Weekends, Waffles & Walks

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Lately our weekends have been on quite a routine: We wake up in the morning and I slowly mosey out of bed while Benjamin is already halfway through a cup of coffee. This usually is followed by a proclamation how nice it is to sleep in and how much I love the weekends. What’s not to love about sleeping in and enjoying the sunshine?? Half an hour and a cup of hot tea later I’m ready to go.

I’ve been loving our walks so we make it a point to go for one every Saturday and Sunday morning. Breathing in the sunshine and salty, fresh air is beyond refreshing after a long week of work. While we are living here we have to take advantage of being able to do things like walk to the beach and enjoy this town. I remind myself every time we’re down on the beach that people come here on vacation and we’re lucky enough to live here.

I write this just as I’m taking my last few sips of tea. And just like clockwork, we’ll head out and do the same thing again today. And I couldn’t be any happier!

Happy Saturday!

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A Chocolate Date

One of my favorite parts about moving is finding new places to explore. The idea of being somewhere new excites me so much because I feel like I have this mental (sometimes even physical) list of places I’d like to go or things I’d like to try. I’m sure that a part of that is my upbringing. We were always traveling, seeing new cities, experiencing different cultures. The idea of being in unfamiliar territory can be daunting, yes. Especially, if its WAYYY out of your comfort zone. But, I haven’t experienced any of that here. In fact, I’ve enjoyed finding new “places”. I think that we, as humans, can tend to get caught in the routine. This is the day to day and these are the things we do and the places we always go. And that’s cool. But doesn’t anyone yearn for something new? fresh? exciting? or just plain different?

It’s one of the many reasons I love Benjamin. He’s always taking me to places I’ve never been, or along for the ride when I want to explore around town. I can almost guarantee that a day doesn’t go by where the words “Oh! We should try that” or “Let’s go there!” don’t come out of my mouth. Don’t get me wrong, we have our routines too. We watch an episode of Suits, every single night. Our favorite restaurant is in San Francisco. Of the hundreds (or thousands?!) of restaurant in the city we pick the same one every time. And you know what? We order the same exact thing every single time. How boring, right? But, we love it so much that its become a tradition. And if you’re really lucky we may even tell you where in the city that favorite Italian restaurant of ours is.

Monday night, after eating dinner while in the middle of watching Suits (see, I told you) we both made mention of wanting dessert. Of course, there was no dessert to be found in this little apartment of ours. So, we went on an adventure and ended up downtown at a Chocolate Bar. Yes, that’s right, a CHOCOLATE BAR. It took me, little miss indecisive, over 10 minutes to decide what I wanted. You’d think that with a ton of chocolate in front of me it’d be easier to decide. Nope, it’s harder. We enjoyed our decadent goodies before taking a stroll through downtown on our way home. It makes me wonder why we don’t do this more often.

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A Very Merry Christmas Indeed

Wow, what a busy few weeks it has been. I’ve been working nearly 30-35 hours a week for the past few weeks and while I love the paycheck, the time off for the holidays has been a welcome rest. On Monday, Benjamin and I celebrated our first “anniversary” of dating and after work I was whisked away to a surprise night in San Diego. He had planned a sweet date of dinner and ice skating for us. We walked around Horton Plaza and then headed to the Gaslamp district to find a restaurant for dinner. We perused the streets and browsed a few menus before I found what exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for. Fries. Not just any fries though. I was immediately sold on this swanky little place that had duck fat fries. Since first trying them at a Restaurant in Denver, Colorado I’ve been hooked. Unfortunately, the steep entree prices of $30+ wasn’t quite what we were looking for. Too expensive! Benjamin said. But, they have duck fat fries here! Viktoria said. So, we headed to Yelp in an effort to find another restaurant that also served duck fat fries. Our search ended us at a sports bar called BarleyMash. We didn’t quite realize it until we sat down to check out the entire menu, which we quickly glanced over before entering, but they do in fact not serve duck fat fries. Little did we know, we were in for a treat! The waitress explained that everything on the menu is organic or locally grown and freshly prepared. Being the foodies that we are we couldn’t make up our minds and ordered two entrees to split between the two of us. I like to say we but really it was just my indeciveness. Luckily, Benjamin is an easy man to please when it comes to food so I was able to talk him into it. And really, what guy doesn’t want to be talked into gooey mac and cheese topped with bacon and ranch, and a delightfully greasy cheeseburger on a beer-battered bun with fries. I know it sounds like the furthest thing from romantic but we had such a blast and the food was out of this world!!! I absolutely can’t wait to go back. The best part? Even with his beer our bill was just over $30. Granted the football game was a little bit distracting but man, you’d easily pay double what we paid for that kind of deliciousness in a fancier setting. We explored the area a little bit more and planned to head back to the ice skating rink. By the time we got there we were both so stuffed and tired that we ended up being lazy bums and going home. We do, however, plan to make that up soon!

