Love is in the Air

20180428_200534I love weddings. Maybe that is why I’ve had so many of my own.  🙂  All joking aside, weddings are great.  The love, the starting of new lives joining together, the dancing and of course cake! We were fortunate enough to get to be guests at two fabulous weddings  recently.  Both very sweet and beautiful.

I have always been a sucker for love and romance.  I was once told by someone that romance is not real and it is only something made up by books and the movie industry.  This individual said that romance is not part of real life and that fairytales and happily- every-after are what give people the wrong idea about what real life is all about.  I have to disagree with that.  I think that for some, it does take time to find that one person that is our true life partner, but once we find them, it can be life changing.  I for one have been through my share of relationships that did not work.  Luckily I did not give up on love and ended up finding that one person that I cannot imagine living my life without. As for romance, I do believe in romance.  For me, romance is not necessarily expensive grand gestures.  For me romance is something as small as knowing that he is thinking about me when I’m not with him and does something like stop on his way home from work to get food so I don’t have to cook dinner, or run that one little errand so that I don’t have to worry about doing it.  To me that is romance. I believe that romance is all relative.  For some people, maybe they do need expensive gifts.  For others like me, it is more having someone take the time to take care of me in some way.  I tend to be the “caregiver” in the relationship and try and take on the majority of the responsibilities.  So those times when someone else takes control and I can try and quiet my mind for a short time are truly amazing.  That is love and that is what keeps me connected.  That is what I consider romantic.

Although weddings come in all sizes, they all have the same intent.  To join lives with that one person you want to give your heart to.  That one person you hope to grow old with.  It’s really not about the fancy dresses or the expenses catering.  It’s about wanting to share with others how much we really love another person.

No matter how many beautiful weddings we attend over the years, my favorite wedding of all time will always be the day I married this man…..

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36 Days Until the Start of my Paris Adventure

pexels-photo-236514.jpegI wouldn’t be telling the truth if I didn’t say that seeing that 36 day countdown isn’t a little of an anxiety inducer.  Time has gone by so fast since I first found out I would be spending a month in France for work.  There is rarely a day that I do not have a crazy mixture of emotions about the whole experience.  I feel an enormous amount of excitement when I am doing research and making plans and yet, when it’s late at night and the house is quiet, I lay there thinking about leaving for a whole month and I feel the anxiety levels go up.

Today the emotions are more leaning towards excitement.  I just received in the mail my Paris Pass.  The Paris Pass is 6 full days of access to over 60 museums and monuments.  It also includes 6 days of unlimited public transpiration (Metro/RER/Bus) and includes a day on the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus, as well as a Seine River cruise.  Although I will be in France for a month, this pass is going to be very useful when my cousin arrives and we hit the streets to try and get in as much “tourist” type stuff as possible in the week she is there.  Not only does this pass save having to stand in lines for tickets, but at some museums and monuments, they have express lines where you get to bypass the queue and get in quicker.  Due to our long list of places we want to see, any amount of time we can save is going to be helpful.

So far our “must-do” list is pretty extensive.

  • Eiffel Tower
  • The Louvre
  • Notre-Dame
  • EuroDisney
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Sacre’ Coeur
  • Place de la Concorde
  • Luxembourg Gardens
  • Champs-Elysees
  • Montmarte
  • Pantheon
  • Latin Quarters
  • Musee de Cluny
  • Versailles
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Sainte Chapelle
  • Paris Opera House
  • Pere Lachaise Cemetery
  • Finding a specific yarn store to get yarn for my dear friend Chris    🙂

There are a few items that are on the “maybe” list.  One of those being the Catacombs.  I am not so much freaked out by the fact that it is undergrown tunnels full of human bones, but what does worry me is my claustrophobia.  It would be horrible to get down there only to have a panic attack because my claustrophobia decides to kick in.

