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.

IMG_20171215_161908

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!

IMG_20171216_101159

IMG_20171216_102819
What else but #avotoast

IMG_20171216_111407

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.” 😉

IMG_20171216_121648

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.

IMG_20171216_214754

IMG_20171216_214851

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!

Tahoe Birthday Festivities

We celebrated Mike’s birthday at one of our favorite places this weekend, Squaw Valley in North lake Tahoe. Since it was a long holiday weekend we got up early and left on Saturday morning, anticipating a nice, relaxing 3 day weekend. After fueling up at our favorite local bagel shop, Bagel Guys, we set out  on the 4 hour drive to Tahoe. We arrived around 12pm; just in time for lunch! Since check in at the resort wasn’t until 4pm, we decided to eat and then spend time on the lake kayaking.

We stopped at Tahoe Brewing Co. for lunch and split a flight of beer, chicken wings, and a hummus + avocado wrap. I’ve mentioned on here before that I typically aim for one carb meal, one protein meal, and one combo meal (carb and protein meal) in a day. I find this to be the most effective way for eating a balanced diet (esp. when traveling!) and maintaining a healthy body weight. Of course, I’m also sure to load up on veggies whenever possible! Our wings and veg wrap were the perfect combo meal and kept me full for hours.

Unfortunately the lake was too choppy for us to kayak after lunch so we went to the resort early and had a drink poolside with our toes dipped in the water. For dinner we went to Sandy’s Pub and split the ribs and mango shrimp. (Since we had bagels that morning – hello, carbs! – it was time for a protein focused meal.)

After dinner we went back to our room for gifts, scotch, and games! Mike’s actual birthday was on Sunday but I couldn’t contain myself and made him open his presents early. We also FaceTime’d with Mike’s sister and niece in Melbourne (where it was already his birthday!).

Opening presents fireside 🙂

On Sunday we woke up and had cheesy eggs on bagels (I actually skipped the bagel knowing the day was going to be full of indulgences), fruit, coffee and tea. After we FaceTime’d with Mike’s parents in Toronto (family all over the world!) we rode our bikes to Olympic Village. There we took the same gondola we did a few years ago to the top of a mountain where we spent the day in the hot tub, basically only breaking for lunch (a hot dog and veg and chicken kabobs, split of course).

On our way up!

For dinner I took Mike to Six Peaks, one of our favorite fancy places to dine! Everyone is so friendly there and the food is ah-mazing; it’s hard not to have a great time. We started with a  charcuterie board with Humboldt fog (the best cheese!!), Toma cheese, and prosciutto. It was served with honey and blackberries and was devine.  For dinner, we each ordered a filet mignon and shared side of truffle mashed potatoes and asparagus. They brought Mike dessert for his birthday that (we think) was banana pudding in a cookie-crust bowl with bananas, whip cream, and chocolate shavings on top. I don’t think we would have ordered it if we saw it on the menu but, like everything at Six Peaks, it was heaven.

14237515_10154215672684230_8168939815696864323_n
Our view of the pools at dinner
Strong after-dinner selfie game

On Monday, Mike woke up early for a swim. I met him a bit later for tea and hot tubing! We spent a lazy morning alternating between the pool and hot tub. For breakfast Mike had banana bread and a chocolate croissant (I had bites of both!) and I stuck to fruit and hard boiled eggs (definitely a less decadent breakfast but I find protein in the morning works better for me).

img_0288
Morning bliss!

Since we weren’t able to kayak on Saturday, we tried again before we left and luckily the water wasn’t as choppy! We spent a hour on beautiful lake Tahoe, kayaking together and taking it all in. One of my favorite things about mine and Mike’s relationship is how much we do togetherHe urges me to explore the world through activity (bike rides, hikes, kayaking, etc.), while accompanying me on my never-ending quest of healthy eating and compassionate living. I don’t think I could have picked a better partner! 💙

After working up an appetite on the lake, we broke into our cheese, cracker, and prosciutto leftovers from dinner the night before. Then, still hungry and needing more food, we went to Rocker@Squaw and noshed on (more) wings and a veggie plater with hummus and Green Goddess dressing. NomNOM.

After lunch we stopped for a coffee and one last splurge at Dorinda’s Chocolates – best sea salt caramels in all the land!

IMG_20160905_152247.jpg

As usual, our time at squaw did not disappoint! Now the countdown is on for when we return in December with Mike’s family. 🙂

No Negativity June

It is June 1st and I’m going to try something completely new this month. In the past I’ve done No Sugar cleanses, tea detoxes, etc. but this month, instead of focusing on my body, I’m shifting my effort and energy to my mind and spirit.

A couple of weeks ago I started to notice how much of my daily conversation seemed to revolve around negativity. Some of it more serious than most (for example, talking badly about a friend vs. just general complaining; “it’s too hot in here,” “traffic is the worst in the Bay Area,” etc.) but, nonetheless, it all suddenly felt very draining.

The realization of how consuming the negative chatter was hit me hard. So, of course, I started talking about it with the people I am closest too. I mentioned the idea of a No Negative June (instead of a Dry June or No Processed Food June) to my S.O.. He thought it was an interesting idea and encouraged me to try it.

