Our Four Year Anniversary Celebration & Homemade Indian!

Present Day: Ok, this is the last back-logged post I have from August!! It won’t take long to catch up the last couple months though because we haven’t done a whole lot, haha. Hope you all are so well 🙂

img_5441

^^Oh. And dat me tryin’ to make it to December! I have another on campus intensive coming up in a couple weeks- I’m both excited to see my peers and a nervous nelly for the testing. I’ve been practicing the skills everyday for two months now. It will be such a relief when that’s over. Welp, here’s the post. It’ll be a surprise to me too, as to what’s in it, since I wrote it three full months ago. 

Original Post: Hey hey!!! Jumpin’ right on in after the last post… Let’s see- August 16th was filled with all the overdue check-ups at the dentist and doctor. August 17th we had set aside to celebrate our anniversary (even though it was over a week late- better late than never!). We discovered the absolutely extraordinary world of soufflé our previous anniversary at Cafe Jacqueline in San Francisco and found ourselves craving them again this time around. I scoured the internet to see if we could find a place that had them near us, but the closest place was Fort Worth- a bit out of the way. So, we decided to just make them at home ourselves. We made homemade soufflés for New Years Eve, and it was one of our favorite nights ever ever, so why not give it another go?

Also, we can’t just have a soufflé… when it’s a special occasion ya have to have appetizers too! I picked up some good meats, cheeses, and veggies from TJs  (yes, this is just for the two of us, haha). I served it all with warm focaccia bread and pita chips.

0c159a28-a804-4c97-8b6e-b258dfa060a9

I added some figs to the meat and cheese tray for a pop of dimension (And flavor as well- have you ever had prosciutto and fig together? It’s a combo I saw here and there on menus in the Bay- the whole sweet and savory experience).

504c6236-0366-4768-9576-43fdca9a4c30

For the veggies, I roasted broccoli to decorate the perimeter of the tray and then included fresh root carrots, marinated beets, artichoke hearts, cooked crimini mushrooms, roasted garlic bulbs, and sun-dried tomatoes with dipping hummus. There are few things that make me happier than preparing food. I just love it.

d97918c0-52b7-4ed8-acbb-8807b592976f

We enjoyed our apps with a glass of champagne and then got to prepping our soufflé. It’s a long, pretty arduous process to make soufflés. Once you make the actual batter you have to let it cool to room temp which can take up to a couple hours. During that time we took a walk around the city.

77c62002-4fea-493a-b1d8-3116251092eb

When we came back from our walk we put it in the oven for about 35 minutes. It came out nearly perfect, but was around 10 pm by the time we finally ate. We both agreed it was even better than the one we made from NYE, and I think we are figuring out the nuances of making a soufflé, slowwwwly but surely. Still working on getting the big “puff” effect on top.

fb6832bf-9312-4c39-a705-dfbd4a8ef9394d20dcb5-2138-4ad8-b256-4915d31c7ef8

It was a wonderful evening, just cooking together, watching some impractical jokers & this is a bit cheesy (and we’re not talking the copious amount of cheese we consumed that evening), but while eating our soufflé we wrote out a life bucket list. We always are talking about things we’d like to do, so we made it concrete and put it all in one place. I will try to type it up here sometime too!

August 18th we had friends in town from college who we went to church with. DJ had a ton of studying in the afternoon so I ran errands, cleaned the apartment.. all that jazz.. before we enjoyed leftovers for dinner in the evening.

August 19th I was in the mood to cook from scratch! I made this pasta from a cooking magazine, but replaced some of the items with healthier ingredients. It had whole wheat pasta, corn, soft boiled eggs, and parm in a delicious garlic olive oil sauce. For DJ’s I added turkey bacon too. Yummmy.

08f2b782-b1cb-477f-b2a8-8af53117de6f

On August 20th I had my car mirror officially fixed! Yay! We are back in business. In the evening I had a massive pizza craving. And a very specific pizza craving- Pizza Hut. Since discovering it in the Miami airport, it has entered my mind many a time since. After chipping away at my to-do list all day, I had worked up quite the appetite. I whipped into Pizza Hut to pick up a large pizza for dinner.

3aeb40e3-59bd-49cc-be5a-ce76f0f69f3b

Before pulling out of the parking lot… something caught my eye….across the street that there was a Dominos that had the same deal as Pizza Hut. Dominos was always my favorite chain growing up (or so I thought- that garlicky crust just got me). I haven’t had it since high school and thought of a brilliant beyond brilliant idea. It may be fun to do a side by side taste test to see if my perceived reality had stood the test of time. Plus then I wouldn’t need to cook dinner for a couple days- win-win!

