Friday Favorites #13

Uhhhh should I be concerned…..  A Friday Favorites #13 on Friday the 13th?! I best not walk under any ladders today.

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But anywho wowzahs! It has been a while since a FF! I have a lot of things I am just luh-ving lately, so it was hard to narrow them down to just ten. I guess that makes next week even easier to write!

Here we go… !

  1. Have y’all seen the latest Aerie campaign?! For a few years they have been doing Aerie Real, and now they’ve broadened the campaign to include women with disabilities and medical conditions…. it is absolutely beautiful, these women are BEAUTIFUL. It nearly brought me to tears seeing these pictures. <3

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2. Wear This One! To say I’m excited about this would be an understatement!! I mentioned briefly in a previous post that my mom-in-law created a website and app called Wear This One. You know when you cannot decide what to wear for a wedding, work event, just a regular date? This is the solution all of us have been waiting for (men included!). You simply create an account, download the app (or use the site), post pictures of what you are debating between, and then people vote on which they prefer for the event. You can vote on looks too and there is even a “get inspired” page. It’s super easy, and you can also opt to keep it private if you want to create posts only your selected friends can vote on. Check. it. OUT!

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3. San Pedro Square Public Market. Honestly- I am baffled how I haven’t been here yet. It is now, in my opinion, the best place to eat in San Jose from an atmosphere perspective. DJ, Amy (SIL), and I went here a couple days ago. I was shocked by the number of food options alone.

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We grabbed our food (I tried some fresh to death sashimi from Blush) then found a spot outside to enjoy the live music. We will definitely be back!

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4. Plain Fage. I have been living for just some plain Fage with either Shakeology protein powder, maybe on toast, with oatmeal or with some fruit. I love how thick it is in consistency. I used to love the flavored Dannons, but this just keeps me full much longer with a bangin’ 18g of protein.

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5. TJ’s Spray Sunscreen. This is wayy cheaper than what you will find in the drug store and works very well! No sunburn yet for me this summer!

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6. R + Co Detangler. I have been attempting to keep my hair nice and healthy, but one of my issues has been finding a good detangler. My hair gets too knotted, so usually I end up having to use an absurd amount of detangler and then have greasy hair (no. bueno.). This stuff is like magic. Just a tiny little bit works SO well.

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7. GOOD SEED Hempseed Burgers!!! These are dang yummy. Maybe one of my favorite vegan burgers out there. The thing I particularly love about this burger is the unique flavor- it reminds me of stuffing at thanksgiving- mmm mmm!

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8. So you may remember back when I went on the cruise with Rachel, we made some good friends. Tiffany, pictured below was one of them! We met on an excursion and I hard core encouraged her to start a blog, raving about how amazing blogging is and how great the community is. Well y’all, she started one and it is magnificent!!! I hope you will give it a look over at www.justkeepbreathing.org ! 🙂 She is one of the most genuine, kind, warm, encouraging, and inspirational people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting!

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9. The Staircase. Oh. my. lanta. Y’all- DJ and I haven’t finished this yet because we are watching it together so naturally it will take us at least another couple months haha, BUT we are a few episodes in and it is gripping.

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10. Reading Chillout Playlist. This is my new favorite chill playlist on Spotify for reading. I love a little white noise and this is reading perfection!

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What are some of your weekly Favorites?!

xo <3

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There’s No Place Like Home: Part Two

Here we goooo, Part Dos! This one is a bit shorter, gotta give y’all some breathing room, hehe.

We left off the night of Monday the 2nd. In the morning of Tuesday the 3rd I met my friend Rachel at First Watch– my all time FAVORITE breakfast spot. It’s something we don’t have here in the West, so I was salivating as I walked through the door.

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And I guess you can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take the California out of the girl…. naturally I went for their avocado toast. (I also love their coffee). My other favorites here are their tri-athlete and their massive pancakes!

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Rach ordered their famous pesto chicken quinoa bowl with protein-packed quinoa mixed with kale, shredded carrots and house-roasted tomatoes topped with grilled all-natural lemon chicken breast, basil pesto sauce, feta crumbles and fresh herbs.

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After breakfast, I snuck in a workout at the local gym then decided to go to Earth Fare- my main reason for coming home (jk jk … kinda)…. My last meal would include the taters from Burntwood and tofu nuggets from EarthFare. This is one of the food items I miss the absolute most and a must when I go home.

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They didn’t have them in the main display and I started to panic. I asked the lady if she had any and she said none were made but she would be happy to whip some up. It was so kind, and I was willing to wait the extra twenty minutes to get some nuggs.

img_7274img_7275I grabbed some big salads for me and Clair before going to her childhood home to visit her mom and sister.

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This is a picture of their gorgeous backyard. Countless of my own memories growing up were held here too.

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For dinner I met with another close friend from high school, Kylie, at Pub Bricco. I hadn’t been here in forever, and forgot how doggone delicious their food was.

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Kylie had their salmon sandwich and I tried a bite- heaven. Anything with sun-dried tomatoes is pure gold.

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I savored every single bite of their veggie burger with tzatziki sauce.

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We talked, barely stopping to take a breath for almost three hours, and yet it never seems like enough time! We have been sending cards back and forth this past year though which has been such a great way to stay in touch. Who doesn’t love still getting snail mail nowadays?!

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In the morning of the fourth I woke up super early and headed to Lakeside, OH to join DJ’s family for a day on the lake!

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This place is very dear to DJ and I. DJ grew up here in the summers and this was actually where he told me he loved me for the first time (fun facts all around). When you are here it feels like all is right in the world.

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The girls! (Although we missed Amy- DJ’s twin).

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A ceremony was held to dedicate the Park to DJ’s Grandma and Grandpa- it was a beautiful and wonderful ceremony. Truly an unforgettable day. Love this family and honored to call myself part of it <3

After the ceremony I zoomed back to Cleveland to return the rental car. I was stuck in some serious bouts of rain- I do NOT miss that!!! Rain rain go away, come back when I am on my plane….. back to CA.. where there is a whole lot less precipitation.

BUT fighting the H2O was so worth it because I was able to attend my family’s fourth of July barbecue! My brother and his amazing wife Maura picked me up from the rental place and we drove to my cousin’s home for the evening.

I seriously hope I am half the parents they are!

This is Baby Kate- can’t handle her cuteness. Our little all American girl!

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And this is Jack- my nephew who literally melts my heart and soul every time he says, “Aunt Kenzie”.

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Kate loooved my sunnies.

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And my shoes! She got into those on her own. We just turned around and she was standing there in them with a big smile on her face. It was so stinking cute.

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Time for sparklers!!!

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BE STILL MY SOUL. This face <3

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Jack loved the sparklers and really loved the pop-its! Fearless little man.

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After an incredible family day, I tried to catch some serious snoozes before having to get up at 4 am for my flight (which would be 1 am Pacific time). Eek! I was surprisingly hungry when I got to the airport, so I found a yummy chia seed pudding with berries and nuts and had a coffee before boarding.

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And now that brings us back to good ole’ Northern Cali. Thanks for letting me share my home with you all- such a special place with such special people. Where is your home home?

xo <3

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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

Finding my [[ Center ]] & Fighting Self Care Guilt

Happy Friday Eve, everyone! I have been spending the last couple weeks finding my center per the title. *Cue the yoga mudra*. This sounds like some serious Californian crap, but ohhh well, it’s trueeee.

Leaving off from the last post, I entered into the next week determined to do some serious self care.

Self care is difficult for me because I tend to feel like I have to be dying on my sword, exhausted in every way before I allow myself to take a darn bubble bath. But that’s what these couple of months are for before diving back into the deep end in August. I am struggling though because if I’m rested, calm, and moving less than the pace of a tornado- am I doing something wrong?! The guilt has been knocking at the door… but I had to remind myself of the beautiful lesson I learned about seasons/transition times when I moved here, and I am going to soak up these next few weeks best I can. After all, I have to be rested before I can give my all, right?

My sister, Andi, and I chatted on the phone on Father’s Day reminiscing about our Dad and life in general. I told her how I’m feeling a bit strange not being busy busy busy. She said the awesome thing about these phases and seasons is that you are available- truly available for whatever God might have for you.

