Plants & Face-Plants.

Hey guys!!! I just finished up food prepping for work and am sitting back eating my usual giant summer salad. I’m pretty excited to write this update because there have been some fun happenins the last couple weeks.

April 21st I headed back to work. I forgot my lunch *sad face*, but discovered this gem in our hospital cafeteria instead. I always pack my lunch because we barely have time for our breaks so running to the cafeteria and back doesn’t make sense… plus it’s wayy more cost effective to pack. Anyway, this little gem is from Urban Remedy. Oh me oh my, so delish! If you see this out and about, snatch one! This bowl had quinoa, roasted sweet potatoe, cumin, himalayan pink salt, chickpea croutons, pumpkin seeds, and beets with tahini dressing. Lemme tell ya, a nurses lunch break is the most sacred, best part of the day (if they get it). Haha.

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April 23rd was a little “sandwich” day (a day off shift between a stretch of shifts), so basically my day consisted of sleeping and snacking.

DJ and I have been using Freshly to fill in a couple meals here with the couple codes they have for the first couple boxes. They have a southwestern bowl that I like combining with other foods- this combo was mmm mmm goood. I’m really feeling a quinoa kick lately. It just goes with everything!

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Also, from TJ’s I have started getting pickled beets and dolmas that I love combining with hummus and tofu and a slice of Dave’s Killer bread. The combo itself is killer 😉

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In the afternoon I went on a nice little jog to soak up some beautiful sun & blooms.

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The other kick I’m on is a purple sweet potato stuffed with avocado and Fage yogurt topped with cumin, paprika, Himalayan salt, and cayenne.

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After working the 24th, I came home starvin’ marvin’. I decided to whip up a makeshift pizza with the ingredients we had since all the pizza shops were closed. I made “naan” pizza with tandoori naan, tomato basil pasta sauce, sautéed veggies, and red pepper flakes (with of course some ranch… anyone else like ranch with their za?). My midwest is showing…

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And finally…. a moment to breathe for a bit on April 25th! I slept in and spent the morning cleaning up, catching up on emails, getting requirements done for grad school, yadayadayada. In the afternoon I had garlic and herb shrimp from Freshly over kale.

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On April 26th, I met up with my friend from work, Alexandra, for coffee at Voyager Craft Coffee in San Jose.

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Such an interesting place! I’m surprised I haven’t been here before now.

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The coffee and conversation were fantastic. I’ll definitely be back here for a pick-me-up!

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The sweet potato combo made another debut that afternoon.

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April 27th I woke up early and jogged my standard route and took note at how every single time I run there seem to be new flowers in bloom!

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I spent the day meal prepping again, and then had my standard massive salad for dinner. (carrots/bean burger/hummus/onions/mushrooms/power blend greens/avocado with green goddess dressing).

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The weekend at work was rough, rough, rough. Usually weekends are a respite from the craziness, but for some reason this one was ruthless. Needless to say, I was excited a couple days off. April 30th, I woke up with a twist on my sweet potato creation and instead did put yogurt & avocado over a rice cake.

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The rest of the day was spent getting Mother’s Day gifts, perusing the shops in Los Gatos, & making a bucket list for places to visit, hike, and eat in SF! I am determined to knock a bunch out this summer.

May 1st (how is it May already?!) I met my friend, Kim, at Cafe San Jose for brunchy food. Kim is also a nurse so it’s always a big breath of fresh air talking to someone who just “gets it”, ya know?

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This place is quite eclectic!

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I’ve been wanting to try this breakfast joint for foreeveeer. It had the best Yelp ratings and lived up to, no no surpassssed, the hype.

To start, I ordered an egg white veggie omelette… and oh. my. goodness…. this was the largest omelette I have ever seen. IT WAS HUGE (wait until you see it relative to the rest of the food in a couple pics).

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I also had read that trying their Swedish pancakes with ligonberry was a must. And I saw why… this was perfectly, perfectly cooked. The pancake was light, the buttery and fruity flavor tremendous…. one of the best breakfast morsels of all time. I am taking DJ back here ASAP to try this dish.

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In the afternoon I went for a nice long run.

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In the evening I made a Blue Apron meal- Mexico City Chicken Tinga Tostadas. DJ loved them! Can never go wrong with a Blue Apron meal (although I tend to make quite a mess when cooking up a storm).

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May 2nd was the last day off before another stretch of days. The day before going back to work I tend to get pretty down and feel anxious the whole day. (Sunday Scaries some might say…. but it could be any day of the week with a nursing schedule). I usually just meal prep and try to stay preoccupied with cleaning and what not. This day I was feeling extra anxious after such a horrible weekend….I had to do something to get me out of my funk, so I pulled out my SF Bucket List and tried to find something I could knock out in a couple hours. I decided to put the food prep on hold and get myself heck out of the house.

I got in my car, made sure I had enough gas in the tank, opened the sun-roof, rolled down the windows, blasted music teenage style and drove into the city.

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First stop was Twin Peaks. This overlook promises the best views of SF.

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After driving up a winding road, I parked with no problem (which is rare in SF) at the bottom of one of the peaks (there are two next to each other- hence twin peaks).

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It was FREEZING up there and so windy. I thought I was going to fly off the peak, lol. I held onto my hat and made the trek up the stairs.

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It was worth it. It provided a 360 degree view from the top. (and provided sub zero degree temps!) (Ok that’s dramatic, but it was chilly chilly!).

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After appreciating the majesty of the peaks, I headed to my next spot: The Sutro Baths.

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I didn’t think I’d been to the Sutro Baths before, but I actually had… with my friend Annie! There is a fascinating history behind them you can read here. They are situated right next to Lands End, one of my all time favorite hiking spots.

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I popped in my headphones and listened to a podcast while making the SF oasis my playground.

