A Guide to Old Town Edinburgh

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If you hadn’t noticed, we often find ourselves in Edinburgh. We think Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city is a must see when planning a trip to Scotland (or Europe for that matter!). Not only is it Eve's “spirit city” but it is also a city rich in history and things to do! The great thing about Edinburgh is there are so many amazing parts of the city that have their own unique character yet they all still feel distinctly “Edinburgh”. This will be the first of several travel posts covering different areas of the city.

Today, we will focus on Old Town Edinburgh, where the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle reside. This area of the city is the oldest and has the most tourist traffic however we don’t mind one bit! To offset the number of tourists, you can always plan your visit during an off-season. The off-seasons typically run from September through November and Mid-January through April. Visiting during these times will dramatically lower the cost of your trip and the number of people wandering the streets and local attractions. We love Edinburgh In January, just after Hogmanay (New Years). The streets are empty and pubs are cozy with their fireplaces lit!

Here are some of our top places to eat, drink, stay, and play in Old Town Edinburgh….

xxx Ivy & Eve

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Eat

Civerinos- $$ Known as the Italian street food and pizza slice bar in Edinburgh. They have a casual dining area with shared tables. We always try and stop in here once each visit for a slice or two. In summer months we order their Frosé!

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The Halfway House- $ Looking for a traditional pub meal in one of the smallest pubs in Edinburgh? Look no further than The Halfway House! Located in the Fleshmarket Close between Market Street and Waverly Station entrance. It’s the perfect place to enjoy real ale and stovies (a potato, onion, and meat dish) while enjoying the atmosphere of locals (Mark the owner is usually at the bar nursing a pint and chatting with customers) tourists, and people waiting for their train.

Zizzi (Roxburgh Court)- $$ Probably the most cringeworthy place to include on a guide BUT Zizzi is truly a guilty pleasure of ours. Zizzi is a chain restaurant throughout the U.K. and we happen to LOVE their food! We recommend ordering their Primavera Rustic Pizza and a bottle of the Montepulciano #delish. They are also vegan, non-gluten, non-dairy, and vegetarian-friendly. If we haven’t convinced you we should mention they have one of the best views of New Town, Edinburgh.

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The Witchery- $$$$ Worthy of splurging a little or a lot, The Witchery, is downright magical. Located at the top of the Royal Mile (the same location as the hotel - see Stay section) this restaurant is famous locally and globally. The menu consists of local Scottish fare and an extensive wine list. We have graced this place only a few times but each time has been perfect. TIP- check out their lunch and dinner prix fixe menu (£22 and £40 respectably) to save a little money while dining BIG!

Oink- $ Perfect for a quick bite at any of their three locations in Edinburgh (two in Old Town and one in New Town). Order a Piglet, Oink, or Grunter size Scottish hog roast on a roll, add some stuffing, and your choice of sauces and you’ve got yourself the perfect meal or snack to keep you going till dinnertime. Eve’s go-to is an Oink with haggis and apple sauce!

Elephant House- $ The sacred location where J.K. Rowling allegedly wrote Harry Potter! Pop in here for a warming cup of tea or coffee before or after strolling through Greyfriars Kirkyard. Grab a window seat at the back for a great view overlooking Greyfriars Kirkyard and the Castle.

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Mussel and Steak Bar- $$ Stop in for lunch or dinner to eat your weight in mussels and steak (who would have guessed?!). This place has a relaxed but stylish atmosphere and a good wine list. We recommend getting a pot of mussels in their creamy whiskey bacon broth!

Marys Milkbar- $ The best ice cream in Edinburgh hands down! They make flavors like violet, brown bread, and passionfruit with lemongrass which are ALL to die for! As you exit, make sure to look up to admire their impressive view of Edinburgh Castle!

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Ecco Vino Enoteca- $$ We previously shared our love for this cozy wine bar and restaurant when we wrote for This is Edinburgh…you can see the full post HERE. Perfect for a leisurely glass of wine and some tasty seafood-centered dishes. On warmer days sit outside or by the open windows to Cockburn Street (pronounced “COE-BURN”).

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The Milkman- $ This specialty coffee shop is a perfect place to start your day. With bench window seating its also a great place to people watch!

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The White Hart Inn- $ Located in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket, this pub is perfect for those seeking traditional Scottish fare and some not-so-traditional menu items. Get the Haggis Nachos…you won’t regret it! One of the oldest pubs in Edinburgh and home to more than a few eerie stories of the city’s dark past.

Drink

The Ensign Ewart- $ Need a break from the busy Royal Mile and maybe a place to warm up? The Ensign Ewart is the perfect place to go. Located on the Royal Mile just yards below the castle gates this pub is not to be missed. We frequent this pub on evenings to enjoy their live local musicians (Our favorite band to listen to is The Gorms). With four Scottish cask ales, a large whiskey list, and hearty pub food you can’t go wrong. If you visit for lunch they also have a great lunch special: any sandwich and their soup of the day for just £8.50.

The Jolly Judge- $ Another favorite of ours. Perfect for an afternoon drink or make it a late nighter. Tucked away right off the Royal Mile is this charming pub. Enjoy their nice warm fire which burns at most hours and a cool replica ceiling of the historic building, Gladstones Land, nearby. Ivy likes their selection of ciders and real ales while Eve always orders the “malt of the month” or a “tour is Scotland”whiskey flight. In warm(ish) weather, sit outside on the picnic benches and enjoy a pint or two!

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Stay

The Witchery by the Castle- $$$$ Located on Castlehill at the top of the Royal Mile. This hotel was described as one of the seven wonders of the hotel world by Cosmopolitan. Each room different and drowning in indulgence. This place is on our bucket list of hotels to stay at. For now, we can dream!

The Grassmarket Hotel- $$ Comfortable and with touches of quirky Scottish decor, this hotel is at the bottom of Victoria Street at the corner of Grassmarket which means it is in the ideal place for exploring! Seriously, they’ll even make you a packed lunch to take with you on our day's adventure!

Fraser Suites- $$$ Quiet and comfortable and just off the Royal Mile. This hotel is perfect for anyone who wants a comfortable place to decompress after a long day walking the streets of Edinburgh.

Play

The Royal Mile- (Free) The Royal Mile is actually a series of streets that run from Edinburgh Castle at the top of the hill all the way to Holyrood Palace at the bottom. The mile is chock full of “tartan tat” tourist shops as well as great restaurants, boutiques, and historic points of interest.

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Edinburgh Castle-$$ Definitely worth the money, Edinburgh Castle grounds hold several restaurants, a whiskey shop, and SO MUCH HISTORY! Our favorite spots are the Dog Cemetery and St Margaret’s Chapel. TIP: Book your tickets ahead to skip the long lines.

View of castle lit up at night

View of castle lit up at night

Dog cemetery found within the castle walls

Dog cemetery found within the castle walls

National Museum of Scotland- (Free, $ for special exhibition tickets) One of our all time favorite museums. Spend your time in the Scottish History and Archaeology galleries for some pretty spectacular stuff or head to the Art of Living gallery to see what Eve worked on during her internship in grad school! TIP: Head to the roof for spectacular views of Edinburgh Castle and surrounding areas.

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Victoria Street- This colorful street is home to some of our favorite shops. Including Walker Slater for traditional Scottish wear, I.J. Mellis Cheesemonger for the best cheeses around, Oink, and Museum Context which is a Harry Potter themed shop.

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Greyfriars Bobby statue & Greyfriars Kirkyard- (Free) Wander over to Candlemaker Row to see the famous Bobby statue before heading into the Kirkyard. Burials in the Kirkyard have been taking place here since the late 16th century and if you look, you might see some familiar Harry Potter names! Worth a visit if only to see a unique view of the Castle.

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Mercat Tours- $ If you enjoy going on ghost tours, Edinburgh is the city for you! We have been on almost every ghost tour available in Edinburgh and we like Mercat ghost tours the best. We have gone on EVERY single one they offer! Our favorite tour is the Evening of Ghost and Ghouls tour. We love this one because it’s super creepy but if you make it out alive (hehe) you get to enjoy a drink in their cozy candle-lit cellar.

The Real Mary King’s Close- $$ If you aren’t one for straight-up frightening but want a bit of creepy history, we suggest this tour for you! They also have a café and fun gift shop to peruse before and after your tour. Splurge on the photo-op picture for a fun souvenir (see ours below). TIP: Make a night out of it by heading to Zizzi which is right next door for dinner!

