The Work Grind- One Week Strong!

Hey ya’ll!!! I just got back from work, ate a gargantuan salad, and am sitting down to unwind for the evening. Today is my day off working out- so rather than working out I am using this time to whip up a blog post! My mind is just buzzz buzz buzzzzing! Rather than jump into the studying and work I need to do tonight, I want to take a moment to reflect and write to calmmmm down.

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We left off last time after my first day. Ohhhh my lanta, I cannot get over how much information I have been struck with in a single week. This orientation period is going to be non-stop. By the end of the next three weeks, I will be checked off on competencies I learned through nursing school as well as new ones they have assigned us (like dealing with lumbar drains and neuro. specific interventions). I can hardly wrap my brain around it! 😜

My first thought when I saw what skills we would be doing was Wow, how cool. And my second thought was, Wait…. I have to actually do that now... needless to say, the terror began setting in! I haven’t performed these skills in nearly a year (due to the length of time it took me to get approved for my exam), and some of them I didn’t even have a ton of practice with in the clinical setting. On top of that we have hours of orientation training modules outside of our hospital hours, exams to study for as part of our competency testing, and hospital training for the general on-boarding of staff. Basically- I’m just sayin’ it’s gonna be a non-stop train until about May when my initial orientation competency check is done. I may have next to zero free time, especially starting next week, but that’s okay. It’s so worth it and I’m ecstatic to finally be doing what I love. And I am relishing in the review and learning process. I learned more this past week than I probably learned in half a semester of nursing school. It’s nuts! It feels amazing to be a “student” again… but this time I’m not paying to learn, I’m being paid to learn! How neat!

Part of the reason I love blogging is I can look back and see what I was feeling and thinking at a certain point in time and see the progress since. Right now I am feeling totally incompetent, eager, excited, and exhausted- but also exhaustively blessed. The entire staff is eager to help us learn, and I can’t wait to see what skills I will be capable of in just a couple months from now. Every individual I have met has been honest-to-gosh superb. Like I said in my last post, the culture created by the hospital is unlike anything I have ever experienced.

So a typical day from Monday- Friday sort of looked like this:

5:00-6:00 am: Get ready, have breakfast (yummy deliciousness of Ezekiel bread/yogurt/reduced sugar craisins/strawberries & coffee)

6:00 am: Leave the apartment and beat the traffic (with my business casual clothing that I now own). Ha! In NoCal, if you leave the house at 7 going north, you are guaranteed at least an hour of traffic if you are going anywhere over twenty minutes away. I figure by leaving the house at 6 am, I can get to my destination without traffic and be more productive during the waiting period. (I just sat in the parking lot or at Peet’s coffee to get stuff done!)

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6:10-8:00am: At the beginning of the week before we had any assignments due I was able to do some blogging, order bridesmaid dresses for my best friends’ weddings (HOLLA!), and get other random stuff done. By the end of the week I was cramming for different exams/reviewing our wealth of information/trying to keep up!

8:00-5:00 pm: Work work work work work!

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The first day the director looked at us all and said point blank, “This will be the hardest year of your life.”

While initially I thought, Hmm, not sure you can top sophomore year of nursing school… ,

I then thought…

BRING IT!

Our first week (and the first part of this week) was all the “logistical” house-keeping information, taking “baseline” exams to see where we stand, orienting the units, and going through different skills and lectures. It has been intense, but I wake up excited to get started every single day- even though it’s sorta a challenge getting out of bed. I just think of my coffee- the most powerful motivator in all the land.

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For lunch most days, I pack a No Cow bar, an apple, some grapes, carrots, a couple handfuls of boom-chicka pop, hummus, and almonds. A couple of the days where we had a cafeteria I stopped in and made a massive salad with grape leaves, roasted red peppers, hummus, and all the veggies. YUM!

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Let’s take a quick tick and just chat. So first week, right? I had too many embarrassing moments it was CRAY! For instance, I somehow had gum stuck to my jacket on my way into the hospital for the first time. Luckily, someone stopped me and let me know (thank goodness for kind people). I also just said some silly things that make me hot in the face when I reflect upon them, dropped an absurd number of miscellaneous items (including my sanity). To sum it up- I was a hot mess. It’s fine though- my coworkers are all so sweet, and I’m pretty sure everyone’s heads were spinning too fast for anyone to notice! Also, my sister calmed me down on the days I was feeling wayyy in over my head! Hermana to the rescue.

Oh, and the 8am- 5pm is just for orientation and classroom training. When I start my shifts I will be 7am to 7pm! (Then halfway through it flips and I will go to night shifts!).

5:00-6:00pm: Sit in traffic, wanting to pull out my hair.

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6:00-6:10: Eat something- I am ravenous when I get home after the long day. I usually have something light like eggs & hummus or spoonfuls of PB2 with carrots or PROTES chips.

6:10-7:10pm: Workout. Trust me, most days I have wanted to do nothing but come home and plop on the couch. But the minute I get outside and start to run or do an Insanity workout I have a sudden renewed energy to get me through the rest of the evening! It also gives me that rush of adrenaline to lift my spirits after fighting the traffic and ease the road rage.

I also love this time to snap some photos. Entering into this new time of life, I am determined to find the beauty in EVERY single day. When I was in nursing school I had this mentality of just doing what I needed to in order to get by. My phrase was always, “I just have to keep my head above water”. Going into this next stage, which will be comparable in the stress/busyness arena, I want to make sure I find the beauty and appreciate that beauty that surrounds me even when I feel like things are just hard! I quite literally have to stop and smell the roses 😉  I have a feeling my patients will be that piece of beauty for me many days <3

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7:10-8:00 pm: Shower then dinner!!! Since DJ and I have been married, dinner time has been the one part of the day that we give each other our undivided attention. With his new job, he doesn’t get home from anywhere around 8 to 10pm. I eat dinner on my own while usually playing Grey’s Anatomy or KUWTK to keep me company while I down my food (woah- that sounds so pathetic, but I promise it’s not so bad!). Last week I was on my loaded sweet potato kick (yes, still obsessed), and this week I have craved giant salads with tons of veggies, chipotle black bean burgers, hummus, and balsamic vinegar dressing!

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Also- I used to have a recipe posted for this, but I’m not sure where it ran off to. I’m gonna hunt it down soon!

Back to the dinner thing… I’m realizing we have officially passed that threshold into a new stage of life with us both trying to build our careers. Our ebb and flow of the day is changing drastically, all for good reasons, it’s just going to take getting used to. It naturally makes the time we have together all that more treasured. I’m also infinitely thankful for this past year and a half we have had to create endless precious memories and make sure our marriage is on super solid ground before this craziness ensued.