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In this moment when I took this picture, I embraced the warm sun beating down, had this view in front of me, and took a deep breath. I felt peace, just peace. The anxiety of going back to work dissipated for this brief moment in time.

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I came back home, feeling much refreshed, and food prepped with whatever groceries we had leftover. I made a stuffed sweet potato with leftover southwestern bowl and cottage cheese from breakfast at Cafe San Jose.

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I also prepped the second half my omelette with cottage cheese, southwestern bowl, and avocado.

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The next couple work days went well. I needed a bit of a break from the insanity that had been my last few shifts.

And this brings us to May 5th… you know what that means!! CINCO DE MAYO!!! I love an excuse for Mexican food. Can I get an Amen?!

I went on an easy run early in the morning, but suffered a nice little fall. I tripped literally over my own two feet. I fall far too often when I run. Unfortunately, this was not going to be my last tumble for the weekend…. stay tuned…

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I quickly forgot about the horrible fall as I got ready to hang out with two of my favorite people- Amy, DJ’s twin and my friend Sara y’all may remember from several blog posts.

We decided to go to Aqui, basically a Cal-Mex Panera. We had Aqui-perfected Mexican eats and drinks, awesome conversation, and plenty of laughs.

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Their veggie quesadillas were by far my favorite dish I’ve had there (which says a lot because I love all their dishes).

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When we caught the Cavs game on a TV in the restaurant, we glued ourself to the game for the last few minutes. When Lebron made that game winning shot, Amy and I did not hide our excitement. Have to represent the CLE in the CA! GOOO CAVS!

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After an unforgettable time, we went to Target to pick up sweets and went back to our apartment to watch The Sinner to wrap up the evening (woah, this show is twisted, but I love it. It’s giving off major Girl on the Train vibes).

Sunday, May 6th, I woke up bright and early to run a half marathon with Coastal Trail Runs, this one was called the Horseshoe Lake Trail Run. I ran a Coastal Train run last year and it was extraordinarily challenging because you run up a mountain essentially. I love them though because they are a great way to get some phenomenal views and have a nice long run on trails I would never dare to go on my own.

I LOVE races. Nothing puts me in a better mood. The look of pure excited anticipation.

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Now, I have to say…before the race I did think I was going to get murdered. I went on an emotional marathon before the race even began. The GPS took me up a tortuous road on a random mountain. Upon the Alexa-wannabe GPS robo-lady announcing, “you have arrived”, I found myself in the middle of nowhere. No other cars, people, or gu stations were in sight. I didn’t know what to do, especially because I didn’t have cell service.

Finally, a car slowly approached my isolated destination and I could make out a mid thirties guy with a neon shirt on, snacking on what looked like trailmix- I put my bet on the fact that he was a runner. I mean I had to be close to the start, right? I waved him down from my driver’s side and he rolled his window down. I asked if he was going to the race. In a British accent, he confirmed he was and told me to follow him but warned me the following road was treacherous. We started on a dirt road that was narrow, and I’m pretty confident would not allow two cars going in both directions. What if another car comes? I thought to myself. One wrong move, you are over the mountain. After ten minutes I found myself deeper and deeper into the mountain, the fog thickening, and my personal plot thickening. Christmas tree farms were on either side, with their Christmas decor still on full display. The smiling dirt dusted snowmen didn’t fill me with joy, but rather terror. This was the stuff of horror films.

At this point I was confident that this man was just leading my back to some obscure location to be murdered. I tried calling DJ, but the call immediately dropped. I didn’t know what to do, then he finally pulled over to the side of the road. I barely cracked my window as he got out of his car and ran back to me. He said, “You should be OK now, just take this road straight for another 20 minutes, I’m going to step on it so I’m not late”.

Another 20 minutes?! It was already 7:20…. the race started at 8:00. What the….. ? I thanked him, and he took off and left me literally in the dust. I drove at a more legal speed down the road, and finally, at 7:50 arrived at Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve, the starting point. They may want to update their online directions. Baha.

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After racing to the porta-potties, I sprinted to the start as the gun went off.

The race was horribly bottle-necked for the first couple miles, but evened out after a bit. I was awe-struck by the views, worth the 1800 feet ascent.

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I did have another fall at about mile 9. Whoooops! I can’t seem to stay on my own two feet. At the finish as DJ greeted me with a big hug, he just said, “Again?!” as he surveyed my dirt covered face, hands, and knees. Lol.

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And the best part of races….. the post race snacks!

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When I say I ate dirt, I literally ate dirt. I caught my body with my face. Haha.. I knocked the wind out of myself, so my chest still kinda hurts when I cough or turn in weird directions too. I find the whole thing pretty hilarious. Before this weekend I had gone quite a while without falling, so I was due for a good tumble.

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**WARNING: Graphic image to follow**

My knee is struggling though for sure…. not sure how I’m gonna be on it for 12 hours tomorrow.

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I ended up in 4th in my age group. After the race, DJ and I headed to Bill’s Cafe (our favorite), that now has a location within walking distance of our apartment. WOOHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

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I had a massive breakfast of my go-to French Garden omelette and a Bill’s Mimosa.

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DJ had their scrumptious crab Benedict. (Their home-fries and potatoes are the besttttt around too).

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Last evening, we headed to DJ’s family’s for some yummy grilled food & great chats. We also started a documentary called Wild Wild Country on Netflix. It’s already super fascinating after one episode. Has anyone watched it?!? Thanks for hanging in there for this looooooong post. How are you?!

xo <3

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Reunited and it feels soo GOOD!

Hey guys- Happy Thursday to ya!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Isn’t she just the cutest?!

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

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

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

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

Za’atar Zucchini Fries!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a purple potato,

xo <3

Mack