Saturday, like the day before, was go, Go, GO! I started my day at 7 am doing pilates in my hotel room. I downloaded an application on my phone and just did it. You gotta stay fit, even when you're away from home!
I actually brought workout clothes for the treadmill since our hotel has a small gym. It was pouring rain, however, and I had to walk outside to get there. Pilates in my own room seemed like a much better way to spend my time.
Soon after that, I had my hair and makeup trial at It's a Date at The Powder Room.
I was very happy with the way that everything turned out, and I'll get the same (or very similar) thing on my wedding day. We had to do a whole bunch of other things after the trial and I left my hair the way that it was, so I can't show you any pictures of me!The Venue
Our next task was driving in the persistent rain to Chateau St Jean.
My dad wanted to taste a few wines so that he'd have a better idea of what to serve for appetizers, dinner, etc. Since the wedding is at their winery, we have to use all of their wines with the exception of sparkling wines (since they don't make them).
Even with the rain pounding against the windshield and limiting our usually unobstructed views, the drive up the driveway was absolutely stunning.
I am so excited to get married here!
This will all look very different in a few months.
The wine tasting was a success. We still had about two hours before our TWO cake tastings, so we got lunch at a local cafe/grocery store called Fresh by Lisa Hemingway.
We just stumbled upon it on our way back from the winery, and we absolutely loved it. I got a breakfast burrito, but I made sure not to eat too much of it since we had a lot more eating ahead of us. It was like a marathon!
Our first tasting was at Fleur de Lisa
in Santa Rosa. Lisa was on Fabulous Cakes
on TLC, so we were sure that her cakes would be great (they were)! My favorites were lemon (it tasted like a lemon square!), apple caramel (very unique flavor), and chocolate espresso.
Our second tasting was at Michelle Marie's Patisserie
, which was also in Santa Rosa. We requested the flavors ahead of time, so they made us little cakes for all of us to split. It was adorable. We tried hazelnut praline (the flavor of champions), carrot cake, and chocolate raspberry. We liked them all, and we were all very impressed with the buttercream frosting.
We were thinking that we should get fondant on the cake from either bakery that we choose since it puts a nice coating on it and also stops the frosting from melting (we're having an outdoor wedding in August!), but I think we might go without it. It adds a lot of moola onto the total price of the cake, and we can coordinate the delivery time of the cake so that it won't be sitting out in the worst heat of the day.
Tuxes, Jean Rip, Dinner
After two cake tastings in a row, I thought there was a possibility that I might die from superfluous sugar intake. Luckily, that wretched feeling didn't last very long. We said goodbye to our outstanding wedding planner Amy, and then we went to our last planning stop of the day: tuxes. We stopped by a great shop in town that we will probably end up using. The issue is that the boys live in Chicago and in various parts of Australia, so we can't just ask them to go to Santa Rosa to get fitted. It seems that this shop will work through these issues with us and get the boys great tuxes regardless. I'm sure that they're used to it since people do destination weddings in Sonoma all the time.
We went back to our hotel to rest for about an hour before dinner. I was so tired from travel, wine, cake, and appointments that I just slumped into bed with all of my clothes on. I must have done something to stretch my jeans while doing this, because the only pair of jeans (and pants!) that I brought with me on the vacation ripped fully up the crotch! Luckily, I had my parents with me. My dad got a sewing kit while my mom pulled out all of her pants that she brought with her for the weekend and had me try them on. My mom's clothes didn't work, but all of my dad's years of being a doctor and stitching up patients really paid off for fixing my jeans. I'm going to throw them out since I wore them to death and they need to be replaced, but my dad's stellar sewing job (they didn't even rip along the seam!) allowed me to wear my jeans for all of the next day. I was very impressed.
I managed to fit in a 20-minute nap. I didn't need much time to get ready for dinner, because my hair and makeup still looked pretty decent from that morning. We met my cousin Timon and his girlfriend Yana for a five-star dinner at John Ash
at Vintner's Inn.
We had a lot to chat about, so it took us a while to get to the menu. While they were waiting for us to order, the staff brought us bread and corn muffins for munching. We were also given an amuse bouche to cleanse our palate that had foamed goat cheese and balsamic vinegar.
