French Brunchin’ & Rome Dreamin’: A Weekend Recap

Hi Friends!!!

How ya doing?! Sooo I’ll be totally honest and say the struggle. is. very. real. Imma dive right on in. This past week/weekend have been hyper-emotional for me, laced with overwhelming anxiety. It has easily been the worst week I have had since beginning my job. The assignments have been tremendously heavy lately, and I feel like I’m barely staying afloat. Then applying for grad schools and random other things going on… I am down in the deep, deep dumps.(Well, why don’t ya tell us how you really feel) 

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I think part of it, perhaps subconsciously, is the emotions that come with November- the month I lost my Dad. Even though I tend to directly point to whatever else is going on in life as the source of the sadness, that’s probably a larger part of the equation than I acknowledge. In reality, this time of year traditionally does tend to bring up suppressed emotions and memories.

BUT, whenever I have been feeling down lately, taking this time to reflect and highlight everything good going on really has helped lift my spirits. Scripture, prayer, conversations, cards, encouragement from DJ and others… man, I do not know what I’d do without every little bit right now. DJ just keeps saying, “once you make it through this year, imagine how strong you’ll be”. Cue Kelly Clarkson!! (But for real… cliche quotes and songs have been my jam as of late— Whatever it takes- Imagine Dragons, Stronger- Kanye West……..).

#feelz

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My mom also keeps reminding me.. we are more than conquerors in Christ (Romans 8: 31-39). That is so powerful. Not just conquerors, more than conquerors.

Nope, I cannot do this alone. Not even gonna try because I’d be falling flat on my face.. but with Christ, I know I’ll make it because it is on His strength I rest, not my own. I know I should be spending this time working on my next application- but I don’t think I’m quite in the right head space for that yet. There have been some truly special memories in the last couple days.. and I would love to share them with you! (Plus blogging always gets me in a good mood- especially when I can share things like THIS…

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OOOOk. I’m doneeee with my verbose harangue & nauseating puns. Promise. Well, for now.

Friday (11/3)…zoomed into Target post-shift to snatch some mint chocolate chip ice cream (the ultimate post cry ice cream) & an endless supply of Candy Corn. Anyone else stock up on candy corn for the rest of the year? ya? no? Jus’ me? Jus me & Doug?

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Saturday (11/4) Deej and I had a date night at the row!! Wooohooooooo! Been a hot tick since a real date night for us. This was too fun. We decided to go to Yard House.

I even got to do my make-up for once in probably the last three weeks! Haaack ya!

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DJ sampled their pork spare ribs with spicy bbq sauce, creamed corn & bbq pinto beans like the good midwest man he is.

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I had their vegan burger (holy maloly) and side salad like the California hippie I am. This burger was flame. So tasty. I love how many options they have for vegetarians and vegans here.

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Such a great meal and conversation with the hubs ❤ We both agreed that Yard House is a tad overpriced especially for the portions.. but we also agreed that meant room for dessert!

We spent sometime strolling the Row, but the weather actually cooled down quite quick, so we zoomed back home to have cookies and watch some Parks & Rec.

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Can anyone guess which chocolate chip cookies these are?

Sunday (11/5) Dj went in early to Church to help with venue set up. I snatched a few extra Zzzzs and woke up for some coffee and toast with toasted vanilla coconut yogurt, chia seeds, oats, a sprinkle of stevia, and apricots.

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Church outfit! It’s time for booties, finallyyyy!- I am so excited!

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At Church, we found out the next location our Church is expanding to is …. *drum roll* …. ROME. Yep, ROME. Our Church is only five years old…five. The audacious faith that our Pastors have is truly incredible to roll out five campuses in five years. God’s hand is so evident and revival is happening. I have no words to explain how ecstatic we are to see this vision come to fruition and to be a small part of it.

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This service was SO powerful. I am excited to share it with you guys… you can watch it here.

After Church, Deejers also helped tear down and while he was doing that I finished up some laundry then decided to run from home to the place we were meeting for brunch. The run is about four miles from the apartment, but I made it about a seven miler- it was such a beautiful day, a beautiful service, so I just listened to some uplifting music while allowing adrenaline to replace the nagging anxiety.

We met at Left Bank to enjoy their fabulous French cuisine on the twinkle light lit patio. It is one of those locations that provides the full experience, not just the food.

