Birthdays in Sea Ranch, California

Video

Once we realized that our birthdays were on the same weekend this year, we knew we had to do something special. We lucked out HARD with the home we rented in The Sea Ranch, CA. All the homes in Sea Ranch are mid-century modern architecture which Ben goes gah-gah for. Our spot was tucked away on a bluff over-looking the Pacific Ocean. We were surround by giant redwoods and the pack of turkeys that lived in the woods around the house kept Sammich and her friends busy.

I’m obsessed with that feathered wreath! It was one of the first things I saw walking up to this incredible house.

I’m not a brilliant photographer but I love the design of this home.

The sunroom was my favorite spot in the house! It was so bright and relaxing…for me, anyway. Sammich barks at skylights so she realized quickly on the first night that this was her least favorite room.

I couldn’t capture the beauty of the outdoors. The yard was full of beautiful flower varieties and, everyone’s favorite, a hot tub. Sitting in the hot tub at night, under the stars, with the ocean as your sound track, is a pretty magical experience.

I was sad to be leaving on our last day so I took a video to capture the absolute pleasantness of this place.

The pups were so excited to be together and the only thing that could have made their experience even better were long hikes to tons of different beaches – so that’s exactly what we did. Ben’s birthday is April 7th and mine is April 9th so we always look for ways to celebrate our #betwerthday.

We began a hike along some beautiful, rolling, grassy hills that eventually led us to a bluff with a steep – and I mean STEEP- set of stairs down to the beach. I took this video half way down the stairs. We were the only people crazy enough to actually go down to the beach and quickly learned why nobody else did when Sadie almost got washed away by high tide.

We found another beach were the Gualala River dumps into the Pacific Ocean. It was incredibly beautiful. Our friend’s dog, Sadie, ran after some pelicans and didn’t realize there was a river until she was fully immersed in river water. She’s a nut and we love her for it.

We tried to go tide pooling but found the tide a bit too high for it. That didn’t stop Ben from walking on water. I told him he should make this his new LinkedIn profile picture.

On my birthday, we took a day trip up the coast to Mendocino. It’s an adorable little town tucked on another spectacular bluff on the coast. After some brunch, we headed over to the Mendocino Botanical Gardens. Ben was so excited when he found out they allow dogs on leash. Sammich was in hound heaven with all the intense smells here. There are endless paths with bright pops of color everywhere you look. We took the path that lead us to – wait for it – another insanely beautiful bluff with a view of the ocean. Paradise.

We tried to get Sammich to pose in front of the Elephant Ear plant but she was…distracted.

Said beautiful bluff.

Happy Birthday to us!

Fort Funston

Video

Even though we live close to San Francisco, the traffic usually makes it too much of a hassle to get to. This past Sunday, we woke up early to go meet up with our best human and canine friends.

On the coast of the Pacific Ocean is a beautiful hiking and beach trail that is perfect for taking a restless pooch…or three. Fort Funston lives up to it’s name. Sammich was nose to the ground the entire time except when she spotted her two besties – Daisy and Sadie.

Daisy and Sadie are trustworthy enough to chase balls out to the horizon and come running back. Sammich…not so much. We have to keep her on a leash because there are too many steep cliffs and she can run way faster than us. She still managed to have the time of her life. From the parking lot arrival, to spotting her two friends, to all the new ones she made along the way. The sweeping ocean views weren’t so bad on these human eyes either.

What to know

Fort Funston park is a great spot to take your pup in San Francisco.

Mikkeller Tasting Room and Bottle Shop

My brother and his wife were in town for a quick visit this weekend so we headed down to the Rockridge neighborhood in Oakland, California. Rockridge is a friendly neighborhood with a busy main street, College Avenue, that runs through the middle. There is everything from Irish dive bars, to Pilates studios, to ice cream parlors and ramen shops.

My brother and his wife are big beer drinkers – which is something I know nothing about. Fortunately, a new specialty beer shop and tasting room just opened up next to my favorite coffee spot. Walking in to Mikkeller Tasting Room, you immediately feel like you are walking into the lobby of a brewery gearing up for a tour.

The space is narrow but designed to draw your attention to the fully stocked cooler and shelves. There you’ll find a vast and impressive spread of specialty beer and, in our case, mead. It is like a library of interesting flavors. You could easily spend a half hour just perusing the selection.

