Los Angeles- WEHO Part Two

I thought my traveling/exploring was done for the year, and yet I have one of my ALL-TIME favorite ever travel posts to share with you! This reminds me you just never know what adventure lies around the corner. The first part was a joy to write, but I’m especially excited to share part two!!! (You can check out that first part here).

Sunday morning, I woke up and went for another nine-miler. I turned up my worship music and listened to it the entire time I ran. My favorite worship song is “In Christ Alone”. What’s your favorite? We wanted to try out a church in the area like Hillsong or C3 LA, but with the driving/activity we had planned for the day it would have been hard to do it all. Next time for sure!!!

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We had been looking forward all weekend to trying out Jessica Biel’s restaurant Au Fudge. This is designed for couples/parents with kids, but we couldn’t resist. Everything about it screamed “Basic girl’s paradise”.

Basically how it works- you can choose to drop your kids off for the duration of your meal and au pairs watch them in the cutest little daycare center. They have tons of activities year round and if you want to dine with your kiddos, there is a precious list of delicious choices for them too. The menu options  for adults (especially the drinks) are hilariously witty & cute. Go check out that link above to see their adorable list of momma friendly options!

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The food was fabulous as well. And incredibly photogenic!

  • Bacon Breakfast Sandwhich: Cheddar, avocado, rosemary digonaise, fried egg, brioche bun served with breakfast potatoes & melon
  • Chicken and Waffles: Buttermilk Waffles & Crispy fried chicken nuggets, spicy maple syrup
  • Vegan Hash: Potatoes, spinach, avocado, & fennel “sausage”

For drinks: Dani tried their bloody mary, I tried the grapefruit mimosa and coffee, and Tammy and Dani tried their green tea matcha latte!

For dessert: We couldn’t resist the vanilla birthday cake milkshake. Tell me that is not just the most darling dessert you have ever seen! They even gave us a couple pieces of complimentary fudge after which I found to be the sweetest thing ever (PUN TOTALLY INTENDED!).

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After Brunch, Tammy took us to Runyon Canyon Park. This is where a lot of celebs will go hiking. See, this is why it’s great to go with someone who knows the area, because I would have never known this place even existed!!!!

* We didn’t actually spot anyone, but we speculated those covered with scarves, hats, and sunglasses on a cloudy day were probably “someone”.

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It was an AWESOME hike. The views of LA were insane. The clearness of the skyline was apparently a rare sight. Even though we were a bit unlucky with the rain, it meant we were able to see this beautiful overlook! But HINT: go to the bathroom before because there are not many options (meaning none) on the hike. I was doing the potty dance the whole way down the mountain.

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The pups we saw were SO. CUTE. I had serious puppy fever after the hike. I’m pretty sure Tammy was considering kidnapping a french bulldog at one point too 😜hahaha.

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After our hike, we went back to the Air bnb and got ready for the rest of the day. I am a neat freak right before I go to bed (like all dishes must be done, all rooms must be clean and picked up), but throughout the day the rooms in our home look like this- especially the bedroom/closet/and bathroom. DJ says, “Tornado Mack went through” . Dani kindly snagged this picture for her snap story- HA. I swear it was clean 20 minutes before she took this!

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Once we were ready for the day we headed to Melrose Place!!! We saw Fred Segal’s (the original department store), and tons of other infamous shopping locations!

We had to stop in Magnolia Bakery, just because it’s too darn cute. Tammy grabbed an ice coffee while we were in there, and we just snagged a whole bunch of pictures! I hear their cupcakes are divine, and I’d love to try them sometime!

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And of course…. we couldn’t leave West Hollywood without getting pictures by these famous  walls…

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Or stopping in D A S H! (prices were not quite as bad as I had expected!!)

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It was a bit chilly and I was craving a coffee or a pick-me-up by this point in the afternoon. All the coffee shops were out the door so we stumbled across Alfred’s Tea. This is apparently a super famous place, but we just wanted some coffee or tea gosh darnit. It was a long line, but Tammy had stopped in another store and said to take our time getting something to drink. Dani had her first bubble tea and I tried the kamboucha! By the time I got up to the cash register, I was feeling the cold drink more than the hot. It was crowded in there!

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Such a sassy little tea shop!

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For dinner, we had reservations at PUMP (another of Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurants). We didn’t hit Villa Rosa- the third and last, but maybe next time! I can’t describe truly in words how spectacular PUMP was. I swear, it was easily the most stunningly decorated restaurant I have ever been to. Think- garden oasis, chandeliers, fairytale all wrapped up in one place. Plus, the menu wasn’t outrageously expensive. (Yes- expensive, but not like you would expect somewhere like this to cost!). The food was divine.

