The Best Brunch in SF & Flor De Cafe!

I gotta tell ya what. Spring has not always been my favorite time of year. For years, I have had some pretty intense SAD. So usually by the time Spring rolls around I’m not in the best state, and I feel like I’m mentally/emotionally “defrosting” from a long winter. It is the time of year I usually associate with energy depletion, apathy in full force, and stunted motivation. It traditionally isn’t until Summer that I feel I have my full mojo back. However, since moving to CA, I have grown to just love & relish in the spring time. I love the blooms, the sunshine, and the hope/renewed excitement that accompanies this time of the year. This might be my favorite spring so far too… I am soaking up every last second of living here, and really just trying to be ever present, finding the beauty in every single moment.

I’m still catching up on the recap, but I’m closing in on only being a week behind. We’re making strides here, people, making strides. On Saturday April 13th, I spent the day catching up on blogs/finishing up some school assignments for the semester- same ol’ same ol’. In the evening I made a mix of mixed veggies, lots of Morningstar vegan crumbles, and green goddess dressing. Mmm!

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As I have been trying to use up all our dry goods, I decided to use up a gargantuan bag of black beans that have been sitting in the pantry for a while. I made these black beans brownies from Chocolate Covered Katie and love them!!! You’d never know they were made with black beans. They are also vegan and gluten free! I actually have been eating these some days in the morning with my avocado smoothie instead of my oats. I have such a sweet tooth in the morning some days.

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On April 14th, I woke up around 5:45 am, ran about 7 miles, then headed to Nosh to grab a coffee since I was out of coffee at home.

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Time to drive into the city!!!

This ring I’m wearing below is one of my favorites because it belonged to my Nana. It has such special sentimental value & she had such a spectacular eye for fash-un. It makes me feel close to her whenever I wear her gems <3

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First stop was Brenda’s French Soul Food for some brekky. My SIL and foodie/exploration partner in crime, Amy, joined me. What am I gonna do without her when we move?! I’m seriously trying to convince her to move to Austin with us.

Anywho, Brenda’s is the most frequently reviewed place on YELP in SF and has been one of those places that I “MUST” try before we move.

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I appreciate how they so clearly lay out the “House Rules”. I dropped Amy off to put our name on the list before finding parking, but as I drove around I realized we were in the Tenderloin- probably the most dangerous area in SF. After she put our name on the wait list, I called her and then picked her back up so we could find parking together.

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The wait was not bad at all! Rumor has it that you will wait at least 45 minutes no matter when you come, but we waited maybe 20? It was not bad!

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The interior was amazing. I expected it to be more grungy- but it was clean, fun, upbeat, polished. I forgot to get a pic, but one of the walls were entirely made up of mirrors (you can see them on the YELP page if interested).

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The way they put the silverware in the coffee canister reminded me of Cafe Du Monde! 

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Amy ordered their famous Molasses-Black Walnut Iced Coffee with Whipped Cream!

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To start we ordered beignets.

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Okay y’all. These were out. of. this. world. I am adding these to my list of “must try” dishes in San Francisco. The flight includes one plain, one apple, one Ghirardelli chocolate filled, and one crawfish.

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The Ghirardelli was DJ’s favorite (I brought him back some to try!). I liked it for sure- but it was more of a rich dessert than breakfast item for me.

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My favorite was the crawfish. Not even exaggerating- this is easily one of the best things I have ever eaten.

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My second favorite were the Granny Apple Smith. Oh my gosh, these were phenomenal.

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And even the plain ones held my attention. These were, without any question, the best beignets I have ever had. They were even better than Cafe Du Monde’s in New Orleans (which I did not think lived up to the hype).

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Oh, and you bet we ordered more! Amy tried their Croque Monsieur with baked ham and swiss with bechamel sauce on sliced sourdough. I tried the cheese with the bread and that alone- holllly smoke-a-roonies. I cannot handle- so yummy.

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I ordered the shrimp & grits to take home for DJ. I knew this was a dish he’d enjoy! I tried a little nibble before packaging them up & they were just WOW. Mind blowingly good- although Patty O’s may have them beat!

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I ordered their shrimp & goat cheese omelette with caramelized onions and a tomato relish. I don’t know what the heck made this so good, but it was one of my favorite omelettes I’ve had in my entire life. Also, their potatoes are uniquely delicious & the biscuit was warm, doughy, obnoxiously good.

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They even have a homemade strawberry jam on the table with whole strawberries and a perfect jam on the biscuit.

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One of … no no no, THE best brunch I have had in the Bay. If you have to eat at one place for breakfast while visiting SF, this is your spot!

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After we went back to Amy’s for a beat, and I got to see my fav little pups- Gravy & Pool Noodle <3

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We then headed to a shoot for the day!

