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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Adventures of a Weekend; Memories of a Lifetime

I truly do not even know where to begin!!!! Since Thursday, there have been memories made that I will treasure for my entire life. So, without further adieu, welcome to one of the greatest weekends for the books!

It all began Thursday morning. I woke up bright and early and zipped to SF to meet one amazing individual….

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….KM from Ankhor You! I can’t tell you how surreal it was to meet this beautiful lady in person!!! She is such a gem, and truly the energy, love, and kindness that she shares through her blog she radiates in person equally. This is the first time I’ve met someone that I initially met through blogging, and I can’t stop talking about how nice it was to sit down and have a cup of coffee with her! (And of course, we met at Peet’s 😉 ).

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I also had the pleasure of meeting her lovely friend, Sarah! Ugh I wish we all lived closer so we could hangout!

Please come back soon, dear. SF loved having you guys here!  It was SUCH a joy to spend time with these two- have I made that clear?! Ok- good! I’m just glad I didn’t scare them away! Hahah.

JJ- we’re coming for you next!

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The rest of Thursday I went grocery shopping, cleaned a bit, finished up laundry, and napped (GASP!!!).

Friday, DJ’s mom (whom I’ll call Mom L for the purpose of the blog), and Gordie (Step dad!) flew into SF! They arrived at our place around 11:30 in the morning. I was giddy all morning to see them. It felt far too long since Christmas!

I have been ecstatic to show them around our stomping grounds. The last time they were here was to move us in- a time reminiscent of a giant Uhaul, an empty apartment complex, and zero food in the fridge.

BUT this time, I was able to show them the transformation of the empty walls into a livable home, and we all shared some good snacks to tide us over until dinner that night!

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You can never go wrong with cheese and crackers, can I get an AMEN?!

DJ came home from work early at about 2:00, and I had to go back to the dentist to get my final cap put on my “yellow tooth” at 2:30 (hallelujah that is over with)! Also— you know I can’t go on without pointing out the irony that I went to the dentist at 2:30—- GET IT?!

For the weekend, they said they wanted to experience all our favorite restaurants/spots since we have been here. Mom L is a loyal follower of the blog, so she knew I would have great foodie spots for us to go to 😉

Orchard City Kitchen was our first on the list!

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The first time we went here was in September of last year with a friend of DJ’s. It quickly made it’s way to the top of our favorites due to it’s rustic yet modern ambiance, it’s unique menu, and of course, it’s phenomenal food!!! The way this works is you order about four of five small dishes and share them with the table. Each bite is jam packed with flavors unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

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We started with their famous triple B (biscuits, bacon, and honey butter). I don’t know what it is about this, but it’s the kind of thing that just sticks in your memory (PUN INTENDED). The biscuits were perfection, the butter was some of the best honey butter EVER, and the bacon (I observed) was tremendous. This little dish was talked about almost every day after for the rest of the weekend.

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Next we tried the lobster dumplings. These had karashi su miso, black vinegar, fennel, and kizami nori… yeah yeah none of us really know what any of that is- but we do know they were a winner!

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Next was the rainbow cauliflower salad. This had ricotta-yogurt, beets, radish, romanesco, and curried tenkasu. It was decent, but in light of everything else at the table, it may have been a bit underwhelming. Although, I will say the mix of the ricotta yogurt and curried tenkasu was a wonderful combination! The spices of the tenkasu and the coolness of the yogurt was the perfect balance.

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Ready for your mouth to really start watering? This is the spaghetti & calamari dish with bolognese, fried calamari, and parm. I tried a small bite of the calamari and the spaghetti- Wowzers Mctrowsers. So yum.

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We also tried the adobo pork shanks. This was accompanied by pickled green papaya relish, li hing mui, puffed rice, and cilantro. I did not try the pork- but everyone seemed to love it. I can attest, however, that the accompanying salad was mangifico.

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The last thing we tried was the torn salmon with charred avocado, cucumber, kumquats, black pepper sauce, and tzatziki. This was terrific! Quite possibly some of the greatest salmon I have ever tasted.

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We came home and watched some of the OJ Simpson documentary on Hulu while our food digested. It’s long, but captivating beginning to end. Anyone seen it?!

Once we had a bit more room, we headed to …. *drumroll*.. CREAM! (They said they wanted to sample the best, so no judging for us being here twice in less than a week 😉 ).

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And just to prove to you all how cool my in-laws are, guess what they ordered?! The formidable Sundae of Champions!!!!

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SO proud ❤

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DJ ordered an ice cream sandwich, so I nibbled a bit on his.

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My phone went ballistic when we got home and wouldn’t turn back on. Especially with this new job starting I tossed and turned all night worrying about my phone.

On Saturday morning, I went for a nice long run to work out the nerves. DJ had to work for a few hours, and Mom L recommended that we could go in and get a new phone. I didn’t want them to have to go to the store with me on their time here, but they were incredibly gracious standing with me as I figured out the new phone situation. It all was for the best because it allowed me to grab some crisp photos for the rest of the weekend!

After working up an appetite figuring out the new phone, we headed to Bill’s Cafe! (This one probably looks super familiar as well). I knew this place would not disappoint. DJ finished up his morning shift and met us just in time to order!

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We started with yummy coffee and Bill’s Famous Mimosas!

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Mom L ordered their Bread Pudding French Toast. This is their famous bread pudding baked with walnuts and raisins, dipped in a rich batter and grilled to perfection, topped with fried banana and a special bread pudding sauce. They have a disclaimer next to it- “Only served at Bill’s”. Mom L raved about how good it was, and when I took a bite, I understood why. Ohhhhhh my lanta. Even if they do serve bread pudding elsewhere, this one, I guarantee, is the best.

