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LIFE, ETC.

Tips on how to Manage Seasonal Depression

Before I moved to Boston, there were times I threw around the word “seasonal depression” and after living through some harsh winters, I now realize I had no idea what I was talking about. Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or “winter blues,” is simply a depression that comes and goes with the seasons. Typically it starts in the late fall and goes away end of spring/early summer.

Although I was never officially diagnosed with SAD (if people even do?), I can say I’ve definitely experienced with it. And I don’t think I even knew it was a real thing that I needed to cope with. Flash back to my first winters in Boston, I definitely felt the difference in the winters I had experienced while living in San Diego. The days were short, you barely saw the sun..even if at all, and the temperatures were beyond freezing which I would imagine if I were a psychologist would be where SAD comes from.

Here I’ll be sharing what I learned to get you through the winter months in the best spirits!

Seasonal Affective Disorder

What this boils down to is that shorter days and less sunlight really do affect the brain’s chemical balance. This causes a circadian rhythm shift during the change in seasons so SAD is more common for people who live further from the equator which makes sense why I experienced it to a greater degree in Boston.

I also read that if you are already struggling with regulating serotonin SAD will be heightened/last throughout warmer/sunnier days, even though it is much less common.

Who does SAD affect?

SAD is more common in women, young adults/adolescents, and people who have previously struggled with depression and/or bipolar. According to studies I read, women are 4x more likely to be diagnosed and the most common age range is 18-30 years old.

Do you have seasonal depression?

Some of the most common symptoms of SA are having low energy, hypersomnia, overeating, weight gain (hmm maybe this is where the term winter weight comes in?) craving carbs, and even social withdrawal aka hibernation.

How to Manage Seasonal Depression

  • Take a Vitamin D supplement. It’s said that vitamin D can help increase your serotonin which is what is known to if you lack, increase the risk of depression. I was a firm believer in mind over matter with this one, because everywhere I read it states that more research is needed.
  • Brighten your day. If you sit in an office with no windows, make a point to move around and work from another area if you can for a few hours. If you have plants blocking sunlight, move them. Add plants (real ones) will also help your brain regulate yourself.
  • Get outside. Bundle up and brave the cold, especially on those cold but sunny days. And don’t forget to do this while you’re outside….
  • Move your body. I know it’s hard, and I’m the first one to come up with a million excuses but I am a firm believe in getting more endorphins. Working out, this could be simple from going on a walk, trying a new workout class, or even trying to follow a YouTube workout class. You won’t regret it when it’s done.
  • Focus on all things positive. When SAD starts to come in, it’s easy to want to just get in bed when it’s dark out at 5pm and cuddle under blankets. But focus on positive things, like friendships, weekend getaways, anything that brings you joy, makes you happy, and gives you something to look forward too.
  • Get a sun lamp. I love these because I hear them so often get called “happy lamps” and how can you not smile when you talk about them! These are literally lamps to promote happiness which are therapy lamps mimic sunlight to enhance mood, energy, sleep & focus – but without those UV rays.

Although this list did help me overcome and get through the typical winter blues, I am in no shape or form a medical professional, nor am I claiming to be. This is meant to give you some new ideas to see what works for you. If you think you need to, I would recommend reaching out to a doctor and get help.

Did you have something that worked for you to overcome seasonal depression? Let me know!

~ XOXO, the girl who’s forever fun of sunshine, Amanda

NOURISH

The New Spots in San Diego You Can’t Miss

I know I’m not the only one who has their favorite restaurants/bars and when the time comes to meet up with friends, is a creature of habit because, 1. I know it’s good and 2. I’m craving my favorite menu item. Since moving back to San Diego, there are sooo many new spots that have popped up. Luckily for you, I’ve been trying them all! Here are my top new spots in San Diego that I’m now obsessed with! 

Where to eat in San Diego

Parakeet Cafe

Looking for the most adorable cafe? Parakeet Cafe has got you covered! You walk into Parakeet Cafe and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be immediately obsessed. Not to mention everyone was so friendly! I was between a few options on the menu (surprise, surprise) and the employee helped me pick! I went with a friend for brunch/lunch and we ended up getting avocado toast with poached eggs and added smoked salmon and a cocoa waffle (which was gluten free, btw). Both options were delicious, how can you go wrong with a savory and sweet picks? We also got a chai tea latte, a cold brew, and just to try a beet latte. I would recommend all of them! The beet latte is very instagramable, just in case you’re into that kinda thing ;)! 

The decor is themed with a tropical vibe and you can see neon lite signs, “birds of a feather” “tweet tweet” and more. They have a variety of gluten free pastries that you need to get for later and bring your pup because the patio is dog friendly! There’s three locations in San Diego – Del Mar at One Paseo (the one I went to), La Jolla, and Little Italy. 

Farmer’s Table 

I’ve heard great things about Farmer’s Table and let me tell you, all of my expectations were met! I went on a mother – daughter brunch date here and we both loved it. The restaurant is decorated so cute and I love their saying “farm to fork” -it’s so cute and is a fun play on farm to table. I love that they even have a tractor inside! And every corner of the restaurant is decorated differently. They have a huge patio and it’s even dog friendly! 

We got a bloody mary and mimosa and both were great. The Tijuana Maria was very instagrammable! It even had grilled street corn on it and was loaded with all the goodies. For food, we got the turkey benedict and the heirloom tomato frittata which were both 10/10. You could tell how fresh everything was. Make sure to save room for dessert because we got the nutella bread with strawberries and bananas which was so delicious!

I would also like to point out that the service was also amazing, we got everything we needed right away and they really went the extra mile. I would recommend this place for breakfast and I can’t wait to go back again!

Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung is not new to the restaurant world, but it is new to San Diego. It started as a cooking oil retail shop in 1958 and then in 1972 transitioned into a full fledged restaurant and immediately started to win awards. There is a buzz around this restaurant, Forbes named them as having “the world’s greatest dumplings” and it even has a Michelin star.

I went to their location at UTC in La Jolla which was busy even on a Tuesday afternoon! We had a reservation but this place is known to have long wait times and even wait months to get one. The decor is very chic with a gold wall when you enter with a huge window so you can see the chef’s hard at work making the dumplings. We decided we wanted a variety and tried a few items! We got vegetable & mushroom dumplings, shrimp & kurobuta pork dumplings, sauteed string beans with garlic, and shrimp fried noodles. Everything was delicious, but the string beans were out of this world! If you’re in the area, I’d recommend stopping in…with a reservation of course!

Gravity Heights

Gravity Heights quickly became my go-to spot for anything after my first visit! I first went for brunch and it was amazing. I can’t say how much service can impact an experience, our server (if you go and Mitch is working you have to sit in his area) and he was one of the best waiters I think I’ve ever had. The restaurant/brewery itself was very cute and chic! There is a huge wrap-around bar that would be perfect for football games along with a beer garden, full size restaurant and patio seating. They have a huge selection of brews, cocktails, ciders, and even hard kombucha. 

Just make sure you come hungry because there are so many delicious options! We loved the crab fries, ahi tuna starter, white pizza (whipped burrata, need I say more?), and the avocado toast with crab. We also HAD to get dessert and they were amazing. We loved the strawberry shortcake and the cast iron cookie.

Lagom Food

Lagom is a community in the search for balance. Not too little, not too much – just right. How does that not draw you in? If you’re anything like me, it will. This place has family owned from start to finish, their chic pink decor makes you want to hangout in the restaurant for hours, and the owners walk around to see how everything is. The chef even made a few appearances! We got a lavender & chai latte, both were very delish! Their acai bowls were very tempting but I went with chilaquiles and boy will I be drooling over them from now on. Everything that came out of the kitchen looked amazing and I can’t wait to go back and try everything on the menu. You could tell it was so fresh and no ingredient was overlooked. 

What are your new favorite spots in San Diego? I’m always looking for new restaurants to try out!

~ XOXO, the forever exploring, Amanda

Here's to 2020 picture
LIFE, ETC.

My 20 Intentions for 2020

It’s already time to say au revoir to 2019 and hello to 2020! This year has been a whirlwind of a year that was filled with lots of hardships, trying days, but as well as new opportunities and lots of learning.

I feel like every year we get the chance to reset, to look within and outside and reflect. But this year I feel like there’s even more pressure. It’s the end of a decade after all. Heading into a new decade to me is both exciting and intimidating, I’ve long lost the idea for resolutions that are so easy to come and go. Instead, I’ve tried to set intentions. Intentions that will help live the best version of myself, small steps, every day. I try to think of intentions that are not only beneficial to me physically and mentally, but things I can stick to, actually achieve and turn into habits.

I won’t lie, some of these are bucket list items, things I need to do, and some are just plain for fun. This is my way to combine both my bucket list with my to-do list along with my big goals and take strides to achieve them.

My Intentions for 2020

1. Run 3.2 (or a 5k) without stopping. I hate running, like I loathe it, and would rather do any other workout. But I’ve always wanted to like it. So this year, I’m hoping to turn into a runner.
2. Invest more in my Roth IRA. There’s nothing like saving for a rainy day and preparing for the future. This is something I should become better at and making it more of a habit.
3. Read a book a month. I am notorious for buying books and then never finishing them or even picking them up.
4. See a new play. I love a good play, and it’s something I’ve done occasionally since I was young, and then, of course, becoming obsessed with the soundtrack.
5. Drive up the coast, the 101, and spontaneously find a city to sleep in. Does this stress anyone else out?! Dear Lord, I love to have a plan. But I am trying to be more open to going with the flow.
6. Update my San Diego blog. I made my San Diego bucket list blog, almost three years ago. There are so many new spots to see, places to eat, and stuff to do that I want to share with you all!
7. No more negative self talk. This is something I’ve always struggled with, and if we don’t love and appreciate ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to?!
8. Set foot in a new continent. There’s no hiding my love for travel, which is why this shouldn’t a surprise to anyone.
9. Try acupuncture. This freaks me out to no end. I hate needles, the thought just makes me queasy. But I’ve heard such great things about it – why not go in with an open mind and give it a try!
10. Make a recipe from every cookbook I have. I love to buy cookbooks (see a theme here?!) but rarely if ever, use them! And the recipes look and sound delicious – unless I fail miserably, how would they not taste delicious?
11. Find the perfect little black dress. This always seems so easy – and then I try on about 50 and give up. But I see them on everyone else. I want one too!
12. Watch 10 classic films. I am probably the person you can always count on to say, “I’ve never seen that!” And then slump in my chair in embarrassment. No more 2020, no more!
13. Find out my blood type. This may seem stupid, but it’s something I’ve always wondered. Now let’s just hope that I can find this out without giving blood.
14. Buy a piece of property. And turn it into my real-life Barbie Dream House (kidding…kind of). This has long been my dream and then my life has taken a different turn – but here’s to 2020 and making a long-time dream come true.
15. Go one month without shopping. But of course, buy the essentials of course!
16. Design a bar cart. I’ve always been a sucker for a cute bar cart, and would any Barbie Dream House be complete without a bar cart to go along with it?! That’s a rhetorical question, just in case you didn’t get the memo.
17. Journal every day for a month. EVERYDAY! Even if it’s a small thought, something mundane about my day. I used to be good about this, for a week on and off but never consistently. It was always so fun to go back and read!
18. Hit and maintain a healthy weight. This goes along with the no negative self-talk. But to me, I’ve always been driven by a number on a scale vs. how I feel. I want to be toned and to look in the mirror and be like DAMN GIRL, GET IT!
19. Plan a blogger event. I loved my blogging girls in Boston (MISS YOU!!!) and I want that in San Diego! What’s better to create this by planning a blogging event?!
20. BE HAPPY! This is huge. And this should be on everyone’s list of intentions. Except moving it up to the top.

