SPAIN

Earlier this month, I flew out to Malaga, Spain (birthplace to Pablo Picasso) for a work trip. As to be expected, the tapas and wine were plentiful. The town squares were beautiful; complete with marble floors, palm trees, and fountains. There were castles and cathedrals to explore; new trendy stores housed in old historic buildings; sea breezes and siestas.

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We arrived on Sunday, after flying from San Francisco to Paris to Malaga. Our hotel was only a block from a canal that runs through the city, which made for easy navigating. After unpacking and showering, we met a few colleagues at El Mesón de Cervantes.

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The restaurant was a short 10 minute walk from the hotel and rated well on trip advisor. We started with wine and olives. Something I loved about Malaga was that instead of a bread basket, you get a olive bowl to start your meal when dining out. We also ordered grilled octopus, Iberico ham, mushroom risotto, and salmon.

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The company was good, the food delicious, and the wine flowing. Not a bad first night there!

…That was until I got back to my hotel.

We got back around 11pm, which was around 2pm in California. I Facetime’d my mom for a little bit before falling asleep. Sadly, I only stayed asleep for about 4 hours before waking up pretty distraught. I am prone to homesickness and being solo on this trip hit me hard.

Fortunately, I was able to chat with my mom and Mike again, since it was still early at home. Unfortunately, not being able to sleep on my first night was some cruel foreshadowing to how the rest of my week would be.

I finally fell asleep around 6:30am and, with a start time of 9:30am on Monday, felt pretty worn-down during those first meetings! Particularly because I didn’t sleep on the flights to Spain either.

Thankfully I was able to take a quick nap before dinner that night. Siestas were the real deal in Spain. Like the locals, we ate most dinners late and stayed out after for drinks a few nights. Naps in the middle of the day equaled survival.

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The restaurant we had dinner at on Monday

On Tuesday our meetings were in a new location, which meant figuring out how to get there early in the morning with little sleep (I seriously could not fall asleep there at a decent hour). We were lucky to have the canal to help navigate the city but unfortunately, there was construction near the co-working space we had booked. A lot of Google Maps action on this trip! Eventually we made it to the location and settled in for a day of meetings.

I tried to squeeze every minute I could out of the schedule to catch some shuteye. This often meant skipping breakfast before meetings in lieu of sleeping in. In between meetings, I had a chance to step outside and grab a coffee from a cafe recommended to me by the co-working space organizer. She raved about the churros and chocolate at this place and although I really wanted to try them, I was feeling rundown. Instead I opted for a banana from a small fruit stand nearby (also stocking up on oranges for vitamin C) because I knew that was what my body really needed.

I was able to head back to the hotel midday and, on the way, grabbed a nourishing hummus bowl for lunch. Eating healthy while running on little-to-no sleep was a top priority for me.

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I caught a few Zzz’s before heading out again to explore a castle in the town. As one of my colleagues described it, the castle offered layers and layers of history; a history lasagna, if you will. I was excited to check this bad boy out but sadly, after a steep walk up to the enormous brick building, we discovered the entry fee had to be paid in Euros, and not credit card.

Wah-wah-wah…

Back down the hill it was. (We did get a few pictures at the top though so, still a semi-successful trip.) And time for (more) tapas! My friend Keely and I chatted over beers, olives, ham and melon, Spanish cheese, and spicy potatoes. The food was so good but arguably a lot before heading to a team dinner. 🙂

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The outside walls of the castle

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Views of the port

On Wednesday (half way through the trip) I succumbed to my lack of sleep and skipped the morning session of meetings. Because of my role, I was lucky to have the flexibility to do this; and gratefully so, because it was the little nudge I needed to make it through the next few days. Ah, what your body and brain can do after 6 hours of sleep…!

I met up with everyone for lunch at a foodcourt in a nearby mall and let me tell you, this food court was not your standard strip-mall nosh-mill. This place was fancy. Who doesn’t love a foodcourt with some swagger?

