Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time!

2019 Christmas Card of the Year!

Christmas festivities throughout December…


I blogged about it “December 7” thanks to back-dating, but SMS and I went to December Lights and recreated our meeting 7 years ago!  We went during the day because we went to his sister and husband’s Christmas party that evening.


The next week, I travelled back to Virginia to do three cochlear implants.  It was supposed to be four but my last patient had uncontrolled hypertension with a headache. So, elective surgery was deemed too risky.  In addition to resident lectures and operating, I had a very full social calendar!  On the Wednesday, I got my haircut by MonaLisa.  If you are ever in Norfolk, she has my highest recommendation!  She also cuts the most stylish couple in Norfolk’s hair so if my hair looks like a rat’s nest, it’s my fault, not MonaLisa!  That evening, I went to Codex for a solo dinner.  The next night, I went to Codex with my two friends from the Norfolk bookclub I started and is still going strong.  On Friday, I went to SantaLand Diaries at the Well theater with my friend and several of her neighborhood women friends.  It was a great group, the play was awesome, and we went out to St. Germaine’s for drinks afterwards.

On Saturday, I got up at 4:15 (ugh!) to catch a flight back to the West Coast for SMS’ company party, a huge bash with 700+ guests in a transformed space at the company’s headquarters.  It was a really well done, festive affair!

Looking sparkly for the party, per invite dress code!


Photos weren’t allowed inside so we took advantage of the photo station!

The next week, back in San Diego, I went to a very cute and mercifully short school holiday concert that Rip and Linda’s neighbor’s children participated in.  It definitely put us in the Christmas spirit!


Festive attire!  Would have fit in at Lucid!

Christmas cards started trickling in and I was delighted to receive a card from my friend’s nom de plume persona, who is a successful writer of motorcycle club romance novels.  Did you know that romance novels have lots of sub-genres?  Since I don’t really read them (except some of my friend’s books), it was news to me.

This would fall on Santa’s naughty list!

SMS and I went to the Crack Shack when he arrived for the Christmas holiday week.  It was very delicious.  I got the matzo ball pozole and can definitely recommend.  Not so sure about the bathrobe sweater look on anyone under 6 feet tall but, hey, I’m trying to stay up with the trends!  Tag did not specify height requirement!

Festive chicken!
Delightfully fuzzy Sherpa sweater/pajama top from Mom and Dad. Also trendy!

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas in Newport Beach.  We had family quality time with SMS’ Mom and Dad, and his two grandfathers at two different family dinners.

Christmas morning rainbow!


Norfolk friends we saw in Costa Mesa.  Jordan and I feel this picture is truest to life!  Handsome men with laayyyy-ddiiiess!!!



Highlights: November 2019

Another month mash-up!  At the beginning of the month, SMS and I took a walk over to the Cantor Arts Center.  We enjoyed the temporary exhibit West x Southwest: Edward Weston and Ansel Adams.  We also looked at the objects in the “Melancholy Museum,” an organized presentation of many items collected by Leland Stanford the III, the only child of Leland Stanford, Jr. and who died at the age of 16 from typhoid.  The pictures above are the death masks of the three Stanfords (macabre!) and on the left, an Ansel Adams picture.  Mrs. Stanford’s death story is especially interesting since she was poisoned twice and the second time, died.  She was murdered and it is an unsolved crime!!!


I went to UCSD for Grand Rounds during the week and decided to document this statue’s ignominy of getting constantly crapped on by birds.


SMS gave me this cool mug!  Thank you!!!

Haha, the perils of taking your questions to the internet!

SMS and I spent the weekend in Newport.  I got a breakfast-in-a-glass Bloody Mary and had SMS take a picture in front of Birdie to show to the paraquitos!


Newport Beach, CA


The next weekend, I took a few days off of work for a family vacation.  First, I stayed with my grandfather in Stuart, FL for  a few days which was really relaxing and fun.  My grandfather just became a Bridge Master, so I took a picture of his trophy glass.  I also took a picture of the many panic button lanyards at the gym…hazards of working out when older but hey, it’s good to be alive and kicking, just not on the floor unable to get up.

Then I drove down to Bay Harbour/North Miami for a family wedding, Dad’s side.  On the way, I stopped for lunch and a quick walk at the Morikami Museum.  The Japanese gardens were gorgeous.  I enjoyed lunch on an outdoor deck and during that time, I decided I really liked Southern Florida in November!

