A Birthday Weekend Meet & Greet Party!

HAPPYYYYY FRI-YAY!!!!!! Today I turn the big 2-3, which may not be such my luck considering it’s Friday the 1-3!

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But this got me thinking…I’ve noticed there are a lot of birthdays going on right now & at the same time I realized I don’t know when most of YOUR birthdays are!!!!! SO, what better way to find out than host a Meet & Greet!!!! No worries, I won’t ask your age… but I do have one request that you either post your birthday or birthday month in the comments 😉 Also just tell us all a little about  yourself/your blog, leave links to your social media page(s), and meet some new friends 🙂

So, let us have one big collective birthday party for all those that have past and all those to come!!!! So thankful for you all!!!!

For those that love science as much as I do…

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For all my optimists…

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For my dog lovers (I know there are a lot of you 😉 )…

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For those that like the other furry creature…

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For my GF folks…

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For everyone else….

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Let’s Party!

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Happy Birdd-Day

This day is a big deal day. I mean a BIGGGGGGGG deal! It is DJ’s Birthday!!!! This truly is one of my favorite “holidays” because it means my favorite person was born on this day! Thank you DJ for gracing the world with your presence, but also for allowing me to have dibs on you for my hubby. We love birthdays because it is an excuse to say “Happy Birrrrdday” over and over again. Who can spot the reference? Also- Happy Birthday to Amy (his twin sister!). Today DJ is happily spending his day meeting with friends and getting a few tasks done, while I am taking a tiny respite from studying to record some fun stuff from this past week!

We received this amazing Cheesecake Factory sampler from djs mom on Thursday! holy yum.


We made quite a dent! The caramel de leche was our favorite!

Thursday night I whipped up, yet another, Indian-fusion-esque type dinner. Who really knows what it is. But it was edible! It included okra, cauliflower, shrimp, a tikki masala sauce, every spice that I thought could possible compliment it, and some siggis yogurt. I accompanied it with some naan bread and a gigantic salad. This my friends, I call “everything but the kitchen sink”.

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Friday we went to Lazy Dog on Main Street Cupertino. We were feeling tired after a long week of studying and what could sound better than going to a place called Lazy Dog? It was super relaxing and nice to just spend a nice long dinner together rather than the rushed ones that usually take place during the week. It’s hard to truly enjoy your food when you have six hours of studying still staring you in the face for the night!

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I ordered their Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna. This was one of the  most original dishes of ahi I have ever tried. It makes my mouth water just reminiscing about it. It was served medium-rare on house-made cauliflower mash with roasted vegetables and a coconut curry cream sauce. It was also topped with some fresh cilantro. I tried to recreate the cauliflower mash, which I share later on! This dish was fish-alicious.

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DJ went for their signature burger for which they are known for! He ravenously ate it up. Now, I don’t know if the boy was just really hungry, or if that was a sign that he hasn’t had something that good in that long! I may have been too afraid to inquire.

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Also! I pulled out my first sweater for the season! This is one of my favorite fall colors- anything dark purple or maroon. The weather here is surprisingly perfect for the sweater life. I think I expected it to feel warm year round, but it still has a fall feel with the leaves falling and a crispness to the air.

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Saturday I got up at the butt-crack of dawn to go on one last BIG hike with my hiking group. I absolutely love this group of people. If you wanna get to know people, go on a hike with them. Within seven miles hiking up a mountain you end up talking about pretty much anything and everything. One thing that surprised me was one guy who grew up here (in California) could not understand why someone could possibly enjoy a thunderstorm. Me and one other girl from the midwest tried to explain the ominous excitement, smells, and wonder of an awesome midwest thunderstorm. It was interesting to me that he had never experienced something like that.  We also came past the most beautiful dog I may have ever seen. It was a bright white husky with sky-blue eyes. I am not always one to run up and ask to pet a random dog, but I could not help myself with this one. The owner even let me get a picture with it. I told DJ that we need to get this type of dog and a Beans soon (three-legged dream dog from the pound). He personally prefers French Pitbulls and Chocolate Labs. We both also love Vishlas! We had a friend who had one and fell in love. Anyone own any of these types of dogs?

