Monterey, CA- Big Sur Marathon! 

I am beyond pumped to share this post about the epic marathon weekend! I didn’t mention the marathon too much on my blog leading up to it because I didn’t know if I would be able to run the race with the new job’s schedule (we work a ton of weekends). BUT I was able to get race day off and lemme tell ya, I’m forever grateful for the beautiful memories that elapsed in that small time frame. I needed this weekend too- as ya’ll know I’ve never been more exhausted or stressed physically and emotionally than this last month-so this was pure therapy.

Last minute my mom (Momma Jill) arranged to fly in for the weekend since DJ couldn’t go to the marathon with his work schedule. However, the day before she flew out she was in the hospital diagnosed with a fractured foot. I insisted  that I would be fine going alone, but I’m selfishly pretty darn glad she was adamant about coming! After all, she is my good luck charm at races! She is one tough cookie, I tell ya what. (shhhhh she isn’t wearing her boot in a lot of pictures- I may not have been the best nurse by allowing that one).

When she arrived Friday evening we headed to Rootstock Wine Bar on Main Street Cupertino.

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We ordered some bruschetta to share and a couple glasses of wine. The last time she was here, Main Street Cupertino was still entirely under construction. She was blown away by how much it had evolved! We stopped into 85-degree bakery to visually digest the exotic, massive, and drool-worthy desserts before heading back to the apartment. I will try the calamari ink roll one of these days!

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We were both pooped and fell asleep pretty early (after some ice cream, of course). DJ had some time in the morning before he had to head into work so we went to Bill’s. Surprise, surprise! It’s basically becoming a weekly tradition. You can read all my reviews about it here, here, or here.

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After a fantastic breakfast, DJ zipped to work and we began our trek to Monterey for the marathon!!!! (I kept thinking back to my and DJ’s our anniversary celebration and it made me miss him lots! During the actual race I passed the place we stayed which was pretty fun).

 

One of my favorite parts about races is the Expo! There is always an exorbitant amount of energy and excitement (plus the SWAG is pretty great too).

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This expo was pretty small, held at the Portola Hotel and Spa. There were limited vendors, but with the expo’s location there was plenty to enjoy outside anyway. I laughed because in typical Northern California style they had wine samples rather than the CLIF Bar samples you would see at most! For those that want to run this marathon in the future, make sure you stop by the Expo to pick up your Bib #, a bus ticket for the hotel you are staying to the race starting line (there is no access otherwise), and your T-shirt, of course!

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After strolling the expo, my mom and I walked around downtown Old Monterey. This town is so sleepy and quaint, even with all the commotion of the race.

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We decided to follow this sign to go to the water. We were quickly drawn into the downtown boardwalk with colorful storefronts, tourist landmarks, and each passing restaurant passing out samples of their individualized “claim-to-fame” recipe of clam chowder. My mom and I sampled all of them and were shocked at, first, how delicious they all were, and second, how different each one tasted!

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I hadn’t seen the show Big Little Lies at this point, but my friend, Kelsey, is obsessed. I started watching it this week with a free month HBO trial and cannot stop. It’s so good.

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They call me ‘The Bird Whisperer’ in these parts

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Around 3 pm we were able to check into the hotel we were staying for the evening- Monterey Tides. I found this place pretty last minute (with not being SURtain if I could make the race) and chose it because it was one of the cheapest I could find on a booking site. We were blown away by how gorgeous this place was- I kept thinking there was some mix up because this honestly underpriced!

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The hotel attendant said that it may be a couple minutes, so we decided to enjoy some drinks while overlooking the sparkling Monterey waters. My mom and I even saw our first whale!!! It was quite SURendipitious that we were staying at this majestic place!

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The room was super nice with a beachy feel- Definitely what you would expect from a place named “Monterey Tides”.

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After dropping our stuff off it was time to head to dinner. In order to not fight driving and parking, we decided to uber to the famous Mediterranean Oasis, Epsilon.

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From the decor, to the friendly staff, to the unbeatable Greek cuisine- this place was superb on every.single. level.

