5 Year Wedding Anniversary

Our Modern Day Love Story

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It all started with a face-time call. Wait, let me back up. How did that call even come to be you ask? Well, my friend at the time was dating Paul’s friend, who had just moved back to the UK. She told me he had recently ended a relationship and so had I. My friend and I had this very basic plan of traveling to England that summer to see the two boys. Because of this plan I added Paul on Facebook and Instagram but nothing ever happened. He never messaged me (rude) and I never messaged him (I think I liked a couple of his photos). Months later, when I was visiting my friend in San Antonio where she lived at the time (I lived in Austin), we decided to call the two since they were going to be together.

I called and Paul answers. Only Paul. My first reaction was to hang up. “I don’t know this person” I thought. But, Paul being the charming, cheeky lad that he is, called back. My friend yelled “answer it” and since I don’t do well with peer pressure, I did. The three of us talked for a good hour, give or take, but it was mainly Paul and I chatting. I was a hot mess, but luckily, he couldn’t see how red my face was.

If I remember correctly, it was a Sunday and I needed to drive back to Austin and get home. Paul and I hung up and I wasn’t sure what to think of it all or what would come from that one-hour conversation. I remember looking down at my phone on my ride home (sorry mom) and seeing a FB message pop that said, “Call to say goodnight?”. I’m not going to lie; my stomach was in knots and I couldn’t stop smiling. It was probably his accent that had me hooked. I got home, and we facetimed before I wend to bed.

From that day forward, Feb 10th to April 3rd, we talked every single day. There wasn’t a day that we didn’t facetime, even if it was for just 10 minutes. I would sit it my car on my lunch break, eating my lunch, facetiming Paul. When I got home from work (which was between midnight and 2am for him) I would call him, and we would talk for a bit. In the morning as I was getting ready for work, I’d call, and he would be on his lunch break or just thereafter. On the weekend, sometimes we sat on facetime for hours (I think our max was 8 hours straight). We talked about EVERYTHING. He watched me make stir-fry, brush my teeth, do the dishes, listen to music, get ready for work or bed (yup) and I watched him play video games, play the guitar, make chicken and rice, fall asleep and sing. I truly believe we got to know each other by connecting this way, over the internet, without actually meeting face to face.

I will never forget the moment in time when he was off with his mate indoor climbing and we hadn’t chatted much that day. We were both very busy and I remember him messaging me and saying something along the lines of “I have this feeling that is hard to explain; the feeling is that I miss you. But how do I miss someone that I have never met before?” It was modern day poetry and it made me feel all sorts of feelings. We even said those magical three words, “I love you”, before meeting (shocking).

The time came for Paul to pay Halee a visit. This was the real deal! We were actually going to meet IRL, WTF. Paul bought his ticket to Austin and planned to visit April 3-10; a whole week. I was so excited but so nervous. Then the day came for me to pick him up at the airport. I FLIPPED. I was a few mimosas deep and so nervous. “What if I don’t like him? What if he doesn’t like me?  So many thoughts were running through my mind and I was SO close to leaving the airport. But, there he was, coming down the escalator. The first thing I did after we hugged was use the restroom. I knew my face was as red as his Liverpool jersey and I needed to catch my breath. We had our first make-out sesh in the car and the rest is history. JK, but kind of.

Our first stop was Chipotle because I was obsessed in 2013 like the rest of the world. Then we headed back to my place since it was late (shout out to Torie & Clarissa!). The next 6 days were filled with all the touristy things I could think of to show him since he had never been to TX before. We went to Fredericksburg, ate Torchy’s Tacos, ate Salt Lick BBQ, almost played Chicken Shit Bingo but it was packed, got tattoos together (hey Laura), went to San Antonio, saw the Alamo, saw the Riverwalk, went to the Tower of Americas, and more. Then, he left, just like that. What next?

He called me when he landed back in UK and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. I knew he loved me and I knew I loved him, but we were thousands of miles apart from each other. Side note: he used to always play/sing Deathcab’s Transatlanticism which was a real tear jerker (go listen to that song now). Some would say we didn’t really even know each other. And then not too long after he arrived back home from his ATX visit, he randomly asked me “What would you do if I asked you to marry me?”. I’m sorry, come again?! I was speechless for a few moments, and then said, “I would say “yeah, why not?”. #crazy

We have jumped through so many hurdles to be together, and the first one was getting married. We decided that he was going to fly back to TX, so we could get married (because it was way easier and way cheaper). He booked his flight and planned on staying a long weekend. Before that though, I had to acquire a marriage license for us and because he wasn’t there, I was doing this alone on his behalf. We had to get so many documents notarized and on the day of my appointment, the woman noticed that they had messed up Paul’s name. It said Paul Edwards Robert and his name is Paul Robert Edwards (the III to be precise – so British). I was about to freak out because this was already a stressful and exhausting situation. She must have been in a good mood or didn’t want to deal with me anymore because somehow everything got approved, even with that hiccup.

