Color Factory

Mike and I visited the Color Factory in San Francisco a few weeks ago. Holy photo ops! 😉

It was a fun experience and worth the money (tickets were $35/person), mostly because you get treats along the way. You start the journey walking down rainbow steps. (Pretty sure this is also when Mike realized we were going to be taking way more pictures than he wanted to that evening… must.capture.everything.)

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At the bottom of the steps, a Color Factory employee greets you, tells you a few rules and gives you your photo cards that you can scan during your experience to take HD pictures in the rooms. Our first pic is below. 🙂

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There’s a Willy-Wonka-feeling smell wall after. I was less than impressed with this but that could have been because THERE WAS SO MUCH COLOR WAITING TO BE EXPLORED.

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Plus, MACAROONS!

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A back and white room was next, complete with charcoal lemonade to sample.

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After macaroons and lemonade, was the orange room; a room that was painted orange with an orange couch and orange things on the walls. I think this is something I could have put together but whatever! It warranted a picture nonetheless.

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Next was a tiny room filled with balloons. Pretty cool! This was the first room that was more interactive, which I enjoyed.

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We ran into a plethora of disco balls after, in a room that was playing old disco hits.

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Then, a giant light bright. Sounds super Silicon Valley but I was kinda like, been there, seen that at the Googs

In typically Mike fashion, he explained the wall to me and the mechanics behind it. Also super Silicon Valley, an engineer fiancé. ❤

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We were dumped into a bright white room with 5 foot green markers after. I think this room is better in theory than reality. It turns out, a marker that is as big as you are is hard to use. (Disclaimer: the photo below is staged — I did not have the talent, or the strength, to draw that heart.)

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My second favorite was next! 10,000 colored ribbons hanging from the ceiling to walk through. It felt whimsical to be surrounded by all of those ribbons, despite the little kids you couldn’t see in there that were constantly bumping into you. lol

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THEN THE BEST ROOM OF ALL TIME.

One word. Confetti.

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It was so fun scoping up handfuls of confetti and throwing them up above us. Like, I want a confetti room at my next birthday.

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The only downside, confetti everywhere. (I was finding pieces in my purse for days.)

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(There was also a “selfie” room, that had a printer spitting out selfies from the internet every second. They were all over the floor, black and white selfies everywhere. And… that was kind of it…?

To be fair, maybe there was some profound artistic message that was lost on me. Idk, either way, no photos of this room.)

The big sha-bang ending was the yellow room/ball pit. Again, I’m already familiar with the ball pit game from my days at Google but this one was massive and had cameras on the ceiling to take pics like these:

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As to be expected, diving into a ball pit is still as fun as it was as a kid. But, hot!

A sweaty, swell time.

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After the ball pit, we got our last treat. An ice cream cone that wasn’t photographed.

Overall, I’m glad we went and recommend going if you can snag tickets! Just be sure your phone is charged. 📸

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Friday Favorites – January edition

Read on to see what I’ve been loving this month!

Cocokind Organic Skincare 

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My manager bought this sampler kit for me for Christmas and when I opened it, I was like, are we best friends!? I’ve been wanting to try this product for a while and it does not disappoint. I don’t use it everyday. I don’t always use all of the products at one time. But when I do use it, bliss. Every time.

On New Years Day, I started my morning by doing the whole regimen. My skin felt so clean and soft after. I don’t have the time It’s not a priority for me to do a whole skincare circuit every night (a simple face scrub in the shower usually works for me). That being said, I do find myself reaching for the cocokind moisturizer almost everyday.

Somebody Feed Phil

Who has watched this on Netflix? It’s my current binge. The producer of Everybody Loves Raymon – Phil – travels to different parts of the world trying local cuisine. …I know, I know, this kind of thing has been done a million times but, for some reason, I really like this show. (Although, sometimes I find Phil a little annoying… hah)

One of the episodes is in New Orleans, where I recently booked a ticket to for a bachelorette party in June. Exciting!