I went on some amazing trips, lived life to the fullest, made memories that will last a lifetime, and today I am GRATEFUL for all the ebbs and flows, and the moments of 2019 that showed me so much. It showed me who my people truly were. It showed me what happens when after the burn, what rock bottoms is, and letting love in and out is always always worth it! so here is my final Goodbye 2019 – I am welcoming 2020 with open arms. ⁣

Now you tell me, what are your New Year’s intentions you want to work on?

~ XOXO, cheers to 2020, Amanda

ADVENTURE

Your Weekend Guide to Seattle, WA

I recently took a weekend getaway to Seattle and it’s safe to say my weekend in Seattle was cram packed because there’s so much to see, do, and of course, eat! I first went to Seattle when I was in college and living on the west coast again, I need to take advantage of all the perfect weekend destinations, like Seattle. I went in early November and I lucked out with great weather! It wasn’t too cold and it didn’t rain until the last afternoon on the day we were leaving. Here’s everything you need to know about traveling to Seattle, WA!

Ultimate Seattle Bucket List 

What to do in Seattle

Seattle Great Wheel

Last time I was in Seattle, I didn’t make it on the great wheel..but this time it was a top priority! The Seattle Great Wheel is located on Pier 57 The Seattle Great Wheel gives you unbeatable views of the city, the mountains in the distance, and the water. You go right over the water so if you’re a little scared of heights, I wouldn’t sit and stare down. You will get to go around the wheel three times so I recommend switching the side you’re sitting half way through to make sure you get the best of all the views! 

You can sit up to 6 people in a gondola and unless you have kids in your party, there’s even a bar you can grab a drink while you’re waiting in line. 

Space Needle 

The Space Needle is an iconic Seattle landmark that was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair and to this day is known to be one of the most photographed structures in the world. The tower stands 520 feet tall and gives viewers 360 degree panoramic views. 

Once you step out of the elevator, there’s two floors, the bottom floor is a glass bottom that revolves. It’s a little sketchy because you can see more than 500 feet down! The upper level has benches and a glass wallIf you can, try to visit the Space Needle on a day when “the mountain is out”. Which means it’s a clear day and you can see Mt. Rainier.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

This garden (not sure exactly what to call it) is beautiful! Dale Chihuly is the famous glass sculptor who created everything. There are three main parts, the garden, the glasshouse, and the exhibits where you see beautiful sculptures and colorful glass. It’s a quick spot, about an hour to see the whole thing but it’s so worth it! 

TIP: You can get admission to the Space Needle, Chihuly, the Aquarium, and two other attractions for one price with the Seattle CityPASS. It can offer great money savings if you’re visiting all the popular spots. OR if you aren’t going to the Aquarium you can buy tickets to both the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden together and save a few bucks. 

Waterways Cruises 

Ahoy! The Waterway cruises take off from both Seattle, WA & Kirkland, WA which is only about 15 minutes from Seattle. We took off for our dinner cruise out of Kirkland and it was a cute little town, to me it felt like it would be a cute set for a movie. The cruise itself was a little over 2.5 hours and we were out on both Lake Union & Lake Washington, not to mention we got beautiful views of the Seattle city skyline on the water. Seattle does have a beautiful skyline! 

We had a great meal as well! The captain and crew welcome you on board with a glass of champagne. We started off with caramelized onion & tomato bisque soup, then for the main course I got salmon and my Mom got steak, both were outstanding. We ended our cruise with a crème brulee. 

Waterways also has weekend brunch cruises, supper cruises (which is a buffet), and they even do weddings and events on board. For more information or to book your own, visit Waterways website! 

Kerry Park

If you’ve ever watched Grey’s Anatomy, this spot is a must. It’s where Meredith Gray spent a lot of her talks with her friends – Christina Yang & Alex Kerev. Even better? You can see Meredith’s “intern house” just a block away. You get amazing views of the city, even on not the clearest day. It’s about 10 minutes away from downtown and totally worth it, grab a cup of coffee/tea/hot chocolate and head up. 

Amazon Spheres 

This is an absolute must! It’s basically a cluster of bio-domes/life size terrariums, where Amazon workers get to work during the week. I was very jealous of their offices, really puts mine to shame! They open them to the public on Saturdays for viewing, so make note during your trip, and be sure to buy tickets ahead of time because they do sell out! 

Plant Shop in Capitol Hill

I have no green thumb whatsoever but I love admiring a cute plant shop, and the one in Capitol Hill was beautiful! They have two levels of plants and if I lived near, I’m sure I’d be in all the time. 

The Underground 

Did you know that under Seattle in Pioneer Square, there was once an underground city? Neither did I! We did a tour with Beneath the Streets which was a one hour walking tour and it’s kinda crazy to think about. The underground was built in the 1890’s and it’s still standing today, although it’s not in use. I personally think it would be great for speakeasies. Seattle’s underground was built because of a huge fire that took out most of their downtown (31 blocks) which at the time was mostly businesses. They needed to rebuild fast so people could make money, but they also were smart and saw this as a time to make their city better. 