70c67dc5-c751-4873-86da-c855ce426815

Below is the Dominos.

996401fb-d35c-478c-96dd-5dcc1c67ec68

The verdict? Pizza Hut won by a landslide eating the two side by side- not even a question! I put up a poll on my Instagram and people voted Pizza Hut as the better chain between the two. Now if I were to do this again- a Pizza March Madness bracket if you will, what other chain would you recommend I compare it to side by side? In the mean time, I am going back to eating local pizza since there are insanely good options around here, but it was nice to get my Pizza Hut fix.

On August 21st, I ran outside on the trails in the morning and saw this sweeeet couple in front of me. These shirts were too stinkin’ precious not to share!

04f7ba3a-0651-4bab-992d-334dc24f38c8

August 22nd, out on my run I saw some new cool artwork was displayed on the trails.

83af216b-1725-48d3-95f3-66490936ab3731cc0613-e65f-40ac-85c0-85c19c3da569

& I made sure to say hi to Charlotte.

287658cc-12ac-43ca-8410-38e9ae9eee98

I even saw these cuties by the water.

5865ba32-f7ef-4eb2-8548-62b36edc7f24

On August 23rd I went out by the pool for the first time since we’ve moved here. It was quite nice. I wanted to read my book on my kindle app, but it was to bright to even make out the words, so I just listened to a podcast while dunking my feet in the water.

c9615866-da1e-4c15-9a3b-40cdb14689b1-1

Oh!! And I know I mentioned in the last post our Indian food we had all ready to go- We had sambar, plus I made tofu curry and Idli with my idli maker my mom got us as a wedding gift.

a65ff2fc-b8e8-4d6a-bd7c-392bf77ae6f94cf98247-b2c0-4c7d-aa29-624db795a05c26e577ea-69b3-4a23-b3f5-b8dabbbc2bf7

Gosh, it was all so tasty and satisfying. That sambar transported me right back to Chennai! DJ and I both agreed we have to make it a priority to visit India together. I miss it!

And this brings us to this present moment Saturday August 24th at 3:48 pm. I am sitting at Bennu enjoying an iced oatmilk coffee and anticipating a fun date night in downtown tonight with DJ and church tomorrow. Have a great week everyone 🙂

ae939883-3a43-4e6c-a03f-a22a2b2196e5

Questions for you:

  • Please tell me something going on in your world! Anything at all. I miss reading blogs more than you know!!! Just. have. to. make. it. to. December 16th. Then I’m gonna at least have a couple days to catch up!

xo <3

submark signature

Advertisements

One Big Rambling Post!

I started this post a few days ago, but haven’t had the chance to finish it until today- SOoOooo I woke up extra early to get this sun-of-a-gun done once and for all!

Hey y’all! This is my last official catch up post before going back to school tomorrow. I looked over the curriculum, and it looks really intense this semester. I know it will be okay, but I’m pretty anxious to just get started and get back in the groove of things. I have to remind myself these first weeks with “syllabus shock” are always overwhelming. So with a big deep breath I will get us all caught up. Sorry if I am MIA for a little bit here while I adjust back to the crazy study schedule, but know that I will blog and read your blogs whenever time allows. Gonna always need a study break, ya know? 😉

December 29th was a must needed restful Saturday. We did a whole lotta nothing, and it was great! I think I worked on some blogging & for dinner whipped us up some mahi mahi I had in the freezer with veggies for dinner. We watched our Arrested Development in the evening, of coursee.

December 30th we went to church in the morning, and we food was scarce in the apartment at this point since I still hadn’t been to the store since we left. I had some frozen bison taco meat for DJ I had before hand (thank goodness) & I made a hodge-podge for myself of eggs, squash, and hummus for lunch. It weirdly worked!

img_6816

I grabbed a See’s candy lollipop & headed to Trader Joe’s to get some real foood.

facetune_08-01-2019-23-15-51

And that brings us to NYE- December 31st!! Woohoo! Last year for NYE we were in Texas with my mom and Pete. (PS. WHAT was I thinking with that type of falsies? Someone should have given me a stern talking to, lol!!! What a stage I went through. Oy to the veyyy). Anywho- we just stayed in, and it was so fun & relaxing. I suggested we do that again this year and try to make soufflés since we’ve been talking about doing that together after going to Cafe Jacqueline. We got all our ingredients together and got to work while listening to our ole’ buddy, Frank Sinatra.

