Cravings, Baked Goods & A Trip to TC!

Hey everyone!! I figured I would do a hodge-podge type post of all the miscellaneous happenings from the end of February into March. I have quite the random spread for you today!

The evening of February 18th, I had to have my (pregnancy safe) sushi fix. I got all fully cooked sushi that were made fresh that day (one is vegetable and the rest are various California rolls with cooked crab). It really hit the spot.

My whole pregnancy I thought I would want sushi (mainly the raw stuff) after delivery as my first big meal- but I think that’s changed!! I have wanted nothing more than a big ol’ deli sandwich with tons of meat and cheese from Jimmy John’s. I told Deej he’s on JJ duty- Priorities, priorities!

Saturday, February 19th, was a very productive day for both of us. We got a lot done around the house and work-related stuff accomplished too. Moose caught up on enough sleep for the three, well technically four ;)), of us.

That day, I was craving some Panera. I got their green goddess salad as well as their turkey chili and added some cheese on top. This was all soo good! I also live for those baguettes.

Side note: We were having a discussion with a group of friends the other day, and a lot of people apparently don’t like Panera in general! I didn’t know this was a possibly commonly felt sentiment? I do think it can be overpriced, but I also think the food is pretty good/it has good options when you need something quick. Curious your thoughts on it!

Sunday, February 20th, we went to our nephew’s basketball game.

It was adorable watching this age group play! He did really well too- lotsa assists and even had a basket! He was so selfless with the ball. He made us all proud, but especially his Uncle DJ who played through college.

That afternoon we took Moose for a walk before getting back to the work grind.

Monday, February 21st, I woke up feeling a bit under the weather with a cold. After a day of tomato soup & grilled cheese I felt a little better. I feel like I really turned the corner a few days later.

I tried to get outside for some fresh air that week and keep up with my walks. I remember on this walk in particular it felt like spring really may be approaching! It was a tad warmer than usual, the snow was melting into the side of the sidewalks, and the sun was out in all its glory. Could it be we survived our first Ohio winter since being back? (Spoiler alert: Despite my naïveté optimism, we still had a couple months of winter left considering it just snowed a few days ago in April, loll).

February 22nd, I received a Babylist box for creating a registry. I loved using Babylist because you can add anything from any store on it.

I was impressed with all the little samples of things that came in here- bottles, belly butter, diapers, lotion, fridababy products, a Burt’s Bees newborn onesie, coupons and even more I’m sure I’m forgetting!

February 24th we took off on our Charleston trip documented here, here and here 🙂

March 3rd, I had a hair appointment scheduled at Agape Organic Salon and Spa. I drove a little further since this place uses all organic products and no harsh chemicals. I hadn’t had my hair touched up since August 2021, so it was time. (Of course, I made sure with my OB it truly was safe before going).  The stylist did a great job- she did as little as possible just to blend some of the balayage and stayed away from my scalp. I was shocked how I didn’t smell any fumes while she did my hair compared to the usual stuff used. The final result was super subtle, natural, blended & exactly what I was hoping for. Thinking I can probably go another six months at least without getting it done again!

March 4th, we ordered Piada Italian Street Food for dinner. DJ always gets their carbonara which is incredible, and this time he got it with their hot fried chicken. He also tried their lobster bisque which was yummy too. (Can you tell I sampled a little bit of everything he ordered?). I was craving veggies, so I got the create your own salad with a side of their basil pesto and green harissa. Also, a must order every time is the parmesan piada stick. It’s so goood. And their brownies are deliciously dense & fudgy too!

March 5th, we ran errands around town. We took Moose man with us because we knew all the driving would likely make him tired, and a tired Moose is a good Moose 😉

That day, we did have a bit of a scare. Baby girl was active enough in the morning (she met her kick count, but maybe wasn’t as active as usual- although she does have the occasional quieter day). That afternoon, DJ and I went on a long walk enjoying the beautiful day, and when we got back from the walk I didn’t feel her move hardly at all for a couple hours except for a bout of hiccups. I started to panic when all the normal tricks to get her to move weren’t working. I called my OB, and he said the hiccups were reassuring, but to do kick counts again and come in if she didn’t meet them. We were due to babysit my niece and nephew around that time, so we zipped over their house, and I filled in my sister-in-law on what was going on. She gave me some orange juice she had on hand, and I started the new round of kick counts. I knew DJ could hold down the fort if I needed to go to triage. Thankfully after about 20/30 mins, she started moving again, she met her kicks, and my niece even got to feel her move ❤️. It was so scary, but I was/am so relieved she is ok! The next few days after that she was more active than ever, so I think she was just resting up.

Once I was reassured all was ok, I was able to really enjoy and be present for that time with Kate and Will <3. We missed Jack, but he was busy at the Monsters Game representing the Boy Scouts on the rink during halftime!

We had the best time with them!

On Sunday, March 6th, I drove to Medina for a maternity shoot that was more intimate, focused on documenting my pregnant belly <3. This was one of the greatest experiences, and I highly encourage any pregnant momma to do it! I felt really empowered during the shoot, and I will absolutely treasure these pictures forever! Shout out to my photographer, Rachael, who made me so comfortable and knew just how to capture this special time.

That evening was gorgeous, so we took Moose out for a walk taking advantage of every second of daylight.

By this point in the day, I was ravenous. DJ had already enjoyed some leftovers for dinner, but I was ready to chow down on something specific- gyros. I wanted the usual lamb gyro, but the veggie one looked delicious too- so naturally I ordered both… and a side of jojos. It was all so good. 

I had a little leftover the next day, so at least I got two meals out of being indecisive, hah.