Pioneer Square was built on filled-in tidelands so they rebuilt the city with bricks to help with the flooding/fires and made their city two stories tall and hence the Underground was born! I won’t go too much into detail because it’s a great tour that I’d recommend. Our tour guide was Patty and if you can get a tour with her, I’d try to! She was very knowledgeable and also very entertaining! 

Gum Wall 

Just around the corner from Pike’s Place, this place may be the most touristy, but I had so much fun! You blow a bubble and put it on a wall, it may sound even disgusting, but it’s a great photo – op! 

Pike’s Place

This may be one of the biggest tourist attractions in Seattle, and I fall into the trap! I love a good farmer’s market so this is no different. There’s delicious foods at every corner, I still don’t know how you’re supposed to pick what to try. There are hundreds of vendors to buy countless items and eat anything you’d want. My favorite? The famous flying fish I had seen their “show” before and we were patiently waiting, and saw a group of school children. We asked if they were going to do some throwing and he pulled us right over and started throwing fish right over our heads! It was literally amazing. 

Where to Eat in Seattle 

Pike Place Chowder

Pike Place Chowder seems to be a staple of everyone who goes to Seattle, I have a high standard for clam chowder after living in New England but I thought why not try it! And not too much to my surprise, it was yummy. Soup on a chilly/rainy day in Seattle..is there anything better?! If you’re really feeling adventurous and hungry, you can get a bowl of clam chowder in a bread bowl.

Beecher’s Cheese

If you know me, you know I love cheese so it should be obvious that I had to try the world’s best mac and cheese. I must say, I was impressed, it was very delicious. You can watch them make a HUGE (no exaggeration) tub full of cheese through the window. I’ve heard this is what people bring home on plane’s to their friends and family! 

Piroshky Piroshky

Although I didn’t eat here, I’ve heard nothing but great things! It’s a Russian pastry stuffed with some sort of fillings, both sweet and savory. The line is almost just as long as the original Starbucks, but it does move very quickly. Rumor on the street is that, the smoked salmon is a go to if you’re in a savory mood, and the cinnamon is the best if you’re in a sweet mood.

Biscuit Bitch

This is a popular location for locals and tourists alike, and while it’s yummy, biscuits and gravy just don’t get me going. And that’s pretty much what it is! You can get a whole bunch of different flavors on fluffy biscuits just like down south. 

Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar

If you’re looking for some delicious seafood and great views right on the water, you have to Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar! You will get your authentic Pacific Northwest seafood that will amaze you. It was really hard to pick what to get because everything sounded amazing. From deviled eggs, crab cakes, sriracha shrimp, crab & shrimp louie, seared ahi, tacos, fish and chips…how do you decide? The answer? You don’t, your waiter picks for you! We ended up getting clam chowder (in a bread bowl this time) and whole dungeness crab which were both so fresh! I’d highly recommend this place. 

Serious Pie

This is what you’d think, some serious pizza. Serious Pie is one of Seattle’s famous Chef, Tom Douglas’ restaurants. I heard they’re all really yummy/worth going to but this is the one we chose! The pizzas have anything you’d like on them, charcuterie, mushrooms, and all the cheeses. Who doesn’t love a good pizza? I know I do! Was it the best pizza I’ve ever had? I wouldn’t go that far. 

Shaker and Spear

This restaurant is very chic inside, and very Instagramable (if you’re into that kind of thing). You have to order the crusted rockfish, it’s unreal and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever had before. And for a starter you have to get the ricotta kale pomegranate dish. I also loved their cocktails and the names of them, to give you a taste, my favorite was deliver me from L.L. Bean which is Camus vs cognac, benedictine D.O.M., chai, lemon, soda, and bubbles. 

I couldn’t decide to go here for dinner or brunch because they both looked/sounded so delicious and we chose dinner but it was great, so if you’re looking for a brunch place..I’m sure you can’t go wrong with this choice!

Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream

I’m a sucker for ice cream, and this was some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had. I tried a lot of them (no shame!!) and ended up going with the flavor vegan chocolate donut and I’m not a vegan, but I’m not sure I could taste the difference between the ones that were vegan/not.

Monsoon

This was one of my favorite meals I had in Seattle. It’s a small Vietnamese restaurant so I would recommend making a reservation in advance. You have to order dungeness crab roll, caramelized idaho catfish claypot, green beans, and wild chanterelle mushrooms. Everything was so delish! I didn’t think I would be a fan of the catfish, but the waiter assured us that they were really good and one of their most popular dishes and we were glad we ended up getting them. The desserts looked amazing too, we just had no room. 

The Pink Door 

I heard about this bar from a few people and it was highly recommended! It’s in Post Alley and there’s no sign for the restaurant, just..you guessed it..a pink door. We didn’t eat here, just grabbed a drink, but the food did look good.

Where to get Coffee in Seattle

The Original Starbucks 

I get the hype because I’m a big fan of Starbucks but if the line is insanely long, I’m not sure I’d wait. This time I didn’t. I’ve been into the original Starbucks before, and I feel like once you do it once you won’t do it again. It’s definitely a bucket list check off in Seattle!

Starbucks Reserve

This spot is perfect for coffee lovers, as soon as you walk in you’re immediately overcome in the fresh coffee smells and I was in heaven. You can buy goodies, snacks, and even try a premium cup of coffee in a unique setting.  

