lifestyle

SEDONA: A WEEKEND GETAWAY

Sedona 6sedona is one of my favorite places to visit, as i’ve mentioned here, here and here. it’s just close enough for a quick weekend trip, yet far enough to escape the city life in los angeles.

{i originally wrote this post a year ago and never got around to actually putting it up on the blog…why? because sometimes life happens and you move on to different things BUT since it’s now a year later, on memorial day weekend, i decided why not post it?? it’s like a weird full circle moment. a lot has changed since the last time we were in sedona, more on that in another post.}

this memorial day weekend i spent most of my time reading and soaking up some vitamin d in santa monica. as i’m typing this, courtney and leo are flying back from england…i’m waiting to pick them up from the airport and trying to distract myself from the excitement that i will soon be reunited with my two favorite people…it’s been a long two weeks. aaannywaaayy, last time we were all in sedona was to visit the newest member of our family; squirt the mini horse. for a long time, leo was the newest member of the family- taking in all the love, attention and glory… not sure how he’s been coping with the fact that squirt has stolen his thunder, but i mean look at this horse! he’s stolen all of our hearts!Sedona 7Sedona 5on our way back to the house, we stopped by the mcguireville annual tractor and engine show. each year the town hosts this show over memorial day weekend putting all their tractors on display. we didn’t stay long, not that there wasn’t much to see but if we stayed any longer, we would’ve melted into the asphalt… so we went to the creek to cool off.Biker

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before our long weekend came to and end, we had to make one last visit to see squirt. we just couldn’t get enough of him! after saying goodbye to the little guy, we headed back to the house for a bonfire, cake and some tunes. god, i love sedona.

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TRADITIONS & TEA

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this past sunday i posted a picture of myself and my two dearest friends and captioned it “18 years and counting”. 18 YEARS! 18 years of friendship, laughter and some embarrassing stories… but 18 years of life together. i don’t know if it’s because of oprah’s golden globes speech or because it’s my time of the month (not sorry) but 18 years is giving me ALL the feels…feeling extremely grateful in particular.

every year during the holidays we get together to exchange gifts, it’s been our tradition for as long as i can remember. each year is a little different but more or less the same. we’re tasked with trying to chat, open presents and consume all the cheese and wine within a respectable amount of time. this year was particularly different… it was the last year with just us three. next year will be momma kenna, auntie taylor, auntie kenzie and baby easton! i have spent a lot of time with these two over the years; with their families, in their home and both of them in mine and i can’t believe all of the things that we’ve done together but i especially can’t wait for all that we will do in the future. xx

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something i get from my mom is her love of wrapping and decorating… and her freckles. sometimes i forget that people need to be able to open their presents rather than just stare at my beautiful creation. bless kenna and her patience, this bow was no easy feat.

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the night before our get together, i was at disneyland with the fam and saw this adorable “baby’s first christmas” ornament. i had to get it for momma kenna.

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THE LAST LADY DATE OF THE YEAR

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last post of 2017! what better way to end this year than with my ladies. man, lady dates are good for the sooouuul! earlier in the week, i went out with my sister and my museum buddy to spend the day downtown. first up was yayoi kusama’s exhibit at the broad. somehow by the luck of the draw we got tickets to this amazing exhibition… 4 months of anticipation and we finally were able to see yayoi’s amazing work.

after the museum we walked over to the grand central market to eat ALL the yummy food. we ate at the sari sari store where courtney and i reconnected with our filipino side. it was the second best adobo i’ve ever had…first being my grandma’s and nothing can ever top that. dessert was served at valerie’s where dana and i shared a coffee crunch cake with honeycomb all over the icing and we nearly died. it was the best last lady date of 2017!

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on our way to the grand central market, we stumbled upon the angels flight railway and hopped on. this is where we cried when we had to walk up all the stairs on our way back to our car. good times…good times.

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RECIPE: MIXED BERRY PIE

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the best way to spread christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear by baking PIE. okay… to each their own but for me, nothing says “merry christmas” quite like a homemade pie baked with lots of love.

meet taylor- yoga instructor, pie baker and best friend of mine for 19 years and counting. for tay, it all started one night at home watching the food network. she was looking for something to cheer her up and decided to bake using whatever ingredients she had available in her pantry… and that’s when the mixed berry pie was born, bringing a happy tear to every pie lover’s eye. she brought the pie to work to share with her coworkers and they LOVED it. so much so that folks requested her pies for their party, their sister’s baby shower and for their thanksgiving. she sold 15 pies for thanksgiving! this pie is no joke. we’re sharing her recipe below but if you want one made special with her love and magic touch, you can message her here!

dough:

  • 1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup of butter, chilled and diced
  • 1/4 cup of ice cold water

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in a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, one teaspoon at a time until a ball forms. Toll out to fit 9-in plate. set in the refrigerator until filling is ready.

