The Last Couple Weeks…

Last night after a 12- hour shift I pulled into our apartment complex, parked the car, took the elevator up to our floor and walked into our home.

“How was it?”

That was all it took. The tears just flowed. And flowed some more.

DJ jumped up from the couch and just held me.

The end of my first week of in-hospital nursing came to a close. With it came feelings of incompetence like none I have ever experienced. Those feelings of inadequacy slowly chipped away at my confidence, as though carving out pieces of my soul. After three shifts, I was broken.

I knew this was coming, mentally. I have heard it from countless other new nurses before. I won’t let that happen, I lied to myself.

Yes, this past week was perhaps one of the most emotionally draining of my life. I knew orientation would be a challenge- but I truly don’t know how I’m going to finish everything by the deadline of April 19th. We have countless skills we have to perform in-hospital, but when caring for patients, it’s hard enough to find a bathroom break, let alone demonstrate how to set up a chest tube, how to clean a tracheostomy, how to insert an NG tube, how to change a CVC dressing, set up a lumbar drain, etc.

On top of that is the physical exhaustion- the 4:30 wake up calls, the intense modules to complete on my “day off”, the desire to keep a home running for DJ and I to live in, including keeping groceries stocked and the laundry done.

But perhaps one of the most challenging aspects right now stems from the deep love I have for the people I am caring for. All that above, it’s hard to do, but oh man, it is so worth it when I can care for someone so intimately and make a difference in their lives. But out of this love I have for caring for my patients comes a desire to be freaking good at caring for them. And I’m not. I have no idea what I’m doing right now, and I am beyond frustrated with myself. One of our educators told us multiple times that we have to be forgiving with ourselves. Now I totally understand what she meant.

I forget to chart so many things. I lay awake panicking because I can’t remember if I did A, B, AND C, or if I only did A and B. I drive to work nauseas because I’m so terrified.

But it’s normal, they say.

Do I regret this choice or decision? No.

Do I wonder if I have what it takes? Yes.

Do I have to remind myself multiple times a day that God has a specific plan for me here? Yes.

Is this the first chapter of my story that has a beautiful ending where I can confidently say that I am a good nurse? I really hope so.

Ya’ll know that I’m pretty candid around here. Yes, I LOVE to make the world’s-worst jokes, and I LOVE to laugh-but I will let you know when it’s been tough tough tough. When things get stressful, I tend to go into hermit mode and cut myself off from the world. But in this past couple weeks I have worked up a serious appetite to blog. I feel like it always helps me put things back into perspective. When you can write about a situation, it gives it a tangibility and control at your finger tips. You decide what is highlighted, and ultimately you decide the perspective you have and the learning you gain from the experience. That’s what writing does for me, and it’s cathartic and healing in an essence of its own.

And although this week was so hard, I know that it will get better. I am in a learning season, and sometimes learning is one of the most trying obstacles we can face in life. Why? Because learning requires a stretch of our will, minds, energy, patience, and that is usually uncomfortable. But the awesome truth about the trials of learning is the accompaniment of growth. Lessons aren’t learned in complacency, but rather in tribulation. As is growth. So for that growth I am thankful, I need this stage to help me blossom. I need it to refine me and my character. I need it to meet new friends, lead people to Jesus, and carry out a purpose for which I have been called. One day this stage will allow me to encourage others that walk through it too.

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(Romans 5:3) Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

And in the mean time, I refuse to solely survive. I want to live, I want to thrive. I want to learn as much as I can and not let every negative, exhausting, emotionally draining situation define me or my perspective.

I also don’t write this for pity or anything- it’s simply to have a baseline for myself moving forward so I can see that growth that takes place! I know things will get better, and I hate to be negative, but it’s also important for me to be candid about these things for my own reflection! 

Hope I didn’t give anyone an extra case of the Monday blues! 🙈

Sooo, without further adieu. I would love to share some highlights of our week…

I am officially running the Big Sur Marathon!!! I haven’t officially announced it here because I didn’t know if my work schedule would allow it. To be honest, I haven’t trained much, so it may be a bit rough. If anything, I will see some spectacular views! I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself to get a great time or even finish it if my body says, “heck nah”, so we will see. I did complete an 18-miler with two minor breaks on Friday while studying on the treadmill, so that’s not too bad! This weekend I don’t work Saturday, so I might go for a 22-miler while I study! Anywho…. here are my nature-y pics from other runs during the week!

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DJ and I still haven’t seen each other much during the week. Baseball season is gearing up, so he has been at work till about 10/11 pm every evening including many weekend nights. However, Saturday March 25th, he had a lunch break (where he could actually leave the office). We met at Bill’s because where else?! He ordered the french toast croissant and I ordered the greek omelette again because I’m addicted. We missed ya, Mom and Gordie! (If you missed our awesome weekend and the full review of Bill’s Cafe, check it out here).

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For dinner these past couple weeks, I have done crockpot ribs and a combination of Hello Fresh/Blue Apron, and salads. Blue Apron > Hello Fresh by a LANDSLIDE. I used Hello Fresh because we had a promo giftcard. It was promo no-no. I mean the stuff wasn’t horrible, but it was not Blue Apron. Blue Apron makes me feel like this in the kitchen…

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NOTHING ELSE DOES THAT! 

Oh, and here are the ribs. Made with none other than the SJ Giants BBQ sauce 😉 #REPRESENT

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This meal below was easily one of my favorite Blue Apron meals of all time!!! It was a mozzarella pizza with fresh oregano, spinach, and green bell peppers. YUM. The dough was perfection too.

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Traditionally, spring has been my least favorite season. But these California blooms are poppin’!

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BEST part of the day right here. Circa 5 am. Time with Jesus, coffee, Ezekiel bread/yogurt/strawberries.

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Oh hey look it’s a nurse! Don’t let the uniform fool you. My only recommendation for anything currently is to eat chocolate and take a Tylenol.

***Unless you have liver issues. Do not take more than 4g in a 24 hour period.***

Have to protect my butt now that I have a thing called a license.

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I’ve tried to change the scenery of my study areas and resorted to hanging out in our apartment’s community area. It’s so cute, I don’t know why I haven’t done this more in the past. And I’m lovin’ those pillows.

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On one of my days “off” (there is ALWAYS something to study and do or a class to attend on our days “off”, hence the quotations), I returned a ton of the business casual clothes I didn’t end up wearing for our two big business cas. weeks of orientation. I decided to take a quick stroll around Santana Row just to be outside for a bit. So many amazing memories here. There’s this memory and this memory and this memory……. It made me happy and nostalgic all at the same time.

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Thursday night we had our church group. This is the first time I have been able to make one since the group started up three weeks ago. DJ actually was able to request to leave early and led the group for the evening. Such a stud. My good friend Danielle (from that insane hike), made Lamingtons- a traditional Australian dessert. Holy Maloly they were so good. I can’t even explain. All good things come from Australia.

