Our Engagement Weekend in Wine Country (Saturday)

(If you missed Our Engagement Story or Our Engagement Weekend (Friday) check those posts out first)

On Saturday we continued our unofficial Food and Wine Tour of Sonoma County. Priorities of food and booze…hmmm. This is how we roll when we travel, what can I say?
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Since we knew we were going to be drinking wine for most of the day we made sure that we planned some serious fueling. :) We did an early + light breakfast at the Sunflower Caffe on the square, and while I was dying to try the lamb burger that we had seen them make when the restaurant was featured on Diner, Drive Ins and Dives (CHEEZY TOURIST ALERT! I AM NOT ASHAMED!) something about lamb burgers in the morning just wasn’t screaming my name. I opted for a giant cup of coffee, some pastry, and okay already — you busted me, some sangria.

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The whole time we were eating I just keep thinking — THIS IS MY FIANCE. FIAAAAAAAAAAAAANCEEEEEEEEEEEE. That is a weird word. But I was still happy to be saying it.
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Let’s call him my Beyonce instead, okay? Okay

Afterward we headed down the street to Train Town where I’m quite sure we were the only adults without children. It’s a place we both frequented growing up so we like to stop there occasionally when we are in town. It’s nostalgic and they have a short train ride that takes you on an “over the river and through the woods” route to a petting zoo. You guys, I feel like this is starting to make me sound like a total weirdo, but it’s really cute and we always get a kick out of going there.
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I promise we’re not here to steal your children. We’re just reliving our own childhood!

We hopped on a train, went over bridges and through tunnels and listened to kids screaming with glee.And then obviously I took a selfie with a goat when we got to the petting zoo, as you would. The llamas were not interested in being internet famous, so I guess we’ll have to try again with them next time.
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We bought a few souvenirs in the gift shop
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and then it was almost time for lunch! (More eating? But of course!)

We had lunch at the Sonoma Mission Inn and they may make the best fish tacos ever. I need a good fish taco recipe because when I make them at home they are always lackluster. Do you have one? Then you must share, please!

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So breakfast and fish tacos definitely had us prepared to wine taste and so we headed over to Napa and hit up a few wineries before heading over to our only actual tasting “appointment” of the day at Robert Mondavi. The grounds there are spectacular and my crappy iPhone photos just can’t do it justice, but I was just overwhelmed with how big and beautiful it is.
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We tried to take a few pictures and it didn’t matter from what angle, there was no way you can tell what a sprawl it is.
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We had an appointment in their Reserve Tasting Room that one of Garrett’s coworkers had hooked us up with and they gave us some crazy generous pours and pointed us out to the patio to enjoy our experience. What a lovely afternoon that was, I tell ya. That is the way to taste!
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Yep, there’s my Beyonce again. Isn’t he cute when he’s all relaxed without a care in the world?

We bought a few bottles (a special one to have on the anniversary of our engagement – heck, maybe with our Potatoes Colcannon haha – and then one to have on our first wedding anniversary.) What can I say, we are some sentimental saps.

We had a bit of time to kill before dinner and we just happened to be very close to the area where Garrett ran his leg of The Relay the year before. We decided to dork out in the parking lot where we had waited as a team and recreate one of the pictures from this post as a joke.

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I don’t know — it was funny to us at the time. It was probably the wine. :)

For dinner that night we decided to try a recommendation from our friend Megan and hit up Bounty Hunter Wine Bar + Smokin’ BBQ. The food was delightful and so were the wine + spirit pairings. We started off with the charcuterie tray and then split a BBQ Platter that was INSANE.
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If you are in Napa and happen to be with someone who would is impressed by meat, you NEED to take them there! STAT!

After that enormous slab-o-meat dinner we were sure we wouldn’t eat again for weeks.

Um…or until Sunday. :)

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Our Engagement Weekend in Wine Country (Friday)

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Thanks for all of your sweet comments on our engagement story yesterday. As I mentioned, our wine-country weekend hanging out with my cousins had just been a ruse to get me packed and ready so Garrett could treat me to what was probably one of our most memorable vacations yet. We were sad to say goodbye to Domaine Carneros, but so happy to have made a memory to celebrate there time and time again. Our next stop was getting into town to settle down into our weekend digs.

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Unbeknownst to me, Garrett had rented us a little cottage near downtown Sonoma where we’d be staying all weekend. It was at the end of a private road and we had our own little vineyard decorating the driveway. Isn’t that just the cutest? I was ready to pack my bags and move in for good!
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We had about an hour to relax, unpack, freshen up, have a glass of wine and then it was off to our dinner reservations at The Rutherford Grill in Napa. When Garrett initially mentioned that we had dinner reservations I was a little bit nervous. While we are both food enthusiasts, we aren’t big fancy-fine diners, you know what I mean? And the whole food and wine scene in Napa can be a little snooty in certain places, so I was a tiny bit apprehensive. But honestly, The Rutherford Grill was the perfect spot for us.
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It wasn’t AT ALL snooty, the food was on point and as you can imagine the wine list has some really great selections. Our waitress was so cute, and totally tolerated the two of us who were still in giggly OMG WE’RE ENGAGED mode. Garrett got prime rib, I ended up ordering the Hawaiian Ribeye and we both opted for Colcannon Potatoes. Have you ever had that kind of mashed potato? HOLY MOSES, they are the best potatoes I’ve ever eaten in my life. I think we may have to eat them every year on the anniversary of our engagement! (You think I’m kidding, but man they were THAT GOOD!)