Doing lots of research (and watching countless amounts of YouTube videos) has been helpful in making me feel brave now, but I worry that as soon as the plane lands and I try and venture out on my own (not speaking the language) that I am going to fumble my way to the hotel and lock myself in the room!  I have great plans and expectations in my head, but reality is often a lot different then the plans we make in our head (so I’ve learned the hard way in many other aspects of my life).  I cannot speak for my braveness on day one, but in order to “force” myself to leave the hotel room on day two, I already booked a walking food tour the morning of my second day.  It is a chocolate and pastry tour to be exact.  I know there is no way I will miss that.  Not only will it force me out to learn the Metro/RER system, but it will also hopefully give me some confidence in  ordering pastries and bread (which I plan to eat everyday as much as possible while I am there).pexels-photo-461060.jpeg

So, now that I have my Paris pass and I am partially through making itineraries and reservations (still underway, but almost half way complete), the next step is to try and figure out what to pack.  Packing for 28 days is going to be difficult.  Especially since I need to figure out how to incorporate relaxing clothes and work clothes.  This is going to be a challenge for me.  I know I am going to want to bring everything, but I need to keep it down to one suitcase.  Oh my!!

 

Our Santa Rosa, CA weekend

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This past weekend, we had a fun little getaway to Santa Rosa, CA.  We received a lot of questions and strange looks when we told people we were going away for the weekend and that our destination was Santa Rosa.  People did not really understand why we would plan a weekend getaway just an hour from home and also were very curious about what we planned on doing in Santa Rosa of all places.  My thoughts are that ANY PLACE can become an adventure if you have the right mind set.  For me, just getting away from the house and having time away from work and errands and responsibility is an adventure in itself.  We were only gone from the house for 30 hours, and yet, we came back feeling refreshed and decompressed.  It is not always important to go far away, but rather, just learning to enjoy the time away- wherever that may be- that is important.  For us, the weekend was fabulous and we were even able to have some new experiences along the way.

We started off the weekend checking into the Flamingo Resort and Spa.  We had watched one of those travel shows about a year ago where they showcased this historic hotel.  We thought it sounded interesting, and then I just happen to be checking Groupon one day and there it was!  So I quickly reserved a room.  The hotel is older, but nice.  The rooms were big and unique.  I have to say that I’ve never stayed in a hotel room with a front and back door, so that was interesting.  The hotel had a great looking spa with lots of massage and facial options (which we did not get to enjoy.. THIS trip).  Also a very large pool and a nice hot tub.  I personally love anyplace that has history, so I had a great time walking around the lobby where they had lots of photos of the hotel in the 60’s with Hollywood guests like Jayne Mansfield who used to frequent the hotel.

After checking in and getting settled, we ventured over to the Charles Schulz museum to get some history on the Peanuts Gang (admission was included in our Groupon deal).  We learned some fun facts about the creation of Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the bunch.  For instance, did you know that most of the phrases used in the Peanuts comics were actually things that Charles Schulz would say in everyday life.  It’s funny to imagine him saying  “oh, good grief” when he was frustrated, but apparently he actually did.  The best part for me however was the  actives room.  Granted, most of the things they had in there were for kids, but I didn’t mind.  I took a crack at drawing Woodstock (that did not turn out very well) and then made my origami Snoopy doghouse.  Which turned out great if I don’t say so myself.  Next door to the museum was the Snoopy ice skating rink for those into ice skating.  We passed on that.

The rest of the day and evening were spent exploring the area and of course eating (our favorite thing to do).  We did not make it over to historic downtown Sonoma, which I really wanted to do.  That will be on the list for our next visit.
So, that brings us to Sunday morning and the FABULOUS brunch at the Flamingo Hotel restaurant.  The price was super reasonable for a Sunday brunch and the food was fantastic.  We are already making plans to go back again.  I would say my favorite items were the made-to-order waffles, eggs benedict and the prime rib (so tender you could just cut it with your fork).  That being said, nothing compared to the biscuits and gravy.  One of my all-time favorite breakfast items.  The dessert table- although limited- was more than enough for us to get a few treats after our meal.  We ended up spending 90 minutes there sitting and enjoying the ambience and the mimosa’s.

Brunch was a great ending to a perfect one-night getaway.  Whenever we go on these little adventures, we spend so much time talking and laughing that it makes me wonder why we don’t plan more of these types of trips.  I guess sometimes the reality of life gets in the way of the more important things like making memories such as this.  I think it’s time to change that and spend some time reprioritizing what is a more valuable use of our time.  When I am older, I want to have way more “that was a great memory” and way less “I wish I would have” moments.

