Bye-bye Baltimore!


When Andrew first told me that he wanted to take a job in Baltimore, I thought, why the heck would we want to move there?? Do we really want to trade living on the Pacific ocean for “crab cakes and football”? I didn’t know anything about the city at that point, except that it seemed dangerous and “The Wire”, a famous HBO cop drama, was filmed there. Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised to learn how beautiful the city’s inner harbor is and how friendly the people are. Our 6 month adventure on the east coast was full of excitement and gave us a taste of life in the “charm city”.Baltimore /

One of the highest points was the steak dinner Andrew made December 6th, before asking me to marry him! We went out that night to one of our favorite restaurant/bars, Ryleigh’s Oyster, with our best friend Elaine and drank their infamous freshly made orange crush cocktails all night.Baltimore /

The lowest point is pretty easy for me to pick-out: It was my first week visiting Andrew in June when he came home at 5am (he worked 3rd shift) and said “Don’t freak out, but I was just robbed at gun point.” How do you expect me to react to that statement?! I instantly started balling out of shock. However, if you ask him about this night, it was easily his high point. An officer in cargo shorts and bullet proof best showed up, Andrew hopped in the cop car shot gun, and they sped up and down the streets looking for the guys. He experienced the Cops TV show firsthand as they located the get-away-van, the cop yanked the driver out through the window, threw him to the ground, and got Andrew’s phone back. His story made the local news.Baltimore /

I was surprised to learn how beautiful the city is. I really enjoyed going for walks/runs around the inner harbor, which sits in the middle of the downtown business district. We settled into Federal Hill, a neighborhood that bumps up right next to the harbor and downtown. The area is named for a grassy hill on the north side of town that looks out over the harbor and city skyline. Federal Hill is full of charming open-air bars, restaurants, and lots of young professionals our age. You can tell it would be easy to settle into a great group of friends here because everyone is so friendly and loves to talk. Over 20% of residents walk to work, so it was common to bump into the same people day to day. This was our street and our cute apartment.Baltimore /

When I first arrived in fall, the streets were lined with beautiful trees just starting to change colors. And then winter came and it was a bit exciting to have to brush snow off my car for the first time in 5 years! That charm wore off as the polar vortex continued and a city with no experience in clearing snow continued to get buried! Overall though, the temperatures are much milder in Baltimore compared to the rest of the east coast, making it a much more manageable winter than I expected.Baltimore /

I was saddened to give up my last claim to CA life when I was forced to convert to a Maryland license. There is clearly a stark contrast between my tanned, tank top wearing CA photo and my pale, scarf-wrapped mug shot on my Maryland ID! Little did I know, I would only be a true Maryland resident for another few months…Baltimore license /

When I moved from Manhattan Beach to Baltimore 6 months ago, there were lots of tears and heartfelt goodbyes. But with this  next move, I could not be more excited! We are moving to the rajin’ Cajun city of New Orleans and looking forward to live music, warm weather, swamp tours, and delicious Creole food!Baltimore / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comI officially landed in the New Orleans airport for the first time last night, on my 27th birthday, and the flight attendant came over the speaker saying “Welcome to the Big Easy!!” I can’t wait to explore the south and learn all about this wild city :)

Aspen in Winter


Aspen has quickly become one of my favorite places to visit in winter! I visited again last week and was reminded again of what a charming town it is. Aspen is actually a small little city, but surrounded by 4 huge mountains to choose between and first-class dining to fuel all the activity. In case you are inspired to go, here are some of the things I love and recommend!Aspen Mountain /

Much to my surprise, we’ve never faced crowds on the mountains or waited more than a few minutes for a lift. There are NO lines! Because the Denver population has so many closer mountains to choose from, such as Keystone or Breckenridge, and it’s a 4 hour drive away, you are mainly surrounded by locals and a few other vacationers. The easiest way to get to Aspen is to fly into Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE). The aspen airport is only 3-4 miles from the downtown area, about a $25 cab ride.Aspen Mountain /

