Sizzling eats, the Super Bowl, & Star Struck memories

HEY!!! Life truly feels like it’s been going > 100 mph this past two weeks. So. much. good., but SO much busy. I am coming to the realization that this may be the beginning of not blogging as frequently 🙁 Currently all my energy is being directed into memorizing the information in this little fellow…

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But whenever I do have the time, you can bet I will be catching up with ya’ll! I’ll still try to at least do update posts for the rents’ back in Ohio and Texas 😉 No worries, Mom(s), I’m not throwing in the towel yet!

So going waaAAaaaAAAyy back to February 1st! The night of my interview we met up with my brother in San Francisco. He lives in Ohio, but visits occasionally for work. It was much needed, especially to keep my mind occupied with awaiting “the decision” (barely more nail-biting than Bron Bron’s in 2010).. My sports junkies know what I’m talking about. Anyway, we met up at Osso in SF. It supposedly is the “greatest steakhouse” in the US. We justified the dinner by saying it would be a combination of getting the interview over with/potentially getting the job/belated birthday/”my bro’s in town” celebration. It was wonderful getting to catch up with my brother, even if briefly. We tend to see each other during the holidays or when I would stop by his house briefly in college, so having a quiet dinner just the three of us was a treat! Also, I think I can finally explain his complicated job title with confidence. The best part was hearing about the milestones my sweet niece is making and about how my nephew is becoming more and more engaged with the world around him brings me joy upon joy.

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Fun fact: I think I have a dress that matches this floor. Let me see if I can pull it from the archives.

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There it is! Who wore it better? Me or the floor? (This picture is from a cruise my mom, sister, and I went on together a few years ago).

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Now let’ s talk food…

Bread. Their bread costs 0.99. Yep, ninety-nine cents. We couldn’t figure this one out- but hey, if they want to nickel and dime us, that’s their business (literally). Worth every single cent.

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MUSSELS! The butter madeeee these suckers. Get in mah bellyyyy.

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Their “famous” asparagus soup. If you like asparagus, you will like this- super creamy and savory, but strong on the asparagus flavor.

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Scallops– melt in your mouth. BUT I will say I like Farallon’s better!

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I didn’t bother the boys for a picture of their steak. They said it was tasty, but a Fleming’s or Ruth’s Chris cut was better.

Conclusion: Come for the swanky, Gatsby ambiance, and great food- but don’t expect the absolute BEST steak of your life.

Thursday we went over another couple’s for dinner. My friend, Danielle, is known for her superb home baked bread. I am actually salivating thinking about it right now.

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She also made us lamb! I don’t usually eat meat, but I definitely had to try a bite of this. It was some of the most tender meat I have tasted. I haven’t had a real bite of meat in years, and if I was going to have some, I’m glad it was her cooking! The couscous and vegetables were cooked to absolute perfection. We had such a great time just chatting and are hoping to take a trip to Napa all together soon in the future!

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Friday I played catch up. I didn’t sleep at all that week and the house reflected my chaotic, non-focused state of mind. I did laundry, cleaned, responded to e-mails, and just tried to get a list together of everything I had to do. Deej and I went to Barnes and Noble AGAIN in the evening. Second time in like a month that we spent our Friday night looking through books. But gosh, we LOVE it. He found one he is already almost finished up with, and I scoured the shelves for a Neurosurgical Nursing book.(I didn’t end up finding any great ones, but Amazon came to the rescue 😉 ).

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Saturday morning I made Deej some chocolate chip pancakes and I made my banana oatmeal ones!

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I squeezed in a nice long run and then and then we went to one of our FAVES- Cheesecake Factory! One of the guys DJ works with got us a gift-card as a congratulations. It was the nicest thing. I was blown away. We couldn’t let that burn a hole in our pocket for long! AMIRITE?

Naturally— BREAD on BREAD on BREAD on WINE

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I love love love their tuna tataki salad. I usually like to try different entrees at restaurants, but I have a hard time veering from this one. Their vegan burger is amazing though too!

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DJ ordered their Mac n’ Cheese Burger- uh yeah… New levels

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Meal #2. We each ordered a slice of Oreo Dream X’treme. Our absolute favorite.

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We ordered the Salted Caramel and Vanilla Bean to-go. HOLY SMOKES. SOOO good!

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I definitely underestimated the vanilla bean. DJ and I both couldn’t get over how scrumptious it was. Several of you commented on one of my posts saying it was your favorite, and I was insistent that we had to get this. Jennifer in particular sold me on this gem! You guys did not lead us wrong! Another fun fact: I prefer my pieces of cheesecake frozen.When freezing the vanilla bean, the crust and cheesecake combo reminded me of cookie dough. MMM mmm mmm.

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After Cheesecake factory we walked around the mall for a little bit. They have a store called LoveSac. They have overly massive bean bag chairs basically and “sactionals” . Lol. The play on words.

