Eggcellent eats, treats, and a SF retreat!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions for you!

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

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

xo ❤

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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! ❤ 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 ❤

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A Santa Cruz Kinda Weekend

Hey ya’ll. Happy Sunday Funday to ya. I hope you all are safe in this craziness that is happening literally everywhere. I don’t know about you, but I am experiencing such tremendous unrest. I feel the heaviness of everything happening, and it is crushing me. Compounding the heaviness that is impacting our world, country, friends, fellow bloggers, and family, there is the uncertainty, fear, and confusion I am facing in my current circumstances. I will explain more on that later. However, today in Church we had a sermon that made it near impossible for me to keep the tears at bay. Our pastor offered such encouragement and truth to grasp during these times and emphasized trusting God’s sovereignty through it all (when they post it I’ll share the link). It was just what I needed to hear. Additionally, praising Jesus with fellow believers was the most peace I have felt in a couple weeks now.  My job doesn’t allow me the ability to go to Church most Sundays. But when I can it helps me find new perspective, helps reveal truth in spite of human emotion. I have grown pretty apathetic and exhausted as of late. I plan on doing a six month recap soon- September 20th is officially 6 months of being a neurosurgical RN in an IICU. My probation period ends tomorrow, and I’ll find out if they are keeping me on or not. I am just lying it at Jesus’s feet. That’s all I can do. I don’t have the strength or energy to do anything but leave it in His hands at this point in the program, at this point in life. I’ll keep you all posted. I hope this doesn’t sound melodramatic- I’m just whooped.

Anyways, on my way home from Church I had a renewed sense of energy that I needed considering tomorrow is gonna be extra-extra stressful. So for now- I just want to escape and share the most beautiful moments from the past couple weeks with you all, and of course, reminisce over all the yumz that have been devoured in that time. Bon appetite 🤗😋

On August 30th, where I left off on my last update post, I went to dinner with my good friend Tammy for some girl time and super savory eats. We hopped over to Aqui, which is basically just down the road from DJ and I. I have no idea how we haven’t gone here before, because ohhh my lanta, manna from heaven may have actually fell on my plate.🤤

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I ordered their salmon salad with organic greens-crunchy cabbage mix, feta, lemon vinaigrette, herb aioli, cherry tomatoes, garbanzo-jicama-edamame mix and cucumber. Their guac and chips is actually new level too. I mean, come on now, it’s actually glowing in the picture. Now if that doesn’t scream heaven ordained tex-mex, i just don’t know what does.

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After, we popped across the street to a dessert shop called Hechaa. Tammy suggested we try their Mochi! I have never had Mochi, but I hear it’s delicious, and I’m always down for a new foodie adventure. Anyone ever had it?! Sadly, they were sold out. No worries though, we still took pictures with their gorgeous flower wall like the couple of basics we are.

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August 31st I met up with a great family friend at Starbucks, who is also an RN. I talked about all that’s going on, my struggles, my thoughts, etc. She provided some awesome encouragement and advice moving forward. I’m excited to share sort of our tentative plans/thoughts for the future with you all (soonish)!

On September 1st, DJ had the evening off early too! We whipped up some ‘zas with Naan bread and all the fixings. He made a caprese one with tomatoes/mushrooms/sun-dried tomatoes/fresh buffalo mozzarella/garlic/olive oil/sprinkle of parmesan, and I made one with goat cheese/hummus/sun-dried tomato/spinach/kalamata olive/garlic/mushroom/balsamic glaze. His looked prettier haha.

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I worked all Saturday (9/2) and Sunday (9/3) , but luckily DJ finally got a weekend of R & R. He spent some time with family and I was able to join on the fun Monday (9/4) for labor day! We just relaxed and ate great food. The rest of labor day we cleaned the house, did some laundry, and watched some shows on HBO.

I worked Tuesday (9/5) and Wednesday (9/6). Wednesday was especially hard. I lost it during report to the oncoming shift. Luckily, the nurse was so gentle and sweet with me and helped me catch my breath. I had about eight critical lab values over the course of the day, an infiltrated IV, a patient whose wound seriously dehisced, a newly post-operative patient admit (if you’re a nurse you understand the challenge), an isolation room with double insulin checks, and about 100 other things that went wrong that I won’t bore you with. It was rough. Real rough. Quite possibly one of the most difficult days I’ve had yet- and working 12 hour shifts 4/5 days is exhausting beyond belief.

Anywho, when I went out for a run on Thursday (9/7), I saw this little note at the cross walk. I don’t know why it meant so much to me. But it was just a nice thought that someone took the time to place that there and it happened to fall in my path that day.

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And even though autumn is right around the corner, I couldn’t help but stop and admire these beauties!

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It’s the little things that really bring me joy lately.

I’ve been trying to use up all of our food the pantry/fridge before making a big trip. For a few nights I stir fried alll kinds of veggies together, tofu, and hummus. It was super filling and tasty too!

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Friday (9/8) I worked on our research project for the program, cleaned the house a smidge, and did some laundry. But I was pretty antisocial and not super in the mood to do anything after the chaotic days at work.

But finally, the highlight of my weekend (besides Church today) was yesterday (9/9). DJ and I finally, FINALLY, FINALLLY had a full day together! We wanted to get away, and where better to get away to than Santa Cruz for a beach day?! I started the morning early with a short warm up run followed by an insanity session. Shaun T. kicked my booty and I was ready to get some fuel. We threw on our baseball caps, I skipped on doing any makeup, and made an avocado smoothie. (I hope ya’ll don’t take a shot every time I mention this smoothie on this blog, ya’ll would be six sheets to the wind). I also took along a slice of Ezekiel bread and an RX bar for the road.

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When we arrived at Santa Cruz we were greeted by the comforting summer aroma of everything fried and the sound undulating screams from roller-coaster fanatics. We walked around the Boardwalk, took in the views of the crashing water, and claimed a cozy spot on the sandy strip as our own.

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We brought books along and decided to just read and lounge allll afternoon. I’m still making my way through Goblet of Fire. Every night we have been watching Game of Thrones (yes, I know, it’s horrible. I’m not endorsing it). But due to this, I haven’t been reading at night as often, and when I try to I usually conk out. I will make it through though! (I have a deal with myself and DJ that when I make it through all the books we can go to Harry Potter world).

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DJ brought a book too and we read and napped on and off for the afternoon. It was perfect. I was so thankful he suggested this for the day!

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DJ decided after a few hours he was craving a dog on a stick.

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What’s your favorite fare food? I think mine might be garlic fries, but at the time I was seriously craving some seafood!

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We hopped over to the Sock Shop on the wharf, which is my personal favorite boutique. I loveee socks, and I may have found the perfect pair for me….. 

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Of course we had to stop and see the little sea lions (that’s DJ’s favorite part).

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We had worked up a serious appetite by this point, and I, like I said, had a serious seafood hankerin’. We decided to try the famous FireFish Grill. We have tried tons of places on the Wharf (Olita’s, Gilda’s, Stagnaro Bro’s (twice here and here)), but had yet to try this pretty famous one!

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They immediately brought out this bread assortment, so naturally they won my heart.❤️

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Everyone around us was having a bloody mary, and they looked good although I’ve never had one. So I thought, what the heck, let’s try it! So DJ and I gave it a go. It was super yummmm. It had tons of spice and the rim was salted with a mixture that looked like sand (suh cute, right?). We didn’t finish the boogar though- it was huge and like a meal in and of itself, but it definitely complimented the food well!

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Rachel, one of my best friends from Ohio, loves Bloody Mary’s so I was excited to share with her that I actually tried one. She has been blowing up my phone with pictures of homemade bloody mary mixes ever since. Also Anna, I can say I had one in honor of your bday 😉

DJ’s seafood tacos didn’t photograph well. (The crowd boos). But he loved them! I tried the seafood kabob, called the FireFish Grill! This had skewered charbroiled prawns, scallops, salmon, fresh fish, bell pepper and onion. Hint, hint, when a restaurant names a dish after its name, it’s probably a solid option. I think I said “this is amazing” maybe six and a half times through the meal. The half because I’m sure a mouth full of the deliciousness cut me off at some point.

Oh, and I definitely took the leftover scallops to go- (Bach. in Paradise fans knows what I’m referencing).

img_1199After our scrumptious feast, we walked around the pier a bit more, soaked up the last bit of the beach breeze and sun, then headed home.

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^ DJ’s legs got horribly burnt. I am a nut about sunscreen, so I made sure not to let him live it down after he persisted that he didn’t need it before hand.🙆🏼😜

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I’m so thankful for him. I know I say that all the time, but I don’t think know I wouldn’t make it through this year without him.

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We jammed to oldies tunes on the way home, including a few faves You Make My Dreams by Daryl Hall & John Oates, some Uptown Girl (Billy Joel <3), Flash Light by Parliament, and Wake Me up Before You Go-Go. 🎶 If you ever need some feel good in your life, listen to those tunes. Promise you’ll feel better.

Blog Birthdays: 🎂🎉

To sweet Anna, from Actively Anna, Happy belated birthday dear on July 27th! (Soooo belated). I hope it was absolutely wonderful! Thank you for being such an amazing friend here since the beginning. I absolutely love our chats ❤ So thankful for you, dear!

Lovely Lisa, from Life of an El Paso Woman, happy birthday tomorrow!!!!! Thank you for your love, encouragement, and conversations always! I hope this birthday is the best yet. This is your year! This last one is put to rest, and I believe this one will bring the best blessings for you. Sending you so much love and birthday hugs!

xo ❤

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ALL. THE. FUN. In Fort Worth, TX.

HEYYY YAAAA’LLLLL! This past weekend was nuthin’ but good, Texan fun. It’s actually one of those posts that I’m nervous to write because I feel like I won’t do the weekend justice! Also, fair warning that there are about a million pictures on this post- I had zilch chill when it came to the snapshots. We all know I break about every rule in the blogging book: My posts are too long, I share too many pictures, I make horrible jokes, and I ramble like a middle school girl on the phone. BUTTTTT at least I’m honest about it, right? RIGHT?!