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She also made Vegemite/Veggie/Bacon and cheese scrolls- Which are seriously manna from heaven, and all people need to try these before they die. Danielle is also one of the greatest bakers ever, and I think Jesus blessed me a little extra with her as a friend.

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Last night was the first date night DJ and I had since my last post (at the Socialight on March 24th). I came home from work around 8 pm emotionally exhausted and hangry as mentioned above. ***I also have to make a side note that DJ cleaned the whole house, did dishes and laundry on his first day off in a couple weeks. He is amazing.***

Anyways, there was a very specific meal I was craving- and that was Lazy Dog’s Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna over Cauliflower mashed potatoes in a curry coconut cream sauce. Luckily, DJ hadn’t ate a huge dinner so we headed over to Main Street for a late one. (Also what better place to go post 12-hour work day than Lazy Dog?)

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This was the highlight of my week. Just spending these precious, small moments with DJ. (He doesn’t like me taking his picture, so I sneak them and then post them on the internet while he’s not looking 😉 ). And then he’ll read this and I’ll get a lecture. It’s like clockwork.

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And forever, the PEET’s mug will host our Sunday mornings.

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So, today was PALM SUNDAY!!!! I needed my church family badly. They encouraged me greatly. Also, in this worship service today, I felt so wrapped in love. There is a specific reason for this… it’s amazing the way God works.

Going back a few years… the day after my dad passed away in high school, I went to church. I felt like going through the “normal” motions was just how I coped. I remember the first song that played in our worship service was “Hosanna”. I couldn’t choke out the words but my heart was singing them. It was laden with emotion and has been for me ever sense. It’s weird though, it doesn’t bring with it feelings of immense sadness and loss necessarily. It brings back the reminder that the Lord is my comfort in my darkest moments. Our church that DJ and I attend now has their own worship music from C3 Church’s elevation worship- they rarely play more “mainstream” worship that most churches know. However, this morning, while I was feeling downcast and perhaps more stressed than I have in my life, the worship team started playing this song. It just brought me such comfort- reminding me that God is my place of rest, my Prince of Peace. I felt like Jesus was reminding me that He will be with me through all of this.

DJ had to work today, but was back home for dinner (officially an anomaly).

For dinner tonight I had some leftover Seared Sesame Ahi tuna from leftover’s last night in my salad with tons of avocado and white cheddar puff pastries from Blue Apron. DJ wanted his leftover ribs.

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I spent the rest of today studying and basically trying to get organized (contrary to what the picture might say).

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The work week starts again bright and early at 5:00 am (which now feels like sleeping in compared to my hospital days). I have modules and classroom work the beginning of the week and 12-hour shifts starting Thursday.

I am so very sad that blogging has been put on the big ole’ back burner. Once orientation is over the load should lighten up a bit. I send ya’ll so much love.

xo ❤

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Friday Favorites #2

Happy Friday ya’ll!!! I missed “Friday Favorites” last week, but I’m back with it this week!!!! I was excited about how much you all enjoyed this last time. Let’s jump right in! (Recap post coming up this weekend- I’m pumped about this one!!)

  1. …. I was asked to be a bridesmaid!

Two of my very best friends are getting married this year! I received this gem in the mail last week! EEEK! I loveeee the cute ways to ask now-a-days! I just really hope with this new job I’m able to fly back to the other coast. The thought of not making their weddings puts a pit in my stomach. Anyways, what are some unique ways that you  have been asked? Also, Lynds- SO excited for you and Joseph!!!!! LOVE YOU!

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This is the one I used when I asked my girlies because I don’t have that boss handwriting and crafting skills like Lyndsay!

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2. Rapid Clear Neutrogena Spot Gel. This past couple weeks have been stressful, and my face has unfortunately concurred. This stuff has been my ride or die for years. It tackles the most stubborn blemishes over night!

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3. BOOM. CHICKA. POP. I mention this quite a bit on the blog. This is one of my favorite snacks. I’ll be talking about it more in my update post because I took the cheddar cheese to the Super Bowl party! Everyone loved it and said it didn’t taste much different than regular cheese popcorn. The lightly salted is my go-to on the daily. I love a few cups before working out because it’s light but with the quick carbs!

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4. Gluten Free Ice Cream Cones! I don’t usually go out of my way to eat gluten free, but there is something about these ice cream cones that I loveeeee. I believe one indulgence during the day is entirely necessary, and for the last half of a year my go-to treat has been an ice cream cone in the evening. I swear they taste even better than the traditional ones; the “cake” flavor in the cake cone stands out!

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5. Matrix Oil. This stuff really, truly works. My hair is not a fan of the winter time- it gets dry and breaks so easy. Putting a little bit of this on the ends while in the shower or after while my hair is damp helps a ton with the breakage. Plus it smells insanely good. The bottle will last you well over a year!

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6. Fancy Frances. Do you guys remember my wine glass that Rachel made me for Christmas?! I know I said I would share the information with ya’ll once she had a site up and running! She has a Facebook page now!!!! Go check it out!!! She even has the wine socks I posted in my last Friday Faves post. There are some great gift ideas there for Valentine’s Day too!

7. Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee Archer Farms K-Cups. I hate that K-cups aren’t usually recyclable. So when I saw that these were easy to recycle, I jumped on them. I took my first sip, and I’m never going back. The flavor is magnificent.

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8. Miracles. I shared this video in my last recap post, but I have to share it again. So worth a couple minutes of your time!

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9. Chris Lane. I went to his concert on Wednesday night with some girlfriends, and I have a new found love for his music. Such an electric show- great energy, incorporation of many different genres of music, engaged with the audience…. Unlike any concert I’ve been to. Highly recommend seeing this man perform live! This is currently my favorite song by him. It’s unique- country with a hit of pop!

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10. Lady Fortunes Fortune Cookies. My mamma bear sent this to me after hearing about the job! Is this not the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen?!? It is literally a GARGANTUAN fortune cookie that you can custom choose what the fortune says inside. She chose for me Psalms 37:4 -“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” ❤ Still can’t get over it. Such a great, unique gift idea!

I am more behind on blogging than I’ve ever been, but I hope you all know how much you mean to me, and I can’t wait until I have a spare moment to catch up on everyone’s happenings!

xo ❤

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San Pedro Square Market & Sharks & Sushi!

Happy Wednesday, ya’ll (well probably Wednesday when you read this)!!!! This past week was pretty hum-hum except for a few fun highlights!!!

Last Monday (1/16) I went out with a friend I met at church to Bill of Fare in San Jose. This is one of my favorite breakfast/brunchy places. The options are endless, and the coffee is tremendous!!!!

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My friend, Dani, ordered their famous French Toast. She loved it, and I think the picture speaks for itself!

