Bowling, Buns, & Boba Fun!

Heyy yaaa heyyyyy yaaa! (anyone set it to the tune I did?). I have a short, teeny tiny recap to wrap up loose ends before taking off for MI tomorrow. My type A angel (or devil) on my shoulder would be severely bothered with smushing (apparently smushing isn’t a word?) this recap in with my Michigan one a week from now… soooo here. we. goooo!

^^ Was that not the most scattered, rambling intro you ever did see?

On Saturday the 14th, I attended the big bowling bash of the year for DJ’s work. It was such a great time, and a fun way to get to know his coworkers a bit better too!

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Deej and I shared a lane and alternated turns. We did horribly the first round, but didn’t do too bad the second. Guess it was the practice we had earlier in the week?! (nah, for me it was just dumb luck, lol). (We are “D” on the screen).

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Once we finally came home around 11:30 pm, we binged The Staircase and were up wayyy past each of our bedtimes.

On Sunday the 15th, I went to Church while DJ unfortunately had to go to work bright and early. After Church I met my friend, Tammy, downtown in San Jose for some vegan eats!

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I grow more and more fond of downtown San Jose every time I visit!

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I actually discovered this place through a fellow San Francisco blogger! I saw the Buddha bun in her post and couldn’t get it out of my head.

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This place is in an obscure spot in downtown, pretty easy to miss, but one you won’t want to! The inside decor is alll about that hippie life with earthly tones, calm music, and overall a general ode to nature.

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The moment of truth finally fell upon us… *pause for dramatic effect*. This magic bun cost less than $4 which is a STEAL in these parts. It’s pretty big too (there is a picture later on for reference). It is a rice flour bun (Bao) stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, tofu, cabbage, jicama, peas, and carrots. Served with a house sweet savory sauce.

img_7949In enthusiastic Kate mode I feel like there is only one way to express my excitement over this bun….

Guys!

Guys!!!

Guys!!!!!!

This is one of my FAVORITE morsels of food I have tried since moving to the Bay Area. Since EVER. Not sure what they use in this “house” sauce, but I would sell a kidney for the recipe. I told Tammy I want this for my birthday, and she joked they would just put a candle in it (My hopes are officially up 😉 ).

I have never had bao before then, and I loved it. I’ve never tried Dim Sum, but I have a feeling it would be a new favorite thing! *Cue Whole New World*

I also tried the sampler platter with Thai yellow curry, Jamaican jerk “chicken” and spicy basil tofu with quinoa. I brought back leftovers for DJ and he loved them too.

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Tam had their jackfruit pulled “pork” tacos, and let me try a nibble. They were phenomenal. I might get these next time!!

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We also split a local cider (with a fascinating history) & a rose lemonade.

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The rose lemonade was the definition of refreshing. And the cider was the greatest ale/cider/beer equivalent I have ever tasted. I want to take DJ back just to try this!

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We finished the whole smorgasbord with a piece of delicious vegan pumpkin pie over a chocolate crust.

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When I say I can’t stop thinking about this meal… I seriously cannot stop thinking about this meal! Winner winner chicken vegan dinner.

Next, Tammy noticed Tea Alley was across the street which is a place in SJ that sells boba in lightbulbs (leave it to the Bay Area to channel our inner Thomas Jefferson).

Tam made me laugh when she looked them up and exclaimed, “I just really want to drink out of a lightbulb!”. #overheardinSanJose

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It was a neat little place with super cute decor!

The moment of truth….

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It was adorable, but unfortunately luke warm- liiiiiike WHO DRINKS BOBA LUKE WARM?! Fun experience, and tam got her lightbulb. Lol. <3

This week has been more communicating with grad school trying to make sure all my classes are going to be scheduled okay, tons of cleaning, working on a present for my Grandpa’s birthday, laundry, and food prep since I’ll be gone! Per DJ’s request I whipped up the bison tacos again.

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I have one chapter of Harry Potter left- are y’all proud?! One more to gooo!

Any big weekend plans coming up?!

xo <3

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Crazy Wildfires & DJ’s Birthday Celebrations!

Happy Thursday, ya’ll (well, Thursday by the time anyone reads this- although it is currently Wednesday evening)! How’s it kickin’?

We said goodbye to one of my favorite charge nurses last week; I was super sad to see her go 🙁 (This send off banner was too funny not to share though!)

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DJ’s birthday was October 6th!!! I can’t believe I am just shooting this post up now. Sheesh! Anywho, we had a gift card to Open Table that was put to phenomenal use at the local Forbes Mill in Los Gatos!

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This sweet man.. I would usually not pull my phone out at places this nice to snap food pics, but he convinced me that it was just us two and it wasn’t a big deal…. I obliged pretty easily 😉

We started with the giant prawn cocktail. There is nothing better than a fresh shrimp/prawn appetizer. It’s easily our go-to!

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We also tried their crab cakes! They were tasty, no denying it…yet a far cry from the cakes we had in Baltimore.

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I also had their generously sized beets and macadamia crusted goat cheese salad. It was one of the best I have ever had,  and it’s so simple to throw together! I definitely will be recreating this at home.

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DJ tried the ULTIMATE surf and turf with a combo of waygu and lobster tail. I sampled the waygu because it’s supposed to be the highest quality of meat, and I couldn’t let the opportunity pass….. butttt I had an aversion to the flavor. After not eating meat for about four years it didn’t do anything for me.

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We also dabbled in a side of creamed spinach.. if it’s on the menu you know we are jumping on it! We absolutely loved it. I still think the creamed spinach from Ben and Jack’s in New York is the best of all time, but this is not far behind.

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And I couldn’t pass up the epic, rave-worthy, award-winning scallops….. I think the only ones that contest are Farallon’s in San Francisco. Gosh, just the thought is making my mouth water all over the darn laptop. They were served over forbidden rice- a new obsession of mine officially. Has anyone had this magical grain?! It’s ah-may-zin!

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I could go on for days and days about how amazing DJ is. He is a man of God, handsome, humble, hilarious, loyal as they come, my rock, courageous, intelligent, witty, intuitive, hard working, dedicated, and genuine. Those qualities just scratch the surface. I don’t know why God blessed me with such an incredible man, but I won’t argue with His provision 😉

The days are all kind of blurring together from the rest of the last few weeks. I do want to share of my favorite snap shots from random runs and of course, even more random pics of all the foooooodddd we’ve been scarfin’!

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The fall blooms are just as gorgeous as the spring blooms!!! Even though we don’t have the leaves change like back in the good ol’ midwest, we still have the beautiful array of flowers to admire in this season.

Unfortunately, my autumn runs had to come to a quick halt when the wildfires started last week. It smelled pungent with smoke in the hospital (which is closer to the fires than our apartment is), and then eventually the air around our home was saturated with the unescapable burning scent. In the morning when we woke up our eyes itched, our throats scratched.. it was surreal. We just keep praying for everyone affected by these horrible fires. I truly hope the madness stops soon and mother earth cools her jets.

