Girls’ Weekend – Camping in Ojai and Santa Barbara Day Trip

Hi Everyone! I hope you had an awesome weekend and the first day of the work week is treating you ok. I had an amazing weekend, because it was my 2nd annual Grad School Girls Camping Trip! Remember last year we went to Big Bear? Well, this year, we headed up the coast to Ojai, a sleepy little town known for its citrus and hilly retreats. We camped at Wheeler Gorge, a beautiful campground with a chapparal type feeling, covered with big river rocks and low grassy scrub.

Here’s our campsite before we set up our tent.

Wheeler_gorge_CampgroundWe arrived at the camp site on Friday around 5 pm, so we had some work to do before we could settle down with some hard ciders and s’mores. With only minimal frustration (aka one hour of “wtf?!” type exclamations), we set up our tent and got the “mess hall” (aka the picnic table) all prepared. Once that was done, it was time to cook dinner, and I’m proud that I was the official “chef”, serving up very gourmet all-beef hot dogs. Don’t mind my stylish camping apparel.

Alyssa gets grillin'

Alyssa gets grillin’

After dinner it was time for S’MORES! I love me some marshmallows, in fact, they’re probably one of my favorite sweet things. I had previously seen Jumbo Marshmallows and was enamored by the size, so we had to get them. Unfortunately, I can say they’re almost too much for a s’more — and at a whopping 90 calories each, I’ll stick with the normal s’mores size. However, they were super yum despite their monstrous size.

Expert Marshmallow Roasters

Expert Marshmallow Roasters

See how huge they are?!?! Massive Mushmellows! After a couple drinks, we hit the hay… only to be awake all night thanks to our rude campsite neighbors, who decided playing their guitar loudly to crappy Bieber music was the best thing to do from midnight through 5 AM. I can definitely tell I’m getting older, because as a teenager, sleeping on the hard ground was never an issue. Now, I feel all creaky and like a 90-year-old as I lament the dirt beneath me instead of my posh pillowtop. The next day, we got up early and headed to the beautiful Santa Barbara Mission.

Santa Barbara Mission

Santa Barbara Mission

If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend you pay a visit to the town of Santa Barbara. It’s a gorgeous coastal town nestled up into beautiful mountains. The Santa Barbara mission is only $6 to get in and you can take a self guided tour through lush rose gardens, see the Friar’s old living quarters, read about the history of the people who lived (and died) there  in a beautiful cemetery, and check out the chapel.

Missiongirls

This mission is also the site of the famous I Madonnari Italian Street Painting festival, so you could see the remnants of highly detailed chalk paintings around the missions grounds. I also caught a glimpse of this Monarch butterfly in the gardens, isn’t he pretty?

monarch_butterfly_

One very important thing I realized about this weekend is how nice it is to be out and about and STAY HYDRATED! I took my hubby’s CamelBak and was able to suck down water anywhere we went. With long days in the hot sun, it felt really good to not feel parched and chapped.

Stayin' Hydrated!

Stayin’ Hydrated!

 

In terms of camping while on the Double Chin Diet, this weekend was way better than last year’s trip in that I really didn’t go overboard on anything. I ate until I was full, enjoyed s’mores, salt water taffy and pasta when we went out to dinner, but I ate without remorse and just tried to remember the trip wasn’t going to be “good or bad” based on the food I ate, but what memories I made. It’s nice to have a healthy attitude towards food!

Santa Barbara Beach

Santa Barbara Beach

 

We ended our trip with a beautiful evening at the beach. I basked in the sun and read magazines, and then later, we all walked down the Santa Barbara pier and had a sunset dinner at a seafood restaurant. This weekend made me so grateful for the amazing state I live in (Thanks for dragging us here 19 years ago, Dad!), my awesome friends, and also, the ability to disconnect for awhile. I had decided the day before I left that my phone would be OFF all weekend, and other than a quick phone call to the husband, I didn’t check Facebook, Twitter or instagram once. Especially because my career depends on constant connectivity and monitoring of social sites, brand pages, accounts, e-mails, etc, I wanted a break. As a freelancer, you’re essentially on call 24/7 — meaning if something breaks online, you’re the person to handle fixing it. It was really nice to enjoy the sights and sounds of Ojai without hearing the “ding ding” of an incoming text. It may sound scary, but if you’re going away for a quick weekend and can get away with being unplugged, do it! You just might find out how nice it actually is.

So that was my weekend, in a nutshell! What did you do this weekend????

