Utilizing a day in Boston to the fullest

My aunt recently visited from California and we decided to do a day trip to Boston, Massachusetts. It was her first time on the East Coast and I wanted to make sure the day was filled with good food, history, art and classic Bostonian things you just can’t miss. Since we only had a day I did my research in advance on restaurant locations and museums. This was my third trip to the lovely city and wanted to try something a little different than the normal larger museums that one usually would go to when visiting. I was pleasantly surprised with the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum and all of it’s beauty. More on that below. 🙂

We will start with the funnest item…food! I’m a huge Yelper and since I travel a lot I feel like Yelp is that all knowing friend that gets me to the best/coolest restaurants that normal tourists may pass by unknowing of it’s awesomeness. I am excited to say that our meals did not disappoint. We ate at The Parish Cafe on Boylston St. I had the Turkey wrap with Havarti cheese and Cranberry Chipotle sauce. My friends it was just the right amount of crispy tortilla with warm turkey and melted cheese on the inside. Then to add in the Cranberry Chipotle sauce that had a dab of sour cream?! Truly something that I will be dreaming about in only my best of dreams.  Can’t forget about the potato salad- a classic that was the perfect amount of dill and mayo – light light light, which is in my opinion the only way to do a potato salad!

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After lunch we headed to the Boston Public Library. I had seen this building in films and had always been curious about the interior. I really think this was one of the highlights of the whole day – what a GEM of a space! It’s also a FREE and fun touristy thing to do – so be sure and make the time to head out there. Inside you will find Art, Books galore, lovely architecture and a classic IV league feel inside of the reading rooms.

 

We loved the guardian Lions who greeted you as you walked up to the second floor! Not to mention the beautiful display of Marble that dressed the room.

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Remember that IV league study room feel I mentioned? This is it. Isn’t it just what you picture when thinking of the PERFECT spot to read or study? I feel like I could write a book in this room if given the right amount of inspiration and cups of coffee. IMG_3997

These lamps are everything.

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Don’t forget to peek outside to see the lovely Courtyard, It can be a little crowded but it’s worth your time to wait for a space so you can enjoy the water feature and amazing courtyard that surrounds you!

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From here we caught the Train and made our way to the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum.

Oh my gosh WHAT A COURTYARD!! This courtyard truly made me feel like I was somewhere far away  – Morocco or Greece? Maybe a blend of the two! The foliage and five stories when you look up are truly breathtaking.

 

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Looking down…

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Auntie and I!

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Our final stop before heading out was Instagram worthy – Mike’s Pastry for a famous Cannoli. Oh my gosh people…this is a must.

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We did hear from some locals that Modern Pastry down the street is equally as impressive – so take your choice – heck maybe try both! You will find TONS of flavors to chose from and even at an affordable price. ( Mine was a standard cannoli with Chocolate Chips – amazing.)

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Hard not to miss the Boston Freedom Trail as you make your way around town! Follow the red line all throughout town for an amazing walk through history around Boston. Cameron and I did the full trail the last time we visited and really loved it. Be sure and bring your walking shoes though – it will take you a few hours to get through the whole thing!

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You will pass by many lovely historic churches as well as several graveyards dated back to the 1600’s! A lot of these have famous people buried in them as well – amazing to see these surrounded by modernization and large buildings everywhere. Truly the town built itself around them.

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Boston is a must do If visiting the East Coast. It’s filled with amazing history, fabulous restaurants and cool/hip villages. I suggest at least two days to get a good feel for the area but 3-4  days if you want to hit up some of the amazing museums here. History buffs- do this trip!

Happy Traveling my friends!

 

Mindy

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A Bathroom Remodel in The Tower District – Fresno, CA

Some “before and afters” of a recent bathroom remodel I designed. A small space that was outdated and in need of some help is now functioning for the client and updated while maintaining its historic character of the home.

🌿Design Advice:
Bathrooms should stay as minimal as possible when it comes to extra things lying around or even too much decor. Try to stick to light colors if you have a small space so that it appears larger. Keep your ceiling white so that it draws your eyes up and doesn’t leave you feeling too enclosed. Lastly, try to maintain the character of the design and era of your home!

BEFORE:

AFTER:

Warm Central California to the New England Coastline

It’s hard to fully put into words my current state. It’s somewhere between euphoric and freaking out completely. I am sitting here in our new home that we purchased in Milford, Connecticut. It’s raining outside and just two weeks ago I was sitting in my home in Fresno, California melting from the 100+ temperatures. It’s green here…humid..and the weather changes almost hourly. Maybe it’s just the “newness” of it. Maybe it really is just the nice weather…but I’m loving this gorgeous State so far.