Paul flew back down on May 3rd, 2013 and stayed a few days. On May 4th, 2013 we ran off and got married, just the two of us, by a retired judge on her property that overlooked the Hill Country. Our marriage was a secret at the time, apart from a few friends, just because I didn’t want anyone passing judgement. I knew that what we did was risky, scary, and a little crazy but it was also real, right and the best decision I’ve ever made. I handed in my 2-week notice at my job and headed to England on May 29, 2013. I told my parents that we were engaged and that I was going to England to *maybe* go back to school. Both of those statements were false.

I’m not going to lie, it was hard the first few months, getting accustomed to a life where I wasn’t able to work, I didn’t have any friends or family near me and even though I lived in country where there was no language barrier, I felt like there was one. I had a tough time understanding some people and felt out of my comfort zone when I would go to the shop or somewhere by myself. I think that’s where I started relying on Paul a lot.

In our first home in Leeds (that I miss everyday), we had such a spacious kitchen with wood countertops and a skylight to make everything bright, even on the greyest days. While Paul was at work, I started playing around in the kitchen. I became obsessed with it. I would make breakfast, lunch and dinner most days with a side of baking. That’s when “The Ginger Snap” was born (another story for another time).

We lived in Leeds for over a year but then had to sell the house and move in with Paul’s mum in Bradford for a short period of time. HERE’S WHERE IT GETS JUICY. Before that happened, we flew to San Antonio for a friend’s wedding. We had submitted my temporary resident visa because I had already been in the UK for 6 months (actually more…shhhh). We had to submit all kinds of evidence proving our relationship and why I would only be there temporarily. When we were in San Antonio, we got the letter denying my temporary residence and we were shattered. Paul still had a contract to finish up in the UK so he had to go back. I remember taking him to the airport, dropping him off, crying (like I am about to now), saying goodbye – not knowing when we would see each other again. A month? 3 months? A year? Who knew. I probably cried in my room for a good three days.

Nearly a month went by and it was pretty shitty without him – not knowing when I would get to see him again. I was applying for jobs and trying to stay busy when he called me one day with this insane, elaborate plan to get me to him. He came up with this plan of flying me into Dublin (since Dublin isn’t part of the UK) and then flying from Dublin to Bradford City Airport. Bradford’s airport is so small and I’m not even sure if they have proper computers or phones. I was to fly in on a Sunday evening; the last flight of the day at 8pm or something. My first reaction was “NO, are you crazy?”. Surely, they’d catch me in any of the locations I was flying through, right? Long story short: after hearing him out and much thought and planning, I decided to do it. What did I have to lose? If they did notice, they would just send me back to the U.S, right?

We booked my flight. I landed in Dublin and that is when I started really freaking out. I thought “they” knew. There were drug dogs and police and guards walking around everywhere. Me being my paranoid self thought they were talking about me on their walkie-talkies. I finally got on my flight to Bradford and I was sweating profusely. We landed and made our way off the runway and into the building. I handed the gentleman at the counter my passport (which states I was denied temporary residence) and he looked at my picture and handed it back. NO STAMP. WHAT??? My heart was racing, and I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I ran and saw Paul waiting for me and jumped into his arms. Definitely *one* of the best days of my life.

We moved in with Paul’s mum in Bradford for a bit before finding our little flat in Manchester where we were for the next 8 or 9 months. During this whole time of us being married, we were filing for Paul to get his permanent resident visa for the U.S. We finally got the news when we were living in Manchester and that is when we made the move to San Antonio.

In San Antonio, we saved for about a year before buying our first home together. That is where I have all the wonderful memories of my small donut business, our close group of friends, BBQs, margaritas in the pool, Regina, our co-ed soccer team (another thing I miss everyday) and much more. We had no idea that we would visit San Francisco & Napa and fall in love. SPOILER ALERT: we did.

We visited May 26th, 2017 and arrived back home June 2nd. We called our relator and he came around the following Monday. We shared the news with him that we were moving to SF and we needed to sell our home. It went on the market and sold in a day. We officially became SF residents July 19th, 2017 (6 weeks later) with no jobs and no place to live.

Now, after all the crazy adventures we’ve been through together–to be together–we are celebrating 5 years of marriage, which started from that one innocent, awkward facetime call. 

Before I met Paul I was living a completely different life and never in a million years did I think my life would be the way it turned out. Never in a million years did I think I'd fall in love with someone over the internet, get secretly married and do all the things we've done. Before I met Paul I had just recently graduated from college, was teaching and not enjoying it, had some nasty habits that I kicked (I used to smoke cigarettes!), wasn't really taking care of my body or eating healthy, and so much more. After moving to the UK, I really felt like I found my passions and hobbies, ones that I never knew I had, or enhanced the ones I did have. My passion for baking, cooking, being in the kitchen, being outdoors, hiking, exploring, walking, photography, etc, flourished in England. 

For that I am thankful for my husband. He is the person who pushed me to pursue baking when we moved back to TX. He is the person who pushed me to start my own small business. He has always wanted me to be happy and to succeed. He has always been my number one fan. I am lucky to have him and to call him mine. 

