San Francisco: tourist for the day

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“Hey, dude!” When I think of San Francisco, I think of Michelle Tanner on Full House, hilly roads and cable cars.  I spent two nights in San Francisco as the start of a (now annual) girls trip! The final destination was Napa, CA for the Zooma Women’s Half Marathon and lots of wine tasting <– let’s be honest, we really just went for the wine…
San Fran is probably one of my favorite cities. (Chicago summers being at the top of the list right now) If you want the beach, head south a little. Redwoods/nature/hiking, drive north. City tourist-for-a-day and wine connoisseur are fun roles to play.  The food is pretty spectacular and the sights are one of a kind.
This trip was a girl’s trip.  Translation – tons of chatting, wine and laughter.  I had far too much fun and took far too many pictures to post everything so I’ve listed my “top 10” San Fran moments…

1 – Running the Golden Gate Bridge (FOR FREE!)

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It’s not everyday that I get to wake up and go for a jog over one of the most popular bridges in the world ( <— my opinion).  The run/jog/picture-taking-session was amazing!  The San Fran side was very foggy and we couldn’t even see the top of the bridge, the water or the other side!   Parking, running and taking a ton of pictures were all free!

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Once we ran the 1.7 miles across the bridge, the sky cleared and the views were amazing!  The run was a little loud from the traffic, boats and horns and the air was definitely polluted with car emissions, but this is one run I will never forget!  So cool!

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2 – Air BNB

We stayed in the city two nights and most of the hotels we found were super expensive, sold out or yucky.  One of our friends mentioned Air BNB and this proved to be the BEST thing ever!  I didn’t take any pictures of our cute little abode, but it was perfect! The Sunny Apt City View, Qn Bed, Parking from Ms. Rita was wonderful!   Ms. Rita was so responsive and her rental was in a great location. Not too far from the city but far enough to get out of the chaos.  Parking was free and the bathroom was renovated and had a bidet… (google it if you need to… I did!)  I would definitely recommend this rental to others and will use AirBNB for the next trip!

3 – El Techo de Lolinda

El Techo de Lolinda is the a lively, fun, delicious rooftop bar in Mission district with a cool view of San Fran.  It’s mainly tapas and the best La Paloma I’ve ever had!  The atmosphere was so great!  The music was awesome (those great 80s and 90s hits!) and the food so incredible.

4 – Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl from Boudin

I love the piers in San Fran. Actually, I think everyone loves the piers, specifically Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf because I felt like every tourist in San Fran was there.  We tried to visit Alcatraz but the next available tickets weren’t until the middle of July!  It sort of felt like the chaos of Disney World but with the famous clam chowder bread bowl in the middle, it’s definitely worth it!  Boudin Bakery is a must visit while in San Fran.  The bread bowls are like Philly Pretzels in PA… need I say more?!

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5 – Chocolate!

ghirardelli-squareSan Fran tourist won’t want to miss a stroll through Ghirardelli Square, where loving  chocolate is a prerequisite.  Although there’s no formal tour to see, the gift shops have a few old machines (this one in the picture had real chocolate processing in it!).  Of course, the Ghirardelli employees with their hats and aprons are in every shop giving out a sample as you walk in.  There were 3 separate shops in the square.  I found all 3.  <— and yes, had 3 samples of the mini squares!

6 – Cable Car Rides at Powell and Hyde

I wasn’t the only tourist who wanted to ride the cable cars… just look at all these people!  Actually, this line was over an hour wait, and yes, I waited!  The cable cars are so San Fran, they are a must do, but a must-do-early-thing if you’re smart.

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Once we got on a car, we were off to explore the city!  The cable cars went up and up and up (San Fran is very hilly!).  I was standing out back of the car by the driver so I took a few shots of the city… have I mentioned how much fun being a tourist is?!  The cable cars are $15 for a city pass which is good for all day rides on city transportation!  cable cars > walking  🙂

What.A.View.  I was mesmerized!  A few blocks later we got to Lombard Street!

