Wine Country Part II & Capo’s Pizza!

**I started this post on the evening of July 4th, just as an FYI for some temporal reference 😉 I’ve just chipped away at study breaks**

Hey everyone! We are officially in Austin! We arrived last night. It was a pretty smooth trip out, but an emotional and high stress morning today. I’ll discuss all that more when I actually do our travel posts. BUT we did have a productive afternoon, I made it to my study end point for the day, and then our evening of the 4th was a blast. Currently, I am sitting on the floor in my new “study spot” with my mood lights wrapped around our fan to give some sense of calm lighting- It may be a fire hazard at the expense of my own aesthetic comfort- gotta choose your battles, ya know? (I’ll take a picture now and put it in the post when I have Internet again). Our movers don’t come until the 9th, and we leave the 10th for the wedding- so it’ll be a bit before we are living normal again- it’s all guuud though.

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Peep the Ugg boots from 8th grade that I still wear as slippers around the apartment, totally a normal thing, ya?

I have Dynasty, a new show I’m trying out, playing in the background. I downloaded it from the Lobby’s WIFI since we don’t have any yet. I’m also eating Halo Top ice cream because I couldn’t find my normal Dreyer’s Double Chocolate Brownie favorite at the store, and this is probably my second favorite. It’s 11:37 pm, but my body is still on Pacific time, so it feels much earlier to me. I am so eager to discuss all things Austin and our last whirlwind of a 36 hours.. but for now I will try to catch up on everything else from the last month, hah!

In the last recap, I summed up the first part of our sister jaunt through Wine Country. The next winery we went to a winery called Mckenzie-Mueller! I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a touch excited about the shared name; some of those things that bring ya amusement as a kid never die. Ya know growing up when you’d be at a tourist shop and find your name on the little key chain? It’s that same thrill (even if they spelled it differently, close enough). Also, side note about Platypus tours: I think it’s so enjoyable that you don’t know which wineries you are going to until the day of- it adds an element of surprise- I didn’t even know that this winery existed!

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This was easily the most beautiful landscape of the day, although the overall feel was a bit more “stiff” than the others. It was so quiet, which was nice, but the host had an air of arrogance that created a somewhat impersonal, cold vibe.

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The tasting room was in a fun little nook- surrounded by the owner’s paintings and wine barrels.

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So meta, ya know?

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We headed out to the vineyards and had a lesson about basically every varietal.

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While it was fascinating, and the educational element of wine country is my favorite part, it felt a bit too long in light of the heat. They eventually let us loose to enjoy the grounds ourselves and find respite in some shade in between our galavanting! After getting a bottle for DJ of Sauvignon Blanc, my sister and I went to the vineyards for pics. **If you do visit Napa/Sonoma and want to purchase a bottle, they will often waive the tasting fee. This bottle ended up coming out to about $5- and since Hal and I shared a tasting it was only about $10/person. I highly recommend doing it this way if you do the tours with multiple stops!**

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We loaded up into our Tour Bus and headed to the last spot!

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And to conclude our tour, we went to Starmont.

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At this point in the day the heat was at a high… circa 105F. We decided to move inside after initially starting the tasting outside because the heat was nearly unbearable.

It was a nice winery– but felt more “commercialized” than the others- more of a tasting room than an actual winery I’d say.  I think it’s the type of place the locals like to come and hangout on a lazy Saturday. But I think if you want the full Napa experience, pass on this one and go to an actual vineyard.

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Time to head to the Ferry!

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When we got back into the bus to head to the Ferry, the driver had cheese and crackers for us- yummmy!! Can’t beat that.

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After exchanging Instagram handles with friends we made from the tour, we hopped off the bus and waited for the Ferry back from Vallejo to SF.  The Ferry never gets old! I just loveeee it.

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It was a nice and smooth ride with stunning views.

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And for Halston’s bday dinner… We went to Capo’s! It was only about a mile walk from the Ferry, so that was easy peasy. This recommendation came from Kate at LiveintheNautical. When she visited SF, and we met up for the first time, she highly recommended Capo’s to us. I had been eager to try it since, but it seemed we always had something else lined up every time we ventured into the city. One of Halston’s favorite foods is pizza, so I was hoping to give her one of the best pizza experiences of her life! (Also side note: This is the sister restaurant to Tony’s we had tried a few weeks prior).

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I immediately loved the entire feel from the brick walls to the red leather seats. I would describe it as casual, edgy, classic, yet somewhat romantic, all at the same time.

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We started with the Quattro Forni, a pizza cooked in four different ovens.  YES- FOUR. In 2012 this won the “Best of the Best” Pizza award in Las Vegas’s international Pizza Festival. This is cooked in a 500 gas brick oven, deep fried, then topped with all the yums. THEN, it then returns to a 500F brick oven, then a 650 brick oven, and lastly a 800 wood burning oven. I don’t even know if this would be classified as “pizza”—it had more of that feel of a cheesy bread because of the light airiness of the crust- but think the best GOSH DARN cheesy bread you’ve ever tasted in your life. I dream of that flavor (especially the crust). And they only make 10 per day! I made a note in our Yelp reservation that we would like to try one and called to confirm that day that it’d be available. I was determined we’d try one, haha. It was better than I could have ever imagined. Such a uniquely phenomenal creation.

Next up was the pizza-pizza- we had their “cracker thin” pizza- half Farmer’s Pie with mozzarella, provolone, goat cheese, white sharp cheddar, house honey Calabrese sausage, bacon, Guan’s assorted mushrooms, farm eggs, peppadews, arugula, oregano & romano (this half was mainly for DJ since we knew we’d be able to take him some home) and half Haight Ashbury (vegetarian) with mozzarella, provolone, feta, pesto, onions, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, broccolini, roasted red peppers, garlic, oregano, romano. We shared a slice of the Farmer’s to give it a review, but our heart was with the Haight Ashbury. The cracker thin crust was everything I could have dreamed of in a pizza crust- light, crunchy and balanced. The whole pie definitely satisfied our “pizza tooth”. Halston said it was some of the best she’s ever had too!

She was a trooper letting me pull out my obnoxious, incredibly non-subtle, food light to get these shots, lol.

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And that’s a wrap! My sister-in-law, Amy, graciously let us stay with her that evening since we were set to frolic in SF the next day! We had fun catching up and chatting with her all about her solo trip to New Zealand.

I’ll recap the next day’s happenin’s in a separate post.

Question for you:

  • Did you have a nice Fourth of July?

xo <3

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Sister Time & Wine Country Part I!

Hey hey, long time no seeee!! Oh man, you know what’s tough? Sometimes the times in life when you need to write and process the most are the times that are the most chaotic and don’t allow much free time to do just that! (Don’t count how many times I used “time” in that sentence, or this one). But I’ve gotta say, at this moment, I’m actually enjoying the chaos. It’s incredibly stressful for sure, tears have been shed, and there are times I don’t feel like I can handle it all- but things are going much smoother than I could have ever imagined, and I feel like we are almost in the clear! We also have a lot of the really huge stressors behind us, so now much of that anxiety is getting replaced with excitement and anticipation! Also, although each day is go-go-go from super early morning till nearly midnight, the adrenaline from everything is working wonders. We officially move out on Sunday.