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I ordered their create-your-own egg white omelette. Technically, eggs aren’t allowed on the Daniel Fast, but I have been adding them in as a source of protein in my modified version. I had a ten-miler coming up that day, and I wanted to make sure I was nice and fueled up for that. I added garlic, spinach, artichoke, tomato, mushrooms, green onions, and avocado. It was a perfect veggie + protein packed breakfast to start the day. Next time I go back since I’ll be off the fast I will be trying one of their sweeter items- they all looked enticing!

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For dinner, I made edamame burgers with hummus over multicolored baby potatoes. I put these in front of DJ and he shouted with wide eyes “WHAT ARE THOSE?!” (Referencing the famous vine for those that don’t know). Anyway, these burgers turned out pretty darn well if I do say so myself! I was definitely unsure when experimenting, but we LOVED them! He said it was one of those meals he would eat outside of the fast. Once the interview process slows down and I have job security and all that jazz, I truly do want to share some of these recipes. At least I have a whole year until the next Daniel Fast to get them all compiled together…because it may just take that long 😉

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Monday night we decided to give Deej a haircut, but we started the trimmin’ wayy too close to the start of the Bachelor. Must have been feeling overly ambitious. So even though his head was only half done getting cut when the show started, we ran out into the living room to watch, then would run back into the bathroom to continue chopping the hairs at commercials, then would come back out when it started back up.

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I think we finished it up the whole cut by maybe five commercials? Ah, what we do to make sure we don’t miss a second of that show.Ha!

Tuesday I had coffee at B2 Coffee Shop in San Pedro Square Market with a friend. I thought I was getting over whatever terrible cold plagued me over the weekend, but I felt pretty wiped out again Tuesday.

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B2 has more of an open, industrial-chic feel than many coffee shops, and their coffee tastes of hipstered (probably not a word) perfection and free trade yumminess. In the evenings, the “Garage” turns into a bar. I have yet to visit for that- but I love the concept. The whole “Gimme coffee until it’s acceptable to drink wine” mantra fits well here. I’ve noticed this is sort of the new trend for modernized coffee shops. These types are perfect to meet with a friend because you don’t have to compete for a table, but when it comes to getting work done, I like to be in a smaller, cozier  space…. like… let’s say Peet’s 😉 Ya’ll know I’m obsessed and not even ashamed to admit it.

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I had an almond milk latte with cinnamon & honey. It warmed me right up- especially with not feeling great and all.

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My friend who recently moved here from Australia, Danielle, ordered a caramel latte. Both of us couldn’t help but snag plenty of pictures of this beauty. She also had a scone to accompany it. If that’s not a picture perfect breakfast, I don’t know what is!

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Even though I didn’t feel stupendous, we had such a good time chatting and I was thankful we both could spend this time together.

Throughout the week we were trying to use up the rest of the frozen fruit in the freezer. Breakfast was a fruit smoothie topped with chopped dates and coconut flakes many days. We also have been loving overnight oats!

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Tuesday night I made us chickpea & corn grit pizza with organic tomato based sauce, veggies, and tofu to act as the “mozzarella cheese”. It was a nice pizza fix. This is another recipe I’ll have to share when time allows!

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Lately I’ve been working at Peet’s on my interview questions/scheduling/meetings/misc. projects, and when I feel I need a break, I’ll do Postmates for a few hours. I LOVE it, and it’s an awesome way to make some extra money in your spare time! I will discuss it a bit more in my next post because I don’t want this to be outrageously long 😉 *Outrageously is the key word there. Just do not do Postmates in heels. Learned my lesson big time this week!

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Wednesday was a blast- I worked some with CityTeam in San Jose. I love the people who work there- they have the most giving hearts and love people tremendously. In the evening we had our Bible Study group, and even though I was like a zombie by this point in the week (the sickness was really taking a toll), it was much needed conversation and time with friends. ❤

Thursday I met with my friend, Amy, for lunch at Whole Foods. On the way out, I grabbed a few groceries, and I could not pass up a purple cauliflower head. I decided to make my cauliflower mashed potatoes with the little guy and they tasted the same- but they were PURPLE. How fun is that?!

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It made a refreshing snack through the week- Dave’s toast//purple cauliflower//avocado.

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Thursday night I made the peanut crusted Tofu dish for dinner with edamame and refried beans.

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Friday was pretty uneventful, but I was feeling much better finally. I had a lot on the big “To-do” list to get done and DJ and I both opted to have a chill night. DJ has a new found love of reading lately so we went to Barnes and Noble to look for a book. GUYS. We have reached a new level of nerd-dom. Who goes to Barnes and Noble on a Friday night?!?!? Anyway, we decided once we got back we were more in the mood to watch a documentary on Netflix. (Oh, so you back out of reading the book and watch a documentary instead.. makes sense). It all sounds even more lame now that I’ve written it out.  ** Eye opening documentary B T Dubs**

No worries though, Saturday we came out of our little hermy shells. First I went to a consignment store by our home that buys clothes and accessories on the spot. I love thrifting, and this one is so much better than any of the thrift stores we had in Ohio. While I was waiting for my turn to sell, I perused the shop and stumbled across these….

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Now that deserves a ….

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In the evening we went to a San Jose Shark’s game! This was my first hockey game EVER, and I loved it! I loved how little the game is interrupted in comparison to most sports, and I’m not gonna lie, the level of physicality is super entertaining. Now I want to go to an MMA show or something. Anyone ever been?!

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We went with a friend who is visiting for a few months from Australia. Him and DJ work together in the church office, and I made us all get a selfie at the end of the game, because you know, it’s my job to make sure we get at least one selfie everywhere we go. He’s been telling us all about Australian lingo and food. Veggie mite anyone?!

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After the game was over we ran to the Express Target by our home to stock up on alllllllll the junk food because Sunday the fast was over!!!

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Also, what?!? Thin Mint Cereal?!^^^ HOW COOL!

Sunday when the fast was over DJ delved into a bowl of fruity pebbles for breakfast before Church.

We went to DJ’s little sister’s basketball game in the afternoon and she was BALLIN’! She has that basketball gene of DJ’s. Three 3s and a 2. I can’t help but brag a bit 😉 She scored more than I did during my basketball career in one game, and I played for eight years…. haha. (That’s why I stick to running ya’ll- my sister, Halston, stole all the athleticism).

For dinner we had a mish-mash of all types of yums, but then we made sure to get our fix of Sushi Monday 😉 This is one of the foods I missed most. We had a coupon to Kiku Sushi in Cupertino so have been wanting to try it for a while!

The waitress put us by the fish tank so that, “We would have something to talk about”. I think she thought this was a first date or something. Hilarious. She probably figured out we were pretty comfortable together once I took a big sip of DJ’s miso soup without asking him right when it was placed on the table.

Also, it’s a bit strange looking at live fish while eating sushi?! IDK. Maybe it’s just me. Hahaha. Overall, Kiku Sushi was delicious and the staff was incredibly friendly, but Yuki still is better in my opinion!

