18 Reasons is a non-profit based in San Francisco that not only provides cooking classes to community members but also free cooking classes to low-income communities throughout the Bay Area.
The night my friends and I went was ‘Spring Soups’!
We made crispy salmon, warm potato salad with a watercress sauce/soup. A build your own tortilla soup bar and for dessert a strawberry champagne soup with vanilla ice cream, fried basil, and other accents.
Making the crispy salmon was easy and delicious.
Building the tortilla soup and adding the broth at the end allowed for a fun and different aromatic experience!
Next the crispy salmon over the warm potato salad and watercress sauce was served!
Fried Basil! I have never seen that before!
Everything we prepared was easy and delicious. This cooking class was a lot of fun and I love the mission behind 18 reasons. I highly recommend taking a class here! Enjoy!
This past weekend I had a couple friends visit, last minute, in the middle of the week… which can be the best kind of visits… the best places are way less crowded on a Thursday!
The weather had been rainy all week but we were lucky to have sunny skies over us on the day they were visiting.
First Stop… Beauty’s Bagels! Yes, it is a bit hipstery ( whatever that means…) but it isgenuinelyy delicious and one of my favorite places in Oakland for breakfreast.
I always take people here who are visiting and they always love it. I love the Veggie bagel but this particular day I tried the fried chicken and let me tell you… it was some of the best friend chicken I have ever had.
After fueling up, we headed to Tenessee Valley for a hike! This is a leisure hike that you can make more challenging or longer as you see fit for you and your group.
Next stop! One of my ALL TIME fav mexican restaurants I have ever been to, The Sausalito Taco Shop. The crema, the micheladas, the seafood… yes PLEASE!
After lunch, it was time for some beer! We headed back across the Richmond Bridge for one of my fav breweries ( are you sensing a theme? Of course I would take my friends to do my favorite things! ), Fieldwork in Berkeley.
I am NEVER disappointed here and I always take home a crowler, growler or apparel! … I just love it!
Next stop, Rare Barrel… If you LOVE Sours…where have you been??? Get to The Rare Barrel. The server asked if we were on Spring Break… We took it as a compliment… life should be one long spring break!
After heading home to clean up we hit my neighborhood brewery, Temescal.
Love the beer garden here… dreaming of Summer already!
SO glad that these two came and visited me! It allowed me to visit my favorite places with two of the funniest people I know!
Come back anytime!
We then headed to one of my fav Korean spots, Bowl’d BBQ.
My fav mocha…. and I am not even a mocha person, but the mocha at Blue Bottle is made with tcho and is ohhh so good. Pair it with a waffle and you have a decadently sweet breakfast.
My love affair with Firebrand continues. Not just a bakery – they serve up amazing breakfast and lunch fare… They also recently started serving beer and wine in the evenings. Need to check it out soon.
Another place I love every time I go but I just don’t go enough is Drake’s Dealership. Went here for lunch and may have had a little too much to drink, but the beers were SO good.
If you love German food head to Gaumenkitzel in Berkeley. This is my second time there and I LOVED it both times. Great for vegetarians and meat lovers alike with an extensive beer and wine menu.
Branching out from the East Bay for this last one! The Jug Shop on Polk in the City has an AMAZING selection of beer, liquor, and wine. They also put on wonderful tastings. My friend and I went there for a sour tasting and we were blown away by how extensive and delicious it was. As you can see I went home with quite a bit!!
It is almost that time of the year again…beer lovers across the bay unite for some of the most unique beer events.
The SF Beer Week list can be daunting, so I have a few tips for you to overcome FOMO ( fear of missing out).
If you can get this beer regularly, I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it during beer week. Save your beer week belly for unique brews that you can’t get normally.
DO support local business and friends when you can. My friends band is playing at SF Beer Week’s Battle of the Bands Kickoff Festival – so naturally I am being supportive and going… I would however, normally try and steer clear of all you can drink events.
My last tip is to seek out opportunities that are outside of the norm or more rare. Beer Week is a great time to try new beers, meet brewers and other beer lovas and have a great time doing it!
….When you aren’t drinking beer during these next couple weeks I reccomend planning a few workouts, drinking plenty of water and throwing in some greens every few days!
