I Accidentally Stole From Target & Other Recent Happenings

HOWDY! Excuse me while I unleash my good ole’ southern side (I just booked a quick four day trip to Dallas in August!). YEEHAAW. My schedule only comes out about three or four weeks before, so I’m doing all my planning last minute, but I’m learning to navigate it.

I’m thrilled to tell ya’ll that things are getting mucho better. I think after I wrote my last big nursing update post I began truly coping. I’m able to sleep through the night most nights without taking an absurd amount of melatonin, and I am able to separate work from home a bit better. I actually have some energy outside of work and am becoming motivated to start, idk, do real people things, besides sleep on my off days. I’ve still had days that would consume me at the beginning, but now I try to just see them as a learning experience. I feel that I am contributing more to my patients’ care too. One of my patients was just a bit too drowsy for my likin’ and had sluggish pupils. I let the doctor know, and when they did the CT scan it turned out he did have a re-bleed in the brain. As much as I wish these types of complications didn’t happen, it was incredibly rewarding to feel like I actually made a true difference for a patient. I still have an infinite amount to learn, but I don’t get nauseous every single day walking into work. I’ve actually had a few times where I’ve been somewhat excited to go back in because I knew I was getting my same patients back from the prior day! This turned corner is all, 100%, due to the tremendous support I have received in the last couple months and spending time in God’s Word has truly helped change my perspective. I don’t think I could have survived the first three new-grad nursing months from h-e-double hockey without you all, DJ, my family, my friends, and other coworkers. It sounds supes cliche, but it’s the truth. I have just a couple months until my probation period ends and I think I might just make it, guys! Then I will officially be a Clinical Nurse II! Just gotta keep peddlin’ on. (I needed to work in this photo somehow).

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Also my coworkers have jokes… I walked into this when I worked last Sunday and found it hilarious.

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When going through my Camera roll as of late I noticed two things. A. All I do is take pictures of food. and B. I make some weird crap. But I swear, it’s delicious crap.

Ok, exhibit A….

I decided to try a portobello mushroom cap stuffed with baked tilapia, blistered tomatoes, hummus, kalamata olives and seasoned with Za’tar. I had a side of quinoa & brown rice. It turned out crazy good. I made it the next day. DJ really enjoyed it as well and commented how good the house smelled when it was all cooking.

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I also have been craving tofu lately! Last week I made a medley of roasted veggies, vegan turmeric cauliflower mashed potatoes, and pan roasted tofu with tomatoes.

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I then bought giant collard green leaves and stuffed them with the above plus a dollop of hummus.

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I’m obsessed. I can’t stop eating these little guys!

Last Monday (7/10), I finally FINALLY was able to see one of my girlfriends, Sara. Our schedules haven’t been lining up lately, but they matched for once! DJ had to work super late that night so it made for a great impromptu girl’s night. I still had to work on Tuesday, but not until 2:30 pm, so I didn’t have to go to bed at 9 pm. She came over and we watched Bachelorette, sipped champagne, and ate cookies & chocolate. It was sooo needed.

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Tuesday (7/11) DJ and I worked our toosh’s off, but Wednesday (7/12) we both had the same day off! *GASP*. The same day?!? Yes, yes… I know it’s hard to believe, I was looking for the pigs flying overhead too. We were both pretty exhausted from the day before and decided to just take a chill day. We started our morning with a breakfast at Bobbie’s Cafe. This is a staple breakfast place in Cupertino. It’s your typical mom-and-pop dive with great staple breakfast options, phenom service, and friendly folks who appear to frequent the diner for their morning cup of Jo and side of eggs.

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You know a place is gonna be good when they welcome you with this many hot sauce options….

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I ordered their poached eggs over an english muffin with a side of cottage cheese. It hittt the spot!

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DJ says Bobbie’s pancakes are some of the best around here. I tried them, and definitely concur. I say they taste similar to Heidi’s– light but full of flavor.

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In the evening I made DJ a pepper jack crusted chicken with a sprinkling of pita breadcrumbs and pasta. For myself, I ate a collard green/cauliflower/veggie/hummus/tofu whatever-the-heck you wanna call it wrap.

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Since we graduated our FACC series class, we are only having one class with our Cohort every couple of months. We begin our research project in September. Eeeek! I am too pumped. I already know what our topic is gonna be, and I’m nerding out hard core.

They surprised us Thursday morning (7/13) ( with the most gourmet breakfast! I quickly snuck a picture when no one was around 😉 ) #DOITFORTHEBLOG.

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It included all kinds of fruit and bagels with cream cheese, capers, and smoked salmon. I told one of my coworkers that every single tear in the last few months was worth it for this very moment.

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After a long week of work, DJ and I set out to Oren’s Hummus shop on Main Street lateee on Friday night (7/14). It was a super spontaneous date night, neither of us thought we would be home as early as we were (I actually got out on time!).

