Archive for the ‘California Adventures’ Category

Bear Valley 2014

March 28, 2014

This spring we made the drive to Arnold, CA to once again have a fun winter weekend with our small group friends. We’ve nixed the title of “ski trip” and officially dubbed it a “winter weekend” since most people have children now (except for us and the Krouts, holla!). Mark and I still hit the slopes for a good part of the day on Saturday while everyone else did some sledding and playing in the snow.


It was quite warm with temps well over 50 degrees on the slopes so we quickly regretted any and all layers that we had put on. There were plenty of people wearing shorts, jeans, t-shirts or no shirt at all which was hilarious and reminded me of when we used to ski in New Mexico. Only a few of the trails had icy spots so overall I’d say the snow quality was pretty good. We survived without sweating too much and had a nice time just the two of us.


We’d been hearing from everyone in Tahoe that the snow was pretty weak this season thanks to little rain and an early spring. Here’s a photo looking down one of the runs and you can clearly see a line where the snow ends.


And here’s a shot from that same vantage point on our trip last year. What a difference! Regardless, the views were spectacular, the skiing was fun exhausting and the company was tops :)

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Marin Headlands

March 27, 2014

Mark and I finally made the drive up north of the city to do some hiking in the Marin Headlands last month. The views of the Golden Gate bridge with the backdrop of San Francisco were absolutely breathtaking.



There are lots of places to stop and take in the views on the way up and then all of a sudden the road turns into a narrow, one-way drive on the steep trek down the backside of the hills. With nothing but the vast Pacific in front of you, it almost felt as if you were driving off into the ocean.


The western side was unbelievably picturesque, like something straight off of a postcard.




We hiked over to this small lighthouse that you could only get to by foot; you also had to cross a swaying footbridge to reach it.



It was great to venture out and experience a new part of NorCal. With the weather starting to make a turn for summer hopefully we’ll be spending more time outside and finding new places to explore!


2014: Q1

March 12, 2014

What? We’re almost through the first three months of 2014? And my last post was about Christmas? Oops. In my defense I have a legitimate excuse…I started my own business! At the end of January I quit my job at 24hr Fitness and got to work submitting paperwork to obtain a business license and all that other fun stuff that comes with becoming a small business owner. It’s been quite a process, sometimes challenging, sometimes frustrating, but at the end of the day I’m finally doing what I love full time and I couldn’t be happier. Big shout out to my incredible hub who let me quit my day job and who is letting me stay home and build signs all day long; he’s the best.


My business is called Would You Believe Wood and I design and build hand painted reclaimed wood signs to be sold on Etsy. If you’re not familiar with Etsy, it’s basically an online marketplace for individuals to sell their handmade goods (anything from jewelry to home decor to art to clothing). I’ll be sharing another post soon with more details about my new venture.

But for now back to the original purpose of this post, a photo dump from the past three months. It’s honestly the easiest way to “catch up” without actually writing a bunch of posts…some might call it cheating or lazy but I prefer the word efficient :)

Let’s start from the beginning, aka: 12:00am, January 1, 2014. We rang in the new year once again with great friends, great wine and great food. Last year our wine won second place in the blind tasting but sadly, this year we got second to last. Womp, womp.



We are bound and determined to make our California friends love football as much as we do but that’s no easy task, they weren’t brainwashed growing up in the South like we were. These pretty cupcakes for our Superbowl party helped though!


The first week after I quit my job I helped a friend renovate her bathroom; we had almost no idea what we were doing but we were excited to learn from her dad and brother who are both contractors so we figured we’d be ok. Basically every morning Haley’s brother would stop by and give us instructions for the day, then we would get to work for a solid 8+ hours and go to bed exhausted. It was fun…most of the time…if you call mixing thinset a billion times fun. It was definitely fun learning how to use a wet saw to cut tiles :)


We started by tearing up the existing vanity, floor tile, hardware and shower insert. Then after lots of prep-work (the part you never think about but takes the longest) we laid the floor tile and lined the shower with waterproofing. Here we are a couple days later laying the floor to ceiling subway tile in the shower. Haley was the butterer and I was the layer, the dynamic duo!


And here’s the beautiful shower after grouting! I am in love with that pebble floor…it was a pain to install but I still love it.


Here’s a before photo during the demo…


And an in progress photo before the subway was grouted and before the shower door was installed…


And finally the gorgeous after photo!


For Valentine’s Day Mark and I spent a weekend in Monterey and we stayed at a cute little 18 room boutique hotel called Hotel 1110. It was super nice and a welcome change from your typical Marriott, very “hipster.” We had an amazing dinner at our go-to fancy pants place, Restaurant 1833, where we tried bone marrow for the first time and indulged in their famous bacon cheddar biscuits with maple chili butter. The weather was quite beautiful and sunny while we were there so we spent our afternoons walking along the beach searching for sand dollars.


