Dear Millennials,

Woke up today to the nightmare that is when reality hits. Yesterday, the UK voted to leave the European Union. Now, you may ask “What does this young American girl care? She’s not British or European.” But let me assure you, this American millennial has her eyes tuned in to the world and does care. And frankly, more of us Millennials need to care or this world will go to shit.

I am one of those rare (or maybe not so rare) young people who actually pay attention to global current events. I genuinely love knowing what’s going on around the world. International affairs really get me going, which is why I slightly regret not choosing to be an International Relations major at university… There’s still my Masters.

I think what we’re seeing here is backward progress. The worldwide trend is this: older generations are succumbing to fear mongering tactics, which leads to hateful decisions and contempt for the repercussions to follow, and then they show up to the polls. I’ve read multiple tweets that literally say “Baby boomers shouldn’t be allowed to determine the fate of the world they’re leaving soon.” Grim. But what’s worrying is that millennials just don’t care enough to exceed, let alone match their numbers.

The fact of the matter is younger people aren’t showing up where it counts – the polls. All over social media, I’ve only seen pro-EUers. In fact, so many that it didn’t make sense to me how predictions were saying it’d be a close race, let alone a one million vote difference. Closer to home, the same thing goes for pro-Bernie/pro-stricter gun control. And lo and behold, we are the generation of all talk and no action. For a generation so keen on being seen and heard, we do a crap job of being seen and being heard.

From one Millennial to another

I love the passion that Millennials have on social media and in real life. I love that we’re a more tolerant and loving generation. I love that we’re travelling more, learning about different cultures, and are more internationally inclined than our elders. But by no means are we perfect. No one’s perfect.

All this passion that we have as young people needs to be translated into action. Like yesterday. Or else we’re going to be left with a world that’s going to need a lot of rebuilding. Wasn’t Daenerys Targaryen basically saying the same thing just last week? Funny how life imitates art.

I think the overall lesson to be learned here is that Millennials do have a lot of power. What we choose to do with that power is up to us. We just need to show the older generations that we do have a say in our future. We need a healthy mix of stating our opinions/beliefs on social media and following through in real life. We have to show the older generations that they can’t mess up our future.

We need to leave this world better than we found it. I believe in you, I believe in us.

–  J.M.



5 Must-Visit San Francisco Eateries

For my recent trip to San Francisco, I took to my favorite iPhone apps (Pinterest, Instagram, and Yelp) for restaurant recommendations. Hands down, one of the best parts about traveling to a new city is checking out the local food scene. We managed to visit all my bookmarked places, which I’m sharing with you today. Here’s 5 Must-Visit San Francisco Eateries!

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse – Lower Nob Hill

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Now, when it comes to choosing somewhere to eat, I admit that I am a complete sucker for the aesthetically pleasing. You know, places that just scream Instagram. (I’m keen to pursue a career in social media, forgive me.) Mr. Holmes’ Bakehouse is exactly that.

I came across the trendy Mr. Holmes Bakeshop on the @breakfastinsf and @sfbucketlist Instagram accounts. Their claim to fame is their croissant muffin hybrid, or more fondly known as the cruffin. You’re encouraged to get there early because those are always the first to sell-out. Unfortunately, Diana and I missed out on these legendary cruffins BUT we were able to walk out with half a dozen other baked goods. Including this Mint Chip donut, mm.

Shanghai Dumpling King – Outer Richmond

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Trusting overwhelming positive Yelp reviews, we ventured out to the Outer Richmond area for dim sum. Reviews of China Town eateries were all over the place, citing food safety issues. We weren’t feeling adventurous in that sense. Plus, it gave us the opportunity to see another part of San Francisco. We can appreciate efficiency.

Ever since I started eating a more plant-based diet, I have felt anxious traveling to different cities and eating out in general. Though, being the thorough researcher I am, I realised that there’s nothing to worry about. Shanghai Dumpling King had plenty veg-friendly items on their menu; we enjoyed vegetable dumplings and potstickers.

Plentea – China Town

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We did end up checking out China Town, however for their boba drinks. Diana, the Boba Queen, discovered this spot and treated us to the yummy beverage. She had Thai Tea with boba, and I had their Ice Milk with brown sugar + boba.