The next day, Tuesday, was Christmas Eve which is when my family and I celebrate Christmas. In the morning we made a quick stop at Benjamin’s family friends Gene and Beth (the ones that joined us for his swearing in here) to wish them a Merry Christmas. Afterwards, we scoured a few grocery stores to find two Julian pies that we were bringing to my parents house for dessert. We were smart to bring two because they didn’t last more than 24 hours. It was a whirlwind of opening gifts before we finally settled down for dinner. Everyone seemed so pleased with all of their gifts, especially the dog who was literally jumping up and down for joy with his new squeaky toys. Our Christmas tradition is to have fondue for dinner so that’s exactly what we did. The cheese fondue was quickly devoured followed by a simple broth fondue for meat. I do have to say that the leftover soup, which I had for dinner tonight, was one of the best I’ve ever had. By “cooking” all of the raw meat in the broth the night before it takes on the most intense flavor. I’m a little ashamed to admit that even after all of that we still had apple pie. I enjoyed every last drop. I think we all enjoyed just hanging out for the rest of the night before Benjamin and I were up again to take him to the airport at 5 am. He went to visit his parents for Christmas and unfortunately I wasn’t able to because of work but we are hoping we can both make it there next year. We relaxed and hung out for most of today before ending the evening watching the movie The Help. I sat cuddled up in my new fuzzy blanket drinking hot tea (mixed with a quarter cup of freshly squeezed orange juice and some honey, yum!) before heading off to bed. It may not seem like much but its those little moments when everything ordinary becomes exactly what makes you happy in life… the little bits.

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Shrimp-tastic

A few weeks ago I was perusing the internet, as I’m usually always doing, and I came across a blog called The Pioneer Woman. I kept thinking to myself: Why does that sound so familiar? After clicking around on her website I was practically drooling all over my keyboard just looking at the pictures of her delicious meals. It didn’t dawn on me until the next day while I was flipping through my usual channels on TV (HGTV, TLC, HGTV, Food Network, HGTV, ABC, HGTV again). Then I saw her! She has a show on Food Network also called The Pioneer Woman. Duh Viktoria. That week I ended up making one of her recipes for Benjamin and I, which we promptly devoured all 6 (YES, SIX) servings of. Since my aunt was in town last week and loves shrimp just as much as I do I made the dish again, but this time with a slight variation.

For the full recipe, check out the link: Penne a la Betsy but I’ll give a quick run through of what we did.

First, cook the pasta. We didn’t have any Penne on hand so I made Farfalle (bow ties) and Fusilli. Obviously, follow the directions on the box and keep the pasta warm.

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Meanwhile, I roasted some garlic in the oven and chopped a small onion.

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Heat equal parts olive oil and butter in a pan and quickly cook the shrimp. Make sure to not overcook them! Once cooked, pour them in a bowl along with all the yummy juices.

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Press the roasted garlic out of their shells and crush into a paste. Heat some more olive oil and butter in the pan and add both the onion and garlic.

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After a few minutes of sautéing add white wine and let that simmer. I underestimated the amount that I was making (double the recipe) and ended up having to switch to a larger pan at this point.

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Then, add tomato sauce and season.

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Next, add cream. I used half and half in an effort to make this dish lighter but I’m sure it would taste just divine with heavy cream. Make sure not to let the sauce boil after adding the half and half. I made this mistake the first time I made this and it ended up curdling. In the end it still tasted great, but didn’t look as good.

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Add basil. I would’ve preferred fresh but we only had dried on hand. Still, the world must go on…

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And finally, add the shrimp. Make sure to scrape out all of those yummy juices from the bowl, you’ll want every last drop!

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Lastly, toss the pasta in with the sauce and enjoy! Bon appetit!

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YUM!

Hang on to your mouth because you’re about to drool!

I was browsing around online earlier this week and came across a site called Skinnytaste. I’ve clicked through countless pages of recipes, and am still clicking and saving along the way. I have a list about THIS long now of things I want to try. Benjamin was nice enough to make one of the meals for us earlier in the week. Eating healthy was a big concern of mine before we came out to Hawaii. I wasn’t sure how we were going to do it. Benjamin came out about a week before I did and was told to report to me what our living arrangements where going to be like. You can’t imagine my joy when he sent me a picture of a full kitchen. You see, our temporary housing was only supposed to have a fridge and microwave. A full kitchen makes a big difference. Granted, its an outdoor kitchen, and pretty poorly stocked but its ok. We bought some dishes from Goodwill and have been making do with that. I’m just happy that we can cook our own food.

