Hanging on by a Med

GOOOOD MORNING!!! 

Pull up a chair, let’s have a quick chat over some morning toast and coffee!

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Yes, yes- quite different from my strawberries and cream toast I have each morning. Instead of strawberries I used bananas since I was having calf cramps last night and added Evoke muesli for a little crunchy pizzzazzz.

Currently, I am sitting at a Starbucks before work trying to finish up this post (it’s a classroom day so I slept in until 5:30!). Unfortunately, I had to betray Peet’s because it’s further than the Bucks. Buttt you all know where my loyalty resides.

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I also cracked up how they spelled my name. He didn’t even attempt the ending. He just gave up. LOL

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Also…… Sprouts has another bag….

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I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. What do you guys think? DJ says I have far too many grocery bags already…. but…….. I don’t have THIS bag. Help me justify it, please!

So let’s see…. last week I worked Wednesday- Sunday every day. It was the first time I worked all through the weekend and it was a bit trippy! (When I was off Mon/Tues, everyone else was heading back to work!).

DJ had off and spent time with his family over the weekend. I’m so glad he had that time but also quite jealous- I miss everyone so much!! Thursday was technically “off” and since I was not required to actually go to the hospital, I stayed cozied up in my home and got a ton of studying done for EKGs (with the occasion Fine Cooking skimmin’ break- gotta whet those cooking ideas!).

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I do have to mention Saturday though- I had a legitimate anxiety attack at work. I have only had maybe three full on attacks in my life- and this was one of the worst. It was around 1:30 in the afternoon and I hadn’t had a chance to take my lunch, so I bet low blood sugar catapulted the issue. I think it was just a rough moment too.. I am thoroughly convinced this is the most difficult/stressful time of my life, perhaps ever, but the support is phenomenal so I know (I hope) I can make it through. Some people drop out of the program at the six month program- I am just praying I make it through. I will give it my all. God wouldn’t call me here if he didn’t have plans.

Also- although It was a rough day, but the next day was 100% better. I’m finding that for every bad day there will be a good day. My preceptor told me I am right where I need to be- I am just unfairly hard on myself and I don’t forgive myself very easily (even for the smallest mistakes). This whole journey is bringing some serious self-reflection to the surface. I come home, even from good days, and the wheels just turn, turn, turn. I can’t turn my mind off. I wake up in hot sweats and start thinking about things I may have forgot to chart, conversations, teaching I may have accidentally omitted, etc. I have a system that works, and my to-do lists, but as a new grad, it’s hard to cover every single base (hence the preceptorship). I’ll be find one moment and then my heart is racing over these thoughts that creep up. I feel better once I’m in the hospital though… it’s the down time- I drive myself nuts!

But in those moments I try to celebrate the small victories: The family who thanked me, the patient who told me I was their favorite nurse (seriously melted my heart), advocating for my patient and the doctor taking my thoughts into account, becoming more comfortable with my skills….. there are victories and rather than focusing so much on my mistakes and failures, I have to choose to celebrate the victories.

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I pray, I breathe, I am reminded that this is normal.

I actually didn’t intend to share that. But sometimes ya just start writing and things come out!

Anywho, this week was a tapering week for running, so I had some nice, easy leisure runs outside. When I get stressed out I like to run, run, run……hence, tapering this week was hard for me!!! I was craving long runs- but had to limit myself. However, the weather was GORGEOUS, and those short spurts outside helped elevate my spirits for sure!

img_4069-1img_4076-1img_4075-1img_4061-1DJ and I both had Monday off. I studied most of the day and DJ caught up on some MUCH needed sleep. We deemed Monday night a date night! I was craving sushi- needing some serious comfort food!

We decided to try Pacific Catch in Campbell.

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^^ I love incorporating parts of my “business casual” shopping into my everyday outfits, like these heels!

When we sat down, our waitress was a doll and brought us out samples of Hawaiian Poke! I don’t think I’ve ever had poke, but it was very tasty!

DJ ordered their fish tacos and said they were pretty decent!

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I tried their inside out roll (spicy tuna over California roll). It was ok- it was fine enough, but there is WAY better sushi in other places in the area. But overall, it was a fun place and still a tasty experience.

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I also loved how themed-out the restaurant was. They had these “sea glass” bottles as water serving bottles—–it was funny though because DJ and I thought everyone was drinking Grey Goose vodka when we walked in, lol.

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They even used the bottles as hanging light fixtures!

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We then went to Santana Row, walked around a while, and then stopped by Safeway for the necessities for a good, chill date night! (Ice cream was already at home, of course ;)). Also- this wine was on sale and I’ve never tried it before. It’s called BV Coastal Estates and man oh man- it is good!

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I was feeling pretty stressed out on Tuesday. I went for a run in the morning and DJ said he was craving some good pancakes. After some research, he found that Uncle-John’s Pancake House in Campbell was supposed to be some of the best! We decided to give it a go!

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We both LOVED the whole ambiance- very 50/60s diner-esque feel (which makes sense considering they started the restaurant chain in 1958!!!!). I’m sure it’s been renovated since- it was pristinely clean and the staff were jovial and welcoming!

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Their coffee was the BOMB!

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I ordered their egg white veggie omelette (yum!), and DJ, of course, ordered their pancakes with a side of eggs and bacon.

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The verdict: Very good pancakes, but not the best. Now, if you like somewhat fluffier pancakes, you would love them! DJ loves the thin with the crispy buttery-caramelized outside. (He claims The Bellagio in Las Vegas are setting the standard).

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The rest of the day I studied my EKGs and prepped for the rest of the meals for the week. From monopoly, I had $2.00 off a large deli roasted chicken, so I grabbed that for DJ. I also made some calrose rice, broccoli, and bread that he could throw onto a plate in the evenings (if he was back for dinner). I stocked up on sweet potato and salad ingredients, as well as this cauliflower lemon piccata which I have been craving lately! It has cauliflower steak, capers, shallots, lemon juice, and is cooked in white wine. I add a bit of basil on top because I think it complements the lemon well!

