Sunday Soliloquy, #1

A new feature to serve as a round-up for thoughts and lessons of the week.  Since a soliloquy is the “act of talking to oneself,”  it’s the perfect word for my low-readership blog!

  • Culinary lesson of the week: Shred your own cheese!  A friend of a friend who’s a former chef said that he always sheds his own cheese.  I thought it was because of the dryness with more exposed surface area but he said he dislikes the additives used to prevent clumping (dextrose).  Now that I’ve learned that, I can’t untaste the powder in my current bags of cheese.
  • Swedish Death Cleaning.  After disparaging/mocking the KonMari method to my sister last night, I think this method might be better.  My main issue with the KonMari method is that it’s hard to only focus on joy when decluttering.  One, I don’t love the chore of organizing and two, there are a lot more emotions tied up with belongings than joy/not-joy.  Swedish Death Cleaning can also apply to moving and since I’m hoping to move next Summer, I think this will be helpful.  Now, all of my adult possessions fit into a one-bedroom apartment so I don’t think I’m too much of a hoarder, but my wardrobe and trip souvenir detritus could use a little pruning.
  • California Day Trip Idea: Point Lobos Loop Trail  This looks beautiful!
  • Blog Goals: I really want to focus on itineraries for places.  I feel like I plan trips really well and maybe I can show that you really can fit a lot in without being super-stressed.  I don’t feel stressed on my trips- I love them!  I’m taking a fiction writing class and I had a “fictional” itinerary that received the feedback that obviously it was overly ambitious and that would be a good plot point to create conflict when the itinerary didn’t happen.  Well, false!  It totally can.  Although for my fiction writing, I think the feedback actually has merit for creating an interesting story.
  • Online Shopping High/Low: So, I bought a grill pan from Williams-Sonoma (discount!) and I grilled a perfect steak with instructions from my meat CSA (no, I’m not kidding about the existence of a meat CSA).  So, it was awesome except grilling inside produces about as much smoke as grilling outside so my apartment becomes quite smoky.  The birds don’t seem to mind though- probably because I’m not cooking chicken?
  • Do YOU want instructions on perfect indoor grilling?  Below is a screenshot from the CSA newsletter (although I recommend a 3 minute sear on each side instead of 90 seconds because it was ahi tuna-style raw initially and had to go back into the oven).Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 8.20.56 AM

Bird Update: This is why we can’t have nice things

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Keeping an eye on the neighbors…

I have always wanted to be crafty.  That is, crafty as in Martha Stewart, not crafty as in nefarious plotter.  I have had many craft fails although the number has fallen in recent years as I have realized, I am usually epitomize Pinterest Fail.  My last Pinterest Fail was just before my wedding.  Inspired by many twee DIY wedding posts, I decided to have styrofoam purple globes that would hold an assortment of sushi-shaped lollipops since at the time, SMS and I were about to move to Japan.  Well, armed with a can of purple spray paint, I optimistically battled my inner proclivity for failed crafts and sprayed away.  I lost the battle.  Looking at the sad, porous, unevenly colored purple globe, I decided that the sushi lollipops would look just fine spread out on a table.  And that was that.

Until recently!  I had some paper globes from Flying Tiger obtained on the Scandanavian Summer trip.  I glued them to an Ikea lampshade I had and it looked great.  But, as you may have guessed from the title, the birds have attacked.

Before getting into the story, quick update!  All the birds are great.  I even got to pet Harry Potter bird the other day, which was awesome although I was worried I would get nipped the entire time.  Whenever I go on a trip, I always put out enough food and when I get back, I always look at the bottom of the cage to make sure there are not one (or more) set of little bird feet pointed to the sky.  So far, so good.

The birds are allowed out of their cage and until recently, hung out on the top of the cage.  Now they have found the lampshade and have wreaked havoc.  Parakeets really like to chew paper.  Pro-parakeet blogs say it is because parakeets are smart and need to occupy their time.  Well, I have four little dum-dums here, but they still like to chew paper.  So, now, photographic evidence of their destruction…

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Innocent faces
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I don’t know what you’re talking about!
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Nothing to see here!
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Caught in the act!

