U-Pick Sunflowers | Suzie’s Farms

Hello blog! It’s been some time, and while I have no excuse, I’m very sorry for the lack in blog love! But I’m here right now and I’m excited to share this belated post! On the blog today I’m writing about one of my favorite places in San Diego’s South Bay – Suzie’s Farm! This organic farm is my favorite because they’re also a U-Pick farm. Visitors can pick strawberries in the summer, pumpkins in the fall, and sunflowers in the spring! Yes, you read that right, U-PICK SUNFLOWERS! Don’t you love the seasons? I know I do.

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Suzie’s Farm

So while the harvest varies by season, the local community flocks to Suzie’s Farm for fresh, organic produce year-round. Suzie’s Farm is a 70-acre USDA-certified organic farm with over 80 of the nicest employees. The farm also boasts 100+ varieties of fruits, veggies and flowers. What makes this farm extra special, however, is the U-Pick opportunities. They dedicate a few of their fields for the U-Pickers. Below is the makings of the strawberry fields!

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U-Pick Sunflowers

The hours of Suzie’s Farm are pretty limited. At the time this post is being written, the farm is only open to the public on Saturdays. So you can best believe that when it was announced that the sunflowers were ready to be picked, everyone and their mothers were at the fields.

With shears in hand, my mom, sister and I walked into the field of sunflowers on the lookout for the biggest and brightest ones. I made the rookie mistake of wearing an overall dress, meaning my legs were bare and amongst the rows of flowers. Who knew sunflower stems and leaves were so itchy? However, I did make the right decision to wear high socks. Woo!

I know that I personally had so much fun being amongst the flowers. Of course there were bees and other insects, but the photo opportunities were just unreal. For $1 a stem, we walked away with 7 individual blooms.

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Support your local farms and businesses!



Galentine’s Day SD | Moniker Warehouse

Hosted by Layered Vintage, Pow Wow Design Studio, Miho Catering Co., and Barçon Catering Co., Galentine’s Day SD was E V E R Y T H I N G. 7o’s themed and all things groovy, it was an Instagrammer’s dream. Gold foiled donuts, pretty pink cocktails, and a disco ball – I didn’t want to leave empty-handed. And I didn’t. I walked away with lots of photo booth photos and a feeling of female empowerment.

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Galentine’s Day SD

So what is Galentine’s Day? It is also a celebration of love, but for your girlfriends – single or not! Apparently the term was coined by Parks and Rec.. Now, I’ve never seen that show, but it has produced lots of memes. And being the social media addict I am, I see a lot of those.

I’m all for romantic love, but what about all the platonic relationships in your life? They deserve as much attention, if not more, on Valentine’s Day. And that’s exactly what this event brought to light.

There were probably around 200 women who attended the Thursday party at Moniker Warehouse. Imagine the grooviest, most radical, all girl 1970’s disco. Now imagine that with 10x the glitter! The whole place was beautifully decorated – faux fur pillows, cute furniture, and fresh flowers galore. I know that I, myself, couldn’t stop fawning over it all. On top of that, everyone was in their best dress. Seventies’ fashion was all about the bell sleeves, jumpsuits, and platforms. And if you know me, you know I love a good themed party.

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Empowered women empower women

I’m lucky to be able to work with some pretty rad ladies and have some of the best friends a girl can ask for. Empowered women empower women – and in a world where we’re constantly having to prove ourselves and our worth, girl power is super important.

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Ovaries before brovaries, always ✌?



Au Revoir 2016

What a whirlwind of a year 2016 has been. It has beat me down, it has built me up, and it has continued to do what 2015 did –  challenge me. Ever since graduating college, I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching to figure out just what I’m meant to do. Spoiler alert: I still don’t know what I’m meant to do. However, I have learned to hone in onto what I love to do. Which is giving back, traveling, writing, and creating content.

#BestNineof2016

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Giving Back

At the beginning of 2016, I was feeling lost and simultaneously inspired. You all know how the New Year tends to do that. I decided to finally sign up to volunteer at the local animal shelter to keep me occupied/sane during my job search. I did that for almost half a year, and I’m eager to get back to continue! The joy I get from volunteering with dogs is borderline silly, but it brings such happiness to me!

