Crazy Eats & Crazy Conversations!

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

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

These trees!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long overdue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We hiked….

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and we hiked….

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and we hiked some more…

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Annnnnd then I realized we were lost.

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

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

“Oh good!! No dead bodies!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you all are having a beautiful week so far!

xo <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

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

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

“That’s Okay, I make Lamb”

Happy Monday to you!! The past couple weeks are kind of a blur. DJ and I are deep into the routine of early alarms (him more than myself- I end up snoozing for two extra hours honestly), studying all day long, and then studying late into the night. DJ is doing exceptionally well and staying motivated, but I can tell that law school is as stressful as it’s hyped up to be. It makes dinner time and our Friday Date nights an anticipated reprieve that come and go far too quickly each week. I remember in nursing school the month of September and early October always seemed extra overwhelming. I think it’s due to the fact that you haven’t quite done enough to feel accomplished or secure in your endeavors, and yet you are drained. The next “break”- fall break- is still a month away, and the holidays seem like an intangible event that is more of a nice idea than a future reality. I speculate this is the phase DJ is currently experiencing : burned out, stressed out, and bummed out. What got me through that time? Candy corn, but DJ doesn’t like candy corn, so I’m at a loss on how to help him. After mid-terms, which will be here in about a week, if my diagnosis is correct, he should turn the corner and get a second wind as there will be a huge something he has accomplished. Many times accomplishments can give us that second wind to keep pushing forward. I always feel this way, even just on day-to-day things. If I have a to-do list ten pages long, which all too often is the case, I feel exhausted before even beginning. It’s like a defense mechanism- “No don’t deal with all that, just go to sleep!”. But once things are all completed, I get a burst of energy.

Anyway, there has not been too much going on besides this “Git r’ done, get up and grind” life. However, I have cooked up a few meals I’d love to share, and we visited some fun places to eat too. Naturally this post is just going to be littered with food pictures, because really, which of my posts aren’t?

After Rachel and Amy left, we still had some ingredients leftover to make more pizzas. Homemade flat-out pizzas are one of my favorite treats. They are healthy and versatile, and each person can easily make their own. They are also a blast to make. I always like making a mediterranean one with shrimp, vegan daiya mozzarella cheese, pesto, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and caramelized onions and mushrooms. I also like to make a pineapple one- check out the Marco Island post to see a picture of that 🙂 DJ likes a more basic pizza with crumbled sausage (I used Boca because we ran out of regular- he couldn’t tell the difference 😉 ), mozzarella cheese, oregano, sun-dried and fresh tomatoes.

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We had our headboard delivered last week for our bed, which we had waited four weeks for. I was so excited because that meant I could finally hang the canvas I got for above the bed and start with more decorating. No such luck, Chuck. After the delivery men set it up, I walk in to see it and the actual headboard is a different color entirely than the base. They said it was a manufacturing error, so now we have another good four weeks to wait for the replacement. Oh well, we aren’t in a rush, but it definitely was a “are you kidding me?” type mistake (after we have had countless other issues with this store). All in all, it looks so funny. I can’t help but laugh at it. I will have to post a picture of it soon.

Our Friday night date night (9/9) consisted of Oren’s Hummus shop on Main Street Cupertino. I have been eagerly awaiting the opening of this place. It serves Israeli food, and I have heard from several people that the food is fantastic. Oh… It is.

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Can we talk about this chandelier for quick tic?! Love, love loveeee.

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They start the meal with complimentary coleslaw. If you know me, you know I LOVEEEEEEE coleslaw. This place hardcore won brownie points for giving it out at the beginning of the meal for free. It was super good coleslaw too- not too drenched in the sauce, crunchy veggies, all the flavour. (Flavour with the u- you know it’s good).

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They are called Oren’s HUMMUS shop for a reason. Their hummus is the BOMB. The BEST hummus I have ever had besides my mama’s homemade of course 😉 Sorry Sabra, I think I’m leaving you in the dust.

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I ordered the vegetable skewer with falafel and babaganoush. Baba is similar to hummus, but it is made with a smoked eggplant base. I can never decide if I like Baba or hummus better. I like saying babaganoush more, so maybe that makes me bias toward it.

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DJ ordered the Shakshuka. This had organic eggs, poached over easy in a spiced tomato sauce. Their wheat pita served with this is bursting with flavor. It was served fresh and warm and need I say more?

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Their motto is “Rip, Scoop, Eat”. Their motto happens to be my life motto. If there is ever any chance to dip something with bread, pita, naan, etc., I am alllll over that. At the end of any meal if there is sauce on the plate, you bet I’m getting it with a piece of bread. DJ always laughed at me when we first started dating about this habit, but he does it too now so I must have had it right 😉 I always make sure I save a piece from the starter bread basket to use at the end. When DJ got his meal he said, “How am I supposed to eat this?!” I looked at him, and said- “you’ve gotta rip, scoop, eat- DUH”. And then he rolled his eyes at my not-funny, but I think I’m funny, remark.

Saturday we actually did double-dipping nights out. Granted, after Oren’s we studied the rest of the night. DJ and I met one of his law school friend’s at Orchard City Kitchen in Campbell. He is super familiar with the area and knows all the good stops. I have never been anywhere like this before, and I certainly intend to go back. All their dishes are meant to be shared and the plates, while considered “small plates” are pretty decent sizes to split. Put your seatbelt on, or loosen your belt, one or the other, because we went all out for this meal! I wasn’t planning on taking pictures, but DJ’s friend said he was going to snap a few, and I probably got a little too excited that he shared in the food photography fettish. I know it’s ridiculous, and I’m okay with it.

We started with the shaved radishes. These radishes with fried goat cheese, pink pearl apples, serpent cucumbers, sunflowers, lemon vin, and herbs. Guuuuuys, this was so good. Plus it was maybe the most beautiful thing I’ve ever ate.

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Next we tried the legumes. This included sprouted lentils, butter beans, haricot vert, limas, charred avocado, peanuts, cardamon cream, and lemon. So far the meal has BEAN delicious.

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Deej was especially itching to try the Triple B. This consisted of biscuits, bacon, and honey butter. I didn’t have the bacon, but DJ said it was insanely good. It smelled like it too. I can attest that the rolls and butter were out of this world.

