Tag Archives: brunch

Right out of a movie

I’m going to give all credit to Carley on this one. She researched and booked the world’s most incredible brunch at Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley.

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Let’s just say, this isn’t your standard 3-Michelin star restaurant. This place is, quite honestly, a friggin’ Swiss Family Robinson-style experience, complete with servers that have timed deliveries and round-table speeches to introduce each individual plate.

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Our brunch took place outdoors on the wraparound deck overlooking California’s Napa Valley. I was half expecting to have chimpanzees swing onto our shoulders during the dessert course.

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This is one of those, when in Rome, experiences – we all ordered a cocktail and cheers’ed to ending this first couple’s trip with a bang.

Bloody mary’s and mimosas all around! Of course, they were ordered using the table iPad in front of us.

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The brunch menu looked a little like this.  You choose a drink, a beginning, a sustenance, and a dessert.

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By memory, Brett and I shared the half dozen oysters, the cow’s milk burrata with grilled radicchio, a Maine lobster omelet, a Kurobuto pork chop, and two fantastic desserts from this menu.

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I know for sure we choose the Chocolate Peanut Butter one, and I couldn’t guess what the second one was. Let’s just say they both rocked our socks off. Finish up with a little cappuccino and we are ready to see that bill, server!

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Somewhere along the lines of $700 and vacation, we didn’t care what this meal cost. Once in a lifetime, eating on a beautifully exotic deck overlooking Napa, with some of the best friends life could give us.

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We took one more pano picture and all piled into the cars. Windows down, wind whipping our hair all over the place. We took the scenic route home. Along the rolling vineyards of Napa, promising ourselves we’ll be back some day.

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We stopped at the nearby grocery store on the way to Oliviera, to pick up dinner supplies (I know, we just had brunch… but we didn’t want to have to drive again once we got home.) We taste-tested some frosting, picked up some grilling materials and a quinoa salad or two – then we headed back.

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The rest of our last full day in paradise was spent laughing, listening to music, jumping in the hot tub, grilling and playing Cards Against Humanity.

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Without going into the details of our sad goodbyes the next morning, let’s just say this trip was a terrific first couple’s trip – one we won’t soon forget.

Where will the next one take us? Locations we have thrown around : Hawaii, Colorado Backcountry, to the coast of North Carolina…

The world really is our oyster. And traveling in groups allows for a more exotic lodging experience since we’re splitting it 8+ ways…

Thank you for a truly memorable trip : Carley & AJ, Katie & Scott, Molly & Chris, and the best traveler I know and love, Brett

Until next time,
e

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all my ladies

A syncing of photos from the iPhone to the Air reminded me I had a story I wanted to post.  Over Christmas holiday, I was reunited with my five close girlfriends from high school.  Most of them attend our annual girl’s trip.  We had a 2-hour time span where our schedules would overlap and we could spend some time connecting.  It was decided, a midweek brunch at The Kenwood.  Fresh snow had fallen and we stomped our way into this beautifully-decorated dining spot.

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Plaid wall paper, horse hooks for your coat and mismatched framed art with vintage lamps.

In true Minnesotan form, we wore “your-car-might-get-stuck-in-the-snow-and-you-have-to-walk” boots of all kinds.  A staple in any Midwestern girl’s wardrobe.

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The great part about this group is, we can be literally ANYWHERE and fully appreciate the time we spend together.  We will laugh on the side of the street in Vancouver.  Bundle up in white bathrobes and be morally supportive of the tallest girl singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” to a half-empty room on a cruise ship.  Enjoy a day drinking shopping spree in downtown Chicago.  We can be anywhere, at any time, and enjoy every moment of it.

In true fashion, brunch was spectacular.  We dined on a handful of delicious plates, I had an Omelette Florentine and we all toasted to friendship and forward momentum.

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And what happens after we dine + cheers?  We laugh and pass around Carla’s beautiful wedding ring (does AJ know this is a tradition?) as we talk about the future and everything we are looking forward to.

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These ladies make me whole again.  Cheers to a new year and another year of being blessed with these girlfriends.

