One Year Blogiversary, and yes, there is cake.

One year ago in July, DJ and I moved across the entire country to this foreign land of the Bay Area. We greeted this new adventure with excitement and welcomed the change gladly. We soon figured out that if there is an antithesis to small town Indiana, it was probably our new California abode. Don’t get me wrong- Indiana will forever have a soft spot for me, it’s just different here. Like a child uncovering their five senses for the first time, I began exploring this new playground in awe. The mountains, the trails, the people, the events, the diversity, the buzz, the food, ohhh the FOOOD! I felt that I couldn’t do justice relaying to our parents all we were experiencing. So, I decided to start this blog. I started a diary, a virtual documentation of our memories, travels, and general happenings. I never intended or expected for anyone to read this outside of my mom, DJ’s mom, and maybe a couple girlfriends back home (hence the super unoriginal blog name- I didn’t realize that actually being creative was a thing). I, quite honestly, had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The first thing I didn’t realize was how incredible the WordPress community is. I actually didn’t even know there was a community when I began. When I received my first comment I was blown away- someone in Baltimore cared about something I wrote?! It baffled me. Then it began extending to Canada, Ireland, etc. etc. and of course, my beloved India. I began my own exploration through the world of blog, and the writings of so many resonated within me. I began to see the vulnerability, the talent, creativity, and the genuine hearts that create this virtual world; this is truly a special place.

This inspired me to share a bit of my own heart. Little by little the blog has also been my space to cope with the ups and downs of this past year and to just write. Which, if you are an author around here, you understand the cathartic nature in writing alone.

I reflect on this year and from traveling across the US with DJ, to creating our new home from scratch, to questioning my faith but finding it again, to studying endless hours for my NCLEX, to passing my boards, to visits from families and friends, to holiday festivities, to the epic meet & greet, to DJ and I both beginning our new careers and everything in between…..I realize this blog has been pivotal.

Not only have I made and gained priceless friendships that I can’t imagine life without, but your words of encouragement and love have lifted me on the darkest days. Receiving texts from family and friends saying me sharing struggles inspired them always caused me to raise a brow …… And there exists maybe one of my greatest lessons I’ve learned through blogging: There is something beautiful about embracing the struggle. There is something kindred in vulnerability. My walls and my desire to present a certain image to the world is slowly crumbling away because I now understand that very facade has actually kept me from growth. But I would not have grown without you. Each of you. From the other bloggers out there to the friends and family who have supported this endeavor, and especially DJ, who has allowed me to be so candid about our life.

So…

JJ, Katie,  Miranda, Cassie, Terri, Natalie, Cyranny, Nikki, Jena, Debbie, Myra, Anna, Steph, Amitav, Kalpana, Lisa, Jennifer, Anna, Kat, Chrissey, Frilly, Caralyn, Sophia, Jen, Jess & Roman, Samantha, Lathi, Tara, Rhiannon, Chelsea, Heather, Kiran, Ju Lyn, Lyss, Taylor, A Patient Nurse, Miriam, Lyndsay, McKenz, Suz, Elizabeth, Rach, Allie, Katy, Sijo, Kimberlee, TaralynnChiara, Caroline, Alifya, Tialla, Jess, Nicole, Jenna, Sarah, Kori, Amy, Niki, Marcia, Rossy, KrystalKristin, Cheila… (Uh oh, I know I’m missing others!) and those without blogs that leave the sweetest words…

I just want to say thank you. I celebrate this blog, not because of me, or my life, but because of you and your impact on my life and so many others. Thank you for inspiring me with your own writing and vulnerability. Thank you for sharing your world too. Thank you for the incredibly thought provoking, hilarious, and beautiful conversations. Thank you for challenging me. Thank you for loving me, with my horrible jokes and sushi littered posts, THANK YOU

Now, we can’t celebrate without cake, AMIRITE?!

Wednesday, I whipped down up to SF to celebrate with my girl, Annie, before she heads back to Korea (CUE THE TEARS). She is super on board with my wacky ideas, like idk, getting a cake to celebrate your blog? This totally began as a joke, but we rannnn with it. Any excuse for cake, AMEN?! 🙌🏻

We first headed to the oldest Restaurant in SF, Tadich’s Grill. This may be one of the most wonderful meals I have had in SF so far (which says a whole lot, because we have basically ate our way through SF).

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After having the most phenyumonal meal you can imagine, we went back to her glorious apartment that overlooks the Bay and took pictures with a cake I ordered from Sugar, Flour, Butter bakery (highly recommend if you need a bakery in the northern Cal area).

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I said I didn’t feel right about not having a glass of red wine in the picture if I was being true to myself. So we pulled out that Cabernet for the photo ops 😉

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This red velv cake did not stand a chance against us. I wish I could have shared a piece with everyone! 

All my love… 

xo ❤

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Protein Packed Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

I start every single day with cookies and end every day with ice cream.

Not kidding! I say it’s the secret to a balanced diet and keeps me motivated to eat healthy the rest of the day!

Soooo…. I am finally sharing my breakfast cookie recipe per request! I have spent time after time and batch after batch trying to perfect these little guys. I finally feel I have come to a place where these breakfast cookies are exactly what I crave in the morning. And by crave I mean if I don’t have any left come morning my whole day is off. I pair a couple with my creamy avocado smoothie and am usually set for a full morning of work from 4:30 until about 11 am when I have my first break. Plus, the sweet & savory combo is perfection.

Grocery List:

  • 2 scoops Protein Powder of Choice (I prefer EAS Vanilla)
  • 2 C. Oatmeal of choice (either old fashioned or quick oats- I like quick oats)
  • 3 TBSP Enjoy Life semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 2 Large overripe Bananas
  • 1/2 C. Organic Peanut Butter (I use Laura Schudder’s)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mash bananas in a large mixing bowl with a fork or spatula
  3. Add all other ingredients
  4. Stir and mash with spatula until thoroughly mixed- put your muscle into it! It’s dry at first, but eventually becomes nice and doughy (may use a Kitchen Aid)
  5. Using a Tablespoon, scoop cookies one at a time onto a greased baking tray
  6. Put all cookies into the oven, cook for 7-8 minutes
  7. Allow to cool, enjoy!
  8. Store leftovers in the fridge.

**They taste like little cookie dough bites cold, but I reheat mine in the microwave a couple seconds before eating them in the morning. I think they are even better warmed up!

Nutrition per cookie. Servings per batch: 31

Calories: 63

Fat: 3g

Carbs: 7g

Protein: 3g

Sugars: 2g

E N J O Y!

xo,

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I Accidentally Stole From Target & Other Recent Happenings

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

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

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

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

Ok, exhibit A….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DJ had the Mad Dog!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

((BIG HUGS))

Blog Birthdays:

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

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

xo ❤

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Nursing: Peace in the Chaos.

Do you ever have an endless stream of thoughts that you want to share but are not sure where to even begin?

That’s me right now.

In my last post I mentioned that I wanted to divulge about the past couple months, my journey with nursing, about how I’ve both regressed and then grown in my faith, and how I have learned more in just a couple months than I do in a typical year…

I have a lot to unravel, it may take the full seven hours of traveling honestly. I’m treating this like a diary post, and I know it will be long. I will not hold it against any of you, even my loyal readers if you skip it.

But today I just need to write.

I need to write and record the transformative period that is my existence right now, and share the tremendous ways God has been moving in what seems impossibly bleak circumstances. I also know some friends and family that are going through this similar transition, so I hope to offer some encouragement to those individuals as well.

So, nursing. Nursing, nursing, nursing. I always compare this to an emotional rollercoaster, and all I can say is what. a. ride. While I may start off kind of explaining the gargantuan obstacles, it’s amazing what I have learned through it! This is not a venting session, but rather the most raw, honest insight into the life of a new nurse, and how I am slowly, but surely, learning to cope with the hardest year of my life.

Neurosurgical nursing is notoriously difficult, and our floor is no exception. I deal with a number of critically ill patients. For example, a patient’s nausea can be a simple side effect of their pain medication, or it can mean they are developing increased intracranial pressure; if I don’t assess it correctly, they truly could die on my watch. We have patients that have drains coming out of their brain’s ventricles and spinal cords. If they sit up without letting me know they are repositioning, they could drain out their own cerebral spinal fluid, and have dire consequences. I’ve had patients that seize, and I watch as the oxygen saturation plummets, while I hold them on their side. They sometimes go still and for a second, I panic- thinking for they are dying right there in my arms before their oxygen creeps back up. Fear gnaws at me, an unwanted tumor that relentlessly impedes on my emotional well-being and my life. I give so many medications constantly, so even when I triple check before giving anything, I am always afraid of making an error. In nursing, there is infinite room for error, countless scenarios that could potentially go wrong. It leaves me, a brand new nurse, perpetually terrified.

Every day I wake up to go to work I know I will make a mistake or have some type of failure. I was not prepared for this when graduating nursing school. I knew that I would have a massive learning curve, but I didn’t realize that making mistakes was part of the job. No worries- nothing that has compromised my patients’ well-being, but I always fail in some way. This isn’t some pessimistic self-fulfilling prophecy, but the reality of being a new nurse.

