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.


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


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.


^^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….


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!


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!


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.


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.


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 😉 ).


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.


And how cute is this wallpaper?!


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!


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? 🍳🥚


66 thoughts on “A Birthday Brunch, Kayaking & Poké!

  1. I love the way you started the post ‘….before the virus had affected much of Texas (that we knew of)…’, I think the keywords here is that we knew of… for all we know the virus had already been spreading and its just the panic and testing that’s new.

    And love the food pic btw, making me so hungry and pining for the old life I used to have (pre virus, pre lockdown…)


    1. Exactly….Thankfully our knowledge is growing more and more by the day now though.

      Glad you liked the food pics, Natalie!! Hope we can all revisit our favorite spots sooner than later 💕 thank you for stopping in ☺️ hope you are doing well despite all this craziness!

  2. So I legitimately laughed out loud when you said, “you know what would go great in this sweet potato right now? An EGG!!” Hahaha girlfriend, I wish I could send you some eggs cooked somehow! LOVE this post! You all find the best food and adventures. You’ve absolutely reminded me that I need poke in my life again. It’s been for-ev-errrr. I love that wallpaper! And their succulent looks a tad like my latest faux creation. Makes me feel trendy. 😉 You look so beautiful in the kayak photo! Many years ago when Matt and I canoed at the lake house, I was so very unhelpful. He did all the work. Mwahaha. How absolutely incredible and special that you all were able to celebrate your grandmother’s birthday and that she has been able to stay and see her sister! I love her name too; so beautiful. I’m glad to hear you and Dj will actually get to spend more time together this summer with both of you all in your programs, and I wish you all the very best at finishing this work and getting back home! xo

    1. 😆 that makes me so happy that it gave ya a real chuckle! And yesss, our hospital actually has some poke, and it’s been my saving grace in feeling like I’m eating something fresh from time to time! Hope you can find some to enjoy soon 🙂

      Awww thank you! 🥰 glad I’m not alone in the upper arm strength department 😅 I guess I need to use more than just 5 lb. dumbbells lol.

      Aw I’m going to pass on you love her name to her- she’ll love that! 💜

      Thank you tons, Kori! I just got off a doozy of a shift and this comment made my morning (or night) – what have ya hah! I so appreciate ya!!

      1. That’s amazing! I’m glad you are able to find some fresh noms. It certainly is needed to feel a little more like home.

        I mean, I’m a 3lb dumbbell girl at home and Barre3. Hahaha. But it’s the resistance that gives us strength!!

        I’m so glad! You have a sweet family.

        I so hope you can rest!! Thank you for all that you do!

      2. Oh love that about resistance! I need to do Barre again soon- that destroyed me when I did it 😂

        Thankful for all you do too ! ☺️

      3. “If” you are interested, Simi Botic has an online Barre membership that costs only $25/month and provides stellar workouts and tutorials. Each week she uploads fresh content in the form of one each 20-25 minute and 40-45 minute workout while removing one of each from the library. It feels much less overwhelming because there aren’t so many choices, if that makes sense. Her site is http://www.unmeasured.simibotic.com. No pressure, but I wanted to share!

      4. This is AWESOME!!! 👏🏻 I am absolutely doing this! I tried to do it through beach body, but the Barre ones were per pay and I didn’t know which to do – so thank you soo much for sharing! This is a great deal!!

      5. It’s a stellar deal!! It’s the cost of one walk-in class at Barre3. Simi is a gem and so down to earth. You can always try and then cancel if needed. You won’t be disappointed. I’ll be completing one later, and I can honestly say they always put me in a good mood.

      6. Ohhh sounds like the perfect setup! Thanks again for sharing!! 🙂

  3. How has it been in New Orleans wow, I’ll have to go catch up on your past posts! Oh man, what a blessing that DJ gets to stay home! That lox looks sooo good. Ahhh you managed to kayak mm! The weather looks great, at least to me, the last time I kayaked I was left with such a horrible tan. Wow, hearing you describe the poke bowl I AM SO HUNGRY!!!! And the pictures gosh! I love that you always have time to eat such wonderful and have a wonderful time! Hmmm, food staple…egg is a pretty solid choice so my second choice would probably be noodles?

