There’s No Place Like Home: Part Two

Here we goooo, Part Dos! This one is a bit shorter, gotta give y’all some breathing room, hehe.

We left off the night of Monday the 2nd. In the morning of Tuesday the 3rd I met my friend Rachel at First Watch– my all time FAVORITE breakfast spot. It’s something we don’t have here in the West, so I was salivating as I walked through the door.

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And I guess you can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take the California out of the girl…. naturally I went for their avocado toast. (I also love their coffee). My other favorites here are their tri-athlete and their massive pancakes!

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Rach ordered their famous pesto chicken quinoa bowl with protein-packed quinoa mixed with kale, shredded carrots and house-roasted tomatoes topped with grilled all-natural lemon chicken breast, basil pesto sauce, feta crumbles and fresh herbs.

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After breakfast, I snuck in a workout at the local gym then decided to go to Earth Fare- my main reason for coming home (jk jk … kinda)…. My last meal would include the taters from Burntwood and tofu nuggets from EarthFare. This is one of the food items I miss the absolute most and a must when I go home.

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They didn’t have them in the main display and I started to panic. I asked the lady if she had any and she said none were made but she would be happy to whip some up. It was so kind, and I was willing to wait the extra twenty minutes to get some nuggs.

img_7274img_7275I grabbed some big salads for me and Clair before going to her childhood home to visit her mom and sister.

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This is a picture of their gorgeous backyard. Countless of my own memories growing up were held here too.

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For dinner I met with another close friend from high school, Kylie, at Pub Bricco. I hadn’t been here in forever, and forgot how doggone delicious their food was.

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Kylie had their salmon sandwich and I tried a bite- heaven. Anything with sun-dried tomatoes is pure gold.

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I savored every single bite of their veggie burger with tzatziki sauce.

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We talked, barely stopping to take a breath for almost three hours, and yet it never seems like enough time! We have been sending cards back and forth this past year though which has been such a great way to stay in touch. Who doesn’t love still getting snail mail nowadays?!

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In the morning of the fourth I woke up super early and headed to Lakeside, OH to join DJ’s family for a day on the lake!

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This place is very dear to DJ and I. DJ grew up here in the summers and this was actually where he told me he loved me for the first time (fun facts all around). When you are here it feels like all is right in the world.

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The girls! (Although we missed Amy- DJ’s twin).

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A ceremony was held to dedicate the Park to DJ’s Grandma and Grandpa- it was a beautiful and wonderful ceremony. Truly an unforgettable day. Love this family and honored to call myself part of it <3

After the ceremony I zoomed back to Cleveland to return the rental car. I was stuck in some serious bouts of rain- I do NOT miss that!!! Rain rain go away, come back when I am on my plane….. back to CA.. where there is a whole lot less precipitation.

BUT fighting the H2O was so worth it because I was able to attend my family’s fourth of July barbecue! My brother and his amazing wife Maura picked me up from the rental place and we drove to my cousin’s home for the evening.

I seriously hope I am half the parents they are!

This is Baby Kate- can’t handle her cuteness. Our little all American girl!

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And this is Jack- my nephew who literally melts my heart and soul every time he says, “Aunt Kenzie”.

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Kate loooved my sunnies.

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And my shoes! She got into those on her own. We just turned around and she was standing there in them with a big smile on her face. It was so stinking cute.

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Time for sparklers!!!

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BE STILL MY SOUL. This face <3

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Jack loved the sparklers and really loved the pop-its! Fearless little man.

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After an incredible family day, I tried to catch some serious snoozes before having to get up at 4 am for my flight (which would be 1 am Pacific time). Eek! I was surprisingly hungry when I got to the airport, so I found a yummy chia seed pudding with berries and nuts and had a coffee before boarding.

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And now that brings us back to good ole’ Northern Cali. Thanks for letting me share my home with you all- such a special place with such special people. Where is your home home?

xo <3

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There’s No Place Like Home: Part One

Heyyyya!!! I am splitting my Ohio trip into two parts so I don’t crash Rossy’s laptop, lol 😉 We took off for Ohio last Friday the 29th. I woke up around 4:45 am to squeeze in a few miles on the tready. Our flight was around 11: 45 am, and I had worked up quite the appetite by the time we had to go. I quickly grabbed a three bean salad and mixed green salad from Klein’s on the airport and ate a No Cow bar on the plane too for some extra protein. (still bitter they changed their formula, but they still keep me nice and full).

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Oh and of course had to snag a Cafe au Lait with almond milk from Dog Patch!

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Home! 🏡

We caught up with DJ’s mom at the kitchen table like we always have since high school <3 One of the best parts of coming home! We ended the night by watching the latest Bachelorette all together.

In the morning I got up early pearly to get ready for the wedding. The time change always messes with me and after getting up at 4:45 am the day before, I was gonna need a lot of coffee! Mom B even stocked up my favorite Dave’s Killer bread and had some perfectly ripe avocados. She knows me well! That avocado toast tasted so good. Food and coffee alwayyys tase better at this house.

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I brought my press on, jankey nails since mine are so darn short and I didn’t want to paint them. Welp, epic fail when I was short two nails! Haha.

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I whipped into the nearest CVS and grabbed a new pack. They are so long, but I didn’t want to mess with clipping them because I’d do a horrible job. Gotta just let the claws live sometimes, ya know?

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I deliberated which dress to wear and settled on this one (you can catch my options on my MIL’s new website and App Wear This One– I will explain more about this soon!).

