Posts in "California"
An Impromptu Weekend in South Lake Tahoe
An Impromptu Weekend in South Lake Tahoe | Freckled Italian

The awful fires taking place in Napa and Sonoma have been going for a week now and a lot of the smoke drifted down into the Bay Area--I didn't think much of it until Thursday when I started feeling lightheaded and couldn't stop coughing. Rob suggested we get out of town for the weekend so we booked an Airbnb in South Lake Tahoe (it was actually another little studio cabin attached to the place we stayed last time).

I felt a little silly leaving because of the smoke when so many people actually had to evacuate because they were in real danger, but we figured with me being almost 35 weeks pregnant, it was better to be safe than sorry; so on Friday morning we packed up the car and the pup and hit the road. We didn't really make any plans since this wasn't supposed to be a vacation (and we were just in San Luis Obispo a couple weekends ago), so we brought a bunch of snacks and drinks with us and decided to do a lot of relaxing at the cabin.

There was another Harry Potter marathon on TV (apparently we're really good at going to Tahoe for Harry Potter marathon weekends) so we hung around for a while before going out for a pretty mediocre dinner at Cold Water Brewery. I think we got the wrong stuff--Rob got a flight of beers and didn't really like most of them and then he had a pretty expensive burger that left a lot to be desired. I ordered soup and a salad that was super boring, but on our way out we saw a couple with some delicious-looking pretzel bites and $4 pints...I think we'll do that next time.

I woke up early the next morning and took Ender for a long walk--it was 25 degrees and the fresh air felt so amazing after a week of smoke. We went back to the cabin and I made a pot of coffee and some cinnamon rolls and sausage (we stopped by Safeway after our sad dinner and bought some milk for coffee, stuff for breakfast, and a couple pints of Ben & Jerry's...Pregnant Megan is a real sucker for junk food).

We wanted Chinese for lunch but the place we looked up was closed, so we drove down the road a bit and stopped at a little place called My Thai instead. The Pad Thai was super delicious (although next time I'm going to ask them to make it spicy), and the portions were huge so we brought a box home and had it for dinner later. After lunch we went to South Lake Brewing Company and Rob tried a few beers and I had a sparkling tea which was a little weird, but nice--I always appreciate it when a brewery or winery has a non-alcoholic option that's not water. I wanted to go to Free Bird for an afternoon chai latte but they close at 2PM so we ended up being basic and driving through a Starbucks to split a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

I thought I would do a lot of reading, writing, and getting ahead for the week but it ended up being a weekend full of naps, Harry Potter, and chilly walks with Ender and Rob in our cute neighborhood full of cabins or down by the lake--not super productive but pretty awesome. And I still got that Free Bird chai latte on Sunday morning (seriously, if you're in South Lake Tahoe you need to stop by--it's the cutest little place and the coffee and tea are really good.)

It's kind of fun finding new getaways when you move to a new place, and even though we hadn't planned on being there this weekend, it was nice to escape to a place that's starting to feel like a home away from home. (Although I think having the sweetest husband and cuddliest pup to hang out with helps a lot.) I'm already daydreaming about bringing the baby there when some of our friends come to visit this winter (after a stop at some of our favorite wineries in Sonoma and Napa, of course). It's weekends like this one that make me feel like we're really making the most of our time in California.

Wishing you all a cozy, safe week.

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From Sea to Shining Sea (Part Two)
From Sea to Shining Sea | Freckled Italian

A year ago we were driving through Kansas on our way to Denver.

I remember standing in front of a lake on the side of the highway in Colorado on the first day of fall, swallowed by mountains and feeling the first chills of autumn in a way that felt like we were somehow escaping the still-hot summer haze of North Carolina that we had left several days before. We walked Ender down a trail along the water, away from the interstate as cars zoomed by behind us, and as we stood at the edge of the lake I felt for the first time that we were really far away from home--wherever that is. But the air was cool and refreshing and I had my dog and my husband by my side and our life really was starting to feel like an adventure.

I'm so thankful for that road trip across the country, from Charlotte to Nashville to New Orleans and back up through Texas, then to Colorado and Salt Lake City and Lake Tahoe before we finally made it to the Bay Area a week later, tired but ready to start a life on the west coast.

And now here we are, having just moved all of our stuff from the South Bay to the East Bay and trying to figure out where our new Chinese takeout place will be, where I'll grocery shop; color-coding my bookshelf for the third time but now in the bright yellow bedroom that will be our daughter's nursery.

