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PLAYGROUND

orange county is not known for its food.  its not like l.a. we have a lot of big chain restaurants and it can be tricky finding really great food. so when we found an amazing restaurant in downtown santa ana i was thrilled!  i have to admit initially the menu threw me off.  it has some really unique options and i typically don’t love fusions or anything that seems like they’re trying too hard to be different. its not that i won’t try unique foods, i’ve eaten everything from fish eyes to frog legs and i’m not particularly picky.  i just feel like when restaurants try too hard to be different it usually ends up bad.

playground is different.  i promise!  the first time we went was with a group and we ordered a bunch of food and shared, which was a really great way to try a little bit of everything.  every single item we ordered was amazing!  ivan and i went back a second time and a loved it just as much.  the menu changes up a bit weekly but these items were there both time.  i highly recommend going!  i wish i had taken more pictures. everything was amazing!  while you’re over there drive through the floral park neighborhood, its darling.

these were our favorites–

Brussels Sprouts (Caesar, Cotija Cheese, Cornbread Crumble, Jalapeño, Radish, Scallion, Cilantro) Amazing!! i dream of these.

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Cauliflower & Sweet Onion Pakora, Cucumber & Tomato Raita,
Spicy Green Chutney

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Charred Tamaki Gold Rice & Macadamia Nuts, Salted Coconut Cream, Avocado, Pickled Veg, Wraps

Wild Mushroom Fried Rice, Parmesan, Black Truffle Aioli, Scallions

Kecap Manis Pan Fried Noodles, Housemade Spicy Chile Paste, Crushed Peanuts, Cilantro

Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken

Maple Glazed Pork Chop

Black Mission Fig Sticky Toffee Pudding

Super Slutty Rice Pudding, Salted Caramel (the name is weird. ha! but promise its delicious. not your typical rice pudding. they fold whipped cream into it making it so light and delicious.)

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SAN FRANCISCO -NEIGHBORHOOD SPOTLIGHT

i absolutely love living in california. we are fortunate to have so many adorable cities all within driving distance. each city has its own feel and dynamic making them all so unique. i thought it would be fun to spotlight a different neighborhood each month and share it here with you.

we just took a quick weekend trip up to san francisco so i thought why not start there first! its truly one of my favorite cities. i remember the first time my parents took us there. i was just a little girl and i fell in love hard on that trip. while the city is big and offers so much, i am going to narrow down to one neighborhood for you– mission/dolores park.

i love the neighborhood feel in the mission/dolores park area. its still very city but not in the sense of tourist and street acts. its very walkable and has so many great restaurants and shops. dolores park is a big beautiful green area with a fun park for the kids and plenty of lawn space to have your saturday picnic. the park also offers tennis courts, basketball courts, a soccer field and dog area. the homes are exactly what you dream of when you think about san francisco. old, charming and all so unique. mission dolores is super family friendly and one of our favorite places to explore. not to mention the view of the city from the top of the park is amazing! heres how we would spend the day in mission dolores–

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start the morning off with a few pastries from tartine. i love the pain au chocolat. if you’re looking for dessert get the banana cream tart.

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walk over to dolores park to let the kids burn some of that morning energy. mine love to play on the slides for hours. take in the views of the city.

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next up take a walk down mission. wander in and out of the cute shops on the way to la taqueria for lunch. this walk is just over a mile. the perfect amount of walking and shopping to build up an appetite. get the carne asada burrito make it “super” and get it el dorado. if you don’t feel like mexican food go to lucca ravioli co and grab a deli sandwich. get the dutch crunch bread. the best!

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zig zag back through the neighborhood and take in all the beautiful houses. i love the slow walk back. our bellies are full, holding hands with the kids just talking about life. i find my kids are just as interested in the beauty and uniqueness of each home as i am. we each say our favorite house on every block and why.

we’ll usually make a pit stop at bi rite- the most darling little market. i love browsing all their specialty items. they have a beautiful array of fresh flowers and don’t forget to grab a scoop of their yummy ice cream. if you’re only in the mood for ice cream stop at the creamery located on the same street.

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walk down to the mission dolores basilica its the oldest surviving structure in san francisco founded in 1776– truly beautiful.

for dinner grab a pizza at Delfina. eat at one of the tables outside and people watch or take it back to the park. now would be a good time to grab that banana cream tart!

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we do a lot of walking in san francisco. in my opinion walking is the best way to truly see a city. if you have little kids make walking fun. turn it into a game– we count houses or steps, we race, come up with competitions or just talk about things the kids are interested in. whats your favorite city? does it have neighborhood you’ve fallen in love with?

