Austin, TX!

Happy Thursday! And welcome to a travel post! This is a short & sweet one, as we were in Austin for only about 24 hours. BUT we did our best to make the most of it 🙂

So, as many of you know, DJ is checking out different schools/campuses for grad school (MBA). We decided to give UT Austin an in-person visit since he’d never been, but it’s one of the schools he is considering. On Saturday November 3rd I spent the day packing, tying up loose ends around the house, trying to get as much school work done as possible, cleaning, etc.

Around 4:45 am on November 4th I woke up to run, then around 6:30 am we grabbed an Uber to the airport!

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The only thing that made standing through security and the long lines bearable was the promise of Peet’s at the end. *Big deep sigh of bliss* Nothing like Peet’s and reading about reformed Medicare at 7:30 am.

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I studied majority of the plane trip, so I hardly even remember it. I do know the turbulence was awful, and I don’t do well at all with that. But we still arrived, safe and sound 🙂 The Uber driver was very informative and we learned a ton about Austin on our way just to the hotel. Gosh, everyone is soo dern friendly in TX!

We stayed at The Hampton Inn that was closest to right off campus. It was super convenient, cheap, and easily the nicest Hampton Inn we have ever stayed.

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Highly recommend if you are ever in Austin. Those hotels downtown can be pricy- this one was a real bang for the buck!

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And in light of keeping Austin weird they had an intentionally spray painted wall & a photo booth, lol.

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This was on the inside of the elevator… Austin and I will get along just fine!

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We were greeted by a cute little Armadillo & a coffee maker first step into the room, so we were happy as a couple clams! <3

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After dropping our stuff off at the hotel, we walked across the street to UT Austin to check out the grounds!

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It is a stunning campus!

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After walking around for a while, we realized we were quite hungry (‘magine that!). We went back to the hotel, grabbed some water at their cute little water stand in the lobby, and then changed out of our frumpy travel clothes.

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If you know me, you know before big trips I can spend an absurd amount of time researching restaurants. I came to the conclusion that The Salty Sow was a must!

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It was such a warm little space!

img_1523Luckily we came in time for the tail end of Happy Hour, so we tried a few apps at only $5. *In voice of Dorothy: We aren’t in California anymore*.

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First, we had to try the “duck fat” fries. Not even sure what that means, but goodness gracious, they were crispy, delicious perfection. And how fun that they were served with a fry-d egg!

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Next, we had to try the Brussel Sprouts. These were hands down, the BEST Brussel sprouts we have ever had. DJ isn’t even a huge fan of brussels usually, but he kept saying over and over he couldn’t believe how tasty they were.

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For main entrees, DJ ordered the slow cooked beef shoulder with yukon gold mashed potatoes, glazed root vegetables, and a fried egg. It was served in a literal pan.

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DJ loved it.

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For my main, I had the chef’s veggie antipasto platter. It didn’t give a large description of everything that would be on it, but I’ve never met a veggie I haven’t  liked. The platter was massive! I thought “there is no way I can finish all that!”.. but whaddya know, everything was so delicious I couldn’t leave a scrap.

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We were pretty tired and somewhat disoriented from traveling/time change/daylight savings, so we just went back to the hotel to get a nice night slumber & watch Haunting of Hill House. In the morning of November 5th, DJ met with a student from the school of business while I cranked out a six-miler on the treadmill while reading for school. After…. brekky time! At home I usually have breakfast before working out, but when traveling I usually like to work out first thing and work up a massive appetite before chowing down. It makes all the food taste sooo guuuuud.

Look how pretty this buffet area is!!! I just love a good hotel breakfasts.

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The coffee was soo yummy too.

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I grabbed a chocolate scone, fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, a hard boiled egg, and studied for my research course while fueling up for the day.

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While waiting for DJ to return, I watched some lectures in the hotel room and then somehow dozed back to sleep.

When he came back it was around 11:30/12 and we still had some time before our flight. We decided spur of the moment to squeeze in a few more eats before heading back. First stop: Tumble 22! I actually had a Austin food blogger (AustinEater) reach out with the suggestion.

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They claimed it was the best chicken sandwich ever, and DJ confirmed.

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Right next door was a fun little spot called Ranch 616 that had pescatarian- friendly eats for ya girl, so we decided to swing in.

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The atmosphere was wonderful- nice &  relaxing, buzzing with character!

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First, we had to try their Southern Kitchen Living award winning “best oysters in the South” oysters! I am not a big fan of fried food because often I feel like all you taste is the “fried” flavor and nothing else (plus sometimes thereafter tummy troubles)… but these were jam packed with spectacular flavor. And the aioli they served with it was just the best, creamiest compliment. DJ swore he wasn’t hungry after having that massive sandwich, but after having one bite of these he had his share 😉

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I also tried their shrimp tacos which were Mmmmmm mmmmm mmmmm! My mouth also waters just thinking about the jalapeño onion rings. I may never be able to enjoy standard onion rings the same way again.

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Time to head back to the hotel. Luckily, where we stayed we were able to walk to everything except the airport while we were there. This saved on getting a rental car and also allowed us to see more of the city on foot.

I loved this mural we spotted on the way back!

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The rest of the day was a full travel day with a layover in Denver. It all went pretty smoothly. I just studied the entire time and actually knocked out a decent amount of school work for the week!

Questions for you:

  • Have you been to Austin? If so, do you have any favorite restaurants/ things to do?
  • If you could visit a city for 24 hours where would it be?

xo <3

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All the Cheese Please!!!

Hey everyone! This past week was really solid- just an overall great week. Saturday the 29th, I woke up feeling much better. Still not 100% up to par, but overall better (at least I could move!). It was sooo nice to have DJ home; we just lazed around while I worked on a school project, and DJ worked on apps. The applications are going to be submitted soon- prayers would be greatly appreciated! This decision will affect where we live and just our trajectory in life in general. It’s a biggun’. I never really feel anxious about these “huge” life decisions anymore because God has proven so faithful time and time and time and time again- even things that seem terrifying end up being some of the greatest (and formative) adventures- taking us to people, experiences and places we couldn’t imagine our lives without.

Okay enough sap, time to get to the sub!

I have wanted to try a dutch crunch sammy for a long time… it’s a type of bread that is pretty famous in certain places around the Bay. One of DJ’s favorites is Ike’s! He’s had it several times at work, but I have never tried one before. We had one right down the road and since I wasn’t feeling up for making dinner we decided to head there and knock something off the BL.

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Doesn’t Deej make a cute Ike? Hahah.

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The menu is massive, and they have an abundance of vegan options (so you know I was terribly indecisive).  When we were ordering the cashier asked if I would like sourdough bread, DJ said my eyes got super wide, almost in horror, when I said, “Oh no! Dutch Crunch!”. He said it was the most dramatic bread order ever. He ribbed me about that for quite some time after, haha. Look, I’m serious about my dutch crunch!

