Traveling Baby Series: Camping in Yosemite

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After learning from our test-run camp trip to Point Reyes, we were much better prepared for a big camping trip. When we decided to move to Oregon, we knew we needed one last great family memory in California. And we knew it had to be Yosemite. It was calling us, begging our souls to come.  So I planned this time. I researched the campgrounds and booked a good campsite. I planned a route there, and an alternate if we him Bay Area traffic. We also planned to leave at non-commute time. I made packing lists way ahead of time, looked up camping supply lists to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, and had Michael double check, too. There was no way I was forgetting anything this time, let alone important things like pillow and blankets. We even packed up most of the car the night before. We were ready this time.

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My little car loaded to the max!!

So that morning came, and we left right on time. I planned to leave around Jack’s nap time, so he fell a sleep shortly after we hit the freeway. We woke up right around lunch time, so we stopped in Manteca for lunch and picked up a few more supplies before we headed into the Sierra. It was all going great…

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SO glad we brought his dump truck!

…then  Jack fell apart. He would not go down for his second nap, just kept crying. So I pulled out my phone and put on Curious George for him, but we lost signal and he got pissed. He was screaming and screaming. Then we started to go up Priest Grade and hit the winding part. There was no where to pull over and I needed to keep the stuff in the front seat from smashing into Michael. All the sudden I heard a weird sound and looked at Jack, he was puking. A lot. All over the carseat. And now crying even harder. I pulled the basket off his dump truck to catch the puke and calm him down the best I could. I yelled to Michael to pull over as soon as possible, and he did as soon as he saw a side road. We both knew he inherited Michael’s motion sickness and felt so bad for him. We got him out, let him breath some fresh air and rebalance his equilibrium. Sadly we had no choice but to load him back in the car and continue on.

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He fell asleep for a bit, but the Park Ranger accidentally woke up him when we got to the entrance to the Park. And then he threw-up some more. We got to the campground and got him out as fast as we could. He was much happier out of the car, and even asked for a snack.

Back to when we entered the park, I was stunned. Yosemite is even more beautiful than I ever imagined. Half Dome took my breath away. Every waterfall, every creek, every tree. Beyond words.

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We got there around 3 PM, so we set-up camp and went for walk in the woods around the campsite. I was so happy to babywearing in the wild. We found a log by the river and started to watch the pink sunset on the granite walls.

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Then we went back to for dinner and got Jack ready for bed. I put him in a base layer of a oneies and leggings. Then we put a big fleece sleeper suit over it. Then I wrapped him in my thickest woven wrap and nursed him to sleep. He was out within 15 minutes. Michael and I sat by the fire (we bought PLENTY of firewood from the store at Curry Village as soon we arrived this time).

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All bundled up and slept great!

After awhile, we went off to bed. We had a much better sleeping arrangement this time. We bought a queen-sized air mattress, brought plenty of blankets and pillows, and good warm clothes. Jack slept between us, so to practice safe co-sleeping, Michael and I each had our own blanket so Jack didn’t get covered up. We were all nice and warm, which was amazing considering that night it dropped to 25 degrees!

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After breakfast in the morning, we headed off for hiking. We check out Yosemite Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, the Lodge, and Yosemite Village. Then Jack had a meltdown. He was exhausted but would not falls asleep in the carrier. He was too excited by all the stuff around him.

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I knew he would go ballistic if we put him back in the car so I decided to walk the 2.5 miles back to the campsite wearing Jack in the Tula.  Michael drove the car back to the campsite and waited patiently for us and hoped we didn’t eaten by a bear (we had no phone reception).

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He fell asleep quickly and I had a wonderful hour-long stroll back to the campsite. I got to stare at the glory of Half Dome the whole time. When I arrived, Jack woke up and we just relaxed around the campsite.

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He has some manners…lol

Later that night, we got dressed up a little and went to dinner at Yosemite Lodge. Michael and I order big fancy drinks and big fancy dinners. It was nice to do something special as a family, Jack had mac and cheese. But he quickly became interested in Papa’s roast duck. After a few bites he decided he needed to entertain the restaurant. So Michael and I took turns, one eat while the other walked him around. He had to stop at every table, say hi and dance a bit, then move on to the next table. Luckily everyone thought he was adorable and was very nice to him. It was a great special night out with my boys. Then back to the campsite, for beer around for us and nursing to sleep all bundled in the wrap for Jack.