Things are finally budding, flowering and greening up around San Ramon thanks to a few good rains over the past two weeks. I don’t want to speak too soon but unless something else blows through in the near future I think we’re in the clear for our 8 months of non-stop sunny gorgeousness. I personally cannot wait for the temps to break 80, this girl misses her long Texas summers.



August 31, 2013

We’ve been pretty busy this summer and individually each event isn’t blog-worthy but all mixed in together they are! Here’s what’s been going on around here lately, in photos, of course.

We finally used our electric ice cream maker again {we’re averaging about 1-2 uses per year, haha}. Using some of the Mexican vanilla that I bought while we were in Cabo, we made Mexican vanilla chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream…with homemade chocolate chip cookie dough…it. was. delish.


For the first time I had a legitimate excuse to use my Texas-shaped cookie cutter; some friends of ours were about to move to Houston and I baked these for their going away party. After some experimentation I found that baking sugar cookies for 6-8 minutes at 400 degrees versus 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees sets the cookie dough faster and helps the cookies hold their shape.


The finished product with icing and a heart on Houston.


Mark’s mom and her friend Cindy came to visit for a few days. They spent some time in the city, we went wine tasting, showed them around the San Ramon area and did some hiking on Mt. Diablo.


The views from the summit are absolutely incredible…you can see for miles and miles in every direction since it’s the tallest peak around.

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Almost on a whim, Mark and I spent an evening at the California State Fair; we were already in the Sacramento area so we figured, why not?


It was a surprisingly fun evening which we spent mostly people-watching and dropped-money-searching {Mark is notorious for finding $$ but we left empty handed}.


There were a million food stands with everything from chocolate covered bacon to turkey legs to churros. Similar to the Texas state fair there was a strange selection of fried items as well.


My favorite part of the state fair was seeing the livestock. They had a newborn animal area where there were less than week old piglets, goat kids and calves; the kids jumping all over their mothers were my favorite!

Currently in the livestock pens were pigs, sheep, longhorns and…wait for it…llamas and alpacas. I had no idea that people actually raised and showed those funny looking animals. They were very entertaining and we even got to pet one too!


The longhorns made us feel a little more at home :) They are such beautiful animals up close; they are also very, very large…


Our local farmers markets have been great this summer, the one held in Danville is our favorite. It almost feels like Austin with the live musicians, caricature artists and pets on leash. Last week we spotted a guy having a caricature drawn of his humongous, fluffy orange cat.



The Red Sox came to play the Oakland A’s and since the tickets were really cheap we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them play. Our seats ended up being great, front row in left field, perfect spot to catch home run balls {but we didn’t see any}.


We did get booed a little since we were wearing our Red Sox gear but we kind of expected it, we’ve got to represent our team!


Bear Valley Ski Trip

April 12, 2013

When we moved to California last March we just barely missed out on skiing in Tahoe; the snow wasn’t great for the 2011-2012 season and by the time we were settled enough to make the trip, powder on the trails was nonexistent. Since then we have slowly gathered some ski gear, scoring a great deal on used boots at an REI garage sale, waiting for the right time to plan a trip.

Luckily for us, the small group that we’ve connected with has gone on a group ski trip the past couple of years and we were able to participate this time around! There were 18 of us total (including a few kids) and we all stayed together in a rented vacation home. A few of us skied, others did snow-shoeing or cross country skiing, and the kids enjoyed sledding and playing in the snow. We went to Bear Valley which is directly south of Lake Tahoe. I really liked the resort, it wasn’t crowded at all, the weather was sunny and the slopes varied from nicely groomed to shin-deep powder.

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This was the first time I’d been skiing since I went to Sienna in south Lake Tahoe when I interned in Sacramento back in 2008 and Mark hadn’t been in over 10 years. Skiing is just like riding a bike, though, it came right back to us after just a few runs.

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We couldn’t have asked for better weather, it was sunny and just over 40 degrees with a little wind. That’s my kind of skiing weather, I hate when temps are in the negative and it’s just miserable being outside.

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Mark after completing his first black run ever! We all went down one or two blacks just to prove to ourselves that we could do it, haha. We mostly stuck to the blues and allthough we only skied one day, we made the most of it and stayed until the lifts closed and our quads were cramping.

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The whole skiing gang: me, Mark, Brian and Brendon.

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Parents’ Weekend Visit

April 5, 2013

{I’ve gotten so behind on blogging lately and I have no excuse, except laziness. Does that count as a valid excuse? Eh, probably not…oh well!}

About a month ago my parents came to visit us for a few days and we had such a great time showing them around our new home. We knew that we wanted to take them to Monterey so on the morning of our first full day we headed out and didn’t stop until we hit the coast.



We visited Lover’s Point Park, did some shopping and had lunch on Cannery Row, saw some sea otters and made our way down 17 Mile Drive, stopping at Pebble Beach along the way.


The next morning we went into the city and since it was a nice, clear day we drove up to the top of Twin Peaks for a breathtaking view of all of San Francisco.


From the peak we could see the Golden Gate Bridge, the Transamerica Pyramid, Coit Tower, the Bay Bridge and the other bridges in south bay.