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I visited this restaurant with my mom about a year ago (that was the last and only time we have been). She ordered a Bloody Mary, and I decided to try one since I knew I liked it the last time I tried one in Santa Cruz. This one was okay.. the Santa Cruz one was much better! (DJ snagged the bacon ;)).

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I ordered their salmon hash (again). Last time I had it I remembered how absolutely savory it was, and it sounded like a perfect brunchy meal on the chilly afternoon. All I can say is …Délicieux!!!! Absoutely magnifique!

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DJ ordered their sausage hash and downed that thing before either of us blinked (of course, post picture 😉 ). I assume he liked it.

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We walked around the row for the second time that weekend (becauuuuse it’s the ROW!). We popped into their little boutiques and I saw this on a card…

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I started tearing up. (Yes, I’m that friable emotionally right now… I actually took a pregnancy test because I am giving Niagara Falls a run for its money… and I’ve been uncharacteristically craving Diet Dr. Pepper – obviously the test was negative.. but that’s how crazy it’s been. Is that TMI? I’m a nurse.. there is really no such thing).

Monday (11/6) morning, I decided to try something different with my toast! I mixed in Matcha powder in my yogurt, topped it with oats and chia seeds and honey. It was pahretttty tasty.

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In the morning I cranked out chores while listening to podcasts, snuck in a nice long run, and stopped by Tea Chansi on Main Street for their Boba, which I was craving something fieeerce.

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In the evening, DJ and I went to our Church Group. Gosh, I haven’t been able to go in for FOREVER, and it was incredible to connect with everyone and see our friends I have been missing something terrible. These are the snacks I whipped us for us and my good friend Danielle made some out-of-this-world delicious homemade soup & homemade bread.

It was a much needed night discussing the message Sunday, our vision for our own lives, and praying over each other.

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Today has been hard. I’ve been pacing, anxious, and not able to really focus. I go back to work tomorrow after a stretch off. I haven’t been productive AT ALL with my applications. I am going to just focus on getting in a good head space- go for a run, clean the house, blast some feel good oldies, and maybe just read a book. I thank you all for allowing me to be honest in this season, and also for being ever so patient with me. Y’all are the BEST ❤

PS. Ya all know we keep it one hundred around here…. I put up a post last night that I ended up setting to Private. If you did read it, I don’t think I was communicating very well what I meant to. I essentially was trying to say that sometimes perception is not the reality in the nurse/patient relationship, and it may be hard to see the nurse’s heart in light of the system in place and the demands placed upon us. I honestly didn’t intend to annihilate myself, but rather, speak from the heart to the patients I wish I could do more for. I also wanted to debunk the idea of a “good” vs. “bad” nurse that is often discussed (eg. often the perceived “bad nurse” on paper actually might care more than you know). I realize it came across pretty bleak, but I wrote it with the intent to be an artistic/poetic form rather than a woeful monologue. Not one of my best articulated pieces. However, I truly, truly appreciate those that reached out and left such kind words <3. (Ps. if you want to read it, I will send it privately). Ya live, ya learn, ya blog.

Annnnnnd couldn’t help but share this video because it made my whole day……

xo ❤

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A Foxy Pup, an Ice Cream Battle, & Recyclops!

Hi, Lovies!!! I don’t have a super eventful update— but as always, I want to reflect on the hum drum and find the highlights, you know, find those doggone silver linings (they are there, I promise!). First, I am SO excited to say I have officially submitted my first grad school application. It was a DOOZY. It’s (maybe) my first choice, but I am very confused about the whole decision. I’m applying to schools across the country (and many online schools that pair you with a nearby hospital). I just pray that God will make it clear where we should be. I love California; I love it so dearly, and I love our life here. But we also LOVE exploration  and when else will we have this flexibility to just get up and go (cough cough… kids…..), so who knows… but I don’t know that we can imagine leaving here yet. I don’t know! I guess we will see! Nothing will happen until next fall, so I’m hoping all things will just fall in place the way they should.

Just a little context, I’m sitting here this Sunday evening with my mint chocolate chip ice cream, a glass of cabernet sauvignon, and NYC Housewives playing on the laptop (Uhm, Aviva- take a chill pill girlfran’). I don’t have the GRE or November application deadline hanging over my head (although I have about three more coming up in November- March), but for today, we will relish in the moment. DJ has the World Series playing in the background, and things feel actually OK at this second.

