Monterey, CA- Big Sur Marathon! 

I am beyond pumped to share this post about the epic marathon weekend! I didn’t mention the marathon too much on my blog leading up to it because I didn’t know if I would be able to run the race with the new job’s schedule (we work a ton of weekends). BUT I was able to get race day off and lemme tell ya, I’m forever grateful for the beautiful memories that elapsed in that small time frame. I needed this weekend too- as ya’ll know I’ve never been more exhausted or stressed physically and emotionally than this last month-so this was pure therapy.

Last minute my mom (Momma Jill) arranged to fly in for the weekend since DJ couldn’t go to the marathon with his work schedule. However, the day before she flew out she was in the hospital diagnosed with a fractured foot. I insisted  that I would be fine going alone, but I’m selfishly pretty darn glad she was adamant about coming! After all, she is my good luck charm at races! She is one tough cookie, I tell ya what. (shhhhh she isn’t wearing her boot in a lot of pictures- I may not have been the best nurse by allowing that one).

When she arrived Friday evening we headed to Rootstock Wine Bar on Main Street Cupertino.

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We ordered some bruschetta to share and a couple glasses of wine. The last time she was here, Main Street Cupertino was still entirely under construction. She was blown away by how much it had evolved! We stopped into 85-degree bakery to visually digest the exotic, massive, and drool-worthy desserts before heading back to the apartment. I will try the calamari ink roll one of these days!

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We were both pooped and fell asleep pretty early (after some ice cream, of course). DJ had some time in the morning before he had to head into work so we went to Bill’s. Surprise, surprise! It’s basically becoming a weekly tradition. You can read all my reviews about it here, here, or here.

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After a fantastic breakfast, DJ zipped to work and we began our trek to Monterey for the marathon!!!! (I kept thinking back to my and DJ’s our anniversary celebration and it made me miss him lots! During the actual race I passed the place we stayed which was pretty fun).

 

One of my favorite parts about races is the Expo! There is always an exorbitant amount of energy and excitement (plus the SWAG is pretty great too).

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This expo was pretty small, held at the Portola Hotel and Spa. There were limited vendors, but with the expo’s location there was plenty to enjoy outside anyway. I laughed because in typical Northern California style they had wine samples rather than the CLIF Bar samples you would see at most! For those that want to run this marathon in the future, make sure you stop by the Expo to pick up your Bib #, a bus ticket for the hotel you are staying to the race starting line (there is no access otherwise), and your T-shirt, of course!

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After strolling the expo, my mom and I walked around downtown Old Monterey. This town is so sleepy and quaint, even with all the commotion of the race.

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We decided to follow this sign to go to the water. We were quickly drawn into the downtown boardwalk with colorful storefronts, tourist landmarks, and each passing restaurant passing out samples of their individualized “claim-to-fame” recipe of clam chowder. My mom and I sampled all of them and were shocked at, first, how delicious they all were, and second, how different each one tasted!

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I hadn’t seen the show Big Little Lies at this point, but my friend, Kelsey, is obsessed. I started watching it this week with a free month HBO trial and cannot stop. It’s so good.

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They call me ‘The Bird Whisperer’ in these parts

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Around 3 pm we were able to check into the hotel we were staying for the evening- Monterey Tides. I found this place pretty last minute (with not being SURtain if I could make the race) and chose it because it was one of the cheapest I could find on a booking site. We were blown away by how gorgeous this place was- I kept thinking there was some mix up because this honestly underpriced!

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The hotel attendant said that it may be a couple minutes, so we decided to enjoy some drinks while overlooking the sparkling Monterey waters. My mom and I even saw our first whale!!! It was quite SURendipitious that we were staying at this majestic place!

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The room was super nice with a beachy feel- Definitely what you would expect from a place named “Monterey Tides”.

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After dropping our stuff off it was time to head to dinner. In order to not fight driving and parking, we decided to uber to the famous Mediterranean Oasis, Epsilon.

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From the decor, to the friendly staff, to the unbeatable Greek cuisine- this place was superb on every.single. level.

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ATTENTION ALL CARB LOVERS: You need to hear this. I was fascinated with their bread and dip combo. The waitress explained the way they make their dip is by actually putting sourdough bread into a food processor with olive oil, garlic, and salt (perhaps a few other secret ingredients too). Right before she walked away she said, “Just dip that bread into that bread!”. I may have to try making this at home. Talk about a fantastic pre-race carb-load meal!

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And their hummus…. hands down, no questions asked- the BEST hummus I have ever had. My mom took the first bite and I could tell by the look on her face that it was going to be just that. It was smooth and creamy- absolute perfection.

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And whenever there is octopus on the menu……

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Marco Prime’s is still forever my favorite, but this was satiating. It had a grilled flavor and almost tasted like steak. MMMM mm.

We also had to delve into their greek salad, because duh

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My mom and I split the vegetarian combo plate. Combo plates were created for the indecisive individuals in this world, like myself, so I was ecstatic to see everything we were wanting to try coming on one plate. It had imam byaldi (the “priest fainted” vegetarian eggplant dish), falafel, and dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves with rice and herbs). It all surpassed any greek food I have ever had, but the eggplant dish was particularly out of this world!

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And one can never end a mediterranean feast without baklava. Ya’ll know I am a strong believer on having a sugar-laden dessert the night before a race. Good Heavens, I can’t even explain…

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We headed back to the hotel to watch the peaceful, perfect sunset.

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We were in bed by 8:30 pm and fell asleep almost instantly.

3:30 AM my alarm went off and it was time to race! I was giddy and energized. I downed a cup of coffee and grabbed my No-Cow bar and Boom Chicka pop bag for the bus ride to the race. My mom drove me to the drop off point to pick up the bus shuttle at Embassy Suites (only a couple miles from Monterey Tides).

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The bus ride was about forty-five minutes- 30 miles south from Embassy Suites to the starting line. The race was a straight shot back north for 26.2 miles. I made some friends during the ride, everyone swapped race stories, goal times, jobs, and hometowns. The camaraderie of the Big Sur runners was unlike other races I have been. We laughed about the fact that this bus ride felt super long and yet we were about to be retracing the trek in just a couple hours. The scenery was kept secret by the dark nightly veil of mother nature, so even if you tried to get a peak of the views out the bus window all you could see was piercing black.

When we finally arrived, we still had about a mile and a half walk to the start. I had no clue where I was, but I just followed the masses of people as they unloaded off the buses.

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Finally! The starting line came into view.

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It was crowded. I get it- the forest isn’t exactly conducive to ten-million porta-potties and 4,000 people, but holy smokes, I really felt like a sardine!

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People lined the paths with coffee in one hand and a banana in the other. I love races for the people too- racing brings together all types. #peoplewatching

They provided fruit, coffee, tea, and water at varying stations around the starting line. They also have a truck for you to drop your bag with warm up clothes or anything else you need before the race that they then drive to the finish line. I loved this system!!! You just put a sticker provided with your bib number in the bag. After the race it was clear where to pick up your belongings and overall a super smooth process.

Now, if you are a runner, you know the STRUGGLE of trying to time the bathroom appropriately with the start time. You don’t want to go too early, but you don’t want to be anxiously waiting too long when everyone else is lined up at the start.

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And then it was time to begin!!! My heart swelled with excitement, my stomach filled with butterflies, and after taking the last couple days off running I was biting at the bit to get going. Considering I hadn’t trained much for this one compared to my other marathons I was hoping to at least finish without an injury.

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We started out in three separate waves, I ran in the second; the weather was pleasantly cool and the air smelled like pine and cinnamon. If there wasn’t enough adrenaline already, Highway One greeted us with the most intoxicating views at every turn. Each picturesque scene of the landscape had a way of taking your breath away while simultaneously giving you a second wind.

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I’m quite SURtain this is one of the most magnificent places that exists on planet earth.

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During these races is when I feel most myself, where I feel that all is right in the world, and all my cares dissipate with every step.

We embarked the renowned Big Sur bridge at the halfway mark .

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They even had a pianist playing whimsical tunes dressed in full performance garb!

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Around mile 15 I like to start using Gu Gel (they provide it twice during the race). I have half a packet at about mile 15, 18, 22, and then 24. It works!

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To avoid the head winds, I drafted a few different people throughout the race. Drafting works well, but you have to be pretty secretive about it, or you’ll creep the person you are following the heck out. Let’s chat if you’ve never heard of this. It’s essential for this race and saves SO much energy!

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YesSUR!

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At mile 23 they handed out the best strawberries I have ever had. It was similar to eating pure sugar! I wish I had snagged a picture!

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All done!

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Thank you, Aunt Terry, for the congratulatory beads all the way from New Orleans!!!!

Race Results!

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This was far off my PR of 3:38, but they say to add 20 minutes to your PR time with how challenging the course is (13th most challenging in the world), so I’ll take it. Plus without training for it and the stops for photo ops, I was happy to break 4 hours!