If you would like to help, please visit this link with multiple options you can contribute!

Back to the random food mess… I’m still on the egg kick for suure. (I put some of the leftover creamed spinach on a piece of toast and then the egg on top, good heavens).

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I also have been CRAVING a Whole Foods trip. Since they have always been ugly pricey, I usually only go every once in a while. However, now that they are bought by Amazon their prices have gone down tremendously!

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Using many of the ingredients from whole foods, I made a fall salad that I’m ridiculously obsessed now. I was inspired by Stein’s Beer Garden’s salad. It contains jicama, roasted butternut squash, quinoa, light craisins, and I use a homemade apple cider vinaigrette (with some apple cider, a touch of oil, and a touch of sugar).

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I think ya’ll get the point. Haha.

Another thing I, and the rest of everyone, has been loving is spaghetti squash! Ugh, it is SO good. I have been mixing it with vegan butter, vegan meatless crumbles, and a touch of parmesan on top. So easy, so scrumptious. I know many of you out there have tremendous recipes for the spag-squa, please share em’ with me!

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And I’ve been whipping up a lot of capreses for DJ. This is one of his favorite snacks and the heirloom tomatoes were on sale at Whole fuuds and, oh man, were they ever fresh!

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I’ve been decompressing from the studying with lots and lots of running. I have been mixing in Insanity workouts, but as soon as the smoke settled and the air cleared I booked it back outside.

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I’ll just slide in another picture of morning toast with dried apricots, chia seeds, oats, high protein plain greek yogurt, and stevia.

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Something else I’ve been devouring lately is smoked salmon on pita with caramelized onions and a fried or poached egg. This has been hitting the spot and has been a great high protein/healthy “comfort food” during this super stressful time.

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I took my GRE yesterday …

I crammed for about two and a half weeks in my time off work for the exam, and just didn’t score as well as I would have liked on the quantitative. Algebra and me do not exactly tango in the moonlight. Ask me to tell you the symptoms of Moya Moya or the proper medication to treat tuberculosis..we can chat. But I don’ t have the faintest idea what in the Westeros math has to do with it. It’s not even real math. Like I get 1+1=2… or me +math= disaster….. but I will be the first to admit I do not know how to solve “If Tommy had five oranges and Shelly had 12 and 2 were taken away and thrown at a cactus, why is the square root of the Eiffel tower a bag of potatoes?!”

*Deep breaths, deep breaths*

*It’s not about the problem, it’s about the procccessss*

I get that people study for a looong time for this, but only one of the schools I’m applying to out of five require it. I just don’t think it’s worth it to slave over the study material when majority of MSN-FNP admissions don’t require it, and the app deadline for the one that does is November 1st. (Which is actually great because then I don’t even have the option to retake it for now). Now I’m rambling. *clearing throat*. Oh well, que sera sera.

HOW ARE YOU?!?  I am jumping off the crazy train now, and heading to bed before an early morning wake up call. Muah!

Blog Birthdays:

Cassie at Cassie’s Cookery on October 17th. Sweet girl, Happy birthday. You have changed my life more than you know, and you inspire me every single day. I am SO beyond thankful for ya, sweet thang. You are strong, loyal, empathetic, lovely, beautiful, and full of God’s grace and goodness. You exude His love more than most I know. Our conversations are always close to my heart, and I love you to absolute pieces, sista! <3 I hope your birthday was beyond perfect and you know what a treasure and gift you are to this earth.

PS. Cassie has an amazing cookbook out! If you wanna check it out go HERE. I know I am getting my copy ASAP! 🙂

xo <3

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Cranberry & Pistachio & Quinoa Stuffed Squash

Mouth watering yet?! I’m excited to share the ultimate healthy comfort-food dish for the holidays with you!! And if you have vegetarians or vegans coming to your holiday party, I’ve got you covered! Although, this is a crowd pleaser regardless of diet preference. Plus, it’s pretty darn nice to look at 😉 The savory sweetness of the squash, the crunch of the quinoa and pistachios, and tartness of the cranberries create a combination to die for.

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Grocery List

  • 4 Acorn Squash
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry Red Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup dry White Quinoa
  • 2 Cups of Vegetable Broth
  • 2 TBSP Sage
  • 1 TBSP Thyme
  • 1 8 oz. mixed package of Baby Bella & Crimini mushrooms (coarsely chopped)
  • 1/2 package (about 1 cup) of LightLife Smart Ground original crumbles (or vegan crumble of choice)
  • 2 TBSP Sherry Cooking Wine
  • 3/4 Cup Reduced Sugar Dried Craisins
  • 1/2 Cup Pistachios (deshelled)
  • Fresh Cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Trim off the each end of the squash
  3. Stand the squash upright and halve lengthwise
  4. Scoop out the pulp and the seeds, discard
  5. Brush each squash half with 1 tsp olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper
  6. Arrange cut sides down on a parchment paper covered baking sheet
  7. Roast the squash until tender (test with a fork) and the edges are golden brown, appx. 30-35 minutes
  8. While the squash roasts, in a medium saucepan add Quinoa and Vegetable Broth
  9. Bring to boil then cover and reduce heat to low, cooking for 15-20 minutes
  10. Place the sage and thyme in a food processor until minced
  11. When the quinoa continues cooking, heat 2 tsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan
  12. Add mushrooms, sage, thyme to sauté pan
  13. Cook until mushrooms are softened
  14. Stir in the meatless crumbles and sherry wine, stir occasionally for about 2 minutes
  15. Remove pan from heat
  16. Add the quinoa, craisins,  pistachios, and a sprinkle of fresh cranberries
  17. Remove cooked squash from oven and flip over so cut side is up
  18. Fill the roasted squash halves with about 1/2 cup of stuffing and bake again for another 10 minutes
  19. Top with fresh cranberries for decor, and serve while warm!

Nutrition per 1 stuffed squash half:

Calories: 308

Fat: 10.6g

Carbs: 46.5g

Fiber: 7.5g

Sugar: 4.2g

Protein: 11g

**If you aren’t a fan of squash, the stuffing can be a great dish all on it’s own!

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**I must say the stuffing is even better day two, so don’t be shy about digging into the leftovers (if there are any!)

Bon Appetite!!!

xo <3

Mack

Vegan Tacos

So I made Tacos for the first time last week. I know, I know. Super late to that fiesta. Anywho, they smelled sooo good so I decided to whip up a vegan (vegetarian) version. I say vegetarian because the only non-vegan ingredient is the Chobani which acts as sour cream. This could easily be replaced with a vegan sour cream!

