A day at Muir Woods National Monument

A few weeks ago we went to Muir Woods. Muir Woods is a national monument (which is slightly different to a national park but don’t ask me why!). It’s just outside San Francisco and is totally beautiful. It’s basically a huge forest full of enormous redwood trees. I’m not sure why we’ve never been before as it’s super close to the city but it’s just something we hadn’t got around to.

Muir Woods National Monument Entrance

Anyway, we turned up one Saturday, about mid-morning to find a nice long queue into the car park – it was the first sunny Saturday in about 4 weeks so we should have known it was going to be busy! After some sneaky parking manoeuvres we were off and ready to go. Our visit also coincided with their Junior Ranger Day which was cool because it meant Huxley got some stickers and an activity pack to fill in as we were walking around. They let us in the front gate with his little bike but we found out later that they’re not allowed in (neither are pushchairs – so bear that in mind if visiting with a baby/toddler). I actually felt rather awkward pushing his bike around as there are tons of signs about keeping quiet and his bike can be pretty noisy so we ended up carrying it anyway just to try and not disturb the peace!

Muir Woods California

Nick & I both had mixed opinions about Muir Woods. It’s obviously very beautiful but due to it being a national monument and so close to a major city, it’s also VERY busy (it’s the most visited national monument in America). I’ve just read on Wikipedia that in 2017 they are introducing a reservation system to limit the number of cars able to enter every day so that’s something else to bear in mind if you plan on visiting next year. We thought the traffic was bad when we arrived mid-morning but it was nothing compared to the insane queues we saw about 3pm when we were leaving. Add to this the entrance fee of $10 per adult too and we really started to question whether it was worth it. We’ve been to other places further down the coast in Big Sur (and I’m sure there’s more further north too) where you can see redwoods for free. We’ve just parked the car up at a random location and gone on a mini-hike in the woods and it’s been just as beautiful – and I’d go so far as to say nicer as there aren’t a million other people there.

Muir Woods Redwood Trees California

We had a really lovely time at Muir Woods but I don’t think we’ll go back. It’s not super breathtaking like Yosemite is and I think there’s better places to see redwoods but if you’re on a whistle-stop visit of San Francisco then it might be worth adding to the list if you’ve never experienced anything like this before.

Muir Woods National Monument

Nick & Hux

Nick & Hux at Muir Woods

Me & Hux at Muir Woods

Family photo at Muir Woods

Junior Park Ranger Day at Muir Woods California

Renovating a house

One of the things that I’ve thought about a lot while I’ve been in California is how much we’ve achieved in the past year. Facebook keeps sending me those reminders of what I was doing this time last year and seeing all the photos of our house renovation pop up really brings it all home to me how crazy the past 12 months have been. If you’d have told me 12 months ago that today I’d be sitting in California and our house would be nearly completely finished, there’s no way I’d have believed you. We were living at Nick’s parents, Nick was waking up at 6am to drive to the house to get a couple of hours work done before driving an hour to work all day as a food judge, having to do his copywriting work in his lunch break before driving an hour home and working until 10pm at night on the house before driving back to his parents and flopping into bed completely exhausted. This went on for the best part of 4 months. Then he broke his leg. (Luckily most of the house was finished by that point!)

bedroom1

I know it’s easy to make stuff like this look like no big deal on blogs and social media but I just wanted to write a post about what real hard work it’s been. Nick & I did 80% of the work ourselves (and I’ll be honest, 90% of that was just Nick). We knew that in order to maximise our return on investment, we needed to be doing the work ourselves. We didn’t hire a £250-a-day skip, we drove to the local tip several times a day or dug several enormous holes in our back garden and buried the rubble – which is completely backbreaking. We didn’t hire a decorator or a painter, we only had skilled tradesmen in for things that were completely essential. The only ‘luxury’ was having a tiler as Nick had made a bit of a mess in our last home so I put my foot down on that one!