I only find out my schedule about four weeks before, so impromptu planning has forcibly become a newly acquired skill. It worked out that I had four days off in a row, and I had to make the most of it. DJ couldn’t make it with the uncertainty of work, so he was surely missed.

I haven’t seen my mom since the marathon and my step dad, Pete, since Christmas, so I though this would be a perfect time to pay them and my fave lil’ town a visit!

Real quick: If you want to read other posts about the fort worth travels you can check it here or here!

Last Friday (8/11), I worked all day, came home, scarfed down some food and then went to the airport to catch a red eye at 1 am.

I sat down to catch up a little bit on blogging while there. I thoroughly enjoy my “me time” while traveling alone, but man oh man, I was so tired it was hard to even keep my eyes open. I hate being tired- growing up I used to say sleeping is such a waste of time, and I never have really enjoyed it. But this was one of the top five moments of exhaustion in my lifeeeee. My body was like, “whyyy must you torture me like this, go.to.sleeeeep”. Needless to say- I have never longed for or appreciate sleep so much as I do now with this nursing gig.

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I slept nearly every second on the plane ride. I didn’t even wake up for the snacks- yup, that’s how tired I was.

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I had a short layover in Houston. When I arrived in Fort Worth at 8 am on Saturday, I grabbed my suitcase from baggage claim and felt such a great excitement/relief when I saw my mom pull up. I was ecstatic to see her, and also pretty darn excited to find a real live bed with a pillow instead of an airplane tray table. As soon as we arrived, I exchanged a hug with Pete and cuddles with my puppy.

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I decided to take a “quick nap”. I ended up sleeping until one. I never do that. It reminded me of the days of coming back from nursing school and zonking out for hours on end. There is just something about being at your parent’s house that you feel like you can actually relax 100%.

Once I woke up, we went to The Keller Pointe– the local workout facility.

After working out, my mom and I chatted in the hottub (It’s actually so nice after those workout chills set in!)

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And of course, what’s a mother daughter hangout without some sushi!

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We then got ready for our family night out!!

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Dallas/Ft. Worth was having it’s BIG restaurant week! It’d be a crime if we didn’t attend as self-proclaimed foodies. During restaurant week different restaurants create a menu that usually has a three or four course meal with a flat rate, which is way more reasonable than what you would typically spend. You get to sample several options from the menu, pair it with a wine, and get the experience for a decent price! We all haven’t been together since Christmas, so we joked that this was a combined birthday, Father’s Day, new job, and almost making it to the six month mark celebration! Any excuse to celebrate 😉

My mom blew up my e-mail with suggestions to view while waiting for my plane, which is perfect because one of my favorite past times happens to be researching the best local food spots in town. Eddie V’s caught my eye. Not only were they voted the BEST seafood restaurant in the US of A, they also are known for their wine selection– so there’s that.

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The whole restaurant was nothing but class and elegance. The description on their site describes them perfectly:

Eddie V’s charismatic vibe draws you in and holds you close, invites you to be seen, or sit back and just savor. The finest seafood and steaks. World-class wine and service. And live jazz in the V lounge. Eddie V’s can be found across the country. While each location is unique in its setting, artwork and décor, they all share an unmistakable elegance.

If you have a special occasion to celebrate and need a great night out- this is your place. They have several locations in the US- you can see if there is one near you here.

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Of course, for anywhere to be top notch, they served delicious warm bread and butter. The butter was topped with chives and paprika- I’m saving this combo for a rainy day.

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We started with the Maine Lobster Bisque. It was flame. We thought it could have used a bit more actual lobster, but it was still fantastic.

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My mom and I also split their season salad. It came with full parmasean slices and an olive brushetta marinade. It was the best compliment to the heavy lobster bisque.

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Now to get to the main course… I had the salmon with young vegetables and a mustard vinaigrette. I feel like the picture just speaks for itself. It was phenomenal.

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My mom ordered the swordfish with lemon, olive oil, sea salt, and asparagus. It was pretty simple, but absolutely fantastic. I honestly don’t know if I preferred the salmon or swordfish. Both were scrumptious beyond description. They were not lying about good seafood.

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No worries to those carnivores out there….Pete ordered the filet. It was cooked to PERFECTION.

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And just when we didn’t think the meal could get better… then we had the au gratin potatoes…. it was consensus that this was the best part of the meal. Until…

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…..we had dessert!!!!! Wow oh wow. I’m not even exaggerating when I say this was some of the most mouth-watering dessert I have ever tasted.

First, we tried the butterscotch panna cotta. This had salted caramel, walnut pralines, and biscotti. Not sure what it was about this dessert, but it was seriously some of the greatest flavor I have ever experienced. It was smooth, creamy, and full of such intensely pleasant sweetness with a light finish.

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And last, but ooooh certainly not least, we tried the Hot bananas foster butter cake: flambeed table-side and served with small batch butter pecan ice cream. It was easily the tastiest bananas foster I have ever devoured.

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On Sunday morning, we headed to church. Everyone is so friendly in Texas. It was a great service and nostalgically pleasant to attend Church together like the ole’ days!

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When we got back from Church, I downed a piece of toast with better n’ peanut butter PB & honey. We then went to Keller Pointe to workout!

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In the afternoon we went to one of our favorite places in Fort Worth, TX- the Stockyards!

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The Stockyards has a rich western history, and still to this day has the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive! People line the roads like they are getting ready for the Macy’s Day Parade.

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We didn’t actually attend the drive this time, but I’ve seen it before and it’s pretty neat!

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There is a little gem of history with every step you take, a new story to be uncovered, a piece of the past to be explored. The boutiques and locally owned shoppes are part of what I love about it most too- #shoplocal.

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My momma and I headed to Cowtown Winery to try a couple flights before heading to the premier event for the evening.

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The people next to us were so friendly and immediately struck up a conversation with us. I miss the friendliness….. In California you’re lucky if the cashier at the grocery store acknowledges your presence…. ok ok it’s not that bad, but people just keep more to themselves around here!

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And thennn for the main event of the evening….

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We hit up the nationally renowned Billy Bob’s Texas. This is basically like a right of passage if you claim to know anything about the Fort Worth area.

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This place is considered the world’s largest Honkey Tonk. Check that off my bucket list.

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It’s MASSIVE. It is truly hard to describe. There are about four bars alone in the one massive room, a ring for actual bull riding (not even a mechanical one, a real one), and an energy that fills the whole arena.

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We realized we were pretty hungry, and decided to split the portobello mushroom sandwich and sweet potato waffle fries. They were both so good. There was actually cole slaw on the sandwich, whichhh may be the best thing eva. If you go to Billy Bob’s do yourself a favor and try their sweet potato fries!

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What was this epic event occurring for the evening?! The World’s Largest Karaoke Competition! This was the finals of three rounds. It was such a memorable night- my mom and I realized we were probably the only two attending that didn’t have any personal emotional investment in any of the contestants, but we soaked up every second. The tunes were amazing, the talent was incredible, and did I mention the sweet potato fries?

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Also I had such a surreal moment where I actually put my hand in one of the actual cast members of the The Temptations. SWOON.

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When we got home, we spent time chatting in the hottub, listening to the quiet, quiet night only with the gentle soundtrack of chirping crickets and basking in the warm embrace of sleepy, nocturnal wind. That moment reminded me so much of Ohio. I needed it – especially now… just the peace and solitude, the feeling that nothing exists except the trees swaying above you, the hum of creatures in the grass, and the quiet- the utter hush and white noise of nature, a symphony in it’s own right.

I slept so deeply that night. The next day, Monday, we headed to Seven Mile Cafe– a staple brunch spot in Keller!

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They have a giant chess board outdoors… I mean… come on..

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Plus, it’s basic as me, so naturally, it drew me in…..

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The food is boss here. The service not so much, but I guess they can afford to be slow considering the food is worth the wait. Pete ordered their California burger, I ordered their create your own omelette, and momma Jill ordered their Vigas. The Vigas is hands down the thing to order!

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This is the vigas below- it has seasoned tofu scrambled with tortilla strips, jalapeños, soyrizo, onions, tomatoes, avocado, and served with black beans and a side of tortillas. It was veryyy vigalicious.

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And of course we had to finish with one of their homemade cinnamon rolls. Can’t go wrong with that!

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When we got home, my mom whipped up us iced lemonade and basil for the road! Time for the beach!

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We went to a new spot my mom had been wanting to check out- Little Elm Beach. The City of Little Elm is darling, and the fact that they have probably one of the only little beaches in the state of TX makes it a perfect getaway spot.

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Recently obsessed with La Croix- any one have a favorite flavor?! I love them all- but I think the coconut may be the best!

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We walked the beach and took a swim in the comfortably tepid water. I love swimming, but haven’t in a while. It felt tremendously refreshing to be in the water again, especially in that Texas heat!

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After we dried off a bit we went to the Little Elm Lakeside Trails to scope them out.

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They actually reminded me a bit of the trails in Ohio, ohhhhh how I miss the CVNP!

When got back from our sun & fun filled day, I whipped up my stuffed sweet potatoes for my momma to try! We devoured these suckers then headed to, sadly, the last adventure on the weekend agenda..

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PAINTING WITH A TWIST! I have wanted to do this for ages, and there was one basically right in my parent’s backyard in Keller!

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If you don’t know what Painting with A Twist is, lemme inform yaaas. Basically, it’s a painting class, but the “twist” is you can bring in a bottle of wine, snacks, etc. and you paint while sipping!

You just register online and they have everything set up for you- the canvas, the paint, the water, the brushes- all you need to bring is yourself…. oh and your beverage of choice, ohhh and your chocolate of choice 😉

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We also won the “selfie competition”- yes, so slightly cheesy (literally and figuratively- womp womp), but we won and got two painting with a twist tumblers so 100% worth it!