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Next we tried the grilled quail with carrot-anise puree, pickled onions, alium ash, and pistachio crumble. I had never had quail (besides the quail eggs from eat-drink San Fran, and felt I couldn’t miss the opportunity. I haven’t had meat in a long time and I took the tiniest nibble. I can see how others would like it, but I just have no appetite for meat since I gave it up. BUT if you do, which most people do, I bet ya would like this. The puree and all that razzle-dazzle was super delicious too.

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Moving onto the bigeye Tuna Crudo. CRUDOS to you Orchard City Kitchen- (too much?). This was fantastic. It included watermelon (yellow watermelon, mind you), scallions, edamame, radish, daikon sprouts, and soy tahini. It was simply delicious. It is the kind of dish I think I could probably recreate at home too, unlike most of the dishes of the night. The red/pink pieces on the dish are the fish and the yellow is the watermelon. Trippy, right?!

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We also ordered the crab and corn dumplings. The words DUNGENESS CRAB tend to just pop off the page to me and DJ, and so inevitably we had to get that dish too. It would be wrong if we didn’t. It came with corn broth, parm, serrano chile, and cilantro, and maybe some magic because it tasted like it? Also I was too entranced that I forgot to take a picture of that one.

Last, but not least, certainly not least, was the roasted bone marrow radiator with gremolata, toasted bread crumbs, shiitake, pancetta, and parm. Once again, certainly not vegetarian, but it was bone marrow. I had to try it. When else am I going to have bone marrow? Truly one of the greatest things ever. They actually carve the bone marrow right out of the bone into the pasta. I know, I know, sounds a bit unsettling, but it is amazing. Here is my grainy picture trying to get him in the process of carving out the marrow.

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It was super rich, but super delicious. One bite satisfied me and the flavor delicately lingered.

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Throughout the week I whipped up a few staple meals. I was craving my big-ole’ salads. In college people would look at my wide-eyed when they saw the size of my salads in the cafeteria. Look, I like garden salads, and sometimes I put the entire garden in my salads. I love adding chik’n, morningstar burgers, grilled tofu, shrimp, or salmon to them with some guacamole and roasted edamame seeds; depends on my mood, which changes daily hourly, so who knows what the little red bowl will contain by the end of the food prep. **Side note: I have an emotional attachment to the red bowl below, it is my deemed salad bowl. I have a green one at my mom’s house- right mom? They are meant to be used for larger side dishes or even main dishes, but heck, I can’t use some little normal bowl for these monstrous rabbit dinners.

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I haven’t made spaghetti since we have been married. Yes, I realize it is like a staple newlywed meal. I had some angel hair pasta sitting in the cupboard and kind of wanted to get rid of it, so DJ happily obliged to eating a normal meal. I did add turkey meatballs for him… and sundried tomatoes, and maybe a little oregano and italian seasoning, and crumbled parmesan, but I did my best to keep it “normal”. L-O-L. img_0472

Ya’ll know how I try to make one thing from my cooking magazines, once a week? Well this week I present to you blue cheese, basil, lambburgers. I mainly wanted to make lambburgers, just to say lambburgers. It also seemed like a good cooking challenge. I have a long way to go in the meat-cooking department. Oh, I also wanted to be able to quote this the whole time I made them…

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I loved making rosemary fingerling potatoes from my Blue Apron trial, and thought they would be a perfect accompaniment to this meal. The topping for the lambburger is a basil, mayo, and blue cheese dressing. This whole meal was surprisingly easy, and we had leftovers for days- which allows me to get innovative. I loved caramelizing the onions because it makes the kitchen smell incredible, and may have snatched a few myself in the process 😉

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DJ enjoyed the meal even though he isn’t the biggest blue cheese fan. The basil and blue cheese were perfect compliments. Who woulda thought? I tried the cheesy concoction just to make sure it was edible- and it was delicious! I had my salad above round two and some of the fingerling potatoes.

With the leftovers I made zucchini boats. I improvised by adding caramelized onions and mushrooms, and roasted the blue cheese mixture in the oven with the lamb crumbles. I made some garlic bread on the side. DJ said he liked this better than the original burgers even. I can post a recipe for that soon (soon is a relative term).

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For my studying throughout the week I tried different coffee shops to get a change of scenery. My favorite place is Peet’s Coffee and Tea. I’m actually currently sitting at one. Their coffee is amazing, and they aren’t terribly overpriced, plus they are playing Smokey Robinson so it’s a good day. One of my friends works at one in Santa Clara and I went to visit her one day. I, naturally, went to the wrong one, and it’s kind of uncomfortable saying “Just kidding- going to another Pete’s!” to the cashier when I realized she didn’t work there. She worked at the one 4 miles south down the road. 😂  Ahh, only in Cali. I also tried Philz, but it was hard to get much done there. It was a bit chaotic and loud. But they had the most profound sign hanging in their bathroom…

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Thursday night I went for a hike with my hiking group. The moon was INSANE. Any one see the harvest moon? We ended up doing our hike later than usual and the sun is setting earlier. I could tell my group leader was a bit on edge, eager to get back. She divulged to me (at the end of our hike) that she heard someone had been attacked by a mountain lion on that trail, so she was ancy to get back before it was too dark. The views were so worth it. I can’t wait to do this trail again.

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On one of my walks to a coffee shop I saw this little cute box that is a place to leave your leftover food. How cool is this? I was too excited to not take a picture, although the cars passing probably were confused. But especially when leaving for trips and what-not, if there are any food items that might go bad I’d love to know they are not going to be wasted. I need to do more research into how this works exactly. I also need to make sure that’s what this is actually for, and it’s not just a “go green” campaign on some large appliance. AWKWARD if that’s all it is. Oh gosh it probably is. 🙈Hahaha.

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The trees are just beautiful and I had to share.

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DJ played basketball with some guys after school Friday afternoon. I was so glad he could take the break and do something where he felt in his element. For our Friday date night this past friday (9/16), we were both craving sushi (or snoooshi as we call it). I found a Groupon for a place in cupertino we have had our eye on. We rubbed the study daze out of our eyes and spent a quick hour out on the town. The place was pretty tucked away, but super eclectic, played some of the best music, and served some yummy rolls.

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Seaweed salad is a must. This is one of my favorite sushi accompaniments. My aunt loves seaweed salad too, and she tried to make it at home one time. She bought legit raw seaweed-like the algae kind. She said she ended up throwing it right back where it came from (they live on the water). I laughed so hard when she told me this story and I saw the picture of her attempted “seaweed salad”.

