Friday, April 30, 2010

California Day 3- April 30, 2010

The third day of our California stay was so much fun! We got up early and went back to our super cute little breakfast cafe (Sugar Shack)... we LOVED it there. It was a gorgeous couple mile beach walk to/from there and the food/atmosphere was just awesome. After breakfast, we ventured back down to Laguna Niguel to the hills where we had stumbled upon miles and miles of hiking trails the day before. After a quick stop at Starbucks for teas we made our way up into the hills. We could not BELIEVE our good luck at finding such awesome trails... perfect for both hiking and biking and they went on FOREVER. I think we ended up hiking about 7-8 miles before we decided to call it good for the day and do more hiking the next day when we had more time, now that we knew how awesome the trails were.

A shot of the ocean from the hills where the trails were. Gorgeous.

And another shot further up and into the trails.

And the other direction- the Southern California mountains.

We worked up a serious appetite after all of that hiking so headed down into Laguna for lunch. We found a quaint little mediterranean bistro called GGs.

Tim ordered a veggie burger thing which was awesome and I had a greek salad. Oh, also, we ordered hummus... which I totally had about a 80-20 ratio of eating over Tim. It was SO good. I have a huge love for hummus.

We then soaked up some rays people watching on Laguna Beach and eventually made our way back up on PCH/the Newport coast. That afternoon was VERY relaxing. We weren't really in the mood for another fancy dinner so we went back to our first day favorite (Tim is a new convert): Rutabagorz. I KNOW how many options there are in Southern California, I KNOW. But I am telling you, I absolutely LOVED Rutas when I lived there so going there twice while we were visiting was definitely warranted. And it was low key, which is what we wanted that night.

Driving back to our hotel we had the most amazing sunset.

I love it.

More catch up.....

Catching up to more March posts that didn't happen 2 weeks ago. Stay tuned and see below for backdated March posts.

Update: I suck. It's now May and I am JUST now ATTEMPTING to get caught up. I'll keep a tally here of the new ones that go up and the respective links and I'll get caught up eventually.

March 12, 2010: The Glorious Cities of Western Washington

March 21, 2010: The Adventures of Miss Bella: March 2010

March 22, 2010: Tofu surprise

March 25, 2010: The busy season week from hell

March 28, 2010: Late March walk

April 4, 2010: Bella April 2010

April 10, 2010: Puking the guts out...

April 16, 2010: The official end of busy season...

April 23, 2010: Dogs and dogs

April 26, 2010: Kansas City quick trip: April 23-26, 2010

April 27, 2010: The experiment into determining if I have a green thumb.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

California Day 2- Happy birthday to me!

Our second day in gorgeous Orange County, it was my 28th birthday! I LOVE birthdays. LOVE LOVE. Especially when I am 2000 miles away from the job from hell (or the job from hell on April 27 in specific...generally, I actually do love my job, just not that day).

On the morning of my birthday we woke up at 6am. Not kidding. It was like sleeping in since we're used to be being up at 4am. And it was pretty great because we got to see a gorgeous sunrise from our ocean view room. I'll let the pictures that follow tell the story of the day, with some added commentary, of course:

The sunrise that we watched when we woke up. Stunning.

Around 7am, we decided to walk down the beach to a cute little cafe we saw the day before to go to breakfast. It was AMAZING. Here I am drinking my morning tea. And sitting outside (novel idea to those of us stuck perpetually inside in Seattle!)

Sugar shack sign and Timmy.

For breakfast Tim had an egg white burrito with cheese, veggies, and a side of fruit. It was really tasty.

I had a GIGANTIC bowl of oatmeal (no way in hell did I finish it) and a side of fruit.

And since I am a total sweet tooth queen, we also shared a cinnamon roll. It was definitely my birthday.
After breakfast, we were sufficiently stuffed so we decided to do a nice, long beach workout run. It doesn't even feel like a workout with views like this!

And more beach... at the end of our run, we ran into a dog beach! There were several puppies there that were playing (off leash, since it's a dog beach). So much fun. I think we went about 8-10 miles or so and then we rushed back because our next stop of birthday fun was a massage. Mmmm. Seriously, do massages feel better after a hard workout? I don't think so! We went to the Hyatt pacific waters spa which was right next door to where we stayed at the Hilton. It was super nice! The massage I got was very nice, but WOW, I had some MAJOR knots. It was a combination massage of deep tissue and swedish and some of the deep tissue spots had me CRINGING. My body felt like it had worked out all kinks but there were some moments that weren't exactly relaxing.
After we got back from the massage and ate a small snack then got cleaned up (in my new white jeans!), we opened the remaining birthday present that had made it onto the plane with us! The first thing I pulled out? A new coach purse, score! It's one of their new line and I LOVE IT! I hadn't even seen it yet at the store so that was pretty cool. I was happy with just that but when I was opening the purse to check out the interior, THERE.WERE.MORE.SURPRISES. I got a battery pack case for my iphone so that I don't have to charge my phone a billion times a day AND....
A small package? And in a small package a small wooden box? Hmm.... What could that be?? Oh man, .75 carat each diamond earrings. Ahhhh!