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with the remaining dough, gather and roll out to create your own personalized stamp on your pie. IE 11

filling:

  • 2-3 cups of frozen berry medley mix
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla

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heat berry mix in a sauce pan on medium heat. in a separate bowl, mix together; sugar, flour, eggs, sour cream, vanilla until completely smooth. in another small bowl, combine brown sugar, sugar, flour, cinnamon.

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pour berries into the dough lined pie dish. pour custard on top of the berries. sprinkle the sugar and flour mixture on top and lightly mix with fork.

set oven to 350 degrees and let the pie bake for 40 min or until edges are golden brown.PIE 31

pie 28me waiting for the timer to go off…nikki keeping it real.PIE 12PIE 26

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ALMOND BUTTER ACAI BOWL

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ingredients:

  • 1 packet of frozen acai mix
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 2 bananas- 1 for topping
  • 2 tablespoons of almond butter
  • 2 cups of frozen strawberries, blueberries and kale
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • granola
  • fresh strawberries, blueberries and blackberries for topping

ACAI 1there really isn’t much to this recipe. run hot water over the frozen acai packet and then squeeze into the blender. add in the frozen berries, kale, banana, almond milk and honey. once blended, i taste to see if it needs more of anything. this time around i added some fresh strawberries to the mix for more sweetness.ACAI 9i think i would skip the blueberry topping next time. it’s not their fault, i just don’t like little balls in my food. it took some time for me to even like the idea of boba….ACAI 4ACAI 10

HABANERO PEACH JAM

JAM 1my love for habanero peach jam all began after i had visited my friend in italy. she had made a batch before i arrived and it’s ALL I COULD EAT while i was there. i had to make this jam when i got back to the states. i attempted the recipe three times before having any success… yeah, it’s THAT good aaaannnddd i’m not a quitter. during one of those attempts i fell asleep (jet lag) while letting the jam sit so i’ll take responsibility for that but the other two attempts i’ll just blame mercury being in retrograde. this time around, i brought in the big guns… my sister and she didn’t disappoint! we made a successful batch of habanero peach jam! you can get the full recipe here.

ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 pint jars
  • 1 lb 5 oz peeled and pitted peaches
  • 2 habanero peppers
  • 1 lb 5 oz sugar
  • 1 lemon

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JAM 10peel and slice your peaches over a bowl to catch the juices. weigh the peaches, then weigh the sugar to the same amount. finely mince the habanero peppers, seeds and all. (wear gloves! especially if you wear contacts, i made that mistake the first time, you live and you learn right?!)JAM 14JAM 13put the peaches, sugar, habanero peppers and lemon juice in a large heavy bottomed pot. stir to combine everything and mash the peaches a bit with a large wooden spoon or potato masher. let sit for an hour. JAM 16JAM 11

bring the mixture to a boil. boil for approximately 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently. it will foam up for most of the time and eventually when the jam is nearly ready, the foam will die down. check to see if jam is ready by dropping a small amount on a very cold plate. JAM 24when it is ready it will jell as it cools on the plate. when you are satisfied with the jelling, ladle the hot jam into clean jars, almost filling to the top. screw on the lids, but not too tightly and immediately set the jars upside down. let the jars cool and then turn them right side up, refrigerate and enjoy!JAM 20JAM 19

IT’S A BOY!

ITS A BOY 31yesterday, one of my best friends and her fiance found out the sex of their baby. everyone met up at the ” soon to be grandparents’ ” house, all dressed in pink or blue and headed down to the park for the big reveal. surrounded by friends and family, we all jumped with joy at the news of a BABY BOY! couldn’t be happier for this growing family and their newest member…auntie kenzie loves you so much already! xxITS A BOY 43

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DAY TRIP: SANTA YNEZ VALLEY

Solvang 10this past saturday my sister, brother-in-law and i took a day trip to santa ynez to see the lavender fields. courtney and i had seen pictures of the fields online and knew we had to see it in person. online the field was described as a place where you can roam, explore and even have a picnic- we didn’t pack a picnic but we did pack all of my cameras. as our gps kept telling us we were getting closer, we all were on the lookout to get the first glimpse at those luscious fields of lavender. “your destination is on the left.” we pulled up and realized our fate…DON’T TRUST THE INTERNET. we got out of the car to get a closer look because surely this couldn’t be the place but it was. we were experiencing the “expectation vs. reality” in real life. maybe the field was having an off day…or year, but we couldn’t help but laugh about the whole thing. maybe it was the two and half hour drive that had us a little delusional but we just couldn’t stop laughing. we did get to see some lavender, the dirt to lavender ratio was much higher but at least we can say we saw some lavender!DSC06156with our time at the lavender field cut short we decided to explore the santa ynez valley and check out the danish town, solvang. we loved going in and out of all the shops and restaurants… we may have consumed too many sweets but you can’t go to a danish town and not have aebleskivers!Solvang 5