If you want the run-down of Oren’s, go here, such a throwback post. It’s one of our all time favorite spots, and they have some of the best hummus in the whole wide world.

For an appetizer, make sure to order their original hummus with a side of whole wheat pita. Greatest life decision, I promise.

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I always order their Moroccan carrots, marinated beets and veggie skewers, and DJ usually gets their beef hummus.

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Funnnnnyy story: We stopped by Target afterwards to pick up a few groceries and a card for a friend. I picked out the card and walked around with DJ for the rest of the food he wanted to pick out. When walking back to our apartment, I realized I still had the card under my arm and hadn’t paid for it. I FREAKED out, classic “me” mode, and started sprinting back to Target hollerin’ to DJ, “I accidentally stole it!” When I looked to my right there was a Sheriff stepping out of his car in the parking lot. I dived into Target half expecting him to chase me. I’ve always loved the show Cops, just never expected to be on it. Nothing ended up happening. I walked up to the cashier and explained what happened, they couldn’t have cared less, but I clutched that receipt ready to explain myself as I left the building!

On Saturday morning (7/15), or any day I have off, you can almost definitely find my in my lil’ egg basket. I just swing, swing, and swing while enjoying my coffee, avocado smoothie, and oatmeal chocolate protein cookies. It’s hands down my favorite part of the whole day!

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DJ and I both had Saturday off too. DJ played some basketball with the guys in the morning and I went on a nice, loooong run. We also snuck in a few episodes of Game of Thrones and before we knew it, it was dinner time!

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DJ suggested Mod Pizza. How I haven’t been here yet is beyond me. They have them all over the US- anyone tried it?! It’s basically a subway for Pizza and it’s amazing.

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The crust/sauce/and topping options are endless AND they are reasonably priced. Around here that is a BIG deal. (literally). SUNS OUT, PUNS OUT.

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Deej ordered a Chocolate Milk Shake- I tried a sip. If you are a shake lover, you should definitely order one of these. Wowza! It was sweet, but the chocolate flavor was sending me into a whirl like the Cuckoo bird in the Coco Puffs commercial.

I did a Mini-Mod with red sauce, all the veggies, and fig balsamic glaze to top it.

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DJ had the Mad Dog!

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I couldn’t believe how quick the service was too!

After we devoured every bit of our pizzas, we headed to the Row to be out and about (like I said, I’m beginning to turn back into my old self a bit more!).

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The parking was super limited on a Saturday night, so we had to park on tippy-top of the parking garage. We didn’t mind though, the view of the Sunset was perfect, and we made it just in time!

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Anyone recognize the car below? It’s the one from Back to the Future! (DeLorean DMC-12).

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On Sunday (7/16) we went to Church. It was one of the first Sundays since starting this job that I actually had off and could actually go. It did something good for me to see all my friends. I missed everyone so doggone much!

After I did a quick grocery trip. I love grocery shopping- I just put my headphones in, listen to a podcast, and stroll the magical Safeway aisles.

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In the afternoon I meal prepped a bit- cutting up veggies, getting meats ready, yada yada yada, and then I made my faveeee oatmeal chocolate chip protein cookies. I cannot get enough!

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DJ has been asking me lately to make the Dixie Stampede soup. Dixie Stampede is a Dolly Parton owned show/restaurant in a few locations. DJ went with the basketball team in college to the one in Branson, MI, and came back raving about the soup. I whipped up a big ole batch that lasted all of three days.

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It is currently Wednesday (7/19) after working Monday and Tuesday. Today I am going out on a long run to catch up with podcasts and then I’m not sure what the evening holds! Tomorrow is pretty busy though, I’m excited to share all about that in my next recap post. Now that I’ve downed basically an entire jar of PB2, I’m off to run and soak up some beautiful sun! What are you all up to this week/weekend?

((BIG HUGS))

Blog Birthdays:

Major happy birthdays to Fallon @ Slacker Runner in July- an epic, motivational, and genuine runner who also has an terrific sense of humor!

and Niki @ Nikisthoughts.wordpress.com on July 18th! (I’m a bit behind, but I hope you had the most wonderful day!). I love Niki’s Share Your World challenges- they are super fun and insightful, and also spark some awesome conversation.

xo <3

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The Work Grind- One Week Strong!

Hey ya’ll!!! I just got back from work, ate a gargantuan salad, and am sitting down to unwind for the evening. Today is my day off working out- so rather than working out I am using this time to whip up a blog post! My mind is just buzzz buzz buzzzzing! Rather than jump into the studying and work I need to do tonight, I want to take a moment to reflect and write to calmmmm down.

