Spring Showers & April Flowers

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. It’s April showers bring May flowers. BUT, I have to tell ya, flowers are in full bloom here in the Bay Area.
img_5171Now that the weather is getting nicer out and Winston is learning to enjoy walking.. for longer than 5 minutes (ha!), I have been enjoying more after work walks with my little guy… or maybe not so little. He just weighed in at 49lbs and just turned 5 months old yesterday! How time flies!

img_5189Anywho, I feel like there is so much I need to update you all on. These past few months have been absolutely crazy- but full of lots of fun. That being said, I thought I would first recap this past weekend with you all and then get to all of the other stuff later 🙂

So let’s get started, shall we?

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This past weekend Ian and I decided to leave our normal stomping grounds and explore Berkeley. I had been to Berkeley a handful of times in the past but never really spent an entire day walking around and taking it all in. Ian, had only been there once before. So we thought it would be fun to explore a bit!

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Our first stop was at one of the cutest little taprooms I have ever seen. The walls were pink and beautifully decorated with green tiles and plants.. everywhere. I was obsessed.

img_5204Not to mention, their name – Roses’ Taproom – was  as cute as their ambiance. I highly recommend stopping by and enjoying a beer there if you are ever in the area. They have a limited selection of beers, but they were very refreshing and unique in flavor. You can check out their beer menu: here.

img_5205After enjoying a beer at Roses’ Taproom, we headed over to a nursery we passed by on our way to Roses’ and decided to walk around and look at their plants. I have been on a HUUUGE plant kick lately. Now that the weather has been getting nicer I have been spending more time on my patio – making me want more plants and flowers on my patio 🙂

img_5208The plants at the nursery were absolutely gorgeous, but to be honest, pretty pricey. With that said, Ian and I chose to look at plants at the good ol’ Home Depot 😉

img_5211We then headed to the iconic Telegraph Ave and enjoyed browsing the aisles of Moe’s Books and thrifting in Buffalo Exchange. img_5219After walking around for a few hours we worked up an appetite and found a quaint tapas restaurant on Google. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the wait was 1.5 hours. Having a craving for Spanish tapas, we looked up other tapas restaurants in the area and found a Spanish restaurant, called Shakewell, located in Oakland.

img_5220Like the other restaurant we visited, Shakewell’s tables were filled and the wait was uncertain. However, the bar seating was first come, first serve. Fortunately for us, a table opened up right as we walked in. Being in a Spanish restaurant, I just had to order a Sangria 😉

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What we did not realize before sitting down.. was the price range of their menu items. I am not going to lie, my eyes may have opened a little wider once I saw the prices. Wanting to save a little money, Ian and I chose to order their Papas Bravas (“spicy potatoes”) and paella to share.

The Papas Bravas were absolutely AMAZING. We both could not get enough of them!

img_5226The paella was also ridiculously good!

img_5227To our surprise, the food was extremely filling. We ended up needing a take out box for the paella.

img_5240To wrap up our weekend, we enjoyed brunch in Los Gatos and then painted ceramics at Petroglyph.

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Realizing that I do not actually own a flower vase, I decided to paint a vase for my apartment. Looks like I won’t be using wine bottles as flower holders for a while, haha! I also have been slowly buying different bowls and plates to have an assorted collection of colorful dinnerware, so Ian chose to add to that collection by painting a bowl. Overall, we had an absolute blast painting! I definitely want to spend more time painting, it’s both rewarding and relaxing 🙂

img_5261After sending our ceramics off to be glazed, we headed over to Home Depot to pick out a few plants for the balcony aaaaaand that just about sums up last weekend! This weekend I plan on doing absolutely nothing. Ha! But really. I can’t wait to just relax, read, and play with Winston 🙂

 

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Spaghetti Squash & Turkey Sauce

In an effort to clean up my eating habits as of late, I have been taking the time to plan out my meals for the week. Some people enjoy meal prepping.. but I hate eating the same thing everyday. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am truly a creature of habit at times.. but having a repetitive meal that I have laid out for myself 5 days in advanced just does not work with me. It’s also fun for me to experiment with new foods, so there’s that.

With that said, I decided to cook spaghetti squash for last night’s dinner. I hadn’t eaten spaghetti squash since I was in college, and to be perfectly honest.. I never really cared for it. It was OK. Nothing special to me. Nothing that I ever craved. However, I decided to give it another go. This time, I decided to dress it up a bit compared to how I ate it in college – plain with some tomato sauce on top. Boring!

