Protein Packed Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

I start every single day with cookies and end every day with ice cream.

Not kidding! I say it’s the secret to a balanced diet and keeps me motivated to eat healthy the rest of the day!

Soooo…. I am finally sharing my breakfast cookie recipe per request! I have spent time after time and batch after batch trying to perfect these little guys. I finally feel I have come to a place where these breakfast cookies are exactly what I crave in the morning. And by crave I mean if I don’t have any left come morning my whole day is off. I pair a couple with my creamy avocado smoothie and am usually set for a full morning of work from 4:30 until about 11 am when I have my first break. Plus, the sweet & savory combo is perfection.

Grocery List:

  • 2 scoops Protein Powder of Choice (I prefer EAS Vanilla)
  • 2 C. Oatmeal of choice (either old fashioned or quick oats- I like quick oats)
  • 3 TBSP Enjoy Life semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 2 Large overripe Bananas
  • 1/2 C. Organic Peanut Butter (I use Laura Schudder’s)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mash bananas in a large mixing bowl with a fork or spatula
  3. Add all other ingredients
  4. Stir and mash with spatula until thoroughly mixed- put your muscle into it! It’s dry at first, but eventually becomes nice and doughy (may use a Kitchen Aid)
  5. Using a Tablespoon, scoop cookies one at a time onto a greased baking tray
  6. Put all cookies into the oven, cook for 7-8 minutes
  7. Allow to cool, enjoy!
  8. Store leftovers in the fridge.

**They taste like little cookie dough bites cold, but I reheat mine in the microwave a couple seconds before eating them in the morning. I think they are even better warmed up!

Nutrition per cookie. Servings per batch: 31

Calories: 63

Fat: 3g

Carbs: 7g

Protein: 3g

Sugars: 2g

E N J O Y!

xo,

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Hanging on by a Med

GOOOOD MORNING!!! 

Pull up a chair, let’s have a quick chat over some morning toast and coffee!

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Yes, yes- quite different from my strawberries and cream toast I have each morning. Instead of strawberries I used bananas since I was having calf cramps last night and added Evoke muesli for a little crunchy pizzzazzz.

Currently, I am sitting at a Starbucks before work trying to finish up this post (it’s a classroom day so I slept in until 5:30!). Unfortunately, I had to betray Peet’s because it’s further than the Bucks. Buttt you all know where my loyalty resides.

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I also cracked up how they spelled my name. He didn’t even attempt the ending. He just gave up. LOL

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Also…… Sprouts has another bag….

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I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. What do you guys think? DJ says I have far too many grocery bags already…. but…….. I don’t have THIS bag. Help me justify it, please!

So let’s see…. last week I worked Wednesday- Sunday every day. It was the first time I worked all through the weekend and it was a bit trippy! (When I was off Mon/Tues, everyone else was heading back to work!).

DJ had off and spent time with his family over the weekend. I’m so glad he had that time but also quite jealous- I miss everyone so much!! Thursday was technically “off” and since I was not required to actually go to the hospital, I stayed cozied up in my home and got a ton of studying done for EKGs (with the occasion Fine Cooking skimmin’ break- gotta whet those cooking ideas!).

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I do have to mention Saturday though- I had a legitimate anxiety attack at work. I have only had maybe three full on attacks in my life- and this was one of the worst. It was around 1:30 in the afternoon and I hadn’t had a chance to take my lunch, so I bet low blood sugar catapulted the issue. I think it was just a rough moment too.. I am thoroughly convinced this is the most difficult/stressful time of my life, perhaps ever, but the support is phenomenal so I know (I hope) I can make it through. Some people drop out of the program at the six month program- I am just praying I make it through. I will give it my all. God wouldn’t call me here if he didn’t have plans.

Also- although It was a rough day, but the next day was 100% better. I’m finding that for every bad day there will be a good day. My preceptor told me I am right where I need to be- I am just unfairly hard on myself and I don’t forgive myself very easily (even for the smallest mistakes). This whole journey is bringing some serious self-reflection to the surface. I come home, even from good days, and the wheels just turn, turn, turn. I can’t turn my mind off. I wake up in hot sweats and start thinking about things I may have forgot to chart, conversations, teaching I may have accidentally omitted, etc. I have a system that works, and my to-do lists, but as a new grad, it’s hard to cover every single base (hence the preceptorship). I’ll be find one moment and then my heart is racing over these thoughts that creep up. I feel better once I’m in the hospital though… it’s the down time- I drive myself nuts!

But in those moments I try to celebrate the small victories: The family who thanked me, the patient who told me I was their favorite nurse (seriously melted my heart), advocating for my patient and the doctor taking my thoughts into account, becoming more comfortable with my skills….. there are victories and rather than focusing so much on my mistakes and failures, I have to choose to celebrate the victories.

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I pray, I breathe, I am reminded that this is normal.

I actually didn’t intend to share that. But sometimes ya just start writing and things come out!

Anywho, this week was a tapering week for running, so I had some nice, easy leisure runs outside. When I get stressed out I like to run, run, run……hence, tapering this week was hard for me!!! I was craving long runs- but had to limit myself. However, the weather was GORGEOUS, and those short spurts outside helped elevate my spirits for sure!

img_4069-1img_4076-1img_4075-1img_4061-1DJ and I both had Monday off. I studied most of the day and DJ caught up on some MUCH needed sleep. We deemed Monday night a date night! I was craving sushi- needing some serious comfort food!

We decided to try Pacific Catch in Campbell.

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^^ I love incorporating parts of my “business casual” shopping into my everyday outfits, like these heels!

When we sat down, our waitress was a doll and brought us out samples of Hawaiian Poke! I don’t think I’ve ever had poke, but it was very tasty!

DJ ordered their fish tacos and said they were pretty decent!

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I tried their inside out roll (spicy tuna over California roll). It was ok- it was fine enough, but there is WAY better sushi in other places in the area. But overall, it was a fun place and still a tasty experience.

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I also loved how themed-out the restaurant was. They had these “sea glass” bottles as water serving bottles—–it was funny though because DJ and I thought everyone was drinking Grey Goose vodka when we walked in, lol.

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They even used the bottles as hanging light fixtures!

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We then went to Santana Row, walked around a while, and then stopped by Safeway for the necessities for a good, chill date night! (Ice cream was already at home, of course ;)). Also- this wine was on sale and I’ve never tried it before. It’s called BV Coastal Estates and man oh man- it is good!

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I was feeling pretty stressed out on Tuesday. I went for a run in the morning and DJ said he was craving some good pancakes. After some research, he found that Uncle-John’s Pancake House in Campbell was supposed to be some of the best! We decided to give it a go!

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We both LOVED the whole ambiance- very 50/60s diner-esque feel (which makes sense considering they started the restaurant chain in 1958!!!!). I’m sure it’s been renovated since- it was pristinely clean and the staff were jovial and welcoming!

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Their coffee was the BOMB!

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I ordered their egg white veggie omelette (yum!), and DJ, of course, ordered their pancakes with a side of eggs and bacon.

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The verdict: Very good pancakes, but not the best. Now, if you like somewhat fluffier pancakes, you would love them! DJ loves the thin with the crispy buttery-caramelized outside. (He claims The Bellagio in Las Vegas are setting the standard).

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The rest of the day I studied my EKGs and prepped for the rest of the meals for the week. From monopoly, I had $2.00 off a large deli roasted chicken, so I grabbed that for DJ. I also made some calrose rice, broccoli, and bread that he could throw onto a plate in the evenings (if he was back for dinner). I stocked up on sweet potato and salad ingredients, as well as this cauliflower lemon piccata which I have been craving lately! It has cauliflower steak, capers, shallots, lemon juice, and is cooked in white wine. I add a bit of basil on top because I think it complements the lemon well!

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The last two nights DJ was home earlier than expected! I was super happy I could get a hug in before hitting the hay.

Wednesday until now has been a non-stop whirlwind. BUT tonight my mom flies in TONIGHT for the marathon on Sunday! WOOHOO!!!!! I can hardly wait.

Oh and below is a snap shot of a breath-taking view I had on the way to work. It’s hard getting up at 4 or 5 almost everyday, but the fact that the sun is coming up earlier and setting later has been helping immensely!