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Since I was eager to get home and cozy up in my warm blankets, we decided to take our food back.

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And this is what the lovely dutch crunch looks like!

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I ordered the “Sometimes I’m a Vegetarian” (quite a mouthful, huh) which had grilled mushrooms, marinated artichoke hearts, pesto and vegan provolone.

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It was super yummy- I give the dutch crunch a big ole’ two thumbs up!

DJ ordered his go-to- the Menage a Trois- a popular sandwich here. This has BBQ Sauce, Cheddar, Halal Chicken, Honey Mustard, Pepper Jack, Real Honey, and Swiss.

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In the evening after getting some energy from Ike’s I decided I should try to get some fresh air after being cooped up for a couple days. I went for a short walk around the neighborhood, and saw this Lime scooter. These are everywhere right now. You can use an app on your phone, activate the scooter, ride it anywhere, then just leave it. Welcome to the Silicon Valley!

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In the morning of the 30th, I tried to get up early for church but still wasn’t 100% and we had big plans in the afternoon. DJ said to just sleep a little extra and that sleep made alll the difference. I chugged some vitamin C and echinacea, then got ready for the day. I had a slice of avocado when I woke up then we met back at the apartment around 11.

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Time to represent our home team!! Gooo CLE! DJ’s birthday is this weekend (October 6th), but to celebrate his birthday all he wanted was to go to this game. I gave him the tickets a couple weeks earlier to make sure he didn’t have to work this game day.

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Right before getting to the game at noon(ish), I ate a salad I packed for the road to save on the $15 stadium meals (and since we wanted to get dinner after) & packed a No Cow bar for midday snacking.

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We heeerreeee!

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The energy was just spectacular!!!

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NFL games are such a blast, and we loved every second (despite having a few hot/cold flashes & then witnessing the end when the Browns lost- womp womp). Happy early birthday, Deeeej!

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After the game we were starvin’. Since we were in Oakland, we realized we were close to a place we’ve been wanting to try- a famous mac and cheese spot called Homeroom. What better way to cope with a heartbreaking loss? We put ourselves on the Waitlist on YELP and hungrily headed to the restaurant.

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It’s set up with a school house feel- so cute with many small little touches.

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While DJ was standing in line for the bathroom I couldn’t help but entertain myself.

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And now— for some next level mac and cheese!!!

Like I said, we were hungry— so we ordered three. First, the Gilroy Garlic (with added breadcrumbs). Gilroy is a city near us that is known for their garlic. If you drive through the city you can actually smell the garlic! I couldn’t resist when I saw this on the menu, and it was my favorite of the three (especially after I lathered it with some hot sauce)!

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Next: The Jalapeno Popper! Gosh, this one was great too. This was DJ’s favorite. I loved the spice and flavor combo of this one. It was a close second.

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And last, the vegan mac and cheese. I will say- this is a tasty mac and cheese IF you haven’t tried the other two. It’s delicious in its own right- and definitely tastes like cheese- but it has nothing on the garlic and jalapeno.

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You are what you eat— and I am mac(k) & very cheesy #selfawareness. I know- It’s all a bit much to swallow, but also pretty darn grate. I couldn’t brielieve how delicious this meal was. No way you could feel blue after downing some of this goudaness.

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And for dessert- their large oreo!

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We returned home, did some laundry, and watched Dexter the rest of the evening. It’s getting to be a bit much! Season 6 is too disturbing- if it doesn’t settle down soon, we may need to find something else- I find myself covering my eyes and squirming through so much of the episode. I’m hoping it’s just this case they’re working on, we will see. But we just love our Dex! the struggle..

Anyways, it was just a wonderful day!

On Monday October 1st, I read & ran some then met up with my friend Kim from church at Peet’s in Campbell. This was the prettiest Peet’s I have ever been to!

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The rest of the day was more just study, study, discussion boards, papers, Monday night football, then Dancing with The Stars! (A nice thing about being on the West Coast is DJ’s football usually ends right about when the 8:00 pm shows start!). Fall TV is the bestttt.

Tuesday October 2nd, I had some Ezekiel cinnamon toast with toasted coconut vanilla yogurt, apricot, and chopped walnuts with coffee for breakfast.

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I went on a nice run outside and noticed these neighbors added a tree right in front of the street on Floral Row? I have walked this street a thousand times, and never noticed this— I’m 85% sure it’s new. It’s like the tree has a vase?! Lol.

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This house amazes me with their green thumb- every year they have butternut squash that start popping up.

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And the cute little peaches are appearing all over the place now too.

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I finished up some tough assignments for the week this day, so that felt great.

In the evenings of this week, DJ and I have been having a rotation of grilled cheese and tomato soup, stuffed sweet potatoes, and for me- a massive salad. Unfortunately, he is fighting the cold now too, and mine is lingering just a bit. Needless to say, this meal has been hitting the spot. I make mine vegan his with regular cheddar (I even snuck in some leftover mac and cheese one of the nights which added a fun flavor!) too much cheese? nah. Too many carbs? no such thing.

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Yesterday, the 3rd, we just were in work mode all day. I did make a pit stop to get some groceries at TJ’s and Sprouts.

Questions for you!

  • Favorite mac and cheese? (It can totally be homemade too 😉 ).
  • Have an NFL team you love?

xo <3

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Apparently… I Eat a lot of Green Cuisine!

Hey y’all– time for a little update, whaddya say? On Monday September 17th, I woke up early, looked at my new round of assignments for the week, headed to Peets and did school work with my packed snacks all day long. Obnoxiously large salad for dinner. Dexter in the evening. Same ole’ same ole’.

Tuesday September 18th, I woke up and immediately inhaled a buncha coffee and noshed down on a rice cake with Dannon’s vanilla yogurt, a sliced dried apricot, a couple raisins, and a chopped up walnut. Mmmm!

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I went for a nice run in the morning (I prefer long runs on Tuesdays because it’s when all the new episodes for the podcasts I listen to are released!).

There are so many fruit trees in this neighborhood. I just loved how this apricot tree was cascading over this fence. 🍑

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After making a dent in my schoolwork for the day and downing my massive salad, I decided to get creative with a dinner for DJ. I had tomato sauce, chicken, eggs, cheese, and leftover crackers.

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I crushed up our cracker crumbs to make bread crumbs, basted the chicken in some eggs and then put the cracker crumbs on top. I baked it in the tomato sauce and put cheese on top too. I told DJ I made chicken parm, since that’s what it most resembled. It felt good to use up those cracker crumbs that probably would have gone stale sitting in the pantry otherwise.

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I wasn’t home when he had it because I had already headed to SF to see A Simple Favor with my sister in Law, Amy. I was so excited when he said he loved the dish- it was definitely a shot in the dark without following any recipe.

I enjoyed a beautiful drive into the city. SF never gets old. I love the pastel colored apartments and the character on every street corner.

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The sunset was stunning too with contrast of the clouds. Hard to capture, but I gave it a go!