March 8th, I started meal prepping for the postpartum period. I try to make one crockpot meal to freeze per week. So far I have about six in the freezer. If you have any freezable meals that you love, please send them my way!

March 8th and 9th, Moose and I got lotsa walking in!

Here is post-walk with his sleepy head on the pregnancy pillow.

The afternoon of March 9th I got an exciting delivery! Allie over at Living My Full Life has an awesome blog and Etsy shop, Braid Bakery.  When I saw she was selling the most eye-catching Easter chocolate covered Oreos, I had to get some. When I was checking out, I also threw in some gluten free brownies and she generously gifted some of her granola.

We were blown away by how good this all was! She is so incredibly talented!

That afternoon, I met up with my friend, Kaitlyn, in downtown Hudson at the cutest little coffee shop, Heartwood Coffee Roasters.

It was a gorgeous afternoon, even if a little chilly, so I grabbed some hot tea, and we ventured back outside to walk around downtown Hudson. Also, I have to come back here to try some of these baked goods! I have my eye on those croissants.

The walk was filled with lots of sunshine and wonderful, soul-fueling conversation 💕.

I worked on Thursday and then headed out on Friday, March 11th, to Traverse City to see my grandparents. I almost missed my connection due to my first flight being significantly delayed, and I had my first Braxton Hicks contraction while trying to speed walk/sprint to the gate- no fun! But I made it!

Anyway, I wish DJ could have joined, but unfortunately it was tough to schedule with work. It had been wayyy too long since I’d seen my grandparents, and I knew this was probably my last weekend I could travel while pregnant. They are living in a new residential home that is just perfect for them, and I was excited to see it in person. And I was also thrilled, of course, to see them in person and for them to see me pregnant 💕.

It was so wonderful to be reunited. They were so sweet with the baby and talked to her a lot through the weekend.

That evening they gave me a tour of the building, we played a couple rounds of pool and had dinner in the beautiful dining room.

They both are way better at pool than I am and easily beat me, haha.

When I left later that evening, I realized I could probably eat a whole other dinner after the long day of travel! I ended up going to Poppycocks (a family and local favorite) to pick up some food and took it back to the hotel with me (usually I’d stay with my Aunt & Uncle, but they were on a road trip).

I couldn’t believe how much of an appetite I still had- I chowed down on some pita, a roasted veggie platter, hummus and bread while watching an episode of Married at First Sight. It really hit the spot! Also that show is nuts, and I love it.

I returned to my G & Gs in the morning for breakfast bright and early. It was such a yummy breakfast, and we felt fueled up for the day.

After breakfast, my Grandpa and I dueled off in several rounds of pool. And of course, he won most of them.

We had lunch in the dining room and then drove to the mall. I thought it would be so special for them to help me pick out a couple outfits for baby girl 💕.

It was so adorable watching them dote over the clothes and take their time making a decision of what they wanted for their great-granddaughter <3. Makes me all emotional just thinking about it!

They settled on these adorable gems below! My grandma chose the pink set and my grandpa chose the overalls and sweatshirt. He said they both spoke him, so of course, we had to get both 🙂

I can’t wait for them to see her in these outfits!

We did some grocery shopping in the afternoon and then got ready for dinner.

That evening, we had plans to go out on the town! We had reservations at Artisan located inside the Delamar Hotel on the water in downtown TC.

We had an early reservation, so it was fairly empty when we arrived, but it filled up quickly! The interior was stunning.

Artisan is a fairly new restaurant (I believe late summer/fall of 2021), and my G & G had never been.  They kept saying how amazed they were with the renovations since they’d last been, and they even ran into a couple friends.

We started out with some hearty and delish bread & butter.

And I managed to sneak in a photo of these two cuties!!

To our delight, it was actually restaurant week- so we were able to try a bunch of menu items at a great price.

For starters, we enjoyed this brilliant presentation of roasted crudités with hummus, pomegranate, and kale pistou.

My G & G both tried some of the butternut squash bisque and didn’t leave a drop behind.

For our mains, I had their roasted chicken which was beyond good.

They both had their steak for restaurant week & raved about how great all the food was.

Oh, but it didn’t stop there. Included in the restaurant week menu was dessert! We tried two- the butterscotch bread pudding & salted caramel cheesecake.

I think the pictures speak to just how delicious these desserts were!

After dinner, we said our goodbyes (which was soo difficult), and then I had my flight out early that next morning. It was a short trip, but one chock full of amazing memories with them!

My grandma also sent us home with some sweet cards <3.

On the plane ride home I read as much as possible out of Newborn 101. I know there is no real way to truly prepare to be a parent, and you have to be able to be flexible, but reading and absorbing some info gives me a touch of confidence having a general framework to work within. This book is also full of awesome tips & suggestions!

I couldn’t wait to see Mr. Moose and DJ, but I already missed my grandparents so much. And that wraps up through March 13th!

Thanks for reading, and next up I’ll share about the baby shower!

<3,

Mackenzie

Our Babymoon to Charleston Part Three!

Gooood morning! (or afternoon or evening- whenever you may be reading this).

It’s a rainy day here, and my favorite days to blog are for sure rainy mornings. I’m ignoring my to-do list that is longer than it’s ever been, and giving myself one solid hour to write about & share our final day in Charleston, SC!

The morning of February 26th, Rach sent us a picture of Moose and Trotter. So cute how sleepy they both look. We were reassured knowing Moose was in the best of hands with her & I know he loved having his friend Trotter there.

We headed out right away to soak up the sunny morning.

We immediately went to Miller’s All Day for breakfast knowing there would be a heckuvah wait. It was about an hour and a half, so we decided to just walk around town and stop in shops to pass the time.

