Crazy Eats & Crazy Conversations!

HAPPY HAPPY WEDNESDAY (probably Thursday now?), everyone! Thank you for all your sweet wishes to recover- I am happy to report that my hearing and ear is almost back to 100%. What a ride! I won’t take the ability to hear for granted any longer.

I’m thankful that I was sick when I was though. I start work on March 20th, so truly, if that was going to happen thank goodness it did sooner than later! I felt so isolated these last couple weeks being sick, so Friday when I slightly started turning the corner, I decided to go out for a nice run!

These trees!!!

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During the day I was able to get my butt moving and get the house clean, get laundry done, all that jazz. On my way home from an errand I spotted a little hole in the wall place broadcasting Malaysian cuisine. Naturally, I flew to YELP, and this unassuming storefront had raving reviews. As it was Friday date night, I texted DJ to see if he would be interested in trying it out. He is always down for literally whatever always, so we eagerly awaited what this Malaysian cuisine entailed.

He has been arriving home later than usual with the new job. It’s totally fine- just an adjustment for planning out dinners and everything. As soon as he walked in the door I had my shoes and coat on ready to go- I was HUNGRY hangry. We jetted to Layang Layang on S. De Anza Blvd.

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It felt authentic as they come. It was also jam packed which is always an excellent sign. The decor screamed Malaysian (at least I think? I don’t know much about Malaysia). It actually reminded me a touch of the ethiopian restaurant we tried out, but the food was not at all similar.

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Malaysian food mirrors thai food incredibly closely (which makes sense). Thai is definitely one of my favorites, so I was salivating while scrolling the menu.

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We started with their Satay Tofu, which was decent, but not the greatest tofu in the world.

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I settled on a red curry tofu and DJ tried their Hakkien Mae with thick yellow noodle in heavily flavored soy sauce with chicken, shrimp, and veggies.

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DJ, surprisingly, loved it more than I did. I’m still convinced Olarn has the BEST red curry around. I still have to take DJ there because he is a big red curry fan too.

Saturday DJ had to work, and I was squeezing in a long 14 mile run for my marathon training. One of our friends from church is moving to Oakland and borrowed our truck for the day to help with the move. As a thank you, they brought us these out-of-this-world donuts from Donut Savant. Like, holy moses, I can’t even explain— the FLAVOR! AHHH! I want to go here again and try all their flavors. The pecan one may have been my favorite, and DJ said their glazed was competitive with some of his top tiers. The one next to the pecan one is actually a candied ginger with a light vanilla frosting. It sounds like a strange combination- but it was pleasantly palatable.

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We didn’t do much Saturday night. It was rainy out and we were both exhausted. I still didn’t feel like I had my mojo back all the way and we decided to have a chill evening. I’m trying to take advantage of them while I can because I know soon they will be few and far between. I still hate just laying around without doing something productive. I get far too ancy. DJ will plead with me to relax, so as soon as I can concoct something productive to do while sitting and “resting”, I give in. I decided to go through the photos on my laptop and delete any randoms, multiples, etc. I went from 14,000 photos to about 7,000 photos. There is just something about getting rid of stuff that is like a weight lifted. I’ve had that on my “to-do” list for a looong time and it’s such a nice relief that it’s actually done!

When Sunday came we went to church bright and early. I only stayed for the first service because my ear was not hanging in there well. The noise and music sounded chaotic and the drum started to throb.

BUT. It was the commissioning service for the leaders of the church. I had been sick and had my interview, so I missed two sessions and will make them up next round. DJ graduated though, and I am immensely proud of the humble, loving, kind, strong leader he is!

When he plopped on the couch in the afternoon I made him a big lunch and then he declared he had a sweet tooth. The sun was shining (an unusual occurrence), so we decided to take a walk to CREAM! I mentioned this place in one of my VERY first posts from moving here, and we haven’t been back together since.

Long overdue.

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This place is crazy. They make the most mouth-wateringly delicious ice cream sandwiches around with endless flavors, some of which are unique like their green tea ice cream and vegan cookies. HELLO, CALIFORNIA!

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I wasn’t having too much of a sweet tooth, and decided to just nibble on whatever DJ got. Sharing is caring 😉

Lucky for me, he ordered more than enough. He decided to try their Sundae of Champions. This consisted of two fresh baked cookies, three scoops of ice cream, one LARGE crumbled brownie, a do’sant sandwich (donut ice cream sandwich), and whipped creme with sprinkles. This diabetes in a cup sundae was a sight to see! Everything tasted fresh and delicious. The brownie was our personal favorite part.

And of course, I had to take more than enough pictures to document 😉

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On Monday, I had a hike planned with one of my good friends. This is the first day that I felt my ear wasn’t entirely muffled. We planned to meet at 9 am and when I parked the car I saw a bunch of turkeys just roaming around. I feel like lately I have seen so many random wild birds. So here is your wild bird of the post!

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Despite the annoyance of the rain (it was raining this morning too a matter of fact), it was a gorgeous hike with sprawling green foliage and cascading moss everywhere you looked. It felt like a fairytale. We decided to hike for about an hour.

We hiked….

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and we hiked….

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and we hiked some more…

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Annnnnd then I realized we were lost.

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After about two hours of going straight up the mountain in the rain, I knew that we were not on the path I thought we were on…. WHOOPS

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We saw one lady at the top, who may have been scarier than the mountain lion I enountered. She didn’t speak great english, and she kept asking us,”What path you take?” “You take that path”?!” “Avoid the dead bodies!” “Oh, good!”. We exchanged perplexed looks and just told her we had taken wildcat trail.

“Oh good!! No dead bodies!”

She hurried off in the other direction and I looked at Danielle super confused. I go, “Did she say dead bodies?!”. Danielle said, “that’s what I heard- unless she was mispronouncing something like a trail name. Let’s keep an eye out on the news”. Hahaha.

I really do not even know how to comment on that encounter. It was one of the strangest things to ever happen to me.

I apologized profusely to Danielle for getting us lost in the rain and mud and on behalf of the crazy lady. She was SUCH a trooper about it all.

This was taken at the top of the mountain. Unbeknown to us, we still had an hour of hiking left!

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Three hours later, with stomachs growling, shoes thick with mud, and tons of laughs we made it back to the car with the guidance of some helpful ladies we saw hiking.

