California Getaway

Hey guys!  I am finally going to give you a recap on my California getaway.  A few months ago I made friends with author Lauren Bird Horowitz, who wrote one of my favorite books of 2015, Shattered Blue!  She is such a great person.  She was having some book events in the area of California where she grew up so she invited us to come out and help her celebrate and help out at one of the events.  My hubby and I came from MN, Ashley @ Socially Awkward Bookworm and her boyfriend (now fiance) came from FL, Kristen Hunt, author of Blonde Eskimo, came from AZ and Zoe Cope, jewelry maker extraordinaire, came from OR.  Zoe has two fantastic jewelry lines: Zoe Cope Jewelry and Birds N Bones Jewelry.

Ethan and I had a long day of travel on Friday, March 3rd.  We live about 45 minutes away from the airport so we left our house super early to get to the airport and get through security.  I’m a very nervous flyer so I feel more comfortable having plenty of time between security and boarding the plane, even if that means sitting and waiting for awhile.

And we had a 3 hour layover in Denver so we did lots of people watching.  Lots of Shattered Blue pictures taken as well.

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We finally landed in California and met up with Zoe to drive the rental car back to Bird’s family’s guest house where we would all be staying.  The three of us were the last to arrive so it was really great to be able to spend the rest of the day hanging out with everybody!  Bird had our room all decorated with the awesome Supernatural swag that she got for me!  She is also a screenwriter for the CW so she was able to get all of this awesome stuff for Ashley and I. In addition to the swag, she got us these awesome body pillows!  Sam on one side, Dean on the other.  I had to ship everything home and my box just arrived on Monday so I was super excited to get everything.
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She also had an awesome sign on our door welcoming us and of course, some awesome socks for me to use for all of our Ninjaottersox group sock Sunday photos!

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And Kristen was such a sweetie!  She got us a couple of things too!  She is such an awesome person!  The bag is GINORMOUS and the Dorbz from Guardians of the Galaxy is so cute!

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On Saturday we got up early and headed in to San Francisco to go sightseeing.  Our first stop was Alcatraz!  It was one of the coolest things ever!  We just made it to the ferry on time.  It was pretty rainy and foggy out on the water but it made the island that much more eerie.  Bird, Ashley and I had to take our pictures with our matching talisman bracelets and otter rings!

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We listened to a fascinating presentation by one of the park rangers about the big escape in 1962.  In the above middle and right photos, they had the cells replicated the way it was when the three people escaped.  They created dummy heads out of concrete and paint to make it look as though someone was sleeping in the bed.  And they used spoons with the tops broken off to dig out through the wall.  So interesting and if you haven’t heard about the escape of ’62, check out this info here!

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On the ferry on the way back to the mainland, the fog had cleared up and we had some great views of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge.  Despite the rain it was a fantastic day and we saw some incredible things!

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After Alcatraz, we spent some time walking around and went to Ghiradelli Square.  We had lunch at a fantastic place called Buena Vista Cafe which is known for the Irish coffee.  We drove through Haight-Ashbury.

On Sunday morning we got up and Bird toured us around the Stanford University campus.  It was gorgeous!  I love all of the palm trees everywhere and the buildings were stunning.

After our stroll around Stanford we headed into Menlo Park and walked around the town a bit before the event at Kepler’s Books that afternoon.  We walked through the farmer’s market and stopped in Feldman’s Books.  It was such a cool bookstore!  There are two rooms and in between them is an outdoor reading patio.  So awesome!  I ended up scoring two older mass market editions for my Outlander collection.

Kepler’s Books is located just down the road so we headed there to set up for the event.

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We had all kinds of swag to give out to attendees and Zoe also had a table of her jewelry for sale.  She designed an awesome set of pieces inspired by Shattered Blue so it was really cool to have her there with her jewelry.

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From left to right: Zoe, Kristen, Bird (back), and Ashley

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Swag table!  Posters, bookmarks, buttons, and stickers!

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Zoe Cope Jewelry (see her website for the Shattered Blue collection)

We had a great turnout for the event!  She had a special promotion for middle and high school kids who came to the event could get a free copy of the book.

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It was an incredible event meeting all of these people coming to see Bird talk about her awesome book!  I loved being there and being able to help her out!

That evening we went out for a fabulous Chinese dinner in Palo Alto at Tai Pan.  The atmosphere was awesome and the food was to die for!

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On Monday Ethan and I headed back home to MN.  We had such a great time with everyone and we can’t wait until we can all get together again.