Currently….My brain is fried, I cannot do another lick of studying, so I am treating myself to just this one night to do a blog post!

We left off the evening my sister arrived. On June 5th, my Sis and I woke up early to get to work! Halston had tons of “to-dos” on her list for the wedding & of course, I had a bottomless pit of reading and studying and assignments. We started the day with avocado smoothies– Hal talked about them for weeks leading up to the trip since she got hooked on them last time she was here. We had one every day of her visit this time around- and now I can’t have one without missing her!

I took a midday break to post some items on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. I’m never using Craigslist again with the success we’ve had through Marketplace. I’m so stoked about it- it’s just so easy.

In the evening we whipped up some stuffed sweet potatoes again. We made ours each a bit differently, mine with extra tzatziki and beets and Hal’s with extra green goddess dressing from TJs. These also included tofu, roasted peppers and onions, artichoke hearts and hummus all stuffed in Murasaki potatoes. We chatted out on the balcony & enjoyed the momentary quiet from the studying/wedding details.

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On June 6th we went to Peets during the day to get shtuff done, and then came back in the late afternoon and worked out on the main apartment community deck. Smalls was soaking up the sun… I would have hated to disturb him..so I figured I should just let him be 😉

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We made massive salads in the evening with all ingredients in the fridge- mmm mmmm! Halston is all aboard the massive salad train too.

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Side note: DJ had a home-stand during the week she was here (where he leaves basically at 730 am-ish and doesn’t get home till 11ish); that’s why he isn’t around in any adventures, sadly. We missed him!

Anyway, we took an after-dinner walk around Main Street before I hit the books again.

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Aaand it was the same ol’ on June 7th. We were very productive through the week, but basically it was just study/eat/workout/study/eat.

To shake things up for dinner, we decided to try TJ’s Cauliflower Gnocchi! We didn’t add much seasoning to it because I wanted to get a feel for the base to see what I could jazz it up with next time.

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They were super yummy. I think next time I’d like to add some type of nice parmesan on top! A red sauce would work well too. We ate them with tilapia and roasted veggies from Chef Hal herself. Halston and I eat essentially the same type of diet, so it was fun to tag- team dinners throughout the week.

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I started packing that evening after getting to a stopping point I had planned for the week. We made sure to try to get a good night sleep because we woke up around 4:45 am on Saturday June 8th to get a workout in. And finally- after a long week of studying and wading through wedding logistics we were ready for a day of fun & relaxation! We scarfed down our coffee and avocado smoothies and headed out to celebrate my sister’s birthday in….. NAPA!

We headed from Cupertino to the Ferry Building in SF where our wine tour car would be picking us up. I booked us through Platypus Wine Tours again since it was such a phenomenal experience the first time around with Kelsey (and it’s very reasonably priced).

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The tour bus was scheduled to pick us up in front of the Ferry Building at 8:45 am, and we had about twenty minutes to spare after grabbing our Ferry tickets for the trip back…so naturally we had to grab some pics!

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When it was time to load up the car, we found ourselves surrounded by about 8 other people from all over the world- Denmark, France, Canada… It was fun to get to know them all throughout the trip. That’s something I so love about San Francisco- you meet people from truly everywhere and anywhere with the most fascinating lives and stories.

First stop first: Auburn James.

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This was a unlike any other winery experience we’ve had before. The whole tasting room vibe was supposed to make you feel like you were entering a home, and it really did feel like we were all just hanging out in a living room.

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We were given our tasting and then showed around the vineyards.

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The vineyards were beautiful! But it was HOT HOT HOT. Our Platypus tour guide did say they were a little bit worried about wildfires that day. I think we could have all done without that little tidbit of knowledge.. eep!

6486d0ac-f7b3-4bfa-b416-ea35be5d910f1d6c75ed-5548-4dd3-8a3f-97408f06db4a I wouldn’t say this winery is a must, but it was a lovely experience nonetheless. I think it was the most educational out of the four!

Second Stop: Hagafen. This was our favorite of the day for several reasons…

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Oh, and another bonus, they had games! We attempted a round of cornhole, but the wind kept catching our bags, so we didn’t do too hot.. meaning it was probably comical for any bystanders watching, haha.

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Before we knew it, it was lunch time! yaa buddy. They had vegetarian dishes for Hal & I. Platypus called before hand to make sure they accommodated any dietary restrictions. So kind! We enjoyed every nibble of our veggie sandwiches accompanied by hummus, pears, and a lentil salad that was to die for.

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And dessert were these sweet little strawberries and cream muffin bites.

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I’ll recap the second part of wine country in a separate post! Happy birthday again, Sista!

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Questions for you:

  • What do you call cornhole? I know it has a variety of names depending where you’re from.
  • What time of day do you prefer to workout?

xo <3

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Halston’s Bridal Shower Festivities!

Hi, All! Happy Monday to you. I am actually putting the finishing touches on this on Sunday– I have a couple posts in my drafts that I wrote before starting school. This semester is going to be a true doozy…the free time is going to be basically nil with the move & traveling for the wedding on top of it all. Sooo, I may be somewhat MIA for a few months. Although, blogging is incredibly therapeutic for me, and it gives me something to look forward to… so hopefully I can prioritize it in some way even if it is not as frequent.

Also, I published my sister’s Graduation post, but WP didn’t release it on on the main Reader for some reason. In case your interested I have it linked here 🙂

After we arrived back in Cleveland, I picked up a rental car at the airport since I would be buzzing around like a bee all weekend separate from my Mom and Pete.

My first stop was my friend Rachel’s to pick up some supplies I had shipped in for the shower. I only very briefly got to see her since I had a long to-do list, but we had plans Sunday together to look forward to.

Next up was Staples (do you believe it? hehe). I ordered the bridal shower sign for pick-up in OH while I was sitting in CA, which was a bit odd, but it went off without a hitch. I walked in and was able to pick it right up!

Right after, I went about a half mile down the road to Aldi. A few of you know I was obsessed with Aldi when I lived in Indiana. I have missed it, and I can’t tell ya how stoked I was to return! I had to pick up all the groceries for the shower and this was the best and most affordable way to do it.

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I put my quarter in the slot (Thanks, Pete! He lent me a quarter because I realized I didn’t have one on me before we left the rental car lot) and was off to get my groceries. I got tons of fruit, veggies, chips, salsa, etc. etc. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t just casually grocery shopping for DJ and me. There was way more I could have bought if I was actually loading up on a regular food haul!

I spent the evening with one of my best friend’s, Clair, and her beautiful little family. She has the sweetest little boy, Jacob, and a newborn angel named Layla.

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I mean- can you handle his cuteness?! I already miss him oh so much. I spent probably half of my time there playing tag with him around the dining room table, haha.

I food prepped all evening while we gabbed away. I relish my time with her & I’m just so proud of her and the beautiful life she has built.

In the morning around 7:00 am we went to Planet Fitness. I had a great run & did a little weight workout. Perfect start to the day. The vibe at Planet Fitness is really great. If you are looking for a gym membership, their’s is super affordable & the whole experience genuinely makes you wanna go to the gym!