At the end of the race they handed out boxes of muffins, pretzels, cookies, minestrone soup and Sierra Nevada Beer. After races I’m not very hungry for about an hour- so we walked around a bit, basked in the sun, and then decided to head out. At this point I decided I was starting to feel my stomach growl. Warning: Once the post-marathon hunger begins, it’s insatiable for about three days!

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My mom suggested we go back to the hotel we stayed at the night before for Brunch (it was only about 11 am at this point!). She had breakfast there in the morning after doing yoga and said they had a great menu.

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She did not lead us astray! Multigrain avocado toast with poached eggs and a watermelon feta salad helped refuel the carbs, protein, and was still light enough to not upset my somewhat turbulent stomach.

And of course, mimosas are necessary after every long race.

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We headed back to the apartment and eagerly awaited DJ to come home so we could go out for a Mother’s Day dinner, since we wouldn’t actually be able to celebrate on the day of!

I was SURprised that I was actually feeling pretty decent after the race. I usually am zonked out for about two days after, but I had that adrenaline still running through my veins!

We decided to go to LB Steakhouse on the Row. I had never been, but DJ said it was delish. We looked over the menu and both agreed it looked like a great place to dine!

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I’ve walked past LB a trillion times while on the row, and their faux cow skin lined chairs always grab my eyes!

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Isn’t she lovely?!

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My love ❤

We started with their Spanish octopus, which seemed harmless, until Mama J took a big bite of that pepper right on top…

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Her face went from surprise to a twisted, tortured expression in seconds. She was not just startled by the spiciness of the pepper, but rather in literal pain. I was confused by her reaction because she loves spicy food and can tolerate spice more than most people. (We ask for the “hot” food at Indian restaurants- if that gives you an idea). She flagged down the waiter and could barely talk. She reached for anything on the table to calm the fire overwhelming her mouth. He brought out milk and she said it was helping. I felt horrible, and jokingly said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”. I was also so confused how something they could serve could be that horrendously spicy. I picked up what was left of the pepper and out of curiosity touched it to my tongue. The small portion that I had touched to my tongue felt as though it blistered my tongue (and she ate the ENTIRE pepper). I can do spice with the rest of them, and this was not edible. It turned out there was a mix up- the restaurant meant to order the sweet haberneros, but rather served one of the hottest variations in the world. Let’s just say, this was something we laughed and literally cried about. I think I will forever have trust issues with peppers after this experience.

But the rest of the octopus was great! It sorta reminded me of pasta salad!

DJ ordered lobster bisque- not our favorite (‘Cause naturally I stole a couple sips), but it was still good.

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My mom ordered the seared scallops with misty artichokes and sweet harvest orange butter. I swapped her some of my salmon for a scallop (we classy), and not kidding- one of the greatest scallops ever. I think the only ones I have personally had that has topped it were Farallon’s!

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Steak and appropriately spicy pepper for Deeeej.

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Salmon for me. This really hit the spot. The salmon was perfection and nearly melted in my mouth.

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After dinner, well I guess more during dinner, we decided Cheesecake Factory’s cheesecake sounded like a perfect finish to a great weekend. We headed across the street and all put in our orders for cheesecake to go- Original for Mama J., Oreo Dream Xtreme for DJ, and Chocolate Hazelnut for myself. I was feeling adventurous and for some reason this flavor sounded so good. I can officially say it may be my new favorite. I can’t believe it doesn’t get more love! It has such a nice moosey texture mixed with the fudgey chocolate and sprinkles of coated hazelnut. I will be getting this one again!

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After savoring our Cheesecake, we headed to sleep. Monday, Mom J. had to leave at 4 am for the airport, and I was up at 5 for work. I was supposed to have Tuesday off (which I was looking forward to rest my legs), but I ended up having to work Monday-Wednesday. I think it’s by the grace of God I SURvived because I do not know how I made it through those shifts at work!

But I do have to mention- I worked with lumbar drains this week and it was one of my favorite days yet. I am getting more in the groove of actually being a neuroSURgical nurse, and while the learning curve is steeper than the hills of Big Sur, I am feeling more competent. I also passed the EKG exam I have been studying for the last couple weeks!!!! Hence, I was able to care for my first tele patient this week and loved it! This also means I am officially done studying in all my free time and I can catch up on your blogs- watch out- I’m about to blow up ya’lls notifications and I cannot wait… I can’t thank you all for your encouragement through this crazy adjustment in life.

Last- if anyone has any questions about the race feel free to leave a comment or contact me. I know lots of you are runners!

Oh, oh, oh! AND major congratulations to my other blog ladies- Tara at Runandlivehappy and Taralynn at SimplyTaralynn for both annihilating their half marathons!!!! ❤

Blog Birthdays in May:

Kimberlee at anotetohugette

Katy at katyslifestory

I absolutely adore these two lovely ladies. Their writing and stories are inspirational, and they have the kindest hearts. I hope you two have wonderful birthdays this month!

xo ❤

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Los Angeles- WEHO Part One

To say this past weekend was fun would be a tremendous understatement. It was truly one for the books, and I can’t wait until the chance to go back to LA! I went down with a couple girlfriends super last minute. DJ and I were planning on maybe going to Napa for President’s Day Weekend, but he had to work (or thought he would have to), so this trip worked out super well! He knew I had been dying to go to LA ever since we’ve moved out here and encouraged me to go especially before the job starts. I have never been (neither has one of my friends, Dani- dark hair). SO, Tammy (blonde hair), lived in the OC for a good part of her life and offered to show us around West Hollywood (WEHO). Best tour guide ever!!!!!!!!!

I definitely have to make this post into two parts (maybe even three), because there are SO many pictures and SO many good memories to share! I didn’t think I’d get a chance to blog this yet, but I came down with something bad last night and am stuck in bed. Hence, time to blog. Also- I think this is the fifth time I’ve gotten sick in three months. I’m guessing it’s just all the stress, little sleep, change in climate, and insane amount of activity going on!

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Anywho, on our way down Friday the weather was rough. We were getting texts from just about everyone we knew to be careful or to just turn around. BUT us girls are from the midwest (and Washington), so a little rain didn’t deter us.

When we were about an hour into the trip, my tire pressure light flashed on. Of course, because what is a road trip without a little needed car maintenance? We pulled off the next exit and gave the wheels some air. When Tammy was running back inside the gas station to return the tire pressure gauge, I spotted a flash of color out of the corner of my eye. I whipped the car away from view and Dani said, “What the heck are you doing?” I said, “I just saw a Peacock!!!”. She didn’t believe me for a second until the big feathery creature trotted on it’s way in our eye’s view. Sure enough, it was a peacock. So far I have seen wild zebras and peacocks in California, so I’m not sure what to expect next!

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When Tammy came out of the gas station she didn’t see us (we had drove around the corner to chase our pretty little friend). I said to Dani, “That’s okay, she’ll call us.” Then we both noticed her phone was still sitting in the passenger seat. We quickly drove back around and she was standing there with the most bewildered look on her face. We had some explaining to do, but we were both laughing so hard it was all we could do to spit out the word “peacock”.

In the evening we arrived at our Air B n’ B! I will say I was a touch skeptical about this service as I’ve never used it before, but it was AMAZING. We were located in the heart of Beverly Hills, walking distance from Rodeo Drive and within short miles from anywhere we wanted to go. The house itself was adorable, clean, and the hostess was easy to communicate with. She left us clear, amicable instructions about keys, the parking pass, and even said we could help ourselves to tangerines on her table. Hospitality is apparently not dead! This was a steal too. It was about $140 for the entire weekend per girl. (I know it’s taboo to talk prices, but I really wanted to emphasize how great this is!). If you have never used Air B n’ B, I highly recommend. But do a ton of research and look at MANY places to make sure you are getting the best/most safe/accessible place around! Traveling is becoming easier and cheaper by the day!
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For dinner we went to a place called Saddle Ranch Chop House. I tried to grab pictures, but it was quite dark inside and none of them were showing up. We had snacked a bit on the way and weren’t starving, so we spit their famous jalapeño mac and cheese and cotton candy.

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I rode their mechanical bull and since I didn’t fall off I was awarded a second gargantuan cotton candy. I don’t even like cotton candy, but how can you resist this?!

After, we headed to a place called Hyde Sunset Kitchen & Cocktails. Someone had recommended this place as we were on our way out as a good place to go to just hangout. Ready for the most epic part? Where are my bachelor fans at? We saw Chase McNary, Luke Pell, Jasmine G., Christian Bishop, Lace Morris, and ready for the kicker? Amanda and Josh- together. Yep we knew they were back together before TMZ! There were all these articles coming out Monday about them being seen Sunday night together. Haha- we were freaking out when we read this.

In the morning I woke up at 7:30 to go for a run. I got in about 9 miles just running around Rodeo Drive, different neighborhoods, and Winchester Blvd. I LOVED these morning runs, although I was going on little sleep every time I did one.

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Once we were ready for an epic Saturday, we headed to the legendary Urth Caffe. If this was close to me, it could be dangerous. They not only have the BEST matcha green tea lattes on planet earth, but their food is phenomenal.