Oddfellows Cafe

There’s the Oddfellows Cafe and Bar as well as Little Oddfellows at Elliott Bay Book Co. which is the location I went to. While their coffee looks amazing, and I’m sure it is, I got hot chocolate with their homemade marshmallows which were 10/10. It was very photogenic too which is always a plus in my book. They also have your typical brunch/lunch menu and even cocktails! If I lived in Seattle I’m sure I’d be a regular here. 

Where to Stay in Seattle 

The Edgewater Hotel in Seattle

We stayed at The Edgewater hotel very close to downtown, you can also read my full review of The Edgewater hotel. We absolutely loved it, the hotel was right on the water and we were able to walk over to Pike’s/Pier 57. We lucked out with the hotel! It was a quick Uber/Lyft ride to everywhere we wanted to go. It’s also about a 5 minute walk to the monorail! 

Hopefully now you’re convinced to go to Seattle, whether you’re near or far!

~ XOXO, the Pacific Northwest Loving, Amanda 

The front drive of The Edgewater Hotel in Seattle
ADVENTURE

Hotel Spotlight: The Edgewater Hotel in Seattle, WA

Last month, during my long weekend getaway to Seattle, WA I had the pleasure of staying at The Edgewater Hotel. I felt like as soon as I walked in that I was in a comfy cozy cabin that was comforting. The Edgewater is the only waterfront hotel in downtown Seattle which gave breathtaking views at all hours of the day. You have the Olympic Mountains in the background and you’re looking directly at Elliott Bay. The Edgewater is a Noble House Hotel who specializes in luxury one of a kind hotel which translated to The Edgewater where no detail was overlooked.

About The Edgewater

The Edgewater was created to be a beautiful hotel from the beginning. It was built in 1962 for The World Fair (like the Space Needle) and to this day, is a favorite for locals and frequent Seattle visitors. The design and decor in the Edgewater give off the Pacific Northwest feel.

The hotel is such a popular hotel that rock and roll legends have stayed including Beatles, Pearl Jam, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Ozzy Osbourne, KISS, Neil Young, Frank Zappa, Blondie, Jewel, David Bowie, Emmy Lou Harris, Iggy Pop, Jessica Simpson, Rod Stewart, Willie Nelson, and I’m sure there’s more. To this day, there’s a Pearl Jam and Beatles room in the hotel. I didn’t get to check them out, but I heard they are amazing. You can even rent a record player from the front desk to jam out in your room!

My favorite part of the rooms at the Edgewater? The fireplace in your room. There was nothing like listening to the rain and hearing the crackling of the fireplace as you fall asleep. I will warn you, the seagulls think you’ll feed them. So if you like to keep your stay peaceful and quiet, don’t feed the birds!

Seattle’s Waterfront Restaurant

Located in the Edgewater is their restaurant, Six Seven which was absolutely delicious. We ate there for lunch when we first landed and we had no idea what to expect. Needless to say, we loved it. They have a great selection of local wines (drink local, right?) which we indulged in. The restaurant has beautiful waterfront views and a beautiful fireplace.

We split the Pacific Northwest Cesar and had roasted tomato bisque. I was dying to try the truffle fries, but somehow I resisted.

Pro Tip: they have a great happy hour, don’t miss out!

The Best Hotel in Downtown Seattle

The staff was all friendly, from the bellmen to the front desk crew, to the wait staff in the restaurant, and even the gift shop/coffee shop. The guest rooms are either city side or waterside, I’d recommend going with the Waterview because chances are you’ll be exploring the city all day. All the rooms have a European-spa style bathroom with a glass-encased shower which I thought was such fun.

I highly recommend staying at The Edgewater for both locals and visitors. At the very least, go for a dinner or cocktail.

~ XOXO, the newly obsessed, Amanda

A cart full of holiday items at Trader Joe's in San Diego
NOURISH

The Best Seasonal Holiday Items at Trader Joe’s

It’s time, it’s officially time!! The holiday season is here!! Can you picture little Elf Amanda saying that? Because I hope you did! As promised, I am letting you guys in on what I think are the best seasonal holiday items at the famous Trader Joe’s. 

Holiday Items at Trader Joe’s

I’ve tried most of everything I like to think and I love Christmas so I’ll take every excuse to get festive, here are my favorite (must buy’s – if you will) of what you should buy this season! So let’s start the season of eating…diet starts in the new year, right?! From Thanksgiving to Christmas and even into New Year’s we all have countless parties to attend to bring things, and these are perfect! Or if you don’t, indulge yourself!

Autumn Maple Coffee

Is there anything more cozy than a freshly brewed warm cups of coffee on a cool morning? I don’t think so! These grounds have a hint of maple, just enough so you can taste it but it’s not overwhelming for a sweet cup for your morning!

Jingle Jangle

This is addicting so be careful, you can probably eat the whole container without realizing! It’s that good. This is a combination of milk chocolate-covered mini pretzels WITH dark chocolate-covered caramel popcorn, dark chocolate-covered Joe Joe’s cookie bits, candy-coated milk chocolate gems, AND mini peanut butter cups. Need I say more? P.S. they even have a jingle jangle ice cream if you want more!

Cranberry Chevre OR Fig Fresh Goat Cheese

I love adding a log of goat cheese to any cheese board…and why not make your board more festive while you’re at it. I personally LOVE the fig and LIKE the cranberry chevre but I also like a little more savory than sweet. 

Eggnog Greek Yogurt

You egg nog lovers can run to the store ASAP! Because this is for you! I like to think of this yogurt as Christmas in a cup and I like to think it’s a little better for you than the traditional eggnog. And they also have eggnog almond milk. 

