Romantic getaway [Squaw Valley]

Squaw Valley is mine and Mike’s “spot.” It’s about a 4.5 hour drive from our house and the perfect getaway. We used to make it up there multiple times a year but now it seems we only get up there once. I’m not complaining though! Even one weekend a year to disconnect from the outside world and reconnect as a couple is great; especially in magical Squaw Valley.

We’ve been going up there for so long, we have our own little traditions in place. This past trip incorporated our favorite things to do (of course) but we also explored a lot of new things too. We even got extra fancy this time and took a day off from work to enjoy a nice, long 3 day weekend together.

We arrived late on Thursday night and basically unpacked and went straight to sleep. On Friday we woke up early for our first activity of the weekend; hiking! Side story: we got permits to hike Half Dome this August so we’re trying to do a lot more hiking in the next few months to prepare. With this in mind, I picked the hardest hike Squaw has, Shirley Cannon Trail. As a bonus, we were able to get some altitude training while up there, which isn’t a possibility at home.

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Those Bombas socks were key on the trail

The weather predicted rain and thunder storms around 12pm so, after a quick bowl of oatmeal in our room, we started out on the trail at 8:15am. The original plan was to hike up and take the gondola down* but things didn’t work out that way (#foreshadowing). On past Squaw trips, we’ve taken the gondola to the top and spent the day hot tubbing, eating, and drinking champagne. What a different plan it was this time!

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The Shirley Cannon Trail hike is no joke. It’s gorgeous but strenuous. You cross multiple streams, see a few waterfalls, and have to actually boulder quite a bit. No lies, the altitude started to get to me once or twice and I had to stop to rest. But overall I was impressed with my fitness and feel less anxious about Half Dome.

Unfortunately there was still a lot of snow at the top of the trail and, given it looked like it was going to rain and we were on slabs of granite, we turned around before making it to the top. WHICH MEANS we had to hike down too. Not the original plan. Plus, to top things off, one of my contacts fell out about halfway down. Not ideal. Nonetheless, we made it back down just after 12pm and promptly treated ourselves to a brewski and lunch.

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So high up

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We intended to take a quick 40 minute catnap when we got back to the hotel but slept for a hour and 20 minutes instead. I wasn’t mad about it though… I think our bodies needed the rest.

After snoozing, we hit up the hot tub and got caught in a little rain storm. But who cares when you’re already wet? Squaw has the best hot tub scene, with 3 different Jacuzzis and a giant pool. All that and a gorgeous view of the mountains. It’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon…

Before our dinner reservations, we had time for a glass of wine and a little Royal wedding watching. Correction: I watched updates on the wedding. Mike could not care less. Who else is obsessed with MM like I am though? 🙋 She’s so gorgeous and an American/California. I had to support. 😉

After my pop culture history-in-the-making fix, Mike treated me to a cozy dinner at Six Peaks. We spilt a bottle of red, an order of lobster mac n’ cheese, and indulged in fillets. It was such a nice night. There is just something about splitting a bottle of wine that is so romantic to me. AND we got to toast the official less-than-a-year countdown to our wedding! 

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On Saturday we had a big adventure planned. But first, COFFEE (and tea and breakfast sammies). Wild Cherries in Truckee and is my favorite local coffee spot. I am a picky coffee drinker and have never been disappointed with their java. They also have made-to-order sandwiches that are hot and fresh every time. I may need to start a campaign for them to open a location in the Bay Area…

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AND THEN it was adventure time. We drove to Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park in Tahoe Vista for 2.5 hours of zip-lining and swinging around in the trees.

The
most
fun.

For $60 you get to explore 9 different obstacle courses up in the treetops. You are harnessed in while you try things like walking across rolling logs or rock climbing on a suspended wall. There are also zip lines sprinkled throughout each course. I was a little nervous at first because you have to jump off to start zip lining and don’t have anything to grab onto but your harness. After a few tries though, you don’t even think about it.

Mike and I completed all 9 courses (and one twice, by accident) so we were pretty proud of ourselves. I highly recommend trying this if you’re in the Tahoe location. The same company has 2 other parks and I’m sure we’ll be back for more.