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DJ was feeling more of a hot meat dish than sushi- I don’t blame him. Boy has been deprived of meat for 21 days.

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Yesterday we both worked all day, had our sushi extravaganza, then came back and put our feet up for some Bachelor, cookies & mega-cookie, and wine (and ice cream that isn’t pictured 😉 ).

I tried to use my wine aerator for the first time that Halston gave me for Christmas. Apparently, you are supposed to put the aerator on the wine bottle. Whoops! Here’s a good laugh for your evening.

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Today was humorously NUTS.

Just about everything that could go wrong with our apartment went wrong- the garage door broke, so everyone was stuck from leaving for work during rush hour, the workout room was closed for maintenance so that shot down my plans to look over my interview questions while I ran, maintenance turned water off from 10 am to 2 pm, so when I came back from my run outside I couldn’t have water (I resorted to chugging half a gallon of Cashew milk instead), our fire alarms would not stop going off- I think my ear drums are broken, and my phone has decided to randomly shut off at 60% battery now instead of 30%. BUT I have leftover sushi in the fridge- so everything is okay in the world.

Blog Birthdays:

JL from Hunt’s Clubhouse is TODAY! 1/25! Happy Birthday!!!!

Wishing you all a fabulous day,

xo ❤

Mack

Life Lately: Skating into 2017 with a Few Laughs & Vegan Eats!

Well whaddya say? Time for an update?!? I haven’t done one in the New Year, so I probably should get on thatttt before it’s 2018.

First though- THANK YOU to everyone who stopped by the Birthday Meet & Greet! Ah, it was so fun making new friends, chatting with old ones, and hearing some super interesting birthday tales too! I hope you all had fun 🙂

Also- I have been a SLACKER lately on responding to blogging awards. Man oh man, I can’t tell you how much they mean to me. I have been meaning to sit down and respond to them, but I am a little big time behind now. I would love to do something special in the future though 😉 Wheels are turning! But for those I haven’t yet thanked yet:

Thank you to Chrissey, my sassy sista with the best taste in cupcakes over at UnabridgedSass and sweet, Diam, the ultimate travel bug, for their nomination for the Liebster Award!!!!

Thank you to the amazing Chiara, who will enthrall you with every post from travels to advice, for the Blogger Recognition Award!

Thank you Meg, who is a role model mother and an instant friend to anyone, for the nomination for the Mystery Blogger Award!

Lastly, thank you to the encouraging Hangry Runner, who genuinely shares her journey through fitness with a sprinkle of real life that all can relate to along the way, for the Versatile Blogger Award.

^^^GO check them out now… don’t even read the rest of this, their stuff is more interesting anyway! 😉

Also lastly, thank you to EVERYONE who left the sweetest, most encouraging words on one of my last posts. WOW. I can’t tell you how much you all lifted my spirits, helped me find new perspective, and encouraged me beyond words! I’m so thankful for you all.

Time for an update! 

SO. Let’s see here. Welp, I made a post last week about the Daniel Fast that DJ and I are doing with our Church. I ended up putting it back in drafts for now because I want to be able to link the recipes for all the meals with the post! So I promise that will be going back up soon 🙂 He is all in on it, 100%, I’m doing a modified version, and won’t chat too much about it, but if you are wondering why our diet looks slightly different (*cough cough*, no sushi), that is why!

Here is a quick little snapshot of the week’s eats!

The first week back from traveling I ran all around town to stock up on groceries, necessities, organized for the New Year, cleaned out house, watched football (DJ more than I), and wrote thank you cards!

We also finally took down our Christmas tree last Sunday :(. It was time. *Sigh* Also, our apartment has a regulation that it had to be down by last week, so I milked that time frame for all it was worth. Otherwise I would have tried to keep the critter alive until Christmas in July.

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RIP, BB. I bet he was just pining to be with others like himself. I promise that is the first and last pun I will use this post! 😉

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I have been applying for jobs, going to hiring events, working on 5 behavioral interview questions per day, and I even went shopping for big girl interview clothes.

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Think I can fool them? I came home after this hiring event and put on the TV, which happened to have the news on. I started chopping vegetables up for dinner and I had a moment of epiphany.

I am my mother

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But in alllll seriousness,  I always said I would be honored to turn into you one day, Mother Dear

Reflecting, the event went well, but they had far too many candidates to do all the interviews in one day. They collected our resumes and said they would be giving calls back soon! *FINGERS CROSSED*.

Segue without a segue:  I’ve tried lifting more weights since the New Year! So far, I’ve lifted.. *thinks to self* one….two…….. TWICE for about 15 minutes, so…. progress, yah?

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I also FINALLY ordered new running shoes and inserts. Yes, yes, I know you are supposed to swap them out every 300-500 miles, and I haven’t changed them since last May. Big whoops. Better late than never?! I HIGHLY recommend trying out these shoes if you have shin splints. However, everyone has a different step/stride/foot, so go to an expert at a running store to fit you for your personal needs! These little guys are Brook’s Ghosts with Berry Inserts. When I was in high school I had horrible shin splints to the point where I had bruises on my shin bone. It was painful to even walk. Once I started using these with the inserts, they went away and have not returned!

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DJ also got me these for Christmas for cross training, and I am in love. They are Nike Zoom Elite 8. I love them for cross training because they offer tons of support, but are also pretty light!

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Although coffee is not technically “DF” approved, I’m doing a modified version, and still having a cup each day as I go through behavioral questions. Especially in nursing, behavioral questions (situation, action, outcome/result) are HUGE in interviews. It’s been a good time for me to reflect on my previous clinical experiences, read through old clinical journals, and remind myself why I love this profession so dearly.
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THIS IS NOT MY ULTRASOUND before anyone has a heart attack. Hahah. I won’t pull another “Our family is growing” on ya. But I did want to share this little peanut up here. One of my best friends since middle school, Clair, is pregnant and having this little bundle of joy in July. She calls me “Mo” so when I received a call from her a few months ago saying, “How do you feel about being Aunt Mo?” I was ecstatic. I asked her if I could share this with you all and she was happy to! She is having her big gender reveal on the 29th which I am devastated I won’t be able to make, but at the same time I am super sure it’s a boy, so I don’t think a reveal is entirely necessary 😉 I am ADAMANT that baby is a boy. What is your guess?!?

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In light of how random and non-sequential this post is… next topic….

The rain here has been NON.STOP. I swear we take the bad weather with us wherever we go! But Cali needed it, so I guess it’s a good thing!! I also don’t mind rainy days, especially when I have a decent amount to work on inside… or when I want to be incredible lazy (so basically one end of the spectrum or the other). I savored working through my interview prep most of the week in Peet’s with a cafe au lait and the rain falling outside.

