A Birthday Brunch, Kayaking & Poké!

Hey, everyone! How are you doing… really doing? I am in my last week here in New Orleans, and I cannot believe how quickly this month has flown. It’ll be an interesting transition back to days as I’ve become accustomed to that raccoon life (night shift) and living between the hospital and my hotel room. I start my next semester a couple days after I return to Austin, so I’m going to try to take one or two days to unpack, decompress and get situated for the semester, and of course, spend time with DJ. He did receive word that his summer internship job (the 14 week one) in OH is going to be virtual for the first half of the summer. Even though it’ll look differently than originally anticipated, I’m selfishly so stinkin’ happy he’ll be home. There is a chance my clinicals will be placed out of town, but I’m hoping that will not be the case.

Picking up on the recap posts!

Right around the first week of March, before the virus had affected much of Texas (that we knew of), it was my sweet Grandma Violet’s 94th birthday (Pete’s side). We worked it out that we would meet halfway between Keller and Austin in Waco for a bday brunch to celebrate! My mom discovered the restaurant Brazos, and it was the most wonderful choice.

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The restaurant is located in the Indigo hotel lobby. I loved their eye catching interior design.

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Some meal snapshots: DJ had their Dr. Ewing burger with cheddar, bacon and a Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce. He said he couldn’t really taste the Dr. Pepper necessarily, but he thought the burger & sauce was very good.

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^^And you know I stole many of those fluffy, yet crispy, fries right off the plate!

I split two dishes with my mom: First up the lox bagel (is it brunch without lox?) and….

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The veggie frittata which was everything. *Side note: My craving for eggs right now is out.of.control. I think the first thing I’ll eat when I get back is a massive omelette. Since I can’t cook while I’m here, I’ve been living off canned goods/non-perishable items, some cafeteria eats, and what little fresh produce I can fit in my fridge… but wowza do I miss eggs!

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Anyway, we had such a lovely time and celebrated my dear Grandma Violet big time. She has a heart of gold, is happy-go-lucky, and has so much spunk! Everyone loves being around her, and even though we only had that afternoon brunch, it was cherished time <3 We are all tremendously thankful we could make that happen before everything was lockdown- we had no idea that this would be the last time we would all see one another in person for a long time.

It’s also a huge blessing that Grandma Vi was here in the first place. She lives back in Ohio on her own, but flew down to visit my mom and Pete. Initially, they didn’t buy a plane ticket back, so she could just stay however long she wanted. When the shelter in place began she was already in TX and just stayed with them (and is still there now). They have been having the best time together. My mom even arranged for her to Facetime her sister in Scotland who she hasn’t seen in 26 years!! Special memories and silver linings <3

That first week was our spring break (the first spring break of grad school I actually didn’t have too many assignments to do). I wrote up a loose schedule of our week with all the places we wanted to see, all the food we wanted to eat and all the things we wanted to do. We decided we would be tourists in our own city, much like we used to do in the Bay Area 🙂

BRB… gonna go make a sweet potato in the microwave, it’s 3 am, but why not? Suddenly sounds so tasty.

OK, back. You know what would go great in this sweet potato right now? An EGG!!

Anywayyy- Our first food stop for the week was Woko Loco. It was a chilly day, so nothing sounded better than some hot wok noodle bowls!

img_1406img_1407DJ had their chicken bowl, and I had their zoodles with alllll the veggies and tofu. It warmed us right up! If you go, I recommend getting their “loco” sauce- mmm mm!

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When we returned home in the afternoon, I did an Insanity workout on Beachbody on demand (don’t worry, I’m not trying to sell it to you, haha, I just genuinely love the workouts) and then made us dinner. I spent the rest of the night writing up some posts.

The next day we went to the Rowing Dock and picked up a kayak around 9 am.

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It was so quiet and peaceful on the water; it is easily one of my favorite memories in Austin to date.

we row, row, rowed our kayak gently down the stream…  And by “we” I mean DJ, because if I learned anything from the experience it is that I have zero upper arm strength.

