Friday Favorites – August/September

Woah. It has been a busy 2 months. Mike and I have attended 3 friends weddings, I went to Spain in September, exciting things have been happening at work, we’re looking at houses on the weekends, you get it.

I didn’t get a chance to post my Friday Favorites in August, which is kind of annoying because I’ve done it every month this year. Oh, well! Read on to see what I’ve been loving over the past 2 months.

Wedding season!

We were lucky to celebrate 3 beautiful couples getting married this year (coincidentally all within 6 weeks). I love weddings and seeing all of the individual touches that reflect the couple.

Our first wedding was in August on a sunny afternoon in Half Moon Bay. It was a gorgeous garden wedding, followed by the best food in a cute restaurant.

In early September, we headed over the hill to Santa Cruz and to toast Lauren and Ian (who we’ve been to Vegas, Yosemite, and many other places with over the years). Every detail of this wedding was immaculate and beautiful.

Just last weekend we witnessed our friends and neighbors get married at a cathedral in downtown. The celebration continued at a local winery. It was the sweetest venue with bistro lights and a cozy, fall vibe.

All 3 weddings were a blast!

Vegan coffee creamers

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I forgot how good Nut pods was until we went camping in early August. I brought this creamer because I knew I liked it and figured it would keep relatively well in the cooler. It’s so creamy dreamy, I can’t get enough.

I’ve also been loving Califia’s Better Half. If you know me, you know I love anything Wiz (…get it? A playon to Wiz Khalifa? Ok, ok, inside joke… 👋 Michelle;)

Flirting with Fall

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HELLO FALL! Pumpkin everything (I said it). And cute falling leaf window decals. All about all of it.

My patio lettuce 

My mama Llama gifted me a romaine plant for my patio. It’s very convenient when you want to add a pop of green to your meal and don’t have a ton of food in the house. It’s actually the lettuce you see in my cheap & easy BBQ jackfruit post.

It’s also a delicious addition to veg hummus wraps.

Come back for more next month! Xx

Cheap & easy bbq jackfruit

I’m hesitant to admit this but I don’t test my recipes multiple times before posting. Mostly because this isn’t my full time job and I don’t have the bandwidth to try and tweak things. But also because my version of cooking isn’t fussy. It’s about using whole ingredients, using what I have on hand, and not wasting food.

When I’m making something that I think will be good, I’ll snap photos during and, if it turns out delicious, I’ll post it. Veg-vibes is far from professional though. Some strangers and some friends have asked if I plan to dedicate more time to my blog to get more of a following. To this, I (mostly) jokingly answer: I just don’t have the time to be famous right now… 🤷‍♀️

BUT I still love blogging. I like being able to go back and see how I made that one thing that was really good* or sending blog posts to people when they ask for recommendations about a place I’ve been to. Heck, sometimes I’ll scroll through my own blog just because I’m bored. You know, low-key lurking …yourself status.

I find joy in posting recipes I’ve created and travel recaps for friends, family, and the occasional internet passer-by to read but, veg-vibes mostly serves as an artifact for me.

And when it comes to what I create in the kitchen, I’m not about elaborate recipe tests or special trips to the store. My posts are short and simple without a whole lot of prep.

…But of course, there is an exception to that rule: jackfruit.

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Y’all. I was intimidated by attempting to make the all-trendy BBQ jackfruit in lieu of pulled pork. Uncharacteristically, I even recipe tested and made it once before actually posting.

I’m happy to report that both times it turned out pretty damn good. And, at $1.99 a can from Trader Joes, jackfruit is a lot cheaper than pork! I highly recommend you give this recipe a try. It’s in line with the veg-vibes’ way and is actually really easy to put together; although more time intensive than most of the meals you’ll find in this corner of the internet.

Feel free to double the recipe and freeze half (defrosting in the refrigerator the night before) for a quick lunch or dinner in the future.