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It’s so exhausting getting carried up a mountain.

The next day was our big hiking day. We hiked up Vernal Falls, Jack slept most of the way up. That is a wonderful hike, I highly recommend it! It’s steep, but paved so very doable. Took us about 2 hours around trip going slow.

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Right after the best nursing session ever!

Then I had the most beautiful moment in my breastfeeding career to date. Michael ran up closer to the falls while Jack and I chilled on the rocks. We gazed out over the valley, nursed, and basked in the California sun. Then some snarky teenage punk made a nasty comment about me breastfeeding in public. And before I could even think of a response, this older woman snapped at him for me. She told him it is rude to insult a mother good a nothing but a good job. I thanked her profusely

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We walked back down the trail smiling, Jack even walked some of it too! Then we had a picnic lunch at the Ahwahnee. Just so you know, if you are nursing, babywearing, and hiking at the same time—-you  can eat ALL THE LUNCH you want.

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It started to rain so we went inside to explore the lodge and get a drink at the bar. Jack once again needed to wander around, so one of us drank while the other walked him.

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The back to the campsite for dinner. Jack was thrilled to eat spaghetti outdoors! Then snuggles by the campfire for the last time. That night went below freezing again and there was a little thunder, but we cozy and warm in out tent.

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“I’m helping pack up!”

In the morning we packed up and said good-bye to Yosemite. We timed leaving so Jack be asleep for most of the winding part of the road back, but we didn’t know about the construction. We got stopped for 15 minutes and he woke up. He was not amused. By the time we got moving again, he was screaming to get out of the car. Then the road got windy again and he turned green. I yelled for Michael to pull over. We let him calm down for a bit, but we needed to get going so I put him back in and kept his bucket near by. We just had to make it 30 miles down the road to Mariposa to stop for lunch. But it felt like an eternity. I tried to keep him looking out the window so he would keep his bearings and not get sick—but that is easier said than done with a one-year-old! Just as he started crying again and kinda gagged a little, we made it into town. I told Michael to pull over into the first thng possible and I ripped him out of the car. Crisis avoided.

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Poor baby, no way he was going back in the car that soon.

But were we pulled over was about a mile away from downtown with the restaurants and shops. No was I was going to put him back in the car yet, so in the Tula he went and Michael drove downtown to wait for us. It was a lovely walk, the Sheriff even stopped to ask if we were okay. He totally understood when I said baby was not having the car ride and told me a faster way to walk to downtown. We had lunch, strolled around bit until Jack was good and tired for a nap. Then we got back on the road and went home without any more issues. It was a wonderful trip (throwing up aside) and the perfect send-off for California.

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I don’t really have any different advice from my previous post. Maybe just bring a bucket just in case your baby gets sick. And if your baby can walk (Jack decided to walk about a week earlier), bring a carrier. This was the only we kept Jack out of the dinner when we were cooking. Major lifesaver!

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I hope this inspires you to take your little one some awesome family adventures!

Traveling Baby Part 4: Camping with Baby Test Run

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I married a man who loves the outdoors. Good thing I am a lady who loves the outdoors, too! So naturally we were chomping at the bit to take Jack camping.  We had talked about doing something big like Yosemite or Big Basin, but weren’t sure how to go about it with a baby. One day when Jack was 6-months-old, I mentioned to Michael one Wednesday night I really wanted to drink beer by a roaring fire. He said okay, make it happen that weekend! So after a quick search I found all the popular places in the Bay Area were booked solid until the winter. I eventually found a small private campground outside Point Reyes that had tent only drive-up spaces up. Booked it for one night to give camping with a baby a try.

Jack Played while we set-up
Jack Played while we set-up

We left bright and early Saturday morning, hoping to spend most of the day at the beach. But we hit tons of traffic as soon as we approached San Francisco.

'Are we there yet!!"
‘Are we there yet!!”

What should have been a 2 hour drive turned into 4 hours. But we got to the campsite around 2 PM, so the day wasn’t totally wasted. We set-up camp, had a late lunch, and headed out to the beach.

“What is this stuff?”

