Family vacay | San Diego to Sebastopol

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!

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Exploring Old Town

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!

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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.

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Gio’s first walking tour; catching a ride from SISTER
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Canadian cutie outside The Del

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.

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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.

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Patio chillin

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!

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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.

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The whole fam.

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.”

Wait, what!?

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.

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…not the best picture but the Cheetah is behind her dog buddy, who were introduced when the cheetah came to the zoo and are now BFFs (the dog helps the cheetah stay calm and relaxed).
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Hi there!

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. ūüėČ 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.

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Next we went over to Pax and spilt a bottle of wine, plus an order of warm olives. Again, such a nice time.

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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!

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Faaaaiiiilll

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We ended the night with a dip in the hot tub and a discussion of wedding songs. ūüôā

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.

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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.

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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!

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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. ūüôā

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.

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Cheers!

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…!

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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 ūüôā

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.

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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).

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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¬†together.¬†He 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!¬†ūüíô

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!

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

A little Danish town down south

We had a double whammy with weekends away this month from Mexico to a mini family vacation just north of Santa Barbara! A few weekends ago, Mike and I met my grandparents, my mom and Andy, my stepdad, down in Solvang, CA. We took a half day off of work on Friday to beat the traffic and headed down around 1pm. The drive was mostly boring except when we were driving along side the ocean and I was reminded how beautiful California is.

Mike and I arrived at the airbnb we were staying at shortly after my grandparents had. We took a quick tour of the house and I was obsessed!

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When I booked our accommodations a few months ago when I had read reviews about chickens living on the property and – more importantly – the fresh eggs that were supplied. Being a¬†health nut, I couldn’t wait to try organic, free range (backyard?) eggs AND meet the chickens who produced them. Sure enough, there were about 2 dozen fresh eggs waiting for us in the refrigerator; plus, organic milk, almond creamer, bagels, cream cheese, orange juice, and organic coffee. Peter and Beverly (the owners of the house) were clearly my kind of people!

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Since my mom and Andy were still a few hours away and the four of us were hungry, we decided to check out the Firestone Walker Brewery. Mike and I love trying news beers and this place did not disappoint! I ordered the Easy Jack IPA (yum, yum IPAs!) and Mike got a seasonal sour. For food, my grandma and I spilt the ribs (with mashed potatoes and veggies) and a small plate of mac n’ cheese. Mike ordered the flank steak and my grandpa got a burger with fries. The meal was decadent, delicious, and A LOT of food. (I think it’s fair to say Mike helped us eat a good amount of the ribs and mac.)

After dinner we stopped at a local store for a sweet treat. Armed with 3 different cookies, we headed back to the house and waited for my mom and Andy. My grandpa and Mike are both engineers and get along well. It is always nice for me to sit around with my family and Mike and simply just chat. Some of my best adult memories so far are having my grandparents over for the weekend and spending lazy mornings around my kitchen table, drinking coffee (for me and my grandpa) and tea (for Mike and my grandma) while talking politics (luckily we all generally agree with each other!).

Shortly after my mom and Andy arrived we all went to bed, full from cookies and conversation.

On Saturday morning, between cups of coffee and getting ready, my grandma and I went outside to meet the chickens on the property. Then it was time for some FRESH EGGS (that only Mike, Andy, and I felt comfortable eating). I buy “cage free” eggs at home and hate to admit that – at ~$5 a dozen – organic eggs just seem too expensive… I think this was my first time having an actual organic egg where the chicken was free-roaming. (There was even a little feather leftover on one of the eggs as a reminder!)

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Spot the feather!?

After breakfast, we drove into downtown Solvang. Solvang is a cute little Danish town that – in Mike’s words – resembles the ride It’s a Small World¬†at Disneyland. We popped into a small nature¬†museum¬†to start the day. The museum had¬†a scavenge hunt for certain paintings and facts about California’s national parks. To be honest, the scavenge hunt was the only thing that kept me engaged during our museum trip. It was fun to run around the room with Mike, looking for answers, while trying to hide our findings from my mom and Andy.

