Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Things To Do This Summer Series: Wilder Ranch State Park

It is gorgeous outside! Every year when summer really gets underway, I start to brainstorm. I start making a list of all the things I want to accomplish before September: visit the Monterey Bay aquarium, wine tasting in Paso Robles, a visit to the city (that means San Francisco to Northern Californians) and a lot of aimless bike riding in cute little silk dresses. I think my list is pretty good, but I'm always open for suggestions. BAM! Thats where inspiration hit me.

I'm starting my very first blog series. A legit one, with contributors and everything. I've asked some of my favorite adventurous people to write reviews on their favorite things to do in the summer. I'm calling it the "Things To Do This Summer Series". Maybe it will help you spruce up your summer to do list.

Today is the first installment in the series and it was written by my dear friend Ann. Ann is the one who introduced Jake and I a few years back and she is always down for an adventure.



Wilder Ranch State Park

1401 Coast Road, Santa Cruz

(831) 423-9703

Cost: $8 per car - day use fee

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Seagulls

I love many things in life, but during the summertime, I love the sun and adventure. Lucky for me, California is well positioned to provide large amounts of both. The summer of 2008 was, to say the least, an adventure and my favorite summer by far. During those fateful two and a half months I was a summer camp counselor for teens ages 12-16, in a tent-camping program in the Santa Cruz - central coast area. For five and a half days out of the week, we drove up and down the central coast finding new beaches, taking surfing lessons, and going on as many adventures as possible. One of these adventures led me to discover Fern del Grotto beach at Wilder Ranch State Park, which is just north of Santa Cruz on historical (and beautiful) Highway 1.

Wilder Ranch is a State Park with many different adventures and trails, but the crown jewel is the coastal trail, which leads to one of my favorite places on Earth - Fern del Grotto beach. If you’re a cyclist, a runner, or just want to go on a nice walk with your love, this is the weekend activity for you! The coastal trail takes you from the parking lot, across some old railroad tracks, through a field, and sooner than later you’ll find yourself looking over the ocean and a beautiful closed beach, which serves as a bird sanctuary. Before you start out on your journey, make sure to use the restroom - once you’re on the trail you’ll be left to your own devices!

As you follow the trail, you’ll come within inches of cliffs which drop-off into the great Pacific Ocean, birds who are feeding and nesting, and the occasional cyclist or runner using the trail for some serene exercise. After about a mile of meandering along the clifftops, you’ll look down and see a cove. If you break away from the beaten path and walk down into the cove (watch your footing) you’ll find yourself standing on the warm sand of Fern del Grotto beach, a secluded beach complete with two caves fit for exploring!

In 2008 I took my campers here for lunch and some afternoon beach football. For my purposes, the space allowed the boys to play football and the girls to suntan, all while I could sit back and keep an eye on everyone. If you’re a young family, this activity will certainly become a favorite adventure for your children! This photo doesn’t quite highlight the beautiful sand, which is lovely for laying on, but trust me - it’s definitely there! The marine life is prevalent, there’s always a breeze, and if you’re looking for an afternoon getaway, your book will be your best friend at Fern del Grotto.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Do you read our blog?

Do you read our blog?

I know you do. You're reading it right now.
Well, how come you never comment?

You always tell me about the posts you liked when I see you on campus.
And you remind me to post when I haven't in a while.

But how am I supposed to know what you want to hear about if you never comment?
How do I even know you are out there???
Am I talking to myself here?

I think you should start commenting every now and again.
It would make us really happy.
Really Really Happy.

You could start right now!
On this very post!

Comment and let us know what your favorite stuff to hear about is... Favorite post? Stuff you never want to hear me talk about again? Hey, why didn't I get that pink chair? Why doesn't Jake spend his whole work day blogging? When will you people get a puppy already? Does Taylor have any more hand-me down bikes around? Who is your favorite groomsman? I really think you should stop typing now, Tobi.

A Brand New Old Bike

Big Sister-In-Laws are just like Big Sisters.
Case in point: Mine is already giving me hand-me-downs.

