A (F)untraditional Christmas!

Hello beautiful people!!! I am typing up this post from the air heading to Dallas, TX! Woohoo!!! So much has happened since my last recap, and I’m excited to fill ya in! To be honest… this holiday season I have been a bit of a Grinch. Not outwardly, in my conversations or by my actions…but certainly when reflecting on my own thoughts. I’ve known for a couple months now that I was going to have to work on the 23rd, 24th, 25th, and 27th. This only left one day for celebrations (the 26th)… and any time I work three in a row I have a difficult time opening my eyes the next day, nonetheless try to throw together a Christmas celebration on my “Sammy day” as we say (sandwich day in between work days).

I begged DJ to fly back to Ohio to be with family. After all, I would be at work majority of the time and when I was not I would be, well, .. A. exhausted and B. an actual B. Catch my drift? It’s just reality. I turn into a MONSTER by day three. Like Wicked Witch of the West meets Ursula. But, alas, the sweet hubby refused to leave me.

If ya know me, I have more “basic” tendencies than not…a la CHRISTMAS OBSESSED. Yet this whole season I didn’t feel inclined to blast Christmas music, baking cookies, or watching Christmas movies when I felt there would be no real culmination celebration with family and friends to celebrate our Savior’s birth. Ya knowww?

BUT there were till some fun happenings that didn’t allow me to avoid the season entirely.

On December 16th, One of DJ’s coworkers held a beautiful Christmas party in her home. It was incredibly elegant with charcuterie galore, hors devours, caviar, an omelette station, a plethora of salads, biscuits and gravy, mini parfaits, etc. etc. Not to mention the most satiating dessert bar. It was delicious and fabulous! I had a ball getting to know Dj’s coworkers better too.


For the 17th and 18th we both worked hard and then the next few days I tried to round up most of my research project. It’s due the 8th of January so we are ticking down to the last few days!!! Y’all I am PUMPED about it. I cannot CANNOT wait to share it!

On the 19th, Sara, Tammy, and I all headed out for some bday celebrations for Sara’s bday!


We had drinks and cheered to another year of our Sara over salted caramel popcorn complete with peanuts, bacon, and rosemary (it sounds like an interesting combo, but it is an interesting combo that WORKS!).


I savored their irresistible pan seared salmon with sauvignon blanc sautéed salmon, asparagus, zucchini, red onion, red pepper, fennel, roasted beets, avocado, arugula, and lemon vinaigrette.


Tammy tried their butcher’s flat iron dip with carmalized onions, fresno chiles, mustard aioli, Havarti, and au jus.


Sara opted for their cowboy burger with shoestring onion rings, bacon, cheddar, and beer barbecue sauce.


We finished off with a complementary birthday Sundae for Sara. It was way too fun and nothing beats some good girl time. These two have kept my spirits afloat this year. I don’t know what I’d do without the two of them.


When I went home, I was greeted by some decadent truffles from another client of DJ’s. I am a sucker for truffles. I cannot get enough. You all know I love a good cliché, and does it get more cliché than Christmas truffles? I think not, and if loving this cliché is wrong I do not want to be right.


The 23rd-25th were work days. Guys, so much happens during my day on our crazy neuro floor and I have so many stories that I’d like to share (protecting all anonymity of course)…. But sometimes there is just too much to say and explain that I avoid sharing anything all together. These days were filled with my first patient fall, rushing a patient to surgery to prevent paralysis, and a few tears. The thing is…..each day I have worked has a story, a situation that would make you gasp, cringe, squirm, or cry tears of joy and sadness. I am afraid to share these stories because I don’t want to do an injustice to the experience, to the fact that these are real lives, real person’s & family’s reality. However, for 2018, I am considering sharing a story, maybe once a week or every couple of weeks before I forget them. I have learned more about humanity, vulnerability, compassion, patience, and love in this past year through neurosurgery. I’d love to share these lessons and stories that have left a footprint on my soul. So stay tuned for how that all plays out.


Our coworkers are so encouraging, and I’m thankful that we all have each other’s backs in the chaos.


Also, one of the nurses brought in this HOMEMADE cake. HOW?!?


The 26thDJ and I had our day to celebrate our Christmas. I kept telling him the 25th was our Christmas Eve. He played along like a trooper (even though I’d snap at him every time he mentioned Christmas being on the 25th… “NO HUN, IT’S CHRISTMAS EEEEVVVVVEEEEE”.

