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

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

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

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

Aaand here are….

Part One

Part Two &

Part Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Also some proof that DJ isn’t always working 😉

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hope you have a great weekend all!

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

Question for you: 

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

xo <3

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Kels & Kenz Take on the Bay: Part 3!

Hey ya!! Welcome to our third Installment of Kels & Kenz Take on the Bay! If you missed the other posts, you can find Part One and Part Two in these links. So far we have only covered 1 entire full day in those two posts, and it truly may take until the end of September to recap it all, haha.

Let’s just jump in shalllz we? After we hopped off the Ferry, Kels and I needed something to wake us up a bit from the lull of the boat. We decided there was no time like the present to grab Peet’s! We both got Half- caff almond milk cafe au laits. Unfortunately, the barista didn’t do a great job with the milk, so it was flat and subpar compared to usual. I was disappointed for Kels that it was her first Peet’s experience, but at least she was able to try it! And the caffeine did the trick!

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We still were a bit chilly walking outside and hungryyyyy! We had dinner reservations at 9:15 pm, so we decided to get a little appetizer (it was about 6 pm at this point). We headed to a BL (bucket list) location- Boudin Bakery! I had never tried their bread, but they are famous for the freshest and greatest sourdough.

On our way we stumbled across a Ben and Jerry’s carnival. I just love how there is always something going on in the city!

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Kels did the truffle toss and won! woot woot!

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We happily munched down our little free ice cream samples (YUM) then continued along Embarcadero to Boudin.

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Finally- made it!!! Check out these fun shapes made from the bread…

img_1964-1img_2040**waiting a half hour to get a seat** This place is poppin’!

And finally finally– time for the famous sourdough bread bowl with clam chowder! It was PHENOMENAL. It was the perfect snack to warm us up after weaving through the thick San Franciscan fog. (aka Karl, someone named our fog. Haha).

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So we were a leeeetle bit nervous when we were eating our sourdough bowl because Kels’ phone was dead, mine had 1% remaining, and our emergency charger broke. We were at least 4 miles from our hotel and were planning on Ubering or Lyfting back…. we both had blisters from walking in our heeled shoes all day and were freezing in our light clothes we worn to wine country. Once we finished up the grub, I called the Lyft with the 1% I had left and we got the pickup JUST in time before my phone died. Thaaaank you, Lord! That would have been a brutal 4 mile walk (it felt like it was in the low 40s by this point).

We arrived to our hotel for the evening! We decided to stay in the city since our reservations were super late and DJ had a late game anyways . Also, we found a reservation at the Sir Francis Drake at a wonderful deal! The hotel was named after the Elizabethan era sea captain and was founded in 1928. It has quite the stunning history- you can read here if interested (or if you may find yourself staying at this historic landmark someday).

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At any time, there is a greeter dressed in the archetypal costume standing out front the hotel.

The lobby was spectacular- a true historical feel, yet also feeling anything but antiquated.

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The room was so fun! It had bright reds, large 16th century inspired paintings, and was clean as can be for being such an “old” hotel. The ONLY issue we had during the stay was the slowness of the elevator. It was crazy slow – like a snail’s pace + molasses. But they did have signs all over asking for our patience while they remodeled/updated their elevators, so we couldn’t be too upset about it.

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We changed super fast after checking in. Check in took about 30 minutes, and by the time we were in the room it was about 8:45 pm. We had literally 15 minutes to change and get out the door to make our rezzy on time. We slapped on some touch up makeup, I used my “cruise” lip color that I haven’t used in a while, and we hit the road!

**middle school mirror pic** haha

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But in order to hit the road… we first had to run down 18 floors to make it to our Lyft ride on time (the elevator was not budging, so we resorted to whipping down the hotel’s staircase hoping he wouldn’t leave without us!).

We found our Lyft ride out of breath and practically sweating. The driver was so kind and understood about the elevator issue. We headed to another BL item for the evening. The ultimate ultimate BL item I have had on my list in bolds and italics (one day soon I will actually share the list here!). I knew Kels would appreciate it too! Drum roll please….. Foreign Cinema. 

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The entrance is easy to miss, it is very tucked away in the shadows in the Mission District, but the minute you step through the doors you are in another world!

This restaurant is not your standard restaurant. It is a restaurant that takes you to Paris, under twinkling lights in the great outdoors. There are heaters to keep you nice and cozy and a foreign film to accompany your meal. It’s like being at a fancy drive in, dressed up, and eating superb nomz.

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We started with their Patio Spritzes. Kels had their strawberry infused lillet blanc & I tried their pamplemousse one. They were delicious- refreshing and light- exactly what we were craving.

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For an appetizer we shared their oysters- the most stupendous oysters of the trip. Every oyster throughout the weekend we tried was wonderful, but these were hands down the absolute best. I keep telling DJ I want to go here again just so he can try these!

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We then split the tuna tartare for our meal. It was magnificent. Bursting flavors. You cannot go wrong here!

img_2047Kels and I are both guilty people-watchers, so we quietly evaluated and tried to figure out the groups and couples around us. Humans are fascinating. It was too fun, and I think we missed our callings as psychologists (or psychopaths).

Time to turn in for the evening after a super fun night!

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In the morning of July 29th, we got up around 8:00 am and then drove back to Cupertino. We had some avocado toast then hit the road to make the 11:30 service for Church!

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I was excited to take Kelsey to our home church, Vive! It’s one of my favorite parts about living here, and I am always stoked when company stays over through a Sunday so we can go together, and I can introduce them to my church fam.

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Afterwards we went to none-other than the most ubiquitously mentioned restaurant on this blog… can ya guess it?

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Tammy met up with us and the three of us ordered all the classics to share. Starting with my fave- the French Garden omelette (with egg whites!). It has goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, mushrooms, and basil! It’s just too good. And their country potatoes are the also the best around (Although Los Gato’s Cafe’s potatoes  do vy for first place).

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Next, we had their tremendous crab cake benedict (although I have found a better one I will be sharing in a few posts 😉 ).

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And perhaps one of my favorite brunch dishes ever… the salmon benedict.

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& A side of their blueberry pancake

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Time to go hiking!!! We drove to the Redwoods in the Big Basin. The drive is treacherous and I was white knuckling the whole way down, but we made it! (if these look familiar it’s because I was here just a couple months ago with Tammy 🙂 ).

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Kelsey had never seen Redwoods before, so this was a must for her trip here!

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It ended up being SWELTERINGLY HOT- in the nineties I believe, but we made it to the top!

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Jus’ hanging around

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We were parched when we returned. This water was liquid gold to us!

Our big simba baby water bottle . *Cue Circle of Life*

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On our way back we pulled off to the side of the road to an overlook and saw the most breathtaking view!

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We headed home, and quickly became aware of how hungry we were!

We decided to knock off a third BL item and go to Palo Alto’s downtown to try sushirrito! (yep- a sushi burrito!).

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These were truly rawesome. We tried Geisha’s Kiss and the Latin Ninja. Holy cannoli guacamole- I am craving another. I need to try their Sumo Crunch wrap soon which is their famous one.

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To end the evening we walked around Main Street Cupertino, made a pit stop into Target for some sweets, and then decided to do dinner number 2!

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And where better than the revolving sushi bar, Kura?! You may remember “Kula” from the beginning of the blog when DJ and I went allll the time, but they recently changed the name to Kura. You can read how it works in this post if you are interested!

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It’s not the highest quality sushi, but it is always a fun experience!!! I loved watching Kels’ expression as the conveyor belt of sushi glided past us. We had our fill then called it a night to get a great night sleep before a big beach day!

Question for you!

  • Favorite brunch dish/ brunch restaurant?

xo <3

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Valentine’s Day on Top of a Mountain

Hello, hello! Happy Thursday (maybe Friday) to you all! I am sitting here all cuddled up in my the coziest of all blankets and do not intend to get off the couch all day. I always say that, but I go stir crazy after a couple hours. (edited in note: I put in a good three couch potato hours…better than normal!).

Anyways, I have some updates, that you probably saw a sneak peak of if you follow me on Instagram!

This past week has been crazy busy & stressful- but oh so GOOOD! February 7th I started my day with some delicious yogurt toast and a protein bar (no cow).

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I’m pretty peeved because No Cow just changed their formula, and I do. not. like. it *toddler stomping feet*. I am clinging to the last few of the old ones I have, but they are quite evasive now. Has anyone tried the new formula? What are your thoughts?

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I LOVE THE GRIT! It’s what made it perfect with a cup of joe. Ah, No Cow, breaking my heart.

At about 10 am, I met my sweet, fellow nurse, friend from Church, Kim for some coffee in Campbell. Barefoot Coffee is some of my favorite around.

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She’s too stinking cute!

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We had such wonderful & much needed conversation (& venting). It’s so nice to talk to someone who just “gets it”. I am very thankful for her <3

The rest of the night I spent prepping for my interview. Unfortunately, that night my laptop stopped working. Good timing for an upcoming online interview, huh?

That meant February 8th I went straight to the Genius Bar, praying to God that this was a salvageable issue.

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While my computer was being worked on, I trotted down Santana Row to try to get some fresh air to calm my nerves.

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Thankfully, it was an easy fix! We are back in business, baby!

I scrounged up what little was left of the day to meal prep for the weekend, prepped for the interview, and focus on staying calm stocked up on more brown paper bags.

I had a hard time focusing with three days of work staring me in the face. Lemme just say, in nurse world 2 days vs. 3 days is a tremendous difference. Friday, the 9th– Sunday the 11th were some of the most challenging shifts I’ve had, acuity wise and emotionally.

Every morning feeeelz….

…. Hopefully we can get both eyes open by the time we pull into the hospital.

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I kept it together for the most part and can see how much I have grown in one year. I would have fallen apart at the seams last year with this assignment. Still, when Monday rolled around, it all hit me. By it all, I mean the emotional toll of everything….. My patient’s stories, their cases, their families…. it all fell on me in what felt like a single moment. I was on a run and just started sobbing. I let myself feel for the first time since starting that stretch of days. I was honored that God entrusted me with each of them for the weekend, but needless to say, I was exhausted and depleted in every way.

Monday, the 12th, was not a lick productive.

I did get a quick trot in though.

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I spent the evening reading with our TV fireplace flickering, and Halo Top in hand trying to distract myself from my nerves.