Happy 5 years babe. If this was our first 5 years of marriage, I am anxious to see what happens in the next 5 years?! No matter what, we got this. 

Thanks for reading friends!

-Halee 

Sun Basket Review

Sun Basket, an organic food delivery service based in the Bay area, reached out to have me review their product. I haven't blogged, let alone reviewed a product, in such a long time so I wasn't sure this was something I wanted to commit to. 

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After doing my research I learned a lot about Sun Basket and was very impressed: 

  • Sun Basket is a certified organic handler, and strives to source organic produce 100% of the time (currently over 99% of their produce is organic).
  • Organic ingredients are clearly labeled on delivery.
  • They work exclusively with ranchers and farmers who raise their animals responsibly and sustainably. 
  • All of their seafood is wild-caught, never farmed.
  • All of their fisheries are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a leading authority in sustainable seafood.
  • Their meal plans are dietitian-approved like Paleo, Lean & Clean, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Mediterranean, and more, which make healthy eating easy.
  • Their packaging is 100% recyclable and compostable.
  • Sun Basket works with local farmers, ranchers, fishermen and shops to offer the best ingredients each week. 
  • The executive chef/owner of Sun Basket, Justine Kelly, spent time at Slanted Door restaurant. She also was mentioned in Gourmet Magazine and had an appearance on Iron Chef.

All of these details about Sun Basket (+ many more) made me say "let's do this". I received my first week's meals this past week and will receive my second batch next week. Each box included 3 meals, of my choosing, to prepare. I chose Lemongrass Tofu, Salmon and Quinoa Bowls and Tomato-Coconut Shrimp this week. Out of the three, my favorite were the Lemongrass Tofu + Tomato-Coconut Shrimp. 

Lemongrass Tofu

 Lemongrass Tofu with shiitake mushrooms and coconut black rice.

Lemongrass Tofu with shiitake mushrooms and coconut black rice.

This meal was so flavorful and fun to make! The process was simple enough for anyone to execute, whether you are comfortable in the kitchen or not. Starting with the rice, you let that cook for a good 30 minutes. While the rice is cooking, you are able to prepare and cook everything else. This made things almost effortless.

What was inside (serves 2): 

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  • Black Rice
  • Coconut milk
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms
  • Hodo Soy firm tofu
  • Onion 
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Sun Basket Lemongrass paste (lemongrass, EVOO, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, ground turmeric)
  • Sunflower sprouts
  • Sun Basket stir-fry blend (gluten-free tamari, sesame oil, fresh garlic, fresh ginger)

Tomato-Coconut Shrimp

 Tomato-Coconut Shrimp over broccoli "rice".

Tomato-Coconut Shrimp over broccoli "rice".

This meal, like Lemongrass Tofu, was bursting with the right amount of flavors that both Paul and I pleasantly enjoyed. The broccoli rice was a nice addition to an already healthy-ish meal. This is one I will gladly recreate again and am looking forward to the results. 

What's inside (serves 2):

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  • Broccoli rice
  • Wild gulf shrimp
  • Red chile flakes
  • Onion
  • Peeled fresh garlic
  • Lemon
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh basil
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Coconut milk
  • Baby spinach
  • Shaved coconut

Things to know about Sun Basket:

  • Pricing does seem to be a bit steep; $11.99 per serving. Considering all of the local organic ingredients they use, it may be worth this price, especially if you don't have all the time in the world to go grocery shopping. The fact that they provide the exact measurements of what you need in each dish is convenient and makes things incredibly easy. (easy seems to be the constant word here). 
  • You can choose 2, 3, or 4 meals per week (depending on your menu plan) and can mix & match them (making some vegetarian, paleo, gluten free, etc.) within your meal plan (classic/family).
  • You can skip a delivery or cancel your plan at any time. 
  • Sun Basket ships to most zip codes in the United States, excluding AK, HI, MT, & parts of NM.
  • Your pantry should include olive, grapeseed or sunflower oil, plus salt and freshly-ground pepper. They occasionally call for wine or butter as an optional recipe item. You'll need basic pots and pans, a knife, and basic utensils.

I really enjoyed the first week's meal plan and am excited to try next week's! Check back in to see my thoughts when I review Chilaquiles with Fried Eggs, Bucatini Pomodoro and Saigon Noodles with Braised Tofu. 

 

Cheers, Halee

Life Update + Our New Abode

It's been awhile hasn't it?! Life has definitely been a little crazy for us these last two months with new jobs, a new apartment and generally everything new around us! We've been trying to navigate our way through SF, especially our new 'hood, to become familiar with our surroundings.

Paul and I finally have our favorite grocery stores we like to go to; Trader Joe's for weekend trips when we need a lot of things, Le Beau Market for quality and specialty items (fruit and veggies etc.), Belcampo for meat, and Flatiron for wine. We have SO many good restaurants around us, but we try to cook at home at least 4 times a week, leaving us a few times to eat out (can you blame us?)

