Flashback: California Summer 2021

Big Sur

When John and I moved from California to Texas last summer we decided to plan a 2 week long trip for us to come back over the next summer (2021). We figured that with COVID and moving we weren’t going to be traveling over the 2020 holidays and wanted to be back for our annual summer Tahoe trip with his family. So this past July we spent 2 weeks doing everything our hearts desired in California, from being in San Francisco to boat rides in Tahoe, to visiting family in Monterey and everything in-between. We even found our amazing wedding venue which I’ll write about in a different post. Needless to say it was a really great trip!

The first 5 days of our trip was spent in the city staying with our wonderful pals in our old neighborhood of Alamo Square. We settled in, got coffee and went for a stroll in our old hood, stopping by the old house and hanging out in the park. It felt like no time had passed while simultaneously feeling like I have grown into a new version of myself.

Because we moved during COVID when San Francisco was at the height of lock down, it was fun to be able to do all of the things we weren’t able to before we left. Eating at our favorite restaurants, seeing our friends, I even DJed one final time at GoBang! It felt like we were able to officially close a chapter of our lives that brought us so much joy and adventure. I even got a long distance run in Golden Gate Park in the schedule! My heart was so very happy. I MISS THE TREES SO BAD. John and I are definitely forest people, lol.

We spent the 4th of July with our friends down in Soquel, outside of Santa Cruz, with a heated pool and ocean side views. We loved being able to have so much time with our friends before we had family time. We got to see everyone we wanted which was so nice and just be together, dance, and laugh like old times.

We picked up our rental car and built some time for ourselves between our time in SF and Tahoe when we visited Monterey, having time at the coast and going out to eat between family visits. The California coast is the most gorgeous place I’ve seen alongside of the Pacific Northwest. It speaks to my soul. Which is why it was incredibly hard to leave but something I knew deep down that we needed to do. We are very happy to be getting married in the Carmel/Monterey area next summer though!

Truth be told, the last time we visited Tahoe in July 2020 it was a bit rocky as that’s when John and I told his family we were moving. There was a lot of shock, disbelief, and sad vibes which made the trip sort of a hard one. We wanted to be together and to tell them in person. But one whole year later, Tahoe 2021 was just what the doctor ordered. It was full of fun, surprises, family and friend time, and also healing. It felt almost like it was before we left which was so nice. For those of you who have ever moved away and done something different, you know what I mean when you go back for the first time. Although I had lived in California for over 12 years and was recently reconnected with my family in Texas, John has never lived this far away from his family so it’s a whole different experience for him.

Our Tahoe house was incredible with the most amazing views and patio. We had a party outside one night with a group of friends who came out for the weekend alongside John’s sister Rosie and Dad. Of course we went on our annual Tahoe boat trip which was such a ham of a time! Tahoe in the summer is gorgeous! I love it in the winter too but since I don’t ski or snowboard the summer is more fun for me. Def do a boat ride and kayak in the lake when you go!

We experienced the most amazing crisp, cool, and foggy weather, as well as the hottest weather I’ve ever experienced in California! On our drive out of Tahoe through Sacramento, the temp got up to 113 degrees! That was just insane. We stopped for wine tasting in a nicely air conditioned place to break up the heat!

After Tahoe we spent another couple days in Monterey again with John’s mom and finalizing things with our wedding venue. I am so excited about it! We are so happy to get married where we made so many memories over the years and share that with my family, who have never been to Monterey or Carmel areas.

Coit Tower, North Beach

The last 2 days of our trip was back in San Francisco. We dropped off the rental car, stayed 2 nights in a hotel in Union Square, and enjoyed our remaining time in the city. We had last rounds of drinks with friends and John and I explored North Beach as a date for our last day. North Beach was where I first moved way back in 2008 before settling in Alamo Square. It really brought me back to my early 20’s and just how different the city was then. There is a special place in my heart for North Beach, it was my first home far away from home.