Case and point- I was on a run today and saw a debit card on the sidewalk. In all my busyness previously, I honestly may have just left it, not bothering myself with it. But since I had the time, I was able to run the card to the nearest Police Station- It felt good being able to just do something that I selfishly probably wouldn’t have if I was in one of my busy seasons. The police called back and said the man was incredibly grateful. I also feel like I’ve just been able to be there for my friends and family a bit more this last couple weeks. Usually, I just keep my phone on “Do not Disturb” because when I was at work I obviously couldn’t answer, and when I wasn’t at work I was running around getting ready for work or trying to sleep. It resulted in a endless games of phone tags and a full voicemail box. Now, I actually have my phone on and am able to chat with my friends and family who are going through some tough stuff right now. I’m so glad I can be there to just listen.

So what does this self care look like? Well first, I have allowed myself to sleep without an alarm (which is a challenge when usually I set an alarm even when I don’t need one). My body has been thanking me though- I am breathing easier and feel like my feet are actually on the ground. My circadian rhythm is resetting- and not only physically- but emotionally too.

I’m beginning to actually feel like myself again.

Second- I am cutting out the artificial sweetener drinks and sticking to water. I love those ICE drinks and Vitamin Water Zero- but I have decided to try to just drink pure water. I have noticed the difference in two things- bloating & energy. I love my flavored wa’ (pronounced wah), but time to hydrate the old fashioned way.

Next, this past year in nursing I have severely damaged my back, actually more than I realized. I am working on doing more stretching and some yoga to help it, but DJ suggested I get a massage. I decided Monday June 11th to get one at Elements Massage in Los Gatos with a coupon. Although the masseuse  talked the entire time and we ended up talking about her family’s medical issues, it was still enjoyable. A nurse is never really off duty ;). Haha.

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Monday during The Bachelor(ette) season is my favorite night of the week! I love that DJ watches with me because he has the most hilarious commentary. We took a nice lazy walk on Sunday night on Main Street and passed Rootstock Wine Bar. We decided we would hop in there the next night for a glass of wine before the Bachelorette.

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It’s pretty expensive, but sooo delish, and a nice date place every once in a while. They always have some of the best wine. I also love the whole ambiance- it’s rustic, yet chic, and comfortable. On some nights they have live music playing. We sat out on the patio and enjoyed our glass of wine before walking home to eat our Tollhouse  chocolate chip cookies and watch maybe the silliest shows on television. (Although.. it does look like it could win an Oscar next to the Proposal- ew, that show– awful. Do not even get me started!).

Tuesday morning, the 12th, I tried my first Orange Theory class!!! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I used the arm band for the first one, so I don’t think it was accurate- but it a fantastic workout. I don’t think I’ll stick to the courses because it’s very similar to Insanity (with the HITT routine) that I already do. But every once in a while with some friends it would be fun!

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Almost every night this last couple weeks (That DJ doesn’t have a game of course), Deej and I have been going on evening walks after dinner. This has been one of my favorite parts of the day. We used to take walks often when we lived in Indiana, but have just been so on the go since moving here. It’s been great to have that time together to chat, unwind, and reconnect.

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Wednesday, the 13th,  I did Insanity then realized a new Handmaid Tale episode was out on Hulu. To Peet’s we go with popcorn in tow!

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After, I rounded up our groceries for the week from TJ’s and did some meal prep the rest of the day. In afternoon I started the book, “Behind Closed Doors”. It’s a difficult read from a content perspective, but goodness I could not put it down. Has anyone read it?

Thursday morning, the 14th, I made the same avocado toast that I’ve been having every morning while enjoying it out on my balcony. It has a slice of seeded bread, 2 TBSP hummus, 1/2 avocado, and pink himalayan salt and pepper. I think I’ll be on this kick for a while.

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I went for a run, although somehow I think a sweat bee got caught in my mouth and stung me or something. I was okay, but it was a bit of a shock and hurt! I don’t even know how that happened, lol, but the bee season is in full swing right now. I then was proceeded to be chased by killer crows on the last rung of my run. They followed me about 1/4 mile even when I changed direction and then started flying in front of my face. It was so scary!!! I dove across four lanes of traffic and finally lost them. (A few days later, I heard on the radio this is a thing in Canada!). Mack vs. Nature- 0-2.

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I then caught up on e-mails, laundry, etc.

One of the meals I meal prepped for the week was salmon, broccoli, wild black rice, and ciabatta bread from Trader Joe’s! We gobbled this up for dinner.

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Friday I headed to my first Bar experience!! I had heard about Barre3 from Kori, and when my friend invited me to try The Bar Method, I jumped on it. I think there are some differences between those two- but generally the same idea.

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The boutique was immaculate, quiet, and adorably decorated.

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So my thoughts on bar: I’m such a cardio junkie- so this was a fantastic new challenge for me! I loved how much they focused on strength through micro-movements. It was a workout unlike anything I’d ever done before. I still don’t know that I can totally depart from my cardio- but I would love to incorporate the idea of focusing on such specific muscles into my normal workout regimen more. No wonder Kori & Kaci (Kori’s twin) have the most perfectly toned arms!!

The rest of the day Sara, my friend, and I went back to her house to binge watch our show & snack.

In the evening I headed to Harry Potter Night to watch the San Jose Giants play!

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They went alll out for this! When you enter the gates, they give you a ticket and sort you into a house. Despite the long debate DJ and I had in our kitchen about which house we would be in, I was sorted into Gryffindor! (The sorting hat at Warner Bros said Gryffindor too, sooooo).

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If I had to sort myself I think I’d be in Ravenclaw. Which house are you?!

They even sold Butterbeer from a local brewery (It was basically cream soda, mmm mm!).

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I just LOVE minor league games, especially at Muni. The food is irresistible and the environment is pure fun and excitement.

I recorded on video the House Race on broomsticks, and this poor little man ate it. I felt bad, but I couldn’t help from laughing.

Saturday morning, the 16th, I was craving a soft boiled egg over my toast. I went through FIVE eggs to try to get one that didn’t break right when I was taking off the shell. Well…..

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I overcooked it when I finally thought I had it right. Haha. What are your tricks for a perfect soft boiled egg that’s a bit runny?!

I ended up just going with a normal over medium fried egg.

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Yum, yum!

I went for a calming long walk, listened to a podcast, chatted on the phone, and then during my mid-stride bliss, I was pooped on by a bird. Not the first time this has happened, probably not the last. After taking a THOROUGH shower and washing all my clothes, I then got to work posting tons of things on Poshmark and Ebay that I’ve been wanting to post for a while.

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These are all the clothes I have left (minus workout clothes/pants that are in my dresser). I feel lighter having narrowed it down to clothes I actually wear (considering I wear the same like five outfits in rotation- ha). DJ had to work the weekend, but was home Saturday night for dinner.

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We improvised with the little bit of salmon we had left, rice, and them a tomato soup from trader Joe’s with tortilla strips.

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Sunday the 17th was Father’s Day. It was a hard day- just missing my Dad and DJ had to be at work so I did feel a bit lonely. I went on a long walk in the afternoon and called my step dad, Pete, and my grandpa which turned my mood right around. I’m so excited to see them in about a month! I continued to spend the rest of the day spring cleaning and posting to Ebay/Poshmark.

Monday the 18th- Wednesday the 20th I spent the days shopping. Ok, that probably sounds wonderful to most of you, but not for me! I hate shopping (especially when I need something). I get in the mood maybe once a year for like five minutes when I actually want to shop. This was not one of those times. I needed to find a dress for a wedding we have next weekend and also was hoping to find something to wear for fourth of July. I struck out everywhere, leaving each place empty handed.

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^ I mean, this is what I’m working with… (although the dress alone is pretty cute!).

I did enjoy seeing the massive gorgeous Anthropologie at Stanford Mall.

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Since I couldn’t find a single thing, to online shopping we go (I must clarify- I do LOVEEE online shopping! I’m still a female, ya know?).

Tuesday evening, the 19th, we headed to DJ’s Dad’s to celebrate Father’s Day and to say goodbye (They are moving back to Ohio). It was bittersweet, but I’m glad we had one last hurrah before we saw them go.

