We were in Texas for Two Years?!

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.

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^ 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.

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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**.

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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.

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^^ Ms. Beggar McGregor.

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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!

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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!

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Momma bear and I decided to start with a hearty workout prior to a day of total bliss.

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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!

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The entrance area was absolutely breathtaking. Every inch of the facility is designed to make you relax.

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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.

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I thought the “Color Therapy” room was super fascinating. The health benefits behind each room just blew my mind.

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There is even an Iceland room if you need to chillll out even more.

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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.

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Last, but certainly not least, we finished off at their indoor bar/pool/whirlpool area. It was all quintessential bliss.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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^^ We did not plan to match. I swear. Hahhah.

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Love love love love the stockyards.

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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.

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My mom and I shared the shaved vegetable salad while Pete tried the butter lettuce with smoked bacon.

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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).

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The other big hit was the side of truffle mac and cheese. I mean can you go wrong with ANYTHING truffled?

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Outside they have a pit for s’mores too.

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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.

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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!

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One of the reasons I love this place so much is their muffins. They have the most unique, but scrumptious muffins.

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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. 😉

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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.

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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.

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DJ had a classic pancake breakfast. He said the pancakes were definitely good. Still not THE best. This guy and his cakes..

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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!

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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.

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Time to Ring in the New Year!!!!

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^Cuties

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We put on the TV to watch the NYE festivities, and then momma Jill set up the dinner table like a winter wonderland.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

xo <3

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Happy New Year from Mack & DJ (A NYE Weekend Recap in SF!)

HelllllooooOOOooOO everybody! I have a short (ish) post for you today. Which many of you would be skeptical of unless you saw it with your own eyes… So, hey, guess you’ll have to come in and see for yo self 😉 I missed my calling as a sales woman. I realize.

After DJ and I arrived back from Ohio, we tried to adjust to the jet-lag, unpacked (there is always wayy more laundry than you bank on), ate Subway because we were craving us some subs, and watched Dexter.

On Friday, December 30th, Annie (you can get the low down on our friendship here) and I decided to have a girllzzzz night in SF. As much as she is our fave third wheel, (or maybe Deej is the third, not sure), DJ is incredibly supportive of girl time. It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other, and with the next few months being crazy and unpredictable, we decided to try to squeeze in hanging out one more time before the new year dawned.

Driving into SF that night was exhilarating. The sky was bright blue in some parts and dark gray in others. The contrast was magnificent! Additionally, the way the clouds roll into the city over the bay fascinates me the whole time I drive down the highway.

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Love this city <3

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When I arrived to Annie’s apartment, we finished up getting ready then headed out to one of my personal favorite restaurants in all of SF. I had two “free drink” coupons from Eat/Drink SF, and it would be a darn shame for those to go to waste. Hence, girlz night.

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Something I just absolutely love about Farallon is the jellyfish lounge. It is truly so unique! I give a full synopsis of this spectacular restaurant in a previous post.

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Isn’t she just the cutest you’ve ever seen?!

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Imma’ rant for a quick tick: One personal stipulation that I have for determining a good restaurant is their bread factor. I’m a runner, and I take my carbs seriously. So when I see that grainy, yummy, doughy piece of deliciousness with a pad of buttery perfection next to it, I do what any normal person does: salt the heck out of my butter before putting it on my bread. Right? RIGHT?! Ok, well DJ apparently thinks my methods are a bit strange with the salt, but Farallon agrees that salt on butter is the way to do it. And for this reason, Farallon wins sooo many brownie points in my heart

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In all seriousness though… that lava salt and butter and bread was the BEST I have ever had. Sorry, Outback & Olive Garden & Macaroni Grill …. you have some competitionnnn. Now, I’m all curious– what is your favorite restaurant for bread? 

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We didn’t want to spend a ton (and this place is pretty pricey), so we decided to split an appetizer and entree. For the appetizer we did the Mezcal Ceviche with Avocado Mousse and Spiced Tostada. This dish was SPICEY! The avocado mousse helped TAME THE FLAME a bit. It was eye-watering, nose-dripping YUM. Yet, I feel like that doesn’t sound appetizing when I put it that way? And those spiced tostadas were like some kind of fancy schmancy Doritos.

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For our entree, we split the pan seared scallops with spaghetti squash, brussels sprouts, huckleberries, & bacon (on the side).

I can say this with extreme confidence: It was the best one and a half scallops I have ever had. Yes, 1.5. We savored the heck out of that dish. Like the smallest bites you can imagine but each small bite was bursting with LARGE flavor. The combination of the huckleberries, brussels, and squash was unique, but it worked so well. If you ever go to Farallon, get this. You will not regret it. Especially if you like scallops. (But really anything on their menu is spectacular! We had some of the best food of my life the last time we were there too!).

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We walked out of there sooo full.

Lolz. NOT.

The food was TREMENDOUS. Don’t get me wrong. But we definitely had wayy more room. So we did what anyone does right after a big splurge dinner… go to the nearest grocery store for more food.

Allow me to present dinner numero dos: Snyder’s Hershey’s Dark Chocolate pretzels, Halo Top Ice cream (Strawberry is suhh guuhhdd), SUSHI!, & wine.

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Because those are all the essentials for watching K. Dash all night long.

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Best. Girlz. Night. Ever.

On the way out in the morning I had to take a picture of this.

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Is she smart or what?! I need to do this, and get that rug that says, “Turn off your straightener”!

I drove back from SF to Cupertino, did a seven-miler on the treadmill while reading Cutting for Stone (phenomenal book, btw), then got snazzed up with Deej when he came back from playing basketball. We then, once again, started the drive back to SF. Deja Vu!

