Beyonce! Levi Stadium 5/16!

After such a busy weekend, I was feeling a little peaked.   All I wanted to do was relax but… Beyonce was in town! After getting married, SMS and I walked down the aisle together to “Love on Top” and we have always talked about seeing a concert together.  I missed buying tickets through LiveNation so I sort of wrote it off.  But, a few days prior, I started looking on StubHub and I realized that tickets were being sold below face value.  So I started thinking…

 

By mid-Monday afternoon, I was decided.  We were going!  SMS and I met up after work and bought our LightRail VTE tickets.  After dinner at home, we went to the train station and took the packed train to Levi Stadium.  It wasn’t packed to Japanese standards but a couple people really smooshed their way in and would definitely fit in during Tokyo rush hour!
We got to the stadium and, small annoyance, no bags bigger than 4 x 6 inches are allowed into the venue.   Argh, I really wished I knew that before I left home!  After checking my bag, we went into the arena where DJ Khaled had a good set.  I’m sure it was very cool since I didn’t know any of the songs.
After his set, we waited.  The show didn’t start until 9, which I somewhat suspected would happen because the focal point of the stage is a 5-storey LED screen.  By waiting until it was dark, the effect was much more dramatic.

 

The show was amazing.  Beyonce sang a lot and sounded amazing.  Some songs were arranged differently than the studio version, which always makes a live show a treat.  A few songs were more dance numbers where Beyonce wasn’t singing but instead, the studio track was playing.  There was no attempt at trying to lipsync, which I appreciated.

 

Although we had good seats, the highlight of the show was the last four songs.  SMS and I were between the main stage and a smaller stage that was at the end of  a runway.  Every time the group went down the runway and performed on the smaller stage, so many people from our section ran forward like the Running of the Bulls.  Finally, I decided I wanted to join the crowd so I asked SMS if he wanted to go too and off we went.  It was amazing timing because it was near the end of the show and the staging was great.  First, the smaller stage had been transformed into a large, shallow pool that Beyonce and her formation danced and stomped through.  Also, we were so close!    I felt like such a fan girl!  Finally, we were super close for the last song “Halo,” which was absolutely gorgeous.

After the show, we got home fairly easily.  I left my bag (on purpose) and will pick it up from lost and found this week.  The VTE was crowded but not unmanageable. If Beyonce comes to a city near you, I highly recommend the show!

Updates

Screenshots from Neko Atsume.  Even in my brief time, I collected several “Rare Cats:”
Peaches, Joe DiMeowgio, and Senor Don Gato.  And a rude butt cat, but that wasn’t rare.

Since the marathon, SMS and I have been staying more local which is fun and restful but not very exciting for the blog.  Since I usually write about our travels, I sort of fall off the map when things aren’t as “eventful.”  But here are some updates, bullet-style…

* I’ve run three times since the marathon: a tempo run (excellent), 3.5 miles with the Mountain View Running Club (MVRC- fun!), 14.5 miles (ok).  I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach post-marathon running and there seem to be many opinions on the best post-race plan.  I ended up going with the “Run when I feel like running” plan.  I kept Jyots company on two runs and we both went to the MVRC two weeks in a row.  I really like the social aspect of the MVRC run so I will keep that up.  I’m not sure where I want to keep my long run mileage.   Anyway, zzzzzz….  Boring!  I have almost fallen asleep typing this so I’m going to move on.  Here’s a funny article about hating on marathon runners before you go.

Faceplant.  This is how Snowball feels about having
5 pages of a dedicated photo album to her.

*I have had the rise and fall of Neko Atsume on my phone.  I read about it in the NYTimes, which definitely means I’ve already missed the trend by at least six months.  Nevertheless, I downloaded it on my phone and became weirdly obsessed with gold fish, silver fish, and that chubby chubster Tubbs who kept eating all the food.  In fairness to Tubbs, he usually left more fish than the food cost but the times he didn’t- infuriating.  Tubbs, you did not just leave 20 silver fish for a 3 gold fish can of Ritzy Bitz!!!! And that was when I realized that I was becoming a little weird about the game and spending way to much time tapping on my screen like a little lab animal.  So, away it went.  But not before I bought the room expansion (proud moment!).