Some days he waits until he gets home (yes that late!) to eat dinner. I try to make sure there is something in the fridge for him. Last week it was salmon, farro, and veggies. This week is crockpot ginger peach chicken with rice, and later this week I am making crockpot ribs! I prepped it all Sunday so that it was good to go for the rest of the week-I don’t have tons of time when I get home in the evenings, so crock pot meals will be our best friends for a bit! I also placed about half of the crockpot meal into labeled freezer bags and for future times that DJ might get home before me, so he can just throw one in the microwave.

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8-9pm: Work on misc. tasks that need to be done and work orientation training online.

9 to 10pm: Finish cleaning up the house so it’s tidy, make some overnight oats for DJ to have in the morning. He has been on an OO kick since the Daniel Fast! It’s hilarious to me that something we discovered during a “fast” has become one of his favorite breakfast foods. He also said I need to post my overnight oats recipe, so I may just have to do that!

After that, I get everything together for work, eat an ice cream cone (my mint chocolate chip phase has gone back to cookie dough), and plop into bed to read HP hoping to fall asleep before 10:20. DJ usually comes home right as I’m getting into bed, so I make sure to give him a hug before I hit the hay. I think we maybe saw each other for a total of twenty minutes from Monday to Friday last week- and that’s being generous!

BUTTTTTT……….

FRIYAY DATE NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Oook, I may be getting ahead of myself. We both were POOPED come Friday. I seriously could not peel myself off the couch. So we decided to make Friyay Date night into Saturyay date night.

We tried out this restaurant in Campbell called The Socialight. It was one of the most unique menus I have ever seen (slightly reminded me of options that would be on Orchard City Kitchen’s Menu).

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I was obsessed with the inner decor. I told DJ if I ever owned a restaurant this is what it would look like. One side was lined with wine coolers, and the other side was a sports bar feel with hanging globe lights down the center. It was the perfect mix of class, elegance, casual, and chic!

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Like I said, the menu was fascinatingly eclectic! DJ and I tried as an appetizer their salmon sashimi with avocado and wakami salad served with shrimp chips (my mom used to make these chips at home when we were younger, so this flashed me back to my childhood!).

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DJ ordered their fried chicken and raved about how tasty it was.

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I ordered their vegetarian Indian Paneer with caulfilower confite and yogurt glaze. It wasn’t bad, but I was a bit disappointed. And the service was epically slow- (we were warned about that on YELP!).


Sunday we went to church.


 After, I meal-prepped and worked all day on orientation assignments. The hardest thing I think about this new job is the feeling of having to say “no” to so much else outside of it. I am undeniably a people pleaser, so when I have to say no I almost feel like I’m doing something wrong, or selfish. I won’t be able to volunteer as much at church as I used to be, and I’m not able to hangout with friends like I used to either. I guess my biggest fear is that people won’t understand- that they will resent me for it. But my mom reminded me that this is God’s calling on my life, and there is nothing selfish in pursuing that. I’ll still be serving, just in a different way. All I want to be able to do is give my everything to this year, learn as much as possible, and take advantage of this residency as much as I can. I want to be the best nurse I can possibly be. I want to be able to give my patient the best care possible, and that is going to come at a sacrifice in this present era of my growth. I don’t mind the sacrifice, I just hope I don’t lose others in the process. Mom L reminded me that those that are truly friends will be supportive and there at the end of it all. It’s true too, I just have to realize change inevitably does bring change in other areas. 

Ok, jumping off my soap box!

Below is a picture of my drive into work today. This was my little piece of beauty. There was water surrounding me on all sides as I drove across the bridge.

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ALSO- quick highlight- the lecturer made a pun that I just can’t keep to myself. The best part is I don’t think he even realized it….. but while referring to a colleague, he said, “She’s a cardiac nurse at heart”. BAHAHHAHAHA.

I really want to open up some conversation with you guys- I miss having time to read all the blogs and keep up. I’m gonna try to find a way to fit it all in because goodness gracious I miss it too much! But for now let me just get some feedback…

  • Anyone else navigating a new stage of life?
  • What has been the highlight of your day/week?

Real quick: HAPPY BIRTHDAY (on the 27th) to my rockstar of a mom (Mom J)! I LOVE YOU! 🎉😘 

ALSO- I’m so thankful for this community if I don’t say it enough 💕

xo <3

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Cleveland, Ohio- A Perfect Christmas

HAPPPPPYYYY NEW YEAR! Here we are the end of 2016, and before it crosses into 2017, I am going to do my best to recap our Christmas!!! Excuse the spelling and grammatical errors, because I’m sure there will be plenty considering I’m trying to whip this out in like 20 minutes.

So, CHRISTMAS!

On December 23rd, I arrived in Cleveland, Ohio. I was picked up by one of my best friend’s from childhood. We were able to sneak in a quick dinner together at BJ’s in Montrose, OH, my old stomping grounds.

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I wished we snagged a picture together, but we were so busy talking and catching up it didn’t cross my mind (but yes, taking a picture of my cherry-chipotle salmon still did cross my mind).

The rest of the evening was so nice, relaxing, and needed after a full day of travel. I spent it chatting with DJ’s mom in the kitchen while wrapping all the gifts I had shipped to their house so I didn’t have to lug them on the plane. She was so kind to let them stockpile over there for the last couple months! Sitting around and just talking away in her kitchen is one of my ALL TIME favorite things to do in the world. Since I have dated DJ since high school, that kitchen island has hosted countless laughs, discussions, decisions, and family time at it’s finest.

DJ came in on a red-eye in the morning of the 24th, Christmas Eve. Before he came home from the airport, I went out for a run. This view below defines home for me. Ya’ll have essentially seen me as a ‘Cali girl’, but Farmer’s markets, the giant swing at Szalay’s, cornfields, washed-out red barns, and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park are nearly as innate as my genetic makeup. The miles of running trails that I’m able to circumnavigate through sheer muscle memory, or rather soul memory, hold onto my secrets from years and years past. The actual footprints of my running shoes may weather away, but the memories of the struggles, trials, elations, and joy that have soaked this part of northeast Ohio is indelibly there forever. I relished every second of that cold run that brought an inner warmth nearly incomparable to much else.

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One of my friends, Annie, said to me yesterday- “Your blog cracks me up. One second you are like, guys, here is something really serious and then BAM, here’s a picture of some food!” Ha! She’s so right and that is exactly what I’m doing right now.

