Wednesday, October 1, 2014


{I'm posting every day this month for the 31 Days writing challenge!
here to see an introduction and a list of all the posts I've written so far.}

To kick off this little series, I feel it is my duty to tell you about a place called Palazzio.  It’s an Italian restaurant on downtown State Street whose slogan is, “People don’t leave here hungry.”  

If I could assign them a new slogan, though, it would be, “People don’t leave here without first eating 47 garlic knots.”  

Palazzio is a family style restaurant, meaning they serve pasta in two sizes: half order or full order.  The servers usually say something along the lines of, “The half order is perfect for two hungry people, or one VERY hungry person.  The full order blah blah blah...”  

You don’t even need to listen about the full order, because here’s the thing: the half order is actually enough for two VERY hungry people, with leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  And if you are there with a big group, you still only want half orders, because then you can get a few different dishes for everyone to share.  (The full order could feed a small country.  Just sayin’.)

But perhaps you are wondering about those aforementioned garlic knots.  (And if you aren’t wondering about them, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?)  Every time you go to Palazzio, your server will take your drink order and then offer you a tray with a beautiful little mountain of fresh-out-of-the-oven knots of bread drenched in minced garlic and herby, buttery goodness.  

DO NOT DECLINE THIS OFFER (unless you are allergic to gluten, and if you are, they totally have gluten free pasta here!).  And when you inevitably finish all of those garlic knots, fear not: they will always bring you more, no matter how many times you ask.  (And did I mention they’re free?)  

Now, since you already know you will be filling up on garlicky goodness before your food even arrives, there’s no need to look at silly things on the menu like salad or soup.  (I mean, I’m sure those are good, too, but come on.  NOODLES!)  Browse the pasta offerings, and then pick one and decide that you would like it, but you want to substitute fusilli pasta instead of rotini.  And you also want to add some roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts!  

Basically, anything on the menu is completely open to whatever substitutions or additions you want to make, at no additional cost.  Want chicken instead of sausage?  No problem.  Want to try it with the lemon caper sauce instead of marinara?  Live on the edge!  

Once your pasta arrives, go ahead and eat approximately six bites of pure deliciousness before you are too full to breathe.  Pop one more garlic knot for good measure, and then get yourself a little to-go container and learn how tasty leftover Palazzio still is the next day.

And okay, if you manage to actually have a little bit of room left for dessert, go ahead and try the tiramisu.  It doesn’t suck.

(DISCLAIMER: I think a good chunk of this series will be dedicated to some of my other favorite food spots in town, because Santa Barbara has enough restaurants that you could go to a different one every single day of the year and not hit them all.  So obviously I’ve found a few noteworthy food establishments that deserve to be recognized!) 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

31 Days of Santa Barbara

I’m participating in the Write 31 Days challenge, so today it's time to introduce myself to all those folks who found me through the link-up!  

My name is Tabitha, and I am a 29-year-old lady living on the central coast of California.  I've been married for 5 years to a wonderful guy named Joe, and I love Jesus, anagrams, artichokes, and Creed...not necessarily in that order.  (But probably in that order...and with a lot of other things in between!)

For the next 31 days, it's all about Santa Barbara on this little blog of mine! 

As I was brainstorming some different topics for the challenge, it occurred to me that most of the people who will be reading my blog for the first time are probably not from around here.  And there is a LOT I can say about this city I call home.  

You might like this series if you are someone who:
  1. loves Santa Barbara as much as (or more than) I do,
  2. has never been to SB and might like a little peek into some of the different things to see and do, or
  3. thinks you don't really like Santa Barbara but might be willing to consider another perspective!

So I'm just going to spend this next month telling you about a bunch of the things that matter to me about Santa Barbara.  Most of them are good, a few are not so good.  But I hope by the end of this series, you will have a newfound sense of appreciation for Santa Barbara whether you’ve been here once, lived here forever, or never set foot here in your life!

On the weekends, I'll give you guys a break from the chatter and just share a photo of something I love in Santa Barbara.  We'll call it "Weekend Wonder!"  

Oh, and FYI!  I reached out to some of the businesses I will be spotlighting, and a few of them are going to be offering a special deal or discount just for my dear blog readers!  So, local readers and potential visitors, stay tuned!

Here's where I will list all of the posts in this series as they are published.  (Posts that include a promo/discount code will be marked with an asterisk below!)

Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9
Day 10
Day 11
Day 12
Day 13
Day 14
Day 15
Day 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19
Day 20
Day 21
Day 22
Day 23
Day 24
Day 25
Day 26
Day 27
Day 28
Day 29
Day 30
Day 31

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Coming soon...

