Good ideas observed in Europe

Greetings from the train!


It’s Labor Day Weekend I’m joining David at a work event tonight in Stockton and tomorrow we’re driving to Irvine. It’s a quick trip-and I’m nervous about the traffic-but excited to DRIVE home. I haven’t been able to do that since college.

Last year, we were in Europe for LDW. I’ve been thinking about that trip a lot this week. Last night I watched an episode of Rick Steeves Europe, just to pretend that it was a year ago and I was preparing for an adventure.

Scrolling through my notes from the trip, I found this list:

Things to take back from Europe:

1) make a pasta salad and have a picnic with wine in Navy Yard

2) have more croissants and pan au chocolate (Trader Joes)

3) take a break for tea in the afternoon

4) more drinking outside

5) sandwiches I want to recreate:

-biscuit, hardboiled egg, cheese and ham
-Swedish: roll, havarti, cucumber, red pepper, tomato
-roll, scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, tomato sauce

6) look for an Indonesian food

7) make porridge-make oatmeal with milk

8) more biking, more walking, more picnics

9) find a good North Indian restaurant

10) find a place that does afternoon tea

11) buy cheesecloth for juicing lemons, eventually get a lemon juicier

We’ve done a lot more picnicking and can check off #11-thank you wedding registry. The others-they make for a good autumn resolution list :)

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Camping was…

Actually, really great! We only camped for two nights and Shaiya basically planned everything, so I can’t pretend it was really roughing it. But we still slept outside, in tents-and it was freezing-there were no showers and we were at 8000 feet, so…definitely camping!

Yosemite was breathtaking. The location was also a first and I could not get over the beauty. Right here! Just a few hours away from Oakland.

Highlights from the trip:


Our incredible hosts. It was Sachin’s 30th and Shaiya’s been planning this surprise for months. Sachin thought he and Shaiya were going to Yosemite for a few days for a quiet getaway…and then on Friday-surprise! 9 of us showed up to crash the fun. Shaiya thought of everything-the logistics of all of this were impressive. On top of that, she and Sachin cooked all of the meals for all of us. Incredible stews, thai ginger tilapia, bacon and eggs, picnics-really-it was incredible and delicious.


(Birthday boy making a mean meat stew)

Waking up outside, in the sunshine.


We camped at White Wolf, and at that elevation the temperature DROPS at dramatically at night. It wasn’t the best sleep, but waking up, unzipping the tent pocket, and peaking out to the trees-a pretty neat way to greet the day.

Shaiya had a fire going first thing in the morning. It was so cozy to just meander over to their camp sight, pour some hot tea, and wake up by relaxing around the campfire, catching up and laughing with the group.



Cozy Melissa with her coffee :)

YOSEMITE. It’s unreal. I felt so much pride for Janou and her colleagues each time we passed a NPS sign or spoke with a ranger. The park just celebrated its 150th anniversary-and it looks great!

After breakfast on Saturday, Shaiya lined us up into two rows of chairs.
Not Hunger Games-but she was dividing us up into teams…for a scavenger hunt! Despite finishing first time wise, the other team had so many extra points that they won. Bummer. But really, we were all winners (cheese!) because the hunt took us all over the valley. It was an afternoon of jaw dropping views followed by a victory picnic for all:





(The final clue led us to a picnic area, where Shaiya greeted us with sandwiches and champagne. Really-she thought of everything.)

Swapping stories.

Any venue, trip, or situation, that lends itself to sitting around for hours, drinking wine, and just swapping stories, is pretty much an ideal night for me. And that was most of the weekend. This is a group that lovvvvves
to talk (TGs) and I love to listen. So, that’s what camping is, count me in for Sachin’s 31st.



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Cheers to 32!

These two cuties celebrated 32 years of marriage today:


Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! Thanks for all you’ve taught me about love, marriage, and especially laughter over the years. Cheers to 32! I love you!

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Camping-first time

Generally, with any type of travel, I spend hours pouring over websites and blogs, researching, making reservations and planning out the details of the trip. For whatever reason, with this trip, I’ve done none of that. We leave in two hours.