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Hi, you’re having the Old 96er for dinner. :)

After dinner we headed back into Sonoma and went for a walk downtown in the historic town plaza. I’ve written about Sonoma pretty extensively on this blog — it’s a place I hold close to my heart. I have so many memories here with both of my parents after my grandma moved to wine country, so it felt really special that Garrett and I were enjoying such an exciting time in our relationship in that city. In some ways it felt like my grandma and my dad got to be privy to the whole thing. As we walked around the square I just couldn’t get over how perfect everything was. Of course right as I was looking off into the sunset thinking about what a romantic evening we were having a bunch of kids drove by in a Hyundai blasting the explicit version of “Rack City” so, you know — back to reality. :)

Right off the square there is a painting called the Valley of the Moon mural. My grandma would always take me over to it when I’d visit her growing up. Full disclosure: it’s right by an ice cream parlor, so you know — of course she loved art, but it was also her way of always saying “Yay, culture — now let’s go eat some ice cream!” :) Summers with grandma were the best, you know?

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Anyway, one of the fun memories I have as a kid was that hidden inside this mural of people, places and things related to the “Valley of the Moon” (as Sonoma is known), was a “Where’s Waldo” style couple — a bride and groom, listed under their wedding date — somewhere in the mural. As a kid it was always fun to race to see how quickly you could find it, and even though we’ve done it many times, of course that night Garrett and I had to take a minute and scope out the happy couple. (It’s in the bottom right hand region if you are ever in the area and want to find it.)

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Then, of course we had to head over and have some ice cream, duh. :)

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If you’ve been around this blog for any length of time, you already know that Garrett took great pleasure in ordering two scoops of bubble gum ice cream. (Gross!)

Afterward we grabbed a glarifee as a nightcap over at Swisshotel and then headed back to our cottage. I mean let’s be real — we literally couldn’t eat another bite! haha

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Garrett had a full day planned on Saturday and so we wanted to make sure we geared up for it.

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Nacho Ordinary Wedding Weekend

The short story is we eat nachos 3 times in 2.5 days and I wanted to make a bad pun out of it. The longer story is that we had an amazing weekend, and I really didn’t want to leave on Sunday!

You know how sometimes vacations are fun, but you are happy to be home? Well this was a super-fun-I-wish-we-were-still-there kind of weekend and we are now (as we do every time we are on the Central Coast) making grand plans to move down there in the next five years. Of course there is a possibility that this will never happen, but every single time we leave we spend the drive home planning the move, so you never know.

So, for starters, Sarah gets a gold star for picking this weekend to get married because it was a great weekend to get the heck out of Sacramento!
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We drove down Friday morning and really took our time. It’s a 5 hour drive but we probably stretched it out to about 7 hours by the time we did our traditional road trip stop at In-n-Out Burger for lettuce wraps and then a little perusal at our favorite bookstore in the Bay Area. We rolled into town at about 5ish and after stretching our legs and unpacking our stuff in the apartment we had rented, we headed downtown to get some coffee. Afterward we drove about 10 minutes south and met up with the bride and groom at the Avila Beach Farmers Market.

Avila is a darling little beach town and they have a cute Farmers Market on the promenade on Friday nights that is full of live music and good food and lots of energy.
Dude, it's January

There is also a long pier that Garrett and I always like to walk down — He likes to walk down it because he is always hoping to see something crazy. I like to walk down it because it is relaxing.
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This time Garrett got his wish because we saw a fisherman catch a Tiger Shark.

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Um, obviously IT WAS NOT RELAXING AT ALL TO ME TO SEE A SHARK BEING PULLED OUT OF THE OCEAN.

After that we had some drinks, and obviously some ice cream — this is what you must do in Avila, have ice cream on the promenade — and then Garrett and I let the bride and groom go get their beauty rest and we headed over to Sycamore Mineral Springs to soak in one of their hot tubs.

This is also something you MUST do. There are a ton of private springs nestled on the side of a hill and you get to sit and soak all of your stresses away for over an hour. It feels amazing when you are through and we do it every single time!
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On the way home we may have picked up some nachos. :) FOURTH MEAL!

Saturday was the wedding, and we spent the morning relaxing and heading out to breakfast. I ordered Breakfast Nachos, and I’m just going to tell you right now that the best food concept ever invented EVER is the breakfast nacho. You heard it here first. On our way home to get ready we did a little shopping downtown and because I am crazy, I impulse bought a dress that I ended up wearing to the wedding that afternoon. Yay for new dresses! Here it is (see also: THE BRIDE! YAY!):

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The wedding and reception were awesome, and wouldn’t you know it, the cocktail hour included a nacho bar. BRILLIANT, I tell you. Brilliant! Also, it included champagne.
@sunnydaze805 makes the party!

The bride’s sister approved…as you would.

