ALL. THE. FUN. In Fort Worth, TX.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We then got ready for our family night out!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And thennn for the main event of the evening….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Priorities….

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They have plenty of photo ops all over the place!

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

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

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

xo ❤

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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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The Cherry Capitol- TC, MI!

I am about to blog about one of my favorite places ever, and there is no way I can possibly do it justice, but you bet I will do my best! The first trip DJ and I took after graduation in April was to Traverse City, MI. I have taken a while to blog about this trip which severely throws off the order of events, but that’s okay because I want to make sure that I hit all the highlights and articulate accurately what a wonderful place this destination is.

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I have gone to Traverse City since I was a little girl. From hunting for the coveted Petoskey stones in the unusually cold water to sampling cherries from family friends’ cherry farms to soaking up the fresh michigan air in my lungs as I skied along the  most breathtaking views, my memories of this spectacular place are numerous. My mom is originally from this area, and I am lucky to have my grandparents live on one side of the notorious peninsula and my Aunt and Uncle right across the bay. **FUN FACT: DJ and I actually got engaged at my Aunt and Uncles’ beautiful waterfront home. I will have to share that story sometime ;). When planning our summer, Traverse City was at the top of the list.

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Why not do the most peaceful exercise in the most peaceful place?

The first night we arrived my aunt and uncle prepared us the most fabulous dinner. They are the type of people that seem to just excel at anything and everything they set their minds to. Cooking is no exception. My uncle prepared some of the most delectable salmon we have ever had followed by perfectly cooked veggies from my aunt and an absolutely refreshing salad. We still talk about “Uncle Pat’s Salmon” now. We have been to several restaurants for salmon and said, “Well- still not as good as Uncle Pat’s!”. The next day I was supposed to run the “run michigan cheap” half marathon. I may have forgone that race considering it was 30 degrees, snowing, and at 7 am. I decided to do instead ten miles on the treadmill and watch Flashpoint on Netflix. That show will keep you on the end of your seat (or on the end of the treadmill?). If you have Netflix, I highly recommend it. It made the ten miles fly by. We had a yummy parfait for breakfast and headed out on the town.

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At this point in time I was studying hard for my NCLEX (nursing boards), so DJ and I went to this delicious coffee shop called Aroma’s. It was the BEST almond milk latte I have had in my entire life. Look, I used to be a barista so I know this stuff ;). We studied for a few hours, I think DJ watched some games on his phone (or something sport related- who knows), then went back to get ready for lunch.

This is going to be a food post isn’t it? Yes, very much.

What was for lunch?! Well let me tell you… everything organic you could dream of. My Aunt and Uncle shop at multiple grocery stores and farmers markets to only buy the most organic and clean ingredients. I love staying at their house to eat all their food (…and hanging out with them is a major bonus, hehe). This little booger was the most delicious salad I may have ever had with multicolored carrots, tons of root vegetables, hummus, etc. etc.

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After lunch, I continued to study a bit and then relax. My Aunt and Uncle are super easy-going people; I feel that I can just veg-out and not worry about a thing when I’m in their home. DJ always jokes that I am going to be my Aunt when I’m older; we have very similar personalities, and I take that as quite the compliment. That night they treated us to a wonderful dinner at the restaurant Blu in Glen Arbor. I have never been anywhere like this. It has fine dining cuisine, but the most relaxing environment. You enjoy your meal overlooking the gorgeous water and are surrounded by only about ten other tables. It is the most quaint fine-dining experience I have ever had the privilege of enjoying. The staff was incredibly hospitable and knew many patrons by name. Ohhhh, and the food was insane. The menu isn’t super large, but anything you order will be fantastic. We tried a vast array of blue crab puffs with a sweet chili sauce, escargot with parsley and garlic butter, foie graus in a cherry sauce, and mixed greens with sherry vinaigrette. That’s a lot you say? Well those are just the apps. For our entrees we sampled (meaning devoured in their entirety) the walleye and a trout dish that was cooked to absolute perfection. I can’t give too much away because you just have to make your way there yourself. (HINT: order their flourless chocolate cake and myer’s rum soaked pineapple cake for dessert)! We wined and dined over amazing conversation, nonstop laughter, the most calming views, and exquisite cuisine.