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Blog Birthdays: 

Happy Birthday to Sijo from Sijo Punathil Photography on April 30th!

He has some of the most enthralling, captivating photography I have ever seen (I hyperlinked one of my favorites above!). I hope your birthday is spectacular, Sijo!

Hope everyone has the best weekend…. and before I go I just must remind you…..

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If you don’t get the reference, I’m probably too old.

xo ❤

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The Last Couple Weeks…

Last night after a 12- hour shift I pulled into our apartment complex, parked the car, took the elevator up to our floor and walked into our home.

“How was it?”

That was all it took. The tears just flowed. And flowed some more.

DJ jumped up from the couch and just held me.

The end of my first week of in-hospital nursing came to a close. With it came feelings of incompetence like none I have ever experienced. Those feelings of inadequacy slowly chipped away at my confidence, as though carving out pieces of my soul. After three shifts, I was broken.

I knew this was coming, mentally. I have heard it from countless other new nurses before. I won’t let that happen, I lied to myself.

Yes, this past week was perhaps one of the most emotionally draining of my life. I knew orientation would be a challenge- but I truly don’t know how I’m going to finish everything by the deadline of April 19th. We have countless skills we have to perform in-hospital, but when caring for patients, it’s hard enough to find a bathroom break, let alone demonstrate how to set up a chest tube, how to clean a tracheostomy, how to insert an NG tube, how to change a CVC dressing, set up a lumbar drain, etc.

On top of that is the physical exhaustion- the 4:30 wake up calls, the intense modules to complete on my “day off”, the desire to keep a home running for DJ and I to live in, including keeping groceries stocked and the laundry done.

But perhaps one of the most challenging aspects right now stems from the deep love I have for the people I am caring for. All that above, it’s hard to do, but oh man, it is so worth it when I can care for someone so intimately and make a difference in their lives. But out of this love I have for caring for my patients comes a desire to be freaking good at caring for them. And I’m not. I have no idea what I’m doing right now, and I am beyond frustrated with myself. One of our educators told us multiple times that we have to be forgiving with ourselves. Now I totally understand what she meant.

I forget to chart so many things. I lay awake panicking because I can’t remember if I did A, B, AND C, or if I only did A and B. I drive to work nauseas because I’m so terrified.

But it’s normal, they say.

Do I regret this choice or decision? No.

Do I wonder if I have what it takes? Yes.

Do I have to remind myself multiple times a day that God has a specific plan for me here? Yes.

Is this the first chapter of my story that has a beautiful ending where I can confidently say that I am a good nurse? I really hope so.

Ya’ll know that I’m pretty candid around here. Yes, I LOVE to make the world’s-worst jokes, and I LOVE to laugh-but I will let you know when it’s been tough tough tough. When things get stressful, I tend to go into hermit mode and cut myself off from the world. But in this past couple weeks I have worked up a serious appetite to blog. I feel like it always helps me put things back into perspective. When you can write about a situation, it gives it a tangibility and control at your finger tips. You decide what is highlighted, and ultimately you decide the perspective you have and the learning you gain from the experience. That’s what writing does for me, and it’s cathartic and healing in an essence of its own.

And although this week was so hard, I know that it will get better. I am in a learning season, and sometimes learning is one of the most trying obstacles we can face in life. Why? Because learning requires a stretch of our will, minds, energy, patience, and that is usually uncomfortable. But the awesome truth about the trials of learning is the accompaniment of growth. Lessons aren’t learned in complacency, but rather in tribulation. As is growth. So for that growth I am thankful, I need this stage to help me blossom. I need it to refine me and my character. I need it to meet new friends, lead people to Jesus, and carry out a purpose for which I have been called. One day this stage will allow me to encourage others that walk through it too.

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(Romans 5:3) Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

And in the mean time, I refuse to solely survive. I want to live, I want to thrive. I want to learn as much as I can and not let every negative, exhausting, emotionally draining situation define me or my perspective.

I also don’t write this for pity or anything- it’s simply to have a baseline for myself moving forward so I can see that growth that takes place! I know things will get better, and I hate to be negative, but it’s also important for me to be candid about these things for my own reflection! 

Hope I didn’t give anyone an extra case of the Monday blues! 🙈

Sooo, without further adieu. I would love to share some highlights of our week…

I am officially running the Big Sur Marathon!!! I haven’t officially announced it here because I didn’t know if my work schedule would allow it. To be honest, I haven’t trained much, so it may be a bit rough. If anything, I will see some spectacular views! I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself to get a great time or even finish it if my body says, “heck nah”, so we will see. I did complete an 18-miler with two minor breaks on Friday while studying on the treadmill, so that’s not too bad! This weekend I don’t work Saturday, so I might go for a 22-miler while I study! Anywho…. here are my nature-y pics from other runs during the week!

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DJ and I still haven’t seen each other much during the week. Baseball season is gearing up, so he has been at work till about 10/11 pm every evening including many weekend nights. However, Saturday March 25th, he had a lunch break (where he could actually leave the office). We met at Bill’s because where else?! He ordered the french toast croissant and I ordered the greek omelette again because I’m addicted. We missed ya, Mom and Gordie! (If you missed our awesome weekend and the full review of Bill’s Cafe, check it out here).

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For dinner these past couple weeks, I have done crockpot ribs and a combination of Hello Fresh/Blue Apron, and salads. Blue Apron > Hello Fresh by a LANDSLIDE. I used Hello Fresh because we had a promo giftcard. It was promo no-no. I mean the stuff wasn’t horrible, but it was not Blue Apron. Blue Apron makes me feel like this in the kitchen…

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NOTHING ELSE DOES THAT! 

Oh, and here are the ribs. Made with none other than the SJ Giants BBQ sauce 😉 #REPRESENT

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This meal below was easily one of my favorite Blue Apron meals of all time!!! It was a mozzarella pizza with fresh oregano, spinach, and green bell peppers. YUM. The dough was perfection too.

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Traditionally, spring has been my least favorite season. But these California blooms are poppin’!

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BEST part of the day right here. Circa 5 am. Time with Jesus, coffee, Ezekiel bread/yogurt/strawberries.

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Oh hey look it’s a nurse! Don’t let the uniform fool you. My only recommendation for anything currently is to eat chocolate and take a Tylenol.

***Unless you have liver issues. Do not take more than 4g in a 24 hour period.***

Have to protect my butt now that I have a thing called a license.

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I’ve tried to change the scenery of my study areas and resorted to hanging out in our apartment’s community area. It’s so cute, I don’t know why I haven’t done this more in the past. And I’m lovin’ those pillows.

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On one of my days “off” (there is ALWAYS something to study and do or a class to attend on our days “off”, hence the quotations), I returned a ton of the business casual clothes I didn’t end up wearing for our two big business cas. weeks of orientation. I decided to take a quick stroll around Santana Row just to be outside for a bit. So many amazing memories here. There’s this memory and this memory and this memory……. It made me happy and nostalgic all at the same time.

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Thursday night we had our church group. This is the first time I have been able to make one since the group started up three weeks ago. DJ actually was able to request to leave early and led the group for the evening. Such a stud. My good friend Danielle (from that insane hike), made Lamingtons- a traditional Australian dessert. Holy Maloly they were so good. I can’t even explain. All good things come from Australia.

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She also made Vegemite/Veggie/Bacon and cheese scrolls- Which are seriously manna from heaven, and all people need to try these before they die. Danielle is also one of the greatest bakers ever, and I think Jesus blessed me a little extra with her as a friend.

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Last night was the first date night DJ and I had since my last post (at the Socialight on March 24th). I came home from work around 8 pm emotionally exhausted and hangry as mentioned above. ***I also have to make a side note that DJ cleaned the whole house, did dishes and laundry on his first day off in a couple weeks. He is amazing.***

Anyways, there was a very specific meal I was craving- and that was Lazy Dog’s Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna over Cauliflower mashed potatoes in a curry coconut cream sauce. Luckily, DJ hadn’t ate a huge dinner so we headed over to Main Street for a late one. (Also what better place to go post 12-hour work day than Lazy Dog?)

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This was the highlight of my week. Just spending these precious, small moments with DJ. (He doesn’t like me taking his picture, so I sneak them and then post them on the internet while he’s not looking 😉 ). And then he’ll read this and I’ll get a lecture. It’s like clockwork.

