Decade Favorites! (And a couple throwback pics).

Happy New Years Eve, all! I have been feeling particularly nostalgic this year as we come to an end of a decade. It’s crazy to see all that has occurred in just ten years. I decided to compile a list of 10 favorites along with some throwback pictures from the start of the decade. It was extremely hard to narrow down, but DJ helped me decide on some fun categories to make it a bit more concise. I’d love if you’d share some of your decade favorites with me too!

1. Favorite Restaurant: Cafe Jacqueline.These soufflés were truly life changing. While it was hard to make a final decision in this category, our experience at Cafe Jacqueline for our anniversary was one of the most unique, delicious, romantic and phenomenal meals of our lives.

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2. Favorite Travel Destination: Bora Bora for our honeymoon. That was a trip to heaven and back.

3. Favorite Beauty Product: They’re Real Mascara. (I oscillated between this and Urban Decay Setting Spray). I usually use cheaper mascaras on the day-to-day, but for special occasions I whip out this winner.

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4. Favorite Artist: Tim Cantor. I have never appreciated art as I should despite the “art appreciation” course I took in college. But something about Tim Cantor’s art resonated with me when I saw his exhibit the first time in San Diego. I’ve been obsessed ever since. When I look at his pieces I feel understood. I could do a whole post on this… but for now, I will include my favorite painting: Thieves of May. 

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5. Favorite Team Accomplishment: Running a Marathon Together! DJ completed his first marathon, and I qualified for Boston in the same race. Talk about an event to remember.

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6. Favorite challenge: completing the RN Residency Program. I think forever that will be one of the most challenging years of my life, but I’m immensely thankful for it. I don’t think I’ve ever grown so much in a single year. Below is a picture from our graduation day.

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7. Favorite Day: Our Wedding.We were married in 2015, but we also began dating at the beginning of the decade on January 19, 2010. (Our first casual date was July 1, 2009). I’ll include a couple of throwback pics from those first few years, because, hey, why not!

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My one and only <3

8. Favorite TV Show: Game of Thrones. If you know, you know. I still am not totally pleased with how it ended, but the journey was incredible. Succession is a contender for second though!

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9. Favorite Musical Artist: Ella Vos. I just adore her music. Here’s a link to one of my favorite songs. Florence and the Machine is a close second with Lana Del Rey third.

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10. Last, but not least: Favorite New Discovery: Trader Joe’s. I’d be remiss to leave out Trader Joe’s from any type of favorites compilation!

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This was tough to put together! There are a few other general favorites I would include like living in California, beginning this blog, the birth of my niece and nephew, the emergence of podcasts, the friends we have met and relationships we cannot imagine our lives without, memories with our family and the growth of our faith. This last ten years has been formative, and reflecting on all that has happened and can happen in ten years puts things in perspective and helps you count your blessings. Heck, most of what I’ve mentioned has happened in the past five! I would love to hear if you have any favorites that fit in any of these categories or just one of your own. Have a wonderful NYE <3 Sending all my wishes for the most blessed 2020…and next decade… for you all…

xo <3

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**There is an affiliate link in this post, but all opinions and ideas are my own. I receive a small compensation for any purchases with no additional cost to you!**

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Corner Restaurant & Flying Bread?!

**Testing one…two…three, Testing…**

Let’s hope I remember how to do this!

Hey all!! Ohhh how it feels good to be back on WordPress. I just took my last final exam (early!) and it went well. The semester is a wrap, and I feel like I can breathe again! Even though quite a bit of time has passed since I’ve actually physically written a recap post (August), I don’t think it’ll take terribly long to catch up since we really have not done a whole bunch. It’s been a tough few months. Some of the toughest. We are depleted- physically and emotionally- so we are definitely looking forward to a tiny bit of a break. I know this is just life and this was a season, but oh man, was it a doozy. However, there were some fun memories along the way that are begging to be written down. Something I have learned through blogging is there is always something good even in the most stressful or difficult of times, we just have to find it. It’s okay, and important, to acknowledge and allow yourself to feel the hard times too, but intentionally being thankful for the good that does exist helps keep things in perspective. Since I haven’t been writing at all I have lost track of that a bit, and it became very easy to fixate on the stressors without any kind of outlet. But here we are, a bit retrospectively, to dig the good out of what has been a trying time.

I currently have on the Great British Baking Show on in the background (ya know I always get a hankerin’ for baking shows at Christmas time) and my cup of coffee… so let’s get on with it, shall we?!

On August 24th, we walked downtown to Corner restaurant for a little date night. We first noticed this restaurant when our family stayed at the hotel attached a couple weeks prior. I loved the whole relaxed, yet modern, feel of it all.

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It actually reminded me a little bit of Santana Row in San Jose with the outdoor seating. Also, the indoor seating is beautiful! It’s dim lit and very chic- so if you’re going for that ambiance that’s an option too.

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There were a few items on the menu we could not pass up on! The first was the zucchini cornbread. It was actually better than I expected… and I had high expectations based on the reviews! I think this may have been my favorite of everything we tried!

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We also had the blistered shishito peppers two ways with kaffir lime crema. Now, the peppers were great, but that kaffir lime crema was tremendous!! The mix of flavors that these dishes had were unique, but in a melodious way. It makes me want to try just everything on their menu because even the more “basic” items probably have a delicious spin on them.

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We also had their roasted kale and farro salad with pickled grapes and miso sesame vinaigrette. I did not know what to expect flavor wise with this…. but once again.. it blew me away! The flavor was certainly different, but it worked so well. Anytime I return this will be a must!

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And for DJ’s main dish- the braised short ribs with mashed potatoes, horseradish cream and seasonal veggies. He loved it.

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On August 25th after church I went for an afternoon jog along Lady Bird Lake trail.

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And August 26th let the semester commence! Boyy, I had no clue what I was in for.

On August 27th I decided to try out a new cafe while I went into syllabus shock and delved into the first assignments.

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It was some strong coffee, but also very delicious!

August 28th through the 29th I studied from home. On August 30th I decided to walk over to Bennu and enjoy one of their oat milk lattes.

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For dinner I made a sweet potato with black bean burger, quinoa, roasted mixed veggies and asparagus.

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September 1st we went to church and after we stopped by Thundercloud Subs, a local sub stop.

I was stoked to see they had “vegan chicken”. I loaded up on that and added some hummus and all the veggies to create a massive salad with some balsamic vinaigrette. It was filling and delicious. 😋

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I’m not sure which sub DJ opted for- I think something with Roast Beef- but he liked it. I think he still prefers Jimmy John’s.

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In the evening I did a massive trip to Trader Joe’s since I knew my time to go the store would probably be slim in the coming weeks. I guessed right- I have definitely had to stretch my trips out! Going to the store is such a treat for me–Any excuse to get out of my study den. Whenever I check out the cashier asks how long these groceries will last… It’s always less time than I guestimate. Anyone else?

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September 2nd I started the day with toast topped with figs, cashews and strawberries.

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I also enjoyed some sushi from TJ’s…. I wouuuld recommend this, but there has been a recent recall… so yeah, probably stay away for now, hah.

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In the evening I spotted this gorgeous view outside the workout room so I snuck outside to snag a picture of the picturesque sky.

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September 3rd more studying with occasional screen shots of memes I resonate with given my camera roll. September 4th I tried a new area of running near Zilker park! 🏃‍♀️

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On September 4th Christmas came early! These are all instruments I used to practice for my head-to-toe that I just completed a couple weeks ago (more on that later). DJ was the most gracious letting me test his reflexes, hearing, and look at his eyes/eardrums 938130958309 times. Haha. He’s the best.

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That evening I made some salmon with sun-dried tomato, an artichoke heart, quinoa and asparagus.

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September 7th I started the day with a delicious paratha topped with smoked salmon, capers, and a poached egg. I think I finally have that poached egg down! It only took 25 years. Thank you for the tips, Kori!

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On September 9th I started the day with some buttered naan with a fried egg and yellow lentil daal from TJ’s.

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In the afternoon I took a walk out on LadyBird lake. Gosh, I love love love this trail. You can find me on it pretty much every day (unless the weather prohibits it). I love turning on a podcast and walking or running a lap. I took DJ on the trail recently, and he was pretty amazed at how lovely the trail was. We try to get out and have a walk together on the weekends if we can because it’s so relaxing.

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Also, while crossing a bridge I saw this painting. I couldn’t help and take a pic because…. truth. Bread= An angel? Carbs give you wings? Bread is the wind beneath my wings? Whatever.. they all work.

In the evening I whipped up my go-to sweet potato with beets, avocado, roasted veggies, sun-dried tomatoes, and hummus.

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And then September 12th it was off to my first on campus!! I grabbed some Einstein Bros. coffee to help me wake up a bit.