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 7 – Lombard Street – The Crookedest Street in the World

Another “touristy” thing in San Fran is definitely taking a walk (or drive) down Lombard Street.  The sharp turns in this road are said to make this the crookedest street in the world!  Besides being full of tourist, Lombard Street is a great place to view the city and beautiful flowers grow everywhere!

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8 – little corner shops & wine breaks

After Lombard Street, we took a walk to find #1 a bathroom and #2 the next cable car stop so we could continue the trip around town.  Bathrooms were a little hard to find and most the of shops were just small storefronts “without bathrooms”  (<– no customer = no bathroom for you in San Fran)  Luckily, we came across Nook Café!  This wasn’t only a bathroom break, but it was such a cute café and just so happened to be serving happy hour drink specials so… hello my-five-oclock-somewhere-drink!

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9 – Italians

Yes, Italians.  That’s another one of my favorites of San Fran.  Specifically the Italians at the restaurant, E Tutto Qua.  We had dinner here because of the location and the good reviews on yelp.  Those reviews were spot on!  The staff were incredible… so friendly and had (sexy) Italian accents.  The pizza was delicious with a special pepper oil on top.  Oh, the dessert… panna cotta.  Need I say more?!

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10 – The Pacific Ocean

I live on the east coast. In Florida.  The highest thing I encounter are office buildings and bridges (Jacksonville has great running bridges!)  One of the things I really wanted to do in San Fran was take a trip to the ocean.  Breathtaking.  Although a little foggy, the views were still amazing and even though I didn’t get to touch the ocean, I got to smell it and even saw dolphins playing in the waves!

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If you haven’t made the trip to this foggy city, I highly recommend it!  I can’t want for my next trip!

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Love Letter

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As I’m walking in Target and simultaneously refreshing the NASBA score release screen, I spotted this “love letter” in the wine isle.  I wasn’t going to open it but something about it said read me.  I did and I’m so glad.  It made me stop, breathe, reflect and appreciate all I have.  Even if it was just a short moment of relief from the anxiety of waiting for my CPA score to release, it’s exactly what I needed.  At exactly the right time. 

So thank you “M” and for http://www.moreloveletters.com/.  You make a huge difference in my day. 

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Good luck to all the other CPA candidates studying or waiting on scores!

xoxo

10 Ways to find YOU before saying “I DO”

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The cycle of life seems to go like this… your born, go to school, hate boys,  love boys, hate your parents, hate yourself, get a job, love only yourself, meet a boy, “YOLO”, go to college, have your first real heartbreak, hate boys, get another job, need acceptance by worldly things, meet another boy, incur debt, think he’s “the one,” get engaged, graduate college, get married,  start a career, get divorced, think YOLO again and realize it’s not the same as your teens and start all over again.  Maybe there’s a kid with you and maybe you’ve moved a time or two but this seems to be the life cycle and to most, this is “normal” this is “life”.  This is, life happens.

Happiness is measured by things and satisfaction judged by attention.  Checking things off the life to do list seems to be the only thing on the agenda and you end up running around like a chicken with your head cut off, wearing so many hats and not knowing which one is really you.  You question true love and life becomes consumed with updating your status on Facebook and pictures of how “awesome” your life is on Instagram.  Or you attempt to create this facade…

Ok, maybe this is extreme and come on, this “could never happen to you,” right?  Well wrong.  No one is immune.  If it doesn’t happen to you, there’s a good chance it will happen to someone close to you.  And what is “it?”  It could be divorce, unhappiness, or living through Facebook updates and checking those what-comes-next-things off the to do list.

McKinley Irvin posted “32 Shocking Divorce Statistics.”  I don’t think these are shocking at all, but I think this article sums up everything… here’s just a few:

  • 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce.
  • 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce.
  • 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce.

And guess what?! The ages are not surprising either…. 80% of women getting divorced are under the age of 30!

I definitely don’t have life figured out but I have learned a thing or two the past few years I thought were worth sharing.  Maybe you will find this useful or perhaps you will find my ways irrational and childish, but for me, before I say “I do” (again), I’m on this path to FIND ME first!