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And forever, the PEET’s mug will host our Sunday mornings.

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So, today was PALM SUNDAY!!!! I needed my church family badly. They encouraged me greatly. Also, in this worship service today, I felt so wrapped in love. There is a specific reason for this… it’s amazing the way God works.

Going back a few years… the day after my dad passed away in high school, I went to church. I felt like going through the “normal” motions was just how I coped. I remember the first song that played in our worship service was “Hosanna”. I couldn’t choke out the words but my heart was singing them. It was laden with emotion and has been for me ever sense. It’s weird though, it doesn’t bring with it feelings of immense sadness and loss necessarily. It brings back the reminder that the Lord is my comfort in my darkest moments. Our church that DJ and I attend now has their own worship music from C3 Church’s elevation worship- they rarely play more “mainstream” worship that most churches know. However, this morning, while I was feeling downcast and perhaps more stressed than I have in my life, the worship team started playing this song. It just brought me such comfort- reminding me that God is my place of rest, my Prince of Peace. I felt like Jesus was reminding me that He will be with me through all of this.

DJ had to work today, but was back home for dinner (officially an anomaly).

For dinner tonight I had some leftover Seared Sesame Ahi tuna from leftover’s last night in my salad with tons of avocado and white cheddar puff pastries from Blue Apron. DJ wanted his leftover ribs.

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I spent the rest of today studying and basically trying to get organized (contrary to what the picture might say).

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The work week starts again bright and early at 5:00 am (which now feels like sleeping in compared to my hospital days). I have modules and classroom work the beginning of the week and 12-hour shifts starting Thursday.

I am so very sad that blogging has been put on the big ole’ back burner. Once orientation is over the load should lighten up a bit. I send ya’ll so much love.

xo ❤

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Week(end) recap & First Day on the Job!

Happy Mondayyyyy!!!!!!!

Maybe your Monday has been like this….

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Or, perhaps, like this…

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Based on the amount of caffeine I’ve needed to support my 2.5 hours of sleep and first day of work (hence the 2.5 hours of sleep), my Monday has been like this…

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I will recap how today went a little bit later. But for now I will give a short little recap of our week/weekend.

Last week I had to finish up last minute things on the checklist to get ready for work. On Wednesday night we met our friends (Danielle, I went on the hike with ,and her husband Matt) for sushi.

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We just love hanging out with them. Except they are forever cooler than us because they have Australian accents!

This might be my new favorite sushi place in the area. I love everything about the ambiance, and the sushi was superb!

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DJ ordered their lobster tempura roll and I may have snuck a few extra bites when he wasn’t looking… because YUM!

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I ordered a bit of a unique dish-but  I cannot wait to order it again! It is called the “Feel Free and Fresh Roll”- this is a cucumber wrapped roll with salmon, yellowtail, white fish, crab and avocado topped with creamy ponzu, apply pear, and tobiko. It was the most refreshing roll I have ever had. It is hearty too- with all the good protein from the fish. The whole thing was just a winner, and a new fave. Don’t be surprised if you see this little guy poppin’ up more around these parts 😉

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Thursday I went on a nice long run outside. I snagged this picture without realizing I was stepping in a beehive. WHOOPS! No worries- no stings, but it was a close call. I probably looked hilarious to the cars passing by as I flailed in a million directions while doing a furious pat-down to make sure no little devils were on me!

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I also went to Santana Row while running around getting last minute things for the job. H & M is a winner for business casual! I also finally found a great hair salon that doesn’t cost an arm & a leg… it only costs a hair!!! LOLOLOL. Ok- come on, that was one of my better ones, eh?!

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Thursday night I made another Blue Apron meal for DJ!! I have had SO many people ask me about Blue Apron, so I reached out to them to see if I could get a discount for my readers! If you go to my About page, I have link for $30 off your order! This service is a life saver- especially on busy days, and you will learn tons about cooking and how to use a vast array of different ingredients in the process!

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This night we made Oaxaca Plantain Tortas with sautéed shallots and red peppers. I didn’t know what to expect, and I wasn’t sure how DJ was going to respond to them, but he gobbled them right up! The combination of ingredients in BA always surprise me, but they always work!

After dinner we went on a nice walk together. Something I miss about our Indiana days were the walks we took after dinner when the weather was nice. Life is getting crazy, DJ isn’t returning home until 7:30/8 every night now (but he loves his job!), and soon I’ll be leaving before he even gets home (Get used to working that microwave, baby!). But it makes us appreciate the time we do have together, and reminds us to stop to smell the flowers 😉

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FRIYAY= ST. PATTYS DAY!

Ya’ll know I get wayyyy too worked up about any holiday. Mom L and Gordie sent us these gorgeous flowers as a thank you for the weekend, but also as a Happy St. Pat’s day. Now if that’s not permission to get into the spirit, I don’t know what is!!!

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ALSO, I am convinced that I have a sprinkle of Irish in me because I have freckles. And Mackenzie is a somewhat Irish name, right? It has an “M” and a “C” soooooo…………… I’m basically a leprechaun.

DJ rolled his eyes about 290359 times at me during the night when I said, “Kiss me, I’m Irish!”

He denies that I have even a smidgeon of Irish in my heritage.

I’m coming for ya Ancestry.com

But for real, who doesn’t get a serious case of FOMO if they aren’t Irish on St. Paddy’s?

Anywho. Ain’t gonna let the DNA keep me away from the ST. PADDYS DAY!

I had to make sure that we had our “Irish pub fix”. DJ and I have never “celebrated” this together before, but I didn’t want to miss the chance to take advantage.

Where better to go than Historic Murphy Avenue in Sunnyvale?

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We never knew this area even existed, but it has a street lined with darling lights, fabulous restaurant options, and interesting, eye-grabbing shops. We will certainly be back here to explore more!

In doing my “Yelp” research, I found that The Oxford is great for your St. P’s fix.

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To really get in the spirit, I decided to get an Oxford Mule (their main drink). I liked the ginger a lot, but I’m not gonna lie- I missed my Friday-date-night glass of red wine!

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Still good though, especially if you like Moscow Mules. Then again, this is the only one I’ve ever tried so I have nothing to compare it to.

This place is a fusion of all types- but I would say it’s retro london with a taste of modern industrial architecture (but maybes that’s just English style?).

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For dinner we were placed at their outfacing island. I loved this because we felt like we had the best of both words, half in and half out of the restaurant.

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It was challenging getting good pictures under the dim lighting, but I gave it my best Irish-girl shot. We started with the Monterey Squid with char-grilled squid, arugula, tomatoes, radish, & parsley relish. Every time a menu has octopus or squid as an app I basically have to order it. Why you say? Because the spanish octopus I had at Marco Prime in Marco Island was the greatest thing on the planet, and I will do anything to have that taste linger on my tongue once more. To have Spanish Octopus grace me with it’s presence……. Yes, I am the Shakespeare of food, how kind of you to notice. Anywho, this did not even come close to that level of flavor. On to the next squid..

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DJ ordered their Lamb Sliders. He devoured these little suckers right quick, so I’ll take it he enjoyed them. Orrrr he was trying to avoid conversation with me. We will go with the former.

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Now- I’m super bummin’ that I didn’t get a great picture of this dish because it was AH-MAY-ZING. Allow me to present chermoula eggplant with roasted eggplant, saffron rice, spiced yogurt, and cherry tomato crush. I don’t know what they put in that yogurt sauce- but good heavens, there are no words. DJ even said he couldn’t believe how good it was. I downloaded a saffron yogurt recipe and plan on trying to re-invent this in the future.

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DJ and I walked around Historic Murphy path after swearing we would be coming back in the near future. It was hopping since it is stacked with pub after pub after pub.
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Saturday, I got a nice long training run in on the treadmill while reading HP (currently on the third book, and I use it as motivation to get everything done during the day so I can read #HPaddict), did the household chores, and waited for DJ to get home from work.

At this point in the weekend I was feeling ancy mcnancy (Not making another Irish joke- I’m done, I promise, maybe). I was ridden with anxiety knowing I was starting up work on Monday. I wasn’t running to God’s truth and scripture much during the week, and naturally the anxiety was consuming me.

