The Hubby and I like to take little vacations within vacations so that the two of us can spend quality time together. You know, quality time that isn't trapped inside a vehicle for twenty hours. We went to San Francisco the last time we were in California. This time, we decided to go south and visit San Diego.
Our first stop was Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, the Mother of the Missions. Guess whose idea that was? Hubby is a history fanatic. He literally gave me a lesson an hour ago on why Hitler thought America couldn't be defeated in WWII. "America's been kicking ass for 236 years!"
Although I wasn't super interested in the history behind the mission, the gardens were really beautiful and it was a convenient stop for us since we had some time to kill before our check-in time.
We weren't able to see The Hubby's father and his side of the family very often because they live so far away, but we were able to fit in quality time with them on Sunday.
Hubby's little brothers are at the age where they're really into cars and baseball caps.
"Woah! Look at that Labourghini! This is the car I'm going to have!"
I think it's adorable how tiny they are compared to The Hubby. His youngest brother is just turning six this year. We are going to be so old and probably with our own kids by the time he finally graduates high school.
It's actually D's birthday today! He's a decade old. I still remember the first day I met this crazy biting two year old. And now he's already sagging his pants? Where did the time go?
We brought kids into the candy shop and didn't let them buy anything. Sorry, boys! We were only in there to cool off from the heat.
One of things I was most excited about was finding cheap fabric at the swap meet for future sewing projects. Fabric is ridiculously expensive here and the selection is terrible at the local store. My grandmother is such a pro at navigating our hometown swap meet. How cute is she with her little cart and hat? You can't see from the pictures, but her jeans are also bedazzled.
Bella and Riley are hilarious when they are playing. My sister sent me these videos of the two of them romping in the backyard. This was a normal thing for them to do every morning. Unfortunately, the wet dew made for very muddy paws.
Our fifth day in California was reserved for Hubby's side of the family. Hubby bought dinner for everyone and he chose Scardino's Pizza, a childhood favorite. I loved watching old mustached men making pizzas from scratch.
Scardino's is the epitome of a hole in the wall joint. You always know that those places serve the best food.
I wasn't able to enjoy the cheesy goodness of pizza so I ate the extremely fresh family sized sandwich.
It was a night of good food and even better company.
I was a bridesmaid at a wedding last year that served an amazing array of desserts from Porto's Bakery. Every single item was delicious and I knew I wanted to take The Hubby there while we were home. We drooled over their large display of Cuban baked goods.
Although we wanted one of everything, we decided to order one sandwich and one sweet for each person. Hubby chose a chorizo and egg sandwich ($3.70) and an empanada ($0.85). My giant Cubano sandwich ($4.85) and individual fruit tart ($3?). Hubby could not believe how cheap everything was considering the quality and quantity of it all.
Our Independence Day morning began with a foggy hike. Starting your morning with some sort of activity is key when you plan on eating loads of fatty foods in just a few hours. Why is it that we use holidays as an excuse to eat and eat and eat and eat...
I'm certainly not complaining.
The first fifteen minutes of the hike were awful until my brain decided that I was not going to die just because I walked up some hill at a moderately fast pace. Hiking isn't so bad once you ignore the fast heartbeat, ear popping, random rustling in the bushes and the stumbling over rocks.
If you look carefully at the bottom left picture of the collage, you can see Hubby holding his combat knife in his hand. Always prepared, that man. And he actually is pointing at the map to show me the altitudes of the hills and mapping out our trail.
I totally kicked myself when I realized that my Nikon camera battery was dead right before we travelled to a family Fourth of July BBQ. Luckily, I had my little point and shoot camera in my purse as backup.
Hubby spent most of the afternoon swimming with his little brothers and tossing them in the air. His littlest brother loved filling up his water gun and squirting Hubby in the face. Times like these make me really want a kid because I know Hubby will be a great father.
California has so many restrictions on fireworks that we were too afraid to shoot any. We were also too lazy to wait at a park for hours to wait for a show. A July 4th without any fireworks. Can you imagine?
Bella is fairly playful with other dogs, but not all dogs want to play with her. I think it's the single child syndrome and the fact that we didn't socialize her very much when she was younger. She and Riley seemed to click immediately and they loved to run around together.
Riley is so quick that she was running circles around poor Bella, who is almost five years older and has rickety old bones. They spent every morning playing with each other for at least twenty minutes.
My niece is so quick that if she ever got loose I doubt anyone would be able to catch her. Riley is just a big blur of white fluff when she is on the run.
Sometimes, Riley would lay down long enough to let Bella get a good sniff. Doggy kisses are so sweet.
Quiet moments don't last long with these two when they are outdoors. I am so thankful for Bella's short fur that remains relatively clean even after boisterous romps in the dirt.
I love that the two of them are just about the same color. Aren't they adorable in their matching bandanas? They're truly family.
My goodness! How did this adorable dog ever end up in the animal shelter? Could you ever give up that cute button nose and pink tongue?
Two days before we left for California, I decided to apply to join the BlogHer Publishing Network on a whim. I was warned that if I had not heard back from them within 60 days I could wait another three months before applying again. It seemed like a long shot, but I received the invitation to join them the very next evening.
The BlogHer Network is huge and consists of thousands and thousands of blogs written by women, and I am happy to be one of thousands. I was a little hesitant to go through with the process and sign my contract with them, but I think this can mean good things. The best thing about BlogHer is that I can continue to write about anything that comes to mind so I feel like the integrity of my blog will remain intact.
The biggest change you will see is an extra sidebar on my blog with an ad. I promise you that there will be nothing offensive as I have full control of what kind of ads I want to display. The first ad featured on Married Minzilla is for Breyer's. It's like they read my mind! In the future, I may also write posts sponsored by BlogHer and have products to review and giveaway. Free stuff for my readers? Sounds good to me!
