I spent my holiday vacation back home in San Diego making memories with family and old friends.
Just after Christmas, my cousin and her family were involved in a devastating house fire that took the life of her daughter and everything they owned. It has been a difficult year for my family in general, and this tragedy solidified 2015 as the worst year ever! Hopefully 2016 is kinder to us all. A friend of the family set up a GoFundMe account if you would like to make a donation to help.
My dear friend, Jay, also lost his mom over the holidays, and I met up with him and friends I haven’t seen in forever at her memorial. I love seeing these guys, because no matter how much time has passed, we can all still pick up right where we left off. The highlight of my day was when Pammie and I walked into the chapel and Jay’s brother greeted us with arms wide open and a simple, “Bitches.” Classic Rome. Jay trying to give me dating advice was a very close second. The lowlight of my day had to be when my ex-boyfriend brought his fiancé and his parents to the memorial, and all I brought was my extra holiday weight. LOL. Just kidding. (I brought my sister, too.)
My resolution this year is to be better about staying in touch with family and friends. I have a tendency to close myself off, and I’m trying to work on that. You really never know when you’re going to lose your loved ones…
We were watching TV at my mom’s house over the holiday, and right after they showed this part, my aunt paused it, turned to me with a concerned look on her face, and was all like, “You know you can talk to me, right???” I meannnn.
FOR THE COOKIES:
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
FOR THE FROSTING:
1 (8 oz.) bar cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted in the microwave or double-boiler
2 tsp. orange extract
3 cups powdered sugar
FOR THE TOPPING:
1 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1/4 cup white chocolate chips, melted in the microwave or double-boiler
TO MAKE THE COOKIES:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt until well-blended. Set aside.
Using an an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and the eggs one at a time, beating in between to incorporate. Then reduce the speed to low, and slowly add in the dry ingredients. Increase the speed to medium, and continue beating until well-combined. Fold in the white chocolate chips and cranberries, and mix until just-combined. (Do not overmix.)
Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour. Then place dough by rounded tablespoon-fulls onto a baking sheet that has been prepared with parchment paper, at least 2.5-inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden around the edges. Remove pan, and transfer the cookies to a cooling rack until cool. Repeat with remaining dough until all cookies are baked. Wait until cookies reach room temperature before adding frosting and toppings.
TO MAKE THE FROSTING:
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the cream cheese and melted white chocolate until combined. (**Be sure that your cream cheese REALLY is at room temperature before adding the white chocolate. Otherwise the chocolate could seize up.) Add in the orange extract and mix until combined. Then reduce speed to low and add the powdered sugar. Mix until incorporated. Then use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat once more for 1 minute on medium speed until the frosting is smooth. You can add more powdered sugar for a thicker frosting.
Spread the frosting on the cooled cookies. Then immediately sprinkle the frosted cookies with the chopped dried cranberries. And use a fork to drizzle on the frosting, swishing it back and forth over the cookies.
For Friendsgiving this year, I made an oxtail ragu that would bring you to your knees. It took me five hours to cook, and I didn’t finish until three in the morning! It was worth it, but I’ll probably never make it again (just like the chocolate babka I made in 2012). I hope you enjoyed my tender meat, because that’s the last time you’re ever gonna eat it! Ha.
“The cure for anything is salt water—sweat, tears or the sea.” (@ McWay Falls)
It’s impossible to capture the beauty that is McWay Falls in a photograph (we came back three times to try!). It would have been perfect during magic hour, but we opted to test our friendship instead at Pfeiffer Beach. More on that below! Ha.
Across from McWay Falls, we stepped into this magical forest where we were happy to have the sun on our face and wood between our legs.
Beer tastes better when you drink it in a river! Just ask this babe (@ Big Sur River Inn)
You can find this Spirit Garden, a breakfast pizza that tastes like heaven, donuts topped with more donuts, and most importantly, the only cell phone signal you’ll get for miles and miles here (@ Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant)
They say that “nepenthe” is a potion used by the ancients to induce forgetfulness of pain or sorrow… I should’ve had more of these! (@ Nepenthe)
“It’s only 2.3 miles,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said (@ Pfeiffer Beach)
We wanted to catch the sunset at the beach, but the parking lot was full. We parked on the main road with 40 minutes till sunset and started our 2.3-mile trek. It was all downhill from there (figuratively and literally). I was wearing boots that were def not made for walking! I tried to run in them, and my hip flexor failed me LOL. I arrived just after the sun disappeared below the horizon. Luckily, Shi’s hip flexors worked perfectly fine, so she made it there in time and was able to snap this photo. After the sun set, we had to hike those 2.3 miles back uphill to the car. It was pitch black. Every tree looked like a bear. We were legit scared. And cold. And my phone was dead. We had brought scarves and beanies and portable battery chargers in preparation, but they were all in the car! We are the worst road trip duo ever, and it’s a miracle we made it back home alive! Ha.
I caught up on seven episodes of How to Get Away with Murder with Pammie over the weekend. I’m dying to know what happens next, but I never watch this show by myself because I get too scared. I can’t wait till I’m home for Thanksgiving to find out who shot Annalise, so someone please come over when the new episode airs this Thursday!
Spoiler Alert: There will be frozen salmon from Costco (it’s the only thing I keep stocked in my fridge because holiday weight) and me with no pants on.
My trip was cut short due to my grandma’s passing, and Anthony had the time of his life those first few days without me. He hit up the Dirty Sixth with Austin locals he made friends with and ended up giving one of them my Friday wristband. They saw all the bands I wanted to see. I’m bummed I missed Tame Impala and Leon Bridges among others, but luckily I didn’t have to wake up at an ungodly hour on Saturday and wait with him in that 4-hour line for Franklin. Day-old brisket reheated in a hotel microwave and eaten in my chonies still tasted better than any BBQ I’ve ever had in California!