But I’m telling ya, God truly will renew our soul and relieve our anxiety, we just have to come to Him (1 Peter 5:7). I flipped open to John 14, the next chapter I was going to read going through the book of John, and literally the first verse said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

And then a few verses later in vs. 26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

He doesn’t give us a peace like the world gives- a peace that’s fleeting, a peace that is contingent upon circumstances, a peace that is dependent upon our emotions. The peace Christ has for us is lasting and sure. It is a peace that we can use as weapon when life isn’t comfortable (and it’s not a lot of the time). We can find joy through this peace in His name, despite anything that comes our way. My anxiety lessened when He worked on my heart and my perspective. His still, beautifully familiar voice (I haven’t made time for in my chaos) spoke to me and stopped the world from spinning off it’s axis-“I’ve got you” He said. He reminded me of His love and His promises which gave my heart utter, perfect, heavenly peace.

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DJ and I went on a walk when he came home. We went to Main Street Cupertino and then idly strolled other side streets. I savored each step, because I don’t know how this next chapter will look for us moving forward.

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DJ and I had a late snacky-type dinner of cheese and crackers (We have ate SOOO many cheese and crackers this week, it’s comical)…..but we still had a bit of room for more food around 8 pm. We decided to go to Rootstock, a place we had been wanting to go together for a while.

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They have an awesome bruschetta menu. We split the bruschetta (smoked salmon FTW), and I finally had my glass of red wine that I was sad I veered away from the day before.

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Sunday we went to church and then I finished up last minute errands. I made sure all my documents were good to go, and I even got a big girl purse to store everything from Target!

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For dinner we had salmon, edamame, and saffron rice leftover from The Oxford (There was tons).

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And today was the first day on the job!!!! I am wearing my Ann Taylor thrifted shirt that I bought a couple months ago if it looks familiar 😉

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GUYS- I LOVE THIS JOB! I love love love love love love love it. I am fatigued beyond words, but I love my colleagues (instant friends right there), I love my hospital, I love their mission, I love that I am only a couple weeks away from meeting my first patients as a real RN, and I am absolutely elated. The first day could not have gone better. Even on ZERO sleep, it was perfect.

I woke up (or more correctly, rolled out of bed) at 5:00 am- chugged a cup of coffee, a protein bar, & left the house by 6. The whole day the environment radiated non-pompous professionalism, compassion, joy, and genuine care for us as residents and for the patients of the hospital. Although it was mostly just logistical stuff, I truly think I gathered a great feel for the atmosphere, the expectations, and the type of program I am in. Lemme tell ya, I can’t wait to go back tomorrow. My fears have certainly been mitigated, and all I feel in this exhausted moment is blessed. I can’t wait to get on my floor so soon!

The rest of this week is orientation- same old, getting up at 5 getting home at 7 ish and then next week I have a similar schedule until I start 12 hour day shifts the first week of April. After that I transition into nights. I am actually excited about nights because I can’t sleep when I know I have to wake up early- I get all nutty about missing my alarm and stay awake like a raccoon. So rather than not sleeping nights & days, I just won’t be sleeping nights! As though this time difference isn’t enough already for my East coast folks, now I’m gonna go all nocturnal on ya’ll.

How is everyone doing?! Anyone out there legitimately Irish? Ya’ lucky ducks

Blog Birthdays!

Lathi at CookwithSmile on Thursday March 23rd

Myra at The Cooking Spoon on Monday March 26th

Happy Birthday to both of you! I am thankful for you both as blog friends and hope your birthday is absolutely perfect. You deserve to be spoiled and know that you are SO loved!

xo ❤

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Adventures of a Weekend; Memories of a Lifetime

I truly do not even know where to begin!!!! Since Thursday, there have been memories made that I will treasure for my entire life. So, without further adieu, welcome to one of the greatest weekends for the books!

It all began Thursday morning. I woke up bright and early and zipped to SF to meet one amazing individual….

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….KM from Ankhor You! I can’t tell you how surreal it was to meet this beautiful lady in person!!! She is such a gem, and truly the energy, love, and kindness that she shares through her blog she radiates in person equally. This is the first time I’ve met someone that I initially met through blogging, and I can’t stop talking about how nice it was to sit down and have a cup of coffee with her! (And of course, we met at Peet’s 😉 ).

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I also had the pleasure of meeting her lovely friend, Sarah! Ugh I wish we all lived closer so we could hangout!

Please come back soon, dear. SF loved having you guys here!  It was SUCH a joy to spend time with these two- have I made that clear?! Ok- good! I’m just glad I didn’t scare them away! Hahah.

JJ- we’re coming for you next!

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The rest of Thursday I went grocery shopping, cleaned a bit, finished up laundry, and napped (GASP!!!).

Friday, DJ’s mom (whom I’ll call Mom L for the purpose of the blog), and Gordie (Step dad!) flew into SF! They arrived at our place around 11:30 in the morning. I was giddy all morning to see them. It felt far too long since Christmas!

I have been ecstatic to show them around our stomping grounds. The last time they were here was to move us in- a time reminiscent of a giant Uhaul, an empty apartment complex, and zero food in the fridge.

BUT this time, I was able to show them the transformation of the empty walls into a livable home, and we all shared some good snacks to tide us over until dinner that night!

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You can never go wrong with cheese and crackers, can I get an AMEN?!

DJ came home from work early at about 2:00, and I had to go back to the dentist to get my final cap put on my “yellow tooth” at 2:30 (hallelujah that is over with)! Also— you know I can’t go on without pointing out the irony that I went to the dentist at 2:30—- GET IT?!

For the weekend, they said they wanted to experience all our favorite restaurants/spots since we have been here. Mom L is a loyal follower of the blog, so she knew I would have great foodie spots for us to go to 😉

Orchard City Kitchen was our first on the list!

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The first time we went here was in September of last year with a friend of DJ’s. It quickly made it’s way to the top of our favorites due to it’s rustic yet modern ambiance, it’s unique menu, and of course, it’s phenomenal food!!! The way this works is you order about four of five small dishes and share them with the table. Each bite is jam packed with flavors unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

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We started with their famous triple B (biscuits, bacon, and honey butter). I don’t know what it is about this, but it’s the kind of thing that just sticks in your memory (PUN INTENDED). The biscuits were perfection, the butter was some of the best honey butter EVER, and the bacon (I observed) was tremendous. This little dish was talked about almost every day after for the rest of the weekend.

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Next we tried the lobster dumplings. These had karashi su miso, black vinegar, fennel, and kizami nori… yeah yeah none of us really know what any of that is- but we do know they were a winner!

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Next was the rainbow cauliflower salad. This had ricotta-yogurt, beets, radish, romanesco, and curried tenkasu. It was decent, but in light of everything else at the table, it may have been a bit underwhelming. Although, I will say the mix of the ricotta yogurt and curried tenkasu was a wonderful combination! The spices of the tenkasu and the coolness of the yogurt was the perfect balance.

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Ready for your mouth to really start watering? This is the spaghetti & calamari dish with bolognese, fried calamari, and parm. I tried a small bite of the calamari and the spaghetti- Wowzers Mctrowsers. So yum.

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We also tried the adobo pork shanks. This was accompanied by pickled green papaya relish, li hing mui, puffed rice, and cilantro. I did not try the pork- but everyone seemed to love it. I can attest, however, that the accompanying salad was mangifico.

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The last thing we tried was the torn salmon with charred avocado, cucumber, kumquats, black pepper sauce, and tzatziki. This was terrific! Quite possibly some of the greatest salmon I have ever tasted.

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We came home and watched some of the OJ Simpson documentary on Hulu while our food digested. It’s long, but captivating beginning to end. Anyone seen it?!

Once we had a bit more room, we headed to …. *drumroll*.. CREAM! (They said they wanted to sample the best, so no judging for us being here twice in less than a week 😉 ).

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And just to prove to you all how cool my in-laws are, guess what they ordered?! The formidable Sundae of Champions!!!!

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SO proud ❤

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DJ ordered an ice cream sandwich, so I nibbled a bit on his.

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My phone went ballistic when we got home and wouldn’t turn back on. Especially with this new job starting I tossed and turned all night worrying about my phone.

