Category Archives: vacation

Whirlwind Life

Life has been a crazy, hectic, mess of wonderfulness lately. What’s been happening?

Last time I posted I was on the fence about starting Weight Watchers again. Well, I did. I lost 19.7 pounds in the first 3 weeks. Yeah…but while that’s awesome. I’m not getting too terribly excited because 1. it was much of what I’d gained back and 2. I know I can’t keep that amount of weight loss up for the long haul. So YAY for losing but keep the expectations lower on how much I’ll lose consistently. I’m also aware that it may fluctuate a lot over the next few weeks because I’m moving soon and it’s a little stressful.

I went on vacation with the fella and his family. We went to Orlando for 5 days and enjoyed pool time with sunshine and warm temps, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, a gangster inspired dinner theater, La Nouba (a Cirque Du Soleil show), laughter, and a lot of delicious vacation food. Fish and chips, amazing steak, fish. And….I was introduced to jaffa tarts.

From the Rose and Crown Pub in Epcot

From the Rose and Crown Pub in Epcot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seriously, these things are delicious. Orange flavored cake/cream covered in chocolate. I loved them so much that when I saw them on the menu at the Irish pub the next night, I had them again. Kinda ridiculous but I don’t care. They were amazing.

And now we’re back and in the thick of packing so we can move in 2 weeks. Well, less than 2 weeks. I’m slowly freaking out and then K is calming down the crazy until I freak out again. I have so much stuff. It’s major purge time. I’m getting rid of So. Much. Stuff. I’m definitely one of those people who gets anxious about moving/traveling and while I love it, I get really antsy and uncomfortable right before it happens and I just want it over. I don’t mind flying or the airport process per se, but the night before I fly, I’m just thinking, “Ok, I’d like to be on the other side of this now and skip the flying.” I’m not afraid of it, I just get anxious about the process I guess. I’m the same way with moving. But because moving is much larger than flying across country, I’m at the stage 2 weeks prior of just wanting to be moved in and beginning to unpack.

On top of all of these “big” events there’s a lot on the social calendar. K had a birthday this month, a close friend of our’s had a birthday this month that we’re eager to celebrate, we’ve had family events, and we’re expecting my family to come visit shortly after we move. Like I said, it’s been a crazy, hectic, mess of wonderfulness lately.

Tuesday Tidbits

Since I posted last week a lot has been happening so I’m doing a bulleted/picture update. First the pictures and then the bullets to explain and some extras (without pics).

PicMonkey Collage

  • I got beautiful roses from my special guy.
  • October night skies are one of the most gorgeous things nature can show us.
  • I burned a lot of calories for my last workout last week. I had training followed by Spin. It does a body good.
  • I made delicious healthy pizzas for 2. Flat out bread, pasta sauce, cheese, sliced chicken sausages. Bake. Eat ’em up!
  • Deciding to leave work early on Wednesday and start my vacation was the best idea ever. I treated myself to a mani/pedi. I do pedicures often but I never get manicures. I use my hands too much and I just don’t see the point in spending the money. But I had a special event for the weekend so I figured, why not? That’s OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark. It’s also still holding up really well!
  • Beautiful wedding for my dear friend! It rained “liquid sunshine” but it stopped just in time for the actual ceremony and it was perfect in every way.
  • My calves are finally not sore this morning after a night full of dancing on Friday. Shennanigans ensued the more the liquor flowed.
  • Having white wine and Doritos when one is intoxicated is rather delicious (and classy).
  • We found a great little lunch spot that was actually a dairy farm. We stopped there on Thursday and had ice cream. The very small was anything but. I had chocolate red velvet ice cream. I know!! On Saturday as we were leaving the area, we stopped back for lunch. I got a bowl of fresh fruit, cornbread, a sampling of cheeses, a bowl of soup (half cream of crab, half Maryland crab), and a “very small” ice cream that was half peanut butter and half cookies ‘n’ cream. All of that for less than $9. Steal!

And not pictured.

  • Amish country on Saturday with the fella was a perfect cap to the weekend. Beautiful scenery, delicious snacks, excitement over seeing Amish buggies and a 2-buggy garage. Seriously, the scenery driving up there was gorgeous but my camera just wasn’t doing it justice. We definitely have plans to go back to certain spots after getting such a great preview.
  • I signed up for a half marathon yesterday. It’s not until May so I have plenty of training time and I should be able to train in less harsh weather months. (I’m still processing my craziness.)