We enjoyed the shit out of California on our trip. Made great memories, had nostalgic moments, made plans for our future wedding and future visits, but we were ready to come home to our life in Texas with our baby cat. It was a sweet goodbye.

California will always have my heart, and I’m certain we will live there again at some point in our lives. But we are enjoying the adventures and living in the moment and are excited to see where life will take us! Until next time, Cali ❀

Texas Swimmin’ Summers

After living in the Bay Area for over 12 years, this summer is the first real hot one I’ve had in over a dozen years. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the weather of San Francisco – most people complain about the fog and constant 55 degree coastal breeze. I miss it very much each and everyday. However, having a summer where I can wear shorts and swim regularly has been a really nice change!

John and I took advantage of the summer sun and swimming whenever we could, and I’m the tannest I’ve been since I was 23. Here is a list of our favorite outdoor activities this season.

  1. East Side Hotel Pool

Day passes to this hip hotel on the East Side are about $40 per person for half day, either 12-4pm or 4-8pm. We decided to stay the night and take full advantage of this pool, so we got a last minute deal on Hotel Tonight for $100 for a badass room and view. Parking was free and we swam both days for only $20 extra of what would have been a half day activity. It was right after we got engaged and felt like continuing to celebrate, and a much better deal IMO. I love this hotel!

2. Lake Travis

Everyone needs to experience a boat day at Lake Travis at least ONCE throughout their life! I remember doing party boats back in the day when I was a college student at UT. This summer our pals rented out a lake house with a view from AirBnb for the month of June. We had lovely swimming day together where I got completely burnt for the first time in YEARS. Definitely make friends with the neighbors – they gave us a free evening boat ride to catch the sunset!

3. Barton Creek Greenbelt

Although I lived in Austin throughout the 00’s while in college, I never swam in the Greenbelt! HOW is this possible?! Most of the time I was too busy with school or work, or it was super dry without much water. This summer we finally made it happen and it was awesome! John loved it and had never experienced anything like this natural wonder out in CA (though there’s lots of swimming holes outside of Sacramento close to Auburn!)

4. Tubing the Guadalupe Horseshoe Bend

In central Texas, you TUBE in the summer. I grew up tubing the Guadalupe horseshoe regularly. My dad wrote a murder mystery eco-thriller about a death along the river when I was in high school. I took John on this river trip the first time he came to Texas back in 2014, but we haven’t been since. We decided to go with our friends Jen and Ian who we regularly explore with one Saturday afternoon. It was so crowded! The water was pretty low and took us about 2 hours to float the shoe. The part that always bothers me is getting stuck in a whirlpool while the rest of your party swirls past you, but luckily it’s pretty quick. Also when the water is low your butt hits the rocks so it’s great to have a tube with a hard bottom.

I still laugh about our first trip down the river; we recently visited Shiner brewery and John wore a Shiner trucker hat he purchased. With a 6 pack of Lonestar in tow, some dudes who tubed next to us took one look at John and said “That man there- this isn’t his first rodeo! He’s a true Texan” – and I corrected them and said “Actually it IS his first rodeo, and he’s from San Francisco!” – the LOOK on their faces was priceless. But John is great like that – he fits in wherever he goes ❀

5. Barton Springs Pool

Barton Springs is THEE quintessential natural pool in Austin. There is a small fee to enter the park but there is a “free” side on the other side of the barrier where folks bring their dogs, coolers, and party. The natural pool has tons of algae so it’s a bit slippery and some adjustment if you aren’t used to it, but the cold refreshing water in a unique setting is beautiful and a great experience! Plus you can canoe or kayak out into Town Lake.

6. Port Aransas Beach

We originally got the cutest Airbnb in Port Aransas for John and I’s birthday week this past February, but decided to postpone until summer to celebrate my sister Bryana’s birthday instead and take full advantage of summer activites. This was the ultimate place to stay not far from the water, with a private pool and John and I had our own private suite!

