Kels & Kenz Take on the Bay- Part One!

***Disclaimer: We are not responsible for any uncontrollable stomach grumbles you may experience nor are we responsible for any cravings that may occur upon reading this post. If you are pregnant, or suspect you may be pregnant, there may be sushi triggers. Enter at your own risk, and we highly recommend bringing a sandwich***

This summer is truly one for the books! One of my greatest friends from college, Kelsey, was able to visit & prance around the city with me for a few days last week. You may recognize her from our wedding, but sadly we haven’t been together much since (she went to Uganda our last semester of college!).

I have never done sooo much in a short period of time (Nor am I sure I have ever ate so much, lol). Kels and I set out to knock off things from both of our bucket lists (This was, after all, her first time in CALIFORNIA, y’all!)

It’s so easy hanging with this chica because she is sooo go with the flow, and down with anything & when we’re together it’s just non-stop laughs mixed with great conversation. My heart is full <3 And sooooo are our stomachs. We also have the exact same taste in food, so we split everything the whole weekend which helped cut down on costs a bunch and allowed us to try a variety of nibbles! (and by nibbles I mean large meals that we are are calling snacks- deal?!).

We made the most of every second, and although she was only here for five days- it may take at LEAST four or five blog posts to recap it all. So let’s get toooo itttt!

We haven’t seen each other since the summer of 2016! She landed at around 12:20 at the Oakland Airport on Friday, July 27th. After exchanging the biggest hugs ever, we drove toward downtown SF to get a week of all time started. (wish Deej could have joined, but he had a homestand basically the whole time she was here, I took notes so I can take him back to these places though!).

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B Star, a Burmese inspired restaurant, was our first stop. People rave about this spot & swear it is a must try in SF. Their tea leaf salad has been on my foodie bucket list for a while. They also have a sister restaurant- Burma Superstar, that has a similar menu too.

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It was a tucked away little place, but the inside was so cute.

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We ordered the noodle salad, tea leaf salad, and samusa soup.

The noodle salad was light and refreshing- but nothing to write home about.

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The tea leaf salad brought a flavor that we’d never experienced. It was good, but sooo salty. Like almost too salty to enjoy for me. We ended up mixing the noodle and tea leaf and that combo was delicious; they balanced each other well.

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Now, the samusa soup was outstanding. This vegetarian soup has falafels, lentils, cabbage, potatoes, and jalapeños. This is, dare I say, the tastiest soup I have ever had. I could eat this everyday for the rest of my life. It was SO good. I am going to take DJ back just to try the soup!

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Time to see the famous Painted Ladies!! Would ya jus look at um’! Lookin’ dapper as ever, my friends.

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Everywhereeee you look, everywhere you go, there’s a heart, (there’s a heart)!!!! Ready to feel nostalgic?! You can peep these little ladies in the back of the intro here.

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LOVE HER!

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There is also a cute little park in Alamo Square if you have little ones.

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I decided since we were so close I would take Kels through Haight-Ashbury. The houses lining the walk down are a sight to witness! The level of meticulous attention & love poured into these front steps is evident. This one was reminiscent of the 16th Avenue Steps we visited about a month ago.

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Time to step back into the 60s!

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This is too funny…

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After Haight-Ashbury, we zoomed to Fishermans Wharf to be tourists doing touristy things.

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We ventured through Fisherman Grotto’s area, passed the sea lions, then into Pier 39’s hub! Kels is left-handed, so I was excited to show her the Lefty store.

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And what dooo you know? We were hungry again! Kels loves oysters, and I was trying to love oysters, so we looked up the best oysters in the area. The reviews for Sotto Mare were phenomenal, so we gave the joint a go.

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They are known for their world famous cioppino, but we still had a dinner planned, and wanted just some light, refreshing oysters. (But if you do venture here, make sure to try their cioppino! It’s now on my bucket list).

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We tried 3 East coast & 3 West coast oysters with the bloody mary mix shooters with an oyster in the bottom of the glass. So was it all up to the hype???????……

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YES!!!!!!!!

