A Sun Basket Review & A Fox Dog!

Hey hey heyyyy!! How’s it kicking?

First things first- sometimes I feel slightly unsettled posting some superficial, light hearted posts when such tragic events are occurring all over our world, ya know? Especially right now with all the events that occurred in Charlottesville, the flooding and the storm in Texas, things in Syria, etc. etc……it’s just heart wrenching. Unfathomable. I know there are always tragic happenings; it’s inevitable. But my heart just breaks at it all, and I feel almost silly taking pictures of food and being so grossly removed from it all. I was talking with a friend about it and they made a good point that if we never took time to celebrate the little things in life and only focused on the bad, what type of existence would that be? It’s true. It’s important to acknowledge, be aware, and help however and wherever we can in this broken world. But it’s ok to also take time and celebrate beauty. The good, the bad, the terrible, the beautiful, the painful, the uplifting, the fun, the heart wrenching, the hilarity, the ugly, the superficial, the deep, and even the mundane makes up all things we call life, and it should all be acknowledged. Blogging is such a great escape for ourselves to write, to celebrate with others the beauty in their lives, and to  encourage one another too. <3 If other bloggers have ever felt similarly or have any thoughts please share them with me. <3

I have a few fun happenings that have occurred over the past month or so, but with the traveling to Texas, and work in between, I haven’t done a recap! This post is incredibly saturated with edible items- just FYI. Sending all ya’ll fair warnings if you get the tummy grumbles easy-I highly encourage you grab a snack now! Nurse’s orders.

On Wednesday, August 9th, One of DJ’s best friends from growing up, Grant, (also best man in our wedding) and his girlfriend came to California for work, and we had a nice dinner at the Counter one night. This is easily one of DJ and I’s favorites since we discovered it in NYC. You see this list below? You literally build your own burger with whatever protein/bun/cheese/sauces/toppings/etc., and the options are endless. It’s both a foodie dream, but an indecisive foodie’s nightmare. But the dream trumps the nightmare, I promise 😉

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I usually make a vegan veggie burger with a multigrain or ciabatta bun with nearly all the veggies, smoked gouda cheese, and coleslaw with a side of sweet potato fries. This day was scorching hot, so I was fancying salad and put it over greens with a side of balsamic vinaigrette.

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The next day, I had to work, but DJ gave them the grand tour of the area and took them up Mt. Hamilton for the gorgeous views.

Now, I am not proud of this, but I am a hard core fan of the show Vanderpump Rules on Bravo. One of the cast members, Stassi, has a podcast and her show had a promo code for Sun Basket. I decided to give it a try and it was a great decision!

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It comes with an actual little cookbook instead of individual sheets like Blue Apron or Green Chef. It keeps it all condensed in one place, so that’s pretty nice! Plus you get recipes even for the boxes you may not have bought (the entire summer series is in one cookbook).

Quality: In terms of the produce, it is non-GMO, organic, and healthy. However, because of it’s organic nature, the ingredients started going bad within a couple days. I had to make sure to make all the meals right away. But it was all immensely flavorful and fresh.

The first meal we made was the New Orleans style Shrimp Creole. I gobbled this one right up! I think it was my favorite of the three.

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Quantity: In terms of quantity, the servings were fantastic. Since these delivery systems aren’t exactly cheap, you want to make sure to get enough for leftovers if possible. This did not skimp of quantity and we all know leftovers can sometimes be ever more delicious than the first go around.

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The second meal we made were the steak tacos with zucchini-scallion salsa and lime-yogurt. This was DJ’s favorite. I obviously didn’t have the tacos, but I loved the zucchini-scallion salsa!

Health: By health standards, these are winners. All the meals are approved by a nutritionist that works for the company, and the emphasis is on spices, dynamic flavor pairing, and enhancement of natural flavors without adding sugars and added fats.

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And last, but certainly not least, we had the penne with moroccan spiced chickpeas and tomatoes. I liked this more than DJ, but I love love love the blend of cinnamon, cardamom, and garlic together.

Speed: These meals were easily the quickest to make of any that I have tried from Blue Apron to Green Chef to Hello Fresh. I was in and out of the kitchen within about twenty minutes with these ones. I was shocked at how little effort was put forth to get a healthy, scrumptious, and satisfying meal.

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Overall impression: 8/10. I will certainly be trying Sun Basket again! The only real con was the fact that the vegetables need to be used almost immediately upon arrival. Besides that I was super impressed with the service. Blue Apron meals are heartier and have more of a “comfort meal” factor, but they aren’t quite as health focused.

Anyone else use it and want to give their experience?!