I was the only one of my immediate family who could make it and since my cousins had been great in coming to our weddings, I wanted to show up for theirs.  It was absolutely beautiful with a ceremony on the beach and the reception indoors at the Four Seasons.


Selfie with my aunt and uncle who still tell me stories about when I would sleep over at their apartment in NYC, circa 1985.

On the way back, I connected through Chicago which meant I could get a margarita roadie to go while making my way across the airport.  Yeah, I really needed that!  *Eyeroll*  But how can I stay away from Rick Bayless?!?!  I also met a woman who has a “real” company and a “fun” company.  We talked about her “fun” company, which specializes in cashmere onesies.  She was rocking one herself and both the flight attendant and I thought it was wonderful.  It’s pricy but so tempting!  Don’t worry, have still resisted temptation…so far!

I arrived home to a full apartment since our friends were visiting.  The A family had a crazy-busy San Diego itinerary- they went to the Zoo, Safari Park, Legoland, AND SeaWorld!  I worked during the week, but we would meet up afterwards for dinner.  On Wednesday, I watched Ishaan while the parents had a date night.  Even though Ishaan and I had fun, I am no match in the popularity contest once SMS arrives!

Yes, Ishaan made SMS a poster and we picked him up from the airport.  On the way back, we stopped at the Spruce St suspension bridge, which made Ishaan a little nervous.


The next day, we all went to La Jolla for lunch at the Taco Stand (so good!), followed by a trip down to the Cove and the Children’s Beach, now overrun by sunbathing seals.

Drinks in La Jolla!

Afterwards, we went to Cabrillo National Monument and walked around the tide pools at sunset.  It was beautiful!

Dos amigos!

We went to the top to overlook San Diego and saw a really cool focal rain storm.  It was hard to capture on camera, but we did our best!


We met up with John at Craft & Commerce, which everyone enjoyed.  Jyotsna ranked their cocktails slightly higher than Herb & Wood, but thought both places were amazing.


Finally, SMS and I found a new-to-us restaurant, A Taste of Denmark.  Their smørrebrøds, with homemade multigrain bread, were on point!  The herring was my favorite.

To end the month, SMS and I took a walk through the Hotel Del to look at the Christmas decorations.  We also caught a beautiful sunset from the beach.

Highlights: October 2019


Wrapping up October with a quick fly-by!  I have to be done by the New Year- new resolution, more frequent blogging.  This has only been made and broken many times!

So, first things first.  The above picture is from a dresser I have from my parents.  It dates back to childhood and I just recently noticed by sister’s long-ago vandalism.  When I texted her on WhatsApp (would we ever have thought?!) she said, “That’s me!!”


I finally got my own office and moved out of my temporary digs.  As a present, I left a few Milk Duds in the toilet bowl (see an earlier post entitled, Office Prankster).  I think it’s funny and I’m fairly certain was never seen by anyone other than me and the janitor.

I found Sidecar Doughnuts in Del Mar Heights.  This was a delicious, although unnecessary, discovery.

SMS and I took a hike at Huddart Park after the Wunderlich parking lot was full.  It ended up being a stroke of good luck because now we know of two cool parks to hike in, both with second-growth redwoods.  From the sign, it would be safer to have a child with us that we can hold in front of us should a mountain lion stalk us.


We also went to the Blue Angels show during Fleet Week, San Francisco.  I tried very hard to picture myself as a sailor.  Hmmmm….  The Blue Angels were pretty spectacular and we had a great spot on a gorgeous day!


I got tickets to the SLAC Community Open House and surprised SMS with a fun date night.  I feel this date night disappointed my sister-in-law, whom I had told we had a cool date night and the next day, when I told her where it was, I could feel the palpable “You guys are such dorks” waves come through the phone lines.

We managed to get some limited tickets to see the actual linear accelerator.  It was very cool so I took a few photos.  I think I need a klystron, with accompanying warning sign, in my own workspace.


I found a cool outdoor/indoor coffee bar in Little Italy, Lofty!

Jenny invited me to Lizzo!  It was an excellent concert!

SMS and I had San Diego’s best!breakfast! at Hob Nob Hill restaurant.


New wall art!


Pretty flower shop in at the North Park/South Park junction!


