Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend- THANKFUL

I hope everyone is recovering nicely from their long Memorial Day weekend. I think it is important to first thank all the brave men and women, past and present, who protect the freedoms that we take for granted everyday. THANK YOU! 

I sometimes forget just how truly blessed I am which is one reason why I love writing this blog. I frequently go back and read old posts to remind myself of all the amazing things I've had the opportunity to do. Recently I've been really amazed with where my life is and the journey that I took to get here. About a year ago I read the book "The Magic" by Rhonda Byrne who also wrote "The Secret" and "The Power". She recommends that you write down a list of 10 things a day for a month that you are currently thankful for in your life. At the end of the month I had over 300 things written down on my list. I didn't realize until I was staring down at this paper just how much I have to be thankful for, the things I had always taken for granted. Everything from my health, my parents health, having a job that I love, having a boyfriend who loves me, my freedom, being able to afford the things I need, the list goes on and on. Whenever I have a bad day I always look at my list so I can remind myself of how truly blessed I am. I stopped writing the list after the 30 days, but I now see that I could add so many more things that I am appreciate of in my life today. This weekend especially reminded me of that. All over my social media accounts people were taking vacations and spending the long weekend making trips to the beach. This alone makes me smile with gratitude. Realizing what most people consider a vacation, I call my normal, everyday life. I sometimes still can't believe that this is actually my real life. 
Still so surreal 
I think my boyfriend and I both just needed a weekend to catch up on sleep and relax. There was talks about making a trip up to San Francisco, but I wasn't prepared to make the 6+ hour drive on such little sleep. We spent the weekend mostly catching up on our shows on DVR, going to a few restaurants, and of course going to the beach. A pretty low key weekend for us. 
Perfect beach day 
When you pay at little extra, you get the beach all to yourself 
Found a small waterfall on the beach
As close as we will ever get to drinking on a California beach 
Walking path from the beach back to our car
Now that we've had a relaxing weekend, I'm sure we will be back to finding new adventures and exploring new parts of Southern California this upcoming weekend. 

PS- I'm also thankful for all of you, my blog family :)

Friday, May 23, 2014

My Mom Visits the OC

I can't believe May is almost over! I've spent another amazing month here in paradise. This last weekend was especially amazing because I got to share it with my Mother aka my best friend. I'm extremely close to my Mom so being away from her is one of the hardest parts of living here in California. I didn't get to see her for her birthday or Mother's Day so I was excited to celebrate, catch up, and show her around the OC. She was here Saturday-Wednesday which didn't feel close to long enough. We had a great time, and were lucky enough to be able to fit in everything we wanted to do. 
On Saturday we went to the Irvine Spectrum which I've blogged about before. A quick recap: the spectrum is an outdoor mall with shops, restaurants, ferris wheel, fountains, outdoor music, etc. We ended up going to The Cheesecake Factory because honestly who doesn't love The Cheesecake Factory? We ate way too much food and ended up going home and watching countless episodes of Friends on DVD. Watching Friends has always been one of our favorite things to do together. On Sunday morning we first went to The Top of the World in Laguna Beach which I've blogged about before. We hiked to the highest point and then sat and enjoyed the view while catching up and talking for hours. Next we went to the beach at Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach, again which I've blogged about before. Here we laid in the sun, listened to the waves, and explored tide pools in the rocks. For dinner we went to my favorite restaurant so far, K'ya Bistro in Laguna Beach. They specialize in tapas so you can get a lot of different food items for a reasonable price. My favorite dish on the menu is the lobster risotto. Everything we've had there has been amazing. The restaurant can get loud and crowded, but it is worth it for a delicious meal. 
Top of the World, the mountain side
The ocean side
Crystal Cove State Park 
I love the color of that water
Taking our Christmas photo early this year
Feeling extra blessed to have the people I love here with me
Watching the sunset
Laguna Beach
My beautiful Mother
K'ya Bistro 
On Monday we went to the most magical place on Earth...Disneyland! We bought tickets online the day before and were able to print them out to avoid the lines at the park. We paid $17 for parking and had to be shuttled over to the park on a bus. There are two parks, Disneyland and California Adventure. We only bought one day one park passes so we chose to go to Disneyland. I was hoping that since we were going on a Monday there wouldn't be long lines. There was still about an hour wait for all the rides, but I'm sure it is better than what it would be in the summer. I grew up going to Disney World, and even though I knew the two parks are not comparable, I was a little disappointed. I did appreciate seeing where the Disney franchise had started and where it has come over the last 75+ years. My favorite rides were Splash Mountain and Matterhorn Bobsleds. The day was really long and exhausting, but I'm glad I got to share the first time experience with my Mom. 
Walt Disney 
Thor protecting us 
Snack time 
Bobsled ride 
Storybook Land 
Splash Mountain
Princess castle 
When I was growing up, my Mom would wake me up bright and early every Sunday morning to watch Hour of Power on TV which is a televised church service that is based out of Garden Grove, CA. On Tuesday morning we finally decided to go to the place we had seen on TV for all those years. Unfortunately when we got to the Crystal Cathedral we found out due to finical difficulties the church had been bought by the Catholic church and has since been renamed the Christ Cathedral. The main cathedral is closed until 2016 when renovations are complete, but we were able to walk the grounds with a tour guide and explore. The cathedral even from just the outside is breathtaking. Made completely of glass panes, you can see the reflections of palm tress and blue skies. It was sad to see the place and family that we had religiously (no pun intended) watched for all those years now gone. Although it is not the place I remember exactly from my childhood, it is still magical and I highly recommend a trip here. 
So tall you can see it from miles away 
My Mom bought a "brick" on that wall somewhere
The original church before the stunning Crystal Cathedral was built  
Fountains, my favorite 
Blue skies 
Palm trees
Looking up
The school on the grounds 
More fountains 
The cemetery 
Culture Center 
The million dollar bathroom
What the glass panes look like from the other side
My momma 
What the inside of the cathedral looks like now
I love water!
I was sad to see my Mom leave on Wednesday morning, but I'll be home in a few weeks for a wedding. I had so much fun with her and loved spending quality time together. With the upcoming holiday weekend I can't wait to share what my boyfriend and I end up doing!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