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While driving to my brother’s house to set up (My sister-in-law and bro graciously lended their home for the shower!), I got a gosh darn speeding ticket. My first ever. I was soo upset. I was going a teeeny bit fast, but I was A. in a rental car and B. going down hill on C. An open country road (where the speed limit was way lower than I thought) when I was clocked. Also, the officer was driving when they clocked me with the radar- I have never heard of that, but I guess they can do that? I thought they had to be stationary. Anyways, I know I deserved a ticket- I know there are truly no excuses- but it definitely set back my timeline and is an annoying expense. HUM-BUG.

Now putting that ticket out of mind, onto allll the good stuff 🙂 Once I finally arrived I had to get into set up mode fast. I unloaded my separate suitcase filled with decorations that I checked on my flight and got to work.

First up, the “Staples” sign! The download from Etsy was only $5, so I only had to pay for the printing and foam board.

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Then I set up decor around the home with my sweet niece and nephew helping me out. I wish I could have spent more time with them directly that weekend, but the little time I did get to see them was treasured <3

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And now, the fooooood!!!! First up, an anchor with the veggies…

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A palm tree with fruit….

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And since it was Cinco de Mayo, we had to add a little Mexican flair! My mom made her famous corn and avocado salad and we served them in little margarita cups I ordered from Oriental Trading company.

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I was going to make Taco pizza from scratch, but I was pretty exhausted Saturday and on top of everything else to prep, I figured an ordered pizza would probably turn out better anyways! I found a place a quarter mile away, called A Slice Above, that delivered a pizza called “South of the Border”— (perfect for the 5th!)–it included Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese with diced onions, green peppers, black olives, and seasoned ground beef, all covered with a zesty salsa sauce. They had a vegetarian option I opted for too. Since the shower started at 1 pm, I had them delivered at 12:30 and just hid the boxes 😉

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My mom also made some absolutely scrumptious crab nachos!!! A couple of her good friends came to help with food setup too- sooo appreciated!

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Oh, and you can’t forget sweets 🙂 The little blue and white sour circles reminded me of life rafts (and sour gummy candy is my sister’s favorite). I also included cookie sandwiches, raspberry cheesecake bites, Hersey kisses, and cake pops. I ordered the cake pops from Etsy- they were delivered to my SIL’s house a couple days before the shower & were in perfect shape. Everyone raved about how good they were too (they were red velvet- one of my sister’s favorite flavors). I tried to stick to her colors of nautical blue and I thought the gold dusted ones looked like sand.

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For drinks my mom made her famous margaritas in two different flavors & we also had Virgin margaritas, diet coke, coke, and water.

All the guests started arriving! We chit-chatted and caught up with people we hadn’t seen in years! After, we all ate lots of food & then sat around to open up gifts! Kate, our niece, was adamant that she wanted to help open the gifts with Hal. Too cute– although we did have to make sure she didn’t cut herself on any pizza cutters! We played bridal bingo and a true/false game about her and Kevin (her fiancé). The games went really well! I chose not to do the charades because we spent a good chunk of time mingling (just as I was hoping 🙂 ). We had one tie with the true/false game, so I was glad I packed an extra gift bag !

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Everyone watching Hal open her gifts!

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After the gift opening we made sure to grab some pics. Can’t believe my baby Sis is getting married. So happy for her. I could not think of anyone more perfect for her either! PS. I threw a color on for the shower. Are you proud? In the Bay area we only really wear neutrals, so going back to the Midwest I figured I’d spice it up a bit..

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And I just loveee this picture of my Aunt, Sister, and Grandma.

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Sistas sistas!! This is my sister Andrea on the far right. I’ve mentioned her several times on the blog before, but she lives in Colorado so I don’t see her often. I call her my therapist because she’s so wise & we always have the best of “life” chats. That day, she helped me a tremendous amount. I don’t think everything would have been ready on time without her.

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We also couldn’t help but snag a quick selfie with one of my little sis by proxy (and also a bridesmaid!), Marissa. She is moving to NorCal in June! I wish we were staying, but since Hal is visiting in June hopefully the three of us can hangout more then too 🙂

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My Dad’s side of the family <3 Well, females anyway 🙂

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After everyone left we said our goodbyes, and I took some leftover pizza, veggies, and fruit back to Clair’s. Rach joined us!!! She brought my all time favorite dessert from back in OH- Gasoline Alley’s Carrot Cake (I mentioned a couple posts ago!). It was as stinkin’ delicious as ever!

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It was also so good to have some girl time. We all have been friends since sixth grade & it’s so easy to pick back up where we left off always.

Oh, and of course I had to include a picture of sweet Layla. I keep joking I might steal her. But am I joking? Be stillll my heart.

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My flight on the 6th was at 6 pm, so I had some time in the morning to sleep in, relax and get ready to go! I did run along the beautiful country roads before kicking it into pack-up mode.

Clair lives right next to horses. I felt so at home, since we lived somewhere similar when I lived there. Going back there grounds me, reminds me of what’s important in life & to find joy in the little things.

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O-H-…..!

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Once returning from my run I nibbled on some yogurt, fruit, and granola… and had two hefty cups of coffee to fuel up for my travel day!

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After returning my rental car, I flew out of CLE Hopkins with allll my snacks for the evening in tow.

Here is a small fraction of what I nibbled on on my flights. The combo of the cranberry almond KIND bar and greek yogurt was oh so satisfyin’!

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Aaand with that I landed back in CA late in the evening (around 11:30 pm). DJ picked me up & I was just elated to see him! I started missing OH as soon as I stepped down, but was happy to be back. We talk all the time how we think we’ll end up back there someday. I would bet we do one more move after Austin and then end up settling in OH. Just a prediction, of course will be determined greatly by DJ’s job, but we shall seeee!

Questions for you:

  • Favorite travel snacks?
  • Can y’all believe it’s almost SUMMER- where is this year going? Any vacation plans coming up?

xo <3

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Halston’s Graduation!

I am so excited to share this post!! A couple weekends ago, my baby sister, Halston, graduated from University of Cincinnati & I was so thankful I was able to watch her walk across the stage!!

Starting from the beginning…

On May 2nd, I ran six-ish miles before heading to the airport at 10 am to fly into OH for her graduation and also her bridal shower. DJ had to work all weekend, unfortunately, so couldn’t come along. He was missed somethin’ fierce <3 Anyway- I packed all my food for the travel day so I wouldn’t have to pay the exorbitant prices at the terminal. Since realizing you can take real food through security, it has been such a game changer! I just use my insulated lunch box and load it up with all the noms. Occasionally I do get stopped through security with it, but they always give the green light once they know what it is.

My go-to for the travels is a sweet potato, black bean burger, hummus, Fage, and whatever veggies might go bad that I can roast up and then throw in.

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They also had a See’s Candy kiosk that you know I could not resist. I also didn’t know what flavor I’d be in the mood later, so I just decided to get one of each (totally justified buying these since I packed the rest of my food). 😉

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On the plane itself I got hungry again so ate a Fage yogurt with PB2 (my neighbors were so confused what powdery substance I was pouring in there, haha). It is super high in protein so helps keep me full for a couple hours. I also nibbled on some popcorn and protein bars as well as raw veggies I had packed later on in the trip.