After lunch, a few of us grabbed espressos. We were handed legit stay-here-and-sip mini shots.

“…Um, excuse me? Can we please get these to go please?”

“No. No take away. Sit, sip, and enjoy.”

Wait, wha? Such a cultural difference. This cafe actually did not have to-go cups. You were meant to stay there and enjoy your coffee, not rush off to your next meeting. Similar to when I was in New Orleans, where things just move slower, I was like, this is annoying. I was also too timid to ask for almond milk anywhere in fear of my California stripes showing… Instead I drank everything black, which I don’t normally do. All this to say, it took some grit to pound my espresso and make it back in time for the next meeting.

Having the luxury of enjoying a coffee without taking it to-go is nice in theory but, in execution, I’m more of a let’s get this java on the road kind of girl.

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That evening we went to dinner at Recyclo Bike Cafe, where – like the name suggests – there are a bunch of bikes decorating the walls. I picked this place for 2 reasons; 1. it was a 5 minute walk from our hotel and 2. I wanted to take pictures for Mike, who loves bikes.

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I had been eating a lot more meat than I normally do so wanted to stick to something veg for dinner. I opted for the black beans, avocado, and feta tacos. They didn’t come on a standard corn tortillas, but more of a corn bun (pic below), which turned out to be very filling.

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After dinner we walked to the port to see the ocean. I was all for getting steps and hopefully tiring myself out. We saw some cool sights; both historic and modern. Our evening ended with a stroll on the beach and then back to the hotel (for another sleepless night… boo!).

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Thursday was our last day before leaving on a very early flight on Friday. Not sleeping finally caught up with me and I woke up with a cough and a running nose. Plus, I woke up late which is always freakin’ stressful, let alone when you’re not feeling well.

I got ready in a flash – brushed my teeth and hair, threw something on that resembled an outfit, filled in my eyebrows – and hustled to the meeting location; walked along side the canal, detoured for construction, finally there.

Cough, cough. Tissue for a running nose. Trying not to be disruptive…

Eventually it was time for lunch. I wondered around the allies nearby and came across a cute vegan cafe. I ordered a burger and asked if they had french fries or, “chips?” (mentally wondering, is it only “chips” in the U.K. or here too?). After a fews rounds, and with the help of a nice Italian tourist who translated a bit for me, the cafe owner explained she made herself a batch of sweet potato fries that I could have a few of. She turned one in her finger and told me “just olive oil, salt, and garlic.”

A small part of me thought, this would not fly in America with our restaurant/food laws… That voice was quieted quickly. When in Rome Spain! I was walking back to the office shortly after with the best vegan burger and homemade sweet potato fries (chips?) I’ve had in a long time.

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I tried to solider through afternoon meetings but ended up leaving early. I slept for a solid 4 hours back at the hotel and woke up feeling much better. Just in time for our last dinner in Spain.

We walked down to the port again. Olives and beer to start. Fish dish after fish dish followed, tapas style. I was feeling better but not 100% and ended up eating a lot of bread instead of trying to stomach the clams.

I went back to the hotel to pack after. And, instead of trying at another failed attempt of sleeping, decided to just stay up until 5am when it was time to leave for the airport.

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Romantic getaway [Squaw Valley]

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

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

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

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Those Bombas socks were key on the trail

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

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

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

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So high up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A sweet life it is.

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

[Visit] NorCal beach towns

In classic California fashion, we spent the weekend exploring beach towns here in the Bay Area. We visited both Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, exploring a mix of touristy and local things.

Mike’s parents arrived from Toronto on Friday and before beach bumming it, we kicked things off at B Street and Vine in downtown San Mateo. This place is a local Bay Area gem with the best bruschetta around.

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On Saturday, after coffee and a light breakfast, we drove to Half Moon Bay. Our first stop was back to Dad’s Lunchonette for burgers, beers, and mac n’ cheese. Just like the last time Mike and I went to Dad’s, we took it to-go and ate on the beach across the street at Half Moon Bay State Beach. True to NorCal weather, it was a windy but the sun stayed shinning throughout the afternoon; making for a nice day!