 

 

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VANCOUVER

for our anniversary we took a weekend trip up to vancouver bc. we took the kids along with us. we really like taking the kids on vacations. its fun to get away for a date night but we love bringing them with us to make new memories and have fun experiences. vancouver is only 3 hours away so the drive is easy. the weather was beautiful and sunnier than seattle. our first stop was tacos at our favorite spot then off tho the hotel which was right in the middle of gas town. gas town is a super cute neighborhood in vancouver. lots of shopping and cute restaurants.

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we like taking the kids with us on vacation but we don’t like sharing a room with them. their room looks like a bunch of hard partying rockstars stayed in it. the kids had a suite adjoining ours. while ivan was out grabbing dinner and i was relaxing in my bed they were trashing the place. our room had sort of a twisty hall leading from ours to theirs that did a good job muffling the sound. i walked over and was surprised to see these party animals having the time of their life. not to worry i cleaned it up.

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we grabbed treats at thierry. the place was packed! the dessert were tasty and elle felt so fancy picking out her own box of chocolates.

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the view from our room was beautiful. we were on the 28th floor and coaxing ivan out onto the balcony was no easy task. he’s very afraid of heights. he inched his way out for a good 3 seconds to check out the view before heading back in. vancouver is one of my very favorite cities. great food. canadians are the nicest people ever and the shopping is pretty great.

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LIFE LATELY DECEMBER

wow this year flew by! i can’t believe how much catching up i’ve done on the blog over the last two days. feels like a weight lifted! seattle is treating us so good. the summer was amazing, the fall was beautiful and its been a treat to have an actual winter. i am cold a lot. i’m not used to that. in my mind december should be a nice 70 degrees. i’m really craving a warm day. for christmas we decided on a family trip to hawaii. we surprised the kids with a swimsuit and few hawaiian trinkets. they guessed it right away. we leave in 2 1/2 weeks. i’m so glad its not a secret anymore. i almost slipped up so many times! henri is doing so well. ivan on the other hand has terrible allergies. i’m not even sure how since nothing is blooming. i told him he needs to get allergy tested maybe his constant congestion is a food allergy??

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henri got his tonsils out. we talked to his doctors back in arizona and they said he needed them out. they are constantly infected and he gets strep far too often. they said it would help with post nasal drip irritation and snoring. his doctor here agreed. he recovered like a champ and is doing great.

 

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henri also got a haircut. doesn’t he look so handsome and 10 years older! he loves it.

 

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meat and bread is in seattle! we’ve only been to the vancouver location. so nice having one down the street. i got the meatball and loved it. ivan got the traditional porchetta.

 

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i’ve had trouble finding great donuts in seattle. i like the traditional pink box donut shops from back home or a gourmet donut. seattle can’t seem to get it right. mighty-o are good cake donuts but they don’t have those light fluffy fresh donuts like other places. another big chain up here makes the donuts at a separate location and ships them up, thats not fresh! general porpoise was pretty darn good. the vanilla is my favorite. its not the kind of donut shop that you order a dozen. i want to say they’re almost $4 a donut but for a sweet treat they hit the spot.

 

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my cute little ramen date. i love this hat on him. he really is so much fun!

 

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ivans brother and his wife came to visit. we had the best time with them. i wish they’d move here! see what i mean i’ve got 20 layers on and i’m still cold.

 

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love for paris

 

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jacks figured out what rain boots are for. he loves jumping in puddles.

 

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via tribunali has easily become our favorite date night spot. its close, usually not too crowded and delicious.

 

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DINER EN BLANC

a few months back we were lucky enough to be invited to diner en blanc in seattle by a friend. i had never heard of the diner but quickly looked it up after she extended the invite. i thought it sounded really fun and said yes right away. diner en blanc is an invite only pop up dinner. you wear all white and bring everything you would need for a dinner, from a white table and white chairs to drinks and food. we were all given a portion of the meal to prepare. we were in charge of the dessert, my favorite to eat and prepare! we made creme brûlée, i made julia child’s recipe and let me tell you it was the best! easier than i thought too. we brought a torch with us and let everyone torch their own, that was a fun addition to the night! between each course you wave your napkin in the air and everyone shouts out. the whole thing is pretty great!

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all the people dressed in white, eating fantastic food with great friends. oh and the best part is you don’t find out your location until last minute, like 20 minutes before. each year they switch up where it will be hosted. this year it ended up being at volunteer park. we drove in and followed the sea of white, carrying our chairs and dessert. this was one of our first outings in seattle and felt like a great way to experience the city. the night was topped off with sparklers. thanks steph for a great night! so glad we were part of it and got to meet some of what are now our dearest friends in seattle. i really do love this city!