Hanging out in San Diego, not sure where?  Wait!  We are at Cabrillo National Monument.  Looking cute, might delete later!

And finally, Halloween.  The department secretary organized everyone (read: six fools) to buy Waldo costumes, which was a lot of fun.  I made a layered chocolate cake from Martha Stewart, which was delicious.  I did have a Martha fail while making it (see rightmost photo), where I learned that you can over whip Whipped Cream!

Highlights: August 2019 (Part 3: San Diego and Wedding Prep!)


Look at me, look at me!  Looking like a total idiot!  Ok, ok, many of you will think I look nice and to that, I say “Thank you.”  But look at the photo carefully.  What is wrong?  I certainly didn’t know until someone told me at a very high-level change of command I was attending.  So high level that there were several people who noticed that I, a lowly Commander, was wearing an admiral’s hat!  I had run into the uniform shop with barely any time to spare since the evening before, they had closed an hour earlier than what was listed online.  Since I have a bowling ball for a head, there are very few covers stocked in my size.  I found one, saw that it had gold braid on it, and bought it, thinking it was the hat for O-5 and above.  I forgot that O-7+ hats have extra gold braid and, there you have it, that’s the explanation for my uniform faux pas.

The thing that sucks about having something wrong with your uniform at a big event is that there is nothing you can do about it.  Did a ribbon fall off?  That’s too bad.  Mix up your mini and normal sized medals?  You’re an idiot.  Wear an admiral’s hat when you’re not an admiral?  Oh, how people will talk!  So, someone will come up and “nicely” point out that you look like a total moron and then you have to say, “Oh, thank you!  I do look like a total moron!”  Alas, there is no concession stand-like uniform shop that will allow you to remedy the mistake.  Really, you should just find someone wearing a sword and commit seppuku.  That’s about the only acceptable response.

Well, really, I did actually think about leaving but then I was like, “You know what?  Ef it.”  And the funny thing was almost no one noticed.  Almost no one.  I was talking to an acquaintance at an evening afterparty and she laughed so hard when I told her the story but then she said thank you because she apparently started talking to an important nurse attendee after the important nurse said, “Did you see that person wearing the totally wrong cover?”

Anyway, moving on.  Look at this little slice of paradise I stayed at in August!  It’s my in-laws’ house!  They were so nice and let me stay for the first few weeks while I was in town.  The birds stayed at Our Feathered Friends, a bird-boarding hotel (seriously).  I was traveling a lot in August and didn’t want to worry about the messy birds while a guest at someone’s house.


And my in-laws have delightful neighbors.  So, now I have neighborhood friends who will play with me!


I saw the Avett Brothers in August.  It was a great show.  I saw them the year prior in Portsmouth and I highly recommend seeing them.  They have huge energy live.


Mid-month, I went back to Silicon Valley where SMS and I randomly went by a Leaf test-drive event.  We got free cups and played with the charger.

Will charge you with electricity and/or coffee!
My favorite water tower in Palo Alto!

The last weekend in August was a very special one because I was off to Minnesota for my sister’s wedding!  She and Ricardo have been married legally for over a year (or two?) but this was the actual party.  I was so excited because I was the Maid of Honor!  Yes!

Celebrating with an Aperol Spritz in the Centurian Lounge, yay!


And look who I got to see?!  This little treasure!  He’s so big and handsome…it’s amazing how much a baby grows in a few short months!

Yes, my little nephew is a cutie AND I got to see my other two cutie nephews too!  It was a great family weekend.  A little less cute are a few of the grown-ups I hung out while we were eating fried food as part of a State Fair scavenger hunt.  I myself enjoyed some cheese curds, which were not photo-documented.

The two loons above are eating veggies.  Fried veggies.  That’s about as healthy as it gets at the Minnesota State Fair!

We went to the lamb and sheep station.  I pet a ewe, with trepidation.


The above cow is a cruel joke since SMS really wants to milk a cow at some point.  Cow-milking, though, was after-hours.  Boo!


If you’re feeling hefty after eating fried food and famous chocolate chip cookies, just take a picture in front of the largest boar, 1000+ pounds!


And, finally, after all the running around with the scavenger hunt and trying to shepherd ever-wandering family members, I got a beer.  Why, oh why, do I always pick out the gross flavors.  I really wanted a drink and this was borderline undrinkable. This was a dark stout with a sad piece of bacon.  Blergh.