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ATTENTION ALL CARB LOVERS: You need to hear this. I was fascinated with their bread and dip combo. The waitress explained the way they make their dip is by actually putting sourdough bread into a food processor with olive oil, garlic, and salt (perhaps a few other secret ingredients too). Right before she walked away she said, “Just dip that bread into that bread!”. I may have to try making this at home. Talk about a fantastic pre-race carb-load meal!

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And their hummus…. hands down, no questions asked- the BEST hummus I have ever had. My mom took the first bite and I could tell by the look on her face that it was going to be just that. It was smooth and creamy- absolute perfection.

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And whenever there is octopus on the menu……

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Marco Prime’s is still forever my favorite, but this was satiating. It had a grilled flavor and almost tasted like steak. MMMM mm.

We also had to delve into their greek salad, because duh

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My mom and I split the vegetarian combo plate. Combo plates were created for the indecisive individuals in this world, like myself, so I was ecstatic to see everything we were wanting to try coming on one plate. It had imam byaldi (the “priest fainted” vegetarian eggplant dish), falafel, and dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves with rice and herbs). It all surpassed any greek food I have ever had, but the eggplant dish was particularly out of this world!

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And one can never end a mediterranean feast without baklava. Ya’ll know I am a strong believer on having a sugar-laden dessert the night before a race. Good Heavens, I can’t even explain…

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We headed back to the hotel to watch the peaceful, perfect sunset.

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We were in bed by 8:30 pm and fell asleep almost instantly.

3:30 AM my alarm went off and it was time to race! I was giddy and energized. I downed a cup of coffee and grabbed my No-Cow bar and Boom Chicka pop bag for the bus ride to the race. My mom drove me to the drop off point to pick up the bus shuttle at Embassy Suites (only a couple miles from Monterey Tides).

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The bus ride was about forty-five minutes- 30 miles south from Embassy Suites to the starting line. The race was a straight shot back north for 26.2 miles. I made some friends during the ride, everyone swapped race stories, goal times, jobs, and hometowns. The camaraderie of the Big Sur runners was unlike other races I have been. We laughed about the fact that this bus ride felt super long and yet we were about to be retracing the trek in just a couple hours. The scenery was kept secret by the dark nightly veil of mother nature, so even if you tried to get a peak of the views out the bus window all you could see was piercing black.

When we finally arrived, we still had about a mile and a half walk to the start. I had no clue where I was, but I just followed the masses of people as they unloaded off the buses.

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Finally! The starting line came into view.

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It was crowded. I get it- the forest isn’t exactly conducive to ten-million porta-potties and 4,000 people, but holy smokes, I really felt like a sardine!

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People lined the paths with coffee in one hand and a banana in the other. I love races for the people too- racing brings together all types. #peoplewatching

They provided fruit, coffee, tea, and water at varying stations around the starting line. They also have a truck for you to drop your bag with warm up clothes or anything else you need before the race that they then drive to the finish line. I loved this system!!! You just put a sticker provided with your bib number in the bag. After the race it was clear where to pick up your belongings and overall a super smooth process.

Now, if you are a runner, you know the STRUGGLE of trying to time the bathroom appropriately with the start time. You don’t want to go too early, but you don’t want to be anxiously waiting too long when everyone else is lined up at the start.

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And then it was time to begin!!! My heart swelled with excitement, my stomach filled with butterflies, and after taking the last couple days off running I was biting at the bit to get going. Considering I hadn’t trained much for this one compared to my other marathons I was hoping to at least finish without an injury.

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We started out in three separate waves, I ran in the second; the weather was pleasantly cool and the air smelled like pine and cinnamon. If there wasn’t enough adrenaline already, Highway One greeted us with the most intoxicating views at every turn. Each picturesque scene of the landscape had a way of taking your breath away while simultaneously giving you a second wind.

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I’m quite SURtain this is one of the most magnificent places that exists on planet earth.

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During these races is when I feel most myself, where I feel that all is right in the world, and all my cares dissipate with every step.

We embarked the renowned Big Sur bridge at the halfway mark .

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They even had a pianist playing whimsical tunes dressed in full performance garb!

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Around mile 15 I like to start using Gu Gel (they provide it twice during the race). I have half a packet at about mile 15, 18, 22, and then 24. It works!

