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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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. 😉 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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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…!

Friday Favorites – June [Crispy Tofu Strips recipe]

Oh, hiii. I’m sneaking this blog post in before we pack up and fly down to San Diego early tomorrow morning.

So, what am I loving this month? One word. Summer!

Read on to hear about some of the very summery things that have been going on over here.


Pool parties 

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Who doesn’t love a good backyard pool party with the fam? During the first weekend of the month we all got together and enjoyed a BBQ and some fun in the pool. Including baby bro’s first little dip in the water.


Barenaked Ladies concert 

Mike and I went to a Barenaked Ladies concert mid month at (I think) the best venue in the Bay Area; the Mountain Winery. Omg this place is pretty!

Better Than Ezra opened for them. I hadn’t heard of them before but their music was catchy and they were funny. Which makes live shows way better.

Barenaked Ladies were also really funny and just generally great to see live. Such a good night in a gorgeous setting! We spilt a bottle of wine and chilled out listening to the music. Talk about a perfect summers night.

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WINE COOLER

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We’ve started to get a few engagement gifts (always fun) and this week we came home to a pretty good one. A wine cooler!! It fits perfectly beside our bar and I can’t wait to have a chilled glass of wine soon. I’m looking at you, Barb!


Crispy Tofu Strips

I don’t think there is a single tofu recipe on veg-vibes. Although I avoid cooking meat at home, tofu isn’t a staple in my kitchen. I guess it’s just never been my jam. And while I doubt tofu will be in the regular rotation, I did like this recipe for baked crispy tofu strips.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 package extra firm tofu 
  • 1 cup milk (nut or regular)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbs corn starch
  • 2 Tbs onion salt
  • 1 Tbs cumin
  • 1/2 tbs chili powder

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Directions:

  • Wrap tofu in a clean dishtowel and place under cookbooks for about 20 minutes to get most of the water out
  • While your tofu is sitting, mix together breadcrumbs, corn starch, and spices + pour milk into a bowl 
  • After your tofu is dry, cut it into ~1 inch strips
  • Coat strips with milk and then place them into the breadcrumb and spice mixture
  • After coated, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
  • Serve with a veg and dipping sauce 🙂

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Other Friday Faves:
January
February
March
April
May

2017
Friday Favorites #5
Friday Favorites #4
Friday Favorites #3
Friday Favorites #2
Friday Favorites #1

R&R and Girls Time

This weekend I spent a lot of time with my girlfriends. The older I get, the harder I find it to carve out quality time for friends because of hectic schedules and the miles in between us. It was great seeing so many of my girls and spending more than a shared meal or quick coffee catch up sesh with them. I’ve noticed that too often we spend our time together reminiscing on the “old times” – and all of the memories we made once upon a time – instead of creating new stories to tell years from now…

One of my best friends Leslie is in town and we spent all day Saturday together. We started the day in San Francisco, wondering Union Street and eating breakfast at a place called Perry’s. Lucky for me, Leslie doesn’t eat much meat either so we happily split a veggie scramble and the California eggs Benedict. We also got lattes, which has more milk than I usually like to drink but because it was a lazy morning spent with a friend, I didn’t worry about it.

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After breakfast we did some window shopping. Shortly after we decided we could both go for another coffee and popped in a Starbucks for round two. We also stumbled into a place called Urban Remedy; which is a vegan storefront that offers juices, quick grab and go meals, and a few other snacks. We picked up a bag of their Ginger Brittle and sat with our coffees, chatting, snacking and sipping.

After some vegan noshing, we headed across the Bay to Livermore for late afternoon wine tasting with Leslie’s mom. We started at Wente Vineyards and then went to Concannon. I am actually the worst at wine tasting because I find that I always forget what the last wine I tried tasted like, so I can’t compare the wines the way other people seem to do. I’m also not a picky wine drinker by any means (being way more bougie about my beer than my wine) and can’t tell a Merlot from a cab from any other red… Nonetheless, both vineyards were beautiful and what’s better than drinking wine with other women?! (WHO run the world!? #GIRLS)

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After wine tasting we went downtown for Italian at a place called Bruno’s, which was delicious but really, what Italian food isn’t?

