Last weekend, we ventured to Big Sur to hike the Vincente Flat Trail in Los Padres National Forest with our adventure pals Shawn, Alix and Kyle. Don’t let the name fool you this was definitely our most strenuous hike so far as the trail ascended 1800 ft to our camp for the night but it was also the most picturesque with constantly amazing views of the Pacific ocean. During one break to admire the scenery we were able to see a whale breaching the water far off on the horizon. Once we got to camp, we made some dinner and had some cake to celebrate Kyle’s birthday before getting in our tents for the night. In the morning, we made breakfast and filtered water in the nearby creek. Once we got back to our cars, we stopped across highway 1 to have some ramen on a rocky beach.
I had so many food pictures from our trip to the Bay Area that I decided they warranted their own post. The last time I visited the Bay Area Cinnaholic did not exist and I was anxious to try it. Given our limited time we only had a few chances to eat out and so we ended up hitting up Cinnaholic twice in the span of one hour and then grabbed some on the way out-of-town. Seriously I didn’t understand how good cinnamon rolls could be until I had these. Every combination we tried was delicious but my favorite was either almond icing with strawberries or just a simple orange iced roll.
Other new places we discovered this trip were Source where I got a delicious vegan mac and cheeze pizza and Pepples Donut Farm where I had the best TLTA ever and some of the best vegan cake donuts. Pepples was so good we went back for weekend brunch which was also amazing and when they serve yeast donuts in addition to the cake ones.
We also visited Saturn Cafe in Santa Cruz, got brunch at Herbivore, had 4th of July dinner at Cha-Ya and met our pal Derek for dinner at Souley Vegan but I sadly forgot to take pics of the food. Which is a good excuse to go back soon and eat all of those yummy meals again!
It had been over 4 years since Scott and I took a vacation together so we decided to take a 4 day trip to the Bay Area over the Fourth of July holiday. We had only been there once before in 2007 and wanted to explore the area more while also checking out Santa Cruz along the way and take the scenic drive down the Pacific Coast highway. We stayed at the Hotel Durant in Berkeley which while being a cute little hotel also had cruelty free toiletries which I was super excited to discover. It was a really nice but short trip and made me anxious to take a longer vacation soon.
I finally went on my second camping trip, this time we went backpacking in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks with our pals Alix, Shawn and Kyle. We hiked the Redwood Creek Trail and Hart Tree Loop in the Redwood Mountain Grove. About 4 miles in we set up camp to spend the night. Scott and I packed a ton of food (according to Shawn maybe too much) and enjoyed a nice warm dinner in the darkness after we got our camp set up. We even heard an owl give us a hoot! Despite my insect phobia flaring up when it got dark, it was a blast and we are already planning a second backpacking trip for next weekend. Here are some photos I took with my Konica Autoreflex TC 35mm camera and a few that Shawn took with his Canon DSLR.
It’s been nearly 30 days and today I dipped my toe back into the social media waters by re-installing Instagram on my phone. How did my social media hiatus experiment go? I found that I missed using Instagram the most, realized that I get most of my information and news from Twitter and did not miss Facebook at all. Sadly, I didn’t get to accomplish as many things as I hoped mainly because most of my free time was spent working. But I did find not having social media to distract me did help me focus more on my work and made me take a harder look at what I want to be doing in the next 5-10 years. Overall, not using social media at all felt very alienating. I had no idea what friends were doing if I wasn’t hanging out with them and I missed out on knowing about at least one event that I would have liked to attend. I did enjoy not being glued to my phone or computer screen all the time and I think that I may try a similar experiment over the summer when I am not so crazed with work to see if I can get some projects accomplished but I don’t think I will ever take such a severe break from it again.
Happy Lundi Gras!
Yesterday, Scott and I spent nearly all day making king cakes and decided to revise our recipe a bit in trying to recreate a Randazzo’s king cake. Everyone in New Orleans has different opinions on which bakery makes the best king cake but Scott and I agree that Randazzo’s is our favorite. We had already been doing our king cake icing Randazzo’s style but our cake braiding and shape wasn’t quite right. After a ton of google image searching we decided to try a new way of braiding and shaping the cake. And I’m pretty happy with the results. So here is our updated recipe!
4 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups water (room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 Tbsp salt
1oz yeast (we used 4 packets of Fleischmann’s RapidRise Highly Active Yeast)
1 Tbsp Ener-g Egg Replacer mixed with 4 Tbsp Warm Water
Cinnamon sugar filling:
1 cup evaporated cane juice sugar
3 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Vegan Margarine
1 pound of powdered sugar
1/4 cup non-dairy milk or water
1 tsp vanilla extract
- To make the Dough, add all ingredients to a mixer with the dough hook attachment (rub some oil on the dough hook so the dough won’t stick), and mix on low for 8-9 minutes, until dough is no longer sticky and snaps back into shape after pinching (photo here). Cover the dough for 1 hour to allow dough to rise.
- Once the dough has risen (photo here), find a workspace at least 3ft wide and flour the surface. Roll dough to about 2ft long by 6-8in wide (photo here).
- Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Melt the margarine and spread it on the rolled out dough. Then cover with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
- Cut dough into six strips of the same size, then braid strips together. The more they get twisted and turned the better. Form a circle with the braids. Place on a baking pan and pinch the ends of the braids together (photo here).
- Cover with a large plastic bag (like a garbage bag) and let the dough proof for an hour (photo here).