bathroom 1

1. It will take longer than you expect

Everything you plan to do is guaranteed to take longer than you expect or allow for. Even if you get tradesmen in to do the job, there always will be delays, whether it’s people just deciding not to turn up for the day without letting you know, or delays with supplies being ordered and delivered or  in getting the building inspector to come and sign off the work before you can do the next bit, everything will take longer than you want it to. Try not to stress out too much. Most of the time it’s out of your hands. Go and have a cup of tea and appreciate the rest.

kitchen1

2. It will cost more than you expect

Yep. There’s a whole ton of stuff that we didn’t budget for that soon adds up. We were quite accurate with our estimates for the big stuff like plasterboard and paint but all the little things like nails, screws and paint rollers that cost £5-£10 each time means the costs quickly mount up. That’s without factoring in the furniture that you didn’t realise wouldn’t fit up the stairs (hello new bed*!)

kitchen3

3. Things will go wrong

Countless things went wrong during the renovation process. Nick sliced his hand open rather badly on a porcelain toilet that he was smashing out, Nick’s dad hurt his hand while he was knocking down a wall for us, my dad did his back in while he was helping to strip wallpaper and that’s without mentioning the physical things that went wrong with the house! You’re bound to measure something wrong at some point or drill a hole in the wrong place or drag a bucket along a freshly painted wall (yes these all happened) but don’t sweat, most things can be fixed quite easily – as long as you don’t nearly electrocute yourself on a random wire poking out the kitchen wall that the electrician assured you was dead!

garden1

4. Nobody around you will quite understand your exhaustion

Unless they’ve been through it themselves, nobody else will quite understand the extreme exhaustion you’re going through. The constant calculation of measurements for huge, really expensive items and worry that you’ve given the correct figures mixed with the hard manual labour is truly exhausting (& that’s before you add a toddler into the mix). Trust me, it’s nothing on a newborn baby.

kitchen2

Obviously, here we are a year later and I can honestly say it was totally worth it. I love our house so much. But this kind of project isn’t for the faint-hearted!

You can see the finished rooms at the links below (we still haven’t got much art on the walls though, I think it will always be a work in progress!)

Kitchen | Bathroom | Bedroom | Lounge | (I haven’t actually done an office one yet!)

*This post is in collaboration with Oak Furniture UK as part of their DIY Disasters campaign

Life in California

Oh my goodness I am SO behind on all of this! To be honest, I haven’t been taking a lot of photos the past 2 weeks as it’s been raining for 12 days straight. Thankfully that’s over now and it’s back to glorious sunshine and wonderfully warm.

So I’m afraid there isn’t any real structure to this post, it’s basically just a photo-dump of all the nice things we’ve been doing recently. Our weeks have been filled with trips to the park, hiking in the hills and visiting San Francisco zoo.

Our first hike was back when we were still staying in Sonoma. We decided to do the Sonoma Overlook Trail which is a 3-mile round-trip and has stunning views over Sonoma and the valley – and San Francisco – which nobody had told me about so it was a very nice surprise! Huxley was amazing and walked nearly the whole way up. He loved spotting all the different animals we saw along the way. On the way down we even spotted some deer that got really close to us! He fell asleep shortly after that, bless him!

View of Napa Valley from Skyline Wilderness Park

View of Sonoma from Sonoma Overlook Trail

Huxley hiking

Sleepy-sausage

Our favourite park to visit right now is Crane Park in St Helena, it’s so beautiful and always full of kids. We stayed there for 5 whole hours one day! St Helena is a bit further up Napa Valley and it’s just incredible.

St Helena Napa Valley California

Crane Park St Helena Napa Valley California

Napa Valley California

We had dinner at In’n’Out Burger a few weeks ago. I’ll probably get things thrown at me for saying this but I really don’t rate it. The burgers are okay but not that different from McDonalds but the real killer for me are the fries. They taste powdery and dry and are so vile I could barely stomach them. But Huxley had fun with the dinosaur stickers and little hat that they gave him so it was worth it just for that.