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Sunday- C H U R C H. I’ve never really mentioned it before, but our church has it’s own brew of coffee called Apostle Coffee. So even if you’re not a church person, come on in for a great cup of joe (newcomers get theirs for free!) 😉

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In the afternoon I prepped for the Super Bowl! I’m sure many of you saw my loaded nachos recipe last week! I also made a margarita pizza for DJ for lunch, took beers and also Boom Chica Pop to the party. No one knew the difference! I’m telling ya- Boom Chica Pop is bae. <3 It’s better for you, but is absolutely delicious!

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I went to the Super Bowl party of a married couple friends of ours (Tammy & Ben). (DJ went immediately to his family’s, but I did halvsies in both places!)

Are they not the most amazing hosts ever?

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Also this turkey….

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And this beef… I told our host, Ben, that I don’t eat meat but this was making me rethink my decision!

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Catching Tammy in action!

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Monday and Tuesday I had to prep a ton of documents for the new job and start planning for orientation (all that jazzy jazz). Wednesday night I went with a few girlfriends Blue Mango for some sushiiiiiii!

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I liked the ambiance of this place. Service was horrendous, and they automatically include your tip on the bill (which explains the service). It took us probably a half an hour to even order then another 40 mins to get our food. BUT sushi is always worth the wait, isn’t it?

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Have you guys ever seen a sushi roll like this?! It was a fried dragon roll. I’ve never had “warm” sushi before, but it was insanely good. I need to take DJ to try this sometime!

Here’s another look up close in case you missed it 😉

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We then headed to Club Rodeo in SJ for a country concert!!! Chris Lane was the main performer proceeded by Russel Dickerson.

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​I can’t emphasize enough how much fun we had. It was a blast. I am thankful to have found an awesome group of girls that I click well with too.

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Best part? Running into Ben Zorn from the Bachelor. HOLLAAAAAA. Night made. Also Clare was there (from Juan Pablo’s season), but she took off before the concert was over.


Blog Birthdays:

I’m a bit late but.. BIG Happy Birthday to

Jena C. Henry at Jenna Books– 2/6

Michael at F3foranswers 2/7

JL at JLstanding 2/9

Let me know if I missed ya, I’ll add you to the list. YOU deserve to be celebrated!

What are you all up to this weekend? Any big plans?

xo <3

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Happy New Year from Mack & DJ (A NYE Weekend Recap in SF!)

HelllllooooOOOooOO everybody! I have a short (ish) post for you today. Which many of you would be skeptical of unless you saw it with your own eyes… So, hey, guess you’ll have to come in and see for yo self 😉 I missed my calling as a sales woman. I realize.

After DJ and I arrived back from Ohio, we tried to adjust to the jet-lag, unpacked (there is always wayy more laundry than you bank on), ate Subway because we were craving us some subs, and watched Dexter.

On Friday, December 30th, Annie (you can get the low down on our friendship here) and I decided to have a girllzzzz night in SF. As much as she is our fave third wheel, (or maybe Deej is the third, not sure), DJ is incredibly supportive of girl time. It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other, and with the next few months being crazy and unpredictable, we decided to try to squeeze in hanging out one more time before the new year dawned.

Driving into SF that night was exhilarating. The sky was bright blue in some parts and dark gray in others. The contrast was magnificent! Additionally, the way the clouds roll into the city over the bay fascinates me the whole time I drive down the highway.

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Love this city <3

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When I arrived to Annie’s apartment, we finished up getting ready then headed out to one of my personal favorite restaurants in all of SF. I had two “free drink” coupons from Eat/Drink SF, and it would be a darn shame for those to go to waste. Hence, girlz night.

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Something I just absolutely love about Farallon is the jellyfish lounge. It is truly so unique! I give a full synopsis of this spectacular restaurant in a previous post.

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Isn’t she just the cutest you’ve ever seen?!

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Imma’ rant for a quick tick: One personal stipulation that I have for determining a good restaurant is their bread factor. I’m a runner, and I take my carbs seriously. So when I see that grainy, yummy, doughy piece of deliciousness with a pad of buttery perfection next to it, I do what any normal person does: salt the heck out of my butter before putting it on my bread. Right? RIGHT?! Ok, well DJ apparently thinks my methods are a bit strange with the salt, but Farallon agrees that salt on butter is the way to do it. And for this reason, Farallon wins sooo many brownie points in my heart

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In all seriousness though… that lava salt and butter and bread was the BEST I have ever had. Sorry, Outback & Olive Garden & Macaroni Grill …. you have some competitionnnn. Now, I’m all curious– what is your favorite restaurant for bread? 

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We didn’t want to spend a ton (and this place is pretty pricey), so we decided to split an appetizer and entree. For the appetizer we did the Mezcal Ceviche with Avocado Mousse and Spiced Tostada. This dish was SPICEY! The avocado mousse helped TAME THE FLAME a bit. It was eye-watering, nose-dripping YUM. Yet, I feel like that doesn’t sound appetizing when I put it that way? And those spiced tostadas were like some kind of fancy schmancy Doritos.