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To avoid the head winds, I drafted a few different people throughout the race. Drafting works well, but you have to be pretty secretive about it, or you’ll creep the person you are following the heck out. Let’s chat if you’ve never heard of this. It’s essential for this race and saves SO much energy!

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YesSUR!

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At mile 23 they handed out the best strawberries I have ever had. It was similar to eating pure sugar! I wish I had snagged a picture!

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All done!

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Thank you, Aunt Terry, for the congratulatory beads all the way from New Orleans!!!!

Race Results!

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This was far off my PR of 3:38, but they say to add 20 minutes to your PR time with how challenging the course is (13th most challenging in the world), so I’ll take it. Plus without training for it and the stops for photo ops, I was happy to break 4 hours!

At the end of the race they handed out boxes of muffins, pretzels, cookies, minestrone soup and Sierra Nevada Beer. After races I’m not very hungry for about an hour- so we walked around a bit, basked in the sun, and then decided to head out. At this point I decided I was starting to feel my stomach growl. Warning: Once the post-marathon hunger begins, it’s insatiable for about three days!

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My mom suggested we go back to the hotel we stayed at the night before for Brunch (it was only about 11 am at this point!). She had breakfast there in the morning after doing yoga and said they had a great menu.

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She did not lead us astray! Multigrain avocado toast with poached eggs and a watermelon feta salad helped refuel the carbs, protein, and was still light enough to not upset my somewhat turbulent stomach.

And of course, mimosas are necessary after every long race.

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We headed back to the apartment and eagerly awaited DJ to come home so we could go out for a Mother’s Day dinner, since we wouldn’t actually be able to celebrate on the day of!

I was SURprised that I was actually feeling pretty decent after the race. I usually am zonked out for about two days after, but I had that adrenaline still running through my veins!

We decided to go to LB Steakhouse on the Row. I had never been, but DJ said it was delish. We looked over the menu and both agreed it looked like a great place to dine!

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I’ve walked past LB a trillion times while on the row, and their faux cow skin lined chairs always grab my eyes!

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Isn’t she lovely?!

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My love ❤

We started with their Spanish octopus, which seemed harmless, until Mama J took a big bite of that pepper right on top…

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Her face went from surprise to a twisted, tortured expression in seconds. She was not just startled by the spiciness of the pepper, but rather in literal pain. I was confused by her reaction because she loves spicy food and can tolerate spice more than most people. (We ask for the “hot” food at Indian restaurants- if that gives you an idea). She flagged down the waiter and could barely talk. She reached for anything on the table to calm the fire overwhelming her mouth. He brought out milk and she said it was helping. I felt horrible, and jokingly said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”. I was also so confused how something they could serve could be that horrendously spicy. I picked up what was left of the pepper and out of curiosity touched it to my tongue. The small portion that I had touched to my tongue felt as though it blistered my tongue (and she ate the ENTIRE pepper). I can do spice with the rest of them, and this was not edible. It turned out there was a mix up- the restaurant meant to order the sweet haberneros, but rather served one of the hottest variations in the world. Let’s just say, this was something we laughed and literally cried about. I think I will forever have trust issues with peppers after this experience.

But the rest of the octopus was great! It sorta reminded me of pasta salad!

DJ ordered lobster bisque- not our favorite (‘Cause naturally I stole a couple sips), but it was still good.

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My mom ordered the seared scallops with misty artichokes and sweet harvest orange butter. I swapped her some of my salmon for a scallop (we classy), and not kidding- one of the greatest scallops ever. I think the only ones I have personally had that has topped it were Farallon’s!

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Steak and appropriately spicy pepper for Deeeej.

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Salmon for me. This really hit the spot. The salmon was perfection and nearly melted in my mouth.

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After dinner, well I guess more during dinner, we decided Cheesecake Factory’s cheesecake sounded like a perfect finish to a great weekend. We headed across the street and all put in our orders for cheesecake to go- Original for Mama J., Oreo Dream Xtreme for DJ, and Chocolate Hazelnut for myself. I was feeling adventurous and for some reason this flavor sounded so good. I can officially say it may be my new favorite. I can’t believe it doesn’t get more love! It has such a nice moosey texture mixed with the fudgey chocolate and sprinkles of coated hazelnut. I will be getting this one again!

