2012 Wrap Up

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a fantastic holiday season and had a wonderful time ringing in the New Year. I’m so excited to show you some pictures from both holidays and the fantastic gluten-free/dairy-free dishes I made for Christmas Eve, including one that my family declared is now an essential for every future holiday. But before we get to that, I thought it’d be fun to look back on some of the highlights of 2012. Sometimes reflecting on a year can be difficult but having a blog makes it easier!

Also, I wanted to draw your attention to two brand new pages on GGG that are on the top menu. I’ve added a Fashion page where you can find some of my past outfits and What to Wear Wednesday posts and a Parties page, devoted to some of the fun parties my friends in the city there- definitely a place to start when trying to think of your next party idea!

January Highlights:

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I started off the year with a bang when I flew to New York to model for Loft’s denim guide. I had an amazing time at the shoot and was lucky enough to spend the weekend with my best friend enjoying everything NY has to offer… including an amazing brunch at Sarabeths! I hope another NYC visit is in my future soon! Later in the month, I celebrated my mom’s birthday by attending the National Ice Skating championships which were absolutely amazing! I have so much respect for those talented athletes!

February Highlights:

In February, I started cooking things that weren’t already prepped by Trader Joes and realized how much I enjoyed it and that it was possible to cook healthy meals even when I got home from work late! I made Southwestern Quinoa Filled Zucchini and one of my all time favorites Sweet Potato Veggie Chili. Of course, sweets made an appearance as well when I made Slutty brownies for book club.

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March Highlights:

In March, I attended my mom’s best friend’s afternoon tea- it was a wonderful time to catch up with family and friends and everything was delicious! I also went to a fun fashion event with my girlfriends- the opening of the San Francisco Alice & Olivia store!

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April Highlights:

My April highlight is obvious- taking my Grandma to Las Vegas to celebrate her 87th birthday! It was a complete surprise and even after my parents and Grandma arrived in Vegas, she had no idea that my brother and I were joining in on the fun too! We went out to delicious meals, explored and my mom even took her to see Donny & Marie! It was a weekend full of memories I’ll always treasure. During this month, my mom, Grandma and I also did a photoshoot which was so much fun!

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May Highlights:

Looking back, I think May was one of my favorite months this year! I got to hold a baby pig, attend a fantastic Derby Day party (complete with a grilled cheese and mimosa bar) and the most exciting part- go to Indianapolis for the Indy 500! As a huge Indy fan, this was actually the first race I’d been to and it set the bar super high for all future races. It was such an exciting, fabulous time and I loved sharing it with my mom and Daddy Jeff.

June Highlights:

Much of June went undocumented because it was a big health-issues month for me consumed with lots of appointments trying to figure out what was going on with me. But there were still some highlights like attending the Bachelor Auction (see my friend Katie’s blog for a post on it!) and attending Grease the Sing-A-Long at the Castro theater with my girlfriends!

July Highlights:

After kind of a rough June, July was an awesome month. My brother got engaged and we had a surprise engagement party (the wedding is in May and I’m a bridesmaid!) Later in the month, I went to see the Jean Paul Gaultier museum exhibit, went wine tasting in Napa and attended a Bachelorette Finale party, Olympics party and book club brunch! It was a very social, fun month!

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August Highlights:

In August I had Jury Duty which I loved (but didn’t get to be picked as part of the jury-darn), created a recipe for healthy summer ratatouille, went to the Indy race in Sonoma, and did a little modeling at the SF store for LOFT and got a chance to preview their fall collection!

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September Highlights:

September (my birthday month) was full of lots of fun things! I went wine tasting in Napa again, went to San Francisco’s Fashion’s Night Out and a Giant’s game. The birthday celebrations took over the last two weeks of the month and I was showered with love at my Birthday Dinner Party, a family celebration at a favorite restaurant and the most amazing LA reunion trip with my college besties.

