My Very First Valentine’s Day: Recounting my Best Date Yet!


My amazing cappuccino from the Filling Station!

This past Friday, my boyfriend took me on the best day-long date I have ever been on so far in my life! Of course, it was on Valentine’s Day, but it wasn’t the holiday that mattered, but rather it was making lifelong memories with him that took my breath away at the end of the day. Since I knew my boyfriend was planning on an amazing day trip to Temecula Wine Country and Pechanga Casino, a favorite place of ours to go for some low-risk fun at the penny slot machines, I wanted to have my own stamp on the day, and took him out to breakfast at the Filling Station restaurant in the Old Towne Orange Circle before he had his two morning classes. He had an amazing breakfast sandwich with spinach, eggs and bacon, while I indulged in decadent cappuccinos and amazing savory Eggs Benedict with hash-browns! It was definitely filling and a great hearty start to this amazing day!

However, the waitress at Filling Station was less than great at customer service – it took us over 20 minutes for our check to be processed! And funnily enough, the waitress remarked to us as we were leaving (since the hostess graciously ran our check) that we were her “lucky charms!” This may have been a nice pleasantry to hear while leaving a restaurant, but at the rate of her service, we could only assume that it was a failed attempt to deflect her recognition of fault from ignoring our table in favor of only one other table on the other side of the restaurant. As the determined person I am, I vowed to my boyfriend that the rest of the day would not reflect that poor service, and profusely apologized for what happened, even though I had no control over it! After that debacle, I dropped my boyfriend off at his classes and headed back to his apartment to wait until he was finished with them and we would head down to Temecula!


Eggs Benedict! Yum!

Little did my boyfriend know, while he was at class learning about wildly difficult and complex mathematical formulas and theories, I was frantically whipping up a batch of Valentine’s themed Funfetti cupcakes and picking up his Valentine’s Day gift from Target! He was very surprised when he returned home to find his gifts sitting out for him on his kitchen table!

Now, one of my gifts to my boyfriend was a small planner that had weekly and monthly planning pages for 2014. While this may not seem like the most amazing and romantic gift ever, I knew that he would really appreciate it for much longer than just the holiday itself. Recently, my boyfriend had been very stressed since our spring semester still started and he had a lot on his plate from being on the executive board of his fraternity and starting new classes as well as working on recreating the economic association at our college. Since he didn’t have a planner, he often would stress out from not being able to visualize his weekly schedule until the day of each event, and I think that attributed to a lot of his stress. I hope that the planner will help him be able to plan his weeks a bit better and allow himself to figure out where he can have some free time to himself to de-stress and not worry about what is coming next. Making daily lists of chores, meetings and other items will hopefully let him check things off one by one and break up his busy schedule into more doable chunks.

I was not expecting my boyfriend to give me even more gifts than taking me to Wilson Creek Winery and Pechanga, but he did! I opened my Valentine’s day card from him to find a small booklet. Upon more detailed inspection I realized it was a COUPON BOOK! Michael gave me one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received – a coupon book full of free trips to my favorite restaurants, free candlelit dinners and bubble baths, as well as shoulder rubs when I get stressed out! What impressed me even more was that there were also coupons for going out to dinner, going to a party, and happy hour! That showed me that he wanted me to be able to let him take care of me whenever I needed a break from my busy schedule as well as him being comfortable enough to let his life be dictated by my choices for a little while.


My OOTD for Valentine’s Day!


Next stop: Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula! After the 2 hour drive, we arrived at the beautiful winery for an amazing lunch and a bottle of one of their amazing wines. Unsure of what was considered appropriate wear for the winery, I decided on a one shoulder neon coral colored top from Lilly Pulitzer, dark wash skinny jeggings from White House|Black Market, and my go-to Coach gladiator Sandals. As it turns out, I was dressed perfectly, especially since it was about 90 degrees in Temecula once we arrived! (Thank goodness we sat under the shade with fans around to keep the breeze up!) The scenery was picture perfect, but would have been much better if the grape vines were still ripe! While we were there, I indulged in an amazing romaine salad with feta cheese and all of the traditional caesar salad fixings as well as a slew of bread with decadent sundried tomato butter to go with it! As a butter fanatic – I was very impressed at how amazing the butter tasted! Below are a few more pictures of our afternoon in Temecula! I had an amazing time finally feeling like an adult, and enjoying grown up dates in exchange for the tried and true dinner and a movie dates that are so common among college age people. I definitely felt love and romance in the air, and had great conversations with my boyfriend throughout the afternoon before heading out to the casino!