We all ordered starters. Since we were in wine country and I hadn't gotten my fair share of cheese yet, I ordered a cheese plate with three cheeses. I got a goat cheese, a blue cheese, and another one. The server said that he would pick the three best cheeses for me, but I can't remember what they all were! The plate included fresh jam, quince paste, dried figs, flat bread, and fancy crackers. I was very, very happy with this.
I could have been satisfied with my cheese plate, but we also ordered main courses. Three out of five of us ordered the seabass special. I can't remember everything that was in it (that's what happens when you wait over a week for recapping), but I know it had risotto cakes, asparagus, and a very fun rice cake thing on top. It was served on top of a lobster broth.
I took a picture of my mom's salmon, because it was so pretty. It included potato roulades and golden turnips. We all cleared our plates! We all had a wonderful time together.
Sunday was a little sad, because I was not looking forward to leaving Wine Country. Regardless, we had to go. We met with our rabbi (who is marrying us) at her synagogue early in the morning with Amy, and then we drove south. We were leaving from Oakland Airport, so we stopped by Jack London Square in Oakland for lunch. We found a restaurant called Kincaid's
along the bay. We were blown away by how nice everybody working there was, and the food was fantastic! Plus, look at those views!
I ordered the crispy fish tacos (my dad got the same thing), and I did not leave hungry or disappointed. I usually don't go for the fried food, but these tacos were worth it!
We had a nice flight back to Chicago, minus a toddler that was screaming from the time that we were waiting at our gate until the time that we landed. It was the baby from hell. I was fortunate enough to pass out for an hour and then I put on my headphones while watching my lectures for my online biochem class, so that tuned her out. It was still baffling to me that the parents did absolutely nothing to make their child be quiet. The father was actually walking around with her with a look on his face that said something like, "Isn't my daughter the cutest?". People like that really upset me. They should not be allowed on planes EVER.
Fortunately, our airport driver Pavel (he always brings us to the airport when we don't drive) picked us up and brought us a whole pizza from Giordano's (= AMAZING Chicago pizza). Man, we were happy to see the box when we got into his cab!
If you want the BEST taxi service in Chicago, you need to call Ride in Bliss
! We discovered Pavel a few years ago, and his cabs are always clean, the drivers are on time, and they will always do whatever you need to make your ride more comfortable. There is also always bottled water for you in the cab (and sometimes chocolate!). Really, call them the next time that you need a ride to either of Chicago's airports! Pavel didn't ask me to write this; I'm writing this because I truly believe it's an outstanding taxi company.
That wraps up my Sonoma recaps! Luckily, I'll have a lot more in August.
My parents and I had the best time in Sonoma Valley over the weekend. I wish I could pack another suitcase and go back there for a week or more, but I'll have to wait for the wedding in August to see it again.
We left Chicago on Friday morning and returned 48 hours later. Although it wasn't a lot of time, we fit in three tastings (one with the caterer and two cake tastings), a tour of our hotel where our guests will be staying, picking out all of the flowers with our florist, a hair and makeup trial, tasting wines for the wedding at our venue, looking for tuxes, a meeting with the rabbi, two delicious dinners, and a terrific lunch on the bay in Oakland. We didn't waste any time!
I'm not sharing pictures from all of my visits for obvious reasons: I have to keep some secrets about the wedding! I will show you a lot of pictures of food, though! Is that different from any other post?
Park Avenue Catering
On Friday, we met with our wedding planner at Park Avenue Catering
. They will be doing all of the food for our wedding, with the exception of the wedding cake. My dad really wanted to take the reins on the food throughout the planning process, so he chose this caterer and picked the menu. We tried some very creative dishes that I can't wait to display on my wedding day. I know that our guests will love them! The one dish that we're definitely going to change is the mahi mahi. We wanted a more flavorful fish, so we're going with something else. Doesn't it look gorgeous, though?
They gave us chocolates at the end of our tasting. Although we got full portions of everything, I made sure not to stuff my face. I still had room for them. I can't remember exactly what they were, but I tasted superb chocolate and raspberry and ate two of them. I would have had more, but there was nothing left on the plate. How sad.