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October Highlights:

October brought fun social events like 7×7’s Hot 30 party, my friend’s Halloween party where we all dressed as Disney princesses, and an amazing trip to LA for the O! You conference with my mom as a birthday treat! I still owe you a post about that and this is a good reminder!

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November Highlights:

The month started off great with a visit from one of my best friends who now lives in DC! It was so fun to have her here and reminded me how much I missed her! I also absolutely loved cooking Thanksgiving dinner even though it was my first one being gluten-free and dairy-free. It was so much fun to try new recipes and make delicious foods for my family.

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December Highlights:

December was a very busy month but full of lots of fun activities like a visit from another best friend, going Oyster shucking in Tomales Bay, celebrating my friend Ashley’s birthday with a fun party, and of course Christmas and New Years Eve! Blog posts on much of the aforementioned soon!

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What didn’t make the blog

I mentioned here and there about my health struggles but the extent of which wasn’t ever covered and I’ll probably keep it semi-private. However, what you all do know is that I was finally diagnosed with celiac and am no longer in constant pain! I’m seeing an amazing doctor and am so thankful for my parents who stood by me tirelessly as I endured many a hospital visit and change of plans. I’m on the road to recovery and feeling very excited for what’s sure to be a wonderful 2013.

 

 

Oyster Shucking in Tomales Bay

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a lovely weekend! Did any of you go to Christmas parties this weekend? My sorority alumni group had a party yesterday and it was so much fun! In addition to the usual festivities, one of our members is a cake pop making expert and gave us a lesson! It was great and I can’t wait to give them a shot soon myself. This was a busy weekend though and the day before all of my friends got together for a little day trip. My friend Biz planned for us all to drive to Tomales Bay which is about an hour and a half from SF, for a fun day of oyster shucking and eating. I don’t actually eat oysters (and can’t have shellfish right now per doctor’s orders) so for me it was more shucking and chatting. Everyone brought delicious dishes to share and I made a quinoa salad that was so easy and super yummy! I’ll have to share the recipe soon. We got so lucky that not only was it not raining, but it was such a beautiful day! It was such a relaxing and fun day- then again, with this group, every time we hang out is wonderful!

My "outdoorsy" outfit!

My “outdoorsy” outfit!

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Ladies in vests

Ladies in vests

 

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Candid moment mid-shuck… it was surprisingly hard!

Oysters on the BBQ with all the fixins

Oysters on the BBQ with all the fixins

Group shot

Group shot

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Questions:

-Do eat oysters or shellfish?

-Have you ever shucked an oyster?

LA Reunion

Hi lovelies! I hope that you are having a fantastic week and are looking ahead to Friday and some fun weekend plans! Today, I have to give a very special birthday shoutout to my brother Brooks who is turning 29! You’ve seen Brooks on the blog before but what you don’t know is how close we are- we talk almost every day and meet for lunch about once a week, sometimes more! We are so lucky to work mere blocks from each other and I love getting to see him so regularly. He is so supportive and caring and I have spent the last 25 years looking up to him! Happy Birthday dear brother!

Brooks and me on my 24th birthday

And now for another catch-up installment! A few weeks ago I went to LA for my school’s alumni weekend. No, it wasn’t an official “reunion” but it was a time for me to reunite with all of my college girlfriends. We try and see each other semi-regularly but with all of our busy schedules sometimes it is hard to coordinate. For our weekend we stayed at the gorgeous Belamar hotel in Manhattan Beach. The location was perfect (and near some of my favorite college haunts) and the amenities were great.