Another good one was in Vietnam. Mike and I are throwing around honeymoon ideas and when he mentioned Vietnam, it was a hard no. “Was” being the operative word… After watching the episode in Ho Chi Minh (and reading a few of my future sister in law’s blog posts on visiting Vietnam), I’m thinking, maybe… Stay tuned. 😉

Natural deodorant

THIS IS LIFE CHANGING. I’ve been looking for a natural deodorant that actually works for years and I finally found it. The only weird/kind of inconvenient thing about it is that you have to apply it by scoping the paste on your fingers, rolling it around to semi-liquify the deodorant, and then spread it under your armpits. It’s a intimate thing to do first thing in the morning when you’re half asleep…

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New to us/old blender 

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My mom and stepdad were getting rid of their Breville blender and asked if Mike and I wanted it. Um, yes! There’s a joke that Mike’s family loves any Breville (between us and them, we must be racking in like, 15 appliances) but I understand why. They’re such good products. Mike and I have their tea maker, espresso machine, toaster oven, and now, a blender!

Side note: I didn’t know what my mom was talking about until she brought it to my house. I instantly remembered it from my illegal margaritas when the ‘rents were out of town smoothie making days when I lived at home. Aside from it being a BREVILLE, I love that the jug (?) is stainless steel vs. plastic or glass. Everything stays so cold! …Perfect for a marg. 😉

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All of the Breville

This coffee cup

Speaking of my mama llama, she got me this “A” cup for Christmas and it quickly became my favorite. It fits perfectly under my (#breville) espresso maker for those morning cups of java and I love anything with an A on it.

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Buddha Bowl Foods

I went to visit my friend, Lauren, for lunch at Facebook last week and looted a bag of Himalayan Pink Salt Popcorn from Buddha Bowl Foods. Omg, love! I hope they sell this at Whole Foods or … I’m going to need her to start snagging bags. 😉

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Thyme roasted carrot hummus

Like many of my recipes, my inspo for this came from Oh She Glows. That, and a pesky bag of Trader Joe’s roasted carrots I’ve been trying to get rid of…

In the new year, when I was doing a big TJ’s haul, I came across a bag of multicolored roasted carrots in the freezer aisle. FUN, I thought, picking up a bag and putting it in my cart. Apparently I was the only one who thought cooked carrots were fun delicious…

A week or two passed and I still had that bag of roasted carrots in my freezer when I found out my grandparents would be coming down to visit. One of my favorite things to do is cook for my family and friends so I knew I wanted to make them dinner the night they arrived. I had a plan to make chicken in our sous vide, garlic cheesy bread, peas, and those roasted carrots!

…Until my grandma told me my grandpa doesn’t like cooked carrots (what!?). I nixed the carrots and told Mike. That’s when he told me he actually doesn’t like cooked carrots either (double what!?).

Fast forward to a girl’s night at my next door neighbors’ house last week. We were doing wine and heavy apps. I brought cheese, salami, hummus, snap peas, spanakopita, and, as a last minute edition, I cooked up those roasted carrots. Badda bing, I was going to use them after all!

Or so I thought… Everything was a hit, except for the carrots.

Full of apps wine, and laughs, I walked home with my glass container still full of roasted carrots. Damn. I really hate wasting food so I plopped them in my refrigerator hoping I would get around to eating them (the whole bag, by myself) before they turned…

AND THEN I stumbled upon the genius idea to make hummus with them. Yes! Let’s go.

The great thing about this recipe is the carrots basically double your hummus volume. Plus, if you cheat and buy pre-roasted carrots like I did, it’s super simple. Also a win, Mike is going to eat those roasted carrots and have no idea 😉 mwahahaha

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Thyme roasted carrot hummus

Prep time:  10 minutes – Cook time: 5 minutes – Servings: A LOT 

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of roasted carrots* (if you can’t find the pre-roasted, I would follow the Oh She Glows recipe on how to roast them yourself)
  • 1 can or box (no BPA!) of chickpeas
  • Chickpea water, reserved
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • Garlic clove and salt to taste
  • Cumin to taste (optional)

*note: the carrots I bought were roasted in thyme but I think you can change the herb here to whatever you have on hand

Directions: 

  • Add everything but the carrots to a blender and blend until smooth
  • Slowly add carrots and blend until smooth
  • Pour out and serve with veggies and crackers

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Look at all of that HUMMUS!

