Life Lately: Skating into 2017 with a Few Laughs & Vegan Eats!

Well whaddya say? Time for an update?!? I haven’t done one in the New Year, so I probably should get on thatttt before it’s 2018.

First though- THANK YOU to everyone who stopped by the Birthday Meet & Greet! Ah, it was so fun making new friends, chatting with old ones, and hearing some super interesting birthday tales too! I hope you all had fun 🙂

Also- I have been a SLACKER lately on responding to blogging awards. Man oh man, I can’t tell you how much they mean to me. I have been meaning to sit down and respond to them, but I am a little big time behind now. I would love to do something special in the future though 😉 Wheels are turning! But for those I haven’t yet thanked yet:

Thank you to Chrissey, my sassy sista with the best taste in cupcakes over at UnabridgedSass and sweet, Diam, the ultimate travel bug, for their nomination for the Liebster Award!!!!

Thank you to the amazing Chiara, who will enthrall you with every post from travels to advice, for the Blogger Recognition Award!

Thank you Meg, who is a role model mother and an instant friend to anyone, for the nomination for the Mystery Blogger Award!

Lastly, thank you to the encouraging Hangry Runner, who genuinely shares her journey through fitness with a sprinkle of real life that all can relate to along the way, for the Versatile Blogger Award.

^^^GO check them out now… don’t even read the rest of this, their stuff is more interesting anyway! 😉

Also lastly, thank you to EVERYONE who left the sweetest, most encouraging words on one of my last posts. WOW. I can’t tell you how much you all lifted my spirits, helped me find new perspective, and encouraged me beyond words! I’m so thankful for you all.

Time for an update! 

SO. Let’s see here. Welp, I made a post last week about the Daniel Fast that DJ and I are doing with our Church. I ended up putting it back in drafts for now because I want to be able to link the recipes for all the meals with the post! So I promise that will be going back up soon 🙂 He is all in on it, 100%, I’m doing a modified version, and won’t chat too much about it, but if you are wondering why our diet looks slightly different (*cough cough*, no sushi), that is why!

Here is a quick little snapshot of the week’s eats!

The first week back from traveling I ran all around town to stock up on groceries, necessities, organized for the New Year, cleaned out house, watched football (DJ more than I), and wrote thank you cards!

We also finally took down our Christmas tree last Sunday :(. It was time. *Sigh* Also, our apartment has a regulation that it had to be down by last week, so I milked that time frame for all it was worth. Otherwise I would have tried to keep the critter alive until Christmas in July.

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RIP, BB. I bet he was just pining to be with others like himself. I promise that is the first and last pun I will use this post! 😉

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I have been applying for jobs, going to hiring events, working on 5 behavioral interview questions per day, and I even went shopping for big girl interview clothes.

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Think I can fool them? I came home after this hiring event and put on the TV, which happened to have the news on. I started chopping vegetables up for dinner and I had a moment of epiphany.

I am my mother

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But in alllll seriousness,  I always said I would be honored to turn into you one day, Mother Dear

Reflecting, the event went well, but they had far too many candidates to do all the interviews in one day. They collected our resumes and said they would be giving calls back soon! *FINGERS CROSSED*.

Segue without a segue:  I’ve tried lifting more weights since the New Year! So far, I’ve lifted.. *thinks to self* one….two…….. TWICE for about 15 minutes, so…. progress, yah?

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I also FINALLY ordered new running shoes and inserts. Yes, yes, I know you are supposed to swap them out every 300-500 miles, and I haven’t changed them since last May. Big whoops. Better late than never?! I HIGHLY recommend trying out these shoes if you have shin splints. However, everyone has a different step/stride/foot, so go to an expert at a running store to fit you for your personal needs! These little guys are Brook’s Ghosts with Berry Inserts. When I was in high school I had horrible shin splints to the point where I had bruises on my shin bone. It was painful to even walk. Once I started using these with the inserts, they went away and have not returned!

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DJ also got me these for Christmas for cross training, and I am in love. They are Nike Zoom Elite 8. I love them for cross training because they offer tons of support, but are also pretty light!

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Although coffee is not technically “DF” approved, I’m doing a modified version, and still having a cup each day as I go through behavioral questions. Especially in nursing, behavioral questions (situation, action, outcome/result) are HUGE in interviews. It’s been a good time for me to reflect on my previous clinical experiences, read through old clinical journals, and remind myself why I love this profession so dearly.
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THIS IS NOT MY ULTRASOUND before anyone has a heart attack. Hahah. I won’t pull another “Our family is growing” on ya. But I did want to share this little peanut up here. One of my best friends since middle school, Clair, is pregnant and having this little bundle of joy in July. She calls me “Mo” so when I received a call from her a few months ago saying, “How do you feel about being Aunt Mo?” I was ecstatic. I asked her if I could share this with you all and she was happy to! She is having her big gender reveal on the 29th which I am devastated I won’t be able to make, but at the same time I am super sure it’s a boy, so I don’t think a reveal is entirely necessary 😉 I am ADAMANT that baby is a boy. What is your guess?!?