Oh, it was glorious. Jack’s first real time at the beach. He played in the sand, we strolled down the beach as a family, and he touched the ocean for the first time.

It was warm, but not hot. A slight breeze bringing in the sweet smells of the ocean. It was perfect…minus the fact that later I found out I was bitten by a tiny spider and ended up getting a terrible infection.

Sleeping Jack snuggled up on my lap by the fire.
Sleeping Jack snuggled up on my lap by the fire.

Then we headed back to camp and I started to make dinner. Then we found out the office closes at 5 PM and no other place in the area sells firewood! I drove all around the area looking, not even branches on the side of the road to pick up! Luckily there was a very nice couple next to us who brought an insane amount of extra stuff, including firewood. They generously gave us some. After dinner, we sat around our small fire (not the roaring one I imagined) and I nursed Jack to sleep on my nursing pillow. We chatted and sipped our beers until the stars came out.

"Please don't make me sleep in a box! I want to be warm snuggled between my parents!"
“Please don’t make me sleep in a box! I want to be warm snuggled between my parents!”

Then we moved to the tent. I had this idea to have Jack sleep in a box with a side cut open next to us, like a co-sleeper. Yeah, he wasn’t having any of that. He wanted want to be snuggled in mama’s arms. I went to put him down between us and I realized something horrible…we forgot pillows and warm blankets! So I quickly wrapped Jack in an extra sleep sack to keep him warm. And settled him down onto my sleeping pad, giving him most of the space. Michael I made makeshift pillows and blankets out of the clothes, wraps, and towels we brought. It ended up being a very cold night for Michael and I. We got hardly any sleep. Also, I was so concerned with keeping Jack warm, but not smothering him with blankets that I could not sleep. Jack kept having night terrors and screaming every time I relaxed, too. So when the sun came up at like 6:30 AM, we all just got up.

The trail along the beach.

After breakfast, we packed up and drove off to explore the rest of Point Reyes. We checked out the historic ranches and the light house.

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Teaching Jack about sandstone formations at the Light House.

On the way out, we stopped at the park and walked the earthquake trail. It was so much fun, despite being tired (and at this point my spider bite started to swell).

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Jack and I are on the North American Plate, Michael is on the Pacific Plate.

After that we headed back…and hit the Bay Area traffic again almost immediately. It took 4 hours to get home again (plus a stop at In and Out for dinner).

So what did I learn from that trip? A LOT!

  • Make a list and check it three times! I cannot believe we forgot pillows and blankets. And we forgot several other smaller things, too. It worked out overall, but it made it more complicated. Would you believe I only brought 15 diapers? It was just enough, I used the last one when I changed him at In and Out.
  • If your baby can’t walk, bring a Pack ‘n’ Play with a crib sheet to cover it. That way you can set baby down in the safe place while you do stuff like start the fire. And the sheet keeps bugs and leaves from falling in.
  • Bring enough toys. I only brought a few toys and Jack got bored of them quickly.
  • Although spare of the minutes plans do work out, I suggest giving yourself more than a few days if you have a baby. Less likely for things to go wrong and you can book a good site well in advance. Our site was great, but it would have been nice to have been in the actual park.
  • Don’t leave at peak traffic times and avoid busy routes if you can. Babies and traffic do not mix. Especially breastfeed ones, Jack was mad I ran out of pumped milk and was screaming for boobs. If we had planned it more, I would have left late Friday night, got there late with a sleep baby to avoid the rush of weekend travels. I also would have gone around the East Bay, and avoided the city.
  • Plan for all types of weather. I was worried we would be too hot at night, so I didn’t pack a lot of warm clothes. Well, I forgot about the fog in the North Bay. It makes everything moist, cold, and damp. If I had brought more warm clothes for Michael and I, it wouldn’t have mattered that we forgot blankets.
  • Lastly, bring a carrier. It will be save your sanity. We can walk, nurse, feed baby, put them down for a nap, and keep them warm while you go about your trip. Plus it is way easier to transfer a sleep baby to bed from a carrier than a big cumbersome nursing pillow.

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    Cold morning, warm mama and baby.

Check out my next post of how our next camping trip to Yosemite a few months later was a major hit from using what we learned on our test-run.