 

The Importance of the Weekend Getaway

IMG_4992Let’s face it…. life is hectic.  Between work, errands, time with family and friends, cooking, cleaning and the myriad of other things that require time in our lives, often times we put ourselves and our relationships  on the back burner.  I am a firm believer in the weekend getaway.  Just a place to escape for 24-36 hours where we can decompress and reconnect with the one we love (or simply zone out and forget about all we have on our to-do list back at home).

I find the best weekend getaways are the ones that are only an hour or two away from home.  Close enough that you are not in the car for hours and hours, but far enough away that you feel like you have escaped your day-to-day life.

I’ve found some of our best overnight getaways through Groupon.  This weekend our getaway is at the Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa in Santa Rosa, CA.  The resort is a Santa Rosa landmark.  Opened in 1957, it was once a hotspot for many in Hollywood as “the place to stay in the bay”.  It still holds much of its glamour and has a feeling of the old 1950’s summer resorts of the day.

From wine tasting during the day in nearby Sonoma, to dancing in the lounge in the evening, the Flamingo seems like it will provide just the right amount of entertainment and relaxation that we need.  From what we have been told, there is an  amazing Champagne Sunday brunch (one of the main reasons we wanted to stay at this location).

Wherever we end up, I love that life is always an adventure with this wonderful man beside me.  Our getaways are always full of lots of talking, acting silly, eating good food, but most important TONS of laughter.

 

Preparing for a Month in France

 

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Learning French

So, I think it is safe to say that there is no way I can master the beautiful language of French in the next 8 weeks.  However, what I can do is take some time to learn the most important basics of the language.  Things like “hello”, “goodbye”,  “please”, “thank you”, “how much does it cost” and “I would like a croissant”.    For myself, these 6 things should get me through most of my stay in France.
I have resorted to going old school and using flash cards.  Surprisingly, it is actually helping.  In the past week, I have been able to memorize counting from 1-10.  Am I pronouncing them all correctly?  Absolutely not.  However, from all the research I have done so far, it has said that if you at least “attempt” to speak the language, you are apt to get more help.  So, I may butcher one of the most beautiful languages in the world, but I will do it with grace and dignity (Oh, who am I kidding?  I’m sure I’ll be embarrassed as heck… but that is part of learning to live out side of my comfort zone I guess).

Research and Preparation

My trip is not for 8 weeks and 2 days (but who’s counting), yet I already feel completely behind in terms of preparation.  I normally have everything so much more under control.  When it comes to traveling, I am a fanatic on research, organization, pre-booking and pre-preparing.  I am NOT one for living by the seat of my pants.  For me, anxiety comes quickly when I am in a situation that has not been carefully thought through and organized full force.   Spontaneous?  That is not in my vocabulary.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do not find spontaneity a bad thing.  In fact, just the opposite.  I envy those that can just go with the flow and let life lead them in whatever direction it has in store.  My brain however does not like to play that way.  I do not do well with the unknown.  So anything that I can control ahead of time, helps to ease a lot of that anxiety.  My husband calls me a controlasorous. Very funny Don.

 Planning this trip however has been particular challenging.   This is my first international trip and to say I’m intimidated is a massive understatement.   The thought of just getting through customs and finding a taxi to take me to the hotel is overwhelming.  Then there is the language barriers to deal with for what should be simple tasks like checking into the hotel or figuring out the metro system.  I have to admit, I am not the bravest person.  Part of this adventure is to try and help me realize that I am capable of doing more then I believe I can.  Fingers crossed!

With all of that being said, being this is a business trip and I will be working a good portion of the time I am there, it is even more imperative that I keep focused on my planning and preparation.  Even 4 weeks in Paris isn’t a whole lot of time when you have to add work into the mix.  The next 8 weeks will be about making an itinerary, figuring out what to pack and trying to organize my thoughts to help me get through an 11 hour flight (I’m afraid of flying by the way… just to make things even more complicated).

Knott’s Berry Farm and Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel

 

I’ve already spent a good deal of time discussing the Boysenberry Festival, so I thought I would now spend a little time sharing our experiences at both the Knott’s park and our stay the KBF hotel.

