5.22.2017

Acai Bowls


Andrew and I have gotten on a bit of an acai bowl kick lately. On our last trip to San Diego I think we got one every morning for breakfast! They're so delicious, and make for a tasty breakfast. Especially during the warm summer months.

I wasn't really sure how I could re-create them at home, besides just making a smoothie bowl. But then when we were at Trader Joes a few weeks ago, I found these packets in the frozen fruit section and decided to try them out. And guys, they're delicious! I'll definitely be keeping them in the freezer so I can whip up an acai bowl when the craving hits.

These were pretty easy to whip up, and will definitely be in rotation for breakfasts this summer. Over the weekend we went to the farmers market to pick up a few things, and I found this local granola that I thought it addition to fresh berries, would be a perfect topping for an acai bowl. There are so many different ways you could top them, but I went with my favorite, classic flavors.


ACAI BOWLS

2 Trader Joes (or your favorite) Frozen Acai Puree Packet
5 frozen strawberries
1 banana (save 1/2 for topping)
splash milk or almond milk

TOPPINGS

1/2 banana sliced
fresh strawberries sliced
fresh raspberries
shaved coconut
granola
chai seeds
drizzle of local honey

PREPARATION

First, run acai packets under hot water, break it up into smaller pieces. Blend the frozen acai puree, frozen strawberries and half banana, add a splash of milk if you need liquid. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides of the blender. Blend until it's the consistency of a thick smoothie; transfer to a cereal bowl. 

Slice the remaining half banana and fresh strawberries. Arrange slices, raspberries, granola, and coconut flakes in neat rows on top of the acai. Sprinkle with chai seeds and a drizzle of honey. 
(then take a picture)!


Have you had an acai bowl? The first time I had one was in Hawaii on our honeymoon, and I've been hooked ever since! I can't wait to have another when we're there this summer. Something about the fresh local fruit on the island makes them even better!

Enjoy! Tag me in a photo on Instagram if you try these.




5.19.2017

Casual Friday 01



Hello friends, happy Friday!

I was thinking that doing a casual post like this every now and then would be fun. I always like reading random posts like this from other bloggers that feel conversational, like you're sitting down for a cup of coffee with a friend.

This week was quite a week. Work has been busier than ever and I am so exhausted when I come home. One part of my job that I actually enjoy is planning team events and offsite meetings. This week we held one at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco. It's always stressful making sure everything comes together as planned, but once the event gets started I'm able to relax a bit. We also had a great dinner as a team at Alexander Steakhouse. If you're ever in the city and want a good steak, I highly recommend it. The best part was the truffle edamame, oh my gosh, I could eat it every day! 

Another thing I've been loving lately is Orange Theory. I plan to do a full post about it soon, but I've been going about four times a week since February and I love it. It's such a great workout and I love having a coach to help motivate you. Plus, the workouts are different every day so it's never boring! 

I'm also excited because I'll be doing Jenna Kutcher's Instagram Challenge next week. I've already met so many other amazing bloggers in the Facebook group, and I look forward to learning more about how to create an authentic community. I'm all about collaborating with others and helping other ladies (and gents) reach their dreams! I think there is room for all of us to achieve our goals! 

This weekend I'm looking forward to staying in the city and enjoying the lovely weather. I have some blogging work I'd like to do, and I want to unplug a bit and do something fun. Perhaps brunch at a new spot? Or wandering around one of our favorite neighborhoods. What are your plans? 




5.17.2017

Winter Travel Guide to Whistler B.C.


Back in February, we spent a long weekend with our close friends in Whistler. It was such an amazing trip, we all really fell in love with Canada and the beautiful scenery of Whistler. Andrew is passionate about snowboarding and all winter activities (all activities in general). In the winter months, he and his friend Corrie are snowboarding at least once a week together. Luckily, Corrie's wife Erica is one of my oldest and dearest friends! Since the boys' Epic Tahoe pass also works for Whistler Backcomb and Whistler Mountain, we thought it would be fun to take advantage and plan a long weekend. We picked a random weekend in February, hoping for the best with snow conditions, and lucked out to arrive in a winter wonderland.