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Cheap & easy bbq jackfruit

Prep time: 5 minutes – Cook time: 40 – Servings: 2 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can jackfruit (note: it seems like most people on the internet freak out about the jackfruit in brine but that’s the one I used both times and it was fine – just be sure to rinse it!)
  • 5 -6 scallion roots, chopped
  • A small amount to oil of your choice to saute the scallions in
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (I used Trader Joe’s organic brown sugar one)

Directions:

  • Drain and rinse your jackfruit
  • Leave your jackfruit to strain and chop the scallions
  • Add oil and scallions to a pan over high heat and saute until translucent
  • Add strained jackfruit and water to pan, reduce heat to medium/low, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Once jackfruit has tenderized, use tongs to shred (should resemble pulled pork)
  • Add BBQ sauce, mix, and transfer mixture to a baking sheet
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Take out, stir, and enjoy (preferably on a sandwich:)

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*Some of my favorite concoctions to recreate are this soup, this sauce, and this meal

SPAIN

Earlier this month, I flew out to Malaga, Spain (birthplace to Pablo Picasso) for a work trip. As to be expected, the tapas and wine were plentiful. The town squares were beautiful; complete with marble floors, palm trees, and fountains. There were castles and cathedrals to explore; new trendy stores housed in old historic buildings; sea breezes and siestas.

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We arrived on Sunday, after flying from San Francisco to Paris to Malaga. Our hotel was only a block from a canal that runs through the city, which made for easy navigating. After unpacking and showering, we met a few colleagues at El Mesón de Cervantes.

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The restaurant was a short 10 minute walk from the hotel and rated well on trip advisor. We started with wine and olives. Something I loved about Malaga was that instead of a bread basket, you get a olive bowl to start your meal when dining out. We also ordered grilled octopus, Iberico ham, mushroom risotto, and salmon.

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The company was good, the food delicious, and the wine flowing. Not a bad first night there!

…That was until I got back to my hotel.

We got back around 11pm, which was around 2pm in California. I Facetime’d my mom for a little bit before falling asleep. Sadly, I only stayed asleep for about 4 hours before waking up pretty distraught. I am prone to homesickness and being solo on this trip hit me hard.

Fortunately, I was able to chat with my mom and Mike again, since it was still early at home. Unfortunately, not being able to sleep on my first night was some cruel foreshadowing to how the rest of my week would be.

I finally fell asleep around 6:30am and, with a start time of 9:30am on Monday, felt pretty worn-down during those first meetings! Particularly because I didn’t sleep on the flights to Spain either.

Thankfully I was able to take a quick nap before dinner that night. Siestas were the real deal in Spain. Like the locals, we ate most dinners late and stayed out after for drinks a few nights. Naps in the middle of the day equaled survival.

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The restaurant we had dinner at on Monday

On Tuesday our meetings were in a new location, which meant figuring out how to get there early in the morning with little sleep (I seriously could not fall asleep there at a decent hour). We were lucky to have the canal to help navigate the city but unfortunately, there was construction near the co-working space we had booked. A lot of Google Maps action on this trip! Eventually we made it to the location and settled in for a day of meetings.

I tried to squeeze every minute I could out of the schedule to catch some shuteye. This often meant skipping breakfast before meetings in lieu of sleeping in. In between meetings, I had a chance to step outside and grab a coffee from a cafe recommended to me by the co-working space organizer. She raved about the churros and chocolate at this place and although I really wanted to try them, I was feeling rundown. Instead I opted for a banana from a small fruit stand nearby (also stocking up on oranges for vitamin C) because I knew that was what my body really needed.

I was able to head back to the hotel midday and, on the way, grabbed a nourishing hummus bowl for lunch. Eating healthy while running on little-to-no sleep was a top priority for me.

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I caught a few Zzz’s before heading out again to explore a castle in the town. As one of my colleagues described it, the castle offered layers and layers of history; a history lasagna, if you will. I was excited to check this bad boy out but sadly, after a steep walk up to the enormous brick building, we discovered the entry fee had to be paid in Euros, and not credit card.

Wah-wah-wah…

Back down the hill it was. (We did get a few pictures at the top though so, still a semi-successful trip.) And time for (more) tapas! My friend Keely and I chatted over beers, olives, ham and melon, Spanish cheese, and spicy potatoes. The food was so good but arguably a lot before heading to a team dinner. 🙂

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The outside walls of the castle

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Views of the port

On Wednesday (half way through the trip) I succumbed to my lack of sleep and skipped the morning session of meetings. Because of my role, I was lucky to have the flexibility to do this; and gratefully so, because it was the little nudge I needed to make it through the next few days. Ah, what your body and brain can do after 6 hours of sleep…!

