Sunday, November 27, 2016

Tahoe Thanksgiving!

Balcony view
Happy Thanksgiving!  SMS and I took a weekend trip to Lake Tahoe!  It's 4 hours away and it's hard to muster up the motivation to drive out there on an ordinary weekend.  I booked an AirBnb cabin and we headed up on Thursday morning.

The Lake- approximately 3 blocks from our cabin.  
The cabin was in Carnelian Bay, North Lake Tahoe.  It was a residential neighborhood but there was a lot of space between cabins and the trees made it feel more secluded.  Inside the house, it was super cozy and cute.  I told SMS, "I want to buy a cabin in the woods!"   He pointed out we could just keep booking AirBnBs.   Touché.  
Thanksgiving Feast, semi-home cooked style- roasted turkey breast, box stuffing, rolls
from a can, cranberry sauce from a can, roasted brussel sprouts and sweet potato
casserole.  The heavenly light seems to be favoring the rolls.
Thanksgiving was pretty mellow.   We relaxed after our drive and started cooking.  We had a delicious feast with a ton of leftovers so it was definitely a successful Thanksgiving!

Inspiration Point with Emerald Bay below
Emerald Bay
The next day, we took a field trip to South Lake Tahoe to check out Emerald Bay and Inspiration Point.  It was fairly crowded but we found a parking spot without too much trouble by utilizing one of the road pullouts.  It's legal as long as the car is inside the line, aka completely off the main road.  If we had waited for one of the lots, it would have been awhile!

Vikingsholm
Tree along the trail
We hiked down a gravel road to Vikingsholm, a former Summer residence of several rich Californians as it changed hands over the years.  Now it's owned by the State and open for tours in the Summer.  Ever since visiting Denmark twice, I've enjoy checking out Scandinavian design so it was cool to see here in Tahoe.  I recommend checking it out!

Our brief foray outside
On Saturday, we had a leisurely drive back to Mountain View.  Our first stop was in Truckee at the very cool Coffeebar.  Our drinks were delicious and SMS had an awesome sausage breakfast burrito.  We tried to brave the outside in the full sun but we wimped out and headed inside.  Our drinks would have been cold in an instant!

The coveted Gose, second from the right!
In Sacramento, we stopped for lunch at our favorite spot, Nido.  I had the vegan nut burger, SMS had the vegan steam buns and we split a beer sampler.  According to SMS, I drank more than my fair share of the Gose so I went back up to get another sampler.  Peace restored! 

Then we drove home and traded cars with our friend.  We had borrowed his front-wheel car with chains since snow was (remotely) in the forecast.  Better safe than sorry!  We actually just missed the snow- there was snow on the ground while we were there and on Saturday overnight, 8 inches fell!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Holiday Weekend!

The past weekend was a federal holiday weekend (yay!) and a nice mixture of being mellow and hanging out with family and friends.  This post will be scant on pictures.  It was a "live the moment" weekend instead of picture-taking, which I know, I know, does not make for very good blogging.
Gorgeous flowers outside of Neiman Marcus.  
 Anyway!  I took Friday off and was pretty mellow while SMS was at work.  I ran to his work and we met up for lunch.  I spent the rest of the afternoon at the shopping mall trying to find a specific lipstick but had no luck.  That night, we went to Tomi for dinner, which was pretty delicious.

ZZZZzzzzz....wake up!  The weekend gets more interesting!  On Saturday, SMS and I went to run club.  Neither one of us had been for awhile so it was nice to see our running friends.  Then, we went into the city to hang out with SMS's sister and brother-in-law.  We headed up to Tomales Bay, picked up oysters and had an amazing picnic in Pt. Reyes Station.  Afterwards, we drove out to Pt. Reyes lighthouse, admiring the happy cows along the way.  Does this sound familiar?   It's because we did the same trip with SMS' parents and his sister wanted to recreate it.
Smokestack!
After we dropped them off, SMS and I went out to dinner in the city.  I hadn't really thought of a place, so we ended up going to the Dogpatch and eating at Smokestack.  I loved the interior and the BBQ and drinks were delicious.  Another huge bonus is they had free water on tap- still and sparkling!  I love bubbles!  I ordered a salad b/c I wasn't very hungry.  SMS ordered some delicious BBQ, sustainably sourced and cooked over a woodchip grill only, of course.  I mean, really, we are in San Francisco (ha ha).

