Surfing (SD Bucket List #1)

It goes to say that one of the first questions people ask after finding out we live in San Diego is “Do you surf!?” Well before last week the answer was “Nope!” and now after last week the answer is still “Nope!”

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Not because we didn’t have an excellent instructor – we truly did. Doug at Surf Sessions was the absolute bomb diggity. 

Our lesson started by getting fitted in our wetsuits. Heads up – if you go with Surf Sessions, they are operated out of a tent on the beach across from the beach’s paid parking. The tent is green and to the left when you reach the beach, right underneath the grassy part. That took us a while to figure out. After we got into our suits we grabbed some boards and headed down to the beach.

All I could think of was this scene from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. One of my favorite movies of ALL time. Doug went over our “footing” (spoiler alert: Jason Segel is NOT doing his footing correctly) and a little soon for my taste – we were out on the water! 

My first impression was that the waves were much MUCH bigger than I anticipated. I think I envisioned kiddie pool waves. But these things were mammoth. At least to me. Doug would assist by holding onto the board as a wave approached in order to steady during our jump up. Not shocking at all was that Charlie was better than me. He got the hang of it pretty quickly and graduated from Doug’s assistance. I, on the other hand, insisted on jumping into warrior position – as opposed to surfing position. I blame yoga.

Doug kept yelling “YOU’RE A SURFER! NOT A WARRIOR!” as I would topple into the water. My best “ride” or “wave” I almost hit some children. That was exciting. 

I wouldn’t say surfing is addicting – the taste of saltwater remained in my mouth for a bit longer than I liked – but I definitely want to try again.

Now we're official. We're throwing signs. We belong.

Now we’re official. We’re throwing signs. We belong.


Afterwards, Charlie immediately claimed soreness – I said “Oh! I’m not sore at all, I’m totally fine!” After a ten minute nap I woke up and could barely move – surfing is HARD work. Though I think in my case the soreness was more related to falling than surfing.

We finished our evening with TOSTADAS of course.

I’m so glad we finally checked this off of our SD Bucket List – and I truly can’t wait to get out on the water again!

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Little Brother Visits/Brewery Tour (SD Bucket List #7)

Family is the best. This past weekend Charlie’s brother came out to visit us in SD. We had a jam packed schedule all weekend, and I am only slightly recovered. Tim got to meet his nephew, Tucker. He was already familiar with his other ornery nephew, Walter. And we got the opportunity to really show off our “home” in San Diego!

Tim arrived late Thursday night and had a Monday afternoon departure, which left us with all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and part of Monday to cram as much SoCal as we could. If our sleep deprivation is any proof, we succeeded.

Friday

I had to work… LAME. But I was kept up to date with Snapchats and texts as Charlie and Tim headed out to explore SD. After breakfast at the casa they headed to Fiesta Island/Dog Island so Tucker had a chance to show off his talents. Then they, of course, headed to In-N-Out for a classic animal-style lunch. (Digression – Does anyone else not really like In-N-Out? Not a huge fan. Apologies to the West Coast.) They then headed to the brew store to pick up some brewing equipment as well as the ingredients for a Honey Dunkelweizen (NOMS! Amanda Beer!) I arrived back at the apartment from work to a steaming hot apartment, beer debris everywhere, and two very happy productive men.

After they finished their liquid gold, we headed to Hodad’s for dinner. Hodad’s being what I believe is the best burger place in SD. After a brief line we headed in to the beautiful license plated dining area and ordered our food. I conquered a milkshake for six people, and we all felt terrible about ourselves afterward. (Terrible meaning – absolutely satisfied with no regrets.)

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Saturday

We had a JAM PACKED Saturday, which required a very early morning alarm and a rush out the door to get to a Farmer’s Market where no one was ready for us. (Whoops!) Must have been Daylight Savings Time hangover from last week – the merchants at the Little Italy Market were moving sloooowly. We ordered up some Papalecco coffee drinks and patiently waited for our favorite stands to kick it into gear. We had some delicious Crepes courtesy of La Creperie – the boys feasted on the California Surfer while I returned to the Green Gobbler. With time running out, I headed to pick up our CSA from JR Organics while the boys perused our other favorite stands – including Vonda Lee’s California Cheesecakes – YUM!

We raced home and changed into our sea-adventure clothing and headed out to kayak! We got to La Jolla just in time and wet-suited up to prepare ourselves for a deep sea adventure of snorkeling and kayaking. We brought waterproof cameras, and learned afterwards that no one does one-day film photo anymore? It has to be sent away – so pictures and a recap will come next week.

