A Valentine’s Day Weekend Recap!

Hello, friends!!! I am officially taking nominations for “worst blog friend ever” for the last two weeks. UGH! Life has been hectic and not only am I behind on responding to the sweetest comments in the world, but I’m soooo behind on your lives too. Just know I DO CARE. I was a bit cranky last night and told DJ it was “blog withdrawal”. Next week will be a teensy bit calmer and I am determined to catch up then.

But for now I have about an hour between getting my physical done for my job and my uniform fitting, so naturally I found a Peet’s on campus and am parked out to write a quick Valentine’s week update!

Ya’ll know DJ and I are foodies. And I’m alll about the whole “idea” and experience of a food experience. I live my life basically by a series of cliches, and I’m totally fine with it. For example, Valentine’s Day weekend… what type of food do you think of?  Italian, right?! Baci! Delizioso! Tutto finisce a taralluci e vino!!!! (yep, googled every single one of those words, the last phrase is my personal fave).

But really, what is more romantic than that? So naturally, I looked up some good Italian restaurants in SF. We found a place that was reasonably priced and still had reservations for Friday night called Bella. When we walked in, the ambiance was romantic perfection. It had a quaint “hole in the wall” type feel and aren’t those always the best? The staff was characteristically friendly and every bite of the food was purely a reminder that Italian food is one of God’s greatest gifts. (It was one of those meals where you pray before the appetizers, but then feel like you should pray again when the main course comes because…THANK YOU, JESUS!)

What we ordered:

House Red Wine: I would describe this as some type of Red Blend- not quite as dry as a Cab, more comparable to a Shiraz. Muy bien. Oh wait that’s Spanish.

Appetizer: Salmone e bruschetta: Wild smoked salmon and mascarpone bechamel over bruchetta. This was my favorite part of the meal.

Dinner: Aglio E Olio Cu Verdure for me: Garlic Confit, Peas, Roma Tomatoes, Zucchini, Asparagus, Bread Crumbs, over quinoa noodles (Yes you can substitute ANY dish for the quinoa noodles, which were fantastic!). I don’t remember what DJ had- but it was foodilicious. I liked his better than mine. The red sauce was to die for.

Dessert: They brought us out a complimentary custard dessert. We were so stuffed, but we had to try some! It was a cross between flan and cool whip, we couldn’t quite figure it out, but it topped up the meal nicely!

We decided to stay in SF for the night since I had a race in the morning in Sausalito! Hence, after dinner we went to a hotel that we found on Groupon for dirt cheap. We kept saying we don’t know how we got such a great deal on this place. I kept checking our receipt because I couldn’t believe they had a room for that low. But if you are in SF and need somewhere to stay, check out Groupon for the Fairmont .

img_7844img_7845img_7843

My favorite part of the hotel was the courtyard. It was decked out with twinkling lights and overlooked the gorgeous skyline of the city. DJ is the one between the two of us that has the directional sense, so he pointed out the different landmarks to me. We could see Coit tower providing an unique view than usual!

img_7751img_7752img_7754

We decided that pre-race desserts were necessary. I am a BIG believer in eating something sweet the night before a race. I always have my best runs when I have something sugar -laden in my system! For example, last year, DJ’s mom made this amazing rhubarb cobbler the night before my last half marathon and I swear that was the most significant contributing factor to having a great race that day! I also PR’d in high school on donuts. I experimented for ya, K? You can take my word for it!

We ended up choosing a red velvet cheesecake and a banana cream  pie to share. It was the perfect Valentine’s day dessert.

img_7756img_7755

Saturday

4:45 am-Wakeup Call!

img_7758-2img_7772

DJ is SUCH a trooper to always get up with me at the break of dawn for these races. He does it with such an encouraging spirit too. I am incredibly thankful for him if I don’t make that clear <3 Gonna be extra sappy because, v-tines day and all that 😉

I think he would whole heartedly agree the views were worth it. Seeing the sun rise while deep in the mountains was absolutely majestic. The waves pounded on the stone walls that lined the shore in a mesmerizing way. We couldn’t get over the beauty. And with each passing hour the sky and surrounding landscape took different forms, capturing the light in different ways, and demonstrating it’s versatile beauty profoundly.

img_7762

I ran the Coastal Train Runs Half Marathon. If anyone is considering this race, I want to give a bit of a detailed review. For those that don’t care you can totally skip this part (wait you can totally skip all of this post— but you can extra-skip this haha).