We packed the last of our stuff into the car on Saturday afternoon and drove away from the townhouse we called home for the past twelve months, marveling that we've been in California long enough to have a place we can now refer to as "our first place in California." We stopped by our favorite Chinese place in our old neighborhood for dinner on Thursday and we ate there instead of getting takeout, and the guy behind the counter was surprised by it. We do have rituals here, even if they're fewer and further between. I still think I'd rather be back on the East Coast, in Charlotte or maybe Richmond--regulars at our favorite coffee shops and just minutes away from old friends, but over the past few months I've found myself living in a place of contentment--happy to be where I am, open to the things that make California different from Virginia or North Carolina, and excited to start our family right here in just a couple months.

Sometimes I'll be on Facebook and come across an old classmate or friend who stayed in one city--they've worked for the same company since college and married someone who had already planted roots or maybe they bought a house and live close to their parents and they never had to make new friends or pack everything they own into a U-Haul. I have to admit that I'm often jealous of those people, but then I wake up in my house full of boxes and open the window over the sink as I boil water for coffee, and Rob and Ender are snuggled up in our bed and this baby is rolling around in my belly and even if I could imagine my life another way, I wouldn't.


(From Sea to Shining Sea, Part One)

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One Year Ago in California
One Year Ago in California | Freckled Italian

A year ago I stood at the table in my Charlotte kitchen on a 100 degree day, folding laundry and packing jeans and scarves into a suitcase to go to San Francisco for a week.

Rob had been traveling back and forth for almost two months, and his company was flying me out to meet him in California and spend a week house hunting. We had just moved into this three bedroom, two bathroom rental with a huge open kitchen and a backyard and I was selfishly feeling heartbroken about leaving it so soon--the house for which we signed a two-year lease because we pictured ourselves staying in Charlotte forever, in a city big enough to be exciting but small enough to run into people you know at the coffee shop, close to family, full of great friends and, in a few years, a couple little kids running barefoot across the hardwood floors and into the yard with the dog. I pictured our little family walking to get tacos on a Tuesday night or hopping onto the light rail with a stroller for brunch at 7th Street Public Market on a Saturday morning.

But we were lucky enough to be presented with Rob's dream job, one that could change our lives in so many ways even though we knew it would require us to move to California, so I dropped Ender off at the pet sitter and zipped up my bag and headed to the airport. I left the muggy and buggy familiarity of summer in the South for the chilly, almost wet breeze of the Bay Area in August, and I breathed it in as Rob pulled up in the rental car, gave me a kiss, tossed my bags into the trunk, and took me to In-N-Out for a burger and fries.

We spent a couple of days in the South Bay looking at apartments and townhouses, eventually finding the place we currently call home. We walked down Castro Street in Downtown Mountain View and ate Thai food on a sidewalk patio, had coffee at Red Rock and walked across the street for huge omelets at Crepevine, trying to picture our lives in this new neighborhood. The weather was great and I was up early every morning from jet lag, and even through my anxiety of leaving everything I know, I could see it.

I miss the East Coast every day but that doesn't mean we aren't happy here. It's taken time and it's still a work in progress but we've pieced together a life for ourselves on the West Coast.

A few days later we ventured north to San Francisco and spent the rest of the week living out of a tiny hotel room in Union Square--Rob and I would walk to the Blue Bottle in SoMa for coffee before he hopped on a shuttle to his office every morning, and I'd grab breakfast to go somewhere and bring it back to the hotel where I'd get back in bed with avocado toast, a half-drunk cappuccino, and my laptop. My first cookbook was being released that week and there was something about being out of town for it that really made me feel like an author. I'd do some work, take a shower, and wander back out into the city to find some lunch, Purity Ring blasting into my earbuds as I walked down the sidewalk.

One afternoon I ran out of things to do so I called an Uber and rode to Baker Beach by myself. The driver dropped me off by the path to the shore and I took my shoes off, digging my feet into the cold sand with every step as I made my way down to the freezing water. The waves crashed roughly and soaked the bottom of my jeans but I just stood there, thinking about my hot and humid home in Charlotte with a jacket buttoned all the way up and a scarf wrapped tightly around my neck, the wind whipping my hair into a frenzy as I took in the Golden Gate Bridge ahead of me in all its majesty. 

It wasn't home--it wasn't even familiar. But it was exciting. 

Next weekend Rob and I will leave our sweaters behind as we head to the East Coast for 11 muggy days to see our family and friends at my baby shower and then his cousin's wedding the following weekend. In twelve months I've made new friends and missed my old ones more than I thought was possible, trained to be a fitness instructor (something I didn't know I had in me), gotten to know a new region of the country, written another book, created and began growing a human person, fallen even more in love with my sweet husband (seriously Rob I love you more every day), and have started looking--once again--for another place to live (I think I miss having a backyard more than Ender does).

The time has simultaneously flown and crept by. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again--it's amazing what can happen in a year.

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