Tag Archives: California

Inn at Sonoma Review + My Favorite California Road Trip ’16 Eats

As a California transplant, I’m always in awe of how vast and beautiful this state is. Having been born and raised in New Jersey where you can drive from the top of the state to the bottom in a couple of hours, it’s amazing to me how massive California is. There are so many awesome places to visit and explore, and we’ve gone on many weekend getaways and vacations without even leaving state lines.

Golden Gate Bridge

This was the case two weeks ago, when my hubby and I set off on a California road trip vacation. We traveled from San Diego up to San Francisco to meet my parents, who flew in from the East coast, stayed there a night, then headed into wine country for the remainder of the week.

A gorgeous view of the San Francisco Bay

A gorgeous view of the San Francisco Bay

We elected to stay in Sonoma at the Inn at Sonoma, which I was excited about because while I had wine tasted in the town before, I’d never spent a lot of time there.

{Photo via the hotel website}

{Photo via the hotel website}Wine country is not a cheap place to vacation.

In all of its beauty and awesomeness, Sonoma and Napa wine country are not cheap places to vacation, and nice hotels are usually pretty pricey. Luckily, I found a good deal at the Inn at Sonoma. I did all of the planning for this trip, so I was really hoping that the hotel would satisfy everyone in the group. Luckily, the Inn at Sonoma turned out to be a great choice!

Inn at Sonoma street

The inn is located in the heart of downtown Sonoma, which was great. We were able to casually walk to dinner, and we explored downtown Sonoma one morning during the trip.

Downtown Sonoma-3

It’s full of little shops, restaurants and wine tasting rooms, and has a nice park and historic museum in the middle of it. I found downtown Sonoma to be a lovely, charming area.

Downtown Sonoma park

Downtown Sonoma-1

Our room at the Inn at Sonoma was pretty, tidy and clean, complete with a fireplace and a balcony. It was nothing too elaborate, but it had everything we were looking for in a hotel.

Inn at Sonoma room

Continue reading

Weekend Escape to Big Bear Lake

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny space you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert

With my hubby and I both home last weekend with nothing on the agenda, we decided to  take a road trip to a place we’d never visited before: Big Bear Lake. Located in the San Bernardino Mountains about 2 1/2 hours away from our house in San Diego’s North County, Big Bear Lake is a popular destination known for its winter ski slopes as well as summertime water sports.  
Big Bear-4

My hubby had brought up the idea of camping in the area mid-last week. However, all of the campsites at the lakeside campground I wanted to stay at were already reserved. Plus fires aren’t currently allowed there because of the extremely dry conditions and high fire danger, and that’s kind of my favorite part of camping, so we decided to leave the pup home and go for a long day trip to Big Bear instead. We headed out bright and early on Saturday morning, with breakfast on-the-go:

Big Bear snacks-1

Road trip breakfast: Siggi’s yogurt, Van’s cocoa cereal, blueberries, Blue Diamond almonds and dried bananas

Like much of California, the trip to Big Bear was a gorgeous ride. The town is named after the Grizzly bears that inhabit the area, which I was kind of hoping to spot while we were there (within a safe distance), but no such luck!
Big Bear grizzly bear

Once we got into the area, we popped into the Big Bear Discovery Center to obtain a parking pass and get further info about the trail we wanted to hike: Cougar Crest – Bertha Peak. After researching the trails in the Big Bear area, this one seemed to be the best half-day hike for us. The hike is about 7 miles from the trailhead, and pretty soon after you start hiking, the views are beautiful: lots of trees and green, and a nice view of Big Bear Lake and surrounding mountains!  Big Bear-2The hike had a nice steady incline a lot of the time. We were happy that it wasn’t too steep because both A and I felt a little short of breath from the elevation, which we aren’t used to! Big Bear Lake sits at around 7,000 feet in elevation.Big Bear-1

The Cougar Crest Trail ends at the juncture of the world-famous Pacific Crest Trail, known as the PCT. This was kind of cool for us because we watched the movie Wild recently, the non-fiction movie starring Reese Witherspoon about a woman who hikes 1,100 miles of the PCT in hopes of finding herself and getting a fresh start. The movie itself was just okay, but being a hiker, I was intrigued at the movie’s concept. The PCT runs all the way down from Mexico up to Canada!