I personally really enjoyed KBF.  Granted, I’m a sucker for wild west themes.  I love visiting all the old western ghost towns, so KBF is pretty much right up my alley.  Here you can ride the old mining train ride, be part of a train robbery and ride a stage coach.  For those wanting a little more action and adventure, they do have several of the larger-modern day rollercoasters as well.  Don and I were both very impressed by the Snoopy kid area.  There had to have been at least 15 rides for the smaller kids.  Definitely enough to keep the little ones entertained.  Spending such a significant amount of time at Disneyland, I’ve begun to be spoiled by the whole Disney experience.  I must say that the folks at Knott’s sure give Disney a run for their money (at least for our 1-day experience there).  Several times we experienced service that was above and beyond by the KBF employees.  One time in particular we were standing studying the park map (we are not regulars there, so I do not know my way around like I do at Disneyland), trying to find a specific area.  One of the workers walked up to us and asked if we needed help and guided us to where we were trying to get.  Definitely 5 thumbs up for that.  We were also pretty impressed with the merchandise pricing.  For instance, the boysenberry festival shirts we bought (which also came with a limited edition pin) were less than $15.00.  I’m sure everyone will agree that you cannot find clothing items at most amusement parks for less than $15.00.  Especially “special event” merchandise.

As for the KBF hotel. Overall, our experience was good.  The hotel is older and the rooms slightly outdated, which is not a big deal for us.  What is important is cleanliness, which the room was.  We opted to get the smallest room (just one queen bed), so the room was small but perfect for just the two of us.  I like to use the word “cozy” rather than small.  Bonus was that from our room to the park entrance was about a 5 minute walk (we love when we can just park the car and not have to drive). We purchased a package, which included the room for two nights, breakfast buffet both mornings, tickets into the park for one day, as well as a boysenberry festival food tasting card.  The price was great and so convenient to have everything included.  We are not normally breakfast people, so this was kind of a treat to get up and have breakfast each morning.  Our normal breakfast on vacations is a granola bar!  The breakfast buffet was very good with lots of options. Oh, and did I mention Snoopy walks around to say hello to everyone while you eat?  So, if asked, I would recommend the KBF hotel for sure.  The mere convince of location is worth the price.

It wouldn’t be a trip to Knott’s Berry Farm unless you eat some of the famous fried chicken.  The amount of food is generous to say the least.  We shared a 2 piece chicken lunch meal and it was way more than enough for the two of us.  Between the warm biscuits and chicken noodle soup for a starter, then the chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy with corn, we were both more than satisfied with our portions.

Stocking up on your boysenberry essentials while you are there is a must.  After all, Knott’s is the home of the boysenberry.  If you are a boysenberry fan like me, you will have a hard time picking just a few things.  Here is my loot from our trip.  I would have gotten more, but Don convinced me to save something for our next trip.  So next time I will try the boysenberry bbq sauce, boysenberry dressing and boysenberry butter!!IMG_4687

I’m adding these photos just for fun.  Sometimes Don thinks he is so funny.

 

Boysenberry Festival

Being a devoted Disney gal, I had some reservation about going all the way to L.A. to only visit Knott’s Berry Farm. After all, we would only be miles away from Disneyland!! That being said, I must admit I had a fantastic day today enjoying the boysenberry festival. The festival itself was great and we enjoyed spending a day at Knott’s Berry Farm which provided a completely different feel and experience than Disneyland.

Part of our package includes the tasting card. Which I will say I highly recommend. There are 8 different boysenberry inspired foods (there are many other boysenberry foods throughout the park, but these are the highlights of the festival). The card has 8 tabs which you remove and use to pay for any of the 8 items listed on the card. You have 8 tabs, so enjoy one of each, or if you really enjoy something have it multiple times. We hit them all. Here are some photos of our culinary boysenberry journy.

 

Everything we tasted was great. These were just our favorites. We would share each of the items and the portion sizes were more than enough to make us feel satisfied.

We also ventured out and had a few items not on our tasting card. A little boysenberry ginger ale and a very yummy peanut butter chocolate cup filled with boysenberry jam. Both fantastic. 

So would I recommend a trip to the boysenberry festival? Absolutely!! We will be back next year to do it all over again for sure.  A big thank you to my wonderful husband who let this be my day and let me choose everything we did and everything we ate. The day was perfect.20180318_101105