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Traveling

This year I was also fortunate enough to do some traveling and cross off some bucket list items. In March, my sister and I traveled with EF College Break to Costa Rica – my first visit to Central America! That was where I embraced the Pura Vida lifestyle, and who knew that half a year later I’d be working at Pura Vida Bracelets!? More on that later.

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A week later, I was off to the valley – the Coachella valley to be exact! I’ve been meaning to go to the Coachella Music Festival since Vanessa Hudgens put it on the map for me, and it finally happened this year. With three of my best friends, we made this dream a reality. My first music festival was THE music festival and it was probably one of the best weekends of my life. Being able to see some of my favorite musical artists (The 1975, Ellie Goulding, Sam Smith) brings literal tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Ah, what is life?!

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Another highlight of 2016 was my trip to San Francisco with Diana. I’ve been once before, but not as an adult (okay ew, not using that term ever again). This meant that I also got to experience Wine Country with my best friend, and it was so much fun. Diana and I always manage to go on fun trips, which I’m more than sure we’ll continue in the new year. What do you say to Mexico in the summer, Dee? VAMOS!

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Then there was my trip to Canada, which has been in the making since the end of semester abroad in 2014! It meant a lot to me to see and hang out with Amanda and Sudiksha after all this time. It also got me closer to my imminent return to Europe. Before I travel to Europe again, I wanted to see more of North and South America. It’s actually my goal to be in London in 2018, so I’ve got to get a move on ;)

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Writing + Creating Content

I’m actually really pleased to see that I documented on the blog all of this year’s travels. It was a personal goal of mine to write more and I used this blog to do just that. Admittedly, I’ve fallen in and out of love with this blog. But at the end of the day, it is a passion and a creative outlet. Writing and content creation are things I love, and it’s important to me that it is part of whatever career route I take.

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Which brings me back to Pura Vida Bracelets! These last few months of 2016 I have been grateful enough to get hired at a wonderful company and dip my toes into the world of social media and influencer marketing. It’s been a learning process and I’m so fortunate to finally have the chance to show what I’m made of. I’ve been able to create content for their Instagram, and I have realized that I really really love it. And it’s something I like to believe I’m good at! So here’s to creating more and more in the new year!

Au Revoir, 2016

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2016 also saw another revolution around the sun. Who knew that a person could have an existential crisis at the ripe old age of 22? It was a hard year and I have a feeling 23 will be just as tough, but you know what? So am I. Bring it on, 2017.



Views from the Six | Toronto

Every Toronto local I crossed paths with seemed surprised when I’d list every place I saw in the Six in the short span I was there. Each day’s list would be an upwards of 4 city attractions, which I guess is a lot. What can I say, I don’t play. Especially when it comes to exploring.

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The city of Toronto is small despite being geographically large. It’s also pretty walkable, but I totally understand the need to take transit. It helped knowing I had TTC tokens once my feet started to hurt. I just needed it for this purpose twice, and it was only because it was also raining.

During my three days in Toronto, I found myself all over the city. I like to believe that is plenty of time for all the must-see’s, especially during Canada’s cooler seasons. Aside from much colder temps than I’m used to, I’d say I came right when the weather was still manageable. Layers really helped.

Day 1

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For my first day in Toronto, the universe conspired to give me the most perfect and beautiful autumn day to explore in. It also happened to be the one day that a good exchange friend of mine, Sudiksha, took off work (and that was before I told her I was coming!) How it all worked out amazes me. We started off in the northern part of Toronto at Kensington Market and worked our way south. We braved Chinatown in the daytime, walked through Graffiti Alley, took Queen Street West all the way to Toronto City Hall, and ended our day at the iconic CN Tower.

Day 2

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The second day of my Canada visit brought the clouds and rain. Not wanting to get wet, this is the day I also braved the TTC subway on my own. My destination was way up north again – the Royal Ontario Museum. I spent a good chunk of my day walking around the exhibits before a brief stroll along all the posh shops in Yorkville. Realising that I didn’t want to shop yet, I decided to jump back onto the subway and head towards west Toronto. This part of the city is much more residential, so I spent the rest of the day admiring the cute and charming homes before venturing back to Kensington and home.

