scott’s birthday in san diego

This past weekend, Scott turned 28 and I took him on a surprise getaway to San Diego to celebrate! He knew that we were going on a long weekend trip but he didn’t know where we were going, what we were doing, where we were staying, etc. It was so fun to pack the weekend full of surprises!

We left on Friday night after work and flew down to San Diego. We went to San Diego last year as well (for Memorial Day) and I knew I wanted us to see a different part of the city this time, even though we loved having Ocean Beach as our home base last time. So, we stayed at an Airbnb in South Park which turned out to be a lovely, walkable neighborhood not too far from anything we wanted to see or do!

IMG_1931On Saturday, we woke up and went to brunch at Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro. This spot was yummy but we agreed most of what we ordered was way too rich. After this, we had “Scotty’s Choice” time (time I built into the trip with options for him to choose from)…and we wound up doing a bit of shopping at the Westfield UTC and then scootering and eating in Bird Rock! The weather was amazing and we loved Bird Rock—riding motorized scooters around multimillion dollar waterfront mansions is not something you get to do every day! That night, we went to dinner at a delicious Italian spot called Piacere Mio. It was clear this place was a neighborhood favorite—it was full of locals who knew the staff by name (a good sign)!

IMG_1944On Sunday (Scott’s birthday), I surprised him with the Bluegrass Brunch at Urban Solace. Holy wow—so delicious! We split a cinnamon roll (complete with a candle to blow out and a birthday tune by yours truly) and enjoyed bluegrass tunes by a live band on the heated patio. Scotty got steak and eggs and I presented him with his birthday cards: one from his parents (with cash to cover the brunch!) and one from me, revealing that we’d be spending the day at the San Diego Zoo! To say he was excited is an understatement.

IMG_2046IMG_1988IMG_1963We had the best time seeing the zoo. We went last year, but many exhibits were under renovation, so it was great to see the space in its prime this time around! Again, we were blessed with great weather. Our favorite animals were the baboons, orangutans, gorillas, and pandas. (Though all the animals were amazing!) There was one orangutan named Karen that had me crying laughing because she was putting on a show for us, rolling around on the ground carrying on right in front of us.

That night, after a much-needed nap, we went to the South Park Brewing Company for dinner and some board games. I crushed Scott in Boggle! Then we headed back to the Airbnb for some ice cream and Netflix.

IMG_2076On Monday, our last day of the trip, we kicked things off with a visit to Nomad Donuts. We once again rode some motorized scooters (so nice we did it twice) and enjoyed Vanilla Bean donuts. From there, we headed to Coronado to check out the famous Hotel del Coronado and dip our toes in the water. We took a drive around the island and had a good laugh looking up home prices on Zillow. (Fun fact: the house of my dreams was more than $6 million!) We started to get hungry for lunch, so we headed to SEA180 for an amazing, waterfront bite. We had the heated patio to ourselves and it was so serene and honestly, a perfect end to our weekend. We soaked in that time before heading back toward San Diego (we were only .5 miles from the Mexico border…). Since our airline sent us a notification of a flight delay while we were on the way, we had time for a quick stop at the Ballast Point Brewing.

IMG_2122A flight of beers later, our time in San Diego had come to an end. We headed to the airport, returned our rental car, and flew back to the land of fog and $5 toast…aka San Francisco!

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march in monterey

This past weekend, Scott and I took a little one night getaway to Monterey! We woke up early Saturday morning to hit the road and it was so worth it—we made it to Monterey before lunchtime and were able to spend the whole day and night exploring. We saw lots of gorgeous gardens and of course we ate and shopped on Cannery Row.IMG_9298One of the highlights was eating at The Fish Hopper. It is a waterfront (more like water-top…it’s literally on stilts over the water) restaurant right in the heart of Cannery Row and it was awesome! The food was delicious and the views from our table were spectacular. Even though it was a bit noisy for us, it was so special to have a fancy dinner together and watch the sunset over the Pacific right outside our window!IMG_4274IMG_6858Monterey is only about 2-ish hours from San Francisco, so the drive is really easy and doable. With that said, we knew we wanted to spend one night to really make the trip worth it. We stayed near the beach Saturday night and ate a delicious brunch Sunday morning at Wave Street Cafe. I’ve told Scott that we have to eat at this place every single time we come to Monterey in the future—it was that good! The french toast was the hit of the morning, though the eggs benedict was delicious too.IMG_5231We did a little more shopping and sightseeing on Sunday afternoon before heading back in the evening to San Francisco. It’s amazing how a little time away together out of the city makes us feel so renewed and upbeat! I’m already wondering when we can go back to beautiful Monterey…Scott and I agree June might be the perfect time, and I can’t wait!IMG_1459IMG_2908

