There’s No Place Like Home: Part Two

Here we goooo, Part Dos! This one is a bit shorter, gotta give y’all some breathing room, hehe.

We left off the night of Monday the 2nd. In the morning of Tuesday the 3rd I met my friend Rachel at First Watch– my all time FAVORITE breakfast spot. It’s something we don’t have here in the West, so I was salivating as I walked through the door.


And I guess you can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take the California out of the girl…. naturally I went for their avocado toast. (I also love their coffee). My other favorites here are their tri-athlete and their massive pancakes!


Rach ordered their famous pesto chicken quinoa bowl with protein-packed quinoa mixed with kale, shredded carrots and house-roasted tomatoes topped with grilled all-natural lemon chicken breast, basil pesto sauce, feta crumbles and fresh herbs.


After breakfast, I snuck in a workout at the local gym then decided to go to Earth Fare- my main reason for coming home (jk jk … kinda)…. My last meal would include the taters from Burntwood and tofu nuggets from EarthFare. This is one of the food items I miss the absolute most and a must when I go home.


They didn’t have them in the main display and I started to panic. I asked the lady if she had any and she said none were made but she would be happy to whip some up. It was so kind, and I was willing to wait the extra twenty minutes to get some nuggs.

img_7274img_7275I grabbed some big salads for me and Clair before going to her childhood home to visit her mom and sister.


This is a picture of their gorgeous backyard. Countless of my own memories growing up were held here too.


For dinner I met with another close friend from high school, Kylie, at Pub Bricco. I hadn’t been here in forever, and forgot how doggone delicious their food was.


Kylie had their salmon sandwich and I tried a bite- heaven. Anything with sun-dried tomatoes is pure gold.


I savored every single bite of their veggie burger with tzatziki sauce.


We talked, barely stopping to take a breath for almost three hours, and yet it never seems like enough time! We have been sending cards back and forth this past year though which has been such a great way to stay in touch. Who doesn’t love still getting snail mail nowadays?!


In the morning of the fourth I woke up super early and headed to Lakeside, OH to join DJ’s family for a day on the lake!


This place is very dear to DJ and I. DJ grew up here in the summers and this was actually where he told me he loved me for the first time (fun facts all around). When you are here it feels like all is right in the world.


The girls! (Although we missed Amy- DJ’s twin).


A ceremony was held to dedicate the Park to DJ’s Grandma and Grandpa- it was a beautiful and wonderful ceremony. Truly an unforgettable day. Love this family and honored to call myself part of it <3

After the ceremony I zoomed back to Cleveland to return the rental car. I was stuck in some serious bouts of rain- I do NOT miss that!!! Rain rain go away, come back when I am on my plane….. back to CA.. where there is a whole lot less precipitation.

BUT fighting the H2O was so worth it because I was able to attend my family’s fourth of July barbecue! My brother and his amazing wife Maura picked me up from the rental place and we drove to my cousin’s home for the evening.

I seriously hope I am half the parents they are!

This is Baby Kate- can’t handle her cuteness. Our little all American girl!


And this is Jack- my nephew who literally melts my heart and soul every time he says, “Aunt Kenzie”.


Kate loooved my sunnies.


And my shoes! She got into those on her own. We just turned around and she was standing there in them with a big smile on her face. It was so stinking cute.


Time for sparklers!!!


BE STILL MY SOUL. This face <3


Jack loved the sparklers and really loved the pop-its! Fearless little man.


After an incredible family day, I tried to catch some serious snoozes before having to get up at 4 am for my flight (which would be 1 am Pacific time). Eek! I was surprisingly hungry when I got to the airport, so I found a yummy chia seed pudding with berries and nuts and had a coffee before boarding.


And now that brings us back to good ole’ Northern Cali. Thanks for letting me share my home with you all- such a special place with such special people. Where is your home home?

xo <3


68 thoughts on “There’s No Place Like Home: Part Two

  1. Aww Mack, this is such a sweet post. So glad you went to visit and had a good time. 😙💜 Especially glad you got nuggs! The place where DJ proposed is beautiful. So is baby Kate.
    Lots of love

    1. Debbbbieee!!!! I always smile big when I see your beautiful face pop up in my sidebar! Thank you so much for sharing in these special memories. Hehe- I am stillll craving those nuggs now. <3 <3 Sending back so much love to youuu!