When our time with mermaids had come to an end, we showered, and changed to go to breweries! We started at Intergalactic. Oh. My. Nerdfest. I say that in the best endearing way possible. Classic Star Wars posters, hilarious beer names, amazing people – definitely a new favorite for this girl.

After Intergalactic we set out for Greenflash – a consistently awesome brewery that is extremely popular in San Diego. Apparently it had been a while since we had gone, because they did a COMPLETE overhaul of the place. It’s beautiful! There is even a fancy Greenflash food truck with meat and cheese plates. And parmesan garlic fries. We were so impressed with the new set-up, and can’t wait to spend some cash in the gift store. When we have cash.

We then set out to Rough Draft, another brewery we had been before, where we played a tantalizing game of Connect Four and drank more beer. (Are you sensing a pattern? A beer pattern?)

To finish off the day we stopped at St. Archer, or the Mockingjay Brewing Company. See the similarity? Credit to Tim. I loved the set-up of St. Archer – they had a great patio with lots of space and some nice lighting that came on as the sun set.

We decided Tucker had probably had enough stimulation for the day and headed home to drop him off before going to dinner. He basically crated himself and waited for us to leave, we must be such a bother to him. We decided the best way to finish a day of total debauchery was pizza – so we headed to Pizza Port. An OB staple that is a must on our visitor checklist. Good beer. Great pizza. Awesome people watching. At this point all of us were completely exhausted, and two of us had definitely been over-served. (Spoiler Alert – it wasn’t me. I was driving).

Sunday

After a VERY long lazy sleep we woke up and crafted some breakfast burritos. They took a long time, but the end result was worth it and delicious. I’ll more purposefully make the recipe again so I can post it on here.

I sent the boys to go to Torrey Pines and told them I would walk Tucker while they were gone, but instead I took a nap… It was 90+ degrees out, so when I did wake up and try to get Tucker to go outside, we made it about a block before he turned me around. In that he dragged me across the street towards home and wouldn’t walk any farther. Dogs are hysterical.

When the boys returned home we cooled off in the pool for a bit and then headed to the ultimate SD spot – Bluewater Grille. We had originally tried to go Friday but it was SO CRAZY. They were basically out of every kind of fish. Sunday was just as insane! They hadn’t run out of quite as much fish though. After about 45-minutes we made it to the cash register to put in our order. I can tell you indisputably, no matter how long you have to wait for Bluewater. It is worth the wait. I will do an entire Bluewater Ode eventually. But here is a preview of what deliciousness is waiting for you if you head our way…

Because we felt that our stomachs still may not be stretched to their absolute maximum capacity, we stopped at a new favorite Baked Bear. To give you an idea of how the gluttony had finally taken a toll on me – I didn’t finish my ice cream sandwich cookie. That’s a really big deal.

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We then all collapsed on the floor at home, praying to the digestion gods that they would move quickly so we could all feel back to normal.

Monday

I again had to work – STILL LAME. So Charlie and Tim headed to Dog Island and Lucha Libre! Ugh – taking away my bucket list items before I even get the chance to go! Not fair. They said it was delicious, and I am making Charlie take me back sometime soon. After that Tim went back to the cold east coast and Charlie and I slept for a day straight.

(Please note the sleeping comment is wishful thinking… we’re still trying to get off the struggle bus.)

xx

Amanda

Sea Kayaking with Everyday California (SD Bucket List #9)

Save the time I called 911 to report that our family cat was missing, I like to think I can handle high-pressure situations pretty well. Apparently in the Amanda Book of Life, high-pressure situations do not include being surrounded by dolphins… which is exactly what happened last weekend during our Everyday California Whale Watching Tour.

First let’s address what Everyday California is… Formerly OEX, it is based out of La Jolla, CA and run by ridiculously good-looking ex-Abercrombie models. (Really – every employee was beautiful.). These are the cool kids, and they want to take you on the water and show you their world. Our guides were Sam and Draper. They were both high-energy, excited, and gave thunderous high-fives. The check-in process for our tour was a bit chaotic, but somehow we all ended up exactly where we were meant to be. There were about 17 of us (8 pairs and my girlfriend Taylor), lots of different familial pairings. We headed down to the beach at about a quarter to 2 PM (our tour time), to get situated in our kayaks before heading out into The Great Unknown. Charlie and I were in a kayak, and Taylor rocked the single. We were given the opportunity to rent wet suits, but I was in full Lulu, and we figured being Midwesterners, we would be fine.