Do you ever have those dreams where you can’t run or talk or scream and feel stuck in quicksand? That’s how I feel majority of days on my shift. I know exactly what I need to do but one thing after another impedes me from moving at the pace I would like. Say I have my morning meds to give to four different patients. I have a one hour window to give those meds. A realistic, typical day goes like this- I step into my first patient’s room to do assessments and give medications. My phone rings, another patient wants their blood glucose checked and their insulin because their meal tray has arrived. I glance down wide-eyed at the twenty pills sitting on my workstation on wheels and can’t leave until I give these meds. Hence, my patient down the hall will have to wait at least fifteen minutes before they can start to eat. Overwhelmed. I go down to see the patient and give them their insulin, and then they ask for their food to be microwaved (understandably so). They also want to use the toilet, but it takes twenty minutes to get them out of bed, to the bathroom, and back. I wasn’t assigned a nurse assistant to said patient because they are technically mobile. They also want a bed-bath, their teeth brushed, and me to fill them in on the “plan” for the day- which is all totally understandable, but at this point I have to explain that I will come back as soon as I finish up with the other patients. Frustration. As I leave they ask for their pain med, so I have to go back out down the hall to the Pyxis, grab their pain med, and come back. I get a page from the front desk, “your patient in room#__ is de-sating” (an emergent situation). Panic. I explain I must leave although I have their pain med in hand and run down the hall to make sure my other patient is getting oxygen. I look at the watch. It’s 0830. I still haven’t seen my last patient and rounds with the doctors are at 0845. I dive into my last patient’s room and quickly grab a set of vitals because our sepsis screens are due by 0900. Overwhelmed. As I hand my patient their med, I get a call from a patient’s family member wanting an update on how their loved one did overnight, but I can’t remember all the facts pertained to which patient in report. Confused. By the time I get back to the other patient to give them their pain med their pain has spiked from a 5 to a 9 on that 0 to 10 scale. Incompetent. It’s one big game of whack-a-mole, and I feel like the weak little four-year-old that keeps fumbling with the hammer in an arcade. Except I have ten hours left in this arcade.

I have so many moments like this that I freeze like a deer in the headlights. I start to go into a panic, I can’t see straight, I can’t breathe, I wait for my knees to buckle out from under me. I can’t stop the tears from coming. I duck into the break room and let the attack pass. I suck it up and step back outside. I’m supposed to smile and act like I have it all together in front of my patients. Nothing is supposed to rattle me, but everything does. I wear my emotions on my sleeve, so this is quite difficult for me. A colleague asks if I am ok. I wish they hadn’t asked because that question gets me. I can’t respond because if I do the tears will start again. I failed. I let my emotions show. The rest of the shift is one thing after another. I don’t sit down until 2 pm for a 30-minute lunch.

At 1730 the float offers me a break. We aren’t allowed to chart off the clock, but my charting isn’t done. I use my last fifteen-minute break to frantically chart. Exhaustion.

At 1830 I still have a list of things to get done, but change of shift is at 1845. I’m in my patient’s room in a hot sweat trying to get their antibiotics hung, their last meds given, and their lumbar drain checked as the night shift nurse anxiously waits for me to give them report. The family members asks, “rough day”? I failed again. I failed miserably. I let my feelings show in front of a patient. No one told me how much acting is involved in nursing.

I go home filled with guilt that I was so busy I didn’t connect with one of my patients. I replay the things I did wrong over and over. I can’t turn my mind off. Guilt. Fear. I wake up in the middle of the night in a pool of sweat. Panic. I think I’m supposed to be charting, DJ reassures me I’m at home and not at work. I get texts from friends asking to hang out on my day off and feel guilt saying no because all I want to do is sleep. Guilt. Failure. I’m drowning. Exhaustion. I slip into a dark place, the depression that I experienced in high school is creeping back, suffocating me. Darkness.

This is the reality. I am not able to handle this on my own. And about two weeks ago, I realized it. I came to the conclusion that I would not be able to make it through the rest of this year unless something changed. I gave myself a hard look in the mirror and realized what was starkly missing- time with the Lord.

Since I’ve started this program I haven’t opened the Bible or prayed much at all. I don’t know what it is about stressful periods of life that I just stop actively seeking God.. it’s weird. I think it’s possibly this selfish defense mechanism, or maybe I just want to be numb and engaging with the Creator of the universe kind of doesn’t allow that. I think I also feel as though I don’t have the energy to invest or something, but it’s so ironic because all God does is renew and refresh when you devote that time to Him. I decided that I would recommit my mornings to Him, and it has transformed everything for me.

I decided to read 1 Peter. I have no idea why. I never spend much time there. I don’t even remember consciously choosing it. I read it once, then read it again, and again. God knew exactly what I needed right when I needed it. There were certain verses that blew me away; the Holy Spirit undeniably was directly speaking into my circumstance. This happens every time I spend time in the Word, but it nevertheless continues to amaze me each time. It is the living Word for a reason.

The first verse that jumped out was verse 5, “This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power”. The idea that I am shielded, guarded, and protected by God’s power each day I step foot onto that nursing floor gave me a great sense of peace. I felt like I could take a deep breath. I actually had a conversation with my sister Andrea (who always brings the wisdom) and when telling her my fears she said, “Kenz they aren’t just your patients”. At first I thought she meant they have a team of doctors and other nurses on the other shifts that care for them. I quickly went to the defense “but they are my sole responsibility in that moment”, but she jumped in saying, “No- you are not alone, they are in God’s hands too.” Woah. So true, but why hadn’t I thought of that? I’m not alone. It really hit home for me when I read this verse. I am shielded by God’s power. He has called me to this place. I can’t do this in my strength, but I can in His strength (Philippians 4:13). And what a relief that I don’t have to live in intense fear. (2 Timothy 1:7). That fear is not in line with walking with the Lord.

Then verse 6 and 7 continued speaking into my circumstance.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” 

Um, hi. This is the greatest trial of my life! Grief has become quite the familiar acquaintance. So naturally this verse grabbed my attention. Why does God have me here going through this painfully difficult time? Why did he call me to this profession? Why does it have to be so hard? I could have chose from plenty of other directions or majors, why this?

Those questions were answered by the second part of the verse.

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

This verse woke me up. These trials that I’m experiencing will only strengthen my faith- which I can say, without a doubt, is true. If I wasn’t going through this time, I wouldn’t see how much I need Christ daily. I wouldn’t feel that I was hitting rock bottom with only Him to lean on. But then there is a responsibility attached to this- we are to bring praise, glory, and honor to Christ through it. The whole reason I went into nursing was because I believed it was my place of calling and ministry. In the two and a half months of working, I haven’t been ministering in any type of way. I haven’t been looking for ways to have conversations with patients about Christ, I haven’t been offering to pray over them, and I haven’t been praying myself asking the Lord to give me His eyes and heart and courage to offer to make a difference for Him. But when I read this verse, I realized my perspective has been all wrong. I haven’t surrendered this career to Him, and I haven’t surrendered this blessing to Him that He brought me, that I begged Him for. This career is not about me, but I was making it about me for the first couple months. That changed with reading this scripture.

The last couple verses in the first chapter that I underlined many times was verse 22 “… so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” And then verse 24, “For all people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

This last verse might sound a bit off-putting in our human nature. But I found such great relief in it. The fact that this life is not about me, about my accomplishments, about my success relieved such a great weight. All I am called to do is love fiercely in Jesus’ name and bring Him glory through sharing this love with others.

The last verse I want to share (although there are countless others that really spoke to me) is 1 Peter 3: 13, “Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?”. Since beginning this job I have had this strange mindset of waiting for the next shoe to drop (my irrational fear of getting sued or fired). I may not be perfect, but I can say I am tremendously eager to do good. This brought me peace- God knows my heart, He is my strength, and He will protect me with His shield of power. Wow. My perspective shifted. I felt like I could breathe.

On the way into work that morning after reading these chapters, I was ready and even eager to get to get started so that I could approach the day with courage be this love to my patients and my coworkers.

Here’s what happened…

I arrived at work and glanced at my assignment. I did a double take, convinced they made a mistake. I was assigned to the NCOR room (neuro close observation room). This room is where the patients require eyes on them literally 24-7, the most unstable patients on our floor. The nurse is isn’t allowed to leave the room, and if she/he does, then she must be replaced by another nurse, even to use the restroom. I didn’t think we would be placed there until further along with more experience, although we technically oriented for a couple weeks in the room.

A week prior, or even a day prior, I would have seen that assignment and immediately been thrown into a full blown panic attack. Rather, I looked at it and felt excited because I knew this was just an opportunity to rely on Christ, to love people in a scary point in their lives, and to grow my faith.

It ended up being one of my favorite shifts. I grew close to nearly all the patients and families, I took initiative, I kept a smile on my face, but I wasn’t faking it, even in the midst of the craziness.

Every shift since I have grown deeper with my patients. The best moments are the moments I get to pray with my patients. I had one patient who was not exactly kind toward me and wearing me down a bit emotionally. At one point at the height of my frustration I just offered to pray for him. He seemed stunned and allowed me to. This opened up the door to a great conversation about church and faith.

Another patient expressed to me her doubts about God’s existence. I shared with her how just a year ago I was in her shoes. I assured her that God would make himself known to her, and I would be praying for her. Tears rolled down her face and began welling in mine as we shared this moment together. That shift ended up being one of the most chaotic, one where I didn’t get my meds done on time, one where I felt like I was drowning, possibly the worst shift I’ve had yet. But even if I did many things wrong, I know I loved right.

