Right Where You Left Me at the Crumbling Castles

Aka, we saw Taylor Swift!

SMS and I participated in the 2023 cultural Zeitgeist– attending a Taylor Swift concert! I had purchased tickets through the Verified Fan Presale. I know, I was very lucky! I actually went back and forth about whether or not to buy floor seats vs. upper level and somehow did not get completely shut out.

So, if you can’t tell from our photos, I picked the upper level. We were in the first row next to some super cool parents and their kids. Behind us, there were some TS super fans who were cute and, sometimes, ear piercingly shrillingly loud.

We did get to see the celebrities walk by to the Friends of Taylor tent in the middle of the floor seats. Great seats and I need to work on my networking/IG influencer status. We saw Gigi Hadid, a makeup artist, and a few people who were clearly somebody but this cool kid had no idea.

Cleaning Cart!

We also saw the cleaning cart, which 100% was the way TS was transported to the stage. It came out with her band and was handled very carefully on the way up and not so much on the way back down after the drop off occurred.

The dancers gather towards the middle, where TS emerged about 45 seconds later…

It was a good show. It all sort of worked out to see a pretty anticipated show. I’m dying to know if my colleague who bought tickets to both nights based on his love for the Reputation Tour liked it more or less than his prior experience. Definitely a guy I wouldn’t have guessed was a Swiftie.


June Wrap-Up

SMS and I in Tiburon at the Chiefs’ Roast

June was a great month! The absolute highlight was our 10th anniversary trip to Healdsburg with a big, splurgy stay at Singlethread. That will be in a separate post! We also had two work-related social events (mine), a weekend staycation in San Francisco, and dinner with friends.

The month started with a bagel breakfast trip to California Ave. An artist I follow on IG was selected for a mural installation. I saw her walking away as we approached so I didn’t get to fan girl. Oh well, it was cool to see a large project in progress

On California Ave, the Farmer’s Market is fun to walk through on Saturdays. Lots of booths, several musicians, and our favorite bagel place. On this particular Saturday, someone “busking for birds” captured our hearts!

We went to the chiefs’ roast dinner, which is hosted by one of my colleagues at his Tiberon home. He comes from wealth, which is slightly gauche to say but it’s true. There’s no way houses like that are bought on MD salaries in the Bay Area. The party was a lot of fun and very social. I was told it went pretty late, but we stayed until 10.

Later that weekend, we went on a hike at Windy Hill. I was on the lookout for the superbloom, which wasn’t quite happening but there were some pretty wildflowers.

We saw KT Tunstall at the Guild on 6/15, which was a great concert. She’s similar to Imogen Heap in that she does some mixing and looping throughout her show. It was excellent.

That weekend, we had a staycation in San Francisco. I used a combination of points, hotel credit, and some cash to stay two nights at the Fairmont. The black tie graduation event was on Friday. Mark and I stayed through Sunday morning and had a great weekend.

We walked a lot, which was a great way to become more familiar with the city. On Saturday, we walked towards Russian Hill with a downhill detour towards Washington Square in North Beach. Then we walked towards Ft. Mason and had lunch at Greens, which had a beautiful design and tasty food. By then, we were pretty pooped so we took a rideshare back to the hotel

The next day, we walked to Pac Heights/Fillmore Ave. We found the vertical garden on our way. We had a tasty Mediterranean lunch, although the place’s name is lost to me now.

That evening, we went to Zazie to use my gift card from Rip and Linda. It was a nice place and we had a delicious meal. It was a no-tip menu, which is fine.

I went to an Italian dessert cooking class that SMS had attended a few months back. I met a new friend and we’re going to start a book club together!

My longtime friend came up from San Diego with her husband, son, and her son’s waterpolo team. Waterpolo is a tough sport! The endurance and sprint mix is pretty insane. I endeared myself to the Del Mar team by yelling during a break that a certain numbered player on the LA team should stop punching opponents in the nuts. This apparently made the LA moms mad because apparently, they are nut-punching condoners. So weird. But guess what happened? The nut punching stopped. Win!

But seriously, the kid had done it to three Del Mar players which caused a lot of tears and one injury timeout. Like, wtf. It’s a 16 & under water polo game and the parents somehow think this ok because it helps their team win? Pardon the pun, but that seems pretty twisted.

