Still Living

Even though I don't post everyday, I always take pictures of what I'm doing. This is my first photo dump of random things I've documented during January and some of February, which I'm dubbing Still Living. Get it? Like still life photography?

Enjoy, friends.

Our church changed it's service times, which means Brandon and I have to be in Fairfield at 8am every Sunday for him to practice with the band. I've made a nice routine out of it. I drop him off and then hang out at the Starbucks nearby for about an hour before I have to head in to help with the babies. It's given me a chance to slow down, reflect, read, or write. It's nice to have a forced alone time.

One random Friday we decided to branch out and try a new restaurant. We landed at Bistro 33, the classy restaurant attached to City Hall tavern in downtown Davis. The prices were less expensive than expected and the food was fabulous. I ordered the kobe beef sliders and loved them. I think Barbara ordered a spicy marinara pasta and Brandon ordered the French dip sandwich. We were all satisfied with our food and really dug the housemade potato chips.

Brandon and I went to our first San Jose Sharks game in years. We got to hang out with Nick and Seth and snack on pretzels and hot dogs. We were seated next to some Maple Leaf fans who kept trying to start chants. My favorite part (besides the fact the Sharks picked up) was how Nick would instantly start his own Sharks chant and we'd all join in and drown out the Maple Leaf guys -- whose face paint, by the way, looked more teal than blue. Sometimes it's all about those moments of blind loyalty.

What an artsy photo of...bananas? Yes. I'm including it because I love Rainforest Alliance and the cool work they do. And I saw their Follow the Frog sticker on some bananas last month so I picked those over another brand. Plus these bananas were less expensive than the other ones! Being a conscious consumer doesn't need to be difficult.

I had a good makeup and hair day and I showed it off to my friends with a cliche car selfie complete with  a gratuitous limp hand.

I worked late one night to help host the employee 5 and 10 year anniversary reception. It was a great example of the perks of working for a resort. I rode in the golf cart enjoying the views of the property, got to sip on champagne and eat haute cuisine tater tots I could never afford on my own. I had a great time and I think the honored employees did too.

I was really proud of my dinner resourcefulness. We made eggs with turkey and I threw in some zucchini for color and veggies. It was delicious and easy. Does this count as clean eating or paleo or something? I don't know. All I know is I'd like some more. 

I'd bet that the majority of girls not only have group texts with their girl friends, but use it as a way to share their outfits every day. I know I have two group texts where it's normal for us to selfie each other or send our OOTD's. I was particularly happy with this outfit, plus I pulled out my old black oxfords from college. They're totally plastic and not super comfortable, but they look good.

One of my coworkers suggested I put strawberries and blueberries in my water instead of lemon. It was a total game changer. I've been trying to up my water intake because I'm pretty sure I'm perpetually dehydrated. I even use an app to track how much water I've had each day. This was the first day I reached my goal.

Brandon had a Friday night gig with his band which left me on my own for the night. Luckily, I headed straight to Barbara's apartment where we whipped up some stir fry. We added extra broccoli since she and I really like it and paired it with some brown rice. Seriously, I don't know how it ended up so healthy. We usually struggle to make healthy food.

After spending an afternoon downtown, Brandon and I decided we wanted to have some Japanese food for dinner. The trouble was the place we originally picked was busy. So busy that there were three couples all waiting just to put their name down. We waited about five minutes before I suggested a less fancy option closer to our apartment. The food there is good, the prices are reasonable, and how pretty is the food?! I ate all of it.

These cupcakes were from my cousin Lily's bridal shower! I had an awesome time playing games and eating good food, even if one of the games entailed passing a wooden spoon using only knees. It was hilarious. The I Love Lucy theme was so perfect for Lily. My highlight was getting to chat with my cousins, especially since we don't get to see each other too often anymore. Oh, and these cupcakes. Strawberry and whipped cream goodness.

I have no explanation for this photo. I was done with my solo Starbucks date, saw a stump, got on top of it, and took a photo. Tadaaa!

Brandon got sick pretty much on his birthday, so I made some comforting chicken noodle soup for us one night. It fed us for almost a week! Soup seems like the only thing I can eat leftovers of over and over again. Maybe because once you warm it up, it still feels like you've just made it?

I asked for flowers for Valentine's Day. Brandon delivered. They're beautiful and they smell lovely. He even went as far as buying me socks with hearts on them and chocolate covered espresso beans! Once I kick this cough I'll be all over those.

We spent the gorgeous Sunday afternoon at Davis' Central Park. There was a craft fair happening (not sure if it's a weekly thing) and a live jazz band playing. We took a seat in the wicker chairs of the Comfort Cafe where I read my book while Brandon soaked in the music. It was a relaxing way to enjoy the gorgeous weather together!