I think we left off right after the GRE. I went back to work for a few days, and DJ headed to Ohio! I wish I could have went back, but work owns me. I am thankful he had such a fantastic weekend with his family, but I am honestly a bit jealous because I miss them all terribly.

On Saturday, October 21st, my dear fran Sara, (you may remember this chica from here, here, and here), stopped by to hangout and catch up while DJ was spending his last day in Ohio. We decided to go to Steins for an appetizer and a drink to catch up!

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The waiter brought us the cutest little mini beer mugs to try their featured sour flavor. It was cute, but wayyy too sour for our liking. Plus neither of us are big beer guys.

We tried a recommended featured cocktail with capurro pisco (not sure what that is), but it ruined the flavor. We were not fans of this cocktail. However, their beer garden cooler was delish and refreshing. Highly recommend if you end up finding yourself here.

Also, highly, HIGHLY recommend their truffle fries- TO. DIE. FOR. Perhaps the best truffle fries ever. I think the only other ones that contest were the ones in Santa Cruz.

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ANNNDDD Sara surprised me with Foxy Lady (that’s literally her name) (you may remember her from this post). I was ecstatic. I just love this pup so much.

Sara cracks me up when she has Foxy do her dance.

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When Foxy wants her tummy scratched in the hallway, she will not take no for an answer.

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Cutest little pumpkin ❤

We hung out, laughed, had an aggressive battle with a Talenti gelato mint chocolate chip pint (if you follow me on Instagram @ __mackenzie.marie__ you probably saw) and chatted until about 11 pm.

We literally wrestled with a Talenti container for probably twenty minutes. We tried EVERYTHING from knives, to rubber twist jar openers, and finally rubber oven mitts….it was a scene. Beware the Talenti.

Anywho, It was such nice, much needed girl time!!!

On Sunday October 22nd, I woke up bright eyed and bushy, but realized I didn’t have yogurt for my toast. I panicked, but no worries- there is a Target just down the road. I picked up my coffee mug (didn’t even bother putting it in a tumbler) and headed to Target to snag some yog. I know all the workers, considering I stop by there nearly every day, so they didn’t blink at me showing up disheveled with my half finished cup of coffee and zombie affect. It happens more than I probably should admit. After I was all caffeinated, I zoomed to pick Deej from the airport!

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When we came home, DJ had to whip off to work for a couple hours. When he came home, we decided we were in the mood for some lunchy brunchy food. We have been wanting to try out the local Bob Evans (Aka Holder’s Country Inn). It received great reviews on Yelp, and it sounded like the perfect Sunday afternoon meal.

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I had their veggie scramble with egg whites, peppers, mushrooms, salsa, and avocado. Every ingredient was immensely fresh and satisfied the craving to a tee.

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DJ tried their pancakes… now, if you follow along, DJ is on the hunt for the best pancake. So far the best ones we have found in the area are Bobbie’s. They have yet to top the Bellagio’s from Las Vegas, or his mom’s (DUH!).

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He also had the country fried steak with eggs. Doesn’t get more Bob Evans-ey than this, folks.

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After we returned home, I decided to take advantage of the glorious day and go for a nice jog outside.

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The leaves are changing, the colors are vibrant, and the weather is finally cooling its jets (it has been ridiculously hot here). When I came back home I whipped up my new absolute favorite meal. I was going to wait until a Friday Faves, but I can’t. It’s too good!

My all time favorite potato is the sweet purple white potato (purple outside, white inside). It actually has more antioxidants than a regular orange sweet potato, and I swear tastes better. You can find different varieties- some have a white colored inside, and some have a vibrant purple.

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I stir fry together white onion, mushrooms, Lightlife tempeh, and eggplant with liquid aminos.

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Once it’s all caramelized and the sweet potato is cooked to tenderness, I stuff the tater! So easy, so absolutely delicious, satisfying, and high in protein/complex carbs.

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And the caprese salads are still going strong for DJ!

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He and I have not been able to do many of the “fall activities” this year ( cue melancholy soundtrack), but I have been listening to a plethora of crime podcasts, have eaten an embarrassing amount of candy corn, and we watched Cropsey together on Amazon prime over the course of a few days. SOooOOO sort of taking advantage, yah?

I even found this wine to accompany the documentary  because it seemed appropro. DJ always laughs at how excited I get about the “idea” of something.. I like things to be themed, anyone else feel meh?! Why just watch a crime documentary when you can watch a crime documentary with CRIME wine on the heels of listening to crime podcasts in the midst of Halloween hype?! PS. Documentary was tremendous.