^ That was a bit dramatic , huh? Remember when we used to do that in chain mail back in the day? Okay totally digressing…

I started thinking I might be fond of oysters at Sam’s Chowder House, and these even surpassed that! The pairing with the cocktail sauce was a perfect touch too. So…. your girl officially LOVES oysters! Now I just need to get DJ on board.

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After slurpin’ down the half shell magic, we walked to Ghirardelli Square for our free samples of chocolate (yes, just go into the building and they are always handing out free samples), perused the niche boutiques, and drooled over the olive oil shop options.

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Ricky was on to something!

No matter how many times I am here I can’t help but snag a shot of the Powell & Hyde cable car (you can also see it in the full house intro video if you watch closely 😉 ).

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We found this interesting little street with books hanging from the wires too in North Beach. I had never noticed this before, and was curious behind the “why”…

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I found that it is an art installation called Language of the Birds. The books actually light up at night. There are words on the sidewalk too. It’s pretty cool to see the pictures of it at night.. you can find them here!

In the evening, we did the hour trek back to San Jose area and had a hankerin’ for some Bay Area quality sushi. There are cravings, and then there are sushi cravings. And lucky for us, there is a new place that opened recently on Santana Row called Ozumo.

I prayed it would be up to par since we were both walking in blind & I wanted to make sure Kels got some dang yummy sush while she was here (considering it is also her favorite food group).

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It looked brand spankin’ new! It had the chic, contemporary, Japanese restaurant vibes that are pretty popular in downtown SF, but I haven’t found any restaurants like it here… until now, of course!

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We decided to sit right at the sushi bar so we could watch the sushi being made. When I say this was the best dining experience we have ever had, I mean it. The service was impeccable. The atmosphere was light, warm, and fun, but not stuffy (like many of the row restaurants can be), the staff was superbly friendly and attentive, and the sushi was the greatest sushi we have ever had.

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The sushi chef gave us complimentary octopus to start our meal (yes complimentary, that was absolutely spectacular)…. we were being treated like royalty. I was like, “are they mistaking us for someone important?!” haha. Kels said that lately she has been on a streak for getting things for free, so we chalked it up to her being our good luck charm 😉

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I was craving wakame, but they didn’t have plain wakame on the menu. We decided to be adventurous and try their personal take on a seaweed salad- the Kaiso Salad. This included the red & green tosaka seaweed, wood ear mushroom, green onion, sweet chili dressing. I am thankful they didn’t have plain wakame, because it would have been a shame to miss out on this dish! It was perfection. So tasty, so flavorful, and so light.

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Then for the best part of the meal (which is saying a LOT), we had their shacho roll with tuna, salmon, scallop, crab salad, takuwan wrapped in soy paper, and lobster sauce. Umami flavors for dayyyyyyyyys.

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BEST SUSHI ROLL OF ALL TIME.

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And we also split the tremendous tuna tataki with thinly sliced seared black pepper encrusted tuna, truffle oil, ponzu, grated ginger, and micro cilantro. Heaven. Heaven straight on a plate. We ate our food soo slowly because we didn’t want it to end. Every single nibble was savored.

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We tried the cheapest red on the menu, and it was a perfect accompaniment with the meal- although a bit too generous of a pour to finish it all up.

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Happy Happy Camper with something in her teeth. (Sign of a fab meal- amiright?)

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Final touches- the bill being presented in a Thank You card <3

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Ozumo, we laud your restaurant & your food! Thank you for an unforgettable dining experience. We will be back!!

We walked around the row for about a couple hours. We even witnessed some random motorcycle show out of the blue.

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We decided we weren’t quite ready to turn in for the night. There was one other place on my bucket list to knock off and believe it or not, we decided to do dinner number two at around 10 pm…. whoops! It’s not like we were starving, but we were like, “we could eat!” know what I meaaan?

Pizza Antica is always packed out the door, but since it was very late at this point, we were able to get a seat right away.

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We split their fantastic margherita pizza. (Their bread is great too!).  I’ll be bringing DJ back to try this ‘za. He really loves a flatbread margherita. Since we were satisfied after about a piece.5 each, we had leftovers that would be perfect for nibblin’ the rest of the week.

