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I'm a gal who needs to get places. Client meetings, photo shoots, yoga, dance class, events - you name it and I'm probably on my way there. Having since left the city for the East Bay, my commute has changed in every possible way. Before, I'd call a car, take the bus, or just huff it. Long walk across the city? Been there, done that. Sit on the bus for an hour to move three miles? Unfortunately, yes. Drive myself there, though? That's one I didn't really touch. That is until I moved to the East Bay. 

Now my preferred mode of transportation is almost always the car. And, I'll be honest, before my move, I forgot about the joys of driving. Get there faster? Almost always. Heater on my feet? Oh yeah. Zen out with a podcast or two? For sure. Now, imagine adding in seat warmers, a compact size perfect for city parking, and bright LED headlights to light up night drives like never before. That, my friends, is known as driving with Toyota. As you know, I've been partners with the brand since late last year. Over the course of our time together, I've had the pleasure of testing and driving a handful of cars. Each time, it's always so much fun. This time around, we worked together to celebrate Chinese New Year, which is a really amazing time in the Bay Area. (For all you fact fiends out there, San Francisco's Chinatown is the largest one outside of Asia!). Needless to say, it was a good time out. 








Toyota, a sponsor of San Francisco's Chinatown invited me to celebrate the occasion in their new 2019 Corolla Hatchback XSE. It was the perfect car to drive around town. Given its smaller frame, I was able to squeeze into spots that I, otherwise, wouldn't have been able to fit in. But don't be fooled. Despite its smaller size, the XSE packed a whole 'lotta punch. But, in a very fuel-friendly way, ha. I drove it around for a week and by the end of the week still didn't need to fill-up.

Other things that I loved included the seat warmers - which I know I already called out, but that's how much I loved them. (It's been cooooold in the Bay, so the heat from the seat made all the difference.) And, before Daylight Saving Time hit, we were having some dark nights. I typically hate driving at night, but with the XSE's LED head and tail lights, I always felt seen (not to mention, I could see for lengths away!). All, in all, it was tough having to say goodbye to my car for the week. I mean, we went everywhere together - from a Chinese New Year dinner at Mister Jiu's to a dumpling pick up at my new-local favorite, Shan Dong, me and XSE were like this (*fingers crossed*).

Not to worry, though. Our week together ended with a bang - a literal firework and drum pounding bang. I finally had a chance to see the famed San Francisco Chinese New Year parade in person. And, boy, was it fun. Thanks to Toyota, I went here, there, and everywhere around town. Can't wait to see where we go next!
Special thanks to Toyota for partnering with me! 
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I think that in another life, I surely lived in a beautiful country home, alongside yards and yards of delicious grapes. I've become quite the wine gal and have been so lucky to experience many beautiful tasting rooms, wineries and such in wine country. I recently spent a weekend Healdsburg with a group of friends and it was such a treat to escape the fog and take an easy jaunt across the bridge. I always tell my SF folks that wine country is closer than you realize, but leaves you feeling like you're more than just a handful of miles away. Because there was a group of us, we all stayed at Two Thirty-Five Luxury Suites, which is in the heart of downtown Healdsburg. Friends, I cannot tell you enough what a gem of a place this was. Not only were we walking distance from everything (restaurants, tasting rooms, shopping, etc.), but we also each had our own private space to call our own. Intrigued? Read more after the jump.







Two Thirty-Five is made up of all three bedroom suites, with a full kitchen and living room. Honestly, it feels like you've walked into a giant home - all the amenities you could need in hotel form. Because we came in a group of 6 (3 couples), we were each able to gather around for wine and cheers when we wanted to, while also being able to retreat back to our own room for a bit of privacy when we needed to. The space felt spacious and intimate all at the same time. It's the perfect pick for families, friends, or couples.

Two Thirty-Five is also just down the way from the best places to eat, shop, and, of course, drink wine. We had the pleasure of visiting a handful of tasting rooms during our visit (Banshee, Grapeseed, Dutcher Crossing - just to name a few!) and we filled our bellies with delicious meals (at Valette and Studio Barndiva). I'll be sharing more on the eat and drink portions of Healdsburg after this post :)

Summer is *almost* at an end, but because we're so close to wine country, a weekend trip any time of the year isn't out of the question. If you're looking for a place to get away be sure to add Two Thirty-Five to your list - you won't regret it.

