Pool Days and Study Daze

Top a’ the mornin’ to ya! Holy smokes… over two weeks have passed since an update post. I have a feeling this may be the single most random update post I do too. Plus I have some semi-monumental, semi-ambiguous updates for ya’ll regarding our future!

So, I’m sitting here this Saturday morning nomming down on some yogurt toast, drinking coffee, and have some old NYC Housewives playing in the background. I feel guilty though because I should totally be studying.

Yep! You heard that right- I am currently cramming for the GRE because I am hoping to go back to grad school next year to continue on in pursuing my dream of becoming a nurse practitioner. (I’ll talk more about this decision in another post sometime!). I have spent every little ounce of my free time (besides the moments I share here today), studying parabolas and words like “promulgate”. After the last 48 hours of the intensive neuro-close observation room, I am treating myself to a solid morning of blogging and horrible, no good, melt my brain television.

Rewinding (zrrrrr) back to Saturday, September 23rd. I went to a girls’ pool day with some of my great friends from Church. We snacked and chatted and fully relaxed. It was wonderful.

img_1776

In the evening, DJ and I headed to Eureka for a date night!!! WOOHOOO!!!

img_1777img_1778-2img_1779

I had their protein chopped salad with romaine//kale//quinoa medley//roasted beets//red onion//carrot//bean trio//feta//sunflower seeds//and red wine vinaigrette.

img_1780-2

DJ had their Bison Burger with bacon-infused jalapeno jam//charbroiled tri-color peppers//grilled onion//and smoked mozzarella.

img_1782-2

We left dinner with more than satisfied tums and walked around Main Street. I love their flowers and trees elegantly lit with lights year round.

img_1775

Sunday, September 24th after church I had an unexpected encounter and experience that would dance in my mind for the days to come. Then I came back after a long run and studied, studied, studied while DJ watched football. I love LOVE studying on the couch while football plays in the background and fall candles are lit. It reminds me of our first year of marriage back in our Indiana Toho, bring on the nostalgic feels!

Monday/Tuesday 25th-26th we both worked. Those were two of the hardest shifts I have ever had. I won’t get into it, but it resulted in my hiding behind a pyxis machine hyperventilating and covering the floor in tears. (We can’t leave the NCOR room, so I literally was trying to hide from my patients so they couldn’t see me cry). But then I had a few great shifts later in the week that made up from them. Rollaaa costa! (Ohio Players reference, anyone?!)

On another note, my hair has lost it’s umph lately. I think the stress of this year is taking quite a toll on me physically, especially lately. Naturally, I have to add to the stress by trying to apply to grad schools and study for a massive entrance exam while working on my neurosurg. research project. (eye roll). Lol. I feel like I’m epically failing at life right now- the other day I realized we were out of toilet paper, and I started crying (there’s a tear trend here) because when you hit the level where you can’t even keep on top of the TP stock at home are you doing anything right?!

Anyway- I needed some serious hair help. One of my coworkers recommended a place called Limon Salon in San Jose. I have had a hard time finding a great hair place here, but I think I finally have a winner!

img_2043-2

On Wednesday September 27th, I decided to go for more of an ash blonde for the fall with a balayage to the roots. This way I can go longer without having to get the highlights redone and nurse my hair back to health! (Maybe not “nurse” it back isn’t the correct word.. since I’m pretty sure nursing is what sucked the life out of it… harharhar). I sat in the chair and studied vocab while getting this bird’s nest taken care of, and was super happy with the results!

img_2049img_1890-7In the evenings lately, the weather has been the perfect temperature outside for a late night run. After work, I need to run to cope with the day. Having DJ tag along has been wonderful because it allows us to catch up and still get that stress out.

With the change of seasons comes the change in cravings! For breakfast most of last week and this week I have been alternating between sweet potatoes, avocado, spinach and an egg or my toast and yogurt combo. I actually don’t like the yolk of eggs very much at all, but for some reason I have been craving them lately. Anyone know why this is? (I think it might be the sulfites or something- I know I have some nutritionists out there!) So strange.

img_1889-4

I vegan meal prepped on Thursday September 28th for the week with roasted veggies (eggplant, carrots, onion, mushrooms, and peppers in garlic olive oil), roasted butternut squash, cauliflower vegan mashed potatoes, and quinoa. For lunch or dinner I mix up a combo of all the fixings with either salad, a bean burger, or meatless crumbles, hummus, and pita bread. I can’t wait to re-prep all this for the next week to come. It’s all such yummy autumn comfort food, but super(food) healthy.

img_1939-5img_2041-1img_1948-2

September 29th– Study study study.

