Kels and Kenz Take on the Bay Part 2: Wine Country

Happy Sunday! I’m actually writing this late Saturday night, but let’s be real, this will not be published till Sunday (or Monday) by the time I write, re-read, edit, re-re-read, edit edit, re-re-re-read, then publish (and still find countless errors after the publication-tehe).

In Part One, we left off ending Friday night on the Row with one of my best friend’s, Kelsey from Illinois. On July 28th, I woke up at the wee hours to squeeze in a run, then at 730 am we left the apartment, drove an hour into the city, lucked out with some great parking in Union Square, walked about a mile to the Ferry Building, and arrived right on time to start the journey to wine country!!!

Upon walking to the Embarcadero, we saw this fun little massive waterfall art piece that I’ve never noticed before. I’ve been to the city probably at least fifteen times, but how have I missed this giant thing?

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We signed up for a trip through wine country via Platypus Tours. For those deciding how to visit Napa/Sonoma I want to give great detail about this tour so you can decide if this is a way you would like to tackle wine country! When I found this tour I happily astounded by the price. It was only $110 per person for the entire day, including four wineries, lunch, and discounted tastings and wine tours. (Each winery tasting ended up being about $15 including the winery tour at the first winery, and Kels and I split a couple tastings which also cut down on the cost). The reviews were terrific so we decided to give it a go! This tour required us to be in front of the Ferry Building at 8:45 am to jump on the tour bus that would take us to the wineries.

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The morning went seamlessly- no traffic, easy parking, and it was a breeze finding our tour bus for the day.

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Before getting on the bus, we went to the guest services area in the Ferry Building to grab our tickets to take the Ferry back from Vallejo after our tastings (only $14 per person).

We then walked around enjoying the Ferry Market with a few minutes to spare (yes – minutes to spare in the morning! Can ya believe it?!)

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We were the first to arrive, so we tested out the seats. The bus was comfortable, a good size for the number of people, and stocked with plenty of water.

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I had read online that you can request which wineries to visit or make a request to try different wineries than you have already visited. Our wine tour guide, Bob, already had a set agenda for the day- but it worked out because the wineries were VERY unique and none of us had been to any of them before. Bob was knowledgable and worked hard to make sure we had a great day.

Our first stop was Nicholson Ranch.  This is one of the first wineries you encounter when driving into the southern foothills of Sonoma. I remembered passing it when going to wine country for the first time in March with my Mom & Pete!

We all shuffled into the tasting room, and had a glass awaiting us of their Chardonnay.

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I usually do not like Chardonnays (it’s the oaky finish that I tend to have an aversion to I’ve discovered), but every time I have sampled one in wine country, I have enjoyed them!

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I love watching their beautiful pours!

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This is the winery we were given a full tour of the winery… it’s originally $40 a person, but with our tour, it was included in the tasting price of $15. We initially went up a mountain along their vineyard and were greeted with tremendous views and a pretty awesome dumpster. (Never thought I’d ever say that sentence).

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We then walked down into the actual factory and saw the wine vat. We were given a fantastic educational session that blew our minds with how wine is actually made. I guess you will have to go yourself to find out 😉 Ok, or google. I guess google would work too. But this is way more fun! Lol.

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We then all took the elevator into the basement. We walked around in the surprisingly humid cellar. I was amazed by the number of barrels. But I was even more shocked by the price of each barrel. Anyone have any guesses?

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Answer: Each barrel costs $2000, and must be replaced every 5 years. Can you imagine?!?! Sheesh!

After our fabulous cellar session, we went to another hidden cellar room containing the oldest wines in the winery. The wine in the forefront of the photo is the VERY first wine ever made by the owner of Nicholson ranch (which was originally started in a garage).

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And finally, we moved into a gorgeous dining room for our final tasting.

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Kels and I pulled out our vegan cheese, crackers, sun-dried tomatoes, and hummus that we had packed for the day (it was about 11:30 am at this point and the hunger was starting to kick in!). I love packing cheese and crackers for winery tours, it enhances the experience and helps bring out flavors in the wines (especially the heavier ones). We shared our grub with our new friends we had made on the tour, and they couldn’t believe the cheese was vegan (I’ll share it in a Friday Favorites!).

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How freaking beautiful is she?!!

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After Nicholson ranch, we headed to Kieu Hoang winery. This is actually a winery that was originally a Mondavi winery (which is a pretty popular wine you may recognize in your local grocery store). I love the Robert Mondavi Cabernet you can just buy at Target!

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This winery was absolutely the most contemporary designed winery I have ever seen. Everything was immaculate and punctiliously designed. Yet, it clings onto the traditional Napa ambiance when you step onto their quaint porch.

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And these were the views..

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The woman serving was slow & less than knowledgable about the wine, but when we tried the zin we knew we had stumbled upon something special. Goodness. It was soooo good- the only Zin I have had that maybe is better is the one from Rombauer (to this day, I am still convinced Rombauer has the best wines!). Anyways, if you buy a bottle, they waive the tasting fee, so this bottle was essentially $10. How can you pass that up?! We grabbed a bottle to take home and enjoyed a small tasting with our lunch!

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This was one of the first wineries we have been able to actually go the actual vineyards. It was charming, delightful, scenic and all things “vineyard”. We decided to do a little photo shoot because wine not?!

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Winery numero tres, Bouchaine Vineyards! This one probably left the least impression of all four, but was wonderful nonetheless.

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This winery was much tinier than the other two we had visited, but was quiet, relaxing, and had phenomenal wines.

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Surrounded by their gorgeous gardens (Somewhat reminding me of Frog’s Leap) we enjoyed perhaps the best Chardonnary we have ever had- although I did LOVE the one we tried at Ledson. It left a  buttery note. I finally understood what people meant by “buttery” by trying this wine. I should have taken a picture of the list so I could tell you which it was, but I failed! I should know butter by now! 😉

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anddd maybe the most FUN of the whole trip- we ventured to our fourth winery… The Runway- Trending Wine Bar.

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Initially when they said our fourth winery was at an airport I was skeptical. An airport? Really? That doesn’t exactly scream “Wine Country” to me. Did another winery fall through? I was soooo cynical going into it, but not rightly so. Ohhh so not rightly so! It may have been our favorite part of the day.

We arrived at the winery and were greeted by Jason, the ultimate wine entrepreneur. He created a brand of wine around the hashtag, and actually owns the #besties, #bromance, and #selfie. (yes, the actual #). All millennials are #impressed right now.

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Everything is centered around the #… down to the logo on the wine glasses! Tell me you have never seen a more brilliant marketing idea!

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Every single wine was delicious, and Jason had us rolling- the whole time we were laughing and enjoying the very Grammy-esque backdrop for a photo shoot!

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I was flattered when this was posted on Trending Wine’s Instagram! Taking a selfie with the #selfie wine.

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Never have I ever been more basic, errrr, I mean awesome, right?

After, we went our to the tarmac to witness the planes taking off & coming in, waiting for a celebrity to disembark one. Celebrities frequent this airport, and we were keeping our eyes peeled for Matthew McConaughey sightings. (no such luck, but regardless we had a great time).

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We ended the fab trip by getting a photo all together.

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Time for the Ferry ride back!!

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Just keeping baby Zin nice and safe <3

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And we back!!! The ride back was about 45 minutes. It was so relaxing, but unfortunately the fog was so thick (dangit, Karl!) that we didn’t get the best of views.

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Annnnd that caps our day until about 6 pm. I will pick up in our next post to recap our evening. It will definitely require a post of it’s own!

And to quickly give a synopsis on pros/cons for those that are considering this tour!

Pros: This was a very friendly & accommodating company- immediately when I booked they called us to clarify our dietary preferences to make sure lunch had options for both of us. Price is phenomenal for included transportation, four wineries, a delicious lunch included. You get to see & do wineries you may not venture out to do on your own. Water bottles are included. You make friends and meet people from all over the world. It’s stress free, ya just show up and have a great time!

