Sunday in Healdsburg

Ever since we moved back to California, I’ve been wanting to check out Healdsburg. I visited it a few months before moving, as part of a work retreat, and was in awe of the gorgeous scenery. It’s not a terribly long drive from our apartment, but it’s a pretty traffic clogged route, so it requires some commitment for a day trip.

With the Super Bowl in Santa Clara on Sunday, I was hopeful the usual wine country crowds might be preoccupied, so we decided to venture up to Sonoma on Sunday morning. 

  
It was a good day to go.  The sun was out, it was warm, and verrrrrry quiet in downtown Healdsburg.  The downtown is full of tasting rooms and little restaurants that sit around a pretty park.  On Saturday, while walking around Jack London Square, I stopped by Oakland Crush to ask for recommendations for a day in Healdsburg.  The very nice owner recommended three places: Shed, David Family Vineyards, and Medloc Ames

Shed is exactly the kind of place I want to roll my eyes at (artisanal rakes and garden supplies, pour over coffee bar) but it’s all so tasteful and beautifully displayed, I totally loved it.  There is something about the big windows and breezy feel that frees it from the judgy, over-the-topness that overwhelms at other “curated” purveyors of “bespoke” goods. 

  
We followed the Oakland Crush Agenda, which led us to Davis Family Vineyards on the Russian River.

This wine was GOOD.  The tasting was quite generous and everything was delicious.  It was nice and quiet and it was fun to learn about a family run winery.

On our way to lunch, we walked by beautiful Barndiva.  It too fancy for us, but I had to take a photo to remember for someday.


Beignets at the Parish Cafe sounded too good not try try, and we sat out on their pretty yellow porch and enjoyed lunch before heading up the 101 to Medloc Ames.  

  


Medloc Ames is AWESOME.  The tasting room is in the Alexander Valley, and driving down the sunny valley road from the freeway feels like a real escape.  The tasting is on the patio of the bar looking out at the valley. AND they pair cheese with each tasting and the wine is delicous.
  
We listened to the first quarter of the game on the drive and enjoyed the rest of the Super Bowl at home.  Hope to do some more exploring in Healdsburg soon!

  

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Filed under California Discoveries, Marriage, Travel

Welcome to my house

Today, David and I picked up and delivered the first piece of furniture that will eventually go in our new house.  

We bought the house back at the end of August, but I’ve been too cautious to write anything and generally reluctant to talk about it.  My reasoning: I Don’t Want to Get Excited Because Something Bad Might Happen.  This mentality, an overpowering and absolutely horrible way to approach life, is not healthy.  Walking around the house today, I felt very excited (and totally overwhelmed) and realized I’m tired of this fear of something terrible happening holding me back from looking forward to good things.

So, this is our little fixer upper! It’s a sweet little craftsman bungalow that needs a TON OF WORK in a cute little neighborhood and I’m incredibly excited and stressed by the whole process of buying it, redoing it and eventually (hopefully) moving in to it.

I’m grateful when I walk around inside, peak out the window in the kitchen, and imagine what it will be like to live there.  It is unnerving to walk inside, see the house stripped down to the studs, with dust and beams everywhere, and wonder–is this ever going to be habitable? It is exciting to pour through Apartment Therapy and home magazines, daydreaming about about farm sinks, floating vanities, and actually having a dishwasher (!!!!) in our home.  It is scary to wonder, is moving a good decision?  Why did we decide to renovate a quirky quirky old house when we have no idea what we’re doing?

Our contractor has made significant progress on the renovation, but there is still so much to do before we can move.  I hate not knowing exactly when we’ll move, or if everything will work out, but trying, trying, to be patient, enjoy the process, and not be so afraid.

This morning, we picked up a bed and desk for the spare room from my kind colleague who was moving and getting rid of some furniture.  As we were leaving Rockridge, driving to our house in Stockton, David turned on the radio in the cargo van rental, looked at me and smiled, “well, isn’t this the perfect song to start this drive to our house?” :)

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Filed under Family, Marriage

Are we grownups? 

Over the weekend, in Sacramento with our friends, we had one of those conversations where you realize you’re all getting a little bit older.

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The pretty American river in Sacramento in the fall

We were swapping stories of our first few years after college-stories of visiting Eric, Molly, Jon and Melissa in Boston, David’s years in Connecticut before Baltimore-and we had a collective moment of, “wow, can you believe we all used to live there? That time seems like so long ago.” It is a long time ago-we graduated 9 years ago this fall.  Our long history of friendship made sitting around the Stevens dinning table, sharing stories over breakfast, particularly sweet.

The other indicator our twenties are so over? Our conversation. No joke, we somehow covered all of the following over the course of the weekend: 401(k) rollovers, tax planning, life insurance policies, health insurance policies, employee benefit packages, long-term care challenges (sorry guys, always guilty of bringing up that downer), and more.  It was a good kick in the pants to come home and tackle some of those items that had been lingering on my mental to-do list.

It wasn’t allll intense grown up talk.  We went to a pancake breakfast, enjoyed some wine tasting in downtown Folsom, and played mini-golf before settling into an evening of Fibbage (my new favorite game).  Eric and Molly are amazing hosts and I treasure these weekends of fun, nostalgic (and productive!) conversation together.