We heard great reviews about Park Avenue Catering, and our visit with them confirmed those reviews even more. The staff was incredibly friendly, and our tasting was spectacular. I'm thrilled that we're going to have good food at our wedding!
Hilton Sonoma Valley
After our meeting with the florist, we drove to our hotel, checked in, and met with one of the events coordinators for a tour of the hotel. We liked the pictures that we saw of the property online, but we were even happier when we saw the Nectar Lounge where the after-party will be on the night of the wedding. We'll have our own space in a stunning outdoor area (with heating lamps) that's elevated above the city of Santa Rosa. It's gorgeous at night with all of the lights. We can also go inside in case it rains. That wouldn't be a problem, because the lounge and restaurant is also very nice.
My parents and I stayed in adjoining rooms; theirs had one king bed and mine had two queens. Both of the rooms were very spacious. For my friends who want to fit four in a room, you will have no problems!
I loved the way that they folded our towels.
I also used toilet paper instead of kleenex, because I didn't want to dissemble this flower:
While we were meeting in the main lobby and talking about brunch options for the day after the wedding, I saw that they were setting up a complimentary wine and cheese tasting. It was a bliss reminder that we were staying in Wine Country.
Of course, I hit the cheese-and-crackers table a few times before dinner. I also had a glass of red wine.
For those who are coming in August, don't forget to book your room!
The link is on the wedding page.
If you watch a lot of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives
or love Guy Fieri as much as my parents and I do, then you might know about Guy's first restaurant: Johnny Garlic's
. The original location is about five minutes away from our hotel, so we really wanted to try it.
I loved it the second that I walked in the door, because it was anything but a "snooty" restaurant. The bar was in my face, T-shirts hung all over the walls, and a friendly hostess smiled and asked how she could help us. It reminded me of a family-friendly restaurant, but it also wasn't tacky. I could see Guy's personality in everything.
Our sever took a while to greet us, but everything went smoothly once we put in our drink orders. Wine in wine country? Yes please! The servers brought out our wine in that little jug below (one jug per glass), and then they poured it into our glass. How cute.
We got some of Guy's focaccia bread to share, which was outstanding. It was light and fluffy in the middle and had grilled onions on the outside. We dipped it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
My dad and I both got the veggie burgers for our main meal. As you see, Guy does not want us to go hungry. We chose garlic fries for our side. They tasted wonderful, but I have to warn you that I had garlic breath for 12 hours. I brushed my teeth twice, scrubbed my tongue with the toothbrush, chewed gum and ate mints. It wasn't until I had two cups of coffee the next morning that it went away. Johnny Garlic's does not take their garlic lightly!
There's a chance that people who come to the wedding will get to experience Johnny Garlic's if they are there the night before it. We don't know for sure, but it's looking better than worse. We loved the restaurant and the staff, so we'll see. If there's one thing that I do promise, it's that we not will serve the garlic fries!
Hellllooooo from Sonoma Valley!
I'm actually not in Sonoma Valley anymore (my blogging is way behind schedule), but just go with it!
On our second-to-last day in San Francisco, we spent the day in the sunshine and among the grapevines in one of northern California's glorious wine regions.
We had the luxury of hiring a driver for the day who knew his way around Sonoma very well. We worked out a schedule a few days before, so we knew exactly where we were going.
Our first stop was Gloria Ferrer Winery
It's a west coast winery with a Spanish twist and has the best olives I have ever had in my life. No match.
They make a lot of sparkling wines, and our driver Jason highly recommended that we each get a glass. Sparkling wine at 11:15 in the morning? Yes, please!
Following the recommendations from the staff, we sampled the Brut Rose and Blanc de Blancs.
Al and I both agreed that the Blanc de Blancs was the better of the two. The rose was not sweet at all, which was not what I expected. Al is not a big sparkling wine person, so I ended up finishing both glasses. I could have had many more of the Blanc de Blancs.
We sat outside on the beautiful terrace while sipping our wines. They gave us olives and almonds to munch on. They told me that they used three different kinds of olives and mixed them together to get spectacular Spanish flavors. I loved them so much that they gave me a cup-full to eat in the car. I wanted to buy a jar to take home, but they only sell them separately. Bummer.