Yesterday morning the 20th, I had the best cosmetologist (in my book) at Limon Salon work some serious magic on my damaged hair (part 2)… part one is in the previous recap where she had to work my hair out of the awful highlights.

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Last evening, I made a big crockpot chicken and veggie slow cooked meal that made the house smell magical. I am going to try to make meals in the next couple weeks that we can freeze for when things pick up here soon.

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I’m now sitting at Peet’s (imagine that) and then heading to a work dinner with DJ’s coworkers tonight. Woohoo!

How are your weeks going? If you know how to make a soft boiled egg, please help your girl out!

xo <3

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Celebrations & A Half Moon Bay Day Trip :)

Hello all mack-mareaders (see what I did there?!). Right off the bat I want to say a heartfelt thank you for your response to my last post. I can’t tell you how encouraging this community is- you all have lifted my spirits through this grueling past year, and I am deeply thankful for each of you <3

Once again I have left myself with a good deal of catch up! Starting with us arriving back from Portland. You may remember the travel map DJ gifted me for Christmas…. we were able to add a Portland pin to it! Cause if you liked it then you shoulda put a pin on it. 

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When we returned, we worked hard through the rest of the week then into that weekend (May 26-27), my last weekend on this unit :(. While I am SO excited to finally have my Sundays back with my Church family- I had developed another family. Our weekend crew was the same every weekend so we all grew super close. I especially had a special bond with my work moms. There were two ladies who took me under their wing, mentored me unofficially, and helped me figure out the next step when I thought I was at a dead end. I didn’t expect to get too emotional until the very last day, but as I was telling one of my work moms- Mia (I called her Momma Mia) we both started crying. Ah, I will miss them, I already do. We had a cute little weekend potluck that Sunday.

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I spent the next few days catching up on house chores, laundry, etc. from our Portland trip and recapping the trip on the blog. On Wednesday I went to Trader Joe’s to stock up on goodies for my last day to take in to thank everyone for all their help this year. I seriously wish I had known about the magic of TJ for all these years….. they just have EVERYTHING. And we have cut down significantly on our shopping budget since shopping there!

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And then June 1st… my last day came… <3 It was hard to believe this was the last time (for now) that I’d be walking through these doors.

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When I came home, DJ was still at work, but this was waiting for me on the counter..

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It warmed my heart- so thoughtful! He left the sweetest card and a compass path candle. He’s a good one, I’ll tell ya what….

Saturday, June 2nd, I woke up early to get some hair did. Guys.. my roots were SO bad. They have never been this bad before. I’d include a picture of the before but I think I’d scare you.

Needless to say… I was pretty excited once those sons of a guns were touched up. (For my blondies out there- I started doing balayage last year instead of highlights. It lasts way longer and looks more natural. Well, the last time I had my hair done before the cruise, my regular stylist wasn’t available so I took whoever was available- she insisted on re-highlighting my hair, but I recognized the roots way sooner and missed the natural balayage feel. <– That sentence was about as long of a run on as my roots were). What is your preference? Highlights? Balayage?

 

 

In the evening, my friend Sara came over to celebrate my completion of the program and starting this new journey with school. We pulled out all. the. snacks.

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We watched a new show and paused intermittently to chat at times. Love girl time!

On Sunday the 3rd, we had an eventful day! DJ had a busy morning at the stadium and then we whipped down to Oracle for Game 2 of the Finals!

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Goooo Cavs!!!! Our blatant support of the Cavs caused quite the ruckus. No worries friends & fam- we held down the fort.

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After, we crossed over the Bay bridge into SF to get dinner with a couple of our friends.

I can’t actually remember crossing the Bay Bridge before, and oh myyyy was it ever beautiful all lit up!

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The sun set added such a warmth to the evening. I had never been in SF on a weekday night (well, going into a weekday night), and the quietness of the city mixed with the setting sun and twinkling lights was almost romantic. It gave me a new appreciation for my already favorite city <3

It was an unforgettable day with great memories and friends.

On the following Monday the 4th, I was running errands near DJ’s stadium, and he said he was heading to lunch if I wanted to join. It was fun to have the freedom to pop in and even though I’d already eaten it was fun to just sit and recount the game with him spur of the moment.

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DJ loved the habit burger and says their chocolate malts are one of his favorites.

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In the evening, we watched Bachelorette together. Anyone watch? Any thoughts? I was excited for this season, but so far I feel like it’s a bit of a snooze fest (I guess they always are in the beginning, aren’t they?).

Tuesday the morning of the 5th,  I grabbed breakfast with my friend Danielle whom I haven’t seen in FOREVER.

We met in downtown San Jose on South First at Social Policy.

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As I walked around, I found a new appreciation for downtown San Jose… it was looking extra colorful and bright this morning. It’s funny how sometimes we can forget to be a tourist in our own town. I’m going to make a more concerted effort to explore SJ this summer.

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The line for SoPo was out the door even on a Tuesday morning. It was well worth the wait!

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I had a cafe au lait with their house-made almond milk and their avocado smash (best avocado toast I’ve ever had).

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I’m on an strong avocado kick right now.

The rest of the day I spent cleaning up my e-mails, making a giant to-do list for the summer, enjoying a nice run outside, then meal prepping.

Wednesday, oh our dear Wednesday, the 6th, we watched the Cavs lose in the Finals 🙁 But we had some spicy sriracha green beans from The Habit to help mitigate the pain.

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Thursday, the 7th, I spent the day running, reading, blogging and sipping a cafe au lait at Peet’s while watching some Hulu… I may have also taken the popcorn with me in a ziplock container to Peet’s… people probably were slightly confused, but Peet’s is my second home after all.

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Friday the 8th, I pulled the trigger on an idea I’ve had for a while. OK, this is so silly, but I have so many food pictures from this blog that I wanted to compile into one place. I figured why not create an Instagram where I can just store them (and use puns to my heart’s content)? I always want to post them on my personal insta, but I feel like I would just be spamming all my friends and fam.. This is going to be my little creative outlet (besides this blog of course).

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Please leave your Instagram handle below so I can follow you there!

Saturday, the 9th, we went to Half Moon Bay for my first time (DJ had been once before).

It was chilly out- in the low 60s- and for me that’s winter, hence the winter jacket. Yes, I know, we have grown soft. Our midwest skins would be disappointed in us.

Half Moon Bay is a sleepy little beach town, so quiet, serene, and surprisingly full of history.

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We walked along the beach for a while, then the coastal trail.

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We wondered along downtown hand in hand, soaking up the lazy afternoon, peeking into family owned shops, and letting our conversations wonder aimlessly as we were.

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With the bitter chill in the air (lol, I’m so dramatic), I was craving a hot coffee. We stopped by The Cafe Society, a quaint little coffee shop/jazz bar- how fun is that?! I grabbed an americano with steamed almond milk, then we headed back into the tundra. Baha.

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The colors just popped, each storefront was lovingly decorated with intricate details.

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We passed a Tom & Pete’s- I realized I’d seen this place before but couldn’t remember where exactly… then it hit me! It was the truck located at the pumpkin patch we went to a couple years ago.

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We also noticed this Jail that was built in 1911. It looked like there was a tour going on. The jail pushed up against the mountains looked like something out of a storybook.

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Before heading back, we were not about to miss an opportunity to go to Sam’s Chowder House!

 

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I saw they had a seaweed salad on the menu, and it sounded just perfectly refreshing! Love my seaweed.

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I opted to try their raw oyster bar- with 2 oysters, 2 clams, and 2 shrimp. When I ordered it DJ goes, “You don’t even like oysters”… and I longingly said, “But I wannnnt to like them”. And guess what! I really enjoyed these oysters! I actually enjoyed them even more then the clams, which says something, cause I love clams.

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DJ of course had their lobster roll (their go-to menu item that is just insanely delicious), and I snuck more than a few bites.

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Still convinced this is one of the best restaurants the Bay has to offer. If you want ridiculously fresh seafood- this is it.

