Sunday, October 5, 2014

Goodbye Summer 2014, You Were Great

Hello blog family,
Since the last time I've blogged a lot has happened. To start we moved into our new apartment in Orange County which has been taking up a lot of our time. Between the actual move, unpacking, cleaning, and then decorating the place we've been super busy. Football started which means that every weekend we are glued to the TV. Saturday is filled with college football (go Penn State) and Sunday is all about the NFL (go Eagles). I also turned 25 three weeks ago and spent the weekend celebrating my quarter century birthday. September was a great month and I can't wait to share it all with you.

If you follow my blog then you know while in Texas we made a trip to the Texas State Fair, and it unfortunately was a bust because of the rain. Since I didn't get to gorge on fried food in Texas, we decided we had to check out the OC Fair in Costa Mesa while it was in town. I heard from a co-worker that the fair is expensive so I was prepared. After parking, admission tickets, rides, and of course the food we ended up spending over $120. Some of the food we tried included fried Oreos, fried pickles, chocolate covered bacon, a huge turkey leg, bacon wrapped pickles, and a cheese quesadilla for me. I wish the portion sizes were smaller so I could have tried more foods because after drinking a few glasses of wine and a frozen margarita, I felt sick. Right before we left we rode the ski lift over the entire fair and got a birds eye view of everything below. I left smelling like barbecue and turkey legs and had a great day with my boo.

Fried food :)
Bacon wrapped pickles
Fried Oreos
Wine Bar
Drinking wine out of plastic cups
Games
Rides
Turkey Legs
Fried pickles
Of course we did the photo booth
Babe and his turkey leg
Hilarious, I wanted to do it
Ski lift
Ferris wheel
Great time with my babe :)
Right before our move my Daddy called and told me that he would be coming out to the LA area for business right before my birthday. My Dad's birthday is two days before mine (hello Virgos) so it worked out great that he would be in town to celebrate our birthdays together. I chose to go to the Anaheim White House since it was half way between where he was staying and where I live. The restaurant is a little pricey but the food and atmosphere was really nice. The food was good but the way they plate their food is beautiful. I ended up ordering the sea bass, my Dad had the tuna, and my boyfriend had clam linguine. We were all pleased with our meals even if they forgot to give us our free dessert for celebrating our birthdays. I'm so happy that I got to see my Dad even if only for a few hours. Happy birthday Daddy!
Fancy napkins
Daddy <3
After my Dad left it was time to celebrate my birthday weekend. Since we just moved I put my boyfriend on a strict budget to not spend too much money on my birthday. He always goes over the top! I was not too excited about turning 25 (half way to 30) so I just wanted a relaxing weekend with my boo. He surprised me with beautiful flowers that were delivered to my apartment which I absolutely loved. On Saturday he took me to the Irvine Great Park (blogged about this before). Last time we were here it was too windy to go up in the hot air balloon, and I was slightly relieved since I am scared of heights. This time of course it was a perfect day so the balloon was fully operating. The ride is $10 per person although I believe it used to be free. We got into the tethered balloon and went up 400 feet in the air for about 10 minutes. I was terrified on the way up since I had no idea when we would stop. The kids playing soccer below looked like ants. Once we were at the top we could see all of Irvine including where we live and the view of the city which we can see from our apartment. I wasn't scared anymore and actually enjoyed the beautiful day and view of the city and mountains. Although I enjoyed the ride, I was happy to get back on the ground and move on to the next surprise stop. 
My flowers
Waiting for our turn
Here we go...
At the top
Irvine
We live out there somewhere
Blue skies
After our sky high ride my boyfriend took me to Inspiration Point in Newport Beach which we had never been to before. He read good reviews about the beach being very private and secluded. Other people must have read the same Yelp reviews because it was a beautiful day, and the beach was filled with people. Although busy, I think this was the prettiest water I've seen so far in California. I could sit on the benches and watch the waves for hours. It is called Inspiration Point because it would be hard not to be inspired by the beauty. We sat an listened to the waves for a while then took a walk along the beach. We found a nice rock to sit on and let the waves crash on our legs. I'm really glad my boyfriend brought me here, and I can't wait to go back again maybe at night to see the stars and moon light up the beach.
Newport Beach, CA
<3
I love all the colors of blue
Beautiful day
I love water
Watching the waves
Like I mentioned before, Saturday is all about Penn State. Luckily they had a late game (5:00PT) so we could enjoy the day before the game started. I had really been missing Penn State recently. I think it is partially the fact that I am getting older and felt the youngest and had the most fun while I was there. I went online and found the local Penn State alumni association OC chapter that meets every Saturday at a local bar to watch the games. There are over 200 members which is exactly what I needed while I was missing Happy Valley. The entire bar was out of control screaming when we came back to win the game in the final minutes. Best birthday present ever! Being around hundreds of Penn State alumni made me feel better and let me enjoy my birthday again.
My margarita and Penn State
I bleed blue & drink blue too
On Sunday morning (my actual birthday) my boyfriend took me to brunch since I was really craving pancakes and mimosas. We were told really good things about the restaurant Taco Maria, but when my boyfriend surprised me by taking me here I was skeptical. I just wanted some good old fashioned pancakes and eggs. I have to say I was so wrong to have ever doubted him. It was the best brunch/breakfast I ever had! They offer a 3 course brunch that is to die for. All 3 of my courses were simple yet delicious. I highly recommend this place for brunch or dinner. We ended up paying about $140 but I had quite a few mimosas. We are excited about going back to try the 5 course dinner menu very soon!
Cheers
2nd course, pancakes
3rd course, eggs Benedict 
We are still working on the final few details of the new apartment, but as soon as I finish I will update with photos and how the move went. Hope everyone had a great summer and is enjoying the start of fall!

