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

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