It is a quieter city, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t nightlife. All the action of the town is centered around the main lift to Aspen Mountain, in a 4 by 4 block square radius packed with restaurants, bars and shops. It’s magical at night with all the trees lit up.Aspen Mountain /

The 4 Mountains: They are all connected by a free bus system and accessible with the same lift ticket. If you stay downtown at the base of Ajax, then Highlands and Buttermilk are a few minutes away by bus and Snowmass is a 30 minute bus ride.Aspen Mountain /

  1. Aspen Mountain (Ajax): This is our favorite mountain, especially on a powder day! If you stay in downtown Aspen, you can wake up, walk a few blocks to the lift and hop right on the Silver Queen Gondola. It’s for the intermediate skier and above because there are no green runs. It has a fully enclosed Gondola that goes all the way to the top, so you can enjoy nice long runs. We’ve spent the majority of our time on this mountain.
  2. Snowmass: This is the largest mountain with a large variety of runs from easy to expert. It’s the perfect option when you have a variety of ages and abilities in your group because everyone, no matter their level, will find runs they enjoy. It will take you a full day just to ride every chair lift.
  3. Highlands: It has a mix of different runs, but is most famous for the bowl that you have to hike uphill 45 minutes to get to. I don’t have to guts to ski down it or the ambition to hike up to it!
  4. Buttermilk: You will see this mountain driving into town and immediately notice the large terrain park, home to the Winter X-Games. Ironically, it’s a great option for new or beginner skiers because ¾ of the trails are green or blue.

    Aspen Mountain /

    Photo: Antonio Martinez


  1. Find a condo on Not only is it much more comfortable and fun than a hotel room, it’s also economical. Most condos you find on vrbo will go through a management company, such as Gondola Resorts, that might provide free transportation from the airport to downtown. The condo allows you to make meals at home, which is convenient for breakfast. Plus, no matter how determined you are to party, skiing is exhausting – and sometimes it’s fun to just stay in and play cards in front of a fireplace! As an added bonus, most places have a washer/dryer.
  2. Downtown Aspen is the only place I’ve stayed. It’s best to stay near the Silver Queen Gondola, at the center of town, for a short walk to the mountain and to be close to the action. The downtown area is full of great dining and nightlife. Plus, there is a sizable grocery store in the middle of town, City Market, which has anything might need. The bus stop in the center of town will take you to any of the other 3 mountains for free
  3. If you are vacationing with a group of people where the skill levels are better suited for Snowmass, you might consider staying there instead. There are a ton of condo and hotel options.Aspen Mountain /

Dining – These are my favorite spots in downtown Aspen:

  1. White House Tavern – This is hands down my favorite place I’ve eaten in Aspen. You know that when a menu has only 12 total items on it, there is nothing that isn’t over-the-top being served. I had the best chicken sandwich of my life, which was the perfect mix of comfort food and sophistication. The “lettuce” was kale and cabbage mixed with chilies and honey mustard. I died. Next time I’m in Aspen, I will eat here multiple times so I can try one of everything on the menu.Aspen Mountain /
  2. The Meatball Shack – As the name suggests, they serve meatballs, and you just might find yourself wanting to lick the plate. Awesome place for local drafts, fun cocktails, and creative meatball appetizers to share like ‘buffalo chicken balls’ or ‘General Tso’s balls’. Very fun rustic, but hip atmosphere.Aspen Mountain /
  3. Sundeck – sits on top of Ajax mountain and on a clear day, looks out over the Elk mountains and Highlands mountain. Even if you don’t ski down Ajax, it sits right on top of the Gondola so you could make the trip up for the view and the classy cafeteria-style food (think seared tuna salad or lamb curry).
  4. Paradise Bakery – get a muffin or cinnamon roll and sit outside at one of the tables facing the mountain. Even in winter, if you have a sunny morning, it’s beautiful to eat out in the fresh air and watch people skiing down the mountain. (If you want more of a meal, Poppycocks is close by and has delicious oatmeal pancakes.)Aspen Mountain /


