Lyra’s First Trip to Disney!

I know some people might think we are crazy to take a 16-month old to Disney and that she’ll never remember it yada yada yada, but I personally think we’re crazy not to travel with her now when she’s so easy (relatively) to travel with and not to mention FREE. I don’t know if we will go anywhere once we have to pay for her airfare and admission tickets, ha!

Chris and I had so much fun spending New Year’s Eve at Disneyland. As I said before, it really is the happiest place on Earth!

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Surf, Jam, Live in a Van: Our Trip to Laguna Beach

We road tripped it to Laguna Beach this past weekend. It was a loooong ride. It took about NINE hours with all our stops. It’s not easy entertaining a baby that dislikes being in the car seat. Mental note: never do this again.

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We stayed at the Laguna Beach House which I highly recommend! The location can’t be beat – right next to Heisler State Park and just a short walk to the downtown. The staff was very friendly too! They had a pack n play set up in our room before we arrived.

This vacation was definitely very different than our past vacations. We were up at 6am each day (thanks Lyra!) and settled in the for night at 7pm. Though we were still able to do a lot. It was HILARIOUS watching Lyra touch sand for the first time. She absolutely HATED it. We’ve never seen her grip us more tightly than she did when we were trying to place her feet down in the sand. That girl’s grip is iron!

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Chris put her feet in the ocean which she also hated haha. Poor baby. I think she must have felt like we were torturing her.

Laguna Beach was very baby friendly. We saw babies everywhere! We can’t wait to come back with Lyra when she’s older. And able to be in car…

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"Mini-Honeymooning" in Mendocino

Rain, rain, and more rain! I am the LAST person to ever want it to rain but California is in a drought so I can let it slide. And everyone is so happy about the rain. Who am I to be the party pooper? 

Thankfully it wasn’t raining last weekend when Chris and I went North to Mendocino for our “mini-honeymoon.” Our plan was to have no plans, to just relax and basically do nothing. It was the perfect getaway. 
Big River Beach
Mendocino is a sleepy coastal town about three hours North of SF. Its a super tiny town at a little over 7 square miles total and a population of roughly 900. Tiny, right? I mean that’s how many people probably live in half a square meter in NYC. Regardless, Chris and I were both excited to go since we had never really driven along the Northern coast before. I heard a lot of great things about Mendocino and it seems to be a popular place to go right after you get married! 
We stayed downtown at the MacCallum House Inn, which was very cozy despite being a Victorian mansion. It had the best hotel breakfast I’ve ever had! The eggs were cooked perfectly and they served it with homemade sourdough bread – swoon. We didn’t get around to having dinner here, but I can imagine it is also excellent. 
Since the town is so small, Chris and I pretty much walked the whole downtown all before lunchtime. There are a lot of cute shops, from a store that just sells jams to one that just sells socks, and even an organic grocery store housed in an old church! It’s a very quaint place and I mean that as a compliment. We ended up going to the bookshop three times during our trip, and to this one particular cafe twice because we liked them so much. 
The Good Life Cafe and Bakery – must come here!
Honestly we didn’t mind that there wasn’t much to do because most of our time in Mendocino was spent reading, taking pictures, and drawing. I bought my sketchpad with me and it was awesome just to draw and be creative. (If any of these drawings turn out to be remotely good, I might post some.) 
We even rented a DVD to watch (how novel!). We saw East of Eden, a James Dean flick loosely based on John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name, that was filmed in Mendocino, even though the movie took place in Monterey, CA. Chris and I both fell asleep halfway through…
Two days in Mendocino was exactly what we needed after getting back from NY. I’m even glad we visited in the off-season since it was quieter and much more peaceful. It’s nice to know Mendocino is not too far if we ever need to take a moment to pause again! 
Mendocino Headlands: watching the sunset
Now back to the rain…

Presidio Bay Area Ridge Trail

I think I’ve been teetering on the verge of being sick for at least a week now. Its pretty miserable. I have a cough that only comes at night right before I go to bed and I sound like Patty and Selma from The Simpsons. And last weekend when my friend Fauna was in town, I completely lost my voice and could barely squeak out any audible words. That was a fun time.