Now fast forward past the Texas trip….vrrrroooooommmmm.

On August 21st, DJ and I both had the day off! We went to Stein’s, the new restaurant near our apartment. It’s one of those places that I crave. It’s ridiculously yumm.img_0778-1

I ordered the quinoa & butternut squash salad with napa cabbage / jicama / cilantro / avocado relish / pumpkin seeds / chili lime vinaigrette. I was craving something crunchy, cold, light, and sweet! It hit the spot!

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DJ tried their cornmeal battered cage-free Petaluma fried chicken with slaw and three sauces: The Green Goblin, Wings of Fire, and Sweet Samui. They have a long list of options to choose from with sauces.

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August 22nd, my good friend Sara came by to celebrate her getting a job! Woohoo! We watched the show The Sinner, with Jessica Biel (a psychological thriller- gripping as can be!), and nommed on tons of snacks while playing with the cutest little puppy in the whole world. She was dog sitting and brought this little Foxy lady over.

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Naturally had to whip up a batch of the cookies too 😉

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One Wednesday, August 23rd, I spent the morning lounging for the first time in a while. It was so nice to unwind and take a few deep breaths. I had the house clean, the laundry done, and the groceries stocked for the rest of the week.

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In the afternoon, I went on a hike with DJ’s stepmom! It was much needed chit-chat time. We went to San Antonio Nature Preserve and hiked about seven miles. Quick insane story though- remember last year when I had that scare with the mountain lion (probably a bob cat?). Well, when we were hiking up that same trail, a man came down running past us and told us there had been a mountain lion attack near the top of the hill on the trail (a poor little deer). The unnerving thing was it was in the exact.same.spot I had heard the snarl. I had a hard time sleeping that night- it just didn’t sit well with me. I had convinced myself that it was a bobcat all this time, but the truth is it very well may have been a mountain lion that I had heard.

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After braving the hike (on a different path, of course) and seeing tons of wildlife from deer to turkeys and colorful birds, we went back to our apartment and fueled back up with avocado smoothies, protein cookies, and tons of laughs. Since I was heading back to work the next day, this really helped get me into better spirits and calmed my nerves a great deal.

I worked on the 24th and 25th. BUT- we had a pizza party because we beat our unit record of no patient falls on the unit! WOOHOOOOO!!!!!!!

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Also, a coworker brought in fresh figs. I’ve never had figs before, but I think I have a new addiction. They are so delicious and sweet. If you haven’t tried them- doooo ittttt! SO TASTY!

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DJ has been extra busy with his job lately, and is currently running the marketing department (GO DEEJ!). I’m so proud of him; he’s working ridiculously hard right now. We don’t see each other much, but hopefully when the season settles down we will more!

On Saturday, August 26th, I could barely bring myself out of bed. That’s when I decided to get my creative juices flowing and made the running post. I also caught up a bit on blogging, went for a nice long run, and watched movies (yep, can you believe it?!). Usually after a couple days in a row of working, I need a day with near zero human interaction. It’s hard to be “on” and at the whim of four human beings for nearly 24 hours straight (with about 9 hours in between shifts). I know hospitals aren’t hotels, but I really do think patients think they are sometimes, lol. I feel like I play waitress/maid/person jus’ tryna’ keep you alive all at the same time. (Hmmm, sounds like motherhood? I think I am getting a little taste, haha). I don’t mind though- I really do love my patients. Even the extra-needy ones 😉 But on that first day off, even DJ knows to just not say a word to me.

Sunday, August 27th,  I accidentally overslept through church, but watched Case for Christ on Amazon! SO GOOD! I squeezed in an excellent insanity workout, went to get my bridesmaid dress fitted from David’s bridal, did some groceries, and had a hankerin’ for MOD Pizza for dinner. It was a much more productive day than Saturday, and kept my mind preoccupied for the next couple days of work. (If I sit around, I really tend to work myself up about it).

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On this past Monday and Tuesday, I was assigned to NCOR (neuro close observation room). I always get super-extra nervous when I’m in that room because it’s the sickest patients on the floor that require 24-hour, eyes on, observation. The first day left me sobbing in the bathroom, but the second day was much better, and I walked away feeling elated. ‘Tis nursing.

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I now am resting up a bit before working this weekend, and have a couple fun things planned these next couple days before heading back (I’ll recap in the next post).

Who’s ready for fall?!?!!?