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Gordie ordered their Parisienne French toast which was a croissant baked fresh daily in their oven, dipped in egg batter and grilled, sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. (This is what Danielle ordered when I went with her after the hike!). I raved about it in the last post! Gordie concurred that it was rave-worthy and worth the hype.

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DJ ordered their chocolate chip pancakes! Cannot go wrong with a classic!

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I ordered their French Garden Omelette again with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and avocado. I usually try to order different items each time I go to a restaurant, but I couldn’t resist. It was just too delish last time and it was hitting my “crave” buttons. I ordered the dish with egg whites this time and they were just as tasty as the regular eggs from last time. I also tried the potatoes, and although I loved their hash-browns, these potatoes were on a different level!!!

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After our beyond satisfying breakfast we made the gorgeous drive down the 280 into SF. (In California highways are referred to as “The”, which I’m having a hard time adapting, but I’m giving it my darndest!).

Once we found parking (which is always a feat), we headed to the Ferry building. I was showing Mom L the different shops and pointed out the Peet’s where I met KM. Two seconds later guess who I spotted?!

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Her and Sarah! SO crazy! It was a wonderful unexpected treat to see these two beauties again! They were about to travel home for the evening, but I was glad they had such a great time in the city. Naturally, K and I grabbed one more picture together for the road. I cannot wait to read her posts!

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While walking around, we couldn’t believe the weather was actually this perfect. It’s been a record breaking rainy season, so we just kept saying Mom and Gordie brought the good weather with them and would have to move here so it stayed this nice!

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We enjoyed the brilliant sunshine and energy that it brought out to the pier. Everyone seemed to be in a fabulous mood, and the pier was filled with artists, musicians, painters, and street vendors who filled the roads with creativity and scents of delicious wafting food.

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And of course we had to peruze the notable Pier 39.

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DJ’ favorite part of the pier is viewing the sea lions. They are hilarious to watch. Free entertainment right there!

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Ok- are these two not the cutest ever?! Ah, I just love em’.

For the evening, DJ suggested we do a twilight cruise! It’s impossible to pick a favorite part of the weekend- but this cruise was undeniably a glowing highlight!

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Our photogenic little bird friend

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Selfie with the photogenic little bird friend

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The views from this cruise coupled with the stupendous day created an experience nothing short of magical. We passed under the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, AT & T park, and The Bay Bridge!

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I love these pictures below so much 😂 if you can’t tell it was a bit windy!

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Once we watched the sunset, we headed down to the main floor to grab hor dourves and drinks. They had us under the impression that light snacks were being served- but we easily made a scrumptious dinner of their fruit and cheese board, hummus, crackers, sandwiches, spinach pastries, and wraps.

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The view of the city transformed from a glowing reflection of the oranges and reds of the sun into twinkling lights of the skyline. The Bay Bridge lit up and majestically provided a gleaming point of reference as we sailed on the moonlit Pacific water.

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After the cruise and discussing how this would be a night to remember forever, we braved our way through the cold (50s) to Ghiradelli square. You could follow the scent of chocolate (and use your GPS just a little) and find your way!

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After peaking around the plethora of cutesy shops and boutiques, we somehow found ourselves in line for their World Famous Hot Fudge sundae. Imagine that! 😉

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The picture I think speaks for itself. If you are a hot fudge sundae fan, add this to your food bucket list!

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We ubered back to where we parked and all slept like babies that evening.

Sunday morning we went to Church all together. DJ and I were thrilled that we could share our church with them. It’s a huge part of our lives living out here and it was a blast introducing them to all our friends, worship beside them, and discuss the message afterwards. When we would all go to church together in Ohio we would usually get brunch out or at home after and have great conversation over what we all gleaned from the preaching. It felt so good to do that again, only this time on the other side of the country!

This brunch included none other than Los Gatos cafe! Home of the epic, mammoth, insanely delicious cinnamon roll!

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This place has an extensive Benedict’s menu. Mom L and I each ordered one, and the guys ordered crepes!

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Poached eggs FTW!

After another memorable foodie experience we made our way down Palm drive to Stanford University. We showed them around the gorgeous campus, stopped in the bookstore, and then zoomed past the building I’ll be working in a nurse nearby. It made me feel better to see the actual place- it’s less intimidating when you can tangibly see something and it’s not some vague idea in your mind! (Vague ideas and unknowns become monsters very quickly in my mind when they aren’t put in their place!).

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The last time we were at Stanford’s campus like that was with my Aunt and Uncle– made me miss them lots!!

Anyway, as though this day wasn’t fun filled enough, we had one of the greatest adventures to come right around the corner.

Back in October when I was looking up Halloween festivities, GrandView restaurant  on Mt. Hamilton came up as a haunted place. (I don’t actually believe it’s haunted- just all to be festive)!

It ended up being one of our all time favorite dinners and memories. This is a hidden gem that I tell everyone they must experience at least once if they come out here!

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We came right on time to witness a spectacular sunset.

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One of my prayers is to look half as good as my momma-in-law when I’m her age!

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I also played with my camera a ton while being here!

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We were then seated for dinner. We had the most fabulous shrimp cocktail, a refreshing caprese salad, lobster carbonara for Mom L and Gordie, crab stuffed salmon for myself, and a pasta dish for DJ. Us girls were given the “good view” side of the table overlooking the Silicon Valley. The waiter said it was because the guys already had a good view 😉

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We finished off this unbelievably savory meal with a slice of cheesecake to share. I loved the addition of the dark chocolate chips on top! It complemented the sweetness of the cheesecake perfectly.

