West Coast Trip: starting out

Hello! I am in Sunny CA for a vacation again. This time I am traveling almost the entire west coast from LA to the Pacific NorthWest. My friends Janeen and Carrie are joining me up to San Francisco and then my husband Dan is meeting me and we are going North! I couldn’t tell you lovely people about the awesome month I had in June because my computer decided to break down right before I left… Oh we’ll, it’s vacation time! I left my worries at home and headed out.

This LA visit started out great. After Carrie and I had to starve on the way here (our flights were so close together we literally had to run so we didn’t miss our connection) and after I had to finagle us a car with a trunk (they tried to give us a little smart car type vehicle) we finally got to eat a good lunch. yes.

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We went immediately to the restaurant where our awesome friend Erin works (with whom we are staying with in LA) called The Park in Echo Park. Thank god we got to eat. I went a little over board and ordered a lot of things: a chicken-avocado-gruyere-tomato sandwich, tuscan white bean soup, and home fries with buttermilk ranch dressing. I also wanted to order an egg because I was really hungry for an egg but I refrained. Anyway, it was all awesome.

The rest of our first day was napping, porch hangin’, and going out and about in Silver Lake.

We celebrated July 4th in true LA style… or at least what I think of as true LA style – POOL PARTY! Ace of Base was blasting, the pool was full, and the grill was smoking. Needless to say, we had a really great time.

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We went to a few other parties that were also fun. I think my favorite thing at the end of the evening was that there were a bunch of really cute dogs around and the neighbors were having a firework battle – who can make the loudest boom-sparkle?!

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Today we decided to have a beach day and go to Malibu. But first I needed to get
my egg fix, so we stopped at Silver Lake Coffee for breakfast. They have great egg sandwiches. I got an everything bagel with scrambled eggs, tomato, avocado and cream cheese – yea cream cheese and eggs – try it! They also have great coffee here.

We went to one of my favorite beaches ever – El Matador. Beautiful views, beautiful weather, and some really awesome rocks. You have to climb down the bluffs to get to the beach. Its pretty steep but a lot of people seemed to make the trek today. Once a hidden gem, El Matador was pretty full. Each rock is a little mini ecosystem full of muscles, anemones, barnacles, these weird tube worms that look like they have dragon scales, limpets, snails, and chiton – and of course there are all different types of seaweed everywhere! The rocks are eroded away into pretty formations, some with windows that you can walk through and some little caves to crawl up in and under. We stayed there for most of the day before heading out to get dinner.

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We decided to go to Paradise Cove. It is kind of famous I think, being a place where some older TV shows and retro movies were filmed. Their motto is “probably the best beach in the world” I think it is probably not the best beach in the world. It was very pretty and it did have nice views, but it was not nearly as cool as El Matador. The visit is pricey – if you do not go to the restaurant, it costs $40 for day use. We were eating there so we only had to pay $6 to park. We sat down at an outside beach table, which was cozy – You are definitely paying for location here. I started my dinner with clam chowder, which was creamy and really good. The clams tasted super fresh and it was really filling. However, in between the clam chowder and my fish and shrimp tacos coming out… I started feeling not so good. So I couldn’t eat my dinner at all and I ended up having to take it home. I was feeling ok by the time we got back to Erin’s house and I tried to eat some of it but everything just tasted a little off, except the rice, that was ok. So my opinion of this restaurant is that it is way too overpriced and probably not worth the venture. There are much better places in Malibu with and without the lofty price.

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So overall, we had a nice start to our travels. We are going camping today near Santa Barbara at Lake Cachuma. We plan on exploring the area and doing a little wine tasting over the next few days.

Spring Recap

Wow! Time flies – It is already July and I haven’t been blogging as much as I would like to. Here’s a little recap of my spring!

My garden bloomed with bleeding hearts and green ferns:

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I made and ate this amazing steak sandwich:

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I found this amazing aged goat cheese at Mandro’s Imported Foods ~and I highly recommend eating it if you get the chance!

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My indoor peace lily bloomed with a double flower… which I can only take to mean that my life will be very peaceful for a while.

