Grand Central Market // Los Angeles

While in Los Angeles, we had Chara so most of our activities revolved around the out doors and places that were dog friendly. "Dog Friendly" was a constant search in my Yelp! app. Luckily, L.A. has no shortage of dog friendly places to eat, sip or explore. One of those places was Grand Central Market off S. Broadway. 
Grand Central Market, open since 1917, is just what you would suspect it to be; a huge, open market with vendors and delicious food!
Taken from Eggslut.
What got me there was Eggslut. I say me, because Zachary really could care less where we ate each day. He was very sweet to allow me, my research, blog reading and Yelp! searching be our guide each day. Eggslut, filled with raving reviews on Yelp!, is a "chef driven, gourmet food concept" inspired by a "true love for eggs." It was amazing. Really good. You MUST go if in L.A.
Eggslut is  
I had also heard great things (via Yelp!) about G&B coffee. Everyone raved over their Sweet Latte. Since I set out to try every coffee shop possible and gain 10 lbs while in L.A. I knew I had to try one of these famous Sweet Lattes. Luckily, they have a walk up shop within Grand Central Market.  
It was sweet and creamy and delicious. I wasn't super happy when I saw the size of my cup, though! 8 oz for a $4 coffee isn't a possible everyday splurge but I guess, "When in L.A." right? Looking back through my pictures now I had no idea why I took this picture but thinking back to that day, just 2 days in to our life back in the U.S. after being gone for 5 years, I get it. I was in Los Angeles! Back in America! And look at that Los Angeles street! Haha. I have a whole Draft Post that's "Around L.A." of just random pictures around the city. There's nothing remarkable about any of the pictures except what they made me feel. Being gone for 5 years and not setting foot on American soil in a solid 3 years is alot. This first week back in the U.S. while in L.A. was special. Everything felt very special and nostalgic. Anyways, now you can enjoy a picture of the street.
post signature


Narittaya Resort & Spa // Chiang Mai, Thailand

While in Thailand, we tried to stick to budget friendly accommodation options the majority of our trip. It's something that most people have to do when you travel somewhere for 2+ weeks. We were blessed to find such a gorgeous, comfortable hotel in Bangkok for the price we paid. Truly, I felt lavished and content at the Ibis. I could have slummed it the rest of the trip (which we did the rest of our time in Chiang Mai!) but I'm glad we didn't. Before our trip to Thailand, when booking our accommodation, I had that dream of a private little villa with a private little pool. The kind of dream you see in travel bloggers Instagram posts. I did my research and found a little piece of paradise in Chiang Mail; Narittaya Resort & Spa. It was so much better than I could have expected. Tucked away in Northern Thailand, away from the hustle in bustle of the city but close enough to grab a bite to eat for dinner, is Narrittaya. It gave me all the "Travel Blogger with Luxurious accommodation" feels while being affordable and with in our budget. The grounds were gorgeous,  filled with that lush green you think of when you picture Thailand.
The people were friendly with that Thai hospitality. They treated us like their only guests. Sometimes it felt like we were! It was so quiet and peaceful it was hard to believe the hotel was almost full.

Narittaya has a "slow life philosophy." Check out the intro on their website:

"More than ever before, modern individual is running a unique hurdle race where the speedometer pointer determines its own existence. Detachment from nature and its pace, linked with the seasons and other elements out of our control seem to be a mirage in today’s Western societies. Cities become anonymous and we just hover around submerged in our own peculiar universe of interests. Rush is the motor of all our actions; it is the grand prix kinetics that surrounds all our life, speeding it up, making the most out of every single second, worshipping a speed that does not makes us better.

The Slow Movement does not aim to shake the very foundations of all that have been built to date. It intends to reveal the possibility of living life fully but at a slower pace, where individuals can control and own their existence. The key lies in finding the right pace for each part of our daily race. We should be able to run when it is necessary and cope with the feared stress that too many a time is upon us; however, we should also be able to know when to stop and enjoy an extended present which too often ends up buried by near future duties.

