The California Coast

One of my favorite places to visit is the California coast. The cool air, the beautiful beaches, and the gorgeous sunsets are hard to top. Last summer we rented a house in Sea Ranch for the fourth of July and had a much-needed relaxing weekend. During the days we went on long walks along the coast and to the beach. At night, we made delicious dinners, sat in the jacuzzi on the patio overlooking the water, and drank a lot of good wine. Oh…and we played a little Yahtzee. Or a lot of Yahtzee…it was the only game at the house and actually turned out to be pretty fun!

It turned out to be a great weekend with great friends (and their adorable dogs). Here are a few photos from our trip that I took with my little Sony point and shoot.

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Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes

Our first cherry tomatoes ever. Iphone photo

I love tomatoes. And my husband really loves tomatoes. When we bought our first house about 3 years ago, we decided to plant one tomato plant and one basil plant in the backyard. We didn’t know what we were doing as neither of us had ever had our own garden, but we were pleasantly surprised by the outcome– Fresh tomatoes! And basil!

We had so much fun with that one tomato plant that we decided to plant more the following year….lots more. I let my husband pick out the plants and he became obsessed. He bought a new tomato plant every time he left the grocery store, hardware store, and he even made special trips to the nursery for them. In the end, we had about 15 tomato plants, just for the two of us. We ended up with such an abundance of tomatoes that I began bringing bags upon bags into work to give away. We also planted jalapenos, green onions, zucchini (we had way too many zucchinis and had to give them away by the dozens all summer), bell peppers, and a few different herbs. We made salsa every week, spaghetti sauce from scratch, fajitas with the peppers, and the list goes on and on.

Just some of the fruits and veggies from our yard

Having our very own vegetable supply a few steps away from the kitchen was the coolest thing to us. Why hadn’t we been doing this for years? Oh yeah…because it’s a ton of work. Our drip system doesn’t work very well so in the heat of the Sacramento summer we have to water these plants almost every day. And then there’s the weeding, oh the weeding. It never ends. After a summer of wedding planning and working, and trying to keep our garden alive and healthy, we decided we would scale back a little the following year. This was just too much work.

Before

After

The next year came and we decided to plant some tomato plants from seeds this time around. We would buy seed packets and little containers to start the plants and keep them inside until the weather permitted their move to the outdoors.

This is what the tomato starters looked like in the beginning

We planted tons of seeds thinking only a few would take because that is what we’ve seen in the past. Although we had never planted anything inside. So, to our surprise,  they all took. They all grew into tiny little tomato plants and when it came time to move them outside, we couldn’t bare to get rid of any of them. So we planted them all. Which ended up adding up to well over the 15 we had the last year. So much for scaling back.

This year we have romas, shady ladies, yellow pears, red cherrys, red grapes, early girls, lemon boys, and multiple different heirlooms who’s names I have forgotten. We also have a slow-producing zucchini plant, an overgrown monster-of-a-squash plant, we had lots of grapes before the birds ate them, we have green and white onions, thai chili peppers, a few bell peppers, and a crazy overgrown raspberry that we planted and now wish we didn’t. Oh, and my favorite vegetable of all time, artichokes. We had one artichoke plant that produced about 6 delicious-but-small artichokes. Yum.

Our first artichokes

Here is a mix of what we're growing now!

Spicy Thai Chilis

Little Cherry Tomatoes

We had so many onions!

Grapes..before the birds ate them all!

This year my favorite tomato plant has surprisingly been the roma plant. This is the first year we have planted them and I really love their flavor and texture. They stay nice and firm for days after they’re picked! They are perfect for my homemade spaghetti sauce (with extra basil).

Here is a recipe that I basically just throw together from the veggies I find in the yard-

What you’ll need (amounts aren’t listed because I never measure, I just throw it all in!):

– as many roma tomatoes as you can harvest (you can mix in other varieties as well)

– yellow onions

– olive oil

– fresh garlic

– fresh basil

– fresh oregano (or dried if you can’t find fresh)

– a little red wine

– salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

Blanch washed tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and cool under cold water while peeling off skin. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil in a large deep pot. Dice tomatoes and throw into garlic and onion mixture once onions start to look clear. Add a little red wine and bring to low boil. Throw in oregano, basil, salt, and pepper, and reduce heat to low and simmer up to 2 hours. I usually do the faster version, simmering only for 30 minutes.

Top with fresh basil and shaved parmigiano reggiano and you’re done! Oh and this next part is mandatory- pair with a delicious glass of red wine.

Homemade spaghetti sauce with angel hair pasta

Another Boudoir Marathon is Coming Up!

Ladies- if you’re interested in getting some amazing boudoir photos taken by the talented Bre Thurston on September 18th (a great day for many reasons, including it being my wedding anniversary!) then please contact Bre at bre@brethurston.com or check out her website at www.brethurston.com. But hurry, there are only a few slots left!

This will be the third boudoir shoot that I have worked on with Bre as the makeup artist and the sessions just keep on getting better! They’re taken in a gorgeous hotel room in downtown Sacramento and we keep the champagne flowing and the girly clothes/accessories are all over the place! Bre’s photos always turn out amazing and you will not be disappointed!  Have them done as a gift for someone special (husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, whoever) or just do them for yourself! Trust me, you will be happy you did!