    1. Hi Cordelia! Thank you for asking- It’s actually been okay- I’m thankful to be able to serve in this way, have loved my patients, freaking HATE this virus for what it’s doing to people … but the numbers are on the decline here, for now. really hoping it stays that way 🙏🏻

      Haha if it wasn’t chilly that morning I would have probably have had that same tan too 😆

      Hope you found some good eats after this ☺️

      YAAS . Great choices, gf!! 🍳 🍝 thanks for stopping in ❤️ hope you are having a great Friday!!

  4. Happy Birthday to Grandma Violet! 🙂 She’s so cute! 🙂 I don’t have any upper arm strength either. I am lost without bread. I like different types of bread too. 🙂

    1. Aw I’ll pass on your sweet words to her! Glad I’m not alone without upper arm strength 😆 and ohhhh you know what- I think bread is #1 for me too!!! I can’t fathom life without it! Great call. Thanks for stopping in, Kathy- have a beautiful day ☀️

  5. So glad DJ will be home for a bit!
    Ive been thinking of you being in New Orleans! My favorite town… but it has been hit hard with the virus. Hope you are okay.
    As for us… our state is starting to open up.

    …and for me its eggs, cheese and lettuce…
    stay safe…!

  6. First of all, how ADORABLE is your grandmother?!? I love that she’s able to be with your parents right now instead of all alone! Silver linings, for sure!!
    While reading this, your break to get a sweet potato cracked me up!!! And Girl, I’d be the same way. I love eggs too, and I’d miss them sooooo much too.
    I LOVE kayaking sooooooo much!!!! I actually own one, but it’s a single person… So we never use it, because we don’t have one for Nate and the kids at this point. But it’s so much fun and just so relaxing to sit out on the water!
    And hmmmm, food staple I wouldn’t want to live without? That’s SO tough!!! Eggs are up there for me too. As is peanut butter, icecream, cheese, and coffee of course. I know coffee isn’t really a food. But I couldn’t live without it. HA!!!

    1. Aww! She really is 🥰 I am going to pass on your sweet words- she’ll love um’! And that’s so awesome y’all own a kayak!! It really is the most relaxing. I can’t wait till we can go again!

      Amennnnnn to ALL those. I think we have the same taste buds. And coffee- yesss, coffee. I literally can’t picture a world without it! Also, since I’ve been here I haven’t been able to have my nightly ice cream cone, so I’m looking forward to that more than I can say really 😆

      Thanks so much for stopping in! Always love our chats- hope you and yours are doing all so well 💜

  7. Eggs are in short supply here in Michigan and our hens are having a hard time keeping up with demand. I wish we had twice as many hens right now. I’ve never had eggs with sweet potato but plan on making an asparagus omelet soon.

    1. Oh my gosh!!! I had no idea! So sorry to hear that! But thankful for you and others working hard to fill that supply 🙏🏻 and an asparagus omelette sounds absolutely incredible ! Hope you enjoyed 🙂 thanks for stopping in, Ruth!

  8. I am going to be an outlier here and say that I could take or leave eggs … but I do NEED turkey (deli, ground for meatballs / pasta sauces, frozen burgers, and roasted)! With all of the pork plants being impacted and there being some beef shortages I am so glad that my favorite turkey hasn’t been affected (yet)!! Also, I must have missed it … but what are you doing in New Orleans? I thought your school was in another state?

    1. Totally get it!! We all have our staples 😋 and Turkey is definitely versatile !! I am hoping for you your favorite turkey is not affected in all this craziness !! And I am in between semesters working on a Covid-19 unit, been here since April. Heading back later this weekend since I start up classes this coming week. Thanks for stopping in, Lindsay ☺️ so nice to hear from ya & I hope you’re well!