I met up with everyone for lunch at a foodcourt in a nearby mall and let me tell you, this food court was not your standard strip-mall nosh-mill. This place was fancy. Who doesn’t love a foodcourt with some swagger?

After lunch, a few of us grabbed espressos. We were handed legit stay-here-and-sip mini shots.

“…Um, excuse me? Can we please get these to go please?”

“No. No take away. Sit, sip, and enjoy.”

Wait, wha? Such a cultural difference. This cafe actually did not have to-go cups. You were meant to stay there and enjoy your coffee, not rush off to your next meeting. Similar to when I was in New Orleans, where things just move slower, I was like, this is annoying. I was also too timid to ask for almond milk anywhere in fear of my California stripes showing… Instead I drank everything black, which I don’t normally do. All this to say, it took some grit to pound my espresso and make it back in time for the next meeting.

Having the luxury of enjoying a coffee without taking it to-go is nice in theory but, in execution, I’m more of a let’s get this java on the road kind of girl.

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That evening we went to dinner at Recyclo Bike Cafe, where – like the name suggests – there are a bunch of bikes decorating the walls. I picked this place for 2 reasons; 1. it was a 5 minute walk from our hotel and 2. I wanted to take pictures for Mike, who loves bikes.

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I had been eating a lot more meat than I normally do so wanted to stick to something veg for dinner. I opted for the black beans, avocado, and feta tacos. They didn’t come on a standard corn tortillas, but more of a corn bun (pic below), which turned out to be very filling.

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After dinner we walked to the port to see the ocean. I was all for getting steps and hopefully tiring myself out. We saw some cool sights; both historic and modern. Our evening ended with a stroll on the beach and then back to the hotel (for another sleepless night… boo!).

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Thursday was our last day before leaving on a very early flight on Friday. Not sleeping finally caught up with me and I woke up with a cough and a running nose. Plus, I woke up late which is always freakin’ stressful, let alone when you’re not feeling well.

I got ready in a flash – brushed my teeth and hair, threw something on that resembled an outfit, filled in my eyebrows – and hustled to the meeting location; walked along side the canal, detoured for construction, finally there.

Cough, cough. Tissue for a running nose. Trying not to be disruptive…

Eventually it was time for lunch. I wondered around the allies nearby and came across a cute vegan cafe. I ordered a burger and asked if they had french fries or, “chips?” (mentally wondering, is it only “chips” in the U.K. or here too?). After a fews rounds, and with the help of a nice Italian tourist who translated a bit for me, the cafe owner explained she made herself a batch of sweet potato fries that I could have a few of. She turned one in her finger and told me “just olive oil, salt, and garlic.”

A small part of me thought, this would not fly in America with our restaurant/food laws… That voice was quieted quickly. When in Rome Spain! I was walking back to the office shortly after with the best vegan burger and homemade sweet potato fries (chips?) I’ve had in a long time.

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I tried to solider through afternoon meetings but ended up leaving early. I slept for a solid 4 hours back at the hotel and woke up feeling much better. Just in time for our last dinner in Spain.

We walked down to the port again. Olives and beer to start. Fish dish after fish dish followed, tapas style. I was feeling better but not 100% and ended up eating a lot of bread instead of trying to stomach the clams.

I went back to the hotel to pack after. And, instead of trying at another failed attempt of sleeping, decided to just stay up until 5am when it was time to leave for the airport.

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From wine country to camping

So you know all of the times I’ve mentioned hiking Half Dome in the past few months? Well, it was a bust. Sadly, Yosemite was closed down because of fires the weekend we were supposed to go.

The group of friends we were going with made last minute reservations at Camp Nauvoo in Placerville. Mike and I decided to meet them there for the weekend but enjoy the 2 days we’d taken off in wine country.