The opportunity to love deeper had been there, I just hadn’t seen it in my selfishness, my distorted perspective. The shift loads are the same, maybe even worse, but I see each challenge as an opportunity, not an obstacle. My purpose for being where I am is clear now. My purpose in this life, this career, is simple, but I was blind it. It is simply to love. Not to be perfect, not to start flawless IVs, and especially not to be comfortable- because God very clearly calls us out of our comfort zones, and nursing is the furthest thing from comfortable. Additionally, no one has changed the world or a life while being in their comfort zone. So, I don’t wish for that. I will embrace the exhaustion, I will learn to forgive myself and look at each mistake as an opportunity to learn, I will be eager for constructive criticism and invest in a heart of humility. I will see this year through, even when I want to quit, I will not. I know I can make it because I have someone omnipotent holding me through those twelve-hour days, I have someone omniscient that can help me think clearly, I have someone omnipresent who will continually wrap me with peace in the chaos. I will fail at times, but I am following the One who never does.

Thank you all for your prayers and support through this time. I am thankful beyond words, truly beyond what I can express, for all of you. All Glory to God.

Lake Tahoe Travels!

HAPPY SATURDAY!

I am so excited to share this travel post with you all. There is a ridiculous amount of pictures and detail in this post, but Tahoe deserves nothing less! I also love my travel posts to be super informative for anyone that might go to one of these places in the future. It was one of the most gorgeous places I have ever been. I tried to capture the beauty, but the pictures do not even do justice! 🌲

DJ and I discovered early on last week that we both had last weekend off (6/10). It’s the first weekend we both had off at the same time since I started my job in March. We took full advantage and planned a trip to Lake Tahoe. It just sounded like the perfect, most peaceful location to go to get away from the chaos of our everyday.

The drive in alone was a special experience. The views were awe-inspiring. With every turn, ascent, and descent, we were accompanied on either side by an endless sea of trees, waterfalls cascading in the mountain sides, and snow comfortably resting atop the vast mountains illuminated by the Tahoe sun. I half expected a greeting from bobcats, rams, and fox as it felt as though we had stumbled upon a real world Cabelas.

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We had dinner arrangements, but wanted to drop off our luggage at the hotel first. I use the word hotel lightly here. With my improptu planning, I found somewhere on Groupon for dirt cheap. Ya’ll know I swear by Groupon. I haven’t had many, or any, bad experiences with Groupon. I found a place that looked decent on their site, but didn’t do too much research (A. I didn’t have any time and B. Everywhere else was $$$$$).

Welllllll—– when we arrived it was…. *dramatic pause* not quite a “romantic getaway”. The entire building was entirely dilapidated, the sketchiest of folk were hanging out in the corridors, the lobby smelled of a mix of cigarettes and mildew. I sent a quick text to DJ at check-in, “I am so sorry!”. He assured me it was fine, and we just had to see our room before making any judgement. Once we finished checking in, which took an hour in and of itself, we lugged our luggage to our room (We had to take an elevator that I was convinced was going to break under the weight of my skepticism). The whole way there I was panicking, What have I done, I thought. DJ was being somewhat optimistic, and just kept saying, “let’s just see what the room is like.” When we stepped into what I was expecting a cozy, romantic lodge with an overlook of the lake we were blasted with the most horrendous smell, a moldy bathroom, dusted furniture, and bent curtain rods with haphazard curtains that looked as though they were bought from a garage sale…. a garage sale from the fourties. I broke down in tears, not sure from emotions or from the severe allergens in the room. Our one weekend we finally had together I was convinced I had ruined. We had a reservation at our restaurant at 6:30 pm, and it was currently 6:00. We brainstormed what to do, going back and forth between staying or finding somewhere else. We finally decided that since we didn’t know the next time we would have this time together, it was worth it to make this trip something nice and decided to swallow the money.

We quickly booked another hotel at somewhere nearby and took a deep breath. Time for dinner. **PS. I hear Air BnB is a great option for Tahoe!** **PSS. One day we WILL get the full on camping gettup!**

I put on my forest green laced dress and finally had the chance to paint my nails! I don’t ever have my nails painted for nursing, but was so excited that I finally could pull out some of my favorite dark brown Zoya polish for the occasion. Naturally, I painted my nails in the car, because that’s what ends up happening 99% of the time.

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I even put on my fern earrings to really get in the spirit 😉 DJ always slightly pokes fun at how “all in” I get about encompassing the idea and essence of different events/holidays/etc.

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We headed to Edgewood Restaurant, which provided one of the greatest meals of our entire lives. That’s a bold statement ya’ll.

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The snow capped mountain and icy blue water views alone were fabulous. I felt like I could breathe for the first time since starting my job. It was as though the earth was back on it’s axis and I could actually be, exist, in the moment.

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We joked that they knew I was coming with Himalayan salt readily available, an assortment of olives, and sea salted herb and ciabatta bread. Olives, bread, and salt. OK- all we need is red wine, and this girl is set!

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It was the most tremendous start to any meal I have ever had.

Next, I know most times when we go out we avoid the meat based appetizers (considering I’m pesce). I told DJ I wanted to order something that had a meat base since we never usually do. (I also mayy have been trying to make up for the minor hotel fiasco). A bit surprised, but obliging, we ordered the lamb ragu with gnocchi and wild mushrooms.

Excuse me…

I needed to go get napkins to wipe the drool off the corners of my mouth as I reminisced..  🤤 This dish was heavenly. I didn’t try must of the lamb, but the gnocchi and mushrooms alone blew me away. The flavor was dynamically savory- bringing that word for me a whole new meaning!

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DJ and I both followed the appetizer with the Chilean Sea Bass over lobster bisque with fingerling potatoes. Basically all good things on earth on one plate. HOW. I told DJ on the spot this was hands down the best fish dish I have ever had.

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There was a couple that was looking to get their picture taken at the table next to us. I jumped in to ask if they would like us to take it for them since the waiter seemed busy. We headed outside and chit chatted briefly. It allowed for us to grab some pictures of the brilliant sunset as well.

They asked us if we had the halibut for dinner. I excitedly said “Yes! It was SOOO good”.. I went on and on about how it was the best dish of my life only for DJ to whisper to me that we had the sea bass. Whooops. 🤷🏼‍♀️😂

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When we left Edgewood, we headed to our new hotel. This one did not disappoint, not one bit. We HIGHLY recommend The Landing, voted the #1 Boutique North American Hotel, with good reason. It was absolute perfection.

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I loved the detail and care that went into each room. It was unusual, eclectic, modern, and yet cozy. The fireplace was my favorite part.

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Nowwww I may have created one more dilemma, which thankfully we laugh about now. I decided before bed I wanted to try to use the Jacuzzi, so while it was running, DJ and I stepped out on the balcony and see what views we could see from the room. When we stepped back in, I saw water overflowing from the tub. Then the phone rang. The front desk asked if we had any kind of water leaking. The tub literally filled in .5 seconds. We couldn’t have stepped out for more than 3 minutes. We frantically used every single towel we had to sop up the floor. Apparently it was leaking through to the room below. It was one of those moments where I didn’t know if I should laugh hysterically or cry.😂

To make it worse—- when we called back to see if it was taken care of below the lady informed us it was a bride and groom below us, that apparently were too inebriated to care at the moment, but we still wrote them a note apologizing and tried to compensate them for any issues. Maybe I was just trying to help?! Don’t they say rain on your wedding day is good luck?! Rain into your bedroom must be like the BEST luck, ya?!?

Two strikes in one day for me guys. ROUGH. DAY. 🙌🏻

Just kidding.. it was an absolutely amazing day, I simply share these mishaps because I think they are hilarious!

After getting a  fantastic night sleep, I got up a bit earlier than DJ and headed down to squeeze in an eight mile run before the festivities ensued for the day.

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This was the view from the Treadmill. GORG.

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On our way out of the hotel, we asked one of the employees where the best breakfast spot was. He recommended Heidi’s, and if a local says this is the place to go, count us in!

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This pancake house was super quaint, 50s/60s vibin’ with Christmas lights strung year round. I loved it. The line was out the door, and clearly was the place to be for breakfast. We only had to wait about 20 minutes, surprisingly.

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We tried their homemade blueberry muffin and biscuit.. yurm. Not quite on Cracker Barrel level (which we have lately been craving since there are none out here).

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However, this Veggie Omelette blew my taste buds away. The waiter recommended their house potatoes with onion and garlic- I understood why quickly- suh guuuuud!

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DJ ordered their short stack and said they were some of the best pancakes he has ever had. He is always on the hunt for some doggone good cakes, but it’s hard to find ones that he loves! Soo for him to say these were some of the best was both shocking and demanded that I try an obnoxiously big bite nibble.

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They were light and airy, and yet full of buttery, sugary, and delicious flavor. I agree- some of the best! Also makes sense why they deem themselves a pancake house!

After breakfast we headed to Eagle Falls Trailhead to hike and soak up some views. There are endless trails to go to in the area, but EFT seemed decently close to us (about a twenty minute drive) and had good reviews.

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After passing a renaissance fair (which I hard core tried to convince DJ to go to with me, but it was a no-go…. not even the lure of giant turkey drumsticks could get him to go, darnit)… we scoped out for a place to park the car.

Parking was a boogar, but we lucked out and found some right near the trailhead after searching for a few minutes.

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We had a blast exploring. Being in nature is 100% relaxation time for me. I love getting my adrenaline up with climbing and jumping through the cliff sides, over waterfalls, and feeling like a child again, exploring the earth’s crevices- the most magnanimous playground.

