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Disneyland Birthday Trip + PinchMe Review

18 Mar

Yesterday while everyone celebrated St. Patrick’s Day we also celebrated my niece’s second birthday, or what I like to call “St. Sophia’s Day!” Last year her parents put on a huge rainbow themed bash and pulled out all the stops. This year, they went a bit more low-key and took her to Disneyland over the weekend. They extended the invite and we accepted. I absolutely love Disney and will not pass up an opportunity to visit the happiest place on Earth!

My sisters Jessica, Marina, my niece Sophia and me posing by the famous Mickey Mouse flowers.

My sisters Jessica, Marina, my niece Sophia and me posing by the famous Mickey Mouse flowers.

It’s awesome watching my niece enjoy the magic of Disneyland for the first time. I will never forget her squeal of excitement coming out of Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, or her big smile after going for a spin on The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. She acted absolutely adorable when she had her one-on-one meet and greet with Mickey Mouse. I can’t wait to see what those photos look like. It was a great day and we were all exhausted and happy. Luckily, Sophia napped frequently and her parents kept snacks and water handy in between events so she was in good spirits throughout the day.

I also posted another video on my YouTube channel. This time it’s about this free sample service called PinchMe. Watch the video for all the deets and feel free to subscribe, new videos are posted every Sunday!

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Lake Tahoe Honeymoon

13 Feb

When trying to settle on a honeymoon destination there were few different ideas we thought about. First, a cruise seemed like a good idea. Then a road trip seemed fun. To Utah! To Colorado! To Canada! Finally, we decided that a mini-road trip to Lake Tahoe would be our best bet. We love the outdoors but still wanted some luxury accommodations and didn’t have a lot of money to spend. Lake Tahoe seemed to fit all those requirements and it’s a place I’d never been to and Kyle never visited during the summer.Honeymoon at Lake Tahoe

We were able to enjoy the outdoors by taking hikes, jet skiing, swimming and riding the gondola to enjoy the scenic views. Then we also stayed at a nice little hotel with a fireplace and hot tub in the room. We enjoyed a sunset dinner cruise around the lake and a nice dinner at a casino. It was the perfect blend of outdoorsy fun and “typical” honeymoon activities. We spent a full week in Lake Tahoe and really took our time to explore the area and take time to relax and unwind as a married couple for the first time!

We enjoy taking road trips for the most part because it gives us time to bond, we play music we like and delve into conversation. We like checking out the scenery and ask each other questions. Also, thanks to technology if we wonder about something we pass by on the road we can Google it!

Kyle and Monique Abrahamsen

Newlywed and snapping a selfie at a desert rest stop on our way to Lake Tahoe.

We stayed at Secrets Inn, a small hotel just a short walk from the lake and casinos. The perfect location! We love this hotel and I would recommend it to a friend. You can find my full review of Secrets Inn on Yelp just click here. On our first day out we went jet skiing. We had a blast! I admit I’m a bit of a scaredy cat and didn’t want Kyle to go too fast but we did end up falling into the lake at one point and it was FREEZING cold!

jet ski Lake Tahoe

Snapped this right before jet skiing on the lake.

We enjoyed a casual dinner at State-line Brewery and Restaurant. This was a short walk away from our hotel so we took our time tasting different local brews and really enjoyed our vacation. And yeah, it’s located right on the Nevada/California state-line heh heh…

At State-line Brewery and Restaurant

At State-line Brewery and Restaurant

Next day we took a ride on the Heavenly Gondola where we enjoyed scenic views and a challenging hike. Heavenly is the name of the main ski resort in South Lake Tahoe. We were right across the street from the main resort so we got to enjoy the resort without paying resort prices!

Selfie in the gondola!

Selfie in the gondola!

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Taking pictures during our hike

Lake Tahoe is so beautiful!

Lake Tahoe is so beautiful!

I believe we hiked 3-4 times during our week long stay. We really stayed active during the day and treated ourselves at night. I was so proud of myself being able to do so much activity and not feel tired. I worked hard the months leading up to the wedding to be in good shape and good health for the wedding and this trip.

Honeymoon Lake Tahoe

This photo is from a different hike on a different day. This is a view of Emerald Bay.