I’ve been wanting to stay at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn for some time now and, with an already planned few days off, we booked a room. We arrived Wednesday evening, greeted with glasses of bubbles to kick things off. Then we found a cozy spot in the lobby. Generally I think hotel lobbies/bars are underrated. Mike and I love ordering a drink (and maybe a few noshes) and just hanging out in the lobby. The seating is usually plentiful and comfy; you don’t have to travel far (just a few steps from your room); and who doesn’t feel like a badass charging your final bill “to the room?”

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On Saturday morning, our biggest accomplishment was clocking some hours on our wedding website. Over coffee and tea, we wrote “our story,” listed our favorite places to visit and eat near our house, and outlined wedding logistics for our guests. A fun thing to do together and – added bonus – something off of our To Do list.

Next, we thought it was a good idea to walk into town to a local market for some picnic ingredients and then to a winery. Overall our picnic was fun but the walk there was a sweltering one.

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The heat was all but forgotten once we had our snacks and wine. We were supposed to be wrapping up hiking Half Dome at that point… I’ll say vino and charcuterie aren’t bad alternative plans.

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We took a Lyft back, changed into our bathing suits, and headed right for the mineral pool at the Fairmount. My biggest complaint about this hotel was their only hot tub was in the spa area, that you had to pay to use. I was initially annoyed when I found out about this but, pleasantly, the regular mineral pool was like a bath (love it) and felt silky smooth. I didn’t miss the hot tub after all.

After a dip, we laid out and caught up on some reading, which is one of my favorite vacation activities. I dozed off for a little bit and woke up hungry. We went back to the hotel to shower and change, anticipating heading to the hotel restaurant for dinner.  Sadly the menu didn’t look that great… Instead we walked over to Cochon Volant BBQ, which is a cute hole in the wall eatery with good BBQ, cold beer, spicy sauce, and sub-pare sides.

Mike and I spilt an order of the Carolina pulled pork, coleslaw, and mac n’ cheese fritters. We ordered 2 pints and sipped slowly on the patio in-between bites. (Sad I forgot to take a picture!)

We ended the night with a game of corn hole on the hotel lawn. It was one of those perfectly warm nights that follow a dreadfully hot day.

The next morning I woke up early for a free yoga class in the gym. Rule of thumb: never pass up a free yoga class! I felt so great after spending a full hour tending to it (#YogawithAdriene) that morning. If only I could make that happen every morning…

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Not wanting to research another place to eat, we went back to the same restaurant and ordered the same breakfast as the day before. Then we went for one last dip in the pool before packing up and heading out to part II of our vacation.

Next up? Camping. We arrived at Camp Nauvoo much later than anticipated because of traffic. Most of our party was already there, fully immersed in camping. We piled our stuff in these carts the camp provides and trucked everything up a hill to camp. After pitching our tent, we caught up with a few friends there before dinner.

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Every year on this annual trip the meals are broken up between groups. The “Friday group” made Indian for dinner that worked out better than I think we all expected. We went to bed on the earlier side. I read once that sleeping outside can help reset your sleeping schedule and I think it’s true. I always sleep well camping.

I woke up early on Saturday and attempted to shower but the water was freezing. Wah! Baby wipes it was…

After a quick breakfast (and a cup of much needed coffee; one of the perks at Camp Nauvoo is their keurig) we were off on an adventure to a nearby swimming hole.

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Trying to figure our how to get down

A steep climb down a sandy hill and we were the only ones at this swimming hole oasis. The rocks were a little slippery, and the water took some getting used to, but this place was pure feel-like-a-kid-again magic.

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We splashed around, ate sandwiches, and drank rosé for about a hour before skirting our way over rocks and through waterfalls to a deeper section. There was a mossy flat rock that we all sat on and watched people from another party rope swing. Of course Mike wanted to join in on the jumping fun, which I was pretty nervous about. And since we’re getting married (!) he had to take my feelings into account… 😉

In the end, I knew if Mike felt safe doing it, he would be fine. So he jumped. And he jumped. Again and again, he climbed up there and made my heart stop for a few seconds every time. Haha

I, on the other hand, kept my booty on that moss covered rock the whole time. Over the years I’ve learned most things are more mental than physical. Physically, I knew I could jump and be fine! Mentally… I didn’t trust myself to actually let go. And that’s the last thing you need on a vacation; some chick dangling (crying) from a rope swing, stuck suspended in air because she couldn’t let go.

