Kels & Kenz Take on the Bay: Part 1!

***Disclaimer: We are not responsible for any uncontrollable stomach grumbles you may experience nor are we responsible for any cravings that may occur upon reading this post. If you are pregnant, or suspect you may be pregnant, there may be sushi triggers. Enter at your own risk, and we highly recommend bringing a sandwich***

This summer is truly one for the books! One of my greatest friends from college, Kelsey, was able to visit & prance around the city with me for a few days last week. You may recognize her from our wedding, but sadly we haven’t been together much since (she went to Uganda our last semester of college!).

I have never done sooo much in a short period of time (Nor am I sure I have ever ate so much, lol). Kels and I set out to knock off things from both of our bucket lists (This was, after all, her first time in CALIFORNIA, y’all!)

It’s so easy hanging with this chica because she is sooo go with the flow, and down with anything & when we’re together it’s just non-stop laughs mixed with great conversation. My heart is full <3 And sooooo are our stomachs. We also have the exact same taste in food, so we split everything the whole weekend which helped cut down on costs a bunch and allowed us to try a variety of nibbles! (and by nibbles I mean large meals that we are are calling snacks- deal?!).

We made the most of every second, and although she was only here for five days- it may take at LEAST four or five blog posts to recap it all. So let’s get toooo itttt!

We haven’t seen each other since the summer of 2016! She landed at around 12:20 at the Oakland Airport on Friday, July 27th. After exchanging the biggest hugs ever, we drove toward downtown SF to get a week of all time started. (wish Deej could have joined, but he had a homestand basically the whole time she was here, I took notes so I can take him back to these places though!).

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B Star, a Burmese inspired restaurant, was our first stop. People rave about this spot & swear it is a must try in SF. Their tea leaf salad has been on my foodie bucket list for a while. They also have a sister restaurant- Burma Superstar, that has a similar menu too.

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It was a tucked away little place, but the inside was so cute.

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We ordered the noodle salad, tea leaf salad, and samusa soup.

The noodle salad was light and refreshing- but nothing to write home about.

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The tea leaf salad brought a flavor that we’d never experienced. It was good, but sooo salty. Like almost too salty to enjoy for me. We ended up mixing the noodle and tea leaf and that combo was delicious; they balanced each other well.

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Now, the samusa soup was outstanding. This vegetarian soup has falafels, lentils, cabbage, potatoes, and jalapeños. This is, dare I say, the tastiest soup I have ever had. I could eat this everyday for the rest of my life. It was SO good. I am going to take DJ back just to try the soup!

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Time to see the famous Painted Ladies!! Would ya jus look at um’! Lookin’ dapper as ever, my friends.

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Everywhereeee you look, everywhere you go, there’s a heart, (there’s a heart)!!!! Ready to feel nostalgic?! You can peep these little ladies in the back of the intro here.

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LOVE HER!

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There is also a cute little park in Alamo Square if you have little ones.

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I decided since we were so close I would take Kels through Haight-Ashbury. The houses lining the walk down are a sight to witness! The level of meticulous attention & love poured into these front steps is evident. This one was reminiscent of the 16th Avenue Steps we visited about a month ago.

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Time to step back into the 60s!

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This is too funny…

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After Haight-Ashbury, we zoomed to Fishermans Wharf to be tourists doing touristy things.

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We ventured through Fisherman Grotto’s area, passed the sea lions, then into Pier 39’s hub! Kels is left-handed, so I was excited to show her the Lefty store.

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And what dooo you know? We were hungry again! Kels loves oysters, and I was trying to love oysters, so we looked up the best oysters in the area. The reviews for Sotto Mare were phenomenal, so we gave the joint a go.

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They are known for their world famous cioppino, but we still had a dinner planned, and wanted just some light, refreshing oysters. (But if you do venture here, make sure to try their cioppino! It’s now on my bucket list).

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We tried 3 East coast & 3 West coast oysters with the bloody mary mix shooters with an oyster in the bottom of the glass. So was it all up to the hype???????……

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YES!!!!!!!!

^ That was a bit dramatic , huh? Remember when we used to do that in chain mail back in the day? Okay totally digressing…

I started thinking I might be fond of oysters at Sam’s Chowder House, and these even surpassed that! The pairing with the cocktail sauce was a perfect touch too. So…. your girl officially LOVES oysters! Now I just need to get DJ on board.

