Sunday, December 2, 2012

California Adventure-Big Sur

Last weekend, R, Moz and I went down to Big Sur for our annual (mostly) backpacking trip.  It is a beautiful hike through the redwood forests of Ventana Wilderness.  Our very first Thanksgiving in SF, R took me to Big Sur for my first ever backpacking trip.  Needless to say it was quite an adventure, with no cooking stove (read: cheese and crackers for 3 days), 1 sleeping bag and a backpack without a hip belt.  R and I are both surprised that I ever went again.  But I fell in love with Big Sur and the beautiful coast drive down Highway 1.

This year, we left on Thanksgiving and enjoyed our T-Day meal in Monterey at Louie Linguini's, eating steak and crab.  Afterwards, we headed out and spent Thursday night at a campsite near the trailhead in order to get an early start the next morning.

The weather was absolutely beautiful all weekend, and once we were up in the morning, we were off on our 10 mile hike in.  At the end of the 10 miles is a hot springs with a collection of pools.  There were a lot of people with the same idea for the weekend, so we ended up in a campsite next to the river.    From that point, it was just to set up our camp and hang out for the rest of the weekend.  

I spent the weekend reading, napping and journaling....and keeping warm in the hot springs! 

R, Moz and I: pre-hike with all our gear

Ocean view from the trail

Moz and I enjoying tea in the morning at our campsite

1 of the pools-kind of blurry due to all the steam

Me building my small, small fire.  Everything was so wet, that this was the most we could conjure up.  I had my smores though!

Trail through the redwoods.

Moz was such a trooper and did all 20 miles!

View of the trailhead from the mountain.  Letting us know we have about 45 minutes left!

Sunset on our drive back to the city

Thursday, November 29, 2012

o christmas tree

 It's that time of year again...where has 2012 gone?!  Last night, R and I decided to go get our tree.  I wanted to wait until at least December 1st (makes it feel more official to me).  However, its forecasted to rain all this week and the weekend, so we took advantage of the clear night.

Decorating the tree is one of my absolute favorite things about preparing for this season.  I put on Christmas music, drink eggnog and go about meticulously placing all of our ornaments.  Since moving out to California, I have also made sure to have a live tree every year!  I love picking out the perfect tree for us and the smell of pine filling our house!

I also have a small obsession with ornaments!  I have been collecting them since college, and each year take so much joy picking out the perfect ornament.  It has saved me from buying all the ornaments at one time, and I love seeing a tree full of ornaments that I hand-picked or were gifted to me.  A tree full of love!

I have not picked out my ornament this year, but decided to put together a collection of ones that I have found online that I'm currently loving right now.  I know there is a very apparent theme, and my tree is very much proof of that!  But, how perfect is the hummingbird!  In case you are looking for some inspiration for your decorating, or want to add some unique pieces this year, here are some real fun ones!  A lobster that is bound to be a great conversation piece, a small tribute to London and the Olympics or some beautiful glass balls all would make great additions to the season!

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


A few weeks ago, R and I had a weekend getaway in Tahoe.  On our way home, we decided to head over to Apple Hill area to a u-pick apple farm.  It really was a beautiful fall afternoon; warm and sunny (the perfect opportunity to fulfill one of my goals).  I  have actually never been a big apple fan.  I guess maybe it was too many Red Delicious growing up, but I have never acquired much of a liking to them.  However, I was very curious about apple picking.  R and I have been to a couple other fruit picking farms, and I loved the idea picking apples in the fall.  California is amazingly diverse in produce, and I love any opportunity to learn more about different agriculture.

We stopped at Bolster Hilltop Ranch, but there were many to choose from just an hour west of Tahoe.  The woman at the counter pointed us in the direction of the orchards and handed us 3 plastic bags and a long stick with basket on the end (proper tool name-not sure?).  All I know is it was twice the height of me!  For the most part though, the apples we chose were hanging on lower branches and on shorter trees.  One of the amazing things about these apple farms is also the variety of the kinds of apples.  We came home with 23 pounds of golden delicious, braeburn, fuji and arkansas blacks.

Me with the apple picker and a couple of apples that I managed to get down without dropping.
The loot.

What to do with 23 pounds of apples is another story...  We stored them in the coolest place in our apartment for a week or so, until we had the time to make applesauce.  This is something that R has been looking forward to for a long time.  However, it required us to get a kitchen aid mixer (well, that was on the list to get eventually anyways) and a food grinder.