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We eventually retraced our steps, climbed up the hill, and drove back to camp. We had pasta for dinner, played a few games, and slept under the stars one last time.

…Until next year (beach camping here we come)!

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Black bean and breadcrumb burgers

Some people like stocking their cabinets with a lot of food. A whole bunch of canned goods and snacks waiting there to be eaten. I don’t know why but having a brimming pantry oddly just makes me a bit anxious… A part of it could be that we don’t have a ton of space to store food. Living in a smaller condo, I basically have 3 shelfs that I keep my non-perishable items on and I don’t like them jam packed. Is this weird?

Anyway, all of this to say, I had 2 cans of black beans and some breadcrumbs I was itching to get rid of. A quick look in my refrigerator confirmed there were also 2 eggs ready to use. Time for some homemade black bean burgers, y’all.

This recipe is only 5 ingredients and can easily be made in bulk to freeze and heat up again later. These black beans burgers are the best non-meat patties I’ve made so far. The egg and breadcrumbs bind the beans well so they don’t fall apart when you’re cooking or eating them.

I added some cumin for flavor and they were perfect. Although I’m not sure they are cheaper than buying already made veggie burgers, I love that I know exactly what is in them.

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Black bean and breadcrumb burgers

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 5 – 7 minutes | Servings: 6  *freezes well*

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of black beans
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs of cumin
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs

Directions:

  • Rinse and strain your black beans
  • Pat them with a paper towel to make sure they are completely dry
  • Mash them with a fork until they are a paste consistency
  • Add breadcrumbs, eggs, garlic, and cumin
  • Mix together and mold into patties
  • Freeze for later (I suggest defrosting in the refrigerator the night before using them) or pan fry to cook
  • Serve protein style* with fresh tomato, lettuce, and a yummy side 🙂

*Because of the breadcrumbs already in there, I didn’t want to eat these on a bun

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Black diamonds, black beans
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All of the ingredients together in one bowl
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The finished product, ready to freeze

 

Shirley Canyon Hike

In May Mike and I tried to hike the Shirley Canyon trail in Squaw Valley. We weren’t able to finish the hike because of snow at the top and a looming storm. The weekend was still fun but we made a plan to come back and conquer the trail before we are set to hike Half Dome in August.

This past weekend was the chosen one. On Saturday we left our house at 7am and drove up to Tahoe. We arrived just after 10:30am, grabbed a quick snack for fuel, and headed to the trail. It was hotter and a lot more crowded this time around. We even contemplated turning around because there were so many people at the start of the hike. Luckily, the crowds dispersed eventually… The trial has a lot of sections that you have to climb over boulders or granite slabs and I found it stressful to have people around or behind me.

In the end I’m glad we didn’t turn around but holy, this hike was hard. When we made it to the point where we turned around last time, I thought we were about 3/4 there. Sadly I was dead wrong. We were maybe halfway at that point. I swear, the Shirley Cannon trial can be alternatively named the Trail that Seemingly Never Ends. At this point, basically every person we crossed paths with had the same sentiment as us. We were all like, will we ever make it to the top?

We eventually got to Shirley Lake, a glimmer of hope and motivation! At this point, we were covered in dirt, we had reapplied sunscreen numerous times, and – while we were well hydrated – we were cutting it close to running out of water. No big deal, I thought. We are so close anyway. We’re basically there. 

Wrong again. So, so wrong.

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About 30 minutes – a many inclines – later, we were finally at the top. Lucky for us, making it to the top of this hike means you have access to a pool, hot tub, beer, lunch, and a free tram ride back to the bottom.

Overall, our hike took longer than we thought it would. We only had about 2 hours to spend up in paradise. We ate quickly and jumped right in the pool. Ahhhh. It felt incredible to be done with the hike and just chillin’ out. We dipped in the hot tub after and then decided to catch the first tram down before the line got outrageous.

I’m not opposed to hiking Shirley Cannon again. It is a really beautiful trail, despite it being a long way to the top.  I think half of the struggle was not knowing how much time we had left though. Next time we do it, I will know what to expect; which I think will make it more manageable.

