I can’t believe the holidays are here again!  It seems like yesterday when MaryAnne and I were doing the rounds sitting on as many Santa’s laps as possible…for the blog of course.  *Please see last year’s post for a list of our favorite Santas!

It has been an amazing year, full of friends, family, fun, and so much love.  And you all know that we love to share all of our favorite places to be together.  As we look back and reflect on the past year, we have been filled with all the emotions that come with life:  sorrow, joy, but most of all gratitude.  This year has seen so much joy in the new friendships and partnerships formed, old friends continuing through lighter, fun times, but also through tougher times with steadfast support.  I have felt very lucky starting this blog as a way to share our interests and passion for exploring, eating, drinking, and writing.  And although that is how we found each other, I have seen deeper similarities and shared values between us.  Our ties to our families, friends, and community.  As we share and celebrate all the moms and dads that we see around us starting their own blogs, small businesses, pursuing their passions and dreams we are finding ways to collaborate with these inspiring friends and look forward to an interesting and fun future.  MaryAnne and I value our family ties:  spending most of our weekends with our immediate and extended family members.  We both took epic multigenerational family trips this year.  Our children spending special moments with their aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.  We will tell you guys all about our trips with some travel tips in upcoming posts.  

Reflections Going Into the Holiday Season

We are excited to re-engage with our online community again.  You may have noticed that we have been away for a bit.  We have had some personal challenges and losses of special people in our lives, and we both had to focus directly on our loved ones.  My daughter spent some time in the hospital with a serious condition that really shook our family.  She has been home and back in school, and it has brought me the deepest sense of gratitude for every moment that I have with my family.  MaryAnne has experienced some personal loss of loved family members.  And our community suffered a loss of a beloved member as well.  But we go through these difficult times with the love and support of family and friends.  We celebrate by eating, drinking, and simply being together; and as MaryAnne says, “Live, Laugh, Love.”  PurpleWays is that journey.

Food and travel (or rather travel for food!):  the two experience that I have always valued and have tried to pass on to our kids. We are finally at that sweet spot where it is no longer daunting, but rather such a pleasure.  I know you guys, I didn’t always feel this way.  Before the kiddos, I always prioritized travel – even dreaming of selling all my possessions to buy a boat and set sail.  Then I actually had these small people, and my priorities changed.  House, yard, good school district – you know the drill.  But now that they are a little older, we can finally have it all!

It starts with flying on the right airline.  First, yes, I am one of those fliers that look up safety rating – I have a slight fear of flying.  That aside, I try to always fly direct.  And I have a handful of favorite airlines.  On our recent trip to Africa, (yes, Africa, more on that later) we flew Emirates Airline, which is definitely very high on my list.  This was our first experience with Emirates, we have heard really good things about it – they’re business class and first class is crazy luxurious – but ok, we are not in that demographic, so I can only give my opinion on their international economy class, which by the way, is pretty darn good.  

Check out these cute plush animals that turn into blankets!

Check out these cute plush animals that turn into blankets!

 

The kids loved their stuffed animal blankies!

The kids loved their stuffed animal blankies!

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If you are in the Los Angeles area, the best burger on the westside is located at this West LA institution:  The Apple Pan.  Come and grab a seat at the wraparound counter on one of the red, vinyl barstools.  Sit elbow to elbow with tourists and locals.  You will love the old school charm at this burger counter with burger patties sizzling off the griddle, iced cold soda pop served in paper cone cups and waiters that have been serving here for years.  Enjoy the basic menu of burgers, sandwiches and fries and some of the best pies ever!

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Fall is here! Orange and red leaves, goblins, ghouls and Halloween candy are just a few things that come to mind when this season hits us. You know what comes to my mind every October? German beer and yodeling at Oktoberfest at The Phoenix Club Anaheim! So put on your German Oktoberfest outfits and bring your stein for a fun evening! 

Oktoberfest at The Phoenix Club Anaheim

Oktoberfest at The Phoenix Club Anaheim

Oktoberfest people dressed in traditional German outfits!

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Sometimes I get a mean craving for Thai food. When that happens, my go-to place is Wheel of Life in Irvine. The best part for me is that it’s vegan. This is one of the few restaurants that I’ve come across that offers meat substitutes of surprisingly good texture and flavor. 

Vegan Thai Restaurant in OC: Wheel of Life

“Beef” Broccolli

Whether you are a vegan/vegetarian or meat eater, Wheel of Life is sure to please all types of palates. My family’s favorite dishes are the Pad Thai, Orange Chicken, and Beef Brocolli. For a special treat on nights when no one feels like cooking, I’ll order takeout and enjoy dinner at home. You might have to double order the Orange Chicken. At my home, that dish is the first to go! If I plan ahead, I make rice at home. On spur of the moment nights, I’ll order rice with my takeout. If you have a large family, I recommend ordering extra everything as their portions are on the small side.

Vegan Thai Restaurant in OC: Wheel of Life

Pad Thai

Vegan Thai Restaurant in OC: Wheel of Life

Orange “Chicken”

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