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We snaked down the long mountain and hit the hay. The next morning they headed back to Ohio ): I’m thankful for these memories created in such a short span of time that will last a lifetime.

Love you Mom and Gordie and so thankful for you!

Monday night DJ and I watched bachelor and gawked at the awkwardness that occurred on after the final rose. Anyone watch?! OH my goodness- poor Rachel.. she handled it like a champ though (the whole meeting the men early situation).

The rest of this week I am gearing up to start my new job Monday!!!  I could use prayers- the nerves are real! I can’t wait to give you all and update on how orientation goes. Thank you always for your love and support.

xo ❤

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Crazy Eats & Crazy Conversations!

HAPPY HAPPY WEDNESDAY (probably Thursday now?), everyone! Thank you for all your sweet wishes to recover- I am happy to report that my hearing and ear is almost back to 100%. What a ride! I won’t take the ability to hear for granted any longer.

I’m thankful that I was sick when I was though. I start work on March 20th, so truly, if that was going to happen thank goodness it did sooner than later! I felt so isolated these last couple weeks being sick, so Friday when I slightly started turning the corner, I decided to go out for a nice run!

These trees!!!

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During the day I was able to get my butt moving and get the house clean, get laundry done, all that jazz. On my way home from an errand I spotted a little hole in the wall place broadcasting Malaysian cuisine. Naturally, I flew to YELP, and this unassuming storefront had raving reviews. As it was Friday date night, I texted DJ to see if he would be interested in trying it out. He is always down for literally whatever always, so we eagerly awaited what this Malaysian cuisine entailed.

He has been arriving home later than usual with the new job. It’s totally fine- just an adjustment for planning out dinners and everything. As soon as he walked in the door I had my shoes and coat on ready to go- I was HUNGRY hangry. We jetted to Layang Layang on S. De Anza Blvd.

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It felt authentic as they come. It was also jam packed which is always an excellent sign. The decor screamed Malaysian (at least I think? I don’t know much about Malaysia). It actually reminded me a touch of the ethiopian restaurant we tried out, but the food was not at all similar.

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Malaysian food mirrors thai food incredibly closely (which makes sense). Thai is definitely one of my favorites, so I was salivating while scrolling the menu.

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We started with their Satay Tofu, which was decent, but not the greatest tofu in the world.

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I settled on a red curry tofu and DJ tried their Hakkien Mae with thick yellow noodle in heavily flavored soy sauce with chicken, shrimp, and veggies.

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DJ, surprisingly, loved it more than I did. I’m still convinced Olarn has the BEST red curry around. I still have to take DJ there because he is a big red curry fan too.

Saturday DJ had to work, and I was squeezing in a long 14 mile run for my marathon training. One of our friends from church is moving to Oakland and borrowed our truck for the day to help with the move. As a thank you, they brought us these out-of-this-world donuts from Donut Savant. Like, holy moses, I can’t even explain— the FLAVOR! AHHH! I want to go here again and try all their flavors. The pecan one may have been my favorite, and DJ said their glazed was competitive with some of his top tiers. The one next to the pecan one is actually a candied ginger with a light vanilla frosting. It sounds like a strange combination- but it was pleasantly palatable.

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We didn’t do much Saturday night. It was rainy out and we were both exhausted. I still didn’t feel like I had my mojo back all the way and we decided to have a chill evening. I’m trying to take advantage of them while I can because I know soon they will be few and far between. I still hate just laying around without doing something productive. I get far too ancy. DJ will plead with me to relax, so as soon as I can concoct something productive to do while sitting and “resting”, I give in. I decided to go through the photos on my laptop and delete any randoms, multiples, etc. I went from 14,000 photos to about 7,000 photos. There is just something about getting rid of stuff that is like a weight lifted. I’ve had that on my “to-do” list for a looong time and it’s such a nice relief that it’s actually done!

When Sunday came we went to church bright and early. I only stayed for the first service because my ear was not hanging in there well. The noise and music sounded chaotic and the drum started to throb.

BUT. It was the commissioning service for the leaders of the church. I had been sick and had my interview, so I missed two sessions and will make them up next round. DJ graduated though, and I am immensely proud of the humble, loving, kind, strong leader he is!

When he plopped on the couch in the afternoon I made him a big lunch and then he declared he had a sweet tooth. The sun was shining (an unusual occurrence), so we decided to take a walk to CREAM! I mentioned this place in one of my VERY first posts from moving here, and we haven’t been back together since.

Long overdue.

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This place is crazy. They make the most mouth-wateringly delicious ice cream sandwiches around with endless flavors, some of which are unique like their green tea ice cream and vegan cookies. HELLO, CALIFORNIA!

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I wasn’t having too much of a sweet tooth, and decided to just nibble on whatever DJ got. Sharing is caring 😉

Lucky for me, he ordered more than enough. He decided to try their Sundae of Champions. This consisted of two fresh baked cookies, three scoops of ice cream, one LARGE crumbled brownie, a do’sant sandwich (donut ice cream sandwich), and whipped creme with sprinkles. This diabetes in a cup sundae was a sight to see! Everything tasted fresh and delicious. The brownie was our personal favorite part.

And of course, I had to take more than enough pictures to document 😉

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On Monday, I had a hike planned with one of my good friends. This is the first day that I felt my ear wasn’t entirely muffled. We planned to meet at 9 am and when I parked the car I saw a bunch of turkeys just roaming around. I feel like lately I have seen so many random wild birds. So here is your wild bird of the post!

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Despite the annoyance of the rain (it was raining this morning too a matter of fact), it was a gorgeous hike with sprawling green foliage and cascading moss everywhere you looked. It felt like a fairytale. We decided to hike for about an hour.

