Austintacious

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Austin is hands down my favorite part of Texas. I cherish the time in my life when I went to UT and lived in Austin, I never thought I would leave. I felt very connected to the city because of the unique culture and being the LIVE MUSIC CAPITAL of the country! Being part of the music scene shaped my individuality and made me more confident in myself and how I expressed myself to the outside world. Austin truly is a special place, and while I don’t always get to visit when I am back in Texas as my family resides in Katy/Houston, the times where I get to experience ATX brings me right back to my happy place. 🙂

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We decided to surprise my parents for Thanksgiving this year because they have been through so much with Hurricane Harvey (you can read more about it on my sister’s blog as she documents the process of them rebuilding their home). But before we made our way to Katy, we wanted a night of debauchery all to ourselves in my old stomping ground!

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We stayed off of Town Lake, close to Rainey Street where all the old Victorian homes are converted into bars. It wasn’t John’s first time to Austin, but he loved it more than the previous visit due to the fact that we had moderate temperatures rather than triple digit heat. We had a lovely stroll around Town Lake, made our way to Congress for some delish BBQ, and bar hopped from Dirty 6th over to the East side.

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Dirty 6th is where I used to go out back in my early college days. They call it Dirty 6th because it’s like a smaller version of Bourbon street and can get pretty wild on the weekends full of underage drinkers with fake IDs who can’t handle alcohol, various  bachelorette and bachelor parties from all over, blended in with college students and tourists. It’s a mix of people with cheap drinks and shots with not a lot of rules (i.e. it’s not uncommon to see people casually vomiting and having sex in parking lots. TRUE STORY I SAW THIS ONCE). FUN TIMES! hahahahaha. This is why you have to hangout when it’s not crowded, i.e. during the middle of a Tuesday before a holiday when all of the students are gone.

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Me, chillin’ on the rooftop of one of my favorite spots when I was 21, Maggie Mae’s.

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This might be the cutest dive bar sign I’ve ever seen!

I love vintage inspired neon signs SO MUCH. Since I’ve moved away Austin has definitely stepped up their neon sign game, it’s almost as strong as Portland – which is the King of neon signs. This bar was kinda weird but had a cute sign so I’ll give them that 🙂

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We always walk pretty much everywhere when we are on vacation. We enjoy exploring neighborhoods, stopping for a drink or two along the way, and exploring things you might miss out on if you just took a car. People also don’t walk in Texas so we def got a lot of looks – but I NEED TO HIT MY STEPS, dammit!

Shangri-La is my favorite bar and I HAVE to go every time I’m in the city. I love the hodgepodge of furniture, beautiful light fixtures, and quirky patio and vibe (I swear I would live on the East side if I was still there). I will never get over how cheap it is to drink in Austin compared to SF – let’s just say happy hour in Austin is around $3-4 a drink while in SF it can be $5-7 ($7 for HH WTF?!). Also – NEVER FORGET to photodocument your memories when a photo booth pops up.

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Later on in the night we met up with my niece (who is pre-med at St. Edward’s) and had a BOMB DOT COM Mexican feast at El Borrego. I normally frequent Polvo’s when I’m in town, but the wait was just insane and I honestly think the food at ELB was better (while the ambiance at Polvo’s is nicer, so depending on what you are going for it’s a toss up).

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After dinner we made our way to Rainey street for some delicious local beers and donuts, before calling it a night. We opted for breakfast tacos from Juan in a Million in the morning prior to our journey to Houston, which was so effing delish OMGEEE. I always talk up breakfast tacos so much to John, and as a California dude he has never understood the hype, always preferring burritos. This time he ate his words (literally) and agreed that breakfast tacos are where it’s at, and we need them STAT in SF (howww do we not already?!).

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You’re Juan in a millionnnnnnnn! (I always hear that song from Miss Congeniality when I see this sign).

Austin, it was a blast like always! I will always love you, my first love ❤ but there was a Thanksgiving feast waiting for us in Houston so we had to say goodbye. Don’t hate us, k??