I opened up to my dad about it and, coincidentally, he’d been thinking along the same lines. Like me, he was growing tired of the happiness-suck that negativity often results in. I talked to my mom and the idea resonated with her as well. She was tired of the gossip and anxious side-effects that came with it. (I think we can all relate to getting caught up in a conversation and regretting some of the things said after the fact.)

I also talked to one of my best friends, Leslie, when she was in town. I broached the subject over poached eggs and lattes and learned that she too had been feeling the same way! I noticed there was a web forming around me; delicate strings connecting some of the people I love most, urging us to be better. Be more conscious. Be less negative. More happy. Gracious.

After these conversations, my plan for a No Negativity June was cemented. The collective sense of bettering ourselves and what we talk about, engage in, and subscribe to encouraged me to dive right in.

So, here I go. I will be spending the next 30 days trying to avoid negativity. I don’t want to engage in gossip. I want to limit my complaining. I want my conversations to be meaningful and my words to align with my morals. It’s time to cleanse my spirit, not my body. I hope to flex my positivity muscles this month and will be posting about it here so come back and check in!

 

South Lake Tahoe

We’ve been planning a trip to south lake Tahoe since the end of last year with 4 other couples and it finally happened this past weekend! Tahoe is the perfect weekend escape if you live in the Bay Area (and recommended as a detestation even if you don’t!) because it’s only about 4 hours away and has all different activities to do in the summer or winter. Mike and I usually frequent north lake (you can read about our trips here and here) but I feel like the south shore has more of a party vibe and is better to go with friends.

All of the couples spent the weekend in a cabin we rented close to the state line (between California and Nevada) but Mike and I drove up late on Thursday night. We split a room at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino with our friends Ben and Sandra because the boys wanted to spend all of Friday on the mountain snowboarding and skiing (instead of driving up like everyone else). On our way up, we stopped at Panera, which is a go-to place when we are on the road since it’s relatively healthy.  The restaurant recently rolled out a new campaign using clean ingredients and having a “transparent menu.” In my opinion this should be standard for waaaay more (if not all!) restaurants but at least someone is making the first steps. I am happy to support businesses that care about nutrition and the health of their costumers so I gladly spend my money here. Sadly we nixed our weekatarian ways and ate meat during this meal. I ordered the broccoli and cheddar soup and a Cobb salad without cheese; both were good and kept me full for the rest of our journey to Tahoe.

When we got there around midnight, Ben and Sandra were still about 45 minutes out and we couldn’t check in without them since the hotel was under Ben’s name. Instead we grabbed a beer in the casino and tried not to inhale too much. #smokingkills

On Friday the guys went straight to the lift and Sandra and I spent a leisurely day getting coffee, sushi, and drinking wine while watching Ellen. Since I broke my no meat on the week rule the day before, I ordered vegetable tempura and  a cucumber roll for lunch with a side of edamame. Around 6pm most of the other couples arrived and we got ready for dinner at MacDuff’s Pub. This place was cute and cozy; basically a quintessential Irish pub. Half of our group ordered the truffled mac n cheese and, as good as it looked, I knew it would be too rich for me so I got the corned beef and cabbage instead. I also went against tradition and got a hot toddy instead of a beer. After dinner, we went back to the cabin and played Anomia, this crazy fun card game that involves a lot of quick thinking and shouting at each other.

Saturday started with a lazy breakfast of eggs, bacon, and fruit + a coffee run. It could be just me but heading to Starbucks with a huge list of coffee orders makes me feel oddly very much like an adult…

Back at the cabin, armed with caffeine and Chromecast, we alternated between watching Beyonce and Justin Bieber music videos. (Also, very adult like;) Finally around 1pm we collectively decided it was time to go outside and play in the snow. We gathered our gloves, hats, beers, and googles to go sledding nearby.

12705412_10103695056094770_5063781684454586884_n

I was starving when we got back to the house and was stoked that I had leftovers from the night before. After scarfing down the rest of my corned beef and cabbage, it was time to hot tub! While we were soaking in the jacuzzi the last couple arrived. We all went to Cold Water Brewery & Grill for dinner with the intention of going to the casinos after. Mike and I split pretzel bites with beer fondue, a rice + veggie bowl, and fish & chips. It was a lot of food and we just couldn’t rally after… The whole group was tired and suffering from food comas so we went back to the cabin and fell asleep. …I guess that’s what  happens when you vacation with a group of 26+ year olds.

12755413_10103698717801680_1818588503_o
Everyone!
On Sunday there was another coffee run and some brunch action before going home. We saw the brunch menu at Cold Water Brewery & Grill the night before and went there again to try their monkey bread. Mike and I split an order of the ooey-gooey-carmel-delcious- ness and each got an order of eggs Benedict which was WAY too much food.

Overall the weekend was filled with more beer than vegetables and essentially no exercise but a lot of fun with good company in a great location! Sometimes you just need a weekend away with friends… amIright?!

#VegOut

♡ Ashley