Monday, July 27, 2015

California Love, Day 2.

Day two of the California adventure was a more laid back one without quite as much excitement throughout the day.

I had a business lunch with the VP of the engagement ring company I was working with, so with Anthony in tow, we met in Monrovia, California at Bella Sera for lunch. Because this was my first solo lunch out with the VP (and his wife, and Ant), I wasn't about to take food pictures, but Bella Sera is incredible. If you are ever in the Monrovia area, it is so worth a visit. Delicious Italian food, great salads, and a beautiful outdoor seating space. 

These are some pictures from my prior California trips, each which resulted in dinners at Bella Sera (I actually pushed for lunch there, so Ant could experience it). 

Monrovia itself is an adorable town, filled with little shops and restaurants, with the mountains in the background. Since Ant and I got to Monrovia early (we left Huntington SUPER early to try to avoid LA area rain traffic), we drove around and scoped out the neighborhood, which is filled with the cutest houses that are all so unique looking. We added this to the "definite contender" of places we could live. Huntington is still #1. 

After the business lunch, which lasted a considerably long time due to conversation about how we met, how the VP and his wife met, on top of the normal discussions about business and the training, Ant and I headed back to Huntington in the early evening.

It was the perfect night to head to Sandy's, a restaurant level with the beach, so if you sit in the glass enclosed area, you are literally looking out onto the sand, pier, and water. It's pretty special. 

Sandy's skillet cornbread with jalapeƱo honey butter, along with red/white wine before digging in to dinner.

We timed dinner perfectly so that we could get out and walk the pier, and be fully prepared for sunset that night. California sunsets are honestly on a whole new level - the pier adds a whole new way to experience the sights and take it all in. 

We headed back to the hotel to grab an additional layer of clothes before then heading back to the beach AGAIN to truly capture the sunset.

After "the boss" was satisfied that he effectively captured the sunset, we walked back over to the hotel to drink some beers by the outdoor fire pits at the Shorebreak, and then turn in easy. A big thing we tried for on this trip was NOT to get adjusted to California time since we were only there for 4 days, and that would be brutal to come home and have to switch back to East Coast time. Unfortunately this meant our bedtime was usually around 8:30 PM, but that also meant we were up very early each day to fully take advantage of the day. 

The next day was the most jam packed, and I had to work that morning, so the early bedtime was our best bet, despite wanting to stay up to do EVERYTHING we possibly could. 

These are Ant's pictures from his Nikon from this day (and one from the day prior). I don't mean to gush, but the guy is so talented that I cannot even handle it (I know I may be biased here).

How do you adjust to jet lag or time differences during short trips? 
Are you a planner when it comes to vacations, or do you wing it in terms of what you do during the day?


Sunday, July 19, 2015

California 2015 - Day 1

The last time I had been to California was in 2006, going to San Francisco with my family to visit my dad's college best friend/roommate. Because of college, busy schedules, and then work, my family never got a chance to head back out to California together.

As of 2015, I have been to California three times on three separate business trips. I was tasked to work as the corporate trainer for one of my company's accounts, an engagement ring company based out of California, with locations spanning across the West Coast. 

Traveling for work is fun when you're with someone, and luckily for two of the California trips, my coworkers accompanied me, and since she had this account for over ten years, she knew all the places to go for once our work was completed. For each trip, we stationed ourselves in Huntington Beach, which was the most centralized location to be able to travel all over the LA area in one hour (without traffic...which obviously never happened). 

Like I said, traveling for work when you're with someone is fun, however that was not always the case, as I spent days in Arizona alone, as well as separate trips to Texas completely by myself, and on weekends, since that was the only time that I could train the entire staff. It gets lonely eating by yourself, moving from hotel to hotel, and being cut off from everything going on back at home. 

When I found out I'd need to make another return trip to California, this time without my colleague, I decided that Anthony should tag along with me. Not only would that allow me to use the HOV lane on LA's many freeways, but it would give me company, and give Ant a chance to get out to the West Coast, where he'd never been (with most expenses paid by my company, since they had to already pay for my hotel, rental car, meals, plane ticket). We booked with no problem, luckily got seats on the same plane (next to each other - not always that simple), and Ubered to California at 5:30 a.m. 

Ready to go - Ant's first trip to the West Coast, and longest flight ever. 

Again, Huntington Beach was the destination to get settled in. We arrived to LAX on a beautiful cloudy day, and just as we got to the rental car place, it began to downpour. This required a two hour wait at the rental place, which thankfully still put us on the 405 by 2:30 PM, with time to beat traffic (though rain in LA caused some slight traffic issues - which Ant was BAFFLED by, even working in NYC). 

We checked into our hotel, the Shorebreak by Kimpton, my favorite place to stay in HB. At this point, it was pouring and we were absolutely starving, so we headed to Sancho's Tacos which is right off the PCH, and within walking distance to our hotel. This was my go to for other trips, and I still think the tacos are the best I've ever had. Plus the inside is really cool, so it makes for a great first stop. 