In-n-Out burger California

In-n-Out burger Huxley

We visited San Francisco zoo a few weeks ago after Huxley had been going on and on and on about seeing some animals. We all thought it was amazing and were very impressed. The whole place is so green. There are trees everywhere. Huxley loved seeing the lions, tigers, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, zebras and penguins – the only thing missing was an elephant but there’s one at Oakland Zoo which we might visit soon. Huxley could have stayed and watched the hippo all day I think. All he wanted was to see the hippo do a poo and all I can say is that the hippo delivered! I’ve never seen someone so excited about some poop! They also had a little farmyard area where you could buy food to feed the goats and brush their hair.

Feeding goats at San Francisco zoo

Brushing a goat at San Francisco zoo

Zebras at San Francisco Zoo

Chocolate-ice-cream

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

View of Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

 

 

What to wear on holiday in Mallorca

Mallorca is such an ideal holiday destination for so many people and it’s not hard to see why. Beaches, sunshine, culture, good food, the list of reasons to visit is endless. Not to mention that you can fly there from most local airports, without having to lug all your stuff to a major city airport. The lucky people of Mallorca see over 300 days of sunshine a year and the average temperature is 21 degrees – so what are you waiting for? Book Mallorca* today!

With this in mind, I’ve put together some outfits for some of the most popular Mallorca activities.

I thought I’d kick things off with ‘Lunch at the local food market’…

 

Lunch at the food market in Mallorca

Bag: Blank | Dress: Toast | Denim jacket: New Look | Sandals: Billabong (similar) | Necklace: Aurelie Bidermann

There’s a huge food market in Mallorca called Olivar Market (or Mercat de l’Olivar) where you can browse stands for all types of delicious wares and once you start to tire, take a rest and grab a bite to eat at one of the tapas bars. This casual pastel outfit is perfect for perusing fruit and veg and blending in with the locals.

Climbing mountains in Mallorca

 

Sports bra: Nike | Tank top: Nike | Leggings: Adidas Originals | Trainers: Nike | Hat: Roxy | Bottle: Camelbak

In 2011, Mallorca’s Serra de Tramuntana was granted UNESCO World Heritage status for being an area of great physical and cultural significance. The Puig Major is the highest mountain in the Balearic Islands and is well worth checking out. The trails are made up of stone pathways and are well marked so you’re unlikely to get lost and offer spectacular views over the ocean. And while you’re at it, why not do it in style? Check out those Adidas leggings – aren’t they dreamy? Also, I am the proud owner of one of those Camelbak bottles, in fact, Nick & Huxley do too, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

 

Exploring cathedrals in Mallorca

 

Bag: Rag & Bone | Blouse: Mango | Lipstick: Nars | Trousers: Etro | Bow: H&M | Shoes: Gianvito Rossi 

Palma is home to the La Seu cathedral which was built on the site of a former mosque. Construction started in 1230 and continued for a jaw-dropping 400 years. It’s easy to read facts like that and just skim over them thinking ‘hmm that’s interesting’, but seriously, FOUR HUNDRED YEARS. That’s insane. And it’s huge. The nave (central part) is 44m tall (Notre Dame in Paris is 33m). As far as I’m concerned, those 400 years were time well spent as it’s totally beautiful and this outfit would be perfect for walking around and exploring all the nooks and crannies.

At the beach in Mallorca

 

Bag: Accessorize | Sandals: M&Co | Suncream: Nivea | Swimsuit: Topshop | Sunglasses: RayBan | Hat: Eugenia Kim | Kaftan: Melissa Odabash

And last but not least, the pinnacle of any Mallorca holiday – the beach outfit! How amazing is that swimsuit! I love when you find great looking high street pieces. And don’t even get me started on that hat! How cute! I spotted Rosie Londoner wearing it in one of her blog posts recently and fell head over heels. It’s a bit pricey for my little purse though!

