Sunday, July 31, 2011

Booze 'n Bread

Soft Baked Pretzels and Beer Battered Garlic Mashed Potato Bites. Yup.

Carb lovers unite! If carbs are your thing (they are mine!) you'd have loved our weekend. 
I'll explain. 

We kicked off Friday night with dinner at the Karl Strauss Brewery (yep... again). Actually it wasn't dinner, it was just happy hour appetizers and beer, but oh so worth it, and cheap!
Kind of. 
Luckily for me, the raspberry syrup, deliciously crisp and refreshing beer I absolutely love (the one that tastes like champagne!) was still on tap. WINNING.
Didn't do much else... it was nice to just spend some time with the gorgeous weather.

Saturday we traveled to Escondido to tour the Stone Brewing Company, a microbrewery. I enjoyed the architecture and amazing appetizers (again) a heck of a lot more than I enjoyed the beer. I'm just not into, as Spencer put it, Slap-You-In-The-Face kind of beers. 
Because that's what I felt like after drinking them... 
and that's just rude.

We got there pretty early, so we parked it at the bar to pre-sample the booze and appetizers. Foolishly thinking that I would get something nice and crisp, I ordered their signature pale ale. I remembered something as soon as I took my first sip.

I hate pale ale. 

Not wanting to look like a wuss, I sipped it down. I discovered the best technique to be holding my breath while drinking as quickly as possible, then swallowing and waiting to endure the pain. Yeah I said it... pain! This thing was spicy, and malty, and tasted like it was spiked with Wild Turkey whiskey. Spencer rather enjoyed his, which made me as bitter as my beer tasted. 

But then, oh glorious day! The soft baked pretzels with cheddar cheese and stone ground mustard dipping sauce AND beer battered fried mashed potato bites arrived. I mean... just scroll back up and look at that picture. 
 I will not drink their beer again, but I will eat their food again. Just saying.

Of course with Spencer and I planning the day, nothing can go quite to plan. About 10 minutes until the tour was scheduled to begin, we stood in a very long line forming at the door of the gift shop. One of the girls behind us asked "is this the line for the 4 o'clock tour?". Seeing as it was only minutes before our 1 o'clock tour was set to start, we said "oh no, this is for the next scheduled tour." Wrong. She was correct. The line was for a tour that wasn't scheduled to begin for another 3 hours.
We were in the wrong line. Strike one.
We then ventured into the gift shop, where we saw several other people in a semi-formed line. Great! Minutes later, we see a bus pull up outside that clearly states "BREWERY TOUR" on the side. Everyone started sauntering out to the bus, so we followed. After a few minutes of hesitating, we climbed aboard and sat in the front two seats. We were then quickly ushered out by the bus driver telling us "you're on the wrong tour, folks!". 
Strike Two. 
We got back inside to realize that our tour had just left. Luckily, one of the gift shop employees led us back to where the rest of our group was beginning the tour. 
From here, we learned how beer was made, bottled, and finally we were able to sample four of the local brews. What was the first one they served? The signature Pale Ale. 
Strike Three. 
Spencer liked the majority of them, so I would just take a sip of his here and there.
Side Note: This brand of beer is sold in Texas. If you like hoppy, malty, spicy beers... you'd love their selection. 
If you like crisp, light, refreshing beer flavored water (like me), these are not for you. 

After getting on the wrong bus. No big deal.

Getting the grand tour.

Caught me learning.

The very unfortunate thing about the whole day was this: I got a hangover.
I would have taken this much better had I actually enjoyed myself, or been able to say that I felt at all altered, but I felt nothing! So unfair.
In fact, this wasn't just any hangover. It was probably the most grueling three hours in the history of hangovers! Head pounding, bright lights, noisy people... it was a migraine gone south. Spencer had to retrieve aspirin for me. It was so bad that I missed a trip to In-N-Out Burger for dinner.

This thing was no joke.

Fortunately, it subsided after a few hours and I returned to normal functioning. Well, as normal as I can be.

Sunday has been another fabulously lazy day. We went to see Horrible Bosses in Vista. I gave it 3 stars, but Spencer wasn't too impressed. It was a good laugh.