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After an amazing hike, that my hips are still recovering from, we went to the Vine in Niles. This cute little town is quite a hike from our place in Cupertino. OH MY WORD- I did not intend that pun, I swear. I know I usually do intend allll the puns, but that one was not intended. Anyway, Niles is just the most darling little town with the strips full of unique boutiques, food trucks, and the luminous mountains cradling the whole surrounding area.

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After that hike I needed a big ole cup of joe! I think my favorite part of this whole place was the fact that I had my coffee served in this mug.

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HELLO to the most delicious sweet potato tots I ever did taste. They were served with a garam masala aioli. SO GOOD. I got them “for DJ” but ate half of them (or more than half) before I made it home. Like I said, it was a hike back- a good 50 minute drive is long enough to get hungry again.

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I had a tasty, filling salmon salad with craisins, goat cheese, walnuts, and a honey curry vinaigrette over arugula.

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SUNDAY! Oh Sunday was a much needed day. We are currently re-evaluating some choices and direction in our lives, but Sunday was just what we needed for some ease and clarity. I think right now DJ and I are realizing more than ever that our life “plans” on paper do not, and will not, always reflect reality. But that is okay. We are both at this point where we just want to be used by God, love others, and see how we can make a difference in the SV area each day. God has shut a lot of doors on our plans, but we are watching something unfold that we could not have designed ourselves. In the past, we have always filled our schedules and days with commitments and do not make ourselves available for anything that we have not designated important ourselves. But God, in His sovereignty, has shut many doors and we are finding ourselves available to do His work in a way we never have been. We are ecstatic to see what unravels, where this time of our lives takes us, and how he will use us. Our current situation can be described as this (….). The big ole’ dot, dot, dot. We have no idea how the next few years will unfold, but I think both of us could not be more excited to see how it will look.

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So why was Sunday so great? First we attended Church, and if that can’t rejuvenate ya, I don’t know what can. After, we met with the Pastors from our church for lunch as this rustic, yet modern, place in San Jose called The Farmer’s Union. They provided a great deal of encouragement to us. They gave us soo much to think about as well and sparked some thought-provoking conversation between DJ and I throughout the week leading to some of the open-ended conclusions (oxymoron?) I mentioned above.

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I have been fighting something of a cold this week and this Echinacea and Cranberry tea has been a lifesaver. I am a FIRM believer in herbal and vitamin supplements to prevent a cold. Load up the vitamin C, Echinacea, and Zinc to halt that nasty tickle in the throat from becoming a full on monster. But always talk to your healthcare provider before taking them 😉

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Here are the Cauliflower mashed potatoes that I tried to recreate (inspiration from the Lazy Dog!). These were sooo simple and I have a feeling that I may be entering into a new food craze stage.

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I also made these little Cauliflower wings with the leftover half of a head. I have the recipe posted here if you missed it 😉

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The next night I used the leftover cauliflower mash and combined it with some curry hummus to try to achieve that Indian cauliflower taste. I added a Morningstar Garlic and Quinoa burger with some fresh basil for a super easy and delicious meal.

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I had some kale that was about to go bad too, so I whipped up some kale chips to dip in the buffalo sauce too! Snacks for dayzzz.

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Throughout the week I have been studying at Peet’s nearly everyday.

I have loved studying at this little coffee shop and am beginning to develop friendships with the baristas. They are the kindest folk. One day they came up to me and gave me a coupon for a free coffee. They also told me that I am overstudying. Now when essentially strangers are telling you this, it makes you wonder!

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This is what “leave me alone I’m watching the game ” looks like One night during dinner I realized I had forgotten a couple things at the store. DJ, the sweet husband he is, ran out to grab them for me. He returned with this gem- edible cookie dough. Yes, all of your dreams have now come true. You can bake it or eat it straight out of the container if you wish. It is dairy and egg free too. We love our Pillsbury break-and-bakes, but I think we have a new favorite.