Cons: Limited flexibility in choosing of the wineries. If you are a newbie, this is a great way to do it because you have no expectations of what to expect/nothing to compare it to. We did feel rushed at times because we were on a specific time schedule to catch the Ferry back. When you go on your own, you can take your good ole’ time at each winery as you please. There is a $15/$20 tasting fee at each winery if you choose to do that (but with the tour we were given the lowest possible price).

Let me know if you have any questions or need recommendations for wine country! I have a bunch.

Questions for you!

  • Have you ever been to Wine Country? Any all time favorites or must do wineries?
  • If you like wine, which type is your favorite?

xo <3

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Home Sweet Second Home: TC Michigan

Hey hey! Where to begin?!?! The last few weeks have been non-stop and filled with unforgettable times. I have mentioned this before, but I started this blog as sort of a journal to record special memories, adventures, and moments. These next few posts probably will contain details that seem extraneous, but are momentous to me- so as always feel free to skim where you see fit 🙂 I start graduate school in just a couple weeks so I am soaking up these precious moments of spending time with family and friends before 3.5 years of grinding through the books commences.

I think it is going to take me all of August to recap these adventures, but I am biting at the bit to share all the fun times and a crazy amount of good eats. I can’t wait to catch up on your lives as well!

So let’s begin with my first trip to Traverse City, Michigan to celebrate my Grandpa’s birthday!

Traverse City, Michigan is known as the Cherry Capitol of the World, but to me it is much more. It is the place growing up where I spent many weeks of the summer on the water, and many winters on the slopes. My grandparents live there (as do my Aunt and Uncle now too!). My mom’s side of the family all grew up there so it is home to a big chunk of the fam.

Unfortunately, DJ couldn’t go with work, but he was very missed. To prepare to return to my second home, I packed a ton of food for the airplane.  I packed boom chica pop, a sweet potato with a black bean chipotle burger and hummus, tomatoes, carrots, grapefruit, an apple, almonds, and a ton of protein bars. (I put the perishables in my lunch box that I once included in my Friday Faves). I hate spending an arm and a leg in airports, so this was perfect! I ended up spending $15 total for the trip all on liquids- a coffee, a vitamin water, and a regular water.

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I headed out on July 19th. After going through TSA, I found an outlet friendly seat and blogged a bit while sipping on my cafe au lait & munchin’ on my protein bar.

Everything went super smoothly (initially). I even did a free trial of CLEAR through TSA- which was effortless! If I traveled more often I would totally do it permanently. Highly recommend.

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You will get a kick out of this. I had been desperately trying to finish the fourth book of HP (as you probably know)….. welll, I literally did not have five extra seconds to finish the dang thing so I quickly screen shotted each page so I could finish it while traveling. The ending was a page turner! (below is the screen shotted frame of all my individual screen shots on my camera roll, lol). So, yes— I am officially done with The Goblet of Fire- ya proud?!

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Anyways, while sitting on the Tarmac for over 30 minutes, the pilot finally said in that pilot’s voice “Uhhhhhh folks, if you have a connection, uhhhhhhh, you may want to make other arrangements.  Uhhhhhh looks like we won’t be getting off the tarmac for a while. Uhhhhh”. He said we were free to get off the plane at that time. I figured I would just grab a hotel near O’Hare’s airport rather than rescheduling my whole trip. While waiting, I was so grateful for all my snacks! I feel like I ate the whole flight.

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As we were getting close to landing in Chicago, I thought, “I could really still make this connecting flight!!” The connection was set to leave by 9:30 pm. Boarding ended at 9:00 pm. The pilot said to make sure to let those with connections into the aisle right away. My neighbors were SO friendly, and were cheering my on to make my connection. I sprinted, legs burning, through the airport. I was that person- bags flying, limbs flailing… you know, that person.

I arrived to the gate at 9:12 pm (the terminal was totally on the other side of where we landed). Womp womp. I missed it by literally 12 minutes and could see my plane sitting on the tarmac. Sadly, I missed it by O’Hare…..

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I waited with all the others who missed their connections in the customer service line, absolutely sure that I was going to have to stay overnight. I was slightly excited to stay the night in Chicago, but also bummed that I wouldn’t make it sooner to see my family.

When I made it to the front finally, the customer service rep said there was one seat left on the American flight they would comp for free, but it was about to board. I hustled ran like a crazy maniac once again through the airport and arrived to H1B with one minute to spare. “Boards in 1 minute” displayed on the screen sent a wave of relief through me. I made it!

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Once I arrived finally at 12:30 pm, my momma took me to the 24-7 Meijer to get necessities that I wouldn’t have since my luggage was going to be a day late. It was one of those memories I will treasure, just the two of us in the quiet Meijer grabbing essentials while catching up while the rest of the town was asleep. I just love hanging with her- any time or place! After stocking up, we drove to my Aunt’s in Sutton’s Bay where we were staying for the week.

In the morning I had avocado toast on Dave’s bread with hummus and avocado & the BEST Tim Horton’s coffee. Someone knows me well and had the fridge stocked 😉

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After working out on Saturday the 20th, Momma bear and I went to Grand Traverse Bay Company to pick up a pie for my Grandpa’s B-day party.

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Once back to my Aunt Terry’s house, we got ready for dinner and soaked in the calming, gorgeous views. It feels like staying at a resort! (Oh also fun fact- this is where DJ purposed to me  & you may also remember one of my VERY first blog posts was a trip here).

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We then went from Sutton’s Bay to Traverse City where my grandparents live (and truly my second home through my childhood).

We greeted one another with tons of hugs and then finished getting ready for dinner.

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But always before dinner is cocktail hour at Gma’s and Gpa’s- which includes your drink of choice and grandma spoiled us with her famous cheesy crab english muffins and pretzels with cream dip. The cheese crab english muffins are pure magic, and I wish I could share them with you!

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And ALWAYS ALWAYS a blue cheese stuffed olive from grandpa. Any other blue cheese stuffed olive fans in the house?!

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We all went out to the deck to enjoy our drinks and apps.

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This is Halston (my sister) and Kevin (her boyfriend). Can ya stand it? Tooo cute.

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Sista sista

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For dinner there were ribs, refreshing coleslaw, my grandma’s famous three bean salad, and mashed potatoes. My mom made her and I seitan ribs since we don’t eat meat- it was PHENOMENAL.

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And of course- dessert. Key lime pie…. (yummers)

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And chocolate mousse pie.yumyumyum.

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My Uncle Jeff from Asheville & I. <3

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It was such a lovely evening.

In the morning of July 21st I used Aunt Terry’s gym to do a nice 6ish mile run while reading Sharp Objects. Gosh, Gillian Flynn is a truly adroit writer. The book is undeniably dark, but goodness the storyline is tremendous & well written.

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We all got ready for the BIG day- my Grandpa’s bday party. Get a load of this living room. *heart eyes*

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The food was on another level. I mean this would out-do most restaurants. The smoked salmon is something I still dream about.

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Time for photos! I took an asinine amount, so I kindly narrowed them down to just a few, haha.

My sister, Halston, and her bf Kevin. <3 My favorite couple

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My mom and I

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My stepdad, Pete, and Grandpa!

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The gang – just missing Deej

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The girlies! My mom, me, Halston, Aunt Terry (Left to Right).  Can ya tell we’re related? Haha.

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And the man of the hour with our Grandma surrounded by all their good friends <3. These two role model what it means to have a beautiful marriage and relationship.

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Family picture!

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My sister, Uncle Jeff, and I <3

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Me, Halston, Aunt Terry and Uncle Jeff & Kevin (LOL). This picture kills me every time.

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They had such a lovely little bar area & set up for the party too.

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My Aunt even made cucumber lemon water. She so effortlessly hosts the best parties!

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Before eating we said a prayer all together, and I read a poem to my Grandpa for his birthday. It was easy to write because he is one of the best individuals I have ever known, along with my grandma <3

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After these special moments, time to eat!!!