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I studied on the whole plane ride and was pleasantly surprised to get Popcorners as a snack and a whole can of sparkling water (not just a cup of ice with a questionable dash of liquid). Go, JetBlue! I rarely ever fly with them, but it worked out it was the airline with the best deal for that trip, so I’m not complainin’.

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I arrived to the hotel I’d be staying- it was just fine, no frills, but it had everything you could need. It also had a full empty fridge and microwave which came in handy for my leftovers (and free coffee 24-7 in the lobby!).

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I was pretty famished when I arrived, so I popped in a podcast and walked to the nearest food. There was this strip area below that had a mediterranean restaurant that had my name on it. No, I didn’t even consider Chipotle for all you Chipotle fanatics. Chipotle is well…. it’s.. okay… it’s sustenance. I just think it’s overrated. There, I said it. Talk about an unpopular opinion- coming back into blogging with a splash, lol.

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I got enough to feed an army– a side of lentils, tabouleh, marinated cucumbers and tomatoes and tzatziki to go with hummus, baba, pita, and falafel.

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In the morning I got up at 5:30 am to get ready for my first OCI day! They offer a complimentary breakfast, nothing too crazy- but I love the Chobani mixed with different cereals and a little danish.

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I’ll recap more of the on-campus in the next post. Thanks for reading! Thankful for you all & the WP community. Blogging is more important to me than I even realized; a few months without it certainly brought that to light! I’m going to try to do a better job prioritizing it next semester. I hope you all are having a great holiday season thus far!

Questions for you:

  • What do you think that bread with wings symbolized? Curious if someone has some insight…
  • Chipotle- yay or nay?

xo <3

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Great Coffee, Burgers & Texas BBQ!

Present Day: Hey all- wow, I cannot thank you all for your love and support in the last post. It was comforting and healing for me to talk with you all and read your comments – I am just always in awe of how genuine and supportive this community is <3

Currently…I just have a million things running through my head that I’m incredibly eager to get out on paper (electronic paper). I originally wrote an intro for this to give a little update on what’s going on right now, but it ended up being soooo long, I’ll just make a whole other post for it. Life has been quite the rollercoaster- but, gosh, I’ve learned SO much this last couple months.. in all transparency- it’s been challenging and painful in some respects, but also so much growth has taken place. I look forward to articulating all that soon.

Anywayyy. Here is another post I wrote back in August. Who knows what I said, lol:

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I’ll just jump right in. July 31st I went on an evening walk before dinner after studying all day and saw the city in all its glory.

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August 1st and 2nd were also huge study days. A friend I met through blogging reached out when she knew I was going to be moving to Austin and sent me the most wonderful list of places to check out! One of the spots on her list was Bennu 24-7 coffee (yes, you read that right- twentay, fourrr, sevennnn!). I had a long day of studying ahead, so where better to camp out for the day (or night need be)?

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I had such a delicious cafe au lait with oat milk, and it fueled me to be extra productive that day. This will be a go-to spot once I begin my next semester. It was pretty busy though, should I need to make a note to go early before it fills up! Thank you so much for the awesome rec, Taylor!

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Around 6 pm I called it quits, went home, made dinner and ate dinner with DJ and then took a nice walk out on the trails.

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On August 3rd I went for an afternoon run (yeahhh, probably should try to stick to morning runs in this heat, lol).. but I saw this Brixton hat on a corn stalk. One of DJ’s favorite brands is Brixton so I had to take a pic and send it to him. It just seemed all very “Texas”.

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I decided to explore the city a bit more on foot. On my way I saw a group of kayakers- probably one of the city’s favorite past times, especially on Ladybird Lake. They are everywhere there is water! One of these days DJ and I said we have to wake up early and get out there to rent a kayak.

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In the evening for a date night we went to hopdoddy burger bar. I was having a MAJOR burger/fry/milkshake hankerin’ & this is one of the highest and most frequently reviewed spots on Yelp. We walked to the main one on South Congress ready for a long wait.

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After about 35 minutes we made it in! The vibe inside was upbeat, but laid back.

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We started off by sharing their Oreo milkshake. It was an one-of-a-kind delicious milkshake. Maybe my favorite ever… big statement… the only issue is the waitress brought it about over thirty minutes before our food & we like to dip fries in our shake. The second half we saved for that purpose was pretty much melted by the time the food came.. womp womp.

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When we finally did get our food, it was well worth the wait. DJ enjoyed their classic burger.

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I had their “impossible” vegan philly cheesesteak burger with sweet potato fries to share with DJ. I took one bite and died & went straight to heaven. I told DJ I haven’t experienced that flavor in so long- it tasted just, and I mean, just like a regular burger. (Burgers were one of the few actual meat items I genuinely enjoyed when I ate still ate meat). We were also raving about the sweet potato fries- I mean, just all the flavor was wow oh wow. Service was terrible- but would I go back and wait and endure the awful service for this all over again? You betchya!!!!

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On August 4th I don’t have many pics.. hmm I studied a ton I’m sure. I made us cauliflower gnocchi for dinner.. mmmm mmm !

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On August 5th I had this scrumptious toast with blackberries, almonds, Fage, stevia, and a dash of PB powder. I love the blend of different textures.

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I was going to go to Bennu to study, but I couldn’t find a spot. So I whipped my car around to go to a different coffee shop.. I ended up going to three different places before I found one that served decaf. How wild is that? (I had already hit my caffeine quota for the morning).

Anyways- the place I did find was actually located inside a book shop. It’s called Coffee People and is located within Book People. I had to walk about 1.5 miles from my car to get there, but I had already paid for a couple hours of parking, so I wasn’t going to throw that away for nothing. Smalls pretty much threw my back out carrying that thing around, especially in the heat- lol! I probably should make suuuuure I want to stay before paying for parking… lessons learned.

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The coffee was really tasty, and it was a productive few hours hanging out there.

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in the evening I went on a walk and saw these turtles swimmin’ around. So cute. I’ve seen quite a few turtles around here.. something else that reminds me of the Towpath.

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For dinner I made “chik’n fried rice” …. one of the tastiest darn concoctions we’ve had from leftovers!!! I had some brown rice, vegan chicken, eggs, and tons of veggies and stir-fried some minced garlic and soy sauce in there. DJ and I gobbled it up like it was our last supper. It’s definitely making its way into the rotation as a staple.

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On August 6th I decided to just study in the lobby of our apartment for a change of scenery.

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And once again, a walk to clear the ol’ noggin. So my allergies were pretty rough when I first moved here. I couldn’t figure out why, because I usually don’t get allergies. Welllllll below is all the pollen that lined the trail. Makes sense now! Apparently Austin is pretty notorious for bad allergies. They have calmed down since that first couple weeks once my body adjusted, but still act up on occasion.

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August 7th I walked to Starbucks to study and then on the way home enjoyed some of the Austin art. I thought you would all enjoy to see it too 🙂

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Love these messages.

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After dropping my books off at home I went out to the trail and saw this beautiful swan.

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On August 8th it was our anniversary!! DJ had wanted to try Super Coffee since we moved here, but we have been out of luck whenever we have looked for it. I made it my mission to find some on our anniversary for him. I stocked up on a couple different flavors so that they were there when he returned from orientation. He ended up liking it, but it really just takes like a protein shake. I think I ended up liking them more than he did, lol!

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For dinner I made us brown rice, asparagus, vegan chicken for DJ (per his request) and salmon for myself. I also made us a caprese to share.

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Aaaand he brought me home these absolutely stunning flowers <3 <3 He’s been the greatest husband I could ever imagine over these last four years. I am so immensely thankful for him and don’t know how I’m so blessed. It’s hard to put into words how much I admire and adore him.

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On Friday August 9th, I took my final exam first thing in the AM. I was planning on taking it Sunday, but I didn’t want it hanging over my head, and I felt prepared. In the afternoon I made a massive to-do list of everything I had put on the back-burner from the summer/this semester. DJ laughed at how I wrote out my list by hand on notebook paper. Does anyone else still write out their to-do lists by hand instead of on their phones? I just love how satisfying it is to cross it out by hand- I will write things down even after I’ve done them to cross them off sometimes 😆 At this point, I have knocked pretty much everything on it out, and it feels gooood! In the evening we had a spousal/partner banquet for everyone in DJ’s program. It was so much fun to meet some of DJ’s colleagues and put faces with names! I was itching to take a picture of the food because it was absolutely delicious and plated so pretty, but I restrained. I had a chile relleno that was very yummy- I think I’m gonna have to start making them at home, although it probably won’t be even close to as good as that one I had!