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We went to a beautiful wedding after picking up my girl Rachel. Remember our cruise together?! We never got to say goodbye after accidentally separating at the airport so when we saw each other it was like “Goodbye! Hello!”.

On the car ride over we imagined worst case scenarios for if one of my nails were to pop off (the little press ons aren’t necessarily the strongest little suckers). We decided it would either be when shaking someone’s hand or at the reception and then the bride slipping on it. Totally normal convos to have on the way to a wedding, right?

As the send off, we all let off balloons outside the church. In San Francisco you would be beheaded if you dared let off balloons into the environment, haha. DJ and I were like, “Is this really happening?!”

In between the wedding, we picked up my sister from a local subway where she was meeting with a friend. Her poor car wasn’t starting, but my brother was able to come in the clutch for a repair. (Y’all it’s like the olden days- fam and friends within arms reach when ya need them, just loved it!).

We went to lunch at Burntwood Tavern, the favorite spot in town.

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Deej had their chicken sliders

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Rachel had their tater tots- and HOLY CANNOLI RAVIOLI, these are the best darn tater tots I have ever had. If I had to create a last meal these would be included.

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I went for their hummus and pita platter. It was a fantastic tide-me-over!

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So nice to see these two below. I haven’t seen Hal, my sister (In the middle) in over a year. I was ecstatic when I heard she was going to be in town for a couple days (She lives in Cincy).

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The food at the wedding was some of the best wedding food I have ever had!!! I had the macadamia salmon and DJ had their filet. Everyone raved about how wonderful the filet was (it’s hard to get a great meat cut at a wedding too!). And those potatoes- goodness gracious alive- I could live on those things.

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My two besties in one picture. Rachel in the middle, Clair on the right. Ya might remember Clair from her own wedding last November <3

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We all danced our little hearts out all together. DJ cut a rug!

Here is the gorgeous bride, Ali. Ali and I were SUPER close in high school. It’s one of those relationships where we can easily just pick up where we left off.

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Here is a video I grabbed of us dancing, but the sound isn’t working for some reason?!!! Ugh, snapchat, come n’!

Late in the evening they had pizza, is there anything better?! Rach and I were quite excited.

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In the morning of the 30th, DJ had to return to Cali for work around 7 am.

I went for a nice sixish mile jog and then Rach, Rachel’s Mom, MC, and I went to Cuyahoga Valley Church. This was the church we used to go to when we lived in Ohio. It was SO nice, gosh I miss that place.

I miss the simplicity of living in Ohio badly. When talking to my mom I was telling her how much I missed certain parts of living in OH (I wrote about some differences in my last post). She made a valid point- she said she was homesick the most when she was home. So true.

After church, we went for a scrumptious brunch in Cleveland. Since we are older now, I would like to go back and actually explore Cleveland. We never did growing up- we just stayed in our little town. DJ and I vowed we would do some more exploring next time we are there together!

anyway- I digress…the three of us decided on the Market Garden Brewery for brunchy perfection.

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I loved the decor- it’s industrial chic if I’ve ever seen it!

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MC tried their Bloody Mary (I snagged a sip! Mmmm mmm!).

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Rach and I savored their very generous in size mimosa flight! The flavors were fantastic- white peach, passion fruit, blood orange, & blackberry.

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I enjoyed their yummy avocado toast. I had a size of their potatoes and a poached egg to plop on top of it.

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MC and Rach split their Brisket Omelette with adobo braised short rib, fingerling potato, fresh avocado, queso fresco, fried pickled onions, cilantro. They said it needed a bit more umph of flavor, but the potatoes were awesome!

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They preferred the carnitas Benedict with 2 scratch english muffin, MGB progress pilsner braised pork carnitas, 2 soft poached eggs, salsa verde hollandaise, pickled red onions, cotija cheese, cilantro served with breakfast potatoes.

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After rolling ourselves out of the restaurant, we headed over to West Side Market. In alll my years of living in Ohio, I had never been here. Can ya believe it?!

It was HUGE- with seriously anything you can imagine. If when we move back here one day I am going to live at this place.

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Feels like home <3

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When I say they have everything, I mean everything..

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After purchasing some fudge and continuing to nurse our food comas, we went to a friend of Rachel’s who had a sweet little new puppy. Cutest little puppy ever!!

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In the afternoon, I headed over to my brother’s house to spend some time with my niece and nephew <3 <3 Gosh I miss them. I hate that I’m the “far away” Aunt- but it makes me treasure truly every single second. They amaze me and I can’t believe I have the honor to call myself their Aunt.

This here is little Miss Baby Kate. Jack, my nephew, was running around and I didn’t have a chance to snag a picture, but next post I have some cute ones of him <3 (I know I need to chill on the heart usage but I can’t help myself).

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The Aunts with their girl! Can ya tell we’re all related?

Maura, my sister in law, made these TASTY vegan buddha bowls. I recreated them immediately when I came home the best I could because they were so doggone delicious!!!

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After chillin’ with my family, giving the kids a bath and reading a bedtime story, we all hit the hay. Those little moments make my heart beat. I couldn’t love those two more than I already do.

In the morning I had the honor of putting little pigtails on this one and then seeing where the kiddos go for summer daycare/school.

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After, I drove to the local gym I used to attend and cranked out a few miles. I then went to Clair’s house for more baby snuggles with her little one, Jacob. He turned one this past week!

CAN. YOU. STAND. IT.