My job was located in the Mission, but we just recently moved offices closer to our apartment. Before, I was leaving our apartment at 7:45 a.m. every morning to get to work by 9 a.m. I would get off at 5:30 p.m and wouldn't get home until 6:30 p.m. My commute included about nearly an hour of walking every day and an hour of bus every day (2 hours total commute everyday). Now, it should only take me 20 minutes to walk to work, which really excites me! It takes Paul about 20-30 minutes to walk to work as well, so hopefully him and I have extraordinary calves, butts, and/or abs in the near future. 

Paul and I just recently joined a co-ed soccer team too! We have already played a couple of games, and let me tell you, the weather for soccer here compared to Texas is really incomparable. I do not miss that Texas heat (but I do miss other things including queso, bbq, and a handful of people). 

We have been living in our apartment for a month now (crazy!) and we finally feel like it has come together. We still need a few things, and still want to update some pieces of furniture in the future, but overall it feels like home. Here are some photos of our place for your viewing pleasure - I will also link some of our items so you know where we purchased them. 

 Zhori Bar Cart from  Wayfair  

Zhori Bar Cart from Wayfair 

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 Pillow from Etsy 

Pillow from Etsy 

 Zona 75" Etagere Bookcase from  Wayfair

Zona 75" Etagere Bookcase from Wayfair

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 Ottis Lianne Red Area Rug from  Wayfair  

Ottis Lianne Red Area Rug from Wayfair 

 Freestanding Wood Coat Stand from  Wayfair

Freestanding Wood Coat Stand from Wayfair

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 Banner from  Matriarch Handmade

Banner from Matriarch Handmade

 Pascal Dining Chair from  Wayfair

Pascal Dining Chair from Wayfair

 Regina in stuffed animal form

Regina in stuffed animal form

 All the closet space!

All the closet space!

 Ilkley map from  Uncommon Objects

Ilkley map from Uncommon Objects

 Hallway views

Hallway views

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 Table from  Stuff

Table from Stuff

 Apron from  Hedley and Bennett
 Life currently

Life currently

 Golden Gate to the left (even though I didn't get it in the picture)

Golden Gate to the left (even though I didn't get it in the picture)

 Coit Tower to the right

Coit Tower to the right

And that's a wrap! Thanks for reading and scrolling through. I can't tell you what my next post will be, but it will have something to do with baking, traveling, or more updates on life in SF.

-Halee 

Artifact Uprising Prints

I have been a huge Artifact Uprising fan for years, ever since I got my first instagram book made by them. I believe my collection so far equals to 3 books, and now some 5x7 prints, that I am super excited about. 

Why am I excited you ask? Well, we will be moving into our new apartment in (hopefully) 3 weeks time, and I can't wait to showcase these photos throughout our new home. I plan on framing some of them and using holders for some of them too (check out these wood block holders on Artifact Uprising's site here). Of course I will be displaying the photo-books I have already, which I did at our old house, but I am excited to see how it all comes together in our new place. 

If you aren't familiar with Artifact Uprising, they are a team of individuals who decided that photos on our phones and laptops should be transferred to books or pictures that we can display in our home and therefore can never get deleted or lost. They truly believe in people and our ability to do great things. If you want to learn more about how they started as a business and become a fan like myself, you can read about them here

If you guys are interested in Artifact Uprising and ordering some prints, use code PRINT25TGS! This will get you a set of everyday prints (seen here), not including shipping. You can choose any size and the code is good until August 11th. Hope some of you get your hands on some prints! Leave me any questions or comments below.

Until next time,

Halee

First Week in San Francisco

This past week has been nothing but exhilarating. We started our journey to San Francisco by driving from San Antonio to Austin. Mind you, we had our cat Regina with us. I was given a sedative by the vet for her, but she was trying her hardest to fight it. The drive was nearly 2 hours with traffic. We arrived and had to check our 4 large bags full of clothes we brought, and then go through security. They wanted me to take Regina out of the bag so that they could scan it, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing that, especially when I overheard the TSA agents joking about how a cat got loose once and everyone was running around trying to find it. I had the option of going into a private room to hold her while they took the bag to be scanned. They should always give you this option and my advice is to take it, especially if you have a cat. Just make sure to get to the airport with plenty of time…because it takes time. Overall, the TSA agents were nice and accommodating. During the flight Regina did relatively okay and I think she just didn’t understand what was going on. We arrived in SF and we quickly dropped our bags off where we were staying and then headed to drop Regina off to where she was staying. My friend Emma Morris hooked me up with a friend of a friend of a friend, who was willing to temporarily take Regina in while we found a place. My option before Emma made this connection for me was unfortunately boarding her, so I was SO SO grateful. I’m happy to say that she's doing well and I get updates and pictures all the time.