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My husband said he didn’t know if he liked these or the or regular beef tacos better. This is coming from a non veg-head, ya’ll. So that alone says just how delish they are 😉

Grocery List:

  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium White Onion
  • 1 Jalapeño pepper
  • 11 oz. Beyond Meat Beef (Feisty Crumble)- I bet Boca Crumbles would work well too (Thank you Heather for the suggestion!)
  • Daiya cheese Classic Blend
  • (1) 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • Tomatoes (I like to use Wild Wonders, but any will do!)
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Taco Shell of Choice (hard, soft, or butter/bibb lettuce)
  • Plain Chobani or vegan sour cream of choice **Optional
  • Cilantro *Optional

        Taco Mix

  • 2 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 TBSP ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. Wash all produce
  2. Dice onion
  3. Thinly slice and dice jalapeño
  4. Dice tomato and thinly shred lettuce
  5. Make taco mix
  6. In a large skillet, add 1 TBSP of Olive Oil over medium-high heat
  7. Add the onion and jalapeño, sautee until white onion and jalapeño are soft and fragrant (may take about 6-10 minutes)
  8. Stir in the beyond beef until evenly mixed with the onion and pepper.
  9. Stir in tomato sauce
  10. Allow the tomato sauce to evaporate and absorb into the meat, while stirring occasionally- may take up to 20-25 minutes
  11. When all tomato sauce is absorbed, add about 3 TBSP of taco seasoning and stir evenly
  12. Plate your taco shells/lettuce as desired (some may recommend heating in the oven prior)
  13. Add cheese first (Reason: with vegan cheese it is harder to melt, so add some on the bottom of the shell first and the hot “meat” melts it)
  14. Add taco meat on top
  15. Top with lettuce, tomato, cilantro, and “sour cream” if desired

Nutrition (per serving, 8 servings total)* Using Beyond beef, 1 TBSP chobani, 1/4 cup of Daiya cheese, and no shell per taco

Calories: 221

Protein: 13g

Carbs: 16g

Fiber: 3g

Sugar: 4g

Fat: 11.5g

Enjoy 🙂

xo <3

Mack

A Mountain Lion Scare and Food with Flare

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

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

Okay, off we go now 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a toasty week,

xo <3

Mack

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

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

Shall we?

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

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

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

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

Thursday– Chores & Such. Totally necessary to waste your time by writing that- huh? OH, I did find out that I passed my nursing exam on this day and received my license in the mail! Thank you a million for all the sweet words on the last post. They seriously touched me <3 <3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for the spooOOooky stories:

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

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

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

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

Next stop: GrandView Restaurant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ohio:

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California:

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

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

Also- did you guys see that tweet?

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

On another note, it’s November already- can you believe it?! We have family coming in town tomorrow, and we are PUMPED!!!! Hope you all are doing so well. I’m thankful for this community and although I began this blog to update fam and friends and have a place to write down our memories, I treasure each one of you here and the friendships that are forming along the way <3

Wishing you a weekend CARVED with joy

xo <3

Mack

A Weekend for the Win: A Recap!

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

Let’s get to it!

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

Thursday

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

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

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

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

Saturday

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

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

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

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My handsome hubs <3

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💕💕

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

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

Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I inevitably always have the red eyes.

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

Sunday

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

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

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

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

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Monday

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a WINDIAN Wednesday,

xo <3

Mack

Halloween Festivities and a little bit of everything else

Long time, no see!!! I have been so busy studying the last couple weeks that I haven’t been able to do a recap post. I am finally snagging a couple minutes now to draft something out before bed. And you may just get the rough draft because I don’t think I have time to edit- so in advance I apologize for the misspellings, the grammatical errors, run-ons, and fragments.

First things first per usual: Thank you to everyone for those sweet, sweet thoughts and words on my last post. As I told many I didn’t want to write it (or at least parts of it), but I knew I needed to. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning with all those words on my heart, and knew that I needed to share ultimately to bring glory to God for what He has done. Thank you again for everyone who shared your own thoughts, experiences, and encouragement.

Also thank you to Shawna  for her nomination for the Black Cat Blue Sea Award. I loved reading your responses, hun! I wish I could take the time to respond, but time is thin lately! However, if you guys get a chance, check out this wonderful girl’s place on the web <3

ANDDDDD Guess what?! I finally took my nursing boards (yesterday morning), and can officially put the books away, at least for a bit. I actually received my approval right after my last update post and cried tears of joy. FINALLY. After seven months, seven long months, I could finally take this stinking test. But, really, who gets that excited to take a test?! Pathetic I tell ya. I won’t find out if I officially passed them for a while, but I’m feeling okay about it. This could be really mortifying if I didn’t pass and I have to publicly announce it to about five hundred people- oh well! We will see. Positive thinking right?!

Time to rewind to October 6th. Yes it has been that long. No worries, guys, I have all the food pics. Because, like the last couple posts, all I have done is eat and study.

For DJ’s birthday dinner he wanted to do something relaxing that didn’t involve getting dressed up and didn’t involve facing traffic. We decided to try out Eureka, a place on Main Street that people rave about. Worth the rave- it was maybe my favorite place we tried on the strip.

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For an appetizer we split some bruschetta. It was yumm. Anything with a good goat cheese and a good balsamic vinegar is destined to satisfy ya.

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DJ ordered these insane little boogers. These are lobster tacos with cabbage, saffron crema, watermelon radish, and signature handcut fries. I feel like he inevitably chooses the better dish. Don’t get me wrong, I always love my meals, but I always tend to like his a touch better than what I order. The grass is always greener on the other side of the dinner table. Or maybe less green, because I tend to get a lot of salads. Anyways ..

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I did make a good move by getting these sweet potato fries. UGH they were perfection. I ordered the veggie beet burger over greens. It just sounded so strange; I had to get it. It was super delicious and filling. Them fries though….

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Friday and Saturday was the women’s conference through my church. The theme was “Wisdom”. Lord knows I need more of it. I can’t even describe how much I admire the leaders of our church. It would take me dayyys to write out all that I gleaned from just those two days. I met so many lovely new women and was inspired more than I could have ever anticipated. When I came home from the conference Saturday night DJ surprised me and had cleaned the whole apartment. This made my life. He is the best.

Back to the conference real quick: the bracelet I am wearing in the picture below is made by girls at She Rescue Home. Please check out their site if you have a chance, well worth it. They rescue girls in Cambodia from the sex trade and provide them with shelter, food, education, occupational tools and skills to provide for their family in other ways, medical care, counseling, and reintegrate them into society. That is a terse synopsis of the immense impact they are making and the expansion of what they do. The stories of these girls brought me to tears. Here are some quotes from the founder, Leigh Ramsey, that describe the situation better than I can:

“There are complex issues that contribute to a girl being vulnerable to trafficking – factors such as poverty, abuse, trickery and deception, unemployment and addiction often leading to desperation in the family.”

“But once trapped in this world of unspeakable evil, they are held captive against their will, and threatened with violence, are soon imprisoned in a world of unimaginable pain and degradation … as we say repeatedly IT’S NOT OK!”

They hand-made these bracelets for our conference, one of the tools the skills they learned through She Rescue Home, and every time I wear it I think of and pray for these precious, valuable humans that deserve so much more than the evil of this life.

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It almost feels silly to go on to talk about anything else after that, but life is a mosaic of the good, bad, deep, beautiful, exciting, mundane, simple, and silly. It keeps us balanced and keeps us sane. Can you imagine spending too much time in any of those areas? The mundane makes us appreciate excitement, and the ugly makes us appreciate the beautiful.