- Heat oven to 350 degrees and bake on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper for 15-18 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Take out and let cool.
- While king cake is cooling, it’s time to make the icing! Mix together non-dairy milk, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar in a mixer with the whisk attachment on low to medium until combined. You can add an additional 1/4 tsp of liquid to thin the icing if too thick. The desired consistency is close to paste or glue.
- Pour and spread icing on king cake and sprinkle colored sugar on it.
- If you want to get really authentic, you will need purple, green and gold colored sugar which isn’t always easy to find. I made my own pretty simply using sugar and wilton gel colors. I used Leaf Green, Violet and a combo of Lemon Yellow and a small amount of Orange to make the gold. Just put a dab of color into about 1/4 cup of sugar and work with your hands until the color is evenly distributed.
- Hide the baby and enjoy!
This past Sunday, Scott and I were in Costa Mesa and had the pleasure of eating at the new-ish Seabirds Kitchen. I had no idea that Seabirds had grown out of their famous food truck and into an actual brick and mortar restaurant so I was very excited when I discovered that we were less than a mile away from it.
I had never eaten at the food truck (which always bummed me out) so we made sure to get a few items so we could sample what they had to offer. Here are the delicious items pictured above: Arancini, Beer Battered Avocado Taco, Holy Smokes Bowl, Zippy Tofu Plate, and a Chaffle (Churro Waffle!!) for desert. Everything was great but I especially loved the Taco and the Zippy Tofu Plate. If you find yourself near Costa Mesa like we did, definitely make a stop here!
I just deactivated my personal facebook again, I did this once before and it lasted about 3-4 months. Why did I delete it? Because I find myself spending too much time compulsively checking it even after taking a break previously. Over and over again I hit refresh to see what new things people are posting. Why? Who knows! I don’t even particularly care about 80% of the content I’m looking at on facebook but still I sit there and scroll through it every couple of hours all day long. It needed to stop so I deactivated my account. I also have some larger issues with facebook as a whole, I don’t like what the site has become which is why I have deactivated my account as opposed to just taking a break. I have found it incredibly useful for some things but I will just need to find new ways to accomplish those tasks.
But deleting facebook from my life isn’t just what this post is about. It is definitely the catalyst for my self-imposed hiatus from social media but not the only reason I am doing it. I spend too much time on social media, I’m always checking twitter, instagram and pinterest, spending long amounts of time scrolling through and seeing what others are doing with their days and lives. While I’m quite frankly doing a whole lot of nothing on my end. This break is an attempt for me to get more things done with my life. Also it just so happens that it’s one of the busier times in my work calendar which requires me to spend a lot of my free time working unfortunately so I’m hoping this break will help me be more focused on my job. But I’m also hoping it will help me tackle so many projects that have laid by the wayside due to my lackadaisical habits. I have sewing projects I want to start, new recipes I want to try, books waiting to be read and new adventures I haven’t even planned yet. Hopefully this will help. Fingers crossed.
It starts today and ends on March 15. I’ve deleted the apps from my phone and removed the bookmark tabs from my browser. I will still be pushing my blog posts to both twitter and the Olivier and Kingsley facebook page (because I know many of you come here from those places) as I’m hoping not sharing so much on social media will also give me more things to blog about.
For New Years Eve, We went camping with Shawn and Alix in Joshua Tree National Park. It was my first time as camping wasn’t something I wasn’t really into 5 years ago but California has such amazing nature and landscapes that something changed when I moved here and I had been really wanting to try camping. Luckily, Shawn and Alix have been camping tons of times and loaned us nearly all of our gear so I could see how I liked it. And guess what, I loved it. We found an amazing campsite, cooked some delicious camp food, had a fire to keep us warm at night and hiked some trails in the park. Overall I had a really great time and am looking forward to planning our next trip. Here are some photos.
2013 was a good year for me many accomplishments, adventures and great moments had with friends. It’s now time to look forward to 2014 and what I plan to accomplish over the next year.
- Healthier Lifestyle – This is a joint goal for Scott and I as we often get into a food rut which ends up with us eating a ton of stuff that isn’t really all that healthy. We had done a good job of eliminating super processed stuff for a month in 2013 but then we fell back into poor habits. So we are starting off 2014 by eating all the stuff in the house to wipe the proverbial slate clean and then eliminating overly processed food and sugary snacks. This goal also includes me doing some form of exercise on a semi-regular basis as my current system of sitting around isn’t the best.
- Explore California – This has been something on my list since I moved to Los Angeles as California has such interesting places and wildlife that I want to explore. I’m proud to say that I already started tackling this goal by starting our 2014 camping in Joshua Tree National Park (posting pictures soon) and are making plans to go camping in the Sequoia National Park for our anniversary in April.
- Increase Sewing Skills – Earlier in 2013 I started sewing, thanks to some crafty ladies who have been my teachers. Scott got me a sewing machine for my birthday, so now I really want to get better at sewing in straight lines and make myself all sorts of things.
- Research Ancestry – I don’t know a lot about my family origins outside of my grandparents so I want to start researching my family tree and get better acquainted with my family origins.
- Budget, Budget, Budget – This is something I always want to do and “try” to do but it never really works out. This year I am going to make and stick to a budget! It has to happen, I live paycheck to paycheck and it has to stop. Now that my income is stable, this SHOULD be easier. Fingers crossed.
What are your plans for 2014?