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Saturday DJ tucked himself away in the library at school. Main Street Cupertino was having their grand opening (Although we have basically tried everything already *hair flip*). I decided to check it out for a study break in the afternoon. They had all kinds of fun stuff going down like the opportunity to throw a football with Jerry Rice, a giant raffle, locals doing karate and such, and all the food vendors out giving out samples. It was open to the general public too. The lines were nuts, but it was a nice break to be out in the sunshine and among people.

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Back to studying with a third cup of coffee for the day.

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Last night I could tell it was a much-needed cookie night. Nothing some cookies can’t solve.

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The two of us just studied away all day after church.  I have been listening to a podcast called Serial while I long-hand my notes. Anyone heard of it? I am addicted. DJ’s friend we had dinner with the other night actually told us about it. It currently has two law cases that are subject to much speculation and uncertainty about the discretion of the law. I flew through the first case and am now listening to the second. He also suggested watching the documentary The Jinx. I watched through that too while writing out my labs, meds, etc.  I am dying to converse about them, so if anyone has seen them, please let’s chat. I have so many questions and opinions.

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I use a little syringe highlighter that my mother-in-law gave me as a graduation present. I love them!!

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Representing the Orioles today. GO O’s!!!!!

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Wishing you a Monday that has been anything but Mundane,

xo <3

Mack

 

In the Best City with the Best Friend- Part One

This post is going to be emotional to write because I know it will make me miss my dear friend, Rachel, more than I already do!

A little back story: We have been friends since sixth grade. The way it happened was certainly a funny series of events. First, I moved to her school that year and noticed a cute boy. I had no idea that he was dating Rachel and through the grapevine he heard that the “new girl” liked him. He broke up with Rachel to “date” me (“Going out” with someone in 6th grade means you bashfully smile at each other in the hallway and write their name on your notebook without any actual meaningful interaction). Also let’s take a moment to laugh at how many quote-on-quotes are necessary for middle school romances. Well, when I heard that I was a home-wrecker I told him I didn’t want to date anymore. Hence, my first relationship lasted a total of two days. During this time, Rachel and I shared a mutual friend. She told me that there was no way Rachel would ever like me. “Once Rachel decides she doesn’t like someone, there is no going back from that,” she said. I was determined to make a mends. And gosh darn it, look at where we are today! Thanks for letting that go, Rach ;). We have thanked that boy for helping spark such a great friendship. Fun fact: She actually just went to his wedding a few weeks ago! Look how full circle we all have come.

Fast forward to today: Rach just recently passed her Child Life Specialist exam and officially has a big girl job!!! When she called me with the exciting news we both said how badly we wished we could have sushi together to celebrate (Sushi is our spirit animal). The next day she sent me a screenshot of flight dates she could fly out here (from Ohio to California). I thought she was kidding at first- but no she booked that glorious flight! So the day after my mom left I was driving to the airport to pick up Rach so we could actually have sushi together in real life. We also said we are celebrating our “11th friendiversary” 🙂 She arrived last Monday- August 29th, and the week that followed was one of my favorites.

Monday

This was a super chill day since she came in the afternoon. We went to the grocery store to stock up on food for the week. Then I showed her around Main Street Cupertino and then walked down Stevens Creek to show her the main shops and restaurants. We stopped into the bakery I mentioned in my last post, and saw “white fungus with dates” among their items. Do you ever have one of those moments where you feel like you “dare” yourself to do something? Like you feel a strange compulsion to try it even if you truly don’t want to? Maybe for some it’s riding a roller coaster, walking on hot coals, or skydiving. I tend to get it in more of a fear-factor-food form. I bought the darn fungus, and Rach and I sat at my counter in my apartment while I tried the mysterious floating wonder. (Is this the weirdest anecdote ever, or what?!). It surprisingly was not that bad! It reminded me of one of those dole fruit cups that we use to all pack when we were in grade school. Probably will never get it again- but truly not bad. For dinner we naturally went to KULA!!! Sushi time! This would not be the last trip there for the week 😉

Tuesday

Tuesday was a blast, well I guess everyday was, but I’ve got two words for ya- SANTA CRUZ. I am getting a bit ahead of myself because first we went on a hike in Saratoga. So we will start with these two words- HIKING TIME!

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It was a perfect way to start the day. We were able to bypass the rush-hour traffic and leave a little later in the day. We kept saying how unbelievably smooth the week was with driving! We hardly had any traffic. We were a couple of beach bums and the two of us love to read so we devoured books and our packed snacks on the beach all day.

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Around four we were pretty hungry for something besides the “munchie” food we packed, but didn’t want to spend top dollar for the food on the pier. We decided to get a couple happy hour appetizers to tide us over at Stagnaro Bros. I have now ate at three places on the pier and this was by far, hands-down, no questions asked THE BEST.

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First we split the Blackened Sliced Ahi over mixed greens with a creamy wasabi dressing. We easily could have ate the whole thing, but we wanted to leave room for a place we had in mind for dinner. This “appetizer” definitely provided us yummy leftovers for lunch the next day!

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We also tried Chili Lime Prawn Tacos. These are prawns sautéed in a chili lime and cilantro sauce, topped with pickled cabbage and Mozzarella cheese. I PRAWNISE, these were delicious 😉 #prawnpun

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We would like to introduce you to our dear friend, Buffy. Buffy was our pal that sat next to us for most of the meal and he was quite the spit-fire. If another seagull even thought about sitting on his pier, he squawked them away with the ferocity of a lion. Don’t mess with Buffy, boys and girls.

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We had about an hour drive home and leisurely took our time to get ready for dinner. We walked to Arya, a Persian restaurant in Cupertino. Guys- this is truly probably my favorite I have tried since being in Cupertino. I know I always say that, but the flavors were overwhelmingly delicious. Like each bite I savored so carefully, I didn’t want it to end! The best part was we had a Groupon for it as well, so we got a great deal for a fantastic meal. We also ate outside on their quaint patio. We got to watch the most gorgeous sunset with our scrumptious array of Persian cuisine.

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I had the veggie tower for my meal. It was mushroom, spinach, eggplant, tomato, and rice in a saffron yogurt sauce. I WANT THE RECIPE. The saffron yogurt sauce was absolute perfection. I crave this meal.

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Rach ordered shrimp scampi. It came in a lemon caper sauce and easily the best shrimp scampi I have ever tried! I definitely stole a few bites.

