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 

Kiera Pool 

Dune Pool (BYOB)

Dune Pool (BYOB)

Kat @ Dune Pool 

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. 

"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, 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 

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 & Caramel with all the fixings 

Course 10-Ice cream & Caramel with all the fixings 

Course 11-Fruit & Tea

Course 11-Fruit & Tea

1970 Sauternes dessert wine

1970 Sauternes dessert wine

Whatever the hell Paul ordered 

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  

All Things San Francisco

Where do I even start?! San Francisco is full of so many places to eat, drink, visit, and explore. Here is a little guide I've put together from when we visited recently for nearly 5 days. We tried to hit up every spot on our list possible, and even though there were a few places we couldn't make, I think we did a pretty good job. 

1. Golden Gate Bridge

See the Golden Gate Bridge, somehow, some way. Whether you drive over it or see it from the distance, it is worth seeing. 

2. Explore the Different Neighborhoods

There are SO many areas and neighborhoods in SF that are worth exploring. The homes are full of unique characteristics and details, and some are super vibrant and colorful. It was hard NOT to take a picture of every house we walked past. Some areas we walked through that I recommend are, The Castro, The Mission, Hayes Valley, Dolores Heights, Fillmore District, Presidio Heights, Japantown, Chinatown, Western Addition, Marina District, Russian Hill, Nob Hill, Potrero Hill. Basically all of San Francisco, ha!

3. Clarion Alley

If you're a fan of murals and street art, Clarion Alley is a must see. The alley is maintained by the Clarion Alley Mural Project, who support over 500 artists, receive 200, 000 visitors annually, and have created over 700 murals since 1992. The organization also collaborates with many community neighbors and partners, and work in support of social, economic, and environmental justice. It is located between Valencia and Mission Streets and 17th and 18th Streets.

4. Twin Peaks

If you are looking for a stunning view directly in the center of San Francisco, Twin Peaks is for you. You can hike up or drive/uber. We decided to uber since we were running low on time, but we walked all the way down and back to our airbnb. I recommend walking part of the way so you can walk through Dolores Heights/The Castro (depending on which way you're headed), or Noe Valley, Cole Valley, or Vista Del Monte.

5. Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is full of so many things to do and see. We decided not to do everything within the park because we probably would have spent loads of money, but I would advise choosing a few things that sound appealing and doing them. One thing that I had to see (and was free) was the Bison Paddock. You can learn more about the history of this part of the park here. We visited the Conservatory of Flowers, which is also located in the park. And, we walked the entire park until it ends at the beach. 

6. Conservatory of Flowers

Within Golden Gate Park, the COF is a must see if you are a fan of plants and flowers. TIP: It's also a nice place to warm up if it's cold outside.

7. Go to the beach

You might as well! If you are already in Golden Gate Park and heading towards the Bison Paddock, Ocean beach isn't much further. Once you get to Ocean beach, Sutro Baths is nearby as well. Just get your pen out to mark a ton of things off your list!

8. Sutro Baths

To learn more about Sutro Bath, click here.

9. Mission Dolores Park

All of the yes! Not going to Mission Dolores Park, especially on a sunny day, is basically sacrilege. It is another spot in the city that offers a great view. It's also a wonderful place to have a picnic, play tennis, basketball and/or soccer, play with your dog, relax, or even take a nap under the trees. 

10. Drink all the Coffee & Eat all the Pastries

The Mill

11. Eat a Burrito

There are plenty of burrito joints to go to, especially in the Mission. We ended up going to Pancho Villa and it ended up being the best damn burrito I can ever remember having. I also got watermelon agua frescas which went perfectly with the flavor of the burrito; match made in heaven I tell you!

12. Eat Oysters

Like burritos, there are plenty of places to get oysters. For instance Swan Depot, which has been around for over 100 years, and Hog Island Oyster Co. located in the Ferry Building, are two well known places. But, after doing some research, I knew I had to go to Leo's. It is probably the most beautifully decorated place we went, and the oysters were just as good. I tried hot oysters for the first time; flavors carbonara and hot wings. YAS. It was a little pricey but we did have some bubbles with our oysters (because why not?), and we had to the get the fries which were recommended by my friend Nanette :) 

13. Go to a Museum

San Francisco is a hub for tech, food, and art. There are plenty of museums to go to while visiting. For instance de Young, SFMOMA, California Academy of Sciences, AAMSF, and SO MANY MORE. We decided to go to SFMOMA. I have never been to a MOMA and heard this one was good. It is $25 each to enter, whereas de Young is $30 each. I did really want to go to  de Young but we decided to just pick one and spend more money on food ;) We also missed seeing Matisse by ONE day. Darn.

14. Bi-rite Creamery...

...is a must. There are actually a lot of ice cream shops in SF currently and I was bummed we only made it to one, but Bi-rite didn't disappoint. I got honey lavender and balsamic strawberry and it was seriously perfection. The two flavors went so well together. Some others that I'd like to visit in the future are Smitten, Salt a & Straw, and Humphry Slocombe

15. Eat a Nice Meal

There is SO much good food in San Francisco, including some Michelin star restaurants. If that is something that you're into, you should take advantage of it in SF. We dined at Saison (3 Michelin star, which I will talk about in my next post), Aster (1 Michelin star), and The Progress (1 Michelin star). There are a total of six 3-Michelin restaurants in SF giving them a total of 54 stars. New York has 75, so they aren't too far behind. Another Michelin restaurant (2 star) that we really want to go to is Atelier Crenn , which is Dominique Crenn's restaurant from Chef's Table.

