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.

3777b95b-0b2c-45ac-b82d-a9f55ac6ae86

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.

73d74a53-b524-4d6c-b556-8b5060d17a46

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!

dd2ea343-a7a4-4344-81e0-dd89e090a9a8

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 🙂

783b1537-6027-49e3-aaa7-180c06cf5a3ffec44bb1-2966-43bb-946a-f15750cd230fbf13ac59-d43d-4fb4-af2b-880471b3aca8

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.

4aaf56ca-4de8-4b78-babf-3662f37d15b6

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.

33d39188-5063-48e8-86d9-8eb0bae43f4f

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.

80060bb6-3788-4eff-af3d-6f66a833ab83

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. 

996cbc42-6b84-4a79-a0fb-3e683e2abe2e

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

6645499f-5692-40ea-a09c-62e724195c3e3cdc5b36-8c48-48c0-ba40-3fbf48a615440141f9a5-c7f9-4eef-9940-2daab7e75ac7

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!

f1cbcf38-ac0d-4e89-ac8a-aded02a6e4dc

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

fa75ef55-1df7-42bc-8231-fe6d580dff71b5273d99-7b48-4611-acf8-16a900c630e7

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.

8dc7cee4-194d-4eda-bfa4-9b904120b575

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!

6deca7fa-2dd7-4dc1-898b-f64fccb5afdd

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.

05b62c10-1a57-4ffc-ab03-f97cfce9def0

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!

332aaa33-2f6a-45a9-a6a5-5a9bde398828

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.

36408a21-ffed-46af-999f-4da4e891a30f

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.

a7fd6040-579f-4d4d-9e0d-8ba46b4a6e95

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

91ea7fb5-6cca-4c1d-9161-71ca24696c683bfd7e6b-1732-49af-9bb2-f1201cbb9ec1

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

facetune_01-06-2019-09-32-28

Next up: The Beach!

75a5e626-db8b-4a63-b149-46d5cc251d241739570c-2356-4fc8-8ccd-1967876d168afd86a0af-0a42-44a7-9bc8-361f40c866bea8e4e607-90e2-4998-8759-ab0b94b25d4cfeb29bd5-5d42-41d6-843b-b3a21c02e070

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 😉

394a15de-7611-4703-bfbc-329da21561229f009e46-c500-478c-8be8-179577f6b824

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.

f618b891-e4e8-43f6-a972-63abe45cb0ee

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

submark sig

Advertisements

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.

img_2165img_2171

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!).

img_2166

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.

img_2167

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 🙂

img_2170

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

img_2169

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.

img_2168

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

img_2172img_2173

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.

img_2175

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!

img_2177

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.

img_2178

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.

img_2179

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

img_2180

Also some proof that DJ isn’t always working 😉

img_2181

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!

img_2215

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

img_2182

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.

img_2210

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!

img_2212

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.

img_2213

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.

img_2211

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

submark

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.🤤

img_1159-1

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.

img_1232

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.

img_1161-1img_0818img_1160-1

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.

img_1163img_1164-2

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.

img_1165img_1166

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

img_1169img_1168

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!

img_1170

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.

img_1171

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.

img_1173

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).

img_1175

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!

img_1176

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

img_1180

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

img_1181img_1183img_1182

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….. 

img_1188img_1186

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

img_1193

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!

img_1196

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

img_1197

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!

img_1198img_1201

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.

img_1194img_1205

^ 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.🙆🏼😜

img_1200img_1189

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.

img_1202img_1203img_1184img_1174

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

signature-1

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”.

img_6457IMG_8746IMG_8745

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.

img_4069-1img_6459img_5414

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.

img_6478

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.

img_6484img_6481img_6490img_6482img_6483img_6498img_6477img_6485

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.

img_6476img_6479img_6470

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.

img_6471

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.

img_6473img_6468img_6467

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

img_6465img_6464img_6463img_6466

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.

img_6452

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!

img_6461img_6454img_6462

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.

img_6450

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!

img_5833

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!

img_6486

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!

