Even though I’m not dairy free or vegan I like to try healthier recipes from time to time. They’re loaded with protein, good fats and sweetened with dates instead of processed sugar – a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without feeling the guilt. Danny and I may have made 2 batches when we went vegan for a month…and may have eaten them the same day we made them 😉 We couldn’t resist the yummy layers of sweet, nutty, caramel and chocolate goodness.
Crust Base: Throw ingredients into a food processor. Pulse until combined. Line the dish with the crust and press evenly until covered. Set aside.
Peanut Butter Nougat Layer: Add all peanut butter nougat ingredients into your cleaned food processor (I used our Vitamix…so blender or food processor will work). Blend until very smooth. Add water if needed to reach a “thick pour” consistency. Pour over the crust and use a spatula to spread it evenly. Place in the freezer.
Caramel Layer:Place all ingredients in your cleaned food processor and blend until smooth. Add more salt or soft dates until desired taste is reached (some like it salty, some like it sweet). Take dish out of freezer and pour on the next layer. Place back in freezer while you prepare the chocolate layer.
Chocolate Layer:Place all chocolate topping ingredients in a heatproof bowl and place in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until “chocolate” is liquefied, smooth and the oil has mixed into the cacao. Pour evenly on top of the dish and place back into the freezer for 5 hours or until the raw snickers dish has completely hardened. When ready, pop it out of the dish by pulling on the plastic wrap. Peel off the plastic and cut the dessert with a large knife into desired size squares.
Mo and I met when we were 3 years old! Our siblings were in the same kindergarten class, so Melissa and I had our first platydate that fateful year. We grew up together, pretended to be the Olsen twins, wrote fan letters to JTT, spent sunny days at the beach fishing for rock crabs with bacon on strings and going to summer camp together until our mid teens. From 1st grade to 1st boyfriends, getting married and now a BABY on the way; watching our lives unfold over the decades has been a treat Momo. I’m so happy for you and Jason and I can’t wait to meet your little man in just a few short weeks!
Here are some pictures of the baby shower that we (along with her Mama Sharon) threw for Momo in my Mother’s backyard. Sharon wanted to make it airplane themed to go along with Jason’s job. Cute idea Sharon!
The Mama-to-be looking beautiful as ever!
A cute onesie bouquet made by her sister Julie ^^^
“It’s a Boy” chocolates in my Grandfather’s 1950’s suitcase. ^^^
Singapore and Bali were fantastic to say the least. It was our first time in Southeast Asia and we loved every second of it! I went a tad shutter crazy over here… it was so beautiful I couldn’t help but snap away. I can only share so many pictures in one post, so I’m going to split them up into a few different locations that we visited (Singapore & Uluwatu | Ubud & Sekumpul | Canggu & Seminyak). Here’s a summary of our day-to-day, where we stayed, ate and explored. Starting with Singapore and Uluwatu! Stay tuned for Ubud & Sekumpul + Canggu & Seminyak posts to come!
Below is a clip of our trip highlights!
We had 21 fun hours in Singapore! It was short, but action packed. Ev said it felt like he’d been on vacation for a week after our first day in Singapore. Yes. Mission complete. Singapore is beautiful, sparkling clean (they don’t even sell chewing gum here), efficient and so unbelievably cool. It will blow your mind – skyscraper infinity pools, giant jungle domes, fast transportation, gorgeous temples, friendly people and amazing food. If you can snag a layover here, make it worth your time and see the city. You don’t want to miss this one!
Nostalgia was a wonderful, affordable hotel conveniently located via 10-minute walk from Tiong Bahru MRT Station. The rooms were small, but comfy and equipped with the chilliest AC. The bed felt like fluffy heavenly nest after a long sleepless flight. There is a glass-wall pool on the 3rd story that overlooks a bustling intersection (rooms are still quiet). This place was a great find and a 2 min walk from a yummy hawker station (food court) around the corner.
We landed after a 20hr direct flight from Los Angeles to Singapore and jumped on the MRT (mass rapid transit). The MRT connects to the airport so getting around is super simple. It will take you about 30 minutes to get to the city center from the airport. Buy a ticket at the computers in the station…you can’t miss them. I think it cost us about $2 vs a $30 taxi ride. Well worth the bit of extra research effort.
