San Diego: Food, Fun, and Fauna

Continuing the recap of my San Diego trip with family in August, I would say there were three primary highlights of the trip.

1. Food (obviously)

Food was delicious and also provided lots of good table time sitting around and talking about the days. My favorites were True Food Kitchen (a natural food cafe with great juices):

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Breakfast at Cody’s La Jolla:

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…Cody’s also had a dog menu!!

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And all meals eaten on the back patio of the house facing the beach:

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When we were at Cody’s La Jolla, a woman sitting near our table commented to us that she was impressed that no one had their phones out during the meal…good job quality family time!

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2. Fun!

Fun defined as activities out and about but primarily biking

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Papa Bear in action:

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We took a couple breaks during our rides to check out the water and views (clearly my parents have a thing for wearing college apparel):

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Goofin’:

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3. Fauna

So fauna might not be the most appropriate word, but it was an alliteration. We went to the zoo – an establishment I have had a great affection for since childhood.

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This was the best day. We were at the zoo for a loooong time – 6 hours maybe? But it is huge! And amazing! And has pandas!

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Good times on the gondola:

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Last but not least, it’s always a treat to enjoy the eccentricities of family. 

Samuel with homemade sun protection:

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Classic Dad explanation mode:

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And…unfortunately I don’t have enough photos to document it, but the number one most exciting thing to happen was…meeting a new family member! I hadn’t yet met my gorgeous and lovely baby (although not quite a baby anymore!) cousin. We only had a brief visit, but it was great to spend a little time together! (the light in the picture isn’t great, but you get the idea) 🙂

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When do I blog?!…and family trip to San Diego

Wow – I have seriously missed blogging! The blog has definitely become a creative outlet for me over the past few years. Unfortunately, I’m back in school full time (and a half) and my life feels crazy. I wake up, I read. Day happens, I read. It’s time for bed, I keep reading and then am way too tired the next morning. Something’s gotta give…but right now I am waiting for this recipe to finish cooking in the oven as I prepare for some guests that Noah and I are having over for Shabbat dinner tonight. I’m sitting here trying to do work but thinking, “oh my gosh, it’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post and that makes me sad!”

So…here goes! Throwback to AUGUST when I saw my wonderful FAMILY in sunny SAN DIEGO.

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I love my little bro so so so so much. In fact, besides grad school and a new city and Noah’s job, he is one of the reasons I was excited to move to Massachusetts because he also goes to school here! Unfortunately for me and very fun-ly (not a word, I know) for him, he is London this term so we won’t be reunited on this side of the pond until next semester.

As for San Diego…we spent a lovely 10 days next to the beach enjoying food, sunshine, bike rides, long afternoons of reading, and the occasional trip in the car. We stayed in a condo with a full kitchen, so one of the first matters of business was stocking up on food. Check out this crazy cart escalator at the grocery store:

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There was much disagreement about how much food to get (I’m sorry, parents! You can do whatever you want next time. <3), but everything worked out great in the end.

The condo itself was gorgeous – lots of space with a great view directly onto the beach volleyball courts (oh, how California!) and the beach:

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One of the highlights of the trip was going to the Puzzalarium:

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The Puzzalarium is an “escape the room” place (they’re springing up all over the place now!). Basically, you and a group of people (hopefully your family and close friends) get locked in a room. Using only clues that you uncover within the room, you need to “escape” within an hour. If you don’t solve all the clues by the end of the hour, you lose. But don’t worry, they still let you out.

The Puzzalarium was so much fun! So fun, in fact, that Noah and I are planning to go to another “escape the room” place in Boston with some friends next week. Unfortunately, we missed the hour cut off at the Puzzalarium by about 35 seconds. I blame myself. But I’m over it now. In brighter news, we had some good times taking photos in the waiting area:

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I will hopefully have another post about San Diego coming soon, but in the interim I’ll close by saying a highlight of the trip for me was hanging out with my forever baby bro. It was so fun to go on a trip with him where we were able to spend so much time talking and goofing together. 🙂

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Family trip to the Dead Sea

Noah and I were SUPER fortunate to have my parents visit us in Israel during Chanukah and part of the week after. We traveled throughout the country together, and I felt so lucky to see much of the country for the first time with my wonderful parents! 🙂 We did a lot, so I’ll try to chip away at the blog accounts of our travels over the next couple weeks, but I wanted to start with a recap of what I thought was a highlight of our trip together: the Dead Sea!

During our travels, we spent a couple days in the southern part of Israel visiting an area called Ein Gedi. Ein Gedi is an oasis west of the Dead Sea, and the area is characterized by a unique mixture of desert and green – home to the lowest place on earth (the Dead Sea) and a collection of spas featuring treatments using the unique minerals found at this location. The Dead Sea lies 1,388 feet below sea level, and the salt concentration of the water is so high that people can float in the water. The collection of minerals that accumulate here in the water and mud are heralded as being particularly good for the skin, and an spa business has been built out of the attraction of the location to tourists.