  9. I’m so glad you were able to celebrate your grandma’s birthday, especially before the pandemic jumbled life up! I am in love with the interior design in Brazos. Lox bagels are my absolute favorite! I hope the night shifts aren’t too rough on you. Happy belated Nurse’s day and thank you for what you’re doing! My mom’s a nurse as well and it breaks my heart when I had her tell me how her days are going.

    The poke bowls look absolutely scrumptious! Your rowing adventure sounds like such a fun time and I’m gad you got to enjoy a little break. Yay for DJ’s internship being half virtual! Surprisingly, I haven’t had a problem with finding eggs here, but hopefully you can eat some soon!

    Thanks for sharing another fun post of adventures and yummy food, Mackenzie! Glad to read you’re doing well overall♡

    1. Hi Stephanie!! I agree, Lox bagels are theeee best. I don’t think I’ve had one since this photo, so may be time to get one again sometime soon! And thank you for your Nurse’s Day wishes… I send them to your mom too. It is a heart breaking time 🙁 Praying for strength for her through all of it.

      Funny you say that about the eggs- I just finished two lol. I think they are going to be an at leeast daily thing for a while!

      Thanks so much for stopping in, Stephanie <3 Hope you are doing well- have a wonderful week ahead.

  10. I love eggs!! At the beginning of the year I went low FODMAP. My dr had suggested it a while back, but the elimination phase sounded onerous so I put it off. I was feeling great, but derailed once the pandemic stress ramped up. I’m finally getting back on track. But, anyway! I can have certain things with as much as I want and certain things in a low quantity. One of my favorites is to cook up spinach and artichoke in a little olive oil and truffle oil and then scramble in some eggs. Delicious!! Sometimes I eat it on a piece of buttered sourdough. Yum!! Really I think I love eggs any way you can make them. I hope you get some soon!!

    Happy Belated Birthday to your grandma! That’s great that she’s able to shelter in place with family. Even though my maternal grandma went by her middle name of Reva, her first name was Violet. I think that’s such a lovely name. 🙂

    We have a poke place that opened right near our home. We hadn’t been prior to the shutdown, but I’m definitely going to check them out when things open up. The ones that you shared look so yummy!!

    Have a great weekend, Mackenzie!! xx

    1. Yes, this pandemic certainly shaked everyyything up! Very understandable, I’ve had to find new dietary grooves through it too. Okayy that spinach/artichoke/egg in olive and truffle oil with sourdough sounds like a dream. Those are pretty much alll my favorite things together- thank you for sharing- I can’t wait to try this out!!

      Aww I agree- I do think Violet is a beautiful name too. That’s sweet your grandma had the same name. I wonder if it will make it’s way back eventually as names tend to trend back around.

      Ohh hope you can try that poke out soon!! It’s especially super refreshing during the summer. Thanks for stopping in, Amy 🙂 Have a beautiful week ahead!

  11. How sweet that your mom arranged for a FaceTime call to Scotland! That must have been so, so special! Also, I know the circumstances aren’t great, but I’m glad DJ will be home with you for part of his internship!

    Hmm, one food staple I couldn’t live without? Easy: peanut butter!

    1. It really was! The fact that they hadn’t seen each other for 26 years blew my mind – technology for the winnn 🙂 And yess, DJ being home is a silver lining for sure!

      Amen to that, sista!! Cannot picture a world without PB! Thanks for stopping in, Allie 🙂 I hope you had a wonderful mother’s day!!! <3

  12. The hamburger and fries were my favorite foodie treast of your food adventures in this post – wow, the fries … I wanted to snitch one or two as well. Well you certainly deserve all the down time you can get – great that DJ is home and maybe your next assignment for clinicals is in town – that would be great, but likely wishful thinking. Wishful thinking clinicals could be via video.

