Finding my [[ Center ]] & Fighting Self Care Guilt

Happy Friday Eve, everyone! I have been spending the last couple weeks finding my center per the title. *Cue the yoga mudra*. This sounds like some serious Californian crap, but ohhh well, it’s trueeee.

Leaving off from the last post, I entered into the next week determined to do some serious self care.

Self care is difficult for me because I tend to feel like I have to be dying on my sword, exhausted in every way before I allow myself to take a darn bubble bath. But that’s what these couple of months are for before diving back into the deep end in August. I am struggling though because if I’m rested, calm, and moving less than the pace of a tornado- am I doing something wrong?! The guilt has been knocking at the door… but I had to remind myself of the beautiful lesson I learned about seasons/transition times when I moved here, and I am going to soak up these next few weeks best I can. After all, I have to be rested before I can give my all, right?

My sister, Andi, and I chatted on the phone on Father’s Day reminiscing about our Dad and life in general. I told her how I’m feeling a bit strange not being busy busy busy. She said the awesome thing about these phases and seasons is that you are available- truly available for whatever God might have for you.

Case and point- I was on a run today and saw a debit card on the sidewalk. In all my busyness previously, I honestly may have just left it, not bothering myself with it. But since I had the time, I was able to run the card to the nearest Police Station- It felt good being able to just do something that I selfishly probably wouldn’t have if I was in one of my busy seasons. The police called back and said the man was incredibly grateful. I also feel like I’ve just been able to be there for my friends and family a bit more this last couple weeks. Usually, I just keep my phone on “Do not Disturb” because when I was at work I obviously couldn’t answer, and when I wasn’t at work I was running around getting ready for work or trying to sleep. It resulted in a endless games of phone tags and a full voicemail box. Now, I actually have my phone on and am able to chat with my friends and family who are going through some tough stuff right now. I’m so glad I can be there to just listen.

So what does this self care look like? Well first, I have allowed myself to sleep without an alarm (which is a challenge when usually I set an alarm even when I don’t need one). My body has been thanking me though- I am breathing easier and feel like my feet are actually on the ground. My circadian rhythm is resetting- and not only physically- but emotionally too.

I’m beginning to actually feel like myself again.

Second- I am cutting out the artificial sweetener drinks and sticking to water. I love those ICE drinks and Vitamin Water Zero- but I have decided to try to just drink pure water. I have noticed the difference in two things- bloating & energy. I love my flavored wa’ (pronounced wah), but time to hydrate the old fashioned way.

Next, this past year in nursing I have severely damaged my back, actually more than I realized. I am working on doing more stretching and some yoga to help it, but DJ suggested I get a massage. I decided Monday June 11th to get one at Elements Massage in Los Gatos with a coupon. Although the masseuse  talked the entire time and we ended up talking about her family’s medical issues, it was still enjoyable. A nurse is never really off duty ;). Haha.

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Monday during The Bachelor(ette) season is my favorite night of the week! I love that DJ watches with me because he has the most hilarious commentary. We took a nice lazy walk on Sunday night on Main Street and passed Rootstock Wine Bar. We decided we would hop in there the next night for a glass of wine before the Bachelorette.

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It’s pretty expensive, but sooo delish, and a nice date place every once in a while. They always have some of the best wine. I also love the whole ambiance- it’s rustic, yet chic, and comfortable. On some nights they have live music playing. We sat out on the patio and enjoyed our glass of wine before walking home to eat our Tollhouse  chocolate chip cookies and watch maybe the silliest shows on television. (Although.. it does look like it could win an Oscar next to the Proposal- ew, that show– awful. Do not even get me started!).

Tuesday morning, the 12th, I tried my first Orange Theory class!!! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I used the arm band for the first one, so I don’t think it was accurate- but it a fantastic workout. I don’t think I’ll stick to the courses because it’s very similar to Insanity (with the HITT routine) that I already do. But every once in a while with some friends it would be fun!

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Almost every night this last couple weeks (That DJ doesn’t have a game of course), Deej and I have been going on evening walks after dinner. This has been one of my favorite parts of the day. We used to take walks often when we lived in Indiana, but have just been so on the go since moving here. It’s been great to have that time together to chat, unwind, and reconnect.

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Wednesday, the 13th,  I did Insanity then realized a new Handmaid Tale episode was out on Hulu. To Peet’s we go with popcorn in tow!

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After, I rounded up our groceries for the week from TJ’s and did some meal prep the rest of the day. In afternoon I started the book, “Behind Closed Doors”. It’s a difficult read from a content perspective, but goodness I could not put it down. Has anyone read it?

Thursday morning, the 14th, I made the same avocado toast that I’ve been having every morning while enjoying it out on my balcony. It has a slice of seeded bread, 2 TBSP hummus, 1/2 avocado, and pink himalayan salt and pepper. I think I’ll be on this kick for a while.

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I went for a run, although somehow I think a sweat bee got caught in my mouth and stung me or something. I was okay, but it was a bit of a shock and hurt! I don’t even know how that happened, lol, but the bee season is in full swing right now. I then was proceeded to be chased by killer crows on the last rung of my run. They followed me about 1/4 mile even when I changed direction and then started flying in front of my face. It was so scary!!! I dove across four lanes of traffic and finally lost them. (A few days later, I heard on the radio this is a thing in Canada!). Mack vs. Nature- 0-2.

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I then caught up on e-mails, laundry, etc.

One of the meals I meal prepped for the week was salmon, broccoli, wild black rice, and ciabatta bread from Trader Joe’s! We gobbled this up for dinner.

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Friday I headed to my first Bar experience!! I had heard about Barre3 from Kori, and when my friend invited me to try The Bar Method, I jumped on it. I think there are some differences between those two- but generally the same idea.

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The boutique was immaculate, quiet, and adorably decorated.

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So my thoughts on bar: I’m such a cardio junkie- so this was a fantastic new challenge for me! I loved how much they focused on strength through micro-movements. It was a workout unlike anything I’d ever done before. I still don’t know that I can totally depart from my cardio- but I would love to incorporate the idea of focusing on such specific muscles into my normal workout regimen more. No wonder Kori & Kaci (Kori’s twin) have the most perfectly toned arms!!

The rest of the day Sara, my friend, and I went back to her house to binge watch our show & snack.

In the evening I headed to Harry Potter Night to watch the San Jose Giants play!

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They went alll out for this! When you enter the gates, they give you a ticket and sort you into a house. Despite the long debate DJ and I had in our kitchen about which house we would be in, I was sorted into Gryffindor! (The sorting hat at Warner Bros said Gryffindor too, sooooo).

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If I had to sort myself I think I’d be in Ravenclaw. Which house are you?!

They even sold Butterbeer from a local brewery (It was basically cream soda, mmm mm!).

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I just LOVE minor league games, especially at Muni. The food is irresistible and the environment is pure fun and excitement.

I recorded on video the House Race on broomsticks, and this poor little man ate it. I felt bad, but I couldn’t help from laughing.

Saturday morning, the 16th, I was craving a soft boiled egg over my toast. I went through FIVE eggs to try to get one that didn’t break right when I was taking off the shell. Well…..

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I overcooked it when I finally thought I had it right. Haha. What are your tricks for a perfect soft boiled egg that’s a bit runny?!

I ended up just going with a normal over medium fried egg.

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Yum, yum!

I went for a calming long walk, listened to a podcast, chatted on the phone, and then during my mid-stride bliss, I was pooped on by a bird. Not the first time this has happened, probably not the last. After taking a THOROUGH shower and washing all my clothes, I then got to work posting tons of things on Poshmark and Ebay that I’ve been wanting to post for a while.

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These are all the clothes I have left (minus workout clothes/pants that are in my dresser). I feel lighter having narrowed it down to clothes I actually wear (considering I wear the same like five outfits in rotation- ha). DJ had to work the weekend, but was home Saturday night for dinner.

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We improvised with the little bit of salmon we had left, rice, and them a tomato soup from trader Joe’s with tortilla strips.

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Sunday the 17th was Father’s Day. It was a hard day- just missing my Dad and DJ had to be at work so I did feel a bit lonely. I went on a long walk in the afternoon and called my step dad, Pete, and my grandpa which turned my mood right around. I’m so excited to see them in about a month! I continued to spend the rest of the day spring cleaning and posting to Ebay/Poshmark.

Monday the 18th- Wednesday the 20th I spent the days shopping. Ok, that probably sounds wonderful to most of you, but not for me! I hate shopping (especially when I need something). I get in the mood maybe once a year for like five minutes when I actually want to shop. This was not one of those times. I needed to find a dress for a wedding we have next weekend and also was hoping to find something to wear for fourth of July. I struck out everywhere, leaving each place empty handed.

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^ I mean, this is what I’m working with… (although the dress alone is pretty cute!).

I did enjoy seeing the massive gorgeous Anthropologie at Stanford Mall.

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Since I couldn’t find a single thing, to online shopping we go (I must clarify- I do LOVEEE online shopping! I’m still a female, ya know?).

Tuesday evening, the 19th, we headed to DJ’s Dad’s to celebrate Father’s Day and to say goodbye (They are moving back to Ohio). It was bittersweet, but I’m glad we had one last hurrah before we saw them go.

Yesterday morning the 20th, I had the best cosmetologist (in my book) at Limon Salon work some serious magic on my damaged hair (part 2)… part one is in the previous recap where she had to work my hair out of the awful highlights.

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Last evening, I made a big crockpot chicken and veggie slow cooked meal that made the house smell magical. I am going to try to make meals in the next couple weeks that we can freeze for when things pick up here soon.

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I’m now sitting at Peet’s (imagine that) and then heading to a work dinner with DJ’s coworkers tonight. Woohoo!

How are your weeks going? If you know how to make a soft boiled egg, please help your girl out!

xo <3

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Celebrations & A Half Moon Bay Day Trip :)

Hello all mack-mareaders (see what I did there?!). Right off the bat I want to say a heartfelt thank you for your response to my last post. I can’t tell you how encouraging this community is- you all have lifted my spirits through this grueling past year, and I am deeply thankful for each of you <3

Once again I have left myself with a good deal of catch up! Starting with us arriving back from Portland. You may remember the travel map DJ gifted me for Christmas…. we were able to add a Portland pin to it! Cause if you liked it then you shoulda put a pin on it. 

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When we returned, we worked hard through the rest of the week then into that weekend (May 26-27), my last weekend on this unit :(. While I am SO excited to finally have my Sundays back with my Church family- I had developed another family. Our weekend crew was the same every weekend so we all grew super close. I especially had a special bond with my work moms. There were two ladies who took me under their wing, mentored me unofficially, and helped me figure out the next step when I thought I was at a dead end. I didn’t expect to get too emotional until the very last day, but as I was telling one of my work moms- Mia (I called her Momma Mia) we both started crying. Ah, I will miss them, I already do. We had a cute little weekend potluck that Sunday.

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I spent the next few days catching up on house chores, laundry, etc. from our Portland trip and recapping the trip on the blog. On Wednesday I went to Trader Joe’s to stock up on goodies for my last day to take in to thank everyone for all their help this year. I seriously wish I had known about the magic of TJ for all these years….. they just have EVERYTHING. And we have cut down significantly on our shopping budget since shopping there!

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And then June 1st… my last day came… <3 It was hard to believe this was the last time (for now) that I’d be walking through these doors.

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When I came home, DJ was still at work, but this was waiting for me on the counter..

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It warmed my heart- so thoughtful! He left the sweetest card and a compass path candle. He’s a good one, I’ll tell ya what….

Saturday, June 2nd, I woke up early to get some hair did. Guys.. my roots were SO bad. They have never been this bad before. I’d include a picture of the before but I think I’d scare you.

Needless to say… I was pretty excited once those sons of a guns were touched up. (For my blondies out there- I started doing balayage last year instead of highlights. It lasts way longer and looks more natural. Well, the last time I had my hair done before the cruise, my regular stylist wasn’t available so I took whoever was available- she insisted on re-highlighting my hair, but I recognized the roots way sooner and missed the natural balayage feel. <– That sentence was about as long of a run on as my roots were). What is your preference? Highlights? Balayage?