A bowl of carbs is just a bowl of happiness

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Below is an avocado salad my momma made that was one of the most refreshing, delicious, tasty concoctions ever. SO good.

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Annnnd it wouldn’t be a party without my Grandma’s famous potato salad. Good lawwwd.

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My Uncle Pat went above and beyond with this steak. I didn’t try any since I don’t eat meat- but it looked pretty darn perfect!

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LOVED this cake <3 My grandpa loves to mow the lawn, so this was just perfect. Haha.

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These two . CAN. YOU. STAND. IT. ?!

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We finished the evening with the delicious key lime pie from Grand Traverse Bay company. Seriously the best key lime pie I have ever had.

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It was an spectacular day, and a stunning evening.

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I will recap part two of the trip soon!

Questions for youuuu!

  • Blue cheese stuffed olive fan?! Yay or nay?
  • Where is your “Second home”?
  • Have you been to TC, Michigan?

xo <3

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A Corgi & A Cat Fight

Hey y’allll! I am hardcore putting on the “y’all” draaaawwwwn out in a southernly manner because I have Southern Charm on in the background and it only seems appropriate. I have finally jumped onto the bandwagon. Man, this drama just cracks me up. But I do love the peek into the Southern way of life! Any other watchers?

So let us begin this riveting recap, starting with Saturday July 7th. I woke up early and ran a breezy four miles before driving to San Jose to meet up with my sweet friend Julie from church.

We decided on Academic Coffee, and it’s maybe some of the best local coffee I have tried yet!

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It’s such a cute little unassuming place, but is bright, clean, and welcoming!

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Over some great conversation, Julie and I shared the matcha muffin and the mochi muffin that they sell from Third Culture Bakery in Oakland.

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The matcha muffin was just aiiight, but the Mochi muffin was out. of. this. world. It is the yummiest, most satisfying muffin I have had with coffee. I am on a real mochi kick, and I don’t see it settling down any time soon! (thanks for that, Tam!).

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The rest of the day Saturday I did some deep cleaning in the apartment, finished up some laundry (I feel like every day is laundry day), and then started a new book- Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. It’s fascinating so far, but pretty dark, so I have had to be in the mood to read it, ya know? And noooo, I still haven’t finished the fourth book in the HP series (1.5 years later….). Next week I will finish it- hold me to it!

On Sunday morning, the 8th, DJ had a little bit of time before work to grab breakfast, but not quite enough time to go to Church. We decided to scarf some grub down together since we hadn’t seen each other in over a week since Ohio. I figured I could catch the sermon next day on the podcast at least!

We tried out a new spot in SJ called The Breakfast Club at Midtown. We have heard tremendous things about this place, and it certainly lived up to the hype.

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I was craving (and I mean CRAVING) lemon ricotta pancakes, and thankfully they had them. I started salivating like a dog when they placed them in front of me. These are my favorite pancakes we have tried in the Bay Area so far. Not even a question. (DJ’s favorite are from Sweet Maple SF).

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Deej had their famous chicken and waffles. Isn’t it so cute how they serve it with a little watermelon wedge? It’s the little things. And I guess it’s the big things- because if they didn’t have those cakes…….

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I did Insanity in the afternoon and had plans with a friend to hike in the afternoon that fell through. Oh well! I ended up just resting, reading, and stocking up on groceries for the week (Trader Joe’s! Trader Joe’s!).

On Monday the 9th, I went on a nice long run in the AM and continued to blog in the morning while enjoying a poached egg over avocado toast.

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I worked on stuff for grad school scheduling the rest of the day then DJ came home right on time to view Bachelorette since they didn’t have a game! Woot woot! Naturally I whipped up our cookies (and one Mega cookie) to enjoy with the show. I prefer Mega, DJ goes with the smaller ones. (peep the pronoun because Mega is a member of the family).

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We so severely undercook our cookies, it’s a surprise we haven’t gotten salmonella yet.

After throwing a fit about Becca’s reaction to Colton’s “news” (What the heck, Becca?!?!), we called it a night. Other Bachelorette watchers- let us discuss.

Tuesday the 10th, DJ had the day off!!! WOOOHOO! We had a nice lazy morning, I made breakfast for us and then did Insanity. I read on the couch while he played video games for a couple hours, and it was so nice… we haven’t had just a lounge day together in SO LONG. In the evening, we met up with Amy, his twin sister to get in some bowling. We haven’t been bowling in forever, but it was wayy too hot outside to do anything out in the wild, so we decided to go with something a bit cooler.

This bowling alley is within walking distance from our house, and we have never been! Time to finally try it out!

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This was the COOLEST bowling alley we have ever been to. It was super nice, clean, did not reek of cigarettes (I feel like most usually do?), had a huge arcade, and even had a gorgeous full bar. I couldn’t get over the decor!

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We concluded that bowling is not our sport, hung up the bowling shoes, and headed to dinner.

We went to San Pedro Square as I mentioned in my Friday Favorites. Gosh, I love love loved this place!

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I’d briefly been to B2 Coffee which is connected to the Public Market, but have never explored. This place is like one massive food court, with everything you can imagine. Italian? You got it! Chinese? You bet! Good burgers? Mmmhmm! Indian? Always! Mexican? Sushi? Potato Bar? The darn sky is the limit!

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I decided on some sashimi from Blush Ice Bar. It took me way too long to decide on what to order, and honestly this whole place is just one big black hole for the indecisive.

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We grabbed our grub and headed outside. That sashimi hit the spot on the hot hot summer day, and I could seriously eat seaweed salad for days on end. Never gets old.

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DJ had the chicken tikka masala from Urban Momo…. I tried some of the sauce, and we both agreed it is the best masala we have ever tried. It was sooo dang creamy.

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After dinner, we decided to grab a glass of wine at Rootstock on Main Street Cupertino. Amy brought her Instagram famous corgi, Pool Noodle, along. He is such a hoot– if you like Corgi’s, or you’re a normal human being that likes furry things and witty captions, his handle is poolnoodlethecorgi .

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On Wednesday the morning of the 11th, I received a nice surprise in the mail— A replacement pair of Brooks Ghost 10s. It’s Christmas I tell ya, Christmas! I haven’t replaced my shoes since February and am loooong overdue. My knees have been aching and my shin splints are coming back- tell tale sign that I needed new ones. Feels like running on a cloud.

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I have also been going on a ton of walks lately in the evenings after dinner. With DJ being at work most nights, it gives me a way to preoccupy my time. I turn up a podcast and take in the beautiful views of the sun setting!

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This one took my breath away.

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Thursday the 12th, I worked on grad school prep. I tell ya what- I have discovered I am bad bad bad at technology (well I’ve already known this, but now it is reaffirmed). This whole online thing is definitely gonna be a learning curve!

In the evening I worked on my Friday Favorites post so I could have it posted in a timely manner (‘magine that!).

Friday the 13th (wooooooooOOOooOOooo), I did a master clean out of the rest of our clothes, and I took some to Plato’s Closet and then posted the rest on Poshmark.

In the evening, I made a giant veggie salad for myself and bison tacos for DJ for when he came home. He usually gets home around 10:45/11 (sometimes later), but he’s always starving for dinner. I try to have something in the fridge waiting for him- it’s sometimes a makeshift meal, but he said these were “Soooo goood”. His words, not mine 😉

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Yesterday, Saturday the 14th, was a pretty great day! All my friends were booked for the day, but I was itching to get out and about. I decided to try out the Los Altos Food and Wine Festival. Sometimes solo dates can be so enjoyable!

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This was the most sprawling arts festival I think I’ve ever been to! The energy was tremendous, and I was perfectly content just bouncing from tent to tent seeing the unique creations.

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If you did opt to try the wine, all you had to do was pay a flat rate for the glass, then go to each different winery tent to sample.

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I decided instead to try Garrett’s Lemonade and it hit the spot on this sweltering summer day.

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To occasionally seek respite from the heat, I would pop into the side stores. DJ is ADAMANT that we will never ever get a cat (he genuinely hates them, hahah).

