Great Coffee, Burgers & Texas BBQ!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Love these messages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Here’s the roundup!

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

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

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

Questions for you:

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

xo <3

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Adventurin’ in Austin!

Hey all! Another back- logged post coming at you!! This semester is just nuts- I’m so stinkin’ sad I’ve had to take such a big step back from the blogging community… but I do think October maybe will be a bit lighter ?! Anyways- have a great week ahead!

On July 15th we continued unpacking and studying. I was trying to catch up as much as I could after taking a full three days off from the books. It was a wonderful break, but also it was pretty tough to get back to it.

On July 16th I did a big Trader Joe’s trip. I found this Organic Sparkling Apple Cider which was quite refreshing and tasty. 🍏

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In the evening I made us salmon, cauliflower gnocchi and asparagus. We are both obsessed with the cauli. gnocchi from Trader Joes.

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On July 17th it was more studying. It was a rough day though. I kept feeling the need to get the whole DMV process rolling since we only had until the 31st to get it done. I had a hard time focusing, so I decided to just get all these logistics done so I had a clearer mind to study. In order to get my car registered and a license, I had to get my state emissions inspection done. When pulling out of our garage I was so focused on not hitting the car parked closely next to me that I backed my drivers side across a cement pillar. It destroyed my mirror and some of the body. I was soo angry at myself. It was one of those moments where I knew I was way too overwhelmed and trying to do too much in a short period. I called my mom in the parking lot of where you get the emissions checked and she kindly pointed out my car probably wouldn’t pass with a broken mirror. So scratch that (pun intended). I went to a nearby mechanic on the verge of a panic attack, thinking how badly I needed to get back to studying. The guy could tell I was overwhelmed, took me without an appointment, temporarily secured the mirror so it would pass the inspection and helped me order a new one for the cheapest price available. He called his friends over at a local State Emissions inspection spot and told them the scenario and that a new one was ordered so they didn’t fail me. It was the kindest thing in the world. I called my mom again after thanking her for the heads up and explained what happened after- she said, “That’s Texas for ya! We take care of each other”. It was so above and beyond of him.

Anyways, In the evening we enjoyed a four cheese pizza from TJ’s. It was really yummy. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad pizza from TJ’s & they have so many options!

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July 18th-19th was study/unpack/study. DJ did meet up with some friends that he worked with back in CA that were visiting for dinner. I wish I could have joined but I had a mound of assignments to get to. He did find a cool little spot called The Lost Lei that he said we’ll have to go back to sometime! During one of those days I went to the DMV and sat with Smalls for over three hours waiting to get my new Texas license. I also made a trip to HEB to pick up some more essentials. I love HEB, especially now that I know how to navigate it. The prices are awesome, and if there are coupons available for items they will be right in front of them on the shelves. You just grab one and take them to check out. It’s saved us a lot already!

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July 20th was more of the same, but we did treat ourselves to our first meal out since moving to Texas! Yes, it took us nearly a month to actually eat out (except for our one small, quick meal at Cane’s).

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We chose to try out Torchys Tacos. This is a popular Austin Taco staple and one of the most frequently recommended spots for us to check out.

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They have several locations all over the city, but the one downtown was within walking distance so it made it easy peasy. I love how accessible downtown is for us– definitely will save us a ton on parking in the long run.

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They have tons of options on their menu, something for every dietary preference! Their tacos are individually only about $4.50 a piece so we ordered several different ones and their Green Chile Queso and Chips.

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It was probably the best queso I have ever had. I think it was my favorite part of everything I tried. It is addictively delicious 😋 – I barely could leave room for my actual tacos haha.

DJ ordered the Trailer Park with fried chicken, the Democrat with barbacoa and Crossroads with smoked beef brisket. He loved them all and said he couldn’t choose a favorite.

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I ordered the Independent with fried portobello mushrooms and the Mr. Pink with seared ahi tuna. I expected to prefer the ahi tuna one more, but it was a bit too salty and saucy for me, where the Independent was the most amazing blend of flavors!