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Are pant-suits back in style yet?

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I thought the pant suit was cute and all until I had to use the restroom. Then I realized what a struggle that would be-trying to unzip that thing! I held it all night, believe it or not…most would not.We all went back home with full stomachs and happy hearts. Nothing beats time with family.  And nothing beats access to the restroom after you have held it for three hours.

The next morning the two chefs went to work and made us huevos rancheros. Uhm, hello, how have I gone my whole life without these?! They made mine with vegan sausage (which tastes no different than regular- I am telling you!). We were stuffed like turkeys on thanksgiving, said our goodbyes, and headed off across the bay to see my grandparents (aka the coolest g-rents that ever lived).

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On our way to the other side of the Peninsula, we stopped at the cutest little winery. I told DJ I had to pop in. It looked like a mom-and-pop shop from the outside. On the inside it was a modern, sleek-looking wine tasting bar- I didn’t see any touristy little giftshop (you know- the ones with the spinning keychain holders that never spell your name right). So at 11 am on a Tuesday we are the only ones standing in this wine cellar. The girl that was working was super friendly, and we got to chatting for a while. I did end up sampling just a few sips of a couple wines because A. I felt weird if we just left without buying anything after chatting for that extended period of time and B. Wine.

Next, we went to the real touristy side of the city in downtown Traverse City. Downtown TC is my type of paradise. It has the cutest bakeries, gift shops, antique shops, unique family owned stores you can imagine. Despite the fact that I have been there a million times it never gets old! I usually spend hours upon hours just gallivanting through the numerous stores- especially Cherry Republic. *CUE DRAMATIC MUSIC*. This little shop is always packed because they offer cherry jams, cherry covered espresso beans, cherry salsa, cherry malted milk balls- need I go on? They allow samplings of many of the items and also offer a diverse menu of food choices. DJ and I ordered some soup to warm up while we were there. We also stopped in a coffee shop called Espresso Bay so I could squeeze in a little studying.

The trip in town would not be complete without visiting the olive oil store, Fustinis. I stocked up on their basil olive oil, 18 year old balsamic vinegar, and espresso balsamic (which is palatable on vanilla ice cream). I have tried my fair share of salad dressings but nothing tops combining some Fustini’s  basil olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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My favorite discovery of the day was the bakery called Morsels. You know how sometimes you just need “a little something sweet”? Well that’s me all the time, and this place does the trick. It has a bunch of different delicious flavored “Morsels” you can choose from. Some of the best included: Brownie points (our personal favorite), Nuts and Berries (the TC award winning favorite), and Seventh Heaven which had graham cracker, coconut, and butterscotch chips. We went back right before we left (to go back to Indiana) and stocked up on a few more for our road trip home.

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I just loved this sign
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After exploring the great down town, we headed over to our Grandma and Grandpa’s for some quality time. We caught up on all the happenings while enjoying one of those home cooked meals only a grandma can whip up. They are two of the coolest individuals I have ever met. They have been together since they were teenagers and have the most incredible stories. As I get older the stories become more and more  fascinating. They also are incredibly sage; I call my Grandma often for advice and just to chat. She is a no-mess-around kind of lady and will give it to you straight coupled with the warmest heart and a generous spirit. My Grandpa is simply the kindest person you will ever meet (and the most hilarious). His famous line to anyone who walks through the doors is, “Me Casa es Su Casa“, and he means it. We are beyond thankful for them and treasure each and every second together.

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The next day DJ and I headed off to one of our all-time favorite locations- The Sleeping Bear Dunes. Our family would always make fun of us for how often we would visit the sandy hills during TC family get-togethers. When you experience the Dunes, you will understand why they are such a big deal!