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AND GUESS WHO WE BUMPED INTO!?!?!? That’s right- Conrad Ricamora (Oliver from How to Get Away With Murder). I think I freaked out more about seeing him than the Bachelor contestants. Ok, it’s a toss up. But he was SO sweet about getting a picture with us. I always hate to be that person, but come on, CONRAD RICAMORA!

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For dinner, they start you off with artisan bread with salted butter and chives with olive pieces in the bread. I’m such a big olive fan, so anything with olives…send it my way! I think I ate half the bread myself (thanks for helping a little, Dani). Tammy- next time, I’m making you try it. 😜

ALSO… SALTED BUTTER! See! **If you didn’t hear my rant in a previous post, basically I think salting your bread and butter is the BEST and only way to eat it, and apparently Farallon and PUMP agree 😉

While waiting for our table, they offered us drinks from the bar, but I didn’t finish mine and had to resort back to good ole’ red wine. This place and the ambiance demanded it!

Tammy and I had the Tiger Prawn and Farro Salad. This included tiger prawns tossed with farro grains, baby arugula, dried fruits, scallions, cucumbers, micro cilantro, and candied pecans in a light lemon citronette. This may be one of my favorite meals I’ve ever had. I am definitely going to try to recreate it at home.

I also ordered a side of the wasabi cauliflower mashed potatoes. Not gonna brag, but I think the ones I make are a bit better 😎

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Dani tried the chicken milanese with lightly breaded chicken breast, pan-fried with fresh lemon, served with Lisa’s homemade potato salad with scallions and turkey bacon and a small arugula salad with pine nuts, tomatoes, and red onion.

I have to say- Lisa’s homemade potato salad may be the best potato salad I have ever had!😋

On Monday morning, I ran about six miles at 6:30 AM then we scrambled to get the air b n’ b clean before getting on the road. We stopped into Urth Caffe one last time to grab some quick on-the-go fuel.

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I tried their green tea matcha muffin  with their green tea match latte (JJ, I know you’re freaking out, girl- yes, it was the muffin was as good as it sounds!). Like I said in my last post, it would be DANGEROUS if this place was nearby. I would probably live here!

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At 9 am we were on the road and heading to Warner Bros. studio!

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Lucky for you, I’m going to take you on the tour with us! We were able to see the back and front set of the studio- and it was MAMMOTH! I had no idea this studio was so huge. You see the staircase at the very back of the alley? That’s where the famous spiderman kiss was filmed!

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Look familiar?? Luke’s Diner!

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How about this one? Miss Patty’s dance studio! 

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Mona’s House from Pretty Little Liars

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THE GILMORE GIRLS’ HOUSE!

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The famous Gazebo from Gilmore Girl’s is below too!

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This is the ladder autographed that Lady Gaga jumped off of from the Super Bowl this year!

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I loved seeing the Dexter chair and the Full House “house”. Although, we have the real painted ladies right here in SF!

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We were able to see where they stored all the bat mobiles!

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Dani and I did the green screen for Harry Potter and were incorporated into a video- it was so much fun and the nerd was just oozing out of us!

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Here is my imitation of Phoebe’s famous run right where she did it!

And our favorite- getting this picture on the Friend’s set <3

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It was about a three hour tour, and so worth it. I can’t begin to even cover all the epic knowledge you learn about the pure magic of creating a movie/TV show. My mind was blown! Hands-down worth your time!

We were super hungry after but didn’t want to take too long to get lunch. Tammy found this darling cafe called Olive & Thyme, and we ordered food to go! Tammy said it may have been the best tuna sandwich of her life and the avocado toast with poached eggs that I had was absolutely superb. The coffee was not so great though. If you go, get a latte instead of just plain ole’ joe!

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On our way out we spotted Katie Holmes. We walked right by them and I took about a million photos secretly and to my elation (and surprise) a couple turned out!

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We then headed back, leaving behind the marvelous City of Angels, but taking some unforgettable memories home with us.

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We hit some horrible weather on the way home and it reminded me of gripping the steering wheel as I did so many times in Ohio. I was under the impression this didn’t happen in California? We looked on the news the next morning and the route we had taken home was impassable and entirely flooded. We got out of the thick of it just in time! (We also made it home for Bachelor just in time).