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The pool at the top!

We checked into our room at the resort around 4pm. I didn’t want to take a nap but of course, fell victim to sleepiness. I dozed off for about 45 minutes and woke up with a headache. Bummer!

We had reservations at a new Italian place on the resort grounds and I was determined not to let my headache ruin our dinner. Likely against the advice of a doctor, I ordered a glass of wine and took an ibuprofen.

Luckily my headache quickly went away. I almost never take medication so I think my body responded to it strongly and almost immediately. I was thankful to be able to enjoy the evening with Mike. Especially because our food was so good! I will never pay for anything but house-made pasta in a restaurant again! Ha.

We started with complimentary bread and olives (such a nice touch!) while we sipped our wine, enjoying the gorgeous mountain views. For an appetizer, we spilt an order of the calamari and each got a pasta dish for dinner.

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After dinner we had a nightcap in the hotel lobby while listening to some live music. Romantic!

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Having had a long day, we went back to our room around 10pm. Mike crashed but I wasn’t ready for bed (maybe because of my nap?). Instead I indulged in a bubble bath, the rest of my wine from dinner (is that weird that I nursed the glass that long?), and a book. Not too shabby.

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Obeying our Squaw tradition, we started Sunday with coffee/tea and a hot tub sesh. After showering and packing up, we met my grandparents nearby for an early lunch. We left the Tahoe area around 1:30pm and didn’t get home until 7:30pm! There was a huge accident that added about a hour to our ETA.

We also stopped in Pleasant Hill to try Urban Plates for dinner. I follow Ashley Pitt over at A Lady Goes West and she raves about this place. I will say there is a lot to rave about. I ordered a plate of organic chicken, Brussel sprouts, and mac n’ cheese (with a side of bread included), plus a glass of a red blend for $21. It was a good way to end the weekend.

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Friday Favorites – July

Hiking

Mike and I are hiking Half Dome in Yosemite next month. To prepare, we’ve been trying to go on some nice long hikes. Around here, we’ve hiked Quicksilver; which proved to be very difficult on a hot day… We plan to do Windy Hill soon too.

In the future, I really want to do some of the Lost Coast Trial.

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 New books!

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Amazon Prime Day was all about books for me.

I’m trying to carve out more time to read. Who doesn’t love getting lost in a good book? I find when I read fiction, I’m more likely to read quicker. Overall I also like non-fiction but never find them to be page turners.

I’m currently reading Hey Ladies, which is a very lighthearted book about a group of friends and their email exchanges to each other over a year. A lot of the emails are relatable and pretty funny. I’m enjoying the book but it’s more stylistic than really telling a strong story, so I can’t say it’s my favorite.  Good for a quick read though!

I am really looking forward to reading Bear Town, which my future mother and sister in law both raved about. The Favorite Sister is in the pile too, our first book in #bookclub. The Perfect Mother looks very intriguing so I’m hoping to get through the other two first and dive into this one ASAP. I also just heard great things about The Nightingale, a hand-me-down from my grandma. So many books, so little time…!


Surfing Sundays

Mike and I have been going down to Santa Cruz on Sunday mornings and it’s been a great way to end the weekend. He surfs and I alternate between reading in a cute cafe or reading on the beach. Bliss.

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Cute little flower van outside of the cafe

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Engagement gifts!

We registered on Amazon for our engagement party and let me tell you how fun it is to come home to presents waiting for you on your doorstep! We got so many sweet gifts (I already mentioned our wine cooler last month). I’ve been loving using all of our new pieces, which have mostly been for the kitchen.

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A full cooking set from my friend sister Kristina
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Cooking books! Community was from Mike’s sister in Australia
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How nice are these S&P shakers from the future in-laws?  Not going to lie, these make me feel very much like an adult! 🙂
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Guac, anyone!?

Also a HUGE thank you to my mama llama, who planned our engagement party. It was a dream!

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Other Friday Faves:
January
February
March
April
May
June

2017
Friday Favorites #5
Friday Favorites #4
Friday Favorites #3
Friday Favorites #2
Friday Favorites #1


Something new! 

An intention set for next month: In August I hope to start meditating. Stay tuned.