There’s No Place Like Home: Part Two

Here we goooo, Part Dos! This one is a bit shorter, gotta give y’all some breathing room, hehe.

We left off the night of Monday the 2nd. In the morning of Tuesday the 3rd I met my friend Rachel at First Watch– my all time FAVORITE breakfast spot. It’s something we don’t have here in the West, so I was salivating as I walked through the door.

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And I guess you can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take the California out of the girl…. naturally I went for their avocado toast. (I also love their coffee). My other favorites here are their tri-athlete and their massive pancakes!

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Rach ordered their famous pesto chicken quinoa bowl with protein-packed quinoa mixed with kale, shredded carrots and house-roasted tomatoes topped with grilled all-natural lemon chicken breast, basil pesto sauce, feta crumbles and fresh herbs.

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After breakfast, I snuck in a workout at the local gym then decided to go to Earth Fare- my main reason for coming home (jk jk … kinda)…. My last meal would include the taters from Burntwood and tofu nuggets from EarthFare. This is one of the food items I miss the absolute most and a must when I go home.

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They didn’t have them in the main display and I started to panic. I asked the lady if she had any and she said none were made but she would be happy to whip some up. It was so kind, and I was willing to wait the extra twenty minutes to get some nuggs.

img_7274img_7275I grabbed some big salads for me and Clair before going to her childhood home to visit her mom and sister.

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This is a picture of their gorgeous backyard. Countless of my own memories growing up were held here too.

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For dinner I met with another close friend from high school, Kylie, at Pub Bricco. I hadn’t been here in forever, and forgot how doggone delicious their food was.

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Kylie had their salmon sandwich and I tried a bite- heaven. Anything with sun-dried tomatoes is pure gold.

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I savored every single bite of their veggie burger with tzatziki sauce.

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We talked, barely stopping to take a breath for almost three hours, and yet it never seems like enough time! We have been sending cards back and forth this past year though which has been such a great way to stay in touch. Who doesn’t love still getting snail mail nowadays?!

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In the morning of the fourth I woke up super early and headed to Lakeside, OH to join DJ’s family for a day on the lake!

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This place is very dear to DJ and I. DJ grew up here in the summers and this was actually where he told me he loved me for the first time (fun facts all around). When you are here it feels like all is right in the world.

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The girls! (Although we missed Amy- DJ’s twin).

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A ceremony was held to dedicate the Park to DJ’s Grandma and Grandpa- it was a beautiful and wonderful ceremony. Truly an unforgettable day. Love this family and honored to call myself part of it <3

After the ceremony I zoomed back to Cleveland to return the rental car. I was stuck in some serious bouts of rain- I do NOT miss that!!! Rain rain go away, come back when I am on my plane….. back to CA.. where there is a whole lot less precipitation.

BUT fighting the H2O was so worth it because I was able to attend my family’s fourth of July barbecue! My brother and his amazing wife Maura picked me up from the rental place and we drove to my cousin’s home for the evening.

I seriously hope I am half the parents they are!

This is Baby Kate- can’t handle her cuteness. Our little all American girl!

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And this is Jack- my nephew who literally melts my heart and soul every time he says, “Aunt Kenzie”.

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Kate loooved my sunnies.

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And my shoes! She got into those on her own. We just turned around and she was standing there in them with a big smile on her face. It was so stinking cute.

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Time for sparklers!!!

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BE STILL MY SOUL. This face <3

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Jack loved the sparklers and really loved the pop-its! Fearless little man.

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After an incredible family day, I tried to catch some serious snoozes before having to get up at 4 am for my flight (which would be 1 am Pacific time). Eek! I was surprisingly hungry when I got to the airport, so I found a yummy chia seed pudding with berries and nuts and had a coffee before boarding.

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And now that brings us back to good ole’ Northern Cali. Thanks for letting me share my home with you all- such a special place with such special people. Where is your home home?

xo <3

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Majestic Monterey, CA!

This past week has been a hodge-podge of different events! We spent most of the weekend keeping it low-key. We had a few things on the agenda to knock out to get ready for law school and more house stuff. I am so excited for the house to get finished up so I can share some pictures with you all 🙂

One of the weekend nights we went to Lyfe Kitchen in Downtown Cupertino. We love this eatery. It has all organic, fresh ingredients and it’s great for vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters alike. They even have fresh herbs growing right in the lobby.

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Main Street Cupertino is a happenin’ place. There are so many new places going up all the time. I can’t wait for Oren’s Hummus Shop to open!

