Hey Strangers!

Hellloo! (echo: hello0o helloo hello). Anyone still reading this thing? Ha. I don’t truly know where to begin. Full disclaimer- the back-to-blogging nerves after being gone for three-ish months are in full force. The last few months have been really really challenging for a multitude of reasons. *Insert Taylor Swift’s Cruel Summer soundtrack in the background*. I know we aren’t alone in feeling this. In all seriousness, practically this whole year has been tough for everyone. And my heart goes out to all of you who are going through it too. We are just taking it day by day and counting our blessings. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to check in on us- it means so much that you’ve even noticed an absence and would take the time <3 I feel like I have soo much to discuss with y’all, and yet I don’t really know where to begin. Hmmm…one moment.. something feels a bit off….

**Turns on some background trash reality TV & grabs some ice cream**

Much better. Now it is time to blog!

So, the main things that have kept me from here are just lack of time with clinicals/school coupled with a lack of feeling creative. But right now we are between semesters and without something hanging over my head that I should be studying for the moment, I’m feeling that creativity creep back up, and I’m excited to jump in and try to write some posts.

And now I genuinely ask- how are you?

So without any real segue (those have never been my forte), let’s jump on in!

So let’s see. We are jumping all the way back to early March! And they say time travel isn’t possible. This post was around when we were finishing up our spring semester, so all these are highlights in between the studies! (All our times out on the town in this post were pre-lockdown). First, we started that weekend with some Kodiak Cakes… the pic is pre-syrup. Lotsa lotsa syrup 😉


Fun fact: I often get teased (lovingly) for the way I say “syrup”. I say SEER-up instead of SIR-up. How do you pronounce it? Anyone else out there speak like me with a little extra emphaSEES on the wrong sylLABle?

That afternoon I went out on a beautiful walk and started seeing some spring blooms!


It’s not quite the same as the California blooms, but I’ll take these pops of color! <3

That evening we had a dinner planned. We didn’t know it at the time, but DJ and I met up for what would our very last restaurant outing with friends for a long long time. We had about 1.5 miles to walk to the restaurant, but we don’t mind walking through the city one bit.


We met up with our friends, Alana and Kyle, for some good eats and delicious wine at The Grove (a place highly recommended by my mom and Pete)! The interior here is so stunning.


We sat out on their twinkling patio- a must if you ever go!


We laughed because both us girls ordered the exact same dish (scallops) and both guys ordered the same dish (the Impossible burger).


So thankful for that time with them! Can’t wait to meet up again.

The next day I made some super easy banana pancakes that were sooo dang good. Not sure why we don’t have these more often… especially considering how often our bananas get overripe. And then I throw them in the freezer. And then they never get used. Anyone else just have a lot of never-to-actually-be-used frozen bananas? Also, this is pre-lotsa lotsa SEERUP.


I also baked some “zucchini” chocolate muffins from some random internet recipe that were so tragically bad I ended up throwing them all away. And I’m not picky, but oh wow, these were not great. Don’t trust all you read on the internet, kids… (even recipes).


That week was my last food shoot for mackncheeeesy for a while <3. I have temporarily deactivated the account, but I’m thinking of maybe getting back soon. I do have a lot of good ordered-out eats to share!

Anyway- The food from Muro’s Pizza was delicious & the owners we met were so welcoming and friendly.


You cannot go wrong here. Everything was super yummy, but our favorites were the artichoke dip and the pillowy fries (and the Topo Chico, which we had never had- but holy sparklin’ smokes that is some delish water!!

Now continuing through mid-March:


Around this time I made us a TJ’s impossible burger + caprese salad (although this mozz. was different than the usual I get- but it still worked). One day we plan to do a side-by-side taste comparison of Impossible brand vs. Beyond vs. TJ’s.


For myself I had my go-to stuffed sweet potato with Fage, jalapeños, avocado, beets and hummus. YUM


That same day I went on a nice walk, and saw this gorgeous cascade of flowers outside the YETI store.


To change things up for breakfast one day, I made toast with avocado and hummus & blackberries. I have been on a berry kick this entire summer. We can’t get enough of alll the raspberries/blackberries/strawberries!