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SEATTLE EATS

i’ve been doing a lot of eating (i mean research) lately. trying to find our new favorite places to grab a bite to eat in our new town. here are a few that we will be visiting again soon.

 

red mill burgers- i mentioned this place last week. the burgers + fries were pretty good.

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tup tim thai- we’ve eaten here twice already. we loved the chicken panang + fried rice. did not love the pad see ew, that was a total bummer since thats usually my favorite thai dish. this one lacked flavor. our first time we asked for medium spicy, on a scale of 1-5 i think we said 3. not nearly as spicy as we were used to back home. why is everyone scared of spicy here?? anyways we upped it to a 4-5, much better. just a side note if you like spicy.

 

oasis bagel- the kids and i went friday for dinner after talking with a friend from NYC earlier in the day, filling me in on the best bagel in seattle. i loved the everything bagel with scallion cream cheese. the kids loved it too.

 

nielsens danish bakery- the potato!!! oh man, this was amazing. we ordered 3. i may have eaten most of them. the name is sort of a turn off but try it anyways. you won’t regret it!! it’s a pastry filled with custard + whipped cream covered in marzipan then dusted in dutch cocoa powder. its heaven. we got a snitter too, it was good but the potato was amazing.

 

ellenos– i also mentioned this one last week. we got it again at the farmers market by our house. they were out of the marionberry with crumble so we got the lemon curd. also really good!

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mr. d’s greek delicacies- we got gyros from here. i really like the hot sauce they have in a squeeze bottle on the counter. i also loved the dolamdes. i didn’t love the hummus, too lemony.

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uneeda burger- the ingredients were really fresh + the meat was great quality. i tried poutine for the first time here. i like it. the outdoor seating is perfect for seattle in the summer.

 

if you only try one thing from this list, try the the potato! it will rock your world!!

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FARMERS MARKET

our little neighborhood in seattle has a farmers market each week. each of the neighborhoods has their own on different days. we decided to walk down and bring pearl. i think it wore her out. she laid around for the rest of the day (ha!) it was hot too. luckily all the shops along the main street have doggy stops with water bowls for her to get a drink and cool down. the neighborhood farmers markets are really great. not nearly as busy as pike place but has a lot of the great food pike’s has to offer. the walk there is always fun. lots of exploring and looking around. while the walk home is usually more mellow + talking about whats on the kids minds.farmers market - 1 farmers market - 2 farmers market

we had to stop and grab a yogurt at the ellenos stand. the marionberry pie is still our fav. lemon curd is a close secondfarmers market

we’ve heard about nosh, supposedly the best fish and chips in the city. its a food truck and the few times we looked for them they weren’t close by. so when we found the truck at the farmers market we had to give it a try. the best fish and chips i have ever had!! even better than the bow picker in astoria. the tartar sauce was heaven. the fish was so light + crispy. fries were great. even the mushy peas weren’t bad. if you spot the nosh truck don’t pass it up!!farmers market farmers market - 7

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RED MILL BURGERS

if you know me then you know i love food. you also know i love a good burger. i’m always on the hunt for a burger and i have to say red mill did not disappoint. it was getting late in the day and we were looking for somewhere to eat close to home. red mill is just down the hill so we decided to give it a try. right away i loved that they had outdoor seating, perfect for us! ivan ordered the bacon deluxe with cheese and i got the blue cheese and bacon.  i typically don’t like bacon from anywhere but home. its never cooked right and undercooked bacon may just be the worst thing in the world. am i right??! i figured i would take it off. i really just wanted the blue cheese. i was wrong, the bacon was crispy and delicious!! we also got a side of fries + onion rings. i loved the fries, didn’t care much for the onion rings. ivan liked them.

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my girl loves the camera!

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ivans burger and onion rings. that bacon!!

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jack loves dip. i’m pretty sure I’ve already mentioned this. maybe too many times.

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i had them cut mine in half, i had plans to not scarf down the whole burger but really it was too good to waste. i loved the fresh tomatoes + lettuce.

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these two!! deep conversations i tell you.

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we had big plans to order milkshakes. i knew if i ate anymore i wouldn’t be able to walk to the car so i figured i’d do myself a favor and get one another time. we also decided we’d walk next time.