September 30th- October 1st– Work.

werk werk werk.gif

October 2-4th: Study, Study, Study BUT………

October 4th, I had an amazing friend come in town! You may remember Dani from when her, Tammy, and I went to LA all together! You can check out those posts here and here.

She moved to Arizona as a traveling occupational therapist, but made a pit stop back here for a couple days! Gosh, I missed her something horrible. I took an Uber to Campbell to the local Aqui to meet them. It was SO crazy because the guy picked me up in a BLUE TACOMA! Blue Tacoma was one of the songs Russel Dickerson premiered on the very first time the three of us hung out. SERENDIPITOUS. We could not let this moment pass without a picture.

img_2040

img_2104

We headed into the epic Aqui (once again, how did I just find out about this place?!) and ordered drinks and apps. Dani tried their Tito’s Strawberry swirl, I tried the carlitos cadillac margarita, and Tammy also tried a mini margarita. Their drinks are fabulous. It’s what they’re known for, and they never disappoint!

img_2039-3img_2038-3

We also all split the appetizer platter with avocado Dip, Hummus and Black Bean Dip with chips. #Addictive.

img_2037-3

 

After, we headed over to Flights, a new restaurant in Campbell! DJ and I actually went here a few months ago when it was a different place, called the Socialite!

img_2033img_2035

How it works: EVERYTHING is a flight on the menu from the drinks to the food. And every single item looked too darn delicious too.

img_2031

We finally settled on their mac and cheese flight after drooling over the whole menu. It was SUCH fun and I can’t wait to go back to try more of their items.

img_2029-2

It’s such a genius idea for a restaurant.

Last night, DJ and I went out for his birthday!!! I will include a post separately to talk about where we went 🙂

I hope you all are having a wonderful start to your Autumn! I am back to hitting the books now. I apologize to all my friends and family for being super MIA this past few weeks and being the worst at returning texts and calls. I’m also so sorry (and in some serious withdrawal) since I haven’t been able to catch up on ya’lls blogs in a while too. I’d much rather be keeping in touch and seeing what everyone is up to rather than trying to figure out this high school geometry and memorizing the circumference of a circle. BUT it will be my reward to catch up when this is all over! LOVE YOU ALL.

xo ❤

signature-1

Halloween Festivities and a little bit of everything else

Long time, no see!!! I have been so busy studying the last couple weeks that I haven’t been able to do a recap post. I am finally snagging a couple minutes now to draft something out before bed. And you may just get the rough draft because I don’t think I have time to edit- so in advance I apologize for the misspellings, the grammatical errors, run-ons, and fragments.

First things first per usual: Thank you to everyone for those sweet, sweet thoughts and words on my last post. As I told many I didn’t want to write it (or at least parts of it), but I knew I needed to. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning with all those words on my heart, and knew that I needed to share ultimately to bring glory to God for what He has done. Thank you again for everyone who shared your own thoughts, experiences, and encouragement.

Also thank you to Shawna  for her nomination for the Black Cat Blue Sea Award. I loved reading your responses, hun! I wish I could take the time to respond, but time is thin lately! However, if you guys get a chance, check out this wonderful girl’s place on the web ❤

ANDDDDD Guess what?! I finally took my nursing boards (yesterday morning), and can officially put the books away, at least for a bit. I actually received my approval right after my last update post and cried tears of joy. FINALLY. After seven months, seven long months, I could finally take this stinking test. But, really, who gets that excited to take a test?! Pathetic I tell ya. I won’t find out if I officially passed them for a while, but I’m feeling okay about it. This could be really mortifying if I didn’t pass and I have to publicly announce it to about five hundred people- oh well! We will see. Positive thinking right?!

Time to rewind to October 6th. Yes it has been that long. No worries, guys, I have all the food pics. Because, like the last couple posts, all I have done is eat and study.