After the museum, my mom was hungry but Рhaving had a later breakfast РMike and I were no where near ready for lunch. So, instead, while everyone got a bite to eat, Mike and I went exploring. A few streets away we found Copenhagen Sausage Garden and spilt a grapefruit beer (and a few sweets) while sitting outside on the patio. This beer tasted more like juice than a brew and was perfect for a before noon drink.

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We met back with my family to go on a trolly tour of Solvang next. The trolly was $14 a person for a 25 minute tour in a trolly car lead by 2 horses. At first I thought the price was a bit expensive but we learned on the tour how well the horses were treated and I was glad to support that.¬†We also saw a building with a roof made of grass (that, if done properly should last 200 years) and, legend goes that when it rains, outdoor pets will climb to the top of these roofs and start digging and digging to get inside where it is dry. If they were successful in digging, it would be “raining cats and dogs.”

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After the tour, Mike and I were ready for lunch. We went back to the sausage garden and spilt a grilled p√łlse (a red sausage) and a charcuterie board. The board had our favorite cheese,¬†humboldt fog, and different salamis and sausages to dip into mustards. It was a lot of meat and dairy for one meal but worth the splurge!

Next, my grandma, mom, and I hit up a few thrift stores, which is one of the most environmentally friendly things you can do(!), while the guys went to check out a motorcycle museum. We were all pretty tired after so went back to the house for some quick power naps before dinner.

We were celebrating my grandpa’s birthday so went to a nice Italian place nearby the house called¬†Trattoria Grappolo. My grandma and I spilt a Cesar salad and the spaghetti and meatballs (can you tell I love to spilt things?!). The food was good but after eating my first meatball, I realized how much meat I’d had that day. I couldn’t stomach another meatball and stuck to the noodles instead.

The rest of our evening was mellow back at the house, turning in again for another early bedtime.

On Sunday morning, Beverly (our airbnb host), taught us all about the chickens on the property. We were able to feed and massage them too. (Who knew chickens love a good back rub?) After our lesson, we packed up and headed to OstrichLand.

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OstrichLand has both ostriches and emus. You are given a bowl of food to feed the birds. The bowl is glued to a metal dustpan and you hold it out, with your arms all the way extended, so the ostriches and emus can stick their beaks in and munch. The ostriches are way more aggressive when eating than I thought so I stuck to feeding the smaller emus. We were only here for about 20 minutes but I recommend going. It’s cheap and cool to see those massive birds up close.

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Next¬†we went to Anderson’s Spilt Pea¬†for lunch. Mike and I weren’t hungry this early again so we sat and enjoyed the company instead. (Though I did snag a bowl of Anderson’s famous spilt pea soup!) After lunch it was time to say goodbye and get on the road. ūüė¶

Since Mike and I hadn’t eaten lunch we decided to stop at the other Firestone Walker Brewing Co¬†location¬†in Paso Robles (different location, more north). I ordered the Pivo (and liked it so much we bought a 6 pack to take home) and we spilt a chicken burger and the mac n cheese (again).

The weekend was a huge success with a great place to stay, some of my favorite company, and really good noshes. What else could a girl ask for?!

The Happiest Place on Earth

The S.O. and I took some time off last  week and headed to southern California for a long weekend visiting friends and exploring Disneyland! We left around 2pm on Wednesday and drove to Chatsworth, where our friends Gary and April moved a few years ago. It was so good to see them again, even if it was only for one night. We were able to see their new house, have a few beers, and entertain ourselves with the face swap feature on snapchat.

On Thursday morning we woke up early to beat the infamous LA traffic and get to Disneyland on time. I snagged a cup of coffee before we left Gary and April’s but we didn’t get a chance to eat breakfast. Instead of overpaying for food in the park, we stopped a few miles before our hotel and got breakfast croissants at a little one-off coffee shop. Our intention was to go to Subway but found this place instead and, wanting to support local businesses, decided to eat here.