img_6366img_6358img_6500img_6362img_6363img_6360-1img_6364img_6359img_6361-1

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.

img_3971img_3978img_6357

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.

img_6447img_6449img_6448IMG_7571

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.

img_6489

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.

img_5875img_6429img_6440img_6446img_6443img_6434img_6432img_6442img_6433img_6441img_6438img_6435img_6436

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!

img_6416

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!

img_6038

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

img_6439

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!

img_6415img_6413img_6414img_6410

Cuties <3 ^

img_6409

Coffee <3 ^

img_6071

Crew <3 ^

img_6417

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!!!

img_6400img_6402img_6403img_6406img_6401img_6407img_6404img_6405img_6351img_6398

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

img_0565img_6395img_6396-1

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!

img_6472img_6394

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.

img_6392

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.

img_6390img_6382img_6388img_6389img_6386

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!

img_6501

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!

img_6384

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!

img_6383

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.

img_6378img_6379img_6377img_6375img_6373

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!

img_6374

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!

img_6371img_6370

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.

img_6368img_6369img_6367

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.

img_6356img_6354img_6353

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

signature-1

 

Beaches & Pups & Coffee Cups! ☕️

Hey, everyone!

shaking bacon.gif

First off- thank you to everybody who popped into the Mingle & Jingle!!! I wasn’t sure what to expect hosting one, but you all made it such fun!!

So…. I am a bit guilty on not doing an update post for a while…. and you know what that means…. a loooOOOooong one! But puppies & french fries are included- so it will be worth your time.

On Friday the ….*calculating date in head*….*just kidding pulling out phone calendar*…2nd of December… I went to Santa Cruz with a friend! It was her birthday weekend, and she wanted to spend the day frolicking on the beach with this little pup! She has a childhood friend that lives there, and he let us borrow the pup for a day. We took the little guy out on the beach for a while and then followed up with lunch after!

img_4269

Puppy kisses are the best

img_4271img_4272-1img_4274img_4273

We had her birthday lunch at a place in downtown Santa Cruz called Assembly. I wish I could say I highly recommend it, but pretty much every mistake a restaurant staff could make, they made- to a comical point. I’m not one to get my panties in a bunch about that stuff, but man, it was badddd. Their saving grace was their garlic fries with parmesan & aioli, which- not even kidding-were the best fries I have ever had. I’m not even a big french fry person! I would put up with the worst service in the world for these fries. Which I’m pretty sure we did…. haha. They were so scrumptious, I ended up getting an order for DJ too. It was one of those, “you haven’t lived till you tried this” type foods.

img_4316img_4267img_4266img_4265img_4264

We sat outside on the patio, but the inside  with the antler chandeliers was just darlin’!

img_4268

After our interesting restaurant experience, we walked around downtown and snuck in some cute little boutiques. Our favorite part while walking around was seeing these pups chilling in a bright yellow car, the one looking like it was in full control of the driver’s seat. This reminded me of the movie, My Dog Skip. Anyone ever seen it? I know my younger sister, Halston, will love this, since it was her favorite movie growing up!

img_4263img_4262

We stopped in a little classic candy shoppe called Marini’s. It had the classic burger and shake bar and the fudge shoppe on the other side. I love these retro places <3

img_4261

On Friday night, DJ and I went to Main Street Cupertino’s tree lighting. I had this marked on our calendar for the whole month. It advertised that there would be all this festive stuff to do, hot chocolate, photo booth, etc. etc., and I was so excited. However, this was probably the most anticlimactic event and/or tree lighting I have ever seen. You can take a look for yourself! LOLZ. I think it also may have been a requirement to have a little tike, because there was not a single family without kids. The hot chocolate station said, “Kids Hot Chocolate station” so there goes the best part! I joked that we should ‘borrow’ some family’s kids so we could get some of that hot cocoa. Pshh. “Kid only Hot Chocolate”. What a nutty concept, I tell ya what.

img_4258

After the tree lighting, we went to a Moroccan Restaurant in Mountain View. We were craving it after loving our experiences in Dallas & Indianapolis, and this place had raving reviews.

