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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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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Crazy Eats & Crazy Conversations!

HAPPY HAPPY WEDNESDAY (probably Thursday now?), everyone! Thank you for all your sweet wishes to recover- I am happy to report that my hearing and ear is almost back to 100%. What a ride! I won’t take the ability to hear for granted any longer.

I’m thankful that I was sick when I was though. I start work on March 20th, so truly, if that was going to happen thank goodness it did sooner than later! I felt so isolated these last couple weeks being sick, so Friday when I slightly started turning the corner, I decided to go out for a nice run!

These trees!!!

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During the day I was able to get my butt moving and get the house clean, get laundry done, all that jazz. On my way home from an errand I spotted a little hole in the wall place broadcasting Malaysian cuisine. Naturally, I flew to YELP, and this unassuming storefront had raving reviews. As it was Friday date night, I texted DJ to see if he would be interested in trying it out. He is always down for literally whatever always, so we eagerly awaited what this Malaysian cuisine entailed.

He has been arriving home later than usual with the new job. It’s totally fine- just an adjustment for planning out dinners and everything. As soon as he walked in the door I had my shoes and coat on ready to go- I was HUNGRY hangry. We jetted to Layang Layang on S. De Anza Blvd.

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It felt authentic as they come. It was also jam packed which is always an excellent sign. The decor screamed Malaysian (at least I think? I don’t know much about Malaysia). It actually reminded me a touch of the ethiopian restaurant we tried out, but the food was not at all similar.

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Malaysian food mirrors thai food incredibly closely (which makes sense). Thai is definitely one of my favorites, so I was salivating while scrolling the menu.

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We started with their Satay Tofu, which was decent, but not the greatest tofu in the world.

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I settled on a red curry tofu and DJ tried their Hakkien Mae with thick yellow noodle in heavily flavored soy sauce with chicken, shrimp, and veggies.

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DJ, surprisingly, loved it more than I did. I’m still convinced Olarn has the BEST red curry around. I still have to take DJ there because he is a big red curry fan too.

Saturday DJ had to work, and I was squeezing in a long 14 mile run for my marathon training. One of our friends from church is moving to Oakland and borrowed our truck for the day to help with the move. As a thank you, they brought us these out-of-this-world donuts from Donut Savant. Like, holy moses, I can’t even explain— the FLAVOR! AHHH! I want to go here again and try all their flavors. The pecan one may have been my favorite, and DJ said their glazed was competitive with some of his top tiers. The one next to the pecan one is actually a candied ginger with a light vanilla frosting. It sounds like a strange combination- but it was pleasantly palatable.

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We didn’t do much Saturday night. It was rainy out and we were both exhausted. I still didn’t feel like I had my mojo back all the way and we decided to have a chill evening. I’m trying to take advantage of them while I can because I know soon they will be few and far between. I still hate just laying around without doing something productive. I get far too ancy. DJ will plead with me to relax, so as soon as I can concoct something productive to do while sitting and “resting”, I give in. I decided to go through the photos on my laptop and delete any randoms, multiples, etc. I went from 14,000 photos to about 7,000 photos. There is just something about getting rid of stuff that is like a weight lifted. I’ve had that on my “to-do” list for a looong time and it’s such a nice relief that it’s actually done!

When Sunday came we went to church bright and early. I only stayed for the first service because my ear was not hanging in there well. The noise and music sounded chaotic and the drum started to throb.

BUT. It was the commissioning service for the leaders of the church. I had been sick and had my interview, so I missed two sessions and will make them up next round. DJ graduated though, and I am immensely proud of the humble, loving, kind, strong leader he is!

When he plopped on the couch in the afternoon I made him a big lunch and then he declared he had a sweet tooth. The sun was shining (an unusual occurrence), so we decided to take a walk to CREAM! I mentioned this place in one of my VERY first posts from moving here, and we haven’t been back together since.

Long overdue.

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This place is crazy. They make the most mouth-wateringly delicious ice cream sandwiches around with endless flavors, some of which are unique like their green tea ice cream and vegan cookies. HELLO, CALIFORNIA!

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I wasn’t having too much of a sweet tooth, and decided to just nibble on whatever DJ got. Sharing is caring 😉

Lucky for me, he ordered more than enough. He decided to try their Sundae of Champions. This consisted of two fresh baked cookies, three scoops of ice cream, one LARGE crumbled brownie, a do’sant sandwich (donut ice cream sandwich), and whipped creme with sprinkles. This diabetes in a cup sundae was a sight to see! Everything tasted fresh and delicious. The brownie was our personal favorite part.

And of course, I had to take more than enough pictures to document 😉

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On Monday, I had a hike planned with one of my good friends. This is the first day that I felt my ear wasn’t entirely muffled. We planned to meet at 9 am and when I parked the car I saw a bunch of turkeys just roaming around. I feel like lately I have seen so many random wild birds. So here is your wild bird of the post!

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Despite the annoyance of the rain (it was raining this morning too a matter of fact), it was a gorgeous hike with sprawling green foliage and cascading moss everywhere you looked. It felt like a fairytale. We decided to hike for about an hour.

We hiked….

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and we hiked….

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and we hiked some more…

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Annnnnd then I realized we were lost.

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After about two hours of going straight up the mountain in the rain, I knew that we were not on the path I thought we were on…. WHOOPS

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We saw one lady at the top, who may have been scarier than the mountain lion I enountered. She didn’t speak great english, and she kept asking us,”What path you take?” “You take that path”?!” “Avoid the dead bodies!” “Oh, good!”. We exchanged perplexed looks and just told her we had taken wildcat trail.

“Oh good!! No dead bodies!”

She hurried off in the other direction and I looked at Danielle super confused. I go, “Did she say dead bodies?!”. Danielle said, “that’s what I heard- unless she was mispronouncing something like a trail name. Let’s keep an eye out on the news”. Hahaha.

I really do not even know how to comment on that encounter. It was one of the strangest things to ever happen to me.

I apologized profusely to Danielle for getting us lost in the rain and mud and on behalf of the crazy lady. She was SUCH a trooper about it all.

This was taken at the top of the mountain. Unbeknown to us, we still had an hour of hiking left!

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Three hours later, with stomachs growling, shoes thick with mud, and tons of laughs we made it back to the car with the guidance of some helpful ladies we saw hiking.

We decided to try Bill’s Cafe which has a notorious reputation for being one of the best breakfast and lunch spots in San Jose. Luckily, it wasn’t crowded when we arrived around 12:30 and we were seated right away.

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Their menu has everything you can imagine for breakfast. They have a section for pancakes, waffles, benedicts, scrambles, omelettes, skillets, french toast, etc. etc. EVERYTHING. Danielle ordered this parisienne french toast which was a giant CROISSANT baked fresh dipped in egg batter and grilled sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. She graciously offered me a taste, and WOWZA- we were both impressed with just how much flavor was packed in it. Now we know- make french toast with croissants. (You can see the creation in the second picture below)

I ordered their french garden omelette. It had goat cheese, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, avocado, mushrooms, and basil. I usually order my omelettes with egg whites, but after this accidental hike, I could use all the refueling I could get! It was one of the greatest omelettes I’ve ever had. The sun dried tomatoes in it tasted so fresh and I wanted to ask what kind they used. It was maddeningly delicious!

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This week I did an order of Blue Apron (WOOHOOO!). I love love love love Blue Apron and for my birthday I got a giftcard (Obviously someone knows me well ;)). I could talk about it for days. I may make a separate post to describe in depth all the pros/cons and share all my thoughts!

For the first meal on Monday, I made a Moroccan Chicken for DJ and had my giant salad to use up some leftover veggies in the fridge. I don’t have a ton of experience cooking meat dishes, so Blue Apron is great with helping me learn in that arena.

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I tried the sauce and it was SOOOOO good! I want to recreate this with tofu!

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Monday night- BACHELOR! We made two mega cookies for this one- our usual chocolate chip tollhouse and then a massive hot cocoa tollhouse one (they are addictive, beware).