Truly I could not have asked for a better first experience of LA! I can’t wait to go back. Thanks for sharing in our adventure with us!!!

xo <3

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Whirlwind of a Week

Well, ya’ll! I just want to take a moment and thank everyone for their sweet and kind words from our anniversary and wedding posts. (Also- I will finish the road trip eventually, promise!) RECAP time!

Thursday 8/4:

Thursday morning we came back from Monterey and spent the day unpacking, cleaning, and ordering DJ’s books for school. Thursday night I went hiking with one of the community groups I joined from church. It was a beautiful hike at Montavlo Arts Center in Saratoga. There is a gorgeous Renaissance style mansion that has a pavilion for concerts, plays, etc., but the surrounding mountain makes for excellent hiking. Out of all my hikes here so far, I have not gone out at dusk. From now on this is when I am going to do them. The cool, dusky air and the way the sunlight pierces the trees with the vibrant oranges and reds surrounding the mountains is enchanting. I did have one minor mishap though. This was my first time meeting any of the other hikers; I didn’t know anyone. Our conversation was smoothly flowing; I was meshing well, having a ball, and then WHAM. In typical Mackenzie-style (ew, third person), I fell (not gracefully whatsoever) and slid down part of the hiking hill. Score. It was easily the hardest fall I have ever had on a hike. (That says a lot considering falling is sort of my forte). Everyone was so sweet though and I was able to laugh it off. At least I made a memorable first impression 😉

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Friday:

Now that the house is stocked with groceries, I am like a kid in the candy store. There are so many recipes I have been saving, ideas I have, and new foods I want to try. It felt SO GOOD to be cooking again. I also think it made our apartment officially feel like home. Every time I go to the store I try to feed off of what we already have in the pantry to try and make sure nothing goes to waste. I know that those canned goods are fine until like 2090, but still, it feels good to use something up that’s just been sitting there! Lately I have been craving mussels. I saw in our pantry we had sundried tomatoes, tomato sauce, and artichoke hearts. I thought a Mediterranean mussel dish sounded just amazing with some garlic bread on the side- mmm mm. DJ is always up to try an original of mine, but I can never be 100% confident how it will turn out. It was delectable!

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Saturday:

DJ delved into his books most of the day and I volunteered in San Jose with another community group. It was one of those times that I was not obligated to go; part of me just wanted to stay at home and be lazy all day, but the other part of me nudged, nudged, nudged and said, “get up lazy butt”. I prayed about it and then realized it was sort of funny praying about if I should serve others- HELLOOO. Once I got there I was so glad that I did. I met a girl from the church and we instantly hit it off as friends. We were assigned to a water/pop station to hand out drinks, and for those four hours we talked, laughed, and served the most adorable kids in all the land. She is also in a very similar stage of life as I am. She recently left her job and does not know what she is doing next. I was able to share with her some of the things I have been learning, and she offered me encouragement as well. We made plans to go hiking and foodie-up Silicon Valley together. What perfect timing too considering that DJ is starting up school. GUYS! I HAVE A FRIEND :)! I have met a lot of great people through church, but this is the first person I have plans with outside of the church events. I left the service project feeling energized and excited. It reminded me of when I was in grade school and made a friend for the first time. Here I am at 22 years old, really going on 5. Nice to meet ya.

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For dinner we had leftover mussels and these yummy shrimp rice rolls with a homemade thai peanut sauce. Seafood for dayyyyyz.

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Sunday- Sunday we went back to the same church we have been going to. Starting off the day worshipping with other believers is the greatest thing. We then went to Living Spaces in Fremont to pick up our TV console for the bedroom and a headboard. I am itching to post photos, but I will hold off until it’s all done. I started to get hangry on the way home, so DJ told me to eat my “emergency Quest bar”. I always have either a Quest or No-Cow bar on hand because no one likes the wrath of a hungry stomach. After a nice run, I whipped up some delicious stiryfry. Stirfry is so easy, filling, and tasty. I made DJ’s with some chicken, and mine vegan with Boca crumbles. I decided to wrap them in some Nori Seaweed wraps. Sometimes cooking for two can be a challenge, especially with the improvisations, but I always like to find something creative to do with anything leftover. I used about three small chicken tenders for DJ’s stir-fry and then baked the rest to make simple shredded chicken for lunch sandwiches or a quick snack for a protein boost.