This place was very cute. They serve their drinks in these glass bottles with “Plentea” embossed on the side, which you can take home. It is actually quite amazing. We walked out with nice souvenirs and post-boba smiles.

Gott’s Roadside – Ferry Building

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On our first full day of exploration, 5 PM quickly turned into 9PM as we quickly learned that SF isn’t a 24-hour town. We arrived at the Embarcadero to closed stores and closing restaurants. After a walk-through the Ferry Building, we were losing hope. Then, as we were walking out we came across Gott’s Roadside. Your typical casual dining joint but with a San Franciscan touch.

I loved every bit of its ambience, from the neon letters spelling ‘EAT’ to the industrial-style lighting fixtures. I was thrilled to see they had a veggie burger as I was craving one, but mostly a side of fries. Happy to say that we didn’t go to bed starving that night.

Café UB – Castro District

Café UB was another @breakfastinsf recommendation, and it brought us to this cute little café near Dolores Park. I had a veggie breakfast sandwich and English breakfast tea.

I’m gutted to say that my photo proof has been lost in the digital space, but thankfully I traveled with a fellow blogger. Check out Diana’s post for another take on San Francisco dining and let her know I sent you!

Foodies in San Francisco

I’ve mentioned this already, but I am following a more plant-based diet. I have only recently switched over to this vegetarian (technically pescatarian) diet, and with that comes new challenges. Traveling can make it pretty tricky, but it isn’t impossible. I’ve seen it done many times before and I think it just comes down to how much research you’re willing to do.

Thankfully, in all the hustle-and-bustle of San Francisco, eateries are realising the demand for good vegetarian food. It is, after all, a foodie paradise. But honestly, if I can recommend anything, it’s to do your homework and research ahead. Google is your friend! As am I (and this blog!)

If you’re heading out to San Francisco anytime soon, I do hope you check out these places!



Wine + Cheese Pairing Tour | Castello di Amorosa

During our visit to Castello di Amorosa, Diana and I partook in the Wine + Cheese Pairing tour and it was an experience that we’ll never forget. For 60 USD, we got to pair 5 different cheeses with 9 Castello wines; we also received a private tour of the castle and wine cellars, as well as a barrel tasting. I felt that we definitely got our money’s worth, and would recommend this Wine + Cheese Pairing tour for anyone paying a visit to the Castello.

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I’ve come quite a long way since my first sip of wine and have even graduated to having a preference for smooth whites. However, if you were to ask me which grape provides that, I’d politely direct you to Google or someone with adjectives other than dry and smooth in their arsenal. Give me another 5 years or so, I’ll be speaking in wine enthusiasts’ vernacular.

Castello di Amorosa

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We arrived at the Castello half an hour before our 10:45AM tour, which allowed us some time to check in and walk a bit of the castle. I immediately was filled with so much nostalgia of my European adventures. It’s so wonderful to have that taste of Europe without the expensive plane ticket to get there.

When I first discovered that there was an actual castle in the Napa area, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I texted Diana straight away and practically made the reservation then and there. After looking at the available tour options, we agreed that the Wine + Cheese Pairing tour was right up our alley and booked it a week prior to our trip. Reservations are encouraged. We went on a Sunday, so crowds were inevitable.

Wine + Cheese Pairing Tour

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Our tour began with an introduction to Castello di Amorosa and its history by our tour guide, Steve. We learned that the 13th-century Tuscan style castle is actually much younger than it seems. Seeing the castle yourself, you wouldn’t believe that it opened to the public in 2007! Dario Sattui, the owner and mastermind of the Castello, spent 14 years of his life building the castle. He researched medieval architecture, hired European craftsmen and artisans, and scouted all of Europe for all the furnishing/brick/stone you will find in the castle. You have to commend the man for his attention to detail and the authenticity of it all! We did not have the opportunity to meet him since he was back home in Italy, but according to Steve, he is quite the man.

We then made our way to the main courtyard and continued on to our tour of the castle grounds. The castle itself has a chapel, courtyard, guard towers, and an apartment on the top level. On the winery side of things, it has dozens of metal fermentation chambers, oak-barrel aging facilities, and underground storage areas where the wine can continue the aging process. It’s fairly impressive, as the older wine connoisseurs on our tour made clear with their fascinated “ohhhs” and “ahhhs.”

