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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Rocky Mountain Hi, Hello, How Do You Do?

So.

Colorado.

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Super Gorgeous. (Despite the fact that it welcomed me with a hailstorm that seemed quite epic to this California girl!)

Are you surprised? You should not be. In my mind I have decided we are moving here. Do you do this when you see a new town? Immediately decide if you could live there? I can tell you after about 10 minutes. And I’ve decided in the affirmative here. Logistically I haven’t quite figured how we will make that work, but don’t you worry, I’m on it.

For starters, I’ve decided we will just move in with Liz + Mike since their hospitality has been delicious and on top of that, they like to party like it’s 1999 until about 9pm just like I do. So, you know, my people and all. Plus they have an adorable dog (with his own twitter account) that makes all of the Buster/HBB missing that I’ve got going on feel a little less heart wrenching.

I'm missing HBB but luckily I have Moose to keep me company!

I’m trekking up to Estes Park today, and also perhaps squeezing in my first CrossFit wod in Colorado, and can I explain something to you about Colorado? This place is ELEVATED. Like, legit high up. And do you know what that means in real life? It means you get winded trying to do really difficult things like walk AND ALSO talk. Or walk down the stairs. Life is hard you guys, let’s go do it at high intensity with barbells in our hands, shall we?

Anyway, that’s the update from the road. Hope you are having a nice Thursday and hey — maybe I will see you on Saturday, eh?

Toodles!

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Bodega Bay Weekend — The Last Hurrah

I took the end of last week off and on Friday afternoon we hit the road. Destination: Bodega Bay — a sleepy little beach town most notable for being the back drop in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. When we got home yesterday afternoon I realized that have taken our last scheduled weekend away this summer, and true confession: I’m kind of glad.

I always start summer looking forward to traipsing around the state and staying at new places and seeing new (or just old and beloved) things. But by the end, my inner introvert comes out and all I really want is to be at home enjoying my house and my yard and my routine.

Oh, how I’ve turned into such an old lady! :)

The mission was a to get away and celebrate our friend Matt’s 30th Birthday. The mission was accomplished!
Bespectacled boys like the view from our digs.
The scenery was pretty stellar, the house perched on a golf course that overlooked the ocean, and the weather really cooperated. Bodega Bay is known for being very coastal and foggy, so we were surprised by how much sunshine and warm weather we experienced.

I really can’t say enough about how beautiful Sonoma County is. Garrett spent the first 10 years of his life there and my grandma moved there when I was 10, so it’s a place that sparks a little nostalgia in both of us.
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There was a good amount of boozing and relaxing and eating ALL the salt water taffy, so it should come as no surprise that we are now *actively* looking forward to our Whole 30.

As nice as it is to get away, sometimes it feels just as sweet to be home! I took today off work to get my wits about me and get some stuff done around the house, and that’s just what I plan to do. I’ll be back tomorrow with some of my favorite things this month, and the rest of the week I have lots to say about Whole 30 strategies, new recipes I’m loving and our scientific taste test (ha!) of about 10 different types of coconut water. And uh, they DO NOT all taste the same.

Hope you had a great weekend!

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Day Trip – Marin County + SF

Sacramento is a fantastic city to live in! But since this is the great state of California and it is not on the coast, it sometimes gets a bad rap. I remember when I lived on the coast in LA I felt like I was making a real compromise moving to a valley town. Luckily one of the cliches that you hear about Sacramento all over the places is true: it’s such a short drive everywhere! The Bay Area, Lake Tahoe and Wine Country are all right in your back yard. Ten years after that big move, I really appreciate that this is completely true.

I’ve been taking advantage of this all summer long and last Saturday was no exception. We packed up some snacks and headed out with our Couples Besties (HA! still love that term) to have a fun day enjoying Marin County and San Francisco.

Our first agenda item: Hike Mt. Tamalpais. No big deal.

It was a nice leisurely, sunny drive to Mill Valley and we started our hike right next to a redwood shaded creek. The scenery was gorgeous and there are all sorts of neat homes in the area that look like modern (EXPENSIVE!) tree houses. It was kind of fun to imagine what it would be like to live there as we made our way into the woods.