    The kayak looked fun and what great reflections on the water. I wouldn’t be much help either, but query … lugging Smalls around didn’t boost your arm strength. Good thing DJ didn’t think of that – we’ll keep it between you and me. 🙂

    I am addicted to Triscuits with sea salt. I have them for my snack when I come home from walking … with Jif Natural Peanut Butter or a pouche of tuna, salmon or chicken or some Sargentos Baby Swiss. I like the texture and the taste and the box is so small that I go thru them quickly. Six is a serving – hard to stop at six, like Lays Potato Chips! I have oatmeal every morning but I put stuff in it to make it more memorable … dates or raisins, shelled unsalted/roasted sunflower seeds, some powdered milk and some cinnamon. Stopped using any syrup on it after years of using it to cut down on sweets.

    1. I do think the fries may have been the star of the entire post! You have great taste- hehe.

      I actually just received word that I am able to stay home this summer!!! Clinicals are going to be a solid hour away (without traffic), so i’ll be loading up podcasts/audio books. Just sooo thankful I can stay put!!

      LOL!! That’s such a valid point- I guess the time off from smalls really hurt that conditioning, haha.

      Ohhh yesssss, triscuits and sea salt are amazing! I love all the ways you doctor them up! Six is not a serving, I take umbrage with that haha.

      Mmmm that oatmeal sounds wonderful too! Thanks for sharing, Linda! Have a great day ahead 🙂

      1. Those fries like all the rustic breads you feature call out to me (across the miles and through the screen)!

        That is great you can both stay put – very good news and I’m sure the traffic will remain light as people continue to work from home, so you will have it made Mackenzie.

        Triscuits – if you are a texture eater and like some crunch without resorting to salty snacks like pretzels, they are a great go-to. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks six is way too small of a serving.

        My loaded oatmeal keeps me going on long walks. You start carrying around smalls some more while the gym is still out of commission – must exercise somehow!

        Your night is young – ours is fading fast. Take care Mackenzie.

      2. Yes sooo good!!

        And I am thankful- it’s been hard to even find sites this summer, so I’m grateful to even have one!!

        Oh that does sound soo tasty—I’m all about the texture – the more the better !

        Hehe ironically I’m trying to cut back on exercise at the moment – but I still can work on upper arm strength- such a good idea to repurpose Smalls for that 😆

        Take care too, Linda!

      3. Thank you, Linda! I hope you are having a nice weekend. I miss blogging SO badly. This semester is a whirlwind- just hanging on and trying to make it through. How are you doing?

      4. I figured you’d come up for air sooner or later Mackenzie. 🙂 Your curriculum is very grueling – I don’t know how you do it, but, on the bright side, at least it is not this time last year and you were juggling a move and a wedding! I am fine, and not much has changed for me as I was working from home before since 2011. We are very slow at work though – that is a bit worrisome and I hope it picks up soon.

      5. Hi Linda! Yes- I am actually coming up for air again this week and it’s so nice. It’s been a tough summer, and wow do I miss this community. And you are so right- I cannot imagine doing a move and wedding on top of all this- the timing was perfect! I hope your work has picked up since this last message. Hope you are so well!

      6. Hi Mackenzie – good to hear from you! I think of you often, especially during this pandemic. What a tough year to be grinding it out, not just behind “Smalls” but out in the field. I hope it is going well and you’ll get a break soon. Maybe you are on break as colleges resume their schedules in the next week or so, online or otherwise. Hope DJ is doing well too. Both of you stay safe okay? One day you will have loads of time to yourself and will return to the blogging community again. Take care.

      7. Thank you for thinking of us- that really means a lot!! It is certainly a challenging year, I know it is for everyone though. We did have a nice little break- we are both starting back up on Monday- but we have tried to make the most of it 🙂 Thank you for your safe wishes- please stay safe yourself, friend. I appreciate your thoughtful words and encouragement, Linda. I have so missed your blog- Hopefully I’ll get around to poppin’ in on it this evening. I have a pizza cookin’ and a full night of blogging ahead- woohoo!