We hiked….

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and we hiked….

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and we hiked some more…

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Annnnnd then I realized we were lost.

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After about two hours of going straight up the mountain in the rain, I knew that we were not on the path I thought we were on…. WHOOPS

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We saw one lady at the top, who may have been scarier than the mountain lion I enountered. She didn’t speak great english, and she kept asking us,”What path you take?” “You take that path”?!” “Avoid the dead bodies!” “Oh, good!”. We exchanged perplexed looks and just told her we had taken wildcat trail.

“Oh good!! No dead bodies!”

She hurried off in the other direction and I looked at Danielle super confused. I go, “Did she say dead bodies?!”. Danielle said, “that’s what I heard- unless she was mispronouncing something like a trail name. Let’s keep an eye out on the news”. Hahaha.

I really do not even know how to comment on that encounter. It was one of the strangest things to ever happen to me.

I apologized profusely to Danielle for getting us lost in the rain and mud and on behalf of the crazy lady. She was SUCH a trooper about it all.

This was taken at the top of the mountain. Unbeknown to us, we still had an hour of hiking left!

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Three hours later, with stomachs growling, shoes thick with mud, and tons of laughs we made it back to the car with the guidance of some helpful ladies we saw hiking.

We decided to try Bill’s Cafe which has a notorious reputation for being one of the best breakfast and lunch spots in San Jose. Luckily, it wasn’t crowded when we arrived around 12:30 and we were seated right away.

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Their menu has everything you can imagine for breakfast. They have a section for pancakes, waffles, benedicts, scrambles, omelettes, skillets, french toast, etc. etc. EVERYTHING. Danielle ordered this parisienne french toast which was a giant CROISSANT baked fresh dipped in egg batter and grilled sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. She graciously offered me a taste, and WOWZA- we were both impressed with just how much flavor was packed in it. Now we know- make french toast with croissants. (You can see the creation in the second picture below)

I ordered their french garden omelette. It had goat cheese, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, avocado, mushrooms, and basil. I usually order my omelettes with egg whites, but after this accidental hike, I could use all the refueling I could get! It was one of the greatest omelettes I’ve ever had. The sun dried tomatoes in it tasted so fresh and I wanted to ask what kind they used. It was maddeningly delicious!

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This week I did an order of Blue Apron (WOOHOOO!). I love love love love Blue Apron and for my birthday I got a giftcard (Obviously someone knows me well ;)). I could talk about it for days. I may make a separate post to describe in depth all the pros/cons and share all my thoughts!

For the first meal on Monday, I made a Moroccan Chicken for DJ and had my giant salad to use up some leftover veggies in the fridge. I don’t have a ton of experience cooking meat dishes, so Blue Apron is great with helping me learn in that arena.

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I tried the sauce and it was SOOOOO good! I want to recreate this with tofu!

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Monday night- BACHELOR! We made two mega cookies for this one- our usual chocolate chip tollhouse and then a massive hot cocoa tollhouse one (they are addictive, beware).

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Yesterday I made the Spicy Shrimp Coconut Curry from Blue Apron for dinner. I’m mad at it for not turning out too photogenic, but it was delicious!

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Today I have to go to the mall to find “business casual” clothes. UGH. I’m dreading it. I may be the only girl on the planet that truly just does not enjoy shopping all that much- especially when I have to find something.

BUT…. there is a very exciting weekend ahead, and I can hardly control my excitement…

Hope you all are having a beautiful week so far!

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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A Valentine’s Day Weekend Recap!

Hello, friends!!! I am officially taking nominations for “worst blog friend ever” for the last two weeks. UGH! Life has been hectic and not only am I behind on responding to the sweetest comments in the world, but I’m soooo behind on your lives too. Just know I DO CARE. I was a bit cranky last night and told DJ it was “blog withdrawal”. Next week will be a teensy bit calmer and I am determined to catch up then.

But for now I have about an hour between getting my physical done for my job and my uniform fitting, so naturally I found a Peet’s on campus and am parked out to write a quick Valentine’s week update!

Ya’ll know DJ and I are foodies. And I’m alll about the whole “idea” and experience of a food experience. I live my life basically by a series of cliches, and I’m totally fine with it. For example, Valentine’s Day weekend… what type of food do you think of?  Italian, right?! Baci! Delizioso! Tutto finisce a taralluci e vino!!!! (yep, googled every single one of those words, the last phrase is my personal fave).

But really, what is more romantic than that? So naturally, I looked up some good Italian restaurants in SF. We found a place that was reasonably priced and still had reservations for Friday night called Bella. When we walked in, the ambiance was romantic perfection. It had a quaint “hole in the wall” type feel and aren’t those always the best? The staff was characteristically friendly and every bite of the food was purely a reminder that Italian food is one of God’s greatest gifts. (It was one of those meals where you pray before the appetizers, but then feel like you should pray again when the main course comes because…THANK YOU, JESUS!)

What we ordered:

House Red Wine: I would describe this as some type of Red Blend- not quite as dry as a Cab, more comparable to a Shiraz. Muy bien. Oh wait that’s Spanish.

Appetizer: Salmone e bruschetta: Wild smoked salmon and mascarpone bechamel over bruchetta. This was my favorite part of the meal.

Dinner: Aglio E Olio Cu Verdure for me: Garlic Confit, Peas, Roma Tomatoes, Zucchini, Asparagus, Bread Crumbs, over quinoa noodles (Yes you can substitute ANY dish for the quinoa noodles, which were fantastic!). I don’t remember what DJ had- but it was foodilicious. I liked his better than mine. The red sauce was to die for.

