Lotsa Pho & Homemade Soufflé Pancakes!

** SO I wrote this post on the 20th and totally forgot to publish it, so here it is over a week later, haha**

Can four posts in 24 hours be done?! I am tryin’! I have 45 minutes before I am heading to Boys and Girls Club, so I’m gonna try to get this done really quick. Although I’ll probably publish it in a couple days to give ya a breather from all the Disney excitement 😉

After saying our goodbyes to the fam on the evening of the 8th, Amy, DJ, and I all headed to the airport at around 6 am on December 9th. Amy and I were starting to feel that ominous “tickle” in the back of the throat. We loaded up on Vitamin C packs to take with our generous 2 ounces of complimentary water on the plane.

I thought this little set up at our gate was adorable!

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Luckily the seat next to DJ and me wasn’t occupied, so Amy joined us! Unluckily, I felt like absolute crud, so I was a bump on the log and barely moved the entire flight. I studied what I could and then just slept.

The only food that sounded appetizing once we were home was pho. Pho is the ultimate comfort food when sick, especially from House of Pho (hands down the best Pho around).

I also had to get the fresh tofu spring rolls. They always look so darn good in Hunida’s posts, and had me craving some of those too. They were so tasty and refreshing. The peanut sauce was on point.

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We door-dashed it, as we had ZERO energy. I chose the vegetarian option. It was just what I was craving, and I always feel like eating spicy pho helps to clear out the sinuses and kill the bad germs. I don’t think there is any science behind that theory, but I’m stickin’ to it. I felt almost instantly better after eating the noods.

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DJ ordered a chicken pho that he really enjoyed.

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Later that evening DJ got hungry again so I whipped him up Chicken Tikka Masala with Naan from TJ’s. I always like to have fast meals on hand for when I’m not in the mood to cook. TJ’s comes in clutch with frozen meals, especially during this crayzayyy time of year. This gets a 8/10 from DJ. I absolutely love the naan. For being frozen naan I think it’s as good as it gets!

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December 10th I spent the entire day studying away. Just studied, studied, studied! In the evening I made DJ a cheese tortellini with parmesan crisps.

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I had the second half of my leftover pho. The serving they gave in this delivery was very generous!

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December 11th I took my final!!! It went really well, and I am very thankful it is behind me now. A couple months ago I was debating if I should go to Disney because of the final, but I’m glad I made it work because it would have been horrible to miss out on such a wonderful  family trip. That is something my undergraduate self would have never dreamed of doing- look Ma, I’m more balanced!

In the evening I made Deej his favorite tacos per request. How he isn’t sick of these by now is beyond me.

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I was craving fresh raw veggies since I was finally feeling better. I had a big salad with a bean burger and hummus.

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December 12th I ran some errands in the afternoon to restock on groceries. I spent the rest of the evening catching up on laundry and all that fun stuff. In the evening I made Deej a cajun style pasta. He gave this pasta a 9/10.

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On December 13th, I grabbed a coffee in the morning and went for a walk while listening to podcasts. Perfect start to the morning. I also went to TJ Maxx to peruse for gifts & get a new planner after.

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After, I zipped to Santana Row to look around there for gifts. The five level parking garage was FULL midday. That is unheard of! Tis’ the season. This reminds me why I always try to get shopping done a few weeks before Christmas. People— people everywhere…

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On my way home I ran to the post office to drop some packages off and make some returns.

Friday the 14th was a fun day! I completed an 18-miler for marathon training, and then caught up on blogging. In the evening I made DJ a Shepherd’s pie from TJ’s. He rated it a 6/10. Probably not a rebuy for us. I had my big ole’ veggie mix again. I get on kicks with that salad. Mmmmm ! I’m already excited to have it in a few hours.

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We made sugar cookies from scratch and then decorated them. I just love the cookie making tradition 🙂 I would have made more, but since we are traveling the rest of December it didn’t really make sense. Every time at this year I am reminiscent of our Mingle & Jingle. One year I would like to do something like that again!

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Saturday December 15th I woke up early, worked on a blog post while watching The Great British Baking Show and enjoyed oatmeal & coffee out on the balcony.

