A long weekend  trek to San Antonio, Texas for Memorial day I also took the opportunity  and made detour to Austin, Texas.

As I have so many friends that have moved there and talked so highly of the city I figured why not check it out. As many would have it, eating out when you must only stick with gluten and dairy free options, can be quite daunting and frustrating. My friend and I made our way through a bit of Memorial day traffic, I googled gluten free restaurants. To my dismay and surprise I came upon a few options on yelp and starteding doing my research,  but when I read gluten free calamari on the menu I knew I knew we had to make a stop to eat. 

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Upon arriving into Austin, we made a stop at a few local shops and then detoured to  the Wilder Wood Restaurant & BAr, at 1300, E 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78702.  Upon arrival we noticed very few cars in the parking lot, which may have had something to do with the fact everyone was probably in their backyards cooking and grilling for the holiday weekend.  This made it a nice place to try on a holiday weekend as the hustle and bustle of ordinary Restaurants wasn't there until a few hours after we sat down.  The server and man running the house happened to be named Austin just like the city  and he was great in explaining the menu and letting us know the entire menu was 100% dedicated gluten free.  This is heaven for someone who knows they cannot and should not eat gluten.

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What did this mean for me? This meant I could actually have gluten free calamari that was surprisingly cooked in rice oil instead of canola oil, too, say what???? It is all too common when dining out, that restaurants use cheap oils, like that of canola or vegetable oil. Many don't realize nor need to ask what their food is being cooked in, but canola oil is no longer a heathy oil, and truly never was, but so many fail to realize this. So many Americans look to the American heart association for what is best in regards to what oils to use, but sadly so a lot of this information is outdated and unclear. 

This leads me to talk about healthy omegas in oils and that most restaurants are not using healthy oils when cooking even the most healthy foods, be it vegetables or grass fed animal meat. It was so gratifying to know that not only could I go to a restaurant that was using rice oil, but I could also eat just about anything I wanted on the menu, including the calamari that I was so excited about.  Rice oil is not the ideal oil to use, but it sure is better than canola oil or soybean oil, as both are commonly gmo (genetically modified oils). However, rice oil takes the cake in this case, but it would be nice if restaurants started to adopt the policy of using more EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), grapeseed oil or even avocado oil. 

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My original plan was gluten free fried chicken, but upon arrival, it was explained that the batter was actually was mixed with buttermilk, so I wasn't able to have the chicken. By all means if you live in or around Austin or visit the city, do go have some gluten free fried chicken on my behalf. Now, if like me you are lactose intolerant, then just go for the calamari.  Either way having confort food was so gratifying and a real treat.  I also ordered buffalo wings off the menu and these were not only gluten free, but dairy free as well.  Lastly, for dessert I ordered a dessert that was similar to a whoopie pie crossing a hostess cake. It was truly delightful and a treat to be able to order just about anything off the menu.  You must go visit Wild(er) Wood restaurant when you head into Austin your next visit.

 

 

New year, new you and new goals. In with the new and out with the old, just like a dirty pair of socks, right? Or hey why not add in a dirty, yet gorgeous hairy coo (pronounced hair c-o-o), also known as the Highland cow here in Scotland.

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Who wants to talk about socks when you can talk about all the great, or not so great things you had happen in 2018.  

After scrolling through my social media accounts, the same topic came up whilst scrolling.  What top 9 things did you highlight on your social media pages?

I didn’t follow the crowds and have yet to discuss my top 9 memories, but instead I hopped a flight to Europe to experience yet another New Year’s eve abroad.

Last year was Bali and this year was Scotland. Why not, right? I figure keeping up with my motto of work hard, play harder continues so I had to continue this line into 2019.

Living in Los Angeles for nearly 15 years now, sounds so ancient, however as the years pass by I realize that Los Angeles just may not be my favorite place to spend New Years.  The traffic might subside during the holidays, but my feelings of being in Los Angeles to celebrate the New year, don't excist me enough so I thrive on the idea of leaving the traffic and smog filled city for cleaner air and blue skies somewhere abroad.

I planned a bit of a last minute trip to three countries, technically two since the UK is one big place, by the European standards, well at least until Brexit came into play.

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My first stop was Budapest, but not before flying via Chicago, London and Brussels to make my final destination landing in Budapest (pronounced Budapest) Hungary.  Booking last minute can be rough as you are left with less places to find for accommodation and the flights can be a bit pricier, also depending what time of year you decide go.  Either way I chose to go to three different locations and had flexibility to do so.

The first flight was Los Angeles, California to London via Chicago. This flight was a breeze, except for the fact I knew I would have to get off the plane and clear customs to then hop a flight to Brussels. After arriving in Brussels I headed to my gate, but not after grabbing some Belgian chocolate from a local chocolatier. (when in Rome or Brussels eat all the chocolate).