Blog Birthdays:

Happy Happy Happy Happy Birthday to my girl, JJ, from Sitbackandjustlive on August 24th! Girl- I am SO thankful for you. You speak such encouragement and love into my life and sooo many others! You inspire everyone with your zest for life, and thank goodness for all your makeup tips & vicarious Boston adventures! LOVE YOU,  beautiful!!! Hope FL is treating you, real well. XOXO

xo <3

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Halloween Festivities and a little bit of everything else

Long time, no see!!! I have been so busy studying the last couple weeks that I haven’t been able to do a recap post. I am finally snagging a couple minutes now to draft something out before bed. And you may just get the rough draft because I don’t think I have time to edit- so in advance I apologize for the misspellings, the grammatical errors, run-ons, and fragments.

First things first per usual: Thank you to everyone for those sweet, sweet thoughts and words on my last post. As I told many I didn’t want to write it (or at least parts of it), but I knew I needed to. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning with all those words on my heart, and knew that I needed to share ultimately to bring glory to God for what He has done. Thank you again for everyone who shared your own thoughts, experiences, and encouragement.

Also thank you to Shawna  for her nomination for the Black Cat Blue Sea Award. I loved reading your responses, hun! I wish I could take the time to respond, but time is thin lately! However, if you guys get a chance, check out this wonderful girl’s place on the web <3

ANDDDDD Guess what?! I finally took my nursing boards (yesterday morning), and can officially put the books away, at least for a bit. I actually received my approval right after my last update post and cried tears of joy. FINALLY. After seven months, seven long months, I could finally take this stinking test. But, really, who gets that excited to take a test?! Pathetic I tell ya. I won’t find out if I officially passed them for a while, but I’m feeling okay about it. This could be really mortifying if I didn’t pass and I have to publicly announce it to about five hundred people- oh well! We will see. Positive thinking right?!

Time to rewind to October 6th. Yes it has been that long. No worries, guys, I have all the food pics. Because, like the last couple posts, all I have done is eat and study.

For DJ’s birthday dinner he wanted to do something relaxing that didn’t involve getting dressed up and didn’t involve facing traffic. We decided to try out Eureka, a place on Main Street that people rave about. Worth the rave- it was maybe my favorite place we tried on the strip.

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For an appetizer we split some bruschetta. It was yumm. Anything with a good goat cheese and a good balsamic vinegar is destined to satisfy ya.

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DJ ordered these insane little boogers. These are lobster tacos with cabbage, saffron crema, watermelon radish, and signature handcut fries. I feel like he inevitably chooses the better dish. Don’t get me wrong, I always love my meals, but I always tend to like his a touch better than what I order. The grass is always greener on the other side of the dinner table. Or maybe less green, because I tend to get a lot of salads. Anyways ..

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I did make a good move by getting these sweet potato fries. UGH they were perfection. I ordered the veggie beet burger over greens. It just sounded so strange; I had to get it. It was super delicious and filling. Them fries though….

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Friday and Saturday was the women’s conference through my church. The theme was “Wisdom”. Lord knows I need more of it. I can’t even describe how much I admire the leaders of our church. It would take me dayyys to write out all that I gleaned from just those two days. I met so many lovely new women and was inspired more than I could have ever anticipated. When I came home from the conference Saturday night DJ surprised me and had cleaned the whole apartment. This made my life. He is the best.

Back to the conference real quick: the bracelet I am wearing in the picture below is made by girls at She Rescue Home. Please check out their site if you have a chance, well worth it. They rescue girls in Cambodia from the sex trade and provide them with shelter, food, education, occupational tools and skills to provide for their family in other ways, medical care, counseling, and reintegrate them into society. That is a terse synopsis of the immense impact they are making and the expansion of what they do. The stories of these girls brought me to tears. Here are some quotes from the founder, Leigh Ramsey, that describe the situation better than I can:

“There are complex issues that contribute to a girl being vulnerable to trafficking – factors such as poverty, abuse, trickery and deception, unemployment and addiction often leading to desperation in the family.”

“But once trapped in this world of unspeakable evil, they are held captive against their will, and threatened with violence, are soon imprisoned in a world of unimaginable pain and degradation … as we say repeatedly IT’S NOT OK!”

They hand-made these bracelets for our conference, one of the tools the skills they learned through She Rescue Home, and every time I wear it I think of and pray for these precious, valuable humans that deserve so much more than the evil of this life.

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It almost feels silly to go on to talk about anything else after that, but life is a mosaic of the good, bad, deep, beautiful, exciting, mundane, simple, and silly. It keeps us balanced and keeps us sane. Can you imagine spending too much time in any of those areas? The mundane makes us appreciate excitement, and the ugly makes us appreciate the beautiful.

Saturday I was craving french toast. I have a healthy high pumpkin french toast I make every fall. It is incredibly easy and tastes like heaven. I can’t wait to share this recipe with you guys.