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Yesterday I made the Spicy Shrimp Coconut Curry from Blue Apron for dinner. I’m mad at it for not turning out too photogenic, but it was delicious!

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Today I have to go to the mall to find “business casual” clothes. UGH. I’m dreading it. I may be the only girl on the planet that truly just does not enjoy shopping all that much- especially when I have to find something.

BUT…. there is a very exciting weekend ahead, and I can hardly control my excitement…

Hope you all are having a beautiful week so far!

xo ❤

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The Butterfly Effect

I spend too much time thinking. My mind is in a perpetual hum, going in a million directions, yet going nowhere at all. It’s exhausting! When I was young, I used to look out the window with a furrowed brow on long car rides and just think. My Dad would glance in the rear view mirror and say, “Kenzie, what is it that a five-year-old has to think about so seriously?” At the time they were probably pretty basic questions of life, why is the sky blue?, why do we have ten fingers and ten toes?, who let the dogs out? (please help, I still don’t know this one)but lately something else has been plaguing my mind: purpose. How is whatever I am doing at this moment meaningful? And not just on the surface level, but I mean deeply, viscerally meaningful. It’s like everything I do has to have some kind of “productive” end point. But that’s not how we were meant to live. It’s a perspective issue, not a reality issue.

I know how we all have a specific calling and purpose designated by our Lord and that our identity is ultimately found in Him. This is so important to understand. But at times, it’s not always about the insecurities about who I am, it’s more about what I am doing. But maybe the two get inappropriately tangled at times? I’m not sure.

Something I’ve found myself caught up in recently is the purpose of this blog. I started it to catch up friends and family on the happenings in our lives, share how God is working, and to record a few of our favorite adventures for us to reminisce about someday. It brings me joy. And that should be enough. But at times I feel like it’s not- particularly when I get caught up in the comparison game. For example, there are times I’ll find myself slaving over a recipe, giddy in the making of this creation, getting ready to post it, and then suddenly I’ll come across an “accomplished” blogger with many printed cookbooks, perfect photos, and a massive following. Naturally I think, “What’s the point?” and stuff the post into drafts.

Comparison is the thief of joy- no truer words.

But lately my perspective has been shifting, and I hope to offer encouragement to anyone else that may be experiencing the throws of writing insecurity, lack of direction, or is just asking, “What is the point?” in anything you do.

This shift came with contemplation of the Chaos Theory- the idea that a flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas. Some think the theory is a bit silly, but I love the illustration. It fascinates me- this idea that something seemingly minuscule can create something massive, powerful, unstoppable.

Maybe we can learn a lesson or two from this small, fragile creature. As cheesy as it is to use a butterfly metaphor, I’m gonna use it, gosh darn it.

Let me pose these questions-Did the butterfly physically see the the breeze created from a simple flap of the wings? Or did the butterfly actually witness the power ultimately created from this small act? No, but it continued fluttering along anyway.

The butterfly didn’t flutter it’s wings with the intention of creating that tornado. It flew because it was what it knew how to do, because it allowed the butterfly to live its short life the best way it knew how with what it was given…because it was the butterfly’s own form of artwork. Maybe the “small” things we do and invest time in don’t always have results that we can see right away, but they can breed wind storms of creativity and joy within ourselves. When we do something we love for its own sake we are bringing joy to the Ultimate Creator, who instilled these innate passions and abilities uniquely for each of us, so why deprive ourselves of this? When we can learn that investing in joy is a worthy investment, despite tangible results, our lives can be lived dramatically differently- in freedom.

Additionally, the butterfly flutters on persistently despite what the other butterflies are doing. We each have been created with an originality and purpose that will differ from anyone else’s. Just like no two butterflies are the same, neither are we- so why do we insist on comparing each of our journeys?

It’s when we can fly in this freedom that the breeze becomes a gust, and the gust becomes a storm- a storm of inspiration that overflows out of us. When a butterfly flies on by, it’s hard not to pay attention to the beauty of the creature basking in its own ease, persistent in doing what it was meant to do with it’s short life. In all that we do, no matter how seemingly small, if we do it with the same fervor and persistence, others will be inspired. When we allow ourselves to get lost in our own chaotic creativity, passions, and pieces of life that bring us joy, others will not be able to look away. There is something contagious and infatuating about someone who pursues what they love unapologetically. But if we miss the freedom of being content in our own originality and situation, we lose this power.

Even when we feel like we are walking uphill in thick sand, when nothing seems to matter that we do, and when we don’t feel like we are making a difference in the mundane ebb and flow of life, we have to realize we may not ever know the profound effect we are actually propagating. We just have to take that next step, continue fluttering, if you will. We don’t know what difference our footprints could make for someone else who stumbles across them later on. It could even be the comfort they need in knowing they are not the first to walk that journey

So to those who are wondering if you should share that post sitting in your drafts, publish it. To those that are wondering if you should call that long lost friend, do it. To those that are wondering if pursuing something you love is worth the risk, it is. To those who are wondering if you have a purpose, you do. To those that are wondering if you are worth it, you are.

Take that step unapologetically. Whatever you do, do it with love and with heart.

That next step may just be the first step to unstoppable.

Happy New Year from Mack & DJ (A NYE Weekend Recap in SF!)

HelllllooooOOOooOO everybody! I have a short (ish) post for you today. Which many of you would be skeptical of unless you saw it with your own eyes… So, hey, guess you’ll have to come in and see for yo self 😉 I missed my calling as a sales woman. I realize.

After DJ and I arrived back from Ohio, we tried to adjust to the jet-lag, unpacked (there is always wayy more laundry than you bank on), ate Subway because we were craving us some subs, and watched Dexter.

On Friday, December 30th, Annie (you can get the low down on our friendship here) and I decided to have a girllzzzz night in SF. As much as she is our fave third wheel, (or maybe Deej is the third, not sure), DJ is incredibly supportive of girl time. It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other, and with the next few months being crazy and unpredictable, we decided to try to squeeze in hanging out one more time before the new year dawned.

Driving into SF that night was exhilarating. The sky was bright blue in some parts and dark gray in others. The contrast was magnificent! Additionally, the way the clouds roll into the city over the bay fascinates me the whole time I drive down the highway.

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Love this city ❤

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When I arrived to Annie’s apartment, we finished up getting ready then headed out to one of my personal favorite restaurants in all of SF. I had two “free drink” coupons from Eat/Drink SF, and it would be a darn shame for those to go to waste. Hence, girlz night.

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Something I just absolutely love about Farallon is the jellyfish lounge. It is truly so unique! I give a full synopsis of this spectacular restaurant in a previous post.

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Isn’t she just the cutest you’ve ever seen?!

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Imma’ rant for a quick tick: One personal stipulation that I have for determining a good restaurant is their bread factor. I’m a runner, and I take my carbs seriously. So when I see that grainy, yummy, doughy piece of deliciousness with a pad of buttery perfection next to it, I do what any normal person does: salt the heck out of my butter before putting it on my bread. Right? RIGHT?! Ok, well DJ apparently thinks my methods are a bit strange with the salt, but Farallon agrees that salt on butter is the way to do it. And for this reason, Farallon wins sooo many brownie points in my heart

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In all seriousness though… that lava salt and butter and bread was the BEST I have ever had. Sorry, Outback & Olive Garden & Macaroni Grill …. you have some competitionnnn. Now, I’m all curious– what is your favorite restaurant for bread? 

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We didn’t want to spend a ton (and this place is pretty pricey), so we decided to split an appetizer and entree. For the appetizer we did the Mezcal Ceviche with Avocado Mousse and Spiced Tostada. This dish was SPICEY! The avocado mousse helped TAME THE FLAME a bit. It was eye-watering, nose-dripping YUM. Yet, I feel like that doesn’t sound appetizing when I put it that way? And those spiced tostadas were like some kind of fancy schmancy Doritos.

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For our entree, we split the pan seared scallops with spaghetti squash, brussels sprouts, huckleberries, & bacon (on the side).