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For our entree, we split the pan seared scallops with spaghetti squash, brussels sprouts, huckleberries, & bacon (on the side).

I can say this with extreme confidence: It was the best one and a half scallops I have ever had. Yes, 1.5. We savored the heck out of that dish. Like the smallest bites you can imagine but each small bite was bursting with LARGE flavor. The combination of the huckleberries, brussels, and squash was unique, but it worked so well. If you ever go to Farallon, get this. You will not regret it. Especially if you like scallops. (But really anything on their menu is spectacular! We had some of the best food of my life the last time we were there too!).

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We walked out of there sooo full.

Lolz. NOT.

The food was TREMENDOUS. Don’t get me wrong. But we definitely had wayy more room. So we did what anyone does right after a big splurge dinner… go to the nearest grocery store for more food.

Allow me to present dinner numero dos: Snyder’s Hershey’s Dark Chocolate pretzels, Halo Top Ice cream (Strawberry is suhh guuhhdd), SUSHI!, & wine.

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Because those are all the essentials for watching K. Dash all night long.

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Best. Girlz. Night. Ever.

On the way out in the morning I had to take a picture of this.

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Is she smart or what?! I need to do this, and get that rug that says, “Turn off your straightener”!

I drove back from SF to Cupertino, did a seven-miler on the treadmill while reading Cutting for Stone (phenomenal book, btw), then got snazzed up with Deej when he came back from playing basketball. We then, once again, started the drive back to SF. Deja Vu!

I wanted to spend SF in the city, but obviously hotels in the city are already outrageously priced and with living so close it’s hard to justify paying to stay overnight. But, at the same time, it’s incredibly dangerous to drive on New Years Eve. See my predicament? Our solution: GROUPON!!!!!!!!!

A couple months ago, I found a room slashed at Le Meridian to more than half the original price for New Year’s Eve. It was so cheap we kept joking that it probably had smoke damage, or the shower didn’t work, etc. etc., but it was perfect!!!!!

It was also centrally located, and we could see the Bay Bridge from our window!

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I loved the way they had the maps as the wall paper. It was all kindsa modern!

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Time to finish getting ready! Dress is from Express. I snatched it when they had their big 40% off sale about a month ago!

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I was able to wear my wedding shoes for the first time since the actual wedding! I was pumped about this.

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We had some extra time before our dinner reservation, so we put on the OSU game and then DJ graciously took selfies with me. He is such a trooper about that.

More time to kill…. more selfies… more filters… more proving that I fit into such a stereotype (eyerolllll) .** Also I need serious help in the hair curling department, I always just wand it because I can’t figure out how to curl. Yes, 22, and still don’t know how to curl my hair to this day.

Dinnerrr timeee! I was getting hangry. Poor guy. I got really upset about something random and small (and not worth getting upset about) and he goes, “Time for food!”. He knows me well.

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Our restaurant of choice was Perbacco. We had a giftcard for Open Table from DJ’s birthday and hadn’t used it yet since DJ was in law school during this time. **SUCH a great idea for a gift, I didn’t even know Open Table had giftcards!** This was the perfect occasion to save it for! It was within walking distance for us which was super convenient since them heels weren’t necessarily high on the comfort factor.

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They sat us quickly, but it was a bit too close for comfort between tables, & the waiting staff was not very amicable. I always try to give people grace on the holidays who have to work, because I get it! Not fun! A lot of the reviews on Yelp that I read after the fact said the same thing about the service, but that it was out of the norm for them, and usually it’s a wonderful experience. We’ll choose to believe that! 😉 Regardless, we were thankful for the time together and this meal in the first place <3

We started with the piastra roasted octopus which had olive oil crushed potatoes, garum vinaigrette, radish, and salsa verde. This was one of our favorites of the night. But, I do have to say, the Spanish Octopus from Marco Prime in Marco Island still takes the cake!

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Next we tried the Marinated King Crab with citrus burricota, shaved fennel and seasonal citrus. It was good, I’d give it a 7 on a scale of 1-10.

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I tried the Black Sea Bass “Alla Piastra” which had king crab and artichoke ragout and esplette-urchin butter. It was fantastic! I especially loved the large lentils.

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DJ had the Osso Buco “Milanese” with braised veal shank, roasted bone marrow, gnocci, and gremolata. DJ loved it! I had a nibble of the bone marrow gnocci and it was to die for.

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We usually are stuffed by dessert, but #NYE. We decided to try the dark chocolate bonet with pinot noir sea salt, sesame seeds, and crimson grapes. This was maybe the best part of the meal. It was exquisite. DJ isn’t a huge dark chocolate person, but he loved loved loved this.

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After dinner photo time!

…. No, DJ did not spill the bread dipping oil on his shirt… hehe … To be fair if it wasn’t gonna be him, it was gonna be me. I feel like I’m always eatin’ like a five-year-old, so he took one for the team tonight!

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After dinner we headed to Union Square. It was Lit. LITERALLY.