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I had a layover in Chicago (got delayed by about an hour as we always do there), and then finally arrived in Cincy around 9:30 pm. My mom picked up me and Pete- who arrived exact same time I did since he was delayed too- (love when that works out) & we headed to the cutest little Airbnb. Even after the long day of travel, I felt so wired. No matter what, I can never sleep the first night I change time zones. I read my book most of the night while occasionally thinking just mayyyybe I could fall asleep, but then 20 mins later of trying to snooze I’d just started reading again. I think I finally fell asleep around 6:30 am and maybe got an hour or hour and half of sleep total. Hello, insomnia. When I was in India I don’t think I slept for three days straight- time change and jet lag just really messes me the heck up.

On the morning of May 3rd, my mom so kindly went out and got us all coffee (BLESS HER). And y’allll this joe from Deeper Roots Coffee (a non for profit coffee company), was one of the best cafe au laits I’ve ever had. You know that super smooth first sip that just hits your soul? Every sip of this was just like that 😍 After chugging that down I felt like I was ready to face the day!

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Here is me, the beautiful smarty pants, and my momma! We got a picture before the humidity attacked. (And man did it attack! Lol).

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Aaaand guess where we were able to go to breakfast before graduation?! First Watch!!! This was my favorite breakfast spot before moving to CA, and I stinkin’ miss it! I was stoked when Hal suggested we go. Also, we saw this sign driving in– best billboard ever!

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We deemed it our Mother’s Day brunch since we wouldn’t be able to celebrate on the day of. We have grown so flexible with holidays over the years and it’s become fun to celebrate on our own watch! When you don’t have expectations, you can’t become frustrated- so we never set expectations and learn to “be like Gumby” as my mom has always reminded us growing up. The idea is to go with the flow when you can’t control things or make them fit into a certain peg & you’ll avoid a lot of frustration. The best of memories sometimes come in spontaneity and the originality of an experience (such as celebrating holidays on “non” holiday days 😉 ).

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Coming out of my contemplative dialogue- I see First Watch has added dairy free creamer! That’s fun!

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The boys split a platter of their million dollar bacon. I couldn’t help but capture the beautifully plated strips.

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Although the menu has an abundance of new items I would like to try, my stomach was off from the lack of sleep and travel, so I stuck to my tri-ed and true Tri-athlete–It hit the spot! Next time I’m orderin’ their salmon tzatziki toast and lemon blueberry quinoa pancakes. For now, I’ll continue to live through Kori’s awesome pics of her visits. Although, they do have them in Austin which makes me oh so happy!

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The graduation was held at Fifth Third Arena. I have never been to a graduation this massive before! Ha, I say that like going to graduations is like going to the movies. I’ve only been to maybe three other graduations in my life.

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We had a hard time finding a place, but Kevin, her fiancé, scoped out the room and found us the best seats in the house.

There were soo many graduates! There is truly something about the energy at a graduation that is thick with emotion, pride and hope. It’s like an inspiring, nostalgic, and bittersweet electric current is rippling through the entire room.

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Ahhh here she comes!!! You can easily spot her with her colorful sash for Latinos en acción.

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Cue the tears- no seriously, I’m tearing up again writing this, hah.. I’m soooooo stinking proud of her.

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She elegantly walked across the stage and didn’t fall! Woohoo! Go Sis!

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After we walked around the campus for pics. I love her cap- it totally embodies what she is all about. Oh, and for those wondering she graduated with two majors (NBD!)- International Business and Finance-and a minor in Spanish. She also got a full ride for law school and aspires become an immigration lawyer. Yes, she is a bossss lady, and I am ecstatic to see the way she continues to change lives in the best way.

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^^ The gorgeous couple! Gosh, I love um’!

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^The fam bam.

After we went to celebrate at Halston’s Favorite restaurant- The Cheesecake Factory! Ya can never have a bad meal here. The rest of Kevin’s family joined us too!

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My mom and I split their beet and avocado salad with glazed beets, avocado, fresh orange, arugula, and honey yogurt sauce and their salmon. Both were so scrumptious- the beet & avocado in particular was just such a lovely conglomeration of flavors. I wanna try to make this at home sometime!

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They even brought Hal her cheesecake with a “Congrats” on it. So sweet! We all enjoyed bites of various cheesecakes before heading out.

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On our way out we spotted this Cincinnati Bearcat and of course had to get a pic with Hal next to it!

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The whole familyyy! (Minus Deej). My hair was flat-out done by this point- flat being the operative word, haha.

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We all went back to the AirBnb and sat around the fire while listening to fascinating stories from Kevin’s parents from living in Peru, discussed the upcoming wedding,  laughed a lot, and even learned Bachata (a type of dance) from Kevin’s mom. I gotta practice a bit more before the wedding !

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That evening I slept so much better than the one before. I fell asleep listening to the audiobook of Where The Crawdads Sing. I love it so far!

In the morning of May 4th I went for a nice run around the area of Hyde Park. It was one of those runs that I think will stay with me. So much joy and excitement surrounded this weekend, and that run cemented those adrenaline filled emotions into my memory. The area was captivating and picturesque too. I especially adored the way the morning dew drops clung to these purple blooms.

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I had to stop several times to take in the seemingly illustrious home fronts and historic schools.

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Once we all returned and got ready for the day we were ready for some coffee & breakfast. We walked across the street to The BonBonerie Cafe- the cutest little french cafe I ever did see! They have a garden entrance for their main cafe and also an adjacent bakery. We had to stop in both, naturally.

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There is a special little area for tea time too. I saw moms coming in with their daughters all dressed up. It was adorable.

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Of course I got a cafe au lait. It was perfect. The two cafe au laits I had that weekend were two of the most memorably delicious– Cincy knows how to do their coffee!

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Next stop: Bridal shower!

The Bridal Shower took place in Strongsville, OH (close to Cleveland), so we drove that afternoon from Cincy to CLE (about three and a half hours).

Question for you:

  • Favorite Cheesecake Factory cheesecake flavor? Mine is probably their Oreo Dream X’treme. I love their tiramisu & vanilla bean too (I am usually anti-vanilla anything, but their vanilla is so creamy and delicious!).

xo <3

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SF Staycation Part 2: Craftsman & Wolves, The Presidio, & Japanese Tea Garden!

Happy Sunday or Monday or Tuesday… or whatever-dayuvthaweek this post finds ya!!! Just want to take a second to say thanks for reading- still boggles my mind that ya would take a second out of your day to read about what’s happenin’ in ours. I just finished my first draft of one of my huge semester papers, so I’m finally going to finish up our weekend in SF! So let’s get to… shall we?! You can find part one here! Saturday February 16th, we woke up early (around 7 am) to beat the morning breakfast rush and traffic.

It was my Dad’s birthday, so I took some time talking about him with DJ and in our family group text… just remembering the amazing man he was. My brother said my nephew now recognizes him in pictures, which just melts my heart <3 His birthday is usually one of the hardest days of the year for me, missing him horribly…. but I knew that he would want us to just smile, laugh, and have tons of fun. So that’s exactly what we did- it ended up being a full wonderful day I’ll never forget!

