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

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

Shall we?

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

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

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

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

Thursday– Chores & Such. Totally necessary to waste your time by writing that- huh? OH, I did find out that I passed my nursing exam on this day and received my license in the mail! Thank you a million for all the sweet words on the last post. They seriously touched me <3 <3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for the spooOOooky stories:

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

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

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

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

Next stop: GrandView Restaurant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ohio:

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California:

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

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

Also- did you guys see that tweet?

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

On another note, it’s November already- can you believe it?! We have family coming in town tomorrow, and we are PUMPED!!!! Hope you all are doing so well. I’m thankful for this community and although I began this blog to update fam and friends and have a place to write down our memories, I treasure each one of you here and the friendships that are forming along the way <3

Wishing you a weekend CARVED with joy

xo <3

Mack

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A Weekend for the Win: A Recap!

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Hello all! I promised my Mama that I would whip out a post by the end of today. She is antsy to hear about all the different events with family in town! This weekend was one to remember. Going through these pictures made me smile the entire time. I am trying to focus… but uh.. the Indians are in the World Series so writing this and watching the game may cause this post to take a bit longer than normal! If you are in a rush and want the summary of our weekend it goes like this: FOOD, amazing family time with my Aunt and Uncle, FOOD, get dressed up, hike, FOOD, and maybe a bit more food?

Let’s get to it!

My Aunt and Uncle visited from Thursday to Monday from Michigan. One of my first posts from when I started this blog was from a visit to their home in Sutton’s Bay/ Traverse City, Michigan area. It was a blast, but now it feels as though too much time has passed since we’ve seen them. We have had this visit planned for months, and I have been counting down the days. It was my motivation to get my test over and done with so we could just celebrate!!!

Thursday

I love, love, LOVE hosting people. It’s an excuse for trying different appetizers, talking and laughing over cheese and crackers, and catching up on each others’ lives over some good wine (aka the cheapest bottles of wine I can find- but no one can tell, right? 😉 ). Last week I saw the beautiful Samantha Wharton posted a Shishito pepper recipe. It looked so delicious! It inspired this appetizer for my the night. First I blistered the peppers in the a sauce pan with olive oil. Then I stuffed about half of the peppers with goat cheese and drizzled them with thick balsamic glaze.  I put them in the oven at 425 until the cheese was nice and melted. They were a hit! The other half we just ate plain with salt and pepper and they were still fantastic.

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For dinner I had Munchery  delivered. I wanted to cook, but I was gone most of the day and wouldn’t have time to do anything beyond the apps. I know my Aunt and Uncle’s taste pretty well and knew they would love this dish. It included a salmon with pesto on top of a mediterranean quinoa. I don’t think I would ever get sick of this dish. I wish I could take credit for it, but props to you Munchery!

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I can’t begin to explain how much I love spending time with my Aunt and Uncle. They are some of the easiest people to be around, they’ll keep you laughing, and you can talk about anything with them. They are go-getters and just beginning “retirement” which means they are traveling all over the US, mountain biking, planning multiple ski trips, volunteering out the wah-zoo, and wearing me out trying to keep up with them. Retirement my butt.

On a more serious note, my Aunt is an “everything” person to me. She is my Aunt (duh), but also one of my best friends, one of my biggest cheerleaders, a mom figure (she is not afraid to put me in my place), and my role model. God blessed me with the greatest mom in the world AND  essentially a second mom with the greatest Aunt?! I can’t figure it out, but I’m betting it’s because He knew that my sister and I would be a handful, and my mom would need some extra strong moral support. Oh, also, she is me projected a few years into the future. DJ says it’s uncanny how much alike we are. Annnd she is the only other person in the world that maybe likes candy corn as much as I do.

Saturday

The four of us had breakfast and then took off for the best hiking spot in all the land. It’s the same one I took my mom and sister-in-law to in other posts: Tony Look Trail! I love the change in scenery along the trail and it’s an excellent challenge. Once we finished the hike it was about 1 pm.

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We ran to the store to pick up some last minute essentials for the gala (Thank you TJ Maxx for having a pair of black earrings). We had a hosh-posh lunch of whatever was in the fridge and I ran around like a mad woman trying to get ready. “Yes I realize that the gala isn’t for five hours, and I will need every second of that five hours, DJ.”