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I ordered their salmon scramble which included toasted ancient sprout bread (YUM), roma tomatoes, and chives and then added capers and red onion with egg whites.

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Tammy ordered the rustic poached which included two poached eggs over toasted whole wheat bread garnished with capers, basil oil, heirloom tomato, and red onion. Isn’t it pretty?!

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Dani ordered the Mexican Omelet which included three organic eggs, roma tomatoes, green chilies, red onions, monterey jack cheese and cilantro, served with salsa. Unfortunately I didn’t get a pic of this for you to salivate with your eyes, but I’ll take her word for it and she said it was delish!

They serve their coffee in a BIG cup. Their coffee is super strong, as is their espresso. If you go here, get the matcha latte!

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After breakfast we walked around to check out all the shopping on Rodeo Drive! These stores astounded me. WOW- just the pure wealth is mind-blowing. We were wide-eyed at the price tags on everything 99% 100% of the time! We were waiting in line for the restroom somewhere and one woman said, “I love your shoes! Who are they?”to a girl standing next to me. Lol. “Who”. Glad she didn’t ask me because I’d be like, “Uh, my boy Target”.

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So the thing that sparked this trip initially was our bonding over Vanderpump Rules and Housewives of Beverly Hills. I’m honestly so embarrassed to admit that, but we all have our guilty pleasures, right?! Pure entertainment. I consider them more comedies than anything 😉

Anyway, stopping by and seeing Kyle’s store was essential for us. The clothes were crazy expensive like everything else, but ridiculously soft. I don’t know if I have ever felt such soft clothing in my life.

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Don’t mind us, we’re just casually drooling over these dresses.

There were also some gorgeous hotels we popped into to check out!
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After walking around there for a while we went to get the classic Hollywood sign landmark!!!! I was ecstatic when the renowned block letters came into view. I’m such a sucker for the touristy attractions.

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The Boomerangs were our favorite!

And, of course, we made our way to the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

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Our last stop was the Bel-Air House, but we needed some coffee from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to give us a pick-me-up. (Peet’s still takes the cake 😉 ).

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We then headed back to our Air BnB to get ready!

The excitement could not be contained. We were finally going to SUR!!!! If you watch the show, you know this is a huge deal. If you don’t, then just don’t mind me while I lose my cool a bit.

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When we arrived we didn’t have reservations, and there were only three tables that were “First come, first serve”. It looked like a group of married couples was about to leave, so we asked them if they were. They said they might leave soon, but weren’t committing. However, they said we could sit with them if we wanted to to order food! It was incredibly kind of them to offer. We finally were able to get some grub- we were STARVING.

We all agreed we had to try the famous goat cheese balls. I’ve got to say, they were even better than I had anticipated. If you are ever in WEHO, you MUST stop in SUR for an order of goat cheese balls. We also tried the ahi tuna and Dani & Tammy tried the sliders. It was all insanely delicious.

Now, I know many of you are wondering, “Well did you see any of them (the cast)?”. The answer is a big ole’ YES! We didn’t see many waiters or waitresses, but we saw Peter, Ken, Lisa, and Giggy! We were all fan-girling so hard.

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Here is Lisa walking out of SUR…


WEHO is popping in the evening. We walked around the strip, stopped in a few different places, and then were hungry once again since we hadn’t had a huge dinner. We stopped by Mel’s Drive In for one of the best veggie burgers/milkshakes/and sweet potato fry meals before heading home! I had wanted to try Mel’s for a while, and it certainly lived up to the hype. I can’t wait to take DJ there.

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^This picture above was taken at Mel’s and was basically me the entire trip- on the lookout for celebs.

I am going to work on part 2 tomorrow! There is way more to come, way more celebrity sightings, and wayyyy more fun to record! See you then!

Blog Birthdays:

Susie @ SusieOpinions on February 14th- I’m so sorry I’m so late, but I hope your birthday was absolutely spectacular!!

xo ❤

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San Pedro Square Market & Sharks & Sushi!

Happy Wednesday, ya’ll (well probably Wednesday when you read this)!!!! This past week was pretty hum-hum except for a few fun highlights!!!

Last Monday (1/16) I went out with a friend I met at church to Bill of Fare in San Jose. This is one of my favorite breakfast/brunchy places. The options are endless, and the coffee is tremendous!!!!

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My friend, Dani, ordered their famous French Toast. She loved it, and I think the picture speaks for itself!

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I ordered their create-your-own egg white omelette. Technically, eggs aren’t allowed on the Daniel Fast, but I have been adding them in as a source of protein in my modified version. I had a ten-miler coming up that day, and I wanted to make sure I was nice and fueled up for that. I added garlic, spinach, artichoke, tomato, mushrooms, green onions, and avocado. It was a perfect veggie + protein packed breakfast to start the day. Next time I go back since I’ll be off the fast I will be trying one of their sweeter items- they all looked enticing!

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For dinner, I made edamame burgers with hummus over multicolored baby potatoes. I put these in front of DJ and he shouted with wide eyes “WHAT ARE THOSE?!” (Referencing the famous vine for those that don’t know). Anyway, these burgers turned out pretty darn well if I do say so myself! I was definitely unsure when experimenting, but we LOVED them! He said it was one of those meals he would eat outside of the fast. Once the interview process slows down and I have job security and all that jazz, I truly do want to share some of these recipes. At least I have a whole year until the next Daniel Fast to get them all compiled together…because it may just take that long 😉

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Monday night we decided to give Deej a haircut, but we started the trimmin’ wayy too close to the start of the Bachelor. Must have been feeling overly ambitious. So even though his head was only half done getting cut when the show started, we ran out into the living room to watch, then would run back into the bathroom to continue chopping the hairs at commercials, then would come back out when it started back up.

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I think we finished it up the whole cut by maybe five commercials? Ah, what we do to make sure we don’t miss a second of that show.Ha!

Tuesday I had coffee at B2 Coffee Shop in San Pedro Square Market with a friend. I thought I was getting over whatever terrible cold plagued me over the weekend, but I felt pretty wiped out again Tuesday.

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B2 has more of an open, industrial-chic feel than many coffee shops, and their coffee tastes of hipstered (probably not a word) perfection and free trade yumminess. In the evenings, the “Garage” turns into a bar. I have yet to visit for that- but I love the concept. The whole “Gimme coffee until it’s acceptable to drink wine” mantra fits well here. I’ve noticed this is sort of the new trend for modernized coffee shops. These types are perfect to meet with a friend because you don’t have to compete for a table, but when it comes to getting work done, I like to be in a smaller, cozier  space…. like… let’s say Peet’s 😉 Ya’ll know I’m obsessed and not even ashamed to admit it.

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I had an almond milk latte with cinnamon & honey. It warmed me right up- especially with not feeling great and all.

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My friend who recently moved here from Australia, Danielle, ordered a caramel latte. Both of us couldn’t help but snag plenty of pictures of this beauty. She also had a scone to accompany it. If that’s not a picture perfect breakfast, I don’t know what is!

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Even though I didn’t feel stupendous, we had such a good time chatting and I was thankful we both could spend this time together.

Throughout the week we were trying to use up the rest of the frozen fruit in the freezer. Breakfast was a fruit smoothie topped with chopped dates and coconut flakes many days. We also have been loving overnight oats!

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Tuesday night I made us chickpea & corn grit pizza with organic tomato based sauce, veggies, and tofu to act as the “mozzarella cheese”. It was a nice pizza fix. This is another recipe I’ll have to share when time allows!

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Lately I’ve been working at Peet’s on my interview questions/scheduling/meetings/misc. projects, and when I feel I need a break, I’ll do Postmates for a few hours. I LOVE it, and it’s an awesome way to make some extra money in your spare time! I will discuss it a bit more in my next post because I don’t want this to be outrageously long 😉 *Outrageously is the key word there. Just do not do Postmates in heels. Learned my lesson big time this week!

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Wednesday was a blast- I worked some with CityTeam in San Jose. I love the people who work there- they have the most giving hearts and love people tremendously. In the evening we had our Bible Study group, and even though I was like a zombie by this point in the week (the sickness was really taking a toll), it was much needed conversation and time with friends. ❤

Thursday I met with my friend, Amy, for lunch at Whole Foods. On the way out, I grabbed a few groceries, and I could not pass up a purple cauliflower head. I decided to make my cauliflower mashed potatoes with the little guy and they tasted the same- but they were PURPLE. How fun is that?!

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It made a refreshing snack through the week- Dave’s toast//purple cauliflower//avocado.

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Thursday night I made the peanut crusted Tofu dish for dinner with edamame and refried beans.

