Happy 2018 y’all!
Come on in, lemme set the scene. I am sitting here with our Christmas tree & decor still fully on display. I refused to let DJ take it down this week, and that convo was officially our first squabble of 2018. I told him he could take it down when I’m at work this weekend, although I’d prefer to keep it up until it literally falls over and no pines are left. Compromise y’all- marriage at its finest.
I have my third cup of coffee in hand (clearly not on that “decrease caffeine” resolution train). I have jazz playing in the background. I am overcoming quite the cold, as I am sure many of you are also facing head on. So from me to you, HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND YOUR ___ (insert sickness here)_____ ! I mean, really, along with popping the champagne we may as well take Airborne shots and instead of confetti throw around tissues.
I cannot CANNOT believe how quickly last year went by. I usually think the sentimentality of a New Year is always a bit cheesy (yes, coming from the cheese-y queen), but this year I was feeling it. 2017 was rough rough rough, and I welcome a new year with open arms. Last year I knew I was walking into a difficult year, but I underestimated just how challenging it would be. This year, rather than having a feeling of foreboding doom and anxiety, I am filled with excitement & anticipation as I can nearly taste the completion of THE most challenging obstacle I have ever faced.
In my last post I was heading to Fort Worth to visit my momma, Step-dad, Pete, and pup, Jade with DJ on the 28th. (Side note: I have always called Jade, “Jadey” as a nickname… and when in Texas I always end up calling Jade “DJ”.. dyslexic tendencies slipping to the surface there..whooops!).
real quick…You can check out previous posts exploring the Texas area here and here and here and here.
^ The diva dog hates her picture taken, but I had to snag a few!
The first night we arrived I was egg to the zausted. Momma Jill prepared the most delicious dinner for us including bottomless roasted veggies, grilled portobello mushrooms (for her and I), and Pete grilled up steaks for the boys. It was all accompanied by delicious wild rice, marinated mushrooms for the steak, and garlic bread.
Good lawd, momma Jill knows how to cook up a storm (maybe quite literally if you look at the temperature & snow we had!).
I also just adore their Christmas decor, and they surprised us by having our stockings still hung above the fireplace. **CUE THE TEARS**.
After dinner, we opened our stockings, chatted and soaked up my mom and Pete’s wisdom going into some big decisions this year ahead, and munched on homemade Christmas cookies. It actually felt like Christmas. Like I said in my last post, the day of Christmas is actually quite relative. And the best part of an untraditional Christmas is if you forget any figs for your figgy pudding there is actually a grocery store open! Howbowdat.
^^ Ms. Beggar McGregor.
Unfortunately, that night I dealt with a horrible bout of insomnia. I think it was the combination of coming off some crazy days in the hospital, the travel, and just general time change (it always gets me!). When I went to India a couple years ago I couldn’t sleep for three days straight. That jet lag, even a couple hours, kicks my butt.
But the next day we jet-started the day with a yummy fruit bowl, eggs, toast, and better n’peanut butter for my mom and I. Has anyone had this magic? It’s my treat when I go to Dallas. SO GOOD. I know I could technically stock up on it here… but it just reminds me of “home”, so I save it for those special trips to Texas. I think I’d be too sad eating it anywhere else. <— #emotionalmuch?
The 29thwas a day for the books. I actually did cry going through these pictures because I missed it too much already. My mom surprised me with a trip to Spa Castle and for DJ, a trip with Pete to the Cotton Bowl! I’ll recap Spa Castle right quick!
So, this place is HUGE- very Texasesque! I have never seen anything like it. Basically it’s a giant Spa amusement park. They have everything from a fitness center, saunas galore, whirlpools with jet massagers, a plethora of spa treatments, and general lounging areas.
You receive this key to a locker when you come in and just badge in and out of your locker as you please!
Momma bear and I decided to start with a hearty workout prior to a day of total bliss.
Everyone is required to wear these uniforms in the sauna for probably several reasons that you could infer. I joked that this reminded me of a cult meets monastery, but I was all on board!
