Travelling in Napa Valley & Muir Woods

This is officially the last post of my travel series about my fiance and I’s trip to California this past summer! (which means, yes, I best get into the kitchen soon and create some new recipes)…and I will…I promise…after my wedding in November, of course :)

Okay, now back to travel memory fun! After Yosemite National Park my fiance and I made an unplanned trip to Oakland to see the Blue Jays play. It was actually far more amazing than I expected. Let’s be honest, I agreed to do it because I knew that my fiance really wanted to, not because I necessarily cared about going. Well let me tell you, I was so wrong. It was the best baseball game that I’ve ever been to. Baseball games are wayyyy cheaper in the USA so we got amazing seats. I don’t think that I’ve ever paid so much attention during a game before!


After the game we made our way to Napa Valley for the night. Surprisingly my favourite thing about Napa wasn’t the wine, but our amazing accommodations. Yes, it was another place, and it was a 31-foot airstream!!! Ever since the one night that we stayed there I have been fantasizing about owning some type of tiny accommodation that I can live or travel in. A woman can dream, right?


Inside was everything that we needed: a bed, fully functioning 3 piece washroom (un-pictured), mini kitchenette, table and chairs and a couch and coffee table!

inside airstream

Regardless of my love for this airstream, Napa was also quite lovely. It was quaint and charming and perfect for an after dinner stroll.


This next picture is by far my favourite picture of all time!!!

IMG_6952 copy

I cannot look at this picture without bursting into a fit of laughter. I think I severely embarrassed my fiance when I burst into hysterical laughter in the middle of the street and would not stop talking about how silly this art piece was for hours. Who am I kidding, I’m still giggling about it, but I digress…

The best activity we did in Napa…actually, in all of California, was visit the spa at Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Spring Resort. We each had a legitimate mud bath!!! It was the neatest experience that I’ve ever had. Obviously there are no pictures, since there was lots of nakedness going on around on the spa, but the mud bath was actually a gigantic bath full of mud, real mud!!! Smelly, warm, nourishing mud :) The mud bath was followed by a lavender bath, followed by a steam room, followed by a body wrap. The entire time you are given individual attention and your glass of citrus water is never empty. If I was royalty, I would want this every single day. By far the most relaxing thing that I’ve ever done…however, if you’re not someone who’s comfortable being naked in front of strangers, this probably won’t be as relaxing for you, just an fyi.

After our morning at the spa we made our way to Castello di Amorosa, a castle winery!!! How can something with a driveway like this not be fantastic?



It was beautiful and their wine was delicious (we brought 2 bottles home with us, yum!). With the admission fee you get 5 samples of wine. Now, because we had just done a super detoxing spa treatment and because I finished not only my own samples, but my fiances too…I was a little tipsy by the end. But what better place to be tipsy than at a castle winery in Napa!!!




After the winery we headed over to the Muir Woods. The Muir Woods were beautiful and very peaceful (if you block out the random screams of excitement by passing children), however, I have to admit…after seeing the sequoia’s in Yosemite, the Muir Woods just could not compete. Not only were the trees not near as grand, but the entire forest felt much more manicured…probably because it was. I suppose it’s a perfect example of the difference between seeing nature that’s been dug into to make it easier for tourists to see and nature that you only find once you’re off the beaten path. But then again, that’s just my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt :)

muir woods


And that’s a wrap folks. Next up I’ll be reviewing a tea company that I’ve recently discovered and that has tea that is extraordinarily yummy!

xoxo Erin


Travelling in Yosemite National Park

So far I’ve covered our time that we spent in San Francisco and Monterey, Carmel by the Sea and Big Sur. From Big Sur we headed on over to Yosemite National Park. We stayed in another Airbnb and had the most handsome of hosts…meet Riley:

RileyOur actual accommodation was in Oakhurst, which was about a 20 minute drive from a gate to the park…and another hour from the main things that we wanted to see. Our first day we went on a hike to the top of Vernal Falls. It was hot in the sun but thankfully half of the trail was covered with shade from trees. Regardless, I was a sweaty mess within the first 20…errrr…10 minutes.


Hike; siftstirandsavour.comFor the first half of the hike we couldn’t actually really see the falls. When we could finally see the falls we were delighted by the refreshing mist that gently sprayed off of it.


