Category Archives: Travel Diaries

Central Coast Eats + Drinks

We headed down to the Central Coast last weekend to celebrate my good friend Sarah’s 30th Birthday. She and her other half, Nick, have recently gotten engaged so we may have clinked a glass or two for that as well! For those of you who don’t live in California, the Central Coast is absolutely the best! It’s not quite Northern California but not quite Southern California, and it’s chock full of wineries, hilly scenery, gorgeous ocean views and most importantly — fantastic weather in February! If you ever have the chance to visit: MAKE IT HAPPEN. We hung out for four days, which definitely wasn’t long enough and of course, we ate our way through the long weekend away because well…this is what we do when we go on vacation.

It’s a 5 hour road trip from Sacramento, so we got started fairly early with a good play list and brunch at In-n-Out. That brunch included some seriously delicious Protein-Style/Animal-Style Double Doubles which is really the only way to roll in my humble opinion. Then it was onto the drive.

We got into town with just a few minutes to spare and met up with Nick to do a workout over at CrossFit Five Cities.
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Yes we did plan a WOD on our vacation because we are crazy like that! It was actually a total blast until I bit it doing a box jump and basically tore up my left shin. You’re welcome for not taking a picture of that. 10 days later it is still black and blue and mising a major chunk. Worst CrossFit injury to date and perhaps not the nicest way to start a vacation, but when we got home Sarah had made us the best looking Cobb Salads ever and I’ll tell you what, that *IS* a great way to start a vacation.
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I feel like I should also mention that this entire weekend of eating and drinking and general debauchery? Sarah’s fiance Nick was only drinking juice. He is in the middle of a 60 day Juice Fast (SIXTY DAYS!!!!!) and his restraint is now officially something of legend. So throughout this entire post where I detail our ridiculous gorging, just imagine Nick drinking only this:
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He is documenting his “Life Reboot” daily on You Tube so check out his channel if you are interested in that journey. Holy Heck he is one dedicated gentleman! You’re over halfway through Nick — you can see the finish line!

Saturday morning we were up bright and early to run a local 5K at the birthday girl’s request. And you know the rules: what the birthday girl wants, the birthday girl gets.
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We laced up our shoes and set off on what was (for me) the most challenging 5K I have ever run. We ran about a mile through a residential area and then all of a sudden we were at the bottom of a little hilled trail and the only way to go was up. SUPER CHALLENGING, but it also made me want to start running more trails because it was so fun! I finished the 5K in just over 38 minutes which was a minute longer than my Thanksgiving 5K PR, but since it was about a mile up some steep ass hill, I’ll take it!

The we showered up and headed out for a day of wine tasting that we had most definitely earned! Our first stop was Tobin James Cellars and we left with a case of wine and good buzz, which is always a good sign.

If you ever find yourself in the Paso Robles Wine Country, definitely make this one of your first stops and try their signature cocktail, the Tobin-tini. It’s sparkling wine mixed with their one of their late harvest Zin’s and I wasn’t really sold on it just hearing about it, but once I tasted it? It was LOVE! If you have dessert at my house any time in the next few months it will surely be on the menu.

Next we headed to Penman Springs Vineyard, which is such a gem of a winery a little bit off the beaten path. I mean how can you not love a winery who has piano players, puzzles and homemade Grand Marnier Nutella? You just can’t.

We didn’t want to go crazy buying wine but we could not leave this artisan winery without a few bottles — we were very impressed! Plus they had all sorts of delicious little treats to sample so we may have also made it home with some garlic-basil grapeseed oil that I plan to use all summer long with the tomatoes from my garden. My mouth is watering just thinking about how amazing that’s going to be!

The third stop was Clautiere Vineyards, and while the grounds were delightful, their wines unfortunately were not. Also, they charge a tasting fee which isn’t too common down in the Paso area. We were mostly unimpressed. The only reason I would recommend this as a stop though is that they have crazy wigs in their tasting room and if there is anything more fun than hanging with your buzzed friends trying on different wigs, well I’m not sure what it is. Go for the wigs, not the wine and you won’t be disappointed.

Also, if you are lucky you will run into a gentleman like this one, which I was laughing about for most of the afternoon.
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Finally it was time to eat, so we made our way to Sculpterra Winery & Sculpture Garden for a picnic and some tasting. They have all sorts of crazy sculptures on their grounds if you feel like taking some wacky pictures.