Thursday and Friday consisted of interviews for both Paul and I. Thursday, Paul was up at 4:30am and left at 5:00am to catch a flight to Portland where he had an interview. My first interview was at 11:00am. It was with a sunglasses company based in SF and I was interviewing for a social media position. I was freakingggggg out, especially since Paul wasn’t here to go through the motions with me. But, after the interview, I thought it went pretty well and I was feeling good about everything. Friday I had 2 interviews and Paul had another one as well. My interviews were pretty much back to back; 12:00pm and 2:00pm. The first was for a PR firm doing social media and the second was for a clothing company doing social media as well. I thought I did terrible this round of interviews. The first interview was one that I was really looking forward to and really excited about, and I think I psyched myself out a bit. Then that feeling just escalated going from the first to the second interview. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Friday at this point. The weekend approached and we decided to go look at areas around SF that we were considering living. We spent nearly our whole Saturday going from one area to the next, seeing and figuring out what felt right. Also, we got ourselves Clipper cards so that we could ride the bus and Bart more easily (aka we are slowly becoming locals, right?) On Sunday we went to check out a couple Farmers Markets and just explored a little more.

THEN, WE GOT SOME NEWS. We were back at the house, and Paul got an email. He got a job offer from the company he had an interview with in Portland!!! He will be a Management Consultant with this company. We were so ecstatic! We decided to go for dinner and drinks to celebrate. Side note: Usually in order to rent a place here in SF, you need to have good credit and at least a job offer, if not an actual job. Before this amazing news, we didn’t have any job offers so it was kind of hard to actually look at places because we probably wouldn’t be considered. So Paul getting this offer made things so much easier for us. We immediately called a realty agent we had been communicating with and set up some viewings for Tuesday. We couldn’t wait to view some places. Monday rolls around and we didn’t have much planned. We tried to go to De Young Museum since we didn’t get to see it when we visited in June, but it is closed on Mondays. Womp womp. We continued to walk around and take everything in. We were walking in Golden Gate Park when I looked down at my phone to check my email.

I GOT A JOB OFFER TOO! I received a job offer as a Digital Assistant Account Executive for the company I was crossing my fingers for all along.  I seriously couldn’t believe it! I showed Paul and we just couldn’t stop laughing with excitement. We decided to go back to our place to make carbonara and then to go out for drinks later that night to celebrate again. Tuesday is here and we go look at places. We don’t start until noon, but from noon to about 5:30pm, we view 9 or 10 places. There was one that stood out right away and we filled out an application for it. The tenants were still living there and wouldn’t be out until August 15th. There was already someone that was interested so we weren’t sure what our odds were and continued looking.

A few hours later our agent called us telling us WE GOT APPROVED FOR THE APARTMENT! I again, couldn’t believe this was happening. This place is nearly perfect and ticked almost every box. We cannot believe how well things have gone for us, and we are trying to just go with the flow. Surely things don’t go this smoothly when moving to one of the most expensive cities in the US, do they? Wednesday was a bit trickier for us, as we were to meet with the building manager and sign the lease. We needed to bring 1st month’s rent, deposit, and a cleaning fee. The building manager wanted a money order or cashiers check and we were told it would be easy to get. “Try a bank or a western union, that should work” he told us. Considering we don’t have a bank account here yet (because you need an address to set up an account and we don’t have a permanent address because we don’t have an apartment, which makes everything tricky), we were having trouble. After trying 4 banks and a Western Union, we went to the USPS and they accepted cards-except when we tried to make the money order purchase, it didn't go through because of the amount. After 4 phone calls later and our card being denied left and right, it finally worked. We were able to secure the apartment and we will hopefully be moving in at the end of August.

I feel so lucky and privileged to be in this position and to be in such a creative and unique city, and I can’t wait to officially call this place home in a few weeks. Stay tuned because I will definitely be doing a tour of our place once we get the keys! As always, thanks for reading guys.

Until next time!

Halee

Sandgrens Clogs

Lately, I have been more into shoes than I have ever been. I've always been the girl that wears Birks in the summer and Docs in the winter. But, I have been wanting to expand my shoe collection for some time now, and make my outfits a little more fun. 

I collaborated with Sandgrens Clogs, a Swedish shoe company founded in the 19th century, to showcase my new clogs and talk about my experience wearing them. 

As you can tell from the pictures, I practically wore my clogs everywhere since I got them. I tried to coordinate them with every outfit. When we visited San Francisco, I wore them almost everyday; even days that we walked over 10 miles! They really are the cutest shoes I own, and very comfortable too! You can wear them with jeans to make a casual outfit have a bit more flare, or you can wear them with a dress if it's date night. They really are versatile. 

If you are interested in the same shoe that I received, here is the link: https://sandgrensclogs.com/for-women/brights/madrid-low/.

Until next time, 

Halee

San Fran, Here We Come!

Some people might say we're crazy or stupid or irrational, but I say to hell with them. Sometimes you have to do what feels right. Sometimes you have to take a risk and put all of your cards on the table. Sometimes you have to do what most people won't.

It all started when we visited SF a month ago. I knew I would love the city but I wasn't sure how Paul would feel. One of the first things he said to me when we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, pulled into Enterprise, dropped the car off, and waited for an uber was, "I love it here already". I couldn't stop ooing and aaing at every building we passed and every street we went by. We dropped our bags off, spoke with who we were staying with, and off we went to explore. 