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Priorities….

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They have plenty of photo ops all over the place!

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Tell me she isn’t just the cutest?!? Plus she had the best painting in the class- not even kidding!

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I woke up at 5 am on Tuesday to head to the airport and head home. It was the hardest thing to say goodbye. I grabbed some Starbucks to help with the grief. They always misspell my name so that at least provided a sprinkle of humor.

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Welp, this may officially be one of my longest posts ever. If you stuck through it I give you props! I hope you all had the best weekends! Anyone do anything crazy or fun?

Blog Birthdays:

Kristy from Southern In Law on August 12th. Guys, Kristy always has such yummmmy, healthy eats and her pictures alone will make your mouth water! She also is super candid about her life and such a joy to follow.

Dani Jane from A Beautiful Thing on August 17th. This lovely London lady blogs about literally everything, from fashion to travel to restaurants- you must follow her now if you don’t!

Happy birthday to you both, I hope it was wonderful 🙂 Sorry I’m a bit late!

xo ❤

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Lobbies & Robbers & Bearnaise, OH MY!

Happy happy Thursday to yas! I’m currently sitting outside in my little basket, drinking an avocado smoothie & eating protein choc. chip cookies while watching the sun come up over the mountains. I am utterly content on the heels of having two incredibly hard days in the hospital. I received a couple of timely texts from DJ’s family that meant the world and gave me the boost I needed to make it through. I am so doggone blessed to be able to call DJ’s family my own. And now I am pumppped to share this past weekend with ya’ll!

So, DJ and I are celebrating our anniversary in about a week here, but this past weekend was the only one that lined up for us to celebrate! We kind of considered Tahoe our anniversary trip, so we decided to do something more local in SF- a staycation if you will!

We staycayed at the JW Marriott hotel in SF. The lobby’s interior was gorgeous!

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We like to try out different hotels because each one brings a different experience. Even though this hotel had the best amenities (great fitness room, awesome food pantry, bathroom, etc.), DJ and I agree Le Meridian and the Fairmont surpassed this one by far at a similar price (although we did grab those two on Groupon!). SO if you are looking at staying in SF, consider those two options before JW Marriott. Our fridge was missing & a light was out. Plus the overall aesthetic and experience was better at the other two!

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For dinner we walked to Alfred’s, just about a mile from Union Square.

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Holy maloly- this place was the bomb dot com. Open since 1928, the moment you step in, the giant chandeliers put off an old fashioned, classy ambiance that throws you back in time. The hostess and servers were so friendly. The food- man, oh man, the food was too good! They are also famous for their cocktails.

They served the the butter in the shape of a flower- now that’s a fancy first! I have never seen this done before, but I am convinced the butter was extra tasty!

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We started with their shrimp cocktail and tater tots. These were the fanciest gosh darn tots we have ever had with creme fraiche & smoked trout roe. I do think the appetizers were overpriced, but all in the name of a fantastic experience, right?! I say the tots were good- but the shrimp cocktail is where it was at! If we go back I would love to try the smoked black cod!

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Our main courses were absolutely exquisite. I told DJ this may have been one of my favorite fish dishes. (I feel like I always say this, but honestly- this was out of this world!) I had the Petrale Sole with a lemon caper butter sauce. It reminded me of a lemon picatta chicken my mom used to make for us growing up. It was perfection. Mouth watering perfection.

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DJ ordered their filet with baernaise sauce. I tried the sauce and it was heavenly.

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I think our favorite part of the meal (or close second, because the fish may have been my fave) was the creamed spinach. It was maybe the best we have had. It came with bacon bits on top, but it was easy for me to just eat around them. The panko breadcumbs on top mixed with the perfect amount of savory and herb created a flavorous explosion that is hard to even describe. If you are in SF, stopping by Alfred’s for their creamed spinach alone is a must.

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It was a perfect anniversary dinner!

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As we were walking back to the hotel we saw the craziest thing. There was robbery (orchestrated by a couple) who ran into one of the shoe stores lining the road near Union Square. We heard the yelling and when we turned the corner we saw shoes & boxes flying everywhere and the woman and man arguing aggressively with the store owner…. things started getting physical. The owner was chasing the woman, and the man of the two was quickly to the defense. They were essentially in the middle of the road, but closer to the side that we had to walk. Along with a few other cautious people, we walked toward the scene hoping we could get past without any issues. As we got within about fifteen feet we saw the man of the pair reach behind him into his backpack. DJ and I immediately turned around and sprinted back toward the other side. He easily could have been reaching for a gun, and we weren’t in the mood to be in the center of a downtown SF shooting. We ran back toward the corner and decided to cross the road and take the scenic route back. The guy didn’t pull out a gun, it was a pole of sorts (not sure what exactly), but he started chasing the owner with it. Finally we heard the police sirens and kept trying to peep from other side of the street to watch the action. Sociology at it’s best. #bystandereffect #citylife

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The whole experience really worked up a sweet tooth for the two of us. We decided to grab dessert at none other than our faveeeeee…… you can probably guess- CHEESECAKE FACTORYYYY!!!!!

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It was a bit of a wait, but well worth it. I am a firm believer of not going to chains when in a big city with unique options- but I might break the rules sometime for this one. The restaurant is located on top of the Macy’s tower with tables overlooking Union Square. We peaked out while waiting for our cheesecake and the view was tremendous. Plus, cheesecake factory. Ugh, too stinking good.

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On the way out DJ said to me as we passed the whole crowd waiting in line, “Too bad they ran out of cheesecake” and some guy overheard saying “Oh man!!!!!”. It was too funny, but I really hope this didn’t stop the guy from getting his cheesecake!

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We went back to the hotel and nommmed down on our Cheesecake (Oreo Dream Xtreme for DJ and White Chocolate Raspberry for me (and maybe watched a bit of Game of Thrones on my little iphone screen because we were both hard core craving it). Guys, this show though…

In the morning I ran a few miles and then we walked to Dottie’s True Blue Cafe, a famous breakfast spot in SF.

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The line was insaneee. I think we waited about an hour and a half before finally getting in.

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It is pretty small, not a lot of tables, and the service is super slow. If you go here the things to order are their baked pastries. We ordered full meals and they were ok, but crazy overpriced. We would have much preferred Sweet Maple any day. BUT their baked goods looked absolutely incredible, and the coffee was delishhh.

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DJ had their pancakes- he said they were aighhht, just not the best.

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I had an egg white omelette with lots of veggies and feta cheese. It was great- tasty as it comes, but it was the most expensive omelette I have EVER had. I do have to say, the jalapeno cornbread with pepper jelly was the highlight. I think I could have just ate that alone. I didn’t leave a crumb on my plate of that little guy. If you do find yourself at Dottie’s, it’s a must!

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Overall, it was a good meal, but Sweet Maple STILL takes the cake as the best breakfast/brunch spot in SF for us. We have yet to try Mama’s (which is supposed to be epic).

After breakfast, we shopped around Union Square for a bit!

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DJ suggested we go to Baker’s Beach (He always has the best ideas). We have actually not been to this beach since moving here. We were both craving Big Sur or Monterey for our getaway, and this helped us give a bit of a fix.

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We just hung out, climbing on the cliffs, sitting in the cool breeze, gazing upon the Golden Gate and serene bay and talked about everything. There are so many questions, and confusion, about what our next step in life is… about where we would want to move next, about what we still want to accomplish and experience while we are here, about the emotional rollercoaster we both have been on in the past year. We talked about how this is just a season- that we won’t always be seeing each other for a total of thirty minutes each week. But how long will this season last? I think we are both realizing as young twenty-somethings that life is not a clear linear path and rarely do plans actually happen as planned. I’m just thankful we have this journey to figure it out together. This was time we both needed, and I was so very thankful for it.

Hope you all had the best weekends!

Blog Birthdays:

Shooot, I am so late to these but a BIG, MASSIVE, happy birthday to

Samantha @ artofbeingfabulous on July 29th. Sam is nothing short of inspirational. I mean her blog name basically says it all: she has perfected the art of being fabulous! She has the best travel tips, recipes, fashion advice, and tons of great tips for overall well being. In a nutshell, her blog has everything you could need. So thankful for you and your sweet comments always, Samantha! BIG happy birthday to you, dear!

Heather @ Polyglotjot on July 30th. Guys! She is one of the very first bloggers I followed-  she shares everything from WIAW posts to life updates to her whole pregnancy, to amazing recipes and everything in between. Each post is AWESOME & leaves you mighty hungry! She is also just so genuine, and has became a dear friend. Happy birthday, Heather! I so love all our conversations ❤

xo ❤

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Monterey, CA- Big Sur Marathon! 

I am beyond pumped to share this post about the epic marathon weekend! I didn’t mention the marathon too much on my blog leading up to it because I didn’t know if I would be able to run the race with the new job’s schedule (we work a ton of weekends). BUT I was able to get race day off and lemme tell ya, I’m forever grateful for the beautiful memories that elapsed in that small time frame. I needed this weekend too- as ya’ll know I’ve never been more exhausted or stressed physically and emotionally than this last month-so this was pure therapy.

Last minute my mom (Momma Jill) arranged to fly in for the weekend since DJ couldn’t go to the marathon with his work schedule. However, the day before she flew out she was in the hospital diagnosed with a fractured foot. I insisted  that I would be fine going alone, but I’m selfishly pretty darn glad she was adamant about coming! After all, she is my good luck charm at races! She is one tough cookie, I tell ya what. (shhhhh she isn’t wearing her boot in a lot of pictures- I may not have been the best nurse by allowing that one).

When she arrived Friday evening we headed to Rootstock Wine Bar on Main Street Cupertino.

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We ordered some bruschetta to share and a couple glasses of wine. The last time she was here, Main Street Cupertino was still entirely under construction. She was blown away by how much it had evolved! We stopped into 85-degree bakery to visually digest the exotic, massive, and drool-worthy desserts before heading back to the apartment. I will try the calamari ink roll one of these days!