Plus a lovely patio for having some munchies with a big or small group. It also may be a great patio for shotgunning beers, or so I’ve heard. We kept it real classy that afternoon.
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Their wines are on the pricey side, but the tasting was impressive so I would definitely recommend a stop there if you are looking for some investment wine or just a nice place to eat.

Our last stop of the day was at Veris Cellars who win the day because they not only have awesome sparkling wines but also a driving range on site.

We hung out while the sun was setting and then of course decided on the next place we would stop: To Eat. It was that kind of weekend. We ended up at Downtown Brew in Paso Robles and you will just have to use your imagination since I did not snap a photo of the Largest Plate of Carnitas Nachos Ever. You are full already with all this eating aren’t you? Don’t worry, our next stop involved only drinking when we grabbed a night cap at Dunbar Brewing Company in Santa Margarita — a tiny little hole in the wall craft brew pub that only serves 2 brews per night or a bottle of Miller High Life: Take your pick.

After all of that, it was time to call it a night.

Sunday we adventured all over San Luis Obispo County but food-wise the highlights were definitely the Breakfast Burritos at Rudy & Angie’s in Grover Beach.

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I think “Size of Your Head” sums it up nicely. And again, may I remind you — Nick is still patiently drinking vegetable juice, in case you forgot.

We ran some errands (including checking out the Jason Wu for Target launch, which I was sadly unimpressed with) and then made our way to San Luis Obispo to try the SLO Donut Company, where I experienced the life changing event of eating a Nutella Donut. I will never be the same again.

I wish I could tell you this place was over-hyped, but man was it delicious. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned but donuts are my personal kryptonite. The smell alone in that place was INTOXICATING. Kind of the theme of the weekend, methinks!

The following day it was time to get back on the road. While we were sad to leave good friends, it was time to get back to a little more normal and a little less indulging! I think if you are going to deviate from your routine, you might as well go hog wild, and go hog wild we did!

There have been lots of salads in my life lately, that is for sure!

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Do you eat your way through a vacation, or are you more the sight seeing type?

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I Love These Ladies Like A Love Song, Baby

I think we can all agree that if one cannot find the energy to recap a weekend until a Wednesday, it was a very good weekend, yes?

A very good weekend, indeed!

As a consolation for the fact that I had to back out of The Blathering this year (WEEP!), I invited AndreAnna and Liz to come play for the weekend, and play we did!

AndreAnna arrived Thursday and I’m pretty sure we didn’t stop talking until we realized it had slowly turned into The Middle of the Night and if we wanted to actually make it through the next day, we needed to go to bed IMMEDIATELY.

Friday morning, you know we had to workout.
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AndreAnna was one of those people who made me feel like I could maybe, possible, hopefully, actually survive CrossFit — so the weekend could not go by without us actually busting out a WOD side by side. Fun times! In order to balance out the bad-assery of our morning we headed out to get manis and pedis and then OBVIOUSLY shopped until we dropped.

Friday night Liz rolled into town and we wasted no time — no passing go or collecting $200 — it was time for cocktails and some fireside chat!

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And some fireside double unders, which also go well with cocktails in case you are wondering. If you haven’t tried to jump rope a bit tipsy in flip flops, I dare say you haven’t lived. Also: I need one of these magic jump ropes STAT!

You would think this would be the point in the evening where Garrett would say to himself, “WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING IN MY HOUSE?” but honestly, I think he was a smitten kitten, and could not have been more entertained by the three of us goofing around. I mean AndreAnna kept him in stitches, and within about 5 seconds of meeting him Liz dropped some serious Formula One knowledge on him, so it is safe to say that Garrett ALSO loves them like a love song.

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Saturday we headed out to Sonoma in search of the quintessential California Combo of wine and cheese. I mean, it’s kind of a must, right? The plan was to grab some sandwiches at The Sonoma Cheese Factory but first we had to stop over at Swiss Hotel for some Glarifees.

(Thank you Gina for turning me on to these a few years ago — they have changed my life and I’m sure now AndreAnna and Liz would say the same!)

What the hell is a Glarifee? Imagine the best Irish Coffee you have ever had, but more foamy and delicious and ICED! And there you will have it. It is worth it, and if you are ever in the are, it is a MUST TRY. Trust me on this one.