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I went to Smorgasburg in DUMBO and ate some amazing foods! Post on this later to come.

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Spent a bunch of time enjoying music with friends in downtown Lancaster:

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I grew a potato plant from an organic potato and it started sprouting little potatoes. The students went crazy over this at school! They were amazed at how potatoes grow:

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I celebrated Derby day/ Cinco De Mayo/ my friend’s birthday in style with hats and mint juleps:

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I started grilling and ate a lot of salads that looked like this:

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Backyard gatherings started taking place… rain or shine.

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It became nice enough outside to bring Monk to the Fridge for outside snacks!

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We started taking a lot of hikes again in Lancaster County Central Park. It was warm enough for monk to dive in the river and wet enough to see a lot of fungus:

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My husband and Monk looking extra cute and picture perfect:

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Fire season started! I love sitting around a fire outside on beautiful evenings enjoying time with friends!

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I learned how to run the cotton candy machine for the dance at school! I got pretty good and swirling that blue floss around a stick… I am now available for hire for all of your cotton candy needs ūüôā

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We took a field trip to Hershey Park at school. I’m not sure who had more fun… the teachers or the students.

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The strawberry festival took place at Lancaster Central Market – and those homegrown strawberries and Thom’s Bread shortcake tasted delicious!

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I’ll tell you about June tomorrow – Happy Summer!

 

Spring Art Walk – 2012

It is Spring Art Walk Weekend in Lancaster! One of my favorite weekends of the year… Yea, there is art everywhere BUT I the reason I love this weekend is because the town is bustling with people!

Art walk is usually the first weekend in May and there is a lot going on. The weather is beautiful and it feels great to be outside walking around in the fresh spring air. You can find the map to the art walk stops for 2013 here. If you are in Lancaster, you still have tonight and tomorrow to check out some of the happenings.

I thought I would share some photos from our day out last year. I walked around on Saturday with my friends Janeen and Emily.

We started our day with brunch at On Orange. I recommend their Swedish oatmeal pancakes… I don’t really recommend the vegan sausage.

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Since we walked around on Saturday last year, we made a stop at Lancaster Central Market.

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Across the brick alley from the market is a little shop in the upstairs of an old building. It is called Herbs from the Labyrinth.

They have all kinds of interesting things to look at. Like…

magic spectacles for reading… IMG_5718

Magic wands… IMG_5722

and magic crystals…

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They have some really comfy looking yoga clothes and up-cycled clothing and bags that are pretty cool too.

We continued to move towards the East side of town. Lancaster is a great small city to walk around.

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During art walk, a lot of interesting displays pop up. Sometimes there is music, sometimes there are people with information, sometimes you get to wander behind buildings that you don’t normally wander behind.

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The 300 block of north Queen street is home to many small shops. Some with art, some for shopping, some that are just fun to walk through, and some to window shop.

The Art and Glass Works is a fun store to walk around, you just have to be really careful not to touch or break anything because it is all glass. The Glass Works has a really interesting back yard with treasures hanging all around.

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They had a make-your-own Fairie house activity. Janeen really wanted to make one for her own backyard…

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…but she didn’t follow the warning signs and we had to leave. Oh well, there’s always this year.

We continued on North Queen and stopped at the Candy Factory.

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This space was home to a pretty neat flea and craft fair. I ended up buying a small wooden cheese board from our friend Handmade by Kanga. She also has a display in Building Character; all hand carved wooden jewelery and kitchen items.

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Upstairs from the Candy Factory in the Keppel Building, are a few artists and their studios. You should venture up the stairs to check it out if you are walking around this year. David Stallings is a wonderful painter and can be found on the top floor. There are some other forms of art up there as well.

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Building Character (that I mentioned above) always has some neat finds and it is ever-expanding. It is now home to an old Lancaster printing press. There is usually a person there to show you how it works and you can print something yourself. The shop also gets in some really interesting antiques… check out the Skee Ball machines they had last year. You can easily spend hours in Building Character looking through all the stuff they have collected there.

