One Cheesy Birthday Weekend!

Happy Thursday, Everyone! I am pretty stoked to share this post. Last weekend was just so gouda!

Also, this time last week I was super overwhelmed, but I can tell ya I am feeling 100% better this week. Thank you for all your sweet words of encouragement, wisdom, and perspectives. Can’t explain how much they helped & how thankful I am for y’all! Okay onto the fun-filled weekend!!

Thursday the 10th I finished up my last blog post and enjoyed some butternut squash with vegan butter, salt, pepper and a slice of Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread as a little snack.

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For dinner I made DJ a Bubba burger (his favorite at-home burger) with gruyere cheese & brussels.

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I had my big ole’ salad with Nasoya marinated tofu and all the veggies in the fridge.

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I also sliced up the rest of our cheesecake thingy-ma-bob from New Years to freeze. No way we could finish it all. (I took off the top layer of the cookie to finish off though, lol!).

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Friday the 11th I just cranked out school work- it felt good to make a dent and get a few assignments done.

Saturday the 12th was the The Great Mac ‘N Cheese melt off at Soma StrEat Foodpark in SF. Amy and I had talked about maybe going, but I messaged her the night before unsure if I would be able to go with the school load. However, I got up extra early on Saturday, got my 10-mile training run in, finished my assignments for the day, then texted her since we could make the last couple hours!!! DJ and I hit the road taking beautiful 280 into the City.

MAC AND CHEEEESE TIME!!!!

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I believe they had twelve food trucks all serving their usual food and a special mac ‘n cheese dish at each stop.

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There was a Kevita stand too. I was soo thirsty after my run & the hour-drive, so I made a dash for the tent. The guys there said they weren’t actually selling them, but since they were closing they decided to give me a bottle for free- hey, I’ll take it! The apple cider vinegar is one of my faves.

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The lines were CRAZY long. So the three of us split up to different trucks.

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I stood in line to try the “tex mex mac” from the Grilled Cheez Guy.

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It was oookay. Not the best compared to the others. The best part were the candied jalapeños on top!

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Now for the good stuff! Amy stood in line to get the “almost famous” garlic (your left) and the classic with a crispy fried bacon-gruyere mac n’ cheese ball from Jackrabbit (right). Oh me oh my! They were both delicious- I could have ate that garlic one all day, but DJ’s fave was the bacon-gruyere.

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Here is the inside of it! It really was so good. And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t like bacon! Then again, this may have changed my mind…

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The three of us all joined back up in line with DJ as we ate the dishes Amy and I grabbed. The line DJ was in was the longest at the fest- I think it took about 45 minutes to get to the front to even order. While we waited and passed other food trucks as we moved up, we grabbed a couple more dishes to sample and share.

Below was the favorite of Amy and DJ’s over all! This was probably my second favorite! It is a hot cheeto mac and cheese with corn from sip n’ slurp. Corn in mac n’ cheese is soooo goood- why is that not a common thing?!

img_7314img_7010Then The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen had some BOMB crab mac n’ cheese. Wow oh wow this was good. I loaded it up with hot sauce and that added to it- yummm.

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And for what we waited a loong time for- these mac n’ cheese balls from Chef’s Food truck. These balls were deep friend m n’ cheese with truffle oil and parmesan. All I have to say is worth the wait. One of the greatest bites of anything I have ever had in my whole life. YUMMMMMMMM.

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To end, we had to vote for our faves! It was hard to choose. When you entered the fest you were given a noodle to vote for your favorite dish.

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We voted for Chef’s Truck, Slip n’ Slurp  & Jack Rabbit. The winner when announced were #1. Chef’s Truck (the mac n’ cheese ball- AMEN) #2. The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen (crab mac- I totally get why they placed!) and #3. JackRabbit (absolutely deserved to place, all their mac was out of this woooorld).

DJ wanted to take the long route back home. The views were stunning along the bay.

