A Foxy Pup, an Ice Cream Battle, & Recyclops!

Hi, Lovies!!! I don’t have a super eventful update— but as always, I want to reflect on the hum drum and find the highlights, you know, find those doggone silver linings (they are there, I promise!). First, I am SO excited to say I have officially submitted my first grad school application. It was a DOOZY. It’s (maybe) my first choice, but I am very confused about the whole decision. I’m applying to schools across the country (and many online schools that pair you with a nearby hospital). I just pray that God will make it clear where we should be. I love California; I love it so dearly, and I love our life here. But we also LOVE exploration  and when else will we have this flexibility to just get up and go (cough cough… kids…..), so who knows… but I don’t know that we can imagine leaving here yet. I don’t know! I guess we will see! Nothing will happen until next fall, so I’m hoping all things will just fall in place the way they should.

Just a little context, I’m sitting here this Sunday evening with my mint chocolate chip ice cream, a glass of cabernet sauvignon, and NYC Housewives playing on the laptop (Uhm, Aviva- take a chill pill girlfran’). I don’t have the GRE or November application deadline hanging over my head (although I have about three more coming up in November- March), but for today, we will relish in the moment. DJ has the World Series playing in the background, and things feel actually OK at this second.

I think we left off right after the GRE. I went back to work for a few days, and DJ headed to Ohio! I wish I could have went back, but work owns me. I am thankful he had such a fantastic weekend with his family, but I am honestly a bit jealous because I miss them all terribly.

On Saturday, October 21st, my dear fran Sara, (you may remember this chica from here, here, and here), stopped by to hangout and catch up while DJ was spending his last day in Ohio. We decided to go to Steins for an appetizer and a drink to catch up!

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The waiter brought us the cutest little mini beer mugs to try their featured sour flavor. It was cute, but wayyy too sour for our liking. Plus neither of us are big beer guys.

We tried a recommended featured cocktail with capurro pisco (not sure what that is), but it ruined the flavor. We were not fans of this cocktail. However, their beer garden cooler was delish and refreshing. Highly recommend if you end up finding yourself here.

Also, highly, HIGHLY recommend their truffle fries- TO. DIE. FOR. Perhaps the best truffle fries ever. I think the only other ones that contest were the ones in Santa Cruz.

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ANNNDDD Sara surprised me with Foxy Lady (that’s literally her name) (you may remember her from this post). I was ecstatic. I just love this pup so much.

Sara cracks me up when she has Foxy do her dance.

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When Foxy wants her tummy scratched in the hallway, she will not take no for an answer.

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Cutest little pumpkin <3

We hung out, laughed, had an aggressive battle with a Talenti gelato mint chocolate chip pint (if you follow me on Instagram @ __mackenzie.marie__ you probably saw) and chatted until about 11 pm.

We literally wrestled with a Talenti container for probably twenty minutes. We tried EVERYTHING from knives, to rubber twist jar openers, and finally rubber oven mitts….it was a scene. Beware the Talenti.

Anywho, It was such nice, much needed girl time!!!

On Sunday October 22nd, I woke up bright eyed and bushy, but realized I didn’t have yogurt for my toast. I panicked, but no worries- there is a Target just down the road. I picked up my coffee mug (didn’t even bother putting it in a tumbler) and headed to Target to snag some yog. I know all the workers, considering I stop by there nearly every day, so they didn’t blink at me showing up disheveled with my half finished cup of coffee and zombie affect. It happens more than I probably should admit. After I was all caffeinated, I zoomed to pick Deej from the airport!

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When we came home, DJ had to whip off to work for a couple hours. When he came home, we decided we were in the mood for some lunchy brunchy food. We have been wanting to try out the local Bob Evans (Aka Holder’s Country Inn). It received great reviews on Yelp, and it sounded like the perfect Sunday afternoon meal.

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I had their veggie scramble with egg whites, peppers, mushrooms, salsa, and avocado. Every ingredient was immensely fresh and satisfied the craving to a tee.

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DJ tried their pancakes… now, if you follow along, DJ is on the hunt for the best pancake. So far the best ones we have found in the area are Bobbie’s. They have yet to top the Bellagio’s from Las Vegas, or his mom’s (DUH!).

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He also had the country fried steak with eggs. Doesn’t get more Bob Evans-ey than this, folks.

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After we returned home, I decided to take advantage of the glorious day and go for a nice jog outside.

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The leaves are changing, the colors are vibrant, and the weather is finally cooling its jets (it has been ridiculously hot here). When I came back home I whipped up my new absolute favorite meal. I was going to wait until a Friday Faves, but I can’t. It’s too good!

My all time favorite potato is the sweet purple white potato (purple outside, white inside). It actually has more antioxidants than a regular orange sweet potato, and I swear tastes better. You can find different varieties- some have a white colored inside, and some have a vibrant purple.

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I stir fry together white onion, mushrooms, Lightlife tempeh, and eggplant with liquid aminos.

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Once it’s all caramelized and the sweet potato is cooked to tenderness, I stuff the tater! So easy, so absolutely delicious, satisfying, and high in protein/complex carbs.

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And the caprese salads are still going strong for DJ!

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He and I have not been able to do many of the “fall activities” this year ( cue melancholy soundtrack), but I have been listening to a plethora of crime podcasts, have eaten an embarrassing amount of candy corn, and we watched Cropsey together on Amazon prime over the course of a few days. SOooOOO sort of taking advantage, yah?

I even found this wine to accompany the documentary  because it seemed appropro. DJ always laughs at how excited I get about the “idea” of something.. I like things to be themed, anyone else feel meh?! Why just watch a crime documentary when you can watch a crime documentary with CRIME wine on the heels of listening to crime podcasts in the midst of Halloween hype?! PS. Documentary was tremendous.