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After we ate, we played a few rounds of Kubb (Barb and Dan beating us 2/3 games). Next up? A nice beach stroll where we found a flock of baby seagulls, proving that everything is cute when it is a baby and small!

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The boys setting things up
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They were so tiny!

After our walk, we drove to Half Moon Bay Distillery for a FREE tour. HMB Distillery is a small craft distillery run by a husband and wife. Ulli gave our tour and she was great! Now thinking about it though, the tour was actually more of a talk. It started with a introduction video explaining how her and her husband started the distillery. Then she told us all about vodka and gin – how they were made and the key differences between them – following it up with tastes of each.

I was a big fan of their gin so we ended up going home with a bottle. I also just love to support local and small businesses. Plus, since the whole thing was free, I’m glad we bought something at the end. If you’re ever in Half Moon Bay, I recommend checking it out.

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Those gorgeous Cali. beaches 👌

We ended the night back in the south bay at one of mine and Mike’s favorite restaurants, Orchard City Kitchen.

On Sunday we started the day at The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz. This place is a little touristy but at $8 a ticket (and $5 to park), it’s a fun, reasonably priced thing to do. Plus, the drive there is beautiful under all of the California redwoods.

The Mystery Spot claims to be “a gravitational anomaly.” You’re able to do all of these weird things like stand a table and lean off of it without falling (pictures below). It is only a 45 minute tour – that’s pretty cheesy with a lot of punny jokes – but I think it was worth it.

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After The Mystery Spot we drove to downtown Santa Cruz. One of our favorite thing to do as a couple is go to the Tea House Spa, where you can enjoy a hour spa and a hour massage for only $180. Such a deal! We didn’t do this with Mike’s parents but there is a cool beer place nearby that we usually go to after the spa called Lúpulo Craft Beer House. We decided to stop there first for beers and a meat and cheese plate. It was a nice day out so we were able to sit on the patio and enjoy our brews and noshes.

After we walked to Mike’s favorite place in Santa Cruz to stock up on cookies at Pacific Cookie Company. Typically I rather go for something else indulgent (like a really good cheese or wine!) but even I have to admit, the cookies are delish here.

We ended the day at Pour Taproom on the main strip in downtown. Mike and I have been there before and think it’s a cool idea. There aren’t any bartenders here but, instead, you serve yourself with selections of different beer, mead, and wine to pick from. One huge wall is lined with all of the taps and you can do a “taste” (2 ounces), a “flight” (4 ounces), or a full glass. You’re given a bracelet to wear that tracks your pours to pay at the end.

I think we each tried about 4 different beers while playing a game of parcheesi, which is about the longest game ever. We actually ended up leaving before we finished. Then it was time to head back over the hill to go home.

Tired but happy from a good weekend, we curled up and watched Lady Gaga’s new special on Netflix, Five Foot Two, in our new spacious office!

White Christmas ⛄

Mike’s family is in town for the holidays and we spent the past week in Tahoe. On Monday we all drove up to South Lake Tahoe. Since there are 6 of us + Mike’s niece (who is a year and a half), we opted to stay in Airbnbs this holiday. Having access to an entire house and all of the comforts of home is great when traveling with a big group of people.

Our first Airbnb was nice and spacious! After we unpacked, a few of us went to the store to stock up on supplies. It’s a huge money saver to have a kitchen to prepare meals in when traveling. After a day of traveling, we decided on an easy dinner of spinach and cheese ravioli with green beans.

We spent 3 days in South Lake before heading North. During our stay, we ate at MacDuff’s (the same pub we went to in February when we went to Tahoe with friends). I love this place, particularly in the winter because it is so cozy. And what’s more comforting than a huge portion of corned beef and cabbage (my go-to order) in cold weather?

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Baby Ella ready to leave MacDuff’s!

