Friday, April 26, 2013

Carmel and Big Sur

Another weekend, another out-of-town adventure!
My lil sister returned to the states after 3.5 months abroad, where she was volunteering.  She arrived home late last week, so we welcomed her home...and sort of repeated our Easter weekend festivities so she wouldn't have to miss out any longer on those fun days!

We hiked at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park again, wanting to show her McWay Falls.  We picked an equally great day to visit:

On the drive down to Big Sur, we stopped a few times to see various wildlife.  Below is as zoomed in as I could get to several seal pups.  Not entirely sure if they are harbor seals or elephant seals, but they were really loud!  They were jumping in and out of the water.

We also saw numerous turkey vultures.

A few locals had their scopes on a California condor, but my photos didn't turn out, it was really far away.

But then on the hike back from the falls, we saw what we think was a second condor!  These guys have a 9-foot wing span.  And they are rare, so we were pretty impressed by the sightings.

Finally, to round out the nature scenes for the weekend, Sunday morning we went bodysurfing at Carmel Beach and caught some great waves.  And half-way through the session, W saw out of the corner of his eye something grey jump out of the water.  He said he thought it was either a surfer jumping off his board into the air, or a dolphin jumping in the waves.  Sure enough, a few seconds later we saw a pod of dolphins swimming closer to us, riding in the waves.  There were two really small dolphins and three adults; later a few more joined for a total of 8 or so.  The pod swam north and south along the coast and both times they passed by, they were incredibly close to us!  We don't think we have ever seen the dolphins in so close to shore; it was an absolutely incredible experience!

Anyway, fun weekend and great nature sights in Carmel and Big Sur.  This Spring weather has been such a treat.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wacky Wednesday

It has been a little while since the Greyhound stopped by to show off her latest fashion.
A head scarf--perfect for the sunny and breezy weather today.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Asparagus Risotto

Spring is here!
In all honestly, this is about as warm as SF gets.
So count this as Spring, Summer, and Fall warm weather...

In honor of the delicious Spring produce and warmer weather, M and I hosted a Virtual Dinner Party last month, and we cooked Asparagus Risotto.

Simply Recipes' description of asparagus risotto sounded like a perfect way to welcome the new seasonal produce and try our hand at a more difficult dish, all while catching up over Facetime and planning our next in-person visits.

The result was incredibly creamy, and the asparagus provided the perfect bite to counteract the soft risotto.  We will both be making this again!  Check out the recipe and give it a try.

Another highlight of my night is that M added a cork to her collection.  She has started a cork collection, like ours, with memorable events written onto each experience's wine cork.  I'm honored to have made her collection!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Capitola: Roller Coasters

Time to wrap up the Capitola getaway weekend.  No waves, plenty of food, and finally: roller coasters!

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has been there forever.  Growing up, I remember hearing ads on the radio hyping parties at the club, Cocoanut Grove(sic).  I remember the end of their jingle--"At the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk / in the warm California sun."  Even our coke cans had dollar-off coupons for the all-day rides bracelets or something like that.  I competed at Santa Cruz State Beach in open water swimming and paddleboard races, right at the base of the Boardwalk year after year growing up, and I still don't think I had ever been TO the Boardwalk before!

Something about the Boardwalk seemed playful and irresistible on Sunday afternoon, after we were full from brunch and lamenting the lack of waves.
(Actually, why did we think roller coasters sounded like a good idea when we were full from brunch?)

So we actually started with a game of mini-golf.  The theme: PIRATES.  I love pirates. I was totally on board.  We picked up our clubs and glow-in-the-dark golf balls and hit the pirate ship.

Will beat me, but I think I held my own okay.  I was loving the hilarious details of the course.  This is a pirate mannequin who climbs up and down this ship rope:

Three of the holes were in the dark, in the hold of the ship.  Good thing for glow-in-the-dark golf balls!  My stripes glowed in the dark like a pirate shirt, so I fit in perfectly with the rest of the crew.

Sinking pirate
 After I lost mini-golf, we bought tickets to ride the Giant Dipper and the Fireball.

The Giant Dipper was thrilling and terrifying.  I quickly brought my hands from up in the air, down to grab securely to the bar in front of me, and I didn't let go.  I love scary roller coasters, but that one was really scary.  

After letting our stomachs settle for a few minutes, we lined up for the Fireball.  This ride was not terrifying, but it was really thrilling.  Going upside down and spinning around was incredibly fun.

I'm so glad that after so many years of hearing about the Boardwalk, I finally got to ride.  We had a blast!

And the people-watching was amazing, as you might imagine.
Fun weekend.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Capitola: Eat, Drink, Repeat

Without many waves, we occupied ourselves with eating and roller coasters last weekend.

The weekend was pretty full of great food.

Saturday morning started off with a new recipe:
Dutch Baby, recipe from America's Test Kitchen

We hit the road.  A couple hours later I saw this huge cloud of smoke and shrieked at Will to roll down his window to catch the cloud of hickory and barbecue smells.  He seemed as excited as I was, so we made a U-turn and ordered ribs and tri-tip at Cole's BBQ.  Carolina memories.

That evening, we were anxious to check out Discretion Brewing, a month-old brewery in Capitola (walking distance from our hotel...I'm smart like that.)