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Yesterday I had a bit of a stomach ache. I think I have just had so much rolling around in this head of mine and have been drained by the studying. I stopped by and picked this up from the store. GOODBYE tummy-ache! Ginger is one of the greatest things to help with nausea and aid in digestion. Kombucha also has some terrific probiotics too. I am really going full blown nurse on ya’ll, this post aren’t I?

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You didn’t think I wasn’t going forget a Fine Cooking recipe now did you?! This week I wanted to make something with meat. I make a lot of seafood naturally being pescatarian, but I felt that I haven’t tried my hand at a good meat dish in a while. I whipped up a Pork Tenderloin Provencal Tuesday night. I have never made pork, but was pleased with how it turned out. I accompanied it with rosemary roasted veggies and wild rice. It was surprisingly easy, and DJ said it was one of the best meals I have ever made. I think it would be an excellent meal for a Christmas eve dinner or special occasion! Tastes fancy without all the work 😉 .

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Now for birthday festivities. I maybe should not post this, but I seriously can’t help myself. I LOVE the goofy cards for birthdays (or any occasion). I spend wayyy too much time looking at all of them and take more pride in the card than the gift usually. We have tons of fun with them in my family. I stay away from anything with the actual age on it though… One time I got my brother a “Happy 30th” birthday card, ready to make a big deal about the big 3-0. He actually was turning 31. They never let me live that one down. In fact the next year, I received the same card from him and he crossed out the thirty and wrote 20 (the age I was turning). Anywho, DJ LOVES animals, so I always make sure to get an animal one. This was this years pick. Like I said, maybe this is inappropriate? But I promise this is as PG-13 it will get around here.

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We were planning on going out for a momentous pancake breakfast for his birthday, but he was meeting with a friend at 10 am, and decided last night he wanted to sleep in. I woke up early to figure something out, because everyone has to have a delicious birthday breakfast! I had some 90 calorie reduced fat pillsbury crescent rolls in the fridge and decided to try to make apple roll-ups. These are way healthier than a breakfast pastry and just as tasty. DJ couldn’t believe how relatively healthy they were.

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Last night I was having a moment of I NEED TO BAKE. Anyone else get that? The baking bug hits me hard in the fall. I load up on cans of pumpkin filling and end up just trying to create whatever I can, whenever I can. Baking is very therapeutic for me and since we were just eating leftovers last night, I decided to bake instead during my usual dinner prep time. I made a healthy pumpkin cheesecake with an oatmeal crust. This little guy is about 150 calories a slice and about 10 grams of protein. I am working on getting the recipe absolutely perfect, and then I will share it.

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Tonight we are going to take it easy per DJ’s request. I think we are going to grab dinner somewhere local and then relax at home. I am going to try to squeeze in a bit more studying before the day wraps up. I am also attending a women’s conference this weekend and am incredibly excited for that!!!! DJ will be taking the weekend pretty easy. Sunday night is when we are actually celebrating his birthday with a nice night out.

Lastly, but most importantly, our thoughts and prayers fervently go out to all those affected by hurricane Matthew .

Wishing you an icing on the cake kind of day,

xo <3

Mack

Part 2 of the Best Week!

Oh my lanta, am I a slacker or what? I recently started studying again for my nursing boards because I received word that I should receive approval in the next couple weeks- WOOHOO! GUYS! This is such a big deal after waiting over 20 weeks. But in the wake of that, all I have done the last week and a half is study. Is it really strange that I actually enjoy it? I have such a fascination with anatomy, physiology, and medicine; I just want to understand everything. At the same time there are overwhelming amounts I could study, and I get caught up on such small fastidious details- definitely not the most practical way to study for a comprehensive exam. Anyway, basically anything I post from now until I take the exam will be- “Hello, DJ and I studied, and here is what we had for dinner.”

Back to this exciting post though- I have to finish up the week Rach was here. I told myself that I could write it once I finished my Endocrine review. If you have any questions about Diabetes, Cushing’s, Addison’s, or or Pheochromocytoma I am your girl! JUST KIDDING. I will probably tell you to go to the doctor. That’s what I say to 50% of my friends that come to me with health issues. The other 50% I tell to take a Tylenol. If you want to read the first part of the week I have it all in my last post! I believe we left off on ….