We decided to try Bill’s Cafe which has a notorious reputation for being one of the best breakfast and lunch spots in San Jose. Luckily, it wasn’t crowded when we arrived around 12:30 and we were seated right away.

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Their menu has everything you can imagine for breakfast. They have a section for pancakes, waffles, benedicts, scrambles, omelettes, skillets, french toast, etc. etc. EVERYTHING. Danielle ordered this parisienne french toast which was a giant CROISSANT baked fresh dipped in egg batter and grilled sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. She graciously offered me a taste, and WOWZA- we were both impressed with just how much flavor was packed in it. Now we know- make french toast with croissants. (You can see the creation in the second picture below)

I ordered their french garden omelette. It had goat cheese, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, avocado, mushrooms, and basil. I usually order my omelettes with egg whites, but after this accidental hike, I could use all the refueling I could get! It was one of the greatest omelettes I’ve ever had. The sun dried tomatoes in it tasted so fresh and I wanted to ask what kind they used. It was maddeningly delicious!

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This week I did an order of Blue Apron (WOOHOOO!). I love love love love Blue Apron and for my birthday I got a giftcard (Obviously someone knows me well ;)). I could talk about it for days. I may make a separate post to describe in depth all the pros/cons and share all my thoughts!

For the first meal on Monday, I made a Moroccan Chicken for DJ and had my giant salad to use up some leftover veggies in the fridge. I don’t have a ton of experience cooking meat dishes, so Blue Apron is great with helping me learn in that arena.

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I tried the sauce and it was SOOOOO good! I want to recreate this with tofu!

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Monday night- BACHELOR! We made two mega cookies for this one- our usual chocolate chip tollhouse and then a massive hot cocoa tollhouse one (they are addictive, beware).

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Yesterday I made the Spicy Shrimp Coconut Curry from Blue Apron for dinner. I’m mad at it for not turning out too photogenic, but it was delicious!

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Today I have to go to the mall to find “business casual” clothes. UGH. I’m dreading it. I may be the only girl on the planet that truly just does not enjoy shopping all that much- especially when I have to find something.

BUT…. there is a very exciting weekend ahead, and I can hardly control my excitement…

Hope you all are having a beautiful week so far!

xo <3

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Happy Birdd-Day

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you an icing on the cake kind of day,

xo <3

Mack

“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

 

Part 2 of the Best Week!

Oh my lanta, am I a slacker or what? I recently started studying again for my nursing boards because I received word that I should receive approval in the next couple weeks- WOOHOO! GUYS! This is such a big deal after waiting over 20 weeks. But in the wake of that, all I have done the last week and a half is study. Is it really strange that I actually enjoy it? I have such a fascination with anatomy, physiology, and medicine; I just want to understand everything. At the same time there are overwhelming amounts I could study, and I get caught up on such small fastidious details- definitely not the most practical way to study for a comprehensive exam. Anyway, basically anything I post from now until I take the exam will be- “Hello, DJ and I studied, and here is what we had for dinner.”

Back to this exciting post though- I have to finish up the week Rach was here. I told myself that I could write it once I finished my Endocrine review. If you have any questions about Diabetes, Cushing’s, Addison’s, or or Pheochromocytoma I am your girl! JUST KIDDING. I will probably tell you to go to the doctor. That’s what I say to 50% of my friends that come to me with health issues. The other 50% I tell to take a Tylenol. If you want to read the first part of the week I have it all in my last post! I believe we left off on ….

Thursday- September 1st

Rach and I called around to different wineries in the area because we wanted to visit an actual winery- a place with the sprawling grapes, barrels, and all that jazz. We found the PERFECT place. It is called Mountain Winery and the views- the GORGEOUS VIEWS!- were like nothing I have ever seen. Even our Lyft driver was soaking them in on our way up the mountain. The winery was located at the very top. We walked onto a quaint patio overlooking the magical mountain with everyone singing along to the songs playing on the speakers. We could tell this was the place to be. We sat in the sun and soaked in the beauty as we sipped on different blends and pretended like we knew anything about wine. Swirl, sip, and say “dry”, “would pair well with…”, or “notes” and you are good to go.

Have you guys heard of Lyft? It is such a snazzy little alternative to the famous Uber. We actually prefer it because it pays it’s drivers more and so far we feel like they are quicker to the pickup.

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The winery has a venue for concerts and performances. I told DJ we would have to come here for a concert some weekend. Wine not?!

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Anywho, after visiting this absolutely amazing location, we decided to walk along Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino. There are so many buzzing, happening places along the way and we stopped at a few restaurants for nibbles. I had to take Rach to the local Counter. We also stopped at Elephant Bar. This is another chain, but it’s a must-try location! It has one of the most diverse menus I have ever seen representing foods from all over the world. If one of you are craving Chinese and the other a juicy burger, this is the place to go. After those appetizers we made homemade healthy pizzas and watched Gabrielle Iglesias on the porch- Round 2! I have a recipe for the flatout pizzas I will post soon 🙂

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Friday- September 2nd

We tried to be super well-rounded and fit in something historical on this vacay. We heard of this place on Santana Row that has a “haunted”, historical home called the Winchester Mystery House. This woman, named Sarah Winchester, learned from a psychic that in order to be reunited with her loved ones in the afterlife she would have to continue building onto her home indefinitely. It could never be considered “finished”. She took these words to heart and built a home that is littered with doors that lead to nowhere, bizzare rooms that only have one-way doors you cannot return through, encrypted quotes in stained glass, and fascinating backstories. We did the House and Grand Estate tour. I would recommend just the house, it is the most fascinating part. However you do get the chance to see the ghost that supposedly haunts the basement on the Estate tour in the basement. But ehh, no such luck for us 😉

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** Shout out to Rach for sharing some of her lovely pics!

I had been talking about Santana Row all week and we had agreed that Friday night would be the time to do it! DJ was at a family barbecue that I hated to miss, but they were understanding of the tourist packed week with Rachel here.

I love Santana Row, but it can be very pricey. I have held off trying so many places for a special occasion, and I think having a best friend in town qualifies 😉 !

First stop was El Jardin. They have the best gaucamole I have had in my entire life. I need to stop with the emphatic statements, but truly it was the best. I don’t know what it was, but it was the most fresh, vibrantly flavored guac.

