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Colorado Chillin’

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Posted by Lauren

Facts:

1. Right now I’m flipping the channel between Bachelor in Paradise and the Emmys (equal levels of classy, yes?).
2. I finished a 5 mile run after work. I really should do that more often!!! Ahhhh it felt SO good.
3. My phone has NO SPACE left, so naturally I’ve got to move all my photos to my computer…..
4. ….which means now I can blog about things. (Do other people seriously import photos daily for their blogs?!)

Last weekend I jetted over to Colorado with Kyle. We were long overdue for a visit to his family!

We arrived late Friday night and grabbed dinner in Golden, CO at Woody’s with Kyle’s parents who kindly picked us up from the airport!

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In some ways, this family owned pizza joint reminded me of Woodstock’s in SLO. (Maybe it was the name connection?!) They had complimentary popcorn, a great beer selection, and really friendly service. Kyle and I split the California pizza (sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, feta, mozzarella, spinach, garlic) and a burger with mushrooms + fresh jalapeños. I was so hungry and Woody’s hit the spot.

Saturday morning we hung out around Kyle’s parents’ house and then ventured over to Red Rocks for a walk. One day we’ll plan a trip that includes watching someone perform at the amphitheater. Definitely a Colorado bucket list item.

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Sooooooo pretty. We drove to the downtown area of Morrison and scoped out a few potential dinner spots for the following night. The cute little “downtown” area is flanked by Bear Creek, with a few streams (like the one below) lining the side streets.

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On our way back to Evergreen, we stopped for a farmer’s market palisade peach (it was raining at this point!) and picked up an ice cream cake for that evening. We got back to Kyle’s parents’ house early afternoon and spent the time leading up to dinner playing with Graham and Lena, Kyle’s nephew and niece. Graham is a riot — he showed me all the special cactuses, checked out the treehouse with me, and then we looked at lots and lots and lots of ants. HAHA

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I want a treehouse. And I want Pete Nelson to make it.

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Lena is about 6 months old and just so beautiful. It was great to finally meet her and yes, we had a “whose cheeks are bigger” contest. I lost miserably. She looks adorable in her new purple beanie!

We finished the night with a tasty ice cream cake (choc cake + cookies and cream ice cream) and then, once Kyle’s sisters and BIL went home, we sat outside near the fire pit with his parents. It was then that I learned we’d need to wake up at 5 am for our hike the following morning. WHA! 5 am on a Sunday?

Alright alright alright, 5 am for a 14er is doable. :)

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After a quick all-terrain drive to the trail head, we set off for the 14,278 foot pinnacle of Gray’s Peak. Elevation and me aren’t that good of friends, but if you put one foot in front of the other enough times you’ll gradually make it to the top :)

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View from the halfway point ^^^

“Extensive views stretch south to Pike’s Peak and the San Luis Valley, east to the Great Plains, West to Silverthorne, and north to Longs Peak and Rocky Mountain National Park” (thanks Wikipedia)

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Views from the top ^^^

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What you can’t tell from this picture is that the winds were howling at 40 mph or so. Freezing! At least it wasn’t as windy as the first 14er we did (Bierstadt), last October. Instead of eating brunch at the top, we snapped a few photos and then walked down the mountain for wind cover.

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Turns out, walking down at 14k feet is a whole lot easier than walking up. The 7-mile roundtrip hike took us about 4 hours including stops to gasp for air. We ate our PB&J sandwiches in the car and headed back to Evergreen a little earlier than planned thanks to our speedy descent.

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We also decided to make 14er-climbing a tradition.There are 53 in Colorado so…. only 51 more trips to the Rocky Mountain Empire!

I had to quickly draft a fantasy football team at noon (btw I’m really pleased with my selections!) and then we were off to grab drinks/food in Morrison.

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Wine flight @ Flights = best place ever for wine lovers. Plus, their charcuterie plate had some clever meat and cheese combinations going on.

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Dinner was at the latin bistro, Beso de Arte (just a few doors down)

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We split the crab empanadas (note: their tapas are actually not tapas – they’re big apps!)