After I bought my dress I realized I got rid of my only pair of dress black heels before our move (and apparently my earrings as I was frantically looking for a pair in TJ’s). I had been meaning to get a new pair and this forced me to finally go through with it. I am posting a picture of them below because A. I got these for a steal and B. I know my mother in law will love them 🙂

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My handsome hubs <3

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💕💕

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The gala took place at Levi Stadium. I have never been there, and it was one gorgeous stadium. OHH- for those of you that haven’t read the last post, the gala is an annual event with our Church to discuss the direction we are going in the upcoming year. It’s also a time to just stop and praise God for all He has done this past year. It quickly became a night that I will never forget. The community and the heart for God is like nothing I have ever experienced. Every time I am with my Church I just thank Him profusely for leading us to this group of people.

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We started the evening with a cocktail hour overlooking the pristine stadium. We then started dinner with a delicious goat cheese salad, a dinner of filet mignon (for DJ) and a veggie polenta for myself, and  finished it with a chocolate mousse and raspberry drizzle that makes you want to savor every. single. bite. By the end of the evening I had cried, laughed, felt refreshed, and beyond excited about the year to come.

Saturday

Saturday my Uncle suggested we tailgate at Stanford while their homecoming game was going on! I have never been and DJ loves going to the campus. First we walked around the academia wonderland, and then we parked the truck for delicious snacking, drinks, and perfect weather.

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My Aunt and I are related to Herbert Hoover (through my Grandmother’s sister side). When we were in the Museum we decided to take a picture next to the fella for a family pic.

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Getting our midwest on. I dare you to find another pickup truck in this parking lot.

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After tailgating we decided to head back home. My Aunt took a nap, I went for a run (my aunt and uncle were early birds and ran before we left for Stanford- overachievers), and the boys parked in front of the TV for some …. you guessed it… football. It was a perfect fall day, and I soaked up the changing of the leaves and the golden fall sun on my run.

You didn’t think you would get through a post without sushi did ya? We had to take my Aunt and Uncle out to Yuki for sushi. They have the best around. My two favorite rolls in the Cupertino area are Yuki’s Da Kine with spicy kani, avocado, cucumber topped with maguro, seaweed salad, crunch, and spicy sauce and Kula’s Kula roll. DJ loves the Tetsu roll from Yuki which has shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, and kani wrapped in avocado and topped with spicy sauce, crunch, and green onion.

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We had our fill but still had room for a glass of wine. My Uncle likes a good scotch and the R/R (Roots and Rye) on Santana Row has almost anything you are craving, food and drink alike.

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This place is quite unique. It has a modern lounge feel with a heavy emphasis on small bites and cocktails.

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We sat around this dancing fire inside the restaurant which provided the perfect temperature and ambiance on a chilly autumn evening.

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I inevitably always have the red eyes.

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We had way too much fun with Snapchat throughout the weekend.

Sunday

Sunday morning DJ and I went to Church and my Aunt and Uncle found a Catholic church for mass. We met back up after and headed to Mountain View. DJ and I went here when we first moved to the area. We walked along Castro street with the endless options of restaurants and naturally ended up going here… because… FOOTBALL.

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We ordered some good bar food (and my Aunt and I may have snuck some salmon and caper bites in the order too). Ever since I had the smoked salmon on a bagel at a San Francisco hotel, if it’s on the menu in any form I begin to salivate.

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After watching football and relaxing we went to the movie The Accountant. It received less than promising reviews by the critics, but we all loved it. It definitely is a movie with a lot going. I don’t typically like watching movies twice, but I would watch this again because there was such a deep, multifaceted plot.

We had a late dinner of rosemary cider chicken and butternut squash with apples from Home Chef. I had the $30 off my first order and ordered the family plan package for the weekend since my Aunt and Uncle were here. I substituted a veggie burger or fish instead of the meat for myself in the dishes. I made the squash before we left for the movie so all we had to do when we returned was prepare the chicken and the sauce.

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Monday

Sadly, they left us Monday 🙁 I was depressed the whole day but kept myself busy with meal prepping, cleaning, laundry, etc. etc.). It was a weekend for the books.

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My conclusion after using home chef: 7 out of 10 stars. The meals were tasty- we especially loved the squash recipe. But I was missing four entire chicken breasts (I had to replace myself), and there were parts of the meals that were just ‘so-so’ like the macaroni salad. However, it’s excellent for people beginning to cook. It gives amazingly thorough directions on why you do certain steps in cooking or why you use certain ingredients. For example, we use Kosher Salt because it has bigger grains and is easier to pinch than table salt. This allows more control over the flavor. I still prefer Blue Apron or Green Chef, but it was certainly a decent service! (I bet the missing chicken was a fluke, right?).