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On Sunday January 13th it was my 25th bday. Cue the quarter life crisis!!! DJ got up around 5 am to go help set up venue for church, and I woke up around 6 am to join up with the welcome team. It’s such a blessing to have weekends back. I missed serving & spending time with my Church fam.

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But lots of coffee was absolutely necessary!

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After church, we decided to try out one of the best breakfast spots in town for a little bday brunch- Joanie’s.

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This gem is a french restaurant in the heart of Palo Alto. In order to get seated you have to first put your name on the waiting list- I kind of liked this method rather than hunting down the host to put your name on the list.

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We knew we’d have a crazy long wait (about an hour) so we perused the Farmer’s Market right outside for a while.

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It was the most interesting & diverse Farmer’s Market I have ever been to! They had everything from dim sum dishes to avocado toast specialties and german bread. If we weren’t waiting to eat breakfast I could have found plenty to nom down on there. We’ll have to go back!

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Finally time to be seated!

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I ordered a Mimosa, and this is how it came! So cute. And it was less than $10. That is unheard of around here.

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I ordered the Tuscana omelette with zucchini, cherry tomatoes, red onions, provolone cheese, and basil pesto sauce. Goodnessss this was good. Only second behind Bill’s epic omelette. But this was a very close second. The hash-browns were just to die for. And the blueberry muffin was easily the best muffin I have ever had. I’ve raved about it to basically everyone I have come in contact with since.

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DJ had their breakfast medley and said it was one of the best brunch meals he has had in the Bay.

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We LOVED Joanie’s. I would say it is a contender for the best brunch spot in the bay, yes, even up against Bill’s.

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After brunch we decided to go the mall to look around. I grabbed a lolli from See’s candy of course!

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When we came home I picked up the mail and found the best treat ever in it! Cyranny from Cyranny’s Cove sent the sweetest holiday greetings & it arrived right on my bday- serendipitous? I think so! It made my day! She even incorporated a little inside joke to the postage, hehe <3

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In the evening I whipped up a Bubba burger for DJ & alll I wanted for my bday was mushroom & black truffle flatbread from TJ’s. I had been saving it in the freezer for my bday for a couple weeks now! I told Deej all I wanted to do was eat this flatbread, sip on some red wine, and blog for my birthday. So that is what we did!

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I added some crushed red pepper and tabasco to the flatbread, and it was so yummy. Then we just opened up some cards & gifts- It was a perfect birthday & I felt so loved!!

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Monday the 14th it was back to school full force and all I’ve done is school the last couples days since. We are gearing up for our marathon this weekend though. My mom and Pete are joining us in San Diego!

Questions for you:

  • Peak of your week so far?
  • Pit of your week so far?

xo <3

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Our Texas Christmas!

Hey All! I left off from our arriving in Texas after our Cleveland trip.

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In the evening of Christmas Eve we attended the candlelight ceremony at my Mom and Pete’s church. (Love my sister photo bombing us… It was like she was there, lol!). I realllly did miss her so much- her and Kevin went to Peru to spend Christmas with his fam. We face-timed the day of though, and it was fun to virtually meet some of Kevin’s family!

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The Candlelight service is one of my favorites of the whole year.

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The service & music was just moving- my eyes sweated a few times during the ceremony for sure. Easily one of my favorite hours of the entire Christmas season- taking time to worship & remember the true meaning of this chaotic, fun, wonderful season.

When we returned home my mom put out the most delicious shrimp cocktail & cheese with a pepper jam and crackers. Okay- I neeed to get that pepper jam! This is such a scrumptious appetizer to whip up; I’m gonna remember this for next time we host!

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I also had to share the Christmas table my mom assembled. Each set of plates is unique, and they were not all bought from the same place. Look how beautifully it all goes together though!

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I always get home decor tips/tricks from her when I visit.

For dinner we had grilled romaine with parmesan cheese and tomatoes (post the romaine scare- don’t worry it was the safe stuff 😉 ).