Ivy trying to look like a ghost during the tour

Ivy trying to look like a ghost during the tour

The Scotch Whisky Experience- $$ Planning on enjoying some of Scotland’s finest whiskey while in Edinburgh? Learn all about Scotland’s whiskey-making history here! Part educational experience, part Disney-esque amusement ride, the “tour” begins when you step into your own whiskey barrel and ride (yes, ride) through the production of whiskey. Afterward, you step into their seminar room and are lead through the basics of whiskey aromas and production regions. At the end of the tour, you are led into their whiskey collection room (photo below) and enjoy a dram while admiring the collection of rare and old whiskeys. Afterward, sample a few more drams at the bar. We recommend their whiskey and cheese pairing flights! YUM!

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Saint Giles’ Cathedral- (Free with suggested donation) St. Giles’ is one of our favorite places to take a breather from the hustle and bustle of the Royal Mile. Founded over 900 years ago, this church was also the center of the Scottish Reformation. Take a guided tour or just discover it at your own pace. The Thistle Chapel is particularly stunning and looks out for the carving of an angel playing the bagpipes! They also have a small affordable cafe and little gift shop for unique souvenirs.

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Playtime in Park City, Utah

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A while ago, Eve went away on a long weekend trip with our mom to Park City. They felt like getting away to somewhere they could breathe fresh air, enjoy a new view, and relax. While looking at places to go, flight prices to Salt Lake City were really low so they decided to head to Park City, where we have spent many days on the slopes, skiing with our family growing up. This time though, there was no snow, only crisp mountain air, and sunshine (and a little….no, a lot of shopping).

xxx Ivy & Eve

Stay

Washington School House Hotel- This 12-room boutique hotel is in an old converted school house dating from the late 1800’s. Located a block off Main Street, you’ll enjoy a little peace an quiet (Main Street can be a bit boisterous at night) while still being close to all the action!

The Caledonian- This trip, we stayed at The Caledonian condos located right on Main Street. Most condos have balconies and hot tubs to enjoy post-hiking or while enjoying your morning coffee. Each condo is privately owned so they all have their own homey feeling. We loved being able to use a kitchen to prepare pre-dinner drinks and appetizers to enjoy on our balcony. We would definitely stay here again!

Deer Valley Resort- For a more luxe “resort” experience stay at any of the Deer Valley lodges or condos. Our family has stayed at several of the lodges and condos over the years as they are all ski-in ski-out locations which is REALLY important for us when we go skiing. There is a plethora of restaurants, bars, shops, and the Deer Valley spa, which we highly recommend post skiing. There is a free shuttle service offered to town which is just a short trip down the hill.

Eat and Drink

Atticus Coffee and Teahouse- Part cafe, part bookshop, Atticus was our go-to for breakfast and pick-me-ups during our trip. They have delicious custom tea blends (that you can also buy to take home) and coffee drinks as well as the most delicious peanut butter oat bars. The best part about ordering your drink is that they come in three unique sizes: Willow (small), Alice (medium), and Hagrid (large).

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Collie’s Sports Bar- For casual dining, we’d recommend Collie’s. Perfect for drinks, lunch, or food while watching a game on TV. This place serves up lots of local beers and what we would call “fresh” bar food. The salads we ordered were delicious and wings in Collie’s “Bobby-Q'“ sauce were SO GOOD.

No Name Saloon- THE classic Park City establishment. Famous for their Buffalo Burger and strong drinks, this place is perfect for a drink and bite on their heated rooftop patio or grab a seat at one of their several bars. Perfect for people watching! (21+)

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Fletcher’s- Delicious food all around. We went here for our last night’s meal and it definitely was the send-off we were hoping for. They have an extensive wine list with great bottles for all budgets and tasty cocktails to go alongside fresh, local dishes. The standouts of the night were the Short Rib Grilled Cheese, Grass Fed Beef Carpaccio, and the Blueberry Bread Pudding.

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High West Saloon- High West is Utah’s first legal distillery since prohibition since they opened back in 2009. While the distillery is outside the city, the saloon is located just off Main Street and is the perfect place for a bite to eat, and lots of whisky! We had lunch and whisky tasting on our first day and came back for drinks again during our stay! Beware: the Bacon Caramel Cashew Popcorn is highly addictive! (21+)

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Shabu- Self-proclaimed as “Freestyle Asian Cuisine”, Shabu serves up delicious sushi, Japanese, and Asian inspired dishes. The waitstaff was very friendly and guided us through the menu to help craft the most delicious and memorable meal! Standout dishes were the Jalapeño Yellowtail, Blistered Green Beans, and Chef’s Selection Hot Pot! They also have a great selection of sake!

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Harvest- We wish we had gone here for breakfast earlier on during our trip because this place is SO good! Owned by Emma who hails from Australia, Harvest’s menu consists of on-trend Aussie dishes. Ivy can attest that Aussies are OBSESSED with breakfast foods (she recently visited friends there). This place makes breakfast feel like a happy, healthy, pretty, celebration on a plate! We loved our Avocado toast, Corn-Zucchini Cakes, Coffees, and warm Golden Mylk (coconut milk with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and pepper).

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Play

Hiking- Many of the ski hills turn into the perfect summer hiking trails. We took the ski lift From the Park City Mountain Village up the hill and hiked back down. You can also stay on the ski lift for a scenic view ride. There is also a lift up the mountain from right on Main Street for even more convenience!

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Outdoor pursuits- There are many outfitters that you can hire for fishing, horseback riding, and other outdoor adventures. There are also loads of biking trails that you can (and should) take advantage of!

Shopping- Main Street is packed with outdoorsy shopping establishments like Patagonia, Gorsuch, and a plethora of ski shops. There are also loads of cute boutiques. Our personal favorites are Mary Jane’s and Olive and Tweed. Both had cute and relatively affordable women’s clothing, accessories, and shoes. We left with much heavier suitcases!

Park Silly- Durning June-September, every Sunday Main Street turns into a giant market full of artisans, food vendors, music, and even a Bloody Mary bar!

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Egyptian Theatre- This small historic theater plays host to many well known musical acts, comedy acts, and plays. We happened to come into town when Al Jardine was playing so we (of course) bought tickets and sang along to our favorite Beach Boys songs all night long!

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Crispy Cheesy Quinoa Fritters + Simple Salad

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One of our favoring things about summer is al fresco dining. We spend a lot of time lounging by the pool or reading books under the shady wisteria trellis. When it comes to dinnertime, the last thing we want to do is spend an hour in the hot kitchen so we tend to make quick meals and do LOTS of grilling. This recipe uses only a few ingredients and is super quick, allowing for more time to enjoy the meal with a crisp glass of grenache blanc and friends. To make it a more complete meal, serve it with simple grilled or broiled salmon. On its own, it makes a great lunchtime meal!

xxx Ivy & Eve

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the fritters...

1/2 cup dry quinoa

1 tbsp butter (optional but always perfered!)

1 cup cooking liquid (we use 1/2 water 1/2 chicken or veggie broth)

1/4 tsp salt (plus more to taste)

Pepper to taste

1 tsp herbs de provence (or your favorite herb mix)

4 tbsp freshly grated parmesan

6 tbsp fresh goat cheese

For the salad...

6 cups arugula

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 pinch good salt (we use Maldon)

Directions:

  1. Cook the quinoa (the steps below share how Eve likes to cook hers). 
    • a. In a pot, add the dry quinoa and butter and toast on medium heat until slightly golden and toasty scented.
    • b. Add the cooking liquid and salt and bring to a boil. reduce to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for about 15 minutes, until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed.
    • c. Take the pot off the heat and fluff the quinoa with a fork and let cool a few minutes.
  2. Add the cheeses, herbs, and salt and pepper. stir until the cheeses are all melted and let sit to cool enough to form the patties with your hands. 
  3. Form into 8 patties, each about 2 inches in diameter. 
  4. In a non stick pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat (adding more as needed) until shimmering and add the patties to the oil. 
  5. Pan-fry for about 4 minutes on each side (until golden brown).
  6. Transfer onto a plate lined with paper towels to drain. 
  7. To make the salad, add the arugula to a large bowl. Dress with the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and toss. 
  8. Serve the salad with the quinoa patties on top!
  9. Enjoy!

 

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Adapted from Food52 here

Wine On-The-Go: Canned Wine and Wine Accessories

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Our (semi-secret) love affair with canned wines began about 5 years ago. It was probably some mid-summer weekend when we were shopping at our local Safeway and came across a cute little pink hexagonal shaped box in the sparkling wine section. Intrigued, we picked up the box and found it was a four pack of cans of Sofia sparkling wine. Perfect for poolside sipping, and with straws attached like they are on kids juice boxes, we were instantly hooked. Ever since we have been on the lookout for new canned wines to try and in the past year, canned wines have really stepped up their game! Here is a list of some of our favorites. We promise there's a canned wine for everyone!

xxx Ivy & Eve

 

For the eternal wanderer: Nomadica Wines

This California company was created for the nomads, a place to sip wine before resuming their travels. We totally love that! Nomadica cans are also special because each label is different with art designed by various artists. The pink river rosé is bright and crisp. The sparkling white (our favorite) is fresh, citrusy, with a hint of green apple.  The chenin blanc smells and tastes of white peaches is light and refreshing. The red wine blend tastes of chokecherry, plum and slight tannins with a long smooth finish. The Oregon white blend (love the label) is lightly bubbly, dry, and minerally. Pop the top, start the playlist, sit back, and sip...you'll feel like you're away on an adventure even from your couch.

