Fort Worth Stock Yards


In the summer of 2013, I spent two months in Texas. Yes, summer in Texas. It is pretty much one of the most uncomfortable things, but I survived! During my time there, I visited a few different major cities, including the Dallas/Fort Worth area. If you are a tourist, the Fort Worth Stock Yards are definitely a must!
The Stock Yards are pretty much filled with stereotypical Texas type things, like western wear, some saloons, steakhouses, and of course, lots and lots of cowboy boots. A kind lady helped me find these gems, and boy, I was smitten. All except for the price tag. You’d be surprised at how much boots are, or at least I was. These ones are probably the most inexpensive pair that I saw (at $350), but we saw some with price tags as high as $2,500. Can you believe it?! So, no boots for me. Yet…
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Even though it was unquestionably hot, I really enjoyed the Stock Yards and am glad to have gotten a taste of Texas culture! I haven’t been to Texas since that summer, but I would really like to visit again sometime soon!

xoxo,
Jess

*all photos by Jess unless otherwise noted

Fall Camping Trip

img_6432Over the weekend, I went camping with my boyfriend and our two dogs. We went to Joseph D. Grant Park, which is just in the hills of San Jose and is perfect for a short weekend camping excursion! My boyfriend and I have been together for 5 years, but we had never gone camping together before, so it was really nice to do something new! We don’t own any camping gear, so my friend was kind enough to lend us everything we needed.
img_6434We arrived around 12:30pm on Saturday and then went for a 3 hour hike! At Grant Park, there are over 50 miles of hiking trails, so we had a great time wandering around on them and ended up at a gorgeous lake. img_6436In the evening, we roasted some hot dogs over the campfire and made s’mores too of course. The weather was pretty perfect and it wasn’t too cold.

Even though it was a short trip, we had a really wonderful time and can’t wait to go camping again! Plus, it was nice to cross something off my fall adventure list!

xoxo,
Jess

*all photos by Jess unless otherwise noted

The Hells of Bepu, Japan

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During our trip to Japan in 2014, we traveled a few hours by train with my boyfriend and his family to the Kyushu region. The particular city we stayed in, Beppu, was known for having onsen ryokans (Japanese style inns with hot spring baths) and also the “Hells” of Beppu, which are eight different types of hot springs that are meant for viewing rather than relaxing in. These “hells” are named in reflection of their extreme temperatures. We decided to take a guided bus tour that would stop at each hell and let us get off to take a look, because why not?
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The little tour guide stood there and talked nonstop in Japanese as we drove from hell to hell, and then also led us around at each stop. The whole thing was such a hilarious and bizarre experience, and I loved it.
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Pictured above is the Oniishibozu Jigoku, which is named after the mud bubbles and said to look like the shaved heads of monks (haha).
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This one is named Shiraike Jigoku, “White Pond Hell”, because of its hot, milky water.
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At one of the “hells,” you could try a bit of the hot spring water, which is supposed to be good for your health. It smells like rotten eggs, which actually is what most of these hot springs smell like.
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Here we have Yama Jigoku, which translates to “Mountain Hell.” I bet you can see why!
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At a few of the hells, there were animals to be seen in a small sort of zoo. We saw rabbits, miniature horses, peacocks, and tons of crocodiles. The crocodiles were definitely very creepy! They would just lay on the warm pavement, asleep with their mouths wide open. Some of them almost looked like they were dead. One of the stranger aspects of this experience!
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Although I did not picture all eight hells here, this was the last one we visited on our tour! This is Chinoike Jigoku, “Blood Pond Hell” and is described on a travel site as “one of the more photogenic hells”(haha).
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I may have to agree with them, as I think this was my favorite hell of all the hells! I mean, it definitely is a winner if I can get a photo like this ;)Last random note: at a few of these hot springs, you can actually buy hard boiled eggs that have been boiled by the hot spring water. Supposedly the best eggs ever or something. What will these Japanese people come up with next?! 