Since Erica and I are not big into skiing or snowboarding, we found some pretty perfect ways to fill our days while the boys were on the mountain. Because our trip was so wonderful, I knew I had to create a guide for the blog. Whistler is full of wonderful activities for those who love snow sports, as well as those who are a bit less adventurous. It would also be a great family vacation spot, with so many kid friendly activities.


We rented an AirBnB for our stay in Whistler, which was perfect. Our main criteria was to be walking distance from the village. Erica and I didn't want to worry about driving in case the weather conditions were really bad. And the boys wanted to easily walk with their gear to the gondola. We found this two bedroom condo that was perfect for the four of us. The only thing that would have made it better is having a queen bed in both rooms, but we drew straws and our friends ended up pushing the beds together. The best part about the condo was the location, and it had a private hot tub on the deck. Ideal after a long day on the slopes, or watching the snowfall with a glass of wine in the evening. It was truly wonderful, I would highly recommend our condo, or one in that complex. It's especially nice to have a kitchen so the boys could pack lunches to eat on the mountain, the cafes at the top get so packed and are a little pricey. Our only complaint about this condo is that it was across from a large parking lot, and every morning we were woken up by a snow plow. But even still, we were really happy with where we stayed. I'm sure if you book in advance, you'll find many wonderful AirBnB locations. There are also many hotels in the village if you prefer to have hotel amenities.


I'm not sure why I was a bit surprised by this, but Whistler has amazing food. We went to a few really nice restaurants, but also a few that were more casual and still delicious. There are many choices in the village and nearby. We were also really impressed with the service everywhere we ate. Maybe it's just because Canadians are so nice, although most of our servers were expats, but they were happy to split the check for groups, and accommodate any dietary needs. I've included a few of our favorite places for you here. I would also recommend making a reservation in advance, because without one the wait times can be long.


Favorite Restaurants in Whistler

Bar Oso - This is the perfect spot aprés ski,  we recommend one of their specialty gin cocktails and a charcuterie plate

The Mexican Corner Restaurant - this is a great spot for a casual dinner, as the name suggests, it is right at the gondola for Blackcomb. We went for dinner one evening and watched the Fire & Ice show. It was actually a perfect spot to watch, which we discovered by accident.

Sushi Village - We didn't go here but our friends had suggested it, saying it has a fun atmosphere with great food.

A few places we went that were a bit pricey, but great for a special occasion or if you love a good meal while traveling.

Bearfoot Bistro - This was a great restaurant if you're looking for a fine dining experience. If you buy a bottle of champagne you can go down into the cellar and learn to open it with a saber, which is always fun! There is also an attached Vodka Ice Room that you can go in after your meal, before dessert. Although a fee does apply. Although we didn't realize how pricey this meal would be, it was well worth it because we all loved our meals.

Araxi Restaurant - another great restaurant that is also nice, it's the sister restaurant to Bar Oso. We had an amazing meal here, with excellent service.

Christines on Blackcomb - This is a fun spot for drinks and lunch on the mountain. Again, it is a bit pricey, but you're paying for the view and experience at the top of the mountain. Note, it closes at 2pm and can have long wait times.


While the boys were on the mountain, Erica and I made sure to try a few spots for brunch. Although I think they could up their brunch game in Whistler Village, we found a few great spots. I think most people have a small breakfast at their condo or hotel before heading up to hit the slopes. So it makes sense there aren't as many places for breakfast.


Basalt Wine & Salumeria - This was our second brunch out and I think our favorite. The eggs benedict was amazing, and the service was great too.

Stonesedge Whistler - This was a classic brunch spot with really cute decor. They had a few really delicious breakfast bowls that we loved, and of course the classic eggs benedict.


Scandinave Spa

One of my favorite activities was the morning spent at Scandiave Spa. It's just outside of town and easy to get to by car or taxi. I'm sure if you stay at a hotel, the shuttle would probably drive you as well. It was truly the most relaxing, idillic setting. I'm sure it's beautiful year round, but something about the steaming pools amongst the snow was so beautiful.