I can say this with extreme confidence: It was the best one and a half scallops I have ever had. Yes, 1.5. We savored the heck out of that dish. Like the smallest bites you can imagine but each small bite was bursting with LARGE flavor. The combination of the huckleberries, brussels, and squash was unique, but it worked so well. If you ever go to Farallon, get this. You will not regret it. Especially if you like scallops. (But really anything on their menu is spectacular! We had some of the best food of my life the last time we were there too!).

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We walked out of there sooo full.

Lolz. NOT.

The food was TREMENDOUS. Don’t get me wrong. But we definitely had wayy more room. So we did what anyone does right after a big splurge dinner… go to the nearest grocery store for more food.

Allow me to present dinner numero dos: Snyder’s Hershey’s Dark Chocolate pretzels, Halo Top Ice cream (Strawberry is suhh guuhhdd), SUSHI!, & wine.

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Because those are all the essentials for watching K. Dash all night long.

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Best. Girlz. Night. Ever.

On the way out in the morning I had to take a picture of this.

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Is she smart or what?! I need to do this, and get that rug that says, “Turn off your straightener”!

I drove back from SF to Cupertino, did a seven-miler on the treadmill while reading Cutting for Stone (phenomenal book, btw), then got snazzed up with Deej when he came back from playing basketball. We then, once again, started the drive back to SF. Deja Vu!

I wanted to spend SF in the city, but obviously hotels in the city are already outrageously priced and with living so close it’s hard to justify paying to stay overnight. But, at the same time, it’s incredibly dangerous to drive on New Years Eve. See my predicament? Our solution: GROUPON!!!!!!!!!

A couple months ago, I found a room slashed at Le Meridian to more than half the original price for New Year’s Eve. It was so cheap we kept joking that it probably had smoke damage, or the shower didn’t work, etc. etc., but it was perfect!!!!!

It was also centrally located, and we could see the Bay Bridge from our window!

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I loved the way they had the maps as the wall paper. It was all kindsa modern!

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Time to finish getting ready! Dress is from Express. I snatched it when they had their big 40% off sale about a month ago!

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I was able to wear my wedding shoes for the first time since the actual wedding! I was pumped about this.

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We had some extra time before our dinner reservation, so we put on the OSU game and then DJ graciously took selfies with me. He is such a trooper about that.

More time to kill…. more selfies… more filters… more proving that I fit into such a stereotype (eyerolllll) .** Also I need serious help in the hair curling department, I always just wand it because I can’t figure out how to curl. Yes, 22, and still don’t know how to curl my hair to this day.

Dinnerrr timeee! I was getting hangry. Poor guy. I got really upset about something random and small (and not worth getting upset about) and he goes, “Time for food!”. He knows me well.

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Our restaurant of choice was Perbacco. We had a giftcard for Open Table from DJ’s birthday and hadn’t used it yet since DJ was in law school during this time. **SUCH a great idea for a gift, I didn’t even know Open Table had giftcards!** This was the perfect occasion to save it for! It was within walking distance for us which was super convenient since them heels weren’t necessarily high on the comfort factor.

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They sat us quickly, but it was a bit too close for comfort between tables, & the waiting staff was not very amicable. I always try to give people grace on the holidays who have to work, because I get it! Not fun! A lot of the reviews on Yelp that I read after the fact said the same thing about the service, but that it was out of the norm for them, and usually it’s a wonderful experience. We’ll choose to believe that! 😉 Regardless, we were thankful for the time together and this meal in the first place ❤

We started with the piastra roasted octopus which had olive oil crushed potatoes, garum vinaigrette, radish, and salsa verde. This was one of our favorites of the night. But, I do have to say, the Spanish Octopus from Marco Prime in Marco Island still takes the cake!

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Next we tried the Marinated King Crab with citrus burricota, shaved fennel and seasonal citrus. It was good, I’d give it a 7 on a scale of 1-10.

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I tried the Black Sea Bass “Alla Piastra” which had king crab and artichoke ragout and esplette-urchin butter. It was fantastic! I especially loved the large lentils.

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DJ had the Osso Buco “Milanese” with braised veal shank, roasted bone marrow, gnocci, and gremolata. DJ loved it! I had a nibble of the bone marrow gnocci and it was to die for.

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We usually are stuffed by dessert, but #NYE. We decided to try the dark chocolate bonet with pinot noir sea salt, sesame seeds, and crimson grapes. This was maybe the best part of the meal. It was exquisite. DJ isn’t a huge dark chocolate person, but he loved loved loved this.

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After dinner photo time!

…. No, DJ did not spill the bread dipping oil on his shirt… hehe … To be fair if it wasn’t gonna be him, it was gonna be me. I feel like I’m always eatin’ like a five-year-old, so he took one for the team tonight!

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After dinner we headed to Union Square. It was Lit. LITERALLY.

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Maybe the brilliance of the tree will outshine the shirt-spot?!

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Nope…lol. I think it’s quite endearing.

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We sought out our NYE party that I bought us tickets to a while back…have to complete the whole experience, ya’ know? We thought it was in the Westin in Union Square (but the place we were actually at was in the former Westin). We still grabbed a few pretty pictures of the Westin lobby while we were at it. Why not?!

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We then went and found our actual place (Park Central Hotel) and waited in line. Us, being the old farts we are, got there on the dime. (Don’t show up to these things on time because no one does). Aka fashionably late. It was so strange getting texts from all our family and friends at around 9 because back in Ohio/Indiana, it was midnight!!! It felt like we were stuck in the past a bit!

Could it be the stain has disappeared?!?

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Oh shoot, no, still there…

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Whoops- flash really magnifies that boogar!

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Soooooo we may or may not have stayed for a grand total of a half an hour before deciding we were pooped and still trying to fight jet-lag and justified leaving with tons of other reasons. We Ubered back to the hotel, got in our comfy clothes, ordered desserts, and watched Netflix. Now that’s what I’m talking bout’! I may or may not have fallen asleep before midnight … I think that’s the first time that’s happened since I was like.. eight. (BUT I did make it midnight east coast time).

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DJ kindly woke me up when the fireworks started outside our window over the Bay Bridge. It was an all-time fireworks display. I was thrilled that we had such a cozy seat for the show!

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Happy New Year from Us to YOU!!!

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Shoot, this post was not as short as I thought. Oh well! Thanks for reading.

xo ❤

Mack

Beaches & Pups & Coffee Cups! ☕️

Hey, everyone!

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First off- thank you to everybody who popped into the Mingle & Jingle!!! I wasn’t sure what to expect hosting one, but you all made it such fun!!

So…. I am a bit guilty on not doing an update post for a while…. and you know what that means…. a loooOOOooong one! But puppies & french fries are included- so it will be worth your time.

On Friday the ….*calculating date in head*….*just kidding pulling out phone calendar*…2nd of December… I went to Santa Cruz with a friend! It was her birthday weekend, and she wanted to spend the day frolicking on the beach with this little pup! She has a childhood friend that lives there, and he let us borrow the pup for a day. We took the little guy out on the beach for a while and then followed up with lunch after!

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Puppy kisses are the best

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We had her birthday lunch at a place in downtown Santa Cruz called Assembly. I wish I could say I highly recommend it, but pretty much every mistake a restaurant staff could make, they made- to a comical point. I’m not one to get my panties in a bunch about that stuff, but man, it was badddd. Their saving grace was their garlic fries with parmesan & aioli, which- not even kidding-were the best fries I have ever had. I’m not even a big french fry person! I would put up with the worst service in the world for these fries. Which I’m pretty sure we did…. haha. They were so scrumptious, I ended up getting an order for DJ too. It was one of those, “you haven’t lived till you tried this” type foods.

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We sat outside on the patio, but the inside  with the antler chandeliers was just darlin’!

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After our interesting restaurant experience, we walked around downtown and snuck in some cute little boutiques. Our favorite part while walking around was seeing these pups chilling in a bright yellow car, the one looking like it was in full control of the driver’s seat. This reminded me of the movie, My Dog Skip. Anyone ever seen it? I know my younger sister, Halston, will love this, since it was her favorite movie growing up!

