Entries Tagged as 'Giveaways and Collaborations'

Weekend Trip: Monterey County

Posted on: Friday, September 30, 2016

One of my very favorite things about living in San Francisco is how easy it is to get to some incredible places, like Yosemite, Wine Country, and Lake Tahoe, in just a short drive. Another super easy (and beautiful) drive is taking Highway 1 south to the Monterey County area. I’ve been down there several times and have stayed in different areas, from camping in Big Sur to different Airbnbs in small towns like Pacific Grove, Carmel and Seaside. I’ve even stayed at arguably the *best* Best Western along Highway 1 in Monterey County (LOL)!

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a lot of happy memories adventuring down to this part of California – from my first time down there ever with my mom, to getting engaged at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, to a recent visit to Monterey with my parents, E and my sister. I prefer to drive down Highway 1 if we have time, because the views are so stunning. I swear, every five minutes, I’m like PULL OVER! GOTTA TAKE A PIC!

At beach in Seaside!

At beach in Seaside!

Seaside, California

Now let’s talk food. When we’ve camped or stayed right in Big Sur, an absolute must has been going to Big Sur Bakery for ANY meal, or at the very least, pastries. Nepenthe is another great spot for sunset #magichour views and snacks. Here’s some other good food and drink recommendations for this area! One place on my list to try out is Big Sur Taphouse – I’ve heard amazing things from friends. When near the town of Monterey, I like to walk down the boardwalk (even though it’s soooo touristy) and try clam chowder. ;)

If you’re looking for the perfect Instagram photo or to leisurely (or not-so-leisurely depending on how far you go) enjoy the views of the ocean or the Monterey Country area, here’s my favorite spots:McWay Falls, Partington Cove Trail, Bixby Bridge and Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, and the legendary 17-Mile Drive through Carmel. You can also check out this list of outdoor activities if that’s your thing!

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Bixby Bridge!

Pfeiffer Falls - approx. 2 mile hike

Pfeiffer Falls – approx. 2 mile hike

Another fun thing to do in Monterey County (or anywhere, IMO) is shopping! I think Carmel is the cutest town to wander and shop and they have tons of good stores. Downtown Monterey tends to be more tourist-y type shopping if you’re looking for that kind of thing.

Let me know if you have any Monterey area favorites so I can check them out next time I make the drive down! Also, #SeeMonterey is giving away a trip package, including 2 nights at Monterey Tides, 2 tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and a wine blending at Joullian Vineyards. To enter, just comment below sharing what activity you would like to do in Monterey County and a winner will be selected randomly. Good luck!

Downtown Monterey

Downtown Monterey

#LoveOfTheJourney: On entrepreneurship & Wente Vineyards

Posted on: Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Wente #LoveoftheJourney 3

Wente #LoveoftheJourney 5

I recently discovered Wente Vineyards, a winery based a few hours from San Francisco in Livermore. I learned that Wente has been around for more than 130 years and is the country’s oldest continuously family owned and operated winery. While I looooove a good trip to a winery to sit in the sun, casually drinking wine, I haven’t had a chance to visit the Wente winery in person yet. I did pick up a bottle of the Wente Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon here in SF and enjoyed it recently during a picnic in the park!

Wente Vineyards recently launched their #LoveOfTheJourney initiative, celebrating the brand’s heritage and story. Their family – and brand – focuses on the reason behind why they make wine, which is simply because they love doing it and love the journey the Wente family (five generations!) has been on to get to where they are today.

They asked me to share on of my own journeys, so as I was sipping on the Cab Sav in the park, I started thinking about the past few months and my journey as a (newbie!) entrepreneur. I made the leap to launch my own company Lucky Collective a few months ago and it’s been a challenging, but mostly really positive, journey so far. The whole #LoveOfTheJourney idea had me thinking – why did I start my own company? Am I focusing on an “end goal” or am I simply enjoying the journey of entrepreneurship right now?

Rather than always focusing on achieving milestones or growing my business, I want to make sure I’m learning as much as I can, soaking up the experiences in front of me, and enjoying the freedom and flexibility that comes with being my own boss. I’ve learned A LOT about myself by working solo and the importance of confidence and believing you are good enough to do a job or get a client, “selling yourself” and networking, strategic time management skills, and when it’s okay to just slow down and RELAX (or celebrate – both which require wine, naturally). My go-to way to relax, especially on weekends, is to pack up an epic picnic (including a bottle of wine!) and hang out in Duboce Park near my apartment. This past weekend, we picnicked while sipping on the Wente Cab Sav, lounged and played cards – it was definitely a really great way to stop the hustle and bustle of work and emails and to-do lists and just soak up the sunny afternoon.