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I gave DJ a haircut for his back-to-school look. Cue the awwwws. Not sure why he let’s me touch his hair, I have way too much fun with it and get a little razor happy. But it ended up looking pretty good. This is how our typical haircuts go initially:


Monday- This was our actual anniversary, but as you know we celebrated it last Wednesday. With DJ’s orientation starting Tuesday we spent most of the day making sure everything was set to go. We went to Target and stood next to all the cute little mamas doing back to school shopping for their little tikes. I offered DJ my syringe highlighters, but he refused, so we got him some “normal” ones. (Syringe highlighter definition: highlighters that look like syringes. As an almost-nurse I think they are pretty dang awesome). For dinner we did –drum roll please- BLUE APRON!

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Have any of you done this? It’s pretty stinking fun. Basically they deliver you a box with tons of fresh ingredients, “knick knacks” that include any small dashes of things you may need, and an instructional sheet to make everything step by step with pictures. This is great for anyone that is beginning to cook as well because they are thoroughly descriptive in each step. Also- I think it would make an awesome date night idea. It has ideas for wine pairing with each meal too. In a few posts back I mentioned how we received all these coupons when we first arrived and one of them was for this food delivery service. I always have wanted to try it, but it seemed like a lot of money for just three meals. But with our first order, we received $40 off, how could I resist? The first recipe we tried was the Spicy Peperonata Pasta. I thought it seemed pretty romantic for an anniversary dinner ;). It was out of this world, and I’m not even a big pasta person (I know, sin). DJ said it tasted so “fancy”. I would go into an in-depth description of this, but I think you just have to try it for yourself! We have yet to try the curried catfish and quinoa bowls, so stay tuned! Sadly, we didn’t have our one-year cake topper, but my mom sent us a cheesecake factory giftcard to get some cheesecake in place of it. She knows us well, I do say! Anyone have a favorite there? I can never decide, Oreo is probably ours.

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Tuesday- Orientation day!!! I had a list up to my ears with things to do, but first and foremost, we had to get the hubs off for the day. I made him a parfait with Greek yogurt and then we said our goodbyes.

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It was so strange saying “bye” to him. Since we have been here we have done the majority of things together. Even when I would make trips to the store or what-not it wasn’t for extended periods. I am realizing that I am about to see my husband a whole lot less, and it’s hard! However, I am so thankful for the memories we shared this summer and know that the time we do have will be treasured. When he came home, I was an Anxious Anna to hear about the big first day! He said that it went well! I could tell he felt relieved just having that initial first day over with. I spent the day assembling our end tables for the guest room, running errands for things we forgot to pick up on our runs over the weekend, and making several returns. We did watch Bachelor in Paradise, ugh I really feel quite ashamed to admit it. Horrible show, terribly addictive. Don’t recommend it; we love it.

IMG_8194Wednesday- You know the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? That was my Wednesday. Nothing went right.

  1. I woke up with a tremendous headache. It went away after chugging some water and coffee, but it always had that dull ache throughout the day.
  2. I missed my annual doctor’s appointment. I thought it was next Wednesday, but when I double-checked my calendar, I had that “oh no!” moment. It was an easy reschedule, but I hate doing that to anyone. I know that doctors have a tight schedule, and I never want to be the person to just not show up. I apologized profusely, and they were understanding about it.
  3. The sewage line in our apartment’s car garage broke. I went through four years of nursing school and nothing smelled worse than that. Nothing.
  4. DJ said he would like to get a bookshelf for all his law books soon. I thought it would be fun to surprise him and have one ready for him when he came home. I went to Target and spent a good chunk of time surveying my options and then chose one I thought would be perfect. It was the last one too- don’t you love it when that happens?! I lugged that incredibly heavy piece of furniture through the parking garage, up the elevator and into my house myself *wipes dirt off the shoulder*. I was pretty dang proud that I could do that considering my lack of upper arm strength. I excitedly got to work. I almost put it on my Snapchat story, but then I thought, “Nah, bookshelves are the easiest things to assemble, that would be silly”. What happens then? I break it. In the middle of assembling it, I had the weight distributed probably incorrectly and the whole thing collapsed. We are talking wood splinters flying across the room. I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry.
  5. I stubbed my toe. That’s enough to make a day bad in and of itself- can I get an AMEN?
  6. I called the nursing licensing board to see where my application was in the process of being approved. Long story short, after calling thirteen times and being on hold for twenty minutes, the lady talked to me more condescendingly and with more ambiguity than anyone I have ever met. I know that’s an extreme statement, but I have never felt more belittled. At this point in the day I just broke down. There I was sitting in the Target parking lot with my pathetically broken bookshelf that mirrored my emotions so perfectly in the backseat and sobbing. I say this not for pity, but because reflecting back it is HILARIOUS. I called my friend, Rachel, as I was running errands and as I recounted the day she laughed harder at each event I rattled off. That’s when I knew that it was just one of those comically bad days. Also, I know that in the grand scheme of things, the day wasn’t really that horrible. It simply is one that could have been worse, could have been better, and I count my blessings.