It was a great day and we were super happy for Sarah. Lots of love in that venue!
Practicing our fish faces. I think we've got them nailed.
I ❤ the bride cc: @sarahh336photo

Reluctantly on Sunday we headed home, although not before stopping at our favorite donut place. Look, I am not made of wood and these donuts are REALLY FREAKING AWESOME. We weren’t really hungry, but we picked up a box because we thought they might sound good on the (FIVE HOUR) drive home. I had kind of forgotten about them when we stopped to get gas. Garrett looked at me when we pulled into the station and said “Hey, do YOU mind pumping gas?” which seemed kind of weird because he was driving. But when I got back into the car, I realized why:
I leave the car for one second...

BUSTED.

We rode that sugar high home the entire way. :)

I guess I am a little glad to be back to my real life — we decided to start a Whole 30 Lite yesterday. We are basically Whole 30-ing all of our meals that we eat for the next 30 days except for the ones that we are eating at the homes of others. We have a few things planned over the next month and I just didn’t want to be Those People — too much stress right now — but we are going to Whole 30 it at home. I’m anticipating it will feel great, and I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. You know I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

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August And Everything After

In August of 1996 I moved down to a small college town on the Central Coast of California in what was sure to be The Next Great Chapter in the tale of my epic life. Clearly I was full of that specific kind of arrogance that one only has right as their college years begin and I had waited so long on this precipice of independence that when I was finally able, I took a running swan dive off a cliff into the sparkling abyss below.

Unfortunately college, for me, was very shallow water the first time around.

While I loved the town I was in, at 17 I was just not ready to be on my own and responsible in the ways that were demanded. Looking back the demands were so few, but at the time they felt like the weight of the world, and after only a couple of years I knew it was time to go back home. I needed to regroup. I needed a new goal. I certainly needed a new boyfriend and frankly, I needed a new life. Be careful what you wish for.

In hindsight, this was also the first time in my semi-adult life that I absolutely led with my gut. Somewhere in my mind I just KNEW that packing up and leaving was the right decision, and as I’ve gotten older I have remembered this particular moment when I’ve needed to trust myself. But at the time, when you added up the facts it was a disastrous choice — Cal Poly was an amazing education and I was just throwing in the towel. San Luis Obispo was a safe and small town (uh…for the most part) with so many amenities that I was trading in. But at the time I didn’t care what the facts said, my heart said “Go back home. Now.” And as August of 1998 unfolded, I realized why.

A year later, in August of course, I found myself heading south again. I would spend a few years in Los Angeles losing myself and finding myself (over and over and over — it kept me quite busy actually) and after a while I knew it was time to head back home again. Home looked a little different this time — it was a new city, Sacramento — and my mom was living there alone without my dad. But I was ready to finish college, it was a slower pace of life than LA and I needed the change. This time I wasn’t so bold to think I needed a new life — I was still scarred from the result of that wish the last time — but I was open. Open to whatever and whoever was coming next.

I enrolled at Sac State and rented a bedroom in a (what would end up being a CRAZY) 5 bedroom house that would ultimately be occupied by 4 other female students. I didn’t know a soul in town and I wasn’t quite ready to live alone. This seemed like a somewhat less scary option and I packed up my car and started my new life on August 13 of 2002. It was over 100 degrees that day, and if you have ever packed and unpacked your life on a day that hot, I tip my hat to you. It was a rude awakening and I will not lie, there were many times that day I thought that The Universe must be telling me that I had made the absolute wrong decision. I was coming from an apartment 11 blocks from the beach. From a job where I was successful. From a town where I had made friends close enough to call family. And now I was here. In the fiery furnace of hell, living out of boxes and not knowing a soul.

Shortly after I unpacked — sweaty, alone in the house, and super disheveled — Sarah walked in. I’m sure she thought I was a hot mess. She and her brother were carrying her mattress up the stairs and somehow or another it got away from them, went sliding down the stairs, and crashed through the glass partition in our front door. It was just the perfect icing on such a craptactular moving day that the only thing anyone could do was laugh hysterically.

Magnum and Blue Steel

After that day, Sarah and I spent the next 6 years as roommates. We both finished college, had many fun days and long crazy nights, and after graduating we even both moved on to our Real World Jobs with the same company (that 8 years later we both still work for!) I used to always joke that no one lives with a person that long unless they are married, and most people seem to agree, but something about our friendship has just defied the odds, you know?

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A few years ago, Sarah moved back home. What is coincidental is that Sarah’s “home” is the Central Coast, so she has an intimate knowledge of this gem of our state that I had to leave all of those years ago to come back to my home. We didn’t know each other then, of course, but the geographic overlap of our coming of age created a common bond. Garrett + I love to visit her whenever we have the chance, not only because it is a beautiful place and always sort of nostalgic, but because there are only handful of people in life for which you can go months and months without communicating, but then pick right back up where we left off — and Sarah is one of those people for both of us. Years of shared history does that in the best way.