  1. Do some pre-trip ski conditioning. If you want to make the most of your trip, you want your legs to be able to outlast the long runs!
  2. Make a packing list! Ski trips end up requiring a lot of equipment, especially if you bring your own skies or snowboard. Some things on my list are trail mix, cards/games, iPod speakers, detergent/dryer sheets, and sturdy hiking or snow boots.
  3. Buy your lift tickets ahead of time on Liftopia. You can get a good deal that either includes rentals or $20 a day to the restaurants on the mountain.
  4. Drink a lot of water. Andrew and I always wear our Camelbaks on the mountain. You don’t realize how thirsty you get skiing, especially on warmer day, and these allow you to keep hydrated.
  5. Hit the slopes right when they open. The best skiing is at 9am when the lifts start and the snow is either fresh powder or still nicely groomed. By mid-afternoon, your legs are tired, the snow is getting choppy, and it’s time for après ski!
  6. Treat yourself to good food – you earned it!Aspen Mountain /

Carrot Cake Oatmeal


This oatmeal is seriously going to spice up your breakfast life! If you started the new year with boring breakfasts, in attempt to be healthy again, here’s a way to add some excitement! I promise it will be love at first bite, when the flavors of carrot cake hit you. I swear I’m not crazy, but yes, I’m asking you to add vegetables to your oatmeal! Carrots for breakfast?? Give it a chance and you will not regret it. This morning, I woke up excited to indulge in a bowl of carrot cake oatmeal that tastes sinfully delicious, but still a healthy choice! / Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Have you tried steel cut oats before? If you are not an oatmeal fan because of the mushy texture of regular rolled oats, these might change your mind. I love steel cut oats because they have a chewy texture and a slightly nutty flavor that makes them very satisfying to eat. Plus, steel cut oats can be reheated and still taste just as great without losing their texture. This recipe is perfect for making a big batch, splitting across individual containers, and taking to work to heat-up each morning. Here’s the quick cooking steel-cut oats that I use from Trader Joe’s and my absolute favorite coconut milk, there is nothing better. / Carrot Cake OatmealThis is clearly not your standard bowl of oatmeal – the oats are taken over by all kinds of other good stuff! If you choose the quick-cooking variety, you will want to measure everything out in a bowl ahead of time because you will add it all at the same time. Topping your bowl off walnuts at the end provides a healthy fat, which will help keep you full all (6) / Carrot Cake OatmealNow, I have to set expectations. This is STILL a bowl of oatmeal and not a piece of cake, thickly iced with cream cheese frosting. However, the flavors of this oatmeal are spot on with carrot cake and your breakfast will taste decadent, while remaining healthy. I promise that first bite will warm your heart! / Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Adapted from: Annie’s Eats

Servings: 4


  • Water
  • Milk (I use Trader Joe’s Coconut Milk)
  • 1 cup steel cut oats (I use Trader Joe’s quick cooking steel cut oats)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 Tablespoons brown sugar, depending on how sweet you want to make it
  • 3 carrots, peeled and grated
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Walnuts for topping


Combine equal parts water and milk in a medium pot and bring to a simmer (little bubbles just starting to form around the outside of the pot). If you’re using quick cooking oats, you most likely will use 1.5 cups water and 1.5 cups milk, because the recipe on the label will state 3 cups liquid to 1 cup oats. For regular steel cut oats, you will most likely use 2 cups water and 2 cups milk because the recipe will call for 4 cups liquid to 1 cup oats. Adjust accordingly.

For quick-cooking oats: Measure out all of the ingredients (except walnuts) and place in a bowl so that they are ready to go. When your liquid reaches a simmer, dump in all the ingredients from the bowl at one time. Put a lid on your pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally and continue to simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Take the oatmeal off the heat and it will thicken a little bit more as it starts to cool.

For regular steel-cut oats: When the liquid starts to simmer, stir in the oats and reduce the heat to medium-low to continue to simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, measure out the rest of the ingredients and shred your carrots. At the 20 minute mark, stir in the remaining ingredients (except walnuts) and continue to simmer for about another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed.

Sprinkle with chopped walnuts on top and breakfast is served!