10 Things to do before you say “I DO”

#1 – Read the gospel.  Get plugged in at your church.  There is no love greater than the love of the Father.  God’s love is unconditional.  John 3:16 went viral with Tim Tebow but the words have always been there.  Until you know God’s love, there is no way you can show love and be loved the way God intended.  Live your life for the glory of God.  Not yourself.  Yearn for God-like love and when you find it, it will be epic.  ❤

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#2 – Graduate college.  Start your career.  The college years are really just an extension of high school nowadays.  Having schedules made for you, deadlines set, spring and summer breaks, all status quo from high school.  Difference – less parental oversight, a license to drink and more opportunities to get in trouble.  When I was getting my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, no matter how “grown up” I thought I was, I wasn’t.  Finding my career though, has taught me a few lessons about working with people, self development, professional standards and real deadlines for long term projects.  I’m just in the very beginning stages of my career, but I am finding myself along the way!

Also, make sure you have all your other certs in place too.  Maybe it’s a license like the CPA or Bar or Boards.  Or some other letters you want to get after your name.  Achieve your personal goals first, then you can focus on other things.   In the short term, this will suck.  But for me, having my CPA is something I have been dreaming about for a long time.  Once I have it, no one can take it away and I will be done with my “schooling/educational” goals then.  Right now, that’s my focus.  What’s yours?

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#3 – Buy real furniture.  Decorate.  Establish a permanent address.  Finding yourself really doesn’t start until you have a firm foundation.  Plants can’t grow and thrive without strong roots.  Plant yourself and get established somewhere on your own.  The on your own part is critical.  Stop depending on someone else.  Unfortunately, the path for most young people seems to be this – be dependent on your parents – be dependent on a boyfriend/girlfriend, have a dependent (kid/significant other), get married and now you have dependents for life.  No where in there is independence!  We think we are independent because we went to college or pay rent, but until you plant your roots and be completely self sufficient, you can’t be independent.

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#4 – Babysit. Babysit. Babysit.  Kids are wonderful and amazing blessings from God.  I know some of the coolest kids but they have also taught me so much too.  Kids look “fun and easy” and “complete happiness.”  They do bring joy but they also take change your life. Young people can’t wait to have kids and rush into marriage kids everything to experience the happiness.  Well let me tell you, happiness can be found within you!  You don’t need any extra stuff to have happiness.  As long as you got #1 down (read above if you missed it) you have happiness living inside you!  While you’re find yourself, I encourage you to babysit.  Try spending the night watching over a baby. Experience the full responsibility a LITTLE more.  When the baby wakes in the middle of the night, you wake.  When the baby cries, you sometimes cry.  This is real life.  Find YOUR happiness within, then share your happiness with others.  Not the other way around.  This sweet, smiling girl is the most beautiful little girl (to me) but the best thing I can share with her is MY happiness, who I am, so she can become a strong independent young lady one day and not rely on others to make her happy.  <— but not to fast though!

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#5 – Experience life without the “all about me” attitude.  Once you start to find you, you need to start to share you.  Maybe this means makes a few sacrifices to make someone else’s life a little better.  Maybe you trade in your late night Saturdays to serve in your Church early Sunday mornings.  Maybe it’s choosing to donate your time at a shelter or your money to go on a missions trip.  Or coach a youth sports league.  Or what I did, adopt a dog from a kill shelter.  A few things I’ve learned from having my dog:  1) saving a life is more rewarding to you than the dog. 2) the wagging tail happy-to-see-you-dog when you get home is better than any adult greeting 3) teaching your dog something new feels like you’ve just accomplished a huge goal yourself 4) if you thought you couldn’t love a dog that much, you will be proven wrong.  My dog, Emmie, is truly the light of my life.  She’s a huge responsibility and sometimes I wish she could walk herself when it’s really cold outside but she has taught me patience, forgiveness (she pees everywhere!) and love.

