Spring Break 2013.

In hindsight, I should have done a lot less “having fun” and “relaxing” and “spring cleaning” and a lot MORE  “studying” and “prepping for midterms” over my Spring Break…… but alas, I cant turn back time and change that.

The good news is, I had a great, fun, and productive week anyway (regardless of what my midterm grades were).

Here’s a peek into my Spring Break thanks to Instagram:

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coffee. lots and lots of coffee.

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baking. lots of baking.

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I tried out FoodBabe’s Decadent Pound Cake with Chocolate Frosting… which is now a new favorite in our household.

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spent two different days in Laguna Beach with my brother. It truly is a peaceful and fabulous place.

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Laguna Coffee Co = amazing.

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Ziggy loves the beach.. and the City of Laguna Beach is extremely dog friendly.

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I spent a little time day-dreaming of a beautiful home on the beach.

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love brother & sister days of fun.

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checked out the new Stone Company Store in Oceanside… fantastic dog friendly patio!

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and made lots of yummy & healthy breakfasts since I wasnt have to dart out of the house to get to class.

a beer release weekend.

Saturday morning our alarms blared at 4:45am.
We quickly got dressed and loaded up the car with our small over-night bags, Ziggy and a bag full of snacks.
We stopped at Starbucks for a much needed triple-grande-soy-latte and headed North.

We arrived in the town of Kernville, CA at 8:20am or so and made our way to Kern River Brewing Company. They were releasing their award-wining Citra Double IPA and were allocating 6 bottles of beer (per person) for the first 70 people in line (they had 35 cases of the beer on available on Friday, 35 more on Saturday, and a last 35 on Sunday morning).
We pulled into the parking lot right at 8:30am to find that we were too late. There were already TONS of people camped outside the KRBC entrance and the KRBC president, Eric, came to tell us the bad news: “all of the beer tickets have been allocated, we reached our 70 person max about an hour ago”.

Bummed, but not devestated, we asked Eric for a breakfast recommendation and we headed to this tiny, small-town diner called The Cracked Egg. We had a leisurely breakfast on their [dog friendly!] patio and drank even more coffee. After breakfast we wandered around “downtown Kernville” for a bit and then decided to drive around and explore the vast area of the Southern Sierra Mountains.

We arrived back at the brewery at 11am and found that the line had grown, but now it was full of people wanting to enjoy a beer and have some lunch when they opened their doors at 11:30am (the bottles had been allocated, but there was still plenty available on draft). We jumped in line and within 40 minutes or so we were out on the patio, beers in hand, mingling with fellow craft beer enthusiasts.

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The afternoon was spent drinking Citra by the pint for hours and hours on end. We met some wonderful people, developed new friendships, talked about food, life, and how everyone came to love craft beer. We had a fabulous day.

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Around 6pm our new-found friends had to get back on the road (they had a designated driver, dont worry!) and Aaron and I ordered a little something to eat before heading to the River View Lodge (which is dog friendly!) for the night. We fell asleep around 8:30pm or so… early I know. But between the lack of sleep, early wake up, 3 hour drive and many, many pints of beer; there was no way we could stay up any longer.

Sunday morning we woke up [slightly hungover] at 4:45am and finally got ourselves out of bed at 5am.
That’s right, we were headed back to KRBC to try again to get bottles of this beloved beer.
We slowly got up, got ready, and made our way down the street to the brewery. By the time we finally arrived it was a few minutes before 6am. We got our spots in line and found out we were numbers 21 & 22! It was looking pretty good that we would be heading back to LA with 12 bottles of Citra.

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Zig and I camped out; securing our spots in line for Citra.

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the line around 6:30/7am

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our view for the morning.

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The next 5.5 hours were spent meeting more fellow beer fanatics, drinking coffee, laughing, complaining of hangovers, and eating breakfast burritos that were made at the market across the street. Yet again, we met some amazing people and formed some new friendships. Around 8am or so Eric (the president of KRBC, that we had talked to the previous morning) came around with a clipboard and started taking names down for the bottles of beer. By that time Aaron and I were numbers 23 & 24 (a group in front of us had a couple of friends join them). Right after we got our names on the clipboard (indicating we were essentially guaranteed beer; we just had to wait around until they opened) a few of our new friends started pulling out some beers and we participated in a small celebratory breakfast bottle-share.