We also participated in a barrel tasting in the same room where annual dinners for the Cinquecento Cavalieri and other special events take place. It was quite the experience.

Followed by more touring of the Castello, we finally ended up at the Il Passito Room above the Courtyard for our Wine + Cheese Pairing experience.

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As you can see with my cheat sheet above, we tried a selection of red and white wines, which also included some of the Castello’s   special reserve ones. It got a little interesting once the buzz started to kick in; there’s clearly stains from the wine pouring, but it’s all part of the experience. It’s funny how a couple sips of wine can turn a table of strangers into the best of friends, if only for the moment. My favorite was the Pinot Bianco, which was paired with Brie. The other coveted smiley face (not entirely sure why I went with smiley faces instead of 10/10 ratings) went to the last wine we tried, a dessert wine called La Fantasia. Apparently it’s nicknamed the “Baby-maker,” but surprisingly has a lower alcohol content than the rest.

After the Buzz

The entire tour and tasting was approximately two hours. And following this wine pairing, we were all understandably a little bit tipsy, a little more giggly, and a lot more happy. We went into the Castello di Amorosa gift shop and Diana purchased some wine for her family. Once the buzz was gone, we walked around the outside of the castle trying to find the onsite peacock but instead settled for the chickens and goats.

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My experience at the Castello di Amorosa was a great one, and if I’m ever in the Napa area again, I will definitely pay another visit. What an enchanting and romantic place.

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Grazie mille, Castello! Until next time.



Wine Country Weekend

When we were in the planning stages of our stay in San Francisco, we had this crazy idea to rent a car and drive up to beautiful Wine Country for the weekend. Flash forward months later, this dream was made a reality.

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Wine Country

An hour and a half drive north of San Francisco, Wine Country is home to more than 400 wineries. Composed of the Napa, Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties, this region is quite the weekend getaway for wine aficionados and the like. And by that I mean novices like myself and Diana. I developed the affinity for wine during my semester abroad in France, but I am by no means an expert. I can only describe wine as dry or smooth, and can you actually impress people with such a limited vocabulary? The answer is no.

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Castello di Amorosa – Calistoga

We began our weekend in Wine Country with a visit was to Castello di Amorosa (that’s Castle of Love in Italian.) Located off of the CA-29 highway, between the towns of St. Helena and Calistoga, this winery/castle is in the northern part of Napa County. This 13th century Tuscan-style castle and winery is quite the beauty, but its backstory is much more impressive. It was actually completed in 2007!

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I won’t spoil the magic for anyone who wants to visit the castle themselves, but it definitely served some medieval realness and had me aching for my impeding return to Europe. You need to check this place out for yourself. And I definitely recommend the Wine and Cheese Pairing tour! I talk more about that experience here.

Robert Mondavi Winery – Napa

After the buzz of our wine tasting at the Castello wore off, we headed over to another highly recommended spot in the Napa Valley – Robert Mondavi Winery.

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We didn’t try any of the wines here, unfortunately. From what I could tell after walking the grounds, it’s an extremely reputable winery and a tasting reservation should be made. After Mondavi, we hopped in the car and made the drive back to Vallejo. Along the way, we stopped in Yountville and downtown Napa for a late lunch.

Cline Cellars – Sonoma

The following day we decided to visit Napa Valley’s more modest twin sister, Sonoma. We began our day at Cline Family Cellars, where we each had a free tasting of five wines. Diana and I have a preference for white wines, so we stuck to their Chardonnays, Roussannes, and Viogniers. Fortunately we got in our tasting before a huge tour of older adults filled up the room. We saw this as our opportunity to walk the grounds and meet their two donkeys.

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As a self-proclaimed city girl, I actually really enjoyed the small town charm of Sonoma. The people are so friendly and the town itself is so alluring. We drove over to their downtown, and I fell in love with the tiny town. Did you know that Sonoma is the birthplace of the California state flag?!

Sweet Scoops Ice Cream – Downtown Sonoma

While exploring the tiny town center, we came across this sweet little ice cream shop called Sweet Scoops. When you first walk in, you can smell the freshly made waffle cones.