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#6 – Get involved in a professional organization.  Whatever your career is, network with wiser, more experienced people.  This is the best thing you can do for your career.  Up until now, you’ve gone through school with peers.  Everyone was on the same playing field, learning the same and having very similar experiences.  There is so much you can learn from a mentor and sponsor, the possibilities are endless.  Take a leadership position.  Don’t worry about your age or inexperience.  Your youthful spirit, ability to adapt to change and creative endeavors make you a gem.  Use your lack of experience and knowledge to lean on others.  Humble yourself.  Make a name for yourself and become an independent professional!  Read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In book!

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#7 Start your mornings a little earlier.  Grab coffee and read something.  Maybe it’s the news, the Bible, a professional book, or even a blog 🙂 find something to read and share that with someone during the day!  <— this might mean you have to go to bed earlier too… welcome to the real world!

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#8 Blog about it.  Blogging is such a great way to create your own community and focus on YOU, your passions.  Most importantly, sharing your passions.  I started my blog a little over a year ago as a way to occupy my time with fun recipes while I was going through some rocky roads.  I love consolidating all my favorites in one place and now use it as a reference to share recipes with friends.  I also love reading other blogs too.  Learning about the adoption process of my friend and watching families grow  makes me smile.  If you’re reading this and you’re between 20-30, life is just getting started.  So many things are changing and will changing and blogging is a great way to document these.  Older than that?  You know more than I do and I would love to learn from you!

The first picture below is a page from Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Melton.  It’s a wonderful book that’s a compilation of Glennon’s blog posts and other writings.  I laughed and cried my way through this book.

The second book, Blog Inc by Joy Deangdeelert Cho, is a book I got for Christmas and am just starting to read it.  It’s a great resource and inspirational book.

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#9 Find your hobbies.  This one seems silly.  I know.  But think about it this way.  When I was 8, I loved Barbie and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.  When I was 16, my life was all Dashboard Confessional and Yellowcard concerts, Abercrombie & Fitch shirts that were size XL and boys with bleached hair.  At 20, I wanted to know where the party was Friday night and how to look older than I really was.  When I was 23, I wanted to be done with school, married and happy with a white picket fence.   At 25, I want to challenge my body with runs and rides.  I want to explore the world, go camping and live a simpler life.  I want to learn another language, pass the CPA exam and go on a missions trip.  I want to spend more quality time with my family slow down a little bit.  I want to watch my puppy grow and enjoy life with my friends.

The only thing constant about my life has been me changing.  I’ve changed my interests, wants and desires.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who has changed either.  I’m sure you have too.  There’s nothing wrong with this at all.  In fact, this is learning who you are and FINDING YOU.  So I challenge you to find you, find your interests.  What’s your dream?  How can you achieve it?

I’ve always wanted to do a wine and canvas type thing, so I did!  I’m not great, and in fact I’ve decided to stick to my better talents from now on, but without challenging myself, I would never know!

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#10 Buy a dress.   Not a wedding dress.  Your day will come, my dear friend.  In due time. In God’s time. But buy a dress that makes you feel beautiful.  You’ve accomplished so much and should be so proud.  Dress up and go on a real date.  With a real man.  Who invites you to a really nice dinner.  Is a complete gentleman.  Opens doors and complements you.  The whole 9 yards.  You are beautiful and deserve to be treated the way you feel.  When you feel beautiful, confident and independent, you will attract the type of man God has called you to be with.  Only when you find who you are will the time come for you to take the next step.  This might be when you’re 30, 35 or 40.  Aren’t you glad you aren’t rushing, but found you and found happiness within!?

Or maybe you’re already married and the you is lost (or never found?!).  It’s not to late to find you in there.  It will be harder, but you can do it.  Do it for yourself, for the people who love you and for your future generations, mentees and friends.  Love is definitely worth fighting for but before you can fight, you have to train.  Train yourself by finding who you are, what you want and learning just how amazing God created you to be. Then share that love with others.

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Thank you for sharing your time with me and I hope you embark on this journey with me with these 10 ways to find YOU before saying “I DO” – for the first time, or like me, for the next last time! 🙂

XO

Cassie