One place I’d like to return to is Sugar Pine Point State Park. First, the park ranger was a sweetheart, he saw all the “Just Married” scribblings on our car and let us in the park for free. Second–it’s absolutely gorgeous! I would love to come back and camp there. The trees are SUPER TALL and the water is peaceful, not too many people around so you can have a little piece of the lake all to yourself if you want. We also saw a couple touring the grounds to plan their wedding!

Kyle Abrahamsen Sugar Pine Lake Tahoe

Kyle next to the SUPER TALL trees at Sugar Pine Point

The sunset dinner cruise on the MS Dixie II from Zephyr Cove to Emerald Bay was amazing. This was one of the “luxury” things we really wanted to do. There was a band and dance floor and they played typical cheesy cruise type music, like Jimmy Buffet songs. It was fun! We were absolutely the first couple to hit the dance floor and one older lady told us we were the “bravest” couple on the cruise. I think we just exuded happiness and positive energy!

Yet another selfie...this time on the sunset dinner cruise.

Yet another selfie…this time on the sunset dinner cruise.

Another luxury type thing we wanted to experience was a show at one of the hotel/casinos. We found out comedian Whitney Cummings was performing so we bought tickets and laughed the night away. Again, very short walking distance from the hotel so we both enjoyed drinks and laughs and walked back to the hotel safely. We were really in a great location.

About to see comedian Whitney Cummings at MontBleu Hotel and Casino.

About to see comedian Whitney Cummings at MontBleu Hotel and Casino.

So that’s how you honeymoon in Lake Tahoe on a tight budget! I will be honest, monetary wedding gifts helped make this honeymoon complete. We made sure to send thank you notes to each person that helped make this an amazing vacation. We really experienced the best of both worlds.

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Monique Is Exploring Idaho

7 Jan

During the week of Christmas we packed up the car and drove out to Idaho to visit my in-laws. They recently bought a house in the little town called Mountain Home. The biggest employers are the Air Force Base, Wal-Mart and a cheese packing plant. Nevertheless, I am always excited to visit new places and experience new things. On our way over we took the Nevada route–a long empty lifeless (save for a few cows) highway also known as the “Extraterrestrial Highway.” You can go on 100+ mile stretches without seeing a single rest stop, gas station or structure. For the way back we went through Utah which was much better because there is civilization throughout!

Anyway, back to Idaho. Being from Southern California neither of us has experience with driving in snow. Just our luck, it started snowing when we were 30 minutes away from the house around 1 o’clock in the morning! We were cautious with driving over the icy looking roads during the whole trip but actual snow falling from the sky put us on high alert. For those who are used to driving in snow it was probably no big deal at all–in fact a semi truck passed us up on the freeway! We would just rather be safe than sorry.

I took this photo on our first day there, it was cold enough to freeze a dripping faucet!

I took this photo on our first day there, it was cold enough to freeze a dripping faucet! But I know I can’t complain much since most of the country is freezing or even below freezing right now due to the polar vortex.

Our first day there we visited the big city in Idaho–Boise. It was a nice drive, some hills, mountains in the distance snow on the ground, that sort of thing. We watched a movie and went to dinner then headed back home.

Snowball fight! Kyle's running trying to peg me with a snowball.

Driving in snow makes us nervous but we’ll run full speed…

On another day we drove out to Bogus Basin for some snowboarding. I’ve snowboarded a few times now but this mountain was very different for a novice like myself. There were hills on the trail that are difficult to get over if you are not comfortable with catching speed. The moderate trail felt more difficult than the moderate trails I’ve been on in California.

Hi!

Hi! My pant leg is up because I have weird snowboarding pants.

However, I still enjoyed myself and for the first time I was out on the mountain with REAL snow falling from the sky, instead of the snow generated by fans that a lot of California resorts use. One of the most amazing things I saw that day was as we were on the ski lift going up the mountain, the higher we got the less I could see! Snow fell all around me and a white blanket of fog crept up and shrouded the trees. All around me was just blank whiteness. It was scary because I couldn’t see under me but at the same time so beautiful and peaceful. Luckily the fog and snow didn’t obstruct my view of the ski lift exit!

Ski lift at Bogus Basin, Idaho.