Jake has a fancy-shmancy salaried job (I am very proud of my working man). He works 8am-5pm every day. Problem is, we have one car and I only work from 10am-2pm. So from 2 to 5:30 or so when he gets home, I can think of a million things to do/errands to run, but I'm stranded. I guess stranded is a relative term, since we do live in a very small downtown area. I can walk places, but it is very time consuming and can be taxing (like two weeks ago when I walked home from the grocery store with about eight bags, including two pounds of flour and a container of OJ... what was I thinking?).

Problem Solved!

We were in Brentwood this weekend and Jake and Mike pulled Taylor's old bike from Santa Barbara down for me. This bike has some serious character. It's a blue and white cruiser with a basket in the front and white walled tires. It has some rust and some beauty marks from years of use near the ocean... but it's awesome.

Yesterday Jake took me and my brand new old bike to a bike store and we fixed her up real nice. She got new tubes and a super huge and comfy new "saddle" (thats bike lingo). I rode it home and surely could have beat Jake in the car if I hadn't been enjoying myself so much, or stopped to show off my brand new old bike to some friends. I had forgotten that riding a bike is exhilarating. Especially when there is no air conditioning in your apartment, it is the most amazing thing to do on a summer day. I'm in love.

Pictures (and maybe even video) soon... I promise.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Couch Story

Chapter One: How We Got There
Sometimes I convince Jake to go to the mall. It always starts as a small request. On Saturday, it was a pair of shorts. So we went to the mall for a pair of shorts and we found them. Then Jake remembered he needed some new dress shirts, and he found them, but not before I saw that Ann Taylor Loft was having a big sale. Plus, the dress shirts happened to be right across from the Apple Store. If we EVER go to the mall without stopping to play in the Apple Store, you'd better pick up some bottled water and blankets, because the world is ending. While we were in the Apple Store I remembered that I needed a pair of shoes and jeans to go with those shoes and a tank top would be nice because its so hot...

I think you get the picture.
Jake + Tobi + Mall = Variations on "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie"
If you have not read that book, I highly recommend it.
But that is not the point of this story.
The point is: We went to the mall for some shorts.

Chapter Two: Stumbling into LoveSac
Well, we were feeling pretty worn out when we headed up the escalator to "one last shop". At the top, Jake casually pointed out the LoveSac store. He'd never heard of it. If you are like Jake and you have never heard of LoveSac, I'll fill you in. They make these massive-awesome bean bags. "Massive" as in for up to four people. They are super fun. I wanted to show Jake, so we went inside. Our feet were tired and sitting in a massive-awesome bean bag chair sounded nice. We didn't end up sitting in a massive-awesome bean bag chair though, we ended up sitting on a cute little couch.

"Whats this you say!?!? LoveSac makes couches??"
"Well... ya. I was surprised too!"

Let me back up for a second...
We came to the mall for a pair of shorts. People do not go to the mall to buy couches. Especially from places that sell bean bags. We had been thinking about couches, but we had a couch. We weren't in love with it, but we had one. Don't get me wrong: We were very grateful for our hand-me-down couch. It's just that... it had pretty much seen its glory days and now it had to wear this awful cover that bunched up every time you sat on it. Regardless, we had looked into the issue and decided to keep it around for at least another year. We didn't want to buy a cheaper Ikea couch, just to trash it in a year if we have a bigger or nicer place. We were sticking it out.

Back to us sitting in the LoveSac store...
We were talking to the salesman, Matt, who wore a tie with jeans, cause LoveSac is classy-casual like that. This couch just kept making more and more sense...

1. LoveSac couches, called SACtionals, are completely modular. Every couch, no matter how big or small, is made of the same pieces. That means we could have a small couch now and just add on to it later if we get a bigger place. We can even move the pieces around to change up the style of our little couch.

While they are modular, they are also extremely sturdy. Jake got to jump and and down on one and check out all the hardware (which is easy snap-in stuff). Every Sactional also has a life-time warranty.

2. Sactionals are completely covered... and you can't even tell. Every piece has a tight, individual cover that looks just like upholstery. They are completely washable from top to bottom and you can change the look of your couch any time.