  1. When you arrive, try to carpool because you can park closer to Rodeo Beach without shuttling (and then you can wait in your car because it was freezing in the morning!).
  2. WEAR LEGGINGS! Especially if there was recent precipitation. You will be brushing up against a ton of foliage and you want to avoid getting thorns or ticks or anything like that on ya.
  3. There are two restrooms in the concrete building near the starting line. They had an additional 5 porta potties (roughly). I was able to go to the bathroom twice before the race started which is actually pretty good compared to most races.
  4. Don’t do this race as your first. (Maybe the 5k, but certainly not the half). This was the hardest half I have ever done (it’s my fifth), and I’m in some of my best shape. To give you an idea, the fastest male time was 1:33. Yeah. HARD! The first 6-7 miles feel like straight incline, so if you don’t like hills, this is NOT the one for you! (2,550 feet gained elevation). But if you want the challenge- go for it! One of my favorite things was the fact that I knew there was no way I could get my PR, so I just enjoyed it almost leisurely. I took pictures, snapchats (yes- haha), and actually tried to soak up the views around me. I have never raced leisurely like this, so it ended up being a fun, original experience!
  5. The race is not organized like most, so pay attention! When they tell you your race’s color marking strip, take note. This is not a massive race, so there are times where you may not be able to just “follow the crowd”. At times I felt super isolated in the mountains, BUT I had views of the Golden Gate to keep me company!
  6. This might be one of the most gorgeous races you will ever have the chance to run. The views are truly breathtaking. They will leave you in awe.
  7. The food stops were amazing. There were more snacks than I have ever seen (but there are only two stops the whole race- one at mile 4 (ish) and one at mile 8 (ish). There are restrooms at these two stops too, but that’s about it.
  8. There is not much cell service! If you have music you want to listen to, download the songs! I was planning on listening to Spotify, but only had about four songs downloaded. Yes- I listened to those 4 songs on repeat the entire race. HA! Needless to say, I’m not going to be listening to them again for a while.
  9. Post race- Food and snacks were ON POINT. They have alllll kinds of goodies. The fresh watermelon was my favorite. They also had beer, which I always find kind of ironic. But hey, ya earned that brewsky. (Words from a nurse- make sure you rehydrate first though!).
  10. You get to see the Golden Gate in a way you won’t be able to elsewhere. It’s incredible to run past  the notorious landmark in the mountains! Such a cool experience.

Here are some “Racy photos”. Lolololol. I can’t help myself, guys, I really can’t.

img_7773img_7774img_7775-2img_7777img_7858-1

img_7781-2img_7779-2img_7838-1img_7782-1

Personal Results:

60th place out of 267 overall

3rd in my age group

Pace: 10:24 (which makes me cringe, but that’s how hard it was ya’ll!).

Final time: 2:16.

PR: 1:39.

Chelsea, I think you should take this one because you would demolish it!

Now introducing a monumental SF food update. We have officially discovered one of the BEST brunch place in SF. (Yelp confirms this!)

S W E E T  M A P L E

Where to begin? We headed here right after the race because I was bound to be garbage disposal for all things food the rest of the day. I am not usually hungry immediately after a race, but when the hunger hits, it HITS.

img_7783

It was crowded beyond belief. I suggest dropping someone off to put your name in and the finding parking. We ended up parking down the road at a meter (the meters do accept credit/debit cards!). Take my word, patience is not my strongest fruit of the spirit to be a hundo, but it’s worth the wait!

We were seated outside and they gave us blankets to help with the chill. It was a beautiful day, but I loved the gesture and the post race chills can definitely get ya!

img_7872-1

Post race mimosa & coffee. With it only being 10:30 in the morning, the sun shining, everyone in a jovial mood, and sitting across from my love after a great and strenuous race I had a moment of, “ahhhhh it’s a perfect day” *sip*.

img_7834

If you go to Sweet Maple, you must get their millionaire bacon. It’s sorta what they are famous for. I didn’t try it, but DJ’s expression when he tried it and his verbal expression of “this is the greatest bacon ever” affirmed it’s prized position. Here’s it’s description:

As featured on “United States of Bacon” of Discovery Network. Thick, free range bacon, baked with brown sugar, cayenne, red and black pepper. 

img_7841

DJ ordered their Swedish buttermilk pancakes. Swedish pancakes are a bit thinner than normal, which is how DJ and I both prefer ours. I’m not a huge pancake person, but WOWZA. The flavor packed into these cakes blew me away! They had almost a light cake flavor to them. And their syrup is authentic Vermont maple syrup. The whole thing- sensationally delicious.

img_7833

I ordered their athenian omelette which had mixed mushrooms, arugula, olives, and goat cheese. THe giant slice of ciabatta au levain and side potatoes that came with it was my favorite part. These were the best breakfast potatoes I have ever had (even better than Los Gatos Cafe, which is saying something!). They are a medley of sweet, colored, and white potatoes in an herbed mix. Mind-blowingly delicious.

img_7837

One of my favorite parts of the meal was their jam. Oh my lanta… I’m a sucker for a good jam and this was just top-notch.

img_7784

The rest of the day we napped, I think from like 1 to 5 pm. I ran errands in the evening and DJ and I cleaned the house a bit before vegging out to watch some Dexter.

Sunday DJ and I went to the SF location of our church for the baptism service! Our church is one church, three locations- one in Palo Alto, one in San Jose, and one in SF. Palo Alto is where the lead pastor preaches and then it is broadcasted on a screen at the other locations. The worship is live at all three locations too. Since DJ has a truck (which is not a common occurrence out here), we drove down the baptism tank. It was so nice to meet some new friends that Sunday and catch up with some old ones! The service was held at a different location than usual at the Grand Theater in Mission District (an upcoming hidden gem in SF).

img_7787

There is an amazing coffee shop next door called Grand Coffee that I couldn’t pass up to start the day.

img_7786img_7785

After service we had to drain the tank then loaded back up the tank which took some time. We finally made it back home by 5 pm, and then turned around to go to dinner with from friends at Enjoy’ Seoul at 6 pm! Sushi and seaweed salad was hitting the spot after a pretty tiring  (but great) day!

img_7871-1

On Monday I went with a friend to Crepevine in Willow Glen for breakfast. This was the first time I visited Willow Glen and the strip we were on was adorable. This place is definitely going to have to be revisited for date nights! We had some delicious coffee, yogurt, and crepes!

img_7862-1img_7861-1img_7860-1

We spent the afternoon shopping for her birthday!