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And I mean these socks are basically me after a couple shifts so… had to invest..

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We both worked Monday October 23rd, but the 24th I picked up my bridesmaid dress for the November wedding (EEEK!!!!), and then later in the day grabbed a massage (much needed). There was a $30 off coupon online for a super nice salon in Sunnyvale. I jumped on it, and enjoyed every stinking second of that massage.

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After the massage, I stopped by Safeway to pick up my Ice Cream (Oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough….. it says limited edition but I’m convinced I am keeping them single-handedly in stock). I also stumbled upon this RXBar. Mint chocolate chip you say?!? Yesss sirrr-eeeee.

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I still prefer the Chocolate sea salt, but I see they now have pumpkin and maple. Uhm, yuhm. I need to hunt those down!

On Wednesday, the 25th, and Thursday the 26th, I buckled down on my application. I spent the full days slaving over that booger. It was in-stinking-tense. I definitely needed a break to clear my head… this called for an extra long run, which turned into an impromptu half marathon. #procrastinationnation.

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And on the heels of any long run, candy corn is EXTRA necessary.

Later in the day I stocked up on groceries for the next few days from Sprouts Farmers Market. This is one of my favorite grocery stores around.

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^^This is as close as I got to a pumpkin patch this year.

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In the evening, I decided I needed some sushh. It has been a hot minute!!! I went for my go-to sunset roll with unagi, ahi tuna, and lemon with a side of wakame salad and extra ginger.

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I worked Friday and Saturday. Friday morning was bad, bad, bad. BAD BADDDDD. First, I was out of coffeee (nough said, right?). I drove to work early so I could make a cup, and when I checked my phone, it said my time off request for the wedding the end of November was NOT approved. A few months ago I had a face to face conversation with my manager confirming that it wouldn’t be a problem. So now.. I panicked, the anxiety set in, I couldn’t see straight. I started bawling in the bathroom before my shift. I quickly messaged her explaining I had already bought the plane ticket and told the Bride I could be in the wedding based on our conversation. I spent the whole morning sick to my stomach, holding back tears, and gritting my teeth through my assignments. Halfway through the day she e-mailed back saying it was approved, she just had to go back and adjust the way it was formatted in our system. I have never been so relieved. I cried again— tears of relief. I was a MESS. I would not have made it through the morning without the support from my family who sent scripture and prayed over the situation when I frantically filled them in before the shift began. Thank you Jesus for answering that prayer. I still take deep breaths just thinking about it.

But on a much brighter note….. .on Saturday the 21st, DJ headed to his family’s for a costume party. I was bummin’ I missed it this year. You can check out the post from last year if you would like 😉 Our costumes were certainly something! Haha. This year DJ was Recyclops from the Office! He nailed it. The rest of the family’s costumes were amazing too. I wish I could have been there to see them in person!!

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Sunday (the 22nd) I accidentally slept in wayyyyy too late after working all weekend. Whoops. I can’t interact with anyone the day after working a few in a row and my body cannot physically function. I get in a fuzzy funk from the exhaustion and move the pace of a sloth. I decided to wake up my body with a run before finishing up my application.

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It was perfectly brisk, with cloudy skies, and the weather finally exuded those autumnal feelz ❤ I love LOVE cloudy Sundays. Sundays in the fall are the ultimate relaxing day after Church, naps, football, and candles. A cloudy day just enhances the whole experience and I feel like “gives me permission” to be lazy.

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One of the houses along my run had a little garden out front and was growing butternut squash(es), squash? I think just squash. Can you say #GOALS?!

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I also saw this beautiful flower and couldn’t help but snag a picture. Is it weird that I thought of a Punnett square when I saw the unusual distribution of colors?! I will always be a bio nerd at heart.

For dinner, we tried the Daiya vegan Margherita pizza. Not only does DJ love the Vegan burgers, but now is on board with the vegan pizza. He said it was easily just as tasty as a regular one.

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And that’s a wrap! As I finish up this post, it’s actually morning now, I am sipping coffee, eating a protein bar and my toast, and for the first time in a LONG time I don’t have something hanging over my head for the day. I am gonna finish up my breakfast, go for a run, answer some blog comments, and read Harry Potter until my eyeballs fall out. Woohooo!!!!!

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xo ❤

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Hanging on by a Med

GOOOOD MORNING!!! 