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In light of how random and non-sequential this post is… next topic….

The rain here has been NON.STOP. I swear we take the bad weather with us wherever we go! But Cali needed it, so I guess it’s a good thing!! I also don’t mind rainy days, especially when I have a decent amount to work on inside… or when I want to be incredible lazy (so basically one end of the spectrum or the other). I savored working through my interview prep most of the week in Peet’s with a cafe au lait and the rain falling outside.

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BIRTHDAY WEEKEND RECAP

Friday

Time to dive right into this past weekend’s birthday recap! WOW. It was a lot of fun, but unconventional from usual bday celebrations (which traditionally include Indian food). I spent the morning enjoying a nice, long run outside in the SUNSHINE! It was the first time the sun shined in a couple weeks like that, so I took full advantage.

With the fast we had to get creative for a “birthday dinner” and also for the rest of the weekends festivities. BUT we figured it out— with a little fasting compromise 😉 I was a tiny teensy bit emotional, missing my friends and family from back home horribly, but I was thankful I had Deej by my side. My friends out here and I are planning on doing something big in February to celebrate a few of our birthdays after the fast is over!

First, we went to Santana Row in San Jose to walk around, peaked in a few stores, and ate dinner.

Real quick, I just have to mention this experience at Urban Outfitters. I’ve gotta say, I know I’m not always in on the latest and greatest styles- but some of these men’s clothes now-a-days confuse me…  Like this….

I call this one, “Pay 35 dollars for someone who accidentally used bleach in their laundry” Or “I wanna be tie-dye, but I’m not sure”

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This is my next personal fave… now, you can actually purchase farmer Joe’s beat up overalls with a beat up hat, and it’s all the rage 😉 Don’t try this at home though kids, make sure you pay and arm and a leg for it… like this mannequin.
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Oh wait, I lied, this is my personal favorite… the guy who borrowed his sister’s skinny jeans, and the giant GUESS logo on their shirt. Okay, okay.. I know that “GUESS” is a brand, I’m not that fashionably inept, but this man may confuse some old ladies out there… I can hear them now, *In cute Granny voice* “Johnny, what is it I am supposed to Guess? I’m gonna guess that you stole your sister’s pants and that your jacket is an interesting color green and two sizes too small”…..

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OPE! We found the sister. Johnny should really give her the pants back, not a good look in public. Then again we do live in Cali where anything seems to go..

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But in all reality- I’m sure whoever buys those clothes pull them off well! I don’t know the first thing about men’s fashion, so please do not be offended by my… bewildered evaluation, shall we say.

Next stop: VeggieGrill! Oh how I loved this place!

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EVERYTHING on their menu is vegan. How great is that?! It *almost* fit into the Daniel Fast.

DJ ordered the Seoul Bowl with chargrilled veggie-“steak”, korean super grain + rice mix, gochujang sauce, carrots, house red onions, cabbage, arugula, scallions, sesame seeds. I had a bite and it was so good! Not sure it could pass as a real steak, but it certainly gave that savory meat flavor. DJ thoroughly enjoyed it!

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We also shared “Buffalo Wings” served with celery and vegan ranch dressing. They were out of this world. I haven’t had a chicken wing since my freshman year of college and these really gave me a wing fix. SO GOOD.

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For my salad, I ordered the Banh Mi with glazed tofu (although it came breaded, which I wasn’t expecting, but still tasty), chargrilled eggplant, carrots, white cabbage, cucumbers, daikon, fresh jalapenos, basil, cilantro, mint, and kale. I ordered the sauce on the side AND a “crab” cake which was also 100% vegan, but you could have fooled me! The thing I miss the most on the daniel fast is probably fish, so I was surprised (and excited) at how well this imitated it!

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Ok… ok. Totally breaking all the fast rules here, but it is sorta birthday tradition to get one slice of cheesecake from cheesecake factory (I’ll add a day to the fast 😉 ). DJ did not indulge, just to clarify. I tried the white chocolate macademia nut for the first time and it was OUT of this world. Anyone have a favorite flavor? The one I still want to try desperately is the lemon meringue, but this night I was craving caramel (which is in the macademia nut). Any one have the lemon meringue? Worth it? I could talk Cheesecake Factory all day long ya’ll..

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Friday night we had plans to go to a Comedy show in San Jose. We went to the location, walked in and up to our reserved seats, and people were sitting in them. Oh, here we go, I thought. Gotta’ give them the boot. I showed them our tickets and then realized our tickets were for Saturday night, not that night. With a few extra apologies thrown in for the inconvenience, we booked it out there, laughed about the mix-up, and watched Netflix the rest of the evening (We are moving through Dexter quite quickly!). We decided to give it a go again the next night for when the tickets were actually valid!