Thursday- September 1st

Rach and I called around to different wineries in the area because we wanted to visit an actual winery- a place with the sprawling grapes, barrels, and all that jazz. We found the PERFECT place. It is called Mountain Winery and the views- the GORGEOUS VIEWS!- were like nothing I have ever seen. Even our Lyft driver was soaking them in on our way up the mountain. The winery was located at the very top. We walked onto a quaint patio overlooking the magical mountain with everyone singing along to the songs playing on the speakers. We could tell this was the place to be. We sat in the sun and soaked in the beauty as we sipped on different blends and pretended like we knew anything about wine. Swirl, sip, and say “dry”, “would pair well with…”, or “notes” and you are good to go.

Have you guys heard of Lyft? It is such a snazzy little alternative to the famous Uber. We actually prefer it because it pays it’s drivers more and so far we feel like they are quicker to the pickup.

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The winery has a venue for concerts and performances. I told DJ we would have to come here for a concert some weekend. Wine not?!

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Anywho, after visiting this absolutely amazing location, we decided to walk along Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino. There are so many buzzing, happening places along the way and we stopped at a few restaurants for nibbles. I had to take Rach to the local Counter. We also stopped at Elephant Bar. This is another chain, but it’s a must-try location! It has one of the most diverse menus I have ever seen representing foods from all over the world. If one of you are craving Chinese and the other a juicy burger, this is the place to go. After those appetizers we made homemade healthy pizzas and watched Gabrielle Iglesias on the porch- Round 2! I have a recipe for the flatout pizzas I will post soon 🙂

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Friday- September 2nd

We tried to be super well-rounded and fit in something historical on this vacay. We heard of this place on Santana Row that has a “haunted”, historical home called the Winchester Mystery House. This woman, named Sarah Winchester, learned from a psychic that in order to be reunited with her loved ones in the afterlife she would have to continue building onto her home indefinitely. It could never be considered “finished”. She took these words to heart and built a home that is littered with doors that lead to nowhere, bizzare rooms that only have one-way doors you cannot return through, encrypted quotes in stained glass, and fascinating backstories. We did the House and Grand Estate tour. I would recommend just the house, it is the most fascinating part. However you do get the chance to see the ghost that supposedly haunts the basement on the Estate tour in the basement. But ehh, no such luck for us 😉

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** Shout out to Rach for sharing some of her lovely pics!

I had been talking about Santana Row all week and we had agreed that Friday night would be the time to do it! DJ was at a family barbecue that I hated to miss, but they were understanding of the tourist packed week with Rachel here.

I love Santana Row, but it can be very pricey. I have held off trying so many places for a special occasion, and I think having a best friend in town qualifies 😉 !

First stop was El Jardin. They have the best gaucamole I have had in my entire life. I need to stop with the emphatic statements, but truly it was the best. I don’t know what it was, but it was the most fresh, vibrantly flavored guac.

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After our guac and chips, we weren’t starving, but also still could nibble. This place has caught my eye since we moved here. It is called Vintage Wine Bar located in the center of the row. It has the word vintage in it, so naturally I was pre-obsessed.

Pre-obsessed definition: Obessed prior to actually trying something or prior to having an actual valid reason to support obsession.

Example: I am preobsessed with eating french bread in France and my future three-legged dog named Beans

We decided to give it a go. This time we did the full experience. * Say in Italian Accent* We got the olives, the roasted red peppers, and allll the good cheeses and crackers. I think it was the best wine of the week (even better than the Mountain Winery- hard to believe, right?!) and it paired so well with the cheese and olives. Rachel doesn’t like olives (more for me, mwahaha), but she did feel the need to be a child and make eyes out of them. Twenty- two does not equate maturity. JK Rach, love u.