  2. Wow. you surely had a wonderful family time at Home. All the food, fun, talk and laugh. I love your cute niece Kate and nephew Jack. I’m looking forward to seeing my family in Hong Kong next January (2019) also.

    1. Hi Miriam!!! Thank you so much for stopping by! It was a beautiful weekend- thank you for sharing in it with me 🙂 Excited for your trip to Hong Kong!! Have a great week !

  3. Aw, that was so sweet that the lady whipped up some tofu nuggs for you! <3 That salmon sandwich looks freakin' amaaaazing, mmm!! That's so adorable that you remember where DJ first said he loved you & that you got to go back & visit that exact spot. 🙂 Sparklers & pop-its were my fave when I was that little too! So cute those babies are!! Looks like you had a great time with family!! <3 <3 Thank YOU for sharing with us. My home home is in Minnesota but I think you might've already known that, hehe.

    1. I know!!! SO SWEET. I was blown away that she took the time- would have been so easy to just say, “Sorry, we don’t have them!”. I profusely thanked her like she had saved my first born or something, hahah.

      It was an amazing time with the fam <3 I'll be treasuring those special moments. Thanks for sharing in them with me!

      And yessss- I actually don't know many people from Minnesota- do you go back often? XO

      1. I haven’t been back since we moved to Las Vegas but at the start of Aug, boyfriend’s family has a reunion & we might fly back for that weekend. Not sure yet though!

      2. Oh how exciting!!! I hope y’all have the chance. How long have you guys been in vegas now?

      3. That’s same for us! Feels like longer though, it’s really become our second home

      4. It really does feel so much longer, right? I’m too scared to go back to MN because like you said– you’re the most homesick when you’re home & I’ve not felt a bit of homesickness yet here.

      5. Yesss, so true, but also once we were back in CA it became easier if that offers some consolation!

  4. That was so kind of the employee to make you some nuggets! Customer service at it’s finest right there.

    I’m convinced there is nothing better than spending time on a lake. Life is just so peaceful at them!! You honestly look like you could be in DJ’s family biologically. You and his mom look so similar to me!

    Your niece and nephews are adorable! Kate in your shoes and glasses is a frame worthy picture.

    It sounds like you had an awesome trip home home Mackenzie!! I grew up in Chicago (which I think I’ve told you?) so I get the feeling of needing to hit all your favorite food places when you visit. There’s never enough time though!

    1. It was SO sweet of her to do that… something like that would never happen here! Agreed- Lake time is the BEST time… something just so serenely quiet and peaceful like you said. Haha, yes I do resemble them for sure.

      They literally take up majority of my heart- It makes me want to pack up and move back just to be close to them. <3

      Yesss! Chicago is awesome- especially in Chi- town I cannot imagine trying to get to all the good eats. If we ever visit I'm gonna need your recommendations!

      1. What’s crazy if you didn’t even ask, she just offered!!

        I would happily give you recommendations if you go to Chicago. Then I will live vicariously through you and all the good food hehe

      2. RIght?!?! Ok sounds like a good plan 🙂 I’ll definitely let you know! I’ve only been once and I was super young. (and one time for a basketball game, but we didn’t explore).

  5. What an awesome trip back home!! I love love First Watch, as you know, and their avocado toast is fabulous. I think it’s so sweet that you remember where DJ first told you he loved you – so cute! Your niece and nephew are adorable. Such a great trip back home, and I’m glad you made it back to Cali-forn-i-a safely!

    1. YES it is SO good! What is your favorite thing to order? It’s funny because when I lived at home I never ordered the avo toast, but after moving to cali I can’t resist ordering it on any menu.

      Jack and Kate meltttt my heart!!!

      Thanks, girl!


  6. What a fantastic trip!! And you got to be off of work on a holiday!! First Watch is hands down one of my fav brunch spots & no matter how many times I eat there I can’t seem to try nearly even half of the menu!

    My hair never stands a chance with this southern humid heat…total frizz city so that’s when I whip out a good ole top knot. ha

    1. I know- First Watch is so. good. What is your favorite item on the menu?!

      Haha- yesss cannot go wrong with the top knot!

      1. I love the smoke salmon frittata! When I’m feeling particularly hungry, I do enjoy the biscuits & gravy but I try not to do that tooooo much cause it’s pretty heavy on the ole stomach. Also, their cold coffee is pretty darn great.