When I was running into the store to pick up some lotion today I saw this (below)- SAY WHAT. I am already obsessed with Boom Chicka Pop, but BOOM CHICKA POP CANDY CORN FLAVORED KETTLE CORN. Obviously I couldn’t wait when I got home to try it. I have a new addiction. I could cry.

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I am planning on finishing the master bedroom this week, do a couple fall-ish activities this weekend with DJ, next week is super busy already, and then I’ll be trying to figure out more on the job front.  DJ says I should rest after the NCLEX, but we all know I have a hard time doing that 😉 Also- I’m in a pickle about what to do in the job arena. My #1 choice nursing job doesn’t begin until March/April, but I’m worried a job now would jeopardize seeing my parents in Texas and Ohio over the holiday season. I know this is going to be my last year of flexibility for a while since once nursing starts I’ll work all the holidays.

Now that I have finished this post the Indians have officially won the first game! 3 more to go, baby. Let’s go CLE! This is just all too exciting to handle!!!!!

Wishing you a WINDIAN Wednesday,

xo <3

Mack

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 <3

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.

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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.

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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 ..

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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….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 <3 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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 😉

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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 <3

Mack

Happy Birdd-Day

This day is a big deal day. I mean a BIGGGGGGGG deal! It is DJ’s Birthday!!!! This truly is one of my favorite “holidays” because it means my favorite person was born on this day! Thank you DJ for gracing the world with your presence, but also for allowing me to have dibs on you for my hubby. We love birthdays because it is an excuse to say “Happy Birrrrdday” over and over again. Who can spot the reference? Also- Happy Birthday to Amy (his twin sister!). Today DJ is happily spending his day meeting with friends and getting a few tasks done, while I am taking a tiny respite from studying to record some fun stuff from this past week!

We received this amazing Cheesecake Factory sampler from djs mom on Thursday! holy yum.


We made quite a dent! The caramel de leche was our favorite!

Thursday night I whipped up, yet another, Indian-fusion-esque type dinner. Who really knows what it is. But it was edible! It included okra, cauliflower, shrimp, a tikki masala sauce, every spice that I thought could possible compliment it, and some siggis yogurt. I accompanied it with some naan bread and a gigantic salad. This my friends, I call “everything but the kitchen sink”.

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Friday we went to Lazy Dog on Main Street Cupertino. We were feeling tired after a long week of studying and what could sound better than going to a place called Lazy Dog? It was super relaxing and nice to just spend a nice long dinner together rather than the rushed ones that usually take place during the week. It’s hard to truly enjoy your food when you have six hours of studying still staring you in the face for the night!

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I ordered their Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna. This was one of the  most original dishes of ahi I have ever tried. It makes my mouth water just reminiscing about it. It was served medium-rare on house-made cauliflower mash with roasted vegetables and a coconut curry cream sauce. It was also topped with some fresh cilantro. I tried to recreate the cauliflower mash, which I share later on! This dish was fish-alicious.

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DJ went for their signature burger for which they are known for! He ravenously ate it up. Now, I don’t know if the boy was just really hungry, or if that was a sign that he hasn’t had something that good in that long! I may have been too afraid to inquire.

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Also! I pulled out my first sweater for the season! This is one of my favorite fall colors- anything dark purple or maroon. The weather here is surprisingly perfect for the sweater life. I think I expected it to feel warm year round, but it still has a fall feel with the leaves falling and a crispness to the air.

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Saturday I got up at the butt-crack of dawn to go on one last BIG hike with my hiking group. I absolutely love this group of people. If you wanna get to know people, go on a hike with them. Within seven miles hiking up a mountain you end up talking about pretty much anything and everything. One thing that surprised me was one guy who grew up here (in California) could not understand why someone could possibly enjoy a thunderstorm. Me and one other girl from the midwest tried to explain the ominous excitement, smells, and wonder of an awesome midwest thunderstorm. It was interesting to me that he had never experienced something like that.  We also came past the most beautiful dog I may have ever seen. It was a bright white husky with sky-blue eyes. I am not always one to run up and ask to pet a random dog, but I could not help myself with this one. The owner even let me get a picture with it. I told DJ that we need to get this type of dog and a Beans soon (three-legged dream dog from the pound). He personally prefers French Pitbulls and Chocolate Labs. We both also love Vishlas! We had a friend who had one and fell in love. Anyone own any of these types of dogs?