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After this we found this place in Los Gatos that had a bunch of fun older dance music playing and although we were the only twenty -somethings among middle aged folks, we had an absolute blast!
Saturday- September 3rd

Saturday we decided to squeeze in one last hike before it was time for Rach to leave 🙁 We went to Rancho San Antonio Open Nature Preserve. I will definitely be going back to this place. It seems like one of the better running trails. A lot of the hikes I have done so far are not so running friendly (tons of roots, sharp turns, awkward stepping), but this had more of that trail feel!

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At this place they do model airplane competitions. We were lucky enough to go on a day while this was going on. It was super fascinating to us, and Rachel’s grandfather actually used to compete. We stopped and watched them for a little bit and talked to a couple of the competitors.

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There was one last place that was essential to try before Rachel left. I had takeout from  Olarn Thai Cuisine , and noticed they had a place to eat authentically- shoes off and cross-legged. I have been itching to try it and Rach likes unique cuisine and exploring different culture as well. We LOVED it.

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I ordered the red curry with pumpkin. PUMPKIN! YESSS. Finally! Cue high-pitched girls squealing! It’s that time of year. Bring on the pumpkin! The red curry and pumpkin complemented eachother perfectly. Plus it was super spicy, which is right up my alley.

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Sunday- September 4th

Early Sunday morning (meaning around 5 am), I had to take Rach to the airport. It was such a hard goodbye. I couldn’t believe how quickly the week had come and gone. The sunrise above the mountains helped make the drive back a little less sad.

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Thankfully our sister-in-law was in town (DJs twin), and so the fun could continue!! We went to church, and then she said wanted to do a hike, music to my ears! We did the same six/seven-miler hike that I did with my mom a week prior.

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We had worked up an appetite after our hike and decided to split some appetizers at Rootstock on main street before getting dinner. They have an awesome selection of different bruschetta, so we sampled a few. Amy is probably the funniest person to grace this planet, and also one of the most genuine, so our afternoon was filled with nothing but laughs and good conversation.

The experience at Olarn was just so darn uniquely fun (and yummy!), so I suggested we try it again. Amy wanted to try something off the beaten path while she was here, and this was perfect! We tried the roti paratha for an appetizer with peanut sauce and it was some of the best roti. Once again with “the best”- BUT HONESTLY. I would never lie about roti!  It was so flaky and warm and crunchy. I need to learn to make this at home. I tried the Emerald Seafood in Green Curry (doggone’ tasty), and Amy had the Drunken Noodles. Drunken noodles are a favorite for many people that like Thai. They are broad rice noodles with usually a soy sauce and garlic base and then either seafood or chicken.

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After we went back home and DJ took a break from studying to play The Office Boardgame with us. THIS WAS TOO MUCH FUN!!!! I am in the last season and not quite finished, but goodness gracious, DJ and Amy are experts. I think they both have seen it like ten times, each. If you are an Office fan, GET THIS GAME NOW. I was Meredith, DJ was Creed, and Amy was Toby. I was tempted to be Dwight, because I quite honestly think that is who I am most like. But I just loved the sassy look on Meredith’s face. Who would you be?

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Monday- Labor Day, September 5th

We didn’t have any huge plans for Labor Day. As you can tell the last couple weeks were jam-packed with activity so we didn’t mind just taking it easy.

Occasionally I get a CRAVING for an Indian Dish called Idly. It is a breakfast rice cake essentially that you dip in sambar or chutneys. When I was in India I could not get enough. For my wedding shower last year my mom got me an Idly maker, woohoo!

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After this cooking endeavor, we got a bit more of a normal breakfast at Vitality Bowls. Amy has never tried the Acai bowls, so naturally I had to make sure she got her Cali fix before heading back home.

Then she hit the road (or jumped on her plane) to head back to Colorado. I NEED to visit her there soon. My other sister (older sister) lives in Colorado too. I am super anxious to go, maybe after the NCLEX?! Ohhhh- now I’m all motivated.

The rest of the week consisted of DJ’s regular routine of being a studious law slave  student, and I caught up on laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, and began studying.

Also- HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dear friend Morgan. Love you, Mo!

Wishing you Thai-riffic Tuesday,

xo <3

Mack