 

 

In the evening, my friend Sara came over to celebrate my completion of the program and starting this new journey with school. We pulled out all. the. snacks.

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We watched a new show and paused intermittently to chat at times. Love girl time!

On Sunday the 3rd, we had an eventful day! DJ had a busy morning at the stadium and then we whipped down to Oracle for Game 2 of the Finals!

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Goooo Cavs!!!! Our blatant support of the Cavs caused quite the ruckus. No worries friends & fam- we held down the fort.

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After, we crossed over the Bay bridge into SF to get dinner with a couple of our friends.

I can’t actually remember crossing the Bay Bridge before, and oh myyyy was it ever beautiful all lit up!

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The sun set added such a warmth to the evening. I had never been in SF on a weekday night (well, going into a weekday night), and the quietness of the city mixed with the setting sun and twinkling lights was almost romantic. It gave me a new appreciation for my already favorite city <3

It was an unforgettable day with great memories and friends.

On the following Monday the 4th, I was running errands near DJ’s stadium, and he said he was heading to lunch if I wanted to join. It was fun to have the freedom to pop in and even though I’d already eaten it was fun to just sit and recount the game with him spur of the moment.

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DJ loved the habit burger and says their chocolate malts are one of his favorites.

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In the evening, we watched Bachelorette together. Anyone watch? Any thoughts? I was excited for this season, but so far I feel like it’s a bit of a snooze fest (I guess they always are in the beginning, aren’t they?).

Tuesday the morning of the 5th,  I grabbed breakfast with my friend Danielle whom I haven’t seen in FOREVER.

We met in downtown San Jose on South First at Social Policy.

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As I walked around, I found a new appreciation for downtown San Jose… it was looking extra colorful and bright this morning. It’s funny how sometimes we can forget to be a tourist in our own town. I’m going to make a more concerted effort to explore SJ this summer.

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The line for SoPo was out the door even on a Tuesday morning. It was well worth the wait!

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I had a cafe au lait with their house-made almond milk and their avocado smash (best avocado toast I’ve ever had).

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I’m on an strong avocado kick right now.

The rest of the day I spent cleaning up my e-mails, making a giant to-do list for the summer, enjoying a nice run outside, then meal prepping.

Wednesday, oh our dear Wednesday, the 6th, we watched the Cavs lose in the Finals 🙁 But we had some spicy sriracha green beans from The Habit to help mitigate the pain.

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Thursday, the 7th, I spent the day running, reading, blogging and sipping a cafe au lait at Peet’s while watching some Hulu… I may have also taken the popcorn with me in a ziplock container to Peet’s… people probably were slightly confused, but Peet’s is my second home after all.

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Friday the 8th, I pulled the trigger on an idea I’ve had for a while. OK, this is so silly, but I have so many food pictures from this blog that I wanted to compile into one place. I figured why not create an Instagram where I can just store them (and use puns to my heart’s content)? I always want to post them on my personal insta, but I feel like I would just be spamming all my friends and fam.. This is going to be my little creative outlet (besides this blog of course).

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Please leave your Instagram handle below so I can follow you there!

Saturday, the 9th, we went to Half Moon Bay for my first time (DJ had been once before).

It was chilly out- in the low 60s- and for me that’s winter, hence the winter jacket. Yes, I know, we have grown soft. Our midwest skins would be disappointed in us.

Half Moon Bay is a sleepy little beach town, so quiet, serene, and surprisingly full of history.

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We walked along the beach for a while, then the coastal trail.

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We wondered along downtown hand in hand, soaking up the lazy afternoon, peeking into family owned shops, and letting our conversations wonder aimlessly as we were.

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With the bitter chill in the air (lol, I’m so dramatic), I was craving a hot coffee. We stopped by The Cafe Society, a quaint little coffee shop/jazz bar- how fun is that?! I grabbed an americano with steamed almond milk, then we headed back into the tundra. Baha.

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The colors just popped, each storefront was lovingly decorated with intricate details.

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We passed a Tom & Pete’s- I realized I’d seen this place before but couldn’t remember where exactly… then it hit me! It was the truck located at the pumpkin patch we went to a couple years ago.

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We also noticed this Jail that was built in 1911. It looked like there was a tour going on. The jail pushed up against the mountains looked like something out of a storybook.

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Before heading back, we were not about to miss an opportunity to go to Sam’s Chowder House!

 

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I saw they had a seaweed salad on the menu, and it sounded just perfectly refreshing! Love my seaweed.

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I opted to try their raw oyster bar- with 2 oysters, 2 clams, and 2 shrimp. When I ordered it DJ goes, “You don’t even like oysters”… and I longingly said, “But I wannnnt to like them”. And guess what! I really enjoyed these oysters! I actually enjoyed them even more then the clams, which says something, cause I love clams.

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DJ of course had their lobster roll (their go-to menu item that is just insanely delicious), and I snuck more than a few bites.

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Still convinced this is one of the best restaurants the Bay has to offer. If you want ridiculously fresh seafood- this is it.

Yesterday I was able to go back to Church for the first time in a while, and it was soooo nice. I then caught up with my friend Tammy after at Cafe San Jose.

I’m putting together a master summer bucket list for the SJ/SF/Oakland area- so if you have been PLEASE share with me your favorite place to eat, things to do, etc. (No worries, Kate, Capo’s is on the list hehe!).

Have a fabulous week, everyone 🙂

xo <3

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Nursing: Tribulation & Triumph.

Hey guys- This is another journal-like entry as I reflect on this past year. I don’t want to forget these pivotal moments, but to my loyal readers- do not feel obligated at all to read this one. It’s quite long! 

Do you ever have too many thoughts swirling around in your mind that the idea of trying to articulate them is intimidating? I’ve been putting off this post simply because I do not know where to begin. But something I have learned through writing these last couple years is “just write it”. It’s like if Nike modified their slogan to fit not physical athletes but those who win essay competitions, those who fuel up on coffee rather than Gatorade, and who suffer from carpal tunnel injuries rather than sprained ankles. Writers are athletes in their own right (or in their own write). Oops- now, this is the problem with just write it… it can get you far, but maybe not in the right direction.

Allow me to redirect this metaphorical train back to the topic at hand.

I  have not mentioned yet in my documented nursing rhetoric around here that in order to pursue a doctorate full time, I cannot continue to work full time simultaneously. I will be traveling cross country a few times a semester, potentially driving for hours to and from clinical assignments, and then studying hours on end. After extensive conversations with my husband we agreed it would be rational to begin the program without the full-time commitment, then potentially reapplying for part time or per diem positions once I feel out the flow of the program. I turned in my notice about a month ago. My managers could not have been more supportive. As I began telling each of my coworkers individually the realization started to set in …

You all know this job (although job seems such an inappropriate word), this calling that began on March 20th 2017 has been an obstacle, or rather a series of obstacles, tribulations, and triumphs. It has been the most strenuous, yet the most rewarding venture I have ever embarked. It has pulled my heart strings in nearly every direction that at times I thought it would tear. It pushed me to such utter fatigue that I felt that I didn’t have energy to speak at times. It shoved my emotional boundaries where I often wondered how my body could possibly produce another tear. It forced me to grapple with the most profound questions of life and come face to face with with the most integral parts of humanity- and to recognize the best and at times the darkest parts of myself. It brought to light the robustness of the human spirit- it showed me what true strength looks like as I walked along my patients, warriors, who fought tooth and nail for another day.

As the last day of work approached, this past Friday June 1st, I was overcome with reflection and contemplation. I didn’t realize it was possible to grow this exponentially in one year. I think back to my first days where I knew next to nothing. For about the first three months, I felt like I was given an insurmountable to-do list. I was given a  group of HIPAA names at the beginning of each shift that represented human beings that I was responsible to keep alive and I didn’t know how. If I made one wrong move, this person would lose his or her life because of me. The one phrase that resonated with me was, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. But what do you do when you “don’t know what you don’t know” involves peoples’ lives in the scales? The “don’t know” can be the difference between another day and the grave. Is there anything more terrifying? Every time I woke up to go to work I knew I would potentially be facing the next worse day of my life. This sounds melodramatic, but it’s the bleak truth- during this time I would often quietly hope that I would get in a car accident on the way to work so I wouldn’t have to go in (I know how awful that is- and I sought the proper help when those types of thoughts started creeping up). I don’t want to admit that, but it’s part of this story and it’s the cringe-worthy truth. I was depressed, and I was desperate, and I was failing. I was not going to make it through.

Then a note came around month four. We have these cards patients can fill out before they leave the hospital to thank someone who cared for them. I received a note from a patient thanking me for talking with her about some tough things she was going through outside of being sick and how much that conversation meant. When I received this note, it changed everything for me. To see I could have that type of impact changed my perspective and renewed my passion. It gave me a fire and strength to continue on. Then the next note came, then the next, then the next. I started to feel that I was actually making a difference, and nothing is more fulfilling than that.

And it was a two-way street. I reflect often on these patients that, conversely, impacted my life, and made every day, as hard as they were, so worth it. The past couple weeks these memories and interactions have flashed in front of my mind. There was the paraplegic man that was rotated among nurses because he was an “ extra difficult assignment”. When it was my turn for him, my heart just broke- he was not in good shape and, you know, I’d probably be cranky too. After a morning filled with a long string of complaints, aggravation, cruel words, and a ceaseless scream for “NURSE” that echoed into the halls, I had a moment of conviction. God was pulling on my heart strings to offer to pray for him. But God.. He won’t let me… it’ll make him more upset that I even offered… I still have to be his nurse for seven more hours… But ultimately the conviction won over. Through a single exhale I asked if I could pray for him. He looked thoroughly stunned, but quickly mumbled that would be ok. I prayed over him, and he was quiet for a moment. He thanked me and for the first time that shift, he asked me my name and didn’t just call me “nurse”. We had a great rest of a shift together. He asked if I would be back the next day. I wouldn’t be, but I was sad I couldn’t be back with him for a second day in a row.

Another patient was an older adult who was there for a spine surgery related to cancer. He was having a challenging recovery, but by the third day we had together we were able to get him up and walking. I rarely ever had time to walk with my patients, but this day I was able to squeeze one in with him, it was special. He was thrilled to be out of bed, walking about, and proud of his progress. At one point as he whipped around a corner with his IV pole I even had to pull out one of my go-to cheesy nurse jokes, “You better slow down, or you’ll get a speeding ticket!”. But soon, the nausea caught up, and I sat with him as he threw up. I loaded up his IV with anti-nausea meds and pressed a cold washcloth to his head to help him get it under control. He was so disappointed in himself, but I was not about to let him forget his tremendous progress. He was a rockstar in my book. That goodbye was a challenge because I knew he would be discharged by the time I returned. Upon saying goodbye he said to me, “I will never forget you for as many years I have left”. I will never forget him either, for as many years I have left.

There was the stroke patient who was engaged at the time of his stroke, he was trached, peg’d, unable to speak, and it was unclear how he would recover- if at all. He was one of my most trying patients from an acuity perspective and from an emotional perspective. I at times was at a loss for words with how to communicate with the family. After caring for him for three shifts in a row, I was on my day off, running outside. The whole situation suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks. Out of nowhere I stopped, I couldn’t breathe- and suddenly I just sobbed in the middle of the sidewalk. It’s not fair, I thought to myself. But for the first time I realized my tears were not from anxiety, they were from deeply grieving for my patient and his family. He wasn’t in my rotation of patients for a couple weeks, but one time I passed him when he was sitting in the hallway. He no longer had his trach and looked so much better, he was awake and seemed aware. I walked by and said hello and he spoke back in full sentences. For the first time, I saw a drastic recovery like this, and thought, I love my job.