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Now, if you arent a beer snob fanatic, then this list of beers may not seem that impressive to you.
But let me tell you, having all of these beers in the same location at the same time is a HUGE deal.

These are some of the most sought out beers [IPA’s specifically] in the US.

We had (from left to right):
Citra- Kern River Brewing Company (Kernville, CA) — this one was purchased the morning before by one of our new friends
Hopslam- Bell’s Brewery (Kalamazoo, MI)
Pliny the Elder- Russian River Brewing (Santa Rosa, CA)
Zombie Dust- Three Floyds Brewing (Munster, IN)
Heady Topper- Alchemist Brewing (Waterbury, VT)

I realize I sound like a crazy-person when it comes to this.. but just trust me that if you are a beer snob, beer nerd, craft beer fanatic, etc … then it all makes sense 🙂

We had a great time enjoying these beers while standing outside in the beautiful weather waiting for 11:30am to roll around.
At 10:30am Eric came back out with his clipboard and started going down the list again, everyone who was on the list and still outside (some people actually left?) then he gave you a ticket stating that you could purchase 6 bottles of Citra.

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Aaron and I got our tickets and at 11:30am. We got our 6 bottles each, a growler of their Just Outstanding IPA, loaded up the car, and headed back home.

We made it back home just in time to unload the car and shower before the Super Bowl game started.
But we also took a few moments to unload our goodies and just admire them. 2 days, 6 hours of driving, and lots of time standing in line later we had our beer!

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our bounty!

My brother drove up from Irvine to watch the game and share the growler of Just Outstanding with us.

We watched the game (Aaron is a 49’ers fan, so he wasnt too happy with the way the game ended) ate some homemade salsa and guacamole, sipped on the beers that we worked so hard to get, and once the game was over my brother headed back home (with 2 bottles of Citra in hand) and Aaron and I headed to bed.

It was a fabulous, exhausting and fun weekend that was worth every mile driven and every hour in line.
I’m so grateful that I have people to share my love of craft beer with!

We will definitely be back to Kern River Brewing Co soon… and we may not even wait until the next Citra release.
Thank you Kernville for being so dog friendly.

holiday recap, part three: New Year’s

Every year since Aaron and I started dating we have spent New Year’s Eve in a different location.
The first year it was San Francisco, the next year it was Chicago, the next year it was New Orleans, last year it was Aguas Calientes, Peru…. and this year it was Santa Barbara.

Part of our Christmas present from Aaron’s parents was for us to all stay in a house in Santa Barbara over New Year’s so we could all get away from our respective homes and do something different together; not only were we totally on board for this idea, but it also satisfied Aaron and my “New Year’s in a new place” tradition so it worked out nicely.

Saturday, December 29th Aaron and I got up, loaded up the car, and were on our way North with Ziggy in tow (one of the main stipulations for the place we stayed was that it was dog friendly).

We arrived in Santa Barbara about an hour or so before Aaron’s parents, brother, and his wife arrived so we went straight to the beach so that Ziggy could run around and I could admire the ocean that I love so much.

Growing up 45 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico (and making so many trips to the beach as a kid that I can hardly count) and having a grandmother that loved water in every form; its no wonder that I grew up to absolutely love the ocean. Ive seen the Gulf of Mexico, Ive seen the Atlantic Ocean, Ive seem numerous lakes and rivers…but nothing can quite live up to the Pacific Ocean and the Central California coastline. Its just so beautiful!

We met up with everyone else about an hour later and enjoyed a fabulous lunch at Pierre Lafond’s Wine Bistro on State Street in downtown Santa Barbara. I had a delicious avocado sandwich and Aaron and I were able to try a new IPA (from San Luis Obispo) and we were both quite impressed.

After lunch we headed to our house to check in. The house was absolutely gorgeous and perfect. It had a good sized kitchen for all of us to cook in, 4 bedrooms (to which we only used 3), 3 bathrooms, a pool, a hot tub, a fenced in front and back yard for the dogs, a grill, and… oh yeah, an ocean view:

The next few days were spent relaxing, cooking fabulous meals, drinking fantastic wine & beer, and checking out as much of Santa Barbara as we could.