Pilothouse and The Argonaut Cafe

A few weekends ago, Michael and I went on our babymoon in California’s Gold Country. Check out my pregnancy blog for a full review of the trip and money saving travel tips. We had both been dying for a Gold Country trip for over a year now, so this was the perfect way for us to have some quality time before the baby comes. We ate at two restaurants that really impressed me, so I thought I would share.

Old Town Sacramento at night.

We went on our babymoon starting the Saturday of Presidents’ Day weekend, so we decided to save our fancy Valentine’s Day dinner for that night. We both wanted a nice dinner in Old Town Sacramento, so I did some online research and found Pilothouse.

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The restaurant is located inside the Delta King Hotel, a retired riverboat docked along the Sacramento River. I made reservations online, but we probably did not need them. We came later in the evening so we missed the rush, and the hostess told me that the day after Valentines Day is never that busy. She suggested that in the future we always make a reservation just in case.

The staff was very friendly, though our specific waiter was kinda slow (Michael’s beer and our bread came about 15 minutes later). The atmosphere was very nice, the whole dinning room restored to it’s 1930’s charm. And the view of the river all lit up at night was lovely.

I ordered the beet salad (Michael just ate the cheese for me). It was sooo good. The beets were perfectly cooked and very juicy.

For my entree, I had to order the only vegan thing on the menu, Grilled Vegetable Tagine. I was a little annoyed at first there was only one choice, but it was tasted good so I have no complaints. Lovely crisp veggies served over rice, seasoned with a sweet but savory spice blend. I am sorry I don’t have a photo of my entree, I know I took one and somehow it vanished off my phone….

Michael ordered the Saturday Night Steak Dinner Special—nothing besides his starter salad was vegan. He always wants steak for Valentines Day. I can’t complain because I didn’t have to cook it for once. He loved his organic and antibiotic free prime rib. And was in heaven with his buttery mashed potatoes. Meh, I will stick to my still delicious healthier food 🙂

Aren’t we cute all dressed up?

This place is expensive, but it was a lovely treat. We got to dress up and snuggle up next to each other. It would have been even better if I could have sampled the wine selection…..

On Monday while visiting the Marshall Gold Discovery Park, we had a lunch at this adorable little cafe across the street from the Visitor’s Center. The Argonaut Cafe is an organic, farm-to-fork style restaurant. It’s a tiny little building, and even at 2:30 PM when we entered, it was pretty busy.

The cafe is decorated like an old Gold Rush era store, mostly wood and metal. There are a lot of picnic tables out back with a great view of the American River.

The menu is basic cafe foods, like soups, sandwiches, salad, and a few desserts. I ordered the Fresh Veggie Sandwich (without the cheese) on Sourdough and Michael got the Organic Smoked Turkey on Sourdough. My sandwich was heavenly. Fresh, crispy veggies with a creamy hummus. And I love buttery California avocados. I was so happy to find fresh organic food in such a small town at reasonable price (both sandwiches were $8 each).  The soup of the day was vegan chili, but I didn’t want to be too full and set off my acid reflux. It looked really good though, maybe next time.

We want to do a bigger Gold Country trip when Jack is old enough and I totally plan on coming to both these restaurants again. Though, Jack might stay the night with his Auntie who lives nearby when we go back to Pilothouse so momma can enjoy some wine in peace.

And see, it’s not that hard to go on a vacation and eat vegan. Just do some research and be prepared that your food will be delicious, just not a mound of buttery mashed potatoes. Or who knows, maybe you will luck out and find an awesome organic cafe!

Babymoon On A Budget

I don’t recall how, but a few years ago I first heard the term babymoon. It’s a vacation you take with your spouse before the baby is born to relax and enjoy each other’s company before the baby is born. Similar to a honeymoon right after a wedding. I loved this idea! Taking time to focus on your love and crazy journey you two are about to embark on.

Map of California’s Gold Country.
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We dreamed of a vacation back to Hawaii where we met, but sadly that was not going to happen. We need something relatively nearby, so we didn’t need to take off work or be too far away from areas we knew if something happen with my pregnancy. We also needed something inexpensive so we could actually afford to buy diapers later on. But still worthwhile so we didn’t feel like we wasted our money. Then it dawned on me we could do that Gold Country trip we have both been dying to do for over a year now.