Saturday I was craving french toast. I have a healthy high pumpkin french toast I make every fall. It is incredibly easy and tastes like heaven. I can’t wait to share this recipe with you guys.

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While I was doing errands one of these days (lost track, not sure which day), I found some darlin’ little pumpkins. I would have gone alllll out on the fall decor but the studying made it so I couldn’t go out and buy all the fall things. Good thing too, I tend to go a bit overboard with the decorating when given the chance.

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Sunday after church (10/9), we went to brunch. I was craving a good brunch. It’s probably my favorite meal, and I was hitting a serious wall with studying. Brunch is always a cure all’ for the study wall. We went to a highly recommended place called Hash House. It even sounds like a good brunch place. I stepped inside and smelled the buttery toast, eggs, and roasting coffee- the intoxicating, small town, diner breakfast smell. It takes me back to Saturday mornings with my dad and my Papa at local spots in little Parma, Ohio <3 My siblings know exactly what I’m talking about. Hello, Luna’s, Mimi’s, Demetrio’s, and My Place! My family knew the waiters and waitresses by name. I miss those days. All the nostalgic feels right now..

Now back to present day… DJ ordered a Western Hash and I ordered a Tofu Benedict, because where else have you ever heard of a Tofu Benedict?!?! It hit the spot. We also had to try an order of their pancakes- we ordered the short stack. A short stack. We thought they messed up our order and brought us a large stack. Nope. That is their short stack (it’s bigger than the picture does justice). I’d be interested to see the large! Verdict on the cakes: DJ’s mama’s are better. Besides her perfect pancakes, DJ swears the Bellagio in Las Vegas has some of the best he has ever tasted. Anyone concur?

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The rest of the week we had leftovers, and just random easy things here and there. I haven’t cooked as much as I like usually since I have been studying so hard and just have been making easy things like garden salads, pizza, grilled cheese… yada yada yada.

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However, one night (I think last Friday?) we went to Oren’s. I wrote all about how marvelous this Israeli food is in one of my posts. DJ and I crave this place. We like trying new places as a general rule, but man, we both were just itching to get our hands on some of their hummus and pita.

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Let us talk coffee. Lately after dinner I have been loving some decaf chai tea with a little almond milk and a Graze Chia Coconut Cookie. It is the perfect treat to help relax me to get back into study mode for the night. The Mrs. Right cup was dirty, obvi.

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I have been continuing to go to Peet’s everyday. They are truly friends at this point. They bring me out samples here and there of their latest blends, and I know longer have to tell the cashier my order. I just say, “the usual”. YES, I am one of those! I am going to miss the study “grind” simply for this reason. I will probably use blogging as an excuse to park it in Peet’s for a couple hours instead now and again 😉

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I always have either a quest bar or no cow bar on me for quick fuel. When my blood sugar drops I turn hangry real quick. DJ can attest to this. I particularly like dipping the bars in my coffee. I realize I probably look like a weirdo doing it, but that’s never stopped me. I used to lick the foam off the cup sides too, but I put my big girl pants on and stopped doing that… in public.

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Now to the highlight of our last couple weeks!!!!! Last saturday our family had a Halloween party! I can’t begin to explain how fun this was, but I’ll try. I think my cheeks still hurt from laughing. I was using this party as motivation all week long to crank out the last chunk of studying I had. It was such a nice night and helped refuel me for the last few days of cramming before the big exam. Also- it could have been a hosted Pinterest Halloween party. Every single thing was incredibly creative. Ideas galore! Our sisters that I always talk about presented us with the coolest little gift bags with our names on them and personally picked out chocolate we would love. They are incredibly creative and thoughtful, and put so much time into making this the greatest Halloween party of all time. I hope we are invited next year 😉  And, naturally, we all wore costumes, and every single one was fantastic.

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DJ and I were a play on words: I was Holy Gaucamole and he was The Second Amendment. “The right to bear arms”

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Hubby being way helpful- I was knee deep in the books so he glued on my avocados for me 🙂

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This game is a blast. No matter what age you are- this is a winner! You simply wear a  mouthpiece like the ones they use at the dentist office and have to speak a phrase that you are given. Everyone else has to guess what you are trying to say. It is hilarious. We were rolling.

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Monday night I got a text from my younger sister that there was a shooter on her college campus. They received a text from the Administration that he was heading toward the baseball fields, and she was currently in the baseball field at the time. She texted me from inside a shed in the field where she was sitting with the rest of her team. Scared me out of my mind. She was okay and hasn’t heard much about the situation since… But scary stuff. 😥

I took my exam yesterday (Tuesday), and I already explained the down low on that. Here is my obligatory “I just took my nursing boards” goofy, overly excited, why am I smiling like that selfie.

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Definitely will keep you all posted on those results.

When I got home I spent about an hour freaking out convincing myself I didn’t pass, and then DJ spent the next hour convincing me that I did pass. I told him I don’t count my chickens before they hatch, and he said he counted one nurse chicken hatching. I found it hilarious. And then I had candy corn and felt much better about life.

Random small talk note about the weather: It has been getting more fall-ish, and I am loving that. It rained a few times last week, and it was perfect study weather. I love that the seasons still have a sort of rhythm here in Northern California. I was mistaken that it was 75 and sunny everyday. While I never complain when it is 75 and sunny, the respite of rain is a nice change every now and again.

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We are going to a gala for our church this Friday, and I have few fancy dresses in my closet to choose from. To be honest, I am not really a big shopping fan. It overwhelms me a bit. It also seems to take forever to make sure I am making the right decision and getting the best deal. I do love me some good thrift shopping though.

DJ and I hit up the mall after the test yesterday and I actually found a dress relatively quickly. The lady checking us out was so jovial. She told us she wanted to adopt us and came around and gave us hugs after the purchase. I think it was the friendliest customer service experience I have ever had. It may have made DJ a bit uncomfortable, but I loved it! After that was off the list I was in a better mood. I don’t know if I was more anxious about taking my NCLEX or finding a dress, but regardless we conquered both (hopefully!).

After that we went to lunch at True Food Kitchen. This place just opened at Stanford shopping center in Palo Alto. I think this place was made for us. The vegan options were endless. DJ actually opted for a vegan option, although there were meat options. Once again, he chose the better meal, but he is always so kind to let me take a little big bite of whatever he orders.

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To start DJ ordered a honey lemonade. We also split a charred cauliflower dish with harissa tahini, medjool date, dill, mint, and pistachio. I actually have most of these ingredients right now and would love to replicate it. The combination of flavors was addictive.

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For my main dish I tried the seasonal ingredient salad with tofu. This included brussel sprouts, butternut squash, cauliflower, white beans, pomegranate, and toasted mulberry with a horseradish vinaigrette. I would never think to combine those items, but it worked soo well!