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February 14th. I woke up early to get ready for my 9:45 am interview via Zoom. It went well, I think! This is a distance based program and our number one choice (probably)… but the chances of getting in are slim. I don’t quite have the experience that others applying for the program have (It’s a doctorate program). I do have a chance of their MSN program hopefully. A few hours later I found out from Vanderbilt that I was accepted into their MSN program! WOOHOO! I was accepted into two/three of the programs, now I’m just waiting for this one last decision… the suspense is real! I should know by end of February/early March.

After the interview, I ran for a while, then jotted to the mall to find something to wear as I realized I had nothing for Valentine’s Day! I found this on sale. Wooohoo!

Deej gave me this sweet rose <3

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Nooow time for our Valentine’s Extravaganza!!! DJ and I haven’t had a date or much time together since San Diego. We decided to splurge a little to celebrate Vday, the interview being over, and now getting into one of the big schools I was pulling for. We decided not get on another gifts or anything and just have a stellar dinner.

Someone at DJ’s work suggested the Mountain Winery Valentine’s Day dinner. We don’t usually do much on Valentine’s Day, maybe make some make your own pizzas, last year I did a race in Sausalito… I don’t really get the point of Valentine’s day… because isn’t the day to celebrate love your anniversary? It’s kind of a double anniversary? But I’m still for any excuse for chocolate, dinner out, and a chance to brag on my amazing man!

I went to Mountain Winery once with Rachel over a year ago. It’s absolutely gorgeous. The views are breathtaking.

They host concerts in the summers in their stunning outdoor pavilion.

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We were greeted in an indoor heated tent with a rose with our table number and a glass of Rose.

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The best part? The cheeeese!!!!

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It was a fantastic cheese bar- with crackers, figs, nuts, fruit, and every type of cheese imaginable.

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Round One..

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After about a half an hour of mingling, we were taken on a tour of the estate. It was fascinating, but freezing! I kept thinking to myself, “Roses are red, my lips are blue, if we don’t go inside soon I’m going to LOSE IT”. Ok, I am a bit dramatic when I’m cold, but I was shivering something fierce!

It was totally worth it, especially for the views!

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We then snaked to our florally decorated table. Somehow we ended up with Table 1 and were in a nice exclusive corner table.

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We started with some clementine and pesto (or something like that) for a palate cleanser. The seemingly incompatible flavors actually worked very well.

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To start, we had scallop three ways. These included citrus scallop ceviche with avocado, seared french scallop tartar with crispy kale, and grilled scallop over mango puree with mizuna salad. Our favorite was the mango purreed…. mmm mm!

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We then had for the second course butter wedge lettuce with medley carots, roasted beets, whipped goat cheese, with blood orange and herb vinaigrette. It was accompanied by Sauvignon blanc- our favorite of the wine tastings.

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The third course presented with sea bass with basted shrimp, lentils, braised leeks, and rainbow chard with a lemon beurre blanc reduction. I want to cry because I want this again right now. It was too good.

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The fourth course consisted of steak duzelles on a bed of smashed fingerling golds with creamy blue cheese, charred veggies, and chanterelle wine reduction. I gave deej my steak, but the rest of the dish was fabulous.

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And to top it off, we were given an intermezzo of limoncello with ginger cream and deconstructed strawberry shortcake with red velvet sponge, champagne lime sorbet, and strawberry reduction. It was all tremendous.

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It may be my favorite Valentine’s Day we have ever had together. I’m so thankful for my valentine. <3

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Each couple was gifted a bottle each to take home too.

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I woke up early this morning, the 15th, to go to work to get my annual TB test blood work done. I’m actually a smidgeon nervous for the results because I have cared for TB patients quite a bit this year (of course proper isolation in place), but I can’t help feel a tiny bit on edge. Especially with how stinking sick I’ve been this year. I’m sure it’s fine. It’s fine, right? Cool it, Mack, your hypochondriac is showing. I’ll know for sure in about three days to settle my little paranoid mind.

I spent the day cleaning, answering e-mails, texts (gosh, I’ve been bad bad bad with the texting lately), and other misc. items on the to-do list. I had a great big salad with a bean burger & some green alkaline juice for lunch while watching Winter Games. It hit the spot.

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Right now I’m eating sushi and going to tie up loose ends for my project. We have our last class next week! Almost. there. One more month until graduation!

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Have a beautiful weekend, everyone!

xo <3

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ALL. THE. FUN. In Fort Worth, TX.

HEYYY YAAAA’LLLLL! This past weekend was nuthin’ but good, Texan fun. It’s actually one of those posts that I’m nervous to write because I feel like I won’t do the weekend justice! Also, fair warning that there are about a million pictures on this post- I had zilch chill when it came to the snapshots. We all know I break about every rule in the blogging book: My posts are too long, I share too many pictures, I make horrible jokes, and I ramble like a middle school girl on the phone. BUTTTTT at least I’m honest about it, right? RIGHT?!

I only find out my schedule about four weeks before, so impromptu planning has forcibly become a newly acquired skill. It worked out that I had four days off in a row, and I had to make the most of it. DJ couldn’t make it with the uncertainty of work, so he was surely missed.

I haven’t seen my mom since the marathon and my step dad, Pete, since Christmas, so I though this would be a perfect time to pay them and my fave lil’ town a visit!

Real quick: If you want to read other posts about the fort worth travels you can check it here or here!

Last Friday (8/11), I worked all day, came home, scarfed down some food and then went to the airport to catch a red eye at 1 am.

I sat down to catch up a little bit on blogging while there. I thoroughly enjoy my “me time” while traveling alone, but man oh man, I was so tired it was hard to even keep my eyes open. I hate being tired- growing up I used to say sleeping is such a waste of time, and I never have really enjoyed it. But this was one of the top five moments of exhaustion in my lifeeeee. My body was like, “whyyy must you torture me like this, go.to.sleeeeep”. Needless to say- I have never longed for or appreciate sleep so much as I do now with this nursing gig.

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I slept nearly every second on the plane ride. I didn’t even wake up for the snacks- yup, that’s how tired I was.

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I had a short layover in Houston. When I arrived in Fort Worth at 8 am on Saturday, I grabbed my suitcase from baggage claim and felt such a great excitement/relief when I saw my mom pull up. I was ecstatic to see her, and also pretty darn excited to find a real live bed with a pillow instead of an airplane tray table. As soon as we arrived, I exchanged a hug with Pete and cuddles with my puppy.

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I decided to take a “quick nap”. I ended up sleeping until one. I never do that. It reminded me of the days of coming back from nursing school and zonking out for hours on end. There is just something about being at your parent’s house that you feel like you can actually relax 100%.

Once I woke up, we went to The Keller Pointe– the local workout facility.

After working out, my mom and I chatted in the hottub (It’s actually so nice after those workout chills set in!)

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And of course, what’s a mother daughter hangout without some sushi!

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We then got ready for our family night out!!

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Dallas/Ft. Worth was having it’s BIG restaurant week! It’d be a crime if we didn’t attend as self-proclaimed foodies. During restaurant week different restaurants create a menu that usually has a three or four course meal with a flat rate, which is way more reasonable than what you would typically spend. You get to sample several options from the menu, pair it with a wine, and get the experience for a decent price! We all haven’t been together since Christmas, so we joked that this was a combined birthday, Father’s Day, new job, and almost making it to the six month mark celebration! Any excuse to celebrate 😉

My mom blew up my e-mail with suggestions to view while waiting for my plane, which is perfect because one of my favorite past times happens to be researching the best local food spots in town. Eddie V’s caught my eye. Not only were they voted the BEST seafood restaurant in the US of A, they also are known for their wine selection– so there’s that.

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The whole restaurant was nothing but class and elegance. The description on their site describes them perfectly:

Eddie V’s charismatic vibe draws you in and holds you close, invites you to be seen, or sit back and just savor. The finest seafood and steaks. World-class wine and service. And live jazz in the V lounge. Eddie V’s can be found across the country. While each location is unique in its setting, artwork and décor, they all share an unmistakable elegance.

If you have a special occasion to celebrate and need a great night out- this is your place. They have several locations in the US- you can see if there is one near you here.

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Of course, for anywhere to be top notch, they served delicious warm bread and butter. The butter was topped with chives and paprika- I’m saving this combo for a rainy day.

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We started with the Maine Lobster Bisque. It was flame. We thought it could have used a bit more actual lobster, but it was still fantastic.

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My mom and I also split their season salad. It came with full parmasean slices and an olive brushetta marinade. It was the best compliment to the heavy lobster bisque.

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Now to get to the main course… I had the salmon with young vegetables and a mustard vinaigrette. I feel like the picture just speaks for itself. It was phenomenal.

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My mom ordered the swordfish with lemon, olive oil, sea salt, and asparagus. It was pretty simple, but absolutely fantastic. I honestly don’t know if I preferred the salmon or swordfish. Both were scrumptious beyond description. They were not lying about good seafood.

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No worries to those carnivores out there….Pete ordered the filet. It was cooked to PERFECTION.

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And just when we didn’t think the meal could get better… then we had the au gratin potatoes…. it was consensus that this was the best part of the meal. Until…

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…..we had dessert!!!!! Wow oh wow. I’m not even exaggerating when I say this was some of the most mouth-watering dessert I have ever tasted.

First, we tried the butterscotch panna cotta. This had salted caramel, walnut pralines, and biscotti. Not sure what it was about this dessert, but it was seriously some of the greatest flavor I have ever experienced. It was smooth, creamy, and full of such intensely pleasant sweetness with a light finish.

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And last, but ooooh certainly not least, we tried the Hot bananas foster butter cake: flambeed table-side and served with small batch butter pecan ice cream. It was easily the tastiest bananas foster I have ever devoured.

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On Sunday morning, we headed to church. Everyone is so friendly in Texas. It was a great service and nostalgically pleasant to attend Church together like the ole’ days!

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When we got back from Church, I downed a piece of toast with better n’ peanut butter PB & honey. We then went to Keller Pointe to workout!

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In the afternoon we went to one of our favorite places in Fort Worth, TX- the Stockyards!

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The Stockyards has a rich western history, and still to this day has the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive! People line the roads like they are getting ready for the Macy’s Day Parade.

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We didn’t actually attend the drive this time, but I’ve seen it before and it’s pretty neat!

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There is a little gem of history with every step you take, a new story to be uncovered, a piece of the past to be explored. The boutiques and locally owned shoppes are part of what I love about it most too- #shoplocal.

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My momma and I headed to Cowtown Winery to try a couple flights before heading to the premier event for the evening.

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The people next to us were so friendly and immediately struck up a conversation with us. I miss the friendliness….. In California you’re lucky if the cashier at the grocery store acknowledges your presence…. ok ok it’s not that bad, but people just keep more to themselves around here!

