Friday, July 27, 2012

Charleston for the weekend

I'm heading back to Charleston this weekend to celebrate my BFF's birthday! We will be heading to Butcher & Bee for a pop-up Vietnamese dinner tonight, which I am so excited for. Tomorrow we've decided to grab drinks and apps at a few different places, starting at FIG. I haven't been to FIG yet, which is crazy because everyone who has been LOVES it! I'm hoping we can make our way to McCrady's, or Husk, or Gin Joint. Basically I'm just really excited to see Lara and her boyfriend, and get into trouble have LOTS of fun!

I hope y'all have a great weekend!


California Adventure: Day 2 (Malibu & Santa Monica)

Our second day in California started quite early because we were still on East Coast time. Come to think of it, we were never really "off" East Coast time....we woke up early every day and stayed up late! That might not have been the best schedule to keep, but we sure packed a lot in!

We walked to a really cute coffee shop right in Culver City before we ventured out for the day. Lilly had to leave pretty early so we spent a little time with Mike before he had to get to work.

After discussing with Mike about what we should do that day, we decided to drive to Malibu and then work our way back to LA. Our first stop was Pepperdine University. One of my best friends from High School wanted to go there, and I always remember her telling us about how unique and gorgeous the campus is. It really was incredible! The school was up a windy hill/canyon and if you get high enough, has fabulous views.

We tried to prop the camera on the car but it's a little wonky. Oops!

After our tour, we needed breakfast. There seemed to be only one restaurant that served breakfast food nearby, and this place was called Lily's Cafe & Pastries. I am a die-hard fan of Yelp reviews, and these did not disappoint. I read that there are not, in fact, any pastries, nor is there coffee. What Lily's does have is breakfast burritos and other Mexican cuisine (tacos, enchiladas, etc). This was such a delicious treat!

With the fiery hot sauce!
 After breakfast, we decided to do a bit more driving around. It was really overcast so not ideal beach weather. We drove up and around Malibu Canyon, and as soon as we drove over one hill, the clouds parted and the sun came out!
I had read somewhere that Pamela Anderson resides in Malibu so, naturally, I wanted to go see her house. Well, I found the address and we were on our way there, and discovered she lives in a gated community right on the beach. Oops! I made a quick U-turn before the security guard could ask what we were doing!

After our tour of Malibu, we stopped for a snack at Malibu Seafood, per Lilly's recommendation. We saw Ray Romano there! He actually was standing inside the tiny hut where you order, and let us go in front of him. He was wearing his sunglasses but was definitely 100% recognizable! Even Connor knew who he was, and he is usually a little clueless about celebs. It was something this country bumpkin was excited over. I love celeb sightings! 

Clam strips were NOT as good as they are in Cape Cod at Seafood Sam's!

After our snack, we drove back to Santa Monica. We parked  at one of the over-priced parking lots and walked to the pier. The weather was clearing up, which was perfect timing!

After a nice stroll around the tourist trap that is the Santa Monica Pier, we stopped to have a {huge} beer while we waited for Mike to join us 
Mike & Lilly used to live in Santa Monica so he was the best tour guide! We walked around the 3rd Street Promenade and grabbed a tiny espresso. This is a running joke in Connor's family. It's always hilarious when big people drink tiny espressos, and pictures must always be taken to document the moment.
Mike even took us to their old apartment complex. They lived so close to everything! After the tour, we decided to grab a rooftop drink at the Hotel Shangri-La. I had a delicious Mojito!

Our view towards Malibu
The pier
The boys

We drove back to Culver City to rest a bit before dinner. We then got ready and walked to Father's Office, an AWESOME craft beer + pairing restaurant. They're famous for their Office Burger, which is on an oval-shaped bun, topped with arugula, deeply caramelized onions, & bleu cheese, and served with a whole mess of shoestring fries. My kinda place, for sure!
The beer list was overwhelming, to say the least. I think I got the Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
We started off with a few appetizers. This was a goat barbacoa. YUM.
And bone marrow with an incredible parsley & caper salad that helped cut the fatty richness.
And here is the famous burger! They don't have ketchup, so don't ask for it! (Apparently it's a "thing")
PERFECTLY cooked! This thing was just incredible. The flavors were so well-balanced. There was definitely a party going on in my mouth.
And because we were on vacation, we stopped at the trendy Cool Haus for dessert that we did not need. They're famous for their ice cream sandwiches, and crazy ice cream flavors.
To wit: brown butter & candied bacon, strawberry mojito sorbet, FRIED CHICKEN & WAFFLES
We played it pretty safe (but I definitely sampled the fried chicken one, it was AWESOME) and got "dirty mint chip" ice cream & sea salted dark chocolate cookie sandwich. What makes it dirty is they put real mint leaves in. I think we each took a couple bites and took the rest home!