img_6783img_6784img_6785

While the soufflé was in the oven we enjoyed some yummy appetizers. Did I go overboard for just two people? Nahhhh, no such thing! Most everything is from TJ’s & I pulled out my homemade hummus. The artisanal bread was wonderful! I also made some roasted carrots & beets. I have never made my own roasted beets before, but it may become a staple- they crisped up so easily like chips & were just delicious!

img_6786img_6787

^^ Fun fact: That was all frozen cheese (half regular/half vegan) from when we went to wine country a few months ago. Cheese freezes very well. You just defrost it & it’s good to go. (Just don’t let it melt- I accidentally let the pepperjack/some of the vegan provolone go a tiny bit too long).

img_6788

I also saw these champagne gummies I could not help but resist! They were very tasty!

img_6781img_6789

So when we first took out our soufflé from the oven it hadn’t quite risen all the way, but I think it eliminated the “rise” after we let the cool air in. We cooked it a few minutes longer and it puffed up a bit more and the cheese got all yummy & caramelized on top! (but that’s why there is a divide in it- from when we tried to get a slice the first time around).

img_6790

The flavor was spot on- we tried to recreate the corn/ginger/garlic flavor, and it was pretty doggone close! Next time we are going to cook it a little longer & I think I’m going to whip my egg whites a bit more to give it more rise (isn’t that how it works?). It was still so light and airy, we enjoyed every little nibble!!! Once I perfect it I will share the recipe!

img_6817

We then plopped on the couch to watch the NYE show. This year looked frigid in the ole’ NYC.

img_6793

But ya cannot forget dessert. Believe it or not we still had room for this bad boy below.

img_6794

We saw this recipe on Tasty and when is a better time to recreate this monster than NYE? Here’s the thing though- we like every baked good we eat at home severely undercooked- practically asking for salmonella (what’s life without living on the edge). So all cookies, brownies, etc…must only be kissed by the oven! This meant it didn’t all “compact” the way it did in that video and really was just a big glob, but man, was it ever a good glob! SO rich, but goood. (I may or may not have had my slice with some double fudge brownie ice cream too).

^^ haha, it’s so obnoxious.

img_6795

Jan 1st was the last day off for DJ before he went back to work, so we just chilled at home, worked on Christmas “thank yous”, enjoyed leftovers throughout the day, and I went on a 12-mile run at some point. I also read a big chunk of The Hate You Give– I can’t wait to finish it- I could do a whole post on how it has challenged my perspectives & opened my eyes. Highly recommend this read to everyone.

The 2nd I spent nearly the entire day posting on Poshmark! LOVE Poshmark.

The 3rd I had a Facetime Dinner date with my best friend from Ohio, Rachel. MISS HER soooo much. My picture I took didn’t turn out, but she got one from her end!

img_6797

After, I went to Sara’s to hangout and catch up after our holidays. We had some tea and gabbed away for hours.

Friday, January 4th- January 5th were another two days of just getting things off the to-do list and ready for school and shipping Poshmark sales. In the evening I made these bacon wrapped scallops for DJ since our leftovers were getting low.

img_6818img_6798

He loved them! Definitely a two-thumbs-up recommendation!

Sunday, January 6th, we went early to church to help on the serving team (I’m so thankful I finally have a schedule that allows me to be a part of that again!). Since DJ “bumps out” (tears down the equipment, venue since it is a rental, etc.) after the 11:30 service we had some time between the two to grab some breakfast/brunch. We went to the table in Willow Glen that I’ve had my eye on for a while. I realized I kinda stalk restaurants- I’ll drive by a few times, look them up on YELP, go into a deep Google review dive, and then finally visit and introduce myself in person.

img_6799img_6804

Since it was raining outside & somewhat chilly their outdoor seating area was freed up. I had my winter coat on and they had heaters, so we agreed to go ahead and sit out there to weather the storm. The temperature was actually just fine with the heaters! We did walk through the inside of the restaurant to get there- loved the vibe and how it was decorated.

img_6800img_6801

The menu had such unique options & changes frequently! It was a bit on the pricier side, but it’s all seasonal locally sourced ingredients and everything was wonderful- the service, food, environment.

img_6802

The coffee was yummy- but could have been a bit hotter (but that’s what I say everywhere 😉 ).

img_6803

DJ tried their lemon ricotta pancakes and they were what lemony dreams were made of!! Sometimes when I order the lemon ricotta pancakes the “lemon” doesn’t quite come through, but the flavor was brilliant in these. Can you tell I snagged a few bites?

