Filoli Gardens [+ iced London fog recipe]

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

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My favorite flower; California poppies!

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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A fireplace we could have fit inside
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A hidden little bar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Sprinkle in some cinnamon and stir.

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  • Pour over a tall glass of ice and enjoy!

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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.

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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!

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What else but #avotoast

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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.” 😉

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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.

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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!

Ideally vs. Reality

I’m currently on Day 11 of a 30 Day Yoga Challenge and this evening, as I was in savasana, my mind relentless wondered. As it always does… I have a serious case of monkey mind and it aggressively flares up when I’m supposed to be in total relaxation, concentrating only on my breathing.

Innnn through the nose, ouuuut through the nose. Innnn through the nose, ouuuut through the nose.

Meanwhile, I’m just on the floor, palms ups, thinking about mundane things like what I am going to have for dinner tomorrow, remembering times I had in college, and trying to bring myself back to my breathe every time my wandering brain swings to another branch.

This got me thinking. Specifically about the way I sometimes wish my life were and the way it actually is.  For example, ideally, I would get up every morning and do yoga after enjoying a nice cup of hot water with lemon, in my organic herb garden. My reality is, I go to sleep every night thinking about giant Americano I am going to make in the morning, with my generous splash of half and half. My reality is, I mostly do yoga after a long day when my guilt gets the better of me and I roll out my mat. (Or, when I’m on vacation like this past weekend, I take to the mat after a hot toddy or two…side note: I was pleasantly surprised at my tipsy balancing skills.) My reality is, I have a black thumb that can’t grow a damn thing.

This can really be applied to any situation. Ideally, I would get my sh*t together and post on my blog AT LEAST once a week. My reality is, I haven’t typed a thing for this baby in about a month. Ideally, I would be on GMA talking about my 2 books I’ve published. My reality is, less than one hundred people have bought my books because my less-than marketing. And, for the most relevant scenario (as pertaining to The Veg Voyage anyway), ideally, I would have kept up with my Meatless March goals and would be transitioning into trying out more vegan fare. My reality is, I had wings this weekend.

I guess all I can do is hope my ideals and my reality get closer and closer to finding each other, falling in love, and becoming one. Until then, I’m going to try really hard to eat less meat (again) and write more blog posts. Nam-as-te!

#VegOut

♡ Ashley