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This shop is an Instagrammer’s dream, and the ice cream is pretty good as well. Who am I kidding? The ice cream is amazing! It’s all homemade, and there are vegan options as well. They use coconut milk base for those. I went for mint oreo – mint and cookies n’ cream make the best combo.

Cornerstone – Sonoma

Our last stop was Cornerstone Sonoma – a blogger favorite for its gardens. We were amazed at the nine different gardens which were designed by international and local architects. I think our favorite was the Wishing Garden, where each visitor can write a wish on a single piece of tape.

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And with that, our Wine Country weekend came to an end. We left early the next day to catch a ferry back to San Francisco, then headed over to the airport to catch our flights back to San Diego and Las Vegas.

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I’m extremely fortunate to have spent time exploring Northern California with my best friend, getting lost in the City and getting buzzed in Wine Country. Thanks for having us, NorCal!



The Princess Diaries | San Francisco Locations

If you’re a fan of the Princess Diaries like me, you understand why I couldn’t leave San Francisco without visiting those on-set locations. It just wouldn’t be right. It’d be like going to Disneyland and not taking a picture of the castle. I take things like this very seriously. Thankfully though, my travel buddy is just as big a fan as I am so I didn’t feel too silly going around the city asking myself “What Would Princess Mia do?”

The Princess Diaries in San Francisco

Upon doing my research for these Princess Diaries locations, I was a bit disappointed to learn that a lot of the film locations were actually a lot closer to home – in LA of all places! ;) But there are several spots in this glorious Northern Californian city that were good enough to make it into the movie.

Thermopolis Residence

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In the Excelsior District, you will find the firehouse-turned-Thermopolis home at 724 Brazil Avenue. It was actually only half a mile walk away from our AirBnB, but we only made it out there on our last full day in SF. We were just two random girls outside the house in the late afternoon, the neighbors surely get us movie fanatics every now and then. A little history on the house: it was originally a firehouse built in 1911 before becoming a residential property.

Musée Mécanique

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You know the scene where Mia and Queen Clarisse go to the arcade, arm wrestle the muscle man, and take photo booth pictures? You can find those machines at the Musée Mécanique at Fisherman’s Wharf on Pier 45. It is free admission, but costs to play the arcade games.

Anthony R. Grove High School

The infamous high school. Infamous because my friend and I could not find the building. First, we had the wrong address. Then, when we had the correct address, it was at least a 10 block-uphill hike. Asked Maps if there was an alternate route, but it ended up taking us to BFE and away from the actual destination. Keep in mind that we were chasing the sun since we wanted to watch the sunset at the Golden Gate Bridge. Sadly, I have no photo of Grove High School, but don’t let that deter you from finding it yourself. I hear it’s quite the beauty. The address is: 2601 Lyon Street in Marina District.

Rose and Branch

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When the ‘stang and the cable car had their run-in at the intersection of Rose and Branch, it was really the corner of Taylor Street and Broadway. You’ll find this in the north of the city, and you can tell Bernice* all about it. (*movie reference)

As you might have learned through this post, I’m quite the movie nerd, especially when it comes to Disney movies. I can easily quote the Princess Diaries from start to finish; and every time I watch it, I’m filled with so much childhood nostalgia. It’s one of those movies that will never get old to me, and I’m so happy to have scoped out these locations for myself when I was in San Francisco.

Of course, I can’t forget to mention another two childhood shows that are set in San Francisco: Full House and That’s So Raven. You best believe we found those houses as well.

The Full House house

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I read an article just yesterday that the Full House house recently hit the market for $4.15 million!! Have mercy! The previous owners of 1709 Broderick Street definitely didn’t want Full House fans knocking on their door looking for Uncle Jesse because they had their steps gated off and trees right in front. It has also been repainted, which explains why we thought the house next door was the house. It isn’t.

Baxter Residence

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Ending with another Disney Channel classic, here’s the Baxter residence from That’s So Raven. Located at the corner of Ashbury and Page, you’ll find the house that was used for the exterior shots of the Baxter home.

Check out all these places next time you find yourself in San Francisco!