I wanted to spend SF in the city, but obviously hotels in the city are already outrageously priced and with living so close it’s hard to justify paying to stay overnight. But, at the same time, it’s incredibly dangerous to drive on New Years Eve. See my predicament? Our solution: GROUPON!!!!!!!!!

A couple months ago, I found a room slashed at Le Meridian to more than half the original price for New Year’s Eve. It was so cheap we kept joking that it probably had smoke damage, or the shower didn’t work, etc. etc., but it was perfect!!!!!

It was also centrally located, and we could see the Bay Bridge from our window!

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I loved the way they had the maps as the wall paper. It was all kindsa modern!

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Time to finish getting ready! Dress is from Express. I snatched it when they had their big 40% off sale about a month ago!

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I was able to wear my wedding shoes for the first time since the actual wedding! I was pumped about this.

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We had some extra time before our dinner reservation, so we put on the OSU game and then DJ graciously took selfies with me. He is such a trooper about that.

More time to kill…. more selfies… more filters… more proving that I fit into such a stereotype (eyerolllll) .** Also I need serious help in the hair curling department, I always just wand it because I can’t figure out how to curl. Yes, 22, and still don’t know how to curl my hair to this day.

Dinnerrr timeee! I was getting hangry. Poor guy. I got really upset about something random and small (and not worth getting upset about) and he goes, “Time for food!”. He knows me well.

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Our restaurant of choice was Perbacco. We had a giftcard for Open Table from DJ’s birthday and hadn’t used it yet since DJ was in law school during this time. **SUCH a great idea for a gift, I didn’t even know Open Table had giftcards!** This was the perfect occasion to save it for! It was within walking distance for us which was super convenient since them heels weren’t necessarily high on the comfort factor.

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They sat us quickly, but it was a bit too close for comfort between tables, & the waiting staff was not very amicable. I always try to give people grace on the holidays who have to work, because I get it! Not fun! A lot of the reviews on Yelp that I read after the fact said the same thing about the service, but that it was out of the norm for them, and usually it’s a wonderful experience. We’ll choose to believe that! 😉 Regardless, we were thankful for the time together and this meal in the first place <3

We started with the piastra roasted octopus which had olive oil crushed potatoes, garum vinaigrette, radish, and salsa verde. This was one of our favorites of the night. But, I do have to say, the Spanish Octopus from Marco Prime in Marco Island still takes the cake!

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Next we tried the Marinated King Crab with citrus burricota, shaved fennel and seasonal citrus. It was good, I’d give it a 7 on a scale of 1-10.

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I tried the Black Sea Bass “Alla Piastra” which had king crab and artichoke ragout and esplette-urchin butter. It was fantastic! I especially loved the large lentils.

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DJ had the Osso Buco “Milanese” with braised veal shank, roasted bone marrow, gnocci, and gremolata. DJ loved it! I had a nibble of the bone marrow gnocci and it was to die for.

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We usually are stuffed by dessert, but #NYE. We decided to try the dark chocolate bonet with pinot noir sea salt, sesame seeds, and crimson grapes. This was maybe the best part of the meal. It was exquisite. DJ isn’t a huge dark chocolate person, but he loved loved loved this.

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After dinner photo time!

…. No, DJ did not spill the bread dipping oil on his shirt… hehe … To be fair if it wasn’t gonna be him, it was gonna be me. I feel like I’m always eatin’ like a five-year-old, so he took one for the team tonight!

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After dinner we headed to Union Square. It was Lit. LITERALLY.

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Maybe the brilliance of the tree will outshine the shirt-spot?!

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Nope…lol. I think it’s quite endearing.

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We sought out our NYE party that I bought us tickets to a while back…have to complete the whole experience, ya’ know? We thought it was in the Westin in Union Square (but the place we were actually at was in the former Westin). We still grabbed a few pretty pictures of the Westin lobby while we were at it. Why not?!

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We then went and found our actual place (Park Central Hotel) and waited in line. Us, being the old farts we are, got there on the dime. (Don’t show up to these things on time because no one does). Aka fashionably late. It was so strange getting texts from all our family and friends at around 9 because back in Ohio/Indiana, it was midnight!!! It felt like we were stuck in the past a bit!

Could it be the stain has disappeared?!?

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Oh shoot, no, still there…

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Whoops- flash really magnifies that boogar!

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Soooooo we may or may not have stayed for a grand total of a half an hour before deciding we were pooped and still trying to fight jet-lag and justified leaving with tons of other reasons. We Ubered back to the hotel, got in our comfy clothes, ordered desserts, and watched Netflix. Now that’s what I’m talking bout’! I may or may not have fallen asleep before midnight … I think that’s the first time that’s happened since I was like.. eight. (BUT I did make it midnight east coast time).

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DJ kindly woke me up when the fireworks started outside our window over the Bay Bridge. It was an all-time fireworks display. I was thrilled that we had such a cozy seat for the show!

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Happy New Year from Us to YOU!!!

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Shoot, this post was not as short as I thought. Oh well! Thanks for reading.

xo <3

Mack

Fort Worth, TX Recap!

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

Thursday (12/15)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday (12/20)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday (12/21)

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

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Followed by shenanigans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In the afternoon I ran a couple errands with Mama Jill

You know you are in Texas when…

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That afternoon we had apps round two!

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

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We also had stuffed vegan acorn squash with fresh cranberries!

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My mom also made regular meatballs for Pete

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Isn’t she darling?!

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a very Happy New Year,

xo <3

Mack