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Friday was pretty uneventful, but I was feeling much better finally. I had a lot on the big “To-do” list to get done and DJ and I both opted to have a chill night. DJ has a new found love of reading lately so we went to Barnes and Noble to look for a book. GUYS. We have reached a new level of nerd-dom. Who goes to Barnes and Noble on a Friday night?!?!? Anyway, we decided once we got back we were more in the mood to watch a documentary on Netflix. (Oh, so you back out of reading the book and watch a documentary instead.. makes sense). It all sounds even more lame now that I’ve written it out.  ** Eye opening documentary B T Dubs**

No worries though, Saturday we came out of our little hermy shells. First I went to a consignment store by our home that buys clothes and accessories on the spot. I love thrifting, and this one is so much better than any of the thrift stores we had in Ohio. While I was waiting for my turn to sell, I perused the shop and stumbled across these….

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Now that deserves a ….

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In the evening we went to a San Jose Shark’s game! This was my first hockey game EVER, and I loved it! I loved how little the game is interrupted in comparison to most sports, and I’m not gonna lie, the level of physicality is super entertaining. Now I want to go to an MMA show or something. Anyone ever been?!

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We went with a friend who is visiting for a few months from Australia. Him and DJ work together in the church office, and I made us all get a selfie at the end of the game, because you know, it’s my job to make sure we get at least one selfie everywhere we go. He’s been telling us all about Australian lingo and food. Veggie mite anyone?!

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After the game was over we ran to the Express Target by our home to stock up on alllllllll the junk food because Sunday the fast was over!!!

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Also, what?!? Thin Mint Cereal?!^^^ HOW COOL!

Sunday when the fast was over DJ delved into a bowl of fruity pebbles for breakfast before Church.

We went to DJ’s little sister’s basketball game in the afternoon and she was BALLIN’! She has that basketball gene of DJ’s. Three 3s and a 2. I can’t help but brag a bit 😉 She scored more than I did during my basketball career in one game, and I played for eight years…. haha. (That’s why I stick to running ya’ll- my sister, Halston, stole all the athleticism).

For dinner we had a mish-mash of all types of yums, but then we made sure to get our fix of Sushi Monday 😉 This is one of the foods I missed most. We had a coupon to Kiku Sushi in Cupertino so have been wanting to try it for a while!

The waitress put us by the fish tank so that, “We would have something to talk about”. I think she thought this was a first date or something. Hilarious. She probably figured out we were pretty comfortable together once I took a big sip of DJ’s miso soup without asking him right when it was placed on the table.

Also, it’s a bit strange looking at live fish while eating sushi?! IDK. Maybe it’s just me. Hahaha. Overall, Kiku Sushi was delicious and the staff was incredibly friendly, but Yuki still is better in my opinion!

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DJ was feeling more of a hot meat dish than sushi- I don’t blame him. Boy has been deprived of meat for 21 days.

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Yesterday we both worked all day, had our sushi extravaganza, then came back and put our feet up for some Bachelor, cookies & mega-cookie, and wine (and ice cream that isn’t pictured 😉 ).

I tried to use my wine aerator for the first time that Halston gave me for Christmas. Apparently, you are supposed to put the aerator on the wine bottle. Whoops! Here’s a good laugh for your evening.

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Today was humorously NUTS.

Just about everything that could go wrong with our apartment went wrong- the garage door broke, so everyone was stuck from leaving for work during rush hour, the workout room was closed for maintenance so that shot down my plans to look over my interview questions while I ran, maintenance turned water off from 10 am to 2 pm, so when I came back from my run outside I couldn’t have water (I resorted to chugging half a gallon of Cashew milk instead), our fire alarms would not stop going off- I think my ear drums are broken, and my phone has decided to randomly shut off at 60% battery now instead of 30%. BUT I have leftover sushi in the fridge- so everything is okay in the world.

Blog Birthdays:

JL from Hunt’s Clubhouse is TODAY! 1/25! Happy Birthday!!!!

Wishing you all a fabulous day,

xo ❤

Mack

Vegan Tacos

So I made Tacos for the first time last week. I know, I know. Super late to that fiesta. Anywho, they smelled sooo good so I decided to whip up a vegan (vegetarian) version. I say vegetarian because the only non-vegan ingredient is the Chobani which acts as sour cream. This could easily be replaced with a vegan sour cream!

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My husband said he didn’t know if he liked these or the or regular beef tacos better. This is coming from a non veg-head, ya’ll. So that alone says just how delish they are 😉

Grocery List:

  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium White Onion
  • 1 Jalapeño pepper
  • 11 oz. Beyond Meat Beef (Feisty Crumble)- I bet Boca Crumbles would work well too (Thank you Heather for the suggestion!)
  • Daiya cheese Classic Blend
  • (1) 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • Tomatoes (I like to use Wild Wonders, but any will do!)
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Taco Shell of Choice (hard, soft, or butter/bibb lettuce)
  • Plain Chobani or vegan sour cream of choice **Optional
  • Cilantro *Optional

        Taco Mix

  • 2 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 TBSP ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. Wash all produce
  2. Dice onion
  3. Thinly slice and dice jalapeño
  4. Dice tomato and thinly shred lettuce
  5. Make taco mix
  6. In a large skillet, add 1 TBSP of Olive Oil over medium-high heat
  7. Add the onion and jalapeño, sautee until white onion and jalapeño are soft and fragrant (may take about 6-10 minutes)
  8. Stir in the beyond beef until evenly mixed with the onion and pepper.
  9. Stir in tomato sauce
  10. Allow the tomato sauce to evaporate and absorb into the meat, while stirring occasionally- may take up to 20-25 minutes
  11. When all tomato sauce is absorbed, add about 3 TBSP of taco seasoning and stir evenly
  12. Plate your taco shells/lettuce as desired (some may recommend heating in the oven prior)
  13. Add cheese first (Reason: with vegan cheese it is harder to melt, so add some on the bottom of the shell first and the hot “meat” melts it)
  14. Add taco meat on top
  15. Top with lettuce, tomato, cilantro, and “sour cream” if desired

Nutrition (per serving, 8 servings total)* Using Beyond beef, 1 TBSP chobani, 1/4 cup of Daiya cheese, and no shell per taco

Calories: 221

Protein: 13g

Carbs: 16g

Fiber: 3g

Sugar: 4g

Fat: 11.5g

Enjoy 🙂

xo ❤

Mack

High Protein & Low Fat Scrumptious Pumpkin French Toast

When it comes to fall, I crave all things pumpkin. Specifically, I begin to crave this pumpkin french toast. You won’t even know it’s healthy- promise. The best part (besides the taste) is it’s so easy to make. Even my husband loves this, and he is pretty picky about his breakfast indulgences.

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Grocery List

  • 1/2 cup 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup Liquid egg whites or egg beaters
  • 2 packets of Truvia
  • Hearty sprinkle of Cinnamon
  • Olive oil pan spray (or PAM)
  • 3 slices choice of healthy bread- I use Sarah Lee Delightful or Sprouted Grain. A bread that is light and airy is best.
  • 1/4 cup choice of syrup: I use Sugar Free, Lite, or all natural Log Cabin’s. **High fructose syrups upset my stomach so I tend to stick to the lighter ones. Just avoid anything with aspartame !

Directions

  1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, egg whites, Truvia, and cinnamon (a pinch of nutmeg if desired- I prefer without).
  2. Heat a skillet or pan to medium-high heat, spray lightly with olive oil spray or pan spray of choice
  3. Dip one piece of bread in the batter until entirely covered.
  4. Place the bread on the skillet/pan and cook until browned, then flip and brown other side (usually only takes about a minute per side, first piece cooks slower than the next two). Place on a plate when done.
  5. While the first piece is cooking, begin preparing the next piece. Repeat step #3 and #4 for the last two pieces of bread. *You may want to re-spray the pan between flips and pieces.
  6. Add 1/4 cup of your favorite syrup and whipped cream if desired ( I like 365 non-dairy whipped cream from Whole Foods).

**If they are cooking too fast, simply turn town the heat!

Nutrition for the batch using Sarah Lee bread and Sugar Free syrup:

Calories: 275

Protein: 22g

Carbs: 47g

Fiber: 9g

Sugar: 7g

Fat: 2g

*Great source of vitamin A

Enjoy!!

xo ❤

Mack

Reunited and it feels soo GOOD!

Hey guys- Happy Thursday to ya!

This week was certainly one for the books!!! Friday night DJ and I were craving Kula sushi.  DJ, unfortunately, still had some work to do for school, so Kula was an excellent option just close to home. Also, we were going to try something new- but when you have a craving you know nothing else will do! After Kula, we simply relaxed at home/ studied.

This weekend was one of the greatest because I was reunited with one of my best friends sisters. When we were in high school, Annie came to live with us for Junior and Senior year. We were good friends before the move, but then we became super close over those two years. We talked to each other about everything, heck, we even fought like sisters over silly things like who got the frying pan in the morning to make eggs. Our graduation party was naturally combined. Below is one of my favorites of us from that day.

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Then came college and my kindred spirit got up and moved to Cali to attend Berkeley. Now, four years later, we are within an hour driving distance from each other. When I found this out I cried tears of joy. We decided we would take a hike because… hike :). She took us to Lands End. (Not the store- mind you, because that’s where I thought we were going at first). It reminded me a bit of Monterey– particularly the feel of the coolness and the looming splendor of grey skies!

