Crystal Cove State Park is one of my most favorite places and somewhere that we always try to squeeze in a trip to when we’re back in California. It’s reminiscent of family vacations and high school beach trips with my best girls, and for those reasons and more, has just always felt like home. We majorly lucked out with 80 degree weather and SUN (basically unheard of on the coast in June). We picnicked right on the beach, taught Kevin how to boogie board (sadly no photo evidence), took Kevin for his first Ruby’s Shake Shack experience, and generally got extremely sunburnt. Days like this one make me a little bummed that we live so far away from the ocean, but I’m so grateful for places like Crystal Cove where I can get my beach fix every year :)
Our main reason for going to Tucson when we did was for the wedding of two friends that we worked with during our time at the U of A, Celina and Iran. I’m so happy we were able to fit this into our trip, and we were so honored to share in this day with them. Their wedding had the best food ever (catered by the owner of one of the best Tucson restaurants), the best music ever (80s and 90s jams), the best cupcakes ever (Cup Quequitos), the sweetest little succulent centerpieces and papel picado place cards, and just all around was a great celebration of their relationship and future life together. So happy we could make it; congratulations Celina and Iran!
I am so glad we were able to squeeze in a few days in the Arizona sunshine before our annual trip to California this year. It’s hard to believe, but we haven’t been back to Tucson since we left over three years ago…we always intended to visit sooner, but I’m happy we finally made it work and hope we can visit more often moving forward.
Going back to Tucson after three years away was a lot like moving back to Omaha after our time in Arizona. So many new things. There are cocktail bars! Coffee shops! Farm-to-table restaurants! A streetcar! Downtown Tucson is actually a destination now, and the food and drink scene has completely taken off, so we were obviously in heaven. I know places always seem a million times cooler when you’re traveling and/or do not live there, but Tucson has really got it goin’ on.
Aside from spending time with old friends from grad school and our various jobs there, we stuck mostly to what we do best: eating and drinking, with a little bit of hiking mixed in. Below, a giant photo dump of our trip with tons of delicious food, visits to new breweries, mountain views and of course, a couple of selfies.
Tucson, we love you a lot and miss you and your people like crazy. Hope to be back soon for more sunshine and the best sunsets in the whole wide world.
Tucson, much like Omaha, is probably not high on your list of places to visit, but I’d recommend it, and not just because of my nostalgia for it. It’s a blue-collar town, a college town, but also becoming a great food town, developing an awesome brewery scene, and always has been an amazing place for hiking and cycling. A few of our old favorites plus some new spots we hit on this visit, all worth checking out, whether Tucson is a stop on your journey or is your final destination:
old favorites: tucson tamale (the best in the country) | eegee’s | buffet bar & crock pot (don’t ask, just go, and make sure you’re there for happy minute) | hub restaurant & ice creamery | seis kitchen | cartel coffee lab | la estrella bakery (get some tortillas to take home)
new(er) to drink: borderlands brewing co. | r bar (you’ll never see anywhere more red) | tough luck club (basement of reilly pizza) (ask for the bartender’s choice!) | good oak bar | proper | stella coffee | iron john’s brewing (well-balanced IPAs)
How was everyone’s long weekend? Memorial Day to me always seems to mark the unofficial start of summer, so we were pretty bummed that both Saturday and Sunday were cloudy, rainy and kind of cold. After an uneventful Saturday spent whining about the weather, we decided it was #sundayfunday or bust. That morning, we headed to Railcar for brunch, because three-day weekends demand day drinking. Bloody Mary’s have slowly been growing on me, and I really liked Railcar’s — it had a great smoky flavor. Our food was great, too; there was even “bread service” in the form of a croissant with butter. Yes please.
We spent the rest of Sunday morning and afternoon in a brunch coma, but recovered enough to mix up a pitcher of Strawberry Pimm’s Cups, which were super delicious and I’d highly recommend if you’re looking for a light and fruity summer cocktail (which should be everyone?). Fueled by our cocktails, we went on a closet clean out and organizing rampage and got rid of and donated tons of old magazines and clothes. Downsizing is my love language.
Once we’d finally worked up an appetite again, we made this Mango & Red Pepper Orzo Salad for dinner. It’s full of tons of spring and summer veggies, plus some mango and mint for sweetness, and chickpeas for protein. We skipped the dressing in the recipe and just used a goddess dressing we had in the fridge. A really great combo and a salad we’ll be making on repeat this summer. It’s held up well over the last few days, too, and made great lunch leftovers with some grilled chicken mixed in.
On Sunday we woke up and made coffee and had bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, which we picked up at Costco the day before. I’ve always enjoyed smoked salmon at restaurants but wasn’t sure how the quality of the Costco version would be — we were super impressed and will definitely buy it again as it makes for a great breakfast!
While we had breakfast, we baked a loaf of bread that had been proofing and rising since the night before. We used Jim Lahey’s no-knead method, letting it rise for about 15 hours, then forming it into a ball, and then letting it rise again for another 2 hours right before baking. It’s a foolproof method that just requires a little bit of planning ahead to pull off. I love how hands-off it is for how delicious the bread tastes. Now that I know how easy it is, we’ll definitely be making our own bread more often and experimenting with different additions to the dough.
Once our bread finished baking and we let it cool long enough to sneak a quick taste, we noticed the sun was coming out and decided to enjoy some time outside while it lasted. We headed out to Lake Zorinsky and walked/ran the loops around both sides of the lake, about 8 miles total. It was unexpectedly sunny the entire time and we did not wear sunscreen. I’ve been feeling pretty sad lately with all the clouds so the vitamin D and endorphins were great therapy. The trail itself was prettier than I remember it being the couple times we’ve been out there, and I think it’ll be a great place for some long runs during marathon training.
We were pretty hungry after our run so we made a quick stop at the store for burgers and pretzel buns and cooked those up for lunch once we got home. It’s also not officially summer until you have a giant watermelon taking up approximately one fourth of your fridge. Also, the Steigl Grapefruit Radler is everything.
We spent the rest of the afternoon doing yard work – we were able to get both the front and back yards mowed and raked and some weeds taken care of. Yard work is decidedly not my favorite part about being a homeowner, but it also feels so rewarding to have it done, and makes sitting outside on cool summer nights that much more appealing. We were able to get everything done in time to enjoy a couple more hours of warmth and sunshine outside while we read and had dessert.
Hope everyone had a nice weekend!
Three years ago we packed up nearly everything we owned into exactly twenty boxes, weighed down our Corolla with clothes for a week and a few essentials, and drove halfway across the country, from Tucson to Omaha. It took a long time – a really long time – for this move to feel like anything remotely close to the right decision for our little family. That first year here brought some of the lowest lows and made us question why we’d left everything behind like we had – wonderful friends, stable jobs, 350 days of sunshine. But slowly but surely, things started to turn a corner. One by one, things have fallen into place – which is to say, we worked hard and were patient. New jobs that were the right fit for both of us. A house, a space that is all our own. New friendships. Things have been looking up for awhile now, and I’m so glad we stuck it out and that we’re here. I have no idea where life will take us, or if we’ll be here forever, but for now, it feels good to call this home.