PCT sign

Continue reading

Solvang: California’s Taste of Denmark

One of the things that I love about living in California is that there are so many cool areas to go on road trips to, both within the state and in neighboring ones. I’ve been itching to go on a weekend getaway, and so at the end of last week, my husband and I journeyed to the Santa Barbara area for a few days of wine tasting, hiking, and exploring the Danish capital of America – a town called Solvang. Solvang-1

I like traveling to unique little places, and Solvang is definitely just that. It’s a quaint, Danish-styled town in the Santa Ynez Valley that was founded a little over 100 years ago, and is home to a population of just 5,000+ people.

Solvang is about a 4-hour drive from where I live in northern San Diego County. Pretty much the whole drive, you’re traveling right up the Pacific Coast with a pretty view of the ocean, or you’re looking at mountains, or sometimes both. Besides the Los Angeles-area traffic that you’re bound to hit in some shape or form, I find it to be a pretty relaxing drive with nice scenery to gaze at.

Coast Drive Scenery

When you walk around the town of Solvang, you feel like you’re in a bit of another world – or at the very least, you don’t feel like you’re in California. All of the buildings feature traditional Danish-style architecture, complete with windmills and replicas of statues found in Copenhagen. I’ve never been to Denmark, but the style of the town reminds me a lot of Austria. On the outskirts of town there are picturesque rolling green hills, that were also reminiscent of my stay in Austria.  Solvang Collage

Continue reading

My New Home

Greetings from SoCal!

Fortunately the move went pretty smoothly last weekend and I’ve been busy unpacking and getting things in order. Even though we’re living a good 45 minutes north from where we resided last time we lived in the area (for reference for any locals, we lived in Mission Valley before and just moved into Oceanside), I’m already starting to feel at home and am glad to be back!

Harley car ride

Harley ready for the car ride down to San Diego

I didn’t know many people in the Bay Area and am enjoying having friends again! The first day we were here, a couple of our friends came over to help us unpack and see our place. We drank some wine and caught up, and it was a nice break from the madness of moving. Last night, I got together and had some Greek food with one of the first friends I made when I initially moved to San Diego. Her Marine just got stationed in Texas and she’s moving there in a few days. I wish she was staying here but am glad I got to see her before she left.

beach walkway

So, let’s talk about my new home! This is the first time my hubby and I have bought instead of rented, so it’s obviously all very exciting and new to us. The house is a one-story place with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.

I thought I’d share a few pictures that were taken when the previous owners lived here. Full disclosure: my house looks nowhere near as pretty as these images right now. The current scene is boxes galore with no decor up yet! We’ll get there in the next few weeks though.

My favorite parts of the house are the kitchen, which is a wide open space and, very appropriately, wine themed….

Kitchen-1

Kitchen-2…and the backyard, which has a pool, fire pit and cabana to relax under.

Backyard-1

I definitely see us spending a lot of time back there! I plan on planting some herbs and produce back there sometime soon. We’ve always had a little patio, so I think that Harley is enjoying having a backyard for the first time ever.

Backyard-2

The house is located 6 miles from the beach, and you better believe that we’ll be spending a lot of time with our feet in the sand! 🙂

This next chapter of my life has begun, and I’m excited for SoCal living again! I hope that you all will continue to join me as I chronicle my eats, recipes, workouts, and life in general as I pursue a happy, healthy life in the San Diego area.

Question: What’s most important to you in a home?

For me, a really crappy kitchen is a dealbreaker. I also can’t deal with tiny closets!

Sayonara San Francisco Bay Area

Happy Friday!

San-Fran

It has been a little crazy around here because… I’m moving back to San Diego tomorrow! And I closed on my house there yesterday! The signing process got delayed a bit because of the intense wild fire situation going on there, but my new home should be safe from harm and is officially ours. 🙂 I’ll share pictures soon!

Oh, and have I mentioned that it has been so hot in Morgan Hill all week? It’s “cooler” here today, which means 90 degrees instead of yesterday’s 99 degrees. It’s May madness!

