San Francisco: tourist for the day

golden-gate-bridge

“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!)

golden-gate-bridge-morning

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!

golden-gate-run-cassie

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!

golden-gate-run

 

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?!

pier39-san-fran san-fran-warf

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.

cable-cars

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!

san-fran-view

 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!

san-fran-lombard-street

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!

nook-cafe-san-fran

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?!

panna-cotta

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!

pacific-coast

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

pacific-coast-cassie

 

My life as an ecard

You know that moment when you read an an ecard and think to yourself “HA, ya that’s me” or “yup, agreed?” Well I had an all too perfect moment of this last night.

Here’s the scene: I found a gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods in my wallet (<— finding unused gift cards = cha ching!)

So naturally I thought hmmm what do I ‘need’ for my half marathon training? I decided I needed a foam roller (as a precautionary measure and to avoid physical therapy later) and new running shorts (because it gets hot in Florida and a girl’s gotta look better than she feels). Then I had a coupon for $10 off $50 (double plus!!) and since my total wasn’t quite there, new ear buds were a must have as well.

This weekend my training program for Napa (happy dance) began! Lots of thoughts rushed through my head (the color of the shorts) and I was definitely satisfied with the results (delivery in 5-7 days!). So let me introduce you to my ‘ha- ya that’s me ecard’ <— which I saw on Facebook moments after the purchase…

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Really couldn’t get much more perfect than that!

I am now t-minus 4 days to my CPA exam and besides having nightmares that I completely tank it, this was another ecard I had to laugh, and agree, with.

ecard-bed

In all honesty, my training really did only consist of getting gear to look the part!  (yikes… procrastinator?!) Oh and since my half is in NAPA, I thought I would start training for all aspects… vino tasting, oh course!  Zooma Women’s Half Marathon in Napa, here I come!

zooma-womens-half

 What’s your “yeah, that’s so me” ecard?

Now that my dog, Emmie, is asleep laying down for a brief moment, back to the studying I go! 

emmie-sleeping

 

 

 

Hello! It’s been a while.

run emmie

Hello thereI’ve been dying to post a blog, or two, or 13 – yes, I have 13 I want to post but life has been so insane and wonderful and crazy, I’m just enjoying the ride and trying to hold on.

Every once in a while I stop to eat food but that’s the lesser of the excitement going on.  So here’s just a few of my favorite, and not so favorite, things over the past few weeks.

emmie#1 – The Dog Interview:  I love my new puppy, Emmie!!  She is a husky lab (or for those techy people Siberian Retriever) mix. I adopted her on Sunday, October 13, 2013 from Wags and Whiskers Pet Rescue.  I felt like I was asked more questions in that “interview” than in my job interview (I’m telling you, my life has been crazy!). In all honestly, I would have told them my whole life story to adopt this princess.  And boy is she a princess.  Her toys take over the house and she has her own room.  She has 3 collars and 2 leashes – all pink and one has jewels.  We’ve gone on many adventures in the past 2 months including trips to the dog park and puppy play dates with friends.  She LOVES water, and treats and tennis balls.  HATES baths, people wearing hats and the vacuum.

I decided if I’m eating healthy, my dog should eat healthy too.  Giving her the best chance to be the healthiest dog, I sprung for a 4 star dog food… Nature’s Recipe Grain Free – Chicken, sweet potato and pumpkin – tis the season, right?!  Dog Food Advisor was my source for what’s the one of the best and I went with one of the first ones I found at Petsmart.  Dog Food Advisor says there are 5 start dog foods out there, but 4 stars are good too.  This was my Black Friday purchaseseriously – see I told you this dog rules my life….  Petsmart was having a Black Friday sale for $15 off this 24lb bag.  Plus there was a $4 manufacturer’s coupon so that took $19 off the original price of $47… what a steal!!!  With such a great deal, I had to buy 2 bags… so I did.   Merry Christmas Emmie, Black Friday will never be the same again!

emmie food

Looking at the ingredients of this dog food makes me think that my dog just may be eating better than me some days… however that doesn’t stop her from eating everything within her mouth’s reach.  I went to the vet earlier today to get her something for a possible worm she may have from digesting a parasite… currently she is running like a crazy monkey through the house and pacing back and forth.  I think that medicine has the same effect as digested frogs do when she manages to capture one… Just sayin’. 