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The two of us just turn into a couple of big kids when you put us in some sand. We could frolic all day in those parts. The sand dunes have a MASSIVE dune that you can go down and climb back up (the one we are playing on above). It takes about five to seven minutes to get down, but it can be anywhere from a thirty-minute to a two-hour hike back up depending on your condition. The dunes extend for what seems like miles, and there are multiple different starting locations you can go to in order to access the park. One year we did the strenuous four mile hike to Lake Michigan. Make sure to take water and a fresh set of legs if you ever do that one ;). DJ and I went to a couple of the side trails we have never been to before and saw a porcupine up in the tree. I’m not sure where I thought porcupines lived, but I did not expect to see one in Michigan.

On our way home we made a very necessary stop in the downtown area for Kilwin’s ice cream. This is at the top of my ice cream shop list. As soon as I am in the TC area, I begin craving the stuff like a Pavlovian dog. They also serve extraordinary truffles, toffee, fudge, candied apples, and many other goodies. I love sampling all the different fudge places on the strip too. DJ always laughs at me because I get grossly excited when I see a fudge store, but never actually buy any fudge. I think I like the concept of the tremendous amounts of flavors, the smell, and the feel of a fudge store more than the actual fudge. But I always try the samples *Guilty face*.

My grandma and grandpa are big on the traditional cocktail hour. As a kid my grandpa would make me Shirley Cocktails with a little cherry. That was the only time I ever had shirley cocktails (at Grandpa’s), so it was an absolute treat. This night we had an earlier reservation, so we skipped cocktail hour (in very Bachelorette-like fashion, all you bachelorette junkies know what I mean). However, when I was getting ready to go Grandpa knocked on my door and brought me a small glass of wine and big hug. He explained he gives Grandma wine to help her get ready. Those simple, special moments are memories I will treasure.

Wednesday night we went to an amazing restaurant called Apache Trout grill. This is a tourist and locals’ favorite in the TC area, and you best make reservations in advance to grab a table! The entire meal was beyond tasty. I am convinced their smoked whitefish dip was sent straight down from heaven. I was obsessed with the stuff and think it should be mandatory that everyone try it once in their lives. You also cannot go wrong with any of the seafood entrees. However, may I suggest the walleye with the caper beurre blanc sauce. I am a bit caper-crazy, so when I saw that the walleye came with them I jumped on board (or jumped ship- pick your pun). It exceeded my expectations!

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The next day it was time to head home. Though, we did dabble in a fantastic lunch at Poppycocks in TC before! DJ and I ran there along the Peninsula and met up with everyone (Uncle Pat, Aunt Terry, G+G). I ordered the falafel waffle. If that is not only fun to say, it was also super fun to eat! We also said our emotional goodbyes, and left with memories that forever will hold a place in our heart.

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Hope you guys find time in your lives to visit this magical place. Thanks for reading!

Wishing you more falafel waffles than you can handle,

xo ❤

Mack

New York, New York!

Following the Baltimore trip we decided to hit up one of the greatest cities in America. I have never been to New York, so before we did the big move, we thought it was pretty essential. DJ was a trooper and drove the whole time in his GMC Canyon (pickup truck). He did great, besides getting stuck in the intersection one time. The cars just swerved around him like a rock in a stream without getting upset, like, “Oh there is an Ohioan driving his pickup truck in New York, we won’t even get mad”. We stayed in the beautiful Grand Hyatt right by Grand Central Terminal. It was great to be able to walk among the hustle and bustle of the city as soon as we stepped out our door. I LOVED the fast pace of the city. In the mornings I would walk to Starbucks after my morning workout and get breakfast for DJ and I. I was right among the commuters. For a people-watcher, like myself, New York City is a gold mine.

 

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^ I have a tendency to stand awkward in most photos.

We also spent quite a bit of time in Times Square. I was obsessed. I loved all the hubbub, places to eat, and unique shops. The first evening we were there it absolutely downpoured on us. We stomped through the puddles like a couple of midwesterners while the rest of the people were huddled under canopies, glued to the buildings. Okay we aren’t that good- we may have purchased umbrellas for $5. When we were passing Grand Central we hopped in and grabbed some delicious goodies from a bakery right near the entrance. DJ ordered a flourless chocolate cake and I ordered cheesecake. We may or may not (meaning most definitely) have gotten another cheesecake in the lobby, because the one from Financier just seemed too small to share. We agreed the cheesecake from the Hyett lobby store was actually better. We took them back to the room to watch the Cavs battle it out in game 5. Do not get me started on how proud we are of Bron’ Bron’ and our city. #CLE.

