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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Cavs Game & Hiking & A Giant Soft Pretzel!

Hey hey!! I have set aside this Saturday to put my feet up, make no plans, and catch up on blogging/editing pics from some foodie jobs. The baseball season just started for Deej, so unfortunately he’ll be MIA a whole bunch (He’s a marketing manager for a local team & when they’re in season, he works many days 7/8 am- 11 pmish). But I’m excited that this season is shorter for us this year since he’ll be done come July for the move!

Alright, well let’s playyyy ballllll!

Thursday April 4th, I woke up with some coffee, an avocado smoothie, and some oats with vegan chocolate chips.

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I tried to get some assignments turned in, then headed out for a walk to shake off the cobwebs. It looked like it was about to storm the whole time, but I was willing to risk it.

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In the evening I made some tilapia, quinoa, broccoli, & roasted eggplant.

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Friday, April 5th was the same to start the day, but then for lunch I had an open faced tuna sammy with mustard, onion, cabbage mix and almond mozzarella cheese. This was one of the we-are-down-to-the-bare-bones groceries- what can I make out of what we have left? This may be a contender for the usual lunch rotation! I made it for lunch for a couple days after this too.

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In the evening, we headed to the Cavs vs. Warriors game! On the way I ate a buddha bowl of quinoa, vegan crumbles, almond mozz cheese, cabbage mix, and green goddess dressing. I ate it cold since I made it earlier and packed it in a freezer bag to eat right before we went into the game (with traffic it would take 1.5 hours at least to get there). It was sooo delicious cold – I especially loved the “meat & cheese” cold like that. Gonna have to make this again.

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We have a good friend from home who plays on the Cavs, so we love seeing him play whenever he’s close to town. We got to catch up after the game a bit too! DJ made the game in Sacramento the night before, but I couldn’t tag along with the homework load.

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Deej got hungry during the game and grabbed some chicken tenders and fries. These fries were sooooo goooooood. I don’t know how they make them, but they were almost buttery & just crispy perfection.

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On Saturday April 6th I was craving that Toast from Trouble Cafe. Well, since driving over an hour plus rush hour wasn’t exactly practical, I tried to recreate my own. I actually made it more of a french toast to incorporate a little protein! I used Artesano bread, egg, and then topped with some vegan butter & tons of cinnamon. I did end up putting some delicious cinnamon vanilla syrup on too for good measure 🙂

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On my walk that day, the flowers seemed to have really bloomed over night!! My camera couldn’t even keep up with all the spectacular blooms!

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DJ had the evening off, so we were excited to spend the rest of the day together. Since the weather was so inviting we decided on a hike & dinner. Before the long drive to East Bay we stopped for gas. I grabbed some of this Air Heads gum just to see what it was all about- and it is actually quite tasty. The flavor doesn’t last long, but it was a fun find!

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Time to hike Sunol Regional Wilderness. There is a small $5 fee to enter, but there is plentiful parking (a big deal around here) & the hike is well worth it.

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Now lemme tell ya – sure, ya gotta keep an eye out for those mountain lions & rattlers (I know from experience), but what you really need to look out for are the massive cow pies. There is one about every couple feet!

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We just chose a random path and began our ascent. I don’t really care to look at maps, hence why I have gotten lost on paths more times than I can count. I like to think I have a great internal compass, but I think DJ would argue it’s just plain broken, hahah.

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I have always adored rolling hills- and this place was full of them. They are so calming to me & the expansive undulating green makes me want to frolic just all day long in um’. We could not get over how beautiful it all was.

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We even saw this cute little cactus patch. Not something you see everyday up here in NorCal!

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*Swoon*

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We were able to get up close to the grazing cows.

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^^ This guy was not too happy about it. Lol.

But happy happy campers we were.

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My favorite part of it all was just our conversation. Even though we’ve been together since 2010, I still love learning about DJ. I love picking his brain, hearing his thoughts/opinions/perspectives. Since life has been so busy we haven’t had much time to just chit-chat about everything, so it was treasured time.

After that hike we had worked up quite the appetite! We decided to go to BottleTaps which was right down the road to knock off a bucket list foodie item.

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Since it was such a lovely evening we decided to sit outside. Such a great, relaxing vibe. It reminded me a lot of the brewery we went to with my mom and Pete in Roanoke.

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They brought out their menus and their beers on tap were listed on an Ipad.

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We ordered some sour beers with their banquet pretzel board that came with prosciutto, sopressata, mortadella, manchego, gouda, smoked cheddar, mediterranean olives, and Mt. Hope almonds.

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The whole meal hit the spot! The cheese and mustard they served with the warm pretzel was just next level goudanessss. This is one of those times that I cannot put into words how tasty this was- you just have to try it out yourself 😉

After, we went to Cold Stone that was within the same plaza. I didn’t have much room, but naturally I knew DJ would let me have a few sips of his go-to—- the O’Fudge shake. These shakes are a bit nostalgic for us because we used to get them alllll the time when we first started dating. Also, I had a couple giftcards for Coldstone in my purse, and of course the one time I didn’t bring it along, we go to Coldstone, lol. Why does it always happen that way?! Oh well, gives us an excuse to go some other time!