SMS and I also saw Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit at Frost Amphitheater. We met up with a colleague of mine and her family. It was pretty funny b/c before the concert, she had said that her two boys loved Jason Isbell. So, I thought they were total concert savants and would be really into the music and pay attention throughout. Yeah right. They tore around like two tornados because they were little kids who were not, at all, interested in the concert. By the end of the night, it seemed like my colleague and her husband were wishing they had made it a date night. But who knows, maybe the kids will remember the concert for the rest of their lives.

Finally, we had our longtime friends over for lunch. In contrast, their son is probably the most mature of the five of use. He’s been our sommelier for years and now, he’s graduated to grill master. It was such a fun pool and grill day.

Lassen National Park

My visiting friend Carrie is a National Parks aficionado. She has her park checklist, park passport to collect stamps, and love of the outdoors. She is very travel goal-oriented! All this to say, her trip objectives included a trip to Lassen National Park. It was an ambitious road trip but 1. we did it and 2. we had a great time!

I took two days off of work and after our A’s adventure the night before, we headed North on Thursday. We took the Tesla which, honestly, caused range anxiety on this trip. And what do you do when anxiety hits? Drink!

JK, we had planned our first stop which was a Schramsberg tour. Napa is crazy expensive, but the Schramsberg cave tour is pretty spectacular. They have one of the oldest caves in Napa and its full of sparkling wine. The cave has pick-ax marks on the walls from the workers, who had been hired after the completion of the transcontinental railroad. They went from building tunnels to wine caves! There is a ton of lichen draping down from the walls and it is really atmospheric. Each guide has their own spin on the tour and all three that I’ve seen have been really good. I still like the one from the second visit the best because of her focus on the story of Veuve Clicquot (the woman behind the brand!).

The absolute win of the day is that Carrie discovered Schramsberg has a 30% discount in its store! I was too shy to ask but now that I know…

After Schramsberg, we headed up to Shingletown, CA where we had an Air BnB. It was a cute cabin in the woods. I would definitely recommend. We settled in, made a cheeseboard, and went to bed on the early side since the next day held…more driving!

Lassen has a road that cuts through the park, but it’s covered in snow for half of the year. When we visited in early May, the snow pack was still 46 inches thick. It was even snowing on the 5th of May. I was super excited and asked the ranger what he thought. “I’m kind of over it,” was his reply.

Carrie wanted to go to the two main ranger stations in the park so we first went to southwest entrance to the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Ranger Station. After looking at the exhibits, we snowshoed up the road to Sulphur Works. There were active hydrothermal pools that were bubbling and a muddy brown. Not as beautiful as Yellowstone but neat to see, especially in contrast with the falling snow!

The snowshoing back to the car was an easy downhill. We peeled off some layers and hopped in. As you can see from the map above, there’s a snow/not snow way through the park. Due to the snowpack, we had to drive all the way around in a huge C. We got to Summit Lake and walked around. Mt Lassen was in the clouds, but the walk around the lake was cool. We didn’t use our snowshoes since half of the hike was exposed trail. There was some thick pack in the shade. Once, my leg broke through and I realized I was standing on a bush.

After our hike, we drove back to Shingletown. We stopped at a KOA Campground to charge, which was pretty slow. Our AirBnB had said no charging but that night, I wrote and asked for permission. The owner said yes after we discussed kWh. So, that made the next day a little better. Honestly, with an electric car, I should have sorted that out from the start because charging was needed somewhere and the little chargers are so slow and added a lot of time in the car.

The next day, we hopped in the car and had several stops on our road trip. We went to Medlock Ames and had a great tour and tasting at the winery. After that, we drove out to Pt. Reyes, which was so beautiful. Finally, we went to Mt. Tam and hiked into Muir Woods but had to cut it short since it was getting dark.

It was an awesome trip. I had really wanted to see Mt. Lassen, so I’m glad I was finally able to. The driving time wasn’t that bad, but the charging stops were slightly draining (haha) on our time. If I had the option next time, I’d take an ICE or have a really solid overnight charging plan.