Oh, and we organized the fridge. Diet Coke addict? I don't think so...
Psssh... how dare someone steal one and offset the whole photo!?

Nerds of the Year Award


Don't forget, voting closes at midnight tonight (PST) for the Wine Lovers Giveaway! I've had quite a few votes come in, so good luck to you all! I will post the winner in the morning.

I have also been informed that posting comments on my blog has posed some challenges. My apologies for this, and I will try and get it all squared away ASAP.

Have a lovely week.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Giveaway: Wine Lovers!

Image courtesy of Google Images

Happy Hump Day, everyone!

I'm hosting my first giveaway today! It will probably be most appealing to the folks living in Austin and the surrounding areas, but I promise that any more I have in the future will be fair game to all. 

Try as I might, when I left Austin I didn't quite get to use up all of my Groupon or Living Social deals. That means I have a couple left to share with you guys! I will share one with you now, and one in the coming weeks, so be on the lookout.

The first deal I have to share is a Wine Education Course for Two at the Wimberley Valley Winery in Driftwood, Texas. (Driftwood is right near where Salt Lick BBQ is located.) 
The course is a $50 value, and can be taken on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. There will be a wine pairing at the end of the course.
Here are the details: 


Wine Education Course for Two
Wimberley Valley Winery
Driftwood, Texas

It's okay if you don't know your Syrah from Shiraz (they're the same) or Tocai from Tokay (they're different). But if you hunger to cultivate your knowledge of wine, pick today's deal for a Wine Education Class for two at Wimberley Valley Winery in Driftwood. This class is geared toward beginners who want to take their first step toward becoming experienced wine drinkers, and includes two wine glasses, a corkscrew, and food pairing. You'll be ripe with knowledge as these wine professionals teach you how wine is made, how to taste wine, how to select the right wine at the store, and how to pair wine with food. With this deal, you can navigate any restaurant wine list, dinner party, or grocery aisle with ease, confident in your good taste.

The Fine Print: 
Limit 1 per person, additional as gifts • Limit 1 per person per visit • Reservations required and subject to availability • Merchant cancellation/re-scheduling policy of 24 hours applies; voucher subject to forfeiture • Voucher is valid for Education Class, not a wine tasting; does not include alcohol • Customers may purchase alcohol or tastings at full price from merchant • Promotional value expires on September 13, 2011

Visit their Facebook Page.

I bought this deal so that my mom and I could share it, but we didn't have the opportunity before I left. The deal expires on September 13, 2011 and we both decided that since we couldn't share it together, we wanted it to go to someone who could!

To enter is simple. 

Just leave a comment on this blog, send me an e-mail, Tweet me (#afairlie), or send me a Facebook message and let me know that you want it! 

You can do one, or all of the above for a total of 4 entries.

I will combine all of the entries and randomly select one.

Voting ends this Sunday (July 31, 2011) at 12:00 AM PST. 

Good Luck!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kitchen(ette) Woes

Image from My Life as a Mrs.

I would love nothing more than to take credit for the above picture. 

In case you're wondering what it is, it's sweet potato crusted fish with cilantro lime vinaigrette. I know... ridiculous, right? Just look at that delightfully colorful beauty of a meal! 
Unfortunately, this is not my creation. This is from the culinary mind of Tina at My Life as a Mrs. Check out her blog! She is a genius in the kitchen, and bonus! She posts her recipes (with pictures!) Score. 

 Tina can not take credit for the mess I made in the kitchen tonight, trying to re-create her dish. That was allllllllll me. Unfortunately. 

I'm not exactly working in ideal conditions in the ol' hotel kitchenette. The equipment is limited, as are utensils and ingredients. I was destined to fail from the beginning. 

At least that's what I'm telling myself. 

Anyway, after a failed attempt to try my hand at cooking tonight, I was about to throw in the towel when I remembered... we have a quesadilla maker now! 

Best. Invention. Ever.

Oh yeah. Remember our little adventure the other night? Turns out, had we just driven up the road to the Target in Vista, they had not one, not two, but FIVE quesadilla makers on the shelves. What are the odds? 