In the evening, DJ and I enjoyed some DELICIOUS Shari’s Berries from DJ’s mom. YUM. They came at the perfect time for Bachelor night! This take valentine’s day treats to a new level! The truffles were divine! We savored every bite. The cheesecake was insanely good and the chocolate covered strawberries were so good it made me wanna cry. Like have you ever had something so good you just think, “Is this even legal?”. Yeah… that was Shari’s Berries. Men, take note. This is what you need to get your ladies for V-tines day next year, and it’s what they want. Take it from me!

img_7839-1img_7840-1img_7850-1img_7868img_7869

Tuesday was Valentine’s Day!!! DJ and I traditionally like to stay in on actual Valentine’s Day and make either pizza or pasta and celebrate the weekend before (hence Bella’s). This time we made chicken alfredo. I made a zoodle alfredo with vegan chik’n strips in mine to make it vegetarian!

img_7857-2img_7847-3img_7836-1

On Wednesday I had orientation for Random Acts of Flowers. This is a phenomenal organization that receives floral leftover donations from florists/Trader Joe’s/etc. They then assemble them into beautiful bouquets and deliver them to assisted living facilities and hospitals. I have wanted to volunteer with them for a while, but their orientation dates always had a conflict with my schedule. Finally, I was able to get in! It’s therapeutic making the bouquets too. They are a national organization, so if you are looking for a great way to spend your free time check them out!!!

img_7867

This is the bouquet I had the pleasure of making!

img_7856-2

During day Wednesday I made an appointment for a salon I had a gift card to!!! (Thank you, Aunt Terry!!!). I had the “powder” nails done, which are apparently better for nails than acrylics and actually put vitamins into your nails too. I love them!! Wednesday night we had our Bible Study group per usual.

img_7848-2

Today (Thursday), I am getting my uniform fitting and logistical stuff done for the job!

This weekend is going to be a BIG one. I can’t wait to give you guys an update!!!

Once again- apologies for being so MIA! I am hoping to catch up next week!!

xo <3

signature-1

Advertisements

a BIG celeb, a BIG Cinnamon Roll, and a BIG Interview!

Hey friends! This morning (Wednesday while I’m writing this), I had “the” interview. I think it went well! Yesterday was officially the longest day of my life; waiting is probably the hardest part of it all. But this morning listening to worship music, reciting scripture, and receive a tremendous influx of encouraging texts made me feel so at peace. Thank you ALL for your love and support and encouragement. It has made all the difference! Regardless of what happens, I have confidence that the Lord was with me in that room, guiding me what to say, and ultimately guiding me to the best position to glorify Him- rather that’s with this hospital or another.

Anyways, this last week I have been dropping the ball on blogging. And once again the blog-cravings are STRONG as ever. Like I am getting mega-anxiety that it’s been a hot tic since I’ve been able to go over to your sites (my girl, JJ, knows what I’m talking about), AND I am so behind on comments which is definitely not okay.

However before it gets too far past,  I’ll do a little (Lol, just kidding it’s not little) recap of our past week!

But first, I will do blog awards! You guys know I am the actual worst at responding, but they mean the the world to me, and I still want to say a massive thank you. I honestly do have intentions to respond to these, it just might have to be in a slightly unconventional way or a bit late. BUT even if I don’t get around to that soon, please still check out these LOVELY people’s blog!!!!!!! Seriously some of my faves here!

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

One Lovely Blog Award from my brunch beauty  Chrissey and the journalist fashionista  Ciarra Lorren!

The sweetest makeup goddess McKenz, fabulous Miranda, genuine and lovely Terri, my dose of Florida sunshine Jenna, & the sweetest southern beauty at the Whimsical Pineapple for the Blogger Recognition Award.

& lastly, the Versatile blogger award from the ambitious, articulate, and thought provoking Diwakar Kumar!

 Wednesday (1/25)

On Tuesday night DJ and I decided we had a massive donut craving. We looked up some spots in the area that we could go to in the AM and found this super hole in the wall donut shop that had glowing reviews on YELP.

img_7141img_7142

I swear, the voice changers on snapchat never get old

img_7143

Our review: Overall we like Happy Donuts better (for me their maple was just not cutting it), but their sprinkle cake donuts were AMAZING. So, if you are going maple or glazed go to either Stan’s or Happy’s, if you are going sprinkle/cake, go to Donut Wheel. Still the best donuts we’ve had to date are Krispy Kreme and Patio’s at Lakeside’s (Lakeside is a community of cottages on the lake- one of our favorite places in the world). Just in case you missed our last donut spiel, I have to ask again- FAVORITE DONUT?!

Later that day I went to Tea Annie’s with a friend. Man, oh, man it was so needed in the thick of the stress I’ve been feeling. She is one of those people I just clicked with right from the get-go, and she encourages my heart every time I see her. So thankful for you, Jenny!

img_7144img_7145

Tea Annie’s is known for their tea (particularly bubble tea- which is SO yum), and their massive crepes. Like tell me that’s not the most delicious looking thing you’ve ever seen?! Also, who here is a bubble tea fan? Tapioca pearls- aye or nay?!

img_7146img_7149

Wednesday night DJ and I had an opportunity to lead our Bible Study group – actually I prefer the word “facilitate”. Everyone was super interactive and the conversation was phenomenal, it basically led itself. I am continually reminded how blessed we are to be surrounded by such genuine, loving, and Christ-seeking individuals. Something I absolutely love about being apart of a small group is that it’s a safe place where we all discuss the good/bad/beautiful/sad going on in our lives without judgement. We don’t expect perfection from each other and we don’t have to put on a facade when we are with one other. It’s refreshing. It’s an atmosphere of acceptance, and exactly opposite of what Christianity can often be portrayed as- hypocritical. Some of my deepest relationships since we have moved here have blossomed from these groups. If you need a community in the SV area- I can get you the hookups 😉 I promise that was not intended to be a shameless plug, even if it is!