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We hung out, caught up, and kept a close eye on the rambunctious little booger above. We were going to do something outside, but it was in the nineties and promising rain. We ended up going to Target to try to find some clothes for Clair. It felt like middle school again….. except a baby in tow, tehe. It’s strange when you move away and then return how much feels the same, but so different all at once.

Once Clair’s husband Robby came home we went out for a nice dinner at …. guess where? Burntwood Tavern 😉

Clair opted for their Moscow Mule and I had a glass of Cab. Shocker, huh?

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Naturally, we had to split their taters again. I’m telling you— best darn tots I’ve ever tried. Napoleon Dynamite would have a field day.

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Clair had their delectable cedar plank salmon.

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With it being scorching hot out I decided on their salmon salad. I could eat this for every meal.

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We settled in for the evening with some wine to watch Bachelorette. It was a perfect day <3

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I will do part 2 soon with all our 4th of July Festivities & lotsa great grub!

xo <3

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Friday Favorites

Woah, woah, woah hold the phone, Mack is actually doing something semi-normal on her blog? Yes, yes. I can hardly believe it myself. I am doing a Friday Favorites post! Woot woot! I had a few things I wanted to share in the last post, but I felt like doing a friday faves would help shorten the other post a bit! Not sure if I’ll end up doing them every week; I have a problem with commitment as you know by my inability to actually post recipes when I say I will *sigh*. But nevertheless, I’ll do my best.

  1. They’re Real Mascara. My sister and I don’t splurge on hardly anything makeup wise, but when it comes to this mascara we cannot find one better. We are obsessed.

2. Banana Pancakes. This is my most recent breakfast bae. It’s so easy too- 2 large bananas//1/2 cups of oats//splash of vanilla//splash of almond milk in a food processor to get a fluffy batter, cooked like a regular pancakes, some light syrup or blueberry compote on top, and you are golden as a goose. If you are feeding more people, just double the recipe! I also like to add a bit of plain Chobani or Fage on the side to add some protein. I tell ya what, I think I could live on this stuff.

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3. These socks. DJ gave me these for my birthday. Thank ya again, sugar love.

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They are super, SUPER cozy too! Get yours here !

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4. Homesick candles. I have seen these advertised all over the doggone place and my sister-in-law actually gave me one for Christmas! It is such a thoughtful gift! And if I had to give an objective review, I’d say it really does smell like Ohio! <3

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5. Speaking of candles, this Accent Warmer will blow your “get me wine” socks off! It smells fabulous and lasts forever! I burn through candles like nobody’s business, so the length of time an accent warmer lasts is actually a great investment! The soft cashmere amber smells so yummy, and it lights up the room beautifully!

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6. Thrifty finds. I loooove thrift stores. It’s like a sport to me. Ever since middle school I have loved hunting down the best deals, finding hidden gems, and paying a fraction of the initial cost. I bet 85% of my closet is from thrift stores, TJ’s, and Marshall’s. Also, I’m about as fickle as they come, so I never have to have “Buyer’s guilt” if I buy something and don’t wear it as much as I think I will. These are a few of my faves I found last week (along with my purse that I found from the same thrift store a couple months ago). Everything was even brand new with the tags still on it. The shirts are from Banana Republic and Ann Taylor originally, the shoes from Forever 21, and the purse Kenneth Cole Reaction. If you aren’t a thrifter, I highly recommend giving it a try- it’s a blast!

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7. This planner. –  I have a new found love of Sugar Paper planners. I never usually invest in a cute planner, but I had a giftcard to Target and stumbled across this little guy. LOVE it!

8. & this Wine Cork holder. My friend Morgan (THANKS MO!), sent me this for my birthday. People must think I like wine or something….. Anywho, I love this, and I am so excited to get the corks glued down to hang it up! ** No judging I have collected corks since I’ve turned 21 , so it’s not that many 😉 **

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9. This stuffed vegan purple sweet potato. Ok- so I know it seems I always lie about actually sharing recipes, but I will be posting this one next week. It’s too good and wayyy too easy. I’ve had it for dinner almost every day this week 😋

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10. Dexter. We love our Dex.  I think it’s one of those shows that picks up over time too, each season gets better and better.

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11. Working for Postmates!!!!!!!! LOVE this company and also how easy it is to work around my schedule!

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A lot of my friends and family are curious how it works, so I figured I would describe it here:

  1. I signed up, submitted my info, and then they sent me a Postmates credit card and bag
  2. I downloaded the app and activated the card
  3. While working, I show that I am “Online” and when a delivery needs to be picked up, I will be notified and I can choose to “skip” or “accept”
  4. If I accept, I am given the shopping list of the delivery (so it could be a list for items at Target, a grocery store, a food delivery for pick up, etc.), and I go to the store and pick up the items
  5. When I check out, I use the Postmates credit card (This is not a personal card at all linked to my account- it strictly is a Postmates company card)
  6. I then enter the final amount in the app and take a picture of the receipt
  7. I say “Deliver to ____ (person’s name)”, and deliver to the address given
  8. Once I complete the delivery, I am paid instantly and they can choose to tip.

HIGHLY recommend if you need a side job. BUT don’t do it in high heels. I learned my lesson as I was running through the mall to pick up an order from Panda Express and ended up with blisters all over my feet. Lolz.

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^ yes, the pedicure from mid November is still holding on. Haha.