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I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves, although like I said, they still do not do justice!

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We were wrapped by the chilling, yet soft, breezes that at times carried snowflakes. I haven’t seen snow in wayyy too long. I thought I would never miss the cold moving out here, but the cold brought me solace, and I absolutely relished in it.

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After our wilderness exploration, we decided to explore the downtown area as well. To start off, we needed to refresh with some throwback sodas from the Old Fashioned candy store- Rocket Fizz (love that place. I always have to stop in when I see one!).

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I adored all the shops and downtown stores. DJ and I had fun perusing the boutiquey stores, art shoppes, and became quite inspired for Christmas gifts in this year to come.

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There was live music playing always within ear shot, and chair lifts occasionally would fly above our heads. I can’t imagine what this is like in the winter! I also love that the city seems to keep up it’s Christmas lights year round. It felt like we reverted back in time to a little Christmas vacation with the chill in the air, the lights, the chair lifts, the lodgy hotel, and the magic of the snow capped mountains.

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I keep mentioning Christmas, but it REALLY felt like December!

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After exploring little downtown Tahoe, DJ and I went back and snoozed for a couple hours. We were exhausted from the early start and hike.

It felt soooo nice to turn up the fireplace and take a NAP. Guys, I cannot remember the last time I actually took a nap. Seriously, I cannot remember.

In the evening, DJ and I took off to go to a Wine tour.

Funny story… when the Uber dropped us off at the pier from Google maps, we could not find where we were supposed to go. I watched the clock tick closer and closer to our departure time. I started freaking out and when the time hit ten minutes to departure, I went into full on panic mode. I just looked at DJ and realized we could not find the pier and I took off in the only direction we hadn’t explored. #FLIGHTORFIGHT. Literally- I was running in the opposite direction like a chicken with its head cut off. In the meantime, DJ kept his cool, called the boat, and found out exactly where to go. As I was in my dedicated sprint, I called the same number hurriedly.

Me: “HI!.. My husband and I booked a wine tasting tonight, and we can’t find the pier, and I know we are supposed to be there now!”……

Staff member: “I think we just spoke to your husband, are you by him by chance?

Me: “I am running back toward him right now”

Staff member: “Ok- see you two soon!”.

Lemme jus say- DJ gave me a hard time about that one. Heck, I can’t help it- I’m a runner. When I don’t know what to do, I just run!

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We boarded the intimate Golden Rose. There were three other couples with us, two from NY and one from Redwood City, CA. We actually ended up exchanging numbers at the end and are potentially grabbing some dinner together soon!

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The wines we tried were phenomenal, but even more intoxicating were the serene views of the lake.

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The rainbow clouds, mountains, and eagle nests all in one landscape were unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

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Just hours before we were looking down on Emerald Bay, and now we were actually on it!

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We packed cheese, crackers, and hummus as we floated along.

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Naturally, I was convinced we should move here. I inquired about the nearest hospital in our Uber. I am still pushing for it… *cough cough, hubby*….

After the tastings we had to have some good dessert. I did some serious research and found that Riva Grill had some flame options.

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We stopped by and placed orders for some insanely delish cheesecake and deep fried oreos- Hello all things good.

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We ended our evening with the hottub, which luckily we got to ourselves. I think most people headed home Sunday night because it seemed pretty quiet come Monday.

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In the morning I ran a quick 9-miler and then we headed to the Driftwood Cafe, a notoriously yummm place for brunch.

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I ordered their veggie omelette with parmesan and sprouts on top with cottage cheese and their bran blueberry muffin on the side. It was the quintessential hearty & heathy breakfast.

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DJ ordered the Carolina Connection which included two potato pancakes topped with grilled ham, two over-medium eggs, and country gravy served a buttermilk biscuit. I tried a bite of the gravy which was annoyingly good.

Let’s just say we both left with beyond satisfied tummies.

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And then it was time to head back to the real world. This trip gave me the rekindling and energy to move forward. I needed this time desperately with DJ and feel even closer to him after this trip. It also helped put things just a bit more into perspective. Life is still good. I can’t wait for the next time we can explore the world together.

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Blog Birthdays: (I thought I would have this post out last week, so I’m a bit late to sending out my love to these ladies!) I’m so thankful for all your friendships! ❤

K.M. from AnkhorYou on June 13th. Happy FREAKING birthday to this lovely lady who constantly inspires me with her vulnerable, beautiful writing, her endless pursuit of adventure, fashion, historical knowledge, and sage advice. She encourages me and those around her and spreads magic in this world with her mermaid glitter. Thank you for being here and being such an amazing friend. I LOVE YOU, dear!

Allie Zotola from LivingMyFullLife on June 14th. Ahhh- Sweet girl, Happy Birthday! I love how you share your beautiful life with us and how you always find joy in the every day. You have your priorities straight to me and are a role model of mine! Also you are the grandest cake baker and I get all my Aldi fixes from you sharing your hauls with us 😉 I hope you had the BEST day!

Tara from RunandLiveHappy on June 15th. Where to begin?! Yours was one of the first blogs I have ever followed, and I always wish we could hangout! We are kindred foodie spirits, and we must do a race together one day! Thank you for all your encouragement, especially in this last marathon! I love all your delish recipes, keeping up with your lovely family, your zest for life, and of course, the cutest pup ever- Jake! I hope this was the most perfect birthday yet 🙂

Katy from KatysLifeStory in the month of June. Katy, you are an incredibly strong and lovely woman! I am constantly amazed by you and your courage, determination, love, empathy, and ability to embrace life even when you have been through some of the hardest things in life. Thank you for your friendship and always inspiring me. I hope your birthday is perfect and you feel loved and celebrated as you certainly should be!

Last but not least,

Kori from GypsyRD on June 17th (TODAY!). HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I know we are just recently friends, but I feel like you are a kindred spirit! I love your posts, your sweet cats, your adventures, and your food combos! You are so authentic and kind and have a truly beautiful soul. I hope you have the most fun celebrating with your sister today!

Questions for you:

  • Favorite Old Fashioned Candy?!
  • Anyone been to Tahoe?!
  • What’s your favorite way to relax?

xo ❤

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Monterey, CA- Big Sur Marathon! 

I am beyond pumped to share this post about the epic marathon weekend! I didn’t mention the marathon too much on my blog leading up to it because I didn’t know if I would be able to run the race with the new job’s schedule (we work a ton of weekends). BUT I was able to get race day off and lemme tell ya, I’m forever grateful for the beautiful memories that elapsed in that small time frame. I needed this weekend too- as ya’ll know I’ve never been more exhausted or stressed physically and emotionally than this last month-so this was pure therapy.

Last minute my mom (Momma Jill) arranged to fly in for the weekend since DJ couldn’t go to the marathon with his work schedule. However, the day before she flew out she was in the hospital diagnosed with a fractured foot. I insisted  that I would be fine going alone, but I’m selfishly pretty darn glad she was adamant about coming! After all, she is my good luck charm at races! She is one tough cookie, I tell ya what. (shhhhh she isn’t wearing her boot in a lot of pictures- I may not have been the best nurse by allowing that one).

When she arrived Friday evening we headed to Rootstock Wine Bar on Main Street Cupertino.

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We ordered some bruschetta to share and a couple glasses of wine. The last time she was here, Main Street Cupertino was still entirely under construction. She was blown away by how much it had evolved! We stopped into 85-degree bakery to visually digest the exotic, massive, and drool-worthy desserts before heading back to the apartment. I will try the calamari ink roll one of these days!

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We were both pooped and fell asleep pretty early (after some ice cream, of course). DJ had some time in the morning before he had to head into work so we went to Bill’s. Surprise, surprise! It’s basically becoming a weekly tradition. You can read all my reviews about it here, here, or here.

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After a fantastic breakfast, DJ zipped to work and we began our trek to Monterey for the marathon!!!! (I kept thinking back to my and DJ’s our anniversary celebration and it made me miss him lots! During the actual race I passed the place we stayed which was pretty fun).

 

One of my favorite parts about races is the Expo! There is always an exorbitant amount of energy and excitement (plus the SWAG is pretty great too).

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This expo was pretty small, held at the Portola Hotel and Spa. There were limited vendors, but with the expo’s location there was plenty to enjoy outside anyway. I laughed because in typical Northern California style they had wine samples rather than the CLIF Bar samples you would see at most! For those that want to run this marathon in the future, make sure you stop by the Expo to pick up your Bib #, a bus ticket for the hotel you are staying to the race starting line (there is no access otherwise), and your T-shirt, of course!

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After strolling the expo, my mom and I walked around downtown Old Monterey. This town is so sleepy and quaint, even with all the commotion of the race.

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We decided to follow this sign to go to the water. We were quickly drawn into the downtown boardwalk with colorful storefronts, tourist landmarks, and each passing restaurant passing out samples of their individualized “claim-to-fame” recipe of clam chowder. My mom and I sampled all of them and were shocked at, first, how delicious they all were, and second, how different each one tasted!

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I hadn’t seen the show Big Little Lies at this point, but my friend, Kelsey, is obsessed. I started watching it this week with a free month HBO trial and cannot stop. It’s so good.

