Lake Tahoe Travels!

HAPPY SATURDAY!

I am so excited to share this travel post with you all. There is a ridiculous amount of pictures and detail in this post, but Tahoe deserves nothing less! I also love my travel posts to be super informative for anyone that might go to one of these places in the future. It was one of the most gorgeous places I have ever been. I tried to capture the beauty, but the pictures do not even do justice! 🌲

DJ and I discovered early on last week that we both had last weekend off (6/10). It’s the first weekend we both had off at the same time since I started my job in March. We took full advantage and planned a trip to Lake Tahoe. It just sounded like the perfect, most peaceful location to go to get away from the chaos of our everyday.

The drive in alone was a special experience. The views were awe-inspiring. With every turn, ascent, and descent, we were accompanied on either side by an endless sea of trees, waterfalls cascading in the mountain sides, and snow comfortably resting atop the vast mountains illuminated by the Tahoe sun. I half expected a greeting from bobcats, rams, and fox as it felt as though we had stumbled upon a real world Cabelas.

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We had dinner arrangements, but wanted to drop off our luggage at the hotel first. I use the word hotel lightly here. With my improptu planning, I found somewhere on Groupon for dirt cheap. Ya’ll know I swear by Groupon. I haven’t had many, or any, bad experiences with Groupon. I found a place that looked decent on their site, but didn’t do too much research (A. I didn’t have any time and B. Everywhere else was $$$$$).

Welllllll—– when we arrived it was…. *dramatic pause* not quite a “romantic getaway”. The entire building was entirely dilapidated, the sketchiest of folk were hanging out in the corridors, the lobby smelled of a mix of cigarettes and mildew. I sent a quick text to DJ at check-in, “I am so sorry!”. He assured me it was fine, and we just had to see our room before making any judgement. Once we finished checking in, which took an hour in and of itself, we lugged our luggage to our room (We had to take an elevator that I was convinced was going to break under the weight of my skepticism). The whole way there I was panicking, What have I done, I thought. DJ was being somewhat optimistic, and just kept saying, “let’s just see what the room is like.” When we stepped into what I was expecting a cozy, romantic lodge with an overlook of the lake we were blasted with the most horrendous smell, a moldy bathroom, dusted furniture, and bent curtain rods with haphazard curtains that looked as though they were bought from a garage sale…. a garage sale from the fourties. I broke down in tears, not sure from emotions or from the severe allergens in the room. Our one weekend we finally had together I was convinced I had ruined. We had a reservation at our restaurant at 6:30 pm, and it was currently 6:00. We brainstormed what to do, going back and forth between staying or finding somewhere else. We finally decided that since we didn’t know the next time we would have this time together, it was worth it to make this trip something nice and decided to swallow the money.

We quickly booked another hotel at somewhere nearby and took a deep breath. Time for dinner. **PS. I hear Air BnB is a great option for Tahoe!** **PSS. One day we WILL get the full on camping gettup!**

I put on my forest green laced dress and finally had the chance to paint my nails! I don’t ever have my nails painted for nursing, but was so excited that I finally could pull out some of my favorite dark brown Zoya polish for the occasion. Naturally, I painted my nails in the car, because that’s what ends up happening 99% of the time.

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I even put on my fern earrings to really get in the spirit 😉 DJ always slightly pokes fun at how “all in” I get about encompassing the idea and essence of different events/holidays/etc.

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We headed to Edgewood Restaurant, which provided one of the greatest meals of our entire lives. That’s a bold statement ya’ll.

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The snow capped mountain and icy blue water views alone were fabulous. I felt like I could breathe for the first time since starting my job. It was as though the earth was back on it’s axis and I could actually be, exist, in the moment.

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We joked that they knew I was coming with Himalayan salt readily available, an assortment of olives, and sea salted herb and ciabatta bread. Olives, bread, and salt. OK- all we need is red wine, and this girl is set!

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It was the most tremendous start to any meal I have ever had.

Next, I know most times when we go out we avoid the meat based appetizers (considering I’m pesce). I told DJ I wanted to order something that had a meat base since we never usually do. (I also mayy have been trying to make up for the minor hotel fiasco). A bit surprised, but obliging, we ordered the lamb ragu with gnocchi and wild mushrooms.

Excuse me…

I needed to go get napkins to wipe the drool off the corners of my mouth as I reminisced..  🤤 This dish was heavenly. I didn’t try must of the lamb, but the gnocchi and mushrooms alone blew me away. The flavor was dynamically savory- bringing that word for me a whole new meaning!

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DJ and I both followed the appetizer with the Chilean Sea Bass over lobster bisque with fingerling potatoes. Basically all good things on earth on one plate. HOW. I told DJ on the spot this was hands down the best fish dish I have ever had.

