to see, lol!). It is the epitome of a feel-good show.. this is the first time I have watched it in two years (motivated by Grocery Store Joe, of course), and I love every second. I so look forward to it every week!. Anyone else watch? I’d love to chat 🙂

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#11. And a bonus Friday Fave….OUR UPSTAIR NEIGHBORS ARE MOVING OUT!!!! YES, you heard (read?) right! So, I talked to one of the ladies from the management team a couple days ago. She said basically they asked our neighbors to move due to the noise, offered them a spot on the second floor (not above anyone else), and they said they were happy to accept because they hate the apartment they are in anyways. WOOHOO! Thank you, Jesus. I cried when she told me I was so happy. The first words I said were, “WHAT! I can sleep again!!!” and gave her an obnoxiously big hug. Thanks y’all for your encouragement and convos with this whole fiasco. They are still here but will be out in the next couple weeks. They are currently vacuuming at 10:45 pm, but I don’t even care because they almost GONE! Boy (and girl), BYE!

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xo <3

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**There are affiliate links in this post, but only products I 100% stand by and support. All opinions are my own, and I’d never lead ya astray 😉 **

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A Foxy Pup, an Ice Cream Battle, & Recyclops!

Hi, Lovies!!! I don’t have a super eventful update— but as always, I want to reflect on the hum drum and find the highlights, you know, find those doggone silver linings (they are there, I promise!). First, I am SO excited to say I have officially submitted my first grad school application. It was a DOOZY. It’s (maybe) my first choice, but I am very confused about the whole decision. I’m applying to schools across the country (and many online schools that pair you with a nearby hospital). I just pray that God will make it clear where we should be. I love California; I love it so dearly, and I love our life here. But we also LOVE exploration  and when else will we have this flexibility to just get up and go (cough cough… kids…..), so who knows… but I don’t know that we can imagine leaving here yet. I don’t know! I guess we will see! Nothing will happen until next fall, so I’m hoping all things will just fall in place the way they should.

Just a little context, I’m sitting here this Sunday evening with my mint chocolate chip ice cream, a glass of cabernet sauvignon, and NYC Housewives playing on the laptop (Uhm, Aviva- take a chill pill girlfran’). I don’t have the GRE or November application deadline hanging over my head (although I have about three more coming up in November- March), but for today, we will relish in the moment. DJ has the World Series playing in the background, and things feel actually OK at this second.

I think we left off right after the GRE. I went back to work for a few days, and DJ headed to Ohio! I wish I could have went back, but work owns me. I am thankful he had such a fantastic weekend with his family, but I am honestly a bit jealous because I miss them all terribly.

On Saturday, October 21st, my dear fran Sara, (you may remember this chica from here, here, and here), stopped by to hangout and catch up while DJ was spending his last day in Ohio. We decided to go to Steins for an appetizer and a drink to catch up!

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The waiter brought us the cutest little mini beer mugs to try their featured sour flavor. It was cute, but wayyy too sour for our liking. Plus neither of us are big beer guys.

We tried a recommended featured cocktail with capurro pisco (not sure what that is), but it ruined the flavor. We were not fans of this cocktail. However, their beer garden cooler was delish and refreshing. Highly recommend if you end up finding yourself here.

Also, highly, HIGHLY recommend their truffle fries- TO. DIE. FOR. Perhaps the best truffle fries ever. I think the only other ones that contest were the ones in Santa Cruz.

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ANNNDDD Sara surprised me with Foxy Lady (that’s literally her name) (you may remember her from this post). I was ecstatic. I just love this pup so much.

Sara cracks me up when she has Foxy do her dance.

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When Foxy wants her tummy scratched in the hallway, she will not take no for an answer.

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Cutest little pumpkin <3

We hung out, laughed, had an aggressive battle with a Talenti gelato mint chocolate chip pint (if you follow me on Instagram @ __mackenzie.marie__ you probably saw) and chatted until about 11 pm.

We literally wrestled with a Talenti container for probably twenty minutes. We tried EVERYTHING from knives, to rubber twist jar openers, and finally rubber oven mitts….it was a scene. Beware the Talenti.

Anywho, It was such nice, much needed girl time!!!

On Sunday October 22nd, I woke up bright eyed and bushy, but realized I didn’t have yogurt for my toast. I panicked, but no worries- there is a Target just down the road. I picked up my coffee mug (didn’t even bother putting it in a tumbler) and headed to Target to snag some yog. I know all the workers, considering I stop by there nearly every day, so they didn’t blink at me showing up disheveled with my half finished cup of coffee and zombie affect. It happens more than I probably should admit. After I was all caffeinated, I zoomed to pick Deej from the airport!