Pull up a chair, let’s have a quick chat over some morning toast and coffee!

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Yes, yes- quite different from my strawberries and cream toast I have each morning. Instead of strawberries I used bananas since I was having calf cramps last night and added Evoke muesli for a little crunchy pizzzazzz.

Currently, I am sitting at a Starbucks before work trying to finish up this post (it’s a classroom day so I slept in until 5:30!). Unfortunately, I had to betray Peet’s because it’s further than the Bucks. Buttt you all know where my loyalty resides.

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I also cracked up how they spelled my name. He didn’t even attempt the ending. He just gave up. LOL

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Also…… Sprouts has another bag….

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I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. What do you guys think? DJ says I have far too many grocery bags already…. but…….. I don’t have THIS bag. Help me justify it, please!

So let’s see…. last week I worked Wednesday- Sunday every day. It was the first time I worked all through the weekend and it was a bit trippy! (When I was off Mon/Tues, everyone else was heading back to work!).

DJ had off and spent time with his family over the weekend. I’m so glad he had that time but also quite jealous- I miss everyone so much!! Thursday was technically “off” and since I was not required to actually go to the hospital, I stayed cozied up in my home and got a ton of studying done for EKGs (with the occasion Fine Cooking skimmin’ break- gotta whet those cooking ideas!).

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I do have to mention Saturday though- I had a legitimate anxiety attack at work. I have only had maybe three full on attacks in my life- and this was one of the worst. It was around 1:30 in the afternoon and I hadn’t had a chance to take my lunch, so I bet low blood sugar catapulted the issue. I think it was just a rough moment too.. I am thoroughly convinced this is the most difficult/stressful time of my life, perhaps ever, but the support is phenomenal so I know (I hope) I can make it through. Some people drop out of the program at the six month program- I am just praying I make it through. I will give it my all. God wouldn’t call me here if he didn’t have plans.

Also- although It was a rough day, but the next day was 100% better. I’m finding that for every bad day there will be a good day. My preceptor told me I am right where I need to be- I am just unfairly hard on myself and I don’t forgive myself very easily (even for the smallest mistakes). This whole journey is bringing some serious self-reflection to the surface. I come home, even from good days, and the wheels just turn, turn, turn. I can’t turn my mind off. I wake up in hot sweats and start thinking about things I may have forgot to chart, conversations, teaching I may have accidentally omitted, etc. I have a system that works, and my to-do lists, but as a new grad, it’s hard to cover every single base (hence the preceptorship). I’ll be find one moment and then my heart is racing over these thoughts that creep up. I feel better once I’m in the hospital though… it’s the down time- I drive myself nuts!

But in those moments I try to celebrate the small victories: The family who thanked me, the patient who told me I was their favorite nurse (seriously melted my heart), advocating for my patient and the doctor taking my thoughts into account, becoming more comfortable with my skills….. there are victories and rather than focusing so much on my mistakes and failures, I have to choose to celebrate the victories.

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I pray, I breathe, I am reminded that this is normal.

I actually didn’t intend to share that. But sometimes ya just start writing and things come out!

Anywho, this week was a tapering week for running, so I had some nice, easy leisure runs outside. When I get stressed out I like to run, run, run……hence, tapering this week was hard for me!!! I was craving long runs- but had to limit myself. However, the weather was GORGEOUS, and those short spurts outside helped elevate my spirits for sure!

img_4069-1img_4076-1img_4075-1img_4061-1DJ and I both had Monday off. I studied most of the day and DJ caught up on some MUCH needed sleep. We deemed Monday night a date night! I was craving sushi- needing some serious comfort food!

We decided to try Pacific Catch in Campbell.

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^^ I love incorporating parts of my “business casual” shopping into my everyday outfits, like these heels!

When we sat down, our waitress was a doll and brought us out samples of Hawaiian Poke! I don’t think I’ve ever had poke, but it was very tasty!

DJ ordered their fish tacos and said they were pretty decent!

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I tried their inside out roll (spicy tuna over California roll). It was ok- it was fine enough, but there is WAY better sushi in other places in the area. But overall, it was a fun place and still a tasty experience.

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I also loved how themed-out the restaurant was. They had these “sea glass” bottles as water serving bottles—–it was funny though because DJ and I thought everyone was drinking Grey Goose vodka when we walked in, lol.

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They even used the bottles as hanging light fixtures!