I decided to experiment a little (in an effort to redeem myself and act like I had a "Plan B" all along) and use some of the leftover shredded sweet potatoes in a quesadilla combined with some black beans, jalapenos, Monterrey Jack and cheddar cheese.

That was the second best idea I had all night, aside from tossing the sweet potato fish mess. 

Oh yeah.

Best served with sour cream... and beer.

Look at that little plate of perfectly cooked 'dillas (thanks, Q-maker!) If anyone likes sweet potatoes as much as myself (which is a LOT, btw) I would highly recommend you trying this little recipe concoction. Would I lead you astray? Not when it's food-related!

I never joke about food. 

Here's what I did. 

Shredded Sweet Potato (about 1/2 cup)
Black Beans, rinsed and drained (about 1/3 cup)
Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese blend (or whichever your preference!)

Start by cooking the sweet potato (hash brown style) in a small skillet, coated with non-stick cooking spray. Make sure the bottom is nice and crispy before flipping, and let the other side get a good crisp on it as well. Using a spatula, lightly break up the hash brown. Remove from heat.

Heat a separate, midsized skillet on medium heat. Lightly butter one side tortillas, and place one tortilla butter side down on the skillet. Spoon beans, jalapenos, cheeses, and hash brown pieces on top, and cover with additional tortilla (butter side up). 

 Let cook for approximately 2-3 minutes, or until cheese starts to melt and underside of tortilla is golden brown. Gently flip quesadilla, taking care that filling does not spill out from the sides. Let the opposite side cook until golden brown, and carefully use spatula to remove from skillet. Cut into triangles and enjoy with a dollop of sour cream. Yum!


For the record, I fully intend to try the sweet potato crusted fish with cilantro lime vinaigrette once we get moved in to a real kitchen where I have the use of real utensils and not makeshift skillets and fitted lids. 

I know... excuses, excuses :) 


Monday, July 25, 2011

California Made us Do it

Happy Monday, Friends! I hope everyone had a simply wonderful weekend.

We had a lovely one on this side of the coast.

Friday evening, we treated ourselves to dinner at the brewery. No mac-and-cheese for me this time, but I did have a fabulous light, raspberry infused beer. It tasted like champagne! I know that makes every beer-lover cringe. It was even served in a pretty little glass instead of a pilsner. Love.

 Saturday, we had a great lunch at one of Spencer's favorite Mexican food places in Oceanside. We then ventured down the coast a little further into Encinitas, as I was on a mission for a craft store. I haven't crafted a single thing since being in California, and it's time. After I got my fill of craft supplies, we headed into Escondido to see Harry Potter in 3D IMAX. I've never been into the HP series, in fact I remember going to see the first two or three movies and falling asleep in the theater (oops!), but I have to say that I really enjoyed this one. It was pretty easy to get into, I just couldn't understand what made Harry so special. Spencer briefed me on the previous 6 movies on the way back to the hotel, which was great. He attempted to get me to read about it before we left, but I didn't know who Dumbledore, Hermione, or Voldemort was, or if it was even a person? I mean, look at this List of Characters.  

Are you serious?

I'm a Twilight girl. Names like Edward, Jacob, and Bella are about as complicated as it gets. 

Despite there being moments where I had no idea what was happening, I was just glad to be there, and be wearing ridiculous looking yellow glasses with a room full of other adults (only 2 children present). Love it. 

Excited to be here!

Keeping it low-key.

Sunday afternoon, we drove back into Encinitas to do a little window shopping and walk around. Encinitas is in busy season right now, so the sidewalks are full of pedestrians, but nonetheless take away from the cute beach town charm. We love visiting here. Neither of us would mind ending up here, either. We wandered around the Seaside Bazaar, and in and out of a couple of cute shops. 

Downtown shopping!

Newspaper puppy and his water dish at a storefront.

