Melissa comes to town!

I have a serious case of the Monday Blues today because our weekend was so fun with some of my favorite company.

We kicked things off on Thursday when Melissa, a good friend of ours from Toronto, flew in to visit. Mike and I headed up to San Francisco after work to meet her at the hotel we were staying at. We got a room for 2 nights at Hotel Whitcomb on Market street (more on that disaster later…), which was a short walk from Hayes Valley.

Hayes Valley is a super cute area in SF with a lot of unique stores and delicious looking restaurants. We went straight to Little Gem where they focus on fresh and seasonal ingredients. It’s an open space that still manages to feel cozy with candles, succulents, and dim lighting.

IMG_20170824_195813

IMG_20170824_200620

We started with glasses of wine, sparkling, and beer plus an order of their hummus with NON bread. I could’ve just ate this all night. It was so good. For my main though, I ordered the Hen of the Woods Mushrooms on Beans & Rice bowl (talk about a wordy title!) with the mushrooms on the side (because I am picky about my mushrooms – it’s a texture thing). The rice and beans were good but filing. I ended up only eating about half and taking the rest to-go.

After dinner we walked back to our hotel, which looked a horror/ghost movie was filmed in. We spilt a bottle of wine, caught up, listened to music, and went to bed… blissfully unaware of what else was lurking in the room with us.

IMG_20170824_212913
Creepiest hotel ever!

On Friday morning I walked to the work, opting to work in from the SF office that day. I wouldn’t want to live in the city but it was a nice change of pace to be there for a few days. There’s an energy you can’t deny in San Francisco.

IMG_20170825_113307
The view from Google SF office (not complaining!)

While eating breakfast I got a call from Mike and I thought, weird, he almost never calls me. Maybe he just wants to make sure I made it to the office alright?

I answered the phone and he told me the disgusting news that him and Melissa had found a bedbug in our hotel room. I immediately felt itchy. Melissa had woken up with bites (not fun!) and was suspect of bedbugs. Luckily, they found a live one to show to the hotel staff. It was gross but without the little crawler as proof, we probably wouldn’t have gotten a refund.

Melissa and Mike had to spend the next few hours checking us into a new hotel (the Hyatt!) and being sure Hotel Whitcomb refunded our money, cleaned our clothes, luggage, etc. Total bummer for the start of a vacation (!) but they eventually got out and enjoyed the city. I requested pictures of their adventures and got these ones of the Painted Ladies and the Full House house.

image
The Painted Ladies
image (1)
Full House house

image (2)

After work I walked to the Hyatt to meet them at our new hotel. Man, I love the Hyatt. It was unfortunate that we had to deal with bedbugs but the sliver lining was staying in the Hyatt. It’s such a luxurious hotel.

Melissa has been out to California to visit us 3 times and each trip we get a bottle of champs to drink in Union Square. Keeping up with tradition, we walked to Union Square for some bubbles next. Kicking off Friday right!

IMG_20170825_183021
Champs!

IMG_20170825_185608

Dinner was next at Jasper’s Corner Tap and Kitchen. We ordered drinks and the Oh Canada! poutine (fitting), pomegranate organic chicken breast with kale and quinoa, and the mac n’ cheese. The drinks were strong and the food was drool-worthy! We even ordered a second mac n ‘ cheese for dessert. 😉

On Saturday we trekked across the Bay to Berkeley. We went to Marker’s Common for lunch (more mac n’ cheese and avo toast) and popped into a few stores in downtown. It was really hot and I just wasn’t all too impressed with downtown Berkeley so we didn’t spend too much time there. Next time I’ll have to do more research on local spots before.

IMG_20170826_133645

The heat was worse in the south bay but we popped into Whole Foods for adult essentials: crackers, cheese, berries, and wine before going back to our house. We promptly threw our clothes in the washer – despite the hotel cleaning them – to double protect against the Whitcomb bedbugs. Then we chilled out for a few hours before a BBQ at our house.

Because of the fight on Saturday, dinner reservations for our friend Shelby’s birthday were impossible. Instead we offered to host a BBQ at our house because we have a big outdoor space. We host Canadian Thanksgiving here every year (read about 2015 and 2016) and it’s the perfect spot with multiple BBQs, picnic tables, shade, and outlets to play music.

IMG_20170826_200302
❤ ❤ ❤

Everyone left after 10pm and Mike, Melissa, and I went back to our house where Melissa and I stayed up until 5am. The last time I pulled an all nighter was in high school! I’m usually a stickler for getting good sleep every night but was happy to make an exception.