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They call me ‘The Bird Whisperer’ in these parts

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Around 3 pm we were able to check into the hotel we were staying for the evening- Monterey Tides. I found this place pretty last minute (with not being SURtain if I could make the race) and chose it because it was one of the cheapest I could find on a booking site. We were blown away by how gorgeous this place was- I kept thinking there was some mix up because this honestly underpriced!

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The hotel attendant said that it may be a couple minutes, so we decided to enjoy some drinks while overlooking the sparkling Monterey waters. My mom and I even saw our first whale!!! It was quite SURendipitious that we were staying at this majestic place!

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The room was super nice with a beachy feel- Definitely what you would expect from a place named “Monterey Tides”.

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After dropping our stuff off it was time to head to dinner. In order to not fight driving and parking, we decided to uber to the famous Mediterranean Oasis, Epsilon.

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From the decor, to the friendly staff, to the unbeatable Greek cuisine- this place was superb on every.single. level.

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ATTENTION ALL CARB LOVERS: You need to hear this. I was fascinated with their bread and dip combo. The waitress explained the way they make their dip is by actually putting sourdough bread into a food processor with olive oil, garlic, and salt (perhaps a few other secret ingredients too). Right before she walked away she said, “Just dip that bread into that bread!”. I may have to try making this at home. Talk about a fantastic pre-race carb-load meal!

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And their hummus…. hands down, no questions asked- the BEST hummus I have ever had. My mom took the first bite and I could tell by the look on her face that it was going to be just that. It was smooth and creamy- absolute perfection.

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And whenever there is octopus on the menu……

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Marco Prime’s is still forever my favorite, but this was satiating. It had a grilled flavor and almost tasted like steak. MMMM mm.

We also had to delve into their greek salad, because duh

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My mom and I split the vegetarian combo plate. Combo plates were created for the indecisive individuals in this world, like myself, so I was ecstatic to see everything we were wanting to try coming on one plate. It had imam byaldi (the “priest fainted” vegetarian eggplant dish), falafel, and dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves with rice and herbs). It all surpassed any greek food I have ever had, but the eggplant dish was particularly out of this world!

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And one can never end a mediterranean feast without baklava. Ya’ll know I am a strong believer on having a sugar-laden dessert the night before a race. Good Heavens, I can’t even explain…

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We headed back to the hotel to watch the peaceful, perfect sunset.

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We were in bed by 8:30 pm and fell asleep almost instantly.

3:30 AM my alarm went off and it was time to race! I was giddy and energized. I downed a cup of coffee and grabbed my No-Cow bar and Boom Chicka pop bag for the bus ride to the race. My mom drove me to the drop off point to pick up the bus shuttle at Embassy Suites (only a couple miles from Monterey Tides).

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The bus ride was about forty-five minutes- 30 miles south from Embassy Suites to the starting line. The race was a straight shot back north for 26.2 miles. I made some friends during the ride, everyone swapped race stories, goal times, jobs, and hometowns. The camaraderie of the Big Sur runners was unlike other races I have been. We laughed about the fact that this bus ride felt super long and yet we were about to be retracing the trek in just a couple hours. The scenery was kept secret by the dark nightly veil of mother nature, so even if you tried to get a peak of the views out the bus window all you could see was piercing black.

When we finally arrived, we still had about a mile and a half walk to the start. I had no clue where I was, but I just followed the masses of people as they unloaded off the buses.

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Finally! The starting line came into view.

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It was crowded. I get it- the forest isn’t exactly conducive to ten-million porta-potties and 4,000 people, but holy smokes, I really felt like a sardine!

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People lined the paths with coffee in one hand and a banana in the other. I love races for the people too- racing brings together all types. #peoplewatching

They provided fruit, coffee, tea, and water at varying stations around the starting line. They also have a truck for you to drop your bag with warm up clothes or anything else you need before the race that they then drive to the finish line. I loved this system!!! You just put a sticker provided with your bib number in the bag. After the race it was clear where to pick up your belongings and overall a super smooth process.

Now, if you are a runner, you know the STRUGGLE of trying to time the bathroom appropriately with the start time. You don’t want to go too early, but you don’t want to be anxiously waiting too long when everyone else is lined up at the start.

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And then it was time to begin!!! My heart swelled with excitement, my stomach filled with butterflies, and after taking the last couple days off running I was biting at the bit to get going. Considering I hadn’t trained much for this one compared to my other marathons I was hoping to at least finish without an injury.

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We started out in three separate waves, I ran in the second; the weather was pleasantly cool and the air smelled like pine and cinnamon. If there wasn’t enough adrenaline already, Highway One greeted us with the most intoxicating views at every turn. Each picturesque scene of the landscape had a way of taking your breath away while simultaneously giving you a second wind.

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I’m quite SURtain this is one of the most magnificent places that exists on planet earth.

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During these races is when I feel most myself, where I feel that all is right in the world, and all my cares dissipate with every step.

We embarked the renowned Big Sur bridge at the halfway mark .

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They even had a pianist playing whimsical tunes dressed in full performance garb!

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Around mile 15 I like to start using Gu Gel (they provide it twice during the race). I have half a packet at about mile 15, 18, 22, and then 24. It works!

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To avoid the head winds, I drafted a few different people throughout the race. Drafting works well, but you have to be pretty secretive about it, or you’ll creep the person you are following the heck out. Let’s chat if you’ve never heard of this. It’s essential for this race and saves SO much energy!

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YesSUR!

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At mile 23 they handed out the best strawberries I have ever had. It was similar to eating pure sugar! I wish I had snagged a picture!

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All done!

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Thank you, Aunt Terry, for the congratulatory beads all the way from New Orleans!!!!

Race Results!

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This was far off my PR of 3:38, but they say to add 20 minutes to your PR time with how challenging the course is (13th most challenging in the world), so I’ll take it. Plus without training for it and the stops for photo ops, I was happy to break 4 hours!

At the end of the race they handed out boxes of muffins, pretzels, cookies, minestrone soup and Sierra Nevada Beer. After races I’m not very hungry for about an hour- so we walked around a bit, basked in the sun, and then decided to head out. At this point I decided I was starting to feel my stomach growl. Warning: Once the post-marathon hunger begins, it’s insatiable for about three days!

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My mom suggested we go back to the hotel we stayed at the night before for Brunch (it was only about 11 am at this point!). She had breakfast there in the morning after doing yoga and said they had a great menu.

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She did not lead us astray! Multigrain avocado toast with poached eggs and a watermelon feta salad helped refuel the carbs, protein, and was still light enough to not upset my somewhat turbulent stomach.

And of course, mimosas are necessary after every long race.

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We headed back to the apartment and eagerly awaited DJ to come home so we could go out for a Mother’s Day dinner, since we wouldn’t actually be able to celebrate on the day of!

I was SURprised that I was actually feeling pretty decent after the race. I usually am zonked out for about two days after, but I had that adrenaline still running through my veins!

We decided to go to LB Steakhouse on the Row. I had never been, but DJ said it was delish. We looked over the menu and both agreed it looked like a great place to dine!

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I’ve walked past LB a trillion times while on the row, and their faux cow skin lined chairs always grab my eyes!

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Isn’t she lovely?!

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My love ❤

We started with their Spanish octopus, which seemed harmless, until Mama J took a big bite of that pepper right on top…

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Her face went from surprise to a twisted, tortured expression in seconds. She was not just startled by the spiciness of the pepper, but rather in literal pain. I was confused by her reaction because she loves spicy food and can tolerate spice more than most people. (We ask for the “hot” food at Indian restaurants- if that gives you an idea). She flagged down the waiter and could barely talk. She reached for anything on the table to calm the fire overwhelming her mouth. He brought out milk and she said it was helping. I felt horrible, and jokingly said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”. I was also so confused how something they could serve could be that horrendously spicy. I picked up what was left of the pepper and out of curiosity touched it to my tongue. The small portion that I had touched to my tongue felt as though it blistered my tongue (and she ate the ENTIRE pepper). I can do spice with the rest of them, and this was not edible. It turned out there was a mix up- the restaurant meant to order the sweet haberneros, but rather served one of the hottest variations in the world. Let’s just say, this was something we laughed and literally cried about. I think I will forever have trust issues with peppers after this experience.

But the rest of the octopus was great! It sorta reminded me of pasta salad!

DJ ordered lobster bisque- not our favorite (‘Cause naturally I stole a couple sips), but it was still good.

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My mom ordered the seared scallops with misty artichokes and sweet harvest orange butter. I swapped her some of my salmon for a scallop (we classy), and not kidding- one of the greatest scallops ever. I think the only ones I have personally had that has topped it were Farallon’s!

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Steak and appropriately spicy pepper for Deeeej.

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Salmon for me. This really hit the spot. The salmon was perfection and nearly melted in my mouth.

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After dinner, well I guess more during dinner, we decided Cheesecake Factory’s cheesecake sounded like a perfect finish to a great weekend. We headed across the street and all put in our orders for cheesecake to go- Original for Mama J., Oreo Dream Xtreme for DJ, and Chocolate Hazelnut for myself. I was feeling adventurous and for some reason this flavor sounded so good. I can officially say it may be my new favorite. I can’t believe it doesn’t get more love! It has such a nice moosey texture mixed with the fudgey chocolate and sprinkles of coated hazelnut. I will be getting this one again!

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After savoring our Cheesecake, we headed to sleep. Monday, Mom J. had to leave at 4 am for the airport, and I was up at 5 for work. I was supposed to have Tuesday off (which I was looking forward to rest my legs), but I ended up having to work Monday-Wednesday. I think it’s by the grace of God I SURvived because I do not know how I made it through those shifts at work!