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We left off last time after my first day. Ohhhh my lanta, I cannot get over how much information I have been struck with in a single week. This orientation period is going to be non-stop. By the end of the next three weeks, I will be checked off on competencies I learned through nursing school as well as new ones they have assigned us (like dealing with lumbar drains and neuro. specific interventions). I can hardly wrap my brain around it! 😜

My first thought when I saw what skills we would be doing was Wow, how cool. And my second thought was, Wait…. I have to actually do that now... needless to say, the terror began setting in! I haven’t performed these skills in nearly a year (due to the length of time it took me to get approved for my exam), and some of them I didn’t even have a ton of practice with in the clinical setting. On top of that we have hours of orientation training modules outside of our hospital hours, exams to study for as part of our competency testing, and hospital training for the general on-boarding of staff. Basically- I’m just sayin’ it’s gonna be a non-stop train until about May when my initial orientation competency check is done. I may have next to zero free time, especially starting next week, but that’s okay. It’s so worth it and I’m ecstatic to finally be doing what I love. And I am relishing in the review and learning process. I learned more this past week than I probably learned in half a semester of nursing school. It’s nuts! It feels amazing to be a “student” again… but this time I’m not paying to learn, I’m being paid to learn! How neat!

Part of the reason I love blogging is I can look back and see what I was feeling and thinking at a certain point in time and see the progress since. Right now I am feeling totally incompetent, eager, excited, and exhausted- but also exhaustively blessed. The entire staff is eager to help us learn, and I can’t wait to see what skills I will be capable of in just a couple months from now. Every individual I have met has been honest-to-gosh superb. Like I said in my last post, the culture created by the hospital is unlike anything I have ever experienced.

So a typical day from Monday- Friday sort of looked like this:

5:00-6:00 am: Get ready, have breakfast (yummy deliciousness of Ezekiel bread/yogurt/reduced sugar craisins/strawberries & coffee)

6:00 am: Leave the apartment and beat the traffic (with my business casual clothing that I now own). Ha! In NoCal, if you leave the house at 7 going north, you are guaranteed at least an hour of traffic if you are going anywhere over twenty minutes away. I figure by leaving the house at 6 am, I can get to my destination without traffic and be more productive during the waiting period. (I just sat in the parking lot or at Peet’s coffee to get stuff done!)

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6:10-8:00am: At the beginning of the week before we had any assignments due I was able to do some blogging, order bridesmaid dresses for my best friends’ weddings (HOLLA!), and get other random stuff done. By the end of the week I was cramming for different exams/reviewing our wealth of information/trying to keep up!

8:00-5:00 pm: Work work work work work!

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The first day the director looked at us all and said point blank, “This will be the hardest year of your life.”

While initially I thought, Hmm, not sure you can top sophomore year of nursing school… ,

I then thought…

BRING IT!

Our first week (and the first part of this week) was all the “logistical” house-keeping information, taking “baseline” exams to see where we stand, orienting the units, and going through different skills and lectures. It has been intense, but I wake up excited to get started every single day- even though it’s sorta a challenge getting out of bed. I just think of my coffee- the most powerful motivator in all the land.

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For lunch most days, I pack a No Cow bar, an apple, some grapes, carrots, a couple handfuls of boom-chicka pop, hummus, and almonds. A couple of the days where we had a cafeteria I stopped in and made a massive salad with grape leaves, roasted red peppers, hummus, and all the veggies. YUM!

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Let’s take a quick tick and just chat. So first week, right? I had too many embarrassing moments it was CRAY! For instance, I somehow had gum stuck to my jacket on my way into the hospital for the first time. Luckily, someone stopped me and let me know (thank goodness for kind people). I also just said some silly things that make me hot in the face when I reflect upon them, dropped an absurd number of miscellaneous items (including my sanity). To sum it up- I was a hot mess. It’s fine though- my coworkers are all so sweet, and I’m pretty sure everyone’s heads were spinning too fast for anyone to notice! Also, my sister calmed me down on the days I was feeling wayyy in over my head! Hermana to the rescue.

Oh, and the 8am- 5pm is just for orientation and classroom training. When I start my shifts I will be 7am to 7pm! (Then halfway through it flips and I will go to night shifts!).

5:00-6:00pm: Sit in traffic, wanting to pull out my hair.

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6:00-6:10: Eat something- I am ravenous when I get home after the long day. I usually have something light like eggs & hummus or spoonfuls of PB2 with carrots or PROTES chips.

6:10-7:10pm: Workout. Trust me, most days I have wanted to do nothing but come home and plop on the couch. But the minute I get outside and start to run or do an Insanity workout I have a sudden renewed energy to get me through the rest of the evening! It also gives me that rush of adrenaline to lift my spirits after fighting the traffic and ease the road rage.