It was a perfect morning!
Next, we went to Chateau St Jean
, which was the most important stop of the day. That's where we are getting married next year!
We were both blown away by the property. It has an elegant vibe but it is also relaxed. For the first time, I saw Al get very excited about the nuptials. An outdoor wedding is exactly what he wants!
We had a meeting at noon with our wedding planner. We sat on the patio overlooking the winery while doing a top-notch wine tasting and discussing details for our celebration.
At one point during the tasting, we got our photo op with a huge ass wine bottle on the steps of the Chateau.
This is where we are getting MARRIED! I can't believe it.
The winery gave us a list of the wines we were going to taste beforehand, and we had the opportunity to take notes on our favorites. I liked all of them, so I'm glad that my dad will make all of the executive decisions on which ones we will use. As expected, we can only use Chateau St Jean wines during the reception.
I realllly didn't want to leave Chateau St Jean, but our wedding planner had to go and Jason had more exciting places to take us.
The next stop, after a quick lunch of sandwiches from a market, was Loxton Wines
. Not only was this a good winery, but it's owned by an Australian!
I also enjoyed the winery dog, Leroy.
We had a great time tasting there and chatting to other friendly people. The owner was unfortunately on vacation, but Jason said that he would try to make sure that he's in town when all of the Aussies come next year!
Next, we went to B.R. Cohn
. I was pumped about this place, because it's owned by the manager of the Doobie Brothers. Awesome! Jason said that they usually play their music in the tasting room, but they played the Beatles while we were there. I'm still okay with that.
My favorite from the tasting was the dessert wine with chocolate dots on the side. I wish I took a photo of the tasting lists so that I actually knew which wines I was talking about!
Jason then took us to another room where we were able to sample olive oils and vinegar. Yum! I was in heaven.
Jason then showed us the area where they have concerts. What a fun winery.
Al was very excited over the collection of old cars.
Our last stop was Nicholson Ranch
, but I guess my ol' silly self forgot to take photos. They have a waterfall that runs down the hills that we were excited about seeing, but then we learned that it only runs in the winter. Like most of the wineries, it's still a very picturesque property with fantastic wine. I recommend it if you go to Sonoma. I wish I had pictures, but take a look at the website!
I didn't want to leave the sunny Sonoma Valley. As expected, the temperature dropped 20 degrees Fahrenheit and we were covered by clouds as soon as we crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge. What is it with you, San Francisco?
We got dropped off by our hotel, and we swooped by the Cheesecake Factory just to see how long the wait would be. Miraculously, it was only 30 minutes. We had time to run back to our hotel, drop off our wine bottles (yes, we bought wine), change clothes and run back to Cheesecake. My pager started buzzing just as we got back there. Impeccable timing!
We got a seat on the chilly patio. I wasn't excited about it at first, but I eventually enjoyed sitting there with the view and watching the activity over Union Square.
I was still in a drinking mood, so I ordered a blueberry mojito. It did not disappoint.
Cheesecake just introduced a brand new "Skinnylicous" menu that day, which is a healthier alternative to their other meal option on their monstrous menu. I found chicken tacos on there, so I got them. They were very yum.
It came with Mexican rice on the side. No complaints there either.
We split a Snickers Cheesecake. I planned on adding a photo of that, but when I scroll through my photos on the computer from the trip, they go from Mexican rice to puppies. I guess I forgot that photo as well.
That's all I got from San Francisco! Despite my comments about the cold and overcast weather, I loved every minute of it down to the pain in my calves and bum from climbing the hills. I liked the city a lot, though I think I could happily live in Sonoma Valley! Who doesn't love sunshine and mountains and wine and cheese? At least I get to have my wedding there!
On our third day in San Francisco, we slept in and then went into uncharted territory. One of my friends from my chemistry class over the summer recommended a great lunch spot called The Grove
in Pacific Heights, and we learned that it was 30-minute walk from our hotel. It didn't take us through the most scenic parts of the city (ever heard of the Tenderloin? Not so great, and not a good place to walk around at night), but it did take us through Japan Town.