 

 

 

Weekend Wrap Up!

Toffee at rocket fizz

Hey everybody! I had so much fun this weekend, despite the 102 degree heat in my hometown…  Friday night, Matt and I had dinner at our favorite local Indian food place, Clay Oven. I ordered Matar Paneer in honor of my paneer-flop from the night before. It was deeeeelicious! After dinner, we went next door to Rocket Fizz, a soda and candy shop! We sampled a couple different types of toffee and I tried a low-cal rootbeer, sweetened with honey. It was only 30 calories and so refreshing to try a soda made with natural ingredients as opposed to buckets of aspartame, nutrisweet, sucralose, etc.

Pre-lobster snoozing on the sand

On Saturday, I went to water aerobics with my buddy Virginia and did some aqua-cardio for an hour. The fun in the sun didn’t stop, because Matt and I headed out to Zuma beach in Malibu where he boogie-boarded in the waves while I read and accidentally fell asleep on the sand. Note to self, and helpful hint for everyone else: If there is even a SLIGHT possibility that you will fall asleep on the beach, RE-APPLY SUNSCREEN. I am stupidly suffering from my mistake and cringing every time the crease of skin behind my knee cap moves, which is often. My legs seriously look like I’m wearing red tights, and the best part is how white my bum is in comparison. My lower half looks like a peppermint. No, it’s not sexy. Who says wisdom comes with age?

After the beach we went and saw Beasts of the Southern Wild, which is a very interesting film. Slightly depressing, but really interesting to see and learn about the people of Louisiana who live in the impoverished “bathtub” and choose to live free from modern civilization. It was a phenomenal acting job by the 5-year-old who played “Hushpuppy”, but it’s not a movie I’d pick again for a feel-good Saturday night flick.

Shelley and I rock the golden togas

Today, we went to a Golden Christmas in July party! My sweet friend Merrie hosted with her friends Brian and Erin at their gorgeous house in Thousand Oaks. The party was catered with amazing turkey, ham, roast potatoes and cheeses, and I kept well hydrated on the free flowing lemonade and iced tea. Because my friend Shelley is a creative genius, she came up with these gold togas and hair flowers for the party. Aren’t we cute? She’ll be selling homemade toffee soon… it’s out of this world, you can bet I’m going to link it as soon as her site is up!

Sweet, sweet watery relief.

 

One of the highlights of the party, besides the wonderful people and amazing food, was the crystal clear pool. I waded in and it felt like a chorus of angels singing sweet cooling relief to my sun-chapped calves. Don’t I look ecstatic? At this point Shelley and I had changed out of our stylish gold togas, because while as glittery and beautiful as they were, we quickly learned that Lamé does not breathe. It was a fabulous party, and after several hours I had to peel myself away from the cheese tray and head back to the ‘burbs to work on my thesis.

This weekend was jam packed with fun times, and while I had some food challenges (cheese tray, popcorn, birthday cake), I didn’t majorly overdo it and managed to squeeze in some exercise. I’ll be posting a weight-in post soon, but if you’ve been following the My Fitness Pal counter on the side of the blog, I’m down about 7 pounds when the scale is accurate kind to me. The past week has been a little wacky and I’ve been yo-yoing a  bit, but I think that’s more due to some salty choices and weird heat than actual weight gain, because my jeans are feeling loose. (I LOVE that feeling. Such a good feeling.)

Anyways, thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful week! I start my new job tomorrow, so send me some happy first day vibes, please! 🙂 What did you do this weekend that was fun?

 

 

 

A food filled weekend!

Hi Double Chinners, how ya doin’?

It’s Sunday evening and I had a productive weekend… packed with seeing the Hunger Games (highly recommend it), finishing a feature news story, putting together a podcast, writing a post for my thesis blog Heardio, working on a freelance project, painting my upcycled dresser, grocery shopping, cupcake decorating class… You get the picture. My weekends aren’t very restful lately but they sure are productive, haha!

Cinnamon Snails

This weekend was a fun weekend in terms of FOOD! Fun is sometimes dangerous for me, as evident by the three little “Cinnamon Snails” I consumed this morning…. (Total damage: 360 calories). I work for a company that makes toys, and one of the doll lines has an upcoming campaign with food related characters. I edit online content, and this weekend, I had to fact check a recipe for cinnamon buns. No problem – cooking and writing – two of my favorite things!

