Monday, July 27, 2015


Certain weekends can feel a little “meh.”  I’m not sure why this weekend didn’t feel as wonderful as others.  Maybe I was coming down off the high of Rip and Linda’s visit where we did cool things and had numerous meals very generously bought for us.  Hmmmm, this sounds like a very likely reason!

This weekend was actually quite fun.  On Friday, SMS decided he wanted to drive us down to San Jose to eat at Santana Row.  It feels a lot like the downtown Silver Spring area in MD- very cute but slightly over-manufactured and corporate.   We weren’t hungry enough to feel like an expensive meal was warranted so we went with Bahn Mi sandwiches from a little cart next to an astroturf green area where people were gathered for a free concert.  It was an Australian cover band whose weak point was its singer but since they sang songs everyone seemed to like, these small sins against pitch and staying in tune were apparently forgiven.  We finished off the evening with cupcakes with delicious frosting and perfectly moisture levels in the cake. 

The next day, I went for a run with the Mountain View Runners meet-up group.  The rest of the day, I read most of The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer.  It follows a young Hungarian Jewish man through most of his teens and young adulthood as circumstances transform his life from aspiring architect to surviving the shifting horrors of war in Hungary during WWII.  This book was everything I was hoping All the Light We Cannot See would be   I highly recommend The Invisible Bridge even though it’s pretty long at over 600 pages.  It’s worth it.  SMS had a photoshoot on Saturday and then we watched most of Silicon Valley, Season 2.  It was pretty funny but I don’t think binge-watching is totally my thing.  It creates a similar feeling to eating too much candy although more mentally than viscerally.

Sunday was spent planning for our BBQ party at the pool.  I bought tri tip for tacos and made several vegan options such as veggie taco filling, kale salad and roasted beets and brussel sprouts.  It was delicious.  We had a great time hanging out with friends.  I had to steal away for a bit to go to work but otherwise, things were a lot of fun. 

I have a list of places I would like to visit in the area over the next year.  I think next weekend, I’d like to do a daytrip.  I think a daytrip gives an overall project and feeling of accomplishment to the weekend rather than several smaller activities.  My thought is San Francisco.  I would really like to explore the Presidio and the Outer Sunset neighborhoods.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A quick trip to Monterey

After missing the answer to my security question three times, I was locked out of my payroll account and could no longer access my paystubs.  This is a problem, especially so close to a move when I want to keep an eye on the changes and make sure I’m getting paid what I should.  This is important since pay mistakes are never in my favor.  If I get underpaid and don’t claim it, the money could be gone forever but if I ever get overpaid, I could face an unexpectedly diminutive paycheck.  Smaller and cuter are not words I want to describe my paycheck.

The security question, by the way, was “What was the name of your first boyfriend/girlfriend?”  I thought I knew what I would have put but apparently, I decided to modify my answer.  Maybe I just put SMS since I haven’t dated anyone before him anyway. 

So, I had to drive down to Monterey to verify my identity.  The upside to this story is I realized Monterey is only 90 minutes away and I will definitely be going back.  I drove past the fruit stands and garlic ice cream of Gilroy, somehow avoiding the temptation.  Then as I approached Monterey, there were beautiful beaches on my left with the most enormous sand dunes.  I wanted to sled down them!

My time in Monterey itself was short and sweet.  The weather was beautiful and I got to take the scenic loop around the Navy Postgraduate School.  It really is a nice campus with pretty Spanish architecture, similar to Balboa Park albeit with a few modern classroom buildings.  This makes it very hard to find a specific destination since the buildings look the same and the signs are carefully hidden.  But eventually, I found the “trusted verifier” who reset my password to a temporary one and, undoubtedly, thinks very highly of my intelligence.

I had to get back to work for an appointment, otherwise I would have braved the summertime traffic to downtown.  I did make a brief stop at ACME coffee, a very firebrand coffee shop with delicious coffee.  I had an iced Vietnamese coffee that was awesome and totally woke me up.  I have pretty much cut out caffeine in the last few months to get ready for otology surgery so when I do drink it, I get pretty turbocharged.   Giving up coffee gives me the sads but SMS and I have been experimenting with some decaf varieties.  The taste is pretty much the same although subjectively, I feel like it is missing a little J’ne sais quoi.  Oh no, wait, I do know.  Caffeine.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Pt Reyes Magic

The old lighthouse, decommissioned in 1975
Pt Reyes is a gorgeous place for a road trip.  SMS and I went on a Tuesday in late June and wanted to go back on a day when the lighthouse and Cowgirl Creamery were open.  Linda and Rip had never been so we all decided to forgo the temptation of a Napa daytrip and headed northwest of San Francisco.
Do you see SMS?
I had heard about the daytrip on a NorCal lifestyle blog and it was nice to have a go-by to follow for the day.  We reached Pt Reyes by way of Lucas Valley Rd, which has beautful rolling hills and gorgeous groves of trees- redwoods, birch and eucalyptus.  There is an incredible rock with a tempting crack that SMS really wants to climb but since it's on private property with barbed wire on the fence, I would have to stand a really good lookout if we ever decided to pursue that dream of his!
The North view on Pt Reyes
First, we stopped in Pt Reyes Station.  After a long drive marked by prolonged periods of sitting, we were all understandably hungry due to the calories expended.  We went to Bovine Bakery where we purchased a morning roll and cookies.  We also purchased baguettes for our upcoming picnic.