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DJ’s meal was the bomb.com. He had a T.L.T. Which is smoked tempeh, butter lettuce, tomato, avocado, and vegan mayonnaise. We are definitely going back to this place! I want to try everything on their menu.

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The whole day, Tuesday, reminded me that I have the greatest family and friends in the world. Before my test I woke up to the sweetest, most encouraging texts. When I came home with DJ after shopping I was greeted by a beautiful  Williams- Sonoma spiced pumpkin bread mix baking box.The silver pumpkins in the picture is the bottom of an actual pan to bake the bread in and it came with a delicious pumpkin butter spread! Also waiting for me was the most beautiful, exotic, and ME bouquet of flowers I have ever seen. They smell amazing and every time I look at them my heart melts. I was not expecting any of this, but I was touched beyond words!

Let’s talk in-laws for a hot tic… If I had to hand pick a family to marry into it would be the DJ’s. I thank God constantly for giving me a second family that showers me with unconditional love, support, and encouragement. I can’t imagine my life without them, and they truly make me feel like one of their own. Oh no, here come the water works. Someone get me a tissue! Nothin’ like an NCLEX to make a girl emotionally unstable!

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This morning I allowed myself to sleep in until 8:30! That is a BIG deal for me, ya’ll! I also was able to go for a super relaxing ten-miler in the sun. I haven’t done that in ages. It felt so good to have the music blasting a little louder than it should, the adrenaline rushing through my veins, and feeling like I could conquer the world. I haven’t had that exhilarating of a run in so long. Lately I’ve been running on the treadmill so I can study my notes and read my review book while running. You should see my books from trying to highlight while running- it’s comical. Also- I only fell once during those ten miles! That’s success in my book. You all know my inclination for the ground.

Anywho, we have my Aunt and Uncle coming in town tomorrow- YAHOOOOO! The rest of the day was groceries, cleaning, shipping boxes, catching up on a zillion emails, all that jazz that was put on the back burner while I studied. It feels good to currently be sitting in a clean house. Oh, and I didn’t forget dinner. Now that I can cook again I made a crispy coconut curry catfish from Blue Apron. I knew this week would be busy so I figured Blue Apron would be good to have on hand for a quick meal with all the ingredients already included!

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Last things last, we can’t forget politics. Let’s just say our household is still #SpankyTomforPresident. Nough’ said.

BUT WAIT how about them WINDIANS?!!? LETS GO CLE. World Series, baby!!!!!

Wishing you a thrilling Thursday,

xo <3

Mack

Our Family Is Growing

I’m giving our moms a heart attack as they read this title. NO- I’m not pregnant. Haha- sorry 😝. Don’t worry- I would not announce it on my blog before telling you guys 😘. But we do have a new addition to the family that I will be announcing later on. OH THE SUSPENSE.

First things first- I just want to say a TREMENDOUS thank you to Afrilly for the sweet, sweet words on her blog as well as Cyranny. Truly- I am blown away by the sincerity and kindness of this community. Also thank you to Theveggiecooker for her nomination for the One Lovely Blog award. I am beyond honored. At this time I don’t quite have the time to thoughtfully nominate others and respond to the award, but the nomination was incredibly appreciated.

Well, ya’ll ready for our hodge-podge of the last week and a half or so?

After the last post we had some zucchini leftover so we made zucchini pizzas, the more “normal” way. This is one of DJ’s favorites. I saved the inner parts that you scrape out for a recipe I share later on! I love that the grocery store has so many vegan options for the toppings. They have vegan pepperoni and vegan bacon.

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I am on a new breakfast kick. I ate oatmeal for breakfast for about five years straight. I even carried a big ole’ thing of Quaker oats in my car with me when I traveled. They became famous among my friends and we called them the “Traveling Oats”. Anyway- the last few months I have been changing it up with fruit and granola parfaits, and now I am changing it up once again. I have been loving putting Siggi’s yogurt on Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel bread with homemade cinnamon apple chips. I wake up craving this. Siggi’s yogurt is awe-some. It has an insane amount of protein and is low fat. It is made with all wholesome ingredients and acts almost like a cream cheese. It’s perfect in the morning with a cuppa joe!

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Now on to other happenings. It’s FALL!!! Finally. This time is dangerous for our pocket books if we are honest with ourselves (Ladies- can I get an AMEN?!). I can’t walk into a store without feeling wonderfully overwhelmed by the beautiful, beautiful madness. Oh the pumpkin everything, the candles, the smells, the foods, the SWEATER WEATHER.

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Oh brother. One of my favorite parts is scanning the shelves at grocery stores for new fall foods. Kids have it good these days- look at these cereal options. (Side note: Pumpkin Spice Mini Wheats are revolutionary!)

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DJ came home from class one day last week and I guiltily admitted that I made an impulsive buy. I saw this little pumpkin pillow while I was out and about and could not leave without. OH how I tried to resist. That’s a lie- I did not try very hard.

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On Thursday of last week we were running low on groceries. I had to get real creative ya’ll because we were going to be gone for the weekend, and I didn’t want to restock groceries yet. I had the leftover inner portion of the zucchini from our zucchini pizzas, eggs, and some Palak’s Tikki Masala curry. I figured that eggplant is used as a base in a lot of Indian/Thai dishes, so why not give zucchini a go?! I also remembered the eggs that were on top of the dish DJ had at Oren’s, and decided that maybe I would throw those on top too. And  of course, alllll the spices. I also had some roti sitting in the freezer (because that’s normal for a basic American girl). I love making roti because it puffs up as you make it. And its fun to say “roe-tee”.

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DJ said this was one of his favorites that I’ve made. He said we needed to make it a staple- A STAPLE! I laughed at how much he loved my scrap together meal.

On Friday through Sunday we spent time watching DJ’s sisters and some family friends’ children. (Four kids total). Since DJ was studying all weekend intensely for midterms, I joked that I went from a studying, unemployed, newlywed to a single mother of four overnight.

Friday night was an adventure around dinner time. I wasn’t quite familiar with how to use the stove and while I thought I turned on the oven I actually turned on the stove that was hidden by a cover on top of the stove. I turn around to put a pizza in and the stove is smoking. Look, when you are responsible for four children and can’t turn on an oven it takes a deep hit to your maternal confidence. The girls came by to help me out and showed me how to use it properly. By that point everyone was pretty hungry so waiting thirty plus minutes for the oven to preheat and to cook the pizza seemed out of the question. I threw together a few other random bites of anytizzers, stovetop chicken a la vodka pasta, and mahi mahi salad from the fridge for myself, and while not my proudest cooking endeavor at least everyone got fed- right?

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Saturday was so.much.fun. I was still able to squeeze in studying here and there but spending that time with the girls gave me a new boost of energy and provided a much needed break from the books. Naturally, we went to LUSH first. Once again- the cult-like following of all things fall is everywhere. Their fall products are way too fun. I tried out the goth fairy and magic wand. Super obsessed with both. You really cannot go wrong here with any of their products.