Seaside Bazaar

However, we didn't just window shop. We each made a purchase that I always thought was downright ridiculous. We strolled right into the Birkenstock store (also carrying a wide variety of other shoe brands), and each purchased a pair of Vibram FiveFingers

If you're not familiar with this "shoe", other than the fact that it looks completely ridiculous and like something from another planet, then you and I were in the same boat. However, I learned that the design is supposed to help leverage your body's natural biomechanics, so you have the ease of free motion to move as nature intended, while improving balance and strengthening the muscles in your feet and lower legs. While at first, I believed the benefits of the show for purposes of full range motion, and not being confined to standard shoe requirements, I wasn't so sure I believed the hubbub about improving balance and muscle strength. In actuality, I think it really does work. I have been sore in my back since wearing them, likely because I have been walking with incorrect posture my whole life (that part I believe), and now I am being forced to use more muscles in my foot when I walk. I don't know... maybe it's all still hubbub. I can only contend that... 

California made us do it. 

Vibram FiveFinger shoes

Later that afternoon, we marched our goofy shoes into the grocery store to stock up for the upcoming week. We have been eating out almost every meal for the last two weeks. While I am certainly not complaining about the delicious fare here, I could use a break on the taste buds (and some spice). After returning home with grocery bags full of supplies for quesadilla-making, sweet potato crusted white fish (stay tuned... recipe coming later!) and numerous other whosiwhatsits, we discovered we don't have a skillet to make any said food in. Spencer used this opportunity to his advantage to insist that now was as good of a time as any to invest in that quesadilla-maker he had been wanting. (The poor guy doesn't ask for much. He longingly looks at the quesadilla makers every time we go to Target, and I continually lecture him on the marketing propaganda created by the manufacturer of the product, and why it is a unnecessary purchase for the home.) But... for the first time, I thought this to be a great idea. What ensued is what we lovingly refer to as:

These kinds of things probably only happen to us. 

We innocently started our adventure at the Target in Oceanside. (We live in Carlsbad.) They were out of the product, so we hopped across the street to Bed Bath & Beyond, which we found ourselves to be 'Beyond' store hours because they were closed. We then tried Wal-Mart, which was another fail. By this point, we had taken to using our iPhones to look up stores and determine whether or not the product was in stock at a certain store. There was a Best Buy next door that appeared to carry the product, so we attempted it. Another fail. By this point, we had exhausted our resources for our immediate proximity, so we decided it was worth it to venture out a little further. Spencer used his sleuthful tracking device and found that the Wal-Mart on the other side of Oceanside carried the quesadilla maker AND it was in stock, so with excitement we jumped back in the car and drove across town, only to find that even if they did have it in stock, none of the employees knew where it could be located. Weary and hungry, we decided to try the Kohl's across the street to top off the search before throwing in the towel. Though we found several lookalikes in the form of waffle makers, panini makers, and even a cupcake maker (I want), no quesadilla maker was anywhere in sight. Allegedy, the Target in Vista also had it in stock, but that was another 20 minute drive, then a 30 minute drive back to Carlsbad. It was at this point, we decided it wasn't worth it anymore. 

Upon our return to the hotel, we scrounged up a large pot that would make due for tonight. (We realized that we could have just bought a skillet and ended the whole search, but with each of us owning at least 3 skillets each that are currently packed away in storage, we decided it wasn't worth it.) It seemed like it was all downhill from here. We had our makeshift skillet-pot, we had our ingredients, now it was just a matter of putting two and two together. 

Is it every really that easy? Not when you have us in the kitchen!

Somewhere in my travel weary state, I forgot that you cannot spray cooking butter onto a screaming hot pan unless you want billows of smoke to waft into the air. Thank goodness for whatever reason (probably one very similar to this), the smoke detector in our room is unplugged. We quickly aired out the kitchen, and Spencer told me to toss the pan in the refrigerator (?!?) which alleviated the issue. All of this nonsense aside, the quesadillas weren't bad! Small victories. 

And, that pretty much sums it up! Never a dull moment around here. Also, if it seems like we are driving all across the state and going from city to city, we are and we aren't. We are going from city to city, but the lines are blurred and they all kind of run together after a certain point. Most of the cities we travel through are  beach communities, with populations of anywhere from 50,000 (in Encinitas) to 167,000 (in Oceanside) people. Oceanside houses a lot of Marine Corps families from Camp Pendleton, which contributes to it's population size. 