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For the anti-canned wine friend: Alloy Wine Works

Alloy canned wines will impress and most likely change the views of all canned wine haters. These wines taste the most like a wine that is produced/bottled in a glass bottle. Honestly, if someone brought us a glass without the can we probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference. This Paso Robles winery has a variety of high-quality canned wines and also does a canned wine club! Their wine club #yeswecan is $30 a month and includes 4 shipments a year, 6 wines per shipment.  We tried their 12 oz tallboy rosé it was delicious. Strawberry, citrus on the nose followed by a crisp, dry rosé that tastes like strawberries, sour patch kids, guava, grapefruit, and rose petals. Their chardonnay smells like it's out of a bottle (none of that tin can smell) tastes of vanilla, citrus, and pears and pie crust (nom). The pinot noir is also delicious with hints of cherry and vanilla, and tastes of those and some earthy mushroom, tree bark, and cola. Our local indie cinema Osio Theater carries them as well which makes us SO happy!

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For the health conscious drinker: Social Sparkling Sake Wine

Social is slightly different in that it is a sparkling sake wine (wine made from rice). There are four versatile flavors to choose from toasted coconut almond, pink grapefruit ginger, hibiscus cucumber, and elderflower apple. The great thing about SOCIAL is that they are organic, superfood infused, gluten and sulfite free, have 1 gram of sugar, and ONLY 88 calories!! These cans are ALL about fun without the guilt! 

We teamed up with them to create a cocktail with one of their flavors so stay tuned for that recipe coming soon!

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For the party girl: Fiesta Winery

Fiesta Winery located in Texas just recently started dipping their toes in the canned industry. We loved trying this wine since we rarely venture from California wines and the can design is super cute! The Tex Way Rosé is perfect for any summer activity. It smells of pink starburst, rose, and raspberry and tastes of raspberry and rose with a light creaminess to the finish. We recommend it served very chilled with a side of bright sunshine!

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For all the bubbly babes: Wine House Rosé Bubbles

House Wines' Rosé Bubbles is a party in a can. Crisp, with notes of citrus, tastes of strawberries and is lightly carbonated, this is an upgrade from the Sofia bubbles in flavor and size! ;) It's perfect to pack for a picnic or a day at the beach. The size is large enough to share (or not) and we LOVE the millennial pink can design.  

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For the serious sipper: West Side Wine Co.

The West Side Wine Co. from California is another great option for real wine lovers. The chardonnay had a slightly carbonated taste with hints of toasted vanilla, grapefruit, and green apple. The cabernet sauvignon is jammy with hints of boysenberry, fig, and has light tannins. 

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For the cocktail enthusiast: Pampelonne Sparkling Wine Cocktails

One look at these insta-worthy cans and you're transported to the striped umbrella dotted beaches of the French Riviera! These three newly released flavors are perfect for your casual backyard, beach bonfire setting. Since they are "wine cocktails" they taste less of wine and more like a cocktail. We thought they were great straight out of the can but add a little fruit and a tall glass with ice - sangria style - and you've instantly got a vacation in a glass! The Black Cherry Bicicletta is the most flavorful with a nice citrus kick while the Negroni Sbagliato is perfect for the classic cocktail lover (Eve's pick). The Watermelon Americano is the lightest and driest in flavor and tastes the most like wine (Ivy's pick).

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For the instafamous (or almost): Ramona Ruby Grapefruit Wine Spritz

We've been seeing these cans all over Instagram lately so when we found them stocked at our local Whole Foods, we decided to test them out. This sparkling wine spritzer is dangerously delicious and perfect for a hot summer day. We wouldn't say it tastes like wine, more like a grapefruit sanpellegrino, but who doesn't love those! We will definitely be stocking up on these all summer long.

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For the wine adventurer: Goverre Modern To-Go Cups

We discovered these gems recently and are obsessed. They are perfect for all types of on-the-go wine activities. These glasses are spill-proof with their locking drink-through-lid (also great for keeping sand out of your wine - yuck). These glasses are made of glass (yay!) but have a protective silicon sleeve. They have tons of trendy colors to choose from as well so you won't get confused with what glass is yours!

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For the beach babe: Porto Vino Wine Bag

We saw these bags on Instagram a few months back and HAD to test it out. Porto Vino Wine Bags come in a variety of colors and styles. Inside is roomy with an insulated zipper compartment and a wine bladder attached to a spout that discreetly pops out the side for easy pouring. You just chill your favorite wine (or not if its red) fill the bladder, and go! This is the classy way to carry around wine to sporting events, BBQs and beach parties. We love how much room there is for your beach towel, glasses, and snacks while filled up with your favorite rosé.

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For the party hostess with the mostest: Wine Glass Writer

We ran a fabulous giveaway with Wine Glass Writer a few months ago and have used these markers for all sorts of parties. Simply pick a color and write on your glass, let it dry for a minute before touching (or filling it with cold wine) and your design will stay on till you wash it off with soap and water. These have been a great addition to our parties, we ask our friends to write their name (or draw something fun) so they know which glass is theirs. It has cut down the number of glasses we have to wash by a dozen or so! These pens are also great for writing on mirrors (wedding seat assignment) and serving plates.

Use our discount code everyonewins10 for a 10% discount on your order!!

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Zucchini Carpaccio

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Beef carpaccio is one of our Dad's favorite dishes. Whenever we go out to eat, if any kind of carpaccio is on the menu, he must try it. A few summer's ago, we came across a recipe in some magazine for Zucchini Carpaccio and tested it out. We have since forgotten where the recipe came from and just use the recipe we made up. This dish is a great summer starter for any meal. We like to serve it on a giant platter where everyone can grab what they want and go back for more. You could also make it on individual plates for a more formal dinner. You can swap out the mint for any fresh herb (we sometimes make it with tarragon). This dish is super versatile! 

xxx Ivy & Eve

Serves 4 as an appetizer or side dish

Ingredients:

2 large zucchini

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lemon

1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated (grate your own cheese, it is always better that way)

5-7 mint leaves

salt and pepper

mandoline slicer (We got ours from OXO)

Directions:

  1. Slice the zucchinis very thinly with the mandoline. 
  2. Arrange on a platter, overlapping the slices slightly in one layer.
  3. Stack the mint leaves on top of each other and cut into fine slivers.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 of a lemon on the top.
  8. Sprinkle the mint on top.
  9. Enjoy!
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10 Things We Learned At The 2018 Pebble Beach Food & Wine

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The 2018 Pebble Beach Food and Wine has come and gone and we are SO sad. We had so much fun tasting and nibbling on all the food and wine sent from heaven under one giant white tent.  If you are a lover of food, or wine, or both like us, we highly recommend attending. It is seriously so amazing! 

We learned so many new things during the weekend, we wanted to put together a list of 10 things we learned at this year's event.

Here they are:

1. The Year of Foie Gras - We are calling this years event "The Year of Foie Gras" because so many of the chefs under the big tent on Saturday and Sunday were serving up delicious bites of foie gras. Eve has always adored Foie gras but Ivy, on the other hand, tends to steer away from these dishes because of the earthy liver taste. This year Ivy couldnt help but fall in love with Foie gras though. This year's chefs foie gras dishes all had such distinct tastes- some were fresh like Hudson Valley's brown butter foie gras crumble & strawberry...or the English pea panna cotta with spring vegetables, Meyer lemon and foie gras by Chef Blom. Foie gras can be made in so many ways it really can be delightful to all pallets!

Hudson Valley's brown butter crumble & strawberry foie gras

Hudson Valley's brown butter crumble & strawberry foie gras

English pea panna cotta with spring vegetables, meyer lemon and foie gras by Chef Blom

English pea panna cotta with spring vegetables, meyer lemon and foie gras by Chef Blom

2. Eat Your Invasives - Chef Lofaro had one of our favorite dishes of the weekend. Why? Because it was delicious, the presentation was beautiful, and the concept behind it was so awesome. Lafaro had made his dish out of kiawe bean flour and strawberry and guava plants which are all invasive plants in his home state of Hawaii. He decided to use these invasives for good - eating! As he removes the plants from the landscape, he uses it to create this delicious dish. No waste for the bettering of the ecosystem. SO COOL!