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After catching up and hiking for a while we were on a serious food mission. We had worked up quite the appetite! It was a Saturday and most places were packed out the wah-zoo. Our tummies were not too happy with us. We finally found this Peruvian restaurant and decided to give it a go. We would have ate anything at this point. Our low-blood-sugar conversations were probably terribly entertaining to those passing.

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I feel like I say this all the time, but truly this was one of the greatest meals of my whole life. The meal started with plantain chips which way surpass tortilla chips in my opinion. They came with some kind of lightly spiced cheese sauce. The two of us could not get enough.

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For an appetizer we split Pulpo. This is Spanish Octopus in jalapeño pepper and avocado leche de Tigre. When I tried Spanish Octopus in Marco Island I had pronounced it as one of my all time favorite foods to date. This was prepared differently, but still heavenly. One of our favorite parts were the giant white corn kernels scattered throughout. It was all so light and refreshing after that hike too!

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For dinner we decided to split two super unique dishes. We asked the waiter for suggestions and he said the Plancha Marina was his favorite (pictured right). This included prawns, octopus, calamari, salmon, portobello mushrooms, aji panca, and pisco sauce. It was easily one of the most delicious things I have ever had. The meal included little multicolored green and purple cauliflower type veggies too; not only was the meal amazing devour with the mouth, but also with the eyes! The colors were vibrant and the flavors exploded in concurrence with the inviting display!

Naturally we had to also try the weirdest thing on the menu (pictured left). This is sopa seca. It is squid ink pasta with mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari and vegetable stew in Peruvian aji (a red sauce). I never thought I would say this, but I am a BIG fan of squid ink. Bring on the ink!IMG_9028IMG_8836

We had deemed this night Annie’s birthday weekend, since we couldn’t celebrate it in July. We got all snazzed up and I got to meet some of her friends while hanging out in downtown SanFran. We went back to her house and shared red wine, dark chocolate, and raspberry cheesecake ice cream. Can we really be more predictable for a couple of 20 something girls?! It was a great night!

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In the morning, I woke up at seven to get a run in on the pier. Last weekend I slept in, and when I saw all the runners in the morning I felt like I was missing out. I was not about to let that happen this time! A run on the pier is worth a little sleep deprivation! I shot some pictures while running. It was so peaceful. When I first left the apartment there was no one out. By 8 0’clock people started coming to life.

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The little sea lions are hilarious. DJ and I could just sit there and watch them for hours. IMG_8884IMG_9038IMG_9040IMG_9041

I love getting up early because I feel like I get to share secrets with the morning. The gray fog over the bay is both ominous and calming- I’m not sure how to explain this oxymoron, but if you have never experienced it, you should! Usually in places like this I don’t even put my headphones in to run. I want to soak up the experience with every sense possible.

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Below is the gorgeous view from Annie’s apartment. The other direction you can see the Bay Bridge. At night the skyline is INSANE. It was hard to get a picture to do it any justice. San Francisco has a way of being mostly cloudy until about 11 am, then the sun peaks out. You almost feel like it is going to storm in the mornings, but it rarely ever does!

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After a six mile run on the pier with no caffeine in my body, I was ready to down coffee and food. We tried to go to Mama’s (it’s THE breakfast place in SF), but the line was about two hours long. We finally decided on Cafe DeLucchi. When I picture a good brunch, this is the type of place I picture. The coffee was out of this world, it was truly some of the best coffee I have had from a restaurant. The menu provided a vast array of options for absolutely anyone from the meat and potatoes guy to the adventurous palate.

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I ordered the avocado scramble with egg whites, fontina cheese (gimme), cherry tomatoes, avocado, and scallions with potatoes and toast. I don’t like a ton of cheese in my eggs because it can overpower the other ingredients, but this had just the perfect complimentary amount. On the side I ordered the artichoke hash because a. It sounded so strange and b. It sounded so delicious! It was. MMM mmm mmm.

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Annie had the polenta gorgonzola. This was as yummy to eat as it is to say (I may have had a nibble or two of the polenta 😉 ). The meal included warm polenta, melted gorgonzola, clover honey, thick cut applewood smoked bacon and poached eggs. Needless to say, we left satisfied, energized, and FULL.

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Isn’t she just the cutest?!

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After breakfast we headed over to the Ferry Building. I had never been there but so many people kept saying it was a necessary part of SanFran. If I could imagine a place that would be “my kind of place”, this was it to a T. It consists of tons of little shops, farmer’s market type style grocery places, bakeries, cosmetic stands, why am I listing anything- they have EVERYTHING you could imagine! I could have spent the whole day, maybe a few days just exploring this place. BUT it was time for me to head home, and we kept saying how thankful we are that this wasn’t a “one time”thing. We basically live down the road from one another <3.

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Sunday evening consisted of cleaning and doing laundry. I feel like the house just gets trashed on the weekend running in and out and all over the place, so I enjoy the time to get everything back in place. DJ studied alllll weekend long. I feel bad talking about all these adventures, while the poor boy studies 😦 He is so supportive though and tells me to enjoy it while I can. I know this time is temporary, and I love that I have his support. I also missed going to church together, but it’s awesome because our Church has podcasts online you can listen to.

Monday it was back to school. DJ was cold-called in class for the first time and handled it like a champ. You go, hubbs. (Cold calling is when the professor just randomly calls on students and asks them a series of questions about the assigned case).

In the midst of Deej pursuing a rigorous degree, I decided to try my hand at a little snack I have had in the back of my mind.

Za’atar Zucchini Fries!

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You know the people who spend forever deciding between two ingredients in the grocery store? That’s me. But then, ironically, I also have this weird side where if I see something different or exotic, I MUST try it and grab it right off the shelf impulsively. So, I have had Za’atar sitting in my cabinet for the last half year. I decided to try it on some zucchini fries.

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I placed them with hummus and the flavor was fantastic! I couldn’t quite get them to crisp up, but maybe when I get the science down I will post a recipe for them.

For dinner I had some veggies that I wanted to use  along with some curry sauce. I threw it all together in a sauce pan with a little coconut milk, chobani plain greek yogurt, the Rogan Josh curry sauce, cottage cheese (to add a paneer-like feel), and shrimp (always shrimp).

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I had this little power spice blend leftover from a sampling from a runner box. Have you guys ever tried runner box? it’s a worthy investment- it basically provides all types of snacks, discount cards, energy drink powder, etc. and is delivered in the cutest box. It makes a great gift idea for anyone you know that is a runner too! Anyways, I threw in the blend because I felt like it would compliment the Indian spices well.

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I added some baked pita and dinner was ready to go! I will admit, the meal certainly needed a bit of salt, but once we added some salt it was pretty delish. The added spices were a perfect addition!

Tuesday I was busy working on the projects I have had for the week all day: Fixing lamps that were loose, hanging pictures, doing a big grocery run to restock the fridge, calling the state board (we are pals at this point), and sewing back on a button that fell off DJ’s shirt. I love to sew, but more than anything I love doing those little things for him. I’m not sure how I got so lucky to have him as my husband, but I relish every second of it.

Update with the state board: I should be approved to test in about two weeks- fingers crossed!!!! I won’t actually take the test in two weeks even if I do get approved, but you bet I will be buckling down with the studying!

At the store, some plantains caught my eye. I decided to try and reinvent some plantain chips like we had the other night. I dehydrated them along with some cinnamon apple chips in my dehydrator. I bought a super cheap one for I think $30 bucks at Walmart and it has lasted for years.

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The plantain chips are actually super good dipped in peanut butter. The cinnamon apple chips turned out addictingly good.

For dinner Wednesday night I tried Green Chef! Once again we had a coupon for the first time offer, and I knew with getting ready for company (more to come on that), we would be pretty busy. This was the perfect time to have these easy gourmet meals delivered! This company is basically the same as Blue Apron, just with different meal options and the claim to being organic. The meal made tonight was wonderful. I’m salivating again just thinking about it! It was apricot glazed chicken with rosemary fingerling potatoes (it’s a great day when you can eat a purple potato!) and arugula salad. I didn’t have the chicken but paired the arugula and potatoes with some leftover Indian from above. Everything I tasted was great, and DJ loved it. It’s the least I can do to provide the guy a good meal when he is working so hard. 

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Now for my super exciting update: The household project of the week! It may look easy to hang these pictures, but let me be very clear, it is not! DJ has a hawk-like detail-oriented eye, and he helped immensely with the measuring and hanging of the pictures. I tend to have a prideful spirit and do not like asking for help, but I truly could not have done it without him. It was awesome conquering this task together. It was also humbling seeing what just putting down my pride can do too!

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Over the next couple weeks my mom, best friend, and sister- in-law will all be in town! WOOHOOO. Friday, my mom, DJ, and I are heading to Eat/Drink San Francisco to sample food and drinks from all over the Bay area! As I told some of you, I am sure we will have plenty of suggestions for food stops to try if you come here- so stay tuned. I’m excited for DJ to have a full night off considering the last few nights have been study days late into the night and early wake-up calls. Have a wonderful rest of your week and weekend!