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When the banquet wrapped up we still had a ton of energy and the two us decided to go out on the town. We walked to Rainey street from our apartment and headed to Bangers. DJ had been here once before with some colleagues and wanted to take me back. I totally saw why- it was a happenin’ place!!

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The vibe was utterly relaxed and it was perfectly warm outside. We sat under the stringed lights enjoying a couple sours at a picnic table and watched the live band play.

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On Sunday we decided to watch an online sermon since DJ had quite a bit of school work to get done and family was coming later that day. Once all the fam arrived (My mom in law & Gordie and DJ’s twin sister, Amy!) we showed them our apartment and then set out to get some good BBQ. We had been told Terry Black’s BBQ is some of the best around so we gave it a go since it was within walking distance.

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Here’s the roundup!

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To say this BBQ is good would be the understatement of the century. This was phenomenal BBQ. Easily the best we’ve ever had. We couldn’t get over the flavors. Even the green beans were insane… they don’t look like much.. but whatever the heck magic they cook them in… I want the recipe. The mac and cheese was out of this world. And the hot sauces were wildly good. Everyone that ate the meat raved about it- DJ particularly was blown away by the brisket.

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I may or may not have restaged a photo shoot with the leftovers the next day… LOL. Add this to the list of “most-extra-things-I’ve-ever-done”.

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I have many more adventures to share- I’ll do that in another post so I don’t crash whatever device you’re reading on with all these pics, haha.

Questions for you:

  • What’s your favorite BBQ side item?
  • Do you make your to-do lists on paper by hand or on an electronic device?

xo <3

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Our Road Trip from CA to TX!

Hey all! How is everyone?

So we are FINALLY at our road trip post from CA to TX!

Early in the morning of July 1st, we ate some oatmeal in disposable bowls, wiped down our counters one last time, dropped our keys off and then headed out first thing. One spot we never hit while living in CA was the charming little beach town of Capitola, so we made sure to factor it into our road trip.

As soon as we pulled into the city limits we started seeing brightly colored homes with characteristic beach signs on front doors or in windows reading phrases like, “All you need is Love and a Beach” and “This Mermaid swims on Coffee”.

The city itself is surprisingly quite tiny! I always imagined it much larger in my mind- but the polly pocket size of the city added to its charm. We found a parking spot and roamed around the immediate area. We couldn’t go too far from DJ’s truck since we had a bunch of suit cases in the back. **PS. Take note of the cooler sticking out of the back- it’s important for a story later on**

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Have you ever seen more zen seals?

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Although it was a cloudy day, the colors of the beach homes popped against the somber skies.

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After enjoying Capitola and watching a swarm of lifeguards being trained in the water (I can’t imagine how chilly that water was!), we hopped back on the road.

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Next up: Palm Desert. We passed by an army of windmills on our way. It reminded me of Courtney’s road trip out– she mentioned how large and alarming they can be- and I totally agree! It’s a weird feeling being under such looming and massive structures that are moving nonetheless. Funnily enough, all I could see were antibodies when I looked at them- Smalls was causing my brain to compare everything to something patho related, lol. Here’s a link to antibodies so you can see what I’m talking about.

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We finally arrived to our hotel for the evening! Somehow I got it for an insane deal — compared to everything else around it was one of the more affordable options. When we arrived it turned out it was “villas”, but really was more of a hotel room- it was confusing, but made sense once we actually got in our room. Anyways, the views of the mountains all around were just spectacular. It was HOT though- the idea of what the “desert” feels like was 100% as scorching as it sounds.

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We spent a good chunk of time lugging in all our suitcases from the bed of the truck to the room. Once we dropped everything off we headed out to explore the grounds (but we had to be sure to be back in time for Bachelorette, of course 😉 ).

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The grounds were so pretty & relaxing! Once we returned from our exploration we decided to just order some room service. I ordered a salad with added avocado (and I had a bunch of hummus to add too that I packed in our Freezer lunch bags for our roadtrip) and DJ opted for their chicken sandwich with the truffle fries that I kept stealing, naturally.

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We watched The Bachelorette and enjoyed our food. I love travel nights like this. It reminded me of time we were in NYC and made sure to be back to the hotel in time for Bach. Now, if I was in NYC these days I don’t think I could sacrifice a second of exploring the city for any show (yes, even Bach!), but since we were there wasn’t too much going on around us that evening we didn’t feel like we were missing out.

That evening was rough when it came to sleep- there was this LOUD whirring noise that even kept DJ up (who can sleep through anything)… we ended up calling maintenance at around 12:30 am when we resolved we probably wouldn’t be able to sleep. They came by and basically said there was nothing they could do at the time- it was in the pipes above us. I put on my noise-cancelling headphones to try to sleep. DJ finally fell asleep, but I tossed and turned the whole night and had a gnawing pain in the side of my head the next day from where they dug into my head. Then, our toilet stopped flushing unless we pressed the flush with the strength of Samson or did the lift the lid and pull the chain method. It suddenly all made sense why our room was immensely discounted, haha. Minus the nocturnal hours, the stay was so nice!

When it was finally the morning of July 2nd I decided to shake off the cobwebs with a morning run and a ton of coffee. Really- what would we do without coffee? I was a new person after some endorphins & caffeine.

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We ate oatmeal and granola bars we had on us for breakfast and hit the road. Back to spending time with Smalls.

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While passing through Phoenix we hopped off the highway- I needed more coffee desperately.

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But while on our quest for coffee we were greeted by an awesome surprise. Culver’s! We squealed out of nostalgic joy (DJ would probably argue he did not squeal, but I definitely did). We loved our Culver’s when we lived in Indiana. 

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DJ ordered a brownie mixer, and I stole a couple bites. Also, if you go to Culver’s you must order their cheese curds too- that’s probably my favorite thing on their menu… my stomach was not feeling 100% otherwise I totally would have loaded up.

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Okay okay, still on our coffee quest. Luckily there was a Starbuck’s right across the parking lot!

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I ordered my go-to almond milk Misto and grabbed a Siggi’s yogurt for some protein to tie me over that hopefully wouldn’t aggravate my over-tired queasiness.  Goodness this yogurt is good! I have seen it sold all over the place, but haven’t tried it- it’s really dang good! I felt better instantly after eating it.

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Back to the highway.

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New Mexico has a special place in our heart after our experience in Albuquerque on our way to CA from IN.

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While driving through New Mexico we saw a road runner statue on the side of the road. It tripped me out, because it looked so realistic at first, but was impossibly gargantuan.

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The views driving through at dusk were breathtaking. I had to put Smalls on pause to soak them all up.

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And we finally made it to Texas! wooohoooo!

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We stayed at the Doubletree in El Paso. When we checked in, we got these complimentary delicious cookies! So fun & a great little touch 🙂

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We were so hungry by this point. We ate through all our snacks we had packed in the car and were ready for some real food! We just went to The Fire Restaurant in the hotel since it was pretty late (around 9:30 pm). While waiting for our food we were feeling reflective and talked all about our time in CA and what we were looking forward to in Texas. Special convos <3

DJ ordered one of the greatest pastas we’ve ever tried. It was blackened shrimp penne with mushroom, green chile, sundried tomato and red chile cream. Who would have thought- just out of a hotel restaurant?! We have talked about this dish several times since.. I mean, wow– we were mind blown. I think it was mainly that red chile cream sauce- whatever the heck is in that… I neeeed that recipe.

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Even though I ate DJ’s pasta as though it was my own (good thing it was a pretty generous portion), I also ordered the Fire FIT Vegan bowl with hominy cake, cabbage, tomato, onion, green chile, pickled radish, Guajillo broth, and cilantro. This was a phenomenal vegan meal! It had such a unique, wonderful flavor and it didn’t take long to eat every single bite.

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After dinner we scurried out to catch the bottom of the 9th of the El Paso Chihuahuas (we just watched through the fence). It was fun to see a different minor league stadium & how they run a show!

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I think our little El Paso stint was our favorite part of the road trip. So fun! In the morning of July 3rd we hit the road super early (around 6 am). We stopped in a gas station, and I grabbed some coffee. This was such stinking good gas station coffee- it even had a beautiful layer of crema- like …WHAT?! (the picture below is straight black coffee- not a latte or anything- that is just the quality of the crema!). First a hotel restaurant (not even Italian restaurant) serving the best pasta ever and now a gas station serving insanely good coffee… I am having an existential foodie crisis.

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Back to the road… More studying with Smalls & more driving for DJ.

I offered tons of times to drive, but DJ insisted on driving so I could study. He’s the best <3 I made such a dent and felt good about the ground I had covered (mentally, and I guess literally with our move, hehe).