My immediate thought when we were pushed into the water, was “I’m so glad I don’t have my phone/camera/tablet/any electronics.” You get wet on this adventure. Soaking. Kudos to Lulu for making unintentionally amphibious workout gear. (For reference I was in the Run Inspire Crop, Run Swiftly Tech Crew, and the Forme Jacket.) We started paddling out to Sea (about 2 Nautical Miles!) from La Jolla Cove, and I just couldn’t believe this was the first time we were doing something like this since moving to SD. The ocean was breathtaking and peaceful. On our way out to the “Whale Zone” we ran into some friendly seals and sea lions who stopped by to say hello. We also ate kelp, because apparently that is what the cool kids do.

After arriving at the “Whale Zone” we parked for a bit, waiting for some social whales to stop on by. We spotted a dolphin coming in from the distance – and I got so excited! A dolphin! A wild dolphin! Well apparently this dolphin was a scout for its pod, because soon after its arrival about fifteen dolphins showed up. They were jumping in the air, swimming together, flying under the water. It was absolutely unbelievable. At one point they zeroed in on our kayak and there were six swimming underneath and jumping in front of and to the side of our kayak. This is apparently where I lost my cool and just kept saying “THIS IS AMAZING!” over and over again. And asking Charlie if he saw the dolphins, to which he replied “I’m right here! Of course I see them!” Truly one of the few times I wished we had a GoPro, other than to strap it on to Tucker’s head. But I honestly don’t even think I could have worked a camera at that point. I was so awe-struck at the beauty of NATURE.

After some time with our dolphin friends, we headed back into the cove. To be honest, the only time I felt cold was getting OUT of the water, and walking back to EC. Other than that I was fine in my garments. But I can see why you may want a wetsuit if you’re not from Northern Michigan.

Another bonus of Everyday California is their merchandise! I am not one for buying “tourist-y” things – but their logo is just too cute to pass up. Trust me on this. I ended up buying a sweatshirt and leaving with it on. Because I was freezing.

Charlie and I are definitely planning to do a trip with Everyday California again – in fact we’ve already booked a Sea Cave and Snorkeling Tour when Charlie’s brother is here!

Tips for Everyday California:

  1. Call for great pricing. They do have Groupons pretty often, but if you call they give you a pretty comparable price. Plus it feels good to be directly supporting a local business.
  2. Parking can be tricky – arrive 45 minutes ahead of time to give yourself parking AND check-in time. They like to be on the water at your scheduled time. (There is also a super cute restaurant next door we want to check out next time – Shorehouse Kitchen)
  3. Bring CASH for tips – This is your Guide’s livelihood. We didn’t realize that and only had minimal cash on hand. We’ll plan better next time.
  4. Bring any waterproof cameras you may have – we plan on buying these before our next adventure.
  5. Equipment is included – except for a wetsuit. If you get cold easily, plan on renting one. (They’re not expensive to rent – maybe $10.)
  6. Be prepared to wear a helmet and life vest. This is for your safety, and the safety of people around you. Deal with it and prepare your hair ahead of time.
  7. Try not to black out when you see nature. You may think you’re better than that – but you’re not.

Since we also have surfing lessons planned for March, we decided to invest in some Rash Guards and Swim Pants/Trunks. Here is what we ended up with. Try not to be blinded by our stylishness. (All via Lands’ End)

Water Gear

Happy Swimming!

XX

Amanda

P.S. Since I failed to provide any cool live-dolphin photos, please accept this Lisa Frank Dolphin as a substitute.

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Honeymoon Planning

I genuinely enjoy planning. Whether I am planning a meal, a day, or a three week vacation, I am almost always thriving off of the “Thrill of the Plan.” (Do you not experience that? Is that just me? Someone please reassure me it isn’t just me.)

While it is traditional to have the Groom plan the Honeymoon, I was more than happy to volunteer to start the planning process. Charlie and I had discussed before that we wanted to go to Europe for our honeymoon. Charlie studied abroad in Germany, and has traveled around, whereas I did a European trip in college as well as an Italian trip with my beloved Aunt Sue as a high school graduation present. (No, my Aunt Sue is not interested in adopting you.)

