Our First Ever Hosted Thanksgiving!

Hi, Everyone!!! Happy Sunday to youu! Currently it’s Saturday night, we’ve got some Elton John playing, and DJ is working on a graphic for work! It’s a goooood night. Time to recap Thanksgiving week!

Monday the 19th I ran on the tready while doing a bunch of reading for school. Then I headed over to Peet’s, chatted with my favorite barista, Connie, and then get started on listening to lectures.

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After studying up, I did the big ole’ trip to Safeway for alllllz the Thanksgiving goodies. I haven’t shopped at Safeway in forever since discovering TJ’s, but there were a few items I wasn’t sure TJ’s would have, so I just did my whole trip there using my Safeway account. I hardcore lallygag when I grocery shop. I love grocery shopping. I look forward to it during my week, and truly get lost in the aisles while listening to my podcast. Anyone else see grocery shopping as the equivalent of going to the park?

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I went to Peet’s again on Tuesday the 20th, and witnessed the most horrendous parking job of all time. It’s super hard to find a good parking spot in this lot- so I was a bit miffed. I truly don’t know why I’m sharing this- but it’s cathartic- so here we are.

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I whipped out my major assignment for the week and wrapped up my discussion boards, so I could focus on Thanksgiving activities the rest of the week!

For starters, Wednesday November 21st I designated as a full on prep/clean/cook day. I relish in days like this. They make me so happy. Also, for the first time in a long time it was raining!! You can hear my reaction in a tragic run-on sentence. tehehe.

This was much needed after the fires and totally purified the air. I will never take for granted fresh luxurious air again! My runs outside since have been filled with the smell of pine and a crispness. Anyways- first, I picked up few last minute items I forgot in my first trip (did you actually host a thanksgiving without multiple trips last minute to the store?). Once home, I grabbed some tea to warm me from the chill outside (I already had hit my coffee limit for the day), listened to Up and Vanished and cooked my heart out! (Also DJ had the day off, which added an element of warmth to the apartment just having him there).

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Now, I am a bit mischievous, I must say. I secretly made a couple vegan dishes- and only waited till after they were confirmed delicious before divulging that they were in fact vegan 😉

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First up- vegan cauli. mashed taters!!! I also made regular mashed potatoes the day of, but I didn’t get pictures. So for these ones, ya just boil your cauli, put in a food processor with butter, salt, and pepper, and then you are good to go! I loveee them, especially with a little gravy on top!

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Next up- my vegan stuffed acorn squash! This was my “main course” for the big day. I was going to use the chicken I discovered at TJ’s, but was craving these even bit more.

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Next- pumpkin hummus ! Mmmm mmm so good! I served it with the pumpkin cranberry crisps from TJ’s. Golden combo (and of course I had to taste test the day before 😉 ).

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Nowwww- some vegan sweet potato casserole!!!

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I waited until actual Thanksgiving day to top with mallows to make sure the mallows wouldn’t get stale overnight or overcook.

Oh, and is it actually thanksgiving without green bean casserole?! This has traditionally been one of my favorite dishes (although this year I think I even liked the sweet potato casserole more!). I used this vegan recipe from Delish. I will say it does need a dash of salt at the end to top it off- but besides that it was scrumptious!

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And totalllly not vegan, but totally necessary- mac and cheeeeeeseeee!

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DJ rated this a “10” and said it was the best mac and cheese he has ever had. (He doesn’t blow smoke either- always gives it to me straight!). He even said it was better than Homeroom’s *gasp*. I mean it was great, but I don’t know if I’d go that far….

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And the last thing I made that day was DJ’s requested dirt. I love/hate when he requests it because the stuff is so darn addictive!

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I don’t have a rolling pin to crush the Oreos, so I use a wine bottle lol. Works like a champ.

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I also de-grouted my kitchen floors. They needed it badly!

Before

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After- Not perfect- but much better!

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Ready to go 🙂

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I topped off the evening with my usual nightly ice cream cone (I just rotate through flavors year round- currently we are on a chocolate brownie kick, and always have to add the cashews).

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Thanksgiving morning I had a stellar 15-mile run in the clear air under beautiful blue skies.

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I returned home around 11 am and then got started on the Turkey. My mom was a lifesaver answering my questions over the phone about the giblets and whatever-the-heck else I didn’t understand for my first turkey roast haha.