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We were both pooped and fell asleep pretty early (after some ice cream, of course). DJ had some time in the morning before he had to head into work so we went to Bill’s. Surprise, surprise! It’s basically becoming a weekly tradition. You can read all my reviews about it here, here, or here.

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After a fantastic breakfast, DJ zipped to work and we began our trek to Monterey for the marathon!!!! (I kept thinking back to my and DJ’s our anniversary celebration and it made me miss him lots! During the actual race I passed the place we stayed which was pretty fun).

 

One of my favorite parts about races is the Expo! There is always an exorbitant amount of energy and excitement (plus the SWAG is pretty great too).

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This expo was pretty small, held at the Portola Hotel and Spa. There were limited vendors, but with the expo’s location there was plenty to enjoy outside anyway. I laughed because in typical Northern California style they had wine samples rather than the CLIF Bar samples you would see at most! For those that want to run this marathon in the future, make sure you stop by the Expo to pick up your Bib #, a bus ticket for the hotel you are staying to the race starting line (there is no access otherwise), and your T-shirt, of course!

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After strolling the expo, my mom and I walked around downtown Old Monterey. This town is so sleepy and quaint, even with all the commotion of the race.

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We decided to follow this sign to go to the water. We were quickly drawn into the downtown boardwalk with colorful storefronts, tourist landmarks, and each passing restaurant passing out samples of their individualized “claim-to-fame” recipe of clam chowder. My mom and I sampled all of them and were shocked at, first, how delicious they all were, and second, how different each one tasted!

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I hadn’t seen the show Big Little Lies at this point, but my friend, Kelsey, is obsessed. I started watching it this week with a free month HBO trial and cannot stop. It’s so good.

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They call me ‘The Bird Whisperer’ in these parts

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Around 3 pm we were able to check into the hotel we were staying for the evening- Monterey Tides. I found this place pretty last minute (with not being SURtain if I could make the race) and chose it because it was one of the cheapest I could find on a booking site. We were blown away by how gorgeous this place was- I kept thinking there was some mix up because this honestly underpriced!

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The hotel attendant said that it may be a couple minutes, so we decided to enjoy some drinks while overlooking the sparkling Monterey waters. My mom and I even saw our first whale!!! It was quite SURendipitious that we were staying at this majestic place!

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The room was super nice with a beachy feel- Definitely what you would expect from a place named “Monterey Tides”.

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After dropping our stuff off it was time to head to dinner. In order to not fight driving and parking, we decided to uber to the famous Mediterranean Oasis, Epsilon.

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From the decor, to the friendly staff, to the unbeatable Greek cuisine- this place was superb on every.single. level.

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ATTENTION ALL CARB LOVERS: You need to hear this. I was fascinated with their bread and dip combo. The waitress explained the way they make their dip is by actually putting sourdough bread into a food processor with olive oil, garlic, and salt (perhaps a few other secret ingredients too). Right before she walked away she said, “Just dip that bread into that bread!”. I may have to try making this at home. Talk about a fantastic pre-race carb-load meal!

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And their hummus…. hands down, no questions asked- the BEST hummus I have ever had. My mom took the first bite and I could tell by the look on her face that it was going to be just that. It was smooth and creamy- absolute perfection.

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And whenever there is octopus on the menu……

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Marco Prime’s is still forever my favorite, but this was satiating. It had a grilled flavor and almost tasted like steak. MMMM mm.

We also had to delve into their greek salad, because duh

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My mom and I split the vegetarian combo plate. Combo plates were created for the indecisive individuals in this world, like myself, so I was ecstatic to see everything we were wanting to try coming on one plate. It had imam byaldi (the “priest fainted” vegetarian eggplant dish), falafel, and dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves with rice and herbs). It all surpassed any greek food I have ever had, but the eggplant dish was particularly out of this world!

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And one can never end a mediterranean feast without baklava. Ya’ll know I am a strong believer on having a sugar-laden dessert the night before a race. Good Heavens, I can’t even explain…

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We headed back to the hotel to watch the peaceful, perfect sunset.

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We were in bed by 8:30 pm and fell asleep almost instantly.

3:30 AM my alarm went off and it was time to race! I was giddy and energized. I downed a cup of coffee and grabbed my No-Cow bar and Boom Chicka pop bag for the bus ride to the race. My mom drove me to the drop off point to pick up the bus shuttle at Embassy Suites (only a couple miles from Monterey Tides).

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The bus ride was about forty-five minutes- 30 miles south from Embassy Suites to the starting line. The race was a straight shot back north for 26.2 miles. I made some friends during the ride, everyone swapped race stories, goal times, jobs, and hometowns. The camaraderie of the Big Sur runners was unlike other races I have been. We laughed about the fact that this bus ride felt super long and yet we were about to be retracing the trek in just a couple hours. The scenery was kept secret by the dark nightly veil of mother nature, so even if you tried to get a peak of the views out the bus window all you could see was piercing black.

When we finally arrived, we still had about a mile and a half walk to the start. I had no clue where I was, but I just followed the masses of people as they unloaded off the buses.

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Finally! The starting line came into view.

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It was crowded. I get it- the forest isn’t exactly conducive to ten-million porta-potties and 4,000 people, but holy smokes, I really felt like a sardine!

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People lined the paths with coffee in one hand and a banana in the other. I love races for the people too- racing brings together all types. #peoplewatching

They provided fruit, coffee, tea, and water at varying stations around the starting line. They also have a truck for you to drop your bag with warm up clothes or anything else you need before the race that they then drive to the finish line. I loved this system!!! You just put a sticker provided with your bib number in the bag. After the race it was clear where to pick up your belongings and overall a super smooth process.

Now, if you are a runner, you know the STRUGGLE of trying to time the bathroom appropriately with the start time. You don’t want to go too early, but you don’t want to be anxiously waiting too long when everyone else is lined up at the start.

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And then it was time to begin!!! My heart swelled with excitement, my stomach filled with butterflies, and after taking the last couple days off running I was biting at the bit to get going. Considering I hadn’t trained much for this one compared to my other marathons I was hoping to at least finish without an injury.

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We started out in three separate waves, I ran in the second; the weather was pleasantly cool and the air smelled like pine and cinnamon. If there wasn’t enough adrenaline already, Highway One greeted us with the most intoxicating views at every turn. Each picturesque scene of the landscape had a way of taking your breath away while simultaneously giving you a second wind.

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I’m quite SURtain this is one of the most magnificent places that exists on planet earth.

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During these races is when I feel most myself, where I feel that all is right in the world, and all my cares dissipate with every step.

We embarked the renowned Big Sur bridge at the halfway mark .

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They even had a pianist playing whimsical tunes dressed in full performance garb!

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Around mile 15 I like to start using Gu Gel (they provide it twice during the race). I have half a packet at about mile 15, 18, 22, and then 24. It works!

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To avoid the head winds, I drafted a few different people throughout the race. Drafting works well, but you have to be pretty secretive about it, or you’ll creep the person you are following the heck out. Let’s chat if you’ve never heard of this. It’s essential for this race and saves SO much energy!

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YesSUR!

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At mile 23 they handed out the best strawberries I have ever had. It was similar to eating pure sugar! I wish I had snagged a picture!

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All done!

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Thank you, Aunt Terry, for the congratulatory beads all the way from New Orleans!!!!

Race Results!

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This was far off my PR of 3:38, but they say to add 20 minutes to your PR time with how challenging the course is (13th most challenging in the world), so I’ll take it. Plus without training for it and the stops for photo ops, I was happy to break 4 hours!

At the end of the race they handed out boxes of muffins, pretzels, cookies, minestrone soup and Sierra Nevada Beer. After races I’m not very hungry for about an hour- so we walked around a bit, basked in the sun, and then decided to head out. At this point I decided I was starting to feel my stomach growl. Warning: Once the post-marathon hunger begins, it’s insatiable for about three days!

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My mom suggested we go back to the hotel we stayed at the night before for Brunch (it was only about 11 am at this point!). She had breakfast there in the morning after doing yoga and said they had a great menu.

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She did not lead us astray! Multigrain avocado toast with poached eggs and a watermelon feta salad helped refuel the carbs, protein, and was still light enough to not upset my somewhat turbulent stomach.

And of course, mimosas are necessary after every long race.

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We headed back to the apartment and eagerly awaited DJ to come home so we could go out for a Mother’s Day dinner, since we wouldn’t actually be able to celebrate on the day of!

I was SURprised that I was actually feeling pretty decent after the race. I usually am zonked out for about two days after, but I had that adrenaline still running through my veins!

We decided to go to LB Steakhouse on the Row. I had never been, but DJ said it was delish. We looked over the menu and both agreed it looked like a great place to dine!

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I’ve walked past LB a trillion times while on the row, and their faux cow skin lined chairs always grab my eyes!

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Isn’t she lovely?!

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My love ❤

We started with their Spanish octopus, which seemed harmless, until Mama J took a big bite of that pepper right on top…

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Her face went from surprise to a twisted, tortured expression in seconds. She was not just startled by the spiciness of the pepper, but rather in literal pain. I was confused by her reaction because she loves spicy food and can tolerate spice more than most people. (We ask for the “hot” food at Indian restaurants- if that gives you an idea). She flagged down the waiter and could barely talk. She reached for anything on the table to calm the fire overwhelming her mouth. He brought out milk and she said it was helping. I felt horrible, and jokingly said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”. I was also so confused how something they could serve could be that horrendously spicy. I picked up what was left of the pepper and out of curiosity touched it to my tongue. The small portion that I had touched to my tongue felt as though it blistered my tongue (and she ate the ENTIRE pepper). I can do spice with the rest of them, and this was not edible. It turned out there was a mix up- the restaurant meant to order the sweet haberneros, but rather served one of the hottest variations in the world. Let’s just say, this was something we laughed and literally cried about. I think I will forever have trust issues with peppers after this experience.