Turkey and Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips

You guys, these are my new favorite. You know how Lay’s (or whoever) always tries to come out with new/odd flavors of chips and 9/10 they fail? Well, of course Trader Joe’s didn’t. 

Spiced Cider

HOLY MOLY, this is so good warm! I love with with a shot of your fave alcohol, or even warm for the kiddies! It makes me feel so festive and gets me into the seasonal mood!

Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s

For everyone who love the spiced cider Joe-Joe’s, those are good. But these are great. Like buy a few extra to put in your freezer so in February you can grab a box! They’re your traditional Joe-Joe’s but with candy cane pieces mixed into the cream. If you really wanna go all out..you can get them dipped in dark chocolate also. 

Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast with Gravy

As Trader Joe’s is always good for, this is an option for both vegetarians and vegans on Thanksgiving, and I like their meatless meatballs..so of course I like this. Yes, it’s not real turkey, but it’s pretty delish!

Naughty or Nice Dog Treats

Gatsby will only be eating the nice dog treats this season because we’re not taking any chances. They also have puppy treat advent calendar, and you can bet Gatsby got one of those!

Winter Snowflake Pasta

These snowflakes are your typical pasta but I swear they taste better! If you’re like me and living in a warmer city where you won’t be getting snow then this helps fill the void (a little!)

Turkey Cranberry Meatballs

These are dreamy! They’re so perfect for any occasion – you can serve them as an appetizer with toothpicks or on top of Trader Joe’s snowflake pasta. Am I too festive? No, okay good..but on a serious note, they have turkey, cranberries, and flavors of stuffing inside so it’s like you’re eating a Thanksgiving dinner in one bite. 

Dark Chocolate Minty Mallows

Since I’m the one who’s always on a diet, these are perfect because they’re bite size (portion control). They’re peppermint-flavored marshmallows coated in dark chocolate which are great for something to satisfy your sweet tooth or put out on the dessert table!

Mashed Sweet Potatoes With Pecans

This is the perfect holiday side…with ZERO stress but all the yum. This is your typical sweet potatoes, butter, cinnamon, and maple-roasted pecans side dish that all you have to do is heat up. And waaa-laaa, your dish is done. 

Cinnamon Rugelach

Trader Joe’s sadly didn’t bring back their cinnamon roll wreath, but this is almost as good. It’s more of a croissant texture and rolled with a date and cinnamon filling. I like to top it with a little bit of powdered sugar for a “snow like” effect. 

Scallops Wrapped In Uncured Bacon With Brown Sugar Glaze

It’s a little DUH moment that these are delicious…scallops and bacon, I know is everyone’s favorite, so I’m curious when Trader Joe’s will get smart and keep this item year round. This is an impressive (and easy) appetizer for any meal or to bring to a party! Another win for Trader Joe’s frozen food section. 

Camembert Cheese And Cranberry Sauce Fillo Bites

If you love the savory and sweet then this is your new go to. It’s both not to mention flakey and gooey so they cover all the bases! Can it get better? They only bake for 12 minutes!

Hot Cocoa O’s

Holiday spirit doesn’t stop for a quick breakfast, hot cocoa o’s are the perfect seasonal breakfast for something quick! You’ll get chocolatey O’s with freeze-dried marshmallows, who says you can’t have hot chocolate for breakfast?

Baked Lemon Ricotta Cheese

Now this…this is a game changer! It may not go well with your typical pasta dish because this ricotta has lemon and sugar which makes it perfect for a cracker and a tart jam. This can be used on either a cheese or dessert plate!

Scandinavian Tidings

These are perfect to put out on a table to add more red and green and another option for easy snacking. They also are great to keep in your desk drawer for a mid day slump or throw in your child’s lunch for a treat!

Mini Gingerbread Men

Can you get more festive than gingerbread men? If you’re like me then you’ve had your fill with a bite or two, which is why I love these so much! Trader’s says that 3 cookies is one serving…not that we count serving sizes in any sitting during the holidays. 

Turkey Pot Pie with Stuffing

Pot pies are one of my favorite items during the cold months and this is no different. If you’re eager for Thanksgiving then go run to get this! You’ll get turkey, veggies, turkey gravy, cornbread stuffing, dried cranberries, and of course a puff pastry!

Ugly Sweater Cookie Kit

These are like your typical cookie decorating, but just with your typical ugly sweater! This comes with cookies, frosting, and some sprinkles so you can make your own ugly, yet cute sweaters!

Nantucket Style Cranberry Pie

This is great for last minute get togethers where you don’t know what to bring or even just to throw in the oven on a weekend night with a glass of wine! This is the perfect holiday dessert and you can top with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. 

DRUMROLL PLEASEEE..for my all time favorite!

French Onion Soup Bites

These are the perfect frozen appetizer (or meal) and I feel so fancy eating these! They have caramelized onions and Swiss cheese, seasoned with a vegetable broth. Basically you get french onion soup with no need for a spoon. 

If you’re looking for some other frozen food appetizers from Trader Joe’s that are amazing but they have them year round, check out my blog post! My favorite frozen appetizers from Trader Joe’s or even my favorite Trader Joe’s Finds.

Did I miss something? Let me know!

~ XOXO, Amanda, the elf who’s ready to eat!

Chakra Facial in San Diego, CA
LIFE, ETC.

I got a Chakra Facial & Here’s What I Thought 

Disclaimer: what I am about to tell you sounds very “SoCal” and I know, It’s a little crazy and I was a little nervous/skeptical myself. I am 100% a newbie and very naive to chakras and stones, the whole 9 yards. But why not try a chakra facial. I love facials, and if you’ve never had one..stop reading this and go get one. I’ve always been intrigured by chakras and getting them cleared, so why not with a facial?