** Anyway, deliveries usually take less than 20 minutes, and they have “Blitz pricing” where I will be notified when rates are up! You can work literally any hour of the day, but I choose to work during the day for safety reasons. DJ is hounding me to get my bear spray for the Mountain Lions and pepper spray for the crazies that I might deliver to one day… no worries babe, Amazon Prime has my Bear and Pepper spray on the way 😉

WELP guys, I did it. I did a Friday Favorites. I have more I want to add, but I’ll wait till next time! I can hardly believe I actually did such a normal blog post that isn’t a million pages long! Wowza. Love you all and hope this weekend is extra wonderful for each of you!

xo <3

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Cleveland, Ohio- A Perfect Christmas

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

So, CHRISTMAS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drumrollllll……..

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

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

He is also pretty insta-famous: poolnoodlethecorgi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xo <3

Mack

Fort Worth, TX Recap!

Hey Ya’ll! Long time no chat! I am so behind on these posts, comments, everyyything- so I apologize but I will get caught up very soon 🙂 I have so many good memories to record and share. I am taking us wayyy back in time to December 15th when I arrived in Fort Worth, Texas. My mom and step dad, Pete, live there and my sister, Halston, flew in as well. DJ had to stay in Cali for work! I already recapped San Antonio, which was a weekend trip, so this post is the bookends of that weekend!

Thursday (12/15)

I woke up in the morning sick as a dog. I definitely caught whatever had been going around. DJ took me to the airport, and we realized this would be the longest we would be apart since we got married. Anyway, I comically lugged my three suitcases through the airport, unable to keep them stacked in a way that I could physically move them in unison. I’d go five steps then *flop* the one would topple over, another five steps then *flop*- I continued dropping the luggage every few feet and certainly was someone’s entertainment for the day. I honestly didn’t care, I just wanted to get through security to my darn gate. I handed off my checked luggage and was finally free from the luggage juggling circus act. Once through security, I started craving soup more than I can ever remember in my whole life. The chills were pretty bad. I walked through the airport strip and had about given up on finding soup and instead started hunting down my gate. When I was close to my gate I saw the San Francisco Soup Company and was never so ecstatic to see a soup place in all my years.

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I ordered their summer corn chowder and it hit.the. spot. It took that achy chill out of my bones and made the rest of the wait bearable!

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On the flight I read the latest issue of the American Journal of Nursing, wrote some Christmas cards, and used the tray table as a pillow. What do you guys do on flights?

After I landed, my family and I exchanged hugs and “Ah! I don’t want to get you sick”(s) and “I don’t care!”(s), then hit the road to head to Keller (a suburb of Fort Worth). On the way we stopped by the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX. My sister’s boyfriend, Kevin, was there for one more night and we said he couldn’t leave without seeing this place. It’s quite the spectacle! It’s one large hotel, but they deck it all out for Christmas. You know the saying, “Everything is bigger in Texas”? I’m pretty sure that originated with this hotel. It’s worth a quick walk through if you are ever in the area!

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Cuties!!!! (I was out of commission for pictures; I basically looked like a walking zombie).

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They have an imitation San Antonio Riverwalk on the lower level. It’s even completed with Mexican restaurants all around it. How cool is that!??!

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Once home, I was greeted by my puppy, Jade, that I haven’t seen in so long.

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On Friday (12/16) Kevin left (sad day!), and I had my hair did (insert hand flip emoji) at a Lemongrass Salon by Aveda while my mom and sister shopped. I accidentally missed my appointment that I had scheduled in California (I thought it was 1 but it was 11), so my mom graciously helped me schedule this one. I still was not feeling 100%, so it was a good day to knock this out. Getting your head massaged and roots covered is a sure fire way to make a girl feel better 😉 I swear by Aveda salons for a good blonde!

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Friday night mama Jill whipped up a delicious dinner!!! It was cauliflower Arancini via GreenChef, and we loved it! However, we both agree after using both services that Blue Apron is still the better of the two.

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I liked using the leftover cauliflower bites to dip in hummus. They were even better the next day.

That night we went to the movies. I LOVE the movie theaters with the Cafe and Bar areas. We watched Collateral Beauty. I thought it was just OK, but the rest of my family loved it. Either way it was great family time and sparked good conversation. I won’t give a full synopsis- but if anyone has seen it I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Saturday morning (12/17) We left first thing in the morning for San Antonio!!!!!!!! You can read all about our Saturday morning to Sunday evening here.

Monday (12/18) was a chilllllllll day filled with sleeping in, a workout at the local recreation center with my mama, baking Christmas cookies, and sushi for dinner. A perfect day if there ever was any! The last couple times we have been in Fort Worth have been pretty tourist packed, so we decided to take it easy this round and just relax- a word that isn’t really in my vocab too often.

At breakfast, the little stinker put on her sweet begging face. Sorry, Charlie, I like my toast too doggone much to share.

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Christmas Bakin’! I wish I could take credit for any of this, but Mama Jill was the baking wizard all the way. Her coconut macaroons are the BOMB (they are the white morsels). And there is truly something about homemade rice krispy treats!

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Tons of sushi from Kroger with seaweed salad and asian thai salad was on the agenda for dinner. (I know grocery store sushi may not sound super appealing, but I have never been disappointed!).

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After sushi, we went over some family friends’. I met them last spring when I was in town and had a ball with them. I couldn’t wait to hang out again. Their house is the most festively decorated home I have ever seen. I think the said they have eighteen Christmas trees total? Each one is decorated with a specific ornament theme. For example, they have a Christmas tree with only shoe ornaments, another with only wine bottle ornaments, another with only santa ornaments, etc.; it was an actual winter wonderland.

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She has no idea I snapped this, but I snuck a picture of this classy lady!

Also we had carolers stop by, and they were the most precious two little girls in the world.