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After an amazing hike, that my hips are still recovering from, we went to the Vine in Niles. This cute little town is quite a hike from our place in Cupertino. OH MY WORD- I did not intend that pun, I swear. I know I usually do intend allll the puns, but that one was not intended. Anyway, Niles is just the most darling little town with the strips full of unique boutiques, food trucks, and the luminous mountains cradling the whole surrounding area.

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After that hike I needed a big ole cup of joe! I think my favorite part of this whole place was the fact that I had my coffee served in this mug.

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HELLO to the most delicious sweet potato tots I ever did taste. They were served with a garam masala aioli. SO GOOD. I got them “for DJ” but ate half of them (or more than half) before I made it home. Like I said, it was a hike back- a good 50 minute drive is long enough to get hungry again.

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I had a tasty, filling salmon salad with craisins, goat cheese, walnuts, and a honey curry vinaigrette over arugula.

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SUNDAY! Oh Sunday was a much needed day. We are currently re-evaluating some choices and direction in our lives, but Sunday was just what we needed for some ease and clarity. I think right now DJ and I are realizing more than ever that our life “plans” on paper do not, and will not, always reflect reality. But that is okay. We are both at this point where we just want to be used by God, love others, and see how we can make a difference in the SV area each day. God has shut a lot of doors on our plans, but we are watching something unfold that we could not have designed ourselves. In the past, we have always filled our schedules and days with commitments and do not make ourselves available for anything that we have not designated important ourselves. But God, in His sovereignty, has shut many doors and we are finding ourselves available to do His work in a way we never have been. We are ecstatic to see what unravels, where this time of our lives takes us, and how he will use us. Our current situation can be described as this (….). The big ole’ dot, dot, dot. We have no idea how the next few years will unfold, but I think both of us could not be more excited to see how it will look.

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So why was Sunday so great? First we attended Church, and if that can’t rejuvenate ya, I don’t know what can. After, we met with the Pastors from our church for lunch as this rustic, yet modern, place in San Jose called The Farmer’s Union. They provided a great deal of encouragement to us. They gave us soo much to think about as well and sparked some thought-provoking conversation between DJ and I throughout the week leading to some of the open-ended conclusions (oxymoron?) I mentioned above.

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I have been fighting something of a cold this week and this Echinacea and Cranberry tea has been a lifesaver. I am a FIRM believer in herbal and vitamin supplements to prevent a cold. Load up the vitamin C, Echinacea, and Zinc to halt that nasty tickle in the throat from becoming a full on monster. But always talk to your healthcare provider before taking them 😉

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Here are the Cauliflower mashed potatoes that I tried to recreate (inspiration from the Lazy Dog!). These were sooo simple and I have a feeling that I may be entering into a new food craze stage.

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I also made these little Cauliflower wings with the leftover half of a head. I have the recipe posted here if you missed it 😉

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The next night I used the leftover cauliflower mash and combined it with some curry hummus to try to achieve that Indian cauliflower taste. I added a Morningstar Garlic and Quinoa burger with some fresh basil for a super easy and delicious meal.

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I had some kale that was about to go bad too, so I whipped up some kale chips to dip in the buffalo sauce too! Snacks for dayzzz.

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Throughout the week I have been studying at Peet’s nearly everyday.

I have loved studying at this little coffee shop and am beginning to develop friendships with the baristas. They are the kindest folk. One day they came up to me and gave me a coupon for a free coffee. They also told me that I am overstudying. Now when essentially strangers are telling you this, it makes you wonder!

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This is what “leave me alone I’m watching the game ” looks like One night during dinner I realized I had forgotten a couple things at the store. DJ, the sweet husband he is, ran out to grab them for me. He returned with this gem- edible cookie dough. Yes, all of your dreams have now come true. You can bake it or eat it straight out of the container if you wish. It is dairy and egg free too. We love our Pillsbury break-and-bakes, but I think we have a new favorite.

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Yesterday I had a bit of a stomach ache. I think I have just had so much rolling around in this head of mine and have been drained by the studying. I stopped by and picked this up from the store. GOODBYE tummy-ache! Ginger is one of the greatest things to help with nausea and aid in digestion. Kombucha also has some terrific probiotics too. I am really going full blown nurse on ya’ll, this post aren’t I?