Saturday

So, we’ve been wanting to go ice skating for a while, but when we tried to go in Union Square, it looked like it was “kids only” hour, so we vouched out of that. We had heard from a friend that Winter Lodge in Palo Alto was a great place to go, so we tried it out. Once again, SWARMED with youngins. Oh well, we were there, and we were determined to get our skating fix (ok, maybe it was more my skating fix, and DJ was just a trooper along for the ride).

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^^Fun fact: The mirror in the guest room accidentally became a guest book, so we just kinda left it that way. Not sure what we’ll do when it’s all filled up- it’s an awfully large guest book to store. Ha!

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We didn’t fall once. I can hardly believe it. If nothing else, the weekend was a success simply for that reason alone!

After skating, we walked around downtown PA for a little bit and worked up quite an appetite. We decided to try a place right on one of the downtown strips called Nola. I had heard of this place before from several others, and then another SF blogger, KB, did a write up on it. I noticed they had a vegan jumbalaya that appeared to be DF approved, so we decided to try it out!

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(They have a huge mardigras party every year, hence all the beads)

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I LOVED the ecclectic, cultural fusion that this place vibed. It is unlike any restaurant I have ever been to. It’s menu has just about anything you can imagine from chicken and waffles to gourmet skirt steak. You could classify it as mostly Cajun/New Orleans cuisine. It was fantastic. We will definitely be going back to explore more of their menu. Plus the service was OUTSTANDING.

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We split their vegan jumbalaya with the sauce on the side and savored every nibble. This had roasted confetti cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and butternut squash, procini & button mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, crushed garlic, cajun spices, and scallion rice. We ordered the sauce on the side. It was perfect for a slightly chilly day and filled us right up, even with splitting it.

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We also split their Garlic Sauteed Green Beans (they were ok- I think a bit al dante for our liking). We also split their steamed vegetables which were super yummy.

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We headed back home for a short while to watch some football, then headed to Stage 4 Improv in San Jose. We actually had the date and time right this time 😉 Unfortunately, we were comparing it to Four Day Weekend in Fort Worth, so this didn’t really hold it’s own. But it did warrant a few giggles. Improv can be tricky too depending on the type of night the comedians are having… I would give the show a second chance, as they did receive five stars on Yelp!

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Sunday I got sick, AGAIN (like the cold kind)

Tonight is BACHELOR! Ya’ll know where we will from 8-10 pm tonight. Except, I can’t wait till we can start up the tradition of wine, cookies and chocolate milk, and ice cream for bachelor nights again in about a week!

(I’m starting a new thing where I’m gonna include blog birthdays at the end of my recaps)

Blog Family Birthdays this Week: 

Lacey  on Jan. 11 (A little belated, but better late than never 😉 )

Kristin on Jan. 16 (I know you don’t have a blog Kristin, but I still wanted to say a BIG Happy Bday today!)

Happy MLK Jr. Day!

xo <3

Mack

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Fort Worth, TX Recap!

Hey Ya’ll! Long time no chat! I am so behind on these posts, comments, everyyything- so I apologize but I will get caught up very soon 🙂 I have so many good memories to record and share. I am taking us wayyy back in time to December 15th when I arrived in Fort Worth, Texas. My mom and step dad, Pete, live there and my sister, Halston, flew in as well. DJ had to stay in Cali for work! I already recapped San Antonio, which was a weekend trip, so this post is the bookends of that weekend!

Thursday (12/15)

I woke up in the morning sick as a dog. I definitely caught whatever had been going around. DJ took me to the airport, and we realized this would be the longest we would be apart since we got married. Anyway, I comically lugged my three suitcases through the airport, unable to keep them stacked in a way that I could physically move them in unison. I’d go five steps then *flop* the one would topple over, another five steps then *flop*- I continued dropping the luggage every few feet and certainly was someone’s entertainment for the day. I honestly didn’t care, I just wanted to get through security to my darn gate. I handed off my checked luggage and was finally free from the luggage juggling circus act. Once through security, I started craving soup more than I can ever remember in my whole life. The chills were pretty bad. I walked through the airport strip and had about given up on finding soup and instead started hunting down my gate. When I was close to my gate I saw the San Francisco Soup Company and was never so ecstatic to see a soup place in all my years.

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I ordered their summer corn chowder and it hit.the. spot. It took that achy chill out of my bones and made the rest of the wait bearable!

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On the flight I read the latest issue of the American Journal of Nursing, wrote some Christmas cards, and used the tray table as a pillow. What do you guys do on flights?

After I landed, my family and I exchanged hugs and “Ah! I don’t want to get you sick”(s) and “I don’t care!”(s), then hit the road to head to Keller (a suburb of Fort Worth). On the way we stopped by the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX. My sister’s boyfriend, Kevin, was there for one more night and we said he couldn’t leave without seeing this place. It’s quite the spectacle! It’s one large hotel, but they deck it all out for Christmas. You know the saying, “Everything is bigger in Texas”? I’m pretty sure that originated with this hotel. It’s worth a quick walk through if you are ever in the area!