On Saturday morning, I went for a nice long run to work out the nerves. DJ had to work for a few hours, and Mom L recommended that we could go in and get a new phone. I didn’t want them to have to go to the store with me on their time here, but they were incredibly gracious standing with me as I figured out the new phone situation. It all was for the best because it allowed me to grab some crisp photos for the rest of the weekend!

After working up an appetite figuring out the new phone, we headed to Bill’s Cafe! (This one probably looks super familiar as well). I knew this place would not disappoint. DJ finished up his morning shift and met us just in time to order!

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We started with yummy coffee and Bill’s Famous Mimosas!

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Mom L ordered their Bread Pudding French Toast. This is their famous bread pudding baked with walnuts and raisins, dipped in a rich batter and grilled to perfection, topped with fried banana and a special bread pudding sauce. They have a disclaimer next to it- “Only served at Bill’s”. Mom L raved about how good it was, and when I took a bite, I understood why. Ohhhhhh my lanta. Even if they do serve bread pudding elsewhere, this one, I guarantee, is the best.

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Gordie ordered their Parisienne French toast which was a croissant baked fresh daily in their oven, dipped in egg batter and grilled, sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. (This is what Danielle ordered when I went with her after the hike!). I raved about it in the last post! Gordie concurred that it was rave-worthy and worth the hype.

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DJ ordered their chocolate chip pancakes! Cannot go wrong with a classic!

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I ordered their French Garden Omelette again with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and avocado. I usually try to order different items each time I go to a restaurant, but I couldn’t resist. It was just too delish last time and it was hitting my “crave” buttons. I ordered the dish with egg whites this time and they were just as tasty as the regular eggs from last time. I also tried the potatoes, and although I loved their hash-browns, these potatoes were on a different level!!!

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After our beyond satisfying breakfast we made the gorgeous drive down the 280 into SF. (In California highways are referred to as “The”, which I’m having a hard time adapting, but I’m giving it my darndest!).

Once we found parking (which is always a feat), we headed to the Ferry building. I was showing Mom L the different shops and pointed out the Peet’s where I met KM. Two seconds later guess who I spotted?!

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Her and Sarah! SO crazy! It was a wonderful unexpected treat to see these two beauties again! They were about to travel home for the evening, but I was glad they had such a great time in the city. Naturally, K and I grabbed one more picture together for the road. I cannot wait to read her posts!

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While walking around, we couldn’t believe the weather was actually this perfect. It’s been a record breaking rainy season, so we just kept saying Mom and Gordie brought the good weather with them and would have to move here so it stayed this nice!

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We enjoyed the brilliant sunshine and energy that it brought out to the pier. Everyone seemed to be in a fabulous mood, and the pier was filled with artists, musicians, painters, and street vendors who filled the roads with creativity and scents of delicious wafting food.

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And of course we had to peruze the notable Pier 39.

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DJ’ favorite part of the pier is viewing the sea lions. They are hilarious to watch. Free entertainment right there!

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Ok- are these two not the cutest ever?! Ah, I just love em’.

For the evening, DJ suggested we do a twilight cruise! It’s impossible to pick a favorite part of the weekend- but this cruise was undeniably a glowing highlight!

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Our photogenic little bird friend

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Selfie with the photogenic little bird friend

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The views from this cruise coupled with the stupendous day created an experience nothing short of magical. We passed under the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, AT & T park, and The Bay Bridge!

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I love these pictures below so much 😂 if you can’t tell it was a bit windy!

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Once we watched the sunset, we headed down to the main floor to grab hor dourves and drinks. They had us under the impression that light snacks were being served- but we easily made a scrumptious dinner of their fruit and cheese board, hummus, crackers, sandwiches, spinach pastries, and wraps.

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The view of the city transformed from a glowing reflection of the oranges and reds of the sun into twinkling lights of the skyline. The Bay Bridge lit up and majestically provided a gleaming point of reference as we sailed on the moonlit Pacific water.

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After the cruise and discussing how this would be a night to remember forever, we braved our way through the cold (50s) to Ghiradelli square. You could follow the scent of chocolate (and use your GPS just a little) and find your way!

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After peaking around the plethora of cutesy shops and boutiques, we somehow found ourselves in line for their World Famous Hot Fudge sundae. Imagine that! 😉

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The picture I think speaks for itself. If you are a hot fudge sundae fan, add this to your food bucket list!

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We ubered back to where we parked and all slept like babies that evening.

Sunday morning we went to Church all together. DJ and I were thrilled that we could share our church with them. It’s a huge part of our lives living out here and it was a blast introducing them to all our friends, worship beside them, and discuss the message afterwards. When we would all go to church together in Ohio we would usually get brunch out or at home after and have great conversation over what we all gleaned from the preaching. It felt so good to do that again, only this time on the other side of the country!

This brunch included none other than Los Gatos cafe! Home of the epic, mammoth, insanely delicious cinnamon roll!

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This place has an extensive Benedict’s menu. Mom L and I each ordered one, and the guys ordered crepes!

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Poached eggs FTW!

After another memorable foodie experience we made our way down Palm drive to Stanford University. We showed them around the gorgeous campus, stopped in the bookstore, and then zoomed past the building I’ll be working in a nurse nearby. It made me feel better to see the actual place- it’s less intimidating when you can tangibly see something and it’s not some vague idea in your mind! (Vague ideas and unknowns become monsters very quickly in my mind when they aren’t put in their place!).

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The last time we were at Stanford’s campus like that was with my Aunt and Uncle– made me miss them lots!!

Anyway, as though this day wasn’t fun filled enough, we had one of the greatest adventures to come right around the corner.

Back in October when I was looking up Halloween festivities, GrandView restaurant  on Mt. Hamilton came up as a haunted place. (I don’t actually believe it’s haunted- just all to be festive)!

It ended up being one of our all time favorite dinners and memories. This is a hidden gem that I tell everyone they must experience at least once if they come out here!

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We came right on time to witness a spectacular sunset.

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One of my prayers is to look half as good as my momma-in-law when I’m her age!

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I also played with my camera a ton while being here!

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We were then seated for dinner. We had the most fabulous shrimp cocktail, a refreshing caprese salad, lobster carbonara for Mom L and Gordie, crab stuffed salmon for myself, and a pasta dish for DJ. Us girls were given the “good view” side of the table overlooking the Silicon Valley. The waiter said it was because the guys already had a good view 😉

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We finished off this unbelievably savory meal with a slice of cheesecake to share. I loved the addition of the dark chocolate chips on top! It complemented the sweetness of the cheesecake perfectly.

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We snaked down the long mountain and hit the hay. The next morning they headed back to Ohio ): I’m thankful for these memories created in such a short span of time that will last a lifetime.

Love you Mom and Gordie and so thankful for you!

Monday night DJ and I watched bachelor and gawked at the awkwardness that occurred on after the final rose. Anyone watch?! OH my goodness- poor Rachel.. she handled it like a champ though (the whole meeting the men early situation).

The rest of this week I am gearing up to start my new job Monday!!!  I could use prayers- the nerves are real! I can’t wait to give you all and update on how orientation goes. Thank you always for your love and support.

xo ❤

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Loaded Vegan Nachos & Lightlife Winner Announced!

Today I am announcing the winner of the LightLife Giveaway!!!! Drum roll…..Congratulations to Melissa V! You have some delicious Lightlife and Nasoya free product coupons coming your way! Thank you to everyone who participated 🙂

So about that recipe… You know how some healthy food substitutes are “good enough”, but just not quite the same? Hold all presumptions about these loaded vegan nachos. I made these for the Super Bowl party I went to yesterday, and not only were they gobbled up in no time, but people were shocked that they were vegan. Something I loved about them is I just kept eating them without feeling weighed down- that’s the beauty of veggie-based eats!