Recreating a Moment, 7 years later…

SMS was eating these very waffles.  He offered me one but I was on the Whole 30 and disciplined!  No!  No waffles!

SMS and I met seven years ago as I cut across Balboa Park during December Nights to meet up with a group of friends.  On the way, I saw two other friends whom I hadn’t expected to see.  I popped my head over the wall, called out their last name, and SMS thought that this now-she’s-here-now-she’s-gone (had to meet up with that other group!) woman in the red pants with red lipstick was intriguing.  Now, seven years later, we went to a cloudy December Nights during the day and I thought an impromptu photo shoot was in order!

Peering over the wall.  I don’t think the mid-blink look was what caught SMS’ eye.
Picture a nighttime crowd and this is what SMS looked like!  Hasn’t aged a day!
Smiles at December Nights!
The Japanese Friendship Garden.  It is so beautiful!  I can’t wait until the Spring!
Christmas Decorations at the Timken Museum

Real Housewife of Silicon Valley

So, after an amazing Napa trip with my professional wine-tasting in-laws, I took the week off and did my best impression of a Real Housewife of Silicon Valley.  Mainly, this meant that I went to expensive boutique exercise classes.  I went to my favorite SPX pilates class and realized that my core has no strength.  I also tried out Soul Cycle for the first time, which was interesting.  It’s basically a very fancy spin class that charges a LOT of money to pedal furiously in the dark led by enthusiastic instructors with excellent playlists.  I enjoyed it but was worried that I would fall off my bike during the arms section where a rider bounces up and down the handlebars in a sort-of pushup motion while standing up and pedaling very fast.  I felt that this was either going to lead to my face being bashed in or falling over.  Falling over would be bad because the bikes are very close together and I would have fallen on someone.  Fortunately, neither happened. Hooray!

Soul Cycle has a lot of aficionados who like both the workout and the positive vibes that are preached along the way.  I enjoyed myself and would definitely go if it was less expensive but since it’s not, trial membership only for me!

I also ate delicious food!  I’d grab an Americano at Alexander’s and one day, I treated myself to a shave ice at Teaspoon on Castro St.  It was delicious!

SMS and I also went to an Indian restaurant for dinner that featured seating inside of rickshaws and buses.  It was so cool!  We went after climbing at Planet Granite one night and I couldn’t believe we had never gone together before.  I loved it!

After a week of leisure, we flew down to San Diego for my cousin Jim’s wedding.  I had an awesome time hanging out with SMS, my brothers, my cousins, and my aunts & uncles.  SMS and I also tried scooters for the first time, which were a lot of fun.  I had seen my cousin on InstaStory and I knew I wanted to try.  I was definitely the slowest in the group but it was a great way to get to brunch.  My brothers, SMS and I went to brunch the Sunday after the wedding, which was a lot of fun.  One of my brothers barely had any time between brunch and his flight but he made it.  Hooray!

December Travels

In early December, I traveled to Newport Beach for a SMS’ side of the family Christmas party.  We had a really nice time hanging out the weekend and it was pretty low-key.  No new Newport Beach recs, other than SMS’ cousin has a pretty cool leggings line called Goldsheep.  I have a pair and I recommend the line although to be completely honest, it’s better for fashion than for fitness.  Or maybe I should say, they’re not the best for running- yoga and Pilates are fine.   The prints are amazing and cutting-edge.

The end of December, SMS and I traveled to San Diego for Christmas weekend.  We stayed at the La Pensione, a cute and affordable boutique hotel in Little Italy.  I love that neighborhood!  SMS and I met up with his friend for drinks at Craft & Commerce, a very cool bar in Little Italy.  Then we went to SMS’ parents’ house for Christmas dinner.  It was delicious!  We had fillet mignon, salad and mashed potatoes.  It was really delicious and so nice to celebrate with family.  We exchanged gifts and SMS’ parents gave me a gorgeous print of SMS’ Thailand sunset photo and a gift card to Lululemon which I cannot wait to use.  SMS got an Open Table gift card which I hope we can put to good use 🙂

The next day, I went for a run from Little Italy up to Cabrillo National Monument for a total of 14 miles.  It was a gorgeous day and man, do I miss San Diego!   We went to his parents for brunch. Later in the afternoon, we went to his sister’s for a Christmas dinner.  It was amazing!  Perfectly roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, incredible dressing with bread from Bread and Cie (I think), cranberry, green vegetables…I was in heaven.  Don’t get me wrong- I loved our Thanksgiving meal but to have all the sides be homemade?  I was in Heaven.  A Heaven where I ate too much 🙂

San Diego find- Coffee + Flower, an incredible coffee and…um, flower shop!