To check out makeup I’ve done for past boudoir photos look at my portfolio page above. Hope to see you there!

(This photo was taken from Bre’s site)

Photo of the Week, Week 4

This is a photo I took of my niece at the beach in Hawaii. Look how happy she is!

The End of a Love Affair

I have a love other than my husband. A love that is so strong, we cannot be away from each other for one day or I have withdrawals. Oh…that isn’t love? That’s an addiction?

I'll even drink whatever this is... (These were actually really delicious candy covered cappuccinos)

Okay then, I have an addiction. I am absolutely, completely, utterly addicted and in love with …coffee. I drink it all day, everyday. I love black coffee, coffee with soymilk, iced coffee, hot coffee, latte’s, macchiatos, cappuccinos, espressos, and even frappuchinos on occasion. I love it all. I love the taste, the smell, of course the wake-me-up affect, and just the process of walking into a loud coffee shop and yelling out my drink. After I pick up my drink, before I even take my first sip, I am happy. Whatever is going on in my day, my life, it goes away for a split second and is replaced with pure bliss because I know that I am about to drink happiness.

My mom bought me this magnet when I got my first apartment.... Enough said.

I am a coffee fiend. When I wake up in the morning, my first thought is, “coffee? coffee? where’s my coffee?” My biggest nightmare is waking up and hearing my husband say “Oh, yeah, we’re out of coffee,” because then I will have to wait until I am showered and ready to go out the door before I can have my first sip. And on those days, I’m moody. Extremely moody. On days where I’ve had to wait 2, 3, 4 hours before having my coffee, most people in my life know to steer clear until we can go through a starbucks drive-through.

My daily routine is as follows, I get the coffee pot ready the night before every workday. I put the freshly ground coffee in the filter and the water in the coffee pot, so all I have to do in the morning is press “on.” Five minutes later I’m sipping happy. Then, I shower, get ready and head to work. Once I’m at work, I head downstairs to meet a friend for…wait for it…coffee. We head to the starbucks located inside my building and depending on how I’m feeling I order either a grande or a venti coffee beverage of some sort.

The "Gold Card"

I have a starbucks rewards card that I continually re-fill so I can get a free drink after every 15 purchases and the baristas all know me by name. I once added up how much money I’ve spent on Starbucks in the past year based on how many free drink coupons I’ve received in the mail. The amount was astonishing and I vowed to never count that number again.

If I’m really having a rough day, I head down to starbucks for a second time around 2:30. Usually for a sweet drink that is loaded with sugar and empty calories, but it. tastes.so.good.

So, last Wednesday when I woke up not feeling well enough to go to work, I called in sick to the office and crawled back into bed. I slept for a few more hours and woke up around 9:00. I went out to the living room to rest on the couch and stared longingly at the coffee pot. I thought to myself “coffee probably won’t help my stomach ache/exhaustion so I guess I’ll pass today.” Not to mention I felt too tired to get up and push the ‘on’ button anyway. My plan was to stay in bed/on the couch for the remainder of the day and get some rest. I fell back asleep again around 1:00. I woke up an hour later with a pounding headache. I am not prone to migraines but to me, this was a migraine. I was miserable. “I must be dying,” I thought to myself. Then I realized, I was having withdrawals. Over the years I have come to recognize what a “caffeine headache” feels like, but I always know just how to fix them. Drink a cup of coffee, duh! In this case, I didn’t want to. I wanted the headache to go away, but I also wanted to feel better and be able to sleep as much so I refrained. I tried advil, lots and lots of water, and sleep. Nothing worked. Basically, I went to sleep that night with the same headache I had at 2:00pm that afternoon.

Thursday morning I woke up headache free, and decided to skip the caffeine again because I thought “maybe this is good for me.” Not to mention I’ve been under a little stress lately and thought the caffeine would only make me more high-strung. So I went another day. And by noon the headache was back and I was on to the advil and massaging my temples as I worked.

Then it was day 3. I thought..”Okay, it’s been 2 days already, why not keep this up. The headaches are gone..I can do this. Bring.It.On.”  But they weren’t gone. They came back each day, just later and later in the days. I took my advil and went on with my day.

I am now on day 5, which is a day I never thought I’d see. I felt good this morning. I woke up, jumped out of bed and didn’t look back. I had energy…without drinking coffee. I think that means I had real engery. Not that simulated, fake energy that caffeine makes you think you have. But real energy. I’ve kept it up all day long and despite a slight pain that is lingering in the back of my head, I feel damn good. Soon the headaches will completely subside and I will no longer be a prisoner to this addiction that I believed was true love. Yes, I will miss all the wonderful things I listed above, but I won’t miss being addicted to something that made me moody and unpleasant in it’s absence. Nor will I miss the afternoon headaches when I haven’t had enough,the stained teeth, or the coffee breath!

My good friend and fellow blogger Britt Hedin has decided to quit with me and is slowly weaning herself off of coffee and energy drinks too. Click here to check out her blog- she might even post about quitting coffee!