Somehow when booking a room, I lucked upon selecting one that delivered two local HB beers to our room. They were both DELICIOUS, and it was such a cute treat, and is another reason why I love the Kimpton so much. If you've never stayed in one, they're all boutique hotels, and no two are the same. Each one has decor tailored to that specific region - so since Huntington is so surf focused, the entire hotel has a surf theme, with gorgeous black and white photos of surfers and waves, boards everywhere, and rooms with showers big enough to fit a surfboard. Such a cool place to stay, and so tailored to the area, which gives it a great vibe. 

After eating and settling into the hotel, we looked outside and saw that the rain had let up, so we decided to venture out and walk the pier that Ant had heard me talk so much about (and go on Insta overload with). 

After watching the surfers and hanging out at the pier, we realized that the sun was here to stay. Ant wanted to head back to the hotel to grab his Nikon, and I couldn't be happier that we did the back and forth, since this was waiting for us as soon as we arrived back at the pier:

We spent the rest of the night at the pier, and down by the beach, with Ant snapping away and both of us taking in the California sun.

I take this shot in some form on everything single HB trip, this one being no exception.

I think we ended up going to bed by 7:45 PM local time, as the long day of travel was absolutely exhausting, but I was so happy that we got to see more of Huntington than just the hotel. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Transitioning, Interior Decorating, and the Unforeseen Benefits of a Bottomless Brunch.

I'll start by saying (which will be repeated FREQUENTLY) how much I missed all of you. My life has been in a bit of transition, paired with my computer finally breaking down, and not having the energy to buy another. The changes have been good, but I didn't want to half ass blog posts, so took a hiatus. That said, I missed reading what you all were doing, and will do my absolute best to get back into it! 

All it took was a drunken (autocorrect actually changes that too drunk enough, which is kind of fantastic) conversation to set in motion a completely new chapter in my life. 

Back in March, Anthony and I went to a bottomless brunch in Hell's Kitchen with another one of our close couple friends to celebrate the first day of spring**, on ironically a very snowy and cold day.  

**This was just a coincidence, we wanted to day drink. 

After bottomless mimosas, vodka seltzers, bloody Mary's, and beers (between the four of us -- I stuck with the mimosas), we headed back to our friends' apartment... And by headed I mean stumbled, where we decided we needed more drinks. 

During that time, our friends, who live together in their HK apartment asked the two of us - sneakily and separately - why we weren't moving in together. Both of us pretty much said the same thing - we weren't sure how either parents would react (we come from two sets of more old school families), and I wasn't sure he'd want to leave Hoboken, while he wasn't sure that since I own my place, if he could bring up moving in without it seeming opportunistic. 

In the end, on our drunken Uber ride home, Ant and I ended up talking about what was said - both of us said that we would love to live together, but had been too afraid to talk to the other about it. It was then decided that a drunken conversation about living together didn't necessarily bode well, so we agreed to pick up the conversation again in the morning (side note - benefit of day drinking: at this point, it was 8 PM, so we went to bed by 9 and slept through any possible hangover).

Both of us woke the next morning, terrified that the other had been a bit too incapacitated to think properly, so we were treading very lightly in regards to bringing up the conversation again. Once the door to the conversation was open, we both agreed that moving in together was what we wanted.

Shortly after that, in true Type A fashion, the two of sat together, legal pads in hand, and mapped out the finances, and who would be responsible for each aspect of the bills. It was a simple discussion and everything fell together quickly, which has definitely become the way that the entire move in process has been - seamless. 

From there, we each told our families, and to our surprise, we were met with enthusiasm and happiness over this huge decision. Another seamless transition, and one that really set everything in motion. 

We then felt more comfortable with discussing changes to blend our lives together, including getting a new sectional couch, versus the couch and loveseat that I had since buying the place, which turned into Ant building a new coffee table, buying new lamps, hanging things from his apartment into "our" apartment, and him building a desk (still in progress).

The progress, piece by piece. 

Lamps in boxes, chairs how they were for forever, old rug, but new beautiful coffee table made by Ant. 
 Lists and legal pads.
Boxes everywhere, pre shelf assembly.

 Car tetris, where we had a slight panic attack thinking bedroom furniture wasn't going to fit. 

Right after the new couch was delivered! 

I apologize for the slant - was trying to get everything in to one picture! (Ant's brother in law and basically all male friends are making fun of him for those letters, but I love them, and hello - blending). 

I have also compromised, since there are now swords hanging, a TV in the bedroom (only with Apple TV though so we don't hibernate there forever), and currently there are boxes scattered EVERYWHERE - but we're making it work and I love how it's all coming together.

We've been living together for about a month now, and there have bee adjustments, but we're making it work and taking everything in stride - swords on walls and all. 

For the entire time that I was living in this building, I really didn't do much to the outdoor balcony space. Within a month of living here, Ant strung lights up and really made the balcony a lot more cozy. We're now in the process of looking for a new outdoor loveseat. 

There are still projects looming, but it's all coming together. 

The closet space is an adjustment, but is working out as best as can be expected in a small space.

Combining liquor = major advantage of living together (amongst many others).

Photo wall, coming together more and more.

And now, I have a set up space to be more on top of blogging! I've missed all of the wonderful people I've gotten to know and genuinely love through blogging. Bear with me as I settle back in to this new system. 

So moral of this story, is get drunk at brunch, because you could totally then transition that and move in with the love of your life. 

I've missed you all terribly - I promise to try to be more regular with posting and visiting your wonderful blogs.