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Saturday night the girls did the sweetest thing for DJ and me. When I came inside from studying they said they had a surprise for us that night. Then we received a text that read, “To the Mr. and Mrs., tonight we have prepared a special night for the two of you. Tonight you will be enjoying a delicious dinner, music, and surprises! Please join us in the dining room at about 6:15. We hope to see you there soon!” Love the B.A.M girls (abbreviation for their names).

I actually teared up when I saw what they had set up for us. They had romantic music playing and made a bouquet (they actually made it with flowers they found outside), candles, the whole deal. They each played waitress and came out offering us either “Sparkling water” or “Citrus sparking water”. They proceeded to tell us that they would begin serving whenever we were ready. We were eager to see what they had prepared and they brought out a delicious fettuccini with homemade alfredo sauce with parmasean to sprinkle on top. I cannot explain how impressed I was with them. The food and service was superb!

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For dessert they made an apple pie. Seriously, come on- do we have the greatest sisters or what?! DJ and I went back for seconds.

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Later that night we may have had a tiny mishap with the dishwasher. There was no powder detergent and the packets of cascade were a bit too big. I, brilliantly, thought just a small dash of dishwasher soap would be a good idea. WARNING: do not try that at home. After about five minute of it going I hear the girls yelling- “It’s overflowing! It’s overflowing!” I look and soap suds are seeping out of the cracks, under, and around the darn dishwasher. Good going, Mack. #FakeMomFail .

Sunday one of the girls had a basketball tournament. It felt like a Starbucks kind of morning. I stopped by and picked up the girls their favorite double chocolate chip frappacinos and a chocolate croissant. I guess the Pokemon go is still going strong!

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Speaking of Coffee: Today is national Coffee Day!!!!! BIG DEAL!!!!!! This is personally one of my favorite holidays. I hope you guys are all properly caffeinated. I am at a Pete’s and about three minutes ago I went to sit down and spilled my coffee all over the place. That is either a sign that I need more or have had too much? Luckily the lap top was spared but I so ungracefully, in very characteristic me-fashion, made a big ole’ mess. I’m really killing it this week aren’t I?

I have been camping out at Peet’s this whole week and know all the baristas by name now. They cheer me on as I take a million practice exams, memorize a million lab values, and drink way too much of their coffee.

I also used to be a barista so what better time to share some of my “artwork” than now?! Below are a few of my favorites.

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Back to the week in review:

Sunday night when we got home, once again no groceries. And we were far too drained to go out and buy some. I did have some veggies leftover and of course eggs and roti. I made an western egg scramble in roti burritos with a side of sriracha hot sauce.

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Monday was an essential grocery/cleaning day. I tried to study, but I couldn’t focus with so much on my to-do list. I knocked out the grocery shopping in the morning and cleaned all day, did some laundry, and prepared dinner. Also I did watch the Presidential Debate (just a day late on Hulu). I don’t want to get political, so I’ll keep my views to myself- you all get enough of that from other social media platforms.

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Pumpkin nutmeg candle <3
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Sprouts is hands-down my favorite grocery store. I don’t shop there for everything because it can be a bit expensive (not as expensive as Whole Foods), but I do love looking for specialty items. They have the best selection of pumpkin/fall foods. I told the cashier that I was going to limit myself to just one specialty pumpkin item each grocery trip. Jokes on me- As I was walking out of the store I saw the Harvest Pumpkin Tortilla Chips with Pumpkin Salsa. I walked right back up to the cashier and said I took back what I said about one pumpkin item per trip.

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We also got our delivery of Graze this week! I have wanted to try this out for forever, well since the beginning of college, and I found a Groupon for it! Graze is excellent because it is perfectly custom designed to your snacking needs. They have a protein box, a calorie count box, a dessert box, etc. I have liked everything, but I definitely have some favorites:

  • Deconstructed Carrot Cake
  • Peachy Orchard
  • Sweet Rhubarb Jam
  • White Chocolate with Wild Blueberry Toast
  • Salted Caramel Fudge

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This week I decided to try out a Mustard Char Glazed Salmon from my Fine Cooking magazines. It was ridiculously easy to make and had a flavor like nothing I have ever tried.

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Our house has a LEEK!!!!!!!! 
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This week we are in hard core study mode (per usual). I am rounding down the home stretch to my studying. I am hoping to take my NCLEX by late October. DJ has midterms on Friday.

Okay- time for the big unveiling. So DJ has been a bit down this week in the study blues, as I mentioned last post. I thought to myself- what can I do to cheer his up? LIGHTBULB, buy Spanky Tom! Buy a what?  Spanky Tom is our fish that we have talked about getting for years, since early college days. No idea where we got that name. Truly no clue. But I knew this was the time. What can cheer someone up more than a fish?! I threw in the study towel early and headed to PetSmart.

Side story: I do have a track record of spontaneously buying fish. When I got my first paycheck ever in high school, I decided that very day that I wanted to spend it on a little fish. I went to the store and looked for the ugliest fish I could find. I always want the ugliest pet because they are the least likely to get adopted. (Like my dream of adopting a three legged ugly dog from the pound and naming it Beans). I found a Black Moore with bulging eyeballs and named it Sunshine. I’m a fan of irony. Sunshine was the best darn fish to ever swim the planet. When Sunshine was about two years old my family went away for a vacation. I bought a “self releasing fish feeder”. FALSE. It did not release the food. Sunshine was in a dire state when I came home. It’s little gills were barely moving. I did what everyone does in a state of panic and horror: I googled. I tried everything. I changed the tank’s water, put my dear little sunshine in cold water, in warm water (I probably shocked her), I tried CPR on the dang fish, I fed it corn (not sure where I got that one), but poor Sunshine was lost to fishy heaven. I cried. At eighteen years old I cried over my dead pet fish. That really forced me to reevaluate my life.

Anyway- back to Spanky. I was giddy with excitement. DJ doesn’t quite share in my enthusiasm of buying ugly animals, so I decided to get a pretty Spanky. I spent about fifteen minutes staring at all the fish to see which one had the most spunk. I finally chose this precious little male Beta. It’s hard to tell in the picture but here is me and Spanky T’s first picture together.

When DJ got home this was our conversation:

Me: Guess what

DJ: What

Me: I bought Spanky Tom

DJ: *Laughing* did you really just go out and buy a fish again?

I walked over to show him the tank. Deej was pretty excited- at least it got a smile out of him! Our little family is growing! I told him I chose Spanky because he seemed the most energetic of all the fish. We both looked down at Spanky T just sitting in his barrel, barely moving, and DJ observed, “Yeah, looks like it”.😂

Now, is this not the photogenic fish you have ever seen?! ST loves the little barrel and that’s where he spends most of the time. It’s his favorite part of his tiny playground.

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Sorry about the title mothers. Simply click bait. GET IT?!

#SpankyTomforPresident

For dinner I made Jennie O turkey burgers for Deej, a Morningstar Quinoa and Garlic Vegan burger for myself and homemade sweet potato fries with a homemade healthy cinnamon butter.