Cameron and I started talking about dreams and goals this past January. We both have an adventurous heart and have just beent waiting to get the right opportunity to JUMP. I knew something was coming for awhile – I kept trying to make it happen on my end. But each time it fell through. It just wasn’t right. Come March Cameron got a call from a recruiter from New York. He was looking for Software Developers like Cameron and was curious about where he might be interested in living. Cameron immediately told me that this recruiter was different than the others and had a good feeling. A few days later we stood in the kitchen contemplating the next huge phase of our life. Cameron asked…what do you think about Connecticut?Immediately I looked up the State and dived into trivia and history as well as nearby States that I would want to visit. It seemed like a fun option that I had never considered! Cameron had recently received another job offer in New Mexico – the complete opposite of New England. We had our hearts set on it and were ready to go. But it took one flight and week out on the New England Coastline to see where our hearts would truly lead us.

Fast forward to July 2017 and a million crazy stories in between. We now reside in the quaint town of Milford, CT. It is located off the coastline and has a Christopher Columbus statue and old Canon’s in the downtown. Next to that is a duck pond (that’s actually the name), a waterfall and a bridge that any troll could only wish that he could live under. The town has a sweet warm smell and a slight fishy scent of the ocean. This town was purchased in the 1600’s by some English settlers. The Boston Post Road which connects NYC to Boston actually runs through it and happens to be right down my street. There are a few local beaches, a harbor and some restaurants we’ve been frequenting. I like Milford. I like it’s history. I like it’s trees. I like it’s pace.

We had exactly 6 weeks to find a home before Cameron started his new job. We had put an offer on one we had seen during our visit but of course the sellers decided to keep their house. Who does this?! A few days later a historic home came on the market and our realtor Tina sent it over to us unknowing of how much we would love this house. The house was built in 1795 and is considered the style of a New England Farmhouse. It is situated on 2 acres and has trees and fireflies my imagination could only dream about. We have a forest in the backyard and a hammock that is held between two hundred year old trees. It has original wide plank flooring that has wear and tear and dust stuck in the middle of years and years of life in between. The windows are original and the glass is hard to see through. The floors are a little uneven and the staircase curves in a way I’ve never seen a staircase curve.

I love this house.

My mind has been visually designing constantly since we moved in. I walk from room to room and space plan and see how I can keep the authenticity while adding my own Modern/California style to the home. There is so much to do and so much to write. I can’t wait to share my journey in New England with you.

5 Money Saving Tips when Traveling in San Francisco

My boyfriend, Cameron, and I recently visited San Francisco and found some really cool cost effective things to do in the area. We both had one bucket item each that we wanted to cross off of our list and the rest I planned using my Lonely Planet San Francisco Pocket Guidebook, Yelp for restaurants, and Pinterest for cool local finds.

I believe that research is the most important step on getting the most bang for your buck. Finding the hidden gems that will make your trip unique and memorable especially on tight time constraints. Another thing I can’t forget to mention is to be sure and leave your trip open for change. If you walk by a cool book shop or restaurant and end up spending hours there – fantastic! These finds are yours and are part of exploring a city to it’s full degree.  So let’s start our money saving tips shall we?