On a bright note, I whipped up one of the most refreshing lunch dishes! I am dying to share this because it is something that everyone will love with no scary ingredients 😉 I had leftover quinoa from a dish I made last week and through in some mango, pistachio, lime juice, and threw it on a bed of kale. (Wait, kale might be scary?) I missed DJ during the day and was glad to hear that he still is feeling pretty confident about the year to come. For dinner I took the leftovers from lunch and tossed it in some chicken for the carnivore hubby. He said it reminded him of ceviche, which is quite the compliment considering that is one of his favorite apps to order. All the fruit here is absolutely amazing. It just bursts with flavor. I’m not sure if it’s just because it’s summer or if it is always like that out here? In the midwest, the fruit only tastes extremely fresh in the summer. I just bought a pineapple that I cannot wait to carve up! For myself, I wanted some comfort food. I made my “famous refried dip” as we call it with lots of veggies.

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I ended the night with a Dreyer’s light mint chocolate chip ice cream cone. I have this theory that nothing tastes better after a good cry than mint chocolate chip ice cream. Next time you have a good tear drippin’, try it! (Not that I wish that on any of you?!).

Wishing you lots of stable furniture,

xo <3

Mack

Serious about Sushi

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few of our most interesting samplings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wishing you alotta those^,

xo <3

Mack

The Cherry Capitol- TC, MI!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Are pant-suits back in style yet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you more falafel waffles than you can handle,

xo <3

Mack

Recap of the First Lap

 

So as I mentioned in my last post, this week has been fun! But it also has exhausting. It is worth every second. I think back and am amazed at how much we managed to squeeze in a short period of time. Here is a little recap of adventures of this past week:

  • When we arrived, we spent the first couple days unpacking and finding a home for all our belongings. Then we started the endless trips back and forth to Target, TJ Maxx, Home Goods, and Bed Bath and Beyond to get the place lookin’ cute. Poor boy. Also we spent about an entire day assembling a TV console that did NOT want to be assembled. But, we did it.

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  • As I mentioned, I love to cook. However in the first week of moving in I didn’t really have the time (or energy!) to figure out a meal plan for the week. So our gracious apartment complex gave us “welcome to the ‘hood” coupons for all kinds of restaurants. We had a million to subway along with subway gift cards, so we had subway for lunch (and sometimes dinner) every.single.day for about the first 6 days. We made friends with the workers in there and went back one night just because to say “hey” to them.
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  • In the evenings for the first few nights we had dinners consisting of couponed’ sushi, thai, and more Subway. There is something just fun and rewarding about working hard all day and then getting takeout to eat among a sea of receipts, broken down cardboard boxes, and empty walls. One night we ate at a hole-in-the-wall vegetarian Indian place. It was the most authentic Indian food I have encountered in the US. I was like a little kid in a candy store telling DJ about all the authentic cuisine. It was also the best naan I have ever had (besides actually being in India). Side note: I went to India May 2015 for Nursing with my school. It was one of the greatest, most challenging, rewarding experiences of my entire life.

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  • My favorite part of the area is the hiking. It is certainly interesting to see warning signs for mountain lions and rattle snakes at the entrance of each park. So far I have managed not to become some lions’ dinner, so I say that’s a win.
  • The most difficult process we have encountered was the DMV. Oh my lanta, getting a license in California is not easy. Be prepared to wait in endless lines. I told DJ it felt like we were right at home, at Cedar Point.
  • On our trip out here I realized a tooth that I had chipped (when I was five), and re-filled in May, was turning slightly yellow. I went to a dentist in the area and he said I needed an emergent root canal. Here we are, a week in, and I’m drooling all over the place. I have the second half of it today (it was a two part procedure).
  • We found a church! I cannot explain what a blessing this is for us. We have heard horror stories about getting plugged into churches on the West Coast. I am blown away by the kindness and genuine nature of the individuals we encountered. We went to our first community group last night and I left feeling elated after finding such a wonderful group of people, that are so passionate about their relationship with Christ, so quickly.

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Wishing you good days and lots of sunshine,

xo <3

Mack