Fort Worth, TX Recap!

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

Thursday (12/15)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday (12/20)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday (12/21)

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

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Followed by shenanigans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In the afternoon I ran a couple errands with Mama Jill

You know you are in Texas when…

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That afternoon we had apps round two!

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

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We also had stuffed vegan acorn squash with fresh cranberries!

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My mom also made regular meatballs for Pete

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Isn’t she darling?!

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a very Happy New Year,

xo <3

Mack

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Our Family Is Growing

I’m giving our moms a heart attack as they read this title. NO- I’m not pregnant. Haha- sorry 😝. Don’t worry- I would not announce it on my blog before telling you guys 😘. But we do have a new addition to the family that I will be announcing later on. OH THE SUSPENSE.

First things first- I just want to say a TREMENDOUS thank you to Afrilly for the sweet, sweet words on her blog as well as Cyranny. Truly- I am blown away by the sincerity and kindness of this community. Also thank you to Theveggiecooker for her nomination for the One Lovely Blog award. I am beyond honored. At this time I don’t quite have the time to thoughtfully nominate others and respond to the award, but the nomination was incredibly appreciated.

Well, ya’ll ready for our hodge-podge of the last week and a half or so?

After the last post we had some zucchini leftover so we made zucchini pizzas, the more “normal” way. This is one of DJ’s favorites. I saved the inner parts that you scrape out for a recipe I share later on! I love that the grocery store has so many vegan options for the toppings. They have vegan pepperoni and vegan bacon.

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I am on a new breakfast kick. I ate oatmeal for breakfast for about five years straight. I even carried a big ole’ thing of Quaker oats in my car with me when I traveled. They became famous among my friends and we called them the “Traveling Oats”. Anyway- the last few months I have been changing it up with fruit and granola parfaits, and now I am changing it up once again. I have been loving putting Siggi’s yogurt on Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel bread with homemade cinnamon apple chips. I wake up craving this. Siggi’s yogurt is awe-some. It has an insane amount of protein and is low fat. It is made with all wholesome ingredients and acts almost like a cream cheese. It’s perfect in the morning with a cuppa joe!

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Now on to other happenings. It’s FALL!!! Finally. This time is dangerous for our pocket books if we are honest with ourselves (Ladies- can I get an AMEN?!). I can’t walk into a store without feeling wonderfully overwhelmed by the beautiful, beautiful madness. Oh the pumpkin everything, the candles, the smells, the foods, the SWEATER WEATHER.

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Oh brother. One of my favorite parts is scanning the shelves at grocery stores for new fall foods. Kids have it good these days- look at these cereal options. (Side note: Pumpkin Spice Mini Wheats are revolutionary!)

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DJ came home from class one day last week and I guiltily admitted that I made an impulsive buy. I saw this little pumpkin pillow while I was out and about and could not leave without. OH how I tried to resist. That’s a lie- I did not try very hard.

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On Thursday of last week we were running low on groceries. I had to get real creative ya’ll because we were going to be gone for the weekend, and I didn’t want to restock groceries yet. I had the leftover inner portion of the zucchini from our zucchini pizzas, eggs, and some Palak’s Tikki Masala curry. I figured that eggplant is used as a base in a lot of Indian/Thai dishes, so why not give zucchini a go?! I also remembered the eggs that were on top of the dish DJ had at Oren’s, and decided that maybe I would throw those on top too. And  of course, alllll the spices. I also had some roti sitting in the freezer (because that’s normal for a basic American girl). I love making roti because it puffs up as you make it. And its fun to say “roe-tee”.

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DJ said this was one of his favorites that I’ve made. He said we needed to make it a staple- A STAPLE! I laughed at how much he loved my scrap together meal.

On Friday through Sunday we spent time watching DJ’s sisters and some family friends’ children. (Four kids total). Since DJ was studying all weekend intensely for midterms, I joked that I went from a studying, unemployed, newlywed to a single mother of four overnight.

Friday night was an adventure around dinner time. I wasn’t quite familiar with how to use the stove and while I thought I turned on the oven I actually turned on the stove that was hidden by a cover on top of the stove. I turn around to put a pizza in and the stove is smoking. Look, when you are responsible for four children and can’t turn on an oven it takes a deep hit to your maternal confidence. The girls came by to help me out and showed me how to use it properly. By that point everyone was pretty hungry so waiting thirty plus minutes for the oven to preheat and to cook the pizza seemed out of the question. I threw together a few other random bites of anytizzers, stovetop chicken a la vodka pasta, and mahi mahi salad from the fridge for myself, and while not my proudest cooking endeavor at least everyone got fed- right?