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The majority of the galleries in Lancaster are on Prince Street in downtown, but there are a few galleries on Walnut Street. We walked though one that had an extra room opened up with some artists working on an old piano. For the past two summers we have had decorated pianos spread over the city. People donate pianos, artists turn them into a piece of art, and they are placed all over town for people to play and enjoy. Its called Keys for the City.

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Our Art Walk Saturday ended with a performance by The Vinegar Creek Constituency, one of my favorite local bands. They performed in the evening at a store & gallery down town called Tellus 360, which is going to be opening another floor as a music venue this year. IMG_5772

I am going out again tomorrow for brunch with more of my girlfriends and to walk about the Art Walk. I hope you get to experience Art Walk in Lancaster – if you live here or if you are visiting! It’s a great weekend to be out and about.

Santa Cruz Memories

It’s snowy, wet and cold outside. February started a few days ago and my husband is away right now. Every time he goes away… I think more and more that it’s true what they say… absence does make the heart grow fonder!

He’s in California right now where it is sunny- lucky him!

I love California! I have been there twice, once with my husband and once with my friend Janeen. I had some awesome adventures there. I blogged a bunch of those adventures last time I was there, you should check out some of my California posts! I would and will go back to that state in a heartbeat.

I can not stop thinking about one day I spent in Santa Cruz with Dan. It is one of my favorite memories and one of the best days of my life. It is stuck in my brain and makes me smile every time I think about it.

Not having a plan, driving coastal California, we pulled off the highway in Santa Cruz. It was tough finding a spot to camp or stay, but we found a hippie-dippy campground with a woodpecker and other cool birds only 10 minutes from the Santa Cruz boardwalk. We pitched our tent and headed towards the ocean for the evening.

There we found… the best boardwalk ever! Corn dog and a Sierra Nevada as you stroll down the boards? Yes! Band playing on the beach right next to the pacific ocean? Yes! This boardwalk was excellent.

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Dan and I strolled around exploring the walk that seemed to go on forever. There was a huge old arcade that we walked around with some old-timey photos and displays. The penny squisher was jammed and I didn’t get a penny ūüė¶ So if anyone find them self there… squish one for me please! The sky turned pink as the sun set and the neon lights started to glow all around us.

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We took a ride on the sky ride and got a birds-eye-view of the seaside amusement park and the board walk.

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There were so many rides- the Fireball, Ferris wheel, and THE GIANT DIPPER!

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The oldest roller coaster on the West coast! We went for a ride on the Giant Dipper and believe it or not – this roller coaster ride was our first (and only) ever together.

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We spent all night on the boardwalk, watched the sun set, and walked all the way down to the fishing pier. This crazy red moon rose over the water…

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The fishing pier is huge and there are sea lion barks abound. We couldn’t find them at first – then we found the stairs. The stairs were built onto the side of the pier and seemed to go right down to the ocean. We found that they lead to several landings that were right above the water and they were filled with sea lions!

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They were right in front of us, and only separated by a fence! There were so many of them, just being huge, hanging out and barking. There was a little guy that some how found his way to the other side of the fence… I don’t think his momma was too happy about that. It was really exciting to see them so close.

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What a great night… and it was just on a whim that we stopped in this ocean town.

I have realized this how my most loved travel memories are made. Don’t make plans, just go. I’m pretty lucky that I can travel with my husband like this – we take wrong turns, get lost, and laugh about it along the way… but it always leads to great adventures.

Stay warm everybody!

Central Market: some new stands for 2013!

There’s some new stands popping up at the Lancaster Central Market¬†¬†this year. I thought I spread the word about a few…

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Pureblend Tea serves up specialty tea lattes and Matcha¬†– all organic. I’ve had two tea lattes so far and they were both really good! I tried the blackberry chaikhana and the chocolate chai latte. I liked the teas, just one heads up – some of the¬†lattes have flavor syrup in them. My blackberry tea had blackberry syrup – which wasn’t¬†bad –¬†I was just expecting blackberries in with the tea leaves. Sometimes the syrups are a little too sweet for me. The chocolate chai was yummy, it only had a hint of chocolate right in with the tea leaves. I did decline the square of organic dark chocolate that could have been added to it. I am sure it is good¬†however you order¬†– like a hot chocolate chai.

