Falafel’s Drive In & Mystery Spot!

Hey, everyone! I am writing this on absolutely zero brain power, so please excuse the typos (I’m sure there will be plenty). Imma be real– this last week or so has been a doozy. We officially move at the end of this month, and the pressure of school, the move, and trying to get everything aligned for my sister’s wedding is putting my body in a state of fight-or-flight. My heart is racing out of my chest every day, I’m not sleeping, my appetite is pretty suppressed.. I know everything will get done… it always does. I usually thrive off this type of stress, but I think the sleep-deprivation mixed with anticipation of receiving feedback for my first quiz and exam are just weighing on me. Once I get those back (they make up 20% of my entire grade) and have some (hopefully good?) grades under my belt I bet I’ll feel very relieved. So, yes, if you have any extra sanity lying around, please send it right my way 🥴

I just hit a wall tonight while reading my textbook, so I’ve decided since I won’t be able to sleep anyways, maybe some writing/reflection is just what I need to calm down. When I started blogging I realized the power of choosing to focus on all the positive. Also, everything that is happening is good great stress- I have to keep that in perspective. I wouldn’t change a thing that’s happening! And this stress does not even pale in comparison to what I was going through about a year ago- so I’ll take this ANY day over that phase of life! PLUS, I don’t have clinicals this summer- so this timing could not be more perfect. I’m very thankful. So let’s get on with the highlights, shall we?!

Let’s see, so May 13th one of the highlights of the day was enjoying this tofu curry with basmati rice and some whole wheat pita. I could eat this meal every day! It’s sooo satisfying.

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I went on a nice walk in the evening after dinner. I am soaking up every moment of my walk route lately. It’s definitely going to be one of the things I miss the most. I have been living for that daily walk to clear my head and shake off the mental cobwebs! Even just a mile or two can really be just what I need to refocus.

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On May 14th I finished getting everything together to start my semester. May 15th my term officially started. I will say I prefer the format of this semester over last’s, even though it’s going to be the most challenging yet, content-wise and workload. It’s less paper-based and more exam-based- which means less busy work through week, but overall way more time studying. I do love what I’m learning, which makes all the difference. This is my textbook that will basically become my third arm this summer. I put my fist in for reference, hah. How this will all be read in less than three months time is beyond me, but we’re gonna give it our best shot!

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I worked most of the day on reading through orientation lectures, organizing my planner and starting on the first Module. Before making dinner I went for a walk and quite literally stopped to smell the roses 🙂

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For dinner I decided to have a massive salad out of my trough with hummus, all the veggies, and some Lightlife “chicken” since I had my Indian meal for lunch.

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On May 16th I studied all morning but had a nice afternoon respite by going to Boys and Girls Club. The rest of the day I read, read, and read some more! That’s basically been every day since I started the semester.

For dinner I made DJ some BBQ chicken with corn & rice. Such an easy midweek meal.

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May 17th- Read. All. The. Pages. & Leftovers.

The 18th I started the day with some delicious oats, chocolate chips & an avocado smoothie. I joked when I posted this on my insta-story that all these competing patterns are quite dizzying.

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May 19th– Lotsa reading and lectures. Oh! I do want to say I am so thankful for my professor I was assigned. He is easily one of the best profs I think I have ever had undergrad/grad school combined. These concepts are immensely challenging, but he explains them in a way that makes them much easier to understand and digest.

In the evening we watched GOT finale. I wasn’t thrilled with it along with most of the general population, but I am eager to watch the documentary! I think the fact that people were signing petitions is absurd and offensive- you can’t protest someone’s “art”, ya know? But I do wish it had ended differently.

May 20th–  I changed up my breakfast a bit and started the day with Crunchy PB toast with a touch of honey, grapefruit and coffee. 

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May 21st I spotted these beauties while out on my walk.

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And now, for some fun- DJ and I had a little impromptu date!

I am actually getting kind of sleepy now.. it’s about 11:30 pm.. I think I might try to finish this post in the morning and sleep now! Wish me luck!

