Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla

A few weeks ago, I went on vacation to San Diego, California.  The sun was shining and the weather was warm; I couldn’t ask for anything more.  I was excited to spend time outside and relax.  We stayed at The Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla.  It was perfect and completed our stay!  We learned that it is the seaside town’s oldest original hotel, built in 1913. You would never know it was over 100 years old though, as it’s been renovated and looks very new.

The rooms were nice; they were clean and spacious with plenty of storage space. The hotel had a quaint living room area complete with a fireplace.  The valet parking was clutch.  We didn’t take the car out too much as we spent most of our days walking around outside.  We had an ocean view room.  Waking up to see the ocean is amazing.  (Especially coming from this midwest girl!)  What’s even more amazing, though, is that the Grande Colonial is literally a two minute walk from the beach!  The location was, by far and away, the very best part.  Not only was it a skip, hop, and a jump away from the beach, but it’s located right in the heart of La Jolla.  We were able to walk to lunch and dinner, explore the town, do some shopping, and soak up plenty of sunshine!

If you’re familiar at all with La Jolla, then you probably know about the seals.  It was fun to watch these blubbery animals.  We were able to get pretty close to them and get a good look.  At first, I did not think they were the most attractive animals.  I mean, they are large blobs who don’t move too well on land.  But after watching them, I decided they actually are pretty cute.  Their faces sort of resemble dogs as they both have whiskers.  It was comical to watch the seals “walk” to and from the water.  In the water, they were much more graceful than out of the water.  And there were a couple baby seals who were just adorable!

While there is a lot to do in California, what I was looking forward to most was simply being outside in the sun and walking around.  You know me and you know how much I love walking.  Actually, the Grande Colonial has a partnership with La Jolla Sports Club where you receive a complimentary guest pass.  I wanted to check it out for a workout, but we spent the majority of our time on our feet walking around.  Exercise definitely wasn’t lacking in the fresh air!

linking up with healthy diva today

During my short stay, I was able to see firsthand how majestic the sunsets are.  It’s one thing to see photographs, but it’s extra amazing to witness the sunset and literally watch the sun go down.

There’s something very calming about listening to the ocean, too.  In a world that too oftentimes feels rushed, chaotic, and out of control, standing by the vast water, looking into the sunset, and focusing on just being at that present moment is a very surreal thing.  We all need more moments of peace like this in our lives; I know I do.

Have you ever visited San Diego?

Itz WIAW San Diego Style: Part 2

Stop shakin’ in your boots already!  Here is what you’ve been waiting for!  Itz WIAW San Diego Style: Part 2.  (In case you missed Part 1, go ahead and drool here.)  Per usual, a big shout out goes to Jenn for hosting this tasty party.  If you are ever stuck for meal ideas, you should definitely check out all of the WIAW posts!  And now… the rest of our San Diego eats!

We rented a condo, so we had access to a full kitchen which was incredibly helpful in saving a few bucks as we cooked breakfast at home everyday.  Featured above was scrambled egg whites (made with 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites + a dash of almond milk for fluffiness = grayish colored eggs), a whole wheat English muffin topped with peanut butter, and surrounded by a pink lady orange!  Protein, fat, carb.  Check, check, check!

Before the awesome Farmer’s Insurance Open, we stopped at Girard Gourmet Café in La Jolla for some lunch.  I ordered the roasted beet salad which was delicious.

My eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach because I feared that the salad would not satisfy me, so I also ordered the eggplant stuffed with spinach and cheese.  It was good, but the salad was enough and the cheesy eggplant was a bit heavy for such a warm day.

As a snack, I had a famous acai bowl.  Acai is a superfruit packed with tons of nutrients.  Plus, the bowl is topped with granola and a buttload of fruit which is awesomesauce.

Ocean-side coffee gives Boardwalk coffee a run for its money!  But I do prefer walking along the boardwalk rather than ordering at a restaurant.  Either way, the sites are beautiful!

Because I already showed you another one of our dinners in my Chef Boy Not Boyardee post, I am going to show you yet another fabulous lunch.

The day that we had to leave, we had a couple of hours to kill between checking-out of the condo and checking-in at the airport.  Justin recommended World Famous because of its patio seating and an ocean view.

I ordered the Breakfast Burrito; I am a huge burrito fan!  However, I asked the waitress to make several changes.  I subbed turkey for ham, broccoli for potatoes, and asked for the sour cream to be on the side.  See?  Healthy eating can be done while ordering out!  (Nixing the cheese would have been an even healthier option, but hey… I was on vacation!)  The burrito was humongous and equally delicious as it was large!