One day we walked down to the beach to “get our steps in.” It was about a 45 minute walk which wasn’t bad at all, though it did get significantly cooler on the walk home. While we were beach front, we stumbled upon a restaurant called Jimmy’s. Here we warmed up with spiked minty cocoa and hot toddies. It was snowing a little bit but not enough to stop us from sitting outside around the fire pit. Talk about a movie moment; snow, a fire pit, and boozy winter beverages. I’ll take it!

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It’s snowwwing (and my jacket is not water snow proof)
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Drying socks fireside

On our last night in South Lake we went to see an improv show at Harvey’s. Felicia Michaels and Gene Pompa were performing. They were both funny but I remember the show being better a few years ago when Mike and I went (with different comedians performing). Either way, standup seems to be one of those things I forget how much I love until I see a show. (Side note: if standup shows are your thing, Ali Wong: Baby Cobra is hysterical.)

Midway through the week we drove to North Lake. Before the drive we stopped at Free Bird Cafe to fuel up on coffee. I just happened to come across this place when I Google mapped “coffee” and I’m so glad I did. It is a little hole in the wall type place with good coffee and healthy snacks. Definitely recommended!

About half way through our drive, we stopped at Emerald Bay and went on a snowy hike. I was happy to get some exercise in after many glasses of wine and indulgences. Unfortunately I didn’t finish the last bit of the hike because my shoulder was hurting from falling out of crow pose a day days before (embarrassing!!). I also didn’t snap many pictures this vacation but, if you haven’t been, Emerald Bay is worth a visit. It’s gorgeous!

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That view!

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Once in North Lake, we got a severe storm warning. We went to the store to stock up on more supplies (water and wine topping the list) and spent another lazy night in.  The next day, despite the snowy weather, we headed to mine and Mike’s home away from home, The Resort at Squaw Creek (you can read about our other Squaw adventures here, here, and here) for lunch at Sandy’s Pub.

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Fresh snow in North Lake

On Saturday, Mike and his brother-in-law went snowboarding and, from what I heard, the conditions were perfect. The rest of us met them for lunch in the Village at Rocker@Squaw. After lunch, Mike’s sister and I stayed for a drink until the boys were done on the mountain. It was fun being in the Village while it was snowing. #winterwonderland

Sunday was Christmas and we spent the morning opening stockings and eating breakfast. A few years ago we were in Australia on Christmas (read about it here), which had a similar vibe to this year’s Christmas festivities. The day was casual (it’s hard to lug presents for everyone when traveling to different countries) and cheerful!

After stockings, we packed up and headed to Reno for Christmas dinner with my grandparents, mom and stepdad. It was great having so much family altogether. 🙂

This weekend we are off to Sonoma for New Years. Stay tuned!

 

I See You Morro Bay

Last weekend, we celebrated my birthday in Morro Bay. We met our close friends Gary and April there and stayed in a nice little airbnb close to the beach. Mike and I drove down on Friday night after work, arriving at the house around 9:30pm (minutes before Gary and April).

Mike, April, and I went to the store to stock up on beer and breakfast noms for the next morning. I’m a big fan of IPAs and found a tangerine one that was legit. It was a perfect combination of citrus and hoppy (and a solid 6% – beer under 5% is a waste of time and calories, in my opinion). After a few beers and catching up a little bit, we all went to bed.

The next morning we drank coffee (tea for Mike!) and made a decadent breakfast. I’ve mentioned on the blog a few times that a splash of 1/2&1/2 in my morning coffee would be one of the hardest things to give up if I were ever to be a vegan. I’m surprised that this theory has been completely debunked… I now prefer almond milk in my coffee over cow’s milk. Now, if only cheese wasn’t part of the reason I live so delicious…

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Morning view of the Morro Bay Rock from our airbnb
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The digs

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For breakfast we have waffles, eggs, bacon, and strawberries. Then is was time to get ready and head to San Luis Obispo. There was a Dia De Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) festival in downtown that we explored. We also ate at Luna Red, a restaurant we went to a few years ago for brunch after a camping trip. Here we filled up on cocktails and tacos. #whatsbetter

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I’ve got almond milk clouds in my coffee…
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Me & April #a2

When we got back to our airbnb, Gary and April took a nap. I was trying to resist the urge, so Mike and I started an episode of The West Wing (gotta love an airbnb with Netflix!) but I quickly fell asleep, despite the political drama P.O.T.U.S. Bartlet and his staff were going through. (Side note: I actually love West Wing – do people actually say “The“? – and rarely fall asleep during an episode!)