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Of course we eventually got our sandwiches. I have like 5000 version of this same picture and every single time it tastes even BETTER than it looks. I’m not too much of a bread eater anymore, but there are just some things for which there are no substitute and a sandwich at the Sonoma Cheese Factory is one of them.

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Then it was off to Sebastiani Winery, and I’ll give you one guess as to what we did there.

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A quick stop for some “dinner” on the way home and we were ready to hit the town.

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(Why yes, this did end up proving to a be a poor choice for “dinner” prior to a night out, thanks for noticing. Rookie Mistake.)

Saturday night found us out at Faces, which I have to say after 10 years of living here in Sacramento is still the best place for a night out that includes cheezy pop, ridiculous rooms to dance in, strong drinks and hot gay men go-go dancing on the bars. We put on our fancy clothes and headed out to enjoy JUST THAT!

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Of course a few cocktails later we may not have looked quite so pulled together, but still having a blast!

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Sunday morning required A LOT of coffee, a greasy breakfast at Tower Cafe, and a good amount of time couching. I mean where else were we going to brainstorm theories of why Selena Gomez is so cute and Demi Lovato looks so bootsy, even though they are the same age? Deep thoughts, you know. WE HAD LOTS.

I think that was the best part of this weekend, looking back. It’s fun to be able to email and tweet and facebook and text, but there is nothing quite like sitting on your couch shoveling pizza in your mouth with no shame. Or booty shaking to Robyn in the living room. Or dropping blenders full of margaritas on the patio and being able to do little more than laugh hysterically.

These are the moments that you can’t have while sitting at a computer all day, and I feel so lucky that we got to have an entire weekend full!

These are my people.

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And this WAS my blender. RIP (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!)

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And it was TOTALLY WORTH IT!

XO

The rest of the weekend photos are here if you’d like to have a look. Half naked go-go dancers is all I’m saying. HALF NAKED GO-GO DANCERS.

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Weekend Recap, Because I Have NO IDEA What’s For Dinner This Week.

Many moons ago — you know, when I was in my early 20s — I used to have to be at work by 5am regularly. Being the socializer I was, I often went out the night before and somehow made it to work bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to take on the day. This ability is no longer my reality.  In fact I packed so much into this weekend that when my alarm went off this morning I couldn’t figure out if my radio was playing music or if I had been hit by a truck and the sound I heard was angels singing.  Then I realized it was Bon Jovi on the radio and while it is many things, Wanted: Dead or Alive isn’t quite what I would call a Pearly Gate Anthem.  And my day began.
You all, I am TIRED.
I realize that all of you with adorable babies and multiple children are probably rolling your eyes and thinking Holly, you don’t know tired – so I won’t make this a post about trying to one up your fatigue. Instead I will show you some pictures and tell you some random things and we will call it a post for the sake of documentation, mmm kay?