The Progress

Aster

16. Eat Sushi

Find a sushi restaurant, sit at the bar, and order the "chef's choice". You'll thank me later ;) We ate at a place called Ebisu recommended to us by our friends Todd and Craig. We went for lunch and loved it. They do bento box lunch specials and I almost got one but I was feeling soup and sushi :)

17. Day trip to Oakland

We decided to see what all this Oakland fuss was about. The BART near/in the Mission all the way to DT Oakland only took about 20 minutes. We got off DT and grabbed a coffee nearby. We walked towards Uptown, where a couple places we wanted to check out were located. First stop was Homeroom for some mac n' cheese. I was basically in some kind of heaven. Homeroom has about 12 different mac options, but your can create your own mac as well (probably should have done that)! Paul wanted pizza, so we went to Slicer for a slice! Then we walked off the macaroni and pizza and made our way back to the DT area where Sweet Belly was. SB was by far my favorite part of Oakland. The ice cream/donut combo I got was only $5.50, which included ice cream, topping, donut, and drizzle. They also make the donuts on the spot so when you get it its piping hot! SO GOOD.    

18. Palace of Fine Arts

To learn more about the Palace of Fine Arts, click here. 

Lucasfilm is also located near the Palace of Fine Arts, so that was something we had to see (especially Paul). But how could we NOT take a picture of yoda??

If you're in the Marina District, find this house.

19. Pier 39

The one and only one reason you should ever go to Fisherman's Wharf is to see the sea lions (if you're into that sort of thing, like me). 

20. See the Damn Painted Ladies!

You have to, you just HAVE to. There are certain things you have to do and see while visiting SF and I personally think this is one of them, especially if you've never seen them before. 

Here is a video recap of our trip made by Paul!

And that concludes my "guide" to SF, and everything we were able to do in 4-5 days. I kind of feel like I am missing a thing or two but to be honest, it's a bit longer than I was expecting. Be on the lookout for my next post, where I will compare my meal at The French Laundry vs. Saison. Thanks for reading!

-Halee 

Napa + Muir Woods

Our week long vacation started in Napa. We arrived in SF at about 8:15am, went to pick up our car, and on to Napa we went! Our first stop was Bouchon for some pastries where I finally met up with the infamous Emma K. Morris

After Bouchon, we went to The French Laundry (where we would be having dinner that night!), to check out the garden onsite. They try to use as much as they can from their garden in dishes, and at times they are using 95% of what they grow. 

We then had to hurry off to make our first tour & tasting at Schramsberg, which has been served at official state functions by every U.S. President since 1972. Bravo! 

After Schramsberg, we had to rush back to check into our Airbnb, get ready, and head over to The French Laundry for our reservation. I will posting a different blog post talking about my experience at TFL compared to my experience at Saison in San Francisco (both 3 Michelin stars). Stay tuned for that!

The next day we had two more tour & tastings booked, but we had to get one more meal in with Emma, before setting off. We met at this amazing local place called Alexis Baking Company or "ABC". I ordered the chilaquiles, which was amazing and such a large portion! Their iced chai was pretty spot on as well. We still had a bit of time before needing to leave, so we walked over to Oxbow Market after breakfast. 

Oh yeah! Before we went to Oxbow, Emma took us to this authentic Italian shop that only does to-go orders and the man that runs it is 95 years old and still working there (pictured talking to Emma). He created "malfatti" years ago, which is a cheese, spinach, and herb dumpling. Wish we had the time to stay and eat some of his delicious food, but off to Oxbow we went. 

IMG_7350.JPG
Malfatti

Malfatti

Next, we were on our way to Mayacamas Vineyards for our first tour/tasting of the day. When we arrived, I seriously and literally was in awe. The property was so beautiful and private. We were introduced to Cassandra, who gave us the tour, and who happens to be the daughter of McPherson Wine. Once we knew who she was and her being from Texas and all, we instantly bonded with her. The 3 of us hopped on an ATV and Cassandra showed us the land. She mentioned that Mayacamas owns roughly 475 acres and 50 or so is used for wine. The tour was breathtaking. We got to see so many different areas where they are making wine, learn about the struggles they have gone through and are still going through, and see so much beauty and nature. This was by far my favorite experience in Napa. 

Next stop, Cade! This place was stunning as well. The view was unbelievable and the tour in their "cave" was pretty impressive. We really did our homework when we picked these places. Both vineyards were relatively quiet and away from all the packed touristy vineyards like Cakebread and Lewis.   

After Cade, we headed to Gott's Roadside before making our way to Mill Valley for the night. Now this burger was off the chain. I will forever put a fried egg on my burger if I have the opportunity. Oh, and I can't forget about that Horchata milkshake! 

Okay, treehouse here we come!

This house FTW!

This house FTW!

We woke up bright and early after a quiet night in the woods. We grabbed some coffee for the road and headed to the Muir Woods. We were told to get there before 8am because it starts to get busy after that. 

Hello Muir Woods!

After ending our 2-3 hour hike, we noticed tour bus after tour bus as we headed to the parking lot. We really did go at the right time!

And that's a wrap for Napa + Muir Woods! Next blog post will be all about San Francisco, and the one to follow will be my experience at TFL vs. Saison! Stay tuned guys, and thanks for reading :)

 

-Halee

Last Week (News, Photoshoot, Pop-Up)

Last week was CRAZY busy and I just wanted to share some images, words, and my gratitude for those who support what I do. 

The beginning of my weeks are usually low key-catching up on trash tv, cleaning, prepping for my weekend of baking, and just taking it semi-easy. Last week's craziness started off with being on Kens5 with Anthony from Lick Ice Creams on Thursday (May 18th). We were invited to be on the news to talk about the pop-up were having that Saturday at Lick. I obviously get super nervous and weird with these types of things, and I end up psyching myself out when there is no need to. It didn't help that we needed to be there almost 2 hours before we actually went on. It ended up being completely fine and I really enjoyed the experience of being on tv again (this was my 3rd time!), especially with Anthony by my side. If you haven't seen the clip, you can watch it here (below). 