[drinking my morning coffee while snuggling with Zig, wearing my new PJ’s and
wrapped up in our new throw-blanket]
[more snuggle time with Zig while looking outside at the beautiful yard]
[we were cooking up a storm and Zig was being a little needy; so we fixed him right up:
hes curled up on our new fuzzy blanket on a bar stool in the kitchen]
[just some of the beer & wine we brought along with us to enjoy]
[we stopped at the Santa Barbara Fish Market one day to grab some crab, clams, and a crab cake for dinner. Look at all of that fabulous fresh fish!]
[cozy’d up by the fire]
[then Aaron’s dad brought me a fantastic glass of wine]
[one of my favorite vintages of my all-time favorite wine]
Before heading back to LA Aaron and I drove by the Santa Barbara City College campus; look a the view from their parking lot:
All in all it was a great vacation and great New Year’s! We didnt quite make it until midnight to officially ring in the new year, but we had fun nonetheless.
I already knew that I liked Santa Barbara; but after spending such a great few days there, I think I fell even more in love with it. Great food, cute downtown area, gorgeous scenery, and one of the most dog-friendly places Ive been to (outside of LA). I highly recommend it for a nice weekend (or more) away. Its a shame UCSB doesnt offer my major or I’d certainly be trying to transfer there next fall.

holiday recap, part two: Christmas.

Christmas was a little different this year.
Usually we spend Christmas in Alabama with my parents (with the exception of last year which we spent on our honeymoon in Peru) but this year we stayed in Los Angeles.

We also decided to forgo the fake Christmas tree and purchased a real one instead. I havent had a real tree in nearly 15 years, but now I’m ready to get rid of the fake tree entirely. The process of picking out our tree was fun and the added bonus of our house smelling like Christmas was enough to convert me.

Ziggy wasnt too fond of the tree at first; but he quickly warmed up to it. 

Christmas Eve:

Christmas Eve was spent prepping food for Christmas Day. I made cinnamon rolls from scratch, Aaron made homemade tamales and chili, and I baked two pumpkin pies. It was a long day… and I think Aaron and I did about 1,000 dishes before the prepping was done.

My brother drove up from Orange County after he got off of work and surprised us with a much-needed treat after a long day of baking. He was able to get his hands on a growler of Alpine Nelson IPA from Alpine Brewing……. and, we managed to finish the entire growler before we had to leave for our Christmas Eve dinner reservations at 6:30pm.

We had reservations at The Bazaar by Jose Andres a molecular gastronomy restaurant that’s located in the SLS hotel. Jose Andres mentored under Ferran Adria, the famed chef behind the [now closed] restaurant El Buli.

I was so excited to make reservations for our Christmas Eve dinner; and I was also glad that my brother was able to join us. It was, by far, the best meal Ive had in Los Angeles. Not only was the food delicious, but the service was impeccable, the environment was fun, and the whole meal was an experience to remember.

my Cairpirinha made with liquid Nitrogen
caviar and creme fraiche butter
enjoying our caviar on a steamed bun
lobster tail & brioche with a side of lobster bisque
rice krispy bar, caramel bon bon and dark chocolate pop rocks for dessert

Christmas Day:

Christmas morning we woke up, had our morning coffee and Facetimed my parents via my iPad. Then we put the cinnamon rolls in the oven and opened our Christmas gifts while the smell of cinnamon-sugary goodness filled the house.

My brother gave me the most beautiful OM necklace! I immediately put it on and havent taken it off since.
special thanks to my parents for my custom COFFEE WINE & YOGA tshirt!!

While I was frosting the rolls we decided to pop open a bottle of Founder’s Breakfast Stout. That’s right, we opened a beer at 9:30am… but, it is called a Breakfast Stout so we figured it was completely acceptable. Plus, it was Christmas.

The rest of the day was spent eating Aaron’s tamales (which turned out fantastic!), snacking on more cinnamon rolls and drinking. We opened up a 2011 Black Tuesday along with a Kern River Pumpkin Ale, and a Green Flash Imperial IPA.

In addition to our eating.. and drinking. We managed to lounge around the entire day in our PJ’s and watch practically the entire 2nd season of Breaking Bad. All in all, it was a fabulous Christmas.

holiday recap, part one: Thanksgiving.

