Thursday, July 31, 2014

famILY Visits the OC Part 1

Hello blog family, 
I hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far. I can't believe it's already almost August. Almost time for the kiddos to go back to school. Where does the time go? My summer has been amazing especially because my Daddy and family came to visit me here in California this month. I had the most amazing week and a half...ever! It was the first time since I left PA almost 2 years ago that I felt like I had my normal life back. I could still go to work, do my normal everyday things independently, but at the end of the day I could go over to the house my family rented and eat dinner or just hang out with them. I loved having them here but it also made things really hard for me after they left. Since moving to California I haven't really been homesick, probably because I've been enjoying how amazing it is here. After my family flew home I had a really hard week trying to adjust to not having them here anymore. I still get emotional about it, but I just try not to think about it too much.

Now on to what we actually did! We literally did so much in such a short period of time that I've decided to spilt this visit into three separate blog posts. They arrived late on Friday night at LAX, so we decided to meet up on Saturday after they could all get a good night's rest. We ended up having a beach day at my go to beach, Crystal Cove State Park in Newport. I love this beach because it is never crowded since you have to pay $15 per day to park but it keeps most people away. I also love this beach because there are rocks on the shore that create tide pools and are home to a lot of small animals. I enjoyed exploring the rocks with my sisters and seeing all the different animals that call them home. We saw a ton of crabs, snails, oysters, hermit crabs, small fish, slugs, sea anemone, and so much more. Besides exploring the beach we actually went swimming for the first time in the Pacific Ocean. After living here for 5 months I finally made the plunge into the freezing cold water.
The family together at Crystal Cove 
I love my family
Exploring rocks
What can we find?
My sisters!
Yes, it is cold
Finally made it in the water 
Exploring more rocks 
Looking for tide pools 
Small crabs and hermit crabs
After hanging at the beach all day, we traveled South towards Laguna Beach for dinner. The bad thing about eating dinner at the beach is that you most likely will wait at least on hour anywhere you go. We never have had that problem when we go to Rock'n Fish in Laguna (I've blogged about this place before). All 8 of us where able to enjoy our seafood dinner while watching the sunset over the ocean in the background.

When dinner was over we needed to work off that delicious meal so we decided to take a long walk along the beach in downtown Laguna. My boyfriend and I love Laguna Beach because the people there are for a lack of a better word, very interesting. There are always people outside playing music, doing back flips on the beach, or even dressing up like Spiderman. Along with the great people watching, we also saw dozens of pelicans dive straight into the ocean searching for dinner. It was a really cool feeding frenzy to see especially with my family. We had a great beach day and were really relaxed and ready for the next days adventure. 
What up Spiderman?
Walking on Laguna Beach
Flying kite
Beautiful roses
On Sunday morning we woke up early to make the 2 hour drive Southeast to Joshua Tree National Park. Admission to the park is $15 for the day which we paid at the visitor center. My Dad wanted to make a trip here especially to see the stars at night since the park is supposed to have great stargazing. Unfortunately there was a full moon that night and the stars were hard to see, but the day overall was a great success. It was hot, about 107, but I still had such a fun time. As soon as we pulled into the park I was blown away by the natural beauty. We pulled over right away and hopped out of the car to climb some rock mountains. It is easier to explain how amazing this park is in pictures rather than words:
With a Joshua Tree in Joshua Tree National Park
So beautiful
On top of the rocks
With my sweaty little sisters 
All the girls 
Daddy and his girls
Looking for rocks to climb
Hello :)
With my mini me
Just doing some casual hiking
The family 
Exploring caves
On top of the world!
Thousands of miles of this...
Found some mountain goats 
Cave paintings 
Amazing view
5,000 feet above sea level
So much beauty 
Look at Daddy all the way up there
She loved climbing the rocks 
One of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen
I love it here
My loves
Family and sunet
Looking for stars
The full moon
At the end of the hot day we hiked/climbed about 8 miles total, so we were definitely tired afterwords. I had work the next morning while my family was going to Disneyland for the day. I'm not quite sure how I survived the long day of work, but I am so glad I got to experience Joshua Tree and will always have the memories of this beautiful park. 

Check back soon to see about the rest of my family's awesome visit to California. I also will be making an update very soon about what is next for us in this craze adventure we call life. 