Tubbs, oh tubby tub Tubbs.  Other rare cats include Ms. Fortune, Guy Furry and Ramses the Great.
*Our Chinese class is over!  Yay!  SMS and I saw our commitment through and had perfect attendance (Mom and Dad, you raised me well!).  Chinese is very difficult and the pronunciation, combined with the tones, really takes a lot of dedicated practice and perseverance.  We’ve decided we’re not super-interested in pursuing it so for now, my mastery of the Chinese language is decidedly on hold.
Beginning of the party, clearly.

 *We had a really nice dinner with friends last night where we drank fancy California wine and ate Buddha bowls with veg and paleo options.  The base is rice (real or fake no-carb “rice), lots of veggies (carrots, red cabbage, beets, sweet potatoes) and a protein (peanut sauce tofu or coconut amino-flavored chicken).  It was all delicious and we got to use SMS’ new decanter while he looked on, barely partaking since he sort of wrecked himself climbing like a maniac earlier in the day and was completely wiped out.

*Silicon Valley is crazy.  We were talking about a package offered by a local hotel for $9,995 that is completely insane since it mostly features things that are free.  I want to do most of the activities but I’ll do it on my own rather than place my money carefully on their concierge’s counter and then set it on fire.  I have figured out a way to make money though- we are going to rent our little cardboard home on AirBnB.  The listing is almost complete.  I just need to get better pictures!

It has a certain j’ne sais quoi, non?

Mountain View Weekend

No packed suitcases this weekend- SMS and I stayed home.  We started off the weekend by going out to dinner with a few of our friends from the apartment complex.  We walked down to The Yam Leaf, a vegetarian Mexican place about 1/2 mile away.  We had been there before but it had been awhile.  I love their pupusas!  SMS and I each got a pupusa and then split the sides on a house combination platter.  It was really a great dinner and fun to catch up with our friends.  We hung out for awhile which was good because one of our friends started out a little rough because he had gone way too long without food and he was hangry!  He recovered well though.

Saturday was fairly mellow.  I went for a run with the Mountain View Running Club, which was really enjoyable.  It’s a great group of people and I love talking to people during the run and afterwards at Starbucks.  This week, I ran slower than last so I could talk a lot more.  My running partners are so lucky, ha ha.  I start my marathon taper this week so I wanted to start scaling back.  The week prior, I had done two miles at 7:30 which was awesome but left no extra air for conversation.

I came home and SMS and I ate lunch.  We had a mellow afternoon and then left for the Vance Joy concert at 5:15.  We went out for Ethiopian food at Sheba in Oakland prior to the show.  It was pretty good.  I loved the injera and the food was tasty.  I’m glad we had it because we had talked about Ethiopian food the night before and I knew I’d have major cravings if I didn’t eat some soon!  There was a lot of food and we couldn’t finish it all.  I think the waitress was sad we didn’t take a to-go box but one of the dishes was raw (on purpose) and we didn’t want raw meat sitting in the car unrefridgerated for a few hours.

I wrote a separate post about the concert.  It was a solid show and I’m glad we went.  I kind of messed up on the planning because I bought the tickets awhile back.  What I didn’t realize until Saturday morning was that I had actually bought 4 tickets.  So, since it was so last-minute, I just sold the extra two on Craigslist since most of our friends make weekend plans ahead of time.

Sunday started with a 10 mile long run.  It’s funny that 10 miles seems like nothing now.  I’m really excited for our marathon and it will be interesting to see what my post-marathon training plans will consist of.  I’m thinking of Krav Maga and HITT workouts, with 1-2x weekly longer runs to maintain this base I’ve worked so hard to achieve.  First, though, there’s a little matter of getting through 26.2 miles!  Unfortunately, it looks like it might rain (boo!) but maybe that will make me want to run faster!

After the run, SMS made a “Baconator” omelet, which efficiently destroyed any calorie deficit I may have incurred while running!  It was delicious and I was hungry so thank you SMS!  Then I took a nap.  Afterwards, we went to the commissary and I baked a cake for dinner on Jeff and Hope’s boat.