To our great surprise, there was a belly dancer!!! Ok, to my great surprise…..but DJ… I think he was a smidge uncomfortable about this belly dancer shaking it around us while he was just trying to enjoy his beef tagine. I was just fascinated!

And I’m pretty sure the couple next to us were on a first date. They looked quite uncomfortable, and the music was turned up so loud that no one could hold a steady conversation. The man said something to the server, and the server replied, “No sir, we are not a club”. It took everything in me to not bust out laughing.

img_4254

Anyway, the place was super authentic and the food was delicious!! I didn’t get good foodie pics, because the lighting was super dim. Trust meh- it was tasty.

img_4256

Saturday (12/3) … I baked goodies all day long, DJ played basketball with some friends in the morning then lounged while watching sports & ending with some Netflix- it was just a perfect Saturday.

Sunday (12/4), We went to Church followed by Christmas in the Park in downtown San Jose!!!! This was another event that we forgot to bring our kids to. 😉

img_4249img_4260img_4247img_4253img_4251

Photo-bombed by a nutcracker. My Christmas is made.

img_4245

Oh hey- does this look familiar?! I finished up my Christmas baking Sunday night 🙂

img_4131

Mondays are usually my “get yo life together” day of cleaning/laundry/errands/pulling my hair out/etc. On Monday (12/5) night we got together with some friends and had authentic Korean cuisine! We tried the seafood soft tofu dish (left) & the vegetable tofu dish (right). They were still boiling when placed on the table. They are served with two eggs that you crack in each dish and then stir around the broken yolk. It’s family style, and each person gets a bowl of the purple rice to add whatever  side (kimchi, pickled pear, rice noodles, etc.) they wish on top! We have never had an experience like this and it was a fun endeavor! Plus it was excellent quality time with great new friends.

img_4243

The rest of the week is a bit of a blur. Since the rest of December I am traveling, I had soooo many things to do and figure out to get ready for Christmas and traveling. I felt like I was living in the post office and running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I cooked dinner every night, but I don’t really remember what and apparently nothing was picture worthy. Sorry DJ!

Also… only in California grocery stores….

I don’t know about you- but I like the bread or cracker samples, don’t give me carrots to sample please, sir.

img_4242

One thing that I have loved during this crazy week was the weather. Apparently, this is the coldest and rainiest winter that the Bay area has had in a while. But I love the way the beautiful leaves are contrasting against the dark backdrop. It feels very much like October would in Ohio. And if this is as cold as it gets- count me in! I’m going to be in for a shock when I go back to Ohio in a couple weeks here… Oh boy. I probably could use some prayers, ya’ll. Not sure my skin is as tough as it used to be in the tundra.

img_4240img_4241img_4238

Friday (12/9) Usually Friday is date night, but we decided to take this one easy. I was also craving my cauliflower mashed potatoes with a veggie burger & DJ was craving cereal for dinner, so we deemed Saturday our faux Friday date night instead. A night of binge watching Dexter and eating Christmas cookies was certainly in the mix Friday night.

Saturday (12/10) DJ and I went to downtown SF! We have been wanting to go to Union Square for a while to go ice skating and see the big tree. It was raining when we went, but still a great memory. We didn’t do a ton, but I just love any time I can explore with him.

And about the ice skating—- we forgot our kids for that too. We ended up getting out of line because I think it was “kids only” hour. UGH they get all the hot chocolate & all the cute Christmas ice rinks. SMH. Who do they think they are being all cute and little and innocent and stuff.

