Aug 20 2015

Hank Expresses a Preference: Mexican Snack Cakes

Exterior like an unusually dry and dense Fig Newton, surrounding a strawberry-colored fruit(?) paste.

Did not meet expectations.

Thin layer of chocolate and cake around a sweet, creamy center.

He asked if he could eat the whole thing, which of course. Cultural experience.

A slightly tired stroopwafel, but sandwiching four times the usual amount of caramel, drizzled in chocolate.

Well now we’re potentially ruining dinner.

Dry sponge cake with a thin layer of orange paste and another layer of chocolate on top.

I don’t think he was into it.

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Aug 19 2015

Hank Expresses a Preference, Mexican Candies

Banana bubble gum with surprise banana-syrup center.

Not a fan of surprises.

A chocolate bar.

Yum! Wait. Weird aftertaste.

Tasty, slightly powdery, peanut-based marzipan.

Hank feels angry at this candy.

Crispy cereal bits coated in “chocolate.”

Kranky? More like amiable. Right you guys?

Dense, vaguely fruit-flavored gum drops stick to your teeth, while hot spicy powder lingers at the top of your throat.

Hard pass.

M&Ms meet Andes Mints.


A condensed Kool-Aid powder gel, rolled in citric acid cake sprinkles, heightened with a thunderclap of high-fructose corn syrup.

A brief pause to consider the intensity of flavor.
Interest bordering on panic.
Hank expresses a strong preference for the diabetic stylings of Moritas!

Stay tuned! Tomorrow Hank expresses preferences for Mexican snack cakes.

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Aug 18 2015

Where to Eat in Sayulita, Mexico

We just got back from Sayulita, which is a small surfing town about an hour outside Puerto Vallarta. The town is tiny, the commercial district is only a few blocks square, but it’s oriented around tourism so there are lots of food options.

We were traveling with Ozzy (4 months) and Hank (8 years), so the places listed here are great for kids too if you have a family in tow. These were a few of our favorite things to eat and places to be.

Paletas from Waikika
Ave Revolucion, 63732

Paletas are ice pops made from fresh fruit, strawberry was my favorite. They’re like a heartier popsicle, and about half of them are made with cream as well. We went during the sweltering off season, and I could have had one of these for every meal.

A Bucket of Beers at Capitan Cook
Las Gaviotas Beach

An umbrella and beach chairs waiting for you with a bucket of beers in ice. My blood pressure drops just remembering it. The blue umbrellas at Capitan Cook were our go-to beachside camp on the main beach.

There were lots of vacationing families with kids here, so it was easier for Hank to make friends playing in the water where we could see him. The tacos, asada, and guacamole were fresh, there was always a chair for the baby to nap on, and Hank gives a thumbs up to the virgin Piña Coladas.

Sunset at Don Pedros
Calle Marlin 2, Centro

Don Pedros is an upscale restaurant overlooking the beach. It’s pricey for Sayulita, but the view is lovely, plus they have a great bar, a good selection of fish and veggies, and pizza if you have kids. Good way to treat yourself and ease into town if you’ve just landed after a long flight.

Handmade Pasta at Il Vizietto
Avenida Palmar | Next to Camping Junto del Rio

Ah, Mexico. Renown for its pasta.

We wouldn’t ordinarily try an Italian restaurant in Mexico, but we walked by this charming open-air restaurant every day on our way into town. The swing seats proved too much to resist.

Il Vizietto starts serving dinner at eight, and the setting is so romantic. The waiter pours you a cocktail while you watch the fireflies, and then you head up to the kitchen window. The owner shows you the three types of pasta he made for the evening and you pick one. The pasta is amazing, and the salad was good too. So if you get tired of tacos, Il Vizietto has a bar-side swing waiting.

La Rustica
Avenida Revolución 40C

La Rustica is a cute place with great coffee, in case you’ve been zombie-ing around in search. They’re known for their wood-fired pizzas, but we liked their breakfast. Chilaquiles were my favorite, but they also have good fancy pancakes, and the environment is calm.

Tacos and Margaritas from Yeikame
Calle Jose Mariscal # 10

Yeikame is an unassuming cafe with sidewalk tables, but it was my favorite place to eat in town. Great traditional Mexican food at reasonable prices. Everything on the menu is satisfying, and they have a wide selection of fresh juices and frescas.

While you’re there, try one of Yeikame’s Margaritas. It’ll take things down a few notches, and you’ve got no place to be.