To my surprise, last night’s dinner turned out great! It was even boyfriend approved! That’s when you know it’s good 😉

So if you’re looking to switch things up and make a tasty – but healthy- dinner, give this dish a try!

Butternut Squash & Turkey Sauce

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First begin by setting your oven to 400 degrees. Then, cut your Spaghetti Squash into half. Make sure not to cut the stem.. unless you want to struggle for your food (which is commemorable but so unnecessary).  Once your squash looks similar to the photo above, go ahead and scoop out the seeds and strings attached (these are more orange in color than the squash itself).

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Once you have finished scooping out the seeds, you can drizzle olive oil and sprinkle on seasoning. A few recipes I read beforehand stated to have the open-side facing down onto the pan.. but I wanted my oil and seasoning to soak in as the squash cooked. After baking for around 40 or so minutes and then flipped them over to drain excess oil for around 5 or so minutes. I am sure you can decide to have them flipped so that the openings are on the pan, but leaving them facing upwards tasted great too 🙂

While the squash was cooking, I made a meat sauce to both add more flavor and protein. The sauce was extremely simple: tomato basic pasta sauce from Trader Joes, ground turkey, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Once the squash finished cooking, I set them aside to cool and finished cooking the meat sauce. Being the impatient person I am, I didn’t fully wait for the squash halves to finish cooling and dove into scraping the shells out with my fork. I do not recommend acting like me, but hey, it all turned out ok!

6ecd6036-1adf-4a56-aee6-7641c671457bAfter scraping out the inside of the halves, I topped our spaghetti squash plates with the meat sauce and avocado pieces.

And voilà!

Hope you give it a try sometime 🙂

 

A Night in SF

Holy moly. How is it already Monday?? This weekend went by waay too fast.

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Never have been bar hopping in SF, Ian and I decided to head to the city and test out a few destinations. One of my coworkers raved about a sports bar downtown, called Golden Gate Taproom, so we decided to begin our night there.

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I managed to miraculous score free parking right outside the front of the entrance, which was a major PLUS. In fact, the entire night I was extremely lucky with parking. I assure you, this is usually not the case for me. Trips to SF often involve me circling around in my car for an hour before finally landing a spot.

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Golden Gate Taproom consists of two floors, all of which have screens streaming games throughout the building. Unfortunately, the Blackhawks were not on while we were there, but if they were.. I may have not left 😉

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Being a taproom, their beer menu is both expansive but also reasonably priced, especially for being downtown in SF. Their food menu consisted of typical sports bar food – hamburgers, sandwiches, salads, and pub snacks. Ian and I opted for their pub snacks, ordering: buffalo wings, jalapeno poppers, and mozzarella sticks. Diet completely out the window, but hey, you have to enjoy the weekends 🙂

img_4478Not only do they have games streaming, beer flowing, and food to munch on… they also have games to play!

a880ffaa-4861-41f3-a039-0757ce436a4aIf you’re looking for a fun place to grab drinks, watch a game, and hangout with friends, I would highly recommend giving this place a try!

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After Golden Gate Taproom, we stumbled upon a small local bar called Tunnel Top Bar. While this bar may be small, the atmosphere is both cozy and welcoming. A majority of the people we encountered there were locals, many of which frequent the bar on a weekly basis.

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After enjoying a drink at the Tunnel Top Bar, we headed over to Urban Putt for some mini golf fun. I had been to Urban Putt two years ago and had an absolute blast. Ian had never been there before, so I thought it would be fun for us to visit!

6f5a3c40-a917-427e-ab9c-9449f1dc0e09Urban Putt is located in the Mission District of SF and has 14 elaborately designed courses.

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Not only is Urban Putt located in the city with indoor courses, but they also have a bar. At Urban Putt, you can order food and drinks AND take your food and drinks onto the greens. So. Much. Fun.

img_4494We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy a drink and have some fun mini-golfing, so we made a stop at Urban Putt’s bar. I ordered a drink called “Rosemary Baby” which consisted of rosemary infused Aperol, whiskey, honey, lemon, and soda water. Absolutely delicious.

Urban Putt also has a restaurant location on the second floor, just incase all the mini-golfing managed to increase your appetite. Overall, I would say Urban Putt has everything you could ask for: fun, drinks, snacks, and food. What more else could you want?

That being said, I highly recommend you check out Urban Putt if you are in the SF. It’s a great place to go with friends or even dates 😉

Where are your favorite SF evening destinations?