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There was a couple that was looking to get their picture taken at the table next to us. I jumped in to ask if they would like us to take it for them since the waiter seemed busy. We headed outside and chit chatted briefly. It allowed for us to grab some pictures of the brilliant sunset as well.

They asked us if we had the halibut for dinner. I excitedly said “Yes! It was SOOO good”.. I went on and on about how it was the best dish of my life only for DJ to whisper to me that we had the sea bass. Whooops. 🤷🏼‍♀️😂

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When we left Edgewood, we headed to our new hotel. This one did not disappoint, not one bit. We HIGHLY recommend The Landing, voted the #1 Boutique North American Hotel, with good reason. It was absolute perfection.

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I loved the detail and care that went into each room. It was unusual, eclectic, modern, and yet cozy. The fireplace was my favorite part.

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Nowwww I may have created one more dilemma, which thankfully we laugh about now. I decided before bed I wanted to try to use the Jacuzzi, so while it was running, DJ and I stepped out on the balcony and see what views we could see from the room. When we stepped back in, I saw water overflowing from the tub. Then the phone rang. The front desk asked if we had any kind of water leaking. The tub literally filled in .5 seconds. We couldn’t have stepped out for more than 3 minutes. We frantically used every single towel we had to sop up the floor. Apparently it was leaking through to the room below. It was one of those moments where I didn’t know if I should laugh hysterically or cry.😂

To make it worse—- when we called back to see if it was taken care of below the lady informed us it was a bride and groom below us, that apparently were too inebriated to care at the moment, but we still wrote them a note apologizing and tried to compensate them for any issues. Maybe I was just trying to help?! Don’t they say rain on your wedding day is good luck?! Rain into your bedroom must be like the BEST luck, ya?!?

Two strikes in one day for me guys. ROUGH. DAY. 🙌🏻

Just kidding.. it was an absolutely amazing day, I simply share these mishaps because I think they are hilarious!

After getting a  fantastic night sleep, I got up a bit earlier than DJ and headed down to squeeze in an eight mile run before the festivities ensued for the day.

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This was the view from the Treadmill. GORG.

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On our way out of the hotel, we asked one of the employees where the best breakfast spot was. He recommended Heidi’s, and if a local says this is the place to go, count us in!

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This pancake house was super quaint, 50s/60s vibin’ with Christmas lights strung year round. I loved it. The line was out the door, and clearly was the place to be for breakfast. We only had to wait about 20 minutes, surprisingly.

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We tried their homemade blueberry muffin and biscuit.. yurm. Not quite on Cracker Barrel level (which we have lately been craving since there are none out here).

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However, this Veggie Omelette blew my taste buds away. The waiter recommended their house potatoes with onion and garlic- I understood why quickly- suh guuuuud!

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DJ ordered their short stack and said they were some of the best pancakes he has ever had. He is always on the hunt for some doggone good cakes, but it’s hard to find ones that he loves! Soo for him to say these were some of the best was both shocking and demanded that I try an obnoxiously big bite nibble.

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They were light and airy, and yet full of buttery, sugary, and delicious flavor. I agree- some of the best! Also makes sense why they deem themselves a pancake house!

After breakfast we headed to Eagle Falls Trailhead to hike and soak up some views. There are endless trails to go to in the area, but EFT seemed decently close to us (about a twenty minute drive) and had good reviews.

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After passing a renaissance fair (which I hard core tried to convince DJ to go to with me, but it was a no-go…. not even the lure of giant turkey drumsticks could get him to go, darnit)… we scoped out for a place to park the car.

Parking was a boogar, but we lucked out and found some right near the trailhead after searching for a few minutes.

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We had a blast exploring. Being in nature is 100% relaxation time for me. I love getting my adrenaline up with climbing and jumping through the cliff sides, over waterfalls, and feeling like a child again, exploring the earth’s crevices- the most magnanimous playground.

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I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves, although like I said, they still do not do justice!

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We were wrapped by the chilling, yet soft, breezes that at times carried snowflakes. I haven’t seen snow in wayyy too long. I thought I would never miss the cold moving out here, but the cold brought me solace, and I absolutely relished in it.

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After our wilderness exploration, we decided to explore the downtown area as well. To start off, we needed to refresh with some throwback sodas from the Old Fashioned candy store- Rocket Fizz (love that place. I always have to stop in when I see one!).

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I adored all the shops and downtown stores. DJ and I had fun perusing the boutiquey stores, art shoppes, and became quite inspired for Christmas gifts in this year to come.

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There was live music playing always within ear shot, and chair lifts occasionally would fly above our heads. I can’t imagine what this is like in the winter! I also love that the city seems to keep up it’s Christmas lights year round. It felt like we reverted back in time to a little Christmas vacation with the chill in the air, the lights, the chair lifts, the lodgy hotel, and the magic of the snow capped mountains.