At Narittaya Resort and Spa, we take our environmental and social responsibilities very seriously. Whether it's developing resorts and toiletries using sustainable materials, recycling waste materials, growing our own organic food or preserving ecosystems, we are always prepared to take the initiative. The acronym SLOW LIFE (Sustainable-Local-Organic-Wellness Learning-Inspiring-Fun- Experiences) explains Narittaya’s philosophy. Our aim is to create unforgettable, enlightening experiences that rejuvenate each guest's love of SLOW LIFE. It's about illuminating lives whilst treading lightly on the earth."

We loved that the hotel lent out bikes for us to ride and explore our surroundings. There's nothing like biking through a dirt road with rice paddies on each side (see below). Because of our bikes, we were also able to find Care for Dogs Foundation, just up the street from Narittaya. We biked farther than those little bikes were meant to bike, I'm sure. We even found a State Garden and a Honeybee and Cricket farm.

Every room has a gift bag of Narattaya's house-made lotions, shampoos and conditioners.

The grounds were filled with these gorgeous flowers, that had fallen from the trees. The groundskeepers would gather them and place them in baskets around the property. They made for beautiful baskets of bright yellow flowers.
Every morning we were served delicious, fresh breakfast, inspired by the gardens surrounding us. Narittaya bakes its bread on site, gathers eggs from their chickens and cooks largely from their own garden.  They seek a holistic approach to their whole property, including their food.

The best part of our stay is that we had our own little bungalow. That's our slice of paradise above with the two elephant statues guarding our way.
Our villa hosted a private pool, outdoor tub and verandah. We loved relaxing in the verandah poolside while journaling, reading and blogging.
Inside was clean and simple. The decorations allowed for the surroundings to speak for themselves.
We enjoyed our time laying out and taking the "Polar Plunge" in the pool! I had no idea Northern Thailand would be as cool as it was. It was a little chilly for swimming but perfect for travel.

We highly recommend Narittaya. It was the perfect getaway for us on our trip. After a busy week in Bangkok it was nice to take a few days to rest and recover for the next round of our adventures while in Chiang Mai. If you're looking for a restful retreat, chose Narittaya. While you're there, take a morning or afternoon walk and walk a dog or two, too.
post signature


Easy Homemade Caramel

This is another re-post from last year and the year before. (Ya'll, I don't care. I'm re-posting this baby year after year. Until everyone and their mom is talking about how easy it is to make caramel!) You know when you look back at your first blog posts and think, "What was I thinking?!" All the crazy picture sizes, weird spacing & spelling mistakes. Ya. Well, I had one of those with this post. The entire post was filled with "carmel". Carmel, like Mount Carmel or Carmel, the gorgeous golfing valley. Or Carmel, like Hormel, the Chili brand, but with a "c". It, carmel, was all over this post. In the title, on a picture, in the directions, just everywhere. Looking at the post now, it was the FIRST thing I noticed. "What the what!? Caramel is spelled wrong! What idiot wrote this post?! Oh wait. That was me." How could it be so obvious to me now, first glance, and yet, an entire post & Picmonkey picture was created with the wrong spelling? I'll never understand. Maybe I got confused with the whole "caramel" or "caramal" debate and thought, "Screw it. I'll just call it carmel." But anyways.. without further ado, I present to you the easiest, mind blowing caramel dip ever!

I was beyond surprised to learn this little secret of the perfect dipping caramel from my dear friend Kate.
This stuff is amazing! 
Amazeballs as some, circa 2013, would say!
No more unwrapping thousands of caramel squares and burning it in the microwave!
No more gooped up caramel, impossible to use for dipping!

a crockpot or pot
canned evaporated sweetened condensed milk
(that's all folks!)
Remove labels and lids from your cans.
Place in your crock pot or pot.
Boil for 2 hours.
Remove carefully.
Slowly pull the tab back to open.
Get excited as you see perfect creamy caramel!
Have a pre-party taste.

Suuppppppper easy, right?!

*Special Thanks to my friend Kate for doing/taking these pics & introducing me to this amazing secret of homemade caramel! You're awesome!*
Pin It button on image hover