To start with, I grabbed a cup of free bitter coffee from the lobby as we set out for the day. I couldn’t even take more than a few sips- it was awful, haha- and I’ll drink just about anything that resembles coffee. Luckily, I knew I’d have plenty of time for coffee to come- so I wasn’t too worried about it 🙂

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Here is a peek of the gorgeous Ferry Building on our walk over. There are so many parts of SF I love- but the Embarcadero might be my favorite!

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I always use the Transamerica Pyramid as a reference point in the city too. I love the architecture of it!

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Alright – time. to. grub! First place on the bucket listCraftsman and Wolves.

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This little cafe is filled with soo many goodies! DJ and I first tried the vanilla glazed donut with biscotti crumbs on top- OH my…. it was a perfect donut. They also have an apple cider one I would love to try at some point!

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This donut was so warm, yummy, doughy (but not undercooked), flaky & just hit the spot. And of course, I unashamedly dipped every bite into my latte. Mmmmm!

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Now for the grand finale- the Rebel Within!! This egg centered muffin specifically was what we came here to try & it did not disappoint. I will say it actually surpassed my eggspectations. Also, whatever salt they served it with was ridiculously goood & the touch of pickled carrots were a lovely accompaniment.

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We scurried out after finishing up our first course to try out breakfast treat numero dos.. at this point it was probably about 9:45 am, the rush usually starts at 10/10:15, so we were doing good on time!

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I usually don’t venture somewhere twice simply because there is an overwhelming amount of goodies to try in SF. But I couldn’t pass up introducing DJ to B. Patisserie– the best bakery in SF without question. You may remember it from when Amy and I went on her bday!

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Mainly, I wanted to make sure he tried their famous Kouign-Amann.

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DJ raved about how great it was after the first bite… even without my standard prompt of, “Soooo what do you think”?!

Also, they have little mini Kouign Amann keychains you can buy that I was just smitten with. I didn’t get one, but maybe next time!

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Anddd on to the next place! As we walked back to the car I had to capture the bright pastel home fronts & lovingly decorated doorsteps.

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Another place we’ve wanted to check out is Lovers’ Lane in The Presidio. First off, I did not realize how massive “The Presidio” (former U.S. Army military fort) was! It is home to the Walt Disney Family Museum as well as many other commercial buildings. I thought “The Presidio” was only a little tiny hiking area… I didn’t realize it was basically a small city of its own.

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Anywho, after some serious issues finding where exactly Lovers’ Lane was, we finally found it! It’s not a hoax after all!

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We hiked the stunning tree lined pavement portion for a while…we couldn’t believe how quiet it was. It was hard to believe this was actually located in The City. There were very few people on the trail as well.

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We hiked around a while and couldn’t seem to find the exact location of the iconic swerving logs and tree path.

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I showed DJ those pictures linked up top from Google Images, and he suggested we off trail a little to locate it, so that is what we did…..

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And we found it!!! Check check off that list! It was such a unique little spot & such a nice breath of fresh air from the craziness of the actual city. If I lived in SF I’d have to come here often.

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Next up.. Golden Gate Park!!! I was shocked how huge it is. To give you an idea, it is 20% larger than NYC’s Central Park!

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We found some free street parking, then immediately searched out some restrooms (that’s always the struggle when visiting The City)… I will force myself to limit my fluids through the day just so I don’t have to go to the bathroom, haha. We then set off to hunt down Strawberry Hill. We were accompanied by stunning lake views & blooms along the way.

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We eventually spotted the storybook adjacent bridge that crossed the river to Strawberry Hill.

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We hiked to the top and soaked up the spectacular views that surrounded us. We couldn’t believe this true sanctuary existed in the middle of the city?! Too cool.

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My adventure partner <3

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After hiking down the hill, we walked past the Golden Gate Pavilion. This pavilion was a gift from Taiwan and houses beautiful plants and birds, such as the Blue Heron.

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Next Stop: The Japanese Tea Garden! We surpassed visiting the tea garden in Portland and San Diego, so we agreed we probably should at least visit it here.

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WOW. This place is stunning. It was raining while we were there, but the rain added such an element of serene beauty.

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Also, we saw this oddly vertical bridge we just had to climb over.

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Not sure why this picture distorted the back of DJ’s neck… Professor Quirrell???

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Ahhhhh <3 It’s the type of place that just forces you to take a big deep breath & relax for a moment.

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And that about wraps up our first half of the day. I’ll cover the second half of the day in a separate post!

Questions for you:

  • Have you ever been to a tea garden?
  • Any big plans for March?

xo <3

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SF Staycation Part 1: Lands End, Sutro’s, & Harbor Court Hotel in SF!

Hey, everyone! I just finished up watching The Oscars- all I can say is, I have a lot of movies to watch! I mainly watch to see the fashion and “people watch”, and this year did not disappoint! I think my favorite was Marina De Tavira’s gorgeous gown. Anywho- On February 15th, DJ and I ventured into SF for a staycation, as I mentioned at the end of the last post. We had about $80 with Orbitz bucks to put toward our hotel and giftcards, so we decided to make it a weekend of knocking stuff off the ol’ bucket list. I planned our whole Friday night around going to Sutro’s at the Cliffhouse. This is supposed to be one of the most spectacular restaurants in SF. It is built upon an actual cliff overlooking the Bay. I planned our dinner right at sunset to watch it out the window, but it was supposed to rain all evening. I tried to talk myself off a cliff after seeing the promise of rain from the weather app, “It’s not like we’ve never seen a sunset before! The food is still supposed to be insanely good. It’s like the REAL experience of the bay if it’s cloudy! Actually, I’m glad there won’t be a sunset!”. DJ couldn’t help but laugh at my immediate externally processed effort to make myself feel better about the plans not going exactly as I envisioned, haha.

Even though it was cloudy it was still boldly beautiful. The serene views of the Bay never cease to amaze me.

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As soon as we parked the sun started peaking through!

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The clouds parted letting in bright blue skies and sun rays that covered all of Lands End. The views were simply breathtaking. Luckily, we had some time to walk around the entrance before going to the restaurant itself.

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This is easily one of my all time favorite spots in SF. You may remember last year when I was in a pretty bad place I came down here on my own and just soaked up some nature and fresh air to get in a better head space. Below is the remaining ruins from the Sutro Baths. It all burned down in a fire in 1966. The history is pretty fascinating- if you are interested you can read about it more here. (yes, I’m citing wiki although I’m in a research course-hehe ).

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Turns out we were gonna get some kinda sunset after all!

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We popped into the Visitor Center and briefly peaked at the different kitschy souvenirs and flipped through 100 Places You Must Visit in SF books to kill the last few minutes until our reservation.

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Below is a picture of the original Cliffhouse, where we would be having dinner that evening.

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Here we go!!

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Sutro’s is located downstairs. On the top floor is a Bistro restaurant with a bit more casual feel. On the way down the stairs there is a picture of the original Sutro Baths on display.

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We checked in with our Open Table reservation and were seated within a few minutes.

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This might be the most stunning restaurant I have ever been in. WOW. The pictures do not do justice.

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If you peak closely in the picture below you can see us in the reflection of the mirror.

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We started with some lovely wine & some fluffy, warm, sourdough bread to start. The butter was my favorite part- it was served with volcanic salt.