Eat Your Invasives! kiawe, walawf, and white bread poke by Chef Lofaro

Eat Your Invasives! kiawe, walawf, and white bread poke by Chef Lofaro

3. Time For Vegas - We were invited to the Venetian Hotel happy hour on Saturday evening. This event was held at the fire pits at the Inn at Spanish Bay. The happy hour included a few signature cocktails that were tasty and unique and Chef Lorena Garcia was serving up delicious tacos! Ivy has only been to Vegas overnight on her way back from college and Eve has NEVER been! From what The Venetian did with this event, we know where we're headed next! Vegas Baby! We're planning to go to Vegas in the next several months to get the FULL Vegas experience!

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4. There really is no substitute for bubbles - This year we were lucky to catch up with our "spirit sommelier" Kim Beto and attend his Sunday Bubbles Seminar, which is similar to the Big Bottle Bubbles seminar we attended in 2016. If you love champagne like us, you MUST attend this seminar. At 10 am on a Sunday you are greeted with a tasting flight of 9 different champagnes/sparkling wines to taste along with your new best friends (the five champagne experts on the panel).  

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This year our favorite quotes from the seminar were:

  • Magnums are the perfect size for two if only one is drinking.
  • Drink Champagne right out of the bottle! "great on buses when you don't have glasses" - Kim Beto
  • Sabering party "If you haven't had one you're not living" - Kim Beto
  • England is the new "up and coming" producer of sparkling wines. Two of the nine wines we tasted were from Jolly Old England and we were shocked at how delicious they were! We honestly didn't think good wine could come from such a wet, mild climate. Boy, were we wrong!
Us with "spirit sommelier" Kim Beto at Sunday Bubbles

Us with "spirit sommelier" Kim Beto at Sunday Bubbles

5. Good bread and butter is one of life's greatest simple pleasures - We are always down to eat fresh bread and homemade butter, but it's not something you are expecting to eat at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine. A day full of foie gras and delectable cheeses is more the norm. However, this year we stumbled upon the Kerrygold butter booth and were pleasantly surprised and instantly comforted by the simplicity of quality bread and butter. After hours of trying new wines and rich bites, the bread and butter was a welcomed change! Such a simple food really can be delicious.

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6. Lanson Champagne is still our favorite! - We are always looking for new champagnes to try but we honestly still adore Lanson Champagne the most. #sorrynotsorry

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8.  Berries by themselves - Driscoll always makes an appearance at the PBFW event. The berries are served as is and are always one of our favorite snacks in between the richer bites chefs prepare. The acidity and sweetness wake up our pallet so they are ready to try the next thing! We also loved the tasty berry popsicles they handed out as we all left the tent. 

9. Sake for wellness sake - This year we sampled TYKU sake which has a variety of flavors. Tyku is a clean alternative to wine because it has lower acidity, no sulfites which sometimes irritate people, and has no tannins. You can literally "unwine" with TYKU. Our favorite flavor was the refreshing cucumber. We think it may be time to explore the world of sake soon. 

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10. There really is NOTHING like PBFW - We haven't been able to attend any of the other Food and Wine events around the world but we have been told by many who have that the Pebble Beach Food and Wine is the BEST. And jousting by the location, the chef and winemakers who attend, and our experience, we can't see how anywhere else can compare!

Avacado, mint and cucumber shooter topped with créme fraîche and wild flowers

Avacado, mint and cucumber shooter topped with créme fraîche and wild flowers

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Bone marrow, butterscotch, panna cotta with blueberry and bacon relish by Chef Jin from Paws Up Resort

Bone marrow, butterscotch, panna cotta with blueberry and bacon relish by Chef Jin from Paws Up Resort

It was our Mom's birthday on Sunday we were so happy to be able to spend the day sipping and tasting with her!

It was our Mom's birthday on Sunday we were so happy to be able to spend the day sipping and tasting with her!

Kona kampachi tartar with shallots, chives, avacado puree, radish, lemon aioli and honey crumble.

Kona kampachi tartar with shallots, chives, avacado puree, radish, lemon aioli and honey crumble.

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Marinated salt spring mussels

Marinated salt spring mussels

Food & Wine Event Tips & Attire

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If you haven't heard yet, we are SUPER excited to announce we are attending the 2018 Pebble Beach Food & Wine- Saturday & Sunday events this coming weekend! We attended the 2016 Sunday Big Bottle Bubbles and the Lexus Grand Tasting event (which you can read about here) and it was such a blast. We have put together some tips for you to keep in mind as you prepare to attend all of this year's Food and Wine events. 

xoxo Ivy & Eve

  • Make sure you are FULLY hydrated before the event and drink water between each taste. 

  • Eat something before the event! Otherwise the alcohol will affect you sooner!

  • Make sure you have your designated driver/transportation home figured out before you get to the event. We all want to be responsible imbibers!!!

  • Wear darker colors, or patterned clothes. During these types of events, you are walking and standing in tight quarters so spills are very common (at least for clumsy people like us!), Wearing patterned or dark colors will hide spills so you can keep looking flawless. #goals

  • Comfy, chic, closed toe shoes are best for such events since there are lots of people and the possibility of being stomped on is high. We recommend wearing shoes you are comfortable in since these events are hours long and you'll be standing/walking around the the whole time.  

  • A small yet roomy bag to carry all your personal items (camera, tickets, business cards collected from vendors, etc.). We love using cross body bags because they leave both hands free for carrying our wine glass and small bites. :)

  • Wear layers that can be easily carried (you'll need both hands for food/drinks). The weather in Pebble Beach can go from chilly 50's to sunny 75 in a matter on minutes, so layering up is always a good idea. That being said, make sure whatever layers you wear can be either tied around your shoulders/waist or stuffed in your bag.

  • Long lasting lip color/no lip color (greasy foods and lots of wine will make it rub off easily). We recommend Lipsense (our new favorite brand!) but if you don't have time to get some...our second favorite is Maybelline Super Stay 24 Color

  • Start with bubbles! Sparkling wine excites your palate and gets you ready for what is to come!

  • Go from light to dark wines. Since you wont be guided through the hundreds of wines this guide comes in handy: White before Red, Dry before Sweet. 

  • Use the 5 S's - Sight, Swirl, Smell, Sip,  Savor!

  • Bring your sense of adventure! At all food & wine events, we highly recommend keeping away from your favorites and trying something new that you never thought you would like! Last time, we tried Chef Todd Fischer's Bacon Chocolate Covered Chicharrones which Eve was actually addicted to for weeks (we asked the Chef Todd for several take-home bags!!).

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Scottsdale, Arizona: A Desert Getaway

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Last year, if you had told us that our new favorite weekend getaway location would be in the middle of the desert, we would have probably laughed out loud. Arizona has never really been on the top of our travel list and yet, when we found ourselves in desperate need to get away and just relax, Scottsdale kept popping up in our search results. On a whim, we decided to test it out and boy, are we happy we did! We were so pleasantly surprised at how awesome this little desert town is that we find ourselves daydreaming of the place A LOT.

We booked last minute trip after seeing a killer deal at The Saguaro Hotel on Guilt Travel, which ended up being the perfect base for our Scottsdale adventures. One of the greatest parts was how easy it was for us to get there. Usually, flights out of our local airport are super expensive but this direct flight was amazingly affordable! We left at 6:00 am, took a quick 1.5-hour plane ride, grabbed a taxi from Phoenix, checked into our hotel, and were at brunch sipping mimosas by 9:30 am!!! Both of these deals made it perfect for our spontaneous trip to Arizona. We have put together our favorite places to eat, drink, stay and play. 

xxx Ivy & Eve

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Stay

The Saguaro Scottsdale- $$-$$$ This hotel screams fun! With bright colors everywhere you look, it's impossible not to be in a good mood. We chose to stay here because of its central location, super fun vibe, and great price! This hotel was the perfect place for our weekend getaway. We definitely recommend this place for a girls weekend or bachelorette party (Eve actually planned one of her friends bachelorette weekends there last fall!). We found this hotel on one of our favorite travel sites Guilt Travel. We wouldn't recommend this hotel for someone looking for a very quiet relaxing weekend since there were quite a lot of screaming girls (in bachelorette parties) but if you are visiting Scottsdale with friends it's ideal. The hotel offers bikes you can take for a spin, two pools, and a spa facility where you can choose from a number of treatments. 

TIP: It obviously get REALLY hot in Scottsdale in the summer and come July monsoon season hits and lasts until the end of August where you'll get torrential rainstorms out of the blue. these storms don't last long though so it isn't too bad if you don't mind getting a little wet. We recommend going End of September-June for the best weather. June gets HOT (100+) though so be warned! 

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Eat

Diego Pops- $$ This trendy Mexican restaurant is located in downtown Scottsdale. Their menu includes the typical tacos, and burritos you'd expect but it also includes a few poke bowl options. And if your not hungry just their drinks are worth a visit. The menu features a variety of tropical cocktails, a tequila flight or even a fun snow cone margarita! 