It was so fun! I enjoyed getting in the pool multiple times a day – I was so incredibly tan after this trip and all the other swimming outings we’ve had. We had our own private golf cart that we drove all around the island which was fun and something I’ve never done before. It had a lot of Weekend at Bernie’s vibes.

I remember going to this shark beach tourist store when I was a kid, so naturally my sister and I had to get a pic.

This was also John’s first true beach weekend in warm water. Every time I’ve tried to take him to the beach in the past my family has stepped in and said he wouldn’t like it because he’s from California and the Pacific Ocean is gorgeous (which it IS). But the gulf also has its own natural beauty as well!

Also there was a school of baby crabs that floated in the water and freaked out my niece, it was super bizarre. We had a lot of fun with our family making memories!

7. Austin Motel Pool

I’ve never swam at the pool at Austin Motel but we bought passes for the Purple Rain night and it was adorable! They also have evenings where they show movies and you can float in the pool all night. It’s definitely something you need to get in advance because of the size (especially during COVID).

As summer 2021 comes to a close, I’m very thankful for creating new memories with John and our family and friends. I admit I can’t wait for the fall weather and we all know that Halloween is my favorite! I’m already planning for our Halloween costume reveal πŸ™‚

We’re Engaged!

On our 8th anniversary of our first date, John and I got engaged!

I sorta had a feeling something was different when John decided to plan a weekend getaway for our anniversary, the weekend after we came home from New Orleans. I am the planner in this household – not because I have control issues, but John doesn’t really have strong opinions about where we stay or what we do, he’s so open and go with the flow. Someone has to plan! And it *normally* ain’t him… πŸ˜‰

He booked us this beautiful remote cabin in the countryside of Wimberley, TX. If you aren’t familiar, Wimberley is a very cute artsy small town between Austin and New Braunfels located on the river with the most gorgeous scenery. A lot of people get married here or come for the big flea markets or antique shopping or craft fairs. It’s a sweetie place and super unique.

The first night we decided to head down to Gruene for dinner and drinks at Gruene Hall. This was the first place I took John to when he came to Texas to meet my family way back in 2014, we floated the river here, and we have fond memories. We initially talked about floating the river that weekend but we had so much rain that I didn’t feel safe (and it was overcast the entire time!).

After wining and dining in Gruene and shopping at the general store (where we got THEE CUTEST ornament of Gruene Hall – yes I am obsessed with Christmas tree ornaments) we opted to head home to enjoy our cabin. It was already getting late and more rain was en route. I had Google maps take us the most direct way back through the back roads which was entirely pitch black! If you are familiar with the weather in Texas you know that it can flash flood at a moments notice. We were about 5 minutes from the house and our last crossing was “Slime Bridge” – and we couldn’t cross at all! After getting out of the car to look at the water directly in front of our car (which I can see how other cars can get swept away!) we decided to turn around and head back a different way – which was another 40 minutes! On the flip side, John became obsessed with this bridge and loved that we crossed paths, who names a bridge “Slime Bridge”?!

This is Slime Bridge on a “normal” rainy day. We were driving in heavy rain after it had rained for weeks straight! There was NO WAY we were going to cross this path.

After safely returning to our cabin, we enjoyed some wine in the hot tub before watching a documentary on Roku about pasta. Named, The Shape of Pasta, Chef Evan Funke visits small towns in Italy and receives training from Nonnas on how to create the town pasta shape. He provides a thorough history lesson into each shape and brings them all back to his award winning restaurant, Felix, in Los Angeles. I love pasta so much I was purely fascinated by this! (AND – the next time I’m in LA I am eating at Felix!!!)

The next morning, we enjoyed our coffee in the hot tub, got ready for our day, and headed out for lunch when…John proposed! He tricked me into thinking that we were taking a timed selfie under the Live Oak tree, when he set it up as a video. So here I am, posing, asking how many seconds we have until the timer goes off….when John got down on one knee. While the video is ours and we are not making it public (not even with our family), I will share he did say that he loved me an incredible amount and couldn’t imagine life without me. It was very sweet and totally caught me off guard in the moment.