img_6805

I had their avocado, crab, and egg toast that was considered a “snack”. This was not your average avocado toast- it had Dungeness crab & trout roe on perfectly cooked toast (very slightly burnt). Mmm!

img_6807img_6808

Monday January 7th I met with my nurse friend Kim in the afternoon for coffee at Orchard Valley in Campbell. I am totally gonna have to come here to study! They had so many tables & it was nice n’ quiet.

img_6809

It was lovely to catch up with Kim, I always leave our conversations refreshed and encouraged.

img_6810

In the evening I made us Sriracha Shrimp Bowls with eggs & artisanal bread (still left from TJs!). It was a great combo, kinda reminded me of bibimbap!

img_6811

We plopped down to watch the train wreck that was the premiere of Colton’s season of The Bachelor. Lemme say, it easily could have been an hour, not three. I’m going to watch every second, but I am beyond tired of the virgin storyline, and quite frankly, I think some of the girls need to check themselves because a couple were downright disrespectful about it. I know I don’t usually get heated up in hurrr, but I could go off! First night favorites: Cassie and Katie. I thought Bri’s entrance was gold (although she looks a lot like Lauren Bushnell which…….. ehhh… that’s all I’ll say). I also didn’t mind Erika’s entrance! I liked that it was simple & a play on her name. Demi’s trouble, but I’m here for it. I’m surprised Jane & Erin got sent home. Would love to hear your thoughts!!

Going from reality TV back to reality, I told DJ something I wanted to try this year was one recipe per week of his request to get me out of my own cooking comfort zone. One of his favorite soups is cream of veg from the Dixie Stampede. I made it a long time ago (probably four years), and he requested it to be his recipe of the week. I made it on Tuesday the 8th, and it was crazy easy, but he kept raving about how much he loved it.

facetune_08-01-2019-23-11-19

Yesterday, the 9th, I started school. I don’t know why, but I was suffering from some severe anxiety that made it hard to even get through even a paragraph of reading. I thought I got it all under control after my residency ended, but it’s creeping back up. I think seeing the massive load of assignments we have this semester plus some big life changes (more on that to come) just felt overwhelming to think about (although it’s all great stress to have). And I know the anxiety is disproportional… I submitted an assignment and forgot to indent and space in a couple spots, and it nearly sent me into a full blown panic attack. I couldn’t stop thinking about it the rest of the day (It was a TWO point introduce yourself post). Coo-koo, I tell ya what! Maybe it’s hormones… is it a full moon?! I bet it’s a full moon. Nope, it’s not a full moon, I just checked. Scratch that. Hmm idk. I’m just gonna ride this wave out. I read some scripture in the evening which really helped put me at ease, and I already feel better refreshed this AM. Okay enough rambling- gotta get back to work. I get to see my third graders today too at B+G club that I haven’t seen since mid-December, so I have that to look forward to this afternoon!

Question for you:

  • Any recipes you’ve tried lately that you love?
  • Best book you’ve ever read? (I’m making my 2019 reading list now!)

xo <3

signature-1

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.

img_6008

Love this city <3

img_6042

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.

img_2729-1

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.

img_6041img_6009

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

img_6011

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

img_6007

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? 

img_6043

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.

img_6012

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!).

img_6006

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.

img_6016

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

img_6013

Best. Girlz. Night. Ever.

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

img_6005

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!

img_6002img_6001

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

img_6014

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

img_6055

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

img_6015

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.

source.gif

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.

img_5994

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 <3

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!

img_5986

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.

img_5987

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.

img_5980

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.

img_5981-1

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.

img_5978

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

img_5982

img_5988

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?!

img_5992

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!

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).

img_5991

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!

img_5985

Happy New Year from Us to YOU!!!

img_5824-1

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

xo <3

Mack

Cleveland, Ohio- A Perfect Christmas

HAPPPPPYYYY NEW YEAR! Here we are the end of 2016, and before it crosses into 2017, I am going to do my best to recap our Christmas!!! Excuse the spelling and grammatical errors, because I’m sure there will be plenty considering I’m trying to whip this out in like 20 minutes.

So, CHRISTMAS!

On December 23rd, I arrived in Cleveland, Ohio. I was picked up by one of my best friend’s from childhood. We were able to sneak in a quick dinner together at BJ’s in Montrose, OH, my old stomping grounds.

img_5651

I wished we snagged a picture together, but we were so busy talking and catching up it didn’t cross my mind (but yes, taking a picture of my cherry-chipotle salmon still did cross my mind).