Great Day SA segment

The following day (Friday May 19th) I had a lot of orders to get through, including 2 cakes. After my donut orders were picked up, Jessica Giesey came over to shoot some shots and videos of me doing my thang. For the record, I just want to say that she is truly something special. She's not only good at what she does but we totally click and get along-so it makes things really easy when we work together. I couldn't believe the pictures when I saw them. They really are breathtaking. 

And this video ^^^^ 

Saturday May 20th was the day I had been waiting for for so long. It started off suuuuuuper early in the morning (midnight to be exact), with me cutting out donuts and getting them into the freezer as soon as possible so that I could stay on schedule. My mom arrived at 3am ready to help me glaze, package, and clean up once we were done. When we arrived, I was thinking I'd be ready to glaze in 30 minutes, which made me think I was way ahead of schedule. We didn't start glazing until almost 5am and didnt finish until 6:30. We needed to leave no later than 7:15am and I still needed to box up the donuts and clean the kitchen. I definitely wasn't ahead of schedule anymore. After a lot of hustle, we ended up leaving on time. We arrived at Lick at about 7:35 and brought all the boxes inside. I set up and we talked logistics. The media group arrived at 8am and then shortly after people started lining up. It was the weirdest feeling, to see people line up waiting for your donuts (and Lick ice cream). I was trying not to think about it because I knew I'd get nervous or overwhelmed. The doors opened at 8:30 to the public and everyone started coming in. I couldn't help but smile as I talked to people while my insides were filled with butterflies. Loads of people asked for the maximum amount (6 donuts), and before I knew it we were sold out after 35 minutes (there's a debate on how long but I've heard 27, 30, 35, and 40 minutes ha!). I really couldn't believe it. To me, it felt like much longer. I can't thank the people who came out, everyone who helped me, and especially Lick for making this all happen and for wanting to collab with me. Here's some images and a video from the pop-up for your viewing pleasure :)

The line from the front.

The line from the front.

The line from somewhere in the back.

The line from somewhere in the back.

Overall, this weekend was such a blast and super rewarding. I feel like I accomplished so much in just a few days, and I got to work alongside some REALLY amazing people. I have a couple days worth of work this week (lots of donuts to be made), and then we are off to California for a week. At the end of every tunnel, there is light. California is my light. Be on the look out for some more blog posts after our vacay-and follow along on IG! (theginger_snap). 

Thanks for reading, see y'all again soon!

-Halee 

 

 

 

Homemade Pasta Recipe

About 4 years ago, when I first moved to the UK to be with Paul, I started baking. That's where it all began. I told myself that in the future I wanted to have my own bakery, plant my own garden, and make my own pasta from scratch. I did try it a few times after learning how when I attended Betty's Cookery School, but since being back in the states I haven't. 

Fast forward 4 years and I can't stop making it, and we eat pasta A LOT. We almost always have carbonara and spaghetti & meatballs for dinner every week, and I always try to make the pasta for the carbonara. 

To be honest, its quite simple-only 2 ingredients (3 if you need to add some water), and you most likely have these ingredients in your cupboard. 

Ingredients (3 servings)

-2 cups of all purpose flour

-3 eggs (I use organic eggs so that I get that yellow tint in the pasta)

-Water if needed 

-Semolina flour (for dusting)

What equipment you'll need (to make things easier)

-Rolling pin (you could get away with not having this if you have a pasta machine)

-Pasta machine (this is crucial for me; it really makes things easier, less time consuming and overall consistent.

-Bench scraper (you could use a knife instead)

-Food processor (again, your can do this by hand but it will take much longer)

Again, this is 3 servings. If you want just 2 servings, only use 2 eggs and 1 1/3 cup of flour. 

Again, this is 3 servings. If you want just 2 servings, only use 2 eggs and 1 1/3 cup of flour. 

Gather your ingredients. You can use a food processor (like I am doing) to make things easier and quicker, or you can opt to do it the traditional way (on the table). 

Add your flour and eggs together in your food processor. 

Pulse to combine. If you mixture looks like the picture, you may need to add 1 teaspoon of cold water (one at a time), until it comes together (I ended up adding 3 or 4). 

It should end up looking like this. 

Take your dough out of the processor and knead it for about 3-5 minutes (you don't want to do this too long; remember the processor did some of the work.) If you are doing it by hand without the processor, you'd ideally knead for about 10 minutes until there's so much elasticity built up that you won't be able to continue. Next, let it rest for 20-30 minutes in cling film on the table (we need the gluten to now relax, since we just worked it when kneading). 

Make sure your work surface is lightly floured. If you have a bench scraper, use that to cut your dough into 4 (almost) equal sections. 

Take one of your four sections and, using your rolling pin, roll out your dough. Make sure your pasta machine is set on its lowest/widest setting (0 for me). Guide it through multiple times, folding in half like a book or even in thirds if it's too long. I usually fold and guide through at least 8-10 times on the the first go through setting 0. The first couple of times I tried making pasta I didn't do this and the pasta didn't turn out. From my research, putting the dough through several times allows the gluten to stretch and makes for a tastier pasta. After your several times on setting 0 (the widest setting), move on to setting 1, or the next on your machine. You don't necessarily need to run it through as many times as you would on your lowest setting, but I still run it through a few times. I also let it rest a minute or 2 before running through the next setting, so that the gluten can relax. 