xoxo,
Jess

*all photos by Jess unless otherwise noted

Seattle // Starbucks Reserve Roastery

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It is no secret that Seattle is the Starbucks (and coffee in general) capital. People here take their coffee very seriously, which can actually be a bit intimidating at times! We did our best to find a few local coffee shops to try out and it was a nice experience. It is also no secret that I love Starbucks. I am not even ashamed to admit it! One thing that was high on my list of things to do in Seattle, was to go to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. I received a video e-mail about it from Starbucks when we were planning our trip and decided that since we were going to be in Seattle, we had to go! It is just several blocks away from the original Pike Place Starbucks location, but is definitely a completely different experience.starbucks-3
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The whole idea behind the Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room is to be a completely unique, one of a kind place where Starbucks can really hone in on more specialty practices and options of what they are most passionate about: coffee. Here, they are able to roast beans that you can’t get anywhere else in the world, share a peek into the roasting process with their visitors, hold workshops and tastings, and offer a completely different, more specialized menu than their regular stores.starbucks-5
We got to see the beans being poured into their packages, the sealing process, and how the labels are attached. We also got to see the beans being prepped for roasting and how they are roasted.starbucks-6
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What is especially unique about the Reserve Roastery, is that all of the beans they serve are roasted in house. You can see above that they are even funneled to the coffee bar by pipes freshly after being roasted, and then you can choose the beans you want!starbucks, starbucks reserve roastery, seattle, coffee
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The menu at this unique shop is also completely different than you would find at a regular Starbucks. I’m pretty sure the poor baristas are asked about 25 thousand times every day if they can order a caramel frapuccino or a white chocolate mocha. Instead, this Starbucks focuses more on the art of more specialized drinks. When you order a coffee drink, you get to to pick the specific beans you would like and how you would like your coffee made, like on the Clover machine, dripped, or in a French press. So many choices, but that is what makes this place special!starbucks, starbucks reserve roastery, seattle, coffee
I settled on a classic vanilla latte (can’t remember which beans or process!) and my boyfriend got an interesting drink that is made with sparkling water, 2 shots of espresso, sweetening syrup, and mint. Needless to say, he hated it. I actually don’t blame him… It was a little too different unfortunately. BUT, we tried something new! We also shared a delicious chocolate espresso tart, and were given little cookies with our drinks.starbucks, starbucks reserve roastery, seattle, coffee
While the line to order was out the door and down the side of the building, we wandered inside and were actually able to snag seats at the bar! When you are lucky enough to find seats at the bar, a barista gives you a menu and serves you like a waiter, so it was really nice! Definitely beats waiting in a long line to order the exact same things and not have a place to sit. It was a nice place to relax and take in everything that was going on. Plus, all of the baristas are much more interesting and ‘artsy’ than you may find at a regular Starbucks!starbucks, starbucks reserve roastery, seattle, coffeeWe had such a lovely time wandering around the Reserve Roastery that I didn’t really want to leave! I wish that I had a book or my laptop with me so that I could hunker down and have some blogging time in a cool place like this 🙂

If you ever visit Seattle, you should definitely make a stop here for an experience that is much different than you will find in your hometown Starbucks!
xoxo,
Jess
 * all photos by Jess unless otherwise noted

Central Park & The Met


It is fall, but it doesn’t really feel like fall yet here in California. When it gets to be this time of year, I usually dream of the east coast, where there is a more noticeable change of seasons. In my mind, there is no better place than New York City in the fall. I am getting nostalgic for our trip there 3 years ago, so I thought I would share a bit about a day we spent there!

On this particular day, we wandered around Central Park and visited the Metropolitan Museum. I remember my boyfriend, Dai, acting a bit secretive and insisting that we had to arrive at Central Park at a certain time, but then as we were walking, he stopped at a restaurant and I was told to wait outside. Kind of unusual, but I took photos of the neighborhood we were in at the time while I waited patiently for him.centralpark7.jpgWhen he walked out, he had a bag and led me to the park, where we took our time wandering around until we came to a nice rock fit for sitting near the lake. And then, of course, he pulled this little picnic out of the bag and we had a lovely time sitting there, freezing, and eating our picnic. It was really so sweet and thoughtful of him to plan something like that for us.centralpark3.jpg
We continued to wander around the many different parts of Central Park, and I decided that it would be a good idea to climb up there to sit on Alice’s lap. Which it wasn’t and I nearly slipped and broke my neck.centralpark4.jpgcentralpark2.jpgthemet5.jpg
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After we had our fill of the park, we made our way to the Met. I didn’t know much about the Met prior to our visit, but it is beautiful and very interesting. Just sitting on the steps is a nice experience.themet8.jpg
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I really loved seeing all the different works of art and exploring the many different sections of the museum, but this room in particular was my very favorite. First of all, this section is huge. It is tall with tons of open space, and for whatever reason, I felt the need to skip along and do my “happy dance,” as Dai and I have come to call it, which apparently is very entertaining. There may or may not be photos, but I will spare you.themet11.jpg
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This photo in particular makes me feel like I am in a “real” museum. You know, antique and royal looking. Definitely not like the museums I have been to in CA!themet9.jpg
These photos really make me want to pack a suitcase and head to the airport! I fell in love with New York while we were there and I can’t wait to go back sometime soon, especially in the fall.

