Christmas 2019 *Rewind* 🎄

Hey heyyy! It is a sunny morning here in Austin. I am eager to get out and go for a run. Ohh, JK, I just checked the weather. 37F! We’ll wait a bit till we are at leaasttt in the high 40s, 50s, 60s.

So this post is a recap of our Christmas 2019. I never got around to it last year since I hit the ground running with clinicals in January. I said maybe I’d publish it for “Christmas in July”… welp, that didn’t happen either. I think it’s actually very special that I am just getting to write this post now. This year we are not going back to OH, so getting to relive last year’s festivities, prior to COVID being on our radar, is going to be bittersweet (with more sweet than bitter! <3).

Prior to going back to Ohio last year, DJ and I exchanged gifts. He gifted me this gorgeous Tim Cantor Collection Book. I was ecstatic. He knows Tim Cantor is my favorite artist, and there were many pieces in this book I had not seen yet! I have this book and Affinité on display on our coffee table. I actually just flipped through this yesterday in the morning with my coffee 🙂 

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On December 22nd, we arrived at the ATX airport. I grabbed an almond milk cafe au lait from Ruta Maya while we found our gate.

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I was still pretty full from breakfast, but to get something in our stomachs before flying, we stopped at Haymaker in the airport. I had a veggie salad and we split some poutine fries that were as good as they look!

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We met up with some friends at Burntwood Tavern that evening after landing and just chatted away for hours.

On December 23rd, I think spent most of the morning just hanging out with my MIL and Gordie while wrapping gifts. They are so awesome to let us ship all our gifts there every year.

Around 3 pm, I met up with Rachel to attend a Christmas production by one of the churches downtown. She heard about it from a friend at work, so we thought it would be great to check it out together and get dinner together after to catch up!

When we walked in, it was so cute with little cookie and coffee stands and a photo station.

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After the beautiful Christmas production, we went to Humble Restaurant in downtown Lakewood. it was a long wait, but we didn’t mind since it gave us more time to catch up!

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Also this place is so warm and inviting (I took this pic on our way out- when we got there is was jam-packed!). I had heard of the wine bottle Christmas trees- but I had never seen a chandelier before!

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You know any place with a wood-fired stove is gonna be tasty!

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We started with their roasted beets with saba, pistachias and ricotta. YUM.

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We also tried their roasted stuffed artichokes- oh my gooooodness. Delicious.

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We also split their caprese pizza which was divine. Everything we had there was phenomenal!

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On the morning of Christmas Eve, we woke up to this thick layer of fog to go with our coffee and breakfast. Easily one of my favorite parts of being home is just chatting together in the kitchen while enjoying our breakfast and coffee.

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Pool Noodle was feeling totally relaxed at home for Christmas too!

It was a wonderful Christmas Eve spent with family <3

On Christmas Day we awoke to have a wonderful breakfast and can you believe how stunning this tree is?!

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My Mom-in-law made an absolutely delicious quiche for breakfast. I don’t know if there is any better breakfast food for Christmas morning!

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We enjoyed another full day with great food and family <3

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And, of course, had to get more pics of the sweet Noodle.

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We had a spread of many delicious desserts- I had to try a little bit of everything. I mean how would you choose?! YUM!

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It was also a Christmas of playing code names!! This is probably our favorite game to play. Also, just to go on a little tangent here- I never really enjoyed card or board games growing up, but as an adult I love them. Is that odd? Anyone else experience that?

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We ended the evening with some spectacular ice wine! DJ saw me working on this post and went “that ice wine was SO good!”. We savored each single sip while sitting around a fire outside together. It was a perfect Christmas day!

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We didn’t get too many pics through the weekend, but we did get this one. We laugh at how far apart and from one another we are in it, but hey, it works for memory sake. Lol.

On December 26th, we had the evening planned with my side of the family. On our way to their home, we swung by one of our old stomping grounds with a covered bridge.

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At my cousin’s home, all my siblings and our niece and nephews gathered together to enjoy great conversation, great food, peppernuts (the traditional family Christmas cookie) and so much fun.

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We did a white elephant gift exchange among the adults, and someone was gifted the Beanboozled game. We played the game until every one had a spin, and the reactions were hilarious!

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More white elephant fun… hehe

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More family fun <3

On December 27th, in the afternoon I met up with my friend from childhood- Kylie! We met at the Nervous Dog Coffee Bar, and I ordered this delicious vegan cookie to go with some coffee.