The silent hike – at the top of Mt. Tam.

At least this weekend I sound less like a chain smoker and more like Rachael Ray after a night of drinking. It’s a huge improvement plus I discovered how easy it is to make homemade ginger tea! Literally just ginger and hot water. It’s so soothing and feels great for my sore throat.

Chris and I went hiking again this past Saturday. This time we stayed in SF and headed out to the Presidio. We really should get out there more often seeing as how its in the city and super convenient to get to. We hiked along the Bay Area Ridge Trail which is about 2.8 miles out and back – very easy hike.

I loved all the trees we saw. It was very pretty and gave a mystical feel to the hike! If there ever was a place to hide something…perhaps a dead body, er I mean some object, this would be the place. Not that we are planning on that anytime soon/ever, but you know how these thoughts cross your mind.

Lovely dense forests, perfect for hiding or burying things.

And the trail led to the Golden Gate Bridge, which I still like to “ooh” and “aah” at like I’m a tourist. There is something about this bridge that I love to admire.

All in all, the hike was easy peasy and great for a relaxing weekend hike. Its definitely on our list of places to take out of town guests 🙂

Jacobsen Orchards: Touring French Laundry’s "Secret Garden"

Ack! It’s October.

So clearly summer ended a couple weeks ago and I hate to admit this but we did not cross off everything on our summer bucket list. Sadly we only got around to doing one thing on our list. It seems we were extremely ambitious! (Or incredibly lazy.) Oh well, there’s always next year.

Earlier in September, Chris took me to the coolest garden ever. So cool in fact, that I am dedicating a post about it. Jacobsen Orchards is a 1.3 acre plot tucked away in downtown Yountville. The gardens boasts over 120 fruit trees, including 10 varieties of figs and peaches, unusual vegetables, and hundreds of herbs and culinary flowers. Used exclusively by the Thomas Keller Restaurant group, of which \ the notable French Laundry belongs to, I’d say visiting the gardens are the next best thing to dining at one of Keller’s restaurants!

Our tour guide, Kate, was super awesome and knowledgeable about the farm and orchard. Originally the plot was purchased by Peter and Gwenny Jacobsen as a vacation getaway from San Francisco back in the 1970s. Overtime, they created an organic garden that grew into the lovely oasis it is today. The small family-owned farm and orchard began selling its produce to local restaurants. Now, chefs can come to the orchard and “shop,” and pick what they want for their restaurant on any given day.

Sign out sheet for picked produce – done on the honor system.

Kate took us through the many rows of fruits and vegetables, explaining the neat intricacies of each plant as we passed it. For instance, peach tree leaves are used to provide an amaretto flavor to desserts at French Laundry. We were able to taste the different things we saw such as Korean mint, chocolate mint, and Scarlett runner beans.

Our tour guide gathering things for us to sample.

My new favorite fruit:

White strawberries! So incredibly sweet.

Adult candy: 

Sun gold tomatoes

Did you know that pears ripen from the inside out? Kate told us this and that when getting pears, we should keep them in 30 degree F temp for 2-6 weeks after picked.

We also learned that when figs are ready to be picked, they will feel heavy, have a dark hue and be soft to touch. We picked a couple figs from each tree and did a comparative fig tasting at the end of the tour. It was fig heaven.

Candy strip figs

8 different types of figs!

My favorite figs were the Ischia, Honey, and Violette de Bordeaux. I never knew so many varieties existed.

There is also a snail farm on the grounds, or snail mansion as Kate joked. The snails raised here are used for escargot dishes. At a minimum, they would need 48 hours notice to be able to hand pick the snails and prepare them for eating. They have to be weened off their grub diet before cooking Kate explained and are moved from snail mansion into “snail condo” – aka a smaller box.

