Where are my Big Little Lies fans at?!? Sadly I binged season 2 long ago but still felt a twinge of excitement spending this past weekend in the sleepy little beach town where it was filmed: Monterey, California. Meryl Streep walked those streets!
We arrived on Friday evening within minutes of our friends Jessica and Neil. Starving, we quickly said hello and made our way down the street to Goodie Grill, a funky retro spot with way better food than it’s name leads you to believe. The girls went for the “Man’s meatloaf” with mashed potatoes and veggies, while the boys ordered fish. We all splurged for decadent housemate desserts; the apple crumble with ice cream and berries being my favorite.
Jessica and I went to high school and college together so we have some late-night party stories under our belts, but this weekend was not about reliving the past. After dinner and some light channel surfing back at our Airbnb, we were in bed by 11pm.
I was excited to try Acme Coffee the next morning, just a few minutes drive from where we were staying. It didn’t disappoint but I was confused because there wasn’t any bread there. (For those who don’t know, Acme bread is a Bay Area favorite and so, so good.) I guess they are different companies?
Instead of bread, we opted for pastries and donuts so no real complaints there… (and still all of the carbs!)
We spent the rest of the day navigating cute shops, cafes, and eateries between the wharf and Cannery Row. We lucked out with beautiful weather and great views of the ocean.
Jessica and I did some yoga back at the Airbnb before dinner and, after 10,000+ steps it was much needed.
For dinner, we decided to take multiple people’s recommendations and try Monterey Fish House. Maybe it was just too hyped up – or maybe Goodie Grill is just the real deal hidden gem – but we were all underwhelmed with our meals and the restaurant in general. The place was cozy but a little too bustling for our taste. The food was good but didn’t leave a lasting impression. I would say it’s worth going once (if you go early and the wait isn’t hours long, which apparently happens!) but not a repeat place.
After it was game time! We broke out Sheriff of Nottingham, which is one of my all time favorite games, and had fun trying to smuggle contraband through the market (play the game and you’ll know!).
We went to sleep again at a reasonable time because 1. none of us are in college anymore and 2., Mike had a race the next morning that we were getting up early for.
Before the sun came out, we bundled up and trekked down to Lover’s Point (a filming location from BLL) where Mike was participating in an aqua-bike (just the swim and bike portion of a triathlon). It was cold, dark, and foggy. I typically go with Mike to his races and will hangout with him until the start and then go grab coffee somewhere are read a book. It was a luxury having Jessica and Neil there this time to go on a coffee run, while I waited with Mike on the beach. It’s amazing what a hot cup of coffee and a fresh blueberry muffin can do for you at 7am. 🙂
In the end the fog didn’t dissipate and the race coordinators canceled the swim portion. Bummer! Mike still did the bike part of the race while Jessica and Neil headed home. I found a sunny spot and read a book until Mike finished and then we were like BRUNCH! We found a local spot called Crema that was the perfect end to our beach get away.
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?”
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After dinner we had a nightcap in the hotel lobby while listening to some live music. Romantic!
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.
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.
We’re coming off of 2 weeks of family vacation and I wanted to document some highlights.
My grandparents celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary on Saturday, June 30th. Mike and I flew down to San Diego to meet them, my mom, little bro, and stepdad. San Diego was the first place my grandparents lived together as a married couple so it had sentimental value. Mike and I also celebrated our one year anniversary there years ago. I will say San Diego was more crowded than I remember.
This time around, we all stayed in the same Airbnb in downtown. Unfortunately the parking at our Airbnb was terrible. We had the 2 cars my family drove there in and risked a ticket every night by parking in the church lot next door. Our Airbnb was also very cozy for 6 people, plus a baby, but we managed.
After we settled in, we drove to Old Town. My grandma used to work at Wells Fargo so I planned a surprise tour of the Wells Fargo museum for her. Our guide was very informative and fun. After, we had lunch at Bora Bora. My mom and I spilt the cheese enchiladas and they didn’t disappoint!
That night, we went to dinner at Donovan’s Steak House to celebrate my grandparent’s milestone anniversary. Parking in downtown was a nightmare, as to be expected, but everything else was perfect. We basically all ordered steak and I didn’t hear a single complaint. The waitstaff was friendly and attentive, even holding Gio for a bit!