Tuesday (12/20)

This was lounge day round two! We watched Netflix, home videos, Hulu, and grazed all day long.

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My family hasn’t let me live this clip down for years. This is Halston and I. I was NOT a nice big sister!!! Sorry, Hal!!! Thanks for not holding this against me. Love u!

Here is a picture of my mama’s homemade guac that I mentioned in the San Antonio post!

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For dinner she made roasted onion, butternut squash, brussel sprouts, and cranberries with a maple glaze. YUM!

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Every single night us three girls hot-tubbed, chatted, and sipped on wine. It was perfection. Pete was so sweet to encourage us to have our girl time.

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The neighbors next-door just had a baby, so we dog-sat a couple times in the evenings for them to lighten their load. This video makes me belly laugh every time I watch it. It is of one of the dogs (the most lovable Pitbull in the world) thoroughly enjoying a tummy rub. Yes- that is a dog making that noise. My mom at the end of the video goes, “Why are you crying, Buster?!” *That’s the dog’s name 😉

Wednesday (12/21)

Halston, my mom, and I woke up and did Insanity in the living room. All ya’ gotta do is move a few couches out of the way and you’ve got a nice gym!!

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Followed by shenanigans.

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Jadey baby didn’t feel up for the workout. Also- what a stinking diva. She literally has her bed on the bed. Spoiled pup, I tell ya what.

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After our big family workout, we went to brunch at Another Broken Egg Cafe per my stepdad’s suggestion. I think I thanked him at least ten times for suggesting this place, because it was one of the BEST brunchy places ever. Ugh, I say that every time, but I do mean it!

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They had such a uniquely delicious selection of food, and their coffee was served in handcrafted stone mugs. Doesn’t get much better than that.

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My mom and Pete said we needed to try the Beignet doughnuts. These are like the best-donuts-you’ve-ever-had and then some. SO. GOOOD. And they are served with a honey marmalade. I donut know how I have gone my whole life without them. And I donut know how I have gone so long without making an awful pun. You’re welcome.

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Us girlies tried the skinny omelette which had herbed egg whites with blanched asparagus, roasted red peppers, green onions, goat cheese and roasted garlic cloves with an english muffin and a fruit dish. They seasoned it with the most palatable herbs!!!! My mom and I placed our bets on what they were, and we actually nailed it! Thyme, rosemary, and parsley. If you’ve never tried that on an omelette, DO IT! It’s extraordinary, or shall I say “Egg-straordinary”! Ok, ok, I’m done now 😉

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Pete chose the lemon ricotta pancakes. He graciously offered us all a bite, and obviously I graciously accepted a big ole’ one. My sister gets mad because she says when I “try” something, I end up eating half of it. But, hey, tomat-oh, tomah-toe. You say “try”, I hear “sample half the plate”. Anyways, these were lemony ricotta-ey pancakey perfection.

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Wednesday night we had the Candlelight celebration at church. It worked out perfectly because this was our “faux” Christmas Eve. Although we couldn’t celebrate actual Christmas day all together, the fact that we could go to this candlelight service definitely made it feel like a true Christmas Eve celebration. It was moving, and I love seeing the sanctuary lit up by candlelight.

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When we came home we had apps while we finished up cooking dinner! The cheese was a mix of vegan and regular. I truly could not tell the difference between which one was vegan and which one was not. Usually good vegan cheeses are hard to come by, but this stuff was a facsimile; it blew my mind! We could not get enough!

Fun tip: If you need a fancy, yet incredibly easy, appetizer- try doing pita crackers + hummus + roasted red pepper + roasted onion + a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

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Although DJ wasn’t able to actually be with us, we still hung his stocking!!!

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It was nice to sit around and enjoy our apps around the gorgeous tree. It’s these moments that define the word “content” for me.

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Dinner started with goat cheese “croutons” atop a salad with pears, pecans, and mixed greens. THIS. This is going to be a tradition.

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Momma made ribs for Pete… yes, that whole thing was for Pete considering none of us eat meat. LOL. The girls had a sesame crusted tuna. I forgot to take a picture because I was a bit ravenous!

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Dessert followed with my mom’s marveeeeelous Christmas cookies and my step dad’s famous pumpkin crunch which I am beyond bummed that I don’t have a picture of. We gobbled that thing up so quick! It’s one of our favorite parts of Christmas. It’s truly something I look forward to year round.

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We ended the night with a dip in the hot-tub per usual.

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On Thursday (11/22) we had our “faux” Christmas Day!!!!! It was a magical morning followed by a breakfast of eggs, toast, and BEER JELLY! I found these on UncommonGoods for Pete. We had fun sampling all of them! Uncommon Goods is an AMAZING site for unique gifts for the family. I find most of my gifts here each year!

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Annnnnd my stocking, as well as Halston’s, was stocked with five gum, NO COW bars (lemon meringue- the best), and Quest bars. We may have a bit of an obsession to say the least…

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After opening gifts and having breakfast, I went for a nice long run. Unfortunately, the sun didn’t want to peak through too much, but it was still enjoyable. I lived in Texas in the Summer of 2015 before traveling to India, so the familiarity feels like home, even down to the running trails.

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In the afternoon I ran a couple errands with Mama Jill

You know you are in Texas when…

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That afternoon we had apps round two!

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For our “Christmas day” dinner, we started with pear salads with goat cheese, toasted almonds, cranberries, and mixed greens. I made my cauliflower mashed potatoes! I promise I will post those at some point! They were a big hit.