Saguaro Restaurant- $$ Located at The Saguaro Hotel this was the perfect place to grab breakfast or lunch before or after our pool time. they also have a smaller poolside menu with similar options for lunch. We loved their guacamole, nachos, and street tacos alongside a pitcher of frosé! 

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Arcadia Farms- $$$ Located in old town Scottsdale this classic brunch place is perfect for any girls weekend. This was our first stop on the trip and helped get us into vacation mode. (All the mimosas we consumed may have helped.)  We also recommend heading next door to the Arcadia Farms Marketplace. This is an awesome place to grab food to go or purchase some fun gifts!

The Montauk- $$$ This place was amazing! With lots of fresh food options, it was the perfect lunch spot to sit under the misters and enjoy the hot Arizona weather. We loved their frozé and a refreshing rose cocktail. Eve went back for brunch and can tell you it is equally good then!

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The Original ChopShop- $ We grabbed a quick breakfast here early one morning before wandering around old town Scottsdale. With the slogan "just feel good food" this place was the perfect place to fuel up before a day of pursuing shops and laying by the pool. For the morning menu, they specialize in superfruit bowls and parfaits that look good and taste great, along with fresh juices and some tasty breakfast sandwiches. 

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Prado- $$$-$$$$ This restaurant is located in the Omni Resort and Spa in Paradise Valley which is a little ways outside of Old Town (10-minute taxi). We enjoyed a leisurely dinner of Spanish wines and many tapas-style dishes on the patio and enjoyed the sunset views of Camelback Mountain. 

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We brought Mom along for this fun weekend!

We brought Mom along for this fun weekend!

The Henry- Also located in Paradise Valley, The Henry is a perfect place for a larger group because this place is HUGE! There's a large patio, lounge, and expansive dining room. They have a good wine list and tasty dishes. Our favorites were the short rib potstickers and the grilled branzino fish. 

Berdena's- This cute coffee shop is perfect for an afternoon pick me up. They have a tasty selection of freshly baked bars, cookies, and pastries as well as delicious coffees. Eve tried their cherry cold brew and tonic drink and she still dreams about it to this day!

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Play

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art- $$ Enjoy a bit of culture and escape the heat! This museum has great contemporary art exhibitions and a beautiful sculpture garden.

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Shopping in Old Town- (Free) Right outside the Saguaro Hotel, Old Town is a great place to enjoy a leisurely stroll in the morning or afternoon when it's not too hot out. With dozens of cute boutiques and some fantastic southwestern shops within a few blocks, you can have a blast without working up a sweat.  

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Scottsdale Fashion Square- (Free) Just around the corner from Old Town this indoor mall is a great place to cool down and indulge in some serious retail therapy.

The Saguaro Hotel Spa- $$$ The perfect addition to any vacation. We all had a massage treatment in the morning to start our days off on the right foot. Be sure to look on their website for spa deals. 

Hike- (Free) Scottsdale is known for a number of great outdoor activities, hiking is one of the most popular. However, depending on the time of year you go, you may have to wake up really early to avoid the 100+ temperatures that are regular some parts of the year. We recommend hiking Pinnacles Peak Park for its views of the Valley. 

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We recommend checking out Experience Scottsdale's website for more ideas! 

A Holiday Trip: Denver

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Denver, the Mile High City, is known for its sweeping views of the Rockies and the large array of outdoor activities in its backyard. We decided to take a spontaneous trip to Denver to see what all the rage is about. Now that we have been there, we can confirm that this city was built for foodies, beer and wine lovers, and the outdoor enthusiast! 

As travelers we have been blessed with the opportunity to visit cities all over the world. Denver is definitely one for the books. Whether you are looking for a quick weekend getaway or a week long vacation including ski chalets and mulled wine, Denver has something for everyone. We want to give a shout out to Hotel Monaco Denver for being amazing hosts for us!

Here are some of the best places we discovered over our quick weekend getaway:

xxx Ivy & Eve


EAT

Snooze $$ - When Ivy was doing her undergrad in Northern Colorado the local Snooze quickly became her go-to brunch spot. We highly recommend their Bloody Marys and the pancake flight (3 pancakes) which you can select from an array of sweet and savory pancakes. Although the menu is constantly changing, we suggest ordering the red velvet, sweet potato, or the pineapple upside down pancake if they are on offer. 

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Denver Central Market $-$$ - This is probably our favorite place we discovered on the trip. Denver Central Market is an awesome food hall with all kinds of great vendors from Curio - bar, Culture - meat & cheese, Tammen's - fish market, and High Point Creamery- ice cream! We noshed on a tuna/salmon poke bowl, a cheese and meat platter, and washed it down with some tasty house rosé!

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beast + bottle $$$ - This place is big on farm to table cuisine. The menu was full of perfectly crafted entrees, small bites, and tasty cocktails. We LOVED the chicharrones served with a yummy creamy red pepper dip!

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Marczyk Fine Foods $-$$$ - This grocery store is located just across the street from beast + bottle. They have an amazing selection of cheeses, meats, and bakery goods. This is the perfect spot to stock up on goodies for your outdoor adventures or even a picnic!

Venice $$$ - If you are looking for an Italian restaurant with an amazing wine list choose Venice. It is also located across the street form Union Station. 

Mercantile $$ - Located in the Union Station, Mercantile is part coffee shop, part bakery, and part casual restaurant. They serve tasty sandwiches, salads, and amazing Bloody Marys! We recommend getting anything that will include their house-made pickles. SO GOOD!

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Buckhorn Exchange $$$ - Our Dad heard about this place and has wanted to go for years so he sent us on a mission to test it out for him. We are SO GLAD he did! The Buckhorn Exchange is Denver's oldest restaurant and is a registered National Historic Landmark. The walls are covered with taxidermy animals, old photographs, and other "wild west" memorabilia. They are known for their top-notch steaks and a few more unusual dishes. We started out the night with the rattlesnake queso - warm queso dip topped with rattlesnake meat and a 1/2 order of their rocky mountain oysters (deep fried calf testicles). Growing up in horse country we have had our fair share of these delicacies, and we can tell you these were some of the best! For our dinner we shared the giant buffalo prime rib and washed it all down with some cold Colorado brews! Fantastic!

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DRINK

Forest Room 5 $ - This hip but under the radar bar is a great place to start your evening. Grab a beer or cocktail inside and head out to their side yard for fire pits, a little stream, and even a tipi. We loved its laid back feel and the quirky western films playing in the restrooms. 

My Brother $ - This is Denver's oldest operating bar, making it a must visit. Just down the road from Forest Room 5, this almost secret bar is perfect for your late night hangouts. We ordered a pitcher of beer, fries, and onion rings, but we hear the cottage cheese is worth ordering! 

Terminal Bar $$ - Located in Union Station, during the day Terminal Bar is packed with people coming and going via bus, or train. After hours it turns into a super cool lounge. After all the restaurants and shops close The Great Hall turns into seating for the bar.  

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Ratio Beerworks $$ - Right down the street from Denver Central Market this brewery is the perfect place to enjoy your delicious lunch. We ordered their carrot beer and it was seriously good! 

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Infinite Monkey Theorem $$$ - This urban winery has a really fun laid back vibe with a variety of wines on tap, in cans, and in traditional bottles. Grab a glass, take a seat, relax, and repeat! 

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PLAY

Christmas Market Free - During the holidays, Denver hosts an adorable traditional German Christmas Market with booths offering everything from German made ornaments to giant pretzels! Grab a mug full of mulled wine or hot cocoa and peruse the shops at your leisure. 

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Parade of Lights Free - This once a year (two nights in a row) parade is definitely worth watching before you head out to dinner. Starting at dusk all of the parade floats and people are covered in glowing lights. This is a fun event for all ages. We liked the fire dancers the most! 

STAY

The Kimpton Hotel Monaco $$$ - We called this place home for the weekend and loved it! The hotel lobby and rooms are beautiful. They have a great restaurant and bar attached, extremely attentive staff, and its location is right downtown, within walking distance of everything Denver has to offer. We can't stop saying great things about this hotel. 

We got into Denver at 5am and we were able to check into our room even though check in is usually 4 pm! One of our favorite parts of staying at the Monaco Denver was the daily happy hour in the lobby from 5-6. At happy hour, there were two wines to choose from and a beer on tap along with a little snack to go along with your drink. One night they had meatballs which were divine! We loved that the Monaco Denver thinks of the details like a "hydration station" in the lobby and even free hand warmers for the chilly Denver evenings! We can't wait to go back soon!

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Happy Holiday!