I will call it a day on that note. Hope you all have a wonderful week! I am now traveling to Vista to try and locate a quesadilla maker. Wish me luck...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pioneering It.

 No, I am not talking about the beloved Pioneer Woman.

Although she is one of my culinary heros, and I would love to share a margarita or two with her, this post is sadly not dedicated to her wonderful endeavors in the kitchen.

Spencer and I are living like modern-day pioneers around here. We are DVR-less, Bravo-less, and oven-less. How ever are we surviving?
With no DVR to record our favorite shows, we are living like it's 2007 around here. We have to actually plan to sit down and watch a program. Unbelievable. Furthermore, even if we did have the blessed ability to record any and everything we wanted, we are still without Bravo. Some of my favorite Housewives (including those just upstate from me!) are out there throwing drinks, tables, and other profanities around and I am left out in the cold world without a clue as to how the Manzo's, Laurita's, Giudice's, or the Gorga's are doing post-family disaster. (I am talking about the Real Housewives of New Jersey here, for those of you who need to "get with the program".)

Let's be honest, I am being dramatic. Kind of.
It's funny how the entire time I lived in Austin, I only baked cupcakes two times. Now that I am completely without an oven, it is all I have been thinking of. Therefore, I had to get creative.

I had to make a cake... in a mug... in the microwave.
Spoiler Alert: It was delicious!
Double Spoiler Alert: It was healthy! (kind of)

You heard it here first. 

Yeah, yeah... I know I said I would keep the food blogging to a minimum. My apologies.  

This delightful, little 3-ingredient 'Cake in a Cup' was moist and delicious and low on the calorie count. See for yourself!

Cake in Cup

The cast of characters.

You will need:
 Boxed Cake Mix (any flavor)
No-Sugar Added Applesauce
Frosting (any flavor)
No-Stick Cooking Spray

Step 1: Spray the inside of a coffee cup with the cooking spray, and measure four tablespoons of the cake mix.

Step 2: Next, add two tablespoons of the applesauce.

Step 3: Using a fork, combine the cake mix and applesauce until just moistened.

Step 4: Microwave on HIGH for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes.

Step 5: Remove from microwave and let cool.

Step 6: Don't be afraid of the way it looks.
This part is crucial... you just have to trust me.

Step 7: After cooling, dollop a bit of frosting on top and enjoy!

If you want to be really good, you can replace the frosting with a dollop of Cool-Whip, Redi-Whip, or even a dusting of powdered sugar. 

Or you can be like me and add a dollop of cream cheese frosting. Welcome to the dark side.

This little bad boy is really yummy and really easy to make. Try it sometime! You won't be sorry.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Going, Going, Gone.

Last night we had a great time at dinner with one of Spencer's colleagues. The boys talked golf, but I didn't mind because I was involved with my Vegetali alla Griglia (a simple, rustic plate of grilled vegetables with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette, served with polenta). 

Have you ever had a grilled tomato? 

Me neither. 

It was utterly fabulous and took on a completely different taste. Try it at your next cookout! Just half a tomato, brush with a little olive oil, and place face down on the grill. You won't be disappointed!

Afterward, we took a stroll down to the beach to watch the sunset. It was only a matter of minutes before the sun had wished us farewell and was on its way to Hawaii (or somewhere... I don't know. I just heard a dad tell that to his little girl, and never having paid attention in geography or astronomy, I believed him.)




Enjoy your Tuesday, everyone!

PS - Geesh, I never realized all of my posts have some kind of food-related undertone to them. I promise to work on this! Spencer and I are totally and admittedly foodies, and love discovering new places through local cuisine. There is so much to do here, and I promise to start taking out my camera on more occasions then when the waiter delivers my dinner entrée.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up

We are coming off the heels of a fabulous weekend! Can't say we did much, but we had a great time. The weekend consisted of more exploring, house hunting, shopping, and eating.
And oh, did we find some good eats! 