While I am so excited to be going back to San Diego, I have had a lot of fun since moving to the South San Francisco Bay Area 14 months ago. I thought it’d be nice to reflect on my favorite memories of living up here, so here we go:

Harley hiking-1

  • Hiking – This is the most rural I’ve ever lived, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the trails and hilly terrain I’ve had easy access to here. I’ve certainly done a ton of hiking in the past year!

Stag's Leap

Winery

The view from Clos La Chance

  • Wineries – What wine lover wouldn’t enjoy being near tons of wineries? We made quite a few visits to our favorite one, Clos La Chance, which was only 2 miles down the street. I’m going to miss picnicking there! Although I would have loved to fit in more time to Napa and Sonoma, I’m glad I got to make the trip there at all (Napa recap here).
Muir-Woods

Muir Woods National Monument

Emerald-Bay

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

  • Vicinity to so many great destinations – Where I’ve been living is in easy driving distance of so many great getaway spots, like Muir Woods, Monterey and Lake Tahoe. I’m happy that we were able to do some fun trips!
  • My gym – I’ve belonged to a great little gym since I’ve lived up here and am going to miss it there!

Fresh fruit

  • Local fresh produce – With so much farmland around, I had access to lots of delicious fruits and veggies straight from the farm. Right down the street from me is a strawberry farm, and 2 minutes down the road a farm stand opens up when peaches, apricots, cherries and berries are in season.

IMG_1028

  • San Fran – I’ve been living an hour away from the lovely city of San Francisco, and while I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time there as I would have liked, I did enjoy getting to experience some of what the city has to offer.

mountain biking

  •  Mountain Biking – Adam and I found the most beautiful remote park that’s perfect for mountain biking. We always had so much fun riding around amongst cows, deer, and even fox, and loved going right before sunset when the scenery was breathtaking and everything seemed so serene.

Wish me luck finishing up packing and making the 7-10 hour trip (depending on lovely LA traffic) with Harley in the car. Hopefully she won’t be whining like crazy the entire time as she usually does when in the car, as I am planning on lightly drugging her as I did when we moved up here in order to keep my sanity calm her down a bit. Have a great weekend everyone!

Harley car

Harley hanging in the car

Question: What do you love most about where you live? 

I am really looking forward to being super close to the beach again. It’s our happy place where my hubby can surf, Harley can run around, and I can enjoy the sun and relax!

Coronado with Harley

At the dog beach in Coronado last year

Hiking at Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles-10

A couple of weekends ago, my hubby and I wanted to go hiking at a new spot. At first we were looking to head towards San Fran, but once we saw what the traffic was looking like that morning, we decided against it. Instead, we went the opposite direction and journeyed south to Pinnacles National Park. The park is named after the sky-pointed spires you can find all over that are the eroded leftovers of an extinct volcano.

Pinnacles-1

After driving through windy countryside roads for about an hour and arriving at the park, we paid the entrance fee at the visitor center and planned out our route. We decided to hike the Condor Gulch Trail, about a 5 1/2 mile loop with 1,300+ feet in elevation change.

Pinnacles-2

Pinnacles-4

Pinnacles-5

The weather was pretty mild at home, and was definitely warmer in Paicines where the park is located. I had brought 4 water bottles, leaving 1 in the car and bringing 3 in our backpack. A lot of the time I’ll wear a Camelbak to keep me hydrated, but for some reason this time I left it home….which I totally regretted 2 hours into the hike when we were already running out of water. Apparently we were thirsty hikers that day!

Pinnacles-8

Pinnacles-9

Pinnacles-6

The pinnacles were really a neat sight to see, and the trail had a lot of fun rocks and spots for photo ops – and of course a few yoga poses.

Pinnacles-3

Pinnacles-12

Is it just me, or does the above pinnacle look like a frowning face?!

Pinnacles-11

Pinnacles-13

During one section of the hike there are some funky steps to climb up and down. It’s pretty neat to think about how they carved out the trails and little stepping spots into the mountain.

Pinnacles-14

We saw a big family of people, including men, women, teens, some very small children, and even a woman with a baby strapped to her on the hike. They were all wearing regular clothes, no one had water, and when we passed them, one of the guys asked if we were close to the bottom. We were actually at the peak of the mountain and they were only about half way done with the loop. All I could think was YIKES because this hike is no leisurely stroll!