I stayed there when I was little girl, so I recognized parts of it. We would have explored, but we were hun-gry!
Al didn't believe that I actually knew where I was going, but we found our place! Pacific Heights is an adorable little area with lots of non-commercial shops and restaurants to visit. I loved the decor inside of The Grove. It had a country-western-camping-healthy sort of theme. Don't worry if that doesn't make sense. It's a fun place.
I also took advantage of the free wifi to check my e-mail on my phone.
My friend said that she had the best BLT (sandwich with bacon, lettuce and tomato) of her life there, but I was very intrigued by the sauteed pear and gorgonzola sandwich. All sandwiches came with kettle chips and a pickle, but I upgraded the chips to a cup of vegetarian chili.
I think that the sandwich was a great idea in theory, but it was so rich that I could barely finish half of it. I am a huge lover of the cheese the world has to offer, but there was too much cheese on there. The gorgonzola cheese, which is strong on its own, completely overwhelmed the taste of the pears.
Oh well. My chili was just great. I inhaled it.
Al got a big-ass chicken pot pie that came with a salad on the side. He loved his lunch.
I would definitely come back here again! It's a popular spot, and for a good reason. The staff are friendly, the menu is diverse and the decor is a lot of fun. I just need to order something different!
After lunch, we had a difficult time figuring out what to do next. I wanted to look around the Height-Ashbury neighborhood, and Al wanted to go to Alcatraz. We settled on Alcatraz, but Al got exhausted by the time we were halfway there. All of the walking around and jet lag caught up with him, so we went back to the hotel to rest.
While we did that, I made a reservation for dinner in Fisherman's Wharf at Cafe Pescatore.
My parents went there a few times on their visits, and they can't seem to get enough of that place. They highly recommended it.
Before that, I went to a quick 2.5-mile run along Market Street (I don't recommend it at rush hour- you will stop every twenty seconds for lights and have to weave in and out of crowds of people) and then got ready very quickly for dinner.
Instead of walking this time, we took the cable car. We had to wait a few times on Powell Street to find one with enough space on it, but it was worth it. What a hoot! I would never take it to work or anything, but it is a lot of fun for the tourists.
We were an hour early for our reservation, so we planned on having a drinks and walking around before our meal. To our delight, however, there were plenty of tables open. We waited at the bar for about 15 minutes while chatting to a middle-aged couple from rural Illinois, and then we got our table.
They gave us fantastic warm ciabatta rolls to start.
For my meal, I got fettucini fruti di mare. It had salmon, clams, muscles, some sort of white fish and calamari. It also had big slices of olives and chunks of tomato.Everything was mixed in a white wine sauce. I was thrilled with this meal! Al also loved his food, which was spaghetti bolognese. I also plan on coming back here when I go to San Fran again, and I will want a repeat of this meal!
After dinner, we lined up at the cable car turn-around. Lucky for us, we didn't have to wait longer than 20 minutes.
We were one of the first people in line for our car, so we got the choice of the lot. We really wanted to hang off the side since we are big dare devils. It was a good time! You just have to make sure that you don't stick your head out, or you might lose it. When you pass a car going the opposite way, you are VERY close to each other!
I have one more recap left, and that's for the wineries! I can't wait for this one!
Continuing on with the first part
of our second day, our tour bus took us over the foggy Golden Gate Bridge.
There were tons of cyclists and pedestrians going over the bridge. We had actually planned on renting a bike and going over it earlier, but it was cold outside and we didn't have windbreakers like everybody else had.
Even with the fog, it's still the most beautiful bridge I've ever seen!
It was sunnier (and warmer) when we got to the other side.
We parked in a touristy spot to take photos. I ran off to go to the bathroom (as all the good ladies do), and I gave Al my camera to take pictures.
Even with the fog, the bay looked nice.
We piled back on the bus, and I wrapped myself again in an Ikea blanket provided by the bus.
We made our way into Marin County, which houses the richest people in this country. The cliff-side houses in Sausalito reminded me of the Italian Riviera.
We got off our bus next to a yacht shop (that was our bus! the red one!) and got on a shuttle that took us to Muir Woods.