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I keep mentioning Christmas, but it REALLY felt like December!

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After exploring little downtown Tahoe, DJ and I went back and snoozed for a couple hours. We were exhausted from the early start and hike.

It felt soooo nice to turn up the fireplace and take a NAP. Guys, I cannot remember the last time I actually took a nap. Seriously, I cannot remember.

In the evening, DJ and I took off to go to a Wine tour.

Funny story… when the Uber dropped us off at the pier from Google maps, we could not find where we were supposed to go. I watched the clock tick closer and closer to our departure time. I started freaking out and when the time hit ten minutes to departure, I went into full on panic mode. I just looked at DJ and realized we could not find the pier and I took off in the only direction we hadn’t explored. #FLIGHTORFIGHT. Literally- I was running in the opposite direction like a chicken with its head cut off. In the meantime, DJ kept his cool, called the boat, and found out exactly where to go. As I was in my dedicated sprint, I called the same number hurriedly.

Me: “HI!.. My husband and I booked a wine tasting tonight, and we can’t find the pier, and I know we are supposed to be there now!”……

Staff member: “I think we just spoke to your husband, are you by him by chance?

Me: “I am running back toward him right now”

Staff member: “Ok- see you two soon!”.

Lemme jus say- DJ gave me a hard time about that one. Heck, I can’t help it- I’m a runner. When I don’t know what to do, I just run!

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We boarded the intimate Golden Rose. There were three other couples with us, two from NY and one from Redwood City, CA. We actually ended up exchanging numbers at the end and are potentially grabbing some dinner together soon!

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The wines we tried were phenomenal, but even more intoxicating were the serene views of the lake.

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The rainbow clouds, mountains, and eagle nests all in one landscape were unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

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Just hours before we were looking down on Emerald Bay, and now we were actually on it!

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We packed cheese, crackers, and hummus as we floated along.

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Naturally, I was convinced we should move here. I inquired about the nearest hospital in our Uber. I am still pushing for it… *cough cough, hubby*….

After the tastings we had to have some good dessert. I did some serious research and found that Riva Grill had some flame options.

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We stopped by and placed orders for some insanely delish cheesecake and deep fried oreos- Hello all things good.

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We ended our evening with the hottub, which luckily we got to ourselves. I think most people headed home Sunday night because it seemed pretty quiet come Monday.

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In the morning I ran a quick 9-miler and then we headed to the Driftwood Cafe, a notoriously yummm place for brunch.

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I ordered their veggie omelette with parmesan and sprouts on top with cottage cheese and their bran blueberry muffin on the side. It was the quintessential hearty & heathy breakfast.

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DJ ordered the Carolina Connection which included two potato pancakes topped with grilled ham, two over-medium eggs, and country gravy served a buttermilk biscuit. I tried a bite of the gravy which was annoyingly good.

Let’s just say we both left with beyond satisfied tummies.

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And then it was time to head back to the real world. This trip gave me the rekindling and energy to move forward. I needed this time desperately with DJ and feel even closer to him after this trip. It also helped put things just a bit more into perspective. Life is still good. I can’t wait for the next time we can explore the world together.

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Blog Birthdays: (I thought I would have this post out last week, so I’m a bit late to sending out my love to these ladies!) I’m so thankful for all your friendships! <3

K.M. from AnkhorYou on June 13th. Happy FREAKING birthday to this lovely lady who constantly inspires me with her vulnerable, beautiful writing, her endless pursuit of adventure, fashion, historical knowledge, and sage advice. She encourages me and those around her and spreads magic in this world with her mermaid glitter. Thank you for being here and being such an amazing friend. I LOVE YOU, dear!

Allie Zotola from LivingMyFullLife on June 14th. Ahhh- Sweet girl, Happy Birthday! I love how you share your beautiful life with us and how you always find joy in the every day. You have your priorities straight to me and are a role model of mine! Also you are the grandest cake baker and I get all my Aldi fixes from you sharing your hauls with us 😉 I hope you had the BEST day!

Tara from RunandLiveHappy on June 15th. Where to begin?! Yours was one of the first blogs I have ever followed, and I always wish we could hangout! We are kindred foodie spirits, and we must do a race together one day! Thank you for all your encouragement, especially in this last marathon! I love all your delish recipes, keeping up with your lovely family, your zest for life, and of course, the cutest pup ever- Jake! I hope this was the most perfect birthday yet 🙂

Katy from KatysLifeStory in the month of June. Katy, you are an incredibly strong and lovely woman! I am constantly amazed by you and your courage, determination, love, empathy, and ability to embrace life even when you have been through some of the hardest things in life. Thank you for your friendship and always inspiring me. I hope your birthday is perfect and you feel loved and celebrated as you certainly should be!