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The last two nights DJ was home earlier than expected! I was super happy I could get a hug in before hitting the hay.

Wednesday until now has been a non-stop whirlwind. BUT tonight my mom flies in TONIGHT for the marathon on Sunday! WOOHOO!!!!! I can hardly wait.

Oh and below is a snap shot of a breath-taking view I had on the way to work. It’s hard getting up at 4 or 5 almost everyday, but the fact that the sun is coming up earlier and setting later has been helping immensely!

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Blog Birthdays: 

Happy Birthday to Sijo from Sijo Punathil Photography on April 30th!

He has some of the most enthralling, captivating photography I have ever seen (I hyperlinked one of my favorites above!). I hope your birthday is spectacular, Sijo!

Hope everyone has the best weekend…. and before I go I just must remind you…..

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If you don’t get the reference, I’m probably too old.

xo ❤

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

Happy Mondayyyyy!!!!!!!

Maybe your Monday has been like this….

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Or, perhaps, like this…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FRIYAY= ST. PATTYS DAY!

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

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

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

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

I’m coming for ya Ancestry.com

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

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

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

Where better to go than Historic Murphy Avenue in Sunnyvale?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog Birthdays!

Lathi at CookwithSmile on Thursday March 23rd

Myra at The Cooking Spoon on Monday March 26th

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

xo ❤

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Adventures of a Weekend; Memories of a Lifetime

I truly do not even know where to begin!!!! Since Thursday, there have been memories made that I will treasure for my entire life. So, without further adieu, welcome to one of the greatest weekends for the books!

It all began Thursday morning. I woke up bright and early and zipped to SF to meet one amazing individual….

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….KM from Ankhor You! I can’t tell you how surreal it was to meet this beautiful lady in person!!! She is such a gem, and truly the energy, love, and kindness that she shares through her blog she radiates in person equally. This is the first time I’ve met someone that I initially met through blogging, and I can’t stop talking about how nice it was to sit down and have a cup of coffee with her! (And of course, we met at Peet’s 😉 ).

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I also had the pleasure of meeting her lovely friend, Sarah! Ugh I wish we all lived closer so we could hangout!

Please come back soon, dear. SF loved having you guys here!  It was SUCH a joy to spend time with these two- have I made that clear?! Ok- good! I’m just glad I didn’t scare them away! Hahah.

JJ- we’re coming for you next!

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The rest of Thursday I went grocery shopping, cleaned a bit, finished up laundry, and napped (GASP!!!).

Friday, DJ’s mom (whom I’ll call Mom L for the purpose of the blog), and Gordie (Step dad!) flew into SF! They arrived at our place around 11:30 in the morning. I was giddy all morning to see them. It felt far too long since Christmas!

I have been ecstatic to show them around our stomping grounds. The last time they were here was to move us in- a time reminiscent of a giant Uhaul, an empty apartment complex, and zero food in the fridge.

BUT this time, I was able to show them the transformation of the empty walls into a livable home, and we all shared some good snacks to tide us over until dinner that night!

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You can never go wrong with cheese and crackers, can I get an AMEN?!

DJ came home from work early at about 2:00, and I had to go back to the dentist to get my final cap put on my “yellow tooth” at 2:30 (hallelujah that is over with)! Also— you know I can’t go on without pointing out the irony that I went to the dentist at 2:30—- GET IT?!

For the weekend, they said they wanted to experience all our favorite restaurants/spots since we have been here. Mom L is a loyal follower of the blog, so she knew I would have great foodie spots for us to go to 😉

Orchard City Kitchen was our first on the list!

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The first time we went here was in September of last year with a friend of DJ’s. It quickly made it’s way to the top of our favorites due to it’s rustic yet modern ambiance, it’s unique menu, and of course, it’s phenomenal food!!! The way this works is you order about four of five small dishes and share them with the table. Each bite is jam packed with flavors unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

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We started with their famous triple B (biscuits, bacon, and honey butter). I don’t know what it is about this, but it’s the kind of thing that just sticks in your memory (PUN INTENDED). The biscuits were perfection, the butter was some of the best honey butter EVER, and the bacon (I observed) was tremendous. This little dish was talked about almost every day after for the rest of the weekend.

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Next we tried the lobster dumplings. These had karashi su miso, black vinegar, fennel, and kizami nori… yeah yeah none of us really know what any of that is- but we do know they were a winner!

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Next was the rainbow cauliflower salad. This had ricotta-yogurt, beets, radish, romanesco, and curried tenkasu. It was decent, but in light of everything else at the table, it may have been a bit underwhelming. Although, I will say the mix of the ricotta yogurt and curried tenkasu was a wonderful combination! The spices of the tenkasu and the coolness of the yogurt was the perfect balance.

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Ready for your mouth to really start watering? This is the spaghetti & calamari dish with bolognese, fried calamari, and parm. I tried a small bite of the calamari and the spaghetti- Wowzers Mctrowsers. So yum.

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We also tried the adobo pork shanks. This was accompanied by pickled green papaya relish, li hing mui, puffed rice, and cilantro. I did not try the pork- but everyone seemed to love it. I can attest, however, that the accompanying salad was mangifico.

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The last thing we tried was the torn salmon with charred avocado, cucumber, kumquats, black pepper sauce, and tzatziki. This was terrific! Quite possibly some of the greatest salmon I have ever tasted.

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We came home and watched some of the OJ Simpson documentary on Hulu while our food digested. It’s long, but captivating beginning to end. Anyone seen it?!

Once we had a bit more room, we headed to …. *drumroll*.. CREAM! (They said they wanted to sample the best, so no judging for us being here twice in less than a week 😉 ).

