Just Some Pictures

I’m in Albuquerque this week, eating more green chilis than any single person should consume in a lifetime. I’ve also been busy taking pictures so I thought I’d throw a few of my recent faves up!

This one showed up on FB a week or 2 ago. As tough as kids and pets can be, they can also provide some of the cutest photos ever. Give me a 5 year old and a bulldog any day of the week (not really, but it was fun!).


This little girl is going to be turning 2 and will soon be a big sister! She’s the cutest.


Speaking of adorable pets? How about a boxer puppy. Yeah. I know. Cuteness overload. Nick’s first comment was that they should recreate this photo in 5 years. I’m there!

2014-Nick and Nicole-0096.jpg

I guess this is how I look when I’m taking photos. Sorry for the close up, Nick.


I’m not usually one for landscape photography, but was particularly pleased with how this one turned out. Golden gate is in the way back, with the bay bridge up front. You have to be on a boat to get this one! Happy Wednesday!


Muir Woods and the Bay Model

Last Friday I had the day off, so instead of sitting at home on our computers, we decided to venture out!  Go us!

I left the planning to Nick, and he came through with a fun afternoon of bay area activities.

We started out with a visit to Muir Woods.  To tell you the truth, I wasn’t super thrilled about this.  I’ve never understood the appeal of just looking at trees in a forest.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried it a few times….and was sort of underwhelmed.  Yep, big, tall trees.  I think someone needed to manage my expectations a bit better before those visits.

You’ll be pleased to know that I actually really liked Muir Woods.  It felt like a little fairy or gnome was going to come flying out of the ground at any moment.  Just magical.

The only downside to Muir Woods?  It’s popular.  Even on a Friday.  There’s a main parking lot, a backup lot and then “street” parking.  Needless to say we went on a “hike” (from our car to the entrance) before our actual “hike.”  I’m using quotes here because the hike was really a walk – lots of people with little kids and strollers.  And it was still magical peeps!  There were additional, more rugged trails that branched off of the main trail, but we were on a schedule.  Those trails would have to wait until next time!

Trivia: Muir Woods is actually a national monument, not a national park!  Apparently it can take roughly 10 years to turn an area of land into a national park, but only a few months to turn it into a monument.  We heard this from the lovely volunteer at a “tree talk.”  Highly recommend these talks.

Since traffic patterns basically run our lives out here, we decided we didn’t have much time for lunch.  We were about to jump into a Starbucks, when we found Sol Food!  It was super tasty and right on the way to/from Muir Woods.  Lots of words like organic, free range, quinoa etc in the menu.  You get the idea.

Then it was off to the Bay Model.  A scale model of the bay built by the Army Corp of Engineers.  Story goes that in the 1940s, John Reber proposed building 2 dams in the bay.  The Army Corp of Engineers built the model to study the potential effects.  Needless to say, they decided against it.  It was used as a research facility until 2005, when they realized computers could do the same type of work.  So now it’s a fun place to go and learn about science.

It fills a building roughly 1.5 acres, so yeah, it’s big.  The tides go in and out over the course of a 15 min – simulating 1 day.  We sat there and stared at one section for an embarrassingly long amount of time, trying to watch the tide go in and out. Between the map enthusiast and the engineer, we both found it pretty entertaining (for about 20-30 min).  Definitely worth stopping by if you’re in the area, but not worth a trip all on its own.

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

So here’s the problem with the phrase “gluten free”.  I always associate it with “healthy.”  I know that’s not the case, but it really helps justify things like cookies!

We were in need of some sweets the other night, but I didn’t want to use butter or flour if at all possible.  I found a recipe on minimalist baker taken from the Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook.

I had to adapt it a bit because I didn’t have enough almond meal.  But I think it turned out pretty darn tasty!  SO much so, that I made more last night.  Oops!