We stayed at the Carousel Beach Inn¬†¬†right across from the park entrance. The hotel wasn’t anything special but it was about a 10 minute walk to Disneyland. The lack of amenities¬†(no WiFi or breakfast!) was doable given the great location. Besides, when you’re at Disneyland, you’re really only in the hotel to sleep and, believe me, sleep comes hard and fast after 12+ hours of walking.

Mike and I got the 2 day park hopper tickets ($$$$) and started our adventure in Disneyland. Growing up, I went to Disneyland often with my mom, grandma, and grandpa but we only went to California Adventure  once; so Disneyland is really the beating heart for my childhood memories and nostalgia.

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The main entrance!
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The photographer wanted us to “stare into each other’s eyes” and I was barely able to keep ¬†it together…
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Secretly giggling at the awkwardness

Needless to say, like most of the population, I was pretty stoked to be starting the day in the happiest place on earth. (If only it wasn’t so crowded…) We walked to Space Mountain* first to grab a fast pass¬†and were completely overwhelmed with how insane Tomorrowland was. Star Wars has taken over. We made an agreement to spend as little time as possible there.

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Waiting for our first ride!

Luckily the rest of the park wasn’t as crowded.¬†We were able to ride Pirate’s, The Haunted House, the Matterhorn, and a few others before going back to use our fast pass on Space Mountain. Space Mountain was my favorite ride when I was little and it didn’t disappoint now¬†being¬†26 years old!

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Outside Club 33!
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Star Tours

After riding rides all morning, we were ready for lunch. We made our way to Harbour Galley and shared a shrimp salad, a lobster roll and a giant iced tea. Theme park food is often unhealthy and caloric but I’m always starving! A salad would not hold me over (plus, most of the time, the salads aren’t actually even that healthy…) so I love that ¬†Mike is willing to split things with me! This way we are able to at least get some vegetables but also splurge a bit. Win-win.

Next we went to explore California Adventure and I was pleasantly surprised with how enjoyable it was! I thought I was going to want to stay in Disneyland the whole trip (possibly clinging a little too hard to some childhood memories!) but it was well worth it to pay the money and go back and forth between the two parks.

Added bonus:California Adventure has alcohol.

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Beer sampler
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Making sure all is well with work!
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Mike and his brew

For dinner we went to Downtown Disney and sat outdoors at a place called UVA Bar. We split an order of the calamari to start. I ordered the mushroom flat bread pizza, opting for a vegetarian meal because of the ham I had on my breakfast croissant, and Mike order the lamb burger with spicy Greek fries. The food was so good but we needed to eat quickly in order to ride the Tower of Terror one more time before closing.

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Leaving CA Adventure 

After a long day of a lot of walking, riding, screaming, eating, drinking, and plain ol’ Disney magic, it was time to go back to the hotel and sleep.

On Friday we were at the park before opening, deciding to start the day in California Adventure to capitalize on the Starbucks there. Armed with my iced coffee and spinach and feta egg white wrap (a go-to breakfast for me when I’m traveling), I was ready for another round of ¬†Tower of Terror.

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We are in the front row on the left. I look like I’m going to puke and Mike is playing a prank.

We went to Cars Land after and rode Radiator Springs Racers, which was definitely my favorite ride in California Adventure.

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After a few other rides we grabbed a beer and sat down for a while. Mike had his step tracker on his phone and it calculated we had walked ~29,000 steps on Thursday and ~36,000 by the end of Friday.

Another round for us!

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Cheers!

By chance, while we were there, the Food & Wine festival was going on so we were able to try some really good beers and small plates. We snacked on chicken and 4 cheese mac and cheese and some fried artichokes while people watching.

