Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 Catch Up

2015 was a big year. 

I feel like that is something I say (and mean) every year, but this time I mean it in a less sentimental way and more of a "life is happening, this is undeniably milestone huge year for me." Why? Scott and I are engaged! And just to add a little more excitement to an already huge life decision, we also moved in together, I interviewed and received a new role at my company, my brother returned to college, and this summer was filled with more than a few trips. Apparently, I'm also one to end the year strong since this is being written on a layover in Miami airport waiting to get to Spain to visit my sister who is studying abroad.

This year has been on the of the best in my life. I've felt deliriously happy at simply decorating our apartment with Scott or watching Netflix's Jessica Jones on a Friday night in a place that embodies our present relationship and future marriage (12 month lease and 10 months to the wedding when signed!). There has been such a feeling of belonging in an adorable tiny apartment in San Francisco after all the years and different cities traveled to see each other.

On the other hand, this year has also seen anxiety for the first time as I realized that you can have too much of a good thing. Ends up moving and apartment hunting in SF (aka the hunger games), interviewing and then starting an advanced new job, planning back to back trips all summer and a wedding, plus processing the healing of a previous family emergency all at the same time isn't the most relaxing mental state. My 2016 resolutions now include enjoying all of the above, but winding down a little.

I've said it a million times before, but I use this blog as a journal. Every time I write a post, I always am amazed at how precious it is to look back and relive my favorite memories and trips or to see things that have totally slipped my memory. Which leaves me with the problem that I have an entire year of amazing memories, life steps, travels--and this my first blog post in months. Where to start? I've decided to get it on paper with the highlights below, but I'm holding myself accountable for bigger blog posts - specifically on all engagement, once in a lifetime memories. Stay posted!

Highlights of 2015:

- Scott's elaborate proposal at June Lake, CA. Home of our family's beloved cabin and and years of childhood memories. Fun fact, I also make the third person in my extended family to be engaged there.

- My grandmother threw me the most adorable and classy engagement party I could imagine. The craziest part? Her bride and groom signs for the chairs, hand monogrammed take out boxes filled with salad starters, and deck of card drink tags were all created without any knowledge of Pinterest. Those are some real life hosting goals.   

- My San Francisco friends who couldn't make the engagement party decided to throw a little one of their own a few months later! Another insanely well decorated party that ended up a little more tispy than any of us expected in the best way. 

- Wedding planning - it was a tough pill to swallow at first, but I am now loving it. Dates are set, venues are booked, and I have not 1, but 2 secret Pinterest boards in rotation. 

- Moved in with Scott and started with basically nothing--we were sneaking some plastic utensils from the grocery store for a few weeks there. Decorating has been so much fun, and I never would have guessed I would reach such high excitement levels about a rug at the ripe age of 23. But actually I promise, it's an adorable rug.

- I've been promoted! And it's hard work. I now have a lot more responsibilities and communication with clients, but I am excited about the step I've taken in content marketing while still keeping a foot in ad operations. 
Company holiday party

- Chicago (x2): One for work and one for play while visiting my friend from abroad! It also marks my first state in the midwest to visit.

- June Lake: girls weekend turned surprise proposal

- Hawaii: first annual girls trip! Also a new island to me since we stayed at Waikiki Beach which was determined by our group to be the Vegas of Hawaii. 
View from our hotel window

- Portland: Visit to one of my best childhood friends in her new city!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Brothers' first trip to SF!

Even though I have been living in San Francisco for almost a year now (!), my younger brothers had never been up to the Bay area. After hearing me talk about SF during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a weekend trip to LA in January, a sibling visit was overdo. My parents and brothers (Jessica would be flying up the next week) finally had planned a trip to see me over the President's/Valentines weekend. On that note, let's ignore how I'm writing this months later.. In true tech culture, I set them up with their first Airbnb and immediately started planning a weekend for the SF newbies.

My brothers and parents live for hikes, and I could not have gotten luckier with the weather. I knew rain or shine we would be outside exploring, but I was thrilled that the rain came the weekend before--leaving President's day 75 degrees and sunny. While my parents drove up that Friday, I worked from home/the La Boulange on my street and was lucky to finish up my work right as they rolled in to Inner Sunset at 2pm.