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You didn’t think I wasn’t going forget a Fine Cooking recipe now did you?! This week I wanted to make something with meat. I make a lot of seafood naturally being pescatarian, but I felt that I haven’t tried my hand at a good meat dish in a while. I whipped up a Pork Tenderloin Provencal Tuesday night. I have never made pork, but was pleased with how it turned out. I accompanied it with rosemary roasted veggies and wild rice. It was surprisingly easy, and DJ said it was one of the best meals I have ever made. I think it would be an excellent meal for a Christmas eve dinner or special occasion! Tastes fancy without all the work 😉 .

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Now for birthday festivities. I maybe should not post this, but I seriously can’t help myself. I LOVE the goofy cards for birthdays (or any occasion). I spend wayyy too much time looking at all of them and take more pride in the card than the gift usually. We have tons of fun with them in my family. I stay away from anything with the actual age on it though… One time I got my brother a “Happy 30th” birthday card, ready to make a big deal about the big 3-0. He actually was turning 31. They never let me live that one down. In fact the next year, I received the same card from him and he crossed out the thirty and wrote 20 (the age I was turning). Anywho, DJ LOVES animals, so I always make sure to get an animal one. This was this years pick. Like I said, maybe this is inappropriate? But I promise this is as PG-13 it will get around here.

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We were planning on going out for a momentous pancake breakfast for his birthday, but he was meeting with a friend at 10 am, and decided last night he wanted to sleep in. I woke up early to figure something out, because everyone has to have a delicious birthday breakfast! I had some 90 calorie reduced fat pillsbury crescent rolls in the fridge and decided to try to make apple roll-ups. These are way healthier than a breakfast pastry and just as tasty. DJ couldn’t believe how relatively healthy they were.

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Last night I was having a moment of I NEED TO BAKE. Anyone else get that? The baking bug hits me hard in the fall. I load up on cans of pumpkin filling and end up just trying to create whatever I can, whenever I can. Baking is very therapeutic for me and since we were just eating leftovers last night, I decided to bake instead during my usual dinner prep time. I made a healthy pumpkin cheesecake with an oatmeal crust. This little guy is about 150 calories a slice and about 10 grams of protein. I am working on getting the recipe absolutely perfect, and then I will share it.

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Tonight we are going to take it easy per DJ’s request. I think we are going to grab dinner somewhere local and then relax at home. I am going to try to squeeze in a bit more studying before the day wraps up. I am also attending a women’s conference this weekend and am incredibly excited for that!!!! DJ will be taking the weekend pretty easy. Sunday night is when we are actually celebrating his birthday with a nice night out.

Lastly, but most importantly, our thoughts and prayers fervently go out to all those affected by hurricane Matthew .

Wishing you an icing on the cake kind of day,

xo <3

Mack

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

It is OFFICIALLY football season- which means Monday night football in this house. I like these nights for what they connote:  the general white noise,  the relaxing environment that naturally ensues around a football game being broadcast from the TV on a chilly day, and the excuse to bake a million pumpkin-based desserts. To DJ it takes on a totally different meaning, but to us both it’s a wonderful time! Last year I made him hotdogs/chicken-wings/fries/burgers every single football Monday until he noticed that scale budging up a bit 😉 I told him I would health it up, so now I make a few substitutions that he loves! They certainly have a strangely addictive quality about them.

Without further adieu, here are Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

Grocery List:

  • 1/2 Head of Cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup Fage yogurt (or any plain nonfat greek)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1.5 TBSP of light butter of choice (Earth balance for vegans or olive oil based butter) 
  • Hot sauce of choice (Frank’s is best!)
  • Ranch seasoning of choice (or a small mixture of dill, parsley, onion powder, and garlic powder)
  • Red chili flakes (optional)

Directions:

  • Line a baking pan with foil
  • Preheat oven to 425 F
  • Wash and cut cauliflower florets into hearty lengthwise slices
  • Sprinkle Ranch seasoning over cauliflower florets
  • Mince garlic
  • In a sauce pan, add 1/2 TBSP of butter over medium-high heat
  • Add garlic and sautee until it is fragrant and translucent
  • Lower to medium heat, Add cauliflower and 1 TBSP of butter (add more if needed)
  • Stir until butter is distributed evenly
  • Add about 1 TBSP hot sauce among the cauliflower (or sprinkle until cauliflower has a nice light-red color)
  • Stir until hot sauce is evenly distributed
  • Add to foil-lined pan
  • Sprinkle chili flakes lightly over the cauliflower if desired 
  • Put in the oven for about 20-35 minutes, turning once, until cauliflower is tender and  crispy. I like to leave them in until a few florets have a very slight burnt appearance on the edges. **All ovens cook differently