The next day, we met up with a friend of ours for brunch.  I really wanted the chicken and waffle, but went with a big salad instead.  Aiming for healthier eating is not always the most fun, but choices, choices.   Afterwards, we went to the American Heritage Museum in Palo Alto, which was pretty cute.  It was staffed by a lot of older volunteers, who gave us a tour.  We saw several old printing presses, staffed by a guy who had been a typesetter for 30+ years.  I really liked the interior of the house, since a doctor owned it and one room was an OR theatre.  You can't tell now, but the skylights were perfectly positioned for illuminating the operative field.  I loved it!

Since we had been eating out like kings and queens, we decided to eat at home.  I made a version of tacorisu, a Japanese dish that translates into....wait for it...taco rice!  It was pretty good so I'll be making it again.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

NYC Fall weekend!

Outside of Diner
This past weekend, I took a quick trip up to NYC to see several of my college friends.  It was amazing!  I feel so lucky to have these women in my life.  It's even more impressive in that we're not necessarily the best in keeping in constant contact but I think we revive our email strings juuuust frequently enough that we've managed to keep in touch over the years.  I wish I was part of the NYC-area contingent so I could see people even more but hey, I'll take what I can get!

Flying into LGA
So, the weekend didn't start out super-auspiciously since I got stuck in an unexpected delay on the highway.  I mean, yes, it was rush hour but traffic was stopped for 20 minutes.  Not ideal.  I ran to the gate and saw the door closing just as I approached.  Boo!  But, the missed flight was easily rebooked and it meant I could meet up with my amazing friend at LaGuardia and head into the city with her.
A chicken in the apartment!
Unfortunately, Marissa's roller-bag was forced gate-checked and utterly, completely lost by Delta. Boo!  We waited for awhile at LGA with growing baggage despondency which was totally offset by our delight in catching up with each other.  We headed into the city to meet up with the rest of the group.  We went to a bar briefly before heading back to the house where we drank wine, ate Dorritos and talked until 2 a.m(!).


The next day, my eyes flew open at 7:20 (boo!) and I stayed quiet-as-a-church mouse until everyone else got up around 9:30.  We got ready and headed out to brunch at Diner, a great restaurant under the Williamsburg bridge.  We had drinks while we waited and then had a nice brunch outside on a gorgeous Fall day.
Chloe's Sweets


Afterwards, we headed into Manhattan where we took the Big Onion Satan's Seat Prohibition Tour.  It was fun to have an guided walk through the Bowery and West Village.  The tour guide only talked at specific stops rather than the whole time so while I prefer continuous guiding, it was still a worthwhile tour.  Again, the weather was incredible.  It was so nice to be outside and in such good company.

How does a selfie stick wor-*click*
We went shopping for a bit so Marissa could get some clothes.  Then we headed back to the apartment to get ready for our night out.  We stopped by Hillary's sister's apartment, which was beautiful.  Her sister and parents were there.  It was so nice to see them!  After socializing for almost an hour (and we could have kept going!), we went around the corner to Lilia.  We had an incredible meal of shared dishes to include roasted cauliflower, roasted trumpet mushrooms, mafaldini, ricotta gnocchi, butternut squash ravioli, scallops and lamb.  The lamb was incredible and, really, all the dishes were winners in my book.

Very important a.m. pit stop
We went back to the apartment and spent some more time talking before going to bed at 1:30.  The next day, I slept in until 8:30 thanks to two late nights and daylight savings time!  Marissa left on the early side to catch her flight back.  As for the rest of us, we packed up our bags and headed down to cheer at the NYC marathon.  We were in the Hasidic section of Brooklyn, so our cheers were heard since it was otherwise quiet. Later, when we walked in deeper to hipster Williamsburg, there were a lot more spectators out.
Run, run, run!

