Art-O-Mat Treasures

Notes from the plane: when you are hitting turbulence is not the time to try and fix your dropped stitches in your knitting.

On the way home: I was in the aisle trying to get to my seat, and one of my board members was already seated, and I said to him, “I told you I am right behind you and I am going to kick you all the way!” Unfortunately the guy in front of me in the aisle thought I was talking to HIM! He thought I thought he was taking too much time to get his stuff stowed in the overhead. When we got it straightened out, he said, “That’s OK, I’m used to women talking to me like that.” Which, I am sure, is a whole ‘nother story.

So this is what I got from the Art-O-Mat. Sara O., I am not posting yours, so they will be a surprise!

This is a hand made print on a wood block, called “Linozoic,” by Dr. Rafe Sagarin, This one is pretty cool but I see by his website that he has an octopus…..if I had known that I probably would have emptied out his column on the machine.

This is a collage by Rachel Freeman. Collage Art Site. Rachel Freeman’s Mail Art Site. She is from Kansas, so that is partly why I picked her. I really like this windmill.Really enjoy looking through here site, I might have to try trading art by mail with her.

This is Carrot, my Inanimate Pet in a handmade sweater. By Leticia Miller. I have not yet registered Carrot so her friends can see where she settled down, but I intend to. The website has a cute story about where she came from. I was hard pressed to not get several of these.

This piece is called “Ode to Harold” and comes with a poem about a book that inspired the artist. I love it because it has two tiny perfect knitting needle, AND knitting on them. I got an extra for our Knit Knight Christmas gift exchange. If you are a Knit Knight member, please try and forget about this between now and next

This was the first seascape I got. I knew I had to have more.

This was the 2nd one I got, and then I knew I had to have a third one, because they would make a lovely little triptych.

This is my 3rd seascape. I love them all but this is my very favorite. They are by Helena M. Langley,

So I am very happy with my souvenirs. I am going to put the seascapes where I can see them and pretend…..

Tomorrow: Done with the Nautilus Quilt!

Adventures in DC and with the Art o Mat

This was a remarkably uneventful trip (for me). None of the usual excitement of almost missing my flight, losing my keys, phone, purse, etc. It was snowing Tuesday morning when I had to meet my mailing guy and drop off some postcards with him, which didn’t bode well for the plane leaving on time, and it didn’t, but we didn’t have anywhere we needed to be that night.The incoming flight was late and the plane had to be de-iced as we left, but like I said, no rush to get there.

Our meeting is in DC, but my boss owns a timeshare in Alexandria, VA, so we stay out there and take the Metro into DC.

Sorry, no food pictures, my board members think I am quite weird already.

The first night we walked 12 blocks (good warm up for the next few days and all of the walking we would do on Capitol Hill) to The Warehouse, which is kind of spendy but a really good place to eat. I had the she crab soup, raw oysters, and crab/shrimp beignets. The soup was good and the oysters were excellent, the beignets were extremely MEH, which I should have taken as a warning for all cakey/croquetty things to come that week. Coconut rum cake for dessert, which was also good, but didn’t knock my socks off.

We had our first day of Hill visits the next day, visiting five Congressional offices. They all went well. Ate lunch at Bullfeathers near the Hill, had a seared tuna sandwhich which was just OK. The corn chowder was good but he snatched it away when I still had 3 bites left, which didn’t make me very happy.

We tried a place we hadn’t eaten before in Alexandria for dinner, Geranio Italian. It was good, probably the best meal we had (in my opinion) all week. I had the Five Onion Soup with Gorgonzola Crostini, was was not at all like French Onion soup, this was a light colored broth with all kinds of onion slices, and the crouton with cheese was quite small, really a garnish. There were a lot of green onions and leeks, I think. I quite liked it, it was different. I had the lobster risotto, which came with 1/2 of a 1 lb lobster, and they removed the meat for you, so no shell. Although 1/2 of the meat from a 1 lb lobster isn’t really very much, it was about just right for a serving size, and the risotto was excellent. Three of us had that, all of us gave it thumbs up. I had the creme brulee for dessert, it was good, kind of hard to ruin creme brulee, but I have been places where they did it.

2nd day of Hill visits went fine, although I left my phone in one of the offices and had to return and retrieve it. Weather was nice, sometimes we are tramping around back there when it is freezing cold. We ate at La Loma (no website that I could find), which is close to the Senate side of the Hill, and is one of our traditional places to eat when we are there. I had the ceviche and tortilla soup. The ceviche was not a huge serving size, but after the usual chips and dip, it was just right. We were done by 3:00 so I took off and tried to go to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Portrait gallery. After some confusion over where it was, I walked the three blocks off the mall to its location. My prime reason for going there was to visit the Art-O-Mat and get some $5 art. I had also promised one of my board members who is an artist I would get her some.