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And just to prove to you all how cool my in-laws are, guess what they ordered?! The formidable Sundae of Champions!!!!

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SO proud ❤

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DJ ordered an ice cream sandwich, so I nibbled a bit on his.

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My phone went ballistic when we got home and wouldn’t turn back on. Especially with this new job starting I tossed and turned all night worrying about my phone.

On Saturday morning, I went for a nice long run to work out the nerves. DJ had to work for a few hours, and Mom L recommended that we could go in and get a new phone. I didn’t want them to have to go to the store with me on their time here, but they were incredibly gracious standing with me as I figured out the new phone situation. It all was for the best because it allowed me to grab some crisp photos for the rest of the weekend!

After working up an appetite figuring out the new phone, we headed to Bill’s Cafe! (This one probably looks super familiar as well). I knew this place would not disappoint. DJ finished up his morning shift and met us just in time to order!

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We started with yummy coffee and Bill’s Famous Mimosas!

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Mom L ordered their Bread Pudding French Toast. This is their famous bread pudding baked with walnuts and raisins, dipped in a rich batter and grilled to perfection, topped with fried banana and a special bread pudding sauce. They have a disclaimer next to it- “Only served at Bill’s”. Mom L raved about how good it was, and when I took a bite, I understood why. Ohhhhhh my lanta. Even if they do serve bread pudding elsewhere, this one, I guarantee, is the best.

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Gordie ordered their Parisienne French toast which was a croissant baked fresh daily in their oven, dipped in egg batter and grilled, sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. (This is what Danielle ordered when I went with her after the hike!). I raved about it in the last post! Gordie concurred that it was rave-worthy and worth the hype.

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DJ ordered their chocolate chip pancakes! Cannot go wrong with a classic!

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I ordered their French Garden Omelette again with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and avocado. I usually try to order different items each time I go to a restaurant, but I couldn’t resist. It was just too delish last time and it was hitting my “crave” buttons. I ordered the dish with egg whites this time and they were just as tasty as the regular eggs from last time. I also tried the potatoes, and although I loved their hash-browns, these potatoes were on a different level!!!

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After our beyond satisfying breakfast we made the gorgeous drive down the 280 into SF. (In California highways are referred to as “The”, which I’m having a hard time adapting, but I’m giving it my darndest!).

Once we found parking (which is always a feat), we headed to the Ferry building. I was showing Mom L the different shops and pointed out the Peet’s where I met KM. Two seconds later guess who I spotted?!

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Her and Sarah! SO crazy! It was a wonderful unexpected treat to see these two beauties again! They were about to travel home for the evening, but I was glad they had such a great time in the city. Naturally, K and I grabbed one more picture together for the road. I cannot wait to read her posts!

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While walking around, we couldn’t believe the weather was actually this perfect. It’s been a record breaking rainy season, so we just kept saying Mom and Gordie brought the good weather with them and would have to move here so it stayed this nice!

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We enjoyed the brilliant sunshine and energy that it brought out to the pier. Everyone seemed to be in a fabulous mood, and the pier was filled with artists, musicians, painters, and street vendors who filled the roads with creativity and scents of delicious wafting food.

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And of course we had to peruze the notable Pier 39.

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DJ’ favorite part of the pier is viewing the sea lions. They are hilarious to watch. Free entertainment right there!

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Ok- are these two not the cutest ever?! Ah, I just love em’.

For the evening, DJ suggested we do a twilight cruise! It’s impossible to pick a favorite part of the weekend- but this cruise was undeniably a glowing highlight!

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Our photogenic little bird friend

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Selfie with the photogenic little bird friend

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The views from this cruise coupled with the stupendous day created an experience nothing short of magical. We passed under the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, AT & T park, and The Bay Bridge!

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I love these pictures below so much 😂 if you can’t tell it was a bit windy!

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Once we watched the sunset, we headed down to the main floor to grab hor dourves and drinks. They had us under the impression that light snacks were being served- but we easily made a scrumptious dinner of their fruit and cheese board, hummus, crackers, sandwiches, spinach pastries, and wraps.

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The view of the city transformed from a glowing reflection of the oranges and reds of the sun into twinkling lights of the skyline. The Bay Bridge lit up and majestically provided a gleaming point of reference as we sailed on the moonlit Pacific water.

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After the cruise and discussing how this would be a night to remember forever, we braved our way through the cold (50s) to Ghiradelli square. You could follow the scent of chocolate (and use your GPS just a little) and find your way!

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After peaking around the plethora of cutesy shops and boutiques, we somehow found ourselves in line for their World Famous Hot Fudge sundae. Imagine that! 😉

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The picture I think speaks for itself. If you are a hot fudge sundae fan, add this to your food bucket list!

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We ubered back to where we parked and all slept like babies that evening.

Sunday morning we went to Church all together. DJ and I were thrilled that we could share our church with them. It’s a huge part of our lives living out here and it was a blast introducing them to all our friends, worship beside them, and discuss the message afterwards. When we would all go to church together in Ohio we would usually get brunch out or at home after and have great conversation over what we all gleaned from the preaching. It felt so good to do that again, only this time on the other side of the country!

This brunch included none other than Los Gatos cafe! Home of the epic, mammoth, insanely delicious cinnamon roll!

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This place has an extensive Benedict’s menu. Mom L and I each ordered one, and the guys ordered crepes!

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Poached eggs FTW!

After another memorable foodie experience we made our way down Palm drive to Stanford University. We showed them around the gorgeous campus, stopped in the bookstore, and then zoomed past the building I’ll be working in a nurse nearby. It made me feel better to see the actual place- it’s less intimidating when you can tangibly see something and it’s not some vague idea in your mind! (Vague ideas and unknowns become monsters very quickly in my mind when they aren’t put in their place!).

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The last time we were at Stanford’s campus like that was with my Aunt and Uncle– made me miss them lots!!