Dessert: They brought us out a complimentary custard dessert. We were so stuffed, but we had to try some! It was a cross between flan and cool whip, we couldn’t quite figure it out, but it topped up the meal nicely!

We decided to stay in SF for the night since I had a race in the morning in Sausalito! Hence, after dinner we went to a hotel that we found on Groupon for dirt cheap. We kept saying we don’t know how we got such a great deal on this place. I kept checking our receipt because I couldn’t believe they had a room for that low. But if you are in SF and need somewhere to stay, check out Groupon for the Fairmont .

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My favorite part of the hotel was the courtyard. It was decked out with twinkling lights and overlooked the gorgeous skyline of the city. DJ is the one between the two of us that has the directional sense, so he pointed out the different landmarks to me. We could see Coit tower providing an unique view than usual!

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We decided that pre-race desserts were necessary. I am a BIG believer in eating something sweet the night before a race. I always have my best runs when I have something sugar -laden in my system! For example, last year, DJ’s mom made this amazing rhubarb cobbler the night before my last half marathon and I swear that was the most significant contributing factor to having a great race that day! I also PR’d in high school on donuts. I experimented for ya, K? You can take my word for it!

We ended up choosing a red velvet cheesecake and a banana cream  pie to share. It was the perfect Valentine’s day dessert.

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Saturday

4:45 am-Wakeup Call!

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DJ is SUCH a trooper to always get up with me at the break of dawn for these races. He does it with such an encouraging spirit too. I am incredibly thankful for him if I don’t make that clear ❤ Gonna be extra sappy because, v-tines day and all that 😉

I think he would whole heartedly agree the views were worth it. Seeing the sun rise while deep in the mountains was absolutely majestic. The waves pounded on the stone walls that lined the shore in a mesmerizing way. We couldn’t get over the beauty. And with each passing hour the sky and surrounding landscape took different forms, capturing the light in different ways, and demonstrating it’s versatile beauty profoundly.

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I ran the Coastal Train Runs Half Marathon. If anyone is considering this race, I want to give a bit of a detailed review. For those that don’t care you can totally skip this part (wait you can totally skip all of this post— but you can extra-skip this haha).

  1. When you arrive, try to carpool because you can park closer to Rodeo Beach without shuttling (and then you can wait in your car because it was freezing in the morning!).
  2. WEAR LEGGINGS! Especially if there was recent precipitation. You will be brushing up against a ton of foliage and you want to avoid getting thorns or ticks or anything like that on ya.
  3. There are two restrooms in the concrete building near the starting line. They had an additional 5 porta potties (roughly). I was able to go to the bathroom twice before the race started which is actually pretty good compared to most races.
  4. Don’t do this race as your first. (Maybe the 5k, but certainly not the half). This was the hardest half I have ever done (it’s my fifth), and I’m in some of my best shape. To give you an idea, the fastest male time was 1:33. Yeah. HARD! The first 6-7 miles feel like straight incline, so if you don’t like hills, this is NOT the one for you! (2,550 feet gained elevation). But if you want the challenge- go for it! One of my favorite things was the fact that I knew there was no way I could get my PR, so I just enjoyed it almost leisurely. I took pictures, snapchats (yes- haha), and actually tried to soak up the views around me. I have never raced leisurely like this, so it ended up being a fun, original experience!
  5. The race is not organized like most, so pay attention! When they tell you your race’s color marking strip, take note. This is not a massive race, so there are times where you may not be able to just “follow the crowd”. At times I felt super isolated in the mountains, BUT I had views of the Golden Gate to keep me company!
  6. This might be one of the most gorgeous races you will ever have the chance to run. The views are truly breathtaking. They will leave you in awe.
  7. The food stops were amazing. There were more snacks than I have ever seen (but there are only two stops the whole race- one at mile 4 (ish) and one at mile 8 (ish). There are restrooms at these two stops too, but that’s about it.
  8. There is not much cell service! If you have music you want to listen to, download the songs! I was planning on listening to Spotify, but only had about four songs downloaded. Yes- I listened to those 4 songs on repeat the entire race. HA! Needless to say, I’m not going to be listening to them again for a while.
  9. Post race- Food and snacks were ON POINT. They have alllll kinds of goodies. The fresh watermelon was my favorite. They also had beer, which I always find kind of ironic. But hey, ya earned that brewsky. (Words from a nurse- make sure you rehydrate first though!).
  10. You get to see the Golden Gate in a way you won’t be able to elsewhere. It’s incredible to run past  the notorious landmark in the mountains! Such a cool experience.

Here are some “Racy photos”. Lolololol. I can’t help myself, guys, I really can’t.

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Personal Results:

60th place out of 267 overall

3rd in my age group

Pace: 10:24 (which makes me cringe, but that’s how hard it was ya’ll!).

Final time: 2:16.

PR: 1:39.

Chelsea, I think you should take this one because you would demolish it!

Now introducing a monumental SF food update. We have officially discovered one of the BEST brunch place in SF. (Yelp confirms this!)

S W E E T  M A P L E

Where to begin? We headed here right after the race because I was bound to be garbage disposal for all things food the rest of the day. I am not usually hungry immediately after a race, but when the hunger hits, it HITS.

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It was crowded beyond belief. I suggest dropping someone off to put your name in and the finding parking. We ended up parking down the road at a meter (the meters do accept credit/debit cards!). Take my word, patience is not my strongest fruit of the spirit to be a hundo, but it’s worth the wait!

We were seated outside and they gave us blankets to help with the chill. It was a beautiful day, but I loved the gesture and the post race chills can definitely get ya!