That afternoon I was craving a walk. It was a bit rainy out that day, but I was determined, and a little drizzle was not about to deter me that day. I grabbed an umbrella and hit Ladybird lake trail.


It was actually so nice. I loved the calming mist and serene rain. Walking in the rain is so peaceful. I remember around this time listening ferociously to everything I could about the pandemic, but what I remember from this day the most is the sense of stillness and quiet.


That evening I made a mix of Indian food, paratha and okra. The paratha from Trader Joe’s is my favorite. I just made my first trip back there in three months and restocked on a LOT of it, as well as the cauliflower gnocchi and some of their other snacks!


Annnnd that’s a wrap 😉


My rusty bloggin’ fingers love being back to this keyboard!

Question for you: 

  • Bringing it full circle- what do you think of T. Swift’s new surprise album?

xo <3

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84 thoughts on “Hey Strangers!

  1. Welcome back! You quoted Mike Myers with that syllable line and I can’t figure out which movie. That’s gonna bug me haha. Also, SIR-up for me please. 😀

    1. Thanks, Ralph!! View from the top? confession- I haven’t seen it all the way through, but I’m pretty sure that’s where it’s from!

    1. YOU’RE BACK! This makes me so happy! I’ve been periodically checking your blog to see if you were updating so this post truly made me smile! I missed seeing your yummy food pictures <3

      I’m personally a fan of Taylor’s new album! I’ve been a Swiftie since day one and while Folklore isn’t my #1 favorite of hers (it’s a toss up between Red, Lover, and Speak Now), I love it for different reasons than all the others! It was such a wonderful surprise when she randomly dropped the album. It’s been my go-to running playlist!

      I can’t wait for you to post more!! Missed you!

      1. Emily!! Wow this means soo much. Thank you for your kind words! I have missed you too & keeping up with your blog – can’t wait to read it tonight!

        Those other albums you named of Taylor’s are good too- I think I never actually listened to the full albums during the hype and missed out since some of her best songs aren’t even the singles (I learned this recently). I have been listening to Folklore on my runs too!

        Thank you again for stopping in 🙂 Hope you are so well!!

    2. Thanks, Carly!! That means a lot 🙂 I have missed your delicious food too!! And I lovee that you say it the same as me- I feel so affirmed, lol!

  2. YOU ARE BACK!!! This is the best news ever!! Better than the most dramatic episode ever on the Bachelor! Truly I felt giggly and crazily happy to see you had a blog again!! Thank you for coming back to us, we missed you so, and bring Mackncheeeesy back too! Ok, enough with the demands from your Ohio Mom. SO I thought Amy was the only one but she too says Searup! I always thought it was adorable, can’t wait to hear you both say it together in my kitchen some day soon, my fantasy world has the whole family together again eating pancakes and Searup! Beautiful photos of Ladybird Trail and just gets my taste buds awakened again with all your fantastic food pics! Smiling, Smiling to have your blog back!!! YIPPEE!!!!

    1. You’re the best 🙂 Thank you so much- you have no idea how much I appreciate this comment! I am crackin’ up at the bachelor reference, but also that’s pretty much the highest compliment there could be! Hopefully I can get Mackncheeeesy back up and running soon : ) Amy says it too?! That makes me so happy I’m not alone in the fam, haha! I I really can’t wait to have everyone back together with Searup & pancakes (you make the best). Thank you for the warmest welcome back 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Kathy!! I missed you too! This comment is so sweet & really means tons. I hope you are so well!

  3. So happy to see your post. This spring I decided instead of just throwing the over-ripe bananas in the freezer I would mash them and put them in a freezer container then in the freezer. I try to put three in one container since that’s how much my banana bread recipe takes. I will say they store much better this way an it looks much nicer than black bananas in the freezer.

    1. Hi, Ruth! Thank you so much for sharing this awesome idea- I am definitely going to have to try this out! Thanks for stopping in too- hope you are having a great week 🙂

    1. Thank you, Kimberlee 🙂 That means a lot! I hope you are so well. Cannot wait to read your reflections & what you have been up to lately!