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Sunday night

Spent an inordinate amount of time this weekend scrolling through photos of the DC storm, remembering fun snow days, and watching Tian Tian have the time of his life.   

Snowmaggedon, Federal Hill, 2010

Here in Rockridge, it was a sunny-ish weekend, and a break from the much needed rain. Friday night, David and I met up after work at Duende for restaurant week-such a treat.

After running house errands in San Leandro, we swung by Lake Merritt to finally check out the Gardens.   

 
So peaceful and green :)

But the absolute highlight of the weekend was hanging out with sweet baby Georgia! 

 

  Her beautiful eyes!!
 photosbyJohn

She’s adorable and just incredibly sweet.

 

Kirstin and Brian had us over for dinner, and it was such a cozy, fun night with wonderful friends.

This afternoon, Heather organized lunch for Stephanie’s birthday, and we met up at  Lolo’s in the Mission. The croissant French toast was unreal-I’ve been searching for a recipe all afternoon.  This one looks pretty close. Later this afternoon, Kelly hosted a delicious ADPi Nee Year’s potluck-a very nice way to end the weekend. 

We just watched this week’s Downton-the quarrel between Isobel and Lady Grantham!  And so happy Tom returned.  Checked out the giant Downton Abbey book from the library-that was a delight to carry on BART-and excited to start reading it soon.

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Filed under California Discoveries

Florence and Rome

In the last week, I’ve daydreamed/planned pretend vacations to Maui, London, Madrid, and Buenos Aires.  Guess I’m feeling antsy to travel.  For now, on this cozy, rainy, Saturday morning, I’ll reminisce about the last two days of our Thanksgiving trip-in Florence and Rome.

Saturday morning, we took an earrrrlyish train to Florence.  The ride was efficient and pretty-I loved seeing the views of the green countryside.  Soon enough, we were in Florence!

We walked around the Florence Cathedral before heading to the Galleria dell’ Accademia.

Man, he is impressive.  These two ladies were having too much fun examining the David from all angles :)

After admiring Mr. Davinci’s talents, we climbed the Duomo.  The climb isn’t bad but the tight stairs are not for the clausterphobic faint  of heart.  Had one of many “how on earth did they did they build this, centuries before modern engineering?” moments of marvel.

Spent some time taking in the fresh air and  admiring the spectacular view of the city.

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Florence’s architecture and streets are so different from Rome, so much more unified. We left the city center and walked and walked, determined to try some Florentine bistecca.

Killing time (I’ll always cringe and associate the Phantom Tollbooth with that expression) before our reservation, we stumbled on the Florence Botanical Gardens, and admired the grounds.
  

So much beautiful art and architecture…but the REAL masterpiec: Trattoria Antica da Tito. Ohh myyyyy goodness.  First, the atmosphere. A room of Florentines, throwing back bottles of red wine, laughing, singing, and sinking into a long winter lunch. Then, the food! We quickly acclimated to the slow, have a bottle of wine with lunch culture, and we were relaxed and hungry when this sizzling T-Bone arrived. We sat for hours, lapping it all up.

At one point, the table behind us rose to their feet, and broke out into song.  Pretty soon, the whole restaurant was singing! As we left, we asked the host if he knew about the special occasion the men behind us were celebrating. “Those guys? Nothing special. Just a bunch of farmers escaping their wives.” Ha!

Eventually, we walked back to city center, eager to see a few more sights before the train.  We wandered through the Uffizi, admired the Birth of Venus, and David found some more Grecco-Roman curled brethren.

We walked around the Ponte Vecchio and through a little Christmas market, and it all felt very special to be there together.

And pretty soon we were on a train back to Rome! Our last day greeted us with warmer weather and abundant sunshine. We enjoyed one last delicious Hotel Brittania breakfast before walking to the Coliseum.

Listening to Rick Steve’s audio guide describe the historic gore and violence makes me hesitant to say it’s a beautiful place, but it is certainly impressive. More marveling at their architectural brilliance.

From there we walked through the Forum.


  

AMAZING. Think this was my favorite historical site. It’s so well preserved, and you can almost imagine the buzz of standing in the center of commerce, government and religion. There’s still such vibrancy despite its incredible age. I loved it.

Eventually, we made our way across the Tiber back to Trastevere for one last long Roman lunch at Le Mani in Pasta.

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It was a Sunday, and yet again a long, leisurely, Prosecco and pasta lunch. The best thing, again, was everyone around us was doing the same thing. Relaxed Romans, truly enjoying the weekend together. And no phones at the table!

Finally, it was time to say goodbye to pretty Trastevere and Italy and head to the airport.  We spent the night in Stockholm and flew back to Oakland that afternoon.

On the plane, we jotted down our food superlatives:

Best supporting dish: Pumpkin soup, Barrique (Fay), Meat ravioli, Trattoria Antica da Tito (David)

Dish to recreate at home: Amatriciana sauce, Andrea’s cooking class (Fay), Make homemade pasta (David)

Most unexpected or surprising flavor: Ginger drink, Tehran Grill (Fay), Coronette with Nutella at breakfast (David)

Best all around dish: Tortellini ala griccia, Mani de Pasta (David) Amatriciana, Mani de Pasta (Fay)

Best all around experience: Trattoria Antica da Tito

So grateful for the trip and already daydreaming about more travel!

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