If you are visiting Napa/Sonoma/Yountville but don’t want to go wine tasting and drink (it happens) I would definitely recommend booking a garden tour. It will be a truly memorable experience!

Joshua Tree National Park: Cooking in the Desert (Road Trip – Part 3)

Man, I like heat, but being cooked in direct sunlight is definitely not something I like. On the last leg of our road trip, Chris and I headed to the desert.

We made a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park (with U2 blasting on the stereo). Joshua trees are pretty interesting looking. They kind of have a Seussical-Tim-Burtonesque feel. And let me tell you, they do not provide much shade.

After enjoying the beaches in San Diego we drove out to Palm Springs. Palm Springs is a peculiar city. As we were driving through the (brown) mountains we could see patches of green in the valley where the city is located. Its weird to think of this ritzy and fancy place in the middle of the blazing desert. We stayed at the best Airbnb ever in the Movie Colony neighborhood. It is named so because in the 1930s, many Hollywood stars built their vacation home in Palm Springs. There’s even a 26-foot statue of Marilyn Monroe since she loved the city so much!

View of Palm Springs

What’s there to do in Palm Springs? Relax for one thing! It was awesome lounging by the pool and catching up on reading. We ordered takeout for dinner and watched the sunset by the pool too. Its a kind of life I could get used to. On the second day, we headed to Joshua Tree National Park. Its a weird place to be honest, and that just might be because of the eccentric nature of Joshua trees.

While there, we hiked Ryan Mountain which is a 3-mile trail – 1.5 miles up and 1.5 miles down. Normally I feel like 3 miles would be an easy-peasy hike for me. But I underestimated what hiking is like in 102 degrees F weather. It was so hot I seriously thought my face was melting off. It was the only time I wished there was a concession stand at the peak with AC-seating and lemonade slushies (screw nature).

Though I’m really happy we went. The views are truly unique and gorgeous.

Plus we learned its a great place for rock climbers. Apparently you can take lessons there. So who knows, maybe will even come back!

San Diego: Staying Classy (Road Trip – Part 2)

San Diego.

The first thing that comes to mind is Anchorman and a whale’s…never mind. Speaking of which, Will Ferrel was filming Anchorman 2 at Sea World while we were down there.

Ocean Beach

I love the vibe of San Diego. It felt very relaxed and chill. The people were really nice and it was the perfect beach weather. I always liked going to the beach in the summer. It stinks that summer in SF means corduroy pants and light turtlenecks. Oh how I miss going to the beach!

After leaving LA, we headed to San Diego via San Clemente. It was nice to break up the drive with a night with our friends, Candice and Vince. In San Diego, we stayed in Pacific Beach, two blocks away from the ocean. It was great. I walked around barefoot from the apartment to the beach and wasn’t worried about stepping in poop like I am in SF (true story). In the morning while Chris was surfing, I went for a run on the beach.

Pacific Beach

PB was fun but we spent most of our time walking around La Jolla. La Jolla is a cute neighborhood that has lots of shopping stores and restaurants. If you’re looking for a good breakfast spot I would recommend The Cottage. The food is delicious and the portions are generous.

Also equally good is Whisknladle, a gastropub that makes mostly everything from scratch right down to their condiments and simple syrups. Chris and I had an awesome dinner there. In between eating, we walked along the coastline in La Jolla which has some spectacular views. 

There were some guys skimming (or skimboarding) which I’ve never heard of before but it’s basically just gliding on the water’s surface. You would wait until a big wave recedes and then surf it from the beach.

We walked down to La Jolla Cove to see the seals. Seals are smelly by the way. They look cute but they do not smell cute.

Downtown San Diego is nice too. We didn’t get to much besides the Gaslamp Quarter. I really wanted to check out more of the downtown areas like Little Italy and Old Town but we had so little time. Also on the list for our next trip is Coronado!

Hopefully we’ll stay longer next time we visit. Until then, stay classy San Diego 🙂