BAM. Here is a pic of some DELICIOUS homemade cinnamon sugar donuts that my mother- in-law made! Seriously some of the best tasting donuts ever. She should open a bakery.

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On the night of Christmas Eve, some REALLY exciting things happened. I FINALLY MET MY NIECE, Kate!!!!!!!! The feeling of holding this gem in my arms brought me so.much.joy. She is perfect. As an Aunt to my niece and nephew, the feeling of love is just truly overwhelming- I can’t imagine possibly being able to  love them more than I do, but that also provides for me a small glimpse of what a parent’s love must feel like. I also see how my own Aunt loves us like her own, and I totally get it in a new way now.

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Here’s my amazing nephew, Jack. He is one of the most intelligent, spunky, and inquisitive little two-years- olds I have ever met. I am blessed. The only way I could be more blessed is if I could have had him sit still for a picture. But I’ll take what I can get 😉

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We went to Mass at my brother and sister in law’s church. It is a breathtakingly beautiful Church in downtown Cleveland.

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My brother and his wife are some of the greatest parents I know. When my dad passed away, my brother became the rock of the family. He has constantly emphasized the importance of family, prioritizing us, encouraging us, and being there to offer wisdom and a hand no matter what. My sister-in-law is also one of the most gracious, loving, and just fun individuals to be around. I am thankful I have them as role models for when it DJ and I have kids one day.

When we got back to my brother’s house we had a scrumptious traditional lasagna, meat or veggie option, with salad and rolls. SO YUMMY! There were a good number of people here this year that we had to split into two rooms for dinner. It fills my heart to have a full house on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve has traditionally always been the night that we spend with my dad’s side of the family, but for a few years it felt that there were fewer and fewer people each year. Even my sister, Andrea, was gone for a couple years living in China. I missed her so much, and it makes me so happy to see the family growing again <3

We spent the night playing games, laughing, and exchanging gifts. It’s super fun opening them up with my nephew now that he sort of has a handle of what is going on. Except the wrapping paper and boxes seem to be his favorite part!

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Christmas morning I did Insanity and then DJ and I got in our Christmas garb on to go downstairs!

Drumrollllll……..

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Yes- we jumped on that onesie train! We had breakfast all together and then headed over to visit some of DJ’s extended family. It was just a great day with amazing family, friends, food, and the cutest pups you’ve ever seen.

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This is DJ’s twin sister Amy’s corgi named Pool Noodle. Is that not the best name you have ever heard for a corgi, and is he not the cutest corgi you have ever seen?!?!

He is also pretty insta-famous: poolnoodlethecorgi

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The evening was filled with a Christmas dinner nothing short of holiday food deliciousness, and the desserts to follow …. well, the picture speaks for itself… perfection. I crave my mother-in-law’s pumpkin pie all year long. She is one of the BEST baker’s I have ever known. It’s not a holiday without her desserts!

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On the 26th I squeezed in another run. I would occasionally find myself on the lookout for mountain lions! It’s weird that I didn’t have to be concerned about them. DJ and I also had a bit of culture shock with the amount of space, land, and lack of people! We kept feeling like, “Where is everyone?!”. Welcome to the midwest!

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The rest of the day was super chill for us. The best kind of day. I love how being home, whether in Texas or Ohio, forces me to just veg-out a bit.

On the 27th, I had dinner with a good friend I’ve known since 6th grade. She’s one of those people that it’s incredibly easy to just pick right back up where we left off. We went to Mustard Seed Market & Cafe at Highland Square. This has always been one of my ALL TIME favorite restaurants. They have an incredible selection of vegetarian and vegan options that blow me away every time.

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I had the vegan Rueben sandwich with their antioxidant salad with turmeric dressing and coconut bacon. I could eat this for every single of my whole life, not joking.

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We spent the rest of the night with the family playing words with friends, watching Secret life of Pets and hottubbing! Also Hot tubbing NEVER gets old.

On the morning of the 28th I had breakfast with Rachel! A few of you that have followed me for a couple months may remember when she visited San Fran. You can read about it here and here 🙂 I was beyond excited to see her; I was missing her mucho.

We went to First Watch which is a must-go-to place when I go back to Richfield. It’s a chain, so a few of you may have heard of it?!? Anything on their menu is fantastic. They are notorious for their massive pancakes- banana nut or carrot cake are my favorites.

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I had their triathlete egg white omelette with house-roasted crimini mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and green chilies. It’s served with housemade salsa, a dry english muffin, and fresh fruit. This is my go to easily! I also love their power wrap (minus the turkey) and their Energy bowl.

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Rach ordered their pesto chicken quinoa bowl with protein-packed quinoa mixed with kale, shredded carrots, and house-roasted tomatoes topped with grilled all-natural lemon chicken breast, basil pesto sauce, feta crumbles, and fresh herbs. This is a favorite of a lot of people I know! Rachel loved it too.

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She also ordered their daily juice selections, it was simply revivifying. You cannot go wrong with a First Watch juice- they are fantastic.

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Rach and I hung out at her house after for a bit. Her house is like my second home to me. I always miss her and her family tons being so far away, but I was thankful that I could at least see her for that small amount of time! <3 <3

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Also she wins best gift giver of the century award. For any occasion, she thinks of the MOST creative, thoughtful gifts. For example, for our wedding, Rach had cornhole boards with our last name and the date of our wedding personalized in our wedding colors made. That’s just one of many,many examples, and this Christmas she once again blew me away!!!!! We have an inside joke of “just read the blog” when I either run out of time to tell her something, or I have a long story- I’ll always just say “just read the blog”. We occasionally throw out #ontheblog or #justreadtheblog as sorta a joke now. So look what she made me…..!!!!!

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She even had my sign-off! GUYS! Is she the best or what?!?!? She MADE this herself. I can’t get over it. She is starting to get a business off the ground so when she does, I’ll share her info with you all!

That evening we went to Burntwood Tavern in Fairlawn with DJ’s side of the family. It was such a rustic, and yet elegant, place to enjoy some great American cuisine.

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After dinner we packed up our bags (cue the tears), hot-tubbed one more time, ate as much of the desserts that we could for one last night, and then tried to snag a couple hours of sleep. At 3 AM we hit the airport and were on our way back to California.