All of this is on my mind because this weekend we are heading down to San Luis Obispo to celebrate Sarah and her awesome fiance’s wedding. On Saturday night they will be married, and I was thinking about it all last night the only way to describe how I am feeling about the whole situation is joyous. I am not a super mushy wedding person, but something about the way this wedding has weaved together so many threads of my life just feels a little special. I can’t wait to be in this town, with my love, watching these two have this particular moment. It feels like a little wink from The Universe. But more importantly, it feels like another wonderful reminder that everything is unfolding just as it should.

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The Great Iowa Adventure (Part Two)

So when I woke up Thursday morning all of my work was done, and now it was time to focus on Vacation Iowa. I grabbed a coffee at Starbucks and said goodbye to the our Iowa corporate office and then headed back to the hotel.
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That picture was from the day before, on Thursday, however, the weather was SUPER CRAPTASTIC. But then, like an hour later — all of a sudden the weather was great. Here was the view out of my hotel room (scenic, I know) before and after I showered and got ready.

The difference an hour makes in Iowa. This blows my mind.

Crazy, right? Midwest weather vexes me. The difference a few minutes can make absolutely blows my mind. Luckily it the weather turned in my favor because I was about to embark on a 3 hour road trip to see AndreAnna.

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It was a mostly scenic drive and I made it out there singing 80s tunes at the top of my lungs, so all in all…not a bad trip. And I was so happy to see AndreAnna! It was SO. DANG. GOOD. to catch up with a good friend over some beverages on the patio in the sun. We had a million things to talk about, she is an awesome hostess and almost immediately we decided we should go and get manicures and pedicures.

The thing I miss so much about friends far away are days like this where you just get to HANG OUT! We took full advantage and also added in some pampering! I decided right then and there, sitting in that salon chair, that I am going to do much more pampering this summer. We had a relaxing Thursday night and AndreAnna’s husband made some awesome gluten free pizzas for us to sample (WHICH WERE AMAZEBALLS) and then we turned in pretty early because we had a big Friday ahead.

Friday we were up early to get in a workout at Quad Cities CrossFit. It was a partner workout with a combo of my most favorite (Squat Cleans) and my least favorite (Toes to Bar) movements. Ha! We powered through it though, and then of course we had to get some serious breakfast. I mean OBVIOUSLY.
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We headed over to The Machine Shed for breakfast, and they are not at all kidding when they say they serve cinnamon rolls THE SIZE OF YOUR HEAD. It was a super cute restaurant, and we chowed down and headed out to our next adventure.
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Sadly, our next adventure was not a tractor ride — but it was even better — MASSAGES! I mean, I literally was shouting out AndreAnna’s car window “I’M NEVER LEAVING IOWA.” Manis and pedis! Tough Workouts! Delicious Food! FREAKING RIDICULOUS MASSAGES! I mean, what else does one need? (Ok, ok — maybe my dude and my dog but luckily Garrett was sending me silly photos and texts the whole week to let me know they were doing just fine back at home.)

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After massages we grabbed some groceries for that evening because AndreAnna had invites some friends over and the ladies were having a Ladies Night while the gents stayed at home. We hit up Sam’s Club and managed to pick the loudest, most unruly cart in the store as well as drop an entire 6 pack of beer on the ground. We were like Laverne & Shirley, but we got out of there with some good eats and an in tact 6 pack. :)

When we headed home it was time for some patio drinking again (the weather was AWESOME on Friday) and then it was time to shower and put our party pants on because it was Ladies Night On The Town. We headed out to Front Street Brewery and I got to try their amazing BBQ Pork Nachos. They might LITERALLY be the best nachos I’ve ever had, and despite the fact that I try not to consume corn chips on a regular basis, I consider myself a bit of a nacho conossieur. Don’t worry, I’ve put that on my resume.
Did you know...they serve BBQ Pork Nachos in heaven? #truestory

We rounded out the evening with…well, quite a few “Vodka Sodas with a Shit-ton of Lime” — which I highly recommend. They go down easy on a hot summer night and you are practically hydrating while drinking. :) They may, however, make you force the driver of your vehicle to pull over while you are passing the Mississippi River. I mean you guys: IT WAS A FULL MOON OVER THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER! This just seemed so novel to me. I’m a California Girl…so looking at the freaking Mississippi River just made me realize I was soooooo far from home! Far enough from home that I had to bust out the spirit fingers.

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All in all, it was a very fun night with some very fun ladies:
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I don’t have a lot of pictures from our adventures on Saturday, but that is probably for the best since the weather got SUPER yucky and we mostly lounged around working off our vodka sodas by playing cards and drinking more. :) No one needs pictures of me and my greasy ponytail playing cards, I promise. Sunday, the weather was equally icky and unfortunately Sunday was my big travel day back home — which involved another 3 hour road trip. Iowa, you are no fun to drive in when there are crazy thunderstorms! I guess it was fitting though, because had it been another beautiful day I really may never have left.

I was up and on the road early. It was so sad to leave — I wish AndreAnna and her awesome family were my next door neighbors because seriously, we had SUCH A GOOD TIME — but I had also been away from my life for 7 days and you know how that goes, right? I knew it would be good to get back home. I had to drive 3 hours back to Des Moines and then get on a little puddle jumper plane to get up to Minneapolis — eep! I don’t love tiny planes — and then from Minneapolis back to Sacramento.