xoxo
Jess

* all photos by Jess unless otherwise noted

Things You Should Eat in Hawaii

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We all know that one of the best parts of traveling is eating all kinds of food! I have been dreaming of the things I ate in Hawaii ever since I got back, so I thought I would share them with you all!
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+ Acai bowls
Acai bowls are hands down my most favorite thing that I ate in Hawaii. They are just so good. They are simple, yet delicious and not to mention, beautiful! I tried acai bowls at several places  during our trip, but Haleiwa Bowls is the best one in my opinion! I’ve been trying to recreate acai bowls at home, but it just isn’t the same as being in Hawaii.

+ Scones from Diamond Head Market
I know this seems like an odd thing to recommend in Hawaii of all places, but I promise you, these scones are like heaven. You know how scones can be dry and gross sometimes? Well, these are the complete opposite. They are so moist and almost cake like. We had to stop on our way to the airport to get a couple more for our flight because they were just that good.
IMG_3581.JPG+ Malasadas from Leonard’s Bakery
These are like little donut pillows filled with flavored custard, and let me tell you, they are amazing. Get some and you won’t regret it! Also, eat them while they’re still hot.IMG_2983.JPG+ Loco Moco
I had a dish called loco coco for the first time when I visited Hawaii. This dish is essentially rice with a hamburger patty, egg, and a gravy on top. I had it at a couple places, but the one from Heavenly in Waikiki was definitely my favorite!

+ Poke
 I am not really a fan of poke, but I know this is definitely something Hawaii is known for! My boyfriend enjoyed some during our trip. Maybe next time I will give it a try too!
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+ Shave Ice
This is another Hawaiian staple! I had some the first day we got there…and then about three other times too! Shave ice is just so nice and refreshing on a hot day.IMG_3887.JPG
+ Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
We had heard about this shrimp truck on the North Shore and knew we had to give it a try! I am not really into seafood much, but this garlic shrimp we had was really yummy. It is a pretty long wait, though, so beware!IMG_3757.JPGIMG_3585.JPGIMG_3189.JPGOther places to visit:

All I can say is… Take me back!

xoxo
Jess

* all photos by Jess unless otherwise noted

Pike Place Market

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My post the other day about 5 things to do in Seattle really made me miss that city! So, I thought I would share a bit about our time exploring Pike Place Market the first time we visited! We ended up coming here a few times throughout our trip since we really enjoyed it. It was definitely a zoo here with all of the people still soaking up the holiday break! I had seen so many photos of the iconic Pike Place Market (especially this sign!), so it was really cool to actually be here myself 🙂
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During our time in Seattle, I always loved the views of Puget Sound and all of the boats and such. We obviously have a huge bay here, but there is just something different about the views of the water here! So beautiful.seattle-4
We opted to take a 2-hour tour of the market with a company called Savor Seattle. It was a great time and really helped us to understand the history of the market and its purpose, which we definitely wouldn’t have learned just wandering around on our own. We also got to try a lot of little bites to eat from vendors in the market area, like clam chowder, seafood bisque, mini doughnuts, Opal apples, tea, smoked salmon, and crab cakes.seattle-5
Our tour guide was really funny and kept our interest the entire time, which was definitely nice. We were also able to find a Groupon for the tour, so I recommend looking for one before you book to save a lot of money!seattle-6
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We decided to visit the market again on our last day in Seattle since there were still some things we wanted to do like eat fish & chips and oysters (well Dai did anyway haha seafood is not my thing), grab some mini cinnamon & sugar doughnuts, and get some Opal apples to take home because they are the best! Never have I been so excited about apples.seattle-8
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So there you have it! Our little visit to Pike Place Market. Looking through these photos really makes me miss Seattle! I hope we get to visit it again sometime, maybe this time in summer 🙂
xoxo

Jess

* all photos by Jess unless otherwise noted