Perhaps one of my most difficult assignments was when I was floated to another unit. I was assigned a man with a terminal illness who was showing signs of quick and acute decompensation. He was not yet comfort care, but I didn’t think he looked as though he was going to make it through the night. After consulting with the doctor, she was able to get consent from the family to convert him to comfort care– meaning we do everything possible to make him comfortable without continuing life saving treatment. His family was clearly in denial- which is extremely common. It can be confusing when we were just drawing labs, taking blood pressures, and giving fluids, and now all the monitors are turned off. He was slipping in and out of consciousness, and I told his wife if they had any family they should call them right away. I think it finally hit her, and the begging, the pleading, the crying, the look in her eye- is something I will never forget. I gathered with the family and we prayed over him and did whatever we could to make him more comfortable. It was 4:30 pm, and my float nurse insisted I take a lunch. We are required in California to go off the clock for thirty minutes, but the whole time I just mechanically ate like a robot- tasting nothing at all, only eager to return to the bedside. I thought my patient was going to pass on my shift, but he waited until later in the evening to go peacefully. During that shift and when I was home, I reflected on repeat what one of my clinical instructors said to me, “It’s a blessing to be there when someone comes into the world, but God hand picks those who are there as someone leaves it”. What a great responsibility it is to be a nurse.

I could list these stories, these actual realities for many, for pages and pages. Countless individuals have changed me as a person in a single year. I do not view life the way I did only a year ago. My outlook and priorities have changed. The job itself is relentless and hard, but I would not have made it through without my patients, their hugs, their encouragment, their humor, and inspiration to find a strength that pales in comparison to their own.

Working in this call, despite the pain and challenges, despite how the beginning was marked by an overwhelming cloud of anxiety, I have been filled predominantly with gratitude and appreciation. I would have conversations with God on the way to and from work, asking why he would entrust me with such amazing individuals’ lives, how do I have the honor to call myself a nurse? How did I end up at a teaching hospital where I was getting the best education and learning? How did I get blessed with such an unwavering support system to make it through? More than anything this experience made me appreciate the most basic elements of life.

I remember on a particularly tumultuous day, I stood in the supply closet forcing back tears and just found myself thanking God for the ability to breathe on my own, to pee on my own, to walk on my own, to speak on my own.

I have had to enforce fluid restrictions for patients with critically low sodium levels, and the way they would beg for just a sip of water….it was one of the most awful orders I had to carry out- I couldn’t give this water to them because they could die. It even made me appreciate drinking water at my leisure.

Working in the field of neurosurgery with my neurosurgical patients has been the most awakening, perspective changing and humbling experience. Each day is a gift, each moment, each breath is a gift.

Day by day, I slowly found my confidence in being a nurse. It didn’t mean it became easy, far from, but there was an empowerment I experienced with more competence. I felt more pride, ownership, and reward as I navigated the scary medical waters. I found I could advocate for my patients, communicate with them better, answer more questions, and confidently provide the best possible care without questioning every single thing I did. I found myself multi-tasking in a way I never realized I would be able to. Skills that would scare the code brown out of me at the beginning, I was able to do much more at ease. I was advanced to a Clinical Nurse II by my six month mark. I didn’t feel entirely deserving of the advancement in title, but was determined to do my best to live up to it.

Each day was still immensely intimidating, but around month eight I found myself able to separate home and work, having less anxiety, and experiencing more rewarding shifts. On Christmas Eve, I walked in to do a neuro assessment on a patient who had a marked change. I recognized something wasn’t right with her strength in her legs as it had been the previous assessment. I let the MD know, and as soon as the order was in I rushed her up to an MRI and CT scan…the resident came running into the CT room, out of breath, with a  surgical consent form in hand explaining she had an spinal epidural hematoma and needed emergent surgery. We got her into the OR right away. For the first time I think I saw how clearly I had saved someone’s ability to walk, potentially her life in a moment. As I was silently basking in this save while back on the unit changing another patients’ wound dressings, my phone rang. The secretary was on the other end, “Uh.. hey.. your patient fell in 9A”. “WHAT! Fell?!”. I couldn’t believe my ears. I can’t seriously have my first patient fall today I thought. On one of my best days as a nurse, I also had one of my worst. Tis’ nursing. The next day, Christmas, I received back the patient from with the epidural hematoma after a night in the ICU. She was moving her legs about and had no complications. It was one of the greatest Christmas presents I could have received. We sat and watched parts of a hallmark movie together as I pushed antibiotics through her IV, and I remember thinking, These holiday shifts aren’t so bad.

Come springtime, I was voted employee of the month, which I thought was a typo in the staff email or surely there was another person with my name on our unit because it couldn’t be me?! March I was our class representative at our Residency program graduation and gave the class speech. And this is not at all to brag or say I did anything special- I say this to highlight the fact that I was perhaps the most inadequate for this job, but my patients, family, friends, coworkers, and God’s providence pulled me through. With Him all things are possible, it is true, because this was an impossible obstacle in my mind.

Then my last day came… I felt so much love from my coworkers in a way I never expected. They even threw a surprise potluck complete with a sheet cake from Costco (the best, right?). It touched me deeply, and I will miss every single one of them. We have been through the thick of it together. I gave my last shift report and in true nursing shift fashion one patient reported chest pain, the other went into a state of delirium, and the other suddenly couldn’t pee. I tried to help tie up the last few loose ends best I could, but recognized I had to entrust my last few patients (for now) into the next, exceptionally competent nurses’ hands.

As I left the floor I had a moment, where after all the chaos quieted I was alone in the break room. I was about to leave, my hand turning the doorknob after cleaning out my locker, but I stopped, turned around for a moment and took in the view of the room one last time- this room had seen so many tears, fears, and victories. With a bittersweet sigh, I turned back around and walked out the door for the last time, leaving a job but taking an intangible amount of learning, stories, and faces with me.

I washed my scrubs for the last time today and as they tumbled in the laundry machine, I received an e-mail about class scheduling for school. I don’t know how I arrived to this place, but I am thankful. My heart is saturated with gratitude. I am humbled and honored to have had this experience. My patients have no idea the effect they have had on me- and they are my motivation to be the best darn NP I can be, to be the best person I can be. I realize now the most grueling of times are vehicles for the most tremendous growth. I have learned sometimes there is not a clear line between ugly darkness and beautiful light, but often they dance together contrasting one another in a profound way.  I understand that God will not give us more than we can bear, but he will often give us more than we think we can bear. He is faithful and will carry us through. And I realize now that some superheroes do not wear capes, but instead wear hospital gowns. Patients think we save them, but they often save us too.

Filling in the Gaps…

Hellllo and how the heck are ya?  I have a few fun little nuggets I really want to log from before and after the vacay. Let’s go way back.

When I say we’re going back, I mean.. we going wayyy-ay-ay-ay back.

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**Warning**- this post is pretty sappy & reflective. It’s more a journaling time for me, but you are more than welcome into my thoughts & stream of consciousness!

On March 16th, I received the most delish & yummy chocolate covered strawberries from my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew for graduation. I miss them all too stinking much. My sibs don’t always pop up in the blog as much as I wish simply because we are an entire coast apart… but I just want to mention how thankful I am for them. I especially hate being this far away from my niece and nephew. One of my main priorities this summer is making a trip to see them. <3

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On March 19th after working a few rough days, I was running outside and had a moment. One of those moments where you reminisce and are overcome with reflection. This flower below literally stopped me in my tracks.

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Why? Because the last time I saw this flower I was facing some seriously significant obstacles. I was in a tumultuous place emotionally, and I had nearly an entire year of challenges in my wake. I was defeated and nearly about to give up, although I was fighting tooth and nail to stay positive. I saw this flower, and with a rush of memories & emotions I was reminded of what exactly I had overcome. Seeing this flower felt more official than graduation in affirming that I made it through, but not on my own. It was God’s reminder and promise fulfilled that He would carry me through, that in His power we can do all things (Philippians 4:13). The same flower is blooming again. As cheesy as it is, this flower represents to me my personal growth & blooming in this beautiful, terrifying, wonderful career. As I stated in this post  where I saw this flower for the first time, “I need this stage to blossom”. God’s creation is a powerful thing <3

On March 21st, I presented our neurosurgical research for the last time. The research council seemed to love it. They even said maybe we could stay in touch moving forward!

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The rest of the week was work, work, work, work, work.

On March 24th, DJ and I saw DJ’s younger sister perform in the ultimate cheer competition! She is growing up far too fast for my liking, but it’s such a joy to watch her! She is incredibly talented, and I am amazed at her poise. (She is at the top of the group in the picture below). Ohhhh, and they won NATIONALS! YES, nationals! After this competition we had the most incredible dinner at LB Steakhouse with the fam after. <3 (Saturdays that we can get everyone together are rare, so this night will always be treasured!). (PS. Their bread popovers are what dreams are made of!).

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I know I’ve said it before, but one of the greatest blessings I have experienced in this life is DJ & DJ’s family. I think about often how I don’t know why God thought I was worthy enough to have not only the perfect husband for me, but also the greatest family. It made a bit more sense this year, because I think God knew I needed them. The encouragement from DJ & his parents and their unwavering faith in me is part of the reason I made it. I wouldn’t have even applied for this residency program in the first place if my Dad-in-law hadn’t suggested it. I didn’t think I stood a chance at getting in the program, but seeing his confidence in me, coming from one of the men I respect the most, gave me that motivation to even fill out an application. <3 I think all the time about how that one simple conversation with him changed the trajectory of my life and opened up doors that I didn’t even know existed.

Beginning March 25th kicked off my PTO streak for my full two week vacation! After Church we went to another couple’s house that lives nearby for salmon & to hangout. Mmmm mmm!

The rest of the week I basically spent getting ready for the cruise, running errands, cleaning, packing, and making sure Deej had food available. (I also ordered Freshly! I will do more of a thorough review in the future- but we LOVED it. We are still using up our promo codes, but the price for the ease of making such nutrilicious foods makes it worth it thus far!!!!).

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Is running errands anyone else’s happy place? I just relish in facing the day with a to-do list and knocking out everything with head to toe athleisure, headphones in, and podcast on.

Monday night of March 26th, I whipped up one of our favorite, easy, but tasty meals of scallops with cojita corn & brown rice.

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March 27th was a monumental day. Not only was it my beautiful Momma’s birthday, but I found out that I was accepted into Duke’s DNP program!!!! Previously, I knew I was accepted into the Masters program, but the DNP was a pipe dream in my mind. I cried when I saw the acceptance update on my profile and re-read it about ten times before finally calling DJ. Here’s to the next 3.5 years of studying & the academia grind. I start in August 🙂 I still can’t believe it, I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet!

During the day on March 28th, I had my hair brightened up a bit at Limon Salon! I just missed the bright blondeWhen I get my hair done, I like to get the Olaplex treatment. It has hands down made a mighty difference in keeping my hair healthy and my blonde bright. Hair treatments can be ridiculously damaging, but this mitigates the harm.

The night of March 28th, I was FINALLY able to see DJ play basketball! I usually have to work the next day or am working the nights he has games so I haven’t been able to make any. It was a blast seeing him do his thang (number 88)!

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These team names crack me up. Deej is with the Enginerds. Unfortunately, one of the players tore his achilles tendon during the game, so they continued to play 4 on 5. But they held their own!

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And- can you believe it- on March 29th, I actually got my nails done?! (Not just the Walgreens glue-on ones, haha). DJ said they were “aggressive”. LOL. I cannot remember the last time I had my nails done- I think maybe for Clair’s wedding, but even then it was a light polish because I had to go straight back to work. I think before that it had been a year, right before starting nursing!

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The evening of March 29th, DJ and I did an impromptu date night! We strolled through whole foods and grabbed some grub from their deli. Whole foods selections are ahhh-mazing. It’s the ultimate Sophie’s choice for the indecisive veg-heads.

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I also LOVE their olive bar. It’s the most massive olive bar I have ever seen. *Heart eyes on heart eyes*

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I made a massive salad which basically included every item from the cold bar (and some from the hot bar), and DJ tried dosa!