We woke up a 6:00AM the next morning and had an early breakfast at the Tiong Bahru Food Market & Hawker Centre. Pork noodles, wonton porridge and browned butter condensed milk coffee with a side of fresh mangosteen.
Then we caught a taxi to Chinatown ($5) and toured the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. It’s free and fascinating! This Tang-styled Chinese Buddhist temple gets its name from what Buddhists regard as the Sacred Buddha Tooth relic! Make sure to take off your hat and cover your knees and shoulders when you go inside. You’re invited to see the tooth relic on the 4th floor, just leave your shoes in the cubbies by the elevator and keep quiet as you walk around the temple and observe people in prayer and monks in meditation.
There is an orchid garden on the rooftop of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, as well as a prayer wheel.
A 2 min walk from Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is the Sri Mariamman Temple (Hindu Temple). It’s a melting pot of religions and cultures in Singapore! This was another free and interesting place to visit. Be sure to leave your shoes at the entrance.
More exploring in Chinatown^^^ice cream and cold bottles of water! With the humidity and temperature both at 85, we were drenched.
After our walk to the colorful windows we decided to catch a taxi ($8) to the Gardens By the Bay to see the Cloud Forest Dome! SO worth it guys! You’ll have to buy a ticket for this one – it will run you about $15 to visit one of the domes or $20 to see both domes. The Cloud Forest dome is the one with the waterfall. The outside gardens and supertree grove are free and the catwalk in the trees is $8. We only did the cloud forest dome – worth every penny! Plus it was a welcomed escape from the heat!
We walked from the Gardens by the Bay to The Marina Bay Sands Hotelvia the bridge located inside the gardens. It’s about a 10 min walk. We made it to Spago(Level 57, Tower 2)! I think all first time visitors need to see the pool deck at Marina Bay Sands…instead of paying $23 to go to the observation deck (that actually puts you at the far end of the hotel, so you can’t get a good view of the pool), get a drink or appetizer at Spago. It’s right next to it! You’ll get to experience the view of the city skyline and sip on “I Love You Long Time” cocktails – a much better option if this pool view is on your bucket list. Only hotel guest are allowed to swim in the pool, but this is the next best thing! If you’re worried about the cost, I think I paid the equivalent of $19usd for 1 cocktail and the boys paid about $12usd for a cider and beer. It’s not cheap, but you’ll definitely get a better view and it’s less money than the observation deck that gives you jack squat. Go for it! I don’t think you’ll need a reservation around lunch time (we just showed up and were seated right away), but I’d suggest reserving a table if you’re planning on sunset drinks or dessert.
We then caught the underground MRT (at the hotel) back to the airport for our connecting flight to Bali. What a crazy, spectacular 21 hours! We were so exhausted at this point, but really glad that we had an extra long layover to experience this wonderful place. By the way…Singapore’s airport is the best airport in the world! I’d love to write a post on it some day. A 4-story slide, butterfly garden, sunflower deck, spa, mall, movie theater, hotel etc. Singapore, you’ve become one of my favorite destinations!
-ULUWATU, BALI –
Where we stayed: D’padang
Jl. Labuansait, Pecatu, Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
A tad hard to find. Use this.
D’padang was just far enough from the craziness of Single Fin, but close enough to all the great surf breaks in Uluwatu. You can rent scooters for 70,000 rupiah ~$5usd a day (from the villa). There is a great breakfast spot across the street called Jeffrey’s and Nyiman Local Food and Suka Espresso are a 4 min walk down the street – Balinese food and Aussie style health food. D’padang was a comfortable stay and the staff were very friendly. They even let me make noodles in the kitchen and hooked us up with a ride to Ubud.
Single Fin – a bar & restaurant popular among tourist and surfers for its stunning sunset views. Single Fin is one of many restaurants and small warungs located on the cliffside overlooking the best surf spot in Uluwatu. Continue down the path to the left and make your way to the bottom of the cliffs to find the entry point for the Uluwatu surf break.
The first night in Uluwatu we walked to the cliffside at Single Fin and grabbed a bite to eat at a warung (family owned cafe) a few houses down from the top. It smelled wonderful…lots of garlicy mie goreng noodles, ice cold Bintangs and fresh fruit smoothies. A great place to watch the sunset and waves.
