food

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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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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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!

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

Cambria Girls Weekend

We are so excited to announce we are Cambria Ambassadors! Thanks to the great people at Visit Cambria, we were able to take another girls weekend getaway a few weekends ago. 

This trip, we stayed at a lovely B&B, The J. Patrick House. Tucked away in the pine forest above the town, this B&B was the ultimate cozy base for our Cambria adventures. The hosts, Linda and Ron, were extremely welcoming and gave us a quick tour of the place before showing us to our room, the Dublin, where we happily called home for the rest of the weekend. The J. Patrick House is wonderfully decorated with antiques Linda has collected from all over yet still has a nice contemporary feel to it. This is NOT your grandma's B&B. Another feature we loved about the J. Patrick is that each guest room has its own fireplace. We found ourselves turing it on every time we went to our room. There is just something so comforting about a fireplace don't you think? After we settled in, we joined the other guests for happy hour in the main house (more on that later) before whisking away for our first seafood dinner of the weekend!

On our first night we enjoyed dinner at the Sea Chest Oyster Bar and Seafood Restaurant.  We wanted to eat here the first time we visited Cambria (read about that here) in December, but they were closed for their yearly break which made us even more determined to visit this time around! The Sea Chest doesn't take reservations, and we have heard that a line starts to form outside the restaurant even before they open!

We lucked out as we went there around 7:30 so the rush had died down a bit. We put our name on the list, grabbed a glass of wine from the bar, and waited outside by their giant fire-pit. Before we finished our first glass of wine they had called our names and we headed in for a smorgasbord of seafood.  We love oysters so naturally we had a 1/2 dozen and decided to try their escargot as well. Both were delicious! For mains, Ivy chose the seafood linguini and Eve went with the cioppino. Everything was delicious and we had to practically roll ourselves out to our car. FYI: this is also a cash only restaurant so bring cash or your debit card (they have an ATM) and be prepared to wait for a table. Definitely worth the wait!

In the morning we dinned at the J. Patrick House. We were warmly greeted by Linda and Ron and the smell of freshly brewed coffee. The first course was a delicious fruit bowl with thinly sliced apple, red berries, and a homemade granola and yogurt. We could have eaten 12 bowls of the fruit salad!  The main course was the JP blueberry pancake, mini banana muffin, and sausage. SO DELICIOUS!!!

After stuffing ourselves, we headed for a guided tour of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. We went on the Bluff Trail walk lead by Docent Gil. They offer three different tours in the springtime on Saturdays (for more info click here).

The weather couldn't have been more perfect for a walk along the coast.  While we walked, we listened to Gil as he taught us about the property's history, the importance of the ocean for the people and animals that call this coast home, and identified plants and animals along the trail. We even did some bird watching and saw some ancient mortar holes from the Playano tribe. We couldn't imagine a prettier place to grind acorn flour and prepare meals. 

After all the walking and learning we had quite an appetite so we headed to Indigo Moon for lunch. We sat on their covered back patio and ordered their artisan cheese plate which had a trio of cow's milk cheeses (Midnight Moon, Cotswold, and Mahón) accompanied by caramelized walnuts, and pears. We enjoyed a refreshing glass of wine while discussing what we wanted to do next.

For our main dishes Eve ordered the pistachio crusted goat cheese salad with greens, ruby grapefruit, chicken, cucumbers and a lovely Meyer lemon champagne vinaigrette. Ivy ordered the grilled chicken sandwich with brie, onion jam, apples, and focaccia. This is sure to become one of our go-to spots for lunch. Everything is so fresh and delicious!

After lunch we stopped by our favorite shop, JunkGirls! We met Jenny and Melissa who are the owners and masterminds of the JunkGirls shop. These ladies are seriously amazing people and we could have spend many more hours with them sharing stories and wandering the nooks and crannies of the shop. We knew we wanted to bring home at least one of their amazing creations and we ended up leaving with custom spoon rings Melissa made for us and some amazing ladle board wall art pieces designed and created by Jenny! We especially loved picking out our spoons and watching them do their magic to create us unique beautiful rings. Nothing is impossible for the Junk Girls!

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After some more perusing of the other shops we headed to Cutruzzola Vineyards for some afternoon wine tasting. The tasting room is located at the very north end of town right off Highway 1. They had a lovely variety of wines to taste and we bought the 2015 Chardonnay and 2013 Gloria Estate Pinot Noir to bring home and share.

After enjoying some wine tasting we headed back to J. Patrick House for their happy hour (which should never be missed!). Linda and Ron have a large selection of local wines (red, white, and sparkling) to pick from to enjoy while chatting with the other guests. They also have appetizers set out for you to snack on before you head off to dinner.  Our first night featured an Italian appetizer selection while the second night was Mexican! We loved the happy hour because it was a great time to meet the other guests, get recommendations on where to go, and enjoy a glass of local wine. 

After enjoying a little downtime at happy hour, we were ready for dinner at Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill. Like Sea Chest Oyster Bar, they do not take reservations so make sure to plan ahead. They have a large beach front patio with plenty of heat lamps as well as inside dining. We ordered a half a dozen oysters and fried jalapenos (very spicy!) to start. We think their oysters are some of the best we have had on the west coast, that's saying something because we love oysters! For our main courses, Ivy tried their New York steak served with a side of smashed potatoes and a garlic cream sauce while Eve had the Moonstone's Best Catch served with Spanish rice and a delicious lobster shrimp cream sauce. The food was delicious and the service was great! We definitely see ourselves coming back and enjoying a glass of wine, oysters, and more on the patio at sunset during the summer. 

The next morning we had another lovely gourmet breakfast at J. Patrick House before our morning Flow Yoga class at GYM 1 with Kristina. For breakfast they had a beautiful (and delicious) fruit bowl with grapefruit, tangerines, and blackberries. For dressing they had Linda's family poppy seed recipe which went perfectly with the sweet berries and citrus fruits. For the main dish we had a personal skillet breakfast with eggs cooked anyway we wished. We had them sunny side up and they came with delicious homestyle potatoes, a side of bacon, and toast with delicious bacon jam. After breakfast we reluctantly packed our bags, said goodbye to our lovely room, and checked out. We were sad leaving but know we won't be able to stay away for too long! We left our hearts at J. Patrick House!!!