7: 00 am: Ok, I am back… I actually slept! I knew blogging would help 🙂

Jumping right back in! I love Falafel, and in SJ there is a place called “Falafel’s Drive In“. It has raving reviews on YELP & has been on my bucket list for ages. Finally time to try it out!

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It’s a fast-casual little joint where you order at the stand and then eat under the scaffolding.

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We each ordered their two famous offerings: a falafel pita sandwich and a banana milkshake to split. And, of course, some hummus on the side for good measure.

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It was easier to see the inside of the falafel after I took a few big bites in. d22a4972-807a-4aa7-800b-c94f09150944

Verdict: It was absolutely delicious! The flavor combo of the sweet, cool banana milkshake with the soft, spiced and flavorful falafel was epic. I probably wouldn’t order the shake on its own- it was more of an “icy” milkshake than creamy- but it was still a pretty tremendous combo. Their hot sauce is some of my favorite I’ve ever tried! It’s not super spicy (which usually would be a no-go for me), but the unique, sweet/spicy synergistic flavor blew me away! The hummus was fine- butttt I wouldn’t order it again with Oren’s right down the road!

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On May 22nd, DJ had a day off so we decided to go to the beach in Santa Cruz to get some fresh air & get me out of the house. I still had to study most of the day, but I just read in the car and on the beach!

On our way to Santa Cruz we stopped at The Mystery Spot, a spot we have wanted to go for a while. Since we’ve moved here we’ve seen people with a bumper sticker proudly announcing they have, indeed, been to this popular spot. We knew we had to go before moving. And I wanted a bumper sticker too, darnit! Oops, My FOMO is showing.

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So what is Mystery Spot? The description from their website sums it up very well:

The Mystery Spot is a gravitational anomaly located in the redwood forests just outside of Santa Cruz, California. It is a circular area of effect around 150 feet or 46 meters in diameter. Within the Mystery Spot you will be stunned as your perceptions of the laws of physics and gravity are questioned. But don’t take our word for it, come and decide for yourself!

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It was wild! I know there is probably some explanation, but it was pretty trippy! For example, one of the things she did was roll a ball in what appeared downward on a plank, but it rolled back up (and she “proved” how the ball wasn’t altered or there weren’t any other gimmicks- although I’m pretty sure the entire thing is one large gimmick, lol). Definitely a fun thing for kids- it will blow their mind- but also fun for adults too!

For instance, in this picture, DJ feels like he is standing straight up, but it appears as though he’s leaning forward.

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And here it looks like we should fall right off the table, but we didn’t feel unstable at all. Had to take the opportunity for the Titanic pose, of course.

5965f2f7-ea7b-4e01-b70e-9643671e75b7It was a fun experience, and only took about 45 mins total.59282dd6-d1d4-427f-9927-3971ef1f68d5

Also! Banana Slugs!!! These are the mascot of SC & it’s always exciting when you spot one.

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PS. This place was Dad Jokes galore, so naturally that made me appreciate it all the more.

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And we finally got our sticker!!! Woot woot.

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Next up: The Beach!

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I forgot our towels at home (where is my mind), so we swung into Walgreens and grabbed some. I did remember all the snacks though- you can bet I wouldn’t forget those 😉

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It was too chilly to actually lie out, but even lying down in the sun on the sand all bundled up was still soooo relaxing. It was a great change of pace to knock out some reading.

Also, I decided to name my massive book “Smalls”…. 1. Because I love irony. 2. Because now I can say, “You’re killing me, Smalls” all summer long.

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As we were leaving Santa Cruz I had a nostalgic moment thinking about how this was the first place we visited when we moved here. It was also one of the first places I fell in love with in California and has been our getaway when life gets stressful. It also has been where we have made amazing memories with our little sisters, Kelsey, Rachel, and Halston and Kevin. It felt all of a sudden full circle, and I was overcome by such thick emotion as we drove away for the last time.

Time to get back to reading. Thank you for taking time out of your day to stop in 🙂

Questions for you:

  • What is one positive thing going on in your life right now?

xo <3

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Kenz and Kels Take on the Bay: Part 4! Santa Cruz

Hey ya, hey ya!!! Happy Friday to youu!