For starters I spent the weekend checking a few more things off my summer bucket list  so you know despite my tiredness I am sublimely happy.  Friday my mom came out to visit for the weekend. She actually lives close by, but we both had similar errands to run and we were going to the same party on Saturday so we just made a weekend out of it. It was basically a girls weekend + Garrett.  You know he loved it.  
My mom can shop with the best of them, and Friday we did just that. After a crazy intense workout Friday morning, we headed out for most of the day to take care of business.  Taking care of business with my mom always involves at least one trip to Target where we A to Z every aisle in the store.  This is dangerous and while I love it, I do not recommend it if you are trying to save money.  My mom is a fantastic shopping enabler!  By the time we got home on Friday night we had just enough energy to have some dinner with Garrett, during which my mom got a long overdue lesson about the strategy of Formula One racing, we did a little prep work for the brunch I was hosting on Sunday, and then we all headed to sleep.
On Saturday morning we woke up early and I got to check my first item off the Summer Bucket List: Have a picnic in the Plaza in Sonoma.  My cousin Jim’s birthday was on Sunday so the bulk of my family met up in Sonoma at Sebastiani to eat and celebrate because that is how we roll.  Ok, truth be told we didn’t picnic in the Plaza, but my mom and I did get to see the plaza, because that was where we got sandwiches.  Qucik PSA: The ONLY proper sandwich choice when picnicking up in wine country is The Sonoma Cheese Factory.  They make the kind of sandwiches that God would make if heaven were a deli. Paleo diet be damned, when in Sonoma there must be sandwich consumption. I believe that is written in the epilogue of The Bible.
Then we headed over to have a picnic at a winery so I’m just going step in and call that close enough — CHECK!  I seriously LOVE chilling with my family.
There was lots of wine drinking and baby squeezing and joke-cracking that afternoon. It was a fun, yet too short, visit with my family. All the photos are here if you enjoy that business.
Unfortunately Garrett had to work and miss out on the Saturday afternoon fun which was a bummer, but when we got home he went all out and put together an impromptu scotch/whiskey/bourbon tasting for the three of us while I did a few more things to prep for my brunch.  I don’t even like any sort of brown liquor, quite frankly, but I highly recommend comparative tasting.  That’s probably the coffee/wine geek in me, but it was so much more fun to taste the differences between all the different types rather than just drink a glass of brown stuff.  My favorite at the end of the tasting?
Who knew?  Never thought I would enjoy scotch on purpose.
Saturday night Garrett suggested we bust out some old family movies and all watch them together and if you guessed that this melted my mama’s little heart, then you guessed correctly. That Garrett knows just how to get brownie points, so the 3 of us stayed up way too late laughing and reminiscing about old family stories. Also, about how awful the fashion was in the 90s. I turned off those videos with no clear understanding of what purpose the mock-turtleneck served, and with extreme wonder surrounding why people ever wore matching sweatsuits. Awful, really really awful.
Sunday morning again came too quick, and my mom headed out because she babysits my little cousin Chelsea on Sundays and Mondays. After a whirlwind of a weekend my mom was off to baby wrangle. It’s a good thing I made a huge pot of coffee because you can tell by the look on her face that this little chicky doesn’t want to sit still for long. My mom needed all the caffeine she could get:
After she took off, I checked another thing of the Bucket List: Have a dinner party in my backyard before it gets sweltering. Except I didn’t actually have dinner, I had a brunch, but I’m just going to call it complete anyway because Bobby Brown told me that was my prerogative. CHECK! Since Sacramento is always sweltering I thought my best bet for getting to eat outside was to do breakfast instead of dinner. Sarah, Elizabeth, Amy and Elisabeth came over and I would show you a picture of that lovely afternoon except I didn’t take a single one!  I think that is the sign of good conversation if you can get 5 women in a room who document their lives via blog and not a single one busts out a camera.  Either that, or they thought my tablecloth was ugly.  I’m going to hope for the former.  
We had lots of coffee, cocktails and food — so much food actually that I forgot to even serve the bacon I had cooked.  And no Garrett and I didn’t have bacon for dinner, why would you even think that?????  Actually we didn’t ONLY have bacon, there was also blueberry cake too.  We like to make sure we get in some fruit, you know?  
By the time evening rolled around I basically only had enough energy to play fashion police on the couch while watching my DVR.  For example — WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE:
After contemplating that I was obviously too exhausted to do much else besides go to bed.  And now we are back to the grind on a Monday.  How does that even happen?
How did you enjoy your weekend, peeps?

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A Central Coast Weekend

I mentioned last week that we took a quick road trip down to the Central Coast before our big New Mexico adventure.  My old roommate and good friend Sarah lives down there now so we packed our bags, hopped in the car, and headed down to spend the weekend with her and her boyfriend Nick.  Aren’t they cute?  And such good hosts, those two!

 

We drove down Friday morning, though if I were making a recommendation I would insist you go down on a Thursday night.  The San Luis Obispo Farmers’ Market is a fairly legendary and everyone should stroll up and down the streets looking at the shops, perusing the local produce and smelling the BBQ at least once.  

Speaking of legendary, we ended up enjoying a late dinner on Friday at Jocko’s in Nipomo, which has not only its own local history but perhaps the best beans in town.  Garrett has a minor obsession with these beans, and I say minor to be polite.  Every time we head down to visit Sarah Little Jocko’s is one of our last stops on the way out of town so we can pick up a gallon To Go.  Yes, I said a gallon.  And sometimes we even make it home with some beans.  Jocko’s has a giant oak fired grill outside that you can smell a mile away and the menu is full of the kind of grilled deliciousness that one can only replicate over a wide open fire.  Everything we ordered was awesome, and so was everything that the people who sat next to ordered, seeing as they made us pass over our forks for bites of their pork chops.  It’s just that kind of place, you know?