Cutting the Sugar

I had quite the birthday week last week! It was also a very special week for me and my fella so there was a lot of fun had and it was full of love!

birthday week

There was a baseball game, a surprise birthday dinner from my friends (organized by my fella), a winery visit, an overnight trip, a downtown DC afternoon, complete with cupcakes! You can see some of the other highlights via my camera phone above. I loved my week and I couldn’t think of a better way to enter my new year!

I noticed after the last week that my body just doesn’t respond well to sugar anymore. At least, super sweet sugar. I can’t eat chocolate the same way for sure. This isn’t a bad thing. I just have to cut back how much I eat and the type I eat I think. It’s good that I noticed it though because it means I’m starting to listen to my body. See, a couple of times last week I had sugar and then just felt ill. Kinda queasy but not really, you know? But after I ate real food, I felt better. After this happening a couple of times, I looked at my eating patterns and realized sugar was the common denominator. So this week I’m starting to cut back on the sugar, which after last week…needs to happen anyway!

Black Friday Shopping

For the first time ever, my family and I went Black Friday shopping in the very early morning hours. Since I’m in a small town in NC, we went to 3 stores but it was enough. We left the house at midnight after fueling up on coffee and some divine cookies. First it was Wal-Mart, which only took us 45 minutes. Then it was off to Kohl’s. Well, that wasn’t so awesome. I got what I wanted but I waited in a 2.5 hour line to check-out. It was a long line but it was also a line that wasn’t moving. It was ridiculous, really. But Belk’s wasn’t opening until 3am so we had time to kill. Then it was off to Belk’s where I was able to finally find a pair of black boots. They aren’t over the calf boots but they’re boots that I needed. I threw my black boots out at the beginning of the season because they’d seen better days. So now I have these:

Life Stride from Belk

I love them! Then it was home to bed for a few hours. After waking up starving, I was promptly fed pancakes and bacon (maybe I was starving because I smelled bacon?). Then I went back out to Lowe’s hardware and ended up coming home with a Christmas tree. My artificial tree is too fat for my new apartment and the one I found was super cheap but they only has the display left. Not a terrible thing since it fits better in my car that way and I can just take it straight from my car to my living room and set it up.

Overall, I got good deals this morning and I’m glad I went. I didn’t have anything else better to do at that time other than sleep, so why not nap away my day?

Did you go Black Friday shopping? What deals did you find?

Enjoy the beautiful things

Yesterday I drove to NC where I’ll be spending an entire week with my family! Words can’t express how excited I am about this. I also can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve spent an entire week with my family.

On my drive down I drive through the Smokey Mountains. It’s truly a beautiful drive. The last time I drove it on the way to see my brother, the leaves were changing and it was a gorgeous sunny day. The mountains looked beautiful. Yesterday it was cloudy but it was still beautiful.

You might even be able to tell why they have the name they do.

Take time to enjoy the beautiful things today.

Napa – Day 4

On the fourth day of the trip, we went to Napa for a day trip. I was a lucky gal and got to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge but boy was it foggy.

I am pretty stoked I can say I drove over the bridge. Interestingly, to go over to Marin Co. the bridge is free but it’s apparently $6 per axle to come back across. One of our guides told us that was because Marin Co had more money to spend. I don’t know if I’m glad it was foggy because it seemed so fitting or if it had been clearer. Of course, I’d probably be bitter if it was clearer because as the driver I couldn’t have taken in the scenery very much.

We bought tickets for the Wine Train.

The train takes you on a 3 hour ride up and back through the vineyards. Our tickets included a 3 course lunch and a glass of wine. For my meal I selected the broccoli soup (which was amazing) and dipped hot fresh sourdough bread into it. The main course was an amazing mozarella burger–it had 3 thick slices of mozzarella on top. For desert I opted for a small creme brulee. The meal was delicious but it was definitely heavy for a mid-day meal. I had a small cupcake later but didn’t eat anything else the rest of the day.

The wine train is a fantastic way to see the vineyards without having to drive and the bonus is that you can drink your way up and back. We were definitely among the youngest on the train though. But we just told ourselves we’re fortunate enough to be able to drink wine at lunch for 3 hours on a Monday before we’re also a member of AARP. Ha!