Eventually you will have a long sheet of pasta (pictured), which is setting 5. You can make it as thick or thin as you want it. I personally like thicker pasta so I stopped here. I have gone to setting 6 for thinner fettuccine. Also, make sure you aren't letting your pasta get sticky. Constantly have flour handy if needed.  

Next, guide your sheet of pasta through your fettuccine or spaghetti setting, or cut your pasta yourself with a knife! My pasta machine already has those 2 pasta settings so it makes it easy, but I've cut my own pasta before when making tagliatelle and it's definitely fun! 

Repeat these steps another 3 times with the rest of your dough sections. You'll end up with a mound of pasta that you can't wait to stuff your face with. *heart eyes*

SO MUCH PASTA.

Boil pasta for a few minutes (yes, only a few minutes!) and create your favorite dish. We made carbonara and it was divine. Simply divine. Now, it's your turn! 

Thanks for reading guys! Shoot me message if you have any questions. Until next time.

-Halee 

48 hours in Tucson

My mom asked me a week before, if I'd want to go with her to Tucson to surprise my Grandma who is living there. I was completely on board since I hadn't seen her in over 4 years, but I just needed to be back by Thursday evening because I had Friday morning orders. My mom got everything situated that week and the following Tuesday afternoon came. We met each other at the airport, went through security, and listed ourselves on standby (may I add that standby is the worst because your'e constantly stressed worrying about if you will make your flight. Yes it's free, but I'd rather pay and not worry. We almost didn't make 2 or 3 of our 4 flights.) After an hour or so of waiting, we finally started boarding and were making our way to Vegas. Our Vegas to Tucson flight was a little sketchy, but we had an amazing woman at the ticket counter who marked our passes XT, meaning extra time to board, and instead of boarding with C group, we got to board right after A. Well, my mom (who works for Southwest), didn't know what that meant, so ended up boarding with C anyway, ha! We were finally on our way to Tucson. 

We made it to Tucson, rushed down to pick up the car rental, and our first stop was In-N-Out. I hadn't eaten anything since lunch time and it was 6:30 in Tucson, which is 8:30 our time back home. Basically I was starving. Fun fact: the first time I ever had In-N-Out was in Arizona! 

Classic.

Classic.

Had to capture these two palm trees hugging each other as we left In-N-Out.

Had to capture these two palm trees hugging each other as we left In-N-Out.

We also were lucky enough to see a glimpse of the sunset on our drive over to Grandma's. 

We also were lucky enough to see a glimpse of the sunset on our drive over to Grandma's. 

We made our way over to Grandma's house to surprise her. We were going to wait until the morning since it was getting late, but we said screw it. We arrived in her community and parked in front of the house next to hers so that she wouldn't see us pull up. By this point it was about 7:15pm and the sun was going down. We weren't sure if she was in bed yet but we saw the lights on and the blinds closed. We quietly made our way to the door and knocked three times. I saw her peek her head around the blinds and she looked startled. She opened the door and her face was just dumbstruck. She looked like she had seen a ghost! (I wish I would have filmed this.) She couldn't believe we were there and she almost seemed confused, but ever so happy. We headed to the living room to sit down and chat and we ended up being there until 9pm (11pm TX time.) We decided to call it a day and told her we'd be back in the morning. We headed to our hotel, Casino Del Sol, which was only about 5 minutes from where my Grandma lives, and it just happens to have the most amazing photo worthy pool. 

We woke up early the next morning to get the day going. We stopped for a coffee and then headed straight to the pool to lounge in the sun, before heading over to Grandma's. 

Pool area at Casino Del Sol. 

Pool area at Casino Del Sol. 

After basking in the sun for nearly an hour, it was time to go see Grandma. She told us she usually gets up at 6am every morning, so we knew she'd be waiting for us. We arrived bearing gifts-flowers, food, and our company of course. :) We spent the morning with her, and then went to lunch with her as well. She wanted Chinese, so we found a Chinese restaurant and that's where we ate! We came back and spent some time in her garden before heading out for a few hours. 

Grams & I. 

Grams & I. 

Favorite rooms in Grandma's house. 

Favorite rooms in Grandma's house. 

After hanging out all morning, my mom and I decided to head to downtown Tucson. It's only about 10-15 minutes from Grandma's house so we weren't too far. We walked around a bit near 6th and 7th street, got a coffee at Exo Roast Co., popped into some galleries, and then to do some shopping. 

Painted glass reflection. 

Painted glass reflection. 

Painted glass.

Painted glass.

Had to find the "Greetings from Tucson" wall, duh. 

Had to find the "Greetings from Tucson" wall, duh. 

And had to jump in front of it, duh. 

And had to jump in front of it, duh. 

Exo Roast Co. 

Exo Roast Co. 

Exo Roast Co. 

Exo Roast Co. 

Cactus everywhere!

Cactus everywhere!

The coolest little space.

The coolest little space.

There was a lot of street art and graffiti everywhere. 

There was a lot of street art and graffiti everywhere. 

This was one of my favorites. 

This was one of my favorites. 

After exploring a bit of downtown, we headed to do some shopping, where I found my new favorite dress that I recently wore to a wedding. We then went to Safeway to pick up some groceries so that we could make Grandma dinner. We made pasta and salad and she even had leftovers! I also brought some frozen PB cookies on the trip that we baked while we were there. After dinner, we wandered around her neighborhood during sunset (drink in hand). 

Sunsets + mountains.

Sunsets + mountains.

Blue on blue. 

Blue on blue. 

After sunset, we hung out with Grams for another hour or 2 before heading back to the hotel. The next morning we were up bright and early. We left the hotel at 6am to head to Saguaro National Park for some fun. 