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After our treetop adventure we scarfed down quinoa (for me) and orzo (for Mike) vegetable salads that we had bought at New Moon, a health food store next to Wild Cherries. Then it was a quick drive back to Squaw for some relaxation in the form of a couples massage.

Now that we are engaged, on vacations like this, I think about how in few years we might have a little babe with us; and vacations will likely look a lot different! hah 🙂 But for now, it’s still just me and Mike and we can indulge in things like bottles of wine, hour long adventures, and massages.

We hit up Sandy’s Pub in the resort after for beers and sweet potato fries. I have good memories of Sandy’s including basically sneaking in a bottle of wine to drink with my future mother-in-law a few years ago; to actually sneaking into the hot tub outside the restaurant another time with my friend Sandra and eating at Sandy’s after. Not to mention all of the times Mike and I have been there. ❤

We spilt a pizza and a salad after and then, perhaps proving that we are ready for parenthood, went back to the hotel to chill for the rest of the night. Oddly enough we found an interesting documentary on the Weather Channel (of all channels) and proceeded to learn all about the Donner Party. Not a super romantic topic…  ek 😐

On our final morning in Squaw, we continued a tradition we have that involves a mountain view, tea, and hot tubbing. Who doesn’t love hot tubbing right in the morning when their the skinniest they’ll be all day?! Jk.

Then we spilt a chocolate croissant (hot tub before you eat, I’m telling ya;), packed up, and said ✌️ to Squaw; our favorite home away from home.

A sweet life it is.

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*Mike was actually going to PROPOSE last year when we had the same plan but we didn’t end up hiking that trip. Instead he proposed a few months later in the sweetest, most perfect way. Spoiler: the day included hot tubbing, apple picking, wine tasting, and of course, a very special question. 🙂

Filoli Gardens [+ iced London fog recipe]

For Mother’s Day this year, I took my mom and grandma to Filoli Gardens. Despite growing up in the Bay Area, I’d never been to Filoli. At $22/person, I thought it was a decent price for an afternoon spent wondering around beautiful flowers and greenery.

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My favorite flower; California poppies!

Filoli was built between 1915 and 1917 by the wealthy William Bourn. The name of the estate are the first 2 letters of Bourn’s credo.


FIght for a just cause;
LOve your fellow man;
LIve a good life.


In 1936, Filoli was sold to the Roth family, where they lived until 1975 when Mrs. Roth donated the estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. There are 16 acres of gardens to wonder through; plus the house that both families lived in when they resided in Filoli. You can pay an additional $5 for a garden tour and $5 for a house tour but we decided to go self-guided.

We explored the garden first. There are different sections of the garden and they are all gorgeous. When you first enter, you see a little pond area; which, let’s be real, is impressive enough on it’s own (I would be happy with just that tiny section as my entire garden). Then you wonder through some hedges to the pool.

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The pool was put in by the Roth family after Mr. Roth had a stroke. He would go into the pool for exercise to help with recovery. But it was also a favorite hangout for the family during the summers.

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The Woodland gardens were next. A shady area with twisty curvy trees. The tennis courts were located up some stairs there, where we sat for a bit to enjoy some afternoon desserts.

We strolled through the rose gardens and fruit trees after. How nice must have it been to live on that property? I would love to just stay there for the weekend and enjoy a morning cup of coffee (and an evening glass of wine) walking around the garden.

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After seeing all of the garden, we wondered into the house. When we first entered, there were A TON of people crowding the door but as we weaved through the rooms, the crowd dispersed. I wish I read more of the plaques with information about the house and history but there was so much to see, I didn’t get to everything!

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A fireplace we could have fit inside
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A hidden little bar

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My favorite part of the house was the kitchen! I find most old house tours never show you the kitchen and that’s what I’m always the most interested in.

Filoli had 2 fully stocked kitchens (as you do), plus a pastry room (that is legit the size of my actual one kitchen).