Wishing you a purple potato,

xo ❤

Mack

Albuquerque, New Mexico!

Time for a road trip- recap! After Fort Worth, we headed toward the Grand Canyon. We decided it would make sense to make one stop on the way. Albuquerque was the perfect distance to travel for the day, and we would be rolling in right around dinner time.  I eagerly turned to my TVFoodMaps, Zomato, and Yelp apps to find THE place to dine. The place that kept popping up with raving reviews was Monroe’s. I wanted to try authentic New Mexican Cuisine, and this did not disappoint!IMG_8181

I have never ordered a margarita before, and I thought what better place to try one than NM? It was fun to have the experience, but honestly it was probably my last. After a few sips, I wasn’t eager to have much more. However, if you like margaritas I bet you would love this, just not my cup of tea (or in my case, a glass of ole’ red). But my favorite part was the salt around the rim, mmm mmm. I am a sucker for sodium.

Monroe’s salsa was the best salsa I have ever had- hands down.

Don’t mind the no-makeup, travel all day look 😉

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Here is what I learned about New Mexican food:

  1. Breakfast is a big deal. Obviously, they know what’s up because it is the most important meal of the day.
  2. On most menus, you will see a combination of  more familiar “American” style cuisine (hamburgers, sandwiches) combined with authentic New Mexican delicacies.
  3. New Mexican cuisine heavily emphasizes enchiladas, burritos, tacos, and tamales. 
  4. Sopapilla is a light, fluffy piece of bread that is served with honey. Often, people will stuff it with beef, beans, cheese, chicken, or other goodies.
  5. Chile Relleno Is one of the greatest things on planet earth. Basically this is a flour tortilla stuffed with Puerto Rican beans, a whole stuffed chile (relleno), and cheese. It is smothered with red or green chile and extra chedder, usually served with calabacitas (a mix of squash, corn, and chile), sour cream, and a sopa. Many times you can add chicken or beef. I just chose the veggie one, and it was (wait there is no English word to describe this) so we will go  with MUY RICA!!!!!! Honestly, why have I not had this before? I feel like I have been missing out all this time. It makes me wonder what other things I am missing this whole time, AHH! Quarter-life crisis here.

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Old Town NM was fascinating. We explored this area on a on a Sunday, so most shops were closed, but the ones we did go into were an explosion of New Mexican culture. Whenever I go somewhere and see the engaging aspects of a culture it makes me want to delve into their history. I learned the basics throughout school, but seeing the uniquely Spanish architecture and the strong Native American influence inspired me to understand these cultures better. I find myself realizing how little I truly understand when exploring the world.

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DJ and I are starting a collection of pictures from each state to one day make a map of the US with a picture from each. We tried our best to get the Albuquerque name in the background, but knocked off the end. Oh well, proof enough that we were there!

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The next day we had breakfast at the hotel and then continued on our journey. I have never been in the Southwest before and I was enthralled with the views. I felt like I was right in the middle of a cowboy movie. I could not take my eyes away from the window. I told DJ my goal was to see a tumbleweed. He said there would be plenty once we got to Arizona and passed on to the Grand Canyon. Was there plenty? No! I didn’t see a single one, darn it. Guess it isn’t tumbleweed season?

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The wind gusts certainly were an experience. They were not too terrible for us, but DJ said when he was there last summer they could move your car into the next lane. I don’t think that was the type of Summer Wind that Frank Sinatra was talking about.

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On our drive to the canyon we kept seeing signs for a meteor crater in the Flagstaff area. We joked, “Hey let’s go see the giant hole in the ground before we see an even larger hole in the ground” (since we were going to the Grand Canyon the next day). Then we actually became excited about the idea after seeing about ten billboard advertisements for it on the side of the road. It was the fourth of July, and instead of just driving to arrive hotel early, we said why not stop and do something spontaneous on this holiday!

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We were so glad we did! This is the world’s best preserved meteorite impact site on Earth. It is estimated that the collision was an astroid that was traveling 26,000 mph. It is about 1 mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference, and more than 550 feet deep. It has actually been used for training for astronauts! The picture doesn’t do much justice for the size. IMG_6849

After exploring the interactive discovery center and having conversations about how we should stock up on canned goods for when the next one hits, we hit the road. Time to go the Grand Canyon!!! That deserves a separate post 😉 IMG_6898

Wishing you a spontaneous adventure,

xo ❤

Mack

A Prison, a Criminal, and a Lawyer

Friday, Friday, Friday! Woohoo! Well this past week just flew, didn’t it?! I have some interesting anecdotes to share from this past week, for sure! Also-sorry for the massive overload of recipes posted. I have had them sitting in drafts for a while and figured I should probably just post them already!

Real quick, last Thursday night I whipped up Blue Apron’s Curried Cod with coconut rice. You need this in your life. I promise. I talk about how Blue Apron works here, if you are curious 🙂

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Last Friday we went to the Orioles vs. Giants game with our family. Ya’ll know how we love our Orioles. However, I still jump during the National Anthem when everyone screams, “O’s”. Even after four games this summer I somehow forget that’s the thing to do! It always makes me leap like five inches off the ground. Anyone who has been to an Orioles game knows what I’m talking about. We went to AT&T park with our family, and this baseball park is easily one of the best in the country. I still prefer Camden Yards for it’s retro, 100% your at a cracker-jack-and-peanuts baseball game feel, but this is a close second! It overlooks the bay and you can actually watch boats come in and out of the pier.

 

Our dad (DJs side ) got us all baseball caps for the game (Not sure why I’m not wearing it in the picture above?!). But I LOVE baseball caps, and now have a new favorite! I think I have more “bad hair days” than the average person, so a new baseball cap is  a big deal. Plus it represents our team! The Orioles won, just so everyone is clear. Also, walking around San Francisco at night is quite beautiful. The place is always poppin’ and the Bay Bridge was absolutely gorgeous.

DJ and I shared a wonderful breakfast at the hotel before heading out for the day. I have seen smoked salmon and a bagel on many breakfast menus, but usually salmon for first thing in the morning sounds off. That day I was feeling up for trying it, and it was monumentally delicious. The concept is pretty simple too, and I might need to get some ingredients to have this at home sometime. It is paired with dill cream cheese, red onion, fennel greens, and capers. I think DJ probably got annoyed by me saying with every mouth-full, *muffled* “Oh muh gushhhhhhh, its suh guuuuuuuuud”.

IMG_8423We then headed out to *dun dun dun*- Alcatraz!!! I have been so excited for weeks since we planned this trip to go here and it surpassed my expectations! If you are planning a trip to San Francisco, this is worth your time. We took a ferry over, and the views and weather were perfection. We could not have asked for a better day, especially because the temperature tends to drop drastically when you are right on the water. A light jacket did the trick!

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We opted to do the audio tour, which is the best way to explore Alcatraz. It takes you on a journey using some of the real voices of previous inmates, guards, and workers. I don’t want to give much away because you have to go for yourself.

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** Side note: DJ always makes fun of my hands in pictures because he says it looks like I have a claw or some alien signal, lol.

Before we left for the day we did one of those bicycle carts. It was exhilarating whipping through the city on those!!!!!! Nothing beats a weekend with family. Those two days packed in memories I will always treasure <3!

Saturday night consisted of unpacking, cleaning the house up a bit, and DJ studying away. It is so strange having completely reversed roles. Last year I was studying non.stop. every single day, and DJ was in more of a “transition” year. Now he is the one studying his tush off. However, as soon as I get that approval to test for my nursing boards I am going to crack down! Then we can just be a couple of study bugs together.

IMG_7931Sunday morning we went to Church and it was awesome, cause really, would it be anything else?! I wear workout clothes to run errands and do everything around the house about 95% of the time, so before I changed into said comfy garb, I had DJ snap a shot to prove that I do wear normal people’s clothes for about two hours each Sunday!IMG_8473

For dinner, we had some leftover coconut rice and so I grilled up a whole bunch of shrimp in BBQ seasoning and some pineapple to throw on top!IMG_8474

Monday- Oh, Monday. This day was eventful! It was DJ’s first official day of law school, and I had a hair appointment. The contrast is striking.

I have been trying to get my color back to a more natural state and believe me, up close it was evident I needed to get something done. The roots were pretty bad! We were in one of those salons where each room is separate and owned by one or two hair stylists, but it all makes up one giant salon. Typically on Mondays salons are closed. The hairdresser took me because she was going away for the weekend and wanted to get another customer in. The salon was very quiet. However, as we were letting the color dry, a hairstylist came running from the other side of the salon screaming bloody murder. It was absolute pandemonium. She was running all over the place screaming, “He took it, he took everything!” through hysterical tears. Well apparently, she had just went to the bank, went to her salon, placed her purse on a chair, and used the restroom. When she came out it was gone. She remembered a man following her in, but assumed it was a maintenance worker since they do maintenance on Mondays when the salon is closed. The poor thing, I felt awful. We couldn’t locate him or the purse anywhere around the salon. My heart was definitely pounding. We called the police and they came along with her sons to help console her. Anyways, the hair turned out good (That sounds so absurd to mention on the heels of this horrible situation!). I am also 22 and still have no grip on curling my hair, so I was pumped that I got to rock it curled for the rest of the day.