Ski lift at Bogus Basin, Idaho.

We drove out to the Boise Forest and stopped at the Anderson Dam on Christmas Eve for a family outing. My father-in-law drove leisurely and we stopped whenever someone saw something of interest. We took photos and videos and walked around a bit. During the summer people take boats on the lake and go camping in the mountains. Since it was winter we were the only people around! We enjoyed the quiet and beauty of the forest during winter.

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One last photo for fun πŸ™‚

Uncle Alberto, Me and Kyle

Uncle Alberto, Me and Kyle at Bogus Basin

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San Francisco Golden Gate Park

8 May

First off, before I get into how much I fell in love with Golden Gate Park, I must say that the public transportation system in San Francisco is superb. Our City Pass allowed us to board anything in the Muni system and the trolleys. Each bus stop was clean, covered and included a digital display letting travelers know when the next bus would arrive. Compared to the dirty, uncovered benches in L.A. that I’ve only passed by the San Francisco system seems a lot better. We took the bus to Golden Gate park and back to our hotel with ease.

Flowers at Golden Gate Park

Anyway, on with the park! Golden Gate Park must be something similar to Central Park in New York, although I can’t say for sure because I have yet to visit New York! There is so much beauty in this park. From casual walking trails, meadows, lakes, groves and gardens there is plenty of space to take a walk and clear your mind. You can also visit the De Young Museum and California Academy of Sciences.

Calla Lilies at Golden Gate Park

Tree Branches Golden Gate Park

We and strolled around one of the lakes and hiked up Strawberry Hill. I love that there were people sitting on benches causally sipping wine! If I ever move to San Francisco I would pick a place near this park. I sensed the importance of healthy living and family in San Francisco. I observed mom’s walking with strollers, adult children walking with their elders.

Turtles on the water at Golden Gate Park

Monique Strawberry HillThis is me at Strawberry Hill. I took a few moments to close my eyes and listen. It was just beautiful and relaxing. You can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the background of this photo!

View From Strawberry Hill Golden Gate Park

If you ever visit San Francisco definitely block off a day to enjoy this park. Start your day with a walk then head over to one of the gardens and spend the rest of the day exploring museums.

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San Francisco Tonga Room Review

1 May

After hearing so many wonderful things about the Tonga Room in San Francisco we were pretty excited to check it out. We read about it in our AAA guidebook and got word of mouth reviews from my friend and even from a cab driver in San Francisco! However, there were some good things and some bad things about our experience at the Tonga Room.

The decor in the Tonga Room is purposely kitschy Polynesian themed. Every so often water falls from the ceiling (a tropical rainstorm) into a pool set in the middle of the room. A band plays purposely kitschy well-known songs from a boat floating in the pool. There is a bar and dance floor as well as tables and chairs for meals.

We went for dinner and arrived 15 minutes before the cut off to pay a cover. They made us wait the 15 minutes in order to charge the cover. Not cool Tonga Room! We were seated and shortly after that placed our drink orders. If you go, definitely order the Mai Tai! As I sipped it I was immediately transported back to Hawaii. It was a good strong drink, totally worth the price. Plus it comes in this ceramic coconut drinkware!

coconut

The menu is small, there isn’t much too choose from and it is pricey. For our appetizer we ordered calamari. That tasted great, nice and cripsy and the dipping sauce was zesty. A perfect start to our meal. I chose the orange chicken, Kyle ordered roasted chicken, and our friend Jon ordered coconut prawns. My dish tasted good,the chicken was juicy and the glaze was nice. It wasn’t amazing but it wasn’t bad. Kyle did not like his chicken and did not like the way his asparagus was cooked. Jon’s dish however, was awful. The shell was left on the prawns and he lost his appetite. The waitress graciously took the plate away and removed the item from our bill.

I unfortunately do not have any photos of our food because it was after a long day of sight-seeing for me and Kyle. We were famished by this time and just dug into our meals when they arrived. Plus the dim ambient lighting didn’t allow for good photos, although it did set a nice mood.

I would recommend going to the Tonga Room to enjoy a Mai Tai or two at the bar and just have fun dancing and listening to the band. Maybe going for lunch might be a better experience! I do not regret going, it was all part of the San Francisco experience for me.

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