*If you save some to reheat later, you may want to add a little milk to restore the creaminess to the oats.


I’m engaged!


December has been a month full of celebration!! It all started December 6th, when I got home from 2 weeks of traveling for Thanksgiving and work. Andrew told me how much he missed me and wanted to make us a nice dinner. He doesn’t cook very often, so I was thrilled at the gesture. He put together a very impressive menu! He made lobster soup, bacon wrapped filet mignon, and my favorite Brussels sprouts. I’ll have to ask him to write a separate post on how he wrapped the bacon around the steak and seared it – the flavor was to die for! I even have a picture of the meal before we started eating because I texted it to my family to show what an amazing dinner he had made!I'm engaged! / started right into the steak, while Andrew started talking about our relationship and where it all began (in Vegas!! haha!) I thought to myself, “Wow! He really missed me! This is so sweet!”. Meanwhile, I’m about half way through the meal and he’s barely touched his steak – I should’ve suspected something. After a lot of loving words, he stood up and pulled a ring out of his pocket! This is where it all gets blurry and my memory is a bit fuzzy because I was hit by a wall of tears. Apparently, Andrew came over, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. But, you’d have to get those specific details from him! Later that night when we called my family, my mom asked if he gotten down on one knee when he proposed. I said “No, we were sitting at the dinner table so we were both sitting.” He looked at me shocked and said “Are you kidding me?? I was down on one knee that whole time!!” Like I said, it’s all a bit blurry once that ring came out and I realized what was happening! I spent the rest of the dinner in shock, admiring my new ring, while he finally got to enjoy his steak. Our friend Elaine came over later and took this photo of us with my cheeks still tear-stained.I'm engaged! /

Since then, December has been a month full of happy tears, tons of excitement, and a lot of champagne toasts! I haven’t quite gotten used to this gorgeous ring on my finger and keep trying to get a picture of it in the best light! There are suddenly a lot of photos of my left hand in my iPhone, out on a walk or playing cards or in front of the fire…I'm engaged! /’ve read that December is the most popular month for getting engaged and I can understand why! It’s perfect timing for celebrating with friends and family. My family does not take celebrating lightly. I showed up at the Milwaukee airport and saw a sweet man dressed as Santa sitting in the waiting area, with little kids at his feet staring up in awe. I got a little closer and saw that Santa was my dad!! He got a lot of double-takes in baggage claim, to say the least. Knowing my mom doesn’t like to be outdone, I should have known Mrs. Claus would be waiting for me at home!I'm engaged! / was a very Merry Christmas in Milwaukee with my family and Andrew all together. My mom certainly knows how to decorate a home full of cheer! There is no place I’d rather be for Christmas! I'm engaged! / and I have received some really sweet engagement gifts that have made this time for us even more special! An engagement gift is a really thoughtful way of sharing your excitement with the couple. I thought I would share some of them with you, as ideas for other friends when they get engaged. As a person who loves to plan parties, I never predicted feeling at such a loss for where to begin with my own wedding. My sister gave me this stack of magazines to get me started, which has been really fun to page through. Also, from what I’ve read so far, every bride should have The Wedding Book by Mindy Weiss. It is a completely comprehensive book full of information and great little tips on everything you could possibly think of.I'm engaged! / hold that beautiful new engagement ring, every bride should have a beautiful ring dish, like this Kate Spade ring holder below. An engagement celebration isn’t complete without a champagne toast, so a bottle of champagne and flowers are always a perfect gift. We got our first ornament from my family, this Two Turtle Doves ornament from Reed & Barton, a very special memory to hang on our tree each year. I cannot get enough of this fun “Prince Charming” bottle opener with a 6-pack of beer. He cracks me up every time I see him – and yes, I found my prince charming!I'm engaged! /’s to 2014! Happy New Year! Let the wedding planning begin!