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Saturday was a super lazy day for us, but much needed. I don’t even remember much of what we did- I’m going to guess Arrested Development & eating sugar cookies was in the mix.

Sunday the 16th was our Christmas Creative at church. I always love the Christmas Creative every year! Our Pastor says it’s the time of year when “we let the creatives out”, hah. They tell the Christmas story through gifts of singing, dancing, acting, video, etc. The talent just astounds me.

With no in-post segue (who has time for that?) I’m sad to inform you we found out some terrible news. You know the soufflé pancakes we just discovered and are obsessed with? Apparently, that was only a pop up location. They are moving out 🙁

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WELL. Are we gonna let this get us down?! NO… heck to the NAH. We are just gonna have to make our own! I looked up a recipe for soufflé pancakes and gave them a shot. I was ambitious and tried to make them in Christmas shapes. I forgot to grease the cookie cutters, so they didn’t come out perfectly shaped (womp womp), but were still a success from the flavor and texture standpoint!!!

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They were so fluffy, light, and tasted just like the ones we had! I definitely have room to improve, but I am excited they turned out as well as they did.

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This was the second batch which looks much more like the original ones we tried from Koja.

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On Monday December 17th, I did a HITT routine in the morning then met up with our campus Pastor, Amy, in the afternoon for some lunch & to catch up. We went to SoFa, a place in San Jose that is like a nice cafeteria set up with the yummiest foods to choose from.

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We both decided to nom down some poke. I usually go for ahi tuna when I get poke, but they had octopus on the menu which I had to try. It was absolutely satisfying.

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I caught up on more blogging in the afternoon & evening.

Tuesday December 18th I woke up early. I mixed up my usual oatmeal breakfast to use up some of the food we already had on hand. I made an egg white omelette with a bunch of veggies, hummus, and a slice of Ezekiel bread with low sugar raspberry jam.

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I went for a run in the afternoon. It was a gorgeous day!

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Yesterday the 19th I was running around like a nut trying to get everything ready to go for Christmas and traveling. And that brings us to today, the 20th! We leave later tonight to go back to Cleveland. It’s a red eye so I’m a bit nervous about the lack of sleep I’m facing especially with the time change, but I’ll just take it in stride per usual.

Question for you:

  • Favorite holiday tradition?

xo <3

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Epcot!

Happy happy Thursday, aka Epcot post day!! I am just sooo excited about this post. When we got to Epcot I told DJ I couldn’t believe I didn’t know about this place’s existence until this trip…. it is literally a foodie’s paradise!!! I could have killed an entire week in this park alone.

We took the ferry over from our hotel to the park. I highly suggest staying in Disney (on one of their hotel properties) if you are going to visit because all transportation is taken care of, painless, easy and decently quick. You can take a ferry or a bus to the parks at almost any hour of the day. Saves so much time & money in dealing with parking or uber/lyft!

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So the entire park is set up to take you from country to country. Each “country” is created so that it feels as though you are actually there. Its unreal (quite literally unreal, but they fool you well 😉 ). You get a taste of traveling across the world without actually leaving the US. My two favorite things were in one single place- “traveling” and foooood! At the end of the day, I told DJ it was one of my favorite memories/days of all time.

We briefly passed through the UK on the way to our first fast pass! I had to get the famous “telephone booth” photo, of course! One day I WILL actually visit. Where my UK bloggers at?! Holllaaa

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Our fast pass was for Test Track. For this you get to design your vehicle and then “test” while competing against other cars. The car below is the one DJ, my MIL and I created. I mean getttta load of these hot wheels 😉

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It was such a fun ride. We competed against others in our group which made it all the more competitive, naturally.

Now for Space Mountain! Unfortunately, someone had an “episode” on the ride right before us… so the clean up crew had to come in before we could ride. It stalled the ride for probably about thirty minutes. Finally, we got to embark! I am a bit claustrophobic and didn’t realize how enclosed the space was.. but I just tried to calm myself down and reminded myself I was fine. I am much better with the small spaces than when I was as a kid- I used to have a really hard time with even elevators. Anyways, that ride was in-stinking-tense!!! But totally worth it.

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After the ride we ran into some friends from college (fun!), then went to Club Cool to sample coca colas from around the world.