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Carla (Florida), Molls (Minn), Meg (Colorado), Rach (Georgia), Kates (Arizona), and me

So incredibly happy,

xo

Listening to.

Sipping on.

Dreaming about.

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Good Morning Sunday!

We slept like queens.  A deep restless sleep that only broke when the sun started to shine through the curtains.  We didn’t have much of a plan for Sunday besides enjoying our last full day in Vancouver.  A massage, food, and laughing.  That’s about as far as we got with our planning our day, typical girl’s trip.

A little research showed that a mile or so away was a great coffee shop, so we headed in that direction.  Wanting to stretch out our legs a little and get some fresh air, we decided to walk.  It was a bit brisk and somewhat overcast.

Near our apartment, there was quite a bit of construction we had to dodge and weave under.

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I felt like we were a traveling artist group.  For two seconds.  And then realized we don’t sing well… and that dream crumbled – remembering last year in Chicago screaming to Lady Gaga at the top of our lungs… #earmuffs

The cute coffee shop we headed to is called 49th Parallel and we entered it with our stomach’s grumbling.

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They share space with Lucky’s Doughnuts – and why wouldn’t that be the case?  Good coffee and good doughnuts belong within whispering distance of one another.

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The branding catches my eye within seconds and we don’t leave the shop without a few tshirts, mugs and other 49th Parallel swag.

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We  picked a few doughnuts to share- it was hard to choose – I wanted one of everything!  We found a circle booth and spent the morning laughing, gossiping, and reliving past memories.  Sipping on our iced lattes, hot coffee, and chai teas.

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What a glorious time.  I cherish spending these types of moments with my ladies.  It doesn’t matter how much time we spend apart, when we get together for girl’s trip – it’s like we never parted!

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After a few hours at the 49th Parallel, we figured it was time to give up our prime seating to some of the other patrons waiting to nestle in for a few hours.  We began walking on the overcast Vancouver streets towards a spot for brunch.  Believe it or not, we had spent a few hours at the coffee shop.  We walked to our apartment, changed clothes, and headed in the direction of a spot we wanted to explore for brunch.  When Miss Molly’s in the group, we WILL be finding a brunch spot on Sunday.  She’s a brunch-hunting queen!

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This took place at a small, but incredibly busy restaurant called Fable.  This is one of your traditional fable to table hot spots (which I LOVE!) – whose marketing and design is also one for the record books.

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Talk about not judging a book by it’s cover.  That seems to be all I do.  A menu, a price sheet, art on the wall… it gets me every time!

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Inside Fable it was packed to the brim with patrons.  An entire wall was a chalkboard filled with doodles and designs.  There were backlit images of farm life.

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The light overhead was designed with pitchforks (hello, farm life!)

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And you know what we did at Fable?  While we sipped on our brunch beverages (mimosas and caesar’s [i.e. bloody mary])?  While we enjoyed a Sunday morning with wholesome individuals eating farm-fresh food?  We brought out Cards Against Humanity.  Right there in front of everyone.  The risqué game of unbelievable combinations and inappropriate words.  Nothing phases us!

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My favorite combination of the afternoon?  This one right here:

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(sorry for being scandalous, G-ma!)

I ordered the Farmer’s Muffin [salad, rosti, sausage, scrambled eggs, cheddar and tomato jam].  Divine and delicious.

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After Fable we started our trek towards the direction of a beach.  We didn’t have a lot planned, but knew we wanted to see some water, some mountains, lay in the sun, and get massages at some point.  The sun was shining and we were toasty warm.  Towards the beach we headed, and found our own little spot in the sand to curl up and sun-worship for a few moments.

 

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Halfway through our lounging.  We had to split up – half had massages at one time, the other half later on.  Meg & Moll took the first appointments.  Carla, Kates and I giggled on the beach for another half hour.

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We weren’t sure how long it would take to get to the spa we booked appointments at – so we gathered our tennis shoes and walked back to the main road to hail a taxi.  It drove the three of us to a little downtown shopping spot where Pink Lime Salon & Spa was located.

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It didn’t take as long as we thought – and now had 45 minutes to kill before our massages were scheduled.  We meandered down the strip of restaurants and bars, searching for a little watering hole to grab a drink at.  The Distillery looked inviting, and we sidled up to the bar for a quick one.