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The next day we made our way to Central Park. OK- call me crazy but I imagined Central Park to literally be a small park including only the area in Home Alone. Man, was I ever wrong. Central Park is MASSIVE and very scenic.

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We found Balto!

After exploring Central Park, we walked around the city a little bit. We went down Sak’s Fifth avenue and down some side streets. Highlights from walking around included:

  • Finding Lindt store. Lindor truffle balls are our obsession. I particularly like their dark chocolate or white chocolate and DJ prefers the milk. When we saw all the flavors, we could not control ourselves. We decided to each get one flavor we have never tried. I am having a hard time remembering what we chose, but I think I got a cookies and cream and DJ tried white finally.
  • We found Carlos’ Bakery. It is not the original, but we HAD to try the famous cannoli and eclair. THEY WERE LIFE CHANGING.
  • More Time Square…Can’t get enough.
  • The following day we decided to do the Empire State Building tour. It was fun to try to find certain landmarks from way up high.

After our adventures of the day, we had worked up an appetite. We found a scrumptious steakhouse. Even though I do not eat meat, I love steakhouses. Mainly because usually they have amazing seafood options and sides. I ordered tuna tartare and DJ got steak (duh). We shared the lobster mac and cheese and creamed spinach to boot. If you are a creamed spinach lover, try putting it on your bread. It is 10291498x better on bread. I do not know why, but it is!   Ben and Jack’s was the name of this delicious jackpot. We ordered dessert consisting of coconut cream pie and more flourless chocolate cake. It was delicious and I highly recommend it if you are looking for a nice night out in New York.

The rest of the night we spent in the room to watch Bachelorette. Yes, yes, I know it is pathetic. We were whipped by this point, and while we probably could have found something to do (It’s New York, hello), cozying up with a glass of wine, our stock pile of desserts, and watching our bae JoJo slayyy sounded so inviting.

The next day we decided to walk to South Manhattan. It was about a 10 mile walk roundtrip. I also stopped us every few miles to reapply sunscreen- WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN BOYS AND GIRLS. We saw the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, and the Brooklyn Bridge (sort of).

Story time.

Once upon a time Mack and DJ had plans to go to Broadway to see Wicked. They did not have a hotel for said night of Wicked and had to carry around their clothes with them all day before the show. This bookbag contained not only Mack’s favorite dress and DJ’s favorite pants, but a new watch DJ had gotten Mack for her birthday, all Mack’s makeup, and her passport. Yes, passport. They stopped at a small little convenient store to grab snacks and use the restroom (which is tricky  to find in New York!). They casually walked all along Wall Street and then headed to the notorious Brooklyn Bridge. While entering Brooklyn Bridge, Mack looked to DJ and realized there was no precious bookbag upon her hubby’s shoulders. “Where is the book bag, sweet husband”, she said calmly (NOT). “Gone” hubby replied. (Really- that is how he responded, in a monotone voice). *INSERT MACK HAVING A MAJOR TEMPER TANTRUM*. They did not fully complete the Brooklyn Bridge but turned back and between the tears and angry outburst and each realization of what was in this bag, they brainstormed where the bag could possibly be. After retracing their steps they found that darn little convenient store and sure enough- right in the chair they had been in- was their precious little bag. (This is crazy considering there were five times more people there than when they were there about two hours prior). Mack has never felt such great relief in her whole life. DJ was still glad to have his life. The happy, relieved couple maneuvered New York happily ever after after that.

**Side note: I felt horrible about freaking out to such an extreme. Many apologies were exchanged after. Good learning experience, am I right? We just said it will be an excuse to go back to New York in the future so we can actually complete the Brooklyn Bridge.

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We tried to get a picture with the famous Lady, but no luck. Also just realized there is something in my tooth lol.
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Lady Liberty looking mighty fine

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Incredibly relieved after finding the bag

I also have to mention the profound experience we had at Ground Zero. Seeing the memorial opened my eyes to the exponential number of people personally touched. I know it affected our entire country, but when you see each of those names, it pulls on the depths of your heart. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with those that lost loved ones.