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We stopped in a little classic candy shoppe called Marini’s. It had the classic burger and shake bar and the fudge shoppe on the other side. I love these retro places ❤

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On Friday night, DJ and I went to Main Street Cupertino’s tree lighting. I had this marked on our calendar for the whole month. It advertised that there would be all this festive stuff to do, hot chocolate, photo booth, etc. etc., and I was so excited. However, this was probably the most anticlimactic event and/or tree lighting I have ever seen. You can take a look for yourself! LOLZ. I think it also may have been a requirement to have a little tike, because there was not a single family without kids. The hot chocolate station said, “Kids Hot Chocolate station” so there goes the best part! I joked that we should ‘borrow’ some family’s kids so we could get some of that hot cocoa. Pshh. “Kid only Hot Chocolate”. What a nutty concept, I tell ya what.

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After the tree lighting, we went to a Moroccan Restaurant in Mountain View. We were craving it after loving our experiences in Dallas & Indianapolis, and this place had raving reviews.

To our great surprise, there was a belly dancer!!! Ok, to my great surprise…..but DJ… I think he was a smidge uncomfortable about this belly dancer shaking it around us while he was just trying to enjoy his beef tagine. I was just fascinated!

And I’m pretty sure the couple next to us were on a first date. They looked quite uncomfortable, and the music was turned up so loud that no one could hold a steady conversation. The man said something to the server, and the server replied, “No sir, we are not a club”. It took everything in me to not bust out laughing.

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Anyway, the place was super authentic and the food was delicious!! I didn’t get good foodie pics, because the lighting was super dim. Trust meh- it was tasty.

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Saturday (12/3) … I baked goodies all day long, DJ played basketball with some friends in the morning then lounged while watching sports & ending with some Netflix- it was just a perfect Saturday.

Sunday (12/4), We went to Church followed by Christmas in the Park in downtown San Jose!!!! This was another event that we forgot to bring our kids to. 😉

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Photo-bombed by a nutcracker. My Christmas is made.

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Oh hey- does this look familiar?! I finished up my Christmas baking Sunday night 🙂

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Mondays are usually my “get yo life together” day of cleaning/laundry/errands/pulling my hair out/etc. On Monday (12/5) night we got together with some friends and had authentic Korean cuisine! We tried the seafood soft tofu dish (left) & the vegetable tofu dish (right). They were still boiling when placed on the table. They are served with two eggs that you crack in each dish and then stir around the broken yolk. It’s family style, and each person gets a bowl of the purple rice to add whatever  side (kimchi, pickled pear, rice noodles, etc.) they wish on top! We have never had an experience like this and it was a fun endeavor! Plus it was excellent quality time with great new friends.

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The rest of the week is a bit of a blur. Since the rest of December I am traveling, I had soooo many things to do and figure out to get ready for Christmas and traveling. I felt like I was living in the post office and running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I cooked dinner every night, but I don’t really remember what and apparently nothing was picture worthy. Sorry DJ!

Also… only in California grocery stores….

I don’t know about you- but I like the bread or cracker samples, don’t give me carrots to sample please, sir.

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One thing that I have loved during this crazy week was the weather. Apparently, this is the coldest and rainiest winter that the Bay area has had in a while. But I love the way the beautiful leaves are contrasting against the dark backdrop. It feels very much like October would in Ohio. And if this is as cold as it gets- count me in! I’m going to be in for a shock when I go back to Ohio in a couple weeks here… Oh boy. I probably could use some prayers, ya’ll. Not sure my skin is as tough as it used to be in the tundra.

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Friday (12/9) Usually Friday is date night, but we decided to take this one easy. I was also craving my cauliflower mashed potatoes with a veggie burger & DJ was craving cereal for dinner, so we deemed Saturday our faux Friday date night instead. A night of binge watching Dexter and eating Christmas cookies was certainly in the mix Friday night.

Saturday (12/10) DJ and I went to downtown SF! We have been wanting to go to Union Square for a while to go ice skating and see the big tree. It was raining when we went, but still a great memory. We didn’t do a ton, but I just love any time I can explore with him.

And about the ice skating—- we forgot our kids for that too. We ended up getting out of line because I think it was “kids only” hour. UGH they get all the hot chocolate & all the cute Christmas ice rinks. SMH. Who do they think they are being all cute and little and innocent and stuff.

We stopped in Target for an umbrella, because the rain was not letting up and I was being Ms. Cranky pants about being wet and cold, stopped in a few shops, and then grabbed a few bites to eat through the day.

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For a light lunch, we stopped in Rouge & Blanc. Sounds about as fancy as it was. Their tag line was “Coffee Bar by morning, Wine Bar by night”, which is basically my life mantra, so it reeled me in.

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We didn’t want to eat a huge lunch, because we were still planning on having dinner in town before leaving, so we had fries with a bernaise aioli and a prawn flatbread. I savored every bite of that prawn flatbread. I don’t know what they put on it, but it was too good to be true.

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For dinner, we had to scramble! I always forget just how important it is to make reservations in the city! Thank gooooodness for Open Table. We found this french restaurant called Cafe Claude. It is super tucked away in a back alley. If not for Open Table, I would have had no idea it even existed. It felt kind of exclusive *hair flip*. We have never actually been to a french restaurant, so this menu was definitely something new to navigate!

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REAL FRENCH BREAD! My friends all know I have this dream of riding around France on a bicycle with the basket of french bread. This is the closest I have gotten yet.

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Deej ordered steak frites which included bavette steak, bone marrow butter, port-shallot sauce, and pommes frites.

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I ordered NIÇOISE which included tuna confit, lettuce, egg, haricots verts, olives, potato, capers, anchovy, and thyme vinaigrette.

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The waiter said “Bon appetite” and I realized that this was an authentic bon appetite! I may have gotten too excited about that one.

Sunday (12/11), I woke up at 3 am. I am trying to accustom myself to Texas/Ohio time because I like to get up early before everyone else to squeeze in a workout, but if I’m jet- lagged, that probably isn’t happening! I didn’t intend on getting up quite that early, but since I was up and couldn’t fall back asleep, I went down and ran on the tready and read a book on my kindle, because that’s totally normal at 3 am.

Sunday morning DJ and I helped set up at the San Jose campus, then me and a couple of my girlfriends booked it downtown SF to attend the Christmas Creative at that campus after the 9:30 service started at SJ (I won’t be here next week to see it our home campus). <– wow that was like the most confusing thing I have ever written. Happy deciphering.

Anyway-IT WAS INCREDIBLE! They presented the Christmas story via dance, song, instruments, spoken word, etc. in such a unique way. The talent was phenomenal and the whole service was so powerful.

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One of my friends from Church that reads the blog, brought me this as a gift. GUYS. Best Christmas present EVER. She obviously knows me well- PEETS!!!! Dark Chocolate!!! Peppermint Bark!!! PEEETS!!!! Coffee Mug!!!! PEETS!!!!! The thought behind this touched me beyond words. So thankful for this community, I can’t say it enough. Thanks again, Tammy ❤ ❤ You’re a real life rockstar!

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This cute cafe is connected to where the church service was held, and I had to steal a picture because it was so darn cute.

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The girlies and I decided to do brunch, because… Oh wait you don’t need a reason for brunch.

We tried the Mission Beach Cafe  because it’s known as an epic brunch spot. It surpassed all expectations. If you live in the area, do yourself a flavor favor and try this place!

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I personally ordered the MBC Vegan Breakfast. It included black barley-farro, a butternut squash patty, artichoke hearts, carrot, orach, roasted garnet potatos, and nettles. I don’t know what the heck they put in this, but it was heaven on a plate. We all nibbled on the french toast too- and besides Bora Bora’s french toast, this one would take the cake (or take the toast *womp womp*).

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I have never ordered a mimosa before, but the pictures on yelp looked too good to pass up! We all tried grapefruit pomegranate and one of my friends did the orange pomegranate. Is “mimosa” not the most fitting name for what it is?! It just makes ya wanna say MimoOoOssssAaAaa. It was YUMMMM.