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I don’t remember all that much about my cocktail besides the fact that it was strong and served in a tin cup which I thought that was neat-o.  Our bartender was dressed from the prohibition error and held a conversation well while we picked his brains about life, love and the pursuit of happiness.  As you can see, we had the place to our selves and as always, enjoyed our time there.

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Our time was up and we headed to Pink Lime.  It seemed the spa had their panties in a bundle because they didn’t seem to have much organization.  We had three massage appointments and two masseuses available.  Unless Vancouver-masseuses had some magical technique where they could massage two people at once, it just didn’t add up.  Carla decided to sit this one out and headed to explore the other shops with Meg and Molls while Kates and I got some knots loosened.

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As you can see, the plush robes were nice.  I enjoyed them.  Kates and I hung out in the waiting lounge until the rooms were ready.  Our masseuses walked up and introduced themselves and led us both into the same room.  There were two tables there and candles lit.  Cue the romantic spa music.  When the masseuses instructed us to unrobe before they left the room to let us do so… we lost it.  #giggles  Apparently we’re getting a couple’s massage.  We shrugged and said, “whatever!” as we threw off our robes and hung them up behind the door.  Best friends for about 16 years… a little nakedness doesn’t throw us off.

Sixty minutes later, we gathered our clothes and settled our bill at the front desk.  The other girls were found noshing at a restaurant down the way.  They settled their tab and left.  We jumped on the underground subway in hopes we were heading in the direction of our apartment.  Only slightly turned around, we ended up walking quite aways.  Now the time is about 7:00pm and we are, surprise surprise, hungry.

That little spot located near our home base, Tap & Barrel, seemed as good a place as any to grab one last little dining experience.

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The sun was setting, the mood was positive.  We played another round of CAH while we sat on the rooftop and the day slowly turned to night.

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Our walk home  along the boardwalk of Olympic Village was gorgeous.  And humbling. We’ll miss this spot and all of our memories of Vancouver.
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Ciao,

xo

 

Listening to.

Dreaming of.

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Scottsdale : Monday

We slept in as long as we could before we had to get rolling.  Carley was the first flight out and we wanted to catch breakfast at Arcadia Farms first.  This sweet cafe is right out of Little House on the Prairie.  Wood floor, red doors, cute art on the wall.  It felt like going to a grandma’s house who knew how to interior decorate properly.

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photo 1-1In typical best friend’s fashion, we each ordered a Kir Royal to toast our remarkably great weekend.  While we recapped and perused the menu, our waitress dropped off a small plate of mini scones to nibble on.

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This was one of those spots where anything you ordered off the menu would be amazing.  I debated between the Fresh Berry Crepes and the Breakfast Panini.  The panini won: scrambled egg with rosemary ham and smoked mozzarella on a baguette.

photo 3-3Next, we had to hustle to make Carley’s departure time… never a dull moment!  Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is a city in itself, tons of terminals, north side, south side, ramps and overpasses.  Katie is a ninja navigating that space!

After dropping Carley off, we decided against our better judgment to a little hiking on Camelback Mountain in the 115 degree heat.  Plenty of water, working cell phones, crazy sports bra straps and sunglasses – we set off.  It got hotter and hotter as we climbed and pretty soon we made the executive decision that we were sweating faster than we could replenish with water, and that a descent was the best option.

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The rest of my afternoon, I dipped in the pool and packed up all of my things.  We stopped off at Sprinkles to pick up some goodies for the folks at home and I found my way to my gate.

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More than one time this weekend – Carley and I promised we would be back again next year for another long weekend in the hot box.  There’s nothing like 4 days with your best friends to really refocus on what’s important in life.  Friendships, memories, laughter, and not taking ourselves too seriously.

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Until next time AZ,

xo

 

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Scottsdale: Sunday

*life happened before I wrote the rest of this trips blog posts – back on the bandwagon now!