Pinnacles-15

Once we hit the top, we stopped for a little refuel: bars and the little remaining water we had.

Pinnacles-16

Pinnacles-18 2

It was a little scary running out of water because we knew we had a ways to go and the temperature was climbing more as the afternoon wore on. Near the top of the trail there’s a restroom area, which we were hoping would have a water fountain, but no such luck. We just kept on going until we got back down to the bottom, and for once I was actually happy to see an icky water fountain!

Pinnacles-21

We also wanted to hike a trail called the Bear Gulch Reservoir, mostly because it’s partly a cave trail, which seemed like an awesome thing to check out. However, we were both feeling tired by the time we got to the point where we’d veer off for the caves, so we decided against it. We were both smoked by the workout, plus my hubby is insane and wore a weighted vest for the hike! With a rest at the top, the loop took us almost 3 1/2 hours to complete.

Pinnacles HRM

I really enjoyed hiking at Pinnacles, and would love to get back there to see the cave trail and hike around some other spots. And next time I’m bringing extra water! 😉

Do you pack tons of water for outdoor workouts? Have you ever run out of water on a hike?

Random Weekend Ramblings

Hello friends! Hope that you all had a fabulous weekend.

I’m in a random kind of mood, so I’m going to share some rambling thoughts and recent happenings in my life with you tonight. Sound good? Let’s get started!

FitFluential Is Fitness Found
I’ve been meaning to mention this, but recently I became a FitFluential Ambassador! For anyone not familiar with FitFluential, it’s an awesome community of influential fitness enthusiasts, and was designed to connect health and wellness brands with their ideal target market through customized marketing campaigns. I applied to be a brand ambassador for them not long after I began blogging and wasn’t accepted, and last year I decided to apply again. Second time’s a charm! 🙂

green juice

I’ve been a juicing maniac lately. Between putting my juicer to work at home and picking up Evolution juices in my hotel every morning in Vegas, there have been lots of green monsters in my life and I’m loving it!

yoga room

Last week while flying Virgin America (which I pretty much never do), I discovered that its terminal at the airport in San Fran has a yoga room. How awesome right? I had woken up so early to get to the airport, got through security, and then BOOM, I spotted a yoga room! I obviously spent the half an hour I had before my flight boarded to stretch and do some light yoga in it. It was awesome to do right before a flight and amongst the business of traveling. I vote for a yoga room in every terminal of every airport!

hibachi

Ginger tofu with spicy veggies & rice

I went out with my co-workers to hibachi for the first time in quite awhile last week. It made me realize that I’m a big fan of it and I need to go again very soon for a date night!

Confession: I think my obsession withThe Following and all reality murder mystery shows on television is messing with my head friends. When I came home from the airport at 11:30 PM a few nights ago, my hubby hadn’t been answering his phone for a few hours. His car was in the garage, my dog was home, and he wasn’t sleeping, so I immediately assumed that he had been kidnapped or was hidden in a closet tied up with rope and duck tape. I wish I was kidding! I walked around with my taser opening doors and freaking out until he walked in the door from having dinner at a neighbor’s house — which, in my defense, he has never done before. Whew, close one!

countryside

The view from my mountain biking excursion

I was quite the outdoorsy exerciser this weekend. On Saturday I went mountain biking, and today I went for an awesome hike at a new spot called Pinnacles National Park (recap to come later this week!).

Speaking of exercise, I’m currently on a hiatus from upper body workouts. Recently I tweaked my shoulder by reaching backwards awkwardly to plug in my iPad. With all of the exercising I do, I hurt myself plugging in a cord?! This may be a sign that I’m getting old. After some rest and a massage, I thought it had gone away, but a few days ago I woke up in a lot of pain and unable to move my arm over my head without wincing. It feels a little better now, but I’ll be forgoing any upper body strength training or rowing until it’s feeling a-okay. A massage may need to happen this week to help iron it out!

pancakes

In case you were wondering, my long-standing pancake obsession has not ceased in the least bit. Both this morning and yesterday I made oatmeal banana pancakes and topped them with fresh strawberries and Just Great Stuff powdered chocolate peanut butter. So yummy and healthy!