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And finally, after eating about seven full meals in one HALF day, we called it a night. Yes, that was all one day folks. I’m not sure whether to be proud or ashamed. I’m going proud, yes definitely proud. It’s an investment in the best of memories, ya know? 😉

Questions:

Oysters- Yay or nay?

Did you watch Full House growing up?

xo <3

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Celebrations & A Half Moon Bay Day Trip :)

Hello all mack-mareaders (see what I did there?!). Right off the bat I want to say a heartfelt thank you for your response to my last post. I can’t tell you how encouraging this community is- you all have lifted my spirits through this grueling past year, and I am deeply thankful for each of you <3

Once again I have left myself with a good deal of catch up! Starting with us arriving back from Portland. You may remember the travel map DJ gifted me for Christmas…. we were able to add a Portland pin to it! Cause if you liked it then you shoulda put a pin on it. 

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When we returned, we worked hard through the rest of the week then into that weekend (May 26-27), my last weekend on this unit :(. While I am SO excited to finally have my Sundays back with my Church family- I had developed another family. Our weekend crew was the same every weekend so we all grew super close. I especially had a special bond with my work moms. There were two ladies who took me under their wing, mentored me unofficially, and helped me figure out the next step when I thought I was at a dead end. I didn’t expect to get too emotional until the very last day, but as I was telling one of my work moms- Mia (I called her Momma Mia) we both started crying. Ah, I will miss them, I already do. We had a cute little weekend potluck that Sunday.

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I spent the next few days catching up on house chores, laundry, etc. from our Portland trip and recapping the trip on the blog. On Wednesday I went to Trader Joe’s to stock up on goodies for my last day to take in to thank everyone for all their help this year. I seriously wish I had known about the magic of TJ for all these years….. they just have EVERYTHING. And we have cut down significantly on our shopping budget since shopping there!

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And then June 1st… my last day came… <3 It was hard to believe this was the last time (for now) that I’d be walking through these doors.

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When I came home, DJ was still at work, but this was waiting for me on the counter..

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It warmed my heart- so thoughtful! He left the sweetest card and a compass path candle. He’s a good one, I’ll tell ya what….

Saturday, June 2nd, I woke up early to get some hair did. Guys.. my roots were SO bad. They have never been this bad before. I’d include a picture of the before but I think I’d scare you.

Needless to say… I was pretty excited once those sons of a guns were touched up. (For my blondies out there- I started doing balayage last year instead of highlights. It lasts way longer and looks more natural. Well, the last time I had my hair done before the cruise, my regular stylist wasn’t available so I took whoever was available- she insisted on re-highlighting my hair, but I recognized the roots way sooner and missed the natural balayage feel. <– That sentence was about as long of a run on as my roots were). What is your preference? Highlights? Balayage?

 

 

In the evening, my friend Sara came over to celebrate my completion of the program and starting this new journey with school. We pulled out all. the. snacks.

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We watched a new show and paused intermittently to chat at times. Love girl time!

On Sunday the 3rd, we had an eventful day! DJ had a busy morning at the stadium and then we whipped down to Oracle for Game 2 of the Finals!

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Goooo Cavs!!!! Our blatant support of the Cavs caused quite the ruckus. No worries friends & fam- we held down the fort.

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After, we crossed over the Bay bridge into SF to get dinner with a couple of our friends.

I can’t actually remember crossing the Bay Bridge before, and oh myyyy was it ever beautiful all lit up!

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The sun set added such a warmth to the evening. I had never been in SF on a weekday night (well, going into a weekday night), and the quietness of the city mixed with the setting sun and twinkling lights was almost romantic. It gave me a new appreciation for my already favorite city <3

It was an unforgettable day with great memories and friends.

On the following Monday the 4th, I was running errands near DJ’s stadium, and he said he was heading to lunch if I wanted to join. It was fun to have the freedom to pop in and even though I’d already eaten it was fun to just sit and recount the game with him spur of the moment.

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DJ loved the habit burger and says their chocolate malts are one of his favorites.

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In the evening, we watched Bachelorette together. Anyone watch? Any thoughts? I was excited for this season, but so far I feel like it’s a bit of a snooze fest (I guess they always are in the beginning, aren’t they?).