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And thennn for the main event of the evening….

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We hit up the nationally renowned Billy Bob’s Texas. This is basically like a right of passage if you claim to know anything about the Fort Worth area.

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This place is considered the world’s largest Honkey Tonk. Check that off my bucket list.

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It’s MASSIVE. It is truly hard to describe. There are about four bars alone in the one massive room, a ring for actual bull riding (not even a mechanical one, a real one), and an energy that fills the whole arena.

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We realized we were pretty hungry, and decided to split the portobello mushroom sandwich and sweet potato waffle fries. They were both so good. There was actually cole slaw on the sandwich, whichhh may be the best thing eva. If you go to Billy Bob’s do yourself a favor and try their sweet potato fries!

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What was this epic event occurring for the evening?! The World’s Largest Karaoke Competition! This was the finals of three rounds. It was such a memorable night- my mom and I realized we were probably the only two attending that didn’t have any personal emotional investment in any of the contestants, but we soaked up every second. The tunes were amazing, the talent was incredible, and did I mention the sweet potato fries?

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Also I had such a surreal moment where I actually put my hand in one of the actual cast members of the The Temptations. SWOON.

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When we got home, we spent time chatting in the hottub, listening to the quiet, quiet night only with the gentle soundtrack of chirping crickets and basking in the warm embrace of sleepy, nocturnal wind. That moment reminded me so much of Ohio. I needed it – especially now… just the peace and solitude, the feeling that nothing exists except the trees swaying above you, the hum of creatures in the grass, and the quiet- the utter hush and white noise of nature, a symphony in it’s own right.

I slept so deeply that night. The next day, Monday, we headed to Seven Mile Cafe– a staple brunch spot in Keller!

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They have a giant chess board outdoors… I mean… come on..

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Plus, it’s basic as me, so naturally, it drew me in…..

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The food is boss here. The service not so much, but I guess they can afford to be slow considering the food is worth the wait. Pete ordered their California burger, I ordered their create your own omelette, and momma Jill ordered their Vigas. The Vigas is hands down the thing to order!

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This is the vigas below- it has seasoned tofu scrambled with tortilla strips, jalapeños, soyrizo, onions, tomatoes, avocado, and served with black beans and a side of tortillas. It was veryyy vigalicious.

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And of course we had to finish with one of their homemade cinnamon rolls. Can’t go wrong with that!

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When we got home, my mom whipped up us iced lemonade and basil for the road! Time for the beach!

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We went to a new spot my mom had been wanting to check out- Little Elm Beach. The City of Little Elm is darling, and the fact that they have probably one of the only little beaches in the state of TX makes it a perfect getaway spot.

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Recently obsessed with La Croix- any one have a favorite flavor?! I love them all- but I think the coconut may be the best!

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We walked the beach and took a swim in the comfortably tepid water. I love swimming, but haven’t in a while. It felt tremendously refreshing to be in the water again, especially in that Texas heat!

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After we dried off a bit we went to the Little Elm Lakeside Trails to scope them out.

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They actually reminded me a bit of the trails in Ohio, ohhhhh how I miss the CVNP!

When got back from our sun & fun filled day, I whipped up my stuffed sweet potatoes for my momma to try! We devoured these suckers then headed to, sadly, the last adventure on the weekend agenda..

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PAINTING WITH A TWIST! I have wanted to do this for ages, and there was one basically right in my parent’s backyard in Keller!

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If you don’t know what Painting with A Twist is, lemme inform yaaas. Basically, it’s a painting class, but the “twist” is you can bring in a bottle of wine, snacks, etc. and you paint while sipping!

You just register online and they have everything set up for you- the canvas, the paint, the water, the brushes- all you need to bring is yourself…. oh and your beverage of choice, ohhh and your chocolate of choice 😉

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We also won the “selfie competition”- yes, so slightly cheesy (literally and figuratively- womp womp), but we won and got two painting with a twist tumblers so 100% worth it!

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Priorities….

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They have plenty of photo ops all over the place!

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Tell me she isn’t just the cutest?!? Plus she had the best painting in the class- not even kidding!

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I woke up at 5 am on Tuesday to head to the airport and head home. It was the hardest thing to say goodbye. I grabbed some Starbucks to help with the grief. They always misspell my name so that at least provided a sprinkle of humor.

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Welp, this may officially be one of my longest posts ever. If you stuck through it I give you props! I hope you all had the best weekends! Anyone do anything crazy or fun?

Blog Birthdays:

Kristy from Southern In Law on August 12th. Guys, Kristy always has such yummmmy, healthy eats and her pictures alone will make your mouth water! She also is super candid about her life and such a joy to follow.

Dani Jane from A Beautiful Thing on August 17th. This lovely London lady blogs about literally everything, from fashion to travel to restaurants- you must follow her now if you don’t!

Happy birthday to you both, I hope it was wonderful 🙂 Sorry I’m a bit late!

xo <3

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A Perfect Pittsburgh Wedding!

Happy Hump Day, ya’ll. How were your 4ths?! If you have a link to a post about your celebrations feel free to leave it in the comments 🙂 I’d love to hear what you all were up to! Mine was super laid back because this past weekend was busy as could be, and I was running on no sleep. Hence I dreamt of all things vegan bratwurst and fireworks as I slept a majority of the day away. DJ had to work all day anyway, so it worked out well.

I am stoked to share about the epic wedding this past weekend!

On Thursday morning I quickly packed for my flight. I never pack the day of, but since I worked nearly four twelve-hour shifts in a row leading up to it, the last thing I wanted to do when I came home on Wednesday night was pack. I Ubered to the airport and had the most phenomenal discussion with my Uber driver. She gave me such great encouragement and actually we talked about the blog a bit. I gave her my blog name, so if she happens to read this I send her a big hello and thank you for her sweet conversation.

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I took an American Airlines flight from SF to Chicago to Pittsburgh. My first flight, the long one, had selections for movies still in theaters! I was surprised! What are some of your favorite airlines?! I was thoroughly impressed with American.

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I didn’t end up watching the movies, but took that time to type away for my last blog post. It was the definition of therapeutic. So needed. As soon as I pressed that “publish” button I felt like I could take a deep breath. It was metaphorically, yet tangibly, cathartic to just get it all out. It was as though I untethered the shackles of difficult moments and trials from mind, and grasped ahold of them- drowning them in truth and light.

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It’s weird, but only when I travel do I really crave pop (or soda, if you aren’t from the midwest). I even received a whole can– wooohooo. American Airlines stepping up the game. What is your go-to flying beverage of choice?

The family I sat next to were headed to Sutton’s Bay and Traverse City from Sydney, Australia. Small world! I gushed about my love for the quaint city and gave them a mile long list of fantastic restaurants, highly suggested Bardon’s epic ice cream shop, and emphasized the need to go to the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Their little girl fell asleep on my shoulder at one point, so precious.

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I lucked out and was assigned the window seat. However, I did have to monitor my fluid intake, otherwise I would be getting up to go to the bathroom every five seconds per usual. Road trips can be a bit of a pain with me because I tend to chug water on the heels of my morning joes. Zero chill.

I barely made my second flight because our first one took off late. I also misread the SUPER confusing signs to my gate and ended up having to go through security again. I was definitely that person- sprinting through the airport with bags flying and a crazed look on my face. But I made it. I even had a few moments to scarf down my airport sushi just in time to board– hoooolllllaaaa.

On my second flight I sat next to a Russian man who is an expert in acarology (the study of mites). He was giving a lecture at OSU about it. Pretty quickly into our conversation he asked me, “Are you afraid of death?”. I was taken aback but it led to some interesting conversation.

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I Ubered from the airport to the hotel. It was about a forty minute drive. I spent the entire forty minutes chatting with a die-hard Pittsburghian about the day in the life. If anyone wants to be convinced by someone that Pittsburgh is the best city to have ever existed in all of history and all time to come, this is your guy.

I arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn in Cranberry at about 2 am. It was a very nice Hilton! I highly recommend staying here if you need a reasonably priced place to stay in Pittsburgh.

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I couldn’t sleep one wink on Thursday night. Actually, that’s a lie. I fell asleep around 5 am and slept until 6 am until my neighbor decided to blow dry her hair. I couldn’t fall back asleep. I chugged a cup of coffee & decided to run to try to wake up my body. Also, does anyone else just love hotel coffee? I swear there is something about it that just makes me giddy (and not just from the caffeine). Maybe it’s just the adrenaline of travel that is associated with it and the good times that leave a great taste in the mouth.

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I then headed to the venue at Freedom Farms to help the rest of the girls set up for the wedding. I was stoked to see Lyndsay, the bride to be! She is one of my dearest friends since middle school. We attended youth group together all the way through high school. We have literally been through it all together from sharing countless laughs, tears, navigating boys (oh boy), going on trips in the US to the Dominican Republic together, growing in our faith, eating absurd portions of pineapple pizza at the pool in the summer, strumming our guitars in worship and just in our spare time, splitting a dozen donuts in one sitting at a dive in Indiana, cheering each other on in track meets even though we were competing schools, getting ready for a plethora of church events and getaways, and she was even the one who sat with me in silence after my dad passed away, my deepest heartbreak. She is as loyal as they come and has always been a role model of mine. I love her deeper than just a friend, she is a sister to me.

We were just missing our Clair, our good friend who is having a baby and was due on Lyndsay’s actual wedding day! The babe still hasn’t came, but literally ANY second now. Eeek!

Here is a little walk down memory lane….

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I was honored she asked me to be a bridesmaid, and I was beyond thankful (and shocked) that I could make it. I also haven’t seen her since my own wedding– two years ago! The reunion was quite special. I quickly got to know the other amazing girls in her bridal party and exchanged hugs with her family. They were like a second family to me growing up. I and my dear friend, Sarah, arranged the bouquets for some of the tables. I loved doing this. In another life I’d like to be a florist.

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The venue was incredible. I wish I had taken more pictures, but we were busy bees getting ready for the big day and just soaking up the precious moments! If you live in Pittsburgh and are looking for that rustic, yet elegant, venue- THIS IS YOUR PLACE. It was straight out of a fairytale.

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All of the creative touches actually outdid Pinterest. Lyndsay ironically was the first person who I ever heard about Pinterest from! Ahh, to think back to when we both started planning our weddings all those years ago.

Below is a picture of all the bridesmaids & Lynds (in white). I think this picture sums us up way better than the more normal ones we took 😉 Gosh, it was the best bunch of ladies.