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For my main, I opted for the prosciutto-wrapped scallops, with fresh arugula, grilled watermelon, and a quinoa pilaf.

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I really enjoyed this dish and it satisfied the salty cravings following our high-elevation hike. The prosciutto + scallop combo reminded me of the flub on Food Network Star where a contestant claimed she used serrano ham but was fooling everyone with prosciutto.

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Don’t ever try to fool Alton Brown. Giada might fall for it though.

Anyways, we had a great time hanging out with Kyle’s family, especially getting more time with Graham and Lena. Already looking forward to the next trip out there!

-Lauren

Paddleboarding, Donuts, and BFFs

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Posted by Lauren

Speaking of best friend trips in southern California……..

One month ago, Krizia and I drove down to LA to spend time with some of our favorite people. We left Friday after work and made it to Pasadena in time for late night food/drinks with Clay and Andrew. We started at Congregation Ale House (Yelp) – nice beer selection and sweet potato fries… then we went to Pasadena’s eclectic 3-floor billiards/restaurant/karaoke spot, Barney’s Beanery (Yelp).

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Nicole, do you think our official blog song can be Def Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar On Me?! Just think about it… :)

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Clay insisted that we try downtown Pasadena’s late night staple before heading home… King Taco (Yelp). You can’t go wrong with $1.30 street tacos!

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Krizia and I woke up early, excited for a full day with our other two college roommates, Fran and Kerry. With two boxes of Bob’s Donuts (as in San Francisco’s Bob Donuts) in tow, we arrived at Fran’s house for a phenomenal potluck breakfast of sorts…

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Kerry brought bacon breakfast burritos (ooh alliteration!) and Fran made a huge pot of coffee… We chowed down and made plans for the rest of the day – stand up paddleboarding in Newport Beach!

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Our two-hour paddleboard rentals gave us just enough time to cruise through Newport Bay and the Balboa Coves neighborhood. It was so fun!!!! Only one of us fell in, any guesses?

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After returning our boards, we walked over to the ocean-side of Newport and laid out on the beach until our skin felt just a little tooooo hot. Only one of us got a sunburn, any guesses? Hint: it was also the girl who fell in :)

Fran had the best idea for our next stop – Costa Mesa’s “Camp” green gathering spot. While Krish and Kerry ordered food from Native Foods (Yelp) (why don’t these exist in the Bay Area!?!?), Fran and I walked over to Milk + Honey (Yelp), a super cool coffee/tea shop with  shaved ice specialty drinks. A blended chai sounded amazing on the hot day, t’was love at first sip!

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Plus, their little garden courtyard (above) was awesome. Super SoCal. We also grabbed cookies from the Blackmarket Bakery (Yelp) and sat outside to share. Dang, those were good too.

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When we got back to Fran’s house, we were greeted by Wes! He spent the rest of the night hanging out with the four of us and it was great to catch up with him.

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For dinner, we picked up supplies from a local grocery store and Fran magically made us miso soup and humongous rice/seaweed/salmon sashimi bowls. Want to watch her creation come together in 15 seconds? Watch this on Instie.

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We ended the night chatting over a bottle of wine and a few donuts. Couldn’t have asked for a better day with these amazing ladies. Can’t wait til next time! #mo8forever

-Lauren

Dinner with Nicole, Bachelorette finale, and SF party

Posted by Lauren

I’ve been packing my weekDAYS full of fun stuff lately (which is awesome) but at the same time I’m really looking forward to some nights at home in front of the TV and catching up on extra work this week. Right now I very much feel energized for all the work projects I have on my plate, I wake up excited to start them and go to bed click clackin away on my computer.

A few weeks ago I dusted off my bicycle and pumped the tires up so I could start riding my bike to work at least once a week. So far so good!

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Last Monday was the much anticipated finale of the Bachelorette. Lucky for Sarah and me, Cindy invited us over for dinner to view the “shocking” final rose ceremony. Want to know what wasn’t shocking? How amazing our taco fiesta was! We assembled steak and fish tacos with Corona’s on the side. :)

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And that guacamole! Mmmm.