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After our guac and chips, we weren’t starving, but also still could nibble. This place has caught my eye since we moved here. It is called Vintage Wine Bar located in the center of the row. It has the word vintage in it, so naturally I was pre-obsessed.

Pre-obsessed definition: Obessed prior to actually trying something or prior to having an actual valid reason to support obsession.

Example: I am preobsessed with eating french bread in France and my future three-legged dog named Beans

We decided to give it a go. This time we did the full experience. * Say in Italian Accent* We got the olives, the roasted red peppers, and allll the good cheeses and crackers. I think it was the best wine of the week (even better than the Mountain Winery- hard to believe, right?!) and it paired so well with the cheese and olives. Rachel doesn’t like olives (more for me, mwahaha), but she did feel the need to be a child and make eyes out of them. Twenty- two does not equate maturity. JK Rach, love u.

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After this we found this place in Los Gatos that had a bunch of fun older dance music playing and although we were the only twenty -somethings among middle aged folks, we had an absolute blast!
Saturday- September 3rd

Saturday we decided to squeeze in one last hike before it was time for Rach to leave 🙁 We went to Rancho San Antonio Open Nature Preserve. I will definitely be going back to this place. It seems like one of the better running trails. A lot of the hikes I have done so far are not so running friendly (tons of roots, sharp turns, awkward stepping), but this had more of that trail feel!

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At this place they do model airplane competitions. We were lucky enough to go on a day while this was going on. It was super fascinating to us, and Rachel’s grandfather actually used to compete. We stopped and watched them for a little bit and talked to a couple of the competitors.

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There was one last place that was essential to try before Rachel left. I had takeout from  Olarn Thai Cuisine , and noticed they had a place to eat authentically- shoes off and cross-legged. I have been itching to try it and Rach likes unique cuisine and exploring different culture as well. We LOVED it.

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I ordered the red curry with pumpkin. PUMPKIN! YESSS. Finally! Cue high-pitched girls squealing! It’s that time of year. Bring on the pumpkin! The red curry and pumpkin complemented eachother perfectly. Plus it was super spicy, which is right up my alley.

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Sunday- September 4th

Early Sunday morning (meaning around 5 am), I had to take Rach to the airport. It was such a hard goodbye. I couldn’t believe how quickly the week had come and gone. The sunrise above the mountains helped make the drive back a little less sad.

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Thankfully our sister-in-law was in town (DJs twin), and so the fun could continue!! We went to church, and then she said wanted to do a hike, music to my ears! We did the same six/seven-miler hike that I did with my mom a week prior.

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We had worked up an appetite after our hike and decided to split some appetizers at Rootstock on main street before getting dinner. They have an awesome selection of different bruschetta, so we sampled a few. Amy is probably the funniest person to grace this planet, and also one of the most genuine, so our afternoon was filled with nothing but laughs and good conversation.

The experience at Olarn was just so darn uniquely fun (and yummy!), so I suggested we try it again. Amy wanted to try something off the beaten path while she was here, and this was perfect! We tried the roti paratha for an appetizer with peanut sauce and it was some of the best roti. Once again with “the best”- BUT HONESTLY. I would never lie about roti!  It was so flaky and warm and crunchy. I need to learn to make this at home. I tried the Emerald Seafood in Green Curry (doggone’ tasty), and Amy had the Drunken Noodles. Drunken noodles are a favorite for many people that like Thai. They are broad rice noodles with usually a soy sauce and garlic base and then either seafood or chicken.

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After we went back home and DJ took a break from studying to play The Office Boardgame with us. THIS WAS TOO MUCH FUN!!!! I am in the last season and not quite finished, but goodness gracious, DJ and Amy are experts. I think they both have seen it like ten times, each. If you are an Office fan, GET THIS GAME NOW. I was Meredith, DJ was Creed, and Amy was Toby. I was tempted to be Dwight, because I quite honestly think that is who I am most like. But I just loved the sassy look on Meredith’s face. Who would you be?

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Monday- Labor Day, September 5th

We didn’t have any huge plans for Labor Day. As you can tell the last couple weeks were jam-packed with activity so we didn’t mind just taking it easy.

Occasionally I get a CRAVING for an Indian Dish called Idly. It is a breakfast rice cake essentially that you dip in sambar or chutneys. When I was in India I could not get enough. For my wedding shower last year my mom got me an Idly maker, woohoo!

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After this cooking endeavor, we got a bit more of a normal breakfast at Vitality Bowls. Amy has never tried the Acai bowls, so naturally I had to make sure she got her Cali fix before heading back home.

Then she hit the road (or jumped on her plane) to head back to Colorado. I NEED to visit her there soon. My other sister (older sister) lives in Colorado too. I am super anxious to go, maybe after the NCLEX?! Ohhhh- now I’m all motivated.

The rest of the week consisted of DJ’s regular routine of being a studious law slave  student, and I caught up on laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, and began studying.

Also- HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dear friend Morgan. Love you, Mo!

Wishing you Thai-riffic Tuesday,

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

Family, Friends, and Food: A Recipe for a Perfect Weekend

Wow! I have taken quite the hiatus from blogging the last couple weeks and it simply is because I have been busy making some incredible memories <3. Sometimes when such wonderful events occur I feel like I can’t get them written down fast enough. I’m afraid they will leave me if I don’t record the small details. It’s the small details that seem to sneak out of the memory the quickest, but also the small details that make each memory personal and unique. Hence, I want to make every effort to hang onto them.

My mom came on Friday August 26th. DJ and I picked her up from the San Francisco airport and headed straight into the city! As I mentioned in my last San Francisco post, I spent time with my dear friend, Annie, who lived with us in high school. My mom was an eager beaver to see her. Friday night we had tickets to Eat/Drink SanFran (get ready for picture overload!). It started at 7:30 pm, which is an awkward time for “dinner”, so we decided to lightly graze at the Slanted Door to tide us over. Yes, “lightly” is a subjective term. Naturally while waiting for a table we had to do a photo shoot…

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What is this “Slanted Door” you ask? It is a modern Vietnamese fusion restaurant experience that guarantees to take your taste buds on an adventure like never before. No, they did not ask me to promote them, but while I’m waiting for my nursing license to get approved maybe I could work for their marketing department? Hehe.