Then we drove north through the city towards Fisherman’s Wharf pointing out Union Square, Chinatown and Lombard street along the way. We parked at Pier 39 and walked down to Ghirardeli Square, making sure to pop into our favorite sourdough bakery too!



We indulged in a little ice cream at Ghirardeli but were soon hungry again from all the walking so we made our way back to the pier to have a fresh crab lunch.


The sea lions were fun to watch for a bit. They were laying out on the docks warming themselves on the beautiful, sunny day.


To show my parents some more of the greater bay area we took the long route home; we left the city going north over the Golden Gate passing through Sausalito to San Rafael, took the Richmond bridge back over the bay then drove through Berkeley and Oakland before hitting 24 to take us to Walnut Creek then home to San Ramon.


It was a fun visit and I’m sure we wore my parents out but we just couldn’t resist showing them some of the awesome places to go and see in California!


Home for Christmas

January 16, 2013

For the first time ever Mark and I flew during the holiday season as we made our way to Texas to spend Christmas with our families. We had a great time, spending 9 full days back home, but before we left we had a mini Christmas, just the two of us.


Our stockings were hung with care…


…and we opened our presents from each other while listening to Christmas music and keeping warm by our crackling Netflix fire.


A few days later we made our way to Houston and on the 23rd we visited the Houston Zoo to see some animals and Christmas lights. Since it was dark, we couldn’t see many of the larger animals outdoors but we did spot a few giraffes.


We spent Christmas Eve with Tammy and Logan in Shenandoah; we decorated the tree, baked cookies for Santa and attended the midnight church service.


Logan must have been an extra good boy this year because Santa brought him a pretty awesome workbench and tool belt. Mark and I both agreed that one of our favorite parts of this past Christmas was playing Santa’s helpers the night before to ensure everything was perfect for Logan the next morning…that and sipping eggnog, of course.


Here’s our big, happy family photo with everyone in Houston. We’ve grown by one more since last year with the addition of little Lilian. It’s so adorable to see how protective big brother Logan is of her :)


There was plenty of baby holding in Houston but once we made it to Rogers to see my family it was all about Jack.


Just like last year, Jack absolutely loved hiding in and laying on any box, bag, tissue or wrapping paper within reach.


It was so wonderful to be home again…we heard stories and saw pictures from Ben’s trip to Africa, played fetch with Sadie, walked the property with pellet guns and of course watched the Garfield Christmas Special together {it’s tradition, after all}.


Lake Tahoe: Scenic Drive

December 2, 2012

Mark had another customer visit in north Lake Tahoe on a Friday a couple weeks back and I rode along to make the 3+ hour drive more bearable for him. He had a quick meeting in Truckee then we took the scenic route around the west side of the lake down to South Lake Tahoe. We were met with the first little bits of snow for this winter season and some incredible views.

It’s amazing how clean and blue the water looks, must be all of that freshly melted snow. I can’t wait until our first ski trip!

Big Basin Redwoods

November 27, 2012

As a celebratory trip for my birthday last month, Mark and I went camping at Big Basin Redwoods State Park which is just north of Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay. We’d never been there before nor did we know anyone that had, we just researched state parks within a 2 hour driving radius, read reviews online, made our reservation and hoped for the best. The weather that weekend was absolutely perfect for camping; it was cool enough at night to merit sitting around a fire and warm enough during the day for hiking in shorts.

We arrived on a Friday afternoon and set up our tent in a nice, secluded site surrounded by bushes and tall redwoods. There was moss growing on every stationary surface thanks to the cool shade provided by the many trees. Our site had a picnic table, fire ring and bear box for storing food {not actually for bears but rather racoons…no way was I going to camp where there are bears present}.

The forest of redwoods were absolutely incredible, some of them were over 300 feet tall and 70 feet in circumference. It’s hard to imagine something living that is so big until you are standing at the base of it, staring upward.

On Saturday we hiked a 5 mile trail through the park and we had such a great time! We packed lunch and ate on the trail, saw a waterfall, met a scary spider and only saw a handful of other people during the entire hike.

My favorite part about the trip was waking up in the morning and seeing the sun rays filtering beautifully through the trees…so breathtaking.

Garlic Everywhere!

October 10, 2012

The Friday before last I rode along with Mark to his customer meetings {as I often do when I’m off work} and we had the pleasure of driving through Gilroy, California, the Garlic Capitol of the World…no really, that’s what their city limit sign says. Watsonville is known for their strawberries and Castroville is the “artichoke center of the world” but if you want garlic ice cream you’ve got to go to Gilroy.

We stopped at the largest road-side stand called Garlic World where we found pickled garlic, numerous things pickled with garlic, garlic powder, crushed garlic, granulated garlic, garlic braids and huge mounds of garlic bulbs. They also had a wide variety of produce, local honey, jellies, seasonings and trail mixes.

And there was a giant wooden cutout of a garlic bulb with a face hole just for hubs who like to make silly faces :)