But I do have to mention- I worked with lumbar drains this week and it was one of my favorite days yet. I am getting more in the groove of actually being a neuroSURgical nurse, and while the learning curve is steeper than the hills of Big Sur, I am feeling more competent. I also passed the EKG exam I have been studying for the last couple weeks!!!! Hence, I was able to care for my first tele patient this week and loved it! This also means I am officially done studying in all my free time and I can catch up on your blogs- watch out- I’m about to blow up ya’lls notifications and I cannot wait… I can’t thank you all for your encouragement through this crazy adjustment in life.

Last- if anyone has any questions about the race feel free to leave a comment or contact me. I know lots of you are runners!

Oh, oh, oh! AND major congratulations to my other blog ladies- Tara at Runandlivehappy and Taralynn at SimplyTaralynn for both annihilating their half marathons!!!! ❤

Blog Birthdays in May:

Kimberlee at anotetohugette

Katy at katyslifestory

I absolutely adore these two lovely ladies. Their writing and stories are inspirational, and they have the kindest hearts. I hope you two have wonderful birthdays this month!

xo ❤

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What a Hoppy Easter!!!!

Happy Friday!!!

How’s it going? I hope all your Easters were egg-cellent!

Hospital orientation ended yesterday (WHERE DID THE MONTH GO?!). All we have now is one more entrance exam next week. This coming weekend is going to be the busiest yet- I work Friday- Sunday with one eight and two twelves. Right now I am taking a quick break from the studies to whip out a post!

Before I jump into the recap I have something tragic to share………..

The legendary red salad bowl is no longer with us.

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I realized that the “post 12-hour shift” time frame is very dangerous. Not only did I manage to break perhaps one of my most treasured belongings, but I also set a paper towel roll on fire, went to the store and realized I forgot my purse when about to check-out, and I used the word “one” instead of “won” incorrectly in my Friyay faves post. #Gotocollege.

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Does anyone else go into a hot panic when they find errors in their published posts?!? It happens to me every time!

BUT, in other news! I made the last Blue Apron meal in the delivery Friday, and it was out-of-this-world YUM! (PS. if you want a $30 discount off go to the bottom of my About page!).

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Also, that same day DJ and I were egged!!!…………….

Tell me this just isn’t the most clever Easter gift of all time!

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Has anyone had Cheryl’s cookies?! They are my favorite sugar/buttercream frosted cookies out there. It was the perfect treat after a long day. I also needed to carb up for a big run in the morning!

Saturday

I mentioned in my post last week how I was going to attempt 22 miles to see if I can physically finish the Big Sur marathon on the 30th. I hadn’t been training too seriously considering I didn’t know if my work schedule would allow me to run it. But the race happens to fall on a weekend when I don’t work!

The training run actually went surprisingly okay! I am getting giddy about the actual race! DJ isn’t able to make it with work, so I was planning on driving there solo. Howeverrrrr, my mom called me yesterday to say that she is actually able to fly in! EEEK! This made me happy to near tears. I haven’t seen her since Christmas and to have that support for the marathon means the world.

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And naturally, after those 22 miles, I have an abundance of blossoming flowers to share!!

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Saturday evening I had the second portion of the Blue Apron meal. Since the baseball season started, DJ has been getting home later- more about midnight now. I spent the evening cleaning the house, doing laundry, and getting organized for the crazy week that was about to ensue. But I had Sunday to look forward to because………..

EASTER EASTER EASTER! What a glorious day. HE IS RISEN!

This Easter was quite unusual for DJ and I. We usually celebrate in Ohio, but for the first time we were here on our own with no family- just the two of us. I actually was pretty dang emotional (lol, what’s new). It all made me super nostalgic for Easters past- thinking of the Sunday services with my family, the far too competitive Easter-egg hunts I had with my sister over the years, having leisurely afternoon spring runs on those Ohio trails, and visiting DJ’s family in the afternoon (oh, and of course, devouring Mom L’s strawberry pretzel salad). I just missed everyone horribly- to a new level since I’ve moved out here. But I was thankful we had our Church family to spend some time with in the morning. That helped a ton. Our church had a fun photo booth, Boba tea, and the best people you could imagine worshipping our Lord and Savior ❤

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DJ went to Church to help set up at 5:00 am and I slept in a bit (Lord knows I needed it). After service DJ napped and I studied. It was raining outside, so it was the perfect day for naps and studies.

DJ has been fighting off allergies something horrible and wasn’t feeling pictures- but I still had to somehow document the Easter Sunday outfit, right?!

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I was itching to cook, but I simply didn’t have time with how much work I had to do for the week to come. We decided to go out instead and make it a date night. We haven’t seen each other much at all lately and our date nights just happen when we can snatch them now.

We settled on Alexander’s Steakhouse. We had been holding out for a special occasion, and I’d say there is no more perfectly special occasion than celebrating our Lord’s triumphant victory. We needed this romantic, quiet dinner to catch up on the last weeks happenings and to just be together. It was lovely, and I’ve reflected on that dinner every time I start to miss him throughout the week.

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Alexander’s is known for having some of the highest quality steak in the world called “Wagyu”. DJ didn’t try it this time, but it’s such delicate meat that they actually wrap it in linen. I found this hilarious.

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THE BREAD! Once again—-sprinkled with sea salt. Those little croissant things were our favorite.

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I decided to try a Himachi shot after scouring YELP for the “must haves”. It was good! It’s basically like taking a shot of sushi (no alcohol or anything- just fish and other stuff that I’m not sure… haha). I make it sound terribly appetizing, huh? I’m not sure I would go out of my way to order it again, but it was definitely worth the experience.

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And whenever octopus is on the menu……..

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This octopus was fantastic. But STILL, nothing tops Marco Prime’s spanish octopus in Florida. NOTHING.

We also tried their bone marrow after having that fantastic bone marrow at Orchard City Kitchen. If you’ve never tried bone marrow, you must. It is one of the most savory, umami flavors of all time.

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DJ ordered a Filet that he gobbled up real quick, so I’ll assume it was pretty great.

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I tried their featured seafood dish for the halibut.  MMMM mmm. So good.

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And we cannot forget the sides….Lobster truffle Mac & Cheese and Creamed Spinach. That lobster truffle mac and cheese may be one of my top five favorite foods I have eaten in my WHOLE life.

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Last, but certainly not least, we couldn’t walk away without dessert. We had their Matcha Cheesecake and, holy canoli, I must go back for more. DJ said he wasn’t going to have any because he was too full…. when he took his first bite he couldn’t stop. (JJ!!!!! We may need to stop in here for dessert when you visit!).

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But wait, it doesn’t stop there….

They brought out complimentary chocolates because when you give people free chocolate you win their heart. That’s why Olive Garden is so successful- the Andes mints (ok, the breadsticks may have a touch to do with it too).

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Oh, hello, complimentary cotton candy! I did not see this one coming. What is it with all the free cotton candy lately (reference to LA trip with my girls).

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That concludes our Easter Sunday

OH..before I forget! My sister-in-law’s Corgi, Pool Noodle, is in a big contest and is in ninth place! (Maybe you remember Noodle from the Christmas post?!). Anyway- I thought to myself, “Who better to ask than my amazing blogging Fam?!” If you have a moment PLEASE help her win! This is a huge deal for her little fur baby!

https://wyng.com/campaign/824307/entry/7148320

How are you all? Anyone feeling taxed lately?

Counting down to the first free day when I can sit down and catch up on your blogs too

Blog Birthdays:

Happy birthday to the make-up queen Sarah from Sarah’s Cup of Beauty on April 21st!!!! I’m so thankful for you, lady! ❤

xo ❤

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The Last Couple Weeks…

Last night after a 12- hour shift I pulled into our apartment complex, parked the car, took the elevator up to our floor and walked into our home.

“How was it?”

That was all it took. The tears just flowed. And flowed some more.

DJ jumped up from the couch and just held me.

The end of my first week of in-hospital nursing came to a close. With it came feelings of incompetence like none I have ever experienced. Those feelings of inadequacy slowly chipped away at my confidence, as though carving out pieces of my soul. After three shifts, I was broken.

I knew this was coming, mentally. I have heard it from countless other new nurses before. I won’t let that happen, I lied to myself.

Yes, this past week was perhaps one of the most emotionally draining of my life. I knew orientation would be a challenge- but I truly don’t know how I’m going to finish everything by the deadline of April 19th. We have countless skills we have to perform in-hospital, but when caring for patients, it’s hard enough to find a bathroom break, let alone demonstrate how to set up a chest tube, how to clean a tracheostomy, how to insert an NG tube, how to change a CVC dressing, set up a lumbar drain, etc.

On top of that is the physical exhaustion- the 4:30 wake up calls, the intense modules to complete on my “day off”, the desire to keep a home running for DJ and I to live in, including keeping groceries stocked and the laundry done.

But perhaps one of the most challenging aspects right now stems from the deep love I have for the people I am caring for. All that above, it’s hard to do, but oh man, it is so worth it when I can care for someone so intimately and make a difference in their lives. But out of this love I have for caring for my patients comes a desire to be freaking good at caring for them. And I’m not. I have no idea what I’m doing right now, and I am beyond frustrated with myself. One of our educators told us multiple times that we have to be forgiving with ourselves. Now I totally understand what she meant.