 

Wake up with a little boob sweat?  Sure!  Good morning Scottsdale!  We made an executive decision to skip working out today and instead, totally enjoy each other’s company and humor.  The morning started out with brunch at The Herb Box in Old Town Scottsdale.  The interior was terrific – I almost had the girl’s cause a commotion so I could pull that old-school bike off the wall and ride to 26th and Cactus.  The end goal to our Sunday morning : plan couple’s trip 2014 and get elevated.  Successful? Absolutely!

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Our server informed us there was bottomless mimosas available, to which we all agreed upon.  Pineapple, mango, pomegranate, orange and grapefruit.  Did he recommend trying them all?  Maybe even trying them all twice?  Yes, he did.  And yes, we did.  Between sipping delicious glasses of champagne and planning the first annual couple’s trip, we played this game we call Pretend We’re Fabulous Like Carley.  How do you play?  It’s simple.  Grab the sparkly diamond off of your best girlfriend’s ring finger and wear it while holding your mimosa.  Every girl’s trip, we all gotta try it on, daydream for two seconds that it’s ours, and then give it back.  Thanks for being such a good sport, Carla!

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To supplement the mimosas we shared three dishes.  One I cannot remember for the life of me, the other two were fantastic.  One the Bourbon-Ginger Peach Brioche French Toast and the other the Chilaquiles Verde.  Interested in salivating over their descriptions?  Read here.

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We spent about 3 hours planning, drinking, munching on some brunch, planning some more, laughing, taking pictures, and then drinking 3 more mimosas each.  We didn’t want to overstay our welcome…. ha!  So the next group activity was decided upon… pedicures at AZ Tips and Toes!

On the way we stopped at Sprinkles off Camelback Road and then had not one but THREE dance parties in the car.  The most memorable being the rock out to “Thrift Shop”.  After all that dancing, I may have fallen asleep in the backseat for one second…

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AZ Tips and Toes was the cleanest, nicest nail salon I’ve seen.  Totally bright, plenty of color options, and comfy seats to consume a Sprinkles Cupcake in, or lounge and fall slightly asleep in your mimosa-enduced stupor.

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The rest of the day we spent in the pool.  Avoiding any opportunity to stand for more than 5 seconds outside of the pool in the 118 degree weather.  We swam, we laughed, we continued what we do best : enjoying each other’s company.  Dinner was decided on the first day of vacation… none other than the infamous In’N’Out Burger.

photo 5-2The little dude that took our order was, hands down, the most precious little ethnic, Russian, Serbian, whatever country he hailed from.  For someone that works at a fast food joint and deals with drunk, high punks on the regular – he was too nice!  We wanted to stand next to him all night while he took orders just to make sure people were treating him right.

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Full on the best burger, fries and shake EVER created… the evening commenced with Cards Against Humanity and more laughter than I could handle.

 

laughter is the best medicine,

xo

 

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timeline creative

Drum roll… here’s my new Facebook timeline.  I really like to customize my messenger bags and iPhone cases when I can.  This particular photo is a mug of the house coffee brew at St. Francis in Phoenix, AZ. We enjoyed a relaxing brunch there on a Sunday morning.  Our second annual girls trip took us away for a weekend to Arizona where K is living.  (side note : we have a standing trip each year – girls vacation – and 2011 took us to the beautiful Monte Lucia Resort & Spa nestled on Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale.)

 

We gather from all over the nation (MN, KS, FL, AZ) for a weekend of debauchery, drinking, laughing, delicious meals, pool time, spas, and lots of sun worshipping.  These are a few of my closest and dearest friends on the planet.

M, R, me, C, K and M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The backdrop was a beautiful mountain, and one morning it rained – causing large puddles in the grass.  I choose the morning activity of dance-stomping in the rain puddles, at the base of a mountain, with all of my best friends as witnesses.

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It didn’t matter what time of day – we cheers’ed to friendship, life, love, the pursuit of happiness – every chance we got.  I’m a big fan of cheers’ing, toasting, acknowledging togetherness.  Starting with Iced Soy Caramel Macchiatos at the airport, and finishing with bloody marys and mimosas.

Tradition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s true when they say the greatest part about life are your experiences and interactions with people : your relationships.  I would be nothing without my friends.

 

Sleep tight,

xo

 

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