Now Thursday. This was a serious finish-up day of prep for me. Just reviewing everything, coming to a place where I felt confident in speaking without my notes and guidelines, and just taking some deep breaths.

For dinner, I needed some therapeutic cooking (meaning attempting something kinda gourmet). I looked at all we had in our fridge and decided to make creamed spinach with bacon wrapped scallops over wild rice. I had the same, just minus the bacon. DJ said, and I quote, “This is out of this world.” I think I almost choked on my spinach. I have never received an “out of this world”. Like I don’t even care if I get this job anymore- I got an “out of this world” referring to my cooking. I don’t know if DJ realizes how much that made my life right there!

img_7223

img_7150

Friday

We didn’t have any particular plans set Friday night, but our parents gave us their tickets to go to Bob Saget at SJ Improv!!! Uh yeah… THE Bob Saget! Thanks again guys (if you happen to read this). Right before we decided to grab dinner at an Italian Restaurant. We haven’t had Italian in a blue moon and were both craving it.

We found this little treasure called Il Fornaio. It wasn’t horribly pricey like many of the other italian restaurants we were seeing. The waiting staff was some of the friendliest I have ever encountered at any restaurant. Them Italian folk-gotta love them. I sometimes wish that I was born Italian, or Greek. Greek seems fun too.

img_7151

Naturally, we filled up on way too much bread before. Where my carb junkies at? HOLLA!

img_7152

I had the rustichella which is flatbread topped with goat cheese, mozzarella, tomatoes, red onion, kalamata olive, basil and oregano and baked in the oven. It HIT the spot. I don’t usually drink white wine, but it sounded like it would pair well with this- it definitely did!

img_7154

DJ ordered the Pennoni Alla Vodka with large pasta tubes with bacon, vodka-cream-tomato sauce, and Grana Padano.

img_7196img_7198

Then it was off to see Bobby in Improv!!! Ok- I have got to say- it was quite raunchy. By quite I mean really really raunchy. Don’t expect Danny Tanner up on that stage. He actually mentioned that. He said, “People wonder why I’m not more like Danny Tanner, what would I do- clean your glasses and mop the floor?” Lol. That was one of his cleaner jokes 😉

img_7156img_7159

Technically we couldn’t take pictures, but I needed just one for proof and all that jazzz.

img_7200

Saturday morning I had some errands to run while DJ went to play basketball. In the afternoon we watched his little sister play in her All-Star game. I have had so much fun attending theses games, I don’t want them to end!

In the afternoon I did some marathon training! I randomly signed up for one on the 11th of February  yesterday so I decided I should make sure I could actually go thirteen miles. I also am signed up for the Big Sur marathon, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to race that due to the job uncertainties.

**When I get stressed out I sign up for races like people do retail therapy- is that normal? Anyone else do that?**

By the time I was finishing up my run the sun was setting. It was gorgeous out and I soaked up every second of that run. The picturesque landscape continues to take my breath away (or maybe that was the running?)

img_7163

SUNDAY! 

Wow. Sunday was one for the books! It was another beautiful day. I don’t know what this thing called “sunshine” is that decided to come back to California, but it made an appearance and I wasn’t even upset about it.

img_7166-1

Below is one of my dear friends named Kim. She is pretty much the cutest human on planet earth. Love her so much!

It was one of my favorite Sundays of ALL TIME. Our church presented for the first time VIVE people. Miracles do still exist. I’m telling you- they do, and this story is proof of that!

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fvive.church%2Fvideos%2F1211872025577198%2F&show_text=1&width=560

If you don’t read the rest of my post please check out that video. But grab tissues first!

After Church I went and had brunch with my friend, Sara. She grew up in Los Gatos and knows ALL the good spots. (She’s who I went to Santa Cruz with a couple months ago).

img_7177img_7167

Allow me to present… the most epic cinnamon roll of all time. She told me this was necessary to get if you go to Los Gatos Cafe. I understand why. I’m not a big cinnamon roll person, but this blew my socks off. I took a bundle of pictures because this is too insanely incredible not to share.

img_7169img_7172img_7173

The lesson is… if you come to Northern California, stop by Los Gatos, particularly Los Gatos cafe and order there cinnamon roll. Before this the only cinnamon roll I really loved were Cinnabon’s. Now I am convinced that these are better. DJ says it is a contender when I brought him home some leftovers. That’s huge!

Oh and that’s not all…

We also ordered actual meals because one giant cinnamon roll is just not enough on a Sunday Brunch. I had their seafood benedict with scrambled egg whites (instead of eggs), served over an english muffin with avocado and hollaindaise (on the side). This was fantastic, but my favorite part may have even been the potatoes. Such great breakfast potatoes. Not sure what they use, but good heavens.

img_7174

After, we went on a quick walk around the neighborhood. The surrounding area is super eccentric, so it was fun to see the houses and decor. It also was a lot quieter than where we live so it was nice walking around a suburb like that- it felt a little bit like Ohio to me!

img_7179

img_7178-1

Love her <3

Monday and Tuesday were filled with trying to stay calm, coffee, trashy reality shows, and the Bible… which do not go hand in hand, but I’m just being honest with ya’ll.