But when I saw this little face in a pet store I almost forgot the loud resounding “NO” to bringing a kitty home. hehe.

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I couldn’t convince him, but I gave it my best shot! (I have his permission to post this)

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Womp Woooomp. Ya win some, ya lose some in marriage y’all! Once we have stable enough schedules we WILL be getting a pup 🙂 Now that we can agree on!

After the festival, I came home and had a giant veggie salad with half a mushroom burger. Then, I went to DJ’s bowling work event. I will recap last night and today (Sunday) in my next post.

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Do you guys ever go on solo dates?!

Are you a cat or a dog person? Both?

xo <3

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Avoca-JOES. Vegan Sloppy-Joes in Delicious Avocados!

Sloppy joes for many are associated with their childhood- the carefree days of summer, family BBQs, and just the “good times”. And really, who doesn’t love a good joe? Welllllll… I have a delicious, healthy, vegan recipe for you that will throw ya back to those times, but at the same time will fuel your health. A joe? And a healthy joe? I am avOKAY with that! Annnd this is carnivore husband tested + tried. Verdict: He LOVED them!

Grocery List:

  • 6 Avocados
  • Two 15 oz. cans (or 4 cups) of rinsed and dried cooked chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/3 medium red onion,diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, minced
  • 1 15-oz. can unsalted tomatoes with liquid
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 TBSP low sodium soy sauce
  • 1.5 TBSP Sriracha (omit if you don’t care for too much spice)
  • 1 TBSP all natural maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • Plain vegan yogurt (or plain greek yogurt if you are OK with straying from the 100% veg.)

Directions:

  1. Chill avocados in refrigerator (trust me- they are much better cool than room temp.) for a few hours.
  2. Cut in half & de-pit the avocados, and scoop out about 1/4″ of the center
  3. Dice garlic, mince red pepper and onion
  4. In a mixing bowl, mash chickpeas with clean hands or a fork into small chunks, set aside. (If you notice the skins falling off the chickpeas, just go ahead and pull them out of the mix & discard).
  5. Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.
  6. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent/garlic is fragrant.
  7. Add the bell pepper and mashed chickpeas; sauté for about two minutes
  8. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, soy sauce, Sriracha if desired, syrup, oregano, cumin, paprika, thyme, a touch of salt and pepper; simmer, stirring for about 15 minutes until heated through and thickened. (If it starts to stick too much, turn down heat a touch and add a little water to deglaze the pan).
  9. Scoop heaping 1/4 cup chickpea mix into avocados
  10. Serve immediately with 1/4 cup yogurt of choice!
  11. Bon appetite!

**Feel free to add the “joes” to a plain bun or butter lettuce wraps if you aren’t an avid-avo fan!

Nutritional Facts per 1/2 stuffed avocado: (makes about 12 halves).

Calories: 213

Fat: 10g

Carbs: 25g

Sugar: 4g

Protein: 7g

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xo <3

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What a Hoppy Easter!!!!

Happy Friday!!!

How’s it going? I hope all your Easters were egg-cellent!

Hospital orientation ended yesterday (WHERE DID THE MONTH GO?!). All we have now is one more entrance exam next week. This coming weekend is going to be the busiest yet- I work Friday- Sunday with one eight and two twelves. Right now I am taking a quick break from the studies to whip out a post!

Before I jump into the recap I have something tragic to share………..

The legendary red salad bowl is no longer with us.

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I realized that the “post 12-hour shift” time frame is very dangerous. Not only did I manage to break perhaps one of my most treasured belongings, but I also set a paper towel roll on fire, went to the store and realized I forgot my purse when about to check-out, and I used the word “one” instead of “won” incorrectly in my Friyay faves post. #Gotocollege.

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Does anyone else go into a hot panic when they find errors in their published posts?!? It happens to me every time!

BUT, in other news! I made the last Blue Apron meal in the delivery Friday, and it was out-of-this-world YUM! (PS. if you want a $30 discount off go to the bottom of my About page!).

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Also, that same day DJ and I were egged!!!…………….

Tell me this just isn’t the most clever Easter gift of all time!

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Has anyone had Cheryl’s cookies?! They are my favorite sugar/buttercream frosted cookies out there. It was the perfect treat after a long day. I also needed to carb up for a big run in the morning!

Saturday

I mentioned in my post last week how I was going to attempt 22 miles to see if I can physically finish the Big Sur marathon on the 30th. I hadn’t been training too seriously considering I didn’t know if my work schedule would allow me to run it. But the race happens to fall on a weekend when I don’t work!

The training run actually went surprisingly okay! I am getting giddy about the actual race! DJ isn’t able to make it with work, so I was planning on driving there solo. Howeverrrrr, my mom called me yesterday to say that she is actually able to fly in! EEEK! This made me happy to near tears. I haven’t seen her since Christmas and to have that support for the marathon means the world.

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And naturally, after those 22 miles, I have an abundance of blossoming flowers to share!!

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Saturday evening I had the second portion of the Blue Apron meal. Since the baseball season started, DJ has been getting home later- more about midnight now. I spent the evening cleaning the house, doing laundry, and getting organized for the crazy week that was about to ensue. But I had Sunday to look forward to because………..

EASTER EASTER EASTER! What a glorious day. HE IS RISEN!

This Easter was quite unusual for DJ and I. We usually celebrate in Ohio, but for the first time we were here on our own with no family- just the two of us. I actually was pretty dang emotional (lol, what’s new). It all made me super nostalgic for Easters past- thinking of the Sunday services with my family, the far too competitive Easter-egg hunts I had with my sister over the years, having leisurely afternoon spring runs on those Ohio trails, and visiting DJ’s family in the afternoon (oh, and of course, devouring Mom L’s strawberry pretzel salad). I just missed everyone horribly- to a new level since I’ve moved out here. But I was thankful we had our Church family to spend some time with in the morning. That helped a ton. Our church had a fun photo booth, Boba tea, and the best people you could imagine worshipping our Lord and Savior <3

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DJ went to Church to help set up at 5:00 am and I slept in a bit (Lord knows I needed it). After service DJ napped and I studied. It was raining outside, so it was the perfect day for naps and studies.

DJ has been fighting off allergies something horrible and wasn’t feeling pictures- but I still had to somehow document the Easter Sunday outfit, right?!

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I was itching to cook, but I simply didn’t have time with how much work I had to do for the week to come. We decided to go out instead and make it a date night. We haven’t seen each other much at all lately and our date nights just happen when we can snatch them now.

We settled on Alexander’s Steakhouse. We had been holding out for a special occasion, and I’d say there is no more perfectly special occasion than celebrating our Lord’s triumphant victory. We needed this romantic, quiet dinner to catch up on the last weeks happenings and to just be together. It was lovely, and I’ve reflected on that dinner every time I start to miss him throughout the week.

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Alexander’s is known for having some of the highest quality steak in the world called “Wagyu”. DJ didn’t try it this time, but it’s such delicate meat that they actually wrap it in linen. I found this hilarious.

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THE BREAD! Once again—-sprinkled with sea salt. Those little croissant things were our favorite.

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I decided to try a Himachi shot after scouring YELP for the “must haves”. It was good! It’s basically like taking a shot of sushi (no alcohol or anything- just fish and other stuff that I’m not sure… haha). I make it sound terribly appetizing, huh? I’m not sure I would go out of my way to order it again, but it was definitely worth the experience.

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And whenever octopus is on the menu……..

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This octopus was fantastic. But STILL, nothing tops Marco Prime’s spanish octopus in Florida. NOTHING.

We also tried their bone marrow after having that fantastic bone marrow at Orchard City Kitchen. If you’ve never tried bone marrow, you must. It is one of the most savory, umami flavors of all time.

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DJ ordered a Filet that he gobbled up real quick, so I’ll assume it was pretty great.

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I tried their featured seafood dish for the halibut.  MMMM mmm. So good.