The Art-o-Mat is addictive. Inserting your money and receiving a block with a painting on it or a small box with a surprise in it is delightful. (Pictures tomorrow.) I looked around the museum a little bit, enough to know I wanted to come back here and look around some more, and then headed to Alexandria. Everyone else had gone their separate ways to receptions/dinners etc., and I just went to Pines of Florence back in Alexandria and had pasta fagioli soup and manicotti, because I knew I would have leftover manicotti that I could have for breakfast the next morning. I was already tired of the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street. (to be continued)

2010 Thanksgiving San Francisco Trip Report Part 4

Links to all of the trip reports from this trip:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Sunday: I was up at 7:00, why oh why oh why. But then I decided to use the time to write up this trip journal, so that was OK. We will have fun looking back and reading this.  Cinnamon rolls for breakfast (family tradition). Nick started out the day by getting the left turn blinker fixed.  Then after much debate about which direction we should start our circular tour in, we were off to the Embarcadero, Pier 39, and Fisherman’s Wharf.  When we got a few miles down the road, I discovered I didn’t have my  Bruce the Shark finger puppet, even though I had talked about him and carried on about how I was bringing him and how he wanted to see the Pier. Nick was not willing to turn around and go home and get Bruce, go figure. I thought I must have dropped him when I went into our room to get my chapstick or something. If I dropped him in the living room, the cats were going to have something to amuse themselves with all day.

Parked at about Pier 5, so we then walked backwards along our planned loop to the Ferry Building which has little shops, mostly food or food related.

I got a Macaron (because we don’t seem to have any little bakeries that make those in Denver) and then came to Nirvana – Boccalone! I have seen this place on some Food Network show, just can’t remember which one. Anyway, they have a paper cone that they fill with “Tasty Salted Pig Parts” and it is fairly amazing.

I quickly grabbed one and we all shared the bits of meat, nothing big, just a good appetizer for the day.

I can’t believe that this place is the only location and we just stumbled across it. Was verrry tempted by their T-shirts. Bought some local olive oil as a “souvenir” – I like souvenirs that are either edible and then they are gone so you don’t have to dust later, or wearable. Was sorely tempted by another t-shirt at another meat shop that said “Praise the Lard” and had a picture of a pig.

Then we wandered down the Embarcadero, past all of the piers, most of the piers still have boats of some sort stopping at them, not as much for shipping things as in the past, but there are a few that have warehouses still, and of course various tourist boats that will take you out to the Golden Gate bridge and/or Alcatraz. We didn’t manage to have time for that. We hit Pier 23, both the pier and the restaurant of that name that Guy Fieri has visited, April and Nick say this is a big biker bar in the summer. Decided I wanted to save my lunch calories for crab, etc., later on down the Pier. Then to Pier 39 (there are a lot of piers, but they are not really that far apart, so the walk isn’t that bad.)

We started encountering street performers at this point: guys who do paintings with spray paint, and various shields and scrapers – the first one we saw was not using any sort of breathing filtration, I can’t imagine that is very good for you, with all the fumes. Various musicians, including on of the worst ones I have ever heard – he was singing in one “non-key” and playing guitar in a different “non-key”, he also had a harmonica holder, I kind of wanted to hear him fire up the harmonica and hear how he didn’t play that in any sort of normal fashion. Then there is a guy called Bushman, who essentially has two handfulls of bushy twigs taht are pretty tall, he crouches next to something so he looks like a bush, and then he jumps up and scares you. He got April pretty good because she was walking next to that side of the sidewalk. Does he expect to get tips for that???? Odd. And then guys who were being statues, all spray painted gold or silver. We did not take advantage of the opportunity to purchase churros from a vendor, they looked good though.

Then Pier 39 is where the sea lions hang out, and where there are a bunch of tourist shops. And – MINI-Donuts! Well, you don’t get to eat mini-donuts every day, so we had to have some of those. Mmmmmmmmm. Greasy burning hot goodness. It is sad, some of these shops make the stuff like corn dogs and even funnel cakes in advance, so they sit around and get non-crispy. That is the POINT of this stuff, people. Anyway, the mini donuts were nice and fresh.