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For the guys, Pete made some mouth-watering lamb tenderloin. DJ raves about Pete’s grilling.

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My mom made the vegan version for us!!! Below are little seitan riblets. Gooooodness gracious, I think this is my favorite faux meat dish everr.

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We had some of my mom’s famous cornbread… I could eat this straight out of the pan with a spoon. It’s insanely good.

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Roasted potatoes with rosemary, yum!…

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And the whole doggone delicious spread!..

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After dinner we watched the movie BlacKkKlansman. It is a really thought-provoking movie, with a fast paced, intriguing story line, and a gut-wrenching, powerful ending. It’s one of those endings you forget to breathe.

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After getting a deep night sleep, we woke up to Christmas!

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Our usual pattern for Christmas morning is presents, breakfast, stockings. This year we made an Instapot egg casserole with bacon for the guys and a veggie egg casserole for us.

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Time for stockings!!  They are so sweet to still do them for us even as adults <3 Pete and my mom make one for each other each year too which I think is just precious.

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Stocking stuffers! Look at all those See’s Candies suckers! *heart eyes*

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In the afternoon, I went on a 7-mile training run.

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I don’t know what was in the air, but I was just having the smoothest of runs while I was there. Christmas night was tons of fun, but I’ll save that for the next post 🙂

Question for you:

  • What’s your favorite thing you’ve done so far this year? cheesy question, I knoww 😉

xo <3

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Lotsa Pho & Homemade Soufflé Pancakes!

** SO I wrote this post on the 20th and totally forgot to publish it, so here it is over a week later, haha**

Can four posts in 24 hours be done?! I am tryin’! I have 45 minutes before I am heading to Boys and Girls Club, so I’m gonna try to get this done really quick. Although I’ll probably publish it in a couple days to give ya a breather from all the Disney excitement 😉

After saying our goodbyes to the fam on the evening of the 8th, Amy, DJ, and I all headed to the airport at around 6 am on December 9th. Amy and I were starting to feel that ominous “tickle” in the back of the throat. We loaded up on Vitamin C packs to take with our generous 2 ounces of complimentary water on the plane.

I thought this little set up at our gate was adorable!

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Luckily the seat next to DJ and me wasn’t occupied, so Amy joined us! Unluckily, I felt like absolute crud, so I was a bump on the log and barely moved the entire flight. I studied what I could and then just slept.

The only food that sounded appetizing once we were home was pho. Pho is the ultimate comfort food when sick, especially from House of Pho (hands down the best Pho around).

I also had to get the fresh tofu spring rolls. They always look so darn good in Hunida’s posts, and had me craving some of those too. They were so tasty and refreshing. The peanut sauce was on point.

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We door-dashed it, as we had ZERO energy. I chose the vegetarian option. It was just what I was craving, and I always feel like eating spicy pho helps to clear out the sinuses and kill the bad germs. I don’t think there is any science behind that theory, but I’m stickin’ to it. I felt almost instantly better after eating the noods.

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DJ ordered a chicken pho that he really enjoyed.

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Later that evening DJ got hungry again so I whipped him up Chicken Tikka Masala with Naan from TJ’s. I always like to have fast meals on hand for when I’m not in the mood to cook. TJ’s comes in clutch with frozen meals, especially during this crayzayyy time of year. This gets a 8/10 from DJ. I absolutely love the naan. For being frozen naan I think it’s as good as it gets!

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December 10th I spent the entire day studying away. Just studied, studied, studied! In the evening I made DJ a cheese tortellini with parmesan crisps.

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I had the second half of my leftover pho. The serving they gave in this delivery was very generous!

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December 11th I took my final!!! It went really well, and I am very thankful it is behind me now. A couple months ago I was debating if I should go to Disney because of the final, but I’m glad I made it work because it would have been horrible to miss out on such a wonderful  family trip. That is something my undergraduate self would have never dreamed of doing- look Ma, I’m more balanced!