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We also had stuffed vegan acorn squash with fresh cranberries!

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My mom also made regular meatballs for Pete

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And we cannot forget my most favorite dish of the season: Sweet potato praline . YUHHHHMMM.

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And what is any holiday meal without green bean casserole? She made it healthier too by substituting the cream of mushroom for light and low sodium. We could not even tell the difference!

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This perfect Christmas dinner was followed by more hot tub & wine!

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Friday (11/23) I woke up early to go to the local recreation center in Keller to get a workout in before getting ready to head to the airport. My sister had a different flight than me (a much earlier one), so she was landing in Ohio as I was taking off. This is how I caught up on reading everyone else’s blogs from the week! People probably think I’m such a crazy ellipticallyng (spelling?) with a laptop, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do!

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When my mom got back from the airport, I finished packing up and then we decided we had time for one last lunch before heading out. She recommended a favorite of her’s and Pete’s in town, Devivo Bros. Eatery. It is considered rustic comfort food, but has an Italian flare! So essentially all the good things..

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We split the Kale salad with fresh kale, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, crispy tortilla strips and candied almonds tossed in a jalapeño ranch dressing as well as the white bean tomato basil soup.

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It all hit the spot perfectly, and I was so thankful for this small chunk of time we could treasure before my flight.

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Isn’t she darling?!

Time to head back to OH-IO.
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I will recap that soon! Since DJ couldn’t join us on our fort worth adventures this year I figured why not include a few from last year?!? 🙂

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This is from when we visited the Fort Worth Stockyards. Such a fun place if you ever get the chance! Next time I go back to Fort Worth I am going to do a travel post about them.

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And a trip wouldn’t have been complete without absurd amounts of sushi.

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Thanks for hanging in there with me through this crazy long post!

I will do a quick holiday post recap once I am back 🙂 DJ and I have are currently waiting for our 6 am flight and have been up since 3 am! EEEK!

Wishing you a very Happy New Year,

xo <3

Mack

Beaches & Pups & Coffee Cups! ☕️

Hey, everyone!

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

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

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

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Puppy kisses are the best

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

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

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

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We stopped in a little classic candy shoppe called Marini’s. It had the classic burger and shake bar and the fudge shoppe on the other side. I love these retro places <3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also… only in California grocery stores….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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One of my friends from Church that reads the blog, brought me this as a gift. GUYS. Best Christmas present EVER. She obviously knows me well- PEETS!!!! Dark Chocolate!!! Peppermint Bark!!! PEEETS!!!! Coffee Mug!!!! PEETS!!!!! The thought behind this touched me beyond words. So thankful for this community, I can’t say it enough. Thanks again, Tammy <3 <3 You’re a real life rockstar!

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

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

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

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

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

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A couple last things to update:

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

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

xo <3

Mack

A Weekend for the Win: A Recap!

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Hello all! I promised my Mama that I would whip out a post by the end of today. She is antsy to hear about all the different events with family in town! This weekend was one to remember. Going through these pictures made me smile the entire time. I am trying to focus… but uh.. the Indians are in the World Series so writing this and watching the game may cause this post to take a bit longer than normal! If you are in a rush and want the summary of our weekend it goes like this: FOOD, amazing family time with my Aunt and Uncle, FOOD, get dressed up, hike, FOOD, and maybe a bit more food?

Let’s get to it!

My Aunt and Uncle visited from Thursday to Monday from Michigan. One of my first posts from when I started this blog was from a visit to their home in Sutton’s Bay/ Traverse City, Michigan area. It was a blast, but now it feels as though too much time has passed since we’ve seen them. We have had this visit planned for months, and I have been counting down the days. It was my motivation to get my test over and done with so we could just celebrate!!!

Thursday

I love, love, LOVE hosting people. It’s an excuse for trying different appetizers, talking and laughing over cheese and crackers, and catching up on each others’ lives over some good wine (aka the cheapest bottles of wine I can find- but no one can tell, right? 😉 ). Last week I saw the beautiful Samantha Wharton posted a Shishito pepper recipe. It looked so delicious! It inspired this appetizer for my the night. First I blistered the peppers in the a sauce pan with olive oil. Then I stuffed about half of the peppers with goat cheese and drizzled them with thick balsamic glaze.  I put them in the oven at 425 until the cheese was nice and melted. They were a hit! The other half we just ate plain with salt and pepper and they were still fantastic.

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For dinner I had Munchery  delivered. I wanted to cook, but I was gone most of the day and wouldn’t have time to do anything beyond the apps. I know my Aunt and Uncle’s taste pretty well and knew they would love this dish. It included a salmon with pesto on top of a mediterranean quinoa. I don’t think I would ever get sick of this dish. I wish I could take credit for it, but props to you Munchery!

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I can’t begin to explain how much I love spending time with my Aunt and Uncle. They are some of the easiest people to be around, they’ll keep you laughing, and you can talk about anything with them. They are go-getters and just beginning “retirement” which means they are traveling all over the US, mountain biking, planning multiple ski trips, volunteering out the wah-zoo, and wearing me out trying to keep up with them. Retirement my butt.

On a more serious note, my Aunt is an “everything” person to me. She is my Aunt (duh), but also one of my best friends, one of my biggest cheerleaders, a mom figure (she is not afraid to put me in my place), and my role model. God blessed me with the greatest mom in the world AND  essentially a second mom with the greatest Aunt?! I can’t figure it out, but I’m betting it’s because He knew that my sister and I would be a handful, and my mom would need some extra strong moral support. Oh, also, she is me projected a few years into the future. DJ says it’s uncanny how much alike we are. Annnd she is the only other person in the world that maybe likes candy corn as much as I do.