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So you may be wondering- what about our poor Deej?! Well- you know how I love trying these different food delivery services since they usually have a deal as first users? The newest one we found is called Munchery. Munchery is different from Blue Apron and Green Chef because you do absolutely no preparation. It is almost like a restaurant on wheels. You see what is cooking in “their kitchen” online, and they deliver it to your door at the time that you clarify. So we chose DJ’s meals for the week and so they would be delivered for him right when he got home from school. The best part was there was a giant discount for being a first time user. We have held out trying it for a busy week since you only get the discount once, and this week was the perfect one to try it out! DJ loved all the meals.

Wednesday

Wednesday was deemed San Francisco day! We went into full on tourist mode and did everything. Rach has never been to SanFran so I was determined to make sure she got the full experience. First we went to the painted ladies homes. As a couple of typical 90s children, we were in absolute heaven standing in front of those homes. Currently have the song running through my head- “Everywhere you look (everywhere you go) There’s a heart (there’s a heart) a hand to hold onto!”. Okay- I’m getting far too nostalgic about this.

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We found a good parking spot and walked the pier toward one of the highlights of the entire week. Rach wanted to make sure to do a wine tasting while she was out here (because it’s basically a must if you come to wine country), and what better way to do it than on a boat that goes under the Golden Gate, close to the Bay Bridge, and around Alcatraz?! We were shocked at how little it cost for how intimate the setting was and how absolutely wonderful the experience was.

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They had all kinds of delicious cheeses, grapes, crackers, bread, and chocolate. Truly ANYTHING you could want to enhance the different tannins. Lolz, I’m pretending to wine speak. Not sure that even made sense?

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One of our favorite parts of the wine tour was the people we met. We conversed with all kinds of people from all over the US. We met a mother and daughter who were traveling cross country, a few friendly couples of all ages, and an absolutely jovial staff. It was the sweetest group of people.

After, we still agreed we had to actually go to the Golden Gate even thought we did go under it. Rachel kept saying, “It’s just water under the bridge!” cracking herself up. 😉

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Ya’ll know how I love my puns- I call the one above a “Bridge next to a bridge”.

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We did a quick jump over to Lombard Street. The famous windiest road in the world!

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Naturally we had to pop into Ghiradelli square! Our Uber driver was one of the most fascinating people we have ever met. He is traveling the world with his son and takes him out of school every year a few months before it is technically over to go to a new destination for several months. I didn’t even know that was legal?! Their next stop is Tawaiian.

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After exploring Ghiradelli square we walked to Fisherman’s Wharf and PIER 39. We just walked around, and I had to stop in to one of the candy shops to get salt water taffy. I was craving it a lemon meringue piece. Rach actually introduced me to the yummy land of lemon flavored desserts a few years back. She had a lemon bundt cake at her 18th birthday and from that point on I was (and still am) obsessed with all things lemon. My mother-in-law brought me the BEST lemon curd cake in the whole world from a local bakery in Ohio for my birthdays while I was in college! <3 Thanks again for all those, mom! Best part of my birthday fo real dough. Anyway, I digress. But the taffy was spot on.

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Rach is a lefty. This picture was essential!

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We once again were pretty hungry, but we didn’t want to spend the pier prices for dinner. We decided to once again split some appetizers, but in reality they ended up being our dinner. The portions were huge- and delicious! We both love clam chowder and rumor had it that Fog Harbor Fish House had the best around. It did not disappoint! If you are ever on the pier, please do yourself a favor and get you some of it (in a bread bowl, of course).

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We also had the steamed clams. These were clams with roasted peppers, corn and chorizo butter served with garlic toast.

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Later that night we scrounged up our leftovers from the last couple days and had a late night smorgasbord. We set up our TV out on the balcony, grabbed a few blankets and watched Gabrielle Iglesias the comedian. Anyone ever seen him?! He is HILARIOUS. He is pretty clean for the most part too which is hard to come by. It was super refreshing sitting out in the late night cool air and I wondered why I don’t do that more often!

I am going to make a separate post for the rest of the week. Currently have to go set up a lamp, run to the store, and hang up some more pictures!

Wishing you a golden afternoon,

xo <3

Mack

Family, Friends, and Food: A Recipe for a Perfect Weekend

Wow! I have taken quite the hiatus from blogging the last couple weeks and it simply is because I have been busy making some incredible memories <3. Sometimes when such wonderful events occur I feel like I can’t get them written down fast enough. I’m afraid they will leave me if I don’t record the small details. It’s the small details that seem to sneak out of the memory the quickest, but also the small details that make each memory personal and unique. Hence, I want to make every effort to hang onto them.

My mom came on Friday August 26th. DJ and I picked her up from the San Francisco airport and headed straight into the city! As I mentioned in my last San Francisco post, I spent time with my dear friend, Annie, who lived with us in high school. My mom was an eager beaver to see her. Friday night we had tickets to Eat/Drink SanFran (get ready for picture overload!). It started at 7:30 pm, which is an awkward time for “dinner”, so we decided to lightly graze at the Slanted Door to tide us over. Yes, “lightly” is a subjective term. Naturally while waiting for a table we had to do a photo shoot…

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What is this “Slanted Door” you ask? It is a modern Vietnamese fusion restaurant experience that guarantees to take your taste buds on an adventure like never before. No, they did not ask me to promote them, but while I’m waiting for my nursing license to get approved maybe I could work for their marketing department? Hehe.

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First up on the menu for the evening was Vegetarian Spring Rolls. But, oh, they are not just your typical vegetarian spring rolls (which are fantastic in themselves); these are the BEST. They contain tofu, shiitake, cabbage, mint, and a peanut sauce that will blow your mind. Would you judge me if I just drank it? Right out of the bowl? Would you judge me if I told you I’m not kidding?!

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Next up on the menu was the vegetarian Banh bot loc- aka mung bean tapioca dumplings, scallion oil, and thai chile soy sauce.

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BRB, need to get a napkin for the puddle of drool I have on my laptop after thinking about them…

Next on the list was Crispy Imperial Rolls. These included gulf shrimp, pork shoulder, vermicelli noodles, and roasted peanut. The meat eaters at the table gobbled them up like it was their last supper. You use the lettuce leaves to make a wrap with the crispy rolls and noodles and then dip in the sauce. It took us a moment to figure that one out 😉

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Last, these barbecued willis ranch pork spareribs were the fan-fave. I didn’t try them, but they smelled heavenly and in the time they left the plate I could tell they were darn tasty!