For dinner we went Rose’s Bar and Grill and sat out by the water. Morro Bay is famous for this massive rock and we had a great view! April and I each ordered a glass of white wine, a house salad, and the lobster mac n’ cheese. Hooray for girlfriends to spilt dinners with! (Even though, to be fair, Mike does spilt things with me most of the time.) As we were walking out, we spotted a small arcade room with air hockey. We stopped for a few rounds before heading back to the house and, yes, of course Mike was champion. We finished the night off with a game of Love Letters, which is one of mine and Mike’s favorite games.

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Dinner and a view!
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Mike holding my purse (thanks Life in Leggings for the recommendation!)  while I played air hockey
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Games and vino

The next morning, Gary and Mike woke up early to set up for the race while April and I spelt in and took our time. Woot woot! Plus, it was also daylight savings (daylight saving?) and I was not complaining about the extra hour off sleep. Okaaaay?!

After the boys were in from the swim, April and I headed to The Coffee Pot (recommendation to us by my mom and stepdad, who got MARRIED in Morro Bay earlier this year) for some much needed BLACK MAGIC and breakfast. Here we spilt (again, I know) a breakfast croissant and home fries. Then it was back to the finish line to see our men come in from the run.

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Mike peeling off his wetsuit after the swim (the only picture I got, ek)
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“Now a silly one….”

Before lunch we packed up the cars, cleaned up the house, and then were right back downtown ready to eat. Morro Bay is your quintessential little beach town, with it’s salty air; creaky, semi-worn down restaurants; and ocean sound effects. (This was actually the 2nd year that we’ve been there and the 2nd time we’ve seen otters in the Bay! Which, in my opinion, is the cutest, best part of the trip.)

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I forgot where we decided to go for lunch but I wasn’t all too impressed with their menu selection. Everyone else got a burger but I knew I would feel sluggish if I ate such a big meal, so I went with a side salad and cup of calm chowder. Pro tip: when dining out, or even at home, ask for a slice of lemon and side of olive oil for your dressing instead of the sugary, calorie-dense options they likely have. I swear, a squirt of citrus, a dash of OO, with some S&P, and you won’t even miss the other stuff.

It was time to head home and say goodbye after 😦

Until next time, Morro Bay!

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.

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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 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!

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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. 🙂

Yosemite 2016

We spent the weekend camping in Yosemite and I’m already jonesing to go back. Mike and I took half days off of work on Friday, driving out to meet friends that were already there. We arrived around 7 that evening and just in time for dinner!

Every year our friend Ben (who we went to Tahoe with in February) plans a trip to Yosemite with a bunch of friends and the meals are divided between everyone. This is nice because you only have to worry about cooking one meal the whole time you’re there. On Friday we had salad, spinach ravioli, and garlic bread. Nom nom. Being the class act that I am, I brought a boxed Pinot and sipped it from a solo cup while we jammed around the camp fire for a bit.

Lucky for us there was a meteor shower that night so around 12am we headed down to the beach (along side of a river) and got cozy under the stars. I saw the brightest, biggest shooting star within the first 10 minutes we were there. It was spectacular (!) but the rest of the stargazing fell short in comparison… After 45 minutes or so (and no more huge shooting star sightings) we headed back to camp and called it a night. …or so we thought.

Both Mike and I had trouble sleeping the first night. Finally – at one point when we were both awake at the same time – we decided to go back out to the beach for some more meteor searching. The best time was supposed to be around 4am so we thought we would have better luck on our second round.