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After, we returned home and watched Ozark until our eyes grew heavy. It was about near as perfect of a day as they come.

Questions for you:

  • Favorite type of sporting event to attend?
  • Milkshake or Ice cream for you? I used to be team milkshakes until about the middle of college then shifted to team ice cream!

xo <3

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Recent Eats Roundup!

Hello one & all! I can’t even start this post without first discussing a very important matter: Did you watch the Bachelor earlier this week?!? Hooooly smokes, that episode… I dare say it was the most dramatic episode I have ever seen (WTA was nuts too). Would love to hear your thoughts. Our jaws were on the floor in disbelief… and I actually kinda knew spoilers (they were so hard to avoid this season), but watching it play out was just … wowza.

So since our little Staycation in SF, it’s been pretty hum-drum with work, school work, and general life maintenance. This post basically highlights some our favorite things we’ve munched on the past couple weeks with little random tidbits sprinkled throughout.

I mentioned how I wasn’t feeling 100% going into our best SF weekend, but just ignored the bug creeping in. Wellll, although I survived our time in The City, when I woke up on February 17th, I felt like a train had hit me. I think I overdid it a bit, but still wouldn’t have changed anything! I was basically bed-bound for the day and watched church online. Also if you are interested in our church’s sermons you can find them here. For breakfast I was craving something warm & comforting- so I enjoyed a purple sweet potato with Fage, avocado, boca crumbles, vegan cheese, hummus, and tzatziki.

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On February 18th, aka Bachelor Monday, I woke up feeling much better. Not 100%, but definitely more like a human being. I started my day with oatmeal, blueberries, fage, protein powder, and a sprinkle of stevia.

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February 19th, we woke up to no water in our apartment. A HUGE main water line broke on the second floor of the building environmentally evicting everyone on that floor & shutting down businesses nearby 🙁 We ended up having no water for about three days. I have told people it was like experiencing our very own Fyre Festival. I had to make a couple trips to the local Target to stock up on gallons of water. Let me say, I have never been so thankful & relieved to take a full shower when the water came back on. I will never take a shower for granted again. On that morning I was craving a cafe au lait, so I went to the Starbucks located inside the Tarjay where I stocked up on some water.

This is a new one to add to the list, Cyra! “Nancy”… “Mackenzie”….. Same diff.

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When I got home I dumped my cup into an actual coffee mug to rewarm it- gotta have it pipin’ hot.  Also, I am back on my avocado smoothie kick . I paired this with some oats topped with granola. I love mixing these textures & flavors.

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One of my favorite snacks during the day was a brioche grilled cheese with TJ’s vegan cheese & tomato soup. Mmm. Since I still wasn’t totally up to par, this was a great little combo.

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In the evening I went to School of Leadership with my dinner packed in hand. I had to leave the house at 6 to get there by 7 because of traffic (even though it’s only 15 mins without). We are there till 9:30 ish so I had to make sure to pack my food.. otherwise my hangry Hyde would come out of hiding. No bueno.

On February 20th I woke up with the same avocado smoothie. Midday for a study break I concocted a snack of purple sweet potato, an over medium egg, hummus, more avocado with pink Himalayan sea salt and crushed red pepper.

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In order to clear my head in the afternoon I got a quick run in on the tread & lifted some weights. I’ve been doing short little 10 min lifting workouts every few days and am loving how much stronger I feel in general. It’s not much- only up to about 5- 12.5 lb. dumbbells, but it’s an improvement!

After, I threw together my trough salad with alll the whole garden, vegan crumbles, cheese, and tons of hummus.

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February 21st I baked us tilapia with brown rice and roasted zucchini with Koop’s Arizona heat all over it. That sauce is tooooo tasty. I know it’s a bit much to just slather the whole dish with it, but it’s that good & goes with everything.

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February 22nd was more Avo smoothie for breakfast and this time I topped it with some granola.

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So, here’s a picture of the second floor after the flood. They had to rip out the entire carpet and flooring. I feel awful for the people that live there.. our main elevators are broken because of it now too. Ugh, what a mess.

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Anywhoooo, that evening DJ and I decided on a little easy date night. There is a new spot that opened on Main Street in Cupertino that looked like a fun vibe. We decided to give it a go.

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We arrived around 6:30 pm, and basically had the whole place to ourselves. I loved the interior- I’d describe it as a chic sports bar.

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We weren’t planning on having a full dinner, just a drink & an appetizer. We shared a platter of their house potato chips & dip. Okay, I’m not a big potato chip person, but these were ridiculously yummy. That dip *insert drooling emoji*…. mmmmm!