Speical thanks to Two Thirty-Five for the beautiful stay, as well as Stephanie Hopkins for the wonderful photos!

Don't forget to head back soon for MORE on "Where to Eat & Drink" in the next post! 
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I was asked by Carusele to participate in the #LuckySummer campaign, sponsored by Save Mart. Although I have been compensated, all opinions are my own.

The more time I spend at home, the more time I love trying new recipes and putting my kitchen to use. I've gotten pretty good at all of the breakfast and brunch dishes, so have been concentrating on nailing the perfect meals for entertaining now that summer is on the horizon. One thing I love about summer is all of the summer barbeques! Though, I'll admit that I'm usually attending a BBQ rather than hosting one... until now! For the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, I was asked by Carusele to share my grilling chops and recipe ideas for the season, by participating in the #LuckySummer campaign, sponsored by Save Mart. But don't worry, even though I have been compensated, as always, all opinions are my own! Derrick and I were excited to get some pre-4th practice in with a few easy grilling options for veggies and meat. After the jump, see what we made, how we made it, and grab some tips for your own Fourth of July fiesta.



 





When it comes to summer BBQ's, anything goes. I, personally, love to mix and match dishes and think that the more dishes to snack on, the better. For this particular pre-4th practice, Derrick and I decided to go heavy on the side dishes (veggies, fruits, appetizers) and focus on one main, that being Angus beef boneless ribeye steaks. Lucky is one of the only grocers in the Bay area to carry certified Angus beef. To be honest, with so many different meat options available at Lucky's, it was tough to narrow it down, but I find ribeye to be tender, juicy and really versatile. We stocked up on a ton of fruits - watermelon, grapes, cherries, and peaches - which are all great for snacking, as well as quite a few veggies that we wanted to pop on the grill - bell peppers, corn, and onions. Even better, living in California, most produce in Lucky is local! And, because I believe no meal is complete with a little vino, we grabbed a bottle of Dark Horse red to enjoy with our meal.

When deciding what to do with our meat, we had a few options - marinate the meat with teriyaki or BBQ sauce, season the steaks with a variety of seasonings, or make a sauce. We decided to go with a fun chimichurri sauce with a little kick! For our recipe, we blended 2 garlic cloves, 3/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, 1/4 cup of cilantro, 1 cup of parsley, 1/2 cup of olive oil, and 1/3 (or 1/4) cup of red wine vinegar. I ended up adding in a bit more crushed red peppers and less red wine vinegar to make our sauce on the spicier side. We also pre-seasoned our meat with garlic, black pepper, and salt to taste before dropping them on the grill. The steaks don't take long to grill - just 12-15 minutes and they're good to go, depending on the heat of your grill. If serving to a large group, I recommend slicing the steaks into long strips and serving the sauce on the side so everyone can sauce up to their liking. Another fun tip - after you slice your steaks into strips, you can also serve them alongside warm tortillas for more meal options!

It was easy to find everything we needed at Lucky's - from fun red tablecloths and red and blue bowls and plates to set the festive mood to all our meat and grilling needs! Safe to say that Derrick and I are ready for the big day!

Special thanks to Lucky's for partnering on this post!

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I grew up as a Niners & Giants fan. My grandma would (and actually still does, lol) watch hours and hours of baseball - it's her favorite sport. Of course, her favorite team is the Giants, so I pledged my allegiance early on. The same goes for the Niners. My parents watched a ton of football when I was growing up. I can still hear my moms screams, cheering on the Niners whenever they were on. Like every team, our Niners have had their up and downs. These last five years have definitely been a rollercoaster for the team, but I think they're finally back on the up and up. I got this Booger Kids sweatshirt years ago, and it's one I plan to hold onto until I have kids of my own. They'll obviously be Niners and Giants fans, too, so they're about to hit the jackpot when I hand over all my "vintage" goodies.




Uniqlo Jeans; Adidas Shoes; Booger Kids Sweatshirt; Asos Puffer

Photos by: Rogelio 
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