VernalFalls; siftstirandsavour.comAnd getting to the top of the falls was definitely worth the sweaty hike. We found a nice rock in the shade and gulped down water and ate the snack bars we had packed with us. We could have continued the trail further to see another waterfall, however we wanted to make it to glacier point that same day so after we rested up we hiked back down…which was surprisingly challenging. I hadn’t realized how unnerving steep and slippery stairs would be on the way down.

topoffalls; siftstirandsavour.comAfter the hike we made our way to glacier point, right before a storm rolled in.

glacier point;

I really liked glacier point. It was surreal to peer over at half dome and really see how massive and steep it is. I had looked into the hike up half dome, which includes an insanely steep mountaineering component, out of sheer curiosity. Props to anyone who has completed it. Just thinking about it makes me want to fall over.

Our second day in Yosemite we had wanted to go rafting but because of the drought the rafting season ended early and we weren’t able to do this. Instead we went to Yosemite Falls.

yosemitefalls; siftstirandsavour.comThere is something about the mist from a waterfall that is beyond refreshing. After getting as close as we felt that we safely could, we retreated to a rocky area near the base of the falls and dipped our toes in the chilly water.


After Yosemite Falls we stumbled across El Capitan.

elcapitan; siftstirandsavour.comAnd of course we stopped at a beautiful lookout point that looked over Yosemite valley. Actually, maybe we stopped at this lookout point our first day because it looks like a storm was about to roll in. Anyways, El Capitan is on the left hand side in the middle and if you look very closely you can see Half Dome on the right hand side in the far back, peeking through all of the fog.


Mariposa Grove was closed for restoration while we were there so we decided to go to another grove to see the sequoia trees. We used google map directions and literally drove for one to two hours on horrific dirt roads, driving through puddles the size of miniature lakes just to stumble across another lovely couple who was also using google map directions and realized before we did that they lead to nothing. Thankfully they told us the correct directions and that we had to look for “shadow of the giants” instead of Nelder Grove. We finally found the sequoias and laughed at ourselves all night after we realized that we didn’t have to take the sketchy road that we did, lesson learned! The Sequoias were definitely worth the adventure we went on to find them though. Apparently they are the largest living thing known in this world, how insane is that?

shadowofthegiants; siftstirandsavour.comThe pictures don’t do the sequoias justice, but believe me when I say that they were massive beyond belief.

giants; siftstirandsavour.comThe best part about staying in an airbnb was that after a long day of driving, hiking and sight seeing, we had a beautiful and comfortable home to relax in for the night. Our host was absolutely lovely and we had a camp fire one night with her while we all sipped away on some delicious wine.


And that, my friends, is a quick summary of our adventures in Yosemite National Park. From there we headed over to Oakland, Napa and the Muir Woods to wrap up our week in California. Stay tuned for those adventures!



Travelling in Monterey, Carmel by the Sea & Big Sur

After our day and a half in San Francisco we picked up a rental car and drove down to San Jose to see the Winchester Mystery House. It was really cool to see but unfortunately there are no photos allowed inside the house so you’ll just have to trust me about the absolutely bizarre architecture…windows that open to walls, a door that leads to a two story drop and super shallow stairs that go on for years just to go up one story.


From San Jose we continued down to Monterey where we stayed in another lovely airbnb. We drove along the 17 mile drive and absolutely loved it. The pictures definitely do not do it justice, it was surreal with beauty.


The lone cyprus tree was my favourite part of the drive.


This is a panorama view (thank you iPhone) of one of the stops along the 17 mile drive.


That evening we headed out to Carmel by the Sea. It was quaint and reminded me of Niagara-on-the-Lake. There was this sinful candy/chocolate shop that sold different flavours of turtles that were almost as big as your hand. Obviously we had to get one and opted for macadamia nut! I wish I bought 100 of them, but I didn’t so I’ll have to figure out how to recreate them :)


The next day we dropped by Point Lobos State Park before we headed down to Big Sur.



The drive down to Big Sur was breath taking. We stopped at various points along the drive just to stare at the beauty. One of those stops was obviously the well known Bixby Bridge.


bixbyview; siftstirandsavour

And here’s my fiance enjoying the view somewhere along the drive from Point Lobos to Big Sur.


Once in Big Sur we found pfeiffer beach and spent time enjoying the sun and chilly ocean.



My fiance was even brave enough to jump into the crashing waves.

beachswim; siftstirandsavour.comI, on the other hand, opted to only wet below the knees. Seeing that we didn’t have towels, I still stand by my decision :)


And that basically sums up our two days in Monterey, Carmel by the Sea & Big Sur. Next we drove over to Yosemite National Park, although we technically stayed in an airbnb in Oakhurst and drove into the park each day. Stay tuned for those stories & pictures!