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A couple last things to update:

  • I will write about yesterdays events in another post- this is long enough! Ya’ll are busy!
  • Our neighbors did stop by again (at 10 pm per usual) and asked for a Coke this time. (In the past they have asked for cilantro & lettuce in isolated incidences). What is your next prediction for what they will want?
  • I leave Thursday for Dallas/Fort Worth!! Woot woot! Blowing dust off my cowgirl boots!

Merry Mimosas to all and to all a good night (or day)!

xo ❤

Mack

Deck the Halls & A Special Announcement!

Hey everyone! First I just want to send a HUGE thank you to everyone who read and left the sweetest words on my last post. I truly just felt overwhelmed with encouragement and love. It’s amazing the connection and conversation that has been made through this blog and yours, and I am incredibly thankful for it.

Thank you also to Michael for his nomination for the Sunshine Blogger’s Award! I absolutely love his writing- It’s so genuine and full of truth. Check it out if you get a chance!

Today is Thursday. The awkward middle child of “FriYAY” and “HUMP DAY!”. Soooo I think you all can relate to this “poem” right about now. My mom sent this to me a few days ago and I had to share.

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And this was another one of my favorite things I saw all week..

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Anywayyyyy, I think for the update we left off right before Thanksgiving! I didn’t get many pictures of actual Thanksgiving day, but it was a good one! Just great family time, conversation, and happy bellies. I was on salad and fruit duty! I love that the holidays are an extra special excuse to make extra festive foods 😉

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This little guy had apple slices/farro/pomegranate/goat cheese/craisins/mixed greens. Pairs well with a nice balsamic or champagne vinaigrette.

Friday, I had a to-do list ten pages long. I conquered the errands for the day with a No Cow Bar in hand. These are my FAVORITE. I am a notorious Quest bar addict, but I like these even more. The lemon meringue flavor is by far the best, but I am a sucker for anything lemon. The dark raspberry truffle is really good too. The macros here are terrific, and they are vegan!

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I didn’t do any Black Friday shopping. OK. That’s a lie. I did jump into TJ’s real quick, but they weren’t having any sales “technically” because that place is always like one big Black Friday sale, and I love it.

I feel like the winter is birthday season central!! I love picking out the perfect card — and in my search I think I found the best card of all time. It’s 3-D sushi. I should have stock piled them.  

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Saturday during the day DJ went to a friend’s basketball game and caught up with a good friend that he hasn’t seen for years. That night we finished up The Office series. I cried like a baby when *spoiler* Michael came back for Dwight’s wedding. *ALL THE FEELS*. We have moved on to my choice series, which is Dexter. Good so far! Parks & Rec is next on the list after this. Also I need to catch up on Gilmore Girls so I can jump into that chit-chat.

We had Thanksgiving leftovers most of the weekend and into the beginning of the week. I swear Thanksgiving food is always better round dos. Saturday for dinner we decided to take a break from the bird & sweet potato mash and picked up some Oren’s. You guys know how much we love our Oren’s!

Also, Main street Cupertino is looking GORGEOUS. One of my favorite things this time of year is the way the Christmas lights suddenly appear in shopping centers and line the roads! Funny story though…. when I was driving on Main Street this past week a cop went through a stop sign and almost hit me (no lights flashing). The IRONY. He did wave in apology, but what is up with my run-ins with the po-po lately?!

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Sunday-FUNDAY! It was baptism Sunday at church. Everybody who participated was such a trooper considering it was in the 50s outside and the water was ice cold! There is something so powerful and exciting about watching others make a public declaration of their faith!

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Sunday afternoon we went tree picking!!!!!! I was havin’ serious FOMO when I saw everyone setting up their trees all over Insta & Fbook. We were planning on going Saturday, but by the time DJ was back it was nearly dark out! It gets dark so gosh dang early nowadays. It makes me all sleepy and hungry for dinner at like 4 o’ clock. Anywho- it was so fun looking for our own little piece of nature to bring into our home.

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Time to set it up! We named it Bow-Bow (Pronounced like “boe-boe”). Yes it’s silly & a bit strange to name your tree, but also more fun. No judging. We are hoping that Bow Bow stays alive longer than Spanky Tom did… RIP little guy.

Yes I know I am being I’m being such a type of girl in these next few pictures. Being basic isn’t a choice, I swear, I can’t help it.

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DJ wouldn’t let me get lone pictures of him by the tree. Party pooper.

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Yes, Aunt Terry, you best believe we are rocking the mugs you got us last year!

Confession: I made nine trips to Target in two days for various reasons. NINE. The first five were for the Christmas tree lights/decor. We kept getting the wrong kinds of lights (one of my friends said “HOW, they are Christmas lights?!”) and we still cannot find a good star topper that will actually stay up there. I think Bow Bow is a bit flimsy. I still have one more trip to make back to return a few things, but I’ll wait till we have to do a grocery trip. 

I had so much fun pulling out our Christmas decor. The stuff collects dust all year, so when it’s even kind of remotely socially acceptable these decorations come out to play.

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Monday DJ started a new job!! Wooohoo! He is working with the Church, but still getting his MBA next year. This is the perfect job in the meantime. He absolutely loves it so far!

On Tuesday morning I made this little guy because DJ wanted bacon and eggs. I couldn’t help myself and made a face. I couldn’t get the egg “eye” right on the left, but I just said it was because he was winking 😉 For some reason I think you would enjoy this, Cyranny. Hahah.

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I squeezed in a run outside on Tuesday to take a break from Shaun T kicking my rump (Insanity).

The trees are finally changing!!! It’s nothing like gorgeous Ohio in the fall, but I had an added pep in my step seeing a few bright colors here and there ❤

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Yesterday I went to Peet’s (which I have been spelling wrong forever, along with pescetarian, which is really embarrassing) and caught up on e-mails and last minute organization for holiday shenanigans!

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I have had to get creative this week to use up random leftovers. Last night for dinner I made sautéed scallops over farro root with roasted root carrots and sautéed almonds with orange zest and basil. It turned out pretty good!

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Another meal I have been making this week is this omelette. I can’t get enough. I had a ton of left over stuffing from my stuffed acorn squash as well as goat cheese. I just threw in 1/2 cup egg beaters, 1/2 cup of the stuffing, a sprinkle of goat cheese and some sprigs of rosemary. All the stuffing is gone now, but I have got to make more soon so I can do this again. It was so tasty!

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Wednesday night we had our Bible study group. Someone brought CRONUTS! (AKA: Croissant + Donut). I am not even kidding, one of the best pastries of my life. We were going crayyyy for our cronuts.

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This morning I woke up at 6 to meet with a friend for coffee @ 7. I love getting up early and soaking up the mornings. We went to Philz coffee. They make every single cup over drip. It’s really great, but SUPER strong. I am so jittery after. We had such great conversation, and my heart just bursts with love for the amazing individuals we have met since moving here in July.

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Quick side note: the reason I changed my name to “Mackenzie” from “Mack” for the profile is a lot of people thought I was a guy. LOLZ.

OK- now I am super excited to announce…….drum roll…… I am going to be hosting my first blogging Meet & Greet, BUT it is going to be called “Mingle & Jingle” in light of the holiday season!!!!

For those who don’t know what a Meet & Greet is, it is essentially a post where you can come in and talk about your blog a bit, leave your link to either a favorite post of yours, or your site in general and find other blogs you may enjoy too! It will be some time next week- stay tuned! 🙂 I am so excited!!! Hope to see you there!!!

I must ask one very important question before I go: What is your favorite kind of Christmas cookie/dessert/holiday treat?! Feel free to leave recipe links!

Stay warm everyone!

xo ❤

Mack … or Mackenzie….. or a million other options…oh shoot, identity crisis!

A Mountain Lion Scare and Food with Flare

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

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

Okay, off we go now 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a toasty week,

xo ❤

Mack

An Emotional RoLleR-coAsTer of a Week and So.Many.Updates.