I had been feeling lethargic for a couple days over the weekend. I think the move is finally catching up with me! The adrenaline rush has been helping with the continual discovering, running around, and exploring, but my body wanted a down-day. After having a nice, relaxing weekend, I had an awesome insanity workout with Shaun T. Anyone else do insanity out there? I love it! I have been doing it for six years now.I went through the full schedule twice, but now I just do my favorites about two or three times a week in between running or elliptical days. I can tell when my body has running fatigue, and that’s when I wake it up with an insanity interval!

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Procrastinating with Harry Potter Snapchat filter

One of the nights we felt so lazy we didn’t even want to order takeout. I was determined to find something in our cupboard to whip up. Welp, ya’ll, I’m pretty proud of this one (this was made with all ingredients that traveled all the way from Indiana with us).

Thai Coconut Tofu Bombay soup: Made with extra firm tofu, Amy’s Thai Coconut Soup, and bombay spice chickpeas. I also added a little red curry powder, cayenne, and chili powder for some extra spice and dazzle! DJ LOVED it. I took a picture of his starkly white empty bowl below once he gobbled it all up;).

We haven’t done a ton of grocery shopping since we have been so on-the-go, but we did take a nice walk to our favorite grocery store, Sprouts, to get some essentials. It’s about a mile and a half away, but with this weather, why not walk to the store! We forgot our bags, once again, and had to to the walk of shame with our brown purchased ones.

IMG_7643Something I absolutely cannot keep to myself is this rug that came in the mail. *INSERT HEART-EYES EMOJI*. Most of our apartment is neutral tones, but I couldn’t help add a little pizzazz on our balcony. People that know me know I have always been fascinated with India and Indian culture. This pattern just drew me in and reminded me of the beautiful, bright patterns and colors I witnessed in Chennai and Madurai. Oh, how I miss it. The good news is there is a boundless amount of authentic Indian cuisine spots to choose from within a three mile radius of our apartment. There is also an Indian grocery store. I cannot wait to try cooking Indian food with all the authentic ingredients. I’ll let you all know how that goes! IMG_7717

Now comes the highlight of our week. Our anniversary is August 8th, but that is right around the date DJ begins orientation for law school. In order to avoid weekend traffic we decided to celebrate our anniversary yesterday (Wednesday).

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He knows me well!

We went to Monterey, California for dinner and to stay the night in the most darling little Inn. It is about an hour and a half drive, but we were stuck in some serious traffic making it about a two hour drive. Let me tell ya, I was starvin’ marvin’. THE HANGER WAS REAL. Here is the progression of my snapchat photos to prove it. Gotta’ love the crazy filters.

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The downtown area of Monterey was a typical tourist trap; the type of place I always have sensory-overload-excitement attacks. I loved soaking in the unique shops and window shopping as we drove through the pier.

IMG_7786All we wanted was some phenomenal seafood for our anniversary dinner. What better place to go than this?! DJ booked us a reservation at the Chart House restaurant which overlooks the whimsical bay. We had a blast watching little otters play while we ate. I had a good view across the table from me as well 😉

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For an appetizer we tried the Ssamjang Shrimp (not sure how to pronounce the double “s” there- I just used the point method for that one). This included grilled shrimp with cajun spices, asian and indian dipping sauces, herb-marinated cucumber, red onion and heirloom tomato salad. The diverse flavors made this appetizer come to life. We savored every.single.nibble.

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For dinner we both decided to try Swordfish. We have never had it, but man, was it tasty. DJ had simply grilled with avocado, jalapeño, tomato, cilantro, and lime. I ordered the citrus ginger spiced swordfish with passion fruit sauce, hearts of palm salad, and a tropical fruit salsa. Swordfish resembles chicken pretty closely! It is a thick fish compared to most, and absolutely fantastic.

What is that amazing creation in the middle you ask? Creamed spinach, of course! Ya’ll know our obsession. If a place has it, we are guaranteed to try it. This made it on our “favorites list”. My all-time favorite still to-date is Ben and Jack’s creamed spinach in New York. I also weirdly put the spinach on my rolls to eat it. It was made to go on bread, trust me. I make sure we have plenty of the carby morsels before dinner arrives, or ask for another basket!IMG_7787IMG_7794

After the meal was over, we decided to forgo dessert (although they did look pretty dang good). The ONLY reason we passed it up was because we decided splitting some Ben and Jerry’s half baked froyo in our room sounded too good to pass up. The waitress still brought out a Mississippi mudpie for our anniversary. It was too sweet! The service and foot at Chart house is phenomenal. I highly recommend it to anyone.

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This was jus’ something else. I have never tried Mississippi mudpie before, but it had a coffee flavor to it that I couldn’t resist. But don’t worry we still got our Ben and Jerry’s Froyo!

