We’re nearing the end of California’s Super Bloom – a beautiful result of the heavy rainfall this winter. It has been beyond gorgeous!
Have you ever heard of Colmar, France?! Looks straight out of a fairy tale.
And as if I didn’t already want to travel everywhere all the time, here’s a great list of the Top 10 Cheapest Travel Destinations – where would you go? All of them sound awesome, especially Spain, Serbia and and Greece.
One of my earlier memories is when I was probably 3 or 4, around Tessa’s age, and we were at the beach with my family. I was collecting seashells all afternoon and had a full bag. Right before we were about to go home, we noticed one shell was actually a little hermit crab. It was gross to me and I remember being so sad (and probably cried) that I had to dump out the entire bag. This memory may not be 100% accurate because why we didn’t just take the crab out of the bag we’ll never know, ha, ha! Anyway, even though we don’t live super close to the beach we are excited to be living a lot closer than before!
This weekend Brent didn’t have any Saturday sports (the pee wee sports he’s been doing through the city rec center) so we decided to check out Newport Beach (which only took us about 40 minutes). It was a little chilly at first which was actually perfect because the beach seemed less crowded and we found a front row parking spot. I underestimated how much the kids would want to play in the cold water so we didn’t dress them in their swimsuits but we still had fun wading in the water, watching surfers, and building sand castles. Neither of the kids had any interest in collecting shells but were very into the waves. The weather turned out to be perfect and it was fun to see the kids’ excitement since the last time we were at a beach was when Tessa was 6 months old.
After the beach, we went to Hop Doddy, which is a gourmet burger place that we had tried in Austin. If I had to compare it, it would be similar to Shake Shack in price and restaurant vibe but like 10x better than Shake Shack. I like Hop Doddy’s quality of meat, variety of burgers, the basic fries are very flavorful and they also have shakes which I’ve heard are delicious. Luckily for us, there are a few locations outside of Texas including Southern California (the one we went to was in Tustin).
Because of all the rain this winter, the wildflowers are in full bloom and everything is more vibrant and lush than normal. It is gorgeous in Chino Hills with all the rolling hills and the highways lined with yellow and purple wildflowers. We wish every Saturday could be like this!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We’re headed to an NHL game tonight (Anaheim Ducks vs. Buffalo Sabres)! We didn’t realize it was St. Patrick’s Day but it’ll be a fun way to celebrate. This will be our 2nd hockey game – the first was in DC to see the Capitals and it was so fun!
We’d love to go back to Ireland one day! We were in Dublin for a few days when we moved back from Edinburgh and I’d love to see the Cliffs of Moher:
Love this dainty horseshoe good luck charm necklace:
I love donuts but not all donuts. I’m particular with the taste, texture, flavor and toppings of donuts so a regular store bought or gas station donut doesn’t do it for me. I’m more into gourmet donuts if I’m going to consume that many calories. We’ve had a lot of delicious donuts in the various cities we’ve lived in or travelled to like Voodoo Donut and Blue Star Donut in Portland, Round Rock Donut outside of Austin, Gourdoughs’ in Austin and recently The Donut Man (LA). This last weekend we drove out to Highland Park (which is near Pasadena) based on a few recommendations to try Donut Friend. It is absolutely amazing and here’s why Donut Friend is my new top donut:
- Taste – the dough was delicious and soft with a nice consistency.
- Flavors – they have so many types of donuts, plus you can create your own with various fillings and toppings! Donut Friend was started by a music producer and a lot of the flavors are puns on band names. Check out their amazing menu!
- Texture – the donuts were the perfect amount of dense and light. I also loved that the glaze wasn’t overly sweet or sticky. Like you could eat a donut and it wouldn’t leave glaze all over your fingers.
- Unique – they have a lot of donut ‘sandwiches’ for example, a glaze donut cut in half with a cream or custard layer and then topped with glaze (vanilla, lemon, strawberry) or chocolate and then toppings.
- Happiness – we had heard a lot about Donut Friend and read tons of positive reviews. The shop is small but everyone was so happy and the employees with fast and friendly. They also have an option to buy online and pick up later. This is especially key for me because nothings more disappointing than driving an hour to have your favorite donut sold out, ha, ha! So in the afternoon I bought online two apple fritters to pick up in the evening.
In addition to the apple fritter (which is called “Fritter Seems Forever”!) I also tried the Strawberry Lab which is a glaze donut cut in half, a layer of whipped cream and sliced strawberries, similar to a strawberry shortcake but with a delicious donut. Dave and the kids tried a few kinds including a peanut butter and jelly donut, butterfinger and some custard filled donuts. They also have a donut sundae called “Taking back Sundae” that I need to try!
Here is an interview with Mark Trombino, the former pop punk producer and founder of Donut Friend.
With this most recent move to LA area, we have moved 11 times in our 10 years of marriage. You’d think that by now that we’re experts and that our moves are effortless, easy and enjoyable – ha, ha! We do love traveling and exploring new cities and places but if we move again it’ll be too soon 😉 Moving is exciting, stressful and full of possibilities. We have lived in some amazing cities including Washington DC, Edinburgh and Austin.
Here are a few things we have learned through all our moves:
-Buying a brand new home is (obviously) the easiest (and most fun!) This is in regards to loans, financial transactions and the closing process. We bought our home in Austin from the previous owner and the process was more stressful because the closing process took longer since 2 parties were involved. We were in an AirBnB for a few weeks while we were in transition. So if you buy, anticipate it taking about a month for the negotiations, loans, paperwork, inspection, etc to process until the time you actually get the key.