Sooo we did have a little mishap on the highway. Remember how our cooler was just barely sticking out of the bed of our truck? Well, it went FLYING out of the bed when we were on a wide open windy area in Texas.. I mean flying… we were actually warned at the gas station from the cashier that the wind was brutal and to be careful. We didn’t realize it was going to actually pick up our cooler! We only lost a couple items that were of any value (our Ninja bottles were the big thing and just some cheap dishes, along with the cooler itself). Luckily the cooler tumbled off to the side of the road, but we are just just so thankful nobody was behind us on the highway… that could have been real bad. The thought makes me shudder. There was nowhere to turn around to retrieve it, but I’m hoping it wouldn’t cause any issues being off the shoulder.

About 10 minutes before arriving we started seeing gray clouds, ominous harbingers. We crossed our fingers that it wouldn’t start to rain because we had all that luggage in the bed of the truck. But sure enough, while stuck in our first experience of Austin traffic, the rain came down in full force- buckets upon buckets. We were so close…. yet so far..

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I will say despite knowing everything was getting soaked in the back I was still excited to see a thunderstorm. We hadn’t seen one in years, and I loveeeee a thunderstorm (at least the mild ones- not the actually dangerous ones, which I hear we may experience often here).

Finally we arrived, got our keys, checked in, and unloaded our sopping wet suitcases. It’s all good though- they aired out pretty well, and it wasn’t an issue. We had never seen our apartment in person (my mom helped scope them out for us when she was in town for business a few months ago). We were immediately excited upon walking in! This is perfect for the stage we’re in right now- annnd everyone was so friendly we interacted with while unloading our truck. I think that was the first thing we noticed here- everyone is so friendly!

After dropping our stuff off, we popped into Trader Joe’s for our first ever Texas grocery trip! It has a parking garage system where you get your ticket comped if you are under an hour- forces me to grocery shop real quick- and y’all know I treat TJ’s like a leisure stroll in the park, so this can be a challenge, hah. Also, you take an elevator to bring your groceries down in the cart. All these little things seemed so confusing at first, but are second nature now!

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Alrighty this is quite long so I’ll continue the rest in another post. All in all it was a wonderful, memorable road trip, even with the minor little glitches. Rest in peace, ol’ Igloo Cooler- thanks for helping preserve all our San Francisco leftovers over the years… you were real cool 😉 

Questions for you:

  • Have you ever lost anything valuable on a road trip/traveling?
  • Are you team room service or eat out on the town? Both?

xo <3

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**There is an affiliate link in this post, but all opinions and ideas are my own**

Sister Time & Wine Country Part I!

Hey hey, long time no seeee!! Oh man, you know what’s tough? Sometimes the times in life when you need to write and process the most are the times that are the most chaotic and don’t allow much free time to do just that! (Don’t count how many times I used “time” in that sentence, or this one). But I’ve gotta say, at this moment, I’m actually enjoying the chaos. It’s incredibly stressful for sure, tears have been shed, and there are times I don’t feel like I can handle it all- but things are going much smoother than I could have ever imagined, and I feel like we are almost in the clear! We also have a lot of the really huge stressors behind us, so now much of that anxiety is getting replaced with excitement and anticipation! Also, although each day is go-go-go from super early morning till nearly midnight, the adrenaline from everything is working wonders. We officially move out on Sunday.

Currently….My brain is fried, I cannot do another lick of studying, so I am treating myself to just this one night to do a blog post!

We left off the evening my sister arrived. On June 5th, my Sis and I woke up early to get to work! Halston had tons of “to-dos” on her list for the wedding & of course, I had a bottomless pit of reading and studying and assignments. We started the day with avocado smoothies– Hal talked about them for weeks leading up to the trip since she got hooked on them last time she was here. We had one every day of her visit this time around- and now I can’t have one without missing her!

I took a midday break to post some items on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. I’m never using Craigslist again with the success we’ve had through Marketplace. I’m so stoked about it- it’s just so easy.

In the evening we whipped up some stuffed sweet potatoes again. We made ours each a bit differently, mine with extra tzatziki and beets and Hal’s with extra green goddess dressing from TJs. These also included tofu, roasted peppers and onions, artichoke hearts and hummus all stuffed in Murasaki potatoes. We chatted out on the balcony & enjoyed the momentary quiet from the studying/wedding details.

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On June 6th we went to Peets during the day to get shtuff done, and then came back in the late afternoon and worked out on the main apartment community deck. Smalls was soaking up the sun… I would have hated to disturb him..so I figured I should just let him be 😉

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We made massive salads in the evening with all ingredients in the fridge- mmm mmmm! Halston is all aboard the massive salad train too.

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Side note: DJ had a home-stand during the week she was here (where he leaves basically at 730 am-ish and doesn’t get home till 11ish); that’s why he isn’t around in any adventures, sadly. We missed him!

Anyway, we took an after-dinner walk around Main Street before I hit the books again.

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Aaand it was the same ol’ on June 7th. We were very productive through the week, but basically it was just study/eat/workout/study/eat.

To shake things up for dinner, we decided to try TJ’s Cauliflower Gnocchi! We didn’t add much seasoning to it because I wanted to get a feel for the base to see what I could jazz it up with next time.

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They were super yummy. I think next time I’d like to add some type of nice parmesan on top! A red sauce would work well too. We ate them with tilapia and roasted veggies from Chef Hal herself. Halston and I eat essentially the same type of diet, so it was fun to tag- team dinners throughout the week.

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I started packing that evening after getting to a stopping point I had planned for the week. We made sure to try to get a good night sleep because we woke up around 4:45 am on Saturday June 8th to get a workout in. And finally- after a long week of studying and wading through wedding logistics we were ready for a day of fun & relaxation! We scarfed down our coffee and avocado smoothies and headed out to celebrate my sister’s birthday in….. NAPA!

We headed from Cupertino to the Ferry Building in SF where our wine tour car would be picking us up. I booked us through Platypus Wine Tours again since it was such a phenomenal experience the first time around with Kelsey (and it’s very reasonably priced).

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The tour bus was scheduled to pick us up in front of the Ferry Building at 8:45 am, and we had about twenty minutes to spare after grabbing our Ferry tickets for the trip back…so naturally we had to grab some pics!

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When it was time to load up the car, we found ourselves surrounded by about 8 other people from all over the world- Denmark, France, Canada… It was fun to get to know them all throughout the trip. That’s something I so love about San Francisco- you meet people from truly everywhere and anywhere with the most fascinating lives and stories.

First stop first: Auburn James.

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This was a unlike any other winery experience we’ve had before. The whole tasting room vibe was supposed to make you feel like you were entering a home, and it really did feel like we were all just hanging out in a living room.

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We were given our tasting and then showed around the vineyards.

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The vineyards were beautiful! But it was HOT HOT HOT. Our Platypus tour guide did say they were a little bit worried about wildfires that day. I think we could have all done without that little tidbit of knowledge.. eep!

6486d0ac-f7b3-4bfa-b416-ea35be5d910f1d6c75ed-5548-4dd3-8a3f-97408f06db4a I wouldn’t say this winery is a must, but it was a lovely experience nonetheless. I think it was the most educational out of the four!

Second Stop: Hagafen. This was our favorite of the day for several reasons…

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Oh, and another bonus, they had games! We attempted a round of cornhole, but the wind kept catching our bags, so we didn’t do too hot.. meaning it was probably comical for any bystanders watching, haha.

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Before we knew it, it was lunch time! yaa buddy. They had vegetarian dishes for Hal & I. Platypus called before hand to make sure they accommodated any dietary restrictions. So kind! We enjoyed every nibble of our veggie sandwiches accompanied by hummus, pears, and a lentil salad that was to die for.

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And dessert were these sweet little strawberries and cream muffin bites.

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I’ll recap the second part of wine country in a separate post! Happy birthday again, Sista!

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Questions for you:

  • What do you call cornhole? I know it has a variety of names depending where you’re from.
  • What time of day do you prefer to workout?

xo <3

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Meeting another Blogger, Golden Boy Pizza & The Emporium!

Hi, everyone! I hope you had a nice weekend!

Jumping straight on into the recap…On May 29th and 30th, it was just study study, ya know the drill by now- but also, ya can’t get started without breakfast, right?! Breakfast time is one of my favorite parts of the whole day & I have been eating this one on repeat the last few weeks: an Avocado smoothie with PB toast & honey.

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On May 30th I went to the local coffee shop to grab a cafe au lait and studied with Smalls in our apartment community office/study room. In the afternoon was Boys and Girls club. The kids are done for the summer & it’s been a bit emotional coming to that realization. I can’t wait to get plugged back in once we’re settled in Austin!

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On May 31st I had a very lovely morning! I met up with a local blogger, Kalpana, from surreyfarms.net at Great Bear Coffee in Los Gatos.