I joked that I was giving my parents the true San Francisco experience as they ordered lunch and coffees while I kept my laptop (complete with my tech company sticker) open at the coffee shop. I may have kept attacking my younger brothers with hugs and picture requests because I was so excited for them to be at my new home. After walking the few blocks back to my place, I gave them the tour of my apartment before heading out to explore the best part of my neighborhood --Golden Gate Park. We walked all around Stow Lake, hiked up to the top of Strawberry hill to get a view of the Golden Gate bridge, and kept walking for another hour or two until we got to the DeYoung Museum. I actually had not been before, but I was blown away by the top floor views of the city which was an awesome and free surprise. Our luck got even better when we realized that after 4:30 the art gallery is free for visitors. We browsed through the exhibits before walking back to my place.

After a quick break, the family met us back at the apartment to head to dinner. While I would usually take visitors to a nicer restaurant like Park Chow on my street or my mom to a more trendy venue, I ultimately decided to go for the more laid back option of Cybelles with a cute interior and simple food. The second my brothers got their hands on cheesy garlic bread I knew I made the right choice. We left full and with plans for an early start Saturday morning at Sutro Baths.

The last time I hiked Sutro Baths I immediately knew I had to take my my parents and brothers when they came to visit. Our hike took us from climbing on the ruins to walking the labyrinth at Land's End; down to the beach hopping on a makeshift driftwood seesaw to finally taking in the view and photo opportunities at Eagles Nest. 

 After realizing we had spent a few hours walking around and hiking it was (not so calmly/hangerily) decided it was time to head back to the car and grab lunch.

Since it was still Johnny and James' first visit to San Francisco, it was officially time to hit some of the touristy spots. First stop: off to Fisherman's Wharf to grab bread bowls from Boudin. I originally was not overly excited about the idea (I had a trendy brunch place more in mind), but I re-realized how exciting it is to be at Boudin for the first time. My brothers (true lovers of bread) watched the loafs made in the window, and Johnny bought a little turtle shaped loaf of sourdough for his girlfriend. We ate bread bowls and clam chowder in the sun until we were energized enough to start our hike up to Lombard Street.

While it may be the curviest street in San Francisco, it was funny to see my brothers so confused on exactly why it was so immensely popular. After long hike up with the dozens of other tourists, I can definitely say I that I have no answer either. Our next stop was a little more exciting to the crew, as we were just quick cable car ride away from Gharadelli ice cream sundaes.

Everyone left feeling full and tired after hours and hours of walking throughout the day (which my mom and her beloved fitbit can attest too). While we had big plans to meet up for dinner, once we got to our separate apartments it was game over. Scott and I ordered in Chinese food while my brothers and parents relaxed at their Airbnb and did homework.

I thought I had created the perfect plan for Valentines for Scott and I: late night reservations at Zazie for dessert. A cute, well known cafe near my apartment with late enough reservations to take into account my parent's visit. However, after getting all dressed up we arrived at the restaurant and quickly realized it was a very expensive prix fixe menu. Although a little disappointing, we walked back to my neighborhood, grabbed a pastry from an open bakery and headed to a bar for some drinks. A testament to my adorable ability to not double check details (one of my many endearing qualities), it was still a great and more natural end to Valentine's with the best boyfriend ever.

The next morning we were up bright and early to grab brunch. My parents had grand plans of spending the remaining part of the holiday weekend driving down the California coast, so they had to leave San Francisco early that morning. My Dad and Mom had one request for breakfast: Art's Cafe. They had both been on their last visit, and were excited to show off the small, one counter wide diner to my brothers. My brothers are not easy to impress, but they left promising me they had a great time and loved San Francisco.

My sightseeing, exploring, decision making, and entertaining duties left with my parents, brothers, and Scott that Sunday, and the pace of my holiday weekend turned from a whirlwind of adventure, laughter, bonding, and hangriness to a slow lull. The lively (and early) Sunday brunch morphed into long naps, an early dinner with friends, and Netflix in bed. Lucky for me, I still had one more activity planned to enjoy the Monday off. I met my friend Hannah the next day, for a picnic at Alamo park. While I strolled up to the grass, she had grabbed a prime spot in front of the painted ladies with a bag full of baguettes and bruschetta, salad, lemonade, and other goodies. We basked in the sun and lurked French bulldogs until we decided to stop at Birite grocery for San Francisco's famous BiRite ice cream. Tip: the Nopa location lines are only 5-10 minutes compared to an hour in the mission.