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While I was doing errands one of these days (lost track, not sure which day), I found some darlin’ little pumpkins. I would have gone alllll out on the fall decor but the studying made it so I couldn’t go out and buy all the fall things. Good thing too, I tend to go a bit overboard with the decorating when given the chance.

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Sunday after church (10/9), we went to brunch. I was craving a good brunch. It’s probably my favorite meal, and I was hitting a serious wall with studying. Brunch is always a cure all’ for the study wall. We went to a highly recommended place called Hash House. It even sounds like a good brunch place. I stepped inside and smelled the buttery toast, eggs, and roasting coffee- the intoxicating, small town, diner breakfast smell. It takes me back to Saturday mornings with my dad and my Papa at local spots in little Parma, Ohio <3 My siblings know exactly what I’m talking about. Hello, Luna’s, Mimi’s, Demetrio’s, and My Place! My family knew the waiters and waitresses by name. I miss those days. All the nostalgic feels right now..

Now back to present day… DJ ordered a Western Hash and I ordered a Tofu Benedict, because where else have you ever heard of a Tofu Benedict?!?! It hit the spot. We also had to try an order of their pancakes- we ordered the short stack. A short stack. We thought they messed up our order and brought us a large stack. Nope. That is their short stack (it’s bigger than the picture does justice). I’d be interested to see the large! Verdict on the cakes: DJ’s mama’s are better. Besides her perfect pancakes, DJ swears the Bellagio in Las Vegas has some of the best he has ever tasted. Anyone concur?

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The rest of the week we had leftovers, and just random easy things here and there. I haven’t cooked as much as I like usually since I have been studying so hard and just have been making easy things like garden salads, pizza, grilled cheese… yada yada yada.

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However, one night (I think last Friday?) we went to Oren’s. I wrote all about how marvelous this Israeli food is in one of my posts. DJ and I crave this place. We like trying new places as a general rule, but man, we both were just itching to get our hands on some of their hummus and pita.

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Let us talk coffee. Lately after dinner I have been loving some decaf chai tea with a little almond milk and a Graze Chia Coconut Cookie. It is the perfect treat to help relax me to get back into study mode for the night. The Mrs. Right cup was dirty, obvi.

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I have been continuing to go to Peet’s everyday. They are truly friends at this point. They bring me out samples here and there of their latest blends, and I know longer have to tell the cashier my order. I just say, “the usual”. YES, I am one of those! I am going to miss the study “grind” simply for this reason. I will probably use blogging as an excuse to park it in Peet’s for a couple hours instead now and again 😉

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I always have either a quest bar or no cow bar on me for quick fuel. When my blood sugar drops I turn hangry real quick. DJ can attest to this. I particularly like dipping the bars in my coffee. I realize I probably look like a weirdo doing it, but that’s never stopped me. I used to lick the foam off the cup sides too, but I put my big girl pants on and stopped doing that… in public.

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Now to the highlight of our last couple weeks!!!!! Last saturday our family had a Halloween party! I can’t begin to explain how fun this was, but I’ll try. I think my cheeks still hurt from laughing. I was using this party as motivation all week long to crank out the last chunk of studying I had. It was such a nice night and helped refuel me for the last few days of cramming before the big exam. Also- it could have been a hosted Pinterest Halloween party. Every single thing was incredibly creative. Ideas galore! Our sisters that I always talk about presented us with the coolest little gift bags with our names on them and personally picked out chocolate we would love. They are incredibly creative and thoughtful, and put so much time into making this the greatest Halloween party of all time. I hope we are invited next year 😉  And, naturally, we all wore costumes, and every single one was fantastic.

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DJ and I were a play on words: I was Holy Gaucamole and he was The Second Amendment. “The right to bear arms”

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Hubby being way helpful- I was knee deep in the books so he glued on my avocados for me 🙂

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This game is a blast. No matter what age you are- this is a winner! You simply wear a  mouthpiece like the ones they use at the dentist office and have to speak a phrase that you are given. Everyone else has to guess what you are trying to say. It is hilarious. We were rolling.

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Monday night I got a text from my younger sister that there was a shooter on her college campus. They received a text from the Administration that he was heading toward the baseball fields, and she was currently in the baseball field at the time. She texted me from inside a shed in the field where she was sitting with the rest of her team. Scared me out of my mind. She was okay and hasn’t heard much about the situation since… But scary stuff. 😥

I took my exam yesterday (Tuesday), and I already explained the down low on that. Here is my obligatory “I just took my nursing boards” goofy, overly excited, why am I smiling like that selfie.