But the rest of the octopus was great! It sorta reminded me of pasta salad!

DJ ordered lobster bisque- not our favorite (‘Cause naturally I stole a couple sips), but it was still good.

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My mom ordered the seared scallops with misty artichokes and sweet harvest orange butter. I swapped her some of my salmon for a scallop (we classy), and not kidding- one of the greatest scallops ever. I think the only ones I have personally had that has topped it were Farallon’s!

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Steak and appropriately spicy pepper for Deeeej.

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Salmon for me. This really hit the spot. The salmon was perfection and nearly melted in my mouth.

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After dinner, well I guess more during dinner, we decided Cheesecake Factory’s cheesecake sounded like a perfect finish to a great weekend. We headed across the street and all put in our orders for cheesecake to go- Original for Mama J., Oreo Dream Xtreme for DJ, and Chocolate Hazelnut for myself. I was feeling adventurous and for some reason this flavor sounded so good. I can officially say it may be my new favorite. I can’t believe it doesn’t get more love! It has such a nice moosey texture mixed with the fudgey chocolate and sprinkles of coated hazelnut. I will be getting this one again!

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After savoring our Cheesecake, we headed to sleep. Monday, Mom J. had to leave at 4 am for the airport, and I was up at 5 for work. I was supposed to have Tuesday off (which I was looking forward to rest my legs), but I ended up having to work Monday-Wednesday. I think it’s by the grace of God I SURvived because I do not know how I made it through those shifts at work!

But I do have to mention- I worked with lumbar drains this week and it was one of my favorite days yet. I am getting more in the groove of actually being a neuroSURgical nurse, and while the learning curve is steeper than the hills of Big Sur, I am feeling more competent. I also passed the EKG exam I have been studying for the last couple weeks!!!! Hence, I was able to care for my first tele patient this week and loved it! This also means I am officially done studying in all my free time and I can catch up on your blogs- watch out- I’m about to blow up ya’lls notifications and I cannot wait… I can’t thank you all for your encouragement through this crazy adjustment in life.

Last- if anyone has any questions about the race feel free to leave a comment or contact me. I know lots of you are runners!

Oh, oh, oh! AND major congratulations to my other blog ladies- Tara at Runandlivehappy and Taralynn at SimplyTaralynn for both annihilating their half marathons!!!! ❤

Blog Birthdays in May:

Kimberlee at anotetohugette

Katy at katyslifestory

I absolutely adore these two lovely ladies. Their writing and stories are inspirational, and they have the kindest hearts. I hope you two have wonderful birthdays this month!

xo ❤

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What a Hoppy Easter!!!!

Happy Friday!!!

How’s it going? I hope all your Easters were egg-cellent!

Hospital orientation ended yesterday (WHERE DID THE MONTH GO?!). All we have now is one more entrance exam next week. This coming weekend is going to be the busiest yet- I work Friday- Sunday with one eight and two twelves. Right now I am taking a quick break from the studies to whip out a post!

Before I jump into the recap I have something tragic to share………..

The legendary red salad bowl is no longer with us.

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I realized that the “post 12-hour shift” time frame is very dangerous. Not only did I manage to break perhaps one of my most treasured belongings, but I also set a paper towel roll on fire, went to the store and realized I forgot my purse when about to check-out, and I used the word “one” instead of “won” incorrectly in my Friyay faves post. #Gotocollege.

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Does anyone else go into a hot panic when they find errors in their published posts?!? It happens to me every time!

BUT, in other news! I made the last Blue Apron meal in the delivery Friday, and it was out-of-this-world YUM! (PS. if you want a $30 discount off go to the bottom of my About page!).

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Also, that same day DJ and I were egged!!!…………….

Tell me this just isn’t the most clever Easter gift of all time!

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Has anyone had Cheryl’s cookies?! They are my favorite sugar/buttercream frosted cookies out there. It was the perfect treat after a long day. I also needed to carb up for a big run in the morning!

Saturday

I mentioned in my post last week how I was going to attempt 22 miles to see if I can physically finish the Big Sur marathon on the 30th. I hadn’t been training too seriously considering I didn’t know if my work schedule would allow me to run it. But the race happens to fall on a weekend when I don’t work!

The training run actually went surprisingly okay! I am getting giddy about the actual race! DJ isn’t able to make it with work, so I was planning on driving there solo. Howeverrrrr, my mom called me yesterday to say that she is actually able to fly in! EEEK! This made me happy to near tears. I haven’t seen her since Christmas and to have that support for the marathon means the world.

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And naturally, after those 22 miles, I have an abundance of blossoming flowers to share!!

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Saturday evening I had the second portion of the Blue Apron meal. Since the baseball season started, DJ has been getting home later- more about midnight now. I spent the evening cleaning the house, doing laundry, and getting organized for the crazy week that was about to ensue. But I had Sunday to look forward to because………..

EASTER EASTER EASTER! What a glorious day. HE IS RISEN!

This Easter was quite unusual for DJ and I. We usually celebrate in Ohio, but for the first time we were here on our own with no family- just the two of us. I actually was pretty dang emotional (lol, what’s new). It all made me super nostalgic for Easters past- thinking of the Sunday services with my family, the far too competitive Easter-egg hunts I had with my sister over the years, having leisurely afternoon spring runs on those Ohio trails, and visiting DJ’s family in the afternoon (oh, and of course, devouring Mom L’s strawberry pretzel salad). I just missed everyone horribly- to a new level since I’ve moved out here. But I was thankful we had our Church family to spend some time with in the morning. That helped a ton. Our church had a fun photo booth, Boba tea, and the best people you could imagine worshipping our Lord and Savior ❤

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DJ went to Church to help set up at 5:00 am and I slept in a bit (Lord knows I needed it). After service DJ napped and I studied. It was raining outside, so it was the perfect day for naps and studies.

DJ has been fighting off allergies something horrible and wasn’t feeling pictures- but I still had to somehow document the Easter Sunday outfit, right?!

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I was itching to cook, but I simply didn’t have time with how much work I had to do for the week to come. We decided to go out instead and make it a date night. We haven’t seen each other much at all lately and our date nights just happen when we can snatch them now.

We settled on Alexander’s Steakhouse. We had been holding out for a special occasion, and I’d say there is no more perfectly special occasion than celebrating our Lord’s triumphant victory. We needed this romantic, quiet dinner to catch up on the last weeks happenings and to just be together. It was lovely, and I’ve reflected on that dinner every time I start to miss him throughout the week.

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Alexander’s is known for having some of the highest quality steak in the world called “Wagyu”. DJ didn’t try it this time, but it’s such delicate meat that they actually wrap it in linen. I found this hilarious.

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THE BREAD! Once again—-sprinkled with sea salt. Those little croissant things were our favorite.

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I decided to try a Himachi shot after scouring YELP for the “must haves”. It was good! It’s basically like taking a shot of sushi (no alcohol or anything- just fish and other stuff that I’m not sure… haha). I make it sound terribly appetizing, huh? I’m not sure I would go out of my way to order it again, but it was definitely worth the experience.

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And whenever octopus is on the menu……..

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This octopus was fantastic. But STILL, nothing tops Marco Prime’s spanish octopus in Florida. NOTHING.

We also tried their bone marrow after having that fantastic bone marrow at Orchard City Kitchen. If you’ve never tried bone marrow, you must. It is one of the most savory, umami flavors of all time.

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DJ ordered a Filet that he gobbled up real quick, so I’ll assume it was pretty great.

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I tried their featured seafood dish for the halibut.  MMMM mmm. So good.

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And we cannot forget the sides….Lobster truffle Mac & Cheese and Creamed Spinach. That lobster truffle mac and cheese may be one of my top five favorite foods I have eaten in my WHOLE life.

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Last, but certainly not least, we couldn’t walk away without dessert. We had their Matcha Cheesecake and, holy canoli, I must go back for more. DJ said he wasn’t going to have any because he was too full…. when he took his first bite he couldn’t stop. (JJ!!!!! We may need to stop in here for dessert when you visit!).

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But wait, it doesn’t stop there….

They brought out complimentary chocolates because when you give people free chocolate you win their heart. That’s why Olive Garden is so successful- the Andes mints (ok, the breadsticks may have a touch to do with it too).

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Oh, hello, complimentary cotton candy! I did not see this one coming. What is it with all the free cotton candy lately (reference to LA trip with my girls).

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That concludes our Easter Sunday

OH..before I forget! My sister-in-law’s Corgi, Pool Noodle, is in a big contest and is in ninth place! (Maybe you remember Noodle from the Christmas post?!). Anyway- I thought to myself, “Who better to ask than my amazing blogging Fam?!” If you have a moment PLEASE help her win! This is a huge deal for her little fur baby!

https://wyng.com/campaign/824307/entry/7148320

How are you all? Anyone feeling taxed lately?

Counting down to the first free day when I can sit down and catch up on your blogs too

Blog Birthdays:

Happy birthday to the make-up queen Sarah from Sarah’s Cup of Beauty on April 21st!!!! I’m so thankful for you, lady! ❤

xo ❤

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The Last Couple Weeks…

Last night after a 12- hour shift I pulled into our apartment complex, parked the car, took the elevator up to our floor and walked into our home.

“How was it?”

That was all it took. The tears just flowed. And flowed some more.

DJ jumped up from the couch and just held me.

The end of my first week of in-hospital nursing came to a close. With it came feelings of incompetence like none I have ever experienced. Those feelings of inadequacy slowly chipped away at my confidence, as though carving out pieces of my soul. After three shifts, I was broken.

I knew this was coming, mentally. I have heard it from countless other new nurses before. I won’t let that happen, I lied to myself.