City by the Bay

It has been years since my last trip to San Francisco, so one could say that this visit was long overdue. My friend Diana and I booked our roundtrip flights way back in December, so when the day finally arrived, we were pretty excited to re-explore the City by the Bay.

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We landed at SFO on a Tuesday afternoon with our bulky travel backpacks, an AirBnB reservation, and several days for city ‘sploring. To get us started, we purchased the Muni Passport. Designed for visitors to SF, the passport gets you unlimited rides on Muni, Muni Metro, streetcars and cablecars for 1, 3, or 7 consecutive days. I highly recommend this pass, even if the idea of getting around via public transport is daunting to you. Unfortunately though, the passport does not include the BART, which is the only transport (aside from taxis, Ubers, and rental cars) out of SFO.

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After checking in to our AirBnB, we decided to venture downtown for dinner. We ended up at the top of Macy’s at the Cheesecake Factory. Not our best decision, but when you haven’t eaten all day and aren’t exactly in a 24-hour town, a restaurant chain is your best bet. We did a better job researching the following days.

Day 1

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According to our weather apps, our first full day was also going to be the sunniest day of our trip. With this in mind, we decided to do Twin Peaks, Alamo Square, and the Golden Gate Bridge. One thing we quickly learned, however, was that sun and warmth aren’t synonymous in NorCal. Now I love crisp Autumn-like weather, which SF gave me 100%! I think I just really underestimated the wind chill because it was way more than “a bit nippy.”

Day 2

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Our second day was more of a “foodie” day, which I’ll dedicate another post to. But feeling a lot more comfortable with Muni, we saved many steps and racked up those bus miles. We began our day at Mr. Holmes Bakeshop in Nob Hill, found our way back to Union Square, took the Powell-Hyde cable car to Lombard Street, made it out to Ocean Beach, followed by the mosaic steps on 16th Avenue, then finally back to the Financial District. That’s pretty impressive for two girls who couldn’t even find some bus stops just the day before.

Day 3

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Our final day in SF, which just so happened to be game day! We started off in the Castro district after enjoying breakfast near Dolores Park. We spent a lot of time walking around the neighborhoods around this area before heading back to our AirBnB to freshen up before the ballgame. We were also determined to cram in what we considered must-sees this day, which included some Princess Diaries’ film locations.

To end our time in San Francisco, we went to watch the SF Giants play the Chicago Cubs. The Giants were my first MLB game all those years ago, so it was only right that Diana’s be the Giants too. Sadly, the one game they lost to the Cubs in that series was the game we attended, but it was still fun to be there with my bestie. We had many laughs once the pesky seagulls started arriving for the clean-up shift following the game.

The City by the Bay

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The perfect farewell was seeing the famous sea lions of Pier 39 before jumping on our ferry to Vallejo. Once we got to our second AirBnB, we took the longest nap. San Francisco was tiring and a lot of fun, evidently.



Eating Vegan at Disneyland

Let it be noted that I am not vegan, however I do make an effort to eat a majority plant-based diet. It is a lifestyle change that I have recently become very passionate about, but I can elaborate on that at a future date. I have found that when eating out, there are more vegetarian options than there are vegan. It can get discouraging at times, especially if you’re just getting used to the lifestyle. But rest assured, the world is changing and more plant-based options, in general, are becoming available. One place where this is evident is the Happiest Place on Earth aka Disneyland!!!

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On my most recent trip to Disney, I made it my personal mission to eat all the vegan-friendly nosh I could in a day. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been eating less and less animal products, so most of these foods I’d eat anyways during each visit to Disneyland over this past year. But I did some further research to see what exactly the vegan-friendly options were, and this blogpost is the result.

Garden Vegetable Burger – Village Haus Restaurant in Fantasyland

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Order the veggie burger with no cheese at the Village Haus with a side of fries (or fruit, if you want to be extra good). Disneyland fries are definitely in my top favorites.

NOTE: The patty contains egg whites, so it is vegetarian and unfortunately not vegan. Check out the Carnation Café on Main Street USA for the true vegan burger!