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Vegan Taco Salad (with lentil and walnut “meat”)

Ehyooo. My first post of 2018. In 2016 and 2017 I sat down and wrote meaningful pieces about the year ahead.

2018 is a whole different ball game, y’all. I know everyone says this but, THERE JUST ISN’T ENOUGH TIME. Updating my blog has been at the bottom of a long list…

That being said, I’m going on 3 months at a job I love (and that keeps me busy). I’ve been doing more yoga than ever. I feel caught up with a lot of friends and family. My house has recovered from the holidays. And we’re eating pretty healthy around here. Speaking of….. what’s better than a taco salad loaded with fresh ingredients? (How about that segue, huh?;)

I love Mexican food (California girl!) but often feel too full after (which may or may not be because my actual superhero power is to finish any burrito ever – no matter the size!). Self control are two words I just don’t know when there’s yummy goodness wrapped in a tortilla in front of me. Who else!?

That’s why taco salads are great. (Especially in January; coming off a month of nothing but indulgence.) All of the flavor without having to exercise my superhero powers of polishing off a burrito the size of my head.

We had a giant taco salad for dinner the other night and it was so satisfying. Plus, I bet most people would mistake the lentil and walnut “meat” for actual ground beef. #notjoking it’s so good. Seriously. Make it tonight!

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Note: inspo for this recipe came from Oh She Glows. Alternations are based on what was and wasn’t in my kitchen already.

Another note: I don’t have a food processor and a blender works …alright. Truth be told, it takes time and effort to keep scraping down the sides of the blender to get it all blended. For this reason, it’s great to make extra here so you can freeze and use later. (Also, is it just me or is washing the blender the most annoying kitchen appliance to get clean? So many nooks and crannies!)


Lentil and walnut “meat”

Prep time:  10 minutes – Cook time: 25 minutes – Servings: 4 -6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • Chopped white ends of a bunch of scallions
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1.5 teaspoons oregano
  • 1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
  • .5 teaspoon paprika

Directions:

  • Bring 1 cup green lentil and water covering them to a boil; reduce, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until soft
  • While lentils are cooking, heat walnuts in a nonstick pan at a low heat* (stirring occasionally) and chop white ends of scallions
  • Once walnuts are heated and giving off a toasted aroma, place in blender
  • Add olive oil and scallions to pan and sauté until tender (I turned the stove off after this and let the scallions sit until the lentils were softened)
  • When ready, add lentils to same pan and stir in spice mixture
  • Add lentils, spices, and scallions to blender with walnuts
  • Blend well until ingredients are fully incorporated  (should have a crumble texture)
  • Scope out and serve in tacos, burritos, or on a taco salad!

*you can also do this in your oven but I prefer using the pan for less dishes!


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The flavor.. 🙂
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Before
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Blended!

 

Holiday festivities

Oh, whoa. How are we already down to the last 2 weeks of December?! This year flew by. It seems like every year is over faster than the last, doesn’t it?

Like most people around this time, Mike and I have been jam-packed these past few weeks. This past week/weekend was particularly crazy. On Thursday my team and I had an offsite at Sur La Table in Palo Alto, where we spent the afternoon drinking wine and cooking. Talk about team bonding! We cooked up some nom Thai food and learned a few cool cooking tricks. Did you know a potato peeler peels both up and down?! I didn’t! The time I could’ve been saving by peeling on the way up too (instead of taking the peeler off of the vegetable before peeling down again)!

Lucky us, the fun didn’t stop on Thursday! On Friday, Upwork rented out a theater for everyone to see the new Star Wars movie. We even had shirts made for the occasion. So fun!

Work hard, play hard y’all.