Hey guys! I hope you all had a wonderful and safe Halloween weekend and start to your week! This past week has had so much good with a side of a bit of bad.

Shall we?

Wednesday– I had a rough day. Ya know- one of those hump days- where Wednesday disguises itself as Monday. I couldn’t shake the cobwebs from my head and I felt like I was moving like a snail. Three cups of coffee and counting were NOT doing the trick.

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But once dinner rolled around I got to sample out another Blue Apron meal! If I am having a bad day, usually cooking and having a solid dinner can turn it around for the evening. 

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This was so simple. I think it’s probably the easiest meal I have made yet from this company, and I will definitely be recreating it. The homemade tartar sauce was too good, and I never knew endives could be so tasty?!

Wednesday after dinner we went to our first session of the Winter group meetings through the church. You all know how thankful I am for the people we have met through this church, and if you live in the Bay area and need somewhere to call home PLEASE contact me! God was tugging on my heart to share during one part of the discussion. I was NOT intending to “get deep” on the first night with mostly strangers. But naturally, like He always does, He pushed me out of my darn comfort zone. May I get an Amen?! I know this group is going to be such a blessing, it already is, and I can’t wait to see where it goes!

Thursday– Chores & Such. Totally necessary to waste your time by writing that- huh? OH, I did find out that I passed my nursing exam on this day and received my license in the mail! Thank you a million for all the sweet words on the last post. They seriously touched me ❤ ❤

Friday– I wanted to Fall. It. UP. Since I had been studying most of October, I didn’t get to go into full on fall mode besides eating massive amounts of candy corn. Which is fine, it’s probably the best part, but regardless, my pumpkin-laced-female-DNA was screaming “get yo self to a pumpkin patch!”

We started the day in San Pedro Square at the Farmer’s Market. I love Farmers’ markets, and every time we pass this one I say I want to go. Finally! I love all the fresh food, produce, unique gift ideas, and general atmosphere of a good Farmers’ market. This isn’t necessarily DJ’s idea of fun, but one of those things he will do with me because he knows it makes me happy. San Pedro Square is a happenin’ place and a foodie’s paradise. We wouldn’t know any foodies, now would we? 😉 DJ and I have exhausted Main Street Cupertino and Santana Row, so I think this will may be our new Friday Night date place for a while!

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That afternoon we saw a vibrantly contrasting rainbow against a gray backdrop outside the window of our apartment. I haven’t seen a rainbow in a while, so naturally, I had to snag a picture of it.

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We also headed to pickup our box springs for our bed for the master bedroom! It’s coming along! While we were waiting for the pickup we messed around on Snapchat.

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** Side note: DJ gave me permission to announce he is no longer doing law school. He was originally doing the JD-MBA combined track, but now is just sticking to the MBA which starts this Spring. I am truly proud of him for doing what he knows is best for him. Plus it means I get to see my man more often!

Friday night I got out all my pumpkin patch wiggles. This place had abounding options for the average pumpkin picker. There were pumpkins here like I have never seen before!

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Fun fact: My step dad’s name is Pete, and his best friend is Tom… Mom- can you show him this? I bet he will get a kick out of it. So cute, so corny. Had to share. I tried picture messaging it, but my service is  glitchy- as you know.

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Friday night we decided to take it easy. I whipped up some Blue Apron meals. For myself I had Roasted Acorn Squash with Couscous Salad and Dressed Pea shoots. This and the coconut curry catfish are my two favorite meals so far from Blue Apron.

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For DJ, I made the Spiced Pork Burgers with a “side” of coleslaw. The “side” took two leftover large Tupperware to fit it all. But I don’t mind- we love us some ‘slaw!

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After dinner I received a call from the credit card company that my purse had been found at the pumpkin patch. I went into full on panic mode. While carrying my pumpkin from the patch, I must have dropped my purse on the way out. I called the cell number of the people who had found it (and currently had it). They were the SWEETEST couple in the world. I thanked them profusely for their integrity and kindness. I heard a little, young voice in the background go, “Is that Mackenzieee?!”. “I want to talk to Mackenzieee!”. The mother put the cutest little girl on the phone and she innocently, but matter-of-factly, inquires, “Hi Mackenzie- why did you leave your purse at a pumpkin patch?” Through nearly previous tears I started laughing and replied, “Great question! I think I was just too excited to carry my pumpkin and get home to carve it, so I dropped it without noticing!”.

We planned on a public meeting spot (Peet’s because where else?!), and I ran out the door with DJ. We tried offering them compensation for their troubles, but they refused. They said they just wanted to do the right thing. Then the husband asked, surprising us, “Are you believers?”. We quickly exchanged information about which churches we attend and a bit more small talk. Then we parted, perhaps never to see them again (well not never again 😉 ). What started as a traumatizing, panic ridden moment turned into an heart-warming experience. I still have no idea what led them to ask us if we were also believers, but how stinking cool. She messaged me that night to let me know her sweet daughter had prayed that I wouldn’t leave my purse at the pumpkin patch next time! Lol.

After this crazy day, DJ and I decided one thing was necessary: Cookies.

Break and bakes to be specific: What is your favorite brand/type?!? DJ loves the Pillsbury Chocolate chip ones and I love the Pillsbury S’mores (but they are hard to find). I firmly believe in cooking 1 minute under the recommended cooking time. We decided to save the Pumpkin Carving for another day.

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DJ is the chocolate milk KING. Like he knowwws his chocolate milk. One time we had a blind taste test of about six different brands of milk. He nailed each one of them. He has a list of tiers on his phone where he rates the best of the best. Shamrock Farms is at the top! DJ probably would be embarrassed if he knew I wrote this… so quick read it before he makes me delete it!  Anyone else love a certain brand? Milk and cookie discussions are paramount to life.

NOW: Here is the meat and potatoes of this post!!!! To celebrate the NCLEX, I wanted to do something CRAYYY! So I looked up “Haunted places in the Bay area”. I don’t believe in “haunted”, but still in lieu of this time of year I thought this would just be interesting… I want to say “fun” or “festive”, but when you hear what happened to lead to this story, those words do not seem to fit. We contemplated touring the Winchester house, but I recently went through it, and it takes a while for the tour. We decided to save that for another time. I found a haunted road, Marsh Rd., and a haunted restaurant, The GrandView, that were within twenty minutes of one another. I made reservations at the restaurant and planned out so we would have enough time to explore the road.

Time for the spooOOooky stories:

Marsh Rd: “It’s become almost a rite of passage for Milpitas high school kids to seek out the ghost of murder victim Marcy Conrad, who was killed by her boyfriend on Marsh Road. Unlike the back stories of most urban legends, this murder was real and well-documented.” – SanJose.com

They actually had to close the road for a while because it was getting a bit out of hand with people going to the bridge and ravine where the ghost supposedly wanders.

While DJ and I were driving down this road, all we could talk about was how stunning the mountains and scenery were. It was probably one of the most charming places I have been since living in California. And yet, still it felt strangely unsettling. Now, knowing the background of the story and what actually occurred here, my heart was beating a tad faster than it should have been. I think the fact that we felt so isolated was what made the drive eerie more than anything. There was no one in sight. Nothing in sight. Then all of a sudden something stepped out into the road. My breath caught in my throat. A big pitbull-terrier mix type dog was giving us an ominous stare down with eyes outlined by dark circles. DJ slammed on the brakes, and we waited for it to get out the way. My breath started coming back to me slowly and my heart rate slowed. I calmed myself down. DJ laughed at my reaction, and we kept going, further and further down the road. Finally we came to the bridge and ravine… My stomach knotted thinking about the story surrounding this place. We turned the car around after taking a quick look around and began driving back up the road.

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As we drove back up the road, DJ made some quick remark about the puppy coming after us. As soon as he said this, the same dog ran out into the road again, way further along than where we originally saw the beast. He stopped and stared at us just like before with large, dark knowing eyes. I was like, “Ok that’s it, let’s get out of here!”

Next stop: GrandView Restaurant.