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The flavors were all super unique. I think my favorite was the Fanta Melon Frosty from Thailand, yummmy!

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Now we trottin’ through Mexico. Although it felt weird not stopping for Mexican food when available (one of our faves) we decided to try all the unique food before going back to the food we have access to usually, ya know?.

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Hence, a stop in Norway was absolutely mandatory.

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We walked into the bakery there, Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe, and were greeted by wonderful scents of sugary baking bread.

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We tried the lefse, a norweigan flatbread stuffed with cinnamon and sugar. It was light & scrumptious.

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We split an authentic Norweigan cider while we were at it. The pairing of the lefse and cider was fantastic; it was super refreshing and delicious on that hot day.

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China time!

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Oh my, was it beautiful. The intricacies, once again, took my breath away!

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I have had my eye on bao for a while now. When I saw it on the menu I had to get it for us to try! Even though it had meat, I still tried a nibble, but mostly ate the bun with the sauce which was delish in its own right. I will say– I don’t think this particular bao is as good as they come, but I loved trying it out nonetheless. The bao bun I had in SJ was wayyy more tasty. I think we need to make our way to SF soon to try more.

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Can you guess where next?

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Germany it is! Here we tried an authentic potato dumpling, and I think this was my favorite thing we had all day. Man, was that ever tasty. I think it was the texture & savory mushroom mix gravy I loved so much.

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When the moon hits your eyes like a big pizza pie that’s amore!!! Welcome to Italy, my friends 🙂

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If we had one more day here I would have LOVED to spend a day (or at least a full meal) in Italy. I bet the pizza there was delicious!

We did, however, split our first ever sangria. I gotta say, I wasn’t a huge fan. It was tripping my brain out… is this juice? Not quite! Is this wine? Not quite!!

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Of course, we saluted the US as we passed through, but didn’t stop to eat anything. Gotta leave room for things our taste buds have never explored.

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On to.. JAPAN TOWN! This past year I have grown a fondness and appreciation for Japan. Tokyo is easily #2 on my travel bucket list (after all of the Mediterranean). One day, one day…

We didn’t get any Japanese food because we actually have it quite often here in the Bay Area.

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There was a fun drum recital that played while we were there. Definitely added to the whole authentic experience!

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^^ Don’t know who those people are, but hope they had a good day ruining my perfect Epcot photo. JK JK.

Aaand we are off to Morocco! Oh my do I love Moroccan culture & food. We had it for the first time in Dallas actually, but have sought it out since. Remember our run in with the belly dancer a couple years ago?

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Onto France! LOVED France <3 (ok, let’s be real, I loved every second of every single moment being there). Anyways, this is the place to go for the baked goods for suuure.

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we had to try a delicious crepe, duhhh!

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And this brings us back to the United Kingdom!

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After exploring the UK a bit more thoroughly, we ventured into Canada

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Then we split a shrimp & guac arepa from the Columbia stand right before Mexico.

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Ok Ok, we gave in and had to have some Mexican cuisine 😉 We enjoyed some bombbb margaritas and tacos. I ate the salad and queso (such freaking good queso) & DJ had the tacos. mmmmm!

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This is quite long- I’ll stop here! I’ll wrap up our evening and the rest of the trip in my next post (I think!). I have sooo much to fill y’all in on. I adamantly told DJ I am gonna stay up all night if it takes me to write up these posts before we leave tomorrow to head back to Ohio. Bring on the all-nighter!

Question for you:

  • Which “Country” would you be most interested in trying out?

xo <3

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Animal Kingdom!

Hey hey!!! I was putting this post together and realized it was basically 99% food pics per usual. I shook my head and thought to myself, “ya dun it again, kid”. I guess food is just too darn photogenic, but I’ll fill in the gaps with words (also per usual) haha. Y’all have your snacks ready? Let’s gooo!

After wizarding our way through Harry Potter World we passed through Jurassic Park and The Comic Book Land to ride the Hulk Ride (what a blast!) & then went back to the hotel. We were all pretty tired and chilled to the bone after the cool day. We decided to order takeout from a hotel restaurant and stay in the cozy community room to play CodeNames with the whole gang. If you guys haven’t played this game, ya need to! It’s soo much fun and perfect to whip out with the family for the holidays (or anytime).