Roaming the streets of San Francisco made me feel a certain way I can't quite describe, and that I haven't felt since England. There is definitely a unique energy exuding from San Francisco that pulls you in and I'm under the impression its some kind of spell. Either way, I was hooked and so was Paul. After day one we started doing research to see if this was even possible. "Are we being mental?" we asked ourselves. After little thought and enough research to put our minds at ease, we decided after day 1, we should move there. 

We spent the rest of our trip seeing as much as we could see, checking out different areas, even making a trip to Oakland (since that was a possible option for us at first). 

Once we got home the first thing we did was call our Realtor. He came around the very next day and we told him the news. We asked him what we needed to do to put the house on the market and how long he projected it would take. Fast forward almost 4 weeks and here we are. 

Why are we doing this you ask? Why would we sell our 4 bedroom home with loads of space do you ask? Why would we move to the most expensive city in the US you ask? Why would you not take your time and think about all of this you ask?

Well, for starters, we are doing this because...why not? Why should we stay in San Antonio for the rest of our lives? I honestly have never done anything this crazy (since moving to England), but I can't even begin to explain the feeling I get from it all. I would rather risk everything we have to move to SF and try, rather than staying in SA and always wondering and wishing and dreaming.

Another exciting part about this big move is that we both have never lived in a new city together. We lived in England (where Paul is from) for the first 2 years of our marriage and we have lived in SA for the last 2 years (where I'm from). I also plan to try and focus on social media as a career and do baking as a hobby or side gig, which will be another first for me. But we shall see!

There is so much to say about this whole situation and I have so much on my mind, but I think the message is don't settle. After visiting and seeing San Francisco, I knew if we stayed in San Antonio it would be because we were scared, comfortable, and playing it safe. There is nothing wrong with doing so, but for us, this seems well worth the risk. 

I hope some of you follow our journey and see what happens to us in San Francisco as we work, eat, sleep, travel, explore, and play. I hope I have also shared a little insight for any of those who are wanting to do the same, or have thought about moving somewhere but uncertain about the risks. 

As for the future? We are unsure of it at the moment. San Francisco could be a temporary location for us or it could be more permanent. We've talked about possibly moving back to England after this move, or somewhere in Europe-who knows! But that's life right? Just go with it, follow your heart, trust your instinct and your partner, have fun, take risks, and be brave. 

Signing out,

Halee

Cinnamon Shore, Mustang Island TX

My friend Kat & I recently had the opportunity to visit Cinnamon Shore, located on Mustang Island in Port Aransas Texas. The first thing that popped into my head when I thought of "Cinnamon Shore" is, this place has to be filled with all the sweetest things since it has a name like that! I honestly didn't know much about this place, since the last time I went to Port A was probably almost 10 years ago (Spring Break baby!) I did my research and immediately got super excited about this place. The property is beautiful and very well maintained, and they offer plenty of amenities to guests during their stay. 

We arrived around 2:30pm on a Saturday and we stayed both Saturday and Sunday night, giving us one full day to get a feel for this glorious place. Our first stop was reception to get our room key. We went to our room first to drop everything off and check it out. We fell in love. It was decorated perfectly and everything in it was top-notch. We needed to make our reservations for dinner so we made our way over to the Real Estate office. All the ladies were very helpful, and from there we hopped on a tour of the property with LT. She told us many things about Cinnamon shore, including how many people are actual owners and how many are renters. I was also curious about how long Cinnamon shore had been around, and she answered 10 years! I couldn't believe that I had never heard about this place! 

 Town Center 

Town Center 

Once we were done with the tour, we headed back to our room to freshen up. On the tour LT had invited us to check out the Texas Monthly Gulf Coast Show Home, where they were having a happy hour. Did you say wine and a tour of a beautiful home? I'm in. We went to check out Lake Colby first though.

 Take 1

Take 1

 Take 2

Take 2

 Lake Colby

Lake Colby

 Texas Monthly Show Home

Texas Monthly Show Home

 Master Bath Floors

Master Bath Floors

 Loft bedroom on the 3rd floor

Loft bedroom on the 3rd floor

 I could get ready every day in this 3rd floor loft 

I could get ready every day in this 3rd floor loft 

 View from the 3rd floor balcony 

View from the 3rd floor balcony 

 <3

<3

After the tour we went back to our room to change and get ready for dinner. We had 7pm reservations (this place gets booked fast and they aren't open on Sundays). We were super pumped to have some fresh seafood at Lisabella's. Kat got seafood enchiladas that were smothered in this creamy sauce with a hint of heat and it was absolutely delicious. Of course I went with pasta and got shrimp linguine in a butter sauce with tomatoes, basil, pancetta, and parmesan on top. SO GOOD. We decided to quickly go back to the room and make some drinks, grab the blanket, our cameras, some strawberries, and make our way back to the Town Center where a band was setting up to play some live music. We watched for an hour or 2 before heading back to our room for some needed R&R. 