For dinner, I made our last Blue Apron meal of the package. This one was summer vegetable and quinoa bowls. The flavor was just bursting. I learned so many different ingredients to cook with through Blue Apron, and I definitely would love to try it again at some point in the future!

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The next day for lunch I put some leftover on a salad.

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On Tuesday, I had one of those “I need extra coffee” mornings.

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I worked on several projects, and then made a meal I have had posted on the fridge since we came here. For a wedding gift, we received a subscription to Fine Cooking Magazine. This is a fantastic and unique idea for anyone who needs a gift for a couple that likes to cook! I try to clip recipes from there and put them on the fridge to try one when we are planning our meals for the week. It has been so much fun.

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This recipe was a sweet and spicy shrimp stir fry with a raisin glaze. It was like nothing I have ever made and it was INSANELY GOOD. However, I may have made it a tad too spicy. That’s saying a lot because usually the spicier the better for us. I will be making it again, but with fewer jalapeños. IMG_8621IMG_8618

Anyone else get annoyed when there are always those one or two last bananas that go bad? Well I hate waste; you would think our mom raised us during the depression. I decided to make three ingredients banana oatmeal raisin cookies. I can post a recipe for them soon! They aren’t the greatest cookies of your life, but they are a great snack with all natural sugars and just enough sweetness to help with a sweet tooth. And they are only 46 calories each, which is pretty good for anything with the name “cookie”. A few are great in the morning with coffee too!

On Wednesday I prayed that it would be better than the one before. AND IT WAS! Guess who conquered the book shelf?! This girl! Uh-huh, that’s right!!!

For dinner, I jumped right on that Zoodle train. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to make these because they are incredibly easy and tasty!!! I wanted to make an alfredo sauce from scratch and also a vegetarian version, but was running late,  like really late, so I threw in a can of Progresso Alfredo Chicken! I added some shredded chicken, garlic, daiya mozzarella, and a bit of tapioca starch and BAM- zucchini alfredo. DJ loved it. He couldn’t believe that it was actually healthy. I scrounged up some quick leftovers for myself since I was running so behind.

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What was I late for? Wednesday night is when our community group meets in Santa Clara. DJ, unfortunately, had to stay home. Law school is no joke, folks. He was feeling pretty overwhelmed at the beginning of the week, but I think is feeling better now. Figuring out exactly what to do, how to study, and what the professor wants is half the battle. He has the second half down (dedication and will), and I have no doubts that he will succeed!!

Here are a couple of projects that I finished up this week!

A. Guest Bedroom!

B. Our balcony!

Most everything is from Homegoods or Overstock.com.Woohoo! Start booking your tickets to come stay with us! **The balcony is attached to the guest room 😉
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On Thursday, DJ has his long day at school. I have my hiking group, and have to leave close to, or before, he comes home. I did make sure that there was some dinner for him in the fridge. I made salmon from Monterey Bay with a Hawaiian protein rice blend,and steamed broccoli. I love seasoning the skin on salmon so it crisps up when you bake it.

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The views on this hike were absolutely incredible. I love the bonds I am forming with these friends. They are amazing people. We also had a little (meaning a large and furry) friend join us! I have never seen a spider that massive in the states before. Hello, California!

After the hike my friend and I stopped in to a nitrogen ice cream place in Cupertino. They actually make ice cream out of nitrogen gas. Watching the process is quite entertaining. My phone was about to die so I couldn’t grab many pictures- guess I’ll have to go back 😉 The ice cream was sooo scrumptious! We split the Matcha and Salted Caramel. The flavor was vibrant, and yet the texture was incredibly light. It just melted right in your mouth, but was still creamy. We called it confusing, but confusingly delicious!

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One last thing I want to share is our new method for prayer. Our dresser was brought in on this giant wooden plank. It sent my creative alarms off, and I didn’t want to get rid of it. I told DJ I would figure out something to do with it and he kinda smirked like, “Oh no, what now?!”. DJ is a trooper to always roll with my makeshift ideas. For example, I made a jewelry holder four years ago out of a cooking pan, and refuse to use anything else. With this plank of wood, I have decided to create a prayer board. With white marker I write a prayer request, and then when it is answered, white it out. Our goal is to have the whole board changed to white to show how awesome God is in answering our prayers. I don’t expect this to be a quick thing, it could take years and years, and honestly it may never be completely white. God doesn’t always answer prayers in our time, but I have no doubt that He is faithful and we should pray expectantly. If you have a request, let me know, I can put it on for you!

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This morning I found out one of my my best friends, Rachel, passed her Child Life specialty exam. GO RACH!!!!!! So proud of you!

Tonight DJ and I are finally going to have a relaxing evening together, it’s his deemed “night off” of studying. We are going to try a new restaurant, but not quite sure where yet! Tomorrow I head to SanFran again to visit a friend from high school. (I don’t think I told you that, Mom- But Annie lives here!).

Wishing you an answer to prayer this week,

xo ❤

Mack

Bora, Bora, Bora

Anyone know the title’s reference? Gosh, I’m such a Netflix junkie. I really need to cool it. Anyways, I thought there would be no better time to do a recap post from our honeymoon than now considering we were there this time last year! We stayed at Four Seasons Bora Bora. Just saying the name makes my heart hurt a little because I miss it so badly! DJ and I both agree that every second of the trip was nothing short of magical. It was the perfect honeymoon. Dutch goes the photo has challenged us to submit something around the color “Blue”. I have to say there was nowhere in the world that I saw more beautiful blues. Here is my submission for the challenge. I think this photo captures so many different shades of gorgeous blues from a deep indigo to bright aqua.

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Traveling to the island was a fabulous adventure in itself. Tahitian airlines is highly recommended- the food is not your typical airplane food. We stayed one night in Tahiti before actually taking a smaller flight onto the island of Bora Bora.

** Side note: in the collage above I couldn’t decide if I wanted the food or our wedding rings to be the large picture. Shows where my priorities lay (lay or lie?! Ugh! IDK!). I digress.

When we first arrived they treated us like royalty. The staff offered us the most delicious mango juice we have ever had. I can still taste it. “La Orana” is a popular saying there for hello. You catch on quickly that you use this phrase frequently. The staff was incredibly friendly and we would always exchange the greeting in passing. DJ and I still joke around and say it to each other. It makes us miss this place something fierce!

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We then proceeded to our little bungalow. Bungalow, bungalow, bungalow. Just a super fun word to say, don’t you think? Looking back through these pictures I crack up at the number of ring pics I took. Such a typical newlywed girl! It was also sorta a big deal that my nails were done because I have them painted like .00005% of the time due to nursing and also just because I’m too impatient to let them dry.

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Generally, our days were pretty relaxed. I will hit on a few essential highlights.

First, we were greeted with the most exquisite champagne set-up. The coconut contained a delicious array of fruit and a jam for dippin’. Coconut strips are big in BB. They would hand them out casually to us when we were on the beach getting ready to go jet skiing or shark diving (more about this soon, no worries 😉 ) . IMG_8273

Next, one word: Breakfast. We would get up in the morning and go to the breakfast buffet. This is not your typical breakfast buffet, this is like blow-your-mind gourmet cuisine. It was so good that even Jimmy Kimmel ate there with his family! Nope, not kidding, JimKim and the Jennifer Aniston clan were all there post her wedding with Justin Theroux at the same time as us. One day DJ and I were passing Jimmy (first name basis here) and his wife. He smiled and said HI (H-I) to us! HI. Ya’ll don’t understand. Star stinking struck. But, back to the good stuff (food), we sampled everything under the sun. They had a ridiculous amount of fresh fruit, french crepes, parfaits, an omelette station, and fantastic coffee. DJ loved getting their juice of the day. I thought their french toast was out of this world. The jams were not just your typical Smucker’s jams either (& I love my Smucker’s!). They were so good that I took a few of the mini jars home with me and still have them in my fridge. They are too cute, so I don’t want to eat them!

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…THE VIEWS! Oh how gorgeous this island is. I do not even need to say much- I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Although, the pictures cannot even do justice!

Most days, we loved just lounging on the beach. I read The Girl on the Train, highly recommended, and DJ stayed in tune with the sports world reading ESPN articles. We loved ordering lunch on the beach or at a beach bar. There is something delightful about digging your toes in the sand while munching on a nice juicy burger (a tuna burger in my case).