When Justin was driving us back to the airport, he said, “You guys sure ate well while you were here.”  Well, ain’t that the truth! 

Do you tend to eat out a lot while on vacation or do you cook your own meals where you are staying?

Chef Boy Not Boyardee

Are you sick and tired of reading 8 straight posts from my recent San Diego Anniversary vacation?  If so… sorry I’m not sorry!  There is just so much good stuff to share and I’d like to tell you this will be my last San Diego post, but it won’t.  I already have a post scheduled for next Wednesday to wrap up Itz WIAW San Diego Style!

Ever since I can remember, our family nickname for Justin was “Boy.”  I’m not sure where it came from or how it began.  It could have something to do with the fact that he is the youngest of the four of us, or that my parents occasionally had trouble spitting out our correct name.  Stephanie!  I mean Lindsay!  Jason.  Justin.  Samson.  Wait, who are you?  [Samson was our family dog growing up.]  Regardless, it stuck throughout Justin’s college years and now he insists we lose it.  At least in public.  I’m not allowed to address him on Facebook as “Boy.”  He never said anything about the blog though…! 🙂

The Family in 1993 – look at the little man!

Boy is the type of boy (ha) that is a hit with everyone.  Especially my mom, my sister, and me.  When he comes in town, he brings an entire laundry basket and you better believe my momma has those clothes washed, folded, and ironed within 24 hours!  Also, whenever he would come home from college the house was fully stocked with his favorite food.  The rest of us never got that treatment.  (We were so deprived, I tell ya!)  It must be that he is the baby of the family because this is how it has been forever.  My curfew was midnight; Justin’s was…. whenever he felt like it.  I got in trouble for cursing; …it was funny when Justin did it.  My room was a disaster and I got yelled at for it; Justin’s room miraculously got cleaned when he wasn’t even there.  Exaggeration?  Nah.  Just my momma’s favorite.  And I’m only ok with it because I’m my dad’s. True story.

Justin & Dana by Stephanie Cotta Photography

Anyway, now that Boy is all grown up (and a mere 18 months younger than me), my sister and I still oooh and aaah over everything he does.  That picture above is of Justin and his girlfriend, Dana.  Is that not seriously the best picture ever?  Our last night in San Diego, he invited us over for dinner when he was cooking ribs.  We were in for a treat!  I had no idea he could cook like that!  I was very impressed.

When we went over to Justin and Dana’s condo, Justin had already begun the process.  He had his hand-mixer going to prepare his twice baked potatoes.  And somehow I think that is so cute of him… his little hand-mixer and his little green bowl!  Haha.  Check out the feast:

Twice Baked Potatoes
 
Halibut

And now the masterpiece:

Ribs

I’m easy to please, but even Jonny was impressed with the ribs!  Boy’s secret?  He boils the ribs first, then puts them on the grill!  The meat literally fell off the bone and left us all licking our fingers!  Also [not pictured] was roasted vegetables and a salad.

Julian & Astrid

We got to meet and dine with Dana’s older brother and sister-in-law, Julian and Astrid.  Astrid has the cutest blog ever, My Daily Doodle.  She is incredibly talented and I think one of her “doodles” would make an awesome gift.  You can customize and order the individual doodles, so it’s a very fun and different idea to give as a personalized present!

Rib Faces

All in all, Chef Boy [not Boyardee!] impressed me once again with just another one of his bazillion talents!  I know I’ve said it before, but Jonny and I had the best time with Justin and Dana in San Diego and we are anxiously awaiting their next trip to St. Louis or ours back to Cali… whichever comes first!  That pretty much wraps up our San Diego trip.  For now anyway… 🙂

Dana & Justin at the Farmer’s Insurance Open

What is your specialty item in the kitchen?  Boy’s is ribs, but he is pretty much a grill master!

Itz WIAW San Diego Style: Part 1

Since Jonny and I enjoyed SO MUCH good food in San Diego, I decided to save it all up to show you in two different WIAW posts!  (You’ll have to wait until next Wednesday for the rest.  Try not to let the suspense kill you!)  For now, you can head over to Peas and Crayons and click around for more tasty eats and meal ideas.

Mr. & Mrs. Boardwalk Coffees

We began our days with Boardwalk Coffee.  And what’s better than Boardwalk Coffee?  Ocean Oats!  I made oats on the stove top (which is rare since I’m usually pressed for time in the morning) with vanilla almond milk and mixed-in bananas and peanut butter.  I always forget how different oats are when you cook them over the stove!  Thick, creamy, and delicious made all the better with an ocean view!