The rest of the evening was so nice, relaxing, and needed after a full day of travel. I spent it chatting with DJ’s mom in the kitchen while wrapping all the gifts I had shipped to their house so I didn’t have to lug them on the plane. She was so kind to let them stockpile over there for the last couple months! Sitting around and just talking away in her kitchen is one of my ALL TIME favorite things to do in the world. Since I have dated DJ since high school, that kitchen island has hosted countless laughs, discussions, decisions, and family time at it’s finest.

DJ came in on a red-eye in the morning of the 24th, Christmas Eve. Before he came home from the airport, I went out for a run. This view below defines home for me. Ya’ll have essentially seen me as a ‘Cali girl’, but Farmer’s markets, the giant swing at Szalay’s, cornfields, washed-out red barns, and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park are nearly as innate as my genetic makeup. The miles of running trails that I’m able to circumnavigate through sheer muscle memory, or rather soul memory, hold onto my secrets from years and years past. The actual footprints of my running shoes may weather away, but the memories of the struggles, trials, elations, and joy that have soaked this part of northeast Ohio is indelibly there forever. I relished every second of that cold run that brought an inner warmth nearly incomparable to much else.

img_5652

One of my friends, Annie, said to me yesterday- “Your blog cracks me up. One second you are like, guys, here is something really serious and then BAM, here’s a picture of some food!” Ha! She’s so right and that is exactly what I’m doing right now.

BAM. Here is a pic of some DELICIOUS homemade cinnamon sugar donuts that my mother- in-law made! Seriously some of the best tasting donuts ever. She should open a bakery.

img_5653

On the night of Christmas Eve, some REALLY exciting things happened. I FINALLY MET MY NIECE, Kate!!!!!!!! The feeling of holding this gem in my arms brought me so.much.joy. She is perfect. As an Aunt to my niece and nephew, the feeling of love is just truly overwhelming- I can’t imagine possibly being able to  love them more than I do, but that also provides for me a small glimpse of what a parent’s love must feel like. I also see how my own Aunt loves us like her own, and I totally get it in a new way now.

img_5446img_5696img_5481img_5690

Here’s my amazing nephew, Jack. He is one of the most intelligent, spunky, and inquisitive little two-years- olds I have ever met. I am blessed. The only way I could be more blessed is if I could have had him sit still for a picture. But I’ll take what I can get 😉

img_5689

We went to Mass at my brother and sister in law’s church. It is a breathtakingly beautiful Church in downtown Cleveland.

img_5655-2img_5654-2

My brother and his wife are some of the greatest parents I know. When my dad passed away, my brother became the rock of the family. He has constantly emphasized the importance of family, prioritizing us, encouraging us, and being there to offer wisdom and a hand no matter what. My sister-in-law is also one of the most gracious, loving, and just fun individuals to be around. I am thankful I have them as role models for when it DJ and I have kids one day.

When we got back to my brother’s house we had a scrumptious traditional lasagna, meat or veggie option, with salad and rolls. SO YUMMY! There were a good number of people here this year that we had to split into two rooms for dinner. It fills my heart to have a full house on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve has traditionally always been the night that we spend with my dad’s side of the family, but for a few years it felt that there were fewer and fewer people each year. Even my sister, Andrea, was gone for a couple years living in China. I missed her so much, and it makes me so happy to see the family growing again <3

We spent the night playing games, laughing, and exchanging gifts. It’s super fun opening them up with my nephew now that he sort of has a handle of what is going on. Except the wrapping paper and boxes seem to be his favorite part!

Siblings <3img_5691-1

Christmas morning I did Insanity and then DJ and I got in our Christmas garb on to go downstairs!

Drumrollllll……..

img_5478img_5476img_5680

img_5501

Yes- we jumped on that onesie train! We had breakfast all together and then headed over to visit some of DJ’s extended family. It was just a great day with amazing family, friends, food, and the cutest pups you’ve ever seen.

img_5678img_5713

This is DJ’s twin sister Amy’s corgi named Pool Noodle. Is that not the best name you have ever heard for a corgi, and is he not the cutest corgi you have ever seen?!?!