Harley playtime

And lastly, I’ll leave you with a picture of Harley during our afternoon playtime session a couple of days ago, just because she’s so damn cute.

Have you ever injured yourself doing something silly?

What are you obsessed with for breakfast?

Am I the only one who is warped in the head from watching too much Dateline and the I.D. Channel? 

My Next Bold MOVE

Happy Friday!

I’ve been MIA working in Vegas all week, but now I’m back home in Cali and excited to share a big announcement with you today.

Vegas view

I think that my hubby and I are adventurous people. For instance, we went skydiving to celebrate our first birthdays together.

skydiving 006

Before we jumped out of a plane together in the summer of 2007

We make decisions with our intuition and heart. For example, we had an engagement party a few months after the proposal so that our families could meet each other, and when people asked when we were getting married we said, “We’re going to the courthouse to make it official this Friday!” It felt so crazy and exciting, but I knew it was right for us.

engagement party

Our engagement party, 2009

While I don’t make impulse decisions, I also don’t plan life out strictly. I like to think things through, decide what feels right to me, then just go with it and be confident that it’s the right move. If you listened to my recent podcast, you know that the life mantra I spoke of is fear less, live more. I truly believe in doing that.

So what’s our next bold, awesome, scary, exciting move?

San Diego

We’re moving back to San Diego and buying a house there!

The Bay Area has been great, but both of us have missed San Diego. While we took advantage of all the Bay Area has to offer in the past year, we knew early on in our time here that we ideally wanted to get back to Southern Cali. It seems a little nutty to move 8 hours away from somewhere, only to move back a year later, but life is short and it’s what we want to do, so we’re going for it. We plan to move back towards the east side of the country at some point in the future to be closer to our families again, but for now, the beautiful, wonderful city of San Diego is calling our names.

We just went into escrow on the adorable house we’re buying earlier this week. This will be the first home we’ve ever owned. In addition to that, my hubby will be starting his own business later this year. It’s all both thrilling and scary, but it feels right to us and that’s all that matters right?

wine

We obviously celebrated with wine and cupcakes last night. 🙂

cupcakes

Mint Chippin’ + Peanut Butter Cup + Salt & Sweet heavenly cupcakes

Stay tuned for more details as things progress, but know that in the near future, this crazy awesome life of mine that I share on Foodie Loves Fitness will be continuing on in the place where my blog began — San Diego….and I can’t wait!!

Weekend Recap: A Beautiful Day in Monterey

Hi friends!

I hope that you all had a wonderful weekend. My hubby’s grandparents were in town staying with us. We had a great time together, so I thought I’d share a weekend recap.

hike-4

My weekend kicked off with a Friday afternoon hike with my pup. The weather on Friday and all weekend was just about perfect, so an outdoor workout was an awesome way to start my weekend.

Hike-1

Harley hates looking at the camera but I tortured her by taking a few photos.

hike-3

hike-2

On Saturday we had lunch at a local winery, then went to the creepiest house in Silicon Valley, the Winchester Mystery House. We had never been there before, so it was a good place to see with company in town.

Winchester

What makes the 160-room mansion interesting is the fact that its owner, a heiress named Sarah Winchester, continuously was building it 7 days a week, 24 hours a day for nearly 40 years. She did this because she thought it would “confuse the evil spirits” of people shot and killed by the weapons made by her dead husband’s firearms company. The house is funny because it has all these weird features, like stairs that lead to nowhere and false doors. Sarah seemed like quite a nut, but it was a neat tour to do in San Jose.

On Sunday afternoon we headed over to Monterey to soak up the sun along the water…

Monterey

….and watch some sea lions hang out and be their usual interesting selves. I always find them to be so entertaining! Monterey-6

Monterey-5

I love their faces and just have the urge to pet them…though I’m not sure how they’d like that. In any event I enjoy watching the sea lions bask in the sun.

Monterey-3

Monterey-4

We spent the afternoon walking around, eating lunch on the pier, and enjoying the pretty scenery. My hubby and I hadn’t been to Monterey in awhile, and it definitely a great day weather-wise to be there.