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First up on the menu for the evening was Vegetarian Spring Rolls. But, oh, they are not just your typical vegetarian spring rolls (which are fantastic in themselves); these are the BEST. They contain tofu, shiitake, cabbage, mint, and a peanut sauce that will blow your mind. Would you judge me if I just drank it? Right out of the bowl? Would you judge me if I told you I’m not kidding?!

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Next up on the menu was the vegetarian Banh bot loc- aka mung bean tapioca dumplings, scallion oil, and thai chile soy sauce.

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BRB, need to get a napkin for the puddle of drool I have on my laptop after thinking about them…

Next on the list was Crispy Imperial Rolls. These included gulf shrimp, pork shoulder, vermicelli noodles, and roasted peanut. The meat eaters at the table gobbled them up like it was their last supper. You use the lettuce leaves to make a wrap with the crispy rolls and noodles and then dip in the sauce. It took us a moment to figure that one out 😉

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Last, these barbecued willis ranch pork spareribs were the fan-fave. I didn’t try them, but they smelled heavenly and in the time they left the plate I could tell they were darn tasty!

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They even gave us some hot washcloths for the ribs (or was it for the beverage spill? whoopsies!) Now- that’s some service! img_9423

After this “appetizer” (aka first dinner), we decided to walk to the venue and take our time sight seeing the bay. This never gets old for me, even if it was my third weekend in a row there!

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Below is a picture from “Off the Grid”. This was taking place the same night as Eat/Drink SanFran and definitely something I will want to do in the future! It is a gathering of a bunch of food trucks from the area with music and a big carnival feel!

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The building on the right at Fort Mason is where Eat/Drink took place.

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I was so glad DJ decided to take a break from studying to have a night out for some fun. He works so hard every. single. day.

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Walking up to the doors I felt like a giddy child again. I feel like those “giddy” feelings bubble up less and less the older you grow, but when they do sneak up on ya, you know you are doing life right.

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Just a little overview about Eat/Drink SF: It is organized by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and represents the best of the Bay Area’s  cuisine. It goes on for four days at the Fort Mason pavilion (Thursday to Sunday). You pay a flat fee for one of the days (we did Friday) and then have unlimited access to over 36 food vendors and over 70 beer, wine, and spirits makers once in the building. They also have a VIP option as well. I am not sure exactly what that entails, but you do get early access to the building and more exclusive options. Here is the formal description of the whole event:

“Enjoy unlimited pours of wine, beer, and cocktails and tastes from the Bay Area’s top restaurants. Mingle with the personalities that make this a world-class dining destination. Watch cooking demonstrations and learn in classes taught by renown tastemakers”

We did not sit in any classes this time because we were too busy eating, duh. We agreed we would make this an annual thing and next time partake in one of the classes.

When you enter, you receive a glass that you keep with you throughout the entire tasting.

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Every venue has a unique set up that quickly allows the consumer to know what their cuisine is all about! There were corn hole games set up near the Straus Family Creamery Ice Cream and Super Duper Burger stand. It felt like you were at a barbecue, but then two steps over you entered an Italian oasis with Pizza Antica. It was intoxicating (no pun intended).

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The Morning Star pizza was one of my favorite flavors of the night. It was a vegan barbecue pizza and they even handed out recipe cards to make it at home. I will be making it- no doubt!

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The Glenlivet Dram Room was a hard liquor tasting room. None of us were interested in actually trying any of the liquor, but the room itself was really neat!

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Here you could sniff different scents that were used in the production of their products. I loved that!

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They certainly had some unique food to try- and you know I was all about that! For example, I have heard quail eggs are tasty but never have actually had the chance to try one. It was- all together now…- AMAZING!.

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Hehe- got to love the candids.

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The displays were truly enticing. It was exciting to be feet away from such incredible talent as well.

For example, below is Emporio Rulli with Gary Rulli. The dessert I have posted was one of the greatest desserts I have ever tried. The three of us were drowning in all good things sugar. It was a pistachio creme brulee. I am not a huge creme brulee fan, so I probably would have never ordered this on a menu. However, if when I go to Emporio Rulli, this is a MUST.

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The smoked salmon mousse above was one of my favorite things of the evening. It was tediously intricate the way they made them too- Each one was given the utmost attention. I have never seen an appetizer so doted over!

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One of the strangest tries of the night was foie gras ice cream. I know this is probably not vegetarian, but hey, when you are somewhere like this go big or go home. This was from Hudson Valley Foie Gras. We have tried foie gras in the past and weren’t particularly blown away. However, this foie gras ice cream was surprisingly delicious. If you like salty and sweet combos, this little treat had the pair perfected! Unfortunately, I have no picture of this little nibble!

After we walked rolled home, we slept soundly with dreams of all SanFran food. My recommendations based on the evening:

Everything was absolutely fantastic, but those are just some of our favorites.

The next day my mama and I had some homemade parfaits with dried apple chips out on the balcony. We love sitting out there in the fresh cool morning air and enjoying our hot coffee and reading our Bibles.

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We then did the big walk to the store to pick up some necessities for the day. We stopped by a chinese bakery on the way back and saw the most interesting “sweets”. Chinese dessert is not knowing for being super sweet, but they certainly are creative!

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We jump started the next part of the day with an insanity workout, and I was impressed by this tough little cookie! She killed it. I was so proud. She has been working hard over the last few months to get into shape and it is showing.

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During the day we had one task: Hang up some living room curtains. I saved this task for my mom because I honestly do not have the first clue on how to hang rods, use a drill, etc. My mom is a pro at all this and even makes her own curtains. Well we ran into a little hiccup with where the studs were in the wall. Long story short we had a very frustrating afternoon and could not figure the darn thing out. After covering up the gaping nail holes we decided we needed a break and met DJ for sushi. He studied the entire day in the library and suggested a sushi place he went to with a friend. He claimed it was the best sushi he has ever had (which says a lot considering the sushi in Bora Bora was out of this world). It lived up to the hype. Oh shoot, now I’m craving it again.

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We headed back to the house and decided that we would give the curtains one more go of it. We found a little loop behind the paneling and were able to use canvas wire to hang the pole. We did it! Despite how frustrating the project was, it felt awesome to conquer it.