After a while I was pretty much useless, hah.

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We kayaked all the way out to our apartment and back- it took about an hour or so.

Once back to the Rowing Dock, we hopped off with our sea legs and shuffled back to the car smellin’ like stale lake water the good ol’ outdoors.

ee707d68-020b-420a-8cfe-37119f6d7651After cleaning up and getting ready for the day, we ran some errands. Then in the evening we watched the finale of the Bachelor (duh-v course).

While at the grocery store I saw this “Barbera” wine and thought how perfect it would be for us for Bachelor night. It’s not spelled exactly the same as “Barbara”, but close enough- ha! (If you know, you know 😉 ).

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The next day we drove all the way to Hamilton Pool Preserve, only to find out that you have to reserve a spot in order to enter the park. Whoops!! Now we know for next time.

Our next food stop was Me So Poke, home of the best poke in Austin we’ve had yet! This made up for the little let-down earlier in the day.

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And how cute is this wallpaper?!

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First we tried the California Bowl with rice, spring mix, salmon, wasabi ponzu, crabmeat, avocado, corn, cucumber, seaweed, sesame seed and spicy mayo. It was tasty but….

6c02a4f2-3f90-4016-8d57-3cb46475f220…my favorite was the dragon bowl with rice, spring mix, tuna, spicy tuna, classic sesame shayu, jalapeno, sweet onion, pineapple. cucumber, seaweed salad, edamame, crispy shallot and furikake. This is one of those meals I’ll be back for in the heat of summer!

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More adventures were to come that day, but I’ll save them for the next post!

Question for you:

  • What’s one food staple you wouldn’t want to live without? 🍳🥚

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A Prison, a Criminal, and a Lawyer

Friday, Friday, Friday! Woohoo! Well this past week just flew, didn’t it?! I have some interesting anecdotes to share from this past week, for sure! Also-sorry for the massive overload of recipes posted. I have had them sitting in drafts for a while and figured I should probably just post them already!

Real quick, last Thursday night I whipped up Blue Apron’s Curried Cod with coconut rice. You need this in your life. I promise. I talk about how Blue Apron works here, if you are curious 🙂

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Last Friday we went to the Orioles vs. Giants game with our family. Ya’ll know how we love our Orioles. However, I still jump during the National Anthem when everyone screams, “O’s”. Even after four games this summer I somehow forget that’s the thing to do! It always makes me leap like five inches off the ground. Anyone who has been to an Orioles game knows what I’m talking about. We went to AT&T park with our family, and this baseball park is easily one of the best in the country. I still prefer Camden Yards for it’s retro, 100% your at a cracker-jack-and-peanuts baseball game feel, but this is a close second! It overlooks the bay and you can actually watch boats come in and out of the pier.

 

Our dad (DJs side ) got us all baseball caps for the game (Not sure why I’m not wearing it in the picture above?!). But I LOVE baseball caps, and now have a new favorite! I think I have more “bad hair days” than the average person, so a new baseball cap is  a big deal. Plus it represents our team! The Orioles won, just so everyone is clear. Also, walking around San Francisco at night is quite beautiful. The place is always poppin’ and the Bay Bridge was absolutely gorgeous.

DJ and I shared a wonderful breakfast at the hotel before heading out for the day. I have seen smoked salmon and a bagel on many breakfast menus, but usually salmon for first thing in the morning sounds off. That day I was feeling up for trying it, and it was monumentally delicious. The concept is pretty simple too, and I might need to get some ingredients to have this at home sometime. It is paired with dill cream cheese, red onion, fennel greens, and capers. I think DJ probably got annoyed by me saying with every mouth-full, *muffled* “Oh muh gushhhhhhh, its suh guuuuuuuuud”.