Cactus for days.

Cactus for days.

Seriously, this place was everything. 

Seriously, this place was everything. 

Hi!

Hi!

We had this place to ourselves. 

We had this place to ourselves. 

I think I took like 100 pictures of the same cactus. 

I think I took like 100 pictures of the same cactus. 

Cactus cont. 

Cactus cont. 

More cactus. 

More cactus. 

Close up. 

Close up. 

My favorite was the road against the desert. 

My favorite was the road against the desert. 

Nothing but blue skies. 

Nothing but blue skies. 

Doing my thang. 

Doing my thang. 

Hello again!

Hello again!

<3

<3

After spending over an hour exploring the park, we had more time to kill since my Grandma was at an appointment. We headed on over to the Mission San Xavier Del Bac. This place is only a few minutes from my Grandma's as well, and I've been before, but I wanted to go back for pictures. Plus, it's beautiful. 

After the Mission, we went to Goodwill, the grocery store, and back to Grandma's for a couple of hours before taking off. We got to chat with her one last time before having to leave. She told me so many stories about growing up during the Depression and what it was like then. I can't wait to go back and visit her again soon! 

Before setting off to the airport, we made a pitstop to get some chicken and waffles. We also finished our trip with a drive through the Sam Hughes Neighborhood, which is a National Historic District located in downtown Tucson near the University of Arizona. The homes here are absolutely stunning and begging for their pictures to be taken.  

Recap of my 48 hour trip to Tucson and everything we did:

1. Spent time with Grandma.

2. Gambled at the casino (totally failed to mention this).

3. Hung out by the pool.

4. Explored Downtown Tucson. 

5. Went to Saguaro National Park. 

6. Visited Mission San Xavier Del Bac.

7. Saw the sunset both nights we were there. 

8. Drove through Sam Hughes National Historic District. 

9. Ate chicken and waffles. 

10. Drank champagne and baked cookies. 

 

Thanks for reading! Until next time :)

-Halee

Modkat Review

I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with Modkat, who create modern cat litter boxes. I know, it sounds kind of odd, but I must say that these things are beautiful. The reason I was even considering switching Regina to a different box in the first place was because she started displaying signs that were abnormal to her everyday behavior. For instance she started kicking litter everywhere OUTSIDE of her box and that's when I started to do my research. A few sites had recommended Modkat (and another brand I forget the name of), who have litter boxes that are top-entry, meaning the cat has to get into the box through the top. After heading to their site and having a look around, reading their story, and taking a look at theor products, I knew I had to have one. At first, I was skeptical, and I wasn't sure if this was going to fix or help the problem, but it was worth a shot. We have been using the Modkat for only 4 days and she uses it as if it was her old one. She also doesn't leave nearly as much litter behind as she used to. 

As they say on their site, "the top entry-lid allows for a fully enclosed base, keeping the mess inside no matter how vigorously they dig or where they aim." Regina doesn't like to be watched when she is doing her business, so sometimes when I need to be in the same area, she scurries out in a hurry. Before with her old box, the litter would get EVERYWHERE, but now, it relatively stays on top of the box or inside. I also haven't seen her actually kick piles of litter outside of the box like she used to. I think a lot of that comes from the way it is made. It would almost impossible for her to do that because of how tall it is and how she has to get in to do her thing. The dimensions of the Modkat are 16" L x 16" W x 15" H. It comes with a reusable tarp liner that you can wash and use time and time again until it's on its last leg. It also comes with a scoop, that elegantly hangs on the side of the box. Right now it comes in 5 colors, but maybe they'll add more in the future :) Another thing that I really love about it, is you can technically put it anywhere, especially if you live in a smaller apartment or studio. It is actually nice to look at and it reduces odors, so you and your guests may not even know it's there. 

Overall, I am super happy to have collaborated with this brand. Even though it has only been 4 days, I have already seen signs of improvement, which was ultimately my goal in the first place. If you'd like to take a look at Modkat's site, read about how they got started, and/or look at some of their products, the website is https://modkat.com/.

 

Thanks for reading! See you guys soon.

11 things to do on South Padre Island

1. Rent a house on the beach

If your budget allows you to do so, I highly recommend staying on the beach. We rented a place through SPI rentals, that had its own private pool/jacuzzi and walkway to the beach. We got up every morning to watch the sun rise, walked down to the beach to look for seashells, and came back to make breakfast. It was definitely more intimate and private. The address for SPI rentals is 2600 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597 and the phone number is 956-572-6656.

Private pool/jacuzzi and the view of the beach.

Private pool/jacuzzi and the view of the beach.

Private walkway shared with the rental next door. 

Private walkway shared with the rental next door. 

2. Get up early to watch the sunrise

Sunrise was at 7:00 am when we visited in April. We got up every morning (except our last day because a cold front came in) to watch it. There's just something about a sunrise on the beach. 

Sunrise from our rental. 

Sunrise from our rental. 

Sunrise on the beach in front of our rental.

Sunrise on the beach in front of our rental.

3. Watch the sun set

As much as I love a good sunrise, I love a good sunset just as much. The sunsets were incredible, especially if you're at dinner or enjoying a drink somewhere. 

Sunset while walking on Laguna Blvd. 

Sunset while walking on Laguna Blvd. 

Sunset at Laguna BOB's.

Sunset at Laguna BOB's.

Sunset at the Painted Marlin Grille.

Sunset at the Painted Marlin Grille.

Sunset while riding bikes. 

Sunset while riding bikes. 