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We topped off the night with a visit to Cupervino. Cupervino is located super close to our apartment and I have wanted to give it a go ever since we moved here. The atmosphere is fantastic. We decided to split a wine flight and a glass. The pours were supposed to be three-oz. flights. I am doubtful that this was accurate. These were full on glasses.

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In the morning we headed to church. Gosh, I was so ecstatic for my mom to meet all the new incredible friends of ours and experience the most authentic worship. She loved it!

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After church we went to Santana Row while DJ went to study land 🙁 He is doing so well, but never stops studying.

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We walked around the row and stopped by a cute little band of youngsters playing in the square. It was adorable! They were probably in their early teens and the girl had a beautiful voice.

For brunch we stopped at left bank . The craziest thing was it hit my mom that the last time she was in the area this was the restaurant she went to with a friend. Kind ironic considering just how many restaurants there are in the area!

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We tried the salmon hash with red onions, tomatoes, parsley, yukon gold potatoes, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauced. We paired it with a delectable goat cheese salad. It was THE quintessential brunch.

After walking around Santana Row for a while, we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous day (Oh wait- everyday is gorgeous here?!), and go for a hike. This was the Tony Look trail that opens up into Fremont Older Nature preserve.

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This was one of our favorite parts of the whole weekend. Such great conversation is sparked during hikes, and we had seven miles to just chat. It was so nice to enjoy the views and talk about life.

For dinner we whipped up some green chef meals! Green Chef is just like Blue Apron! We had two meals left from the first package (I made the first meal in my last post 😉 ). It was a blast cooking together and DJ came home just in time to enjoy the meal with us. My mom and I shared the Tuna Burger and DJ had the Steak over orzo. We left out the walnuts and walnut pesto and just used regular pesto because DJ is allergic. I probably should have looked closer at that before ordering it! There have been several times in the past where I have almost accidentally “poisoned” DJ as he calls it. Exhibit A is posted below: I packed a trailmix in his lunch that had walnuts. Big WHOOPS.

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Sadly, my momma had to say goodbye Sunday night. But we were all so thankful for the time we had. It worked out that she was taking a red-eye that Sunday so we had the whole day to enjoy!

I have about a week of additional blogging to do that I will be working on the next couple days! There is a TON of fun stuff that went down while my best friend was in town, so stay tuned!!!! I hope you all had a wonderful and restful labor day weekend.

Wishing you a wonderful week,

xo <3

Mack

The Grand, Grand Canyon!

Finally! This is one of the places that since a little girl I have been dying to experience. DJ did a big trip last summer with his close guy friends to the most famed national parks in the West. I was thankful he had this experience because he navigated the GC like a pro. I would have had no idea where to begin!

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The night before the hike we saw the IMAX that showed in the visitor center. It certainly hyped us up to begin the trek in the morning.

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Trying to put into words the beauty, the awe-inspiring landscape, the majesty of the experience is a daunting task. My preconceived notion about the Canyon was that it would be mostly red, dry, Arizona layered rock. I expected beauty and vastness, but I did not expect the vibrant cascading greenery to claim the mountain sides as home. I did not take into consideration the piercing blue glow the sky would emanate. I did not expect the silence to beckon questions that do not have tangible answers. I did not expect my perspective on life to be shaken by the reality of how truly microscopic I am on this massive planet. It was humbling, but exhilarating. It gave me insight into my Creator. I felt like I had been given the keys to the most mammoth playground on Earth.

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For our hike we took the Bright Angel Trail all the way down to the overlook of the Colorado River. It was astounding how loud the river was from quite a ways up. I can’t imagine how thunderous it would sound if you were actually standing next to it. The whole hike ended up being about thirteen miles round-trip. We started at 6 am from the hotel, had a hearty breakfast, and began the hike around 7 am. We finished up around 2 pm.

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Living on the edge- literally.

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The hike back up was INTENSE. Make sure if you ever do this hike to bring a water bottle (they do have water stations to refill), protein bars, and quick energy. We each packed a protein bar… Well so we thought. Somewhere in the process of transferring the goods from the grocery bag to our bag, my bar got left behind (we won’t place blame.. *cough cough* 😉 ). DJ was sweet to share his with me. We had plenty of other trail mix, dry roasted edamame seeds, and apples. We took respite in the rare spots of shade when we came across them.

If you ever have the opportunity- GO TO THE GRAND CANYON, I beg of you! I haven’t been to the other National Parks out here yet, but you bet your bottom dollar that I will. If you have suggestions about where to visit or any unique things to do/tips to share I would love to hear them.

After the Canyon we began our last stretch to arrive in Cali. Our last few stops included Bakersfield, Big Sur and Highway 1, and then Santa Cruz!

Wishing you a GRAND day,

xo <3

Mack

Reunited and it feels soo GOOD!

Hey guys- Happy Thursday to ya!

This week was certainly one for the books!!! Friday night DJ and I were craving Kula sushi.  DJ, unfortunately, still had some work to do for school, so Kula was an excellent option just close to home. Also, we were going to try something new- but when you have a craving you know nothing else will do! After Kula, we simply relaxed at home/ studied.

This weekend was one of the greatest because I was reunited with one of my best friends sisters. When we were in high school, Annie came to live with us for Junior and Senior year. We were good friends before the move, but then we became super close over those two years. We talked to each other about everything, heck, we even fought like sisters over silly things like who got the frying pan in the morning to make eggs. Our graduation party was naturally combined. Below is one of my favorites of us from that day.

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Then came college and my kindred spirit got up and moved to Cali to attend Berkeley. Now, four years later, we are within an hour driving distance from each other. When I found this out I cried tears of joy. We decided we would take a hike because… hike :). She took us to Lands End. (Not the store- mind you, because that’s where I thought we were going at first). It reminded me a bit of Monterey– particularly the feel of the coolness and the looming splendor of grey skies!

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After catching up and hiking for a while we were on a serious food mission. We had worked up quite the appetite! It was a Saturday and most places were packed out the wah-zoo. Our tummies were not too happy with us. We finally found this Peruvian restaurant and decided to give it a go. We would have ate anything at this point. Our low-blood-sugar conversations were probably terribly entertaining to those passing.