      2. Ok definitely trying that next time! YUM!!!!!!! And I LOVE their coffee. One of my favorite parts of the whole meal!

  7. I sooooo love 💗 having you home!! Really glad you got to go to Lakeside and oh my I want to hug little Kate and Jack, absolutely precious children! You know you are always always welcome home and we love you dearly! That feeling of life is good and feels right when you are at the lake is how I feel when you and DJ are simply home with us, life feels right! Love you!!! Your Ohio Mom

    1. Awww Mom!!!! This warmed my heart and nearly brought a tear to my eye! You’re the best <3 <3 Love you and can't wait until the next time we can come back (one day for good!!).

  8. This post was beautiful! Made me feel like I was back home in Ohio! I had no idea there was First Watch restaurants there! We have them here in Florida and I always say Im gonna go, but never do. So I’m def gonna have to meet up with my friends there next time in Ohio! Those thai nuggets looked yummy!!!! Glad you enjoyed your trip home!

    1. Awww thanks for reading Diam!!! Ooooo you must try FW! It’s amazing. And if you are ever back in the area- try the tofu nuggs! SOOO DELICIOUS! I seriously would move back just for those hahah. XO

    1. Tehe- thanks for stopping by McKenz! Hope you found some good grub after reading this 🙂

    1. Thanks, girl!!! It was so nice. I hope you found some good food after reading this 😉 XO

    1. It was SO nice 🙂 I’ve been reminiscing about it since. Thanks for stopping by, Tara! XO

  9. Such a beautiful place! It really does make me want to visit one day. 🙂 So my real home is in Massachusetts, but I feel as though the White Mountains (of New Hampshire) are my second home… I visited there SO many times as a child that there are just so many memories. Visiting there is definitely such a special thing for me. 🙂

    1. It really is <3 <3 Haha, I have heard VERY few people in my lifetime say they want to visit Cleveland, BUT if you do I will send you to all the great spots :) My CLE pride is going strong. And I totally know what you mean about the second home- the White Mountains sound beautiful *heart eyes!!!* . Traverse City MI is that place for me. I actually will be there in a couple weeks! Are you going to be heading back to NH soon? Do you have family that lives there or did your family travel there all together ? XO

  10. This is the best Mackenzie!! We are headed back to see the new house our daughter & her husband John just got in Wisconsin– love it back there end of July. Isn’t it wonderful to be with family from far away– sweet times and it looked like you made the most of it!! Loved your post!!

    1. Yayyyy! I hope you have a phenomenal trip. NOTHING is better than family 🙂 Thank you for stopping by and safe travels to youuu!

  11. First Watch looks ah-may-zing! I am SO hungry now!
    I LOVE that! I have places (like my maple lattes) that when I go home, i am not home UNLESS I go there.
    Those Look SO yummy! I LOVE spicy tofu (side note, have you had TJ’s sriracha tofu? SO yummy!)
    Ahhh I LOVE that! Sarah and I are like that. We talk for hours and before we know it we are running late and STILL haven’t discussed all we need too!
    And YASSS to snail mail! I LOVE it so much!
    Awe Mack my heart just melted! That is SO flipping sweet!
    Aweee SO cute! You are such an amazing auntie. They are adorable and so lucky to have you! I am so happy you got to go home. This post melted my heart! <3

    1. Girl, it is sooo good. One of the places I miss most! Ahh every time you mention the maple lattes my mouth waters!! NO I haven’t tried it- I still need to try that and the bahn mi!

      I seriously just aspire to be as good of an Aunt as youuu! XO

  12. Hi Mackenzie, I am playing catch up! It was nice for you to meet Rach again before leaving home. First watch seems like my kind of restaurant. I love Clair’s childhood backyard and I am sure the memories came flooding back for you. Such a cute pic of you and Kylie , it is hard to fit everything into 3 hours , I know!! That is wonderful you send real life greeting cards to each other. We get so much mail with bills , statements junk , it is nice to get a hand printed envelope with your name and address on. I sent cards to my friend Holly in AK just because i can! Oh my the lake looks amazing and it holds a special place in your heart a moment between you and DJ ,how lovely! Look at that photo of all them pretty Girls!! Oh my Kate is just too cute!! Jack is a typical boy i am guessing , and to be called Aunt is special. 4am is an early wake up time but one sacrafice of an amazing trip. I am from small town Ireland , Cavan. Thanks for post, hugs, Terri xo.