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I know I mentioned it in my FF post, but A Simple Favor was soo good. It’s a must see. Never have I ever seen anything quite like it.

Wednesday September 19th, I reverted back to my summer go-to of rice cake with avocado toast and hummus. And here we have green food #1.

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I had an interview in the afternoon for a new organization I’ll be volunteering with then made DJ ground turkey tacos for dinner! He’s not sick of the different takes on tacos just yet! Haha.

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I packaged them up so they would be ready for him when he got home.

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Thursday the 20th and Friday the 21st included more just cranking out school work, grabbing fill in groceries from TJ’s, and of course, cranking out more Dexter episodes right before going to sleep. However, we did have a wonderful date night on Friday night. We tried for the first time ….. GEORGIAN FOOD. Yes, food from the country of Georgia!

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This restaurant is called Bevri located in downtown Palo Alto. It has a large menu- although it’s quite a challenge pronouncing anything on it!

Luckily, it has black boards across the restaurant explaining what everything means,  what the menu items are, and how to eat them.

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They also have crayons on each table so you can draw on their paper tablecloths. Unfortunately, when we sat down we didn’t have any crayons. I was so tempted to steal some from another table- but our table was kinda small and we had to have a ton of room for all our food. ha! Anyways, if I had to give an overall definition of Georgian food I would say it is combined Chinese and Mediterranean food.

We started with eggplant rolls. They were pretty good! They are stuffed with a nutty spinach combo. I felt it could use a bit more flavor, but they were still refreshing.

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And the presentation was beautiful!

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I also had to try the khinkali with mushrooms. These are a lot like dumplings- and gosh freakin’ dang- they are delish! I have craved these since I tried them. Green food #2.

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Now for the star of the show- DJ ordered their must try Adjaruli which is a boat shaped bread boat with cheese, butter, and an egg. It’s freaking phenomenal. It’s like pizza… but even better. (Which I didn’t think was possible to say, because pizza is forever one of the greatest things on earth).

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Overall, it was a fantastic meal. The only thing I would say is if you go make sure to order all items to be delivered at the same time. I ordered essentially two appetizers as my full meal, but they were brought over a half an hour before DJ’s food came. My dumplings were a bit cold (but still good) by the time DJ got his food— although he did insist I didn’t wait on him– but I insisted right back that I would be sad when my food was gone and I would have to just watch him eat, so I waited. Anyone else just sad when you finish your food before the other person? Haha.

Saturday September 22nd both DJ and I had a run in the morning, but different lengths. DJ has been running a ton lately too!

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We walked out to the starting point together, but I decided a coffee sounded better than running for the time being. I found my SB cardholder card from 2014 (yes, four years ago) and discovered it still had a $10 balance on it. I decided to make it a goal to use this up before buying anymore Peet’s, even though that’s where my loyalty lies (lays? lie?). He went off on his run and I grabbed a coffee and walked for a couple miles before starting my run.

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It was also the massive garage sale weekend in Cupertino. I had to stop by even though I wasn’t planning on grabbing anything. It was still fun to poke about though! I think I stopped by about 4 garage sales on my walk.

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In the afternoon I was having a hankerin’ for a stuffed sweet potato. I nommed on a purple one with Fage, avocado, morning star vegan crumbles, and Daiya vegan cheese. I’ve been eating this on repeat this past week.

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Sunday September 23rd DJ left for a business trip to Des Moines, Iowa. After dropping him off at 5:30 at the airport, I ran about nine miles, went to church, and then hit up Ozumo again with my friend Tammy for some yummy brunch!

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I was ready to chow down.

First, we ordered jasmine tea to share. I tried to capture mid-pour with portrait.

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But I spilled in the process, lol! Smoooooth.

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Speaking of smooth- this tea was so smooth. I am not a huge tea guy- I really gotta be in the mood. But this was just so satisfying and delicious- it didn’t require any sweetener or anything (I usually will put a touch of sugar or stevia in tea).

We started with the Ozumo roll with salmon, cucumber, jalapeno, mango, yuzu sauce, and micro shiso. Their sushi is the definition of fresh. You cannot go wrong here!

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This was followed by the Ozumo scramble with onions, bell pepper, sweet potato, kale, cauliflower, eggs and micro wasabi. I don’t know how they roasted these stinking veggies, but they were so full of flavor and complimented the eggs perfectly. I also loved the touch of green onion- this is something I’ll have to try to make at home.

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And last, but certainly not least, we had the matcha pancakes with whipped cream, red bean, raspberries and matcha powdered sugar. The red bean was a nice touch!!! Green food #3.

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I dare say they are the best pancakes I’ve ever had. It helps that I’m a matcha freak, but I also love thin pancakes that are nice and crisp. These. were. everything. I need to take DJ back to try them since he is the pancake king after all.

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I cozied up on the couch in the afternoon to get some school work done.

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The rest of the day was just the same- study, snack, dinner, blog a bit and then hit the hay!

Monday September 24th I ran on the treadmill reading a couple chapters for the week.

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I hunkered down to “go to school”, but I was craving some roasted veggies, so I whipped up roasted eggplant to munch on with hummus while watching lectures.

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I kept coming back for more pieces throughout the day and by the end of the day there were none left. Didn’t think it was possible to eat an entire eggplant in one day? I am here to tell you it is! 😂

Another snack I loved that day was a purple sweet potato with Fage and cinnamon. This is one of my favorite snacks in the autumn.

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I’ll recap the rest of the week in my next post since this is getting a bit lengthy 🙂

Oh, and for those that are curious… here is a sound bite of our upstairs neighbors. Listen about seven seconds or so in, and you will start hearing it. We’re still trying to work things out, but all parties are in communication and aware of how frustrating this issue is- so we’ll see in the next few weeks what our solution will be. Management has been attentive and helpful as they can be.

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xo <3

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All we do is Eat, Eat, Eat no matter what!

Got food on our minds, can never get enough!!

Happy Friday!!! I worked my tush off this week so that I would have today to catch up on blogging for a couple hours 🙂 I am sitting at Peet’s so I don’t have to listen to the upstairs banging at home. Usually during Savings September I won’t buy coffees out, but this warrants it for my own sanity. We will go ahead and classify it as a necessity.  DJ and I don’t have too much planned for the weekend besides school stuff (and him applying for grad school), so we are gonna take it nice and easy. I am going way back to recap our Labor Day weekend- I have been sooo excited to finally have a chance to share this fun weekend with y’all.

On Thursday, August 30th, my mom and stepdad, Pete, arrived around noon from Texas! They came for a wedding in Santa Cruz (and we happen to live so close so it all worked out perfectly to spend the weekend together!).We headed to none other than Bill’s Cafe per their request.

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Pete tried their delicious hash brown skillet

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& My mom and I split their Smoked Salmon Benny- probably my favorite item on the menu (Or the French Garden omelette- depends on the mood, ya know?).