Travelling in San Francisco

I just realized something that I should have realized two years ago…I never finished writing my travel posts about my epic trip to Iceland & Europe, which was two years ago. I knew that I had a problem with procrastination, but wow- I didn’t realize I’d hit the two year mark. I still plan on getting those done, but I’m not about to make any promises to myself about the timeline. And when I do finally get to them, I’ll probably be posting them somewhere else…which brings me to another update. A while ago I decided that I wanted to have more control over the format of my blog and ads and what not so I decided to start a self-hosted site (and because technology and I aren’t bff’s, I decided to start a new website instead of figuring out how to carry all this stuff over). Now don’t get too excited, since I’m really good at procrastinating all I’ve done with it so far is figure out some basic coding and carry over some of my favourite posts from this site. I’ll do a formal “reveal” once I’ve got some more content on it but it most definitely will not be ready until the beginning of 2016. All of my creative energy in the first half of 2015 went towards my brother and new sister-in-laws wedding and now that they’re off and hitched, all that energy is dedicated to my own wedding this November :)

Okay, now onto the purpose of this post! I needed a vacation and I needed one badly. My fiance and I hadn’t been away since our trip two years ago, and as epic as it was I needed a vacation before our honeymoon in November. So, we kept our eyes on flight deals and when we came across a nicely priced flight to San Francisco we looked at each other and said “let’s do it!”. And off we went…**warning, this is going to be a long and photo heavy post…proceed with caution ;)

We stayed in an amazing airbnb. I cannot recommend enough. We always stay in them and have always had an excellent time. It’s so great to save money and get more space and amenities than hotels have to offer. Our San Fran airbnb was very close to all the things that we wanted to see and do, which was amazing and we definitely got our exercise with all those hills.


We had the perfect host in San Fran…meet Pacu


I was most excited about visiting Alcatraz in San Francisco…so excited that I bought our tickets the day after we bought our flights. To say that visiting Alcatraz was on my bucket list is the underestimation of the year. Anyways, Alcatraz did not disappoint. The audio tour was done exceptionally well and it was absolutely beautiful in a historical and dark way.

boat to alcatraz;

alcatraz stairs;

This is one of the three holes that inmates dug out with spoons (I think…) to escape…

escape alcatraz; siftstirandsavour.comOne of the last surviving men who served time at Alcatraz was there. He has written a book about his experience and was signing copies. Obviously I had to buy a book, get it signed AND ask for a photo. I’m in the middle of the book right now and loving it.


After Alcatraz we saw Pier 39. Unfortunately all the sea lions were off mating and usually don’t return until August. Although I would have loved to see the pier filled with those cuties, it was fairly amusing to see it this empty.

pier 39;

Next on our list was Golden Gate Bridge. We completely underestimated how close it was so after a while of walking we came across Ghieradelli Square and decided to have a nutrition packed lunch of massive sundae’s. That was sarcasm, in case you missed it. These things were diabetes in a plastic cup.

ice cream;

I, not surprisingly, didn’t feel too great after demolishing that sucker (dairy, sugar and I still aren’t friends). So we kept trucking on toward the Golden Gate Bridge and ended up renting bikes to speed us along. We biked across the bridge and back, which was a lot of fun! Nothing like a good bike ride to cure some nausea.

bike ride;

gold gate;

Next we were off to find Lombard St.


Did I mention that we did all of this in one day? As you can imagine, we were exhausted after all of this. We decided to treat ourselves and we had a fantastic dinner on Forbes Island, which is a man made island that floats in Pier 39. This was actually super neat and totally one of the highlights of our trip. They even pick you up in a small boat to bring you to the island!


forbes at night;

The island was used by the creator as a bachelor pad for a long time and then sold and brought to pier 39 and turned into a restaurant. They tried to keep a lot of the original decor though and to get to the bathroom you had to go through the old bedroom! I could feel the sway of the man-made island when were on it but my fiance was not sensitive to the movement at all and thought that I was crazy!Forbes Island; siftstirandsavour.comAfter dinner we were able to go to the top of the lighthouse on the island. It was so beautiful to look over the bay at night, but our pictures didn’t do it justice.

I was going to try to make just one post about our trip since our trip was only a week long…however, since the post is already super long and this is just a day and a half of adventures I’m going to break it up…and try really hard to actually post more before two years passes by :)

Next up will be about our days in Monterey, Carmel by the Sea and Big Sur…



Crazy for Carrots…in Cake!