Last but not least,

Kori from GypsyRD on June 17th (TODAY!). HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I know we are just recently friends, but I feel like you are a kindred spirit! I love your posts, your sweet cats, your adventures, and your food combos! You are so authentic and kind and have a truly beautiful soul. I hope you have the most fun celebrating with your sister today!

Questions for you:

  • Favorite Old Fashioned Candy?!
  • Anyone been to Tahoe?!
  • What’s your favorite way to relax?

xo <3

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A Valentine’s Day Weekend Recap!

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

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

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

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

What we ordered:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday

4:45 am-Wakeup Call!

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

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

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

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

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

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Personal Results:

60th place out of 267 overall

3rd in my age group

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

Final time: 2:16.

PR: 1:39.

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

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

S W E E T  M A P L E

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We spent the afternoon shopping for her birthday!

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

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

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

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This is the bouquet I had the pleasure of making!

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

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

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

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

xo <3

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“That’s Okay, I make Lamb”

Happy Monday to you!! The past couple weeks are kind of a blur. DJ and I are deep into the routine of early alarms (him more than myself- I end up snoozing for two extra hours honestly), studying all day long, and then studying late into the night. DJ is doing exceptionally well and staying motivated, but I can tell that law school is as stressful as it’s hyped up to be. It makes dinner time and our Friday Date nights an anticipated reprieve that come and go far too quickly each week. I remember in nursing school the month of September and early October always seemed extra overwhelming. I think it’s due to the fact that you haven’t quite done enough to feel accomplished or secure in your endeavors, and yet you are drained. The next “break”- fall break- is still a month away, and the holidays seem like an intangible event that is more of a nice idea than a future reality. I speculate this is the phase DJ is currently experiencing : burned out, stressed out, and bummed out. What got me through that time? Candy corn, but DJ doesn’t like candy corn, so I’m at a loss on how to help him. After mid-terms, which will be here in about a week, if my diagnosis is correct, he should turn the corner and get a second wind as there will be a huge something he has accomplished. Many times accomplishments can give us that second wind to keep pushing forward. I always feel this way, even just on day-to-day things. If I have a to-do list ten pages long, which all too often is the case, I feel exhausted before even beginning. It’s like a defense mechanism- “No don’t deal with all that, just go to sleep!”. But once things are all completed, I get a burst of energy.

Anyway, there has not been too much going on besides this “Git r’ done, get up and grind” life. However, I have cooked up a few meals I’d love to share, and we visited some fun places to eat too. Naturally this post is just going to be littered with food pictures, because really, which of my posts aren’t?

After Rachel and Amy left, we still had some ingredients leftover to make more pizzas. Homemade flat-out pizzas are one of my favorite treats. They are healthy and versatile, and each person can easily make their own. They are also a blast to make. I always like making a mediterranean one with shrimp, vegan daiya mozzarella cheese, pesto, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and caramelized onions and mushrooms. I also like to make a pineapple one- check out the Marco Island post to see a picture of that 🙂 DJ likes a more basic pizza with crumbled sausage (I used Boca because we ran out of regular- he couldn’t tell the difference 😉 ), mozzarella cheese, oregano, sun-dried and fresh tomatoes.

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We had our headboard delivered last week for our bed, which we had waited four weeks for. I was so excited because that meant I could finally hang the canvas I got for above the bed and start with more decorating. No such luck, Chuck. After the delivery men set it up, I walk in to see it and the actual headboard is a different color entirely than the base. They said it was a manufacturing error, so now we have another good four weeks to wait for the replacement. Oh well, we aren’t in a rush, but it definitely was a “are you kidding me?” type mistake (after we have had countless other issues with this store). All in all, it looks so funny. I can’t help but laugh at it. I will have to post a picture of it soon.

Our Friday night date night (9/9) consisted of Oren’s Hummus shop on Main Street Cupertino. I have been eagerly awaiting the opening of this place. It serves Israeli food, and I have heard from several people that the food is fantastic. Oh… It is.

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Can we talk about this chandelier for quick tic?! Love, love loveeee.

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They start the meal with complimentary coleslaw. If you know me, you know I LOVEEEEEEE coleslaw. This place hardcore won brownie points for giving it out at the beginning of the meal for free. It was super good coleslaw too- not too drenched in the sauce, crunchy veggies, all the flavour. (Flavour with the u- you know it’s good).

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They are called Oren’s HUMMUS shop for a reason. Their hummus is the BOMB. The BEST hummus I have ever had besides my mama’s homemade of course 😉 Sorry Sabra, I think I’m leaving you in the dust.

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I ordered the vegetable skewer with falafel and babaganoush. Baba is similar to hummus, but it is made with a smoked eggplant base. I can never decide if I like Baba or hummus better. I like saying babaganoush more, so maybe that makes me bias toward it.