Wrap-Up: April

April Wrap-Up time! Above is a picture of me reading in the Bougieville pool. SMS and I decided to have a lazy Sunday afternoon by the pool on a relatively warm day and it was delightful. I’m still a little leery of the hot tub as more and more kids use it as a restroom swim in it, but the pool is a real delight. Maybe I will even start lap swimming, but I don’t want to dry out my hair. Decisions!

Early in the month, SMS and I went out to dinner at Saltbox in San Carlos. I really like that restaurant. The menu always has a tempting healthy option, as well as a few comfort food items so there’s something to fit every mood. I ordered a glass of wine from Jax vineyards and it was amazing! I took a picture of the bottle. Jax will play a role later in the month when…

Rip and Linda came to town! On Friday, I met them at Jax for a glass of wine. There is a tasting room near the ballpark and it’s really a beautiful oasis. The patio is shaded and the small garden is beautiful. And, the wine is delicious! For dinner, we went to Altovino, which was excellent. I had incredible parking luck- the waiter even commented on it because he saw us parking when he was looking through the window! The food was good and while the restaurant was full, it was fairly low-volume so conversation was pretty easy.

Rip and SMS cooked dinner on Saturday, which was awesome. SMS cooked the salmon in the pizza oven using a cast iron skillet. It turned out really well. The trip overall was more mellow than others (no ragers in Napa) and we had the best time!

The last weekend of the month, I decided to take a trip to Washington, DC for my 25th (!) high school reunion. It was a lot of fun. I have not kept in touch with anyone (FB doesn’t count!) for over 20 years. This isn’t necessarily something I’m bragging about, it’s just what it is. I had a really nice time catching up with people who, honestly, looked almost the same to me. The fountain of youth has been found! The above pictures were taken near the end of the night, in case you can’t tell. Overall, it was a really nice event and I had forgotten how beautiful Georgetown is. It makes me want to go back for a slightly longer DC visit. Mom and Dad, answer your door! I’m here!

Even better, I had some sister time! Yay! Brady and I hung out twice. It was such a treat. My niece wasn’t feeling well, so we couldn’t hang out as a full family, but Brady and her son came out while her husband and niecie stayed home :(. On Saturday, we took a walk in Alexandria while on Sunday, Brady and I were ladies who brunched going to Zaytinya (love!), the Portrait Gallery, and a quick drink at a hotel bar. Then, I headed off to DCA to head back to CA.

So, that was April, a definite win!

Pt Reyes Birthday Weekend

Happy birthday to me! And my great hair. Yes, I’m only two feet away from my childhood goal of growing my hair long enough that I can sit on it. One, gross. Two, not going to happen but I like it long for now. At some point, I’ll go back to the “lob” but not yet.

For my birthday, I decided I wanted to spend the weekend at Pt Reyes. I think it is one of the prettiest places in the Bay Area, but a day trip can be a bit of a slog with traffic, hikes, and slow speed limits through the park. So, my birthday gift to myself was to book a hotel in the area so SMS and I could just enjoy the area. We left Saturday morning and stayed through Monday morning.

We had such a good time! The first evening, we walked to Abbott’s Lagoon. It was more of a walk than a hike, but Abbott’s Lagoon was beautiful. It’s a birder’s paradise, which I am aspiring to be for my old lady years. We heard a flock of ground birds that sounded exactly like people laughing. I really wish I knew what they were!

Then we went to the Tap Room for dinner. It was pretty chill and we had a wonderful time. The food was delicious. I had the fish and chips Saturday night special. I recommend!

The next day, we went into the Park and hiked to Tomales Point through the Elk Preserve. It was just under 10 miles with some rolling hills. Nothing too strenuous and it was absolutely beautiful. We split a sandwich for an easy picnic and had the best time. After the hike, we looked around the old buildings of Pierce Point Ranch.

After the hike, we went to the Saltwater Oyster Depot for a snack and liked it so much that we made dinner reservations. The food was exceptional and we had a glass of wine from the buzzy winery Jolie Laide, which I’m seeing on a lot of local restaurant wine lists lately.

