Weekend Trip: Napa Valley and Marin, California

When it comes to weekends, I’m either stressed to the max with papers or exams that are coming up. Those days are usually spent half procrastinating (because what kind of college student would I be if I didn’t procrastinate) and half actually getting my work done. Man alive, I was pumped when a long weekend came up at the end of midterms that let me get on a plane headed to California without a stitch of schoolwork in my bag. Sunshine was the only thing on my mind – well that and the fact that I’d probably return to Seattle with a bit of a sunburn. I landed after an hour delay on the runway and was welcomed by huge smiles on the faces of my mom and grandparents as they sneakily surprised me!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

A traffic-filled drive back through downtown Sacramento was accompanied by a phone interview for one of the summer internships I’ve applied for – crossing my fingers that summer plans will be full of excitement and adventure, because I’m too addicted to travel after my time in London. Finally home, the squealing duo of Ella and Lady (my two pups) attacked me and got me in the right mood for a fun weekend home. After an obligatory Mexican food dinner, I ran off for a fun evening of shenanigans with my Sacramento girls (Joce, Courtney and Cat) – nights with those girls end up in stitches of laughter and too many smiles that your cheeks hurt the next day.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Valentine’s morning woke me up with some dogs barking, so I was off to go on a walk with my mom before we headed out for a Napa weekend. I don’t think there is anything better than a weekend spent in the place that brings you the most joy – Napa is just that for me. I’ve basically been raised up there … riding the ATV’s through the meadows and jumping on the trampoline until the sun goes down. Now that I’m a bit older, getting a few days up there a year is the best form of relaxation (and soon I’ll be able to enjoy Napa’s wine reputation – yay birthdays!)! The night couldn’t have worked out better… we headed down to Main Street to see if there was any wait at our favorite restaurant, Cook, and were delightfully surprised that they could fit us in for a quick dinner despite having a full night of reservations! Yippee!! That creamy parmesan polenta and brown butter brussel sprouts are perhaps some of the best bites I’ve had.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

I’ve got to say – waking up to a breathtaking view of Napa Valley and the sunshine already warming up your skin might just be the best way to start a day. The sunburn I was anticipating was already starting to form (thank you Seattle clouds). We grabbed a tasty veggie bagel at Model Bakery before we ventured into my mom’s hometown of Novato. The best pit stop was at the Marin French Cheese Company – brie and sweet pepper jam tasters paired with sunshine and the dogs being able to get out for a little walk. Is there anything better?

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

On our way back home, we took the back roads through Lucas Valley and were absolutely stunned by the amount of twists and turns the road had. The two lane highway made it all worth it when we came across a random redwood forest that spanned the length of the road until we got onto 101. If there’s any reason to live on the West Coast, you’ve got to visit the Bay Area during those ‘winter’ months. Highs of 75 degrees Fahrenheit and endless sunshine – what is winter again? The 18 years I lived in California growing up has clearly affected me more than I thought – true winters will probably be the end of me if I ever end up on the East Coast.

IMG_5884

Being back in Sacramento for a short while before I boarded my plane back to my home away from home in Seattle lifted my spirits enough to get me through the next few weeks of research papers and finals. Only one month until birthday celebrations (yay, finally 21!) and spring break! I had a hard goodbye to my little valley town with the sun glowing a bright pink and orange on our way to the airport, but the amazing welcome back party that picked me up at the airport was enough to bring a smile back to my face. Thanks for the spirit lifting Tay, Julia and Emily – couldn’t be happier to have you as a part of my college family.

IMG_5914What spring adventures are you hoping for? How are you surviving your winter? Get talking in the comments below!

Until next time, catch me on instagram.

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

IMG_7117

As the second heat wave hits Sacramento and valley towns alike, I’ve been searching for something to cool off with.  Instead of another iced recipe, I ventured to the Bay Area hoping for a foggy and cool day.  I know it may seem strange to want cooler weather when summer is full of time outdoors, swimsuits, and sunshine, but the crisp air that I love is one of the reasons why Seattle became my home and why I’ve always loved San Francisco.  I mean, what is there not to like about Northern California’s go-to city?  Fresh produce & fish, acclaimed restaurants, stunning views AND my new personal hotel. Maybe more along the lines of a sleeping bag on the floor of my brother’s studio, but hey a girl can dream! 

IMG_6996

Especially with the best friend in the passenger seat and Giants tickets bought, the night away from the dry heat was welcomed with open arms.  After a typical Whole Foods panic attack (it’s just not possible to walk in and out in five minutes), breaks almost giving out on a city hill and an older angry pedestrian, we finally made it to Nob Hill and ate our over priced lunches atop a beautiful rooftop.  I didn’t even mind that my soup was horribly watered down, because this view just took the prize.  Although the fog burned off quickly, the cool weather stayed, making me one happy girl.

IMG_7026

We took a walk around the neighborhood, leading us into the renowned Chinatown, where there is ample amounts of dried fish. cheap vendors and an entire micro-culture.  Most importantly, my brother stumbled upon the delicious sixty cent pork bun.  Come on, sixty cents for a soft white bread bun with slow cooked pork inside?! That’s definitely a perk of living in walking distance. Living only two hours away from the city for most of my life, I’ve visited a fair amount.  An absolute favorite if you’re in the Union Square area is Kuleto’s for a classy and traditional Italian dinner, or their more casual counterpart Bar Norcini for a delicious cafe latte and margarita pizza (above).  When in doubt, ROAM Artisan Burgers fills the tank with self-created American food and hand crafted sodas and fries. Of course there are hundreds of other amazing food stops in the wonderful bay city, so these are just a few of my staples. 

IMG_7256  There’s endless amounts of things to do and see when in the gorgeous Bay Area.  I can never cross back over the Bay Bridge during Giants season without a ticket stub in my back pocket. We bought a couple of $15 bleacher seats on left field and brought the mitts in case a ball made it to home run zone. Cheering loud and sharing the delectable (and sinful) fudgey Ghirardelli sundae between the four of us made for a fantastic Monday night.  A quick stop at Uncle Vito’s pizza for a late night dinner ended a long day on a delicious note.  Even if cable car dings woke us up early in the morning, San Francisco still remains one of the best cities to visit for the day or more.

Where do you love to drive for a quick getaway?  Leave a comment and some tips!