Cheering and working up an appetite!
From our spot, we saw the men's leader pack and the motorcade in front of them, which included Meb Keflezighi.  Watching other people run made us decidedly hungry so we went out to brunch/lunch in the city where we could watch some football.  We ate at Duke's where the food was fine and hung out for a bit more until we started saying our goodbyes.  Hillary, Laddie and I headed to the Upper East Side, where Hil and I met Laddie's daughter whom I'm fairly certain is a living doll. She's so cute!
Norfolk Buddy!

Norfolk Buddy #2!
I went out to Central Park to cheer a Norfolk friend running in the marathon.  She looked great!  I held onto her dog while her boyfriend took pictures and said hello.  Then I headed back to Laddie's, said goodbye and went on a long walk through NYC.  It was another gorgeous day.  I walked through the park with the constant stream of marathoners to my right and then I headed downtown past Rockefeller Center.  I got to Karen's house just about the time I needed to head out to the airport.  I was thinking of an Uber but since it was $130(!!!!), I took public transportation.  $8 for the win!

I headed on my flight, already missing my friends but so happy to have had such a great weekend!  I can't wait for the next one!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Washington DC Weekend

East Building, National Gallery of Art
This past weekend, I spent in Alexandria hanging out with my Dad.  It was pretty mellow but the most beautiful Fall weekend- tons of sunshine and the most perfect temperature.

How I would feel in a museum without lunch first...
On Saturday, Dad wanted to check out the East Building of the National Gallery of Art.  We took the metro into the city, which takes a little longer but it's so nice not dealing with weekend traffic and parking.  When we got off the metro, the first order of business was lunch because I was hungry.   I hadn't eaten a lot of breakfast and I had gone for a run so I would be running on fumes if we went to the museum first.  We ate outside and had burgers and beer.  It was awesome.

This is art.  It has its own security guard so people don't step on it.  I guess
that's what happens when you have art that looks like a puke-colored melted bag.
Afterwards, we headed over to the East Building.  I could tell there were some updates but overall, it looked the same.  The most noticeable thing was the sun slats over the upper skylights.  The Calder mobile is still in the grand foyer and there is a lot of colorful art well-placed throughout the open main area.  We went to see the Photography Reinvented: The Collection of Robert E. Meyerhof and Rheda Becker.  It's a temporary exhibit through March 2017 with 33 excellent modern photographs from influential artists.  My sentimental favorite is Hiroshi Sugimoto since I have fond memories of an incredibly staged exhibit of his in the Hirshhorn Museum (2006).
From the Hirshhorn Display.  It was amazing. Photo Credit
Afterwards, we headed home and tried to watch The Lobster but we didn't have any luck in renting it online.

The next day, we went out to brunch in Old Town.  I scored a sweet parking spot, so I was already feeling pretty cheerful!  We went to Virtue Feed and Grain.  Brunch was tasty but Dad definitely won with his order.  Here's a tip to me: don't order Mexical breakfasts on the East Coast, it just isn't the same.  Also, do not order a Bloody Mary at Virtue- it's watery gazpacho with vodka.  The mimosas are much better (I had a sip of Dad's!).

The rest of the day was pretty mellow.  I did some online coursework and watched football.  It was a really relaxing weekend and I was glad for the quality father-daughter time.  Oh, and the quality time with the birds.  I can't forget the surrogate children.

Bath time!
Bird Love




Monday, October 10, 2016

Newport Beach Weekend

What a great group!
 SMS and I went to Newport Beach for Columbus Day weekend.  This time, we brought along friends!  Or rather, they drove down to Newport with their 2-year old.  Never fear, they arrived sane and in one piece.  That's because they're champs!

Resolution: Work on Food Photography!  Step 1: Picture before starting to eat!
I arrived earlier in the day since I took Friday off.  I went to Wild Taco for a SoCal fix!  I ordered two tacos (lobster and kale/feta) and the roasted corn. The food was amazing and it was a gorgeous day.  I ate inside but the doors were wide-open and the ocean breeze blew through.

I walked back to the house and, after a bit of rest-and-digest, I went for a 5K run.  I discovered that SMS and I had over-estimated the distances to the first and second piers, which was very disappointing.  We thought the first pier was a 3-mile out and back but it's really just 2.5 miles.  Whah!  So, I ran a little past the first pier and turned around.  I knew I had a long run that weekend with J so I wanted to take it easy.