We stopped in Target for an umbrella, because the rain was not letting up and I was being Ms. Cranky pants about being wet and cold, stopped in a few shops, and then grabbed a few bites to eat through the day.

img_4237-1

For a light lunch, we stopped in Rouge & Blanc. Sounds about as fancy as it was. Their tag line was “Coffee Bar by morning, Wine Bar by night”, which is basically my life mantra, so it reeled me in.

img_4235img_4232

We didn’t want to eat a huge lunch, because we were still planning on having dinner in town before leaving, so we had fries with a bernaise aioli and a prawn flatbread. I savored every bite of that prawn flatbread. I don’t know what they put on it, but it was too good to be true.

img_4230-1img_4231img_4229img_4225

For dinner, we had to scramble! I always forget just how important it is to make reservations in the city! Thank gooooodness for Open Table. We found this french restaurant called Cafe Claude. It is super tucked away in a back alley. If not for Open Table, I would have had no idea it even existed. It felt kind of exclusive *hair flip*. We have never actually been to a french restaurant, so this menu was definitely something new to navigate!

img_4343img_4338

REAL FRENCH BREAD! My friends all know I have this dream of riding around France on a bicycle with the basket of french bread. This is the closest I have gotten yet.

img_4342

Deej ordered steak frites which included bavette steak, bone marrow butter, port-shallot sauce, and pommes frites.

img_4340

I ordered NIÇOISE which included tuna confit, lettuce, egg, haricots verts, olives, potato, capers, anchovy, and thyme vinaigrette.

img_4341

The waiter said “Bon appetite” and I realized that this was an authentic bon appetite! I may have gotten too excited about that one.

Sunday (12/11), I woke up at 3 am. I am trying to accustom myself to Texas/Ohio time because I like to get up early before everyone else to squeeze in a workout, but if I’m jet- lagged, that probably isn’t happening! I didn’t intend on getting up quite that early, but since I was up and couldn’t fall back asleep, I went down and ran on the tready and read a book on my kindle, because that’s totally normal at 3 am.

Sunday morning DJ and I helped set up at the San Jose campus, then me and a couple of my girlfriends booked it downtown SF to attend the Christmas Creative at that campus after the 9:30 service started at SJ (I won’t be here next week to see it our home campus). <– wow that was like the most confusing thing I have ever written. Happy deciphering.

Anyway-IT WAS INCREDIBLE! They presented the Christmas story via dance, song, instruments, spoken word, etc. in such a unique way. The talent was phenomenal and the whole service was so powerful.

img_4311img_4312

One of my friends from Church that reads the blog, brought me this as a gift. GUYS. Best Christmas present EVER. She obviously knows me well- PEETS!!!! Dark Chocolate!!! Peppermint Bark!!! PEEETS!!!! Coffee Mug!!!! PEETS!!!!! The thought behind this touched me beyond words. So thankful for this community, I can’t say it enough. Thanks again, Tammy <3 <3 You’re a real life rockstar!

img_4347

This cute cafe is connected to where the church service was held, and I had to steal a picture because it was so darn cute.

img_4309

The girlies and I decided to do brunch, because… Oh wait you don’t need a reason for brunch.

We tried the Mission Beach Cafe  because it’s known as an epic brunch spot. It surpassed all expectations. If you live in the area, do yourself a flavor favor and try this place!

img_4310img_4303

I personally ordered the MBC Vegan Breakfast. It included black barley-farro, a butternut squash patty, artichoke hearts, carrot, orach, roasted garnet potatos, and nettles. I don’t know what the heck they put in this, but it was heaven on a plate. We all nibbled on the french toast too- and besides Bora Bora’s french toast, this one would take the cake (or take the toast *womp womp*).

img_4308

I have never ordered a mimosa before, but the pictures on yelp looked too good to pass up! We all tried grapefruit pomegranate and one of my friends did the orange pomegranate. Is “mimosa” not the most fitting name for what it is?! It just makes ya wanna say MimoOoOssssAaAaa. It was YUMMMM.

img_4304img_4307

A couple last things to update:

  • I will write about yesterdays events in another post- this is long enough! Ya’ll are busy!
  • Our neighbors did stop by again (at 10 pm per usual) and asked for a Coke this time. (In the past they have asked for cilantro & lettuce in isolated incidences). What is your next prediction for what they will want?
  • I leave Thursday for Dallas/Fort Worth!! Woot woot! Blowing dust off my cowgirl boots!

