Friday, June 21, 2013

Father's Day Surprise

Pssst - I was in Austin this weekend! It was a surprise for my parents that my sister, brother and aunt helped me coordinate and execute to perfection. It went something like this: (Warning - It's loud)


As you can see, my parents were completely caught by surprise and luckily, very happy about it. There were times over the last few weeks when I thought they suspected I would be coming home, but I'm so glad they were actually clueless. It made for a much more epic moment and memory that I'm so thrilled we caught on video. Thanks Jen!

The surprise idea has been marinating for a few months since it's an item on my 30 Before 30 list. I've always made a habit out of visiting Austin at least once or twice a year (I can't stay away!) but this year I didn't have any trips to Texas planned and no openings for when we might take another trip there. I knew I wanted to at least take a weekend to get out there this summer, so I started to think "well what if they had no clue?" I got my sister and aunt to come in to town under the guise of Father's Day and upcoming family birthday celebrations and my brother already lives in Austin. Jennifer picked me up from the airport and brought me to the house where I secretly waited in the garage for her to go inside and get my mom and dad in the kitchen. Then she snuck a call to my phone which was my signal to come in. I crept through the garage door with a bottle of wine in hand and waltzed in saying, "Who wants some wine?!" What happened next was captured in the above video and was the start to a great weekend on the lake with my family.

We celebrated Father's Day with brunch at home and a spin on the jet skis, followed up with lunch at Hopdoddy, probably my favorite burger spot in Austin.

I first visited Hopdoddy a mere two years ago and have been back about five times now. We didn't have Hopdoddy when I lived in Austin so I'm making up for lost time.

I love their black angus beef burgers, but lately I've been addicted to the Continental Club, which is a turkey burger with apple-smoked bacon, arugula, provolone and pesto. Not everyone can do a good turkey burger, as they often turn out dry and devoid of flavor. But this one is perfection every time. Especially with some fries and two types of queso on the side (chile con queso and green chili queso).

Dad's day success!

Later in the evening my parents had friends over to watch game five of the NBA Finals while grilling up some fajitas. Go Spurs! One of these friends was asking me for a list of my favorite places to eat in LA and it got me thinking. Why don't I have a list? Introducing the "Best of" series! I'll pop in now and again with my "Best of" lists in my favorite categories like burgers, beers, sandwiches, etc. The locations of my favorite eats are spread across the globe, from jerk chicken shacks in Jamaica, gnocchi in Italy and cheesy Tex-Mex in my home state. But the absolute best meals are those shared with loved ones. I'm so glad I made it home to share some delicious meals with my family this summer and look forward to some epic family meals with Justin's side of the family in a few weeks.

Monday, June 10, 2013

30 Before 30 Update

It's about time for another 30 Before 30 update! By the way, I'm really loving having this list to keep me accountable for doing things I've either put off or never done. It's made for an exciting year so far, with even more adventures in the works. A few of my friends are now making lists for when their 29th birthdays hit, which I highly recommend.

Thanks to the list, I've rediscovered how fun ski trips are. Before this year, the last time I went skiing was on Spring Break of 2006. I've been fortunate enough to ski some of the nicest mountains in Colorado, but I had somehow neglected to visit the ski areas right in my own backyard here in California. Since I've lived here for about six years, it was beyond time to make the short trip to the mountains. Back in February (I know, way to stay current on the updates) we visited Snow Valley because it was the closest mountain to us and we got a deal on lift tickets online to fulfill item #17 on my list - Go snow skiing.

It was pretty crazy leaving 75 degree temperatures in LA and arriving to snow within two hours time. I was worried I wouldn't remember how to ski, but it came back pretty quickly and I managed to get by without any falls. Not too hard a feat when you stick to green and blue runs :)

I actually night skied for the first time and loved it. The lift ticket rates were cheaper if you started after 3 p.m. and only the last two hours or so were in the dark with lights on the runs. It did get especially chilly when the sun went down but the slopes were far less crowded and we got plenty of runs in before that happened. When the cold was too much to bare, it was hot chocolate time. Aka, my favorite time.

Another one of my favorite times is happy hour. When I lived in Texas and didn't battle traffic every evening to get home, happy hour was almost a weekly occurrence. These days if I'm not on the road the second I finish my work, traffic piles up and my commute gets exponentially longer. It's harder to make happy hour happen when you're fighting the traffic patterns in LA, but since it was on my list I planned to meet a friend for a drink during the week and I remembered why I must do this more often!


Pink Taco's happy hour runs until 7 p.m. so you don't have to rush to get your fill of $5 margaritas and free flowing chips and salsa. They also have discounted appetizers like guacamole and sweet corn tamales. Yum! I think I've found my favorite HH spot. Now who wants to join me?

Knocked #22 off my list and moving right along. This month I reached the half-way mark and I now have only six months to complete the rest of my list. Eeeeek! Time to rally.