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Maybe the brilliance of the tree will outshine the shirt-spot?!

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Nope…lol. I think it’s quite endearing.

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We sought out our NYE party that I bought us tickets to a while back…have to complete the whole experience, ya’ know? We thought it was in the Westin in Union Square (but the place we were actually at was in the former Westin). We still grabbed a few pretty pictures of the Westin lobby while we were at it. Why not?!

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We then went and found our actual place (Park Central Hotel) and waited in line. Us, being the old farts we are, got there on the dime. (Don’t show up to these things on time because no one does). Aka fashionably late. It was so strange getting texts from all our family and friends at around 9 because back in Ohio/Indiana, it was midnight!!! It felt like we were stuck in the past a bit!

Could it be the stain has disappeared?!?

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Oh shoot, no, still there…

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Whoops- flash really magnifies that boogar!

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Soooooo we may or may not have stayed for a grand total of a half an hour before deciding we were pooped and still trying to fight jet-lag and justified leaving with tons of other reasons. We Ubered back to the hotel, got in our comfy clothes, ordered desserts, and watched Netflix. Now that’s what I’m talking bout’! I may or may not have fallen asleep before midnight … I think that’s the first time that’s happened since I was like.. eight. (BUT I did make it midnight east coast time).

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DJ kindly woke me up when the fireworks started outside our window over the Bay Bridge. It was an all-time fireworks display. I was thrilled that we had such a cozy seat for the show!

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Happy New Year from Us to YOU!!!

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Shoot, this post was not as short as I thought. Oh well! Thanks for reading.

xo <3

Mack

Deck the Halls & A Special Announcement!

Hey everyone! First I just want to send a HUGE thank you to everyone who read and left the sweetest words on my last post. I truly just felt overwhelmed with encouragement and love. It’s amazing the connection and conversation that has been made through this blog and yours, and I am incredibly thankful for it.

Thank you also to Michael for his nomination for the Sunshine Blogger’s Award! I absolutely love his writing- It’s so genuine and full of truth. Check it out if you get a chance!

Today is Thursday. The awkward middle child of “FriYAY” and “HUMP DAY!”. Soooo I think you all can relate to this “poem” right about now. My mom sent this to me a few days ago and I had to share.

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And this was another one of my favorite things I saw all week..

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Anywayyyyy, I think for the update we left off right before Thanksgiving! I didn’t get many pictures of actual Thanksgiving day, but it was a good one! Just great family time, conversation, and happy bellies. I was on salad and fruit duty! I love that the holidays are an extra special excuse to make extra festive foods 😉

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This little guy had apple slices/farro/pomegranate/goat cheese/craisins/mixed greens. Pairs well with a nice balsamic or champagne vinaigrette.

Friday, I had a to-do list ten pages long. I conquered the errands for the day with a No Cow Bar in hand. These are my FAVORITE. I am a notorious Quest bar addict, but I like these even more. The lemon meringue flavor is by far the best, but I am a sucker for anything lemon. The dark raspberry truffle is really good too. The macros here are terrific, and they are vegan!

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I didn’t do any Black Friday shopping. OK. That’s a lie. I did jump into TJ’s real quick, but they weren’t having any sales “technically” because that place is always like one big Black Friday sale, and I love it.

I feel like the winter is birthday season central!! I love picking out the perfect card — and in my search I think I found the best card of all time. It’s 3-D sushi. I should have stock piled them.  

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Saturday during the day DJ went to a friend’s basketball game and caught up with a good friend that he hasn’t seen for years. That night we finished up The Office series. I cried like a baby when *spoiler* Michael came back for Dwight’s wedding. *ALL THE FEELS*. We have moved on to my choice series, which is Dexter. Good so far! Parks & Rec is next on the list after this. Also I need to catch up on Gilmore Girls so I can jump into that chit-chat.

We had Thanksgiving leftovers most of the weekend and into the beginning of the week. I swear Thanksgiving food is always better round dos. Saturday for dinner we decided to take a break from the bird & sweet potato mash and picked up some Oren’s. You guys know how much we love our Oren’s!

Also, Main street Cupertino is looking GORGEOUS. One of my favorite things this time of year is the way the Christmas lights suddenly appear in shopping centers and line the roads! Funny story though…. when I was driving on Main Street this past week a cop went through a stop sign and almost hit me (no lights flashing). The IRONY. He did wave in apology, but what is up with my run-ins with the po-po lately?!

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Sunday-FUNDAY! It was baptism Sunday at church. Everybody who participated was such a trooper considering it was in the 50s outside and the water was ice cold! There is something so powerful and exciting about watching others make a public declaration of their faith!

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Sunday afternoon we went tree picking!!!!!! I was havin’ serious FOMO when I saw everyone setting up their trees all over Insta & Fbook. We were planning on going Saturday, but by the time DJ was back it was nearly dark out! It gets dark so gosh dang early nowadays. It makes me all sleepy and hungry for dinner at like 4 o’ clock. Anywho- it was so fun looking for our own little piece of nature to bring into our home.