Generally speaking when I am going to plan a vacation, I like to pick a place where I can eat good food, drink good drinks, be active ( in some capacity) and maybe throw in some time by the fire or on a hammock!
Palm Springs is a place that I had not been to since becoming an adult and as a Northern California dweller it takes a bit more to get there than from LA or SD. So when one of my Best Friends suggested we take a trip there for her birthday I very enthusiastically said , “YES”!
There was one caveat though… we were going in SUMMER! You might be thinking who in their right mind goes to the desert in the summer? Well people who love a good deal, and in the summer, Palm Springs has amazing lodging deals.
We took off from foggy San Francisco in the morning and landed in Palm Springs at potentially the hottest part of the day… walking off the plane was a rude awakening to say the least.
We assumed (wrongly) that we would be able to get a rental car since its summer… no one is in the desert right? Well without a rental car to our names we would have to uber/lyft/taxi/shuttle all around town.. which turned out to be a good option. The shuttle is great! Highly reccomend looking into it when you are there as a form of transportation.
We stayed at the Saguaro. If you aren’t living under a rock you have already seen its brightly colored, palm tree laden grounds all over instagram.
I would reccomend staying at this hotel if you LOVE to party all day and into the night… the pool parties are very popular here but also extremely annoying if that isn’t your steeze.
If I were to go back I would potentially stay at the Parkeror The Ace.
Once settled at our hotel we took a car service to Elvis’s Honeymoon Hideaway . We had booked a tour prior to arriving which I reccomend if you are interested. I haven’t made it to Graceland yet, so being somewhere that The King lived was a magical experience. It is hard to believe that this home is owned by a couple ( who are selling btw). To me, it seems like this house should be a museum. It is amazing though how little has been updated. The home maintains its original charm and finishes.
After our tour we were famished and in need of a bite to eat! Another note about Summer is that places close in the middle of the day/ or for the season so be prepared to not get to try all the places you have dreamed about on yelp/instagram.
Ready for day two! We started the day off with a breakfast reservation at Norma’s at the Parker ( ohh lala! ) Another summer tip – wake up early and nap during the hottest part of the day! Not rocket science!… but I thought I would share all the same!
After an amazing breakfast we strolled around the Parker grounds. Beautiful!
Next stop! Saturday morning Famers Market! and look what we found … Beer Tasting! I love to try some good local beer on all my trips so when we found Coachella Valley Brewing Co – I was stoked! Purchased a few beers for back at the hotel where we were headed for some R & R.
For dinner we headed to Birba. We went before the dinner rush and were able to be seated without a reservation.
Our meal and drinks were beyond! I highly, highly reccomend.
Then onto Tropicale, at this point of the night the air is balmy but cool enough for outside sitting and walking.
One final drink and some live music at the Amigo Room.
Day 3! Ready to indulge … yet again.
Elmer’s is a chain.. but a highly recommended chain so off we went to try it out!
After our filling breakfast we went to Moorten Botanical Garden. We thought it would be early enough to beat the heat… but we weren’t. We thought we were going to pass out after walking around, but it was beautiful!
After lounging pool side for the majority of the afternoon we got ready for dinner and drinks!
We went to The Purple Palm for drinks, I tried the Rio Rita with Ghost Pepper! Delish!
For our last lunch we hit Sherman’s Deli in Palm Springs – what a delight! It was so delicious.
After our meal we headed back to our hotel and off we flew back to the Bay! I had an amazing time in Palm Springs – the aesthetic, the food, I loved it all! I will definelty be back… would I go again in the Summer… tbd.
Looking for a quick weekend get away from the Bay Area? Look no further than Calaveras Big Trees State Park area.
At only 2.5 hours from Oakland.. its as easy to get to as Santa Cruz and definelty worth the drive!
The higher you climb the more snow you see! For a coastal gal like me snow is really exciting and my inner child gets really excited… even if it is a light coating on the side of the road.
We lucked out last minute and were able to reserve a cabin for week of… always great to check and see if there have been any late cancelations!
Enjoying a milk stout after unloading the car… very tiring. ha
Quick hike before sundown! Really beautiful to see the sun go down through the trees.