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After our light snacks, we went back to Disneyland (a lot of park hopping comes with the park hopper tickets!) for more rides and lunch. Having eaten (mostly) vegetarian throughout the day, I was ready for some meat during lunch! (Weekatarianism isn’t really a thing on vacations…) We stopped at Bengal Barbecue for chicken and bacon wrapped asparagus skewers and split a jalapeno stuffed pretzel.

Towards the end of the day, we had our fast passes lined up perfectly and spent a fun 2 hours running through the parks to make all of our rides on time.

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After our last ride on our fast pass binge, we went to downtown Disney again for dinner. This time opting for a little fancier eatery and dining at House of Jazz. I ordered the Gulf Shrimp Pan Roast, which came with (more) artichoke hearts, andouille sausage, tomato veloute and Cajun rice. SO GOOD! I love New Orleans inspired food.

And of course we couldn’t resist the Beignets¬†for dessert!

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Look at all of that powered sugar!

After dinner we went back to Disneyland to finish out the evening. We rode Big Thunder Mountain (one of my favorites!) one last time before the park closed and we went back to the hotel for another deep, deep sleep.

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The castle. (And all of the people.)

On Saturday we woke up early and drove to Orange County to visit some very good friends of mine. I met my friend Sam in college, who was living with her aunt Robin and uncle Tony. Robin was expecting her first baby and I was looking for a job! Having experience with kids (my mom owned a home daycare and I started babysitting when I was 13), I started watching Robin and Tony’s son (and a few years later, their daughter) every week for over 2 years.

I spent basically every day with Sam and her family and love them like they are my own. Sadly in 2009 they all moved down to southern California and now I don’t see them nearly as much as I would like to.

Sam had a precious, pretty, perfect  little baby girl in March and I finally got to meet her sweet little self. It was so good to end our weekend with such close friends.

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Beautiful like her mama!

Overall, we had a great vacation – a perfect couple of days spent away before I start my new job next week!

#VegOut!

*I know it has been renamed Hyperspace Mountain but I disagree with changing this classic coaster’s name so will continue to call it by the original.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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

‚ô° Ashley

Washington… you my jam

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Monday was particularly hard today because we spent the weekend away in Washington and had such a good time!¬†Our friends Morgan and Joe (celebrity name: MoJo) moved to Bellevue last year and because life is so busy, Mike and I were finally able to make it up there for a visit (10 months later). We flew out¬†Friday evening¬†and, to tide us over for the flight,¬†split a beer and a small order of potato skins at the airport. Yum, airport food…………..

We arrived in¬†Seattle¬†around 9pm, a little cold (California is in a serious drought and I haven’t experienced life under 70 degrees in a while…) but mostly just really excited to be there! MoJo got engaged this year (!) and Morgan just started¬†a new job so there was a lot to catch up on our drive to where they live in Bellevue.

Bellevue is this perfect little city (that amazingly isn’t too crowded or dirty) about 10 minutes from Seattle. We stopped at one of Morgan and Joe’s favorite restaurant Lot No. 3¬†before going back to their apartment. We started the night with drinks (wine for the ladies and beer for the men) while we waited for our table. I expected to be starving by this point but wasn’t actually too hungry when we sat down for dinner. Instead of ordering a full meal I stuck with one veggie slider (which were sold individually) and a side of fries.¬†I’m not sure if it’s more of a mental thing or an actual physical reaction but sometimes eating meat (like the bacon pieces on our potato skins) makes me feel nauseous so I thought it was best to go vegetarian at dinner.¬†Washington has all of these amazing local, organic,¬†vegetarian/vegan¬†options when dining out. Heaven!

After dinner we headed to MoJo’s for a few brews and glasses of wine before bed. Which was after 2am… Which is really late for us now… ( Or, at least for me!)

The next morning was pretty lazy with a late wake up call and a decadent brunch. (My favorite kind of morning!) We went to the Hyatt for unlimited fresh squeezed orange juice(!), eggs Benedict and apple + almond waffles. The food was delicious even in the midst of a reverse hangover…. (I have no idea why but I woke up feeling fine and then progressively started showing signs of a hangover…!?!?)