For Dip:

  • Put 1/3 cup of Fage or plain greek yogurt of choice in a bowl
  • Add 1/2 TBSP of hot sauce
  • Add a sprinkle of ranch seasoning (I like adding the dill, parsley, garlic and onion powder mixture to taste).
  • Stir together until a nice light red color (add more hot sauce to taste)

*For a teensy bit less healthy version: Some may opt to dip the florets in flour and milk before baking and adding the butter/hot sauce mixture after. DJ likes using plain ranch dressing sometimes too. I prefer the hot sauce dip!

Nutrition for the batch (including dip!): *using Smart Balance Olive oil butter

Calories: 234

Protein: 15g

Carbs: 24g

Fiber: 10g

Sugar: 13g

Fat: 11g (all the good kinds 😜)

Enjoy!

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Wishing you a winning season (unless you cheer for someone besides the Browns!)

xo <3

Mack

Our Family Is Growing

I’m giving our moms a heart attack as they read this title. NO- I’m not pregnant. Haha- sorry 😝. Don’t worry- I would not announce it on my blog before telling you guys 😘. But we do have a new addition to the family that I will be announcing later on. OH THE SUSPENSE.

First things first- I just want to say a TREMENDOUS thank you to Afrilly for the sweet, sweet words on her blog as well as Cyranny. Truly- I am blown away by the sincerity and kindness of this community. Also thank you to Theveggiecooker for her nomination for the One Lovely Blog award. I am beyond honored. At this time I don’t quite have the time to thoughtfully nominate others and respond to the award, but the nomination was incredibly appreciated.

Well, ya’ll ready for our hodge-podge of the last week and a half or so?

After the last post we had some zucchini leftover so we made zucchini pizzas, the more “normal” way. This is one of DJ’s favorites. I saved the inner parts that you scrape out for a recipe I share later on! I love that the grocery store has so many vegan options for the toppings. They have vegan pepperoni and vegan bacon.

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I am on a new breakfast kick. I ate oatmeal for breakfast for about five years straight. I even carried a big ole’ thing of Quaker oats in my car with me when I traveled. They became famous among my friends and we called them the “Traveling Oats”. Anyway- the last few months I have been changing it up with fruit and granola parfaits, and now I am changing it up once again. I have been loving putting Siggi’s yogurt on Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel bread with homemade cinnamon apple chips. I wake up craving this. Siggi’s yogurt is awe-some. It has an insane amount of protein and is low fat. It is made with all wholesome ingredients and acts almost like a cream cheese. It’s perfect in the morning with a cuppa joe!

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Now on to other happenings. It’s FALL!!! Finally. This time is dangerous for our pocket books if we are honest with ourselves (Ladies- can I get an AMEN?!). I can’t walk into a store without feeling wonderfully overwhelmed by the beautiful, beautiful madness. Oh the pumpkin everything, the candles, the smells, the foods, the SWEATER WEATHER.

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Oh brother. One of my favorite parts is scanning the shelves at grocery stores for new fall foods. Kids have it good these days- look at these cereal options. (Side note: Pumpkin Spice Mini Wheats are revolutionary!)

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DJ came home from class one day last week and I guiltily admitted that I made an impulsive buy. I saw this little pumpkin pillow while I was out and about and could not leave without. OH how I tried to resist. That’s a lie- I did not try very hard.

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On Thursday of last week we were running low on groceries. I had to get real creative ya’ll because we were going to be gone for the weekend, and I didn’t want to restock groceries yet. I had the leftover inner portion of the zucchini from our zucchini pizzas, eggs, and some Palak’s Tikki Masala curry. I figured that eggplant is used as a base in a lot of Indian/Thai dishes, so why not give zucchini a go?! I also remembered the eggs that were on top of the dish DJ had at Oren’s, and decided that maybe I would throw those on top too. And  of course, alllll the spices. I also had some roti sitting in the freezer (because that’s normal for a basic American girl). I love making roti because it puffs up as you make it. And its fun to say “roe-tee”.