Saturday, after recovering from our meat hangover and a wild morning enjoying the 80 degree weather at the dog park (yeah, we get crazy on vacation, what?) we headed up to San Luis Obispo to do some shopping and some Olive Oil Tasting.  I was on a mission to find the perfect red lipstick and an olive oil that I want to eat with a spoon.  As for the former, I’m still searching.  As for the latter, our stop at We Olive on Higuera St left me with not only a wealth of information about the different types of oils (love: buttery/fruity oils, hate: peppery oils) but a bag full of goodies as well.  I left with a new olive oil that’s good enough to drink, a golden balsamic vinegar, and a blackberry roasted red pepper vinegar.  My salads will never be the same again.  I am still dreaming about the fig balsamic vinegar that we tasted (drizzled over cream cheese with crackers…how good does that sound?!?) and I think the next time we are down there it may have to come home with me.   It is one of those stores that has a sample of almost everything so even if olive oil isn’t your bag, I’m sure there is a bruschetta or tapenade with your name on it. After our shopping and people watching extravaganza we had a late lunch at Firestone Grill, watched some football and called it a night — which is the best part of visiting a good friend — not having to be going, going, going every single minute!  

Sunday we got up and had a lazy breakfast at Cowgirl Cafe where Garrett discovered his other new obsession — The Pepper Plant hot sauces.  We may have picked up a few bottles of the habanero sauce on our way out of town.  In general I stay away from most habanero things, but I have to agree with Garrett that this particular sauce would be a great way to spice up bloody marys and now I’m just looking for an excuse to make some.  Because the weather continued to be beautiful we packed up the truck full of bikes and headed over to the Bob Jones Bike Trail for an afternoon ride down to Avila Beach.  I think we made a pretty cute bike gang if I do say so myself!  

It was a gorgeous day and of course the beach was packed!  I kept having to pinch myself because, hello — it was JANUARY.  

We dipped our toes in the water, looked at the shops along the boardwalk, and then of course rewarded ourselves for all that hard work with some waffle cones!  

I mean how could you not, right?

Post ice cream, we hopped back on our bikes and rode out to Port San Luis where we may have had a few cocktails and appetizers because man can not bike on ice cream alone!  It’s all about staying nourished, my friends.  

That evening after biking home we rewarded ourselves with a soak at Sycamore Mineral Springs.  Along with the Thursday SLO Farmer’s Market, I have to say this is an absolute must to complete the perfect Central Coast weekend.  These tubs are nestled on a hillside, piping hot, and totally relaxing.  It’s a relatively inexpensive treat, and after a day of biking to the beach, it was just what the doctor ordered.

Monday morning we headed out early to make the journey back home.  After stopping for beans (of course!) Garrett and cruised through San Luis one last time and took a little trip down memory lane.  I wanted to go by my old Starbucks stomping grounds since that was my first real job in college and Garrett wanted to cruise by the house where his buddy lived when he was in college.  Good memories in both spots (but let me tell you I am sure that house did NOT look like that when it was full of college boys renting, if the stories Garrett tells are any indicator!)

We took the scenic route home, stopped by two bookstores that we love, and made it home just in time to repack our suitcases, sleep for a bit, and catch a plane to New Mexico.  It was a whirlwind weekend but totally worth it.  It was full of old friends and new, beautiful scenery, and tons of fun.  Just the way a road trip should be, dontcha think?

The rest of the photos are here if you are interested.  


 

     

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I’m Baaaaaaaaack

So we are back from our Great Road Trip That Wasn’t!

Oh, hadn’t I mentioned that?  Yes, we ended up having to scrap The Great Southwest Road Trip of 2011.  Well, sort of.  

(And it wasn’t for any lack of fabulous suggestions mind you, because many of you got a A+ when it came to making recommendations for that trip and I thank you for that.  They are stored in my little idea book for the future!)