I also love this time to snap some photos. Entering into this new time of life, I am determined to find the beauty in EVERY single day. When I was in nursing school I had this mentality of just doing what I needed to in order to get by. My phrase was always, “I just have to keep my head above water”. Going into this next stage, which will be comparable in the stress/busyness arena, I want to make sure I find the beauty and appreciate that beauty that surrounds me even when I feel like things are just hard! I quite literally have to stop and smell the roses 😉  I have a feeling my patients will be that piece of beauty for me many days <3

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7:10-8:00 pm: Shower then dinner!!! Since DJ and I have been married, dinner time has been the one part of the day that we give each other our undivided attention. With his new job, he doesn’t get home from anywhere around 8 to 10pm. I eat dinner on my own while usually playing Grey’s Anatomy or KUWTK to keep me company while I down my food (woah- that sounds so pathetic, but I promise it’s not so bad!). Last week I was on my loaded sweet potato kick (yes, still obsessed), and this week I have craved giant salads with tons of veggies, chipotle black bean burgers, hummus, and balsamic vinegar dressing!

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Also- I used to have a recipe posted for this, but I’m not sure where it ran off to. I’m gonna hunt it down soon!

Back to the dinner thing… I’m realizing we have officially passed that threshold into a new stage of life with us both trying to build our careers. Our ebb and flow of the day is changing drastically, all for good reasons, it’s just going to take getting used to. It naturally makes the time we have together all that more treasured. I’m also infinitely thankful for this past year and a half we have had to create endless precious memories and make sure our marriage is on super solid ground before this craziness ensued.

Some days he waits until he gets home (yes that late!) to eat dinner. I try to make sure there is something in the fridge for him. Last week it was salmon, farro, and veggies. This week is crockpot ginger peach chicken with rice, and later this week I am making crockpot ribs! I prepped it all Sunday so that it was good to go for the rest of the week-I don’t have tons of time when I get home in the evenings, so crock pot meals will be our best friends for a bit! I also placed about half of the crockpot meal into labeled freezer bags and for future times that DJ might get home before me, so he can just throw one in the microwave.

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8-9pm: Work on misc. tasks that need to be done and work orientation training online.

9 to 10pm: Finish cleaning up the house so it’s tidy, make some overnight oats for DJ to have in the morning. He has been on an OO kick since the Daniel Fast! It’s hilarious to me that something we discovered during a “fast” has become one of his favorite breakfast foods. He also said I need to post my overnight oats recipe, so I may just have to do that!

After that, I get everything together for work, eat an ice cream cone (my mint chocolate chip phase has gone back to cookie dough), and plop into bed to read HP hoping to fall asleep before 10:20. DJ usually comes home right as I’m getting into bed, so I make sure to give him a hug before I hit the hay. I think we maybe saw each other for a total of twenty minutes from Monday to Friday last week- and that’s being generous!

BUTTTTTT……….

FRIYAY DATE NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Oook, I may be getting ahead of myself. We both were POOPED come Friday. I seriously could not peel myself off the couch. So we decided to make Friyay Date night into Saturyay date night.

We tried out this restaurant in Campbell called The Socialight. It was one of the most unique menus I have ever seen (slightly reminded me of options that would be on Orchard City Kitchen’s Menu).

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I was obsessed with the inner decor. I told DJ if I ever owned a restaurant this is what it would look like. One side was lined with wine coolers, and the other side was a sports bar feel with hanging globe lights down the center. It was the perfect mix of class, elegance, casual, and chic!

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Like I said, the menu was fascinatingly eclectic! DJ and I tried as an appetizer their salmon sashimi with avocado and wakami salad served with shrimp chips (my mom used to make these chips at home when we were younger, so this flashed me back to my childhood!).

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DJ ordered their fried chicken and raved about how tasty it was.

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I ordered their vegetarian Indian Paneer with caulfilower confite and yogurt glaze. It wasn’t bad, but I was a bit disappointed. And the service was epically slow- (we were warned about that on YELP!).


Sunday we went to church.


 After, I meal-prepped and worked all day on orientation assignments. The hardest thing I think about this new job is the feeling of having to say “no” to so much else outside of it. I am undeniably a people pleaser, so when I have to say no I almost feel like I’m doing something wrong, or selfish. I won’t be able to volunteer as much at church as I used to be, and I’m not able to hangout with friends like I used to either. I guess my biggest fear is that people won’t understand- that they will resent me for it. But my mom reminded me that this is God’s calling on my life, and there is nothing selfish in pursuing that. I’ll still be serving, just in a different way. All I want to be able to do is give my everything to this year, learn as much as possible, and take advantage of this residency as much as I can. I want to be the best nurse I can possibly be. I want to be able to give my patient the best care possible, and that is going to come at a sacrifice in this present era of my growth. I don’t mind the sacrifice, I just hope I don’t lose others in the process. Mom L reminded me that those that are truly friends will be supportive and there at the end of it all. It’s true too, I just have to realize change inevitably does bring change in other areas. 