Yes, this past week was perhaps one of the most emotionally draining of my life. I knew orientation would be a challenge- but I truly don’t know how I’m going to finish everything by the deadline of April 19th. We have countless skills we have to perform in-hospital, but when caring for patients, it’s hard enough to find a bathroom break, let alone demonstrate how to set up a chest tube, how to clean a tracheostomy, how to insert an NG tube, how to change a CVC dressing, set up a lumbar drain, etc.

On top of that is the physical exhaustion- the 4:30 wake up calls, the intense modules to complete on my “day off”, the desire to keep a home running for DJ and I to live in, including keeping groceries stocked and the laundry done.

But perhaps one of the most challenging aspects right now stems from the deep love I have for the people I am caring for. All that above, it’s hard to do, but oh man, it is so worth it when I can care for someone so intimately and make a difference in their lives. But out of this love I have for caring for my patients comes a desire to be freaking good at caring for them. And I’m not. I have no idea what I’m doing right now, and I am beyond frustrated with myself. One of our educators told us multiple times that we have to be forgiving with ourselves. Now I totally understand what she meant.

I forget to chart so many things. I lay awake panicking because I can’t remember if I did A, B, AND C, or if I only did A and B. I drive to work nauseas because I’m so terrified.

But it’s normal, they say.

Do I regret this choice or decision? No.

Do I wonder if I have what it takes? Yes.

Do I have to remind myself multiple times a day that God has a specific plan for me here? Yes.

Is this the first chapter of my story that has a beautiful ending where I can confidently say that I am a good nurse? I really hope so.

Ya’ll know that I’m pretty candid around here. Yes, I LOVE to make the world’s-worst jokes, and I LOVE to laugh-but I will let you know when it’s been tough tough tough. When things get stressful, I tend to go into hermit mode and cut myself off from the world. But in this past couple weeks I have worked up a serious appetite to blog. I feel like it always helps me put things back into perspective. When you can write about a situation, it gives it a tangibility and control at your finger tips. You decide what is highlighted, and ultimately you decide the perspective you have and the learning you gain from the experience. That’s what writing does for me, and it’s cathartic and healing in an essence of its own.

And although this week was so hard, I know that it will get better. I am in a learning season, and sometimes learning is one of the most trying obstacles we can face in life. Why? Because learning requires a stretch of our will, minds, energy, patience, and that is usually uncomfortable. But the awesome truth about the trials of learning is the accompaniment of growth. Lessons aren’t learned in complacency, but rather in tribulation. As is growth. So for that growth I am thankful, I need this stage to help me blossom. I need it to refine me and my character. I need it to meet new friends, lead people to Jesus, and carry out a purpose for which I have been called. One day this stage will allow me to encourage others that walk through it too.

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(Romans 5:3) Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

And in the mean time, I refuse to solely survive. I want to live, I want to thrive. I want to learn as much as I can and not let every negative, exhausting, emotionally draining situation define me or my perspective.

I also don’t write this for pity or anything- it’s simply to have a baseline for myself moving forward so I can see that growth that takes place! I know things will get better, and I hate to be negative, but it’s also important for me to be candid about these things for my own reflection! 

Hope I didn’t give anyone an extra case of the Monday blues! 🙈

Sooo, without further adieu. I would love to share some highlights of our week…

I am officially running the Big Sur Marathon!!! I haven’t officially announced it here because I didn’t know if my work schedule would allow it. To be honest, I haven’t trained much, so it may be a bit rough. If anything, I will see some spectacular views! I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself to get a great time or even finish it if my body says, “heck nah”, so we will see. I did complete an 18-miler with two minor breaks on Friday while studying on the treadmill, so that’s not too bad! This weekend I don’t work Saturday, so I might go for a 22-miler while I study! Anywho…. here are my nature-y pics from other runs during the week!

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DJ and I still haven’t seen each other much during the week. Baseball season is gearing up, so he has been at work till about 10/11 pm every evening including many weekend nights. However, Saturday March 25th, he had a lunch break (where he could actually leave the office). We met at Bill’s because where else?! He ordered the french toast croissant and I ordered the greek omelette again because I’m addicted. We missed ya, Mom and Gordie! (If you missed our awesome weekend and the full review of Bill’s Cafe, check it out here).

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For dinner these past couple weeks, I have done crockpot ribs and a combination of Hello Fresh/Blue Apron, and salads. Blue Apron > Hello Fresh by a LANDSLIDE. I used Hello Fresh because we had a promo giftcard. It was promo no-no. I mean the stuff wasn’t horrible, but it was not Blue Apron. Blue Apron makes me feel like this in the kitchen…

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NOTHING ELSE DOES THAT! 

Oh, and here are the ribs. Made with none other than the SJ Giants BBQ sauce 😉 #REPRESENT

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This meal below was easily one of my favorite Blue Apron meals of all time!!! It was a mozzarella pizza with fresh oregano, spinach, and green bell peppers. YUM. The dough was perfection too.

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Traditionally, spring has been my least favorite season. But these California blooms are poppin’!

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BEST part of the day right here. Circa 5 am. Time with Jesus, coffee, Ezekiel bread/yogurt/strawberries.

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Oh hey look it’s a nurse! Don’t let the uniform fool you. My only recommendation for anything currently is to eat chocolate and take a Tylenol.

***Unless you have liver issues. Do not take more than 4g in a 24 hour period.***

Have to protect my butt now that I have a thing called a license.

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I’ve tried to change the scenery of my study areas and resorted to hanging out in our apartment’s community area. It’s so cute, I don’t know why I haven’t done this more in the past. And I’m lovin’ those pillows.

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On one of my days “off” (there is ALWAYS something to study and do or a class to attend on our days “off”, hence the quotations), I returned a ton of the business casual clothes I didn’t end up wearing for our two big business cas. weeks of orientation. I decided to take a quick stroll around Santana Row just to be outside for a bit. So many amazing memories here. There’s this memory and this memory and this memory……. It made me happy and nostalgic all at the same time.

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Thursday night we had our church group. This is the first time I have been able to make one since the group started up three weeks ago. DJ actually was able to request to leave early and led the group for the evening. Such a stud. My good friend Danielle (from that insane hike), made Lamingtons- a traditional Australian dessert. Holy Maloly they were so good. I can’t even explain. All good things come from Australia.

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She also made Vegemite/Veggie/Bacon and cheese scrolls- Which are seriously manna from heaven, and all people need to try these before they die. Danielle is also one of the greatest bakers ever, and I think Jesus blessed me a little extra with her as a friend.

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Last night was the first date night DJ and I had since my last post (at the Socialight on March 24th). I came home from work around 8 pm emotionally exhausted and hangry as mentioned above. ***I also have to make a side note that DJ cleaned the whole house, did dishes and laundry on his first day off in a couple weeks. He is amazing.***

Anyways, there was a very specific meal I was craving- and that was Lazy Dog’s Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna over Cauliflower mashed potatoes in a curry coconut cream sauce. Luckily, DJ hadn’t ate a huge dinner so we headed over to Main Street for a late one. (Also what better place to go post 12-hour work day than Lazy Dog?)

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This was the highlight of my week. Just spending these precious, small moments with DJ. (He doesn’t like me taking his picture, so I sneak them and then post them on the internet while he’s not looking 😉 ). And then he’ll read this and I’ll get a lecture. It’s like clockwork.

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And forever, the PEET’s mug will host our Sunday mornings.

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So, today was PALM SUNDAY!!!! I needed my church family badly. They encouraged me greatly. Also, in this worship service today, I felt so wrapped in love. There is a specific reason for this… it’s amazing the way God works.

Going back a few years… the day after my dad passed away in high school, I went to church. I felt like going through the “normal” motions was just how I coped. I remember the first song that played in our worship service was “Hosanna”. I couldn’t choke out the words but my heart was singing them. It was laden with emotion and has been for me ever sense. It’s weird though, it doesn’t bring with it feelings of immense sadness and loss necessarily. It brings back the reminder that the Lord is my comfort in my darkest moments. Our church that DJ and I attend now has their own worship music from C3 Church’s elevation worship- they rarely play more “mainstream” worship that most churches know. However, this morning, while I was feeling downcast and perhaps more stressed than I have in my life, the worship team started playing this song. It just brought me such comfort- reminding me that God is my place of rest, my Prince of Peace. I felt like Jesus was reminding me that He will be with me through all of this.

DJ had to work today, but was back home for dinner (officially an anomaly).

For dinner tonight I had some leftover Seared Sesame Ahi tuna from leftover’s last night in my salad with tons of avocado and white cheddar puff pastries from Blue Apron. DJ wanted his leftover ribs.

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I spent the rest of today studying and basically trying to get organized (contrary to what the picture might say).

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The work week starts again bright and early at 5:00 am (which now feels like sleeping in compared to my hospital days). I have modules and classroom work the beginning of the week and 12-hour shifts starting Thursday.

I am so very sad that blogging has been put on the big ole’ back burner. Once orientation is over the load should lighten up a bit. I send ya’ll so much love.

xo ❤

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The Work Grind- One Week Strong!

Hey ya’ll!!! I just got back from work, ate a gargantuan salad, and am sitting down to unwind for the evening. Today is my day off working out- so rather than working out I am using this time to whip up a blog post! My mind is just buzzz buzz buzzzzing! Rather than jump into the studying and work I need to do tonight, I want to take a moment to reflect and write to calmmmm down.

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We left off last time after my first day. Ohhhh my lanta, I cannot get over how much information I have been struck with in a single week. This orientation period is going to be non-stop. By the end of the next three weeks, I will be checked off on competencies I learned through nursing school as well as new ones they have assigned us (like dealing with lumbar drains and neuro. specific interventions). I can hardly wrap my brain around it! 😜

My first thought when I saw what skills we would be doing was Wow, how cool. And my second thought was, Wait…. I have to actually do that now... needless to say, the terror began setting in! I haven’t performed these skills in nearly a year (due to the length of time it took me to get approved for my exam), and some of them I didn’t even have a ton of practice with in the clinical setting. On top of that we have hours of orientation training modules outside of our hospital hours, exams to study for as part of our competency testing, and hospital training for the general on-boarding of staff. Basically- I’m just sayin’ it’s gonna be a non-stop train until about May when my initial orientation competency check is done. I may have next to zero free time, especially starting next week, but that’s okay. It’s so worth it and I’m ecstatic to finally be doing what I love. And I am relishing in the review and learning process. I learned more this past week than I probably learned in half a semester of nursing school. It’s nuts! It feels amazing to be a “student” again… but this time I’m not paying to learn, I’m being paid to learn! How neat!