It’s a bit of a rough crowd by Single Fin. I never felt unsafe, but it’s not the best area, mostly party goers looking to relax and cut loose. There were a few drug dealers peddling hashish and mushrooms. Move along please. Drug laws are very strict in Indonesia. Punishable by death or life in prison. No joke. Besides this one encounter, Bali felt very safe and welcoming – full of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. Just be aware of the skeezy peeps and drunk scooter drivers around popular bars and hangouts.
^^^10ft perfect waves for days. Apparently they were 15ft the week before we arrived!
Below the cliffs, down some steep stairs and across a janky bridge you’ll reach the sea cave entry point to the Uluwatu surf break. This might just be the coolest and sketchiest of entry points I’ve seen. Once you’ve reached the water, you’ll have to paddle out between these narrow sea cliffs. At the end you’ll be rewarded with some of Bali’s best and longest lefts! Check out this old video clip of two men paddling through Uluwatu’s cave. Shiiiiiiza. No. Max high tide is way too dangerous. Best time would be mid-tide on its way down. Careful of that reef!
The next day we had breakfast at Suka Espresso, omelets, avocado, beet puree, peanut butter banana crepes with dragon fruit sauce and coconut milk chia n fruit parfaits. Great Aussie style healthy eats.
After breakfast we ventured to the Padang Padang. For some reason many people think Labuan Sait Beach is Padang Padang, when it’s actually the long stretch of beach to the left (see below). Make sure you know which one you’re going to if you’re meeting up with friends.
You can access the real Padang Padang from the dirt road that leads to Thomas Homestay or the dirt road across the street from Suka Espresso (it’s a big u-shaped road). Follow it a few hundred feet and you’ll see a man sitting at a little bamboo shack. Give him a few bucks to watch your bike while you spend the day at the beach. I don’t know if it was completely necessary, but it seemed like the nice thing to do.
Here’s how you can get to this beach if you ever find yourself in Uluwatu.
I really enjoyed this beach, compared to the popular Labuan Sait Beach around the point, which is much smaller and more crowded. We walked down the hillside and met a kind women placing banten in her family shrine. She offered us rooms for $5 per night…right on the water and breakfast included! What a deal! Unfortunately we had already booked a place.
We made it down the cliff. We had the whole stretch of beach to ourselves, just a few huts with locals tending to fires and cooking for their families. The beach had 3 rope swings tied to big rubber trees, women selling silk sarongs, bracelets and giant coconuts…literally a 10lbs coconut that I had to wrap my arms around when we walked down the beach. I chatted with the local ladies Dany and Wayana, drank coconuts and learned about a full-moon ceremony.
That evening we rode down to the Uluwatu temple. It’s a nice place to walk around, laugh at monkeys and enjoy the view! They offer a cultural fire dance at sunset. We skipped out on the dance, because of the crowds, but it would be a fun experience if you’re traveling with kids.
We had dinner at Nyoman Local Food – just a few minutes walk from D’Padang (on the map above). We ate big plates of curry chicken and mie goreng for pennies; pet the owners pups while Indonesian cartoons played on a tv to entertain her little girl. I love places like this. You can feel apart of a family on the other side of the world, even if t’s just for one meal.
Our last morning in Uluwatu, we hitched a ride with Made (friendly guy from the restaurant) down to Labuan Sait Beach – a beautiful spot where jungle meets the beach and monkeys swing overhead. You’ll have to pay 50¢ to enter this beach (to a man sitting in a booth at the top). There is a staircase that lies between two rocks, just wide enough for one person to pass through. The beach itself is lovely at low tide, but can potentially take-out sunbathers at high tide and flood the left side of the beach. I actually preferred the the less busy Padang Padang around the point to the left (map above – paradise). But this beach is so iconic we had to see it + Dan and Ev enjoyed the waves here.
^^^Fun cave entry to Padang Padang. Notice monkey above my head. He attempted to steal my camera, but I won. Cheeky little guy…
^The boys were very happy today.
We left Uluwatu that afternoon and headed for Ubud. We had a wonderful time in Uluwatu…especially the surf rats 😉
Ubud & Sekumpul + Canggu & Seminyak posts are on their way!