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They even gave us some hot washcloths for the ribs (or was it for the beverage spill? whoopsies!) Now- that’s some service! img_9423

After this “appetizer” (aka first dinner), we decided to walk to the venue and take our time sight seeing the bay. This never gets old for me, even if it was my third weekend in a row there!

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Below is a picture from “Off the Grid”. This was taking place the same night as Eat/Drink SanFran and definitely something I will want to do in the future! It is a gathering of a bunch of food trucks from the area with music and a big carnival feel!

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The building on the right at Fort Mason is where Eat/Drink took place.

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I was so glad DJ decided to take a break from studying to have a night out for some fun. He works so hard every. single. day.

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Walking up to the doors I felt like a giddy child again. I feel like those “giddy” feelings bubble up less and less the older you grow, but when they do sneak up on ya, you know you are doing life right.

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Just a little overview about Eat/Drink SF: It is organized by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and represents the best of the Bay Area’s  cuisine. It goes on for four days at the Fort Mason pavilion (Thursday to Sunday). You pay a flat fee for one of the days (we did Friday) and then have unlimited access to over 36 food vendors and over 70 beer, wine, and spirits makers once in the building. They also have a VIP option as well. I am not sure exactly what that entails, but you do get early access to the building and more exclusive options. Here is the formal description of the whole event:

“Enjoy unlimited pours of wine, beer, and cocktails and tastes from the Bay Area’s top restaurants. Mingle with the personalities that make this a world-class dining destination. Watch cooking demonstrations and learn in classes taught by renown tastemakers”

We did not sit in any classes this time because we were too busy eating, duh. We agreed we would make this an annual thing and next time partake in one of the classes.

When you enter, you receive a glass that you keep with you throughout the entire tasting.

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Every venue has a unique set up that quickly allows the consumer to know what their cuisine is all about! There were corn hole games set up near the Straus Family Creamery Ice Cream and Super Duper Burger stand. It felt like you were at a barbecue, but then two steps over you entered an Italian oasis with Pizza Antica. It was intoxicating (no pun intended).

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The Morning Star pizza was one of my favorite flavors of the night. It was a vegan barbecue pizza and they even handed out recipe cards to make it at home. I will be making it- no doubt!

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The Glenlivet Dram Room was a hard liquor tasting room. None of us were interested in actually trying any of the liquor, but the room itself was really neat!

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Here you could sniff different scents that were used in the production of their products. I loved that!

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They certainly had some unique food to try- and you know I was all about that! For example, I have heard quail eggs are tasty but never have actually had the chance to try one. It was- all together now…- AMAZING!.

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Hehe- got to love the candids.

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The displays were truly enticing. It was exciting to be feet away from such incredible talent as well.

For example, below is Emporio Rulli with Gary Rulli. The dessert I have posted was one of the greatest desserts I have ever tried. The three of us were drowning in all good things sugar. It was a pistachio creme brulee. I am not a huge creme brulee fan, so I probably would have never ordered this on a menu. However, if when I go to Emporio Rulli, this is a MUST.

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The smoked salmon mousse above was one of my favorite things of the evening. It was tediously intricate the way they made them too- Each one was given the utmost attention. I have never seen an appetizer so doted over!

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One of the strangest tries of the night was foie gras ice cream. I know this is probably not vegetarian, but hey, when you are somewhere like this go big or go home. This was from Hudson Valley Foie Gras. We have tried foie gras in the past and weren’t particularly blown away. However, this foie gras ice cream was surprisingly delicious. If you like salty and sweet combos, this little treat had the pair perfected! Unfortunately, I have no picture of this little nibble!

After we walked rolled home, we slept soundly with dreams of all SanFran food. My recommendations based on the evening:

Everything was absolutely fantastic, but those are just some of our favorites.

The next day my mama and I had some homemade parfaits with dried apple chips out on the balcony. We love sitting out there in the fresh cool morning air and enjoying our hot coffee and reading our Bibles.

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We then did the big walk to the store to pick up some necessities for the day. We stopped by a chinese bakery on the way back and saw the most interesting “sweets”. Chinese dessert is not knowing for being super sweet, but they certainly are creative!

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We jump started the next part of the day with an insanity workout, and I was impressed by this tough little cookie! She killed it. I was so proud. She has been working hard over the last few months to get into shape and it is showing.

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During the day we had one task: Hang up some living room curtains. I saved this task for my mom because I honestly do not have the first clue on how to hang rods, use a drill, etc. My mom is a pro at all this and even makes her own curtains. Well we ran into a little hiccup with where the studs were in the wall. Long story short we had a very frustrating afternoon and could not figure the darn thing out. After covering up the gaping nail holes we decided we needed a break and met DJ for sushi. He studied the entire day in the library and suggested a sushi place he went to with a friend. He claimed it was the best sushi he has ever had (which says a lot considering the sushi in Bora Bora was out of this world). It lived up to the hype. Oh shoot, now I’m craving it again.

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We headed back to the house and decided that we would give the curtains one more go of it. We found a little loop behind the paneling and were able to use canvas wire to hang the pole. We did it! Despite how frustrating the project was, it felt awesome to conquer it.

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We topped off the night with a visit to Cupervino. Cupervino is located super close to our apartment and I have wanted to give it a go ever since we moved here. The atmosphere is fantastic. We decided to split a wine flight and a glass. The pours were supposed to be three-oz. flights. I am doubtful that this was accurate. These were full on glasses.

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In the morning we headed to church. Gosh, I was so ecstatic for my mom to meet all the new incredible friends of ours and experience the most authentic worship. She loved it!

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After church we went to Santana Row while DJ went to study land 🙁 He is doing so well, but never stops studying.

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We walked around the row and stopped by a cute little band of youngsters playing in the square. It was adorable! They were probably in their early teens and the girl had a beautiful voice.

For brunch we stopped at left bank . The craziest thing was it hit my mom that the last time she was in the area this was the restaurant she went to with a friend. Kind ironic considering just how many restaurants there are in the area!

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We tried the salmon hash with red onions, tomatoes, parsley, yukon gold potatoes, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauced. We paired it with a delectable goat cheese salad. It was THE quintessential brunch.