We spent Thanksgiving in Fresno (as we have every year since we started dating). I drove to Santa Clarita on Wednesday evening to meet up with Aaron at work and then we were on our way North as soon as he wrapped.

We decided to stop in Bakersfield for a little snack to break up the drive. I only allow myself to splurge on In-n-Out once or twice a year and trust me when I say this time was particularly delicious. However, once I devoured it (and for the record: I wasnt able to finish it all) I quickly remembered why I only eat this every six months or so; its just so high in sodium and so filling that it left me feeling tired and miserably full. Luckily we still had a 2 hour drive ahead of us, so I was able to sleep through my food coma.

The drive was painless (and quick considering I napped for the majority of it!) and we went to sleep not too long after we arrived at Aaron’s parents house.

Thanksgiving morning was nice and relaxing. Normally Thanksgiving morning is full of prepping, cooking, and baking… but this year it was pleasantly restful. I spent a large portion of the morning sitting on the couch in my flannel pj’s drinking coffee, snuggling Ziggy, and doing a little online shopping from my iPad.

Our first Thanksgiving stop that afternoon was filled with football, good food, and of course: fantastic wine. I was glued to the TV for the last bit of the Texans game (that went into overtime) but made my way to the table for Thanksgiving meal #1 as soon as the game was over (the Texans won!)

While eating our feast, we manged to go through several bottles of Justin Isosceles wine (one of my absolute favorites) and were spoiled with some really great vintages…. and 2 of them were even Isosceles Reserve!

We then relocated to Thanksgiving meal #2… where we ate even more great food and drank even more great wine (there is never a shortage of wine… or food in Fresno).

The Saturday after Thanksgiving was spent at the Fresno State/Air Force football game. We arrived early for the [very impressive] tailgating festivities and got our fill of early morning booze and breakfast tacos before the game started.

Sunday morning we packed up the car and made the drive back to LA earlier than normal in order to avoid the “return to LA” traffic on the Grapevine. We made it back home in pretty good time and spent the rest of the day unpacking and resting up for our final weeks of school (finals!) and work before our holiday hiatus and the hustle and bustle of Christmas began.

labor day weekend.

we had a great Labor Day weekend! I’m sure this comes as no surprise: it was filled with food, fun, family, and beer.

Since it was a holiday weekend I had off of teacher training so there wasnt really anything we “had” to do….. its a rare event when Aaron and I dont have a tight schedule on the weekends; so we tried to really enjoy the freedom of being able to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.

Friday night Aaron worked late so Estela came over and we had a girls night of snacks (pita, hummus, grapes), beer, and a Sex and the City marathon.

Saturday morning Aaron and I got up and ran a few errands and stopped by Whole Foods for some yummy food supplies for the weekend.

 
we used some of those yummy ingredients to make a delicious dinner of:
Maryland Blue crab cakes with a sriracha sauce
sauteed kale
broiled cheesy tomatoes

for dessert we popped open one of my dad’s Java Stout home-brews which was AMAZING.
We sipped on that as we played some gin rummy and enjoyed a nice, relaxing evening. 

Sunday morning we got up early and went on a 5 mile walk with Ziggy. 
The first stop was the 3rd & Fairfax Farmers Market for some much-needed chilaquiles.

After breakfast we walked down 3rd street to the Beverly Center, then on to Robertson, then back to the Beverly Connection, then to The Grove, and then on home.
Ziggy was pretty tired after our long walk and being out in the heat; but he was a trooper and got some great exercise.

That night we made some delicious risotto and kale….. but… I apparently forgot to take any photos of that meal. Trust me when I say it was fantastic.

Monday my parents came into town!!
We got our hands on a special mini keg of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and sipped on that while playing gin rummy all afternoon.

That evening we made homemade pizzas and then devoured some Crumbs mini cupcakes as dessert.

[normally I’m not one to purchase desserts; I’d much rather bake them myself….
but my dad had yet to try a Crumbs cupcake and these mini ones were just too cute to pass up]

It was a great labor day weekend. Unfortunately, Tuesday rolled around and we all had to get back to the real world. Dad had a 5am flight to Atlanta from LAX, Aaron had a 6am call at Universal, and I had to be at school by 7:30am to find parking for Chemistry class. At least we were able to relax while we could. 

the end of Summer.

