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Happy Birthday to My Grant.

1 May

A few weeks ago, I flew to Los Angeles to surprise my man for his birthday. Wow. What an adventure.

First things first, I learned that “lying” to Grant – even in the name of keeping something a surprise – is incredibly hard for me.

The weather in The Ark was awful when I left. I drove through 2 hours of torrential rain (complete with earthquake-like thunder and lightning bright enough to think it’s fake) to get to my brother’s house in Muskogee, OK, so I could fly out of Tulsa at 6:00AM. The drive was so bad, I actually thought I may have to pull over and sleep in a stranger’s barn, ruining the entire surprise. That didn’t happen. I love flying out of Tulsa, because it gives me a great excuse to see my brother and his wife Lindsey, but the drive there can be pretty rough at times.

Before I went to bed that night, I talked to Grant. After having just watched a movie that we mutually love, he told me repeatedly how much he missed me. He thought I was at home in AR and didn’t realize that I had such a sneaky plan up my sleeve for the next morning. In his mind, we were still 6 weeks away our next scheduled visit.

Adam drove me to the airport at 4:00AM for a flight at 6:00… that’s Standard Time, so in Pacific Time, it was horribly early. For the first time ever, I sat next to someone I actually liked on the plane. She reminded me a lot of my friend Blythe, but she was almost my same age. She even had 3 kids (2 girls, 1 boy) just like B, and her husband had a Kirby-ish beard. It was almost too weird how familiar it felt to hang out with her and her fam bam. She and her husband were on their way to OC for her brother’s wedding and we chatted the entire trip home, while trying not to fall asleep.

I got in at 7:30AM (PST) and my sister Amanda picked me up from the airport. It was great to see her. I hadn’t seen her in 5 months!

We drove to Grant’s house, picking up a tray of cinnamon rolls and candles, on the way. His roommate let us in the house, where we lit the candles and I walked in to my sleeping boy’s room.

It was the best surprise I’ve ever pulled off.

After the immediate shock and confused words, he stared long and hard at me with an expression that said “I’m waiting to wake up”. Haha. How fun. When he realized that I was really there and that it wasn’t a dream, the happiness began and the exhaustion of keeping secrets became overwhelming. I was home. I was happy. I was tired, but totally high on my happy.

That weekend was full of “bests” and was action packed with memories. We got to spend time with Eric and Haley at The Grove, Chrissy, Doug, little Magnolia, Nina, Sean and Eiko at Disneyland (also saw Amber and little Tessa in the parking lot!), Grant’s parents and Hillary, my family at the beach, Blythe and Kirby and lots and lots of old friends at the Troubador, where The Head and the Heart were playing a sold-out show (thanks to Blythe for the impromptu tickets… and her brother being in the band). I also got all of my bridesmaids fitted into their dresses, spent some extra quality time with Christiana and Maggie, and even managed to hike good ole’ Fryman, twice!

From eating at Griddle Cafe, to Blue Jam, to Joan’s on Third, to Disneyland, to the Observatory, to Fogo de Chao, to Trader Joe’s, to Cherry on Top, to the Blue Plate Oysterette, to the beach with my family, to good bottles of wine, to spicy salami, Manchengo and olives, the entire weekend was amazing. The best part? I got to be with the love of my life for 4 1/2 days of sunshine and bliss.

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The Beachcomber Cafe – Newport Coast, CA

16 Aug

Quite possibly the best French Feta plate on earth. Baked Feta, roasted tomatoes, olive tempanade and garlic crostini for an app.

Gyro ‘n’ Kabob – Tustin, CA

27 Jul

Our first trip to Gyro N Kabob was an adventure all it’s own. Starving and in Tustin at 11:00pm on a Saturday night, Grant and I headed to the grocery store to buy some wine. Leaving the store (still starving), we saw a sign that said “OPEN”. Nothing is open at 11:00pm in Tustin (except for overly processed chain restaurants). We went over to the little “hole in the wall” called Gyro N Kabob and started drooling, it smelled so good. When we walked in however, we were 100% out of place. The restaurant had been rented for a private party, all of whom stared us down as my tall, long-haired Grant and skinny-jean wearing me walked in, completely unaware that we weren’t welcome. The security guy stopped us and told us that they were closed for the private party. We kindly left, feeling the stares on our backs as we walked out. Seconds after starting to drive away, the same security guy came running after us. I reluctantly rolled my window down to hear him say, “The owner (pant, pant). She wants to see you (pant, pant).”

What?

We decided to welcome the adventure, re-parked the car and walked back into the room full of awkwardly staring guest. We respectfully (and slightly nervously) walked towards the owner in the back of the restaurant. She looked at us and said, “Here. You take this and eat.” She handed us 2 togo boxes and ushered us to the buffet line, where the food was out for her private event. We filled our boxes, slightly confused by how much it would all cost us. We offered to pay her and she said, “No. You have your food. Come back sometime and you eat for free.”

Oh happy day. We thanked her, ran back to the car (all the while enduring more painful stares), hopped in the car and drove home. We sat in our living room in shock. Not only was the gesture incredibly kind, the food was remarkable. Koobideh, Filet Mignon, Chicken Tikka, Rice Pilaf, Salad, a green sauce (that I crave now), some veggies and kindness.

 

Market Hall Bakery – Rockridge, CA

11 Jul

My sister recently moved to the area to go to school at Berkeley. As proud as I am of her, I’m selfishly excited that she moved here, because I found my soulmate in grocery stores. Market Hall Bakery has absolutely the best selections of cured meats, olives, cheeses, handmade pasta, sauces, and farm-fresh, locally-grown produce and meats. They have a spectacular wine selection and regardless of how specialized all of their goods are, they’re still affordable. We made some delish food after my outing to the market and I can’t wait to come back. I even got 1/2lb of Sopresetta Salami to go, risking the airlines taking it away. They didn’t.

Happy me! You can fly with Salami in your carry on!

Tutto Amore Gelato – Laguna Beach, CA

20 Jun

Tutto Amore is now called Docle Gelato and it is the BEST! Habanaro Chocolate paired with Mango and Banana gelato… OMG.

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