Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Lake Arrowhead & Big Bear Family Weekend

We wanted to have a chance to connect and getaway as a family in the mountains. For us, majestic trees, fresh air and beautiful views in every direction calm our souls and allow us to reassess what's important.  We felt the pines were calling us so we booked a house for a weekend of fun and relaxation.

We began our weekend by driving to Big Bear on Friday morning.  We were blessed with moving freeways and made good time up the mountain. Along the way we spotted a young deer, so cool!

We stopped for lunch at Get A Burger, recommended by Steffen's good friend. (Super cute place!)  This burger spot serves great food in a relaxed retro atmosphere.

With full tummies we visited the Big Bear Discovery Center.  We took some fun pictures and checked out what the center had to offer.  
(A few animal displays, map/trails and coloring pages) 

 The hubs wanted to take a road less travelled for for a photo opportunity.  So we went off road to get a picture above Big Bear Lake.  Can you see it behind us?

After finding a good picture spot we visited the Alpine Runs and Village Candy Store.  

The town was quiet and I literally felt my body relax.  The gelato helped too!

On the way to Lake Arrowhead the kids and I sang "Down By The Bay," told jokes and created storylines about Muppet characters.  It was great, really great!

I soaked in the the beauty of the trees and forgot about our fast paced scheduled lives.  I was in the moment.
Our chalet was located just around the corner from Lake Arrowhead Village. Yes, it was a great location.  We settled in and spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing!
 For dinner we stepped out for Mexican food and walked the Village.  We were able to meet up with a dear friend of my mom's at dinner.  We chatted and ate many baskets of chips! The trio really liked the ballon man who made each of them an animal. (cat, jaguar and elephant) At the edge of the Village they had a few things for the kids to do. Our group opted for the bumper cars.  Lots of giggles and big smiles were had there.

Our evening ended with snuggles on the deck and quiet time among the trees. So cute, huh?
Our family woke up on good spirits and ready to eat. We hit the waffle house for breakfast.  I was so busy cutting up food that I missed a photo opportunity.  Our waffles hit the spot and provided us fuel for exploring around the lake. We visited the market, found some small strands of beach and visited the local resort and spa (must return without the littles).  The boys went back to the chalet and we girls did a little shopping.

In the afternoon we set out for a nature walk.  The trio marveled at rocks, acorns and pine cones.  The quest for a prefect walking stick entertained them well.  It was warm but occasionally the wind would blow through offering relief. A little ping pong and more time just hanging out together took up the remainder of our second day.

Dad made his famous Korean ribs for dinner.  Isabella was in heaven.  The air smelled incredible and we all ate our fair share.  Dinner was followed by Drumsticks and kicking back with Elvis playing in the background. We tucked in the littles and the guys settled in for Netflix watching.  Mom and I sat for hours just talking without any interruption. Perfection!

Our last morning included sweet treats and bacon for breakfast. A quick cabin clean up and packing rounded out the morning.  We met on the deck for a final group picture.

Our weekend went fast but it was savored! A BIG thank you to my parents for a wonderful weekend.
We accomplished exactly what we had hoped.  Our family slowed down and connected. Together we recharged and strengthened our bonds! In many ways big and small, the weekend was a gift to ourselves, I loved it.
Memories are made of this!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Trader Joe's Peach Dump Cake

On a recent trip to Trader Joe's there was an end cap with a display featuring Peach Dump Cake.  I wasn't able to pass by without buying the ingredients.  I made it with Isabella and it couldn't have been easier! It's a perfect dessert for a cool summer night.

1 box Trader Joe's Vanilla Baking Mix
1 Jar of Trader Joe's Peaches
1 stick butter
1/4 c pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Use 8x8 baking dish, pour peaches and juice into dish, layer baking mix on top of peaches, sprinkle with pecans, dot with butter crumbles

Place in oven for 40 minutes
Allow to set and cool 20 minutes before serving
Serve warm with Trader Joe's Vanilla Ice Cream

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

San Francisco Getaway

With our ten year wedding anniversary creeping up, I seized the moment and booked a weekend in San Francisco.  Truth is we have been aching for a getaway for years.  You know how it is, schedules, children and obligations have a way of taking over your life.  However,  my mom graciously volunteered to look after the trio so we put everything else on hold and made US a priority.  I am so glad we did!