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And I mean these socks are basically me after a couple shifts so… had to invest..

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We both worked Monday October 23rd, but the 24th I picked up my bridesmaid dress for the November wedding (EEEK!!!!), and then later in the day grabbed a massage (much needed). There was a $30 off coupon online for a super nice salon in Sunnyvale. I jumped on it, and enjoyed every stinking second of that massage.

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After the massage, I stopped by Safeway to pick up my Ice Cream (Oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough….. it says limited edition but I’m convinced I am keeping them single-handedly in stock). I also stumbled upon this RXBar. Mint chocolate chip you say?!? Yesss sirrr-eeeee.

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I still prefer the Chocolate sea salt, but I see they now have pumpkin and maple. Uhm, yuhm. I need to hunt those down!

On Wednesday, the 25th, and Thursday the 26th, I buckled down on my application. I spent the full days slaving over that booger. It was in-stinking-tense. I definitely needed a break to clear my head… this called for an extra long run, which turned into an impromptu half marathon. #procrastinationnation.

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And on the heels of any long run, candy corn is EXTRA necessary.

Later in the day I stocked up on groceries for the next few days from Sprouts Farmers Market. This is one of my favorite grocery stores around.

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^^This is as close as I got to a pumpkin patch this year.

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In the evening, I decided I needed some sushh. It has been a hot minute!!! I went for my go-to sunset roll with unagi, ahi tuna, and lemon with a side of wakame salad and extra ginger.

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I worked Friday and Saturday. Friday morning was bad, bad, bad. BAD BADDDDD. First, I was out of coffeee (nough said, right?). I drove to work early so I could make a cup, and when I checked my phone, it said my time off request for the wedding the end of November was NOT approved. A few months ago I had a face to face conversation with my manager confirming that it wouldn’t be a problem. So now.. I panicked, the anxiety set in, I couldn’t see straight. I started bawling in the bathroom before my shift. I quickly messaged her explaining I had already bought the plane ticket and told the Bride I could be in the wedding based on our conversation. I spent the whole morning sick to my stomach, holding back tears, and gritting my teeth through my assignments. Halfway through the day she e-mailed back saying it was approved, she just had to go back and adjust the way it was formatted in our system. I have never been so relieved. I cried again— tears of relief. I was a MESS. I would not have made it through the morning without the support from my family who sent scripture and prayed over the situation when I frantically filled them in before the shift began. Thank you Jesus for answering that prayer. I still take deep breaths just thinking about it.

But on a much brighter note….. .on Saturday the 21st, DJ headed to his family’s for a costume party. I was bummin’ I missed it this year. You can check out the post from last year if you would like 😉 Our costumes were certainly something! Haha. This year DJ was Recyclops from the Office! He nailed it. The rest of the family’s costumes were amazing too. I wish I could have been there to see them in person!!

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Sunday (the 22nd) I accidentally slept in wayyyyy too late after working all weekend. Whoops. I can’t interact with anyone the day after working a few in a row and my body cannot physically function. I get in a fuzzy funk from the exhaustion and move the pace of a sloth. I decided to wake up my body with a run before finishing up my application.

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It was perfectly brisk, with cloudy skies, and the weather finally exuded those autumnal feelz <3 I love LOVE cloudy Sundays. Sundays in the fall are the ultimate relaxing day after Church, naps, football, and candles. A cloudy day just enhances the whole experience and I feel like “gives me permission” to be lazy.

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One of the houses along my run had a little garden out front and was growing butternut squash(es), squash? I think just squash. Can you say #GOALS?!

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I also saw this beautiful flower and couldn’t help but snag a picture. Is it weird that I thought of a Punnett square when I saw the unusual distribution of colors?! I will always be a bio nerd at heart.

For dinner, we tried the Daiya vegan Margherita pizza. Not only does DJ love the Vegan burgers, but now is on board with the vegan pizza. He said it was easily just as tasty as a regular one.

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And that’s a wrap! As I finish up this post, it’s actually morning now, I am sipping coffee, eating a protein bar and my toast, and for the first time in a LONG time I don’t have something hanging over my head for the day. I am gonna finish up my breakfast, go for a run, answer some blog comments, and read Harry Potter until my eyeballs fall out. Woohooo!!!!!

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xo <3

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The Most Refreshing Avocado Smoothie

I am a creature of habit.

So when I change up those habits, it’s a big deal!

For the longest time, those that follow along know I have had a slice of toasted Ezekiel bread with greek yogurt and strawberries on top for breakfast.

But then one day I created this gem, and since I have had this smoothie nearly everyday! It’s beyond refreshing, smooth, and creamy. Additionally, it fills me up for those first couple hours starting off long nursing shifts, and the healthy fats give me all the brain power (I also love pairing this with my oatmeal protein PB breakfast cookies, which I will share soon!).

My sister was super skeptical if she would like this when she visited, but she absolutely loved it. After a day or two she was also craving them! I promised her and a couple others I would share the recipe soon. And per everything I share- it’s so easy!

Grocery List:

  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 1/2 of 5.3 oz Toasted Coconut Vanilla yogurt (Dannon) container or 3 TBSP of plain greek yogurt
  • 2 oz. coconut water
  • 2 oz. milk of choice (I use cashew or an almond/coconut blend)
  • 1 packet Stevia
  • 4-5 ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Put it all in a blender (or Ninja), and blend that sun of a gun.
  2. Enjoy!

Nutrition:

Calories: 181

Fat: 11g

Potassium: 572.5

Carbs: 14g

Sugars: 7g

Protein: 8g

Enjoy!

xo <3

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The Cherry Capitol- TC, MI!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Are pant-suits back in style yet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you more falafel waffles than you can handle,

xo <3

Mack