Monthly Archives: January 2016

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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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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Three day weekend 

As we were driving across the bridge this morning, the clouds were breaking up over the Bay, This song came on the radio-the station had a special playlist for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  It was a beautiful moment to pause and think about history, the 1960s, and Dr. King.

Always appreciate a long weekend, and this one was particularly quiet and RAINY.  Cannot adequately describe how reassuring it is to hear the rain, feel cozy and see green trees and hillsides.  

Tried Johnston’s Saltbox for the first time for Saturday brunch with Kirstin and Melissa.  The food was delicious, but I realllly loved the design.  Simple, airy and light-very comfortable.  Laughing over brunch was a nice, refreshing start to the weekend.  And, a special bonus–since I was on the Penninsula, I got to stop by Max’s house and see Max and Janou!!

Yesterday, David and I braved IKEA. In the rain. On a Sunday, mid-day. Actually, it was pretty painless and dare I say enjoyable? The thing is, I actually love browsing IKEA and often find it comforting and inspiring.  We didn’t have a major agenda, so the whole trip was fairly simple and meltdown free (though we witnessed several meltdowns.  IKEA seems to rival Disneyland in tantrums per capita).  It’ll likely be a different story in a few weeks when we have to make house decisions, but for now, it was kind of fun.

Janou and Max came over for dinner last night and it was SO nice to have them here.  After stopping by on Saturday, and having a cozy dinner with them on Sunday, it just felt so natural, like when we all lived in the same city. Very grateful Janou is able to take these trips so we can all be together.

This morning, we woke up to sunshine and decided to finally escape the cozy and get outside.  We packed a picnic and drove out to Muir Woods. It seems like the rest of the Bay Area had the same idea (it was a free admission day) and the park entrance was PACKED.  The crowds thinned out after the boardwalk, and we enjoyed a peaceful walk through the trees.



After the walk, we asked one of the rangers for picnic suggestions.  She recommended driving up to Muir Beach Overlook.  After a few miles winding up Highway 1, we arrived at spectacular oceanside views.  Even with the cold and clouds, picnicking with this background was pretty awesome.


And now, time to get ready for a new week! We caught up on Downton Abbey-!!! The Carson’s wedding! And the surprise guest at the end!! David and I both actually screamed, it was so exciting.  And, Massimo Bottura’s description of pasta and parmesan in the first episode of Chef’s Table inspired me to try out our new pasta maker. Thanks to that little pasta roller, tonight’s tagliatelle with pesto chicken was a delicious way to end the weekend.

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Fired up…

Once again, moved by President Obama’s beautiful valedictory final SOTU. After the speech, rewatched this inspiring clip about Edith Child’s getting Obama Fired Up and Ready to Go.  

   via

“I see it in the elderly woman who will wait in line to cast her vote as long as she has to…That’s the America I know. That’s the country we love. Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Undaunted by challenge. Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

Thankful for this president and the incredible people who work for him and keep him fired up.  Thanks for reminding us of our clear-eyed, big-hearted, beautiful country.

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Winter weekends

  
from a 2014 snowstorm on our old street in DC

A few years ago, around daylight savings time, I remember Katie saying how excited she was it was going to get dark early.  I looked at her like she was crazy-why on earth would anyone be ok with it getting darker earlier?

This winter, starting to get it. I think she’s right.  Summer seemed to drag on a bit and after a while, the longer days do mess with the whole circadian rhythm thing. It’s nice to put on candles (or a Netflix fire) in the evening and feel the transition time before a new day.

We’re still early in January, wrapped up in that new year-fresh start-resolution goodness, and I’m sure as winter drags on I’ll be eager for evening sunshine. But for now, I’m kind of enjoying it. Plus, “winter” here is so hardly an event, it makes it easy.

This winter weekend was a nice, low key, stay close to home, weekend.  Taryn was in town and it was wonderful to catch up and share in the excitement of her wedding plans and future. On Saturday, we had our work holiday party, and it is always nice to hang out and relax outside the office. Also, I love celebrating the holidays into January-it helps delay any winter blues. Last night, Alex and Rebecca came over to dinner because they live here now!! After years of a cross-Atlantic friendship they’re back CA. It’s awesome to have a relaxed dinner, catch up and know we’ll see each other again soon.

And now, time to start the new week! 

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