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When I got to Minneapolis I was pretty exhausted, but then out of nowhere they called my name at the gate upgraded me to First Class for the rest of my flight home. You guys, that like actually happens in real life! After that flight experience, I seriously I NEVER WANT TO FLY COACH AGAIN….HAHAHAHAHAHAHA uh, you know, unless I’m actually paying for it! :) I rolled into the Sacramento airport at about 7pm Sunday night and despite it already being a long day I was super energized when I got there. It was still light out and super hot and it just felt like home! I was so, so happy to be back reunited with Buster, then Garrett cooked me a nice dinner, and I slept soundly in my own bed for the first time in a week.

Reuniiiiiited!

Sometimes it takes some time away to make you realize all the silly little things that you love about your life, right? I couldn’t have asked for a better time in Iowa, but I have enjoyed being back home and back to my routines over the last week and a half. It’s starting to feel like summer around here and I am marinating on some things I want to make sure I do over the next few months. A bucket list of sorts — but with much less productivity and more superficial fun!

More on that soon…

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The Great Iowa Adventure (Part One)

Greetings! I’m back from my 7 day adventure traipsing all over Iowa and I’ve had about a day to recover, so hey — why not get right back into it. (Boy, I need a weekend to recover from my weekend.) I fully intended to blog my way through the state, but it went by so much quicker than I thought and I just never felt like pulling out my laptop — so indulge me in a little recapping, would ya?

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I started my week last Monday at 3:30 in the morning. When I booked my flight out, 6am seemed like a reasonable idea, but let me tell you, A 6AM FLIGHT IS NOT A GOOD IDEA. I don’t know what I was thinking! But after about 6 hours of travel (and a nap or two) I made it to Des Moines safe and sound.

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I hadn’t been there since early 2006 and while many things looked the same (airport, hotel, etc), so much seemed different – especially with respect to my life. Back in 2006, when I first started working for my company, I had to go to Des Moines for 2 weeks for training and at the time, Garrett and I had only been together for a little over 2 months so it all seemed SO DRAMATIC to have to be gone for 2! WHOLE! WEEKS! This time around I was like “Ok babe! Take care of the dog! Hope you don’t starve!” hahahaha. Well, not exactly, but you know what I’m saying, right?

After I checked into the hotel and got settled, I decided to brave it and walk over to CrossFit Primal and get in a workout. Visiting a new CrossFit gym is always so intimidating. I always expect it to be full of fire breathing Games Athletes that are going to roll their eyes at me. It NEVER is though, so I’m glad I put on my big girl (workout) pants and headed over.
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I felt right at home with the instructor and the class and it was nice to feel like I had some semblance of routine even though I was on the road. I am a pretty good traveler but 7 days on the road is a long time so I wanted to keep things as normal as possible (which is why on my way home I totally stopped at Walgreens all disgusting and sweaty and bought handsoap for the hotel bathroom…because seriously? A BAR OF SOAP? Who washes their hands with A BAR OF SOAP?) Anyway, the workout was fun and I knew INSTANTLY that my legs would be feeling it the next day.
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And lo and behold, they were! Which made it glaringly obvious how low the the hotel toilets were, but that is neither here nor there. Tuesday morning I woke up early after a SUPER crappy night of sleep. Tons of thunder and warnings of tornadoes kept me a little anxious all night so needless to say I didn’t squeeze in a workout before I headed into the office.

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Luckily the weather was pretty nice all of Tuesday and despite not staying outside to enjoy it the day just flew by. Tuesday and Wednesday were my long days at work so I just tried to stay focused on the tasks at hand. But by Wednesday night I was ready for some vacation! I met up with blog reader Jillian for some well deserved cocktails and we had an awesome meal chatting it up like we had known each other forever. I had a real “I Love The Internet” moment!
Yesssssss! #earned

Afterward I walked back to the hotel and got everything ready for my big road trip to Davenport the next day to hang with AndreAnna. It had been almost a year and a half since we had last hung out and I was super excited to get to her neck of the woods and see her in real life!

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about how the vacation portion of the week went down….

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The Lake + The River

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Our Lake Tahoe weekend was just what it needed to be and allowed me a good amount of time to read, lounge and think about everything going on in my life right now. There are A LOT of good things. But also, when I have a little bit of quiet time, or time when I am not rushing around to complete the next task on my To-Do List, there are a lot of things that need to be looked at with a slightly more careful eye.

windy road ahead

I wish I came home with some gorgeously edited photos and grand epiphanies, but mostly I just came home realizing that I’ve got a bit of a windy road in front of me. Things in my life are sorely out of balance. Too much work. Not enough sleep. Too much rushing. Not enough time. Too many expectations. Not enough planning. Too many projects. Too much distraction. Too much coffee. (Wait can there ever be too much coffee? :)) I’m sure you know what I’m saying though.

The year that my dad died I somehow came across this book. I think Oprah was probably reading it or something, so it wasn’t like I had made an important discovery, but it was something that I happily absorbed at a time when my heart was broken and my soul was an emotional sponge. I read those short essays daily and during a time of serious tumult, it grounded me. Hell, it grounded my life moving forward in the idea that no matter what is happening in this moment, we all have the ability to hit the pause button, re-examine our situation, find what is working and let that lead us to the real gifts of life. Powerful stuff, really.