Tuesday the morning of the 5th,  I grabbed breakfast with my friend Danielle whom I haven’t seen in FOREVER.

We met in downtown San Jose on South First at Social Policy.

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As I walked around, I found a new appreciation for downtown San Jose… it was looking extra colorful and bright this morning. It’s funny how sometimes we can forget to be a tourist in our own town. I’m going to make a more concerted effort to explore SJ this summer.

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The line for SoPo was out the door even on a Tuesday morning. It was well worth the wait!

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I had a cafe au lait with their house-made almond milk and their avocado smash (best avocado toast I’ve ever had).

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I’m on an strong avocado kick right now.

The rest of the day I spent cleaning up my e-mails, making a giant to-do list for the summer, enjoying a nice run outside, then meal prepping.

Wednesday, oh our dear Wednesday, the 6th, we watched the Cavs lose in the Finals 🙁 But we had some spicy sriracha green beans from The Habit to help mitigate the pain.

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Thursday, the 7th, I spent the day running, reading, blogging and sipping a cafe au lait at Peet’s while watching some Hulu… I may have also taken the popcorn with me in a ziplock container to Peet’s… people probably were slightly confused, but Peet’s is my second home after all.

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Friday the 8th, I pulled the trigger on an idea I’ve had for a while. OK, this is so silly, but I have so many food pictures from this blog that I wanted to compile into one place. I figured why not create an Instagram where I can just store them (and use puns to my heart’s content)? I always want to post them on my personal insta, but I feel like I would just be spamming all my friends and fam.. This is going to be my little creative outlet (besides this blog of course).

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Please leave your Instagram handle below so I can follow you there!

Saturday, the 9th, we went to Half Moon Bay for my first time (DJ had been once before).

It was chilly out- in the low 60s- and for me that’s winter, hence the winter jacket. Yes, I know, we have grown soft. Our midwest skins would be disappointed in us.

Half Moon Bay is a sleepy little beach town, so quiet, serene, and surprisingly full of history.

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We walked along the beach for a while, then the coastal trail.

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We wondered along downtown hand in hand, soaking up the lazy afternoon, peeking into family owned shops, and letting our conversations wonder aimlessly as we were.

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With the bitter chill in the air (lol, I’m so dramatic), I was craving a hot coffee. We stopped by The Cafe Society, a quaint little coffee shop/jazz bar- how fun is that?! I grabbed an americano with steamed almond milk, then we headed back into the tundra. Baha.

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The colors just popped, each storefront was lovingly decorated with intricate details.

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We passed a Tom & Pete’s- I realized I’d seen this place before but couldn’t remember where exactly… then it hit me! It was the truck located at the pumpkin patch we went to a couple years ago.

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We also noticed this Jail that was built in 1911. It looked like there was a tour going on. The jail pushed up against the mountains looked like something out of a storybook.

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Before heading back, we were not about to miss an opportunity to go to Sam’s Chowder House!

 

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I saw they had a seaweed salad on the menu, and it sounded just perfectly refreshing! Love my seaweed.

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I opted to try their raw oyster bar- with 2 oysters, 2 clams, and 2 shrimp. When I ordered it DJ goes, “You don’t even like oysters”… and I longingly said, “But I wannnnt to like them”. And guess what! I really enjoyed these oysters! I actually enjoyed them even more then the clams, which says something, cause I love clams.

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DJ of course had their lobster roll (their go-to menu item that is just insanely delicious), and I snuck more than a few bites.

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Still convinced this is one of the best restaurants the Bay has to offer. If you want ridiculously fresh seafood- this is it.

Yesterday I was able to go back to Church for the first time in a while, and it was soooo nice. I then caught up with my friend Tammy after at Cafe San Jose.

I’m putting together a master summer bucket list for the SJ/SF/Oakland area- so if you have been PLEASE share with me your favorite place to eat, things to do, etc. (No worries, Kate, Capo’s is on the list hehe!).

Have a fabulous week, everyone 🙂

xo <3

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A little Update for the Road

Hey guys! I just bombarded  your feed with recipes… which is fine and dandy, but let’s mix it up and throw in an update post for the road 😉 I have to get this one done because if I don’t then the next one is going to be impossibly long!