After brunch we drove around Lake Washington¬†to look at all of the nice houses that ¬†surround the area. (Bill Gates lives here, to give you an idea of the houses there…. $$$$$$$$$$$) After a short tour, I was in some serious need of caffeine so we made a pit stop at Cafe Cesura,¬†a “hip” (do people still say that?) cafe¬†where I really wanted to try a latte but¬†was¬†feeling nauseous again so ordered an organic black English breakfast tea to-go instead.

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I’m in the middle of a 30 day yoga challenge so before we headed out again Morgan and I did a quick yoga sesh.¬†After we namaste’d, it was time to go WINE TASTING. We drove a few miles from Bellevue to Woodinville, which is a super cute little town with a lot¬†different places to wine taste. Our first stop was a smaller place where we snagged a corner table and sipped on ros√©s, whites and reds. Next we went to Mark Ryan, a trendy, open tasting room recommended to Morgan by a friend. This place had cool high ceilings and a more trendier vibe than our first tasting. I’m not a wine expert by any means (I order the cheapest glass on the menu!) but Morgan knows a lot about different flavors, grapes, etc. Slightly buzzed we decided it was time for some quick appetizers at Purple Cafe.¬†The menu here was amazing and, if it was later, I would have loved to eat dinner here. But since it was barely five, we stuck to small plates to share. We ordered a fig and goat cheese flat bread and an order of spicy prawns and frites. After we chowed down (and sobered up), we recognized this combination was a little strange but does it really matter when you’re on vacation? #no

IMG_1175When we got back to Bellevue, we headed to Earls for dinner. Mike and I had been to¬†Earls a few years ago when we did a trip to B.C. and since most of the locations are in Canada, we were happy to be able to go back! I ordered the chicken tacos with a side Cesar salad and a too-sweet peach cocktail that I couldn’t finish. (Like most of the trip, I forgot to snap a picture until midway through my meal but I can promise, the food tasted a lot better than it looks in my crappy picture…) After dinner we went back to MoJo’s where we were planning on calling it a night until we googled a bar recommended to us from some frequent Seattle visitors and realized it wouldn’t be open the next day before our flight. So we headed back out for a nightcap at ¬†Zigzag,¬†¬†a speakeasy type bar with old school cocktails. I was already showered and in my pajamas when we decided to go and, typically, I would have wanted to stay in but since Sunday was our last day, I figured why not?! You can sleep on the weekdays, after all.

12063018_424036884458587_671607061_nOn Sundy, our flight wasn’t until 8pm so we still had an entire day left to explore the PNW. After another late-start morning,¬†we walked to a nearby cafe for croissants and lattes. Mike and I split the chocolate + almond and ham + cheese¬†croissants. One savory and one sweet to satisfy both of our cravings. And then we were off to explore Pike Place Market, a major tourist spot in¬†Seattle. We walked around the farmer’s market while sampling chocolates and sipping on organic apple cider. Since California ¬†hasn’t gotten the memo that it’s fall now, it was nice to¬†enjoy¬†some cooler weather and cozier activities. (We’re still swimming on the weekends¬†at home.) After Pike Place we went to Capitol Hill, which is the equivalent to the Castro in San Francisco for Seattle. It was fun to explore another new neighborhood and proves that visiting locals in the best way to¬†travel. In sticking with the theme of local-favorites, we headed to Paseo¬†next. Mike’s old roommate moved up to WA and told usIMG_1184 about this sandwich shop-gem. Word to the wise?¬†IF YOU EVER VISIT SEATTLE YOU¬†NEED TO GO TO PASEO! Mike and I split a Caribbean Roast and Paseo Press while¬†Morgan and Joe stuck to veggie options and got the Onion Obsessed Sandwich and Tofu Delight. In¬†between big bites, messy hands, and giant sauteed onion slices, the four of us raved about Paseo’s food the entire meal.