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The rehearsal dinner was in-cred-ible. She served Greek food with wide arrange of marinated olives, hummus, baba ganoush, tabouli, pita, lamb, chicken, feta, dolmas, rice, and finished off with the best greek desserts ever (naturally I tried them all- the baklava was baklavamazing).

I scarfed it all down before I could grab a picture. Once I finished the food I decided I needed to find out where this was catered from. Lyndsay said it was actually her good friends, a life mentor, (with no Greek heritage), who cooked the food. I was blown away. I found the lady and by occupation she is a physician’s assistant. She said she just grew an interest in Greek food and was determined to learn how to cook it. We chatted for a while about cooking (she’s my new inspiration) and about medicine. In a little over twenty four hours I had met a diverse number of new, unique, and wonderful people.

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Friday night we headed to Lyndsay’s to do nails and spend some last minute reminiscing before she took the plunge into wedded bliss. Ugh, I love her so much.

Saturday morning we went to the hair salon to get that hair did. It all went smoothly and was a blast! We were in and out in about less than hour. CRAZY!

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Lyndsay was nothing short of perfect for her day, inside and out.

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This is Sarah’s hair- It looked identical to the picture she showed it was nuts! I had to take a picture.

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This was my up-do. I did a braid into a low bun.

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Mimosa time!

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We all did our makeup together at the hotel and then packed up to go to the venue. Things were getting REAL!

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I am obsessed with this photo below because this is just Lyndsay: All dressed up and effortlessly gorgeous with her yoga mat and Nalgene bottle in hand. She literally drank from the Nalgene at the venue all night. I love how true to herself she is in any situation. It’s always been something I’ve admired about her.

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Even the ride to the venue was such a blast.

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We made it!

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We took all our pictures with the party which may have included chasing a chicken, but we did not catch it, unfortunately. We also all gathered before the wedding to witness the magical first look! It was the type of first look that didn’t leave a dry eye to anyone who witnessed it. The day emulated the beauty of the union- it was supposed to rain, but the rain held off and the sun made it’s presence known, wrapping each guest with the warmth and glow that radiated from the love of the couple.

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Here is a picture of the bridesmaid’s bouquets! Stunning, right?!

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The ceremony was the most Christ-centered, loving, sweet, and beautiful wedding I think I’ve ever been to. The message from the pastor (Lyndsay’s father) resonated with me big time. The way Joseph looked at Lyndsay melted all of our hearts. The whole day was PERFECT. I know I have used that word far too much, but seriously- there is no other way to describe it.

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Reuniting with friends I haven’t seen in forever was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. I missed these people beyond words. Seeing them all made my heart so happy. <3

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**CUE THE TEARS**

For dinner there was burrito bar. YUUUUMMMM.

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They are the stinking cutest that ever was.

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And the rest of the night was followed by dancing our tails off.

At the very end of the night, all us bridesmaids and Lynds had an impromptu dance to “Marry You” right before the sparkler send off. As cliche as it may sound, it was seriously a cinematic movie moment, and I can’t imagine a better way to send off my best friend, my sister, into her next stage of life.

That night I left for the airport around 3 am. Needless to say I slept every minute on each flight on the way back. When I arrived around 10 am (SF time), DJ picked me up. I went back home to sleep, but in the afternoon we went to Bill’s to have a nice breakfast together.

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It was a quintessentially perfect wedding weekend that I felt blessed to be a part of. Joseph and Lyndsay are a tremendous couple that already are changing and inspiring others’ lives.

Thanks for sharing in this weekend with me!

xo <3

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A Super Quick Update!

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HEY YA’LL!

Long time no seeeeee.

I have a sweet & short post about what we have been up to lately (well, relative to my other posts) . I received a text from my mom yesterday saying she was concerned since I haven’t made much contact with anyone the last week or so. NO WORRIES- all is well & good just busy, busy.

It reminded me that I haven’t updated the good ole’ blog baby in a while. I need to write an entirely separate post soon about what I have learned this past month in regards to nursing, faith, and dealing with some intense emotional battles. It’s been nothing short of a glorious, ferocious, awful, and beautiful rollercoaster.

That will come soon… I travel to Pittsburgh this weekend so I’m thinking the flight may be a good time to unravel that one.

But for now, for all our friends and family that are all, “How the heck are ya, where the heck are ya, and what the heck are ya up to?!” … this is my response!

I graduated from the FACC series class last week (Foundations of Acute and Critical Care Training). That means wayyy less online work, aka less free time sucked up, and more consistent 36 hour weeks in the hospital rather than sporadic classes mixed with shifts. HALLELUJAH! I learned so much through this series and while it was a major time leach, I am incredibly grateful for all I learned.

Alsoooo..come on now- this cake..

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. Hahahahha. I know it’s bad, but I couldn’t help but share. Our FACC leaders definitely have a good sense of humor (which I have learned is entirely necessary in nursing).

DJ’s doing amazing at his job working with the SJ Giants in marketing. I admire him beyond words with the way he has handled this job and the integrity with which he also handles the challenges. He has been an outstanding leader in our small group through church as well. Unfortunately, I haven’t been to our small group because of work, but DJ has been leading a good deal of the sessions. I am just thankful I have him as my rock as we go through this hard, hard year.

We both are in such similar places of navigating the season of NEW. New jobs, new coworkers, new schedules, new responsibilities, new frustrations, and new memories! We still hardly see each other but soak up every second when we do.

Many evenings I get home and go straight to sleep after a 12 hour shift, and can’t do much the night before a shift considering I have to get up at 4/4:30. But some nights when I don’t have to go back the next day I try to just soak up that alone time.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy those quiet evenings are in my feng shui hangout eating sushi, drinking some wine, and reading or watching a reality show. Call me basic if you wish, but these sushi rolls are ANYTHING but basic.

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A place near our apartment called Azuma can be delivered through GrubHub. I oscillate between the 49ers roll (eel, avocado, and other assorted fish), and the sunshine roll (lemon, tuna, eel, green onion, and avocado)…. with brooownn rice. Brown rice adds a texture and heartiness to the roll that I love.

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It’s all so delish. Probably the two best sushi rolls of my life. But I have a problem. When DJ and I went through the budget/spending this month I embarrassingly replied “Sushi” when he asked what each purchase on my card was from. Whoops. Girl’s gotta eat. #sorrynotsorry. #sushinotsorry.

Speaking of eats! Here are our other recent ones..

I have been LOVING my turmeric cauliflower mashed potatoes with black bean burgers, hummus, and parmesan asparagus. You know I get on kicks, and this is the most recent! I also love topping it with basil.

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Flat-out pizzas are always a good go-to. If you’ve never tried a good flat-out pizza, it’s definitely worth a try- especially if you are a lover of thin crust pizzas! Each flatbread is only 100 calories, and then I top with vegan cheese, tomatoes, basil, and oregano to make a mean vegan margarita.

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It’s also been a while since I’ve made Indian. When we lived in our Toho in Indiana this was one of my favorite meals to make! DJ loves it too. For myself I make a vegetarian version with dosa, idli, and tons of curry laden veggies. For DJ I make chicken tikki masala with jasmine rice and naan. Who doesn’t love naan?! If you don’t know what naan is, you don’t know what life is, so please stop reading this and go try some naan.

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Did you try the naan?!?

I’m serious.

Try it.

Now.

Since I am leaving this weekend, I made DJ tons of BBQ chicken, parmesan rosemary fingerling potatoes, fried okra, and wild rice.

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Alsooo, I may have casually ordered a jillion gallons of PB2 on Groupon. It was a steal!!!! Pb2 is so dang expensive, so when I saw this Betty bargain steal I had to jump.

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Ok, ok you caught me. When going through the budget and spending it goes like this … Sushi, sushi, PB2, sushi, overage data fees while blogging about sushi and PB2, sushi.

I’ve also been running a ton to deal with my stress. Lately I’ve been listening to podcasts rather than music. Just wait for the next Friday Faves, folks, and I will divulge some of my loooves. Anyone have favorites out there?!

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Last Thursday I got my hair did! Wooohoo!!!! The roots were so bad. I am in the wedding Saturday, so I felt like I had to be somewhat presentable for someone else’s forever wedding photos.

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After getting the roots all touched up and a nice (MUCH NEEDED) trim, I was craving me some boba. Luckily, next to the Aveda salon on Santana row there is an amazing Boba shop It hit.the. spot. Especially because it was way too hot that day. Raise your hand if you love boba?!

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FINALLY one of DJ and I’s days aligned for a day off last Friday. We started our day off by sleeping in until the cows came home.

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Then I was craving boba, … so… boba.

We also decided to try out Game of Thrones. Holy maloly- it’s entralling! Does anyone watch? Yes, it’s pretty dang explicit, but I know most shows are out of the gate to get more ratings. The story line is just insanely good. Any thoughts?! We love it.

For dinner we tried the newest addition to our little Cupertino downtown- Stein’s Beer Garden.

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It was one of those places that just has pizzazz.

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I loved the feel. It was beery unique! There is a literal wall lined with faux foliage in a modern, industrial environment.

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The staff was super friendly off the bat. While there was a bit of a wait, it was worth it.

We started with complementary pickled veggies in a jar. I don’t know why more places don’t do this! It was such a great mini app. I didn’t even miss the typical starter bread (GASSSSPPPP!).

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I’m not big on beer, but felt like I should at least try one, considering it’s in the restaurant’s name. The only kind I really like that I’ve tried are Sours. Their Mango Gose was surprisingly refreshing with the meal I had!

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I tried the roasted beet & smoked salmon salad with arugula, chevre goat cheese, and spiced pecans. It was fantastic! (Also- PS. I just have to tell my Aunt that she would LOVE this place, it’s so up her alley, so ya’ll need to come back soon!).

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DJ tried the Yucatan Pulled Pork Sliders with chili paste marinated pork shoulder with chipotle aoili chicharon, cilantro slaw, jalapeno, and roasted tomato salsa.

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The rest of the night we flew through a couple episodes of GOT, then we both worked all weekend.

Fast forward…

It is currently Wednesday evening, I’m on the heels of 4- 12 shifts nearly in a row. I’m not sure my mind is all here and this post probably has a million errors haha. I’m haphazardly watching bachelorette and realizing I have a million things do before 10 am tomorrow. Oh well. It will get done, it always does.

I leave tomorrow for Pittsburgh and don’t return until Sunday. I plan during that time to catch up on blog comments and your blogs too (although, I’m not sure the 7 hour traveling day in the air will have wifi?!)..