Now today and tomorrow and probably a good chunk of this weekend I am going to try and catch up on some blogging! We also have dinner plans with my brother tonight in the city and tomorrow night we are going to some friend’s for dinner. I should hear tomorrow or Friday if I got the job!!!! I will certainly let you all know!

img_7180

Blog Birthdays:

No birthdays this week BUT we do have some big ones coming up next week that I am very excited about!

xo <3

signature-1

A little Update for the Road

Hey guys! I just bombarded  your feed with recipes… which is fine and dandy, but let’s mix it up and throw in an update post for the road 😉 I have to get this one done because if I don’t then the next one is going to be impossibly long!

I had to share these beautiful flowers with you that a sweet friend from Church gave me for passing my nursing boards. It was one of those things I just never saw coming, and it touched me deeply!

img_3161

During the day on Wednesday I went to Peet’s Coffee Shop to organize my life, which is no small feat. On the way I was chatting with my mom on the phone and was pulled over. This was my first ever ticket because apparently you can’t talk on the phone in California? News to me, but I learned my lesson. Hands free ya’ll- HANDS FREE. I was sobbing in Peet’s parking lot. Yes, I am that girl. That girl who get’s in trouble and then cries about it an unnecessary amount. 😜

Thursday DJ and I made an impromptu trip to Sacramento, CA to see the Lakers vs. Kings. Not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I feel like in California I show up to everything under-dressed. Everything! Including this basketball game. It’s a basketball for Golly John sakes. This means tennis shoes, jeans, t-shirt, pony tail acceptable…. RIGHT?! Obviously not. At least not in California. These ladies were dressed to the nines . Ok that’s an exaggeration, but I still felt out of place. I couldn’t believe I forgot to to wear my little black dress to the B-ball game, because everyone else got the memo?! Excuse my while I go polish my high-heels to watch a bunch of seven-foot men drip with sweat and exchange profanities. JK JK, I’m being dramatic, I love the game and I was happy to represent Nike.

img_3115img_3107img_3108img_3109img_3106img_3138

This couple below are the cutest I have seen in my whole life. Their 40th anniversary was the same day as the game, and they renewed their vows on the court. It was so sweet. Melted my heart!

img_3110img_3111

Also

in California, they sell Komboucha on draft at games. Just when I don’t think this place can get any better…

img_3112

I may not have the Cali outfit, but I will drink up all that Cali Kamboucha!

img_3116

After we met up with a friend and chatted for a good chunk of time.

We didn’t end up getting home until 3 am. It was worth every second. When seeing our exit road sign I felt a sense of exhausted relief, and hearing nothing but asphalt under the tires when turning onto that exit ramp, I realized this is home. This is truly our home. Rather than seeing that road sign as another directional tool on the GPS system, I saw it as our treasured destination, our oasis. We have memories that flood this place already, and I realized that at this point after five months here, this has become home not only physically but in my heart. Oh gosh, getting all cheesy now. But really- from knowing the little repairs that need done that we keep forgetting to submit a maintenance request for, to the way the wall creaks about three seconds after you flush the toilet, to the way the guest room is always cooler than the master, to our fire alarms going off every five seconds (not my cooking-system malfunction 😉 ), to knowing how to make the proper u-turns at which times and which routes to take to avoid traffic, and knowing our neighbors probably will show up tomorrow to ask for cilantro….This has become our home. And I love it so dearly.

Back to a less sappy tempo!…

On Friday I applied for jobs- I will not officially start my nursing job until February/March, which is an awkward “in between” time after the holidays. So I will be looking for a temporary something or another in the meantime!

Saturday we did our Christmas shopping!!! I LOVE Christmas shopping. I know it can usually be considered stressful, especially when finances come into play, but it’s such an exhilarating feeling when you find something that is perfect for someone. How do you all feel about it? We had a blast at Stanford shopping center.

img_3117

Subliminal message ^^^

Seeing the Christmas trees popping up all over make my heart happy.

img_3120

Does the below restaurant look familiar?! In one of my recap posts we went to True Food Kitchen. We usually like to try new places when presented the option, but this time we both agreed we had to go back to try more of their menu. It did NOT disappoint.

img_3118img_3121img_3119img_3123img_3122

We ordered the Edamame Dumplings with the dashi, white truffle oil, and asian herbs. We both agreed that they were worth every little nibble. Truly one of the best appetizers we have ever had. DJ ordered the grass fed steak tacos with avocado, greek yogurt, cilantro, pickled onion, anasazi bean, and cojita cheese. I ordered the Butternut Squash Pizza with smoked onion, organic kale, vegan almond ricotta, and dried cranberry. As usual, we were blown away! Plus, they are all recipes that I think would be pretty easy to recreate! OK- who am I fooling. I probably cannot get la comida this good.

img_3124img_3134img_3135img_3125

Sunday was incredibly busy, but wonderful nonetheless. We had Sunday services and then had a wonderful dinner with friends from Church. I didn’t snag any pictures but you have to take my word for it that the food was Friendsgiving perfection.