In the evening I made Deej his favorite tacos per request. How he isn’t sick of these by now is beyond me.

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I was craving fresh raw veggies since I was finally feeling better. I had a big salad with a bean burger and hummus.

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December 12th I ran some errands in the afternoon to restock on groceries. I spent the rest of the evening catching up on laundry and all that fun stuff. In the evening I made Deej a cajun style pasta. He gave this pasta a 9/10.

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On December 13th, I grabbed a coffee in the morning and went for a walk while listening to podcasts. Perfect start to the morning. I also went to TJ Maxx to peruse for gifts & get a new planner after.

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After, I zipped to Santana Row to look around there for gifts. The five level parking garage was FULL midday. That is unheard of! Tis’ the season. This reminds me why I always try to get shopping done a few weeks before Christmas. People— people everywhere…

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On my way home I ran to the post office to drop some packages off and make some returns.

Friday the 14th was a fun day! I completed an 18-miler for marathon training, and then caught up on blogging. In the evening I made DJ a Shepherd’s pie from TJ’s. He rated it a 6/10. Probably not a rebuy for us. I had my big ole’ veggie mix again. I get on kicks with that salad. Mmmmm ! I’m already excited to have it in a few hours.

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We made sugar cookies from scratch and then decorated them. I just love the cookie making tradition 🙂 I would have made more, but since we are traveling the rest of December it didn’t really make sense. Every time at this year I am reminiscent of our Mingle & Jingle. One year I would like to do something like that again!

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Saturday December 15th I woke up early, worked on a blog post while watching The Great British Baking Show and enjoyed oatmeal & coffee out on the balcony.

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Saturday was a super lazy day for us, but much needed. I don’t even remember much of what we did- I’m going to guess Arrested Development & eating sugar cookies was in the mix.

Sunday the 16th was our Christmas Creative at church. I always love the Christmas Creative every year! Our Pastor says it’s the time of year when “we let the creatives out”, hah. They tell the Christmas story through gifts of singing, dancing, acting, video, etc. The talent just astounds me.

With no in-post segue (who has time for that?) I’m sad to inform you we found out some terrible news. You know the soufflé pancakes we just discovered and are obsessed with? Apparently, that was only a pop up location. They are moving out 🙁

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WELL. Are we gonna let this get us down?! NO… heck to the NAH. We are just gonna have to make our own! I looked up a recipe for soufflé pancakes and gave them a shot. I was ambitious and tried to make them in Christmas shapes. I forgot to grease the cookie cutters, so they didn’t come out perfectly shaped (womp womp), but were still a success from the flavor and texture standpoint!!!

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They were so fluffy, light, and tasted just like the ones we had! I definitely have room to improve, but I am excited they turned out as well as they did.

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This was the second batch which looks much more like the original ones we tried from Koja.

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On Monday December 17th, I did a HITT routine in the morning then met up with our campus Pastor, Amy, in the afternoon for some lunch & to catch up. We went to SoFa, a place in San Jose that is like a nice cafeteria set up with the yummiest foods to choose from.

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We both decided to nom down some poke. I usually go for ahi tuna when I get poke, but they had octopus on the menu which I had to try. It was absolutely satisfying.

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I caught up on more blogging in the afternoon & evening.

Tuesday December 18th I woke up early. I mixed up my usual oatmeal breakfast to use up some of the food we already had on hand. I made an egg white omelette with a bunch of veggies, hummus, and a slice of Ezekiel bread with low sugar raspberry jam.

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I went for a run in the afternoon. It was a gorgeous day!

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Yesterday the 19th I was running around like a nut trying to get everything ready to go for Christmas and traveling. And that brings us to today, the 20th! We leave later tonight to go back to Cleveland. It’s a red eye so I’m a bit nervous about the lack of sleep I’m facing especially with the time change, but I’ll just take it in stride per usual.

Question for you:

  • Favorite holiday tradition?

xo <3

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