After our adventure in White Sands, we headed to Arizona and stayed at the Saguaro to relax before heading home. We stayed at the Saguaro Palm Springs for True’s colorful hotel birthday (see here), and loved it, so since we were in the area, we thought it would be fun to try out the Arizona one. Of course, the Saguaro in Arizona didn’t disappoint. In fact, I think it might be better than the one in Palm Springs. The room had a few more interesting details, but the grounds of the hotel were equally as fun. We do love the restaurants at the Palm Springs one, but the reviews for the Scottsdale one wasn’t great, so we decided not to eat there.
When we are in a new city, we like to look up Food & Wine restaurant recommendations, so according to them, Phoenix’s Pizzeria Bianco was a must stop. I read a lot of reviews and articles on it (if you know us, we are notorious for researching everything), and people were even saying this might be the best pizza place in the nation. Thus, we thought we better give it a try.
Ben ordered the Biancoverde and I got the Rosa. Both pizzas were really yummy, and we thought we should have ordered anchovies on Ben’s because it would have gone well with all the arugula. My pizza had pistachios and I have never thought to make pizza with pistachios on it, but you bet I will be trying soon because it was so good. Their crust was perfectly thin and crispy, and it made me determined to get that type of crust next time I made pizza. Now as far as them being the best pizza in the nation, I thought it was good, but honestly, I think homemade pizza is just as good (that’s just me though), but I’m no pizza expert. I have had pizza in Italy, which was amazing, but I have never had pizza in New York or Chicago, so I’m definitely not one to judge.
Of course, if you know me, I had to have ice cream. So before we hit the road, I had to stop by Sweet Republic and get their toffee crunch ice cream (I don’t remember the exact name). I had it (twice!) at the airport when I was passing through a couple months ago, so I made sure we made a dessert stop while in town.
If you find yourself in that part of the Arizona, I highly recommend getting a good night’s rest at the Saguaro and trying out Pizzeria Bianco (oh and of course, get ice cream!). If you think you’d qualify as a pizza expert, I’d love to hear your take on their pizza.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of joining about 40 other Michaels Makers bloggers (learn about all of us here) for a Michaels Makers Summit in Sonoma. I didn’t know what to expect, and while I hadn’t met anyone before, I was looking forward to the creative workshops Michaels had planned for us through their education partner Creativebug. After an eventful day of travel (even though I was just coming from SoCal), I finally found myself in wine country with lots of sweet and creative ladies. The first night started off with making floral crowns, dinner at Farmstead, and ending the night eating s’mores with homemade marshmallows. Seriously, it’s tough going back to store bought marshmallows.
The next day started bright and early, with a few shuttles taking us through windy mountain roads to the summit location. When we arrived at the destination, we were all blown away by all the details of the estate. Everything was absolutely gorgeous. Then, when you get bloggers together at a place like this, the cameras come out and everyone goes crazy. We are definitely a weird bunch, but we could all relate to one another. We had a few moments to soak it all in, then we got to hear from one of the founders of Creativebug, and a little introduction to the classes we were going to take: watercolor with Yao Cheng, weaving with Annabel Wrigley, image transfer with Courtney Cerruti, and paper flowers with Livia Cetti.
I loved each and every class, and especially our talented instructors. Watercolor was super relaxing; I was mesmerized by watching the watercolor move across the paper (see here). Weaving is addicting, and I totally get why it’s all the craze right now (I’m crazy for it and getting my girls to love it too!). Image transfers was pretty mind-blowing (I have already taught my girls how to do it!). With paper flowers, I knew I would love it, since working with flowers and felt flowers is my thing. Of course, between the classes, we were treated to delicious food, popsicles, and lots of moments to enjoy the beautiful scenery and being able to chat with new friends (new for me, most people already knew each other).
I’m thankful for another year as a Michaels Maker, and if you want to experience the summit for yourself, Creativebug and Michaels partnered together to provide all the classes here for free until August 22! You can learn how to watercolor, weave, make paper flowers, and image transfer too! I came home so inspired and itching to put all my new skills to practice. The Michaels Makers challenges will continue throughout the year and feel free to create your own projects with us by sharing on Instagram using #MadeWithMichaels.
After our day trip to Marfa, and an overnight stay in Van Horn, Texas, we headed to Salt Flat, Texas. The dry salt pan used to be a salt lake that dried up, and the result is the vast flat white land. The ground has this subtle sparkle from the salt, and after walking across the whole lake and back to our car, we could taste a bit of salt on our lips. There was only one other car that stopped alongside the road with us, but they didn’t stay too long. There is a marker that tells you a little bit about the history of the area, but other than that, most people probably overlook this area when driving by.
It was a warm day, but the slight breeze made it feel bearable. The white is blinding though, so our sunglasses stayed on. It was interesting crossing the expanse of it because there wasn’t much plant life or creepy crawling creatures, at least none that we noticed. There were bees flying, but that was about it. I took home a white branch as a souvenir.
