Four Days to Home

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

As I start gathering things and dropping them in my suitcase, excited that we'll be getting on that red eye flight home this Friday night, I can't help but wonder how the last seven months will look from the perspective of home. Sometimes I'm actually afraid that I'll get there and never want to come back, but then I think of our jobs and how well they are going for us and it reminds me why we moved all the way out here in the first place.

Sometimes it's just funny to compare life in Virginia to life here in California. Like how today, while people back home complained about the icy cold and highs in the 40˚s, I joined a few of my coworkers for lunch outside in the 85˚ sunshine. But how last week, when it was averaging 52˚, everyone was bundled up like there was six feet of snow and everyone kept talking about how they were "absolutely freezing." It's laughable... until you're cold, too. I just may freeze to death in Virginia after being spoiled by Orange County!

I'm really, really looking forward to spending time at home. More than I could ever put into words. I can't imagine a better way to end my year!

That Space Between Holidays

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Life hasn't been too interesting to talk about lately, but the year is winding down and I feel like it's time to hop back onto this thing and round it out.

I am uninteresting in the best way possible, though... it's not a bored way at all, just a "my life is pretty predictable and I'm enjoying the monotony right now" kind of way. Work is fantastic, then we cook, chat, watch our shows, and do it again the next day. Holidays and other to-do lists have come and gone and are (always) coming again, and just getting to the next day while enjoying the little moments is pretty much all I need right now. Everything is sort of cyclical, and I never thought I'd enjoy the simple predictability like I do.

My parents visited for three days for Thanksgiving... which I think they're just crazy for, but I absolutely loved it! (Flying all the way to California from Virginia to just spend three nights qualifies as crazy in my book, but I won't ever refuse!) I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time ever, it was my first Thanksgiving not at home with our families, it was my first Thanksgiving without my Grandmother... it was a lot of firsts. It was also the first time I'd seen my parents since May and their first trip to Southern California, so we played tourists at the local beaches and felt like we hadn't been apart for a day.

I'm counting the days until we head to Virginia for Christmas [11] and I can't wait to see my parents again, my brother and sister-in-law, my cousins, my aunt and uncle, my farm, my bed, my ZOE (of course!) and then Dan's parents and sister, and grandparents, and uncles and aunts, and cousins, and his home, and his puppy, and then the Good Times Crew! And Macado's sandwiches, and Red Rooster Coffee, and real barbeque sauce, and southern food for days. And gas under $3.50 a gallon. And hugs from friends, and our mountains, and the reminder that home will never go away.

One Night in Solvang

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Our original idea was to spend a girl's night in Santa Barbara, but we couldn't find a hotel that was reasonable on such short notice. Zooming around on Google Maps, I came across the Wine Valley Inn in Solvang. It was adorable and just right... we just weren't completely aware of just how far away from Santa Barbara it was. (Definitely not a "check in, drop our bags, and go explore Santa Barbara" kind of closeness, at least.) But it turns out that we were totally fine spending our time in Solvang instead.

We had (Nutella!) French toast at the Griddle Cafe in Hollywood and then hit the Pacific Coast Highway 101 for a beautiful drive to Solvang.

After a trip up the coast, and then a winding road over the mountains from Santa Barbara, we found ourselves in the Santa Ynez Valley and sort of unsure of where we would end up. Suddenly we topped a hill and were surrounded by Danish architecture. We knew our hotel looked like this, but we had no idea the entire town would be a little Denmark! It was so cute! We checked in and immediately went out to explore.

Of course having a European with us opened our eyes a bit. Diana was shocked to see the shops selling Dutch Delft Blue souvenirs and laughed while she bought her grandmother a Dutch gift from a Danish town. From then on we discovered a few other discrepancies; there were German restaurants and references to Vikings (Norse, not Danish). We even discussed this with a few locals who didn't seem to understand the differences in cultures/countries or why a Dutch girl was laughing at their trinkets. I would say, "This is what happens when Americans appropriate other cultures!" but the town was established by Danish immigrants... maybe they didn't pass down this information to their children?

Anyways... we had dinner at a German restaurant and then headed out to find a wine tasting with a little entertainment. Luckily for us, the wine bar next door to our hotel had live music and was the perfect fit. The winery was called Sevtap, and man oh man their wines were awesome. I'm not really a red wine drinker and I still fell in love with their reds. We were lucky enough to have our tasting poured by the owner himself, Art Sevtap, while he told us his story and explained tasting notes. There was also a benefit going on for local artist Suzanne Alexandra, who is facing brain surgery; local bands played and we were surrounded by creative and creativity-loving people. I just loved the local band Spun Honey; they are definitely going to go places. (The lead singer also runs another wine bar, which I'm definitely trying out on my next visit, which I hope will be soon!)

We were so pleasantly surprised by our little trip to Solvang. I loved the small town feel and the community I felt from those around me. I will definitely return and only hope I can repeat a fun little night out like we had.

Photos by Diana.

A Day In Joshua Tree

Friday, November 8, 2013

The weekend after Diana arrived the three of us girls (myself, Di, and Chelsea) headed out to the desert. Fortunately we are only about a two hour drive from Palm Springs and a little less than three from Joshua Tree National Park.

Our first stop was in Pioneertown, a small western-style town built back in the 1940's to be used for movie and TV sets. The Cisco Kid, The Gene Autry Show, and Annie Oakley all filmed there. After wandering around the small town we had lunch at Pappy & Harriet's, a restaurant and venue that is really well known for their live music draw.

Next we headed over to Joshua Tree National Park for some sightseeing, boulder climbing, and a random hike through the desert to an old dam. I would really like to go back again with some better shoes for climbing, and possibly for an overnight camping trip. How lucky that we're close enough to be able to make a day trip out to one of the most beautiful places in this country!

 All photos by Diana (minus a couple I shot of her)

Wait, Where Did October Go?

Time has been flying! What happened to the month of October!? As usual, it was one of the busiest months of the year; concerts, the Color Run, my birthday, and Di's annual visit... Maybe it's totally acceptable that I've been sick and on my couch for the past three days? I definitely needed to catch up on my rest. (Not that being so sick is a fair trade.)

Di was here for three weeks and we managed to fit a lot in, especially considering I only took one full day off work. We traveled up the coast to wine country, inland to the desert, and often, just a few miles away to the beach. There really is so much to see within a few hours' drive around us! I stole some of Di's pics which I hope to share soon, because I only took a few myself!

The Color Run San Diego

Sunday, October 13, 2013

We hit the road to San Diego Friday night so we could be up bright and early for the Color Run at Qualcomm Stadium (home of the NFL SD Chargers.) Dan's cousin Lauren joined the three of us (at 6:30am!), and we had such a blast! Dan was less than thrilled to be up that early, but I think he ended up having more fun than all of us... minus having blue chalk tossed straight up his nose.

There were 10,000 people there! Insane! They let participants start in groups over the course of an hour and we were in one of the last groups to start. It was my first 5k, and I'm proud to say that I possibly ran a whole 30 yards! Haha! But hey, I finished it! That counts for something, right!? At the end there was a stage and party area with a DJ and they were tossing out extra packs of colorful chalk. It was just so much fun!

Thankfully we had towels to sit on in the car, but we had to take turns taking super long showers when we got back to G-ma's. I didn't think some of that color would ever come off of my skin!