A Day Trip to Catalina Island

IMG_2328

It has been just over a month since my birthday & I think now that I have had time to let it soak in I am ready to accept the fact that in 11 months I will be heading into the next decade. For my birthday, I had my first full weekend off in about 7 weeks so Chris & I were determined to go somewhere. We threw out a lot of ideas, did a little research & decided on somewhere neither of us had been as adults… Catalina Island.

Just over an hour ferry ride off out of Long Beach by 8:30 we were on the island & scouring the shop lined streets for a breakfast place. We ended up at Original Jack’s Country Kitchen, a little dinner on Catalina Ave. in Avalon. A few cups of coffee & the perfect breakfast combinations, with probably some of the best hash browns I have ever had, was the best way to start our day full of exploring & sunshine.

Prior to heading to the island we had purchased tickets to the Skyline Tour that left around 2 in the afternoon & tickets to mini golf, because we had heard that you can’t go to Catalina without mini golfing. So after we walked around the shops & window shopped a little we headed to the mini golf course in the center of town.

After mini golf & a little stop off at Lloyds, the local ice cream parlor, we headed to the tour bus stop to catch our ride to the center of the island.

There are a ton of tours to choose from, & we chose the Skyline tour for a very specific reason… everything else was sold out. This tour was out of control fun though! It’s just over two hours long & brings you to the inland of the island where your stopping point is a small little airport. We took a bus from 1953 (but actually) up the mountain sides of the island, on the skinniest roads I have ever seen. Let me tell you, as a person who is afraid of heights… I was in tears at some points. But once I got used to the possibility that that may be my final day on earth if the bus goes over the edge, I was able to enjoy the amazing views & the crazy amount of facts that the tour guide was feeding us. (And hey, if we did go over at least I wouldn’t have to worry about making it to 30.)

We saw gorgeous view of little coves full of everything from campgrounds to beach clubs & even a 5 part zip line. We saw indigenous species of plants to the island, & even species of plants & animals that have adapted to the island, changing over time. The coolest sites of all though, was the Catalina Island bison. In the 1920s a small heard of buffalo were brought over to the island to be part of a silent movie they were filming. The story says that the after shooting wrapped the film crew didn’t wrangle the buffalo allowing them to stay on the island. They are some of the animals that have since adapted to their surroundings, changing over time. We were able to spot one of these during our trip.

After our tour we stopped in at a steak house right on Crescent Ave, across from the beach to hang out before our boat ride home. We ended up sitting at Steve’s Steakhouse for three hours drinking wine, talking to the owner of the restaurant & bar tender, & enjoying some of the most delicious seafood we have had in a long time. I had their swordfish skewers while Chris enjoyed amazing shrimp scampi over garlic toast. Literally I would go back to the island just for that.

Overall the day away was something we totally needed. It was a great day just to get away, the two of us, from work, from home & go explore somewhere neither of us had really been to. We definitely left the island planning a ton more trips to Catalina, packed with a lot of adventures. We will keep you posted on our next trip to the island but for now, enjoy some of our photos from the day.

Signature

IMG_2303

unnamed

IMG_2307

IMG_2318

IMG_2301

IMG_2346

 

 

 

Simple Crock Pot French Onion Soup

Back in January, when we were in Connecticut, it was cold. Like freezing cold. Especially for us California kids, but it was even pretty cold for my cold-blooded Connecticut folks. One night my cousins, sister, mom & I drove up to northern Connecticut to visit with another cousin & her brand new baby. It was even colder up north!!!

She made us two options for soups & then my aunt showed up with a few more options. And then I needed make them all! My cousin made an amazing French onion soup, which she had all of the fixings for. Gruyere cheese & crusty bread. I died! And then went home & made it. I didn’t care that once we got back to California it was 80 degrees! I wanted the soup!

And then I made it 4 more times!

I’ve tried adding things in, & changing it up a little. But I keep coming back to that original recipe. There is literally nothing better than the smell of fresh herbs cooking throughout the house all day. I am obsessed with it. Try it out. The fragrances are amazing & it tastes even better than it smells.