tulips in golden gate park

IMG_1342One thing I didn’t realize until I moved to San Francisco is that sunshine is really important to me. I can’t believe I had to move to a city covered in grey clouds and fog (during June and July, no less) to realize this, but I guess I just took it for granted living in Florida and Tennessee. So, when sunshine strikes in San Francisco, I try to take advantage!

This weekend, Scott and I popped over to the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden in Golden Gate Park! We spent a lot of time indoors (seeing The Book of Mormon at the Orpheum and seeing Black Panther at our neighborhood movie theater) so the dose of Vitamin D was much needed.

The tulips were so vibrant and beautiful—I thought I’d share some photos here!IMG_1340

IMG_5070Golden Gate Park is one of those places that we always show to visitors when they’re in town. There is a main park entrance two blocks from my house! The park is full of so many different unique spots, including polo fields, an archery range, multiple gardens and windmills, several museums, a lake for canoeing, and several ponds. (Plus much more!) Golden Gate Park is actually larger than Central Park (fun fact) so naturally there’s always something to do.IMG_6616We are looking forward to many more Sundays to come in Golden Gate Park this spring!

gator gals (plus a seminole) in napa

I had my first Napa experience this past weekend, and it did not disappoint! My friend Jordan (from UF) and her sister Riley came out for a visit. They were staying with our friend Christina, who lives in Berkeley (just across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco). Another Gator, Natalie, came up from San Jose, and we all spent a fabulous day in Napa!

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We started the day at Darioush, which was basically a Persian castle. We explored the grounds and the tasting room but sadly didn’t make the cut for a walk-in tasting. No problem—we went on our merry way to Silver Oak!

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Silver Oak only makes Cabernet Sauvignon, so our flight of three was a whole lot of that. But they were delicious, and we enjoyed strolling around the vineyard (as you can see above)!

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By this point, it was lunchtime and we were HUNGRY! We headed to V. Sattui for a picnic lunch and bottle of rosé. A note to those visiting Napa—V. Sattui (on a weekend day) is CROWDED. They have a marketplace where you can buy fresh cheese, bread, deli meat, etc. as well as their wines—but being inside that marketplace made me feel like a toddler in the middle of Magic Kingdom. In June. Separated from my mom.

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Once we got out of the market, we were able to take advantage of the huge V. Sattui property and find some benches and a table to feast on our purchases. The grounds were honestly so gorgeous—full of vine-clad walls, fountains, and rose bushes!

Once we were stuffed full of charcuterie, we headed to Napa Valley Olive Oil for a tasting. This place was unlike the rest of Napa in that it was small, cluttered, and not immaculately kept. There was none of the flashy marble and elaborate gardens from the surrounding wineries to be found. But I liked it because of this—we were treated like family and we loved this little hole in the wall!

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Our last stop was at the Grgich Hills Estate. I was too full of wine, cheese, and chocolate to continue, so just Christina and Jordan did one final tasting here while Riley, Natalie and I read all about the winery’s history and sat in the garden outside. (We were tired!) Turns out, Mike Grgich is the oldest winemaker in Napa, at age 94!

After Grgich Hills, it was time to head back to Berkeley. I had to catch BART back to San Francisco, so I could meet Scott and friends for a concert! (It was a really ambitious and long—but fun!—day.)

Now that I’ve been to both Sonoma and Napa, I have to say—I think I’m team Sonoma. I tasted great wines in both areas, and Sonoma’s price tags were a lot more 25-year-old friendly. They also had a slightly more approachable, laid-back spirit whereas Napa felt pretty high end. Don’t get me wrong, Napa is beautiful and I’ll be back, but I just felt slightly more at home in Sonoma!

summer of love

I’ve been in San Francisco for nearly three weeks already! I started my job as a Recruiting Coordinator for a tech company on June 26 and the first two weeks have gone great. I even added my Florida Gators to the company alma mater wall already!

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For this first month and a half, I’ve been subleasing right near Haight – Ashbury. It’s been a blast to live close to good restaurants, supermarkets, and parks.