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The pastry room!
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Honey, I’m home! I loved the teal cabinets (and the handsome guy looking out the window;)
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The 2nd kitchen
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But first… coffee

Or tea! As a little added something in this post, I wanted to share an iced London fog recipe I’m obsessed with. My inspo for this came from Pick Up Limes but I made my beverage iced instead. It’s the perfect afternoon pick me up for a spring afternoon (if you’re lucky, you can sip it strolling through a garden).

I used almond milk instead of regular milk because I simply prefer it but feel free to sub any milk of your choice. You can also add a few drops of vanilla or a splash of agave syrup. Get crazy!

  • All you need to do is bring a cup of milk to a boil and add your earl gray teabag (I actually ended up adding another teabag since I was making mine iced).

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  • Sprinkle in some cinnamon and stir.

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  • Pour over a tall glass of ice and enjoy!

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Friday Favorites – April | picture edition 📷

Who else regularly scrolls through their insta feed to see the pix they’ve posted? 🙋

Just me? Okay. Moving on.

Even if you aren’t lurking your own social media, everyone has their favorite pictures. The ones that capture the perfect moment in time and flood you with memories. I love looking through pictures. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scooped up my baby albums at my grandma’s house, absorbing the pictures of my childhood.

Old vacation pictures are another favorite (and part of the reason I love maintaining this blog so I can look back at all of the places I’ve been). And then there are just the random pictures from any old day that capture the moments between big life happenings.

For Friday Favorites this month, I’ve created a combination of some of my favorite pictures below and a few captions to explain why.

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^ First up? Bali. This picture is blurry but I love it. It was taken at the end of a fun day at Potato Head Beach Club. I think we both look so happy, content, & in LOVE in this picture, which is why I like it so much. Plus, it brings back memories of lounging by the pool and drinking fresh watermelon water all day with Mike. Bliss.

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^ I also love this picture I snapped on one of our morning walks in Bali. (I can almost feel the humidity just looking at it… ha.) We walked the path from our villa to down town multiple times a day – stopping at Taco Casa (seen in the pic above) a few times for nachos and sangria – so this picture brings back good memories of our time spent there. I also like the local on his bike in flip flops with a grocery bag of water and snacks; the greenery; and the spray painted fence in the background.

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^ My last Bali picture is this one of Mike and his niece. (Her shoulder blade doesn’t look like that IRL; just a weird angle…) Mike’s sister lives in Australia so we don’t see them too often but look how happy Ella looks with uncle Mike! Just smooshing his face and living her best life in Bali with the fam.

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^ Remember when taking a million pictures on Apple’s Photo Booth was the thing to do? This snapshot was taken in a mini photo sesh with two of my closet friends in college. (Let’s take a sec to acknowledge how dark my hair was……..)

Full disclosure: Before this picture was taken, I had just tried my fake ID for the first time at TGIF Friday’s happy hour (and it worked!) so we were a little tipsy. I remember it was a rainy Friday and we were like, let’s party! But… all of our friends were busy so it was just the 3 of us. Despite that sounding lame, it was such a fun night. This picture just reminds me of that time in life; where my friends were the center of my world and one of my biggest concerns was if my fake ID was going to work.

Present day, we have to schedule a hour coffee date 2 months in advance (and there is a 50% chance even that won’t work out) because … #adulting.

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^ This is the picture that made me think about some of my other favorite pictures. Earlier this month, Mike and I attending one of my oldest and dearest friends weddings. She was a gorgeous bride in the perfect dress and as she was walking up the aisle – having just gotten married – I snapped this picture of her. It was such a special moment for a few reasons. 1. Look how happy she looks! The picture captures the pure excitement of the newlyweds. 2. Selfishly, I love that she is glancing right at me. I remember locking eyes with her as I was taking the picture and, just like in high school, knowing exactly what was on her mind. I feel like she knew my excitement and love for her in that moment too.

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^ This was taken the day before thanksgiving a few years ago when a whole bunch of our friends went out to celebrate Friendsgiving. (Side note: my glasses are totally fake in this picture and I just wore them as a joke… little did I know I would be wearing real eyewear a few years later.) It was one of those perfect nights when everyone made it out. We did sake bombs, had margaritas, went dancing!

This night is extra special in my memory because it was before 3 of my closet friends (2 photographed above – April, where you at?) moved away 😦

Maybe we’ll get lucky one year and have a sequel.