Monday is back to work and then I won’t see DJ again until Tuesday, but he works most of the time too. Also- my best friend’s baby is due this week, and I can hardly stand it. This time of life is wild, and hard, fun, challenging, and rewarding. I know we will look back on this year and see it as one of the most transformative for the both of us.
What are you all up to this weekend?!

xo <3

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Week(end) recap & First Day on the Job!

Happy Mondayyyyy!!!!!!!

Maybe your Monday has been like this….

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Or, perhaps, like this…

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Based on the amount of caffeine I’ve needed to support my 2.5 hours of sleep and first day of work (hence the 2.5 hours of sleep), my Monday has been like this…

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I will recap how today went a little bit later. But for now I will give a short little recap of our week/weekend.

Last week I had to finish up last minute things on the checklist to get ready for work. On Wednesday night we met our friends (Danielle, I went on the hike with ,and her husband Matt) for sushi.

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We just love hanging out with them. Except they are forever cooler than us because they have Australian accents!

This might be my new favorite sushi place in the area. I love everything about the ambiance, and the sushi was superb!

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DJ ordered their lobster tempura roll and I may have snuck a few extra bites when he wasn’t looking… because YUM!

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I ordered a bit of a unique dish-but  I cannot wait to order it again! It is called the “Feel Free and Fresh Roll”- this is a cucumber wrapped roll with salmon, yellowtail, white fish, crab and avocado topped with creamy ponzu, apply pear, and tobiko. It was the most refreshing roll I have ever had. It is hearty too- with all the good protein from the fish. The whole thing was just a winner, and a new fave. Don’t be surprised if you see this little guy poppin’ up more around these parts 😉

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Thursday I went on a nice long run outside. I snagged this picture without realizing I was stepping in a beehive. WHOOPS! No worries- no stings, but it was a close call. I probably looked hilarious to the cars passing by as I flailed in a million directions while doing a furious pat-down to make sure no little devils were on me!

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I also went to Santana Row while running around getting last minute things for the job. H & M is a winner for business casual! I also finally found a great hair salon that doesn’t cost an arm & a leg… it only costs a hair!!! LOLOLOL. Ok- come on, that was one of my better ones, eh?!

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Thursday night I made another Blue Apron meal for DJ!! I have had SO many people ask me about Blue Apron, so I reached out to them to see if I could get a discount for my readers! If you go to my About page, I have link for $30 off your order! This service is a life saver- especially on busy days, and you will learn tons about cooking and how to use a vast array of different ingredients in the process!

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This night we made Oaxaca Plantain Tortas with sautéed shallots and red peppers. I didn’t know what to expect, and I wasn’t sure how DJ was going to respond to them, but he gobbled them right up! The combination of ingredients in BA always surprise me, but they always work!

After dinner we went on a nice walk together. Something I miss about our Indiana days were the walks we took after dinner when the weather was nice. Life is getting crazy, DJ isn’t returning home until 7:30/8 every night now (but he loves his job!), and soon I’ll be leaving before he even gets home (Get used to working that microwave, baby!). But it makes us appreciate the time we do have together, and reminds us to stop to smell the flowers 😉

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FRIYAY= ST. PATTYS DAY!

Ya’ll know I get wayyyy too worked up about any holiday. Mom L and Gordie sent us these gorgeous flowers as a thank you for the weekend, but also as a Happy St. Pat’s day. Now if that’s not permission to get into the spirit, I don’t know what is!!!

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ALSO, I am convinced that I have a sprinkle of Irish in me because I have freckles. And Mackenzie is a somewhat Irish name, right? It has an “M” and a “C” soooooo…………… I’m basically a leprechaun.

DJ rolled his eyes about 290359 times at me during the night when I said, “Kiss me, I’m Irish!”

He denies that I have even a smidgeon of Irish in my heritage.

I’m coming for ya Ancestry.com

But for real, who doesn’t get a serious case of FOMO if they aren’t Irish on St. Paddy’s?

Anywho. Ain’t gonna let the DNA keep me away from the ST. PADDYS DAY!

I had to make sure that we had our “Irish pub fix”. DJ and I have never “celebrated” this together before, but I didn’t want to miss the chance to take advantage.

Where better to go than Historic Murphy Avenue in Sunnyvale?

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We never knew this area even existed, but it has a street lined with darling lights, fabulous restaurant options, and interesting, eye-grabbing shops. We will certainly be back here to explore more!

In doing my “Yelp” research, I found that The Oxford is great for your St. P’s fix.

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To really get in the spirit, I decided to get an Oxford Mule (their main drink). I liked the ginger a lot, but I’m not gonna lie- I missed my Friday-date-night glass of red wine!

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Still good though, especially if you like Moscow Mules. Then again, this is the only one I’ve ever tried so I have nothing to compare it to.

This place is a fusion of all types- but I would say it’s retro london with a taste of modern industrial architecture (but maybes that’s just English style?).

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For dinner we were placed at their outfacing island. I loved this because we felt like we had the best of both words, half in and half out of the restaurant.

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It was challenging getting good pictures under the dim lighting, but I gave it my best Irish-girl shot. We started with the Monterey Squid with char-grilled squid, arugula, tomatoes, radish, & parsley relish. Every time a menu has octopus or squid as an app I basically have to order it. Why you say? Because the spanish octopus I had at Marco Prime in Marco Island was the greatest thing on the planet, and I will do anything to have that taste linger on my tongue once more. To have Spanish Octopus grace me with it’s presence……. Yes, I am the Shakespeare of food, how kind of you to notice. Anywho, this did not even come close to that level of flavor. On to the next squid..

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DJ ordered their Lamb Sliders. He devoured these little suckers right quick, so I’ll take it he enjoyed them. Orrrr he was trying to avoid conversation with me. We will go with the former.

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Now- I’m super bummin’ that I didn’t get a great picture of this dish because it was AH-MAY-ZING. Allow me to present chermoula eggplant with roasted eggplant, saffron rice, spiced yogurt, and cherry tomato crush. I don’t know what they put in that yogurt sauce- but good heavens, there are no words. DJ even said he couldn’t believe how good it was. I downloaded a saffron yogurt recipe and plan on trying to re-invent this in the future.

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DJ and I walked around Historic Murphy path after swearing we would be coming back in the near future. It was hopping since it is stacked with pub after pub after pub.
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Saturday, I got a nice long training run in on the treadmill while reading HP (currently on the third book, and I use it as motivation to get everything done during the day so I can read #HPaddict), did the household chores, and waited for DJ to get home from work.

At this point in the weekend I was feeling ancy mcnancy (Not making another Irish joke- I’m done, I promise, maybe). I was ridden with anxiety knowing I was starting up work on Monday. I wasn’t running to God’s truth and scripture much during the week, and naturally the anxiety was consuming me.

But I’m telling ya, God truly will renew our soul and relieve our anxiety, we just have to come to Him (1 Peter 5:7). I flipped open to John 14, the next chapter I was going to read going through the book of John, and literally the first verse said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

And then a few verses later in vs. 26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

He doesn’t give us a peace like the world gives- a peace that’s fleeting, a peace that is contingent upon circumstances, a peace that is dependent upon our emotions. The peace Christ has for us is lasting and sure. It is a peace that we can use as weapon when life isn’t comfortable (and it’s not a lot of the time). We can find joy through this peace in His name, despite anything that comes our way. My anxiety lessened when He worked on my heart and my perspective. His still, beautifully familiar voice (I haven’t made time for in my chaos) spoke to me and stopped the world from spinning off it’s axis-“I’ve got you” He said. He reminded me of His love and His promises which gave my heart utter, perfect, heavenly peace.

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DJ and I went on a walk when he came home. We went to Main Street Cupertino and then idly strolled other side streets. I savored each step, because I don’t know how this next chapter will look for us moving forward.

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DJ and I had a late snacky-type dinner of cheese and crackers (We have ate SOOO many cheese and crackers this week, it’s comical)…..but we still had a bit of room for more food around 8 pm. We decided to go to Rootstock, a place we had been wanting to go together for a while.

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They have an awesome bruschetta menu. We split the bruschetta (smoked salmon FTW), and I finally had my glass of red wine that I was sad I veered away from the day before.

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Sunday we went to church and then I finished up last minute errands. I made sure all my documents were good to go, and I even got a big girl purse to store everything from Target!

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For dinner we had salmon, edamame, and saffron rice leftover from The Oxford (There was tons).

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And today was the first day on the job!!!! I am wearing my Ann Taylor thrifted shirt that I bought a couple months ago if it looks familiar 😉

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GUYS- I LOVE THIS JOB! I love love love love love love love it. I am fatigued beyond words, but I love my colleagues (instant friends right there), I love my hospital, I love their mission, I love that I am only a couple weeks away from meeting my first patients as a real RN, and I am absolutely elated. The first day could not have gone better. Even on ZERO sleep, it was perfect.

I woke up (or more correctly, rolled out of bed) at 5:00 am- chugged a cup of coffee, a protein bar, & left the house by 6. The whole day the environment radiated non-pompous professionalism, compassion, joy, and genuine care for us as residents and for the patients of the hospital. Although it was mostly just logistical stuff, I truly think I gathered a great feel for the atmosphere, the expectations, and the type of program I am in. Lemme tell ya, I can’t wait to go back tomorrow. My fears have certainly been mitigated, and all I feel in this exhausted moment is blessed. I can’t wait to get on my floor so soon!

The rest of this week is orientation- same old, getting up at 5 getting home at 7 ish and then next week I have a similar schedule until I start 12 hour day shifts the first week of April. After that I transition into nights. I am actually excited about nights because I can’t sleep when I know I have to wake up early- I get all nutty about missing my alarm and stay awake like a raccoon. So rather than not sleeping nights & days, I just won’t be sleeping nights! As though this time difference isn’t enough already for my East coast folks, now I’m gonna go all nocturnal on ya’ll.

How is everyone doing?! Anyone out there legitimately Irish? Ya’ lucky ducks

Blog Birthdays!

Lathi at CookwithSmile on Thursday March 23rd

Myra at The Cooking Spoon on Monday March 26th

Happy Birthday to both of you! I am thankful for you both as blog friends and hope your birthday is absolutely perfect. You deserve to be spoiled and know that you are SO loved!

xo <3

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A Valentine’s Day Weekend Recap!