On our faux Christmas Day we slept until the cows came home and then had “Christmosas”, cinnamon rolls, an omelette, and I even made some turkey bacon for Deej. I love whipping up big meals, but now-a-days I feel like I have such little time to cook like I prefer to. This morning was a treat for me.


Deej figured out how to get a fireplace to play through our TV. I just love love love ! Thank gosh he knows how to work technology. I swear I am from the stone ages when it comes to working a remote control.


Christmosas: Dry champagne/ Martinelli’s grape juice/ granny smith apply slices/ pomegranate seeds.


We then blasted our Christmas music, put on our now traditional Christmas onesies and opened presents on the ground like a couple of children. It was obnoxiously fun, and I want to say a massive thank you to all who sent the most beautiful gifts and stockings to our house to give us a real Christmas. It really did feel like Christmas, and I am so thankful DJ played along with me. Jesus wasn’t actually born on the 25th, right?!


In the afternoon I laced up the new pair of Adidas Boosts DJ gifted me and headed out for  Christmas run… a Jingle Jog if you will! The weather was perfect, I had the sugar from the cinnamon rolls rushing through my veins- I was zooooming. Talk about a runner’s high! I felt like I could have ran forever. It was one of the most glorious runs I have ever had.


For dinner, I whipped up scallop and crab stuffed sole (from Omaha Steaks- thank you Aunt Terry and Uncle Pat), asparagus, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, cauliflower mashed potatoes, roasted veggies with tofu, and grand’s flaky biscuits. We savored every bite over some nice white Pinot Grigio and a Charlie Brown Christmas.

img_4979-1img_4978-1img_5007-1img_5011-1We finished the night with some GLORIOUS Moser Roth truffles (THE best truffles on planet earth- their strawberry rhubarb is a must-try) and our classic Chocolate Chip cookies.

For being an untraditional Christmas, we both agreed it was one of the best. This was certainly a year I will treasure forever. I loved celebrating with my patients and my husband. Sometimes different is not so bad.


I had to head back to work the 27th, it was a difficult shift..

I’m tired, y’all. So very tired. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Our project will soon be submitted and I will have a minute to breathe…. Maybe… we’ll see! I’m learning to just enjoy the small moments, take deep breaths, and count my blessings because there are so very many- this blog and all of you being one of them. This has been the hardest year of my life (besides the year I lost my Dad). But I would not trade it for the world.

This morning (28th) was filled with early morning wake up call, stuffing myself with some toast, a full on pat down going through security (I was basically stripped to my breeches in the airport), and now a minute to sit back and relax on the plane. We are heading to Dallas and are munching on nuts, a salad for me, and a burger for DJ. I am working on my thank you cards from Christmas (I am one of those odd birds that genuinely loves writing thank you cards). I cannot wait to see my momma and step dad, Pete, and of course, my little pooch, Jade.


I don’t usually make New Years Resolutions. But this year I have one…

I have learned an enormous amount this past year and one of those lessons is that there is freedom in vulnerability. I have things I want to share but have not yet had the courage to. I have slowly showed you all my heart in certain situations, but I hope in 2018 I can dive deeper, share more of my heart, and be honest about parts of my story that I have never shared before.

Thank you for sharing in our life, for supporting and encouraging us on our journey. I am thankful, I am so thankful for each of you.

xo ❤



Sister’s 21st Birthday and Best of the Bay

Woooowww. Long time, no talk! HOW ARE YOU ALL?!! I am totally blog-deprived.

I know I say this repeatedly, but this is truly the most challenging and busiest time of my life. How people do this residency program with kiddos is beyond me. I finally have a day off, and I have ZERO plans but to blog, catch up on my to-do list, and eat Smoked Gouda Triscuits and gruyere cheese (hello heaven). DJ is at work, so additionally I fully intend to spend the whole day in my PJ’s, unless I go to the store for cookies for bachelorette night, but then, and ONLY THEN, will I put a bra on. Catch my drift? Ok- let’s get to it.

Since my last recap (which was about the end of April), all I have done is work, cry, meal prep, cook, cry, run, laundry, and cry…. so yes.. (I do plan on making a post about how all that is progressing soon enough, but for now let’s share ALL the gooooood!).

My sister, Halston, and her boyfriend, Kevin, came in town last week, and they left me with some awesome memories that I am one eager beaver to share!