I also had my last cupcake decorating class, and we tie-dyed buttercream! Let me know in the comments if you’d be interested in a tutorial on how to do it. I know this is technically a “healthy living” blog, so buttercream might not fit in that well… but I think part of “healthy living” means splurging every once in awhile. They came out pretty cool, I think – my coworkers will reap the benefits tomorrow!

Lastly, Matt and I needed tons of produce. Lately I’ve been really trying to up the ante on fruit and veggies, since they’re low cal, yummy and good for you. I’d been wanting to try a local ethnic produce market, so we went in and came out with this bounty. Don’t mind the tabby in the background… Lucia’s pretty vain and wanted to make sure she starred in the picture. (Bad kitty on the table!)

Lucia surveys the haul from a local ethnic market.

Guess how much all of this food cost? To help you tabulate, we have – a tub of Israeli olives, a sack of roasted peas, one bunch of celery, one bag of carrots, four huge russet potatoes, one pound of fresh green beans, three small spaghetti squash, a bag of mango “jubes” (I have no idea what they are – they just looked good!), a tub of baked pita chips, 5 Persian cucumbers, three limes, two mangos, and one green pepper.

Ok – ready for this? $21. Can you believe that? This would have easily cost us $35 or more at our local grocer. The celery was .33, and the bell pepper was .78. The olives were the most expensive thing we bought, at 3.99, still a steal considering how many you get (and pitted, at that!). I love food… but I also love saving money.

What did you do this weekend?

PS – We reached 100 “likes” on the Double Chin Diary on Facebook! Thank you to everybody for your support. In the next few weeks I’ll be setting up a giveaway of a few of my favorite things to celebrate! 🙂 And if you haven’t liked my page, what are ya waiting for?! http://www.facebook.com/doublechindiary

Weekend Get-Away: Big Bear Lake

Hello, Double Chinners! Sorry things were quiet around here for a few days. My hubby and I were in Big Bear Lake celebrating our one year anniversary of our wedding!

Score! We're Married!

While I’m not proud of it, I didn’t track a single thing through out the weekend. This was not wise, as it lead to copious indulging in things like creme brulee and NY strips… BUT… it was my first wedding anniversary, I splurged, and I had a great time! (Happy to report: back on the WW tracking train today!) It’s not really related to weight loss, but pix are fun – so let’s take a little pictorial recap of Big Bear, shall we?

Here we are at Juniper Point:

Exploring Big Bear Lake

And here’s Matt in our creepy haunted B&B (I’ll save that for another post… but let’s just say – 5 year old little girl ghosts? SCARY)

Matt looks for Casper

Here’s an amazing hand-made marshmallow from a great cafe called the Copper-Q where we had hand squeezed lemonades and iced coffees after sunny afternoons outside:

Stay-Puft, you got nothin' on this!

Here I am eating an awesome turkey sandwich on squaw bread from the “Big Bear Belly Deli”. It was a really tasty sandwich but almost had too much cheese. Or maybe I’m just not a fan of cheddar with turkey. *shrug*

I <3 sprouts

Here I am at a really haunted restaurant we ate at called The Log Cabin. (Over 100 years old – the waitress said apparitions of women in blue aprons (which was part of the original uniform) walk back and forth throughout the kitchen) I had some AMAZING biscuits and gravy with fried eggs. I should have had a heart attack on the spot from all the fat and salt, but they were incredible and brought back major memories of my grandma’s southern soul food cooking.

Is there a ghost behind me?!

Here we are at the Moonridge Zoo, which was full of rehabilitated animals. Their three grizzlies were there after raiding a campground three times too many. Can you see the big bear in back of our heads? It was fun hearing these guys snort and huff and puff as they lumbered around their enclosure. We also got to make the coyotes howl. That was cool.

Da Bears

Then, we had a fancy dinner at a place called the Peppercorn Grill. I had a NY Strip and Matt had the porterhouse. It was good – but couldn’t top their Artichokes Romano appetizer. It was baked artichoke hearts covered in balsamic vinegar, garlic, and parmesan bread crumbs. The creme brulee we shared for dessert was perfect – a nice crispy shell and cool, sweet custard underneath. So good. So, so good. So worth the few pounds I probably puffed up.

Before we pigged out at the Peppercorn

We drove home yesterday morning and had to pull over to capture some of the sheer scenic gorgeousness. Big Bear is absolutely stunning and a super friendly little town – and it only took two hours to get there from Los Angeles. We’ll definitely be going back!