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And we cannot forget the sides….Lobster truffle Mac & Cheese and Creamed Spinach. That lobster truffle mac and cheese may be one of my top five favorite foods I have eaten in my WHOLE life.

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Last, but certainly not least, we couldn’t walk away without dessert. We had their Matcha Cheesecake and, holy canoli, I must go back for more. DJ said he wasn’t going to have any because he was too full…. when he took his first bite he couldn’t stop. (JJ!!!!! We may need to stop in here for dessert when you visit!).

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But wait, it doesn’t stop there….

They brought out complimentary chocolates because when you give people free chocolate you win their heart. That’s why Olive Garden is so successful- the Andes mints (ok, the breadsticks may have a touch to do with it too).

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Oh, hello, complimentary cotton candy! I did not see this one coming. What is it with all the free cotton candy lately (reference to LA trip with my girls).

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That concludes our Easter Sunday

OH..before I forget! My sister-in-law’s Corgi, Pool Noodle, is in a big contest and is in ninth place! (Maybe you remember Noodle from the Christmas post?!). Anyway- I thought to myself, “Who better to ask than my amazing blogging Fam?!” If you have a moment PLEASE help her win! This is a huge deal for her little fur baby!

https://wyng.com/campaign/824307/entry/7148320

How are you all? Anyone feeling taxed lately?

Counting down to the first free day when I can sit down and catch up on your blogs too

Blog Birthdays:

Happy birthday to the make-up queen Sarah from Sarah’s Cup of Beauty on April 21st!!!! I’m so thankful for you, lady! <3

xo <3

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Sizzling eats, the Super Bowl, & Star Struck memories

HEY!!! Life truly feels like it’s been going > 100 mph this past two weeks. So. much. good., but SO much busy. I am coming to the realization that this may be the beginning of not blogging as frequently 🙁 Currently all my energy is being directed into memorizing the information in this little fellow…

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But whenever I do have the time, you can bet I will be catching up with ya’ll! I’ll still try to at least do update posts for the rents’ back in Ohio and Texas 😉 No worries, Mom(s), I’m not throwing in the towel yet!

So going waaAAaaaAAAyy back to February 1st! The night of my interview we met up with my brother in San Francisco. He lives in Ohio, but visits occasionally for work. It was much needed, especially to keep my mind occupied with awaiting “the decision” (barely more nail-biting than Bron Bron’s in 2010).. My sports junkies know what I’m talking about. Anyway, we met up at Osso in SF. It supposedly is the “greatest steakhouse” in the US. We justified the dinner by saying it would be a combination of getting the interview over with/potentially getting the job/belated birthday/”my bro’s in town” celebration. It was wonderful getting to catch up with my brother, even if briefly. We tend to see each other during the holidays or when I would stop by his house briefly in college, so having a quiet dinner just the three of us was a treat! Also, I think I can finally explain his complicated job title with confidence. The best part was hearing about the milestones my sweet niece is making and about how my nephew is becoming more and more engaged with the world around him brings me joy upon joy.

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Fun fact: I think I have a dress that matches this floor. Let me see if I can pull it from the archives.

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There it is! Who wore it better? Me or the floor? (This picture is from a cruise my mom, sister, and I went on together a few years ago).

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Now let’ s talk food…

Bread. Their bread costs 0.99. Yep, ninety-nine cents. We couldn’t figure this one out- but hey, if they want to nickel and dime us, that’s their business (literally). Worth every single cent.

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MUSSELS! The butter madeeee these suckers. Get in mah bellyyyy.

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Their “famous” asparagus soup. If you like asparagus, you will like this- super creamy and savory, but strong on the asparagus flavor.

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Scallops– melt in your mouth. BUT I will say I like Farallon’s better!

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I didn’t bother the boys for a picture of their steak. They said it was tasty, but a Fleming’s or Ruth’s Chris cut was better.

Conclusion: Come for the swanky, Gatsby ambiance, and great food- but don’t expect the absolute BEST steak of your life.

Thursday we went over another couple’s for dinner. My friend, Danielle, is known for her superb home baked bread. I am actually salivating thinking about it right now.

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She also made us lamb! I don’t usually eat meat, but I definitely had to try a bite of this. It was some of the most tender meat I have tasted. I haven’t had a real bite of meat in years, and if I was going to have some, I’m glad it was her cooking! The couscous and vegetables were cooked to absolute perfection. We had such a great time just chatting and are hoping to take a trip to Napa all together soon in the future!

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Friday I played catch up. I didn’t sleep at all that week and the house reflected my chaotic, non-focused state of mind. I did laundry, cleaned, responded to e-mails, and just tried to get a list together of everything I had to do. Deej and I went to Barnes and Noble AGAIN in the evening. Second time in like a month that we spent our Friday night looking through books. But gosh, we LOVE it. He found one he is already almost finished up with, and I scoured the shelves for a Neurosurgical Nursing book.(I didn’t end up finding any great ones, but Amazon came to the rescue 😉 ).

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Saturday morning I made Deej some chocolate chip pancakes and I made my banana oatmeal ones!

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I squeezed in a nice long run and then and then we went to one of our FAVES- Cheesecake Factory! One of the guys DJ works with got us a gift-card as a congratulations. It was the nicest thing. I was blown away. We couldn’t let that burn a hole in our pocket for long! AMIRITE?

Naturally— BREAD on BREAD on BREAD on WINE

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I love love love their tuna tataki salad. I usually like to try different entrees at restaurants, but I have a hard time veering from this one. Their vegan burger is amazing though too!

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DJ ordered their Mac n’ Cheese Burger- uh yeah… New levels

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Meal #2. We each ordered a slice of Oreo Dream X’treme. Our absolute favorite.

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We ordered the Salted Caramel and Vanilla Bean to-go. HOLY SMOKES. SOOO good!

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I definitely underestimated the vanilla bean. DJ and I both couldn’t get over how scrumptious it was. Several of you commented on one of my posts saying it was your favorite, and I was insistent that we had to get this. Jennifer in particular sold me on this gem! You guys did not lead us wrong! Another fun fact: I prefer my pieces of cheesecake frozen.When freezing the vanilla bean, the crust and cheesecake combo reminded me of cookie dough. MMM mmm mmm.

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After Cheesecake factory we walked around the mall for a little bit. They have a store called LoveSac. They have overly massive bean bag chairs basically and “sactionals” . Lol. The play on words.

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Sunday- C H U R C H. I’ve never really mentioned it before, but our church has it’s own brew of coffee called Apostle Coffee. So even if you’re not a church person, come on in for a great cup of joe (newcomers get theirs for free!) 😉

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In the afternoon I prepped for the Super Bowl! I’m sure many of you saw my loaded nachos recipe last week! I also made a margarita pizza for DJ for lunch, took beers and also Boom Chica Pop to the party. No one knew the difference! I’m telling ya- Boom Chica Pop is bae. <3 It’s better for you, but is absolutely delicious!

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I went to the Super Bowl party of a married couple friends of ours (Tammy & Ben). (DJ went immediately to his family’s, but I did halvsies in both places!)

Are they not the most amazing hosts ever?

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Also this turkey….

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And this beef… I told our host, Ben, that I don’t eat meat but this was making me rethink my decision!

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Catching Tammy in action!

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Monday and Tuesday I had to prep a ton of documents for the new job and start planning for orientation (all that jazzy jazz). Wednesday night I went with a few girlfriends Blue Mango for some sushiiiiiii!

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I liked the ambiance of this place. Service was horrendous, and they automatically include your tip on the bill (which explains the service). It took us probably a half an hour to even order then another 40 mins to get our food. BUT sushi is always worth the wait, isn’t it?

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Have you guys ever seen a sushi roll like this?! It was a fried dragon roll. I’ve never had “warm” sushi before, but it was insanely good. I need to take DJ to try this sometime!

Here’s another look up close in case you missed it 😉

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We then headed to Club Rodeo in SJ for a country concert!!! Chris Lane was the main performer proceeded by Russel Dickerson.

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​​


​I can’t emphasize enough how much fun we had. It was a blast. I am thankful to have found an awesome group of girls that I click well with too.