For our meals we ordered from Todd English’s Blue Zoo (located within the hotel). I had the Blackened Florida Grouper and da-da-dannng was it ever delicious. It came with black eyed pea puree, polenta “johnny” cake, jumbo lump crab meat, and creole cream. Every bite was heaven.

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DJ had the lobster carbonara. Obvi, it was good. I mean it has “lobster” and “carbonara” in its name after all. Can’t go wrong with that!

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After several rounds of seriously our new favorite game ever, we called it a night. I definitely slept more that night than the one before! On December 6th I woke up at 6:45 am (3:45 my time… oy vey!) to study & get my training run in for the day. It was worth it though when followed by a stellar breakfast (and lots and lots of coffee). We had a hotel breakfast with my mom-in-law and stepdad in law, Gordie, before meeting up with the rest of the group. This breakfast had so many nomz!!! Here is a little roundup.

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Gosh, this breakfast was sooo tasty & fresh & delicious. Mmmm! I love the combo of a muffin, fruit, yogurt, and granola.

Time for Animal Kingdom!

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Immediately after going through the entrance we were greeted by a walking tree. Only in Disney!

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And thennn we were greeted by the tree of life!

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We first went to Dinoland to ride the Dinosaur ride. Too fun!

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Then we headed in the direction of Expedition Everest. This may have been the ride I was most excited for yet.

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SOOO. much. fun! Also that kids face in the back….poor thing doesn’t know what he got himself into. hahah.

We walked around a bit more and had lunch at the Tusker House Cafe.

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This buffet had alll the goodies- there was something for everyone! I loved every bite, but their hummus was particularly yummy!

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Time for the Safari ride. Buckle up!

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This guy below is definitely my Monday mood.

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I was amazed at how close we were able to get to the animals.

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It’s a real life Lion King!!! Naaaaaaants ingonyama bagithi baba

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The whole fam in front of the tree of life 🙂 <3 Just love this group so much.

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PANDORA TIME! I love love loveeed the movie Avatar when I saw it for the first time. I remember watching it when I was in high school.. I was home on a weekend recovering from being sick and just got lost in the beautiful world while lying on the couch like a log. I was awestruck by this recreation of Pandora at Disney. My pictures do not even come close to doing any type of justice. It’s just one of those things y’all will have to see for yourselves 😉 Blogger meet up in Disney?!

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Below are some epic adult beverages you can grab at the stand Pongu Pongu in Pandora. They have boba right on top. On your left is the Rum Blossom and on the right is the Mo’ara Margarita. Mmmm!

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*PS. Thank you to the fam for being so patient and helpful ( and for being hand models) through the trip*

Time to head to the Avatar Flight of Passage. ok….WOAH. Where do I find the words?! This is easily one of the coolest VR rides ever ever ever. I didn’t know this type of technology existed?!?! If you go to Animal Kingdom you HAVE to ride this ride. Definitely get the fast past though, because the regular line is crazyyy long (rightfully so). This and Tower of Terror were probably my two favorite rides from the week. Although Escape from Gringotts was up there too.

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After going back to the hotel we got dressed up then went to Shula’s within the hotel for dinner to celebrate DJ’s sister, Renee’s, birthday! I love that her birthday fell during the trip- we rarely get to see her with all our crazy schedules, nonetheless on her birthday, so the fact that we could celebrate ALL together was very special <3

We started off with warm, fluffy, perfect bread… *insert drool face* good lawd. That bread… I will dream of it for all of my days…

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For an appetizer DJ and I split the seafood trio of shrimp cocktail, crab meat, and lobster tail served with a trio of sauces. My mouth is watering all over again!

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For my main, I had maybe the most delicious scallops I have ever tasted..

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DJ’s steak… (once again, probably needs no description 😉 ).

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And sides that will blow your socks off!! Crab mac and cheese.. me oh my was this ever good! Holy moly, I could have ate that as my meal alone!

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& Some scrumptious asparagus..