Our ultimate destination was Tomales Bay Foods.  Ostensibly a market but really, it's dedicated to Cowgirl Creamery and all picnic accouterments to highlight the cheese eating experience.  The Red Hawk cheese is the only CC cheese (CCC?) made there; the rest are made at the corporate headquarters in Petaluma.   We all had a small cheese tasting consisting of Red Hawk, Mt Tam and the seasonal Pierce Pt with flowers and herbs in the rind.  They were all fantastic and we ended up with half-wheels of the Red Hawk and Pierce Pt, in addition to the Inverness, a spreadable, tangy cow's mild cheese.  I also added honeycomb and Marcona almonds to our grocery basket!

So many people!  No reservations, no eating at TBOC!
Our last stop in Pt Reyes Station was Palace Market for some water, paper plates, olives and fruit.  Finally, we were off to our main destination, Tomales Bay Oyster Company.  We had a feeling our plans might be slightly altered when we saw parked on the sides of the road approaching the area.  It was crazy crowded and all of the picnic tables were pre-reserved.  We decided to grab our oysters and go.  We ordered a dozen of the "smalls" (really more medium-sized to our untrained eyes) and a dozen of the extra-smalls.
Our awesome picnic site!
We briefly stopped at the park just down the road at Millerton Point but there weren't any picnic tables.  It would have been perfect if I had brought a large picnic blanket but since I thought we'd eat at TBOC, I hadn't brought it.  Instead, we headed back to Pt Reyes Station and ate at one of the shaded tables on the side of Tomales Bay Food.  It was an absolutely delightful setting and our picnic was amazing.

Best in-laws!
On the stairs and still smiling!

Afterwards, we piled into the car and drove out to Pt Reyes lighthouse.  It was open and we headed down the stairs to check it out.  The day was crystal clear and we had a brief park ranger-led tour in the inside of the lighthouse.  The trek up the stairs was slightly intense but doable.

Father and Son
After the lighthouse, we headed home along the 1.  We stopped at Stinson's beach and it's definitely a place I'd like to go to for an extended beach day.  It was a huge beach with fine, gorgeous, clean sand. There was a nice surf and although I'd need to get pretty warm to want to go in, I think it would be a great place to spend the day.
Stinson Beach
We headed back to San Francisco along windy roads that SMS had an awesome time navigating, sometimes in Sports mode.  He was having an awesome time.  We drove through the Presidio and decided to grab dinner in the city.  I found the Bella Trattoria on yelp and after a brief wait, we were seated despite it being a busy Saturday night.  The pasta dishes were amazingly fresh and really delicious.  We were really happy to have found it and it was a great meal to cap off the day.  Despite sitting in the car, we had walked quite a bit so that meant our carb-loading was necessary.  Seriously, thank goodness we found the place, otherwise we might have been in trouble!

First Houseguests!

This past weekend, Rip and Linda visited us in our new Mountain View home.  I was really excited to see them and it definitely gave us a kick-in-the-pants to make sure the apartment was ready.  And it was!  SMS and I did a really great job (I know, I know, I should hold the self-congratulations and sounds of one hand clapping).  We had unpacked everything and there were no boxes to be found in our apartment.  Although I certainly am not a minimalist, I'm pretty happy with the level of "stuff" we have given our current situation in life.  I know we move a lot but we're not constrained by costs and weight limits since we own about 1/4 of the maximum amount that would be covered by a Navy move.  Also, SMS and I both like keeping a (somewhat) reasonable amount of keepsakes and nostalgic items that may go someday, but not today!

That being said, SMS picked his parents up on Thursday and ended up spending part of the afternoon receiving our shipment from non-temporary storage.  Although he took them to San Jose's gorgeous rose garden, the storage unit is not high on the TripAdvisor's recommended "To-Do's" in Mountain View, but Rip and Linda were really nice about it.  That night, we went to Shellshock and had amazing oysters, a tuna tartare with jalapeno, a chicken/maple/bacon donut (ha ha, I ordered that!), fish 'n' chips and fish tacos.  We all shared the small plates and it was a great dinner.  My co-favorites were the oysters and the fish tacos.  Afterwards, we went to Gelato Classico for dessert to cap it all off.   It was unnecessary but delicious!