The entrance area was absolutely breathtaking. Every inch of the facility is designed to make you relax.
Now, the “Sauna Valley” was paradise. My pictures cannot possibly compare to the real experience, so I’ve included a link here that you can explore each room and all their benefits! Our favorites included the Himalayan Salt Room, The Charcoal Tower, and the Gold Pyramid.
I thought the “Color Therapy” room was super fascinating. The health benefits behind each room just blew my mind.
There is even an Iceland room if you need to chillll out even more.
Let me jus say—- this was EXACTLY what I needed to shake out the anxiety & stress of the year. What a great way to say SAYONARA, Seventeen! These Saunas were out. of. this. world.
We then headed down to their pool area. All those silver bars jetting out of the water are massage stations. They are not for the faint of heart either. The next day I had that same sore feeling I get after a great massage that really works out the knots. It was too cool.
Last, but certainly not least, we finished off at their indoor bar/pool/whirlpool area. It was all quintessential bliss.
We had worked up quite the appetite by this point so we nommed on some sushimi and wakame salad to tie us over before the big Sushi showdown.
We had every little bit of energy zapped from our bodies and knew it was time to head back home.
On our way home we grabbed some fantastic & fresh sushi to go and my mom pulled out her now famous tofu wedges. After getting cleaned up we sat on the couch, turned on some easy TV, and I blogged while my mom crashed in the cozy living room. It was the epitome of a perfect day.
While we sat back and relaxed, the guys hit up the Cotton Bowl for the OSU vs. USC game. DJ was PUMPED about this, which probably goes without saying.
They said it was an absolutely amazing game.
On the morning of the 30th, DJ, my mom, and I hit up the local Keller Pointe (my favorite workout facility in the WORLD). After we zoomed to Kindred Coffee…. oh. my. lanta. Calling all coffeee lovers & snobs: If you are ever passing by the North Richland Hills area, you must stop. This was everything coffee magic & more.
We had a lazy afternoon, and I snuck in a much needed nap. I don’t nap often, but I always do so well in Texas, plus this nasty cold was beginning to make it’s debut. We then put our fancy clothes on and headed out to Lonesome Dove at the Stockyards.
^^ We did not plan to match. I swear. Hahhah.
Love love love love the stockyards.
This place has one of the most unique menus I have ever seen. I avoid eating meat 98% of the time, but when there is something that is unique, I MUST try it. This was certainly one of those occasions. We tried a sampler of their appetizer options including wild boar ribs, kangaroo Carpaccio “Nachos” (yes, actual kangaroo) Avocado Salsa, Habanéro-Fig Demi-Glace, and blue corn lobster hushpuppies. The kangaroo and ribs were a hit among the table out of the three.
My mom and I shared the shaved vegetable salad while Pete tried the butter lettuce with smoked bacon.
I couldn’t get great pictures of our meals (calm yo self, mack), but they were all yummmy. My mom and I split the redfish En Papillote, with Fennel, Leek, Carrot, Yellow Squash, Chiles, & mint. We agreed it wasn’t the most flavorful fish we have had, but still satisfying. DJ tried the Wagyu skirt steak, but the winner was Pete’s Roasted Garlic Stuffed Beef Tenderloin, with Western Plaid Hash and syrah Demi-Glace (pictured below).
The other big hit was the side of truffle mac and cheese. I mean can you go wrong with ANYTHING truffled?
Outside they have a pit for s’mores too.
We headed home for some Bailey’s & Pumpkin Pie with happy stomachs and lots of laughs.
In the morning of the 31st, we headed to my mom and Pete’s home church for an AMAZING service. The message was powerful and encouraging & the worship was beautiful.
And what’s a Sunday without a little Sunday Brunch?!?! When I lived here the summer prior to our wedding in 2015, I loved walking up and down the main street of Keller to do my wedding planning. This was before I began blogging, but this would have been a favorite mention. The Snooty Pig is one of my ALL. TIME. favorite breakfast places, and Pete suggested we go. I was not about to turn that down!