The short story is that the whole thing ended up being much more complicated (read: expensive) than we originally anticipated.  Especially when you are trying to drive SUV rentals over 2 state lines.  We were Last Minute Larrys about the whole thing and in the end we realized that we were looking to drive about 2900 miles in 5 days (we wanted to make sure we had about 5 days to spend with The Parents before flying home) and after that realization the trip just started looking more like a comedy of errors and less like a vacation.  We ended up just buying plane tickets to New Mexico and hanging with Garrett’s parents for 6 of those 10 days instead, and can I tell you — buying last minute plane tickets saved us like $1,000 compared to renting a car (not to mention all that time) so seriously — YOU ARE RIDICULOUS, RENTAL CAR COMPANIES!  But that is another story for another time.  

For the 4 day weekend that preceded our New Mexico adventure, we ended up scratching the Road Trip Itch by driving down to the Central Coast to visit with my good friend Sarah which turned out to be a fantastic idea.  There were scenic drives, ice cream at the beach, steaks and sunshine, bike gangs and olive oil tastings.  I mean, it basically had all the fantastic things you need for a fun mini-weekend getaway.  We took a scenic route home that included trips to two different bookstores, repacked our suitcases, slept for a few hours and then flew our tired tookuses out to New Mexico.   

The sacrifice of flying there for 6 days was that we ended up having to save the northern part of the state for our next trip (Oh Taos, I will see you one day!)  Since Garrett’s parents live about 3 hours South of the Albuquerque Airport we concentrated our exploration in the Southeast part of the Southwest.  It was a more relaxed trip than we would have had trying to do all that driving so in the end I’m so glad we made that decision.  I guess I am getting old because there is just something so alluring about a vacation where you just get to go home.  Even when it’s not your home.  Having Garrett’s parents cook for us, laying around and chit chatting in person instead of on the phone, reading books, hiking and playing with the animals was just awesome.  And we even squeezed in some touristy things to boot, which I will totally tell you all about once I have the energy to upload the pictures.  
 
Obviously we are still in the recovery phase of vacationing you know?  Monday was all about getting back to work and just surviving (Note to self:  Stop schedule flights that land at 10pm on Sunday night when you have to go to work Monday morning.)  Yesterday afternoon our house turned into a ceremonious post-vacation laundry jungle, and last night I went to the Grocery Store around 9:30 and absolutely filled my cart to overflowing levels because otherwise we were going to be eating toothpicks and wilted spinach for breakfast today.  Though I was smugly proud of going through all of our perishables before we left, our kitchen was a bit post-apocalyptic when we got home, which was inconvenient since we immediately jumped back into CrossFit and started our Half Marathon Training.  Obviously, it was only a matter of time before we starting eating each other. 

Even though it was freezing ass cold last night I diligently looked at my weekly grocery sale papers, created a menu plan and made a grocery list.  Of course then I got to the eerily deserted store last night (duh! It was almost 10 at night!) and realized that all of the sales that I had just carefully ogled didn’t actually start until TODAY.  Which, really? Is such a rookie mistake.  The upside is I did manage to make it home with some food so we are no longer eyeballing each other post workout like those scary cannibal gangs in The Road

So ANYWAY, this is my long winded way of saying Hello!  I’m back!  I can’t wait to sit down and chat and tell you about my adventures!  But a girl has got to catch her breath a minute and since Garrett is having dinner with a friend tonight, I plan to spend the evening ignoring The Internet and making out with my DVR if that’s alright with you?  I hope you will forgive me but I may just go a little crazy if I don’t confirm that Camille Grammar is still a nut-job.  We all have our quirks. 

It feels good to be home.  

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Greetings from Deserts of New Mexico …

…where we are hanging out with:


5 horses
10 Chickens
15 Goats
4 Cats
1 Dog


Oh, and also?  Garrett’s parents.  


The weather has been lovely and cooperative (clear skies with absolutely crisp air) but the elevation has done a number on us and we’ve literally been sleeping 12 hours a night like drunken teenagers.  


His parents have a ranch on 200 acres out in the middle of nowhere the state and it has been peaceful and full of adventure all at the same time.  Today I got a lesson on guns.  I’m hoping there isn’t a test later because I will fail miserably, but it has been fun learning the paces of a totally different lifestyle.  I feel like Pioneer Woman but less internet famous.  


It’s been a blast.  When I have the patience to upload some pics I will, but out here in the Wild West the internet is dial up, so don’t hold your breath.  Hope you all are having great weeks as well!