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Dessert was a chocolate souffle DJ and I split. 2018 has been the year of souffles—savory, sweet, and pancaked! If it’s on the menu, we basically have to try it. We compared this to Cafe Jacqueline– yes .. that good!

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Picture is a bit pixelated since I stole it from the good ole’ f-book, but ya get the idea 😉

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We slept so well that night after such a phenomenal meal. In the morning, DJ and I snuck in a run then grabbed some coffee from Fuel downstairs in the lobby. That coffee touched my very souuul. No no, that statement is not dramatic at all.

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DJ enjoyed a ham and cheese sandwich, and I had some leftover breakfast from the day before- fruit, granola, and yogurt.

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Next we go to Epcot!!! Wooohoo!! I probs should edit this post, but I’m too excited to share.. so we’ll just post it with all errors and whatnot, k?!

Question for you:

  • Favorite Disney movie of all time?

xo <3

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Eating Our Way Through Portland Part Two!

Hey hey! I just had such a productive day, feelin’ like buzzing bee day where I saw my to-do list just dissolve before my very eyes. (edit: I was feeling that way two days ago when I started this post, no longer do I feel that way!). Lol. Anywayyyyys, we are NOT here to talk about today, we are here to talk about.. well quite a few days ago…. aka over a week ago….

SO let’s get to it, eh?!

Part One Portland is here in case you missed it.

We left off nomming down on Pine State Biscuits. After finishing up the breakfast of the century, we headed to Multnomah Falls.

The drive alone provided breath taking views. We cruised along the Columbia River Gorge taking in the deep green vastness, practically illuminated against the charcoal skies.

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We were planning on doing the hike up to Multnomah Falls, but the entry to the hike (a few miles past the viewing area) was closed due to the awful fire that happened last year. One of my patients actually warned me about this before going, and he was right! It was still a bit of a mess.

We turned the car around to head back to the viewing point. To our nice surprise at the turnoff, we were greeted by a portion of the Historic Oregon Trail! Love it when detours turn into destinations.

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We found a place we could snag some pictures in front of the falls without doing the hike. It worked out pretty beautifully that the hike was closed off because we were able to fit in so much more the rest of the day than we even planned.

One path closes, another one opens!

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The boyssss.

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The Majestic Multnomah Falls!!! The pictures can’t do them even a bit of justice.

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After hitting up the Falls we went to the Vista House overlook. There is a pretty cool history you can read about here for all you history buffs.

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These views!

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Contemplative…

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But not for long!

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After taking the views in at the Vista House, we headed to Washington Park.

We drove down a long winding road to find the park. It was like a scene from Alice in Wonderland, with roses accompanying each turn of the drive.

Something I didn’t expect, but adored, were the pastel colored homes ascending up the hill. It reminded me of a more spaced out SF. Squish in about fifty more houses, and we’d feel right at home!

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And time for the blooms in the Rose Garden! They weren’t even “in season” and yet everything still was gorgeous!

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After touring the Gardens, we went to downtown Portland to explore the Pearl District- a cultured, artsy, and heavily foodie laden area!

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We grabbed some coffee at Caffe Umbria, then continued exploring. This little coffee shop was so doggone cute.

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One of the places I had been dying to see was Powell’s Books- the largest Used & New bookstore in the world.

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It was MASSIVE. I could have spent hours upon hours in there. Gosh, I loveddd it!

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After Powell’s we walked around a bit more then passed through Providence Park.

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I couldn’t believe how large and PACKED the stadium was.

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And again.. the art never ceased to amuse!

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Since we were in a place known for their Breweries, one of the bullet points on our list was a “good Brewery”….. good thing Jay is a local and doesn’t know just a good brewery, but the best brewery!

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Deshutes had a long wait in the middle of the afternoon— and reason being- it’s amazing.

We started with a pretzel and it was the single greatest soft pretzel maybe I’ve ever had (except I’m forever a sucker of Auntie Anne’s). But this is just different, ya know?

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And we tried some fantastic beers to go along with it. DJ and I aren’t big “beer” people, but when in Rome. With the pretzel and the atmosphere, it all was fun to sample and actually pick up on the different flavors.

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Jay took us to a “locals” spot up a mountain to get panoramic views of the city! I couldn’t capture them with my phone, but gosh, they were awesome. It reminded me of the Twin Peaks in SF.