Part of the reason I love blogging is I can look back and see what I was feeling and thinking at a certain point in time and see the progress since. Right now I am feeling totally incompetent, eager, excited, and exhausted- but also exhaustively blessed. The entire staff is eager to help us learn, and I can’t wait to see what skills I will be capable of in just a couple months from now. Every individual I have met has been honest-to-gosh superb. Like I said in my last post, the culture created by the hospital is unlike anything I have ever experienced.

So a typical day from Monday- Friday sort of looked like this:

5:00-6:00 am: Get ready, have breakfast (yummy deliciousness of Ezekiel bread/yogurt/reduced sugar craisins/strawberries & coffee)

6:00 am: Leave the apartment and beat the traffic (with my business casual clothing that I now own). Ha! In NoCal, if you leave the house at 7 going north, you are guaranteed at least an hour of traffic if you are going anywhere over twenty minutes away. I figure by leaving the house at 6 am, I can get to my destination without traffic and be more productive during the waiting period. (I just sat in the parking lot or at Peet’s coffee to get stuff done!)

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6:10-8:00am: At the beginning of the week before we had any assignments due I was able to do some blogging, order bridesmaid dresses for my best friends’ weddings (HOLLA!), and get other random stuff done. By the end of the week I was cramming for different exams/reviewing our wealth of information/trying to keep up!

8:00-5:00 pm: Work work work work work!

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The first day the director looked at us all and said point blank, “This will be the hardest year of your life.”

While initially I thought, Hmm, not sure you can top sophomore year of nursing school… ,

I then thought…

BRING IT!

Our first week (and the first part of this week) was all the “logistical” house-keeping information, taking “baseline” exams to see where we stand, orienting the units, and going through different skills and lectures. It has been intense, but I wake up excited to get started every single day- even though it’s sorta a challenge getting out of bed. I just think of my coffee- the most powerful motivator in all the land.

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For lunch most days, I pack a No Cow bar, an apple, some grapes, carrots, a couple handfuls of boom-chicka pop, hummus, and almonds. A couple of the days where we had a cafeteria I stopped in and made a massive salad with grape leaves, roasted red peppers, hummus, and all the veggies. YUM!

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Let’s take a quick tick and just chat. So first week, right? I had too many embarrassing moments it was CRAY! For instance, I somehow had gum stuck to my jacket on my way into the hospital for the first time. Luckily, someone stopped me and let me know (thank goodness for kind people). I also just said some silly things that make me hot in the face when I reflect upon them, dropped an absurd number of miscellaneous items (including my sanity). To sum it up- I was a hot mess. It’s fine though- my coworkers are all so sweet, and I’m pretty sure everyone’s heads were spinning too fast for anyone to notice! Also, my sister calmed me down on the days I was feeling wayyy in over my head! Hermana to the rescue.

Oh, and the 8am- 5pm is just for orientation and classroom training. When I start my shifts I will be 7am to 7pm! (Then halfway through it flips and I will go to night shifts!).

5:00-6:00pm: Sit in traffic, wanting to pull out my hair.

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6:00-6:10: Eat something- I am ravenous when I get home after the long day. I usually have something light like eggs & hummus or spoonfuls of PB2 with carrots or PROTES chips.

6:10-7:10pm: Workout. Trust me, most days I have wanted to do nothing but come home and plop on the couch. But the minute I get outside and start to run or do an Insanity workout I have a sudden renewed energy to get me through the rest of the evening! It also gives me that rush of adrenaline to lift my spirits after fighting the traffic and ease the road rage.

I also love this time to snap some photos. Entering into this new time of life, I am determined to find the beauty in EVERY single day. When I was in nursing school I had this mentality of just doing what I needed to in order to get by. My phrase was always, “I just have to keep my head above water”. Going into this next stage, which will be comparable in the stress/busyness arena, I want to make sure I find the beauty and appreciate that beauty that surrounds me even when I feel like things are just hard! I quite literally have to stop and smell the roses 😉  I have a feeling my patients will be that piece of beauty for me many days ❤

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7:10-8:00 pm: Shower then dinner!!! Since DJ and I have been married, dinner time has been the one part of the day that we give each other our undivided attention. With his new job, he doesn’t get home from anywhere around 8 to 10pm. I eat dinner on my own while usually playing Grey’s Anatomy or KUWTK to keep me company while I down my food (woah- that sounds so pathetic, but I promise it’s not so bad!). Last week I was on my loaded sweet potato kick (yes, still obsessed), and this week I have craved giant salads with tons of veggies, chipotle black bean burgers, hummus, and balsamic vinegar dressing!

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Also- I used to have a recipe posted for this, but I’m not sure where it ran off to. I’m gonna hunt it down soon!

Back to the dinner thing… I’m realizing we have officially passed that threshold into a new stage of life with us both trying to build our careers. Our ebb and flow of the day is changing drastically, all for good reasons, it’s just going to take getting used to. It naturally makes the time we have together all that more treasured. I’m also infinitely thankful for this past year and a half we have had to create endless precious memories and make sure our marriage is on super solid ground before this craziness ensued.

Some days he waits until he gets home (yes that late!) to eat dinner. I try to make sure there is something in the fridge for him. Last week it was salmon, farro, and veggies. This week is crockpot ginger peach chicken with rice, and later this week I am making crockpot ribs! I prepped it all Sunday so that it was good to go for the rest of the week-I don’t have tons of time when I get home in the evenings, so crock pot meals will be our best friends for a bit! I also placed about half of the crockpot meal into labeled freezer bags and for future times that DJ might get home before me, so he can just throw one in the microwave.

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8-9pm: Work on misc. tasks that need to be done and work orientation training online.

9 to 10pm: Finish cleaning up the house so it’s tidy, make some overnight oats for DJ to have in the morning. He has been on an OO kick since the Daniel Fast! It’s hilarious to me that something we discovered during a “fast” has become one of his favorite breakfast foods. He also said I need to post my overnight oats recipe, so I may just have to do that!

After that, I get everything together for work, eat an ice cream cone (my mint chocolate chip phase has gone back to cookie dough), and plop into bed to read HP hoping to fall asleep before 10:20. DJ usually comes home right as I’m getting into bed, so I make sure to give him a hug before I hit the hay. I think we maybe saw each other for a total of twenty minutes from Monday to Friday last week- and that’s being generous!

BUTTTTTT……….

FRIYAY DATE NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Oook, I may be getting ahead of myself. We both were POOPED come Friday. I seriously could not peel myself off the couch. So we decided to make Friyay Date night into Saturyay date night.

We tried out this restaurant in Campbell called The Socialight. It was one of the most unique menus I have ever seen (slightly reminded me of options that would be on Orchard City Kitchen’s Menu).

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I was obsessed with the inner decor. I told DJ if I ever owned a restaurant this is what it would look like. One side was lined with wine coolers, and the other side was a sports bar feel with hanging globe lights down the center. It was the perfect mix of class, elegance, casual, and chic!

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Like I said, the menu was fascinatingly eclectic! DJ and I tried as an appetizer their salmon sashimi with avocado and wakami salad served with shrimp chips (my mom used to make these chips at home when we were younger, so this flashed me back to my childhood!).

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DJ ordered their fried chicken and raved about how tasty it was.

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I ordered their vegetarian Indian Paneer with caulfilower confite and yogurt glaze. It wasn’t bad, but I was a bit disappointed. And the service was epically slow- (we were warned about that on YELP!).


Sunday we went to church.


 After, I meal-prepped and worked all day on orientation assignments. The hardest thing I think about this new job is the feeling of having to say “no” to so much else outside of it. I am undeniably a people pleaser, so when I have to say no I almost feel like I’m doing something wrong, or selfish. I won’t be able to volunteer as much at church as I used to be, and I’m not able to hangout with friends like I used to either. I guess my biggest fear is that people won’t understand- that they will resent me for it. But my mom reminded me that this is God’s calling on my life, and there is nothing selfish in pursuing that. I’ll still be serving, just in a different way. All I want to be able to do is give my everything to this year, learn as much as possible, and take advantage of this residency as much as I can. I want to be the best nurse I can possibly be. I want to be able to give my patient the best care possible, and that is going to come at a sacrifice in this present era of my growth. I don’t mind the sacrifice, I just hope I don’t lose others in the process. Mom L reminded me that those that are truly friends will be supportive and there at the end of it all. It’s true too, I just have to realize change inevitably does bring change in other areas. 

Ok, jumping off my soap box!

Below is a picture of my drive into work today. This was my little piece of beauty. There was water surrounding me on all sides as I drove across the bridge.

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ALSO- quick highlight- the lecturer made a pun that I just can’t keep to myself. The best part is I don’t think he even realized it….. but while referring to a colleague, he said, “She’s a cardiac nurse at heart”. BAHAHHAHAHA.

I really want to open up some conversation with you guys- I miss having time to read all the blogs and keep up. I’m gonna try to find a way to fit it all in because goodness gracious I miss it too much! But for now let me just get some feedback…

  • Anyone else navigating a new stage of life?
  • What has been the highlight of your day/week?

Real quick: HAPPY BIRTHDAY (on the 27th) to my rockstar of a mom (Mom J)! I LOVE YOU! 🎉😘 

ALSO- I’m so thankful for this community if I don’t say it enough 💕

xo ❤

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Week(end) recap & First Day on the Job!