~Britt

Whole Foods & Maddie

Back in college (wow, I sound ooold), one of my best friends, Maddie, and I would spend all of our money on trips to Whole Foods. We were too broke to buy our groceries there, but we enjoyed grabbing a coffee, lemon poppy seed muffin, and gabbing away about whatever it was we used to talk about.

4f8ed498-0415-4eee-806a-4dd64322a63eSadly, graduating from college meant less spontaneous Whole Foods runs. Eventually, our Whole Foods trips together became even more difficult when Maddie made the leap to move to LA.

It wasn’t until a few days ago that Maddie texted me saying she was in town for the week and we both immediately planned for a Whole Foods run. I was PUMPED. I missed grabbing lunch at Whole Foods with her.

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With a gap in between meetings, I was able to run over to Whole Foods yesterday and catch up with Maddie and it was wonderful. I’ve been so busy lately that it felt nice taking time out of the day to relax at my old college hangout. I was also just super excited to see one of my best friends again, it had been 2 months since we last saw each other!

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Trying to be somewhat healthy, but not salad healthy (haha), I opted for a sushi bowl. How this is different from a poke bowl? I have no clue. I do not think there is a difference.. but it tasted good and that is all that really mattered. Well, that, and that it was relatively healthy.

Hope everyone has some fun plans for this weekend! I know that I am certainly excited 🙂

Happy Friday!

~Britt

 

 

Getting into the Swing of Things

It’s crazy how time flies when you’re busy! Getting a puppy definitely is a part-time full-time job!

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(A picture of Winston’s first night at home)

Winston’s first few weeks at home were both fun and tiring. Working full-time and letting a puppy out every hour or so during the middle of the night was exhausting. Thankfully, Winston now sleeps throughout the night and now so do I! However, I would do it all again in a heart beat.

5cae065c-3928-4721-9899-bdc9597cdd67It has been so much fun watching him grow and play. When I first brought him home, he weighed around 15lbs.. and he now weighs 32 lbs .. at 15 weeks old. He’s getting BIG. He also has a BIG personality and attitude. I have never seen a dog pout before, but this little guy sure likes to let me know when he is annoyed! The photo above was taken when he was taking a nap and I woke him up. I like to annoy him sometimes 😉

img_1367Besides spending all of my time with Winston, working, traveling for work, and sleeping; I have been using the rest of my time socializing or planning mini trips. What I have not been doing: working out and eating right.

Now that Winston is getting bigger and things are calming down, I am making little changes to improve my health! With that said, I will also be dedicating time to update this blog and share my adventures along the way. These next few months are going to be full of excitement and change, so making sure I am making healthy choices will be necessary for me to feel my absolute best.

So what’s on the calendar for these next few months?

  • A surprise day planned by Ian (the planner in me is dying to know what the plan is)
  • Lots of meetings for work
  • Winston’s puppy classes
  • A trip to San Diego
  • Potential: weekend in Chicago
  • A weekend in Las Vegas
  • Everett’s birthday
  • Ashley’s birthday
  • Graduation parties
  • Ian’s brother’s wedding
  • Probable: moving apartments

And while I have a lot on my calendar at the moment, I am so excited for everything I have planned so far.

904e66b5-47db-48c3-88a5-3ee7274de782That’s all for now!  Talk to you all soon!

~Britt

Home for the Holidays

Well. Kinda? I’m spending the rest of this week back home in Chicago.. going back to the Bay Sunday.. and then working.. and then flying back to Chicago.. and then to Portland for a few days.. and then back to the Bay.. and working.

Wow. Typing that just made me tired. Whew.

Anyway, this month has A LOT in store for me, but that’s what makes like fun! My caffeine levels are definitely going to skyrocket.. but hey, coffee is delicious.. so that’s 100% ok with me!

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Before heading home for the week, I was in Santa Cruz watching the sunset on the beach (which I will probably write a post on). Fast forward a day, I was sitting on a plane watching the California sunrise behind me.. only to wake up to a white landscape as the plane began its descent into Chicago. Such a strange feeling! One moment the sky is pink and purple.. the next it’s all white and gray.

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Once in Chicago, I was immediately greeted by the ever so familiar chilled wind. I almost forgot how cold it gets in Chicago, but rest assured, I quickly remembered. lrg_dsc05897

Due to the insanely uncomfortable temperatures from this week, I have been spending a majority of my time indoors. While this is certainly not ideal for me, considering that I am someone who has a difficult staying indoors for long periods of time, I have been enjoying spending time with the dogs and admiring my mom’s Christmas decorations.