After yoga we headed to Moonstone Cellars for some much deserved wine tasting (yoga is hard!). Moonstone Cellars is located just behind the main street in downtown Cambria. We really enjoyed their wine flight, because they have some really interesting varietals like the Gewurztraminer, which is not typically grow back home in Monterey County. We bought their Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc to bring home. 

After yoga and wine we were hungry so we decided to stop at the Cafe. The Cafe was an impromptu stop but so worth it! We decided to try it out because over the weekend it was consistently the most recommended place to eat. We are no sandwich connoisseurs but this place is GOOD! We had their famous hot pastrami sandwich which came with a side of coleslaw, pickle, and a pickled pepper. The Cafe is seriuosly amazing and completely lived up to the hype!

After enjoying the Cafe we headed to our last stop, Linn's for their famous olallieberry pie. Fresh baked everyday, this pie is truly dreamy. It is served with whipped cream and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We sat in the sunshine as we devoured our slices, reminiscing on the weekend's adventures, it was the perfect ending to our lovely girls weekend in Cambria. 

We also wanted to mention a new company we recently discovered, Brakitty. With all the traveling we do it's great to have a case to hold your bra's and undies without crushing them. Brakitty cases are super cute and really well made (they are water resistant too). We brought them on our trip to test them out and ended up loving them and knew we will be using them on our upcoming trips. Not only do we use them to stash our bras and undies- we also keep our jewelry and other small things that would get lost in our bags. We have the Pastel Supernova and Vintage Florals (on sale right now!). Buy your own Brakitty here!

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There is so much more to explore in this little beach town we can't wait to visit again! Have you visited Cambria? Let us know about your trip!

xxx Ivy & Eve

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AQUIEM: Coffee Brewed Right

We love coffee as much as the next person, and enjoy every sip of our morning cup of joe. For years, we have been using Nespresso coffee and their machines and love the simplicity of getting a great cup with little effort. Nespresso's coffee beans are great quality so when we recently discovered AQUIEM we were interested in testing it out with our machine.

AQUIEM sells boxed water to use when making coffee. Their water is purified specifically to include the minerals that enhance flavor and exclude all the bad stuff - like chlorine, zinc, copper, and acids you find in regular tap water. This water is meant to enhance coffee's taste and aroma. Hmmm... It sounded sort of ridiculous when we first read about it, how different can your coffee taste just by changing what water you use to brew it?! 

After testing AQUIEM though, we changed our minds. We decided to test it with both a drip coffee method and our Nespresso machine to see how different they tasted. We felt like we were back in high school working on our science project!

 Hypothesis: There would be no taste difference.

Method: Follow every instruction given to us by AQUIEM, while also measuring and cleaning everything precisely. Like many science projects our hypothesis was proven wrong.

Conclusion: We did taste a difference, enough to say the coffee tasted better with the AQUIEM water than when brewed with the tap water. The AQUIEM water made the coffee have less of a mineral taste and created a smoother finish.

We would definitely recommend this product to coffee connoisseurs or anyone who enjoys a perfect cup of coffee!

Happy Brewing!

xxx Ivy & Eve

Thank you AQUIEM for providing the products for this post.

Goat Cheese and Yam Wontons

These little bundles of joy are perfect for making with friends and family. They are pretty simple to make, and fun to fill. You can make the filling ahead of time and have everyone pitch in to fill the wonton wrappers. These are a perfect and tasty vegetarian appetizer. We will surely be serving them at our next get together!

xxx Ivy & Eve

Makes around 30 wontons and dipping sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 large yam
  • 2/3 cup goat cheese
  • Wonton wrappers
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (or fresh store bought)
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 heaping tsp honey

Directions

  1. Prick the yam all over with a fork, and microwave on a plate for 7-10 minutes, or until soft. Set aside and let cool a bit. 
  2. In a small bowl, mix the fresh squeezed orange juice (we juiced our own), ginger, and honey in a small bowl. Set aside until ready to serve.
  3. Scoop the cooked yam into a large bowl and discard the skin. Mash the yam until smooth. 
  4. Add the 1/2 of the goat cheese to the bowl, season with salt and pepper, and mix until smooth.
  5. Add the other 1/2 of the goat cheese and mix lightly. You want some goat cheese chunks in the mix.
  6. Fill each square wonton wrapper with 1 tsp of the mix to the center of the wrapper. 
  7. Lightly wet the edges of the wrapper with water (using your finger) and fold diagonally.
  8. Gently squeeze the air out of the pocket and seal the edges. 
  9. Heat about 1 inch of vegetable oil in a pan on the stove.
  10. Once hot, drop 1 filled wonton into the oil. Flip once after about 5 seconds and take the wonton out once the edges of the wrapper begin to brown. Place on a paper towel. The wonton will continue to brown after you take it out of the oil. 
  11. Repeat until all of the wontons are fried. 
  12. Serve on a large plate with the orange ginger honey dipping sauce.
  13. Enjoy!

Cambria Weekend Getaway

A few weeks ago, we took a weekend trip down south to Cambria for a bit of relaxing "sister time" before the holiday festivities began. Cambria is a small beach town located midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. When we decided to head south to Cambria for a quick girls-weekend, we chose to stay at the fun and trendy Cambria Beach Lodge. We teamed up with the Lodge to show all that Cambria has to offer! 

xxx Ivy & Eve

Here is a map the Cambria Beach Lodge provided for even more great suggestions!