In addition to eating the globes, they also poop on them.  This is not a surprise because they already perch over the food and water dishes and poop in those.  This is basically my main premise for thinking that these parakeets are not the smartest.

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So, that’s it for the (bird) siblings update.  Next time, adventures in the bird bath!

CA Weekend: Wooden Spoon, Windy Hill, Rose Garden

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SMS and I had another amazing California weekend!  The weather was gorgeous and we spent a lot of time outside.  On Saturday, we started off in San Francisco at the Wooden Spoon.  It’s located next to the Swedish-American Hall and has some Swedish-inspired dishes for breakfast/lunch/brunch.  I got the most Swedish dish of Swedish pancakes with lemon curd and lingonberry preserves.  It was delicious!  After breakfast, SMS and I took a walk to nearby Corona Heights Park and took in some pretty spectacular city views.  I went without my phone so no pictures for the blog but if you’re looking for a short urban  hike, this place fits the bill.

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After brunch, we headed back down the Peninsula.  We went to Thomas Fogarty Winery, where we sat outside with a glass of wine.  The wines were good and the patio was nice, but that was the only place that drinking outside was allowed for tasting room visitors.  The patio doesn’t overlook the Valley so SMS thought that it wasn’t well planned, which I agree.  We walked around the grounds and it does have a spectacular view.  A wedding was about to start and the private event spaces were gorgeous with a covered eating area that did have a view and was beautifully decorated.

The next morning, SMS made me breakfast.  We had bacon and eggs with two 2-yolk eggs- so much luck in that meal!  We had climbing plans for later that afternoon so we decided to go on a hike to Windy Hill.  We’ve been meaning to do it for awhile but other plans kept getting in the way.

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Windy Hill was beautiful!  We parked on a nearby street and started our hike by following the signs to Spring Meadow trail to Spring Ridge Trail.  The trail was mostly a packed road up the golden grassed hill.  There was no shade along this portion.  Then we walked along the top of the hill, following Anniversary Trail to Lost Trail.  Then, we descended down Hamms Gulch trail, which was beautiful and shaded. If (when!) we go again, SMS and I agreed that reversing the loop would be better since there would be shade during the strenuous uphill climb.  Downhill would be in the Sun and walking towards the Valley view, which is quite spectacular.

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Unmarked copy available here.

After our hike, which was seven miles instead of my predicted five, we grabbed a quick lunch at Annachikadai where I ordered delicious pakora bread with mutton curry.  Then we went to Planet Granite and had an awesome climbing session.  I felt very strong for not having climbed recently so it gives me hope that I can get better once I’m able to train consistently.

Then we went to The Halford, a gastropub with lots of beer options.  SMS’ climbing friends are really nice and it was a great dinner.  Afterwards, we went into the Baker’s Village bakery that had a lot of Japanese-style sweets.  I was in heaven!  Looking the place up, it actually is a Korean bakery but reminds me of the not-too-sweet treats in Japan that also featured toasted sesame seeds.

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The next day, we took the morning off from work and grabbed breakfast followed by a walk through San Jose’s Rose Garden.  There was a sign saying that it was voted the best rose garden in the US.  It surprises me that Portland’s rose garden was beat but regardless, this is a very pretty place.  I don’t think we were there during peak rose season but it really is amazing how many there are.

Day trip to Outer Banks, NC

SMS and I decided to take a day trip to the Outer Banks earlier this month.  It was the Saturday after Labor Day so even though we were charged peak tolls, it seemed that we were into the “shoulder season” with far fewer tourists.  We had an amazing time!