The essays were really quick hits — an idea to throw out there and then move forward — no homework or selfy-helpy exercises, but there was one right in the beginning of the book that still I think about often. It was called Standing Knee Deep In A River Dying of Thirst, and fifteen years after reading it I still use it as a red flag indicator in my life. As we drove home from Tahoe on Sunday, I thought to myself how glad I was that we had gone: Good friends, fun shenanigans, a gorgeous house, a relaxing agenda — but in the end, I was still feeling incredibly thirsty — and it’s the thirst that always makes me pause.

Couch // mags // dog

Right now in my life I am juggling so many puzzle pieces but I just can’t seem to fit them all together into something that makes sense. Instead everything feels like a jumbled mess — the food we are eating is less than stellar, my training is hit or miss, my sleep is AWFUL, my work schedule is like an 8 hour race against the clock/cortisol fest. And with all of that going on, my agenda just keeps getting longer. There are lots of good things too, but the time for those things seems few and far between right now. I’m not reading. I’m not connecting with those people who are important to me. I’m not making time to actively recover. And it was clear to me this weekend that I was going to have to make some changes. So all in all, it was exactly what I needed. And while I’m not sure exactly what it all means right now, or what it is going to look like in the future, I’m open to finding out.

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Bad Blogger, No Cookie


This weekend was what blogs were made for. If this was a fancy lifestyle blog, I would have lots of blurry edged photos, treated with a slightly vintage filter to express my joys appropriately. But since I really only had my iphone and I was more into eating, drinking and laughing than “setting up a good shot” — I only have what I have to show you this morning. Guess we’ll just have to make due. :)

Friday was my day off, and man I’m not sure I would have survived this weekend had I not had that day off. It wasn’t reeeeeally a day off because I’m about to have 10 days off and unfortunately my job is not the type where the work stops because I’m not showing up. So I got up early, did a little bit of 9-5 stuff, hit the gym (where I had to do Cindy, OHMAHGAWD OUCH. I hate that workout with a fiery passion) and then it was on to my real mission for the day — Crafting The Epic Grocery List:

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Not only is this week Thanksgiving, which means the grocery stores are a shit show daily, but Garrett’s mom was arriving Sunday night and it was Garrett’s request that “we cook her really good paleo food for every meal.” Ahem, I’m assuming by “we” he meant “me” so I set to crafting an awesome (yet not super demanding) meal plan. But it literally took hours to get all of that, plus the list together. I posted this on Instagram and lots of you got chuckles about the “cheap wine” but not cheap bourbon. What can I say, I have priorities? :) I also have a house full of expensive wine, but no good “second or third” bottles. You know? #hostessproblems

So after all of that nutty thinking and planning about food, I didn’t even have time to go to the grocery store because Friday night we were headed out to my mom’s (with Buster!) for a family dinner. My contribution was appetizers (I highly recommend the Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball from Whole Foods, if you are in a pinch,) a salad (I made Food & Wine’s Celery Salad with Walnuts, Dates and Pecorino and I AM NOT JOKING I had a dream about it last night, it was that good. And easy!) And then I brought dessert, which was a mish-mash of purchased things because I was out of creativity.
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My mom and grandma made an epic spread with pot roast and roasted root vegetables and the seven of us ate a little too much, talked a little too loud, and then we headed back home sans Buster. My mom and grandma were watching him for a couple nights because on Saturday night we were headed down to San Francisco.

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Awkward, flash-ridden, car self portrait! YAY!

Saturday, coincidentally enough was my and Garrett’s SEVEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY. In dog years, I think that means we are married. :) We celebrated that day by going grocery shopping (what? how do you guys celebrate?) And then made our way down to The City for the night. We weren’t going for a fancy white table-clothed dinner, instead we were meeting up with a big group of Garrett’s friends for a going away party. (Oooh, romantic! yes?) Actually it was no big deal to do that on our anniversary. I think after 7 years together romance is definitely not made only on special occasions, you know? (Which reminds me, you read this right? I kind of loved it.)

So we headed down to Cigar Bar & Grill to toast to Garrett’s good friend John (from high school! what???) and his fiance Amy who are moving to Amsterdam for a job.

AMSTERDAM, YOU GUYS! I MEAN COME ON!

It was fun to hear about such an adventure and it reinvigorated Garrett and I to discuss what our plans are for the future and where we want to live. We love Sacramento, but neither of us feel like this is our forever home, so it is fun to contemplate where else we could go. (ahem, ESTES PARK, COLORADO ahem) Do you guys do this too? Tell me what cities are on your list. I think it is SO FUN to think about moving to a new place. I mean, yes, it would be a ton of work to start a new life over again, but also it would be a new city to explore! HOORAY!

I tried to take some nice pictures of Garrett with all of his friends, but in the end most of them all looked like this:

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It’s fairly representative of the evening though, and that’s the point, really. Right? There is a lot of love in that group and it’s pretty fun to watch. We did manage to sneak away for a few minutes by ourselves.
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We didn’t spend that time whispering sweet nothings into each others’ ears though, instead we made it our mission to find the greasiest pizza in North Beach.