*This is a collaborative blog post

A day at Lake Tahoe

Our first weekend here was a Bank Holiday, President’s Day to be exact, which celebrates George Washington’s birthday, and we decided to spend our time visiting Lake Tahoe. It’s somewhere we’ve both always wanted to go but on our previous visits to California, Big Sur, Yosemite and Napa had won out.

It’s about a 3 hour drive to Tahoe from Sonoma, which in American terms is considered ‘just down the road’. We had fun pointing out all the big chain restaurants we could spot on the side of the freeway and I was really surprised at how quickly the huge snowy mountains came into view on the horizon. The fun really started when we pulled off the freeway and started up the winding mountain roads. I definitely squealed like an excited child at the first sight of snow.

We’d been tipped off by a friend to take the scenic route past Donner Lake for some spectacular views and I’m so glad we did. Check this out….

Donner Lake California

Donner Lake near Lake Tahoe California

After a quick photo pit-stop we continued on to Lake Tahoe itself, which is about 30 minutes further. We drove past loads of places doing tubing (which is sliding down the snow in a massive inflatable rubber ring) and it looked SO MUCH FUN. I was absolutely desperate to do it with Huxley but we decided to see the lake first and go on the way back (unfortunately we had far too much fun at the lake and Huxley fell asleep in the car so I never got a chance to do it! Boo!)

We decided to drive around the North side of Lake Tahoe on this visit, which I think is a lot quieter than the South end. To be honest, I was totally surprised at how uncommercialised it seemed. I was expecting massive Nike stores and McDonalds all over the place but it all seemed to be independent ski shops and mom-n-pop restaurants which was really nice. We did take a quick dip into the massive resort of Northstar, which is where the Ritz-Carlton is and it was a totally different vibe. It was insane. Everyone looked like they were DRIPPING in money. It was so swanky. Northstar’s slogan is something like ‘the way it should be’ and I have to say I probably agree. We actually didn’t end up venturing in as parking was crazy.

Anyway, our first stop in Lake Tahoe was King’s Beach which was a little dull. We had a quick explore of the beach and then decided to hop back in the car and drive round a bit further. I hadn’t actually realised that Lake Tahoe was split almost down the middle between California and Nevada until we drove over the state line. The difference was clear almost immediately. The Nevada side of the lake was much less built-up. I think the next bit we stopped at was Sand Harbor. It was totally beautiful. The water is crystal clear. Everything was so blue and it was like being in a dream.

Being February, there was snow on the beach which Huxley really enjoyed but it was sunny enough to be pleasantly warm. We threw snowballs at each other, explored all the nooks and crannies of the rocks and built a snowman on the beach (whose head Huxley proceeded to eat!).

Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe Nevada

Lake Tahoe Nevada February

Lake Tahoe in February

Huxley at Lake Tahoe

Making a snowman on the beach at Lake Tahoe in February

All in all it was an amazing day and a trip that I would definitely recommend to anyone. We’re desperate to go back and try out some of the fun activities on offer and I know Nick can’t wait to get himself back on a snowboard again. California really does have it all!

How to decorate your house like a pro

It can be difficult in this age of cookie-cutter interiors, where everyone’s home looks like it jumped straight out of the Next catalogue, to put a unique spin on the finishing touches in your home. BUT! I’m about to help you remedy that with the help of a glorious website called Uncommon Goods.

Uncommon Goods recently contacted me to ask if I would put a post together for them and I jumped at the chance after getting lost in their website for several hours. (Seriously though, you have been warned!)

There is WAY TOO MUCH cool stuff for me to showcase all of it here but I hope you’ll check out their website and have browse around for yourselves. And before you start feeling guilty about clicking and shopping, you should probably know that Uncommon Goods have a Robin Hood twist. The lowest-paid worker at Uncommon Goods earns 50% above minimum wage, over a third of their collection contains recycled materials and support four different not-for-profit organisations including Women for Women International and American Forests. So there, now you can shop with purpose and no guilt whatsoever. You can thank me later.