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This shoot was for Flor de Cafe. They reached out to me on Instagram, asking if I would come in for a shoot in exchange for their famous sandwich! I obliged happily 🙂

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This cute little Cafe is owned by a man from Chile & his wife from Southern Columbia. Their story is inspiring & beautiful. She actually does all the artwork for the cafe!

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I met the Chef and owner, Hernan- seriously such a nice guy! He was so welcoming & kind. Time to get to the photo shoot. So the reason this place is oh so special is because they serve the only Lomito sammy in the entire Bay Area. The Bay serves everything so the fact that the Lomito is only served here is a purrrrty big deal.

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This spectacular sandwich is made with two day marinated pork, mayo, avocado, sauerkraut all on ciabatta bread. Y’all know I will eat meat when DJ says something is a must-try or there is something soo good I can’t pass it up. This was one of those times! I took a big bite of that lomito, and let me tell ya- even for someone who doesn’t like meat, this sammy was excellent. I brought home the rest for DJ and he LOVED it.

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So much fun getting taking these pics– Also major thanks to Amy for her help with this shoot- she really has an eye for food photography!

Have a great rest of your week, y’all!

Question for you:

  • What’s your favorite comfort food dish?

xo <3

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**Thank you for the Lomitos & having us in, Tim, Hernan, & Flor De Cafe!**

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SF Tourin’ & Big Basin Hikin’

Heyyy yaa! This post is going to be heavily picture laden- but not as heavy on the words (at least as much as usual 😉 ). This week has been busy running around getting ready to go back to Ohio this weekend, BUT I am going to try to squeeze this post out before we take off!

Soooo where did we leave off? I believe it was Thursday the 22nd… DJ and I headed to BW3 (Buffalo Wild Wings) in the evening to meet up with his coworkers. It was a blast, and I can’t wait to see them all again for another get together mid July.

Friday the 23rd kicked off a tremendous weekend. I started the morning (as I have every morning) with some avocado toast using Oren’s Hummus Shop whole wheat pita, hummus, and mashed avocado with pink Himalayan salt & pepper. I can’t get enough of this.

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After an Insanity workout, DJ and I headed to Santana Row to do some shopping for him. I was thankful I didn’t have to look for anything for myself because I am overrrrr it! But I always love going with DJ just to tag along & have an excuse to find a cup a jo’ somewhere.

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In the evening we drove into SF to attend our Church’s annual conference called If Not For the Hand of God at the Regency Ballroom. We had Mack Brock in the house & a ton of phenomenal speakers over the weekend. Every second was incredible. My notebook is filled with pages and pages of wisdom and conviction from these Pastors.

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I also loved getting to see my sweet friend, Tammy, if only briefly Friday night!

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DJ and I woke up around 6 am on Saturday morning, the 23rd. We decided we had enough time to try to squeeze in an awesome breakfast before a busy jam-packed day.

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I have wanted to try Kitchen Story for a while- it’s one of those well known “Must try” brunch places in SF.

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We were seated immediately since it was only 8 am on a Saturday (give it 2 hours and you are looking at least an hour wait).

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DJ tried their millionaire bacon. The last time he had the bacon was at Sweet Maple. We had to see how this stacked up.

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I had the Primavera with egg whites, spinach, mushrooms, and blistered tomatoes, a croissant, and rainbow potatoes. Such a wonderful start to the day!

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DJ had their ricotta pancakes and said they were some of the best he’s had in the city.

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Overall, we both agreed we still liked Sweet Maple better… but it was a fantastic breakfast nonetheless.

We attended the first session of conference at 9:30 am, then during the lunch break we scarfed down a couple complimentary sandwiches and decided to explore.

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We stumbled across Japantown, a destination in the city we have never been before.

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I’d love to come back and try some of these restaurants.

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After the afternoon session, we decided to go to the 16th Avenue Tiled steps- a tourist spot we have never explored.

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Apparently there was a lady stealing plants from the steps, and they had a picture “shaming” her for stealing. It seemed both ridiculous and hilarious.

After the steps we went to Twin Peaks. You may remember I went on my own a couple months back, and I knew DJ would love the views.

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He had no clue I was taking these pictures of him, sorry deej! Hehe.

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Last on the list for the day was Haight-Ashbury street… a step back in time to the 60s. It is known for being the origin of the hippie culture.

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We decided to stop and grab a quick bite to eat to tide us over before heading home. We went to the first place we saw- Magnolia.

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DJ had their house burger.

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I decided to just have the house salad- I wasn’t super hungry since I had been nibbling on snacks I had in my purse all day- any other grandmas in the house?! I have food on me at ALL times.

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Haight-Ashbury is also known for the Piedmont Boutique with the flailing-out-the-window-legs. What a hoot.

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It truly felt like a step back in time… one of the craziest streets I’ve ever been on. Everyone was exceptionally friendly though- I will say that..

Sunday morning, the 24th, Tammy and I went on a loooong hike at Big Basin in the Santa Cruz mountains!