But, I needed to find something more long-term, and I finalized an apartment this week! I’ll be moving in with two girls in the Outer Richmond, super close to the beach and Golden Gate Park. It’s going to be quite a hike downtown for my commute, but luckily I will be super close to public transportation (and being just 8 blocks from Scott’s house will be really nice and convenient).

Speaking of Scott, we have loved our newfound ability to spend time together (instead of just FaceTiming) and we have already done some super fun things.

We’ve visited restaurants like Sakesan, Brenda’s, Barrel Head, and Sunset Reservoir. I also had the best cinnamon toast of my life at Trouble Coffee Company, an amazing milkshake at Calibur, and insanely delicious pastries at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.

A couple weekends ago, we went up to Sebastopol (in Sonoma County) with two of our friends, Eric and Kasey. They’re wine club members at Moondance Cellars and we had a great time visiting the winery with them. It was a gorgeous property and they even had horses!

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For the 4th of July, we drove down to Capitola (a cute little beach town in the Santa Cruz area). We left gray and dreary San Francisco only to arrive to gray and dreary Capitola—bummer! But luckily an hour or so later (after some shopping and walking around town), it was in the 70’s and brilliant sunshine. It was so hot, in fact, that I had to go buy a tank top because my light sweater was no longer comfortable!

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Capitola was super cute and family friendly. It reminded me a lot of the beaches along 30A back home. Scott and I will definitely be visiting this spot again in the future!

Looking forward, we’re visiting a restaurant this weekend (State Bird Provisions) that we’ve been wanting to try for a long time. We’re visiting Scott’s family in Denver the first week of August (and we’re seeing The Head and the Heart at Red Rocks). We also hope to venture north to a swimming hole, and go see Wonder Woman. (We saw The Big Sick last weekend and loved it!)

All in all I am loving San Francisco so far. I am still getting used to the weather and public transportation, but aside from that—California is being good to me!

i left my heart in san francisco

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The cat’s out of the bag—I’m moving to San Francisco in just a few weeks! Considering the fact that I visited the Golden State 7 times in the last 18 months, it’s probably no surprise that I’m making the leap.

There are so many exciting things about this move.

  1. It’s San Francisco.
  2. I’ll finally get to live in the same place as Scott.
  3. I’ll get to start a new job with new challenges and coworkers and projects.
  4. I’ll get to explore a part of the country I didn’t get to in my first 25 years living in the South.
  5. I’m going to get really, really good at dressing in layers.
  6. I’m going to eat so much good Chinese food. (And all kinds of food.)
  7. I’m fulfilling my goal for my 20s of living in different kinds of places and experiencing adventure!

I’ll be totally honest and say that there are a few scary parts about this move, too.

  1. I’m leaving behind a lot of wonderful friends and coworkers in Nashville.
  2. I’m moving ~2,500 miles from my family.
  3. I don’t have a job lined up yet, and it’s scary to leave behind a job without having a new one secured.
  4. The cost of living in San Francisco is high. You don’t have to tell me this—I’m aware!

Ultimately, I’m just so pumped to start this new chapter. Scott and I have been doing the long distance thing for about a year now, and while I love FaceTiming him at the end of each day, I’d much rather see his face in person! While eating Chinese food, wearing layers, and living in San Francisco.

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PS – I’m applying and interviewing for jobs now—if you work at a great company with an SF location, please give me a shout! Also, if you ever find yourself in the Bay area, you now have one more friend to call.

moss beach + santa cruz

Earlier this month, I visited Scott in San Francisco for a whirlwind long weekend trip. We spent time with friends (but mostly each other), hung out in Golden Gate park, and we took a super fun day trip, which I’m highlighting here!

We woke up early Saturday morning and went to Devil’s Teeth Baking Company for breakfast. The biscuits were insanely good, as was the cheese danish we split. (I may have eaten 70 percent of it, shh…) From there, we got on the road.

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Scott and I at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach, CA.

We drove down to Moss Beach, reaching Fitzgerald Marine Reserve right around low tide—perfect timing to check out the tidepools. We saw harbor seals just offshore, and in the tidepools we saw sea anemones, hermit crabs, etc.

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Tidepools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.

The forest on the hill behind the beach (shown in the top photo above) was equally as beautiful as the tidepools themselves. While much of the shoreline was closed off because it’s birthing season for the harbor seals, we really enjoyed the view from the top. (As you can see from the photos, it was quite chilly on this morning on Moss Beach!)