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DJ ordered the Shakshuka. This had organic eggs, poached over easy in a spiced tomato sauce. Their wheat pita served with this is bursting with flavor. It was served fresh and warm and need I say more?

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Their motto is “Rip, Scoop, Eat”. Their motto happens to be my life motto. If there is ever any chance to dip something with bread, pita, naan, etc., I am alllll over that. At the end of any meal if there is sauce on the plate, you bet I’m getting it with a piece of bread. DJ always laughed at me when we first started dating about this habit, but he does it too now so I must have had it right 😉 I always make sure I save a piece from the starter bread basket to use at the end. When DJ got his meal he said, “How am I supposed to eat this?!” I looked at him, and said- “you’ve gotta rip, scoop, eat- DUH”. And then he rolled his eyes at my not-funny, but I think I’m funny, remark.

Saturday we actually did double-dipping nights out. Granted, after Oren’s we studied the rest of the night. DJ and I met one of his law school friend’s at Orchard City Kitchen in Campbell. He is super familiar with the area and knows all the good stops. I have never been anywhere like this before, and I certainly intend to go back. All their dishes are meant to be shared and the plates, while considered “small plates” are pretty decent sizes to split. Put your seatbelt on, or loosen your belt, one or the other, because we went all out for this meal! I wasn’t planning on taking pictures, but DJ’s friend said he was going to snap a few, and I probably got a little too excited that he shared in the food photography fettish. I know it’s ridiculous, and I’m okay with it.

We started with the shaved radishes. These radishes with fried goat cheese, pink pearl apples, serpent cucumbers, sunflowers, lemon vin, and herbs. Guuuuuys, this was so good. Plus it was maybe the most beautiful thing I’ve ever ate.

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Next we tried the legumes. This included sprouted lentils, butter beans, haricot vert, limas, charred avocado, peanuts, cardamon cream, and lemon. So far the meal has BEAN delicious.

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Deej was especially itching to try the Triple B. This consisted of biscuits, bacon, and honey butter. I didn’t have the bacon, but DJ said it was insanely good. It smelled like it too. I can attest that the rolls and butter were out of this world.

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Next we tried the grilled quail with carrot-anise puree, pickled onions, alium ash, and pistachio crumble. I had never had quail (besides the quail eggs from eat-drink San Fran, and felt I couldn’t miss the opportunity. I haven’t had meat in a long time and I took the tiniest nibble. I can see how others would like it, but I just have no appetite for meat since I gave it up. BUT if you do, which most people do, I bet ya would like this. The puree and all that razzle-dazzle was super delicious too.

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Moving onto the bigeye Tuna Crudo. CRUDOS to you Orchard City Kitchen- (too much?). This was fantastic. It included watermelon (yellow watermelon, mind you), scallions, edamame, radish, daikon sprouts, and soy tahini. It was simply delicious. It is the kind of dish I think I could probably recreate at home too, unlike most of the dishes of the night. The red/pink pieces on the dish are the fish and the yellow is the watermelon. Trippy, right?!

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We also ordered the crab and corn dumplings. The words DUNGENESS CRAB tend to just pop off the page to me and DJ, and so inevitably we had to get that dish too. It would be wrong if we didn’t. It came with corn broth, parm, serrano chile, and cilantro, and maybe some magic because it tasted like it? Also I was too entranced that I forgot to take a picture of that one.

Last, but not least, certainly not least, was the roasted bone marrow radiator with gremolata, toasted bread crumbs, shiitake, pancetta, and parm. Once again, certainly not vegetarian, but it was bone marrow. I had to try it. When else am I going to have bone marrow? Truly one of the greatest things ever. They actually carve the bone marrow right out of the bone into the pasta. I know, I know, sounds a bit unsettling, but it is amazing. Here is my grainy picture trying to get him in the process of carving out the marrow.

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It was super rich, but super delicious. One bite satisfied me and the flavor delicately lingered.

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Throughout the week I whipped up a few staple meals. I was craving my big-ole’ salads. In college people would look at my wide-eyed when they saw the size of my salads in the cafeteria. Look, I like garden salads, and sometimes I put the entire garden in my salads. I love adding chik’n, morningstar burgers, grilled tofu, shrimp, or salmon to them with some guacamole and roasted edamame seeds; depends on my mood, which changes daily hourly, so who knows what the little red bowl will contain by the end of the food prep. **Side note: I have an emotional attachment to the red bowl below, it is my deemed salad bowl. I have a green one at my mom’s house- right mom? They are meant to be used for larger side dishes or even main dishes, but heck, I can’t use some little normal bowl for these monstrous rabbit dinners.