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We decided we wanted to try a couple excursions, but not go crazy. Before my last arduous year of nursing, we wanted to make sure we relaxed as much as possible! We went jet skiing one day and then went swimming with sharks the next. One of the most insane things I have ever seen was an eel that snaked its ferocious head out of it’s cave as we swam by. image

Our guide played the ukelele for us as we floated along the blissful water. We stopped at different locations and the leader of the trip would give us fresh mango, starfruit, and of course, coconut! The fresh air, golden sun, and rocking of the boat made us sleepy between stops but then we would get a new rush as we saw the sharks circling the boat- the sharks that we soon would be swimming side-by side-with. Cue the jaws theme song!imageimageimageimageimage

Dinners were … as you might predict… fantastic. I can’t even describe in words the incredible amount of seafood available. Some nights we opted to do room service while looking over the pristinely blue water, and other times we tried the restaurants. **Of course, we had to get the pineapple pizza at one point 😉

What would a good vacation be without embarrassing moments? One night I tried to take a picture of the new Mrs. Aniston when she was only tables away from us. We were dining at Sunset Grille surrounded by fire tiki poles that lit up the dark sky and the sound of the waves softly crashing around us. I probably ruined her perfectly romantic dinner as my camera flash lit up the entire area. I wanted to bury myself in a hole. I was mortified. If she noticed, she was sweet enough not to say anything. Also, while on the treadmill, Jason Bateman came in. Jason-freaking-Bateman. He started running a couple treadmills down from me, and we were the only two in the room. I tried to think of anything to say, and nothing came to mind. I truly understand the meaning of speechless now. I could not think of a single word. He asked if I would mind if he turned the music down. I said, “yes, of course” probably a bit too excitedly, but hey whatevs. He gets it, he’s him. I continued to try to think of any kind of conversation starter but felt so overwhelmed, like I might have a stroke, so I left. I LEFT. Who just leaves when a movie star is within conversational distance?! HELLO. I still want to smack myself to this day. My Aniston picture ended up being a picture of my kneecap as I quickly turned the camera with the flash away, so we won’t share that… However, I asked the waitress to take a picture of us one night hoping she would capture our friends (Jimmy Kimmel, Jason Bateman, and their two wives) in the background, and sure enough she did!!! This is one of my favorite little grainy pictures from the whole trip.

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I loved doing yoga, handstands, and sunbathing on our back deck. We would watch for stingreys and angel rays off the back too.

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Luckily, there was only one day where it rained the entire trip. The rest of the time it was bright blue, sunny skies. However, I didn’t mind the refreshing tropical storm. I love storms in general. This picture was taken before it hit. The photo captures the mood, which was quite ominous, but strikingly beautiful as well.

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At one point during the week we received a couple’s massage. It was maybe the most relaxing hour of my entire life. The spa location was just breathtaking. The hot tub faces out into the foliage of palm trees, tropical plants, and the characteristically blue water. It was truly paradise.

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We awoke from our Polynesian dream and had to head back to reality. La Orana!!!!

Wishing you rest and relaxation this weekend,

xo ❤

Mack

Majestic Monterey, CA!

This past week has been a hodge-podge of different events! We spent most of the weekend keeping it low-key. We had a few things on the agenda to knock out to get ready for law school and more house stuff. I am so excited for the house to get finished up so I can share some pictures with you all 🙂

One of the weekend nights we went to Lyfe Kitchen in Downtown Cupertino. We love this eatery. It has all organic, fresh ingredients and it’s great for vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters alike. They even have fresh herbs growing right in the lobby.

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Main Street Cupertino is a happenin’ place. There are so many new places going up all the time. I can’t wait for Oren’s Hummus Shop to open!

I had been feeling lethargic for a couple days over the weekend. I think the move is finally catching up with me! The adrenaline rush has been helping with the continual discovering, running around, and exploring, but my body wanted a down-day. After having a nice, relaxing weekend, I had an awesome insanity workout with Shaun T. Anyone else do insanity out there? I love it! I have been doing it for six years now.I went through the full schedule twice, but now I just do my favorites about two or three times a week in between running or elliptical days. I can tell when my body has running fatigue, and that’s when I wake it up with an insanity interval!

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Procrastinating with Harry Potter Snapchat filter

One of the nights we felt so lazy we didn’t even want to order takeout. I was determined to find something in our cupboard to whip up. Welp, ya’ll, I’m pretty proud of this one (this was made with all ingredients that traveled all the way from Indiana with us).

Thai Coconut Tofu Bombay soup: Made with extra firm tofu, Amy’s Thai Coconut Soup, and bombay spice chickpeas. I also added a little red curry powder, cayenne, and chili powder for some extra spice and dazzle! DJ LOVED it. I took a picture of his starkly white empty bowl below once he gobbled it all up;).

We haven’t done a ton of grocery shopping since we have been so on-the-go, but we did take a nice walk to our favorite grocery store, Sprouts, to get some essentials. It’s about a mile and a half away, but with this weather, why not walk to the store! We forgot our bags, once again, and had to to the walk of shame with our brown purchased ones.

IMG_7643Something I absolutely cannot keep to myself is this rug that came in the mail. *INSERT HEART-EYES EMOJI*. Most of our apartment is neutral tones, but I couldn’t help add a little pizzazz on our balcony. People that know me know I have always been fascinated with India and Indian culture. This pattern just drew me in and reminded me of the beautiful, bright patterns and colors I witnessed in Chennai and Madurai. Oh, how I miss it. The good news is there is a boundless amount of authentic Indian cuisine spots to choose from within a three mile radius of our apartment. There is also an Indian grocery store. I cannot wait to try cooking Indian food with all the authentic ingredients. I’ll let you all know how that goes! IMG_7717

Now comes the highlight of our week. Our anniversary is August 8th, but that is right around the date DJ begins orientation for law school. In order to avoid weekend traffic we decided to celebrate our anniversary yesterday (Wednesday).

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He knows me well!

We went to Monterey, California for dinner and to stay the night in the most darling little Inn. It is about an hour and a half drive, but we were stuck in some serious traffic making it about a two hour drive. Let me tell ya, I was starvin’ marvin’. THE HANGER WAS REAL. Here is the progression of my snapchat photos to prove it. Gotta’ love the crazy filters.

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The downtown area of Monterey was a typical tourist trap; the type of place I always have sensory-overload-excitement attacks. I loved soaking in the unique shops and window shopping as we drove through the pier.

IMG_7786All we wanted was some phenomenal seafood for our anniversary dinner. What better place to go than this?! DJ booked us a reservation at the Chart House restaurant which overlooks the whimsical bay. We had a blast watching little otters play while we ate. I had a good view across the table from me as well 😉

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For an appetizer we tried the Ssamjang Shrimp (not sure how to pronounce the double “s” there- I just used the point method for that one). This included grilled shrimp with cajun spices, asian and indian dipping sauces, herb-marinated cucumber, red onion and heirloom tomato salad. The diverse flavors made this appetizer come to life. We savored every.single.nibble.

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For dinner we both decided to try Swordfish. We have never had it, but man, was it tasty. DJ had simply grilled with avocado, jalapeño, tomato, cilantro, and lime. I ordered the citrus ginger spiced swordfish with passion fruit sauce, hearts of palm salad, and a tropical fruit salsa. Swordfish resembles chicken pretty closely! It is a thick fish compared to most, and absolutely fantastic.

What is that amazing creation in the middle you ask? Creamed spinach, of course! Ya’ll know our obsession. If a place has it, we are guaranteed to try it. This made it on our “favorites list”. My all-time favorite still to-date is Ben and Jack’s creamed spinach in New York. I also weirdly put the spinach on my rolls to eat it. It was made to go on bread, trust me. I make sure we have plenty of the carby morsels before dinner arrives, or ask for another basket!IMG_7787IMG_7794

After the meal was over, we decided to forgo dessert (although they did look pretty dang good). The ONLY reason we passed it up was because we decided splitting some Ben and Jerry’s half baked froyo in our room sounded too good to pass up. The waitress still brought out a Mississippi mudpie for our anniversary. It was too sweet! The service and foot at Chart house is phenomenal. I highly recommend it to anyone.

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This was jus’ something else. I have never tried Mississippi mudpie before, but it had a coffee flavor to it that I couldn’t resist. But don’t worry we still got our Ben and Jerry’s Froyo!

The views from the Tickle Pink Inn, where we stayed the night, were nothing short of magical. When we arrived in Monterey, there was a dark, somber gray over the water. It was so different than the last four weeks of sunshine we have been experiencing, but a pleasant change. I love gray skies. I think there is something enchanting about the green of foliage surrounded by the deep, billowy clouds. The views around us were simply majestic. I felt as though I was in a storybook.

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The inn greeted us with a lovely bottle of Champagne and a box of chocolates. It’s like they knew I was coming or something 😉 There were also two spoons placed in clear view near our complimentary coffee station; serendipitous considering we needed two spoons for our froyo??! I think so!

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This Inn was the definition of quaint. It was the most perfect place to celebrate an anniversary. (Great choice, Deej!) In the morning we had breakfast while overlooking the somber, peaceful waters.

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Greek yogurt on whole wheat toast with granola and blueberries and a fantastic view

The next week brings DJ’s orientation for law school, me finally doing a full grocery trip and getting back to cooking and studying for the NCLEX.

Wishing you lots of magical moments,

xo ❤

Mack