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my giant suburban. i laugh at this beast + parking in seattle. its a joke. she’s been good to us but i think its time for her to go. now can i do the whole public transportation + walking? i think so… but i think i really can’t make that decision until after school starts. if you’re in seattle check out red mill burgers. its a nice change of pace from the downtown chaos.

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WALKING DOWNTOWN

we woke up to a perfectly gray + cool morning and no plans at all. no painting, no furniture to set up. although, i do still need to paint the bathroom. i told the troops to get dressed and head to the front door. we grabbed the double stroller and got walking.

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we stopped by the neighbors swing for a quick push before we headed down the hill

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don’t worry that car was parked (i know it looks like it was about to hit him)

we made it all the way to pike place. the walk there was fun, a lot of sight seeing. we stayed close to the water and had a great view the whole way. we had gyro’s for lunch. they were really good and then ellenos yogurt for dessert. both were great but the yogurt was amazing! we got the marionberry with crumble topping. so good! i’m still thinking about it. downtown was crazy busy today. weekends are especially bad and some new friends said summers are always busy in seattle. ava’s been wanting a crumpet from the crumpet shop. have you been? we love the pesto with tomato + cheddar and the vermont. but they ran out by the time we got there.

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after all was said and done we walked somewhere around 7 miles today. 7 miles!! no one really complained either. city walking is so much more fun. the time + miles pass so quickly. the hill home was killer. ivan pushed the stroller and henri + ava raced. henri was so awesome, he ran most of it. imagine sf hills. thats what we are dealing with here. we are at the top. if we stay in our neighborhood which we could very easily do and have everything we need then we have an easy walk. heading downtown is a different story. i’m still building up the nerve to take the bus. i have this strange fear of getting lost. driving + public transportation heighten it. i am always happy to walk. i think its a control issue. who knows.

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we stop at every fountain. i don’t think i’ll ever have any change lying around with these four

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construction sights are like disneyland for jack. lucky for us we hit the jackpot moving to seattle. they’re building everywhere

ivan ran out to get take out thai for a late dinner for just the two of us around 9. it was still light out which is still taking some getting used to. i’m working on getting the kids back on schedule. no fun!! jacks having terrible social anxiety. he wants to be held and if anyone besides us gets within 15 feet of him he scream and cries. how do i break this?? i’ve never dealt with any of my kids being so scared of strangers. i hope once we are settled in he does better. his world has been flipped upside down. some people from church stopped by. i can’t tell you how nice it was to have someone come by! i thought they had the wrong house initially. ha! we chatted for a while and planned a playdate. i planned another playdate with someone else from church too. the kids + i are so excited to get out and meet people.

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LANDING IN SEATTLE

friday morning we went to breakfast with great grandma and grandpa, helped clean up around the house and headed out. we stopped in portland to stretch our legs and grab some taco’s at por que no? then we were off for seattle. the drive took forever. between stopping for lunch + gas + jacks new game of i have to go potty every 9 minutes, i thought we’d never get out of the car. we got in pretty late. we drove a few neighborhoods to check out some houses on our list and headed to the hotel.

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saturday morning we headed to pike place market for some 10am mac and cheese at beechers then wandered the city with the kids. henri and jack were both in desperate need of shoes so we stopped into nordstrom. that and the anniversary sale they’re having lured me in. the kids love the city and ava was telling me how much she likes having everything so close. i was shocked, she’s always the one saying how much she loves the country and asking me why i would ever want to live in a city. i guess she’s coming around to the idea.

DSC07174DSC07194DSC07213DSC07217DSC07211for lunch we went to serious pie. we ordered the sausage and roasted pepper + fried egg and arugula + buffalo mozzarella and basil. the crust was amazing! the kids loved the mozzarella and of course jack ate all the sausage. its a cute little place downtown and the table was perfect for our family. seattle restaurants are much smaller than the ones back home but everyone seems really accommodating and always stores our giant double stroller.

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we did some house hunting and let me tell you its left me depressed. the one house we saw online and sent our application in right away was already taken. another house we looked at was in terrible shape. tiny + expensive, smelled like animal urine and was falling apart. oh and it turned out to have another family living in the basement with a shared laundry that had a quarter machine attached to it. icing on the cake was the cemetery RIGHT next door. as in nothing between the house and acres of graves. i walked through and talked to the owner who was showing it to another couple at the time. she was so kind and helpful and said to let her know if i wanted an application. an application?? no!! i want to run like the wind, thats what i want!! not to be a total bummer, we do have a few houses to see on monday and i’m really hoping some new ones pop up. wish us luck. we need it! so far henri’s allergies + asthma are great! ivan not so much.

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