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I am so thankful for the time to get together with our family and friends. We definitely missed those that couldn’t make it, but we treasured dearly the time with the ones that could. Nursing may consume my holidays in the future, but I’m grateful for at least this last one. More than anything too, I’m thankful for what Christmas means. It’s easy to get caught up in the hum-hum of holiday festivities, but the message behind Christmas is what is most important <3

I cannot wait to read about how everything is going for all of YOU! I am so behind on reading, but I am truly looking forward to catching up this week. Getting those blogger cravings. Anyone else?

Currently DJ and I are on our way to SF to celebrate NYE!!!!!!

Happy New Year to everyone! I am thankful for all of you, for everyone I have met this year through blogging, and I wish you all nothing but joy, love, and blessings in this year to come!

xo <3

Mack

Mingle & Jingle!!!

Welcome to my first ever hosted Meet & Greet! Come on in, make yourself at home, and meet some amazing new people 🙂

Simply leave your link to your blog/other social media in the comments, tell us a little about your blog if you want, make some new friends, and reblog only if you wish!

In my last post I asked you all what your favorite type of cookie was- and there was a reason for this!! I did my Christmas baking this weekend and used all your suggestions to try something different from my usuals.

Hence, at this Mingle & Jingle, I have your favorite treats (which quickly became my favorite too!). Thank you for allowing me to expand my horizons this Christmas baking season; I loved the different traditions that I learned about and incorporated. Plus everything was absolutely delicious!!!!

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Gingerbread cookies (Peppernuts) for Lauren & Bernadine !

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Snickerdoodles for Jesci  !

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Sugar cookies for Jennifer (although they are probably far from your family’s recipe 😉 ) !

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Risalamande for Cyranny! (This is a Danish dessert- and oh my, it is certainly a treat!!)

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Oatmeal cookies for Anna !

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The best hot chocolate of your life (aka Champurrado) for Lisa. Guys, this stuff is amazing.

Hersey Kiss PB Blossoms for Jess  & Kelsey !

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Butter Cookies for Samantha (We can pretend they are Gluten Free 😉 )

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Norwegian Butter Squares for Ju-Lyn Tan  ! (This was like nothing I have ever had before and were soo yummy- They taste like dense, moist (oops, sorry “moist”-haters) shortbread bars!)

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Biscuits for Barbara !

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A Yule Log for Kat! This was just a blast to make.

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And last, but not least,

Healthy Brownie Squares from Myra ! If you need a delicious, healthy treat this holiday- this is it! Beware- they are addictive!

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Happy Mingling everyone & Happy Holidays 🙂

xo <3

Mack

 

 

Cranberry & Pistachio & Quinoa Stuffed Squash

Mouth watering yet?! I’m excited to share the ultimate healthy comfort-food dish for the holidays with you!! And if you have vegetarians or vegans coming to your holiday party, I’ve got you covered! Although, this is a crowd pleaser regardless of diet preference. Plus, it’s pretty darn nice to look at 😉 The savory sweetness of the squash, the crunch of the quinoa and pistachios, and tartness of the cranberries create a combination to die for.

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Grocery List

  • 4 Acorn Squash
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry Red Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup dry White Quinoa
  • 2 Cups of Vegetable Broth
  • 2 TBSP Sage
  • 1 TBSP Thyme
  • 1 8 oz. mixed package of Baby Bella & Crimini mushrooms (coarsely chopped)
  • 1/2 package (about 1 cup) of LightLife Smart Ground original crumbles (or vegan crumble of choice)
  • 2 TBSP Sherry Cooking Wine
  • 3/4 Cup Reduced Sugar Dried Craisins
  • 1/2 Cup Pistachios (deshelled)
  • Fresh Cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Trim off the each end of the squash
  3. Stand the squash upright and halve lengthwise
  4. Scoop out the pulp and the seeds, discard
  5. Brush each squash half with 1 tsp olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper
  6. Arrange cut sides down on a parchment paper covered baking sheet
  7. Roast the squash until tender (test with a fork) and the edges are golden brown, appx. 30-35 minutes
  8. While the squash roasts, in a medium saucepan add Quinoa and Vegetable Broth
  9. Bring to boil then cover and reduce heat to low, cooking for 15-20 minutes
  10. Place the sage and thyme in a food processor until minced
  11. When the quinoa continues cooking, heat 2 tsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan
  12. Add mushrooms, sage, thyme to sauté pan
  13. Cook until mushrooms are softened
  14. Stir in the meatless crumbles and sherry wine, stir occasionally for about 2 minutes
  15. Remove pan from heat
  16. Add the quinoa, craisins,  pistachios, and a sprinkle of fresh cranberries
  17. Remove cooked squash from oven and flip over so cut side is up
  18. Fill the roasted squash halves with about 1/2 cup of stuffing and bake again for another 10 minutes
  19. Top with fresh cranberries for decor, and serve while warm!

Nutrition per 1 stuffed squash half:

Calories: 308

Fat: 10.6g

Carbs: 46.5g

Fiber: 7.5g

Sugar: 4.2g

Protein: 11g

**If you aren’t a fan of squash, the stuffing can be a great dish all on it’s own!

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**I must say the stuffing is even better day two, so don’t be shy about digging into the leftovers (if there are any!)

Bon Appetite!!!

xo <3

Mack

Guac & Egg White & Toast

DJ asked me yesterday if I blogged this snack yet. I realized I hadn’t, but why the heck had I not?! This is one of our favorites. Something we crave. It also inspired my Halloween costume this past year. We eat it nearly daily, and I think you will enjoy it too! This is something else we will whip up for guests as a quick snack, and later when they are home I’ll get a text asking for how exactly to make them again. There is not much to it, but I promise the taste will blow you away!

Ingredients

  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • Bread of choice (I prefer Dave’s Killer Grain Bread or Sprouted Flax)
  • Spicy Guacamole (Or plain avocado)- I like Wholly Guacamole, but it really doesn’t matter. I use whatever the store has.
  • Sea Salt and Pepper
  • Hot sauce of choice. *Optional

Directions 

  1. Using your perfectly hard boiled eggs and clean hands, open the egg by dividing it in half and popping out the egg yolk. **If having difficulty removing the yolk, just run the egg under a little cold water.

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2. Put your toast in the toaster and toast away!

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3. Spread 1 guac packet/avocado over the two slices of toast. I usually split a packet of Wholly Guacamole between the two pieces. If using a multi-serving pack, use about 2 TBSP per slice.

4. Put two egg whites on each slice of toast. I break them apart so they can lay (lie?) on the toast evenly.

5. Add sea salt, pepper, and hot sauce (great without hot sauce as well)

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ENJOY!!!!