Stay:

  • Cambria Beach Lodge Situated right on Moonstone Beach, this newly renovated and trendy hotel is the perfect place to spend a relaxing weekend in Cambria. The lodge is centrally located, making it a quick drive to downtown Cambria or Hearst Castle. The rooms were trendy yet inviting with a great mini bar full of tasty treats and even a set of binoculars for all of your outdoor adventures. Outside each room is a small porch with bright turquoise chairs and there is a large glass surrounded deck on the top floor overlooking Moonstone Beach. We took full advantage of this amenity by toasting our trip with a bottle of bubbly before going off to the Christmas Market and dinner. Each morning, they serve a simple yet tasty continental breakfast which is a real perk for when you want to relax with a cup of coffee and pastry and watch the early morning surfers on Moonstone Beach! The Lodge also has beach cruiser bikes for guests to borrow. We loved cruising the boardwalk across the street! There are many quality beachfront lodges in Cambria, but none quite have the fun and hip vibe that the Cambria Beach Lodge has. We totally recommend it!

Perfect view of the sunset from the viewing deck!

Perfect view of the sunset from the viewing deck!

Moonstone beach access right across the street!

Moonstone beach access right across the street!

Eat:

  • Madeline's Restaurant Located on Main Street, this is the perfect place to go for a romantic dinner date or for just a great glass of wine! We went here per our awesome Uber driver's suggestion. The restaurant's cozy ambiance, great wine list, and delectable menu make this a must try restaurant for everyone!

  • Indigo Moon Located also on Main Street, Indigo Moon is s a great place for lunch or outdoor dinning spot (weather permitting). They have three large outdoor dining areas and a great indoor/outdoor patio. Ivy had a delicious BLTA sandwich with a fresh green salad while Eve had delicious prawn fettuccine with a light white wine sauce and to die for cheesy garlic bread.

  • Sea Chest Oyster Bar and Seafood Restaurant Located right next to the Cambria Beach Lodge, the Sea Chest is known to locals as the best place to eat fresh seafood. The menu serves up everything from Oysters Rockefeller to New England Clam Chowder. Since this place is so popular be sure to get there right when they open to put your name on the waitlist (no reservations). Luckily they have a Wine Bar sitting area that includes a fire pit with a great view of the ocean so you can wait for dinner with a glass of wine.

  • Cambria Pines Lodge This hotel is where the Cambria Christmas Market is located. They have a sit down full service restaurant as well as their Fireside Lounge which is the perfect place for a drink while listening to live music. They have tasty local wine list and a creative cocktail menu.

Ivy's chicken dinner at Madeline's

Ivy's chicken dinner at Madeline's

Eve's sea bass dinner with rice and veggies

Eve's sea bass dinner with rice and veggies

Ice cream and fresh berry crumble

Ice cream and fresh berry crumble

Lunch at Indigo Moon.

Lunch at Indigo Moon.

Play/Shop:

  • Moonstone Beach- The rugged pebbled beach is known for its moonstone pebbles. If you're lucky though you'll find a few pieces of jade as well! This beach and boardwalk is perfect for surfing, hiking/walking, biking, and beach combing.

  • Elephant Seal Vista- A few miles north of Moonstone Beach, this place is perfect for spotting the giant Elephant Seals. They can weigh up to 8,800 pounds and over 20 feet long!

  • Antique malls- These antique emporiums are dotted along Main Street. We especially loved Rich Man Poor Man Antiques. They have well thought out displays and very friendly and helpful staff. Eve left with a pair of beautiful Wedgwood candle sticks.

  • Cambria Christmas Market (Only runs from November 25th-December 25th)- When we initially planned this trip we did not know that Cambria had a Christmas Market. This was the highlight of the trip! We have spent Christmas in Europe before and always loved the European Christmas markets with their little artisan stalls and mulled wine! This particular market is known for its Christmas light displays. They have over ONE MILLION lights on display. We really enjoyed walking through the gardens and vendors, googling at all the Christmas lights. We are already planning a trip back to visit next year!

  • Hearst Castle- William Randolph Hearst's grand estate is a few miles north of Cambria. An architectural and Interior Design marvel, any tourist should visit this spectacular home. Make sure to take the tour that visits the pool room as it is our personal favorite.

  • The Shops at the Garden Shed- We spent several hours perusing the shops in this secret garden shopping center. To visit all of the shops, first you must go though the Cambria Garden Shed shop. This shop is full of beautiful and thoughtful gardening related gifts and tools. Once you hit the back of the shop, it opens up to a small courtyard full of wonderful shops. A few of our favorites were Ocean Heir (great gifts, clothing, and books), Junk Girls (upcycled awesomeness), and GROW Nursery (succulent heaven).

View above Cambria from HWY 46

View above Cambria from HWY 46

Ivy's favorite...succulent shopping at GROW!

Ivy's favorite...succulent shopping at GROW!

Junk Girls

Junk Girls

One of the many antique malls

One of the many antique malls

Mulled wine to keep us warm at the Cambria Christmas Market!

Mulled wine to keep us warm at the Cambria Christmas Market!

Beach boardwalk above Moonstone beach

Beach boardwalk above Moonstone beach

Watching surfers at Moonstone Beach

Watching surfers at Moonstone Beach

Pebbles on moonstone beach

Pebbles on moonstone beach

San Francisco: Union Square and Japantown

San Francisco is the closest large city to our hometown, making it our go-to destination for culture, major shopping, and of course a glass of bubbly (or two). We were recently in the city for a quick overnight trip. We arrived just in time to meet up with a friend for happy hour and dinner. The next day we made a few necessary shopping stops and then we headed to Japantown for a day of culture, shopping, and tasty (and some funky) treats. Here is what we were up to!

xxx Ivy & Eve

Stay: We typically stay around Union Square which is the shopping hub of the city. It is easily accessible from the highway, and from here you just grab a taxi to anywhere in the city.