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We have been friends in the blog-o-sphere for years but have never met up before. It was absolutely wonderful to meet her and have such deeply rich conversation for a couple hours- I felt like we could have talked all day! And the coffee was fantastic as a nice bonus 🙂 It was certainly the highlight of my week. If you want some mouth-wateringly, beautifully prepared and delicious recipes, gorgeous garden pictures, and heart-warming family adventures I highly recommend heading over to her blog! She is a true inspiration of mine <3

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In the afternoon I enjoyed a purple sweet potato with beets, artichoke hearts, hummus, and Fage.

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I studied all the rest of the day and then while walking through our complex I realized there was something going down…. A hoe-down to be exact!

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The management team had an entire western themed party going on for the complex complete with a petting zoo for the kiddos. I texted DJ to see if he wanted any food, but he had already had BBQ at the stadium for lunch. Still, so fun and a nice gesture for the apartment crew to put this on!

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DJ finally had an evening to breathe from work, and I hustled on school work so we could enjoy a Saturday evening together the following day.

On Saturday June 1st we both were productive during the day and then around 5:00 pm we headed to San Francisco. I read Smalls in the car on the way down up (I always want to say down for some reason?!) and actually made a huge dent in my chapter- it makes me optimistic that I’ll be productive on our road-trip to TX. So where was our foodie adventure for the evening you ask? Welllll, lemme telll youuuu! I’ve been on a serious pizza kick lately and have been on a mission to find the best!

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People swear by Golden Boy Pizza as the best in the city. The wait was about forty-five minutes, but finally we made it to the front to order. It’s a casual spot- you can technically eat inside, but it’s mostly standing room. People usually just take their pies to go.

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They are famous for their clam and garlic pizza, so we tried that and a few other flavors: DJ had their pepperoni and sausage, and I had their cheese and clam/garlic.

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We took our slices back to the car and blasted the heat while chowing down. This pizza was very good. DJ and I both prefer thin crusts, and this is more of a focaccia, but it worked! It wasn’t too dense or doughy- it was light, airy, and had a lovely crunch. The flavor of the clam and garlic was pretty tremendous and unique, but DJ preferred their meat-based slices. I don’t know that I would wait that long again for it- but I am so glad we finally tried it! I see why it has its popularity, but at the same time I’m not sure it’s 100% worth the hype.

After, we headed over to The Emporium to continue our date night. The Emporium is a massive arcade for adults. They have a live DJ, play a giant movie, and have countless of games that will make you nostalgic for the 80s and 90s.

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It was a blast!!! Probably one of my favorite things we have done in SF yet.

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DJ beat me at the basketball game, of course (hello, two time national basketball champion 😉 )…. but I held my own in ski ball, hehe.

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When I was going through our pics on the way home I realized we were photo bombed by a cartoon painting who weirdly had similar eyes to mine?!

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On June 2nd it was back to it! Smalls is almost too big for the treadmill reading/walking routine, but if the chapter is somewhere in the middle of the book I can balance him, ha!

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June 3rd, same same, mixed up with my new favorite snack of a purple sweet potato, artichoke hearts, hummus, and Fage– can ya tell I’m on a kick?

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I decided to make some homemade hummus with leftover tahini that evening. This is the best batch of homemade hummus I’ve made thus far, but I stilll don’t like it better than TJ’s quartet.

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I also made Shakshuka from TJ’s. I heard about Shakshuka from Kori’s blog, and when I saw TJ’s had an easy throw-together one I figured it’d be a great way to start it out!

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I served it with a couple eggs, brown rice, and naan bread. It was so stinkin’ yummy. This will be added to the lineup!

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On June 4th I started the day with the uszh, yoozh? usz? (however you spell the short of usual).

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In the afternoon, I threw together a little snack that I quite enjoyed of cauliflower mashed potatoes, tzatziki, artichoke hearts, beets, and chik’n tenders from Lightlife.

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My sister was flying in that night! Before she arrived I had some errands to quickly run at Santana Row.

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I marveled at this cozy sunset before heading to the stores.

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After a happy reunion with my sissy, we went back home, I whipped up some stuffed sweet potatoes with tofu, hummus, roasted veggies, and green goddess dressing for us both, and we caught up while eating out on the patio.

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I was initially planning on doing more school work, but I was so excited about my sister being here that I couldn’t think about focusing. Instead, I made DJ a big batch of his favorite chicken curry and naan that would be good for about three meals for the week.

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This feels like a good stopping point.

Questions for you:

  • Are you having any food cravings/stages right now?
  • Have you watched Chernobyl on HBO? I hear it’s the new GOT, and DJ and I both are considering starting it after we finish The OA.

xo <3

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Nick’s Next Door & Homemade Wine!

Hi all! I am pleased to report I am feeling much better than when I wrote up my last post. The first couple weeks of the semester are always the most challenging, but I think I’ve found my groove and am relieved having a couple good grades under my belt. Thank you bunches for all your encouragement in the last post- it helped tons! Also, we have some logistics figured out about the move that also is a huge relief. I am gonna jump straight into recapping since I have quite a bit of ground to cover.

On May 24th I made an avocado toast with Everything But the Bagel seasoning from TJ’s. Gosh, I love that stuff! Sometimes I throw on some tabasco for a kick too.

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I studied all morning and whipped up this omelette in the afternoon with tons of veggies, garlic powder, pink Himalayan sea salt, and wilted kale served with some green goddess dressing (from TJ’s too). This dressing goes deliciously with eggs!

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But in the evening is where the real guuud eats come into play! As ya know that week was particularly emotionally draining for me. We had been saving a gift-card for a special occasion, and this was perfect timing. Even if it’s not a holiday, sometimes a much needed date night is an occasion of its own.

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The restaurant we went was called Nick’s Next Door, a tucked away little spot in Los Gatos. This is considered a local favorite, and it became clear quickly as to why. We opted to sit out on the patio under the twinkle lights and were warmed by overhead heaters that created a cozy temp in the coolness of the evening.

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We started the evening with some unique and wonderful wine- a white for DJ, red for myself.

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Complimentary bread to start a meal is always a huge bonus in my book 🙂 It was served with a zesty marinara-type sauce.

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We also shared a couple appetizers. First up, their lobster spring rolls with sweet chili beurre blanc, Thai cabbage salad, and crushed roasted peanuts. These were refreshing! I will say the lobster was masked a tiny bit by the other flavors, but still tasty.

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Our personal favorite were the basil pesto croquettes. Gosh, these were stuffed with flavor!

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Oh oh! Wait, tying for first place in the appetizer department is the wild truffle mushroom soup. This is some of the best darn soup I have ever tried. You can see the truffle oil bubbling at the top. I thoroughly enjoyed dipping bread into it to sop it all up.

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For my main course I had Nick’s on Main Salmon with lemon risotto, sautéed asparagus and fava beans topped with a Dungeness crab beurre blanc. WOW. wow. wow. Every bite was tremendous. Also, every time I have risotto I wonder why I don’t eat it every single day.

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DJ had their Pan Roasted Rib Eye Steak with bone marrow, crispy truffle fries, tarragon dusted roasted cauliflower. He loved the rib eye steak portion, I loved the cauliflower portion. Also, I tried a bit of the bone marrow- forever convinced it is one of the tastiest things you can eat on planet earth.

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What a scrumptious meal! It was so nice to just chat and enjoy an evening out on the town without any distractions. One thing we discussed debated in our convo at dinner is whether you can like both the Office & Stand-up comedy. I don’t think it’s even a question- absolutely you can, and probably do, like both!!! I love stand up, and I love The Office. DJ thinks if you like The Office you have too dissimilar a sense of humor to like stand-up. Curious your thoughts!

The bill was brought out in The New Food Lover’s Companion book for you to sign along with countless other customers. We also met Nick himself. He came over and made sure we were comfortable- such a nice guy who is clearly beloved by the patrons!

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For our signature in the book we posed our question, hah.

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Such a lovely evening <3 We were practically there till close & enjoyed every moment.

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On May 25th it was “back to school” for me. In the afternoon I made some grilled cheese & tomato soup for us.. an easy go-to.

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In the evening I made DJ a skirt steak with chimchurri sauce, roasted potatoes and an egg for that “steak and eggs” feel.

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I had the same thing, minus the steak- add a veggie burger.

Oh, and also exciting…after a little over four weeks and hours of prep/filtering/etc. our homemade wine was ready to be bottled! I have saved memorable wine bottles from the last couple years to use for the bottling (except the Cupcake- I just needed a fifth to store the last bit, hah).

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Just for kicks, here are the posts that correspond with each bottle above:

Kieu Hoang

Cashmere- Black Magic

La Fantasia 

John’s Grill

When I eventually tried the wine for the first time I was a bit nervous- I was pretty sure I’d get sick or that it’d taste awful since I kinda messed up a couple steps, but it turned out sooo yummy & full bodied & delicious (and did not make us sick!).