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Dosa is a southern Indian dish. Think a light fluffy crepe usually stuffed with potato and served with different chutneys. I joke that I knew DJ was the one when he was willing to partake in Indian cuisine with me 😉

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Then I jotted in the AM for the airport!!! That brings us to my last three travels posts from March 30th to April 5th! (Isn’t it crazy how much can happen in a few days?!)

Part One . Part TwoPart Three.

Annnd heading to the airport is where I left off in Part Three. We had a bit of a sad mishap with the airport. To get from the boat to the airport, Rach and I took a Lyft. We were taking two separate airlines out so we had to be dropped off at different spots. We agreed we would meet back inside after going through our siloed security stations. Once we both made it through we texted each other to figure out where the other was…. welll …. turns out we were in entirely different terminals and BUILDINGS. We were so sad we didn’t get to hangout those next few hours together and never actually said goodbye. 🙁 Good thing I’ll be seeing her in a couple months for a wedding, but it was too sad. We just kept texting each other and sending pictures (keep scrolling) of what we decided on for lunch since we weren’t actually together to have lunch. Wahhhhhhhhh.

I parked it at a PJ’s Coffee and read my book to pass some time. PJ’s was pretty delish, but still not my Peet’s <3

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For lunch I decided on one last hurrah for a NOLA meal at Ye Olde College Inn. I was craving some comfort food as our trip was at an end, and I was isolated from my best friend by a gosh darn wall.

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I pulled out my book, enjoyed the live jazz they had playing and ordered some gulf fish & smoked gouda grits (FANTASTIC!).

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I just read my book while savoring every bite.

The flight back was the scariest flight I have ever been on. There was an insane amount of turbulence, I really did think we were going down several times. I don’t think I’ve ever shed turbulence tears, but they were streaming this time. I love flying, but I can definitely get anxious when things aren’t smooth sailing, or smooth flying if you will. I couldn’t wait to get my feet back on the ground.

When I saw DJ pull up to the curb to pick me up from the airport I felt like I could finally take a sigh of relief. We headed to one of our favorites- Stein’s– for dinner. We had our two favorites, the quinoa butternut squash salad for me and the fried chicken sliders for Deej.

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We munched away while I told DJ every exhaustive detail of the trip and every. single. picture. He has the patience of a saint.

On April 6th & 7th I slept until the cows came home and then did laundry from the trip. I had a hankerin’ for Thai Food on Saturday evening. We ordered from Amarin Thai in San Jose. I actually had to reorder from Olarn (my go-to Thai place about a minute away), because my curry tasted thairrible. I’m refraining from going on a thairaid about it… I’m not picky, but I truly couldn’t eat it. I will say their Roti was the best roti I’ve ever had though, I’ll give them that.

DJ said their Pad Thai was fine (at least it was edible). I ended up getting the Red Curry from Olarn, a thaid and true <3 <3 <3.

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Stop with the thai puns you say?! I’ll thai.

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On April 8th, we attended a lovely Sunday Service then I ran errands in the afternoon to get ready for the work week. I have a funny story for y’all. So when my mom visited for graduation she ordered a sampler platter and brought back the leftovers to help me out with some food prep for the week! When I tried “Oren’s Eggplant” I had a moment of, “this is maybe one of the tastiest things I have ever had in my life”. I texted my mom, “Are you sure this is vegetarian? It is so savory!”. She was pretty sure the menu didn’t mention meat. I was curious what made it so good so I looked it up online and it listed, a puree of fried eggplant, spices, caramelized onion, and hard boiled egg. Well naturally, anything fried, with egg, and caramelized onion is going to be phenomenal. So this Sunday when I returned home, I decided to grab hummus, baba-ganoush, Oren’s eggplant, and pita for the week!

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After eating it for about a week, I looked at the list of ingredients on the label for the first time, noting their was more there than the menu had. What else was in it? Chicken fat. LOL. I had accidentally been eating meat for a week. I’m really holding down this pescatarian life well.

April 9th it was time to go back to work. I was terrified to go back. I usually get anxious after three days being away, so after having two weeks off my heart was racing out of my chest. It all went just fine and I did not forget how to be a nurse in just two weeks. Haha.

April 10th, I took a nice long run outside and soaked up alllll the beautiful blooms!

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Thursday April 12th, I went to Opening Night for the SJ Giants! DJ has been working  hard in the off season, and I was excited to be there for the big opening day!

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I just love these games. I couldn’t find anyone to go with, but I definitely don’t mind going on my own. The environment is jovial as can me, nothing beats stadium food, and it was exciting to see all of Deej’s diligent work come to fruition!

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When waiting in line at Turkey Mike’s for a veggie burger, two gentlemen in front of me asked me if I liked pickles. I was a bit taken aback, and a bit unsure of how to respond to this random inquiry. They explained that they are one of the sponsors and they were selling their pickles at the cash register. Bahaha. When cashing out they bought me one. So, if y’all go to a SJ Giants game, keep an eye out for the Buck’s Vineyard pickles. (maybe the weirdest paragraph ever written on my blog?!).

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This is where my loyalty lies: GORDON BIERSCH GARLIC FRIES.

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I may have gone a bit overboard on the food, but I ran eleven miles earlier and was ravenous! (The pickle was okay– I’m a salt fanatic and it wasn’t salty enough for me. I’ll stick to my Vlasic. Sorry, Buck’s!).

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I plopped down with my food, bundled up in a winter jacket (It was FREEEZING that evening), and contentedly sat back to watch the game. Literally, no one was sitting by me. I was laughing at how hilarious this whole situation much have looked. Just a girl alone, eating her garlic fries, cheering her favorite team on. (The guy speaking in the background of the video reflects my sentiment). “Here we are! We made it!”

I didn’t last the whole game because my Raynaud’s started acting up, and I couldn’t feel my toes. I and my numb feet ran over to give DJ a hug goodbye and then warmed up back home.

We both worked all through the weekend. Now that the season has started DJ and I are a bit of ships passing in the night again. I don’t think I’ve seen him for about three days now. But we soak up the little time we do have together! Our date nights are sporadic and often last minute, but we grab them when we can.

Last Monday the night of April 16th, I made us pizzas, and Amy’s Margherita Pizza (One of DJ’s favorites) and I tried the Cauliflower pizza, which I loved and included in a Friday Faves!

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On April 17th, Deej and I had an impromptu date night! WOOT WOOT!

We hit up Historic Murphy Avenue in Sunnyvale for some good Mexican Grub. We just adore this strip, but haven’t made it over much lately. The last time we were here was March 2017 for St. Patrick’s Day!

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We hit Roberto’s Cantina for the best veggie fajitas and beef tacos!

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On April 18th, I hit up Trader Joe’s to meal prep and stock up on some fun new eats for the week!

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I sauteed veggies & Tofu to make stuffed purple sweet potatoes with hummus for lunches.

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And here’s what the lunches and snacks for the next couple days looked like.

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I worked on the 19th and 20th with a couple emotionally strenuous shifts.. But now I am sitting here being a lazy bum, thoroughly enjoying finishing up this blog post sipping my cups of coffee. I go back tomorrow, and only have today off. DJ is doing a seven day home stand, hence we haven’t seen each other since our date night and probably won’t see one another again until next week. Tis’ the baseball season. I’m beyond proud of him though. His creativity in his role amazes me & he is one of the hardest working individuals I know. Well, this post was obnoxiously long, but at least my OCD side feels like I am now caught up. Have a fabulous week everyone!

xo <3

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Facebook HQ Tour & Clearing Things Up!

Hello Everyone! I have been holding off doing an update post because I’ve been hoping to have a definite answer by now from the last school… but STILL nothing. They said late February/Early March, so I’m going NUTS. Sounds like everyone else is going crazy too based on the AllNurses.com thread I am following like a stalkery psychopath. I have been refreshing my portal every five seconds (where the decision will be posted). I’m loooosing it! This is torturous!

Also, I get that my whole job/school situation is SUPER confusing… so I want to try to clear things up for y’all who are not quite sure what the heck is happening, I can barely keep it straight myself: (or just skip this because, honestly, who cares haha).

  • In 2016 I graduated from a four year nursing school in Indiana with my Bachelors of Science in Nursing.
  • When DJ and I moved to California, it took me nearly eight months for the state of California to give me the OK to take my boards (If you followed me from the beginning you know the insanity that was!)
  • I started my one year Registered Nurse Residency program Spring 2017 on a neurosurgical unit. This means I am an employed nurse, but the residency is different as you have a more intensive preceptorship, are part of a cohort that you meet with about once a month, have a research project, and classes to enhance your clinical skills and learning. Nurse residency programs are a newer concept so this is where it is often confusing- it is not school, it is employment, just more supportive, learning focused, and integrative than traditional new nurse positions. Highly recommend.
  • I am coming to my one year with this program and graduate March 13th. (I’m also speaking at it, so prayers that that goes well would be MUCH appreciated). I present my research March 21st. After that I will continue to work on my unit for now, I just won’t have the extra class work or research project.
  • I am currently applying for graduate school to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. I have always wanted to be a general FNP, and am now considering more than ever possibly becoming specialized in neuroscience so maybe I can work at an outpatient neuroscience clinic eventually.
  • I am awaiting one last school’s decision before making my final decision. This decision is a big one because it determines where we are going to be living this fall.

Does that clear it up a bit?!

*refreshes portal*-  yup, still nothing.

Now we go wayyyy back! February 16th was my Dad’s birthday. My Dad passed away in 2009, and for some reason his birthdays always seem the hardest day for me. More than the actual day of passing, more than the holiday season (those are still difficult though)…. I think it’s because it’s the one day that was all about him. With holidays, we have new traditions/memories to buffer the pain. With his day of passing there aren’t great memories to miss or create a sobering wistful nostalgia contrasted with the grief and loss. But with his birthday, there isn’t much in between now and then… It is a purely bittersweet day. There exists what was and now a forever gaping “since then”. My family has had a hard time getting all together in the middle of February with our schedules, so the day immediately brings back the fond memories of going to Outback Steakhouse (his favorite) and having the whole family in one place. It is those memories that leave me missing him horribly and missing my family too. This year was a bit different though. Being in California, it doesn’t “feel” like his birthday without the blistering snow, Ohio quietness and gray skies. I sometimes am afraid I’m not honoring or remembering him properly- I wanted to go to Outback for lunch, but it didn’t work out with DJ’s schedule, and I had a string of work days coming up, so I hardly had any time in between. I talked to my siblings, that always helps-  but I just wish we could have all been together. I decided to take the day to remember and reflect- his kind heart, his unmatchable sense of humor, his sheer intelligence, his goofiness, and selflessness. I listened to those couple of voicemails I have saved from him that I know will both crush my heart and cause me to laugh through the tears. I wish that he could be in these blog updates and posts, and I wish he was going to see me graduate from this program next week. However, I like to think he knows, and is celebrating, just from afar. <3

I started the morning going to Target Express near us to fill in groceries that we were missing. On my way back to the apartment, I spotted that Main Street Cupertino had red lanterns held everywhere- I remembered it was Chinese New Year!

They had fun tents set up for the local businesses and people were bustling trying to snag some free SWAG.

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There were fun little dog structures made of grass and succulents. I was so impressed! How are people so creative?!

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I meal prepped for the day and prepped for work. When the evening rolled around, we had the awesome opportunity for a tour of Facebook HQ with our friend Tammy who works there.

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We walked into a pristinely clean lobby with a nook with an almost misplaced homeliness with a mini oculus set up.

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The woman at the front desk greeted us and had us give her our IDs. I had my ID out and ready in the car, and before getting out of the car I accidentally left it on the seat. When I realized this she went, “Oh no problem! Do you have Facebook? Just give me your name and I can verify with your picture!”. Too funny.

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She then told us to help ourselves the the drinks in the fridge and showed us where the bathroom was. I walked over to survey the free hydration station and saw only two things in the fridge- Diet Coke and Water. I laughed- Diet Coke was my Dad’s favorite bev. I told my sister earlier that day I wasn’t going to have time to go to Outback or do anything big to celebrate him, and she said, “Just drink a stinkin’ Diet Coke!”. I took a picture of this serendipitous moment to send her.