We drove along the 158E and once we crossed the bridge to the Outer Banks, we took a right to head down towards Kill Devil Hill and Kitty Hawk.  Our first stop was for lunch at Pigman’s BBQ for some East Carolina-style pulled pork and ribs.  I really like the tangy, vinegar-based sauce.  We were pretty hungry and the food hit the spot!  We ate outside in the shade.  The restaurant also does picnics-to-go, which would be a nice way to have a gourmet beach feast.

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SMS as a plane. Next to him is the launch rail. In the background are the flight distance markers.

After Pigman, we headed to the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kill Devil Hill.  Kill Devil Hill was the dune (now grass-covered hill) that they used to launch their gliders.  Slightly north of the hill is the site of the first four flights.  There is a launch rail that was used to help guide the plane to take-off that is still present.  Four boulders are placed marking the landing site of each of the first flights, which got progressively longer.  I didn’t realize how short the first flight was!  We walked along the path to the 4th flight boulder, which was the longest distance by far.  It was really neat.  In addition, there’s a cool juxtaposition of a modern airstrip right next to the monument so right next to the historic field is a modern airport with Cesnas flying in.

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We decided to head South and try to find a beach.  I saw a marker for Coquina Beach at the Wright Memorial so we headed there.  What a find!  It’s down Highway 12 about 20 minutes from Kitty Hawk.  It’s part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore so it’s completely undeveloped.  But at Coquina Beach, there is a large parking lot with plenty of spots when we were there.  Best of all, there’s a spotlessly clean bathroom, changing room and outdoor shower area which makes it SO much nicer when it comes time to leave.  Rather than sitting in damp suits with sticky sand, we were able to wash off and change.  I really liked it and can definitely see myself going back.

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After a few hours at the beach, we got back in the car and headed home.  We stopped at the Weeping Radish, a microbrewery in Grandy opened by an immigrant from Bavaria in the 1980s.  They follow the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot Purity Law of 1516 and both the beer and food are German-inspired.  The beer, all from the microbrewery, was really good.  I was surprised because sometimes super-small places can be uneven in quality but every beer was pretty great, although there were some I favored over others just based on personal taste.   Unfortunately, we weren’t hungry due to the size of our lunch but I bet the food there is pretty awesome. We watch the last set of the Serena-Naomi US Open, which was pretty intense.

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Feeding a goat!

Also, I got to feed a goat!  There were two goats outside and I went over to admire their cuteness.  A woman leaving the brewery told us that they liked branches from the tree and that I should feed them one.  So, I took a little twig and fed one of the goats.  Super cute!

Then it was time to head back.  It was a great day with lots of cool stops- a perfect day trip!  For future Outer Banks trips, I would like to go back to Coquina Beach, check out Duck, and travel to Ocracoke for an overnight (or several) based on my cousins’ recommendations.

Bird Update!

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The birds are doing well in their foster home.  They have a fairly standard routine which, pathetically, I know.  In the mornings, they eat their food then spend the rest of the time hopping back and forth between the cages and often hanging out on the top.  They will sometimes all fly at once and buzz the observer’s head.  This is rude but they are poorly trained.

In the afternoon, they tend to hang in the cage.  They will sometimes take naps.  They seem to be pretty happy because there are a lot of head bobbles.  As I read what I’m typing, I feel that this text would be better suited in a format resembling crayon-writing on a paper by a young child since this is all dreadfully boring.  But if you were here, you would love the birds because they are so cute.

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So, I admit.  I have a favorite.  Yes, I love the one named after me best but she is so cute!  And noble!  As mentioned earlier, she is not very smart since all the birds are pretty dumb but that is ok.  I do not want any real competition.

 

Also, earlier in the month, I binged read the Harry Potter series because it had been awhile and I have a few friends who are into Harry Potter trivia parties and bar crawls (at last, bigger losers than me!).  The books are really fun and I enjoyed the re-read.  J.K. Rawlings is brilliant- to be that imaginative and create a fictional world that is highly readable and enjoyable is a definite gift!

Inspired by the books, I gave the birds Potter names.  Without further ado…

Harry Potter Birds