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Hallowkeen + Other Fall Updates

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My oh my don’t I love a good Halloween and fall season! I guess they don’t call me the Queen of Halloween with my peers for nothing…

This year John and I decided to be Burt Macklin and Janet Snakehole, the fun alter egos of Andy and April on Parks & Rec. It’s a pretty easy costume that takes minimal effort but is still unique, cute, and comfortable (and if I do say so myself, being comfortable is alllll the rage as you age 😉  ). I admit that it’s more fulfilling for me to put in hard work on a costume for many weeks (like the Bjork swan dress I made a few years ago) rather than opting for something simple and easy, but it’s impossible to have energy like that year in and year out. Only Heidi Klum can wear the TRUE Hallowkween crown

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This cute vintage veil pillbox hat was only $20 on Amazon! Now I have something to wear to the weddings of my mere frenemies for the future to come!

Even Beatrix dressed up! This year she opted for Meowry Catoinette and meowed all night “let them eat cake!” just like you would expect.

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Look at that beauty! ❤

Fall is also my favorite time for weddings. Fall foliage makes for great scenery and a fun impromptu photo shoot. Just check us out at John’s step-brother’s recent fall wedding down in Soledad…

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How sweet is this crushed blue velvet bell sleeve dress? I bought it from Elsie’s closet last year. It’s an original Red Velvet original creation by way of A Beautiful Mess (RIP Red Velvet).

John is becoming quite the Instagram boyfriend if I don’t say so myself. He only learns from the best I guess!

While we only have a little bit of fall time left before winter “officially” comes, let’s remember to enjoy these beautiful moments before they slip away and I have fall fomo for another 9 months…

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Corny for Halloween

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Halloween is my favorite time of year. Yes I know how basic that sounds and how boring that probably makes me seem. But I’ve been riding the #cornyforhalloween train ever since I can remember, long before Starbucks became a huge nationwide chain and brought pumpkin spice lattes into pop culture.

I blame it on the fact that my primary childhood memories were from when we lived in Ohio. Between the ages of 7-11 I grew up in a small town called Enon (or None spelled backwards 😉 ) and it felt very much like Stranger Things. There were actually four seasons, as kids we rode our bikes everywhere, I knew everyone in my elementary school, the town had forests on all sides, and there was a large cornfield behind our neighborhood. Even our house was built in the 70’s and had retro decor vibes. But my favorite thing about living there was the fall. The leaves changed and we experienced beautiful foliage, our neighborhood had THEE BEST seasonal decorations, trick or treating felt like a flashback in time, and on top of all of that, Enon hosted their annual Apple-Butter Festival and I always dressed up. You could churn your own butter and also tour the historic old pioneer homes. I mean, a history nerd living in a historic small town with a big deal (but small time) fall festival with costumes?! AHHHhhh! My inner theatre geek loved every minute of it. THAT is when I know my love for fall and Halloween fully blossomed.

IMG_7587.jpgAren’t I cute? Here I am snuggling my cat Cotton after a long day of churning butter at the good ole’ apple butter festival! <cry laughing> (god I’m such a nerd)

This year, I decided to REALLY do it up in terms of Halloween celebrations. I’ve lived in the Bay for 10 years and surprisingly had never been to the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin festival. It is the biggest thing that Half Moon Bay does all year round, pumpkin farmers from all up and down the West Coast submit their largest gourds for the chance to win the largest pumpkin award. And on top of that, there are HUNDREDS upon hundreds of art booths, food vendors, pumpkin EVERYTHING (from smoothies to pie to pumpkin chili and pumpkin mac and cheese), music and alcohol. John and I LOVED every second of it! It was worth the longer than normal drive due to high traffic for the isolated event.

22448596_10110552425541500_7178073160364207156_nJust look at those carvings!

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If you live close to the Bay and love the fall as much as I do, you MUST attend the pumpkin festival next year. I can’t believe that it’s taken me so long to head there myself!

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Moving on, last Friday night we grabbed some close friends and went to the Mayhem Mansion in beautiful Pac Heights neighborhood, before checking out the new Bladerunner (OMG ahhh so much so say there but not for this post)! Mayhem Mansion is the Halloween event thrown at the historic Haas-Lilienthal house, the city’s only intact Queen-Anne Victorian home that operates as a museum. I wasn’t sure what to expect other than some cute Victorian-Halloween decorated rooms, and boy were we pleasantly surprised! I don’t want to give too much away, but there are some pretty legit actors and we were pretty spooked/startled.