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Saturday was so.much.fun. I was still able to squeeze in studying here and there but spending that time with the girls gave me a new boost of energy and provided a much needed break from the books. Naturally, we went to LUSH first. Once again- the cult-like following of all things fall is everywhere. Their fall products are way too fun. I tried out the goth fairy and magic wand. Super obsessed with both. You really cannot go wrong here with any of their products.

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Saturday night the girls did the sweetest thing for DJ and me. When I came inside from studying they said they had a surprise for us that night. Then we received a text that read, “To the Mr. and Mrs., tonight we have prepared a special night for the two of you. Tonight you will be enjoying a delicious dinner, music, and surprises! Please join us in the dining room at about 6:15. We hope to see you there soon!” Love the B.A.M girls (abbreviation for their names).

I actually teared up when I saw what they had set up for us. They had romantic music playing and made a bouquet (they actually made it with flowers they found outside), candles, the whole deal. They each played waitress and came out offering us either “Sparkling water” or “Citrus sparking water”. They proceeded to tell us that they would begin serving whenever we were ready. We were eager to see what they had prepared and they brought out a delicious fettuccini with homemade alfredo sauce with parmasean to sprinkle on top. I cannot explain how impressed I was with them. The food and service was superb!

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For dessert they made an apple pie. Seriously, come on- do we have the greatest sisters or what?! DJ and I went back for seconds.

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Later that night we may have had a tiny mishap with the dishwasher. There was no powder detergent and the packets of cascade were a bit too big. I, brilliantly, thought just a small dash of dishwasher soap would be a good idea. WARNING: do not try that at home. After about five minute of it going I hear the girls yelling- “It’s overflowing! It’s overflowing!” I look and soap suds are seeping out of the cracks, under, and around the darn dishwasher. Good going, Mack. #FakeMomFail .

Sunday one of the girls had a basketball tournament. It felt like a Starbucks kind of morning. I stopped by and picked up the girls their favorite double chocolate chip frappacinos and a chocolate croissant. I guess the Pokemon go is still going strong!

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Speaking of Coffee: Today is national Coffee Day!!!!! BIG DEAL!!!!!! This is personally one of my favorite holidays. I hope you guys are all properly caffeinated. I am at a Pete’s and about three minutes ago I went to sit down and spilled my coffee all over the place. That is either a sign that I need more or have had too much? Luckily the lap top was spared but I so ungracefully, in very characteristic me-fashion, made a big ole’ mess. I’m really killing it this week aren’t I?

I have been camping out at Peet’s this whole week and know all the baristas by name now. They cheer me on as I take a million practice exams, memorize a million lab values, and drink way too much of their coffee.

I also used to be a barista so what better time to share some of my “artwork” than now?! Below are a few of my favorites.

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Back to the week in review:

Sunday night when we got home, once again no groceries. And we were far too drained to go out and buy some. I did have some veggies leftover and of course eggs and roti. I made an western egg scramble in roti burritos with a side of sriracha hot sauce.

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Monday was an essential grocery/cleaning day. I tried to study, but I couldn’t focus with so much on my to-do list. I knocked out the grocery shopping in the morning and cleaned all day, did some laundry, and prepared dinner. Also I did watch the Presidential Debate (just a day late on Hulu). I don’t want to get political, so I’ll keep my views to myself- you all get enough of that from other social media platforms.

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Pumpkin nutmeg candle <3
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Sprouts is hands-down my favorite grocery store. I don’t shop there for everything because it can be a bit expensive (not as expensive as Whole Foods), but I do love looking for specialty items. They have the best selection of pumpkin/fall foods. I told the cashier that I was going to limit myself to just one specialty pumpkin item each grocery trip. Jokes on me- As I was walking out of the store I saw the Harvest Pumpkin Tortilla Chips with Pumpkin Salsa. I walked right back up to the cashier and said I took back what I said about one pumpkin item per trip.

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We also got our delivery of Graze this week! I have wanted to try this out for forever, well since the beginning of college, and I found a Groupon for it! Graze is excellent because it is perfectly custom designed to your snacking needs. They have a protein box, a calorie count box, a dessert box, etc. I have liked everything, but I definitely have some favorites:

  • Deconstructed Carrot Cake
  • Peachy Orchard
  • Sweet Rhubarb Jam
  • White Chocolate with Wild Blueberry Toast
  • Salted Caramel Fudge

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This week I decided to try out a Mustard Char Glazed Salmon from my Fine Cooking magazines. It was ridiculously easy to make and had a flavor like nothing I have ever tried.

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Our house has a LEEK!!!!!!!! 
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This week we are in hard core study mode (per usual). I am rounding down the home stretch to my studying. I am hoping to take my NCLEX by late October. DJ has midterms on Friday.