IMG_8423We then headed out to *dun dun dun*- Alcatraz!!! I have been so excited for weeks since we planned this trip to go here and it surpassed my expectations! If you are planning a trip to San Francisco, this is worth your time. We took a ferry over, and the views and weather were perfection. We could not have asked for a better day, especially because the temperature tends to drop drastically when you are right on the water. A light jacket did the trick!

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We opted to do the audio tour, which is the best way to explore Alcatraz. It takes you on a journey using some of the real voices of previous inmates, guards, and workers. I don’t want to give much away because you have to go for yourself.

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** Side note: DJ always makes fun of my hands in pictures because he says it looks like I have a claw or some alien signal, lol.

Before we left for the day we did one of those bicycle carts. It was exhilarating whipping through the city on those!!!!!! Nothing beats a weekend with family. Those two days packed in memories I will always treasure <3!

Saturday night consisted of unpacking, cleaning the house up a bit, and DJ studying away. It is so strange having completely reversed roles. Last year I was studying non.stop. every single day, and DJ was in more of a “transition” year. Now he is the one studying his tush off. However, as soon as I get that approval to test for my nursing boards I am going to crack down! Then we can just be a couple of study bugs together.

IMG_7931Sunday morning we went to Church and it was awesome, cause really, would it be anything else?! I wear workout clothes to run errands and do everything around the house about 95% of the time, so before I changed into said comfy garb, I had DJ snap a shot to prove that I do wear normal people’s clothes for about two hours each Sunday!IMG_8473

For dinner, we had some leftover coconut rice and so I grilled up a whole bunch of shrimp in BBQ seasoning and some pineapple to throw on top!IMG_8474

Monday- Oh, Monday. This day was eventful! It was DJ’s first official day of law school, and I had a hair appointment. The contrast is striking.

I have been trying to get my color back to a more natural state and believe me, up close it was evident I needed to get something done. The roots were pretty bad! We were in one of those salons where each room is separate and owned by one or two hair stylists, but it all makes up one giant salon. Typically on Mondays salons are closed. The hairdresser took me because she was going away for the weekend and wanted to get another customer in. The salon was very quiet. However, as we were letting the color dry, a hairstylist came running from the other side of the salon screaming bloody murder. It was absolute pandemonium. She was running all over the place screaming, “He took it, he took everything!” through hysterical tears. Well apparently, she had just went to the bank, went to her salon, placed her purse on a chair, and used the restroom. When she came out it was gone. She remembered a man following her in, but assumed it was a maintenance worker since they do maintenance on Mondays when the salon is closed. The poor thing, I felt awful. We couldn’t locate him or the purse anywhere around the salon. My heart was definitely pounding. We called the police and they came along with her sons to help console her. Anyways, the hair turned out good (That sounds so absurd to mention on the heels of this horrible situation!). I am also 22 and still have no grip on curling my hair, so I was pumped that I got to rock it curled for the rest of the day.

For dinner, I made our last Blue Apron meal of the package. This one was summer vegetable and quinoa bowls. The flavor was just bursting. I learned so many different ingredients to cook with through Blue Apron, and I definitely would love to try it again at some point in the future!

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The next day for lunch I put some leftover on a salad.

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On Tuesday, I had one of those “I need extra coffee” mornings.

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I worked on several projects, and then made a meal I have had posted on the fridge since we came here. For a wedding gift, we received a subscription to Fine Cooking Magazine. This is a fantastic and unique idea for anyone who needs a gift for a couple that likes to cook! I try to clip recipes from there and put them on the fridge to try one when we are planning our meals for the week. It has been so much fun.

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This recipe was a sweet and spicy shrimp stir fry with a raisin glaze. It was like nothing I have ever made and it was INSANELY GOOD. However, I may have made it a tad too spicy. That’s saying a lot because usually the spicier the better for us. I will be making it again, but with fewer jalapeños. IMG_8621IMG_8618

Anyone else get annoyed when there are always those one or two last bananas that go bad? Well I hate waste; you would think our mom raised us during the depression. I decided to make three ingredients banana oatmeal raisin cookies. I can post a recipe for them soon! They aren’t the greatest cookies of your life, but they are a great snack with all natural sugars and just enough sweetness to help with a sweet tooth. And they are only 46 calories each, which is pretty good for anything with the name “cookie”. A few are great in the morning with coffee too!