 Inside of Lisabellas

Inside of Lisabellas

 Shrimp Linguine with tomatoes, pancetta, basil and parmesan

Shrimp Linguine with tomatoes, pancetta, basil and parmesan

 Golden Hour feat. Kat in Town Center

Golden Hour feat. Kat in Town Center

 Before

Before

 After

After

The next morning we got up bright and early to try and see the sunrise. It was a bit cloudy that morning so it didn't really work out, but A for effort! We headed back to the room and I made some pancakes for us (thanks Guenther House!). We then got ready for our big day! We first went to the Infinity pool, which opened at 9am. We wanted to beat the crowd of kids so that we could take an insta-worthy pictures :) Then we went back to the room (notice how we keep going back and forth from and to the room?!) to grab some drinks and made our way to the other pool onsite, which is BYOB (the infinity pool doesn't allow outside drinks since it has a bar onsite). There was only one person there so we took some more pictures and then acted like maniacs with the GoPro. We were being so silly but it was so much fun. We laid out for a bit and then headed to the beach. You can have the front desk reserve beach chairs for you and they will set it all up and have it ready for you by whatever time you request. We only stayed out at the beach for an hour or 2 before heading back to the property. We were getting hungry so we went to the Seaside Cafe at Kiera Pool. Apparently their fish tacos were all the rage so I had to get them and OH MY GOSH THEY WERE SO GOOD. 

 Morning vibes

Morning vibes

 This view never got old

This view never got old

 Kiera Pool&nbsp;

Kiera Pool 

 Dune Pool (BYOB)

Dune Pool (BYOB)

 Kat @ Dune Pool&nbsp;

Kat @ Dune Pool 

 Kat @ Dune Pool pt. 2!

Kat @ Dune Pool pt. 2!

 On our way to the beach!

On our way to the beach!

 Fish tacos at Seaside Cafe

Fish tacos at Seaside Cafe

We were getting exhausted from our day and it was soooooo hot outside so we decided to take a break from the heat. We went back to our room and starting watching Sweet Home Oklahoma on Bravo. We-could-not-stop-watching. If you are a fan of trash tv aka anything on Bravo, I highly recommend this show. We pulled our butts off the comfortable couch and made some drinks and made our way to the Town Center to watch sunset. We walked around through the streets of Cinnamon shore and stopped by Lake Colby. Sunset at Lake Colby was phenomenal and we were probably there a good 20 minutes just taking it all in. We walked back to the room and showered, I made eggs for dinner (the kitchen in our room was to die for by the way), and plopped our butts back on the couch to finish watching Sweet Home Oklahoma (laugh out loud). 

 Waiting for sunset

Waiting for sunset

 Town Center

Town Center

 Sundown at Lake Colby

Sundown at Lake Colby

The next morning, we packed all of our stuff and said goodbye to Cinnamon Shore. It was such a fun 2 days and I can totally see myself going back. Cinnamon Shore plans to have a grocery store, pizza shop, liquor store, and more by Spring Break of 2018. Their whole idea is to have as much as possible available to you so you basically never have to leave. I can completely support this idea. 

Recap on Cinnamon Shore and the amenities on site:

  • Dune Pool (9am-10pm everyday-BYOB)
  • CBar Cafe 
  • Dune Park
  • Kiera Pool (9am-10pm everyday)
  • Seaside Cafe (Open 11am-8pm)
  • Fitness Center located at Kiera Pool
  • Lake Gavin (Catch & release fishing is available)
  • Lake Colby 
  • Great Lawn (Where Smore's night is held)
  • Butterfly Park
  • Hummingbird Park
  • Lisabellas Bistro & Bar (Open Monday-Saturdays 5:30-9pm)
  • Wifi
  • Golf cart shuttle/ equipment rental- Rentals such as golf carts, beach chairs and umbrellas, bikes, and fishing poles with tackle boxes are available to rent through Cinnamon Shore. 
  • Pet-friendly units

Cinnamon Shore also has a calendar of events, which showcases the events going on at that time. For instance during the summer on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday they do Yoga on the beach at 8am. They also offer surf lessons, sand castle lessons, Kid's Camp, Smore's night, Live music, and Movie night. Make sure to ask for the calendar of events so you know what's going on while you visit!

Thanks for the hospitality Cinnamon Shore, hope to see you soon!

xo, Halee

The French Laundry vs. Saison

I'm going to be completely honest, I don't know if I can say which restaurant I liked better out of TFL & Saison. My husband, Paul, has a definitive answer but I do not. 

Let's start with a breakdown of our evening at TFL, located in Yountville. 

 "Happy Anniversary Halee and Paul"-the attention to detail was impeccable.&nbsp;

"Happy Anniversary Halee and Paul"-the attention to detail was impeccable. 