After the New York walk, we went to a delicious burger joint called the Counter. GOSH DARNIT, we got caught in the chain trap. Once again we did not know this was a chain either, but holy moly was it good. The way The Counter works is you design your burger. They have endless options of breads, toppings, sauces, etc. We discovered it was chain when we saw one right down the road from us in Cupertino. LOLZ. I ordered the most epic vegan patty burger with smoked gouda and tons of veggies. DJ had the famous burger with a fried egg. Lastly, we split their perfectly made coleslaw and delved into their heavenly sweet potato fries. Oh and their milkshakes are to.die.for.

Now it was time to get ready for Broadway. We went to a little cafe where I ordered a decaf coffee just so we could use their restroom. There was not much I could do about the hair situation, so we just bunned it hardcore. Broadway blew us away. The talent was indescribable. Wicked will keep you fascinated and enchanted for the entire length of the production. If you find yourself in New York, make sure you carve out a chunk of time to see it.

Next stop: HOME.

Wishing you lots of juicy burgers,

xo ❤

Mack

Baltimore, MD!

After I graduated this year from college, DJ and I decided to take a couple of months and travel! We left in the beginning of May and headed to Baltimore. Well why Baltimore? I guess it would differ depending whom you ask. DJ would say to watch the Orioles play, but I would say to try the greatest crab cakes in America. Either way we accomplished both. Crab cakes first! One word: FAIDLEYS. If you have not tried a Faidley’s crab cake, you have not lived. While it is $20, the cake it is beyond worth it. There are zero fillers and huge jumbo lump crab. The place has a super fun authentic feel located right in a market place.

I also feel that anywhere you go has something unique and special about it. Some may feel that a city, county, country is not worth going to because it has nothing particularly special about it. My personal opinion is if you look close enough each place has a hidden gem. (Said “gems”are my favorite when they come in the food form).

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We spent the rest of the weekend going to Orioles games! We are both from Akron, OH originally, but DJ is an Orioles fan, soo I am slowly converting.**DISCLAIMER: STILL INDIANS FAN**. The games were a blast. Camden yards is a stadium you must go to if you are a baseball lover. It is one of a kind. Also they have vegan hot dogs -so I died. I was ecstatic. I haven’t had a hotdog at a baseball game in years!

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In between games, we spent time going to the Aquarium right on the pier, walked along the cute little pier, and tried different restaurants. We are both strong believers of not eating at chains while traveling- it is necessary to try the local grub! We went to a place called the Rusty Scupper. It was one of the greatest seafood meals of our lives. DJ and I both ordered the Chilean Sea Bass. Let me tell you- it was nuthin’ short of spectacular. Their shrimp cocktail may have had the largest shrimp I have ever seen on a shrimp cocktail as well.

We also discovered a cute little sweets shop called SUGAR. I have a big ole’ sweet tooth so it grabbed my attention. We went in and looked at everything and decided to split a cowtail. Please tell me there are others out there that are cowtail fans. For some reason most people I have asked lately about them (because apparently this is a conversation I have often) seem to be living under a rock and don’t even know what they are. If you have never had a cowtail, stop reading, go find one, and eat it. You’re welcome.

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At the second game we went to I was convinced the Manny Machado waved to me. Maybe he can affirm this one day? Either way, we enjoyed every second of those ball games. There is something about the comradery of the fans at a baseball game, the smell of roasting peanuts, and sticky spilled soft drinks on your shoes that makes a summer evening absolutely perfect.

 

So you know that rule we have about not going to chains? We unknowingly broke it. Whoops. We definitely went to a chain thinking it was a local food stop. Oh well, it was worth it. Let me present Philips- if you would like a delicious lobster roll, this is the place to go. Oh by the way, the way we found out it was a chain was when we were in the airport. And there was one in the airport. AN AIRPORT.

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The Baltimore trip surpassed my expectations. If ever find yourself in Baltimore, MD, repeat after me: FIND FAIDLEYS.

Wishing you an abundance of sweet things,

xo ❤

Mack