Saturday

The four of us had breakfast and then took off for the best hiking spot in all the land. It’s the same one I took my mom and sister-in-law to in other posts: Tony Look Trail! I love the change in scenery along the trail and it’s an excellent challenge. Once we finished the hike it was about 1 pm.

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We ran to the store to pick up some last minute essentials for the gala (Thank you TJ Maxx for having a pair of black earrings). We had a hosh-posh lunch of whatever was in the fridge and I ran around like a mad woman trying to get ready. “Yes I realize that the gala isn’t for five hours, and I will need every second of that five hours, DJ.”

After I bought my dress I realized I got rid of my only pair of dress black heels before our move (and apparently my earrings as I was frantically looking for a pair in TJ’s). I had been meaning to get a new pair and this forced me to finally go through with it. I am posting a picture of them below because A. I got these for a steal and B. I know my mother in law will love them 🙂

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My handsome hubs <3

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💕💕

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The gala took place at Levi Stadium. I have never been there, and it was one gorgeous stadium. OHH- for those of you that haven’t read the last post, the gala is an annual event with our Church to discuss the direction we are going in the upcoming year. It’s also a time to just stop and praise God for all He has done this past year. It quickly became a night that I will never forget. The community and the heart for God is like nothing I have ever experienced. Every time I am with my Church I just thank Him profusely for leading us to this group of people.

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We started the evening with a cocktail hour overlooking the pristine stadium. We then started dinner with a delicious goat cheese salad, a dinner of filet mignon (for DJ) and a veggie polenta for myself, and  finished it with a chocolate mousse and raspberry drizzle that makes you want to savor every. single. bite. By the end of the evening I had cried, laughed, felt refreshed, and beyond excited about the year to come.

Saturday

Saturday my Uncle suggested we tailgate at Stanford while their homecoming game was going on! I have never been and DJ loves going to the campus. First we walked around the academia wonderland, and then we parked the truck for delicious snacking, drinks, and perfect weather.

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My Aunt and I are related to Herbert Hoover (through my Grandmother’s sister side). When we were in the Museum we decided to take a picture next to the fella for a family pic.

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Getting our midwest on. I dare you to find another pickup truck in this parking lot.

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After tailgating we decided to head back home. My Aunt took a nap, I went for a run (my aunt and uncle were early birds and ran before we left for Stanford- overachievers), and the boys parked in front of the TV for some …. you guessed it… football. It was a perfect fall day, and I soaked up the changing of the leaves and the golden fall sun on my run.

You didn’t think you would get through a post without sushi did ya? We had to take my Aunt and Uncle out to Yuki for sushi. They have the best around. My two favorite rolls in the Cupertino area are Yuki’s Da Kine with spicy kani, avocado, cucumber topped with maguro, seaweed salad, crunch, and spicy sauce and Kula’s Kula roll. DJ loves the Tetsu roll from Yuki which has shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, and kani wrapped in avocado and topped with spicy sauce, crunch, and green onion.

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We had our fill but still had room for a glass of wine. My Uncle likes a good scotch and the R/R (Roots and Rye) on Santana Row has almost anything you are craving, food and drink alike.

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This place is quite unique. It has a modern lounge feel with a heavy emphasis on small bites and cocktails.

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We sat around this dancing fire inside the restaurant which provided the perfect temperature and ambiance on a chilly autumn evening.

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I inevitably always have the red eyes.

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We had way too much fun with Snapchat throughout the weekend.

Sunday

Sunday morning DJ and I went to Church and my Aunt and Uncle found a Catholic church for mass. We met back up after and headed to Mountain View. DJ and I went here when we first moved to the area. We walked along Castro street with the endless options of restaurants and naturally ended up going here… because… FOOTBALL.

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We ordered some good bar food (and my Aunt and I may have snuck some salmon and caper bites in the order too). Ever since I had the smoked salmon on a bagel at a San Francisco hotel, if it’s on the menu in any form I begin to salivate.

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After watching football and relaxing we went to the movie The Accountant. It received less than promising reviews by the critics, but we all loved it. It definitely is a movie with a lot going. I don’t typically like watching movies twice, but I would watch this again because there was such a deep, multifaceted plot.

We had a late dinner of rosemary cider chicken and butternut squash with apples from Home Chef. I had the $30 off my first order and ordered the family plan package for the weekend since my Aunt and Uncle were here. I substituted a veggie burger or fish instead of the meat for myself in the dishes. I made the squash before we left for the movie so all we had to do when we returned was prepare the chicken and the sauce.

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Monday

Sadly, they left us Monday 🙁 I was depressed the whole day but kept myself busy with meal prepping, cleaning, laundry, etc. etc.). It was a weekend for the books.

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My conclusion after using home chef: 7 out of 10 stars. The meals were tasty- we especially loved the squash recipe. But I was missing four entire chicken breasts (I had to replace myself), and there were parts of the meals that were just ‘so-so’ like the macaroni salad. However, it’s excellent for people beginning to cook. It gives amazingly thorough directions on why you do certain steps in cooking or why you use certain ingredients. For example, we use Kosher Salt because it has bigger grains and is easier to pinch than table salt. This allows more control over the flavor. I still prefer Blue Apron or Green Chef, but it was certainly a decent service! (I bet the missing chicken was a fluke, right?).