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BIRTHDAY WEEKEND RECAP

Friday

Time to dive right into this past weekend’s birthday recap! WOW. It was a lot of fun, but unconventional from usual bday celebrations (which traditionally include Indian food). I spent the morning enjoying a nice, long run outside in the SUNSHINE! It was the first time the sun shined in a couple weeks like that, so I took full advantage.

With the fast we had to get creative for a “birthday dinner” and also for the rest of the weekends festivities. BUT we figured it out— with a little fasting compromise 😉 I was a tiny teensy bit emotional, missing my friends and family from back home horribly, but I was thankful I had Deej by my side. My friends out here and I are planning on doing something big in February to celebrate a few of our birthdays after the fast is over!

First, we went to Santana Row in San Jose to walk around, peaked in a few stores, and ate dinner.

Real quick, I just have to mention this experience at Urban Outfitters. I’ve gotta say, I know I’m not always in on the latest and greatest styles- but some of these men’s clothes now-a-days confuse me…  Like this….

I call this one, “Pay 35 dollars for someone who accidentally used bleach in their laundry” Or “I wanna be tie-dye, but I’m not sure”

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This is my next personal fave… now, you can actually purchase farmer Joe’s beat up overalls with a beat up hat, and it’s all the rage 😉 Don’t try this at home though kids, make sure you pay and arm and a leg for it… like this mannequin.
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Oh wait, I lied, this is my personal favorite… the guy who borrowed his sister’s skinny jeans, and the giant GUESS logo on their shirt. Okay, okay.. I know that “GUESS” is a brand, I’m not that fashionably inept, but this man may confuse some old ladies out there… I can hear them now, *In cute Granny voice* “Johnny, what is it I am supposed to Guess? I’m gonna guess that you stole your sister’s pants and that your jacket is an interesting color green and two sizes too small”…..

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OPE! We found the sister. Johnny should really give her the pants back, not a good look in public. Then again we do live in Cali where anything seems to go..

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But in all reality- I’m sure whoever buys those clothes pull them off well! I don’t know the first thing about men’s fashion, so please do not be offended by my… bewildered evaluation, shall we say.

Next stop: VeggieGrill! Oh how I loved this place!

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EVERYTHING on their menu is vegan. How great is that?! It *almost* fit into the Daniel Fast.

DJ ordered the Seoul Bowl with chargrilled veggie-“steak”, korean super grain + rice mix, gochujang sauce, carrots, house red onions, cabbage, arugula, scallions, sesame seeds. I had a bite and it was so good! Not sure it could pass as a real steak, but it certainly gave that savory meat flavor. DJ thoroughly enjoyed it!

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We also shared “Buffalo Wings” served with celery and vegan ranch dressing. They were out of this world. I haven’t had a chicken wing since my freshman year of college and these really gave me a wing fix. SO GOOD.

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For my salad, I ordered the Banh Mi with glazed tofu (although it came breaded, which I wasn’t expecting, but still tasty), chargrilled eggplant, carrots, white cabbage, cucumbers, daikon, fresh jalapenos, basil, cilantro, mint, and kale. I ordered the sauce on the side AND a “crab” cake which was also 100% vegan, but you could have fooled me! The thing I miss the most on the daniel fast is probably fish, so I was surprised (and excited) at how well this imitated it!

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Ok… ok. Totally breaking all the fast rules here, but it is sorta birthday tradition to get one slice of cheesecake from cheesecake factory (I’ll add a day to the fast 😉 ). DJ did not indulge, just to clarify. I tried the white chocolate macademia nut for the first time and it was OUT of this world. Anyone have a favorite flavor? The one I still want to try desperately is the lemon meringue, but this night I was craving caramel (which is in the macademia nut). Any one have the lemon meringue? Worth it? I could talk Cheesecake Factory all day long ya’ll..

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Friday night we had plans to go to a Comedy show in San Jose. We went to the location, walked in and up to our reserved seats, and people were sitting in them. Oh, here we go, I thought. Gotta’ give them the boot. I showed them our tickets and then realized our tickets were for Saturday night, not that night. With a few extra apologies thrown in for the inconvenience, we booked it out there, laughed about the mix-up, and watched Netflix the rest of the evening (We are moving through Dexter quite quickly!). We decided to give it a go again the next night for when the tickets were actually valid!

Saturday

So, we’ve been wanting to go ice skating for a while, but when we tried to go in Union Square, it looked like it was “kids only” hour, so we vouched out of that. We had heard from a friend that Winter Lodge in Palo Alto was a great place to go, so we tried it out. Once again, SWARMED with youngins. Oh well, we were there, and we were determined to get our skating fix (ok, maybe it was more my skating fix, and DJ was just a trooper along for the ride).

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^^Fun fact: The mirror in the guest room accidentally became a guest book, so we just kinda left it that way. Not sure what we’ll do when it’s all filled up- it’s an awfully large guest book to store. Ha!

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We didn’t fall once. I can hardly believe it. If nothing else, the weekend was a success simply for that reason alone!

After skating, we walked around downtown PA for a little bit and worked up quite an appetite. We decided to try a place right on one of the downtown strips called Nola. I had heard of this place before from several others, and then another SF blogger, KB, did a write up on it. I noticed they had a vegan jumbalaya that appeared to be DF approved, so we decided to try it out!

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(They have a huge mardigras party every year, hence all the beads)

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I LOVED the ecclectic, cultural fusion that this place vibed. It is unlike any restaurant I have ever been to. It’s menu has just about anything you can imagine from chicken and waffles to gourmet skirt steak. You could classify it as mostly Cajun/New Orleans cuisine. It was fantastic. We will definitely be going back to explore more of their menu. Plus the service was OUTSTANDING.

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We split their vegan jumbalaya with the sauce on the side and savored every nibble. This had roasted confetti cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and butternut squash, procini & button mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, crushed garlic, cajun spices, and scallion rice. We ordered the sauce on the side. It was perfect for a slightly chilly day and filled us right up, even with splitting it.

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We also split their Garlic Sauteed Green Beans (they were ok- I think a bit al dante for our liking). We also split their steamed vegetables which were super yummy.

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We headed back home for a short while to watch some football, then headed to Stage 4 Improv in San Jose. We actually had the date and time right this time 😉 Unfortunately, we were comparing it to Four Day Weekend in Fort Worth, so this didn’t really hold it’s own. But it did warrant a few giggles. Improv can be tricky too depending on the type of night the comedians are having… I would give the show a second chance, as they did receive five stars on Yelp!

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Sunday I got sick, AGAIN (like the cold kind)

Tonight is BACHELOR! Ya’ll know where we will from 8-10 pm tonight. Except, I can’t wait till we can start up the tradition of wine, cookies and chocolate milk, and ice cream for bachelor nights again in about a week!