First stop- a Christmas store!

We usually don’t get souvenirs from the places we travel to, but we decided it would be fun to start collecting an ornament from each place we visit. This is the one we ended up getting!

The place the ghost tour started the night prior seemed like a neat little area of town, so we decided to explore it a little more in the daylight.

At Historic Charleston City Market, there were many vendors selling a sundry of artistic DIY creations. You could also find benne wafers just about every few feet!

When we were on our ghost tour, we noted Byrd’s had a sign displaying free cookie samples. As much as we were tempted to ditch the ghosts for some free samples, we resisted, but thankfully we made it back to enjoy some the following morning!

I tried a lemon one and a chocolate one. Since they are more crunchy cookies versus doughy, they would go wonderfully with some coffee! They had great flavor.

We were about due back for our reservation, so we started the walk back to Miller’s. I was ready to CHOW DOWN.

And we’re back!

We were seated immediately once we checked back in. How cute is this place.

I ordered a decaf coffee, and DJ had the nitro cold brew.

Now for the foooood. This was a brunch we will not forget!!

I had their frittata with eggs, grits, roasted veggies, whipped feta and mixed greens. I have stayed away from feta most of my pregnancy since it can be a risky cheese for listeria, but I made sure this was pasteurized- and the fact that it was heated up on top of the eggs made me feel better. It was phenYUMenal!

DJ had their signature fried chicken biscuit. I had one bite and was blown away by how good this was!! A must try. 

And we could not resist sharing a side of their waffle with sorghum, caramel and meringue. Every bite was heavenly. 

10/10 brunch!

Our big tourist stop on the agenda this day was visiting Magnolia Plantation & Gardens. Magnolia houses the oldest public gardens in America. I like this quote from their website to sum it up, “Unlike most of America’s gardens, which are formal and seek to control nature, Magnolia cooperates with nature to create a tranquil landscape like Eden where humanity and nature are in harmony”.

It was stunning & truly peaceful. We enjoyed every moment being out there. I only interrupted the tranquility about three times for a bladder break, but besides that it was wonderful in every way!

There was a Japanese garden with bamboo, many beautiful flowers on the different trails, quaint bridges, a garden maze and even a Biblical Garden amongst much more. I’ll just let the pictures tell the story here 🙂

And ya know I had to sneak in a bump pic somewhere!

DJ took the picture above with the bee-have to give him photo cred for that one!

I don’t even think we were there in peak blooming season, and it was still breathtaking. Of course, the pics cannot do justice!

After Magnolia, we decided to drive around to different areas of Charleston from Mount Pleasant to Sullivan’s Island to the beaches along Isle of Palms.

We then headed back to the Mansion to rest our feet a minute before dinner.

On the porch in the mansion around 5 pm, they serve hors d’oeuvres and wine for guests. I sampled a little bit of everything (minus the wine), but made sure to save my appetite for a great dinner we had planned.

We popped up to the Cupola one last time and then went back to the room to get ready for dinner.

We snagged a picture in front of the glorious stained glass mansion doors and then headed across the lawn to the restaurant on site, Circa 1886.

This meal was included in our babymoon package, and we wanted to make sure to save this for our last meal because we knew it was going to be a real treat.

This is one of the best meals we have ever had beginning to end – from the service to the food itself to all the creativity in between. It was a fun, romantic and delicious meal!

First, since the waitress knew we were on a babymoon, she immediately brought out a “Spirit Less Sippers” menu. I ordered the Faux-jito and DJ thought the menu looked so good, he ordered their Baby Burro. These were some yummy drinks to start out the evening!

We then enjoyed the bread and crystal salted butter- the best butter! Also, it was extremely dim in here (I loved it for the romantic atmosphere), but the quality of these pics leaves much to be desired, lol. Now the quality of the food did not.

Our waitress brought out this dish below as an amuse-bouche before we started our first course. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I think some type of tasty potato puff and refreshing gazpacho.

The menu was quite unique in how it was set up. It had four categories to choose from: Tastes of Native Tribes, Influences from Europe, Flavors brought from Africa and South Carolina today. You could mix and match selections from each too. We tried a little bit from each section.

We started with the shrimp n’ rice grits- yum!

Next up we had their southern grilled cheese which included pimento cheese mousse, grilled brioche, surryano ham (I just took off the ham & gave it to DJ since I can’t have deli meat), paddlefish caviar and cured yolk powder. Probably needless to say, this was a grilled cheese unlike any we’ve had before.

We also tried the preserved rabbit. Neither of us have tried rabbit, so we thought why not give it a go. I very much enjoyed the flavor of this! It was flavorful and savory, not gamey like I had expected.

DJ had their venison, which was cooked to perfection. He raved about it.

I had their scallops which… as I sound like a broken record.. were very good.

I think my favorite part may have been the dessert. To start out dessert, they surprised us with alcohol-free champagne to toast one last time on our babymoon. It actually tasted like champagne too and was crisp and light- not too sugary at all.

While we sipped on our non-champagne-champagne, we indulged in the apple soufflé with hot toffee sauce and candied praline ice cream.  Divine. 

And a beautiful contrast to the rich soufflé was this west African milk tart with ginger sable, coconut cream sauce, pineapple mango sorbet and banana mousse. Each bite was an explosion of flavor.

I could not have imagined a better babymoon! This trip was a dream. I am so grateful we were able to find time to go & were able to make it happen.

We went back to the hotel, packed up for an early flight the next morning and grabbed as many z’s as we could before the alarm went off.