This is from this morning. I woke up with a gnarly cough yesterday and a worse sore throat this morning. I've been miraculously enjoying the taste of my echinacea tea with a lemon slice, a bit of honey, and maple syrup to hide the honey taste. I don't know if you're supposed to put maple syrup in your tea, but it's the only way I like it. 

See you guys soon! Hopefully not this sick.
♥ A



One of my professors from study abroad, we just called him Milton, once mentioned this awesome place called Sarchi. He told me of a place where traditionally painted ox carts packed the roads and where you could really experience traditional Costa Rican coffee culture.

His description of this place sounded like something Disneyland would want to replicate and something I needed to see. 

But I didn't. I totally missed it when I was living in San Jose. 

So with day trips becoming plan A for the last part of our trip, I convinced Andrea that this would be a good idea. 

I'm gonna burst everyone's excited bubble quickly: Sarchi was not that exciting. Did I see a few cool ox carts? Yes. But is Sarchi really a destination worthy of a full day? I'd say no. 

I foolishly expected something straight out of Disneyland and was unimpressed when I didn't get it.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, as usual. Our previous attempt to visit Volcan Poas being unsuccessful, we decided to try again before driving out to Sarchi. This time, we started our trip up the mountain much earlier since I'd read that the morning tends to yield the best chance of a view.

There were a few clouds in the sky, but nothing too daunting. Of course, until we reached the gate. The sun and fluffy white puffs gave way to cold, overcast, misty skies. The same gentleman from the day before warned us that the volcano wasn't visible, so he didn't recommend we use our money to see nothing. By this point, we were already determined to make the hike out to the crater viewing point, so we paid our foreigner entrance fees (even though he totally thought we were nationals) and entered the park.

The hike looked like something out of Into the Woods or Sleeping Beauty. I felt like I was going to encounter an evil dragon around one of the bends, but we only passed up a woman prancing through the mist in high heeled sneakers.

The concerned park ranger was right. The volcano's iconic crater was nowhere to been seen. The fog was thick and revealed nothing. Regardless, we snapped a tourist photo before heading off on our way to Sarchi.

After driving through many more residential streets than I'd mentally prepared myself for, we finally found ourselves near the town square. True to my professor Milton's lore, in the center of the plaza, right in front of the church, was the world's largest ox cart. We walked around it and mildly judged a dozen or so tourist teenagers who were posing for an instagram photo.

The cart is fenced in so you can't really go up to it and see the insane hand painted details, which is a bit of a bummer. So we wandered around the plaza and stared at the church's pretty intricacies. Andrea picked up some pansito (just a cutesy way of saying bread in Spanish) from a bakery across the street for us to enjoy after lunch.

We made a joke that when lost (in Costa Rica), always orient yourself by where the church is.

We'd passed by a big souvenir market on our way into the center of town. It seemed like the best place to ask where we could get a piece of the Sarchi experience. I ended up just asking where I could find some decent food since it was nearing lunch time and we were getting hungry. It turned out that there was a restaurant right behind the souvenir shop called Restaurante La Finca. I drove down a steep hill and parked in a patch of grass near a butterfly garden that we had no intention of visiting, even if we did have time to kill (see previous butterfly-induced fright here). We walked up, and even though we were the only patrons in the middle of the day, we sat down because there was free wifi. Luckily, the food was delectable, the portions were large, and the strawberry lemonade was yummy.

We scarfed our food until we couldn't scarf anymore.

Growing up, my parents routinely, almost obsessively, had coffee after every meal. In fact, the eating time isn't over until everyone who drinks coffee has a mug of it in their hand. They do this to this day. Whenever Brandon and I have lunch or dinner at my parents' house, I'm guaranteed to be offered coffee within five minutes of finishing the food on my plate.

La Finca was no different. Our server came by and offered me some coffee, which I happily accepted. He disappeared for a moment and returned with an old school pour over system. You know, the kind that use cloth as a filter instead of paper? It was so cool...I'm totally kicking myself six months later for not taking a picture of it. But geez if that coffee wasn't delicious. I sat there, sipped my coffee, and soaked in the moment with my sister.

On our way back to the main highway, I made an impulse decision to stop at a furniture store with an ornate front. It ended up paying off because we got to see some real life antique ox cart wheels!

We also got to witness an artisan hand paint a tray.

I asked for his name before we left and I told myself to remember it, but I wouldn't be able to tell you what letter his name started with. I don't actually think we were supposed to be walking around watching them, but no one said anything to us, so we watched intently as this interesting mute man gestured to me as if he was teaching me how to paint traditional designs.

In a nutshell, if you want to experience coffee culture, take a tour of a plantation. But if you do find yourself in Sarchi, visit Restaurante La Finca, you won't be disappointed.