I am really excited for the opening of Oasis.¬†I saw a sign on a corner stand (that used to be Senorita Burrita) advertising their opening. They will have organic dairy products. I have recently switched over to organic milk instead of drinking soy milk all the time. I’m sure this stand will help me with that.

Also new for 2013 – I am trying really hard not to shop at big grocery stores. I am only allowing myself one visit a month to a chain grocery store like Giant. My husband has gone on a little health kick and has changed his diet –¬†I am following suit. Mostly our switches are to organic dairy products, different¬†types of sugars, cutting out the white flour (I haven’t cut the pasta yet), and making sure we are getting plenty of veggies. I am also trying to buy as local as I can this year. I think that we eat pretty healthy already so it hasn’t been to hard –¬†So far it is going very well. I am definitely cutting down the grocery bill, mostly because I am not buying a bunch of unnecessary items at the grocery store.

But back to Market…

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Rooster Street Provisions¬†specializes in awesome pork products!!! I got their italian sausage¬†this past saturday. I added it to some homemade sauce and poured it over pasta. I loved it! it is worth all these exclamation¬†points!! I can not wait to go back and try some of their other cured meats. I’ll visit them on saturday and pick out something else extra special to snack on. If you want to see some pretty pics of their products – check out their instagram¬†page @roosterst. I also love their yellow framed chalkboard and wooden counters at their stand. Beautifully done!

On the other side of Rooster Street Provisions is…

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Shady Maple – chock-full of baked goods. I haven’t tried anything from here yet… I just noticed that their new sign is huge! What a contrast to the Rooster Street stand. Everyone loves a little variety, right?

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I did pick up a lonely looking cupcake at Wendy Jo’s. This stand has been at market for a while and it continues to be delicious.

Right next to Wendy Jo’s is a food stand called Comfort Bakehouse. They make all kinds of foods from meatloaf to eggs… all¬†in muffin tins! All of their offerings look quite tasty. I’m going to¬†give them a try this week. I’ll have to decide between breakfast¬†or lunch… or maybe I’ll just get both!

I’ve tried Thom’s bread a few times now. They make a pretty solid loaf of bread – actually it is pretty crispy and fresh, not quite solid. The rosemary has been my favorite – but get there early – they have been sold out the last two weekends that I went to market. I have also enjoyed the kalamata olive – we had it with some delicious pasta last weekend. It’s perfect for dipping into sunday sauce.

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I made this super sandwich with a Rustic Italian boule from Thom’s on Saturday. Everything else on this sandwich was also from market – avocado, alfalfa sprouts, mustard greens, smokey turkey and sharp cheddar¬†cheese. If you didn’t notice… there’s my carrot cupcake… it was¬†scrumptious and I enjoyed it very much… I ate all of it!

Remember Central Market is open Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays! Hope to see you there!

In pictures: A day in Philadelphia

Yesterday we took a day trip to the City of Brotherly Love. We checked out a new space – The Porch – next to 30th Street Station, learned a little science and history at the Franklin Institute, and had a great dinner and drinks at Monk’s beer bar. It made for a great date with my new husband!

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Mexico Adventure 2012

We decided to venture into Mexico again for our vacation/honeymoon this year. We have been to the Yucatan together once before in 2008, and Dan traveled throughout Mexico after he graduated high school. It is a beautiful place and we’ve made some very special memories there… we are already dreaming of our next return trip. Here’s a few shots from our first time around the peninsula:

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On our first trip, we stayed pretty close to the top of the Yucatan Peninsula. We started in Isla Mujeres and went down the coast. We visited Chichen Itza, visited the colonial town of Valladolid, and went to so many other places its hard to remember them all. I also happened to find the best tamale that I have ever eaten. It was in the town of Tulum from a cart on the town square. I planned on looking for it again during this trip… keep checking back to see if I found it.