I started out last Friday (5/19) by having my new obsession for breakfast (avocado smoothies) with homemade breakfast cookies (yeah, those recipes will be posted eventualllllly). I love sitting in my egg basket swing from Target and soaking up the sunrise with my Bible while sipping up my avocado smoothie and breakfast chocolate chip cookies. Does not get better than that, folks! My outdoor area is my “feng shui playground”.


Since I had that Friday off, I food prepped to have at least a couple options for my sister and her boyfriend and my hubby for the week! I made roasted veggies, eggplant parmesan, tons of shredded chicken, roasted parmesan multicolored potatoes, and vegan joes (my sister is also pescetarian, but loves vegan foods too!).

I also cleaned the heck outta’ the house, which felt gloooorious!

When I picked up Kevin and Halston from the airport, they unpacked a bit, and then I had to show them around Main Street Cupertino, naturally. We had tons of avocajoes for dinner and I had to hit the hay early for work.


While I worked the whole weekend, Kevin and Halston went to an SJ Giants game with DJ and then Church Sunday too. Even though I couldn’t participate in the weekend festivities, I’m glad they had such a blast!

Sunday night, my fave duo surprised us by also cooking some additional food for the week (we flew through all the food I made!)- Kevin whipped up some scrumptious fettuccini chicken alfredo for him and DJ, and Halston made the most delish tofu lettuce wraps for us. They spoiled us!

Monday I had off, although DJ had to work, but the three of us decided to go to Santa Cruz! This was their first time EVER in California, so I had to give them the authentic beachy town experience.


First we stopped by a coffee shop that carried the famous Marianne’s Ice Cream to grab a cone for Kevin. DJ and I have had it before and the ice cream is velvety smooth and creamy and dreammmmyyyy.


And I am still steadily making my way through HP, ya’ll! Just in case you are just popping in for the first time, my dream is to read through all of Harry Potter then go to HP world. Big bucket list dreams right here.


After soaking up all the sunny rays ….and Halston aggressively avoiding getting any sand actually on her towel (or herself) — (anyone else like that? Hahaha)—….. we decided to go grab a late lunch/early dinner on the pier.


I personally think Stagnaro Bros. is the best place for half price apps. I went here with Rachel last summer and it did not disappoint one bit.


Halston ordered their appetizer sampler platter (clam strips, shrimp, etc.), Kevin tried their lobster quesadilla, and I jumped on their smoked salmon bites.


It was all tremendous. I am truly salivating right now at the thought. Their tarter sauce was delish with the sampler platter, the lobster quesadilla was phenYUMenal, and the salmon bites seriously reminded us of eating hearty meat like smoked ham or steak bites. Whatever sauce they use may contain illegal substances, because they were addictive. SO GOOD.


Halston was a bit cold on the way back to the car. I think I wear emotions on my face pretty clearly; she is a walking emoji! Ha!


Whenever there is a crowd gathered by the edge of the pier, you can bet you will find a bunch of little sea lions providing the daily entertainment.

We zoomed back home just in time for Bachelorette to begin!!! I was stoked to have company to view the Bachelorette with. DJ and I used to have massive parties back in Indiana for bach. nights and now it’s usually just the two of us. It felt good to get ALLL the goods out, have multiple people’s input, and the hum of a full living room.

Anyone else watching? Thoughts? I just adore Rachel. This show gets goofier by the season, but I truly hope she finds her happy ending.


Monday night at midnight Halston and Kevin went to Yardhouse on Santana Row so Halston could get her first legal drink. She got her favorite, a pina colada, and a pizza to wash it down! 😉

I had to work the rest of the week Tuesday through Thursday. Halston would get up early with me before work (yes, at 4:30), have breakfast with me, and drop me off at work so her and Kevin could use the car for the day. I just ubered home after. I treasured those mornings together and this coming week I know I will be feeling a bit sad horribly depressed without her here with me!


Tuesday was her TWENTY FIRST birthday!!! How is my little sis this old?!

I need to take a moment and just brag on this incredible human. My sister is without debate one of the greatest individuals to grace this planet. She’s my younger sister, yet she is my role model. She doesn’t care what people think of her, yet everyone loves her. She has her priorities straight with a level head, a strong faith and a selfless love for others. She exudes a zest for life that surpasses most and embodies the most gentle spirit. She is also ridiculously fun to hangout with and is always a guarantee for the most wonderful memories with tons of laughs. She pursues adventure whenever there is a free second, but works harder than most people I know. She is the greatest listener, has wisdom beyond her years, and both an emotional and physical strength that allows her to dominate whatever life throws her way. HAPPY 21st again, seeeester. I love you more than words!!!