If you’re looking for more suggestions, these articles were super helpful:

Where to Eat in Sayulita, Part One: Mexican Food
Where to Eat in Sayulita Part Two: Non-Mexican Food

Have so much fun.

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Aug 2 2015

Plantain Chips with Hot Sauce

Mexican snacks!

These banana chips are real good. They’re probably fried in triple beef transfat Crisco, but I do not quer. They come with a packet of hot(ish) sauce tucked in the bag, and all is right with the world.

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Jul 14 2015

Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville, You Should Go

We headed up to Johnson’s Beach in Guerneville yesterday, and had a great day.

The Russian River beach has been in operation for nearly a century, and it feels exactly that quaint. They have everything you need for a day by the river, so you can just show up in with your suit and a towel for a day of swimming. We’ve been going for years.

There’s no charge for admission, but we rent a beach umbrella, chairs, and a couple of tubes for $5 each. You can also get paddle boats, canoes, and kayaks by the hour. The beach is rocky, so one of the guys comes out with a mallet and pounds the umbrella in for you. They also dredge out a shallow area where the tiny kids can wade.

You can bring a cooler, or visit the snack bar for lunch. It’s so chill, and easy, and Hank always finds kids to play with when we bring a little collection of squirt guns. If you’re a river person, it doesn’t get any more perfect.

Johnson’s Beach
Open Mid-May Until the End of September
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Parking is available ($5/car on weekends and special events).

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Mar 5 2015

Packing Light: Palm Springs, Maternity Edition

I had about two minutes left to fly before potentially giving birth next to the drink cart, so Brad and I headed to Palm Springs. I took a carry on and a backpack, and this is what I packed for five days. Lots of this stuff I’ve had forever, so links are mostly to similar items.

Tank Dress H&M | I’ve been living in non-maternity jersey stretch dresses so as to take full advantage of this nine-month period where a gut is adorable. Here’s a fancier one than mine.
Saltwater Sandals | These are a million years old, impossible to destroy, and my go-to travel sandal.

Romper PJs | I try to pack PJs I can wear out if I need to, and these are good by the pool. For romping.

The belly! See you soon, baby.

This is me just after we landed, I’d changed shoes, but otherwise this is a pretty typical travel outfit for me — stretchy and PJ-esque.

H&M knit dress | Another stretchy non-maternity piece, the skirt was originally ankle length, but I stained the bottom, so I cut it off. Then I cut the sleeves off. Then I realized you can totally customize knit dresses just like you can T-shirts and why aren’t we all doing this constantly?
Open Cardigan | I got this in Australia, and I’ve worn it a lot less than I anticipated because ironing. Pbbbbt.

Maternity Swimsuit | I figured I’d wear this like twice, so I went with basic and cheap. I’d go bikini, but my belly button is a monstrosity. It’s like eight inches across, and I feel actual shame about it.

Straw Hat, vintage | I got it in a consignment shop in San Louis Obispo, and it makes me feel all gaucho. That’s a bit of rosemary tucked in the band after a walk.

Normally, you could get away with packing two sundresses and a bikini to Palm Springs, but we’ve already discussed my belly button and it was February. It gets cold in the desert at night always, but in February? It actually rained all day the day I wore this.

Black Maternity Pants | I’ll never live without black pants again. So much more versatile than jeans for me.
Gap Body Long-sleeve T-shirt | Also not technically maternity, but I always pack it as an under layer when I travel.
Metallic Pewter Tieks | This was the other pair of shoes I packed, and always pack, and may they never stop making them amen.

Vintage Silk Scarf | Can you tell I’m falling asleep in this photo? This trip was 80 percent nap.

Vintage embroidered Mexican shirt | You find these a lot in antique stores in California, but they’re all over eBay.
Stretch jersey tube skirt | Not maternity, but if you don’t own one of these, get one. So crazy comfortable. The only problem is that they tend to turn inside out when you go to the bathroom and then you’re walking around with your tag out. Be ye forewarned.

I don’t normally wear purple, in part because that poem made me uncomfortable about it, but the embroidery on this was too beautiful to pass up, and it covers the yoke in back as well.

• Silk Scarf Top | I’d owned this lovely hand-painted silk scarf for years and never worn it. So I made it into a top by folding it into a triangle, cutting a slit for my head along the fold, and then hand-stitching a rolled hem. Took about half an hour, and it packs down to nothing. Makes a great suit coverup as well. Do this immediately.
• Black Tank Top

This is how I traveled home with pool hair.