 Course 1-Salmon Tartare Cornet

Course 1-Salmon Tartare Cornet

 Course 2-"Oysters and Pearls"

Course 2-"Oysters and Pearls"

 Course 3-Chilled Garden Carrot Soup

Course 3-Chilled Garden Carrot Soup

 Course 4-Slow Cooked Fillet of Wild Scottish Sea Trout

Course 4-Slow Cooked Fillet of Wild Scottish Sea Trout

 Course 5-Alaskan King Crab "Poelee"

Course 5-Alaskan King Crab "Poelee"

 Course 6-Bread and Butter

Course 6-Bread and Butter

 Course 7-Thomas Farm Squab "Roti a la Broche"-FAVORITE

Course 7-Thomas Farm Squab "Roti a la Broche"-FAVORITE

 Course 8-Charcoal Grilled Japanese Wagyu

Course 8-Charcoal Grilled Japanese Wagyu

 Course 9-"Chateaubriand" of Marcho Farms Nature Fed Veal

Course 9-"Chateaubriand" of Marcho Farms Nature Fed Veal

 Does all the wine count as a course?!

Does all the wine count as a course?!

 Course 10-Assortment of Desserts

Course 10-Assortment of Desserts

 Raspberry,&nbsp;Dark Chocolate, Olive Oil

Raspberry, Dark Chocolate, Olive Oil

 Assortment of Truffles for us to choose from

Assortment of Truffles for us to choose from

 Handmade Hershey Kisses with another nice touch

Handmade Hershey Kisses with another nice touch

 Checking out the Wine Cellar onsite

Checking out the Wine Cellar onsite

 Kitchen tour pt. 1

Kitchen tour pt. 1

 Kitchen tour pt. 2

Kitchen tour pt. 2

My experience at TFL was one that I will never forget. I definitely enjoyed every minute of it and they really do make you feel special when visiting. From showing us the kitchen and the cellar, to changing our tablecloth when Paul spilt carrot soup on it (while we were away looking at the kitchen). From personalized messages on our menu and in our chocolate kisses to complimentary glasses of champagne to celebrate our anniversary. The big question: would I go back to TFL? Probably not. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that both Paul and I can tick off our bucket list, but I don't think there is any need to go back and experience all of it all over again (and definitely not at that hefty price). 

Next, I will breakdown our evening at Saison, located in San Francisco.

 Look at this handsome man!

Look at this handsome man!

 Dining area

Dining area

 Open kitchen

Open kitchen

 Course 1-Saison Private Batch Caviar

Course 1-Saison Private Batch Caviar

 Course 2-Diamond Turbot with Edible Flowers&nbsp;

Course 2-Diamond Turbot with Edible Flowers 

 Course 3-Ground Turbot on the bone

Course 3-Ground Turbot on the bone

 Course 4-Box Crab

Course 4-Box Crab

 Course 5-Uni on Sourdough Bread

Course 5-Uni on Sourdough Bread

 Course 6-Artichoke

Course 6-Artichoke

 Course 7-Barbecued Quail

Course 7-Barbecued Quail

 Which knife did I choose??!

Which knife did I choose??!

 Course 8-Pronghorn Antelope (from somewhere in TX!)

Course 8-Pronghorn Antelope (from somewhere in TX!)

 Course 9-A broth made of Grilled Bones

Course 9-A broth made of Grilled Bones

 Course 10-Ice cream &amp; Caramel with all the fixings&nbsp;

Course 10-Ice cream & Caramel with all the fixings 

 Course 11-Fruit &amp; Tea

Course 11-Fruit & Tea

 1970 Sauternes dessert wine

1970 Sauternes dessert wine

 Whatever the hell Paul ordered&nbsp;

Whatever the hell Paul ordered 

 Take home Tea!

Take home Tea!

My experience at Saison was extraordinary. From the knowledgable and friendly staff, to the exciting and unique food. We started off with a glass of complimentary champagne. Then, the plates started coming. They had plenty of waiters/waitresses and staff that they would interchange for delivering each meal and explaining it. We then finally got to meet the infamous Mike Hoe, one of the Somms at Saison. Backstory: When we were visiting Mayacamas and met Kassandra, the daughter of McPherson Wines, we mentioned we were going to Saison when we got to SF. She then told us she knew the Somm and Paul said "Mike Hoe?!" and she said yes! She ended up sending him an email letting him know about us and how we were coming in. He was seriously the best, along with all the other staff, and made the evening 10x better. Being able to see the kitchen at Saison is probably the number one thing that sets it apart from the FL for me. I really did enjoy both meals and both experiences, but the kitchen part was set Saison slightly ahead. 

Overall, for me, both win. They both were roughly the same price after all was said and done, they both offered very interesting and appetizing meals, and they both had excellent service. If you are looking for that old school fancy dinner with a reputation to back it up and it takes months to get a reservation, then TFL is the place for you. BUT, if you are looking to eat at one of the best restaurants in the world (currently ranked at 37, whereas TFL is no longer ranked), then that alone should tell you Saison is your place to dine. 

I am glad both Paul and I got to experience both of these wonderful restaurants and I definitely feel privileged to be able to do so. Now it's back to homemade pizzas and spaghetti & meatballs :)

Thanks for reading! See ya soon.

-Halee