Hello, friends!!! I am officially taking nominations for “worst blog friend ever” for the last two weeks. UGH! Life has been hectic and not only am I behind on responding to the sweetest comments in the world, but I’m soooo behind on your lives too. Just know I DO CARE. I was a bit cranky last night and told DJ it was “blog withdrawal”. Next week will be a teensy bit calmer and I am determined to catch up then.

But for now I have about an hour between getting my physical done for my job and my uniform fitting, so naturally I found a Peet’s on campus and am parked out to write a quick Valentine’s week update!

Ya’ll know DJ and I are foodies. And I’m alll about the whole “idea” and experience of a food experience. I live my life basically by a series of cliches, and I’m totally fine with it. For example, Valentine’s Day weekend… what type of food do you think of?  Italian, right?! Baci! Delizioso! Tutto finisce a taralluci e vino!!!! (yep, googled every single one of those words, the last phrase is my personal fave).

But really, what is more romantic than that? So naturally, I looked up some good Italian restaurants in SF. We found a place that was reasonably priced and still had reservations for Friday night called Bella. When we walked in, the ambiance was romantic perfection. It had a quaint “hole in the wall” type feel and aren’t those always the best? The staff was characteristically friendly and every bite of the food was purely a reminder that Italian food is one of God’s greatest gifts. (It was one of those meals where you pray before the appetizers, but then feel like you should pray again when the main course comes because…THANK YOU, JESUS!)

What we ordered:

House Red Wine: I would describe this as some type of Red Blend- not quite as dry as a Cab, more comparable to a Shiraz. Muy bien. Oh wait that’s Spanish.

Appetizer: Salmone e bruschetta: Wild smoked salmon and mascarpone bechamel over bruchetta. This was my favorite part of the meal.

Dinner: Aglio E Olio Cu Verdure for me: Garlic Confit, Peas, Roma Tomatoes, Zucchini, Asparagus, Bread Crumbs, over quinoa noodles (Yes you can substitute ANY dish for the quinoa noodles, which were fantastic!). I don’t remember what DJ had- but it was foodilicious. I liked his better than mine. The red sauce was to die for.

Dessert: They brought us out a complimentary custard dessert. We were so stuffed, but we had to try some! It was a cross between flan and cool whip, we couldn’t quite figure it out, but it topped up the meal nicely!

We decided to stay in SF for the night since I had a race in the morning in Sausalito! Hence, after dinner we went to a hotel that we found on Groupon for dirt cheap. We kept saying we don’t know how we got such a great deal on this place. I kept checking our receipt because I couldn’t believe they had a room for that low. But if you are in SF and need somewhere to stay, check out Groupon for the Fairmont .

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My favorite part of the hotel was the courtyard. It was decked out with twinkling lights and overlooked the gorgeous skyline of the city. DJ is the one between the two of us that has the directional sense, so he pointed out the different landmarks to me. We could see Coit tower providing an unique view than usual!

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We decided that pre-race desserts were necessary. I am a BIG believer in eating something sweet the night before a race. I always have my best runs when I have something sugar -laden in my system! For example, last year, DJ’s mom made this amazing rhubarb cobbler the night before my last half marathon and I swear that was the most significant contributing factor to having a great race that day! I also PR’d in high school on donuts. I experimented for ya, K? You can take my word for it!

We ended up choosing a red velvet cheesecake and a banana cream  pie to share. It was the perfect Valentine’s day dessert.

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Saturday

4:45 am-Wakeup Call!

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DJ is SUCH a trooper to always get up with me at the break of dawn for these races. He does it with such an encouraging spirit too. I am incredibly thankful for him if I don’t make that clear <3 Gonna be extra sappy because, v-tines day and all that 😉

I think he would whole heartedly agree the views were worth it. Seeing the sun rise while deep in the mountains was absolutely majestic. The waves pounded on the stone walls that lined the shore in a mesmerizing way. We couldn’t get over the beauty. And with each passing hour the sky and surrounding landscape took different forms, capturing the light in different ways, and demonstrating it’s versatile beauty profoundly.

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I ran the Coastal Train Runs Half Marathon. If anyone is considering this race, I want to give a bit of a detailed review. For those that don’t care you can totally skip this part (wait you can totally skip all of this post— but you can extra-skip this haha).

  1. When you arrive, try to carpool because you can park closer to Rodeo Beach without shuttling (and then you can wait in your car because it was freezing in the morning!).
  2. WEAR LEGGINGS! Especially if there was recent precipitation. You will be brushing up against a ton of foliage and you want to avoid getting thorns or ticks or anything like that on ya.
  3. There are two restrooms in the concrete building near the starting line. They had an additional 5 porta potties (roughly). I was able to go to the bathroom twice before the race started which is actually pretty good compared to most races.
  4. Don’t do this race as your first. (Maybe the 5k, but certainly not the half). This was the hardest half I have ever done (it’s my fifth), and I’m in some of my best shape. To give you an idea, the fastest male time was 1:33. Yeah. HARD! The first 6-7 miles feel like straight incline, so if you don’t like hills, this is NOT the one for you! (2,550 feet gained elevation). But if you want the challenge- go for it! One of my favorite things was the fact that I knew there was no way I could get my PR, so I just enjoyed it almost leisurely. I took pictures, snapchats (yes- haha), and actually tried to soak up the views around me. I have never raced leisurely like this, so it ended up being a fun, original experience!
  5. The race is not organized like most, so pay attention! When they tell you your race’s color marking strip, take note. This is not a massive race, so there are times where you may not be able to just “follow the crowd”. At times I felt super isolated in the mountains, BUT I had views of the Golden Gate to keep me company!
  6. This might be one of the most gorgeous races you will ever have the chance to run. The views are truly breathtaking. They will leave you in awe.
  7. The food stops were amazing. There were more snacks than I have ever seen (but there are only two stops the whole race- one at mile 4 (ish) and one at mile 8 (ish). There are restrooms at these two stops too, but that’s about it.
  8. There is not much cell service! If you have music you want to listen to, download the songs! I was planning on listening to Spotify, but only had about four songs downloaded. Yes- I listened to those 4 songs on repeat the entire race. HA! Needless to say, I’m not going to be listening to them again for a while.
  9. Post race- Food and snacks were ON POINT. They have alllll kinds of goodies. The fresh watermelon was my favorite. They also had beer, which I always find kind of ironic. But hey, ya earned that brewsky. (Words from a nurse- make sure you rehydrate first though!).
  10. You get to see the Golden Gate in a way you won’t be able to elsewhere. It’s incredible to run past  the notorious landmark in the mountains! Such a cool experience.

Here are some “Racy photos”. Lolololol. I can’t help myself, guys, I really can’t.

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Personal Results:

60th place out of 267 overall

3rd in my age group

Pace: 10:24 (which makes me cringe, but that’s how hard it was ya’ll!).

Final time: 2:16.

PR: 1:39.

Chelsea, I think you should take this one because you would demolish it!

Now introducing a monumental SF food update. We have officially discovered one of the BEST brunch place in SF. (Yelp confirms this!)

S W E E T  M A P L E

Where to begin? We headed here right after the race because I was bound to be garbage disposal for all things food the rest of the day. I am not usually hungry immediately after a race, but when the hunger hits, it HITS.

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It was crowded beyond belief. I suggest dropping someone off to put your name in and the finding parking. We ended up parking down the road at a meter (the meters do accept credit/debit cards!). Take my word, patience is not my strongest fruit of the spirit to be a hundo, but it’s worth the wait!

We were seated outside and they gave us blankets to help with the chill. It was a beautiful day, but I loved the gesture and the post race chills can definitely get ya!

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Post race mimosa & coffee. With it only being 10:30 in the morning, the sun shining, everyone in a jovial mood, and sitting across from my love after a great and strenuous race I had a moment of, “ahhhhh it’s a perfect day” *sip*.

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If you go to Sweet Maple, you must get their millionaire bacon. It’s sorta what they are famous for. I didn’t try it, but DJ’s expression when he tried it and his verbal expression of “this is the greatest bacon ever” affirmed it’s prized position. Here’s it’s description:

As featured on “United States of Bacon” of Discovery Network. Thick, free range bacon, baked with brown sugar, cayenne, red and black pepper. 

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DJ ordered their Swedish buttermilk pancakes. Swedish pancakes are a bit thinner than normal, which is how DJ and I both prefer ours. I’m not a huge pancake person, but WOWZA. The flavor packed into these cakes blew me away! They had almost a light cake flavor to them. And their syrup is authentic Vermont maple syrup. The whole thing- sensationally delicious.

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I ordered their athenian omelette which had mixed mushrooms, arugula, olives, and goat cheese. THe giant slice of ciabatta au levain and side potatoes that came with it was my favorite part. These were the best breakfast potatoes I have ever had (even better than Los Gatos Cafe, which is saying something!). They are a medley of sweet, colored, and white potatoes in an herbed mix. Mind-blowingly delicious.

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One of my favorite parts of the meal was their jam. Oh my lanta… I’m a sucker for a good jam and this was just top-notch.

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The rest of the day we napped, I think from like 1 to 5 pm. I ran errands in the evening and DJ and I cleaned the house a bit before vegging out to watch some Dexter.

Sunday DJ and I went to the SF location of our church for the baptism service! Our church is one church, three locations- one in Palo Alto, one in San Jose, and one in SF. Palo Alto is where the lead pastor preaches and then it is broadcasted on a screen at the other locations. The worship is live at all three locations too. Since DJ has a truck (which is not a common occurrence out here), we drove down the baptism tank. It was so nice to meet some new friends that Sunday and catch up with some old ones! The service was held at a different location than usual at the Grand Theater in Mission District (an upcoming hidden gem in SF).

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There is an amazing coffee shop next door called Grand Coffee that I couldn’t pass up to start the day.

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After service we had to drain the tank then loaded back up the tank which took some time. We finally made it back home by 5 pm, and then turned around to go to dinner with from friends at Enjoy’ Seoul at 6 pm! Sushi and seaweed salad was hitting the spot after a pretty tiring  (but great) day!

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On Monday I went with a friend to Crepevine in Willow Glen for breakfast. This was the first time I visited Willow Glen and the strip we were on was adorable. This place is definitely going to have to be revisited for date nights! We had some delicious coffee, yogurt, and crepes!

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We spent the afternoon shopping for her birthday!