On Sunday we woke up at 11am, showered and went to Los Gatos for coffee and lunch. It was another hot day and we were running on little sleep so things were slow moving. Around 4pm we dropped Melissa off at the airport and I had to fight back tears. It was so good to have her in town for the weekend. We’re already texting each other talking about separation anxiety… 

The countdown is on for when we’ll see her again in December when we go to Toronto for Christmas.

Yosemite 2017

There’s still dirt under my fingernails as I type this and I don’t care in the slightest. For the second year in a row, Mike and I joined in on an annual Yosemite trip our friend Ben puts together. (You can read about last year here.) We arrived in the early evening on Friday, greeted with beers from Ben. The great thing about Ben is he always has a beer specifically for you; an IPA for me, a wheat beer for Mike, etc.

After meeting a few new faces, we toured the grounds with our friends Lauren and Ian as it was their first time in Yosemite. It’s safe to say, Lauren and I talked about how freakin’ gorgeous the park is at least once a hour for the rest of the weekend.

IMG_20170811_165533
Driving into the park!
IMG_20170811_170524

Lauren, Ian, Mike and were I sharing a canvas tent cabin so we headed over to check in and drop off our stuff before dinner. Last year, Mike and I stayed in the Housekeeping camp with everyone but, this year, there were more people on the trip so we stayed about a mile away in Half Dome Village. The room was tiny (as to be expected) with 2 twin beds on one side (facing head to toe) and a double bed on the other. There was a shelf and some hooks but besides that, it was sparse.

It was a fine place to sleep in but campfires or cooking aren’t allowed there (what?) so really only suitable if you’re hiking all day and just need a place to sleep. Nonetheless, it worked out for us because we spent all of our time in Housekeeping with everyone else (where fires and cooking are allowed).

IMG_20170812_002430
Our cozy bed in Half Dome Village

Same as last year, each couple is tasked with making one meal during the trip for everyone camping. On Friday night the menu included chicken sausage with a nom orzo, cucumber, and feta salad. The orzo salad alone would make a great, simple weekday dinner. Maybe I will recreate it soon… stay tuned.

After dinner we sang songs around the fire; Miley Cyrus, Journey, and Whitney were all included on the playlist. At 10pm we had to move the party over to the amphitheater, where we didn’t have to worry about being loud.

Then, after a few ghost stories, it was a short walk to where we were staying for a restful night of deep sleep. (I think everyone sleeps better out in nature.)

We were back at Housekeeping early on Saturday in time for a chia pudding breakfast bar. I ate a lot of chia pudding when we visited Australia a few years ago and forgot how much I like it! Paired with fruit, nuts, and coconut shavings, we had a great vegan breakfast that kept me full for hours.

IMG_20170812_093312.jpg
Chia bar!

Next up was a hike to Lower Yosemite Falls, although I didn’t make it into the water. The waterfall was much more active this year and the midst was doing a fine job at keeping me cool. Unlike last year, when it was scorching hot up there – with a barely there waterfall flowing – and getting in to swim was a lot easier.

20767754_10105314989974290_7096612936679170842_n
Hiking boulders
IMG_20170812_124640
Lower Yosemite Falls up close and personal 🙂

We enjoyed a spread of sammies after our hike and then walked straight to the river for an afternoon of drinking, playing games, and floating. It was nice not being on a schedule or worrying about what time it is. For a type A+ person like myself, disconnecting from the grind of planning is a nice change of pace every now and then.

20770245_10154606946060957_4623203846508337575_n
heyooo

Saturday night was spent making dinner, drinking wine, and playing more games. It was our turn to cook for everyone. We stayed simple with a salad, pasta, and breadsticks.

Nature, friends, vino, and carbohydrates is a good combination, if you ask me.

We ended the weekend at brunch at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. Call me a food snob but a traditional breakfast doesn’t do it for me anymore! Where’s the avo toast or poached eggs on bruschetta?! ..Not at the Majestic. I ordered scrambled eggs with hash browns and ham and it was meh.

20729315_10154606945250957_1276397737213284979_n
Brunchin’
Lucky for me, before brunch, Lauren ordered me an iced almond milk latte so, at least I had some millennial, boujee-ness going for me. 😉  Nothing says friendship like knowing someone’s coffee order!