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I feel like I say this all the time, but truly this was one of the greatest meals of my whole life. The meal started with plantain chips which way surpass tortilla chips in my opinion. They came with some kind of lightly spiced cheese sauce. The two of us could not get enough.

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For an appetizer we split Pulpo. This is Spanish Octopus in jalapeño pepper and avocado leche de Tigre. When I tried Spanish Octopus in Marco Island I had pronounced it as one of my all time favorite foods to date. This was prepared differently, but still heavenly. One of our favorite parts were the giant white corn kernels scattered throughout. It was all so light and refreshing after that hike too!

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For dinner we decided to split two super unique dishes. We asked the waiter for suggestions and he said the Plancha Marina was his favorite (pictured right). This included prawns, octopus, calamari, salmon, portobello mushrooms, aji panca, and pisco sauce. It was easily one of the most delicious things I have ever had. The meal included little multicolored green and purple cauliflower type veggies too; not only was the meal amazing devour with the mouth, but also with the eyes! The colors were vibrant and the flavors exploded in concurrence with the inviting display!

Naturally we had to also try the weirdest thing on the menu (pictured left). This is sopa seca. It is squid ink pasta with mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari and vegetable stew in Peruvian aji (a red sauce). I never thought I would say this, but I am a BIG fan of squid ink. Bring on the ink!IMG_9028IMG_8836

We had deemed this night Annie’s birthday weekend, since we couldn’t celebrate it in July. We got all snazzed up and I got to meet some of her friends while hanging out in downtown SanFran. We went back to her house and shared red wine, dark chocolate, and raspberry cheesecake ice cream. Can we really be more predictable for a couple of 20 something girls?! It was a great night!

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In the morning, I woke up at seven to get a run in on the pier. Last weekend I slept in, and when I saw all the runners in the morning I felt like I was missing out. I was not about to let that happen this time! A run on the pier is worth a little sleep deprivation! I shot some pictures while running. It was so peaceful. When I first left the apartment there was no one out. By 8 0’clock people started coming to life.

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The little sea lions are hilarious. DJ and I could just sit there and watch them for hours. IMG_8884IMG_9038IMG_9040IMG_9041

I love getting up early because I feel like I get to share secrets with the morning. The gray fog over the bay is both ominous and calming- I’m not sure how to explain this oxymoron, but if you have never experienced it, you should! Usually in places like this I don’t even put my headphones in to run. I want to soak up the experience with every sense possible.

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Below is the gorgeous view from Annie’s apartment. The other direction you can see the Bay Bridge. At night the skyline is INSANE. It was hard to get a picture to do it any justice. San Francisco has a way of being mostly cloudy until about 11 am, then the sun peaks out. You almost feel like it is going to storm in the mornings, but it rarely ever does!

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After a six mile run on the pier with no caffeine in my body, I was ready to down coffee and food. We tried to go to Mama’s (it’s THE breakfast place in SF), but the line was about two hours long. We finally decided on Cafe DeLucchi. When I picture a good brunch, this is the type of place I picture. The coffee was out of this world, it was truly some of the best coffee I have had from a restaurant. The menu provided a vast array of options for absolutely anyone from the meat and potatoes guy to the adventurous palate.

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I ordered the avocado scramble with egg whites, fontina cheese (gimme), cherry tomatoes, avocado, and scallions with potatoes and toast. I don’t like a ton of cheese in my eggs because it can overpower the other ingredients, but this had just the perfect complimentary amount. On the side I ordered the artichoke hash because a. It sounded so strange and b. It sounded so delicious! It was. MMM mmm mmm.

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Annie had the polenta gorgonzola. This was as yummy to eat as it is to say (I may have had a nibble or two of the polenta 😉 ). The meal included warm polenta, melted gorgonzola, clover honey, thick cut applewood smoked bacon and poached eggs. Needless to say, we left satisfied, energized, and FULL.

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Isn’t she just the cutest?!

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After breakfast we headed over to the Ferry Building. I had never been there but so many people kept saying it was a necessary part of SanFran. If I could imagine a place that would be “my kind of place”, this was it to a T. It consists of tons of little shops, farmer’s market type style grocery places, bakeries, cosmetic stands, why am I listing anything- they have EVERYTHING you could imagine! I could have spent the whole day, maybe a few days just exploring this place. BUT it was time for me to head home, and we kept saying how thankful we are that this wasn’t a “one time”thing. We basically live down the road from one another <3.

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Sunday evening consisted of cleaning and doing laundry. I feel like the house just gets trashed on the weekend running in and out and all over the place, so I enjoy the time to get everything back in place. DJ studied alllll weekend long. I feel bad talking about all these adventures, while the poor boy studies 🙁 He is so supportive though and tells me to enjoy it while I can. I know this time is temporary, and I love that I have his support. I also missed going to church together, but it’s awesome because our Church has podcasts online you can listen to.

Monday it was back to school. DJ was cold-called in class for the first time and handled it like a champ. You go, hubbs. (Cold calling is when the professor just randomly calls on students and asks them a series of questions about the assigned case).

In the midst of Deej pursuing a rigorous degree, I decided to try my hand at a little snack I have had in the back of my mind.

Za’atar Zucchini Fries!

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You know the people who spend forever deciding between two ingredients in the grocery store? That’s me. But then, ironically, I also have this weird side where if I see something different or exotic, I MUST try it and grab it right off the shelf impulsively. So, I have had Za’atar sitting in my cabinet for the last half year. I decided to try it on some zucchini fries.

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I placed them with hummus and the flavor was fantastic! I couldn’t quite get them to crisp up, but maybe when I get the science down I will post a recipe for them.

For dinner I had some veggies that I wanted to use  along with some curry sauce. I threw it all together in a sauce pan with a little coconut milk, chobani plain greek yogurt, the Rogan Josh curry sauce, cottage cheese (to add a paneer-like feel), and shrimp (always shrimp).

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I had this little power spice blend leftover from a sampling from a runner box. Have you guys ever tried runner box? it’s a worthy investment- it basically provides all types of snacks, discount cards, energy drink powder, etc. and is delivered in the cutest box. It makes a great gift idea for anyone you know that is a runner too! Anyways, I threw in the blend because I felt like it would compliment the Indian spices well.

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I added some baked pita and dinner was ready to go! I will admit, the meal certainly needed a bit of salt, but once we added some salt it was pretty delish. The added spices were a perfect addition!