  • Clift Hotel-  The Clift has a modern glamorous vibe. The lobby is larger than life with whimsical and eclectic furnishings and two hotel bars that go from quiet and casual in the day, to lively and trendy at night. We booked through Expedia and since the Clift is an Expedia VIP+ hotel, we enjoyes a free upgrade to a deluxe city view room, late check out, and two free drinks at the bar! The room was well appointed with comfortable and slightly glamorous furnishings and a nice city view even though our bathroom was a bit tight. This is typical of San Francisco Hotels though- as the buildings tend to be pretty old. Overall a great place to crash after a night out! This was our first time staying at the Clift and we will definitely be staying here again. 
Plenty of cool chairs to pose in!

Plenty of cool chairs to pose in!

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Eat/Drink: These are the places we stopped by on this trip. This is by no means our only recommendations! 

  • Farallon- This is our favorite place to eat and drink in San Francisco, hands down. Located just a block off of Union Square, Farallon is buzzing with locals and tourists alike for their ridiculously fresh coastal cuisine and an incredible happy hour. Our go-to picks are a few plates of 1/2 dozen oysters, charcuterie board, truffled parmesan fries, and a few glasses of sparkling rosé: each $7. We dare you to find a better deal!
  • Brazen Head- We just discovered this hidden gem in the Cow Hollow/Marina district. This restaurant and bar has an old school vibe with dark wood paneling and stained glass windows. The food has a French flair and the drinks are stiff. This is a cozy spot to catch up with friends or hide away from the tourist crowd. 
  • Rambler- Recently opened this spot is part of Hotel Zeppelin near Union Square. We had a wonderful early brunch here. Ivy ordered the cinnamon currant french toast with poached pears and ricotta while Eve noshed on the smoked salmon and fromage blanc toast. We shared a gigantic pot of french press coffee and mimosas. YUM.
  • Nespresso (90 Grant Ave.)- This is technically a store but the Grant Avenue location has a small coffee lounge on the first floor which serves specialty coffee drinks, fresh baked pastries, and you guessed it...bubbly. We head downstairs first to test out the newest coffee blends (free tastings!), buy pods for our machines back home, and then once we has sufficiently caffeinated head upstairs for a pastry and a glass of bubbly. What more could you ask for!
Happy Hour at Farallon...cheers!

Happy Hour at Farallon...cheers!

Brunch at Rambler.

Brunch at Rambler.

Coffee tasting at Nespresso

Coffee tasting at Nespresso

Japantown: After brunch, we headed to Japantown, the oldest and largest of the three "official" Japantowns in the U.S. and is full of quirky shops, tasty treats, and a unique community. The entire district encompasses just 6 blocks which makes it easily manageable to visit in a day. We love going here because everyone always seems SO happy...how could you not be happy when you are full of sushi and mochi!

  • Japan Center Mall and Peace Pagoda- Japantown is centered round a five tiered concrete pagoda gifted to San Francisco by their sister city, Osaka in 1968. On either side of the Peace Pagoda is the Japan Center Mall (East and West). Inside you will find shops, restaurants, and specialty stores. It is a perfect place to spend a rainy day. 
  • Nippon-Ya- Japan Center West. This specialty shop sells a variety of mochi, cookies, tea and gifts. The packaging itself make you want to buy everything in sight. We always buy a few boxes to bring home and share with our family. Bonus: they usually have a box of two at the counter to sample!
  • Chocolate Chair- Located inside the Japan Center West, this shop sells boba tea, made to order nitrogen ice cream, and the infamous Dragons Breath! Dragons Breath is essentially large balls of cereal (tastes a lot like Trix) which they dip in liquid nitrogen. This instantly freezes the cereal and makes them "smoke". When you eat them, the smoke comes out of your mouth and nose making you look like a dragon! While it wasn't the tastiest thing we have had in Japantown, it was super fun to eat. 
  • Kui Shin Bo- Japan Center East. This tiny restaurant is located in Japan Center East. It has a cozy laid back feel and delicious food for a great price. Eve ordered the Takoyaki (savory pancake balls filled with bits of octopus) and shabu shabu (traditional Japanese hot pot with veggies and thin sliced beef). Ivy ordered a Red Dragon Roll and miso soup. We both had a glass of the house wine which was very drinkable and only $4! 
  • Daiso- Japan Center East. Here, you can find everything from sake sets to impossibly cute stationary to false eyelashes. We can spend hours in this shop and the best part is almost everything is $1.50!
Japantown Peace Pagoda

Japantown Peace Pagoda

Mochi dreamland!

Mochi dreamland!

Billions of adorable bento boxes.

Billions of adorable bento boxes.

DRAGONS BREATH at Chocolate Chair!

DRAGONS BREATH at Chocolate Chair!

Tasty traditional Japanese lunch spot!

Tasty traditional Japanese lunch spot!

We love how the Peace Pagoda lights up at night!

We love how the Peace Pagoda lights up at night!

Big Sky Montana, Helena to Great Falls

We love Montana and its endless big sky. Our Dad was born and raised in Great Falls and every year we visit our Grandpa who still lives there, and unwind in our family cabin in Wolf Creek. For the past several years we have been spending Thanksgiving at the cabin, and although this holiday we could not make the trip all together, Ivy and our Dad went for a long weekend trip.  Ivy visited Great Falls and Helena (Montana's Capitol) but she spent most of her time at our cabin hiking with our dad and enjoying some time off. Lucky Her!

Big Sky coffee in the morning frost.

Big Sky coffee in the morning frost.

Dad hiking & hunting 

Dad hiking & hunting 

Here are some of our recommendations for things to do and places to eat & drink.

xxx Ivy & Eve

Bites & Sips:

The Sip 'n Dip Lounge Great Falls, MT. This place is a serious MUST see. It's inside the O'Haire Motor Inn, walk right in and head up the stairs to the Lounge. It's essentially a Tiki Lounge with ocean themed decor and the focal point being a huge glass 'Mermaid' tank behind the bar with real mermaids swimming around! Be sure to check out the schedule so you are there when they are swimming behind the glass. They also have a killer $2 well drink/domestic beer happy hour Monday-Friday 6-7pm and again from 10pm -12am.  We recommend trying their fishbowl (with some friends) and their signature blue mimosa!