Ok, jumping off my soap box!

Below is a picture of my drive into work today. This was my little piece of beauty. There was water surrounding me on all sides as I drove across the bridge.

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ALSO- quick highlight- the lecturer made a pun that I just can’t keep to myself. The best part is I don’t think he even realized it….. but while referring to a colleague, he said, “She’s a cardiac nurse at heart”. BAHAHHAHAHA.

I really want to open up some conversation with you guys- I miss having time to read all the blogs and keep up. I’m gonna try to find a way to fit it all in because goodness gracious I miss it too much! But for now let me just get some feedback…

  • Anyone else navigating a new stage of life?
  • What has been the highlight of your day/week?

Real quick: HAPPY BIRTHDAY (on the 27th) to my rockstar of a mom (Mom J)! I LOVE YOU! 🎉😘 

ALSO- I’m so thankful for this community if I don’t say it enough 💕

xo <3

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Friday Favorites #3/ Recap!

Happy Fri-yay ya’ll!!

I’m sort of combining Friday Faves and our recap into one this week!

Okay- so basically since I returned from LA  I have been sick. Not normal sick- like the wind knocked out of my sails sick. (No worries- recovering slowly). I had a viral infection and was out for the count Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. Thursday I woke up in the middle of the night, and when I stood up to go to the bathroom, I suddenly had the most excruciating ear pain of my life. I told DJ I have never been through childbirth, but I would bet it was comparable. Turns out my eardrum was on it’s way to being ruptured and was tearing on the edges (Sorry, TMI?). I’m a nurse, guys, I don’t know the “normal” bounds of conversation sometimes! …The things I and my nursing friends would talk about at dinner…. Oy vey! Anyway after 1 ER, 1 Urgent Care, and 3 different pharmacies I was finally set up with the meds needed to combat the bad boy. I still don’t have my hearing back in the infected ear, but I just finished my last day of antibiotic drops, so it should be back once the drops start to drain. Fingers crossed!

But this leads me to my first Fri-yay fave (these aren’t in order of importance, more just chronological!):

  1. Puns. Because ya’ll know I love puns, and when you are sick you can make ALL the puns and no one calls you out on it. Exhibit A:

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2. Sushi. All the sushi. & Grubhub. When I’m sick (well anything but GI sick), I crave sushi. Wait…. I always crave sushi. But I especially crave it when I’m sick. Grubhub came in the clutch last week with the magic sushi delivered to our door. Sushi, sushi, sushiiiiiii. (Still not over it). There were seriously a couple days where I could barely get off the couch, so grubhub with the sushi saved my life! My go-to is a rainbow roll, spicy tuna, or a eel roll of some type! What’s your favorite sushi? Wasabi? Ginger? I douse my soy with the wasabi and always follow a bite with some ginger!

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We also had a delicious dinner at Dj’s family’s house on Wednesday! Love that family time.

3. DJ’s Baptism!!! DJ was baptized Sunday! It was such a special event. I was not about to miss it for the world. I drug myself off the couch to make it in between services and was able to see my love make a public declaration of his faith. I felt so honored to know him during this HUGE event in his life. He is truly one of my role models, and I couldn’t be more proud of my hubs <3 His grandma was able to make it too since she was in town all the way from Ohio which was a blessing!!!

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4. Dreyer’s Limited Edition Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough!!!! AHHHHH! This stuff is the bombbbb. I have an ice cream cone almost every night (not exaggerating). I’m a big believer of at least one sweet treat a day. I’ve been on a dreyer’s light mint chocolate chip ice cream kick (with cashews mixed in), but man, this stuff is my new crave. When I showed DJ he laughed because he said it was all my favorite things in one ice cream.

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5. John Freida Full Repair. I don’t know what it is about this stuff, but it’s pure magic. All the John Freida products are my ride or die when I have blonde highlights. In the winter and change in seasons my hair gets some severe breakage. This stuff helps tremendously and keeps the brightness of the blonde without any brassiness. I can’t recommend this enough!

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6. Another BIG UPDATE!!!! I finally have permission to announce that DJ has a new employer! He finished up his internship with the church and is now employed by the SJ Giants! Wooohoooo! I know he will do a tremendous job and I am incredibly proud of him for pursuing his dreams. Plus I got a cute baseball cap to wear out of it 😉

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7. Reading. YES!!! I finally have time to go through the HP series. For like, the first time in my whole life. I know I’m ten years late to that game (I’m also reading Cutting for Stone which is incredible). But as many of you know, one bucket list dream is to read the series then go to Harry Potter World. I should be embarrassed to admit this, but I’m not? One of my favorite nights this week was when DJ and I just read our individual books, DJ reading The Power of Habit (which he says is super great), and me reading HP while sipping on red wine in the evening. Perfection.