I continued on my way and hopped my flight on Norwegian airlines to Brussels, without a hitch and then hopped on my flight from Brussels to Budapest. Landed safely and found the local shuttle service who was on time and very inexpensive for the thirty minute trek into the city. I was dropped off right at the door to the airbnd that I booked, which ended up being a lovely loft apartment in the heart of dowtown Budapest. (Vaci street to be exact.)

I spent six days, five nights in Budapest, Hungary and had an absolute blast. Budapest is definitely a city I would tell people to add to their list as the beauty and history of a city rich in culture is truly one you would want to visit. From the churches, to the bridges, views of the Danube river and gorgeous synagogues and buildings it certainly is one city you do not want to miss.

When I talk about 2018 I want to remember only good memories, yet I know everyone has a bad memory or two, maybe even more, but what I do know is 2018 helped me grow as a person and learn more about myself. I would also have to say being a solo female traveler, would also add to human grown and development, as you learn to be alone and on your own more than ever. You are your own company, and nothing wrong with that, heck I can do what I want when I want, where I want.

I even met my first Instagram fan in 2018, in Budapest albeit. This is one reason I have found a love for social media as I have met people I normally would not have met. This past year was about experiencing new things and opening your eyes to the unknown which is exactly what I did and will continue to do in this life. Heck you only have on life, so live if to the fullest, take chances, risks and know someone is always looking out for you especially when you think otherwise. 

As you will see (pictured here),  a queen needs her castle, so while in Scotland I had the opportunity to go on an all day bus tour and visit Stirling castle, Doune castle, and my new obsession the lovely hairy cows also known as local highland cows. Scotland truly is a wonder and the people are absolutely lovely, so it is a place I highly recommend. 

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As pictured here (Stirling castle, Stirling, Scotland 2019) Photo should not be reproduced or sold.

Are you at home thinking what could I do today on this beautiful day? Are you also wondering gosh it is so hot out, what can I do to stay cool today and how can I do so without spending a lot of money. 

Let me tell you coming from someone who absoultely loves finding activities in and around Los Angeles there are plenty of activities to do that are completely free.

For starters stop feeling sorry for yourself especially if you don't have anyone to join you on an excursion and do what I do many a time, go at it alone. Go see the world alone, go travel, get out of your comfort zone and my best advice to you is just GO!

I stopped waiting around for those people to have time, money and more time for me, and just do what I do best, spend time alone.  Sure are there times that I wish I had people to join me, yes, but other times I am so 100% happy with the idea I do what I want, when I want without having to answer to anyone.

That is how I learn more about myself everyday, is doing things alone. Just yesterday I had a feeling of just doing my own thing, after being invited to a pool party and also an evening out with the girls, but instead I chose to hit the beach down south. Yes, the traffic was bad, as I took Pacific Coast highway (also known as highway 1) and hit the beach in Laguna beach. 

There is a special beach that I found that is more secluded, but clearly my idea of hitting the beach wasn't just my idea alone. The rest of Southern California had the same idea and there was barely any parking in sight. I got lucky but had to take a bit of a hike and the secret beach was a lot further and a danger walk on the side of the road, so I chose to just land at the closest beach entrance I could find. It was certalnly okay as I spent a few hours to myself, watching the surfers, tourists and small kids pick up and pile up seaweed to their hearts content. The beach is one of the most soothing and claming things to do and it is always free to partake in on.

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Another great thing you can do is visit a local park or a museum. Sometimes museums will have free entrance during certain times, so just check out your local paper or online information center for this information.  Hiking is another great adventure that is available in LA and the OC. One place that is fun for people watching is Runyon Canyon in Los Angeles. You might even get lucky and see an A-list celebrity or two.  Another great option if you are going south of LA and heading to Orange County, especially during the summer time is to check out all the options for art in the city.

Since 1933 Laguna beach has been home to the Festival of the Arts and is more popularly known for Pageant of the Masters. For those that are exploring around Laguna, the Pageant of the Masters is what began in 1933 with a small stage and not much excitement. Then Pearl harbor happened in the mid 1940's and the locals were worried they would not ever see a show again, but 85 years later the Pageant of the Master's is in full swing. You can get tickets for as long as $25.00 to see a spectacular show, (especially with this years theme of being all about the history of Laguna beach.  Before the show you can visit a few of the art galleries or check out the Sawdust festival which has artists creating anything from photography on metal pieces to beautiful high end jewelry, art or class. 

One of my absolute favorite artists that showcases at the festival and makes the best and classiest bottle stoppers for wine or any sort of decorative bottle, is Alex Fritz glass. I also love all the jewelry that is available, from lower end affordable prices to the classy pieces that might break the bank, so if that is not for your budget, then stick with the more afforable art. Do note that the Pageant of the Master's begins the first week of July and ends the first weekend in September, typically Labor day weekend for any of you out of towners.  I personally just saw the show last night and was truly impressed at this years ensemble, so it is a must see, if you have never been, it is something you must experience at least once in your lifetime.