  1. Guidebooks. I’m a big fan of paperback. Call me an old lady, but there is something about grabbing a book out of my purse and circling/crossing things off my lists. Let’s face it- your phone may die at one point because you’ve been taking all those amazing photos! Grab your map in your guidebook and voila- saved! Mark up your book, highlight the shit out of it. Make it yours. As you travel, make notes in it on items you loved and items you hated. I’m not a huge souvenir person, but this guidebook will serve as one for you. We found a list of museums and were able to hit up two art museums which offered dual entry for the price of one! This cost us $12.00 each for 4 hours of entertainent. Keep it on the bookshelf marked up with all the notes that make it yours. The more coffee stains on the pages the better. Collect them and reference them at dinner parties or simply as good reminders of places you have enjoyed visiting.
  2. Yelp. Yes, I am the girl who makes there friends wait before we pick a place to eat because I’m furiously researching who had the best eggs benedict in the area. I have found Yelp to save me time and time again while traveling. It may be a little extra work  (and patience from your friends), but you are going to get the ability to have that local choice without knowing a soul in the city. Check out the pictures- look at the online menu WITH prices. Does this fit in your budget?  Once you nail out your spot- call in advance for reservations. Because we called in advance at one location we found out there was a 45 minute wait that would cause us to miss our reservations for a show later that evening. I was able to hop on yelp while in the Uber, find a nearby place that was cool, had good reviews, and less of a wait time which allowed us to do all the things we had hoped to do on that epic night. In our case we only had one night so… research my friends – research!
  3. Transportation. The Bart/Muni/Uber are your friend. In a big city with shitty drivers that end up making you yourself a shitty driver, public transport is truly your best option. Don’t even get me started on the prices for parking – good laaawwd help us all! Depending on your time constraints, choosing which mode of transport to use in different scenarios will be your trickiest part. Map out your day, see which areas are nearby each other, than plan your day around those parts of town. For example on day 1 we did Museums – Golden Gate Park is massive and is a wonderful place to get lost in. Then we headed to Legion of Honor Museum which is a clear shot using the buses (Muni). We ended that side of the city by hitting up Lands End and the Sutro Baths to see the sunset over the ocean. By this time it was late, so we used an Uber to get back to our hotel which was located in between Union Square and JapanTown. Breaking down those costs for you – $2.00 each to ride the muni (show them your ticket when you re-board the bus) and then $6.00 to get from Lands End to our hotel (we use the ride share option on Uber – we are 100% cool splitting the costs with someone else!). That my friends is a total of $10.00 total for you and someone else to get across town when parking generally runs $20-30.00. Nighttime I generally always Uber or use the Bart – safest mode of transportation and the quickest, but during the day I can not stress the beauty of paying $2.00 to ride around the city. I’ve done this several times and it’s been so cool to just hop on and off while you see neat things you have never visited before. Of course the best mode of transportation is your feet. WALKING! Something about setting out and exploring with only a end destination in mind is super exciting. The second day we walked to Japan Town for breakfast, then headed to St. Mary’s Cathedral to see the epic architecture and modern art, walked to nearby City Hall and went to every level and stood in awe of the grandness of such a huge and beautiful building as well as watched the twenty or so couples getting married at the same time. A sight to behold! We then headed over to Union Square, checked out “minted” a find that I found on Pinterest for local best shops in the area – check it out! Walked to Chinatown and found ourselves pretty zonked from all the walking. Insert Uber here — Uber took us to Pier 39 ($5.85 ride) which lead us to bikes for rent which leads me to my next tip.
  4. Bucket List items: Bucket list items are not always jumping out of an airplane and spending half your months salary on doing so. If you do a little research you can find cool things to do in the area that might fit your budget better! If traveling with a partner or friend – each of you chose one item you MUST do. By doing this you both will leave your trip feeling accomplished regardless of what roadblocks (it can definintly happen!) you may face. For myself It was riding a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. One of the cheapest things you can do are items that use your body for activity. For example, hiking, biking, kayaking, etc. Whenever I travel I research the area for local State or National Parks so I can get one nature day- try this out! We were both able to rent a bike for $8.00 an hour each and get across the bridge from Pier 39 in 2 hours total. That is $16.00 each for 2 hours of one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever done. Please please do this if in the area – see the city in a whole new perspective and even get to enjoy some time in Sausalito. Cameron’s bucket list item was having noodles from Chinatown in a “To Go” container. 🙂 Cam had never done this and he has always wanted to get that little To Go container like they show in the movies. Simple- but so fantastic when you are in a huge Chinatown in a bustling city! Cam’s bucket list was $4.99 and worth every penny. Big or small- think outside the box! What’s on your bucket list for your next trip?
  5. Hotel/AirBnB: We stayed at The Hotel Majestic which is the oldest hotel in San Francisco and loaded with history. I was shocked when I read that it would only cost us $100.00 to stay at a cool ass hotel with a fireplace and suite! One of the biggest items here that I need to mention is traveling during the off season. We traveled in February and this cut the cost by about $60-$90.00. We also decided to only go for one evening which by researching in advance we already knew the things we really wanted to do, kept us busy and efficiently allowed us to do a ton of items within just 48 hours. I personally use hotels.com for hotel points, but I also suggest expedia and Airbnb. Both are fantastic!