It’s hard to believe that Summer is over.   

This Summer was not without drama, or stress, or chaos… but it was productive. and it was fun.

My Summer began by completing the 200hr YogaWorks Teacher Training program.
Then, I went straight into my 6 week intensive Physiology Summer school course.
During that 6 week time-frame, I was a study-a-holic, we took a long weekend trip to Chicago for 4th of July and Ashley & Drew’s wedding, when we returned Aaron had a surprise appendectomy and then Aaron’s parents came to visit.
Once Summer school was over, my parents came to visit for a little over a week, and then Aaron and I went to Fresno to spend some much-needed time away from Los Angeles.
In the past few weeks Aaron started working on a new television show, I started my 300hr Professional Program, and my dad came into town on a whirlwind trip to help my brother move.

Next week my Fall semester starts at Santa Monica College and I will be embarking on the second full week of my 300hr Professional Program through YogaWorks.

I will be one busy student in the coming months trying to manage my time wisely between being on campus, at a yoga studio, and studying.

Its also crazy to think that with this transition from Summer to Fall (this is according to my school semester calendar; certainly not according to the weather we have been having that says its still very much Summertime) will come holidays, travel, and a New Year.

[while my parents were in town we walked over to LACMA to see the new “Levitated Mass” installation. Yes, its art… but its also just a great, big rock.]

 [my parents got to partake in “ciabatta baking day”! AND they got to take a loaf home to Alabama with them]

[the beer fairy came to Los Angeles! between my Dad’s home-brew and some mid-west/east coast beers (that we cant get here in CA) our house is stocked with lots and lots of yummy beer!]

[speaking of beer, one of our current favorites is the Tart of Darkness from The Bruery; 
its a dark, fruity sour that even my mom likes!]

[I whipped up my favorite banana+spinach+mango+wheat germ+cinnamon+coconut water 
smoothie on my parents’ last day in LA]

[my dad was able to get ahold of one of these bad-boys while in town!]
I was sad that my parents had to head back home; but happy that they were able to spend a great week and a half with us in Southern California! I really wish they lived closer.

[Ziggy and I went down to Orange County a few times in the past couple of weeks to spend time with my brother]

[and, of course, we ended up at The Bruery Provisions for a tasting flight… or two]
[Aaron and I spent a (much needed) long weekend in Fresno… Ziggy had a nice, relaxing trip up]

[we went out to eat at Pismo’s in Fresno and I had some amazingly delicious garlic linguini with clams]

 [and, of course, Ziggy made himself right at home]

[we enjoyed Champagne with breakfast… because its the perfect addition to a long weekend]

 [and so is cheese with an assortment of fantastic olives]

[there is never a shortage of wine while in Fresno, and Justin Wine is simply the best]

[we had a great long weekend away from LA,
even though the temperatures were a little warm]

[back home, Aaron and I enjoyed happy hour at one of the most dog-friendly patios in LA, 
AND discovered that they offer a free cheese pizza during happy hour!]

[Summer is the perfect time of year to be craving lots and lots of kale and heirloom tomatoes… which I did…. so Ive been making this meal a lot]

[I spent one afternoon organizing our pantry with my newest collection of Weck Jars]

 [while my dad was in town helping my brother move, we were able to make it to The Bruery’s sour tasting one night. It was incredible]

[we also made it to their new tasting room!]
[Aaron, my dad, and my brother went to Stone’s 16th Anniversary party; I wasnt able to go, so I had to check out their anniversary IPA in the bottle……..]

[………..and it was delicious, so I made a trip to our local Whole Foods to chat with our beer buyer friend; and I stocked up on some Summer beers to enjoy this weekend]

[I spent my last week of Summer driving all over Los Angeles trying to get ahold of this currently highly sought after beer…. Stone Enjoy By IPA
Aaron, my dad, and brother were all able to try it at the Stone Anniversary party; so I had to seek out the bottles so that I could try it! I was lucky enough to end up with FIVE bottles! It took me all week to accumulate them, and was quite a tedious task hunting them down; but my brother promises me that this beer is worth it.
Ill finally be able to try it out tomorrow after teacher training.]

[Ziggy says hes ready for Fall because this Summer has been exhausting]
Here’s to Fall, the new school semester, my 300hr teacher training… and everything else in store for us in the coming months!

a taste of Summer.