Anyway, as though this day wasn’t fun filled enough, we had one of the greatest adventures to come right around the corner.

Back in October when I was looking up Halloween festivities, GrandView restaurant  on Mt. Hamilton came up as a haunted place. (I don’t actually believe it’s haunted- just all to be festive)!

It ended up being one of our all time favorite dinners and memories. This is a hidden gem that I tell everyone they must experience at least once if they come out here!

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We came right on time to witness a spectacular sunset.

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One of my prayers is to look half as good as my momma-in-law when I’m her age!

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I also played with my camera a ton while being here!

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We were then seated for dinner. We had the most fabulous shrimp cocktail, a refreshing caprese salad, lobster carbonara for Mom L and Gordie, crab stuffed salmon for myself, and a pasta dish for DJ. Us girls were given the “good view” side of the table overlooking the Silicon Valley. The waiter said it was because the guys already had a good view 😉

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We finished off this unbelievably savory meal with a slice of cheesecake to share. I loved the addition of the dark chocolate chips on top! It complemented the sweetness of the cheesecake perfectly.

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We snaked down the long mountain and hit the hay. The next morning they headed back to Ohio ): I’m thankful for these memories created in such a short span of time that will last a lifetime.

Love you Mom and Gordie and so thankful for you!

Monday night DJ and I watched bachelor and gawked at the awkwardness that occurred on after the final rose. Anyone watch?! OH my goodness- poor Rachel.. she handled it like a champ though (the whole meeting the men early situation).

The rest of this week I am gearing up to start my new job Monday!!!  I could use prayers- the nerves are real! I can’t wait to give you all and update on how orientation goes. Thank you always for your love and support.

xo ❤

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Los Angeles- WEHO Part Two

I thought my traveling/exploring was done for the year, and yet I have one of my ALL-TIME favorite ever travel posts to share with you! This reminds me you just never know what adventure lies around the corner. The first part was a joy to write, but I’m especially excited to share part two!!! (You can check out that first part here).

Sunday morning, I woke up and went for another nine-miler. I turned up my worship music and listened to it the entire time I ran. My favorite worship song is “In Christ Alone”. What’s your favorite? We wanted to try out a church in the area like Hillsong or C3 LA, but with the driving/activity we had planned for the day it would have been hard to do it all. Next time for sure!!!

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We had been looking forward all weekend to trying out Jessica Biel’s restaurant Au Fudge. This is designed for couples/parents with kids, but we couldn’t resist. Everything about it screamed “Basic girl’s paradise”.

Basically how it works- you can choose to drop your kids off for the duration of your meal and au pairs watch them in the cutest little daycare center. They have tons of activities year round and if you want to dine with your kiddos, there is a precious list of delicious choices for them too. The menu options  for adults (especially the drinks) are hilariously witty & cute. Go check out that link above to see their adorable list of momma friendly options!

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The food was fabulous as well. And incredibly photogenic!

  • Bacon Breakfast Sandwhich: Cheddar, avocado, rosemary digonaise, fried egg, brioche bun served with breakfast potatoes & melon
  • Chicken and Waffles: Buttermilk Waffles & Crispy fried chicken nuggets, spicy maple syrup
  • Vegan Hash: Potatoes, spinach, avocado, & fennel “sausage”

For drinks: Dani tried their bloody mary, I tried the grapefruit mimosa and coffee, and Tammy and Dani tried their green tea matcha latte!

For dessert: We couldn’t resist the vanilla birthday cake milkshake. Tell me that is not just the most darling dessert you have ever seen! They even gave us a couple pieces of complimentary fudge after which I found to be the sweetest thing ever (PUN TOTALLY INTENDED!).

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After Brunch, Tammy took us to Runyon Canyon Park. This is where a lot of celebs will go hiking. See, this is why it’s great to go with someone who knows the area, because I would have never known this place even existed!!!!

* We didn’t actually spot anyone, but we speculated those covered with scarves, hats, and sunglasses on a cloudy day were probably “someone”.

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It was an AWESOME hike. The views of LA were insane. The clearness of the skyline was apparently a rare sight. Even though we were a bit unlucky with the rain, it meant we were able to see this beautiful overlook! But HINT: go to the bathroom before because there are not many options (meaning none) on the hike. I was doing the potty dance the whole way down the mountain.

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The pups we saw were SO. CUTE. I had serious puppy fever after the hike. I’m pretty sure Tammy was considering kidnapping a french bulldog at one point too 😜hahaha.

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After our hike, we went back to the Air bnb and got ready for the rest of the day. I am a neat freak right before I go to bed (like all dishes must be done, all rooms must be clean and picked up), but throughout the day the rooms in our home look like this- especially the bedroom/closet/and bathroom. DJ says, “Tornado Mack went through” . Dani kindly snagged this picture for her snap story- HA. I swear it was clean 20 minutes before she took this!

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Once we were ready for the day we headed to Melrose Place!!! We saw Fred Segal’s (the original department store), and tons of other infamous shopping locations!

We had to stop in Magnolia Bakery, just because it’s too darn cute. Tammy grabbed an ice coffee while we were in there, and we just snagged a whole bunch of pictures! I hear their cupcakes are divine, and I’d love to try them sometime!

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And of course…. we couldn’t leave West Hollywood without getting pictures by these famous  walls…

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Or stopping in D A S H! (prices were not quite as bad as I had expected!!)

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It was a bit chilly and I was craving a coffee or a pick-me-up by this point in the afternoon. All the coffee shops were out the door so we stumbled across Alfred’s Tea. This is apparently a super famous place, but we just wanted some coffee or tea gosh darnit. It was a long line, but Tammy had stopped in another store and said to take our time getting something to drink. Dani had her first bubble tea and I tried the kamboucha! By the time I got up to the cash register, I was feeling the cold drink more than the hot. It was crowded in there!