On our first night there, we got settled in the hotel and went got dressed up and went to Primativo for dinner. It was my first time there and it is the cutest wine bar/restaurant. We sat outside in the garden area that is dimly lit with twinkly lights and candles, making it the perfect atmosphere for us to get some catching up in! We had a few bottles of wine and a little bit of everything on the menu! Everything was fantastic but our favorite dish was the Coq Au Vin “Blanc”- Slow Roasted Mary’s Farm Chicken, olive oil poached potatoes, market vegetables, herb jus Bourgogne Blanc, France. I’ve had Coq au Vin before but never with white wine and the sauce was incredible- I literally wanted to drink it and since I was still having bread then, I used the delicious crusty bread to soak it up as a classier option ;) After our amazing dinner (and a few pictures of course) we went to a few bars in Venice and Santa Monica and then piled in a cab to go back to MB.

The next day we woke up and started the day at Marmalade Cafe for brunch before our Alumni Bar Crawl. We had their peach mimosas with champagne, peach nector and orange juice but because my friends know how much I hate peaches, mine was just a classic mimosa. The girls really enjoyed the peach nector though in theirs! For my meal, I had a short stack of their Seven Grain Almond Granola pancakes topped with strawberries. They were good but so dense that I could only finish one!

After our delicious breakfast we headed over to the bar crawl. It was fun seeing people from the past but of course my favorite part was just hanging out with the girls. Although we were having fun (and of course, taking lots of pictures) a few of us were feeling tired so we decided to get frozen yogurt and head back to the hotel to take a nap, which felt glorious!

When we woke up went to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants from college, La Sirena.  They have the best mexican food and I am pretty much obsessed with their margaritas, chips and burritos. I never order a burrito at Mexican restaurants, but theirs is better than any that I’ve had before! My best friend and I split one like the old days and it was delicious! From there we headed over to Dry Bar to get blow outs before we went out that night! I opted for the Cosmo-Tai which has volume on top and loose curls throughout the hair. After my last experience at a blow out bar, I made sure to tell her to use lots of product because curls typically do not hold. They did ultimately fall, but I was pleased with how it looked with a little wave. After that we went back to the hotel and got ready and went to a friends house before going out. Of course we spent this time taking more pictures. Can you tell yet that it was a picture heavy weekend?

The next morning we got up to go to brunch at The Strand, a new restaurant in Manhattan Beach. This place has recently had a major renovation (LA friends you might remember it as the bar Beaches!) and has a gorgeous view overlooking the water. We had a wonderful time catching up and of course, couldn’t help ourselves from going down to the beach for a few pics as well. From there, we blasted some of our favorite college songs and drove along the PCH with the windows down. It felt just like college. We ended up at LMU and it was so crazy to be on campus again! I haven’t been back since graduation and I can’t even express  how weird it was because while it looked the same, I felt so different this time around and things in my life have changed so much. It was kind of bizarre. I didn’t stay for too long at the Alumni BBQ because I was meeting up with my sorority little-sis and then going to the airport, but we did take the time to recreate our college graduation pictures.

All in all, it was such an amazing weekend and I had such a blast with my girlfriends!

Let’s Get Caught Up

Hi lovelies! Long time, no see! I’m so sorry about my extended absence and apologize for the lapse in blogging. At first, I was away because I was fighting a horrible cold/flu and after getting home from work, just wasn’t up to blogging as well and needed lots of chicken noodle soup and sleep. Then, sadly, I ended up in the hospital with abdominal issues. I don’t like to talk about my health struggles too much on the blog because there are some personal things I’d rather just not discuss. But maybe at some point, I’ll take the plunge and write about it. For now though, we’ll leave it that I was in a great deal of pain and despite still having intermittent pain, I’m back at work and doing better which is such a relief.

But that’s enough of that, instead I’d rather tell you about some fun things going on!

1. My Favorite New Recipe: Strawberry and Mozzarella Salad with Mint Pesto Drizzle

Often times I’ll take pictures on my phone of dishes I make or delicious restaurant meals… and then forget to post them. Earlier in the summer I decided to make the above recipe that I pinned as the perfect starter. As much as I love cheese, I don’t care for raw tomatoes so I’m not a big caprese fan. But when I found a way to have the cheese and combine it with two of my favorite things- strawberries and pesto? I was sold. This is absolutely delicious and fairly easy to make (if you are in a hurry you could always use pre-made pesto but you’ll miss out on the mint flavor!) The only substitutions I made were using truvia instead of sugar and using less oil!