Cranberry Margaritas


Are you having people over for the holidays? Then you’ve got to make this cocktail for your friends and families! These cranberry margaritas are so fresh and delicious that you will absolutely be asked for a second round. The addition of cranberry juice adds fun flavor, a little bit of sweetness and a little bit of tartness, to the traditional margarita. I did A LOT of recipe testing over Thanksgiving to come up with the winning combination below, so I promise it’s a good one!Cranberry Margaritas / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comTurns out margaritas aren’t just tasty in the summer heat – they are just as delicious in chilly winter temperatures! The red cranberries, the green limes and the “snowy” frosted glass make these festive and full of holiday cheer!Cranberry Margaritas /

Cranberry Margaritas

Serves 2


  • 3 shots tequila
  • 3 shots cranberry juice (use 100% cranberry juice with no added sugar)
  • 2 shots freshly squeezed lime juice (2-3 limes, depending on how juicy they are)
  • 2 shots Triple Sec
  • crushed ice (it’s best to buy a bag from the store)
  • Kosher salt for rim of glass
  • Cranberries and lime slices for garnish


Salt the rim of each glass using the pictured instructions below. Make sure to use a squeezed lime to wet the lip of the glass because the salt will stick to lime juice. If you used water, it will just melt the salt. Then, fill each glass with ice.

In a cocktail shaker, combine the tequila, cranberry juice, lime juice, and Triple Sec. Add a big handful of ice and shake it up! Pour the cocktail equally into two glasses through the strainer at the top of the shaker.

Garnish with some fresh cranberries and a slice of lime. Serve right away. Cheers!Cranberry Margaritas / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comAfter everyone has a cranberry margarita hand, I recommend playing this game to really get the party going! Have fun!

Stocking Stuffer Gifts 2013


I love the excitement of a Christmas stocking full of surprises! It’s a fun opportunity to give someone a few little practical or silly gifts. Last year, I shared with you some of the things I put in my parent’s Christmas Stockings 2012. This year, I have picked out a few more of my favorite things to fill their stockings! (I have made my family promise to stop looking at my blog until after Christmas, which I know pains my dad :).) I hope this list gives you some ideas to fill someone’s stocking with goodies…or maybe your own!!

Coconut Body Butter from Trader Joe’s: I LOVE LOVE LOVE this body butter. It smells unbelievable, almost like coconut vanilla frosting. You are going to want to lick your fingers. In the dry winter season, it feels amazing to cover yourself in this thick whipped lotion that blends quickly into your skin and leaves it so soft. I feel good about using this because it’s made with pure coconut oil, shea butter, and other natural ingredients. Best part, it’s only $4.99 at Trader Joe’s!Stocking Stuffers 2013 /

Wall-mounted Bottle Opener and Magnetic Cap Catcher: A wall-mounted bottle opener is a fun gift for cracking open a bottle of beer or soda. You can find all different kinds, such as this Coca-Cola opener or this bear opener I got my dad for his cabin. You won’t have to search in a drawer for that missing bottle opener again! The other fun thing I found to go with the bottle opener is a magnet that you hang right below the opener. It is so powerful that it catches all caps that fall from the opener – no need to catch the cap yourself! The magnet will start to collect caps on top of each other, like bottle cap Jenga!Stocking Stuffers 2013 / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comStocking Stuffers 2013 /

Sugar Lip Balm: This lip balm feels so luxurious on your lips, leaving them plump and hydrated. It smells delicious and it will stay silky smooth on your lips for hours. My favorite is the clear balm in the brown tube below, which is perfect for everyday wear. I also have the petal balm, for when I’m looking for just a tint of color. It’s a bit of a steep price, but I think it’s totally worth it, along with the other 5,500 reviewers on Sephora who gave it an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars! It does have SPF 15 in it, but don’t take this to the beach with you because it will melt in hot temperatures.Stocking Stuffers 2013 /

A good CD: a perfect gift for transitioning away from the Christmas music they’ve had on replay the last month or two! Plus, it’s always great to get a recommendation of a new artist to listen to. I started listening to Gregory Alan Isakov recently and love his songs. His voice and guitar are so soothing and I can listen to him over and over again on repeat. To preview what he sounds like, listen to “The Stable Song” and “Raising Cane” from his CD That Sea, the Gambler.Stocking Stuffers 2013 /

Beaded Crystal Headband: this is a fun accessory for adding some sparkle to your holiday outfit. My favorite way to wear this headband is with my hair up in a messy bun – a little bit elegant and a little bit edgy. This one in particular from Banana Republic is very comfortable and worth the purchase – look for holiday discounts!