The GrandView: “The lights have been known to flicker or even come on by themselves at this restaurant, even when no one is in the building. Also, the ghost of a young girl has been reported standing on the balcony that looks out over Silicon Valley.” – Hauntedplaces.org

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Okay, despite the stories, and the alleged “haunting” of this venue, I felt like it was nothing but magical. Even the bartender that greeted us laughed at the notion of it being haunted. The view of Silicon Valley was ….. well even now… it’s leaving me speechless. We came at the perfect time to witness one of the most incredible sunsets. It was beyond romantic and DJ and I dined over delectable halibut and lobster carbonara. I probably do not even need to describe the flavor. Ya’ll need to come and experience it yourself.

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I felt like we were dining in heaven. It was surreal. I could not have imagined celebrating any differently. Also–I begin applying for jobs next week- YEEK! 🙂

Sunday was a bit of a whirlwind, in the best way! We have have begun volunteering at church in the mornings, so we get there around 7:15 (DJ) and 8:00 (myself). It has only enhanced my whole feeling of belonging, relationship with Christ, and perspective of the body of Christ. Right before the first service, I received a message from a friend I went to college with. DJ and I have been wanting to get together him and his wife for a while, and I suggested they come to our church sometime. They have plans to move back to Indiana, but I recommended they swing before they did! Sure enough, they said they were on their way for the 11:30 service! I was both shocked that they were coming, but also thrilled. They drove two hours to us from Modesto and we grabbed lunch at the Farmer’s Union together afterwards. It was fantastic to catch up with them and see how God is moving in their lives. They said they felt like the message was tailored for them- it even led them to make some pretty big life decisions.

Because my blog tends to just run on food fuel as much as we do, and this post is a lengthy one, it needs a snack! A smoked Mozzarella & Cabbage Pizza with a Romaine and Apple Salad should do the trick… (And ya’ll didn’t think I could get any dorkier).

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Monday was a SAD day. DJ gently woke me up to tell me that our dear, beloved Spanky had died. Guys- I was a mess. I loved that freaking fish so much. And it was just a fish?! How could such a little guy take up such a big piece of my heart?! DJ was also certainly upset himself. We were both pretty down the entire day. Cyranny certainly helped me feel better with her helpful blog counseling, hehe. She is a GEM. Anyway, we just kept busy, as you will see. We don’t have any idea how this happened, but we hypothesize it had to do with the water. We followed what the people at the pet store told us to a T, but I think they very clearly missed some instructions (no I’m not pointing the finger, OK maybe I am, I am a mother in mourning!). When we looked online they said they should have at least a 5 gallon tank, it should be 1/3rd original water, and it should be 78-82 degrees. They told us it was fine with the tank I bought and recommended to keep the water at room temp.

Our other guess precipitating the tragic event is Clinton or Trump took him out because they caught onto our #SpankyTomforPresident hashtag. I don’t know which it was, but gosh dangggg it was rough. People with beta fish- care to share some tips?! Anyways, I was going to do an update post about Spanky- how he was becoming more brave and spending less time in his barrel, how he loved me more than DJ (but DJ says Spanky was warming up to him), how we joked that he was too good for us….Perhaps he was and that’s why he went to fishy heaven.

We may get another in the future… but for now.. we are certainly not emotionally ready </3. (yes, I have a fancy for the melodramatic).

Naturally, I did what any normal girl would do to feel better: Retail therapy. Usually I don’t care for shopping all that much, only when the shopping bug really bites, but I always loooove thrifting. I went to a thrift store on Monday and went in for sweaters, but came out instead with this gem. I actually do not have a big purse, so this was great and had a Kate Spade-esque look to it! It was only $22 and it’s a Kenneth Cole Reaction. I think that’s a good deal?! I know I have some fashionistas out there- is this a good deal?

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Had to share this beet hummus because it’s super unique and you just can’t beet it!

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Once again, I attempted my pumpkin cheesecake with an oatmeal crust. I seriously love it, but it’s not quite perfect yet to share. No worries- third time is a charm. I am determined to per-fect this little boogar. I also plan on making my Pumpkin French Toast this weekend- and so stay posted for that sometime next week!

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Monday night DJ and I decided to carve pumpkins. Keeping with theme of the night, I made a pumpkin pie. *The crowd all groans*.

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I also tribed, I mean tried, my hand at chief Wahoo. Please don’t remind me how that one ended 😦

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DJ’s pumpkin was being stubborn. We won’t talk about it. 😉

Pumpkin seeds are always a must. I made cinnamon sugar, ranch, barbecue, and plain salt and pepper.

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Tuesday morning I went running on my favorite trail- San Antonio Open Preserve. Due to the recent rainfall in this area, Thank Jesus, the trails have such whimsical beauty about them. Moss climbs the trees, the rivers are purring again, and the dampness of the mud adds a little spring to each step. It was an incredible run. Each breath was deliciously filled with the taste of nature and it reminded me greatly of Ohio.

Ohio:

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California:

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Tuesday night I whipped up a grilled cheese with mild cheddar&muenster cheese for DJ with tomato soup and cilantro (I try to make things “normal” but it’s just so hard when there are so many herbs- OK?!), and then I made a giant garden salad for myself to finish up the produce.

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Today (Wednesday), I met with a friend for Lunch and we had the MOST wonderful conversation. Later, DJ and I watched the game with the fam. 😦 😦 :(. If you are a Cubs fan, I am glad that billy goat curse is broken, just not at our expense!

Also- did you guys see that tweet?

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Like come on. That’s freaking crazy. We were losing our minds over it!!!! It predicted exactly what happened… Minus the apocalypse. Lol.

On another note, it’s November already- can you believe it?! We have family coming in town tomorrow, and we are PUMPED!!!! Hope you all are doing so well. I’m thankful for this community and although I began this blog to update fam and friends and have a place to write down our memories, I treasure each one of you here and the friendships that are forming along the way ❤

Wishing you a weekend CARVED with joy

xo ❤

Mack

Happy Birdd-Day

This day is a big deal day. I mean a BIGGGGGGGG deal! It is DJ’s Birthday!!!! This truly is one of my favorite “holidays” because it means my favorite person was born on this day! Thank you DJ for gracing the world with your presence, but also for allowing me to have dibs on you for my hubby. We love birthdays because it is an excuse to say “Happy Birrrrdday” over and over again. Who can spot the reference? Also- Happy Birthday to Amy (his twin sister!). Today DJ is happily spending his day meeting with friends and getting a few tasks done, while I am taking a tiny respite from studying to record some fun stuff from this past week!

We received this amazing Cheesecake Factory sampler from djs mom on Thursday! holy yum.


We made quite a dent! The caramel de leche was our favorite!

Thursday night I whipped up, yet another, Indian-fusion-esque type dinner. Who really knows what it is. But it was edible! It included okra, cauliflower, shrimp, a tikki masala sauce, every spice that I thought could possible compliment it, and some siggis yogurt. I accompanied it with some naan bread and a gigantic salad. This my friends, I call “everything but the kitchen sink”.

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Friday we went to Lazy Dog on Main Street Cupertino. We were feeling tired after a long week of studying and what could sound better than going to a place called Lazy Dog? It was super relaxing and nice to just spend a nice long dinner together rather than the rushed ones that usually take place during the week. It’s hard to truly enjoy your food when you have six hours of studying still staring you in the face for the night!

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I ordered their Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna. This was one of the  most original dishes of ahi I have ever tried. It makes my mouth water just reminiscing about it. It was served medium-rare on house-made cauliflower mash with roasted vegetables and a coconut curry cream sauce. It was also topped with some fresh cilantro. I tried to recreate the cauliflower mash, which I share later on! This dish was fish-alicious.

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DJ went for their signature burger for which they are known for! He ravenously ate it up. Now, I don’t know if the boy was just really hungry, or if that was a sign that he hasn’t had something that good in that long! I may have been too afraid to inquire.

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Also! I pulled out my first sweater for the season! This is one of my favorite fall colors- anything dark purple or maroon. The weather here is surprisingly perfect for the sweater life. I think I expected it to feel warm year round, but it still has a fall feel with the leaves falling and a crispness to the air.

