Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympic Ceremonies, 2012

Sometimes it is good to stay home....

The Opening Ceremonies are big fun to watch.  We enhanced them with this collection of cocktails.  Can you tell what it is supposed to be?

It's the Olympic Ring logo!

Actually some of them were undrinkable-green is peppermint schnapps with food coloring!  Yellow is Galliano and Gatorade.  Blue is blue raspberry mix and vodka, red is cointreau and powerdade (though Campari would work) and black is an actual Black Russian.

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 4th in San Luis Obispo

July 4th weekend, 2012

This year the 4th is on a Wednesday, which is less exciting if you only take off Wednesday, but awesome if you can turn it into a 5 day weekend.

E- and I went with a fairly large group of friends to the San Luis Obispo area.  I was especially excited to stay in the Madonna Inn, which we had heard about from different friends.  I really wanted a waterfall type room, so I requested William Tell, and it didn't disappoint!

The outside of the main building-notice the rocks.

Our front door

The window succession tells the story


The waterfall shower is awesome!!

The hotel brand toiletries

The story is that Alex Madonna was in construction and made a lot of money building Highway 101.  He wanted to run a hotel and he loved building with the local rocks.  So many of the rooms have rock themes-Caveman for example.  I suspect he was also influenced by his wife because pink is the theme color of the hotel.  We got to peek into another room that was completely shiny/sparkly pink.  You should stay if you get a chance.  Just know that the walls are INCREDIBLY thin and your neighbors will hear everything (speaking as one of the neighbors who heard it all)!

We had a group birthday dinner in Pismo Beach at Guisseppi's Italian restaurant.  The pizza oven is covered in an octopus mosaic that I really liked.  Afterwards we walks a couple blocks to the beach and saw the 4th of July fireworks.

Birthday Brunch at the Gardens of Avila was big fun because we had a whole room to ourselves and the kids had space to run around.  This is attached to a resort with hot springs and I would love to go back.  There are also nice trails that go down to the beach town of Avila, which is where we went after brunch.  Beach afternoon was lovely even though I didn't even dip a toe in the water.

Dinner was at the farmers market in San Luis Obisbo, nickname SLO.  Turns out SLO is a fantastic little town.  They have a lively downtown with lots of restaurants/bars, a fair number of boutique clothing stores, some touristy stores, but most importantly there is a game store, a comic store, AND a chain book store. The farmers market was super popular and we got to eat pasties (British meat pies), freshly roasted corn on the cob (amazing!!), golden raspberries and pie.

Breakfast at the Copper cafe, in the Madonna Inn.  It is worthwhile to drop in for the decor, most of which is over the top, but includes a lot of nicely carved wood.  A carload of us go driving around the area, stopping in Arroyo Grande.  There is an amazing ice cream shop, Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream Lab.  I want my birthday party here!

We take the afternoon to hang at the pool and hot tub.  We drink pool drinks and eat pool snacks-ah, vacation!

The poolside waterfall turns into a gusher every hour, which I didn't know when I took this picture.

We want to do the leisurely drive up the 1 to get home.  It takes a couple extra hours, but is good to do every couple of years. We stop for breakfast tacos in Los Osos and then the Hearst castle visitor center.  The drive is incredibly scenic and half the time it is full on sun and half the time it is almost full fog.  The best stop was when we watched the seals hanging out on the rocks.  The tide was coming in and one seal got washed off completely and left, but the second seal loved that rock and kept getting back on.  He couldn't get comfortable so kept turning around and just as he found a good spot a large wave washed him off to start over again.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

San Francisco June 2012, opera and comedy

Comedy in San Francisco

A good friend has a favorite comedy group that we have been wanting to see together and this time all the stars aligned! E- and I went with Louis and his friends Sue and John to see 3 for all, an improv group, at Fort Mason.  We had a quick dinner at The Plant Cafe where everything is organic and non-red meat.  Reasonably priced and tasty-I would eat here again, though I won't specifically make a trip.

The comedy was definitely worthwhile and they have quite a fan base that shows up early to get the front seats and sell out venues quickly. They take suggestions from the audience to create short scenes in the first half and then a movie title that has never existed for the second half. During the short scenes one of the guys had a lovely song about tuna, to which the other fellow demanded he perform the mackerel song. Our movie was A Small Pudding and turned out to be a British turn of the century drama/romance. The three men each had to play 3-4 characters each-the four sisters, the father, son and aunt, the butler, school friends, and a dead mother. It is amazing to watch as they change parts rapidly, making up the story line as they go along!

Nixon in China by the San Francisco Opera

There are some live performances that are not staged very often, so when there is a chance, we jump on them.  Nixon in China is one of those performances.  I am usually the opera goer, but E- likes the modern stuff.  We saw the IU Bloomington version about 15 years ago and he bought the soundtrack.  So when I saw that the SF opera company was putting it on, I knew we had to go.

We had never been to the War Memorial Opera House and it is definitely worth a trip.  Gorgeous classic pillars, a great view off the balcony, plushy red seats and ornate fixtures.  The performance itself was also quiet good-staging was interesting (why does everyone always clap for the airplane?!?), costumes were spot on and the singing passed my (admittedly uneducated) standards.  We did sneak out after the second act because the third is pretty much guaranteed to put you to sleep-it is set in the bedrooms!  Even though I am glad I went, I am not about to sign up for a season pass.  It is a bit of a drive because you will always be in traffic.  The parking is bad and public transportation, though possible, is inconvenient.  The tickets are way more expensive than San Jose Opera and the crowd is a little dressier.

We did stay overnight in a fun spot.  A restaurant called Sauce, bought the upstairs, turned them into rooms and calls it Sleep Over Sauce.  The price is good for the area.  You can have a private or shared bath.  The feeling is relaxed and customized (we slept in the Haight room). And I have heard the food is good.  Sadly we did not get to try any good food because traffic was so bad we didn't have enough time.

I did see my favorite version of hotel shampoo and soap though!  The refillable container-yeah!  I do love to take home the little bottles of shampoo and bodywash.  But they are always a little wrong, the bottles are hard to use, and of course the waste of plastic is just a bad idea.

Best hotel soap-high quality in a refillable container.  Brand Name:  Simple Human

Fun customized soaps, but hard to open tops.

Worst hotel toiletries ever-hard to open and impossible to read

Nice idea-the brand name refers to the fact that 99% of their packaging contains 60% post-consumer content.  And the soap leaves out the part you never use, the middle!

Best for travel because you know the difference between shampoo and conditioner by shape!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tahoe, July 2012

A quick trip to Tahoe to see my little friend in his first Triathalon.

My young friend, age 6, was doing his first triathalon at Lake Donner, so of course I wanted to see that. The family got a Lake Donner home rental that was of course amazing. Ping pong table, bunk beds, hot tub, view of the lake, giant everything-the couch had 11 sectional pieces! We ate snacks and drank wine on the deck as the sun went down and in the morning walked down the hill to the lake for the race.

The race was pretty much the cutest thing ever-all these tiny people in what feels like a grown-up activity. The different ages started in different waves so everyone was spread out across the course and it gave just the right level of activity on the course.

                                                                              Go #50!!

Afterwards I spent the weekend north of Sacramento with my very pregnant friend who made me my favorite-snickerdoodles!! We tamed weeds, picked giant zucchini and ate-basic chillaxing :)