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Post race mimosa & coffee. With it only being 10:30 in the morning, the sun shining, everyone in a jovial mood, and sitting across from my love after a great and strenuous race I had a moment of, “ahhhhh it’s a perfect day” *sip*.

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If you go to Sweet Maple, you must get their millionaire bacon. It’s sorta what they are famous for. I didn’t try it, but DJ’s expression when he tried it and his verbal expression of “this is the greatest bacon ever” affirmed it’s prized position. Here’s it’s description:

As featured on “United States of Bacon” of Discovery Network. Thick, free range bacon, baked with brown sugar, cayenne, red and black pepper. 

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DJ ordered their Swedish buttermilk pancakes. Swedish pancakes are a bit thinner than normal, which is how DJ and I both prefer ours. I’m not a huge pancake person, but WOWZA. The flavor packed into these cakes blew me away! They had almost a light cake flavor to them. And their syrup is authentic Vermont maple syrup. The whole thing- sensationally delicious.

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I ordered their athenian omelette which had mixed mushrooms, arugula, olives, and goat cheese. THe giant slice of ciabatta au levain and side potatoes that came with it was my favorite part. These were the best breakfast potatoes I have ever had (even better than Los Gatos Cafe, which is saying something!). They are a medley of sweet, colored, and white potatoes in an herbed mix. Mind-blowingly delicious.

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One of my favorite parts of the meal was their jam. Oh my lanta… I’m a sucker for a good jam and this was just top-notch.

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The rest of the day we napped, I think from like 1 to 5 pm. I ran errands in the evening and DJ and I cleaned the house a bit before vegging out to watch some Dexter.

Sunday DJ and I went to the SF location of our church for the baptism service! Our church is one church, three locations- one in Palo Alto, one in San Jose, and one in SF. Palo Alto is where the lead pastor preaches and then it is broadcasted on a screen at the other locations. The worship is live at all three locations too. Since DJ has a truck (which is not a common occurrence out here), we drove down the baptism tank. It was so nice to meet some new friends that Sunday and catch up with some old ones! The service was held at a different location than usual at the Grand Theater in Mission District (an upcoming hidden gem in SF).

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There is an amazing coffee shop next door called Grand Coffee that I couldn’t pass up to start the day.

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After service we had to drain the tank then loaded back up the tank which took some time. We finally made it back home by 5 pm, and then turned around to go to dinner with from friends at Enjoy’ Seoul at 6 pm! Sushi and seaweed salad was hitting the spot after a pretty tiring  (but great) day!

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On Monday I went with a friend to Crepevine in Willow Glen for breakfast. This was the first time I visited Willow Glen and the strip we were on was adorable. This place is definitely going to have to be revisited for date nights! We had some delicious coffee, yogurt, and crepes!

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We spent the afternoon shopping for her birthday!

In the evening, DJ and I enjoyed some DELICIOUS Shari’s Berries from DJ’s mom. YUM. They came at the perfect time for Bachelor night! This take valentine’s day treats to a new level! The truffles were divine! We savored every bite. The cheesecake was insanely good and the chocolate covered strawberries were so good it made me wanna cry. Like have you ever had something so good you just think, “Is this even legal?”. Yeah… that was Shari’s Berries. Men, take note. This is what you need to get your ladies for V-tines day next year, and it’s what they want. Take it from me!

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Tuesday was Valentine’s Day!!! DJ and I traditionally like to stay in on actual Valentine’s Day and make either pizza or pasta and celebrate the weekend before (hence Bella’s). This time we made chicken alfredo. I made a zoodle alfredo with vegan chik’n strips in mine to make it vegetarian!

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On Wednesday I had orientation for Random Acts of Flowers. This is a phenomenal organization that receives floral leftover donations from florists/Trader Joe’s/etc. They then assemble them into beautiful bouquets and deliver them to assisted living facilities and hospitals. I have wanted to volunteer with them for a while, but their orientation dates always had a conflict with my schedule. Finally, I was able to get in! It’s therapeutic making the bouquets too. They are a national organization, so if you are looking for a great way to spend your free time check them out!!!

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This is the bouquet I had the pleasure of making!

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During day Wednesday I made an appointment for a salon I had a gift card to!!! (Thank you, Aunt Terry!!!). I had the “powder” nails done, which are apparently better for nails than acrylics and actually put vitamins into your nails too. I love them!! Wednesday night we had our Bible Study group per usual.

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Today (Thursday), I am getting my uniform fitting and logistical stuff done for the job!

This weekend is going to be a BIG one. I can’t wait to give you guys an update!!!

Once again- apologies for being so MIA! I am hoping to catch up next week!!

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

Fort Worth, TX Recap!

Hey Ya’ll! Long time no chat! I am so behind on these posts, comments, everyyything- so I apologize but I will get caught up very soon 🙂 I have so many good memories to record and share. I am taking us wayyy back in time to December 15th when I arrived in Fort Worth, Texas. My mom and step dad, Pete, live there and my sister, Halston, flew in as well. DJ had to stay in Cali for work! I already recapped San Antonio, which was a weekend trip, so this post is the bookends of that weekend!

Thursday (12/15)

I woke up in the morning sick as a dog. I definitely caught whatever had been going around. DJ took me to the airport, and we realized this would be the longest we would be apart since we got married. Anyway, I comically lugged my three suitcases through the airport, unable to keep them stacked in a way that I could physically move them in unison. I’d go five steps then *flop* the one would topple over, another five steps then *flop*- I continued dropping the luggage every few feet and certainly was someone’s entertainment for the day. I honestly didn’t care, I just wanted to get through security to my darn gate. I handed off my checked luggage and was finally free from the luggage juggling circus act. Once through security, I started craving soup more than I can ever remember in my whole life. The chills were pretty bad. I walked through the airport strip and had about given up on finding soup and instead started hunting down my gate. When I was close to my gate I saw the San Francisco Soup Company and was never so ecstatic to see a soup place in all my years.