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8. Lysol Multi-purpose cleaner. It’s laboriously difficult to find an all purpose cleaner that is powerful but not super strong on the chemicals. This stuff actually smells terrific, and it works incredibly well.

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9. Protes chips. Ahhh, I could make a post alone about how much I love these chips. I believe protein packed snacks are the best types of snacks! Protes have 120 calories per 1 oz, 15 g of protein, 7g of carbs, and 1g sugar. I say that’s a pretty well macro balanced chip to munch on!!! I’ve been enjoying these with hummus everyday. (If you have had Quest chips- these blow them out of the water. I like Quest, but these are in a different league).

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10. Bitmojis. JJ inspired me to make a bitmoji, and I am obsessed. (You may have figured that out if you follow me on snapchat). Do you all have a bitmoji?! I don’t know why it took me so long to pull the trigger on making one! Too fun!

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Blog Birthdays: Happy Birthday to you all! These are some amazing ladies, and you all should go check out their blogs now and shower them with birthday wishes (or belated wishes- my baddd).

Chiara @ ChiarasCorner on February 28th (Sorry this is so late, dear!)

Nikki @ Flyingthroughwater on March 2

H.M. Davis @ Letsruntherace in the month of March

Have such a beautiful weekend everyone!

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 <3

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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 <3

Thank you again, Mom!!!!

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

xo <3

Mack

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

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

Without further adieu, here are Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

Grocery List:

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

Directions:

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

For Dip:

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

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

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

Calories: 234

Protein: 15g

Carbs: 24g

Fiber: 10g

Sugar: 13g

Fat: 11g (all the good kinds 😜)

Enjoy!

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

xo <3

Mack

Santa Cru Cru Cruzzzz

This weekend we are spending time with our little sisters while the parents are out of town, and we are having an absolute BLAST. They are 12 and 10, both going on 25. They are are beyond fun to hang out with and continually keep us laughing. The first morning we went to their house (Friday) was the day after my root canal. DJ went to their house nice and early and I woke up leisurely to make sure I got enough rest to recover. Surprisingly when I woke up I felt amazing. I felt no pain and did not even have any Tylenol in my system. On my way to their house (which is only about 30 minutes from us), I decided to stop and run “The Dish”. This is a famous satellite Dish landmark that has a trail that snakes up the mountains and provides gorgeous views of the surrounding area. You actually can see Stanford’s red rooftops from the top. I also passed a whole flock (flock?) of turkey on my run. I did get lost though, despite my awesome innate compass (sarcasm). I was planning on doing an easy 4 or 5 miler, but ended up doing 7. Oh well!

Once I finally got to the house after my detour, we decided to all go to Lush. Now, I have never been to Lush, but if you have, you may realize how dangerous this is that I now know what Lush is. The girls love this place and knew more about the products and the store than probably anyone else (maybe even the workers!). Also- our little sisters are the sweetest girls on planet Earth. When we got into the store they told us we weren’t allowed to stay with them. We just thought they were exercising their independence. Instead, they came back about five minutes later with a giftcard for me. What 10/12-year-olds think to do that?! It was the kindest thing. We stocked up on delicious smelling bath bombs, hair treatments, and bubble bars.

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^^Once again, why am I standing like this?! #runningtanorsocks

After LUSH, we walked around Stanford mall and peaked in the bakeries that invited us with the smell of bread wafting in the  walkways. We then came home, had a quick snack, and went to hang out in the gym while one of the girls had basketball practice. When practice ended we rushed over to a creative Japanese restaurant the girls suggested named Juban. It closed at 9 and we made it by 8:05 for just enough time to enjoy the full meal. You choose from a menu of tons of meat, sides, veggies, salads, etc. and then cook them on a grill right in the middle of your table. I have never done this before, but I would certainly go back. Their sauces (particularly the barbecue tasting soy sauce) was amazing! I ordered tofu and veggies. The girls and DJ got filet mignon and yummy rice.

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We then proceeded to do what any normal 20-something-year-olds do on a Friday night: go to the store to get some Ben and Jerry’s. There was actually a line in front of the freezer section at the store for the B&Js. #addicts (including ourselves). The favorite flavors in this family include brownie batter and half baked froyo. Then it was off to sleep for a full day at Santa Cruz to come.

We all took the morning to sleep in and decided that nothing sounded better than a beach day. Santa Cruz is a full blown surfer town. It is just like you would imagine. The first time we went to Santa Cruz was the day before we moved into our apartment. On our way DJ kept saying, “Santa Cru Cru Cru Cruzzzz” with a little tongue twirl at the end. So now we don’t really refer to it as anything else. We spent the night walking the pier, ate at a fantastic mexican-seafood joint overlooking the water, and watched the surfers ride the waves at sunset. There is also a poppin’ Arcade next to the boardwalk. The Boardwalk is basically a lively carnival that goes on year round with games, rides, and even a free movie night on Wednesdays on the beach. We only live about an hour away and it will be a great place to relax on the weekends if we need to get away for a day-trip. That is something I love about where we live. Monterey, Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Tahoe, and many other destination places are basically day or weekend trips if you have the time. And….The FOOOOOD. Oh, the food. It’s too much to handle. We are trying to figure out what to do for our anniversary coming up in a few weeks and it’s maybe one of the most challenging decisions of our marriage. Just too many darn good options!

