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Summer Afternoons with Friends

19 May

Blue Angels

Every year the Blue Angels do a flyover and last year we went to a friend’s rooftop to watch. All the roofs and balconies around us had people on them and there were a ton of boats on the water.
IMG_20191013_150645I don’t know why Horatiu is on that weird angle.

Zoom!
IMG_20191013_153739
White Water Rafting

A few of us went to Coloma to go white water rafting on the American River. We drove up the night before and stayed in a massive AirBNB.

We saw a deer in the backyard, which James was very excited about. This is one of many photos that he took of it.
MVIMG_20191027_110327_1Here we are at the start of our watery journey.
MVIMG_20191026_113712Isn’t the river gorgeous?IMG_20191026_125433We didn’t do a very challenging segment of the river since we had one person who didn’t know how to swim, but it was still nice getting out on the water.

At one point where the water was calm and deep enough, our guide said we could go swimming, and it was freezing! But still fun enough that we did it again later. =)

And this is us near the end of our rafting trip – some a little cold and wet, others (David) a little sunburned.
MVIMG_20191026_153658Oh yeah, in the evening we had our power shut off! There were a bunch of fires in the area and it was quite windy, so PGE was shutting off power to certain areas. It wasn’t too bad, since our host supplied us with lighting and water to flush the toilets.

It also meant that our drive back the next morning had really bad traffic, since everyone was being diverted due to fires or fallen trees, and there were also people evacuating. Pretty bad timing on our part! David and Lauren actually saw small fires on the side of the road on their drive home.

So we actually ended up taking twice as long to get home as expected. =( But at least we had power when we got back!

Celebrating our 11th Wedding Anniversary

13 May

The latest coronavirus news is that the lockdown will continue to June and James will be working from home until the end of the year. In the meantime, I will continue to document the fun things we did last year (maybe if this goes on long enough I’ll eventually catch up!)

Swan Oyster

Last year for our 11th wedding anniversary James took the day off work and we finally went to Swan Oyster Depot. Since it was a weekday we thought the line wouldn’t be too bad, but we got there 10 minutes before opening and still didn’t make it for the first seating.
IMG_20190808_110938 Service and food were amazing and prices were reasonable but more than you would expect to pay at a cash-only restaurant.IMG_20190808_113201We were chatting with our waiter, and apparently you can call them before opening time and order for takeout! I think that’s what I would do next time since we live within walking distance.IMG_20190808_114504

Capo’s

We had a fortifying nap in the afternoon and in the evening we went to Capo’s. It’s by the same guy as Tony’s but with more of a focus on Chicago style pizzas. Again, it was busier than we expected and we could only get a seat at the bar. We were initially disappointed, but our bartender turned out to be super friendly, and when he found out it was our anniversary he showered us with free food and drinks.

It’s hard to tell in the photos, but this is an absolute shit ton of prosciutto! Normally when you order it you get a couple of delicate slivers, but nope, this free prosciutto was bountiful.
IMG_20190808_191202Our fantastic bartender also steered us away from a cocktail (it was listed prominently on the menu so James thought it was a really good drink but apparently that brand had an arrangement with the restaurant), was really friendly, and kept plying us with celebratory shots.

Look at this pizza!
MVIMG_20190808_194309Also we were pretty tipsy here since there had already been a couple of rounds of free shots, plus the drinks we actually ordered.

The pizza was so filling and we ended up taking most of it home. But not before our bartender gave us a free tiramisu (and goodbye drinks).
IMG_20190808_202459It was a super fun dinner and by the time we left we were wasted – absolutely wasted.
MVIMG_20190808_202507

Sonoma Wine Country Visit

23 Apr

In better, more free-range 2019 times, James and I went on a wine weekend with some friends from Seattle. We drove from SF to a little AirBNB near downtown Sonoma.

Napa and Sonoma have really great tasting rooms, so it was really fun doing a bunch of tastings, but gosh the tastings (and wines!) are expensive. On Friday night we went to Pangloss in downtown Sonoma before dinner, and had a fantastic time drinking wine and catching up.

Saturday morning we started at Sebastiani:
IMG_20190831_121213 Their tasting was the best value – if you bought the cheapest wine the tasting was free. Freee!