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^If you look in the right corner you’ll spot my mom (with the camera) and me and my grandma laughing hysterically. For context, this picture was taken on a girls’ trip to New York City we took a few years ago (read about it here). We had just – or were about to (can’t remember the exact timeline) – demolish a margarita pizza in Time Square before going to the Broadway show we had tickets for. My mom spotted a crowd of people and a camera that was projecting them onto a big screen in the middle of Time Square. Immediately I thought; no, while my mom was like; let’s go!Obviously she won. 😉 At first glance, this isn’t the best picture. There are a ton of other people in it with us, it’s blurry, you can’t even see the whole screen… but I love it. I distinctly remember my mom being so pumped to be on that big screen. She had a huge smile and was bobbing up and down saying “oh yeah, oh yeah.” <– which is why my grandma and I were laughing so hard.

This picture and memory encapsulates my mom; spur of the moment, life of the party, happy. 🙂

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^ Ok I might be on a mama llama/NYC love spree right now but this is another one of my favorites. It was on another trip to New York a few years before when we went with my grandma. We were visiting the Empire State building with a friend of mine who had recently moved from the Bay Area to New York. She snapped this picture of us and I love all of mine and my mom’s similarities in it; our hair color, both of us are wearing hair clips and have sunglasses on our head. PLUS, look at that view of the city. ❤ love.

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^ I love this picture of one of my best friends, Leslie. I think it’s just the cutest. She looks so happy. (I took this picture while riding a bike behind her, a mere weeks before I had to get stitches from a biking accident — now I never ride without 2 hands on the handlebars AT ALL TIMES ha.) I remember this day was gorgeous. She met me for lunch at Google and after we met a whole bunch of girlfriends at a local beer garden.

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^ This picture was from 4th of July last year. I can’t say it is my favorite picture of myself 🙈 but I love Mike and our friend April in the background. These two are v similar and I bet they were cracking some joke as I was taking this. I remember this day also being gorgeous. Plus, we were playing impostures and living like the rich & famous in Kardashian Land Calabasas that weekend. Private pool and hot tub all to ourselves on a holiday weekend? Check.

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^ I love this picture of Mike in our apartment. We were just chatting, sharing a nightcap when I snapped it. Something about how mundane it is makes me like it.

Whiskey. Water. Sweats.

Also, this is probably weird but I like looking in the background of pictures and seeing what people’s houses are like. Are they messy? Are they clean? What nicknacks do they have? So, if anyone else shares this quirk, here’s a good glance of my living room…!

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^ I think it’s rare that we admit to liking a photo of ourselves. All too often, we’re quick to call out bad pix and silently compliment the good ones. (Or is this just me!?) WELL I want to work on that habit & start lovin’ myself more; which is why I picked this #selfie as a favorite.

Mike and I were on our way to Yosemite when I snapped this in the front seat. You can see our bikes in the backseat, my teal straw from an iced coffee…

Blonde locks, black tee, and probably black leggings; getting ready for a weekend of drinking wine, hiking, and sleeping under the stars. Love it all.

Other Friday Faves:
January
February
March

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

Coconut lentil soup

I have a feeling it won’t be cozy soup weather much longer in California. With this in mind, I took full advantage of some canned food I had in my cabinet and made a coconut lentil soup recently while my grandma, mom, and little brother were at my house. I love having family over and cooking for them!

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The lineup

This soup actually turned out better than I thought it would! The coconut milk made it creamy dreamy but, with the added (homemade) veggie broth, it wasn’t too heavy. I ended up using 2 cans of lentils for more volume and less liquid, which worked perfectly.

As always, my inspo for this came from Oh She Glows.

Note: I omitted onions because my grandma’s not a fan. If you’re in the mood, I suggest adding them. Although, since I also used jarred garlic, I have to say it was pretty sweet not having to chop anything for this recipe.