When we made it through security, it was about 6:30 AM. Priority number one- you guessed it, find some food. We passed a Cinnabon and DJ grabbed one for breakfast. I was excited about his selection because it meant I got to have a bite.

I stopped into Caviar & Bananas and grabbed a decaf coffee, a banana, a Siggi’s yogurt and a Go Macro bar for my breakfast.

I was focused on loading up the protein since I knew we probably wouldn’t get to stop for food again at our short layover- also I was somehow ravenous despite the big meal seemingly hours prior. Although, we did calculate that we had walked 16 miles in the two full days we were in Charleston- yes, 16! No wonder I was extra hungry that morning.

We could not wait to get back to see Moose. It was tough being away from him for a whole weekend. When we walked through the door he gave us all the love, kisses and cuddles and stayed by our sides the rest of the day. He does this usually though, so it’s hard to gauge just how much he really missed us, hah.

Thank you for reading & following along on our Charleston babymoon! If you want to read part one and part two, I’ve linked them here 🙂

Question for you: 

  • Do you collect anything from the places you travel?

Have a great weekend, friends!

<3,

Mackenzie

Our Babymoon to Charleston Part Two!

Welcome to Part Two of our Babymoon to Charleston, SC! Here is Part One in case ya wanna read that too. Continuing on our way back to 167 Raw, we kept seeing historic buildings and churches that grabbed our attention.

We ventured through the wide open gates of one church as we spotted the inviting pathway lined with beautifully planted greenery on each side.

At the end of the path was a quiet cemetery, home to tombs hundreds of years old and cherry blossom trees that towered around them.

We made it back to 167 Raw with about 15 minutes to spare. We found a nice bench and rested our feet while checking in on Moose.

And then…we FINALLY got some lobster rolls!!!

These were very good and definitely gave us our Lobster Roll fix, but we both agreed they did not beat out the epic lobster rolls from Sam’s Chowder House in Halfmoon May.

We walked back to the mansion after to explore its grounds and rest a bit before heading back out for the evening.


We peaked around the various rooms and then stopped by the parlor for some afternoon lemonade and tea. Naturally, we made a couple Arnold Palmer’s, as ya do 😉

We put our walking shoes back on and headed to the Charleston Maritime Center dock to go on a historic sunset tour on water with Charleston Harbor Tours.

The whole vibe could not have been better. The weather was near perfect, the boat had great music playing, and everyone seemed in a relaxed mood.

While waiting for the boat to depart from the harbor, we watched dolphins playing in the water around us.

And then we were off! We had a great tour guide that kept the tour  entertaining with trivia games and dad jokes. We passed by Fort Sumter (pictured below), Forts Moultrie and Johnson, USS Yorktown, St. Michael’s Church, striking homes along the Battery and passed under a magnificent bridge to round out the trip.

We got back right to the dock around the actual sunset, hustled back to the mansion in a Lyft and dashed up to the mansion’s cupola to catch the last bit of the sunset.

We made it right on time!

At this point in the evening, I was starting to get real hungry. We decided last minute to do a graveyard/ghost tour, but I needed to get something in my stomach beforehand (outside of the benne wafers I munched on in our hotel room).

On our way to the tour, we decided we would grab something quick to tide us over (read: keep the hanger at bay) and then also grab something after the tour.

Lenoir caught my eye. This is one of those spontaneous game-time food decisions that could not have gone better!

While I enjoyed admiring their decor, I had one thing on my mind- FOOD.

We put in an order for their cornbread and some veggies and hummus. Mmm the cornbread was oh so yummy & I was glad to get some veggies. It was a great tide-me-over until our next meal.

SpooOooOooky time! We walked to Bulldog Tours main building, were paired with a group and a guide and set off the explore Charleston’s graveyards.

It was a tour worth doing! It went maybe a bit long for us after a long day, but the stories were fascinating, and it was a fun way to see the city at night.

After the tour I got an intense craving for a chicken sandwich. We did a quick Google search and found Blind Tiger apparently had a good one, so we decided to give it a go!

I had the chicken avocado club which satisfied my craving with their delicious fries. DJ had the fried chicken sandwich- I had a bite, and it was a mean fried chicken sammy!

And the sweet tooth started acting up, so we indulged in their peanut butter pie. Ohhhh my goodness, this was one amazing PB pie. I could go for some right now.

And then we headed back to the hotel to rest up before another big day to follow! It was a peaceful walk back as we soaked up the charming city’s nighttime beauty.

When we got back to the room, we had these amazing dusted chocolate truffles waiting for us. Idk how they make these, but wow they are good.

Thanks for sharing in our little adventure with us 🙂 Stay tuned for Part Three!

<3,

Mackenzie

Our Babymoon to Charleston Part One!

Oh, am I ever excited to have a little time this morning to document the first part of our Babymoon to Charleston! It was wonderful in every way. DJ had never been to Charleston, and I only went once when I was very young (so I barely remember it). We packed as much as possible into our couple of days there, and they were two days we will not forget!

For those that are wondering “what the heck is a babymoon?”… basically it’s a little trip or vacation the future mom and dad take before baby is here. Think honeymoon, but pre-baby!

On February 24th, I met DJ at his work and then we drove to Cleveland airport. We made it through security with plenty of time for dinner. We stopped at Great Lakes Brewing Co. I ordered a salad and their shrimp tacos (which were good, but only a sneak peak to the real goodness of seafood we were about to experience), and DJ ordered a burger.

With full stomachs, we were fueled for the late evening. We were worried about our flight getting cancelled because of the weather, but luckily everything went ok, we made our layover, and made it to Charleston around 12:30 AM.