We followed a recipe in this book, which is an excellent source for all things preserving!  After all the chopping, it was actually relatively simple.  Just cook apples until soft, put through the food grinder (which was really a lot of fun), add a tad bit of sugar...and applesauce is made.  Finally, R canned it to keep for later use.

I also was able to make 2 dozen cinnamon-apple muffins and a pitcher of fresh apple juice.  I may have found a new appreciation for apples.

Using our brand new kitchen aid mixer!  so exciting!

The results of the picked apples!
Top-apple-cinnamon applesauce, middle-R using our juicer for fresh apple juice and bottom-2 dozen muffins

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Photo: mine--Big Sur, CA
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  R, Moz and I are about to leave for our nearly-annual Thanksgiving backpacking trip in Big Sur.  This year, so many amazing things have happened and I have a lot to be thankful for!

I am most thankful this year for the amazing people in my life.  For my wonderful family back in Kansas (new and old)  and to incredible friends who have welcomed R & I into their lives!  I am truly blessed to have them as my support group.  Although, R & I are not eating turkey, or mashed potatoes, or having a meal at all resembling Thanksgiving food (we had Jamba Juice and McDonalds...), we are thinking of everyone during this day and the impact you have had on our lives.

Have an amazing Thanksgiving weekend!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween

via Pinterest
Happy Halloween!  Though, its not quite the same as when I was younger, Halloween still brings back great memories!  My mom used to decorate for every holiday, so our house was always festive with orange and black decorations, pumpkins and sweet treats.  Now I would prefer a good carmel apple and non-scary Halloween movie, to getting dressed up and trick-or-treating.  Tonight though, R and I will be spending the evening having dinner with friends and not in costume

In the Halloween spirit, I was also reminded of a poem that I had memorized when I was in elementary school (and read aloud to the class...scary!).  I grew up loving reading, and had a good family friend to really encourage it, along with memorization.  I only remembered bits and pieces of it, but I was overjoyed to find it on google and reread it!

So a little Halloween poetry, along with our costumes from this weekend.

ITTLE Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;
An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
Ef you

Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers,--
An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at all!
An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an' press,
An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'-wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout:--
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you

An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;
An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what she's about!
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you

An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,--
You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you
-James Whitcomb Riley, "Little Orphant Annie" 

R as Smacks Frog and me as Toucan Sam

Moz as the Kellogs Corn Flakes Rooster.  Him wearing this costume lasted only long enough to take this picture.

California Adventure-pumpkin patch

After a tough week, I was very excited to have the weekend finally arrive.  We had spent the weekend before traveling to Kansas and visiting family and friends.  It was an amazing weekend, but like most trips, was happy to be home (though I admit I was already missing everyone before I left KC).

So this past weekend, R and I decided to take it very easy.  We had a Halloween party on Saturday night, but spent most of the weekend enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.  Oh, and watching the Giants make their way to win the World Series!

On Sunday, we ventured down south to Half Moon Bay to enjoy the sunshine on the coast.  It was the perfect day for flannel, boots, shorts and pumpkins!  I love pumpkin patches, and choosing fun shapes, colors and sizes to decorate the apartment.  We chose one, to fulfill my fall goal of carving a pumpkin.

So Monday evening, R and I enjoyed carving our "hipster" pumpkin, drinking hot cider and watching a movie.

Moz and I with our pumpkin loot

Carved pumpkin and display in the apartment

Half Moon Bay-enjoyed some salt water taffy for the drive home

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lady-Like Love

Today I opened up my inbox to 2 amazing e-mails from Piperlime and BHLDN.   Both of course drew me in instantly with their incredible "lady-like" looks.  With fall fashion, I am usually much more drawn to cozy knits, fun tights, riding boots and warm scarves.  However, today, I felt completely enamored by the incredible feminine dresses that were featured.  So I decided to pull together a bit of a wish list of all my girly loves!!

It would not be complete without polka dots, lace and sparkle!

I recently bought a lace dress from a local vintage shop here in SF.  I adore it, but I love the look of color-block mixed with lace.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
The dress is under BHLDN's "bridesmaids" section, but I can't resist the idea of wearing this to some holiday parties (or toning it down with some black tights and cardigan for work)!  I will also be dreaming about the Kate Spade "book clutch" as a perfect match between bookworms and fashion.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Monday, October 8, 2012

California Adventure-Exploring Nevada

This weekend was R's birthday, so we decided to take a mini-roadtrip to Reno, Nevada.  With an additional million people in the city this weekend, too, it was a good time to take off.  The purpose of the trip was not to actually spend time in Reno--but to journey east onto the Blackrock Desert Playa to a remote hot springs.  Trego Hot Springs is located 2 1/2 hours outside of Reno and near where Burning Man is hosted every year.  Its small and relatively shallow, but the water comes out of the ground at 190 degrees, so a little ways from the source is the perfect temperature.      