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Best part? Running into Ben Zorn from the Bachelor. HOLLAAAAAA. Night made. Also Clare was there (from Juan Pablo’s season), but she took off before the concert was over.


Blog Birthdays:

I’m a bit late but.. BIG Happy Birthday to

Jena C. Henry at Jenna Books– 2/6

Michael at F3foranswers 2/7

JL at JLstanding 2/9

Let me know if I missed ya, I’ll add you to the list. YOU deserve to be celebrated!

What are you all up to this weekend? Any big plans?

xo <3

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San Pedro Square Market & Sharks & Sushi!

Happy Wednesday, ya’ll (well probably Wednesday when you read this)!!!! This past week was pretty hum-hum except for a few fun highlights!!!

Last Monday (1/16) I went out with a friend I met at church to Bill of Fare in San Jose. This is one of my favorite breakfast/brunchy places. The options are endless, and the coffee is tremendous!!!!

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My friend, Dani, ordered their famous French Toast. She loved it, and I think the picture speaks for itself!

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I ordered their create-your-own egg white omelette. Technically, eggs aren’t allowed on the Daniel Fast, but I have been adding them in as a source of protein in my modified version. I had a ten-miler coming up that day, and I wanted to make sure I was nice and fueled up for that. I added garlic, spinach, artichoke, tomato, mushrooms, green onions, and avocado. It was a perfect veggie + protein packed breakfast to start the day. Next time I go back since I’ll be off the fast I will be trying one of their sweeter items- they all looked enticing!

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For dinner, I made edamame burgers with hummus over multicolored baby potatoes. I put these in front of DJ and he shouted with wide eyes “WHAT ARE THOSE?!” (Referencing the famous vine for those that don’t know). Anyway, these burgers turned out pretty darn well if I do say so myself! I was definitely unsure when experimenting, but we LOVED them! He said it was one of those meals he would eat outside of the fast. Once the interview process slows down and I have job security and all that jazz, I truly do want to share some of these recipes. At least I have a whole year until the next Daniel Fast to get them all compiled together…because it may just take that long 😉

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Monday night we decided to give Deej a haircut, but we started the trimmin’ wayy too close to the start of the Bachelor. Must have been feeling overly ambitious. So even though his head was only half done getting cut when the show started, we ran out into the living room to watch, then would run back into the bathroom to continue chopping the hairs at commercials, then would come back out when it started back up.

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I think we finished it up the whole cut by maybe five commercials? Ah, what we do to make sure we don’t miss a second of that show.Ha!

Tuesday I had coffee at B2 Coffee Shop in San Pedro Square Market with a friend. I thought I was getting over whatever terrible cold plagued me over the weekend, but I felt pretty wiped out again Tuesday.

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B2 has more of an open, industrial-chic feel than many coffee shops, and their coffee tastes of hipstered (probably not a word) perfection and free trade yumminess. In the evenings, the “Garage” turns into a bar. I have yet to visit for that- but I love the concept. The whole “Gimme coffee until it’s acceptable to drink wine” mantra fits well here. I’ve noticed this is sort of the new trend for modernized coffee shops. These types are perfect to meet with a friend because you don’t have to compete for a table, but when it comes to getting work done, I like to be in a smaller, cozier  space…. like… let’s say Peet’s 😉 Ya’ll know I’m obsessed and not even ashamed to admit it.

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I had an almond milk latte with cinnamon & honey. It warmed me right up- especially with not feeling great and all.

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My friend who recently moved here from Australia, Danielle, ordered a caramel latte. Both of us couldn’t help but snag plenty of pictures of this beauty. She also had a scone to accompany it. If that’s not a picture perfect breakfast, I don’t know what is!

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Even though I didn’t feel stupendous, we had such a good time chatting and I was thankful we both could spend this time together.

Throughout the week we were trying to use up the rest of the frozen fruit in the freezer. Breakfast was a fruit smoothie topped with chopped dates and coconut flakes many days. We also have been loving overnight oats!

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Tuesday night I made us chickpea & corn grit pizza with organic tomato based sauce, veggies, and tofu to act as the “mozzarella cheese”. It was a nice pizza fix. This is another recipe I’ll have to share when time allows!

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Lately I’ve been working at Peet’s on my interview questions/scheduling/meetings/misc. projects, and when I feel I need a break, I’ll do Postmates for a few hours. I LOVE it, and it’s an awesome way to make some extra money in your spare time! I will discuss it a bit more in my next post because I don’t want this to be outrageously long 😉 *Outrageously is the key word there. Just do not do Postmates in heels. Learned my lesson big time this week!

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Wednesday was a blast- I worked some with CityTeam in San Jose. I love the people who work there- they have the most giving hearts and love people tremendously. In the evening we had our Bible Study group, and even though I was like a zombie by this point in the week (the sickness was really taking a toll), it was much needed conversation and time with friends. <3

Thursday I met with my friend, Amy, for lunch at Whole Foods. On the way out, I grabbed a few groceries, and I could not pass up a purple cauliflower head. I decided to make my cauliflower mashed potatoes with the little guy and they tasted the same- but they were PURPLE. How fun is that?!

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It made a refreshing snack through the week- Dave’s toast//purple cauliflower//avocado.

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Thursday night I made the peanut crusted Tofu dish for dinner with edamame and refried beans.

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Friday was pretty uneventful, but I was feeling much better finally. I had a lot on the big “To-do” list to get done and DJ and I both opted to have a chill night. DJ has a new found love of reading lately so we went to Barnes and Noble to look for a book. GUYS. We have reached a new level of nerd-dom. Who goes to Barnes and Noble on a Friday night?!?!? Anyway, we decided once we got back we were more in the mood to watch a documentary on Netflix. (Oh, so you back out of reading the book and watch a documentary instead.. makes sense). It all sounds even more lame now that I’ve written it out.  ** Eye opening documentary B T Dubs**

No worries though, Saturday we came out of our little hermy shells. First I went to a consignment store by our home that buys clothes and accessories on the spot. I love thrifting, and this one is so much better than any of the thrift stores we had in Ohio. While I was waiting for my turn to sell, I perused the shop and stumbled across these….

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Now that deserves a ….

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In the evening we went to a San Jose Shark’s game! This was my first hockey game EVER, and I loved it! I loved how little the game is interrupted in comparison to most sports, and I’m not gonna lie, the level of physicality is super entertaining. Now I want to go to an MMA show or something. Anyone ever been?!

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We went with a friend who is visiting for a few months from Australia. Him and DJ work together in the church office, and I made us all get a selfie at the end of the game, because you know, it’s my job to make sure we get at least one selfie everywhere we go. He’s been telling us all about Australian lingo and food. Veggie mite anyone?!

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After the game was over we ran to the Express Target by our home to stock up on alllllllll the junk food because Sunday the fast was over!!!

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Also, what?!? Thin Mint Cereal?!^^^ HOW COOL!

Sunday when the fast was over DJ delved into a bowl of fruity pebbles for breakfast before Church.

We went to DJ’s little sister’s basketball game in the afternoon and she was BALLIN’! She has that basketball gene of DJ’s. Three 3s and a 2. I can’t help but brag a bit 😉 She scored more than I did during my basketball career in one game, and I played for eight years…. haha. (That’s why I stick to running ya’ll- my sister, Halston, stole all the athleticism).

For dinner we had a mish-mash of all types of yums, but then we made sure to get our fix of Sushi Monday 😉 This is one of the foods I missed most. We had a coupon to Kiku Sushi in Cupertino so have been wanting to try it for a while!

The waitress put us by the fish tank so that, “We would have something to talk about”. I think she thought this was a first date or something. Hilarious. She probably figured out we were pretty comfortable together once I took a big sip of DJ’s miso soup without asking him right when it was placed on the table.

Also, it’s a bit strange looking at live fish while eating sushi?! IDK. Maybe it’s just me. Hahaha. Overall, Kiku Sushi was delicious and the staff was incredibly friendly, but Yuki still is better in my opinion!