Tuesday I was busy working on the projects I have had for the week all day: Fixing lamps that were loose, hanging pictures, doing a big grocery run to restock the fridge, calling the state board (we are pals at this point), and sewing back on a button that fell off DJ’s shirt. I love to sew, but more than anything I love doing those little things for him. I’m not sure how I got so lucky to have him as my husband, but I relish every second of it.

Update with the state board: I should be approved to test in about two weeks- fingers crossed!!!! I won’t actually take the test in two weeks even if I do get approved, but you bet I will be buckling down with the studying!

At the store, some plantains caught my eye. I decided to try and reinvent some plantain chips like we had the other night. I dehydrated them along with some cinnamon apple chips in my dehydrator. I bought a super cheap one for I think $30 bucks at Walmart and it has lasted for years.

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The plantain chips are actually super good dipped in peanut butter. The cinnamon apple chips turned out addictingly good.

For dinner Wednesday night I tried Green Chef! Once again we had a coupon for the first time offer, and I knew with getting ready for company (more to come on that), we would be pretty busy. This was the perfect time to have these easy gourmet meals delivered! This company is basically the same as Blue Apron, just with different meal options and the claim to being organic. The meal made tonight was wonderful. I’m salivating again just thinking about it! It was apricot glazed chicken with rosemary fingerling potatoes (it’s a great day when you can eat a purple potato!) and arugula salad. I didn’t have the chicken but paired the arugula and potatoes with some leftover Indian from above. Everything I tasted was great, and DJ loved it. It’s the least I can do to provide the guy a good meal when he is working so hard. 

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Now for my super exciting update: The household project of the week! It may look easy to hang these pictures, but let me be very clear, it is not! DJ has a hawk-like detail-oriented eye, and he helped immensely with the measuring and hanging of the pictures. I tend to have a prideful spirit and do not like asking for help, but I truly could not have done it without him. It was awesome conquering this task together. It was also humbling seeing what just putting down my pride can do too!

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Over the next couple weeks my mom, best friend, and sister- in-law will all be in town! WOOHOOO. Friday, my mom, DJ, and I are heading to Eat/Drink San Francisco to sample food and drinks from all over the Bay area! As I told some of you, I am sure we will have plenty of suggestions for food stops to try if you come here- so stay tuned. I’m excited for DJ to have a full night off considering the last few nights have been study days late into the night and early wake-up calls. Have a wonderful rest of your week and weekend!

Wishing you a purple potato,

xo <3

Mack

A Prison, a Criminal, and a Lawyer

Friday, Friday, Friday! Woohoo! Well this past week just flew, didn’t it?! I have some interesting anecdotes to share from this past week, for sure! Also-sorry for the massive overload of recipes posted. I have had them sitting in drafts for a while and figured I should probably just post them already!

Real quick, last Thursday night I whipped up Blue Apron’s Curried Cod with coconut rice. You need this in your life. I promise. I talk about how Blue Apron works here, if you are curious 🙂

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Last Friday we went to the Orioles vs. Giants game with our family. Ya’ll know how we love our Orioles. However, I still jump during the National Anthem when everyone screams, “O’s”. Even after four games this summer I somehow forget that’s the thing to do! It always makes me leap like five inches off the ground. Anyone who has been to an Orioles game knows what I’m talking about. We went to AT&T park with our family, and this baseball park is easily one of the best in the country. I still prefer Camden Yards for it’s retro, 100% your at a cracker-jack-and-peanuts baseball game feel, but this is a close second! It overlooks the bay and you can actually watch boats come in and out of the pier.

 

Our dad (DJs side ) got us all baseball caps for the game (Not sure why I’m not wearing it in the picture above?!). But I LOVE baseball caps, and now have a new favorite! I think I have more “bad hair days” than the average person, so a new baseball cap is  a big deal. Plus it represents our team! The Orioles won, just so everyone is clear. Also, walking around San Francisco at night is quite beautiful. The place is always poppin’ and the Bay Bridge was absolutely gorgeous.

DJ and I shared a wonderful breakfast at the hotel before heading out for the day. I have seen smoked salmon and a bagel on many breakfast menus, but usually salmon for first thing in the morning sounds off. That day I was feeling up for trying it, and it was monumentally delicious. The concept is pretty simple too, and I might need to get some ingredients to have this at home sometime. It is paired with dill cream cheese, red onion, fennel greens, and capers. I think DJ probably got annoyed by me saying with every mouth-full, *muffled* “Oh muh gushhhhhhh, its suh guuuuuuuuud”.

IMG_8423We then headed out to *dun dun dun*- Alcatraz!!! I have been so excited for weeks since we planned this trip to go here and it surpassed my expectations! If you are planning a trip to San Francisco, this is worth your time. We took a ferry over, and the views and weather were perfection. We could not have asked for a better day, especially because the temperature tends to drop drastically when you are right on the water. A light jacket did the trick!

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We opted to do the audio tour, which is the best way to explore Alcatraz. It takes you on a journey using some of the real voices of previous inmates, guards, and workers. I don’t want to give much away because you have to go for yourself.

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** Side note: DJ always makes fun of my hands in pictures because he says it looks like I have a claw or some alien signal, lol.

Before we left for the day we did one of those bicycle carts. It was exhilarating whipping through the city on those!!!!!! Nothing beats a weekend with family. Those two days packed in memories I will always treasure <3!

Saturday night consisted of unpacking, cleaning the house up a bit, and DJ studying away. It is so strange having completely reversed roles. Last year I was studying non.stop. every single day, and DJ was in more of a “transition” year. Now he is the one studying his tush off. However, as soon as I get that approval to test for my nursing boards I am going to crack down! Then we can just be a couple of study bugs together.

IMG_7931Sunday morning we went to Church and it was awesome, cause really, would it be anything else?! I wear workout clothes to run errands and do everything around the house about 95% of the time, so before I changed into said comfy garb, I had DJ snap a shot to prove that I do wear normal people’s clothes for about two hours each Sunday!IMG_8473

For dinner, we had some leftover coconut rice and so I grilled up a whole bunch of shrimp in BBQ seasoning and some pineapple to throw on top!IMG_8474

Monday- Oh, Monday. This day was eventful! It was DJ’s first official day of law school, and I had a hair appointment. The contrast is striking.