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& It paired well with their beautiful paper crane martini. This was a tiny too sweet for my liking, but still good- I think most people would enjoy it. I just really don’t prefer mixed drinks- Every time I try to venture out I just end up wishing I’d ordered a simple glass of wine instead– they just taste “sticky” to me, lol. but hey, it was pretty!

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When we came home I made our dinner-dinner. For Deej: a Bubba Burger with french onion straws, gruyere cheese, and ketchup/mustard.

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For me: fish, roasted beets, roasted eggplant, and brown rice. I was on a kick of fish that week. Also, I’ve been using the original Mrs. Dash which has been a total game changer in seasoning. Although I still have to mix in my pink himalayan sea salt 😉

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February 23rd was a long study day. Then in the evening I made us another meal of tilapia, roasted zucchini, and brown rice.

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Sunday the 24th we went early to serve at Church- I loved this idea from hospitality team! Bahaha. Their puns are on point.

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For lunch I had some oatmeal with frozen raspberries, almonds, coffee protein powder, and Fage.

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DJ enjoyed an after-Church snack of a caprese salad with pita chips, hummus, and salsa con queso. The pita chips from TJ’s are perfectly salty, crunchy & versatile- they go with basically any dip.

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That evening I made DJ another burger & whaddya know I had fish with brown rice and tons of veggies (Don’t worry- I won’t post such a redundant shot).

804a889f-1177-4a12-ac22-e7b0f198d4bc February 25th I submitted a paper and took a big breath of relief. We were getting really low on groceries by this point, so time to get creative again. I mixed some cauli mashed potatoes with cottage cheese warmed up with black bean burger and hummus. Sounds a bit strange, but it was reallly savory and delicious.

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You know at some point tacos had to be in the mix! Caprese salads actually pair pretty well because they are so light & refreshing mixed with the spicy tacos.

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I had a stuffed sweet potato with about four egg whites with veggies, hummus, and cottage cheese (most of it is under the egg), and tabasco in lieu of tacos since I was out of boca meat. It was a surprisingly great combo.

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February 26th I baked up some of my PB & chocolate oatmeal protein bites to have with avocado smoothies in the mornings.

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In the evening we had our last school of leadership. I have officially completed the first session! There are three total. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do all three right now, but after a little break I may do #2 in a month…. we’ll see! I really enjoyed the first round & learned a ton.

In the morning of Wednesday the 27th I had to run to the store for a few items, and looked to my right greeted by a double rainbow. Not a bad way to start the day 🙂 There have been buckets upon buckets of rain here lately that I feel like I’ve seen more rainbows in a couple months than my entire life combined.

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After being cooped up with school all day, I was ecstatic to get out of the house and meet up with some dear friends from my nursing cohort. I decided to walk to Santana Row to clear my head (it’s about a four mile walk). We’d be finishing dinner when DJ left work, so he said he’d just pick me up since it’s right on the way home. On my way I saw this license plate…. ha! Love this person’s sense of humor.

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We met up at Pizza Antica again. You may remember the last time we met up back in September!

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I had the goat cheese and kale pizza… one of my favorite pizzas I’ve ever had. It was actually way better than the pizza I had last time I was here too. Their homemade crust is realllly well done.

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On Thursday the 27th, I was out of avocados, but I whipped up a dragonfruit bowl and had it with two protein bites.

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For a snack at some point I had a stuffed sweet potato with hummus, cottage cheese, and tomatoes.

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For DJ I put together two gyros with meat from TJ’s with vine ripened tomatoes and tzatziki sauce on fresh pita.

8248bf79-a6f3-4df6-a060-d717baf6f60a4d9f799c-36a8-4166-91f4-e1c4937c6ed3Friday morning of March 1st I did a HITT routine through Fitness Blender to start the day! In the evening I went to a food blogger event 🙂 Can’t wait to share that in another post.

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Question for you:

  • Are you on any food kicks lately?

xo <3

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A Santa Cruz Kinda Weekend

Hey ya’ll. Happy Sunday Funday to ya. I hope you all are safe in this craziness that is happening literally everywhere. I don’t know about you, but I am experiencing such tremendous unrest. I feel the heaviness of everything happening, and it is crushing me. Compounding the heaviness that is impacting our world, country, friends, fellow bloggers, and family, there is the uncertainty, fear, and confusion I am facing in my current circumstances. I will explain more on that later. However, today in Church we had a sermon that made it near impossible for me to keep the tears at bay. Our pastor offered such encouragement and truth to grasp during these times and emphasized trusting God’s sovereignty through it all (when they post it I’ll share the link). It was just what I needed to hear. Additionally, praising Jesus with fellow believers was the most peace I have felt in a couple weeks now.  My job doesn’t allow me the ability to go to Church most Sundays. But when I can it helps me find new perspective, helps reveal truth in spite of human emotion. I have grown pretty apathetic and exhausted as of late. I plan on doing a six month recap soon- September 20th is officially 6 months of being a neurosurgical RN in an IICU. My probation period ends tomorrow, and I’ll find out if they are keeping me on or not. I am just lying it at Jesus’s feet. That’s all I can do. I don’t have the strength or energy to do anything but leave it in His hands at this point in the program, at this point in life. I’ll keep you all posted. I hope this doesn’t sound melodramatic- I’m just whooped.

