If you’ve read the blog for a while, you know how devoted of a Gilmore Girls fan I am. My mom and I have watched the show since it aired live in 2000 and have since then rewatched the series…oh, half a dozen times. They never get old to me. If only I could live in Stars Hollow. That would be my absolute perfect dream town. Tiny, charming, New England town with one diner and one stoplight and the friendliest neighbors ever.
Well, thanks to Netflix and the Gilmore Girls revival series, I got to have a cup of coffee at Luke’s Diner last week! It was a “pop up shop” event, where 200 coffee shops across the country turned into Luke’s Diner for the morning. The show provided the coffee shops with signs and costumes, coffee cups and beverages.
The closest Luke’s pop-up was about 30 minutes from my house, so I woke up at my usual time. 4:30am. I drove down in the dark and stood in line at 6am. There were easily 100 people in line behind me when the doors opened at 6:30. It was still pitch black outside, but there we were – die-hard fans ready to get our cup of coffee and a picture of Luke’s yellow sign. Lorelai would be proud.
Behind the counter was the infamous “No Cell Phones” sign, and two baristas dressed in typical “Luke” style. Plaid flannel, backwards baseball hat, grumpy face, and a Luke’s apron. Each coffee cup had a quote printed on them with the episode they were from.
It was a quick event but well worth the wait. I love the fact that Netflix and Gilmore Girls included their fans in the countdown to the revival series which airs on Black Friday. I’m more excited to marathon the episodes than I am for Thanksgiving :)
Saturday morning I was able to run around 10:00am, after a cup of coffee and a granola bar. It was chilly enough to wear long tights and a long-sleeve but not so cold that my hands and face needed any layering. Prime fall weather! I ran through the quiet neighborhood, through a golf course, and along a canal which has now turned to still water. Winter is coming. After my 8-ish miles, a family friend invited my parents and I over for a BBQ in the most Halloween-decorated house I have ever seen.
Every picture frame in the house was replaced with haunted photos of skeletons demented children. Hand-dyed gauze draped with windows with spiders and blood. Potion bottles lined the kitchen counter. (Organic Bat Brain was my favorite.) A delicate appetizer of raw heart and brain awaited us at the table.
This is just the start of Halloween festivities! Later this week, some friends and I are headed to a corn maze. Then later, my company is taking a school bus out to a field where we get to defend ourselves from zombies with paintball guns. Then of course there will be a costume contest at work, and lots of pumpkin goodies!
Sunday morning I got in another 9ish miles in the same neighborhood with the most beautiful Autumn weather. I can’t help but stop and take pictures when the trees are this bright. It’s looking like they will be bare in the next week or so, and I want to soak it all up while I can!
It was a wonderful few days FULL of coffee, pumpkin spice and running. This week is looking like a blur with work, some fun evening plans, and one not-so-fun appointment. My wisdom teeth finally need to come out. :( I’m planning a solid three days of being lazy after the surgery. Which, for me, includes catching up with the blog posts!
Happy Pumpkin Spice Season!
Good morning, coffee lovers! In case you missed it, yesterday was National Coffee Day. This is a serious holiday on my calendar which required careful calculation and strategy for hitting up the main coffee shops without over-caffeinating myself ;)
Dutch Bros. is a main coffee drive-thru in the PNW and as part of their National Coffee Day celebration, profit from every drink went to our local Boys and Girls Club charity. PLUS customers were given a full “punch card’ which can be redeemed for a free drink on your next visit. Another coffee hut was offering 4 drinks for $10, and my office even created their own coffee bar in the break room. There were flavored foam pumps (I did not even know that existed!), whip cream, fancy creamers, sprinkles, and coffee-flavored chocolates. My heart was very very happy yesterday.
The coffee love just KEPT ON COMING this morning because a brand new coffee shop literally right down the street from me had its Grand Opening today. They advertised free coffee all day, so of course I pulled in on my way to work. I expected the free drink to be black coffee. Nope! ANY drink, fancy as you want, all for free. They have Oreo Chillers and Rockstar Freezes and Pumpkin Spice Lattes and something called a “Caramel Blondie.” Creature of habit, I went with an iced nonfat vanilla americano but I just might go back after work for something a little more festive. Depends on if I feel like going for a run first or not ;)
Anyways, what I’m REALLY here for is to share the last bit of fun from my weekend that included a fishing trip and my very first Blue Apron meal. Last summer, my family vacationed in Mammoth Lakes, California and went fishing very early in the morning. I caught nothing. This trip, I caught so many fish that I had to take a break to let my dad fish without having to continually re-set my line! :)
We mostly caught trout, and threw them right back in the river (after snapping a picture first, duh. It’s 2016.) It was so peaceful to stand in the river, look out into the forest and just appreciate the autumn day.
That night, we got home feeling drained and lazy. Then I remembered that my first Blue Apron box had arrived on Friday and I had 3 different meals to choose from! I love that they come in refrigerated boxes with all of the ingredients pre-portioned. The recipe cards are so detailed and I really appreciate the photos of each step. I picked the “Summer Pepper Shakshuka” with eggs and za’atar. This was the first time I’ve ever cooked a Middle Eastern dish myself, and I think it turned out pretty dang close to the picture!
There was something relaxing about dicing up all of the fresh vegetables. I threw them into a large pan and added the seasonings that came with my delivery. The best part? PITA BREAD. You know how much I love my carbs. The actual pita was already cooked, but it came in a circle like pizza crust. I got to slice it into triangles, toast in the oven and add the za’atar seasoning. They came out flavorful and toasty, just like they should!