And then we sat and watched the sea lions for a while. They weren’t very active but it was relaxing to watch them lollygag in the sun and relax, so we could relax for a bit. Walking on the pavement is harder than walking on beaches. The highlight of the sea lion watching was when a little kid swiped my soda. I turned around to look for it, and his mom saw him about the same time I did. “Reuben, that’s not yours!” That was rather amusing. He didn’t into it, although just about, I am sure diet is not his preference anyway. There were not that many sea lions, April and Nick say in the summer there are many more, and they were being quiet. There was a little boy there making sea lion noises at them, but he wasn’t being really loud about it. Ken knew that I could do REALLY LOUD sea lion noises, but I wasn'[t willing to do it unless people would give me tips like the street performers. Plus I thought the wildlife preservation guy who was running around there might give me a lecture for bothering the sea lions.

Walked back around the tourist shops, purchasing a Golden Gate bridge magnet, and an accordian magnet for my mom, and finding a place that was going out of busines, and getting a half price sweatshirt. Then we headed for the Fisherman’s Wharf area.

One of the big things is the Boudin Bakery (now, Boudin is a spicy Cajun sausage with rice, and I didn’t see any of that around, so that was disappointing) but they are famous for their sourdough and sourdough bread bowls. They have a big window where you can watch their bakers, and sometimes they are making the bread loaves into animal shapes, well they weren’t doing that while we were there, they were makingh jalapeno cheddar bread, that looked pretty darn good to me, I may have to try to make some of that. We went through the quick bakery line and April had a grilled cheese sandwich, Nick had  a bread bowl with clam chowder, Kenny had a sourdough pepperoni pizza, and I had clam chowder in the bread bowl. The bread bowl was great but that clam chowder had about half a clam in it, if that. April and I looked around the store a little bit before we all ventured outside to the super scary public bathrooms. They were not nearly as bad as the one at Golden Gate park.

Next: Museum Mechanique- this is a collection of old-time arcade machines, some of them REALLY old – the man who collects them had been doing it for a long time. There are several have little vignettes of things like hangings and guillitines, many music boxes of various types, and some actual games – Nick did the boxing game, where you have to give the punching bag your hardest punch. He was trying for the longest time to figure out how to get the punching bag to come down on it after you put the money in, when April pointed out the “Start” button is up above your head, and he pushed it, and pretty much got hit in the face by the punching bag coming down, so that machine CAN fight back. We spent some time wandering around looking at all of the old gadgets, and then crammed all 4 of us into one of the photo booths for a picture strip, which turned out greatly entertaining, of course.

Before we left the Fisherman’s Wharf area, I wanted to have crab and Nick wanted to have crab, so we found what we thought would be the best place, that Nick had scoped out earlier.

They have crabs there ready to go, steamed already, and  when you order one, they re-heat it by plunging it in and out of the boiling water bath, and they make all the cracks for you, so you don’t have to deal with crab crackers, and the meat is easy to get to.

April and I wait for the crab.

Look at the cute crab!

Look at the delicious crab!

See the aftermath!

We all shared it, figuring that was a good way to do it without getting too full of crab. Kenny even tried a couple of little pieces, declaring that it was “Ok.” Of course you end up with crab under your fingernails, and then you think about all of those machines you touched at the Museum Mechanique, and how you are now eating with your hands…….but it was delicious nonetheless. Need to remember the packet of hand sanitizer wipes next time. There were plenty of little shops all along here but I had my magnet and my sweatshirt so I was quite happy with those as souvenirs.

The shark was, unfortunately, not for sale. This is one of my favorite pictures of me EVER.

So then we trekked up the hill to Ghiriradelli chocolate factory. They have quite a complex there – but apparently no factory tours yet. In one of their shops they are usually handing out samples of their chocolate squares – April and I got ones that were Peppermint Bark on top, chocolate on the bottom, those were good. Then to the Soda Fountain- we decided to share again so we could have ice cream but not totally fill up (not that we weren’t still moderately full from lunch and then from crab….) so we had a Cable Car Sundae, which had chocolate ice cream, Rocky Road ice cream, and chocolate chip ice cream, marshmallow sauce, hot fudge sauce, caramel sauce, and whipped cream, oh my was that good.

Then back down the hill to the line for the cable car. We had to ride on the cable car if we were in San Francisco. The line was HUGE, and there was a street musician standing there “entertaining” all of us while we waited. He had an electric guitar, speaker, and microphone all set up. He was not really greeted by much more than apathy from the crowd. Perhaps because he had some serious pitch issues and also pretty much sang every song at the same tempo, which was basically too fast. I was trying to make some money on my own by seeing how much $$ April, Nick or Ken would give me if I caught one of the many pigeons that were wandering around, but they weren’t going for it. I told them that would be real performance art….We were near a swimming club, and there were people out in the ocean swimming, which is just insane, because it was COLD – April and Nick say it never does get super hot here in the summer, so it isn’t really a beachy place.  But then again it doesn’t get super cold in the winter, which is a good thing, because there are all these incredibly steep hills, and there is no way you could drive on them with snow.