White Sands National Monument was absolutely stunning. There is this large field of white sand dunes made of gypsum crystals. It totally trips you out because it looks cold (at least that’s what your mind tells you because it’s so reminiscent of snow), but it was so warm out. You don’t even attempt to wear shoes here because the sand is powder soft. We didn’t know what to expect, and was thinking it would be just like the salt flat, but this definitely exceeded our expectations. The whole area is so vast and we were just in awe at the beauty of it all; the glory of God is clearly evident in nature.
At the visitors center, you can learn more about the area and purchase a saucer sled ($15, but they’ll buy it back for $5). We drove around the dune field until we found the hill we wanted to go sledding on. I was a little nervous because we chose a steep one, so I made Ben go first. HA! I had butterflies in my stomach because I didn’t know what to expect, but oh man was that exhilarating. It was pure fun! I was happily shrieking as I made my way down. The uphill trek was a workout, but that trip down made it worth it. Ben and I felt like kids playing.
We will definitely be making another stop here with the girls one day. They would have a blast sledding up and down the hills. We were sending them videos of us sledding and they thought it was so funny how crazy we were screaming. From the salt pan, it was about a 2 hour drive to the white sands; these are definite road trip stops if you find yourself road tripping through west Texas and through the southwest part of New Mexico.
The big girls are coming home soon, but before they do, we wanted to take the babies on a quick getaway. So Sunday afternoon we made our way south to Carlsbad for a whole lot of relaxing, swimming, and ice cream. When we checked Sunday morning, the San Diego area was one of the few areas that didn’t have rain in their forecast, so we made reservations to go there. Well, on our way there we hit a really bad storm, and upon arrival, it sure was raining cats and dogs. We didn’t let that stop us though, and we still went swimming in the rain. After we were exhausted (and a wee bit cold) from swimming in the rain, we relaxed together in our cozy bed with a whole pint of ice cream.
The next day, we did much of the same… relax, swim, and ice cream. Don’t worry, we had carrots and tomatoes too, so the weekend wasn’t only low-nutrition foods. Our little babes kept excitedly yelling, “Two kid weekend!” It was actually only a quick overnight trip, but hey, I love their enthusiasm! We can’t wait for the big girls to be home (2 more days!), but until then, Ben and I (mainly Ben since I’m out of town) still have a couple more special outings planned for these two.
p.s. the rad pineapple sunglasses are from here.
We flew to San Antonio, Texas to drop off the girls, and then we did a mini road back home. Typically, when we go home from SA, we do the whole drive in one shot. We leave at 5am (TX time) and we get home around midnight (CA time). It’s a really long day, but we are just so anxious to get home, we get it done. This time though, since we were traveling without the girls, we thought it would be fun to take our time and make some stops. And since it was just a few weeks before our anniversary, we agreed to make this a mini anniversary trip and then do another mini road trip the weekend of our actual wedding anniversary. You put all the days together and we had a nice week together.
It was so strange to fly in to San Antonio and then leave the very next morning towards home. We basically said “hi” and “bye” to Ben’s mom and sister. From San Antonio, the drive to Marfa was a little over 6 hours. It would have been a little less, but we hit a really bad storm and had to drive super slowly because of the low visibility. Marfa is a small, peaceful town in the middle of nowhere. It’s known for the Marfa Lights, which we weren’t able to see, and some of their art installations like Prada Marfa. When we arrived, the weather was amazing. Several months back when we were considering a move to Texas, Ben looked up the Texas city with the best weather and Alpine, Texas was the winner. Considering Alpine is right next to Marfa, it makes sense why Marfa also had beautiful weather and wasn’t suffering from the sweltering heat like most of Texas. Or maybe we just happened to come at a really good time!
A few weeks prior to our trip, I looked at booking us a place to stay in Marfa, but everything was sold out. If I were going to stay there, El Cosmico looks fun and adventurous, or Hotel Paisano for a cozy ambience. Since we weren’t staying the night, we trekked on to Prada Marfa. It’s an art installation and not an actual store you can shop in. It’s about 30 minutes away from Marfa, and much closer to the city of Valentine.
I love the contrast of the faux storefront with the landscape. It really is in the middle of nowhere. It’s an interesting little stop should you find yourself driving through West Texas. We moved onward to Van Horn, which is where we booked a hotel for the night. I like historic hotels, and was interested in staying at Hotel El Capitan, but it was already sold out, so we ended up booking a random hotel through Hotwire. There’s still so much to share about all our stops, so get ready for a few more posts and loads of pictures!
With the big girls out of town, we’ve been trying to be intentional in giving the little ones some of adventures of their own. Thus, we took them to go orange picking at a local farm. They loved wandering through the grove, and they took so much delight in using all their might to pull an orange off the branch. Ben was in la-la-land walking through looking for fruit, and the girls were happily following along to see what they could pull off next. We ended up coming home with a 5 pound bag of oranges, several padrino peppers (they are delicious, so now we want to grow them!), and lots of tomatoes (can’t ever say no to pretty tomatoes!). The four of us agree that an afternoon of fruit picking is definitely a good adventure!