      8. So much action packed into last year with the move, the wedding and more (all fitting Smalls into that rigorous routine of course) and then the challenge on many levels this year. Make the most of your upcoming weekend before you get back to the grind again. Take care, stay safe and snap a photo of that pizza so I can drool over it okay Mackenzie? 🙂

      9. Absolutely! One of these days we are due for a pretty relaxed summer, eh? Hehe. Thank you tons! And oh noo I missed getting a picture, but I’ll take one of the box so you can get the idea- hehe. Or it’s just an excuse to make another 🙂

      10. What are you going to do with all your free time when school is done Mackenzie? Yes, you’ll work, but you’ll have free time too. I think you should make another pizza, even if you don’t get a chance to blog about it – it will be something to look forward to seeing! 🙂

      11. P.S. you can tell I’ve been away from blogging for a while when I forget to get a pic of a pizza!! I need to get the dust off my camera!

  13. Loved this update and love that you got to celebrate your Grandma Violet before lockdown! You even mentioning sweet potato has made me know that potato is my food staple! I am obsessed with the wallpaper- so cute! Have an amazing Sunday 🙂

    1. Aw thank you, Kath! <3 Oh my gosh, I agree about potatoes, sweet potatoes especially are something I don't think I could live without either, I eat one pretty much daily! Also french fries come from potatoes- so another reason to keep them around, hah! Have a great day ahead too :)

  14. Gosh I am SO behind in reading your blog! I just binge-read your last few posts lol.

    Brazos has the most pretty interior design! The food looks amazing as well! I’ve never actually tried lox but now I want to cause that bagel has my mouth watering!

    Woko Loco reminds me of Honeygrow, do you have one of those?! I have a few around me and man, they make such tasty stir fry! I’m adding that to my list of places I want to eat after quarantine. I’m sure they offer curbside pickup but that is one of the places I like to eat inside cause it’s cute!

    We went on a picnic by a lake/pond over the weekend and were so jealous of the people out on kayaks!

    Okay, seeing that poke bowl makes me want to go make a snack… haha. To answer your question, one food staple I wouldn’t want to live without is BREAD! Seriously. I love my carbs. I love making toast, sandwiches, bread and butter, everything!

    1. Hi Em!!! Oh my gosh, I’m a month behind at even responding to this comment- so trust me I get it!! Lol. Life is so crazy busy, and I appreciate you taking time to pop in at all <3

      I think Lox is my favorite of all time brunch dish- hope you get a chance to try sometime 🙂

      I have not heard of Honeygrow, but I just looked it up and it looks so good and definitely similar to Woko Loco! Hopefully you've been able to get it again recently!

      Oh I am with you on the bread 10000%. I don't think I could even go a day without it! It's pretty much the equivalent to air for us runners 😉 Thanks for stopping in, Em !!

  15. I’m with you on the eggs. I have an “egg guy” at work that sells me eggs from his chickens. I think I’m his main customer. He’s been selling me 5 dozen at a time! I feel like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.

    1. Haha wait that’s so awesome! Your parallel to Gaston is crackin’ me up! (pun intended).

  16. That’s awesome that DJ will be staying home with you! Yay!! My eyes get so wide when I read how long you guys are apart from each other sometimes. I am not as independent at all lol. & happy belated birthday to your Grandma! I love how it worked out for her stay with your mom the entire lockdown! Serendipity at its finest. ♡

    Lol! The last post I wrote had a BRB in the middle to make some food, too. 😂 I never knew you could make a sweet potato in the oven!

    Hope you’ve been able to make yourself a big omelette by now. ♡

    1. Yesss! I cannot imagine if he was not here this past few months. It was insane, and he was definitely my shoulder to lean on <3

      Aw thank you for the belated bday wishes- I'll have to pass them on to her 🙂

      Hahah no way, we are the same!! And yessss I have ate ALL the eggs. Hmm actually sounds kinda great right now... thanks for reading, beauty! xo

  17. Everything looks so yummy! I love that you got to meet up with everyone before the lockdown and I am happy that you’ll get a couple of days off to spend with DJ before starting another semester! Enjoy your time together!!

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