Stocking Stuffers 2013 /

Chocolate: because every stocking needs something a little sweet! I LIVE for these chocolate covered almonds from Trader Joe’s. The combination of the rich dark chocolate, the crunch of the turbinado sugar, and the slight hit of saltiness is divine. I bought some while at home with my family to take a picture and the tub was half gone before I could finish photographing them! Trader Joe’s has the best selection of chocolates above their freezer section, these in particular are only $3.99.Stocking Stuffers 2013 /

Some other ideas for stocking stuffers from my past blog posts: a few of these Nail Polish Remover Pads, a good book or two, these spiral hair pins, or a lemon/lime juicer for making my favorite margaritas.

I hope this gives you some good ideas! What would you want in your stocking this year? Any suggestions??

21 Minute Killer Interval Workout


This is my go-to workout when I am traveling or short on time! You will be dripping sweat in just 21 minutes, so it’s easy to fit into a busy schedule! It requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. You just need your running shoes and your phone. Interval training will kick your butt! High intensity work-outs that alternate between bursts of energy and quick breaks, are proven to burn more calories and increase your metabolism.

The workout is 12 different moves, 30 seconds each, 5 second breaks, for 3 rounds. I found this free app that is a perfect timer for setting up these intervals. In the app store, search “seconds”, it will be the second app to come up, called “Interval Timer – Seconds”. When you open it up, select “Create New Timer”, then select “Round Timer”, then set up your preferences for your workout. I choose 36 rounds, 30 second “Round Intervals”, 5 second “Break Intervals”. At the bottom, you can select music from a playlist on your iPhone and it will play songs for the full 21 minutes.21 Minute Killer Interval Workout /

Here are the 12 moves. Do each exercise for 30 seconds, with a 5 second break between each exercise. Then repeat 2 more times for a total of 36 rounds.

  1. Jumping Jacks
  2. Butt Kicks
  3. High Knees21 Minute Killer Interval Workout /
  4. Speed Skaters – Hop to right, landing on right foot while sweeping left foot behind right leg and swinging left arm across body and right arm behind back. Jump to left, switching legs and arms. 
  5. Burpees – Begin standing. Drop your hands to the floor and jump your feet back to plank. Return to your feet and jump up.
  6. Mountain Climbers – Start in push-up position and bring your right knee to your chest. Jump your right foot back and bring your left knee to your chest. Alternate bringing your knees forward as quickly as possible.21 Minute Killer Interval Workout /
  7. Mummy Kicks – Extend both arms straight in front of you and move your hands over each-other in a scissor motion. At the same time, kick your right leg out and then your left, alternating as quickly as possible.
  8. Lunge Jumps – Start in a lunge position with your right foot forward. Jump up and land in a lunge position with your left foot forward. Do as many jumps as you can.
  9. Quick Feet – Stand with your feet wider than your hips in a slight squat. Run in place on your toes, leaving the ground only a few centimeters.21 Minute Killer Interval Workout /
  10. Squats
  11. Push-ups
  12. Plank

21 Minute Killer Interval Workout / Minute Killer Intervals

Complete each exercise in order for 30 seconds each. Repeat 2 more times.

  1. Jumping Jacks
  2. Butt Kicks
  3. High Knees
  4. Speed Skaters
  5. Burpees
  6. Mountain Climbers
  7. Mummy Kicks
  8. Lunge Jumps
  9. Quick Feet
  10. Squats
  11. Push-ups
  12. Plank

When is another good time to use this workout? When you wake-up in Wisconsin, like I did this morning, and it was barely above 0 degrees!! We made our interval training a family affair. By the end, you can see I was clearly dripping sweat! 21 Minute Killer Interval Workout / this work-out a try while you are home for Thanksgiving! Your body will burn through those turkey calories in no time!