3/4 c almond flour (I just pulverize almonds in my magic bullet)
3/4 c oatmeal/oatmeal flour (I just put half the oatmeal in the magic bullet to make it a bit finer) – if you are truly GF, make sure you get GF oats or just use all almond flour
1/3 c brown sugar
1/4 c chocolate chips (ok fine, I used closer to 1/2 a cup)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbs melted coconut oi

1.  Combine the dry ingredients into a bowl
2.  Combine the egg, vanilla and melted coconut oil until creamy
3.  Add the dry ingredients to the we ingredients
4.  The recipe says to put it in the fridge for at least 30 min.  I just spread the dough on the inside of the bowl and stick it in the freezer for about 5-10 min.  Works fine.
5.  Make little cookie balls and put them on a parchment lined baking sheet – I fit the entire batch on my jelly roll pan.  Around 17-18.  Push them down a little.
6.  Bake at 400 for 7-10 min, until the edges are golden.
7. Let them sit on the tray for 5ish min and then remove to a cooling rack.


Roasted Roma Tomatoes

Roma2 Have you ever had a fresh tomato? Straight off the vine? Good god they are amazing.  I had no idea how flavorful tomatoes could be until I had them fresh.  Which resulted in every tomato thereafter tasting subpar.

Unfortunately, we eat tomatoes often in this house – on pizza, as part of a caprese salad, or mixed in with our favorite broccoli/italian sausage faux pasta dish – so having mediocre tomatoes is kinda tragic (yes, I’m being a little dramatic).

Then last week I read an article that suggested roasting tomatoes to help enhance their flavor.  Genius!

So I tried it this weekend as a pizza topping and it was delicious!  And people even commented that the tomatoes were extra tasty.  Want to try this yourself?  Here you go!

Roasted Roma Tomatoes Ingredients

3 Roma Tomatoes
1 large, crushed garlic clove
1-2 Tbs olive oil

1.  Line a small baking sheet with parchment
2.  Slice the romas lengthwise and scoop out the seeds/liquid (I just swipe the area with my finger to get most of the liquid out)
3.  Set the romas, cut side up, on the parchment
4.  Combine the garlic and olive oil and drizzle over the tomatoes
5.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper
6.  Roast at 350F for around 30-40 min, until they get soft and bubbly.

We let them cool and then cut them up for the pizza.  Delicious!  I’m sure they’d be an excellent addition to caprese salad or mixed in with a salad!


Smithfield, NC

Some of you probably saw my posts from Wednesday.  For those that didn’t, here it is!

My friend, Will, asked Lisa and I to pose for some stock photos he was trying to create.  Typically, you NEVER see the photos again.  People use them, but trying to find them would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Fast forward to Tuesday when a co-worker mentioned seeing us randomly on tripadvisor.  What?!  Naturally, we went looking.  And Will found it!

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 8.05.19 PM And here’s the original in case you were wondering.


Can’t believe they cropped out my hair!

A few facts about Smithfield, N.C.

  • The median household income is $27,813
  • You can by a mansion for $395,000

Smithfield Mansion

  • The mall they are advertising is actually an outlet, it receives 4/5 stars and it totally has a Banana and a J Crew.  Legit mall and one I would potentially frequent if I happened to live in Smithfield.
  • Which is unlikely, since they have a 0.63% Asian population.

When I was little, I wanted to be a model.  Now I can check it off the list!

Happy Friday!

We’re getting old…..

But at least we’re doing it together.

So, today is a pretty monumental day for Nick and I.  15 years together.  That’s right.  15 years.

And by all accounts, it’s been a good 15 years.

I’ll spare you the awkward photos. I know you’re dying to see.

We met our freshman year of high school.  Here’s how we stayed together.

SFHall.jpg (86) I introduced him to golf (and ballet – he likes golf at least).  He introduced me to baseball.

Tip: It’s important to take an interest in these things.  You don’t have to like them.  But you should try.  Effort is like 90% of it.

I cook dinner.  He washes the dishes.

Tip: Sometimes it’s good to have a nice division of labor.  I know plenty of people who share these duties, and we share others.  But it helps when the expectations are (relatively) clear.  Another example?  I bake, he licks the batter out of the bowl.

We travel together.  And take weekend walks to Starbucks (highly recommend going on walks – exercise + unplugged time).