(I’m starting a new thing where I’m gonna include blog birthdays at the end of my recaps)

Blog Family Birthdays this Week: 

Lacey  on Jan. 11 (A little belated, but better late than never 😉 )

Kristin on Jan. 16 (I know you don’t have a blog Kristin, but I still wanted to say a BIG Happy Bday today!)

Happy MLK Jr. Day!

xo ❤

Mack

Happy New Year from Mack & DJ (A NYE Weekend Recap in SF!)

HelllllooooOOOooOO everybody! I have a short (ish) post for you today. Which many of you would be skeptical of unless you saw it with your own eyes… So, hey, guess you’ll have to come in and see for yo self 😉 I missed my calling as a sales woman. I realize.

After DJ and I arrived back from Ohio, we tried to adjust to the jet-lag, unpacked (there is always wayy more laundry than you bank on), ate Subway because we were craving us some subs, and watched Dexter.

On Friday, December 30th, Annie (you can get the low down on our friendship here) and I decided to have a girllzzzz night in SF. As much as she is our fave third wheel, (or maybe Deej is the third, not sure), DJ is incredibly supportive of girl time. It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other, and with the next few months being crazy and unpredictable, we decided to try to squeeze in hanging out one more time before the new year dawned.

Driving into SF that night was exhilarating. The sky was bright blue in some parts and dark gray in others. The contrast was magnificent! Additionally, the way the clouds roll into the city over the bay fascinates me the whole time I drive down the highway.

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Love this city ❤

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When I arrived to Annie’s apartment, we finished up getting ready then headed out to one of my personal favorite restaurants in all of SF. I had two “free drink” coupons from Eat/Drink SF, and it would be a darn shame for those to go to waste. Hence, girlz night.

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Something I just absolutely love about Farallon is the jellyfish lounge. It is truly so unique! I give a full synopsis of this spectacular restaurant in a previous post.

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Isn’t she just the cutest you’ve ever seen?!

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Imma’ rant for a quick tick: One personal stipulation that I have for determining a good restaurant is their bread factor. I’m a runner, and I take my carbs seriously. So when I see that grainy, yummy, doughy piece of deliciousness with a pad of buttery perfection next to it, I do what any normal person does: salt the heck out of my butter before putting it on my bread. Right? RIGHT?! Ok, well DJ apparently thinks my methods are a bit strange with the salt, but Farallon agrees that salt on butter is the way to do it. And for this reason, Farallon wins sooo many brownie points in my heart

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In all seriousness though… that lava salt and butter and bread was the BEST I have ever had. Sorry, Outback & Olive Garden & Macaroni Grill …. you have some competitionnnn. Now, I’m all curious– what is your favorite restaurant for bread? 

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We didn’t want to spend a ton (and this place is pretty pricey), so we decided to split an appetizer and entree. For the appetizer we did the Mezcal Ceviche with Avocado Mousse and Spiced Tostada. This dish was SPICEY! The avocado mousse helped TAME THE FLAME a bit. It was eye-watering, nose-dripping YUM. Yet, I feel like that doesn’t sound appetizing when I put it that way? And those spiced tostadas were like some kind of fancy schmancy Doritos.

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For our entree, we split the pan seared scallops with spaghetti squash, brussels sprouts, huckleberries, & bacon (on the side).

I can say this with extreme confidence: It was the best one and a half scallops I have ever had. Yes, 1.5. We savored the heck out of that dish. Like the smallest bites you can imagine but each small bite was bursting with LARGE flavor. The combination of the huckleberries, brussels, and squash was unique, but it worked so well. If you ever go to Farallon, get this. You will not regret it. Especially if you like scallops. (But really anything on their menu is spectacular! We had some of the best food of my life the last time we were there too!).

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We walked out of there sooo full.

Lolz. NOT.

The food was TREMENDOUS. Don’t get me wrong. But we definitely had wayy more room. So we did what anyone does right after a big splurge dinner… go to the nearest grocery store for more food.

Allow me to present dinner numero dos: Snyder’s Hershey’s Dark Chocolate pretzels, Halo Top Ice cream (Strawberry is suhh guuhhdd), SUSHI!, & wine.

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Because those are all the essentials for watching K. Dash all night long.

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Best. Girlz. Night. Ever.

On the way out in the morning I had to take a picture of this.

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Is she smart or what?! I need to do this, and get that rug that says, “Turn off your straightener”!

I drove back from SF to Cupertino, did a seven-miler on the treadmill while reading Cutting for Stone (phenomenal book, btw), then got snazzed up with Deej when he came back from playing basketball. We then, once again, started the drive back to SF. Deja Vu!

I wanted to spend SF in the city, but obviously hotels in the city are already outrageously priced and with living so close it’s hard to justify paying to stay overnight. But, at the same time, it’s incredibly dangerous to drive on New Years Eve. See my predicament? Our solution: GROUPON!!!!!!!!!

A couple months ago, I found a room slashed at Le Meridian to more than half the original price for New Year’s Eve. It was so cheap we kept joking that it probably had smoke damage, or the shower didn’t work, etc. etc., but it was perfect!!!!!

It was also centrally located, and we could see the Bay Bridge from our window!

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I loved the way they had the maps as the wall paper. It was all kindsa modern!

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Time to finish getting ready! Dress is from Express. I snatched it when they had their big 40% off sale about a month ago!

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I was able to wear my wedding shoes for the first time since the actual wedding! I was pumped about this.

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We had some extra time before our dinner reservation, so we put on the OSU game and then DJ graciously took selfies with me. He is such a trooper about that.

More time to kill…. more selfies… more filters… more proving that I fit into such a stereotype (eyerolllll) .** Also I need serious help in the hair curling department, I always just wand it because I can’t figure out how to curl. Yes, 22, and still don’t know how to curl my hair to this day.

Dinnerrr timeee! I was getting hangry. Poor guy. I got really upset about something random and small (and not worth getting upset about) and he goes, “Time for food!”. He knows me well.

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Our restaurant of choice was Perbacco. We had a giftcard for Open Table from DJ’s birthday and hadn’t used it yet since DJ was in law school during this time. **SUCH a great idea for a gift, I didn’t even know Open Table had giftcards!** This was the perfect occasion to save it for! It was within walking distance for us which was super convenient since them heels weren’t necessarily high on the comfort factor.

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They sat us quickly, but it was a bit too close for comfort between tables, & the waiting staff was not very amicable. I always try to give people grace on the holidays who have to work, because I get it! Not fun! A lot of the reviews on Yelp that I read after the fact said the same thing about the service, but that it was out of the norm for them, and usually it’s a wonderful experience. We’ll choose to believe that! 😉 Regardless, we were thankful for the time together and this meal in the first place ❤

We started with the piastra roasted octopus which had olive oil crushed potatoes, garum vinaigrette, radish, and salsa verde. This was one of our favorites of the night. But, I do have to say, the Spanish Octopus from Marco Prime in Marco Island still takes the cake!