Big comfy bed, with my maternity pillow.

With a little research, we found a deal on Expedia for mini suite the Hyatt House in Rancho Cordova. The location of the hotel was nothing special, but the room was very nice. The staff was great and the room was well-cleaned. And it was nice so spread out on a plushy king bed!

The couch was really comfy, I did not want to share it with Michael.

All the places in Gold Country we wanted to see were within a reasonable driving distance too. I have no complaints about this hotel and would stay here again if we did another Gold Country trip.

So much fun to get all dressed up for once! Dress from Old Navy.

We splurged on a fancy dinner one night in Sacramento at Pilothouse and then walked around Old Town afterwards. It was really fun to dress up and feel all pretty for the first time in awhile.

Aren’t we cute? Michael was very happy because
he just ordered his steak dinner.

We kept it simple for food the rest of the trip. Plus, the hotel offered a great breakfast buffet so we saved money on one meal a day. Check out my food blog for reviews on the restaurants.

I don’t know why Michael didn’t zoom
in more, but that’s me and my bump.

On Sunday we checked out Fort Sutter in Sacramento. I loved that this historic site was preserved/restored despite being right in the middle of prime real estate in the city.As we walked into the park, we noticed the State Indian Museum. Michael is a part Native American so he was interested, and I love any kind of history so I was too. The museum is small but has a lot of artifacts and stories. Right when we walked in a docent greeted us and explained some key things. Being from Oregon, I didn’t know much about California Native history so I loved the mini lesson. This little place is worth checking out, only took us an hour to look through. We also found the trickster graphic novel we wanted to buy for our son in the gift shop! I am sorry I don’t have pictures from inside, no photography was allowed.

Inside the Fort, the building in the center
is one of  Sutter’s original structures.

Then we went into Fort Sutter. It is your standard restored pioneer fort. But this fort and John Sutter himself played a very important role in the California Gold Rush. It took us another hour to leisurely stroll through fort.The museum and the fort provided great background information the original Californians and how the Gold Rushers settled once they arrived.

We also stopped by the Capital Building for a little bit, very lovely building and gardens. After that, we had lunch with Michael’s sister who lives just outside Sacramento and ended up hanging out with her the rest of the day. We had planned on going to see stuff around Auburn, but I was tired and decided it was better to take it easy. And we don’t see Kristina that often, so it was nice to catch up.

Lovely drive on Highway 49

The next and last day ended up being kind of busy, but so much fun. We took Highway 49 (which dawned on me afterwards it’s called 49 because of the 1849 Gold Rush….the 49ners…). It is a beautiful drive,  lovely trees and hillsides. Almost made the trip worth it alone.

Our first stop was the Marshal Gold Discovery Park.

My husband likes to point at things…

It’s the site where James Marshall found gold in the American River and started the Gold Rush in 1848.

The spot where Marshal found gold
and change California history

He was building a sawmill for his business partner John Sutter (who needed wood to build Fort Sutter) when he suddenly spotted something flashing in the water.

Replica of Sutter’s sawmill

The park consists of a replica of the original sawmill, some restored/rebuilt homes and business, the visitors center, and easy trails to various important sites (like the site where Marshal found the gold).

And they offer a gold panning lesson with a Park Ranger. It costs an additional $7 fee, but you get to keep anything you find that fits in the vile they give you.

Two big garnets,  a few gold flecks, pyrite,
smokey quartz, and a few other lithic wonders.

We were the only adults without children doing it—and to be honest it probably wasn’t fair for two people with degrees in geology to do it. But it was so much fun! We didn’t find that much gold, but a lot of garnets, pyrite (fool’s gold), and smokey quartz.

It was getting on in the afternoon, but we both still wanted to check out Empire Mine State Historic Park. It was an hour drive, but we didn’t mind since it was so beautiful.

The mining yard with the old equipment on display.

Empire mine was one of the most successful mines in California, operating up until the 1950’s.Though, in the end it had to switch from gold to other rocks and minerals to stay profitable.

This picture doesn’t even come close to showing the depth.

We got there an hour before closing, and sadly missed all the tours. But it was still really cool to see on our own. The main mine shaft was insanely deep and insanely steep from even just the top! It’s crazy to think men went down there everyday to work.