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We also split their Belgium waffle. I don’t usually go for waffles for some reason, but this was just fantastic. I would 100% order this again!

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My mom also surprised me with a bunch of Butterscotch See’s Candies lollipops! Eeek, she knows me well. I am like a child, and I LOVE these lollipops. I just love all candy. Sometimes when I go out for walks I take one with me, load up a podcast and am just happy as a clam. Seriously, I am five.

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****Present moment****In an attempt to lick the foam off the side of my cup I just burnt my chin, that’s a first!

**re-re-re winding it back**.. in the afternoon after settling in, chatting at home, and a tour of Main Street Cupertino we decided to go get some happy hour drinks at Eureka.

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We each tried a glass of white wine. We aren’t picky at all, but my mom and I tried two different types of sauvignon blanc, which actually tasted more like chardonnays, so we weren’t the biggest fans. Pete’s Pinot Gris was actually the best of the three! Eureka is more of a beer & cocktail type place, so I think next time I’ll stick with that. **Re-reading the paragraph…. I guess we sound kinda picky haha**.

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Ahhh I just love um’!

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That evening they went to the rehearsal dinner located in Santa Clara for the wedding. Deej had a late game, so I just did school work until they came back home. For dinner I had some leftover butterfly trout, sweet potato, quinoa, mixed greens, and hummus!

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The next day, Friday August 31st, my mom and I woke up early to do hot yoga at 7:15 am together. This was her first time doing hot yoga and she annihilated it! She did so well- I was thoroughly impressed!! After getting ready for the day and us all nomming down my special avocado toast & eggs, they headed to Henry Cowell State park to see the redwoods and spend time on the Boardwalk and Pier in Santa Cruz before the wedding.

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I went for a nice long walk (with my lollipop), chatted with my grandma and Aunt, then hit the books for the day. DJ had another late day, so in the evening I decided to make myself a flatbread pizza with my “Skip the sandwich wrap” and blog up my Friday Favorites post! But whoooopsies- I took a big ole’ bite of the pizza before thinking of getting a picture— what are ya, new?!

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I snuck in a run in the morning of Saturday, September 1st (where is this year going?!). My mom and Pete returned around noon, and I was ready to have some fun since I finished my school work for the week!

First up- 85C Bakery! This is a chain Chinese Bakery that is super popular around here. I’ve never tried anything from it even though I pass it all the time. Part of the reason I haven’t is their baked goods are massive, so I’d want to share them (DJ isn’t a huge baked goods guy besides donuts and cookies), and there are so many options it’s overwhelming for an indecisive like me.  BUT, luckily, there is no one better to try out bakeries with than Pete- he is always down for a baked goods tasting challenge! I was psyched that he wanted to try this place out.

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First, you get a giant tray with a pair of tongs and just go crazy. People LOAD their trays up. I don’t know where they all put it?! Like I’ll see tiny middle and high school girls meet up there all the time and probably get like 10 items each. It’s pretty cheap, but I am genuinely curious how much of it they eat!

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We tried out several items- their sugared cream cheese brioche, a caramel pastry, and an almond danish (I think).. They were all so good, but I think the sugared cream cheese brioche was the tastiest. These all would be sooo great with coffee too. I’ll need to go back soon to grab something in the morning.

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After, we went to Steins to try out some of their tap beers. I just love Steins, and usually they have great sours on tap, my favorite type of beer.

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We tried a variety of beers, and overall they were just ok. But the company was great, and that’s all  that matters!

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Time to go to DJ’s work! This was the main thing my mom and Pete wanted to do while they were here. And boy oh boy was it fun.

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(If it’s not clear from the pictures we are at Municipal Stadium for a San Jose Giants game 😉 )

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She’s so cute

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We tried some delicious grapefruit beer while watching the game.

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Around the seventh inning we became pretty hungry, so we used our vouchers to get some Turkey Mike’s and of course, the famous garlic fries!!! (The garlic fries are 87.8% of the reason why I go to the games).

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We got a lot of food…. Pete had their pulled pork sammy, and my mom and I enjoyed every nibble of their veggie sub! I swear- is there anything better than stadium food?!?! I could live on those sides- they have some yummy baked beans, and I have zero self control with that coleslaw.

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The whole game the Giants were down, but they came back in the bottom of the ninth with a grand slam. I mean, probably the best game of the season, and we were there to witness it! It was SUCH a fun time. In the next post I will recap our time in SF and Napa!

PS. My prayers are with all my classmates, family, and everyone affected by Hurricane Florence 🙁 SO scary. Please stay safe everyone.

Questions for you:

  • Have you ever been to a minor league baseball game? Do you have a team you cheer for?
  • Favorite stadium food item?

xo <3

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Kels & Kenz Take on the Bay: Part 3!

Hey ya!! Welcome to our third Installment of Kels & Kenz Take on the Bay! If you missed the other posts, you can find Part One and Part Two in these links. So far we have only covered 1 entire full day in those two posts, and it truly may take until the end of September to recap it all, haha.

Let’s just jump in shalllz we? After we hopped off the Ferry, Kels and I needed something to wake us up a bit from the lull of the boat. We decided there was no time like the present to grab Peet’s! We both got Half- caff almond milk cafe au laits. Unfortunately, the barista didn’t do a great job with the milk, so it was flat and subpar compared to usual. I was disappointed for Kels that it was her first Peet’s experience, but at least she was able to try it! And the caffeine did the trick!

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We still were a bit chilly walking outside and hungryyyyy! We had dinner reservations at 9:15 pm, so we decided to get a little appetizer (it was about 6 pm at this point). We headed to a BL (bucket list) location- Boudin Bakery! I had never tried their bread, but they are famous for the freshest and greatest sourdough.

On our way we stumbled across a Ben and Jerry’s carnival. I just love how there is always something going on in the city!

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Kels did the truffle toss and won! woot woot!

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We happily munched down our little free ice cream samples (YUM) then continued along Embarcadero to Boudin.

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Finally- made it!!! Check out these fun shapes made from the bread…

img_1964-1img_2040**waiting a half hour to get a seat** This place is poppin’!

And finally finally– time for the famous sourdough bread bowl with clam chowder! It was PHENOMENAL. It was the perfect snack to warm us up after weaving through the thick San Franciscan fog. (aka Karl, someone named our fog. Haha).

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So we were a leeeetle bit nervous when we were eating our sourdough bowl because Kels’ phone was dead, mine had 1% remaining, and our emergency charger broke. We were at least 4 miles from our hotel and were planning on Ubering or Lyfting back…. we both had blisters from walking in our heeled shoes all day and were freezing in our light clothes we worn to wine country. Once we finished up the grub, I called the Lyft with the 1% I had left and we got the pickup JUST in time before my phone died. Thaaaank you, Lord! That would have been a brutal 4 mile walk (it felt like it was in the low 40s by this point).