    1. Aww you are just too sweet, Terri! Thank you for stopping by 🙂 It was an unforgettable time at home for sure- I just missed them all so very much. Isn’t snail mail the best?! It’s great that you still send them too! It feels great to put the letters in the mail as well. Kate and Jack just steal my heart. Every time I see a picture of them or hear them laugh, I melt! Being an Aunt is way better than I could ever have imagined.

      I will have to look up Cavan!! How fun. Ireland is in top 3 places I want to visit in the world. I recently heard that Ireland is not all that big of a country? I always thought it was massive, but my friend said it is actually quite tiny.

      Have a great Friday! XO

      1. Aww its no problem Mackenzie . You have the trip well documented on here for future reference! It is nice putting a letter in the box! Nephews and nieces are great!! I feel honored you want to visit Ireland! If you look at a world map you will see the size of Ireland compared to the USA. It is smaller than my current state Minnesota! Enjoy the weekend , hugs, Terri xo

  13. OMG YUM!! I love avocado on toast and ever since I saw you do a poached egg on top of it, I decided to try it and it was absolute perfection! <3 😀 thank you!
    Also, I've never had pesto OR quinoa but that chicken bowl looks to dieeee forrr!!!! I want to try it and I have no idea where I would even find that kind of dish around here lol. Maybe I can attempt to make it myself?
    This post is making my mouth water so bad! You guys eat the best stuff LOL!
    That lakeside area looks so beautiful! Who wouldn't remember being told they love you with that view?! 😀
    And your nephew is sooo cutee! So is your niece!! They're so cute when they want to play dress up!

    1. YAY!!! I am so glad you liked it. I have been having egg on my avocado toast for the last few days too.

      I don’t eat meat as you know, but I tried a bite of the pesto chicken bowl before and it is insanely delicious. First Watch is a chain- so maybe there is one near you?! Keep an eye out if you travel!! But definitely could try to make it yourself too! The list of ingredients is on the menu I believe 🙂

      Aww- right? Forever one of my favorite moments of all time.

      They melt my heart!!!! I can’t imagine having your own kids and your love for them because I don’t think I could love those two any more!

      Thanks for reading girlie! XO

      1. I’ll be sure to browse the menu of other restaurants maybe I’ll get lucky lol.
        Yeah Ciel literally just started saying “I want to be a super hero” so I’m going to start buying him pretend costumes so he can dress up whenever he wants lol.

      2. That’s awesome!!!! He is going to love love love that!!! And Halloween is right around the corner- which super hero do you think he will be?!

      3. I have no idea! He has a batman pajama onesie he really loves, it has a cape. Well actually, it was his Halloween costume last year but he started wearing it as pjs, lol!! Who knows, we’re thinking Super Mario related because he really likes Mario and I’m also planning a Super Mario birthday party 🙂 He’ll be so excited! I’m excited! 😀

      4. Oh my gosh I loveee those ideas! I’ll forever LOVE mario bros. That would be so stinking adorable! Can’t wait to see it all! 🙂

      5. I’ll be sure to do lifestyle posts, there’s so much I want to do during the Fall as well. I’m going to start looking for fall family activities

      6. I actually was thinking about looking up fall events too!!! I’m so excited for the season, I love everything about it. Bring . it. on. I can’t wait to read your posts and whatever you decide to do!

      7. If you get any cool ideas pleaseeee share them with me!! 😀 So far I have….apple picking, pumpkin patch…andddd…..that’s it LOL. Maybe frolicking on the leaves with Ciel? 😀
        I feel like I focus so much on summer time that I just forget about fall. And since it starts getting cold I just stay home.

      8. Oooo those all sounds SO fun! I bet Portland has some fun family events throughout the season too- like Farmer’s markets with hail rides or something like that! Nothing beats getting out in nature during the fall season- I bet it is just stunning there too. Do most of the leaves change?

      9. I’ll be on the lookout for events, there are a lot of festivals though lol.
        And yes, believe it or not, some leaves are already changing! And summer hasn’t officially ended lol

      10. WHAT! That’s crazy, but also every year I am amazed at how quickly it transitions from summer to fall- it seriously happens nearly overnight haha. Especially the stores- everyone had their halloween stuff in when kids were going back to school!

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