Photo from http://ohairemotorinn.com/sip-n-dip/

Photo from http://ohairemotorinn.com/sip-n-dip/

$$ The Celtic Cowboy Great Falls, MT. Ivy stumbled upon this place when looking for places to eat in Great Falls. This place definitely has an Irish pub atmosphere including their menu and decor. They have everything from fish and chips to bangers and mash to fill your Irish heart (and stomach) with joy. We tried the Irish nachos that include house made potato chips topped with an assortment of goodies on top including dubliner cheese and corned beef. It was tasty but we warn you the portions are HUGE! 

$$$ The Hawthorn Helena, MT. We wish they had a sister store here in CA because this place was amazing! The Hawthorn is a wine bottle shop and tasting room. Wine bottles with individually hand written tags line the shelves on either side of the entrance. A long wooden bar made from reclaimed pine bark beetle wood (the pine bark beetle leaves a blue ting to the wood) welcomes you.  They have an extensive wine list and wine on tap! You can even fill growlers of wine for the road as well. Our favorite item on the menu this trip was the chardonnay slushie. This is the perfect place to meet friends!  Grab a drink and meat and cheese platter for an afternoon snack or a drink before dinner. 

$$ The Parrot Confectionery Helena, MT.  Although this place is locally known for their chocolate shop don't overlook the diner! The Parrot has been open in downtown Helena since 1922, and makes 130 different types of candies. We have been going here for as long as we can remember and ALWAYS order the same thing. A small bowl of chili. We wouldn't say its the best chili in the world but it always tastes the same, and always tastes good. (Try it with a side of vinegar and Saltine crackers.) Also on the menu is a large selection of flavored sodas, milkshakes, malted milkshakes, and phosphates (a tart twist to a regular soda). Ivy always orders a huckleberry milkshake, Eve usually tries something different each time but the malted milkshakes are her favorites. After a bowl of chili you can't pass up the sweets!

$$$ Izaaks Restaurant Craig, MT. Craig is one of the most popular fly-fishing areas in Montana - located in the middle of nowhere - between Great Falls and Helena. The town sits on the banks of the Missouri river. Izaaks Restaurant was born out of a need to feed the hungry anglers after a long day on the river. If you're in the area we highly recommend this place - great steaks! Bad news for anyone visiting in the fall-winter they are only open during the fishing season (around April-September). 

Photo from http://www.izaaks.com/

Photo from http://www.izaaks.com/

Play:

$ C.M. Russell Museum Great Falls, MT. If you are a fan of western art and history this museum is for you. A treasure trove of C.M. Russell's art and life, the museum also features other Western artists. The museum includes C.M. Russell's original artist's studio and cabin.

 Free Giant Springs State Park Great Falls, MT. This park set on the scenic Missouri River is steeped in history. Recorded as the largest freshwater spring in the country by Lewis and Clark in 1805, it is the perfect place to picnic, walk along the trails, feed fish in the hatchery, or visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. There is plenty to do for adults and children.

Free Gates of the Mountains Helena, MT. If you like hiking, this is the place for you! A wilderness area made up of 28,000+ acres and 53 miles of trails. 

Free-$ Holter Lake Helena, MT.  Holter lake is located in the Gates of the Mountains. The lake offers swimming, boating, and camping. Try a Ferry Tour which runs from May-September. Adults are $16 and children $10. Book a tour here!

$$ Spokane Bar Sapphire Mine & Gold Fever Rock Shop Helena, MT. This mining shop is really fun to visit. You can buy a bag of sapphire gravel at the store and sift through it outside looking for a variety of stones including diamonds, rubies, and of course sapphires.  

Icebox Pumpkin Pie

As much as we love autumn, for us Californians, the weather that goes along with it really doesn't begin until pretty late in the season. The Central Coast still enjoys weekends by the pool and the warm sunshine until late October. We wanted to make a pumpkin pie two weekends ago but it was so hot out that we didn't want to turn the oven on! We loved our Magically Delicious Pie so much that we decided to make a pumpkin version. We chose to use Cinnamon Toast Crunch for the base which works wonderfully with the pumpkin filling. We like to serve ours pretty frozen, but if you want more of a soft and fluffy texture, just take the pie out a little longer than we suggest.

We are sure this recipe is soon to be a new favorite!

xxx Ivy & Eve

 

Makes one pie with 12 small slices.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Cinnamon Toast Crunch

  • 8 tablespoons melted butter

  • 2 cups heavy cream

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

  • One 7 oz. jar of marshmallow fluff (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened

  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin

  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

  2. Melt the butter in a small bowl.

  3. Add 6 cups of the cereal to the food processor. Pulse until you get fine crumbs. Pour in the melted butter and pulse until all the crumbs are moistened.

  4. Pour the crumbs into a 9 inch pie pan and press mixture on the bottom and around the sides to form the pie crust.

  5. Place the crust in the oven and bake for 5-7 minutes until it is slightly golden. Then place the crust in the freezer to cool while you prepare the filling.

  6.  Whip the heavy cream in a mixer until you can starts to thicken and then add powdered sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form. Place the whipped cream in the refrigerator while you make the other mixture.

  7. Beat the softened cream cheese and marshmallow fluff with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the pumpkin and pumpkin spice then mix until incorporated. Fold in the whipped cream. 

  8. Pour the mix into the chilled pie crust and smooth with a spatula.

  9. Lightly crush 1/2 cup of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in a ziplock baggie and sprinkle on the edges of the pie filling.

  10.  Freeze for at least 3 hours. When it is time to serve, take it out of the freezer and slightly let soften for 10 minutes.

  11. Slice and serve! 

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Pumpkin Palooza at Trader Joe's

Pumpkin season is in full swing and nobody does it better than Trader Joe's. They have a whole section including over 60 different items made with pumpkin. They call this area "Pumpkin Palooza"! We decided to go to our local Trader Joe's market and try out as many pumpkin goodies as we could. Here's only a fraction of what they carry. Hurry to your local store to test them out yourself!

xxx Ivy & Eve

Not technically pumpkin but SO delicious!