Anyways, on my way home from Church I had a renewed sense of energy that I needed considering tomorrow is gonna be extra-extra stressful. So for now- I just want to escape and share the most beautiful moments from the past couple weeks with you all, and of course, reminisce over all the yumz that have been devoured in that time. Bon appetite 🤗😋

On August 30th, where I left off on my last update post, I went to dinner with my good friend Tammy for some girl time and super savory eats. We hopped over to Aqui, which is basically just down the road from DJ and I. I have no idea how we haven’t gone here before, because ohhh my lanta, manna from heaven may have actually fell on my plate.🤤

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I ordered their salmon salad with organic greens-crunchy cabbage mix, feta, lemon vinaigrette, herb aioli, cherry tomatoes, garbanzo-jicama-edamame mix and cucumber. Their guac and chips is actually new level too. I mean, come on now, it’s actually glowing in the picture. Now if that doesn’t scream heaven ordained tex-mex, i just don’t know what does.

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After, we popped across the street to a dessert shop called Hechaa. Tammy suggested we try their Mochi! I have never had Mochi, but I hear it’s delicious, and I’m always down for a new foodie adventure. Anyone ever had it?! Sadly, they were sold out. No worries though, we still took pictures with their gorgeous flower wall like the couple of basics we are.

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August 31st I met up with a great family friend at Starbucks, who is also an RN. I talked about all that’s going on, my struggles, my thoughts, etc. She provided some awesome encouragement and advice moving forward. I’m excited to share sort of our tentative plans/thoughts for the future with you all (soonish)!

On September 1st, DJ had the evening off early too! We whipped up some ‘zas with Naan bread and all the fixings. He made a caprese one with tomatoes/mushrooms/sun-dried tomatoes/fresh buffalo mozzarella/garlic/olive oil/sprinkle of parmesan, and I made one with goat cheese/hummus/sun-dried tomato/spinach/kalamata olive/garlic/mushroom/balsamic glaze. His looked prettier haha.

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I worked all Saturday (9/2) and Sunday (9/3) , but luckily DJ finally got a weekend of R & R. He spent some time with family and I was able to join on the fun Monday (9/4) for labor day! We just relaxed and ate great food. The rest of labor day we cleaned the house, did some laundry, and watched some shows on HBO.

I worked Tuesday (9/5) and Wednesday (9/6). Wednesday was especially hard. I lost it during report to the oncoming shift. Luckily, the nurse was so gentle and sweet with me and helped me catch my breath. I had about eight critical lab values over the course of the day, an infiltrated IV, a patient whose wound seriously dehisced, a newly post-operative patient admit (if you’re a nurse you understand the challenge), an isolation room with double insulin checks, and about 100 other things that went wrong that I won’t bore you with. It was rough. Real rough. Quite possibly one of the most difficult days I’ve had yet- and working 12 hour shifts 4/5 days is exhausting beyond belief.

Anywho, when I went out for a run on Thursday (9/7), I saw this little note at the cross walk. I don’t know why it meant so much to me. But it was just a nice thought that someone took the time to place that there and it happened to fall in my path that day.

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And even though autumn is right around the corner, I couldn’t help but stop and admire these beauties!

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It’s the little things that really bring me joy lately.

I’ve been trying to use up all of our food the pantry/fridge before making a big trip. For a few nights I stir fried alll kinds of veggies together, tofu, and hummus. It was super filling and tasty too!

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Friday (9/8) I worked on our research project for the program, cleaned the house a smidge, and did some laundry. But I was pretty antisocial and not super in the mood to do anything after the chaotic days at work.

But finally, the highlight of my weekend (besides Church today) was yesterday (9/9). DJ and I finally, FINALLY, FINALLLY had a full day together! We wanted to get away, and where better to get away to than Santa Cruz for a beach day?! I started the morning early with a short warm up run followed by an insanity session. Shaun T. kicked my booty and I was ready to get some fuel. We threw on our baseball caps, I skipped on doing any makeup, and made an avocado smoothie. (I hope ya’ll don’t take a shot every time I mention this smoothie on this blog, ya’ll would be six sheets to the wind). I also took along a slice of Ezekiel bread and an RX bar for the road.

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When we arrived at Santa Cruz we were greeted by the comforting summer aroma of everything fried and the sound undulating screams from roller-coaster fanatics. We walked around the Boardwalk, took in the views of the crashing water, and claimed a cozy spot on the sandy strip as our own.

