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Punta Cana

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Punta Cana

Over the July 4th weekend, Ben and I snuck out of the country for a little R&R. {I know it is not very American of us.} We love to travel so in February we got the itch for a "second honeymoon" aka an excuse to go to the beach! We ended up booking a 6 day 5 night trip through CheapCaribbean.com and it could not have been more satisfied with this decision! We booked the flight + all inclusive resort and everything from our condo, to the cabanas, to the food was superb and exactly what we were looking for! We stayed at the Presidential Suites in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I was immediately hooked on these cabanas on their website and that is mostly why we booked our vacation there. 

This trip was different than our others in the sense that we decided not to "plan" any excursions or big activities. The plan was to not have a plan. We followed through on this and I am so happy that we did! We literally got up every morning, snagged up a cabana, then laid in it, read books, ate delicious food, jumped waves in the ocean, & participated in the resort activities! This included yoga on the beach, some beach games, a foam party, + more! We met some amazing new friends that we were sad to leave! This is more of a boutique hotel so you saw the same people all the time! I really liked this about the resort. Each night the buffet restaurant had a different theme and the food was just great! It was way better than I expect at an international all inclusive resort. We ate our fair share, let me tell ya!

Something that stood out to me the most about Punta Cana, besides it being absolutely beautiful, is the people. Everyone was so nice. This is a very familial culture and you feel that while you are there. We really enjoyed getting to know the entertainment staff and could always count on them for a good laugh + some energy!

 
Cabana
 
 
Towel
 
 
 
 
 
Ben
Chelsea
 
 

Dreamin' of the beach -

Chelsea
 

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San Francisco

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San Francisco

Hey, hey, hey! 

This past Memorial Day weekend Ben and I went to visit my sister, Braea, and her boyfriend, Zac, in San Francisco! They moved there last summer and we have been itching to go and visit! San Francisco is an amazing city filled with spectacular food, rich history, charming neighborhoods, and many, many fun things to do and see! My sister knows my love language and planned an entire weekend of sight seeing and fun activities, she even made me an itinerary! She knows the way to my heart! haha Here are just a few of the many places we explored.

Saturday we ate at Tropiseuno for lunch - my sister's favorite Mexican restaurant! It did not disappoint and to be honest I ended up drinking several cups of salsa because it was that stinkin' good and I am that deprived of decent Mexican food in Denver!

 
Tropisueno
 

First stop on Saturday was-- Pier 39! This is the sight of the famous sea lions and stunning views of Alcatraz and the bay!

Pier 39 - Sea Lions on Docks
Pier 39 - Sea Lion
Pier 39 - Alcatraz
Pier 39 - Ben & Chels
Pier 39 - Sailboat
Pier 39 - Braea & Chels

We also visited (from left to right): 1) The Financial District, 2) Fisherman's Wharf, and 3) Hiked some serious hills to Lombard Street.

Financial District - Braea & I
Fisherman's Wharf
Hiking to the hilltop

We also visited all 3 Ghirardelli's in the city, including the original one! The specialty desserts here are delectable! I highly recommend sharing though because they are so rich and the sizes are really big.

Ghirardelli - my ice cream
Ghirardelli - View from the Park
Ghirardelli - Braea & Zac

I couldn't get enough of the beautiful views in San Francisco. It seemed like every corner we turned there was another amazing view! This was at the top of a large hill on the way to Lombard Street after leaving Pier 39.

 
View from Hilltop
 

Lombard Street is the famous street with 8 hairpin turns. This was quite the tourist attraction, let me tell ya! If I must admit - I had no idea what this was but it was quite beautiful and really charming/captivating. Below are some of the amazing flowers that grow up the side of some of the houses throughout San Francisco, and specifically Lombard Street.

Lumbard - Flowers 1
Lumbard - Ben & Chels
Lumbard Street - Flowers 2
 
Lumbard Street - View
 

We also trekked down to Ocean Beach to see Riley's favorite place in San Fran! If you don't know who Riley is, just look for the happiest puppy you have ever seen running on the beach below!

P.S. The beaches in San Fran are not the kind you wear your bikini to and lay out in, they are the kind that you need at least 2 north faces and uggs on to survive the wind chill!

Ocean Beach - Ben & Chels
Ocean Beach - Braea & Chels
Ocean Beach - Braea & Zac
Ocean Beach - Ben & Chels 2
Ocean Beach - Riley 3
Ocean Beach - Riley 2
Ocean Beach - Riley

On Sunday we made our way out to Napa to explore! The views and crispness of the air out in Napa are unrivaled and just breathtaking. We thoroughly enjoyed our time visiting the wineries, sitting in the sun, and just laughing and catching up!