4. Rent bikes

Preferably from Wheels on Padre. They are closed Monday and Tuesday, but we arrived on a Wednesday and stayed until Sunday, so it worked out in our favor. We looked around before finding this place and the prices were anywhere from $30 a day to $50 a day. We then found Wheels on Padre and he offered it to us for $20 a day. We then added another day and got another bike for my husband, and the owner only charged us $15 per bike for another day, instead of $20. The owner was super friendly, and recommended some things to see and do. Their address is 2500 Padre Boulevard Suite 1, South Padre Island, TX 78597 and their phone number is 956-299-4562. 

Posing with my trusty bike and some Oleanders.

Posing with my trusty bike and some Oleanders.

From above. 

From above. 

5. Visit South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center

This place is a must. Not only do you learn about and see a variety of birds and wildlife, but you get a good exercise at the same time! There is over 3300 linear feet of boardwalk to walk along and check out birds, plants, butterflies, and even alligators! Apparently there are about 10-15 alligators living there now, and the babies that were just born are the third generation. We spotted two baby gators when we visited, along with a blue crab, ducks and their babies, terrapins, and more. For more information about SPI Birding and Nature Center, their website is http://www.spibirding.com/.

IMG_5157.JPG
Baby gator peaking out from under the brush!

Baby gator peaking out from under the brush!

View from the 5th story.

View from the 5th story.

6. Visit Sea Turtle Inc. 

Again, this is a must, and right next to SPI Birding and Nature Center. This facility operates solely on donations and what is purchased through the gift shop. They are a nonprofit that doesn't receive any funding from the government. The donations they receive basically help keep this place intact and these turtles alive, while also teaching kids and adults about these magnificent creatures.  

When we visited, the staff were very friendly and let us know a little bit about how they worked. Each turtle tank has a binder that tells you about the turtle and its story (why it is there). Some turtles unfortunately are unable to go back into the wild due their injury or condition, but a lot of turtles are rehabilitated and released back into the water. If you are interested in going, their address is 6617 Padre Blvd. South Padre Island, TX 78597 and phone number is (956) 761-4511.

7. See the "White Sands" of SPI

Head north on State Park Rd 100/Ocean Blvd., past the convention center, until you reach SPI Adventure Park (about 7 miles). You will see the sand dunes along the way and as you continue on, you will see the sand start to make its way onto the road, almost making it impossible to drive forward. Up north near the Adventure Park, there aren't any hotels or places to stay. People come this way to usually camp or get away from the "hustle and bustle" of SPI. I'd recommend this place for sea shell hunting too. We found so many more sea shells than where we were staying, and there were so many different kinds and sizes. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. 

Having fun in the sun.

Having fun in the sun.

And in the sand. 

And in the sand. 

So many shells!

So many shells!

Nothing for miles!

Nothing for miles!

I spy mama bear. 

I spy mama bear. 

Posing for the camera. 

Posing for the camera. 

8. Have a drink on the water

There are plenty of places to grab a drink and enjoy the salty air, fresh breeze, and sound of seagulls squawking. Every place we went was biking distance and most of the time we did bike there. Make sure to get there at least an hour before sunset if you want to get a good seat. 

Wanna Wanna, which was right next to where we were staying. 

Wanna Wanna, which was right next to where we were staying. 

Painted Marlin Grille-currently the newest restaurant/bar on the island. 

Painted Marlin Grille-currently the newest restaurant/bar on the island. 

The inside of Painted Marlin Grille.

The inside of Painted Marlin Grille.

Peach-guava Bellini from Painted Marlin Grille. 

Peach-guava Bellini from Painted Marlin Grille. 

Laguna BOB's on Laguna Blvd. 

Laguna BOB's on Laguna Blvd. 

Mango Pina Colada at Pier 19. 

Mango Pina Colada at Pier 19. 

Pier 19, located on Padre Blvd. 

Pier 19, located on Padre Blvd. 

Pier 19 boardwalk, before you get to "Hooker's bar" at the end of the pier. 

Pier 19 boardwalk, before you get to "Hooker's bar" at the end of the pier. 

9. See some dolphins!

This was at the top of my list of attractions when we planned this SPI trip. When we were trying to find a place that did dolphin watches, we couldn't find any that did them in the morning. All of the reservations started at 11am or 1pm. We also couldn't find something that was more of a private tour rather than 50-100 people jammed onto a boat. I stumbled upon the Dolphin Research & Sea Life Nature Center and saw that George and Scarlet offer a more intimate encounter with dolphins, and have been doing this for 18 years. They can only fit 6 people on the boat, making the experience better than I imagined. We were lucky enough to see what seemed like 20 dolphins, maybe more, the whole entire hour we were out on the water. George even answered questions that we had about the dolphins. And, he had his dog Gorgi on board who seemed to really enjoy being the dolphin whisperer. I highly recommend this if you are wanting to see dolphins. The address to the Nature center is 10 N Garcia St, South Padre Island, TX 78578. If you want to reach them by phone to book an appointment, the number is 956-299-1957, but you need to text instead of call. 

10. Explore Port Isabel

Port Isabel is just across Queen Isabella Causeway, coming from South Padre. Port Isabel has an HEB, Walmart, DQ, Wingstop, Subway, Pizza Hut, Whataburger, Church's, Dominos, Walgreens, and more. But, what you really should go see, is the area right off the bridge near the Lighthouse. There are beautiful and colorful shops, art galleries, and restaurants that are worth exploring. Plus, you have to stop at Los Cabos for a breakfast taco before heading back home, they are easily the size of your face, if not bigger. 

Davey Jones Ice Cream Locker.

Davey Jones Ice Cream Locker.

Will and Jack's Burger Shack and Beer Garden.

Will and Jack's Burger Shack and Beer Garden.

Nature's Creamery.

Nature's Creamery.