We loaded up our rental car and headed out to Wentworth Mansion, the charming, dreamy location we’d be staying for the weekend. When looking up places to stay in Charleston, I stumbled across Wentworth Mansion’s Babymoon package. I didn’t even know this was a thing hotels offered! Of course, when I saw that I knew we’d have to do it. There are a few other hotels in Charleston that have babymoon packages too, but we were so drawn to the historic, quintessential Charleston feel with the mansion- and we’d never stayed in a mansion like that before. All about a unique experience!

Even in the dark, we were taken aback by the beauty of the mansion.

We walked into a spectacular open lobby bookended by beautiful stained glass doors. To the right was a winding staircase and several hallways leading to the parlor, day room, and other rooms tucked within the mansion.We were greeted with true southern hospitality, were given our room keys and headed up to get unpacked and get some sleep. We would do more exploring of the mansion in the day light.

When we walked into our room, we were greeted by a lovely, storybook type room with light classical music playing, sparkling grape juice and chocolate covered strawberries. The babymoon package was off to a great start!

 

We also had a package of these benne wafers waiting for us, which we also saw sold at just about every shop we passed that weekend. These are popular for good reason- they are sweet, nutty and delicious. I love them with a little coffee or just on their own. Here’s the history of the benne wafer if you’re interested.

One of our favorite parts about getting away and staying in a hotel is getting a hotel breakfast room service. There’s just something about it! February 25th, I woke up ravenous, surprise surprise. I was craving something cold & fruity, so I had their yogurt bowl and their pastry basket. DJ enjoyed their sweet potato pancakes & helped me out with some of those yummy cinnamon rolls.

As the light came through the long curtains in the sun room, we enjoyed our breakfast in bed. Everything tasted amazing. The decaf coffee was even so yummy. We were particularly impressed with how darn good the pastries were. I had a bite of DJ’s pancakes too which were really good sweet potato pancakes; the sweet potato flavor was nice and subtle and the pancakes were griddled just right.

We headed out to get our day started. A couple’s massage was included in the babymoon package with a prenatal massage specifically for the momma-to-be, so we walked through the back doors of the mansion and across the courtyard to their spa. If you do this package, make sure to book your massage right away because they fill up fast!

For the massage, they have a little donut to prop up the mom’s baby belly. It was a luxurious massage and a great start to the day!

We headed back through the courtyard to get ready for the day.

Once dressed and ready to head out, we were able to finally see the dazzling mansion from the front entrance for the first time and in the daylight!

Priority #1: Get a really good lobster roll. I did a, probably excessive, amount of research looking for the best lobster roll in Charleston. There are probably three places that contend for the “top”, and 167 Bar Raw Oyster Bar was within walking distance and at the top of most lists. We walked through the city and put our name in. It was going to be about a two hour wait (and they don’t take reservations) , so I was grateful we had a hearty breakfast.

To kill the time, we reversed our schedule and walked out to some spots I had planned for us to explore after lunch.

Just walking through Charleston is so much fun. There is a little bit of history everywhere you look and even just building-gazing is fun with all the different architecture and gorgeous churches that draw your attention from practically every corner.

We first walked to rainbow row to see the homes here. It actually reminded us a little of painted ladies in SF!

We grabbed some pics out on Rainbow Row, and someone graciously offered to take our picture- never will turn that down!

Oh, and our weather was beautiful- high 70s and sunny!! We really lucked out. Next up was Waterfront Park.

There is nothing more calming than being by or in water, in my opinion. I love it so much, and I just remember feeling so relaxed as we walked around the pier.

And you know I had to get a bump pic whenever I had the chance!

We walked down the pier a little ways, and I probably was over-excited when we spotted the famous Charleston Pineapple fountain. Pineapples are seen everywhere in Charleston as a symbol of hospitality!

On this side of the pier, there are wooden swings staggered throughout these little pavilions. We couldn’t find one that was open, but I think it’d be so nice to just relax on one of those if you find yourself at Waterfront Park.

Since those were the two big spots I had planned for the afternoon (Rainbow Row and Waterfront Park), we had a little time to kill still before getting back to 167. We just walked around, stopped in little boutiques and enjoyed the stellar (and quite foreign!) sunshine.

This cute little Gelato shop caught my attention with their adorable pink chairs and tables outside, but even more so- the advertisement for Dutch mini pancakes beckoned us inside.

I would love to come back here to try their gelato sometime, because it looked mighty tasty.

These mini Dutch pancakes were so good. We had them with maple syrup and honey- and oh myyy. So sweet, so delicious.

As good as they were, I was admittedly a tiny bit queasy after and my body was screaming, “need real food NOW!”.

And I will leave ya on the edge of your seat to see if we finally did get those lobster rolls!

Thanks for reading 🙂

<3,

Mackenzie

NASHVILLE PART THREE!

Hey hey! Welcome to Part Three of my first and favorite Nashville trip! You can find Part One here and Part Two here.

After our exquisito dinner, we set off to explore another neighborhood in downtown- The Gulch.

The Gulch has a casual vibe. We walked around and took note of all the adorable restaurants and bakeries we would like to eventually try. We then stopped into 404 Kitchen and chatted the night away!

The first floor of 404 Kitchen is a gorgeous bar area. I love the sliding ladder on the far wall.

Also, I was quite amused by this banana wallpaper, lol.

We decided to try to get some views of the city after, so we went to the top of a hotel Kels had previously been to. Unfortunately, the top view was blocked for a wedding party, but it was still a beautiful rooftop!

And for the last local spot on our agenda, we stopped into Santa’s Pub to watch Karaoke.