Merry Mimosas to all and to all a good night (or day)!

xo <3

Mack

In the Best City with the Best Friend- Part One

This post is going to be emotional to write because I know it will make me miss my dear friend, Rachel, more than I already do!

A little back story: We have been friends since sixth grade. The way it happened was certainly a funny series of events. First, I moved to her school that year and noticed a cute boy. I had no idea that he was dating Rachel and through the grapevine he heard that the “new girl” liked him. He broke up with Rachel to “date” me (“Going out” with someone in 6th grade means you bashfully smile at each other in the hallway and write their name on your notebook without any actual meaningful interaction). Also let’s take a moment to laugh at how many quote-on-quotes are necessary for middle school romances. Well, when I heard that I was a home-wrecker I told him I didn’t want to date anymore. Hence, my first relationship lasted a total of two days. During this time, Rachel and I shared a mutual friend. She told me that there was no way Rachel would ever like me. “Once Rachel decides she doesn’t like someone, there is no going back from that,” she said. I was determined to make a mends. And gosh darn it, look at where we are today! Thanks for letting that go, Rach ;). We have thanked that boy for helping spark such a great friendship. Fun fact: She actually just went to his wedding a few weeks ago! Look how full circle we all have come.

Fast forward to today: Rach just recently passed her Child Life Specialist exam and officially has a big girl job!!! When she called me with the exciting news we both said how badly we wished we could have sushi together to celebrate (Sushi is our spirit animal). The next day she sent me a screenshot of flight dates she could fly out here (from Ohio to California). I thought she was kidding at first- but no she booked that glorious flight! So the day after my mom left I was driving to the airport to pick up Rach so we could actually have sushi together in real life. We also said we are celebrating our “11th friendiversary” 🙂 She arrived last Monday- August 29th, and the week that followed was one of my favorites.

Monday

This was a super chill day since she came in the afternoon. We went to the grocery store to stock up on food for the week. Then I showed her around Main Street Cupertino and then walked down Stevens Creek to show her the main shops and restaurants. We stopped into the bakery I mentioned in my last post, and saw “white fungus with dates” among their items. Do you ever have one of those moments where you feel like you “dare” yourself to do something? Like you feel a strange compulsion to try it even if you truly don’t want to? Maybe for some it’s riding a roller coaster, walking on hot coals, or skydiving. I tend to get it in more of a fear-factor-food form. I bought the darn fungus, and Rach and I sat at my counter in my apartment while I tried the mysterious floating wonder. (Is this the weirdest anecdote ever, or what?!). It surprisingly was not that bad! It reminded me of one of those dole fruit cups that we use to all pack when we were in grade school. Probably will never get it again- but truly not bad. For dinner we naturally went to KULA!!! Sushi time! This would not be the last trip there for the week 😉

Tuesday

Tuesday was a blast, well I guess everyday was, but I’ve got two words for ya- SANTA CRUZ. I am getting a bit ahead of myself because first we went on a hike in Saratoga. So we will start with these two words- HIKING TIME!

img_9601

It was a perfect way to start the day. We were able to bypass the rush-hour traffic and leave a little later in the day. We kept saying how unbelievably smooth the week was with driving! We hardly had any traffic. We were a couple of beach bums and the two of us love to read so we devoured books and our packed snacks on the beach all day.

img_0135IMG_9604.JPGimg_0139img_9689img_9635img_0138img_0134

Around four we were pretty hungry for something besides the “munchie” food we packed, but didn’t want to spend top dollar for the food on the pier. We decided to get a couple happy hour appetizers to tide us over at Stagnaro Bros. I have now ate at three places on the pier and this was by far, hands-down, no questions asked THE BEST.

img_0136img_0137img_9655img_9658img_0010img_0009

First we split the Blackened Sliced Ahi over mixed greens with a creamy wasabi dressing. We easily could have ate the whole thing, but we wanted to leave room for a place we had in mind for dinner. This “appetizer” definitely provided us yummy leftovers for lunch the next day!