Yesterday I was able to go back to Church for the first time in a while, and it was soooo nice. I then caught up with my friend Tammy after at Cafe San Jose.

I’m putting together a master summer bucket list for the SJ/SF/Oakland area- so if you have been PLEASE share with me your favorite place to eat, things to do, etc. (No worries, Kate, Capo’s is on the list hehe!).

Have a fabulous week, everyone 🙂

xo <3

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Eating Our Way Through Portland Part Three!

Hey y’all!! Oh man, I am getting these posts up at a snail’s pace. Ever since we’ve came back from Portland things have just been go go go! But alas, I finally bring us to our last installment of our Portland trip. Here are part one and part two.

We started out the last day of our trip venturing into Blue Star Donuts. Now, most people have heard that Voodoo donuts is the place to go when in Portland- but there is an ongoing debate among locals whether Blue Star or Voodoo is better. Jay insisted that we had to try Blue Star, and we were not about to argue with a local Portland donut savant.

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The flavors to choose from are the most unusual donut flavors I have ever seen….

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Donut you just want to try them all?!

I sampled the blueberry bourbon basil, lemon poppyseed, and the peanut butter and jelly.

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My favorite was either the lemon poppyseed- best lemon poppy ever, but the stellar unique deliciousness of the blueberry bourbon basil was unlike any donut I’ve ever had. It is a MUST try. The PB & J was excellent too- but I did prefer the other two more.

Deej tried the chocolate, blueberry cake, and glazed original. Not on bite was left! Jay had a maple bacon, one of their staples.

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But the ultimate question is- did you even go to Portland if you didn’t get a picture of the Keep Portland Weird sign?! Voodoo donuts is located right across the street, and it looked like a zoo. The line was wrapped entirely around the building, and we all agreed me made the right choice by hitting up Blue Star instead. (Next time we will try Voodoo to compare 😉 ).

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PAUL BUNYAN ALL!

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While stopping by the PB statue, I noticed a bunch of tents popping up and my farmer’s market senses were tingling. I cannot resist a Farmer’s market walk by. The boys graciously stopped by with me.

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CHANNEL THE FLANNEL Y’ALL! There was a local school parade we happened to watch going through the Farmer’s market. We laughed because we were probably the only one’s there that early in the morning that didn’t know a single person in the parade.

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I won this Yerba Mate at one of the cute little stands with a spin the wheel for a prize.

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After, we decided to head to Cascade Brewing House– the House of Sour! Sour Beer is my and DJ’s favorite- so naturally we had to try this place.

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After the yum of the pretzel from Deschutes, we all agreed we were up to split another!

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It wasn’t on the same level as Deschutes, and we didn’t prefer many of the beers. Maybe we didn’t get the right ones, but definitely would suggest going to Deschutes before Cascade.

We walked around downtown after near the Pioneer Courthouse and some side streets.

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We were pretty hungry again so we went to the ultimate food truck destination! Here is the address: 1207 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214. It’s a non-negosh if you go to Portland– you have to try one of these food trucks!

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They had asian fusion, Egyptian, BBQ, pizza, Mexican, and the one we opted for…

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Drummmmroolllll

Potato champion! An actual meal served over fries.

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So, I didn’t realize every single thing on the menu was over fries. I ordered the palak paneer fries and then the veggie korma thinking the korma was a wrap for some reason. In reality I had just walked up and confidently ordered two large orders of fries. The guy was probably like, “oook you do you boo booo…” The guys ordered the poutine fries and a burger to split from a nearby truck.

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Fries on fries on the sun’s in my eyeeees. This was the first time the sun came out, and I think it was a sign. The beams of light came through the clouds, illuminating this meal like it was sacred. Amen amen. (ok that’s a bit dramatic, but you can’t judge until you’ve tried this heavenly goodness).

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Gosh, did I mention these fries were good 😉 It was one of those times that I was like, no way I’m gonna make a dent in all this… but it was addictively delicious “Just one last bite” for about fifty more bites. Tehe.

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Now this burger, from Bottle Rocket, was burger perfection, simply amoozing. Wow, I am in rare form today. 😉  DJ was raving so much about it that I had to try it. Holy. stinking. smokes. I don’t know if I’ve ever tried a better burger. With the sun shinin’, the awesome energy, the upbeat yet relaxed atmosphere…this little pitstop is a great place to Ketchup with some friends.

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We went back to the hotel, took a long nap, then got ready for dinner.

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Diva Shot.

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DJ and I had a bit of time to kill before dinner and if we opted for the “Green clean” (so no housekeeping), we received a 15 dollar credit to use for room service or at Urban Farmer, the other restaurant within our hotel.

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These are pictures from the gorgeous sitting area you pass through to get to Urban Farmer.

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I absolutely adored the decor at Urban Farmer. It was rustic, chic, and soft. It was the perfect ambiance. To my CLE fam- there is one in Cleveland!! There are also locations in Philly and Denver.

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DJ and I tried Oysters one time and weren’t huge fans. But like with anything- you have to give something a few goes before you make a final decision on whether you like them. We decided to order a few. They were fine, but we both agreed we would just rather have a shrimp cocktail or another appetizer over oysters.

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We walked a couple blocks to meet up with Jay and Carly (Jay’s girlfriend) for dinner at Portland City Grill!

Gotta Keep Portland Weird, ya know!?

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Portland City Grill is on the 30th floor (chant with me.. views, views, views!!!)

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It was a beautiful evening, so we were able to see the mountains clearly!

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Portland City Grill is pretty darn expensive, but on Sundays they have a happy hour menu alll day. This means we were able to try a few dishes at half the price- they were just exquisite.

We started with some house salads and then the crab cakes. *insert drooling emoji here*.

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Then the asian spring rolls…mmm! I haven’t had these in a while. I used to make them all the time, and this inspired me to whip out my personal recipe to start making them this summer.

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Next on deck, fish n’ chips. Best . fish n’ chips. ever.

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We didn’t skip out on desserts. And we had a sweeet tooth! This beauty below is a lemon chiffon cake with layers of Lemon Chiffon Cake & Raspberry Gelée, Candied Almonds, Limoncello & Poppy Seed Ice Cream.

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And this magic morsel… the marbled black forest cheesecake with poached cherries, a chocolate cookie crust, and whipped cream. I don’t even need to mention how fantastic this was.

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The crew! (and a photo bomber)

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In the morning we headed straight to the airport, saying goodbye to an unforgettable few days filled with amazing memories.

Really quick… for travel posts I like to give super honest reviews of where we stay. If we had to recommend The Nines to someone we agreed we probably would not recommend it. I know this is shocking considering how beautiful and centrally located it is. It was very nice, but a few things fell a bit subpar for the cost. There was no coffee in the room- only out in the lobby (coffee in the room is a must for me, that darn mini coffee maker in most hotels is usually my favorite part of a stay, lol), the bartender at Urban Farmer was the rudest human being we have ever interacted with (we were flabbergasted at the interaction we had, absurdity at its finest), we never ended up getting that $15 dollar comp that we were promised (And never received housekeeping because of that, which is fine- but we were looking forward to getting the oysters comped), there is no pool/hot-tub, we were awoken by our neighbors at three in the morning and had a hard time sleeping with how loud they were, and the cost for what it is just wasn’t worth it in our opinion. We have had just as great if not better stays at places that cost way less. If you visit Portland, I’d recommend visiting the hotel, maybe going to Departure for some great views or Urban Farmer for the ambiance (just don’t sit at the bar in case you get that bartender haha), but don’t stay.

When we arrived at the airport I had to try the famous Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Their coffee was so strong, a bit bitter, a bit too much for me but I see how people would like it!

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Byyyyyeeee Portland <3 Thanks for the memories! Until next time!

xo <3

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Eating Our Way Through Portland Part Two!

Hey hey! I just had such a productive day, feelin’ like buzzing bee day where I saw my to-do list just dissolve before my very eyes. (edit: I was feeling that way two days ago when I started this post, no longer do I feel that way!). Lol. Anywayyyyys, we are NOT here to talk about today, we are here to talk about.. well quite a few days ago…. aka over a week ago….

SO let’s get to it, eh?!

Part One Portland is here in case you missed it.