Tip: Spend time together.  Just the 2 of you.  And talk for real.  And if you can travel together, especially in a foreign country, on little sleep, with a crazy cab driver, your relationship might just have staying power.

We sometimes dress as twins, despite our +12″ height difference.

Tip: Don’t take yourself too seriously.  You’re both crazy awesome and totally not awesome all at the same time.

I joke that you should marry the person who annoys you the least.  A hopeless romantic, I know.  But we really do get along well.

He calls me princess.  Eskimo princess when we’re skiing or I’m wearing a winter hat.  Wahine princess when we’re in Hawaii or I’m super tan or in a swimming suit.  And Ballerina princess when I’m dancing.  And for anyone rolling their eyes at the thought of Nick calling me a princess all the time, he also calls me a sweaty monster when I get back from the gym :)

Tip: Say nice things to each other.  As much as you can.

15 years ago (today) we went to the mall and the park.  I actually thought he liked the mall.  Turns out he was just trying to impress me.  Well played, sir.

5 years ago he proposed.  Which was crazy!

4 years ago we got married at city hall.

SFHall.jpg (80) Here’s to 15 more!

This Week and Last

Currently sitting in the Oakland airport, my flight to LA has been delayed by quite a bit.  Thankfully, it’s giving me a little time to update the blog.

Over the weekend, we enjoyed the amazingly warm weather in the city with a Picnic in Alamo Square Park.  Home of the Painted Ladies, made famous by the Full House intro video!  80′s nostalgia lives on. We bought Denica’s cookies, drank diet Dr. Pepper, ate Mr. Pickle’s sandwiches and snacked on chili cheese Fritos.  Why the sudden junk food binge?  After our picnic we were headed to the ballet.  So Nick got whatever he wanted for lunch.

For the record, I NEVER make Nick come with me to the ballet.  But he decided it would be a “fun” day in the city.  So off we went.  SF Ballet was performing Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella.  The performance had sold out last year before I could get tickets, so I was sure to snap some up for the encore performance.  SF Ballet did not disappoint – but I think Nick won’t be attending the ballet again anytime soon :)   Some of my favorite Nick-isms from the ballet:

  • I didn’t realize there would be NO talking.
  • I didn’t see Gus-gus
  • If he could have talked he could have been like “HEY, you forgot your shoe! And I didn’t get your number!”
  • Me: What was your favorite part? Nick: when they do the double axles

This week….

  • I’ll be in LA, taking a class at UCLA
  • Hopefully meeting up with these crazy kids for dinner
  • Reading Shift, the sequel to WOOL (you can read Part 1 of WOOL for free if you have a kindle) – another dystopian novel, but different than Hunger Games and Divergent
  • Playing Three on my iPhone – it makes me feel a little bit smarter than playing Candy Crush (thanks, Hitha!)
  • Dreaming about the amazing pastrami sandwich I had this past weekend at Refuge in San Carlos.  The only downside? All the salt.  Just pound water for the next few days.  It’s totally worth it.

Happy Monday!

Stylish Camera Bag

I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect, stylish bag for my DSLR.  A bag that doesn’t scream or even peep “I’m a camera bag.”  The bag needed to fit in seamlessly with my purse collection!  This was a tough task.

The Claremont, by Lo & Sons was on the short list, at $300! But it’s only available via a wait list, and I’m impatient.

camera_crossbody_783x485_spring2013 And I was also lusting over the Palma and the Chelsea by ONA – $329 and $369 respectively.

palma_front_590x420_1 chelsea_black_front_590x420_1 The Chelsea was probably the front runner – and most expensive.  Go figure.  I have expensive taste.  I think I get it from my grandma :)

The toughest part about finding a camera bag – especially a cute one – is trying it on.  These bags don’t seem to be offered in stores.  So you can’t see how your equipment fits.  My Camera is bigger than your average DSLR, so I wasn’t sure how it would fit.  I wanted to touch the bag.

So for the past 6 months I’ve hemmed and hawed over a handful of beautiful, expensive camera bags.