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We brought books along and decided to just read and lounge allll afternoon. I’m still making my way through Goblet of Fire. Every night we have been watching Game of Thrones (yes, I know, it’s horrible. I’m not endorsing it). But due to this, I haven’t been reading at night as often, and when I try to I usually conk out. I will make it through though! (I have a deal with myself and DJ that when I make it through all the books we can go to Harry Potter world).

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DJ brought a book too and we read and napped on and off for the afternoon. It was perfect. I was so thankful he suggested this for the day!

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DJ decided after a few hours he was craving a dog on a stick.

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What’s your favorite fare food? I think mine might be garlic fries, but at the time I was seriously craving some seafood!

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We hopped over to the Sock Shop on the wharf, which is my personal favorite boutique. I loveee socks, and I may have found the perfect pair for me….. 

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Of course we had to stop and see the little sea lions (that’s DJ’s favorite part).

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We had worked up a serious appetite by this point, and I, like I said, had a serious seafood hankerin’. We decided to try the famous FireFish Grill. We have tried tons of places on the Wharf (Olita’s, Gilda’s, Stagnaro Bro’s (twice here and here)), but had yet to try this pretty famous one!

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They immediately brought out this bread assortment, so naturally they won my heart.❤️

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Everyone around us was having a bloody mary, and they looked good although I’ve never had one. So I thought, what the heck, let’s try it! So DJ and I gave it a go. It was super yummmm. It had tons of spice and the rim was salted with a mixture that looked like sand (suh cute, right?). We didn’t finish the boogar though- it was huge and like a meal in and of itself, but it definitely complimented the food well!

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Rachel, one of my best friends from Ohio, loves Bloody Mary’s so I was excited to share with her that I actually tried one. She has been blowing up my phone with pictures of homemade bloody mary mixes ever since. Also Anna, I can say I had one in honor of your bday 😉

DJ’s seafood tacos didn’t photograph well. (The crowd boos). But he loved them! I tried the seafood kabob, called the FireFish Grill! This had skewered charbroiled prawns, scallops, salmon, fresh fish, bell pepper and onion. Hint, hint, when a restaurant names a dish after its name, it’s probably a solid option. I think I said “this is amazing” maybe six and a half times through the meal. The half because I’m sure a mouth full of the deliciousness cut me off at some point.

Oh, and I definitely took the leftover scallops to go- (Bach. in Paradise fans knows what I’m referencing).

img_1199After our scrumptious feast, we walked around the pier a bit more, soaked up the last bit of the beach breeze and sun, then headed home.

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^ DJ’s legs got horribly burnt. I am a nut about sunscreen, so I made sure not to let him live it down after he persisted that he didn’t need it before hand.🙆🏼😜

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I’m so thankful for him. I know I say that all the time, but I don’t think know I wouldn’t make it through this year without him.

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We jammed to oldies tunes on the way home, including a few faves You Make My Dreams by Daryl Hall & John Oates, some Uptown Girl (Billy Joel <3), Flash Light by Parliament, and Wake Me up Before You Go-Go. 🎶 If you ever need some feel good in your life, listen to those tunes. Promise you’ll feel better.

Blog Birthdays: 🎂🎉

To sweet Anna, from Actively Anna, Happy belated birthday dear on July 27th! (Soooo belated). I hope it was absolutely wonderful! Thank you for being such an amazing friend here since the beginning. I absolutely love our chats <3 So thankful for you, dear!

Lovely Lisa, from Life of an El Paso Woman, happy birthday tomorrow!!!!! Thank you for your love, encouragement, and conversations always! I hope this birthday is the best yet. This is your year! This last one is put to rest, and I believe this one will bring the best blessings for you. Sending you so much love and birthday hugs!

xo <3

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The Most Refreshing Avocado Smoothie

I am a creature of habit.

So when I change up those habits, it’s a big deal!

For the longest time, those that follow along know I have had a slice of toasted Ezekiel bread with greek yogurt and strawberries on top for breakfast.

But then one day I created this gem, and since I have had this smoothie nearly everyday! It’s beyond refreshing, smooth, and creamy. Additionally, it fills me up for those first couple hours starting off long nursing shifts, and the healthy fats give me all the brain power (I also love pairing this with my oatmeal protein PB breakfast cookies, which I will share soon!).

My sister was super skeptical if she would like this when she visited, but she absolutely loved it. After a day or two she was also craving them! I promised her and a couple others I would share the recipe soon. And per everything I share- it’s so easy!

Grocery List:

  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 1/2 of 5.3 oz Toasted Coconut Vanilla yogurt (Dannon) container or 3 TBSP of plain greek yogurt
  • 2 oz. coconut water
  • 2 oz. milk of choice (I use cashew or an almond/coconut blend)
  • 1 packet Stevia
  • 4-5 ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Put it all in a blender (or Ninja), and blend that sun of a gun.
  2. Enjoy!