I have a very sensitive stomach and have to make sure I’m eating as wholesome as possible (i.e. no preservatives, additives, high fructose corn syrup, etc.). Ideally, everything I eat should be as pure as possible. So for example, if I wanted to eat a roasted chicken it’s ingredients should be just chicken, oil or butter, spices, and some chicken broth for gravy. It’s shocking how much crap goes into all the food we eat, but that’s a whole other can of worms. But, if you are interested the book Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser is a great read. His writing is objective and informative, much different than Morgan Spurlock’s movie Supersize Me. Everyone’s response is usually the same when I suggest the book: “Oh yeah, I’ve seen the movie, the Supersize Me one.” Let me tell you that this book is far better and explores in depth the awful stuff we put in our food. Eating healthy can do MILES more for your health and weight loss than any diet program.

Back to where I was. Yes, the chicken. I’m so sensitive to these additives that I can get a serious stomach ache if I happen to eat them. My mom bought a roasted chicken from Albertson’s a few months ago, which is a rarity because she usually makes her own. She was saying how delicious it was and what an easy meal it is until I picked it up and started reading the ingredients to her. You really don’t want to know. Next time you’re at your local grocery store though go ahead and pick up a roasted chicken and start reading the ingredients, you’d be surprised. (One exception is Whole Foods, last time I checked their chicken was good to go). I always make it a point to know what I’m eating and how my food is made. By no means do I eat super healthy though. I’m an extremely picky eater. Like, REALLY picky. There are a total of about 3 vegetables that I’ll eat. And I’m a total carnivore and carbo-holic. My favorite foods are high in fat, carbs, and sugar. Or probably all three. But, I just can’t say no to pasta drenched in a luscious cream sauce. Or donuts…

Needless to say, I was so thrilled to find this site. There are so many healthier options of my favorite foods and even more of foods I want to try. She has recipes for everything from green smoothies to martinis, salads to desserts, thanksgiving to cinco de mayo, and so much more. We’ve only had the Chicken Rollatini with Spinach alla Parmigiana but will definitely be trying much more in the very near future. You’ll see I’m a little obsessed with chicken and shrimp. Any of the chicken recipes could easily substitute turkey breast as well, another favorite of mine. Keep in mind that I’m not a fan of vegetables, but she does have a million options (maybe not literally, but a lot!) if you do like them. Here are some of my top picks:

One of the best parts is that she includes nutritional information with her recipes. So you’ll know how many calories are in what you’re eating, along with protein, carbs, fiber, sugar, and sodium. For anyone in Weight Watchers, she also includes their points system.

Let me know if you try any of the recipes!

The Best Mexican Food Ever… In Hawaii

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Oddly enough, I was not in the mood for Mexican food at all. I really wanted to stop by one of these food trucks to fulfill a serious shrimp craving. But, per Benjamin’s suggestion we ended up at Cholo’s Homestyle Mexican Restaurant in North Shore and I couldn’t be happier about it. This place more than hit the spot! I loved everything. The colorful decor (for sale) and brightly painted walls were just my style. I had my eye on one of four tapestries hanging on an adjacent wall, though I’d take all four if I could. The smaller ones were going for $115, something I couldn’t quite justify. I definitely added them to my mental list and hope that when I’m able to get myself to Mexico (I’ve never been!) I’ll be able to get my hands on my own handmade Mexican tapestry. Decor aside, the food was delicious. We each enjoyed a drink: a beer for him and a tropical margarita for her. Good choices for washing down our shrimp burrito and shrimp taco salad (pictured).

Bread & Breakfast

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A quick hello and outfit post from this morning’s scrumptious breakfast. We discovered a new place called Moke’s Bread & Breakfast. Right when we arrived a huge rain storm hit. Well, not right when we arrived. It started when we were crossing the street to the restaurant. A few seconds later we would’ve been soaked! If you know me you know I love storms so I was a happy camper watching the rain pour. So, about the pancakes. These things were smothered in a sweet passionfruit sauce, homemade whipped cream, and orange zest. Delicious!

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Dress: H&M Vest: H&M Purse: J.Crew Shoes: VC Signature Jewelry: Twig & Willow

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And the damage:

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