Train to Santa Barbara (part one)

A few blog posts back I started a little “California Bucket List” of things Joel and I would like to see and do while living here in Southern California.  As soon as finishing writing that list, we decided the only decent thing to do was to start checking things OFF that list!  And why not go big and check TWO things off at once!  And if you didn’t guess it by the title, we took a train to Santa Barbara for the weekend.  CHECK CHECK!

We left on a Friday evening after work.  Unfortunately by that time the sun had set so we didn’t get much of a view on our way up, but I thought ahead and made sure our trip north would be a success no matter what with a mini cheese platter style spread!  Joel had packed a couple bottles of wine to bring along on our trip, so we popped one open and enjoyed our own personal happy hour aboard the Amtrak Pacific Surf Liner.  It was the perfect way to end a long week and start our week away…

Train To Santa Barbara

On this trip we decided we wanted to try out an Airbnb rental instead of a hotel and the one we chose was just a short walk to the beach, so our first morning began with just that!  They way to the beach included an area of preserved land that lend right up to a cliff with beautiful view of the coast line.  It also just happened to be a completely off leach dog area so we were greeted by lots of new puppy friends!  Just beyond the park is where we found the “Mesa Lane Steps” that lead us down to the beach.  The tide was high, so we weren’t able to walk on the beach this time, but we had the pleasure of watching the waves roll in, and surfers trying to catch them!

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

Train To Santa Barbara

To avoid a suuuuuper long blog post, I’m dividing our trip up into a few different parts, kind of like a mini series!  So check back soon for more on our adventure!

 

Cheers!

Traci

 

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At Home Valentine’s Date

This past weekend my boyfriend treated me to a weekend away, and with that trip being so close to Valentine’s Day I asked him to please not plan anything for ACTUAL Valentine’s Day.  The trip was more than enough!  We had SO much fun, but more on that trip later!  Even though we celebrated early, I couldn’t let the day pass like any other day. I still wanted to do a little something to celebrate this day of love.  Yes I know, many of you out there are probably saying “ I love my partner everyday, I don’t need a special day to show them that I care.”  That’s fine and all, and I love my boyfriend everyday too, BUT I like the idea of using any excuse to celebrate.  Why not!  Life’s short, so CELEBRATE it!  With that being said I still didn’t want to go overboard, so to keep things simple, stress free and budget friendly, I put together a little  “At Home Valentine’s Date”

At Home Valentine's Date

At Home Valentine's Date

At Home Valentine's Date

At Home Valentine's Date

At Home Valentine's Date

At Home Valentine's Date

At Home Valentine's Date

At Home Valentine's Date

At Home Valentine's Date

THE MEAL

If you follow my blog, you’ve probably realized by now that I really enjoy cooking and being it the kitchen, but even for me, planning a big elaborate meal can be stressful at times, especially during the week!  So I went ahead and took to the internet to help plan my meal.  These are the recipes I went with:

Easy Pan Seared Sirloin Steak

Roasted Veggie Salad with Avocado Dressing (the only change I made was using less salt)

And seeing that there was a killer deal on shrimp at the grocery store I decided to turn our meal into a surf and turf!  I simply sautéed the shrimp with a little bit garlic and basil and BOOM!  5 minutes later it was delicious and done!

THE DESSERT

Since I planned on making a home cooked meal (and since baking isn’t really my thing!) I decided to go ahead and let a professional help me with the dessert.  Joel and I went to Whole Foods the night before and picked out a mini cake together.  They had so many amazingly delicious looking treats in their fresh dessert/bakery area that we both stood there for over 10 minutes trying to decide which one to pick!  It was definitely the most difficult part of this whole celebration, LOL!

THE DECOR

Everything I used to decorate above our dinner table I threw together out of tissue paper and twine that I already had at home in my “gift wrapping box.” YAY FREE!  And it took me MAYBE 10 minutes to assemble, WIN!

Whether you stayed at home, went out on the town, celebrated big or small, I hope you enjoyed the special time with the one’s you love! And had lots of cuddles! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Cheers!

Traci

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Simple Chicken Dinner

So it’s officially mid-week and I know for me, this is when things can start getting a little wobbly.  I’m not as well rested as I was at the beginning of the week, and the upcoming weekend is still just a speck in the distance.  This is the time that I like to have a super easy meal on the menu.  I LOVE making new elaborate meals on the weekend, ones that take hours to prep, marinate, slow roast, etc, but mid-week I want something eeeaaassssyyyy.  I know sometimes when we get tired or over busy it seems easiest to just grab something frozen from the grocery store throw it in the oven and call it dinner.  With this “Simple Chicken Dinner” I hope to have you skip the frozen aisle and still have an easy no-brainer dinner on the table in no time.  One that’s pretty healthy too! And guess what, it only has 10 ingredients….and that’s INCLUDING salt, pepper, and cooking oil!  Do those really count as ingredients though???  Anyway, this is definitely a “no frills” meal, but it’s one that I make time and time again and always feel good about.