In the evening, DJ and I enjoyed some DELICIOUS Shari’s Berries from DJ’s mom. YUM. They came at the perfect time for Bachelor night! This take valentine’s day treats to a new level! The truffles were divine! We savored every bite. The cheesecake was insanely good and the chocolate covered strawberries were so good it made me wanna cry. Like have you ever had something so good you just think, “Is this even legal?”. Yeah… that was Shari’s Berries. Men, take note. This is what you need to get your ladies for V-tines day next year, and it’s what they want. Take it from me!

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Tuesday was Valentine’s Day!!! DJ and I traditionally like to stay in on actual Valentine’s Day and make either pizza or pasta and celebrate the weekend before (hence Bella’s). This time we made chicken alfredo. I made a zoodle alfredo with vegan chik’n strips in mine to make it vegetarian!

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On Wednesday I had orientation for Random Acts of Flowers. This is a phenomenal organization that receives floral leftover donations from florists/Trader Joe’s/etc. They then assemble them into beautiful bouquets and deliver them to assisted living facilities and hospitals. I have wanted to volunteer with them for a while, but their orientation dates always had a conflict with my schedule. Finally, I was able to get in! It’s therapeutic making the bouquets too. They are a national organization, so if you are looking for a great way to spend your free time check them out!!!

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This is the bouquet I had the pleasure of making!

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During day Wednesday I made an appointment for a salon I had a gift card to!!! (Thank you, Aunt Terry!!!). I had the “powder” nails done, which are apparently better for nails than acrylics and actually put vitamins into your nails too. I love them!! Wednesday night we had our Bible Study group per usual.

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Today (Thursday), I am getting my uniform fitting and logistical stuff done for the job!

This weekend is going to be a BIG one. I can’t wait to give you guys an update!!!

Once again- apologies for being so MIA! I am hoping to catch up next week!!

xo <3

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Fort Worth, TX Recap!

Hey Ya’ll! Long time no chat! I am so behind on these posts, comments, everyyything- so I apologize but I will get caught up very soon 🙂 I have so many good memories to record and share. I am taking us wayyy back in time to December 15th when I arrived in Fort Worth, Texas. My mom and step dad, Pete, live there and my sister, Halston, flew in as well. DJ had to stay in Cali for work! I already recapped San Antonio, which was a weekend trip, so this post is the bookends of that weekend!

Thursday (12/15)

I woke up in the morning sick as a dog. I definitely caught whatever had been going around. DJ took me to the airport, and we realized this would be the longest we would be apart since we got married. Anyway, I comically lugged my three suitcases through the airport, unable to keep them stacked in a way that I could physically move them in unison. I’d go five steps then *flop* the one would topple over, another five steps then *flop*- I continued dropping the luggage every few feet and certainly was someone’s entertainment for the day. I honestly didn’t care, I just wanted to get through security to my darn gate. I handed off my checked luggage and was finally free from the luggage juggling circus act. Once through security, I started craving soup more than I can ever remember in my whole life. The chills were pretty bad. I walked through the airport strip and had about given up on finding soup and instead started hunting down my gate. When I was close to my gate I saw the San Francisco Soup Company and was never so ecstatic to see a soup place in all my years.

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I ordered their summer corn chowder and it hit.the. spot. It took that achy chill out of my bones and made the rest of the wait bearable!

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On the flight I read the latest issue of the American Journal of Nursing, wrote some Christmas cards, and used the tray table as a pillow. What do you guys do on flights?

After I landed, my family and I exchanged hugs and “Ah! I don’t want to get you sick”(s) and “I don’t care!”(s), then hit the road to head to Keller (a suburb of Fort Worth). On the way we stopped by the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX. My sister’s boyfriend, Kevin, was there for one more night and we said he couldn’t leave without seeing this place. It’s quite the spectacle! It’s one large hotel, but they deck it all out for Christmas. You know the saying, “Everything is bigger in Texas”? I’m pretty sure that originated with this hotel. It’s worth a quick walk through if you are ever in the area!

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Cuties!!!! (I was out of commission for pictures; I basically looked like a walking zombie).

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They have an imitation San Antonio Riverwalk on the lower level. It’s even completed with Mexican restaurants all around it. How cool is that!??!

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Once home, I was greeted by my puppy, Jade, that I haven’t seen in so long.

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On Friday (12/16) Kevin left (sad day!), and I had my hair did (insert hand flip emoji) at a Lemongrass Salon by Aveda while my mom and sister shopped. I accidentally missed my appointment that I had scheduled in California (I thought it was 1 but it was 11), so my mom graciously helped me schedule this one. I still was not feeling 100%, so it was a good day to knock this out. Getting your head massaged and roots covered is a sure fire way to make a girl feel better 😉 I swear by Aveda salons for a good blonde!

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Friday night mama Jill whipped up a delicious dinner!!! It was cauliflower Arancini via GreenChef, and we loved it! However, we both agree after using both services that Blue Apron is still the better of the two.

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I liked using the leftover cauliflower bites to dip in hummus. They were even better the next day.

That night we went to the movies. I LOVE the movie theaters with the Cafe and Bar areas. We watched Collateral Beauty. I thought it was just OK, but the rest of my family loved it. Either way it was great family time and sparked good conversation. I won’t give a full synopsis- but if anyone has seen it I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Saturday morning (12/17) We left first thing in the morning for San Antonio!!!!!!!! You can read all about our Saturday morning to Sunday evening here.

Monday (12/18) was a chilllllllll day filled with sleeping in, a workout at the local recreation center with my mama, baking Christmas cookies, and sushi for dinner. A perfect day if there ever was any! The last couple times we have been in Fort Worth have been pretty tourist packed, so we decided to take it easy this round and just relax- a word that isn’t really in my vocab too often.

At breakfast, the little stinker put on her sweet begging face. Sorry, Charlie, I like my toast too doggone much to share.

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Christmas Bakin’! I wish I could take credit for any of this, but Mama Jill was the baking wizard all the way. Her coconut macaroons are the BOMB (they are the white morsels). And there is truly something about homemade rice krispy treats!

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Tons of sushi from Kroger with seaweed salad and asian thai salad was on the agenda for dinner. (I know grocery store sushi may not sound super appealing, but I have never been disappointed!).

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After sushi, we went over some family friends’. I met them last spring when I was in town and had a ball with them. I couldn’t wait to hang out again. Their house is the most festively decorated home I have ever seen. I think the said they have eighteen Christmas trees total? Each one is decorated with a specific ornament theme. For example, they have a Christmas tree with only shoe ornaments, another with only wine bottle ornaments, another with only santa ornaments, etc.; it was an actual winter wonderland.

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She has no idea I snapped this, but I snuck a picture of this classy lady!

Also we had carolers stop by, and they were the most precious two little girls in the world.

Tuesday (12/20)

This was lounge day round two! We watched Netflix, home videos, Hulu, and grazed all day long.

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My family hasn’t let me live this clip down for years. This is Halston and I. I was NOT a nice big sister!!! Sorry, Hal!!! Thanks for not holding this against me. Love u!

Here is a picture of my mama’s homemade guac that I mentioned in the San Antonio post!

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For dinner she made roasted onion, butternut squash, brussel sprouts, and cranberries with a maple glaze. YUM!

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Every single night us three girls hot-tubbed, chatted, and sipped on wine. It was perfection. Pete was so sweet to encourage us to have our girl time.

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The neighbors next-door just had a baby, so we dog-sat a couple times in the evenings for them to lighten their load. This video makes me belly laugh every time I watch it. It is of one of the dogs (the most lovable Pitbull in the world) thoroughly enjoying a tummy rub. Yes- that is a dog making that noise. My mom at the end of the video goes, “Why are you crying, Buster?!” *That’s the dog’s name 😉

Wednesday (12/21)

Halston, my mom, and I woke up and did Insanity in the living room. All ya’ gotta do is move a few couches out of the way and you’ve got a nice gym!!

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Followed by shenanigans.

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Jadey baby didn’t feel up for the workout. Also- what a stinking diva. She literally has her bed on the bed. Spoiled pup, I tell ya what.

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After our big family workout, we went to brunch at Another Broken Egg Cafe per my stepdad’s suggestion. I think I thanked him at least ten times for suggesting this place, because it was one of the BEST brunchy places ever. Ugh, I say that every time, but I do mean it!

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They had such a uniquely delicious selection of food, and their coffee was served in handcrafted stone mugs. Doesn’t get much better than that.

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My mom and Pete said we needed to try the Beignet doughnuts. These are like the best-donuts-you’ve-ever-had and then some. SO. GOOOD. And they are served with a honey marmalade. I donut know how I have gone my whole life without them. And I donut know how I have gone so long without making an awful pun. You’re welcome.

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Us girlies tried the skinny omelette which had herbed egg whites with blanched asparagus, roasted red peppers, green onions, goat cheese and roasted garlic cloves with an english muffin and a fruit dish. They seasoned it with the most palatable herbs!!!! My mom and I placed our bets on what they were, and we actually nailed it! Thyme, rosemary, and parsley. If you’ve never tried that on an omelette, DO IT! It’s extraordinary, or shall I say “Egg-straordinary”! Ok, ok, I’m done now 😉

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Pete chose the lemon ricotta pancakes. He graciously offered us all a bite, and obviously I graciously accepted a big ole’ one. My sister gets mad because she says when I “try” something, I end up eating half of it. But, hey, tomat-oh, tomah-toe. You say “try”, I hear “sample half the plate”. Anyways, these were lemony ricotta-ey pancakey perfection.

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Wednesday night we had the Candlelight celebration at church. It worked out perfectly because this was our “faux” Christmas Eve. Although we couldn’t celebrate actual Christmas day all together, the fact that we could go to this candlelight service definitely made it feel like a true Christmas Eve celebration. It was moving, and I love seeing the sanctuary lit up by candlelight.

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When we came home we had apps while we finished up cooking dinner! The cheese was a mix of vegan and regular. I truly could not tell the difference between which one was vegan and which one was not. Usually good vegan cheeses are hard to come by, but this stuff was a facsimile; it blew my mind! We could not get enough!

Fun tip: If you need a fancy, yet incredibly easy, appetizer- try doing pita crackers + hummus + roasted red pepper + roasted onion + a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

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Although DJ wasn’t able to actually be with us, we still hung his stocking!!!

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It was nice to sit around and enjoy our apps around the gorgeous tree. It’s these moments that define the word “content” for me.

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Dinner started with goat cheese “croutons” atop a salad with pears, pecans, and mixed greens. THIS. This is going to be a tradition.

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Momma made ribs for Pete… yes, that whole thing was for Pete considering none of us eat meat. LOL. The girls had a sesame crusted tuna. I forgot to take a picture because I was a bit ravenous!