If you can’t get yourself to do Public transportation, I highly suggest researching cheap areas around your hotel to park. I did a little research and found out that our hotel actually had the cheapest parking and it included Valet – heeeyyyy! If you left your car in the garage and still did public transportation in the city you will be saving yourself a lot of extra parking garage fees that can add up quick. I did find that the State Parks had free parking and Golden Gate Park had free parking alongside the roads inside the park. It’s one of the most visited placed in the city though and weekends do get very busy and hard to find parking spots- so be aware to leave yourself plenty of time for finding a spot!

I hope that these suggestions help guide you in your next adventure to the Bay and help you cut some costs in your pocket book. The more you save the more adventures you can do in the future! Happy traveling my friends.

Wine and Chocolate

My dad is an adventurer.

He is the man who hikes every weekend. Who creates the “hiking club” at a low income school where most of the kids have never even been to the mountains. He loves nature. He knows nature. When we hike together, he questions things. What is this plant? Where does this go? Let’s try going on this road, maybe we will find something that no one has seen before! He seeks out adventure and lures those who are with him along. That passion he has…rolled right on over to his little girl, me.

Hiking. Something that I did as a kid with my dad.  Something that I took up again, right when things started getting bad in my marriage. When I hike I feel God. I see God. I am the most alone I could be, yet feel full and satisfied and not in need of anything or anyone.

My dad is a role model to me in how you can chose to live life. He chooses adventure and knowledge. He chooses to know more and see more and understand himself more through nature. I can see God shining through him most when he is up in the mountains on a dirt path with trees surrounding him and his dog, Buttercup by his side. A true sight to behold!

Today my dad and I adventured to some wine trails in the county side outside of the suburban town that we live in instead of a usual hike. We had wine. We had chocolate. We even met a real cheetah! We drank and we drank some more. We talked about life. About travel. About our relationships. As I grow up and know him more, I see how much I really am like him. It’s interesting how your family seems to understand or get you most. Sometimes I feel like I don’t even have to explain things to him, he just GETS IT. Its nice to be known and understood. I hope I find a guy like my dad someday. Who loves nature and God. Who loves adventure. Who loves me.

Five wineries and a unknown amount of glasses of wine later he took me out to dinner and then back to my home where my Lincoln was waiting.  Lincoln got his daily walk…and master got a tummy ache that she inflicted upon herself with the large amounts of alcohol and chocolate she consumed prior.  Lesson learned.

Tea, Scones and Public Transportation

About a month ago I got the opportunity to go to Europe. A dream of mine since I was a very little girl. I flew from LA to London to meet one of my best friends who is currently living over there for school. The flight was a good 11.5 hours, the cool news was a made a friend on my plan ride over! A fellow dog lover and adventure seeker. London was truly magical. A place that all my childhood fantasies and stories took place in. The history packed into every single street is overwhelmingly breathtaking. I fell in love with the culture. With the cafes. The broadways. The pubs. Teas. Scones. Busses. Undergrounds. Overground’s. Museums. Art. Shopping. Buildings, Buildings, Buildings! Oh, London how my soul felt WHOLE when I was in you!

I was in London for 11 days and every day was a new adventure. Far different from my little suburban town I live in in America. I had four days in London on my own while my friend worked. Those days were precious. I got to get lost.Find my way. Explore. Talk to people so I could find my way. Stumble upon amazing places. Figure out a big city! These days of solitude were really big In my healing process. I kept thinking…I can do this on my own. I can take care of myself. I guess I started believing in myself again.

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IronMan Weekend

Spontaneously planned. This past year I’ve learned to take risks and to jump more. It’s honestly been one of the best decisions of my life so far. When you jump… You grow. You adapt. You learn.

My friend, Tarah, “jumped” last weekend.

She competed in an IronMan triathlon in Sonoma County, CA. It was truly insanity at its finest. Any person who competes in this gets a “kick-ass” card because I’m still trying to wrap my head around how our bodies can physically handle it.

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She started with swimming in the Russian River at 7:30am… For two hours straight.

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Hop on your bike… Here goes 7.5 hours of bicycling.

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and because that’s too easy…let’s run a FULL 26.6 mile marathon to top it off. How is she smiling?! Insanity! Pure kick-ass insanity!

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A lady at at the grocery store was sporting this awesome shirt…the crew I went with all agreed that we were too in fact…exhausted.

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She finished 8th in her age group at 8:50pm. Pretty incredible and I couldn’t be more proud of her. I can now add it to my list of things I’ve watched and experienced. Not too mention…hanging out in Sonoma County wasn’t too bad either.;)

Best part of the trip? The driver taking the wrong turn which lead us right into San Francisco just In time for the sunset.

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