Santa Barbara

In early July I made a trip back to Southern California to visit my friend Megan. When I go to LA I usually rent my own car and hop between friends and cities, but this time I went specifically to visit Megan and make a trip up to Santa Barbara. We went on a trip up there together back in 2010 when I still lived in LA, and decided it would be a perfect place for us to get away to for a couple of nights. We did a lot of things, exploring town, going out at night, hitting the beach, and the highlight, wine tasting. On our last trip we visited a few tasting rooms in town, but this time we did a day-long vineyard trip, which was a lot of fun.

Wine Trail

Itinerary

Flag

Wine Tasting

Us

Lunch

Rancho Sisquoc

Wine tasting with a group of strangers is always interesting. The first stop is usually semi-awkward, since everyone is sober and a lot of times you’re the first group there, so it’s pretty quiet. This group was no exception. But as the day wore on, we all had a lot of fun together. We had a wine geek on the trip, who proceeded to annoy everyone in the group on the first few stops with his intense swirling and spitting and asking a million questions about each wine. But by lunch time, we were all pretty chatty and this guy even bought two bottles for us to share at lunch, which was a really nice gesture. The lunch was catered and set up beautifully (under the umbrella, above) with linen napkins, real silverware and bottles of water. I would definitely recommend Grapeline for a wine tour.

After returning to LA, we met up with a bunch of our sorority sisters for dinner at a restaurant in downtown LA. I love seeing these girls and am excited for my next trip back, in just a few short weeks.

Advertisements

Last Time For A While

Enjoying my last cup of frozen yogurt this evening. At least for a little while. I’ve totally let my health and eating go to the wayside over the last month, and now it’s time to ‘lock it up!’ as they say.

Tomorrow I’m getting back to my workout plan, and starting a very strict diet. I’m hoping to jump start a lifestyle change with good, rigid behavior at the beginning.

20120520-223728.jpg

Cake Ball Secrets

Cake balls are one of my favorite desserts. Ever since I sampled them at a party a few years ago, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect recipe and the best way to make them. Mine usually taste delicious but their presentation leaves something to be desired. Below are what I wish my cake balls looked like. These were made by Luke’s sister Katy, who is basically a professional baker, for her son Ove’s birthday.

Image

I decided to give them another try for Mother’s Day, and I’m happy to say that I found my cake ball sweet spot: I finally worked out all of the kinks. Here are a few tips:

– Bake them in stages. This time, I made them over the course of two days, I baked the cake, mixed the frosting in and put them in the fridge to chill on Saturday, and on Sunday I dipped and decorated them.

– Add a teaspoon of Crisco to the melting chocolate. This makes the consistency much more manageable.

– Use kebab skewers to dip, gently push on to wax paper, and drizzle chocolate over the hole left by the skewer.

Image

Above are some of mine from this weekend! They’re still a work in progress, but look much better in my opinion.

Easter Dessert

In this week’s 5 Weekend Highlights post I mentioned the Easter dessert I made when we had my uncle over on Sunday. Luke’s sister first introduced me to haystacks, and I’ve always thought of them more as a wintery dessert, with the flavor combinations, but I realized that they look exactly like little bird nests and could work for the spring as well.

So, I added jelly beans on top for an Easter-themed, easy to make dessert.

Here’s what you need;

– 1 cup butterscotch chips

– 1/2 cup peanut butter

– 1/2 cup peanuts

– 2 cups chow mein noodles

– bag of small jelly beans, such as Lifesaver Jelly Beans

Preparation:

Heat butterscotch and peanut butter over medium heat stirring constantly until butterscotch chips have melted. Remove pan from heat and add peanuts and chow mein noodles, stirring until combined. Use a spoon to scoop 1 tablespoon of mixture onto wax paper, and gently press to make wider and rounder. Let cool until hardened, about 25 minutes. You can also place the tray in the refrigerator to speed up the process.

5 Weekend Highlights

This weekend started off well because a few dresses I ordered from Lulu*s came. I love this site. They have absolutely adorable clothes and the prices are reasonable. Of course, I will have to plan a Vegas trip now because these dresses are a bit too short for anywhere in Denver!

On Sunday afternoon, Luke and I drove down to Colorado Springs to the Broadmoor for lunch. The hotel is gorgeous and so much fun to walk around, and our lunch was delicious. I’m always surprised at how quick the drive to Colorado Springs is. Hopefully we’ll be visiting again soon because there are so many sites to see down there.

On Sunday night we had my uncle over for dinner, and I made this pear, bleu cheese, walnut salad, this pork tenderloin and mashed potatoes. I also made my super easy bruschetta recipe, which I will have to post sometime. Everything turned out pretty well, especially the special Easter themed dessert I made, which I will share soon.

I spent some time downloading new music from iTunes to help me get back into my workout routine. Excited to begin that tomorrow.

Also on the subject of music, Luke and I have been wanting to go to a concert for a while. I saw that Drake is coming to town in May, and we’ve decided to buy tickets to see him. I haven’t been to a concert in years, so I’m really looking forward to it.

Our Chrismas

This Christmas will be the 5th that Luke and I are together for… or I suppose I should say, in a relationship for. You see, in 5 years, we have never spent Christmas Day together. People have always thought this was kind of weird, and maybe it is, but to me it’s a testament to how dedicated we each are to our own families… and what we will eventually bring together to make our family someday. We both come from families with very time-honored traditions. Neither of us grew up going to Cabo one year, staying home the next, visiting family in Chicago another, we always had Christmas at home with our entire families, doing the same things each year. So, neither of us feels quite ready to sacrifice that special time, yet.

To make up for being apart for the big holiday, which is difficult, though we both know we are where we should be, we have a tradition of having our own Christmas before we part. And tonight, we are celebrating it before Luke flies home to California tomorrow. I make a big, fancy dinner, we open our gifts, and then eat dessert while watching a Christmas movie. It’s become something very special to us.

Tonight I will be making pork tenderloin in a pear cream sauce, risotto and a caesar salad. Depending on how they turn out, I will be sure to share the recipe. Also, if you know of any good cocktails requiring peach schnapps, let me know. I had to buy a whole bottle (isn’t it pretty?) and will only use a little bit tonight.