I’ve said it a few times on here…I don’t have a green thumb. As my love for indoor plants grows, I’m only met with the disappointment of a shriveled beauty a few weeks down the road. Money wasted! The lovely people at PermaLeaf® have come to my rescue. They have a huge variety of indoor and outdoor plants that are absolutely stunning. They sent me a beautiful tree to cure my fiddle fig blues. It looks like the real deal and will save me the frustration and expense of continually replacing my real one (seriously I’ve gone through 3 trees) and those fancy plants aren’t cheap!
PermaLeaf® products are made with a “specially formulated weatherable plastic that is designed and engineered to withstand harsh conditions. Whether you expose your artificial trees and plants to UV rays, snow, strong winds, or water they will be fade resistant and will suffer no color loss detectable by sight.”
I’m so happy with this new plant…the leaves have a silky texture and they perfectly depict the color variation in real leaves. Each leaf is connected with a plastic ball n socket joint so you can twist the leaves however looks best. I like to turn mine facing outward in a circular pattern, making the tree look its fullest.
My mother came over for a visit the other day and her eyes went right to the plant…”Where did you get that tree!? It’s beautiful!” Thanks Ma!
No joke, she is considering getting a faux Fiddle fig too now.
Here are a few of my favorite plants that PermaLeaf® offers. They are available for commercial projects and wholesale trade too – landscaping and design. How fantastic is that? Below you can find a few clips from their outstanding portfolio and talented work for clients all over the US.
I went Skydiving with my Mamma and our friend Tena in celebration of my 29th! Woohooo last year of my 20’s. You ladies are troopers and I’m so grateful you said yes. And thanks to my Hub for pushing me to fulfill my life-to-do’s… I had many sleepless nights before this day and you never stopped encouraging me. You’re the best babe. I know jumping out of a plane is not your idea of fun, but you knew it was mine and you gave me endless support and I love you for that and so much more. Here’s to stepping outside of my comfort zone, trying new things and living life to the fullest. Love you guys.
Here’s how my day went and what to expect on your first tandem jump.
Anticipation is the worst part. I’d suggest making your appointment a few days before you go…no need to make it weeks before like I did. There were too many days filled with watching YouTube videos of skydiving gone wrong. Don’t do that! Check the weekly weather report for your drop zone and pick a day that is sunny with low wind.
Morning of, we drove out to Skydive Elsinore and checked-in at the office. We watched a funny outdated video – an older guy with a majestic beard discussing the dangers of skydiving. Brilliant, they already have me laughing…I can’t take ZZ Top-in-a-suit seriously, so I’m just going to sign these release forms. We signed about 10 different papers stating that we wouldn’t sue anyone if we ended up hurt or dead. And then we were filmed as we read a short statement out loud and signed one last document. Done and done. Try not to let this deter you from the experience – it’s merely protocol. Tandem jumps are preformed by professionals that have hundreds, if not thousands of jumps under their belts. Sign away and it’s time to get stoked!
We were some of the first tandem jumpers that day so we didn’t have to wait long. I heard if you pick a later time slot that you might have to wait around the drop zone longer, because earlier jumps are postponed for whatever reason (weather, plane maintenance, late arrivals etc). Plan on being at the drop zone for 3-4 hours. Bring some items to help you pass the time or just hangout and watch other skydivers land. It’s pretty fascinating watching them zip down so quickly.
We had about 45 minutes of downtime. I walked out to the Skylark and watched a military plane takeoff with a bunch of camouflaged divers packed in like sardines. Training maybe? I sat on log near the runway by the old Airstream trailer and Winnebago and called my friend Julia who had jumped a few months before.
“So Jul’s I jump in just a few minutes…any tips?”
“Just smile and enjoy it.”
“Oh God, OK. I can do this!”
I was the first to meet my instructor – Marcelo Zoni, who came up to greet me with a smile and the tandem harness in hand. I got suited up and he made sure everything fit correctly. I remember feeling that the harness wasn’t tight enough… “don’t worry I’ll tighten it later in the plane.” He gave me the lowdown on what I needed to do – “keep your arms in close to your body and hold onto your shoulder straps. Keep your head up and tilted back while we jump out. Once we’re out I’ll tap to signal when you can put your arms out to the side. Don’t forget to arch your back while we fall.” So I listened and replayed his instructions over and over in my head…and then my thoughts turned to how I would frantically attempt to save both of us if something happened to him because of all those damn youtube videos that I had watched days before. I bet I would qualify for an AFF 1 jump, with the amount of skydiving research I read over the past weeks. Oh Lord. Think happy thoughts Britt. You can do this. You’ve always wanted to do this. Everything will be fine. This is an exciting, happy day…
I found myself asking stupid questions like, “so how many times have you jumped (which I’m sure every instructor gets asked multiple times a day)? How old are you? Do you have a family? Children? You need to be there for someone right? Just checking.”