Oddly enough the hardest part of the hike is basically right out of the gate. It’s 15 minutes of steady ascent, but it’s completely shaded and makes you feel like you are the only people on the trail. Katie kept saying Mt. Tam is the “air conditioned mountain” and I’ll tell you what, I was grateful because that first climb felt like a nice little Saturday WOD outside the CrossFit box. High intensity (and definitely constantly varied, HA!) When we got to the top I was basically a sweaty mess, but it felt great. Exercising outside is the best!

The rest of the hike was filled with tough hills mixed up with some mellower patches where we could visit and tell stories.

The hike took about 6 hours altogether but the views starting getting amazing in the first hour. Around every corner there was another peek of the ocean or the various bridges that cross the bay. And the entire time there was a cool breeze blowing.

Towards the top there is a paved path that leads to the summit trail and so Jeremy and I decided to run up it. I guess I was enjoying chatting too much though because I turned around to talk to Garrett and Katie behind us and ran right into a tree.

Awesome! Too bad I have no pictures of that. I’m sure the biker who was riding past me right as I did it (trying very hard not to laugh — nice of him) has a picture of that in his mind.

WHAT A KLUTZ! Sometimes I am a hazard to myself!

Once you hike (or drive) your way up to the top (CHEATERS!) the path to get to the summit is only about 1/3 of a mile. it’s a fun little trail through stairs and rocks and trees.

When we finally arrived, the view was TOTALLY worth it and we spent some time just relaxing and having a little snack and enjoying the fruits of our labor!

I, of course, had to climb some rocks and ham it up! And put on a jacket! Seriously, the mountain *IS* air conditioned. That is the way to hike, man.

It took a few more hours to make our way down the mountain, but once we did, there was only one thing on our mind: MEXICAN FOOD. We changed quickly and made our way to an adorable little taco place in town called Joe’s Taco Lounge where we regained our energy.

Marin county is just a hop, skip and jump from San Francisco so we took our full bellies across the Golden Gate and decided to have some tourist-y fun over in Ghirardelli Square. I can’t even remember the last time I crossed the Golden Gate! These two things are not particularly hip San Francisco things to do, but sometimes it is fun to be a tourist in your own backyard. And come on, Ghirardelli Square IS A PLAZA SURROUNDING A STORE FULL OF CHOCOLATE. I mean, after hiking all day, it was a no brainer!

Of course when we were done we had to grab an Irish Coffee (or two!) over at the Buena Vista, which is always a treat when we are in that area of the city. That place is always packed and overflowing with folks from out of town, but we managed to share a table with another couple who were also from Sacramento. Random!

All in all, it was such a great day!

And despite all of that coffee, we slept like babies that night. Weird. :)

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Weekender: South Lake Tahoe

A weekend on the south shore of Lake Tahoe was just what the doctor ordered. Although if you looked at the amount of crap we packed, it may have seemed like we were going for an entire week!
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Because we were driving up with friends, we brought just about everything you could imagine, along with a cart full of crappy indulgent weekend food from Trader Joe’s.
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If you are in the market for crappy indulgent weekend food, I need to personally recommend the Trader Joe’s Kettle Corn Cookies. Not only do the make a delicious (and completely wheat/sugar fueled snack – UGH!) but they pair quite well with a cup of coffee in the morning! Oh you all, this was not my finest display of healthy eating, but while we are talking food pairings…have you ever tried this?
Wine Pairing.
You should.

We got on the road Friday afternoon and had a quick and traffic-free ride up to the lake.
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We were stoked to leave the impending heat of Sacramento behind! It was supposed to be a long weekend of triple digit days back home, so seeing the pine trees, the lake, and the temperature rise only to about 85 degrees was welcome!

We checked in to our condo and then headed over to Garrett’s and my favorite Tahoe tradition: The Beacon Bar & Grill.
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Rum Runners + Calamari + Beach Side Dining make it a Must Do whenever we are in the area.