Just as the sun started to go down, the fog rolled in. Although I will always love sunny, hot days, there is a special charm to the SF fog coming right at the end of the weekend. It gives you time to bundle up, reflect on the amazing weekend, and feel a little less bad about spending the work week inside. Although, this weekend was months ago, my parents and brothers visiting was too great of a memory not to document and relive through blogging.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Adventures in the New Year

My big goal for the new year was to survive a crazy transition at work and to start taking advantage of living in San Francisco and Bay area more. It may have been a few late nights and some crazy schedules, but it's still been a great start to 2015:

1. While I've visited Scott's apartment in San Jose several times, I haven't done much exploring of the area. So when my grandparents asked what a good Christmas gift for him would be, I knew exactly what to suggest: two tickets to the Winchester Mystery House. It's a San Jose landmark, and something that Scott and I had contemplated doing for months. The first weekend we got back from our holiday break, we cashed in the gift certificates and took a tour. The house was designed by Mrs. Winchester who believed that if she ever stopped building, she would be haunted by all the people who died from the guns her company produced. It was the craziest house possible--doors that lead to two story drops, over a hundred small steps to go up one floor, and rooms with 4 exits but only one entrance.  It was a super cool tour, and a fun thing to check off the bay area bucket list.

2. Our company's annual rallying cry/celebration/look forward to the new year took place in LA this year. I decided to fly down a few days early so I could get a whole weekend with my family and friends. MLK weekend was filled with hiking, homemade food, and hours of watching Parks and Recreation with my Mom. Just when I thought my relaxing weekend at home couldn't be topped, I checked into a luxurious hotel downtown and met up with my coworkers. The whole event was planned with extraordinary detail, extravagance, and enthusiasm from a half pipe with BMX bikers at the dinner party to watching our CEO dance to Uptown Funk. To top it all off, one night may have ended past 4am at The Pantry eating late night bacon and eggs.

3. One of my Dad's Christmas presents to me was coming up to SF and painting my room. I was excited for him to see my apartment and my neighborhood for the first time, but if I knew what a difference he would make at my place I would have been jumping off the walls. He got in Monday night, so my Dad and I grabbed dinner with drinks, an appetizer of mussels, and delicious food at Park Chow before heading back to my apartment. I made up the couch (he's the first person to sleep on it and exactly why I bought such a large couch whee!) and headed to bed. I worked during the days and my dad would work on my house/explore the neighborhood/surf/keep the local Ace hardware in business while I was gone. After work we would have dinners at Crepevine, Marnee Thai, or grab pizza to take to the local bar before saying goodbye with brunch at Art's Place (which my Dad and Mom now love). I underestimated how much painting my room and the million of other fixes to my apartment would help, and I now finally feel like my room is a finished product and am proud of my apartment. I'm getting obsessed with fixing the rest up!

4. San Francisco is known for being a foodie city, and I definitely love all types of food. One of my New Year's resolutions was to explore more of the delicious restaurants and go on some food adventures. Brenda's Meat and Three was perfect meal out. It was a talked about restaurant, but small and down to earth, and most importantly delicious. They have a few things on the menu, but the best is a choice one of four entrees (meat) and 3 sides. 2 of my college friends and I decided to share two plates and ordered the fried chicken and BBQ ribs with roasted Brussels sprouts, Mac n cheese, sweet potato fries, cauliflower grautin, cole slaw, and red beans. Everything was unbelievable and the sides were just as good if not better than the meat itself. The best part is with a beer for each of us and a shared blueberry cobbler for dessert the whole meal came out to around $25 each. I'm already planning on taking Scott back to try it.

5. Scott and I went on an adventure to Ocean Beach and walked on the sand checking out the water--but mostly checking out all the dogs running around and wishing we had our own. From there, we decided to take the more complicated way to the baths and head up the dunes to Sutro tower for great views and a quick workout. Our only plan was to see Sutro Baths, a ruined pool house from the late 19th century, but it was such a beautiful place and weather that we continued exploring along the path for a few hours. We hiked the path from Sutro Baths to Lands End, and I immediately fell in love with it. I instantly made plans to take my parents when they came to visit, and have decided that I will make this a usual occurrence.

February brings a different type of crazy, but in the best way. All four weekends, I have visitors to San Francisco including family, a childhood friend, and college friends. It's a good thing I've been exploring so much lately because it's helping me plan fun weekends for the rest of the month!