The walls have really rad art tying the space together. The register is also a tasting bar where you can find even more delicious draft beer. The bartender was extremely knowledgeable about every unusual product on the shelves and was happy to talk about what made each special.

Jake & QianQian ended up going home with the EvilTwin Brewing Imperial Biscotti Break stout and the D.O.T.D. Chili Chocolate Black Lager. Ben picked up the Simcoe Mead Kitchen.

What to Know

Mikkeller Tasting Room and Bottle Shop is open from 11:30am-11pm daily. Check out their website for selection and upcoming events.

Developé for Pilates Reformer

One of my favorites things about Pilates homework is getting to do some delicious stretches. The Developé is one of my favorite Pilates exercises. It’s an intermediate level exercise because of the coordination required and the core strength necessary to keep your spine supported with one moving leg. Once you start to use the correct muscles – at the right time – you find a flow that is so satisfying. It’s a full body stretch and roll that feels like a full body yawn.

Here’s what the Developé exercise for Pilates Reformer looks like:

Start by placing your right toes on the footbar and your left leg extended out to a 45° angle – toes pointed.

As you push your right leg out to straight, bend your left leg to move through bicycle before extending the left leg straight up to the ceiling.

Straight leg to ceiling – point your toes!

Keeping both legs straight, drop your left leg down to tap the foot bar before raising that leg back up to the ceiling.

Stay here. Flex both feet – dropping your right heel under the footbar. Point both feet.

Bend your right knee to control the return of the carriage as your left knee bends to move through bicycle before extending back out to your starting position at 45°.

Here’s what that looks like all together:

What to Know

I’m teaching a free Community Pilates Reformer Class at Truve in Oakland, California every Monday morning from 9:30am-10:30am. Visit TruveFit.com to register.

New Pilates Class + Exercises

Video

Pilates has been a part of my workout routine since 2009. A friend of mine invited me to take free classes at her studio, and I’ve never had more fun while working out. She was funny but firm. The workouts were hard but possible. They gave me greater body awareness and I felt it in my day-to-day life. To this day, Pilates supplements my regular cardio workouts beautifully and I feel longer and leaner. I walk taller and move with more ease.

As I finish my certification, I’m going to begin teaching a free Community Pilates Reformer Basics class on Mondays from 9:30am-10:30am at Truve! I’m excited to start programming lessons and building better strength, stabilization and mobility. Below are some examples of the kind of exercises we’ll be doing. Come take a class – it’s free!

What to Know

Truve offers a ton of amazing classes! Check out their class schedule and click the ‘Community Pilates Reformer Basics’ box to sign up for my free class on Mondays at 9:30am. Hope to see you there!

Estate Sale Shopping in Oakland

SALE Estate Sale

There’s nothing I love more than a bargain. It’s in my blood. Growing up, my cousins and I would load into minivans at the family reunion and head off to all the garage sales, thrift stores, and antique shops we could find. The goal was to nab the most unique treasure and to have never paid full price. With this in mind, I was excited when we stumbled upon this estate sale in the Warehouse District in Oakland – Something to Sell About.

Oakland's Warehouse District Something To Sell About

As we start construction on our home, we’re keeping our eyes peeled for pieces to start decorating the new space. Most of the time, I don’t find anything but I’m always fascinated to see the items people decorated their homes with. I wonder about the stories behind some of them…especially the creepy dolls and that weird, stone cat.

Sale on sales

This place had sales on top of sales on top of sales. Huge pieces of Victorian furniture acted as walls for tiny nooks filled with knick-knacks. I love a good rocking chair, but I didn’t find the one today. img_2611

Need a spear? Sure you do. You didn’t know you did, but you you did. Of all the things to uncover in this place, a spear? These are the kind of things that make me wonder about the original owner. Who? And, why?

Creepy Stone Cat

Since we’re asking the hard-hitting questions here…what’s up with this stone cat? It looks like it’s staring directly at you no matter where you’re standing. Also – this lone doll wearing an over-sized communion dress sitting in the foreground of yet another creepy painting of a little girl. Imagine walking into this room at night…

Creepy doll Lamps

Lamps and a pushy salesman. Hey, some people like that, but I’m just here to look. I’m here to look at things like this random Hoosier Want List. My dad is a native of Indiana so finding a Hoosier Want List from 1908 felt like fate. I left it there, but the list is interesting.