As we walked in, we were greeted by wall-to-wall Christmas decor/trinkets and nearly every person singing along to whatever music was playing. There was hardly a place to sit or stand, but we found a couple seats to slide in near the back.

The vibe of this place was the definition of cheerful. It was easily one of my favorite parts of the trip.

You could tell this was a local spot- it seemed everyone knew each other and was familiar with the different singers to take the mic. A roar of applause would erupt as the announcer called up certain people- and we knew we were in for a treat! Some of these singers were just phenomenal. That’s what you get in Nashville- even casual karaoke is packed with talent!

We even spotted Santa himself! A man with a long, white beard was casually chillin’ in the outdoor porch area. Turns out it was the owner of Santa’s Pub. A sweet note- He earned this nickname from his grandson about 18 years ago.

The next day in the morning we went to Crema Coffee Roasters to grab some fuel to start the day. It was great coffee!

Lastly, we wrapped up with our final meal in Nashville at Adele’s with a brunch buffet.

This brunch had everything you could imagine for brunch-great music, a smoked salmon bagel bar, eggs, yogurt, french toast, a variety of meats, tons of different salad/cold dishes and much more!

We made two trips to the buffet but still couldn’t turn down the  tempting desserts!

I tried the chocolate mousse and a pecan bar- both were the most delicious end to the meal- I can practically taste them!

We got one last picture together and then went our separate ways- Kels started the trek back to Illinois, while I set off toward Ohio. I miss her so much already! It was an unforgettable few days!

Thanks for reading 🙂

<3,

Mackenzie

NASHVILLE PART ONE!

HEY HEY! How are ya doing? I am sitting here with a sleeping Moose snuggled up at my side. Nothing better! I feel like so much has been going on lately that I have had little left to devote to the blog- but today I woke up with a real craving for it. I have been really eager to share about my road trip from TX to OH this past summer with the highlight being a stop in Nashville!

I loaded up sunscreen and an under eye mask and hit the road. I know, wearing an eye mask on a road trip seems a bit extra unnecessary, but trust me, after that semester I needed it 😅

I took off toward Little Rock, Arkansas for my first stop. It was a lovely drive. I listened to medical podcasts and sermons by Tim Keller (thank you for the rec, Taylor!). It was a wonderful way to pass the time.

When I arrived at the hotel, Courtyard by Marriot, for the evening, I was exhausted. I didn’t get there until after 11 pm, so unfortunately I didn’t get to explore the nearby parks like I had planned to. Next time! Something kinda amusing- I accidentally packed up all my bags without leaving one for all my bath stuff (shampoo, conditioner, etc.), so I just used an old “bath tissue”  plastic bag to carry it all. Gotta do what you gotta do, right?

I fell asleep very quickly, and then was up and at em’ early the next day. I squeezed in a short little 20 minute workout to wake up a little and then chugged coffee and ate some Chobani, fruit and oatmeal. I had a great experience at the hotel, and the check-in staff to the cafe staff were so friendly!! The trip was off to a lovely start!

The leg from Little Rock to Nashville was shorter than the day before, and I mostly chatted with friends and family on this leg to pass the time. The drive went off without a hitch! While I was excited to explore Nashville for the first time, I was even more excited to see my friend Kelsey who I hadn’t seen since 2018. You may remember our adventures all over northern CA. I missed her (well I miss her now too) something fierce!

We stayed at the Best Western Plus Nashville Airport Hotel. We had tried to get an Airbnb, but they were mostly picked over when we started looking. This was the most practical in terms of cost and distance from downtown/different areas we wanted to explore. It was a great hotel! Somehow we got upgraded without extra charge?!? I mean, no idea how that happened, but we weren’t about to complain!

My favorite part was this mirror! Well, I guess, the Keurig definitely was very much welcomed too, of course ☕️

Something different about this trip vs. most I take is we didn’t have anything planned. Usually, I have at least a few places/restaurants to try or things to do- but Kels and I were both so busy leading up to the trip, we decided to just be spontaneous and go with the flow. It ended up being one of my favorite trips, and I might have to do more trips this way moving forward!

We chit-chatted while we unpacked (meaning my suitcase exploded all over the place). I tend to be a bit of a tornado when I travel, but I do eventually clean it up, lol.

Once we were ready, we headed out to a place Kelsey suggested- The Hampton Social!

When we arrived, the wait was late into the evening without a reservation (the rooftop was open though, but not for food). We had just passed a super adorable restaurant walking over, so we decided we would go to Hampton Social later and try the other restaurant instead.

Thankfully, Liberty Common (the cute spot that caught our eye) did have some openings. We were seated immediately and our mouths watered looking over the menu.

If oysters are on the menu, I can always count on Kels to share a half dozen with me! And these were goooood!

I ordered their trout salad- which was ah-may-zing. I didn’t realize it came with bacon, but Kels helped me out with that!

I also couldn’t resist a side of the truffle fries, which were divine.

Kels had their Liberty Hot Chicken Sandwich- cannot go wrong with a hot chicken sandwich in Nashville.

While we ate our amazing meals, we soaked up the adorable decor. It ended up being the most perfect unplanned dinner.

Even the bathroom was cute!

And back to The Hampton Social we go!!

The energy of this place was incredible!! It was super chill, yet fun at the same time. Possibly my favorite part was the view!

It’s very much what I expected when I picture Nashville restaurants/hangouts!

After sipping some Rose, we headed to Broadway. To take on Broadway, we both decided some coffee sounded glorious. We went to Mike’s Ice Cream & Coffee bar and were blown away by how good the coffee was! Next time, I’d really like to try the ice cream too- it looked really delicious.

We’re all just gonna pretend I don’t have anything in my teeth, K? lol.