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While Creepy Nick said his goodbyes to Andi and whatshisface said “marry me” to her, we focused on something else sweet – Cin’s peach pie. Oh lawdy….. she outdid herself with this pie and FRESH whipped cream.

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Overall I was pretty pleased with Andi’s selection and I’m looking forward to stalking them on Instagram (yes, I follow Sean, Catherine, Des, and a few others – help me)

Last Wednesday night was sister date night. I met Nicole at the Town & Country shopping center in Palo Alto (same place I’ve been doing bar 3-4x / week) and we listened to the live music for a few minutes (not exaggerating). We quickly went inside to Calafia Cafe (Website) for some vegetarian friendly food.

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(Thanks for the better pic Nicole!)

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We split 1. Crimson Quinoa Salad (VG) (GF) – beet-infused golden quinoa with red currants, lemon zest, parsley, shaved roasted beets, wild arugula, basil-citrus vinaigrette and 2. Goat Cheese, Beet & California Walnut Pizza shaved roasted beets, goat cheese, garlic, topped with wild arugula salad and basil-citrus vinaigrette.

I must really like this girl because beets aren’t really my thing. Turns out, Calafia makes decent beet dishes.

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After dinner we walked around the Stanford track a few times and then wandered into campus to take pictures. Nicole really goes for it when she sees the right angle… exhibit A:

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She spent the night at Kyle/my place and we even walked over to Yogurtland for the true SCS experience. I’m loving that her new job is further north! Now I just need to convince her to be my neighbor. hmmm

And last Thursday night was also a fun one! Our company co-hosted an end of quarter celebration party for Salesforce along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. We had live music, tasty appetizers, and tons of happy AEs to congratulate on a job well done.

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Check out that Ferry Building, ooh baby what a sight.

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And then, you know, I had to pack and get ready for the epic Po5 weekend I already wrote about. Look at me, being all bloggy and stuff. :)

Will someone please force me to go run tomorrow?

-Lauren

Party of 5 LA Reunion

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Posted by Lauren

No, I’m not talking about Scott Wolf and Lacey Chabert reuniting with Neve Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt… I’m talking about my high school besties (affectionately self-dubbed Party of 5), and our reunion in LA this weekend. It’s hard to believe that we haven’t ALL been together since Vanessa’s 21st in LA fiiiive years ago.

Katie, Vanessa, Natalie, Sarah and I became best friends while on our high school dance team – we span three grade levels and have pretty much experienced our best and most embarrassing moments together. The hidden facebook photos are there to prove it ;)

Our busy lives, changing careers, and constant travel plans have made it hard to get everyone together at the same time, so when we were at Katie’s bachelorette party in May, we were like – this. needs. to. happen. now. So we threw around a few potential dates and luckily everyone could make it to LA this past weekend (shout out to Katie for flying in after a Friday wedding she was in and Sarah for flying in after an intense NFL cheerleader dance practice)

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(po5 get-togethers require candy, specifically sour patch kids and raisinettes)

Saturday

Our day started off with breakfast at Nat’s house with Vanessa. Nat’s quite the hostess (just like her momma) and prepped yogurt, smoothies, almond butter toast, and espresso drinks for us! The three of us drove towards the beach, hiked down some stairs and enjoyed the crashing waves for approx 30 mins before hiking back to the car…

We drove to LAX and waited for Katie to arrive… [and went to Carl’s Jr because we were bored/hungry/they have sweet potato fries now?/the cinnamon pull-apart ads worked on us]. Once we picked Katie up, we went to grab lunch from Mendocino Farms (Yelp) in Marina Del Rey. My “A Sandwich Study of Heat” was awesome — fresh local farm turkey, smoked gouda, smashed avocado, chili aioli, jalapeno relish, tomato, romaine lettuce, and fresh jalapenos. mmmmmm

Food in tow, we went back to LAX and grabbed Sarah, at that point the party officially began! We ate lunch back at Nat’s house, sipped on some white wine, and eventually got ready for dinner :)

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Katie – Vanessa – me – Natalie – Sarah

Dinner at Pearl’s Liquor Bar in West Hollywood (Yelp) was a great choice by LA resident Natalie. We sat upstairs and enjoyed the foggy, perfect temp weather.