The brewers pair their six beers with various beer-inflused, tapas-style plates created by the farm-to-table cafe next-door.  We started at the bar and moved to a table near the patio as the evening went on, and we had a really enjoyable and relaxing night.  Our favorites were Uncle Dave's Rye IPA, On the Porch Pale, and the Shimmer Pils.  Such great beers, and an impressive experience for a one-month-old restaurant.

We wrapped up the night with stops at El Toro Bravo and Paradise Grille and Bar.  We were too late to test out Capitola's ice cream parlor before they closed, which disappointed us greatly.

Sunday morning after a run near the ocean, we ended up at Gayle's Bakery for brunch.  Gayle's is an old family favorite--they even baked our wedding cake--so it was a fun return that morning for coffee, hot chocolate, and lots of Gayle's treats.  FYI: don't tell Will that 10am is too early to eat blackberry pie!


Next up: we hit the Beach Boardwalk!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Capitola: the Ocean

As I mentioned, we did not luck out with good surf during our weekend in Capitola and Santa Cruz.

But we did spend a fair amount of time near the ocean, and here is the best reward for that time spent:

(I don't think I've posted a video before...check it out here for better quality, or if the embedded video doesn't play.)

This sea otter was in mussel heaven--he had found a gold mine of mussels, and we watched for about 30 minutes as he pried each one off the rocks, dove down to grab a cracking rock from the ocean bottom, and whacked the mussel against the rock balanced on his chest to get to the meat.  It was so cool to watch up close (especially for W, who thought otters were akin to unicorns the first time he visited Monterey--we had trouble spotting any!)

We laughed that his head always tipped back into the water when he was whacking the mussel against the rock.

We haven't had good luck the last several times we've tried to bodysurf, but hopefully we'll catch better waves the next couple times we try.

It was still a beautiful weekend to be by the ocean!

California Poppies

Sunday, April 14, 2013


We got away this past weekend for an extended birthday celebration in Capitola.  Lake Santa Cruz (ha) didn't provide any waves to bodysurf, but we filled the weekend with some great food and beer, time by the ocean, a brewery tour, bbq, and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, instead.

Details to follow!

Hope your week is off to a good start.

{Happy Birthday, Sister!}

Friday, April 12, 2013


Happy Friday!

We're still in full celebration mode over here...planning to continue the party through the weekend.  I should be back with some stories and photos after a mini getaway we have planned.

In the mean time, have a wonderful weekend!

Cows Drinking    Big Sur, CA    

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Birthday Boy

Happy, Happy Birthday to my #1 dude!

If only I could think of a birthday present to make you as happy as you are here:

27ish years ago?

I can't wait to celebrate with you tonight and through the weekend!

2012 Birthday Wishes

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Virtual Dinner Party

I'm a little behind in the documentation of my virtual dinner parties.  It's aways more fun to host than to post about them...

A month ago we had a Chicago - San Francisco dinner party over facetime, complete with a custom cocktail and a satisfying dinner that happened to be on the lighter side.

This cool and fresh-looking drink below is a cucumber-rosemary gin and tonic!  

Our co-host walked us through the muddling of the cucumber and rosemary in a squeeze of lime, we shook that with the gin and built the rest of the G&T on top.  I prefer cocktails on the less-sweet side, and this delivered.  A perfectly fresh take on an old favorite.

While the G&T was coming together, we were prepping the veggies and dressing for Tuscan Bread Salad.  This recipe popped up on my radar a month or so ago, and ever since making it together at this dinner party, it has found its way into our regular rotation.  We even served it alongside Easter dinner last weekend!

This salad is a standout.  The roasted bread drizzled with olive oil and cut into croutons, the salty olives, and creamy goat cheese (which we used in place of mozzarella) added a unique flavor to an otherwise standard salad base.  The homemade dressing called for basil and thyme from my herb garden and a shallot, that ingredient that always brings such great flavor to savory dishes.  We made a double-batch of the salad dressing, storing the remainder in a jar in the fridge, and we used the dressing on salad greens the rest of the week!

Click here for the full recipe.

This was a great one.
Cheers to more VDPs!

Monday, April 8, 2013


That was an awesome weekend...

Saturday morning we intended to go bodysurfing, but the conditions once we arrived at Ocean Beach weren't as ideal as the predictions we wondered around Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park and returned home to make homemade pasta.


I had my 10k race Sunday morning.  The temperature was perfectly crisp, with the sun peeking out from behind the clouds.  I beat my goal time by over a minute, so (after making it through those first few minutes spent doubled-over at the finish-line,) I was a very happy camper.  It didn't hurt that W thought to bring me the proven best post-recovery drink for after the race (actually 2 of 'em).

In fact, I spent the entire rest of the day "recovering."  Hot chocolate and a donut at Java Beach Cafe definitely aided recovery.  So did a latte from Trouble Coffee.  Then brunch at Outerlands.

"Eggs in Jail"

A pedicure late in the day certainly contributed to recovery--the mini calf-massage was amazing.

There was lots of relaxing, guitar-playing, and some of our current favorite, Drake's 1500, in the mix.
We cooked our traditional Sunday family dinner, where chef + sous chef teamed up in the kitchen for a sausage and veggie lasagna.

It was a memorable weekend--one that is going to power me through the work-week, I can tell!

Happy Monday!