At Gundlach Bundschu:IMG_20190831_150743 Grapes on the vine: IMG_20190831_135705There weren’t any savings buying cellar door compared to retail, and yet here we are with our purchases:
MVIMG_20190831_150451Also you can’t really tell from the photos but it was hot as balls that weekend.

On Sunday we went to a few vineyards, but it turns out I didn’t take many photos. We did buy a fairly expensive zin at Arandell that I feel we will be too intimidated to drink.

Here we are at the Ferrari Carano grounds:
MVIMG_20190901_162500We ended the day at Healdsburg, which we all really liked. It had a cute town square with a lot of tasting rooms so you didn’t have to drive.

Even though the wines were unexpectedly expensive, we all had a great time and it inspired me and James to explore the Piedmont wine region in Italy when we visited. AJ and Surabhi really liked the wine tour they did in Tuscany, and strongly encouraged us to do some tastings in Italy, and I’m glad they did!

Some of the wineries we wanted to visit were booked out – it was a holiday weekend and we hadn’t planned in advance, oops. But the great thing about Napa/Sonoma wine country is that you can still have a pretty fantastic weekend without having to plan anything in advance. =)

Games with Friends

24 Mar

One of the ways James and I have been coping with the isolation is playing games online with friends. On Saturday we played Codenames on Tabletop Simulator (I was able to link “concert”, “guitar”, Shakespeare” and “dance’ with the clue “performance” and was quite pleased with myself).

Then in the evening we played Drawful 2. We were all on the same Discord chat and James used his PS4 to stream the game on YouTube so everyone could see the prompts as we played. Aside from some lag it worked out pretty well.

For those who don’t know how Drawful works, everyone gets a prompt for a random thing to draw. Then the game will show one person’s drawing, and everyone else has to write a prompt for it. Then everyone but the drawer will guess what they think the actual prompt was. It’s fun because the drawings are almost always awful (you can’t erase!) and the original prompts are so random that almost any answer is plausible.

Our favourite answer was Kyle’s in the bottom right: Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 08.38.18The one that most people thought was the correct answer was “man yelling at tomato”. The actual correct answer was “yelling at a peach”.

James has also been playing Heroes of the Storm with friends and they’re talking about starting a DnD campaign. Meanwhile I’ve bought a Nintendo Switch for Animal Crossing (fingers crossed it ships and they’re not out of stock).

Also last night when we were playing Gloomhaven, Mouse was perched on James’ shoulder and they were both concentrating really hard on James’ hand of cards. It was so cute – I’m kicking myself for not taking a photo!

Coronavirus Update

17 Mar

What a start to 2020. =/

Last night SF (and most of the Bay Area) banned leaving your house for non-essential reasons. You can still do grocery shopping, go to the pharmacy, walk your dog, get takeaway food, etc. but obviously it’s affected a lot of businesses. We are more fortunate than most in that it doesn’t impact us that much – James has been working from home since last week and we’d already been staying in to help flatten the curve.

A couple of months back I bought some yeast and a few kg of flour because I wanted to try making no-knead bread. Which was really lucky because now everywhere (including the online store I bought the flour from) is sold out of bread and all bread-making products.

This was attempt #2 (#1 didn’t rise enough and made a very stingy loaf):
IMG_20200311_172546 (1)I was pretty pleased with it! That night I made some tomato soup to go with it for dinner and it felt really nice and homey.

James went for a run this morning (which we’re allowed to do as long as we stay 6 feet away from others) and popped into our local Safeway just in case.

Meat:
IMG_20200317_090943 Bread: IMG_20200317_090807(He said the tortillas were completely cleared out too and suspects that people have been using them to wipe their bums)

Toilet paper:
IMG_20200317_090643_MPI know that the shortages are logistical and that if people calm down then supply should go back to normal, but it’s hard not to panic a little when you see empty supermarket shelves, then go online and see that Target and Amazon are both sold out. Plus Australia started their panic buying before us and they still have shortages.

If there are still toilet paper shortages in a month we’ll be in trouble, but as of right now we’re OK. I did my usual bulk buy a couple of months back and this is our current stash:IMG_20200310_132021They’re the mega rolls as well, so they last a lot longer than normal ones.

But like I said earlier, we’re in a much better position than most since we keep a well-stocked fridge and pantry to begin with. (All Will has in his fridge is beer, seltzer and hummus – how does he live like that??) James’ job is safe and tech companies switched to working from home very early on. I’m mainly worried about friends and family in more affected industries.

