Friday, June 24, 2011

Driving Home

It seems like any time Annie and I go to California, there is always something interesting that happens. Well driving home from this trip, we had a couple of interesting things. Ever driven down the road in the middle of no where and seen BLASTING AHEAD signs? Well, this was a first for us. We saw the sign and then got to the point where the construction people had all the cars stopped. We sat there for probably about 10 minutes and then we saw this cloud of smoke rising from the mountains followed by a loud bang! Yes, there really was blasting going on! It was really cool. We could tell when the next blast was coming, because we would see another cloud of smoke rise before the blast. If you listen really closely in the video, you can hear the blast. 

After the blasting excitement, we came across another road block sign, but this time we were told there was an accident and that we would have to turn around and drive back the 30 miles we just drove to get onto a different highway to get home. Well, we thought the Nuvi would be able to get us around this accident on an alternate route without us having to turn around. We thought we were in the clear until we saw this flying at us. 

A truck ran into a passenger train and the wreck was covering the bridge we needed to cross to get home. So after driving for 30 minutes, thinking we were so smart and had found a way around the wreck, we realized that we had to drive back the 30 minutes we drove, plus the extra 30 minutes to the other highway. Next time, we'll just turn around. =]

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Panera Bread and Craft

Today was our last day in Cali. I always hate when vacation comes to an end, especially since we had such a great time this trip. We kind of just took it easy today and relaxed with Stephanie and some of the kids. For lunch we went to Panera Bread and OH MY was it GOOOOD!!!

I got this super yummy chicken summer salad that had strawberries, blackberries, and pineapple and some kind of yummy vinaigrette dressing. The soup was a broccoli cheese that was to die for! Annie's nephew Ethan loves this soup so much that he kept trying to steal his sister's soup and then he kept eyeballing mine and kept asking if I was going to finish it. Yes, it was really that good. =] 

Trying to be sneaky and get video of Hunter, Ethan, and Megan singing in the back of the car. 

Before we went to California, I told Annie that I wanted to try Tom Colicchio's restaurant. For those of you who don't know who that is, he is the head judge off of the reality show Top Chef. The show is about 20 chefs that compete to be Top Chef. Each week they get a quick fire challenge, and then a regular challenge that consists of them making some kind of meal that they are then judged on. Of course she was up for it. We knew that Michael and Stephanie would be up for it too, since they love good food as much as we do. So for our last night in town we decided to head to Craft in Santa Monica. 

We started off with drinks and appetizers in the bar area since we got there an hour before out reservation. 

Veal Meatballs
These were so tender, moist, and super delicious!

Ricotta, lemon, and squash blossom flat bread
I've always wanted to try a squash blossom, and I finally did. It was surprisingly really good. 

Our Amuse bouche of lemon gelee and cucumber.
I was super excited for this, because this is something that comes up every once in the quick fire challenges. It's basically a one bite hors d'oeuvre meant to showcase the chef's artistry and to give a glimpse into their style of cooking. It was to die for and the way the lemon and cucumber complimented each other was amazing. So so good!

This was Steph's avocado, tomatillo, and beer nut salad 
I think this was one of my favorite dishes. I'm not sure what the dressing was on top, but it brought out the flavor of the avocado so well. The extra crunch from the nuts gave it a nice texture. I'm drooling right now just thinking about it again. 

Dry rubbed sirloin steak
This was what Michael and Steph ordered and it was absolutely the best sirloin I think I've ever had. So much flavor! 

Yukon gold puree
I'm sure that these potatoes are loaded with calories, but they were a little piece of heaven. So creamy and smooth and full of flavor. I could seriously take a bath in this stuff. As a matter of fact, I think that Me, Annie, and Steph talked about doing that very thing as we were chowing down on this stuff. 

Probably the best cooked asparagus I've ever tried. It was the perfect amount of crispness and tenderness. 