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Their margaritas are delicious too!

After, we decided to walk around and explore the city a bit.

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I just adore the character of this city. I will discuss all my thoughts on my first impressions of Austin in a separate post!

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So pretty pretty.

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On July 21st for dinner I made a zucchini pasta with turkey meatballs for DJ and I just ate a portion without the meatballs. Not pictured- garlic bread on the side. Mmm !

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July 22nd for lunch I made a salmon salad with tzatziki. Such a perfect summer lunch!

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For dinner I made us “chik’n” from Lightlife, corn, and brown rice for dinner. DJ is fully on board the “Chik’n” train too. I appreciate how open he always is to trying my vegetarian meals!

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Even though I had to work on school assignments through the whole evening we did put on Bach in the background.

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July 23rd I worked on submitting my clinical request form and DJ helped me take a head shot for my application. I also got my annual TB testing done for clinicals. We sold our big couch since it wouldn’t fit in our new apartment and dropped it off to the buyer. It was a pain in the BUTT to get out the door- but it feels good to have it off our hands. Back story with the couches: We got basically the cheapest ones we could find at Big Lots when we lived in Indiana for our first town house, and planned on reselling them at the end of the year- but fell in love with them so have had them since. We still have the smaller love seat so it’s perfect for just the two of us.

On July 24th we had leftovers in the evening as well as a caprese salad.

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July 25th I made DJ some tacos he was craving & I enjoyed my massive garden salad.

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July 26th it was study, study, study. I went to Starbucks for a change of scenery and took along a Quest bar. I tried the Chocolate Sprinkle Doughnut for the first time, it was fine, but I still prefer the Cookie Dough or S’mores flavor most.

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I remember that day being kinda emotional and stressful. I worked hard studying all that day and then on July 26th I told DJ I needed something to look forward to to stay motivated that day. We decided to see Toy Story 4 in theaters that evening. We actually had chipped away at the first three Toy Story’s in the evening before going to sleep, so all of them were fresh in our minds and made us even more stoked to see Toy Story 4! Better yet, we had two movie coupons so it was a free date night (minus the sodas we picked up).

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This was one of the cozy theaters with the reclining chairs! We will definitely have to go back. I usually have such a hard time sitting through a couple hour movie, but it was much needed to turn my brain off.

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We really enjoyed Toy Story 4! It was so cute. I had no idea how they were going to make a fourth after the full-circle ending of the third, but we think they pulled it off! I told DJ we need to go movies more often.

July 27th was another full day of studying (sorry, I sound like a broken record!), and since we were getting low on groceries we decided to eat something quick within walking distance. Many people have suggested Home Slice down here, especially because they know my obsession with a good NY slice.

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We were going to just eat at the restaurant, but since the wait was over two hours and it was already 7:45 we decided to just go next door to their “More Slice” Slice House to pick up to-go slices. The slice I mainly wanted to try was the white pie & spinach, and it was a special they had- love it when that works out!!!

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Here she is in all her beauty!!! It was phenomenal. This was one of my favorite slices of pizza I’ve ever had. In CA it was really hard to find good pizza, and when we finally did (At Capo’s), it was sooo darn expensive. This $4 slice is somethin’ of my dreams. I knew I loved Austin upon the discovery of this slice of pizza. 🤣

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We also tried their Marg which was fantastic. DJ tried their pepperoni, but I think the consensus is to get their white pie if you ever go. But also, you can’t go wrong.

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We walked around South Congress after. It has a retro, funky, yet hip, vibe. I think it’s my favorite part of the city. Next time we’re there I’ll take more pictures to give you a better idea.

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On July 28th I went on my first run outside and discovered an amazing running trail that goes for miles! While it was hot, it wasn’t as bad as expected. I do go through sunscreen like it’s going out of style now. Also, while this pic of a bat under the bridge may be cool, the smell under that bridge is gosh awful. I have to hold my breath every time I run under it- who knew bats could stink so badly?!