After the birthday fun excitement, we took off to explore around south orange county before heading to dinner.

Eventually we made it to our reservations at Mastros Ocean club on the ocean... sort of on the Newport/Laguna lines. GREAT restaurant and this was where we sat.

Mmmm... birthday wine, with the new earrings in.

And a cocktail to start for Tim.

We had an AMAZING dinner... Lots of veggies, some seabass, and the AMAZING pound cake dessert above.

And what was even better? The sunset over the ocean. It was my perfect idea of what a birthday should be like and I felt so blessed to have spent it the way I did... and to hear from so many friends/family on that day sending love on that day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

California Day 1, April 28, 2010

So, after not sleeping at all the night before, we were up at the ass crack (and I do mean ass crack) to get to the office while I wrapped up some work from the night and Tim slept in the car while he waited for me. We headed to the airport around 6:30am for our 8am flight.

Eating a bowl of cereal before we left... mmm...almond milk.

Packed and ready to go!

We flew into Long Beach which, by the way, is the BEST airport to fly into in the LA/Orange County area because it's so discreet. It's a far cry from LAX, which SUCKS. So we were on a teeny plane and landed in Long Beach right on time. By the time we got there it was around lunch time so we headed straight to one of my favorite restaurants that I used to frequent as much as possible: Rutabagorz. It's (of course) a healthy-ish restaurant with lots of vegetarian and fresh options... and meat, too, if you're into that. It's really amazing, despite my crappy description right now. I got the GIANT BOWL of salad above, that would have fed about 20 people. It was the vegetarian salad so it just had about every veggie possible crammed in there. I was in heaven. Tim got an egg sandwich and we followed it all with two warm cookies. SO. GOOD.

After eating, we ventured to a park that I always loved when I was down there. We went on a short little 4-5 mile hike... since we weren't totally prepared and just threw on the shoes we had in the car. We were just relishing being in sunny, warm weather.

OH YES WE DID. Our rental car was a focus. Classy.

Dressing for Seattle weather upon arrival to the California sun = rolled up jeans. I don't think it's the most attractive look. Oh well.

At the top of the peaks that we climbed to. Gorgeous views.

And a shot of the hills...the ocean was the other direction. I forgot how freaking much I love southern California.

We ended up staying in Huntington beach at the Hilton. Several years back on our drive up the coast when I was moving from Phoenix to Seattle (see here for some history...hard to believe it's been 3 years!), we stayed in Huntington for a few days and it was a good central spot. So, it was a good option again. And I'd definitely recommend the Hilton beachfront resort in Huntington.

Gorgeous pool looking out at the ocean. Seriously, to us Seattle-lites we felt like we'd died and gone to heaven. After DAYS of rain, cold, evergreens, and BLAH, seeing palm trees, sun, and ocean just left us drooling.

That night, because we were fairly tired from the night before, we just walked down the beach to Dukes, another place that I used to frequent quite frequently in the time that I lived in Southern Cali. I always used to go to the Malibu location, though, but I like this Huntington location a lot.

A picture of us as we were making our way to dinner... a little sidetracked by the look of the pool and the ocean.

A shot on our beach walk.

Not an awesome picture due to the sun (craziness, sun?!!?) but here is Tim at dinner with his fruity drink. I had wine, of course. No pictures of what we had for dinner but I remember it being very good.

And an awesome sunset to wrap up the first day in California.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pre-birthday, April 27, 2010

For my birthday this year, I decided to take a little trip down south to warmer weather, to a place that was near and dear to my heart for many years: Orange County, California. The plan was to go for a long weekend, leaving April 28 through May 1. Then we'd have Sunday, May 2nd to relax before heading back to work. I was super excited to be going until I realized that the flight out on the 28th was at 8AM, not 8PM. OOOOH, the ruckus this caused at work. BECAUSE, shocking, on the 27th I was informed of a firedrill that HAD.TO.BE.DONE.RIGHT.THEN. and OMG even though you're going to be out Thursday/Friday which, by the way, was communicated A MONTH AGO, those 8 hours on the 28th make you an un-team player! Nope, you've worked your ARSE off for 5 fucking months straight but this one day? Jenn's not a team player! $#*&$# Can anyone sense my frustration??

And mind you, I had ZERO 4/30 deadlines, ZERO, until April 27. Start firedrill. And all the partners were out at a partner retreat for two days that week so that was awesome timing too. But, hey, cool, I'll take the wrath for those 8 hours. Jesus.

(No one really expected this to start off with a rant, huh? Me either. But that pretty much sums up the whole "pre-birthday" that was).

Anyway. So I come home from work on the 27th after doing as much as I possibly could to get the project as close as possible to complete in my absence with a small list of things for the staff to do. WHICH SHOULD BE's why we are a TEAM, RIGHT?! We start packing and I get pinged with an email which basically made me burst into tears. (I love my job I love my job I love my job. NOTE: repeating that does not create reality, at least in this instance). So, after dinner and doing some of the pre-birthday stuff we had planned to do (which was slightly overshadowed at this point), I pulled an all nighter and worked. OK, I lie, it was not truly an all nighter, I took a nap from about 2am-3am before getting up at 4am to get to the office by 4:30am and then to leave for the airport by 6:30am.