Nutrition:

Calories: 181

Fat: 11g

Potassium: 572.5

Carbs: 14g

Sugars: 7g

Protein: 8g

Enjoy!

xo <3

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Sister’s 21st Birthday and Best of the Bay

Woooowww. Long time, no talk! HOW ARE YOU ALL?!! I am totally blog-deprived.

I know I say this repeatedly, but this is truly the most challenging and busiest time of my life. How people do this residency program with kiddos is beyond me. I finally have a day off, and I have ZERO plans but to blog, catch up on my to-do list, and eat Smoked Gouda Triscuits and gruyere cheese (hello heaven). DJ is at work, so additionally I fully intend to spend the whole day in my PJ’s, unless I go to the store for cookies for bachelorette night, but then, and ONLY THEN, will I put a bra on. Catch my drift? Ok- let’s get to it.

Since my last recap (which was about the end of April), all I have done is work, cry, meal prep, cook, cry, run, laundry, and cry…. so yes.. (I do plan on making a post about how all that is progressing soon enough, but for now let’s share ALL the gooooood!).

My sister, Halston, and her boyfriend, Kevin, came in town last week, and they left me with some awesome memories that I am one eager beaver to share!

I started out last Friday (5/19) by having my new obsession for breakfast (avocado smoothies) with homemade breakfast cookies (yeah, those recipes will be posted eventualllllly). I love sitting in my egg basket swing from Target and soaking up the sunrise with my Bible while sipping up my avocado smoothie and breakfast chocolate chip cookies. Does not get better than that, folks! My outdoor area is my “feng shui playground”.

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Since I had that Friday off, I food prepped to have at least a couple options for my sister and her boyfriend and my hubby for the week! I made roasted veggies, eggplant parmesan, tons of shredded chicken, roasted parmesan multicolored potatoes, and vegan joes (my sister is also pescetarian, but loves vegan foods too!).

I also cleaned the heck outta’ the house, which felt gloooorious!

When I picked up Kevin and Halston from the airport, they unpacked a bit, and then I had to show them around Main Street Cupertino, naturally. We had tons of avocajoes for dinner and I had to hit the hay early for work.

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While I worked the whole weekend, Kevin and Halston went to an SJ Giants game with DJ and then Church Sunday too. Even though I couldn’t participate in the weekend festivities, I’m glad they had such a blast!

Sunday night, my fave duo surprised us by also cooking some additional food for the week (we flew through all the food I made!)- Kevin whipped up some scrumptious fettuccini chicken alfredo for him and DJ, and Halston made the most delish tofu lettuce wraps for us. They spoiled us!

Monday I had off, although DJ had to work, but the three of us decided to go to Santa Cruz! This was their first time EVER in California, so I had to give them the authentic beachy town experience.

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First we stopped by a coffee shop that carried the famous Marianne’s Ice Cream to grab a cone for Kevin. DJ and I have had it before and the ice cream is velvety smooth and creamy and dreammmmyyyy.

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And I am still steadily making my way through HP, ya’ll! Just in case you are just popping in for the first time, my dream is to read through all of Harry Potter then go to HP world. Big bucket list dreams right here.

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After soaking up all the sunny rays ….and Halston aggressively avoiding getting any sand actually on her towel (or herself) — (anyone else like that? Hahaha)—….. we decided to go grab a late lunch/early dinner on the pier.

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I personally think Stagnaro Bros. is the best place for half price apps. I went here with Rachel last summer and it did not disappoint one bit.

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Halston ordered their appetizer sampler platter (clam strips, shrimp, etc.), Kevin tried their lobster quesadilla, and I jumped on their smoked salmon bites.

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It was all tremendous. I am truly salivating right now at the thought. Their tarter sauce was delish with the sampler platter, the lobster quesadilla was phenYUMenal, and the salmon bites seriously reminded us of eating hearty meat like smoked ham or steak bites. Whatever sauce they use may contain illegal substances, because they were addictive. SO GOOD.

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Halston was a bit cold on the way back to the car. I think I wear emotions on my face pretty clearly; she is a walking emoji! Ha!

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Whenever there is a crowd gathered by the edge of the pier, you can bet you will find a bunch of little sea lions providing the daily entertainment.

We zoomed back home just in time for Bachelorette to begin!!! I was stoked to have company to view the Bachelorette with. DJ and I used to have massive parties back in Indiana for bach. nights and now it’s usually just the two of us. It felt good to get ALLL the goods out, have multiple people’s input, and the hum of a full living room.

Anyone else watching? Thoughts? I just adore Rachel. This show gets goofier by the season, but I truly hope she finds her happy ending.

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Monday night at midnight Halston and Kevin went to Yardhouse on Santana Row so Halston could get her first legal drink. She got her favorite, a pina colada, and a pizza to wash it down! 😉

I had to work the rest of the week Tuesday through Thursday. Halston would get up early with me before work (yes, at 4:30), have breakfast with me, and drop me off at work so her and Kevin could use the car for the day. I just ubered home after. I treasured those mornings together and this coming week I know I will be feeling a bit sad horribly depressed without her here with me!