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Time to set it up! We named it Bow-Bow (Pronounced like “boe-boe”). Yes it’s silly & a bit strange to name your tree, but also more fun. No judging. We are hoping that Bow Bow stays alive longer than Spanky Tom did… RIP little guy.

Yes I know I am being I’m being such a type of girl in these next few pictures. Being basic isn’t a choice, I swear, I can’t help it.

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DJ wouldn’t let me get lone pictures of him by the tree. Party pooper.

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Yes, Aunt Terry, you best believe we are rocking the mugs you got us last year!

Confession: I made nine trips to Target in two days for various reasons. NINE. The first five were for the Christmas tree lights/decor. We kept getting the wrong kinds of lights (one of my friends said “HOW, they are Christmas lights?!”) and we still cannot find a good star topper that will actually stay up there. I think Bow Bow is a bit flimsy. I still have one more trip to make back to return a few things, but I’ll wait till we have to do a grocery trip. 

I had so much fun pulling out our Christmas decor. The stuff collects dust all year, so when it’s even kind of remotely socially acceptable these decorations come out to play.

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Monday DJ started a new job!! Wooohoo! He is working with the Church, but still getting his MBA next year. This is the perfect job in the meantime. He absolutely loves it so far!

On Tuesday morning I made this little guy because DJ wanted bacon and eggs. I couldn’t help myself and made a face. I couldn’t get the egg “eye” right on the left, but I just said it was because he was winking 😉 For some reason I think you would enjoy this, Cyranny. Hahah.

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I squeezed in a run outside on Tuesday to take a break from Shaun T kicking my rump (Insanity).

The trees are finally changing!!! It’s nothing like gorgeous Ohio in the fall, but I had an added pep in my step seeing a few bright colors here and there <3

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Yesterday I went to Peet’s (which I have been spelling wrong forever, along with pescetarian, which is really embarrassing) and caught up on e-mails and last minute organization for holiday shenanigans!

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I have had to get creative this week to use up random leftovers. Last night for dinner I made sautéed scallops over farro root with roasted root carrots and sautéed almonds with orange zest and basil. It turned out pretty good!

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Another meal I have been making this week is this omelette. I can’t get enough. I had a ton of left over stuffing from my stuffed acorn squash as well as goat cheese. I just threw in 1/2 cup egg beaters, 1/2 cup of the stuffing, a sprinkle of goat cheese and some sprigs of rosemary. All the stuffing is gone now, but I have got to make more soon so I can do this again. It was so tasty!

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Wednesday night we had our Bible study group. Someone brought CRONUTS! (AKA: Croissant + Donut). I am not even kidding, one of the best pastries of my life. We were going crayyyy for our cronuts.

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This morning I woke up at 6 to meet with a friend for coffee @ 7. I love getting up early and soaking up the mornings. We went to Philz coffee. They make every single cup over drip. It’s really great, but SUPER strong. I am so jittery after. We had such great conversation, and my heart just bursts with love for the amazing individuals we have met since moving here in July.

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Quick side note: the reason I changed my name to “Mackenzie” from “Mack” for the profile is a lot of people thought I was a guy. LOLZ.

OK- now I am super excited to announce…….drum roll…… I am going to be hosting my first blogging Meet & Greet, BUT it is going to be called “Mingle & Jingle” in light of the holiday season!!!!

For those who don’t know what a Meet & Greet is, it is essentially a post where you can come in and talk about your blog a bit, leave your link to either a favorite post of yours, or your site in general and find other blogs you may enjoy too! It will be some time next week- stay tuned! 🙂 I am so excited!!! Hope to see you there!!!

I must ask one very important question before I go: What is your favorite kind of Christmas cookie/dessert/holiday treat?! Feel free to leave recipe links!

Stay warm everyone!

xo <3

Mack … or Mackenzie….. or a million other options…oh shoot, identity crisis!

A Mountain Lion Scare and Food with Flare

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

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

Okay, off we go now 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a toasty week,

xo <3

Mack

Whirlwind of a Week

Well, ya’ll! I just want to take a moment and thank everyone for their sweet and kind words from our anniversary and wedding posts. (Also- I will finish the road trip eventually, promise!) RECAP time!

Thursday 8/4:

Thursday morning we came back from Monterey and spent the day unpacking, cleaning, and ordering DJ’s books for school. Thursday night I went hiking with one of the community groups I joined from church. It was a beautiful hike at Montavlo Arts Center in Saratoga. There is a gorgeous Renaissance style mansion that has a pavilion for concerts, plays, etc., but the surrounding mountain makes for excellent hiking. Out of all my hikes here so far, I have not gone out at dusk. From now on this is when I am going to do them. The cool, dusky air and the way the sunlight pierces the trees with the vibrant oranges and reds surrounding the mountains is enchanting. I did have one minor mishap though. This was my first time meeting any of the other hikers; I didn’t know anyone. Our conversation was smoothly flowing; I was meshing well, having a ball, and then WHAM. In typical Mackenzie-style (ew, third person), I fell (not gracefully whatsoever) and slid down part of the hiking hill. Score. It was easily the hardest fall I have ever had on a hike. (That says a lot considering falling is sort of my forte). Everyone was so sweet though and I was able to laugh it off. At least I made a memorable first impression 😉