Broadway!We walked up and down Broadway soaking up the tourist feels and energy. On our way, we stopped into a little candy and fudge shop, where we tried a sample of their pecan clusters which were… OH my goodness I can practically taste them… SO GOOD!! They tasted extra good with the side of coffee.

Next up, we wanted to make sure to go to one of the rooftops on Broadway before calling it a night. We decided on Jason Aldean’s and waited probably over an hour to get in.

It was worth it though- it was such an awesome rooftop, they played great music, and Kels and I had the best time!

We headed back to the hotel and had worked up an appetite for a second dinner, so we ordered a stellar margherita pizza to share from Florence Pizza East Nashville.

In the morning we both woke up very much looking forward to the hotel breakfast. I just love a hotel breakfast- I don’t care what it is, there is just something about I so enjoy. This all tasted great- and most importantly we felt fueled up for a long run that morning!

Kelsey was training for a full marathon and that Saturday had an 8-miler. I will recap our run and the next day in part 2!

Question for you: 

  • Do you like to plan your trips out to a T or are you more go with the flow? Somewhere in between?

<3,

Mackenzie

Weekend with DJ!

Hello hello! I hope you are all having a great week. I had a wonderful weekend with my older sis in town! I can’t wait to share all about it! For now, I’m zooming back a couple weekends to another favorite of the summer when DJ visited me 😊

He flew to town for a couple days the weekend of June 25th. Can you believe it had been over a month since we had seen each other?! At this point we only have a couple weeks to go until no more long stretches apart.

First up on our weekend agenda was breakfast on June 26th at Magnolia Cafe.

As we pulled into our parking spot, we were greeted by this bird mural. When my sister was here, she remarked how fun all the murals were around the city- it really is fun to spot new ones all the time!

I’ve passed Magnolia Cafe more times than I could count! I always get a kick out of their “Sorry We’re Open” sign and knew it’d be a place we’d have to stop in eventually.


I would describe it as a no-frills, solid, reliable breakfast spot (although I believe they have dinner too). The staff was exceptionally friendly and we savored our time out on the back patio.


Even the menu continues on with the apologetic, tongue-in-cheek flare. 🥞

Typically we don’t prefer very fluffy pancakes, but these chocolate chip ones were really good and loaded with chocolate!

We limited our coffee intake at breakfast knowing we were going to try a new coffee shop after breakfast. I’ve heard many people talk about Cosmic, but I didn’t realize how close it was to us, just tucked away on a side road off South Congress.


They have a very expansive menu with some unique options like a lavender matcha latte, or if you’re feeling wild, a nitro espresso cocktail. We grabbed a couple iced coffees and enjoyed the morning sitting in their massive courtyard.

One thing we did not cross off the bucket list in Austin was Franklin BBQ (I know, shameful!). They went to carry out only during the last year, and we kept waiting for it to reopen, but it has not yet. We tried to put in an order for carry out while sitting there at Cosmic- but they were all sold out; procrastination was not our friend here. As the caffeine kicked in, we became more determined to find a way to get our hands on the world’s best BBQ.  Where there is a will and all that, right? We ended up calling Franklin’s to see if there was any chance there was more available than listed online, and they explained we could actually order a whole brisket online and have it delivered chilled to our home through Goldbelly. Also, side note- the staff was so friendly and really did what they could to help us out. We watched a Youtube video of someone who did this to see if it would still be good/worth it even shipped- and he said it was 99% as good as the real thing in person! So we are going to do it- probably have people over, make some veggie dishes and sides- and serve it up as a fun transitional meal from TX to OH as soon as we get off the waitlist!
Anyway, Cosmic is THE perfect place to relax with some coffee on a Saturday morning. And there is plenty of seating… which is a huge plus around here!

They also have several food trucks on site too.

After enjoying our iced coffees, we went back to our apartment. I worked out for about an hour and then got ready for the day.

We had an early dinner reservation at 5:30 on South Congress, so in the afternoon we killed time walking and shopping the tourist trap. We hopped store to store, and it was such a blast. There are gems on that road! Our first stop was Neighborhood Goods– I would love to shop here for gifts for holidays.



Many of the store fronts are beautifully decorated, vying for the next passerby’s attention.

One of my favorite stops was Big Top Candy Shop. I love a vintage candy/soda shop like that.

And of course, we stopped in all the different boot shops! 

Oh, and cannot forget South Congress Books!!
We did have a little (now funny) mishap. It was super hot that day, and I had lathered myself in sunscreen. At some point, my ✨ glisten ✨ turned into straight sweat and the sunscreen ran straight into my right eye. It was annoyingly painful and would not stop watering! I knew my makeup on that eye did not stand a chance, so I ran into a restaurant bathroom to rinse it off. I probably should have taken the other eye makeup off too- because they were hilariously incongruent. But at least my eye wasn’t on fire anymore. We didn’t have time to walk back to the apartment, so I resorted to just keeping my sunglasses on in all the shops. DJ said he didn’t see a big difference between my eyes, and we debated if it was worse wearing my sunglasses indoors or having uneven makeup, ha!

Before we knew it, it was time for dinner. We walked to Central Standard to sit out on their patio.

They are known for their cocktails. I don’t typically order cocktails since the ones I’ve tried have been so sweet, but the waitress recommended the ‘Face Your Fears’ cocktail with mezcal, tequila, aperol, chareu, grapefruit and lemon- so refreshing and not too sweet with a nice smoky flavor! Highly recommend. 

We ordered some delicious oysters. They tasted particularly good given how hot it was outside.