This map was one of the first things that caught my eye when I scrolled through their selection of art work. Then I noticed it was made by the amazing children’s author, Oliver Jeffers, a firm favourite in our household. And of course it’s of America. I’m starting to wonder if there’s too many map and/or America related pieces of art in our house now? (Although saying that, this series of prints by Carolyn Gavin has taken my fancy too…)

oliver jeffers places in america map uncommon goodsERMAHGERD I need this hammock chair in my life immediately. Once we get our back garden sorted out, Nick is planning on building a decking area so there’s more room to sit people, but mainly because he wants to fit his smoker on it. I’m wondering if I can convince him to construct some sort of device so that I can hang this somewhere. It’s literally my life-long dream to have a hammock. Check out the rest of their unique furniture here: http://www.uncommongoods.com/home-garden/furniture

do good hanging chair hammock uncommon goodsI practically squealed with delight when I saw this living wall planter. I know that you can grow plants vertically, and I’ve seen several ‘living walls’ around and about but it had never occurred to me that you could make a teeny weeny version to have in your home. I love love love this idea for the bathroom or even the kitchen, but really, anywhere you can squeeze an extra bit of living green stuff into your house the better! For me, the home decor section is the area that Uncommon Goods really excels at. There’s tons of quirky bits and pieces that you definitely won’t find anywhere else.

succulent living wall planter kit uncommon goods

I love the colourful, playful illustrations on these cushions. I was never really into personalised stuff growing up because my name is Emma and there were like 3 other Emma’s in my year at school so it never felt special or exciting to see my name written on stuff. However, now we’ve got a little Huxley and you can’t find his name on ANYTHING, I’ve definitely become more interested in things that can be personalised. Hux would love these cushions but I’d have a hard time deciding whether to get the bear one or the elephant one. There’s tons of great wedding gift ideas on the website too.

personalised story book pillow uncommon goodsSo there you have it. Another website for you to lose yourself in for a few hours. Let me know what you love on the Uncommon Goods website!

 

 

 

My favourite iPhone games

Being so close to the technology capital of the world (San Francisco & Palo Alto) and having got so much use out of my phone recently while trying to combat the boredom of being alone all day every day with Huxley, I wanted to write a post about some of my favourite fun iPhone games for keeping myself entertained.

I’m not really into a specific ‘type’ of game, I’m happy to give most things a try but I have to say that when I find one I like, I’ll stick with it and probably won’t ever get bored of it.

Candy Blast Mania

I know every man and his dog raves about Candy Crush but I actually MUCH prefer Candy Blast Mania. This is the game I’ve probably had on my phone the longest. I think the levels are much more fun and I get stuck a lot less than I did on Candy Crush. The thing that really put the nail in the coffin with Candy Crush for me was that you have to constantly pester your Facebook friends in order to pass levels. It’s been a few years since I’ve played it now so they might have updated that stupid feature but I still get game requests ALL THE TIME on Facebook so I’m guessing maybe they haven’t?

candy blast mania(photo credit)

HayDay

This is an app that I actually had to delete from my phone because my level of addiction was far too real. Like I genuinely thought it might end in divorce for Nick & I if I kept it. Again, everyone raved about Farmville but I just didn’t get on with the gameplay of Farmville and found HayDay much more intuitive and fun to play. I warn you now though, it’s seriously addictive! Ask Brogan!

hay day farming game app(photo credit)

Evil Apples

Evil Apples is basically an app version of Cards Against Humanity. I stumbled across it one evening while discussing the game with some friends and we all quickly got a bit addicted. Even Nick has this game on his phone and he HATES playing games on his phone.

evil apples cards against humanity iphone games app (photo credit)