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I’ve been wanting to do this hike for a while and finally a good time we both could go!

I have never seen Redwoods in person before and was BLOWN away. I have never seen anything so gargantuan in my whole life.

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We had an hearty laugh over this form we had to put on our dashboard. This just instilled allll the confidence in us!

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We set out to do the longest hike the Berry Creek Falls- Skyline to the Sea-Sunset loop.

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Take a look at this bee hive!!!

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The falls were stunning, located about five miles deep into the hike. The pictures cannot do them justice.

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Whoever said “Don’t go chasing waterfalls” was just plain wrong.

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Is it a Black Bear? Nope, it’s a MACK bear.

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We hiked from about 10:45 am to 4:00 pm. It was a phenomenal and strenuous hike (the sign did not lie). The weather was perfect and the views were breathtaking. No greater therapy than nature.

Monday I cleaned up the house, did a load of laundry, and ran some errands. In the evening I made butternut squash pasta with lemon, garlic, and olive oil topped with sprinkled parmesan, a quinoa medley, and I also decided to make stuffed jalapeños for DJ (with Monterey cheese blend, white onion, and bacon).

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Tammy came over to watch the Bachelorette and we snacked and chatted. So thankful for the time we were able to have together this weekend! As the show started, I had this giant salad that I’ve been eating on repeat this week with a black bean burger, tons of veggies, hummus, and balsamic vinegar.

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Yesterday, the 26th, I spent the day getting together packages to ship that I sold on Ebay and Poshmark. I also went for a nice long eight-miler. It’s so funny around here- I swear we have two springs… the flowers go into full bloom early in spring then die then all of a sudden bam.. have a full bloom again. Not mad one bit about it.

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Today, the 27th, I knocked out a little bit of the remainder of my to-do, meal prepped for when I’m gone next week but DJ is home, and started packing for Ohio! Anyone have any fun weekend plans you’re looking forward to?!

xo <3 submark

Lobbies & Robbers & Bearnaise, OH MY!

Happy happy Thursday to yas! I’m currently sitting outside in my little basket, drinking an avocado smoothie & eating protein choc. chip cookies while watching the sun come up over the mountains. I am utterly content on the heels of having two incredibly hard days in the hospital. I received a couple of timely texts from DJ’s family that meant the world and gave me the boost I needed to make it through. I am so doggone blessed to be able to call DJ’s family my own. And now I am pumppped to share this past weekend with ya’ll!

So, DJ and I are celebrating our anniversary in about a week here, but this past weekend was the only one that lined up for us to celebrate! We kind of considered Tahoe our anniversary trip, so we decided to do something more local in SF- a staycation if you will!

We staycayed at the JW Marriott hotel in SF. The lobby’s interior was gorgeous!

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We like to try out different hotels because each one brings a different experience. Even though this hotel had the best amenities (great fitness room, awesome food pantry, bathroom, etc.), DJ and I agree Le Meridian and the Fairmont surpassed this one by far at a similar price (although we did grab those two on Groupon!). SO if you are looking at staying in SF, consider those two options before JW Marriott. Our fridge was missing & a light was out. Plus the overall aesthetic and experience was better at the other two!

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For dinner we walked to Alfred’s, just about a mile from Union Square.

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Holy maloly- this place was the bomb dot com. Open since 1928, the moment you step in, the giant chandeliers put off an old fashioned, classy ambiance that throws you back in time. The hostess and servers were so friendly. The food- man, oh man, the food was too good! They are also famous for their cocktails.

They served the the butter in the shape of a flower- now that’s a fancy first! I have never seen this done before, but I am convinced the butter was extra tasty!

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We started with their shrimp cocktail and tater tots. These were the fanciest gosh darn tots we have ever had with creme fraiche & smoked trout roe. I do think the appetizers were overpriced, but all in the name of a fantastic experience, right?! I say the tots were good- but the shrimp cocktail is where it was at! If we go back I would love to try the smoked black cod!

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Our main courses were absolutely exquisite. I told DJ this may have been one of my favorite fish dishes. (I feel like I always say this, but honestly- this was out of this world!) I had the Petrale Sole with a lemon caper butter sauce. It reminded me of a lemon picatta chicken my mom used to make for us growing up. It was perfection. Mouth watering perfection.

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DJ ordered their filet with baernaise sauce. I tried the sauce and it was heavenly.

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I think our favorite part of the meal (or close second, because the fish may have been my fave) was the creamed spinach. It was maybe the best we have had. It came with bacon bits on top, but it was easy for me to just eat around them. The panko breadcumbs on top mixed with the perfect amount of savory and herb created a flavorous explosion that is hard to even describe. If you are in SF, stopping by Alfred’s for their creamed spinach alone is a must.

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It was a perfect anniversary dinner!