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Mission: Accomplished. (I’m pretty sure they cook their pizza crust in butter, which I’m telling you is NOT a bad thing.)

It paired well with the cocktails I’d been drinking all night, if you know what I’m saying. (Also, I think I may have accidentaly discovered my new favorite drink: aged dark rum, pomegranate juice, squeeze of lime, angostura bitters on the rocks.) Sounds sweet, is more tart. Very delicious. Now where were we…Ah yes, I believe I saying that My Best during the holidays looking a little different than the rest of the year? Ahem.

Sunday morning we headed back to Sacramento and to my mom’s to pick up Buster. You guys, I CAN NEVER HAVE KIDS. We missed our dog so. damn. much! Of course he was at my mom’s, which is not a bad life. When we showed up she had just deep conditioned his hair, brushed him and was You Tubing videos about proper Dog Massage Techniques, so it’s really not a bad gig for Buster. :)

When we got home, it was a whirlwind of cooking, cleaning and prepping the guest bedroom for Garrett’s mom’s arrival! She lives out in New Mexico and is 3.5 hours from the airport, so it was a long travel day for her. I cooked up some stew, picked up some chocolate truffles and had a nice bottle of wine at the ready (not one of the “cheap ones” I promise – HA!) when she arrived.

Last night we stayed up late chatting and today we have a full day of stuff on the agenda! Maybe later on this week I will do a better job with the soft-focus, vintage filtered photos, eh? :) I’ll be sure to put that on the list.

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The Colorado Adventure (Part Two)


When we last left off I believe I was eating at The Best Paleo Potluck Ever in The Best Backyard Ever. There were lots of bests on this trip as you can tell. In case I need to convince you again, this was the backyard.

STOP IT. THE BACKYARD. OHMAHGAWD.

It was pretty awesome. (And so was Mel’s other half Dave for sending me this pic to use or else I would have NONE. Thanks Dave!)

After admiring all of the beauty (and eating WAY too much!) it was early to bed and early to rise because on Saturday morning — IT WAS SHOWTIME! Our Paleo Conference started early and Melissa was our first speaker.
OMFG, it is happening! The Paleo Conference is on!

She gave an informative overview of Paleo, set the foundation for the day, spoke about ways to take your food from Boring! to Bada Bing! and generally entertained the crowd with her sparkling personality. Melissa is just like she comes across on her blog, AND THEN SOME! This is notable on the internet, because certainly you may have met a person or two who is hilarious and awesome on their website and sort of snooze-ville in real life, right? Well Mel’s website is a 10, but in real life, she’s AN ELEVEN. It was totally inspiring to watch.

Afterward we had a break for lunch and YMCA of the Rockies was cooking all sorts of delicious stuff from Well Fed. I would tell you how amazing it was, except I didn’t actually eat anything. I was TOO NERVOUS. I know, I’m kind of a spaz. But this was a big deal, and (surprisingly) enjoying a good meal was the last thing on my mind. Luckily Michelle hooked me up with some chicken jerky so I didn’t totally starve (ha!) What a gem, right?

Then it was my turn to present — eeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! Dave sent me a number of pictures of myself presenting and when I showed them to Garrett he got really excited about this one. “Look, this is the face you make when you are listening. I so rarely get to see this face!” :) hehe

Trust me though, I also did plenty of talking! I told my story of finding Paleo and talked about some strategies I have used to take it from “A Diet” to “A Lifestyle.” I showed lots of embarrassing pictures of myself (natch) and tried to keep it entertaining. The crowd was amazing and responsive and friendly-faced which made the whole experience so meaningful. You could feel the love in the room and my nervousness dissipated shortly after I started.

@nomnompaleo telling family stories. Love her!

Michelle took the stage in the afternoon and talked about her Carb-Addiction Recovery Plan and also showed some silly pics. She spoke about her journey to Paleo, and also how she has managed to transition her kids to this lifestyle — which was no small feat! I socked that information in my mind for any potential future battles. Michelle was so charming and honest and also came armed with some serious food knowledge (AND SAMPLES!) She did a cooking demo with her Magic Mushroom Powder (available as part of her iPad App), made some Spicy Pineapple Salsa with Julie from PaleOMG and had prepped some Slow Cooker Kalua Pig for the crowd to sample, which HOLY MOSES WAS DELICIOUS. So delicious that I went home and immediately made one for Garrett and I the day we got home. THAT GOOD, PEOPLE.
Spicy Pineapple Salsa Time with @nomnompaleo and @paleomg

It was an action packed day, and when we were through I think we all exhaled and the only options were to completely collapse and go to bed at 6pm? Or rally and eat Mexican food. If you know anything about me at all, you know how I cast my vote. If you can believe it, we did end up closing down the entire downtown area! PARTY ANIMALS! Well, except that the entire downtown area closes down at about 9:30pm. But it was perfect! We felt like rockstars, but still got to crash into our beds at a decent hour after a job well done. Saturday night was a great mix of relief, accomplishment, and potential. And I slept the best I had all week.