I flew in Saturday night and met up with Anthony at an Irish pub downtown. Fado is the official US soccer bar in Austin, and it’s surrounded by gay bars on 4th Street. My uber driver was convinced he was taking me to see my gay friend once I told him where I was headed LOL. I mean, it would explain so much… After US lost to Mexico, we hit up Firehouse (a cool little speakeasy inside a hostel) and Rainey Street. I loved, loved, loved it there. Rainey Street is a block of old houses converted into themed bars. We stayed till last call, and all I remember from that night is a lot of Ludacris and stanky legs. You don’t realize how drunk you are until you’re walking the hotel halls in nothing but your dress slip looking for a beverage machine so you could wash down some tylenol at three in the morning.
We didn’t wake up early enough to stand in line for BBQ before the festival on Sunday, but we stopped by Torchy’s Tacos before we made our trek to Zilker Park. There was a lot of walking. Like. A LOT. Before, during and after the festival. In nearly 100 degree heat. And in sandals that had 0% arch support (but were 100% cute, obvs). This was definitely not Portland where we had a local friend with a car, ample public transportation, and weather that was 50 degrees cooler. The highlight of my day happened just before BØRNS’ set when the sun disappeared behind the only cloud in the sky for half a minute and everyone cheered. BØRNS, Sylvan Esso and Hozier’s sets were very close seconds. So were those two snow cones we each had.
Before I knew it, it was Monday and time to check out. Anthony hit up the gym in the morning while I stayed my ass in bed. We ate lunch at Valentina’s Tex Mex where Anthony had brisket tacos and I had a beast of a beef rib with the most beautiful smoke ring. We strolled down South Congress afterwards and drank micheladas for three hours at a bar inside Hotel San Jose. We got to the airport early to watch the Chargers lose, and I asked the TSA guy if the Starbucks was before or after the security gate. He ruined my mom’s life and told me that there’s no Starbucks at all, because Austin is all about supporting local businesses. I get a Starbucks mug for my mom whenever I travel, and she’s just gonna have to be happy with the mug I got her during my layover in Phoenix!
All things considered, I’m glad I was able to take a break from life and escape for a couple of days. I’ll def be back to explore this weird little town again.
When I was reading The Diary of a Young Girl in high school, I mentioned to my grandma that I wanted to visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Years later, she traveled to the Netherlands while visiting my aunt in Denmark and brought me back a souvenir from the museum. I couldn’t believe she remembered after all that time. My grandma was the most considerate and sentimental person I’ve ever known, and I’m grateful that she instilled her thoughtfulness in me.
She is the reason I have random notes in my phone that say, “christine garlic delight dip at del mar fair” or “anthony swagu stamp.” She taught me that even if people have everything, you don’t have to give them the world to let them know you appreciate them. You just have to remember the little things.
She is also part of the reason I have over 20k miles on my new car. I’d put a million more miles on there if I could drive down to San Diego and spend just one more day with her.
Rest in paradise, Grandma Julie. I love you more than my seemingly apathetic demeanor suggests. You know I don’t like to let them see me cry.
I’m doing it partly in preparation for all the BBQ and bad decisions I’ll be making in Austin next week, but mostly because I bet Anthony that I could lose twenty pounds by the time we went to ACL or I’d pay for his BBQ at Franklin. These last five pounds can’t be zumba’d off in a week, so I made a game-time decision to bring my juicer out of retirement yesterday.
I can’t wait to go on vacation! And also eat solid food again.
Mindy is back and still living my life, obviously.
I used to take Vicodin before getting a Brazilian (until I discovered the touch of an angel named Linda @ Viva Brazil – now @ The Wax Studio!).
I haven’t gone to the dentist in a year or two (or five). I used to buy groupons in lieu of dental insurance at my old job, and I had a habit of letting them expire before I could ever use them. I’ve had dental insurance for the past three years at my current job, and I don’t know what to tell ya. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
My mom and my sister visited me in LA this weekend, and we had Filipino, Chinese and Vietnamese food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And since that wasn’t Asian enough, we took pictures of our food and posted it on instagram.
At lunch today, our waiter told me he really liked my glasses when we first sat down, and later brought me some hot water, lemon and honey because he said he heard me sniffling. Deane said he wanted my dick, but I’m pretty sure he just wanted the tip ;)
I don’t know what’s sadder—is it that part of my job as a web designer at Skechers involves creating e-blasts for the cafe inside our office building (how else would you know that tomorrow’s special is chicken tikka masala?!), or that while googling BBQ photos to use for their 4th of July special, I immediately recognized this spread from Smoke City Market???
If you’re looking for the key to my heart, a platter of smoked BBQ beef ribs will unlock all the mysteries.
Highlight of my day: After lunch with my coworkers @ Pitfire, the cute cashier slipped me a free jumbo chocolate chip cookie on my way out.
I met up with my coworkers outside afterwards, thrust my cookie in the air and was all like, “FREE COOKIE, BITCHES!” Our excitement was short-lived, though. When we got back to my car, I had two parking tickets—one for an expired meter (my friend paid the wrong one) and another for not having a front license plate (I mean, if my car was meant to have one, it would have come with holes drilled in it).
I owe the City of Manhattan Beach $96 for that free cookie!
The last time Deane and I tried to eat Churro Borough, they sold out at the pop-up they were having at our beloved Ramekin (RIP!). Now that they’ve set up a brick and mortar at Ramekin’s old spot, they’re even more popular! Hopefully we’ll get to have churro ice cream sandwiches again before we’re on social security.