We left off nomming down on Pine State Biscuits. After finishing up the breakfast of the century, we headed to Multnomah Falls.

The drive alone provided breath taking views. We cruised along the Columbia River Gorge taking in the deep green vastness, practically illuminated against the charcoal skies.

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We were planning on doing the hike up to Multnomah Falls, but the entry to the hike (a few miles past the viewing area) was closed due to the awful fire that happened last year. One of my patients actually warned me about this before going, and he was right! It was still a bit of a mess.

We turned the car around to head back to the viewing point. To our nice surprise at the turnoff, we were greeted by a portion of the Historic Oregon Trail! Love it when detours turn into destinations.

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We found a place we could snag some pictures in front of the falls without doing the hike. It worked out pretty beautifully that the hike was closed off because we were able to fit in so much more the rest of the day than we even planned.

One path closes, another one opens!

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The boyssss.

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The Majestic Multnomah Falls!!! The pictures can’t do them even a bit of justice.

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After hitting up the Falls we went to the Vista House overlook. There is a pretty cool history you can read about here for all you history buffs.

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These views!

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Contemplative…

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But not for long!

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After taking the views in at the Vista House, we headed to Washington Park.

We drove down a long winding road to find the park. It was like a scene from Alice in Wonderland, with roses accompanying each turn of the drive.

Something I didn’t expect, but adored, were the pastel colored homes ascending up the hill. It reminded me of a more spaced out SF. Squish in about fifty more houses, and we’d feel right at home!

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And time for the blooms in the Rose Garden! They weren’t even “in season” and yet everything still was gorgeous!

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After touring the Gardens, we went to downtown Portland to explore the Pearl District- a cultured, artsy, and heavily foodie laden area!

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We grabbed some coffee at Caffe Umbria, then continued exploring. This little coffee shop was so doggone cute.

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One of the places I had been dying to see was Powell’s Books- the largest Used & New bookstore in the world.

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It was MASSIVE. I could have spent hours upon hours in there. Gosh, I loveddd it!

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After Powell’s we walked around a bit more then passed through Providence Park.

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I couldn’t believe how large and PACKED the stadium was.

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And again.. the art never ceased to amuse!

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Since we were in a place known for their Breweries, one of the bullet points on our list was a “good Brewery”….. good thing Jay is a local and doesn’t know just a good brewery, but the best brewery!

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Deshutes had a long wait in the middle of the afternoon— and reason being- it’s amazing.

We started with a pretzel and it was the single greatest soft pretzel maybe I’ve ever had (except I’m forever a sucker of Auntie Anne’s). But this is just different, ya know?

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And we tried some fantastic beers to go along with it. DJ and I aren’t big “beer” people, but when in Rome. With the pretzel and the atmosphere, it all was fun to sample and actually pick up on the different flavors.

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Jay took us to a “locals” spot up a mountain to get panoramic views of the city! I couldn’t capture them with my phone, but gosh, they were awesome. It reminded me of the Twin Peaks in SF.

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On this little stone structure there are plaques that whichever plaque you stand in front of, if you look into the distance, that is the exact mountain you are viewing. Pahrettty neat!

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Believe it or not… at this point in the afternoon we definitely had worked up a real appetite. We decided to have a “snack”… aka a large 3:00 pm afternoon meal that we are calling a snack because in lieu of how much we ate on this trip, it really was just a snack. We went to a food truck stop that had a food truck for absolutely anyone- Indian to Vegan to Mediterranean to American to Mexican cuisine to etc. etc.- EVERYTHING.

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A place on my list was Viking Soul Food. When researching must have food trucks, this was on the list! It is Scandinavian food, which I have never even heard of before.

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The main thing they are known for is their lefse which is a Norwegian style potato flatbread, handmade daily. It is like a crepe, yet more savory. Hellooooo deliciousnesss.

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I tried their “Ocean Booty” with shrimp, aioli, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and almonds wrapped in the lefse. It was delicious, and perfectly light for the afternoon.

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DJ and Jay decided to try Herb’s Mac & Cheese. Jay had their Pulled Pork and DJ had their jalapeno mac and cheese.

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I had a bite of this magic and goodness gracious- it was maybe some of the best macaroni I have ever tasted. My mouth is watering looking at this picture again!

img_4596Time for one of the biggest HIGHLIGHTS of the weekend!!!

After we came back, we had a couple hours before we had dinner (yes, dinner, yet another meal so soon) planned with Jay and his girlfriend. On a total whim, I messaged Rossy from ayrgalaxy to see if she was maybe able to meet up. She was able to stop by with her husband Alex and her adorable, seriously cutest little man in the world, Ciel, to visit for a few minutes.

Y’all. Ok, where to begin? Rossy is the kindest, most down to earth, and beautiful person! Seriously- I know this will be hard to believe, but she is even more gorgeous in person! DJ and I had such a blast talking with her and Alex. They both are just the easiest people to talk to. Oh, and Ciel is just the most precious, gooodnesss gracious! Seeing Rossy interact with him and hold him gave me baby fever- she is such a good momma. I was so thankful they took the time out of their day (and go so out of their way) to stop by, it was the sweetest and seriously made the weekend.

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When walking with DJ to dinner after I kept saying, “Ugh! I wish we all lived closer so we could hangout more!”. But I am brainwashing them to visit SF for a double date, soooo stay tuned.

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We arrived at Masu sushi on foot after about only 10 minutes.

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Best. Sushi. Of. Our. Lives.

This is a must try if you go to Portland. Everything from the PERFECT ambiance, to the presentation of the food, to the TASTE (the most important).

Of course, I will simply adamantly suggest what to order so you have the most wonderful experience.

First, they bring you out complimentary edamame, sooooo yum!

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You have to start with the calamari. We savored every bit of the calamari. It isn’t the traditional fried calamari, but rather lightly breaded, but the calamari pieces are thick rather than stringy. The calamari was so juicy and without all the fried breading the flavor made quite the statement.

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Next, the Pearl with shrimp tempura, avocado, and crab topped with spicy tuna and sweet chili sauce is up. We also had a couple pieces of Kani Dungess crab to share.

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Next up was the Japanista– spicy crab, spicy tuna and kawaire with seared hamachi, cilantro and red jalapeno on top served with our hana and sweet chili sauce. YUM.

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And the best of all- St. Helen’s Volcano– whitefish, crab, scallops, shrimp and avocado baked with our volcano cream sauce, eel sauce and smoked bonito. It was flame. Literally.

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Jay, DJ, and I had been talking earlier that day about how we’d never been to Melting Pot. Jay surprised us by taking us here for dessert.

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The guys split a dish, and the gals split a dish. Y’all. How have I never had this magic before?!? My sweet tooth was terribly satisfied, and yet- I felt like I could have polished off a whole other plate. It was too dang good- the oreo crusted marshmallow and the brownies were my favorite.

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We parted ways with Jay and Carly (Jay’s girlfriend) after, excited to meet up again the next day. DJ and I headed to Departure, one of the restaurants in our hotel. We soaked up the views and just enjoyed one another’s company for a few minutes. It actually reminded us quite a bit of San Diego. We didn’t last long after getting up so early, so we headed to sleep fairly quickly.

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This was an unforgettable day. All the fun with great friends and great food- two of lives true treasures. Believe it or not there will be a part Three… one day probably next week, Haha. Y’all know I suck at blogging in a timely manner. Too late for new years resolutions (maybe I’ll just call it an early resolution and say I’m ahead of the game 😉 )?

Also- if you’ve ever been to Portland I’d love to hear your suggestions, favorite memories, anything at all!

xo <3

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Plants & Face-Plants.

Hey guys!!! I just finished up food prepping for work and am sitting back eating my usual giant summer salad. I’m pretty excited to write this update because there have been some fun happenins the last couple weeks.

April 21st I headed back to work. I forgot my lunch *sad face*, but discovered this gem in our hospital cafeteria instead. I always pack my lunch because we barely have time for our breaks so running to the cafeteria and back doesn’t make sense… plus it’s wayy more cost effective to pack. Anyway, this little gem is from Urban Remedy. Oh me oh my, so delish! If you see this out and about, snatch one! This bowl had quinoa, roasted sweet potatoe, cumin, himalayan pink salt, chickpea croutons, pumpkin seeds, and beets with tahini dressing. Lemme tell ya, a nurses lunch break is the most sacred, best part of the day (if they get it). Haha.