After dinner Mike and I went to the National Comedy Theater. We had been there years ago and knew we wanted to go back the second this trip was planned. It is the funniest improv show. Like, bent-over-belly-laughing funny.
When traveling, some of my favorite things to check out are local improv/comedy clubs, yoga studios, and walking tours. Which, speaking of… on Sunday we made a spur of the moment decision to do a walking tour of Coronado. Mike and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary on the island ~2 years ago and fell in love (you can read about our stay here and here). The walking tour was $20/each for 90 minutes. We saw a bunch of historical houses and ended at The Del. I thought it was well worth it for everything we learned. Plus, we were the only ones on the tour, which is always a nice surprise.
We had lunch after at Tavern. I’m surprised this place wasn’t more crowded because it was really good. It’s a big win when your entire group is happy with the menu and their food. The decor here was really cute too. And I’m a sucker for ambiance. My family was ready to head back after but Mike and I stayed to enjoy a drink on the patio together. Then we took the fairy back to San Diego, which I definitely recommend as it is pretty cheap and just fun.
That night my friend from high school came to visit because her son is a huge Andy Z (my stepdad) fan. It was so cute to see him starstruck by Andy. We all just chilled out with some wine and heavy apps. As with most family vacations, we turned in pretty early; tired from a full day of activity.
On Monday we went to the San Diego Zoo and I was like, #OutOfOffice y’all. What’s better than being on vacation on a Monday? I knew the SD zoo was huge so we had to get an early start. First up? Flamingos!
We had an okay lunch of hummus wraps and pasta salad that, surprisingly, didn’t break the bank. Food at any of these places (theme parks, zoos, etc.) is typically so unhealthy and expensive. I was glad our lunch was decently priced but I really should learn to pack a picnic instead.
The real highlight of the zoo was when Mike and I were strolling along and a zookeeper came out saying “please move to the left side of the walkway so we can walk our cheetah.”
Sure enough, seconds later, there is a cheetah walking a few feet from us (obviously on a leash). The trainer stopped at a bench right in front of us to feed the cheetah. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen and completely unplanned.
Sadly, we were all had to go home on Tuesday. Before heading to the airport, Mike and I went to a cute cafe we discovered, Lofty Coffee. Best house made chai lattes. I typically don’t order chai unless I know it isn’t made from a powder, so I was happy to see a solid option on the menu.
It is a quick flight home from San Diego. Being that we were on vacation, we headed straight to our pool. That night we went to our neighbors for apps, dinner, and gallons of wine. 😉 It was so nice to catch up over good food and a few drinks. Plus, the girls and I decided to start a book club. (tipsy Prime usage FTW) so we’ll be getting together again soon.
Mike’s parents arrived for a visit on Wednesday, 4th of July. For the past 4 years, we’ve spent the 4th with our friends Gary and April (in Calabasas last year and Mexico the year before!) so I was happy that they could make it too. We grilled chicken at our house for tacos and played a few games. It was a fun, low key 4th of July.
Having taken the week off, we decided to take Mike’s parents to the Barlow for an overnight stay Thursday to Friday. They’ve been to California a number of times and have done almost everything touristy in the area. This was a new adventure so it was extra fun. The Barlow is a sweet little area filled with organic food, wine, breweries, cafes, and our favorite distillery.
We started with a wine flight and cheese plate at MacPhail tasting lounge. It was nice to be outside enjoying the warm weather and catching up between pours. It is a particularly exciting time because we’re in the middle of wedding plan, which I always find fun to talk about.
Next we went over to Pax and spilt a bottle of wine, plus an order of warm olives. Again, such a nice time.
After we went to a brewery for burgers and a few rounds of games. Sadly, I lost both… Specifically Jenga, when I pulled the block that made the tower tumble. Boo!
We ended the night with a dip in the hot tub and a discussion of wedding songs. 🙂
Friday started with coffee at Taylor Lane, where they serve organic coffee and creamy almond milk. Win. We took Mike’s parents to Spirit Works Distillery after to show them the barrel room and spilt a tasting flight.