The ring is custom made from Avant Garde. John brought them his family diamonds, passed down from his mom (jewels from his Grandmother’s side of the family, some as old as the late 1800’s!). I love that it is a modern take on a vintage look. It’s totally me!

It felt like an out of body experience! We didn’t know what to do but we were hungry, so we went over to Creekside Cookers for BBQ and beers to celebrate. Afterwards, we went back to the cabin to drink champagne on the wrap around porch that John was saving. It was so sweet and special. We decided immediately that we didn’t want to tell anyone or talk to family for a full 24 hours so we could be with each other and soak it all in. Ahhh take me back…

A celebratory feast for two.

After basking in each other’s love and arms for the afternoon, we got dolled up and headed to Trattoria Lisina for drinks and pasta. I felt so beautiful! We had so much fun at this cutesy spot. And we decided we would get very small matching pasta tattoos! And that we wanted to visit Italy during our honeymoon (at least part of it πŸ™‚ )

Our final day together before we broke the news to our family and friends was spent in downtown Wimberley walking along the river, having brunch at Ino’z, and doing some shopping.

We literally stared at the cabin with precious memories in our hearts, kissed, and parted ways to tell our families the news! John shared with me that he actually called my dad before our trip to ask his permission, which of course he said yes, and then told him not to share with anyone else. So when we called all of my sisters – they 100% had no idea and were all shocked! Everyone was thrilled for us, and in just a few short weeks we would be in California to celebrate with John’s family and our friends in SF! While I am not a super traditional person, my entire family is so it was nice to see that John talked to my dad beforehand.

A few days later my parents came into town to take us to dinner at Eberly and gave us beautiful crystal champagne flutes. We had champagne FOR DAYSSSS ❀

John and I were never in a rush to get married but we always knew it would happen for us someday. We are not having our own children. We plan on being together as a couple and should years down the road we want to adopt, we will cross that path. I have never felt that biological clock ticking and do not feel the pressure that I know so many of my friends have in regards to having kids before a certain age. Because of this, we were always happy being together no matter what “status” we were. Honestly we are sorta married in a way because we are already registered domestic partners in the state of California (this happened last year, when I lost my job due to COVID and got on John’s insurance). We are just happy to have found each other – where we can completely be ourselves. There’s never been any games or drama, we just are who we are. I am so happy to have met John, he is the perfect yin to my yang and we make a good team! I can’t wait to see what adventures life brings us together.

We are currently planning our wedding for next summer in Carmel Valley, CA. We are excited! And enjoying every moment.

Crater Lake, Oregon July 2019

In July of 2019 we made an epic roadtrip with our roadtrip/camping besties Jenn & Ian (who explored Big Bend with us) to Crater Lake, Oregon. I wanted to see this National Park for many years so we all jumped in on an amazing campsite over July of 2019 to make it happen.

We decided to break up the drive so that we could explore more things along the way, so day #1 was from SF to just outside of Redding, CA. We made plans to visit the Mount Shasta Dam in the morning because, it was DAM TIME to see a dam! πŸ˜‰ I hadn’t been to this part of CA before so it was really educational and fun to check out. Plus John + Ian bought matching dam t-shirts, so there was that.

After our time at Shasta we moved on to our awesome campsite at the Union Creek campsite just off the Rogue river. There are quite a few options to camp within Crater Lake, most of which didn’t provide reservations in advance, and since we were coming from so far we wanted a guaranteed spot and opted to stay just outside the Crater Lake limits. This campsite was EPIC. It had the biggest, most spread out spacious sites I’ve ever seen. And the Rogue river was literally right behind our setup so we could hear the rolling water which was very peaceful.

The beautiful views of the Union Creek campsite. This is my favorite campsite I’ve ever been!!