Day 3

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I was whisked away to Ottawa and Niagara for the weekend, so the third day in Toronto was also my last day. I dedicated it to shopping and all the tourist stops I missed earlier in the week. Beginning in St. Lawrence Market, I was sent by Amanda to Paddington Pump to partake in a Torontonian staple, the Peameal Sandwich. Needing to walk it off, I headed over to the Distillery District before making my way over to the Eaton Centre. This shopping centre is insane! I spent a good 2 hours in there before treating myself to a BeaverTail.

Toronto aka The 6ix

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The city of Drake treated this California girl very well. I loved exploring a new city and always have to pinch myself that this is real life. Feeling really grateful for these opportunities! Thanks again, Toronto!



Oh Canada!

A couple of months ago, I had this crazy idea to visit our great neighbor up north – Canada. The reasoning behind it was because of two long-overdue goals: to see the changing colors of fall and to visit some exchange friends after 2 years. And just like every trip, it crept up on me and ended too fast. So, in more ways than one, “Oh Canada!” is the perfect title for this post.

For one whole week in October, I decided to leave my warm California sunshine to experience a real autumn. I’m talking changing colors, chilly air, and falling leaves. We aren’t so lucky in that department here in so Cal. But little did it occur to me just how cold my destination would be. We’re so spoiled here, and I was going to our great neighbor up north, of course.

Toronto, Ontario

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Starting off in Toronto, its much milder climate was perfect to try and get me acclimated to Canadian weather. When I first arrived, the 6ix was so humid that I was perspiring! The next day? I just wore a long-sleeved shirt and sported a scarf when the sun went down. This was the kind of fall weather I’ve been used to. And it was perfect weather to get my bearings in Toronto. The next day brought the cold and rain, but I didn’t let this ruin my exploring. Read more about this in my last post here.

Parc Gatineau, Quebec

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After our little road trip up to Ottawa, Amanda then drove us over the province border into Quebec – into Parc Gatineau, more specifically. We were met with rain all day, which is such a shame! That’s what I get for visiting Canada during a season other than summer. Or that’s what I was reminded of during the whole weekend. It rained the whole time. But LOOK AT THOSE COLORS! We don’t get that in southern California.

Ottawa, Ontario

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The capital of Canada, Ottawa is home to PM Justin Trudeau, world diplomats, and Amanda’s family + friends. It’s a super cute town that again would probably be 100x cuter in the sunshine and warmth. It was wonderful regardless and I genuinely enjoyed meeting all of my host’s childhood and university friends. I experienced the famous Canadian hospitality and it’s something I will forever cherish. Thank you again Amanda for everything.

Niagara Falls, Ontario

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And finally, the grand and majestic Niagara Falls. No trip to the eastern part of Canada would be complete without a visit to the Falls. It was probably the highlight of my trip to Canada (aside from seeing my exchange friends, of course!). If you are ever in Ontario, you owe it to yourself to experience this natural wonder of the world. I caved in and took the Hornblower cruise that brings you and a whole bunch of other tourists face-to-face with Horseshoe Falls. It was a bonding moment for us all as we were pummeled by the mist.

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The sights, the people, the BeaverTails – Canada was amazing. I loved my first taste of Canada and I look forward to visiting more of it in 2017! Vancouver, I’m coming for you!



Cream Tea | Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe and Afternoon Tea

Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe and Afternoon Tea in La Mesa has been my go-to stop for all things British and afternoon tea. Now that San Diego has finally started to cool down, I’ve been aching for proper afternoon tea and a nice ‘cuppa. Years ago, my best friend was in town to celebrate her birthday and suggested we have high tea. That’s when we discovered Shakespeare’s. The last time I had afternoon tea was to celebrate her birthday, so a trip to the tearoom, for cream tea, was long overdue.

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To this day, Shakespeare’s is my favorite tea room. To be frank, I’ve only been to one but when you know, you know. The owners of the shop and tearoom, as well as the adjoining pub & grille, reign from England. Authenticity is something I always look for in everything, so learning that this place is the real thing thrilled me. And who wants English tea to not actually be English?