Saturday, we started the day with waffles downstairs at the hotel breakfast bar. (OK, this was really more my idea than Spencer's, but I have been waiting all week long for one of these bad boys. Totally worth the wait.)  We spent the better part of the morning shuffling through the crowds at the outlet mall before venturing downtown to Pizza Port for lunch. Though we didn't sample any of the locally brewed beers (yet), we thoroughly enjoyed the pizza. Spencer ordered a massively meat-topped pizza, while I stuck to a cheese-less pie topped with portobello mushrooms and butternut squash. (I was slightly curious about the butternut squash... on a pizza? But it was a winner. That's the chopped pieces resembling corn in the below picture.) 

Portobello and Butternut Squash Pizza... yum. 

The waitress sort of had a hard time understanding why I would want a pizza sans cheese. Aside from the fact that mozzarella cheese kind of makes me feel like a high school band is holding practice in my small intestine sick, I really don't miss it. Plus, trim the fat where you can to save calories for dessert... I always say. We did some walking around and relaxing before a late dinner at Karl Strauss Brewery. Karl Strauss is a microbrewery basically unique to southern California. Great food, great beer. Spencer tried a malty Red Trolley Ale while I nursed a crisp Endless Summer Light. Per the waitress' recommendation (which didn't take much arm twisting for me), I tried the plain Jane mac-and-cheese that was anything but plain. Four cheeses and a baked parmesan topped crust? Holy moly
Spencer went with the Pastrami Chipotle Sandwich, and I heard no compaints on that end of the table either. 

Spencer taste testing


Sunday had a lazy start watching movies and a visit to our favorite west coast fast-food chain for lunch (don't judge us!)


After lunch, we drove into San Diego to scope out some sights we have been wanting to see. We tooled around this part of town before returning back to Carlsbad to do a little house-hunting and exploring downtown. We strolled up and down the streets (in a brisk 75 degrees) before popping in to a little dessert bar to pick up some after dinner treats. 

Be. Jealous. 
(Come visit... and I'll share with you!)

Left to Right: cappuccino truffle,  chocolate dipped toffee,
dark chocolate dipped honeycomb, cookie cup. 

Hope you all had a lovely, relaxing weekend!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Work Hard. Play Hard.

I have it figured out, my friends. It's something I have always known. 

Work Hard. Play Hard. 

Lately though, I am nailing this one down to a science. My mornings consist of job hunting at a fast pace. Sending out resumes, and searching for the next available position. Reaching out to former classmates and colleagues for any leads or contacts within my grasp.

By my very nature, I am a worker. I enjoy working and being a part of a team. I like to learn. I like to create. I like knowing what I am doing will help other people. Design suits me in this way. 

On that same note... 

I am also really good at relaxing. Like, really good. 

That being said, my late afternoons have taken poolside under the palm trees with some essentials... a book, a pair of sunglasses, and always a can of Diet Coke. I know that once work begins, it will be long hours and deadlines all over again. 

In the meantime though... I will soak up all of the sun this pale body can take.

Have a lovely Thursday!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Grilled Cheese and Avocado Smoothies

 image from luvinthemommyhood

Despite the title of this post, it is not paying homage to any hormone induced cravings...

...although I do have quite a number of pregnant friends right now... shout out!

image from badmouth
In fact, it is really more along the lines of some newly discovered culinary favorites. We have now eaten twice at In-and-Out burger, and I have shamelessly ordered the grilled cheese (extra toasty!) sandwich from the not-so-secret menu. (If you have naively been to an In-and-Out Burger before discovering this bad boy... well my friend, you have missed out!) 

Anyway, it's a little bite of calorie-induced heaven with every bite. Trust me. 

image from badmouth

I would also like to tip my hat to In-and-Out Burger for servicing the very rare breed of individual (like myself) who prefer soggy fries to crispy fries. Before you crispy eaters turn up your nose, hear me out! There are options for you, too.  

You can order your fries "light" which means they fries are not cooked as long as the regular, and therefore they have less of a crunch. Mmmm. 

 image from badmouth

Of course you can order your standard run-of-the-mill French fries, but there is one more option to explore. If you enjoy the extra crunch of the overcooked fries, you can also order them "well done". I mean really... what more could you ask for?   


Moving on to the second half of this post... avocado smoothies. Oh, yes ma'am. 