We booked an hour massage to start our time day, then spent a few hours afterwards enjoying the various pools, sauna and steam rooms. We both had wonderful massage therapists, it was one of the best massages I have had in a long time. She really listened to my feedback and was aware of my preferred pressure and focused on areas (neck & shoulders) where I tend to carry stress.

After our massage we went down to the locker rooms to change and venture out into the pools. They recommend 10-15 minutes hot, followed by 20-30 seconds cold, and then 15 minutes in a neutral temperature. There are various pools with different temperatures, as well as dry saunas and steam rooms, and spaces indoors for relaxing by the fire. We made the most of our time there and tried everything. My favorite was the warm pools and dry sauna. I also like the steam room, but it was a little warm for me to stay longer than 10 minutes. The cold plunge was quite shocking, but always felt great afterwards. After a couple hours, we showered and got ready before heading upstairs to enjoy a coffee by the fire and enjoy the view. I would definitely recommend booking a massage or spa treatment, then allowing at least two hours to enjoy the rest of the amenities.


Dog Sledding

Another highlight was our time dog sledding. We arranged for a sledding tour that was about an hour drive from the village, but they included transportation. We loved the company because they use a lot of rescue dogs and help rehabilitate them from abuse or neglect. You can tell the dogs are so well loved and taken care of, plus they have so much fun working!

The tour itself was about an hour, and we learned more about the process and training the dogs, but we were also able to mush (aka drive) the sled. It was such a fun experience and we just loved all the pups!

I would definitely recommend this if you travel to Whistler in the winter months, especially if you're a dog lover! I think this activity would be great for families with children too.


Canopy Tour Hike

Since my friend and I weren't snowboarding with the boys, we wanted to find a few other activities that we could enjoy. We looked into snow shoeing, but couldn't find an affordable tour we were interested in. But we did find a canopy hike that followed the zip line course with a guide that shared information about the forest and wildlife in the area. We were both surprised by how much we enjoyed this tour. It was really affordable at only $49 a person with a coupon from our AirBnb, and that also included a ticket for the peak to peak gondola, which is about the same cost by itself. It was so fun learning more about the ecology of the area, crossing the suspension bridges, and even having people on the zipline tour fly over head sometimes.


Shopping

In Whistler Village there are a number of shops. We spent one afternoon exploring the village after brunch and browsing the various stores. Many of them are definitely tourist spots selling souvenirs, but there are a lot of outdoor gear stores and cute boutiques.

Peak to Peak Gondola

After our Zip Trek Tour, we went up the mountain to do the Peak to Peak Gondola. The gondola connects Whistler Mountain and Backcomb, and is the longest suspension gondola in the world! I was actually kind of nervous, but once we were on it I felt totally fine. We even waited for the glass bottom gondola to get more of a dramatic view! Once we were over to Blackcomb, we met up with the boys for lunch and cocktails at Christine's on Blackcomb.


Ski & Snowboarding

Of course, the main reason to go to Whistler is for the snow sports. Andrew and Corrie raved about the snowboarding. They could have spent another week exploring the different terrain. They are used to going to parks they have been riding for years, so they felt like there was so much to explore and they were on the hunt for the best runs. Andrew said next time, he wants to do a guided tour so they can do a little back country snowboarding and get to know the best spots on the mountain that locals like. The great thing about Whistler is there is something for all levels, and great options for lessons too!


Have you been to Whistler? If so, I'd love to hear any suggestions for fun activities I might have missed. Andrew is already talking about another trip, so I know we'll be back. Perhaps my next Whistler Guide will be for summer!

I hope you enjoyed this travel guide. I know it's a bit late and everyone is in spring and summer mode now, but be sure to pin this to save for planning your next winter vacation.



5.15.2017

Affordable Wine for Any Occasion


As I've mentioned, I'm definitely a wine girl. I do like beer or a cocktail every now and then, but given the option I'll always choose a glass of wine. However, I have a hard time opening an expensive bottle unless it's a special occasion. I tend to save 'special' bottles for holidays or family events, when I know I'll be sharing with my Mom and sister, or someone I know appreciates it. So for evenings at home with Andrew after work or a fun picnic with friends, I tend to gravitate towards more affordable bottles.