We were invited to dinner on their boat and we had the best time!  First, we went for a walk around the Coyote Point Recreation Area.  It was beautiful!  There were wildflowers, views of the city and a beautiful sunset.  Then we went to the boat, which is absolutely beautiful.  We hung out for a few hours and had great conversation.  We had excellent appetizers- my favorite is Hope’s homemade cheese.  Then we had a fantastic vegetarian lasagna with a side salad and asparagus.  It was fantastic food!

We left about 8:15.  Although I was having a great time, I was getting so tired.  My long runs don’t usually wipe me out but all day yesterday, I had felt more tired than usual.

I don’t have any leap day plans, but I will try and think of something cool.  Maybe a leap year cake and an impromptu party?

Local Weekend

After a few out-of-town weekends, SMS and I relaxed around Mountain View this past weekend.

On Friday, we went to Morocco’s Restaurant, featuring Moroccan food with belly dancing at 730.  The belly dancer didn’t seem to have the best rhythm in the world with her little cymbals but it was still festive.  The food was pretty good and SMS and I enjoyed sharing several dishes.  Our favorite was the Briwatt sampler.  Briwatts are sort of like samosas with phyllo instead of dough.  They were delicious- beef, crab and veg.  The eggplant salad was good although almost chutney-like, which actually went really well with our lamb tangine to give it a little more flavor.  I don’t think we’ll be rushing back to eat there again (especially since we’ve found a new favorite- keep reading!), but I would recommend the place.

These birds were huge!  Picture from the long run and since the weekend was light on photos, this is what you get.

 On Saturday, J and I met up for our 20 mile long run.  I’m glad I ate carbs the night before!  The run went pretty well and we kept up a pretty good pace.  I slowed down a lot the last 2 miles because my legs felt so heavy but I’m confident that on race day, I can just push through and suck it up for whatever remaining miles are left when that feeling hits.  I mean, unless of course that feeling hits at the 3 mile mark.  Then I think I’d be pretty screwed.

I got back home, showered and took a mini-nap.  Then SMS and I headed to Palo Alto where we bought an office chair for him and then grabbed a late lunch at Sushirrito.  SMS ordered my favorite, the Geisha’s Kiss.  I ordered a salad because I had eaten a big early lunch after my run and wasn’t too hungry.  But then we treated ourselves to ice cream sandwiches at Cream.  I had a half sandwich, which is an off-menu item where I probably saved about 5 calories from a 600 calorie dessert by only having one cookie cut in half instead of two.  Ha, ha.  It’s ok, I wasn’t really doing it for the health benefits.  A half sandwich just sounded like the amount I felt like at that time (clearly, I must not have been right in the head.  When would anyone voluntarily choose half an ice cream sandwich?).

After Palo Alto, we went to Trader Joe’s to stock up for my planned vegan Super Bowl feast.  A lot of our friends are veg and since we had invited them over for the Super Bowl, I wanted to make food everyone could enjoy.  I used recipes from OhSheGlows and ChefChloe to make sliders, enchiladas and cupcakes. It all ended up turning out really well and everyone really enjoyed the food the next day.

Our party was more successful than these game day Skywriting Doritos, I think.

Yes, we had a Super Bowl party!  It was a lot of fun with J and her family and a friend, some neighbors and a SMS co-worker.  People mingled well and seemed to have a great time.  I missed the second half because I was socializing too much but basically, a football game was on while people focused on talking, eating and drinking beer.  Perfect!

Mountain View Weekend

Picchetti Barn

After so much travel the weekend before, SMS and I were pretty mellow this weekend.  The weekend started off early on Thursday with an elongated Happy Hour(s) with two of our friends at Shellshock.  We had a few drinks and delicious food, including many oysters.  And ok, ok, we had mac ‘n’ cheese balls which were so tasty and totally J’s fault for ordering them!