To counteract all of the good feelings I was having, I headed out Sunday morning to do kettlebell work and burpees with the folks over at CrossFit Estes Park! ha! One must take the good with the bad. And burpees at elevation are VERY VERY BAD.

Cathy, I think your shirt is some very wishful thinking. ;)

So thus far the weekend had been great: Our presentation was a success, our workouts were fun, I had survived burpees at elevation, and all was going swimmingly until I took a kettlebell to the shin. What a clumsy dork, right? Of course I couldn’t get out of Colorado unscathed…

But it was nothing that ice and a little cheesy tourism couldn’t fix. After the wod I grabbed a plate full of bacon and eggs, met up with the group and then we headed over to do the Ghost & History Tour at The Stanley Hotel.

It was super fun (if not a little freaky) to hear all about how the hotel came to be, the hauntings, and of course how Stephen King used it for inspiration for The Shining. The mini-series is totally getting Netflix’d now!
At The Stanley Hotel doing the ghost tour. #freaky (cc:@melicious11)

Sadly, I had to go home and pack and head out to the airport after the tour, so I said my goodbyes and hit the road. It was hard to leave Estes Park. Partly because everywhere you turn there is some beautiful specimen of nature. This was the scene as I was exiting the YMCA to go to the airport:
I'll miss you nature! (Cc: @ymcarockies)
I mean, really??????

But the other part was because as I was driving out of town I was acutely aware that this weekend had been a game-changer. I met some amazing and talented people and I had some unreal experiences. I got to do things that scare me and interact with people who were embarking on some pretty scary challenges too. There was such an energy about the weekend that I honestly can’t even put into words. It just felt like it was all meant to happen. And as I drove out of those beautiful mountains on Sunday afternoon, I was just so overwhelmed with gratitude that it actually had.
*****

Michelle and Melissa have also written some great recaps (with some seriously stellar photography) that you can check out here:

Colorado Dispatch: A Story in Photos
Feeling Grateful
Notes From the Rockies (Part One)
Notes From the Rockies (Part Two)
Do It Better (Our Paleo Seminar)
Final Day In The Rockies & Dinner At The Kitchen (Boulder, CO)

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The Colorado Adventure (Part One)

I am just now realizing — in this very moment, actually — how flawed my logic was for coming back from a very awesome, action packed, emotional trip to Colorado, and then quitting coffee the very next day. Highest highs and lowest lows, people.

If you remember, I am quitting coffee as part of The Great Skincare Experiment, and I really want to slap myself in the face right now for even coming up with this idea, but I’m actually too tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiired to lift my arm up and follow through. That said I do want to tell you about Colorado! But I have to break it up into chunks because I will probably need to take a nap in between.

When we last left off I was heading up to Estes Park to get settled at the Conference venue.

Can we talk for a second about the YMCA of the Rockies? I don’t know what the YMCAs look like in your neck of the woods, but in Estes Park, the place is like a full functioning resort + conference center. It was pretty amazing and I was immediately sort of overwhelmed!
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I checked in to my room, dragged all 77lbs of my luggage up some stairs (stupid, stupid idea when you are a mile and a half above sea level) and opened the curtains in my room to find this view out on the balcony:
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The drive up had been gorgeous, but I have to say I just wasn’t really prepared for all of the beauty that Colorado had to offer. I think we get a little spoiled here in California with pretty things to see, and I was just so struck by the vastness of it all.

Shortly thereafter I met up with Melissa and her other half Dave and we headed over to meet Cami + Cathy who were involved with organizing the event. We had some tasty wine and fun conversation and there were definitely a few times I wanted to pinch myself and say “How the heck did I get here in this beautiful place with these awesome people?” I would repeat that quite a bit to myself this entire weekend, let me tell you. We told stories and had some laughs and then later we grabbed some dinner and then it was off to bed because Friday morning, the menu included our first WOD with the folks over at CrossFit Estes Park.
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Sure we were sort of on vacation, but you know the rules:

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CrossFitting at this elevation is no joke, but no one even laughed at us :) That’s Cami and Cathy with us below — they were the best hosts you could ask for!

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Afterwards we headed out for some post workout grub and I piled my plate high with eggs and potatoes.
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Yep, I said potatoes — did you catch that? Lots of new research showing the white potatoes are right up there (with respect to nutrient density) with sweet potatoes. I’m not telling you to go out and dive into a vat of mashed potatoes three meals per day, but what I am saying is that HASH BROWNS ARE GOOD and you should eat some.

Speaking of good eats, Cathy hosted a little party at her house on Friday night to welcome us all and because I’m a nut job I wore turquoise pants.
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Are you on the fence about purchasing a crazy colored pair of pants for fall? Please do it! I beg you. They will make you ridiculously happy every time you put them on, I promise.

Turquoise pants aside, it was THE BEST PALEO POTLUCK I HAVE EVER BEEN TO. I would show you all the food I ate, but I was waaaaay too busy chowing on it. Luckily Michelle documented every delicious bite. It was hosted in basically the most beautiful backyard I have ever seen. You can even tell with only a crappy iphone photo, right?
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Best Backyard!!!

I’ll be back tomorrow to give you the rest of the recap, you know assuming I survive the day without caffeine. Wish me luck?

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