A Very California Christmas Vacation

Oh, heyyyy!!

On Dec. 23, my parents headed out to spend Christmas and New Year’s with Sam and I in LA! 😃🎄🎅🏻 Sam and I were excited to host, show them around, and explore other areas with them like San Diego—which is where we spent a few days.

Here are some of the top highlights from our almost two weeks together:

  • Christmas Eve all together
    • Their first full day with us was Christmas Eve, and we spent it by going to church together in Pasadena, driving through Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena to look at all the festive lights, exchanging one gift each back at home, and devouring Sam’s awesome turkey soup that he made the whole day before my family arrived. (Thanks, Sam!) He didn’t skip a step: roasted the turkey (on brioche bread… a trick his mom taught him) and veggies, and then made the soup from scratch when it was all done. Definitely could taste all the time and energy he put into it. My little soup king! 😉

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  • Christmas Day with all our LA relatives
    • Spending Christmas morning in our home was extra sweet with my parents here. We woke up and had a yummy breakfast with coffee, homemade sausage/cheese/chive biscuits, and a bunch of other tasty sides. Then, we opened our stockings and gifts together in the living room. Afterward, we Facetimed Sam’s family so we could spent a bit of the day with them too (virtually). Later, we headed out to our cousin’s house for a family feast and exchanged our Secret Santa gifts there. My cousin Brian got my name and gifted me an amazing Lush gift box of bath bombs and other fun self-care accessories. He knows me well! (I think I have enough bath bombs to last me half this year, lol.)

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  • Watching comedy specials together
    • We all LOVE to laugh, so any excuse to chuckle and we’re in. Sam and I introduced my parents to some comedy specials they had never seen before, with comedians Sebastian Maniscalco and Jim Gaffigan. They got a kick out of them and we all laughed way too hard. 😂 Which comedians do you love?
  • Tea lunch/afternoon spent at Huntington Library
    • This was a Christmas gift to my parents—admission to Huntington Library and a full tea lunch at their Rose Garden Tea Room. Since this was on a Thursday and Sam had to work (I was off the whole week!), I took my parents out for the day. They didn’t know much of what to expect, so I told them it was kind of like Tower Hill Botanical Garden back in Boylston, MA. There are miles to walk at Huntington (if you want to), so we definitely got our steps in that day. We saw their Japanese and Chinese Gardens, beautiful rose gardens and tons of pieces of artwork. Not everything was in bloom this time of year, but it was still very pleasant to walk around, get some air, and see all the sights. Then it was time for lunch, so we headed over to the Tea Room.

      Lunch included tea for us all (we could pick what we wanted and each of us got our own tea pot), and a delicious fixed menu. On the menu was: homemade scones and biscuits, deviled eggs, finger sandwiches (salmon/cream cheese/dill, turkey and cheese, ham and cheese), cranberry bruschetta, mini mushroom and leek quiches, and dessert, of course (brownies, cookies, and mini pecan pies). In case you’re wondering, the lunch (without alcohol) is $37/person and I really think you get such a fun experience and amount of food for it. My parents loved it and felt so special in the quaint room sipping’ their tea and enjoying their mini bites. 🙂 The service is 👌 too.

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  • Showing my family around Glendale/Pasadena
    • Now that my family has visited our town a number of times, each time they come out we show them less touristy things and more of our “everyday life.” It’s pretty cool! I think they enjoy getting to see a glimpse into our routine and what we do with our free/weekend time. During the first couple days, we brought them to Montrose, a cute town in the Glendale foothills — about 10 minutes north of us. We strolled around and took in the cute scenery dressed up for the holidays. Normally, we would have showed them the Sunday Farmer’s Market up there but we missed out on it both weekends since, they were traveling/we were in San Diego. Next time! We also got to show them more of the Pasadena area, which they loved, and little sections of Glendale for shopping, coffee and lunch.

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  • Trying new-to-us (and them) restaurants like Heritage Eatery (so happy I could finally go since their hours are M-F 11:30-3:30) and Casa De Ramos in Glendale and Draft Republic, Whiskey Girl, Bronx Pizza, and Mona Lisa Restaurant in San Diego. All were tasty!
    • You guys already know this, but I’m a huge foodie. I love trying new restaurants, cuisines and meals—and having a week off to really explore and enjoy a leisurely meal out was awesome. We got in our fair share of meals out during my parents’ visit.

      I would say that one of my favorites was lunch at a new(ish) Armenian restaurant called Heritage Eatery in Glendale. I just loved it there! We got their: rose water lemonade, fig preserve/feta with chips appetizer, cups of their homemade tomato bisque (on the house), My Husband’s Favorite Tuna Sandwich, Veggie Wrap, and Roasted Chicken Salad. Everything was m’m m’m good. I can’t wait to go back.

      In San Diego, we didn’t have a shortage of good food either between the NY-style pizza we got from Bronx Pizza, the gluttonous mac ’n cheese from Draft Republic and all the homemade Italian food we dug into at Mona Lisa’s (I split lasagne and meat balls with my Mom).

      San Diego proves they don’t just do beaches right… they do food right.

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  • Long weekend/New Year’s in San Diego, where we explored Coronado Island, Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, La Jolla Cove, Sunset Cliffs and Ocean Beach.
    • For New Year’s weekend, we stayed in a spacious and centrally-located 2-bedroom Airbnb in La Jolla. It was the perfect place for the four of us to stay, complete with two balconies, parking, a private entrance, a full kitchen and comfy beds!

      La Jolla is a gorgeous part of San Diego, so it was awesome getting to stay there and explore that part of the city. We were just a short 15-minute drive into the city, which was awesome for going to and from the more touristy parts of town during the day. We only had one rainy morning/afternoon, which wasn’t bad at all!

      Once again, we got TONS of walking in here, which we liked to think evened out all the eating we did. 😉 (Hah.. who am I kidding?)

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  • ALL the Mexican food
    • Between LA and San Diego, we certainly had some yummy Mexican food—my Dad’s absolute favorite cuisine. On Christmas Eve, we had lunch at Victoria’s in Glendale (cheap AND good), on the ride down to San Diego we stopped in Encinitas for lunch at El Napolito, and then later in the trip we had dinner back in Glendale at Barragain’s (a spot we usually go to for their Monday dollar tacos). Needless to say, we were all stuffed on Mexican food the past week, haha. Time for a little detox!

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What a great holiday it was! It’s always extra special when we can spend it with family, since we’re so far from home. If only everyone could have come out. ❤️

I’m grateful for my parents making the trip out and making the holiday so fun.

Hope everyone had a wonderful New Year’s and is kicking off 2019 just right. 🥂

Talk to you soon!
Ari

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