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Definitely will keep you all posted on those results.

When I got home I spent about an hour freaking out convincing myself I didn’t pass, and then DJ spent the next hour convincing me that I did pass. I told him I don’t count my chickens before they hatch, and he said he counted one nurse chicken hatching. I found it hilarious. And then I had candy corn and felt much better about life.

Random small talk note about the weather: It has been getting more fall-ish, and I am loving that. It rained a few times last week, and it was perfect study weather. I love that the seasons still have a sort of rhythm here in Northern California. I was mistaken that it was 75 and sunny everyday. While I never complain when it is 75 and sunny, the respite of rain is a nice change every now and again.

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We are going to a gala for our church this Friday, and I have few fancy dresses in my closet to choose from. To be honest, I am not really a big shopping fan. It overwhelms me a bit. It also seems to take forever to make sure I am making the right decision and getting the best deal. I do love me some good thrift shopping though.

DJ and I hit up the mall after the test yesterday and I actually found a dress relatively quickly. The lady checking us out was so jovial. She told us she wanted to adopt us and came around and gave us hugs after the purchase. I think it was the friendliest customer service experience I have ever had. It may have made DJ a bit uncomfortable, but I loved it! After that was off the list I was in a better mood. I don’t know if I was more anxious about taking my NCLEX or finding a dress, but regardless we conquered both (hopefully!).

After that we went to lunch at True Food Kitchen. This place just opened at Stanford shopping center in Palo Alto. I think this place was made for us. The vegan options were endless. DJ actually opted for a vegan option, although there were meat options. Once again, he chose the better meal, but he is always so kind to let me take a little big bite of whatever he orders.

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To start DJ ordered a honey lemonade. We also split a charred cauliflower dish with harissa tahini, medjool date, dill, mint, and pistachio. I actually have most of these ingredients right now and would love to replicate it. The combination of flavors was addictive.

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For my main dish I tried the seasonal ingredient salad with tofu. This included brussel sprouts, butternut squash, cauliflower, white beans, pomegranate, and toasted mulberry with a horseradish vinaigrette. I would never think to combine those items, but it worked soo well!

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DJ’s meal was the bomb.com. He had a T.L.T. Which is smoked tempeh, butter lettuce, tomato, avocado, and vegan mayonnaise. We are definitely going back to this place! I want to try everything on their menu.

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The whole day, Tuesday, reminded me that I have the greatest family and friends in the world. Before my test I woke up to the sweetest, most encouraging texts. When I came home with DJ after shopping I was greeted by a beautiful  Williams- Sonoma spiced pumpkin bread mix baking box.The silver pumpkins in the picture is the bottom of an actual pan to bake the bread in and it came with a delicious pumpkin butter spread! Also waiting for me was the most beautiful, exotic, and ME bouquet of flowers I have ever seen. They smell amazing and every time I look at them my heart melts. I was not expecting any of this, but I was touched beyond words!

Let’s talk in-laws for a hot tic… If I had to hand pick a family to marry into it would be the DJ’s. I thank God constantly for giving me a second family that showers me with unconditional love, support, and encouragement. I can’t imagine my life without them, and they truly make me feel like one of their own. Oh no, here come the water works. Someone get me a tissue! Nothin’ like an NCLEX to make a girl emotionally unstable!

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This morning I allowed myself to sleep in until 8:30! That is a BIG deal for me, ya’ll! I also was able to go for a super relaxing ten-miler in the sun. I haven’t done that in ages. It felt so good to have the music blasting a little louder than it should, the adrenaline rushing through my veins, and feeling like I could conquer the world. I haven’t had that exhilarating of a run in so long. Lately I’ve been running on the treadmill so I can study my notes and read my review book while running. You should see my books from trying to highlight while running- it’s comical. Also- I only fell once during those ten miles! That’s success in my book. You all know my inclination for the ground.

Anywho, we have my Aunt and Uncle coming in town tomorrow- YAHOOOOO! The rest of the day was groceries, cleaning, shipping boxes, catching up on a zillion emails, all that jazz that was put on the back burner while I studied. It feels good to currently be sitting in a clean house. Oh, and I didn’t forget dinner. Now that I can cook again I made a crispy coconut curry catfish from Blue Apron. I knew this week would be busy so I figured Blue Apron would be good to have on hand for a quick meal with all the ingredients already included!

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Last things last, we can’t forget politics. Let’s just say our household is still #SpankyTomforPresident. Nough’ said.

BUT WAIT how about them WINDIANS?!!? LETS GO CLE. World Series, baby!!!!!

Wishing you a thrilling Thursday,

xo <3

Mack