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After slurpin’ down the half shell magic, we walked to Ghirardelli Square for our free samples of chocolate (yes, just go into the building and they are always handing out free samples), perused the niche boutiques, and drooled over the olive oil shop options.

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Ricky was on to something!

No matter how many times I am here I can’t help but snag a shot of the Powell & Hyde cable car (you can also see it in the full house intro video if you watch closely 😉 ).

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We found this interesting little street with books hanging from the wires too in North Beach. I had never noticed this before, and was curious behind the “why”…

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I found that it is an art installation called Language of the Birds. The books actually light up at night. There are words on the sidewalk too. It’s pretty cool to see the pictures of it at night.. you can find them here!

In the evening, we did the hour trek back to San Jose area and had a hankerin’ for some Bay Area quality sushi. There are cravings, and then there are sushi cravings. And lucky for us, there is a new place that opened recently on Santana Row called Ozumo.

I prayed it would be up to par since we were both walking in blind & I wanted to make sure Kels got some dang yummy sush while she was here (considering it is also her favorite food group).

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It looked brand spankin’ new! It had the chic, contemporary, Japanese restaurant vibes that are pretty popular in downtown SF, but I haven’t found any restaurants like it here… until now, of course!

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We decided to sit right at the sushi bar so we could watch the sushi being made. When I say this was the best dining experience we have ever had, I mean it. The service was impeccable. The atmosphere was light, warm, and fun, but not stuffy (like many of the row restaurants can be), the staff was superbly friendly and attentive, and the sushi was the greatest sushi we have ever had.

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The sushi chef gave us complimentary octopus to start our meal (yes complimentary, that was absolutely spectacular)…. we were being treated like royalty. I was like, “are they mistaking us for someone important?!” haha. Kels said that lately she has been on a streak for getting things for free, so we chalked it up to her being our good luck charm 😉

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I was craving wakame, but they didn’t have plain wakame on the menu. We decided to be adventurous and try their personal take on a seaweed salad- the Kaiso Salad. This included the red & green tosaka seaweed, wood ear mushroom, green onion, sweet chili dressing. I am thankful they didn’t have plain wakame, because it would have been a shame to miss out on this dish! It was perfection. So tasty, so flavorful, and so light.

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Then for the best part of the meal (which is saying a LOT), we had their shacho roll with tuna, salmon, scallop, crab salad, takuwan wrapped in soy paper, and lobster sauce. Umami flavors for dayyyyyyyyys.

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BEST SUSHI ROLL OF ALL TIME.

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And we also split the tremendous tuna tataki with thinly sliced seared black pepper encrusted tuna, truffle oil, ponzu, grated ginger, and micro cilantro. Heaven. Heaven straight on a plate. We ate our food soo slowly because we didn’t want it to end. Every single nibble was savored.

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We tried the cheapest red on the menu, and it was a perfect accompaniment with the meal- although a bit too generous of a pour to finish it all up.

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Happy Happy Camper with something in her teeth. (Sign of a fab meal- amiright?)

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Final touches- the bill being presented in a Thank You card <3

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Ozumo, we laud your restaurant & your food! Thank you for an unforgettable dining experience. We will be back!!

We walked around the row for about a couple hours. We even witnessed some random motorcycle show out of the blue.

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We decided we weren’t quite ready to turn in for the night. There was one other place on my bucket list to knock off and believe it or not, we decided to do dinner number two at around 10 pm…. whoops! It’s not like we were starving, but we were like, “we could eat!” know what I meaaan?

Pizza Antica is always packed out the door, but since it was very late at this point, we were able to get a seat right away.

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We split their fantastic margherita pizza. (Their bread is great too!).  I’ll be bringing DJ back to try this ‘za. He really loves a flatbread margherita. Since we were satisfied after about a piece.5 each, we had leftovers that would be perfect for nibblin’ the rest of the week.

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And finally, after eating about seven full meals in one HALF day, we called it a night. Yes, that was all one day folks. I’m not sure whether to be proud or ashamed. I’m going proud, yes definitely proud. It’s an investment in the best of memories, ya know? 😉

Questions:

Oysters- Yay or nay?

Did you watch Full House growing up?

xo <3

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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 <3

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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 <3

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