Really quick: PLEASE check your spam. My comments are going to spam on other WP blogs lately. This has happened one other time and randomly fixed itself, but please make sure I’m not hanging around comment purgatory. Thank youuuu.

This is a sort little post, but believe it or not it is still not the last in our Kels & Kenz take on the Bay series!

Aaand here are….

Part One

Part Two &

Part Three

After a deep sleep with happy tummies full of sushi, we woke up on Monday July 30th, did an Insanity workout together, and then packed our leftovers from the weekend in a cooler to take to Santa Cruz with us for the day.

Santa Cruz is forever one of my favorite places to go and take friends to when they visit. It’s the quintessential beach town. It also appeared in one of my very first blog posts! It’s so fun to go back to vintage posts and see how much has changed.

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Anywho, we were starving when we arrived, but didn’t want to eat too much since we had packed our leftovers. We first went to FireFish grill, my favorite on the pier (along with Stagnaro Brothers!).

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I love their bread they serve- mm mmm! A complimentary carb is the way to my heart. Oooooo we should put that on a tshirt.

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We also decided to split their Bloody Mary- it’s my favorite bloody of ALL time. It was actually the first I ever tried when DJ and I escaped to the beach town last year 🙂

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They put salt around the rim that looks like sand and top it off with a little shrimp.

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And because we can’t seem to resist oysters when on the menu, we gave Firefish’s a go. SO slurpin’ good, but gone too soon.

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After our little tide-me-over, we walked the famous Boardwalk.

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Beach time!! We soaked up the sun while listening to Backstreet boys (let’s talk about that comeback!) and occasionally sneaking leftovers from our cooler.

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At around 5 in the evening, we decided to head on back to Cupertino. DJ didn’t have a game that day so was done with work around 6! We were finally able to all get together and the three of us headed to Campbell to get some good grub.

We went to Flights, the unique dining experience where everything on the menu is a flight, you are given “in flight service” buttons, and the waiters/waitresses dress as flight attendants. Too fun!

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We shared only two flights between the three of us since we still wanted to go to San Pedro Square for more food.

First, we tried their taco flight with Thai Tofu, Veggie Rancheros, and Mushroom Teriyaki.

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The other flight we shared was the french fry flight with truffle, sweet potato, and garlic. These fries were SOOO good. I highly recommend the fry flight if you go.

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We left Campbell and headed to San Pedro Square for dinner #2!

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Also some proof that DJ isn’t always working 😉

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I grabbed some food from Blush the last time we were in SPS , and I knew this is somewhere Kels would love. PLUS it had a bucket list item I knew she would knock off with me!

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We made it just in time for the start of Happy Hour so everything was much cheaper than usual. Love when that happens!

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We started with their $1 oysters-  I loved all the fixin’s they came with! I love horseradish, lemon, and cocktail sauce on my oysters I’ve discovered.

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And now for the BL item… the tofu martini! It isn’t actually a martini- just assembled in a martini-esque glass. It is tofu, green onion, and soy sauce. Honestly, it was disgusting. It was saturated in so much soy sauce that it was repulsively salty. Oh well, at least we tried it!

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Everyone around us was ordering sushi and it looked so dang good, so we had to order some of that too. We also tried the Rose Roll with spicy tuna, crab, avocado, and spicy mayo. It was tasty- a little heavy on the sauce again though.

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And last, we split the sushi tacos- seared tuna, salmon, and a California taco. They were pretty tasty! This was a great way to sample food on the menu since it was way cheaper than it usually is.

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Hope you have a great weekend all!

**REMINDER: Please oh pretty please check your spam <3**

Question for you: 

  • What’s your ideal “beach day”- Read? Boating? Games? Fly a Kite? Listen to Music? 

xo <3

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A Santa Cruz Kinda Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog Birthdays: 🎂🎉

To sweet Anna, from Actively Anna, Happy belated birthday dear on July 27th! (Soooo belated). I hope it was absolutely wonderful! Thank you for being such an amazing friend here since the beginning. I absolutely love our chats <3 So thankful for you, dear!

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

xo <3

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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

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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!

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Cuties <3 ^

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Coffee <3 ^

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Crew <3 ^

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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!!!

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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 <3

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