He is also pretty insta-famous: poolnoodlethecorgi

img_5774img_5710img_5711img_5435

The evening was filled with a Christmas dinner nothing short of holiday food deliciousness, and the desserts to follow …. well, the picture speaks for itself… perfection. I crave my mother-in-law’s pumpkin pie all year long. She is one of the BEST baker’s I have ever known. It’s not a holiday without her desserts!

img_5704

On the 26th I squeezed in another run. I would occasionally find myself on the lookout for mountain lions! It’s weird that I didn’t have to be concerned about them. DJ and I also had a bit of culture shock with the amount of space, land, and lack of people! We kept feeling like, “Where is everyone?!”. Welcome to the midwest!

img_5663img_5700img_5664img_5662

The rest of the day was super chill for us. The best kind of day. I love how being home, whether in Texas or Ohio, forces me to just veg-out a bit.

On the 27th, I had dinner with a good friend I’ve known since 6th grade. She’s one of those people that it’s incredibly easy to just pick right back up where we left off. We went to Mustard Seed Market & Cafe at Highland Square. This has always been one of my ALL TIME favorite restaurants. They have an incredible selection of vegetarian and vegan options that blow me away every time.

img_5659img_5660img_5695img_5658

I had the vegan Rueben sandwich with their antioxidant salad with turmeric dressing and coconut bacon. I could eat this for every single of my whole life, not joking.

img_5787

We spent the rest of the night with the family playing words with friends, watching Secret life of Pets and hottubbing! Also Hot tubbing NEVER gets old.

On the morning of the 28th I had breakfast with Rachel! A few of you that have followed me for a couple months may remember when she visited San Fran. You can read about it here and here 🙂 I was beyond excited to see her; I was missing her mucho.

We went to First Watch which is a must-go-to place when I go back to Richfield. It’s a chain, so a few of you may have heard of it?!? Anything on their menu is fantastic. They are notorious for their massive pancakes- banana nut or carrot cake are my favorites.

img_5674

I had their triathlete egg white omelette with house-roasted crimini mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and green chilies. It’s served with housemade salsa, a dry english muffin, and fresh fruit. This is my go to easily! I also love their power wrap (minus the turkey) and their Energy bowl.

img_5673-2

Rach ordered their pesto chicken quinoa bowl with protein-packed quinoa mixed with kale, shredded carrots, and house-roasted tomatoes topped with grilled all-natural lemon chicken breast, basil pesto sauce, feta crumbles, and fresh herbs. This is a favorite of a lot of people I know! Rachel loved it too.

img_5671-1

She also ordered their daily juice selections, it was simply revivifying. You cannot go wrong with a First Watch juice- they are fantastic.

img_5672-1

Rach and I hung out at her house after for a bit. Her house is like my second home to me. I always miss her and her family tons being so far away, but I was thankful that I could at least see her for that small amount of time! <3 <3

img_5574img_5668img_5669img_5767

Also she wins best gift giver of the century award. For any occasion, she thinks of the MOST creative, thoughtful gifts. For example, for our wedding, Rach had cornhole boards with our last name and the date of our wedding personalized in our wedding colors made. That’s just one of many,many examples, and this Christmas she once again blew me away!!!!! We have an inside joke of “just read the blog” when I either run out of time to tell her something, or I have a long story- I’ll always just say “just read the blog”. We occasionally throw out #ontheblog or #justreadtheblog as sorta a joke now. So look what she made me…..!!!!!

img_5694img_5693

She even had my sign-off! GUYS! Is she the best or what?!?!? She MADE this herself. I can’t get over it. She is starting to get a business off the ground so when she does, I’ll share her info with you all!

That evening we went to Burntwood Tavern in Fairlawn with DJ’s side of the family. It was such a rustic, and yet elegant, place to enjoy some great American cuisine.

img_5667-1img_5679-1img_5708-1img_5705-1

After dinner we packed up our bags (cue the tears), hot-tubbed one more time, ate as much of the desserts that we could for one last night, and then tried to snag a couple hours of sleep. At 3 AM we hit the airport and were on our way back to California.

img_5665-1img_5706

I am so thankful for the time to get together with our family and friends. We definitely missed those that couldn’t make it, but we treasured dearly the time with the ones that could. Nursing may consume my holidays in the future, but I’m grateful for at least this last one. More than anything too, I’m thankful for what Christmas means. It’s easy to get caught up in the hum-hum of holiday festivities, but the message behind Christmas is what is most important <3

I cannot wait to read about how everything is going for all of YOU! I am so behind on reading, but I am truly looking forward to catching up this week. Getting those blogger cravings. Anyone else?

Currently DJ and I are on our way to SF to celebrate NYE!!!!!!

Happy New Year to everyone! I am thankful for all of you, for everyone I have met this year through blogging, and I wish you all nothing but joy, love, and blessings in this year to come!

xo <3

Mack