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I probably have mentioned this before, but a little fun fact- Kylie and I have been “pen pals” ever since DJ and I moved out to CA. It’s so much fun to stay up-to-date through snail mail on each other’s lives. I am always on the lookout for a cute card when I’m out and about!

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After, DJ and I had dinner at Mustard Seed Cafe, one of my favorite restaurant in town (which is actually located within a grocery store).

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It was all super yummy!

Later that evening, DJ’s younger sister had a basketball game that we were so stoked we could attend. The game was great! She played amazingly, and it was really sweet to watch DJ beam with pride watching her. We are so thankful we had the chance to watch her play while in town.

On December 28th we went to see my mom, Pete, Halston and Kevin. After catching up for a few hours, we went to Austin’s Woodfire Grill in Brecksville where my Grandma Violet met with us.

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We had a feast of delicious eats!

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After, we went back to my parent’s friends’ home (they graciously offered to let us all stay there while they were away for Christmas). It was so cozy & we spent the night playing games and laughing. A lot.

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And then, sadly, we left to return to Austin the next day. we grabbed Sammy’s in the airport. I still remember how good that salmon salad was!

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It was a Christmas we will never forget. I am incredibly thankful for these memories with friends and family and celebrating the birth of Christ. It was so much fun to relive this post!

I hope you all have a very wonderful holiday season, even if it all looks a bit different this year!

I’d love to know:

  • What is one of your favorite Christmas/holiday traditions?

<3

Eating Our Way Through Portland Part Three!

Hey y’all!! Oh man, I am getting these posts up at a snail’s pace. Ever since we’ve came back from Portland things have just been go go go! But alas, I finally bring us to our last installment of our Portland trip. Here are part one and part two.

We started out the last day of our trip venturing into Blue Star Donuts. Now, most people have heard that Voodoo donuts is the place to go when in Portland- but there is an ongoing debate among locals whether Blue Star or Voodoo is better. Jay insisted that we had to try Blue Star, and we were not about to argue with a local Portland donut savant.

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The flavors to choose from are the most unusual donut flavors I have ever seen….

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Donut you just want to try them all?!

I sampled the blueberry bourbon basil, lemon poppyseed, and the peanut butter and jelly.

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My favorite was either the lemon poppyseed- best lemon poppy ever, but the stellar unique deliciousness of the blueberry bourbon basil was unlike any donut I’ve ever had. It is a MUST try. The PB & J was excellent too- but I did prefer the other two more.

Deej tried the chocolate, blueberry cake, and glazed original. Not on bite was left! Jay had a maple bacon, one of their staples.

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But the ultimate question is- did you even go to Portland if you didn’t get a picture of the Keep Portland Weird sign?! Voodoo donuts is located right across the street, and it looked like a zoo. The line was wrapped entirely around the building, and we all agreed me made the right choice by hitting up Blue Star instead. (Next time we will try Voodoo to compare 😉 ).

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PAUL BUNYAN ALL!

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While stopping by the PB statue, I noticed a bunch of tents popping up and my farmer’s market senses were tingling. I cannot resist a Farmer’s market walk by. The boys graciously stopped by with me.

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CHANNEL THE FLANNEL Y’ALL! There was a local school parade we happened to watch going through the Farmer’s market. We laughed because we were probably the only one’s there that early in the morning that didn’t know a single person in the parade.

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I won this Yerba Mate at one of the cute little stands with a spin the wheel for a prize.

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After, we decided to head to Cascade Brewing House– the House of Sour! Sour Beer is my and DJ’s favorite- so naturally we had to try this place.

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After the yum of the pretzel from Deschutes, we all agreed we were up to split another!

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It wasn’t on the same level as Deschutes, and we didn’t prefer many of the beers. Maybe we didn’t get the right ones, but definitely would suggest going to Deschutes before Cascade.

We walked around downtown after near the Pioneer Courthouse and some side streets.

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We were pretty hungry again so we went to the ultimate food truck destination! Here is the address: 1207 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214. It’s a non-negosh if you go to Portland– you have to try one of these food trucks!

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They had asian fusion, Egyptian, BBQ, pizza, Mexican, and the one we opted for…

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Drummmmroolllll

Potato champion! An actual meal served over fries.

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So, I didn’t realize every single thing on the menu was over fries. I ordered the palak paneer fries and then the veggie korma thinking the korma was a wrap for some reason. In reality I had just walked up and confidently ordered two large orders of fries. The guy was probably like, “oook you do you boo booo…” The guys ordered the poutine fries and a burger to split from a nearby truck.