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Typically I wouldn’t take note of a bathroom, but this was the most stocked up public bathroom I have ever seen. It had EVERYTHING you could need, including hairspray. For some reason the hairspray made me chuckle.

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Tammy and Ben (Ben is Tammy’s husband) (also you may remember I met with them a couple weeks ago for lunch), met us in the Lobby and we immediately headed to the dining room for some dinner. Emojis greeted us, dancing along the walls. I was already mesmerized by the amount of meticulous detail pointing back to the Facebook Empire.

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They had multitudinous options for dinner, buffet style. Everything has a label and names each ingredient. They had plenty of delicious vegan (and non-vegan) options. When you are a Fbook employee, ALL the food is free (with the exception of a couple super specialty places). They say the first year you work there you gain the “Facebook Fifteen”. Most have verified this rumor has quite a bit of validity. I can see why!

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Oh, and let’s not forget, they also have beer and wine available for their employees. Drinking on the job is not exactly discouraged around the Fbook HQ. People had drinks sitting at their work stations and we were told during meetings it’s not unusual for people to bring in a glass of wine.

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Naturally, they have endless supplies of non- alcoholic bevvys including La Croix galore, Vitamin Water Zero (I love the lemonade one), and teas on teas on teas. Disneyland. Just Disneyland.

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The food was TREMENDOUS. Mmmmm mmm. I had a sampling of everything and was not disappointed one little bit.

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We then got a night tour of the property. Tammy said I’d have to come back in the daytime. Stay tuned for a part 2 sometime!

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The main drag is literally a town. There are plenty of diverse restaurants for any palate, a barber shop, ice cream shop, a Hub shop (to get your bike fixed), and an arcade! If you need to de-stress, no problem- just go play some video games on your lunch break. LOL.

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They have a little bridge connecting two buildings that they modeled off the Golden Gate, too cute!

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Then… for the most epic part…. getting to try Virtual Reality for the first time.

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It’s against Fbook rules to take pictures of the TV screen, but there was a screen right in front of where I’m standing. The TV shows everyone else in the room what I am seeing. With the headset on, I can see 360. It TRULY feels like you are standing somewhere else. It’s trippy. Tammy asked me if I was afraid of heights. I pridefully said, “Heck no, bring it on”. As soon as the screen transitioned I found myself on top of a building overlooking a good 1200 feet drop. My mind was tricked, and my heart started racing, my palms began to sweat and I began to panic. I had to actually take a moment, breathe and remind myself that I was not in fact overlooking a plunge to my death, but I was standing in a room with a very flat floor.

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Tammy encouraged me to explore my surroundings. I got down and looked over the edge, not daring to get that close while standing. I then navigated the rafters, the steel planks, and the surrounding buildings. I did all this within a small three foot space.

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We then did one where a dinosaur chases you. I had everything in me that wanted to turn and run, but I kept reminding myself, “this is not real!”.

The last one I did was a game where you chop up a bunch of fruit with a sword. I get super competitive in these things, okay?!? I know I look ridiculous, but come on’… serious about my fruit.

 

DJ’s turn!

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I then worked through the weekend, caught up on sleep, errands, and misc. to-do things on February 19th and 20th. On the 21st, I headed to my annual Dental checkup. I actually look forward to going to the dentist, not because of the actual dental part, but because of the people. I wouldn’t usually include something this silly in an update post, but it is a BIG deal that I have only needed one dental appointment this year. When we first moved here, I felt like I lived at the dentist office. (Hence how I know the staff so well). I had a root canal within a couple weeks of unlocking our door for the first time and had several follow up appointments to finish the repair and place the final cap. I was given a clean bill of health this time around, and no dental procedures are in my near future!

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I had about a million things on my to-do list for the day, but it was so beautiful out and all I wanted to do was blast my music and walk down the quaint street of downtown Los Altos. So I did. I was surprised at my ability to “waste” time and not feel too anxious about it, but I also think I needed this. I knew March was bringing with it a new level of stress and busyness that I was going to be wishing I had taken a couple seconds to chill, breathe some fresh air, and just relax.

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And for the love of God, you guys, please do not hurt their plants! lol.

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I decided with a clean bill of dental health and swag in my music fueled steps to treat myself to some solid mediterranean cuisine.

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Occasionally I like eating by myself. I don’t do it often, but I find it so relaxing. Usually I’ll bring my laptop to blog or a book to read. I sat inside Cafe Nur, my to-do list tucked away in my purse and deeper tucked in the back of my mind. I savored my vegetarian sampler, sipped my Pellegrino and blasted my favorite Spotify playlist. I reflected upon what a nutty year this has been, and I was only one month from overcoming the most difficult obstacle I have ever faced: Nursing. I began to get emotional—overwhelmed with relief, gratitude, and yet excitement of what is to come. This calls for extra pita.

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To prolong the procrastinative (not a word, but it should be) state, I decided to go for a long run out in the glorious sun. Mid-run I received an email from my Residency Program Coordinator saying she was still looking for a class rep to speak at our graduation. I don’t know if I had soaked up too much sun or was on a high on baba ganoush and running adrenaline but I volunteered. As I sent the message I both regretted it and applauded the strangely uncharacteristic act. I think deep down I felt that I wanted to express gratitude to all who have helped me and my cohort classmates survive this year. I also want to let my cohort know what bomb nurses they are and how thankful I am to have done this year with them. This year has been the craziest, most challenging, worst and yet most rewarding year of my existence. What is one more challenge?

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I spent the rest of the day in go-mode. Laundry, food prep for the next couple days of work and for DJ, clean, answer e-mails, and start a draft for a speech that I hope I make it through without vomiting on stage. We had our FINAL class March 22nd. We decided to do a massive potluck to go out with a bang. I made an array of veggies accompanied by pita chips and popcorn (since my coworkers find my obsession with popcorn quite hilarious).. I had to stay true to character.

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Proud of my hard work (aka not cutting my finger while chopping up veggies), I shot a text to my mom….

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Hey now, I didn’t adopt the California lifestyle, the Cali life adopted me!

Let’s just say, us nurses know how to whip up a pot-luck.

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And what’s a celebration without cake?!

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I and DJ worked the next few days. I then had the weekend off! Sunday night, DJ was hankering some In n’ Out. When you have an In n’ Out craving there is only one thing that will satisfy: In n’ Out. I had already meal prepped and was craving my massive salad awaiting me at home, but I tagged along so we could have some extra time together.

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Monday night= BEST night of the week. Bach time!!!! Y’all this season though. Too many thoughts… I won’t even get started. But jeeez la freaking louise. It is something! Per usual, we make our giant mega cookie out of pillsbury cookie dough. It’s tradition. It does not feel right to have bach without it. We literally refer to it as “Mega” like another family member. “Hey Deej, can you bring me mega?”. This night I had to go to bed immediately after Bach since I worked three in a row (including that Monday), but I relished the couple moments I had in between sleeps.

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After working overtime and tryna’ just keep my eyelids open, I decided to do my old tradition of getting a solid workout in after breakfast and then heading to Peet’s. My heart fluttered as I had set aside this day to finish up my speech. It didn’t take as long to write as I had anticipated. Once it was finished up and I saw my good ole’ friends at Peet’s from back in the NCLEX studying days, I hit up the local TJ’s to see what was cooking. I went in without a grocery list. You see, you don’t go to TJ’s with a list, you let TJ’s tell you what you need.

*Refreshes portal*- ugh, still nothing.

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I also went to Sprout’s to stock up on some carbonated beverages.. I go through stages where I CRAVE soda. I try to stay away from anything with aspartame (minus the diet coke from a couple weeks prior 😉 ). Some of my faves include Hansen’s and Zevia. Many don’t like Zevia because of it’s aftertaste (totally get it), but I’ve been hooked on it for years.

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*Refreshes portal*- nope.

I meal prepped for the rest of the week and work days. Salad includes tons of veggies/tofu/hummus/ and balsamic glaze.

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Friday, the evening of the 2nd, we stopped by DJ’s Dad’s house to visit with his family. I have missed them horribly! A healthy dose of family time was just what I needed to survive a pretty heavy weekend in the hospital.

This past Sunday the 4th, DJ had to get up with me under the full blown moon (4:30 am). I was so excited about this that I had to snap a shot of us taking the elevator down to our cars simultaneously and had someone to eat breakfast with!

 

After a super tiring work weekend (still recovering), we had Indian last night that I picked up from TJ’s with naan and white wine. Such a great combo. We lazily glued ourselves to the couch and the television as we watched Arie the Asinine make an absolute fool of himself. Y’all I hate to talk bad about ANYONE, I give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and actually thrive off “difficult personality” patients, but Arie.. I can’t deal with him. And I’m pretty sure he is a sociopath. He exhibited ZERO empathy during that break up. Ugh, my heart broke for both girls. Ok I need to stop before I get myself in trouble. *Deep breaths, deep breaths*.

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If you hung in with me through this full post, you deserve an award.

*Refreshes portal one last time* *buffering* – humbug. Still notta goose egg zero zilch. 

On a totally unrelated note, my favorite (and only) pair of yoga pants that I’ve had since Freshman year of college got a hole in them this week. An unsalvageable hole. Needless to say, I am in need of a shopping spree, much to hubby’s dismay. It’s gonna be hard to find replacements for those beloved pants, but alas, it is time to invest in some new basic girl attire.

xo <3

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Valentine’s Day on Top of a Mountain

Hello, hello! Happy Thursday (maybe Friday) to you all! I am sitting here all cuddled up in my the coziest of all blankets and do not intend to get off the couch all day. I always say that, but I go stir crazy after a couple hours. (edited in note: I put in a good three couch potato hours…better than normal!).

Anyways, I have some updates, that you probably saw a sneak peak of if you follow me on Instagram!

This past week has been crazy busy & stressful- but oh so GOOOD! February 7th I started my day with some delicious yogurt toast and a protein bar (no cow).

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I’m pretty peeved because No Cow just changed their formula, and I do. not. like. it *toddler stomping feet*. I am clinging to the last few of the old ones I have, but they are quite evasive now. Has anyone tried the new formula? What are your thoughts?

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I LOVE THE GRIT! It’s what made it perfect with a cup of joe. Ah, No Cow, breaking my heart.

At about 10 am, I met my sweet, fellow nurse, friend from Church, Kim for some coffee in Campbell. Barefoot Coffee is some of my favorite around.

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She’s too stinking cute!

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We had such wonderful & much needed conversation (& venting). It’s so nice to talk to someone who just “gets it”. I am very thankful for her <3

The rest of the night I spent prepping for my interview. Unfortunately, that night my laptop stopped working. Good timing for an upcoming online interview, huh?

That meant February 8th I went straight to the Genius Bar, praying to God that this was a salvageable issue.

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While my computer was being worked on, I trotted down Santana Row to try to get some fresh air to calm my nerves.

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Thankfully, it was an easy fix! We are back in business, baby!

I scrounged up what little was left of the day to meal prep for the weekend, prepped for the interview, and focus on staying calm stocked up on more brown paper bags.

I had a hard time focusing with three days of work staring me in the face. Lemme just say, in nurse world 2 days vs. 3 days is a tremendous difference. Friday, the 9th– Sunday the 11th were some of the most challenging shifts I’ve had, acuity wise and emotionally.

Every morning feeeelz….

…. Hopefully we can get both eyes open by the time we pull into the hospital.

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I kept it together for the most part and can see how much I have grown in one year. I would have fallen apart at the seams last year with this assignment. Still, when Monday rolled around, it all hit me. By it all, I mean the emotional toll of everything….. My patient’s stories, their cases, their families…. it all fell on me in what felt like a single moment. I was on a run and just started sobbing. I let myself feel for the first time since starting that stretch of days. I was honored that God entrusted me with each of them for the weekend, but needless to say, I was exhausted and depleted in every way.