We arrived to our hotel for the evening! We decided to stay in the city since our reservations were super late and DJ had a late game anyways . Also, we found a reservation at the Sir Francis Drake at a wonderful deal! The hotel was named after the Elizabethan era sea captain and was founded in 1928. It has quite the stunning history- you can read here if interested (or if you may find yourself staying at this historic landmark someday).

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At any time, there is a greeter dressed in the archetypal costume standing out front the hotel.

The lobby was spectacular- a true historical feel, yet also feeling anything but antiquated.

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The room was so fun! It had bright reds, large 16th century inspired paintings, and was clean as can be for being such an “old” hotel. The ONLY issue we had during the stay was the slowness of the elevator. It was crazy slow – like a snail’s pace + molasses. But they did have signs all over asking for our patience while they remodeled/updated their elevators, so we couldn’t be too upset about it.

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We changed super fast after checking in. Check in took about 30 minutes, and by the time we were in the room it was about 8:45 pm. We had literally 15 minutes to change and get out the door to make our rezzy on time. We slapped on some touch up makeup, I used my “cruise” lip color that I haven’t used in a while, and we hit the road!

**middle school mirror pic** haha

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But in order to hit the road… we first had to run down 18 floors to make it to our Lyft ride on time (the elevator was not budging, so we resorted to whipping down the hotel’s staircase hoping he wouldn’t leave without us!).

We found our Lyft ride out of breath and practically sweating. The driver was so kind and understood about the elevator issue. We headed to another BL item for the evening. The ultimate ultimate BL item I have had on my list in bolds and italics (one day soon I will actually share the list here!). I knew Kels would appreciate it too! Drum roll please….. Foreign Cinema. 

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The entrance is easy to miss, it is very tucked away in the shadows in the Mission District, but the minute you step through the doors you are in another world!

This restaurant is not your standard restaurant. It is a restaurant that takes you to Paris, under twinkling lights in the great outdoors. There are heaters to keep you nice and cozy and a foreign film to accompany your meal. It’s like being at a fancy drive in, dressed up, and eating superb nomz.

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We started with their Patio Spritzes. Kels had their strawberry infused lillet blanc & I tried their pamplemousse one. They were delicious- refreshing and light- exactly what we were craving.

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For an appetizer we shared their oysters- the most stupendous oysters of the trip. Every oyster throughout the weekend we tried was wonderful, but these were hands down the absolute best. I keep telling DJ I want to go here again just so he can try these!

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We then split the tuna tartare for our meal. It was magnificent. Bursting flavors. You cannot go wrong here!

img_2047Kels and I are both guilty people-watchers, so we quietly evaluated and tried to figure out the groups and couples around us. Humans are fascinating. It was too fun, and I think we missed our callings as psychologists (or psychopaths).

Time to turn in for the evening after a super fun night!

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In the morning of July 29th, we got up around 8:00 am and then drove back to Cupertino. We had some avocado toast then hit the road to make the 11:30 service for Church!

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I was excited to take Kelsey to our home church, Vive! It’s one of my favorite parts about living here, and I am always stoked when company stays over through a Sunday so we can go together, and I can introduce them to my church fam.

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Afterwards we went to none-other than the most ubiquitously mentioned restaurant on this blog… can ya guess it?

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Tammy met up with us and the three of us ordered all the classics to share. Starting with my fave- the French Garden omelette (with egg whites!). It has goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, mushrooms, and basil! It’s just too good. And their country potatoes are the also the best around (Although Los Gato’s Cafe’s potatoes  do vy for first place).

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Next, we had their tremendous crab cake benedict (although I have found a better one I will be sharing in a few posts 😉 ).

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And perhaps one of my favorite brunch dishes ever… the salmon benedict.

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& A side of their blueberry pancake

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Time to go hiking!!! We drove to the Redwoods in the Big Basin. The drive is treacherous and I was white knuckling the whole way down, but we made it! (if these look familiar it’s because I was here just a couple months ago with Tammy 🙂 ).

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Kelsey had never seen Redwoods before, so this was a must for her trip here!

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It ended up being SWELTERINGLY HOT- in the nineties I believe, but we made it to the top!

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Jus’ hanging around

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We were parched when we returned. This water was liquid gold to us!

Our big simba baby water bottle . *Cue Circle of Life*

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On our way back we pulled off to the side of the road to an overlook and saw the most breathtaking view!

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We headed home, and quickly became aware of how hungry we were!

We decided to knock off a third BL item and go to Palo Alto’s downtown to try sushirrito! (yep- a sushi burrito!).

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These were truly rawesome. We tried Geisha’s Kiss and the Latin Ninja. Holy cannoli guacamole- I am craving another. I need to try their Sumo Crunch wrap soon which is their famous one.

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To end the evening we walked around Main Street Cupertino, made a pit stop into Target for some sweets, and then decided to do dinner number 2!

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And where better than the revolving sushi bar, Kura?! You may remember “Kula” from the beginning of the blog when DJ and I went allll the time, but they recently changed the name to Kura. You can read how it works in this post if you are interested!

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It’s not the highest quality sushi, but it is always a fun experience!!! I loved watching Kels’ expression as the conveyor belt of sushi glided past us. We had our fill then called it a night to get a great night sleep before a big beach day!

Question for you!

  • Favorite brunch dish/ brunch restaurant?

xo <3

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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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Eating our Way Through Portland Part One!

Hey hey heyyyy!!!! Been super MIA last couple weeks because we have been on the go (sandwiched between hospital shifts and trying to find some time for this weird, foreign thing called sleep?!). We decided a few weeks ago to visit Portland to visit one of mine and DJ’s good friends from college. Also, Portland is famously known for their eats, and we were about to fit in as much of this magical grub in as possible.

We left for the airport and first stop always?!?…..

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You knowww it!

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While waiting in the airport I decided to read.

I am trynaa to finish the fourth HP book, but for some reason I’m stuck on it. I have loved reading this series, but lately sooo many books have been vying for attention. I also go through genre stages. I flew through the first three of HP, then I went through a pop culture reading kick , then a “Fine literature kick” and now I’m on this thriller/mystery kick. My goal is to finish the series by the end of the summer!

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Now that DJ is twenty-five, we love to travel by getting an Orbitz package of a flight, rental car, and hotel to save some $$. Plus you get cash back that builds with each trip- it builds quick and is definitely worth it.

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Arrived!! We hopped in our rental car and began the drive to the hotel. The buildings in downtown Portland are eye-catching, there is art all littered all over the building’s walls, and standing art sprinkled throughout the city streets. Jay, our friend we were visiting, actually told us they are required to pay an Arts Tax. They take their creativity seriously and it is evident around every turn!

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We arrived at our hotel for the few days- The Nines! We were told by several people that this is a great hotel to stay in downtown. We usually just stay at whatever the most reasonable rate is, but we decided to try it out since the price wasn’t exorbitantly different comparatively to other downtown hotels & this was our summer vacation. The Nines has both a rooftop restaurant and bar and a regular gorgeous restaurant within it (Pictures to come!).