3. Sactionals are very very comfy. MmmmHmmm.

After hanging out at LoveSac for a little while, we were pretty much sold on a Sactional. Jake closed the deal and I picked the fabric and we were like "Whaaaaat? We just bought a couch at the mall from a bean bag store?" and they were like "Yes, please pull your car around."

Chapter Three: Bringing Our Sactional Home
Sactionals are packed really well, so we could fit the whole thing in the back of the Subaru. Wanna know what a Sactional looks like in the wrapping?

First, you got the basic pieces.

Then, you slide the covers on. They are tight... this is a two person job.

Pretty soon, you've got sides and bases and cushions galore!

Then, you've gotta configure the couch you want, snap it all together...


There might be some casualties....

...but at the end of the day you are going to have one good-looking Sactional.

Thats right... one Sacsy Sactional.

I don't think we could be prouder of our new couch. We know its going to be with us for a long long time. I almost forgot about those shorts...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The pink chair moves on...

On Thursday, one of my very bestest friends Brenda came by to chat me up. We talked about San Francisco and which of our friends would get married next and babies and visiting the Greek island of Corfu. Brenda is pure sunshine, if you didn't already know. She'll warm you up inside. When Brenda left, the pink chair left with her. I feel pretty confident that they will take care of each other. I took some parting pictures, and Brenda and the pink chair have already had a photo shoot since they left!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I'm Writing a Cookbook.... NOT!

I love cookbooks... the glossy full colored pictures, the interesting and heartfelt introductions and the notion that anything in the world would be possible, if only I kept such items as Montrachet crumbled goat cheese, capers or Greek yogurt in my own tiny pantry. Unfortunately, I don't. The truth is, we just can't eat every meal out of a cookbook.

Normally, I'm cooking family recipes that we know by heart, something I've picked up from a magazine or blog and, on occasion, something new from a cookbook. Once each recipe has proven itself, I like to compile it into my own book of recipes that I can reference easily for weeknight dinners without having to remember where it came from.

I made this easy and durable little cookbook with a cheap photo album from Target and some regular notecards. The plastic slips keep my recipes safe from moisture and sticky fingers and make it easy for me to add and remove recipes whenever I find them.

Snapshot: Shoe People

Before I put these away
I just want to take a minute to make this point...
We are shoe people.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wedding Candids

After months of preparation with your wedding photographer and hundreds of beautiful shots, you still have to appreciate the candid shots your friends take on your special day. Especially when they happily surprise you one afternoon on Facebook. Here are some of my favorites:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Before & After: An Entertainment Center

The Entertainment Center

The Problem: Once again, not enough storage space. We needed room for the TV, DVD player, Wii, Time Capsule and Modem, plus enough shelf space for all of our books and records. The tiny book case we had was not cutting it.

The Solution: We have high ceilings, so we able to utilize that space by getting a taller and sturdier bookcase from Ikea (Hemnes Bookcase). With a bigger shelving unit, we could eliminate other smaller pieces of furniture and consolidate our collection. We left the back off of the case to leave access to cords and outlets, and the TV hides our thermostat perfectly. Lastly, we added some collapsible storage cubes and a wicker basket to hide away the less attractive accessories. You might notice that our collage of silver frames is missing, but never fear... it will reappear on the other side of the room!

Jake's Favorite Thing: Apple's Time Capsule

We'll be taking this puppy out for a spin tonight! Jake just let me know we are having a friend over for dinner. It's sort of like an entertaining fire drill. How fast can I straighten up (luckily there are only 300 sq. ft. to clean) and throw together a meal? It will be movie night over here at the Curtis residence. Taco Chili & "Public Enemies".

The Party Gene

Parties are in my blood. Not falling-down-drunk-basement-parties or way-boring-grab-a-couple-balloons-and-call-it-a-party-parties... serious. themed. parties. Let me back up a little...