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Tomorrow is Friday! Woohoo! That means date night. Especially after a torturous week leading up to midterms I am excited for DJ to have a night off studying (at at least mostly off).

Wishing you a swimmingly pleasant weekend,

xo <3

Mack

“That’s Okay, I make Lamb”

Happy Monday to you!! The past couple weeks are kind of a blur. DJ and I are deep into the routine of early alarms (him more than myself- I end up snoozing for two extra hours honestly), studying all day long, and then studying late into the night. DJ is doing exceptionally well and staying motivated, but I can tell that law school is as stressful as it’s hyped up to be. It makes dinner time and our Friday Date nights an anticipated reprieve that come and go far too quickly each week. I remember in nursing school the month of September and early October always seemed extra overwhelming. I think it’s due to the fact that you haven’t quite done enough to feel accomplished or secure in your endeavors, and yet you are drained. The next “break”- fall break- is still a month away, and the holidays seem like an intangible event that is more of a nice idea than a future reality. I speculate this is the phase DJ is currently experiencing : burned out, stressed out, and bummed out. What got me through that time? Candy corn, but DJ doesn’t like candy corn, so I’m at a loss on how to help him. After mid-terms, which will be here in about a week, if my diagnosis is correct, he should turn the corner and get a second wind as there will be a huge something he has accomplished. Many times accomplishments can give us that second wind to keep pushing forward. I always feel this way, even just on day-to-day things. If I have a to-do list ten pages long, which all too often is the case, I feel exhausted before even beginning. It’s like a defense mechanism- “No don’t deal with all that, just go to sleep!”. But once things are all completed, I get a burst of energy.

Anyway, there has not been too much going on besides this “Git r’ done, get up and grind” life. However, I have cooked up a few meals I’d love to share, and we visited some fun places to eat too. Naturally this post is just going to be littered with food pictures, because really, which of my posts aren’t?

After Rachel and Amy left, we still had some ingredients leftover to make more pizzas. Homemade flat-out pizzas are one of my favorite treats. They are healthy and versatile, and each person can easily make their own. They are also a blast to make. I always like making a mediterranean one with shrimp, vegan daiya mozzarella cheese, pesto, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and caramelized onions and mushrooms. I also like to make a pineapple one- check out the Marco Island post to see a picture of that 🙂 DJ likes a more basic pizza with crumbled sausage (I used Boca because we ran out of regular- he couldn’t tell the difference 😉 ), mozzarella cheese, oregano, sun-dried and fresh tomatoes.

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We had our headboard delivered last week for our bed, which we had waited four weeks for. I was so excited because that meant I could finally hang the canvas I got for above the bed and start with more decorating. No such luck, Chuck. After the delivery men set it up, I walk in to see it and the actual headboard is a different color entirely than the base. They said it was a manufacturing error, so now we have another good four weeks to wait for the replacement. Oh well, we aren’t in a rush, but it definitely was a “are you kidding me?” type mistake (after we have had countless other issues with this store). All in all, it looks so funny. I can’t help but laugh at it. I will have to post a picture of it soon.

Our Friday night date night (9/9) consisted of Oren’s Hummus shop on Main Street Cupertino. I have been eagerly awaiting the opening of this place. It serves Israeli food, and I have heard from several people that the food is fantastic. Oh… It is.

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Can we talk about this chandelier for quick tic?! Love, love loveeee.

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They start the meal with complimentary coleslaw. If you know me, you know I LOVEEEEEEE coleslaw. This place hardcore won brownie points for giving it out at the beginning of the meal for free. It was super good coleslaw too- not too drenched in the sauce, crunchy veggies, all the flavour. (Flavour with the u- you know it’s good).

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They are called Oren’s HUMMUS shop for a reason. Their hummus is the BOMB. The BEST hummus I have ever had besides my mama’s homemade of course 😉 Sorry Sabra, I think I’m leaving you in the dust.

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I ordered the vegetable skewer with falafel and babaganoush. Baba is similar to hummus, but it is made with a smoked eggplant base. I can never decide if I like Baba or hummus better. I like saying babaganoush more, so maybe that makes me bias toward it.

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DJ ordered the Shakshuka. This had organic eggs, poached over easy in a spiced tomato sauce. Their wheat pita served with this is bursting with flavor. It was served fresh and warm and need I say more?

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Their motto is “Rip, Scoop, Eat”. Their motto happens to be my life motto. If there is ever any chance to dip something with bread, pita, naan, etc., I am alllll over that. At the end of any meal if there is sauce on the plate, you bet I’m getting it with a piece of bread. DJ always laughed at me when we first started dating about this habit, but he does it too now so I must have had it right 😉 I always make sure I save a piece from the starter bread basket to use at the end. When DJ got his meal he said, “How am I supposed to eat this?!” I looked at him, and said- “you’ve gotta rip, scoop, eat- DUH”. And then he rolled his eyes at my not-funny, but I think I’m funny, remark.

Saturday we actually did double-dipping nights out. Granted, after Oren’s we studied the rest of the night. DJ and I met one of his law school friend’s at Orchard City Kitchen in Campbell. He is super familiar with the area and knows all the good stops. I have never been anywhere like this before, and I certainly intend to go back. All their dishes are meant to be shared and the plates, while considered “small plates” are pretty decent sizes to split. Put your seatbelt on, or loosen your belt, one or the other, because we went all out for this meal! I wasn’t planning on taking pictures, but DJ’s friend said he was going to snap a few, and I probably got a little too excited that he shared in the food photography fettish. I know it’s ridiculous, and I’m okay with it.

We started with the shaved radishes. These radishes with fried goat cheese, pink pearl apples, serpent cucumbers, sunflowers, lemon vin, and herbs. Guuuuuys, this was so good. Plus it was maybe the most beautiful thing I’ve ever ate.

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Next we tried the legumes. This included sprouted lentils, butter beans, haricot vert, limas, charred avocado, peanuts, cardamon cream, and lemon. So far the meal has BEAN delicious.

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Deej was especially itching to try the Triple B. This consisted of biscuits, bacon, and honey butter. I didn’t have the bacon, but DJ said it was insanely good. It smelled like it too. I can attest that the rolls and butter were out of this world.

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Next we tried the grilled quail with carrot-anise puree, pickled onions, alium ash, and pistachio crumble. I had never had quail (besides the quail eggs from eat-drink San Fran, and felt I couldn’t miss the opportunity. I haven’t had meat in a long time and I took the tiniest nibble. I can see how others would like it, but I just have no appetite for meat since I gave it up. BUT if you do, which most people do, I bet ya would like this. The puree and all that razzle-dazzle was super delicious too.

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Moving onto the bigeye Tuna Crudo. CRUDOS to you Orchard City Kitchen- (too much?). This was fantastic. It included watermelon (yellow watermelon, mind you), scallions, edamame, radish, daikon sprouts, and soy tahini. It was simply delicious. It is the kind of dish I think I could probably recreate at home too, unlike most of the dishes of the night. The red/pink pieces on the dish are the fish and the yellow is the watermelon. Trippy, right?!