Saturday we were up early to cheer on our friends competing in the Fittest of the Sierras.
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There were three events and despite looking pretty standard, they were all pretty brutal to watch. Let’s just say more than once I thought to myself how happy I was to just be a spectator, I can’t even imagine COMPETING! :)
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We had a great turnout from our gym and all of our athletes did fantastic! I love these faces!
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You know what I also love at CrossFit competitions? The t shirts that everyone sports. Always good eye candy.
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CrossFit competitions are good for eye-candy in general, ahem.

In all seriousness though, yes, lots of super fit bodies doing amazing things is fun to watch, but honestly — what is really inspiring is just seeing EVERYONE out there doing their best! People of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels showing up to give 100%.

For each workout every athlete had their own little cheering section, and man if you could bottle the energy in the room during the last 60 seconds of each, with all the screaming and cheering fans — Red Bull would be out of business. It is really freaking emotional, and I will tell you sometimes it makes sensitive sallies like myself get a little misty!
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After the competition was over, all that cheering and hollering made me ready for a nap! But I rallied and headed down to the beach with some friends and it was GORGEOUS!
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I may have also spent some “quality” time reading. HAHA. That book, man. I don’t really get it yet.

After the beach, we all put our party pants on and got together for some BBQ and Duck Farts. Do you know about Duck Farts? I did not, let’s discuss: equal parts Khalua, Baileys and Crown Royal. You can shoot it from a glass, or you know, just squeeze it in your mouth. Your call.
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Either way: Delicious. It sort of tastes like coffee, oddly enough. And you know how I love coffee.

Despite having a celebratory Saturday, we were up and at ’em early Sunday to get home, which actually worked out pretty well. I got to grocery shop and do a little cooking before heading back to work this week. If you can believe it, even after a long and (not SUPER healthy, if I’m being honest) weekend, all I can think about is getting back into the gym. We had such a fun time!
This motley group of people we get to see day in and day out are inspiring, awesome, and most importantly tons fun!

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The lake, the competition, the food and the company were all top notch!
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I’m ready to go back — and to me, THAT is the sign of a good weekender!

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Day Trip: Sonoma

I have a new(ish) position at my job and it requires me to travel to Sonoma County somewhat regularly. I am not unhappy with this situation, as Sonoma is one of my FAVORITE PLACES EVER! Every time I’m in town I miss my grandma to pieces, but it does make me secretly happy that my cousin Jim and his fiance Gina live there now. It’s my own not-so-secret fantasy to live there someday. Hopefully that day will come sooner rather than later!

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I traveled with a coworker down there and we spent the entire time discussing cooking and menu planning and fun food and wine related excursions and I came home with a million and one ideas for more outings and day trips, including one to eat some Hog Island Oysters. That will definitely show up on the Summer Bucket List…..GAH! I’m so excited about that list. If Hog Island Oysters are good enough for Martha Stewart to rave about, then they are worth a trip, I think.

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We did a little bit of work and then we found ourselves needing to kill some time AND have lunch so we headed to the square in Sonoma for a little Vitamin D and some sustenance. We ended up at The Girl and The Fig and it was just as cute and delicious as you hear it is.

We started with a simple plate of heirloom radishes, garnished with grey salt and dipped in anchovy butter, and after my first bite I really could have just beat myself up right there for not planing my own radishes this year.

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I refrained so as not to shock all the linen-wearing Ladies who Lunch sitting nearby, but mark my words there will be a lot of radish eating in our house in the near future. I feel like Ina would be proud.

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After some hemming and hawing I settled on the Pork Belly Sandwich as my entree. You may recall I have a bit of a love affair with Pork Belly so that probably won’t come as a huge surprise, but it also did not disappoint.

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It showed up topped with a perfectly cooked friend egg on top and accompanied by frites with a delicious garlic chive aioli on the side. But if I’m being totally honest, what knocked my socks off the most?

The house made brioche.

You all, it was the kind of bread that dreams were made of. And when I cut into that egg yolk and it dripped down over the corners of the crusty pork and melted into the buttery brioche — FIREWORKS WENT OFF. I mean it was one helluva sandwich.

And besides being an awesome work day lunch, I feel like this meal even clarified my Food Philosophy even more. I get asked all the time if I will be Paleo forever, and the truth: Yeah, I think I will. It is the diet (NOUN, NOT A VERB) that makes me feel the best when I follow its framework. But will I never deviate? Of course not. I will. But when I eat something that doesn’t make me feel optimal (as yesterday’s lunch DID NOT, I was ready for a nap an hour later, had to pick up Emergency Caffeine for the ride home, after which I promptly skipped the gym and took an evening nap!) I want the experience to be worth it.