On Wednesday I prayed that it would be better than the one before. AND IT WAS! Guess who conquered the book shelf?! This girl! Uh-huh, that’s right!!!

For dinner, I jumped right on that Zoodle train. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to make these because they are incredibly easy and tasty!!! I wanted to make an alfredo sauce from scratch and also a vegetarian version, but was running late,  like really late, so I threw in a can of Progresso Alfredo Chicken! I added some shredded chicken, garlic, daiya mozzarella, and a bit of tapioca starch and BAM- zucchini alfredo. DJ loved it. He couldn’t believe that it was actually healthy. I scrounged up some quick leftovers for myself since I was running so behind.

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What was I late for? Wednesday night is when our community group meets in Santa Clara. DJ, unfortunately, had to stay home. Law school is no joke, folks. He was feeling pretty overwhelmed at the beginning of the week, but I think is feeling better now. Figuring out exactly what to do, how to study, and what the professor wants is half the battle. He has the second half down (dedication and will), and I have no doubts that he will succeed!!

Here are a couple of projects that I finished up this week!

A. Guest Bedroom!

B. Our balcony!

Most everything is from Homegoods or Overstock.com.Woohoo! Start booking your tickets to come stay with us! **The balcony is attached to the guest room 😉
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On Thursday, DJ has his long day at school. I have my hiking group, and have to leave close to, or before, he comes home. I did make sure that there was some dinner for him in the fridge. I made salmon from Monterey Bay with a Hawaiian protein rice blend,and steamed broccoli. I love seasoning the skin on salmon so it crisps up when you bake it.

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The views on this hike were absolutely incredible. I love the bonds I am forming with these friends. They are amazing people. We also had a little (meaning a large and furry) friend join us! I have never seen a spider that massive in the states before. Hello, California!

After the hike my friend and I stopped in to a nitrogen ice cream place in Cupertino. They actually make ice cream out of nitrogen gas. Watching the process is quite entertaining. My phone was about to die so I couldn’t grab many pictures- guess I’ll have to go back 😉 The ice cream was sooo scrumptious! We split the Matcha and Salted Caramel. The flavor was vibrant, and yet the texture was incredibly light. It just melted right in your mouth, but was still creamy. We called it confusing, but confusingly delicious!

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One last thing I want to share is our new method for prayer. Our dresser was brought in on this giant wooden plank. It sent my creative alarms off, and I didn’t want to get rid of it. I told DJ I would figure out something to do with it and he kinda smirked like, “Oh no, what now?!”. DJ is a trooper to always roll with my makeshift ideas. For example, I made a jewelry holder four years ago out of a cooking pan, and refuse to use anything else. With this plank of wood, I have decided to create a prayer board. With white marker I write a prayer request, and then when it is answered, white it out. Our goal is to have the whole board changed to white to show how awesome God is in answering our prayers. I don’t expect this to be a quick thing, it could take years and years, and honestly it may never be completely white. God doesn’t always answer prayers in our time, but I have no doubt that He is faithful and we should pray expectantly. If you have a request, let me know, I can put it on for you!

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This morning I found out one of my my best friends, Rachel, passed her Child Life specialty exam. GO RACH!!!!!! So proud of you!

Tonight DJ and I are finally going to have a relaxing evening together, it’s his deemed “night off” of studying. We are going to try a new restaurant, but not quite sure where yet! Tomorrow I head to SanFran again to visit a friend from high school. (I don’t think I told you that, Mom- But Annie lives here!).

Wishing you an answer to prayer this week,

xo <3

Mack