We’re going camping this afternoon-and it’s my first time. In dream world, the weekend would look like this:

But in real world, I only started to think about what to pack last night. And, shocking, our “integrative pharmacy” only sells all natural bug repellent. Here’s hoping the soothing lemongrass citronella balm wards off all enemy insects.* Also, with the move, I threw out all my old sweats and comfy clothes. So, I’ve got a backpack with a sock monkey onesie I won during a white elephant gift exchange, some workout clothes, and some all natural (the pharmacy sells no Purell, but they’ve every item of Say Yes! To Carrots) face wipes.

It’s just two nights. That should be ok, right?

*Mom, our friends who are organizing the trip and generously sharing their supplies, are very prepared. They have Deet. Please don’t worry. The trip is a surprise for a friend, so I was hesitant to write this, but since I’m pretty sure only you and Janou read this, safe to say the surprise is safe*

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Catherine in SF!

Catherine was in SF today for a hot second (literally-it was a 24 hour trip) and we got dinner tonight at the Ferry Building. I miss DC and being able to get dinner with her on a random Monday night. But it was great to pretend that was reality one again and enjoy Japanese tapas and good conversation after work!

I insisted on a selfie-


but thankfully a nice man took a proper photo:


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Weekend highlights

On BART heading back home after the first full weekend we’ve spent at home in a while.

Mom and Dad conquered their two week cross-country trip and delivered our car Thursday night. Thank you, Mom and Dad!!! On Friday, we all went to dinner at Osmanthus in our neighborhood. David and I checked it out last weekend, and it once again wowed us with its wild and interesting flavors-like fried chicken with anise peppercorns that left our tongues feeling numb! It was just very special to be with family our new neighborhood enjoying Friday dinner.

Yesterday turned into quite the South Bay Day. We met up with Manaf, Vic and Devon at the Annex at St. Michaels Alley for brunch in Palo Alto. The restaurant was sunny and bright and it was great to catch up with them over salty salmon eggs benedict. The last time we were all together was three years ago for brunch at a Cuban restaurant near Columbia. It was great to hear the interesting things that they’re all up to-and we all toasted to living in California again:


After walking around downtown Palo Alto we made our way to Molly and John’s engagement party. The weather was lovely-I just never want to get so used to the beautiful, humidity free sunshine that I forget to relish it. It was a beautiful party and such a pleasant surprise to see so many happy friends.


To cap off South Bay Day, we drove to Melissa and John’s in Mountain View. It was Fantasy Football Draft night and absolutely hilarious to see David and his friends huddled around the living room, hunched over their laptops, drafting their picks. I enjoyed several glasses of Malbec and Melissa’s awesome peanut butter chocolate brownies.

This afternoon, we metroed into SF to try a burrito place David was curious about. It was pretty good, but I think I prefer Gordos.


It was a surprisingly gorgeous and sunny day so we decided to walk over to Golden Gate Park. The fog rolled in once we got there, but we tucked into the Conservatory for they Carnivorous Plants exhibit. Real life Little Shop
of Horrors. It was awesome.



Mr. Bress, Beth and Courtney met up with us in the park and we walked around the museums, watched a pretty wild rollerblade performance, and made our way to a sports bar close-by. It was a perfect way to end a weekend filled with catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while-in a cozy bar with a bloody mary :)

Cheers to a good weekend to kick off the busy week ahead!

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Oh, It is Love

The incredibly talented Michael Bromberg shared our wedding video yesterday and it’s awesome.

He captured so many highlights of the day-I don’t know how he did it-so much talent!

When he asked for music suggestions, I was a bit shy-I have admittedly no knowledge of good music-but the first thing that jumped to mind is Hellogoodbye’s Oh, It is Love. 2007 Fay and David listened to that song a lot when we first started dating.

It was a very happy surprise to hear God Only Knows as the second song. I walked down the aisle to Love Actually’s PM’s Love Theme, and I loved the way he included another gorgeous song from that special movie.