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And now for the final spread left to right: roasted multicolor honey herbed carrots/corn muffins/green bean casserole/croissants/regular hummus, grape, and pecan pumpkin butter, pumpkin hummus/turkey with stuffing/stuffed acorn squash/mac and cheese/mashed potatoes (vegan & regular)/sweet potato casserole/apple pie (Amy’s homemade!)/pumpkin pie/deviled eggs!

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Amy and her boyfriend joined us for the feast!! (Yes, that was only for only four people, haha). If you want leftovers please stop by because we have sooo much.

Unfortunately, I did make one boo boo. I forgot to take the chilled cranberry sauce out of the fridge. How do you forget the cranberry sauce??!!?!

After stuffing ourselves to the brim, we played the first season of Hunt a Killer. It’s a detective subscription box where you try to solve a murder (Amy and I are total true crime junkies). We actually solved it fairly quickly with four minds working together.

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After, we played Office trivia while eating Amy’s amazing apple pie and then they headed back to the city.

Ah, so much to be thankful for. God is so darn good. I think where I was mentally & emotionally this time last year, and it’s amazing to see all the goooood that has happened since. Even though we missed a big part of our family this year, I was reminded just how grateful I am for them and the small blessings of each day. Love to you all.

Questions for you: 

  • I gotta know- favorite Thanksgiving dish?

xo <3

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Candytopia!

Happy happy Saturday, everyone! I hope all my American friends had the most wonderful Thanksgiving and everyone else had a beautiful week. Currently I am sipping on a cup of coffee with the OSU vs. Michigan game on in the background and DJ working on a project next to me. I have just been relishing in this long weekend. I can’t wait to share how my first time hosting Thanksgiving went- but I don’t want to pass over last Sunday November 18th! So, without further adieu, let us jump into the land of Candytopia!!

Candytopia is a pop-up interactive candy experience- basically a Candyland come to life! I loveee my candy, so when I heard about this I couldn’t pass it up. My sister in law, Amy, joined me!

Our tickets were for noon, so I drove down from Cupertino around 10 am to make sure we had plenty of time for parking, etc.

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All the sculptures in Candytopia are made of candy. It’s pretty sweet!

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Time to go inside!!

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We all shuffled into a lobby-type room before starting the tour while they explained the rules, explained how to use the app, and gave a general intro. I was shocked at the creativity just in this room alone. I mean look at this dragon- entirely made of candy. They have a sign next to each piece saying what it is made of and how long it took to construct.. this took 542 hours!

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Also in each room you enter there is a box of candy with yummies for the taking.

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My candy corn lovin’ self was lovin’ this fox

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We all congregated into the next room as Lindor Truffle’s propelled down on the other side of a clock from the ceiling! I LOVE these. Some of the yummiest chocolate.

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We then took an escalator downstairs into another room…

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This room was bright and playful! It felt like we were in Willy Wonka’s factory.

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My favorite part of the room was this little toad stool.

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The next room was a chandelier room with epic recreations of some prominent figures & just fun photos.

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Then there was a little crossover area with large blow up balloons and a photo op!

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Next room- the underwater room! This one may have been my favorite for the actual aesthetic effect.

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But the room with the most laughs- the Unicorn room!

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Yes- you are interpreting this photo correctly– there is a pig farting confetti. Only in SF, folks, only in SF. hahaha.

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I am still finding confetti around the house even after vacuuming several times, hah!

And now.. onto the marshmallow pit! We had a hard time getting a solid picture.. oh well. It was SOO much fun. Talk about feeling like a kid again!

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We ended in the gift-store with some fun, unique finds! We were gushing over how cool this Candy Sushi was!

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Amy and I grabbed a quick cup of coffee at Starbucks, and then I headed back to Cup to meet up with DJ. Time to get our tree!!! We usually don’t get our tree until after thanksgiving, but this couple of weeks is crazy busy & I didn’t want to fight the masses that would be going to get them this weekend.

This year we went to a place in the mountains of Los Gatos called Tabacco Ranch.

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We had an extra hard time this year finding the right tree, on top of my general indecisiveness. I don’t know if it was a bad year for trees or if the thick smoke damaged a lot of them, because there were many that seemed to be missing entire halves and branches. But finally- we stumbled across THE one! *cue angels singing Hallelujah chorus in unison*

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Okay, time to go eat some leftovers & then work on the Thanksgiving post! 🙂

Questions for you:

  • Favorite candy?
  • Christmas tree- real or fake? Colored lights or white lights? I always love hearing what everyone prefers to do!

xo <3

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Friday Favorites #8 (I think?!)!