Something happened Monday that made wonder if pigs were flying. DJ said he wanted to learn to cook. I think my eyeballs looked like they were going to come out of my head. I just thought it was too good to be true. Immediately we cooked up a recipe right then and there. Better believe I took advantage of this rare has-never-occurred occasion while it was there. If anyone sees my husband and wants to return him, that’s fine. But for now this imposter will do.

img_3128

First we made garlic cauliflower mashed potatoes. I absolutely will be posting a recipe for this soon! I am overloading ya’ll with recipes though, so I’ll hold off on posting that one. Build up the anticipation and all that jazz.

img_3092

Then we made for dinner our vegan tacos, which may be found here.

img_3097img_3142

Tuesday morning we rolled ourselves out of bed at 6 am to get donuts from a supposedly famous Donut place called Stan’s. I think we agreed that, unfortunately, they weren’t quite up to the hype. Donut snobs we are. However DJ said their plain glazed were spectacular. I’m nutty about my Maple Bars though, and I definitely liked Happy Donuts better from the last post! HOWEVER, if you like super doughy donuts compared to the light and fluffy, you would probably like these. What is your favorite type of donut? ‘Says a lot about person in my opinion 😉

img_3132img_3140img_3133

In the afternoon I went for a long run. It was a brilliantly gorgeous day. At one of the intersections I heard a couple debating if brown rice or quinoa was better. Welcome to California, ladies and gents.😎

img_3131

DJ and I have also been doing Insanity together (workout program). Anyone else?

Wednesday, oh our dear Wednesday. Wednesday was a GREAT day, but also a bit of an emotional one. Currently we have some BIG (but good) decisions ahead of us. Hopefully more to come on that. Why not build some more suspense ?! 😝

Anyways, during the day I got pedicures with a girl I just met at church Sunday! It was relaxing as could be, and we connected so well. Also, I haven’t had my toesies done in a LONG time, so this was a great treat.

img_3139

I tried to go for a deep maroon, but they definitely turned out looking black. It’s fine. Just in time for post- Halloween season, yah? This happened with my hair once too. We won’t talk about it 😜

img_3210

Wednesday night we needed to get out, just the two of us with no distractions. This weekend is insanely busy so we are treasuring this one-on-one time now. I also was exhausted and had zero energy to cook anything. Panino Giusto opened up recently near us on Main Street so we decided to give it a go after walking around town. This place is well known for their paninis, and I certainly see why! DJ opted for their famous Prociutto Cotto Savoy- cooked ham, mozzarella, EVOO, and arugula. I ordered their smoked salmon panini. Oh my lanta, I could live on the stuff.

img_3169img_3167img_3168img_3163img_3162img_3170

My olive oil and balsamic looked like a face with a little top-hat, so I had to snap a picture. 🙃

img_3165img_3166img_3164

Now the absolute best part of this post- Wednesday our niece was born!! She is absolutely perfect, and I can’t wait to meet her <3 We will see her over Christmas! We love you dearly from afar baby Kate. Love Aunt Kenzie and Uncle DJ <3 <3

img_3197

Today we went to our sister’s (DJs side) volleyball game! She is a champion!!!! Woohoo! I should have snagged pictures, but there was too excitement in the moment to even think of it. After we were going to head straight home but the traffic was going to be insane. We decided to grab dinner somewhere in Palo Alto. Sam’s Chowder house has an award winning lobster roll and was voted the best seafood restaurant in the Bay area by the San Francisco A list, so, naturally……..

img_3199img_3198img_3203img_3202

I tried the Seafood Risotto. It has bay scallops, calamari, bay shrimp, mussels, Manila clams, pumpkin puréed risotto, lobster broth, and tomato. I have leftover sitting in the fridge and I cannot wait to dig in tomorrow for lunch.

img_3200

DJ had the lobster roll, and you better believe I had a big bite. Yep, this made all our lobster roll dreams come true until the end of time.

img_3201

Oh me. Oh my. I could eat this till I die. It was just pure lobstery bliss.

That’s all I have folks. Not a super eventful week (besides my niece being born, which is the greatest thing ever), but anyway a lot of processing… figuring things out.. trying to see where this whole thing called life is going.

I am thankful for the adventure. Thanks for sharing in it with us.

xo <3

Mack

A Mountain Lion Scare and Food with Flare

****** WARNING: An asinine amount of food pictures to follow. Ya’ll have your snacks ready? Ok, good. Let’s goooo!**********

Woah now, put on the breaks there! Getting ahead of myself..First,  I want to thank TheHangryRunner for the nomination for the Mystery Blogger award. It’s so hard for me to find time to write a post to respond, but the nomination means so much!

Okay, off we go now 🙂

Our Aunt and Uncle on DJ’s side came in town Thursday. My side was here a couple weeks ago! Just in case anyone was momentarily confused. We have been excited to see them as they live in Ohio and the last time we saw them was in April! Fun side note: Our Aunt actually published a humorous, high-energy book series. I know I have a few writers that follow this blog, so I’ve provided the link to her blog page to check them out if interested 🙂 Highly entertaining and relatable!