I had to share these beautiful flowers with you that a sweet friend from Church gave me for passing my nursing boards. It was one of those things I just never saw coming, and it touched me deeply!

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During the day on Wednesday I went to Peet’s Coffee Shop to organize my life, which is no small feat. On the way I was chatting with my mom on the phone and was pulled over. This was my first ever ticket because apparently you can’t talk on the phone in California? News to me, but I learned my lesson. Hands free ya’ll- HANDS FREE. I was sobbing in Peet’s parking lot. Yes, I am that girl. That girl who get’s in trouble and then cries about it an unnecessary amount. 😜

Thursday DJ and I made an impromptu trip to Sacramento, CA to see the Lakers vs. Kings. Not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I feel like in California I show up to everything under-dressed. Everything! Including this basketball game. It’s a basketball for Golly John sakes. This means tennis shoes, jeans, t-shirt, pony tail acceptable…. RIGHT?! Obviously not. At least not in California. These ladies were dressed to the nines . Ok that’s an exaggeration, but I still felt out of place. I couldn’t believe I forgot to to wear my little black dress to the B-ball game, because everyone else got the memo?! Excuse my while I go polish my high-heels to watch a bunch of seven-foot men drip with sweat and exchange profanities. JK JK, I’m being dramatic, I love the game and I was happy to represent Nike.

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This couple below are the cutest I have seen in my whole life. Their 40th anniversary was the same day as the game, and they renewed their vows on the court. It was so sweet. Melted my heart!

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Also

in California, they sell Komboucha on draft at games. Just when I don’t think this place can get any better…

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I may not have the Cali outfit, but I will drink up all that Cali Kamboucha!

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After we met up with a friend and chatted for a good chunk of time.

We didn’t end up getting home until 3 am. It was worth every second. When seeing our exit road sign I felt a sense of exhausted relief, and hearing nothing but asphalt under the tires when turning onto that exit ramp, I realized this is home. This is truly our home. Rather than seeing that road sign as another directional tool on the GPS system, I saw it as our treasured destination, our oasis. We have memories that flood this place already, and I realized that at this point after five months here, this has become home not only physically but in my heart. Oh gosh, getting all cheesy now. But really- from knowing the little repairs that need done that we keep forgetting to submit a maintenance request for, to the way the wall creaks about three seconds after you flush the toilet, to the way the guest room is always cooler than the master, to our fire alarms going off every five seconds (not my cooking-system malfunction 😉 ), to knowing how to make the proper u-turns at which times and which routes to take to avoid traffic, and knowing our neighbors probably will show up tomorrow to ask for cilantro….This has become our home. And I love it so dearly.

Back to a less sappy tempo!…

On Friday I applied for jobs- I will not officially start my nursing job until February/March, which is an awkward “in between” time after the holidays. So I will be looking for a temporary something or another in the meantime!

Saturday we did our Christmas shopping!!! I LOVE Christmas shopping. I know it can usually be considered stressful, especially when finances come into play, but it’s such an exhilarating feeling when you find something that is perfect for someone. How do you all feel about it? We had a blast at Stanford shopping center.

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Subliminal message ^^^

Seeing the Christmas trees popping up all over make my heart happy.

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Does the below restaurant look familiar?! In one of my recap posts we went to True Food Kitchen. We usually like to try new places when presented the option, but this time we both agreed we had to go back to try more of their menu. It did NOT disappoint.

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We ordered the Edamame Dumplings with the dashi, white truffle oil, and asian herbs. We both agreed that they were worth every little nibble. Truly one of the best appetizers we have ever had. DJ ordered the grass fed steak tacos with avocado, greek yogurt, cilantro, pickled onion, anasazi bean, and cojita cheese. I ordered the Butternut Squash Pizza with smoked onion, organic kale, vegan almond ricotta, and dried cranberry. As usual, we were blown away! Plus, they are all recipes that I think would be pretty easy to recreate! OK- who am I fooling. I probably cannot get la comida this good.