And then I went to the outlets on Friday.  And found the perfect bag! A Zac Posen bag no less!  It was the perfect size for my camera insert.  So I snatched it up!  And it was even on sale! When I showed it to Nick he said, “don’t tell me how much it cost!” It was the cheapest of the 3 :)

I have a timbuk2 XS Snoop and it holds my 5D MkIII with a lens and 1 extra lens without a problem.  So pumped for my new bag and excited to sport it at an upcoming wedding, have to hold down my reputation as the stylish girl!!

Chili Lime Brittle

Chili Lime Brittle Last week we were visiting with friends when a bag of Chili Lime Tequila Tortilla Brittle got whipped out.  Yeah.  Right?  It was addicting.  Just the right combination of salty, sweet, and spicey!

It was really tasty, but I try not to pay money for sweets (this is not a hard and fast rule, but it helps me stay away from time to time).  We decided this might just work by swapping lime chips for saltines and using my brittle recipe for the best dessert ever.

I had a relatively light Sunday, so I thought I’d give it try! Result?  Delicious!  This version needed a little more lime/salt punch, so I’m thinking I’ll try again and add a little lime salt (I haven’t tried this yet….so no promises).  I might also try different chips.  I used Tostitos lime chips, but perhaps a stronger chili-lime chip may help.  But overall, not a bad dessert! Or afternoon snack…..

So here’s what I used, ingredients:

1 stick of butter
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c brown sugar, lightly packed
~1.5 c lightly smashed lime chips (I used tostitos lime chips, but might try a limey-er or chili-lime chip next time)
~1/8 c chopped and toasted almonds (optional)

1.  I actually used my FAVORITE brittle recipe, but cut it in half – just in case it was nasty.  I typically use a full jelly roll pan for my usual recipe, but since I cut it in half, I used foil to make a mini pan inside my bigger pan.  Can you see what I did?  If you have a pan that’s half the size of a full jelly roll pan, obviously use that.

2014-Lime Brittle-0007 2. Prep the brittle – melt the butter and sugars in a pan until they get frothy.  Then pour over the chips.

2014-Lime Brittle-0010 3.  Bake at 385 for 8 min (my oven cooks hot, so I always turn it down a touch, just keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn’t burn).  It should get a little golden and bubbly.  Remove it from the oven and sprinkle the almonds over the top immediately (otherwise they won’t stick).  Enjoy!

Has anyone ever tried making something like this?  Any tips?

Chocolate Making with Rachel Dunn

Over the holidays, my girlfriends and I decided to buy a travelzoo deal for a chocolate making course.  Yes, this is a far cry from cauliflower pizza.

We finally cashed in our chocolate making vouchers last Friday night at Rachel Dunn’s in Concord.  Waivers in hand (yes, waivers!), we were ready to make chocolate!

To be honest, I was skeptical.  I don’t consider myself a chocolate pro, but I’ve been around the chocolate block a few times.  This isn’t my first chocolate rodeo.  I’ve dipped peanut butter balls, molded chocolate, and dipped cake pops with the best of them.

Once at the shop (or is it shoppe?) we donned the requisite hair net and apron.  So much for looking cute on our girls night out!

Turns out, Rachel Dunn is kind of a big deal.  She appeared on the Rosie O’donnel show a few times back in the day and has been pretty popular ever since.  Her chocolate knowledge is kind of incredible.  She knows her stuff.

So, how does chocolate making work?  Well, they should really call it a chocolate dipping class.  We basically dipped and decorated over 20 different items! We learned some dipping techniques and how to make the things we dipped (turns out they have to be made at least a day or two in advance – really makes you appreciate finer chocolates).

We even learned how to make a strawberry tuxedo.  Super fancy, right?!

So if you’re looking for a fun activity to do with friends, check out Rachel Dunn’s Chocolate Class!  Our travelzoo deal was $25 (the class is usually $55).  Not positive I’d pay $55 but totally worth it for $25!  It looks like she offers others – we saw a chocolate mouse from her class the night before.  So who knows, maybe we’ll find ourselves back another day!