This Summer has been a bit of a whirlwind. Between a 6 week summer school course, Aaron having to have a [very unexpected] appendectomy, and just some general craziness…. it seems to have gone by too quickly. How is it already August?

Luckily, I have captured some of what we have been up too during our limited “free time” thanks to Instagram:

 [the occasional relaxing morning with coffee and a good read]

 [my newest obsession: Jer’s Peanut Butter Bars and Talenti Gelato!]

 [sushi on a dog friendly patio]

 [hidden beneath a beer cap]

 [Omusubi lunch in Santa Monica]

 [my new favorite summertime breakfast: oats, chia seeds, 
walnuts, and almond mik; chilled over night in a Mason Jar]

 [we were missing Chicago, so we ordered some local deep-dish from Hollywood Pies.
Its not as good as Chicago, but it works in a pinch]

 [road trip snacks: ThinkThin bars and GT’s Kombucha]

 [Aaron ran some errands one day and returned with some of my favorite things!]

[Whole Foods was having a beer sale, so……]

 [written at the bottom of Melgard Public House’s menu]

[homemade pizza night with friends]

 [crockpot cheesecake made in individual ramekins; topped with strawberries]

Chicago: a wedding & time with our godson.

Wednesday, July 4th, our alarm blared at 5:30am. Aaron and I got up, got ready and made our way to LAX.
I was so excited because we were headed to CHICAGO!
and we all know how much I adore that city…. but this time was even more special because we were going to see one of my best friends get married AND to see our awesome godson!

Aaron was able to upgrade our tickets and soon after we arrived at the gate they began boarding priority passengers.

Coffee in hand we boarded the plane and got settled in. yay for more legroom!

We landed in Chicago around 3pm local time. Grabbed our luggage and took the blue line downtown. It was 104 degrees when we landed…  so we had a sweaty train ride and then an even sweatier walk from the blue line stop to our hotel.

We checked into our hotel, changed to some cooler clothes, and then walked the 30ish minute walk to Giordano’s for some much needed deep-dish pizza (and Giordano’s is my favorite place!)
Deep-dish pizza is not necessarily the best food choice when its over a 100 degrees outside, but it was delicious… and well worth wait.

After dinner we walked around my old neighborhood a bit and I was able to snap a photo of my old building. I really love my old neighborhood…

Then we walked to Fox & Obel (my favorite market) and then along the lakefront, through Millenium Park and Grant Park and then back to our hotel. It was HOT but as the sun began to set a slight breeze rolled in and it started feeling quite pleasant.

[Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park]

People were everywhere waiting for the fireworks to start; we made our way to the Irish Pub at the bottom level of our hotel and found a table outside to enjoy some water, beer, and listen to the fireworks (we couldn’t see them due to trees; which was fine be me). It was a lovely evening and I was just glad to be back in Chicago.

 [our hotel, the Hilton Chicago]

We made our way up to our room, showered, and then climbed into bed. We could see suburb fireworks going off in various directions in the distance right from our hotel bed; which was a nice surprise! We watched them as we fell asleep.

Thursday we woke up, got ready, and headed to Yolk (one of my favorite breakfast places in Chicago!) to meet up with Casey, Melissa, and our adorable godson Dexter (who has gotten so big!)

 [Eggs Florentine at Yolk]

After breakfast we wandered around Michigan Ave going in-and-out of stores to take advantage of their air conditioning. We stopped at Vosges and grabbed some of their delicious chocolate covered toffee and went to the Lego Store for Dexter 🙂

Then we made our way to Wicker Park for some delicious beer and pizza (yes, pizza again, but a different style!) at this fantastic place we try to visit each trip, Piece Brewery & Pizzeria.

Rain came out of nowhere and it poured while we were eating, luckily the rain stopped just as we were leaving so we were able to walk around a bit in some cooler temperatures before the humidity took over.

We took the train back to our hotel so that we could shower and change, and then we headed back out on the [very steamy at this point!] blue line towards Casey and Melissa’s house.
Our friends Peter and Diana came over and we enjoyed some dinner and beer. Peter never disappoints in the beer department (being a beer distributor and all) and, per usual, we enjoyed a tasting flight of various fantastic (and rare!) beers:

 [Apocalypse Cow by Three Floyds Brewing Co.]
 [Zombie Dust by Three Floyds Brewing Co.]