I forget to chart so many things. I lay awake panicking because I can’t remember if I did A, B, AND C, or if I only did A and B. I drive to work nauseas because I’m so terrified.

But it’s normal, they say.

Do I regret this choice or decision? No.

Do I wonder if I have what it takes? Yes.

Do I have to remind myself multiple times a day that God has a specific plan for me here? Yes.

Is this the first chapter of my story that has a beautiful ending where I can confidently say that I am a good nurse? I really hope so.

Ya’ll know that I’m pretty candid around here. Yes, I LOVE to make the world’s-worst jokes, and I LOVE to laugh-but I will let you know when it’s been tough tough tough. When things get stressful, I tend to go into hermit mode and cut myself off from the world. But in this past couple weeks I have worked up a serious appetite to blog. I feel like it always helps me put things back into perspective. When you can write about a situation, it gives it a tangibility and control at your finger tips. You decide what is highlighted, and ultimately you decide the perspective you have and the learning you gain from the experience. That’s what writing does for me, and it’s cathartic and healing in an essence of its own.

And although this week was so hard, I know that it will get better. I am in a learning season, and sometimes learning is one of the most trying obstacles we can face in life. Why? Because learning requires a stretch of our will, minds, energy, patience, and that is usually uncomfortable. But the awesome truth about the trials of learning is the accompaniment of growth. Lessons aren’t learned in complacency, but rather in tribulation. As is growth. So for that growth I am thankful, I need this stage to help me blossom. I need it to refine me and my character. I need it to meet new friends, lead people to Jesus, and carry out a purpose for which I have been called. One day this stage will allow me to encourage others that walk through it too.

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(Romans 5:3) Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

And in the mean time, I refuse to solely survive. I want to live, I want to thrive. I want to learn as much as I can and not let every negative, exhausting, emotionally draining situation define me or my perspective.

I also don’t write this for pity or anything- it’s simply to have a baseline for myself moving forward so I can see that growth that takes place! I know things will get better, and I hate to be negative, but it’s also important for me to be candid about these things for my own reflection! 

Hope I didn’t give anyone an extra case of the Monday blues! 🙈

Sooo, without further adieu. I would love to share some highlights of our week…

I am officially running the Big Sur Marathon!!! I haven’t officially announced it here because I didn’t know if my work schedule would allow it. To be honest, I haven’t trained much, so it may be a bit rough. If anything, I will see some spectacular views! I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself to get a great time or even finish it if my body says, “heck nah”, so we will see. I did complete an 18-miler with two minor breaks on Friday while studying on the treadmill, so that’s not too bad! This weekend I don’t work Saturday, so I might go for a 22-miler while I study! Anywho…. here are my nature-y pics from other runs during the week!

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DJ and I still haven’t seen each other much during the week. Baseball season is gearing up, so he has been at work till about 10/11 pm every evening including many weekend nights. However, Saturday March 25th, he had a lunch break (where he could actually leave the office). We met at Bill’s because where else?! He ordered the french toast croissant and I ordered the greek omelette again because I’m addicted. We missed ya, Mom and Gordie! (If you missed our awesome weekend and the full review of Bill’s Cafe, check it out here).

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For dinner these past couple weeks, I have done crockpot ribs and a combination of Hello Fresh/Blue Apron, and salads. Blue Apron > Hello Fresh by a LANDSLIDE. I used Hello Fresh because we had a promo giftcard. It was promo no-no. I mean the stuff wasn’t horrible, but it was not Blue Apron. Blue Apron makes me feel like this in the kitchen…

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NOTHING ELSE DOES THAT! 

Oh, and here are the ribs. Made with none other than the SJ Giants BBQ sauce 😉 #REPRESENT

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This meal below was easily one of my favorite Blue Apron meals of all time!!! It was a mozzarella pizza with fresh oregano, spinach, and green bell peppers. YUM. The dough was perfection too.

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Traditionally, spring has been my least favorite season. But these California blooms are poppin’!

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BEST part of the day right here. Circa 5 am. Time with Jesus, coffee, Ezekiel bread/yogurt/strawberries.

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Oh hey look it’s a nurse! Don’t let the uniform fool you. My only recommendation for anything currently is to eat chocolate and take a Tylenol.

***Unless you have liver issues. Do not take more than 4g in a 24 hour period.***

Have to protect my butt now that I have a thing called a license.

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I’ve tried to change the scenery of my study areas and resorted to hanging out in our apartment’s community area. It’s so cute, I don’t know why I haven’t done this more in the past. And I’m lovin’ those pillows.

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On one of my days “off” (there is ALWAYS something to study and do or a class to attend on our days “off”, hence the quotations), I returned a ton of the business casual clothes I didn’t end up wearing for our two big business cas. weeks of orientation. I decided to take a quick stroll around Santana Row just to be outside for a bit. So many amazing memories here. There’s this memory and this memory and this memory……. It made me happy and nostalgic all at the same time.

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Thursday night we had our church group. This is the first time I have been able to make one since the group started up three weeks ago. DJ actually was able to request to leave early and led the group for the evening. Such a stud. My good friend Danielle (from that insane hike), made Lamingtons- a traditional Australian dessert. Holy Maloly they were so good. I can’t even explain. All good things come from Australia.

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She also made Vegemite/Veggie/Bacon and cheese scrolls- Which are seriously manna from heaven, and all people need to try these before they die. Danielle is also one of the greatest bakers ever, and I think Jesus blessed me a little extra with her as a friend.

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Last night was the first date night DJ and I had since my last post (at the Socialight on March 24th). I came home from work around 8 pm emotionally exhausted and hangry as mentioned above. ***I also have to make a side note that DJ cleaned the whole house, did dishes and laundry on his first day off in a couple weeks. He is amazing.***

Anyways, there was a very specific meal I was craving- and that was Lazy Dog’s Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna over Cauliflower mashed potatoes in a curry coconut cream sauce. Luckily, DJ hadn’t ate a huge dinner so we headed over to Main Street for a late one. (Also what better place to go post 12-hour work day than Lazy Dog?)

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This was the highlight of my week. Just spending these precious, small moments with DJ. (He doesn’t like me taking his picture, so I sneak them and then post them on the internet while he’s not looking 😉 ). And then he’ll read this and I’ll get a lecture. It’s like clockwork.

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And forever, the PEET’s mug will host our Sunday mornings.

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So, today was PALM SUNDAY!!!! I needed my church family badly. They encouraged me greatly. Also, in this worship service today, I felt so wrapped in love. There is a specific reason for this… it’s amazing the way God works.

Going back a few years… the day after my dad passed away in high school, I went to church. I felt like going through the “normal” motions was just how I coped. I remember the first song that played in our worship service was “Hosanna”. I couldn’t choke out the words but my heart was singing them. It was laden with emotion and has been for me ever sense. It’s weird though, it doesn’t bring with it feelings of immense sadness and loss necessarily. It brings back the reminder that the Lord is my comfort in my darkest moments. Our church that DJ and I attend now has their own worship music from C3 Church’s elevation worship- they rarely play more “mainstream” worship that most churches know. However, this morning, while I was feeling downcast and perhaps more stressed than I have in my life, the worship team started playing this song. It just brought me such comfort- reminding me that God is my place of rest, my Prince of Peace. I felt like Jesus was reminding me that He will be with me through all of this.

DJ had to work today, but was back home for dinner (officially an anomaly).

For dinner tonight I had some leftover Seared Sesame Ahi tuna from leftover’s last night in my salad with tons of avocado and white cheddar puff pastries from Blue Apron. DJ wanted his leftover ribs.

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I spent the rest of today studying and basically trying to get organized (contrary to what the picture might say).

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The work week starts again bright and early at 5:00 am (which now feels like sleeping in compared to my hospital days). I have modules and classroom work the beginning of the week and 12-hour shifts starting Thursday.

I am so very sad that blogging has been put on the big ole’ back burner. Once orientation is over the load should lighten up a bit. I send ya’ll so much love.

xo ❤

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The Work Grind- One Week Strong!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I then thought…

BRING IT!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BUTTTTTT……….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday we went to church.


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

Ok, jumping off my soap box!

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

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

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

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

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

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

xo ❤

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Adventures of a Weekend; Memories of a Lifetime

I truly do not even know where to begin!!!! Since Thursday, there have been memories made that I will treasure for my entire life. So, without further adieu, welcome to one of the greatest weekends for the books!

It all began Thursday morning. I woke up bright and early and zipped to SF to meet one amazing individual….

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….KM from Ankhor You! I can’t tell you how surreal it was to meet this beautiful lady in person!!! She is such a gem, and truly the energy, love, and kindness that she shares through her blog she radiates in person equally. This is the first time I’ve met someone that I initially met through blogging, and I can’t stop talking about how nice it was to sit down and have a cup of coffee with her! (And of course, we met at Peet’s 😉 ).

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I also had the pleasure of meeting her lovely friend, Sarah! Ugh I wish we all lived closer so we could hangout!

Please come back soon, dear. SF loved having you guys here!  It was SUCH a joy to spend time with these two- have I made that clear?! Ok- good! I’m just glad I didn’t scare them away! Hahah.

JJ- we’re coming for you next!

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The rest of Thursday I went grocery shopping, cleaned a bit, finished up laundry, and napped (GASP!!!).

Friday, DJ’s mom (whom I’ll call Mom L for the purpose of the blog), and Gordie (Step dad!) flew into SF! They arrived at our place around 11:30 in the morning. I was giddy all morning to see them. It felt far too long since Christmas!