We wove in and out of mountains, and then we were there about 15 minutes later. Like many things on the California coast, it was a pretty drive.
Muir Woods is a forest full of old redwood trees, which are the tallest trees in the world. As you walk through the path, it feels like you are in an enchanted forest. The canopy is very thick and blocks out the sunlight, and it was utterly silent except for the people walking around us. We could not even hear birds.
We had an hour to walk around the path, and then we made our way back to San Francisco.
It was a hot sunny day in Sausalito, but it was very cold in the city. We high-tailed it to Ghiradelli's so that I could get a hot chocolate. I got a sea salt caramel hot chocolate, to be exact.
I sipped it up and down the hills on our walk back to our hotel until I got to the goopy stuff at the bottom. Then, I tossed it.
It was nearly 8 pm by this time, and we were starving. We would have just walked into a restaurant, but I was still in my exercise clothes since I that we were going to go on a bike ride earlier. It worked for our day activities, but not for dinner! We changed at our hotel and made it to the Cheesecake Factory by 9. There was still over an hour wait for a table for two (what??)
, so we walked the streets in search of food. Everywhere we looked, we saw long lines. We finally found a table at Sears Fine Food.
This place had a line-up out the door earlier in the morning for breakfast, but it was tame by the time we got there. We only had to wait about three minutes for a table.
I ordered a small caesar salad and a bowl of New England clam chowder. The salad wasn't overly exciting, but the clam chowder was great. New England clam chowder is usually very creamy, which I don't like. This had much more of a broth-like consistency, and the clam meat was good. No complaints there.
I didn't even mind the creepy pictures on the wall.
Sears is very famous for their breakfasts, so give it a go if you go to San Fran! We never got the chance to try it, because Al's not a very big brekky person.
Day 3 coming up!
I have been to San Francisco, and now I am back with the Aussie! I got into San Francisco on Saturday morning at 10 am, which was an hour before Al arrived there from Sydney. I picked up my bag and walked to the arrivals area in the international terminal. I love airports where you can just walk from one terminal to another!
After our little reunion, we got a taxi to our hotel right next to Union Square called the Handlery
. Al got a great deal from bookit.com
. Our room was in the older part of the hotel and was very small, but it was a fantastic location and had a nice lobby. Hotels can get very expensive in San Fran, so we were pleased.
Once we settled in, we walked down to the Embarcadero and strolled up the coast until we made it to Fisherman's Wharf.
View of Coit Tower from the Embarcadero
Fisherman's Wharf is a fun area! It's extremely touristy, but there are great views of the bay and lots of places to eat and shop.
Aquarium of the Bay at Fisherman's Wharf
It was nearly 3 pm, but many of the restaurants were still packed for lunch. We ended up going the fast food route and got fried fish. Al got fish and chips, and I got crab cakes and chips.
It hit the spot for the time being.
After lunch, we found uninterrupted views of Alcatraz.
We also found the sea lions at Pier 39.
We left Fisherman's Wharf after that, because we were freezing. We wanted to walk back to our hotel the adventurous way: over the hills. It was hard work, but we somehow found a bunch of stairs that took us away from the coast and up onto Telegraph Hill. It's a hill, if you can't tell from the name, so there were a lot of stairs. We finally found ourselves behind some homes and looking at beautiful gardens and perfect views of the water.
Of course, I enjoyed the dog artwork.
We almost made it to Coit Tower, but we decided to go back to our hotel. We figured that we'd have time on another day to go to the top (we didn't).
The hills in the city are so steep, but it's always hard to tell in these pictures.
We walked through China Town on the way back. If it wasn't for the fact that some of the writing was in English, I would have to second guess whether of not I was still in America.
Actually, I felt for a lot of the time like I wasn't in America. San Francisco has a way of making you feel like you are somewhere very far away from home. Not to mention, we were always surrounded by tourists from all over the world.
Of course, we saw a lot of cable cars!
We took a nap when we got back to our hotel, and then we went out for dinner. We tried to go to Cheesecake Factory in Macy's down the street (not so original, but Al likes his cheesecake), but there was a two hour wait. We went instead to Burger Bar
in the same building. We only had to wait about twenty minutes.