Okay- time for the big unveiling. So DJ has been a bit down this week in the study blues, as I mentioned last post. I thought to myself- what can I do to cheer his up? LIGHTBULB, buy Spanky Tom! Buy a what?  Spanky Tom is our fish that we have talked about getting for years, since early college days. No idea where we got that name. Truly no clue. But I knew this was the time. What can cheer someone up more than a fish?! I threw in the study towel early and headed to PetSmart.

Side story: I do have a track record of spontaneously buying fish. When I got my first paycheck ever in high school, I decided that very day that I wanted to spend it on a little fish. I went to the store and looked for the ugliest fish I could find. I always want the ugliest pet because they are the least likely to get adopted. (Like my dream of adopting a three legged ugly dog from the pound and naming it Beans). I found a Black Moore with bulging eyeballs and named it Sunshine. I’m a fan of irony. Sunshine was the best darn fish to ever swim the planet. When Sunshine was about two years old my family went away for a vacation. I bought a “self releasing fish feeder”. FALSE. It did not release the food. Sunshine was in a dire state when I came home. It’s little gills were barely moving. I did what everyone does in a state of panic and horror: I googled. I tried everything. I changed the tank’s water, put my dear little sunshine in cold water, in warm water (I probably shocked her), I tried CPR on the dang fish, I fed it corn (not sure where I got that one), but poor Sunshine was lost to fishy heaven. I cried. At eighteen years old I cried over my dead pet fish. That really forced me to reevaluate my life.

Anyway- back to Spanky. I was giddy with excitement. DJ doesn’t quite share in my enthusiasm of buying ugly animals, so I decided to get a pretty Spanky. I spent about fifteen minutes staring at all the fish to see which one had the most spunk. I finally chose this precious little male Beta. It’s hard to tell in the picture but here is me and Spanky T’s first picture together.

When DJ got home this was our conversation:

Me: Guess what

DJ: What

Me: I bought Spanky Tom

DJ: *Laughing* did you really just go out and buy a fish again?

I walked over to show him the tank. Deej was pretty excited- at least it got a smile out of him! Our little family is growing! I told him I chose Spanky because he seemed the most energetic of all the fish. We both looked down at Spanky T just sitting in his barrel, barely moving, and DJ observed, “Yeah, looks like it”.😂

Now, is this not the photogenic fish you have ever seen?! ST loves the little barrel and that’s where he spends most of the time. It’s his favorite part of his tiny playground.

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Sorry about the title mothers. Simply click bait. GET IT?!

#SpankyTomforPresident

For dinner I made Jennie O turkey burgers for Deej, a Morningstar Quinoa and Garlic Vegan burger for myself and homemade sweet potato fries with a homemade healthy cinnamon butter.

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Tomorrow is Friday! Woohoo! That means date night. Especially after a torturous week leading up to midterms I am excited for DJ to have a night off studying (at at least mostly off).

Wishing you a swimmingly pleasant weekend,

xo <3

Mack

A Prison, a Criminal, and a Lawyer

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. Guest Bedroom!

B. Our balcony!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you an answer to prayer this week,

xo <3

Mack

Forth Worth, TX!

Happy Tuesday!!!! Boy, do I have a treat for you! I slowly have been recapping our travels on our cross country trip in between present day California updates. It’s like one of those super confusing movies where they flip back and forth between past and present, and sometimes you can’t figure out which one it is, ya feel? Anyways, after our amazing Hot Rolls experience in Ozark, MO, we headed south to the good ole’ state of Texas! My parents moved there a couple years ago. When I was planning our wedding last summer (2015), before my trip to India, I spent the entire month in Fort Worth. I just fell in love with the area. Everyone is incredibly friendly, and if anyone knows you are from out of town, you will get a big smile and a “Welcome to Texas!” guaranteed. The energy in the city is contagious. We wanted to stop and say hello to our parents before continuing on and we managed to squeeze a decent amount of activity in our twenty-four hour period!

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After a long day of driving, we arrived in the evening and definitely needed some R and R (can you tell?) No better place to relax than Mama’s back patio. She has it decorated so gosh-darn cute.

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When my family gets together (even if it’s a small get- together) it’s about guaranteed that there is going to be some kind of cocktail/appetizer hour followed by  dinner… AKA two dinners. For our apps we had baked brie with granny smith apple slices and sushi. It was a delicious, and I wish I had taken a picture! As usual, I gobbled it all up before the thought crossed my mind! Dinner consisted of delicious chicken (at least I heard it was delicious 😉 ), russet potatoes, and a vegetable platter from Texas Bleu. Look ya’ll, if you ever go to Fort Worth/Keller area, you MUST go to Texas Bleu. It is one of the best steakhouses of yo life!