When they arrived they gave us an incredible gift. This is one of those times that I was reminded that, yes, we live in the twenty-first century where technology is just INSANE. Allow me to present a smart pan called Pantelligent. Yes- you heard me right. A SMART PAN. It has a temperature sensor in the actual pan body and connects to an app on your phone. You tell the app what you are cooking, and it reads the pan, telling you what temperature to set the pan to, when to flip the food, when to turn up the heat or turn it down, etc. Mind blown.

img_2841img_2842

We had some champagne, toasting to family and new adventures. We showed them around our place and Main Street and noticed it was just about dinner time. Naturally, whenever we have visitors who are sushi fans we have to take them to Yuki. It’s such a hole in the wall place, but the fact that you have to wait so long for a table even on a week night exemplifies this is the best sushi around. Yes- to all my girlfrans who are sushi lovers, come visit me here and we WILL go to this place.

img_2727-1

After dinner, we parted ways for the evening. Around 9:45 we got a knock on the door. I had met our neighbors that just moved in the day before and we did the casual “Come by if you need anything!” I definitely meant it, but was surprised how quickly they took us up on it! Sure enough, 9:45 pm on a Thursday night, stopping by to “borrow” lettuce… when we have a grocery target across the street that’s open till midnight. We happily gave them lettuce, but it was hilarious. Last night they came by for cilantro. We are taking bets on what they are gonna swing by for next!

Now for a wild story. Allow me to tell you about one of the scariest moments in my ENTIRE life…And I thought Halloween was over.

Friday I decided I wanted to run to the top of my favorite trail running mountain. It seemed like a great challenge. It’s about four miles inclined up, and at certain points you can feel pretty isolated, especially in the woods. I have been running on my own since I was like two years old, so I usually don’t usually feel too nervous on tucked away trails. I can certainly be naive… I realize. I trotted happily ? exhaustively ? happily exhaustively taking in the spectacular view, the inviting winding path. My legs burned something fierce trudging up that incline, but I wanted to make it to the top with every ounce of my being.  I was running through the last section of forest and foliage, then the top of the mountain came into view. I felt a renewed energy and pushed to get to the top.

img_2748-1
The beginning of the last stretch
When I was only maybe 100 feet from my destination, I heard the most terrifying noise. A big ole’ angry cat snarl. . The kind of sound you would hear on the Animal Planet. It sounded like the creature was up the hill next to me and close. I didn’t want to look.  I had one of those moments where I just froze. The fright turned to flight, hello sympathetic nervous system! I turned around and booked it down the mountain. (Which is the exact opposite of what you are supposed to do if you encounter a mountain lion, mind you). I have never run so fast in my entire life.

snow white.gif

Another thing about mountain lions is they stalk their prey. So even when I felt I was away from the area I heard the snarl, I still didn’t feel at ease. I was praying incessantly and imaging the headlines in tomorrows paper, “Woman, Only Twenty-Two, became Mountain Lion’s Dinner” “Never run away from a Mountain Lion: Deadly Attack when Woman loses her Common Sense and Her Life”. I would be featured on the TV show 1000 Ways to Die, and I would forever go down on the Wiki page of the handful of recorded mountain lion attacks in North America.

200.gif

You guys know I’m one for the dram’, and to be honest none of that was going through my head, besides begging God to get me back to safety and to make my legs go faster. 

A little over a half mile down I saw a woman hiking up the path. Hallelujah, praise Him above. I have never been so relieved to see another human being. I ran up to her out of breath and shaking tremendously. I didn’t realize just how scared I was until I tried to speak and nothing came out. Finally, I calmed down and just repeated, “Mountain lion” over and over and pointed up the hill. First she asked if I actually saw it and I shook my head. Then she calmly explained that she has lived in this area for 47 years and has hiked this trail for 16 without ever seeing a mountain lion. She assured me that it was probably a harmless bobcat.

I explained how I was so frustrated I was that close to the top but just didn’t quite make it. She helped convince me that I had nothing to worry about if I wanted to attempt the mission again. Well now, I certainly didn’t want to call it quits. She continued to assure me that I was safe and that she was right behind me if anything were to happen. I know it’s crazy that I even contemplated going back, but in the moment my pride was blinding me. K? I ran without thinking, to the top, snagged a few pictures, and then descended that mountain quicker than I probably would have in any other situation. I don’t think I will ever do that trail alone again, at least not without some kind of bear spray (works for the lions too).

img_2750img_2749

Here is proof that the mountain-lion-bob-cat didn’t get me. Also, I never have a good hair and makeup day at the same time. I had to record the anomaly.

img_2731

 Since our Aunt and Uncle were still in town on Friday, we planned to have dinner at the GREATEST RESTAURANT in San Francisco. Say Whaa? The best in all of SanFran? What is this place? It is called *dramatic hand twirl* Farallon. Located in Union Square, it’s known for featuring exquisite costal cuisine; aka this pesca’s dream come true. DJ and I (and mama bear) sampled food from Farallon when we went to the Eat Drink SanFran event, and knew this was a place we would have to venture to at some point. I was ecstatic when our Aunt and Uncle suggested it.

img_2729-1

This was easily the most unique and impressively themed restaurant I have ever seen. Like I said, it’s known for it’s seafood, and everything about the restaurant created the illusion that you were in an underwater oasis. There were actual jellyfish fixtures that hung from the ceiling. JELLYFISH CHANDELIERS, GUYS. The seats were designed so you felt like you were sitting in a pink velvet shell. The walls were a marine teal and lined to illustrate coral in certain areas. The restaurant mastered the art of creating a high-end, luxurious and classy underwater sanctuary.

img_2743-1img_2744-1img_2730-1img_2745-1img_2732-1img_2733-1

Our Aunt and Uncle encouraged me to take pictures, I obliged without a fuss, because ya’ll know I like those food pics 😉

First we started with caviar. I have never had it, and neither had DJ (or at least it’s been a while). It was so full of bursting umami flavor and the chives, onions, and light cream sauce just caused a flavor explosion in my mouth. I understand why people revere caviar as such a treat!

img_2734-1

We decided to do the tasting menu because what better way to make your way around the delicacies?!