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The Travel Bug Has Bitten

Because I love clean cut beginnings and endings, and mostly because I love to do big picture planning, the end of the year always appeals to me.  For the same reasons Mondays actually appeal to me also, but I know I am slightly in the minority on that, so let’s forget about that for a minute.  I think this makes sense to a lot of people — the love for planning, but in practice I am slightly crazy at the end of the year, just ask Garrett.  I have been following him around for last couple of weeks talking about our 2011 travel plans and he keeps looking at me like, “Woman, can we get through Christmas already?” 

BUT WHAT ABOUT ALL THE TRAVEL DEALS THAT ARE PASSING US BY???  

Anyway, we have a few trips that we have already agreed upon, plus a wishlist that I’m just putting out to the Universe in case it wants to drop some fabulous opportunity in my lap or something.    

January — The Great Southwest Road Trip 2011

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Since Garrett is back working the retail circuit, vacay in November and December is not an option.  His parents live on a ranch in New Mexico though and we really want to go see them.  I’ve never been to there house in the 5 years we’ve been dating if you can believe that?!?  So we’ve finally marked off two weeks in January to road trip our way out there, spent some quality time, and then fly home.  I’m really looking forward to it.  We are currently planning tentative stops in central/so-cal, and Arizona (his grandma lives there) plus 5 or 6 days in NM with the parentals.  I’m pretty excited about it seeing as I’ve never been to either state ever!  I’m definitely down for some suggestions of places to stop so if you have any let me know.

May — Playa del Carmen, Mexico with Garrett and his friends

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The boys are planning this one and I’m just showing up, which could be genius or a total nightmare.  I’m thinking it will be genius though and am getting pretty excited.  Mexico is another place I’ve never really been (Tijuana soooo doesn’t count!)  Also, it has been great workout motivation, if nothing else.  Can’t wait to be lying on a Carribbean beach with a giant drink in hand hanging out with fun people that know how to have a good time! 

August — San Diego for the BlogHer?

Right now this is a maybe.  It’s so close so I feel like I should go, but honestly the thought of a million people I don’t know is sort of socially overwhelming.  Are you going?  Tell me you are going.  It will make me feel much better.  Besides I have gone to San Diego every year for the last 3 or 4 years, so it’s kind of A Must, I think or I may have withdrawals.

Fall 2011 — The Blathering, Austin TX
Both Garrett and I are OBSESSED with going to Austin, so I will have to figure out how the two of are going to travel there together plus have a girls weekend.  It can happen, I’m sure of it. 

Probable other trips with no determined time:
Seattle Again — Seattle and I fell in love at first sight and I am convinced we must return! 
Portland — why not just squeeze it in with another Pacific Northwest adventure?

Trips to find time for (and hey,  money!  Universe do you hear me?): 
Boston — How have I not been here yet?
Maui Again — I know nothing will compare to the first time, but I would really like to get back there again for some beaching and frosty umbrella drinks. 

Where do you want to go in 2011?
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The Blathering: Part Deux

So Chicago?  Was a MAJOR whirlwind.  I truly can’t believe that less than a week ago I hopped on a plane and flew halfway across the country to hang out with a few people that I had met once before, and some that I had never met at all.  Does that sound strange to you?  Because when I actually write it down it sounds strange to me.  But in reality, it made so much sense it was scary. 

About a week before the trip I started telling friends and co-workers that I was going to Chicago to hang out with my “friends inside the computer” when they asked about my trip.  We’d all have a little chuckle but there would always be a pause because, “Wait…what? Was she serious?” 

Yes, totally serious. 

But you see, that’s the thing about the blogging and the internet — if you’re not that into it, it kind of does seem totally strange and abnormal — like football or boxing or Snooki.  But when you really get into it — it totally makes perfect sense.  For me, I think my attitude about blogging and the internet all changed at The Blathering last year. 