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After savoring our Cheesecake, we headed to sleep. Monday, Mom J. had to leave at 4 am for the airport, and I was up at 5 for work. I was supposed to have Tuesday off (which I was looking forward to rest my legs), but I ended up having to work Monday-Wednesday. I think it’s by the grace of God I SURvived because I do not know how I made it through those shifts at work!

But I do have to mention- I worked with lumbar drains this week and it was one of my favorite days yet. I am getting more in the groove of actually being a neuroSURgical nurse, and while the learning curve is steeper than the hills of Big Sur, I am feeling more competent. I also passed the EKG exam I have been studying for the last couple weeks!!!! Hence, I was able to care for my first tele patient this week and loved it! This also means I am officially done studying in all my free time and I can catch up on your blogs- watch out- I’m about to blow up ya’lls notifications and I cannot wait… I can’t thank you all for your encouragement through this crazy adjustment in life.

Last- if anyone has any questions about the race feel free to leave a comment or contact me. I know lots of you are runners!

Oh, oh, oh! AND major congratulations to my other blog ladies- Tara at Runandlivehappy and Taralynn at SimplyTaralynn for both annihilating their half marathons!!!! ❤

Blog Birthdays in May:

Kimberlee at anotetohugette

Katy at katyslifestory

I absolutely adore these two lovely ladies. Their writing and stories are inspirational, and they have the kindest hearts. I hope you two have wonderful birthdays this month!

xo ❤

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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. 😉

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

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

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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.

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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! ❤ Thanks again for all those, mom! Best part of my birthday fo real dough. Anyway, I digress. But the taffy was spot on.

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Rach is a lefty. This picture was essential!

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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).

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

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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 ❤

Mack

Whirlwind of a Week

Well, ya’ll! I just want to take a moment and thank everyone for their sweet and kind words from our anniversary and wedding posts. (Also- I will finish the road trip eventually, promise!) RECAP time!

Thursday 8/4:

Thursday morning we came back from Monterey and spent the day unpacking, cleaning, and ordering DJ’s books for school. Thursday night I went hiking with one of the community groups I joined from church. It was a beautiful hike at Montavlo Arts Center in Saratoga. There is a gorgeous Renaissance style mansion that has a pavilion for concerts, plays, etc., but the surrounding mountain makes for excellent hiking. Out of all my hikes here so far, I have not gone out at dusk. From now on this is when I am going to do them. The cool, dusky air and the way the sunlight pierces the trees with the vibrant oranges and reds surrounding the mountains is enchanting. I did have one minor mishap though. This was my first time meeting any of the other hikers; I didn’t know anyone. Our conversation was smoothly flowing; I was meshing well, having a ball, and then WHAM. In typical Mackenzie-style (ew, third person), I fell (not gracefully whatsoever) and slid down part of the hiking hill. Score. It was easily the hardest fall I have ever had on a hike. (That says a lot considering falling is sort of my forte). Everyone was so sweet though and I was able to laugh it off. At least I made a memorable first impression 😉

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Friday:

Now that the house is stocked with groceries, I am like a kid in the candy store. There are so many recipes I have been saving, ideas I have, and new foods I want to try. It felt SO GOOD to be cooking again. I also think it made our apartment officially feel like home. Every time I go to the store I try to feed off of what we already have in the pantry to try and make sure nothing goes to waste. I know that those canned goods are fine until like 2090, but still, it feels good to use something up that’s just been sitting there! Lately I have been craving mussels. I saw in our pantry we had sundried tomatoes, tomato sauce, and artichoke hearts. I thought a Mediterranean mussel dish sounded just amazing with some garlic bread on the side- mmm mm. DJ is always up to try an original of mine, but I can never be 100% confident how it will turn out. It was delectable!

