June 28, 2012

Thursday Travel Tips: Day Trip to Montserrat

Quite often I get hit with a severe case of wanderlust. 
During those times, I've found two remedies that typically cure me fairly quickly:
1) plan a new vacation, preferably in the very near future,
and 2) get cozy by the computer and reminisce over pictures taken during past trips. 
Since we already have our next trip planned out to a tee,
I figured that looking back over our honeymoon pictures would do me good.
I've realized that there are a ton of pictures that I never shared on my blog, 
so I figured I'll incorporate them into Thursday Travel Tips over the next few weeks. 

Today I'd like to tell you about Montserrat, Spain. 
I've mentioned in the past, that Spain is one of my favorite places on earth.. 
but Montserrat is on another level, literally. 
Nestled in the mountains,
about 4,000 ft. up,
sits the ancient monastery of Montserrat. 
Thousands of people travel here every year to see and touch the medieval statue of La Moreneta,
also known as the Black Virgin.
Some believe that the miraculous statue possesses mystical healing powers,
and many newly married couples flock here for her blessing.
I'm not sure what I believe,
but since we were on our honeymoon,
we figured that passing up the extra blessings was not an option. 
The best and most exciting way to get to Montserrat is via the Catalan railway.
Take a train from Placa d'Espanya in Barcelona,
which connects to an aerial cableway that will lift you up to the mountain top. 
The whole journey will take a little over an hour each way,
but I doubt you'll get bored on the ride, because you'll probably be too busy gawking at the incredible views. 

Once there, take your time and breathe in the fresh air. 
Wander through the basilica at your own pace, as admission is free. 
To view the Black Virgin, enter the church through a side door to the right, 
(you'll probably see a line of people waiting to get in throughout the day). 
If you're lucky, you can catch a performance by Escolania,
one of the oldest most renowned boys' choirs in Europe,
who perform daily at 1 p.m. in the basilica. 
That's her below, the famous Virgin of Montserrat.
While Mary is behind a protective glass case, the royal orb she cradles in her hand is exposed.
Pilgrims can touch the orb with one hand, and hold their other hand up to show they accept Jesus and receive their blessings.
Other attractions on the mountain include a museum,
and Sant Joan funicular, which continues another 820 feet above the monastery.
From there, a 20-minute walk takes you to the Sant Joan chapel, 
as well as to the starting point of numerous hikes. 
You can also hike down to the Santa Cova (about a 40-minute journey),
and explore around the sacred cave where La Moreneta was originally located. 


June 24, 2012

Date Night

Summer Corn & Green Bean Salad: caramelized onions, bacon & sage vinaigrette
Stuffed Braised Squid: puttanesca, cotechino & breadcrumb salsa
Short Rib Ravioli: duck liver, parmigiano-reggiano & truffle oil
This weekend the hubby and I went on a much anticipated date. 
We kicked the night off with dinner and cocktails at the newly opened PrepKitchen in Little Italy.
The restaurant decor is adorable,
and their happy hour deals are awesome! 
I know I'll be back for some tapas and sangria in the very near future.

After dinner, 
we went on a leisurely stroll over to the San Diego Civic Center,
where we finally saw Wicked!
I've heard great reviews about this show,
but it completely blew my expectations out of the water!
The production will be in San Diego for another month,
and if you haven't bought tickets yet, I highly recommend you get on it quickly. 
Worth. Every. Penny. 
Hope you're having a great weekend! 


June 22, 2012

Kappa Pisco

Summer officially began this week,
and although the weather in San Diego is pretty awesome all year-round,
the kick-off to the season seemed like a great reason to have a few cocktails on our patio.

A few weeks ago I received a bottle of KAPPA Pisco,
a luxury white spirit,
made from double distillation of wine.
KAPPA is the newest member of the Marnier Lapostolle family,
joining the ranks of its famous siblings, the Grand Marnier liqueurs and other famous spirits.

My first impression when I opened up the package?
The sleek and eye-catching midnight blue bottle is a stunner!
And no wonder -
after reading through the attached information,
I found out that the bottle was specially created by international renowned designer Ora-Ito.
I'm personally planning to stock up on a few bottles myself,
so I can give them out as hostess gifts in the future.
I'm not going to lie,
prior to being contacted by Truth Be Told PR regarding this product,
I've never heard of pisco before.
So what does this stuff actually taste like?
I suppose the best way to describe it would be as a white brandy...
KAPPA's orange blossom floral aromatics and delicate notes of fruit, make it an ideal choice for the summer,
especially with the variety of easy, fancy cocktails that you can pull together from very few ingredients. 
Last night,
the hubby and I decided to stay in and have a nice date night at home.
While he barbecued some delicious pork chops outside,
I made some fresh appetizers and cocktails.
The result was a perfect summer combo that was beautiful to look at, 
(gotta remember to save these recipes next time we host some friends over),
and scrumptious to consume.
It was a great way to wind down from the day, and watch the sunset.

KAPPA Grapefruit Fizz
1 1/2 oz KAPPA
3 oz grapefruit juice
1 oz bottle soda water (I used tonic water for an extra citrus punch)
Pour KAPPA and grapefruit juice into an ice filled glass. Top with soda water and garnish with mint. 