One of the things that caught my eye almost immediately was the number of fresh fruit and vegetable stands around here. They are literally sprinkled around every corner! It's a beautiful thing. 
Anyway, while cruising around this weekend I nearly snapped my neck when we drove past a sign that stated: "Hass Avocados - 25 for $5". 

Do whhhhaaaaaaaaat?!? 

 You read that correctly. 

Apparently, you can toss (almost) anything in the soil around here and something will grow. Excited about this discovery, I immediately started scheming about all of the things I could make with the recession-like prices on these avocados! (Texans, you can understand what a gem of a finding this is.) The truth of the matter is I love avocados. On everything. Sandwiches. Soup.

On the end of a fork.

However, I would not buy them regularly because they were rather expensive in the Lone Star State. My world has changed for the better. While blog stalking earlier this evening, I saw that luvinthemommyhood posted a recipe for these gorgeous avocado smoothies. I cannot wait to whip up a blender full of these lovely summertime treats!

Other than salivating over the local fare, I have been busy with job applications and trying to find my way around without looking too much like a tourist. Hope you all have a wonderful hump day!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day One

Relaxed and refreshed on Sunday morning, we were anxious to get out and explore. We started our day with a sunny morning exploration of the sights in Carlsbad and ended with a late night Mexican dinner among the palm trees. Bliss. Below is a brief rundown of our adventures on our first full day as California residents.

1. Shopping in Carlsbad. Breezy and beautiful outside!

2. First time dining at In-and-Out Burger for lunch. (Probably the greatest grilled cheese sandwich ever created and a Neopolitan shake!? Are you kidding me? Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla all swirled together in one tasty, frozen concoction? Pinch me.)

3. Scenic drive down to Oceanside to take a look at the headquarters.

4. Pit stop at Trader Joe's for ice cream and chile spiced dried pineapple pieces. (I am still trying to decide how I feel about these, and more importantly, how I can incorporate them into my Pineapple Mexican Wedding Cake recipe. Garnish? Folded into the batter? Hmmm... stand by).

5. Late afternoon cruise along the coastline to scope out the beach. (I cannot wait to get my toes in that sand!)

6. Stop at Best Buy to purchase a GPS system, considering neither of us really have a clue where we are most of the time.

7. Delicious sunset dinner at Casa de Bandini in Carlsbad. (And I thought I wouldn't find a $6 margarita anywhere in California!)

Can't wait to see what tomorrow holds :)

The Last 24

Now that the background information has been sufficiently updated, I would like to direct your attention to the 24 hours prior to take off. They were perhaps the longest 24 hours of my life, and might shed some light on why we look like death run over in the previous post...

But first...

Thursday morning, the packers and movers showed up bright and early at 9:00 AM to fit a two bedroom apartment into a very large moving truck. They invaded like a swarm of locusts, crunching packing paper, ripping tape from the roll, talking above each other, and running around the place until finally it was all loaded and ready for departure. They made incredible timing... only 6.5 hours from start to finish. I guess anything is possible when you have a team of 6 men cramped in a 1,035 sq/ft apartment working through their lunch break.

Friday morning began on schedule when the vehicle moving company arrived to load the vehicles that would be delivered to us in California. After signing off on all of the paperwork, we ventured inside for a day of deep cleaning the (now empty) apartment.

About mid-day, Spencer left with a friend to run errands while I stayed behind to finish up. It was after this point that things started going terribly wrong...

At some point during the day, our air conditioner stopped blowing cool air. It was definitely on and running, but was registering 90 degrees inside. Keep in mind that at this point, our place of residence was still Austin in the middle of the summer with temperatures soaring above 100 degrees. With no car for transport or any decent form of hydration anywhere in sight, I trudged through the tedious duties of baseboard cleaning, vacuuming, dusting, and all of the other mundane tasks associated with holding on to the smallest glimmer of hope that would entitle you to receiving your full deposit. By the time Spencer returned home, it was time to retreat to his sister's home (where we were staying) and get ready for one last farewell dinner with my parents.