Each booth had their own TVs with a different sport. We got some kind of gridiron football championship on TV in our booth that wasn't quite the NFL. We never figured out what it was, but it was entertaining nonetheless.
To drink, I got an Agave Basil Caipirinha, which had Leblon Cachaca, fresh muddled limes and basil and agave. I wasn't exactly sure what I was drinking, but it was STRONG!
To eat, I got the SF Vegan, which was roasted eggplant, roma tomato and sauteed peppers in between two gigantic portobello mushroom caps.
I think it lacked cheese, but that would make it un-vegan! The fries on the side were fantastic. Forget about the fact that I had fries twice in one day. I was on vacation!
Part II coming soon!
Guys, you won't believe this news. JUSTIN BIEBER IS IN ADELAIDE!!! OMG!!!!
I skipped work today so that I could go to the airport and greet him.
Okay, I didn't really do that. But lots of teenage girls did. We do love it when the celebs come here. And I'm actually not obsessed with JB. Maybe when his voice drops a little...
Moving on, I know I mentioned yesterday that I was finished posting recaps from my trip home. That was before I realized, however, that I had all of these iPhone pictures! I have to share them with you. I am also playing around with the size of my photos on my blog. Today, I made them extra large.
Here is my random assortment of home iPhone photos (I mean it when I say that they are random):
This is my bedroom! All of my walls are white except for one wall, which is sponge painted pink. My bed is the most comfortable bed in the world. I swear, I have never slept in anything better.
Wrigley Field. Home of the Chicago Cubs. I walked past on the way to $1 tacos/really cheap Coronas in Wrigleyville.
French onion soup in a bread bowl from Panera
. It was a cold and rainy day, and this was exactly what I wanted. Warm melty cheese over sourdough bread. Australia, you should get a Panera.
When I go to Chili's
(or order takeaway), I only ever order one thing: the quesadilla explosion salad. It is heavenly.
Chicago springs: hot and sunny one day, cold and snowy the next day
On the same day I took the snow picture, I got me some Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal and a hot cup of green tea.
I added in all of the toppings: dried fruit, brown sugar and nuts.
I stopped in LA for eight hours or so on the way back to Australia to spend time with Jess
again. She took me to the most delectable sandwich/salad cafe in the LA area. I can't remember what it was called, because it was so many days ago. Darn it. It was so good, too! We placed our orders with the hostess up front. When we went to the register to pay, we were also allowed to sample pre-made salads. I tried some quinoa salad that was fantastic.
I ordered a Blue Buffalo, Not A Blue Cow wrap. You may be able to make out the description above (good luck), but it was basically a huge buffalo chicken wrap.
SO incredibly yummy. The next time I visit Jess, I am making her take me back there and to Yogurtland.
We shopped in Venice Beach for a while, and then we grabbed dinner and some drinks (that may have assisted in my 12 hours
of sleep on the plane) near the water before going back to the airport. I honestly love Venice Beach, and I think I would live there if I lived in LA. There are dogs everywhere, and you can take them into shops!
This is IT now for the recaps, although I will definitely post more photos of my precious canine friends. It's now time for me to blog about real life!
Wow, was I happy when Jess picked me up from the airport! Not all friends are nice enough to wake up before 7 on a Saturday to pick up their friend from the airport (and do the similar thing the next day to drop them off), but Jessica is an exception.
She always takes me in when I go back and forth. The photo below is from last year. Flights going to Australia don't leave until about midnight, so I flew in earlier so that I could spend the day with her. We both grew up in the same area of Chicago. We became best friends at overnight camp when we were in the tween (not yet teen) category, and we still have no problem acting like we are 12 around each other. To sum her up in one word, she is awesome.
She took me back to her apartment so that I could take a quick shower and change my clothes. Once I was ready, she took me to brunch at Jack n Jill's Too
(different location but same menu as Jack n Jill's in Beverly Hills). Needless to say, my first breakfast
did not satisfy me.
I was nearly salivating as soon as we walked in, because there was a cupcake display in the front. YUM.
For my meal, I ordered the hi-protein scramble. It came with two sides, so I picked mini blueberry muffins and salad greens. It was all DE-LISH. The blueberry muffins melted in my mouth. They came before the rest of the food, so I split them with Jess.