Shadow Era Spirit & Beauty

I went to Shadow Era Spirit & Beauty for my first chakra facial because since I am such a newbie to this whole sphere I needed to make sure this wasn’t almost a fake/spam thing. One of my friends goes here for facials and lash extensions and she speaks highly of the place. I saw they have a chakra facial to get aligned and pampered – I thought immediately, “this is what I’m looking for.”

What is a Chakra-Balancing Facial? 

In addition to your typical facial (steaming, cleansing, extractions, etc.), chakra balancing facial will use crystals to cleanse and help you open up. This is supposed to help you release any stifling energy. So first things first, I got my face steamed while she read my chakras. 

What are the 7 Chakras?

Root – Safety & Stability

Sacral – Emotions & Stability

Solar – Power & Self-Esteem

Heart – Unconditional Love

Throat – Espression & Communication 

Third Eye – Intuition & Vision 

Crown – Spiritual Connection

By placing all the chakras down your body, it helps align the spine from the base to the crown of the head to help energy to flow through your body properly. The goal is to keep the chakras opened and aligned. 

My Chakra Facial

So first things first, I got my face steamed while she read my chakras. When she was telling me “your root chakra is open” I kid you not, I would be like “what does that mean?” for every one. That’s how naive I am to this, so I was very interested in learning each of them and trying to relate it to my life. All of my chakras were open, expect the heart chakra which was closed (surprise surprise). 

The purpose of reading your chakras first is to help your esthetician/healer use the specific scents, crystals, and massage techniques that you need to help your overall self. Since my heart was completely closed, I held throughout my facial a large heart quartz and was surrounded by watermelon tourmaline quartz. 

My esthetician, Megan, went straight into the facial from there. I started with a coconut papaya enzyme which she chose because I have sensitive skin and this enzyme has a low tingle, I personally don’t mind a little tingle. It was a clear mask that added a calming aspect, it also had a little extra collagen to help with pigmentation and anti aging. After that, we added a serum to get the skin hydrated. After that, I got an arm, hand, and shoulder massage. 

Then was my favorite part, who else LOVE extractions?! She used a “skin scrubber” which you can even buy on amazon. I told her I wanted to buy one and she said it’s best to do it after you take a shower because your pores are open and make sure to leave water on your face. The skin scrubber is great because it removes dead skin and blackheads, it also takes out any dirt and excessive oil. EW!

After the Facial 

I was given an affirmation to say every morning when I wake up and before I go to bed, “I am open to receiving unconditional love.” I think for chakra readings to really help you get aligned and balanced you have to have an open mind, this was completely different than anything I’ve ever done and crystals is a whole new ball game. Knowing that I don’t want my heart to be closed off forever, I was fully in the game. 

Would I recommend one? 100%! 

Thank you Shadow Era Spirit & Beauty for the chakra facial! 

~ XOXO, the hippy guru, Amanda

LIFE, ETC.

Self Date Ideas for the Single Girl

If you’re like me, then you probably save your cutest outfit, the place you’re dying to go to, or the new chic restaurant you’ve been wanting to try for a hot date with a cute guy. Why do we all do this?! This is almost like us saying, “I’m not good enough unless I am being desired by another human.” You’re single and doing the “same ol same ol” can get pretty mundane, and instead of hating men and their asshole tendencies, why not just date yourself!
After all, the most important relationship you’re ever going to have is with yourself. So how do you date yourself? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with lots of ideas! Keep on reading.

How to Date Yourself

Go to the movies. This is a timeless date idea and now you get to go to the movie you want to go to, you don’t have to share popcorn, and the movie will fully entertain you. You get to enjoy the film and yourself.
Wine & dine yourself. How often do you open a recipe book, buy all the ingredients and make a meal? Probably not too often. Pick a recipe, head to the store, and don’t forget a bottle of wine…or two. A homemade dinner + a bottle of wine = the perfect night.
Pamper yourself with self-care. Have you been wanting to do your nails? Put on self-tanner? Whatever it may be do it.
Splurge and stay at a hotel. Sure, romantic getaways are wonderful. Getaways with your girlfriends are so much fun. I know it may sound weird to go check into a hotel for just yourself but trust me, there’s nothing like sleeping in a huge perfectly made bed by yourself, ordering room service, sitting by the pool & having a cabana boy bring you your next margarita, and taking advantage of all the hotel amenities.
Have a photo-shoot. Don’t pretend like you don’t do this anyways, but do your hair, your makeup, and put on your cutest outfit. Learn how to work the self-timer and take 5,000 photos that almost look exactly the same. And waaaaa-laaaa, here’s a new picture to show off on every social media platform.
Get flowers. Go to a flower shop, your local Trader Joe’s, or farmers market and buy yourself some flowers. After all, you are a strong independent woman who doesn’t need a man to buy you any flowers. *insert hair flip*
Go to a coffee shop. I always find this to be a fun activity. I love going to a coffee shop with a notebook and jot down my latest thoughts/feelings, a planner to actually *try* and plan my life, or even my laptop to catch up on blogging. The general rule of thumb is to order the biggest cup of coffee you can, a snack is optional, but you don’t get to leave until the coffee ground smell is your new perfume.
Take a bath. Buy the salts, the bubbles, the wine holder that sticks to the side of the bath, and the candles. And soak away all the worries. You’ll get out of the bath feeling refreshed and ready to climb into bed for the best nights sleep you could ever imagine.
Binge watch Marie Condo. Then “Marie Condo” your whole house. This is one of the most satisfying things I have ever done. You’ll be able to breathe again, especially when you didn’t even know you couldn’t before.
Take a long walk. And do this with the intent of thinking and relaxing vs. burning calories, because at this point that’s just an added bonus.
Declare a “naked day”. Go about your normal chores, daily activities like cooking, and anything else (inside) in the nude. Just remember to keep all the doors and blinds shut so your neighbors don’t get a front row seat.
Ride down memory lane. Maybe this includes watching old home videos, going through old photos or yearbooks, or even watching an old show/movie you used to love. Taking yourself back to your childhood often brings back the fondest memories.
Do whatever you want. Even if that means doing nothing at all. And even if you’re in a relationship, that doesn’t mean you can’t date yourself. If you find another awesome date idea for yourself, please share it with me!
~ XOXO, the single (& couldn’t be happier) Amanda
Fall scarecrows & pumpkins
LIFE, ETC.