A scale model of the Empire/North Star underground mine system.
People actually worked daily in it!

And it has a huge, elaborate under ground mine system beyond just the entrance shaft.

The mine owner’s cottage, so beautiful.

And the breath-taking cottage and surrounding gardens of mine owner was worth walking my pregnant butt up the hill to see. Shows you the difference even back then between the working and upper class.

Totally how I felt walking down the hall with my swollen legs.
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That concluded our Gold Country Babymoon. We both really enjoyed the whole trip. The only problem was when I woke up Tuesday morning with legs swollen up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from all the walking we did. I had to call in sick to work because I could hardly move. Guess this pregnant lady had too much fun! However, it was nice to spend some quality time together doing activities we both enjoy. It also made us excited to take Jack to these places when he is old enough. I am totally going to dress him in a flannel shirt, jeans, and boots when he pans for gold. Mommy’s little 49ner!

Want to hear the best part? We did all this for around $400! That’s right a mini-suite, a fancy dinner out, and a good amount of site-seeing without breaking the bank.  Here are my tips on how you can have a fun little babymoon (or any vacation) on a budget.

Babymoon Budget Tips:

  • Don’t do things you can’t actually afford. There is a difference between we could afford it (by maxing out our credit card) and actually affording it (we have enough in our savings or we will pay off the credit card easily in a month or two).
  • Do some research. Try Expedia, Orbitz, Travel Zoo & etc. Don’t just settle for the “best price” listed on one site. Shop around and compare.
  • Consider staying just outside the area you are visiting, if practical, where the hotel rates tend to be cheaper. Just make sure you are not so far away that you waste time/ gas getting around.
  • Take advantage of free things at hotels, like continental breakfasts or breakfast buffets (just make sure you pick healthy options).
  • Look up all the things to do in the area, and prioritize what you really want to do. Sadly you can’t do everything so this allows to budget for the things you would be truly sad if you missed.
  • Not everything needs to cost a lot of money. Consider National Parks, State Parks, smaller museums, or even simple walks or hikes.  Sure, take that $100 white-water rafting trip one day, then maybe the next explore a local historic site for only a $5 donation. If you are going to splurge on a nice meal like we did, try to keep your other meals simple and less expensive. Not every meal needs to be over-the-top. There is no shame in ordering a pizza to your room and watching HBO in your pajamas.
  • Research things to do for free along the way to the expensive places too.
  • Factor in all the little stuff. Admission fees, gas cost to get there, and any trinkets you may buy from the gift shops. These can add up to a lot in the end.
  • Bring your own drinks and snacks (very important to have on hand while pregnant), gift shops and little stores charge a lot for even a small bottle of water.
  • Don’t force yourself to stick to a strict schedule if you are tired or not feeling well (especially if it involves walking a lot while pregnant). There is no point in wasting money on gas, admission, food & etc. for something when you will only remember how miserable you were there. You and your baby’s health is more important. And you never know, you may find some totally awesome low-key thing to do that ends up the highlight of your trip.
I would also like to mention the recipe contest I have running on my food blog, All You Eat is Vegetables?. Submit recipes that reflect my future son’s multi-racial heritage, and you would win an Amazon gift certificate!  Check out this link for more details and look out for more contests coming in the future.

FoodBuzz Blogger Festival: Saturday Nigh Gala

This was hands down the best part of the whole festival. We could purchase guest tickets for this event, so once again I brought my sweetheart. It was exciting to get dress-up up and have “adult time” as Michael phrased it.

After the Taste Pavilion, it was such a lovely day so we walked through the city for awhile. Then we changed and head to to the Sir Francis Drake a bit early to grab a drink. I had a very yummy cocktail called “Nothing Rhymes with Orange” and Michael of course had an Anchor Steam.


Then shuttles took us over to the California Academy of Sciences for the gala. We started in the lobby where they servred melon agua fresca and this ahi appetizers that Michael loved, and once again I will just take his word for it. Then we wandered through the museum, passed the sharks and rays, and down stairs to the aquarium.

Sorry it’s so dark, best I could do!

There was an open bar and hors d’oeuvres. They had a special apricot martini that I could not get passed the first sip. I quickly switched to wine, Cupcake Vineyards to be exact. I started with a glass of Pinot Grigio.