The Pacific Northwest is the most beautiful place in America, IMO. I miss it so much but appreciate all of the amazing adventures I was able to embark on before moving back to Texas. I know there will be many more in the future, but to me, there is nothing more beautiful than the misty fog over the oldest, largest trees in the country, surrounded by lakes, rivers, or the ocean, complemented with deep evergreen and mossy hues. It makes my heart sing and feels like home. John also is very much a forest person as well and it’s nice that we both feel that connection.

The funniest thing happened during our camping adventure. We had a mouse roommate who literally hung-out with us and ate pieces of our s’mores on the picnic table! He wasn’t even scared of us. He was our Ratatouille IRL.

I mean, look at this face ❀

The next morning we hiked and explored Crater Lake! One thing that was very surprising was that there wasn’t any place to buy water. Not in the gift shop, not in the cafeteria. It was very bizarre and we were SO HOT. I think I guzzled down 2 bottles plus Gatorade once we were able to get our hands on some, but note to self if you make it to CL bring your own H2O!

We hiked the Watchman Lookout Trail just on the outer rim. It got pretty steep at the end but once you made it to the top it was the best view of the lake. Crater Lake is the second deepest lake in America, right after Tahoe, and I love them both ❀

We said goodbye to Crater Lake and HELLO to the Umpqua Hot Springs, about an hour north. We wanted to hike in the Umpqua Forest and relax in the hot springs to really SOAK in the local culture <lol>. One thing we saw a lot of was naked people though, including sexy social media influencers – which was a bit strange to observe. We felt a bit weird and decided it was time to go, but luckily had enough time in the mystical area. Perhaps it’s a faerie thing?

Oregon is GORGEOUS. Explore Crater Lake. Get in the hot springs. CAMP. You won’t be disappointed! Our journey back to San Francisco ended with an overnight stay at a quaint cabin in the woods style Airbnb in Dunsmuir. This town was so adorable! And our cabin was very close to the famous Mossbrae Falls, we just walked down the train tracks for this SPECTACULAR view.

Mossbrae Falls is truly breathtaking! We probably stayed for an hour enjoying the sights. It’s pretty closed off from the public, you have to know where it is and walk the train tracks to get there – it’s not accessible from the road. I heard something about them creating a public entrance after we visited, but not sure if that happened.

We had the most fun making the best memories with our friends. If you feel compelled to discover Oregon or the PNW I highly encourage you to check something out!

It’s such a cool feeling to cross something off your bucket list. Here I am taking in the views and connecting to the environment. Here’s to the next item I can check off…

Goodbye SF, Hello Texas, and Reflections of COVID-19

I moved to San Francisco in 2008, shortly after my 23rd birthday. I only visited once and decided then and there I was moving, and three months later I arrived. I had only intended on living in the Bay for 2 years. I assumed I would have my fun (with a time limit) and then come back to Austin. Boy, was I way wrong!

In California I really came into my own. The longer time went on, the more extroverted I became. The more I found myself confident in my opinions, speaking up when I could. My style was OFF THE HOOK (I take pride in this!!). I made the best friends! Ones I know that I will be in touch with forever. I developed amazing skills and tried new hobbies – hello DJ world, improv performing community, hiking and watercolor times! I fell in LOVE. I found myself. So why decide to leave?

Truth by told, as much as I love San Francisco and cherished my time in the Bay, I had been feeling for a few years that I was ready for a new adventure somewhere else. John and I had been talking about trying something new together for a while and couldn’t ever really decide. When I started working in marketing for the Curran theater, I knew that I would be tied to SF as long as I had this job. I grew my skill-set so much! I planned so many amazing parties, red carpet events, after parties and beyond. I was an avid part of the VIBE of the city. (I want to address my career separately, so am only touching on it here). But when COVID first came around I lost my job pretty immediately, and all of entertainment went cold, I felt the time came to make a big change.