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When we came home, DJ had to whip off to work for a couple hours. When he came home, we decided we were in the mood for some lunchy brunchy food. We have been wanting to try out the local Bob Evans (Aka Holder’s Country Inn). It received great reviews on Yelp, and it sounded like the perfect Sunday afternoon meal.

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I had their veggie scramble with egg whites, peppers, mushrooms, salsa, and avocado. Every ingredient was immensely fresh and satisfied the craving to a tee.

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DJ tried their pancakes… now, if you follow along, DJ is on the hunt for the best pancake. So far the best ones we have found in the area are Bobbie’s. They have yet to top the Bellagio’s from Las Vegas, or his mom’s (DUH!).

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He also had the country fried steak with eggs. Doesn’t get more Bob Evans-ey than this, folks.

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After we returned home, I decided to take advantage of the glorious day and go for a nice jog outside.

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The leaves are changing, the colors are vibrant, and the weather is finally cooling its jets (it has been ridiculously hot here). When I came back home I whipped up my new absolute favorite meal. I was going to wait until a Friday Faves, but I can’t. It’s too good!

My all time favorite potato is the sweet purple white potato (purple outside, white inside). It actually has more antioxidants than a regular orange sweet potato, and I swear tastes better. You can find different varieties- some have a white colored inside, and some have a vibrant purple.

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I stir fry together white onion, mushrooms, Lightlife tempeh, and eggplant with liquid aminos.

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Once it’s all caramelized and the sweet potato is cooked to tenderness, I stuff the tater! So easy, so absolutely delicious, satisfying, and high in protein/complex carbs.

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And the caprese salads are still going strong for DJ!

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He and I have not been able to do many of the “fall activities” this year ( cue melancholy soundtrack), but I have been listening to a plethora of crime podcasts, have eaten an embarrassing amount of candy corn, and we watched Cropsey together on Amazon prime over the course of a few days. SOooOOO sort of taking advantage, yah?

I even found this wine to accompany the documentary  because it seemed appropro. DJ always laughs at how excited I get about the “idea” of something.. I like things to be themed, anyone else feel meh?! Why just watch a crime documentary when you can watch a crime documentary with CRIME wine on the heels of listening to crime podcasts in the midst of Halloween hype?! PS. Documentary was tremendous.

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And I mean these socks are basically me after a couple shifts so… had to invest..

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We both worked Monday October 23rd, but the 24th I picked up my bridesmaid dress for the November wedding (EEEK!!!!), and then later in the day grabbed a massage (much needed). There was a $30 off coupon online for a super nice salon in Sunnyvale. I jumped on it, and enjoyed every stinking second of that massage.

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After the massage, I stopped by Safeway to pick up my Ice Cream (Oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough….. it says limited edition but I’m convinced I am keeping them single-handedly in stock). I also stumbled upon this RXBar. Mint chocolate chip you say?!? Yesss sirrr-eeeee.

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I still prefer the Chocolate sea salt, but I see they now have pumpkin and maple. Uhm, yuhm. I need to hunt those down!

On Wednesday, the 25th, and Thursday the 26th, I buckled down on my application. I spent the full days slaving over that booger. It was in-stinking-tense. I definitely needed a break to clear my head… this called for an extra long run, which turned into an impromptu half marathon. #procrastinationnation.

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And on the heels of any long run, candy corn is EXTRA necessary.

Later in the day I stocked up on groceries for the next few days from Sprouts Farmers Market. This is one of my favorite grocery stores around.

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^^This is as close as I got to a pumpkin patch this year.

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In the evening, I decided I needed some sushh. It has been a hot minute!!! I went for my go-to sunset roll with unagi, ahi tuna, and lemon with a side of wakame salad and extra ginger.

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I worked Friday and Saturday. Friday morning was bad, bad, bad. BAD BADDDDD. First, I was out of coffeee (nough said, right?). I drove to work early so I could make a cup, and when I checked my phone, it said my time off request for the wedding the end of November was NOT approved. A few months ago I had a face to face conversation with my manager confirming that it wouldn’t be a problem. So now.. I panicked, the anxiety set in, I couldn’t see straight. I started bawling in the bathroom before my shift. I quickly messaged her explaining I had already bought the plane ticket and told the Bride I could be in the wedding based on our conversation. I spent the whole morning sick to my stomach, holding back tears, and gritting my teeth through my assignments. Halfway through the day she e-mailed back saying it was approved, she just had to go back and adjust the way it was formatted in our system. I have never been so relieved. I cried again— tears of relief. I was a MESS. I would not have made it through the morning without the support from my family who sent scripture and prayed over the situation when I frantically filled them in before the shift began. Thank you Jesus for answering that prayer. I still take deep breaths just thinking about it.