Most of the passsed hors d’oeuvres were actually vegan! They had eggplant veggie crepes and veggie sushi rolls. Plus little tables with spreads, crackers, and nuts.

We mingled and stared at the fish. Michael even ran into an old friend and I ran into Kristianne (My San Francisco Kitchen) whom I had cocktails with the night before. She joined us for the rest of the night.

They ushered us back upstairs for a buffet dinner. We sat at a table with Danica from Danica’s Daily and her husband, Blair from Slovenian Roots Quest and her husband, and Petra from Strawberry Pesto.

I was kinda disappoint that the only vegan options were salads. Michael laughed and said, “I thought all you eat is vegetables?” I am not going to complain too much since they were actually really good.

The first table had an avocado and grapefruit salad in a wine vinaigrette, and a yellow beat salad.

The second table had an fennel and escarole salad in a champagne dressing, and an arugula and endive salad in a sherry vinaigrette.

For dessert I switched to the Sparkling Presecco. Their vegan options were an apple pate and almond raspberry cake bites. Kristianne literally grabbed one of everything, it was pretty funny.

Afterwards we just took the shuttle back and drove home. We were exhausted, but had a lot of fun. I am looking forward to next year already!

Thank you again to Foodbuzz and all the sponsors!

FoodBuzz Blogger Festival: Taste Pavilion

The second day of the FoodBuzz Blogger Festival started with a scavenger hunt at the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building…at 8:30 in the morning….I was still sleeping at 8:30 in the morning. I showed up around 10:30 and did not feel like doing the scavenger by myself. I did explore the vendor booths and use the $6 worth of tokens FoodBuzz gave me for a yummy spicy raw lettuce wrap from Alive!‘s booth. I sat and ate with a lovely view of the foggy Bay Bridge.

Messy but the gulls were happy to help.
Afterwards I slowly walked through the city to the Metreon for the Taste Pavilion. We could bring a guest to this event for free, so of course I invited my sweetheart. Michael was happy to help me sample local food and drinks. His favorite was the steak from grass-fed beef, which I will just take his word for it since beef might be the farthest thing from vegan.
I am going to discuss my three  favorite vendors:
Locally grown organic vegan snacks! And they are made from dehydrated veggies! The founder Justin was excited when he saw the name of my blog and told me all about the awesome organic produce they use. I love kale chips, and their Chessy Kale Chips really wowed me. The “cheese” is actually sunflower seeds and soy-free miso. The Seasoned Zucchini Sticks would be great to munch on and wash down with a beer during a game.
Aloha, my braddah! Liko was inspired to start an organic handmade ice pop company from his memories of making ice pops with his Tutu (Hawaiian for Grandma). Michael and I were not only happy to talk story with him, but more than happy to sample all of his delicious frozen treats. Michael liked the Yellow Watermelon Mint. I loved the Passionfruit Coconut, it reminded me of this shave ice I got almost everyday when I met my parents in Maui last summer.
Oh my, the Thai Green Curry might be the best I have ever had—and if you have read this blog before you know my love for Thai curry. Cook! is a gluten-free and dairy-free meal service for California, but they also have packaged retail products for sale. Michael loved the Zucchini Soup. I hope their products make their way to San Jose soon!
See my other blog, Drink Vegan Beer, for my review of Bison Brewing Company.

FoodBuzz Blogger Festival: Review of Millennium

After the cocktail reception at Harry Denton’s Starlight lounge, we were turned loose in the city to dine at the restaurant of our choice compliments of FoodBuzz.

I chose Millennium, a mostly vegan restaurant located in The Hotel California. It was right around the corner from the Sir Francis Drake so I didn’t have to walk very far at all. It has a more modern decor, which goes nicely with the local organic menu.

They had a very nice liquor and wine list, but I went with beer. You can check out the review of California Common on my other blog, Drink Vegan Beer.

As my appetizer, the minute the waitress described the soup of the day I wanted it. Cauliflower and leek puree with chipotle oil and fried potato chips. It was creamy but light. The leaks stood out without being over powering (a problem I have when making leak soup). And I loved the spice from the chipotle oil. And the potato chip was fried perfectly.