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Drinks… each of us ordered something different and then we passed everything around so we could try them all. I love it when this happens. This is how I am continuously reminded that whiskey is not my thing [yet]. I think my Villa Nova was the best of the bunch — gin, pavan, cucumber, lemon, egg whites, lemon-mint wheel.

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Food… we decided to order a few plates and share. Our picks included the chicken meatballs (seriously, who doesn’t like meatballs?), the truffled mushroom flatbread, the crispy broccolini (my fave), and the burrata + candied oranges. After surfing through 100s of hidden facebook photos and laughing at our younger selves, we ordered the smoked pepperoni flatbread. Memory lane makes you hungry :)

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A quick uber (or two) down Sunset led us to our next drink stop, at the Mondrian hotel’s Sky Bar (Yelp). We strategically arrived before 9 to avoid the hollywood doormen. The place was near empty, so we were able to snap beautiful pics like this one….

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Ooh la la!

We headed to the bar and forked over $13 each for a drink. You pay for the ambiance, my friends.

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Then, we participated in our favorite pastime (no, not dancing)… photo taking! If you want to see our selfies, you can go look at my Instagram :)

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It hasn’t rained in LA in a loooooong time, so of course it rains the one night we are there at an outside bar :) California needs the rain badly (esp. because those Bruins wasted 10 million gallons or something like that). We waltzed out of Sky Bar and continued down the street, ending our night at The Den (Yelp). We all had a great time there mingling with strangers under fake names (mine was Tom lol). Our Uber XL driver was awesome (and also named Tom) because he laughed at all of our jokes. Back at Nat’s, we ate some mac n’ cheese and then hit the hay.

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Sunday

We let Nat’s younger brother Mark pick our brunch spot. He made an eggselent choice with Santa Monica’s trendy Brick + Mortar (Yelp). Half the table ordered the $15 unlimited mimosas, but the real draw seemed to be the extensive Bloody Mary bar — it even had yogurt covered pretzels as a topping option! What the.

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While listening to the most amazing playlist, we guzzled down coffee and tasty breakfast plates. I went with the eggs benedict with bacon, while a few others chose the popular pretzel-croissant bfast sandwiches. It was all good, so if you’re looking for a recommendation, this places gets an A from me. Or an A+ if people watching is one of your hobbies.

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Aww, ladies who brunch :)

So then, we drove back to Natalie’s and asked Mark to take this photo of us. We were trying to recreate the photo just below it (which Nicole took!) Yay for siblings who also agree to be photographers!

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August, 2014

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August, 2006 – the night we dressed up crazy and went to In n Out just for funsies.

Nat’s boyfriend Ethan joined us and we all walked down Wilshire to Cabo Cantina for a few drinks, rounds of Heads Up, and a huge plate of nachos. Andrew stopped by and we convinced him to become a professional artist. Suddenly it was BOGO time and extra beers were magically showing up at our table. This was also about the time when we had to head back to Nat’s apartment to pack up :( Poor timing.

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I think I speak for everyone when I say that our time together was too short. I love these girls more than they know it and I’m so happy (HASHTAG blessed) to have them in my life. I wouldn’t be the girl I am today without them (my awkward stage would have lasted approx 2.5 years longer).

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LUCKILY, we have Katie’s wedding coming up in October that will bring us back together in the wonderful city of Portland!!! We’re planning to share a giant airbnb for an epic sleepover.

Can’t wait!

-Lauren

p.s. yes I blogged about this because Katie asked me “so, are you still blogging or what!?” — thanks for the nudge!
p.p.s. Katie has an awesome blog about happy hours, cocktails, and stuff to do in the Pacific Northwest. It’s hilarious and you should read it!