Our first stop was Artesa Winery and the views were mesmerizing!

Artesa - Ben & I
Artesa - View
Artesa - Ben
 
Artesa - Cheers
Artesa - Group
 

After Artesa, we stopped by the oldest grocery store in California, Oakville Grocery, which was founded in 1881! Here we grabbed some Italian bread, sheep milk cheese, and some prosciutto as well as some sandwiches to take to the next place to snack on! We went to Sequoia Grove next, where they let you bring in outside food as long as you purchase a tasting, glass, or bottle! Their outside patio was so relaxing and we enjoyed sitting among the trees while telling silly stories!

 
Sequoia Grove
 

Our final winery of the day was at Peju Province Winery, it was open late (6 pm in Napa) and the lawn was just so appealing. You can see in the background that many people had the same idea as us! Although - one guy decided to take a little nap, so I would say he really ENJOYED this lawn! haha

Peju - Ben & I
Peju - Zac & Braea
 
Peju - Braea & I
 

A few tips I have for anyone travelling to San Francisco:

1) Bring a jacket, or multiple! It is frequently cool in the morning, evenings, and any time the sun hides behind the clouds!

2) Bring your walking shoes, and don't even attempt trying to walk all over town in high heels, wedges, or new shoes! You won't look nerdy I promise, people know the hills are steep haha.

3) Be prepared to add about a 10% surcharge on your meals due to the Mandate that covers employees in the service industry's healthcare.

4) Uber is the way to go!! Uber is headquartered in San Francisco and they seem to always be testing new market ideas out here. Hey - you may even meet Zac as your driver!

 
Zac Uber
 

We so enjoyed hanging out with Braea & Zac and seeing what their every day life looks like! I miss my sister SO SO much so this weekend was very needed! I can't wait until our next adventure!!! Until next time San Francisco!

Chelsea
 

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Pecan Lodge

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Pecan Lodge

This week I am back in Dallas for work and Tareen, one of my coworkers, is a fellow foodie and is always taking me on a tour of the latest and greatest in Deep Ellum. Deep Ellum is the hub of trendiness in Dallas featuring great venues for music, the coolest new restaurants, and quirky, fun art galleries. She has told me many times about Pecan Lodge, a Dallas-famous barbecue spot that was notorious for long lines at the Dallas Farmers Market. One of our other coworkers enticed us with pictures of their food last week so we put it on the slate to try. In our client's auditorium they just so happened to be serving barbecue today, so after being hit with the enticing smells and hearing our stomach growls we knew exactly where we were going to go.

Upon arrival, we were giddy with excitement about this place's potential after seeing the Texan and rustic outside patio area with twinkle lights and picnic tables. I am a total sucker for twinkle lights, there is just something about them that completely sets a specific type of ambiance for me. See twinkly perfection below:

 
Pecan Lodge Patio
 

We were caught off guard when we entered the restaurant at 12:45 pm and noticed the 40-50 person long line to order! The bartender then walked up to us and asked if we wanted to sit at the bar and order food from up there. Score - he just earned himself a big tip for that one! 

Upon reading the menu - I decided on The Hot Mess and a side of mac & cheese. I won't waste my breath trying to describe this for you, I will just let you see for yourself:

The Hot Mess
The Hot Mess & Mac and Cheese

This place was definitely delicious and lived up to the hype. The atmosphere was great, everyone was so nice, the food was unique and fresh, and after hearing their story I love it even more! If you are curious about the inspiring story behind the couple that quit their day jobs and risked everything to pursue their passion of mesquite grilling, read this article by D magazine. They hit it big time when they were seen all over the Texas lists of best barbecue and were even featured on the popular show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. When they were faced with the closure of Shed 2, part of the Dallas Farmers Market, they were in tears over what their future held for them, but in true fashion they had no idea what lay ahead for them. D Magazine always does a fabulous job capturing the true essence behind the story and shares very real and even emotional sides that most people don't know. It is also so wonderful to see two people share their hearts and struggles so publicly.  You will fall in love with Justin & Diane's story just like I did!

If you want to visit the Pecan Lodge yourself, here is their website.