The next day, SMS and I headed home.  It was a great Christmas weekend and hopefully, we’ll stay in SoCal longer next time!

San Diego Sunday

Brunch setting…by the end, the sun was out completely!

After Wedding Saturday, we spent an idyllic Sunday in San Diego.  The day started off a little overcast but by 1030, it was gorgeous.  We met up with SMS’s sister and brother-in-law for an early Mother’s Day brunch.  We went to the anti-sub base at the end of Point Loma.  The location was beautiful!  We sat outside on the deck and enjoyed a delicious brunch.  There were eggs, taco fixings, smoked salmon, seared ahi, sweet potato hash, crepes, waffles and a dessert bar.  I was surprised at how good it was!

Kind of a ridiculous picture that I sent to my sister to make her jealous but it does show off
what a gorgeous day it was!

We sat for awhile, eating and catching up.  We had a really great time and I highly recommend the brunch if you’re ever at Ocean View, Ballast Point.  Afterward, we headed back to the house and spent time lounging by the pool.  It was fantastic.  I went in the pool, spa and then took a little nap.

The market was so cool and this is the picture I took?

Unfortunately, the time to go to the airport came to soon.  But before we went, we stopped at the new Liberty Public Market, an excellent collection of food stands and mini-restaurants.  I had baked empanadas, which I hadn’t had since enjoying Julia’s in Adams-Morgan, DC.  We ate outside and soaked up a little more sunshine before SMS and I were dropped off at the airport.

The flight was uneventful.  We went straight from the airport to meet up with friends for a late dinner at Oren’s Hummus.  One of friends is going on a last-minute holiday for a few weeks so it was nice to see him before he took off.

San Diego Favorites

I’m not much of a “best ever!” person, but I definitely can be coaxed into making a favorites list. I have had a great time in San Diego, which will soon be over. So, from both this visit and previous ones…

Point Loma Seafood
My younger younger brother showed me this one. Unfortunately when we went, it was closed. But this place has the best seafood sandwiches and platters. They fry all the fish though, so it’s not J’s favorite place but yum! It is so good. The last two times I’ve been, I’ve gotten the Alaskan Haddock sandwich. So, so good.

Bogart Yogurt
J’s stepsister brought us here. The first time I went, I got something chocolate/coffee-ish. But it was instant love when I looked at J’s choice. A berry flavor mixed in with vanilla. I’ve gotten that combo a few times since and it is so good.

Extraordinary Desserts
I haven’t been back this visit but the cakes are so elaborate and delicious. They look like works of art. One time, one of the bakers almost dropped one while transferring it to the display case. We both looked at each other thinking that she was extremely lucky. It could have ended badly. The slices, BTW, are impossible to finish and always decorated with a delicious complimentary (in flavor) sauce swirl.

Surfside Sushi
Half-price roll night, HALF-PRICE ROLL NIGHT!! Oh crunchy roll, I love you. Your questionable deliciousness as a plain roll (imitation crab, say what?) is wiped away in an avalanche of crunchy goodness in the form of fried tempura batter covered in special sauce. Oh, crunchy roll, I whisper sweet nothings to you.

The Mission
The Rosemary Mission egg platter and strawberry-banana pancakes are delicious. Another place I haven’t been to this visit, but oh so tasty.

Torrey Pines
What, no more food? Torrey Pines is gorgeous. I’ve run the trails there a few times and the views are gorgeous and the windswept sand cliff are at once sturdy and precarious.

Coronado Beach
It’s a hike to the water, but a beach not under imminent erosion threat and with beautiful sand holds a place in my heart. It’s also where I devoured most of the Harry Potter book. I know how it all ends!

Cabrillo National Monument
J and I went here last time we were here. It has a seemingly infinite view with rock and sand cliffs. It is so gorgeous and untamed I loved being there. To top it off, we saw a school of dolphins right off the coast. Ridiculously postcard.