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Tuesday was her TWENTY FIRST birthday!!! How is my little sis this old?!

I need to take a moment and just brag on this incredible human. My sister is without debate one of the greatest individuals to grace this planet. She’s my younger sister, yet she is my role model. She doesn’t care what people think of her, yet everyone loves her. She has her priorities straight with a level head, a strong faith and a selfless love for others. She exudes a zest for life that surpasses most and embodies the most gentle spirit. She is also ridiculously fun to hangout with and is always a guarantee for the most wonderful memories with tons of laughs. She pursues adventure whenever there is a free second, but works harder than most people I know. She is the greatest listener, has wisdom beyond her years, and both an emotional and physical strength that allows her to dominate whatever life throws her way. HAPPY 21st again, seeeester. I love you more than words!!!

We started the epic birthday with avocado smoothies and while DJ and I were at work, Kevin and her spent the day exploring SJ (going to Crossfit and Bill’s Cafe- hollllaaaa!) and had a beautiful dinner at the ethereal Grandview restaurant after!

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You can read about our previous Grandview Experiences here and here. HINT:  Their cheesecake is to die for.

This restaurant is like you are sitting in a little part of Heaven. The views are indescribable. It’s all terribly romantic, stunning, and the whole experience is absolutely spectacular. I would not want anything less for Halston on her big 2-1!

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The beautiful birthday princess and her amor had the most wonderful evening. Aren’t they gorg?! I’m so thankful Kevin was able to come on this trip! He treats my sister like an absolute queen and the two are a perfect pair.

On my way home from work I ubered past Coldstone Creamery to pick up a Peanut Butter Playground cake for Hal, her fave. I fell asleep before they came home, but the missing slices in the morning told me they enjoyed it! (Also, I totally forgot to snap a picture; thank you internet for coming in in the clutch).

peanut butter playground.jpgWednesday, Halston and Kevin went into downtown SF to meet up with Kevin’s future roommate. He is attending Dental school in Pennsylvania- Hal and Kevin both went to University of Cincy where they met. Hal has one year left, but is studying abroad in Columbia this fall. After undergrad she plans to go to law school. Got it? (There is a quiz on this post after 😉 ).

They loved exploring the city, and graciously shared their pictures with me! They went to Pier 39 (essential), and then made their way to Japan town to meet the roommate. Hal had some Boba on the way. I honestly didn’t even know Japan town existed… I thought there was only China town. Hal and Kevin said the food was insanely good at this place though. DJ and I will definitely be back-pocketing the name for a date night! She didn’t get any pictures of the food though- I haven’t trained her well enough in Blogger ways, lol.

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Thursday they spent the day resting up at home and when I came back from work, we all went to Kula!!!! DJ and I used to be obsessed when we first moved here, but there is plenty else to explore, hence we haven’t been in a while. If you want to read about the conveyor-belt sushi experience, I have a pretty thorough review here.

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My personal favorite roll is the Kula roll with lemon juice sprinkled over ahi tuna.

When DJ came home from work late that night, Hal made us all pina coladas (cause now she can officially have them!), and we played Cards *mumbles* againsthumanity… I know the game is probs not something I should promote, but goodness gracious it’s too much fun. The game inevitably leaves you with inside jokes and belly laughs.

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Friday morning, Hal and I decided to go to Tony Look trail for a nice run (that heckuvah trail that I always take our guests on- here, here, and here). Usually I just hike it with people, but I convinced Halston to run it with me. Haha – she was a trooper.

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WE SURVIVED! Even though we were annihilated by overgrown weeds and were convinced we were going to be plowed over by an off-roading car at one point (long story). Once again- Halston’s face says it all! BUT— No mountain lions today! Woohoo!

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When we made it back home we scarfed down some grub and got ready to go back into SF for more bday celebrations with all four of us!

Deej took us down Lombard street and Filbert street (The steepest road in SF). You can’t even see over the car into the road below when you are on the very top. It’s trippy and feels more like a rollercoaster than a road!

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We parked near Ghiradelli square and perused around here before heading to the Golden Gate.

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I realized I had never had my second cup of joe for the day and was crashing. Luckily, Le Marais Bakery came to the rescue. It was no Peet’s, but it did the trick!

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Cuties <3 ^

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Coffee <3 ^

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Crew <3 ^

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We then ubered the bridge to the other side to grab some photos with the world renowned bridge (which just celebrated it’s 80th anniversary! Thank you, Kate, I had no idea!). Very enlightening!!!

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After enjoying our time at the Bridge we headed to the Ferry Building to explore and grab some food to tide us over.

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Halston and Kevin were dying to try the empanadas. DJ and I still haven’t tried the little guys, but they said they were tasty!