On Friday, our first full day in California, my brother left work early to meet us for lunch.  He took us to Pacific Beach Ale House and we sat on the rooftop.  In January.  It was awesome.

We were all ravenous, so we began with a Spinach and Artichoke Dip appetizer that definitely didn’t disappoint.  We cleaned the bowl.  And asked for more chips!

I have to be honest here.  I had a dumb blonde moment.  I read on the menu: Blue Cheese, Mushroom, and Onion Burger.  I thought this sounded delicious and then our waitress asked how I wanted my burger cooked.  Woops.  And I thought this was a vegetarian burger.  Oh well, I had some cow, too.  The sweet potato fries were a nice treat.  This meal kept me stuffed until dinnertime.  Moo!

For dinner one night, Justin, Dana, Jonny and I went to Enoteca Adriano, a cute little Italian wine bar.  After we ordered a bottle of cab, the waiter talked us in to starting with an order of Burrata.  Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese, made from mozzarella and cream, and used as a spread.  They served theirs with Italian bread wrapped in prosciutto over a bed of tomatoes.  The burrata was topped with a fig.  It was unbelievable!

Jonny and I split a Spinaci Salad that entailed: fresh spinach, strawberry, gorgonzola, candied pecans, and a balsamic EVOO drizzle.

I chose the Pasta e Fagioli: a Tuscan white bean soup with pasta, carrots, and potato pancetta.  This soup warmed my stomach and made me want to instantly recreate it when we got home.

Jonny ordered the Penne Arrabiata:  Roma tomato spicy red sauce with a side of Polpette (homemade meatballs).  I snuck in several bites/shared with an unwilling husband.  😉  (Kidding!  Sort of.  He does love his food.)  All of us couldn’t stop raving how delicious this food was!  At the end, the chef came out and told Dana and I that we would have to bring the boys back because it is always the women’s decision anyway. 🙂

We definitely didn’t go hungry in San Diego.  Stay tuned for next week’s WIAW for more wonderful Californian eats!

What is something new YOU have eaten recently?

Don’t Make Me Go

I don’t wanna go!  I don’t wanna leave this place!  It is truly a paradise out here and being able to spend time with Justin is a huge bonus.  We are thankful to have had several amazing days, and now we know that we have to come back and visit.  Justin has been out here for two and a half years, and we certainly won’t let that much time go by before we visit again!  Going to a warm and sunny destination in the middle of the St. Louis winter?  Best decision ever!

Justin, Dana, and Lauren all said that we had to try an Acai Bowl when we were out here because they are so good.  They are very popular out here and we found one spot that was close to where we were staying.  We tried one for the first time as a snack one day, then went back the following day for lunch!  What is an Acai Bowl?  Basically, it is a smoothie with acai (a superfruit) sprinkled with fruit and granola.

When we went back for lunch, I ordered a Pitaya Bowl.  I learned that Pitaya is another superfruit that has slightly less sugar than acai.

I love learning about and trying new foods!  I’d never even heard of pitaya!  Some smoothie places in St. Louis do have acai smoothies, but I think we need to bring the bowls to the Lou!  Plus, you can order them so many different ways!  There is a variety of mix-ins and toppings (all healthy), so you can switch it up.

There was something on the menu called a Tree Hugger Pitaya Bowl.  Obviously, that’s the one I ordered.  In the bowl: spinach and ginger blended with pitaya, topped with hemp seed, granola, bananas, strawberries, flaxseed, and honey.  SO GOOD!

Jonny was totally loving his acai bowl!  I finished my meal with a wheat grass shot.  Hehe.  I love all the healthy options in San Diego.  St. Louis could definitely learn from San Diego as St. Louis is like the 98th in worst places to live (fitness/health related) in the United States. (source)  Luckily, we can all make our own choices. 🙂

Good bye, San Diego.  It’s been real.  We’ll be back.

Have you ever had acai or pitaya?

San Diego Spin

Can this place get anymore beautiful?  I think not.  Everywhere we look, turn, and go is absolutely gorgeous!  I’m trying to recruit the rest of my family to move out here, but apparently relocating is not on anyone’s top agenda.  I guess we’ll have to save this gem for vacationing and visiting the little brother!

Sweaty San Diego Spin

Saturday morning, we headed to the gym with Justin and his girlfriend, Dana.  Jonny hit the ‘mill while us three attended a spin class.  The class was long and hard and just what I needed for a cardio-only day!