On Sunday, Leslie came down to my house, along with our friend, Shelby, and her cute little chunk of a baby. We spent the afternoon poolside while snacking on chips, hummus, and guacamole.

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My other good friend Morgan was also in town for a work conference and came over shortly after we got back from the pool. Morgan and I used to be neighbors but now she lives in Washington. I haven’t seen her since October when Mike and I went to visit her and her fiance.  We caught up for a while at my place and then went to our friend’s Jules and Ben’s house for wine and burrito bowls (except for Ben, who used a tortilla;)

Overall, it was a fun weekend spent with some of the best girls I know (and, not to mention, a few cute babies and glasses of wine too). Good stuff, if you ask me!

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.

 

 

Just start.

If I’m being honest, typically the last week in the month is a bit of a free for all when it comes to “good habits.” Meaning, I tend to put off working out… pour myself a second glass of wine… eat another slice of pizza… because there’s next month to start over!

I am the queen of fresh starts and clean slates. Usually- and I’m not exaggerating here – if I don’t start something on the first of the month, there is a good chance I’ll put it off for another 29 – 30 days.

I have a friend who did a 30 Day Yoga Challenge (which I’ve done a few of myself) and she just randomly started on like the 8th or something. When she told me this, my mind just couldn’t comprehend. I could never start something so abruptly. I need a “fitting” timeline (like starting on the first of the month!). Structure (4 week milestones neatly lumped together on my calendar for easy reference and note taking). An end goal (what’s a better “end” than the end of a month or year?!).

I remember actually asking her, “how can you just start something like that so randomly?”

This friend is a lot more laid back than I am. I’m sure she is often entertained (and exhausted) by my complex – sometimes complicated – way of thinking about things. She stared back at me. “What do you mean? You just start!”

You.just.start.

Say, wha?

I’m not 100% behind these words just yet but I am getting better at not letting the need for “fresh starts” take such superiority.

Even if it is against my nature. I really do like the idea of starting something new (or again, in most cases… eat better, drink less, move more…) at an appropriate time. My mind is run by timelines and To Do lists (don’t you want to be friends with me!?). At the beginning of each month I sit down with my planner and write down my fitness, writing, and personal goals. Surface level, I would say this is a good habit. It keeps me focused for the month but doesn’t result in boredom because I am constantly changing things up.

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The trouble begins when … life gets in the way. Which, of course, it is BOUND to do. For example, this week I had planned to do the classic cardio and strengthen training combination everyday.

And then I remembered I had a work dinner on Monday night.

And I was invited to a work event Tuesday afternoon/evening.

Two out of five of my workouts were already failures*. Typically, at this point, (PARTICULARLY because it is nearing the end of the month, the easiest time to let myself off the hook) I would have given up and resolved to start up again next week (or, next month).

But, I’m starting to recognize that consistency is best; not having a “perfect” month. So on Wednesday after work, I laced up my shoes, grabbed the trash (trying to save time and a trip down the stairs by taking  it out on my way for a run), and headed out the door.

And then I dropped my keys with the trash in the dumpster.

Luckily my neighbor was home and helped me fish them out but by the time we got them, Mike was home and we had to go pick up my car from getting some routine maintenance before the dealership closed.

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Dumpster diving

Three days in a row of life getting in the way of my perfectly planned workouts…

When we got home, I was getting hungry but I knew I had to do something. I headed outside again with the intention of running/walking 2 miles but by the time I was done with my 1st mile, I was ready to go in and start dinner. I figured 1 mile was better than nothing and decided to “make it up” on Thursday (today) and Friday. If I just did a 1/2 mile more each day, I would still come close to hitting my goal.

Today I set out for my 2.5 miles and was hit by an allergy attack after my first mile! I tried to continue but I was sneezing and snotting everywhere (not cute).

Another day of sub par exercise.

To summarize, my goal for this week was to workout everyday. I got out twice and only did 2 miles. But I’m going to go out again tomorrow (it’s the 1st of the month anyway!) and the next day and …well, then it’s Sunday and I’ll probably sleep in then but you get the point.

Just start. Just go. Just do it. (#Nike)

 

*I could have gotten up early and worked out in the morning but my success rate is pretty much 0 here so I didn’t even try.

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 rosés, 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

♡ Ashley