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We then went to Santana Row, walked around a while, and then stopped by Safeway for the necessities for a good, chill date night! (Ice cream was already at home, of course ;)). Also- this wine was on sale and I’ve never tried it before. It’s called BV Coastal Estates and man oh man- it is good!

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I was feeling pretty stressed out on Tuesday. I went for a run in the morning and DJ said he was craving some good pancakes. After some research, he found that Uncle-John’s Pancake House in Campbell was supposed to be some of the best! We decided to give it a go!

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We both LOVED the whole ambiance- very 50/60s diner-esque feel (which makes sense considering they started the restaurant chain in 1958!!!!). I’m sure it’s been renovated since- it was pristinely clean and the staff were jovial and welcoming!

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Their coffee was the BOMB!

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I ordered their egg white veggie omelette (yum!), and DJ, of course, ordered their pancakes with a side of eggs and bacon.

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The verdict: Very good pancakes, but not the best. Now, if you like somewhat fluffier pancakes, you would love them! DJ loves the thin with the crispy buttery-caramelized outside. (He claims The Bellagio in Las Vegas are setting the standard).

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The rest of the day I studied my EKGs and prepped for the rest of the meals for the week. From monopoly, I had $2.00 off a large deli roasted chicken, so I grabbed that for DJ. I also made some calrose rice, broccoli, and bread that he could throw onto a plate in the evenings (if he was back for dinner). I stocked up on sweet potato and salad ingredients, as well as this cauliflower lemon piccata which I have been craving lately! It has cauliflower steak, capers, shallots, lemon juice, and is cooked in white wine. I add a bit of basil on top because I think it complements the lemon well!

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The last two nights DJ was home earlier than expected! I was super happy I could get a hug in before hitting the hay.

Wednesday until now has been a non-stop whirlwind. BUT tonight my mom flies in TONIGHT for the marathon on Sunday! WOOHOO!!!!! I can hardly wait.

Oh and below is a snap shot of a breath-taking view I had on the way to work. It’s hard getting up at 4 or 5 almost everyday, but the fact that the sun is coming up earlier and setting later has been helping immensely!

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Blog Birthdays: 

Happy Birthday to Sijo from Sijo Punathil Photography on April 30th!

He has some of the most enthralling, captivating photography I have ever seen (I hyperlinked one of my favorites above!). I hope your birthday is spectacular, Sijo!

Hope everyone has the best weekend…. and before I go I just must remind you…..

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If you don’t get the reference, I’m probably too old.

xo ❤

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Fort Worth, TX Recap!

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

Thursday (12/15)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday (12/20)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday (12/21)

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

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Followed by shenanigans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In the afternoon I ran a couple errands with Mama Jill

You know you are in Texas when…

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That afternoon we had apps round two!

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

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We also had stuffed vegan acorn squash with fresh cranberries!

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My mom also made regular meatballs for Pete

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Isn’t she darling?!

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a very Happy New Year,

xo ❤

Mack

Happy Birdd-Day

This day is a big deal day. I mean a BIGGGGGGGG deal! It is DJ’s Birthday!!!! This truly is one of my favorite “holidays” because it means my favorite person was born on this day! Thank you DJ for gracing the world with your presence, but also for allowing me to have dibs on you for my hubby. We love birthdays because it is an excuse to say “Happy Birrrrdday” over and over again. Who can spot the reference? Also- Happy Birthday to Amy (his twin sister!). Today DJ is happily spending his day meeting with friends and getting a few tasks done, while I am taking a tiny respite from studying to record some fun stuff from this past week!

We received this amazing Cheesecake Factory sampler from djs mom on Thursday! holy yum.


We made quite a dent! The caramel de leche was our favorite!

Thursday night I whipped up, yet another, Indian-fusion-esque type dinner. Who really knows what it is. But it was edible! It included okra, cauliflower, shrimp, a tikki masala sauce, every spice that I thought could possible compliment it, and some siggis yogurt. I accompanied it with some naan bread and a gigantic salad. This my friends, I call “everything but the kitchen sink”.

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Friday we went to Lazy Dog on Main Street Cupertino. We were feeling tired after a long week of studying and what could sound better than going to a place called Lazy Dog? It was super relaxing and nice to just spend a nice long dinner together rather than the rushed ones that usually take place during the week. It’s hard to truly enjoy your food when you have six hours of studying still staring you in the face for the night!