So without further adieu, I present Loaded Vegan Nachos: **Adopted based on Lightlife Recipes

Grocery List

1 large bag Tortilla chips of choice (I used Simply Balanced Organic white corn tortilla chips with black bean and flaxseed)

1 can fat-free refried beans

2 Cup Lightlife  Smart Ground Crumbles

1.5 Cup Low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained

1 Cup corn

1 Cup Daiya cheddar flavor shreds

1 Cup Daiya pepper jack shreds

1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced

1/4 cup green onion

A couple cilantro sprigs

1.5 Cup pico de gallo (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400F.
  2. Place one layer of chips on the bottom of a 9×13 or 10x15x1 pan (usually uses about half the bag)
  3. Layer with refried beans (place dollops of beans around the chips and then use spatula to spread across the chips).
  4. Continue to layer with LightLife Smart Ground, black beans, corn, cheese, and jalapeños.
  5. Transfer pan to oven and bake until cheese is melted. About 20 minutes. **Daiya cheese doesn’t have the appearance of melting- but it tastes melted when you eat it!
  6. Top with green onions and cilantro and leave a bowl of pico de gallo to the side as an optional add on!
  7. Place the rest of the chips in a bowl next to the dip
  8. Enjoy the best loaded vegan nachos of your life!

Nutrition

per 1 serving: 12 servings total

Calories: 244

Fat: 7.9g (only 1.5g saturated)

Carbs: 30g

Protein: 11g

Sugars: 2g

Fiber: 6.6g

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

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

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

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

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

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

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

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

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

 Wednesday (1/25)

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

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I swear, the voice changers on snapchat never get old

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SUNDAY! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh and that’s not all…

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

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

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Love her ❤

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

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

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Blog Birthdays:

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

xo ❤

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SURPRISE: San Antonio, TX!

HOLAAAAA!!!!! To say I’m ecstatic to share this post would be an understatement. I arrived in Texas late Thursday night, so I will share the very beginning of those festivities in my next update post. BUT for now- guess what we have?!?!?…. A TRAVEL post!!! And the best part was how unexpected this one was!

On the Thursday that I arrived, my mom handed my sister and I each envelopes with the CUTEST notes inside….

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My sister is fluent in Spanish, has lived in Dominican Republic and Honduras for brief periods of time, and has been dying to use her Spanish lately, so she was beyond excited about this “hispanic adventure”. 🙂

My mom also knows how much I love blogging about our travels, and so she thought it would be a fun place to go to take lots of pictures, experience authentic culture and cuisine, and make some amazing family memories.

DJ had to stay in Cali for work, and my stepdad (Pete) insisted that we make this a girl’s trip… hence, we had the most epic girl’s trip to San Antonio for a literal 36 hours. We left at 7:30 am Saturday and returned 7:30 pm Sunday, on the nose.

Also fun fact: the last time I was in San Antonio was with my mom and dad when I was 23 months old. Now here I am, almost 23, going back to San Antonio on the exact same weekend I did all those years ago ❤

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As soon as we arrived, we took our bags up to our hotel room and hit the gym for a 30 min. run to get our energy levels up after the 4.5 hours of driving. It was exactly what we needed. The sun was just beginning to peak out too when we stepped outside, so it was perfect timing.

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We walked by the river walk, but didn’t yet explore because we had other things on our minds……. FOOD.

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My mom insisted that we eat at a restaurant in the Historic Market Square. This place is just one giant festival. The colors and decorations are multitudinous and vibrant, a nice change from the neutral tones of the Bay Area. Patrons and restaurant employees line the bricked walkway in los charros and las china poblanas (traditional hispanic garb). The atmosphere was contagiously upbeat, and the smells of food lingered through the air, enticing each passerby to consider stopping in to sample their own claim to fame.

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Mi Tierra is where my mom insisted we indulge. She never leads astray when it comes to good comida, so Halston (my sister) and I happily obliged.

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We put our names in and were told there would be about a 45 minute wait. Ya’ll think I can get hangry? You haven’t met mi hermana. She can be a wildebeast when she needs food. Sorry, Hal, it’s the truth. So 45 minutes just sounded a tad too long for us to twiddle our thumbs. Rather, we decided to go to the bar and order some drinks and apps to tide us over. Luckily we snatched the last few seats next to some locals wearing Mexican palm cowboy hats.

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Frozen margaritas for me and mother bear for starters

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I’m not the biggest fan of them, but when in Rome (Aka when in San Antonio). This one was delicious and accompanied the food super well. My favorite is the salt around the rim and I do prefer them frozen better, I must say.

& Virgin pina colada for baby sister bear. 

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We decided to split their special shrimp cocktail which uses jumbo shrimp, cocktail sauce, avocado, cilantro, and a bit of something magical to create the perfect combination. I wish so badly you could have tried this, Deej, because it was RIGHT up your alley!!!!

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And naturally- we had to taste test the salsa, avocado, and chips. My mom makes some out-of-this-world homemade guac, so that’s always the degree of comparison when we try other places’ recipes. The smoky flavored salsa was fantastic, chips were great, and the guac… on.point. No worries, Momma Jill’s still takes the lead.

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We didn’t leave a morsel of food behind… and then our buzzer paged notifying us that we had a table available. Oh shoot, we were gonna eat lunch weren’t we?! We decided we were pretty darn full and would just munch on the boardwalk when we grew hungry again.

We hopped into this bathroom before heading out and I had to take a picture. It was just darlin’!

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TIME TO EXPLORE!!!!

We finished exploring the Historic Market Square and then went to the indoor Historic Market place right next to it.

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Santa was just hangin’ around.

We stopped and watched the performances going on here for a few minutes, walked through the shops, and admired the handmade trinkets that littered the walls.

Now it was time to make our way to the River Walk!!!!

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The River Walk was absolutely like nothing I have ever experienced. It takes you to another place, and you really don’t even feel like you are in the United States anymore.

With the authentic Mexican eateries every few feet, one may assume they are in Mexico. When passing the Italian Cafe’s, one may have assumed they landed in a Venetian oasis.

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After exploring the River Walk we went to the Alamo. This holds a special place in my family’s heart. We have an Uncle who voluntarily came down from Kentucky and was killed in the battle. We found his name on the wall, took a picture, and discussed how sobering this moment was. All these years later, here are his great-great-great nieces were still coming to this place and discussing his memory because of his service.

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After exploring The Alamo, we hit the road and went to the Shops at the Rivercenter.

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I know where some of my blogging ladies would be spending their time 😉

The mall wasn’t insanely huge or anything, but it was awesome because you had a spectacular view of the river walk the entire time you shopped! We also picked up some Timberlands for my sister while we were there from Journeys!

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We did a bit more exploring around the awe-inspiring architecture and Cathedrals.

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———————-

TIME FOR A BREATHER.

We went back to the hotel and spent about 15 minutes resting our feet and recouping our energy. My mom kept saying, “Ya’ll better not fall asleep! I mean it!”.

Ok- we are good to go.

LET’S HIT IT!

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We headed back out as it started getting dark and decided to do the Riverboat Tour, because it’s like a requirement in San Antonio, honestly.We waited for a bit over an hour before we finally were able to get on the boat, but it was worth every second. The way the lights lined the gargantuan trees that loomed over the water, the jovially boisterous noise from all angles as people settled in for dinners and drinks, the music reverberating off the ancient brick, and memories being created for lifetimes all around us made the wait pleasantly bearable.

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The tour itself was one of my favorite parts of the trip. The air had a gentle breeze that was soft enough to just about put me  to sleep (coupled with the fact that we probably walked about six miles in a day). The coaxing of the boat down the water and the smooth rocking enhanced the experience of seeing the River Walk in an entirely new way. I loved the history that the guide provided about gems of San Antonio. Buildings we would pass by without a single glance now demanded a thought in space and time.

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We were able to get up close and personal to a monologue of Ebenezer Scrooge. This moment took me back to feeling like I was five years old again. The magic of Christmas was thick in the air.

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It cooled down incredibly quick, so I threw on this cardigan that I have been anxious to use for a night just like this!

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I know that you are all wondering- what about dinner?!?! I was wondering the same thing too by the time I got off that river boat! Most of the places on the River Walk are chains, and the ones that aren’t have a tremendous wait. We decided to try Yard House. This is one of my sister’s favorites. I have never been, but I will certainly be going back. The ONLY negative is they don’t serve bread, and my sister and I live for the bread at the beginning of meals.

We all basically have the same taste in food between my mom, sister, and I. We ordered a few things and then just shared them. We had the red quinoa salad bowl which included kale, parsley, brussels sprouts, roasted beets, cauliflower, pomegranate, feta, baby tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, and blood orange olive oil vinaigrette. Oh my lanta. I could eat this every day for the rest of my life I’m pretty sure.