I have been trying to get my color back to a more natural state and believe me, up close it was evident I needed to get something done. The roots were pretty bad! We were in one of those salons where each room is separate and owned by one or two hair stylists, but it all makes up one giant salon. Typically on Mondays salons are closed. The hairdresser took me because she was going away for the weekend and wanted to get another customer in. The salon was very quiet. However, as we were letting the color dry, a hairstylist came running from the other side of the salon screaming bloody murder. It was absolute pandemonium. She was running all over the place screaming, “He took it, he took everything!” through hysterical tears. Well apparently, she had just went to the bank, went to her salon, placed her purse on a chair, and used the restroom. When she came out it was gone. She remembered a man following her in, but assumed it was a maintenance worker since they do maintenance on Mondays when the salon is closed. The poor thing, I felt awful. We couldn’t locate him or the purse anywhere around the salon. My heart was definitely pounding. We called the police and they came along with her sons to help console her. Anyways, the hair turned out good (That sounds so absurd to mention on the heels of this horrible situation!). I am also 22 and still have no grip on curling my hair, so I was pumped that I got to rock it curled for the rest of the day.

For dinner, I made our last Blue Apron meal of the package. This one was summer vegetable and quinoa bowls. The flavor was just bursting. I learned so many different ingredients to cook with through Blue Apron, and I definitely would love to try it again at some point in the future!

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The next day for lunch I put some leftover on a salad.

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On Tuesday, I had one of those “I need extra coffee” mornings.

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I worked on several projects, and then made a meal I have had posted on the fridge since we came here. For a wedding gift, we received a subscription to Fine Cooking Magazine. This is a fantastic and unique idea for anyone who needs a gift for a couple that likes to cook! I try to clip recipes from there and put them on the fridge to try one when we are planning our meals for the week. It has been so much fun.

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This recipe was a sweet and spicy shrimp stir fry with a raisin glaze. It was like nothing I have ever made and it was INSANELY GOOD. However, I may have made it a tad too spicy. That’s saying a lot because usually the spicier the better for us. I will be making it again, but with fewer jalapeños. IMG_8621IMG_8618

Anyone else get annoyed when there are always those one or two last bananas that go bad? Well I hate waste; you would think our mom raised us during the depression. I decided to make three ingredients banana oatmeal raisin cookies. I can post a recipe for them soon! They aren’t the greatest cookies of your life, but they are a great snack with all natural sugars and just enough sweetness to help with a sweet tooth. And they are only 46 calories each, which is pretty good for anything with the name “cookie”. A few are great in the morning with coffee too!

On Wednesday I prayed that it would be better than the one before. AND IT WAS! Guess who conquered the book shelf?! This girl! Uh-huh, that’s right!!!

For dinner, I jumped right on that Zoodle train. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to make these because they are incredibly easy and tasty!!! I wanted to make an alfredo sauce from scratch and also a vegetarian version, but was running late,  like really late, so I threw in a can of Progresso Alfredo Chicken! I added some shredded chicken, garlic, daiya mozzarella, and a bit of tapioca starch and BAM- zucchini alfredo. DJ loved it. He couldn’t believe that it was actually healthy. I scrounged up some quick leftovers for myself since I was running so behind.

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What was I late for? Wednesday night is when our community group meets in Santa Clara. DJ, unfortunately, had to stay home. Law school is no joke, folks. He was feeling pretty overwhelmed at the beginning of the week, but I think is feeling better now. Figuring out exactly what to do, how to study, and what the professor wants is half the battle. He has the second half down (dedication and will), and I have no doubts that he will succeed!!

Here are a couple of projects that I finished up this week!

A. Guest Bedroom!

B. Our balcony!

Most everything is from Homegoods or Overstock.com.Woohoo! Start booking your tickets to come stay with us! **The balcony is attached to the guest room 😉
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On Thursday, DJ has his long day at school. I have my hiking group, and have to leave close to, or before, he comes home. I did make sure that there was some dinner for him in the fridge. I made salmon from Monterey Bay with a Hawaiian protein rice blend,and steamed broccoli. I love seasoning the skin on salmon so it crisps up when you bake it.

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The views on this hike were absolutely incredible. I love the bonds I am forming with these friends. They are amazing people. We also had a little (meaning a large and furry) friend join us! I have never seen a spider that massive in the states before. Hello, California!

After the hike my friend and I stopped in to a nitrogen ice cream place in Cupertino. They actually make ice cream out of nitrogen gas. Watching the process is quite entertaining. My phone was about to die so I couldn’t grab many pictures- guess I’ll have to go back 😉 The ice cream was sooo scrumptious! We split the Matcha and Salted Caramel. The flavor was vibrant, and yet the texture was incredibly light. It just melted right in your mouth, but was still creamy. We called it confusing, but confusingly delicious!

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One last thing I want to share is our new method for prayer. Our dresser was brought in on this giant wooden plank. It sent my creative alarms off, and I didn’t want to get rid of it. I told DJ I would figure out something to do with it and he kinda smirked like, “Oh no, what now?!”. DJ is a trooper to always roll with my makeshift ideas. For example, I made a jewelry holder four years ago out of a cooking pan, and refuse to use anything else. With this plank of wood, I have decided to create a prayer board. With white marker I write a prayer request, and then when it is answered, white it out. Our goal is to have the whole board changed to white to show how awesome God is in answering our prayers. I don’t expect this to be a quick thing, it could take years and years, and honestly it may never be completely white. God doesn’t always answer prayers in our time, but I have no doubt that He is faithful and we should pray expectantly. If you have a request, let me know, I can put it on for you!

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This morning I found out one of my my best friends, Rachel, passed her Child Life specialty exam. GO RACH!!!!!! So proud of you!

Tonight DJ and I are finally going to have a relaxing evening together, it’s his deemed “night off” of studying. We are going to try a new restaurant, but not quite sure where yet! Tomorrow I head to SanFran again to visit a friend from high school. (I don’t think I told you that, Mom- But Annie lives here!).

Wishing you an answer to prayer this week,

xo <3

Mack

Whirlwind of a Week

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

Thursday 8/4:

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

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Friday:

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

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Saturday:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you lots of stable furniture,

xo <3

Mack