I hope all the Moms out there had a great Mother's Day weekend. Although I didn't get to spend the holiday with my Mom I am super excited because she is coming to visit me this upcoming weekend. I can't wait to show her where I live and work and why I feel in love with California. Of course I will blog about everything that we do together. I know I usually post my new blogs on Monday, but I had to wait for my disposable waterproof camera to be developed. You'll see why later in this post.
This past weekend's weather was really beautiful, but let's be honest, when is it ever not perfect? On Saturday morning we went to the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, CA. Our purpose for going was to ride on the huge orange balloon that goes up 400 feet in the air and on a clear day overlooks 40 miles of the OC. Unfortunately when we got there to buy tickets ($10 per person but parking is free) we were told by the visitors center that the balloon wasn't going up because it was too windy. I suggest calling ahead to make sure the balloon is operating. Since we were already there we decided to make the best of it. There is also a carousel for the kids, food trucks, kids parks, sports fields, live music, and a flower and fruit garden. We hung out most of the time in the flower and fruit garden checking out all the fruits that grow locally in Southern California. They grow everything from oranges (obviously it's Orange County), to blueberries, avocados, apples, peaches, strawberries, and many more fruits and veggies. They even have a chicken coop with about 8 live chickens where they sell the fresh eggs to the public. I really want to go back on a Sunday morning when they have the local farmers market from 10-2 and get to ride the helium balloon while shopping for some fresh food http://www.ocgp.org/visit/balloon/
Sign at the entrance 
Apparently too windy to go up
Visitors Center
Kids carousel 
Some oranges in the OC
Beautiful flowers
Chicken coop
More chickens
I'm a butterfly
After our not so successful trip in the morning we decided to look on Groupon for some good deals being offered in our area. We ended up purchasing a wine tasting at the Orange Coast Winery in Newport Beach. The Groupon costs $39 which includes sampling of six wines for two, two wineglasses, a gourmet cheese platter, and one bottle of wine that you get to take home worth $29 https://www.groupon.com/deals/orange-coast-winery-1-14 The store is in a really weird industrial area where you wouldn't expect a winery to be but once inside you forget about it. Our server Colin was nice and informative about what wines to try based on our different preferences. I stuck to whites and my boyfriend stayed with the reds. We were both able to find one that we really liked and took a home a bottle of the Orange Bubbly. The cheese platter was pretty good, but I love all cheese so I'm easy to please. The samplings were just that, and a bit of a tease, so after we tasted all the wines we bought one full glass of wine before leaving. The only suggestion I would make to the store is to offer some bar stools. After standing and drinking for over an hour my feet and back started to hurt. The winery has some room for improvement, but overall it was well worth the money. 
The wine list
Inside the store
Bottles of wine for purchase
With my boo
Delicious cheese
Endless summer
Store front
The best and most exciting part of the weekend for me was Sunday morning when we were invited to go paddle boarding with some friends at Balboa Peninsula near Newport Beach. We rented our boards from Balboa Boat Rentals which is right on the "boardwalk" of the peninsula. For the two boards and the paddles it ended up costing us $50 for a 2 hour rental. Make sure you bring a credit card and an id for them to hold on to while you are out on the water. We went around the entire Balboa Island which is about two miles. The first part was easy and relaxing since we were going with the wind. We got to see all the boats on the water, the beautiful houses, and even a few sea lion sun bathing on boats. As soon as we circled around the island and was paddling into the wind, I didn't think I would make it back. Standing up on the board surprisingly wasn't hard for me at all but paddling into the wind was almost impossible. I would paddle as hard as I could, but I would end up moving 10 feet backwards. My arms as definitely sore but my first time paddle boarding was so much fun and great exercise. I really want to go back maybe on a day that is not so windy to enjoy the full experience.  
Our trail around Balboa Island
Sea lions chilling on a boat
Look at that balance 
With my boo
Tons of boats 
Where we rented from 
The boardwalk with rides 
Balboa Village 
Have a great week! I can't wait to share what me and my Mom do this weekend.