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We then split some oysters. They were delicious— suhh fresh! I joked that they probably just went out to the bay to grab them per order… then realized that was a hard- core cringy dad joke…. why am I this way…

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For my main dish I had their truffled ricotta ravioli with roasted shiitake, cauliflower, parsley shallot soffrito & parmesan-vegetable essence emulsion. This was just wonderful. It was almost too salty for my liking, but still very yummy.

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DJ ordered the star of the show! Pictured below is the sautéed scallops & wild shrimp scampi with Israeli saffron couscous, pine nut, and parsley jus. WOWZA. THIS is the dish to get!! I’m thankful he generously shared a few bites with me 🙂

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And while we didn’t have a traditional sunset, this was still one of my favorites <3 This was a dinner we will never forget!

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We passed on dessert at the restaurant because we wanted to enjoy some dessert in the hotel after our food settled & while watching Ozark. We wanted to get Zanze’s Cheesecake, but we were a half an hour past their closing. We found a place in Little Italy that had great reviews- Stella Pastry.

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It was tons of fun walking through Little Italy at night- we haven’t explored that area much, and it had such a fun buzz of energy in the air. I’d love to go back sometime & try some of the restaurants there in the evening!

Stella was very much a hole-in-the-wall… our kinda place! It was quite unassuming from the outside, but the meaningful decor and kindness of the employees immediately made it a true gem.

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We ordered their patented-recipe-famous Sacripantina, Black and white cake, and Tiramisu to take back. (Pictures later in the post).

We then went to sign into the Harbor Court hotel located on the Embarcadero. We were able to get the night for less than $100. That is really a steal for downtown SF.

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This boutiquey hotel was awesome- definitely surpassed my expectations! I loved the decor & special touches.

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They even had a little coffee shop in the lobby, and served free coffee in the morning. Ya know I took full advantage of that.

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Some other notable points if you are looking to stay here- they don’t have a gym, but there is a YMCA next door that you have access to & every night they have a wine hour from 5-6 pm in this gorgeous little homey community room! There also is a full snack bar in the lobby for purchase too.

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The only downside was it took us over 45 minutes to find parking. It was $60(!!!) to valet, so we were determined to find something cheaper. DJ ended up dropping me off to check in while he continued to look, and finally he found something about 0.5 miles away using the Parking Panda app. I managed to grab the photos above in the meantime.

The room was so cute!! Online people complained about the sizes of the rooms, sure they were somewhat small, but I loved the cozy feel. Also, it was super quiet, I’ll take that over our upstairs neighbors clanking around any day (oh yeah, they never moved out- that’s a whole other story- haha). Needless to say, it was a much welcomed respite.

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I also couldn’t help but laugh that Ozumo was the option for room service. You might remember this is one of my all time favorite restaurants in San Jose from here or here. I rave about this restaurant to anyone who will listen. Best sushi of my life- hands down. MMmm! We didn’t order anything, but I was comforted to know it was there, lol.

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I also loved the bathroom!

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They even had a little makeup towel- what an adorable idea, right?!

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Time to pop open the pastries!

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We nibbled on each of them while watching Ozark.

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Our thoughts — they were fine. The sacripantina (their most popular item) was DJ’s favorite. It almost had a creamy vanilla flavor. I would have thought this would be my favorite, but it was too “cakey” and crumbly for my liking. I actually preferred the tiramisu! I enjoyed the strong coffee flavor and moussey-ness of it, but probably wouldn’t order it again.

We slept so well and woke up excited to have a full day ahead of us in The City. In the morning of February 16th we woke up around 7:00 am to get ready for the day. We were out of the hotel by 8 am and hit the town! To be continued…

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Question for you:

  • Do you ever do Staycations?

xo <3

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San Diego Part 3: Barbusa, Carlsbad Marathon, & Crack Shack!

Happy Monday, y’all! This last couple weeks has been jam-stinkin’-packed, especially with school, so I’m getting posts out a lot slower than usual (I feel like a broken record, saying this). I finished up a huge project last night so now I have at least a couple hours today to maybe get one or two posts written!

After spending the day in Balboa Park, we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. They had complimentary wine and tapas in the lobby so we grabbed some tostadas & an apertif before our reservation.

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We then went to Little Italy to carb load before the big race! We said this would our dinner to celebrate my birthday as well as Pete’s whose was on the 23rd 🙂

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After much research, we decided to try Barbusa,  a Busalacchi family restaurant. The Busalacchi family are renowned for owning a medley of authentic, delicious Italian restaurants in the San Diego area.

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This was a unique spin on an Italian restaurant. It was more contemporary with distinctive decor, but still had a “warmth” about it.

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There was a tribute to famous Italians on the wall- can you identify any of them?

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My one and only complaint was the volume- it was noisy! It was almost uncomfortable how loud it was- we didn’t mind, but it doesn’t encompass that old school “romantic” ambiance of most Italian restaurants.

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Our waiter was just awesome! He was helpful navigating the menu, especially the wines and had a thick Italian accent. You know you’re getting the real deal when the waiter is 100% Italian!

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The bread!!!! This was delicious.

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For an appetizer we tried tempura squash blossoms. These were very enjoyable- pretty & tasty!

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My mom and I split their caesar. This was the best caesar dressing I’ve ever had! I compared it to my mom’s she uses for the grilled romaine she makes at home. No anchovy type flavor, just smooth deliciousness. I think it had a hint of balsamic with it that was just wonderful.

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My mom and I split two dishes (I love when we go out to eat together because we have identical tastes- so we just split a couple dishes usually). The first dish we tried was the Garganelli funghi with black truffle oil, oyster mushrooms, and whipped panna. Phenomenal. It reminded me a lot of the dish I had in Disney at Il Mulino!

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Just when I didn’t think I could have anything more yummy, we tried the Gnocchi e Zucca with roasted butternut squash, sage, and cream. Oh goodness gracious this was melt-in-your-mouth-savor-every-single-nibble deliciousness. You could tell the gnocchi was truly homemade. I usually have the philosophy that it’s best to try new things whenever given the chance, but if we come back to SD I may need to stop in for this dish again. Gosh, I can’t even put it into words!

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DJ tried the Carbonara con Piselli. This had fettuccini, sweet peas, caramelized onions, pork pancetta, and egg yolk. I tried some without the meat and it was so creamy and savory!

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And last up, Pete enjoyed the Bolognese al Forno with baked anelletti, beef and sausage ragu, english peas, and tres formaggi.

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And of course, we had room for dessert! We tried their deconstructed cannoli. Oh. WOWZA. It was scrumptious. Whatever they use to make their creamy cannoli filling was just creamy gold. The cannoli itself was cooked to perfection!

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Picture time!

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These two are just so much fun! After dinner, we went back to the hotel, opened up some bday gifts, and then called it a wrap!

After a night of tossing and turning from eagerness to run the race, it was finally 4:30 am and time to get up, lol. I can’t tell y’all how excited I was to run- I watched that darn clock all night. Also, not being able to run much was driving me nuts during the tapering!

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It was chilly, but a perfect temp for a race. We set off and the first seven or so miles were accompanied by a spectacular sunrise.