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To keep myself busy, I have been spending my time reading, catching up with my family, actually watching TV, and photographing my dogs for this year’s Christmas card.

lrg_dsc05939 Fergus (the darker Irish Wolfhound picture on the left), is not very fond of getting his photo taken.. but Seamus (the lighter Irish Wolfhound) did not mind me snapping away. That being said, most of the photos that turned out were of Seamus.

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Now that I only have a few days left at home before heading back to the Bay for work this upcoming week, I have been trying to spend as much time as I can with my family. I have also been trying my best to sleep in.. but these past two days have consisted of early mornings due to Everett’s (my brother) Lasik surgery. Thankfully, his surgery went well and his eyes seem to be recovering just fine 🙂

As for other new news, I actually have some very exciting news… I am getting my own very first.. puppy! He will be coming home December 29th and I am beyond excited, and a little nervous, but mostly excited 🙂

img_3506.jpgHis name is Winston and he is a Saint Berdoodle. “What the heck is a Saint Berdoodle?”, you may ask. Well, to answer your question, Saint Berdoodles are half Saint Bernard and half Poodle. In other words, he’s going to be a giant fluff ball. I am stoked!

That’s all for now!

Talk soon,

Britt

Castle Rock State Park

Before moving to the Bay Area, I had never been on a hike. It wasn’t until my sophomore year in college that I went on my very first hike and quickly fell in love with the outdoors. While there are plenty of hiking spots here in the Bay, I am not always impressed by them. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to a good trail and mine tend to be rather specific. I usually look for spots that are:

  • GREEN- the more trees, the better in my opinion
  • Relatively challenging- I usually prefer somewhat of a challenge. Increasing elevation makes a hike more rewarding.. however intense hikes can take the fun out of a hike. So I usually aim for balance, especially when hiking with friends.
  • Free or with inexpensive fees
  • Scenic – this usually goes hand in hand with lots of trees, aka “neature” (sorry, I’m referencing one of my all-time favorite Youtube videos – Neature Walk), but also includes ocean and or mountain views. I prefer more of a natural landscape over urban trails overlooking cities.

That all being said, Castle Rock State Park has always been a favorite of mine.

img_3425My all-time favorite hike at Castle Rock State Park was a morning hike I did with a few of my friends two years ago. The fog made the hike feel a little eery and prettier in my opinion.

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Although I usually hike on the trails starting at a lower elevation.  I managed to miss the trail head yesterday and winded up in a random parking lot overlooking the hills below.

6663c826-9737-430e-987b-8e4892d458deWanting to try a new trail, my friends, Maddie, Angela, and I chose to explore Castle Rock starting on a trail at a higher elevation. Well.. to be quite honest.. we were tired of driving around.. with absolutely no service.

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Maddie having a little fun on our hike

Although the views were not as pretty as the ones from the main trail, I still enjoyed the views from above.. and goofing around with the girls.

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I was also pretty proud of my sloth socks.

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Castle Rock Overview:

Location: Los Gatos, California

Hours: sunrise – sunset & open all year

Camping: permitted in designated camp areas. First come, first serve.

Trail Length: 5.49 miles (partial loop)

Hiking time: takes around 3 hours to complete loop

Trail head elevation: 3090 feet (elevation change of ~1170 ft)

Difficulty: Moderate

Features: a waterfall, great variation of trees, lots of rock formations great for bouldering.

Fees: There is a $8 vehicle day-use fee. [Regular Sized Auto: $8 (Senior $7, age 62 or older); Bus Parking (10-24 passengers): $50; Bus Parking (25+ passengers): $100]
*Bring cash*  (If you do not park in the main lot, there is usually no fee for parking)

Dogs: Unfortunately, furry friends are not welcomed here 😦 However, Sanborn County Park is nearby and allows dogs.

Horses: Oddly enough, horses are allowed.. on the Saratoga Toll Road.

Trail traffic: Light to moderate. More people near beginning of trail.

Watch out for: ticks, poison oak, western rattlesnakes, and mountain lions. (I have yet to encounter any of these, but there are present in this region).

Website: click here for the park’s website


 

For more information on this hike, I highly recommend checking out the Bay Area Hiker’s post on Castle Rock State Park. I love how her site is organized and is very rich in helpful information. She also has a maps section where you can click on trails closest to you.

Well, I hope this post was helpful for those of you looking for a new hike to try out in the Bay Area!

Have you ever hiked Castle Rock?

Tell me about your favorite trails!

~Britt