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Sunday was incredibly busy, but wonderful nonetheless. We had Sunday services and then had a wonderful dinner with friends from Church. I didn’t snag any pictures but you have to take my word for it that the food was Friendsgiving perfection.

Something happened Monday that made wonder if pigs were flying. DJ said he wanted to learn to cook. I think my eyeballs looked like they were going to come out of my head. I just thought it was too good to be true. Immediately we cooked up a recipe right then and there. Better believe I took advantage of this rare has-never-occurred occasion while it was there. If anyone sees my husband and wants to return him, that’s fine. But for now this imposter will do.

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First we made garlic cauliflower mashed potatoes. I absolutely will be posting a recipe for this soon! I am overloading ya’ll with recipes though, so I’ll hold off on posting that one. Build up the anticipation and all that jazz.

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Then we made for dinner our vegan tacos, which may be found here.

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Tuesday morning we rolled ourselves out of bed at 6 am to get donuts from a supposedly famous Donut place called Stan’s. I think we agreed that, unfortunately, they weren’t quite up to the hype. Donut snobs we are. However DJ said their plain glazed were spectacular. I’m nutty about my Maple Bars though, and I definitely liked Happy Donuts better from the last post! HOWEVER, if you like super doughy donuts compared to the light and fluffy, you would probably like these. What is your favorite type of donut? ‘Says a lot about person in my opinion 😉

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In the afternoon I went for a long run. It was a brilliantly gorgeous day. At one of the intersections I heard a couple debating if brown rice or quinoa was better. Welcome to California, ladies and gents.😎

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DJ and I have also been doing Insanity together (workout program). Anyone else?

Wednesday, oh our dear Wednesday. Wednesday was a GREAT day, but also a bit of an emotional one. Currently we have some BIG (but good) decisions ahead of us. Hopefully more to come on that. Why not build some more suspense ?! 😝

Anyways, during the day I got pedicures with a girl I just met at church Sunday! It was relaxing as could be, and we connected so well. Also, I haven’t had my toesies done in a LONG time, so this was a great treat.

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I tried to go for a deep maroon, but they definitely turned out looking black. It’s fine. Just in time for post- Halloween season, yah? This happened with my hair once too. We won’t talk about it 😜

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Wednesday night we needed to get out, just the two of us with no distractions. This weekend is insanely busy so we are treasuring this one-on-one time now. I also was exhausted and had zero energy to cook anything. Panino Giusto opened up recently near us on Main Street so we decided to give it a go after walking around town. This place is well known for their paninis, and I certainly see why! DJ opted for their famous Prociutto Cotto Savoy- cooked ham, mozzarella, EVOO, and arugula. I ordered their smoked salmon panini. Oh my lanta, I could live on the stuff.

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My olive oil and balsamic looked like a face with a little top-hat, so I had to snap a picture. 🙃

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Now the absolute best part of this post- Wednesday our niece was born!! She is absolutely perfect, and I can’t wait to meet her <3 We will see her over Christmas! We love you dearly from afar baby Kate. Love Aunt Kenzie and Uncle DJ <3 <3

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Today we went to our sister’s (DJs side) volleyball game! She is a champion!!!! Woohoo! I should have snagged pictures, but there was too excitement in the moment to even think of it. After we were going to head straight home but the traffic was going to be insane. We decided to grab dinner somewhere in Palo Alto. Sam’s Chowder house has an award winning lobster roll and was voted the best seafood restaurant in the Bay area by the San Francisco A list, so, naturally……..

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I tried the Seafood Risotto. It has bay scallops, calamari, bay shrimp, mussels, Manila clams, pumpkin puréed risotto, lobster broth, and tomato. I have leftover sitting in the fridge and I cannot wait to dig in tomorrow for lunch.

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DJ had the lobster roll, and you better believe I had a big bite. Yep, this made all our lobster roll dreams come true until the end of time.

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Oh me. Oh my. I could eat this till I die. It was just pure lobstery bliss.

That’s all I have folks. Not a super eventful week (besides my niece being born, which is the greatest thing ever), but anyway a lot of processing… figuring things out.. trying to see where this whole thing called life is going.

I am thankful for the adventure. Thanks for sharing in it with us.

xo <3

Mack