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I ordered their Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna. This was one of the  most original dishes of ahi I have ever tried. It makes my mouth water just reminiscing about it. It was served medium-rare on house-made cauliflower mash with roasted vegetables and a coconut curry cream sauce. It was also topped with some fresh cilantro. I tried to recreate the cauliflower mash, which I share later on! This dish was fish-alicious.

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DJ went for their signature burger for which they are known for! He ravenously ate it up. Now, I don’t know if the boy was just really hungry, or if that was a sign that he hasn’t had something that good in that long! I may have been too afraid to inquire.

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Also! I pulled out my first sweater for the season! This is one of my favorite fall colors- anything dark purple or maroon. The weather here is surprisingly perfect for the sweater life. I think I expected it to feel warm year round, but it still has a fall feel with the leaves falling and a crispness to the air.

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Saturday I got up at the butt-crack of dawn to go on one last BIG hike with my hiking group. I absolutely love this group of people. If you wanna get to know people, go on a hike with them. Within seven miles hiking up a mountain you end up talking about pretty much anything and everything. One thing that surprised me was one guy who grew up here (in California) could not understand why someone could possibly enjoy a thunderstorm. Me and one other girl from the midwest tried to explain the ominous excitement, smells, and wonder of an awesome midwest thunderstorm. It was interesting to me that he had never experienced something like that.  We also came past the most beautiful dog I may have ever seen. It was a bright white husky with sky-blue eyes. I am not always one to run up and ask to pet a random dog, but I could not help myself with this one. The owner even let me get a picture with it. I told DJ that we need to get this type of dog and a Beans soon (three-legged dream dog from the pound). He personally prefers French Pitbulls and Chocolate Labs. We both also love Vishlas! We had a friend who had one and fell in love. Anyone own any of these types of dogs?

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After an amazing hike, that my hips are still recovering from, we went to the Vine in Niles. This cute little town is quite a hike from our place in Cupertino. OH MY WORD- I did not intend that pun, I swear. I know I usually do intend allll the puns, but that one was not intended. Anyway, Niles is just the most darling little town with the strips full of unique boutiques, food trucks, and the luminous mountains cradling the whole surrounding area.

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After that hike I needed a big ole cup of joe! I think my favorite part of this whole place was the fact that I had my coffee served in this mug.

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HELLO to the most delicious sweet potato tots I ever did taste. They were served with a garam masala aioli. SO GOOD. I got them “for DJ” but ate half of them (or more than half) before I made it home. Like I said, it was a hike back- a good 50 minute drive is long enough to get hungry again.

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I had a tasty, filling salmon salad with craisins, goat cheese, walnuts, and a honey curry vinaigrette over arugula.

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SUNDAY! Oh Sunday was a much needed day. We are currently re-evaluating some choices and direction in our lives, but Sunday was just what we needed for some ease and clarity. I think right now DJ and I are realizing more than ever that our life “plans” on paper do not, and will not, always reflect reality. But that is okay. We are both at this point where we just want to be used by God, love others, and see how we can make a difference in the SV area each day. God has shut a lot of doors on our plans, but we are watching something unfold that we could not have designed ourselves. In the past, we have always filled our schedules and days with commitments and do not make ourselves available for anything that we have not designated important ourselves. But God, in His sovereignty, has shut many doors and we are finding ourselves available to do His work in a way we never have been. We are ecstatic to see what unravels, where this time of our lives takes us, and how he will use us. Our current situation can be described as this (….). The big ole’ dot, dot, dot. We have no idea how the next few years will unfold, but I think both of us could not be more excited to see how it will look.

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So why was Sunday so great? First we attended Church, and if that can’t rejuvenate ya, I don’t know what can. After, we met with the Pastors from our church for lunch as this rustic, yet modern, place in San Jose called The Farmer’s Union. They provided a great deal of encouragement to us. They gave us soo much to think about as well and sparked some thought-provoking conversation between DJ and I throughout the week leading to some of the open-ended conclusions (oxymoron?) I mentioned above.

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I have been fighting something of a cold this week and this Echinacea and Cranberry tea has been a lifesaver. I am a FIRM believer in herbal and vitamin supplements to prevent a cold. Load up the vitamin C, Echinacea, and Zinc to halt that nasty tickle in the throat from becoming a full on monster. But always talk to your healthcare provider before taking them 😉

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Here are the Cauliflower mashed potatoes that I tried to recreate (inspiration from the Lazy Dog!). These were sooo simple and I have a feeling that I may be entering into a new food craze stage.