When I was running into the store to pick up some lotion today I saw this (below)- SAY WHAT. I am already obsessed with Boom Chicka Pop, but BOOM CHICKA POP CANDY CORN FLAVORED KETTLE CORN. Obviously I couldn’t wait when I got home to try it. I have a new addiction. I could cry.

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I am planning on finishing the master bedroom this week, do a couple fall-ish activities this weekend with DJ, next week is super busy already, and then I’ll be trying to figure out more on the job front.  DJ says I should rest after the NCLEX, but we all know I have a hard time doing that 😉 Also- I’m in a pickle about what to do in the job arena. My #1 choice nursing job doesn’t begin until March/April, but I’m worried a job now would jeopardize seeing my parents in Texas and Ohio over the holiday season. I know this is going to be my last year of flexibility for a while since once nursing starts I’ll work all the holidays.

Now that I have finished this post the Indians have officially won the first game! 3 more to go, baby. Let’s go CLE! This is just all too exciting to handle!!!!!

Wishing you a WINDIAN Wednesday,

xo <3

Mack

Home Sweet Home. Richfield, OH!

As I have been going back and forth recapping trips from this summer with recent updates, I have been quite excited for this particular recap, although it is a bit out of order! Before our big trip to Maryland and New York we spent a few days at home in Richfield, OH at the end of May. Even though this short trip home was brief it was packed with memories I love to reflect upon. In the evening after a delicious homemade dinner, we all walked on the towpath, which is part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP).

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I wish I could described the views of cascading foliage that enveloped us as we walked along the path. The rainfall was more than usual this year, and while annoying to many people, the greenery did not seem to mind. We kept our eyes peeled for wildlife especially around the Beaver Marsh. Without fail, we saw a turtle and a beaver as well (may have been a muskrat?).

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This park has a special place in my heart. I grew up on it, running and hiking the trails from a young age with my cross country team, family, friends, and many times alone to contemplate on many aspects of life and enjoy the serene outdoors. While physical growth occurred over the years, the true visceral growth was a journey of maturity and endurance. I never realized how much the dirt and muddy paths shaped my perspective and encouraged epiphanies. It was my own form of therapy. I now am taking this love of the CVNP and hopefully will find somewhere like it here, my new home. This is wayyy sappy, but here is a poem I wrote inspired by running in the CVNP.

I am an artist.

I strive for neither glory nor perfection, but to just create. I hear doubts of those around me who think I cannot succeed. I hear the cheers of those who think I can and choose to listen to them.

I am an artist.

I create a skyline filled with dust that swirls and breathes the space I have disrupted. I cause a perfect stillness in the winter frost to swirl in beautiful chaos that leads the way through a winter storm. I sculpt my mind, a perfect struggle as a burn quakes through my legs and my lungs. The morning beckons and I answer understanding that I can create footprints on an unadulterated backdrop before the sun dries the dew.

I am an artist.

I create a melody of dissonance, a beat of my own. The rhythm so insistent and one I cannot decide upon. I get lost in my work, feeling there is no better place but there. I create this art for those around me, and they admire the work, but a passion of an artist causes fullfillment that cannot be explained. I feel I can do anything when I am painting the earth with my pain, struggles, and sweat.

I am an artist who rejoices in the Ultimate Artist.

My art glorifies the one who sculpted me. His art gives my art meaning. I am an artist and I am a runner and creation is my canvas.

In order to symbolize the surrender of our prayers and worries to God, our parents take rocks on their towpath walks and toss them into the river. As the river carries the rock away, out of their hands, it truly allows them to feel a sense of letting go and surrendering that request to God. It is one of the most beautiful, symbolic ways I have ever seen prayer done. We all took turns throwing our hand-picked rocks into the rapids below. We then decided to take them to one of our favorite trails. This is called Oak Hill Trail, one of the CVNP’s most hidden gems. The best part of the trail is the Pineway Alley (pictured at the top). It is one of those places that you just can’t help but stop and marvel at for a few minutes before passing through. There also is a gorgeous lake tucked in the depths of the woods.

Also- if you are interested in understanding the essence of the CVNP there is none who captures it better than Rob Blair. Here is a link to his photography.  Below is one of my favorite samples of his work.

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We ended the evening eating delicious rhubarb crisp (my mother in law is the greatest baker) and prepared for my early morning race! I am a strong believer of eating all the bad-GOOD stuff the night before a race ;). I aways have a great race when I have the carbs from sweets like pies or donuts the night before. Guarantee many people would disagree, but hey- it works for me! Anyways, I decided a few months back that it would be fun to run a half this summer. I have done two fulls and a few halves, but in my last year of nursing school I didn’t train for anything, and I was having the itch to race! I found out the Medina half was going to be the same time we were home. This race was quaint. Can you call a race quaint? Well downtown Medina is so gosh darn quaint, and that is where the start and finish was located. It was not terribly hilly, and I finished with a pretty decent time (1:40:49). My dream is to qualify for the Boston marathon, but I certainly have some work to put in. My favorite part of the race was seeing everyone at the finish and walking around the Farmer’s market.

Later that day our parents treated us to an Orioles vs. Indians game. I felt like such a traitor, but I had on my black to support the O’s. After the game we had a fantastic dinner at fishbone grill.

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Fast forwarding through the Baltimore, NY trip, after the Broadway show we drove through the evening and finally arrived back in Richfield at 5 am. We rested up for the next twenty four hours and then took a flight to our next destination. Stay tuned to find out where our next adventure took us!

Wishing you lots of rhubarb crisp (or your flavor of choice),

xo <3

Mack