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I chose Germany as my destination country, because I love beer and Germans. Charlie chose Italy, because wine and food, obviously. We figured while we were abroad we may as well hit another country or two. Our first inclination was to do a little country square dance and hit Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and then Italy. I really had my heart set on seeing Switzerland, as it was one of the countries I did not make it to in college. Charlie wasn’t necessarily that pumped, but I had high hopes!

Because beer is delicious, and there needs not be another explanation, we decided to start off our adventure in Munich. We had both been there before and had our favored spots (A – Augustiner, C – Spaten) and wanted to spend a few nights in the city. After that we were between Salzburg and Vienna, however Vienna had WAY more convenient train routes to Switzerland, so we settled into Vienna. Then we got a call from Aunt Sue that we just had to go to Salzburg, and if we did she would put us up in The Hotel Bristol. Haven’t heard of it? It is where Christopher Plummer stayed in the Sound of Music. Clearly, we said yes and adjusted our travel plans. We still had the issue of somehow getting to Zurich, and entertained the idea of one night in Salzburg, one night in Vienna, and then one night in Zurich before heading to Italy. That seemed like a lot of travel, and trains, and Charlie carrying our bags around… so I started to do some research into Zurich. I knew we would be in a city with Munich and also Pisa, and realized the “Swiss Experience” I was really after was hiking. After some ill-fated attempts to find easy access hiking trail from Zurich, I gave up. (Sidenote: I am sure they exist – I just couldn’t find them.)

I started to do some further research into both Austrian and Swiss hiking towns and came across Innsbruck. Not only does it look absolutely gorgeous, but there are hiking trails EVERYWHERE! So we booked an AirBNB and are going to be staying two nights. Conveniently, there is an overnight train from Innsbruck to Italy, so that will make our travel to the villa much much easier.

The villa! We found the most magical beautiful villa in the world while on AirBNB. It is right outside of Camaiore, near Lucca and Viareggio. We rented a car, and Charlie is learning how to drive stick. His darling instructor’s (our dear dear friend Whitney) motto is “When in doubt, peel out.” During one of their “lessons” the people from PetSmart came out to reprimand them for doing donuts in their parking lot. But Charlie’s teacher rolled down the window and yelled “First timer!” The employees gave Charlie a hearty thumbs up, laughed, and went on their merry way.

Anyway we hope to explore lots of towns while in Italy, and also drink a lot. The villa has a full kitchen (or appears to on AirBNB) so we want to get to know the local butcher and live off of Prosciutto. At least, that is my plan.

After a week in the Villa we are heading to Pisa – a town neither of us has been to. We were originally just going to do one night there, but I kept running into trouble booking our car – it appeared that almost every car rental agency was closed on June 2nd. After some research I realized – it is a national holiday! Festa della Repubblica! Thank goodness we hadn’t made reservations for that day – we could have been stranded!! Our favorite local café is owned by a family originally from Pisa, so we plan on picking their brain for where to stay and eat etc…

I am just SO excited to go on this adventure, particularly with Charlie, because I love traveling with him. I have, however, learned some hard lessons during this travel process. So here are some “P&C Honeymoon/Travel Tips!”

P&C Travel Tips

  1. Check the country you’re going to for National Holidays.
  2. Hotwire makes no sense. (If you’re doing a ‘Secret Rate’ bid, note that the star rating on the ‘Secret Rate’ page will most likely differ than the ‘Standard Rate’ star rating – even on Hotwires page. This infuriated me, as we bid for a four star in Munich and ended up with a 3 ½ star. I called customer service and after an hour and five minutes they actually hung up on me. It was unbelievable.)
  3. If you find an AirBNB/Hotel/Apartment you like BOOK IT! We missed out on some great deals and places because we couldn’t firm up our plans fast enough.
  4. Look into Eurail Passes. (We’re in that process now.)
  5. Look at bargain airfare. We ended up booking through Norwegian Air. You literally pay for everything, but the base rate is so low it ended up being a great steal. Hopefully all will go smoothly on our actual travel days.
  6. Don’t buy anything in Euros. Request that it be priced in USD or use a Capital One card (no foreign transaction fees). You’ll save yourself confusion, and also $30.

I am sure there will be MANY more to come, especially once we actually FINISH the trip. Seriously cannot wait to give million page recaps.

xx

A

San Diego Bucket List

We recently hit our 2-Year Anniversary of living in SoCal. I can’t believe it! We arrived via Subaru Forrester, boyfriend and girlfriend, with an ornery cat, and not a couch to our name. Two years, one puppy, a marriage, and a lot of Ikea trips later we are starting to build our “home” in San Diego.