2. Most Exciting Part of the Summer: My Brother’s Engagement!

We had special engagement ring cookies made!

My brother has been dating the beautiful, sweet Julia for almost two years now and they got engaged this summer! I couldn’t be happier that this wonderful couple is getting married and am so excited to be part of their big day (but more on that later.) My brother planned a wonderful proposal for Julia and then my mom and I planned a surprise post-proposal party with both our family and Julia’s family all gathered together. It was such a success and so much fun!

3. Can’t Wait For: My Upcoming LA Trip!

All the girls together Junior Year… hard to believe that was 4 years ago!

In a few weeks I’ll be headed back down to LA for my alumni weekend! I’ve been out of college for 2 years now and cannot wait to spend the weekend with all my best college girlfriends! It also happens to be the day after my birthday, so it will be so fun to celebrate and go to a fabulous dinner! Now I just have to start figuring out the perfect outfits ;)

Questions:

-Catch me up on what’s been going on with you!

-When’s the last time you saw your college friends?

-Have you ever been to an alumni event?

The Fastest Race in the World: Indy 500

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a great weekend and for those lucky folks on summer vacation, are enjoying your time off! This weekend was a relaxing one and I spent time with my Mom and Grandma, and went to see the best movie on Friday night. Although I love my chick flicks, I also absolutely love foreign films and was excited to see the French film, The Intouchables. Based on a true story, the film chronicles a wealthy quadriplegic man who hires a man from the streets to be his caretaker. You’ll have to see the film to truly understand how captivating and powerful it is, but I thought the movie tagline was especially poignant “Sometimes you have to reach into someone else’s world to find what’s missing in your own.” I 100% recommend this movie!

I realized this weekend as I was relaxing, that I never told you about my very busy weekend when I went to the Indy 500! It was an even more amazing experience than I ever could have expected. Rather than write you a novel about it, I think I’ll show you some pictures (and captions) instead.

Downtown Indianapolis– there was a great chocolate shop around the corner from this beautiful monument!

My favorite driver, Marco Andretti who lead the most laps in the Indy 500 the next day, but sadly crashed in the final laps.

The Target dog, Bullseye! Target sponsors Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon, the top 2 finishers in the Indy 500.

In an actual INDY car!

Excited for Race Day! Outfit details: Top: LOFT, Shorts: LOFT, Flip Flops: Rainbow

The racing fam with our special-access passes

We were on the edge of our seats for almost all 500 laps– this really is the most exciting race!

The pictures can’t possibly convey the amazing experience it was going to the Indy 500 with my parents. We had an absolutely fantastic time and memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Now I’m hoping to attend the Sonoma Grand Prix to see all my favorite drivers race again!

Questions:

-Do you like foreign films? What’s your favorite movie genre?

-What type of sporting events do you like to attend? Do you favorite teams/players/drivers?

Oh Mr. Sun

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a great Monday and your week is off to a fantastic start! This is a busy week for me and I’ve definitely got my eye on the prize– this weekend! On Friday I leave to go to the Indianapolis 500 and am beyond excited. People are always surprised when they hear that I like Indy but I’ve been watching the race with my mom for years. It’s always been a dream to go and after getting tickets a year ago, Daddy Jeff, my mom and I are so ecstatic that it’s finally time!

I spent this past weekend in the sun celebrating a very special friend’s birthday in the park. We had a great time hanging out at Fort Mason eating some red velvet blondies and drinks and enjoying each others company. I had a perfect day but I brought a something unexpected home… the worst sunburn! My back and shoulders are bright red and incredibly painful. Since I’m pale I do have the tendency to burn but it’s been years since I’ve had a burn this bad.