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Friday:

Now that the house is stocked with groceries, I am like a kid in the candy store. There are so many recipes I have been saving, ideas I have, and new foods I want to try. It felt SO GOOD to be cooking again. I also think it made our apartment officially feel like home. Every time I go to the store I try to feed off of what we already have in the pantry to try and make sure nothing goes to waste. I know that those canned goods are fine until like 2090, but still, it feels good to use something up that’s just been sitting there! Lately I have been craving mussels. I saw in our pantry we had sundried tomatoes, tomato sauce, and artichoke hearts. I thought a Mediterranean mussel dish sounded just amazing with some garlic bread on the side- mmm mm. DJ is always up to try an original of mine, but I can never be 100% confident how it will turn out. It was delectable!

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Saturday:

DJ delved into his books most of the day and I volunteered in San Jose with another community group. It was one of those times that I was not obligated to go; part of me just wanted to stay at home and be lazy all day, but the other part of me nudged, nudged, nudged and said, “get up lazy butt”. I prayed about it and then realized it was sort of funny praying about if I should serve others- HELLOOO. Once I got there I was so glad that I did. I met a girl from the church and we instantly hit it off as friends. We were assigned to a water/pop station to hand out drinks, and for those four hours we talked, laughed, and served the most adorable kids in all the land. She is also in a very similar stage of life as I am. She recently left her job and does not know what she is doing next. I was able to share with her some of the things I have been learning, and she offered me encouragement as well. We made plans to go hiking and foodie-up Silicon Valley together. What perfect timing too considering that DJ is starting up school. GUYS! I HAVE A FRIEND :)! I have met a lot of great people through church, but this is the first person I have plans with outside of the church events. I left the service project feeling energized and excited. It reminded me of when I was in grade school and made a friend for the first time. Here I am at 22 years old, really going on 5. Nice to meet ya.

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For dinner we had leftover mussels and these yummy shrimp rice rolls with a homemade thai peanut sauce. Seafood for dayyyyyz.

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Sunday- Sunday we went back to the same church we have been going to. Starting off the day worshipping with other believers is the greatest thing. We then went to Living Spaces in Fremont to pick up our TV console for the bedroom and a headboard. I am itching to post photos, but I will hold off until it’s all done. I started to get hangry on the way home, so DJ told me to eat my “emergency Quest bar”. I always have either a Quest or No-Cow bar on hand because no one likes the wrath of a hungry stomach. After a nice run, I whipped up some delicious stiryfry. Stirfry is so easy, filling, and tasty. I made DJ’s with some chicken, and mine vegan with Boca crumbles. I decided to wrap them in some Nori Seaweed wraps. Sometimes cooking for two can be a challenge, especially with the improvisations, but I always like to find something creative to do with anything leftover. I used about three small chicken tenders for DJ’s stir-fry and then baked the rest to make simple shredded chicken for lunch sandwiches or a quick snack for a protein boost.

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I gave DJ a haircut for his back-to-school look. Cue the awwwws. Not sure why he let’s me touch his hair, I have way too much fun with it and get a little razor happy. But it ended up looking pretty good. This is how our typical haircuts go initially:


Monday- This was our actual anniversary, but as you know we celebrated it last Wednesday. With DJ’s orientation starting Tuesday we spent most of the day making sure everything was set to go. We went to Target and stood next to all the cute little mamas doing back to school shopping for their little tikes. I offered DJ my syringe highlighters, but he refused, so we got him some “normal” ones. (Syringe highlighter definition: highlighters that look like syringes. As an almost-nurse I think they are pretty dang awesome). For dinner we did –drum roll please- BLUE APRON!

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Have any of you done this? It’s pretty stinking fun. Basically they deliver you a box with tons of fresh ingredients, “knick knacks” that include any small dashes of things you may need, and an instructional sheet to make everything step by step with pictures. This is great for anyone that is beginning to cook as well because they are thoroughly descriptive in each step. Also- I think it would make an awesome date night idea. It has ideas for wine pairing with each meal too. In a few posts back I mentioned how we received all these coupons when we first arrived and one of them was for this food delivery service. I always have wanted to try it, but it seemed like a lot of money for just three meals. But with our first order, we received $40 off, how could I resist? The first recipe we tried was the Spicy Peperonata Pasta. I thought it seemed pretty romantic for an anniversary dinner ;). It was out of this world, and I’m not even a big pasta person (I know, sin). DJ said it tasted so “fancy”. I would go into an in-depth description of this, but I think you just have to try it for yourself! We have yet to try the curried catfish and quinoa bowls, so stay tuned! Sadly, we didn’t have our one-year cake topper, but my mom sent us a cheesecake factory giftcard to get some cheesecake in place of it. She knows us well, I do say! Anyone have a favorite there? I can never decide, Oreo is probably ours.