Nutrition per two slices: (Using Dave’s 60 Calorie Grain Bread and 1 packet of Wholly Guac)

Calories: 288

Protein: 21g

Carbs: 28g

Fiber: 9g

Sugar: 3g

Fat: 12g

xo <3

Mack

The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg

Ok- Yes, this blog is like a box of chocolates- you never know what you are gonna get! And today you get a big ole’ hard boiled egg. I know making hard boiled eggs seems like one of the simplest things on planet earth to make, but there is a science behind getting the BEST hard boiled egg. I have had several people that have stayed with us ask how I get them the way I do, so why not share a post about it? That’s what this thing is for right? Share all the tips/tricks/thoughts/things that start with T.

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  1. Boil your water. Bring a big pot to a heavy boil. DO NOT put your eggs in before it starts to boil! Very important.
  2. Add your eggs one by one with a slotted spoon.

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3. Wait until the water comes back to a full boil, then set the timer to 10 minutes.

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4. Once ten minutes is up, drain the eggs in a strainer gently.

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5. Allow them to sit until they are cool enough for you to pick them up. I usually give them about 15-20 minutes.

6. Rinse them with cool water.

7. Put them back into the container. This allows the heat that is still in the egg to create condensation on the inside of the egg under the shell, allowing for easy peeling off of the shell when you are ready to eat them.

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When it comes time to crack open that bad boy, just crack the shell all around and it will slide right off.

Ta-da! You have the best hard boiled egg of your life. ENJOY!

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xo <3

Mack

A Mountain Lion Scare and Food with Flare

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

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

Okay, off we go now 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a toasty week,

xo <3

Mack

High Protein & Low Fat Scrumptious Pumpkin French Toast

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

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Grocery List

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

Directions

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

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

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

Calories: 275

Protein: 22g

Carbs: 47g

Fiber: 9g

Sugar: 7g

Fat: 2g

*Great source of vitamin A

Enjoy!!

xo <3

Mack

An Emotional RoLleR-coAsTer of a Week and So.Many.Updates.

Hey guys! I hope you all had a wonderful and safe Halloween weekend and start to your week! This past week has had so much good with a side of a bit of bad.

Shall we?

Wednesday– I had a rough day. Ya know- one of those hump days- where Wednesday disguises itself as Monday. I couldn’t shake the cobwebs from my head and I felt like I was moving like a snail. Three cups of coffee and counting were NOT doing the trick.

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But once dinner rolled around I got to sample out another Blue Apron meal! If I am having a bad day, usually cooking and having a solid dinner can turn it around for the evening. 

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This was so simple. I think it’s probably the easiest meal I have made yet from this company, and I will definitely be recreating it. The homemade tartar sauce was too good, and I never knew endives could be so tasty?!

Wednesday after dinner we went to our first session of the Winter group meetings through the church. You all know how thankful I am for the people we have met through this church, and if you live in the Bay area and need somewhere to call home PLEASE contact me! God was tugging on my heart to share during one part of the discussion. I was NOT intending to “get deep” on the first night with mostly strangers. But naturally, like He always does, He pushed me out of my darn comfort zone. May I get an Amen?! I know this group is going to be such a blessing, it already is, and I can’t wait to see where it goes!

Thursday– Chores & Such. Totally necessary to waste your time by writing that- huh? OH, I did find out that I passed my nursing exam on this day and received my license in the mail! Thank you a million for all the sweet words on the last post. They seriously touched me <3 <3

Friday– I wanted to Fall. It. UP. Since I had been studying most of October, I didn’t get to go into full on fall mode besides eating massive amounts of candy corn. Which is fine, it’s probably the best part, but regardless, my pumpkin-laced-female-DNA was screaming “get yo self to a pumpkin patch!”

We started the day in San Pedro Square at the Farmer’s Market. I love Farmers’ markets, and every time we pass this one I say I want to go. Finally! I love all the fresh food, produce, unique gift ideas, and general atmosphere of a good Farmers’ market. This isn’t necessarily DJ’s idea of fun, but one of those things he will do with me because he knows it makes me happy. San Pedro Square is a happenin’ place and a foodie’s paradise. We wouldn’t know any foodies, now would we? 😉 DJ and I have exhausted Main Street Cupertino and Santana Row, so I think this will may be our new Friday Night date place for a while!

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That afternoon we saw a vibrantly contrasting rainbow against a gray backdrop outside the window of our apartment. I haven’t seen a rainbow in a while, so naturally, I had to snag a picture of it.

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We also headed to pickup our box springs for our bed for the master bedroom! It’s coming along! While we were waiting for the pickup we messed around on Snapchat.

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** Side note: DJ gave me permission to announce he is no longer doing law school. He was originally doing the JD-MBA combined track, but now is just sticking to the MBA which starts this Spring. I am truly proud of him for doing what he knows is best for him. Plus it means I get to see my man more often!

Friday night I got out all my pumpkin patch wiggles. This place had abounding options for the average pumpkin picker. There were pumpkins here like I have never seen before!

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Fun fact: My step dad’s name is Pete, and his best friend is Tom… Mom- can you show him this? I bet he will get a kick out of it. So cute, so corny. Had to share. I tried picture messaging it, but my service is  glitchy- as you know.

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Friday night we decided to take it easy. I whipped up some Blue Apron meals. For myself I had Roasted Acorn Squash with Couscous Salad and Dressed Pea shoots. This and the coconut curry catfish are my two favorite meals so far from Blue Apron.

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For DJ, I made the Spiced Pork Burgers with a “side” of coleslaw. The “side” took two leftover large Tupperware to fit it all. But I don’t mind- we love us some ‘slaw!

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After dinner I received a call from the credit card company that my purse had been found at the pumpkin patch. I went into full on panic mode. While carrying my pumpkin from the patch, I must have dropped my purse on the way out. I called the cell number of the people who had found it (and currently had it). They were the SWEETEST couple in the world. I thanked them profusely for their integrity and kindness. I heard a little, young voice in the background go, “Is that Mackenzieee?!”. “I want to talk to Mackenzieee!”. The mother put the cutest little girl on the phone and she innocently, but matter-of-factly, inquires, “Hi Mackenzie- why did you leave your purse at a pumpkin patch?” Through nearly previous tears I started laughing and replied, “Great question! I think I was just too excited to carry my pumpkin and get home to carve it, so I dropped it without noticing!”.