I know I am a super intuitive person. I was the first person in our group of family and friends that realized, very early on, how big of a deal COVID would be. I envisioned losing my job immediately, industries shutting down, flocks of people moving out of cities – things closing for months on end. Despite feeling this way, I persevered. Everyone was let go, letting go of more people, and places were on hiring freezes. Businesses were closing left and right. It felt hopeless. I tried everything I could everyday to get a new job. I brushed up on my skills and got 3 additional marketing certifications. I didn’t feel confident that the job market had my back in SF, with remote work blooming everywhere and everything described above. John’s work was always remote, so we decided it was time. From a career perspective, Austin felt right because I knew companies would be moving work with all of the tax breaks and cheaper cost of living, so all of the opportunities I once had in SF were now relocated as well.

I ended up going back to work for a previous employer, remotely, and an old amazing (and very chill) boss who confirmed I could move anywhere I wanted. This was so exciting because I knew what I was getting into when all of the rest of the world felt scary. I was going to have a reliable source of income with great work-life balance, and could live anywhere I wanted…

You see, John wants to go to grad school….in Edinburgh! He likes the program at the university and has connections through his work. It would be a 1 year plan and we intend to go in a year from now, when vaccines are administered to everyone and travel is opened up. So in the meantime, we decided, it was the time to be closer to my family. Hence, preparations for Texas were en route.

The weekend we decided to move we were in Carmel.
My California man, taking a risk to become a Texan temporarily and live in a *gasp* RED STATE!

Telling our family and friends was the hardest part, but for the most part everyone was pretty supportive and excited for us. Austin is a really rad town, it was where I went to college 15 years ago and the first city I fell in love with. I was excited and nervous at the same time. I spent the last 12 years building myself up to be this person, a West Coast performer who loves nature and the great outdoors – how could this person exist in Texas? Where it’s HOT and the views don’t always align with my own?

I grieved. A LOT. I cried. EVEN MORE. But after everything is said and done, I knew deep down this was what we were supposed to do. My parents are in their 70s and I’ve been gone a long time. If anything, COVID has taught us that we are not promised tomorrow. So make memories while you can, NOW.

Our socially distant, Alamo Square park goodbye shindig.

I loved my apartment on Alamo Square so much. I lived there for 10 years, and the park was on my front doorstep! It did me well, and later on, John moved in and it did him well too πŸ™‚ . I am forever grateful for the memories we created with our friends and families who visited us and spent time in our home. The backyard BBQs, charades, dance parties to records in the living room, Tuesday Night Dinner club, and more! While I knew I could stay there as long as I wanted, I was ready to grow and that entailed being uncomfortable.

We packed our belongings, sent them off to Texas, and said our final goodbyes with tears in our eyes. It was very painful leaving, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I feel so connected to California. We want to move back and settle down when we are ready to do so – but we have more adventures ahead (in Texas and Edinburgh and maybe somewhere else along the way).

The last sunset in our neighborhood we experienced, before moving the next morning.

We drove across country with Beatrix in tow and stopped at some unique places along the way (I’ll write about that as a separate post). After navigating Las Vegas, Moab Utah, Denver Colorado, Amarillo and New Mexico, we eventually made our way to our new home in Austin. We have been here a few short months and it finally feels like we’ve settled into our new surroundings. And merging old Texas Emily with current California Emily is a lot easier than I thought. I am the best version of me yet! I am so excited for what is in store this coming year – I feel very grounded and have had lots of time to reflect and plan goals.

In our new home in Austin.

Throughout everything, John and I are lucky and happy to have each other in this crazy time. We both have steady remote jobs that allow us the flexibility to explore our surroundings. We have our cute cat who snuggles us everyday. We have close friends down the street, who also moved from SF just 6 months prior to us! My family is only a 2 hour drive away. And we frequently zoom and facetime with his family and our friends back home. Who knows where our future will take us, but for now – we are taking it one step at a time.

Happy 2021, may it bring you health, wealth, and happiness!