  4. Yay! Welcome back to the blogosphere! I am so glad that you have decided to return to the keyboard. I have to say that I look forward to the taste test comparison between the three different burgers. I recently moved to a place that is super close to TJs and I am wondering about all of the things that I MUST get there now.
    p.s. How is school going? Are you almost done now??

    1. Hi Lindsay! Thank you for your sweet welcome back 🙂 Ohhh I can’t wait for the comparison too- we’ll have to do it soon! I am soo excited for you that you moved close to a TJ’s- it is my favorite- they have tons of yummy finds! Off the top of my head my favorites include their cauliflower gnocchi, paratha, green goddess salad dressing, and quinoa crips! (I could go on for days though).

      School is going well! It’s stressful for sure, but I love what I’m learning & clinicals which makes all the difference. I am done in the spring with my masters! I cannot wait.

      Hope you are doing well- thank you tons for stoppin’ in.

      1. Thanks for the recommendations. I have heard about the Vegetarian Turkey Burger … have you tried it before?? Maybe you can review it when you do the other burger reviews??

      2. Ohh I have not heard of that!! I am going to look it up and find where I can try it- definitely will it add it to the review 🙂 Thanks for the idea!

      3. They actually are sold at Trader Joe’s … I went to TJ’s today and I had to grab them after hearing about them from other bloggers. I will report back on what I think. But I still think you’re probably a better reviewer of vegetarian items as I actually eat turkey. lol

      4. Mackenzie … they were GREAT! Now, they are definitely NOT turkey burgers but a great non-meat alternative! You should definitely give them a shot! 😀

      5. Oh that is so good to know!!! Definitely going to search for them next time I’m at TJ’s!

  5. Yay! Loved this post. I’ve tried to keep up with you through my sources! So happy to see your vibrant photos and positive inspiration. Thanks for serving on the front lines of health care. Air hugs!!

    1. Hi Jena!! Thank you so much for caring and keeping up 🙂 That means lots. Aw of course- I just wish I could do more. Air hugs right back!

  6. Eeeeeeekkkkk! Yay!!! SO Happy to see you are back! I have missed you sweet lady! I just noticed the other day you weren’t on the Gram (I went to tag you in a Peet’s post 🙂 We need a break every now and then and girl this year has been tough! Sending you SO much love and positive vibes and prayers and just all around amazing juju! You deserve it!
    Once again you have made me SO hungry! Everything looks so yummy! I went out the other night for the first time in forever and it was so crazy. It felt good, but at the same time was so surreal, and very definitely different. Crazy crazy times.
    And hun YOU say Sear-up correctly. (I come from the sear-up capital and THAT is how we say it) It is funny how things can be so regional. (like car-maul or care-a-mel)
    Again sending you all the love sweet lady! <3

    1. I have the exact same reaction to seeing this comment from you! It really warms my heart!! I have missed you TONS. I am so honored you thought of me with Peet’s 🙂 Gosh, I miss it- but I’m trusting you are having enough for the both of us!! Thank you for sending all the love 🥰I felt the same way going out recently- it gave a feeling of normality- but with all the precautions and such it was also odd, but felt great to get out!

      Ahh I did not know that it was regional !! I LOVEEE That sooo much- I feel justified and affirmed 100% that you say it this way too. Thank you for letting me know!

      Sending love to you too ☺️Thank you for this encouraging comment- miss ya tons & hope you are so well- can’t wait to read what you’ve been up to lately!

  7. Well Mackenzie- we’re honored that you finally got a break in your studies and you chose to spend it with us. 🙂 Welcome back from clinicals and school stuff and showing us the goodies that you’ve eaten and fixed and where you went … we don’t have pretty flowers like that in March – that is for sure. I loved the Muro’s Pizza food selection the best … and thank you for the head’s up on the chocolate zucchini muffins. I have not heard Taylor Swift’s new release yet … sorry I can’t comment. Enjoy each day to the fullest while you are off – hopefully getting to spend some quality time with DJ – is he on break too or does he have to stay in Ohio a little longer?