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Dessert followed with my mom’s marveeeeelous Christmas cookies and my step dad’s famous pumpkin crunch which I am beyond bummed that I don’t have a picture of. We gobbled that thing up so quick! It’s one of our favorite parts of Christmas. It’s truly something I look forward to year round.

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We ended the night with a dip in the hot-tub per usual.

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On Thursday (11/22) we had our “faux” Christmas Day!!!!! It was a magical morning followed by a breakfast of eggs, toast, and BEER JELLY! I found these on UncommonGoods for Pete. We had fun sampling all of them! Uncommon Goods is an AMAZING site for unique gifts for the family. I find most of my gifts here each year!

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Annnnnd my stocking, as well as Halston’s, was stocked with five gum, NO COW bars (lemon meringue- the best), and Quest bars. We may have a bit of an obsession to say the least…

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After opening gifts and having breakfast, I went for a nice long run. Unfortunately, the sun didn’t want to peak through too much, but it was still enjoyable. I lived in Texas in the Summer of 2015 before traveling to India, so the familiarity feels like home, even down to the running trails.

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In the afternoon I ran a couple errands with Mama Jill

You know you are in Texas when…

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That afternoon we had apps round two!

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For our “Christmas day” dinner, we started with pear salads with goat cheese, toasted almonds, cranberries, and mixed greens. I made my cauliflower mashed potatoes! I promise I will post those at some point! They were a big hit.

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We also had stuffed vegan acorn squash with fresh cranberries!

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My mom also made regular meatballs for Pete

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And we cannot forget my most favorite dish of the season: Sweet potato praline . YUHHHHMMM.

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And what is any holiday meal without green bean casserole? She made it healthier too by substituting the cream of mushroom for light and low sodium. We could not even tell the difference!

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This perfect Christmas dinner was followed by more hot tub & wine!

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Friday (11/23) I woke up early to go to the local recreation center in Keller to get a workout in before getting ready to head to the airport. My sister had a different flight than me (a much earlier one), so she was landing in Ohio as I was taking off. This is how I caught up on reading everyone else’s blogs from the week! People probably think I’m such a crazy ellipticallyng (spelling?) with a laptop, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do!

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When my mom got back from the airport, I finished packing up and then we decided we had time for one last lunch before heading out. She recommended a favorite of her’s and Pete’s in town, Devivo Bros. Eatery. It is considered rustic comfort food, but has an Italian flare! So essentially all the good things..

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We split the Kale salad with fresh kale, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, crispy tortilla strips and candied almonds tossed in a jalapeño ranch dressing as well as the white bean tomato basil soup.

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It all hit the spot perfectly, and I was so thankful for this small chunk of time we could treasure before my flight.

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Isn’t she darling?!

Time to head back to OH-IO.
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I will recap that soon! Since DJ couldn’t join us on our fort worth adventures this year I figured why not include a few from last year?!? 🙂

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This is from when we visited the Fort Worth Stockyards. Such a fun place if you ever get the chance! Next time I go back to Fort Worth I am going to do a travel post about them.

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And a trip wouldn’t have been complete without absurd amounts of sushi.

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Thanks for hanging in there with me through this crazy long post!

I will do a quick holiday post recap once I am back 🙂 DJ and I have are currently waiting for our 6 am flight and have been up since 3 am! EEEK!

Wishing you a very Happy New Year,

xo <3

Mack

Deck the Halls & A Special Announcement!

Hey everyone! First I just want to send a HUGE thank you to everyone who read and left the sweetest words on my last post. I truly just felt overwhelmed with encouragement and love. It’s amazing the connection and conversation that has been made through this blog and yours, and I am incredibly thankful for it.

Thank you also to Michael for his nomination for the Sunshine Blogger’s Award! I absolutely love his writing- It’s so genuine and full of truth. Check it out if you get a chance!

Today is Thursday. The awkward middle child of “FriYAY” and “HUMP DAY!”. Soooo I think you all can relate to this “poem” right about now. My mom sent this to me a few days ago and I had to share.

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And this was another one of my favorite things I saw all week..

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Anywayyyyy, I think for the update we left off right before Thanksgiving! I didn’t get many pictures of actual Thanksgiving day, but it was a good one! Just great family time, conversation, and happy bellies. I was on salad and fruit duty! I love that the holidays are an extra special excuse to make extra festive foods 😉

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This little guy had apple slices/farro/pomegranate/goat cheese/craisins/mixed greens. Pairs well with a nice balsamic or champagne vinaigrette.

Friday, I had a to-do list ten pages long. I conquered the errands for the day with a No Cow Bar in hand. These are my FAVORITE. I am a notorious Quest bar addict, but I like these even more. The lemon meringue flavor is by far the best, but I am a sucker for anything lemon. The dark raspberry truffle is really good too. The macros here are terrific, and they are vegan!

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I didn’t do any Black Friday shopping. OK. That’s a lie. I did jump into TJ’s real quick, but they weren’t having any sales “technically” because that place is always like one big Black Friday sale, and I love it.

I feel like the winter is birthday season central!! I love picking out the perfect card — and in my search I think I found the best card of all time. It’s 3-D sushi. I should have stock piled them.  

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Saturday during the day DJ went to a friend’s basketball game and caught up with a good friend that he hasn’t seen for years. That night we finished up The Office series. I cried like a baby when *spoiler* Michael came back for Dwight’s wedding. *ALL THE FEELS*. We have moved on to my choice series, which is Dexter. Good so far! Parks & Rec is next on the list after this. Also I need to catch up on Gilmore Girls so I can jump into that chit-chat.

We had Thanksgiving leftovers most of the weekend and into the beginning of the week. I swear Thanksgiving food is always better round dos. Saturday for dinner we decided to take a break from the bird & sweet potato mash and picked up some Oren’s. You guys know how much we love our Oren’s!

Also, Main street Cupertino is looking GORGEOUS. One of my favorite things this time of year is the way the Christmas lights suddenly appear in shopping centers and line the roads! Funny story though…. when I was driving on Main Street this past week a cop went through a stop sign and almost hit me (no lights flashing). The IRONY. He did wave in apology, but what is up with my run-ins with the po-po lately?!

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Sunday-FUNDAY! It was baptism Sunday at church. Everybody who participated was such a trooper considering it was in the 50s outside and the water was ice cold! There is something so powerful and exciting about watching others make a public declaration of their faith!

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Sunday afternoon we went tree picking!!!!!! I was havin’ serious FOMO when I saw everyone setting up their trees all over Insta & Fbook. We were planning on going Saturday, but by the time DJ was back it was nearly dark out! It gets dark so gosh dang early nowadays. It makes me all sleepy and hungry for dinner at like 4 o’ clock. Anywho- it was so fun looking for our own little piece of nature to bring into our home.

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Time to set it up! We named it Bow-Bow (Pronounced like “boe-boe”). Yes it’s silly & a bit strange to name your tree, but also more fun. No judging. We are hoping that Bow Bow stays alive longer than Spanky Tom did… RIP little guy.

Yes I know I am being I’m being such a type of girl in these next few pictures. Being basic isn’t a choice, I swear, I can’t help it.

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DJ wouldn’t let me get lone pictures of him by the tree. Party pooper.

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Yes, Aunt Terry, you best believe we are rocking the mugs you got us last year!

Confession: I made nine trips to Target in two days for various reasons. NINE. The first five were for the Christmas tree lights/decor. We kept getting the wrong kinds of lights (one of my friends said “HOW, they are Christmas lights?!”) and we still cannot find a good star topper that will actually stay up there. I think Bow Bow is a bit flimsy. I still have one more trip to make back to return a few things, but I’ll wait till we have to do a grocery trip. 

I had so much fun pulling out our Christmas decor. The stuff collects dust all year, so when it’s even kind of remotely socially acceptable these decorations come out to play.

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Monday DJ started a new job!! Wooohoo! He is working with the Church, but still getting his MBA next year. This is the perfect job in the meantime. He absolutely loves it so far!

On Tuesday morning I made this little guy because DJ wanted bacon and eggs. I couldn’t help myself and made a face. I couldn’t get the egg “eye” right on the left, but I just said it was because he was winking 😉 For some reason I think you would enjoy this, Cyranny. Hahah.

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I squeezed in a run outside on Tuesday to take a break from Shaun T kicking my rump (Insanity).

The trees are finally changing!!! It’s nothing like gorgeous Ohio in the fall, but I had an added pep in my step seeing a few bright colors here and there <3

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Yesterday I went to Peet’s (which I have been spelling wrong forever, along with pescetarian, which is really embarrassing) and caught up on e-mails and last minute organization for holiday shenanigans!

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I have had to get creative this week to use up random leftovers. Last night for dinner I made sautéed scallops over farro root with roasted root carrots and sautéed almonds with orange zest and basil. It turned out pretty good!

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Another meal I have been making this week is this omelette. I can’t get enough. I had a ton of left over stuffing from my stuffed acorn squash as well as goat cheese. I just threw in 1/2 cup egg beaters, 1/2 cup of the stuffing, a sprinkle of goat cheese and some sprigs of rosemary. All the stuffing is gone now, but I have got to make more soon so I can do this again. It was so tasty!

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Wednesday night we had our Bible study group. Someone brought CRONUTS! (AKA: Croissant + Donut). I am not even kidding, one of the best pastries of my life. We were going crayyyy for our cronuts.

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This morning I woke up at 6 to meet with a friend for coffee @ 7. I love getting up early and soaking up the mornings. We went to Philz coffee. They make every single cup over drip. It’s really great, but SUPER strong. I am so jittery after. We had such great conversation, and my heart just bursts with love for the amazing individuals we have met since moving here in July.

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Quick side note: the reason I changed my name to “Mackenzie” from “Mack” for the profile is a lot of people thought I was a guy. LOLZ.

OK- now I am super excited to announce…….drum roll…… I am going to be hosting my first blogging Meet & Greet, BUT it is going to be called “Mingle & Jingle” in light of the holiday season!!!!

For those who don’t know what a Meet & Greet is, it is essentially a post where you can come in and talk about your blog a bit, leave your link to either a favorite post of yours, or your site in general and find other blogs you may enjoy too! It will be some time next week- stay tuned! 🙂 I am so excited!!! Hope to see you there!!!

I must ask one very important question before I go: What is your favorite kind of Christmas cookie/dessert/holiday treat?! Feel free to leave recipe links!

Stay warm everyone!

xo <3

Mack … or Mackenzie….. or a million other options…oh shoot, identity crisis!