After walking around Santana Row for a while, we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous day (Oh wait- everyday is gorgeous here?!), and go for a hike. This was the Tony Look trail that opens up into Fremont Older Nature preserve.

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This was one of our favorite parts of the whole weekend. Such great conversation is sparked during hikes, and we had seven miles to just chat. It was so nice to enjoy the views and talk about life.

For dinner we whipped up some green chef meals! Green Chef is just like Blue Apron! We had two meals left from the first package (I made the first meal in my last post 😉 ). It was a blast cooking together and DJ came home just in time to enjoy the meal with us. My mom and I shared the Tuna Burger and DJ had the Steak over orzo. We left out the walnuts and walnut pesto and just used regular pesto because DJ is allergic. I probably should have looked closer at that before ordering it! There have been several times in the past where I have almost accidentally “poisoned” DJ as he calls it. Exhibit A is posted below: I packed a trailmix in his lunch that had walnuts. Big WHOOPS.

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Sadly, my momma had to say goodbye Sunday night. But we were all so thankful for the time we had. It worked out that she was taking a red-eye that Sunday so we had the whole day to enjoy!

I have about a week of additional blogging to do that I will be working on the next couple days! There is a TON of fun stuff that went down while my best friend was in town, so stay tuned!!!! I hope you all had a wonderful and restful labor day weekend.

Wishing you a wonderful week,

xo <3

Mack

Serious about Sushi

Hey ya’ll. Welcome to the weekly Cali recap. Not too much has gone on this week besides making more trips to multiple stores, trying to figure out the furniture situation in our home, and, naturally, sampling new food places. I am still waiting approval to take my nursing boards, and DJ starts orientation next week. This allows us a good chunk of time to get settled before the craziness ensues. Wednesday we hit up Santana Row for lunch because we had some errands to run in the area. This is an upscale shopping area with tons of restaurants and an energetic, cutting edge feel. They feature unique stops as well as several chains (the mandatory Starbucks, LB steak, and Maggiano’s).

IMG_7543Our personal favorite is the Village California Bistro. One time we stopped there for breakfast before we moved to the area during our time of scoping out where to live. DJ ordered the most incredible crab cake benedict. I don’t remember what I ordered because I was so fixated on sneaking bites of his food when he wasn’t looking. This time around we went for “late lunch bites” around three. We both hadn’t had lunch, but didn’t want to spoil our appetite for the big dinner we had planned 😉 We sampled the lobster ceviche and shrimp louie. This meal was nothing short of FRESH. I think it was the best avocado and iceburg lettuce I have ever tasted. The ceviche was the perfect refreshing treat on a hot day with the mango and umami essence of the lobster.

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After finishing up our errands of the day and exercising, we geared up for an epic dinner experience: KULA Sushi.

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Since we have moved here, every time we pass this sushi place it is packed. ANY time of day there are at least twenty people waiting outside the restaurant to get in. Considering there are a million sushi destinations around here, we were wondering what the commotion was about. We get it now! First you walk up and put your name in their outdoor system. They give you a number and also send you a text when you are close to being called. Our wait time was eighty-two minutes. In that waiting time I assembled a lamp that I ended up returning. #productive. By the time we came back the wait was up to two hours if that tells you anything… This sushi bar, is not just any sushi bar, it is a revolving one (Yes, mom, we will go when you visit 😉 ). It has a conveyor belt that passes your table and you literally just choose whatever you want off the belt. The dishes are protected with a bubbled cover to keep the whole system sanitary and what-not. You simply press up on the dish and it pops out of the bubble when you want to try it. They have endless options of high grade “fresh, natural, and organic” sushi (per their advertisements). They have all the rolls one could desire, as well as nigiri, grilled items, side dishes, tempura, noodles, hand rolls, gunkan maki, and dessert!

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The best part is each dish is only $2.25, and generous servings for that price! If you do not see what you want passing through you press it on the screen, and it is sent through a zippy delivery system above straight to your seat. Welcome to the twenty-first century, ya’ll. Once you are done with a plate you put it in the “plate disposal” and it counts the number of plates disposed to keep track of your bill. Every five plates you dispose, a cartoon pops up on your screen and plays for you. It’s in Chinese, so I am pretty (totally) clueless what it says, but it’s entertaining nevertheless. If you manage to down 15 dishes, a little toy circles down into a slot next to the screen for you. Rumors have it that there are Hello-Kitty keychains in there, boys and girls. We were short by about three dishes (you can share a plate slot if you are paying together).

Here are a few of our most interesting samplings:

  • Salmon Roe: AKA Salmon Eggs. Conclusion: Not too much flavor, not offensive, probably will never order again.

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  • Tamago: Type of japanese omelette with an egg base. Conclusion: DELICIOUS. DJ was not as fond as I was, but I thought it had the sweetest, lightest taste and texture.

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  • Spider Roll: Your not-so-standard sushi roll with battered softshell crab tempura that claws out like a spider from the inside of the rice. Conclusion: We are addicted. Need.more.spider.roll.

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  • KULA roll. Conclusion: An explosion of all good things sushi in my mouth

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  • Negitoro (pink) and Masago (Capelin’s Egg). Tuna belly and fish eggs. Conclusion for Negitoro: One of the most scrumptious seaweed wrapped delectables I tried; may I have another? Conclusion for Masago: Fish eggs…

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  • Eel Hand Roll: Description: eel, avocado, rice and a special sauce wrapped in a flaky seaweed wrap. Conclusion: I have seen the light!

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For dessert we finished up with Japanese Donuts. I should have snapped a shot, but we were too eager to dig in. They serve about three of these little guys with vanilla ice cream and a carmel drizzle. DJ and I were thoroughly impressed.

Needless to say we loved Kula. So much that we made the decision to go back the next night. I justified this saying we had coupons! Well when we went to pay, I was all excited to get our 25% off, and the waitress pointed out the coupon is for another sushi place called “Kiku’s”. Guys, I was one of those obnoxious, brainless customers that looked like I was trying to scam the place. I felt so silly! Either way we got our sushi round-two and it was amazing. The second night we branched out and tried the Shrimp Tempura Udon. If you are unsure about the whole sushi, raw fish thing, this is a great option! (They also have beef options likes umami oil seared beef, wagu beef on rice, orange chicken, crispy chicken, and chicken gyoza dumplings).

DJ and I have a menu we brought home, and our goal is to try every single thing on it over the next four years. Not to brag, but definitely bragging, so far we have made quite the dent.