We started with a local halibut crudo with basil oil, serrano chili & crisp shallots over grilled moon drop grapes. We raved about how the flavors complimented each other perfectly.

img_2736-1

Next we had pan roasted sole with brussel sprouts, beurre rouge & dungeness crab. Holy Moly. This was definitely a crowd favorite for the evening. This dish rode the line between delicate and savory perfectly.

img_2739-1

Next up was the Gnocchi & Cayucos Abalone with rosemary butter, smoked trout roe, & aged balsamic. This. Thissss. I can’t even begin to describe the flavor. I will do it injustice no matter what I say!

img_2737

Next we had the Reichardt Farm Duck with cinderella pumpkin & chestnut chai. By this point we were getting pretty full, but had to try it. Even though I don’t eat meat, when something like this is placed in front of me there ain’t no way I’m passing it up. I tried a little bite and decided it tasted like steak. If you like steak, you would love this! My favorite part was the pumpkin. It reminded me of sweet potato puree and the chai butter was the perfect sweet touch.

img_2740-1

What?! There is more? You betchya. Below is a baked pear with vanilla ice cream, pomegranate seeds, and a delicious macadamia nut cookie. Move over Betty Crocker!

img_2741-1

The best part of the night wasn’t even the food. It was the treasured quality time with family and conversation about everything and anything. I send a big thanks to our Aunt and Uncle for allowing me to document this evening, and for making this unforgettable night happen. You guys spoiled us!!! xo

img_2742-1

DJ and I woke up with a craving for two things: Donuts and The Office. We started this Office/Donut tradition back in Indiana in our little townhouse. We would occasionally just spend a morning binging the office and eating delicious donuts from Poppy’s (the ONLY donut shop for miles). Now we have about ten fantastic options within a ten mile radius. Thank you, California. We always get a healthy amount, and I freeze whatever donuts we don’t eat. Not kidding- just throw them in the freezer, then when you get that craving, microwave um’ and they are good as new whenever you want! I like the Maple donuts, DJ likes plain glazed or cinnamon sugar. What are your favorites?

img_2752-1img_2747-1img_2692-1

Like I said, there are tons of highly rated donut shops near us, so we will definitely be making our ROUNDS, because they bring us a HOLE lot of joy. Just a little SPRINKLE of humor for ya.

Saturday night we met with friends from Church to try some authentic Ethiopian food. This place was about as authentic as it gets. I was so giddy when I stepped in and saw this little tikki hut. Anything tikki can put one in a good mood, Amirite?!

img_2753img_2754-1img_2756-1img_2758-1img_2757-1

We started with Sambusa, which reminded me of a Samosa from India. I would describe it like a spinach pie with lentils. DELISH, especially with whatever barbecue sauce this was.

img_2759-1

We had our food served to us on a silver platter. Literally. How great is that. We tried the meat and veggie sampler. Ethiopian food is the kind of thing you definitely do NOT want to try on a first date and no- you are NOT given silverware for the main course. They took away our forks. HA! You use the spongy Injera (pancake like substance) to scoop the food.

img_2760-1img_2761img_2762img_2763-1

We left so stuffed. The food was delicious and like nothing I have ever had. The injera was actually painless to use and scooped the food super easily. I would highly recommend it!

This place just opened up near us and we gave it a go Monday. I was planning on cooking, but I applied for my first nursing job Monday and had a massive headache after slaving over the application for about four hours. DJ suggested we try it out. Conclusion: We will be back!

img_2765-1img_2766-1

After completing that application I felt the need for some Halo Top. My two favorite flavors are the strawberry and birthday cake.. MMM mmm. This stuff has the health factor and taste factor dowwwn- low calorie (280 for the pint), high protein, and low fat. It is probably the best replica out there of real ice cream.

img_2769img_2768img_2767

Tuesday- I did something I have never done before! I made Tacos. Go ahead and laugh. I know it’s pretty unbelievable that I’ve never made them. I basically only cook bizarre things, remember?! I’ve made taco salad, “taco-like” options, and vegetarian wraps but never just plain Jane tacos. No worries, I did garnish it with cilantro to stay true to myself. #TACOTUESDAY, ya’ll. DJ has been craving them and I decided to try my hand at the little guys. I was shocked at how easy they were to make, and they made the house smell delicious. He said I nailed them. If you know me, there are very few compliments you can give me that are better than complimenting my cooking. For my meal, I made a garden salad with tons of veggies, pickled onions, pickled beets, beet hummus, vegan chicken strips, and balsamic vinegar.

img_2855img_2846img_2845

I won’t get all political because I know you guys have enough of that, but I hope you were all able to make it to the polls!

OHHH! Last thing- I finally posted my Healthy French Toast recipe. 🙂

Hope you guys are all doing well! Can’t wait to see my Ohio and Dallas fam in about a month! Counting down!

Wishing you a toasty week,

xo <3

Mack

Serious about Sushi

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

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

IMG_7534IMG_7535IMG_7536

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

IMG_7547

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

IMG_7575IMG_7615

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

Here are a few of our most interesting samplings:

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

IMG_7572

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

IMG_7619.JPG

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

IMG_7587

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

IMG_7571

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

IMG_7588

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

IMG_7596

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

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

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

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

IMG_3719

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

IMG_7569

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

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

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

IMG_7576

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

IMG_7574

Wishing you alotta those^,

xo <3

Mack