Fresh pea shoots brought some color into this dish! The protein came from farm-fresh eggs that were added to the pan at the last few minutes. It seemed like a savory breakfast-for-dinner meal, but breakfast is my favorite so I was completely onboard for that!
My favorite part of cooking Blue Apron meals is how aesthetic they are plated! I know I’m not the only one who’s always proud when I serve a dish that looks restaurant-worthy. Especially with the Instagram food porn that makes a bowl of oatmeal look like pure art. Taking an extra minute for the presentation is one of those simple little things that is so satisfying, and I think every Blue Apron meal includes a very beautiful presentation.
A little feta sprinkled on top and voila! I think the whole meal took between 30-40 minutes to create. It was bursting with flavors that were somewhat foreign to me. I’d never cooked with za’atar, shallots, or pea shoots before. Cost-wise, Blue Apron meals are considerably less expensive than eating at a restaurant. The meals are less than $10 each, but seasonal specials and discounts are always popping up in my inbox. Plus everything is delivered to your door and pre-measured. I’m at that weird transitional phase between an on-campus college student with a meal plan and dozens of campus dining options to living completely on my own and “fending for myself.” Since health and nutrition are so important to me, I hardly want to get into that bad habit of resorting to microwave meals for dinner every night.
I learned about Blue Apron through fellow bloggers PBFingers.com and HungryRunnerGirl.com & I think it is the perfect transition for me to start learning to cook whole nutritious meals!
There are two more new-to-me meals from my last delivery to create this weekend and I can’t wait to try the Summer Udon Salad! (I opted for the vegetarian meal plan.) After a whole week of 5:00am workouts, I want nothing more than a lazy Friday night at home with yoga pants, Grey’s Anatomy, decaf coffee, and some time in the kitchen with a new healthy recipe. Plus all those Udon noodles will serve as my carbo-loading for tomorrow’s long run! Shelby, my running teammate, and I are going to try to get in 13 miles before the weather turns dreary tomorrow morning.
I spent last week in a fog.
I don’t mean that metaphorically; I was literally in the dense fog of the northern Idaho forest and it was amazing.
Earlier this summer, I moved to Idaho which seemed like a vacation in itself. Between job hunting and moving, we sort of skipped right over our typical summer trip while we were so caught up in the hectic new schedule.
Last week, we made up for it with a trip up north to the mountains and lakes of Idaho which were covered in a layer of gloom and fog for the weekend.
I didn’t mind one bit. The weather went along nicely with my plans to sit by the fire, read some books, play cards, drink fancy coffee, and celebrate my dad’s birthday.
We stayed at a bed and breakfast right on the water with views of the sail boats, the mountains, and the downtown shops and restaurants. I love the old-fashioned buildings with a pine tree backdrop.
Our suite was huge. Bigger than any apartment I could afford! It had a full kitchen, foyer, dining room, living room with a fire place, and waterfront balcony.
It was the perfect setting for a relaxing getaway. The fall colors were so gorgeous and SO VIBRANT. My camera was around my neck every time we left the hotel and not one tree in the whole town went un-photographed.
Our first night at the bed and breakfast, we were offered complimentary happy hour drinks before we explored the beautifully landscaped courtyard.
White wine is my go-to. The sweeter, the better to me!
Since it was late September, the vacation season had ended and we were surprised how empty the town seemed. It’s a very touristy town, so when school starts up in the fall it quickly quiets down. This also resulted in our restaurants having very little wait time and our drives having very little traffic. Brilliant!
My dad ALWAYS talks or blinks during pictures. My solution? Don’t face the camera ;)
Even though the Pumpkin Spice Latte made it’s 2016 debut weeks ago, I was saving my first cup for this vacation. I knew the wait would be worth it to enjoy sipping the spicy special coffee among the gorgeous mountains.
The barista at Mountain Java Coffee Shop made me a hot Pumpkin Pie Latte and it was the best pumpkin drink I’ve had! Starbuck’s PSL gives me a major stomach ache, and so many others are just tooo sweet. This was a perfect blend of spices and had more of a cloves and all-spice flavor than pure sugar.
Another factor in the timing of this vacation was my dad’s birthday. No crazy-long bike rides this year! We celebrated with “mountain size scoop” ice creams & presents on the balcony before we headed out to a local microbrewery.
A lot of our time outside of the hotel was spent driving through the tiny mountain towns and stopping to take pictures of the beautiful scenery.
We stopped at a ski lodge that was out of service since we are between seasons now, just to take some pictures and see if we could find a hiking trail. Another family was sitting on the front porch while their adorable 2-year old labradoodle ran around the property. We talked to them for a while about their dog since I am very much ready to adopt a doodle puppy of my own! :)
Relocating and starting new jobs and meeting new people has been a whirlwind of a summer – all good things, but exhausting at times. Mentally and physically, we were all ready for a break. The mountains provided the perfect escape from work, chores, errands, and city life. I know that weather has been proven to affect our mood, but I actually think the fog and gloom made it easier to relax. It was so cozy & sleepy that you couldn’t help but pour some coffee, sit next to the fire and read or watch a movie.
Our weekend finished with a fishing trip with friends and my first ever Blue Apron meal but I think I’ve overloaded you with enough pictures for one day :) I’ll pop back in tomorrow with the rest of my recap plus my first time ever cooking a (healthy) Middle Eastern dish “Shashuska”!