Monday, the 12th, was not a lick productive.

I did get a quick trot in though.

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I spent the evening reading with our TV fireplace flickering, and Halo Top in hand trying to distract myself from my nerves.

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February 14th. I woke up early to get ready for my 9:45 am interview via Zoom. It went well, I think! This is a distance based program and our number one choice (probably)… but the chances of getting in are slim. I don’t quite have the experience that others applying for the program have (It’s a doctorate program). I do have a chance of their MSN program hopefully. A few hours later I found out from Vanderbilt that I was accepted into their MSN program! WOOHOO! I was accepted into two/three of the programs, now I’m just waiting for this one last decision… the suspense is real! I should know by end of February/early March.

After the interview, I ran for a while, then jotted to the mall to find something to wear as I realized I had nothing for Valentine’s Day! I found this on sale. Wooohoo!

Deej gave me this sweet rose <3

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Nooow time for our Valentine’s Extravaganza!!! DJ and I haven’t had a date or much time together since San Diego. We decided to splurge a little to celebrate Vday, the interview being over, and now getting into one of the big schools I was pulling for. We decided not get on another gifts or anything and just have a stellar dinner.

Someone at DJ’s work suggested the Mountain Winery Valentine’s Day dinner. We don’t usually do much on Valentine’s Day, maybe make some make your own pizzas, last year I did a race in Sausalito… I don’t really get the point of Valentine’s day… because isn’t the day to celebrate love your anniversary? It’s kind of a double anniversary? But I’m still for any excuse for chocolate, dinner out, and a chance to brag on my amazing man!

I went to Mountain Winery once with Rachel over a year ago. It’s absolutely gorgeous. The views are breathtaking.

They host concerts in the summers in their stunning outdoor pavilion.

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We were greeted in an indoor heated tent with a rose with our table number and a glass of Rose.

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The best part? The cheeeese!!!!

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It was a fantastic cheese bar- with crackers, figs, nuts, fruit, and every type of cheese imaginable.

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Round One..

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After about a half an hour of mingling, we were taken on a tour of the estate. It was fascinating, but freezing! I kept thinking to myself, “Roses are red, my lips are blue, if we don’t go inside soon I’m going to LOSE IT”. Ok, I am a bit dramatic when I’m cold, but I was shivering something fierce!

It was totally worth it, especially for the views!

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We then snaked to our florally decorated table. Somehow we ended up with Table 1 and were in a nice exclusive corner table.

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We started with some clementine and pesto (or something like that) for a palate cleanser. The seemingly incompatible flavors actually worked very well.

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To start, we had scallop three ways. These included citrus scallop ceviche with avocado, seared french scallop tartar with crispy kale, and grilled scallop over mango puree with mizuna salad. Our favorite was the mango purreed…. mmm mm!

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We then had for the second course butter wedge lettuce with medley carots, roasted beets, whipped goat cheese, with blood orange and herb vinaigrette. It was accompanied by Sauvignon blanc- our favorite of the wine tastings.

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The third course presented with sea bass with basted shrimp, lentils, braised leeks, and rainbow chard with a lemon beurre blanc reduction. I want to cry because I want this again right now. It was too good.

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The fourth course consisted of steak duzelles on a bed of smashed fingerling golds with creamy blue cheese, charred veggies, and chanterelle wine reduction. I gave deej my steak, but the rest of the dish was fabulous.

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And to top it off, we were given an intermezzo of limoncello with ginger cream and deconstructed strawberry shortcake with red velvet sponge, champagne lime sorbet, and strawberry reduction. It was all tremendous.

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It may be my favorite Valentine’s Day we have ever had together. I’m so thankful for my valentine. <3

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Each couple was gifted a bottle each to take home too.

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I woke up early this morning, the 15th, to go to work to get my annual TB test blood work done. I’m actually a smidgeon nervous for the results because I have cared for TB patients quite a bit this year (of course proper isolation in place), but I can’t help feel a tiny bit on edge. Especially with how stinking sick I’ve been this year. I’m sure it’s fine. It’s fine, right? Cool it, Mack, your hypochondriac is showing. I’ll know for sure in about three days to settle my little paranoid mind.

I spent the day cleaning, answering e-mails, texts (gosh, I’ve been bad bad bad with the texting lately), and other misc. items on the to-do list. I had a great big salad with a bean burger & some green alkaline juice for lunch while watching Winter Games. It hit the spot.

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Right now I’m eating sushi and going to tie up loose ends for my project. We have our last class next week! Almost. there. One more month until graduation!

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Have a beautiful weekend, everyone!

xo <3

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A Quite Ambiguous Life Update!

Hey y’all!! I haven’t done a hum-drum recap post since last year?! I’ve done our trip recaps, Friday Faves, and EVEN a recipe…. but not a recap. What. is . happening?!

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Yes, This is Us unleashed one of the most dramatic, tear-jerking episodes in probably history of television on Sunday. I think I need to see a therapist after that episode. But we won’t get into it. It’s so good, so heart-wrenching, so real…. it hits on a very visceral level for me.

Anywho, I want to document just some real quick recent happenings and answer everyone’s questions about, “What’s going on, what’s the school situation, what the lowwww down?”.

Once we came back from Texas (yes, I am going THAT far back), I worked January 2nd and had to take my first ever sick day the 3rd. Darn, I almost made it a full year without taking a sick day! The 4th and 5th I spent resting and worked through that next weekend. On that weekend, my sweet coworkers threw the sweetest surprise “potlock” for my birthday. It touched me to literal tears. They brought in all kinds of goodies & cupcakes. I’m so thankful for them.

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On the 11th, we had our preliminary presentation and the research scientists seemed to love it! They gave us tremendous feedback, so now we just have to make a few adjustments and we’ll be all set. Our official presentation is March 21st. I will be prepping hard for it before then! PS. I love our cohort education days because we always get a flamin’ breakfast of croissants & coffee! One time we had smoked salmon with capers (my weakness)!

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March 7-12th we worked hard so we could enjoy our vacation to San Diego January 13th-17th. Here are Part One, Part Two, and Part Three if ya missed um 😉

We’ve been craving comfort food lately as “winter” comes to an end (I feel embarrassed and rude saying that to my kindred midwesterners)….stay warm, friends. I empathize, I really do!

I have loved continuing to make cod. One of DJ’s favorite’s was a meal with cod, corn grits, asparagus, okra, and zucchini with marina/parm cheese. Now, it does not get more midwest than this folks (unless a casserole was involved 😉 ).

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One of my current projects is reading through “must read” books list. So far I have read The Giver, The Lovely Bones, and Fahrenheit 451. Would love your suggestions too! I think next I’m going to read Wuthering Heights and The Book Thief. Lemme say though.. all those gosh darn stupid reality shows are vying for my serious attention on Monday nights, so tryna’ find that balance 😉

(I’m still making my way through the Harry Potter series, but have been falling asleep the second I hit the sheets lately!).

On the 27th, DJ’s twin sister (WHO JUST MOVED HERE!!!!!!), drove up to SJ to have some breakfast with us. I can’t explain how excited I am that she’s here. You might remember her from when she visited us here. (Scroll to end of the linked post).

Anywho, we had to take her to the infamous Bill’s. We just had one open within a mile of our apartment (EEEEKKKK!!!!!) I am freaking out.

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What’s brunch without Bill’s Famous Mimosas?

DJ tried their country fried steak with biscuits and gravy.

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I had my tried and true, go to athena greek omelette. Goat cheese on an omelette is GOLD.

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Amy opted for probably one of my favorites on their menu- the Cinnamon Roll French Toast. Phenomenal.

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Amy headed back to the city in the afternoon after hanging out at our apartment for a little bit. This was one of the first Saturdays in months, probably all year, that DJ and I were both 100% free. We spent the day lounging, napping, took a walk, and relaxed. It was absolute perfection. We kept saying how refreshing it was to have a full day like that. It doesn’t happen often- I actually can’t even remember our last day like that.

On Sunday the 28th, I finalllly had a Sunday off of work to go to Church (EVERYONE CHEERS!). Lemme say, it was SO nice being able to worship with my community in person and not be listening to a podcast sermon on Sunday.

After Church, I went to lunch with my girlfriend Tammy that you all know probably well my now, and her husband, Ben. (DJ couldn’t tag along, but I brought him home some grub!).

We went to Mendocino Farms in Campbell. This may be our new local joint. I am obsessed!!! There are so many phenomenal pesce/vegan options!!!

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You order Panera style, and they give you a buzzer when food is ready.

I loved their farmhouse theme.

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I was craving a great salad. I had their avocado & superfood ensalad with butter lettuce & romaine, curly kale, quinoa & millet, housemade superfood krunchies, black bean, roasted corn & jicama succotash, red onions, cilantro, Cotija cheese, grape tomatoes, avocado with chipotle vinaigrette. There are no words to describe how yum this was!

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Even better yet… their sides.. the curried cous-cous and marinated beets were so savory. I am craving them again. I might just have to go in tomorrow to get more.

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Tam had the Mary’s Chicken Salad with shaved, roasted Mary’s free range chicken breast with balsamic glaze drizzle, butter lettuce & romaine, nitrate-free applewood smoked bacon, crumbled blue cheese, avocado, grape tomatoes, red onions, hard boiled egg with mustard vinaigrette. Good mendocino heavens.

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There was a Trader Joe’s plopped right next door, and this is where I had my epiphany that Trader Joe’s may be the greatest place on earth.THEY EVEN HAVE SUSHI!

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I went for an amazing run after, and saw this cute little lemon tree.

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For one of my birthday gifts, I received my first ever Fab Fit Fun box. This is allll over the place social media wise, but I’ve never pulled the trigger. I was thoroughly impressed with the box, and can’t wait to use the products. I’ll let you all know how they all work out.

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I can tell you this add on fuzzy blanket is amazing. (Duh, what girl doesn’t like a comfy blanket?)

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How stinking cute!

DJ is playing in a basketball league called the “Enginerds”. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this on the blog before, but DJ was (is) a tremendous basketball player. He isn’t hanging up the shoes quite yet as he is playing in a local league every other Wednesday. I’m obsessed with the name of their team (so Bay area)- The Enginerds! Lol.

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I have been thinking lately about doing a meal prep post about how I have been meal prepping for my twelve hour shifts! I never have really shared my prep days for work, but why not?! It took a while to get my routine down, but I think I finally have it figured out to stay full and stay nourished!

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On January 30th, I had the unexpected couple of hours off as our unit was over-staffed. I instead was able to go to work at 11:30 am. I walked into the shining sun and gorgeous fountain. That never happens. What a glorious day that was!

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Shall we chat Super Bowl on the the 4th?! Our unit was not about to neglect the celebrations. We had donuts, chips, and pizza galore. I worked extra extra extra hard to get my work done so I could catch a couple glimpses of the game. They were small glimpses, but I did get to watch JT do his THANG!

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That extra extra extra hard (aka every single shift, lol) translated into this…

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I’m glad Deej got to watch the game with his family though!

Yesterday, the 5th, I was able to squeeze in a gorgeous 10-miler. To be honest with y’all … doc says I need to chillll on the mileage. I’m trying, but struggling cause it’s the way I cope with my stress. My body isn’t handling it. I am going to try to incorporate more strength training & cross training > cardio.

Anywho.. these February blooms along my runs have been gorgeous. It is finally starting to warm up a bit again!

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Post workout nibbles/appetizer before dinner of veggies straws, dried okra, mushrooms, hummus, and smoked salmon jerky.

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Lately for dinners all I have wanted is warm comfort food due to the weather and perpetual ill feeling. Today after a great Insanity workout I was craving my giant refreshing salad with it being 72 degrees outside. I always love putting a veggie burger in my salad with hummus & some balsamic vinegar. MMmm mm!