Not technically pumpkin but SO delicious!

Exploring Manchester, England

For the last leg of our England trip we called Sale home. Sale is a little canal-side town in Greater Manchester. Since we were stationed at P-mans comfortable abode, most mornings we ate in at P-mans house. We munched on Marks & Spencers crumpets, yogurts, scones (with clotted cream and jam of course) and a big cup of tea. After breakfast, we would head to the center of Manchester to do shopping, sight seeing, and more eating. The metro from Sale to Manchester is only about 15 minutes long, and its extremely easy to navigate. 

Manchester is one of the biggest metropolitan cities in England, nicknamed "Cottonopolis" for its involvement in the cotton trade in the 19th century. Now Manchester is a city filled with tons of shops, restaurants, bars, and a plethora of cultural institutions. Over our week stay we discovered a lot about this city such as its unabashed obsession with tapas bars and so much more!!

This post will dive into all of Manchester, and Greater Manchester's secret gems. We are excited to share them with you!

xxx Ivy & Eve

Eat:

Sugar Junction-$$ This place has a charming atmosphere and a yummy cream tea! We stumbled upon this place and Ivy couldn't resist stopping when she saw "Cream Tea" listed on the menu outside. They had a great selection of lunch items and tasty cocktails we sipped on happily. They have a cocktail and cake deal which is to die for!

Moose Coffee- $ This place reminded us of an American-style diner with a hipster feel. Their coffees are to die for and you can buy beans to brew up at home! Ivy had great fresh mint tea, and ordered a tasty cheesy hash brown with eggs on top.  Eve had their tasty Moose Macchiato, milky coffee with an extra double-shot of espresso, caramel syrup, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream. For Eve's meal, Eve ordered the double Dutch, a giant platter of pancakes with bacon and hotdogs inside (actually pretty tasty) topped with fried eggs and loaded with butter and maple syrup!

Lunya Catalonia Deli- Restaurant & Bar inside the Barton Arcade- $$ This is one of the many tapas bars in Manchester. We think it is one of the best! Upstairs is the main restaurant space, while downstairs has a more casual bar and a deli/market where you can buy tons of Spanish delicacies to enjoy at home! We ordered a delicious cheese and meat plate with a side of olives and three different olive oils to dip our bread in. We sipped on some crisp rosé from Catalonia, which was lovely! 

Pot Kettle Black- $ Also inside the Barton Arcade, this coffee shop is the perfect place to grab a quick bite and recharge before heading out on the town once more.

Bakchich- $ This is a Lebanese street food restaurant. It was in the University district, and the portions were huge- to satisfy the starving & poor students. We liked it for casual dining as it had lots of flavor and a lively interior decor which helped lift our spirits on the cold and rainy day.

Zizzi- $ We love this place so much! It's another budget friendly restaurant we visited, mainly because it is a chain restaurant. Eve and P-man used to go to Zizzi's all the time in grad school and it became a comforting favorite. We always order a Zizzi Anitpasti, Primavera Rustica Pizza, and wash it down with a bottle of the Montepulciano Abruzzo wine. Perfecto!

Cottonopolis- $$$ This is an über hip restaurant bar in the trendy North Quarter of Manchester. They serve up Asian Fusion food, tapas style and a creative cocktail menu that will make you want to order one of each! 

Amphora Cafe in Sale- $ This little cafe has the most delicious breakfast for next to nothing! We all had coffee or tea, and a breakfast entree for under 15 pounds! The star of the meal was the Amphora breakfast which consists of eggs baked in tomato sauce, béchamel, and parmesan baked in a little lidded pot. They served it with yummy fresh baked seeded bread. It was to die for!

Drink:

Wash House- $$$ MUST GO! If there is one place you cannot miss its Wash House. This place is super cool and has out of this world cocktails. Ivy is super picky with mixed drinks...if she tastes basically any hard alcohol she spits it out. But the bartender & owner helped her pick two drinks; the Glazed and Confused with strawberry liquor and balsamic glaze complete with a lolly pop included & the Bevis' Cherry Pop Daiquiri with spiced rum, sour cherry syrup and pop rocks! Ivy ended up loving both of these drinks. P-man ordered a Top Shelf Sour and Melville's Corpse, two very strong, grow-hair-on-your-chest, yet tasty drinks. Eve's first drink was Fear & Loathing which was a frozen blended mango drink with a touch of coriander and jalapeño for a bit of heat. Her second choice was Let Them Eat Cake, a creamy gin based cocktail served with a mini battenburg cake slice! The atmosphere and decor is perfect and moody, with a DJ turning out hip beats that you were able to enjoy as well as hear your own conversations. We wont tell you too much because it is a 'Secret Bar'. We will say its definitely worth wandering around a few minutes to locate. Remember though, its reservation only! You can either call ahead or direct message them on Instagram which is what we did. 

Cork of The North in Sale- $$ Cork of The North was one of our favorite places. We ended up going three times while we were in Sale! The friendly staff, the amazing and large wine selection, along with the fun and casual atmosphere kept us coming back for more. They also had a great cheese plate. Its a perfect place to buy a bottle with friends and relax. 

The Kings Ransom in Sale- $ This is a classic pub but has a great view of the canal beside it and a patio to sit at when there is a break in the rain. 

Trof- $ This bourbon bar serves up a mean happy hour every day from 4-8pm. You can get 2 cocktails for 10 pounds and lets just say, we had several...

Play:

Walkden Gardens in Sale- FREE This garden is beautiful and has all kinds of flora. As you walk from garden to garden you feel as though you are entering new worlds. Our favorite garden was the traditional Japanese garden.