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Next we tried the Marinated King Crab with citrus burricota, shaved fennel and seasonal citrus. It was good, I’d give it a 7 on a scale of 1-10.

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I tried the Black Sea Bass “Alla Piastra” which had king crab and artichoke ragout and esplette-urchin butter. It was fantastic! I especially loved the large lentils.

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DJ had the Osso Buco “Milanese” with braised veal shank, roasted bone marrow, gnocci, and gremolata. DJ loved it! I had a nibble of the bone marrow gnocci and it was to die for.

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We usually are stuffed by dessert, but #NYE. We decided to try the dark chocolate bonet with pinot noir sea salt, sesame seeds, and crimson grapes. This was maybe the best part of the meal. It was exquisite. DJ isn’t a huge dark chocolate person, but he loved loved loved this.

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After dinner photo time!

…. No, DJ did not spill the bread dipping oil on his shirt… hehe … To be fair if it wasn’t gonna be him, it was gonna be me. I feel like I’m always eatin’ like a five-year-old, so he took one for the team tonight!

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After dinner we headed to Union Square. It was Lit. LITERALLY.

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Maybe the brilliance of the tree will outshine the shirt-spot?!

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Nope…lol. I think it’s quite endearing.

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We sought out our NYE party that I bought us tickets to a while back…have to complete the whole experience, ya’ know? We thought it was in the Westin in Union Square (but the place we were actually at was in the former Westin). We still grabbed a few pretty pictures of the Westin lobby while we were at it. Why not?!

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We then went and found our actual place (Park Central Hotel) and waited in line. Us, being the old farts we are, got there on the dime. (Don’t show up to these things on time because no one does). Aka fashionably late. It was so strange getting texts from all our family and friends at around 9 because back in Ohio/Indiana, it was midnight!!! It felt like we were stuck in the past a bit!

Could it be the stain has disappeared?!?

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Oh shoot, no, still there…

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Whoops- flash really magnifies that boogar!

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Soooooo we may or may not have stayed for a grand total of a half an hour before deciding we were pooped and still trying to fight jet-lag and justified leaving with tons of other reasons. We Ubered back to the hotel, got in our comfy clothes, ordered desserts, and watched Netflix. Now that’s what I’m talking bout’! I may or may not have fallen asleep before midnight … I think that’s the first time that’s happened since I was like.. eight. (BUT I did make it midnight east coast time).

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DJ kindly woke me up when the fireworks started outside our window over the Bay Bridge. It was an all-time fireworks display. I was thrilled that we had such a cozy seat for the show!

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Happy New Year from Us to YOU!!!

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Shoot, this post was not as short as I thought. Oh well! Thanks for reading.

xo ❤

Mack

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 ❤

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! ❤ ❤

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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 ❤

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 ❤

Mack

Fort Worth, TX Recap!

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

Thursday (12/15)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday (12/20)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday (12/21)

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

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Followed by shenanigans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In the afternoon I ran a couple errands with Mama Jill

You know you are in Texas when…

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That afternoon we had apps round two!

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

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We also had stuffed vegan acorn squash with fresh cranberries!

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My mom also made regular meatballs for Pete

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Isn’t she darling?!

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a very Happy New Year,

xo ❤

Mack

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

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

Shall we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for the spooOOooky stories:

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

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

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

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

Next stop: GrandView Restaurant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ohio:

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California:

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

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

Also- did you guys see that tweet?

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

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

Wishing you a weekend CARVED with joy

xo ❤

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 ❤

Mack

Reunited and it feels soo GOOD!

Hey guys- Happy Thursday to ya!

This week was certainly one for the books!!! Friday night DJ and I were craving Kula sushi.  DJ, unfortunately, still had some work to do for school, so Kula was an excellent option just close to home. Also, we were going to try something new- but when you have a craving you know nothing else will do! After Kula, we simply relaxed at home/ studied.

This weekend was one of the greatest because I was reunited with one of my best friends sisters. When we were in high school, Annie came to live with us for Junior and Senior year. We were good friends before the move, but then we became super close over those two years. We talked to each other about everything, heck, we even fought like sisters over silly things like who got the frying pan in the morning to make eggs. Our graduation party was naturally combined. Below is one of my favorites of us from that day.

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Then came college and my kindred spirit got up and moved to Cali to attend Berkeley. Now, four years later, we are within an hour driving distance from each other. When I found this out I cried tears of joy. We decided we would take a hike because… hike :). She took us to Lands End. (Not the store- mind you, because that’s where I thought we were going at first). It reminded me a bit of Monterey– particularly the feel of the coolness and the looming splendor of grey skies!

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After catching up and hiking for a while we were on a serious food mission. We had worked up quite the appetite! It was a Saturday and most places were packed out the wah-zoo. Our tummies were not too happy with us. We finally found this Peruvian restaurant and decided to give it a go. We would have ate anything at this point. Our low-blood-sugar conversations were probably terribly entertaining to those passing.

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I feel like I say this all the time, but truly this was one of the greatest meals of my whole life. The meal started with plantain chips which way surpass tortilla chips in my opinion. They came with some kind of lightly spiced cheese sauce. The two of us could not get enough.

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For an appetizer we split Pulpo. This is Spanish Octopus in jalapeño pepper and avocado leche de Tigre. When I tried Spanish Octopus in Marco Island I had pronounced it as one of my all time favorite foods to date. This was prepared differently, but still heavenly. One of our favorite parts were the giant white corn kernels scattered throughout. It was all so light and refreshing after that hike too!

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For dinner we decided to split two super unique dishes. We asked the waiter for suggestions and he said the Plancha Marina was his favorite (pictured right). This included prawns, octopus, calamari, salmon, portobello mushrooms, aji panca, and pisco sauce. It was easily one of the most delicious things I have ever had. The meal included little multicolored green and purple cauliflower type veggies too; not only was the meal amazing devour with the mouth, but also with the eyes! The colors were vibrant and the flavors exploded in concurrence with the inviting display!

Naturally we had to also try the weirdest thing on the menu (pictured left). This is sopa seca. It is squid ink pasta with mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari and vegetable stew in Peruvian aji (a red sauce). I never thought I would say this, but I am a BIG fan of squid ink. Bring on the ink!IMG_9028IMG_8836

We had deemed this night Annie’s birthday weekend, since we couldn’t celebrate it in July. We got all snazzed up and I got to meet some of her friends while hanging out in downtown SanFran. We went back to her house and shared red wine, dark chocolate, and raspberry cheesecake ice cream. Can we really be more predictable for a couple of 20 something girls?! It was a great night!

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In the morning, I woke up at seven to get a run in on the pier. Last weekend I slept in, and when I saw all the runners in the morning I felt like I was missing out. I was not about to let that happen this time! A run on the pier is worth a little sleep deprivation! I shot some pictures while running. It was so peaceful. When I first left the apartment there was no one out. By 8 0’clock people started coming to life.