We sure packed a lot in on our second day in CA! I can't wait to share our 3rd day, which included a completely dazzling meal along with another celebrity sighting!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mason Jar Cocktail Shaker!

Hey y'all! I wanted to share with you a wonderful idea from a guy I went to high school with: a Mason Jar Cocktail Shaker! They have come up with the design and prototype, and are using Kickstarter to get funding to get these on the market. I think the idea is brilliant, and was happy to back the project! There are different price points to pledging, so you can find one that suits your wallet! Most of the levels include at least one of these awesome Shakers when they're done, so you'll get a first run with your pledge! I paid through Amazon, and it was super simple. If you're interested, please click

From their website: "Hi, we’re Josh and Eric, two Virginia boys living in New York who have mixed together our love of fine cocktails and classic Southern style into one unique product: the Mason Shaker®. The concept for the Mason Shaker® was developed from of an obsession with vintage kitchenware (Josh) and an uncanny ability to fashion impromptu drinking tools at a moment’s notice (Eric). After one too many mint juleps poured from a poorly-modified Mason Jar one summer, the idea for a better (and cooler) cocktail shaker hit us like a double shot of whiskey. The Mason Shaker® was born."
The Mason Shaker

California Adventure: Day 1 (LA)

Connor & I have been planning this trip for a few months, and we were so excited that it was finally time to go! The main reason why we were heading to California was to go to a friend's wedding in Santa Barbara on Saturday. We decided to extend the trip a few extra days around the 4th of July, making it a true vacation. We had such an amazing time!

We got up bright and early on the actual 4th, and flew from CLT --> LAX. We got in around 10AM, picked up our rental car, and headed to Culver City where our friends (Mike & Lilly from Law School) live. Culver City is in the heart of LA, and is such a charming part of town. They live in a little neighborhood with palm trees and amazing houses with really cool architecture.
Lilly was already at her parent's house in Claremont (about an hour away), and we were heading over there after we dropped our stuff at their house, but our first need was TACOS. Luckily, there is a FAB taco place right in their neighborhood called Pinches Tacos.
For those of you who don't speak Spanish Slang, it means "effing tacos". Kind of hilarious. Connor & I were absolutely famished as we only packed a few granola bars and some trailmix, and being about 2:00 PM Eastern time it was LUNCH TIME. We ordered 3 tacos: Cactus, Asada, & Tongue. Yes, tongue. The Tongue taco was by far the BEST. Seriously though, I am now a devoted fan of tongue.

Isn't this place amazing? I loved the decor, and the really simple feel. The tortillas were all hand made right in front of us, and everything was just SO SO fresh! There's a location in Santa Monica as well, so make sure you stop by next time you're in LA!

After tacos, we headed out to Claremont. Lilly's sister, husband, and kids were visiting for the week so we had a really wonderful time getting to know her family. They were such gracious hosts!

They live in a canyon, and here is their view EVERY DAY:
 Seriously? Can I move in? Their house was absolutely beautiful! Oh, did I mention they have an INFINITY POOL??!??!?!?!?
 AND an infinity hot tub? OK.
 Loving life

After lots of pool time, we dried off and headed into the actual town of Claremont for the 4th of July parade. We went to one of Lilly's parent's friends houses, where we had front-row seats! She had watermelon popsicles to snack on while we watched the parade. It was so much fun! Lots of old cars, kids dancing, music, and floats!
 After the parade, we headed back to her parent's house. Oh, you wanted to see our view one more time? OK.
 While we were cooking dinner, Lilly's youngest nephew had lots of fun on his bike. He is the CUTEST. And I had fun taking pictures of him.
 Our dinner set-up
 We had ribs, burgers, & dogs. Can't get more 'Murikan than that.
Our sides: Tater salad, slaw, couscous salad, haricot verts, & fruit salad.

We had such a nice time with her family, and seeing a part of Cali that was just so incredibly beautiful.

On our drive back to Culver City, we were treated to the best fireworks show EVER. We left around 9 and saw every single firework over LA from the highway. Some small fireworks were set off in neighborhoods right over the highway, and others we could see in the distance. We saw hundreds of them! It was INCREDIBLE!

After we got back, we went right to sleep to get ready for Day 2, our first real day in LA!