Also, we stayed at this hotel which was fine. It’s a cute property, but the walls were so thin. They freely admit this so I knew this fact before staying but oh man. There are thin walls and there are THIN walls. It sounded like every car passing on the road outside was in our room. Every time our next door neighbor sneezed, I wanted to duck from the sneeze cloud. Seriously, it was like there were curtain dividers instead of walls. The hotel’s website said that people came for peace and quiet. Which probably caused the flock of birds that laughs like people to really lose it.

The next day, I got my birthday girl way and went on two short walks. The wind was intense and SMS wasn’t haven’t the best time, but he rallied for meeeee! First, we walked to Pt. Reyes. Honestly, it was really windy. But so beautiful.

Then, because we were basically already there, we went to the light house. You have to walk about 1/4 mile from the parking lot to the light house. It was still really windy. I decided I wanted to go down to the lighthouse. SMS, a very good sport, decided that wasn’t his idea of a good time so he stayed at the top, sheltered from the wind. I ran down and back. I timed myself- 8 minutes! Phew!

Then, we were wind’d out. We drove back in the early afternoon to avoid rush hour, which was smart. Rush hour is definitely a thief of joy! We drove towards Stinson Beach and had lunch at Due West, which was good but not as good as Saltwater.

Look at the cool gift my Mom got for me! It makes a truly horrible, but incredibly accurate, sound. She also got me a cover-up, which I can’t wait to wear around our White Lotus apartment pool. My in-laws got me a gift certificate to a restaurant near Parnassus, which I’m excited to try. And finally, SMS got me some earrings that I had wanted so that I can always wear something in my second piercing, even when sleeping.

Singlethread Farm Tour

Last Fall, SMS and I went to Singlethread Farm for a tour. It was a fantastic experience that started with a snack (always a good thing), followed by a tour with some crop picking. I don’t want to brag, but we made our friends’ eight-year old kid so jealous with this adventure. You see, we had stopped by their house afterwards and while we were describing the day, it was pretty clear he was dying to go at some point. I decided then and there to take him at some point. He’s the sweetest, most polite kid. SMS and I have known him since his 2nd birthday party. Strangely, he doesn’t remember us from that rager but he knows us now! He is particularly attached to SMS.

We were on the early side. Ok, we were the first to show. But we were only 15 minutes early! It’s just that last time, they started right on time and I didn’t want to miss anything. We walked around for a bit and with the help of one of the farmers, identified fennel along the path.

The tour started and we walked around, learning a lot about farming methods, crop rotation, planting philosophies, etc. I thought it was super interesting. The now 9-year old said later, “He talked a lot.” Yes, unfortunately, Spring is not the best time for picking produce, which is what he had been hoping to do. He still thought the experience was pretty cool. The highlight was picking the snap peas. These were a favorite snack of the farm dog that walked with the group.

It was either a sick joke or a real “crop,” but we all chowed down on edible flowers. In general, they taste like flowers although one had a real wintergreen note. I suggested that they start wine-pairing farm tours to help identify more botanical flavors in wines. The tour leader’s wife who’s in the wine industry loved that idea. Or she is just really nice.

We ended with delicious onigiri. Between the snacks and the interesting information, I was ok with the lack of vegetables to pick! But maybe we’ll go back in the Fall so our kid friend will have a better experience.

We went to Medlock Ames to pick up wine, which went a little longer than the 2 minutes I had promised. But, SMS and I got to taste “The Flag,” the new, super high-end cabernet so…worth it! Then we grabbed bento boxes at The Taste of Tea in Healdsburg. It is definitely a restaurant worth going back to!

We drove our kid-for-the-day back to his parents house, where we were invited to stay for dinner. We had a great time and feel really lucky to live in such a great area, knowing such awesome people.

New Year’s Weekend: Newport Beach/LA

For New Year’s weekend, we decided to drive to Newport Beach and visit SMS’ grandfather. We drove into town on the 30th and shared a bottle of Naidau sparkling wine with his grandfather and girlfriend and a cousin and her husband. Everyone liked it- a pinot noir sparkling wine, yum!

The next day, we went to LA. As SMS’s cousin said, “That seems a little far for a farmer’s market.” But I really wanted to go to Monsieur Marcel, a French market at the original Farmer’s Market. I follow MM on Instagram (I know, I know) and it just looked so good! Also, the drive to LA is better from Newport than San Diego so I wanted to take advantage of our location.