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DJ said this was one of his favorites that I’ve made. He said we needed to make it a staple- A STAPLE! I laughed at how much he loved my scrap together meal.

On Friday through Sunday we spent time watching DJ’s sisters and some family friends’ children. (Four kids total). Since DJ was studying all weekend intensely for midterms, I joked that I went from a studying, unemployed, newlywed to a single mother of four overnight.

Friday night was an adventure around dinner time. I wasn’t quite familiar with how to use the stove and while I thought I turned on the oven I actually turned on the stove that was hidden by a cover on top of the stove. I turn around to put a pizza in and the stove is smoking. Look, when you are responsible for four children and can’t turn on an oven it takes a deep hit to your maternal confidence. The girls came by to help me out and showed me how to use it properly. By that point everyone was pretty hungry so waiting thirty plus minutes for the oven to preheat and to cook the pizza seemed out of the question. I threw together a few other random bites of anytizzers, stovetop chicken a la vodka pasta, and mahi mahi salad from the fridge for myself, and while not my proudest cooking endeavor at least everyone got fed- right?

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Saturday was so.much.fun. I was still able to squeeze in studying here and there but spending that time with the girls gave me a new boost of energy and provided a much needed break from the books. Naturally, we went to LUSH first. Once again- the cult-like following of all things fall is everywhere. Their fall products are way too fun. I tried out the goth fairy and magic wand. Super obsessed with both. You really cannot go wrong here with any of their products.

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Saturday night the girls did the sweetest thing for DJ and me. When I came inside from studying they said they had a surprise for us that night. Then we received a text that read, “To the Mr. and Mrs., tonight we have prepared a special night for the two of you. Tonight you will be enjoying a delicious dinner, music, and surprises! Please join us in the dining room at about 6:15. We hope to see you there soon!” Love the B.A.M girls (abbreviation for their names).

I actually teared up when I saw what they had set up for us. They had romantic music playing and made a bouquet (they actually made it with flowers they found outside), candles, the whole deal. They each played waitress and came out offering us either “Sparkling water” or “Citrus sparking water”. They proceeded to tell us that they would begin serving whenever we were ready. We were eager to see what they had prepared and they brought out a delicious fettuccini with homemade alfredo sauce with parmasean to sprinkle on top. I cannot explain how impressed I was with them. The food and service was superb!

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For dessert they made an apple pie. Seriously, come on- do we have the greatest sisters or what?! DJ and I went back for seconds.

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Later that night we may have had a tiny mishap with the dishwasher. There was no powder detergent and the packets of cascade were a bit too big. I, brilliantly, thought just a small dash of dishwasher soap would be a good idea. WARNING: do not try that at home. After about five minute of it going I hear the girls yelling- “It’s overflowing! It’s overflowing!” I look and soap suds are seeping out of the cracks, under, and around the darn dishwasher. Good going, Mack. #FakeMomFail .

Sunday one of the girls had a basketball tournament. It felt like a Starbucks kind of morning. I stopped by and picked up the girls their favorite double chocolate chip frappacinos and a chocolate croissant. I guess the Pokemon go is still going strong!

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Speaking of Coffee: Today is national Coffee Day!!!!! BIG DEAL!!!!!! This is personally one of my favorite holidays. I hope you guys are all properly caffeinated. I am at a Pete’s and about three minutes ago I went to sit down and spilled my coffee all over the place. That is either a sign that I need more or have had too much? Luckily the lap top was spared but I so ungracefully, in very characteristic me-fashion, made a big ole’ mess. I’m really killing it this week aren’t I?

I have been camping out at Peet’s this whole week and know all the baristas by name now. They cheer me on as I take a million practice exams, memorize a million lab values, and drink way too much of their coffee.

I also used to be a barista so what better time to share some of my “artwork” than now?! Below are a few of my favorites.

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Back to the week in review:

Sunday night when we got home, once again no groceries. And we were far too drained to go out and buy some. I did have some veggies leftover and of course eggs and roti. I made an western egg scramble in roti burritos with a side of sriracha hot sauce.

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Monday was an essential grocery/cleaning day. I tried to study, but I couldn’t focus with so much on my to-do list. I knocked out the grocery shopping in the morning and cleaned all day, did some laundry, and prepared dinner. Also I did watch the Presidential Debate (just a day late on Hulu). I don’t want to get political, so I’ll keep my views to myself- you all get enough of that from other social media platforms.