IMG_7498Our friend we met in the SPOOKeasy bar, under Mayhem Mansion.

Halloween season isn’t complete until you carve a pumpkin. I mean, even if I’m the busiest person in the world and I decide to do my version of a lazy costume, I will ALWAYS have time to carve pumpkins and roast the seeds. I just can’t live in a world where this doesn’t happen. I will be 100 years old designing my pumpkin in my head, and telling my caretaker orders for how I want it to look (MUAHAHAHA).

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We have a lot more Halloween things coming this weekend, but for now, I’m just gonna keep enjoying what precious seasonal moments that I have left. I LOVE HALLOWEEN AND I AM NOT ASHAMED! Stay tuned for more Halloween updates and costume reveals (and view previous costumes here).

xo

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A Charleston Good Time

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What up people?! A couple weeks ago I met all three of my sisters and my mom in Charleston to celebrate my mother’s 70th birthday. Charleston has always been on my list of places in the US to explore, so I was pretty pleased we decided on this southern destination spot. The ladies all traveled together from Texas while I met them across country on a red eye flight. It had been over a decade since the FOUR of us Coalson girls took a trip together, and we had never done so with our Mom. WHAT WAS GONNA HAPPEN?!

The first thing we did once I got there on Thursday was embark on a beautiful historic carriage ride through downtown Charleston, the Holy City. I had never seen so many places of worship! The old buildings were delightful but it was hot AF! I’m a delicate SF coastal flower now and am not accustomed to extreme heat or humidity anymore. Our horse was very lovely though and it was a cute time together.

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Check me out, chillin on our lunch porch at Cru Cafe. God I love Southern porches…

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We then decided to take a happy hour booze cruise for sunset views of the harbor. I loved this bridge, I even bought a small painting of it later on. BTW – some of the most amazing sunsets I’ve seen were on this cruise…

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This is my sis Bryana, also known as the author behind the blog OurSommLife. She is married to a Sommelier and writes about their travel adventures, wine, being a mom, and most recently keeping track of my parents house through the damage from Hurricane Harvey (I’ll write more on that later).  Isn’t she cute?!

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This is a blurry pic of all of us on the boat, and it makes me laugh so hard. Bryana is on the left, then Krista, my mom, me, and my oldest sister Karen. Don’t we look fun?!

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I’m glad we did the cruise because I never would have seen Fort Sumter or gotten this glorious shot! It is the birthplace of the Civil War, and anyone who knows me knows that I was a Civil War buff at the ripe age of 13. (My Grandmother gave me Civil War trading cards and my dad used to take me to meet ups at Barnes & Noble…granted I was the only child or young person under the age of 40, but it was a fun thing I shared with my dad. We saw a lot of Civil War era movies together. Let’s just say history was always my favorite subject growing up, and I used to fantasize about being a history teacher at one point in my life). #funfacts

22141029_10110483626270790_9001886964477828570_n.jpgThe Charleston harbor has some spectacular sunsets! This is one of my favorite pics.

On Friday morning we proceeded to check out Boone Hall Plantation just on the outskirts of the city. We all grew up watching the 80’s adaption of North and South (staring THEE super hot Patrick Swayze!!!) and this was his home in the show. Of course we just HAD to check it out! (I might have also played the opening credits theme song on our way in…) ALSO – The Notebook was filmed here.

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Afterwards we made our way over to Isle of the Palms beach to take a gander at the Atlantic ocean. We originally wanted to make a day out of Myrtle Beach because the movie SHAG was a staple in our home growing up. (A coming of age 80’s movie, that takes place in the 60’s, with a shag dancing contest at the end?! SIGN ME UP.) However, Hurricane Jose just missed the coastline prior to our visit and there were horrible mosquitoes everywhere, so we decided to axe the beach day. We opted for a short peek-a-boo visit instead.  🙂

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Friday night we pursued our own ghost adventures at the haunted jailhouse downtown! We opted to download a few different “ghost hunting apps” to help us determine if our own Airbnb was haunted and also tried it out in the jail. Honest review, I think the apps are fun-n-games and didn’t really pay too much attention to the words they displayed (most of it was for entertainment but a handful of the words did freak me and Bry out…). But the apps “light up” around spiritual activity and the whole time we were in the jail my app was glowing up constantly (as opposed to other places). I also got a weird spooky picture which super creeped me out…

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I love the old southern architecture! While I don’t forsee me living in the south again, I do love a good old southern home. They are just so beautiful to me.