Blackjack

Yes, I do like to pretend I’m a member of Oceans Eleven. I’ll be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what I’m doing or how it works but it’s pretty good fun anyway. You can play blackjack online using the Betway website if you don’t trust yourself to have it on your mobile!

blackjack game betway app (photo credit)

Covet

This is a proper girly one. It’s basically playing Barbie dolls but even more awesome. You can change hair & make-up styles, skin tone and play the daily challenges to collect money & diamonds to save up to buy more clothes. The clothing collections change from season to season and are all from real-life designers. You can even shop directly from the app. It’s definitely the daily challenges that make this game so addictive for me. You can vote on other people’s outfits too. The aim of the game is to win money by creating the best outfits in the challenges so that you can buy more clothes so that you can unlock different hair and make-up styles as the value of your wardrobe increases.

Covet fashion app

 (photo credit)

Diner Dash

This is an old favourite that I return to again and again. It’s one of those games that is easy to understand, has just the right amount of challenge and excitement and you can easily waste hours and hours completing level after level. Luckily you only get 3 ‘life stars’ at a time and each one takes 20 minutes to regain otherwise I would spend a scary amount of time playing this!

diner dash(photo credit)

 

If you enjoyed this post, I’d love to hear from you, and if anyone is interested in my favourite (& Huxley’s favourite) iPad apps for toddlers then give me a shout and I’ll put one together!

 

Settling in Sonoma

So we’ve survived our first week in Sonoma! Huxley and I have been alone all day every day for an entire week and I haven’t cried yet (although I’ve come close!). I’m not going to lie and paint a picture of sunshine and roses. I’ve had a bit of a tough time this week. Huxley has reverted to not eating or drinking anything other than milk or cheese – and not the normal orange cheese that you get here – it has to be the super expensive pre-sliced, pre-packaged white cheese that looks the same as it does at home. He’s also regressed in the potty training department a little bit too. This has made him very clingy and means he doesn’t want to go out anywhere. I’ll admit that there was a day when I shut myself in the bedroom for 20 minutes just so I could have some peace and quiet. (Is it bad that I’m already Googling relaxing holidays for when we get back?? I’ve got my eye on Mallorca* right now.)

The one shining beacon of hope in all of this is that we’re in California so the weather has been outstanding every single day so far. It’s so nice to be able to make plans and actually be able to stick to them and not have them rained off. That said, it is due to rain 3 days this week so it’ll be interesting to see how well I cope then!

This week I’m going to try harder to make dinners that look like normal food but have tons of hidden veg in them. I saw a great recipe video on Facebook for a ‘hidden veg’ mac’n’cheese that I’m dying to try out. Nick and I have managed to eat fairly well, with plenty of incredible avocados and oranges, I just worry about Huxley not getting enough good stuff but I’m hoping he’ll settle down soon enough and get back into the swing of things (until we have to move house again at the end of February – and we haven’t found anywhere to stay yet!!)

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom and I’ve had some really lovely moments with Huxley this week. We went for lunch at a diner together, got ice-cream at Baskin Robbins, had an amazing time at Sonoma Train Town and have had a blast running around the amazing parks they have here. We’ve also been out to eat as a family at The Fremont Diner and El Molino Central. We’ve just returned from a long weekend in Lake Tahoe too which was incredible (post coming soon! Or you can watch my weekly vlog!)

Palm Tree California

Small club sandwich at Big Bear Diner Sonoma

Hux eating bacon

Pretty house in Sonoma

Huxley in California

Huxley eating Baskin Robbins ice cream

Huxley at Sonoma Square Park

Hux eating a cookie

Mint It's It ice cream sandwich

Traintown Sonoma

Carousel at Sonoma Train Town Railroad February

Feeding goats at Sonoma Train Town

The Style Box at Sonoma Train Town

*This is a collaborative post

Our first week in America!