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I haven’t made spaghetti since we have been married. Yes, I realize it is like a staple newlywed meal. I had some angel hair pasta sitting in the cupboard and kind of wanted to get rid of it, so DJ happily obliged to eating a normal meal. I did add turkey meatballs for him… and sundried tomatoes, and maybe a little oregano and italian seasoning, and crumbled parmesan, but I did my best to keep it “normal”. L-O-L. img_0472

Ya’ll know how I try to make one thing from my cooking magazines, once a week? Well this week I present to you blue cheese, basil, lambburgers. I mainly wanted to make lambburgers, just to say lambburgers. It also seemed like a good cooking challenge. I have a long way to go in the meat-cooking department. Oh, I also wanted to be able to quote this the whole time I made them…

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I loved making rosemary fingerling potatoes from my Blue Apron trial, and thought they would be a perfect accompaniment to this meal. The topping for the lambburger is a basil, mayo, and blue cheese dressing. This whole meal was surprisingly easy, and we had leftovers for days- which allows me to get innovative. I loved caramelizing the onions because it makes the kitchen smell incredible, and may have snatched a few myself in the process 😉

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DJ enjoyed the meal even though he isn’t the biggest blue cheese fan. The basil and blue cheese were perfect compliments. Who woulda thought? I tried the cheesy concoction just to make sure it was edible- and it was delicious! I had my salad above round two and some of the fingerling potatoes.

With the leftovers I made zucchini boats. I improvised by adding caramelized onions and mushrooms, and roasted the blue cheese mixture in the oven with the lamb crumbles. I made some garlic bread on the side. DJ said he liked this better than the original burgers even. I can post a recipe for that soon (soon is a relative term).

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For my studying throughout the week I tried different coffee shops to get a change of scenery. My favorite place is Peet’s Coffee and Tea. I’m actually currently sitting at one. Their coffee is amazing, and they aren’t terribly overpriced, plus they are playing Smokey Robinson so it’s a good day. One of my friends works at one in Santa Clara and I went to visit her one day. I, naturally, went to the wrong one, and it’s kind of uncomfortable saying “Just kidding- going to another Pete’s!” to the cashier when I realized she didn’t work there. She worked at the one 4 miles south down the road. 😂  Ahh, only in Cali. I also tried Philz, but it was hard to get much done there. It was a bit chaotic and loud. But they had the most profound sign hanging in their bathroom…

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Thursday night I went for a hike with my hiking group. The moon was INSANE. Any one see the harvest moon? We ended up doing our hike later than usual and the sun is setting earlier. I could tell my group leader was a bit on edge, eager to get back. She divulged to me (at the end of our hike) that she heard someone had been attacked by a mountain lion on that trail, so she was ancy to get back before it was too dark. The views were so worth it. I can’t wait to do this trail again.

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On one of my walks to a coffee shop I saw this little cute box that is a place to leave your leftover food. How cool is this? I was too excited to not take a picture, although the cars passing probably were confused. But especially when leaving for trips and what-not, if there are any food items that might go bad I’d love to know they are not going to be wasted. I need to do more research into how this works exactly. I also need to make sure that’s what this is actually for, and it’s not just a “go green” campaign on some large appliance. AWKWARD if that’s all it is. Oh gosh it probably is. 🙈Hahaha.

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The trees are just beautiful and I had to share.

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DJ played basketball with some guys after school Friday afternoon. I was so glad he could take the break and do something where he felt in his element. For our Friday date night this past friday (9/16), we were both craving sushi (or snoooshi as we call it). I found a Groupon for a place in cupertino we have had our eye on. We rubbed the study daze out of our eyes and spent a quick hour out on the town. The place was pretty tucked away, but super eclectic, played some of the best music, and served some yummy rolls.

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Seaweed salad is a must. This is one of my favorite sushi accompaniments. My aunt loves seaweed salad too, and she tried to make it at home one time. She bought legit raw seaweed-like the algae kind. She said she ended up throwing it right back where it came from (they live on the water). I laughed so hard when she told me this story and I saw the picture of her attempted “seaweed salad”.

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Saturday DJ tucked himself away in the library at school. Main Street Cupertino was having their grand opening (Although we have basically tried everything already *hair flip*). I decided to check it out for a study break in the afternoon. They had all kinds of fun stuff going down like the opportunity to throw a football with Jerry Rice, a giant raffle, locals doing karate and such, and all the food vendors out giving out samples. It was open to the general public too. The lines were nuts, but it was a nice break to be out in the sunshine and among people.

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Back to studying with a third cup of coffee for the day.

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Last night I could tell it was a much-needed cookie night. Nothing some cookies can’t solve.

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The two of us just studied away all day after church.  I have been listening to a podcast called Serial while I long-hand my notes. Anyone heard of it? I am addicted. DJ’s friend we had dinner with the other night actually told us about it. It currently has two law cases that are subject to much speculation and uncertainty about the discretion of the law. I flew through the first case and am now listening to the second. He also suggested watching the documentary The Jinx. I watched through that too while writing out my labs, meds, etc.  I am dying to converse about them, so if anyone has seen them, please let’s chat. I have so many questions and opinions.