I am super stoked about how it all went from the entire manual process to the actual wine itself. I would highly recommend this as a gift to anyone you know who likes vino! My only concern is how we will transport the bottles with us to TX.. I think maybe I could get one of those empty wine boxes from Trader Joe’s or something? We’ll see!

On May 26th I made rack of lamb for the first time. During my long study days making dinner is such a highlight of the long hours- it’s a fun creative outlet to break up the studying.

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I served the lamb over a bed of brown jasmine rice with wilted spinach and a homemade tahini sauce. DJ loved it! At first he said it was way too much food for him that I plated, since I just gave him the whole thing haha. But whaddya know.. he ended up eating the entire thing minus maybe one single chop.

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May 27th, Memorial day, DJ had to work, and I had a ton of studying to get ready for my first exam. Since DJ didn’t really get to experience a relaxing Memorial Day I tried to prep a dinner that would give somewhat that holiday feel (burger, mashed potatoes, mac n’ cheese, a bread stick). I ordered it all from Applebee’s with a gift card & added a giant refreshing salad for myself that I topped with some vegan crumbles & green goddess dressing. Thank you to all who serve and your families for your service <3

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On May 28th I started the day with toast with PB & honey. This has been on repeat the last few weeks paired with my avocado smoothie.

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I then went to Peet’s to study the whole day away! It was very productive & was good for me to get a change of scenery to study.

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A refreshing snack I enjoyed that day was this açaí bowl. After I took the pic I decided to add some PB and chocolate chips to it- a great summer treat!

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For dinner I made DJ one of the go-tos: BBQ baked chicken with roasted potatoes, rice, and steamed spinach with some parm on top. I had my usual large salad to finish up the veggies going badly.

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May 29th I took my first exam. My head was pounding after the timed 90 minutes of adrenaline. I had a really hard time focusing the rest of the day. My headache nearly turned into a migraine, I started getting anxious about questions I convinced myself I missed and decided to just take the rest of the day off from school since I wasn’t going to be productive anyways. I worked on stuff for Hal’s wedding weekend and caught up on other things that have been on the back burner since school resumed. Like brushing my hair. Ok, I’ll wrap it up here- this is already quite lengthy! I’m particularly excited for my next post, so hopefully I can get that out sometime in the next week?..month? … year?!

Questions for you:

  • Do you like both the Office & Stand-Up?
  • How was your weekend?

xo <3

 

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One Big Rambling Post!

I started this post a few days ago, but haven’t had the chance to finish it until today- SOoOooo I woke up extra early to get this sun-of-a-gun done once and for all!

Hey y’all! This is my last official catch up post before going back to school tomorrow. I looked over the curriculum, and it looks really intense this semester. I know it will be okay, but I’m pretty anxious to just get started and get back in the groove of things. I have to remind myself these first weeks with “syllabus shock” are always overwhelming. So with a big deep breath I will get us all caught up. Sorry if I am MIA for a little bit here while I adjust back to the crazy study schedule, but know that I will blog and read your blogs whenever time allows. Gonna always need a study break, ya know? 😉

December 29th was a must needed restful Saturday. We did a whole lotta nothing, and it was great! I think I worked on some blogging & for dinner whipped us up some mahi mahi I had in the freezer with veggies for dinner. We watched our Arrested Development in the evening, of coursee.

December 30th we went to church in the morning, and we food was scarce in the apartment at this point since I still hadn’t been to the store since we left. I had some frozen bison taco meat for DJ I had before hand (thank goodness) & I made a hodge-podge for myself of eggs, squash, and hummus for lunch. It weirdly worked!

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I grabbed a See’s candy lollipop & headed to Trader Joe’s to get some real foood.

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And that brings us to NYE- December 31st!! Woohoo! Last year for NYE we were in Texas with my mom and Pete. (PS. WHAT was I thinking with that type of falsies? Someone should have given me a stern talking to, lol!!! What a stage I went through. Oy to the veyyy). Anywho- we just stayed in, and it was so fun & relaxing. I suggested we do that again this year and try to make soufflés since we’ve been talking about doing that together after going to Cafe Jacqueline. We got all our ingredients together and got to work while listening to our ole’ buddy, Frank Sinatra.

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While the soufflé was in the oven we enjoyed some yummy appetizers. Did I go overboard for just two people? Nahhhh, no such thing! Most everything is from TJ’s & I pulled out my homemade hummus. The artisanal bread was wonderful! I also made some roasted carrots & beets. I have never made my own roasted beets before, but it may become a staple- they crisped up so easily like chips & were just delicious!

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^^ Fun fact: That was all frozen cheese (half regular/half vegan) from when we went to wine country a few months ago. Cheese freezes very well. You just defrost it & it’s good to go. (Just don’t let it melt- I accidentally let the pepperjack/some of the vegan provolone go a tiny bit too long).

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I also saw these champagne gummies I could not help but resist! They were very tasty!

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So when we first took out our soufflé from the oven it hadn’t quite risen all the way, but I think it eliminated the “rise” after we let the cool air in. We cooked it a few minutes longer and it puffed up a bit more and the cheese got all yummy & caramelized on top! (but that’s why there is a divide in it- from when we tried to get a slice the first time around).

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The flavor was spot on- we tried to recreate the corn/ginger/garlic flavor, and it was pretty doggone close! Next time we are going to cook it a little longer & I think I’m going to whip my egg whites a bit more to give it more rise (isn’t that how it works?). It was still so light and airy, we enjoyed every little nibble!!! Once I perfect it I will share the recipe!

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We then plopped on the couch to watch the NYE show. This year looked frigid in the ole’ NYC.

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But ya cannot forget dessert. Believe it or not we still had room for this bad boy below.

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We saw this recipe on Tasty and when is a better time to recreate this monster than NYE? Here’s the thing though- we like every baked good we eat at home severely undercooked- practically asking for salmonella (what’s life without living on the edge). So all cookies, brownies, etc…must only be kissed by the oven! This meant it didn’t all “compact” the way it did in that video and really was just a big glob, but man, was it ever a good glob! SO rich, but goood. (I may or may not have had my slice with some double fudge brownie ice cream too).

^^ haha, it’s so obnoxious.

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Jan 1st was the last day off for DJ before he went back to work, so we just chilled at home, worked on Christmas “thank yous”, enjoyed leftovers throughout the day, and I went on a 12-mile run at some point. I also read a big chunk of The Hate You Give– I can’t wait to finish it- I could do a whole post on how it has challenged my perspectives & opened my eyes. Highly recommend this read to everyone.

The 2nd I spent nearly the entire day posting on Poshmark! LOVE Poshmark.

The 3rd I had a Facetime Dinner date with my best friend from Ohio, Rachel. MISS HER soooo much. My picture I took didn’t turn out, but she got one from her end!

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After, I went to Sara’s to hangout and catch up after our holidays. We had some tea and gabbed away for hours.

Friday, January 4th- January 5th were another two days of just getting things off the to-do list and ready for school and shipping Poshmark sales. In the evening I made these bacon wrapped scallops for DJ since our leftovers were getting low.

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He loved them! Definitely a two-thumbs-up recommendation!

Sunday, January 6th, we went early to church to help on the serving team (I’m so thankful I finally have a schedule that allows me to be a part of that again!). Since DJ “bumps out” (tears down the equipment, venue since it is a rental, etc.) after the 11:30 service we had some time between the two to grab some breakfast/brunch. We went to the table in Willow Glen that I’ve had my eye on for a while. I realized I kinda stalk restaurants- I’ll drive by a few times, look them up on YELP, go into a deep Google review dive, and then finally visit and introduce myself in person.

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Since it was raining outside & somewhat chilly their outdoor seating area was freed up. I had my winter coat on and they had heaters, so we agreed to go ahead and sit out there to weather the storm. The temperature was actually just fine with the heaters! We did walk through the inside of the restaurant to get there- loved the vibe and how it was decorated.

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The menu had such unique options & changes frequently! It was a bit on the pricier side, but it’s all seasonal locally sourced ingredients and everything was wonderful- the service, food, environment.

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The coffee was yummy- but could have been a bit hotter (but that’s what I say everywhere 😉 ).

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DJ tried their lemon ricotta pancakes and they were what lemony dreams were made of!! Sometimes when I order the lemon ricotta pancakes the “lemon” doesn’t quite come through, but the flavor was brilliant in these. Can you tell I snagged a few bites?

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I had their avocado, crab, and egg toast that was considered a “snack”. This was not your average avocado toast- it had Dungeness crab & trout roe on perfectly cooked toast (very slightly burnt). Mmm!