I started this blog for our families to keep updated with our lives and for myself to look back upon when I turn into a ragged old woman and can't remember what I used to look like in a bikini. I want to be able to show our future kiddo my blog and tell him/her, "Look at all the nice restaurants Mommy and Daddy ate at. And then you were born." If I feel like I am moving away from this then I will end my contract with BlogHer.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I will be getting paid a very very small amount based on unique page views and not by ad clicks. This means that you should feel free to click on any ads that may interest you. Also, if you have my blog on a feed, would you mind clicking to read my actual blog page every now and then? Thanks!
Bella has been known to be a great swimmer in pools, but she's also quite dangerous in the water. For whatever reason, Bella likes to swim at you instead of on her own or by your side. I don't know what goes on in her mind while she is swimming. Does she think we're drowning and want to save us? Is it a game of tag for her? Is she just psychotic?
The Hubby has never seen Bella go into the pool willingly. When Bella decides that she likes to be in the water, she actually takes a giant leap and does a belly flop in the water. Look how happy and naive The Hubby is in the picture below. He has yet to see the terror that is Bella, Water Dog.
One of my favorite blogs, Oh, Hello Friend, did a feature on exploring Orange County. I have never gone to Costa Mesa other than to shop at the massive mall. Hubby and I ventured to The Camp, which features small shops that support the local community.
For lunch, we ate at yet another overrated LA restaurant, Umami Burger. I ordered the classic Umami burger for $11 and I disliked it so much that I didn't even finish the entire burger, even though it was ELEVEN DOLLARS. In fact, I thought so little of this burger that I left it on my plate and didn't even think of offering the rest to The Hubby. The waiter looked a little shocked when I asked him to take it away. I had to beg my husband for forgiveness for wasting such an expensive burger.
Later, we went to the OC Mart Mix and had some fabulous organic sorbet and gelato from N'ice Cream. The girl who helped us let me sample four different flavors before I settled on the berry sorbet and gave me a very generous serving. The Hubby wasn't a huge fan of his salted caramel and chocolate gelato scoops, but agreed that my sorbet was the best we've ever had.
My sweet grandmother loves to learn new skills. She asked me to teach her how to make cookies so we made some delectable lemon crinkle cookies together. The rest of my family does not enjoy the art of baking as much as we do so she relies on me to translate recipes into Chinese for her.
The weather was perfect for swimming so we put Bella in the back of our car and took her to Hubby's mom's house. We weren't sure if Bella would be willing to go into the water without me as bait, but she became extremely comfortable in the water with Hubby and had a great time. I have tons more pictures and videos so I will leave that for a separate post.
A few close hometown friends came over for a potluck that evening where I served some great slow cooker pulled pork sandwiches. Others brought organic salad, fresh fruit (CA has the best strawberries), homemade ceviche, baked goods from Panera and individual bottled sodas. We had a wonderful meal and I regret not taking more pictures.
Before moving to Central Texas, I had never craved the ocean air or wanted to dig my toes in warm sand. We grew up about fifty minutes from the Pacific Ocean (depending on the traffic) and never took advantage of it as much as we should have. On Monday afternoon, we got back in our car and headed to Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach with towels, chairs, and a cooler full of food in tow.
We started the morning bright and early in Tucson, Arizona. Our one night hotel stays in random cities are always restless. Bella is extra alert in new environments, which makes her move around all night long in order to check out any foreign noises. By the time the sun rises, we're more than ready to just get going and reach our final destination.
Being trapped inside a moving vehicle for thirteen hours is awful. My new camera kept me entertained temporarily, but I was going absolutely nutters (another word I've added to my verbal dictionary thanks to HP). Click the link below the picture to view a timeline of the first part of our exhausting road trip back home.
Hubby and I spent the last two days in a Harry Potter daze. We listened to the last half of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and three-fourths of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on the iPod during our 20-hour car ride back home from California. My husband had never read the books before and he agreed that the books are far superior to the films.
Audiobooks help the drive go by a little faster, but in the end, you are still in the car for ten bloody hours at a time. This past weekend marked the sixth time we've driven across Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Hubby swears it's the last time.
When we finally stepped foot in our Texas home, tired and slightly motion sick, we ordered pizza so that getting in a car again was unnecessary. We then put on the last Harry Potter movie and watched Neville kick some ass.
I think I dreamed in a British accent last night. It was brilliant.
While it's nice to be back in our own house (mostly because it means that the drive is over), we are missing our family, friends, and California weather. I'm really excited to show you some pictures from our trip, even though they're mostly of food.
P.S. "Azkaban" passes through spell check on my Mac. Also brilliant.
Bella is attracted to any kind of fabric on the floor, which makes it really difficult to cut any fabric for my projects. I guess she just wants to help out...or maybe rub her scent all over it. She loves to sleep under my craft table. One time, she decided to use my sewing machine's pedal as a pillow, which made the motor run quickly on its own, effectively scaring the crap out of me. Silly girl.
Although I already have a great camera bag, I don't like the idea of carrying it around. To me, a camera bag shouts, "Steal me now!" I've seen other bloggers convert regular purses into camera bags so I decided to do the same.
I found this purse at TJ Maxx. A lot of things make this purse perfect for holding my camera. It's shaped pretty much the same as my real camera bag and is about equal in size. I looked for something with a shoulder strap and made sure that it was flat so that it's comfortable for long trips. I also looked at the stitching to see if it looked sturdy.
I trimmed some leftover foam padding I had that Bella tore up last month to fit my purse. I then sewed fabric around the pieces. Because the padding is so thick (about 1.5"), I feel really confident carrying my camera around to more places.