San Diego Spin

  • 10 minute warm-up
  • 4 x 4-minute intervals 15 seconds EZ
  • 4 x 3-minute intervals 30 seconds EZ
  • 4 x 2-minute intervals 45 seconds EZ
  • 4 x 1-minute intervals 60 seconds EZ

Saying I don’t like golf would be an understatement.  I think it is boring, tedius, and no fun at all.  Watching golf?  Even worse.  Well, actually I have never watched golf before, but Justin got us tickets to the PGA’s Farmers Insurance Open, so we went.  And then my thoughts were confirmed.  We accepted the tickets and the offer because I knew the sites would be [as always] gorgeous, Justin loves golf, and it was a beautiful day out.

Torrey Pines, where the Open was held, was pristine!  Not a blade out of place!  (I guess?)  However, the personnel working left little to be desired.  Dana and I were snapping pictures, this way and that, of the course, golfers, and each other.  One time, someone told us to put our cameras away, but I thought that was just because a golfer was teeing off.

Nope.  Later we found out that photography of any sort, as well as using a cellular device, was strictly prohibited.  Now, when I say strictly prohibited, I mean it.  There were no signs (that we saw), but a worker man came up to us after Dana and I had our cameras and phone high up in the air trying to catch a glimpse over the crowd and he informed us of this rule.  He also told us that we had two options: 1) We could give him our devices and get them back on our way out.  (Um no.)  Or 2) We could delete the photos.  We opted for option two, faked deleted a couple, and hoped he wouldn’t check.  He didn’t and so we kept the few pictures we had gotten and didn’t pull them out again.  So sneaky.

Whenever there was a really good golfer up, the crowds were massive.  There were so many people crowded around that unless you were in the front you couldn’t see any action!  And what fun is “action” when a guy swings and half a second later you don’t know where the ball went?  Plus, you can’t take pictures.  You can’t talk.  You can’t even play on your phone.  And you had to have your ticket displayed at all times (like attached to you).  Or you got yelled at.  Again.  This really made no sense to me because you had to show your ticket or you couldn’t get in to the event!  Ah the insanity!  Wherever we had room, I parked my tush on the grass and basked in the sun.  I’m not a fan of golf.  I am a fan of San Diego.

The ones who like golf.

The ones who don't.

Are you a golf fan?  Do you play or watch?  Or both?  Or neither?  You know which one I am!  (Justin, we wouldn’t have changed anything at all about today!  Well, except the people who kept yelling at us about taking pictures.  We love spending time with you guys no matter what it is… especially in this weather!!!)

Boardwalk Coffee

On our first full day in California, we woke up and walked along the boardwalk to get coffee.  It’s the best kind of coffee you can get.  On vacation.  No alarm clock.  Walk with the hubby along the boardwalk.  Stopping along the way back to appreciate the scenery and each other.  Life is good.

After our coffee walk, I cooked some eggs and then we headed to the gym.  My younger brother got us passes to his gym, The Sporting Club, which is located inside a Hyatt.  I love going to new gyms.  Not sure why, they all have the same equipment, but I still think it’s fun.  This club had 3 levels: locker rooms/sauna/steam room level, weights level, and cardio level. 

I began my workout with some cardio on the StairMaster.  I forgot my headphones in our room and they didn’t have any magazines available, so I was left to my lonesome.  Luckily, I could see the weight room area down below and that provided me enough entertainment to last the 30 minutes.  Is it weird that I like watching people workout?  I discovered a couple of new moves and stretches watching these strangers!  Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that most people in California are beautiful. 🙂

Day 4 of LiveFit Trainer was calling my name today since I was supposed to do it consecutively to Day 3.  However, the real Day 4 was our travel day, so it didn’t leave me with enough time.  Anyway, long story short, I did it and finished Week 1.

Day 4: Shoulders & Abs

  • Seated (on a ball) Dumbbell Press: 3 sets of 15 reps (12.5 pounds dumbbells)
  • Alternating Front Delt Raises: 3 sets of 12 reps (10 pound dumbbells)
  • Side Lateral Raises: 3 sets of 12 reps (7.5 pound dumbbells)
  • Seated Bent Over Rear Delt Fly: 3 sets of 15 reps (10 pound dumbbells)
  • Exercise Ball Crunches: 3 sets of 25 reps (holding a 15 pound medicine ball)
  • Air Bike: 3 sets of 30 reps (SLOW!)
  • 1-Minute Plank (Poolside): 2 sets

The planks were an afterthought.  After my workout, I went down to the pool and decided to hold some planks while soaking up the sun.  However, about 30 seconds into my second plank, I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish the 5 sets I had initially planned.  My entire body was shaking!  It was a good workout though, and I am very pleased with Week 1 of LiveFit.