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We also ordered the crab and corn dumplings. The words DUNGENESS CRAB tend to just pop off the page to me and DJ, and so inevitably we had to get that dish too. It would be wrong if we didn’t. It came with corn broth, parm, serrano chile, and cilantro, and maybe some magic because it tasted like it? Also I was too entranced that I forgot to take a picture of that one.

Last, but not least, certainly not least, was the roasted bone marrow radiator with gremolata, toasted bread crumbs, shiitake, pancetta, and parm. Once again, certainly not vegetarian, but it was bone marrow. I had to try it. When else am I going to have bone marrow? Truly one of the greatest things ever. They actually carve the bone marrow right out of the bone into the pasta. I know, I know, sounds a bit unsettling, but it is amazing. Here is my grainy picture trying to get him in the process of carving out the marrow.

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It was super rich, but super delicious. One bite satisfied me and the flavor delicately lingered.

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Throughout the week I whipped up a few staple meals. I was craving my big-ole’ salads. In college people would look at my wide-eyed when they saw the size of my salads in the cafeteria. Look, I like garden salads, and sometimes I put the entire garden in my salads. I love adding chik’n, morningstar burgers, grilled tofu, shrimp, or salmon to them with some guacamole and roasted edamame seeds; depends on my mood, which changes daily hourly, so who knows what the little red bowl will contain by the end of the food prep. **Side note: I have an emotional attachment to the red bowl below, it is my deemed salad bowl. I have a green one at my mom’s house- right mom? They are meant to be used for larger side dishes or even main dishes, but heck, I can’t use some little normal bowl for these monstrous rabbit dinners.

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I haven’t made spaghetti since we have been married. Yes, I realize it is like a staple newlywed meal. I had some angel hair pasta sitting in the cupboard and kind of wanted to get rid of it, so DJ happily obliged to eating a normal meal. I did add turkey meatballs for him… and sundried tomatoes, and maybe a little oregano and italian seasoning, and crumbled parmesan, but I did my best to keep it “normal”. L-O-L. img_0472

Ya’ll know how I try to make one thing from my cooking magazines, once a week? Well this week I present to you blue cheese, basil, lambburgers. I mainly wanted to make lambburgers, just to say lambburgers. It also seemed like a good cooking challenge. I have a long way to go in the meat-cooking department. Oh, I also wanted to be able to quote this the whole time I made them…

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I loved making rosemary fingerling potatoes from my Blue Apron trial, and thought they would be a perfect accompaniment to this meal. The topping for the lambburger is a basil, mayo, and blue cheese dressing. This whole meal was surprisingly easy, and we had leftovers for days- which allows me to get innovative. I loved caramelizing the onions because it makes the kitchen smell incredible, and may have snatched a few myself in the process 😉

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DJ enjoyed the meal even though he isn’t the biggest blue cheese fan. The basil and blue cheese were perfect compliments. Who woulda thought? I tried the cheesy concoction just to make sure it was edible- and it was delicious! I had my salad above round two and some of the fingerling potatoes.

With the leftovers I made zucchini boats. I improvised by adding caramelized onions and mushrooms, and roasted the blue cheese mixture in the oven with the lamb crumbles. I made some garlic bread on the side. DJ said he liked this better than the original burgers even. I can post a recipe for that soon (soon is a relative term).

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For my studying throughout the week I tried different coffee shops to get a change of scenery. My favorite place is Peet’s Coffee and Tea. I’m actually currently sitting at one. Their coffee is amazing, and they aren’t terribly overpriced, plus they are playing Smokey Robinson so it’s a good day. One of my friends works at one in Santa Clara and I went to visit her one day. I, naturally, went to the wrong one, and it’s kind of uncomfortable saying “Just kidding- going to another Pete’s!” to the cashier when I realized she didn’t work there. She worked at the one 4 miles south down the road. 😂  Ahh, only in Cali. I also tried Philz, but it was hard to get much done there. It was a bit chaotic and loud. But they had the most profound sign hanging in their bathroom…

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Thursday night I went for a hike with my hiking group. The moon was INSANE. Any one see the harvest moon? We ended up doing our hike later than usual and the sun is setting earlier. I could tell my group leader was a bit on edge, eager to get back. She divulged to me (at the end of our hike) that she heard someone had been attacked by a mountain lion on that trail, so she was ancy to get back before it was too dark. The views were so worth it. I can’t wait to do this trail again.

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On one of my walks to a coffee shop I saw this little cute box that is a place to leave your leftover food. How cool is this? I was too excited to not take a picture, although the cars passing probably were confused. But especially when leaving for trips and what-not, if there are any food items that might go bad I’d love to know they are not going to be wasted. I need to do more research into how this works exactly. I also need to make sure that’s what this is actually for, and it’s not just a “go green” campaign on some large appliance. AWKWARD if that’s all it is. Oh gosh it probably is. 🙈Hahaha.

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The trees are just beautiful and I had to share.

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DJ played basketball with some guys after school Friday afternoon. I was so glad he could take the break and do something where he felt in his element. For our Friday date night this past friday (9/16), we were both craving sushi (or snoooshi as we call it). I found a Groupon for a place in cupertino we have had our eye on. We rubbed the study daze out of our eyes and spent a quick hour out on the town. The place was pretty tucked away, but super eclectic, played some of the best music, and served some yummy rolls.

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Seaweed salad is a must. This is one of my favorite sushi accompaniments. My aunt loves seaweed salad too, and she tried to make it at home one time. She bought legit raw seaweed-like the algae kind. She said she ended up throwing it right back where it came from (they live on the water). I laughed so hard when she told me this story and I saw the picture of her attempted “seaweed salad”.

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Saturday DJ tucked himself away in the library at school. Main Street Cupertino was having their grand opening (Although we have basically tried everything already *hair flip*). I decided to check it out for a study break in the afternoon. They had all kinds of fun stuff going down like the opportunity to throw a football with Jerry Rice, a giant raffle, locals doing karate and such, and all the food vendors out giving out samples. It was open to the general public too. The lines were nuts, but it was a nice break to be out in the sunshine and among people.

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Back to studying with a third cup of coffee for the day.

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Last night I could tell it was a much-needed cookie night. Nothing some cookies can’t solve.

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The two of us just studied away all day after church.  I have been listening to a podcast called Serial while I long-hand my notes. Anyone heard of it? I am addicted. DJ’s friend we had dinner with the other night actually told us about it. It currently has two law cases that are subject to much speculation and uncertainty about the discretion of the law. I flew through the first case and am now listening to the second. He also suggested watching the documentary The Jinx. I watched through that too while writing out my labs, meds, etc.  I am dying to converse about them, so if anyone has seen them, please let’s chat. I have so many questions and opinions.

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I use a little syringe highlighter that my mother-in-law gave me as a graduation present. I love them!!

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Representing the Orioles today. GO O’s!!!!!

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Wishing you a Monday that has been anything but Mundane,

xo <3

Mack