After our massive, marvelous,¬†sandwiches, it was time to go to the airport. Washington was so much fun with some of the best food I’ve had this year! (Which reminded me of¬†how underwhelmed I was with the food when I was in New York a few months ago… Stay tuned for the post!)

#VegOut

‚ô° Ashley

Food Crawlin’

This past weekend was full of favorites for me and Mike. We spent the weekend at Resort at Squaw Creek in North Lake Tahoe. We stayed at this resort for the first time last year and got upgraded to a “fireplace suite.” Whoever upgraded us should get some sort of promotion because the resort has become a home away from home for us during the past year! And – not to be bougie – buuuuut if we had stayed in a regular room* that first time, I don’t think the weekend would have made such a lasting impression on us. Now, we splurge for the suites and, let me tell you, having a fireplace (and a stove, a toaster, a master bedroom and 2 TVs) in your hotel room, never gets old!

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Aside from staying at the resort, we partook in a pretty amazing food crawl. If you don’t know what a food crawl is (like many of the waiters and waitresses who wanted to be sure we only¬†wanted a salad… for both of us… to split…), it’s when you “crawl” from eatery to eatery having your appetizer, salad, soup, entree, dessert, etc. all at different restaurants. Food crawls are great because they allow you to sample¬†a lot of different foods, especially on vacations when there are so many restaurants to try! (Note, they do get a little pricey with the tipping included at each new place but I think it’s worth the experience.)¬†

We started at the welcoming event the resort offers on Friday evenings with beer and app samples and then went to the pub located on the property. Here we each ordered a cocktail and decided on the pretzel bites with jalapeno cheddar (for me) and spicy mustard (for Mike) dipping sauces. From past experience (you might remember when I wasn’t eating meat in March and ordered these same pretzel bites for dinner), I know these are delicious so it was hard to get just the half order but we knew we have to save room for the rest of the evening!

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Next we took the free shuttle service to The Village and stopped at a bar(?) called 22. If I’m being honest, I have to say this was my least favorite stop on the crawl. We split a steak salad with fennel and beets. I enjoyed the salad but the atmosphere, in my opinion, was lacking. It felt a little old world and stuffy… (and I thought it smelt weird but Mike didn’t feel the same so, who knows?) After our salad, we went to another pub (this one Irish) and ordered the potato skins and sliders which were so unhealthy and full of fat and cheese and calories amazing! We ended our food crawl with a pear tart at a pizza place (not photographed) and a nightcap back in our suite!

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Lunch trio!

The next day, we took the tram to the top of the mountains where there was a pool, hot tub, cafe, bar, and a mini-museum from the 1960 Olympics that were hosted at Squaw. At the cafe we split 3 appetizers (another good way to try a lot of different things!!); the bruschetta with an avocado drizzle, a flat bread with spinach, figs and a balsamic glaze, and BBQ wings. I had higher hopes for the flat bread and the bruschetta Рwhich were both just okay Рbut the wings were the bomb.com and Mike gave me the last/uneven extra one so ya know, I fell in love with him all over again, type thing.

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Cheese and meat eats

For dinner (I fell in love, yet again;), Mike treated me to a fancy-schmancy steak dinner at Six Peaks, the resort’s restaurant. We started with a cheese and meat sampler that I could have had all to myself and called it a meal. We also ordered/split (do you see a common theme here?) a rib-eye and a fillet with truffle mashed potatoes and asparagus. Seriously. So. Good. And last, but not least, we ended the night with my FAVORITE chocolate covered Oreo’s with mini M&Ms on top (I don’t even like Oreo’s in real life, but put me on top of a mountain, charge me Mike $4.50 per Oreo, and #bliss).

So, to recap, obviously my attempt to stop eating meat during The Veg Voyage has been derailed (steak salad and wings and rib-eye, oh, MY!) but you know what they** say………………….. Oreo’s are vegan.

#VegOut

‚ô° Ashley

*#barbaric – JUST KIDDING!

**”they” being HuffPo¬†