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Monday January 7th I met with my nurse friend Kim in the afternoon for coffee at Orchard Valley in Campbell. I am totally gonna have to come here to study! They had so many tables & it was nice n’ quiet.

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It was lovely to catch up with Kim, I always leave our conversations refreshed and encouraged.

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In the evening I made us Sriracha Shrimp Bowls with eggs & artisanal bread (still left from TJs!). It was a great combo, kinda reminded me of bibimbap!

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We plopped down to watch the train wreck that was the premiere of Colton’s season of The Bachelor. Lemme say, it easily could have been an hour, not three. I’m going to watch every second, but I am beyond tired of the virgin storyline, and quite frankly, I think some of the girls need to check themselves because a couple were downright disrespectful about it. I know I don’t usually get heated up in hurrr, but I could go off! First night favorites: Cassie and Katie. I thought Bri’s entrance was gold (although she looks a lot like Lauren Bushnell which…….. ehhh… that’s all I’ll say). I also didn’t mind Erika’s entrance! I liked that it was simple & a play on her name. Demi’s trouble, but I’m here for it. I’m surprised Jane & Erin got sent home. Would love to hear your thoughts!!

Going from reality TV back to reality, I told DJ something I wanted to try this year was one recipe per week of his request to get me out of my own cooking comfort zone. One of his favorite soups is cream of veg from the Dixie Stampede. I made it a long time ago (probably four years), and he requested it to be his recipe of the week. I made it on Tuesday the 8th, and it was crazy easy, but he kept raving about how much he loved it.

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Yesterday, the 9th, I started school. I don’t know why, but I was suffering from some severe anxiety that made it hard to even get through even a paragraph of reading. I thought I got it all under control after my residency ended, but it’s creeping back up. I think seeing the massive load of assignments we have this semester plus some big life changes (more on that to come) just felt overwhelming to think about (although it’s all great stress to have). And I know the anxiety is disproportional… I submitted an assignment and forgot to indent and space in a couple spots, and it nearly sent me into a full blown panic attack. I couldn’t stop thinking about it the rest of the day (It was a TWO point introduce yourself post). Coo-koo, I tell ya what! Maybe it’s hormones… is it a full moon?! I bet it’s a full moon. Nope, it’s not a full moon, I just checked. Scratch that. Hmm idk. I’m just gonna ride this wave out. I read some scripture in the evening which really helped put me at ease, and I already feel better refreshed this AM. Okay enough rambling- gotta get back to work. I get to see my third graders today too at B+G club that I haven’t seen since mid-December, so I have that to look forward to this afternoon!

Question for you:

  • Any recipes you’ve tried lately that you love?
  • Best book you’ve ever read? (I’m making my 2019 reading list now!)

xo <3

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Savings September In Review

Hey everyone! I have a little different type of  post today. As some of you may know DJ and I have an annual tradition of doing a lil’ something we call Savings September. We have noticed that summers tend to make a big ole’ dent in the spending arena, so every September we use to refocus, re-establish good habits, and look for ways to be smarter about spending, especially leading up to the holiday season. We don’t want this to be limited to September either- the goal is that by creating these conscientious, yet practical, habits we will be able to take what we have learned and apply it to each month thereafter.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to make a post initially; I never have in the past. However, this year was particularly successful, and a few of you have expressed interest in ways we have saved! SO without further adieu, here are some little easy tips and tricks that helped us save 42% of what we spent in August. Yes-42%!!! Something we predominately learn each time we do this is the little expenses and choices add up!

1.Limiting Eating Out.This one is probably not a big surprise that it’d be a saver & it didn’t mean we never ate out. Basically, we limited our eating out to either social hangouts with friends or date nights together. I tried to be diligent about prepping more and making sure there was something DJ and I could easily have for lunch rather than him buying lunch every day at work. This used to be a routine for us, but it definitely fell through the cracks through the summer. Feels good to be back in the swing!

 

2. Limiting Coffee Out. I definitely still had my Peet’s <3… but I used up old gift cards with a couple dollars sitting on them here and there at various coffee shops. I tried to only go to Peet’s once or twice a week when the school load was extra heavy and ordered a small most times.

3. Groceries. This is probably where we saved the most. I tried to use up every little thing we had in the pantry/freezer/fridge before going back to the store. I would create meals surrounding what we already had. For example, I knew we had fish in the freezer, so I would go get rice and a veggie to “fill in” a meal with what we needed to use up. I also tried to be attentive to making the wisest decision among choices. For instance, usually when I get tomatoes, I don’t pay too much mind to the couple cent difference between the Roma and the cherry tomatoes. But when you opt for the cheaper one and apply that mindset to every item you are buying over weeks, months, years it really adds up- especially on things that you don’t mind a slight difference. Oh, and buying the on sale in season fruits makes a HUGE difference too- and taste better!

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4. Skipping on the non-essentials. I loveee myself some carbonated bevies, especially “ICE” waters. But the thing is, they ain’t cheap when you buy them often! I always throw in a couple bottles when I’m at the store along with some gum from the cash register- but with how frequently I chew gum, it just isn’t a wise investment and a habit that needed some breaking. Rather than buying ICEs, we bought 3 large packs of Bubbly water for $10 and stopped buying gum entirely. I do have mints in need of freshening up my breath on the go though. Not only has this saved monetarily, but I no longer even crave the ICEs or gum. This doesn’t mean I won’t grab a pack here or there, but I don’t have the desire for a piece of gum every hour of the day.

5. Poshmark!!! I sold quite a bit on Poshmark this past month, and then had credit in my account available with the sales. I noticed I needed new face-wash, but my favorite face-wash that I discovered through Fab Fit Fun costs around $34. Ugh! That’s how they get you. I decided to check Poshmark to see if I could find some for cheaper. I negotiated for two bottles that would be about 1/2 of the price using the Poshmark credit. Score! It makes me wonder what other items I can find on there.

6. Being cognizant of saving electricity. I have a bad habit of keeping lights on going room to room (It drove my mom nuts growing up). We have both been extra diligent in making sure to turn lights off upon leaving a room and when we leave the house. It’s a great habit we have developed, and now it would bother me to keep them on and leave.

7. Buying in Bulk. At some point I noticed we were running low on some cleaning supplies, toilet paper and other essentials. I remembered I had received a coupon from Bed Bath and Beyond to get $20 off $80 spent. I bought all the stuff that we needed (including a couple fall candles-  autumn necessities 😉 ) all online. We are stocked up on tons of cleaning supplies, a new shower liner we desperately needed, dishwashing soap, and toilet paper for way cheaper if I had bought them at a regular grocery store. The delivery also came with 2 $60 gift-cards towards HelloFresh. Also, at Target you will sometimes see if you buy a certain number of items, you can get a $5 gift-card back. I always try to stock up on laundry detergent and household essentials when I see those promos going on. Right now if you get a flu shot at CVS affiliated with Target- you can also get a $5 giftcard to Target (just call before you go to make sure they are doing the promotion). But get yo flu shot, peopleeee!

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8. Using Cosmetics I already Have. I don’t know about you, but I have a bunch of little “samples” sitting around of makeup, shampoo, body wash, etc. Rather than just buying something new when I ran out of something, I gathered up all my samples and have been using everything up. Those little samples go a long way! Not only have I discovered some products I really like along the way, but I am clearing up space in the cabinet too. Oh! And I’ve started using olive oil to remove makeup- it works wonders and is so gentle- no more needing to buy makeup remover!

9. Having fun, restful weekends at home. I love to be busy and plan, plan, plan. But even seemingly cheap plans can become expensive, especially around here- you’ve got unexpected parking expenses, food, gas money, etc.. Not having a ton of weekend plans reminded me how important (and fun) just a weekend at home is for rest & rejuvenation. I also was able to get ahead on some school projects, so that always feels good! Oh, and DJ definitely needed the time to breathe now that the season has ended. I’m excited to plan some lax dates this month when we carve pumpkins, watch Halloween movies, make homemade wine together, practice baking soufflés, and have picnics with the lovely autumn weather!

10. Mint. This financial management app is incredible. It is super easy to use and understand. Being conscious of where every dollar goes, seeing our budget clearly, and having alerts when we are about to go over a set budget has been tremendously helpful in being good stewards of our money.