• Vintage Silk Scarf
Urban Outfitter Sunglasses
American Apparel deep-V tee | My go-to for nursing.
H&M Long Sweatshirt | Not a maternity piece, I think it was actually from the men’s department, but I wore this when I was pregnant with Hank, and kept right on wearing it until now. H&M men’s section has the best stuff. (Speaking of which, another option.)
Muji Foldable Shoulder Bag | I bought this in France when I realized that I’d never make it all day on foot with a heavy leather purse. It’s nylon so it zips down to a little pouch I can throw in my luggage, and weighs nothing.

Not pictured:

• My backpack with camera and electronics.
• Undies
• My Dopp kit
• An extra, zip-down tote to carry home thrift store treasures.

And that’s it. You can do it! Thou shalt not check.

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Sep 10 2014

Hotels I Recommend to Friends

The best travel tips are always from friends, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite hotels. I sometimes plan trips around where I’d like to stay, and though I’m devoted to airbnb lately, these are a few hotels where you should stay if you ever get the chance.

The hotels on this list meet all my criteria for a perfect visit — the bedrooms are prettier and more comfortable than the one I have at home, the common areas are nice enough that I like to hang out there, there’s somewhere to soak (a deep bathtub, a hot tub, a heated pool), good coffee is available first thing in the morning, and the people who work there go out of their way to be kind.

Most of them are in California, because I love road trips, but there are a couple bonus places here too:

boon hotel + spa
Guerneville, California

If you’re heading to the Russian River Wine country, this is the most relaxing, fun place to stay. Modern accommodations hidden in a redwood forest, a central heated pool and hot tub with an honor bar, and most of the fourteen rooms have private patios. The owner Krista is a chef, she owns two restaurants in town as well, so the coffee and breakfast delivered to your door in the morning is always seasonal and delicious.

Madonna Inn
San Louis Obispo, California

I can’t do this place justice, you must go and bring as many friends as you can convince. The Madonna Inn has been around since the 1950s; it’s the halfway point for a drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and was built by a couple with a vision. This hotel is one of my favorite places anywhere, so kitschy it transcends and circles back to art. Each room has its own very distinct theme, so choose carefully from the list of photos on the site (Irish Hills is one of my favorites). The dining room, and everything in it, is pink, and there are hand-to-heaven dinosaur bones in the boulders that form the fireplace. The food is terrific, as are the cocktails, which you can enjoy in the bar, or floating in the epic heated pool overlooking the valley. There’s a live swing band every Saturday night, and I adore it. Go here. You must go.

Pali Hotel
Los Angeles, California

I stayed here by happenstance because I wanted to be close to a friend. The lush colors and quirky interior felt like Buenos Aires to me, and it turns out the owner is an Argentine. There’s a great, small restaurant on site, and when I was there the Eggslut food truck pulled up in the mornings for coffee and breakfast. (Is that still a thing? Not sure.) The hotel room was cozy and quiet, and my room felt personal, like I was staying with a good friend.

Ace Hotel, Portland
Portland, Oregon

The Ace Hotels are now officially a chain with seven hotels all over the world, but their second property in Portland is still my favorite. The rooms are spacious and bright, with big windows that still open, and many have deep claw footed tubs. Downstairs, you can work in the library overlooking the lobby, there’s strong wifi throughout. The lobby is attached to a Stumptown coffee shop, so grab a cup and settle in with their solid selection of reading material. The hotel restaurant has a bar with bartenders who know what they’re doing, and I do not say that lightly. There’s a vintage photobooth, and twee bikes you can borrow, but the overall feeling is laid back. If you love the Ace aesthetic as much as I do, their sister property in Palm Springs is also dreamy.

Home Hotel
Buenos Aires, Argentina

I should note that I’ve never stayed at Home Hotel, but spent a lot of time with traveling companions who did, and visited often when I lived in Argentina for a month. It feels just like home should, a relief from the city outside. There are cross stitch samplers in the elevators, greenery all around, and everything is set up to be simple and comfortable. Great food and drinks on site, but they also have a visitor’s guide that outlines all the management’s favorite places in town. By the time I discovered it, I’d spent weeks finding most of the places that were already on their list. Even if you aren’t staying at Home (it’s pricey), it’s worth swinging by for a drink or a snack and asking for a guide.

If you’ve ever stayed somewhere that felt just right, please tell so I can add it to my list of places to try, which is right here: travel | unique hotels.

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