This time we really covered some area around the peninsula and went inland to the state of Chiapas. We visited colonial cities, Mayan ruins, the jungle and the beaches. Here’s a little peek into the adventure:

We took advantage of the convenient public transportation on our first visit to Mexico. We planned to ride the buses again, but we were convinced to rent a car in Merida, the first city we spent some time in. Renting the car made for a whole different kind of adventure… and an adventure it was… Don’t worry, I took plenty of food pictures and I have lots of stories to share in the upcoming weeks!

Strawberry Festival Saturday!

I haven’t posted on here for quite some time! I have less than a month to go until my wedding day and planning has been keeping me pretty busy. I have had so many culinary adventures in the last month. I’ll be posting about some of my new kitchen equipment soon, so please check back.

Today was the strawberry festival at the Lancaster Central Market. My friend Janeen and I put on our fancy hats and headed down for so homegrown goodness.

I knew it was going to be a good morning when we saw this dreamy guitar player outside getting ready to strum some of his lovely tunes:

The very talented Leo Disanto provided the soundtrack for our strawberry breakfast.¬† Check him out, buy a record, you won’t be sorry ūüôā

The Friends of Central Market had strawberry shortcake outside, made with Lancaster County strawberries, whipped cream and homemade shortcake. It was fresh and delicious!

We paired the berry breakfast with some iced coffee drinks from my favorite coffee stop: Mean Cup. I love this barista… oh sorry, I don’t think he likes to be called a barista… the infamous Vogan Gabor!!!

He remembers my coffee drink every time I go there: iced soy Chai charger. It makes me feel like a VIP. I don’t even have to place my order, he just gets it ready for me before I get through the whole coffee line. It makes me feel like “yea, I’m awesome” when I get my coffee drink and everyone else looks and wonders “who’s that cool girl?”

I love you Mean Cup… Don’t ever go anywhere because my market experience just won’t be the same with you.

There were strawberries for sale at most of the stands but they were selling out pretty quickly. I am going to head back down on Tuesday to see if I could get a few more cartons of the little ruby-red gems. I am going to try to make some home-made strawberry jam this year!

Enjoy strawberry season! It will be here and gone before you know it!

NOLA Eats – Po’Boys for Sandwich Wednesday!

I started looking through some of my vacation photos this week and it’s been making me miss summer. I never finished blogging about my week in New Orleans. I was really on the go with no time to hang out at the computer. I’ll be sharing some more vacation posts this week, just because I’m kind of missing summer…

I ate a few Po’boys throughout the week. After our day at the Audubon Zoo we stopped at Mahony’s, one of Dan’s favorite spots.

In addition to being all talked up by Dan, Mahony’s has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network. Dan keeps telling me of this Pork Belly and Pepper Jelly sandwich that they make sometimes… if you’re lucky enough to be there when they have it on the menu.¬† He claims that it is his favorite sandwich ever. That’s a big claim, to say a sandwich is your favorite sandwich of all time. So I was excited to try this elusive sandwich… no luck the day we were there – it’s a special they rarely have, Dan must have gotten lucky last time… or is he making it up? We will never know.

I ordered the grilled shrimp and friend green tomato po’boy with remoulade sauce, along with super skinny fried onion rings.


It was good, I was stuffed by the time I got to the end of it. The shrimp was cooked well and not over done. The Fried green tomatoes were great and it had remoulade sauce spread on it. I think it probably could have used a little more remoulade.

Dan got the cochon sandwich with creole cole slaw. I have to be honest… this was the superior po’boy. They meat was cooked perfectly and the cole slaw was creamy and delicious. It was very well-balanced. yum.

I ate my second po’boy at a restaurant outside of New Orleans in a way smaller town called Lafitte. It was on the way back from our awesome air boat ride through the swamps where our boat captain feed marshmallows to the gators.

The restaurant was called Restaurant des Familles because it was right on the Bayou des Familles. It doesn’t look like much from the front but it was actually a pretty fancy restaurant inside. The whole back of the building is a wall of windows that’s right up against the water and you can gator watch while you eat.

I started with a cup of Gumbo.

And then I had the fried catfish po’boy.

It was pretty awesome.

I think I had a pretty good po’boy experience while in Louisiana. There are a bunch of places that I didn’t get to go to… so I already have my sandwiches picked out for my next visit!