IMG_20170813_100540
Stunner ❤
Everyone packed up and left after brunch but Mike and I stayed to bike around through the park. First we rode up to Mirror Lake. This place was gorgeous, although the sand rocky and the water freezing. Then we headed to the Swinging Bridge for great views and the start of a bucket list next year:

  1. Jump off Swinging Bridge
  2. Rent a raft to float down the river (we saw a lot of people doing this on our ride)
  3. Claim a spot at Mirror Lake; bring wine + friends; have a picnic

IMG_20170813_131725
Mirror Lake

IMG_20170813_130808
Toes in water

IMG_20170813_141143
The Swinging Bridge and a view of Lower Yosemite Falls
It was getting later and hotter in the afternoon so we left shortly after checking out the bridge. On the way home we stopped for Mexican, about a hour outside of the park. It was a hole in the wall place that we ate at a few years ago with my family after horseback riding in Yosemite. Good patio? Great food? Check and check. I think we’ll be making it a tradition to eat here every year.

We also stopped at an off the road fruit stand closer to home and I got 2 organic zucchini and 2 huge nectarines for $3. Such a good deal. And, by the way, if you haven’t sliced and froze nectarines to eat as a summer snack or dessert, you’re missing out!

IMG_20170813_192631

Until next time… ✌️

[HACK] basically no oil roasted veggies

I try to incorporate veg into every meal and while it doesn’t always happen for breakfast, or sometimes lunch, you can bet there are making an appearance for dinner. Every night. Without fail, we have something green to eat (or red or purple or orange, you get it).

I’ve found buying organic frozen vegetables is a very sustainable way to do this. I alternate between broccoli, green beans, asparagus, peas (my favorite!), and sometimes corn.

I also love roasted veggies but don’t love all of the oil needed to get them nice and crispy. Happily, I’ve found the ice/water from the frozen vegetable can drastically reduce the amount of oil you need to roast them.

Another reason to stock up and love on frozen vegetables!

All I do is spray my cooking sheet with an organic Spanish olive oil, pour the veggies on, and roast at 400 degrees for about 20 – 30 minutes, depending on how toasty you like them! (I like mine extra charred so they’re in there for a while.)

Frosty frozen!

Sprinkle with some pink Himalayan sea salt and there you go; all of the nom, way less of the oil.

End note: Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against some good olive oil however, I typically have a generous amount of it at lunch on my salad so prefer to stay away from more at dinner.

Friday Favorites

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer Concealer

I bought this stuff a few months ago and can’t stop talking about it. The coverage is INSANE and you only need the tiniest amount (literally like a dab the size of a pencil eraser is more than enough). I’ve been mixing it with a little vitamin E oil for an extra dewey look. A favorite for sure!

IMG_20170803_224656

8fit (app)

I’ve posted about YouTube workout videos but this app is close to pulling rank on my favorite list. The workouts are short (a necessity for me but if you like them longer you can string 2 or 3 together). They are self-paced. The app tracks what you’ve done so far and lets you add notes at the end. Plus they have a music option with actual hits, not rando music that you’ve never heard before. Working out made fun, friends!

Screenshot_20170804-083056
Yes, the Friends building is my background (taken from my trip to New York)

Bebe Rexha

OMG I am obsessed with this girl. Bebe has an incredible voice and she writes her own songs and songs for other artists. Bad bitch, I’m telling you! I’ve been playing her music videos on loop. My favorite rn is Back To You with Louis Tomlinson.

I’ve also been loving Slow Hands for a while now so I might be the only person fully supportive of One Direction splitting up.

Side note: my friend Morgan and Bebe Rexha remind me of each other and I love it.

18443621_424207551271499_2009143305446621184_n
who dis? Bebe or MB?

Iced coffee! 

My friend Lydia says “Ashley likes her drinks cold without any sweet.” She gathered this intel from the many coffee runs we used to take when we worked together and I would often clarify “absolutely no sugar.”

I could drink my beloved iced coffee when it’s cold out but I just don’t. So the second the weather is warmer, I’m like gimme all of dat iced coffee.

I’m going to say fall is my favorite season (#basic) but summer is a close contender because, well, ICED CAFFEINE!

Summer dresses

Speaking of warmer weather… most days lately have been perfect weather to throw on a summer dress and call it a day. I love wearing dresses because all you have to worry about it what shoes to wear and you’re done. Plus, I snagged some really cute dresses in Bali that people have been complimenting. High impact, minimal effort. All about it.

The Skimm (still)

I finally got to Skimmbassador status aka got my Skimm tote and it’s actually my favorite bag. Almost too good to use (unless you’re having your friend take pictures of you at the local farmers market and you strategically stage it to be in the photos). #notsorry

19911614_654926985351_2054569033_o
that Skimm swag

If you haven’t signed up already to get theSkimm emailed to you daily, sign up with this link: http://www.theskimm.com/?r=1fc5ccbc