Hope you dream of Deep Ellum and The Hot Mess tonight -

Chelsea
 

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Austin: Eating my way through the Weird City

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Austin: Eating my way through the Weird City

This past week I was in Austin, Texas for work. Although I have been to Austin many, many times in my life - I thought I would give you my "official" review on places that I ate at in Austin. Most people (including myself) would compare Austin to Denver in trendiness, hipsteriness, music scene, foodiness, outdoorsy-festivals, etc. etc. I am naturally drawn to this city and all the fun and cool things to do! Too bad I don't have my hubby here to explore with me. :(

Monday:

Lunch @ Taco Deli - This is a cute little taco shop close to our offices off of Mopac and somewhere haha. My co-worker took me there because when someone asks me what I want to eat while in Texas - I always answer "Mexican!". I ordered a carne asada taco, a conquistador taco, guacamole & chips, AND a Horchata!! Horchata is officially my new drink obsession! It is absolutely delicious and I had never heard of it until today. Apparently - this is some new trendy tex-mexy slash Mexican drink that is being served. My understanding is that it is rice milk and cinnamon but it is absolutely refreshing!

Dinner @ Zocalo Cafe on Lynn Street - This is another cute little cafe/modern/cutesy Austin taco/flauta place! I couldn't decide what I wanted and I was STARVING since I didn't leave work until almost 8 o'clock (all justifications for what I am about to say...) so I ordered two meals haha. I got an order of chicken flautas with black beans & rice and the zocalo plate which is black beans with chicken, tortilla strips, and rice, and tomatoes and just a whole lot of greatness in a little pile. Then I discovered that they also had Horchata here. I asked the guy if I could pay for one since I had already closed out - and in true Texan fashion he said it was on the house.... I then proceeded to drink 90% of the drink in my 5 minute drive home to my hotel. #Horchataprobz Anyways - again this place is absolutely delicious!! I LOVED everything I ordered - especially the Zocalo plate. I highly, highly recommend it! I can't wait to explore more food this city has to offer.

 
Horchata
 

Tuesday:

Lunch @ El Meson Taqueria on Burleson Rd - One of my many bosses and I were looking for somewhere close by our client and this popped up. It had good ratings so we decided to try it. It is a little hole in the wall place located close to the Airport. I ordered cochinta pibil tacos with black beans and rice ($7.30) and chips & guacamole. It was sooo good! This is more authentic Mexican food rather than trendy Tex Mex. This is an order at the counter and sit down to eat establishment. If you are ever in this part of town - I recommend stopping by despite its appearance on the outside! (It is a tiny little brown stand alone, old building.

 
El Meson Taqueria
 

Dinner @ ZTejas on 6th Street - I went to this place with about 10-12 people from work who were all in Austin while I was. I must say that this places is absolutely AMAZING and did not disappoint. We started off with the Tejas Trio which is queso, guacamole, and salsa picante and some of the skillet cornbread (I couldn't find the name on the actual menu online so it may have been a happy hour special.). I then took the server's recommendation and ordered the Smoked Chicken Chile Relleno which he said was supposed to be the house favorite. I trusted him and ordered it. Let me just say that this was the best food choice I made ALL WEEK! I am dreaming about this chile relleno, seriously. This chile relleno was unique and included grilled poblano peppers, pecans, apricots, raisins, pepitas, jack cheese, sour cream, green chile & red pepper sauce, and seasonal rice and vegetables. Just take a peak below, but be warned that it will make your mouth water. I cannot wait to go back to Texas or any other city that has one of these awesome restaurants. Also - I must note that their margaritas were really good! I ordered the frozen margarita that was topped with Chambord and it was only $5 during happy hour. 

 
ZTejas
 

Wednesday:

Lunch @ Vertskebap on 1920 E Riverside Dr - My coworker found this little gem not too far from our client. It was really delicious! It is a Mediterranean fusion sandwich shop. I got the kebap with beef & lamb, tomatoes. cucumbers, and the house sauce. This place is good but I wouldn't go out of your way to go here for lunch, just if you are already in the neighborhood!

 
Vertskebap
 

Dinner @ Malaga Tapas Bar - So there is a big joke/back story behind this place. Some of my coworkers who were at dinner on Tuesday at ZTejas were just ranting and raving about how fabulous this tapas bar was. They had already been 2-3 times that week and wanted to go back. I was immediately in because 1. I love tapas. 2. Anything this good I just HAD to try. and 3. Who wants to eat alone on a work trip? I arrived a few minutes after my coworkers so they had already ordered a host of things to share. Overall this place was a let down. I thought the tapas were just mediocre, and I have DEFINITELY had better. I am a tapas girl and so this is totally my type of food but this was just not that great.

If you are ever planning a trip to Austin - you will undoubtedly be impressed by the shear amount of food options and fun things to do! I love this city and I am sure you will too. 

Your Fellow Foodie -

Chelsea
 

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