We also stopped at the SF Fish Company where we grabbed the famous chowder! It was super good- not as good as the one’s I sampled with my mom in Monterey, but dang close!

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We killed time by walking around SF and then stopping to get bandaids for a horrible blister on my foot. #heels. #beautyispain.

Our reservation was at 8:00 for Venticello Restaurant on Nob Hill. We arrived early, but got light drinks at the bar and just relaxed a bit before our table was ready.

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This restaurant is the definition of “quaint”. It is tucked away, easy to miss, but once you step inside the scents of wood oven pizza, baking Italian herbs, and romantic lighting embraces you. The service was excellent and, although a bit chilly by the windows, the warmth from the real burning wood stove was a perfect touch.

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We all agreed that wherever we went for dinner, pre-meal complimentary bread was essential.

We also ordered their margharita pizza for an appetizer. The pizza looked satiating, but no one wanted to order it for their main course, so dubbing it an appetizer worked out well. They also had other amazing options as appetizers- we will be back. The pizza was fantastic, but I and DJ prefer when the ingredients are more visible in a margharita- like the mozzarella is still obviously buffalo slices and the tomatoes are sliced. The flavor was still tremendous- it just tasted more like a basic cheese pizza!

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For my dinner I tried the scallops. Holy Italian cannoli- the flavors were out of this world! It had a pesto sauce along with artichoke heart puree. Still, Farallon’s scallops take home the W, but these were pretty doggone good!

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Taking pictures was a bit hard since the lighting was quite dim, but Halston ordered the gnocci with gorgonzola and mushroom cream sauce, Kevin ordered their spaghetti carbonara with pancetta, english peas, and farm cream sauce, and DJ tried their fettuccini with house-made spicy pork fennel sausage and tomato cream sauce (pictured below). We all loved our entrees and I don’t think there was a bite left on any of our plates!

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But you better believe we left room for dessert. After scavenging YELP to find a place that sounded like the golden ticket, we headed to SIFT which promised milkshakes, macaroons, and ice cream sandwiches. When we arrived, the options were pretty limited. Luckily, across the street was Smitten! We decided to give it a go and it was one COOL experience! It’s all organic and the flavors are uniquely delicious like brown sugar with cinnamon shortbread, dough my goodness sundaes, and almond coconut macaroon to name a few. It took us forever to decide what we wanted because it literally all ridiculously yummy.

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Halston and DJ had the dough my goodness sundae, Kevin had their vanilla with strawberry prosecco sauce, and I had their cold brrrew with cookie dough pieces pretzel pieces, and brown sugar caramel sauce on top. It was tremendous. The coffee flavor was strong, but the sweetness of everything else provided the perfect balance!

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For the evening, we decided to try out a Gatsby themed exclusive nightclub. It’s supposed to take place during the prohibition era, so all of the information is super obscure online and you receive the place the day of the event. I received an e-mail saying “Your appointment to get your watch fixed it scheduled at 11:00 pm at this location”. I was confused for a second and then realized it was all part of the underground, secretive experience. We still had time before 11, so we tried to find somewhere to go dancing. The place we tried out had hardly anyone there yet, so we got stamped and decided to go back later. When we arrived at the Gatsby location, it was a bit….. different than expected. It was a crowd quite a bit older than us, the room was pretty small, and there was no music playing as it said on the website. We didn’t stay long but it was worth the try and we also had the most interesting uber ride of all time- let’s just say SF is like a box of chocolates— you never know what you’re gonna get!

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The rest of the evening the four of us danced and then headed back home. It was overall a super fun, yet bizarre in many ways, night!

On Saturday, Halston and Kevin had a late flight back to Ohio. We had one place left on the list that was essential for them to try before leaving: In n Out. Confession: This was my first time trying it too.

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The boys ordered the burgers and animal style fries & a shake. Us girls nibbled on their fries and tried the shake. It was all good, but I still prefer Swenson’s back in Akron. If you are from Akron, you would understand.

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Halston and I were craving Boba tea as well. We jumped over to Tea Chansii on Main Street to try it out. I had their jasmine green tea with boba and Hal tried their smoothie. We ended the night by finishing up random foods in the fridge- I made Hal my loaded vegan sweet potato, the men quesadillas, and finished up the leftover tofu wraps Hal made earlier in the week (I crave them!).

We took them to the airport in the evening and said our goodbyes. I have had a hard time since they left. I was looking forward to the visit for such a long time, and I can’t believe it’s already over. I will treasure these memories forever.

I also want to take a moment to say thank you to those that have served and serve our country. I know I can fully never understand that sacrifice, but with a somber and thankful heart- thank you. And to the families and friends of those who have lost someone dearly, my thoughts and prayers are with you today.

To my WordPress fam, as always, thank you for being endlessly supportive as I swim upstream through this stage of my life. I send ya’ll all my love.

xo <3

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