A Foxy Pup, an Ice Cream Battle, & Recyclops!

Hi, Lovies!!! I don’t have a super eventful update— but as always, I want to reflect on the hum drum and find the highlights, you know, find those doggone silver linings (they are there, I promise!). First, I am SO excited to say I have officially submitted my first grad school application. It was a DOOZY. It’s (maybe) my first choice, but I am very confused about the whole decision. I’m applying to schools across the country (and many online schools that pair you with a nearby hospital). I just pray that God will make it clear where we should be. I love California; I love it so dearly, and I love our life here. But we also LOVE exploration  and when else will we have this flexibility to just get up and go (cough cough… kids…..), so who knows… but I don’t know that we can imagine leaving here yet. I don’t know! I guess we will see! Nothing will happen until next fall, so I’m hoping all things will just fall in place the way they should.

Just a little context, I’m sitting here this Sunday evening with my mint chocolate chip ice cream, a glass of cabernet sauvignon, and NYC Housewives playing on the laptop (Uhm, Aviva- take a chill pill girlfran’). I don’t have the GRE or November application deadline hanging over my head (although I have about three more coming up in November- March), but for today, we will relish in the moment. DJ has the World Series playing in the background, and things feel actually OK at this second.

I think we left off right after the GRE. I went back to work for a few days, and DJ headed to Ohio! I wish I could have went back, but work owns me. I am thankful he had such a fantastic weekend with his family, but I am honestly a bit jealous because I miss them all terribly.

On Saturday, October 21st, my dear fran Sara, (you may remember this chica from here, here, and here), stopped by to hangout and catch up while DJ was spending his last day in Ohio. We decided to go to Steins for an appetizer and a drink to catch up!

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The waiter brought us the cutest little mini beer mugs to try their featured sour flavor. It was cute, but wayyy too sour for our liking. Plus neither of us are big beer guys.

We tried a recommended featured cocktail with capurro pisco (not sure what that is), but it ruined the flavor. We were not fans of this cocktail. However, their beer garden cooler was delish and refreshing. Highly recommend if you end up finding yourself here.

Also, highly, HIGHLY recommend their truffle fries- TO. DIE. FOR. Perhaps the best truffle fries ever. I think the only other ones that contest were the ones in Santa Cruz.

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ANNNDDD Sara surprised me with Foxy Lady (that’s literally her name) (you may remember her from this post). I was ecstatic. I just love this pup so much.

Sara cracks me up when she has Foxy do her dance.

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When Foxy wants her tummy scratched in the hallway, she will not take no for an answer.

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Cutest little pumpkin <3

We hung out, laughed, had an aggressive battle with a Talenti gelato mint chocolate chip pint (if you follow me on Instagram @ __mackenzie.marie__ you probably saw) and chatted until about 11 pm.

We literally wrestled with a Talenti container for probably twenty minutes. We tried EVERYTHING from knives, to rubber twist jar openers, and finally rubber oven mitts….it was a scene. Beware the Talenti.

Anywho, It was such nice, much needed girl time!!!

On Sunday October 22nd, I woke up bright eyed and bushy, but realized I didn’t have yogurt for my toast. I panicked, but no worries- there is a Target just down the road. I picked up my coffee mug (didn’t even bother putting it in a tumbler) and headed to Target to snag some yog. I know all the workers, considering I stop by there nearly every day, so they didn’t blink at me showing up disheveled with my half finished cup of coffee and zombie affect. It happens more than I probably should admit. After I was all caffeinated, I zoomed to pick Deej from the airport!

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When we came home, DJ had to whip off to work for a couple hours. When he came home, we decided we were in the mood for some lunchy brunchy food. We have been wanting to try out the local Bob Evans (Aka Holder’s Country Inn). It received great reviews on Yelp, and it sounded like the perfect Sunday afternoon meal.

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I had their veggie scramble with egg whites, peppers, mushrooms, salsa, and avocado. Every ingredient was immensely fresh and satisfied the craving to a tee.

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DJ tried their pancakes… now, if you follow along, DJ is on the hunt for the best pancake. So far the best ones we have found in the area are Bobbie’s. They have yet to top the Bellagio’s from Las Vegas, or his mom’s (DUH!).

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He also had the country fried steak with eggs. Doesn’t get more Bob Evans-ey than this, folks.

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After we returned home, I decided to take advantage of the glorious day and go for a nice jog outside.

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The leaves are changing, the colors are vibrant, and the weather is finally cooling its jets (it has been ridiculously hot here). When I came back home I whipped up my new absolute favorite meal. I was going to wait until a Friday Faves, but I can’t. It’s too good!