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I adore this trail though. It snakes along Lady Bird Lake and is easily accessible from our apartment without driving. I have put in quite a few miles on it since discovering it. It actually reminds me of the Towpath back in OH which adds a comforting “home” feel. I was worried about giving up my walking path back in CA because it was such a therapeutic part of my day, but this is 10000% better.

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This feels long enough so I’ll wrap it up here. Even though the whole first month was insanity and chaos and stressful, the transition was all-in-all smooth! We no longer have obnoxiously loud upstairs neighbors (I could cry tears of relief, truly) and the city just exudes this vibe of excitement and fun. Can’t wait to share more!

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Question for you:

  • Have you seen any good movies lately?

xo <3

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Friday Favorites #21!

Happy Friday!!! We made it – woohoo!! DJ had to work super late last night (around 11 pm), but in turn he gets today entirely off! I still have to work on school shtuff all day, but I love having him around. I have faves bursting at the seams this week- definitely will have to save some for next week too!

  1. Trader Joe’s Tzatziki– oh man, this stuff is so creamy and delicious. I like putting it on my “chik’n”, eating it with hummus and pita chips, or putting it in my salads.

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2. Trader Joe’s Sliced French Brioche. The obsession is real. This is a must-try. We use it mainly for sandwiches, french toast, and grilled cheese!

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3. Little Pink Book. I am sooo old fashioned in keeping “paper records”. I don’t totally trust technology plus I’m bad at it, lol. Anywho- this little book is so fun & adorable for storing all contacts and addresses. I’m sure my mom is happy to read this considering it means I won’t constantly text her, “What is so & so’s address again?”

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4. Crispy Chickpeas from Trader Joe’s. This is more of a DJ Friday Fave, I like these, but DJ loves them. I actually prefer the Saffron Road brand, but these are still yummy.

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5. Olay Instant Hydration Eye Cream. I gotta say, I am usually so skeptical about face and eye creams- they cost an arm & a leg, but do they actually work? I noticed a difference in my under eye puffiness and also general smoothness in my under eyes by using this for one day! It lasts for a long time too because you only need very little.

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6. Fyre Festival Documentaries. This is kind of old news now, but I have to include it! Oh man, this is a fascinating documentary! I suggest watching both- the Netflix and Hulu styles are different & you learn different aspects about the whole mess through each. I won’t even give a synopsis because I’m sure y’all are well aware about it by now. Gosh, it’s entertaining.

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7. Airpods! DJ has wanted to get these for me for a long time for a Christmas or bday gift for the last couple years, but I always said I didn’t get the point. I didn’t see how they were that different truly from the regular headphones. WOW, was I wrong in my thinking- these are a game changer!! He finally got them for me this past Christmas, and I am sooo glad. They are sooo much easier, don’t catch on everything, and I think my form is better running because I can truly stand up straight without the headphones tugging on my phone. Also, I can do HITT routines while listening to podcasts or music… I couldn’t do that with my wire ones because they needed to be connected to my phone.

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8. Maybelline’s Colossal Volume Mascara. We have all seen the commercials for this mascara, and I had a sample I finally tried. I usually use “They’re Real!“.. but that can be sooo doggone pricy. This Mascara is insanely comparable, maybe even adds more volume, and is a price I can justify!

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9. The Wife Between Us. Wowzas, this book is a good one! Some people compare it to the style of Behind Closed Doors, one of my favorites from last year. This book, similarly, had sooo many twists and turns at the end, my jaw was nearly on the floor. Thanks, Maureen, for the suggestion! I really hope they make this a movie!

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10. The Final Table. Where my cooking show fanatics at?!?! This is a must watch! The Final Table takes the best chefs from around the world and they compete in the ultimate cooking competition. This is top tier cooking competition gold.

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Question for you:

  • Any favorites for you this week?!

Have a great weekend, my friends 🙂

xo <3

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**There are affiliated links in this post, but all ideas and opinions are my own! Some images are from a Google Image search- ya know the really crisp professional looking ones 😉 **