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Still sweater weather here!
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Love those greens

Coconut lentil soup

Prep time: 10 minutes – Cook time: 25 – 30 minutes – Servings: 6 – 8 *freezes well*

Ingredients:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bag spinach
  • 2 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tbs tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

  • Add garlic into a pot and heat up for 1 minute (I didn’t put any extra oil in so this step was fast; plus I was using jarred garlic — if you use fresh, wait until the garlic turns translucent in some OO)
  • Add canned tomatoes, lentils, and coconut milk + veg broth
  • Stir in spices
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 25 minutes, uncovered
  • Take off heat and add spinach, stirring until wilted
  • Serve and enjoy (this would probably also be delicious over a scoop of brown rice)

 

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My attempt at staging my soup… ha.

Friday Favorites – March

LOVE GOODLY box

March was a month of subscription boxes for me. I’ve wanted to start using cleaner cosmetics and products for years now but haven’t gotten around to researching better things to use. Plus, it’s pricey to experiment with natural products…

Happy for me when Mike found the Love Goodly box; a bi-monthly subscription that includes all natural and vegan beauty products. What a great way to sample new things at an affordable price! ($29.95/month)

I got my first box this month and it included an eye cream, sunscreen, a face mask, lash serum, and chapstick. So far the Lash Love is my favorite (I use it for my lashes and brows) with the eye cream coming in a close second. I’ve also tried the chapstick and the sunscreen (SPF 17 – how random) and both are great products too. Although, I don’t find myself reaching for either of them everyday. I’ve yet to try to the face mask but stay tuned.

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Box of Style

I also subscribed to Rachel Zoe’s Box of Style. I found it featured on the Skimm when they were offering 25% off your first box and thought, why not? After all, the spring box was a tribute to California. 😉

This box included sunglasses, a necklace, a headband that can also be used as a belt or choker, a duster (really why I ordered the box!), a toner, and another chapstick. I’ve basically only used the necklace but have a trip to San Diego this summer and plan to get some good use of the sunglasses while there.

It was exciting getting the box but, without the discount, I wasn’t willing to spend $100 4x a year on it. Partially because I looked up past boxes and, while everything is always cute, I noticed there were a lot of repeat items; mainly sunglasses and jewelry. …For a girl who wears prescription glasses and basically only my engagement ring + my tergaus loop in my ear, it doesn’t make sense for me to have a surplus of either.

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Long weekends away

Mike and I took a day off and flew down to LA for St. Patricks Day weekend. One of our closet couple friends moved down there a few years ago and we both miss them so much. It’s always good to see them. It feels like no time has passed when we get together. (Read about our trip to Mexico with them in 2016.)

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It was uncharacteristically rainy in Southern California but we entertained ourselves just fine. Our weekend adventures included going to see Black Panther (so good); eating tacos at a hole in the wall spot (my favorite); successfully completing an escape room together (great bonding); and staying cozy inside with a traditional Irish dinner, Gusiness, and hours of pictionary.

Berries and seeds

I’ve been on a berry kick this month; routinely stocking up on raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries for the week and then mixing them all together to enjoy every morning.

I’ve also been loving hemp hearts and pumpkin seeds. I keep little jars of them at work, along with oatmeal, to add to my berries in the morning for a healthy, filling breakfast. (If I’m not too hungry – which is often the case in the mornings – I’ll sub a banana for the oatmeal but keep a sprinkle of hemp hearts for healthy fats and omegas.)

Homemade iced tea

We’re flirting with summer in California and I think I’m falling in love. I can’t wait for days on days of warm weather, sunshine, flip flops, and sunscreen (who else loves the smell of sunscreen?!).

Also synonymous with summer, iced tea. Something I’ve been making plenty of lately. I like to make peppermint or a decaf blackberry one so I can have it after dinner, before bed.

We also recently got this pitcher from Amazon and I love it / feel fancy using it. 💁

Other Friday Faves:
January
February

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

Lemon tahini over lentils

What is vegan, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, added sugar free, and wheat free?

A California dinner party.

…get it? because Californias are such hippies?!

Ok, not the best joke but this dinner is. The best.

And yes, it’s vegan; nut, soy, dairy, sugar, and wheat free.

More importantly, it’s delicious.

Also important: it’s easy.