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April 23rd was a little “sandwich” day (a day off shift between a stretch of shifts), so basically my day consisted of sleeping and snacking.

DJ and I have been using Freshly to fill in a couple meals here with the couple codes they have for the first couple boxes. They have a southwestern bowl that I like combining with other foods- this combo was mmm mmm goood. I’m really feeling a quinoa kick lately. It just goes with everything!

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Also, from TJ’s I have started getting pickled beets and dolmas that I love combining with hummus and tofu and a slice of Dave’s Killer bread. The combo itself is killer 😉

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In the afternoon I went on a nice little jog to soak up some beautiful sun & blooms.

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The other kick I’m on is a purple sweet potato stuffed with avocado and Fage yogurt topped with cumin, paprika, Himalayan salt, and cayenne.

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After working the 24th, I came home starvin’ marvin’. I decided to whip up a makeshift pizza with the ingredients we had since all the pizza shops were closed. I made “naan” pizza with tandoori naan, tomato basil pasta sauce, sautéed veggies, and red pepper flakes (with of course some ranch… anyone else like ranch with their za?). My midwest is showing…

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And finally…. a moment to breathe for a bit on April 25th! I slept in and spent the morning cleaning up, catching up on emails, getting requirements done for grad school, yadayadayada. In the afternoon I had garlic and herb shrimp from Freshly over kale.

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On April 26th, I met up with my friend from work, Alexandra, for coffee at Voyager Craft Coffee in San Jose.

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Such an interesting place! I’m surprised I haven’t been here before now.

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The coffee and conversation were fantastic. I’ll definitely be back here for a pick-me-up!

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The sweet potato combo made another debut that afternoon.

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April 27th I woke up early and jogged my standard route and took note at how every single time I run there seem to be new flowers in bloom!

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I spent the day meal prepping again, and then had my standard massive salad for dinner. (carrots/bean burger/hummus/onions/mushrooms/power blend greens/avocado with green goddess dressing).

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The weekend at work was rough, rough, rough. Usually weekends are a respite from the craziness, but for some reason this one was ruthless. Needless to say, I was excited a couple days off. April 30th, I woke up with a twist on my sweet potato creation and instead did put yogurt & avocado over a rice cake.

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The rest of the day was spent getting Mother’s Day gifts, perusing the shops in Los Gatos, & making a bucket list for places to visit, hike, and eat in SF! I am determined to knock a bunch out this summer.

May 1st (how is it May already?!) I met my friend, Kim, at Cafe San Jose for brunchy food. Kim is also a nurse so it’s always a big breath of fresh air talking to someone who just “gets it”, ya know?

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This place is quite eclectic!

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I’ve been wanting to try this breakfast joint for foreeveeer. It had the best Yelp ratings and lived up to, no no surpassssed, the hype.

To start, I ordered an egg white veggie omelette… and oh. my. goodness…. this was the largest omelette I have ever seen. IT WAS HUGE (wait until you see it relative to the rest of the food in a couple pics).

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I also had read that trying their Swedish pancakes with ligonberry was a must. And I saw why… this was perfectly, perfectly cooked. The pancake was light, the buttery and fruity flavor tremendous…. one of the best breakfast morsels of all time. I am taking DJ back here ASAP to try this dish.

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In the afternoon I went for a nice long run.

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In the evening I made a Blue Apron meal- Mexico City Chicken Tinga Tostadas. DJ loved them! Can never go wrong with a Blue Apron meal (although I tend to make quite a mess when cooking up a storm).

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May 2nd was the last day off before another stretch of days. The day before going back to work I tend to get pretty down and feel anxious the whole day. (Sunday Scaries some might say…. but it could be any day of the week with a nursing schedule). I usually just meal prep and try to stay preoccupied with cleaning and what not. This day I was feeling extra anxious after such a horrible weekend….I had to do something to get me out of my funk, so I pulled out my SF Bucket List and tried to find something I could knock out in a couple hours. I decided to put the food prep on hold and get myself heck out of the house.

I got in my car, made sure I had enough gas in the tank, opened the sun-roof, rolled down the windows, blasted music teenage style and drove into the city.

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First stop was Twin Peaks. This overlook promises the best views of SF.

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After driving up a winding road, I parked with no problem (which is rare in SF) at the bottom of one of the peaks (there are two next to each other- hence twin peaks).

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It was FREEZING up there and so windy. I thought I was going to fly off the peak, lol. I held onto my hat and made the trek up the stairs.

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It was worth it. It provided a 360 degree view from the top. (and provided sub zero degree temps!) (Ok that’s dramatic, but it was chilly chilly!).

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After appreciating the majesty of the peaks, I headed to my next spot: The Sutro Baths.

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I didn’t think I’d been to the Sutro Baths before, but I actually had… with my friend Annie! There is a fascinating history behind them you can read here. They are situated right next to Lands End, one of my all time favorite hiking spots.

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I popped in my headphones and listened to a podcast while making the SF oasis my playground.

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In this moment when I took this picture, I embraced the warm sun beating down, had this view in front of me, and took a deep breath. I felt peace, just peace. The anxiety of going back to work dissipated for this brief moment in time.

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I came back home, feeling much refreshed, and food prepped with whatever groceries we had leftover. I made a stuffed sweet potato with leftover southwestern bowl and cottage cheese from breakfast at Cafe San Jose.

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I also prepped the second half my omelette with cottage cheese, southwestern bowl, and avocado.

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The next couple work days went well. I needed a bit of a break from the insanity that had been my last few shifts.

And this brings us to May 5th… you know what that means!! CINCO DE MAYO!!! I love an excuse for Mexican food. Can I get an Amen?!

I went on an easy run early in the morning, but suffered a nice little fall. I tripped literally over my own two feet. I fall far too often when I run. Unfortunately, this was not going to be my last tumble for the weekend…. stay tuned…

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I quickly forgot about the horrible fall as I got ready to hang out with two of my favorite people- Amy, DJ’s twin and my friend Sara y’all may remember from several blog posts.

We decided to go to Aqui, basically a Cal-Mex Panera. We had Aqui-perfected Mexican eats and drinks, awesome conversation, and plenty of laughs.

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Their veggie quesadillas were by far my favorite dish I’ve had there (which says a lot because I love all their dishes).

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When we caught the Cavs game on a TV in the restaurant, we glued ourself to the game for the last few minutes. When Lebron made that game winning shot, Amy and I did not hide our excitement. Have to represent the CLE in the CA! GOOO CAVS!

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After an unforgettable time, we went to Target to pick up sweets and went back to our apartment to watch The Sinner to wrap up the evening (woah, this show is twisted, but I love it. It’s giving off major Girl on the Train vibes).

Sunday, May 6th, I woke up bright and early to run a half marathon with Coastal Trail Runs, this one was called the Horseshoe Lake Trail Run. I ran a Coastal Train run last year and it was extraordinarily challenging because you run up a mountain essentially. I love them though because they are a great way to get some phenomenal views and have a nice long run on trails I would never dare to go on my own.

I LOVE races. Nothing puts me in a better mood. The look of pure excited anticipation.

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Now, I have to say…before the race I did think I was going to get murdered. I went on an emotional marathon before the race even began. The GPS took me up a tortuous road on a random mountain. Upon the Alexa-wannabe GPS robo-lady announcing, “you have arrived”, I found myself in the middle of nowhere. No other cars, people, or gu stations were in sight. I didn’t know what to do, especially because I didn’t have cell service.

Finally, a car slowly approached my isolated destination and I could make out a mid thirties guy with a neon shirt on, snacking on what looked like trailmix- I put my bet on the fact that he was a runner. I mean I had to be close to the start, right? I waved him down from my driver’s side and he rolled his window down. I asked if he was going to the race. In a British accent, he confirmed he was and told me to follow him but warned me the following road was treacherous. We started on a dirt road that was narrow, and I’m pretty confident would not allow two cars going in both directions. What if another car comes? I thought to myself. One wrong move, you are over the mountain. After ten minutes I found myself deeper and deeper into the mountain, the fog thickening, and my personal plot thickening. Christmas tree farms were on either side, with their Christmas decor still on full display. The smiling dirt dusted snowmen didn’t fill me with joy, but rather terror. This was the stuff of horror films.