But on a much brighter note….. .on Saturday the 21st, DJ headed to his family’s for a costume party. I was bummin’ I missed it this year. You can check out the post from last year if you would like 😉 Our costumes were certainly something! Haha. This year DJ was Recyclops from the Office! He nailed it. The rest of the family’s costumes were amazing too. I wish I could have been there to see them in person!!

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Sunday (the 22nd) I accidentally slept in wayyyyy too late after working all weekend. Whoops. I can’t interact with anyone the day after working a few in a row and my body cannot physically function. I get in a fuzzy funk from the exhaustion and move the pace of a sloth. I decided to wake up my body with a run before finishing up my application.

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It was perfectly brisk, with cloudy skies, and the weather finally exuded those autumnal feelz <3 I love LOVE cloudy Sundays. Sundays in the fall are the ultimate relaxing day after Church, naps, football, and candles. A cloudy day just enhances the whole experience and I feel like “gives me permission” to be lazy.

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One of the houses along my run had a little garden out front and was growing butternut squash(es), squash? I think just squash. Can you say #GOALS?!

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I also saw this beautiful flower and couldn’t help but snag a picture. Is it weird that I thought of a Punnett square when I saw the unusual distribution of colors?! I will always be a bio nerd at heart.

For dinner, we tried the Daiya vegan Margherita pizza. Not only does DJ love the Vegan burgers, but now is on board with the vegan pizza. He said it was easily just as tasty as a regular one.

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And that’s a wrap! As I finish up this post, it’s actually morning now, I am sipping coffee, eating a protein bar and my toast, and for the first time in a LONG time I don’t have something hanging over my head for the day. I am gonna finish up my breakfast, go for a run, answer some blog comments, and read Harry Potter until my eyeballs fall out. Woohooo!!!!!

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xo <3

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Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

It is OFFICIALLY football season- which means Monday night football in this house. I like these nights for what they connote:  the general white noise,  the relaxing environment that naturally ensues around a football game being broadcast from the TV on a chilly day, and the excuse to bake a million pumpkin-based desserts. To DJ it takes on a totally different meaning, but to us both it’s a wonderful time! Last year I made him hotdogs/chicken-wings/fries/burgers every single football Monday until he noticed that scale budging up a bit 😉 I told him I would health it up, so now I make a few substitutions that he loves! They certainly have a strangely addictive quality about them.

Without further adieu, here are Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

Grocery List:

  • 1/2 Head of Cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup Fage yogurt (or any plain nonfat greek)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1.5 TBSP of light butter of choice (Earth balance for vegans or olive oil based butter) 
  • Hot sauce of choice (Frank’s is best!)
  • Ranch seasoning of choice (or a small mixture of dill, parsley, onion powder, and garlic powder)
  • Red chili flakes (optional)

Directions:

  • Line a baking pan with foil
  • Preheat oven to 425 F
  • Wash and cut cauliflower florets into hearty lengthwise slices
  • Sprinkle Ranch seasoning over cauliflower florets
  • Mince garlic
  • In a sauce pan, add 1/2 TBSP of butter over medium-high heat
  • Add garlic and sautee until it is fragrant and translucent
  • Lower to medium heat, Add cauliflower and 1 TBSP of butter (add more if needed)
  • Stir until butter is distributed evenly
  • Add about 1 TBSP hot sauce among the cauliflower (or sprinkle until cauliflower has a nice light-red color)
  • Stir until hot sauce is evenly distributed
  • Add to foil-lined pan
  • Sprinkle chili flakes lightly over the cauliflower if desired 
  • Put in the oven for about 20-35 minutes, turning once, until cauliflower is tender and  crispy. I like to leave them in until a few florets have a very slight burnt appearance on the edges. **All ovens cook differently

For Dip:

  • Put 1/3 cup of Fage or plain greek yogurt of choice in a bowl
  • Add 1/2 TBSP of hot sauce
  • Add a sprinkle of ranch seasoning (I like adding the dill, parsley, garlic and onion powder mixture to taste).
  • Stir together until a nice light red color (add more hot sauce to taste)

*For a teensy bit less healthy version: Some may opt to dip the florets in flour and milk before baking and adding the butter/hot sauce mixture after. DJ likes using plain ranch dressing sometimes too. I prefer the hot sauce dip!

Nutrition for the batch (including dip!): *using Smart Balance Olive oil butter

Calories: 234

Protein: 15g

Carbs: 24g

Fiber: 10g

Sugar: 13g

Fat: 11g (all the good kinds 😜)

Enjoy!

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Wishing you a winning season (unless you cheer for someone besides the Browns!)

xo <3

Mack