Over the years, I've found a few bottles I can count on that I know everyone will enjoy, but won't break the bank. And even more recently, I've tried a few affordable options that surprised me so I wanted to share them with you.


During the summer months, I mostly find myself drawn towards the white and rose varieties. There are so many great options available, but I thought I would share a few of my go-to favorites, that are always popular when I bring them to picnics or gatherings with friends.


Espiral Vino Verde

For Vino Verde, I have to give credit to my good friend Chris. She discovered this at Trader Joes and it's since become a favorite for our friends. If you can believe it, it's only $4.49 a bottle! It's a light, slightly effervescent wine that is crisp and perfect for summer. 



Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

Yet again, this wine was introduced to me years ago by my friend Chris and it continues to be a favorite. We actually served this at our wedding! Depending on the store, you'll find this for anywhere between $10-$20. Often at Costco it will go on sale for $9.99 or at Safeway you can get a great deal with the buy 6 or more sale. Kim Crawford is a has a nose of citrus and tropical fruits, with flavors of pineapple and stone fruit. The finish is fresh and crisp, another perfect wine for the warmer summer months. 


Larson Family Vineyards, Millerick Road Chardonnay

I wanted to include one of our favorite wines from our wine club in this list. Part of the reason we joined our wine club is for great varietals at an the affordable price. Not only is the winery a great place to visit with spaces for picnics, lawn games, and in a beautiful Sonoma County setting. But they also have great wine. This Chardonnay has notes of pear and green apple with intense citrus fruit flavors. As a part of our wine club we get this for less than $20, and although it's not sold in stores I would say it's worth a trip to the winery to pick up a few bottles!


Rosé has to be the perfect picnic wine. My girlfriends and I love to share a bottle together over brunch or an afternoon visiting one of our favorite wineries. Before many of my close friends moved away from the city, we used to get together to watch The Bachelor every Monday, and usually rosé would be our wine of choice. Because of that, I've found a few affordable options that are great to keep on hand for any fun weekend activities that may come up.


Bieler Pere et Fils Rosé

This is a classic rosé that is perfect for a warm summer picnic. It boasts a delicate balance between floral, herbal, fruit and acidic. With aromas of fresh berries, lavender and white pepper that is ridiculously easy to drink for such an affordable price. You can find this at BevMo for only $9.99!


Conundrum Rosé

Conundrum rosé is another great fruit forward wine with a hint of fresh strawberries and lavender. It's a crisp, light wine that will be perfect on a warm summer day. "The finish brings a lingering freshness thats calls to mind endless, sun-filled afternoons." This one is a bit more pricey, you can find it between $15 - $20 a bottle. 


I tend to go in phases with red wine. It used to be the only thing I would drink, but now I find myself reaching for white wine during the warmer months. However, with hearty meals like steak or pasta, I tend to prefer a full bodied glass of red wine. And during the cold winter months, it is usually all I drink. 


Cline Pinot Noir

This is a classic, red fruit wine with deep color and a lush body. It has a touch of vanilla flavor with a hint of strawberry. I often enjoy Pinot Noir as a light red wine when I don't want something as full bodied as Cabernet or Zinfandel. I love how versatile Pinot Noir can be, complimenting steak or hearty meals, but also pairs well with fish or a light pasta.  I found this at BevMo for just $14.99 a bottle, and for a nice Pinot Noir that seemed like a great price. 


H3 Red Blend, Colombia Crest

This H3 Red Blend (Horse Heaven Hills) Les Chevaux Red Wine was surprisingly delicious. It is a lively red blend, with dark fruit cherry flavor with smooth tannins and a vibrant finish. I loved how it was full bodied, but also had a smooth finish. This is one that surprised me, but I will absolutely buy again. For only $15 a bottle, I thought this was an excellent red. 


These days, there are so many great options for affordable wine. I keep a list in my phone for when I find something new I love, and it seems like there are increasingly more options for good wine at a decent price point. I'd love to hear if you have any favorites that are affordable, leave a comment for me so I can try them out!



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