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I use a little syringe highlighter that my mother-in-law gave me as a graduation present. I love them!!

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Representing the Orioles today. GO O’s!!!!!

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Wishing you a Monday that has been anything but Mundane,

xo <3

Mack

 

In the Best City with the Best Friend- Part One

This post is going to be emotional to write because I know it will make me miss my dear friend, Rachel, more than I already do!

A little back story: We have been friends since sixth grade. The way it happened was certainly a funny series of events. First, I moved to her school that year and noticed a cute boy. I had no idea that he was dating Rachel and through the grapevine he heard that the “new girl” liked him. He broke up with Rachel to “date” me (“Going out” with someone in 6th grade means you bashfully smile at each other in the hallway and write their name on your notebook without any actual meaningful interaction). Also let’s take a moment to laugh at how many quote-on-quotes are necessary for middle school romances. Well, when I heard that I was a home-wrecker I told him I didn’t want to date anymore. Hence, my first relationship lasted a total of two days. During this time, Rachel and I shared a mutual friend. She told me that there was no way Rachel would ever like me. “Once Rachel decides she doesn’t like someone, there is no going back from that,” she said. I was determined to make a mends. And gosh darn it, look at where we are today! Thanks for letting that go, Rach ;). We have thanked that boy for helping spark such a great friendship. Fun fact: She actually just went to his wedding a few weeks ago! Look how full circle we all have come.

Fast forward to today: Rach just recently passed her Child Life Specialist exam and officially has a big girl job!!! When she called me with the exciting news we both said how badly we wished we could have sushi together to celebrate (Sushi is our spirit animal). The next day she sent me a screenshot of flight dates she could fly out here (from Ohio to California). I thought she was kidding at first- but no she booked that glorious flight! So the day after my mom left I was driving to the airport to pick up Rach so we could actually have sushi together in real life. We also said we are celebrating our “11th friendiversary” 🙂 She arrived last Monday- August 29th, and the week that followed was one of my favorites.

Monday

This was a super chill day since she came in the afternoon. We went to the grocery store to stock up on food for the week. Then I showed her around Main Street Cupertino and then walked down Stevens Creek to show her the main shops and restaurants. We stopped into the bakery I mentioned in my last post, and saw “white fungus with dates” among their items. Do you ever have one of those moments where you feel like you “dare” yourself to do something? Like you feel a strange compulsion to try it even if you truly don’t want to? Maybe for some it’s riding a roller coaster, walking on hot coals, or skydiving. I tend to get it in more of a fear-factor-food form. I bought the darn fungus, and Rach and I sat at my counter in my apartment while I tried the mysterious floating wonder. (Is this the weirdest anecdote ever, or what?!). It surprisingly was not that bad! It reminded me of one of those dole fruit cups that we use to all pack when we were in grade school. Probably will never get it again- but truly not bad. For dinner we naturally went to KULA!!! Sushi time! This would not be the last trip there for the week 😉

Tuesday

Tuesday was a blast, well I guess everyday was, but I’ve got two words for ya- SANTA CRUZ. I am getting a bit ahead of myself because first we went on a hike in Saratoga. So we will start with these two words- HIKING TIME!

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It was a perfect way to start the day. We were able to bypass the rush-hour traffic and leave a little later in the day. We kept saying how unbelievably smooth the week was with driving! We hardly had any traffic. We were a couple of beach bums and the two of us love to read so we devoured books and our packed snacks on the beach all day.

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Around four we were pretty hungry for something besides the “munchie” food we packed, but didn’t want to spend top dollar for the food on the pier. We decided to get a couple happy hour appetizers to tide us over at Stagnaro Bros. I have now ate at three places on the pier and this was by far, hands-down, no questions asked THE BEST.

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First we split the Blackened Sliced Ahi over mixed greens with a creamy wasabi dressing. We easily could have ate the whole thing, but we wanted to leave room for a place we had in mind for dinner. This “appetizer” definitely provided us yummy leftovers for lunch the next day!

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We also tried Chili Lime Prawn Tacos. These are prawns sautéed in a chili lime and cilantro sauce, topped with pickled cabbage and Mozzarella cheese. I PRAWNISE, these were delicious 😉 #prawnpun

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We would like to introduce you to our dear friend, Buffy. Buffy was our pal that sat next to us for most of the meal and he was quite the spit-fire. If another seagull even thought about sitting on his pier, he squawked them away with the ferocity of a lion. Don’t mess with Buffy, boys and girls.