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Once again, the unique artwork continued as we checked in on the eighth floor.

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This is just what you imagine when you hear the word, “boutique hotel”. It is lined with turquoise walls, vibrant patterns, and cutesy touches.

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I’m huge on lighting (I truly think it can determine your mood), and this lighting was perfect. It was so warm, inviting, and calming.

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So fun!

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After settling in and shaking off the travel cob-webs, we went to Toro Bravo, a modern tapas destination in an area of gentrification in Portland.

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I made a list of restaurants and food trucks we really wanted to visit while we were there and this was right at the top. I love tapas style because you can try so many different flavors at one place. We did have a big dinner planned after, so we didn’t go too crazy (but I’d love to go back and try way more dishes one day!).

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They brought out a tasty lil complimentary bowl of corn nuts that were gone in no time… seriously where can we buy these just to have around the house?! I know I said we didn’t go nuts… but we went NUTS for these corn nuts. They were SO doggone scrumptious.

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Jay met up with us for the first time (wooohooo!). We had some light drinks and caught up excitedly on each other’s lives.

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The squid ink pasta with hazelnuts, anchovy syrup, and egg yolk was one of the big draws for this spot. I had squid ink pasta one time at La Mar in San Francisco, and to this day I maintain it was one of the greatest dishes I have ever tried. I wanted DJ and Jay to experience this magic. This dish was good, but it was certainly not on the level of La Mar’s.

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The star of this show was the oxtail croquettes with chili mayo. I’m not even sure exactly what this is made of, but I know it was darn delicious. If you go here these are a must! We actually were standing next to a couple in the elevator of our hotel talking about Toro Bravo, and I couldn’t help myself from popping into their convo and insisting that they try these gems.

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The boys also enjoyed the Moorish Lamb Chops a la Plancha with warm potato chorizo salad. I did sample a potato and it was potatoey perfection.

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We still had some time to kill before dinner, so Jay took us to one of his favorite local spots to hangout- Victoria!

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I love hanging with locals when we travel because they always know the greatest spots! This little dive is tucked away on a back street and wasn’t ridiculously crowded. Look how pretty this bar is with the warm lighting?

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I tried an aperol spritz.. I heard of this wine based drink mixed with soda water recently and it sounded so refreshing- it was yummy, light, and zesty. A perfect apertif!

Time for dinner!!! And oh, what a dinner it was. The rest of the night we declared our date night. We don’t have date nights in the summer often because of our competing schedules, but grab them while we can.

While researching vegan/vegetarian options (Portland is the land of plenty), this dinner came up. You have to make reservations because they only seat about fifteen people per dinner. This restaurant was unique to anything we have ever experienced. Everything they serve is from regional Farmer’s and entirely vegan.

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All patrons are seated at a long counter with a medley of Mumford & Sons-esque music playing in the background, mason jars galore, and fresh plants placed thoughtfully throughout. Quintessential Portland, right?

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Each seat has a name-tag as you come in so it’s easy to find where you should sit without playing musical chairs.

img_4464DJ and I scanned it over and after taking in the conglomerate of different fruits, spices, and flowers (yes flowers) I looked at DJ and said, “I have no idea what any of this will taste like”.

Luckily- every single thing was everything you could dream of and more. Wowza. We were blown away. I won’t bore you with the details, but the way I would describe every dish was fresh, vibrant with flavor, and dimensional. The servings were small, but with so many courses (and our Toro Bravo eats), we were very satisfied by the end. They made each dish in front of us, with the utmost meticulous attention (they used actual tweezers!).

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The vegan extravaganza began with some local seed bread with honey mustard. I’ll label each item that came next!

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Black bean fritter (our favorite on this dish) with first press canola, fermented rhubarb and spruce, and Kohlrabi parcel & yeast sauce

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Purple asparagus, fermented sunflower, and basil cream 

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Pickled sun choke with leek scape

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Cauliflower soup & Oregon Murtle

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Adirondack potato with wild watercress and herb juice

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Zucchini, romesco, and puffed quinoa

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Blue Oyster mushroom, wild garlic, and chives (and flowers!)

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Portobello, young carrot, snow peas, and savory sauce

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Kefir Refresher 

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Vegan flower water and candies

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Strawberry spruce yogurt and wild flowers

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Sprouted Dakota Black Peppercorn, rhubarb, and hazelnut milk (this was my favorite “sweet”!).

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And they even gave us a complimentary breakfast loaf to remember them the next day. How cute!

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It was some of the most savory bread I’ve ever tasted! It was so hearty & had cranberries sprinkled throughout that provided a nice sweet kick with each bite.

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Oh, and the views at night were stunning!

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In the morning, I woke up at 5:30 am and snuck in a nine mile run while watching the new season of 13 Reasons Why. This season is even harder to watch than the first. Anyone else watching? Thoughts? Anyway, I grabbed some fresh strawberries and cucumber water before heading back to the room to get ready for the day.

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After we headed to Pine State Biscuits for a breakfast of a lifetime. When people have asked where to go since we came back our first place is HERE. You MUST, and I mean MUST stop at Pine State Biscuits if you visit Portland.

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From the moment you step in, you are overwhelmed by smells of cinnamon mixed with coffee. By the time I ordered I was practically drooling.

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Jay met up with us and we all ordered at the counter.  We grabbed our coffee then found a comfortable spot in the outside patio with heaters blazing down to keep us warm during the early morning chill (it was about 7:30 at this point!).

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I had the vegan veggie reggie- Vegan sausage patty, tofu bacon and cheese topped with shitake mushroom gravy! Oh. MY. GOOOODNESSSS. One of the greatest creations of all time. I crave this.

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The boys both had the Reggie Deluxe (deluxe includes an egg).

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And we all shared the greatest cinnamon roll of all time. All parties agreed- one of the best flavors of the week. This cinnamon roll had a bourbon caramel glaze sauce.

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A truly unforgettable breakfast. In Part Two we head to Multnomah Falls & many other unforgettable eats were had. And a huge highlight- I had the privilege of meeting another blogger (eeek!!).. stay tuned.

And thank you to all those who have served, are serving, and family and friends who have and have had loved ones in the service. Today we acknowledge and remember your sacrifice and dedication to our country, and remember those who bravely lost their lives for our freedom. <3

xo <3

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New Orleans, LA!

Hey Friends & Fam! How is everyone doing?! I am psyched about this post. Just writing the name of this travel location makes me giddy- New Orleans has been on my bucket list for ages, and to have actually step foot there is still hard for me to believe!

Lemme back up in how this all happened… One of my best friends back in Ohio, Rachel, and I planned a pretty spontaneous cruise to Mexico. You may remember Rach from here or here!

