My parents had been looking online for beach house rentals for weeks at the beginning of summer. To get close to the beach, we were going to be spending a pretty penny and it looked like we'd only be able to afford about one or two nights away from home.
That's when one of our sweet family-friends happened to mention his parent's beach house in Carlsbad to us.
And then offer it to us for a week. For free.
I can't tell you what a blessing this situation was. There was room for everybody to have their own bed, we enjoyed all of our meals on our rooftop which overlooked the ocean, we were able to bring Toby along for his first vacation, and we were only a few steps away from the sand on a semi-private beach! We felt (and continue to feel) incredibly lucky to have such generous friends in our lives.
We were fortunate to have beautiful weather while at the beach house, too. Up until our last day it was nothing but sunshine, blue skies, and gorgeous sunsets. We all took part in some sunset swims, getting in to watch the sun disappear behind the ocean. I also almost drowned during one such swim because the waves were really rough and the tide was super strong… A little excitement for our otherwise relaxing trip haha, but that's a different story.
And after our long days of swimming and enjoying the sunshine, we'd all walk back to the house, get comfy and watch movies or play games together. It was so nice having us all there to enjoy each others company - with schedules these days it's not super often that we are all relaxed and in the same place. I think it was probably my favorite family trip we've ever been on. :)
"If you close your eyes and press them really hard with your fingers,
when you open them up again you can be in a world of magical shapes and colors!"
"What are you drawing?"
"A sad, dead, fish."
"I like that the octopus has all those cup holders on his tentacles." (aka suction cups, but cup holders sound useful too!)
"We are pretending to be a family. She's the mom, she's the sister, and I'm the grandpa. I'm 178 years old! But I didn't die yet."
"Miss Kelle can you cut this out for me?"
"You know how to cut on your own!"
"Yeah, but I'm allergic to cutting things sometimes."
"I want to be a baby in your tummy."
"My mom is letting me pick a name our new baby. If it's a brother, it's going to be Stuart Minion and if it's a sister it's going to be Karen Buzz Lightyear. My dad wants to name it Charlie Brown but that's silly."
"No, it's too hot for recess! It's like 60 pounds out there!"
"Miss Kelle, I drew you a picture! ::puts the paper behind his back:: Now close your eyes to make it a surprise!"
"Okay.. ::covering my eyes:: Are we going to count to three and then you'll show it to me?"
"No. I'm going to count to 100."
"How about 10?"
"How about 100?"
"I mean, that's just a really lon-"
"OOOONE… TWOOOO… THREEE…"
It's hard to believe that our next school year starts this month! Ah!
Just a few more weeks of summer session!
There was never really an official first date, I guess. Weston never had to ask me out or even ask me for my phone number. We were two people in a group of friends who got to know each other a lot before ending up alone at a dinner together. The rest of our friends were going to a movie that wouldn't end until after my high school curfew, so Weston offered to stick around and take me to dinner instead of joining them. And that was our first "date".
We sat across from each other for dinner on a rainy Friday night in February. I had just stepped in a massive puddle in the parking lot, wearing ballet flats, and sat shivering at the table (always the epitome of grace) when I ordered my dinner - "Just a chocolate milkshake, please."
Weston stared at me. "That's all you're having?" Um, yeah, Weston. When you're alone at dinner with a boy you've secretly had a crush on for like, a year, it's a little nerve wracking and I couldn't exactly think of stomaching actual food at that moment. I didn't care how rainy or cold it was or how wet the bottoms of my pants were. Chocolate shake for me.
Lately, my goal has been to maximize the amount of whole foods that I eat and minimize the amount of sugar loaded processed stuff. The first week was easy but by week two, my sweet tooth was not being satisfied by fistfuls of fruit anymore and that's when Weston came up with this.
It's a chocolate shake. Made with almond milk, cocoa powder, and dates. And therefore we've come full circle.
On my first date with Weston, I had a chocolate shake. And last week, he made me my first date chocolate shake!
(Please humor me, I'm incredibly proud of this realization.)
If you like frozen, dairy free, chocolatey treats that can be part of a balanced diet… here's what you do...
In a blender, combine:
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup almond butter
12 pitted dates
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp coconut flakes
And ice - anywhere between a few cubes and a cups worth. The more ice you add, the thinner the drink will be. Just depends on your preference! I've been adding about two handfuls worth.
If you try it out let me know what you think!
And just for fun - since I shared a little bit about my first date with Weston…
here's a picture from around that time, 6 years ago haha. Aye… look at these kids!
After the beautiful days we spent in Portland, we trekked to the station and jumped on a train that would take us the 4 hours to Seattle. Weston was busy working during the ride but I was glued to the window. Thanks to the railroad, I was able to see so many beautiful parts of Oregon and Washington that I never would've seen otherwise. The 4 hours went by so quickly!
(endo note : I used thermacare heat wraps on the train to try to take a little of the endo edge off and they worked like a charm!
Not super obvious under my shirt, stayed warm, and provided the relief that heat usually does. I highly recommend!)
We arrived in Seattle with a huge list of recommendations from two of my friends who have lived in Seattle at one point or another and unfortunately, we only had a day and a half in the city to try to cram them all in, which was just not possible. But we saw what we could and while it didn't stand out quite as much as Portland did, Seattle definitely had it's beautiful moments. And delicious food.
After five days spent exploring Portland and Seattle, it feels really wonderful to be back on So Cal soil, with Toby at my feet, sharing these photos with you! As much fun as it is to be away, there's also such a sweetness to returning home - even after just a few days.
On the Fourth of July, Weston and I flew from LA to Portland over a sea of fireworks that I wish I could've properly captured (here is my iPhone attempt) although it didn't seem that any camera was capable of doing the trick. Right around 9:30 the sparks started bursting below us and I was glued to the window until we landed!
Just like everyone said I would, I fell in love with Portland - the old buildings, how clean and beautiful they manage to keep the city, all the gluten-free options at every restaurant (even one entirely gluten free/vegan bakery!), the handmade products in cute little shops, how it stayed light outside until 10pm.. Just everything.
In fact, I think it was during our first morning at brunch that Weston started planning our next trip back there, haha.
I had some rough endo moments while in Portland, so our approach was to make frequent trips back to the hotel for medicine/heat/rest in between all of our wandering. We had initially planned on renting a car and driving out deeper into Oregon for some hiking on one of the days, but ended up happily spending all of our time in the city instead - there was never a shortage of things to see, shops to browse, foods to eat, or cocktails to drink.
If this California thing doesn't work out for us, in a few years you might look us up in Portland. ;)