After some pool time, we met up with my brother for lunch and then hung with him the rest of the day.  Because my dark-colored nails were chipping and it was incredibly noticeable, I decided to go for a quick polish change at a local nail place.  I felt like my nails were due for a fun and light color since we were beneath the sunny San Diego skies, so I opted for OPI’s Hollywood Blonde.  The name didn’t make sense since I’m not a blonde anymore and we’re not in Hollywood, but I went with it anyway.  The color was incredibly sheer and a bit sparkly.  Fun for our vacay and definitely worth the $5.

Jonny and I came back to our place just before we witnessed this beautiful sunset.  There were tons of surfers that were heading to the waves around this time and it was fun to watch from our balcony.  We’re totally loving our stay here!

Pseudo Tofu Recipe

Today is Thursday and I am SOOOOO HAPPY!  Do you know why?  Because directly from school, I am heading to the airport with Jonny to visit this little booger:

Ok, ok that is when he was like four years old, but how cute is he?  Now he is 24 (soon to be 25 on February 5th!) and lives in San Diego, California.  I am sad he lives so far away, but it does make for a fabulous destination to visit!  Actually, for Jonny and my one year wedding anniversary, I booked us a trip to sunny San Diego during the dead of winter in St. Louis.  We are really looking forward to this trip!  I miss my baby bro and the warm sunshine will feel nice.  Plus, I’ve never been to California!  Lots of firsts here!

LiveFit Update:

I love working out my legs because they are a strong part of my body.  I grew up playing soccer, and my legs are here to prove it!  My legs can endure a lot more than my upper body can.  Have you seen my 100’s workout?

Day 3: Legs & Calves

  • Leg Press: 3 sets of 15 reps (90 pounds)
  • Leg Extensions: 3 sets of 15 reps (45 pounds)
  • Sumo Barbell Squats: 3 sets of 20 reps (30 pounds)
  • Kneeling Leg Curls (alternating legs): 3 sets of 12 reps (15 pounds/leg)
  • Standing Calf Raises: 3 sets of 20 reps (40 pounds)
  • Seated Calf Raises: 3 sets of 20 reps (75 pounds)
  • Walking Alternate Lunges: 3 sets of 20 reps (10 pound dumbbells)

The original LiveFit workout can be found here, as well as a demonstration of any and all of the exercises listed above.  For the standing calf raises, I put a 40 pound barbell on my back and raised up to my tippy toes instead of using the machines.  And for the seated calf raises, I sat on the leg press and pushed out and then put just my toes on the machine and flexed for each rep.  (My old trainer taught me that.)  The lunges at the end were my own touch. 🙂

In the food world, I needed to use up some food in the house since we are leaving town for a few days.  I will share my cooking with you, but you’ll have to understand that I wouldn’t necessarily call this a “recipe” as I threw stuff in here and there and don’t have exact measurements.  Truth be told, I wasn’t quite sure how this would turn out, but I was actually quite impressed!

Pseudo Tofu Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 package extra-firm tofu
  • olive oil
  • broccoli
  • corn
  • 1 cup whole-wheat couscous
  • garlic
  • pineapple chunks or slices in 100% pineapple juice
  • soy sauce
  • sweet chili sauce
  • curry powder
  • chili flakes and powder

Directions:

  • 1.  Drain and press tofu using Mama Pea’s technique.
  • 2.  Cut tofu into small bite-size pieces, spray with olive oil, and bake on a greased cookie sheet at 375 for 35 minutes.
  • 3.  Steam broccoli and corn and drain.
  • 4.  Cook couscous using 1/2 cup pineapple juice and 1/2 cup of water.
  • 5.  Add garlic, dash of olive oil, curry powder, chili flakes and powder, soy sauce, and sweet chili sauce to vegetables.
  • 6.  Give it a mish and a mash.
  • 7.  Add baked tofu.
  • 8.  Add couscous at the end.
  • 9.  Mish.  Mash.  Serve.  Eat.

Even Jonny said it was good!  I would have preferred to use brown rice or quinoa, but couscous was all we had in the pantry.  I also would have added more vegetables, but we didn’t have many of those either.  And this dish covered pretty much every food group no matter how you look at it: protein, carb, healthy fat, veggies, fruit.  Need I say more?

What’s the best recipe that you have thrown together?