For DJ’s birthday dinner he wanted to do something relaxing that didn’t involve getting dressed up and didn’t involve facing traffic. We decided to try out Eureka, a place on Main Street that people rave about. Worth the rave- it was maybe my favorite place we tried on the strip.

img_1485

For an appetizer we split some bruschetta. It was yumm. Anything with a good goat cheese and a good balsamic vinegar is destined to satisfy ya.

img_1483

DJ ordered these insane little boogers. These are lobster tacos with cabbage, saffron crema, watermelon radish, and signature handcut fries. I feel like he inevitably chooses the better dish. Don’t get me wrong, I always love my meals, but I always tend to like his a touch better than what I order. The grass is always greener on the other side of the dinner table. Or maybe less green, because I tend to get a lot of salads. Anyways ..

img_1484

I did make a good move by getting these sweet potato fries. UGH they were perfection. I ordered the veggie beet burger over greens. It just sounded so strange; I had to get it. It was super delicious and filling. Them fries though….

img_1482

Friday and Saturday was the women’s conference through my church. The theme was “Wisdom”. Lord knows I need more of it. I can’t even describe how much I admire the leaders of our church. It would take me dayyys to write out all that I gleaned from just those two days. I met so many lovely new women and was inspired more than I could have ever anticipated. When I came home from the conference Saturday night DJ surprised me and had cleaned the whole apartment. This made my life. He is the best.

Back to the conference real quick: the bracelet I am wearing in the picture below is made by girls at She Rescue Home. Please check out their site if you have a chance, well worth it. They rescue girls in Cambodia from the sex trade and provide them with shelter, food, education, occupational tools and skills to provide for their family in other ways, medical care, counseling, and reintegrate them into society. That is a terse synopsis of the immense impact they are making and the expansion of what they do. The stories of these girls brought me to tears. Here are some quotes from the founder, Leigh Ramsey, that describe the situation better than I can:

“There are complex issues that contribute to a girl being vulnerable to trafficking – factors such as poverty, abuse, trickery and deception, unemployment and addiction often leading to desperation in the family.”

“But once trapped in this world of unspeakable evil, they are held captive against their will, and threatened with violence, are soon imprisoned in a world of unimaginable pain and degradation … as we say repeatedly IT’S NOT OK!”

They hand-made these bracelets for our conference, one of the tools the skills they learned through She Rescue Home, and every time I wear it I think of and pray for these precious, valuable humans that deserve so much more than the evil of this life.

img_1297

It almost feels silly to go on to talk about anything else after that, but life is a mosaic of the good, bad, deep, beautiful, exciting, mundane, simple, and silly. It keeps us balanced and keeps us sane. Can you imagine spending too much time in any of those areas? The mundane makes us appreciate excitement, and the ugly makes us appreciate the beautiful.

Saturday I was craving french toast. I have a healthy high pumpkin french toast I make every fall. It is incredibly easy and tastes like heaven. I can’t wait to share this recipe with you guys.

img_1298-2

While I was doing errands one of these days (lost track, not sure which day), I found some darlin’ little pumpkins. I would have gone alllll out on the fall decor but the studying made it so I couldn’t go out and buy all the fall things. Good thing too, I tend to go a bit overboard with the decorating when given the chance.

img_1478img_1513-2img_1512-1

Sunday after church (10/9), we went to brunch. I was craving a good brunch. It’s probably my favorite meal, and I was hitting a serious wall with studying. Brunch is always a cure all’ for the study wall. We went to a highly recommended place called Hash House. It even sounds like a good brunch place. I stepped inside and smelled the buttery toast, eggs, and roasting coffee- the intoxicating, small town, diner breakfast smell. It takes me back to Saturday mornings with my dad and my Papa at local spots in little Parma, Ohio ❤ My siblings know exactly what I’m talking about. Hello, Luna’s, Mimi’s, Demetrio’s, and My Place! My family knew the waiters and waitresses by name. I miss those days. All the nostalgic feels right now..