#2 – The Job Interview –  Guess what?!  I got a new job!  I started my new job October 28th.  I’m the newest Financial Analysts for Allstate Benefits (yes, the you’re in good hands people)!   I am so blessed to have such a wonderful job and amazing supervisors and co-workers.  The past month and a half flew by and I’ve learned so much.  This was definitely a career shift for me and it came at no better time than me reading Sheryl Sanberg’s book Lean In.  Chapter 4 talks about “It’s a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder” and discusses how times have changed and careers aren’t one way up ladders anymore but you have to play in the whole jungle gym, where there are multiple ways to the top and no path is clearly defined.  On a ladder you can only go up, down or not move but in jungle gym, you can switch careers, take time off, and reenter careers.  So that’s what I’m doing.  I’m climbing around my career jungle gym and can say this is one of the best decisions of my life!

image#3 – The Half Marathon –  I challenged my body to something I’ve never done before… a half marathon!  If you recall, I attempted a half back in June but got injured, went to physical therapy and enjoyed a weekend in Chicago, not running.  So about 2 weeks before the Thanksgiving Day Half in Jacksonville, I decided I had to complete one this year.  And Thanksgiving was the day to do it.  Calories Out > Calories In = Win

Yeah, it was a little crazy, but that’s the theme of the past few months.  The training only consisted of 2 long runs before the half.  My thought process was the shorter the training time, the less likelihood of injury before the race.  Who cared about after the race at that point.

So, I stuck with the schedule all but 1 day and pushed through it.  Then came race day one of the coldest Thanksgivings I can remember.  I have a little pre-race regiment I’ve been doing this year and it seems to help – Odorless Garlic and Echinacea Goldenseal for immune boosts – tearing your body down during a run (or training) is brutal!  Calcium-Magnesium-Vitamin C supplement for muscle recovery – in my mind acts like Advil.  Works for me!

run nutrients

Then came the morning of the race… 35 degrees and “icy” says my car.  I researched for hours what to wear (and went shopping – living in Florida doesn’t prepare you for this weather!)  and came to the conclusion that the following race gear would be perfect:

What better way to start the morning than a tasty breakfast!?  1 cup of coffee whatever it takes is also required on race day everyday.

run bfast

I had planned on having powergel/gu/whatevers every 30 minutes and my goal was the get done in less than 2 hours.  That would be a 9 min/mile pace.  Compared to my Gate River Run time, this was not good, but it was still a stretch goal.  By the time I hit mile 10 I was feel the endorphins – or the powergels – and my glutes.  But I felt so good I was determined to finish in under 2 hours.  And guess what, I finished in 1:53!!

run info

For my first half, I’d say I did pretty good.  I definitely want to do another one, and soon and I want to get faster.  I know I can!  But until then, it’s time to refocus on #4…

run start

#4 Becker CPA Review –  I applied to sit for my CPA exam a few months ago (I filled out the application over a year ago) but I was still hesitant of initiating the next part… studying.  Once I had my job figured out, I knew I had all my ducks in a row to enable me to put in the grueling 30 hours/week to study.  So I did it.  I signed up for the Becker CPA Review.  I decided the live class is for me and I am enjoying all 4 hours on Tuesdays/Thursdays each on top of the other 20+ hours of at home studying I’m doing supposed to be doing each week.  My first section is Audit and my exam is currently schedule for the beginning of January!  Yikes – yeah reality is starting to set in.  But you know what?  I’m focused.  I’m focused and driven to do it.  The best part is that I have full support and a cheerleading squad from work!

audit book cpa books

I took the night off from studying to #1go to the vet and get Emmie medicine, #2 make something for dinner other than quick meals in my car from point A to point B – tonight’s was sweet potato and chicken with celery and humus as an app, #3 get a gift for a work Christmas Exchange this week, #4 go to the store because I am out of toilet paper and deodorant – two essentials I can’t live without and #5 blog.  🙂

I have some exciting posts coming up, such as Volume 2 of the 12 Days of KitchenAid (here’s last year’s posts) and other crazies as I venture through this exam and watch Emmie grow up. Just in the past few minutes she ate through another toy, got the hiccups and is now passed out right next to me 🙂 rough life for the princess.

I’ll leave with a quote from Nelson Mandela“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” 

Find your passion and make a difference living it out!