Right before getting the rest of our food, we noticed a wedding was happening right next to us. We watched nearly the whole thing, keeping our conversation at a minimum and a whisper, mesmerized by the ceremony. They had the cutest little pup in the bridal party too. I was getting emotional as the bride walked down the aisle, and I don’t even know the people!!

Back to the food- I ordered a falafel burger which I was obsessssedddd with.

DJ ordered their roasted half chicken- he said it was good but maybe wouldn’t order it again.

After dinner, we walked back to the apartment to give our feet a break and unpack our shopping finds.

Here is a candle we picked up! I also couldn’t resist trying the sour bears from Neighborhood Goods (yum!) & DJ tried the cashews. I really could do some damage in there- I love all the unique finds.

We went on a lovely sunset walk along Ladybird Lake where we had another debate. Right around the time the bats took off, we saw a small swarm of flying creatures above us darting here and there. We had a passionate conversation about whether they were birds or bats. I thought they were bats, and DJ thought the former. Finally some random stranger came near us and said loud enough for us to hear, “those are birds” 🤣. Okay, Deej, you win this one.

Next, we went up to the rooftop for our favorite view of the city! We were saying it was eerily quiet for a Saturday night in Austin. We hypothesized that everyone was just taking the weekend easy with July 4th being the next. But hopefully they didn’t know something we weren’t privy to!

The next morning before dropping DJ off at the airport, we quickly stopped into Gourdough’s Donuts food truck for breakfast. This is another Austin classic.

We sipped on a couple iced coffees while waiting for our order to be called.

These donuts blew away every expectation. We could not believe how good these were. We ordered the Funky Monkey with caramelized bananas, the Mother Clucker with fried chicken over a savory donut (DJ’s favorite & I tried a bite and even liked it- it’s a must order if you like chicken), and the naughty and nice cinnamon donut with honey (the simplest of them all, but very tasty!).

And that wraps up our amazing, amazing weekend together. I was deeply sad the rest of the day after he left and thankful I had clinical the next day to reset and distract my mind.

I’d love to know:

  • If someone visits your city, what is the *must* visit restaurant?

Family Trip to NC & Graduation!

Hello all!! I hope you are having a lovely week so far. I survived my last and probably my favorite intensive yet (content-wise). I learned so much. My head is spinning though- I think I need to go back and rewatch all the lectures because it was a ton of information. We also had to wait until today to find out if we passed our check-offs, and I did- *phew*- huge sigh of relief! More on all that later! For now, I want to jump right into our past April and May.

April was my study month. Okay, yes, every month has been a study month for the last few years- but this was the study month. As soon as I finished up clinicals, I was entirely focused on studying for boards (and I had started my endocrinology specialty, so I had some assignments for that). For those nurses studying for FNP boards out there- I did the Leik book & App- very helpful, the Sarah Michelle review which was my favorite, and the APEA review with Hollier-maybe less helpful for boards, but valuable for practice and review in general. I think I would have done Fitzgerald if I had to do it over because I heard great things about that one. I did not find the Exam Edge questions relevant or helpful at all. I did like Board Vitals though! My main unsolicited advice- do as many questions with rationales as possible!

Anyway- back to things outside of studying!.. April 5th I went to the Magnolia Silos with my mom. You can read about that trip here if you would like.

On April 11th, I drove to Keller when my sister was there visiting my mom and Pete. The first stop was F n G for dinner (one of my fav spots in town).

Our go-to item is off-menu- they have few vegetarian offerings, so if you ask for a vegetarian dish, they have something called Matchstick veggies- always so good. I have started using broccoli slaw in my every day meals because of this dish! It’s really delicious sautéed up with lots of veggies & a bit of olive oil.

And special shoutout to their peach cobbler which is pretty unreal.

April 12th my sister, Halston, had a simulated virtual trial for law school. Lucky for us, family and friends were allowed to watch! My mom and I sat out on the patio while she did her trial inside the house. It was SO cool to see her do her thing & she absolutely killed it! We were insanely impressed.

Sadly, my sister had to leave that evening to go back to Philly, but it was nice to briefly see her!

April 13th, I worked on homework all day, then my mom and I drove to the entirely vegan-comfort food spot, Spiral Diner in Fort Worth, for an early dinner. It was on the way home for me too, so this worked perfectly.

Love the retro vibes here!

We were blown away by how good the food was. We tried the Fajita Quesadilla and the Chef salad. There was a not a single bite leftover.


Then we walked around the cute area near the diner before I headed out to return to Austin.

Throughout the month, I took breaks studying with lots of walks along Lady Bird lake. I do not know what I would have done the last couple years without this trail!!

April 25th DJ and I woke up extra early and went to get some Summer Moon. I think this was the day the Austin Marathon was going on, so we had a hard time getting around town. We weren’t able to go to our usual Summer Moon, but we discovered one not too far away. And it was so nice inside! I love those chandeliers.

We then went for a walk around a park near us enjoying the beautiful morning.

We even climbed to the top of the Doug Sahm hill to get glorious views of the city. It was impossible to not make a few “What in the Sahm Hill jokes” standing up there 😝


Then moving into May! May 7th we arrived in North Carolina for my graduation on site, DJ’s graduation (MBA), Kevin’s graduation (DMD), Halston’s bday and Mother’s day! Lots to celebrate. We were greeted by this rainbow when driving from the airport to the hotel.

For dinner that evening, we went to Firebirds Grill which we all loved. I would highly recommend this restaurant if you are ever in the area! This was deemed Halston’s bday dinner 🎂 🎉

That evening we had a surprise for Halston! My mom brought one of her favorite cake flavors- Italian cream- chilled through security, on a plane and safely to NC.