For my entree, I selected the Sweet Soy, Chile and Peanut Glazed Tempeh. It came with anise and coconut black rice, snow peas, and Asian pear pieces. The glaze on the tempeh was so good, a little spicy but balanced with a little sweet. The veggies were just a little crisp still, which I love. The anise in the rice was very interesting and went well with the spiciness of the tempeh. And the Asian pear was a nice complement to the whole dish.

I lucked out and scored a free dessert because of FourSquare! I checked-in and received a coupon for a free dessert with the purchase of an appetizer and an entree.

I chose their signature, the Chocolate Almond Midnight. It was just rich enough without being over the top. The raspberry sauce drizzled over it provided a nice tart contrast. What really made this dish was the almond cashew crust.

As much as I loved Hawaii, I am happy to be back on the mainland where there are fabulous restaurants I can actually eat at again! I am so making Michael take me back here next time we go to the city for dinner.

FoodBuzz Blogger Festival

This weekend I attended the 4th annual FoodBuzz Blogger Festival in San Francisco. I would like to thank FoodBuzz for hosting such a great event. I had a lot of fun! I would also like to thank my friend Jacklin for letting me stay at her place in the city. It was so nice to catch up and to not have to take the train back to San Jose at midnight. I am going to break-up my recap into four parts:

Cocktail Reception at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room
Dine About Town: Review of Millennium
Taste Pavilion
Saturday Night Gala at The Academy of Sciences

FoodBuzz Blogger Festival 2012: Cocktails at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room

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The first event for the FoodBuzz Blogger Festival was a cocktail reception at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room, which is located on the 21st floor of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. After my long and boring train ride to the city, I was more than happy to enjoy a drink and some conversation.

They had two complimentary cocktails, a peach spritzers and hibiscus martini. I hated the peach one but the martini was amazing. I had two!

There were vegan some hors d’oeuvres too! Sesame tofu with a little wakame, spicy melon skewers, mini beat salads. All went very well with my cocktails.

Another amazing thing—the view! It was a little foggy so we could not see the bay very well, so it was just a fantastic view of the city.

I had cocktails with two very lovely ladies, Brigitt from cook with b and Kristianne from My San Francisco Kitchen.  I also met the author of a blog I already love, Emily from Newly Wife. Check out their blogs too!

As for the Starlight room itself, the decor is a bit outdated and worn, but overall it’s a nice place. The service was great too. I would definitely recommend it for a cocktail before or after dinner, especially for a fun date night.

The Gilroy Pizza

We are slowly starting to get the house into shape! We have TV but no internet yet. We will hopefully have it soon and then I will get back to posting regularly.

The other day Michael’s boss bought them Jake’s Pizza for lunch and he brought the leftovers home. There was one called the Gilory Special and it looked amazing. Ranch, mushrooms, sausage, chives and tons of garlic! I just had to make a healthier vegan version. I took off a few ingredients and used Annie’s Lite Goddess Dressing instead of ranch—and of course used vegan cheese and sausage.

For those of you not from Northern California (oh, it hurts my little Oregonian heart to say that I live here!) Gilroy is a city in southern Santa Clara County that is famous for its garlic crop. It grows other produce like mushrooms, artichokes and tomatoes—hence the name and toppings of the pizza.

The Gilroy Pizza
1 pre-baked pizza crust (try my recipe)
1/4 cup of creamy salad dressing (try a ranch or I used Annie’s Lite Goddess)
2-4 cloves of garlic minced, depending on taste
1/2 cup vegan mozzarella (I used Follow Your Heart)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
1/4 of marinated red pepper, sliced
1/4 ground vegan sausage (I used Lightlife Gimme Lean Sausage)
Chives, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees.

Place the pre-baked pizza crust on pizza pan.

Spread the dressing over the crust.

Sprinkle on the garlic.

Cover with mozzarella.

Add the mushrooms, artichokes, and red peppers.

Crumble on the sausage.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until the heated through and the mushrooms are cooked. Once again, this is vegan cheese, it lacks casein so it will not get all bubbly. It will melt a little bit but will quickly burn if you leave it in too long.

Like my nifty 50s linoleum floor?

It’s creamy, it’s garlicky, and it’s full of veggies. What’s not to love!