Wednesday night we finally got to watch our boo JoJo. We used to have viewing parties at our TOHO in Indiana. I miss those days as it was an excuse to bake all day and a respite from chaotic nursing school to spend time with our friends. We made sure to have the beef jerky and cashews for the guys and the wine with chocolate for us ladies. The cookies were a co-ed thing. Here is a pic from one of those bachelor extravaganzas:

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We still enjoy our bachelorette night, just in a simpler fashion.

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Look, I know the show is pretty trashy in and of itself, but you cannot help love this girl! She is just darlin’ I tell ya. The men, ehhh. I don’t know. DJ likes Jordan the best. I have doubted his sincerity for a while, but find myself warming up to him more and more. My favorite was either Luke or Chase, who sadly left. Now I don’t really care. Jordan is gunna win though- it’s pretty obvious. Men Tell All was hilariously ridiculous. I’ll just leave it at that. The best part of the show is just laughing together at the silliness of it all. I can’t act too cynical though, I always find myself in tears at one point or another during the season.

Thursday we were out and about running more errands so I scrounged up a Panera gift card we had for lunch. It was yum,yum,yum. You just can’t go wrong there. I tried their watermelon and feta salad. A lot of people have this habit of salting their watermelon. I think I understand why now! The salty nature of the feta complimented the juicy, light watermelon wonderfully. We also stayed inside most of the day because there was a smog warning out. Never heard of that, but hey, I’ll listen to the pros and stay inside.

Friday was filled with assembling our new dresser (yee-haw no more living out of hampers full of clothes!). Then I couponed the crap out of target (which has this great deal now, where if you buy a certain amount of a good you get a $5 giftcard). I only buy in bulk the things that we will need like toilet paper, paper towel, some cleaning supplies. I racked up about $30 in giftcards total that day, so I was pretty stoked about that!

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This morning (Saturday) Deej got up bright and early to go golfing with our Dad (his side). The apartment is coming together more and more. I cannot wait to share with ya’ll when it is done! But for now I am going to down this candy corn that I found at a Sprouts nearby. Who sells candy corn in July? They do apparently, and I am so bought in.

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Wishing you alotta those^,

xo <3

Mack

The Cherry Capitol- TC, MI!

I am about to blog about one of my favorite places ever, and there is no way I can possibly do it justice, but you bet I will do my best! The first trip DJ and I took after graduation in April was to Traverse City, MI. I have taken a while to blog about this trip which severely throws off the order of events, but that’s okay because I want to make sure that I hit all the highlights and articulate accurately what a wonderful place this destination is.

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I have gone to Traverse City since I was a little girl. From hunting for the coveted Petoskey stones in the unusually cold water to sampling cherries from family friends’ cherry farms to soaking up the fresh michigan air in my lungs as I skied along the  most breathtaking views, my memories of this spectacular place are numerous. My mom is originally from this area, and I am lucky to have my grandparents live on one side of the notorious peninsula and my Aunt and Uncle right across the bay. **FUN FACT: DJ and I actually got engaged at my Aunt and Uncles’ beautiful waterfront home. I will have to share that story sometime ;). When planning our summer, Traverse City was at the top of the list.

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Why not do the most peaceful exercise in the most peaceful place?

The first night we arrived my aunt and uncle prepared us the most fabulous dinner. They are the type of people that seem to just excel at anything and everything they set their minds to. Cooking is no exception. My uncle prepared some of the most delectable salmon we have ever had followed by perfectly cooked veggies from my aunt and an absolutely refreshing salad. We still talk about “Uncle Pat’s Salmon” now. We have been to several restaurants for salmon and said, “Well- still not as good as Uncle Pat’s!”. The next day I was supposed to run the “run michigan cheap” half marathon. I may have forgone that race considering it was 30 degrees, snowing, and at 7 am. I decided to do instead ten miles on the treadmill and watch Flashpoint on Netflix. That show will keep you on the end of your seat (or on the end of the treadmill?). If you have Netflix, I highly recommend it. It made the ten miles fly by. We had a yummy parfait for breakfast and headed out on the town.

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At this point in time I was studying hard for my NCLEX (nursing boards), so DJ and I went to this delicious coffee shop called Aroma’s. It was the BEST almond milk latte I have had in my entire life. Look, I used to be a barista so I know this stuff ;). We studied for a few hours, I think DJ watched some games on his phone (or something sport related- who knows), then went back to get ready for lunch.

This is going to be a food post isn’t it? Yes, very much.

What was for lunch?! Well let me tell you… everything organic you could dream of. My Aunt and Uncle shop at multiple grocery stores and farmers markets to only buy the most organic and clean ingredients. I love staying at their house to eat all their food (…and hanging out with them is a major bonus, hehe). This little booger was the most delicious salad I may have ever had with multicolored carrots, tons of root vegetables, hummus, etc. etc.

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After lunch, I continued to study a bit and then relax. My Aunt and Uncle are super easy-going people; I feel that I can just veg-out and not worry about a thing when I’m in their home. DJ always jokes that I am going to be my Aunt when I’m older; we have very similar personalities, and I take that as quite the compliment. That night they treated us to a wonderful dinner at the restaurant Blu in Glen Arbor. I have never been anywhere like this. It has fine dining cuisine, but the most relaxing environment. You enjoy your meal overlooking the gorgeous water and are surrounded by only about ten other tables. It is the most quaint fine-dining experience I have ever had the privilege of enjoying. The staff was incredibly hospitable and knew many patrons by name. Ohhhh, and the food was insane. The menu isn’t super large, but anything you order will be fantastic. We tried a vast array of blue crab puffs with a sweet chili sauce, escargot with parsley and garlic butter, foie graus in a cherry sauce, and mixed greens with sherry vinaigrette. That’s a lot you say? Well those are just the apps. For our entrees we sampled (meaning devoured in their entirety) the walleye and a trout dish that was cooked to absolute perfection. I can’t give too much away because you just have to make your way there yourself. (HINT: order their flourless chocolate cake and myer’s rum soaked pineapple cake for dessert)! We wined and dined over amazing conversation, nonstop laughter, the most calming views, and exquisite cuisine.

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Are pant-suits back in style yet?