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Saturday:

DJ delved into his books most of the day and I volunteered in San Jose with another community group. It was one of those times that I was not obligated to go; part of me just wanted to stay at home and be lazy all day, but the other part of me nudged, nudged, nudged and said, “get up lazy butt”. I prayed about it and then realized it was sort of funny praying about if I should serve others- HELLOOO. Once I got there I was so glad that I did. I met a girl from the church and we instantly hit it off as friends. We were assigned to a water/pop station to hand out drinks, and for those four hours we talked, laughed, and served the most adorable kids in all the land. She is also in a very similar stage of life as I am. She recently left her job and does not know what she is doing next. I was able to share with her some of the things I have been learning, and she offered me encouragement as well. We made plans to go hiking and foodie-up Silicon Valley together. What perfect timing too considering that DJ is starting up school. GUYS! I HAVE A FRIEND :)! I have met a lot of great people through church, but this is the first person I have plans with outside of the church events. I left the service project feeling energized and excited. It reminded me of when I was in grade school and made a friend for the first time. Here I am at 22 years old, really going on 5. Nice to meet ya.

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For dinner we had leftover mussels and these yummy shrimp rice rolls with a homemade thai peanut sauce. Seafood for dayyyyyz.

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Sunday- Sunday we went back to the same church we have been going to. Starting off the day worshipping with other believers is the greatest thing. We then went to Living Spaces in Fremont to pick up our TV console for the bedroom and a headboard. I am itching to post photos, but I will hold off until it’s all done. I started to get hangry on the way home, so DJ told me to eat my “emergency Quest bar”. I always have either a Quest or No-Cow bar on hand because no one likes the wrath of a hungry stomach. After a nice run, I whipped up some delicious stiryfry. Stirfry is so easy, filling, and tasty. I made DJ’s with some chicken, and mine vegan with Boca crumbles. I decided to wrap them in some Nori Seaweed wraps. Sometimes cooking for two can be a challenge, especially with the improvisations, but I always like to find something creative to do with anything leftover. I used about three small chicken tenders for DJ’s stir-fry and then baked the rest to make simple shredded chicken for lunch sandwiches or a quick snack for a protein boost.

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I gave DJ a haircut for his back-to-school look. Cue the awwwws. Not sure why he let’s me touch his hair, I have way too much fun with it and get a little razor happy. But it ended up looking pretty good. This is how our typical haircuts go initially:


Monday- This was our actual anniversary, but as you know we celebrated it last Wednesday. With DJ’s orientation starting Tuesday we spent most of the day making sure everything was set to go. We went to Target and stood next to all the cute little mamas doing back to school shopping for their little tikes. I offered DJ my syringe highlighters, but he refused, so we got him some “normal” ones. (Syringe highlighter definition: highlighters that look like syringes. As an almost-nurse I think they are pretty dang awesome). For dinner we did –drum roll please- BLUE APRON!

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Have any of you done this? It’s pretty stinking fun. Basically they deliver you a box with tons of fresh ingredients, “knick knacks” that include any small dashes of things you may need, and an instructional sheet to make everything step by step with pictures. This is great for anyone that is beginning to cook as well because they are thoroughly descriptive in each step. Also- I think it would make an awesome date night idea. It has ideas for wine pairing with each meal too. In a few posts back I mentioned how we received all these coupons when we first arrived and one of them was for this food delivery service. I always have wanted to try it, but it seemed like a lot of money for just three meals. But with our first order, we received $40 off, how could I resist? The first recipe we tried was the Spicy Peperonata Pasta. I thought it seemed pretty romantic for an anniversary dinner ;). It was out of this world, and I’m not even a big pasta person (I know, sin). DJ said it tasted so “fancy”. I would go into an in-depth description of this, but I think you just have to try it for yourself! We have yet to try the curried catfish and quinoa bowls, so stay tuned! Sadly, we didn’t have our one-year cake topper, but my mom sent us a cheesecake factory giftcard to get some cheesecake in place of it. She knows us well, I do say! Anyone have a favorite there? I can never decide, Oreo is probably ours.

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Tuesday- Orientation day!!! I had a list up to my ears with things to do, but first and foremost, we had to get the hubs off for the day. I made him a parfait with Greek yogurt and then we said our goodbyes.