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I also made these little Cauliflower wings with the leftover half of a head. I have the recipe posted here if you missed it 😉

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The next night I used the leftover cauliflower mash and combined it with some curry hummus to try to achieve that Indian cauliflower taste. I added a Morningstar Garlic and Quinoa burger with some fresh basil for a super easy and delicious meal.

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I had some kale that was about to go bad too, so I whipped up some kale chips to dip in the buffalo sauce too! Snacks for dayzzz.

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Throughout the week I have been studying at Peet’s nearly everyday.

I have loved studying at this little coffee shop and am beginning to develop friendships with the baristas. They are the kindest folk. One day they came up to me and gave me a coupon for a free coffee. They also told me that I am overstudying. Now when essentially strangers are telling you this, it makes you wonder!

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This is what “leave me alone I’m watching the game ” looks like One night during dinner I realized I had forgotten a couple things at the store. DJ, the sweet husband he is, ran out to grab them for me. He returned with this gem- edible cookie dough. Yes, all of your dreams have now come true. You can bake it or eat it straight out of the container if you wish. It is dairy and egg free too. We love our Pillsbury break-and-bakes, but I think we have a new favorite.

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Yesterday I had a bit of a stomach ache. I think I have just had so much rolling around in this head of mine and have been drained by the studying. I stopped by and picked this up from the store. GOODBYE tummy-ache! Ginger is one of the greatest things to help with nausea and aid in digestion. Kombucha also has some terrific probiotics too. I am really going full blown nurse on ya’ll, this post aren’t I?

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You didn’t think I wasn’t going forget a Fine Cooking recipe now did you?! This week I wanted to make something with meat. I make a lot of seafood naturally being pescatarian, but I felt that I haven’t tried my hand at a good meat dish in a while. I whipped up a Pork Tenderloin Provencal Tuesday night. I have never made pork, but was pleased with how it turned out. I accompanied it with rosemary roasted veggies and wild rice. It was surprisingly easy, and DJ said it was one of the best meals I have ever made. I think it would be an excellent meal for a Christmas eve dinner or special occasion! Tastes fancy without all the work 😉 .

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Now for birthday festivities. I maybe should not post this, but I seriously can’t help myself. I LOVE the goofy cards for birthdays (or any occasion). I spend wayyy too much time looking at all of them and take more pride in the card than the gift usually. We have tons of fun with them in my family. I stay away from anything with the actual age on it though… One time I got my brother a “Happy 30th” birthday card, ready to make a big deal about the big 3-0. He actually was turning 31. They never let me live that one down. In fact the next year, I received the same card from him and he crossed out the thirty and wrote 20 (the age I was turning). Anywho, DJ LOVES animals, so I always make sure to get an animal one. This was this years pick. Like I said, maybe this is inappropriate? But I promise this is as PG-13 it will get around here.

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We were planning on going out for a momentous pancake breakfast for his birthday, but he was meeting with a friend at 10 am, and decided last night he wanted to sleep in. I woke up early to figure something out, because everyone has to have a delicious birthday breakfast! I had some 90 calorie reduced fat pillsbury crescent rolls in the fridge and decided to try to make apple roll-ups. These are way healthier than a breakfast pastry and just as tasty. DJ couldn’t believe how relatively healthy they were.

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Last night I was having a moment of I NEED TO BAKE. Anyone else get that? The baking bug hits me hard in the fall. I load up on cans of pumpkin filling and end up just trying to create whatever I can, whenever I can. Baking is very therapeutic for me and since we were just eating leftovers last night, I decided to bake instead during my usual dinner prep time. I made a healthy pumpkin cheesecake with an oatmeal crust. This little guy is about 150 calories a slice and about 10 grams of protein. I am working on getting the recipe absolutely perfect, and then I will share it.

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Tonight we are going to take it easy per DJ’s request. I think we are going to grab dinner somewhere local and then relax at home. I am going to try to squeeze in a bit more studying before the day wraps up. I am also attending a women’s conference this weekend and am incredibly excited for that!!!! DJ will be taking the weekend pretty easy. Sunday night is when we are actually celebrating his birthday with a nice night out.

Lastly, but most importantly, our thoughts and prayers fervently go out to all those affected by hurricane Matthew .

Wishing you an icing on the cake kind of day,

xo ❤

Mack