So, it’s only Thursday, but this week already rules:

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Afternoon in Sacramento

On the train from Sacramento to Oakland, and enjoying the gorgeous views of the water. Getting a bit of a DC policy fix just by being in the city and walking around the Capitol. I’ve been eavesdropping on my neighbor’s conversations-“is he a Tea Party Republican or a Arlen Specter Republican?” and this gem-“ughhh…health policy is so 2010″ and I’m LOVING it. I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve missed being surrounded by policy buzz and conversation since moving to Oakland.

So clearly, I basically leaped at the chance to go to a hearing this afternoon in Sacramento. It was a great opportunity to put faces to names and learn more about the advocacy community. Just so refreshing to be in the policy-zone-I felt energized just walking around.

Also special bonus-with train + hearing schedule, I got to Sacramento about an hour before the hearing, so that meant I could get lunch with Molly! Molly is literally one of my oldest college friends-I think we met even before classes officially started freshman year. She also recently experienced a big move and it just made me so happy to be able to meet up with a friend for lunch and catch up.

Here’s hoping for more opportunities to go to Sacramento. For now, excited
for this train to hurry on home. David and I have been married for month today, and we’re celebrating with Zachary’s pizza-hooray!


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Live the Wage

A few weeks ago, CAP’s Half in Ten project challenged it’s readers to Live the Wage. For one week, try living on $77-the average take-home pay of an individual who works full-time and earns minimum wage.

I knew I would be unsuccessful at Living the Wage, but I was surprised by how spectacularly I failed. $77 flies by. I had already purchased groceries (thank goodness for CA’s cheap produce) and I have a pretty cheap commute. Still, the $77 was gone before the week was up. For a one week challenge, that’s fine, but what about the 16.5 million people working full-time on $77 a week? Who are trying to support a family? And children and grandchildren?

There’s a certain gimmick element to the Live the Wage campaign-even calling it a campaign-that makes me uncomfortable. It is a privilege to do it as a challenge, however, this is reality for millions of families. Governor Strickland wrote about it a few weeks ago, and he highlights the importance of raising the wage to help millions who live in poverty. Millions who are working in full-time jobs, are working in poverty.

There’s so many layers to helping end poverty for families in our community, but when someone is working, it only seems reasonable that they are paid a salary that offers a life of dignity and health. That kind of a life is becoming increasingly more expensive, and as that happens, and many, many businesses large and small reap benefits, shouldn’t those who are working to drive these businesses be able to live in dignity and comfort?

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Honeymoon :)

On the train to Stockton and scrolling through photos. Wanted to note the happy highlights from our honeymoon to Santa Barbara :)

We stayed at the W the night of the wedding and the hotel was so generous. They upgraded us to a gorgeous suite, so in full celebrity mode, we ordered room service for breakfast Sunday morning. After watching Argentina lose in the World Cup-it would have been too perfect to have all the stars collide-we made our way to Santa Barbara.

I loved walking up to the hotel thinking, eek! We’re married! On our honeymoon!


We picked Santa Barbara because it was beautiful, convenient, and for me, sentimental. It was a delightful surprise to find that SB is also a total destination for incredible food.

Bouchon was absolutely the most romantic meal of the trip. It’s dripping with candles, cozy tables, beautiful fabrics, and the service was amazing.


Monday morning brought a cloudy forecast, so we decided to hold off on the beach. We rented cruisers and explored the Mission, Courthouse, and State Street:




Turned out the cloudy forecast wasn’t just for the morning-SB was socked in fog for our whole trip. Bummer! We’ll just have to save the poolside sun soaking for another trip.

I was still pretty buzzed from all the wedding adrenaline, but quickly slipped into a vacation routine: afternoon drinks at the pool, wine on the patio, and a fancy dinner downtown:




Dinners at Finch and Fork and Cielito were also delicious. Cielito had incredible sopesito sliders!


After dinner Tuesday, we took a “sunset” cruise. We had the whole boat to ourselves! Maybe it had something to do with there being no sun to set…Actually, it was awesome. We sat on the deck (? front part of the boat) and I’m pretty sure the background music was just Now! That’s What I Call Music Soft Rock 2002-lots of Howie Day and Coldplay. It was hilarious (and romantic!)


Later that night, we enjoyed wine and the fire pits. Then, it was one more hotel breakfast before we were on the road for our last day-driving Big Sur to Carmel.



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