We went to sleep pretty early on because we were whooped! The next day my mom and I started the day early by going to the local gym together. Lately she has really prioritized exercise and gets up most days before 5 am to go to the gym. (Go mom!) After exercising, we went to the local Farmer’s Market and tried watermelon juice from one of the cute little stands. It was insanely refreshing after that workout! We then went back to the house, picked up DJ and relaxed at the local watering hole (or Keller’s Recreational Pool). I haven’t gone into a lazy river in years. It was so nice to float around and around and chat about just anything and everything.We were so on-the-go that I hardly have any pictures of the first half of the day’s festivities!

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We got ready and hit the city!!! First we went to the Fort Worth Water Gardens. I have never been anywhere like this. This “downtown oasis” consists of uniquely architected structures that each have a specific characteristic. There was a wedding and a quinceanera going on while we were there. My mom thought it was especially fascinating, and she chased around the quinceanera group to get pictures. You would have thought she was one of the kid’s parents. No shame. She did end up getting her picture that she wanted so badly!

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Aren’t they the cutest?!
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Looks like we had the parental paparazzi on us!

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For dinner we went to one of the BEST steakhouses ever (like I said-come to Texas for a great steakhouse!). While we waited, we hung out in their boutique. They had the cutest Texan turquoise purse I have ever seen, until I saw the price tag. That made it a little less cute!

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Here is what our selections looked like for dinner. *** All pictures from Reata’s website:

Appetizers:

  • Presenting the most incredible Bacon wrapped crab stuffed jalapeños. I don’t even eat meat, so I took off the bacon (some of you are cringing hearing me say that), and they were still TO.DIE.FOR. Truly one of the greatest things I have ever tried at a restaurant. The side of jalapeño cheddar grits will transform your meaning of “grits”, I promise!

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  • Fried Calamari with Cowboy Cocktail Sauce– Yes, it was as good as it sounds!

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Mains

  • The main course part of meals is incredibly stressful for me. It all looks so goooood! I can never decide on a main entree and usually end up ordering something, then changing it by the time everyone else has ordered. To help with this indecisiveness, my mom and I usually choose two meals we both think sound good and split them half-and-half. This time we split the Mahi-Mahi with Lobster Florentine (pictured below- no explanation needed) and the Jalapeno Cilantro Crusted Red Fish (hello, taste bud explosion!).

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  • The men each ordered the Pan Seared Crusted Tenderloin with Port Wine sauce. They said it was good, and I am willing to bet they ain’t lying!

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Sides

  • I require of you, if you go here, you MUST try the Bourbon Creamed Corn. it was one of my favorite parts of the whole meal! (Dip some of their corn bread in the creamed corn if you like all good things food).
  • Butter Roasted Mushrooms– Yes, I am currently drooling all over my laptop, how kind of you to notice.

Dessert

  • We couldn’t decide on one dessert, so naturally we ordered three. That’s normal, right?
  • First we tried the West Texas Pecan Pie. Can Pecan pie ever be bad? NO.
  • We then tried the banana pudding– it was “eh”. I’m not picky about desserts, if it has enough sugar than it really can’t be bad. This was just missing that banana punch, hate to say it.
  • However, we finished up with the Dutch Oven Apple Crisp with Cajeta. Not sure what Cajeta is, but I really like it!

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  • Next time we go, we all agreed we have to try their Chocolate Bread Pudding Tamale. I mean, just look at the things! We didn’t order them because the banana pudding sounded so light and tasty, but this is what the waiter recommended. There is your lesson for the day, boys and girls, always take the waiter’s recommendations!

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After dinner we walked around downtown Fort Worth for a while. I was surprised at how nice everything was. It did not feel like a downtown, but rather like a large scale suburban shopping center. For our evening entertainment, we went to Four Day Weekend Comedy Show. I love a good IMPROV show, and this one surpassed all expectations. The way this show works is the audience writes sentences or phrases on a piece of paper and place it on a board near the stage before the show starts. During the show they randomly pick off words/phrases and use them in their skits. It’s too much to handle. We were roaring.

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Well, we gave it our best effort

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We wrapped up the night by sight-seeing the rest of sparkling Downtown, sitting at a patio and enjoying the warm breeze while sipping on some light beverages, and debating wayy too long about what type of bush was planted next to our table. We then headed off to the Grand Canyon in the morning! More to come on that adventure!

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Wishing you the opportunity to try a bacon wrapped crab stuffed jalapeño,

xo <3

Mack