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We had about an hour drive home and leisurely took our time to get ready for dinner. We walked to Arya, a Persian restaurant in Cupertino. Guys- this is truly probably my favorite I have tried since being in Cupertino. I know I always say that, but the flavors were overwhelmingly delicious. Like each bite I savored so carefully, I didn’t want it to end! The best part was we had a Groupon for it as well, so we got a great deal for a fantastic meal. We also ate outside on their quaint patio. We got to watch the most gorgeous sunset with our scrumptious array of Persian cuisine.

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I had the veggie tower for my meal. It was mushroom, spinach, eggplant, tomato, and rice in a saffron yogurt sauce. I WANT THE RECIPE. The saffron yogurt sauce was absolute perfection. I crave this meal.

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Rach ordered shrimp scampi. It came in a lemon caper sauce and easily the best shrimp scampi I have ever tried! I definitely stole a few bites.

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So you may be wondering- what about our poor Deej?! Well- you know how I love trying these different food delivery services since they usually have a deal as first users? The newest one we found is called Munchery. Munchery is different from Blue Apron and Green Chef because you do absolutely no preparation. It is almost like a restaurant on wheels. You see what is cooking in “their kitchen” online, and they deliver it to your door at the time that you clarify. So we chose DJ’s meals for the week and so they would be delivered for him right when he got home from school. The best part was there was a giant discount for being a first time user. We have held out trying it for a busy week since you only get the discount once, and this week was the perfect one to try it out! DJ loved all the meals.

Wednesday

Wednesday was deemed San Francisco day! We went into full on tourist mode and did everything. Rach has never been to SanFran so I was determined to make sure she got the full experience. First we went to the painted ladies homes. As a couple of typical 90s children, we were in absolute heaven standing in front of those homes. Currently have the song running through my head- “Everywhere you look (everywhere you go) There’s a heart (there’s a heart) a hand to hold onto!”. Okay- I’m getting far too nostalgic about this.

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We found a good parking spot and walked the pier toward one of the highlights of the entire week. Rach wanted to make sure to do a wine tasting while she was out here (because it’s basically a must if you come to wine country), and what better way to do it than on a boat that goes under the Golden Gate, close to the Bay Bridge, and around Alcatraz?! We were shocked at how little it cost for how intimate the setting was and how absolutely wonderful the experience was.

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They had all kinds of delicious cheeses, grapes, crackers, bread, and chocolate. Truly ANYTHING you could want to enhance the different tannins. Lolz, I’m pretending to wine speak. Not sure that even made sense?

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One of our favorite parts of the wine tour was the people we met. We conversed with all kinds of people from all over the US. We met a mother and daughter who were traveling cross country, a few friendly couples of all ages, and an absolutely jovial staff. It was the sweetest group of people.

After, we still agreed we had to actually go to the Golden Gate even thought we did go under it. Rachel kept saying, “It’s just water under the bridge!” cracking herself up. 😉

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Ya’ll know how I love my puns- I call the one above a “Bridge next to a bridge”.

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We did a quick jump over to Lombard Street. The famous windiest road in the world!

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Naturally we had to pop into Ghiradelli square! Our Uber driver was one of the most fascinating people we have ever met. He is traveling the world with his son and takes him out of school every year a few months before it is technically over to go to a new destination for several months. I didn’t even know that was legal?! Their next stop is Tawaiian.

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After exploring Ghiradelli square we walked to Fisherman’s Wharf and PIER 39. We just walked around, and I had to stop in to one of the candy shops to get salt water taffy. I was craving it a lemon meringue piece. Rach actually introduced me to the yummy land of lemon flavored desserts a few years back. She had a lemon bundt cake at her 18th birthday and from that point on I was (and still am) obsessed with all things lemon. My mother-in-law brought me the BEST lemon curd cake in the whole world from a local bakery in Ohio for my birthdays while I was in college! <3 Thanks again for all those, mom! Best part of my birthday fo real dough. Anyway, I digress. But the taffy was spot on.

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Rach is a lefty. This picture was essential!

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We once again were pretty hungry, but we didn’t want to spend the pier prices for dinner. We decided to once again split some appetizers, but in reality they ended up being our dinner. The portions were huge- and delicious! We both love clam chowder and rumor had it that Fog Harbor Fish House had the best around. It did not disappoint! If you are ever on the pier, please do yourself a favor and get you some of it (in a bread bowl, of course).

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We also had the steamed clams. These were clams with roasted peppers, corn and chorizo butter served with garlic toast.

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Later that night we scrounged up our leftovers from the last couple days and had a late night smorgasbord. We set up our TV out on the balcony, grabbed a few blankets and watched Gabrielle Iglesias the comedian. Anyone ever seen him?! He is HILARIOUS. He is pretty clean for the most part too which is hard to come by. It was super refreshing sitting out in the late night cool air and I wondered why I don’t do that more often!

I am going to make a separate post for the rest of the week. Currently have to go set up a lamp, run to the store, and hang up some more pictures!

Wishing you a golden afternoon,

xo <3

Mack