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My Cream Tea Experience

My sister and I arrived 10 minutes prior to our 12PM sitting. We were greeted by our server, the shoppe owner, and an empty tea room. We were directed to the tea sniffing bar where we’d choose our teas. My sister went for the White Coconut Crème, while I stuck to the classic Earl Grey.

We returned to the patio to our own teapot and tea set. Yes, you get a WHOLE TEAPOT to yourself! And word to the wise, empty your bladder before you decide to get stuck in rush hour traffic. They also provide milk and sugar cubes for the table.

As we started to enjoy our tea, our server then brought out our plates of scones. Cream tea traditionally consists of tea with a combination of scones, clotted cream, and jam. And for $9.95, that is exactly what Shakespeare’s does. We were both really impressed with the freshly baked scone! Oh, and that Double Devon Cream!

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I love a good tea party. Some of my fondest childhood memories are the tea parties that our Grandma Betty would host for me and my god-sisters. I remember walking out onto the patio to dainty tea sets and finger foods. It was always a great time and I’ll forever be grateful for those memories.

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Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe

As I mentioned earlier, Shakespeare’s has been my go-to stop for British goodies. I’m a huge anglophile. As are pretty much all of the women in my life. I have mad love/respect for the British culture, and it’s been like this for as long as I can remember. Around the holidays, I like going there to get mince pies and a Dairy Milk Advent calendar. They ship in pretty much everything from the UK, including Peri Peri sauce, Crunchie bars, and mugs with the royals’ faces.

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Shakespeare’s also hosts themed tea parties, in addition to the more traditional Afternoon Tea. Just this past week, they hosted Harry Potter themed tea – sorting hat and all. Next month, they are hosting a Game of Thrones one!

There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be back to the tearoom again. It’s my favorite and my only recommendation for an authentic British tea experience in San Diego.



Apple Brie Fig Sandwich | Autumn Cooking

For today’s post, I have an apple brie fig sandwich to satisfy your fall cravings. The crunch of fresh apples, the silkiness of brie, and the luxury of fig jam all come together to make the perfect autumn sandwich. The recipe is actually by one of my favorite YouTubers, Tess Christine. Remembering this video from last year, we were excited to try it for ourselves after our own apple picking adventure.

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You will need:

Apples, 1 to 2 small ones

Brie

Fig jam/butter

Arugula

Sourdough bread

Butter

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  1. Thinly slice your apples. After spreading fig jam onto the bread, place the sliced apples into a thin layer. Feel free to use different variety of apples – I used one Red and one Golden Delicious.
  2. Add a layer of brie, followed by your choice of greens. We went with arugula. Add the other slice of bread.
  3. To get extra fancy, grill your sandwich! Heat the frying pan, then place into it your buttered sandwich. Wait until golden brown, and do the same to the other side.
  4. Cut in half, and ENJOY!

Again, here is another simple and super adaptable recipe. Brie pairs really well with apple, I’ve seen the combination plenty of times on Pinterest. However, if you prefer another cheese, sub it in. Same goes with the arugula, but I was pleased to learn that its bitterness disappeared when warmed up.

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Apple Brie Fig Sandwich

Do yourself a favor and purchase a jar of fig jam. It was a great touch to the already dynamic duo of apple and brie cheese. We found this jar at Trader Joe’s! Also, make sure your bread is fresh. It really makes such a difference.

Can you believe its already October?! I seriously cannot believe it. Next thing you know, it’s going to be Thanksgiving, then CHRISTMAS! AKA the most wonderful time of the year. The Christmas music and movies can’t come quick enough.



Apple Crumble | Autumn Baking

On Sunday, my family and I went apple picking at Sentenac Ranch. We walked away with 98 apples, and we now need to get creative with this newfound apple abundance. In the spirit of autumn, my sister and I have come up with several baking recipes to share on Dressed in Black – the first being a delicious apple crumble that can be served á la mode or even enjoyed on its own.

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You will need:

Baking apples, 3 to 4 small ones

⅓ cup flour

⅓ cup rolled oats

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp butter

1 tsp cinnamon

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  1. Dice your baking apples into bite-sized pieces. Place them into a greased baking tin.
  2. In a separate container, combine the oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon with butter.
  3. Cover your apples with the combined oat mixture and spread out evenly.
  4. Place the crisp into an oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown.