Dole Whip – Tiki Juice Bar in Adventureland

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Oh, the glorious Dole Whip – my go-to sweet treat on a hot day, and colder day for that matter. I always get the pineapple soft-serve and savor every bite before it melts. My sister and I added Tajín to our Dole Whips, and it was the probably the best decision we made that entire day. Find the Tajín packets at the Tropical Import Stand by the Jungle Cruise.

Outback Vegetable Skewer – Bengal Barbecue in Adventureland

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I saw a group of people walking out of Adventureland with quite a colorful BBQ skewer and I was intent on trying one for myself. Ask them to cook yours on tin foil, as they are cooked on the same grill as the meat skewers.

Chili Sin Queso – Cozy Cone Motel in Cars Land

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Order the Chili Cone Queso and ask to omit the cheese for this tasty (and portable) snack. They top it off with corn chips for the perfect crunch.

Olaf Lemonade Strawberry Bar – Ice Cream carts

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This day was particularly warm due to its humidity, so in efforts to cool down, I got this lemonade popsicle with actual frozen strawberries.

Vegetarian Gumbo – Royal Street Veranda in New Orleans Square

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Get the Vegetarian Gumbo served in a Sourdough bread boule when you want something of substance.

Other Vegan Disneyland Options

Vegan mini Mickey Waffles – Plaza Inn in Main Street USA

Vegetarian options without the cheese – Rancho del Zocalo Restaurant in Frontierland

Pickles, fruit cups, hummus – all the snack stands throughout both parks

Vegan Pasta – Carthay Circle Restaurant on Buena Vista Street

Vegetable and Tofu Skewer – Paradise Garden Grill on Paradise Pier

 

Links:

http://disneylandnews.com/fact-sheets/2015/04/30/vegetarian-and-vegan-food-options-at-disneyland-resort-fact-sheet/

http://www.vegancowgirl.com/blog/vegan-cowgirl-does-disneyland

http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Vegan-Foods-Disneyland-37223017



Mother’s Day Mug Cake

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Just in time for Mother’s Day, I have a fun mug cake recipe (can you say TIE-DYE?!) to say “Mum, I appreciate you!” If there’s anything better than cake, it’s the mug cake. It’s a super simple way to eat your favorite desserts, and all you really need is a microwave to cook it.

You will need: a microwave-safe mug, vanilla cake mix, and food coloring. To make this extra special for Mom, I suggest that you add some fresh flowers (but fake flowers will do the trick as well!)

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MUG CAKE INSTRUCTIONS

 

Mix up cake batter according to the package instructions, then separate into three bowls. Dye each with a different shade of food coloring. As you can see, I went with pink, purple and orange.

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Spray the mug with cooking spray and add the batter in three different layers. Make sure your batter only fills the mug halfway or it will overflow in the microwave, and it won’t be pretty. Bake (or in this case – microwave) for just a minute and a half. Let it cool before you decorate.

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Coat the top with some frosting and add flowers. Cut the stems off, and use toothpicks to place the blooms into the mug cake!

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I’m obsessed with those bright colors!

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With the extra cake mix, my sister baked a tie-dye sheet cake, which we decorated accordingly.

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Happy Mother’s Day to all you Moms, Mums, and motherly figures out there! I hope you know how appreciated you are :)



Coachella Style | Two-Piece Set

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Two-Piece set – Princess Polly

Hat – Topshop (similar)

Chelsea boots – Topshop

Sunglasses – Prada

Velvet choker – Pacsun

Coachella Style to me is anything Vanessa Hudgens would wear. I am literally obsessed with the two-piece set I purchased online from Princess Polly, as it screamed Coachella. I bought the Ocean Drive Set several months ago with intentions to wear it to the festival, and I’m so happy I got to actually wear it. I wore this on day 2 of Coachella to see James Bay, Disclosure, Halsey, and Guns N’ Roses.

I have been looking for the perfect two-piece set for a while now, and I think I finally found that with this one.

Coachella Style

Coachella has been something I have dreamed about since I first saw paparazzi pictures of Vanessa Hudgens there back in 2008. Since then, it has grown into something of a huge mainstream beast. I’ve heard so many different people’s take on this incredible growth Coachella has undergone – and there were a lot of positives as well as a lot of negatives.