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Such a sassy little tea shop!

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For dinner, we had reservations at PUMP (another of Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurants). We didn’t hit Villa Rosa- the third and last, but maybe next time! I can’t describe truly in words how spectacular PUMP was. I swear, it was easily the most stunningly decorated restaurant I have ever been to. Think- garden oasis, chandeliers, fairytale all wrapped up in one place. Plus, the menu wasn’t outrageously expensive. (Yes- expensive, but not like you would expect somewhere like this to cost!). The food was divine.

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AND GUESS WHO WE BUMPED INTO!?!?!? That’s right- Conrad Ricamora (Oliver from How to Get Away With Murder). I think I freaked out more about seeing him than the Bachelor contestants. Ok, it’s a toss up. But he was SO sweet about getting a picture with us. I always hate to be that person, but come on, CONRAD RICAMORA!

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For dinner, they start you off with artisan bread with salted butter and chives with olive pieces in the bread. I’m such a big olive fan, so anything with olives…send it my way! I think I ate half the bread myself (thanks for helping a little, Dani). Tammy- next time, I’m making you try it. 😜

ALSO… SALTED BUTTER! See! **If you didn’t hear my rant in a previous post, basically I think salting your bread and butter is the BEST and only way to eat it, and apparently Farallon and PUMP agree 😉

While waiting for our table, they offered us drinks from the bar, but I didn’t finish mine and had to resort back to good ole’ red wine. This place and the ambiance demanded it!

Tammy and I had the Tiger Prawn and Farro Salad. This included tiger prawns tossed with farro grains, baby arugula, dried fruits, scallions, cucumbers, micro cilantro, and candied pecans in a light lemon citronette. This may be one of my favorite meals I’ve ever had. I am definitely going to try to recreate it at home.

I also ordered a side of the wasabi cauliflower mashed potatoes. Not gonna brag, but I think the ones I make are a bit better 😎

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Dani tried the chicken milanese with lightly breaded chicken breast, pan-fried with fresh lemon, served with Lisa’s homemade potato salad with scallions and turkey bacon and a small arugula salad with pine nuts, tomatoes, and red onion.

I have to say- Lisa’s homemade potato salad may be the best potato salad I have ever had!😋

On Monday morning, I ran about six miles at 6:30 AM then we scrambled to get the air b n’ b clean before getting on the road. We stopped into Urth Caffe one last time to grab some quick on-the-go fuel.

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I tried their green tea matcha muffin  with their green tea match latte (JJ, I know you’re freaking out, girl- yes, it was the muffin was as good as it sounds!). Like I said in my last post, it would be DANGEROUS if this place was nearby. I would probably live here!

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At 9 am we were on the road and heading to Warner Bros. studio!

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Lucky for you, I’m going to take you on the tour with us! We were able to see the back and front set of the studio- and it was MAMMOTH! I had no idea this studio was so huge. You see the staircase at the very back of the alley? That’s where the famous spiderman kiss was filmed!

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Look familiar?? Luke’s Diner!

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How about this one? Miss Patty’s dance studio! 

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Mona’s House from Pretty Little Liars

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THE GILMORE GIRLS’ HOUSE!

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The famous Gazebo from Gilmore Girl’s is below too!

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This is the ladder autographed that Lady Gaga jumped off of from the Super Bowl this year!

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I loved seeing the Dexter chair and the Full House “house”. Although, we have the real painted ladies right here in SF!

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We were able to see where they stored all the bat mobiles!

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Dani and I did the green screen for Harry Potter and were incorporated into a video- it was so much fun and the nerd was just oozing out of us!

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Here is my imitation of Phoebe’s famous run right where she did it!

And our favorite- getting this picture on the Friend’s set ❤

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It was about a three hour tour, and so worth it. I can’t begin to even cover all the epic knowledge you learn about the pure magic of creating a movie/TV show. My mind was blown! Hands-down worth your time!

We were super hungry after but didn’t want to take too long to get lunch. Tammy found this darling cafe called Olive & Thyme, and we ordered food to go! Tammy said it may have been the best tuna sandwich of her life and the avocado toast with poached eggs that I had was absolutely superb. The coffee was not so great though. If you go, get a latte instead of just plain ole’ joe!

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On our way out we spotted Katie Holmes. We walked right by them and I took about a million photos secretly and to my elation (and surprise) a couple turned out!

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We then headed back, leaving behind the marvelous City of Angels, but taking some unforgettable memories home with us.

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We hit some horrible weather on the way home and it reminded me of gripping the steering wheel as I did so many times in Ohio. I was under the impression this didn’t happen in California? We looked on the news the next morning and the route we had taken home was impassable and entirely flooded. We got out of the thick of it just in time! (We also made it home for Bachelor just in time).

Truly I could not have asked for a better first experience of LA! I can’t wait to go back. Thanks for sharing in our adventure with us!!!

xo ❤

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Los Angeles- WEHO Part One

To say this past weekend was fun would be a tremendous understatement. It was truly one for the books, and I can’t wait until the chance to go back to LA! I went down with a couple girlfriends super last minute. DJ and I were planning on maybe going to Napa for President’s Day Weekend, but he had to work (or thought he would have to), so this trip worked out super well! He knew I had been dying to go to LA ever since we’ve moved out here and encouraged me to go especially before the job starts. I have never been (neither has one of my friends, Dani- dark hair). SO, Tammy (blonde hair), lived in the OC for a good part of her life and offered to show us around West Hollywood (WEHO). Best tour guide ever!!!!!!!!!

I definitely have to make this post into two parts (maybe even three), because there are SO many pictures and SO many good memories to share! I didn’t think I’d get a chance to blog this yet, but I came down with something bad last night and am stuck in bed. Hence, time to blog. Also- I think this is the fifth time I’ve gotten sick in three months. I’m guessing it’s just all the stress, little sleep, change in climate, and insane amount of activity going on!