 [Rabbid Rabbit by Three Floyds Brewing Co.]

[Frangelic Mountain Brown by Founders Brewing Co.]
[Dexter was sleepy from watching us taste so many beers]
We stayed at Casey & Melissa’s until it was way too late (and we were a little too buzzed) so we headed to the train and went back to our hotel to crash.

Friday we got up, and went to breakfast at Yolk, again.
Then we checked out of the hotel and went to pick up our rental car. I have never used a car in Chicago (it seems so weird to me since the CTA and Metra can get you where ever you need to go!) but we were heading out to the suburbs and actually needed one. We picked up a fellow bridesmaid, Marissa, on our way, and then embarked on our more than an hour commute to the suburb of West Chicago & St Charles.

We arrived at the venue RIGHT as rehearsal was starting (thank goodness for good timing) and we quickly did a practice run of the [outdoor!] wedding in 100+ degree heat and relentless sunshine.

Afterwards we headed to our hotel to check in, and shower. We went down to the brides room and helped as everyone did some last minute wedding things…..as well as steam my dress and Aaron’s suit. I’m so glad the bride’s sister brought her steamer with her!

Everyone headed to a nearby Irish Pub for the very low key and very lovely rehearsal dinner. The majority of us came back to the hotel and enjoyed a beer in the lobby before all heading to bed before the big day.

Saturday we got up and found some much needed coffee. I met the bride and fellow bridesmaids in the hotel board room to get our hair and make up done. Time flew by quickly and before we knew it, it was time to head to the venue.

Once at the venue (a very pretty golf club) we were able to get the bride in her dress and the last minute, tiny details taken care of.
The coordinator came in and let us know it was time to begin and we got outside to our “holding area” to discover that the temperature had dropped to a pleasant 80 something degrees with a cool wind! It was perfect!

The ceremony went on without any problems, the couple exchanged their vows and we took our pictures in the best weather we had experienced in days. The reception was lovely and we danced (and drank!) the night away until it was time to go back to the hotel.

Sunday we got up (later than we would have liked) and slowly got ready, packed up our things, checked out of the hotel and headed to another suburb to the bride’s parents home.

We enjoyed a “Chicago-style” cook out for lunch, said our goodbyes and congratulations’ to the bride and groom and then headed back to the city to drop off our rent car. The rental car location was [thankfully] right by the blue line, so we hopped on that and made one last stop at Casey and Melissa’s to give our godson one more hug before leaving….. and enjoyed a beer on the patio with Casey 🙂

We hopped back on the blue line, got to O’Hare, made our way through security and onto the plane.
6 hours later we were home. And exhausted.

We made it back to LA with some great mid-west beer and a bottle of wine thanks to the bride & groom 🙂 they know us too well!

[a great selection of Chicago area beers]

 [a bottle of wine with the Chemistry of fermentation on it;
The bride is contributing to my Chemistry nerd-ness!)
We are already trying to plan our next trip to Chicago. Its such a great city filled with some wonderful people…. and we cant wait to spend more time with them.

another day-cation to Orange County….

I really love the fact that my brother lives so close to us. Its nice to have him nearby, and its also nice to be able to go visit him for an afternoon [or whole day] as a getaway from Los Angeles (a city that has been wearing on me more-and-more as of late).

A few weeks ago I took two trips to Orange County in one week! Both of which were full of fun, great food, and great beer.

[look at that pool!]

 [as always, we went to The Bruery for a tasting flight.. 
and we were able to check out their new DOG FRIENDLY! patio]
[and to try their new menu item: grilled cheese!]
 [we were FINALLY able to track down the Rolling Sushi Van; which according 
to Google search and Yelp is the best sushi in Orange County]

[these “rolling balls” were fantastic]

 [we were able to check out the new Whole Foods in Laguna Niguel; which my brother works at]

[they have a bar IN the store where you can order some yummy food and yummy beer;
so we did just that]
[the weather was gorgeous (per usual for Irvine), 
so we tried to spend as much time outside as we could]

[gin rummy!]

 [another view of the beautiful grounds of my brothers apartment complex]