Simple Chicken Dinner

So let’s start with the chicken, we are doing lemon chicken here folks.  Super easy and crowd pleasing. This recipe can be made bigger or smaller depending on your families needs, tonight I made 4 chicken breast so there would be leftovers for salad lunches the next day.  As a side we are bringing in roasted Brussels sprouts, and then rounding it out with a simple romaine and tomato salad.  There’s a couple things that help keep this recipe from being super boring and bland though, so here are some tips! You’ll need two lemon slices per breast and I highly suggest using olive oil as your oil of choice with this one.  I’ve tried it with a few different oils, and olive oil definitely gives the finished product the best flavor.  You also want to make sure and be generous with the salt and pepper on the chicken.  Since we are only using a few ingredients, we want to make sure the meat is well seasoned.  There will be some yummy lemony pan juices left in the cooking dish once the chicken is done cooking, don’t let it go to waste!  When plating, slice the chicken breast and drizzle each once with some juice, it will act like a delicious thin gravy.  And finally with the Brussels sprouts, use BUTTER!  Again we are only using a few ingredients here and butter taste GOOD!

Simple Chicken Dinner

Simple Chicken Dinner

Simple Chicken Dinner

Simple Chicken Dinner

Simple Chicken Dinner

Simple Chicken Dinner

 

Simple Chicken Dinner 

This is pretty much a “no recipe” recipe, but  here we go!!

For the chicken: 

  • Chicken Breast (however many needed, this can be made for 1 or 20!)
  • Lemon slices , two per chicken breast
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper

For the Brussels Sprouts:

  • 1lb Brussels sprouts, each sprout cut in half
  • 2+ Tablespoons butter cut into little cubes
  • Salt & Pepper

For the salad:

  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes of choice (I used Roma) diced
  • Your favorite dressing

Preheat your oven to 425.  Place chicken breast in glass baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, flipping the meat to make sure both sides are lightly covered.  Generously season both sides with salt and pepper.  Top each breast with two slices of lemon. Cover pan with aluminum foil.

Cut each Brussels sprout in half and place cut side down onto a baking sheet.  Top with cubed butter and season with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken and Brussels sprouts side by side into the preheated oven and cook for 23 – 26 mins until chicken is cooked through and the Brussels sprouts have started to caramelize.

There will be some yummy lemony pan juices left in the chicken’s cooking dish, don’t let it go to waste!  When plating ,slice the chicken breast and drizzle each once with some juice, it will act like a delicious thin gravy. Plate up the sprouts and salad and you’re set, ENJOY and relax!

 

I hope this simple dinner makes your mid week a bit easier and a little bit brighter!  As always please leave any questions or thoughts in the comments below!

Cheers!

Traci

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California Bucket List

California Bucket List

When it comes to fun activities and experiences, California has a lot to offer.  You can even go surfing AND snowboarding in the same day if your heart so desires.  Over the last few years we’ve checked a few activities off our “must do” list, including wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma, riding the famous trolleys and eating fresh crab on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, and getting away from it all during a long weekend on Catalina Island.  But there’s still so much to see and do that I decided to start a “California Bucket List” to keep track of everything and to give us a better chance of actually getting out there and DOING these things.  I tend to be a bit forgetful, so lists like this help!  Here’s what we’ve come up with so far.

1.  Take the train….ANYWHERE

With train stations dotted through the state, there’s several locations to choose from.  The Pacific Surfliner Train boast “a unique vantage on the Southern California seascape”  which definitely peaks my interest.  Regardless of our final destination, with a quick visit to the bar cart paired with some beautiful coastal views, the train ride alone should be a pretty nice experience all in itself.

2.  Weekend trip to Santa Barbara

My boyfriend Joel made a visit Santa Barbara for his cousins wedding a couple months before I made the big move down from Seattle.  I remember him telling me how beautiful it was and that he HAD to take me there one day.  Years later with jobs and just LIFE happening, we still haven’t made it up there. Hopefully by putting it on this list, we can make it a reality!

3. Day trip to Stone Brewery 

Joel is a big fan of IPA’s and in particular, Stone IPA.  Stone has two brewery locations in Southern California.  We’ve been told that if we had to choose between the two, the Escondido location wins out.  Apparently the grounds surrounding the brewery consist of luscious gardens and pretty water features.  I’m not a beer drinker myself, so this feature along with some yummy food from their kitchen will make this a fun outing for the both of us!

4. GO GLAMPING!

This trend has been going strong for a while now, and we want in on it!   The hardest part is going to be choosing between staying in a classic Air Stream, a fancy canvas tent, or a vintage trailer by the ocean.  Heck, maybe we’ll do all three!

As of right now, that’s the list!  If you have any other suggestions for my list I would LOVE to hear them!  I’m all about exploring this state and experiencing it’s finest, big and small!  And if you want to get out and see a little more of your current living area, I suggest making a bucket list of your own!  You know that saying “if you build it and they will come”?  WELLLLLL… if you write it down, it will happen!  It could be the small first step you need to start the grand adventure you’ve been dreaming of!

Cheers!

Traci

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