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Cuties!!!! (I was out of commission for pictures; I basically looked like a walking zombie).

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They have an imitation San Antonio Riverwalk on the lower level. It’s even completed with Mexican restaurants all around it. How cool is that!??!

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Once home, I was greeted by my puppy, Jade, that I haven’t seen in so long.

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On Friday (12/16) Kevin left (sad day!), and I had my hair did (insert hand flip emoji) at a Lemongrass Salon by Aveda while my mom and sister shopped. I accidentally missed my appointment that I had scheduled in California (I thought it was 1 but it was 11), so my mom graciously helped me schedule this one. I still was not feeling 100%, so it was a good day to knock this out. Getting your head massaged and roots covered is a sure fire way to make a girl feel better 😉 I swear by Aveda salons for a good blonde!

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Friday night mama Jill whipped up a delicious dinner!!! It was cauliflower Arancini via GreenChef, and we loved it! However, we both agree after using both services that Blue Apron is still the better of the two.

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I liked using the leftover cauliflower bites to dip in hummus. They were even better the next day.

That night we went to the movies. I LOVE the movie theaters with the Cafe and Bar areas. We watched Collateral Beauty. I thought it was just OK, but the rest of my family loved it. Either way it was great family time and sparked good conversation. I won’t give a full synopsis- but if anyone has seen it I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Saturday morning (12/17) We left first thing in the morning for San Antonio!!!!!!!! You can read all about our Saturday morning to Sunday evening here.

Monday (12/18) was a chilllllllll day filled with sleeping in, a workout at the local recreation center with my mama, baking Christmas cookies, and sushi for dinner. A perfect day if there ever was any! The last couple times we have been in Fort Worth have been pretty tourist packed, so we decided to take it easy this round and just relax- a word that isn’t really in my vocab too often.

At breakfast, the little stinker put on her sweet begging face. Sorry, Charlie, I like my toast too doggone much to share.

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Christmas Bakin’! I wish I could take credit for any of this, but Mama Jill was the baking wizard all the way. Her coconut macaroons are the BOMB (they are the white morsels). And there is truly something about homemade rice krispy treats!

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Tons of sushi from Kroger with seaweed salad and asian thai salad was on the agenda for dinner. (I know grocery store sushi may not sound super appealing, but I have never been disappointed!).

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After sushi, we went over some family friends’. I met them last spring when I was in town and had a ball with them. I couldn’t wait to hang out again. Their house is the most festively decorated home I have ever seen. I think the said they have eighteen Christmas trees total? Each one is decorated with a specific ornament theme. For example, they have a Christmas tree with only shoe ornaments, another with only wine bottle ornaments, another with only santa ornaments, etc.; it was an actual winter wonderland.

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She has no idea I snapped this, but I snuck a picture of this classy lady!

Also we had carolers stop by, and they were the most precious two little girls in the world.

Tuesday (12/20)

This was lounge day round two! We watched Netflix, home videos, Hulu, and grazed all day long.

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My family hasn’t let me live this clip down for years. This is Halston and I. I was NOT a nice big sister!!! Sorry, Hal!!! Thanks for not holding this against me. Love u!

Here is a picture of my mama’s homemade guac that I mentioned in the San Antonio post!

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For dinner she made roasted onion, butternut squash, brussel sprouts, and cranberries with a maple glaze. YUM!

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Every single night us three girls hot-tubbed, chatted, and sipped on wine. It was perfection. Pete was so sweet to encourage us to have our girl time.

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The neighbors next-door just had a baby, so we dog-sat a couple times in the evenings for them to lighten their load. This video makes me belly laugh every time I watch it. It is of one of the dogs (the most lovable Pitbull in the world) thoroughly enjoying a tummy rub. Yes- that is a dog making that noise. My mom at the end of the video goes, “Why are you crying, Buster?!” *That’s the dog’s name 😉

Wednesday (12/21)

Halston, my mom, and I woke up and did Insanity in the living room. All ya’ gotta do is move a few couches out of the way and you’ve got a nice gym!!

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Followed by shenanigans.

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Jadey baby didn’t feel up for the workout. Also- what a stinking diva. She literally has her bed on the bed. Spoiled pup, I tell ya what.

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After our big family workout, we went to brunch at Another Broken Egg Cafe per my stepdad’s suggestion. I think I thanked him at least ten times for suggesting this place, because it was one of the BEST brunchy places ever. Ugh, I say that every time, but I do mean it!

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They had such a uniquely delicious selection of food, and their coffee was served in handcrafted stone mugs. Doesn’t get much better than that.