Then, it was off to the airport to pick up SMS.  We ate at home and a little later that evening, our friends arrived!  We had poke for dinner from Santa Monica Seafood.  It was excellent.

The next day, J and I went out for a 10-mile run.  Eeek.  I hadn't run more than 5 in awhile but I hung in there.  We ran 9:00 mile pace, which wasn't too bad.  We definitely weren't trying to push the pace so really, it was nice that 9:00 felt easy(ish).
Oh, yeah!
Afterwards, we showered up and headed out for Sidecar donuts.  SMS and I had heard so much about them and we've tried to go a few times without success.  This trip, we were determined to try them.  We lucked out with the line, which was short when we arrived but completely mushroomed while we were there.  I ordered a LOT of donuts, but I shared them with people then and when we visited SMS' grandfather later that evening.  The donuts were really delicious.  I also ordered a nitro-draft cold brew coffee which was excellent.  Oh man, I would spend a lot of money if that was available at home (and it probably is, I'm just not going to do the research because it is a pricy cup of coffee!).

We went to the beach and had so much fun.  The weather was unseasonably warm all weekend so we were able to go in the ocean every day.  Even SMS tolerated it.  We rode waves and had the best time.    We got a little bit of sun but we had two umbrellas from the house so I was (mostly) good about sun exposure.  No inadvertent burns this time, yeah!
There's a Duffy Boat in the background.  Sorry, pics are limited from this excursion!
We went out on a Duffy boat that evening and toured the Newport Beach harbor.  It was such a beautiful day and the houses on the water are spectacular.  We also had great company on the boat so I was distracted from the scenery a lot of the time.
Sunset at the marina

Auto Ferry entrance
Afterwards, we decided to take the Auto Ferry across the water.  SMS has a funny story regarding the differences in child and adult perspectives.  He remembers the ferry being a big excursion, a really big deal.  As an adult, when he realized that it was a super short trip quite close to the house, he was surprised that he had such a different memory of it.  The ferry was super cool and felt very retro.  J's kid pitched a fit on the ferry because he was really upset that we weren't on the ferry and we had promised we would go on a boat.  We tried pointing out that, at that very moment, we were on the water but he wasn't having any of it.  Adults are filthy liars, obviously.  We think that he couldn't reconcile the fact that cars can go on boats but really, who knows what 2 year olds are thinking sometimes.  By the way, even when he's borderline losing it, J's kid is awesome.

For dinner, we had boardwalk food after riding the Newport Pier ferris wheel.  It's very small but moves at a slightly disconcerting clip so I'm glad we went on it.
Ok, this pic is before eating but it still doesn't look all that appetizing...

The next day was more beach time and family obligation time.  We went to EAT Chow for brunch, which was another breakfast winner.  I got the breakfast enchiladas, one with tomatillo sauce and one with mole.  Delicious!  Afterwards, SMS and I went to visit each of his grandfathers while J and family went to Irvine to visit cousins.  We watched the debate that night and then headed off to bed.
Bingo!  This looks better...right?
Monday, I dropped SMS off at the airport since he wanted to go to work that day.  What a high-roller, taking the plane to commute to work!  I went to Alta and got a coffee and Bueno Bowl for breakfast.  We cleaned up the house and then J and fam took off.  I went for a run, brief swim and then headed off to the airport myself.  What a great weekend!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Running Notes!

Guess what?  I made it into the Boston Marathon!  Yes, remember this race?  Well, the Boston Qualifying (BQ) time for my age group is 3:40 but in the last few years (2012, 2014-2016), a person had to run faster than the qualifying time to actually be accepted.  This apparently causes a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth on internet forums.  