To quote Adele, hello from the otherside! We’ve been here a week now and are nicely settled into our house in Sonoma so I thought I’d do a bit of an update as to what we got up to over the past week. (You can also watch my weekly vlog if you’d prefer to see it in video form!)

Hux was an absolute angel on the flight. I was a bit worried about taking an active 2-year-old on an 11 hour plane journey but he did really well. He fell asleep literally the second the plane took off and slept for about 2 hours. Once he woke up he was so well behaved (thanks iPad!) and the only time he cried was when we came to land because I think his ears were hurting him. So all in all, it was a win!

We spent the first 3 days in San Francisco which was a bit crazy and busy due to the SuperBowl which happened on Sunday. It was the 50th one and security was nuts in the city. We had to walk through body scanners and everything just to get to the Ferry Building! Our first meal is always at Gotts Roadside. It’s one of my favourite places to eat in the city and one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. The garlic fries are insane.

Ferry Building SuperBowl50 San Francisco

Bay Bridge at dusk San Francisco

Jetlagged Hux

The next morning we woke up at 2am (thanks jet lag!) and lazed around until about 5am when Hux started getting restless so we walked to Bob’s Donuts which is possibly the best place ever. It’s open 24 hours and they make the softest, most incredible doughnuts – and it’s SO CHEAP. It’s not at all fancy and we love it so much.

Bob's Donuts San Francisco

Hux eating Bob's Donuts

After that we did a bit of shopping in downtown and Nick bought me a new North Face down jacket for my birthday. Then we walked to Fisherman’s Wharf (which we hate but we wanted to visit the Patagonia store there) before going to the Exploratorium as it just so happened to be their quarterly free entrance day. The Exploratorium was AMAZING! So much better than I was expecting. It’s a bit like the Science Museum in London but everything is hands-on so it would keep kids entertained for HOURS. Hux was probably a bit little but he had fun running around. If you had kids that are like 8+ they would have a blast. From there we walked to Nick’s happy place, Red’s Java House. We turned up at like 4.02pm and they shut at 4pm in the winter but luckily the guy took pity on us and let us in for a beer and a cup of tea!

San Francisco Exploratorium

Red's Java House San Francisco

On Wednesday we basically spent the whole day at Dolores Park as the weather was beautiful and obviously visited Tartine. I know I say this about everything, but you really can’t miss Tartine if you visit San Francisco. It’s so perfect.

Dolores Park San Francisco

Quiche at Tartine San Francisco

Tartine San Francisco

Hux

The Style Box Dolores Park

On Thursday we went to Outer Sunset to visit Mollusk Surf Shop before hanging out on Ocean Beach and watching the enormous waves crashing onto the beach. Then we drove to the Warming Hut so that Huxley could get a proper look at the Golden Gate Bridge. We also spotted Miss Universe having her photo taken while we were there!

San Francisco Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

Hux at GGB

After that we drove to Moraga as we were staying with Nick’s friends for a few nights. It was super beautiful and we had a great time, although I didn’t really take any photos while we were there. On Friday they took us to Tilden Park which is a big mountain with incredible views of San Francisco (seriously though, it’s now my life goal to buy one of the houses on the side of the mountain with that view!). It also has a pretty lake, a farm and rather randomly, a carousel.

View of San Francisco from Tilden Park

Carousel at Tilden Park California

Saturday morning we got up and went to Walnut Creek as my iPhone needed upgrading so that we could use the American sim cards we’d bought. I needed a new one anyway and am due an upgrade in June but it’s nice to have it a bit early! Then we just made our way to Sonoma and got settled in our new house (for the month!) before heading to Safeway to buy lots of yummy food (read: mainly avocados).

On Sunday a friend of ours invited us to his house to watch the Superbowl. He’s really into barbecue, which is how him & Nick met and he made some amazing food. We didn’t watch any football but Hux had a great time running around the pool and throwing a ball in and getting it out with the net!