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My mom and Pete said we needed to try the Beignet doughnuts. These are like the best-donuts-you’ve-ever-had and then some. SO. GOOOD. And they are served with a honey marmalade. I donut know how I have gone my whole life without them. And I donut know how I have gone so long without making an awful pun. You’re welcome.

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Us girlies tried the skinny omelette which had herbed egg whites with blanched asparagus, roasted red peppers, green onions, goat cheese and roasted garlic cloves with an english muffin and a fruit dish. They seasoned it with the most palatable herbs!!!! My mom and I placed our bets on what they were, and we actually nailed it! Thyme, rosemary, and parsley. If you’ve never tried that on an omelette, DO IT! It’s extraordinary, or shall I say “Egg-straordinary”! Ok, ok, I’m done now 😉

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Pete chose the lemon ricotta pancakes. He graciously offered us all a bite, and obviously I graciously accepted a big ole’ one. My sister gets mad because she says when I “try” something, I end up eating half of it. But, hey, tomat-oh, tomah-toe. You say “try”, I hear “sample half the plate”. Anyways, these were lemony ricotta-ey pancakey perfection.

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Wednesday night we had the Candlelight celebration at church. It worked out perfectly because this was our “faux” Christmas Eve. Although we couldn’t celebrate actual Christmas day all together, the fact that we could go to this candlelight service definitely made it feel like a true Christmas Eve celebration. It was moving, and I love seeing the sanctuary lit up by candlelight.

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When we came home we had apps while we finished up cooking dinner! The cheese was a mix of vegan and regular. I truly could not tell the difference between which one was vegan and which one was not. Usually good vegan cheeses are hard to come by, but this stuff was a facsimile; it blew my mind! We could not get enough!

Fun tip: If you need a fancy, yet incredibly easy, appetizer- try doing pita crackers + hummus + roasted red pepper + roasted onion + a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

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Although DJ wasn’t able to actually be with us, we still hung his stocking!!!

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It was nice to sit around and enjoy our apps around the gorgeous tree. It’s these moments that define the word “content” for me.

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Dinner started with goat cheese “croutons” atop a salad with pears, pecans, and mixed greens. THIS. This is going to be a tradition.

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Momma made ribs for Pete… yes, that whole thing was for Pete considering none of us eat meat. LOL. The girls had a sesame crusted tuna. I forgot to take a picture because I was a bit ravenous!

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Dessert followed with my mom’s marveeeeelous Christmas cookies and my step dad’s famous pumpkin crunch which I am beyond bummed that I don’t have a picture of. We gobbled that thing up so quick! It’s one of our favorite parts of Christmas. It’s truly something I look forward to year round.

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We ended the night with a dip in the hot-tub per usual.

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On Thursday (11/22) we had our “faux” Christmas Day!!!!! It was a magical morning followed by a breakfast of eggs, toast, and BEER JELLY! I found these on UncommonGoods for Pete. We had fun sampling all of them! Uncommon Goods is an AMAZING site for unique gifts for the family. I find most of my gifts here each year!

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Annnnnd my stocking, as well as Halston’s, was stocked with five gum, NO COW bars (lemon meringue- the best), and Quest bars. We may have a bit of an obsession to say the least…

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After opening gifts and having breakfast, I went for a nice long run. Unfortunately, the sun didn’t want to peak through too much, but it was still enjoyable. I lived in Texas in the Summer of 2015 before traveling to India, so the familiarity feels like home, even down to the running trails.

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In the afternoon I ran a couple errands with Mama Jill

You know you are in Texas when…

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That afternoon we had apps round two!

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For our “Christmas day” dinner, we started with pear salads with goat cheese, toasted almonds, cranberries, and mixed greens. I made my cauliflower mashed potatoes! I promise I will post those at some point! They were a big hit.

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We also had stuffed vegan acorn squash with fresh cranberries!

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My mom also made regular meatballs for Pete

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And we cannot forget my most favorite dish of the season: Sweet potato praline . YUHHHHMMM.

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And what is any holiday meal without green bean casserole? She made it healthier too by substituting the cream of mushroom for light and low sodium. We could not even tell the difference!

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This perfect Christmas dinner was followed by more hot tub & wine!

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Friday (11/23) I woke up early to go to the local recreation center in Keller to get a workout in before getting ready to head to the airport. My sister had a different flight than me (a much earlier one), so she was landing in Ohio as I was taking off. This is how I caught up on reading everyone else’s blogs from the week! People probably think I’m such a crazy ellipticallyng (spelling?) with a laptop, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do!

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When my mom got back from the airport, I finished packing up and then we decided we had time for one last lunch before heading out. She recommended a favorite of her’s and Pete’s in town, Devivo Bros. Eatery. It is considered rustic comfort food, but has an Italian flare! So essentially all the good things..

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We split the Kale salad with fresh kale, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, crispy tortilla strips and candied almonds tossed in a jalapeño ranch dressing as well as the white bean tomato basil soup.

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It all hit the spot perfectly, and I was so thankful for this small chunk of time we could treasure before my flight.

