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.

Orange Coast Magazine.

My dear friend, Melissa Valladares, is an amazing photographer. She was asked to take some photos for Orange Coast Magazine for an article they were doing in the April 2013 issue about dog-friendly restaurants in Orange County. Knowing that Aaron and I are always on the hunt for dog-friendly places that have good food and allow you to enjoy a beer or glass of wine on the patio… AND since we have an adorable dog who loves to be the center of attention…she asked if we could come along with her on her photo shoot.

We had a great time trying out some new places to eat, spending some much-needed quality time with Melissa and (her now fiance!) Vinnie; AND, our little Ziggy had his very first magazine debut:

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You can check out this article, the adorable picture of Ziggy, and other articles involving restaurants in Orange County in the the April issue of Orange Coast Magazine:

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Here are a few other photos Melissa snapped that day:

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*Photos are the property of Melissa Valladares Photography
*Magazine Cover is the property of Orange Coast Magazine

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.

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]

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]

things to do in Los Angeles:

my all-time favorite: dining on a beautiful, sunny, dog friendly patio.

Last Friday Aaron and I decided to use one [of the many] groupons that we purchased and go try out the Larchmont Bungalow for a late lunch. It was a beautiful day, so we called ahead to ensure their patio was dog friendly; and it was! So, with Ziggy in tow, we headed over to Larchmont Village.

First and foremost, Larchmont Village is a quaint and adorable little neighborhood. Add a dog friendly patio and good restaurant to the mix and it makes it even better.

The food was delicious, the coffee was great, and they have an over-flowing dessert bar.
We cant wait to go back and try out their breakfast menu (which, by the way, is served all day).

[chocolate chip cookie and iced soy late- yum!]
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Today is Aaron’s last week-day off until the end of June, so, we decided to enjoy the gorgeous day and go to another dog friendly patio on Melrose Ave at Melgard Public House.
Aaron and I tend to be drawn to “European-esque” places and Melgard is just that. Its a pub house in every sense of the word: delicious fish & chips, a lengthy European beer list, etc. The patio is great with large, spaced out tables, a view of Melrose Ave (and all the pedestrian entertainment that comes with it) and ample sunshine. The servers at Melgard are really nice too, which is always an added bonus in Los Angeles. 
[beer, sunshine, and Melrose]
[Ziggy found a dog bone that was hidden behind a potted plant, he was very excited!]
[Ziggy and I]
We have had some beautiful days here in Los Angeles the past week or so, hopefully the weather keeps this trend going and Ill be able to share many more pictures from our favorite LA restaurant patios!