The trail

A highway wall in Napa

Little grapes on a little vine in the parking lot

After we were sufficiently full of wine and rich food we needed to walk off our fun. So we walked around downtown Napa and window shopped in the boutiques. Well, mostly window shopped. It was here that I got a great idea for holding my bangle bracelets–use an old wine bottle! Once I get my act together (and drink a bottle of wine) I’ll post a picture of it. I think it’s genius and it’s very fitting for me. I adored Napa. I’m already thinking about how I’d like to go back for more than a day. Who wants to go celebrate my 31st birthday in Napa? 😉

After wine, shopping, and a mini cupcake from Kara’s Cupcakes it was time to head to San Jose and officially end our vacation. 😦

I hope you enjoyed my recap of San Francisco and Napa. If you ever have a chance to go (and you haven’t been already) jump on that chance. Then come tell me all about it!

San Francisco – Day 3 (My Birthday)

Did you catch my second day in San Francisco? What about day 1 – part 1 and 2? Well, I hope you took in some of the sights because day 3 doesn’t have any. I mean, I saw them…you just won’t. Day 3 was my 30th birthday and I didn’t take my camera out. I woke up to a plethora of texts and voicemails from my east coast family and friends wishing me a happy day. Once we showered, we headed out to find brunch and mimosas. We went back to Caffe Delucchi and I had the most amazing crab cake eggs benedict and 2 mimosas that were made with fresh squeezed orange juice. Then we walked down to a cute little cafe where we bought coffee and received a free truffle. Mine was a red wine truffle and it was awesome. Afterwards we went back to Lombard Street and walked up the steep hill and then we finally went up the stairs to the top of the crooked street.

It wasn’t this sunny on Sunday morning

 Then we headed over to our new hotel and rested just long enough to figure out where we were going next. We went over to the Mission District. That required a loooong walk but it was kind of cool. We got tired so decided a light lunch and wine was necessary. We went to a cute little restaurant called Foreign Cinema that had outdoor seating that tucked away from the street. We ordered delicious small plates and 2 glasses of wine to sip and laugh over. Then we decided we were really tired and just wanted to go back to the hotel to rest. After a while we decided we wanted to nip over and buy a bottle of wine somewhere to enjoy later. So we headed back out to have dinner at The Chieftan, a Irish pub. It was delicious. We enjoyed food and drinks and then got that bottle of wine and headed back to the room to drink and laugh some more. So you could say that my birthday was filled with spirit(s).

I had a lovely birthday for day 3 in San Francisco.

Stay tuned for day 4 when I head to Napa!

 

San Francisco – Day 2

Day 2 in San Francisco was pretty fun although didn’t feel as busy as day 1. That morning my friend wasn’t feeling up to exploring and we knew we had my coworker coming out to meet us at the hotel around noonish. But I didn’t want to sit in the hotel. So after breakfast I went exploring. First I did some research and found out there was a little cafe near by that I figured would give me a latte. So I walked down to Little Italy and snagged an iced almond latte that hit the spot. Then I decided I’d wander through Chinatown. I’m so glad I did.

I had a great time wandering through the street taking in the sights and sounds. The stores were fun to dip in and out of, too. Some things they sell are silly and made me giggle while others are so beautiful I was struck.

As I wandered down the street I began hearing drums. Then I noticed a crowd. Look what I’d stumbled across:

There was a class of some sort that was running the Chinese dragons and drums through the street. I felt so fortunate I was able to see something like that. I can only imagine how exciting that is when it’s a bigger event.

As I wandered through Chinatown I got the call that my coworker was almost at the hotel. So I wandered back to the hotel so the three of us could meet up and head out again. We hopped on the bus and rode down to Pier 39. I was on a mission to find the sea lions. After finding ice cream, we found sea lions.

I was so happy I was able to see them. I’d heard they left but then found out some had returned. I could’ve stayed in this spot all day watching them. They were hilarious! I love how they lay on top of each other even though there is plenty of space for everyone. At one point they got all upset when a pelican came swimming through their territory. There were some big ol’ daddies and some babies. They were awesome. I loved this part of the day.

Afterwards we walked around and headed down to the Chestnut St. and Union St. shops. I liked this part of the day, too, because it was just cute boutique shopping. Then we continued on the tour until we were back at the hotel. We were freezing by that point and ran upstairs to warm up and freshen up. Then we headed out for my unofficial birthday dinner. We went back to Belden Place and went to Cafe Tiramisu. I had amazing sea bream with a zucchini/pasta side. Delicious! We also shared wine and bread. It was a perfect way to spend my last few hours in my 20s. Then it was back to the hotel for talking until falling asleep.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a Day 3 recap!