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Isn’t she darling?!

Time to head back to OH-IO.
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I will recap that soon! Since DJ couldn’t join us on our fort worth adventures this year I figured why not include a few from last year?!? 🙂

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This is from when we visited the Fort Worth Stockyards. Such a fun place if you ever get the chance! Next time I go back to Fort Worth I am going to do a travel post about them.

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And a trip wouldn’t have been complete without absurd amounts of sushi.

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Thanks for hanging in there with me through this crazy long post!

I will do a quick holiday post recap once I am back 🙂 DJ and I have are currently waiting for our 6 am flight and have been up since 3 am! EEEK!

Wishing you a very Happy New Year,

xo <3

Mack

A Mountain Lion Scare and Food with Flare

****** WARNING: An asinine amount of food pictures to follow. Ya’ll have your snacks ready? Ok, good. Let’s goooo!**********

Woah now, put on the breaks there! Getting ahead of myself..First,  I want to thank TheHangryRunner for the nomination for the Mystery Blogger award. It’s so hard for me to find time to write a post to respond, but the nomination means so much!

Okay, off we go now 🙂

Our Aunt and Uncle on DJ’s side came in town Thursday. My side was here a couple weeks ago! Just in case anyone was momentarily confused. We have been excited to see them as they live in Ohio and the last time we saw them was in April! Fun side note: Our Aunt actually published a humorous, high-energy book series. I know I have a few writers that follow this blog, so I’ve provided the link to her blog page to check them out if interested 🙂 Highly entertaining and relatable!

When they arrived they gave us an incredible gift. This is one of those times that I was reminded that, yes, we live in the twenty-first century where technology is just INSANE. Allow me to present a smart pan called Pantelligent. Yes- you heard me right. A SMART PAN. It has a temperature sensor in the actual pan body and connects to an app on your phone. You tell the app what you are cooking, and it reads the pan, telling you what temperature to set the pan to, when to flip the food, when to turn up the heat or turn it down, etc. Mind blown.

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We had some champagne, toasting to family and new adventures. We showed them around our place and Main Street and noticed it was just about dinner time. Naturally, whenever we have visitors who are sushi fans we have to take them to Yuki. It’s such a hole in the wall place, but the fact that you have to wait so long for a table even on a week night exemplifies this is the best sushi around. Yes- to all my girlfrans who are sushi lovers, come visit me here and we WILL go to this place.

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After dinner, we parted ways for the evening. Around 9:45 we got a knock on the door. I had met our neighbors that just moved in the day before and we did the casual “Come by if you need anything!” I definitely meant it, but was surprised how quickly they took us up on it! Sure enough, 9:45 pm on a Thursday night, stopping by to “borrow” lettuce… when we have a grocery target across the street that’s open till midnight. We happily gave them lettuce, but it was hilarious. Last night they came by for cilantro. We are taking bets on what they are gonna swing by for next!

Now for a wild story. Allow me to tell you about one of the scariest moments in my ENTIRE life…And I thought Halloween was over.

Friday I decided I wanted to run to the top of my favorite trail running mountain. It seemed like a great challenge. It’s about four miles inclined up, and at certain points you can feel pretty isolated, especially in the woods. I have been running on my own since I was like two years old, so I usually don’t usually feel too nervous on tucked away trails. I can certainly be naive… I realize. I trotted happily ? exhaustively ? happily exhaustively taking in the spectacular view, the inviting winding path. My legs burned something fierce trudging up that incline, but I wanted to make it to the top with every ounce of my being.  I was running through the last section of forest and foliage, then the top of the mountain came into view. I felt a renewed energy and pushed to get to the top.

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The beginning of the last stretch
When I was only maybe 100 feet from my destination, I heard the most terrifying noise. A big ole’ angry cat snarl. . The kind of sound you would hear on the Animal Planet. It sounded like the creature was up the hill next to me and close. I didn’t want to look.  I had one of those moments where I just froze. The fright turned to flight, hello sympathetic nervous system! I turned around and booked it down the mountain. (Which is the exact opposite of what you are supposed to do if you encounter a mountain lion, mind you). I have never run so fast in my entire life.

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Another thing about mountain lions is they stalk their prey. So even when I felt I was away from the area I heard the snarl, I still didn’t feel at ease. I was praying incessantly and imaging the headlines in tomorrows paper, “Woman, Only Twenty-Two, became Mountain Lion’s Dinner” “Never run away from a Mountain Lion: Deadly Attack when Woman loses her Common Sense and Her Life”. I would be featured on the TV show 1000 Ways to Die, and I would forever go down on the Wiki page of the handful of recorded mountain lion attacks in North America.

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You guys know I’m one for the dram’, and to be honest none of that was going through my head, besides begging God to get me back to safety and to make my legs go faster. 