One of the reasons I love this place so much is their muffins. They have the most unique, but scrumptious muffins.
We decided to try their lemon poppyseed ones, although I was nervous because with possibly starting grad school here soon I know I’ll have to take drug tests! I was like how long does it stay in the system for?!? We pulled out our phones and started googling. Turns out it’s only for a few days, so I should be safe. When the waiter plopped the lemon muffin down on the table DJ just looked at it and said, “Well, that’s just a drug test waiting to be failed”. I just glared at him as I took my first big bite. 😉
And now I have this blog with pictures to explain if it comes to that. LOL. Pete had their strawberry banana one too. I said it’s a tradition now to try a different flavor every time we come. Last time we had the cranberry orange one- oh me oh my, not sure which I like better.
My mom and I split a veggie omelette with a side of the most fresh salsa.
Pete had their western skillet. He’s too kind to let me always photograph his food. Oh, how these people put up with me and my antics.
DJ had a classic pancake breakfast. He said the pancakes were definitely good. Still not THE best. This guy and his cakes..
After, we hit up the gym for the last time in 2017 (tears), and then *attempted* to hot tub. It was so bitter cold outside so although our necks down were doing okay, we could feel our nose hairs and lips freezing. We didn’t last too long as you may imagine. Still fun though!
DJ decided to door dash a Whataburger.. when in Texas!
It’s hard to tell from the picture, but these suckers are ginormous! Easily the biggest burger in diameter I have ever seen. DJ said it was fantastic, but still prefers in-n-out.
Time to Ring in the New Year!!!!
We put on the TV to watch the NYE festivities, and then momma Jill set up the dinner table like a winter wonderland.
We had appetizers of brie cheese with apricot spread from Trader Joes (GET THESE NOW), hummus, mom’s homemade guac (there is none that compares, and meatballs for the men.
I helped my mom out in the kitchen preparing some of the food for dinner (But she honestly did most of the work). She gave me an Instapot for Christmas, so we had a fun little tutorial on how to use it by experimenting with au gratin potatoes! It was a blast, and I am itching to use mine!
The dinner (That DJ and I cannot stop talking about) included crab legs, asparagus, au gratin potatoes, and red lobster biscuits. Rachael Ray move on over.
We had a great time toasting to a new year, had fabulous conversations, and watched the ball drop. We haven’t spent a New Year together in ages, so this was a true treat and will be dearly treasured.
In the morning on the 1st, we gloomily packed up to head back to Cali. I had my breakfast of peanut butter toast one last time, and we exchanged big hugs. This may have been the hardest trip for me to leave. I was reminiscing on the days growing up when we would have breakfast with my Dad and then come home to my mom cleaning every nook and cranny to ring in the New Year. Bittersweet contemplations..
In the airport, DJ spotted a twisted root- him and Pete went to one before the cotton bowl, and he had to have one last burger before heading back. We had plenty of time since our flight was delayed about an hour.
Even after writing this I don’t feel like I did justice to just how phenomenal of a trip this was. It was much needed, and gave me just the zest I needed to face the next couple months.
I went back to work on the 2nd, and struggled through the whole day. I was in the Neuro Close observation room, masked up because of my cold. That evening and the next morning I had the knives-in-my-throat feeling and every inch of my body ached. I called in sick, but worked diligently on my research project instead. I just couldn’t risk giving my patients what I had, especially in the NCOR room.
OH oh oh! And we were startled awake to a crazy earthquake last night. I think they said it was a 4.6- but it was the weirdest thing. I woke up and the room was just swaying side to side. I woke up DJ and everything was just rattling. The first earthquake I experienced a few weeks ago I thought someone was trying to break in. This time it was like Goliath was shaking our whole apartment. Apparently the center of the quake was in Berkeley. No damage was done, but a few pictures are a bit lop-sided on the wall.
I hope all of your New Year celebrations were safe and fun. I pray for blessings, happiness, and all the other cheesy things (And lots of actual cheese) to you this year!