The views from the Tickle Pink Inn, where we stayed the night, were nothing short of magical. When we arrived in Monterey, there was a dark, somber gray over the water. It was so different than the last four weeks of sunshine we have been experiencing, but a pleasant change. I love gray skies. I think there is something enchanting about the green of foliage surrounded by the deep, billowy clouds. The views around us were simply majestic. I felt as though I was in a storybook.

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The inn greeted us with a lovely bottle of Champagne and a box of chocolates. It’s like they knew I was coming or something 😉 There were also two spoons placed in clear view near our complimentary coffee station; serendipitous considering we needed two spoons for our froyo??! I think so!

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This Inn was the definition of quaint. It was the most perfect place to celebrate an anniversary. (Great choice, Deej!) In the morning we had breakfast while overlooking the somber, peaceful waters.

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Greek yogurt on whole wheat toast with granola and blueberries and a fantastic view

The next week brings DJ’s orientation for law school, me finally doing a full grocery trip and getting back to cooking and studying for the NCLEX.

Wishing you lots of magical moments,

xo <3

Mack

Let’s take it from the top

Beginning a blog is hard. I am not truly sure where to begin! So… let’s take it way back. DJ and I began dating the summer of my freshman year of high school and summer of his sophomore year. We became exclusive January 2010. Maybe one day I will blog about our journey. I believe with my whole heart that God led us to each other. Anyways, we finally got hitched last August (2015). We are coming up on one year and I reflect remembering the absolute best memories of my life. I am bursting with a thankful heart for this man and this first year. When DJ graduated from college I still had one year left to receive my nursing degree. He graciously stayed in a little town in Indiana with me while I received my BSN. He decided during that time that he would like to pursue law school. I do not remember specifically coming to the actual decision that “Yes- we are moving to California”. I think it was more of a general consensus that we both were down with taking on a new challenge, a new place, and a new life. This is full on cheese, but I sincerely feel I can face anything if I have him by my side. So here we are. Yes- it is new, crazy, foreign, and it is FUN. In a week of being here I have learned a ton. For example:

  •  In California (or at least the Bay area), you are green whether you wanna be or not. Good thing I am a recycling junkie. At stores they will charge you for bags, so you best bring your own. The first time we were at a cash register, and I realized everyone had bags but us, I said, “Oh no Hun, we forgot our bags again” to DJ. I think the cashier bought that, yes, we just simply forgot our bags, although we did not own a single one- and I think I’m a comedian. Also ALL bags are paper. But I’m cool wittt it.We did do a Bucca di Beppo order out and about fell on the floor when we received a plastic bag. No worries though: WE FINALLY HAVE BAGS! 
  • U-turns galore. Do not turn right on red before checking if someone is making a U-ey. Yep- we learned that from experience. By experience I mean headlights in your eyeballs type close calls. But we are alive and well and never actually got in a crash… yet.
  • Don’t drive from the hours of 8:00 am to 10:00 am. Or from 3:00 to 6:30 pm on the highways. You will regret it.
  • Want to start a company? Come to the promise land of start-ups. I am constantly thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?”- There is a great deal of diversity, and I love it. I am always fascinated by other cultures and have a desire to explore the unique aspects of each. People in the area are generally so friendly and courteous- even if you can’t understand what the other is saying. At least I think they are being friendly..
  •  In our area in Cupertino everyone is genius. Nope, I am not exaggerating. Everyone even sounds smart. You know what I mean? Like using the hardest SAT vocab words in everyday lingo. <— Note the fragment- I do not fit in. You just get this vibe that everyone is, I don’t know, about to do a Rubik’s cube with their eyes closed or on the brink of curing cancer. I walked by an apartment and I think a three-year-old was multiplying triple digits out loud. And here I am,  just trying to figure out how to assemble our TV console.*EYE ROLL*. Time to bring out my word of the day calendar.
    – Potatoes aren’t a thing here apparently?! For example- one night went to a vietnamese restaurant in Mountain View (which was AMAZING), and the waitress said the reason the peppercorn beef was her favorite dish was because of potatoes. We laughed so hard- that is such a midwest staple that the thought of it “making” the dish blew our minds.
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image**SIDE NOTE: If you have never had Vietnamese food, you need to. We went to a place called Xanh that we found on zomato. We ordered calamari, that peppercorn beef (WITH POTATOES!) for da hubs, and shrimp rolls for myself. Also a side of garlic noodles which I am convinced were shipped down from heaven. Good Lord, was it tasty. I should have taken pictures, but I was too darn hungry to think of that.

This is a few of the things I have experienced in my week and a half of living in Cupertino, CA. I love it. I have told DJ I have never been happier, more excited, or more elated about a stage of life and I mean it. Well, I better get back to that TV Console for now.

Wishing you lots of love, joy, and coffee.
<3 xo
Mack