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Anywho, on our way down Friday the weather was rough. We were getting texts from just about everyone we knew to be careful or to just turn around. BUT us girls are from the midwest (and Washington), so a little rain didn’t deter us.

When we were about an hour into the trip, my tire pressure light flashed on. Of course, because what is a road trip without a little needed car maintenance? We pulled off the next exit and gave the wheels some air. When Tammy was running back inside the gas station to return the tire pressure gauge, I spotted a flash of color out of the corner of my eye. I whipped the car away from view and Dani said, “What the heck are you doing?” I said, “I just saw a Peacock!!!”. She didn’t believe me for a second until the big feathery creature trotted on it’s way in our eye’s view. Sure enough, it was a peacock. So far I have seen wild zebras and peacocks in California, so I’m not sure what to expect next!

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When Tammy came out of the gas station she didn’t see us (we had drove around the corner to chase our pretty little friend). I said to Dani, “That’s okay, she’ll call us.” Then we both noticed her phone was still sitting in the passenger seat. We quickly drove back around and she was standing there with the most bewildered look on her face. We had some explaining to do, but we were both laughing so hard it was all we could do to spit out the word “peacock”.

In the evening we arrived at our Air B n’ B! I will say I was a touch skeptical about this service as I’ve never used it before, but it was AMAZING. We were located in the heart of Beverly Hills, walking distance from Rodeo Drive and within short miles from anywhere we wanted to go. The house itself was adorable, clean, and the hostess was easy to communicate with. She left us clear, amicable instructions about keys, the parking pass, and even said we could help ourselves to tangerines on her table. Hospitality is apparently not dead! This was a steal too. It was about $140 for the entire weekend per girl. (I know it’s taboo to talk prices, but I really wanted to emphasize how great this is!). If you have never used Air B n’ B, I highly recommend. But do a ton of research and look at MANY places to make sure you are getting the best/most safe/accessible place around! Traveling is becoming easier and cheaper by the day!
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For dinner we went to a place called Saddle Ranch Chop House. I tried to grab pictures, but it was quite dark inside and none of them were showing up. We had snacked a bit on the way and weren’t starving, so we spit their famous jalapeño mac and cheese and cotton candy.

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I rode their mechanical bull and since I didn’t fall off I was awarded a second gargantuan cotton candy. I don’t even like cotton candy, but how can you resist this?!

After, we headed to a place called Hyde Sunset Kitchen & Cocktails. Someone had recommended this place as we were on our way out as a good place to go to just hangout. Ready for the most epic part? Where are my bachelor fans at? We saw Chase McNary, Luke Pell, Jasmine G., Christian Bishop, Lace Morris, and ready for the kicker? Amanda and Josh- together. Yep we knew they were back together before TMZ! There were all these articles coming out Monday about them being seen Sunday night together. Haha- we were freaking out when we read this.

In the morning I woke up at 7:30 to go for a run. I got in about 9 miles just running around Rodeo Drive, different neighborhoods, and Winchester Blvd. I LOVED these morning runs, although I was going on little sleep every time I did one.

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Once we were ready for an epic Saturday, we headed to the legendary Urth Caffe. If this was close to me, it could be dangerous. They not only have the BEST matcha green tea lattes on planet earth, but their food is phenomenal.

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I ordered their salmon scramble which included toasted ancient sprout bread (YUM), roma tomatoes, and chives and then added capers and red onion with egg whites.

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Tammy ordered the rustic poached which included two poached eggs over toasted whole wheat bread garnished with capers, basil oil, heirloom tomato, and red onion. Isn’t it pretty?!

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Dani ordered the Mexican Omelet which included three organic eggs, roma tomatoes, green chilies, red onions, monterey jack cheese and cilantro, served with salsa. Unfortunately I didn’t get a pic of this for you to salivate with your eyes, but I’ll take her word for it and she said it was delish!

They serve their coffee in a BIG cup. Their coffee is super strong, as is their espresso. If you go here, get the matcha latte!

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After breakfast we walked around to check out all the shopping on Rodeo Drive! These stores astounded me. WOW- just the pure wealth is mind-blowing. We were wide-eyed at the price tags on everything 99% 100% of the time! We were waiting in line for the restroom somewhere and one woman said, “I love your shoes! Who are they?”to a girl standing next to me. Lol. “Who”. Glad she didn’t ask me because I’d be like, “Uh, my boy Target”.

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So the thing that sparked this trip initially was our bonding over Vanderpump Rules and Housewives of Beverly Hills. I’m honestly so embarrassed to admit that, but we all have our guilty pleasures, right?! Pure entertainment. I consider them more comedies than anything 😉

Anyway, stopping by and seeing Kyle’s store was essential for us. The clothes were crazy expensive like everything else, but ridiculously soft. I don’t know if I have ever felt such soft clothing in my life.

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Don’t mind us, we’re just casually drooling over these dresses.

There were also some gorgeous hotels we popped into to check out!
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After walking around there for a while we went to get the classic Hollywood sign landmark!!!! I was ecstatic when the renowned block letters came into view. I’m such a sucker for the touristy attractions.

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The Boomerangs were our favorite!

And, of course, we made our way to the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

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Our last stop was the Bel-Air House, but we needed some coffee from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to give us a pick-me-up. (Peet’s still takes the cake 😉 ).

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We then headed back to our Air BnB to get ready!

The excitement could not be contained. We were finally going to SUR!!!! If you watch the show, you know this is a huge deal. If you don’t, then just don’t mind me while I lose my cool a bit.

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When we arrived we didn’t have reservations, and there were only three tables that were “First come, first serve”. It looked like a group of married couples was about to leave, so we asked them if they were. They said they might leave soon, but weren’t committing. However, they said we could sit with them if we wanted to to order food! It was incredibly kind of them to offer. We finally were able to get some grub- we were STARVING.