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Bundled up on Moss Beach! Look closely and you can see the harbor seals behind us.

From Moss Beach, we drove south on Highway 1 (my favorite) to Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is half hippie beach town, half college town. Scott has been a few times before and we had a great time poking around downtown in the shops, and then out at the amusement park on the beach.

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View from the top of the ferris wheel in Santa Cruz.

We shared a margarita before walking over to the boardwalk where we rode the ferris wheel, swings, and failed miserably at a milk bottle carnival game. I failed much more miserably than Scott, to be fair. Finally, we bowled a game (for our March date—blog post coming soon with more info on this) and shocked ourselves and each other with how good we were!

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On top of the world in Santa Cruz!

It was getting late—around 6 pm, and we needed to head back to San Francisco to go to a friend’s birthday party that night. So I convinced my man to get his best gal a coke and ice cream sundae from McDonald’s (#blessed) before we hit the road back north. Overall it was such a fun day, and we plan on having many more day trips like this to come!

i’ve got a crush

…and that crush is on the city of San Francisco.

I visited for about five days last week, and my goodness is that city my new favorite place!  I’d been once before, back in high school, but this trip was totally different.  Whereas previously my time had been spent taking in tourist attractions (you don’t have much say in itinerary when you’re on a high school church trip), this time was all about eating, drinking and wandering.  My kind of trip.

I arrived on Thursday morning, and immediately met my longtime friend Drew at Naked Lunch.  After a delicious lunch, he went back to work and I trekked to his place in the Marina.  (Here’s a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from his neighborhood…lovely!)

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I spent that afternoon doing a bit of work at his place, and exploring the area.  That night, we went out for dinner at a taqueria (giant burritos, goodness gracious) in the Mission and drinks at Magnolia in Dogpatch.  It was wonderful to meet lots of Drew’s friends, and this spot had great beer and atmosphere!

On Friday, while Drew worked from home in the morning, I went out shopping on Chestnut Street near his house.  I bought a few fabulous things, made a few friends around Drew’s neighborhood and even got a job offer to be a nanny!  That afternoon, we got in the car and drove to Mt. Tamalpais  to attempt to hike (emphasis on attempt).  It was too rainy and cold and windy and foggy…so we kept driving.  We had stopped off earlier at the Marin Headlands so I could see the view of the Golden Gate Bridge, which was beautiful.  We wound up heading to Muir Woods once the weather cleared, where we did a bit of walking and took in the beautiful redwoods.

That night, we went to a fun house party to celebrate Drew’s friend’s birthday.  While I was there, I found out that  the “Full House house” (aka one of the Painted Ladies) was just a few blocks away, so naturally I convinced someone to walk with me to check it out.  (Thanks, Scott!)

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The next day, Drew and I went to an event at Tank18 for wine and conversation with friends.  Conversation wound up being tough, as the venue was crazy loud, so Drew and I headed out.  We explored SoMa and eventually headed home to chill out and watch some Suits.  That night, Drew had longstanding plans for drinks, so I met up with one of his friends I’d met a couple nights earlier for a drink at La Urbana.  After that, we went with friends to dinner at Southpaw.

On Sunday, I woke up early and went to a solo breakfast at Home Plate in the Marina.  I wound up having to sit with another solo diner, named Thor…let me just tell you, he might have been the most shallow, insipid person I have ever met.  But the food was good!  I then walked down to the Philz Coffee truck on the water and enjoyed some quiet time looking at the boats.

That afternoon, Drew and I explored North Beach!  He showed me Coit Tower (awesome views of SF and crazy hills).  We then went over to Hayes Valley so I could check out the Warby Parker store.  We wound up spotting this awesome biergarten where we had a pint and pretzel, before hitting up Smitten for some ice cream.  Finally, we went to the Warby Parker store (just had to) before heading out.

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That night (my last night of the trip), Drew treated me to a meal at Trestle.  It was absolutely wonderful and a great way to end the trip before I flew out on Monday morning.

I wish I would’ve taken more photos while I was in the city, but I was caught up in enjoying every single moment.  Not a bad reason to miss out on photo ops!

All in all, I absolutely loved San Francisco.  I would move there tomorrow if I could, but alas, the cost of living is astronomical.  However, if anyone out there is reading this and thinking, “Man, I’d love to financially back a girl’s dream to live in the Bay Area for a while,” feel free to contact me!  😉