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On this little stone structure there are plaques that whichever plaque you stand in front of, if you look into the distance, that is the exact mountain you are viewing. Pahrettty neat!

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Believe it or not… at this point in the afternoon we definitely had worked up a real appetite. We decided to have a “snack”… aka a large 3:00 pm afternoon meal that we are calling a snack because in lieu of how much we ate on this trip, it really was just a snack. We went to a food truck stop that had a food truck for absolutely anyone- Indian to Vegan to Mediterranean to American to Mexican cuisine to etc. etc.- EVERYTHING.

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A place on my list was Viking Soul Food. When researching must have food trucks, this was on the list! It is Scandinavian food, which I have never even heard of before.

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The main thing they are known for is their lefse which is a Norwegian style potato flatbread, handmade daily. It is like a crepe, yet more savory. Hellooooo deliciousnesss.

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I tried their “Ocean Booty” with shrimp, aioli, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and almonds wrapped in the lefse. It was delicious, and perfectly light for the afternoon.

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DJ and Jay decided to try Herb’s Mac & Cheese. Jay had their Pulled Pork and DJ had their jalapeno mac and cheese.

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I had a bite of this magic and goodness gracious- it was maybe some of the best macaroni I have ever tasted. My mouth is watering looking at this picture again!

img_4596Time for one of the biggest HIGHLIGHTS of the weekend!!!

After we came back, we had a couple hours before we had dinner (yes, dinner, yet another meal so soon) planned with Jay and his girlfriend. On a total whim, I messaged Rossy from ayrgalaxy to see if she was maybe able to meet up. She was able to stop by with her husband Alex and her adorable, seriously cutest little man in the world, Ciel, to visit for a few minutes.

Y’all. Ok, where to begin? Rossy is the kindest, most down to earth, and beautiful person! Seriously- I know this will be hard to believe, but she is even more gorgeous in person! DJ and I had such a blast talking with her and Alex. They both are just the easiest people to talk to. Oh, and Ciel is just the most precious, gooodnesss gracious! Seeing Rossy interact with him and hold him gave me baby fever- she is such a good momma. I was so thankful they took the time out of their day (and go so out of their way) to stop by, it was the sweetest and seriously made the weekend.

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When walking with DJ to dinner after I kept saying, “Ugh! I wish we all lived closer so we could hangout more!”. But I am brainwashing them to visit SF for a double date, soooo stay tuned.

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We arrived at Masu sushi on foot after about only 10 minutes.

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Best. Sushi. Of. Our. Lives.

This is a must try if you go to Portland. Everything from the PERFECT ambiance, to the presentation of the food, to the TASTE (the most important).

Of course, I will simply adamantly suggest what to order so you have the most wonderful experience.

First, they bring you out complimentary edamame, sooooo yum!

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You have to start with the calamari. We savored every bit of the calamari. It isn’t the traditional fried calamari, but rather lightly breaded, but the calamari pieces are thick rather than stringy. The calamari was so juicy and without all the fried breading the flavor made quite the statement.

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Next, the Pearl with shrimp tempura, avocado, and crab topped with spicy tuna and sweet chili sauce is up. We also had a couple pieces of Kani Dungess crab to share.

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Next up was the Japanista– spicy crab, spicy tuna and kawaire with seared hamachi, cilantro and red jalapeno on top served with our hana and sweet chili sauce. YUM.

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And the best of all- St. Helen’s Volcano– whitefish, crab, scallops, shrimp and avocado baked with our volcano cream sauce, eel sauce and smoked bonito. It was flame. Literally.

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Jay, DJ, and I had been talking earlier that day about how we’d never been to Melting Pot. Jay surprised us by taking us here for dessert.

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The guys split a dish, and the gals split a dish. Y’all. How have I never had this magic before?!? My sweet tooth was terribly satisfied, and yet- I felt like I could have polished off a whole other plate. It was too dang good- the oreo crusted marshmallow and the brownies were my favorite.