Most importance: Mike loves it. (Which makes me want to make it every week which means he might get tired of it soon…)

I hope you give this dinner a try soon! You won’t regret it. I’ve mentioned it’s delicious and easy but it’s also SUPER FILLING which is a real selling point for me. The lentils keep ya full (13g plant based protein per 1/4 cup ehyoo) but the tahini and lemon dressing make it feel like you’re indulging. Feel free to add any green veggie you have on hand; or serve the lentils and tahini on top of a giant salad for a summer night twist.

Tip: I’ve recently started soaking my lentils before cooking them (to get more protein and other added benefits!) because of this article.

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Soaking lentils

Lemon tahini over lentils

Prep time: 10 minutes – Cook time: 25 – 30 minutes – Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup soaked green lentils
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • juice of 1 small lemon

Directions:

  • Cook lentils in 2 cups of water until soft, about 25 – 30 minutes
  • Strain lentils and put aside
  • Mix in lemon juice with tahini until combined
  • Incorporate with lentils
  • Serve with something green on the side
  • Bon appétit

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I add the lemon and tahini straight to the lentils to be sure they are all coated but alternatively you can drizzle it on top of them once plated

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[Review] Float Station

For Christmas Mike got me a gift card for a “float” at Float Station. Have you heard of this before? Floating is basically immersing yourself in a sensory deprivation tank for one hour. You can’t see or hear; taste, smell, or feel. You “don’t feel” because you’re floating in the water with a ton of episome salt in it. It’s like going to the Dead Sea without the flight.

I first heard of sensory depravation tanks my senior year in high school and was like, lol no. Our teacher told us we would get extra credit if we went in one and wrote a paper after. At the time, even if the idea of being alone with my thoughts in a dark tomb (how I pictured it) wasn’t off-putting enough, the price tag was.

Flash forward ~10 years and I have the chance to have my senses deprived; for free. (Well, kind of.. Christmas presents when you’re engaged are sort of like buying yourself a gift. What’s his is mine and vice versa.) Anyway, I finally got around to doing my float this week.

Apparently one float is equal to 4 hours of sleep or a vacation. Say what!? That alone is reason to do it. Although… I didn’t find that to be true 😉 but I was told you have to float more than once to reap the benefits. (Fact or scam? Who knows)

The Float Station in Campbell is really nice; with clean white walls, relaxing music, low lighting, and modern, minimal furniture. It felt more trendy than spa, which made me feel like I was in The Fifth Element. As expected, the ladies who checked us in were bubbly and all-knowing (that might sound snide but it’s not; they put me at ease because, truth be told, I was a little nervous before).

We were taken to our respective rooms and given a brief tutorial on floating. Basically, shower before you get in (but don’t use the conditioner because of the oils – conditioning is for after your float); put earplugs in before you get in the pod; the music will turn off after 10 minutes and back on again when you have 10 minutes left (this point ended up making me anxious while floating, but more on that later); move around and stretch when you first get in and then try to stay still for the rest of your float (already knew that wasn’t going to happen); and, most importantly, relax; let your mind be still (idk how that feels, btw).

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The floating pod (and what looks like a toilet seat but it actually a ring for your head to rest on)

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Ok, so let’s cut to the chase. My float lasted about 40 minutes. I was moving around like a mermaid in there, and my mind was not still for a single moment. I’ll admit it was cool to be weightless and floating. The pod isn’t claustrophobic, which I was nervous about. It’s actually pretty nice in there… But, in my opinion, an hour is a long time to stay in. Plus, with my earplugs in, I couldn’t tell if the music was back on again or not. I was getting all anxious that my cue to wrap up my float was on and I’d miss it. I ended up getting out early mostly because I didn’t know if the music was on or not; that and I scratched my nose which got salt water on my lips. Game over.

It’s all toasty and body-temperature warm in the pod, so getting out was a little chilly. I immediately tiptoed to my phone and discovered I still had another 20 minutes left. Oh, well… time for a long shower, I thought, with conditioner.

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You’re able to turn off the blue light once in there

Overall, floating was an experience but I’m not sure I’d pay to do it again. Unless, the float was shorter (and 1/2 the price)… then? Holler.