San Francisco – Day 1, Part 2

I hope you saw my recap of the first half of day 1 in San Francisco. If you did, you’ve just been hanging out at the Golden Gate Bridge waiting on me to pick you back up. We had done a lot of walking already that morning and we were ready to sit for a spell. So we hopped on the bus and let the crazy tour guide take us through Golden Gate Park and tell us the tales of how the park was built and show us the beautiful scenery. From there it was over to Haight-Ashbury where we were shown where Jimmy Hendrix lived for a while near Janice Joplin and Jerry Garcia.

One side

Other side where he forever rocks out

We also saw where Jimmy’s first recording studio.

It's the yellow one!

Don’t you love how brightly painted those houses are? There are gorgeous Victorian homes throughout San Francisco, some are well kept and some could use some TLC. But these stuck out to me because they were so bright and seemed to fit right in at the Haight. Interesting side story..the street signs where Haight and Ashbury cross are higher up than most of the street signs in San Francisco. This is because those signs are stolen more than any others in San Francisco so they’re trying to deter people.

Once we left the Haight we headed over to Alamo Square where the famous (as I call them) Full House houses are. It’s actually often called Postcard Row because the row of houses here is photographed so often because the homes are beautifully kept and there’s a perfect view of the city behind them.

EEK!

Yes, it was one of my favorite places to be. I think because we were fortunate enough to have beautiful weather by then and it took me straight back to my childhood tv watching days.

From there we took the tour back through the city and circled back to Little Italy. We walked down to Lombard Street so I could walk up this giant hill to see the crooked part of the street. I tried to take a picture of the hill but no picture did it justice.

Seriously, that hill was no joke. I had to stop and rest halfway up. But I noticed the city was gorgeous from my resting place so I could play it off. 🙂

What I came to see

I didn’t walk to the top since my friend was waiting on me but I couldn’t leave without taking another city picture from the top.

After I walked/ran back down the hill, we found a great little sidewalk cafe to have lunch/dinner. I had a giant “personal” pizza at Caffe Delucchi. Then had gelato (toasted coconut and peanut butter chip), which I earned walking that hill. Then back to the hotel to take it easy for the night. We went down to the hotel restaurant for appetizers and a drink but were too tired to do much else that night.

Stay tuned as I continue tomorrow with Day 2!

San Francisco – Day 1, Part 1

Late afternoon Thursday we arrived in San Francisco. Between adjusting to the timezone and it being later in the day, we decided to just eat dinner out and then go to bed early. But we went down to this cute little alley way called Belden Place that has eight different restaurants side by side. You can stroll down the alley and look at menus and then choose to eat indoors or out. We chose Trademark and it was delicious! I ordered a Hell or High Watermelon wheat beer and the fish and chips. I was not disappointed! The fish wasn’t heavily battered, which I hate.

Friday morning we got moving relatively early. We purchased a two-day pass for the Super Sightseeing Tour which allows you to hop on and off the bus at designated stops throughout the city. You can also sit on the bus for about a 2 hour tour. Luckily there was a stop right outside of our hotel, which was situated where the Financial District meets Chinatown. It was an ideal location for sure. So we hopped on the bus and rode down to the piers and Fishermans Wharf.

I can see the water!

We walked around Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf for a while. We also marveled at how eerie Alcatraz looks. Even on a clear morning (which it wasn’t) it looks ominous.

No escaping!

They say with the currents being so strong and the waters being so cold, no one can escape and live to tell the tale. That’s how it can be so close to the mainland. Creepy.

The views aren't bad in the other direction though!

Then we took a long walk and ended up in Ghiradelli Square and got a free piece of chocolate. It never tasted so good! Then it was off to see the Golden Gate Bridge!

View of the city from near the Golden Gate Bridge

I couldn’t get over how surreal it was to see the bridge. It stands out so much in contrast to the landscape surrounding it. I could’ve stayed there for a while soaking it all in. There are beautiful views from the area–fog or no fog. We watched the fog roll over the top of the bridge throughout our short visit there. About half of my pictures only show half of the bridge, while the other half show the entire bridge, even if it’s not crystal clear. I thought I wanted to walk the bridge but once I realized how windy it was, I knew I didn’t want to do it. I overheard someone saying it’s pretty scary out there in the middle. Plus, it was chilly! I did get to go across it eventually, but that’s for a later post.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Day 1, Part 2!