Watermelon Cubes with Feta & Mint
16 1-inch cubes seedless watermelon, chilled
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
2 teaspoons finely chopped shallots
Using a small melon baller, scoop out a small well in each watermelon cube, keeping the walls of the cube intact. In a small bowl, mash together the feta, mint and shallots; season with pepper. Stuff the wells of the watermelon cubes with feta mixture.


June 18, 2012

Xtend Barre Giveaway

News flash ladies,
did you know that bikini season is officially upon us?
Now I know that all of you are already in tip-top shape,
so I have a special treat to help maintain those svelte figures.

I like to think that I live a pretty healthy lifestyle.
Even though I'm a big fan of dining out, I try to stick to a nutricious diet majority of the time.
And although there are times when I need extra motivation to get into the gym, I push myself to be accountable for the amount of times I exercise throughout the week.
When it comes to fitness, I've found that variety is key.
No matter how much I love to hate that stairmaster,
there's just no way that I can keep hopping on it day after day without changing it up.

I'm personally a HUGE fan of classes.
Spin, body pump, yoga, crossfit...
you name it, I've probably done it.
Maybe it's my competitive nature,
or the fact that the hour seems to fly by when I'm trying to keep up with the rest of the class,
but either way, I think it's one of the best ways to streamline your weight-loss.

Like I said, I love trying new things and constantly challenging myself,
so I was delighted to be contacted by Be Social PR with an offer to try out an Xtend Barre class in my area.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect since I've never tried this technique before,
well with the exception of my astute career as a miniature ballerina when I was eight years old and living in Russia, which was tragically cut short by first signs of breast development... life ain't fair, I know.
Let me tell you something friends,
I did NOT expect this class to challenge every single muscle in my body!
 I was amazed that by the time I walked out of the studio,
I was drenched in sweat, and already feeling first signs of soreness.
Sweet success!
And now you can experience it for yourself,
because I have partenered with Xtend Barre to host a very special giveaway!
A two-week, unlimited membership redeemable at both Xtend Barre Carlsbad AND Carmel Valley locations, can be yours if you win.
To enter the giveaway, you probably want to be a So Cal resident, and do the following easy peasy steps:
1. Follow In Love With San Diego on GFC or Bloglovin.
2. Follow @inlovewsandiego on Twitter.
3. Depending on which location is closest to you, follow either @xtendcrmlvalley or @xtendcarlsbad on Twitter.
4. Leave a comment on this post with your email address.

And that's it!
The contest is open until June 29th, 2012, and the winner will be chosen at random.
Good luck!


June 11, 2012

Sorry for PartyRockin

On Saturday night,
we celebrated part II of my birthday. 
I got my partyrock crew together,
and after everyone went through a rigorous dress-code check (neons were of course mandatory),
we all piled into a party bus and were on our way to the LMFAO concert. 

The whole night was kind of a blur,
and I'm not lying when I say that I spent the WHOLE next day recovering in bed,
but it was all worth it, because we had such a blast! 
Another giant thank you goes out to all my friends -
you guys are seriously THE BEST!


June 9, 2012


Oh my goooooodness you guys!
Ok, so today is my birthday. 
Yours truly is officially past her quarter-life crisis, 
and is feeling pretty damn good about turning 26!
And how can I not,
when I get to kick off my birthday weekend with a surprise party from some of my favorite people?!

That's right. 
That sneaky husband of mine is pretty much a saint... 
He tricked me into a romantic dinner date last night,
and little did I know,
that we'd be joined by some of my bestest friends. 
He actually pulled it off -
I was shocked when I walked into The Marble Room and had my friends scream "SURPRISE",
as they jumped out to greet me. 
I'm such a lucky girl to have all these amazing people in my life. Truly. 
Thank you to everyone who came out last night!
I love you all SO much.
My gorgeous cake from Extraordinary Desserts
This has seriously been the best birthday EVER,
and did I mention that the celebration has just begun? 
I think that's why I was so surprised to see everyone last night...
since we have a huge party planned for tonight too!
So spoiled!


June 6, 2012


I am so incredibly giddy today,
because the hubby and I officially booked our next adventure!
I love traveling like a fat kid loves cake,
and our next trip comes with extra frosting.

We're planning one helluava journey,
and it all starts on August 31st.
We'll begin our vacation in London,
where we'll spend six glorious days.
From there, we're going to attempt to drive through the UK, and into Edinburgh.
We'll spend three days in Scotland,
and then hop over to Ireland, where we'll spend three days in and around Dublin.
After Dublin, we're going to fly over to the Netherlands,
where we'll bike all around Amsterdam.
And lastly,
we'll take the train into Belgium,
where we'll finish off the trip with some mussels from Brussels, and a little side trip into Bruges.

Sounds like a lot,
and I cannot wait!
I would love to hear any tips that you may have about some of the countries we're visiting.
I personally love reading about all the amazing experiences that some of you write about when you travel.
Till then,
let the countdown begin!