Friday, they had a great time driving out to Half Moon Bay and visiting the Twin Peaks Park in San Francisco.  I don't have too much to say about this since I was at work, but we had a great dinner at Cascal that night.  SMS and I had been eyeing it for awhile.  The Spanish appetizer assortment was pretty phenomenal and we shared it easily.  I would say it's best for 2-4 people.  There are two of every appetizer so if it were two people, you wouldn't have to halve everything but it would be hard to have anything else for dinner that night!  We split it and then had some paella, eggplant tartin and a small salad.  It was all delicious and I saw several things I'd like to go back for in the future.  No gelato that night...we're not animals!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Loving Mountain View!

SMS and I continue to have an awesome time in Mountain View. Work is going well and I was glad to get the first week under my belt.  Also, we found Moffett Field and its still functioning commissary last weekend.  Yeah!  How lucky is it to find a tax-free place for grocery shopping in NorCal?!

Hanger 1 with its outer covering removed, a former Naval Airship hanger
Friday night, I worked out at a nearby Pilates studio. I'm so happy to be doing Pilates again! Afterwards, we went to the Computer Science History Museum for a Friday night food truck and music event. We were there for the last hour so the music was done, but the food trucks were in full-force. There weren't a ton of healthy options (excuses!) and I picked the simultaneously amazing/terrible waffle chicken sandwich with a fried egg and bacon, accented by maple syrup. It was SO DELICIOUS!!!  

Shoreline Park
 Saturday morning, SMS and I headed to Shoreline Park where we walked along the trails circling the lake and bay.  We want to rent a tandem bike some weekend and picnic, but it requires slightly more planning than we had done that weekend.  It was really beautiful and I can't wait to go back.  We also walked along the outside of the historic Rengstorff home.  It's a house formerly owned by a big shipping magnate in the region, although it was moved to its current location several decades ago and fell into disrepair before being restored.  Now, it's a popular wedding site.

A study for the Burghers of Calais, a group of six leaders of Calais who volunteered to surrender
to King Edward III after a long siege.  Although they were to be executed, the were saved by
the intervention of Queen Phillipa.


After Shoreline, we went over to Stanford. We headed to the Cantor Arts Center and wandered in the Rodin Sculpture garden. It was really awesome.  My favorite Rodin museum is the one in Philadelphia but this one was also impressive.  It has one of the five casts of the Gates of Hell in existence, which is a masterpiece which recapitulates a lot of Rodin's themes and earlier sculptures within it.

We also went up the Stanford clock tower for the view. There was a moderate wait and a nominal $3 charge.  It was a great day- very clear and we could see all  the way to San Francisco.  Although we felt a bit rushed, it was a great sight and maybe we'll go back on a weekday.

Finally, we went to Philz Coffee where we tried a delicious iced coffee mojito.  I know, it sounds so weird but picture a mint mocha (delicious, right?), minus the mocha.  Despite taking away the chocolate, it somehow works and is so tasty and refreshing.  We walked to Trader Joe's and along the way, found a road sign to Opportunity Center.  Here's to that search!

That night, we had a nice BBQ with several friends from our apartment complex.  There was a great assortment of food and I got compliments on my cooking, which I'm always a sucker for!  I also ended up grilling the fish since the guy who brought it was not sure how to grill it and had put it on the grill as a whole fish but not wrapped in foil. I quickly filleted it while it was on the grill and it turned out beautifully and was so tasty. I hope Summer BBQs become a thing because there are really a great group of people here and so different from the medical types I'm so often (happily) surrounded by!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Happy 4th of July!

Phew! SMS and I have had a busy few days as we unpacked our household goods shipment which arrived on the first. I have gotten rid of a lot of extra crap, which I'm really happy about. I hadn't gone through stuff in awhile. It was difficult to donate goods in Japan so I promised myself I would do it here.
Unfortunately, that meant carrying out what had recently been carried in. This is unpleasant because we live on the third floor of a building with no elevator. But I have traded-in four boxes of books to the local used books store, sold a textbook on Amazon and dropped off six (6!) boxes of clothes/other goods to Goodwill. It's crazy that excess can be a source of stress because I know what a blessing this "problem" is but it was nice to simplify and recycle/donate/sell what I could rather than just junking stuff. 

Anyway, our apartment is shaping up nicely although not finished yet. Today, we spent a lot of time organizing but took a break to go rock climbing at the local gym. We'll get outside soon but for now, the gym it is. 

This evening, we had an amazing time with new friends we met at a community party last week. We went to the San Francisco orchestra show at the Shoreline Amphitheater. We had great picnic food, listened to beautiful music and had the best seats I've ever had for a fireworks show. It was incredible- we were basically right underneath them. We cycled to and from the Amphitheater which was an excellent call since traffic was terrible

The symphony was great too. The program was a mix of Patriotic songs, famous American composers (some immigrants), a Disney cartoon with live accompaniment and s sing-a-long to the Sound of Music. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed getting to know our new friends a little better. We live in a very international community here!