Exploring San Diego in the Fall

*This post is written as a guest blog post by author, Rachel Crawford*

When was the last time you visited San Diego? San Diego is known for its beaches, parks, and year-round sunshine, but most families travel here during the peak summer months. Traveling to San Diego in the fall months will shave off quite a bit on the travel expense, and you still get that sunshine you’ve been dreaming of. Your savings will increase if you visit with your family during Kids Free San Diego which lasts throughout the entire month of October. Explore San Diego by land, by sea or through your belly, the choice is yours. Staying at the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa on Mission Bay will put you and your family, friends and loved ones at the epicenter of it all. The recently renovated hotel was featured in TODAY as the #2 Best Family Resort in the USA as of June 2019.

Explore by Land

The Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa is part of Mission Bay Park, a 4,600-acre aquatic park that is dedicated to leisure and active sports. Located to the south of the hotel is Tecolote Shores Park which is a preferred park by families with small children looking to swing, slide and climb. To the north, you will find De Anza Cove Park which has a lifeguard protected beach to dip those little toes into. Venture a little further away from the hotel to discover all of the walking trails connecting you to the real beauty of San Diego, nature. While there are plenty of trails within 5 minutes from the hotel, Balboa Park Loop is favorited by locals and visitors alike. Balboa Park is also home to the World Famous San Diego Zoo. Kids get in free throughout October with each paid adult and parking there is always free. The park is also home to the Botanical Building and Lily Pond, and the Japanese Friendship Garden. 

Explore by Sea

Mission Bay offers ideal conditions for paddling, kayaking, or sailing. Rentals are available year-round through Action Sport Rentals located on the dock of the hotel. If you’re looking for a tour out on the water, Flagship Cruises & Events offer up to 6 children free with each paid adult throughout October. For a little more adventure, the SEAL Amphibious Tour combines both land and sea with a unique experience you will never forget. Kids ride for free in October with each paid adult. 

Explore Through Your Belly

Kids eat free at Acqua California Bistro which is the year-round restaurant at the resort. If you can’t make it back for dinner every night, be sure to start your day off with breakfast overlooking Mission Bay. If you are out exploring San Diego, there are a lot of other restaurants that are also participating in Kids Free. For a list of participating restaurants, or for more ideas on exploring San Diego, check out the San Diego Tourism Authority’s website. 

No matter what interests you and your family, you will be sure to find it in San Diego!

 

ADVENTURE

5 Things to do in Boston Before Fall

Are you planning a trip to Boston? Are you a local looking for something to do? Summer is one of the busiest times of the year in Boston and if you’re like me as soon as summer hit in New England you wanted to spend every second outside until dare I say, winter came again. Here are my favorite things to do in Boston in the summertime:

Catch a Red Sox Game at Fenway

Fenway Park is one of the most historical ballparks in the MLB and from the day I moved to Boston, I was converted. There’s nothing like spending an afternoon walking around Lansdowne Street and grabbing a drink before the game and being surrounded by Red Sox Fans. Fenway first opened in 1912 and has been an iconic Boston landmark ever since. You’ll see history of stolen bases, home runs, and although Boston’s fanbase has grown, the original park still stands. They have done expansions to make the park larger which brought about the “green monstah” and “pesky pole” but still, no matter where you sit – there’s not a bad seat in the house. 

Enjoy the Weather & Sit Outside

There are so many great places to grab a cocktail and enjoy the weather! There’s nothing better than feeling the sun hit your skin with a cool cocktail in hand. Sometimes it’s hard to pick but some of my favorites are the patio at Eataly, Lookout Rooftop at the Envoy Hotel, and of course the pop ups around town, City Winery on the Greenway and Cisco’s pop up in Seaport. This spread is from Eataly!

Have a Picnic on the Charles River Esplanade

This might be one of my favorite summertime activities because it’s so relaxing, throughout the year. Grab some friends, some snacks, and some drinks with a blanket and it’s the perfect spot for a great view of either Boston or Cambridge. 

Eat a Lobster Roll & Clam Chowder

New England is famous for their seafood, especially lobster rolls and clam chowder. You’ll feel like a true New Englander while indulging in it’s most iconic foods. There are so many great places that serve lobster rolls, be sure to check out my blog about craving lobstah rolls. The one pictured here is from Saltie Girl which is one of my favorite seafood restaurants in Boston because it’s full of mermaids so it fits me perfectly! 

Stroll Around Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill will always be one of my favorite spots in Boston. Before I lived in Boston, this is what I imagined all the neighborhoods to look like – classic stairs leading up to apartments covered in beautiful brick. Acorn Street is one of the most photographed streets in Boston, and for good reason! 

Now tell me! What do you love to do in the summer in Boston? I’m always looking for new ideas! 

~ XOXO, the Bostonian in me that loves summer