One thing that I enjoy about this time of year is all of the carrot cake. It’s one of my favourites and I think that it is completely appropriate to eat for breakfast….lunch….or dinner. I mean come on, it’s a cake based on a veggie :) Anyway, I’ve spent far too much time drooling over carrot cake treats on Pinterest tonight so I thought that I would share all of the deliciousness that I have stumbled across:

Carrot Cake Smoothie

Carrot cake smoothiephoto credit: Vega

Carrot Cake Raw Buckwheat Porridge

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

Carrot Cake Quinoa

carrot cake quinoa

photo credit: Kiss My Broccoli

Carrot Cake Muffins– shameless plug alert :)

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies (use egg replacer to make vegan)

carrot cake oatmeal cookie

photo credit: Amy’s Healthy Baking

Carrot Cake Bars

carrot cake bars

photo credit: Our Four Forks

Vegan Carrot Cake Cheesecake

Carrot Cake Popsicles

Dairy-Free Carrot Cake Ice Cream

dairy free carrot cake ice cream

And of course, since it is Easter weekend…

Easter Pups-label

xoxo Erin



I have emerged from my winter hibernation to share something with you that is coming this spring and that I’m super excited about! Hey Gluten-Free is a brand new subscription that will deliver a box of delicious and healthy gluten-free treats right to your door each month! What I love most about this new service is that Hey Gluten-Free promotes small businesses by advertising their products in their boxes. I cannot wait to receive a box of surprise goodies that are completely gluten-free certified, non-GMO, low/no sugar and low in sodium. Being able to sample a whole bunch of gf products so you’ll know which ones you actually want to buy a larger quantity of is AMAZING and oh so friendly to your wallet. How disappointing is it to find a new product, buy a big ole bag of it, and then realize that it’s only “meh”? Stop that cycle and sign-up for Hey Gluten-Free!!!
I don’t know when the official launch date is but you can sign up HERE to be notified of the launch date and also for a chance to WIN a free lifetime subscription! How crazy amazing is that? Clearly I’ve already signed up…a lifetime of free goodies delivered right to my door? YES PLEASE!!! So like I said, SIGN UP HERE!!!
In other news…look how cute my pup is! I’ll post again soon with pictures of our newest family addition. Have I mentioned that we got another pup? I can’t remember…but we did!!! Pictures soon :)
xoxo Erin

My NEW Kitchen!!!

When we first got possession of our house it was a pretty sore sight for the eyes. Tenants had been living in it (and one even refused to leave for a while) so not only did the house need fixing up, it was also disgustingly messy. I wish I was exaggerating when I say that entire chunks of rotting food were on the kitchen floor, random piles of garbage were scattered about and the mold in the bathrooms was unreal. The basement had the strongest smell of cat urine I’ve ever experienced and I’m pretty sure there were some cat feces hiding down there too. Needless to say, we had our work cut out for us. Thankfully it was nothing that some blood, sweat and tears couldn’t fix. And I mean a lot of tears- if you had told me how much I would have been brought to tears when we were renovating our house, I never would have believed you. But DAMN, renovations are stressful and nothing feels better when you’re stressed than to let out a good cry. We are not done all of the renovations yet, but we’re done the main and second floor. The basement is still unfinished but I have hopes that the basement will be a less stressful renovation since it’s not an area we actually need right now.

My favourite room in our new house is obviously the kitchen. I’ve never had my own kitchen with actual countertop space before and now that I have it, I don’t know how I lived without it. We got our cabinets from Ikea and our contractor got us a sweet deal on a quartz countertop. I initially had my heart set on kelly green glass subway backsplash tiles but those turned out to be grotesquely overpriced. We ended up finding beautiful blue glass subway tiles that satisfied my need for a fun and bright kitchen and also saved us a nice chunk of change. We found our tiles on clearance for less than a dollar a square foot! We also found floor tile that looks like hardwood. I love the look of it and also how practical and durable it is. Last but not least, having the look out window has already proven to be very useful. I can be baking away and still keep an eye on our pups in the other rooms. When we’ve had friends over for dinner they can talk to me through the window while staying out of my way while I feverishly finish prepping dinner.

Okay, that’s enough talking, now for some pictures :)

Kitchen Reno

Did I mention that we got a dishwasher? I’ve never loved anything as much as I love that dishwasher. Actually, maybe I love our dual compartment oven just as much. It’s so convenient being able to cook at two different temperatures in one oven!

Kitchen Reno

We’re planning on getting a new fridge in the future so that all of our appliances can match, but the one we have came with the house and seems to be doing its job :)

Kitchen Reno

And alas, a pantry! A glorious pantry! Food storage should not be underestimated :)

xoxo Erin