Shop next to Nature's Creamery/Burger Shack that sold different stones, rocks, necklaces, and more. 

Shop next to Nature's Creamery/Burger Shack that sold different stones, rocks, necklaces, and more. 

Bean and cheese breakfast "taco" at Los Cabos. 

Bean and cheese breakfast "taco" at Los Cabos. 

The inside!

The inside!

11. Eat Seafood!

Last but not least, eat all the seafood while visiting! Shrimp, crab, lobster, fish, and more shrimp! 

Shrimp three ways at Blackbeard's. 

Shrimp three ways at Blackbeard's. 

Fried shrimp basket at Painted Marlin Grille. 

Fried shrimp basket at Painted Marlin Grille. 

And that's a wrap! Hope you enjoyed my second blog post, since returning to the game. My next post may have something to do with Regina or shoes. Stay tuned! 

Vancouver/Seattle

Hi again! Where do I even begin? I'm going to talk about our recent trip to Vancouver and Seattle. We had heard so many good things about Vancouver from friends so we were excited about our trip.

Our morning started at the airport where we were then told that Paul needed a special waiver to fly since he was British, and we only had 45 minutes until our flight left. It took Paul nearly 15 minutes to fill out the form on his phone and when we get to the counter they basically told us that they may not have enough time to get it all confirmed before the plane leaves. So, Paul told me to go without him. I didn't want to leave him and travel by myself so I stayed for a few minutes longer. It made more sense for only one of us to buy a ticket to Canada rather than two so in the end I had to leave him at the check in desk… But, he made it! As I was taking my shoes off and going through security, I see him running behind me calling my name. A smile instantly appeared on my face. I ran ahead to get on the plane and to let them know he was right behind me. He was the last person on before they shut the doors. Talk about a sigh of relief! 

Sunrise as we flew into Dallas, TX. 

Sunrise as we flew into Dallas, TX. 

Dallas to Vancouver was a breeze. We finally arrived in Vancouver and the airport was about 30 minutes outside of the city center. I remember feeling that cool air on my skin for the first time and was so in love. I finally got to wear my new coat and scarves and got to bundle up. First stop was fish and chips for lunch.

The Fish Counter @thefishcounteronmain

The Fish Counter @thefishcounteronmain

The fish at The Fish Counter was insanely good. Highly recommend going if you ever visit Vancouver. From there we hopped on the train into the city center and it worked out perfectly; you don’t realize how good public transport can be for getting around a city that you don’t know. The first stop once we arrived in the city was our airbnb, which was a little studio on the 18th floor of a high rise. We had an amazing view of downtown.

IMG_2551.JPG

We set our bags down, freshened up, and headed for the streets. We headed to Chinatown to check out a coffee shop, but of course we stopped on the way for pictures.

Propaganda Coffee @propagandacoffee

Propaganda Coffee @propagandacoffee

The Husband @andtheboat

The Husband @andtheboat

We wandered over to Crab Park which was right on the water. There weren't many people around and it felt like we had the place to ourselves. That is one of the main reasons we went in February/March, so that the city wasn't full of tourists like ourselves :)

 

Crab Park 

Crab Park 

Crab Park

Crab Park

Downtown Vancouver 

Downtown Vancouver 

For dinner, we made reservations at a place called Hawksworth. It was fine dining in an upscale restaurant, so we thought it was right up our alley. We decided to do the tasting menu so that we could try a little bit of everything. Out of the 6 plates, I think I enjoyed 3 or 4 of them. In my opinion, it wasn't the best place we ate at and it definitely wasn't worth the money. But you live and you learn, right?

The next morning is what I was most excited for. We stopped off at another coffee shop before adventuring through Stanley Park. 

Green Horn Cafe @greenhorncafe

Green Horn Cafe @greenhorncafe

Stanley Park 

Stanley Park 

Stanley Park cont. 

Stanley Park cont. 

After the perfect morning at Stanley Park, and a good amount of walking, we headed back to the city to meet up with Amy H. aka @constellationinspiration at @revolvercoffee. She ended up taking the cutest pictures of Paul & I that I want to frame!

Inside Revolver

Inside Revolver

Outside of Revolver Coffee

Outside of Revolver Coffee

We then headed to “Ask for Luigi” (@askforluigi) for lunch; an Italian spot specializing in fresh handmade pasta. It was absolutely scrumptious and a local favorite, I would recommend it in a heartbeat. We then made our way back to our place, but not without stopping for a donut from @cartemsdonuts first. 

Cartems

Cartems

Cartems Donuterie 

Cartems Donuterie 

We decided to go to Vancouver Urban Winery before dinner, and try some Vancouver wine. We both had flights- I chose the pink flight and Paul did the red. We really enjoyed this place and the atmosphere and would recommend it to anyone visiting. Then we made our way to Bauhaus, a restaurant specializing in German food. SO GOOD. I ordered the wiener schnitzel, cranberry sauce, and I ordered spatzle with it. If you don't know what spatzle is, it’s basically like a German mac n' cheese. I couldn't stop raving about this meal and definitely still think about it to this day. We ended the night at The Diamond, which is a bar on the top floor of an old building, overlooking Maple Tree Square. It was lovely, and recommended by the lovely Amy H (@constellationinspiration).

Our last full day in Vancouver started with another highly recommended place, @beaucoupbakery. We started there and then made our way over to Granville Island Market.

Beaucoup Bakery 

Beaucoup Bakery 

Beaucoup Bakery cinnamon scroll

Beaucoup Bakery cinnamon scroll

Granville Island Market 

Granville Island Market 

Can't forget about the only colored wall I found in Vancouver!

Can't forget about the only colored wall I found in Vancouver!