Augratin potatoes
These were Michaels and I don't think any of the rest of us tried them, cause we were too busy swimming in out potato puree. 

This is what Annie and I shared. I can't say that it was my favorite salmon ever, but it was still really good. 

We had leftovers to take home, so they took them, boxed them up, and then gave us a number to pick them up when we were done. It was so nice to not have boxes sitting on our table while we tried to enjoy our dessert. 

Apricot sorbet
They brought this out before out dessert to cleanse our palates. 

Strawberry shortcake
The best dessert ever! I was in heaven eating this. The strawberries tasted like they had just been picked from the garden that morning and the pastry was so moist. 

Mint chocolate chip ice cream
This was Steph's dessert and again, so delicious! It tasted like there was an actual mint leaf in the ice cream. It was so refreshing. 

Super good, but not my favorite out of the three desserts we ordered.

S'mores and Caramel popcorn
After dessert, another surprise from the kitchen. I was stuffed to the rafts, but I managed to muscle a s'more down and try some of the popcorn.

Our bill. Yes, it was absolutely worth every penny! And I would totally do it again. Not only for the food, but for the experience. I've never had such an enjoyable time out to eat before. 

Carrot Raisin Muffin
One last surprise from the kitchen before we headed home. A muffin to enjoy for breakfast in the morning. 

The four of us getting ready to enjoy our yummy meal. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Glen Ivy Spa Day

Wednesday was the best of the vacation, or should I say the most relaxing. We headed to Corona to Glen Ivy Hot Springs for the whole day and let me just say it was a much needed day of relaxation. This place is like a spa amusement park for adults.

We got our own parking spot with the cabana that we reserved.

Emily, Stephanie, Amber, soaking in our own private spa. 

Me, Annie, and Amy getting ready to relax! 

Our sweet cabana! We had a yummy fruit bowl waiting for us when we got there. 

Me, Amy, Emily, Stephanie, Annie, Amber, Lacey
I burned myself at the beach the day before, which made soaking my feet in the spa very uncomfortable. =[ Fortunately, it didn't prevent me from enjoying my massage and some of the other great features here. 

The view from the balcony

The other side of the balcony.

Our yummy lunch! 

Annie and I after enjoying our massages. 
I decided to do a hot stone massage for the first time, and oh my was it so nice. It was the best, most relaxing massage I think I've ever had. My massage therapist gave me a face massage also, and she used some cold stone which felt amazing. Then when she started using the stones, it almost felt like she was using some warming lotion that was just spreading this wonderful heat throughout my body. AMAZING!!! 

This is us heading into Club Mud. It's a red clay that you rub all over your body, then let it dry, brush it off, which acts as an exfoliator, and it makes your skin feel super soft and smooth! The only down side is that it can stain your swimsuit. I wasn't planning on getting in, so I didn't bring a different swimsuit, but then changed my mind, so I was trying really hard to not get mud on my suit. 

Stephanie, Emily, Me, and Amber

Lacey, Me, Amber, Emily, Annie, and Stephanie 
After exfoliating ourselves, it was time to head to the Grotto. This was my favorite part of the day, besides my awesome massage. For this part, the staff at the grotto take these huge paint brushes and brush this green lotion which is a mixture of aloe, shea, and coconut lotion all over our skin. Then we head into the grotto which kind of looks like a cave and it feels like a sauna. This opens the pores and your supposed to massage the lotion in. It felt so good on my sunburned skin and it was super relaxing. After rinsing the lotion off, we got to head into a different area of the grotto and enjoyed a nice crisp green apple. Yum!  

Me, Annie, Amber, Josh, Stephanie, Lacey, Emily
We had to get a picture with our cabana boy before we left. We were literally the last ones out of the spa aside from the employees.

The best way to finish the day was with some delicious cheese bread and salad at Northwoods Inn. 

Lacey, Emily, Amber, Stephanie, Me, Annie
Relaxed, happy, and satisfied.