We also have some other just general saving tips that we have used for a couple years or gained over past Savings Septembers:

  • We love Groupon . This is where we get some restaurant deals & most of our hotel deals  (along with Orbitz to collect Orbitz bucks!)- always make sure to get points or rewards for your travels! It’s a free night in a hotel or a free plane ride eventually. I also have accounts with hotel.com & booking.com for when they have the cheapest comparative rates.
  • Installing Wikibuy into your Internet toolbar is a big saver! Every time you are about to make a purchase, Wikibuy will scour the internet for coupon codes, deals, promos, etc. and automatically apply it to your order if it finds one. You also get money back many times and can use that toward other purchases.
  • Sometimes I like to peruse Coupons.com before making a purchase to see if there are any coupons for something I may need too.
  • I have subscribe and save on Amazon for certain things we rebuy every few months- like shavers and Swiffer refills. This saves 5% for each purchase, and we would buy that stuff every couple months anyways- so why not save 5%?

As you can see, a lot of the savings do not come from really any novel ideas, but simply being conscious of each purchase. Hope this was somewhat helpful for someone! If you have any tips and tricks I’d LOVE to hear them too! Have a beautiful week, everyone 🙂

xo <3

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Recent Eats & Recent Things

Hey guys! I am in a fuuunk tonight and won’t be sleeping for like the sixth day in a row. We have new upstairs neighbors and they are making their presence known. They like to assemble furniture very late at night and don’t shy away from hammering and dropping and banging and anything else at 11 pm. OH, and they have a dog that incessantly barks all day long. I’m genuinely sick to my stomach about this situation. We stinking love our apartment, and this is gonna be a serious issue if it continues. A girl needs to sleep! I hope it calms down soon. I did talk to them once and they were aggressive (well the guy was nice, girl not so much) and denied that they were the ones causing the noise (although she greeted me at the door with a screw driver, lol!!!)….. come onn… I was super nice to them and told them I understand moving in is a loud process, but it’d be appreciated if it didn’t take place at 11 pm 🙁 Has anyone else had issues like this? I totally did NOT plan to go into a full on vent sesh.. but there ya have it.

I am gonna do a quick little catch up post of the in-betweens since our anniversary in the city 🙂

On August 10th, we drove back from SF, and I took a nice little walk around the neighborhood. I just love how the blooms change so frequently here- this massive purple tree really caught my eye.

 

 

 

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ohhh.. there they go….. *bang bang bang* like seriously how can someone make so much noise?! humph. I’m investing in noises cancelling headphones.

Back to the post… I am fuming right now.. can you tell?

On August 11th, we met with Alexandra, one of my dear friends from the residency program, and her husband Daniel, (from Denmark) for dinner at Eureka. It was such a blast and we really enjoyed hanging with them. Can’t wait for another chance to all get together. (Also, HIGHLY recommend Eureka’s sweet potato fries- yum!).

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STOMP, STOMP, STOMP. It’s like they are trying to be this loud. My gosh.

Anyyways, August 12th was church and then grabbing some “fill in” groceries from TJ’s for the day. I was honestly a bit tired from eating out which I didn’t know was even possible. I couldn’t wait to just eat at home and cook again! In order to save, I tried to plan our meals for the week around what we mostly had. The TJ’s trip basically was to stock up on just random little ingredients to make the full meals.

August 13th I whipped up some salmon with wild rice and roasted veggies for dinner. A favorite!

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August 14th was pretty uneventful, just house chores, knocking things off the to-do list and a beautiful run in the afternoon. These flowers were spectacular.

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DJ and I watched BIP in the evening. I stole his Oreos teheh. These mixed with Fairlife chocolate milk is an unreal combo.

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On August 15th, I read a bit and then sifted through grad school e-mails. I kept holding my breath every time I logged in- I was so irrationally nervous I wouldn’t be able to start for some unforeseeable reason or i’d be notified my acceptance was a mistake. #imposterssyndrome. It’s like I couldn’t believe I was actually in this program until the first day! And what is paranoia best solved by? Quesadillas with tomato soup, of course! I make mine vegan cheese and DJ’s with regular cheese.

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August 16th I had a weird medley of foods… I started the day with my go-to avocado and egg toast

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After snacking throughout the morning, I decided I wanted carbs… but I wanted veggies too. Solution? I put kale and hummus on a sandwich and it hit the spot. DJ thought it was disgusting hahah.

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Another snack kick I was on this particular week was Fage, peaches, and shakeology powder.

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August 17th, I made an acai bowl with oats, vegan chocolate chips, and peaches! I was just loving these TJ peaches.

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In the evening, I had a Dr. Praeger’s burger that had been sitting in my fridge for a while (SO GOOD), some wilted spinach, cauli rice, roasted sweet potato, and an egg. I felt like this was a very Kori-esque meal, and it was SO delicious!!

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STOMP, STOMP, STOMP.. it is 11:45. GO TO SLEEP! My gooodnesssss.

August 18th, I was so exhausted. It was one of those days where I was just so darn tired and hormonal and UGH. My girls get it! Nothing a cute cat can’t fix. I went to my friend Sara’s and we watched our show while I snuggled with this little fur baby.

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I had some leftover sweet potato and a veggie burger earlier on in the evening, but when around 9:30 pm rolled around I had a massive pizza craving (Like BAD). I ordered DJ and I some pies from Round Table. I had the baby pineapple with mushroom pizza and ordered DJ the large sausage. We rarely ever order pizza- I think we have maybe once in the past year, but gosh this hit the spot!

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In the morning of August 19th, I woke up with a sore throat. I decided to stay home from Church and watch the sermon online. DJ had to go to work this morning. The rest of the day I took it pretty easy just trying to recoup.

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August 20th, I felt a bit better when I woke up. I started the day with the standard avo & egg toast, and then went on a nice long walk to shake off the cobwebs.

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In the evening we watched Bachelor in Paradise, of course!

August 21-24th was just a whole lot of running errands, doing things on the to-do list like getting the oil changed, attending online orientation for school at 5 am (since I’m on pacific time lol), deep cleaning in the house, and some blogging in between while DJ worked a homestand.

August 25th I met up with my friend Alexandra for some scrumptious coffee from Voyager Craft Coffee. They have some of the best coffee- but it’s pricy, so I only go when meeting up with friends. It was a treat catching up with her and enjoying this coffee!

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In the afternoon I was craving something warm and comforting- I made up an oatmeal bowl with acai, cashews, and chocolate chips. Have y’all ever tried acai warmed in your oats?! It’s tasty!!

Ohhhh.. there goes the dog yapping. It is the yappiest little thing. hum bug.

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As we are trying to limit the groceries we buy and just use food from home (minus the pizza indulgence), I made DJ up these Special K Flatbreads we had in the freezer for breakfast. He loved them!

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We ran out of avocado, but determined to only use what we had in the fridge, I put some hummus on toast and egg over and called it breakfast. (Oh something I don’t picture but have nearly every day with breakfast is half or whole protein bar.. it keeps me full through the morning).

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August 26th I wrapped up all loose ends, got my ducks in a row with my books, finished laundry and read for pleasure for a bit because I was going to school the next day!! (and in undergrad the last thing I wanted to do was read for pleasure!).

August 27th was my first day of grad school! I started the day with a clear head by going to hot yoga around 7 am.

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I grabbed this new yoga mat at TJ Maxx for $7.99!! Way cheaper than anything I could even find on Amazon Prime.

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I made a turmeric latte at home to start the day and got started on the next 3.5 years of my life!

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I dedicated the rest of the day to school work. I am loving it, y’all! It’s a lot of work, a massive amount of reading, and a ton of discussion- but I have been anticipating this, and it feels great to be back in an academic setting.

My days basically are all the same now, which I love. I have missed routine! I haven’t had routine since 2016. I’ve been waking up around 8, have a massive breakfast, do some sort of workout whether it’s a run, insanity, or hot yoga, then work all day on school work, and then go on a walk to clear my head before cooking dinner. I then use the evenings to spend time with DJ, read, watch my guilty pleasure TV, and unwind with maybe a littttle bit more school work mixed in (Well… unwind best I can since the neighbors took over the apt. building, lol!).

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On repeat last week we had butterfly trout with roasted zucchini, forbidden rice, and greens.

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I changed it up a couple times with a veggie burger instead.

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The next couple posts I will recap our Labor Day! I am sooo psyched to share those.

Oh, one more thing! The month of September DJ, and I call “Saving September” every year. We go all out to try to save after a summer full of traveling and eating out. Basically we just keep to necessities- no eating out, no extra expenses (like those darn ICEs I am obsessed with), no shopping, etc. etc.  I always think it’s fun because it’s like a challenge to try to find new ways to make meals with what we have, get in better habits of not buying gum every time I’m at a checkout counter, forces us to just drink so much water that isn’t laden with chemicals, and get creative with clothes too! We put it off basically until this week because my parents were in town, but now we are all in 🙂 I’m eager to share how it goes!!

Also exciting- DJ is DONE with games until next season! That means his schedule goes back to a more 9-5 now. He’s super excited about that as am I.

Any meals/food items/etc. you have been loving lately?

xo <3

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