Friday was a mellow day at work and that night, SMS and I went to Blue Line Pizza.  We got the deep dish pizza and it was tasty.  I think I’ll eat deep dish pizza about once a year because it is a heavy meal, even when I don’t eat all that much of it.  SMS and I didn’t even make it through a shared small although never fear, given how dense the dish is, we still had plenty of food.  Then, we headed over to Shellshock for dessert- a strawberry ice cream with puffed pastry delights called the Marilyn Monroe.

The next morning, all my carb loading paid off because it was time for our long run.  J and I ran for 16 miles and even though it was slower than before my injury, I think I’ll catch up pretty soon to my projected timeline.  I was pretty sore afterwards but I’m just so happy to be back, I don’t even care!

Saturday evening, SMS and I went to downtown Palo Alto to go furniture shopping (crazy and wild Saturday night!).  We at dinner at Curry Up Now and had some delicious takes on Indian street food.  I had some chaat and SMS had a roti burrito-style dish.  Yum!

A lot of coordination goes into a pony ride

Sunday was a rest day and SMS and I were lazy in the morning.  He even brought me coffee in bed *swoon!*  I finally got out of bed and we did some yoga to get our stretch on.  Then we headed out to Cooper-Garrod winery to meet up with A, J and their cute little son Ish who went on a pony ride like a champ!  We hung out for a bit and then we all headed over to Picchetti winery, which has the most beautiful picnic grounds.  It was drizzly so we couldn’t take full advantage of it but we’ll be back!  I’d also like to go on a hike from there since there are several trailheads.  Since we didn’t go on a hike, I chased chickens with my new best buddy Ish who now thinks I’m the coolest adult he knows (poor delusional little kid!).

This is a chicken.

Supposedly, this is not a chicken.
Our elusive prey!

Napa Monday

Model’s

After a good night’s sleep I woke up to go to work Napa!  Yes!  I had the day off because my favorite godmother Auntie was in town with two of her friends.  Although their plans had been flexible (and good thing since the weather (boo!) had forced some outside activities cancellations), the Monday plan was pretty firm so we decided to meet up.

I’m so glad we did!  It had been a few years since I saw Maria and we had so much fun!  First, I drove up early in the morning to beat traffic (success!) and then I went to the Oxbow Market, which was closed for cleaning (fail!).  I did get a breakfast sandwich from Model’s Bakery in order to try their famous English muffin, which was pretty good!  Then I headed up the 29 with a quick stop in Yountville to see Bouchon Bakery.  Unlike the last time I was there, the line was non-existent (yay!). I ordered two macarons for SMS and, almost unbelievably, they made it home without me eating them!  I also tried a small amount of croissant which was good, but it’s been awhile since I’ve tried a croissant that I thought was truly sublime.  Maybe that’s too lofty of a standard for a pastry or, at minimum, a little over-the-top for any kind of foodstuff?

Cardinale Tasting Room with a cool time-lapse photo of a single vine

Then, I went to the Cardinale winery and pulled up to the guesthouse where my aunt was staying.  Ok, ok, I may have also driven on a field road since I took my aunt’s instruction of private road a little too literally, but fortunately, I didn’t get stuck in the mud or end up in a ditch so all’s well that ends well…

It’s a warehouse!

The guesthouse was gorgeous and huge!  It used to be the winery owners’ private residence and it was really amazing.  The views over the vineyards were incredible. Oakville is the center point of the valley so there were great views of the two mountain ranges and nearby wineries.  Immediately behind the house was a field with several small brown huts.  It’s actually a disguised barrel cellar with a grass roof.  The huts are the vents and even though it’s obvious that the grassy field has some sort of purpose, it’s pretty neat how circumspect they’ve managed to make a storage facility.

We had a great tasting at Cardinale, sampling Mt Brave, La Jota and two Cardinale cabernet sauvignons, 2008 and 2012.  The most exquisite, sophisticated wine was the 2008 Cardinale but I really liked the Mt. Brave wine.  It was full of blue notes and tasted like the mountain.  *Sigh* Someday, I will be able to pull off wine comparisons.  I’ll be honest- I stole the descriptors from our lovely and knowledgable guides since to me, it just tasted delicious!