Happy Mondayyyyy!!!!!!!

Maybe your Monday has been like this….

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Or, perhaps, like this…

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Based on the amount of caffeine I’ve needed to support my 2.5 hours of sleep and first day of work (hence the 2.5 hours of sleep), my Monday has been like this…

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I will recap how today went a little bit later. But for now I will give a short little recap of our week/weekend.

Last week I had to finish up last minute things on the checklist to get ready for work. On Wednesday night we met our friends (Danielle, I went on the hike with ,and her husband Matt) for sushi.

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We just love hanging out with them. Except they are forever cooler than us because they have Australian accents!

This might be my new favorite sushi place in the area. I love everything about the ambiance, and the sushi was superb!

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DJ ordered their lobster tempura roll and I may have snuck a few extra bites when he wasn’t looking… because YUM!

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I ordered a bit of a unique dish-but  I cannot wait to order it again! It is called the “Feel Free and Fresh Roll”- this is a cucumber wrapped roll with salmon, yellowtail, white fish, crab and avocado topped with creamy ponzu, apply pear, and tobiko. It was the most refreshing roll I have ever had. It is hearty too- with all the good protein from the fish. The whole thing was just a winner, and a new fave. Don’t be surprised if you see this little guy poppin’ up more around these parts 😉

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Thursday I went on a nice long run outside. I snagged this picture without realizing I was stepping in a beehive. WHOOPS! No worries- no stings, but it was a close call. I probably looked hilarious to the cars passing by as I flailed in a million directions while doing a furious pat-down to make sure no little devils were on me!

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I also went to Santana Row while running around getting last minute things for the job. H & M is a winner for business casual! I also finally found a great hair salon that doesn’t cost an arm & a leg… it only costs a hair!!! LOLOLOL. Ok- come on, that was one of my better ones, eh?!

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Thursday night I made another Blue Apron meal for DJ!! I have had SO many people ask me about Blue Apron, so I reached out to them to see if I could get a discount for my readers! If you go to my About page, I have link for $30 off your order! This service is a life saver- especially on busy days, and you will learn tons about cooking and how to use a vast array of different ingredients in the process!

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This night we made Oaxaca Plantain Tortas with sautéed shallots and red peppers. I didn’t know what to expect, and I wasn’t sure how DJ was going to respond to them, but he gobbled them right up! The combination of ingredients in BA always surprise me, but they always work!

After dinner we went on a nice walk together. Something I miss about our Indiana days were the walks we took after dinner when the weather was nice. Life is getting crazy, DJ isn’t returning home until 7:30/8 every night now (but he loves his job!), and soon I’ll be leaving before he even gets home (Get used to working that microwave, baby!). But it makes us appreciate the time we do have together, and reminds us to stop to smell the flowers 😉

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FRIYAY= ST. PATTYS DAY!

Ya’ll know I get wayyyy too worked up about any holiday. Mom L and Gordie sent us these gorgeous flowers as a thank you for the weekend, but also as a Happy St. Pat’s day. Now if that’s not permission to get into the spirit, I don’t know what is!!!

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ALSO, I am convinced that I have a sprinkle of Irish in me because I have freckles. And Mackenzie is a somewhat Irish name, right? It has an “M” and a “C” soooooo…………… I’m basically a leprechaun.

DJ rolled his eyes about 290359 times at me during the night when I said, “Kiss me, I’m Irish!”

He denies that I have even a smidgeon of Irish in my heritage.

I’m coming for ya Ancestry.com

But for real, who doesn’t get a serious case of FOMO if they aren’t Irish on St. Paddy’s?

Anywho. Ain’t gonna let the DNA keep me away from the ST. PADDYS DAY!

I had to make sure that we had our “Irish pub fix”. DJ and I have never “celebrated” this together before, but I didn’t want to miss the chance to take advantage.

Where better to go than Historic Murphy Avenue in Sunnyvale?

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We never knew this area even existed, but it has a street lined with darling lights, fabulous restaurant options, and interesting, eye-grabbing shops. We will certainly be back here to explore more!

In doing my “Yelp” research, I found that The Oxford is great for your St. P’s fix.

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To really get in the spirit, I decided to get an Oxford Mule (their main drink). I liked the ginger a lot, but I’m not gonna lie- I missed my Friday-date-night glass of red wine!

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Still good though, especially if you like Moscow Mules. Then again, this is the only one I’ve ever tried so I have nothing to compare it to.

This place is a fusion of all types- but I would say it’s retro london with a taste of modern industrial architecture (but maybes that’s just English style?).

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For dinner we were placed at their outfacing island. I loved this because we felt like we had the best of both words, half in and half out of the restaurant.

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It was challenging getting good pictures under the dim lighting, but I gave it my best Irish-girl shot. We started with the Monterey Squid with char-grilled squid, arugula, tomatoes, radish, & parsley relish. Every time a menu has octopus or squid as an app I basically have to order it. Why you say? Because the spanish octopus I had at Marco Prime in Marco Island was the greatest thing on the planet, and I will do anything to have that taste linger on my tongue once more. To have Spanish Octopus grace me with it’s presence……. Yes, I am the Shakespeare of food, how kind of you to notice. Anywho, this did not even come close to that level of flavor. On to the next squid..

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DJ ordered their Lamb Sliders. He devoured these little suckers right quick, so I’ll take it he enjoyed them. Orrrr he was trying to avoid conversation with me. We will go with the former.

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Now- I’m super bummin’ that I didn’t get a great picture of this dish because it was AH-MAY-ZING. Allow me to present chermoula eggplant with roasted eggplant, saffron rice, spiced yogurt, and cherry tomato crush. I don’t know what they put in that yogurt sauce- but good heavens, there are no words. DJ even said he couldn’t believe how good it was. I downloaded a saffron yogurt recipe and plan on trying to re-invent this in the future.

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DJ and I walked around Historic Murphy path after swearing we would be coming back in the near future. It was hopping since it is stacked with pub after pub after pub.
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Saturday, I got a nice long training run in on the treadmill while reading HP (currently on the third book, and I use it as motivation to get everything done during the day so I can read #HPaddict), did the household chores, and waited for DJ to get home from work.

At this point in the weekend I was feeling ancy mcnancy (Not making another Irish joke- I’m done, I promise, maybe). I was ridden with anxiety knowing I was starting up work on Monday. I wasn’t running to God’s truth and scripture much during the week, and naturally the anxiety was consuming me.

But I’m telling ya, God truly will renew our soul and relieve our anxiety, we just have to come to Him (1 Peter 5:7). I flipped open to John 14, the next chapter I was going to read going through the book of John, and literally the first verse said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

And then a few verses later in vs. 26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

He doesn’t give us a peace like the world gives- a peace that’s fleeting, a peace that is contingent upon circumstances, a peace that is dependent upon our emotions. The peace Christ has for us is lasting and sure. It is a peace that we can use as weapon when life isn’t comfortable (and it’s not a lot of the time). We can find joy through this peace in His name, despite anything that comes our way. My anxiety lessened when He worked on my heart and my perspective. His still, beautifully familiar voice (I haven’t made time for in my chaos) spoke to me and stopped the world from spinning off it’s axis-“I’ve got you” He said. He reminded me of His love and His promises which gave my heart utter, perfect, heavenly peace.

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DJ and I went on a walk when he came home. We went to Main Street Cupertino and then idly strolled other side streets. I savored each step, because I don’t know how this next chapter will look for us moving forward.

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DJ and I had a late snacky-type dinner of cheese and crackers (We have ate SOOO many cheese and crackers this week, it’s comical)…..but we still had a bit of room for more food around 8 pm. We decided to go to Rootstock, a place we had been wanting to go together for a while.

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They have an awesome bruschetta menu. We split the bruschetta (smoked salmon FTW), and I finally had my glass of red wine that I was sad I veered away from the day before.

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Sunday we went to church and then I finished up last minute errands. I made sure all my documents were good to go, and I even got a big girl purse to store everything from Target!

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For dinner we had salmon, edamame, and saffron rice leftover from The Oxford (There was tons).

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And today was the first day on the job!!!! I am wearing my Ann Taylor thrifted shirt that I bought a couple months ago if it looks familiar 😉

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GUYS- I LOVE THIS JOB! I love love love love love love love it. I am fatigued beyond words, but I love my colleagues (instant friends right there), I love my hospital, I love their mission, I love that I am only a couple weeks away from meeting my first patients as a real RN, and I am absolutely elated. The first day could not have gone better. Even on ZERO sleep, it was perfect.

I woke up (or more correctly, rolled out of bed) at 5:00 am- chugged a cup of coffee, a protein bar, & left the house by 6. The whole day the environment radiated non-pompous professionalism, compassion, joy, and genuine care for us as residents and for the patients of the hospital. Although it was mostly just logistical stuff, I truly think I gathered a great feel for the atmosphere, the expectations, and the type of program I am in. Lemme tell ya, I can’t wait to go back tomorrow. My fears have certainly been mitigated, and all I feel in this exhausted moment is blessed. I can’t wait to get on my floor so soon!

The rest of this week is orientation- same old, getting up at 5 getting home at 7 ish and then next week I have a similar schedule until I start 12 hour day shifts the first week of April. After that I transition into nights. I am actually excited about nights because I can’t sleep when I know I have to wake up early- I get all nutty about missing my alarm and stay awake like a raccoon. So rather than not sleeping nights & days, I just won’t be sleeping nights! As though this time difference isn’t enough already for my East coast folks, now I’m gonna go all nocturnal on ya’ll.

How is everyone doing?! Anyone out there legitimately Irish? Ya’ lucky ducks

Blog Birthdays!

Lathi at CookwithSmile on Thursday March 23rd

Myra at The Cooking Spoon on Monday March 26th

Happy Birthday to both of you! I am thankful for you both as blog friends and hope your birthday is absolutely perfect. You deserve to be spoiled and know that you are SO loved!

xo ❤

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