img_0011

We also tried Chili Lime Prawn Tacos. These are prawns sautéed in a chili lime and cilantro sauce, topped with pickled cabbage and Mozzarella cheese. I PRAWNISE, these were delicious 😉 #prawnpun

img_0008

We would like to introduce you to our dear friend, Buffy. Buffy was our pal that sat next to us for most of the meal and he was quite the spit-fire. If another seagull even thought about sitting on his pier, he squawked them away with the ferocity of a lion. Don’t mess with Buffy, boys and girls.

img_0007img_9672img_9673

We had about an hour drive home and leisurely took our time to get ready for dinner. We walked to Arya, a Persian restaurant in Cupertino. Guys- this is truly probably my favorite I have tried since being in Cupertino. I know I always say that, but the flavors were overwhelmingly delicious. Like each bite I savored so carefully, I didn’t want it to end! The best part was we had a Groupon for it as well, so we got a great deal for a fantastic meal. We also ate outside on their quaint patio. We got to watch the most gorgeous sunset with our scrumptious array of Persian cuisine.

img_9676img_0005img_0004

I had the veggie tower for my meal. It was mushroom, spinach, eggplant, tomato, and rice in a saffron yogurt sauce. I WANT THE RECIPE. The saffron yogurt sauce was absolute perfection. I crave this meal.

img_0003

Rach ordered shrimp scampi. It came in a lemon caper sauce and easily the best shrimp scampi I have ever tried! I definitely stole a few bites.

img_0002

So you may be wondering- what about our poor Deej?! Well- you know how I love trying these different food delivery services since they usually have a deal as first users? The newest one we found is called Munchery. Munchery is different from Blue Apron and Green Chef because you do absolutely no preparation. It is almost like a restaurant on wheels. You see what is cooking in “their kitchen” online, and they deliver it to your door at the time that you clarify. So we chose DJ’s meals for the week and so they would be delivered for him right when he got home from school. The best part was there was a giant discount for being a first time user. We have held out trying it for a busy week since you only get the discount once, and this week was the perfect one to try it out! DJ loved all the meals.

Wednesday

Wednesday was deemed San Francisco day! We went into full on tourist mode and did everything. Rach has never been to SanFran so I was determined to make sure she got the full experience. First we went to the painted ladies homes. As a couple of typical 90s children, we were in absolute heaven standing in front of those homes. Currently have the song running through my head- “Everywhere you look (everywhere you go) There’s a heart (there’s a heart) a hand to hold onto!”. Okay- I’m getting far too nostalgic about this.

img_9985img_9701img_0151

We found a good parking spot and walked the pier toward one of the highlights of the entire week. Rach wanted to make sure to do a wine tasting while she was out here (because it’s basically a must if you come to wine country), and what better way to do it than on a boat that goes under the Golden Gate, close to the Bay Bridge, and around Alcatraz?! We were shocked at how little it cost for how intimate the setting was and how absolutely wonderful the experience was.

img_0143img_0152img_9731img_0153img_9810img_9740img_9741img_0154

They had all kinds of delicious cheeses, grapes, crackers, bread, and chocolate. Truly ANYTHING you could want to enhance the different tannins. Lolz, I’m pretending to wine speak. Not sure that even made sense?

img_0150img_9749img_9804

One of our favorite parts of the wine tour was the people we met. We conversed with all kinds of people from all over the US. We met a mother and daughter who were traveling cross country, a few friendly couples of all ages, and an absolutely jovial staff. It was the sweetest group of people.

After, we still agreed we had to actually go to the Golden Gate even thought we did go under it. Rachel kept saying, “It’s just water under the bridge!” cracking herself up. 😉

img_0159img_0156img_0146

Ya’ll know how I love my puns- I call the one above a “Bridge next to a bridge”.

img_9822

We did a quick jump over to Lombard Street. The famous windiest road in the world!