First, SMS saw a little coffee shop that served shots in edible sweet cups. It was cute and fun to try.

Adorable French hens! But do you ever look at stuff like this and think of how it wouldn’t even fetch $5 at your future garage sale? No? Just me?

It was a foodie paradise! Even though we were a little leary of crowded spaces thanks to our new friend Omicron, I took some time in the aisles. I didn’t buy a lot since my diet started the next day (I am a total sucker/fan of New Year’s resolution motivation!). But we did buy the fixings for a great charcuterie & cheese board for that night. We also bought persimmons at a nearby fruit stand.

Afterward, we decided to do something outdoors so we went over to UCLA’s botanical garden. It’s a very manageable size and really beautiful. We walked around for a while. Then, it was lunchtime. I was a little hangry and weak (in body and spirit), so instead of walking half a mile, we drove to Westwood. We went to Northern Cafe for noodles (ok). Then I bought a matcha boba at Junbi, which was really tasty. The two very cool people (Gen Z) in front of me knew the song that was playing so I surreptitiously Shazam’d it since I had no idea what it was. After the Storm by Kali Uchis featuring Tyler the Creator & Bootsy because of course it was.

New Year’s Eve Feast!

Afterward, I felt much better. Yay food! We went back to Newport. We had a really mellow night and didn’t even stay up until midnight. I wasn’t feeling super-party-ish this year. But it was still enjoyable to be with SMS and in Newport Beach.

The next morning, I walked up the beach to Vacancy Coffee, an Australian-themed coffee place. I walked back with my Americano on a beautiful, very quiet morning. SMS and I went to breakfast at the Lido Hotel, walked around a bit, stopped by Pam’s apartment, and then left. It was a really nice, mellow weekend. I love Newport Beach and mini-trips to LA! Here’s to 2022!

His/hers cars in front of the Lido Hotel
Lido Hotel
Apropros of nothing, my adorable nephews and niece watching Encanto!

2021 Wrap-Up: December

December started with a trip to Menlo Park. SMS and I went for a walk and there were so many pretty trees. A mini-Fall foliage spectacular!

The next week, I had a very social time. I met up with three friends for dinner, three nights in a row. The first night, Rose and I met up in Little Italy. We had a great time. We were feeling bar-hoppy so we went to Herb & Wood and Juniper & Ivy. An evening of ampersands! I really liked my persimmon cocktail at Juniper & Ivy, which was delicious and crazy expensive. I am a sucker for persimmons though. The next two nights, I went out with new friends: Meredith on Wednesday (Stanford connection) and Sarah on Thursday (work friend). Meredith and I went to Saiko Sushi on Coronado, while Sarah and I went to Muzita Abyssinian (Ethiopian) in University Heights. Delicious dinners and great company!

That weekend, SMS was in town and we went to his sister and her husband’s Christmas party. I ate way too much from the taco caterer but it was difficult not to! It was a fun crowd and I mingled with a lot of interesting people.

Buckeyes/No-bake peanut butter balls. I got the recipe from someone at the party!

The next weekend, SMS came back into town for the rest of December. He only had to take four days off in order to be free for two weeks, thanks to already scheduled holidays. We went to a work party that Saturday, which was so much fun. Michelle hosted it and, while slightly smaller than other years, had a really great group of people. I really had a good time!

SMS drives a Lucid Air!

Later that week, SMS and I went out to Poway where a Lucid Air owner showed off his car, complained about a lot of really small details, and took us for a drive. The acceleration is amazing! It was a lot of fun to be a passenger but SMS got to drive the car! Sagoy!

Christmas gift from Brady!

Christmas Eve, we had a nice dinner that I picked up from the Wine Vault with matching pairings. Bouillabaisse, lamb chops, and potato gratin- yum! For Christmas, we had a nice celebration with SMS’ family at his sister’s house. It was great food and great company!

Coronado sunken ship!?!

Over the holiday period, SMS and I took a lot of walks around Coronado. We walked down to where there’s a sunken ship that can be seen at extremely low tide. I don’t think we saw it, but maybe I took a picture of part of it. Or a rock. Hard to tell.