If I’m going to eat something that doesn’t make me feel great, it’s going to be Muther-effing House Made Brioche dripping in egg yolk and crispy pork on a Patio in Sonoma in the middle of the afternoon. It’s not going to be a Trader Joe’s Fat Free English Muffin, you know? FUHHHHGETTTABOUTIT.

So.

Awesome day trip. Check.
Successful day on the job. Check.
Beautiful Scenery. Check.
Amazing Meal. Check.
Great Conversation. Check.

All in a day’s work!

In Sonoma for work today. Not too shabby...

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The Rest of Portland

You are still sick from all of the Food Truck Food, aren’t you? I was too, and then we had to go to dinner at The Kennedy School. Nothing worse that being full and being forced to dine! But we made the best of it and bellied up to the bar and enjoyed a Negroni for Him and a Sazerac for Her.

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The Kennedy School is a blast. It’s a restaurant/hotel/theater/bar/all in one house of entertainment that is basically a remodeled old elementary school. The rooms are themed (“detention” is the cigar bar…sweet!) and despite the fact that we were still full from lunch, we did enjoy a nice meal. There were a number of parties related to SCAA going on, but most of us opted for a reasonable night in (HA!) because we had to get up early the next day.

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Saturday was GORGEOUS right from the start and the ladies headed off to the Women In Coffee Breakfast and then of course afterward we had to make a pit stop at VooDoo Doughnuts — I mean, we couldn’t let the boys at home starve right?
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If you think I look dorkily excited about donuts, you should have seen my aunt:
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HA! I love that picture.
I have to admit though, VooDoo was…only ok. I do enjoy a good donut, they are my personal kryponite actually, but the donuts there were just average. I’m sure I would probably get fired from the Food Network for saying that, but I’ve had better. SLO Donut Company, you still own the #1 spot in my heart!

After DonutGate 2012 — the afternoon ended up being pretty mellow. We got to enjoy some porch time at the house and to rest up for the mess of parties we were going to attend that night.
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A good amount of relaxation (ok and epic napping!) later, the entire crew ended up back at the house to fuel up before the parties:
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The first was hosted by Torani, (which is where my cousin’s fiance Gina works…Hi Gina!) and it was downtown at a hotel called The Nines. They have a gorgeous rooftop bar and we enjoyed the scenery, the cocktails and of course, the company!

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The party was a success, and so we moved on to the next one hosted by Monin.

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Another success full of tasty beverages and delicious looking food!

Our last stop — an Irish bar. You know what happens when your last stop of a cocktail filled evening is at an Irish bar, right? I’m pretty sure this photo says it all:
Ooooh. So that's why I have this giant headache. Got it.
It was at this Irish Bar that I learned a very valuable lesson though. Let me pass it on to you in case you ever need to know it: If you want to learn to Riverdance like a professional, you can either spend your entire life training with professionals, or you can pound a couple of pints of Guinness and request that the live band plays Shipping Up to Boston. The latter seemed to work swimmingly for our party. Valuable time saved.

You should have seen that dance floor! I’m sad I don’t have photos.

This was a fun stop, but at about 1:30 in the morning I turn into a pumpkin! So we headed home…um, I mean to the food trucks across the street and enjoyed a roast beef sandwich with FRENCH FRIES INSIDE OF IT. I just don’t know who thinks up these things, but at 1:30 am it felt like brilliance.
True.

We survived the night, headed to bed, and the next morning it was time to pack up and head home. We were sad to get on the plane, but it was time to get back to real life.
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This vacation, as fun as it was, really underscored how much I love the routine of my life. It’s fun to eat junk food, drink too much champagne and have good times with friends and family, but that will be the last time for a while that I really go crazy on my body. We’ve officially been home for a week and I am ALMOST feeling recovered. The Monday after we got home I immediately hit Coscto and threw everything green in that store into my cart.
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Whole foods, I’ve missed you!