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Next we shared the Mediterranean Salmon which was za’atar crusted with spicy tahini sauce and red quinoa with cauliflower, kale, golden raisins, and pistachios. It was YUM. I have never known what to use za’atar for (I have a bunch in my cabinet), so I am so pumped to start using it to crust my salmon!!!

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Last was the INSANELY delicious BBQ “Chicken” Pizza. It included Daiya (vegan) mozzarella, cilantro, red onion, and BBQ sauce. **Usually it just comes with normal mozzarella, but we asked for the substitute. This reminded me of the pizza samples we had from Morning Star at EAT/DRINK SF in August!!! Just fantastic.

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Next, we had to face the cold. The temperature had plummeted from the time we went in for dinner to when we left. Good thing giant blankets are back in style. LOLZ.

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In the morning on Sunday, we worked out for an hour, and then hit the River Walk for brunch.

But before we actually ate, we had to commemorate little sister’s first steps in her Timberlands 😉

When Halston read this ^^^ she said “Kenz, you make it sound like I’m a two year old! Take that off your blog!” Hahah. Tough luck chuck. I like it so it’s stayin’.

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Isn’t she the cutest in all the land?

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In other news, I hit a new level of basic. Didn’t think that was possible did ya?

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And on that note…Off to brunch!!

We decided to try this amazing place called Ostra. Momma Jill went in the past with Pete and said it was the bomb dot diggity. Just not in those words. We basically skipped in there we were so hungry and excited to eat their food.

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My sister ordered a hot chocolate while my mom and I ordered mimosas and coffee. Why coffee too? Because coffee never needs a reason, but also it was PEETS!!!!! Yes they serve Peets!!!!!!!

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We decided to do the breakfast buffet. They had about four tables of delicacies to choose from and an omelette bar. It hit the spot! We tried their special Chilaquiles, jams, fruit, toast (they had Fage to put on my toast, so I was pumped), granola, etc. etc. For meat eaters, they were not lacking in options- they had a plethora of delicious and unique options like blueberry sausage!

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We ate our fill (and then some) then headed out to the Natural Bridge Caverns. My sister and I have never been to Caverns before, so we were in for a real treat.

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Everything felt prehistoric and although we were freezing our tooshes off outside, the caverns themselves were toasty warm. Also, it’s a third degree felony to touch the cavern objects, so don’t do that.

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The pictures below cannot do justice to just how mammoth these caverns were. They were breath taking. Despite how my sister and I stood with our mouths agape the entire time, my mom swore that these didn’t even compare to the Luray Caverns in Virginia. Anyone ever been?

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Just a couple of cave-dwellers.

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We headed home after thirty-six hours that we will each forever treasure ❤

Thank you again, Mom!!!!

See ya’ll on the next post on my time here in Fort Worth!!! 🙂

xo ❤

Mack

Beaches & Pups & Coffee Cups! ☕️

Hey, everyone!

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First off- thank you to everybody who popped into the Mingle & Jingle!!! I wasn’t sure what to expect hosting one, but you all made it such fun!!

So…. I am a bit guilty on not doing an update post for a while…. and you know what that means…. a loooOOOooong one! But puppies & french fries are included- so it will be worth your time.

On Friday the ….*calculating date in head*….*just kidding pulling out phone calendar*…2nd of December… I went to Santa Cruz with a friend! It was her birthday weekend, and she wanted to spend the day frolicking on the beach with this little pup! She has a childhood friend that lives there, and he let us borrow the pup for a day. We took the little guy out on the beach for a while and then followed up with lunch after!

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Puppy kisses are the best

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We had her birthday lunch at a place in downtown Santa Cruz called Assembly. I wish I could say I highly recommend it, but pretty much every mistake a restaurant staff could make, they made- to a comical point. I’m not one to get my panties in a bunch about that stuff, but man, it was badddd. Their saving grace was their garlic fries with parmesan & aioli, which- not even kidding-were the best fries I have ever had. I’m not even a big french fry person! I would put up with the worst service in the world for these fries. Which I’m pretty sure we did…. haha. They were so scrumptious, I ended up getting an order for DJ too. It was one of those, “you haven’t lived till you tried this” type foods.

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We sat outside on the patio, but the inside  with the antler chandeliers was just darlin’!

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After our interesting restaurant experience, we walked around downtown and snuck in some cute little boutiques. Our favorite part while walking around was seeing these pups chilling in a bright yellow car, the one looking like it was in full control of the driver’s seat. This reminded me of the movie, My Dog Skip. Anyone ever seen it? I know my younger sister, Halston, will love this, since it was her favorite movie growing up!

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We stopped in a little classic candy shoppe called Marini’s. It had the classic burger and shake bar and the fudge shoppe on the other side. I love these retro places ❤

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On Friday night, DJ and I went to Main Street Cupertino’s tree lighting. I had this marked on our calendar for the whole month. It advertised that there would be all this festive stuff to do, hot chocolate, photo booth, etc. etc., and I was so excited. However, this was probably the most anticlimactic event and/or tree lighting I have ever seen. You can take a look for yourself! LOLZ. I think it also may have been a requirement to have a little tike, because there was not a single family without kids. The hot chocolate station said, “Kids Hot Chocolate station” so there goes the best part! I joked that we should ‘borrow’ some family’s kids so we could get some of that hot cocoa. Pshh. “Kid only Hot Chocolate”. What a nutty concept, I tell ya what.

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After the tree lighting, we went to a Moroccan Restaurant in Mountain View. We were craving it after loving our experiences in Dallas & Indianapolis, and this place had raving reviews.

To our great surprise, there was a belly dancer!!! Ok, to my great surprise…..but DJ… I think he was a smidge uncomfortable about this belly dancer shaking it around us while he was just trying to enjoy his beef tagine. I was just fascinated!

And I’m pretty sure the couple next to us were on a first date. They looked quite uncomfortable, and the music was turned up so loud that no one could hold a steady conversation. The man said something to the server, and the server replied, “No sir, we are not a club”. It took everything in me to not bust out laughing.

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Anyway, the place was super authentic and the food was delicious!! I didn’t get good foodie pics, because the lighting was super dim. Trust meh- it was tasty.

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Saturday (12/3) … I baked goodies all day long, DJ played basketball with some friends in the morning then lounged while watching sports & ending with some Netflix- it was just a perfect Saturday.

Sunday (12/4), We went to Church followed by Christmas in the Park in downtown San Jose!!!! This was another event that we forgot to bring our kids to. 😉

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Photo-bombed by a nutcracker. My Christmas is made.

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Oh hey- does this look familiar?! I finished up my Christmas baking Sunday night 🙂

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Mondays are usually my “get yo life together” day of cleaning/laundry/errands/pulling my hair out/etc. On Monday (12/5) night we got together with some friends and had authentic Korean cuisine! We tried the seafood soft tofu dish (left) & the vegetable tofu dish (right). They were still boiling when placed on the table. They are served with two eggs that you crack in each dish and then stir around the broken yolk. It’s family style, and each person gets a bowl of the purple rice to add whatever  side (kimchi, pickled pear, rice noodles, etc.) they wish on top! We have never had an experience like this and it was a fun endeavor! Plus it was excellent quality time with great new friends.

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The rest of the week is a bit of a blur. Since the rest of December I am traveling, I had soooo many things to do and figure out to get ready for Christmas and traveling. I felt like I was living in the post office and running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I cooked dinner every night, but I don’t really remember what and apparently nothing was picture worthy. Sorry DJ!

Also… only in California grocery stores….

I don’t know about you- but I like the bread or cracker samples, don’t give me carrots to sample please, sir.

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One thing that I have loved during this crazy week was the weather. Apparently, this is the coldest and rainiest winter that the Bay area has had in a while. But I love the way the beautiful leaves are contrasting against the dark backdrop. It feels very much like October would in Ohio. And if this is as cold as it gets- count me in! I’m going to be in for a shock when I go back to Ohio in a couple weeks here… Oh boy. I probably could use some prayers, ya’ll. Not sure my skin is as tough as it used to be in the tundra.