When I was a kid, my mother took parties very seriously. My brother once had a zoo party with live baby animals to pet. I had a ballerina birthday where we decorated tutus, danced with a professional ballerina and feasted on a ballerina bear cake. My favorite birthday of all time was a tea party where me and all my friends got dressed up from a bin of plastic accessories and then proceeded to an elaborate tea party my mom staged on our balcony. Sprite tea and Dr. Pepper tea were served. The pictures are ridiculously cute. There were always adorable themed decorations and treats to match. Holidays were equally as extravagant (I already told you about Halloween here). The bottom line is: Parties are in my blood. I love to entertain.

With the wedding over and some summer time on my hands, I've got new hobbies, goals and obsessions. I've been feeling quite domestic. New cookbooks, new recipes, new blogs (about decorating, travel, cooking, baking, organizing). I even made chocolate chip cookies from scratch yesterday! Then I came upon Hostess with the Mostest. How could I, my mother's daughter, not be tantalized by this blog!? It's just parties, parties, parties! I'm looking for excuses now... why does Jake's birthday have to be all the way in September!?

Luckily, my husband loves the crazy-creative-party-craving-part of me. He's given me free reign to party on down. I'm starting simple... an openhousewarming. The theme is "Our Nest" and the color scheme is chocolate brown and robin's egg blue. I'm having so much fun deciding what snacks to serve and what bird-themed decorations to use! I'll keep you posted...

Before & After: An Entry

The Entry Table

The Problem: After replacing my old bookshelf with our dresser, we needed places for books and other open display items (including some beautiful vases we received as wedding presents). The entry table we had held some stuff, but we found that the hip-height surface collected a lot of clutter and didn't break up the entry from the room as much as we would have liked.

The Solution: Go vertical! We replaced the entry table with an Ikea shelving unit (Expedit Bookcase) that is very similar in form. The difference is, the new shelving is a beautiful dark wood and much sturdier and better quality than the old piece. We left it vertical to serve as a room divider and to discourage ourselves from cluttering up the top with junk mail. The cubes provide interesting places to stash our favorite books, frames and pottery and we were able to leave some of the storage at the bottom.

Highly Recommended Books:
For the Pictures:
For the Words:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Before & After: A Vanity & Dresser

We were planning on showing you the whole apartment redecoration at once, but its taking a little longer than we thought and we just can't wait! Instead we'll show you piece by piece...

The Vanity & Dresser

The Problem: 2 people = 2 times as many clothes. We needed more storage space for casual clothes like t-shirts that were taking up valuable closet space. The book shelf that was previously in this location also served as a vanity and hairstyling station, but it often looked cluttered and didn't provide anywhere to stash less attractive beauty accessories (hairspray, makeup remover, etc.). In order to use the blowdryer, straightener or curling iron, I had to slide the shelf aside to access the outlet.

The Solution: We changed the smaller, light light colored bookshelf out for a dark wood, oversized dresser from Ikea (Malm 6-Drawer Chest). The big drawers provided space for all of our foldable clothing and the two smaller top drawers allow for much better vanity storage. We ran an extension cord through an existing space in the back of the top left drawer and made it into super-convenient hair tool and cord storage. Now instead of having to move the dresser, plug in the curling iron, then unplug and store it afterwards, I can simply pull it out, turn it on and stow it back away easily. For the top right drawer we used collapsible dividers, also from Ikea (Komplement Storage Boxes) to create a place to put extra beauty supplies. This allowed for a much prettier and less cluttered vanity top.

What do you think?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

We're Remodeling!

Jake likes to tease that I haven't left any space in my apartment for him to move in and whine about how he can't bring his surfboard. Let me make my case here:

Do you know how small that is? IT'S TEENY TINY.

Don't get me wrong. I love my apartment, which has now become our apartment.
It has big windows & great light,
hardwood floors,
crown molding,
decent paint colors,
& great wooden blinds.
It's just tiny.

So Jake & I have gotten around to taking our apartment from
a one-person college apartment
a newlywed retreat for two.

We are now celebrities at Ikea & Target and
thanks to the beautiful wedding gifts we received, it is shaping up nicely.

But there have been some sacrifices:

Rest in Peace Pink Chair. You represent the thrill of my college years
and what 19 year olds will do when they are bored at 10pm.
I will never forget you.