Monday, July 7, 2014

June Wrap Up

Hello blog family,
I apologize for my absence over the last month. I was doing a great job of blogging every week until I went home for a friend's wedding, took a weekend to relax, got sick, but now I am back! I hope you all can forgive me :) June was a great month and I have lots to catch you up on. The month started with me flying home to PA for a wedding for one of my best friends from high school. He was the first out of group of friends to get married and although it is surreal that we are now at the age of getting married, I couldn't be happier for him. The ceremony, food, music, everything was perfect.  I can't remember the last time I had that much fun and danced for that long. I am truly blessed to still be great  friends with my friends from high school even after I've been moving all over the country for the last 2 years. They mean the world to me, and I don't know what I would do without their love and support. The night was truly amazing,  and I was so happy I flew the 3,000 miles to be in the presence of two people who truly love each other. Congrats to the happy couple!
After all these years, we're still friends
Wedding ceremony, I cried the entire time
I'm so happy for you Banji! 
My favorite... 2006 (junior prom) to 2014. Not much has changed 
When I got back to California after flying 6,000 miles in less than 48 hours, I really needed a R&R weekend. Instead of spending all weekend relaxing, my boyfriend suggested that we go to Santa Monica Pier for a wine festival. We've been to the famous pier before but I really wasn't impressed especially because it was way too crowded. I was skeptical about going back, but the festival was secluded and you needed tickets to get in. Tickets were each $60 which allowed you try as many different wines as you wanted from 5-9pm. Honestly, I don't think I got my money's worth since I am a light weight, but the festival was really fun. There are tons of different wine booths were you can try all local red and whites and great food trucks. We made sure to take a "lyft" home after all that wine and we also didn't have to pay for parking. What a great idea! Overall the wine festival was a great time and I am glad we ended up going. 
Back at the pier, still didn't ride the roller coaster
What a great day with my boo
Some of the craziness from the festival
After my first trip to LA a few weeks ago, I was still unsure how I felt about the city. I've mentioned before I am not much of a city girl and feel uncomfortable outside of perfect suburbia. I decided to give it another try when we went to a LA Dodgers vs St. Louis Cardinals baseball game last weekend. The weather was absolutely beautiful as was the stadium. I think anything surrounded with palm trees is amazing though. Since I didn't grow up in California, anytime I see palm trees (which is every single day) I feel like I am on vacation. Still not sure if it has hit me that I actually live here. The Dodgers killed the Cardinals so the energy in the stadium was great. I wasn't into the game as much because I didn't really care who won. Of course I was wearing my Phillies gear as a true Philadelphia would. It was a perfect way to spend an afternoon and I'm glad I gave LA another chance. 
Game time
Play ball!
Outside the stadium
View of LA
I hope everyone had a great weekend celebrating the birthday of our great country. Happy 4th of July! My boyfriend and I took most of the weekend to be lazy and catch up on sleep. I love those kind of weekends more than anything! We did go to dinner and watch fireworks on Friday in Downtown Disney. I went to Disneyland when my Mom was here last month, but I didn't get to explore Downtown Disney while I was there. It is a cute little area with stores, restaurants, and of course has that Disney flare. Parking was hard to find and ended up costing $20 for the night but you could get your money back after validating that you ate at one of the designated restaurants. We went to eat at Catal which is considered a Mediterranean restaurant but it was more upscale than the typical Mediterranean food I am used to. For an appetizer I had the Manchego salad with apples and candied walnuts and my boyfriend had the stuffed calamari. For our main course I had the risotto and my boyfriend had the lobster paella. Both were incredible. Along with alcohol and tip our meal ended up costing $200. The real reason we went to this particular restaurant was to see the world famous Disney fireworks. At 9:30 when the fireworks starting going off we realized that our table was in a bad spot and the fireworks were blocked by some buildings. The show only lasted for about 10 minutes and I was honestly disappointed in Disney. Even though we waited 3 hours at this restaurant for the disappointing fireworks, I still had an amazing night with my love and felt blessed to have shared it with him.
The beautiful flowers my boo bought me. I love them!
Enjoying my margarita waiting for fireworks 
Lobster paella 
My risotto
Overlooking Downtown Disney
Our view of the blocked fireworks 
This upcoming weekend I am super excited because my Dad and sisters are coming to visit California for a week and a half. I can't wait to share all the fun things we get to do together. Until next time...