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We parted ways with Jay and Carly (Jay’s girlfriend) after, excited to meet up again the next day. DJ and I headed to Departure, one of the restaurants in our hotel. We soaked up the views and just enjoyed one another’s company for a few minutes. It actually reminded us quite a bit of San Diego. We didn’t last long after getting up so early, so we headed to sleep fairly quickly.

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This was an unforgettable day. All the fun with great friends and great food- two of lives true treasures. Believe it or not there will be a part Three… one day probably next week, Haha. Y’all know I suck at blogging in a timely manner. Too late for new years resolutions (maybe I’ll just call it an early resolution and say I’m ahead of the game 😉 )?

Also- if you’ve ever been to Portland I’d love to hear your suggestions, favorite memories, anything at all!

xo <3

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Lobbies & Robbers & Bearnaise, OH MY!

Happy happy Thursday to yas! I’m currently sitting outside in my little basket, drinking an avocado smoothie & eating protein choc. chip cookies while watching the sun come up over the mountains. I am utterly content on the heels of having two incredibly hard days in the hospital. I received a couple of timely texts from DJ’s family that meant the world and gave me the boost I needed to make it through. I am so doggone blessed to be able to call DJ’s family my own. And now I am pumppped to share this past weekend with ya’ll!

So, DJ and I are celebrating our anniversary in about a week here, but this past weekend was the only one that lined up for us to celebrate! We kind of considered Tahoe our anniversary trip, so we decided to do something more local in SF- a staycation if you will!

We staycayed at the JW Marriott hotel in SF. The lobby’s interior was gorgeous!

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We like to try out different hotels because each one brings a different experience. Even though this hotel had the best amenities (great fitness room, awesome food pantry, bathroom, etc.), DJ and I agree Le Meridian and the Fairmont surpassed this one by far at a similar price (although we did grab those two on Groupon!). SO if you are looking at staying in SF, consider those two options before JW Marriott. Our fridge was missing & a light was out. Plus the overall aesthetic and experience was better at the other two!

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For dinner we walked to Alfred’s, just about a mile from Union Square.

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Holy maloly- this place was the bomb dot com. Open since 1928, the moment you step in, the giant chandeliers put off an old fashioned, classy ambiance that throws you back in time. The hostess and servers were so friendly. The food- man, oh man, the food was too good! They are also famous for their cocktails.

They served the the butter in the shape of a flower- now that’s a fancy first! I have never seen this done before, but I am convinced the butter was extra tasty!

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We started with their shrimp cocktail and tater tots. These were the fanciest gosh darn tots we have ever had with creme fraiche & smoked trout roe. I do think the appetizers were overpriced, but all in the name of a fantastic experience, right?! I say the tots were good- but the shrimp cocktail is where it was at! If we go back I would love to try the smoked black cod!

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Our main courses were absolutely exquisite. I told DJ this may have been one of my favorite fish dishes. (I feel like I always say this, but honestly- this was out of this world!) I had the Petrale Sole with a lemon caper butter sauce. It reminded me of a lemon picatta chicken my mom used to make for us growing up. It was perfection. Mouth watering perfection.

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DJ ordered their filet with baernaise sauce. I tried the sauce and it was heavenly.

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I think our favorite part of the meal (or close second, because the fish may have been my fave) was the creamed spinach. It was maybe the best we have had. It came with bacon bits on top, but it was easy for me to just eat around them. The panko breadcumbs on top mixed with the perfect amount of savory and herb created a flavorous explosion that is hard to even describe. If you are in SF, stopping by Alfred’s for their creamed spinach alone is a must.

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It was a perfect anniversary dinner!

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As we were walking back to the hotel we saw the craziest thing. There was robbery (orchestrated by a couple) who ran into one of the shoe stores lining the road near Union Square. We heard the yelling and when we turned the corner we saw shoes & boxes flying everywhere and the woman and man arguing aggressively with the store owner…. things started getting physical. The owner was chasing the woman, and the man of the two was quickly to the defense. They were essentially in the middle of the road, but closer to the side that we had to walk. Along with a few other cautious people, we walked toward the scene hoping we could get past without any issues. As we got within about fifteen feet we saw the man of the pair reach behind him into his backpack. DJ and I immediately turned around and sprinted back toward the other side. He easily could have been reaching for a gun, and we weren’t in the mood to be in the center of a downtown SF shooting. We ran back toward the corner and decided to cross the road and take the scenic route back. The guy didn’t pull out a gun, it was a pole of sorts (not sure what exactly), but he started chasing the owner with it. Finally we heard the police sirens and kept trying to peep from other side of the street to watch the action. Sociology at it’s best. #bystandereffect #citylife

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The whole experience really worked up a sweet tooth for the two of us. We decided to grab dessert at none other than our faveeeeee…… you can probably guess- CHEESECAKE FACTORYYYY!!!!!