This all came about when I decided to try to use some vacation time since I have hit my one year mark (we are allotted one vacation per year). DJ won’t be able to do a full vacation until probably this winter, so I figured even if I didn’t do anything or go anywhere I could at least have two weeks without work, right?! Well when I told Rach my dates, she coincidentally had this time off too as her last week of recovery from a knee surgery. It could not have worked out more perfectly! Even though Rach was still on her crutches she was a TROOPER. She did not miss a beat, and didn’t let them stop her. We agreed it would be nothing but reading in the sun and relaxation (I mean you’re either healing up at home or lounging on a boat- so why not choose the one with more sun?!).

DJ had to work on Easter & this is a super busy time of year for him, so he encouraged me to go and soak up this time. (No worries, I ordered him Freshly so he didn’t starve 😉 ).

Anyways, we decided on a Carnival cruise that went out of New Orleans on Saturday the 31st of March!

We planned & planned, packed & packed, and then met early on March 30th in in NOLA to get the vacay started! That morning, I woke up at about 3:45 riddled with adrenaline and couldn’t fall back asleep before my 8:45 am flight. I decided to go for a run. Once at the airport I grabbed Peet’s (duuuuuh) and ate a protein bar while I waited.

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Time for the flight! I binge listened to the podcast “Unexplained” while I dozed on and off.

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And before I knew it I had arrived in NOLA! My Lyft driver from the airport was sweet and knowledgeable. I noticed that everyone was authentically kind & helpful. It appears Southern Hospitality is still going strong! She drove me past a couple old cemeteries (their mausoleums are HUGE) and through the French Quarters as I snapped shots along the way.

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When I walked into The Sheraton on Canal Street (where we were staying that evening) I was greeted by lively music in the lobby & people bustling around in the most cheerful manner. It felt as though I had stepped right into a party. I grabbed some of the complimentary cucumber water and waited to check into my room. Once taking the old fashioned elevators up to the twelfth floor, I was finally in a NOLA hotel room. I had to pinch myself. I am in New Orleans. For years I have wanted to go to New Orleans for the culture, history, boss beignets and shrimp & grits. I couldn’t believe I was actually there.

I looked down after opening the shutter windows to a view that was both fantastic, although could probably  be terrifying for someone afraid of heights (hence the shutters). I highly recommend staying in this hotel. We were able to get a night stay for a reasonable price and it’s conveniently located to everything you could want to see in New Orleans!

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I changed out of my grubby travel wear & freshened up after the long flight. Time to Explore! (Rach’s flight still wouldn’t touch down for a bit).

I decided to make the first stop Garden District!

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I adored the local architecture with balconies lining the alternately pastel pigmented shops and homes.

img_2141img_2142These houses! I just love the wrought iron and hanging baskets at every turn.

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I perused the shops on Magazine street. I was fascinated by the mix of mysticism, antique shops, and enticing bakeries that lined the way.

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NOLA, you are bizarre, I’ve gotta say! But a fun bizarre…..and I guess at times just a bizarre bizarre! 😉img_2149

Around 7:00 pm, Rach texted me saying she was at the hotel! It was perfect timing. Since it was getting dark I didn’t want to spend much more time alone in the Garden District. I went back to the hotel and wanted to cry when I actually saw Rach standing there in front of me! It had been 18 months since I’ve been with my best friend y’all. TOOOO LOOONG.

We got ready & organized our room while having totally non-linear conversations (because after a day of travel you have stories to share about the characters you met along the way and also have been storing up “oh I need to tell her when I see her” stories).

We then hit the town! We stepped out greeted by a beautiful sunset.

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We walked around the French Quarter, taking in wafting scents of cooking Creole cuisine, the fascinating people & costumes, a sundry of shops (including Halloween shops in March- what… well I guess explains the costumes?!).

Of course, we had to see the famed St. Louis Cathedral. It was interesting… there were religious groups preaching next to psychics with their crystal balls adjacent to street performers. Probably more entertainment right here than anywhere in the quarter!

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We kept walking on to Bourbon street! It wasn’t as rowdy as I expected, but it was certainly crowded. I was somewhat concerned about safety after doing a ton of research. We were extra cautious, but overall, I felt extremely safe in the main high traffic areas. The Uber driver back from the Garden District drilled into us not to go into any weird side alleys or anything that looked remotely sketchy.

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Do Pirates count as sketchy?

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We jumped into a Lyft to go to Arnaud’s!

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This restaurant was promised to be one of the most authentic New Orleans restaurants.

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I stepped in and immediately thought, Yep, this is the Big Easy!. The red and white stripes, jazz band playing the background, and elegant old fashioned decor met every NOLA expectation.

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Arnaud’s has a deep history like everything in the city. We loved the ambiance, the friendliness of everyone, and the live band made us relaxed and at ease immediately.

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I started with a dirty martini that seemed to fit the scene. It was one of the best I’ve had- not too strong and not too salty!

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Rach tried one of their specialty drinks- The Contessa! It was sooo goood!

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So, debate here- is turtle part of a pescatarian diet? I don’t know! Haha, but I had to try the turtle soup which is a staple of New Orleans cuisine. It was just okay to me, but if you are a chili lover & a meat eater, you would love it… even though this photo probably does the opposite of making it look appetizing, ha!

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Since Rachel arrived I hadn’t stopped talking about shrimp & grits (particularly the dish I had seen at Pat O Brien’s, our next stop). We decided to go light here for dinner so Rach and I split the amazing pompano duarte with sauteed fillet topped with gulf shrimp & tomatoes, seasoned with garlic, fresh herbs & chili peppers. Yum! It was delish- but I will say, my baby SF does have some fish dishes that could rival this.

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We then we weaved through the quarters to the next spot- Pat O Brien’s!—recommended by Rachel’s cousin. My grandma also said this is one of her favorite places in New Orleans to go, especially around St. Paddy’s day.

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The courtyard is the prototypical scene for some R & R on a Friday night in NOLA. There were laid back tunes playing and multi colored lights exuding festive vibes. They immediately welcome each guest with Pat O’s mardi gras beads- the only mardi gras beads either of us would be heading home with,  lol!

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We were told we had to try their Hurricanes, considered one of the staple drinks in the quarters. I had looked up Pat O’s before hand, so I knew they were massive! I told Rach there was no way I was able to even finish half of one and asked if she wanted to split. She said, “It’s one drink, how big can they be?!!”. We both ordered one and as they set them down she looked at me with the widest eyes. Needless to say, we barely put a dent in them, but the few sips we had were delicious!

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And *cue dramatic music*…. the ultimate reason I wanted to go to Pat O’s….. their shrimp and grits!!!!

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It lived up to the hype and the weeks of yearning for the ultimate shrimp & grits experience. Ugh, I can nearly taste them looking back at this picture. If I had to make a suggestion- I would say skip the fine dining and just go straight to Pat O’s.

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We jumped into a little unassuming place next to Pat O’s playing some good ole’ upbeat 90s tunes. We danced for a bit before heading back to the hotel!