Oh and the best part? I STILL GOT SHIT even though I DEFINITELY made up those 8 hours on that all nighter. And EVEN though I had NO WARNING WHATSOEVER that this project was popping its ugly head again this week. I said that I had already had the worst week of busy season? This day more than surpassed that week. AWFUL. And seriously? Worst project hands down of all busy season.

I couldn't have been happier to have gone to California that day. It's a small wonder that I even made it back. I might have left holding up a middle finger.... and been thinking that I would never return...

Anyway, pictures below from the pre-birthday celebration:

The spread of presents, cake, flowers and card from Timmy. You'll recognize the cake from prior birthdays if you are a regular follower of this blog (see here for cake from last year...pretty similar, right?) German chocolate from a local bakery, Hoffmans, my favorite. SO GOOD.

A picture of the pretty flowers.

Close up of the yummy cake. The only disappointing part of this was that we didn't get to eat it all because we had to leave town. And seriously? Stale cake does NOT = fresh cake.

Dinner that night... not too exciting but what I wanted. Salad filled with tons of fresh veggies, veggie burger with tomato and cheese and organic whole wheat mac and cheese. Don't make fun. I LOVE mac and cheese.

Since we were flying, we decided to do a couple of presents early.

One was a great surprise! A camera! Sweet! If you remember, in October I dropped my camera in the sand in Hawaii and have been only using my iphone since. Not the best quality of pictures. This was VERY exciting! And the best part? The new one is sand proof, and water proof too!

The second present... hmmm.... what's in here?

White true religion jeans! LOVE. I've been wanting a pair of white jeans for a while but couldn't find any I liked. Awesome!! And hello swollen eyes. Geez. At this point, I had already been sufficiently freaking out....

Sometime around 10pm, working. The night was still young.... Yuck. Not a good memory of that night.

The experiment into determining if I have a green thumb.

Seeing how April was my birthday month, I decided upon one trip to Whole Foods that I would like to buy some plants...because it's my birthday month and I can do whatever I want, right?! And plants, as in, food plants. That I GROW. And then EAT. A sort of mini-foray into gardening, something I NEVER even REMOTELY thought I would try out. I mean the thought of dirt and digging and watering and growing is something I grew up with and while I loved the benefits of eating all of those yummy things, I really didn't want to do the work to do get to that point. (I was the kid who HATED dirt under my nails).

So you can see why when I mentioned this to Tim, he laughed at me. Until he saw my face and said, "oh you're actually serious." Well, yes, I am. And he said, "Is this going to be another phase that lasts for a brief time and then the plants die or will you actually take care of them?" At which point I rolled my eyes and thought to myself how ridiculous men are at times, especially when they might just be right. But, regardless, I was determined. We have more of what I call a "desert landscape" meaning rocks in our backyard (weird since we are in the pacific northwest and that type of yard is common in, oh, Phoenix) BUT, alas, I do have two perfectly empty large pots and a little grower thing on the house (YES, grower thing is what it's called). So I bought 3 plants to try out. 2 organic tomato plants (are these trees or bushes or plants? I do not know) and a little basil guy. I really had no clue what I was doing but when I got home we put them on the back porch and immediately Tim asks, "well, are you going to plant them?"

Ummm.... ugh. I was hoping to avoid that part.

BUT THEN! He pulled out some gloves! SCORE! Yes, I believe I will plant my plants then. Remember, the dirt under nails thing? Dislike. But, gloves=no dirt. Where did these come from anyway!? Apparently Tim bought them one time at Home Depot thinking I might need them if we ever were to do yard work. Huh. Anyway, I popped those babies into some organic dirt and plant food that we bought and then I watered them and told them to grow. I might have forgotten about them for a few weeks or I might not have realized that I had to water them EVERY DAY. Oops. So, at this point in time, the basil has passed on and didn't make it but the tomato plants are going strong. We'll see if/when we get actually tomatoes how they turn out. I'm pretty sure I was never meant to be a farmer but I do think it's totally cool to grow your own veggies so I'm hoping this experience works and I can branch out into different veggies next year. Oh, I did also buy some seeds for cucumbers and broccoli. That seemed a little bit too difficult to try for right now... Maybe after we see how the tomatoes do...

A shot of our favorite store... And where we bought the little plants.

Buying the dirt, plant food, tomato plant and basil.

And in the cart ready to go.

The little basil in the grower thing on the side of the house. Too bad that little plant didn't make it.

And one tomato plant!

Tomato plant number two... I can't believe how much bigger they are now after seeing these pictures. I guess that I must be doing something right since they are actually growing, even with my sporadic watering skills (not sure that skills should be the operative word here).

Close up of the basil....before it died.

Oh, and some nice tulips in the yard...that I did not plant...but they are pretty anyway.