Because I refuse to acknowledge the little voice in my head that keeps saying, "Face it, you're not really much of a blogger anymore," I am signing up again for the Nester's Write 31 Days challenge.  Last year I tried it, and I failed about halfway through.  And since then I've written LESS THAN TEN posts.  Seriously, not even a post a month average?!

Clearly, I need a little kick in the pants.  And I think I know why I failed last year: I made it too complicated.  My topic was too specific, yet also too vague, if that even makes sense.  (It doesn't, which is why I had such a hard time sticking it out.) 

So this year I've picked a topic that I think I can run with, and I think you might even enjoy reading every single post!  I have a plan, but I also have some wiggle room.  I have well over 31 post ideas already written down, so it will just be a matter of hunkering down and cranking out some simple little thoughts each day.

AND I'm thinking about it TWO WHOLE WEEKS before this thing even starts!  Which means I can actually pre-write some stuff for the days that I know I'll be way too busy to blog.  WHO AM I?!

I mean...don't hold your breath or anything.  But I'm gonna try!

Stay tuned, friends.  It begins October 1st.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Five Years!!

(And now for the happier update!  Rewinding back a few weeks...)

Joe and I just celebrated five years of marriage.  FIVE YEARS!  I know it's not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it's still pretty exciting.  We went to Hawaii for our friends' wedding in July, so we didn't have a lot of time or money to do something "big" for our actual anniversary weekend.  Instead, I surprised Joe with a little "staycation" weekend in Ojai, which is only about 45 minutes from home.  And while I was tempted to try to plan out our schedule with all kinds of events and activities, we instead just had a really relaxing, laid back time there.  We ate good food, walked around town, and enjoyed our in-room jaccuzzi. 

But my favorite thing we did for our anniversary this year was a surprise photo shoot!  I realized earlier this year that Joe and I have almost no pictures together (aside from the occasional smartphone selfie) since our wedding day.  Plus, we had such a blast doing our engagement photo shoot; so I decided to surprise Joe by taking him on a little picnic at a local park and then having my friend (and amazing photographer) Becky show up after we'd eaten!

This whole story is pretty great, actually...

The photo shoot was a few weeks before our actual anniversary.  I told Joe several weeks in advance that we had "something" going on that I couldn't tell him about, and since the date didn't mark any particular thing he was supposed to remember, he had no idea what it was about.  That day, I spent forevvvvvver curling my massive amount of hair and getting all made up, trying on every dress in my closet, and packing up our picnic dinner.  I asked Joe to wear a very specific outfit (once I had figured out mine, so we would be semi-coordinated), and I thought for sure he would figure out that we were taking pictures since I was so concerned with what he was wearing.  Usually if we're going out somewhere fancy, I'll just ask him to wear something nice; but this time I was super specific, and I even stood next to him in the dress I picked out, to see if his shirt looked good with the dress.  But he didn't pick up any of those clues, haha!

About an hour before we were going to head out for the picnic, Becky messaged me saying it looked like it might rain and suggested possibly rescheduling the photo shoot.  I looked outside and sure enough, the sky was completely gray and you could smell rain in the air!  But I wasn't about to have to re-curl my hair again another day!  (I'm not even kidding, you guys, that was pretty much the reason I refused to reschedule.)  So I said, "The show must go on!" and prayed that if it did rain, it would be just the lightest of drizzles.  As I was driving us to the park, it did drizzle a little bit.  I told Joe, "Okay, so...I'm gonna ask you to be a trooper tonight, whatever may happen."  And he said sure, he'd roll with the punches (still totally unaware of what we were doing except that he now knew there would be some sort of picnic since I had a basket full of food in the back seat).  I was thinking it might start pouring and we'd be eating soggy pb&j sandwiches (because I'm super gourmet when I do picnics!) and sitting on a muddy blanket.

So we arrived at the park and had to walk a little ways to the spot where I had arranged to meet Becky, which was in a little clearing with a couple of tire swings hanging from a big tree.  By the time we got to the spot, it had stopped drizzling.  And by the time we'd finished eating, the clouds were clearing away and the sun began to shine!  Woohoo!

After we ate, we just relaxed and played around on the swings while I waited for the arranged time that Becky would show up.  I kept kind of looking around because I wasn't sure where she'd come from, and then Joe jokingly said, "Are there paparazzi hiding in the bushes taking pictures of us?  If so, I hope they get a picture of THIS!"  (And then he grabbed my butt.)  So I figured that would be a good time to let him in on the surprise.  I told him that actually, although no one was creeping on us YET, Becky was on her way to take some five-year pictures for us. 