Greetings From Seattle

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Back in August I made a trip to Seattle for a work conference and stayed just under a week. While I briefly went to Seattle TEN YEARS AGO for an Alaskan family cruise (celebrating my parents 40th anniversary) I barely remembered anything about the city and was pretty pumped that I was going back. Let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised at how much I actually enjoyed the city!

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The vibe actually reminded me a lot of San Francisco, but with some Austin/Portland vibes mixed in as well. The downtown area is bigger than SF and perhaps just as busy and with the same problems around homelessness (it’s gotten pretty bad over the last several years on the west coast). But the weather was to die for! It felt so much like home (Texas) but without the triple digit temps. #icantdealΒ Walking around at night in a sundress without needing a sweater or jacket was EVERYTHING.

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I stayed at a pretty basic Hilton hotel a few blocks away from the conference center, which wasn’t too far at all from the Public Market. I went there multiple times to people watch, window shop, and ate THEE MOST delish piroshsky on earth.

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Some coworkers and I also hit up The Nest for a bougie industry happy hour and the views did NOT disappoint! WOW! Seattle gets a lot of rain in general, but it was just beautiful in the summer, I was thankful I had a pretty clear stay.

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A REALLY fun thing to do is visit the Museum of Pop Culture.Β I had no idea that a concept museum like this existed and was super excited that we chose to do this as a team building activity. There were some badass exhibits, including one about David Bowie, Jim Henson & THE MUPPETS, a sci-fi wing (complete with the actual costumes from Battlestar Gallactica, The 5th Element, Terminator and more!!) a fantasy wing (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc), a GAMING exhibit (WHAT?!) and of course a whole rock-n-roll hall (with some Kurt Cobain memorabilia). It was AMAZING! I want more! Def don’t pass this up if you plan on going to Seattle, it was my #1 favorite thing I got to do!

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I loved Kermit when I was a kid. I obsessed over his relationship with Miss Piggy so hard.

Next to the pop culture museum is the Chihuly Gardens & Glass exhibit. I was SO EXCITED to check this out in the real life and it was one of the most incredible art exhibits I’ve ever seen. Just wow.

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PS) Look how cute my team is on top of the Space Needle!

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We threw a big party in the Seattle Aquarium the last night of the conference, which was the last touristy thing I did during my stay. I know work is work, but the gaming conferences in our industry can throw some pretty cool events! That said, the Seattle Aquarium doesn’t even hold a candle to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I’m a bit spoiled since John’s family is from Monterey, so we visit the aquarium occasionally. But it was still a great party and a cool event space!

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The best places I ate and drank:

LolaΒ  – great Mediterranean spot for sharing plates family style.

Shorty’s – arcade themed dive bar in Belltown, full of weird clown references and pinball tables. Great vibe.

Assaggio Restaurant – old world rustic Italian goodness!!

Sweet Iron – I had savory breakfast waffles that were to die for. Prosciutto, scallion, and creme fraiche on a cinnamon toasted waffle. WHAT?!

Anchovies & Olives – had a fantastic solo happy hour, complete with a glass of rose, a few oysters, a side of greens, and an appetizer sized pasta plate ALL for $37. WUT?

Unicorn Bar – this place is famous! Super quirky, bright decor, strange and fun drinks. They even have their own unicorn beer, complete with a horn draft tap. I liked it so much that I bought a t-shirt.

The Whale Wins – rustic farm to table food of the Pacific Northwest. We had our team dinner there before our party and thoroughly enjoyed everything.

Outlier – great spot downtown for clients. Fresh food, fun ambiance, tons of space with a fun cocktail menu. And it wasn’t very pricey. All around great spot!

Umi Sake House – best salmon sashimi I’ve ever had in MY LIFE.

The Runaway Bar – this bar was my place. I found it while vintage shopping at Rove and fell in love. I went in for a drink and stayed for two. If I lived in Seattle, this area would be my neighborhood and I would frequent this bar. Also Rove – had the BEST unique card selection. I bought my sister a card with a painting of Robert Smith (lead singer of The Cure) with the words “I will always love you” across the front. I laughed so hard, I knew she would be the only person who would appreciate it, so I got it for her as a pseudo birthday card. Ha ha ha.