At this point I was confident that this man was just leading my back to some obscure location to be murdered. I tried calling DJ, but the call immediately dropped. I didn’t know what to do, then he finally pulled over to the side of the road. I barely cracked my window as he got out of his car and ran back to me. He said, “You should be OK now, just take this road straight for another 20 minutes, I’m going to step on it so I’m not late”.

Another 20 minutes?! It was already 7:20…. the race started at 8:00. What the….. ? I thanked him, and he took off and left me literally in the dust. I drove at a more legal speed down the road, and finally, at 7:50 arrived at Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve, the starting point. They may want to update their online directions. Baha.

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After racing to the porta-potties, I sprinted to the start as the gun went off.

The race was horribly bottle-necked for the first couple miles, but evened out after a bit. I was awe-struck by the views, worth the 1800 feet ascent.

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I did have another fall at about mile 9. Whoooops! I can’t seem to stay on my own two feet. At the finish as DJ greeted me with a big hug, he just said, “Again?!” as he surveyed my dirt covered face, hands, and knees. Lol.

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And the best part of races….. the post race snacks!

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When I say I ate dirt, I literally ate dirt. I caught my body with my face. Haha.. I knocked the wind out of myself, so my chest still kinda hurts when I cough or turn in weird directions too. I find the whole thing pretty hilarious. Before this weekend I had gone quite a while without falling, so I was due for a good tumble.

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**WARNING: Graphic image to follow**

My knee is struggling though for sure…. not sure how I’m gonna be on it for 12 hours tomorrow.

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I ended up in 4th in my age group. After the race, DJ and I headed to Bill’s Cafe (our favorite), that now has a location within walking distance of our apartment. WOOHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

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I had a massive breakfast of my go-to French Garden omelette and a Bill’s Mimosa.

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DJ had their scrumptious crab Benedict. (Their home-fries and potatoes are the besttttt around too).

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Last evening, we headed to DJ’s family’s for some yummy grilled food & great chats. We also started a documentary called Wild Wild Country on Netflix. It’s already super fascinating after one episode. Has anyone watched it?!? Thanks for hanging in there for this looooooong post. How are you?!

xo <3

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Friday Favorites #11!

Hey y’all! I feel super behind on blogging! Soo many awesome things have happened before and after the cruise, but I’ve been so busy and barely could get those vacay posts out alone. So stay tuned for recaps that are about three weeks late, lol, okay maybe four weeks honestly. But for now- I am quite excited to share a Friday Faves with ya!

  1. e.l.f. matte liquid  lip color. YOU GUYS, this is only $5.00 from Target and is my new obsession. I rarely ever invest in bold shades for the lip, but for vacation I thought it would be fun. I wore it much more frequently than I thought I would. Although it was bold, I felt like it wasn’t too much to pull off like a traditional deep red is.

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Here are pictures of it on you might remember from the cruise posts!

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2. When I came home from the cruise, I had some errands to run in the mall. Occasionally, I love to stop by See’s candies for a butterscotch lollipop after and they always offer free samples of chocolate 😉

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3. Spongelle Body Wash Infused Buffer!!! This was a Fab Fit Fun included gift- and I just love it. It smells amazing and is basically a loofa that has soap built in. It is greatly exfoliating, and I’ve already used it probably ten times at least with it still sudsing up for each use!

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4. I can’t forget Easter treats!!! Someone gets this crack away from me! Bahah. DJ’s fam sent us some awesome goodies for Easter starting with The Popcorn Factory popcorn & make your own cookies! This caramel corn right here is the most addictive stuff in the world.

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We also received the sweetest Olive & Cocoa gift basket from… all the goodies are just too darn delish. You see those little pink puffs at the bottom?…. I took them on the cruise with me and they did not last long at all. SO GOOOD! I need to hunt down more!

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I also wanted to include these here because these companies would make awesome ideas for mother’s day gifts too!

5. Trader Joe’s High Protein Tofu. Do any of you have a really hard time finding super firm tofu? I feel like sometimes even the super firm tofu in the grocery store still can crumble while cooking. This stuff does not crumble one bit and has a whopping 14g of protein! It’s my favorite tofu to cook with and throw in salads, sweet potatoes, or have for breakfast as a tofu scramble.

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6. Cauliflower Pizza! Y’allll I have tried (and failed) to make Cauliflower pizza on my own many times. I finally pulled the trigger and just bought some from Sprouts. This stuff… life changing. So darn delectable. I could not tell the different between a thin crust pizza & this cauli pizza! You can actually buy it on amazon in a four pack 🙂 You is welcome

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7. Korres body butter. Oh. my. lanta… talk about all the yummy smells. This also came in the FFF box! Whenever I put on this lotion I feel like I just rolled around in a coconut. You must try this for yourself! It’s a bit pricey, but seriously worth it, or makes for a great gift.

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8. Zodiac. Well this took a hard turn in another direction. DJ and I recently watched the movie Zodiac, a movie based on the true story of a Bay Area serial killer. I love love love thriller/mystery movies, and this movie hit the spot. Fantastic movie with amazing actors too!

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9. MantraBand!! My mother-in-law is one of the most thoughtful gift givers, and for my graduation she gave me this mantra band… it says, “Nevertheless, she persisted”. This meant more to me than I can even say. She was a pillar of support for me through the year, and this bracelet has such special meaning to me. (She also got me one that says, “Just Run”! Now if that’s not my mantra, I don’t know what is!).

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10. The Hills! You might laugh at me, but I’m actually watching The Hills for the first time and loving it. It’s such great mindless TV while working on other projects, and the drama is pure gold for this reality TV junkie. Can you believe I’ve never watched it?! I’ve seen episodes here and there, but not all the way through! A bit late to the game… but what do they say? Better late than never 😉

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Please leave your Friday Favorites links in the comments below!!!!

xo <3

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Napa & Sonoma Part One …. And Some Big News (finally!) :)

Hello, All!!! Wow, so much has happened in just a couple weeks… I’m not sure even where to begin!!! I am coming off working nearly every darn day this past week and weekend, so bear with me as I type as a victim of far too much caffeine consumption on this lazy afternoon. It took exactly three cups of coffee to nurse that nursing hangover (which is such a thing, I promise).

I have debated whether to share my final grad school decision in this post or in the next one. Let’s be real, I don’t have that type of patience to wait….. so I’ll just share right here, right now… You know that last school I was waiting to here from?! Well verdict is in….I WAS ACCEPTED! I was accepted into my #1 choice program for MSN- Duke School of Nursing! My DNP portion (Doctorate of Nursing Practice) is still under review, but that affects me more in a couple years (from MSN into DNP).

What does this mean?! 

Well, DJ and I will be staying in California! I am so relieved because neither of us felt like it was quite time to fly the Cali coop just yet. He is loving his job more and more by day, and I’ve grown pretty attached to our new lives we have built. We know it’s not forever, but it just feels so premature to leave now- DJ’s sister JUST moved out here, we love our Church, and….. Peet’s. I mean Peet’s… come n’ now. How can I leave my love just yet? I have been having serious chats with God saying if we are supposed to stay please make this a possibility with Duke. Nashville was terribly tempting, but we always say, “Hey if we wanna move there one day, then we will make it happen!”. I’ll be doing their distance based program which means I will be flying to NC every now and again for on campus intensives, but my clinicals will be at a local hospital and classwork online.

I probably won’t make a formal announcement anywhere else until I officially send back the acceptance letter, but I couldn’t wait any longer to tell y’all. Thank you for allll your prayers, words of encouragement, and pep talks since OCTOBER. From the GRE to the exhaustive applications to the interviews, to the waiting, waiting, waiting… it’s meant so much that y’all have had my back.