A little over a half mile down I saw a woman hiking up the path. Hallelujah, praise Him above. I have never been so relieved to see another human being. I ran up to her out of breath and shaking tremendously. I didn’t realize just how scared I was until I tried to speak and nothing came out. Finally, I calmed down and just repeated, “Mountain lion” over and over and pointed up the hill. First she asked if I actually saw it and I shook my head. Then she calmly explained that she has lived in this area for 47 years and has hiked this trail for 16 without ever seeing a mountain lion. She assured me that it was probably a harmless bobcat.

I explained how I was so frustrated I was that close to the top but just didn’t quite make it. She helped convince me that I had nothing to worry about if I wanted to attempt the mission again. Well now, I certainly didn’t want to call it quits. She continued to assure me that I was safe and that she was right behind me if anything were to happen. I know it’s crazy that I even contemplated going back, but in the moment my pride was blinding me. K? I ran without thinking, to the top, snagged a few pictures, and then descended that mountain quicker than I probably would have in any other situation. I don’t think I will ever do that trail alone again, at least not without some kind of bear spray (works for the lions too).

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Here is proof that the mountain-lion-bob-cat didn’t get me. Also, I never have a good hair and makeup day at the same time. I had to record the anomaly.

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 Since our Aunt and Uncle were still in town on Friday, we planned to have dinner at the GREATEST RESTAURANT in San Francisco. Say Whaa? The best in all of SanFran? What is this place? It is called *dramatic hand twirl* Farallon. Located in Union Square, it’s known for featuring exquisite costal cuisine; aka this pesca’s dream come true. DJ and I (and mama bear) sampled food from Farallon when we went to the Eat Drink SanFran event, and knew this was a place we would have to venture to at some point. I was ecstatic when our Aunt and Uncle suggested it.

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This was easily the most unique and impressively themed restaurant I have ever seen. Like I said, it’s known for it’s seafood, and everything about the restaurant created the illusion that you were in an underwater oasis. There were actual jellyfish fixtures that hung from the ceiling. JELLYFISH CHANDELIERS, GUYS. The seats were designed so you felt like you were sitting in a pink velvet shell. The walls were a marine teal and lined to illustrate coral in certain areas. The restaurant mastered the art of creating a high-end, luxurious and classy underwater sanctuary.

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Our Aunt and Uncle encouraged me to take pictures, I obliged without a fuss, because ya’ll know I like those food pics 😉

First we started with caviar. I have never had it, and neither had DJ (or at least it’s been a while). It was so full of bursting umami flavor and the chives, onions, and light cream sauce just caused a flavor explosion in my mouth. I understand why people revere caviar as such a treat!

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We decided to do the tasting menu because what better way to make your way around the delicacies?!

We started with a local halibut crudo with basil oil, serrano chili & crisp shallots over grilled moon drop grapes. We raved about how the flavors complimented each other perfectly.

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Next we had pan roasted sole with brussel sprouts, beurre rouge & dungeness crab. Holy Moly. This was definitely a crowd favorite for the evening. This dish rode the line between delicate and savory perfectly.

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Next up was the Gnocchi & Cayucos Abalone with rosemary butter, smoked trout roe, & aged balsamic. This. Thissss. I can’t even begin to describe the flavor. I will do it injustice no matter what I say!

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Next we had the Reichardt Farm Duck with cinderella pumpkin & chestnut chai. By this point we were getting pretty full, but had to try it. Even though I don’t eat meat, when something like this is placed in front of me there ain’t no way I’m passing it up. I tried a little bite and decided it tasted like steak. If you like steak, you would love this! My favorite part was the pumpkin. It reminded me of sweet potato puree and the chai butter was the perfect sweet touch.

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What?! There is more? You betchya. Below is a baked pear with vanilla ice cream, pomegranate seeds, and a delicious macadamia nut cookie. Move over Betty Crocker!

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The best part of the night wasn’t even the food. It was the treasured quality time with family and conversation about everything and anything. I send a big thanks to our Aunt and Uncle for allowing me to document this evening, and for making this unforgettable night happen. You guys spoiled us!!! xo

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DJ and I woke up with a craving for two things: Donuts and The Office. We started this Office/Donut tradition back in Indiana in our little townhouse. We would occasionally just spend a morning binging the office and eating delicious donuts from Poppy’s (the ONLY donut shop for miles). Now we have about ten fantastic options within a ten mile radius. Thank you, California. We always get a healthy amount, and I freeze whatever donuts we don’t eat. Not kidding- just throw them in the freezer, then when you get that craving, microwave um’ and they are good as new whenever you want! I like the Maple donuts, DJ likes plain glazed or cinnamon sugar. What are your favorites?

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Like I said, there are tons of highly rated donut shops near us, so we will definitely be making our ROUNDS, because they bring us a HOLE lot of joy. Just a little SPRINKLE of humor for ya.