After a fantastic dinner at Hyde Park Grill (our favorite!) we made use of my parents' car, and returned to our apartment to pick up some trash and other odds and ends to take to the dumpster (which is a pretty good ways from our building). The inside of the house was still fairly warm, despite the fans that had been running all day. On our last trip down the interior stairs, I dropped a bottle of vegetable oil which incidentally cracked and gushed out onto the tile floor and all over the walls. Perfect timing. Strike one on the full deposit return. After saying goodbye to my parents who were headed home, we retreated inside Spencer's sister's house to what we (foolishly) thought would be a quiet evening at home.

About 30 minutes later, we decided to head out for one last stop at one of Austin's famous food trailers for a late night dessert and recap. Shortly before leaving, a mishap occurred involving a fallen picture frame, a broken elbow pipe fitting, a plumber, an emergency home repair man, 8 water collection buckets, 3 high powered fans, gallons of gushing water through the ceiling, downstairs light fixtures, and drywall, four angry and inquisitive neighbors, two panicked house guests, and one very distraught homeowner. I will let your imagination piece together the flavorful events contained in those 7 hours of devastation since the wounds are still too fresh to elaborate! Needless to say, the amount of sleep had on that last evening in Texas was minimal at best.

Moving Day, at last! The day was off to a rocky start as it continued from the evening prior, but we made the best of it as we had our last meal (breakfast at Torchy's Tacos) in Austin before take off. We had one more seemingly simple task to complete before heading to the airport... administering a sedation medication to our 4 year old kitty who would be accompanying us on the flight.

(I'm lying...there is one equation that does ring true: Sedation + Cat does NOT = Simple)!

Chloe (the kitty) does not take traveling well, and under the permission of her veterinarian, we were given a very small dose of sedative to make her four hour flight from Austin to Las Vegas to San Diego as smooth as possible. In truth, she took the whole process much easier than her parents who hated every minute of sedating her, then watching her fight sleep until (defeated) she finally got some rest on the plane. The other passengers and stewardesses on the plane hardly knew there was a pet on board, and were all very complimentary of her once we landed. She was a champion at air travel!

Excited and exhausted, we arrived at the San Diego International Airport on Saturday afternoon and took a shuttle over to our booth at the rental car facility. After successfully finding our way from the airport to our hotel in Carlsbad (thank you, GPS!), we quickly hopped back in the car to find a Target where essentials could be purchased... i.e. shampoo and kitty litter.

It was a whirlwind trip of a lifetime, but all things considered, went incredibly well. Needless to say, sleep never felt so good!

Bluebonnets to Beaches

As the very first post in this blog, it seems as though I have some explaining to do as how to in the world I landed in Carlsbad, California :) I will try to give you the abridged version as the preface to this story.

In a nutshell, I am a Texas girl from a small town, who attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and went on to begin a career in the beautiful hill country of Austin, Texas. I've had the luxury of traveling all over the Lone Star State for work and for school. It wasn't long after I got my feet wet in Austin (so to speak) did opportunity come knocking again. My wonderfully talented, handsome, and charming boy (yes, I like him a bit!) was offered a position at a leading golf company in Oceanside, CA. With only a short turnaround on time, I agreed to join him on this amazing journey, and our bags were packed and plane tickets booked in just 26 short days after his acceptance. And, here we are!

This whole journey has been quite the experience in a multitude of ways. For starters, neither of us have ever lived anywhere other than Texas so the idea of traveling 1,300 miles to start fresh is daunting to say the least. Secondly, although we had the extreme fortune of having our lives packed and moved for us, the coordination to break a current lease, leave two jobs, schedule necessary appointments, and leave everything behind in an orderly fashion was slightly chaotic.

Did I mention that we were flying 4 hours... with a cat? No? Well, that happened too...

*Disclaimer: If ever the occasion arises when you need to fly with your pet, Southwest Airlines is beyond helpful in this process, and very easy to work with!

I will end by saying this opportunity has been truly one of life's greatest blessings. I have been allowed the good fortune of leaving a wonderful place, and beginning again in a wonderful place and I will make the most of every day during my time here. Stay tuned for updated posts as I venture out and around this beautiful city! I'm ready to take CA the AB way ;)