We started the epic birthday with avocado smoothies and while DJ and I were at work, Kevin and her spent the day exploring SJ (going to Crossfit and Bill’s Cafe- hollllaaaa!) and had a beautiful dinner at the ethereal Grandview restaurant after!


You can read about our previous Grandview Experiences here and here. HINT:  Their cheesecake is to die for.

This restaurant is like you are sitting in a little part of Heaven. The views are indescribable. It’s all terribly romantic, stunning, and the whole experience is absolutely spectacular. I would not want anything less for Halston on her big 2-1!


The beautiful birthday princess and her amor had the most wonderful evening. Aren’t they gorg?! I’m so thankful Kevin was able to come on this trip! He treats my sister like an absolute queen and the two are a perfect pair.

On my way home from work I ubered past Coldstone Creamery to pick up a Peanut Butter Playground cake for Hal, her fave. I fell asleep before they came home, but the missing slices in the morning told me they enjoyed it! (Also, I totally forgot to snap a picture; thank you internet for coming in in the clutch).

peanut butter playground.jpgWednesday, Halston and Kevin went into downtown SF to meet up with Kevin’s future roommate. He is attending Dental school in Pennsylvania- Hal and Kevin both went to University of Cincy where they met. Hal has one year left, but is studying abroad in Columbia this fall. After undergrad she plans to go to law school. Got it? (There is a quiz on this post after 😉 ).

They loved exploring the city, and graciously shared their pictures with me! They went to Pier 39 (essential), and then made their way to Japan town to meet the roommate. Hal had some Boba on the way. I honestly didn’t even know Japan town existed… I thought there was only China town. Hal and Kevin said the food was insanely good at this place though. DJ and I will definitely be back-pocketing the name for a date night! She didn’t get any pictures of the food though- I haven’t trained her well enough in Blogger ways, lol.


Thursday they spent the day resting up at home and when I came back from work, we all went to Kula!!!! DJ and I used to be obsessed when we first moved here, but there is plenty else to explore, hence we haven’t been in a while. If you want to read about the conveyor-belt sushi experience, I have a pretty thorough review here.


My personal favorite roll is the Kula roll with lemon juice sprinkled over ahi tuna.

When DJ came home from work late that night, Hal made us all pina coladas (cause now she can officially have them!), and we played Cards *mumbles* againsthumanity… I know the game is probs not something I should promote, but goodness gracious it’s too much fun. The game inevitably leaves you with inside jokes and belly laughs.


Friday morning, Hal and I decided to go to Tony Look trail for a nice run (that heckuvah trail that I always take our guests on- here, here, and here). Usually I just hike it with people, but I convinced Halston to run it with me. Haha – she was a trooper.


WE SURVIVED! Even though we were annihilated by overgrown weeds and were convinced we were going to be plowed over by an off-roading car at one point (long story). Once again- Halston’s face says it all! BUT— No mountain lions today! Woohoo!


When we made it back home we scarfed down some grub and got ready to go back into SF for more bday celebrations with all four of us!

Deej took us down Lombard street and Filbert street (The steepest road in SF). You can’t even see over the car into the road below when you are on the very top. It’s trippy and feels more like a rollercoaster than a road!


We parked near Ghiradelli square and perused around here before heading to the Golden Gate.


I realized I had never had my second cup of joe for the day and was crashing. Luckily, Le Marais Bakery came to the rescue. It was no Peet’s, but it did the trick!


Cuties ❤ ^


Coffee ❤ ^


Crew ❤ ^


We then ubered the bridge to the other side to grab some photos with the world renowned bridge (which just celebrated it’s 80th anniversary! Thank you, Kate, I had no idea!). Very enlightening!!!


After enjoying our time at the Bridge we headed to the Ferry Building to explore and grab some food to tide us over.


Halston and Kevin were dying to try the empanadas. DJ and I still haven’t tried the little guys, but they said they were tasty!

We also stopped at the SF Fish Company where we grabbed the famous chowder! It was super good- not as good as the one’s I sampled with my mom in Monterey, but dang close!


We killed time by walking around SF and then stopping to get bandaids for a horrible blister on my foot. #heels. #beautyispain.

Our reservation was at 8:00 for Venticello Restaurant on Nob Hill. We arrived early, but got light drinks at the bar and just relaxed a bit before our table was ready.