We went to bed at a decent hour to get sleep for the next day. The morning of March 31st I woke up bright and early and hit the gym. I considered running outside, but since I’m not always positive where to run and which roads are safe, I just played it safe and ran in the Sheraton gym. I squeezed in about 8 miles, then was ready for some breakfast!

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I decided to walk to the Riverwalk on the GORGEOUS morning and grab some beignets and coffee from Cafe Du Monde for me & Rach (they are famous for their beignets!).

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I even spotted our Cruise Ship on the way!!

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We weren’t the biggest fans of them, sadly… I think the ones I had in Fort Worth were better. They are basically like donuts in flavor and have soft interior/crispier exteriors. I will say their coffee was PHENOMENAL. I would easily go there every day just for a cup of jo’.

After getting ready for the day, we decided to grab some grub at their famous Brunch spot, Atchafalaya! We weren’t able to make reservations, but the wait wasn’t as bad as we expected- only about 45 minutes!

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Atchafalaya is in the Garden District, so we were able to see cute little homes while we waited.

img_2189img_2226img_2225I just adore her yellow hat, can you picture any better outfit for brunching on a Saturday in the South?!

They have a fun little frying pan you can actually sit in too, how creative!

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One of their reasons their brunch is so popular is their epic make your own Bloody Mary bar. I have never made my own bloody, so Rachel helped me big time. I accidentally poured the tabasco instead of letting drips in, so it was spicy spicy, but in my opinion, the spicier the better!

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Rach had their refreshing grapefruit mimosa!

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We weren’t starving, and had no place to store leftovers, so we decided to go pretty easy on brunch. Rach tried their AWESOME potatoes and fruit, and I had their butternut squash salad with a side of poached eggs. It all hit the spot and dat cheese (triple cream) was some of the greatest cheese I have ever tried!!! It was tremendous.

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The rest of the trip may require about three more posts. Next time we go to NOLA, we’d like to do a cemetery tour & see Frenchmen street. If you are planning a trip, we were told NOW is the time to go. The weather was just perfect, and it doesn’t have the crazy traffic of their holidays seasons. Have you ever been to New Orleans?! Have any favorite restaurants/spots/memories to share? Stay tuned for some cruisin’, sunshine, & Cozumel!

xo <3

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San Fran & San Jose in 23 hours? You betchya!

Hey guys! I am SO stoked to share this post with you all! My dear friend from college came to visit all the way from ninder nanders (nickname DJ and I use for Indiana). Man, oh man, I missed this girl. We haven’t seen each other since graduation last year. That’s just too much time I do say.  On Monday I worked all day, and after the relief of knowing I was in the clear, I cleaned out my closet and went through clothes to give to good will/ take to Plato’s. Love me some cash for clothes, ya feel? I found some shirts that I was deciding if I wanted to give away, but actually ended up liking them now and kept them after not trying them on for years.

Sarah arrived at about 1230 at Tuesday at the San Jose airport right down the road! We headed to SF to explore the city. I felt so bad because this was Sarah’s first time here, and we could not see the doggone Golden Gate. I have never seen such dense fog before! It was crazy, but still somberly beautiful.

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She’s so flipping cute I can’t even take it. COME BACK, SAR!

After popping over to the non-existent Golden Gate, we went to the loyal, fog-resistant Ghirardelli square. Chocolate will never let you down.

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We grabbed the free samples of the pumpkin spice milk chocolate (uhm, yum) and then explored. The inside of the Ghirardelli shop is so neat- it has a very 50s/60s-esque vibe, and you can actually watch the chocolate churning which fulfills my childhood Charlie-and-The-Chocolate factory dreams.

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They are known for their massive, and delicious, sundaes, but it was a wee bit chilly out for us to grab one. If you want to see pictures of the sundaes in all their glory, you can check out our experience here!

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BUT what can warm ya up better than a nice glass of wine? There is a cute little winery, Wattle Creek Winery, in Ghirardelli square that I’ve actually wanted to try for some time now. I was excited when Sarah suggest we stop for some- told yaaaaa- we twins.

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It’s super unique and has eclectic vibes. It has a mish-mash of decor and colors that could easily come off as tacky, but somehow the way it all pulls together it is nothing but modern class.

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This is a picture below of their wattle leaf, learn something new everyday!

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After hanging out in the square, we headed down to the pier.

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Naturally, I had to show Sar Fisherman’s Wharf and the famous sea lions.

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They were being super lazy for us. Prolly grieving the fact that the Golden Gate up and vanished like the rest of us.

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We caught glimpses of Alcatraz and then headed down the pier to the shops. If you know me, you know I have a weird love for sock shops.

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We finished the walk down to the Ferry building and then turned around to walk back while soaking in the views along the Embarcadero.

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We were pretty ravenous after all the walking and decided to try Crab House on the pier. I have never been here before, but the bibs drew us in (you’ll see what I mean ;)).

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The crab house can be described in one word: FUN. It is decked out in themed crabs everywhere you turn, the staff is incredibly friendly, the views of the bay were fantastic, and the food. OH. THE. FOOOOOD!

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We decided to split a few different items from the menu to get a varied taste of everything. This calamari was the bomb, it was the definition of flavorful and perfectly crispy. 🤤

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We also tried their crab chowder. We chowed down like we were from out of town. It was insanely delish.😋

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And, of course, we couldn’t pass up their iron roasted mussels and shrimps. Holy maloly. The word tasty has a new definition for me after these little suckers.

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THE BIBS! Now do you understand why we had to come here?

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We actually survived the whole meal without getting anything on them (I can’t believe it either), and ended up taking some bibs for the road. What didn’t we take with us? Oh, the food, because we demolished every last lick.

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Walking back to the car we were unable to escape the mouth-watering scent of baking bread wafting from the Boudin bakery. As we passed the window we noticed an alligator made of pieces of bread.

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When we came home we chatted on the balcony sippin’ on wine and eating some ice cream.

In the morning we went to (if you are a long time follower you can probably guess)- Bill’s!!!!!! The actual best breakfast place in the whole world.

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We split one of their mimosas (it’s pretty essential for a brunch at Bill’s).

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Sarah had their cinnamon roll french toast. Oh. my. word. It was insanely good. Like there are actually no words to describe the deliciousness that is their cinnamon roll french toast.

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I usually get their Greek omelette, but this time I had their Salmon Benedict with a bagel, capers, onions, smoked salmon, and poached eggs. It hit the spot. I think I muffled out a “mmmm mm” with every bite. It’s easily the best salmon benedict I have ever had.

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And, of course, I had to show Sar around the Row after!

At about 1215 I dropped her off at the airport. It was a hard goodbye, but I was tremendously thankful for the short time we had together. It meant so much that she made the time to come see me & the Bay!

This morning (Thursday morning) I stopped by Peet’s to grab a cafe au lait before my residency class. It was super nice to see everyone from my cohort, and also nice to have a class day vs. in hospital day.

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Hope you all have a beautiful weekend! I will be working all weekend long, but living vicariously through you!

xo <3

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