Wine of The Month Club: Wine Subscription Service Review

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If you didn't already know, subscription services are one of our guilty pleasures. We've love receiving packages in the mail, and what could be better than receiving a package of wine?! Last year we reviewed the WINC wine subscription HERE. Now we want to share with you the Wine Of The Month Club!

So why join Wine Of The Month Club? Well, being the original wine shipping subscription service (started in 1972), they have had time to perfect. Why do we love WOTMC so much? They offer 10 different club levels to choose from, ranging from the classic membership to the more specific rosé only club.  You can be as picky or nonchalant as you wish with shipments. We subscribe to the "Classic" Cellar Series club which ships six bottles (4 red, 2 white) to our door every other month. We love this club because we try amazing value wines from around the world. All wines have a 100% guarantee so if you don't like the wine, you don't pay for it. Also, if you like something, they have fantastic reorder prices! Take a look at one of our most recent shipments!

xxx Ivy & Eve

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Rockus Bockus Proprietary Red Wine / 2013 / Sonoma, CA

This mega red-blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Zinfandel has a deep crimson color with blackberry and spice notes acommpanied by intense fruit flavors and a hint of bright strawberry at the finish. We would pair this bold red with and equally big flavored dish and red meats. 

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Pietra Santa Sangiovese / 2013 / Monterey, CA

This dark ruby colored classic Italian varietal has a slightly "hot" alcoholic smell with subtle scents of damp soil and dark fruit - bursting flavors on the tongue of black cherries and licorice. Nice long finish. We would serve this up with steak or game!

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 Pietra Santa Merlot / 2013 / Monterey, CA

This lush merlot was our favorite out of the shipment. With an intoxicating aroma of dark fruits, spice, and leather. On the palate we tasted dark fruit and berries, vanilla, and a hint of tobacco. This wine had a nice smooth finish with silky tannins. We would happily sip on this alone or pair it with a great cheese board. 

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 Pietra Santa Zinfandel / 2012 / Monterey, CA

While completely drinkable this was our least favorite of the shipment. This Zin had a dark rusty red color, smelled a bit like straw and had dry, dusty tannins. We would recommend decanting it (which we did after our first taste) giving it a chance to open up a bit.

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Back Story Sauvignon Blanc / 2015 / CA

This Sauv Blanc had a very pale yellow color with a citrusy nose and a hint of green bell peppers. Pleasingly, it tasted much less acidic than what the scent hinted. We would recommend drinking this wine with a nice light veggie dish or fish. 

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Kunza Sauvignon Blanc / 2015 / Maule Valley, Chile

This wine had a bright yellow color and aromas of grapefruit and pineapple. The taste was tropical with a nice mineral finish - very crisp and refreshing. We would suggest pairing this wine with fish or a fresh salad!

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A Wine Lover's Guide to Edinburgh

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While wine may not be the first thing you think about when visiting Edinburgh, that doesn't mean there isn’t plenty of amazing places to satisfy the wine lover in you. Edinburgh is home to some of the best wine bars and restaurants we have ever been to, and that’s saying something! We can’t think of many better ways to spend an afternoon, cozying up in one of these spots with a glass of wine, a bite to eat, and a friend or two.

We have teamed up with This is Edinburgh to share with you our wine lover's guide to Edinburgh.Follow the link below to find out where our favorite locations for wine connoisseurs and casual wine drinkers to visit in Scotland’s capital city.

Continue reading A Wine Lover's Guide to Edinburgh...

xxx Ivy & Eve

The Fat Pony

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Summer Whites

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Outfit Details:

Dress Olivia Culpo x Le Tote | Heels JustFab (similar) | Ring Vintage | Purse Danielle Nicole | Lipstick  Maybelline New York in Voyager

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While summer is coming to a close, our love for white's and summer brights are not fading anytime soon. Last weekend Ivy put on this pretty lace number for a day of hanging out with family and friends at our house. This dress is prefect for formal occasions like baby showers and graduation parties but just throw on a black leather jacket and this classic dress turns edgy! We're not a fan of rules, so wearing white after Labor Day is just our type of rebellion!

Join JustFab now and enjoy $15 off your first purchase!

xxx Ivy & Eve

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Whole Foods Wine Sale + Food Pairings!

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Who loves a great wine sale? We sure do! Whole Foods Market is holding an awesome wine sale ONE DAY only-Friday, September 8th. For that one day only, you will get 30% off any 6 or more bottles purchase (excluding wines with prices ending in .98). We have partnered with our favorite grocery store to share with you some of our wine sale recommendations as well as some great food pairings so you can make the most of this great sale. 

Everyone also knows we LOVEEE wine tasting. Be sure to stop by the store this week for some of exactly that! There will be wine tasting going on Aug. 29th & 30th (4pm-7pm). This will is a great way to try out some of the wines on sale before purchasing them. And if you do find something you love we suggest pre-ordering to ensure you get the wines you want. Plus you will receive a coupon for 50% off your olive bar purchases when you come to pickup your wines on the 8th! We know we'll be heading over to our local Whole Foods to sample before we buy!

xxx Ivy & Eve

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**Sale excludes Three Wishes & wines ending in .98 cents.**

Here are just a few wines we sampled that will be included in the wine sale: 

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AVA Grace Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc / 2016 / CA / $9.99 each

Tasting notes: Pale straw color, notes of grapefruit, grass, and melon. Crisp.

Pairing: We love to pair Sauvignon Blancs with briny things like olives and oysters (YUM!). 

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Le Galantin Bandol Rosé / 2016 / France / $22.99 each

Tasting notes: Light salmon color, notes of rose, strawberries, summer fruits, with a slight minerality. Dry.

Pairing: We tend to pair dry rosé with goat cheese, prosciutto and other cured meats, and our ultimate favorite...pizza!!

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Lan Reserva Rioja Tempranillo / 2010 / Spain / $14.99

Tasting notes: Inky color, notes of subtle spices, jammy, black berry, black cherry, and slight tobacco. Light tannins.

Pairing: We love to pair our favorite Spanish red with a great Spanish sheep's cheese like a Manchego! We suggest the Mitica 3-month aged Manchego alongside some 34° Crisps crackers (Ivy's absolute fave) and Guayeco Guava Paste all from Whole Foods! This is seriously the ultimate single bite!

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Domaine Allimant-Laugner Sparkiling Rosè / Nonvintage / France / $21.99

Tasting notes: Pale peach color, notes of strawberries and cream and lightly toasted brioche. Small, tight bubbles and nice acidity. 

Pairing: We would totally love to nosh on some brie and baguette with this sparkling rosé, but we could also see this pairing perfectly with brunch (eggs benedict anyone?!?) or even enjoying sans food poolside!

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Do you have any Whole Foods wine recommendations or food pairing suggestions? Let us know!

Locals Only Guide to Old Monterey, California

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We were very lucky to have grown up on the beautiful Monterey Bay Peninsula. Raised in Carmel Valley, we spent lots of time in "Old Monterey". These days, we appreciate Old Monterey even more and enjoy the fabulous restaurants and night life it has to offer.

Here are some of our favorite places to eat, drink, stay, and play in Old Monterey. Enjoy!

xxx Ivy & Eve

Eat & Drink:

Jacks Monterey- $$$ Located in the Portola Hotel & Spa this newly renovated restaurant is nothing short of amazing! The Portola Hotel lobby is lined with giant (living) trees which stretch into the restaurant seating area. With lantern like lights hanging from the tree branches, there is a really magical feel to the space. Jack Monterey's menu is full of tasty fresh dishes and creative twists to classics. They also have an excellent selection of local and international wines to enjoy by the glass and/or by the bottle. Their glass selections change frequently so if you are like us and tend to order by the glass (that way you can try several!) you have the opportunity to try something new, or revisit a favorite wine. For starters we recommend the Cast-Iron Skillet Rolls to share with the table. The rolls were SO light and fluffy and paired perfectly with the super creamy artichoke and pecorino sauce they smother the rolls in! You also MUST try the Crab Cakes as well. Probably the best we've had in years! For our entrees, we enjoyed the Diver Scallops Three Ways which was the stand out dish of the night. The scallops are served in a lemon butter sauce (more traditional), salsa verde style (light and fresh), and in a Romenesco sauce (completely decadent). We also tried the Lamb Moussaka - comforting with its mashed potato topping while still tasting fresh with all of the veggies and succulent cubed (not ground) lamb. For dessert we went with the classic Chocolate Lava Cake and coffees to round out the night. Eve had her eyes on their dessert cocktails... so we know we will be back soon!

Overall, we would suggest Jacks Monterey for girls night, dates and other special occasions. We also recommend the lounge and bar as a great place to meet for drinks post-work or just for a date night! It's a 10/10!!!!