    1. Aw thank you tons, Linda- that really means a lot 🙂 Thank you for the warm welcome back! And DJ actually ended up being here for the summer- initially they were just going to do the first half virtual, but ended up deciding to do the whole summer. I’m so thankful though- not sure what I would have done without him here! And we have definitely been able to spend some stress-free time together this past week- even went to a restaurant with a patio which was awesome! Hope you are having a great week – any plans for the weekend? Thanks for stopping in!!

      1. That is great news Mackenzie … it would have been rough with DJ in Ohio all those months. I used to dread going back to school at the end of the Summer. I worked all through school at a diner on weekends, school breaks and all Summer and I enjoyed working there. I worked 6:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and when I got off work, I still had hours of free time that stretched ahead of me before I went to bed. (Had a lot more energy in those days too.) 🙂 I did have to take one class in the Summer to fit it into my core program. It was Ancient History and the heat of the Summer, no A/C in the classroom – it could have been miserable and a recipe for falling asleep. Good thing the professor for this Ancient History class made it interesting … he was collaborating on a book with a dentist about a mummy. He brought in slides of the procedure they were using on the mummy. It was interesting.

      2. Hi Linda!! Your schedule sounds similar to mine when I worked at a coffee shop at my home town in the summer 🙂 I loved those days! I still reminisce on those days fondly, so I totally relate. But the no AC history course does not sound ideal!! But glad the prof was interesting- makes allll the difference! So fascinating about his collaboration too! Thanks for sharing, Linda 😊

      3. That job was fun and brought me out of my shell and got to know what everyone ate (usually the same item daily). So, I’d see them at a store or the mall years after I left and still remembered their order. They got a kick out of that. 🙂 Yes, the prof makes all the difference in the world … engaged versus just showing up and standing in front of a lectern.

      4. Hi Linda!! You have always amazed me with your memory- so I’m sure they did get a kick out of that! 🙂

    1. Aw thank you- you are so thoughtful! She is okay, but from what I’ve heard it’s terrible there. My friend Tammy who lives more south Bay Area was telling me today this is some of the worst she has seen since living there-scary times for sure.

      1. I hope it is over soon for them. I read about the fire damage to the redwood forest – they don’t know the extent of the damage yet as it’s too dangerous to go in there yet. Such a shame and scary too. You’re living on the edge, wondering if/when to evacuate.

      2. I know it’s so sad and scary 😣 Tammy sent me an article about how the big basin park headquarters was destroyed- it’s where we went on our hike together- so sad!!

      3. Now that SO much time has passed since this comment hopefully everything is much more under control now!

      4. Yes, we have had some strange weather here – 77 just a week ago … a beautiful four days and this morning I headed out in lug-soled hiking shoes, extra layers on a snow-slickened road. We have had high winds for days, but luckily I did not lose power.

      5. Oh my goodness- that is strange weather!! My grandparents were saying it got pretty cold up there in northern Michigan fairly quickly. Glad you did not lose power though!!

      6. Yes, we’ve had some odd weather – it was very cold in the U.P. and they had a lot of snow, can’t remember how many inches, but it came earlier than usual!

      7. And then I heard Thanksgiving time weather was quite nice! Hopefully this winter won’t be too bad even though it started early.

      8. Thanksgiving did end up nice weather and that’s how I was able to meet my goal an entire month early! (1.255 miles/2,020 kilometers).

      9. Wow! That’s amazing!! Congratulations, Linda!! 🙂 Do you have a yearly goal or are you doing month to month this year?

      10. Thanks Mackenzie! I have a yearly goal I set which USED to be one mile more than the previous year. In 2019, a Canadian blogger said “for 2020, why not make your goal 2,020 kilometers so it is 2020, like the year?” It was more extra miles than I intended, but I agreed to it – this was 1,255 miles. I usually “report” how I am doing quarterly, then by the last quarter I tell the tally at the end of each month. I was anticipating this big snow storm and with this La Nina Winter and its precip, I did not want to take a chance on not finishing – I really pushed myself in November. Next year, one more mile only!