My all time favorite potato is the sweet purple white potato (purple outside, white inside). It actually has more antioxidants than a regular orange sweet potato, and I swear tastes better. You can find different varieties- some have a white colored inside, and some have a vibrant purple.

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I stir fry together white onion, mushrooms, Lightlife tempeh, and eggplant with liquid aminos.

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Once it’s all caramelized and the sweet potato is cooked to tenderness, I stuff the tater! So easy, so absolutely delicious, satisfying, and high in protein/complex carbs.

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And the caprese salads are still going strong for DJ!

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He and I have not been able to do many of the “fall activities” this year ( cue melancholy soundtrack), but I have been listening to a plethora of crime podcasts, have eaten an embarrassing amount of candy corn, and we watched Cropsey together on Amazon prime over the course of a few days. SOooOOO sort of taking advantage, yah?

I even found this wine to accompany the documentary  because it seemed appropro. DJ always laughs at how excited I get about the “idea” of something.. I like things to be themed, anyone else feel meh?! Why just watch a crime documentary when you can watch a crime documentary with CRIME wine on the heels of listening to crime podcasts in the midst of Halloween hype?! PS. Documentary was tremendous.

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And I mean these socks are basically me after a couple shifts so… had to invest..

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We both worked Monday October 23rd, but the 24th I picked up my bridesmaid dress for the November wedding (EEEK!!!!), and then later in the day grabbed a massage (much needed). There was a $30 off coupon online for a super nice salon in Sunnyvale. I jumped on it, and enjoyed every stinking second of that massage.

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After the massage, I stopped by Safeway to pick up my Ice Cream (Oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough….. it says limited edition but I’m convinced I am keeping them single-handedly in stock). I also stumbled upon this RXBar. Mint chocolate chip you say?!? Yesss sirrr-eeeee.

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I still prefer the Chocolate sea salt, but I see they now have pumpkin and maple. Uhm, yuhm. I need to hunt those down!

On Wednesday, the 25th, and Thursday the 26th, I buckled down on my application. I spent the full days slaving over that booger. It was in-stinking-tense. I definitely needed a break to clear my head… this called for an extra long run, which turned into an impromptu half marathon. #procrastinationnation.

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And on the heels of any long run, candy corn is EXTRA necessary.

Later in the day I stocked up on groceries for the next few days from Sprouts Farmers Market. This is one of my favorite grocery stores around.

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^^This is as close as I got to a pumpkin patch this year.

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In the evening, I decided I needed some sushh. It has been a hot minute!!! I went for my go-to sunset roll with unagi, ahi tuna, and lemon with a side of wakame salad and extra ginger.

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I worked Friday and Saturday. Friday morning was bad, bad, bad. BAD BADDDDD. First, I was out of coffeee (nough said, right?). I drove to work early so I could make a cup, and when I checked my phone, it said my time off request for the wedding the end of November was NOT approved. A few months ago I had a face to face conversation with my manager confirming that it wouldn’t be a problem. So now.. I panicked, the anxiety set in, I couldn’t see straight. I started bawling in the bathroom before my shift. I quickly messaged her explaining I had already bought the plane ticket and told the Bride I could be in the wedding based on our conversation. I spent the whole morning sick to my stomach, holding back tears, and gritting my teeth through my assignments. Halfway through the day she e-mailed back saying it was approved, she just had to go back and adjust the way it was formatted in our system. I have never been so relieved. I cried again— tears of relief. I was a MESS. I would not have made it through the morning without the support from my family who sent scripture and prayed over the situation when I frantically filled them in before the shift began. Thank you Jesus for answering that prayer. I still take deep breaths just thinking about it.

But on a much brighter note….. .on Saturday the 21st, DJ headed to his family’s for a costume party. I was bummin’ I missed it this year. You can check out the post from last year if you would like 😉 Our costumes were certainly something! Haha. This year DJ was Recyclops from the Office! He nailed it. The rest of the family’s costumes were amazing too. I wish I could have been there to see them in person!!

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Sunday (the 22nd) I accidentally slept in wayyyyy too late after working all weekend. Whoops. I can’t interact with anyone the day after working a few in a row and my body cannot physically function. I get in a fuzzy funk from the exhaustion and move the pace of a sloth. I decided to wake up my body with a run before finishing up my application.