I think one of the biggest mistakes one can make is not being a tourist in your own backyard. So Charlie and I have decided to start a San Diego Bucket List/Repeat List! You must tell us if you can think of anything we’re missing from the list… For those who think we are missing the zoo, we went a TON pre-puppy, so we aren’t including it on the list. (But we agree, baby pandas are awesome.)

So far we have:

  1. Surfing (scheduled!!!)
  2. Camping
  3. Coronado (The day in…)
  4. Catalina Island
  5. Paddle Boarding
  6. Potato Chip (The hike… We eat enough potato chips on our own.)
  7. A Brewery Tour
  8. George’s at the Cove/Day in La Jolla
  9. Sea Kayaking
  10. Del Mar (Again, the day in…)
  11. Sunset at La Jolla Cove/Torrey Pines (We’ve already done this… but it is too beautiful to not do again!)
  12. Shady Taco Place (I can’t remember for the life of me the name of it – but it apparently has the BEST tacos in SD. Which is a big deal.)
  13. Man v. Food Locations
    1. Lucha Libre
    2. Phil’s BBQ
    3. Broken Yolk
  14. Balboa Park and Museums (Again)
  15. The Pearl “Dive-In”
  16. Little Italy Farmer’s Market (Our obsession…)
  17. Bluewater (The BEST food in San Diego. At least we think so…)
  18. Fish Market
  19. Fiesta Island/Dog Island (Again…)
  20. Hillcrest Farmer’s Market

I cannot wait to get going on this list… and adding more items to it!

xx

[mommy] therapy

I love my mom.

A few months ago we got a Living Social voucher for a facial and massage at The Spa on Oak in Gold Coast. When we went we had a really good experience (warning: rooms are TINY) and they were having a special for five hours of services + a cranberry facial for $150! So my mom being the best mom ever bought it and I have had a massage almost every week leading up to the Bar exam. We also scheduled two massages for Sunday so that I could have a “Mommy Therapy Day” before the Bar Exam. I needed it.

I had a massage with Daniel (who was great!) my favorites at Spa on Oak are Andre (I very openly love him) and Logan as well. Andre’s Hot Stone will cure any ailments you may ever have. Ever. I have had a lot of massages in my life (my Aunt is a masseuse – I am not spoiled – well actually, I guess that makes me spoiled) – and Andre is Top 5 for sure!!!

She came in on the train from Michigan… (is that a song title??) and we met at Trader Joe’s (which I suspect may have been her other main reason for coming down) and stocked up on some groceries! We then set out on a Boot Adventure (more on that later). We stopped by Nordstrom Rack – where we didn’t find any boots – but we DID find two delicious pairs of ballet flats. (Sparkles and Purple – two of my favorite things!)

We then went to one of my favorite places in the world THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY! Okay judgment done? Did you know that they have a Skinny menu now? And by “skinny” I mean under 600 calories. Anyway after munching on delicious noms we headed over to Water Tower where my Boot Adventure concluded! YES. We skedaddled over to the Spa (it is right off of Michigan Ave.) and  began our relaxation. My only complaint about Spa on Oak – is that my massage ended like ten minutes early! I understand that they have to get the room ready for the next person – but my massage ended up only being about 40 minutes because I didn’t get into the room until 3:10. Regardless, Daniel was wonderful and my mom had a good massage too! After our massage we took a cab (luxury) to Union Station where I let her leave. Barely.

She left me with a bag of goodies including Butterscotch Rice Krispies and Applets!! I will try and make both of these in the future – but for now I’m giving you the recipe for the Krispies via another site. She also left me with the biggest container of Dunkin’ Donuts ground coffee you have EVER SEEN as well as lots of hugs and motivation and love – which is what I need more than anything right now. I then went home and well, I did work. Because the Bar Exam is never-ending (Just kidding! 5 days! Heart attack!)

Sometimes the only thing you need in life is 5 hours off – and I got that with my Mom!! To all of the Bar Examiners out there (or just busy people in general) remember that the most important thing is to take care of yourself!

Amanda

P.S. That picture is of my grandma (Nancy), my mom, and me… yes, we all look alike, and we also make the exact same facial expressions. When Charlie first met Nancy he said it was like meeting an 80-some version of me. If that’s what I’m like when I’m a grandma – I am a-okay!