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Let’s talk future now. I have an interview February 14th for a doctorate program. Gosh, I want this so badly. I was accepted into a local program here, so that’s a possibility too (it’s a master’s program). I am waiting to hear back from one last school in Nashville. I’m not sure what this year holds for us.. it’s all a big ole’ question mark… we are just trusting God with it all. He has proved faithful time and time again. DJ is still loving his job in marketing for the SJ Giants, and will probably look into getting his masters next year. I am excited and hopeful to see how this year unravels! Lots of questions will be answered in this next two months, and I am hoping to share some fun (and definite) updates with you all.

xo <3

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Friday Favorites #9!

Happy Friday, everyone! I know, it’s hard to believe… but I will have officially published three posts in one week- I turned my project in and now have a couple days before I have to start getting serious about prepping for the BIG presentation. To top off the streak here I am doing a Friday Faveeessss! I love them and I love reading yours. If you have one this week please leave it in the comments.

  1. This spoon from one of my best friends from college. It is perfection! I found a perfect match on Amazon. Jump on it if you know any nurses who love to cook!

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2. COD. For some reason, hubby and I have been LOVING seasoned cod lately for dinner with okra and brown rice. I usually grab salmon or tilapia, but hot dang this cod is terrific. Who knew! Also, one of my patients owns a bakery and gave us this amazing cheesy pesto bread (and a TON of other bread too) to go along with it!

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3. My guitar <3 I finalllllyyyyy had my guitar repaired. It’s been about three years since I’ve really played. I used to play in high school a ton, and I have about eight original songs (I didn’t say they were quality original songs- but they are original, lol!). I started missing it terribly when nursing school was over and FINALLY had it fixed up/repaired by the nearby Starving Musician. Stay tuned.. (literally).. maybe one day I’ll share a song if I gather up the courage. Buuuuut probably not. haha

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4. This travel map!!! It’s no secret we LOVE traveling. For Christmas, DJ found this map for us. If you look closely, there are little blue pins that we place on every city we have visited together. It is very clear that we are from the midwest and now live in California, haha. I want to book a trip every time I pass it in our hallway!

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5. TRADER JOE’S!!!! Ok. It’s alsooo no secret that Trader Joe’s is amazing. But I’ve only been a couple times in my life, and never since we’ve lived here. WHY NOT!?!?? I KNOW, I ask myself that everyday now. Why have I not been?! It’s like adult Disneyland. It is the freaking greatest place on Earth. I’m obsessed. I could EASILY name 10 items to make Friday Favorites from Trader Joe’s alone. I’m sure it will be a frequent visitor on this segment, so watch for new fun products!

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For instance, this King Salmon Jerky… a bit salty (but that never deters me), and so stinking good. It’s a pescetarian dream. Especially because in my past meat-eating life I loooooved me some beef jerky.

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& This Arugula Pizza was too delish. My willpower was at a big fat zero with this in front of my face. Let’s just say, this did not last long at ALL between the two of us!

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6. Avocado Toast Tank from Deej for my bday. Anything more perfect for a Cali girl?

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7. Shakeology oats. I am embarrassed to mention Shakeology honestly–… I’m always a bit of a skeptic of health formulary protein stuff (except my No Cow/Quest bars)…. I’d just rather eat my protein than drink it I guess. Anywho, lately I have LOVED making a big ole bowl of oats for breakfast with vegan Shakeology powder on top and stevia (maybe even a little whip cream). It’s like dessert!

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8. Impress Nails by Kiss!!! I adore these stick/glue on nails. As a nurse, I can’t really wear nail polish (it comes right off and chips with the hand sanitizer). This is such a great alternative and quicker than painting and waiting for my nails to dry. If I only have a day or two where I need nice nails, I loveeeee these!

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I wore some purple ones in San Diego.

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9. Lulus!!! Lulus is a new online shop I am OBSESSED with!!! Their style is totally my cup of tea. They have free shipping over $50 and free return shipping within 30 days. Their customer service is amazing, and selection is tremendous. Some of you asked where the dress was from in my first San Diego post, here is the link!

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10. SUPER BOWL time! I will be working during the Super Bowl, probably my favorite sporting event of the year (except when Cavs are in the finals)…..BUT we love these recipes below if you need some healthy ideas for your party…..and I’ll be making them regardless if I have to celebrate a day late 😉 !!

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

Vegan Tacos

Loaded Vegan Nachos

xo <3

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San Diego: Part 3- An Italian Oasis, Museums, & Shout House!

HAPPY TUEEESDAY! It’s actually my Monday.. cause ya know, nurse life. But guess what? I get the first four hours off unexpectedly due to unit staffing! I’m thinking this is for the best considering I’ve already spilled oatmeal on myself after overflowing it in the microwave and burning my tongue on my coffee. It’s gonna be “that” kind of day so maybe it’s a good idea that we don’t place human lives in my hands until I wake up a bit ;).

Alas, we come to our last post from San Diego, but I think it may just be my favorite.

We left off coming back from the Zoo in Part 2… Hungry as a couple of bears.

Per recommendation from a couple friends, we had to try the infamous Cucina Urbana. I want to say straight up– If you have one meal to have in San Diego, and if you are a human being that has any kind of love for food, GO HERE. Besides the brunch (which is just in another food universe), this was hands down, our favorite meal.

It’s the ultimate tasteful experience the from the warm farmhouse feel to the contemporary aesthetics to the food itself.

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It was romantic, yet casual. All the food on their menu had Italian roots with unique twists.

We debated between the stuffed fried squash blossoms and the grilled octopus. We settled on the octopus (Can you believe it?!).. this was tremendous. I even liked this better than the octopus from Mister A’s, and I told DJ it was easily the closest I have had to Marco Prime’s (one day I will shut up about the octopus from Marco Prime- today is not that day). This octopus included speck + celery + cashew + lemon yogurt + salsa verde. Mmmmm mmmm!

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I am an odd bird, and I’m not a huge fan of traditional pasta… don’t kill me! If I have the option I would much rather choose a seafood dish or pizza usually over pasta. But the waitress convinced me I had to try this dish, and I would not dare go against the expert’s suggestion! This is the chili thread farfalle with tahitian squash + brussels sprout leaf + red cabbage + burrata cider fonduta.

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The verdict? Unbelievable. Seriously (I have my serious face on) one of the BEST pasta dishes I have EVER had. If I could go back to San Diego for one thing- I think I would grab this.

Anywho… DJ’s opted for their mouth-watering lasagna. There was not one little nibble left at the end of the meal.

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After, we grabbed the check and rushed back to the hotel so we didn’t miss a beat of Bachelor. Also, fun fact- Tipsy Crow, a local bar/dive, airs Bachelor on Monday nights. We considered going, but decided we just wanted to relax in the hotel room and get some room service desserts!

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The next morning, we walked to Gaslamp for breakfast. (This is going to be a comida saturated post).

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The Breakfast Republic was beckoning to us from our Yelp app.

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Every. little. thing. in this restaurant was paid mind to from the coffee mugs (Need) to the napkin holders.

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I had their mushroom & pesto benedict- mmmm mmm!

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Deej tried their pancake flight with oreo pancakes, traditional pancakes, and bacon pancakes… Take a look at their pancake menu! It’s amazing! I thought they were SUPER good, but DJ is a bit pickier 😉

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Also, to settle the whole debate with male/female restrooms in California, they just stuck the M right in the middle of the two restrooms. I thought this was hilarious… and actually ingenious… and interesting….

In the bathrooms they have on the wall backwards, “You look fine” so when you look in the mirror……

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You get a little pep talk!

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Even washing your hands is an experience, lol.

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We headed back to the hotel and got ready for the day to hit up the museums in Balboa park!

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First, we went to the Museum of Man.

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DJ might argue that this picture is pretty accurate at times, lol

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To be honest, neither of us were all that excited about it. It just didn’t seem to have anything that really, “Wowed” us.

BUT across the street is a new Cannibal exhibit, and that was very fascinating!

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Balboa is just stunning.

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We walked around Balboa park and hit up the Natural History Museum. Once again, not anything thrilled us too much. We decided we probably could have done without the Museums, but they were worth a shot!

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We couldn’t leave Balboa park without sneaking a peak at the Moreton Bay Fig Tree! It’s over 100 years old and one of the largest in California.

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We peaked into the Japanese friendship garden, but decided we were ready to head out!

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For our last evening we decided to spend it where? None other than the Gaslamp Quarter! We decided to see if we could snag a spot at Rustic Root, a desirable rooftop bar and eatery overlooking the heart of Gaslamp.

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This was a treat!!!! We decided to just pop in for some light apps, and the warm air and casual ambiance was the most relaxing experience.

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We devoured the salmon tartar with green onion , masago , sweet & spicy sauce ginger , papaya , avocado , and shiso as well as the garden flatbread with cherry tomato , jalapeno , roasted garlic , red onion zucchini , pesto , and manchego & jack cheese. So good!

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After our apps we had quite a bit of time before the last big event on our itinerary. We passed a Tim Cantor art gallery, and I couldn’t not stop in.

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I am obsessed with this picture below. (I knowwww I’m not supposed to take pictures of art, but I couldn’t help it).

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Alll of his art was impeccable. It blended reality with almost a carnival like, dream state. I spent probably twenty five minutes in the small gallery. DJ ended up just sitting outside, but I couldn’t get enough!

After, feasting with our mouths and our eyes, we headed to the Shout! House. If you are a San Diego native, you know this is the PLACE.

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We still had room for more food, so DJ had the wings and I was dying to try their Mac & Cheese balls.

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The show included Dueling pianos. We LOVE comedy shows and anything of the like. Even though it was a Tuesday night, the place ended up filling up quite a bit. I was in awe of how talented they were! If you need something to do in San Diego, highly recommend this!

After Shout! House, we walked back and swam in the warmed pool at the Westin. This was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. I love love love swimming, and swimming on a San Diego overlook in this beautiful city on a warm evening was perfection.

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We ended our last night with one more dessert from room service….

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In the morning, we ended with breakfast at the hotel. It was the BEST hotel brunch I have ever had. It was so good that I left a review for them on Orbitz. I know I already reviewed the Westin in part one, but I would say, it’s worth staying here for the breakfast buffet alone (it’s not free, but 100% worth it).

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They had beet and carrot juices that were so tasty.

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AND NUTELLA FRENCH TOAST

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One of my favorite parts of the breakfast was the goat cheese toasts. This would be a fantastic appetizer- toast, goat cheese, blueberries, and rosemary! I will definitely be recreating for a party or hosting.

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We packed up and said goodbye to the hotel <3

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Since our flight was in the evening we decided to spend or last couple free hours at Coronado beach again. We went and laid  (lied? lain? HELP!) out on the beach, reading, and falling in and out of sleep.

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It was a perfect way to end an absolutely perfect trip.

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So, what did we miss?! I would love to hear all your suggestions for next time we stop by this incredible city!!!! Thanks for sharing in these fun memories with us 🙂

xo <3

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Eggcellent eats, treats, and a SF retreat!

Elllooooo, beautiful people!!! This past week I have received a few questions about when the next update post would be coming up. Wellllllzzz here it is!! I was just so tickled that a couple of you actually anticipated them that much to reach out and ask about it. It’s been a few weeks.. certainly longer than I usually go without a new post. When I posted the last one I was not in a… good place. I think I hit a wall of emotional and physical burn out.

However, I can say I am in a much better place now, exhausted still, yes, but a manageable exhaustion. I finished up the application that is due December 1st (hallay- freaking- luyah), and now can just enjoy this weekend of celebration.

Starting next week, I am going to be diving head first into completing my research project (due January 8th- EEEEK!), but I am allowing myself at least this weekend to take a breath. I cannnot, CANNOT tell you how much your personal e-mails, texts, and prayers have meant. I know I sound like a broken record, but I mean it. This month I feel like I have been climbing uphill in quicksand, and would not have made it without some tough love (aka- Uhhh, Mack, you are not doing good- GET HELP) and all the tremendous support. I am feeling optimistic moving forward and after taking sometime to regroup the last few weeks, I am ready to face the new year full steam ahead with my mojo back.