Saturday night we met with friends from Church to try some authentic Ethiopian food. This place was about as authentic as it gets. I was so giddy when I stepped in and saw this little tikki hut. Anything tikki can put one in a good mood, Amirite?!

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We started with Sambusa, which reminded me of a Samosa from India. I would describe it like a spinach pie with lentils. DELISH, especially with whatever barbecue sauce this was.

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We had our food served to us on a silver platter. Literally. How great is that. We tried the meat and veggie sampler. Ethiopian food is the kind of thing you definitely do NOT want to try on a first date and no- you are NOT given silverware for the main course. They took away our forks. HA! You use the spongy Injera (pancake like substance) to scoop the food.

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We left so stuffed. The food was delicious and like nothing I have ever had. The injera was actually painless to use and scooped the food super easily. I would highly recommend it!

This place just opened up near us and we gave it a go Monday. I was planning on cooking, but I applied for my first nursing job Monday and had a massive headache after slaving over the application for about four hours. DJ suggested we try it out. Conclusion: We will be back!

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After completing that application I felt the need for some Halo Top. My two favorite flavors are the strawberry and birthday cake.. MMM mmm. This stuff has the health factor and taste factor dowwwn- low calorie (280 for the pint), high protein, and low fat. It is probably the best replica out there of real ice cream.

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Tuesday- I did something I have never done before! I made Tacos. Go ahead and laugh. I know it’s pretty unbelievable that I’ve never made them. I basically only cook bizarre things, remember?! I’ve made taco salad, “taco-like” options, and vegetarian wraps but never just plain Jane tacos. No worries, I did garnish it with cilantro to stay true to myself. #TACOTUESDAY, ya’ll. DJ has been craving them and I decided to try my hand at the little guys. I was shocked at how easy they were to make, and they made the house smell delicious. He said I nailed them. If you know me, there are very few compliments you can give me that are better than complimenting my cooking. For my meal, I made a garden salad with tons of veggies, pickled onions, pickled beets, beet hummus, vegan chicken strips, and balsamic vinegar.

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I won’t get all political because I know you guys have enough of that, but I hope you were all able to make it to the polls!

OHHH! Last thing- I finally posted my Healthy French Toast recipe. 🙂

Hope you guys are all doing well! Can’t wait to see my Ohio and Dallas fam in about a month! Counting down!

Wishing you a toasty week,

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

 

Recap of the First Lap

 

So as I mentioned in my last post, this week has been fun! But it also has exhausting. It is worth every second. I think back and am amazed at how much we managed to squeeze in a short period of time. Here is a little recap of adventures of this past week:

  • When we arrived, we spent the first couple days unpacking and finding a home for all our belongings. Then we started the endless trips back and forth to Target, TJ Maxx, Home Goods, and Bed Bath and Beyond to get the place lookin’ cute. Poor boy. Also we spent about an entire day assembling a TV console that did NOT want to be assembled. But, we did it.

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  • As I mentioned, I love to cook. However in the first week of moving in I didn’t really have the time (or energy!) to figure out a meal plan for the week. So our gracious apartment complex gave us “welcome to the ‘hood” coupons for all kinds of restaurants. We had a million to subway along with subway gift cards, so we had subway for lunch (and sometimes dinner) every.single.day for about the first 6 days. We made friends with the workers in there and went back one night just because to say “hey” to them.
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  • In the evenings for the first few nights we had dinners consisting of couponed’ sushi, thai, and more Subway. There is something just fun and rewarding about working hard all day and then getting takeout to eat among a sea of receipts, broken down cardboard boxes, and empty walls. One night we ate at a hole-in-the-wall vegetarian Indian place. It was the most authentic Indian food I have encountered in the US. I was like a little kid in a candy store telling DJ about all the authentic cuisine. It was also the best naan I have ever had (besides actually being in India). Side note: I went to India May 2015 for Nursing with my school. It was one of the greatest, most challenging, rewarding experiences of my entire life.

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  • My favorite part of the area is the hiking. It is certainly interesting to see warning signs for mountain lions and rattle snakes at the entrance of each park. So far I have managed not to become some lions’ dinner, so I say that’s a win.
  • The most difficult process we have encountered was the DMV. Oh my lanta, getting a license in California is not easy. Be prepared to wait in endless lines. I told DJ it felt like we were right at home, at Cedar Point.
  • On our trip out here I realized a tooth that I had chipped (when I was five), and re-filled in May, was turning slightly yellow. I went to a dentist in the area and he said I needed an emergent root canal. Here we are, a week in, and I’m drooling all over the place. I have the second half of it today (it was a two part procedure).
  • We found a church! I cannot explain what a blessing this is for us. We have heard horror stories about getting plugged into churches on the West Coast. I am blown away by the kindness and genuine nature of the individuals we encountered. We went to our first community group last night and I left feeling elated after finding such a wonderful group of people, that are so passionate about their relationship with Christ, so quickly.

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Wishing you good days and lots of sunshine,

xo <3

Mack