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The infamous Rainbow Row!!

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Here I am outside of the Old Slave Mart. The exhibit was really well written and in my opinion was the best source of HONEST information on around the slave trade in the area. Slavery is not pretty but it happened and we should all acknowledge it FULLY (and not brush it under the rug) so that we can get an accurate grasp of how it has affected our country and citizens even today.

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Alas, our last night out we all surprised my mom for a fancy dinner for her 70th at the lovely Charleston Grill! We even packed her one of her favorite nice outfits as we surprised her. It was fun to dress up together and enjoy a night out on the town. Plus, look at the photo we took in front of this amazing staircase!!

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As our time ended together, we sported the Charleston rainbow row t-shirts mom got us to the airport, ate a quick breakfast, and huddled in for one last group pic before I went my separate way back to foggy San Francisco. Awww we are so cute.

Honest thoughts here:

  • Charleston has been hyped up a lot in recent years as a top travel destination in the US. I, being the big history buff that I am, have always wanted to visit and was very excited to explore more of the Lowcountry.
  • While it was very historic and the food was delicious, there wasn’t really a “vibe” or a social scene that I thought it would have. I assumed there would be a famous street with a lot tourist foot traffic, shopping boutiques, and interesting bars (similar to 6th street in Austin or any street in the French Quarter) but was a little disappointed that this wasn’t the case. It could have also been the time of year that we chose to visit, as it was nearly October, and perhaps summer time it is more bumpin’? It was basically dead when we were there and the night we went out after ghost hunting felt like 28 days later.
  • I barely saw ANY POC, which I found strange…
  • All in all, it was a beautiful place and I’m happy we visited! But I don’t think I would go out of my way to head back unless it was for a reason. Long story short, it wasn’t my favorite city. But it was one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen.
  • I’m glad my mother had a great birthday

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Now I will point you to Bryana’s blog post so you can see what she thought of our experience!

XO

Em

Boss Lady Businesses

I am a big time believer in small business owners. Even more so of small business owners that make it big time! Whether someone has a small Etsy shop, a booth at a craft fair, or they have a full on brand complete with social media presence, I LOVE shopping with independent business owners. Especially if they are run by BOSS WOMEN! WOoo!

Someday I would love to have my own small business and be my own LADY BOSS. I have ideas that stem from boutiques to food trucks and even a themed bed & breakfast. ❤ ❤ ❤

Here are some of my absolute favorite businesses to support at the moment, made by and run by women:

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 3.14.33 PM.pngOui Fresh – run by Elsie & Emma, the lovely sisters of A Beautiful Mess, this side business of theirs has natural lip sticks and glosses, oils, tees, and sunnies. I have a purse, a handful of tees, and pair of sunnies – CLEARLY I’m a big fan!

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 3.15.50 PM.pngLuella – Based out of Austin, TX (my old city and first LOVE!) cute and sassy feminist t-shirts and pins.

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 3.17.41 PM.pngLittle Arrow Studio – the CUTEST accessory shop in town, straight out of Portland (my FAV place to visit!)

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 3.18.42 PM.pngDaisy Natives – another cutesy tee and pin shop from Austin with a cool social media following. #girlssupportgirls

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 3.20.41 PM.pngValfre  – LA based women’s fashion company founded by Mexican-born artist Ilse Valfré.

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 3.12.09 PM.pngTeleport Shoes – very small LA shoe brand run all by Mel, the lady herself. I own the pair of pink bolt booties and working with her on my order was a delight. Plus they have super unique shoes that you can NOT find anywhere else!

That’s all for my round-up at the moment, but if I find anything else that I want to share I’ll spread the word!

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. #icantdeal 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. 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:

Lola  – 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.  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!