After the movie, Mike and I headed up to San Francisco for a little staycation. My holiday party was in the city on Saturday evening so we decided to get a hotel room up there for the weekend. We took the train (valet parking was $55/night! what!?) and walked the mile or so to the Intercontinental. I love walking, especially through cities where there is so much to see.

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We quickly checked in and headed right back out to meet my friend Debbie for hot pot near Golden Gate Park. We ate a place called Nabe that Debs suggested. Debbie and I went to high school together and I know the girl is good with restaurant recommendations. She always picks yummy places that are healthy. My kind of gal!

Mike and I had never had hot pot before and it didn’t disappoint. As the title suggests,  a “hot pot” that is filled with boiling broth is placed in front of you. Depending on what you order, an array of vegetables and meats are brought out and you cook them in the pot. The broth was delicious (a part of me was like, there has to be MSG in here… mer) and it is a lot of food with all of the sides and the rice they give you. Definitely worth a try!

We kicked off Saturday morning with brunch at Samovar. Mike and I love this place and used to make it to the city once a month just to go there (back when they still had more locations throughout the city). Our good friend Merriem met us and we caught up over chai tea and noshes. So good to see old friends!

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What else but #avotoast

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After brunch we walked to All Birds, a shoe shop that sells slip-ons and lace-ups made of wool. I know it is the holiday season but I was shocked to find a line outside the store. We waited for about 15 minutes before getting to go inside and try on shoes. They are so comfy, we both walked out with a pair and “joined the flock.” 😉

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Next we walked along the Embarcadero and enjoyed the nice weather. Then a quick trip to the Ferry Building for some browsing before getting ready for the holiday soiree.

My holiday party was at The Pearl in the Dogpatch. Holy glamorous! It was Speakeasy themed and the venue/decorations transported me. There was even a “secret” speakeasy you could only access with a pin and once you left, the pin was taken from you and your access revoked. Mike and I enjoyed the evening, drinking cocktails and mingling with everyone.

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On Sunday we took full advantage of late check out and slept in. I wished we capitalized on another day in the city (Saturday was so fun walking around and taking in SF!) but after a night of drinking and dancing, sleep was priority.

This week we’re finishing starting Christmas shopping and packing up to go to Toronto! Happy holidays!

Google highlights

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On cloud 9 at Google HQ

I started working at Google in April 2016 and – almost to the date – a year and a half later, moved to the next opportunity. My short time spent at the Googs was a fun journey and I wanted to document some highlights to look back on one day. Let’s begin!

1. The Nomz

As you might imagine, the free food at Google is a pretty sweet deal. Not only are there  fully stocked MKs (Micro Kitchens) with things carrots and hummus, hard boiled eggs, cheese, yogurts, popcorn, fruit, and nuts accessible all day; there are breakfast, lunch, and dinner options at multiple cafes around campus.

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I almost never had dinner there but was a regular for the breakfast and lunch scene. My all time favorite Google cafe was the vegan one called Slice.  The roasted kale and mac n’ “cheese” was so delicious, you didn’t feel like you were missing out on anything. Plus, a decadent array of dairy-free ice creams and popsicles for dessert. Omg.

Everyday had the potential to be a culinary adventure! (Except most days I ate at the same cafe that was near my building…)

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Breakfast outside at the Google SF office #avo
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A happy (vegetrainian) BBQ plate 🙂
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Taco Tuesday
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Cookies and rock n’ roll
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A mini pumpkin pie last November

2. The Coffee

Google’s coffee game is strong. My favorite coffee there came from a food truck that set up shop at various locations every morning; filling the air with sweet java scents. I loved starting my day with the site of that teal beast, waiting for me to line up and order some black magic (and, of course, avo toast).

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I was also lucky enough to work in the same building as The Coffee Lab, an entire cafe dedicated to – you guessed it – coffee. Most days I would start my morning here with a cold brew and a splash of Califia almond milk (the best!).

There were also the notably great summer months when Coffee Lab had nitro brew on tap. All about it. Every single afternoon. Sometimes twice.

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Velvety nitro brew

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3. The Talks

Talks at Google was one of my favorite things about working at Google. The first talk I went to was to listen to Conrad Anker last June. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to meet some other pretty cool people on my lunch breaks.