Brewery tour at Robinsons Brewery in Stockport- $$ We have been to quite a few brewery tours in the states and we definitely think this one is worth a visit. The facility has recently upgraded most of their machinery but left the original equipment on site so you can compare the old next to the fancy new ones. The tour was about an hour long and ended in the brewery pub, where you can sample their beers. They also have two Shire horses on site which Eve became friends with. 

The Spa at the Midland- $$$ Book during the week for spa deals. They have amazing hanging pods in their relaxation room. Escape the busy city above and spend a morning here instead! 

Manchester Museum- FREE This is a wonderful natural history museum. It has exhibits of local flora and fauna all the way to exhibits on the ice age. The museum is very diverse so there is an exhibit for everyone to enjoy. We loved wandering the galleries on a cold and rainy afternoon. 

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Manchester Cathedral- FREE This church has some of the most intricate wood carvings we have ever seen. The church itself is pretty small for a cathedral but it is a beautiful place to reflect in tranquility among the bustle of downtown Manchester.

John Rylands Library- FREE This library feels like you have stepped into the library at Hogwarts! Built in 1900, this library holds the University of Manchester's special collections. They have wonderful temporary exhibitions and the carved sandstone gargoyles throughout the building are amazing. Each of them are completely unique! The entry has a little cafe and a great gift shop with bookish gifts for everyone. 

Overall, Manchester is a wonderful city with something for everyone. There is so much more we couldn't fit into this post so we suggest you go and explore for yourself! 

xxx Ivy & Eve

Magically Delicious Pie

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As children, we spent part of our summer vacations on Lake Erie in Ohio visiting our Grandma C and many aunts uncles and cousins. Those weeks were the highlight of summer, spending the hot and humid days swimming in the lake, walking down the street to buy candy at the corner shop, and convincing the adults to drive us to our favorite drive-in restaurant, White Turkey, AT LEAST once a day. Another perk of being at Grandma's was that she always had sugary sweet cereals and treats in her house during our visits. All the cousins would come down stairs each morning and pour a bowl of their favorite cereal and plan the adventures to be had that day. Our personal favorite was a big bowl of Lucky Charms (We affectionately called them Monkey Germs lol). This pie is a frozen take on our beloved cereal. This recipe transports us back to Grandmas house by the lake. We can almost feel the warm breeze drifting off the lakeshore and hear the distant rumble of a coming thunderstorm. 

xxx Ivy & Eve

Adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian.

Makes one pie with 12 small slices.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Lucky Charms Cereal

  • 8 tablespoons melted butter

  • One 7 oz. jar of marshmallow fluff (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened

  • 2 cups heavy cream

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

  2. Separate the cereal and the marshmallows into two separate bowls.

  3. Melt the butter in a small bowl.

  4. Add 4 cups of the cereal to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until your mixture is crumbs. Pour in the melted butter and pulse until all the crumbs are moistened.

  5. Pour the crumbs into a 9 inch pie pan and press mixture on the bottom and around the sides to form the pie crust.

  6. Place the crust in the oven and bake for 5-7 minutes until it is slightly golden. Then place the crust in the freezer to cool while you prepare the filling.

  7.  Whip the heavy cream with a mixer until you can starts to thicken and then add powdered sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form. Place the whipped cream in the refrigerator while you make the other mixture.

  8. Beat the cream cheese and marshmallow fluff with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Fold in 1/2 of the whipped cream and a 1/2 cup of the Lucky Charms marshmallows. Pour the mix into the chilled pie crust and smooth with a spatula. Pour remaining whipped cream over top and sprinkle the remaining marshmallows around the edge of the pie. Freeze for at least 3 hours. When it is time to serve, take it out of the freezer and let soften for 10 minutes.

  9. Slice and serve! 

Lovely London: Part 1

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As we sped away from Paris on the Eurostar, through the countryside of France we sipped our last bottle of rosé and nibbled on french bread and cheeses. The train ride to London from Paris is very quick and easy. We definitely prefer it over the hassle of flying and dealing with Heathrow Airport. Once we arrived in London, we had a quick bite of dinner and visited with friends before heading to bed. 

In the morning, we woke up and headed to one of our favorite chain restaurants in the UK, Bill's. This place has a nice rustic feel to it with enamel tea pots that are ever so lightly worn in, antique looking ceiling tiles and candelabra center pieces in the evening. Ivy, not being able to wait another moment before having a cream tea (a pot of tea with scones, jam, and clotted cream) ordered the Queen's Cream Tea Birthday Special. Eve and our friend A (who we were staying with) ordered poached eggs on avocado on toast and berry banana pancakes. Yum!

After breakfast, A left to do some PhD research (she's such a smart cookie) and we headed off to Oxford Street for a bit of shopping. Our guilty shopping pleasures in the UK are Primark, (The Forever 21 of England), Accessorize (an accessories shop) and New Look (clothing shop). We ended up picking out some killer Harry Potter PJ's at Primark and some cute fluffy purse charms at Accessorize. The summer sales were going on and it was hard not to buy up half of every store!

Once we had wondered all the shops on Oxford Street, we were starving so we headed to the Borough Market right across the street from our friends apartment. This market is AMAZING! It is full of fresh produce, local cheeses, craft ciders and beers, oyster bars, meat shops and more. We could definitely live happily ever after if we only ate here for the rest of our lives! We gobbled up tasty prosciutto sandwiches and a few glasses of sparkling rosé. Later Eve tried a fresh pressed green juice from one of the vendors as well. Seriously yum!