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SUNDAY FUNDAY

EDIT sometimes the best plans are the ones you didn’t actually plan for. on sunday a friend asked if i wanted to go to the 14th factory before it leaves los angeles for good. i spend a lot of my weekends in orange county visiting my parents (and their dogs) so she was shocked when i actually said yes. look at me being spontaneous!

on our way to the museum, gps couldn’t get a word in edgewise (we like to talk… a lot) and we passed the museum on our first go but once we turned back around we snagged a spot right in front! the parking gods must have been looking out for us and my excitement about this is 100% warranted because in los angeles, if you find a spot on the street where you don’t have to walk a mile to your destination, that’s considered a blessing. we both took it as a sign that our last minute plans were meant to be…and so began kenzie and dana’s DAY. OF. FUN! 14th factory museum

14th factory art museum installation Stanley Kubrickart paintings 14th factory los angeles museumSunday 32EDIT 1Sunday 28

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Sunday 18Sunday 16Sunday 11after the museum we went to salazar’s for lunch. our stars really were aligned because we found ANOTHER amazing spot right in front. i’m not kidding, i felt like i needed to test my luck and buy a lottery ticket.

okay. i’ll stop talking about parking now and get to the good stuff…the food. i had the vegetable tacos with grilled cauliflower, carrots, roasted fennel and pickled ramps (my mouth is watering as i write this post) and dana had the chilaquiles. by the end of our meal, we were sat in our chairs trying to collect ourselves after graciously devouring our food. no regrets. NEW EDIT

Sunday 5being friends with dana is like a blessing and a curse…most of the time it’s a huge blessing but my god does this woman know her food! if we keep hanging out like this, i’m going to have to join a gym (which she’s been trying to get me to do since we met. sorry, but i don’t like sweating with strangers).

after lunch we went to wanderlust creamery (still debating if this one’s a blessing or a curse). famous for their artisanal flavors (sticky rice and mango, kinder bueno, ube malted crunch), we tasted almost every one they had, they even had flavors inspired by game of thr(c)ones. i couldn’t think of a better way to get me in the mood for sunday’s episode so i had the “dragon’s blood” and “winter is coming”. Sunday 2

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AN ITALIAN WEDDING

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it was only in september when i was last in cortona visiting hannah and luca for the first time. fast forward 9 months and i’m back in cortona with my brother for their wedding…their WEDDING! this was cody’s first time in cortona (in italy actually) and i couldn’t wait to show him all the things that made me fall in love with this little town. i didn’t need to do much selling, cortona pretty much sells itself. between the wedding, sight seeing and pasta eating, i think he fell hard for it too.

cody and i flew into rome pretty early and couldn’t check in to our hotel until 2pm soooo we freshened up in the lobby bathroom (thank god for l’ocittane’s verbena refreshing towelettes) and began our first day in rome at 7:00 in the morning! (i think this is what they call making lemonade out of life’s lemons). first up? the spanish steps…cody was eager to run to the top and take in the view… i was eager to run from the sun and keep the awkward jumpsuit tan at bay (spoiler alert, i still got an awkward tan).IMG_0251

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after a full day in the city, we were ready to check in to our hotel room and get some rest. with a nice shower and a belly full of pasta (i promise to show all the food pictures), it only took me about 3 seconds to fall asleep. i think i might take this secret back with me to the states and use it as my bed time remedy…

one train ride later aannnddd we made it to cortona! we went out to explore the town before dinner and ran into some familiar faces in the piazza; the bridal party, some wedding guests and even the bride and groom! i love small towns.IMG_0343

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there was a market in the center of town over the weekend, so we spent our morning browsing all the vendors. with a lot of self convincing (and cody’s reply of “you don’t need that.” to my “but it’s itaaaalian!”) i managed to not buy a thing! it was hard….like really hard. after we walked through the market, we caught the train to florence to check out the uffizi museum and stop for lunch at my favorite sandwich spot. hannah took me to this place last time i visited and i couldn’t wait to take cody. he’s only heard me talk about it every day since we got into italy.

it’s wedding time!!! i’m so happy to have made the journey to witness these two share their love for each other. the ceremony was translated in english and italian and took place overlooking the beautiful province of arezzo. the day couldn’t be any more perfect. salute to the happy couple!

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FullSizeRender 28the day after the wedding, we went over to the house where hannah’s family was staying and hung out poolside with the newlyweds. it was the perfect way to spend our last day in cortona.IMG_0759IMG_0726

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cody and i left for rome the next morning. this time around, we took a pretty relaxed approach to the city. we spent the time we had left in italy as laid back as we possibly could… wake up. eat pasta. roam the streets (pun intended). eat gelato. roam some more. repeat. we walked through the villa borghese gardens, found a bench and sat there for a couple of hours. there was a light breeze that day, i think i could’ve listened to the trees sway back and forth forever.IMG_1387

 

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