I have been ecstatic to show them around our stomping grounds. The last time they were here was to move us in- a time reminiscent of a giant Uhaul, an empty apartment complex, and zero food in the fridge.

BUT this time, I was able to show them the transformation of the empty walls into a livable home, and we all shared some good snacks to tide us over until dinner that night!

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You can never go wrong with cheese and crackers, can I get an AMEN?!

DJ came home from work early at about 2:00, and I had to go back to the dentist to get my final cap put on my “yellow tooth” at 2:30 (hallelujah that is over with)! Also— you know I can’t go on without pointing out the irony that I went to the dentist at 2:30—- GET IT?!

For the weekend, they said they wanted to experience all our favorite restaurants/spots since we have been here. Mom L is a loyal follower of the blog, so she knew I would have great foodie spots for us to go to 😉

Orchard City Kitchen was our first on the list!

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The first time we went here was in September of last year with a friend of DJ’s. It quickly made it’s way to the top of our favorites due to it’s rustic yet modern ambiance, it’s unique menu, and of course, it’s phenomenal food!!! The way this works is you order about four of five small dishes and share them with the table. Each bite is jam packed with flavors unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

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We started with their famous triple B (biscuits, bacon, and honey butter). I don’t know what it is about this, but it’s the kind of thing that just sticks in your memory (PUN INTENDED). The biscuits were perfection, the butter was some of the best honey butter EVER, and the bacon (I observed) was tremendous. This little dish was talked about almost every day after for the rest of the weekend.

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Next we tried the lobster dumplings. These had karashi su miso, black vinegar, fennel, and kizami nori… yeah yeah none of us really know what any of that is- but we do know they were a winner!

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Next was the rainbow cauliflower salad. This had ricotta-yogurt, beets, radish, romanesco, and curried tenkasu. It was decent, but in light of everything else at the table, it may have been a bit underwhelming. Although, I will say the mix of the ricotta yogurt and curried tenkasu was a wonderful combination! The spices of the tenkasu and the coolness of the yogurt was the perfect balance.

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Ready for your mouth to really start watering? This is the spaghetti & calamari dish with bolognese, fried calamari, and parm. I tried a small bite of the calamari and the spaghetti- Wowzers Mctrowsers. So yum.

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We also tried the adobo pork shanks. This was accompanied by pickled green papaya relish, li hing mui, puffed rice, and cilantro. I did not try the pork- but everyone seemed to love it. I can attest, however, that the accompanying salad was mangifico.

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The last thing we tried was the torn salmon with charred avocado, cucumber, kumquats, black pepper sauce, and tzatziki. This was terrific! Quite possibly some of the greatest salmon I have ever tasted.

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We came home and watched some of the OJ Simpson documentary on Hulu while our food digested. It’s long, but captivating beginning to end. Anyone seen it?!

Once we had a bit more room, we headed to …. *drumroll*.. CREAM! (They said they wanted to sample the best, so no judging for us being here twice in less than a week 😉 ).

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And just to prove to you all how cool my in-laws are, guess what they ordered?! The formidable Sundae of Champions!!!!

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SO proud ❤

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DJ ordered an ice cream sandwich, so I nibbled a bit on his.

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My phone went ballistic when we got home and wouldn’t turn back on. Especially with this new job starting I tossed and turned all night worrying about my phone.

On Saturday morning, I went for a nice long run to work out the nerves. DJ had to work for a few hours, and Mom L recommended that we could go in and get a new phone. I didn’t want them to have to go to the store with me on their time here, but they were incredibly gracious standing with me as I figured out the new phone situation. It all was for the best because it allowed me to grab some crisp photos for the rest of the weekend!

After working up an appetite figuring out the new phone, we headed to Bill’s Cafe! (This one probably looks super familiar as well). I knew this place would not disappoint. DJ finished up his morning shift and met us just in time to order!

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We started with yummy coffee and Bill’s Famous Mimosas!

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Mom L ordered their Bread Pudding French Toast. This is their famous bread pudding baked with walnuts and raisins, dipped in a rich batter and grilled to perfection, topped with fried banana and a special bread pudding sauce. They have a disclaimer next to it- “Only served at Bill’s”. Mom L raved about how good it was, and when I took a bite, I understood why. Ohhhhhh my lanta. Even if they do serve bread pudding elsewhere, this one, I guarantee, is the best.

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Gordie ordered their Parisienne French toast which was a croissant baked fresh daily in their oven, dipped in egg batter and grilled, sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. (This is what Danielle ordered when I went with her after the hike!). I raved about it in the last post! Gordie concurred that it was rave-worthy and worth the hype.

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DJ ordered their chocolate chip pancakes! Cannot go wrong with a classic!

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I ordered their French Garden Omelette again with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and avocado. I usually try to order different items each time I go to a restaurant, but I couldn’t resist. It was just too delish last time and it was hitting my “crave” buttons. I ordered the dish with egg whites this time and they were just as tasty as the regular eggs from last time. I also tried the potatoes, and although I loved their hash-browns, these potatoes were on a different level!!!

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After our beyond satisfying breakfast we made the gorgeous drive down the 280 into SF. (In California highways are referred to as “The”, which I’m having a hard time adapting, but I’m giving it my darndest!).

Once we found parking (which is always a feat), we headed to the Ferry building. I was showing Mom L the different shops and pointed out the Peet’s where I met KM. Two seconds later guess who I spotted?!

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Her and Sarah! SO crazy! It was a wonderful unexpected treat to see these two beauties again! They were about to travel home for the evening, but I was glad they had such a great time in the city. Naturally, K and I grabbed one more picture together for the road. I cannot wait to read her posts!

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While walking around, we couldn’t believe the weather was actually this perfect. It’s been a record breaking rainy season, so we just kept saying Mom and Gordie brought the good weather with them and would have to move here so it stayed this nice!

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We enjoyed the brilliant sunshine and energy that it brought out to the pier. Everyone seemed to be in a fabulous mood, and the pier was filled with artists, musicians, painters, and street vendors who filled the roads with creativity and scents of delicious wafting food.

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And of course we had to peruze the notable Pier 39.

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DJ’ favorite part of the pier is viewing the sea lions. They are hilarious to watch. Free entertainment right there!

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Ok- are these two not the cutest ever?! Ah, I just love em’.

For the evening, DJ suggested we do a twilight cruise! It’s impossible to pick a favorite part of the weekend- but this cruise was undeniably a glowing highlight!

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Our photogenic little bird friend

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Selfie with the photogenic little bird friend

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The views from this cruise coupled with the stupendous day created an experience nothing short of magical. We passed under the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, AT & T park, and The Bay Bridge!

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I love these pictures below so much 😂 if you can’t tell it was a bit windy!

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Once we watched the sunset, we headed down to the main floor to grab hor dourves and drinks. They had us under the impression that light snacks were being served- but we easily made a scrumptious dinner of their fruit and cheese board, hummus, crackers, sandwiches, spinach pastries, and wraps.

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The view of the city transformed from a glowing reflection of the oranges and reds of the sun into twinkling lights of the skyline. The Bay Bridge lit up and majestically provided a gleaming point of reference as we sailed on the moonlit Pacific water.

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After the cruise and discussing how this would be a night to remember forever, we braved our way through the cold (50s) to Ghiradelli square. You could follow the scent of chocolate (and use your GPS just a little) and find your way!

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After peaking around the plethora of cutesy shops and boutiques, we somehow found ourselves in line for their World Famous Hot Fudge sundae. Imagine that! 😉

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The picture I think speaks for itself. If you are a hot fudge sundae fan, add this to your food bucket list!

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We ubered back to where we parked and all slept like babies that evening.

Sunday morning we went to Church all together. DJ and I were thrilled that we could share our church with them. It’s a huge part of our lives living out here and it was a blast introducing them to all our friends, worship beside them, and discuss the message afterwards. When we would all go to church together in Ohio we would usually get brunch out or at home after and have great conversation over what we all gleaned from the preaching. It felt so good to do that again, only this time on the other side of the country!

This brunch included none other than Los Gatos cafe! Home of the epic, mammoth, insanely delicious cinnamon roll!

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This place has an extensive Benedict’s menu. Mom L and I each ordered one, and the guys ordered crepes!

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Poached eggs FTW!

After another memorable foodie experience we made our way down Palm drive to Stanford University. We showed them around the gorgeous campus, stopped in the bookstore, and then zoomed past the building I’ll be working in a nurse nearby. It made me feel better to see the actual place- it’s less intimidating when you can tangibly see something and it’s not some vague idea in your mind! (Vague ideas and unknowns become monsters very quickly in my mind when they aren’t put in their place!).

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The last time we were at Stanford’s campus like that was with my Aunt and Uncle– made me miss them lots!!

Anyway, as though this day wasn’t fun filled enough, we had one of the greatest adventures to come right around the corner.

Back in October when I was looking up Halloween festivities, GrandView restaurant  on Mt. Hamilton came up as a haunted place. (I don’t actually believe it’s haunted- just all to be festive)!

It ended up being one of our all time favorite dinners and memories. This is a hidden gem that I tell everyone they must experience at least once if they come out here!

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We came right on time to witness a spectacular sunset.

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One of my prayers is to look half as good as my momma-in-law when I’m her age!

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I also played with my camera a ton while being here!