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It was a bit of a wait, but well worth it. I am a firm believer of not going to chains when in a big city with unique options- but I might break the rules sometime for this one. The restaurant is located on top of the Macy’s tower with tables overlooking Union Square. We peaked out while waiting for our cheesecake and the view was tremendous. Plus, cheesecake factory. Ugh, too stinking good.

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On the way out DJ said to me as we passed the whole crowd waiting in line, “Too bad they ran out of cheesecake” and some guy overheard saying “Oh man!!!!!”. It was too funny, but I really hope this didn’t stop the guy from getting his cheesecake!

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We went back to the hotel and nommmed down on our Cheesecake (Oreo Dream Xtreme for DJ and White Chocolate Raspberry for me (and maybe watched a bit of Game of Thrones on my little iphone screen because we were both hard core craving it). Guys, this show though…

In the morning I ran a few miles and then we walked to Dottie’s True Blue Cafe, a famous breakfast spot in SF.

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The line was insaneee. I think we waited about an hour and a half before finally getting in.

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It is pretty small, not a lot of tables, and the service is super slow. If you go here the things to order are their baked pastries. We ordered full meals and they were ok, but crazy overpriced. We would have much preferred Sweet Maple any day. BUT their baked goods looked absolutely incredible, and the coffee was delishhh.

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DJ had their pancakes- he said they were aighhht, just not the best.

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I had an egg white omelette with lots of veggies and feta cheese. It was great- tasty as it comes, but it was the most expensive omelette I have EVER had. I do have to say, the jalapeno cornbread with pepper jelly was the highlight. I think I could have just ate that alone. I didn’t leave a crumb on my plate of that little guy. If you do find yourself at Dottie’s, it’s a must!

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Overall, it was a good meal, but Sweet Maple STILL takes the cake as the best breakfast/brunch spot in SF for us. We have yet to try Mama’s (which is supposed to be epic).

After breakfast, we shopped around Union Square for a bit!

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DJ suggested we go to Baker’s Beach (He always has the best ideas). We have actually not been to this beach since moving here. We were both craving Big Sur or Monterey for our getaway, and this helped us give a bit of a fix.

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We just hung out, climbing on the cliffs, sitting in the cool breeze, gazing upon the Golden Gate and serene bay and talked about everything. There are so many questions, and confusion, about what our next step in life is… about where we would want to move next, about what we still want to accomplish and experience while we are here, about the emotional rollercoaster we both have been on in the past year. We talked about how this is just a season- that we won’t always be seeing each other for a total of thirty minutes each week. But how long will this season last? I think we are both realizing as young twenty-somethings that life is not a clear linear path and rarely do plans actually happen as planned. I’m just thankful we have this journey to figure it out together. This was time we both needed, and I was so very thankful for it.

Hope you all had the best weekends!

Blog Birthdays:

Shooot, I am so late to these but a BIG, MASSIVE, happy birthday to

Samantha @ artofbeingfabulous on July 29th. Sam is nothing short of inspirational. I mean her blog name basically says it all: she has perfected the art of being fabulous! She has the best travel tips, recipes, fashion advice, and tons of great tips for overall well being. In a nutshell, her blog has everything you could need. So thankful for you and your sweet comments always, Samantha! BIG happy birthday to you, dear!

Heather @ Polyglotjot on July 30th. Guys! She is one of the very first bloggers I followed-  she shares everything from WIAW posts to life updates to her whole pregnancy, to amazing recipes and everything in between. Each post is AWESOME & leaves you mighty hungry! She is also just so genuine, and has became a dear friend. Happy birthday, Heather! I so love all our conversations <3

xo <3

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