I believe this could be the end of a love affair….

1/2 Marathon Update

So, I did it. I signed up for the 1/2 Marathon for October 30th. The longest run I have done is 6.2 miles, so I’m a little nervous about doing 13.1. And so far I’ve been kind of slacking on my training. I’ve only been running 3 mile runs the last few weeks and that’s not anywhere near what I should be doing for my training. So, basically… I need to get my sh*t together pretty soon here if I’m going to be ready in October! Here is the training schedule that a friend made for me. I’m going to attempt to follow this as best I can and see how it works out. Wish me luck! 13.1 miles here I come! This is just the training schedule for August, I’ll post the other two months later.

Oh, and I just bought this awesome running shirt by New Balance at my local Marshall’s for $12.99! I already have one just like it in white and I wear it all the time. It’s lightweight and super comfortable so you don’t even notice it while you’re running. And for $12? Such a great deal! 

I Heart Travel, Part VIII – England

Not much to say about my short trip to London. I loved London, but I usually love most European cities I visit. We stayed in a cute little bed and breakfast, did a lot of sight-seeing around the city, went up in the London Eye, ate fish and chips and English breakfasts, went to a few art museums, and saw an amazing performance of Wicked. I just wish I had my new camera back then so I could have really captured the city! Next time I guess.

A List Above Other Lists

I love lists. I use them almost daily. I use lists for the grocery store, at work to keep myself sane, at home to remind myself what I need to do on my days off so I actually get off the couch, when I’m planning a party or some sort of event, and the list goes on and on.

The one list I have never made or even attempted to make, is a bucket list. I think the idea of a bucket list has always scared me a little because it means I have to actually do all of those things. But today I decided, what the hell? Why not? I have a pretty long time to finish all these things on my list, so why not give it a shot? I am sure if I wrote a bucket list 10 or 20 or 30 years from now, my wishes and my priorities would be drastically different. But who says you can’t add-to or edit your list once it’s been written?

So, here goes.  My bucket list.

– Write a book (okay, okay, I’m starting off big, but I didn’t say it had to be a long book… )

– Learn to paddleboard (been once, I was horrible)

– Climb Half-Dome

– Hike to Kjeragbolten in Norway again (click here if you don’t remember what that is)

– Run a half marathon (working on this now)

– Own my own company some day

– Rescue a dog (or multiple dogs..I have a while..)

– Buy a boat and become a wakeboarding rockstar

– Jump out of a plane

– Ride in a hot air balloon

– Never forget that I’m an artist- continue doing creative projects forever

– Visit at least 40 countries (about 15 down, 25 to go)

– Be a great parent (someday)

– Have a closer relationship with my brother

– Travel to Minnesota and get to know my family there and see where my mom grew up

– Go to a broadway play in New York

– Travel to Chicago more often to see my family

– Learn to let things go and move on

– Teach someone something important

– Become a talented photographer even if it is just a hobby

– Take classes about things I enjoy (photography, Italian, cooking, Italian Cooking!)

Continue to be best friends with my husband for the rest of our lives and always remember how lucky I am

– Live in a new city, state, country, whatever…just somewhere new. Somewhere where everyday will be an adventure

– Take a life-altering photo that I keep forever. Multiple life-altering photos would be nice, but one will do

– Learn how to bake (I am a terrible baker and I can have the chocolate chip cookies to prove it)

– Last but not least, keep adding to my bucket list! Oh, and crossing things off too.

That’s all for now!

I Heart Travel, Part VII – Spain

Barcelona was such a fun city to visit. The architecture was so unique and intricate that I could stare at buildings all day. We spent the days walking around the city and even took a bus tour to see all the sites, and then spent the nights dancing our hearts out. This is truly a city that doesn’t sleep. There is something to do all hours of the day and night and I would love to go back someday.

I Heart Travel, Part VI – Oktoberfest in Germany

I have only been to Germany once (if you don’t include the airport layovers) and I was pretty consumed with Oktoberfest so  I didn’t see much else when I was there. I’m not complaining because it was one of the most entertaining/fun times of my life. We woke up early, went straight to the beer tents, ordered giant beers, and sat at huge picnic tables all day. We met people from all over the world who were there for the same reason we were…to drink beer and have a good time. I have no idea how I was able to finish more than one of those beers back then, because I’m pretty sure I’d be asleep in 10 minutes if I drank two of those now!

Actually, that is kind of a lie. I actually DID fall asleep pretty quickly after having a few of these giant beers. Here’s what happened – we sat down with some tough looking Italian guys and all ordered our drinks. When I was over half way finished with my beer, I looked around and noticed I could almost finish mine before everyone at my table. So, I made that my mission. I finished my beer, slammed it down on the table and said- “Ha! Finito!” I was so proud. Until one of my American friends said “Prima Finito, Prima Dormito,” which in rough translation means, “first to finish, first to sleep.” Everyone laughed (at my expense) and then shortly after I went back to the hotel for a nap. Moral of that story? Don’t try to act tough when deep down you know you’re not.

Here are some photos of the little I saw of Germany.