It’s back to our scheduled programming around here starting tomorrow. It’s a new month (almost) and I have a whole new feeling of dedication towards making healthy choices and pushing my body to the limits in the gym, rather than at a food cart.

I’m looking forward to it!

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Portland Day Two – The Day With All Of The Eating

So the house is full of cocktails and enormous…this is where we left off, yes?
(BTW, want to rent this house yourself? I highly recommend it for a big group trip. Cozy beds, creature comforts and historic charm. Check out the VRBO listing if you’ll be in the area.)

Ok. Let’s carry on.

We enjoyed a few drinks and then headed down to the Opening Ceremonies of the SCAA Conference.
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It was held at the Oregon Convention Center which was about a mile away from our house. Over the next couple of days Garrett and I walked to and from the conference, and I have to say it was so nice to be in an area so walkable and also full of public transportation. Sacramento Suburbs — you could use a lesson or two!

That night we decided we needed to hit up some food trucks. Unfortunately between 8 people with 7 smart phones, we couldn’t seem to find our way there, so we ended up back at home ordering a pizza. WOMP WOMP! We woke up with high hopes for the food adventures the following day, and we were not disappointed.

Garrett and I squeezed in a workout the next morning while the rest of our crew took some classes.
Rainy run!
We had hoped to squeeze in a WOD at a local CrossFit box, but in the end a rainy run had to suffice. The neighborhood where we stayed is full of huge tree lined streets and beautiful historic houses, so it was awesome scenery and a fun run.
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We wandered down to a little coffee shop and enjoyed some pretty cappuccinos and then made our way back home to get ready for the day!
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We made it down to the Convention Center in time to check out some of the finalists in the United States Barista Championship. Did you know this was a thing? These people take their coffee very seriously — it’s a full contact sport.
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On a funny note though, the whole conference was a bit of a Hipsters Paradise. So many pairs of skinny jeans! Vests! Mustachioed men slurping espresso — it was a comedy sketch waiting to happen. Next year we decided we should all collaborate on a booth selling mustache wax. Obviously we would become overnight millionaires.

After watching the Barista Champions’ concoctions for a bit, we sampled all the Roaster’s Guild Coffees of the Year.
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There were some delicious options, all brewed using the pour over method — which we saw EVERYWHERE this weekend — and we drank them with abandon! But we learned quickly that Coffee Conventions are serious business and you have to pay attention to your body. It’s like wine tasting but with MORE CAFFEINE! By lunch, I *needed* to get some food in my system! We met up with our group, and all hopped on the train to head Food Truck Mecca, and you all — it was life changing. And I say that without an ounce of hyperbole.

It was an entire city block filled with gourmet food trucks. So many that we had to take a lap first to size up the situation. Garrett and I decided our strategy would be to get one of every thing we wanted, and then just split it. Our eyes…well…they were much much bigger than our stomachs, to say the least. What can I say, we enjoy the Go Big or Go Home attitude when it comes to culinary pursuits.

We started out small with a little Bacon Maple Waffle.
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Innocent. Delicious. An amuse bouche, if you will.

The we moved on to a hot bag of cinnamon sugar mini donuts while we decided on our next stop, just because they smelled good.
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Then we ran in to the rest of my cousins who were enjoying some Lamb Gyros — WHICH ARE MY FAVORITE — and they were gushing about how amazing they were in such a convincing manner that Garrett and I couldn’t pass those up, right?
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Nope, says Garrett. It’s a must.

But the piece de resistance — the entire reason we had come to this grouping of food trucks, were for the Pork Belly Sandwiches at The People’s Pig.
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They did not disappoint.

Delicious crispy pork belly on a ciabatta roll that was soft on the inside but with the perfect crustiness outside. Add some fennel pollen and arugula that was tossed with THE MOST DELICIOUS lemon vinaigrette, and you have one sandwich worth writing home about. I will recreate that vinaigrette all summer long, I’m sure of it. Get me to some arugula!
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A week later, I am still thinking about this sandwich.

And just because neither us have an self control at all, apparently, we followed it up with Banana Nilla Wafer Pudding from a BBQ cart. Why not, at that point?
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You are sick right now for us, aren’t you? As a group, at that point, we were mostly just blissed out!