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Pumpkin nutmeg candle <3
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Sprouts is hands-down my favorite grocery store. I don’t shop there for everything because it can be a bit expensive (not as expensive as Whole Foods), but I do love looking for specialty items. They have the best selection of pumpkin/fall foods. I told the cashier that I was going to limit myself to just one specialty pumpkin item each grocery trip. Jokes on me- As I was walking out of the store I saw the Harvest Pumpkin Tortilla Chips with Pumpkin Salsa. I walked right back up to the cashier and said I took back what I said about one pumpkin item per trip.

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We also got our delivery of Graze this week! I have wanted to try this out for forever, well since the beginning of college, and I found a Groupon for it! Graze is excellent because it is perfectly custom designed to your snacking needs. They have a protein box, a calorie count box, a dessert box, etc. I have liked everything, but I definitely have some favorites:

  • Deconstructed Carrot Cake
  • Peachy Orchard
  • Sweet Rhubarb Jam
  • White Chocolate with Wild Blueberry Toast
  • Salted Caramel Fudge

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This week I decided to try out a Mustard Char Glazed Salmon from my Fine Cooking magazines. It was ridiculously easy to make and had a flavor like nothing I have ever tried.

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Our house has a LEEK!!!!!!!! 
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This week we are in hard core study mode (per usual). I am rounding down the home stretch to my studying. I am hoping to take my NCLEX by late October. DJ has midterms on Friday.

Okay- time for the big unveiling. So DJ has been a bit down this week in the study blues, as I mentioned last post. I thought to myself- what can I do to cheer his up? LIGHTBULB, buy Spanky Tom! Buy a what?  Spanky Tom is our fish that we have talked about getting for years, since early college days. No idea where we got that name. Truly no clue. But I knew this was the time. What can cheer someone up more than a fish?! I threw in the study towel early and headed to PetSmart.

Side story: I do have a track record of spontaneously buying fish. When I got my first paycheck ever in high school, I decided that very day that I wanted to spend it on a little fish. I went to the store and looked for the ugliest fish I could find. I always want the ugliest pet because they are the least likely to get adopted. (Like my dream of adopting a three legged ugly dog from the pound and naming it Beans). I found a Black Moore with bulging eyeballs and named it Sunshine. I’m a fan of irony. Sunshine was the best darn fish to ever swim the planet. When Sunshine was about two years old my family went away for a vacation. I bought a “self releasing fish feeder”. FALSE. It did not release the food. Sunshine was in a dire state when I came home. It’s little gills were barely moving. I did what everyone does in a state of panic and horror: I googled. I tried everything. I changed the tank’s water, put my dear little sunshine in cold water, in warm water (I probably shocked her), I tried CPR on the dang fish, I fed it corn (not sure where I got that one), but poor Sunshine was lost to fishy heaven. I cried. At eighteen years old I cried over my dead pet fish. That really forced me to reevaluate my life.

Anyway- back to Spanky. I was giddy with excitement. DJ doesn’t quite share in my enthusiasm of buying ugly animals, so I decided to get a pretty Spanky. I spent about fifteen minutes staring at all the fish to see which one had the most spunk. I finally chose this precious little male Beta. It’s hard to tell in the picture but here is me and Spanky T’s first picture together.

When DJ got home this was our conversation:

Me: Guess what

DJ: What

Me: I bought Spanky Tom

DJ: *Laughing* did you really just go out and buy a fish again?

I walked over to show him the tank. Deej was pretty excited- at least it got a smile out of him! Our little family is growing! I told him I chose Spanky because he seemed the most energetic of all the fish. We both looked down at Spanky T just sitting in his barrel, barely moving, and DJ observed, “Yeah, looks like it”.😂

Now, is this not the photogenic fish you have ever seen?! ST loves the little barrel and that’s where he spends most of the time. It’s his favorite part of his tiny playground.

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Sorry about the title mothers. Simply click bait. GET IT?!

#SpankyTomforPresident

For dinner I made Jennie O turkey burgers for Deej, a Morningstar Quinoa and Garlic Vegan burger for myself and homemade sweet potato fries with a homemade healthy cinnamon butter.

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Tomorrow is Friday! Woohoo! That means date night. Especially after a torturous week leading up to midterms I am excited for DJ to have a night off studying (at at least mostly off).

Wishing you a swimmingly pleasant weekend,

xo <3

Mack