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Kathy Griffin!

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Jillian Michaels
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Roxane Gay (not looking particularly thrilled to take a picture with me… ek)
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Some of the cast from Luzia
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The cast of Hamilton

You can enjoy most Google Talks to by checking out their YouTube channel. Which I will be subscribing to so I can keep watching from afar.

4. The Sights (and things to do!)

I didn’t have a typical college experience where I moved away and lived on campus in dorms. I stayed at home to save money. In some ways, working at Google for a year and a half felt a little bit like living on campus. Or, at least being on one every day.

There are always events happening at Google HQ. Aside from the Talks, there were Fall festivals, Google’s 18th birthday celebration, happy hours, Pride festivities and more.

Like…

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Biking around campus
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Lunch break yoga
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Rock climbing
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Bowling
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Swimming
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Or, if you’re tired.. nap time, anyone?
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Legitimately was almost late to a meeting because of this ball pit

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Giant chairs everywhere!

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Android Love.

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5. The Views

Google’s main campus (where I spent most of my time) is gorgeous. It’s all tree-lined and flowers-in-bloom. There seems to be a surplus of butterflies in the area flying around. There are perfectly paved and painted walking and bike paths connecting the seemingly never ending rows of Google buildings. I would often just walk around in awe.

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A trail I used to walk before early morning meetings
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Views from a Google cafe at HQ

Although I spent most of my time in Mountain View, I made it to the SF office a few times and the views don’t disappoint there either!

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Nothing beats a good view, especially when you’re getting paid to see it!

6. The People

I think the hardest thing about leaving a job for another is leaving your friends. I was lucky to work with some really great people who I enjoyed spending time with and seeing on a daily basis. A month into my new job and I think I’m still suffering from a bit of separation anxiety…

At least we all have Facebook to stay in touch!

#jk love ya Google ❤

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Friday Favorites

It’s the Friday after Thanksgiving and I’ve managed to steal some time with a cup of coffee to document a few favorites lately. Read on 🙂

Yoga with friends

After every yoga class I’ve taken, I feel melty and delicious. I don’t think anyone regrets a hour or so on the mat. At least I never do! And what makes yoga even better? Doing it with a friend.

There’s a free yoga class on Sunday mornings near my house and a candlelit one I love to go to on Wednesdays. This past week I’ve had 2 different friends join me for each class and my practice was better. More fun. More love. More light.

Pair it with a cup of coffee before or a glass of wine after and you’ve got yourself the perfect friend date!

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New bedding

One of my favorites things about Mike is his concern for the environment. He hates throwing things away that will end up in landfill. Over the years he has made me a lot more aware of using every last ounce of things before we toss them. Finally, after almost 5 years, it was time to get a new bedspread. We upgraded ourselves to a duvet and sheets that feel like butter. Literally when we get in bed we I say “oooh, like buttah” every time.

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Califa almond milk

I’ll admit I am an almond milk snob. In my opinion, Almond Breeze is way too runny. I think Starbucks uses there own almond milk and I don’t trust it. Peet’s uses Pacific almond milk and it’s good; better that Almond Breeze everyday of the week. BUT it’s simply not Califa. Califa is my jam. Like, they should pay me with how much I promote the weirdly shaped bottled almond milk. It’s so legit. Creamy and flavorful. Carrageenan free. 0g of sugar.

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BOLD, UNSWEETENED, authentic, FEARLESS, delicious. (< okay, they shouldn’t pay me for that one because I took it from the back of their bottle;)

My fiancé! 

Some people say getting engaged feels the same as being BF/GF but I’m here to tell you it’s totally different. It’s 100% better! The moment that pretty little ring slid on my finger, something shifted. It could just be engagement bliss but I think it’s deeper than that. My mind is like, this is my man! For life. I’m not naive enough to think we won’t ever argue again but somehow the little things that used to cause a few rifts don’t matter anymore. It feels like all we want to do is soak each other in.

I look at Mike and think he’s magic.

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And he’s mine!