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Now, we probably should have not tried to go on a Saturday afternoon in the summer. The traffic and parking was nuts. We finally ended up finding a spot and spent a good chunk of time playing games, riding rides, and taking in the view of miles of glistening water. DJ and I split up with the girls since they had different interests. I went with the younger one and we ran into some Disney Princesses walking the boardwalk. Perfect time for a selfie! We also tried to stand in line for a funnel cake since they had never had one, but the line was at least an hour long. We promised them we would find them another funnel cake soon!

For dinner, we ate at a place on the Boardwalk called Gilda’s. It had the very hometown, diner feel that just has quality food-the bread and butter, fish and chips, no-mess-around-good-tartar sauce and coleslaw type of place that just beckons when you are near the sea. We did have a slight scare when I was sitting at the table and felt something crawling on my back. I look over my shoulder and a bee is just casually basking in the sun on my left scapula (nursing talk). I didn’t scream- hard to believe, I know. I was able to blow it off of me and when it fell to the ground DJ kindly killed it. We kept our cool, generally speaking. It was ironic too because we had just been talking about how many times we had each been stung in the car on the way up.

After dinner we began the winding ride on route 17 back home. Once again it was during the time with most likely the heaviest traffic. We have a great deal to learn! When we got home we realized that we did not take the house key with us. I thought DJ had the house key, and DJ thought going through the garage house door would be sufficient. Well the garage door was locked. WHOOPS. I was a salty, salty peanut. So here we are at 10:30 at night with a couple of girls with full bladders sitting in the car with no idea how to get in the house. Luckily the girls knew a neighbor, who was still awake, thankfully, who let us in. It’s all good! Worst case scenario we could have gone to our place, but none of us had anything since even DJ and I had packed our clothes, toothbrushes, and other everyday essentials to the girls’ house. The girls were TROOPERS through the whole thing. Like I said, 10 and 12 going on 25.

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love this pic of them <3

 

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This morning I squeezed in a quick five miler before the heat hit. We then went to the same church from last week. It was a joy seeing familiar faces, and most everyone remembered our names. Everyone was beyond welcoming. The founder of the Church (from Australia) came and spoke. We had great conversation on the way home about the service. Tonight we are heading to Sean Mendes in concert! The girls are beyond excited (as are we). More to come with that!

Wishing you lots of beautiful adventures,

xo <3

Mack

New York, New York!

Following the Baltimore trip we decided to hit up one of the greatest cities in America. I have never been to New York, so before we did the big move, we thought it was pretty essential. DJ was a trooper and drove the whole time in his GMC Canyon (pickup truck). He did great, besides getting stuck in the intersection one time. The cars just swerved around him like a rock in a stream without getting upset, like, “Oh there is an Ohioan driving his pickup truck in New York, we won’t even get mad”. We stayed in the beautiful Grand Hyatt right by Grand Central Terminal. It was great to be able to walk among the hustle and bustle of the city as soon as we stepped out our door. I LOVED the fast pace of the city. In the mornings I would walk to Starbucks after my morning workout and get breakfast for DJ and I. I was right among the commuters. For a people-watcher, like myself, New York City is a gold mine.

 

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^ I have a tendency to stand awkward in most photos.

We also spent quite a bit of time in Times Square. I was obsessed. I loved all the hubbub, places to eat, and unique shops. The first evening we were there it absolutely downpoured on us. We stomped through the puddles like a couple of midwesterners while the rest of the people were huddled under canopies, glued to the buildings. Okay we aren’t that good- we may have purchased umbrellas for $5. When we were passing Grand Central we hopped in and grabbed some delicious goodies from a bakery right near the entrance. DJ ordered a flourless chocolate cake and I ordered cheesecake. We may or may not (meaning most definitely) have gotten another cheesecake in the lobby, because the one from Financier just seemed too small to share. We agreed the cheesecake from the Hyett lobby store was actually better. We took them back to the room to watch the Cavs battle it out in game 5. Do not get me started on how proud we are of Bron’ Bron’ and our city. #CLE.

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The next day we made our way to Central Park. OK- call me crazy but I imagined Central Park to literally be a small park including only the area in Home Alone. Man, was I ever wrong. Central Park is MASSIVE and very scenic.

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We found Balto!