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It was perfectly brisk, with cloudy skies, and the weather finally exuded those autumnal feelz <3 I love LOVE cloudy Sundays. Sundays in the fall are the ultimate relaxing day after Church, naps, football, and candles. A cloudy day just enhances the whole experience and I feel like “gives me permission” to be lazy.

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One of the houses along my run had a little garden out front and was growing butternut squash(es), squash? I think just squash. Can you say #GOALS?!

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I also saw this beautiful flower and couldn’t help but snag a picture. Is it weird that I thought of a Punnett square when I saw the unusual distribution of colors?! I will always be a bio nerd at heart.

For dinner, we tried the Daiya vegan Margherita pizza. Not only does DJ love the Vegan burgers, but now is on board with the vegan pizza. He said it was easily just as tasty as a regular one.

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And that’s a wrap! As I finish up this post, it’s actually morning now, I am sipping coffee, eating a protein bar and my toast, and for the first time in a LONG time I don’t have something hanging over my head for the day. I am gonna finish up my breakfast, go for a run, answer some blog comments, and read Harry Potter until my eyeballs fall out. Woohooo!!!!!

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xo <3

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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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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

HOT ROLLS: Ozark, MO!

Something I have been meaning to share, but haven’t quite found the time was the rest of our cross-country road trip out here to California. We began in Indiana and trekked over 3,000 miles to our new home. It took us a little over a week and in that week memories were created that neither of us will ever forget.

We packed up the giant Uhaul that our parents graciously drove cross-country for us and took off toward a new adventure, new unknowns, and a new life. When planning our trip out West I had one stipulation. DJ found this request comical, considering we basically could stop anywhere along the way. BUT- once you go, once you try this place, you will understand!

What is this life-changing place? I’m glad you asked. LAMBERT’S CAFE. Last year we went here on our way to a wedding in Tulsa. It is located right off the highway in Ozark, MO. I could not wait to go back and what better time than this road trip? Let me tell ya, it did not take much to convince the hubs!

If I could require everyone to go to one restaurant in their lives, it would be to here. This is your deep, southern fried, nothing-beats-it, grandma’s cooking. To people from the East, I would describe it as “Cracker Barrel on steroids”. Anytime you go, be prepared to wait at least an hour. This place is as good as they claim, and everyone from across the country knows it. They have a map outside their restaurant and they have pins to mark where you are from. There are people from every state across the US. I am telling you- people travel from Alaska for this! THAT GOOD.

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Anywho- what makes this place so special you ask? Here is a pretty typical trip to Lambert’s:

  1. The car ride over looks something like this. gif excited.gif
  2. Once you arrive, you battle all the other cars for a parking spot. 200 (3).gif
  3.  Then, you walk to the outdoor window hostess to put your name in, walking quicker than the six-person family a few steps ahead of you, because, hey, gotta beat them for that table.

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3. You wait for an hour, but it feels more like days. You find yourself salivating as you dream of “HOT ROLLS!”

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4. You check the time incessantly. Maybe you go to the gift store, maybe check out the map of the US to see where the other roll-addicts are from, but really, you just get to do some hardcore people watching.

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5. They call your name over the loud speaker outside. You are in a state of disbelief, that yes, it’s you. You tell yourself to move; you pinch yourself, afraid you are dreaming. When you see your friends’ faces light up with a goofy distorted excitement you know it’s real. It’s time.

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6. You make your way to your table and soak in the views of the heavenly food on everyone’s plates. Decisions. Horribly difficult, amazing decisions.

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7. Once seated, the waiter explains how “it works”. But you already know how it works, oh, you know! They bring you out the most gargantuan soda of your whole life. The waiters with the charmingly, nerdy uniforms ask you if you would like some fried okra. You wonder why they even ask; you wonder if it would be weird to hug them.

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7. You down that delicious okra. Oh wait… what is that smell? Could it be…? “HOT ROLLS!” You wave your hand, you jump up and down, you do whatever you can so that they just might throw one of carby buns in your direction.

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8. FINALLY. That hot, doughy piece of bread touches your fingertips. The waiter with the sorghum (aka your new best friend) loads it on that fluffy piece of heaven. You finally understand, it is all so clear, your sole purpose in life is to eat these rolls.

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9. The waiter brings out your food, and now you can try the rest of the pass-arounds: The macaroni and tomatoes, the fried potatoes and onions, the black eyed peas. You sample your sides. WHY IS COLD CHUNKY APPLESAUCE SO GOOD?! Your emotions overtake you.

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10. You finish your meal and walk away from the table. You just remind yourself, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” 

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Wishing you many throwed rolls,

xo <3

Mack