We planned on a public meeting spot (Peet’s because where else?!), and I ran out the door with DJ. We tried offering them compensation for their troubles, but they refused. They said they just wanted to do the right thing. Then the husband asked, surprising us, “Are you believers?”. We quickly exchanged information about which churches we attend and a bit more small talk. Then we parted, perhaps never to see them again (well not never again 😉 ). What started as a traumatizing, panic ridden moment turned into an heart-warming experience. I still have no idea what led them to ask us if we were also believers, but how stinking cool. She messaged me that night to let me know her sweet daughter had prayed that I wouldn’t leave my purse at the pumpkin patch next time! Lol.

After this crazy day, DJ and I decided one thing was necessary: Cookies.

Break and bakes to be specific: What is your favorite brand/type?!? DJ loves the Pillsbury Chocolate chip ones and I love the Pillsbury S’mores (but they are hard to find). I firmly believe in cooking 1 minute under the recommended cooking time. We decided to save the Pumpkin Carving for another day.

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DJ is the chocolate milk KING. Like he knowwws his chocolate milk. One time we had a blind taste test of about six different brands of milk. He nailed each one of them. He has a list of tiers on his phone where he rates the best of the best. Shamrock Farms is at the top! DJ probably would be embarrassed if he knew I wrote this… so quick read it before he makes me delete it!  Anyone else love a certain brand? Milk and cookie discussions are paramount to life.

NOW: Here is the meat and potatoes of this post!!!! To celebrate the NCLEX, I wanted to do something CRAYYY! So I looked up “Haunted places in the Bay area”. I don’t believe in “haunted”, but still in lieu of this time of year I thought this would just be interesting… I want to say “fun” or “festive”, but when you hear what happened to lead to this story, those words do not seem to fit. We contemplated touring the Winchester house, but I recently went through it, and it takes a while for the tour. We decided to save that for another time. I found a haunted road, Marsh Rd., and a haunted restaurant, The GrandView, that were within twenty minutes of one another. I made reservations at the restaurant and planned out so we would have enough time to explore the road.

Time for the spooOOooky stories:

Marsh Rd: “It’s become almost a rite of passage for Milpitas high school kids to seek out the ghost of murder victim Marcy Conrad, who was killed by her boyfriend on Marsh Road. Unlike the back stories of most urban legends, this murder was real and well-documented.” – SanJose.com

They actually had to close the road for a while because it was getting a bit out of hand with people going to the bridge and ravine where the ghost supposedly wanders.

While DJ and I were driving down this road, all we could talk about was how stunning the mountains and scenery were. It was probably one of the most charming places I have been since living in California. And yet, still it felt strangely unsettling. Now, knowing the background of the story and what actually occurred here, my heart was beating a tad faster than it should have been. I think the fact that we felt so isolated was what made the drive eerie more than anything. There was no one in sight. Nothing in sight. Then all of a sudden something stepped out into the road. My breath caught in my throat. A big pitbull-terrier mix type dog was giving us an ominous stare down with eyes outlined by dark circles. DJ slammed on the brakes, and we waited for it to get out the way. My breath started coming back to me slowly and my heart rate slowed. I calmed myself down. DJ laughed at my reaction, and we kept going, further and further down the road. Finally we came to the bridge and ravine… My stomach knotted thinking about the story surrounding this place. We turned the car around after taking a quick look around and began driving back up the road.

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As we drove back up the road, DJ made some quick remark about the puppy coming after us. As soon as he said this, the same dog ran out into the road again, way further along than where we originally saw the beast. He stopped and stared at us just like before with large, dark knowing eyes. I was like, “Ok that’s it, let’s get out of here!”

Next stop: GrandView Restaurant.

The GrandView: “The lights have been known to flicker or even come on by themselves at this restaurant, even when no one is in the building. Also, the ghost of a young girl has been reported standing on the balcony that looks out over Silicon Valley.” – Hauntedplaces.org

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Okay, despite the stories, and the alleged “haunting” of this venue, I felt like it was nothing but magical. Even the bartender that greeted us laughed at the notion of it being haunted. The view of Silicon Valley was ….. well even now… it’s leaving me speechless. We came at the perfect time to witness one of the most incredible sunsets. It was beyond romantic and DJ and I dined over delectable halibut and lobster carbonara. I probably do not even need to describe the flavor. Ya’ll need to come and experience it yourself.

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I felt like we were dining in heaven. It was surreal. I could not have imagined celebrating any differently. Also–I begin applying for jobs next week- YEEK! 🙂

Sunday was a bit of a whirlwind, in the best way! We have have begun volunteering at church in the mornings, so we get there around 7:15 (DJ) and 8:00 (myself). It has only enhanced my whole feeling of belonging, relationship with Christ, and perspective of the body of Christ. Right before the first service, I received a message from a friend I went to college with. DJ and I have been wanting to get together him and his wife for a while, and I suggested they come to our church sometime. They have plans to move back to Indiana, but I recommended they swing before they did! Sure enough, they said they were on their way for the 11:30 service! I was both shocked that they were coming, but also thrilled. They drove two hours to us from Modesto and we grabbed lunch at the Farmer’s Union together afterwards. It was fantastic to catch up with them and see how God is moving in their lives. They said they felt like the message was tailored for them- it even led them to make some pretty big life decisions.

Because my blog tends to just run on food fuel as much as we do, and this post is a lengthy one, it needs a snack! A smoked Mozzarella & Cabbage Pizza with a Romaine and Apple Salad should do the trick… (And ya’ll didn’t think I could get any dorkier).

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Monday was a SAD day. DJ gently woke me up to tell me that our dear, beloved Spanky had died. Guys- I was a mess. I loved that freaking fish so much. And it was just a fish?! How could such a little guy take up such a big piece of my heart?! DJ was also certainly upset himself. We were both pretty down the entire day. Cyranny certainly helped me feel better with her helpful blog counseling, hehe. She is a GEM. Anyway, we just kept busy, as you will see. We don’t have any idea how this happened, but we hypothesize it had to do with the water. We followed what the people at the pet store told us to a T, but I think they very clearly missed some instructions (no I’m not pointing the finger, OK maybe I am, I am a mother in mourning!). When we looked online they said they should have at least a 5 gallon tank, it should be 1/3rd original water, and it should be 78-82 degrees. They told us it was fine with the tank I bought and recommended to keep the water at room temp.

Our other guess precipitating the tragic event is Clinton or Trump took him out because they caught onto our #SpankyTomforPresident hashtag. I don’t know which it was, but gosh dangggg it was rough. People with beta fish- care to share some tips?! Anyways, I was going to do an update post about Spanky- how he was becoming more brave and spending less time in his barrel, how he loved me more than DJ (but DJ says Spanky was warming up to him), how we joked that he was too good for us….Perhaps he was and that’s why he went to fishy heaven.