–Discard of things you don’t use! Don’t pack up something you haven’t used in years to your next home because you ‘might use it sometime’! If an object or article of clothing has served it’s purpose, doesn’t fit, is never use, etc someone else may benefit – we made numerous trips to Goodwill in preparing for each of our moves and we haven’t missed any of those items we donated. Moving is also a great time to make a few extra dollars selling items you don’t use. We had a few duplicate kitchen items we received as wedding presents that we stored, moved and for some reason kept for NINE years! Selling and discarding such items is refreshing and one less thing to pack. We’ve had pretty good success using Facebook Marketplace.
–Get moving boxes from Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Moving boxes from a place like Uhaul, a storage place or Home Depot can add up in cost and usually you can find people with spare boxes in good condition. We only had 2 weeks from when we moved from Utah to Texas and no one had free boxes so we had to buy them but luckily that was the only time.
And my #1 moving tip:
–Declutter ASAP! You have more stuff than you think (especially once you have kids) and the sooner you start, the less you’ll have to pack. Your garbage can will fill up so fast and the last thing you want to be doing is hauling trash to a local or city dumpster. The day you know you’re moving, start de-cluttering! Pack conscientiously and try not to haul around stuff you won’t use in your new home.
So far we’ve really loved Chino Hills! We’ve been here for one month already. The main things we look for when we move cities is 1) quality of school district 2) affordability 3)accessibility (distance to important things like a gym, church, library, freeway, etc) 4) crime levels. Since we’d never heard of or been to Chino Hills before submitting our lease application we did a ton of online research. One of the sites we found very valuable is Area Vibes (thanks, Nashes!)
Chino Hills is hilly (obviously ha), has top rated schools, lots of vegetation, close to shopping, restaurants, gym, church, parks, etc. It isn’t super close to downtown (depending on traffic it can take a long time) but luckily we don’t have to drive into the city and Dave can work from the units he manages or from their downtown office. The house has a lot of natural light and lots of built in cabinets in the kitchen, like so much there are empty cupboards!
The only things we haven’t liked so far are behind the backyard is a road that isn’t super busy but still has traffic. Our other homes have been on cul de sacs and super quiet. Our current home is on a cul de sac but it’s a long cul de sac and we’re not on the end part. The other thing I dislike is the color of the main part of the house – it’s yellow!!! You can’t really tell from these pictures but I feel like the color makes the room feel dated and grungy. The master bed and bathroom are cornflower blue which I’m not a huge fan of but the hallway, stairwell and other bedrooms are white (which is my first choice). Overall though we are happy especially since we signed the lease without seeing it.
We’re bit by bit getting settled in and unpacking on rental home in CA. While we miss Austin, we are enjoying the great weather and looking forward to exploring another new city. Some of our favorite family things we’ve done so far:
Hike the Hollywood sign – There are lots of trail heads and we picked one based on Google searches that said this trail was good for strollers. The 2 small dirt lots that are usually available were closed because it was a holiday but, the trail was dirt or asphalt and great for our double jogging stroller. It’s a great hike with views you can’t beat! It’s on the opposite side of the city but if it were closer we’d probably go more.
Georgetown Cupcake – We loved Georgetown Cupcake when we lived in DC and Virginia and happy to be reunited here in LA with our favorite cupcake place. They have classics, everyday flavors (like vanilla squared), daily flavors and seasonal flavors – I finally got to try their peppermint cupcakes!
Tacos – there are so many great taco places, our 2 favorites so far are Guisados (downtown and Santa Monica) and a local place Taqueria Mora. We like simple street tacos, basic sides like rice and beans and carne asada fries 🙂 We’re looking forward to trying more tacos!
Salt and Straw – we first tried this in Portland and it’s my favorite ice cream so we were excited that they have a location in LA. Last summer I tried their Rocky Road and it was seriously the best rocky road I’ve ever had. Last week I tried Lemon Meringue Pie and it was also amazing.
Any suggestions of LA things or in the Chino Hills area?
December was quite the whirlwind for us as Dave flew out to LA to start his new job the first week, we sold our Texas home, packed up again, found a rental in an awesome area (Chino Hills), drove 20+ hours and are trying to settle in and unpack before Christmas. We’ve always said we love to travel and see new places and we’ve had plenty of opportunities just this year.
Dave and Bruce drove the Uhaul and Brent, Tessa and I took a few days driving and stopped in Marfa, TX and Tucson, AZ. The kids did a good job driving for so long for 3 straight days (although they were crazy upon getting out of the car!) and loved staying in the hotels. Thanks to a tip from a friend, we stayed overnight in Marfa (at the Riata Inn) which is a tiny town in west Texas and saw a unique landmark that’s literally right on the side of the highway!
Chino Hills looks a lot like Penasquitos with rolling hills, lots of vegetation, stucco homes, small yards, great weather, great location and lots of good places to eat and shop. We’re excited to explore yet another new city in 2016!
Last day to enter to win a custom at home teeth whitening kit from Smile Brilliant!
See you after the new year hopefully with some house pictures 🙂
This roller bag carry on has a phone charger – I can’t believe this wasn’t a thing earlier!
Loving the dark floral trend this fall and especially this style of dress with an empire waist and pockets!
Looking forward to being reunited with my favorite cupcake place from DC – Georgetown Cupcake which now has a location in LA 🙂
Where are the most underrated travel destinations? The top country on my travel wish list in included on this list! As are a few other places I’d love to see (Morocco, Peru, etc).
It’s getting a little cooler in Texas, but some of these popsicle combinations sound delicious, especially the mango one!
This recipe for pumpkin cookies sounds so good! I’ve never used pumpkin spice baking chips and sounds like it could be a game changer.