Hoosier Wish List

This is no ordinary piano – it’s a Melodian. It’s a type of pump organ which means you have to be constantly peddling it to make it play. Ben attempted to break it down on this bad boy, but one of the keys was stuck so we moved on.

Melodian

We didn’t go home with anything but that doesn’t mean we didn’t find some treasures.

What to know

Something to Sell About is located near Jack London Square in Oakland, California. They open up their warehouse once or twice a month to let shoppers take a look. Check it out next time you’re in town. You never know what you’ll find.

Vegas Valentine

Pixabay

Photo credit – Pixabay

I never thought I’d meet a boy and fall in love in Las Vegas. Don’t get me wrong – there’s a lot to love about Vegas – the hotels, endless shopping, and some of the best bars anywhere. Obviously. Until 2014, Vegas had always been a fling. A surface love affair. I didn’t know I had so much falling in love to do here.

Ben was, in so many words, ‘stationed’ there with the band. I was living in New York City at the time and we were doing the whole ‘long distance’ thing. It was hard, so when I came to Vegas to visit him for the first time, he really wanted me to fall in love with it – so I’d want to come back.

Pixabay

Photo credit – Pixabay

The first thing we did was drive out to Red Rock Canyon. I always thought of Vegas as the middle of the desert, and it is, but it’s surrounded by the most beautiful border of red mountains. It looks like towering stacks of deep red, Georgia clay molded into a beautiful desert mountain-scape.

fullsizerender-19

Later on, we headed to Makers and Finders Coffee Bar. I’m a sucker for a good coffee shop. This place is off the strip and makes a badass lavender latte. I come back here every time I’m in town to write and catch up with friends.

Across the street is Retro Vegas, a mid century modern vintage furniture, art, and decor store. We spent an hour just walking through this place looking at all the furniture – from beautiful and rare to gawky and insane.

Pixabay

Photo credit – Pixabay

If you’re really trying to impress someone – spend the day at the Cosmopolitan. We spent the day getting the best couples massage either of us has ever had. After it was over, we had free reign of the room – complete with steam room, claw foot tub, and lounge. We headed over to the pool to catch those desert rays before heading back to our room to get ready for dinner. You’ve definitely got to stop by The Chandelier bar for pre-dinner drinks.

fullsizerender-18

When I come to visit now, I spend as much time by the pool as I can while he’s in the studio. The best part of any hot Vegas day is the Taiwanese ice cream from Snowflake Shavery. I’m obsessed with ice cream and this stuff is at the top of my list!

Pixabay

Photo credit – Pixabay

Vegas is a bright and vibrant place to visit and a really romantic place to spend time with your person…whoever they may be.

What to Know

I’ll be brief: Vegas.com is where to go to navigate your next trip to Vegas and check out these awesome deals to save some money on your trip to Vegas!

Bubbles By The Bay

img_6464

It’s supposed to rain in Northern California for the next week and you can feel it in the air. Our drought-plagued part of the world really needs this rain, but there’s something so deflating and drowsy about days and days of rain. Yesterday was our calm before the storm – the last real day of sunshine for the next week.

But, when USPS sends new Champagne flutes you make a night out of it! Plus, who doesn’t love a good un-boxing?

img_2726 img_6851

Our household has been obsessed with bubbly rose for the last seven months. Part of the joy of grocery shopping is stopping by the wine shop and perusing the extensive collection. We searched high and low for the perfect wine flutes and we’re STOKED with these new Waterford Champagne flutes. The design is clean, geometric, and the way the bubbles move in the glass is mesmerizing.

We stepped out on the porch to enjoy our new flutes and the view of the Bay Area transitioning from day to night.

img_1267

As the sun snuck behind the horizon, we watched as the tiny, flickering lights began turning on in unison  – like stars dotting the landscape. Their brightness constantly moving, like the bubbles in our glass – dancing and illuminating life.

What to know

These Waterford Champagne Trumpet Flutes are a great bang for your buck.