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The little sea lions are hilarious. DJ and I could just sit there and watch them for hours. IMG_8884IMG_9038IMG_9040IMG_9041

I love getting up early because I feel like I get to share secrets with the morning. The gray fog over the bay is both ominous and calming- I’m not sure how to explain this oxymoron, but if you have never experienced it, you should! Usually in places like this I don’t even put my headphones in to run. I want to soak up the experience with every sense possible.

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Below is the gorgeous view from Annie’s apartment. The other direction you can see the Bay Bridge. At night the skyline is INSANE. It was hard to get a picture to do it any justice. San Francisco has a way of being mostly cloudy until about 11 am, then the sun peaks out. You almost feel like it is going to storm in the mornings, but it rarely ever does!

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After a six mile run on the pier with no caffeine in my body, I was ready to down coffee and food. We tried to go to Mama’s (it’s THE breakfast place in SF), but the line was about two hours long. We finally decided on Cafe DeLucchi. When I picture a good brunch, this is the type of place I picture. The coffee was out of this world, it was truly some of the best coffee I have had from a restaurant. The menu provided a vast array of options for absolutely anyone from the meat and potatoes guy to the adventurous palate.

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I ordered the avocado scramble with egg whites, fontina cheese (gimme), cherry tomatoes, avocado, and scallions with potatoes and toast. I don’t like a ton of cheese in my eggs because it can overpower the other ingredients, but this had just the perfect complimentary amount. On the side I ordered the artichoke hash because a. It sounded so strange and b. It sounded so delicious! It was. MMM mmm mmm.

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Annie had the polenta gorgonzola. This was as yummy to eat as it is to say (I may have had a nibble or two of the polenta 😉 ). The meal included warm polenta, melted gorgonzola, clover honey, thick cut applewood smoked bacon and poached eggs. Needless to say, we left satisfied, energized, and FULL.

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Isn’t she just the cutest?!

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After breakfast we headed over to the Ferry Building. I had never been there but so many people kept saying it was a necessary part of SanFran. If I could imagine a place that would be “my kind of place”, this was it to a T. It consists of tons of little shops, farmer’s market type style grocery places, bakeries, cosmetic stands, why am I listing anything- they have EVERYTHING you could imagine! I could have spent the whole day, maybe a few days just exploring this place. BUT it was time for me to head home, and we kept saying how thankful we are that this wasn’t a “one time”thing. We basically live down the road from one another <3.

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Sunday evening consisted of cleaning and doing laundry. I feel like the house just gets trashed on the weekend running in and out and all over the place, so I enjoy the time to get everything back in place. DJ studied alllll weekend long. I feel bad talking about all these adventures, while the poor boy studies 😦 He is so supportive though and tells me to enjoy it while I can. I know this time is temporary, and I love that I have his support. I also missed going to church together, but it’s awesome because our Church has podcasts online you can listen to.

Monday it was back to school. DJ was cold-called in class for the first time and handled it like a champ. You go, hubbs. (Cold calling is when the professor just randomly calls on students and asks them a series of questions about the assigned case).

In the midst of Deej pursuing a rigorous degree, I decided to try my hand at a little snack I have had in the back of my mind.

Za’atar Zucchini Fries!

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You know the people who spend forever deciding between two ingredients in the grocery store? That’s me. But then, ironically, I also have this weird side where if I see something different or exotic, I MUST try it and grab it right off the shelf impulsively. So, I have had Za’atar sitting in my cabinet for the last half year. I decided to try it on some zucchini fries.

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I placed them with hummus and the flavor was fantastic! I couldn’t quite get them to crisp up, but maybe when I get the science down I will post a recipe for them.

For dinner I had some veggies that I wanted to use  along with some curry sauce. I threw it all together in a sauce pan with a little coconut milk, chobani plain greek yogurt, the Rogan Josh curry sauce, cottage cheese (to add a paneer-like feel), and shrimp (always shrimp).

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I had this little power spice blend leftover from a sampling from a runner box. Have you guys ever tried runner box? it’s a worthy investment- it basically provides all types of snacks, discount cards, energy drink powder, etc. and is delivered in the cutest box. It makes a great gift idea for anyone you know that is a runner too! Anyways, I threw in the blend because I felt like it would compliment the Indian spices well.

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I added some baked pita and dinner was ready to go! I will admit, the meal certainly needed a bit of salt, but once we added some salt it was pretty delish. The added spices were a perfect addition!

Tuesday I was busy working on the projects I have had for the week all day: Fixing lamps that were loose, hanging pictures, doing a big grocery run to restock the fridge, calling the state board (we are pals at this point), and sewing back on a button that fell off DJ’s shirt. I love to sew, but more than anything I love doing those little things for him. I’m not sure how I got so lucky to have him as my husband, but I relish every second of it.

Update with the state board: I should be approved to test in about two weeks- fingers crossed!!!! I won’t actually take the test in two weeks even if I do get approved, but you bet I will be buckling down with the studying!

At the store, some plantains caught my eye. I decided to try and reinvent some plantain chips like we had the other night. I dehydrated them along with some cinnamon apple chips in my dehydrator. I bought a super cheap one for I think $30 bucks at Walmart and it has lasted for years.

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The plantain chips are actually super good dipped in peanut butter. The cinnamon apple chips turned out addictingly good.

For dinner Wednesday night I tried Green Chef! Once again we had a coupon for the first time offer, and I knew with getting ready for company (more to come on that), we would be pretty busy. This was the perfect time to have these easy gourmet meals delivered! This company is basically the same as Blue Apron, just with different meal options and the claim to being organic. The meal made tonight was wonderful. I’m salivating again just thinking about it! It was apricot glazed chicken with rosemary fingerling potatoes (it’s a great day when you can eat a purple potato!) and arugula salad. I didn’t have the chicken but paired the arugula and potatoes with some leftover Indian from above. Everything I tasted was great, and DJ loved it. It’s the least I can do to provide the guy a good meal when he is working so hard. 

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Now for my super exciting update: The household project of the week! It may look easy to hang these pictures, but let me be very clear, it is not! DJ has a hawk-like detail-oriented eye, and he helped immensely with the measuring and hanging of the pictures. I tend to have a prideful spirit and do not like asking for help, but I truly could not have done it without him. It was awesome conquering this task together. It was also humbling seeing what just putting down my pride can do too!

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Over the next couple weeks my mom, best friend, and sister- in-law will all be in town! WOOHOOO. Friday, my mom, DJ, and I are heading to Eat/Drink San Francisco to sample food and drinks from all over the Bay area! As I told some of you, I am sure we will have plenty of suggestions for food stops to try if you come here- so stay tuned. I’m excited for DJ to have a full night off considering the last few nights have been study days late into the night and early wake-up calls. Have a wonderful rest of your week and weekend!

Wishing you a purple potato,

xo ❤

Mack