      11. That is amazing, Linda! I love her idea of the 2020 in 2020. I am always inspired by your miles! Happy walking 🙂

      12. Thanks Mackenzie! I took a break this morning – freezing fog and a little slick out there, especially since I’ve already made my goal. Maybe tomorrow morning too. I’m glad I went the extra mile to get it done early. (A little pun for you – you like puns as I recall.)

      13. Aw good! I’m so glad you had that time to recuperate. Risky with the freezing fog too! And haha yes I love a good pun, and this is great 😆

  8. I missed you Mackenzie!! I hope you and DJ are doing so well 🙂 This year has been rough but like you, I’m taking it day by day and counting my blessings.

    Maybe this is weird, but I’m actually really glad we didn’t know when the last restaurant or outing with friends was back when lockdown started since you could just live in the moment and enjoy it. But I do miss it and can’t wait until I don’t have to wear my dang mask anymore. But I definitely wear it because we all have to do our part!

    Okay so this may be a very unpopular opinion but I have not listened to Taylor Swift’s new album nor will I listen to it. Honestly I’m kind of over her. She is always just the victim in every situation and “woe is me” and I don’t need that negativity in my life lol. Not that I know her but I feel like she thinks a little too highly of herself. But if you like it then that’s great! Just not my favorite celeb

    1. Maureen! I missed you (and your blog!) too!!! Aw I agree that I am kinda glad we didn’t know it was the last time too- it allowed us just to have fun, and not have any of that sadness to it. Like you said- just live in the moment!

      I soo appreciate the honesty about Taylor Swift, it’s actually really refreshing! I do think Taylor’s world revolves solely around her. I appreciate her music and think she’s a lyrical genius, but her as a person and all her drama I’m not a fan of either. Thanks for stopping in Maureen- so nice to be chatting again- can’t wait to see what you are up to 🙂

      1. I’m glad your not jumping down my throat about Taylor! She has some diehard fans that think she can do no wrong, and that’s fine! Just not everyone agrees haha. Her drama and “I’m always the victim” just bothers me too much

  9. Big kudos to you for taking a needed break to focus on your studies and other endeavors! It’s hard to feel as though we have to remain engaged on social media when other matters are also asking for our attention. I am so glad to see this post, though! Your food looks amazing as always, and thank you for including beautiful nature photos. They are always so lovely. Love you, friend!

    1. Thank you, Kori!! I totally agree- sometimes just taking away all those distractions helps us be the best at what is demanding our attention primarily. I will say though, when I don’t have a creative outlet things can get dark pretty quickly, so I’m still trying to figure out that balance. Thank you for stopping in 🙂 Love you too! <3

    1. Thank you so much, Nancy!! I appreciate the hugs and prayers <3 I can't wait to see what you have been up to lately!

  10. Yay welcome back lovely!! It’s so nice to see you back on my feed, I’ve missed your posts. Lockdown has been so strange, I also barely posted at all as content creating was basically impossible! I really enjoyed reading this from March as it takes me back to such a happy (and normal) time. Xxx

    1. Chloe!! Thank you so much 🙂 I have missed you tons and reading your blog as well!! It has been tough year for creativity, hasn’t it? I am glad to hear I wasn’t alone in feeling that way. I can’t wait to see what you have posted though!! Thank you tons for stopping in. Have a wonderful weekend, beautiful!

    1. Allie!! Thank you so much. I have missed you and keeping up on your blog too! Can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to 🙂

  11. Hi, hi, hi, HI!!!!!! I was sooooo excited to see a blog post pop up from you!! (And I’m just now realizing that I never emailed you back after you so kindly replied to my message. Is it possible that Corona time moves faster than usual time, because I literally blink and the entire week is gone). HA!
    Secondly… Oh my GOODNESS, I officially love you even more now, if that’s possible. Because I totally say SEER-up too!!! LOL! My husband used to tease me about it ALL the time, but it’s pretty much how my entire family pronounces it. Ha, ha.
    Those pizza pics have me CRAVING pizza with black olives, and I really really want one now. It looks SO good!
    I loved reading this blog post! Thank you for catching us up a bit!!! 🙂

    1. Nicole!! Aw no worries at all- & here I am taking ages to respond back to your comment, lol! Ohh and I agree- Corona time is disorienting! YESSS, I am SOO happy to hear you say syrup the same way- I also love that both of our husbands tease us about it, hahah- I am definitely telling DJ you say it too. Thank you so much for your sweet comment- it is a highlight of my day!! <3 Hope you are so well & having a lovely week.