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DJ was feeling more of a hot meat dish than sushi- I don’t blame him. Boy has been deprived of meat for 21 days.

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Yesterday we both worked all day, had our sushi extravaganza, then came back and put our feet up for some Bachelor, cookies & mega-cookie, and wine (and ice cream that isn’t pictured 😉 ).

I tried to use my wine aerator for the first time that Halston gave me for Christmas. Apparently, you are supposed to put the aerator on the wine bottle. Whoops! Here’s a good laugh for your evening.

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Today was humorously NUTS.

Just about everything that could go wrong with our apartment went wrong- the garage door broke, so everyone was stuck from leaving for work during rush hour, the workout room was closed for maintenance so that shot down my plans to look over my interview questions while I ran, maintenance turned water off from 10 am to 2 pm, so when I came back from my run outside I couldn’t have water (I resorted to chugging half a gallon of Cashew milk instead), our fire alarms would not stop going off- I think my ear drums are broken, and my phone has decided to randomly shut off at 60% battery now instead of 30%. BUT I have leftover sushi in the fridge- so everything is okay in the world.

Blog Birthdays:

JL from Hunt’s Clubhouse is TODAY! 1/25! Happy Birthday!!!!

Wishing you all a fabulous day,

xo <3

Mack

Beaches & Pups & Coffee Cups! ☕️

Hey, everyone!

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First off- thank you to everybody who popped into the Mingle & Jingle!!! I wasn’t sure what to expect hosting one, but you all made it such fun!!

So…. I am a bit guilty on not doing an update post for a while…. and you know what that means…. a loooOOOooong one! But puppies & french fries are included- so it will be worth your time.

On Friday the ….*calculating date in head*….*just kidding pulling out phone calendar*…2nd of December… I went to Santa Cruz with a friend! It was her birthday weekend, and she wanted to spend the day frolicking on the beach with this little pup! She has a childhood friend that lives there, and he let us borrow the pup for a day. We took the little guy out on the beach for a while and then followed up with lunch after!

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Puppy kisses are the best

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We had her birthday lunch at a place in downtown Santa Cruz called Assembly. I wish I could say I highly recommend it, but pretty much every mistake a restaurant staff could make, they made- to a comical point. I’m not one to get my panties in a bunch about that stuff, but man, it was badddd. Their saving grace was their garlic fries with parmesan & aioli, which- not even kidding-were the best fries I have ever had. I’m not even a big french fry person! I would put up with the worst service in the world for these fries. Which I’m pretty sure we did…. haha. They were so scrumptious, I ended up getting an order for DJ too. It was one of those, “you haven’t lived till you tried this” type foods.

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We sat outside on the patio, but the inside  with the antler chandeliers was just darlin’!

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After our interesting restaurant experience, we walked around downtown and snuck in some cute little boutiques. Our favorite part while walking around was seeing these pups chilling in a bright yellow car, the one looking like it was in full control of the driver’s seat. This reminded me of the movie, My Dog Skip. Anyone ever seen it? I know my younger sister, Halston, will love this, since it was her favorite movie growing up!

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We stopped in a little classic candy shoppe called Marini’s. It had the classic burger and shake bar and the fudge shoppe on the other side. I love these retro places <3

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On Friday night, DJ and I went to Main Street Cupertino’s tree lighting. I had this marked on our calendar for the whole month. It advertised that there would be all this festive stuff to do, hot chocolate, photo booth, etc. etc., and I was so excited. However, this was probably the most anticlimactic event and/or tree lighting I have ever seen. You can take a look for yourself! LOLZ. I think it also may have been a requirement to have a little tike, because there was not a single family without kids. The hot chocolate station said, “Kids Hot Chocolate station” so there goes the best part! I joked that we should ‘borrow’ some family’s kids so we could get some of that hot cocoa. Pshh. “Kid only Hot Chocolate”. What a nutty concept, I tell ya what.

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After the tree lighting, we went to a Moroccan Restaurant in Mountain View. We were craving it after loving our experiences in Dallas & Indianapolis, and this place had raving reviews.

To our great surprise, there was a belly dancer!!! Ok, to my great surprise…..but DJ… I think he was a smidge uncomfortable about this belly dancer shaking it around us while he was just trying to enjoy his beef tagine. I was just fascinated!

And I’m pretty sure the couple next to us were on a first date. They looked quite uncomfortable, and the music was turned up so loud that no one could hold a steady conversation. The man said something to the server, and the server replied, “No sir, we are not a club”. It took everything in me to not bust out laughing.

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Anyway, the place was super authentic and the food was delicious!! I didn’t get good foodie pics, because the lighting was super dim. Trust meh- it was tasty.

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Saturday (12/3) … I baked goodies all day long, DJ played basketball with some friends in the morning then lounged while watching sports & ending with some Netflix- it was just a perfect Saturday.

Sunday (12/4), We went to Church followed by Christmas in the Park in downtown San Jose!!!! This was another event that we forgot to bring our kids to. 😉

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Photo-bombed by a nutcracker. My Christmas is made.

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Oh hey- does this look familiar?! I finished up my Christmas baking Sunday night 🙂

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Mondays are usually my “get yo life together” day of cleaning/laundry/errands/pulling my hair out/etc. On Monday (12/5) night we got together with some friends and had authentic Korean cuisine! We tried the seafood soft tofu dish (left) & the vegetable tofu dish (right). They were still boiling when placed on the table. They are served with two eggs that you crack in each dish and then stir around the broken yolk. It’s family style, and each person gets a bowl of the purple rice to add whatever  side (kimchi, pickled pear, rice noodles, etc.) they wish on top! We have never had an experience like this and it was a fun endeavor! Plus it was excellent quality time with great new friends.

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The rest of the week is a bit of a blur. Since the rest of December I am traveling, I had soooo many things to do and figure out to get ready for Christmas and traveling. I felt like I was living in the post office and running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I cooked dinner every night, but I don’t really remember what and apparently nothing was picture worthy. Sorry DJ!

Also… only in California grocery stores….

I don’t know about you- but I like the bread or cracker samples, don’t give me carrots to sample please, sir.

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One thing that I have loved during this crazy week was the weather. Apparently, this is the coldest and rainiest winter that the Bay area has had in a while. But I love the way the beautiful leaves are contrasting against the dark backdrop. It feels very much like October would in Ohio. And if this is as cold as it gets- count me in! I’m going to be in for a shock when I go back to Ohio in a couple weeks here… Oh boy. I probably could use some prayers, ya’ll. Not sure my skin is as tough as it used to be in the tundra.

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Friday (12/9) Usually Friday is date night, but we decided to take this one easy. I was also craving my cauliflower mashed potatoes with a veggie burger & DJ was craving cereal for dinner, so we deemed Saturday our faux Friday date night instead. A night of binge watching Dexter and eating Christmas cookies was certainly in the mix Friday night.

Saturday (12/10) DJ and I went to downtown SF! We have been wanting to go to Union Square for a while to go ice skating and see the big tree. It was raining when we went, but still a great memory. We didn’t do a ton, but I just love any time I can explore with him.

And about the ice skating—- we forgot our kids for that too. We ended up getting out of line because I think it was “kids only” hour. UGH they get all the hot chocolate & all the cute Christmas ice rinks. SMH. Who do they think they are being all cute and little and innocent and stuff.

We stopped in Target for an umbrella, because the rain was not letting up and I was being Ms. Cranky pants about being wet and cold, stopped in a few shops, and then grabbed a few bites to eat through the day.

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For a light lunch, we stopped in Rouge & Blanc. Sounds about as fancy as it was. Their tag line was “Coffee Bar by morning, Wine Bar by night”, which is basically my life mantra, so it reeled me in.

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We didn’t want to eat a huge lunch, because we were still planning on having dinner in town before leaving, so we had fries with a bernaise aioli and a prawn flatbread. I savored every bite of that prawn flatbread. I don’t know what they put on it, but it was too good to be true.

