Monday, 18 August 2014

Lucky Three in Santa Barbara

When we were living in London, I remember saying that one of the things we'd make sure to do when we moved back was visit Santa Barbara at least once a year. I'm happy to report that we stuck to that goal. With the beautiful Spanish architecture, sunny skies and beaches and endless shopping, t's the perfect place for a long weekend or a wedding, which is why we combined the two last month to celebrate our good friends'  wedding and our third anniversary. Hard to believe it's already been three years since we tied the knot…so much has happened and yet I know we have so much more ahead of us! It was lovely to soak it all in back where our love began. Along with visiting a few of the normal spots we go to like Tupelo Junction, Isla Vista and Montecito, we made an effort to check out some new spots this time around. The highlights were trekking to the top of the Santa Barbara Courthouse, visiting the Santa Barbara Mission, sunning ourselves at Butterfly Beach, coffee at French Press and a romantic dinner at The Lark. Can't wait for my next trip down in a few weeks!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Tomales Bay Picnic

It's been a while since I posted! Things have been very busy over here between weddings, birthdays and planning my sister's bachelorette (which was a huge success this weekend!). In between the festivities, Jim and I spent July 4th weekend at home and took advantage of having 'no plans' by spontaneously heading up the coast to Tomales Bay on a sunny Saturday. Since Cowgirl Creamery and the oyster farms are famous spots up there, we made sure to stop by both for some picnic fare. We got the Mt. Tam brie cheese wheel, homemade bread and a few salads at the Creamery and then headed over to Hog Island Oyster Company. The line ended up being incredibly long so instead of waiting, we drove down the road a little bit and set up a makeshift but romantic picnic on my bright Mexican blanket. It was so beautiful looking out at the bay and lush greenery. I keep learning that sometimes having no plans can be the most satisfying way to spend a summer day.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Wine Tasting in Carmel Valley

I'm not sure how or why, but I've never really spent much time in Carmel Valley. I've always stayed close to Carmel-by-the-Sea instead. Carmel Valley has so much offer from wineries and wedding venues to shopping and art galleries - it's such a great place to spend a weekend. As part of my getaway to Carmel for Mother's Day last month, we spent Sunday in the Valley for a bit of wine tasting & lunch. Our first stop was Cowgirl Winery - the cutest country tasting room located in a barn. It honestly made me want to put some cowboy boots on! The tasting room is nestled back from the street near a few other tasting rooms, with beautiful lush gardens. After your flights, you can pop down to Corkscrew Cafe for a thin crust pizza lunch in casual surroundings. It's got a great backyard feel with quirky touches like that cool wine bottle sculpture. Definitely worth a visit. 

Monday, 2 June 2014

Escape to Cabo

It seems like months ago we were lounging in the sun in beautiful Cabo. It was such an easy, relaxing vacation - just three hours away to absolute paradise. We stayed in our family's condo right in the heart of town, which ended up being such a convenient location, close to the beach, restaurants and the harbor. Our itinerary was very loose, but I tried to hit up all the spots Jetsetter recommended in their "Your Keys to Cabo" guide. Here are just a few of the highlights...
We kicked off our vacation with an easy dinner of fresh seafood and massive margaritas at The Office right on the beach. The Baja style shrimp were pricey but so succulent.
After dinner, we strolled back towards our condo to Bar Esquina where I spotted these amazing light fixtures. These would be amazing on a patio or in a Mexican-themed dining room. Although we only got drinks, the menu looked pretty good - California/Mediterranean style. 
We ate most breakfasts on our patio…I wish I could start every morning like this! On the menu: breakfast tacos with tomato basil corn tortillas, eggs, cheddar, avocado and turkey bacon with fresh coffee.
Jim had told me about the fresh spiced mangos you can buy on the beach, so as soon as I spotted the man with the stand I made a beeline over there. They flay the mangos right in front of you and sprinkle sweet chili right over.
Somewhere in the middle of our trip, we made our way over to Lover's Beach which is just a 5-minute boat ride (about $15). The rock formations are beautiful and sand is the perfect color tan. It's a nice escape from the sometimes-hectic Medano Beach. Next time we'll bring a picnic lunch so we can spend more than a few hours over there. 
On our last night we decided to take a sunset cruise on a sailboat and it turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. We went with Cabo Sails and the service was great including an open bar and a cheese plate. Afterwards, we popped over to Mi Casa for a delicious Mexican meal complete with tres leeches cake for dessert (handmade by our waiter's grandmother!). Another restaurant we loved was Edith's for an upscale dining experience. I had the chicken enchiladas and they were the best I've ever had. 
We'll be back sometime soon…I can't stay away from that gorgeous sunset!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Honey Peanut Butter & Coconut Cookies

I haven't been baking much recently and I finally got the urge to break out my bowl & whisk today. It was probably a combination of the weekend coming to a close and dealing with the sad news at UCSB. Cooking and cookies always make me feel better. These honey peanut butter and coconut cookies from My Happy Place blog caught my eye on Pinterest. They're a simple weeknight vegetarian snack (no eggs) and they're delicious with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream right on top. I made a few tweaks as I went along but it's mostly the same recipe.  
Here's what you'll need for 10 cookies...

1 cup creamy salted peanut butter
6 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla 
Little pinch of salt
2/3 cup flour (white or whole wheat)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup desiccated raw coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then set aside. In a large bowl, whisk peanut butter, honey, and vanilla until smooth. Add flour and baking soda. Stir until combined. Scoop dough into balls and roll in coconut flakes. Place on a baking sheet and press down with a fork, forming a criss-cross pattern. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.


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