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As we were walking back to the hotel we saw the craziest thing. There was robbery (orchestrated by a couple) who ran into one of the shoe stores lining the road near Union Square. We heard the yelling and when we turned the corner we saw shoes & boxes flying everywhere and the woman and man arguing aggressively with the store owner…. things started getting physical. The owner was chasing the woman, and the man of the two was quickly to the defense. They were essentially in the middle of the road, but closer to the side that we had to walk. Along with a few other cautious people, we walked toward the scene hoping we could get past without any issues. As we got within about fifteen feet we saw the man of the pair reach behind him into his backpack. DJ and I immediately turned around and sprinted back toward the other side. He easily could have been reaching for a gun, and we weren’t in the mood to be in the center of a downtown SF shooting. We ran back toward the corner and decided to cross the road and take the scenic route back. The guy didn’t pull out a gun, it was a pole of sorts (not sure what exactly), but he started chasing the owner with it. Finally we heard the police sirens and kept trying to peep from other side of the street to watch the action. Sociology at it’s best. #bystandereffect #citylife

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The whole experience really worked up a sweet tooth for the two of us. We decided to grab dessert at none other than our faveeeeee…… you can probably guess- CHEESECAKE FACTORYYYY!!!!!

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It was a bit of a wait, but well worth it. I am a firm believer of not going to chains when in a big city with unique options- but I might break the rules sometime for this one. The restaurant is located on top of the Macy’s tower with tables overlooking Union Square. We peaked out while waiting for our cheesecake and the view was tremendous. Plus, cheesecake factory. Ugh, too stinking good.

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On the way out DJ said to me as we passed the whole crowd waiting in line, “Too bad they ran out of cheesecake” and some guy overheard saying “Oh man!!!!!”. It was too funny, but I really hope this didn’t stop the guy from getting his cheesecake!

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We went back to the hotel and nommmed down on our Cheesecake (Oreo Dream Xtreme for DJ and White Chocolate Raspberry for me (and maybe watched a bit of Game of Thrones on my little iphone screen because we were both hard core craving it). Guys, this show though…

In the morning I ran a few miles and then we walked to Dottie’s True Blue Cafe, a famous breakfast spot in SF.

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The line was insaneee. I think we waited about an hour and a half before finally getting in.

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It is pretty small, not a lot of tables, and the service is super slow. If you go here the things to order are their baked pastries. We ordered full meals and they were ok, but crazy overpriced. We would have much preferred Sweet Maple any day. BUT their baked goods looked absolutely incredible, and the coffee was delishhh.

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DJ had their pancakes- he said they were aighhht, just not the best.

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I had an egg white omelette with lots of veggies and feta cheese. It was great- tasty as it comes, but it was the most expensive omelette I have EVER had. I do have to say, the jalapeno cornbread with pepper jelly was the highlight. I think I could have just ate that alone. I didn’t leave a crumb on my plate of that little guy. If you do find yourself at Dottie’s, it’s a must!

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Overall, it was a good meal, but Sweet Maple STILL takes the cake as the best breakfast/brunch spot in SF for us. We have yet to try Mama’s (which is supposed to be epic).

After breakfast, we shopped around Union Square for a bit!

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DJ suggested we go to Baker’s Beach (He always has the best ideas). We have actually not been to this beach since moving here. We were both craving Big Sur or Monterey for our getaway, and this helped us give a bit of a fix.

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We just hung out, climbing on the cliffs, sitting in the cool breeze, gazing upon the Golden Gate and serene bay and talked about everything. There are so many questions, and confusion, about what our next step in life is… about where we would want to move next, about what we still want to accomplish and experience while we are here, about the emotional rollercoaster we both have been on in the past year. We talked about how this is just a season- that we won’t always be seeing each other for a total of thirty minutes each week. But how long will this season last? I think we are both realizing as young twenty-somethings that life is not a clear linear path and rarely do plans actually happen as planned. I’m just thankful we have this journey to figure it out together. This was time we both needed, and I was so very thankful for it.

Hope you all had the best weekends!

Blog Birthdays:

Shooot, I am so late to these but a BIG, MASSIVE, happy birthday to

Samantha @ artofbeingfabulous on July 29th. Sam is nothing short of inspirational. I mean her blog name basically says it all: she has perfected the art of being fabulous! She has the best travel tips, recipes, fashion advice, and tons of great tips for overall well being. In a nutshell, her blog has everything you could need. So thankful for you and your sweet comments always, Samantha! BIG happy birthday to you, dear!

Heather @ Polyglotjot on July 30th. Guys! She is one of the very first bloggers I followed-  she shares everything from WIAW posts to life updates to her whole pregnancy, to amazing recipes and everything in between. Each post is AWESOME & leaves you mighty hungry! She is also just so genuine, and has became a dear friend. Happy birthday, Heather! I so love all our conversations <3

xo <3

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