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I ordered their summer corn chowder and it hit.the. spot. It took that achy chill out of my bones and made the rest of the wait bearable!

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On the flight I read the latest issue of the American Journal of Nursing, wrote some Christmas cards, and used the tray table as a pillow. What do you guys do on flights?

After I landed, my family and I exchanged hugs and “Ah! I don’t want to get you sick”(s) and “I don’t care!”(s), then hit the road to head to Keller (a suburb of Fort Worth). On the way we stopped by the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX. My sister’s boyfriend, Kevin, was there for one more night and we said he couldn’t leave without seeing this place. It’s quite the spectacle! It’s one large hotel, but they deck it all out for Christmas. You know the saying, “Everything is bigger in Texas”? I’m pretty sure that originated with this hotel. It’s worth a quick walk through if you are ever in the area!

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Cuties!!!! (I was out of commission for pictures; I basically looked like a walking zombie).

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They have an imitation San Antonio Riverwalk on the lower level. It’s even completed with Mexican restaurants all around it. How cool is that!??!

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Once home, I was greeted by my puppy, Jade, that I haven’t seen in so long.

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On Friday (12/16) Kevin left (sad day!), and I had my hair did (insert hand flip emoji) at a Lemongrass Salon by Aveda while my mom and sister shopped. I accidentally missed my appointment that I had scheduled in California (I thought it was 1 but it was 11), so my mom graciously helped me schedule this one. I still was not feeling 100%, so it was a good day to knock this out. Getting your head massaged and roots covered is a sure fire way to make a girl feel better 😉 I swear by Aveda salons for a good blonde!

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Friday night mama Jill whipped up a delicious dinner!!! It was cauliflower Arancini via GreenChef, and we loved it! However, we both agree after using both services that Blue Apron is still the better of the two.

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I liked using the leftover cauliflower bites to dip in hummus. They were even better the next day.

That night we went to the movies. I LOVE the movie theaters with the Cafe and Bar areas. We watched Collateral Beauty. I thought it was just OK, but the rest of my family loved it. Either way it was great family time and sparked good conversation. I won’t give a full synopsis- but if anyone has seen it I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Saturday morning (12/17) We left first thing in the morning for San Antonio!!!!!!!! You can read all about our Saturday morning to Sunday evening here.

Monday (12/18) was a chilllllllll day filled with sleeping in, a workout at the local recreation center with my mama, baking Christmas cookies, and sushi for dinner. A perfect day if there ever was any! The last couple times we have been in Fort Worth have been pretty tourist packed, so we decided to take it easy this round and just relax- a word that isn’t really in my vocab too often.

At breakfast, the little stinker put on her sweet begging face. Sorry, Charlie, I like my toast too doggone much to share.

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Christmas Bakin’! I wish I could take credit for any of this, but Mama Jill was the baking wizard all the way. Her coconut macaroons are the BOMB (they are the white morsels). And there is truly something about homemade rice krispy treats!

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Tons of sushi from Kroger with seaweed salad and asian thai salad was on the agenda for dinner. (I know grocery store sushi may not sound super appealing, but I have never been disappointed!).

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After sushi, we went over some family friends’. I met them last spring when I was in town and had a ball with them. I couldn’t wait to hang out again. Their house is the most festively decorated home I have ever seen. I think the said they have eighteen Christmas trees total? Each one is decorated with a specific ornament theme. For example, they have a Christmas tree with only shoe ornaments, another with only wine bottle ornaments, another with only santa ornaments, etc.; it was an actual winter wonderland.

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She has no idea I snapped this, but I snuck a picture of this classy lady!

Also we had carolers stop by, and they were the most precious two little girls in the world.

Tuesday (12/20)

This was lounge day round two! We watched Netflix, home videos, Hulu, and grazed all day long.

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My family hasn’t let me live this clip down for years. This is Halston and I. I was NOT a nice big sister!!! Sorry, Hal!!! Thanks for not holding this against me. Love u!

Here is a picture of my mama’s homemade guac that I mentioned in the San Antonio post!

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For dinner she made roasted onion, butternut squash, brussel sprouts, and cranberries with a maple glaze. YUM!

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Every single night us three girls hot-tubbed, chatted, and sipped on wine. It was perfection. Pete was so sweet to encourage us to have our girl time.

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The neighbors next-door just had a baby, so we dog-sat a couple times in the evenings for them to lighten their load. This video makes me belly laugh every time I watch it. It is of one of the dogs (the most lovable Pitbull in the world) thoroughly enjoying a tummy rub. Yes- that is a dog making that noise. My mom at the end of the video goes, “Why are you crying, Buster?!” *That’s the dog’s name 😉

Wednesday (12/21)

Halston, my mom, and I woke up and did Insanity in the living room. All ya’ gotta do is move a few couches out of the way and you’ve got a nice gym!!

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Followed by shenanigans.

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Jadey baby didn’t feel up for the workout. Also- what a stinking diva. She literally has her bed on the bed. Spoiled pup, I tell ya what.

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After our big family workout, we went to brunch at Another Broken Egg Cafe per my stepdad’s suggestion. I think I thanked him at least ten times for suggesting this place, because it was one of the BEST brunchy places ever. Ugh, I say that every time, but I do mean it!

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They had such a uniquely delicious selection of food, and their coffee was served in handcrafted stone mugs. Doesn’t get much better than that.