How beautiful is this scramble? I never go out for brunch in Australia, so I haven't had anything like this in a while. The hi-protein scramble was egg whites with turkey bacon, chicken breast, onions, tomato and garlic with jack, cheddar and mozzarella cheese. The salad greens was an assortment of lettuce with blue cheese crumbles, chopped tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms and walnuts.
We also got some much- needed coffee. It didn't make a difference in the end, because I still nearly fell asleep at the table.
We went back to the apartment, and I slept for a good hour and a half. Jess had a doctor's appointment in the afternoon, so she woke me up to ask if I wanted to go with her (as I told her to). I can't even describe how I was feeling at that time. I stared into space for a good ten minutes and then got up to get ready. You know that feeling when you wake up from a long nap, and you're very disoriented for a while? That's how I felt, but even worse. I could barely walk straight. I felt like I was floating on air. I wanted to be awake and alert, but my body didn't know how to let me. That, my friends, is bad jet lag.
I could have gone back to sleep (oh, how I wanted to), but that would be a bad idea. As I said before, you have to live in your current time zone. If I slept all day, it would just prolong the jet lag. I wouldn't be able to sleep through the night, and I'd be dead tired by the next afternoon. And the cycle would repeat.
As Jess was driving along to her appointment, I realized that there was no way that I would even be able to operate a car. My driving would be no better than drunk driving.
As the afternoon went on, my body slowly started to wake up. We left her appointment and went to the best frozen yogurt place in the world. I'm really not kidding. Jess said that when her mom and brothers were visiting, they went there three times in under a week. Look at the fro yo. Are you starting to get an idea?
is a genius concept. You walk in, grab an over-sized cup (that they want you to fill to the top so that you get more fro yo and thus you eat yourself to death and they get to pocket more of your money) and look at all of the flavors on the wall. It's all soft serve fro yo that you dish out yourself, and you can pack in as many flavors as you want (you can also sample them first).
I chose Devil's Food Cupcake Batter (tastes like it sounds) and Red Velvet Cupcake Batter (tastes like it sounds). Just when you think it could not get any better, I added some cookie dough bits, brownie bits and smashed Butterfinger. It was one of those times in my life when I thought I might cry when I finished it all.
When we finished (and I wiped my tears), we headed across the street to the ATT store. I swiped my Aussie sim card for an ATT sim card. I hated my pay-as-you-go plan the last time that I came here, but they had a new plan that only costs me $2/day for unlimited calls and text messages in the US. Bargain! It's a little bit more to call outside the US (actually, a lot), so I think I'll have to stick to Skype.
As the lady helping me set up my card, we talked about Yogurtland. I told her that if I worked there, I'd go there every day. She told me that she wished I hadn't mentioned it, because now she wanted to go.
Dinner time rolled around, so Jess and I met our friend Lexi (another one from our camp days) at Fat Fish Restaurant
in West Hollywood. On the walk over there, I sent some of my friends inappropriate text messages since they didn't know my new phone number. It was very, very funny.
Fat Fish was doing happy hour, so everything was half off. Mojito for $5? Yes, please!
I enjoyed a warm bowl of miso soup to start.
For the main event, I got the Las Vegas Roll. It was tempura eel, avocado, crab and cream cheese. It was great, although it wasn't as unique as my other roll.
I can't find the description on the website, but OH MY GOSH it was good. It was a standard run-of-the-mill roll with some sort of fish and rice and avocado that was invaded- literally melted over- by muenster cheese (and sun dried tomatoes and crunch tempura bits). I LOVE muenster cheese and haven't eaten in ages, so I was one happy girl. I definitely cleared my plate.
I was super energetic until we finished dinner, and then I crashed. I could barely keep my eyes open. We were supposed to go to a party after that, but I told them to go ahead without me. Lexi's friend was nice enough to drop me off at the apartment. I fell asleep the moment my head hit the pillow. I slept a full ten hours until my alarm went off at 7:30 the next morning. Unbelievably, I fought the worst of my jet lag.
Sunday morning, Jess brought me back to the airport. And the journey home continues....