XoXo,

Valerie 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

famILY Visits the OC Part 3

Hello blog family,
I've been really busy this month with a bunch of new stuff going on in my life which I'll explain more about at the end of this post. I'm also back to finish part 3 of my family's great visit to California. It's been over a month since they went back to Philadelphia, and I'm still pretty sad about it. I'll be home in October for a wedding, but it's just not the same as having them here with me everyday. In my last post I left off on Friday with our trip to Disneyland.

On Saturday we woke up early again since we decided we would spend the weekend in Las Vegas. The drive from where I live to Vegas is only about a 3.5 hour drive which really isn't that bad. Being in Vegas with a 7 and 9 year old was definitely interesting considering some of the strange people you see walking the streets. We basically just walked the entire strip, explored in some hotels, and ate dinner at Margaritaville which had a really fun Vegas atmosphere. We also made a stop at the volcano show in front of the Mirage hotel and of course the water show in front of the Bellagio. This is my absolute favorite thing to see in Vegas since I love water. After the water show we walked home to get some sleep. I think we ended up walking 7 miles in total that night. There really was so much to do and see that we didn't get a change to, but with it being such a short drive I know we will be back soon. 
New York
Paris
In front of Caesars Palace
Volcano show
Bellagio! 
So beautiful
The girls and their balloon hats
Family <3
With my sisters
On Sunday morning we decided to make the drive to the Hoover Dam after eating breakfast. The drive is only about 30 minutes or so from where we were staying. The Hoover Dam is thought of as one of the great modern civil engineering wonders of the world and was truly breathtaking considering when and how it was built. We paid for the guided tour which allows you to go behind the scenes and see inside the power plant as well as watch a documentary on how the dam was built. I'm not going to lie, the entire experience was terrifying. Between the elevator ride down to the generators and then looking over the edge of the damn, I was scared. I do have to say that outside standing on top of the dam looking out is really beautiful. Right now there is a major drought going on, so the water levels in the dam are at an all time low. Most of Southern California gets water and power supply from the Hoover Dam, so now I take shorter showers and try to use less electricity after seeing just how low the water is. I remember as a kid my Dad brought me back a souvenir hard hat from his trip to the Hoover Dam and ever since then I've always wanted to see it for myself. If you are ever in Vegas, I recommend you make the short drive and see the massive dam, hopefully when there is more water. 
Down in the power plant with the generators 
The back wall of the dam
Family <3
You can clearly see how low the water is
Sisters
So pretty 
One side is Nevada and the other is Arizona
Awesome bridge 
Where the water comes out the other side of the dam
How the water gets sucked up into the front of the dam
Where the excess water runs off 
After the Hoover Damn we make the two hour drive to Death Valley National Park back in California. The week before I read an article about a man dying in the park due to dehydration. Once we arrived and stepped outside for the first time I was overwhelmed by how hot and dry it was. At one point my car said it was 122 degrees outside. This national park compared to Joshua Tree National Park is HUGE! I believe it has over 5,000 miles of protected mountains. You could easily get lost in the park, and no one is coming to help you. Although the mountains seem larger and of course are beautiful, I think Joshua Tree is nicer (and less hot). I could only stay outside for small periods of time before having to jump back into the air conditioned car. It was hard to enjoy the natural beauty when you are struggling just to breathe. One cool part of the park was below sea level and had what I would call a "salt lake". There was some water strangely enough, but most of the water had dried up and left behind huge piles of salt. From Death Valley we said goodbye to my parents who were driving back to Vegas for another day while we had to drive home and get ready for work the next day. While saying goodbye I got very emotional, but I am just really happy that I got to experience some pretty cool things with the people I love. 
Daddy and his girls 
My loves
With my baby
Before it got hot...
Sand dunes 
Sisters way out there
Salt piles
Sunset is my favorite color 
Now onto what I've been up to since my family left. Well as you probably know by now, we were scheduled to leave California after only 6 months of being here (March-August). Both my boyfriend and I fell in love with it here, so he began to look for a job that would allow us to stay here more long term. He actually started his new job this week which means that yes, we won't be moving again for awhile. It is nice to finally feel like I can settle in somewhere especially a place as beautiful as California. Once we found out we were staying here, we wanted to find another place to live. Our place now is nice, just not what we were used to coming from our luxury apartment in Texas. We signed a new lease and will be moving in next Friday over Labor Day weekend. Of course moving stinks, but this is the first time in forever that we aren't moving across the country. This will be a breeze compared to the last two moves. Once we are settled into our new place I will be sure to update you on the moving process as well as post pictures of the apartment. Everyone have a great Labor Day weekend, and think of me while I pack and unpack my life again for the third time in less than a year.

XoXo,
Valerie