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Tuesday- Orientation day!!! I had a list up to my ears with things to do, but first and foremost, we had to get the hubs off for the day. I made him a parfait with Greek yogurt and then we said our goodbyes.

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It was so strange saying “bye” to him. Since we have been here we have done the majority of things together. Even when I would make trips to the store or what-not it wasn’t for extended periods. I am realizing that I am about to see my husband a whole lot less, and it’s hard! However, I am so thankful for the memories we shared this summer and know that the time we do have will be treasured. When he came home, I was an Anxious Anna to hear about the big first day! He said that it went well! I could tell he felt relieved just having that initial first day over with. I spent the day assembling our end tables for the guest room, running errands for things we forgot to pick up on our runs over the weekend, and making several returns. We did watch Bachelor in Paradise, ugh I really feel quite ashamed to admit it. Horrible show, terribly addictive. Don’t recommend it; we love it.

IMG_8194Wednesday- You know the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? That was my Wednesday. Nothing went right.

  1. I woke up with a tremendous headache. It went away after chugging some water and coffee, but it always had that dull ache throughout the day.
  2. I missed my annual doctor’s appointment. I thought it was next Wednesday, but when I double-checked my calendar, I had that “oh no!” moment. It was an easy reschedule, but I hate doing that to anyone. I know that doctors have a tight schedule, and I never want to be the person to just not show up. I apologized profusely, and they were understanding about it.
  3. The sewage line in our apartment’s car garage broke. I went through four years of nursing school and nothing smelled worse than that. Nothing.
  4. DJ said he would like to get a bookshelf for all his law books soon. I thought it would be fun to surprise him and have one ready for him when he came home. I went to Target and spent a good chunk of time surveying my options and then chose one I thought would be perfect. It was the last one too- don’t you love it when that happens?! I lugged that incredibly heavy piece of furniture through the parking garage, up the elevator and into my house myself *wipes dirt off the shoulder*. I was pretty dang proud that I could do that considering my lack of upper arm strength. I excitedly got to work. I almost put it on my Snapchat story, but then I thought, “Nah, bookshelves are the easiest things to assemble, that would be silly”. What happens then? I break it. In the middle of assembling it, I had the weight distributed probably incorrectly and the whole thing collapsed. We are talking wood splinters flying across the room. I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry.
  5. I stubbed my toe. That’s enough to make a day bad in and of itself- can I get an AMEN?
  6. I called the nursing licensing board to see where my application was in the process of being approved. Long story short, after calling thirteen times and being on hold for twenty minutes, the lady talked to me more condescendingly and with more ambiguity than anyone I have ever met. I know that’s an extreme statement, but I have never felt more belittled. At this point in the day I just broke down. There I was sitting in the Target parking lot with my pathetically broken bookshelf that mirrored my emotions so perfectly in the backseat and sobbing. I say this not for pity, but because reflecting back it is HILARIOUS. I called my friend, Rachel, as I was running errands and as I recounted the day she laughed harder at each event I rattled off. That’s when I knew that it was just one of those comically bad days. Also, I know that in the grand scheme of things, the day wasn’t really that horrible. It simply is one that could have been worse, could have been better, and I count my blessings.

On a bright note, I whipped up one of the most refreshing lunch dishes! I am dying to share this because it is something that everyone will love with no scary ingredients 😉 I had leftover quinoa from a dish I made last week and through in some mango, pistachio, lime juice, and threw it on a bed of kale. (Wait, kale might be scary?) I missed DJ during the day and was glad to hear that he still is feeling pretty confident about the year to come. For dinner I took the leftovers from lunch and tossed it in some chicken for the carnivore hubby. He said it reminded him of ceviche, which is quite the compliment considering that is one of his favorite apps to order. All the fruit here is absolutely amazing. It just bursts with flavor. I’m not sure if it’s just because it’s summer or if it is always like that out here? In the midwest, the fruit only tastes extremely fresh in the summer. I just bought a pineapple that I cannot wait to carve up! For myself, I wanted some comfort food. I made my “famous refried dip” as we call it with lots of veggies.

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I ended the night with a Dreyer’s light mint chocolate chip ice cream cone. I have this theory that nothing tastes better after a good cry than mint chocolate chip ice cream. Next time you have a good tear drippin’, try it! (Not that I wish that on any of you?!).

Wishing you lots of stable furniture,

xo <3

Mack

Marco Island, FL!