Yet, the ‘beach’ front and spa at the Dead Sea are different from what one might expect at an American spa. The walkway to the sea is barren and without fanfare:

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Fortunately, the openness of the area facilitated great views of the desert mountains in the distance as well as the effect of the sea’s salt accumulation on the bordering land:

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Once at the waterfront, we read a cautionary sign about all of the ways we could potentially be injured during our visit:

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Somehow, we mustered the courage to go into the water anyway:

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Maneuvering through the water was a bit challenging because so much salt has hardened on the bottom of the sea that the ground is rough and sharp – look at this salt caked onto the ramp leading into the water!:

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Once we ‘laid’ down in the water though, it was easy-breezy. No need to tread water here. 🙂

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More family trip posts coming soon…thanks for visiting me! I love you so much and miss you already! 🙂

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48 hours in New York

This past weekend, I had a great two days with my beloved family in New York.

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With such a short visit together, we made the most of our time by sitting at the hotel, eating, and going on prolonged walking adventures throughout the city. Obviously. 🙂 Highlights from the days together were:

Lunch at Katz’s Delicatessen

Katz’s is a classic New York deli with overflowing corned beef sandwiches, top-notch pickles, and piping hot knishes. Although it hasn’t achieved the same notoriety with tourists as Carnegie Deli, it’s well known to anyone from New York and all Harry Met Sally fans (you know, the scene at the deli…).

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The place was packed but we were able to get a table and order without too much difficulty. Our feast was devoured before I remembered to take a picture, but deliciousness included corned beef sandwiches, matzo ball soup, knish, latkes, and coleslaw.

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

Heralded as the longest suspension bridge of its time, the Brooklyn Bridge serves as a great way to take a stroll and look over at the city. It bridges the water from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and there is certainly quite a different feel from one end to the other.

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Breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien 

Breakfast during vacation with my family is always quite an operation. It’s more like brunch, or lunch actually, since it often may not happen until close to noon. But hey – maybe the anticipation makes the payoff all the better. Le Pain Quotidien is a bakery with several locations along the east coast, and their breakfast was delicious. One of our favorites was the belgian waffle with jam:

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And finally, Shake Shack

Shake Shack is a fast-growing burger, fries, and frozen custard joint along the east coast. But, don’t be fooled. This is not the burger at your typical diner. Shake Shack puts an emphasis on sustainability and community support, donating time and money towards social concerns like hunger, education, and the environment.

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Overall, a great two days spent with the greatest of company.

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What to do with your baby brother

I have a totally phenomenal brother. He is smart, funny, loving, and an excellent role model for not stressing the small things.

We used to wrestle a lot, but then he got bigger than me and I had to put an end to that. Baby boy grew up:

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Jk, he’s not that big.

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Last week, I had one day with my brother all to myself in Minneapolis, so I had to show him how cool I am by bringing him around to do lots of fun stuff. Here’s what to do with your baby brother for one day in the Minneapple….

1. Go to the Electric Fetus

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The Electric Fetus is first and foremost a music store. They have LPs and CDs from pretty much any artist you can imagine. If you’re overwhelmed by the selection, there is always a music expert working at the music desk to help you.

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Although music is the main appeal, the store also sells a little bit of pretty much everything else.

There’s clothing:

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Books:

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Jewelry:

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And a healthy selection of the most random stuff you have ever seen:

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2. Lunch at Cafe Ena

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With so many awesome restaurants in the area, it was tough to choose a lunch spot, but we settled on the award-winning Latin Fusion restaurant, Cafe Ena. In south Minneapolis at the intersection of 46th and Grand, Cafe Ena is super yum. I didn’t try it myself, but I hear their guacamole is to die for. We ordered a horchata to try (mainly since neither of us had tried one before):

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Horchata is a traditional Spanish beverage made from ground almonds (similar to almond milk plus extra spices). For the meal, I ordered a chicken curry dish:

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and the bro ordered a jerk chicken sandwich on telera bread:

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3. Go to a concert

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Vampire Weekend was playing at the Orpheum. Enough said.

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So there you have it. I am officially a super cool sister.

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Sort of. 🙂

Happy Father’s Day

Without a doubt one of the greatest gifts I happen to have been bestowed is that of a wonderful father. Trying to describe an individual using adjectives is never an easy task (and always seems to fall short of a real description), but if I had to try I would describe my father as kind, patient, generous, loving, funny, and tirelessly devoted to his family. And his dogs.

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My Pop has taught me that doing helpful/thoughtful things for the people you love is not a burden but simply a nice way of living:

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My Pop has taught me a lot of common sense – and also insisted in putting up safeguards in case common sense fails. For example, when I lock my keys in the car…

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I have both a spare set and a AAA membership.

My Pop has taught me a lot about loyalty, love, and commitment to family. For example, it’s okay to only want to play ‘Word with Friends’ with the people you love:

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And he’s taught me that a sense of humor and some friendly competition can go a long way:

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I am unbelievably lucky and grateful to have such a wonderful father who has been an incredible role model to me. Happy Father’s Day, Papa Bear. I love you. 🙂