Wanting to beat rush hour in SF, we left shortly after. On the way home we met my dad for a light bite at The Fish Market in San Mateo. The Fish Market has a few locations throughout California but the best one is in San Mateo, without question. It was a nice day so we sat outside on the patio. I was happy my dad got to spend some time with Mike’s parents since they live far away and our families don’t get to see each other often.
The week was fun and family filled. We packed in a lot of activities in a short amount of time. But, to be honest, the rest of Mike’s parents stay was just as jam-packed as the first few days. They were here for 10 days total and we did something almost every night.
On Saturday, we had our lovely engagement party hosted by my mom and fam. It was great to see our closet friends and family come together and get to know each other before our big day next May.
On Sunday we enjoyed a cheese, cracker, and beer night to get through some of the leftovers.
On Monday I went back to work but we still went to a Giants game that night. Which they won. Go Giants!
Tuesday was dinner at home. Mike cooked. The best.
Wednesday we were back at The Fish Market for an official meal there. My dad joining again. 🙂
Thursday we visited the hotel that our room block is at for our wedding. Notably also enjoying a glass of wine on their cute patio and brainstorming after-party ideas.
Friday was their last night here (sad), which called for a fancy dinner at Dry Creek Grill. This was our first time there and we loved it! I can see it becoming a go-to place to dine for us.
Overall it was such a fun 2 weeks with family. I can’t believe how fast time is going. Our wedding is just over 10 months away and I have a feeling it’s going to go by in a flash…!
Oh, hiii. I’m sneaking this blog post in before we pack up and fly down to San Diego early tomorrow morning.
So, what am I loving this month? One word. Summer!
Read on to hear about some of the very summery things that have been going on over here.
Who doesn’t love a good backyard pool party with the fam? During the first weekend of the month we all got together and enjoyed a BBQ and some fun in the pool. Including baby bro’s first little dip in the water.
Barenaked Ladies concert
Mike and I went to a Barenaked Ladies concert mid month at (I think) the best venue in the Bay Area; the Mountain Winery. Omg this place is pretty!
Better Than Ezra opened for them. I hadn’t heard of them before but their music was catchy and they were funny. Which makes live shows way better.
Barenaked Ladies were also really funny and just generally great to see live. Such a good night in a gorgeous setting! We spilt a bottle of wine and chilled out listening to the music. Talk about a perfect summers night.
We’ve started to get a few engagement gifts (always fun) and this week we came home to a pretty good one. A wine cooler!! It fits perfectly beside our bar and I can’t wait to have a chilled glass of wine soon. I’m looking at you, Barb!
Crispy Tofu Strips
I don’t think there is a single tofu recipe on veg-vibes. Although I avoid cooking meat at home, tofu isn’t a staple in my kitchen. I guess it’s just never been my jam. And while I doubt tofu will be in the regular rotation, I did like this recipe for baked crispy tofu strips.
1 package extra firm tofu
1 cup milk (nut or regular)
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 Tbs corn starch
2 Tbs onion salt
1 Tbs cumin
1/2 tbs chili powder
Wrap tofu in a clean dishtowel and place under cookbooks for about 20 minutes to get most of the water out
While your tofu is sitting, mix together breadcrumbs, corn starch, and spices + pour milk into a bowl
After your tofu is dry, cut it into ~1 inch strips
Coat strips with milk and then place them into the breadcrumb and spice mixture
After coated, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
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.
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!
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.
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/Californian. 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!
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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).
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, lolno. 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).
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.
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.
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.)
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. 🙂
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.
A back and white room was next, complete with charcoal lemonade to sample.
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.
Next was a tiny room filled with balloons. Pretty cool! This was the first room that was more interactive, which I enjoyed.
We ran into a plethora of disco balls after, in a room that was playing old disco hits.
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. ❤
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.)
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
THEN THE BEST ROOM OF ALL TIME.
One word. Confetti.
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.
The only downside, confetti everywhere. (I was finding pieces in my purse for days.)
(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:
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.
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. 📸
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.
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!
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.” 😉
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.
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!