After exploring Central Park, we walked around the city a little bit. We went down Sak’s Fifth avenue and down some side streets. Highlights from walking around included:

  • Finding Lindt store. Lindor truffle balls are our obsession. I particularly like their dark chocolate or white chocolate and DJ prefers the milk. When we saw all the flavors, we could not control ourselves. We decided to each get one flavor we have never tried. I am having a hard time remembering what we chose, but I think I got a cookies and cream and DJ tried white finally.
  • We found Carlos’ Bakery. It is not the original, but we HAD to try the famous cannoli and eclair. THEY WERE LIFE CHANGING.
  • More Time Square…Can’t get enough.
  • The following day we decided to do the Empire State Building tour. It was fun to try to find certain landmarks from way up high.

After our adventures of the day, we had worked up an appetite. We found a scrumptious steakhouse. Even though I do not eat meat, I love steakhouses. Mainly because usually they have amazing seafood options and sides. I ordered tuna tartare and DJ got steak (duh). We shared the lobster mac and cheese and creamed spinach to boot. If you are a creamed spinach lover, try putting it on your bread. It is 10291498x better on bread. I do not know why, but it is!   Ben and Jack’s was the name of this delicious jackpot. We ordered dessert consisting of coconut cream pie and more flourless chocolate cake. It was delicious and I highly recommend it if you are looking for a nice night out in New York.

The rest of the night we spent in the room to watch Bachelorette. Yes, yes, I know it is pathetic. We were whipped by this point, and while we probably could have found something to do (It’s New York, hello), cozying up with a glass of wine, our stock pile of desserts, and watching our bae JoJo slayyy sounded so inviting.

The next day we decided to walk to South Manhattan. It was about a 10 mile walk roundtrip. I also stopped us every few miles to reapply sunscreen- WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN BOYS AND GIRLS. We saw the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, and the Brooklyn Bridge (sort of).

Story time.

Once upon a time Mack and DJ had plans to go to Broadway to see Wicked. They did not have a hotel for said night of Wicked and had to carry around their clothes with them all day before the show. This bookbag contained not only Mack’s favorite dress and DJ’s favorite pants, but a new watch DJ had gotten Mack for her birthday, all Mack’s makeup, and her passport. Yes, passport. They stopped at a small little convenient store to grab snacks and use the restroom (which is tricky  to find in New York!). They casually walked all along Wall Street and then headed to the notorious Brooklyn Bridge. While entering Brooklyn Bridge, Mack looked to DJ and realized there was no precious bookbag upon her hubby’s shoulders. “Where is the book bag, sweet husband”, she said calmly (NOT). “Gone” hubby replied. (Really- that is how he responded, in a monotone voice). *INSERT MACK HAVING A MAJOR TEMPER TANTRUM*. They did not fully complete the Brooklyn Bridge but turned back and between the tears and angry outburst and each realization of what was in this bag, they brainstormed where the bag could possibly be. After retracing their steps they found that darn little convenient store and sure enough- right in the chair they had been in- was their precious little bag. (This is crazy considering there were five times more people there than when they were there about two hours prior). Mack has never felt such great relief in her whole life. DJ was still glad to have his life. The happy, relieved couple maneuvered New York happily ever after after that.

**Side note: I felt horrible about freaking out to such an extreme. Many apologies were exchanged after. Good learning experience, am I right? We just said it will be an excuse to go back to New York in the future so we can actually complete the Brooklyn Bridge.

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We tried to get a picture with the famous Lady, but no luck. Also just realized there is something in my tooth lol.
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Lady Liberty looking mighty fine

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Incredibly relieved after finding the bag

I also have to mention the profound experience we had at Ground Zero. Seeing the memorial opened my eyes to the exponential number of people personally touched. I know it affected our entire country, but when you see each of those names, it pulls on the depths of your heart. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with those that lost loved ones.

After the New York walk, we went to a delicious burger joint called the Counter. GOSH DARNIT, we got caught in the chain trap. Once again we did not know this was a chain either, but holy moly was it good. The way The Counter works is you design your burger. They have endless options of breads, toppings, sauces, etc. We discovered it was chain when we saw one right down the road from us in Cupertino. LOLZ. I ordered the most epic vegan patty burger with smoked gouda and tons of veggies. DJ had the famous burger with a fried egg. Lastly, we split their perfectly made coleslaw and delved into their heavenly sweet potato fries. Oh and their milkshakes are to.die.for.

Now it was time to get ready for Broadway. We went to a little cafe where I ordered a decaf coffee just so we could use their restroom. There was not much I could do about the hair situation, so we just bunned it hardcore. Broadway blew us away. The talent was indescribable. Wicked will keep you fascinated and enchanted for the entire length of the production. If you find yourself in New York, make sure you carve out a chunk of time to see it.

Next stop: HOME.

Wishing you lots of juicy burgers,

xo <3

Mack