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Saturday I got up at the butt-crack of dawn to go on one last BIG hike with my hiking group. I absolutely love this group of people. If you wanna get to know people, go on a hike with them. Within seven miles hiking up a mountain you end up talking about pretty much anything and everything. One thing that surprised me was one guy who grew up here (in California) could not understand why someone could possibly enjoy a thunderstorm. Me and one other girl from the midwest tried to explain the ominous excitement, smells, and wonder of an awesome midwest thunderstorm. It was interesting to me that he had never experienced something like that.  We also came past the most beautiful dog I may have ever seen. It was a bright white husky with sky-blue eyes. I am not always one to run up and ask to pet a random dog, but I could not help myself with this one. The owner even let me get a picture with it. I told DJ that we need to get this type of dog and a Beans soon (three-legged dream dog from the pound). He personally prefers French Pitbulls and Chocolate Labs. We both also love Vishlas! We had a friend who had one and fell in love. Anyone own any of these types of dogs?

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After an amazing hike, that my hips are still recovering from, we went to the Vine in Niles. This cute little town is quite a hike from our place in Cupertino. OH MY WORD- I did not intend that pun, I swear. I know I usually do intend allll the puns, but that one was not intended. Anyway, Niles is just the most darling little town with the strips full of unique boutiques, food trucks, and the luminous mountains cradling the whole surrounding area.

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After that hike I needed a big ole cup of joe! I think my favorite part of this whole place was the fact that I had my coffee served in this mug.

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HELLO to the most delicious sweet potato tots I ever did taste. They were served with a garam masala aioli. SO GOOD. I got them “for DJ” but ate half of them (or more than half) before I made it home. Like I said, it was a hike back- a good 50 minute drive is long enough to get hungry again.

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I had a tasty, filling salmon salad with craisins, goat cheese, walnuts, and a honey curry vinaigrette over arugula.

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SUNDAY! Oh Sunday was a much needed day. We are currently re-evaluating some choices and direction in our lives, but Sunday was just what we needed for some ease and clarity. I think right now DJ and I are realizing more than ever that our life “plans” on paper do not, and will not, always reflect reality. But that is okay. We are both at this point where we just want to be used by God, love others, and see how we can make a difference in the SV area each day. God has shut a lot of doors on our plans, but we are watching something unfold that we could not have designed ourselves. In the past, we have always filled our schedules and days with commitments and do not make ourselves available for anything that we have not designated important ourselves. But God, in His sovereignty, has shut many doors and we are finding ourselves available to do His work in a way we never have been. We are ecstatic to see what unravels, where this time of our lives takes us, and how he will use us. Our current situation can be described as this (….). The big ole’ dot, dot, dot. We have no idea how the next few years will unfold, but I think both of us could not be more excited to see how it will look.

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So why was Sunday so great? First we attended Church, and if that can’t rejuvenate ya, I don’t know what can. After, we met with the Pastors from our church for lunch as this rustic, yet modern, place in San Jose called The Farmer’s Union. They provided a great deal of encouragement to us. They gave us soo much to think about as well and sparked some thought-provoking conversation between DJ and I throughout the week leading to some of the open-ended conclusions (oxymoron?) I mentioned above.

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I have been fighting something of a cold this week and this Echinacea and Cranberry tea has been a lifesaver. I am a FIRM believer in herbal and vitamin supplements to prevent a cold. Load up the vitamin C, Echinacea, and Zinc to halt that nasty tickle in the throat from becoming a full on monster. But always talk to your healthcare provider before taking them 😉

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Here are the Cauliflower mashed potatoes that I tried to recreate (inspiration from the Lazy Dog!). These were sooo simple and I have a feeling that I may be entering into a new food craze stage.

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I also made these little Cauliflower wings with the leftover half of a head. I have the recipe posted here if you missed it 😉

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The next night I used the leftover cauliflower mash and combined it with some curry hummus to try to achieve that Indian cauliflower taste. I added a Morningstar Garlic and Quinoa burger with some fresh basil for a super easy and delicious meal.

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I had some kale that was about to go bad too, so I whipped up some kale chips to dip in the buffalo sauce too! Snacks for dayzzz.

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Throughout the week I have been studying at Peet’s nearly everyday.

I have loved studying at this little coffee shop and am beginning to develop friendships with the baristas. They are the kindest folk. One day they came up to me and gave me a coupon for a free coffee. They also told me that I am overstudying. Now when essentially strangers are telling you this, it makes you wonder!

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This is what “leave me alone I’m watching the game ” looks like One night during dinner I realized I had forgotten a couple things at the store. DJ, the sweet husband he is, ran out to grab them for me. He returned with this gem- edible cookie dough. Yes, all of your dreams have now come true. You can bake it or eat it straight out of the container if you wish. It is dairy and egg free too. We love our Pillsbury break-and-bakes, but I think we have a new favorite.

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Yesterday I had a bit of a stomach ache. I think I have just had so much rolling around in this head of mine and have been drained by the studying. I stopped by and picked this up from the store. GOODBYE tummy-ache! Ginger is one of the greatest things to help with nausea and aid in digestion. Kombucha also has some terrific probiotics too. I am really going full blown nurse on ya’ll, this post aren’t I?

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You didn’t think I wasn’t going forget a Fine Cooking recipe now did you?! This week I wanted to make something with meat. I make a lot of seafood naturally being pescatarian, but I felt that I haven’t tried my hand at a good meat dish in a while. I whipped up a Pork Tenderloin Provencal Tuesday night. I have never made pork, but was pleased with how it turned out. I accompanied it with rosemary roasted veggies and wild rice. It was surprisingly easy, and DJ said it was one of the best meals I have ever made. I think it would be an excellent meal for a Christmas eve dinner or special occasion! Tastes fancy without all the work 😉 .

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Now for birthday festivities. I maybe should not post this, but I seriously can’t help myself. I LOVE the goofy cards for birthdays (or any occasion). I spend wayyy too much time looking at all of them and take more pride in the card than the gift usually. We have tons of fun with them in my family. I stay away from anything with the actual age on it though… One time I got my brother a “Happy 30th” birthday card, ready to make a big deal about the big 3-0. He actually was turning 31. They never let me live that one down. In fact the next year, I received the same card from him and he crossed out the thirty and wrote 20 (the age I was turning). Anywho, DJ LOVES animals, so I always make sure to get an animal one. This was this years pick. Like I said, maybe this is inappropriate? But I promise this is as PG-13 it will get around here.

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We were planning on going out for a momentous pancake breakfast for his birthday, but he was meeting with a friend at 10 am, and decided last night he wanted to sleep in. I woke up early to figure something out, because everyone has to have a delicious birthday breakfast! I had some 90 calorie reduced fat pillsbury crescent rolls in the fridge and decided to try to make apple roll-ups. These are way healthier than a breakfast pastry and just as tasty. DJ couldn’t believe how relatively healthy they were.

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Last night I was having a moment of I NEED TO BAKE. Anyone else get that? The baking bug hits me hard in the fall. I load up on cans of pumpkin filling and end up just trying to create whatever I can, whenever I can. Baking is very therapeutic for me and since we were just eating leftovers last night, I decided to bake instead during my usual dinner prep time. I made a healthy pumpkin cheesecake with an oatmeal crust. This little guy is about 150 calories a slice and about 10 grams of protein. I am working on getting the recipe absolutely perfect, and then I will share it.

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Tonight we are going to take it easy per DJ’s request. I think we are going to grab dinner somewhere local and then relax at home. I am going to try to squeeze in a bit more studying before the day wraps up. I am also attending a women’s conference this weekend and am incredibly excited for that!!!! DJ will be taking the weekend pretty easy. Sunday night is when we are actually celebrating his birthday with a nice night out.

Lastly, but most importantly, our thoughts and prayers fervently go out to all those affected by hurricane Matthew .

Wishing you an icing on the cake kind of day,

xo ❤

Mack