SO- rewind to Friday November 10th, DJ and I both had a day off for Veteran’s Day so we decided to brunch it upp. We headed to the local Stacks in California- a place known for their pancakes.

We have been to the one in Menlo park before and DJ didn’t quite think the pancakes lived up to the hype (I disagree- their banana macadamia coconut pancake is easily one of the best pancakes I have ever had, but this was prior to blogging, so I’ll have to try them again sometime so I can share them).

Those little suckers were tempting, but I wanted to squeeze in an afternoon run and vouched for something a bit lighter. I tried the beaters scrambled which included egg beaters, broccoli, zucchini, onion, celery, mushrooms, and diced tomatoes. I ordered a side of cottage cheese and wheat toast to top it off. Mmmmm so good. I sometimes feel like cottage cheese just adds the perfect little extra creaminess to breakfast, especially with fresh tomatoes!

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DJ tried their waffle and chicken, and he liked them. (PS. DJ wrote this last sentence, lol. I can officially say he helped me write a post).

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In the afternoon we headed out for a nice run around the neighborhood together. It was a gorgeous day.

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Saturday, November 11th we both had work, but Sundayafter church we were able to pack in yet another brunch. I feel like we go through seasons sometimes where we eat tons of breakfast foods for our dates vs. actual dinner date nights (gotta fit them in where you can, right?!).

We decided to visit Castro Street in Mountain View to sample their dive, Crepevine. I’ve been to the one in Willow Glen, but not to this one. Crepevine is one huckuvah . fun (and tasty) experience. It’s similar to a Panera in the sense that you walk up and order, but you get a number and they bring you the food. They are an all-out breakfast place- with everything from crepes to pancakes to scrambles….. you name it, they’ve got it. And they are known for having super unique options as well.

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Annnnd per my Sunday brunch & bloody kick of late- I couldn’t pass up trying their’s. Now, I will say this is probably my least favorite of the three I have tried in my life. #1= FireFish Grille in Santa Cruz, #2- Left Bank, #3 This guy. I don’t think I would order it again though.

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BUT what I would definitely order again for the rest of my existence is their egg white tofu scramble- mouth is watering thinking about it. The tofu was cooked to crispy perfection. I don’t know why I don’t think about putting tofu in my eggs more often.. it’s such a stellar combo.

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DJ ordered their more… shall we say… sugar laden crepe. I think when we were ordering he felt a bit of pressure since the line was long and hadn’t had a good chance to thoroughly look over the menu. When he ordered and we stepped out of line, he goes, “I think I just ordered dessert on accident”. We laughed so hard. I told him to order something else, but he didn’t care that much… He just had a sugar high the rest of the afternoon from his vanilla crepe topped with ice cream, whipped cream, and syrup.

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He’s channeling his inner Buddy the Elf a bit early this year I reckon.

(PS. He is upset that I deleted his sentence that said, “DJ ordered dessert for breakfast, and he liked it“…. so there it is, Deej).

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After eating breakfast, we took a nice little stroll down Castro street. We passed by the pub we popped into when my Aunt and Uncle were here around this time last year. We realized we haven’t been back since then, and it made me miss um’ a whole bunch!!

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The rest of the evening, I finished up my application and decided to call it a day.

On Monday the 12th, I made a trip to Whole Foods and did some hard-core food prep for the next couple work day lunches. I discovered some goodies and can’t wait to share them in a Friday Faves!!!!

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In anticipation of the next few work days, I prepped a giant tofu stir-fry, roasted peppers, cauliflower mashed potatoes (steaming in the pot before actually being made into mashed potatoes), and rosemary  multicolored potatoes. I usually pack a bunch of these veggies with hummus, almonds, boom chica pop, and no cow lemon meringue bars.

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I squeezed in a nice little run and hit the hay early to get recouped for the next couple days.

DJ has been playing in a league on Monday evenings, and I am hoping one of these days it works out where I’ll be able to go! I usually work Monday or Tuesdays so it’s difficult with my bedtime being so doggone early.

Also, super random, but while doing a big clean out of the house, DJ discovered this rubber spider and has been hiding it ALL OVER in places trying to scare me with it. I’ve been hiding it back, but lemme tell ya… gotta be on your toes with this one.

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November 13th-14th, workin’ workin’ workin’.

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One of our patient’s sent in some Susie Cakes as a thank you– it was, quite literally, a nice treat! Any die hard Susie Cake fan lovers out there? The first time I heard about them was in LA.

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On November 16th, I kicked it into high gear and officially submitted my application! I spent alll day finishing it up, but I cannot even put into words how great it felt to have that done. Those essays were intense… six personal statements. SIX.

November 17th, after that was done, it was time to focus on getting ready to go back to Ohio for my best friend’s wedding. I had to find a rehearsal dinner dress and just a few accessories. I always dread shopping when I absolutely have to find something with limited time, but this trip was a surprisingly a breeze. I downloaded T. Swift’s new album (I hate to admit it.. but I love it), put some headphones in, and found what I needed fairly quick. I don’t want to love her music, because it would simply add to my resume of basic, but I can’t help myself. Her new album is so. good.

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Macy’s was having a giant sale on BCBG dresses (my weakness). I found the perfect dress, and cannot wait to share with y’all after tomorrow!

In the afternoon, I went for a leisure run with the stress of finding a dress and submitting the application behind me. I felt like I could take a deep, deep breath (at least in this moment).

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In the evening, I received a text from a good friend asking if I was home. Luckily I was, and Tammy, whom I have mentioned many times before, dropped in with this GORGEOUS bouquets of flowers, vegan enchiladas, vegan spaghetti squash, and a journal. I was blown away… like who does this for someone else? She is such a good friend, and I’m thankful beyond words to have her in my life. She said she knew I was having a hard time, and knew this would brighten my day (She knew right!).

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The enchiladas were FLAME, as was the squash.. and my heart just melts every time I look at the flowers. I don’t know what I’d do without her!

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November 18th, 19th, and 20th I worked. I actually had some incredible shifts where I connected with my patients and wasn’t bogged down to an inhuman level (thank God for the weekend grind). On Monday I actually was offered the first eight hours off due to staffing census (praise Him from whom all blessing flow), and only worked the last four. The last four were pretty insane though… considering literally minutes before I came on shift one of my patients in the Neuro Close observation room removed their feeding tube, IV, was incontinent (both ways), needed an EKG, urine sample, stool sample, sputum sample, PVR, and q2 vitals and neuro exam. It was a big ole’ game of “git r’ done”. And it all did get done. It always does, and if it doesn’t, it gets passed on, and it isn’t the end of the world. This is something I’m starting to learn. I’ve really needed to shift my perspective in order to start having less anxiety on the floor… just learning to focus on one thing at a time and realizing I can only do what I can do. OK, jumping off my soap box now…

Tuesday, November 21st I used the day to sleep. After three days of waking up at 0430, I could barely get out of bed! Those three in a row whip my behind. I did end up doing a fantastic Insanity workout in the afternoon and cooked DJ dinner of Epic burgers and rosemary parm roasted potatoes, but my productivity basically ended at that.

Yesterday, Wednesday, was ah-may-zing!!!!! I got my little toosh out of bed before 8 and went down for a nice run on the tready. OH! And I’ve been back to lifting weights too! I love the way it feels to lift.. I am starting to advance my weight from 5 lb. to 10 lbs… so you know… basically a body builder over here. LOL! I’ll take a gains picture soon when it’s not tooo pathetic 😉 I realize how important it is to be strong with all the lifting I do in my job.

I did my makeup and straightened my hair meticulously (usually my hair just gets thrown up and disregarded whenever I do anything), and I put on normal people clothes!). I told DJ it felt great to actually look like a functioning human being for once haha.

My best friend since diapers, Melissa, was in town with her family for a vacation. She was in my wedding party, so you may recognize her from our wedding pictures! I wasn’t sure if I would be able to see her because of the timing of the wedding and my work schedule, but it worked out absolutely perfectly.

I zipped down to SF as fast as I could (Aka 10 mph… cause of that thing called traffic).

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I gleefully strolled into the restaurant Melissa suggested on Pier 39, Swiss Louis. I had never been here, but passed this place more times than I can count, and was eager to devour some fresh seafood.

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After exchanging big hugs we couldn’t stop bouncing from topic to topic to topic. There was wayyyy too much to catch up on (and I don’t think we even scraped the surface). The two of us could spend days chatting it up, talking about everything and anything. She’s one of those people I can just let my guard down with and tell the raw, honest truth about everything going on in life. It did good for my soul to have that time with her.

No worries, I’m not gonna leave out my “what I suggest you order based on what we ordered” segment, haha.

I saw a fish I have never tried before *gasp* (and I pompously thought I had tried it all!). This little critter below is called Basa. The meat of the fish was so tender and juicy and melted in my mouth like butter. It was topped with an orange glaze and caramelized onions with a side of fresh veggies. Everything was absolute perfection. It may have been one of the best fish dishes I have had on the pier!

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Melissa tried their classic Chicken Sandwich and fries. Cannot go wrong with a good classic.

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As we were walking out of the restaurant, we did a double take at their dessert display. Uhm, yuhm. That’s all I can say. May need to go back A.S.A.P, and leave more room!

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We perused Pier 39 and then walked down the entire Embarcadero to the Ferry Building (hello blisters)…(but the best blisters, like the “really worth it blisters” that remind me of great mems, ya feel?).

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Melissa and I popped into Peet’s so she could have her first ever Peet’s Coffee. Yes, you heard right, FIRST ever. It was actually surprisingly pretty warm out, so we both had iced coffees.

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We had a little impromptu photo shoot- ISN’T SHE THE CUTEST?!

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Last time I was here was to visit Kate from AnkhorYou! Miss you, Chica! <3

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We soaked up the last of the views before the sun began setting and then sadly, I had to head home to finish up last minute laundry & packing.

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This morning, Thanksgiving, I woke up early to run and lift weights.

I am totally out of mascara, and a couple days ago I ordered my favorite- They’re Real from Benefit on Amazon prime. I was supposed to receive it last night- but it never came in. When we were in the Uber on our way to the airport, I was trying to figure out how I was going to make a trip to Ulta before the rehearsal dinner. As soon as we made it through security, I saw a stinking BENEFIT VENDING MACHINE. Can we talk about serendipity of this situation?! Now, if you say you don’t believe in God..

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After I settled down after the pure awe & elation, I announced that I was a starvin’ marvin’ and needed food now. DJ knows when this statement is made, quick action is needed before I become monster mack (ew, third person)..

I was stoked to see Mission Bar & Grill had a breakfast menu that we were still in time for. (Last time I was here was for my other good friend Lyndsay’s wedding in Pittsburgh!).  I was super hungry so I downed an egg white mediterranean omelette, wheat toast, breakfast potatoes, and a Bloody Mary. I think I’ll be full for like three days after that, but tis’ thanksgiving right?

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Deej tried their mimosa, but wasn’t starvin’ since he had a pretty big brekky before we left.

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This breakfast definitely kept the monster at bay. And their bloody may be in second place now in my book (definitely ahead of left bank!).

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We chatted a bit, then I blogged (although I am still horribly behind per usual- I promise I’ll try to catch up soon on y’alls comments and posts!), and DJ kept up with the football stats until it was time to catch our plane.

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Currently, we are sitting on the plane heading back to the OH … IO. We will be arriving this evening around 8:30 pm. I can’t even explain how excited I am to see some family and friends and celebrate Clair’s wedding. It’s gonna be one of the best weekends of all time, and I better go get some beauty rest so I don’t screw up her forever pics 😉 Sending all my love and, oh my gosh, HAPPY THANKSGIVING to eat and every one… wait, each and every one of you (freudian slip up in there). If you have a thanksgiving post up please leave it in the comments. Muah!

Questions for you!

  1. What is your go-to splurge designer/store in the mall?
  2. Favorite Thanksgiving food?
  3. Thoughts on the T. Swift album?

If you have a link to your Turkey day post, please leave it below!

xo <3

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