Finally, Michael and I headed down the road to Pechanga for a few hours of gambling. While this may not be one of the more romantic date ideas for Valentine’s Day, we definitely had a good reason for going! Pechanga was offering an awesome Valentine’s Day deal for slot players, with $100 being given away to one lucky slot player each minute from 2pm-10pm, and Michael was definitely keen on getting a shot at that money! While we didn’t win the $100, I still came out a winner after three hours of gambling on penny and fifteen cent slots! I had $2 in club dollars left from my players card, so I only gave a dollar of my own money during that time, and came out with 13x my winnings with a take home of $13!!This was my biggest win yet and I stopped soon after, too nervous to lose my progress! (It is gambling after all, it can happen in a heartbeat!)

After a few hours, our amazing Valentine’s Day was coming to an end, and we headed back home. Once arriving home, Michael and I did what any normal couple would do – enjoy the last few hours of the day watching silly TV shows together and finishing off the bottle of wine we had brought home with us after lunch. The amount of love I felt through that day was unbelievable, and I definitely can see myself with Michael in the future, creating so many more memories on amazing dates and travels! This Valentine’s Day was my first proper one (see my Pre-Valentines Day post here!) and I couldn’t have been any more happy than I was and still am. I want to thank my boyfriend for being so amazing and thoughtful, and tell him that I couldn’t have pictured a better way to celebrate our first Valentine’s Day as a couple in the same place!







The Top 5 Coolest Places I’ve Visited


As a child I grew up in a family that moved around 12 – that’s right, count em! – 12 times and I was fortunate enough to experience so many different cultures and countries! Here is a list of the 5 coolest places I have visited so far during my travels!


1. Singatoka, Fiji
I visited Fiji during 11th grade as part of a 10-day service trip with my high school. This was the first 3rd world country I visited and the vast differences in socioeconomic privilege compared to the US shocked me. However, amidst the economic struggles most of the Fijian people in Singatoka experienced, they were remarkably optimistic, welcoming, and accepting of others and had such a vivacity even when some lived in buildings no bigger than a moderately sized American bathroom. The culture, land, and people of Fiji are extremely beautiful and unique and though I had culture shock, I would go back and visit in a heartbeat.


2. Shanghai, China
China – the only place where my dad had to fight off people to keep them from taking my picture all because I was blonde and Caucasian. While on my visit here I went to the sky deck in one of the Shanghai skyscrapers that was completely made of tempered glass and had to face my fear of heights head on. (As of today, that fear still exists, unfortunately.) I experienced both modern and historic Chinese cities and villages and understood what it felt like to be in a country where your language was not the native language of the majority population. Now I understand how difficult life can be in America for non-English speakers. 


3. Rhodes, Greece
What’s not to love about the Greek Islands?! My family and I escaped to Rhodes from our stay in Athens visiting the monuments for some real R&R. Rhodes is a small island and had a small town feel with beautiful waters, beaches, and of course people. In terms of sunbathing, I give Rhodes a 11/10 for perfectly warm sun and admiring the bronzed gods and goddesses around me – minus the topless ladies (respect.)


4. Madrid, Spain
iViva España! Spain is an amazing country and Madrid is chock full of historical sights, museums and culture. When I wasn’t cruising the streets with my friends and stopping for the occasional tapas break or sipping Sangria, I was learning how to dance. Flamenco dance, specifically. The Flamenco DEFINITELY captures the amount of passion Spanish people live their lives with, and Madrid is the place to be to witness the dance in close settings and reality. Madrid, I thank you for the experiences and strengthening my feet and hand muscles from Flamenco clapping and stomping.


5. Sydney, Australia
I lived in Sydney for four amazing years and graduated high school there. There is so much to say about Australia in general, but a few words always stick out to me: AUSTRALIAN BOYS, TANS, BEACHES, ACCENTS, AND PERFECT WEATHER! I made some of my best friends ever there, and even got to experience going to an all girls’ school that had uniforms which made me look like a bumblebee (we’re talking navy and yellow pinstripe blazers, people!) Australia taught me to be more laidback and live with “no worries” and to just enjoy what life had to offer. The beaches were amazing and the waves equally so – arguably better than some of the finest beaches in the US if you ask some of my friends. I’m so glad I came back from Australia with an affinity to accents and the ability to convince people I actually had an Australian accent. My favorite places to visit here were the Sydney Opera House, Bondi Beach, Manly Beach, Circular Quay, and Queensland! There are so many awesome places left to visit and I NEED to go back soon to check them off of my list!

What are some of your favorite places you’ve traveled to and what do you love most about them? Respond by leaving a comment!