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1833- $$$ We love 1833 for it's history and slightly spooky speakeasy vibe. Named after the year John Stokes, (a fake doctor-who ended up killing 40% of Monterey's population one year!) moved to Monterey and into the adobe house that now holds the Restaurant 1833. Their cocktail menu is full of artistically crafted drinks and great wines and beers. With outdoor fire pits and perfectly decorated rooms such as the library room (our favorite) with a cozy fireplace. They also have a great happy hour where you can select a cocktail/beer/wine and a tasty bite for $12. 1833 is a great place to meet friends, share stories, and maybe even see a ghost!

Montrio Bistro- $$ This is a great place for happy hour or a romantic dinner out. With their upbeat and slightly whimsical decor, creative cocktails, and seasonally inspired dishes, everyone is sure to leave Montrio happy, full, and wanting more. They also have two separate rooms for private parties. Eve has planned several parties here in the past and they are always a hit!

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Alvarado Street Brewery- $-$$ This ultra trendy brewery and beer garden is always packed with locals and tourists alike. They make awesome beers in-house (and at their second brewery in Salinas) and serve up great casual dishes created specifically for pairing with beer. We recommend grabbing a brew and ordering their macaroni and cheese, street tacos, and their burgers!

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The Poke Lab- $ A relatively new and popular place for a quick bite to eat. Pick a bowl from the menu or build your own, there's something for any sushi lover here! Very Insta-worthy!

Yummy! (now in even larger containers!)

Yummy! (now in even larger containers!)

Boardwalk Subs Shop- $ If you are a sandwich person you must go here. They have so many cold and hot East Coast style sandwich options it is nearly impossible to pick just one. We love the Chicken Parm, Meatball, and the Jersey Italian Sub. Order a side of Old Bay fries to share and wash it down with their fresh brewed iced tea or rotating list of local beers and wines!

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Paris Bakery- $ For a truly authentic French feel, come here for a croissant and a mini bottle of bubbly (served in cute little coupes). We recommend trying their princess cakes too! They also serve their lattes and cafe au lait in bowls for the true French experience!

Parker Lusseau- $ For the delicious coffee and delicious pastries. We recommend trying the custard filled brioche and chicken curry sandwich!

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Ocean Sushi Deli- $ A cosy local sushi bar with quick service and friendly staff. Workdays we often grab a quick lunch but also love to order their sushi platters to go - when we are too lazy to cook at home. 

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Scales Seafood & Steaks- $-$$ There are dozens of restaurants along the wharf to end your hunger for seafood. We usually dine at Scales on the Go, which is Scales Restaurant's sister cafe. Here you can enjoy food to-go or sit down and relax in their small cafe and enjoy their seafood spread. We always get clam chowder in a bread bowl. Yes, we recommend splurging on your calories and carbs here because the bread bowl is so delicious!

Stay:

Although we rarely have a need to stay in hotels in our hometown we have visited all of these hotels below and recommend each one.

Portola Hotel & Spa- Home to the Jacks Monterey restaurant mentioned above this hotel is lovely and features a great location to nearly everything in Old Monterey. We also highly recommend making reservations as their spa, the pool has some of the most gorgeous views of the bay around. A massage + wine + a great view = perfection!

The Monterey Hotel- This hotel is perfect for those looking for a boutique hotel with true character. Featuring Victorian style furnishings that are sure to charm you and within walking distance of everything your heart desires while exploring Old Town Monterey.   

Casa Munras Garden and Hotel- This historic hotel has stayed true to its' past life as a Spanish Hacienda. These days rooms feature Spanish style furnishings with modern luxuries. Another great location.  

Hotel Abrego- Eve has stayed here and completely recommends it! While it is a few blocks away from the excitement from Old Monterey (it's on the same block as two gas stations and a Denny's). It is easily walkable to all Old Monterey locations and has free overnight parking which all other hotels we mention do NOT have! The hotel features beautiful rooms with electric fireplaces, a small bar (open pretty late) and breakfast daily. 

Play:

Monterey Museum of Art- Did you know Monterey was one of the earliest West Coast artist colonies? For a dose of art and culture, head to the MMA! Their 6 small galleries are brimming with wonderful California art dating from the 1800s to the present. You will find galleries focused on Early California paintings, Photography (Edward Weston and Ansel Adams were both locals), and contemporary works.

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Golden State Theater- From country music stars, big name comedians, up and coming artists, and old classics- Golden State Theater has something for everyone. Built in 1926, the exotic Moorish style interior makes your visit unforgettable. We recently fulfilled our dreams of seeing the Beach Boys in concert here and it was nothing short of magical!!!

Wale Watching- This is a quintessential Monterey activity!  Monterey Bay is home to some of the most extraordinary wildlife. You will almost always be guaranteed to see dolphins, whales, seals, or otters. Plus, its a great way to see our beautiful coastline from a different perspective. 

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Ghost Tour of Old Monterey- Monterey was California's first capitol city, and that being said there is a LOT of history here. It is so historic that Old Monterey is only second to Williamsburg, VA for having the most historical buildings in America! While on the tour, learn about Old Town Monterey's dark past and spooky secrets!

24 hours in Napa, CA

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During the week, Eve works as a curator at an art museum. One of the perks of the job is that she is sometimes asked to visit artists' studios and select art for donation or exhibition. A few months ago, Eve was asked to visit an amazing California landscape painter, Jack Stuppin, up north and we decided to make a quick trip out of it!

We arrived in Napa around noon and went straight to Clif Family Winery. We only recently discovered this Napa winery and had to stop in to say hi and try their food and wine pairing. Created by the founders Gary and Kit of Clif Bars, Clif Family Winery is full of fun history, great food, and of course great wine. The winery was created after Gary and Kit's cycling adventures in Italy. Their adventures included cycling, leisurely Italian meals with wine, and great food and hospitality and sparked the idea to create their own wines from their property on top of Howell Mountain. Now they grow grapes for their delicious wines and organic veggies for their Bruschetteria food truck.

We tasted through their wines each paired with a little bite to eat fresh from the food truck out front. The wines were delicious and the food pairings were perfect. Troy and Tom, who were our servers, made sure we had an awesome time. We were first served some wines that were not included in our Bruschetteria Trio, the 2016 Rosé of Grenache, 2016 Rte. Blanc Sauvignon Blanc, 2014 Bici "MRV" White Blend, and the 2015 Mendocino Grenache.

For the Bruschetteria Trio which started with a seasonal Arancini that was super tasty. The first wine pairing for the flight was the 2015 Oak Knoll Chardonnay which was paired with Porchetta Bruschetta (pronounced "Pork-etta" with pork, herbs, red onion, aioli, and parmesan. Next was the delightful 2013 Gary's Improv Howell Mountain Zin. This yummy wine was paired with their Pimento Bruschetta which included roasted beet pimento spread, goat cheese, and Clif Family Kitchen smoked paprika almonds. The last wine on our flight was the 2013 Kit's Killer Howell Mountain Cab, this heavy and scrumptious red was paired with their Funghi Bruschetta which featured local mushrooms, fontina, and chives.

Lastly Troy brought us a delicious chocolate and red wine reduction "pudding" with Zinfandel salt sprinkled on top and a small bowl of chocolate covered caramels and cherries. Just thinking about them makes our mouths start watering! Our favorite wines were, of course, the rosé and the 2015 Mendocino Grenache (which Troy told us we should try chilled 20-30 min). We ended up leaving with a few different bottles and later tried the Grenache chilled back home and it was quite refreshing!

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After satisfying our palates and stomachs, we headed down the road to Napa Soap Company. We loved this cute shop and its lovely smelling soaps all made right in-house. We picked up a few of their bath "teas", soaps, and some shaving bars for the boys. They have the most amazing array of scents to suit everyone! 

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After doing a little shopping, we drove to Domaine Chandon where Ivy is a wine club member (YAY!) and we took full advantage of the benefits seeing as we rarely ever make it up to Napa. We sipped through the bubbly wine tasting flight which was delicious and nibbled on some truffle popcorn, and cheese plate. The Chandon tasting room is surrounded by green lawns perfect for picnicking, patio seating, a restaurant, and lawn chairs to admire the Napa Valley vineyard views. This is definitely a beautiful place to sit back and relax some bubbly wines while in Napa. 

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After our leisurely bubbly flight, we headed to our hotel to check in. Since the trip was last minute we picked one of the cheapest we could find- Ivy Hotel. It was under renovation, which we were unaware of and it was much farther away from everything than we expected. This wouldn't be a hotel we would normally stay at but it was clean and comfortable for the price.

Once we settled in we headed to the sushi restaurant, Eiko's near the Napa water-front for drinks and dinner. This sushi place was über cool, and the menu was very creative. We're totally trying out the sushi tacos and pizza next time we come! Lexie ordered a bunch of tasty rolls and the blackened edamame which was really yummy! Ivy also got a MASSIVE glass of champagne and Eve tried out their extensive sake menu. You can order sake by the glass (2oz), carafe (10oz), or bottle. Eve loved that you could order glasses because that means you can try a few!