We all agreed we had to try the famous goat cheese balls. I’ve got to say, they were even better than I had anticipated. If you are ever in WEHO, you MUST stop in SUR for an order of goat cheese balls. We also tried the ahi tuna and Dani & Tammy tried the sliders. It was all insanely delicious.

Now, I know many of you are wondering, “Well did you see any of them (the cast)?”. The answer is a big ole’ YES! We didn’t see many waiters or waitresses, but we saw Peter, Ken, Lisa, and Giggy! We were all fan-girling so hard.

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Here is Lisa walking out of SUR…


WEHO is popping in the evening. We walked around the strip, stopped in a few different places, and then were hungry once again since we hadn’t had a huge dinner. We stopped by Mel’s Drive In for one of the best veggie burgers/milkshakes/and sweet potato fry meals before heading home! I had wanted to try Mel’s for a while, and it certainly lived up to the hype. I can’t wait to take DJ there.

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^This picture above was taken at Mel’s and was basically me the entire trip- on the lookout for celebs.

I am going to work on part 2 tomorrow! There is way more to come, way more celebrity sightings, and wayyyy more fun to record! See you then!

Blog Birthdays:

Susie @ SusieOpinions on February 14th- I’m so sorry I’m so late, but I hope your birthday was absolutely spectacular!!

xo ❤

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Fort Worth, TX Recap!

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

Thursday (12/15)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday (12/20)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday (12/21)

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

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Followed by shenanigans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In the afternoon I ran a couple errands with Mama Jill

You know you are in Texas when…

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That afternoon we had apps round two!

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

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We also had stuffed vegan acorn squash with fresh cranberries!

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My mom also made regular meatballs for Pete

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Isn’t she darling?!

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a very Happy New Year,

xo ❤

Mack

SURPRISE: San Antonio, TX!

HOLAAAAA!!!!! To say I’m ecstatic to share this post would be an understatement. I arrived in Texas late Thursday night, so I will share the very beginning of those festivities in my next update post. BUT for now- guess what we have?!?!?…. A TRAVEL post!!! And the best part was how unexpected this one was!

On the Thursday that I arrived, my mom handed my sister and I each envelopes with the CUTEST notes inside….

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My sister is fluent in Spanish, has lived in Dominican Republic and Honduras for brief periods of time, and has been dying to use her Spanish lately, so she was beyond excited about this “hispanic adventure”. 🙂

My mom also knows how much I love blogging about our travels, and so she thought it would be a fun place to go to take lots of pictures, experience authentic culture and cuisine, and make some amazing family memories.

DJ had to stay in Cali for work, and my stepdad (Pete) insisted that we make this a girl’s trip… hence, we had the most epic girl’s trip to San Antonio for a literal 36 hours. We left at 7:30 am Saturday and returned 7:30 pm Sunday, on the nose.

Also fun fact: the last time I was in San Antonio was with my mom and dad when I was 23 months old. Now here I am, almost 23, going back to San Antonio on the exact same weekend I did all those years ago ❤

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As soon as we arrived, we took our bags up to our hotel room and hit the gym for a 30 min. run to get our energy levels up after the 4.5 hours of driving. It was exactly what we needed. The sun was just beginning to peak out too when we stepped outside, so it was perfect timing.

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We walked by the river walk, but didn’t yet explore because we had other things on our minds……. FOOD.

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My mom insisted that we eat at a restaurant in the Historic Market Square. This place is just one giant festival. The colors and decorations are multitudinous and vibrant, a nice change from the neutral tones of the Bay Area. Patrons and restaurant employees line the bricked walkway in los charros and las china poblanas (traditional hispanic garb). The atmosphere was contagiously upbeat, and the smells of food lingered through the air, enticing each passerby to consider stopping in to sample their own claim to fame.

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Mi Tierra is where my mom insisted we indulge. She never leads astray when it comes to good comida, so Halston (my sister) and I happily obliged.

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We put our names in and were told there would be about a 45 minute wait. Ya’ll think I can get hangry? You haven’t met mi hermana. She can be a wildebeast when she needs food. Sorry, Hal, it’s the truth. So 45 minutes just sounded a tad too long for us to twiddle our thumbs. Rather, we decided to go to the bar and order some drinks and apps to tide us over. Luckily we snatched the last few seats next to some locals wearing Mexican palm cowboy hats.

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Frozen margaritas for me and mother bear for starters

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I’m not the biggest fan of them, but when in Rome (Aka when in San Antonio). This one was delicious and accompanied the food super well. My favorite is the salt around the rim and I do prefer them frozen better, I must say.

& Virgin pina colada for baby sister bear. 

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We decided to split their special shrimp cocktail which uses jumbo shrimp, cocktail sauce, avocado, cilantro, and a bit of something magical to create the perfect combination. I wish so badly you could have tried this, Deej, because it was RIGHT up your alley!!!!

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And naturally- we had to taste test the salsa, avocado, and chips. My mom makes some out-of-this-world homemade guac, so that’s always the degree of comparison when we try other places’ recipes. The smoky flavored salsa was fantastic, chips were great, and the guac… on.point. No worries, Momma Jill’s still takes the lead.

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We didn’t leave a morsel of food behind… and then our buzzer paged notifying us that we had a table available. Oh shoot, we were gonna eat lunch weren’t we?! We decided we were pretty darn full and would just munch on the boardwalk when we grew hungry again.

We hopped into this bathroom before heading out and I had to take a picture. It was just darlin’!

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TIME TO EXPLORE!!!!

We finished exploring the Historic Market Square and then went to the indoor Historic Market place right next to it.

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Santa was just hangin’ around.

We stopped and watched the performances going on here for a few minutes, walked through the shops, and admired the handmade trinkets that littered the walls.

Now it was time to make our way to the River Walk!!!!