We had SO much fun with Becky during the shoot!  She took us to a bunch of different areas of the park, and just made us feel totally comfortable being our weird selves while also managing to catch some sweet, romantic moments, too.  Here's a link to her blog post with a bunch of the best shots.  And here are a few more of my favorites!

I was so thankful that we didn't reschedule and that the weather turned out to be absolutely perfect for both the picnic and the shoot.  I'm pretty sure we will have to make this an every-five-years tradition so we can look back on all the milestones of our marriage after 50+ years!  Something about taking pictures together makes me feel extra connected with Joe and grateful for how well we fit together.  Heck, if I could afford it, I'd do photo shoots with him EVERY year!

{All photos by Becky Davis Photography -- don't steal 'em!}

Dolores Mae Lund Palmquist

(Two posts coming your way today -- one happy, one sad, both updates on life as of late.  We'll start with the sad one...)

On August 17, I wrote:

My grandma went home to be with Jesus today. I'm thankful that I got to see her a couple of weeks ago, but also sad and sorry I didn't make more efforts to spend time with her while I could. She loved her big family fiercely, worshiped the Lord with a joyful heart, and has left a legacy of 5 children, 24 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren (and counting). I hope we will all strive to be like Dolores: faithful, loving, optimistic, creative, and full of inexplicable joy in the face of trials. Please send prayers to my mom and her siblings for peace and comfort.

This was the last time I saw my grandma;
I was showing her pictures from our trip to Hawaii.

On August 22, I attended my grandma's memorial service with most of my extended family and many of my grandma's close friends.  It was a beautiful service, and I learned that my grandma was a lot more amazing than I ever really recognized while she was alive.  I mean, she was a human being who messed up a lot just like I do all the time; I don't want to act like she was perfect even though it would be easier to only remember the good things and forget the hard stuff.  But I spent a lot of time during my childhood and teens thinking, "Ugh, Grandma is so crazy; why can't she back off with that darn camcorder?" (and other such cluelessly mean thoughts), and in retrospect I see that most of the "crazy" or annoying things she did, she did because she was so passionate about her family and about preserving our memories for future generations.  She loved every person in her great big family, even when we rolled our eyes or gave her sass or did something that strongly saddened her conservative heart.  She loved her husband even after he had an affair and ended their 56-year marriage.  My grandma was so passionate about her faith in Jesus, and she was always excited to see that faith being carried on in her family line.  Yet, she also tried her best to be forgiving and full of grace whenever she was wronged or offended.

The day after the memorial, my cousin Micah got married to a lovely young woman named Christy.  And the day before the memorial was my uncle Steve's birthday.  My uncle made a very good point about how appropriate the whole weekend was, because my grandma always loved to celebrate multiple occasions while the whole family was together, in order to make the most of our time.  I remember at least once having a cake that had both mine and my uncle Phil's names on it because we both have April birthdays.  So while some may think it strange to have a funeral and a wedding a day apart, it was perfectly fitting that we said goodbye to my grandma and welcomed a new member into the family at the same time. 

And even while I cringed a little as so many photos were being taken during the memorial service -- of my grandma's five children next to her coffin, next to her open grave, etc. -- I knew that it was being done because she would have wanted it.  She believed that even sad occasions were worth remembering and documenting.  (Side note: special thanks to my cousin-in-law Holly for taking on the challenge of photographing both the memorial and the wedding!  Holly was poised and professional, even when she had to step in front of the guys getting ready to lower the casket to get a final shot.)

I've been crying at unexpected moments since my grandma's passing.  Of course I bawled through most of her memorial service, and I cried a little harder than usual at the wedding because it was the first of all the grandkids' weddings that she wasn't at.  But I'm also finding myself crying whenever I think about how this is affecting my mom and her siblings, especially my aunt Carol who was taking care of my grandma the last couple of years.  I can't imagine the pain of losing a parent, even when you know it's coming because they're getting old or have been sick for awhile.  I can't imagine it, but I saw it in my mom's face.  I cried when I saw a picture of my nephew Levi heading for his first day of Kindergarten.  I cried in church during worship this past Sunday, I guess just because I was thinking about how much my grandma loved singing songs to Jesus.

And although I'm sad for all of these reasons and more, I am also so thankful for the comfort of knowing that my grandma is not in pain anymore, and she is rejoicing and singing praises right at the feet of Jesus.  There is no more fear, no more sorrow, no more suffering for my grandma.  Praise the Lord for that!