This restaurant is the definition of “quaint”. It is tucked away, easy to miss, but once you step inside the scents of wood oven pizza, baking Italian herbs, and romantic lighting embraces you. The service was excellent and, although a bit chilly by the windows, the warmth from the real burning wood stove was a perfect touch.


We all agreed that wherever we went for dinner, pre-meal complimentary bread was essential.

We also ordered their margharita pizza for an appetizer. The pizza looked satiating, but no one wanted to order it for their main course, so dubbing it an appetizer worked out well. They also had other amazing options as appetizers- we will be back. The pizza was fantastic, but I and DJ prefer when the ingredients are more visible in a margharita- like the mozzarella is still obviously buffalo slices and the tomatoes are sliced. The flavor was still tremendous- it just tasted more like a basic cheese pizza!


For my dinner I tried the scallops. Holy Italian cannoli- the flavors were out of this world! It had a pesto sauce along with artichoke heart puree. Still, Farallon’s scallops take home the W, but these were pretty doggone good!


Taking pictures was a bit hard since the lighting was quite dim, but Halston ordered the gnocci with gorgonzola and mushroom cream sauce, Kevin ordered their spaghetti carbonara with pancetta, english peas, and farm cream sauce, and DJ tried their fettuccini with house-made spicy pork fennel sausage and tomato cream sauce (pictured below). We all loved our entrees and I don’t think there was a bite left on any of our plates!


But you better believe we left room for dessert. After scavenging YELP to find a place that sounded like the golden ticket, we headed to SIFT which promised milkshakes, macaroons, and ice cream sandwiches. When we arrived, the options were pretty limited. Luckily, across the street was Smitten! We decided to give it a go and it was one COOL experience! It’s all organic and the flavors are uniquely delicious like brown sugar with cinnamon shortbread, dough my goodness sundaes, and almond coconut macaroon to name a few. It took us forever to decide what we wanted because it literally all ridiculously yummy.


Halston and DJ had the dough my goodness sundae, Kevin had their vanilla with strawberry prosecco sauce, and I had their cold brrrew with cookie dough pieces pretzel pieces, and brown sugar caramel sauce on top. It was tremendous. The coffee flavor was strong, but the sweetness of everything else provided the perfect balance!


For the evening, we decided to try out a Gatsby themed exclusive nightclub. It’s supposed to take place during the prohibition era, so all of the information is super obscure online and you receive the place the day of the event. I received an e-mail saying “Your appointment to get your watch fixed it scheduled at 11:00 pm at this location”. I was confused for a second and then realized it was all part of the underground, secretive experience. We still had time before 11, so we tried to find somewhere to go dancing. The place we tried out had hardly anyone there yet, so we got stamped and decided to go back later. When we arrived at the Gatsby location, it was a bit….. different than expected. It was a crowd quite a bit older than us, the room was pretty small, and there was no music playing as it said on the website. We didn’t stay long but it was worth the try and we also had the most interesting uber ride of all time- let’s just say SF is like a box of chocolates— you never know what you’re gonna get!


The rest of the evening the four of us danced and then headed back home. It was overall a super fun, yet bizarre in many ways, night!

On Saturday, Halston and Kevin had a late flight back to Ohio. We had one place left on the list that was essential for them to try before leaving: In n Out. Confession: This was my first time trying it too.


The boys ordered the burgers and animal style fries & a shake. Us girls nibbled on their fries and tried the shake. It was all good, but I still prefer Swenson’s back in Akron. If you are from Akron, you would understand.


Halston and I were craving Boba tea as well. We jumped over to Tea Chansii on Main Street to try it out. I had their jasmine green tea with boba and Hal tried their smoothie. We ended the night by finishing up random foods in the fridge- I made Hal my loaded vegan sweet potato, the men quesadillas, and finished up the leftover tofu wraps Hal made earlier in the week (I crave them!).

We took them to the airport in the evening and said our goodbyes. I have had a hard time since they left. I was looking forward to the visit for such a long time, and I can’t believe it’s already over. I will treasure these memories forever.

I also want to take a moment to say thank you to those that have served and serve our country. I know I can fully never understand that sacrifice, but with a somber and thankful heart- thank you. And to the families and friends of those who have lost someone dearly, my thoughts and prayers are with you today.

To my WordPress fam, as always, thank you for being endlessly supportive as I swim upstream through this stage of my life. I send ya’ll all my love.

xo ❤