Sorry for the mild interrogation Marcelo, but that’s what comes out of my mouth when I’m terrified. Check, check and check. OK, I’m feeling better. I also discovered that it was his birthday that week as well, so that was neat.
My videographer interviewed me on the ground and in the plane… he asked several questions about whether I was nervous and if it was my first jump etc. I said something like…”oh I hope we make it, I love you family. Send my love to my hub.”
Before I knew it, it was time to go. I’m sure every plane is different, but ours held 14 people with two benches and a few floor spots. The plane took off and we climbed higher and higher until we reached about 12,500 ft. It was cold and loud inside our tiny plane. I was the closest to the door when the single jumpers rolled it back. My heart raced and I grabbed my shoulder straps while looking out the door. Wow this is really happening! And then the first team of 3 singles jumped out. They just fell out door in a cute little party pack and disappeared. Weird. My mind seemed to disconnect at this point. This is all so funny. People jumping out of planes…how is this OK? Then the next guy literally swan dived out the door. I remember watching him get smaller and smaller. Well, I’m up.
We scooted up to the door. I knelt down on one knee looked out and saw the curve of the horizon. Amazing! My photographer put his hand on my shoulder (I’d like to think he was praying for us), I think it was just a technique to stay level with us when we jumped. Haha. I smiled at him, but couldn’t see his face clearly under his helmet. I hoped he was smiling back. And then I felt a hand on my forehead – a reminder to keep my head back before he threw me out of the plane. I was definitely in shock of what was about to happen…just grinning from ear to ear and feeling out-of-body. It felt like a dream. Then he gave two swings and pushed away from the door.
Oh my God…
Those first 3 seconds took my breath away in the best possible way. It’s wasn’t scary or painful. I didn’t panic.
It’s pure magic.
It’s out of this world one of the most amazing feelings. You’re falling but you don’t feel like falling. You feel like you’re flying on a windy day. It’s very odd, peaceful, thrilling, happy and freeing all at once. There was no anxiety, no tension, no worry about plummeting towards the ground. I know this description is eye-roll-worthy but it felt comforting in a spiritual way. What was I afraid of? This is beautiful. (side note…I bet a solo dive is completely different. The best part about a tandem is you get to sit back and relax).
^^^A message to my Love at home who took over my work shift and told me to jump out of a plane…so sweet of him. I think 😉 Love you babe.
Then there was a quick jerk up and a moment of heaviness. Our chute had opened and the wind had stopped. Back to reality. I think I yelled “It opened!” and he said “Of course it opened!” He showed me how to direct the parachute, pull left for left turns and right for right. Pull both to slow down and let loose for full speed. It was surprisingly easy. Happy Birthday Brittany! Thanks, Marcelo! Happy Birthday to you too! Then we just cruised and enjoyed the view. Still slightly in shock, I must have said thank you a thousand times.
The landing was fairly easy. He pulled a few quick S turns to position ourselves for the drop zone. At the last moment he flared the chute and we landed graceful on our bums! Not even a grass stain on my jeans. Nice job! Very impressed. Thank you, thank you, thank you for such a fun experience.
My mom and Tena landed right after me. All three of us had an amazing time, one that I will never forget.
Later that night after googling more jumps I stumbled across the Fresh Prince himself who had some wise words to share and I quote, “at the point of maximum danger [that first second you jump out] is the point of minimum fear. God places the best things in life on the other side of fear.” I couldn’t agree more. Anything worthwhile in this life will make you nervous – all those big decisions and moments. The rewards are so spectacular once you have the courage to commit. Sometimes you just need to trust your gut (or in this case a complete stranger) and take that leap. I’m so glad I did and you will be too. It’s fun to see what we are capable of. Life is good. Everyone needs to experience this at least once in their life – or maybe more. Sign me up again!