The one place I didn’t get to check out, but NEED TO next time:

Il Corvo Pasta – My boss suggested this because I love pasta so much. They are only open during lunch and don’t take reservations. I walked over to check it out but the line was out the door to wait, so I didn’t have time to eat there. But man o man this place has raving reviews on Yelp and I am bummed I didn’t get to make my Seattle pasta dreams come true.

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I had a great time and would happily return to explore more of the outer areas and hike. Until next time, Seattle!

xo

Emily

A Hidden Gem Within The Santa Cruz Mountains

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A few weeks ago John and I made our way down to Loch Lomand, a hidden recreation center located in the middle of the Santa Cruz mountains. I had been before with a friend in the past but wanted to show him how cool I thought the area was and knew he would love it. Turns out, I was right! #duh

I navigated him about an hour and a half south of the city, and many twists and turns later, we found ourselves in a hidden mountain neighborhood area loaded with a lot of “keep out!” signs. He was convinced we were not in the right place, and I kept reassuring him by saying “Patience, young grasshopper.”

Once we found the entrance and paid the $6 fee, we made our way to the glorious nature escape we were hunting for. This lake is SO GORGEOUS! You can rent paddle boats, go fishing, and picnic along the water to get some glorious sun. #vitamindplease

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We must have picked a crazy busy day to explore because there were children EVERYWHERE waiting for a paddle boat.Β  While it was cute, being around a bunch of screaming kids wasn’t exactly the nature get away we were looking for, so we opted for a hike around the water and up into the mountains.

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My goal was to take John to the top for the vista point, but there was just too much poison oak that it deterred us from going up higher. I mean, it COVERED the entire trail, even several feet out from the sides. This picture was about as high up that we got, but it was still really fun and cute, and all in all we hiked 3 miles.

Once we left Loch Lomand we headed to the Cremer House for a delicious bite accompanied by a tremendous beer selection. This place is SO FRICKING GOOD. I loved every part of it and I would gladly go again. Then we proceeded to do some vintage store thrifting, which is like John’s favorite thing on the planet. See I like the more curated vintage shops, the kinds that have everything organized by color and it’s clean and cute and doesn’t smell like mothballs. John will straight up dig through boxes of “goods” that people leave put out on the street. And sometimes he finds something good. Most of the time he tends to find things like a casserole book from the 70’s. It’s hit or miss. BUT Felton does have a good amount of random mountain town thrift stores, if that’s your thing!

I’m bummed we didn’t get to the top of the mountain, as I did per my previous trip (pic below) but I am glad we had a good time and got to explore! California is full of so many great day-cations and I want to explore them all.

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Until next time!

Watercolor Delight

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When I was a little girl I was VERY very shy. People freaked me out (let’s be honest, they STILL do) and I didn’t talk much. In order to become more social, my dad forced me to take a LOT of community classes (drama and art) and play on various sports teams. I loved the sketching and painting classes and always wish that I continued on with art (and theatre too tbh), but when band came into my life there was little room for anything else.

Now that I am older and exploring my creative outlets, I recently fell back into painting. I took some watercolor classes last fall with the City College Continuing Education program, and I rekindled a love that I hadn’t thought about in a while. It came back to me pretty easily and is *kinda* like riding a bike. I’ve also been working on my hand lettering too; it’s really fun to learn!

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Seinfeld forever.

 

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Whale you?

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If you want to get that boy’s SOUL.

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NOM NOM.

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Consider me Miles Davis.

I want to continue to work on my style and eventually create and sell prints. I love how painting brings out my creativity that I otherwise don’t get to utilize in my day to day job (as it is definitely more math and data oriented). Hopefully I will have more updates around this soon! #demilsart

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