Now back to present day… DJ ordered a Western Hash and I ordered a Tofu Benedict, because where else have you ever heard of a Tofu Benedict?!?! It hit the spot. We also had to try an order of their pancakes- we ordered the short stack. A short stack. We thought they messed up our order and brought us a large stack. Nope. That is their short stack (it’s bigger than the picture does justice). I’d be interested to see the large! Verdict on the cakes: DJ’s mama’s are better. Besides her perfect pancakes, DJ swears the Bellagio in Las Vegas has some of the best he has ever tasted. Anyone concur?

img_1287img_1516img_1515img_1518

The rest of the week we had leftovers, and just random easy things here and there. I haven’t cooked as much as I like usually since I have been studying so hard and just have been making easy things like garden salads, pizza, grilled cheese… yada yada yada.

img_1348img_1511-1

However, one night (I think last Friday?) we went to Oren’s. I wrote all about how marvelous this Israeli food is in one of my posts. DJ and I crave this place. We like trying new places as a general rule, but man, we both were just itching to get our hands on some of their hummus and pita.

img_1508img_1375

Let us talk coffee. Lately after dinner I have been loving some decaf chai tea with a little almond milk and a Graze Chia Coconut Cookie. It is the perfect treat to help relax me to get back into study mode for the night. The Mrs. Right cup was dirty, obvi.

img_1488

I have been continuing to go to Peet’s everyday. They are truly friends at this point. They bring me out samples here and there of their latest blends, and I know longer have to tell the cashier my order. I just say, “the usual”. YES, I am one of those! I am going to miss the study “grind” simply for this reason. I will probably use blogging as an excuse to park it in Peet’s for a couple hours instead now and again 😉

img_1519

I always have either a quest bar or no cow bar on me for quick fuel. When my blood sugar drops I turn hangry real quick. DJ can attest to this. I particularly like dipping the bars in my coffee. I realize I probably look like a weirdo doing it, but that’s never stopped me. I used to lick the foam off the cup sides too, but I put my big girl pants on and stopped doing that… in public.

img_1514

Now to the highlight of our last couple weeks!!!!! Last saturday our family had a Halloween party! I can’t begin to explain how fun this was, but I’ll try. I think my cheeks still hurt from laughing. I was using this party as motivation all week long to crank out the last chunk of studying I had. It was such a nice night and helped refuel me for the last few days of cramming before the big exam. Also- it could have been a hosted Pinterest Halloween party. Every single thing was incredibly creative. Ideas galore! Our sisters that I always talk about presented us with the coolest little gift bags with our names on them and personally picked out chocolate we would love. They are incredibly creative and thoughtful, and put so much time into making this the greatest Halloween party of all time. I hope we are invited next year 😉  And, naturally, we all wore costumes, and every single one was fantastic.

img_1498img_1499-1img_1500img_1504img_1506img_1507-1

DJ and I were a play on words: I was Holy Gaucamole and he was The Second Amendment. “The right to bear arms”

img_1496

Hubby being way helpful- I was knee deep in the books so he glued on my avocados for me 🙂

img_1510

This game is a blast. No matter what age you are- this is a winner! You simply wear a  mouthpiece like the ones they use at the dentist office and have to speak a phrase that you are given. Everyone else has to guess what you are trying to say. It is hilarious. We were rolling.

img_1497

Monday night I got a text from my younger sister that there was a shooter on her college campus. They received a text from the Administration that he was heading toward the baseball fields, and she was currently in the baseball field at the time. She texted me from inside a shed in the field where she was sitting with the rest of her team. Scared me out of my mind. She was okay and hasn’t heard much about the situation since… But scary stuff. 😥

I took my exam yesterday (Tuesday), and I already explained the down low on that. Here is my obligatory “I just took my nursing boards” goofy, overly excited, why am I smiling like that selfie.

img_1352

Definitely will keep you all posted on those results.

When I got home I spent about an hour freaking out convincing myself I didn’t pass, and then DJ spent the next hour convincing me that I did pass. I told him I don’t count my chickens before they hatch, and he said he counted one nurse chicken hatching. I found it hilarious. And then I had candy corn and felt much better about life.