After lunch we went back to the apartment to take a nap and rest our feet. Once A returned from her work we met up with A's boyfriend D and had dinner by the river Thames. We walked past the tower of London and the Tower bridge. We stopped for dinner at a tapas bar and watched the sun set over the river. Once we finished dinner we all went out for a drink at a local pub where Eve and A sipped sparkling wine and Ivy drank her favorite cider, Rekorderlig

The next day we started with brunch at Spitalfields Market. This is near where Eve lived a few summers ago for a summer university course. We ended up going to breakfast at Blixen. We ordered scrambled eggs with mushrooms and truffle ragu, a double rosti with spinach poached eggs and parmesan cheese, and side of truffle popcorn all washed down with bubbly, naturally. :)

Afterwords, we took the tube to the Regent Street, where we ran, not walked to Fortnum & Maison. This shop is one of the most beautiful stores in London and filled with tins of cookies, jars of jam, picnic baskets, a huge selection of wines, and more. We wondered in awe for some time dreaming of one day filling our home with all its treasures, then we ran downstairs for the ultimate summer treat. Champagne Popsicles! Their packaging is so pretty we almost didn't want to open them, but lets be realistic, we never waste champagne! 

We bought the pops and headed off to sit in Green Park down the street and enjoy the summer sun. 

Once we had sunned and enjoyed our champagne pops we headed back towards the apartment and walk along the river. By the time we got back though (15 minutes later) it was pouring rain so we were forced to dry off in the apartment till A returned from the library. Once she got back, we walked to Borough Market to try out one of the oyster bars we had spotted earlier. Richard Haward's Oysters had a great deal of 4 oysters and a glass of prosecco for only 10 pounds!

After the oysters, we got changed and met up with a group of friends at a small wine bar called Champagne+Fromage (the name says it all) before heading to Roka Aldwych for a fabulous dinner celebrating our fellow American friend R's masters graduation.

After dinner, we all headed home to rest up for the next day and all the magic to come (hint hint!). Stay tuned!

xxx Ivy & Eve

Watermelon Lime Basil Popsicles

Midsummer in the Valley brings high temps and if you're lucky, long days spent by the pool. This past weekend was no exception, and we decided to concoct a popsicle recipe for something tasty and refreshing. Watermelon was our choice for the base, light, refreshing, and crisp. We then picked a lime to add some zing, ending with a little basil. Summer fruits are naturally sweet so we didn't use any added sugar making them surprisingly healthy. We used our Zoku Quick Pop Maker which freezes popsicles in as little as 15 minutes! We ended up eating the whole batch before we even thought about cleaning up! We think these little pops turned out perfectly. They are refreshing and ready for a poolside staycation!

xxx Ivy & Eve

 

Makes 6 Zoku quick pops or 6 regular popsicles.

Ingredients:

  • Diced fresh seedless watermelon
  • 1 Lime (juice)
  • 2-3 Basil leaves

Directions:

  1. Dice watermelon into cubes, place in blender. Blend till you make around 2 cups liquid. 
  2. Squeeze 1 lime into watermelon slurry. blend for 30 seconds.
  3. Place 2-3 leaves of basil in blender. (amount depends on preference). Blend till pieces are small but not tiny. (size is also up to preference).
  4. Pour mixture into popsicle molds. We use the Zoku Quick Pop Maker.
  5. If you use the Zoku Quick Pop Maker let freeze according to directions, making 2 batches for a total of 6 pops. 
  6. If you use a regular popsicle mold, place in freezer for a few hours until frozen. 
  7. Serve or Store!

Nectarine and Burrata Salad

Our hometown has amazing farmers markets year round. We try to shop them as often as possible, buying the seasons freshest produce and supporting the small local farmers. This time of year, we see the juicy nectarines and other stone fruits we love in the summertime. Nectarine and burrata salad is one of our favorite summer dishes. You can use white or yellow nectarines, or some of each which is what we like to do! It is great to serve as an appetizer or along side something light like grilled chicken. To make this dish more substantial, you can serve it on a bed of arugula and serve it with fresh baguette. 

xxx Ivy & Eve

Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main.

Ingredients: 

3 large nectarines halved (4 if small), pitted, and sliced into 1/2 inch slices

One burrata cheese ball (we got ours at Whole Foods)

Olive oil for drizzling

1 table spoon of tarragon leaves, stems removed, and roughly chopped

Flaky sea salt

Pepper

Arugula (optional)

Fresh sliced baguette (optional)

Directions:

  1. If using arugula, arrange it on a large platter.
  2. Add the nectarine slices neatly - slightly overlapping the slices in the middle of the platter (or on the arugula)
  3. Slice the burrata in half and then tear the cheese into smaller pieces (it will be messy and gooey) onto the slices of nectarines. YUM!
  4. Sprinkle the tarragon leaves on the top.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Drizzle with olive oil. 
  7. Serve with sliced baguette. (optional)
  8. Enjoy!

Parisian Adventure: Part 3

Catacombs of Paris

On the third day we slept in a bit and then headed to our local bakery to pick out some pastries. Secco is located at 54 Rue de Sévres and had pretty tarts and yummy pain au chocolat. We had such a hard time choosing what we wanted!

Ivy's breakfast espresso and berry tart...yummy!

Ivy's breakfast espresso and berry tart...yummy!

After breakfast, we got dressed and headed to the Catacombs for a day of spook! We had visited the Catacombs on our first ever trip to Paris but P-man had never visited so we decided to have another go. Since we did not plan ahead, we ended up sitting in line for 3+ hours!!!! We highly recommend BOOKING AHEAD. On our first visit with our family, we booked ahead and had NO wait time which left us more time to enjoy other places in Paris. Waiting in line that long was a real  bummer, but we think it was worth it. There is a small park that the line forms around and the line is great for people watching so all in all, it wasn't so bad.

Once we got into the Catacombs we were so glad we had waited in line. The tunnels below the city were originally made by the Romans quarrying stone for roads and buildings. In the 1700's The Cemetery of the Innocents in Les Halles became too full and was a source of disease for the surrounding neighborhood. In 1786, the city decided to transfer the bones from the cemetery to the abandoned tunnels. Nightly, the priests would cart bones from the city's cemeteries covered with a heavy black cloth and place them in these tunnels. The city continued to place bones in the Catacombs until 1814. When the bones were placed in the tunnels, they were piled up on either side of the tunnel, leaving a path in the center to walk. You can find designs made in the piles such as hearts made of skulls, crosses, and other interesting and certainly spooky patterns.