Mountain View Cemetery

As they pulled around the turn-about to park his truck, she wasn’t sure why they were here. Looking across the perfectly manicured lawn, she saw gravestone after gravestone dotting the hillside. “Why would he bring me here on Valentine’s Day,” she wondered. It was a beautiful place, but she still hadn’t reconciled her feelings about death. The peaceful atmosphere of this place threw her for a loop. Death is terrifying…so, why is a place that houses the dead so…peaceful?

He came around to the passenger side door and opened it as though she were a Queen needing assistance from her carriage. “I’ve put together a picnic. Let’s go up to the top.” The sweetness of the moment was not lost on her. He had a dark sense of humor and always teased her about her existential fear of the unknown. In many ways, this was the perfect place for both of them.

The graveyard covered a huge swath of a steep Oakland hill overlooking the flats below and a sweeping view of San Francisco on the other side of the Bay. He led her to the top of of the hill, passing more and more grandiose graves the higher up they got. At the top lay Millionaire’s Row. A series of fancy mausoleums…mansions for the dead. He laid out a blanket and started setting up all the cheeses, breads, nuts, and sandwiches he made for her. She was suddenly aware that for a moment she lost herself; her fear of being around the dead. She realized that whether she could understand it or not, she felt at peace here. The warm sun, the green grass and tall, wise trees. There was a warm company here. Her fear, it seemed, was nothing but a reflex left over from childhood. This calm feeling of acceptance is something she had searched for her whole life. She wasn’t aware of how it happened, just that it happened.

What to know:

Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, CA is a must-see!

I found out there are McKee and Cobb graves via this.

Truve

FullSizeRender 6

“Do you think it’s gonna be a leg day?” Ben was worried that his already sore muscles might take another beating. He wasn’t wrong. Every time we walk into Truve for a workout with the owner, Alison Roessler, we walk out exhausted and in need of a long, hot bath. That’s exactly what a workout should be.

FullSizeRender 15

Shortly after moving to Oakland, we knew we needed a regular and vigorous workout routine to keep our bodies healthy given the rigors of a nearly year-long tour schedule. Imagine Dragons toured with a personal trainer so we were used to getting our butts kicked on a regular basis. We were able to establish a regular fitness routine and though we felt sore and exhausted at the end of it, our minds and bodies felt strong and ready to take on endless bus rides, flights and arena shows. Now, it was time to find a home-base for fitness.

FullSizeRender 18

The Bay Area is known for having an active population. The weather is just too perfect for people to stay indoors. So, when we began our Google search for a trainer, we were inundated with a ton of options. Alison stood out to us because she was an athlete. She suffered a serious injury in college and her athletic training helped her to recover from her injury. From that point on, she started training other athletes through their injuries, older clients looking to strengthen their bodies to avoid injuries, and men and women looking to meet fitness goals.

“She didn’t look like some big, muscly guy that was going to injure me” Ben said.

FullSizeRender 17

We never know what kind of training session Alison has planned for us. Each one is a different series of exercises meant to work arms, legs, abs and cardio before the hour is over. True to her motto, she keeps us #hellafit. We often work out in the big, open room that makes up a majority of the gym. Lining the wall of mirrors are weights, ropes, tires, bands, exercise balls, mats, and other fitness machines. The opposite wall splinters off into a TRX/yoga room, a stationary bike room, and a pilates reformer room.  Sometimes, she takes her clients outside to pull tires, run stairs, and otherwise take advantage of those sunny Oakland days.

FullSizeRender 14

We often train during the middle of the day when Truve is buzzing with clients taking advantage of a group class, wellness service, or cleaning up in a fully stocked locker-room. Memberships at Truve include unlimited access to classes in TRX, 30-20-10 circuits, Capoeira, Pilates Reformer, Yoga, Spin Core, Boxing Conditioning, Sculpting, Strength Training, and more. You also have access (whether you have a membership or not) to a full range of wellness services including facials, acupuncture, deep tissue and shiatsu massages, and spray tans. You can easily workout, get a massage, shower and pamper yourself before heading out to explore the rest of your day. Truve keeps us #hellafit and we are #hellagrateful.

Try It Out

Truve – 2345 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612  (510) 788-8909

Website – Check out class schedules and professional services at www.truvefit.com.

Deals – You can get up to 50% off your first year membership : for each friend you refer (up to 5 people) you get 10% off your own membership.

Trainer Extraordinaire – Alison Roessler is the best and I mean it! Try out some of her workouts.