Random small talk note about the weather: It has been getting more fall-ish, and I am loving that. It rained a few times last week, and it was perfect study weather. I love that the seasons still have a sort of rhythm here in Northern California. I was mistaken that it was 75 and sunny everyday. While I never complain when it is 75 and sunny, the respite of rain is a nice change every now and again.

img_1371-1

We are going to a gala for our church this Friday, and I have few fancy dresses in my closet to choose from. To be honest, I am not really a big shopping fan. It overwhelms me a bit. It also seems to take forever to make sure I am making the right decision and getting the best deal. I do love me some good thrift shopping though.

DJ and I hit up the mall after the test yesterday and I actually found a dress relatively quickly. The lady checking us out was so jovial. She told us she wanted to adopt us and came around and gave us hugs after the purchase. I think it was the friendliest customer service experience I have ever had. It may have made DJ a bit uncomfortable, but I loved it! After that was off the list I was in a better mood. I don’t know if I was more anxious about taking my NCLEX or finding a dress, but regardless we conquered both (hopefully!).

After that we went to lunch at True Food Kitchen. This place just opened at Stanford shopping center in Palo Alto. I think this place was made for us. The vegan options were endless. DJ actually opted for a vegan option, although there were meat options. Once again, he chose the better meal, but he is always so kind to let me take a little big bite of whatever he orders.

img_1501img_1490img_1502-2img_1491

To start DJ ordered a honey lemonade. We also split a charred cauliflower dish with harissa tahini, medjool date, dill, mint, and pistachio. I actually have most of these ingredients right now and would love to replicate it. The combination of flavors was addictive.

img_1487

For my main dish I tried the seasonal ingredient salad with tofu. This included brussel sprouts, butternut squash, cauliflower, white beans, pomegranate, and toasted mulberry with a horseradish vinaigrette. I would never think to combine those items, but it worked soo well!

img_1489-2

DJ’s meal was the bomb.com. He had a T.L.T. Which is smoked tempeh, butter lettuce, tomato, avocado, and vegan mayonnaise. We are definitely going back to this place! I want to try everything on their menu.

img_1495

The whole day, Tuesday, reminded me that I have the greatest family and friends in the world. Before my test I woke up to the sweetest, most encouraging texts. When I came home with DJ after shopping I was greeted by a beautiful  Williams- Sonoma spiced pumpkin bread mix baking box.The silver pumpkins in the picture is the bottom of an actual pan to bake the bread in and it came with a delicious pumpkin butter spread! Also waiting for me was the most beautiful, exotic, and ME bouquet of flowers I have ever seen. They smell amazing and every time I look at them my heart melts. I was not expecting any of this, but I was touched beyond words!

Let’s talk in-laws for a hot tic… If I had to hand pick a family to marry into it would be the DJ’s. I thank God constantly for giving me a second family that showers me with unconditional love, support, and encouragement. I can’t imagine my life without them, and they truly make me feel like one of their own. Oh no, here come the water works. Someone get me a tissue! Nothin’ like an NCLEX to make a girl emotionally unstable!

img_1494img_1492

This morning I allowed myself to sleep in until 8:30! That is a BIG deal for me, ya’ll! I also was able to go for a super relaxing ten-miler in the sun. I haven’t done that in ages. It felt so good to have the music blasting a little louder than it should, the adrenaline rushing through my veins, and feeling like I could conquer the world. I haven’t had that exhilarating of a run in so long. Lately I’ve been running on the treadmill so I can study my notes and read my review book while running. You should see my books from trying to highlight while running- it’s comical. Also- I only fell once during those ten miles! That’s success in my book. You all know my inclination for the ground.

Anywho, we have my Aunt and Uncle coming in town tomorrow- YAHOOOOO! The rest of the day was groceries, cleaning, shipping boxes, catching up on a zillion emails, all that jazz that was put on the back burner while I studied. It feels good to currently be sitting in a clean house. Oh, and I didn’t forget dinner. Now that I can cook again I made a crispy coconut curry catfish from Blue Apron. I knew this week would be busy so I figured Blue Apron would be good to have on hand for a quick meal with all the ingredients already included!

img_1535-1img_1534

Last things last, we can’t forget politics. Let’s just say our household is still #SpankyTomforPresident. Nough’ said.

BUT WAIT how about them WINDIANS?!!? LETS GO CLE. World Series, baby!!!!!

Wishing you a thrilling Thursday,

xo ❤

Mack