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But a few hours later when we had to go out to a business-y dinner, we were NOT so blissed out thinking about food. But that story will have to come next, because I’m too full from looking at these photos to tell it.

I wasn’t joking when I said we went big on this vacay. A week later and we are still recovering. :) I hit up a workout this morning for the first time in a week and it was brutal! It’s so crazy how quickly you can get out of good habits, and how difficult it can be to get back on the horse.

While I definitely think it will be a while before we go crazy trying ALL THE FOOD like this again, I did enjoy the opportunity to taste so many diverse things over this weekend. I discovered Curtido, which I plan to make at home some time soon, I can’t wait to make some Gyro Salads in the future, and I may even try my hand at cooking my own Pork Belly.

Good food inspires me! I just have to figure out how to balance inspiration and…well, good health. This weekend was overwhelming in the inspiration department, not so much in the health department. Portland has a great coffee culture and a great food culture. I think if you love either of those things (AND WE DO!) it’s a town that can’t be missed.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about our awesome dining experience at The Kennedy School (so cute! and we DEFINITELY got detention!) and of course we’ll have to talk about VooDoo Doughnuts. DUH.

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Our Trip to Portland — Day One

As we flew back to Sacramento from Portland on Sunday night, Garrett looked over at me sleepy eyed and said “Man, it feels like we left our house months ago.” Even though we were only gone 4 days, so much happened while we were in Portland that it felt like a much longer vacation. If I’m going to tell you all about it, I think I should probably start from the beginning.

Why We Were There

So our trip up wasn’t solely for pleasure, there was actually a little bit of business mixed in. You see my aunts, Amy + Elizabeth, own a super awesome company that distributes specialty coffee & tea and related products. (Sidebar: It was actually my aunt Amy that got me first job in coffee when I was 16. More than that though, I stayed in the industry for over 10 years because she really taught me how to turn my love of coffee into an actual career. And then to top it all off, it’s where I met Garrett so you know: I owe her.)

They were taking their company (half of whom are my family members) up to Portland for the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s annual event. Since both Garrett and I have a long shared appreciation for Specialty Coffee (and since he still works in the industry) she invited us to go. And how could we say no! Family vacation, for the win!

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The Trip

We headed to the airport with smiles on our faces and our bags packed!

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I was so excited to throw a mess of magazines I had been wanting to read in my bag and just chill out for an hour with a cocktail and lounge on the plane. Unfortunately that’s not exactly how it went down.

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We had gotten to the airport about 90 minutes before our plane departed. I was kind of anxious about that because I’m the type of person who likes to be there with a couple of hours to spare. Judge away, I’m an annoying traveler!

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So since “we had time” and A-Boarding Passes at the ready for our Southwest Cattle Call, we decided to stop and get some lunch. The indulgent eating began with a little snack from a local favorite Burgers & Brew:

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They have an airport lounge and we grabbed our plates of yumminess and about 45 minutes before our scheduled departure (and only halfway into my burger) Garrett looked up and said “Uh…it says our plane is boarding right now.”

45 minutes before departure? WTF, Southwest?

We dumped our burgers in kind of a panic and headed over there and sure enough, our gate was totally empty. The entire plane had boarded. We were the last two people on the plane basically and had to squeeze in to crappy middle seats nowhere near each other and then SIT IN A SWELTERING PLANE FOR 45 MINUTES until we took off.

It was not a happy way to start a trip.

Luckily my seat neighbor took pity on me and handed over a drink coupon, which I promptly redeemed for a gin and tonic.

The Arrival

90 minutes later though, we were in Portland and there was no sign of sweltering heat!

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So we hopped in a rain soaked cab and headed to our house in the Irvington District.

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When we arrived, we were floored to see our digs:

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It was a 5500 square foot historic mansion with three stories. There were 10 of us staying there and by the time we arrived it was stocked full of cocktails and good conversation and we were ready to get the weekend started. If this house was to be any indicator, we’d be living large and indulging over the next four days.

And spoiler alert: We Were Correct.

I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you about the SCAA Event, the food we ate, and the craziness that ensued over the weekend!

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