Monterey-2

Monterey-8

Monterey-9

Some at-home eats that I made for our guests included chocolate peanut butter cups {<– throwback post!}…

choc pb cups

…freshly squeezed orange & mandarin juice and roasted red pepper hummus {another recipe circa a 2012 blog post}…

red pepper hummus

…{another batch of} cinnamon raisin granolagranola

…and homemade pizza night. I made two whole wheat pizzas, one margherita pie + one with asparagus, mozzarella and ricotta.
pizza

Another food highlight was a stop at Pinkberry, where I got salted caramel yogurt with chocolate chips & strawberries. Pinkberry

Everything was delicious but I am SO looking forward to eating clean this week. I’ve been on a sugar kick lately and I need to get it under control. More on that later this week!

Anyways, those were the fun highlights of my weekend!

Up until this point, I really have only gotten to see Adam’s grandparents for a couple of holidays and meals. It was nice to have them here to spend some time together, get to know them better, and show them where we live. The two of them have been happily married for 55 years, and when I asked what the secret of their successful relationship is, they said to be each other’s best friend.

Monterey-7

I hope that one day I have grandkids that look up to the marriage I have with my hubby. 🙂

Ever been to Monterey? Have you heard of the Winchester Mystery House?

Hiking at Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay State Park

Hi there!

I arrived home a few hours ago from my wonderful getaway to Lake Tahoe. It was the first time I visited the area, and just as everyone who has been there had told me, it’s breathtakingly beautiful!

Emerald Bay-7

I surprised my hubby by booking us a getaway to South Lake Tahoe. We own a timeshare, so I exchanged a few of our days for a stay at The Ridge Tahoe. Our room was pretty nice, and the resort was around a 15 minute drive from downtown. South Lake Tahoe is about a 4 hour drive from our home in the South Bay Area, which wasn’t a bad trip. We drove up there on Friday afternoon and zipped back home on this Monday afternoon.

On Saturday, we wanted to go snowshoeing to explore the mountains a bit. Much to my disappointment, the snowshoe rental guy told us that because the winter there has been so mild with not much snow, we didn’t even need snowshoes to go hiking. I was bummed for a few moments….until I got a look at Emerald Bay, at which point I became giddy with excitement at how gorgeous it is there:

Emerald Bay-2

Fun fact: This little piece of land situated in Emerald Bay, called Fannette Island, is the only island in Lake Tahoe.

Emerald Bay-3

Once we parked, put on what we now know were too many clothes for the unseasonably warm weather (turns out a puffy vest was not necessary!), and climbed on some rocks overlooking the bay, a photo shoot ensued:

Emerald Bay-4

Emerald Bay-5

I took a few moments to practice my balance skills on uneven surfaces and strike a few yoga poses, obviously.

Emerald Bay-6

There was a really cool rushing waterfall above the bay that we ventured over to.

Emerald Bay-12

Emerald Bay-13

Emerald Bay-8

Afterwards, we headed over to Eagle Falls Trailhead to do some hiking. Our original plan was to hike high up through Eagle Trail to what’s called Desolation Wilderness…but that idea was quickly abandoned once we walked over the bridge where the falls were, and attempted to hike up while slipping and sliding around what quickly became an icy trail.

“I knew we needed snowshoes!” I loudly muttered as I tried not to completely bust my butt going back down the bridge to formulate a plan B.

Emerald Bay-9

What we decided to do instead was hike up to the top end on the trail loop, then create our own hike of sorts…and by hike, I really mean free rock/boulder climbing our way up the mountain. It was definitely a bit of an adventure and adrenaline rush, and when we started to get to the top I was wondering how the hell we were going to get back down, but the view from up there was worth it. Photos just do not do it justice.

Emerald Bay-10

Emerald Bay-11

There was not another soul up there with us. I laid down on the mountain to rest my body and quiet my mind, and it was just so peaceful looking out at the trees, mountains, and Emerald Bay for a little while.

Emerald Bay-1After we (safely) climbed back down to the trailhead, we made a quick pitstop to the beach to check it out.

lake tahoe beach

Spending the day with my love amongst fresh mountain air and gorgeous scenery? It doesn’t get much better than that!