I’ve been blogging since 2006, and reading blogs since, well..forever, it seems.  Being a person who loves to write, it’s just kind of hobby that makes sense to me.  But I had never really embraced “the culture of blogging.”  Yes, I know that was a totally douchey phrase.  What I mean is I had never gone to BlogHer, I wasn’t dying for Dooce to send me a tweet,  I didn’t consider Maggie Mason my mentor.  I was just a blogger, I wasn’t a Blogger…you  know?  And then along came The Blathering – 2009.  Being that it was in Sacramento, I told myself that I was just meeting up with some other writers in my hometown, no biggie.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Sure it was a bit anxiety inducing, but I was mostly in my comfort zone.  I was at home and if it was awful I could just hop back in my car and drive back to my house rolling my eyes at all the weirdos I left behind.  But then, the exact opposite happened.  

Every single person that I met in Elizabeth’s backyard last Fall was a delight, and after that weekend, opening my Reader and following the happenings of all of their lives last year made me absolutely fall in love with the way this silly blogging community connects people.  It’s more than stats and traffic, drama and popularity.  It is extraordinary people living ordinary lives and sharing their stories with each other, something that happens so infrequently in our busy everyday lives.  Really sharing.  It tugs at my heart strings a little when I think about all of the experiences and changes that this small group of women went through this past year, and I feel overwhelmed with gratitude that I got to be a part of it all just because of this little blog right here. 

So this year, when the opportunity presented itself to buy a stupidly expensive plane ticket to Chicago, and fly half way across the country to spend a weekend with people I didn’t know at all in the hopes that there would be that thing — that intangible element of humanity and friendship and connection that writing this blog has introduced me to before — I obviously jumped at the chance.  And because I did, I met some delightful, intelligent, hysterical, and exciting ladies whose lives I cannot wait to watch unfold this year.  Friends that I’m excited to share my own stories with.  Women who I know will provide fantastic advice.  Ladies who I know will cheer me on through the highs and lows of this coming year — and for which I hope to do exactly the same.  

So as much as The Blathering was about this past weekend — eating deep dish pizzas, navigating public transportation, searching for the perfect pair of jeans on Michigan Avenue, having late night conversations in bars listening to David Bowie, drinking one too many cocktails, laughing until my stomach hurt over the stories of our lives — what makes me the most excited is the future.  Where will we all go?  What will we do?  How will our lives be different a year from now? 

What will happen because of this one strange weekend with a bunch of friends from inside the computer? 

I’m so incredibly lucky that I get to find out.

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Out of Office Reply

I know I’ve been a blogging slacker lately but after this weekend, that will all change I’m sure.  I’m off to The Blathering this weekend in Chicago for 48 hours of fun and fabulousness, and aside from the fact that my plane leaves in about 12 hours and I haven’t packed, I couldn’t be more excited. 

See ya on the flipside!


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Ask And You Shall Receive

Wasn’t I just bitching that I wanted some inspirational resources about improving my writing?  I opened my Reader this morning and found this:  60 Tips to Improve Your Non Fiction Writing

I’ve been dying to get back to doing some yoga and today’s Deal Ticket and Living Social Deal were both Yoga-centric.  (Though neither really worked out for me, I thought it was kind of a coincidence!)

Lately I’ve been trying to sell Garrett on the idea of getting bikes.  Not fancy bikes, just fun bikes — we LOVE riding bikes yet we don’t actually own bikes and I just think that’s ridiculous, hence my prodding.  Today, I got an email from my old roommate that she is sending her old mountain bike up with her brother who is coming into town and he’s going to drop it off at my house!  Hooray for giving away stuff you aren’t using!  

Wanna join our bike gang?  We are pretty fierce?
(This picture is actually a picture from a biking wine tour with friends and family in Sonoma and while I’m doing some asking I’d just like to say right now, Universe, that I’d like another one of those, ok?)
I’ve been having a bit of wanderlust but bemoaning the fact that everything costs SO! MUCH! MONEY! but it turns out I have to do a bit of traveling for work and Garrett and I may turn that into a long weekend in Yosemite.  Also we are trying to plan sometime to go see his parents who live in New Mexico and all of a sudden it hit me — Southwest Roadtrip, maybe?  A car rental, overnights with friends, and some downtime with parentals sound like a pretty affordable getaway, no?  Plus I keep forgetting that I am going to Chicago in November!  Well, not really forgetting, but now that it’s getting closer it just seems so exciting!  Wanderlust, I will tame you.   
It feels so nice when things in life just align, you know?  Just wanted to take a minute to document my gratitude!
And of course brainstorm for some badass things to ask for — what do you wish the Universe would drop in your lap?

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