Afterwards, we drove onto the playa in search of another springs, with the general instructions to head North towards black rock...needless to say, we did not find it.  However, it was very fascinating to drive along a dry lake bed at 65 miles an hour with nothing to follow except for some tire tracks.  Along with Burning Man, this is also where they host all of the world's fastest land races.  R knew that I would be completely fascinated by this random fact!

Trego Hot Spring-Nevada

Black Rock Desert Playa
 On Sunday, we headed back west to Lake Tahoe.  I hadn't been there all summer (or winter for that matter), so it was an incredible to day to spend hiking and wandering about.  I even went October!!  Tahoe was nearly deserted, so it was great to have some amazing "secret" beaches all to ourselves!

My hiking shoes

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

fall times

The first day of fall was a couple weeks ago, so I realize I am a little late on this!  I have been enjoying a few pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks so it feels more like the season.  I decided that this year, I wanted R and I to have a few "goals" to help us make the most of this amazing time of year!  I had been seeing fall "to-do" lists on a few blogs, so figured I would make one of my own.

1. Carve a pumpkin from a pumpkin patch
2. Visit an apple orchard and make apple cider
3. Cook our way through "Fall" section of this cookbook
4. Read Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House on the Prairie" series
5. Go oyster shucking at Point Reyes
6. Find the perfect fall scarf

I love going to pumpkin patches during this time of year, but I am putting it as a goal to actually carve one of my pumpkins that I get!  As for "Little House on the Prairie", I received the whole series as a kid, but never actually read through all of them.  Its been on my "to-do" list for a while and I am excited to experience them as an adult!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Wedding Week-Dessert and Dancing

No wedding would be complete without some amazing dessert and dancing.  One of the few things that I truly, truly got excited about in the wedding planning was cake tasting!  I absolutely love cake, and I may be one of the few who really, really loves wedding cake.  However, getting married at a placed named "Pie Ranch", you really ought to have pie.  But then again, I am a fan of nearly all desserts, so we set out to create a dessert table, an opportunity for our loved ones to try a variety of delicious desserts.  That turned into a simple, delicious 2-layer cake from SF bakery, Susie Cakes, 4 flavors of pies from Mission Pie (strawberry rhubarb, apple rhubarb, apricot raspberry and apricot frangipane), macaroons and homemade mints!  And since we love desserts so much, that we sent all of our guests home with homemade strawberry rhubarb "pie-in-a-jar".

I also have to give a shout out to our amazing friends who set up the barn and reception and transported the pies and pie-in-a-jars from the city to the farm.  All of it looked ahh-mazing!!  We couldn't have done it without all of you!

Wedding gift made by our dear friend, Becky!

My favorite wedding purchase was our cake topper made for us exclusively by CreativeButterflyXOX, via Etsy.  And another nod to our Kansas heritage and R's love of Superman! 

A favorite photo of my grandfather!

The dance part of the night was hands down my favorite part.  When planning the wedding, I knew that I wanted it to be a great party with all of our friends!  Party it was!  We had an amazing time dancing to some awesome 90's music like "Whoomp There it Is" and Ace of Base, current pop music and wedding classics like the "Electric Slide"!  So another shout out to our awesome DJ, Scott from Music Now.

R and I's started it off dancing to Jack Johnson's "Constellations".  R introduced me to Johnson's music shortly after we met in Tanzania, and it was the potential of going to one of his concerts out here in SF that got him to initially make the journey west.  Of course, that concert was sold out, but 5 years later I finally made good on that promise.

For the father/daughter dance, I had a really difficult time making a decision.  I wanted it to be somewhat light-hearted and not as sentimental.  I finally found Johnny Cash's version of "You Are My Sunshine" which turned out to be quite perfect.  For R and his mom, it was the beautiful "Its a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong.

Spending the final moments dancing the night away in my cowboy boots (yes, I did change into boots!) and eating pie was the perfect end to our special day!

I can't resist putting up a special picture of my adorable nephew on his 2nd trip to SF!

 Awesome, awesome photos via Nirav Photography.

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