We may get another in the future… but for now.. we are certainly not emotionally ready </3. (yes, I have a fancy for the melodramatic).

Naturally, I did what any normal girl would do to feel better: Retail therapy. Usually I don’t care for shopping all that much, only when the shopping bug really bites, but I always loooove thrifting. I went to a thrift store on Monday and went in for sweaters, but came out instead with this gem. I actually do not have a big purse, so this was great and had a Kate Spade-esque look to it! It was only $22 and it’s a Kenneth Cole Reaction. I think that’s a good deal?! I know I have some fashionistas out there- is this a good deal?

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Had to share this beet hummus because it’s super unique and you just can’t beet it!

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Once again, I attempted my pumpkin cheesecake with an oatmeal crust. I seriously love it, but it’s not quite perfect yet to share. No worries- third time is a charm. I am determined to per-fect this little boogar. I also plan on making my Pumpkin French Toast this weekend- and so stay posted for that sometime next week!

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Monday night DJ and I decided to carve pumpkins. Keeping with theme of the night, I made a pumpkin pie. *The crowd all groans*.

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I also tribed, I mean tried, my hand at chief Wahoo. Please don’t remind me how that one ended 🙁

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DJ’s pumpkin was being stubborn. We won’t talk about it. 😉

Pumpkin seeds are always a must. I made cinnamon sugar, ranch, barbecue, and plain salt and pepper.

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Tuesday morning I went running on my favorite trail- San Antonio Open Preserve. Due to the recent rainfall in this area, Thank Jesus, the trails have such whimsical beauty about them. Moss climbs the trees, the rivers are purring again, and the dampness of the mud adds a little spring to each step. It was an incredible run. Each breath was deliciously filled with the taste of nature and it reminded me greatly of Ohio.

Ohio:

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California:

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Tuesday night I whipped up a grilled cheese with mild cheddar&muenster cheese for DJ with tomato soup and cilantro (I try to make things “normal” but it’s just so hard when there are so many herbs- OK?!), and then I made a giant garden salad for myself to finish up the produce.

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Today (Wednesday), I met with a friend for Lunch and we had the MOST wonderful conversation. Later, DJ and I watched the game with the fam. 🙁 🙁 :(. If you are a Cubs fan, I am glad that billy goat curse is broken, just not at our expense!

Also- did you guys see that tweet?

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Like come on. That’s freaking crazy. We were losing our minds over it!!!! It predicted exactly what happened… Minus the apocalypse. Lol.

On another note, it’s November already- can you believe it?! We have family coming in town tomorrow, and we are PUMPED!!!! Hope you all are doing so well. I’m thankful for this community and although I began this blog to update fam and friends and have a place to write down our memories, I treasure each one of you here and the friendships that are forming along the way <3

Wishing you a weekend CARVED with joy

xo <3

Mack

Happy Birdd-Day

This day is a big deal day. I mean a BIGGGGGGGG deal! It is DJ’s Birthday!!!! This truly is one of my favorite “holidays” because it means my favorite person was born on this day! Thank you DJ for gracing the world with your presence, but also for allowing me to have dibs on you for my hubby. We love birthdays because it is an excuse to say “Happy Birrrrdday” over and over again. Who can spot the reference? Also- Happy Birthday to Amy (his twin sister!). Today DJ is happily spending his day meeting with friends and getting a few tasks done, while I am taking a tiny respite from studying to record some fun stuff from this past week!

We received this amazing Cheesecake Factory sampler from djs mom on Thursday! holy yum.


We made quite a dent! The caramel de leche was our favorite!

Thursday night I whipped up, yet another, Indian-fusion-esque type dinner. Who really knows what it is. But it was edible! It included okra, cauliflower, shrimp, a tikki masala sauce, every spice that I thought could possible compliment it, and some siggis yogurt. I accompanied it with some naan bread and a gigantic salad. This my friends, I call “everything but the kitchen sink”.

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Friday we went to Lazy Dog on Main Street Cupertino. We were feeling tired after a long week of studying and what could sound better than going to a place called Lazy Dog? It was super relaxing and nice to just spend a nice long dinner together rather than the rushed ones that usually take place during the week. It’s hard to truly enjoy your food when you have six hours of studying still staring you in the face for the night!

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I ordered their Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna. This was one of the  most original dishes of ahi I have ever tried. It makes my mouth water just reminiscing about it. It was served medium-rare on house-made cauliflower mash with roasted vegetables and a coconut curry cream sauce. It was also topped with some fresh cilantro. I tried to recreate the cauliflower mash, which I share later on! This dish was fish-alicious.

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DJ went for their signature burger for which they are known for! He ravenously ate it up. Now, I don’t know if the boy was just really hungry, or if that was a sign that he hasn’t had something that good in that long! I may have been too afraid to inquire.

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Also! I pulled out my first sweater for the season! This is one of my favorite fall colors- anything dark purple or maroon. The weather here is surprisingly perfect for the sweater life. I think I expected it to feel warm year round, but it still has a fall feel with the leaves falling and a crispness to the air.

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Saturday I got up at the butt-crack of dawn to go on one last BIG hike with my hiking group. I absolutely love this group of people. If you wanna get to know people, go on a hike with them. Within seven miles hiking up a mountain you end up talking about pretty much anything and everything. One thing that surprised me was one guy who grew up here (in California) could not understand why someone could possibly enjoy a thunderstorm. Me and one other girl from the midwest tried to explain the ominous excitement, smells, and wonder of an awesome midwest thunderstorm. It was interesting to me that he had never experienced something like that.  We also came past the most beautiful dog I may have ever seen. It was a bright white husky with sky-blue eyes. I am not always one to run up and ask to pet a random dog, but I could not help myself with this one. The owner even let me get a picture with it. I told DJ that we need to get this type of dog and a Beans soon (three-legged dream dog from the pound). He personally prefers French Pitbulls and Chocolate Labs. We both also love Vishlas! We had a friend who had one and fell in love. Anyone own any of these types of dogs?

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After an amazing hike, that my hips are still recovering from, we went to the Vine in Niles. This cute little town is quite a hike from our place in Cupertino. OH MY WORD- I did not intend that pun, I swear. I know I usually do intend allll the puns, but that one was not intended. Anyway, Niles is just the most darling little town with the strips full of unique boutiques, food trucks, and the luminous mountains cradling the whole surrounding area.

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After that hike I needed a big ole cup of joe! I think my favorite part of this whole place was the fact that I had my coffee served in this mug.