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For dinner, we had to scramble! I always forget just how important it is to make reservations in the city! Thank gooooodness for Open Table. We found this french restaurant called Cafe Claude. It is super tucked away in a back alley. If not for Open Table, I would have had no idea it even existed. It felt kind of exclusive *hair flip*. We have never actually been to a french restaurant, so this menu was definitely something new to navigate!

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REAL FRENCH BREAD! My friends all know I have this dream of riding around France on a bicycle with the basket of french bread. This is the closest I have gotten yet.

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Deej ordered steak frites which included bavette steak, bone marrow butter, port-shallot sauce, and pommes frites.

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I ordered NIÇOISE which included tuna confit, lettuce, egg, haricots verts, olives, potato, capers, anchovy, and thyme vinaigrette.

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The waiter said “Bon appetite” and I realized that this was an authentic bon appetite! I may have gotten too excited about that one.

Sunday (12/11), I woke up at 3 am. I am trying to accustom myself to Texas/Ohio time because I like to get up early before everyone else to squeeze in a workout, but if I’m jet- lagged, that probably isn’t happening! I didn’t intend on getting up quite that early, but since I was up and couldn’t fall back asleep, I went down and ran on the tready and read a book on my kindle, because that’s totally normal at 3 am.

Sunday morning DJ and I helped set up at the San Jose campus, then me and a couple of my girlfriends booked it downtown SF to attend the Christmas Creative at that campus after the 9:30 service started at SJ (I won’t be here next week to see it our home campus). <– wow that was like the most confusing thing I have ever written. Happy deciphering.

Anyway-IT WAS INCREDIBLE! They presented the Christmas story via dance, song, instruments, spoken word, etc. in such a unique way. The talent was phenomenal and the whole service was so powerful.

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One of my friends from Church that reads the blog, brought me this as a gift. GUYS. Best Christmas present EVER. She obviously knows me well- PEETS!!!! Dark Chocolate!!! Peppermint Bark!!! PEEETS!!!! Coffee Mug!!!! PEETS!!!!! The thought behind this touched me beyond words. So thankful for this community, I can’t say it enough. Thanks again, Tammy <3 <3 You’re a real life rockstar!

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This cute cafe is connected to where the church service was held, and I had to steal a picture because it was so darn cute.

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The girlies and I decided to do brunch, because… Oh wait you don’t need a reason for brunch.

We tried the Mission Beach Cafe  because it’s known as an epic brunch spot. It surpassed all expectations. If you live in the area, do yourself a flavor favor and try this place!

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I personally ordered the MBC Vegan Breakfast. It included black barley-farro, a butternut squash patty, artichoke hearts, carrot, orach, roasted garnet potatos, and nettles. I don’t know what the heck they put in this, but it was heaven on a plate. We all nibbled on the french toast too- and besides Bora Bora’s french toast, this one would take the cake (or take the toast *womp womp*).

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I have never ordered a mimosa before, but the pictures on yelp looked too good to pass up! We all tried grapefruit pomegranate and one of my friends did the orange pomegranate. Is “mimosa” not the most fitting name for what it is?! It just makes ya wanna say MimoOoOssssAaAaa. It was YUMMMM.

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A couple last things to update:

  • I will write about yesterdays events in another post- this is long enough! Ya’ll are busy!
  • Our neighbors did stop by again (at 10 pm per usual) and asked for a Coke this time. (In the past they have asked for cilantro & lettuce in isolated incidences). What is your next prediction for what they will want?
  • I leave Thursday for Dallas/Fort Worth!! Woot woot! Blowing dust off my cowgirl boots!

Merry Mimosas to all and to all a good night (or day)!

xo <3

Mack

Cranberry & Pistachio & Quinoa Stuffed Squash

Mouth watering yet?! I’m excited to share the ultimate healthy comfort-food dish for the holidays with you!! And if you have vegetarians or vegans coming to your holiday party, I’ve got you covered! Although, this is a crowd pleaser regardless of diet preference. Plus, it’s pretty darn nice to look at 😉 The savory sweetness of the squash, the crunch of the quinoa and pistachios, and tartness of the cranberries create a combination to die for.

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Grocery List

  • 4 Acorn Squash
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry Red Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup dry White Quinoa
  • 2 Cups of Vegetable Broth
  • 2 TBSP Sage
  • 1 TBSP Thyme
  • 1 8 oz. mixed package of Baby Bella & Crimini mushrooms (coarsely chopped)
  • 1/2 package (about 1 cup) of LightLife Smart Ground original crumbles (or vegan crumble of choice)
  • 2 TBSP Sherry Cooking Wine
  • 3/4 Cup Reduced Sugar Dried Craisins
  • 1/2 Cup Pistachios (deshelled)
  • Fresh Cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Trim off the each end of the squash
  3. Stand the squash upright and halve lengthwise
  4. Scoop out the pulp and the seeds, discard
  5. Brush each squash half with 1 tsp olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper
  6. Arrange cut sides down on a parchment paper covered baking sheet
  7. Roast the squash until tender (test with a fork) and the edges are golden brown, appx. 30-35 minutes
  8. While the squash roasts, in a medium saucepan add Quinoa and Vegetable Broth
  9. Bring to boil then cover and reduce heat to low, cooking for 15-20 minutes
  10. Place the sage and thyme in a food processor until minced
  11. When the quinoa continues cooking, heat 2 tsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan
  12. Add mushrooms, sage, thyme to sauté pan
  13. Cook until mushrooms are softened
  14. Stir in the meatless crumbles and sherry wine, stir occasionally for about 2 minutes
  15. Remove pan from heat
  16. Add the quinoa, craisins,  pistachios, and a sprinkle of fresh cranberries
  17. Remove cooked squash from oven and flip over so cut side is up
  18. Fill the roasted squash halves with about 1/2 cup of stuffing and bake again for another 10 minutes
  19. Top with fresh cranberries for decor, and serve while warm!

Nutrition per 1 stuffed squash half:

Calories: 308

Fat: 10.6g

Carbs: 46.5g

Fiber: 7.5g

Sugar: 4.2g

Protein: 11g

**If you aren’t a fan of squash, the stuffing can be a great dish all on it’s own!

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**I must say the stuffing is even better day two, so don’t be shy about digging into the leftovers (if there are any!)

Bon Appetite!!!

xo <3

Mack

Guac & Egg White & Toast

DJ asked me yesterday if I blogged this snack yet. I realized I hadn’t, but why the heck had I not?! This is one of our favorites. Something we crave. It also inspired my Halloween costume this past year. We eat it nearly daily, and I think you will enjoy it too! This is something else we will whip up for guests as a quick snack, and later when they are home I’ll get a text asking for how exactly to make them again. There is not much to it, but I promise the taste will blow you away!

Ingredients

  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • Bread of choice (I prefer Dave’s Killer Grain Bread or Sprouted Flax)
  • Spicy Guacamole (Or plain avocado)- I like Wholly Guacamole, but it really doesn’t matter. I use whatever the store has.
  • Sea Salt and Pepper
  • Hot sauce of choice. *Optional

Directions 

  1. Using your perfectly hard boiled eggs and clean hands, open the egg by dividing it in half and popping out the egg yolk. **If having difficulty removing the yolk, just run the egg under a little cold water.

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2. Put your toast in the toaster and toast away!

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3. Spread 1 guac packet/avocado over the two slices of toast. I usually split a packet of Wholly Guacamole between the two pieces. If using a multi-serving pack, use about 2 TBSP per slice.

4. Put two egg whites on each slice of toast. I break them apart so they can lay (lie?) on the toast evenly.

5. Add sea salt, pepper, and hot sauce (great without hot sauce as well)

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ENJOY!!!!

Nutrition per two slices: (Using Dave’s 60 Calorie Grain Bread and 1 packet of Wholly Guac)

Calories: 288

Protein: 21g

Carbs: 28g

Fiber: 9g

Sugar: 3g

Fat: 12g

xo <3

Mack