This year, the time to beat was 2:09 faster than the qualifying time.  Since I ran 2:50 under the qualifying time, I was in!  Hooray!  I'm really excited to run with my favorite training partner again and it should be a great weekend in April.  There's a lot of training between now and then, though!
Stolen from the Internet!  Maybe I should get on Pintrest.  "Pinned" sounds better!
I'll start a 16 week plan right after Christmas.  My plan for the Fall is to do more strength and interval training for speed before I head into a Winter of increasing distances. I'm going to use my 21 Day Fix Extreme DVDs and throw some running into the mix, 2-3 times a week.  
Bright blue marshmallow clouds!
I'm also nervous because for the first time since high school, I switched shoe brands!  I want to try the Hoka One One Clifton 3s, which are really padded but apparently, are still able to move in a streamlined-feeling way.  Here's hoping!  I will let you know.  They compared favorably to my trusty Asics and since I'm not getting any younger, I figured impact-reducing shoes could only help.  Unless I get shin splints.  And then I would be very sad.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fall Weekend!

Yoda mendala outside of Mountain View library
 SMS and I had an amazing weekend!  It was a great mix of enjoying the area and relaxing at home.

Saturday was our lazy day. We woke up and SMS made an egg-in-a-hole for each of us. It was delicious and accompanied by a delicious from-the-garden heirloom tomato. Yum!  There was also an avocado, but that was store bought. 
What goes with coffee?  Psycho Donuts!
We decided to head out to a nearby coffee shop, Chromatic. We went with our former next door neighbor, which made for nice company. I had the Keynote coffee, part of a Kouign Amann (a caramelized croissant dough pastry) and, finally, a cafe brûlée with almond milk. It was basically a latte with flame torched muscadon sugar on top. It was pretty awesome. I was so entranced by watching it get made that I forgot the coffee beans I bought. Fortunately, they let me replace the bag next day free of charge even though I didn't have my receipt. 

My new little piece of Paradise!
After Chromatic, we were lazy until we headed out for date night!  SMS had booked us a private spa at a kind of Japanese-style onsen in downtown Palo Alto. It was amazing!  The room was slate, tile and very clean. There was a shower inside and while I hope people rinse off before going in, the water was chlorinated. This is not similar in Japan since most of the onsens are continuously fed by the local springs.     There was relaxing music playing and I love it. I highly recommend the place. Next time, I might look into spa treatments too but really, the soak was relaxing enough. 

Fountain by the spa entrance
We walked around Palo Alto for a bit and then we went to the restaurant for our dinner reservation. We went to Thyme, which was pretty good. I had a delicious seafood soup. We both got the scallops which were fine. I've had better but I've also definitely had worse. The decor was nice and I liked sitting by the window during golden hour light. It made SMS look especially handsome!

On the Steep Ravine section of the trail



Sunday was our active day.  I wanted to finish a Mt Tam hike we started last year but had to turn back due to sunset. I printed out the instructions (here's the link!) and we drove up to Marin/Mt Tamalpis. The hike was beautiful and I recommend it!  The scenery was quite varied as it included forest, second-growth redwoods, creeks and sun-exposed golden hills. There's also a bathroom along the way so that was an added bonus!

SMS on Steep Ravine Trail
After the hike, we decided to head home. We were planning on cooking but after we had been driving for about 30 minutes, SMS said he "could use a snack."  Well, my momma didn't raise no fool!  I've thought in the past that there was a general idea of a snack at some point in the future. Nope, nope, nope. "Could use a snack" = emergency distress signal. (I, actually we, have learned this the hard way). So, we stopped at the In & Out that has been our emergency stop before (under worse circumstances when I thought it could wait and then we were stuck in 45 minute Golden Gate traffic. Wrong call!). We ordered food and oh my goodness, I didn't realize how hungry I was either!  It really is our favorite In&Out!

Our oasis!
We drove home and got stuck in some Sunday traffic congestion. Maybe a little worse due to a morning Raiders game but I think the roads are just bad around here. 

Although I was really tired of walking, SMS tempted me into going into town to get a shave ice. We went to Teaspoon and got a tropical delight. It was amazing!  I think it's a testament to how tired I was that I didn't think to get my own but hey, I think it was better shared!

Monday morning, I went for a run. My legs felt good considering the hike but my times were a little slow. We went to breakfast at Esther's German Cafe where I got to flash back to Switzerland by ordering a cheese plate for breakfast- hearty bread, butter, cheese and jam. Delicious!