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HELLO to the most delicious sweet potato tots I ever did taste. They were served with a garam masala aioli. SO GOOD. I got them “for DJ” but ate half of them (or more than half) before I made it home. Like I said, it was a hike back- a good 50 minute drive is long enough to get hungry again.

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I had a tasty, filling salmon salad with craisins, goat cheese, walnuts, and a honey curry vinaigrette over arugula.

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SUNDAY! Oh Sunday was a much needed day. We are currently re-evaluating some choices and direction in our lives, but Sunday was just what we needed for some ease and clarity. I think right now DJ and I are realizing more than ever that our life “plans” on paper do not, and will not, always reflect reality. But that is okay. We are both at this point where we just want to be used by God, love others, and see how we can make a difference in the SV area each day. God has shut a lot of doors on our plans, but we are watching something unfold that we could not have designed ourselves. In the past, we have always filled our schedules and days with commitments and do not make ourselves available for anything that we have not designated important ourselves. But God, in His sovereignty, has shut many doors and we are finding ourselves available to do His work in a way we never have been. We are ecstatic to see what unravels, where this time of our lives takes us, and how he will use us. Our current situation can be described as this (….). The big ole’ dot, dot, dot. We have no idea how the next few years will unfold, but I think both of us could not be more excited to see how it will look.

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So why was Sunday so great? First we attended Church, and if that can’t rejuvenate ya, I don’t know what can. After, we met with the Pastors from our church for lunch as this rustic, yet modern, place in San Jose called The Farmer’s Union. They provided a great deal of encouragement to us. They gave us soo much to think about as well and sparked some thought-provoking conversation between DJ and I throughout the week leading to some of the open-ended conclusions (oxymoron?) I mentioned above.

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I have been fighting something of a cold this week and this Echinacea and Cranberry tea has been a lifesaver. I am a FIRM believer in herbal and vitamin supplements to prevent a cold. Load up the vitamin C, Echinacea, and Zinc to halt that nasty tickle in the throat from becoming a full on monster. But always talk to your healthcare provider before taking them 😉

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Here are the Cauliflower mashed potatoes that I tried to recreate (inspiration from the Lazy Dog!). These were sooo simple and I have a feeling that I may be entering into a new food craze stage.

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I also made these little Cauliflower wings with the leftover half of a head. I have the recipe posted here if you missed it 😉

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The next night I used the leftover cauliflower mash and combined it with some curry hummus to try to achieve that Indian cauliflower taste. I added a Morningstar Garlic and Quinoa burger with some fresh basil for a super easy and delicious meal.

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I had some kale that was about to go bad too, so I whipped up some kale chips to dip in the buffalo sauce too! Snacks for dayzzz.

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Throughout the week I have been studying at Peet’s nearly everyday.

I have loved studying at this little coffee shop and am beginning to develop friendships with the baristas. They are the kindest folk. One day they came up to me and gave me a coupon for a free coffee. They also told me that I am overstudying. Now when essentially strangers are telling you this, it makes you wonder!

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This is what “leave me alone I’m watching the game ” looks like One night during dinner I realized I had forgotten a couple things at the store. DJ, the sweet husband he is, ran out to grab them for me. He returned with this gem- edible cookie dough. Yes, all of your dreams have now come true. You can bake it or eat it straight out of the container if you wish. It is dairy and egg free too. We love our Pillsbury break-and-bakes, but I think we have a new favorite.

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Yesterday I had a bit of a stomach ache. I think I have just had so much rolling around in this head of mine and have been drained by the studying. I stopped by and picked this up from the store. GOODBYE tummy-ache! Ginger is one of the greatest things to help with nausea and aid in digestion. Kombucha also has some terrific probiotics too. I am really going full blown nurse on ya’ll, this post aren’t I?

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You didn’t think I wasn’t going forget a Fine Cooking recipe now did you?! This week I wanted to make something with meat. I make a lot of seafood naturally being pescatarian, but I felt that I haven’t tried my hand at a good meat dish in a while. I whipped up a Pork Tenderloin Provencal Tuesday night. I have never made pork, but was pleased with how it turned out. I accompanied it with rosemary roasted veggies and wild rice. It was surprisingly easy, and DJ said it was one of the best meals I have ever made. I think it would be an excellent meal for a Christmas eve dinner or special occasion! Tastes fancy without all the work 😉 .

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Now for birthday festivities. I maybe should not post this, but I seriously can’t help myself. I LOVE the goofy cards for birthdays (or any occasion). I spend wayyy too much time looking at all of them and take more pride in the card than the gift usually. We have tons of fun with them in my family. I stay away from anything with the actual age on it though… One time I got my brother a “Happy 30th” birthday card, ready to make a big deal about the big 3-0. He actually was turning 31. They never let me live that one down. In fact the next year, I received the same card from him and he crossed out the thirty and wrote 20 (the age I was turning). Anywho, DJ LOVES animals, so I always make sure to get an animal one. This was this years pick. Like I said, maybe this is inappropriate? But I promise this is as PG-13 it will get around here.

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We were planning on going out for a momentous pancake breakfast for his birthday, but he was meeting with a friend at 10 am, and decided last night he wanted to sleep in. I woke up early to figure something out, because everyone has to have a delicious birthday breakfast! I had some 90 calorie reduced fat pillsbury crescent rolls in the fridge and decided to try to make apple roll-ups. These are way healthier than a breakfast pastry and just as tasty. DJ couldn’t believe how relatively healthy they were.

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He obviously liked them…img_1238

Last night I was having a moment of I NEED TO BAKE. Anyone else get that? The baking bug hits me hard in the fall. I load up on cans of pumpkin filling and end up just trying to create whatever I can, whenever I can. Baking is very therapeutic for me and since we were just eating leftovers last night, I decided to bake instead during my usual dinner prep time. I made a healthy pumpkin cheesecake with an oatmeal crust. This little guy is about 150 calories a slice and about 10 grams of protein. I am working on getting the recipe absolutely perfect, and then I will share it.

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Tonight we are going to take it easy per DJ’s request. I think we are going to grab dinner somewhere local and then relax at home. I am going to try to squeeze in a bit more studying before the day wraps up. I am also attending a women’s conference this weekend and am incredibly excited for that!!!! DJ will be taking the weekend pretty easy. Sunday night is when we are actually celebrating his birthday with a nice night out.

Lastly, but most importantly, our thoughts and prayers fervently go out to all those affected by hurricane Matthew .

Wishing you an icing on the cake kind of day,

xo <3

Mack