The overall consensus is that Coachella has become more of a fashion show than a music festival. Coachella style has become a worldwide phenomenon. Walk into any retail store and you will see a section catered specifically to festival season. Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so, as long as you remember to appreciate first and foremost what the Coachella is – a MUSIC festival.

This year’s Coachella style trends included a lot of body suits and cheeky bottoms. Let’s just say, girls aren’t shy this festival season. I also noticed that chokers have replaced flower crowns, and bralettes replacing bras. I have always associated this festival with bohemian style, which I attribute to Coachella Queen Vanessa Hudgens. However, you can easily see the influence that raves like EDC have on this music festival, with lots of skin being shown. Then again, it does get pretty hot in the desert!



8 Tips to Survive Coachella

Because I’m still not over this past weekend, I am continuing my Coachella series with yet another blogpost! To be frank, I’m actually quite surprised I made it out of there in one piece. Obviously, I did something right. And as you may or may not know, this year’s Coachella was my very first, true music festival experience. So, I’d love to share some tips and tricks I discovered during my weekend there. Here are 8 Tips to Survive Coachella from a first-time festival goer!

1. Stay Hydrated

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One of my major tips to survive Coachella is to drink water! Whether you’re in the sun, dancing at your faves’ sets, frolicking around the grounds (or all of the above), it’s so incredibly important to stay hydrated. The California desert does not play, and if you start feeling light-headed or ill, you’re probably in need of some liquids. And for those of you who love an adult beverage or two, make sure you’re matching it with good ol’ water as alcohol is extremely dehydrating. Pro-tip: bring a reusable bottle to refill at water stations throughout the grounds or even consider investing in a CamelBak!

Watermelon is also a great way to keep hydrated. Just make sure you have wet wipes because it will get sticky!

2. Slather on the Sunscreen

Keep your skin safe by applying sunscreen at the beginning of the day, and throughout as well. Sunburns are a big killjoy, and most likely will not go with your second and third day outfits. I like the Neutrogena sunscreen stick because it is easy to use and extremely portable.

3. Pack Light & Right

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When packing your day bag, it’s important to remember that you’re going to be carrying everything the whole time. So, make sure you have the essentials. In order to survive Coachella, you NEED sunglasses, a reusable water bottle, wet-wipes, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, and bandaids. I brought a paper fan and hat, too. It’s also not a bad idea to bring a bandana or scarf for when those infamous dust storms hit. The last thing you want to be doing is inhaling a bunch of dirt, ew.

4. Bring a Portable Phone Charger

Not that you should be on your phone too much anyways, you’re at a festival after all! We’re all pretty guilty of forgetting to be in the moment! That being said, having a charged phone is a good idea when you’re needing to meet up with your friends or updating your Snapchat story. Carry around a small charger or at least your USB cord – there’s plenty of charging stations at Coachella! Another pro-tip: turn your phone on airplane mode when you need it to charge extra fast.

5. Eat for Energy

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No one likes a grumpy Gus and being hangry is an actual thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten snappy just because I was needing to eat. Pack some granola bars, but don’t get stingy when it comes to food. I’m the type to rather spend money on food than material goods. After all, that souvenir isn’t what’s going to keep you dancing until dark.

6. Choose Your Crew

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I can’t stress enough the importance of good company. It’s understandable that not everyone in your party will have the same tastes in music, but when you are all open-minded and willing to check out new artists, it can be magical. Alyzza (pictured) and I dragged the other two to see Halsey, and little did they know that she’d bring out the one and only Brendon Urie! Diana was on the verge of tears. One of the best memories from Coachella is seeing Diana’s reaction to Brendon and Halsey singing Panic! at the Disco.

7. Plan Your Schedule Wisely

There is bound to be overlap when so many great artists are playing at Coachella. If you plan beforehand who you want to see, it will save a lot of walking between stages. Just make sure you allow yourself some time to get a good spot!

8. Have Fun!

It goes without saying that anything can happen at Coachella. Follow these tips to survive Coachella and you’ll be fine! It’s great to be prepared so you can anticipate anything that tries to ruin the good vibes of the festival. Coachella is an amazing opportunity to listen to great music, meet people from around the world, and dance your heart out. You’ve spent all this money, you better enjoy yourself. Just be smart about it!

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Happy Festival Season, everyone!