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I thought the pant suit was cute and all until I had to use the restroom. Then I realized what a struggle that would be-trying to unzip that thing! I held it all night, believe it or not…most would not.We all went back home with full stomachs and happy hearts. Nothing beats time with family.  And nothing beats access to the restroom after you have held it for three hours.

The next morning the two chefs went to work and made us huevos rancheros. Uhm, hello, how have I gone my whole life without these?! They made mine with vegan sausage (which tastes no different than regular- I am telling you!). We were stuffed like turkeys on thanksgiving, said our goodbyes, and headed off across the bay to see my grandparents (aka the coolest g-rents that ever lived).

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On our way to the other side of the Peninsula, we stopped at the cutest little winery. I told DJ I had to pop in. It looked like a mom-and-pop shop from the outside. On the inside it was a modern, sleek-looking wine tasting bar- I didn’t see any touristy little giftshop (you know- the ones with the spinning keychain holders that never spell your name right). So at 11 am on a Tuesday we are the only ones standing in this wine cellar. The girl that was working was super friendly, and we got to chatting for a while. I did end up sampling just a few sips of a couple wines because A. I felt weird if we just left without buying anything after chatting for that extended period of time and B. Wine.

Next, we went to the real touristy side of the city in downtown Traverse City. Downtown TC is my type of paradise. It has the cutest bakeries, gift shops, antique shops, unique family owned stores you can imagine. Despite the fact that I have been there a million times it never gets old! I usually spend hours upon hours just gallivanting through the numerous stores- especially Cherry Republic. *CUE DRAMATIC MUSIC*. This little shop is always packed because they offer cherry jams, cherry covered espresso beans, cherry salsa, cherry malted milk balls- need I go on? They allow samplings of many of the items and also offer a diverse menu of food choices. DJ and I ordered some soup to warm up while we were there. We also stopped in a coffee shop called Espresso Bay so I could squeeze in a little studying.

The trip in town would not be complete without visiting the olive oil store, Fustinis. I stocked up on their basil olive oil, 18 year old balsamic vinegar, and espresso balsamic (which is palatable on vanilla ice cream). I have tried my fair share of salad dressings but nothing tops combining some Fustini’s  basil olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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My favorite discovery of the day was the bakery called Morsels. You know how sometimes you just need “a little something sweet”? Well that’s me all the time, and this place does the trick. It has a bunch of different delicious flavored “Morsels” you can choose from. Some of the best included: Brownie points (our personal favorite), Nuts and Berries (the TC award winning favorite), and Seventh Heaven which had graham cracker, coconut, and butterscotch chips. We went back right before we left (to go back to Indiana) and stocked up on a few more for our road trip home.

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I just loved this sign
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After exploring the great down town, we headed over to our Grandma and Grandpa’s for some quality time. We caught up on all the happenings while enjoying one of those home cooked meals only a grandma can whip up. They are two of the coolest individuals I have ever met. They have been together since they were teenagers and have the most incredible stories. As I get older the stories become more and more  fascinating. They also are incredibly sage; I call my Grandma often for advice and just to chat. She is a no-mess-around kind of lady and will give it to you straight coupled with the warmest heart and a generous spirit. My Grandpa is simply the kindest person you will ever meet (and the most hilarious). His famous line to anyone who walks through the doors is, “Me Casa es Su Casa“, and he means it. We are beyond thankful for them and treasure each and every second together.

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The next day DJ and I headed off to one of our all-time favorite locations- The Sleeping Bear Dunes. Our family would always make fun of us for how often we would visit the sandy hills during TC family get-togethers. When you experience the Dunes, you will understand why they are such a big deal!

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The two of us just turn into a couple of big kids when you put us in some sand. We could frolic all day in those parts. The sand dunes have a MASSIVE dune that you can go down and climb back up (the one we are playing on above). It takes about five to seven minutes to get down, but it can be anywhere from a thirty-minute to a two-hour hike back up depending on your condition. The dunes extend for what seems like miles, and there are multiple different starting locations you can go to in order to access the park. One year we did the strenuous four mile hike to Lake Michigan. Make sure to take water and a fresh set of legs if you ever do that one ;). DJ and I went to a couple of the side trails we have never been to before and saw a porcupine up in the tree. I’m not sure where I thought porcupines lived, but I did not expect to see one in Michigan.

On our way home we made a very necessary stop in the downtown area for Kilwin’s ice cream. This is at the top of my ice cream shop list. As soon as I am in the TC area, I begin craving the stuff like a Pavlovian dog. They also serve extraordinary truffles, toffee, fudge, candied apples, and many other goodies. I love sampling all the different fudge places on the strip too. DJ always laughs at me because I get grossly excited when I see a fudge store, but never actually buy any fudge. I think I like the concept of the tremendous amounts of flavors, the smell, and the feel of a fudge store more than the actual fudge. But I always try the samples *Guilty face*.

My grandma and grandpa are big on the traditional cocktail hour. As a kid my grandpa would make me Shirley Cocktails with a little cherry. That was the only time I ever had shirley cocktails (at Grandpa’s), so it was an absolute treat. This night we had an earlier reservation, so we skipped cocktail hour (in very Bachelorette-like fashion, all you bachelorette junkies know what I mean). However, when I was getting ready to go Grandpa knocked on my door and brought me a small glass of wine and big hug. He explained he gives Grandma wine to help her get ready. Those simple, special moments are memories I will treasure.

Wednesday night we went to an amazing restaurant called Apache Trout grill. This is a tourist and locals’ favorite in the TC area, and you best make reservations in advance to grab a table! The entire meal was beyond tasty. I am convinced their smoked whitefish dip was sent straight down from heaven. I was obsessed with the stuff and think it should be mandatory that everyone try it once in their lives. You also cannot go wrong with any of the seafood entrees. However, may I suggest the walleye with the caper beurre blanc sauce. I am a bit caper-crazy, so when I saw that the walleye came with them I jumped on board (or jumped ship- pick your pun). It exceeded my expectations!

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The next day it was time to head home. Though, we did dabble in a fantastic lunch at Poppycocks in TC before! DJ and I ran there along the Peninsula and met up with everyone (Uncle Pat, Aunt Terry, G+G). I ordered the falafel waffle. If that is not only fun to say, it was also super fun to eat! We also said our emotional goodbyes, and left with memories that forever will hold a place in our heart.

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Hope you guys find time in your lives to visit this magical place. Thanks for reading!

Wishing you more falafel waffles than you can handle,

xo <3

Mack