Now, back to our main course. Sooo guess what? We did the whole “wine country” thing last weekend! I worked hard into Friday March 9th so that I could have the whole weekend off and Monday as well. On Saturday, the 10th, I poured an extra cup o jo’ and dodged off to Sonoma to meet my mom and stepdad, Pete, in the quaint area of Glen Ellen.

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They rented this SUPER adorable Air BnB for the weekend. We kept saying we could live there! If you want specifics on this place, I’d be happy to share with you…. highly recommend if you need somewhere to stay in Sonoma for a couple nights at an affordable price!

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We wasted not one beat and headed to our first stop (well my first stop- my Mom & Pete had a whole day of ‘splorin’ already under their belt). This gorgeous, serene place below is Ledson Winery.

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Downton Abbey vibes? Yeah, me too.

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I’m going to include quite a bit of detail about the wines for my own reference next time we go and for any other fellow oeniphiles (lovers of wine). If you don’t care, then just feel free to skip over all the wordiness 😆

We did a fantastic tasting and found our favorites from this winery included their Bordeaux blend (Good lawd, so tasty) & their steel barrel Chardonnay. I don’t like Chardonnay usually at all, but I relished in the flavor of the steel barrel one. It’s lighter on the tongue, more like a pinot grigio, and leaves out the oakiness. (bahahaha, like how I act like I know what I’m talking about from a couple days in wine country?! Feel free to correct my amateur knowledge). The Bordeaux wasn’t on the tasting list, but the very knowledgable and passionate sommelier gave us a sample off the menu. This sample translated into one of the greatest sips of wine we have ever tried. The flavor just lingered and lingered. Since at this point I know I am officially starting grad school this fall, I asked DJ if my reward for graduating grad school could be a bottle of Bordeaux. Only two years away, y’all! (Maybe 3.5 years if I get into the DNP program).

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The two cutest Texans in all of Wine Country!

img_0415We then zipped over to Jacuzzi winery, a famous stop in Sonoma with a cute gift-shop, oil tasting store, and winery all in one (AKA all you need… it’s like the 7-11 of all wineries… although I have a feeling they may feel offended by that comparison).

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Half way through the tasting, DJ waltzed through the door! (PS. when he reads this later he’s gonna say… “Why did you use the word waltz? I didn’t waltz!” Just like he doesn’t like when I use the word frolic for verbiage. LOL).  Thennnn he’s gonna say I always make him look like a grump in my blog posts… Babe, we all know you are the life of the party, okurrrrr?

He had to work Saturday, so we left at different times, but we were stoked he was able to join in!

Review of Jacuzzi- To be honest, none of their wines “wowed” us like Ledson’s did. Plus their server was a bit more aloof (we discovered the person serving can make or break the experience!). I think we had more fun trying out their oils than their wines.

Directly across the street from Jacuzzi winery is the famous Cline Family Cellars. It feels as though you step onto the grounds of Charleston. Sheep graze along the drive in and willows cascade the entire property.

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I wish I was half as photogenic as she is!

We actually ended up buying bottles here because they were decently priced and absolutely superb. They also waive the tasting fee if you purchase, so it made sense. We loved both the Cashmere white and red blends. The red blend reminded me of a nice smooth cab.

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For dinner, we headed back to Jack London Village and decided to try their promisingly authentic Indian restaurant.

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Yeti is a tiny little unassuming Indian and Nepalese restaurant overlooking the vast Sonoma landscape. The hot (hot as in knock ya dead spicy- just how we like it) food was a perfect contrast to the new cool briskness that started taking over the evening.

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We started with our favorite appetizers, Samosas, with a few chutney options. (Mmmm). Watch out for the red one though- it’ll get ya!

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My mom and I split a couple entrees. We typically do this when we go out because there are always two that we can’t decide between. First we tried the Shahi Prawn Tandoori that was presented sizzlin’ sizzlin’ away.

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We also split the Began Bharta (eggplant). I couldn’t decide which I liked better. They both were phenomenal.

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The men both ordered the classic, never fails ya, Chicken Tikka Masala.

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We ordered everything with a side of perhaps the best naan I have ever had, white rice, and brown rice.

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After, we stopped by the near grocery store to pick up some sweet treats. My mom and I still can’t shake how bomb the grocery store soft homemade sea salt caramels were. Dang, I really should have packed a bunch for the road. First stop when we go back to wine country: The local Glen Allen grocery store for some caramels!!!

Unfortunately, something didn’t agree with Pete that night and he was out for the count through the next day 🙁 What we all did agree on is that it’s a perfect excuse for them to make another trip out sometime soon to make up for that lost time!

In the morning of Sunday March 11th, momma Jill and I did a hard workout in the little sunroom for about an hour. We were going to run together, but it was far too bitter. She did yoga and I did a youtube cardio workout. I just love love love working out with her! She motivates me.

After, my mom made a delicious spread of cheeses, crackers, berries, eggs, bacon, toast, and coffee. My mom and I made our favorite avocado toast with egg whites, sea salt, pepper, and some paprika and cumin on top. Since it’s getting warmer out again I have been loving this in the mornings.

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We packed up the rest of the cheese and crackers (and beyond satiable fig jam) with us to our wineries for the day!

The drive alone made us all giddy with excitement. The views are truly breathtaking with fog resting on the tree tops and vast miles of forest. The closest beauty I have ever seen was probably  Big Sur or Tahoe (well if we are talking US.. obviously Bora Bora wins the gold medal). Wait, Grand Canyon too. But that’s like next level. Ugh, I don’t know. It’s all so pretty!

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We were in for a treat. Feeling as though we were trespassing, we snaked in through a metal gate, by a few gargoyles, and onto a long drive that led straight to a castle. Yes, a castle.

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This unique winery is none other than Castello Di Amorosa.  In this moment I realized wine country is not simply vineyards lined up with exorbitantly priced bottles of vino. It is matter of fact, adult Disneyland. I know I said Trader Joe’s held that title a few weeks ago. I recant that statement. It’s wine country. Trader Joe’s is like Cedar Point…. Wine Country is Disneyland. Each winery has it’s own history, ambiance, specific wine it’s known for, and grounds to explore.

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The fog from the morning lifted, the sun started warming the grounds, and the peacocks came out to play.

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How’s about I just let these pictures speak for themselves?!

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We did the general admission and headed down to their actual cellar for the tastings. We were greeted by an enthusiastic Italian man. His thick accent and the cellar lined with wines and pasta could easily trick one into thinking they are in the heart of Italy.

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We ended up buying their La Fantasia. This is a late harvest dessert wine, and me oh my is it everrrr delicious. DJ and I both loved it (and I’m not even a fan of dessert wine). We decided we would open it up on the premiere of the Bachelorette (LOL). Seriously though, can you think of a better occasion?!

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Next we headed to a winery that was pretty modest aesthetically compared to the other wineries we had been to. It was not a stone mansion, nor a grand estate. It almost had more of an office feel when you walked in the door. We discovered quickly that they didn’t need anything to stand out, simply because their views and wines did. We all agreed Rombauer had the hands down, glasses up, best wines of any we had tried (and even after the next couple wineries we went to we still stand by that).

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Every single one we tried, wine after wine, was a wine-ner. I’m not a fan of Zinfandels, but I loved Rombauer’s. It was absolutely magical. I still am not sure why we didn’t purchase it (yet another reason to go back).

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Even their walls are educational- how bough dat’

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The aficionado showed us 3D maps of wine country, gave us an explanation of where the grapes grow, and helped explain which foods would pair best with what we were having.

When we got to the dessert wines, he explained blue cheese was the perfect compliment. My mom and I exchanged knowing looks and both said, “We have some in the car!”. He said it was totally fine to bring it in, so we whipped out our cheese and crackers, had that delicious dessert wine with blue cheese, and made some new friends from Nevada who helped us munch it all down.

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I guess I’ll stop here for now. I have to say, I’m even more excited for the next post. I already have all the pictures uploaded, but wanted to avoid crashing your tablet again, Rossy. Hahah. Hopefully this is somewhat short enough to not mess with anyone’s technology, but looking back I have to admit to myself it’s still pretty stinking long. Oh well! All’s well that ends … with wine.

xo <3

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