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It was so strange saying “bye” to him. Since we have been here we have done the majority of things together. Even when I would make trips to the store or what-not it wasn’t for extended periods. I am realizing that I am about to see my husband a whole lot less, and it’s hard! However, I am so thankful for the memories we shared this summer and know that the time we do have will be treasured. When he came home, I was an Anxious Anna to hear about the big first day! He said that it went well! I could tell he felt relieved just having that initial first day over with. I spent the day assembling our end tables for the guest room, running errands for things we forgot to pick up on our runs over the weekend, and making several returns. We did watch Bachelor in Paradise, ugh I really feel quite ashamed to admit it. Horrible show, terribly addictive. Don’t recommend it; we love it.

IMG_8194Wednesday- You know the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? That was my Wednesday. Nothing went right.

  1. I woke up with a tremendous headache. It went away after chugging some water and coffee, but it always had that dull ache throughout the day.
  2. I missed my annual doctor’s appointment. I thought it was next Wednesday, but when I double-checked my calendar, I had that “oh no!” moment. It was an easy reschedule, but I hate doing that to anyone. I know that doctors have a tight schedule, and I never want to be the person to just not show up. I apologized profusely, and they were understanding about it.
  3. The sewage line in our apartment’s car garage broke. I went through four years of nursing school and nothing smelled worse than that. Nothing.
  4. DJ said he would like to get a bookshelf for all his law books soon. I thought it would be fun to surprise him and have one ready for him when he came home. I went to Target and spent a good chunk of time surveying my options and then chose one I thought would be perfect. It was the last one too- don’t you love it when that happens?! I lugged that incredibly heavy piece of furniture through the parking garage, up the elevator and into my house myself *wipes dirt off the shoulder*. I was pretty dang proud that I could do that considering my lack of upper arm strength. I excitedly got to work. I almost put it on my Snapchat story, but then I thought, “Nah, bookshelves are the easiest things to assemble, that would be silly”. What happens then? I break it. In the middle of assembling it, I had the weight distributed probably incorrectly and the whole thing collapsed. We are talking wood splinters flying across the room. I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry.
  5. I stubbed my toe. That’s enough to make a day bad in and of itself- can I get an AMEN?
  6. I called the nursing licensing board to see where my application was in the process of being approved. Long story short, after calling thirteen times and being on hold for twenty minutes, the lady talked to me more condescendingly and with more ambiguity than anyone I have ever met. I know that’s an extreme statement, but I have never felt more belittled. At this point in the day I just broke down. There I was sitting in the Target parking lot with my pathetically broken bookshelf that mirrored my emotions so perfectly in the backseat and sobbing. I say this not for pity, but because reflecting back it is HILARIOUS. I called my friend, Rachel, as I was running errands and as I recounted the day she laughed harder at each event I rattled off. That’s when I knew that it was just one of those comically bad days. Also, I know that in the grand scheme of things, the day wasn’t really that horrible. It simply is one that could have been worse, could have been better, and I count my blessings.

On a bright note, I whipped up one of the most refreshing lunch dishes! I am dying to share this because it is something that everyone will love with no scary ingredients 😉 I had leftover quinoa from a dish I made last week and through in some mango, pistachio, lime juice, and threw it on a bed of kale. (Wait, kale might be scary?) I missed DJ during the day and was glad to hear that he still is feeling pretty confident about the year to come. For dinner I took the leftovers from lunch and tossed it in some chicken for the carnivore hubby. He said it reminded him of ceviche, which is quite the compliment considering that is one of his favorite apps to order. All the fruit here is absolutely amazing. It just bursts with flavor. I’m not sure if it’s just because it’s summer or if it is always like that out here? In the midwest, the fruit only tastes extremely fresh in the summer. I just bought a pineapple that I cannot wait to carve up! For myself, I wanted some comfort food. I made my “famous refried dip” as we call it with lots of veggies.

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I ended the night with a Dreyer’s light mint chocolate chip ice cream cone. I have this theory that nothing tastes better after a good cry than mint chocolate chip ice cream. Next time you have a good tear drippin’, try it! (Not that I wish that on any of you?!).

Wishing you lots of stable furniture,

xo ❤

Mack