IMG_0160.JPG

Naturally we had to pop into Ghiradelli square! Our Uber driver was one of the most fascinating people we have ever met. He is traveling the world with his son and takes him out of school every year a few months before it is technically over to go to a new destination for several months. I didn’t even know that was legal?! Their next stop is Tawaiian.

img_0158

After exploring Ghiradelli square we walked to Fisherman’s Wharf and PIER 39. We just walked around, and I had to stop in to one of the candy shops to get salt water taffy. I was craving it a lemon meringue piece. Rach actually introduced me to the yummy land of lemon flavored desserts a few years back. She had a lemon bundt cake at her 18th birthday and from that point on I was (and still am) obsessed with all things lemon. My mother-in-law brought me the BEST lemon curd cake in the whole world from a local bakery in Ohio for my birthdays while I was in college! <3 Thanks again for all those, mom! Best part of my birthday fo real dough. Anyway, I digress. But the taffy was spot on.

img_0163

Rach is a lefty. This picture was essential!

img_0162

We once again were pretty hungry, but we didn’t want to spend the pier prices for dinner. We decided to once again split some appetizers, but in reality they ended up being our dinner. The portions were huge- and delicious! We both love clam chowder and rumor had it that Fog Harbor Fish House had the best around. It did not disappoint! If you are ever on the pier, please do yourself a favor and get you some of it (in a bread bowl, of course).

img_0165img_0166img_0167

We also had the steamed clams. These were clams with roasted peppers, corn and chorizo butter served with garlic toast.

img_0168

Later that night we scrounged up our leftovers from the last couple days and had a late night smorgasbord. We set up our TV out on the balcony, grabbed a few blankets and watched Gabrielle Iglesias the comedian. Anyone ever seen him?! He is HILARIOUS. He is pretty clean for the most part too which is hard to come by. It was super refreshing sitting out in the late night cool air and I wondered why I don’t do that more often!

I am going to make a separate post for the rest of the week. Currently have to go set up a lamp, run to the store, and hang up some more pictures!

Wishing you a golden afternoon,

xo <3

Mack

Santa Cru Cru Cruzzzz

This weekend we are spending time with our little sisters while the parents are out of town, and we are having an absolute BLAST. They are 12 and 10, both going on 25. They are are beyond fun to hang out with and continually keep us laughing. The first morning we went to their house (Friday) was the day after my root canal. DJ went to their house nice and early and I woke up leisurely to make sure I got enough rest to recover. Surprisingly when I woke up I felt amazing. I felt no pain and did not even have any Tylenol in my system. On my way to their house (which is only about 30 minutes from us), I decided to stop and run “The Dish”. This is a famous satellite Dish landmark that has a trail that snakes up the mountains and provides gorgeous views of the surrounding area. You actually can see Stanford’s red rooftops from the top. I also passed a whole flock (flock?) of turkey on my run. I did get lost though, despite my awesome innate compass (sarcasm). I was planning on doing an easy 4 or 5 miler, but ended up doing 7. Oh well!

Once I finally got to the house after my detour, we decided to all go to Lush. Now, I have never been to Lush, but if you have, you may realize how dangerous this is that I now know what Lush is. The girls love this place and knew more about the products and the store than probably anyone else (maybe even the workers!). Also- our little sisters are the sweetest girls on planet Earth. When we got into the store they told us we weren’t allowed to stay with them. We just thought they were exercising their independence. Instead, they came back about five minutes later with a giftcard for me. What 10/12-year-olds think to do that?! It was the kindest thing. We stocked up on delicious smelling bath bombs, hair treatments, and bubble bars.

IMG_7285

^^Once again, why am I standing like this?! #runningtanorsocks

After LUSH, we walked around Stanford mall and peaked in the bakeries that invited us with the smell of bread wafting in the  walkways. We then came home, had a quick snack, and went to hang out in the gym while one of the girls had basketball practice. When practice ended we rushed over to a creative Japanese restaurant the girls suggested named Juban. It closed at 9 and we made it by 8:05 for just enough time to enjoy the full meal. You choose from a menu of tons of meat, sides, veggies, salads, etc. and then cook them on a grill right in the middle of your table. I have never done this before, but I would certainly go back. Their sauces (particularly the barbecue tasting soy sauce) was amazing! I ordered tofu and veggies. The girls and DJ got filet mignon and yummy rice.