Thank you to Wente Vineyards for partnering on this post and for the challenge to focus on my own #LoveOfTheJourney! Learn more about Wente on their Facebook page + Twitter. Cheers!

Wente #LoveoftheJourney 1

Wente #LoveoftheJourney 2

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Wente #LoveoftheJourney 6

trip to monterey & big sur

Posted on: Monday, May 16, 2016

#GrabYourMoment Monterey - 15

Last weekend, my parents and sister Hope were visiting California and we decided to break up their visit by spending some time in San Francisco and the rest down in Monterey County! This area of California is one of my very favorites; I have very fond, happy memories (including getting engaged!) visiting places like Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur with both Eric and my parents in the past, and also it’s arguably one of the most beautiful drives along Highway 1 in California. I was SO excited for this trip! It’s been wayyy too long since my last visit (November 2014 for engagement) and I was due for an adventure down there. We stayed in Monterey and had a chance to explore there and Carmel, but we carved out a full day on Mother’s Day to explore Big Sur.

I wanted to share a few photos from our trip and explain some of the places we visited! I love living so close (less than 2.5 hour drive from SF!) to this beautiful stretch of coast, and being in Monterey and Big Sur over the weekend reminded me that I need to plan more weekend trips down here soon. Enjoy!

Exploring Monterreythe town is so cute and we happened to be there on a pretty sleepy, not-super-touristy weekend (yay!). We spent our first afternoon/evening just wandering around Cannery Row and along the ocean on the way to Lover’s Point and had a delicious dinner at Cannery Row Brewing Company. My mom spent a half hour just sitting on the rocks observing the pretty view – it was the cutest! We stayed at THE cutest Airbnb in Monterey –  pictured below, but you can find more lodging options on the Monterey County website. Isn’t that fireplace so dreamy?

#GrabYourMoment Monterey - 5 #GrabYourMoment Monterey - 4 #GrabYourMoment Monterey - 8 #GrabYourMoment Monterey - 6 #GrabYourMoment Monterey - 10

BIG SUR // Bixby Bridge & Highway 1 : On Sunday, we woke up early and drove down Highway 1, heading to Big Sur! The best part about road tripping through Monterey County is stopping whenever you want to catch the stunning views. We stopped A LOT! I always make sure to stop at Bixby Bridge, which is kind of like the entrance to Big Sur and a super iconic (and beautiful) view.
#GrabYourMoment Monterey - 13 #GrabYourMoment Monterey - 9

BIG SUR // Partington Cove Trail Hiking: One of our stops during our Big Sur trip was at this trail, where we went down a bridge and also through a tunnel to get to the ocean! It was gorgeous (and worth that uphill hike back to the car!)

#GrabYourMoment Monterey - 1 #GrabYourMoment Monterey - 3

BIG SUR // McWay Falls: This place is literally magical. McWay Falls is the most amazing waterfall in Big Sur that falls into the sand, right along the ocean. The views are truly breathtaking and the walk to see the views is really accessible (good for parents who aren’t used to our California hills!). The view in the top photo is also from McWay Falls.
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BIG SUR // Pfeiffer Beach: This place is super special to me. The first time I visited this beach was at sunset with my mom about four years ago and it was a really memorable weekend together. This is also the spot, at sunset, where Eric proposed to me, so I obviously get all the feels being here. We spent a few hours here just lounging on the beach – mom and dad napped, while E, Hope and I played cards and just soaked up the Big Sur sunshine!
#GrabYourMoment Monterey - 12 #GrabYourMoment Monterey - 14

If you haven’t been to Monterey or Big Sur, I HIGHLY recommend visiting! Here’s some suggestions:

Places to eat/drink (we went to all of these spots this weekend!): Big Sur Bakery for pastries and coffee, weekend brunch or dinner, Nepenthe in Big Sur for a drink overlooking the ocean, Big Sur Taphouse for local beer, Cannery Row Brewing Company in Monterey for dinner/drinks

Fun things to do outdoors / pretty views: wander around Lover’s Point in Monterey, hike in Big Sur, stop at beautiful spots like McWay Falls, Partington Cove Trail, Bixby Bridge and Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, do the legendary 17-Mile Drive through Carmel.