After Granville Island, we walked over to another donut shop called @luckysdoughnuts. Instead of cake donuts like the one I had from Cartems, this one was yeasted. Super tasty! Then just a few blocks down was where we were having lunch. A place called @maenamrestaurant, specializing in Thai Cuisine with a twist, who were voted best restaurant in 2016 in Vancouver. Again, this meal was AMAZING. 

Maenam

Maenam

We then headed back into the city and stopped at another great coffee shop reccommended to us by Amy @constellationinspiration. Are you noticing a pattern here?! 

The Birds and The Beets @birdsandbeets

The Birds and The Beets @birdsandbeets

And again, it was back to our place before our last dinner in Vancouver. We ate at a place in Chinatown called Bao Bei (@baobei1). It was an upscale Chinese restaurant that had things like potstickers, sticky rice, and pork belly on the menu-all with a little twist. This place was phenomenal. And I wish I had a picture of our food, but I highly recommend it. We then went for drinks afterwards at a bar a few doors down called @thekeeferbar. The bathrooms were super creepy and cool. 

Bathroom at The Keefer Bar

Bathroom at The Keefer Bar

After dinner and drinks, we headed back to our place to get some sleep, since we had to be up at about 4:30am to catch the Amtrak to Seattle. 

When we woke up the next morning, we made sure that we had plenty of time at the Amtrak station – Trying to learn from our previous airport experience. We arrive about an hour before the train departs. We already have our tickets and are waiting in line. They finally start boarding and we get to the counter and that's when more problems arise… *Backstory: Paul recently renewed his visa and didn't have his new card yet since it was being mailed to him. It said in the letter that his old one will act as his current one until the new one comes so he didn't think anything of it.* The woman working immigration told us he was supposed to have this piece of paper and since we didn't we needed to go to a separate room and get verified before being able to get on the train and go back into the U.S. Luckily, after taking finger prints and pictures, they were able to verify Paul. But seriously, talk about a bunch of stress! We made it on the train and finally made it to Seattle 4 hours later, about 10:45 am.

We then headed to our hotel. We stayed at the Kimpton Palladian Hotel (@palladianhotel) on 2nd Ave. I did my research beforehand so I knew I was going to LOVE this place. It's one of those hotel rooms where you really don't ever want to leave. 

Bedside table 

Bedside table 

Angelina Jolie comes with the room

Angelina Jolie comes with the room

View from our hotel window

View from our hotel window

We set our bags down and went to explore @pikeplacepublicmarket

Pike Place Flowers

Pike Place Flowers

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

After our walk and a little exploring, we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We ate at a place called @bateauseattle, which specialized in meat. They had a chalkboard of all the cuts they had on hand and as someone ordered a cut, it would get crossed off the list. It was a very good steak and meal, AND it was connected to two amazing places that we would visit the next day: @gpdoughnuts and @barmelusine. After dinner we headed to @thesmithtower for drinks with our friends, Craig and Todd, before heading over to the Museum of Pop Culture. The Smith Tower costs us $10 to get to the top for drinks, but once we were up there, the view was incredible. You can even walk along the edge of the building for pictures and exhilaration. 

Smith Tower 

Smith Tower 

The next morning, Saturday, we went for a coffee @stumptowncoffee, and then headed over to General Porpoise so that I could grab a donut before we headed to Bar Melusine for Oysters and bubbles. I've never really had a filled donut before that I loved, so this was quite the experience for me. The donut was to die for. I ordered the chocolate marshmallow one and I think I made a good choice.

General Porpoise Doughnuts @gpdoughnuts

General Porpoise Doughnuts @gpdoughnuts

Bar Melusine @barmelusine

Bar Melusine @barmelusine

Bar Melusine

Bar Melusine

Saturday was the night of Paul's Pub Quiz (@geekswhodrink), which is the real reason for this trip in the first place. So after Bar Melusine, we walked around Capital Hill (which ended up being our favorite area and would recommend anyone to stay in this area because there is so much to do, see, eat and drink). We went in some shops, Paul bought some new shoes, we went to a wine bar, and then grabbed a burger at @lilwoodys. I got the 'Stranger Things Burger" which consisted of an Eggo waffle bun, maple cream cheese, grass fed beef, bacon, and creamy peanut butter. Did I just blow your mind???

Lil Woody's Stranger Things Burger

Lil Woody's Stranger Things Burger

We found some really cool graffiti and wall art in Seattle, which is something that I didn't find in Vancouver. This made me happy :)

Paul headed off to his competition with the boys and I met up with Aaleen and Trinity for drinks. I made it back to the hotel before he finished aka I got to hop into bed and watch crappy TV. The next morning was the day we were leaving, but we were able to squeeze in breakfast and one last stop for coffee at @elmcoffeeroasters.

Biscuit Bitch @biscuit_bitch

Biscuit Bitch @biscuit_bitch

Elm Coffee Roasters @elmcoffeeroasters

Elm Coffee Roasters @elmcoffeeroasters

Overall our trip was filled with tons of food, coffee, drinks, and walking. We had such a great time exploring these new places. I think my first impression of Vancouver wasn't as high as everyone seemed to make it, but once being there, eating the food, and exploring, I grew to love it. The food in Vancouver was by far my favorite. Almost every meal was a 10/10. In Seattle we had good food, but some meals weren't 10/10. I do feel like we didn't have enough time in Seattle to give it a chance, so I wouldn't mind going back ;) 

Paul also made a video of our trip! If you haven't seen it already, you should take a look :) 

Thanks for reading! Hope to do another post soon; whether that be an adventure, a recipe, or a collaboration. Stay tuned!

-Halee aka The Gingersnap