But anyway, in happier news, yesterday we brought up a desk from downstairs so James could have an office nook instead of working off the dining room table:
2020-03-17He went to work yesterday to grab his big monitor and some other WFH things since he wasn’t sure he’d be allowed to today. Also there at work: a big pack of ginger beer we bought earlier this year. Score!

The cats have been thrilled at the additional James snuggle time and have been attending his video conferences to keep up company morale. It’s usually Mouse jumping on James’ shoulders, but James said sometimes Kyoto will peer at his webcam and all everyone can see is a close up of his nose and whiskers.

It’s my 37th birthday later this week and I guess we’ll be celebrating by ordering in. =) Though James’ parents are sending me a gorgeous pie plate from this Etsy store which I’m really excited about:
il_1588xN.989340577_o2wwI’m going to make quarantine quiche! (Or we’ll see, depending on egg supplies – we have eggs but maybe I should be rationing them. But I’ll make something).

Entertainment-wise we’re pretty set – it’s like we’ve been training for this our entire lives. I have a library membership so I can borrow all the e-books I want, we have Netflix, a PS4, and a massive supply of board games. I think we’ll finally be able to finish the Gloomhaven campaign that we’ve been slowly chipping away at for over a year.

So anyway, that’s my update. Hopefully we all come out of this OK. =)

A Summer Hike

9 Mar

Last year we went on a mini hike with some friends to the Tourist Club near Mt Tam. It’s a member’s only German-style beer hall that’s open to the public a few days a year, so we thought we’d go check it out.

We parked at the trailhead and hiked to the lodge. We climbed a billion stairs on the Dipsea trail, then walked through some nice fields and forest.
MVIMG_20190825_114214I see you in the distance, fog!

The Tourist Club was charmingly tucked into the forest.
IMG_20190825_175428Even though we got there early there was already a line. We could bring our own food and snacks but they asked people to buy drinks there, which was pretty reasonable. I think they even had some pickles for sale.
IMG_20190825_174857 We got a good table and had brought some games to play so it was just a really nice, chill afternoon.

This photo was taken at close, but during the day the stage and the ground were completely covered in people.
IMG_20190825_175316Us and our precious, precious table: MVIMG_20190825_175217On the walk back the fog was definitely rolling in and it was even a bit chilly.IMG_20190825_180158 I just thought this was a nice photo. =)
IMG_20190825_180700One last group shot before the stairs and then the drive home.
MVIMG_20190825_180015

A Quick Visit Back to Seattle

24 Feb

James and I had been promising our Seattle friends that we would visit and, five years later, we finally fulfilled that promise.

We stayed with our friends who live in a gorgeous house right by the Puget Sound. They regularly go out on a boat or paddleboard and catch crabs, which is so cool.

Madeleine with her catch:
MVIMG_20190704_110928The crab cooking process:
MVIMG_20190704_115459Tada!IMG_20190704_122115The next day Greg and Harin invited us to their place to see the 4th of July fireworks show. We also got to catch up with Roula and Lachlan so that was great.

They have a fantastic view of South Lake Union:
IMG_20190704_195708 Which was great for the fireworks: IMG_20190704_223642Our final day in Seattle, Luke and Madeleine suggested we go for a hike. That’s one of the things I really miss about our Seattle group – how outdoorsy everyone was.

I’d forgotten how gorgeous the hikes are:
IMG_20190705_113205 Our lunch spot (which we shared with some flies). The lake was initially covered in fog, but cleared up partway through. The reflection of the trees in the water is so cool.IMG_20190705_121810A group shot! The lighting is a little weird because James had his phone in night mode, but you can see the fogginess of the lake and also that I’m doing my part to help carry baby accessories.
IMG_20190705_125808Walking back:
IMG_20190705_131331Other stuff we did that was not pictured: dinner with some of the old gang, and ramen and cocktails (and Rachel’s Ginger Beer!!!!) with AJ and Surabhi.

I couldn’t believe how much Seattle has grown since we’ve been gone. There are a ton more restaurants, the light rail got extended, Amazon is even more massive, and traffic in the Belltown/SLU area is awful now.

It was just a short trip and we didn’t get to see everyone we wanted, but I guess that’s just incentive to go back (hopefully before another five years go by)!