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Friday (12/9) Usually Friday is date night, but we decided to take this one easy. I was also craving my cauliflower mashed potatoes with a veggie burger & DJ was craving cereal for dinner, so we deemed Saturday our faux Friday date night instead. A night of binge watching Dexter and eating Christmas cookies was certainly in the mix Friday night.

Saturday (12/10) DJ and I went to downtown SF! We have been wanting to go to Union Square for a while to go ice skating and see the big tree. It was raining when we went, but still a great memory. We didn’t do a ton, but I just love any time I can explore with him.

And about the ice skating—- we forgot our kids for that too. We ended up getting out of line because I think it was “kids only” hour. UGH they get all the hot chocolate & all the cute Christmas ice rinks. SMH. Who do they think they are being all cute and little and innocent and stuff.

We stopped in Target for an umbrella, because the rain was not letting up and I was being Ms. Cranky pants about being wet and cold, stopped in a few shops, and then grabbed a few bites to eat through the day.

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For a light lunch, we stopped in Rouge & Blanc. Sounds about as fancy as it was. Their tag line was “Coffee Bar by morning, Wine Bar by night”, which is basically my life mantra, so it reeled me in.

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We didn’t want to eat a huge lunch, because we were still planning on having dinner in town before leaving, so we had fries with a bernaise aioli and a prawn flatbread. I savored every bite of that prawn flatbread. I don’t know what they put on it, but it was too good to be true.

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For dinner, we had to scramble! I always forget just how important it is to make reservations in the city! Thank gooooodness for Open Table. We found this french restaurant called Cafe Claude. It is super tucked away in a back alley. If not for Open Table, I would have had no idea it even existed. It felt kind of exclusive *hair flip*. We have never actually been to a french restaurant, so this menu was definitely something new to navigate!

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REAL FRENCH BREAD! My friends all know I have this dream of riding around France on a bicycle with the basket of french bread. This is the closest I have gotten yet.

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Deej ordered steak frites which included bavette steak, bone marrow butter, port-shallot sauce, and pommes frites.

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I ordered NIÇOISE which included tuna confit, lettuce, egg, haricots verts, olives, potato, capers, anchovy, and thyme vinaigrette.

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The waiter said “Bon appetite” and I realized that this was an authentic bon appetite! I may have gotten too excited about that one.

Sunday (12/11), I woke up at 3 am. I am trying to accustom myself to Texas/Ohio time because I like to get up early before everyone else to squeeze in a workout, but if I’m jet- lagged, that probably isn’t happening! I didn’t intend on getting up quite that early, but since I was up and couldn’t fall back asleep, I went down and ran on the tready and read a book on my kindle, because that’s totally normal at 3 am.

Sunday morning DJ and I helped set up at the San Jose campus, then me and a couple of my girlfriends booked it downtown SF to attend the Christmas Creative at that campus after the 9:30 service started at SJ (I won’t be here next week to see it our home campus). <– wow that was like the most confusing thing I have ever written. Happy deciphering.

Anyway-IT WAS INCREDIBLE! They presented the Christmas story via dance, song, instruments, spoken word, etc. in such a unique way. The talent was phenomenal and the whole service was so powerful.

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One of my friends from Church that reads the blog, brought me this as a gift. GUYS. Best Christmas present EVER. She obviously knows me well- PEETS!!!! Dark Chocolate!!! Peppermint Bark!!! PEEETS!!!! Coffee Mug!!!! PEETS!!!!! The thought behind this touched me beyond words. So thankful for this community, I can’t say it enough. Thanks again, Tammy ❤ ❤ You’re a real life rockstar!

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This cute cafe is connected to where the church service was held, and I had to steal a picture because it was so darn cute.

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The girlies and I decided to do brunch, because… Oh wait you don’t need a reason for brunch.

We tried the Mission Beach Cafe  because it’s known as an epic brunch spot. It surpassed all expectations. If you live in the area, do yourself a flavor favor and try this place!

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I personally ordered the MBC Vegan Breakfast. It included black barley-farro, a butternut squash patty, artichoke hearts, carrot, orach, roasted garnet potatos, and nettles. I don’t know what the heck they put in this, but it was heaven on a plate. We all nibbled on the french toast too- and besides Bora Bora’s french toast, this one would take the cake (or take the toast *womp womp*).

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I have never ordered a mimosa before, but the pictures on yelp looked too good to pass up! We all tried grapefruit pomegranate and one of my friends did the orange pomegranate. Is “mimosa” not the most fitting name for what it is?! It just makes ya wanna say MimoOoOssssAaAaa. It was YUMMMM.

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A couple last things to update:

  • I will write about yesterdays events in another post- this is long enough! Ya’ll are busy!
  • Our neighbors did stop by again (at 10 pm per usual) and asked for a Coke this time. (In the past they have asked for cilantro & lettuce in isolated incidences). What is your next prediction for what they will want?
  • I leave Thursday for Dallas/Fort Worth!! Woot woot! Blowing dust off my cowgirl boots!

Merry Mimosas to all and to all a good night (or day)!

xo ❤

Mack

A SHORT recap- Say What?!

This past weekend was beyond fun. I promise to keep it sorta short because I know you all have festivities and turkey to eat and eggnog to drink and all that jazz!

Last Friday was our women’s conference at Church. As always, I could probably write posts for days on all that I learned and the incredible ways my heart was worked on. I am so thankful for this community. I truly can’t find the words to describe how my heart just bursts with love for these people. As you all know… God used this church to change my life.

SATURDAY! I mentioned my friend Annie in another post. She is my long lost sista that lives in SanFran. When we lived together in high school, we did the Turkey Trot, and one year we even went for a run after the Thanksgiving meal. This year we said we should recreate the days of old with our very own Friendsgiving and do the Night Nation Run in Santa Clara county that evening! The whole day was just a memory to treasure. I also relished the opportunity to cook a meal like this.

Allow me to present…. My first ever homemade Thanksgiving meal! (That I made, not ate of course 😜)

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Stuffed Acorn Squash with Cranberries, Pistachios, and Quinoa. Recipe here.

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Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes! My new addiction. Choices for the evening were garlic or regular.

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Roasted Cardamom & Cinnamon Apples & Root Carrots

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Roasted Chicken. No worries- not gonna leave my meat eaters hangin’ ! I also thought chicken mayyy be better than turkey (no tryptophan before the race, ya feel?)

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Beet & Goat Cheese & Rosemary Salad

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Homemade whole grain brown bread. JK. I store bought that bad boy and ain’t even mad about it.

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Roasted Maple Sweet Potatoes with Bacon

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*Says in Elvis voice- Thank ya, thank ya very much*

Running shoes, neon shirt, and thanksgiving apron- good look, yah?

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The three of us devoured da grub, then headed out for the race. DJ and Annie know each other well because DJ and I were dating back in high school. So it was just like the olden golden days. I wanted to play “Thanksgiving music” to complete the whole dinner, but what the heck is Thanksgiving music? We settled on Beyoncé.

RACE TIME! This race was in Santa Clara County (only a 5k), but it was one of the most epic 5ks I have ever run. HIGHLY encourage my runner friends to do this. Also it raises money to fight cancer. I love running a race that supports such a great cause.

I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.

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I bought “glow in the dark” paint. Turns out it was UV paint. LOLZ. Whoops.

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WAIT HOLD THE PHONE! We ran past a UV Selfie Station! You better believe we took advantage of it to get some pics with our glowing UV paint. Yaaaaaaa buddy!

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It was chilly and rainy and dark, but that did not stop us from dancing the night away! Boomerang for the win.

Obviously, we had a blast.

Yesterday, DJ and I made cookies together!!! We also crafted a mega cookie just because. It’s gone now. All the cookies are gone now.

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This past few days I had my BLS (Basic Life Support) refresher course and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) course. I had to get up at the butt-crack of dawn, and haven’t been home till the late evenings, but I absolutely loved it. I love emergency medicine- the pace, the pressure, and the quick thinking, everything. I’m not sure where I will end up, but the ER is definitely on my radar!

I send you all a big ole’ HAPPY THANKSGIVING (and for my non-United States friends, eat something delicious on US- get it?!).

Now go stuff a turkey that is ultimately going to stuff you! 😉 Mwah!

xo ❤

Kenzie