After being home for one restful evening, we took an early flight to Florida! We stayed at our parents’ beach house right on the water. The first night we were there we went grocery shopping for the week. I looooOOOOoove grocery stores. So the opportunity to try a new one just tickled my fancy (yes I am 22, and I use that phrase). We hit up the local Winn Dixie and stocked up on fresh watermelon, veggie burgers, the big “SS” (salad supplies), the other big “SS” (snacky-snacks), red wine for myself, chocolate milk for DJ, and of course our favorite: ice cream. I actually tried a frozen yogurt that I had never seen before and it was ah-may-zing. I wish I had written down the name because they probably have it here in a Cupertino grocery store (cause everything food-wise exists around these parts!). The grocery trip was a bit more expensive than our local Aldi in Marion, IN, trip but at least cheaper than eating out for each meal. We didn’t want to spend a lot eating out in Marco, since we did in both Baltimore and New York, so stocking the fridge with the goods was a good way to make sure that happened.

Early on in dating, we had one of the most serious conversations a couple can have:  One’s favorite type of pizza. It says a lot about a person. For example, the cheese-only lover is either picky or easy-going and most likely prefers vanilla ice cream. Then you have the goat cheese/ sundried tomato/ artichoke heart with a basil crust lover that was probably raised on organic brand gerber baby food and soy milk, but is also adventurous and generally open-minded. But the real pizza connoisseur is the lover of pineapple pizza. They know what’s up when it comes to pizza and are also the life of the party. Obviously these descriptions are slightly absurd, and I am slightly bias, but I think we can all agree that pizza is a big deal. Anyways, back to our big conversation: DJ told me pineapple pizza was his favorite after I went on about how much I loved it. That was it for me. I knew he would be the man I would marry. However, a few months into marriage, he would always request margharita pizzas from the store. I knew he liked them but I kind of thought, “hmm this boy never asks for pineapple”. With all my audacity I asked him if he lied to me on that one pivotal day so long ago. With hestiation (just kidding there was no hesitation) he said “yes”; he explained may have exaggerated a bit in the puppy love stage, but margharita pizzas are truly his favorite. 😐 At this moment I realized our whole marriage, our entire relationship, was built on a lie. A lie, I tell you. I let it slide though because he does still like pineapple, and if that’s the worst lie he has ever told me I guess we are in good shape.

Anyways, our first night in Marco we decided pineapple pizzas just fit the scene. Since I like eating most things in a slightly healthier fashion, I made mine on a flatout flatbread, use reduced sodium marinara, vegan daiya cheese and loaded up that pineapple. The night ended with watching the movie Good Will Hunting for the first time. I cannot believe it took us this long to watch such a fantastic classic.

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The next day was a full-on beach day! Nothing beats just laying in the sun. DJ listened to the Orioles on the radio and I raced through my James Patterson book called Invisible while soaking up the ‘rays. The book was impossible to put down. If you are a reader who likes thrill, mystery, and  don’t mind FBI laden books, this is a great, easy beach book with sharp turns at every corner.

For dinner, we had a second round of pineapple pizzas. I honestly think I could live on the stuff. That night we slept with the kind of deep slumber that only vacation brings with it.

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We are working on the “keeping eyes open during pictures” thing.

The next morning I ran on the main strip a couple of miles away to meet DJ at the sweetest little diner called Doreen’s cup of Joe at 8 am. I have a hard time sleeping in on vacation (I know, I know- that is what they are for), but I love seizing the day. I also love getting runs in before slamming a huge breakfast. It always tastes so good and satisfying after working up that morning appetite, and it was nice to beat the heat. At this diner they have the most unique and delicious breakfast menu; the minute you step inside it feels like you walked into a pinterest board. We ordered the most darling little cinnamon and powdered sugar donuts. I had swiss chilled oatmeal (which was absolutely to die for) and DJ had their pancakes. I ran back after and we did the exact same thing we did the day before: relaxed.

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The rest of our days there were about the same. However, there was a scare of a snake trying to hang out in the pool with us. We also walked to the touristy side of the beaches with all the hotels. It was about a 3-mile walk, and we both left with blisters and dehydration. It was still fun wading through the sandbars and cooling off in the ocean. We always have the best conversations on walks too, which was my favorite part of the mini hike.

One night we discovered the exquisite steakhouse Marco Prime for our nice night out we had been planning. It was one of those places that anything you ordered on the menu was guaranteed to be amazing. We started with the grilled spanish octopus and a juicy shrimp cocktail. The octopus was one of the most delectable foods I have ever tried.

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We then ordered sea scallops and DJ had the sea bass. It all surpassed our expectations.

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IMG_6494IMG_6487One of the nights we watched the CAVS dominate in game five with our ice cream and frozen yogurt in hand. The morning of our last full day we arose at the crack of dawn to witness the sunrise from kayaks. We may have been attacked by mosquitoes and forgot the bug spray, but regardless it was an awe-inspiring experience. Nothing can top sitting on such still water in the coolness of the beachy morning, feeling that you are awake before the rest of the world, and sharing it with your favorite person. It is a mix between feeling like you are trespassing in nature, but also as though this moment was beckoning for you the whole time.

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After being beach bums for several days we printed out our boarding passes and headed back for one last stop in Ohio before driving back to Indiana. Then our grand adventure began across the country!

Wishing you lots of perrrrtty sunsets,

xo <3

Mack