Wood stove fire place… perfect place for S’MORES! Don’t think I have ever stuffed my face with more s’mores. Here are a few trail options that you will probably want to check out before heading out! As always with State Parks and National Parks I love asking the rangers for their personal tips and tricks!
After a day of snow-hiking a brewski is much needed! AND everyone thinks so… Snowshoe was packed! Staff is friendly but be prepared to wait with a big group or for dinner! You can get beer to go in a growler or bottles. Not the best beer I have ever had.. but I am a beer snob. I will say that it def helped hit the spot after a day of ‘hard work’.
Our little cabin had a full kitchen so we were able to make dinner and breakfast which was awesome!
On our last morning, my Friends made probably the most amazing French Toast I have ever had with their homemade sourdough bread. How can food bring such joy and then sadness when you realize you can’t have it everyday!
I also was able to do a lot of weaving over the weekend which was really nice! It was great to sit by the fire and all have our individual tasks going.
One more hike before the short but windy road home!
Such a cool weekend! Really glad we were able to take a last minute trip into the Mountains for some snow play and R&R. Winter is steadily becoming one of my FAV seasons.
A little more information about visiting Calaveras in the snow.
The Warming Hut – Open weekends and holidays from Thanksgiving through late March 12 pm—4 pm. Get your hot chocolate or warm up by the fire. Pretty crowded but cute idea.
Snowshoe Tours – Offered on Saturdays and some holidays at 1 pm. Bring your own showshoes or borrow a pair of ours. Meet at Warming Hut.
On Your Own – Snow play is allowed in the North Grove area. Build a snow person, ride a sled, or simply marvel at the beauty. Bring your own cross-country skis or snowshoes and travel the North Grove trail or the 3.5 mile loop out the park road and back through the campground.
On Saturdays at 1:00pm we offer a guided hike through the North Grove area of the park. Come enjoy the beauty and grandeur of the park while learning about why this place is so special. The hike is approximately 1.5 hours long and is open to all family members (except dogs).
In the event we have enough snow in the park the hike will be a snowshoe hike. Some snowshoes are available for use on a first come, first served basis. Snowshoes are available for rent in the town of Arnold located three miles west on Highway 4.
The cost of the hike is free with paid admission to the park; meet at the Visitor Center and wear appropriate footwear. For more information, please call the Visitor Center at (209) 795-3840 or (209) 795-7980.
You may be going into this post thinking… The Narrows in the Winter?? It must be freezing and well you might be right… It would be cold without the proper gear.
We were recommended Zion Outfitter by a local for having the best Narrows Gear. Like I mentioned in my previous post – the staff is super friendly here, they fixed a crampon that I didn’t even buy from their store! Great service.
Another important tid bit is that you need to start as early as possible… I know its hards but it will make your experience so much better! Towards the end of our hike icicles were dropping which is terrifying.
The park ranger told us that a man got a perma dent in his head from an icicle falling on him. So set your alarm, get your booties in gear and get in the water early. You will also see way less people. We saw maybe 10 total while we were in the Narrows and a whole slew of people were coming in as we were leaving.
Falling icicles, no thanks…Get an early start – no melting ice!
Also… an amazing resource was a post from Just a Colorado Gal about her experience hiking The Narrows in the Winter. Great inspiration!
We found this map super helpful … well super helpfulish. I think we were walking faster than it guestimated. At any rate helpful to have!
All geared up! So cute and so dry!
I wasn’t expecting how much walking there would be outside of the water… many areas you could walk on dry ground.
Another potentially helpful tip would be to bring extra gloves… I fell in within the first 5 minutes so one of my gloves were wet the entire time. Actually, not terrible but if this would be a deal breaker for you… and you are falling prone than bring extra gloves. I think I fell a total of 3 times … maybe 4. haha
The views were truly unlike anything I have seen before. It was outer-wordly.
They say the camera adds 10 pounds… but I might say 20 lbs in this photo!
The best hydro sneaks – kept our feet SO dry!
If you prepare for The Narrows in Winter you will have an amazing experience. This will be an experiencing I remember for the rest of my life.