  12. Woah! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw MackMarie had a post!!! But girl SAMEEE, I too was MIA for quite a bit (I still come and go) but like you said, sometimes the creative juices aren’t flowing as fluidly as we’d like and life can certainly get in the way. But I’m OH SO glad you have your blogging mojo back 🙂 To your SEER-up comment, that is also me! I’d also like to note that, that pizza has my name written alllll over it. I love my pizza to be stuffed to the gills with toppings that one looks SO good, I’d love a bit of that za! But yay, so happy you’re back, hope you and DJ are well <3 xoxo

    1. JJ!!!! Oh my goshhhh this makes me SO happy to see a comment from you. Also I was extremely happy to see you were back to blogging tooo- but then I tried to go to your blog just now, and I didn’t see it through this logo- do you have a different site?! I thought I followed the new one! Anywayy- that makes me so happy you say syrup the correct way too 😉 And yesss, I have been craving pizza like none other lately. It’s too good ! Hope you are doing well <3 Sending a huge hug! Always LOVE chatting with ya!

  13. YAY I’M SO GLAD YOU’RE “BACK”!! I can’t believe this has been sitting in my inbox for this long and I’m JUST NOW responding. Sigh. I loved this and I can’t wait until we can eat on patios again and order the same thing and be so content with our decisions 😀 Miss you so much!

    1. Hehe- I guess I fell off the grid again, lol! *Responding three months later* haha. Miss you tons & hope you are well!!

  14. Hey !im new to WordPress and this is the first post that I saw and to be honest you are awesome!!!
    It would be awesome if you followed me!!
    I write posts to make you feel good even in the midst of problems…and to think positive ❤️❤️❤️

    1. Aww hi, Olivia!! I am so sorry this comment is incredibly delayed- I have been a bit MIA with school- but WELCOME to WP!! I hope you have been loving blogging. Thank you for your kind words. Can’t wait to check out your blog

  15. Hi, it’s nice seeing your return! I’ve been away too and I’ve missed being on here like I normally was. I need to take some notes on the meals you have had because they always look delicious and I need some new ones to try! I hope you have been as well as you can be. Life has been hectic and so unpredictable, especially this entire year that has thrown us in a loop!

    Looking forward to catching up with you, Mackenzie! Hope things are well with you. ♡

    1. Hi Stephanie! I’m so sorry for this delayed comment- can’t believe I’m three months behind! We really are in the same boat- life is just nuts right now, isn’t it? I hope you are doing well too. Thank you so much for stopping in <3

  16. I am way late to welcome you back, but here I am!

    I just seriously spent the last 5 min trying to figure out how I pronounce “syrup”. Fortunately I am alone and no one is judging. But after all that, I still can’t figure out which way I would naturally say it ….

    Your Indian plate looks fab! Can’t believe Trader Joe’s carries paratha! And all the other food pics – glorious, as always!

    Incidentally, congrats again for completing your marathon!

    1. Hi Ju-Lyn!! I made the blog public again yesterday- and so far no issues… fingers crossed!!!

      Hahah, that is cracking me up about the syrup. You’ll have to let me know which way you say it if you ever hear yourself naturally say it!

      Ohhh yes, TJ’s paratha is a staple around here- It is oh so yummy! Thank you for your congrats 🙂 That was a highlight of the year for sure – cannot wait to share about it! Thanks for your comment 🙂

      1. Hurray! Welcome back Mack!

        “sirrup” …. I say sirrup! It’s funny how the more you think about how you say something the more it eludes you. But I didn’t think about it too hard this morning, and there you have it!!!!

      2. Aw thank you, Ju-Lyn! Ah! Sirrup! I am so glad you figured it out and shared with me! 🙂 Have a great week ahead, friend!

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