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The River Walk was absolutely like nothing I have ever experienced. It takes you to another place, and you really don’t even feel like you are in the United States anymore.

With the authentic Mexican eateries every few feet, one may assume they are in Mexico. When passing the Italian Cafe’s, one may have assumed they landed in a Venetian oasis.

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After exploring the River Walk we went to the Alamo. This holds a special place in my family’s heart. We have an Uncle who voluntarily came down from Kentucky and was killed in the battle. We found his name on the wall, took a picture, and discussed how sobering this moment was. All these years later, here are his great-great-great nieces were still coming to this place and discussing his memory because of his service.

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After exploring The Alamo, we hit the road and went to the Shops at the Rivercenter.

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I know where some of my blogging ladies would be spending their time 😉

The mall wasn’t insanely huge or anything, but it was awesome because you had a spectacular view of the river walk the entire time you shopped! We also picked up some Timberlands for my sister while we were there from Journeys!

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We did a bit more exploring around the awe-inspiring architecture and Cathedrals.

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———————-

TIME FOR A BREATHER.

We went back to the hotel and spent about 15 minutes resting our feet and recouping our energy. My mom kept saying, “Ya’ll better not fall asleep! I mean it!”.

Ok- we are good to go.

LET’S HIT IT!

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We headed back out as it started getting dark and decided to do the Riverboat Tour, because it’s like a requirement in San Antonio, honestly.We waited for a bit over an hour before we finally were able to get on the boat, but it was worth every second. The way the lights lined the gargantuan trees that loomed over the water, the jovially boisterous noise from all angles as people settled in for dinners and drinks, the music reverberating off the ancient brick, and memories being created for lifetimes all around us made the wait pleasantly bearable.

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The tour itself was one of my favorite parts of the trip. The air had a gentle breeze that was soft enough to just about put me  to sleep (coupled with the fact that we probably walked about six miles in a day). The coaxing of the boat down the water and the smooth rocking enhanced the experience of seeing the River Walk in an entirely new way. I loved the history that the guide provided about gems of San Antonio. Buildings we would pass by without a single glance now demanded a thought in space and time.

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We were able to get up close and personal to a monologue of Ebenezer Scrooge. This moment took me back to feeling like I was five years old again. The magic of Christmas was thick in the air.

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It cooled down incredibly quick, so I threw on this cardigan that I have been anxious to use for a night just like this!

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I know that you are all wondering- what about dinner?!?! I was wondering the same thing too by the time I got off that river boat! Most of the places on the River Walk are chains, and the ones that aren’t have a tremendous wait. We decided to try Yard House. This is one of my sister’s favorites. I have never been, but I will certainly be going back. The ONLY negative is they don’t serve bread, and my sister and I live for the bread at the beginning of meals.

We all basically have the same taste in food between my mom, sister, and I. We ordered a few things and then just shared them. We had the red quinoa salad bowl which included kale, parsley, brussels sprouts, roasted beets, cauliflower, pomegranate, feta, baby tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, and blood orange olive oil vinaigrette. Oh my lanta. I could eat this every day for the rest of my life I’m pretty sure.

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Next we shared the Mediterranean Salmon which was za’atar crusted with spicy tahini sauce and red quinoa with cauliflower, kale, golden raisins, and pistachios. It was YUM. I have never known what to use za’atar for (I have a bunch in my cabinet), so I am so pumped to start using it to crust my salmon!!!

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Last was the INSANELY delicious BBQ “Chicken” Pizza. It included Daiya (vegan) mozzarella, cilantro, red onion, and BBQ sauce. **Usually it just comes with normal mozzarella, but we asked for the substitute. This reminded me of the pizza samples we had from Morning Star at EAT/DRINK SF in August!!! Just fantastic.

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Next, we had to face the cold. The temperature had plummeted from the time we went in for dinner to when we left. Good thing giant blankets are back in style. LOLZ.

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In the morning on Sunday, we worked out for an hour, and then hit the River Walk for brunch.

But before we actually ate, we had to commemorate little sister’s first steps in her Timberlands 😉

When Halston read this ^^^ she said “Kenz, you make it sound like I’m a two year old! Take that off your blog!” Hahah. Tough luck chuck. I like it so it’s stayin’.

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Isn’t she the cutest in all the land?

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In other news, I hit a new level of basic. Didn’t think that was possible did ya?

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And on that note…Off to brunch!!

We decided to try this amazing place called Ostra. Momma Jill went in the past with Pete and said it was the bomb dot diggity. Just not in those words. We basically skipped in there we were so hungry and excited to eat their food.

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My sister ordered a hot chocolate while my mom and I ordered mimosas and coffee. Why coffee too? Because coffee never needs a reason, but also it was PEETS!!!!! Yes they serve Peets!!!!!!!

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We decided to do the breakfast buffet. They had about four tables of delicacies to choose from and an omelette bar. It hit the spot! We tried their special Chilaquiles, jams, fruit, toast (they had Fage to put on my toast, so I was pumped), granola, etc. etc. For meat eaters, they were not lacking in options- they had a plethora of delicious and unique options like blueberry sausage!

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We ate our fill (and then some) then headed out to the Natural Bridge Caverns. My sister and I have never been to Caverns before, so we were in for a real treat.

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Everything felt prehistoric and although we were freezing our tooshes off outside, the caverns themselves were toasty warm. Also, it’s a third degree felony to touch the cavern objects, so don’t do that.

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The pictures below cannot do justice to just how mammoth these caverns were. They were breath taking. Despite how my sister and I stood with our mouths agape the entire time, my mom swore that these didn’t even compare to the Luray Caverns in Virginia. Anyone ever been?

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Just a couple of cave-dwellers.

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We headed home after thirty-six hours that we will each forever treasure ❤

Thank you again, Mom!!!!

See ya’ll on the next post on my time here in Fort Worth!!! 🙂

xo ❤

Mack