Instead of making it down to the sand again, we ended up folding our towels into makeshift pillows and laying on the bridge connecting the camp grounds to the beach. This was both very romantic and terrifying at the same time. My mind kept alternating between us sharing a RomCom-esce moment, sweetly laying hand in hand on a bridge underneath the stars, and a horror movie with a predator bear on a killing rampage (&two star gazing lovers making for a tasty appetizer). Ek!

When I wasn’t movie-montaging my life, I was concentrating on the sky. Unfortunately it ended up being later than we thought (around 5am) so we didn’t see too many shooting stars but, nonetheless, there is just something about being surrounded by nature, isn’t there?

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The bridge (in daylight) we were stargazing on

We went back to camp and were able to sleep for a few hours, waking up around 9:30am for a slow and delicious morning. I happily learned that there was coffee for sale at the general store nearby. We were staying at Housekeeping, which is almost glamping (oh hey!) with the showers, laundry facilities, a store and, most importantly, fresh brewed coffee on the premises. Mike and I took a stroll down to the store and filled up on caffeine while breakfast was being made. When we got back we had eggs, bacon, waffles, and fruit to fuel us for the day.

After breakfast we all went for a hike to lower Yosemite falls and let me just say, highlight of the trip! To get to the falls you “hike” – but really rock climb – up about a mile or so. The climb up itself was a lot of fun (especially since I’ve recently got back  into rock climbing and felt like a little ninja up there, demonstrating all of my bouldering abilities) but nothing prepared me for the gorgeous scene that was waiting at the top.

My words won’t do this spot justice but imagine a rocky nook hidden in a waterfall’s stream – boulders lazily laying all around – with water pooling and making the area a swimming hole. When the waterfall is at full power and, well, water is falling, this place is unreachable. But this past weekend the water was more …trinkling than falling (a watertrinkle!) and we took full advantage.

I will let the pictures we took up there tell the rest…

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(Word to the wise, if you have/use a Go Pro, be sure to constantly wipe the thing down so water spots don’t ruin your pix! At least half of our pictures are blurry because we forgot to.)

After a few hours in the water, we hiked back down to our camp site; just in time for lunch! Ben’s dad and stepmom had an amazing spread of homemade chicken pesto salad, assorted breads, hummus, chips, Mary’s Gone Crackers (my fav!), fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and cantaloupe.

I usually try to balance out my meals  – aiming for a carb meal, a protein meal, and a combo meal within a day – but with all of the hiking we did, I didn’t even care that I had some heavy carbs that morning (waffles); BRING ON THE BREAD (and crackers and chips). Full and ready to hit the water again, we headed down to the river, armed with rum and floaties.

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The river!

We left the beach after a hour or so and went back to the campsite. It mine and Mike’s turn to cook for everyone. We made a salad and fajitas, which turned out to be great for vegetarians and meat eaters! (I opted for my fajitas without chicken since I already had meat earlier in the day.)  After dinner we were transported back to college and played a few rounds of beer pong. (I learned that I’m still terrible at the game and Mike quickly replaced me as a partner;) We ended the night with a few rounds of a new board game Mike has been playing (with a title that isn’t very PC…).

The next morning we went to brunch at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel. I didn’t even know this existed and, to be honest, it was a little off-putting to see such a grand hotel in the middle of a national forrest… Don’t get me wrong, brunch was good (I had eggs, ham, fruit and an iced coffee) but I couldn’t help but think do we really need couches, a flat screen TV, and a fireplace in Yosemite!?

Fun fact: I did learn the Obama’s recently stayed there by eavesdropping on a another table’s conversation with a waiter. I think I was literally craning my neck to hear more.

After brunch and packing everything up, we all said goodbye. Having taken our bikes but not having a chance to ride them, Mike and I decided to bike to the hike from the day before (Mike, bike, hike…). It was as amazing the second time around as it was the first and a great way to end a fun weekend!

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THAT view though