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My mom and Pete said we needed to try the Beignet doughnuts. These are like the best-donuts-you’ve-ever-had and then some. SO. GOOOD. And they are served with a honey marmalade. I donut know how I have gone my whole life without them. And I donut know how I have gone so long without making an awful pun. You’re welcome.

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Us girlies tried the skinny omelette which had herbed egg whites with blanched asparagus, roasted red peppers, green onions, goat cheese and roasted garlic cloves with an english muffin and a fruit dish. They seasoned it with the most palatable herbs!!!! My mom and I placed our bets on what they were, and we actually nailed it! Thyme, rosemary, and parsley. If you’ve never tried that on an omelette, DO IT! It’s extraordinary, or shall I say “Egg-straordinary”! Ok, ok, I’m done now 😉

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Pete chose the lemon ricotta pancakes. He graciously offered us all a bite, and obviously I graciously accepted a big ole’ one. My sister gets mad because she says when I “try” something, I end up eating half of it. But, hey, tomat-oh, tomah-toe. You say “try”, I hear “sample half the plate”. Anyways, these were lemony ricotta-ey pancakey perfection.

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Wednesday night we had the Candlelight celebration at church. It worked out perfectly because this was our “faux” Christmas Eve. Although we couldn’t celebrate actual Christmas day all together, the fact that we could go to this candlelight service definitely made it feel like a true Christmas Eve celebration. It was moving, and I love seeing the sanctuary lit up by candlelight.

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When we came home we had apps while we finished up cooking dinner! The cheese was a mix of vegan and regular. I truly could not tell the difference between which one was vegan and which one was not. Usually good vegan cheeses are hard to come by, but this stuff was a facsimile; it blew my mind! We could not get enough!

Fun tip: If you need a fancy, yet incredibly easy, appetizer- try doing pita crackers + hummus + roasted red pepper + roasted onion + a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

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Although DJ wasn’t able to actually be with us, we still hung his stocking!!!

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It was nice to sit around and enjoy our apps around the gorgeous tree. It’s these moments that define the word “content” for me.

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Dinner started with goat cheese “croutons” atop a salad with pears, pecans, and mixed greens. THIS. This is going to be a tradition.

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Momma made ribs for Pete… yes, that whole thing was for Pete considering none of us eat meat. LOL. The girls had a sesame crusted tuna. I forgot to take a picture because I was a bit ravenous!

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Dessert followed with my mom’s marveeeeelous Christmas cookies and my step dad’s famous pumpkin crunch which I am beyond bummed that I don’t have a picture of. We gobbled that thing up so quick! It’s one of our favorite parts of Christmas. It’s truly something I look forward to year round.

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We ended the night with a dip in the hot-tub per usual.

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On Thursday (11/22) we had our “faux” Christmas Day!!!!! It was a magical morning followed by a breakfast of eggs, toast, and BEER JELLY! I found these on UncommonGoods for Pete. We had fun sampling all of them! Uncommon Goods is an AMAZING site for unique gifts for the family. I find most of my gifts here each year!

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Annnnnd my stocking, as well as Halston’s, was stocked with five gum, NO COW bars (lemon meringue- the best), and Quest bars. We may have a bit of an obsession to say the least…

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After opening gifts and having breakfast, I went for a nice long run. Unfortunately, the sun didn’t want to peak through too much, but it was still enjoyable. I lived in Texas in the Summer of 2015 before traveling to India, so the familiarity feels like home, even down to the running trails.

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In the afternoon I ran a couple errands with Mama Jill

You know you are in Texas when…

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That afternoon we had apps round two!

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For our “Christmas day” dinner, we started with pear salads with goat cheese, toasted almonds, cranberries, and mixed greens. I made my cauliflower mashed potatoes! I promise I will post those at some point! They were a big hit.

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We also had stuffed vegan acorn squash with fresh cranberries!

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My mom also made regular meatballs for Pete

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And we cannot forget my most favorite dish of the season: Sweet potato praline . YUHHHHMMM.

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And what is any holiday meal without green bean casserole? She made it healthier too by substituting the cream of mushroom for light and low sodium. We could not even tell the difference!

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This perfect Christmas dinner was followed by more hot tub & wine!

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Friday (11/23) I woke up early to go to the local recreation center in Keller to get a workout in before getting ready to head to the airport. My sister had a different flight than me (a much earlier one), so she was landing in Ohio as I was taking off. This is how I caught up on reading everyone else’s blogs from the week! People probably think I’m such a crazy ellipticallyng (spelling?) with a laptop, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do!

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When my mom got back from the airport, I finished packing up and then we decided we had time for one last lunch before heading out. She recommended a favorite of her’s and Pete’s in town, Devivo Bros. Eatery. It is considered rustic comfort food, but has an Italian flare! So essentially all the good things..

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We split the Kale salad with fresh kale, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, crispy tortilla strips and candied almonds tossed in a jalapeño ranch dressing as well as the white bean tomato basil soup.

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It all hit the spot perfectly, and I was so thankful for this small chunk of time we could treasure before my flight.

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Isn’t she darling?!

Time to head back to OH-IO.
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I will recap that soon! Since DJ couldn’t join us on our fort worth adventures this year I figured why not include a few from last year?!? 🙂

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This is from when we visited the Fort Worth Stockyards. Such a fun place if you ever get the chance! Next time I go back to Fort Worth I am going to do a travel post about them.

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And a trip wouldn’t have been complete without absurd amounts of sushi.

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Thanks for hanging in there with me through this crazy long post!

I will do a quick holiday post recap once I am back 🙂 DJ and I have are currently waiting for our 6 am flight and have been up since 3 am! EEEK!

Wishing you a very Happy New Year,

xo ❤

Mack