Here’s the full list of Monterey County regions, including Big Sur, Monterey, Carmel, Salinas and more, with additional suggestions! #GrabYourMoment and plan a trip ASAP!

Experiences Over Things: Dinner Party with IfOnly

Posted on: Friday, April 8, 2016

Dinner Party with IfOnly - Empty Table

“Spending money on experiences ‘provide[s] more enduring happiness’…Experiences tend to make people happier because they are less likely to measure the value of their experiences by comparing them to those of others…Those waiting for experiences were in better moods than those waiting for material goods.” – Excerpt from Buy Experiences, Not Possessions article

You’ve likely seen things like the above pop up in your newsfeed in the past, all about why you should spend your time and money on experiences vs. possessions. While I love getting a new purse or pair of shoes (#notsorry), it never quite competes with an amazing experience, whether that’s a concert, vacation or cooking class. The whole topic of gifts vs. experiences has been a topic of conversation around our house lately, as yesterday was Eric’s birthday. For birthdays and holidays, we’ve been mostly sticking to gifting one another experiences – we’ve done cooking and pickling classes, concerts, surprise weekend trips in sweet Airbnbs, etc. – and thinking about each brings back really fun memories. Of course, tangible gifts are always good too, but experiences seem to have more longevity in terms of what we end up talking about and remembering.

I recently discovered IfOnly, an online marketplace where you can book different cool, one-in-a-lifetime experiences — from jam-making classes and wine tasting trips to sailing trips around the Bay and meeting cool athletes, musicians and designers. One cool difference between IfOnly and other experience-based sites if that every experience booked also gives back to a specific cause. They work with TONS of nonprofits (check out the full list on their site).

I had to chance to try out an IfOnly experience and decided to have a chef come to our house and cook dinner! E and I really love inviting people into our home to drink wine, enjoy a meal and just spend time together, but usually we are the ones cooking! This was the first time I’ve had someone cover over and cook FOR us at our apartment. I picked this Californian cuisine “A Feast for the Senses” meal and invited a few friends over for dinner last Sunday evening. The experience included a three-course meal, as well as all of the fresh ingredients, set-up and clean-up and gratuity.

The chef who cooked our meal (also known as an IfOnly luminary) was Marisa Cole and she was SO kind and talented. She was helpful beforehand running the proposed menu by me and super accommodating when I shared that we would like a pescetarian meal and no mushrooms. She went above and beyond to make it such a fun and special night, even doing little things like decanting the wine, putting together a cheese plate for us prior to the ‘official meal’ started and bringing a dessert wine over for us to drink after dinner. I’m pretty sure we were the most unprepared and un-fancy group of people she’s cooked for (I had to run to CVS to get real napkins after realizing we only had paper towels…) and that our kitchen was the smallest she has ever cooked in, but she was super relaxed and go-with-the-flow about everything.
Here’s what we ate and some photos! Also…my iPhone photos don’t do her food justice, especially given it was dark by the time we had our entrees and dessert. (And make sure to scroll to the end of the post to see a $50 discount code off your next IfOnly experience!)
APPETIZER: Radicchio, olive, and fennel panzanella salad. This was absolutely delicious. Marisa plated this salad as a tower – so beautiful!
Dinner Party with IfOnly - Above Shot
Dinner Party with IfOnly - Salad 3
Dinner Party with IfOnly - Salad 2
Dinner Party with IfOnly - Salad Top Shot
MAIN COURSE: Seared diver scallops with tangerine beurre blanc served with gnudi (similar to gnocchi, but not made with potatoes and just made with ricotta cheese, eggs and flour) with asparagus and spring peas. These scallops were fresh from the ferry building that morning!
Dinner Party with IfOnly - Entree
Dinner Party with IfOnly - Entree 2
DESSERT: Ginger-nut strawberry tart with chocolate custard. This was gluten-free and there was no sugar in the crust! So delicious and healthy!

Dinner Party with IfOnly - Dessert

I highly recommend hosting your own dinner party with Marisa – my friends all texted me the next day saying how delicious and amazing everything was (and we ate the amazing leftovers the next day!).

Check out IfOnly for unique experience ideas – you get $50 off your first experience purchase using the code LUCKY! If you’re an artist/chef/local expert on a cool topic, you should sign up to be an IfOnly luminary…it’s a great way to inspire others, grow your clientele, make some extra $$ and give back to a cause you care about!

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