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I seriously don’t know what overcame me, but I was feeling guuuud. I think it was all the pasta and pent up energy. Eat pasta, run fasta!!! Anywho- y’all are probably so sick hearing about this from my other social media spots, but I qualified for Boston.. and seriously have NO clue how. All I can say is Jesus really is in the business of miracles, cause this is one! I was with the 3:30 pacer group for most of the race and then just gave it all I had at the end. I will say when I realized I was on pace to qualify I started visualizing crossing the finish at that time (3:30). I believe 100% in the power of visualization, and whenever I started losing steam I imagined crossing that line with 3:30 reading across the time board.

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Go, Djers, go!!

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Post race pics!

img_8773This was DJ’s first marathon!!! If he didn’t want to run this race I wouldn’t have signed up to begin with. I’m already reflecting so fondly on our training season, and to say I’m proud of him feels like an understatement. He’s an athlete, but not a runner specifically.. so this was a HUGE accomplishment for him. He didn’t run at all before, never even a half or anything, and one day just said, “I’m gonna run a marathon”. He did awesome!

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Our attempt at a selfie, haha.

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After the race we headed to Crack Shack for lunch! We were both definitely sore, but my stomach was more upset than anything. Still … we were ready to chow down!

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The line was insanely long and was taking a while. We were a bit nervous because my mom and Pete had an afternoon flight, but once we ordered the food came lickety split.

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We finally put our orders in and then grabbed a picnic table in their cute little sitting area. On our way over I saw all these delicious sauces they have to choose from! We basically tried one of each naturally.

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Their milkshakes bring all the marathoners to the yard! I didn’t know if my stomach could handle a full one, but I definitely had a few generous sips of each. Pete tried the strawberry shortcake and DJ had the Cookie Monster. I have to say, they were both insanely good- but I think I liked the strawberry shortcake better. The real pieces of cookie in the Cookie Monster were mighty tasty though. It’s a close call!

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I was craving something fresh and cold. Veggies sounded perfect. My mom and I both ordered a Downward Dog. This consisted of local veggies, quinoa, hummus, sunflower seeds, and lemon yogurt vinaigrette. This satisfied that craving entirely! Mmm I can nearly taste it.

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The guys ordered the Senor Croque that had chicken, bacon, egg, cheese, maple butter, and brioche.

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We all split the fries with the different sauces- and lemme say- they top notch !!! I would seriously go back just for those. Mm!

We decided to go straight to the airport after dropping my mom and Pete off since we weren’t really feeling like frolicking around the city. I know, I know- me turning down an opportunity to frolic in a city?!? My stomach just was not having it. We got to the airport too early apparently to check in (I didn’t know that was a thing), so we had to wait in the little pre-security area. I grabbed a coconut water and read on my Kindle app while DJ caught up on all ESPN world happenin’s.

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Once we got through security and found our gate we vegged out for a while. We realized we were kinda hungry again around 8:00 pm, so we decided to stop into Prado at the airport. The big Prado is a pretty famous restaurant in Balboa park! We haven’t had the chance to try it yet, so why not preview it here?! And y’all thought I was done being a tourist- nevvverrr.

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We split their fish tacos cause I had a bunch of snacks on me, and we were only an hour flight from home if we wanted more food. They were tasty!! The portion of blackened fish was a bit small, but whatevs, airport food- ya know?

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Oh my gosh.. did I do it?.. did I actually finally finish our San Diego trip recap?!! Pause for dramatic effect…

I’m gonna try to crank out a catch up post at some point this week, but I’m kinda in that season where I feel like I’m saying “yes” a lot, and my planner is very full on top of school work. It’s all great stuff- but just busy busy. More on that to come! Goodness, I’m so excited to catch y’all up on what’s going on.

Questions for you:

  • If you run races, what is your favorite race you have ever done?
  • Valentine’s Day- yay or nay?!

xo <3

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San Diego Part 2: Yummy Eats, Marathon Expo & Balboa Park!

Hey, everyone!! School + other responsibilities are really vying for my attention right now, so it’s gonna probably take a while to catch up on these posts & your posts! Hang tight though- I’m hoping to get a huge chunk done by Thursday or so to take a couple hours to catch up 🙂

In Part One we left off with the four of us- my mom (Momma Jill), step-dad (Pete), DJ and I heading into Gaslamp for the evening. I instantly recognized the Ghirardelli store with its neon lights beaming down the road… the last time we were here I had to stop in and grab some chocolate squares to satisfy my sweet tooth! It’s crazy how long year ago feels, yet also crazy how quickly it flew by.

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Time for some authentic Mexican cuisine! This was the one type of food we had to get while we were here.  San Diego is famous for it! Last time we went to La Puerta, probably the most popular spot in Gaslamp. It was pretty good & a unique spot- but I wouldn’t necessarily say worth the wait. We decided to try the place next door that had great reviews- Las Hadas. I’ll say right off the bat- I think it was way better than La Puerta. There was no wait, the food was just tremendous, and the service was impeccable. A+++.

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We started with some fresh guac and chips to start.

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DJ ordered the Surf and Turf Burrito with skirt steak, shrimp, cilantro rice, pico de gallo, avocado salsa, jack & cheddar cheese. It was topped with a cajun salsa and jalapeño crema! I’m sitting on the couch next to DJ and asked him to describe it in one word- he said, “Really good” … that’s two words, but we’ll give it to him. 😉

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My mom and I split the vegetarian fajitas with roasted corn, black beans, bell peppers, onions, cilantro and fresh seasonal vegetables. These were just terrific! I was a little skeptical since they didn’t have red/yellow/orange pepper mix (my personal fave for fajitas), but the combo worked beautifully. We raved about them basically with every bite.

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& last but not least, Pete enjoyed the steak fajitas!

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After a wonderfully satisfying meal, we went to the Art Gallery of my favorite artist- Tim Cantor. His art isn’t for everyone- it’s certainly unique, but it resonates with me. I was excited to show my mom and Pete! They were troopers, appreciating the fact that I appreciated it, hehe. My mom is such a social butterfly and struck up a conversation with the woman who was working there. It turns out she is Tim Cantor’s wife, and offered to show me the original of my favorite painting Thieves of May in the back of the studio. I had chills. I got emotional when she showed it to me. Magic happens when you take Momma Jill places, hehe.

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On the way out, my mom surprised me with his collector’s book, Affinité, as a birthday gift! I was insanely excited- this immediately became one of my most treasured possessions.

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San Diego also has great options for rooftop bars and views. We weren’t quite ready to turn in for the night, so we decided to go to Altitude Sky Lounge , home of the best panoramic views of the city last time. (We discovered this last time we were here)

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The part DJ loves the most is you can overlook Petco Park.

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What a memorable evening! <3

On the morning of Saturday January 16th, we swung open the blinds to see this expansively gorgeous view of the city!

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After getting ready for the day, we met up with my mom and Pete in the lobby.

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Here is a cute pic of their little coffee bar setup!

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They even had Mexican Hot Chocolate available- too cute.

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We filled our water bottles up with watermelon water & hit the road!

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First things first: Food. Am I right orrrr am I right? We found a cute little spot close to where the marathon Expo was located in Carlsbad called Beach Plum Kitchen. We did call ahead for Yelp, but still managed to try a bit of coffee cake on our way in 😉

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That stuff was guuuud.