We stayed at The Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill.  What a lovely place.  The staff was professional and friendly, really beyond our expectations.  We enjoyed having drinks in The Tonga Room while listening to a band play hits of the 70's...the rainstorm and ambience was fun.  A step back in time.  Our room was comfortable and nicely appointed. We also had a delicious leisurely breakfast in an elegant dining area. Our server was friendly and antcipated our needs.  I would happily recommend this hotel to others and look forward to returning.

The Hubs and I agreed to rise early to take in the sights of the city.  We were out and about tackling hills with powered up iPhones and apps loaded!  One of our first stops was the cathedral on Nob Hill. As luck would have it, we stepped into Grace Catherdral moments before a choir began singing.  It was magical.  After offering prayers we admired the beauty in our surroundings, especially all of the stained glass.  Grace Cathedral leaves a lasting impression, the murals, labyrinths, organs and glass have a majestic feel like the cathedrals in Europe.

I did a little research on restaurants prior to arrival.  I LOVED Olea.  By far one of the best breakfast I have EVER had. We opted for the French pressed coffee and corn cake eggs and split a half order of the french toast. Delicious! Be prepared, there will be a line. Come early and hungry.  We also ate at Mymy known for speciality pancakes and eggs benedict.  The Hubs was swooning over the banana blueberry pancakes, a favorite for many yelp reviewers too!  Both restaurants are close to The Fairmont Hotel, just down the hill on California St.

Since San Francisco offers the oldest Chinatown in America, we made a visit.  The town itself is made up of several blocks of stores, markets and reseraunts.  I especially liked checking out the market.  The people in there were buying so many unusual things and the energy in the store was amped up!  Check out the photos of the turtles and frogs. No they aren't pets, they're  going to be dinner!  We took a walking tour and learned a bit about Chinese culture and stepped into a few business and ended our tour with a dim sum lunch. I found the Memorial Wall in the Temple moving.  The Chinese medicine shop sold Forever Young soup at just $6.50; it would be a big seller here in the OC!
Grant St. offered a lot of shopping for tourists seeking Chinese trinkets and dish ware. We purchased a traditional tea set and Chinese pajamas for the littles.

After our tour we walked the city.  It was fun exploring on our own.  We managed to cover all of Little Italy and took a staircase with a promise of a view!  After a time out for cafe au lait and tarts, we walked all the way to Pier 39.  Grateful to the Hubs for carrying my Chinatown purchases!

As for dinners we enjoyed E Tuto Qua! in Little Italy recommended to us for fresh pasta. We started with seared scallops in an incredible sauce; yummers! I had a spinach pasta with pancetta and peas in a cream sauce as my entree, rich and filling! No room for dessert.

We also ate at Burritt Room & Tavern  in the Financial District.  That evening I gave up on my hair and embraced San Francisco's damp May gray weather and it's effects on my hair.  What a gem!  A trio of musicians played and we sipped on drinks and ate incredible small bites.  I tried a cocktail that tasted liked grilled peaches.  Whoa, so good!  The food here was off the charts!   WE loved this place.   The Hubs even asked me to dance! I know, so cool.  Dessert was decadent. Wish I could have just one more bite of the pistachio sponge cake, fantastic.  Can't rave enough about this spot!

Speaking of great food, we stopped by The Ferry Building to check out the farmers market and shops.   The area was buzzing with activity. Gorgeous produce and specialty foods were displayed for purchase.  We sampled a few items and stepped into an eatery for some pizza because the aroma was intoxicating.  Yep, it tasted as good as it smelled too!
No trip to San Francisco would be complete without visiting Alcatraz, right?  We took the ferry over on our last afternoon in the city.  The audio tour is really well done.  You've seen movies and documentaries, I'm sure, but seeing it for yourself is extraordinary.

Can't wait to come back to this city.
We had a spectacular getaway. 
 And it is safe to say, we left a bit of our hearts in San Francisco!