The entire front of my body was “touched by the sun” during a past trip to the Bahamas

Since it’s almost summer (!!) I thought it’d be good  time to talk about proper sun care and how to have fun in the sun without taking home a nasty burn.

Before you go:

-Look for sunscreen with the Skin Cancer Foundation seal, and make sure it prtoects against UVA and UVB rays. There are three active ingredients to look for: PABA derivatives, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide.

-Apply sunscreen half an hour before going out into the sun. Not only will it have time to soak in to the skin, but you won’t have to twist and turn awkwardly in public trying to rub it in those hard to reach places!

-Most people put on too little sunscreen and the correct amount to use is about 1 oz or a shot glass full.

While You’re There:

-Reapply sunscreen approximately every two hours and if you are sweating or in water, it may be necessary to apply more often. For a day in the sun one person should be using 1/4-1/2 of an 8 oz. bottle.

If you get “Touched by the Sun”:

-Get out of the sun as soon as possible at the first sign of pink. It takes a sunburn 4-6 hours to develop, so keep in mind that a little color can turn into a painful experience later.

-Moisturize! Take a cool shower if you can stand it and slather your skin with a moisturizing product- I’ve been living on aloe vera!

-Stay hydrated by drinking extra water, juice and sports drinks as the burn draws fluid from the surface and away from the body.

By following these tips you can spend time enjoying the beautiful weather and spending time with friends and family. These are all things I’m going to be doing this weekend!

Questions:

-Have you had any bad sunburns?

-What’s your favorite thing to do in the warm weather?

GGG Restaurant Review: Serendipty 3

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a great Monday and that your week is off to a fantastic start. I’ll admit, it was a little hard going back to reality after such a wonderful weekend away! But now I’m back in the swing of things, I’m looking forward to some fun things happening this week and weekend. My personal rule of thumb is that whenever something you were looking forward to is over, make sure you have something else fun planned!

Besides some great breakfasts we had in our room (more on that later) most of our meals were spent dining out in Vegas. We ate at some great new-to-me restaurants, but visiting Serendipity while in Vegas was a “must” on my list. After seeing the movie Serendipity years ago, I became in love with the prospect of visiting the famous restaurant with the frozen hot chocolates. A few years ago on my first trip to New York my family made sure that I got to experience it, and it was just as amazing as I had hoped.

Based on my attire you can tell this is at the New York location in the winter!

So it only seemed right that we all venture back to the one in Vegas, this time so my Grandma could experience it. If you haven’t had frozen hot chocolate, it is a little difficult to understand the draw. But imagine a cross between a chocolate milkshake and a chocolate slushie with whipped cream piled on top. Or imagine pure bliss. It’s kind of like that. We all went for the frozen hot chocolate, but as it was lunchtime, we knew that we needed to have some real food too.

My mom and I weren’t very hungry as we wanted to save room for the main event, we split the fresh berries, yogurt and granola. Since I’m mildly obsessed with this combo (I have it every single day at work) I thought I knew what to expect. And then this arrived…

Now that’s what I call presentation! The yogurt inside the coconut was delicious and the berries were perfectly fresh and sweet. I have never had white raspberries before either, but am definitely a fan.

Daddy Jeff ordered the Chopped Chicken Salad which he said was delicious and my Grandma had the chicken strips which were pretty incredible and served with 3 dipping sauces.

But all of that was just filler before the much awaited frozen hot chocolates. I can tell you that from the time these were delivered to the table until we got up to leave, the only words I uttered were versions of “This is SO good”. It was even better than I remembered and truly unlike anything else I’ve ever had. We ordered the mochacino and the regular and as much as I love coffee-flavored desserts, the regular is still my favorite. I indulged to my heart’s content  because I think this was one of those times where calories don’t count, and you just enjoy food for what it is. I tend to feel that way on vacation anyway, but especially for things like this where you can only get it at these special locations.

Questions:

-What’s the best dessert you’ve ever had?

-How do you approach indulging on vacation?