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The next morning we only had time to grab a bite to eat for breakfast at the Long Meadow Ranch. The only thing open when we got there was the Cafe which had nice blankets to bundle up in since it was a chilly morning and heater lamps were turned on. The coffee was delicious and so were our pastries! On the grounds, there is the main restaurant, the General Store, a tasting room, and an outdoor area where you can hangout on the grass or sit at the picnic tables and listen to live music. We definitely want to come back here for lunch or dinner. 

xxx Ivy & Eve

Photo credit:  Long Meadow Ranch

Photo credit: Long Meadow Ranch

3 Ingredient Cold Brew Coffee Ice Cream

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We LOVE ice cream in the summer and remember our Mom making ice cream from scratch while we were growing up. Ice cream always tastes better when it is homemade and not from the store! 

We also love iced coffee, so when we discovered Jittery John's in our local Safeway, we were hooked! This is by far, the EASIEST ice cream recipe we have seen and it results in creamy, delicious, rich coffee ice cream that even rivals Häagen-Dazs! If you can't get Jittery John's (sold in local grocery stores and Target stores across the West Coast [search here]) you can use another strong cold brew coffee. 

xxx Ivy & Eve

Makes about 2 pints.

Requires an ice cream maker. We use the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker with Extra Freezer Bowl (only $69.95!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 (12 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup Jittery John's Cold Brew Concentrate - New Orleans Style

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Pour 1/2 into the ice cream maker (your ice cream maker may be able to fit more. Ours only fit 1/2 of this recipe). 
  3. Make ice cream according to machine. Ours took about 20 minutes to become soft-serve consistency. 
  4. Pour into a freezer proof container. We use Tovolo ice cream containers.
  5. Freeze completely (at least 3 hours.)
  6. Repeat steps 1-5, adding the second batch to the ice cream container. 
  7. Take out of the freezer 10-15 minutes before serving. 
  8. Scoop into coffee cups, bowls, or cones with an ice cream scoop. 
  9. Enjoy!
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Killer Day Trips from Manchester, England

Last summer on our England adventure we spent a week stationed in Manchester City (see our Manchester trip here). With Manchester as our home base we had a lot of great options for day trips once we were satisfied we had explored Manchester enough. First up was York, which we featured on the blog a few months ago (read article here).

Liverpool

The second place on our day trip list was Liverpool. Neither of us had ever gone, and seeing as it's the birthplace of the Beatles, we knew we couldn't miss it. The train from Manchester to Liverpool was super simple and under an hour long. The only thing we planned was an afternoon tea at Panoramic 34

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This was a perfect way to start our day in Liverpool as we got to enjoy one the best afternoon teas we have encountered all while enjoying the Liverpool cityscape! Each table in the lounge had binoculars so you could get a closer look at the sights from the 34th floor! Simply spectacular!

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After stuffing ourselves with the delightful sandwiches and cakes, we took a stroll along the Liverpool waterfront. The Port of Liverpool is where many people from all over the UK and Ireland boarded ships to migrate to America. Recently we even found out that our 4th great-grandmother migrated to America and left from Liverpool's port to head to the New World back in 1854. Really cool right!?

Liverpool has a lot of great museums, the Tate Modern museum being one, but since we were limited on time, and the fact that Ivy is not the biggest fan of museums, we didn't make it. (Funny, since museums are one of Eve's most favorite things - so much so that she works in one!). Instead we visited the Museum of Liverpool and later the Beatles Museum. Eve plans to come back another time for some serious museum hopping.

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Then we wandered over to The Beatles Story- Liverpool. We like the Beatles, but to be honest we are not diehard fans. Don't get us wrong, we love "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and all that, we just grew up listening mostly to country music. The museum is one of the few in the UK that charges admission (£15.95) so make sure you really want to go.

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Tip: Be sure to take the audio tour guide because without it the whole museum is pretty pointless, we repeat POINTLESS. The gallery guide didn't suggest them and the museum itself is a fun visual experience, but without the audio you miss most of the history behind the band. Definitely take the headphones.

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Chester

The third day trip on our list was Chester. Chester is a very old Roman city rich in history. The only thing we had planned here for the day was a ghost tour that evening (Ivy loves ghost tours) so we spent most of the day leisurely exploring this little city. 

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 Since it was a beautiful warm day we spent most of it wandering the streets and walking the Roman walls surrounding the city. 

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Cheshire Cat along the wall

Cheshire Cat along the wall

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In the afternoon, we spent some time in the Chester Cathedral. Founded as a Benedictine abby in 1092. This cathedral is a wonderful place to soak up some history, architectural beauty, and faith. There was a military service that day as well so the whole cathedral ground was full of people!

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Cool stained glass windows inside the cathedral

Cool stained glass windows inside the cathedral

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Colorful doors

Colorful doors

After walking the some of the Roman wall and visiting the Cathedral, we stopped at Dinky Donuts for some sweet treats! Literally a hole-in-the-wall shop built right below the clock tower, they serve up some of the most delicious creamy ice creams we have ever tasted made by Cheshire Farm Ice Cream. Eve got the boozy Rum 'n' Raisin, Ivy got the classic Strawberries and Cream while P-man, Eve's BF, got donuts. YUM! 

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Later, we grabbed coffees to recharge at Jaunty Goat Coffee. We would recommend coming back for breakfast or lunch or even a bakery item because their menu and bakery case was drool worthy!

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After coffee we wandered the lovely antique shops Chester has to offer. We love visiting antique shops in Europe because they have so many more old objects to peruse and purchase. Once we had our fair share of shopping, and P-man was ready for a break, we wandered into a wine bar called Taste at Corks Out. With a few dozen wines on tap it was the perfect place to take a break before heading to the ghost tour that evening. We even saw a local wine from our hometown Monterey County, Hahn!

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After sipping on some tasty rosé, we headed to Town Hall, where we met our guide for The Original Ghost Tour of Chester. The tour took us around Chester's most haunted buildings and other locations of hauntings. Since Chester was an old Roman fort, the sinister stories and tales of hauntings date back to the 1st century A.D.! Chester claims to be one of the most haunted cities in England and we don't doubt that claim after going on this tour!

Overall we loved visiting both Liverpool and Chester. They are manageable day trips from Manchester and are a great way to get a sense of local history in a short time. We do plan to visit both cities again to explore more!

xxx Ivy & Eve

A Desert Retreat

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Eve's Outfit Details:

Dress & Hat Just Fab | Sandals Sam & Libby for Target (sold out) | Necklace Stella & Dot (sold out) | Bracelet Maria Shireen | Clutch Imoshion | Sunglasses Zenni Optical

A month ago we took a quick weekend trip to Scottsdale, Arizona. We had never been, and were excited to travel somewhere unfamiliar and sunny. California is sunny, don't get us wrong. But on the Monterey Peninsula (where we live) the average temperature is about 65 degrees year-round. So to us, Arizona was going to be REALLY hot. Eve brought along her new adorable dress from Just Fab and paired it with her trusty Sam & Libby sandals from Target we have featured in several other posts. She also brought along her new hat from Just Fab Hello Sunshine - perfect for keeping the sun out of her face. But our favorite accessory was the Imoshion lemon pattern clutch. The perfect size for fitting all the essentials for warm weather i.e. sunglasses, extra sunscreen, lip gloss, phone, and a large wallet. 

xxx Ivy & Eve

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Rosé Punch

Rosé season has arrived! WOOHOO!!! We are so happy to be enjoying the sunshine and warmth of summer after such a wet winter here in California. With rosé season upon us, we wanted to create a tasty cocktail worthy of sipping poolside. This rosé punch is just that: light, refreshing, and low in alcohol compared to other cocktails. It's the perfect drink for your #roséallday festivities!!! 

Ingredients:

  • 3 bottles Rosé- We used Gruet Rosé
  • 3 cups lemonade (freshly squeezed or just not from concentrate)
  • 3 cups citrus flavored sparkling water- We used La Croix Grapefruit
  • 3 grapefruits
  • 3 lemons
  • Ice
  • Edible flowers for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Squeeze 2 grapefruits and 2 lemons. Slice the last grapefruit and lemon into thin slices for garnishing glasses and adding to the punchbowl. 
  2. In a large punch bowl or drink dispenser add the rosé, lemonade, grapefruit juice and lemon juice. Stir.
  3. Add grapefruit and lemon slices.
  4. Fill the punch bowl or drink dispenser most of the rest of the way with ice and stir. 
  5. Add the sparkling water and gently stir. 
  6. Top the punchbowl with edible flowers and serve. 
  7. Enjoy!
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