Hey Y’allll! I am doing a combo post- a recap mixed with Friday faves. Knockin’ out two calling birds with one snowball.

This past few weeks since the wedding has been filled with finishing up the research project (it’s due in less than a month!) & DJ has been working super hard too with the holiday community events. We had his company Christmas party last week which was a lot of fun!

Anywayyyyyyzzzz, what better time to share a few favorite things than the most wonderful time of the yeaaaarrr!

Ok. Let us begin!

  1. Donut Wheel Donuts- Nough’ said?! For some reason this holiday season makes us crave some donuts. We grabbed these little guys the day after we returned from the wedding.

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2. Pieology. This was one of the last places for us to try on Main Street Cupertino! I think I even prefer it over Mod Pizza… which I didn’t think was possible . DJ demolished their Margherita Da Vinci, and I savored their vegan pizza with all the toppings. The only thing I will say is there largest size is a bit small. DJ was still a bit hungry after his.

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3. Our Church’s Christmas Creative. Every year our Church tells the Christmas story in a festive, creative way displaying the wide array of talents those in our Church possess! It blows me away every year.

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Below is just a sampling of our Children’s group who opened the show! Come on, how cute are they?!

4. This is super random, but I have to include it a la “recap” style… Spotting wildlife! I saw an actual Jack Rabbit for the first time in real life last week. Those ears are HUGE.

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5. VitaFusion Biotin!!!!! I don’t why in the fuji apple it has taken me this long to jump on the biotin train. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’d know I’ve been exceedingly frustrated as of late with my hair. The stress of this year has caused my hair to be brittle, thin, and dry. Even my go-to cure-all shampoos weren’t doing the trick. I started using biotin and have seen ALL the difference. Even my nails are remarkably stronger.

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6. The Giver! Sooo this is one of those novels that most find on their grade school mandated reading list.. but for some reason I never was required to read this classic. It has been sitting around my mini library for a long time (we’re talking years on years). I walked past it the other day and emphatically (and randomly) decided to give it a go. I flew through it in a couple days. I was a little perturbed at the ending. I feel like there could have been a part two. But overall I’m a sucker for the dystopian fiction. Orwell and Huxley were most definitely on that required reading 😉

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7. Cassie’s Cookery! One of my favorite bloggers, and good friends, Cassie, over at Cassie’s Cookery created her first cookbook. OK, these recipes are INCREDIBLE. I cannot wait to dive in. She is one of the first people that brought to light how scrumptious sweet potatoes are for breakfast. Check out her amazing blog right NOW!

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8. Beyond Meat: The Beyond Burger!!!                  (pause for dramatic effect)…. DJ asks me to snatch these from the store every time I go. That says a lot considering he is a meat eater through and through. These are uncannily good and even bleed like real burgers (from beet juice). I dare you, all you vegan skeptics, to give this a go! The way it sizzles, tastes, and smells is the equivalent of a juicy burger. I wouldn’t lie to you now would I?!

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9. Beautiful Anonymous Podcast. I don’t know why I haven’t included this before in a FF. I feel like maybe I did, but I don’t remember expounding on it. Anywho- This is one of my ALL time favorite podcasts. For one hour flat Chris Gethard talks to an anonymous stranger (who calls in when he tweets out the number) about anything and EVERYTHING. They are entirely anonymous (ya don’t say?) so the stories people share are fascinating. There are no “holds barred” in the words of Chris.

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10. All things Christmas!!!! I did an “all things Fall” Friday Faves last time, so what the heck, I’m sticking with the seasonal fave. We were late to the game this year getting our tree and decor up. But we finally did this past Monday!

img_4435img_4440img_4436img_4438We wanted to continue our tradition of going out and chopping down a tree, but this time around none of our days off lined up, so we settled with finding one at a tree farm.

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We saw this little guy instantly and knew it was the one!

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Happy Holidays, y’all. I’ll be working the 23, 24, and 25th, so please eat some extra helpings for me <3

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What’s YOUR Friday Favorite?!

xo <3

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Deck the Halls & A Special Announcement!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay warm everyone!

xo <3

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