IMG_7346

IMG_7288

We then proceeded to do what any normal 20-something-year-olds do on a Friday night: go to the store to get some Ben and Jerry’s. There was actually a line in front of the freezer section at the store for the B&Js. #addicts (including ourselves). The favorite flavors in this family include brownie batter and half baked froyo. Then it was off to sleep for a full day at Santa Cruz to come.

We all took the morning to sleep in and decided that nothing sounded better than a beach day. Santa Cruz is a full blown surfer town. It is just like you would imagine. The first time we went to Santa Cruz was the day before we moved into our apartment. On our way DJ kept saying, “Santa Cru Cru Cru Cruzzzz” with a little tongue twirl at the end. So now we don’t really refer to it as anything else. We spent the night walking the pier, ate at a fantastic mexican-seafood joint overlooking the water, and watched the surfers ride the waves at sunset. There is also a poppin’ Arcade next to the boardwalk. The Boardwalk is basically a lively carnival that goes on year round with games, rides, and even a free movie night on Wednesdays on the beach. We only live about an hour away and it will be a great place to relax on the weekends if we need to get away for a day-trip. That is something I love about where we live. Monterey, Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Tahoe, and many other destination places are basically day or weekend trips if you have the time. And….The FOOOOOD. Oh, the food. It’s too much to handle. We are trying to figure out what to do for our anniversary coming up in a few weeks and it’s maybe one of the most challenging decisions of our marriage. Just too many darn good options!

IMG_7332IMG_7326

IMG_7321

Now, we probably should have not tried to go on a Saturday afternoon in the summer. The traffic and parking was nuts. We finally ended up finding a spot and spent a good chunk of time playing games, riding rides, and taking in the view of miles of glistening water. DJ and I split up with the girls since they had different interests. I went with the younger one and we ran into some Disney Princesses walking the boardwalk. Perfect time for a selfie! We also tried to stand in line for a funnel cake since they had never had one, but the line was at least an hour long. We promised them we would find them another funnel cake soon!

For dinner, we ate at a place on the Boardwalk called Gilda’s. It had the very hometown, diner feel that just has quality food-the bread and butter, fish and chips, no-mess-around-good-tartar sauce and coleslaw type of place that just beckons when you are near the sea. We did have a slight scare when I was sitting at the table and felt something crawling on my back. I look over my shoulder and a bee is just casually basking in the sun on my left scapula (nursing talk). I didn’t scream- hard to believe, I know. I was able to blow it off of me and when it fell to the ground DJ kindly killed it. We kept our cool, generally speaking. It was ironic too because we had just been talking about how many times we had each been stung in the car on the way up.

After dinner we began the winding ride on route 17 back home. Once again it was during the time with most likely the heaviest traffic. We have a great deal to learn! When we got home we realized that we did not take the house key with us. I thought DJ had the house key, and DJ thought going through the garage house door would be sufficient. Well the garage door was locked. WHOOPS. I was a salty, salty peanut. So here we are at 10:30 at night with a couple of girls with full bladders sitting in the car with no idea how to get in the house. Luckily the girls knew a neighbor, who was still awake, thankfully, who let us in. It’s all good! Worst case scenario we could have gone to our place, but none of us had anything since even DJ and I had packed our clothes, toothbrushes, and other everyday essentials to the girls’ house. The girls were TROOPERS through the whole thing. Like I said, 10 and 12 going on 25.

IMG_7367
love this pic of them <3

 

IMG_7354

This morning I squeezed in a quick five miler before the heat hit. We then went to the same church from last week. It was a joy seeing familiar faces, and most everyone remembered our names. Everyone was beyond welcoming. The founder of the Church (from Australia) came and spoke. We had great conversation on the way home about the service. Tonight we are heading to Sean Mendes in concert! The girls are beyond excited (as are we). More to come with that!

Wishing you lots of beautiful adventures,

xo <3

Mack