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Such a stinkin’ adorable brunchy spot.

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My mom and I both tried their honey lavender latte. Holy cannoli guacamole ravioli- this was SO good. I had to restrain myself from chugging the deliciousness down all at once.

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My mom and I split two dishes: The avocado toast and smoked salmon!

img_8696My mom did say that my homemade avocado toast was better- I’d have to agree but that’s because I make it with Oren’s pita bread- can’t top that stuff! 😉

The smoked salmon bagel hit the spot though! So yummy. This is easily one of my all time favorite brunch dishes. If you haven’t tried lox, you gottta. I’ll never forget the first time I had it a few years ago! Life changin’ .

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Pete and DJ both tried a skillet hash & gobbled um’ all up!

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Expo time!! This expo was a lot smaller than others I have been to- especially the Flying Pigs one in Cincinnati- that one was massive. Even the Big Sur one seemed much larger with more vendors too. Either way it was still fun to frolic around (yes, frolic).

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Got our bibs!!!

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Funny seeing you here, Mr. Friar! This is the San Diego Padres’s mascot.

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We didn’t stay too long, just made one round through the vendors. I mainly like getting all the free protein bar samples haha. The coolest thing I discovered was Ultima. This stuff is like a gatorade alternative, but much cleaner. I had it throughout the race & it really did feel hydrating. Gatorade always makes my mouth feel dry and sticky.  DJ had the idea to take the coast back to San Diego. My gosh the views were beautiful. We briefly passed Torrey Pines too- a famous golf spot.

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Next up: Balboa Park!

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We strolled around enjoying the bright, sunny afternoon.

First up is the Organ and Pavilion- this is the largest outdoor Organ in the world, prettty cool.

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Next up is the picturesque view of the Japanese Friendship garden.

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Last time we did the museums but were pretty underwhelmed by them. This time we just decided to enjoy their exteriors, haha.

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Afternoon ice cream time!!! Really- is there anything better than soft serve?

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We found this spot kind of on the outskirts of the park near the zoo that was like a little art village. I don’t know how we missed this last time, but it was too fun!

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My mom and Pete have a travel wall in their home. She found the most beautiful little painting from the park to add to it.

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After the park we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I can’t wait to share with you where we went!

Questions for you:

  • Favorite Super Bowl commercial? Ours was the Bud Light & Game of Thrones one! Also did anyone else find the half time show kinda awkward?! They are all so talented but I wasn’t vibin’ the Travis Scott/Adam Levine combo.
  • Since I am sooo behind on reading posts please tell me something going on in your life right now 🙂

xo <3

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San Diego Part 1! Cafe 21, Coronado, & CVS

Hey all!! I am so excited to finallllly share our time in San Diego with you 🙂 It’s my favorite city in the US- I just LOVE it. The school load has been pretty intense this week, so I am just now getting out this recap. If you are curious to see our previous San Diego adventures I will link them here: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.  January 17th right before we left I received this beautiful delivery of flowers for my bday! It was so special, and they are stilll in full beautiful bloom today 🙂

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We booked a late evening flight out (around 9:30). The flights to SD are generally pretty cheap & short since it’s within the same state- and this time the best deal was through Alaskan airlines. We love when the cheapest price is through Alaska- it’s one of our favorite airlines (and it’s the best terminal in SF’s airport!). We arrived to the airport obnoxiously early per usual, so Deej and I decided to have a little popcorn shrimp snack & wine and chit-chat about our week since we had been in our own little work/school worlds since Sunday.

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While waiting our gate I was able to catch up on some blogs, my favorite way to pass the time!

We had a bit of a delay getting to the airport & then getting off the tarmac, but the short flight was great- this plane was massive and even had the free movies to choose from. I watched Game Night, but the flight was soo short that it cut off before the movie was over. It was SUCH a good movie, and I’ve got to finish those last ten minutes one of these days haha. Finally around 1 am, we arrived at our Hotel- The Kimpton Palomar. We got a great deal on a room with our Orbitz bucks!

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Our check in concierge was extremely chipper for it being so late, lol. I loved her energy though! She informed us that there was coffee in the lobby in the morning, but if we wanted we could have a Keurig brought to the room. I jumped on the Keurig option, naturally. I love having a warm cup of coffee to accompany me in getting ready in the morning.

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The hotel has a Mexican restaurant right downstairs too called Curardero. We never ventured to it- but it seemed like a fun option!

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The rooms were simple, pretty & clean!

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Okay, it seems silly to take a picture of the soap- but that hand soap was some of the most wonderfully scented doggone soap… the sandalwood particularly came through!

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I took a nice 2 am shower (I always feel the need to shower after being on a plane) & then snooooozeeed.

In the morning after a big cup of steamin’ jo (or two), we walked down the road to Cafe twenty-fun, I mean…. Cafe twenty-yum.. okay okay it’s really called Cafe 21. 😉

I heard about this gem from Kate at LiveintheNautical when she visited SD. Alsoo, when I went to their website I saw you get a free entree if it is your birthday month, so trying it out was a no brainer!

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cah-uuuute.

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The decor! The menu! The food! The ambiance! Even the way they serve the water is too cool. Let’s call it what it is: A millennial/hipster/blogger’s paradise. My mom and Pete texted us that they’d landed, and met us right on time to get some good eats! My mom hasn’t missed a marathon yet, and she was not about to ruin her streak. I say she’s my good luck charm 🙂  You may remember the last Big Sur Marathon (that was such a great weekend!). I was excited Pete was able to join- also it was his bday month too- so we got two free entrees with our meal, what a steal!

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We had to try their Bloody Mary’s which people rave about over YELP. We ordered three off the menu, and decided we would just decide who wanted what once we tried them. We first tried one that had a whole real prawn in it. (it was a bit too cocktail saucey tasting for my liking). But this was Pete’s favorite of the three so he claimed it!

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Next up we tried the “California Greenin'”. Now THIS was my cup of tea. Those grilled cheeses were insanely good too. I could have ate a plate of those alone as my breakfast- mmmmm! Not your traditional bloody, but pretty darn refreshing! It reminded me of those Naked juices, I think the one called the Green Machine?

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My mom opted for the “Ol’ Yello’ Mary with fresh yellow heirloom tomato, horseradish pickled veggies, & the yummy grilled cheese. This was a very close second (in my opinion) to the California Greenin’. It was pretty tasty! I will say though- if you are craving a traditional bloody, this is probably not your place. These are pretty nuanced in flavor & doesn’t give that great hearty tomatoey kick. Kate said that Breakfast Republic had the best bloodies of the ones she tried, and I would totally take her word for it! We tried Breakfast Republic last time we were there, and it was a fantastic breakfast (I need to try a bloody next time though!).

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Food time! Deej had their wonderful pancakes with maple syrup, raspberry and kiwi purees, fresh fruit and seasonal house-made compotes. The mix of jams and the syrup was beyond satiable (I had a bite of course 😉 ). All our meals basically end up as family style- lol.

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Pete ordered this GORGEOUS bananas foster. I mean… can you take it?! MMmmmm!

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