Signature

IMG_2413

3 onions, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
14.5 oz beef broth
½ Tbsp pepper
½ tsp salt
3 cups water
3 beef bouillon cubes
2 Tbsp fresh thyme

1. Slice onions and shallots in ¼ inch slices.
2. Put olive oil, onions, and shallots in sauté pan. Add desired dashes of Worcestershire sauce to onions.
3. Cook on medium low tossing onions regularly. Allow to cook down until just about translucent.
4. Add salt and pepper. Cook for two minutes and add beef broth from can.
5. Cover and cook on low for 10 minutes.
6. Add cooked onions and broth to crock pot. Top with water and bouillon cubes and add in thyme.
7. Cook on low for 6 hours.
8. If desired top with crusty bread and cheese, or eat plain for a healthier option.

What’s in my Disneyland Bag?

IMG_2380

Having a Disneyland Annual Pass really taught me how to do Disneyland right. One year that I had the pass I went 24 times! That’s once every other week! That’s a lot of the mouse. I’ve been super prepared at Disneyland & then there have been days where I show up & I need everything under the sun it’s like I’ve never been here at all.

Now there are a few things I make sure I never leave home without if I am heading to the park. Here is my list:

Phone and charger
I mean, let’s be real… of coarse this is a necessity. Honestly, I am all for a technology free day, but those lines are long! You need to have Heads Up ready to play. And of coarse, you need to document & post your day. (Otherwise it didn’t happen right?) I make sure to bring my external battery. You can’t always find a plug to charge your phone & this one from Monoprice is an amazing price. Best thing, it will charge any device as long as you have the cord for it. #lifesaver

Snacks
There are plenty of options to eat while at Disneyland. For that you can check out my post about my favorite eateries, but snacks, sometimes there just isn’t time. I love stopping for a popcorn, or a Mickey ice cream on a hot day but sometimes you are running from ride to ride, or stuck in an hour long ride & you need a little bite to eat. Before you head out, grab a granola bar or fruit to stick in your bag. Its small enough that if you don’t need it, it’s not taking up too much room but filling enough to hold you over until you can eat. Trust me, no one wants a cranky Disney date.

Advil
And speaking of cranky, have you heard about the 3pm slump? You think it’s bad at work? At Disneyland it is just as bad. The head ache kicks in, no one is talking anymore, & you, for some reason, got in the longest line in the park. Suddenly a caffeine head ache kicks in & you’d rather go home then get on the newest version of Space Mountain that you’ve been waiting 80 minutes to go on. Always have some meds with you. I have yet to find one place in the park that actually sells medicine. Don’t rely on buying it while you are there. Kick that headache down.

Sunglasses
No matter what time of year, you’re going to need those sunnies. It’s California. The sun is out 360 days a year here. Most of Disneyland is outside so keeping your eyes protected is super important… & of coarse stylish.

Sun Tan Lotion
Again, it’s that sun thing. Even without sun, I have gotten some of my worst sun burns during overcast. Throw on a little layer & you should be good to go. I keep mien with me though because a little reapplication after lunch never hurt anyone.

Sweatshirt
I don’t know what it is about Anaheim but it is way colder than Los Angeles, especially at night. I still have a hard time with this one. When it’s 86 degrees & sunny at 10 am you forget that the sun will go down eventually & drop to a chilly 65 by 9pm. Just in time for you to be sitting in front of World of Color where everyone gets a little splash from the water. Just bring it. Stick it at the bottom of your bag & be prepared.

A Book
Yes I said it, a book. I don’t bring it always but one of my favorite Disney buddies always has a book on her so when I am going to spend the day with her, I know to come prepared. She will whip that out in any line & start reading. A book is perfect for when you are waiting for a parade to start & you want the perfect seat. Someone in your group has to camp out for a few hours before, so being prepared with a book is always great.

Mickey Ears
I don’t think I need to say much more. My Mickey Ears are always nearby when spending the day at the park. It’s the best way to get into the Disney spirit.

Signature