After our tour, Maria and I headed to Mustards Grill for a great lunch with two of her cousins.  The food was delicious and we all talked a lot!  I had such a fun time and I hope I see my second cousins again soon!

The “cottage!”  My aunt is in the far left background.

Then, it was chill-out time at the “cottage.”  We made a quick stop at Oakville Grocery, where we bought a delicious Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam cheese.  We made a significant dent in it when we got home.  Then it was time for me to head back to the other Valley (Silicon).  *Le sigh!*  But I couldn’t be too sad because I had such a wonderful day and to see my auntie was a (too) rare treat!

Warehouse view at twilight- end of a great day!

Mini Road Trip: Bodega Bay, Stinson Beach and Mt. Tam

Breakfast in bed!

On the third day of our mini-NorCal road trip, SMS and I awoke a little on the early side and packed up.  Our delicious Boon breakfast came at 8:30.  We had biscuits with honey butter, yogurt with berries and granola and French press coffee.  It was really nice and we got to have breakfast in bed!

The three main towns on the Bohemian Highway

We took off down the 116 and then made a left onto the Bohemian Highway.  It’s about 10 miles long and goes through three main towns: Monte Rio, Occidental and Freestone.  The road mostly cuts through the forest but by Freestone, there is lovely rolling hills and pasture land.  Occidental seemed like a nice place to stay and I’d love to stop in Freestone to go to the bakery and creamery in the future but since it was early and New Year’s Eve, everything was closed.

Bodega Bay on the left and Jenner by the Sea on the right
We made our way to Bodega Bay and walked on the beach for a little while.  The surf was pretty intense and there were a lot of surfers out there.  Salmon Creek meets the Pacific at that area and I wanted to see the entrance of the Russian River to the Pacific so we drove up to Jenner by the Sea.  The view was beautiful and I read that depending on the tides and time of year, the meeting of the two can be very impressive.  While it was very pretty, there was no great clash between the bodies of water and the river gently dwindled in size and entered into a little cove.  We saw two seals swimming in there.  The spot is probably great for whale watching so maybe later in the Spring, we’ll check it out again.
Old friends and new!

We drove through Petaluma and stopped at Lagunitas brewery for lunch.  It was awesome!  Super laid-back vibe and lots of heat lamps and sun.  We sat outside and shared nachos and cream of mushroom soup.  Not a soup I’d normally order but I was told it was delicious and that was a fact!  We had a sampler there and I really wanted some more of the sour wheat with mango and passionfruit (citrus-y without sweetness like a Sour Patch kid), but they didn’t put any of the limited releases in growlers so I will just have the little sampler memory!  At Lagunitas, we also saw the saddest looking dog we’ve ever seen under the keyboard.  I wanted to adopt him, but I think he’s probably the brewery’s mascot.

Amazing View!

After lunch, we drove to the East Peak of Mt. Tam.  We drove to the end of the road and parked near the lookout tower.  The walk is very short to the top and the views are completely stunning.  The area is an incredible contrast of preserved park land and high-density development.  We took in the views for a while before heading down to Stinson beach for a longer hike.

Another view with SMS in the foreground; L: a relief map of the area, we were on the top-right peak

Golden hour hiking

The hike started through the forest and went up into the hills overlooking the town of Stinson Beach.  It was absolutely gorgeous and I really wanted to do a complete loop hike but unfortunately, we had started too late so we turned back.  I was disappointed but we had seen so many other awesome things that day, I had to get over my pout-fest/temper tantrum that I couldn’t control nature or the sun.  (“Sun!  Stop setting!”)

The sun set.

We drove home and I made a pretty good NYE’s dinner of rack of lamb and roasted cauliflower mash accompanied by champagne!  The lamb was cooked in two stages since after the first time period was up, it was still really rare.  It was still really tender and delicious though.  Then, we watched Ex Machina, which I had heard about in the pre-Oscar nomination buzz and it was pretty good.  Although our NYE wasn’t party-heavy, it was exactly what I wanted since we were able to explore so much of the region in the last few days and to me, that’s what this “year” (July 15- July 16) is about- taking advantage of this pretty cool opportunity to live in such a vibrant, cutting-edge area.