This simple recipe is super adaptable. The measurements listed above are for a 3-serving apple crisp, and should really only be used as a reference. Add more cinnamon or extra sugar if you’d like! I think the key is to have equal parts oats and flour.

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Apple Crumble

Apple crumble, or more popularly know in the States as apple crisp, is the essence of autumn. I recommend you eat it straight out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Today is the first day of autumn, which I’m really excited about it. I am in my absolute element during these months of September, October and November. The overall coziness from the crisp air to baking is everything.

San Diego won’t have fall weather anytime soon, but you can bet that I will be enjoying this crumble every day until then.



Apple Picking in Julian | Sentenac Ranch

What better way to spend a Sunday than apple picking?

Yesterday, my mom, sister and I hopped in the car to Julian for the first of many autumn festivities to come.

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Sentenac Ranch 

We arrived around 2PM, after a little over an hour drive from south San Diego.

Secluded in the Julian woods, Sentenac Ranch is a 170-acre property that is part-venue, part-orchard. Upon arrival, we were greeted by extremely warm temps and the friendly owner. He told us that his orchard produces three different types of apples (Red Delicious, Golden Delicious & Rome), and assured us that he doesn’t spray them with pesticides. Big kudos to them for being 100% organic!

For one bag of apples, it’s $14. For two bags, they are $12 each. Then for 3 or more, they are $10 each.

He quickly briefed us on how to pick and choose our apples, and encouraged us to eat the apples right off the tree. After all, you want to know what the apples you’re picking taste like! I learned that apples with wormholes are much sweeter than those without. The worm is long gone, don’t worry.

Needless to say, we each had our fair share of apples. That’s IN ADDITION to the 100 ones we ended up walking away with.

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Apple Picking in Julian

Apple picking season in Julian is from August to early October. It is recommended to get there at the start of the season, but there were still plenty of apples at Sentenac. And it’s already mid-September. Call ahead before you make the drive up if this is your kind of thing!

The cute little town is known for their apple pies, but why not take your Julian experience to the next level by picking some apples yourself? There’s something about being on a farm, picking the produce with your own hands. You’re also helping out your local farmers when you do!

I’ve always wanted to take part in apple picking, and after 23 years, it finally happened. Our household is now rich in apples, with enough to last us into the autumn season. We’ve already looked into some apple recipes, which I’m definitely sharing on the blog. So, stay tuned for those!

This has gotten me so pumped for fall, and I intend on making the most of it!!!



It’s My Birthday | 23 Goals for 23

Today is my 23rd birthday.

Before I can say hello to 23-year-old me, I have to bid adieu to 22. This past year was really difficult for me. Looking back, a lot of it was spent feeling sad. My first year out of college – be it an existential crisis or just too much negative energy – was tough. Really tough. And I want it to be no secret that I found it that way, especially in this age of social media. No one’s life is as perfect as their Instagram feed.

Life is hard, but we get through it. And as I get older, I think the lows are just as important as the highs. I’m going to refer to them as growing pains, and my early twenties have already had a lot of them.

Every day I have to remind myself that I’m on my own personal journey. I might not be where I want to be yet, but I will get there. I’m looking forward to what this upcoming year has in store for me.

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23 Goals for 23

  1. Take better care of myself.
  2. Eat well (less processed, more whole foods)
  3. Do things that make me happy.
  4. Be a better daughter, sister, and friend.
  5. Travel to a new destination.
  6. Get out of my comfort zone more often.
  7. Learn how to dive.
  8. Read 10+ books.
  9. Watch all the Star Wars movies.
  10. Make an unlikely friend.
  11. Volunteer with animals.
  12. Work towards making my London dreams a reality.
  13. Visit Mariah in Washington state.
  14. Experience Harry Potter World Hollywood.
  15. Take a spin class.
  16. Spend more time outdoors.
  17. Write more.
  18. Smile more.
  19. Laugh more.
  20. Continue trusting in the process.
  21. Keep learning/growing/creating.
  22. Stay positive.
  23. Take it one day at a time.

And I’d like to wish a massive happy birthday to all my fellow September babies <3

Photo: @drakeoncake