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3/4 of our Ninjaottersox gang! Ashley (The Comedian), Me (The Eskimo) and Bird (The Author)

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Ash and I before the Kepler’s event

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Bird and Zoe

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Kristen and Bird

And this post would not be complete without a few photos of Ninja, Bird’s adorable and sweet rescue dog!  She is the cutest thing ever and so much fun to play with!

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And there were a few swag items that I designed for the Shattered Blue events that didn’t make it in time so Bird sent those to me separately and I got the package on Thursday night!

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The tote features one of Noa’s poems from the book.  And of course she had to send me more socks and look at how amazing they are!  Otters! Mermaid! And glow-in-the-dark manatees in space!  Ashley ended up staying longer in California so they got to spend a day in Monterey and went to the aquarium so she got me this awesome otter bookmark!  So cute!

So that is the full recap of our trip!  I am really looking forward to whenever we can all get together again!

North Shore 2015 Vacation

From June 11-14 Ethan and I had a mini vacation in one of our favorite locations: the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota.  I grew up going there a lot with my family and he also did with his family.  The air is so much more fresh and clean.  It’s more peaceful and relaxing.  From the moment you hit Duluth on the drive up, you feel the weight of your normal life lift off of your shoulders.  Take a deep breath of that fresh, lake air and you instantly feel refreshed.  Although the trip was shorter than we would have liked, it was definitely what we needed!  On Saturday we met up with my parents for dinner.  They have been looking at buying property up there so they were up with a realtor for the weekend.  All in all we had a great time and are already looking forward to our next trip up.  Here are a few of my favorite photos from the trip.

Weekend Up North

A couple of weeks ago my parents asked us if we wanted to go up to Lake Superior for the first weekend of May for a quick little getaway.  Of course we jumped on that opportunity because we LOVE the north shore.  We drove up Friday night after work to Tofte, MN to stay at Chateau Leveaux.  We stopped for a late dinner at a little cafe not too far from the hotel.  The food was okay but we probably won’t eat there again in the future.

Coho CafeWhen we got to the hotel it was too dark to see what kind of view of the lake we got.  We were going to get up early on Saturday to make the most of the day while we were up there.  My dad’s clock was off so we ended up getting up at 6 am.  That was okay though because we got to spend a little time exploring around the hotel shoreline, which was really awesome.  The lake was so calm it looked like glass and you couldn’t tell where the water ended and the sky began on the horizon.

Chateau LeveauxAfter a little exploring, we headed north up to Grand Marais.  My parents had some business to attend to so Ethan and I spent some time on the pebble beach of the harbor looking for agates.

Grand Marais 1My parents are in the process of looking for some type of property up north so we drove up to some of the inland lakes at some properties that were for sale.  We went up the Arrowhead Trail to Tom Lake and then cut over to the Gunflint Trail.PANO_20150502_115036

For lunch we stopped at Trail Center on the Gunflint Trail and had a delicious lunch.  After driving around for awhile longer we decided to head back to Grand Marais to do a little shopping and walking around before the shops closed.  Then we went to the new brewery in town to celebrate Ethan’s birthday early.  Grand Marais 3After the brewery we walked around Grand Marais some more.  They have a really cool school called the North House Folk School where you can take all different kinds of classes like building outdoor ovens, boats, basket weaving… So many different things!  It’s right on the harbor and next to the campground so we walked through the campground after that.  Grand Marais 2For dinner we decided to head south to Lutsen and head up the mountain a little bit where the ski resorts are.  We ate at Moguls Grille & Tap Room.  I was still feeling really full from the amazing burger I had at lunch at Trail Center so I wanted something light.  Ethan and I both ordered the smoked chicken Caesar salad and it was incredible!

IMG_20150502_190857The chicken had some sort of seasoning that we couldn’t quite place but it was so delicious!  Definitely the best chicken Caesar I’ve ever had.  Up the mountain a little ways is an entrance to the Superior Hiking Trail so we went for a quick little hike to see the Poplar River.

Poplar River 1Poplar River 2I loved the sound of the roaring water and it was so beautiful!  It’s incredible how powerful water is.  On the way back to the hotel we passed by the Cascade River falls so we got out quick to see it.

Cascade RiverWe ended off a great day down by the lake with some beer and wine, relaxing under the moonlight.  My mom had a meeting back home at 1 pm today so we had to leave right away in the morning.  But we had a wonderful little trip in one of our favorite places in the world.

Ethan and I will be heading back up north the second weekend of June and I couldn’t be more excited to go!