Now I’m just settling in to life in Sonoma. I’ll admit I haven’t found it easy the past few days. Don’t get me wrong, Sonoma is gorgeous and there’s tons to do here in the way of beautiful hikes and the weather has been incredible but Huxley has been a total pain. He’s probably just missing home and is a bit confused but he’s just been in one of those moods where he won’t listen to what I’m saying, he won’t do anything I ask him to and all he wants to do it sit around watching TV and eating junk food. He fell asleep at 5pm today though (hence how I finally have the time to write a blog post!) so maybe he’s just exhausted. Who knows?!

Some exciting news!

If you watch my weekly vlogs, you’ll probably already know that we’re about to go to California for 10 weeks. It’s all very exciting but has also been quite stressful due to how short-notice it’s all been. We’re leaving in two weeks time and only got our accommodation booked last night! In fact, we’ve only actually found somewhere to stay for February so far! We’ve still got nowhere to stay for the whole of March yet! I can tell from the reactions of most of my family that they think we’re a little nuts. If you’ve known Nick or I for any length of time, you’ll know it’s almost impossible to have a conversation with either of us without San Francisco or California being mentioned at some point. It’s always been a bit of a pipe dream to live out there so it’s nice to almost make that dream a reality!

So, here’s the plan. We’re going to be staying in San Francisco for a couple of days and then we’re going to stay with Nick’s friend in Moraga (just outside of Berkeley) for a few nights before settling down in a 2-bedroom AirBnB apartment in Sonoma for the month of February. After that, who knows?!? We’ll still be staying somewhere in wine country for March but it could be Napa or Santa Rosa or Sonoma again, we’re just going to play it by ear and see what happens. Then, on April 1st, we’ll either be driving North to Portland, Oregon for 10 days or South to Los Angeles before flying home on the 11th. Nick has even talked about driving across Nevada and Idaho to Montana but when I asked him what he wanted to see/do in Montana, he couldn’t really give me an answer so I’m not sure that will happen – but I’ve just typed Montana into Pinterest and I might be easily persuaded! Yellowstone National Park is even closer than Montana and I’d totally be up for that!

I have to admit that I’m a little bit nervous about how I’m going to find day-to-day living there as I’ll be on my own with Huxley a lot of the time, with no nursery to give me a break and no relatives or friends to go and see to break up the day. I’ve spent ages scouring Facebook for local mommy groups and have scouted out where the library is and I’m going to try and make a little map of the local neighbourhood parks I can walk to as I won’t have the car every day. As silly as this sounds, I have to admit that I’m pretty worried about my teeth as everyone out there has a Hollywood smile, if I could afford some major dentist* work beforehand then I would definitely do it! I have a feeling they’ll probably guess that I’m British before I even speak!

I have to admit that I’m pretty excited about leaving England for the whole of February. I really hate February! I’m not good with the cold. But, before you get jealous about the California weather, although it’s about 15 degrees, it’s also been raining for a LONG time so I won’t be sunning myself by the pool or anything like that!

I’m super excited to be able to properly explore such a gorgeous area of Northern California. I’ve been googling all the different hikes and trails you can do and I can’t wait to visit Muir Woods as it’s been on my bucket list for years. We’ll also hopefully visit Yosemite again (see my previous post with 5 month old Huxley!) and make trips to Lake Tahoe and other surrounding areas.

If you’re not sure what wine country looks like, check out Rosie Londoner‘s INCREDIBLE photos from her recent trip, as well as Julia from Gal Meets Glam‘s blog as she lives in San Francisco so goes out to wine country all the time and takes the most beautiful photos.

Napa California

(Photo via The Londoner)

napa valley

(Photo via Gal Meets Glam)

So yeah, my Instagram feed will hopefully be filled with gorgeous sunny shots of vineyards, giant redwoods and lots of milkshakes, pie and burgers! Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to keep updated with my adventures weekly!

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