2021 Wrap-Up: October

Shot #3

Boosted and it feels so good! Technically, this happened on 9/30 but we can classify it as a good start to October.

The Master Photographer (SMS) at work

We went to Newport Beach the first weekend. There was a family memorial on 10/2. We had lunch, went on the Bay in a Duffy boat, and went to Roger’s Gardens. The night before, SMS and I went to the Lucid store site to maintain our #1 fan status. I also sandwiched in some online teaching for a board review course.

Later that month after the in-law road trip, SMS and I went to the Native Plant Garden in Woodside, which was small but comprehensive. The mapped layout seemed to differ from the actual gardens but you know, things change over time. We went to the Dutch Goose, which we had frequently passed but never checked out.

We also went to a wine party! Jyotsna and Akshay introduced us to Naidau wines. SMS really liked the wine, so we got in touch with the vintner. This eventually led to a Diwali party invite so off we went! (Even though Diwali was actually on 11/4.) We had a great time with friends we knew and friends we met there. I only took pictures of the wine (priorities!), but a photographer was on site so I downloaded a few of her photos.

Finally, we had a really nice weekend in San Diego to finish off the month. I was on call for Halloween (boo!), but we had a nice day outing to La Jolla. We went to the Taco Shack and then walked down to the cove.

Mr. Bill in Bread & Cie, Hillcrest

Sonoma Road Trip with the In-Laws!

A few weeks after the road trip with my parents, we had a slightly shorter (but just as fun!) road trip with SMS’ parents! We decided to meet up in Sonoma for the weekend with wine tastings, tasty meals, and a fun wine party. We met at Chalk Hill Winery on Saturday morning. Although SMS’ sister gave us dire warnings about how terrible the wine was, we had a really good experience. The weather was beautiful, the location gorgeous, and the wines were decent. We also had a very nice server. Anyway, I decided to send a nice text to Stacy…

Afterward, we headed into Healdsburg for lunch. We went to The Wurst Wing, which is pretty informal, speedy, and delicious. I’m not the biggest bratwurst fan, but there are other options on the menu. For most of the meal, I was on the phone for a group meeting with my professor of a Stanford online certificate program I was taking. So, it was nice to be away from the group when we were at a more informal place, rather than being rude in a more formal sit-down restaurant. Don’t get me wrong-a Saturday class session isn’t ideal but I wasn’t in charge of the scheduling!

After lunch, we went to Roth Estate winery where we sat outside on their patio. It was not as picturesque as Chalk Hill, but still a very nice place. The weather was definitely on our side. Afterward, we squeezed in a third tasting at Lancaster Estate where we sat under the trees. The server was a high school teacher who worked once a month for employee benefits. It was fun to talk to him and get a long-time Sonoma local’s perspective.

For dinner, we went to John Ash & Co, which was really good. Rip and Linda had been there before. I felt like the best search engine person ever because when we were planning the trip, I found it simply through looking in the area and typing something like “good restaurant farm to table” or something similar. Can’t give away all my savant tips and tricks!

The next morning, I woke up really early and grabbed a coffee from A’Roma Roasters, which was a cute coffee place with decent-ish coffee. Then I went back to the Hyatt and met up with everyone else who is normal and can sleep until a decent hour on a Sunday morning.

We had breakfast at the Omelette Express. The breakfasts are delicious and served in huge portions. There are also several classic car front bumpers and grills mounted on the walls. It’s a cool look but I wouldn’t want to be there in an earthquake!

Then, it was on to more wine tasting. We went to Ferrari-Carano, which has a beautiful garden. We sat outside on a large balcony for our tasting, which was really scenic. It was a tiny bit on the chilly side to start but we were all strong people, willing to suffer for the wine.

Then it was off to Medlock Ames! I had bought tickets to the Harvest Party, which is held on their beautiful ranch! It was slightly smaller than years past, but we had some delicious wine accompanied by freshly made pizza. We also went up to the garden, which was had a lot of vegetables including delicious cherry tomatoes.

After the party, our weekend together was done. Even though it was short, it was so much fun to hang out on a gorgeous Fall weekend.