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Fries on fries on the sun’s in my eyeeees. This was the first time the sun came out, and I think it was a sign. The beams of light came through the clouds, illuminating this meal like it was sacred. Amen amen. (ok that’s a bit dramatic, but you can’t judge until you’ve tried this heavenly goodness).

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Gosh, did I mention these fries were good 😉 It was one of those times that I was like, no way I’m gonna make a dent in all this… but it was addictively delicious “Just one last bite” for about fifty more bites. Tehe.

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Now this burger, from Bottle Rocket, was burger perfection, simply amoozing. Wow, I am in rare form today. 😉  DJ was raving so much about it that I had to try it. Holy. stinking. smokes. I don’t know if I’ve ever tried a better burger. With the sun shinin’, the awesome energy, the upbeat yet relaxed atmosphere…this little pitstop is a great place to Ketchup with some friends.

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We went back to the hotel, took a long nap, then got ready for dinner.

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Diva Shot.

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DJ and I had a bit of time to kill before dinner and if we opted for the “Green clean” (so no housekeeping), we received a 15 dollar credit to use for room service or at Urban Farmer, the other restaurant within our hotel.

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These are pictures from the gorgeous sitting area you pass through to get to Urban Farmer.

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I absolutely adored the decor at Urban Farmer. It was rustic, chic, and soft. It was the perfect ambiance. To my CLE fam- there is one in Cleveland!! There are also locations in Philly and Denver.

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DJ and I tried Oysters one time and weren’t huge fans. But like with anything- you have to give something a few goes before you make a final decision on whether you like them. We decided to order a few. They were fine, but we both agreed we would just rather have a shrimp cocktail or another appetizer over oysters.

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We walked a couple blocks to meet up with Jay and Carly (Jay’s girlfriend) for dinner at Portland City Grill!

Gotta Keep Portland Weird, ya know!?

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Portland City Grill is on the 30th floor (chant with me.. views, views, views!!!)

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It was a beautiful evening, so we were able to see the mountains clearly!

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Portland City Grill is pretty darn expensive, but on Sundays they have a happy hour menu alll day. This means we were able to try a few dishes at half the price- they were just exquisite.

We started with some house salads and then the crab cakes. *insert drooling emoji here*.

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Then the asian spring rolls…mmm! I haven’t had these in a while. I used to make them all the time, and this inspired me to whip out my personal recipe to start making them this summer.

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Next on deck, fish n’ chips. Best . fish n’ chips. ever.

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We didn’t skip out on desserts. And we had a sweeet tooth! This beauty below is a lemon chiffon cake with layers of Lemon Chiffon Cake & Raspberry Gelée, Candied Almonds, Limoncello & Poppy Seed Ice Cream.

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And this magic morsel… the marbled black forest cheesecake with poached cherries, a chocolate cookie crust, and whipped cream. I don’t even need to mention how fantastic this was.

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The crew! (and a photo bomber)

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In the morning we headed straight to the airport, saying goodbye to an unforgettable few days filled with amazing memories.

Really quick… for travel posts I like to give super honest reviews of where we stay. If we had to recommend The Nines to someone we agreed we probably would not recommend it. I know this is shocking considering how beautiful and centrally located it is. It was very nice, but a few things fell a bit subpar for the cost. There was no coffee in the room- only out in the lobby (coffee in the room is a must for me, that darn mini coffee maker in most hotels is usually my favorite part of a stay, lol), the bartender at Urban Farmer was the rudest human being we have ever interacted with (we were flabbergasted at the interaction we had, absurdity at its finest), we never ended up getting that $15 dollar comp that we were promised (And never received housekeeping because of that, which is fine- but we were looking forward to getting the oysters comped), there is no pool/hot-tub, we were awoken by our neighbors at three in the morning and had a hard time sleeping with how loud they were, and the cost for what it is just wasn’t worth it in our opinion. We have had just as great if not better stays at places that cost way less. If you visit Portland, I’d recommend visiting the hotel, maybe going to Departure for some great views or Urban Farmer for the ambiance (just don’t sit at the bar in case you get that bartender haha), but don’t stay.

When we arrived at the airport I had to try the famous Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Their coffee was so strong, a bit bitter, a bit too much for me but I see how people would like it!

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Byyyyyeeee Portland <3 Thanks for the memories! Until next time!

xo <3

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