So we (eventually) rode the cable car up the steep hills and past Lombard street again, and hopped off in Chinatown. I was hoping to find a glow in the dark Buddha to go along with my glow in the dark Lady of Guadalupe but apparently glow in the dark Buddhas are not an item that is in big demand. Will have to search the internets. Wandered around the many mysterious food shops, which were doing quite a good business in various produce and fresh fish, etc. Walked back down Broadway and we had made a big circle for the day and were back to our car.

Headed back to Nick and April’s and sprawled on the couches while we debated going out for Chinese or eating Thanksgiving leftovers. I decided I was in the mood for Chinese food since we were just in Chinatown, so we did that (Kirin’s, in Berkeley) – had the most amazing jasmine tea I have ever had, and excellent wonton soup- usually wonton is in a clear broth, and this was in a really rich beefy broth, it was incredible. Then they promptly brought our orders, but totally NOT what I had ordered, so after I dug in, I was like – hmmm, this does not seem to be soup, it does have noodles, but no scallops, oysters or shrimp….so that was switched and then I had a huge bowl of soup in about 5 minutes – of course, waaaay too huge for me to finish at that point, but all the seafood was tasty and the scallops were incredible.  Ken had broccoli beef, Nick had red pepper chicken which was very tasty, and April had Cashew mushroom chicken.  It was all good but I would most recommend the wonton soup.

Then we came home and played progressive rummy – this does take a while to get all of the rounds in, so it was kind of like playing drunk by the later hands….I was getting a little loopy and tired. And April pretty much whipped us all soundly in that, I ended up with the high score (I think this is two games in a row where that has happened now) and I was ready for bed after that.

We all spent a significant amount of time looking for Bruce the shark, everywhere the cats hide their toys, under the bed, in the refrigerator, in the garbage, on the lawn, etc., but he has not been found. I am hoping he comes to light when we pack.

What would really be handy for visitors would be a website “Clean Public Bathrooms of San Francisco.” (tasty meat cones)

San Francisco Thanksgiving 2010 Trip Report Part 3

Links to all of the trip reports from this trip:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Saturday: As I got up and staggered around the house, I could see that this was not going to be a clear sunny day…clouds and rain. The boys had a small project to take care of before we left the house, replacing the headlight and blinker bulb in Nick’s car. Ken had sounded just like his dad the day before, “You know, you need to get that replaced.” So they tried, but there is still a problem with the bulb for the blinker, so that one is still not fixed. We discussed our options for indoor activities. I had no idea that San Jose wasn’t really that far away and that is where the Winchester Mystery House is located. This is another location in my book that I have wanted to visit for a looooong time. April thought it sounded cool and the boys were willing if not thrilled.

We didn’t really have firm plans for lunch, and it occurred to me on the way down to San Jose that WE ARE IN CALIFORNIA, WE CAN GO TO IN AND OUT BURGER! I had never been before but it is kind of one of those things that you have to do at least once. So with the help of Nick’s iPhone, we figured out where one was and that was where we ate. Of course, I had my burger Animal Style and my fries Animal Style and everyone else just had normal food, but it was pretty good. Next time I would get more beef patties because the meat kind of gets lost in the bun/tomato/lettuce ratio. Then we had to find a gas station and fill up the car with the overprices San Francisco gas – $3.19. Yow. (This was written in 2010 when I had not yet paid $3.50 and up for gas in Colorado.)

The Winchester house was built by Sarah Winchester, who was the widow of one of the Winchesters who made all the guns. After her infant daughter and husband died, she went to a psychic who said to appease all the ghosts of all the people that had been killed by Winchester guns, she needed to build a house that would never be finished. She had a fortune of 20 million dollars, and she went to town. In 1884 she purchased an 8 room farmhouse 3 miles west of San Jose and for the next 38 years, the building never stopped, with carpenters working 24 hours a day. The mansion eventually grew to 160 rooms. Now, if this were a mansion that a rock star were building today, it would cover city blocks, but this place is really relatively small. The rooms are not giant. The whole house covers about six acres.  Now, from the book I read, I thought this was kind of an isolated place, but it is right in the middle of San Jose, with streets and a movie theatre right next door. They still have preserved a large part of the grounds, but not miles and miles. They were pretty busy, people getting away from the rain maybe, and out of town T-giving guests? We bought our tour tickets, decided to go for the basic tour plus the “behind the scenes” tour, and then perused the gift shop until it was time for the tour.  Let me tell you, their tour guides are a little more rehearsed than we used to be working at Rushmore Cave during the summer. I think they have a script that they pretty much stick to. They do not emphasize the ghostly spiritual angle much. But it is quite a tour around switchback staircases, narrow halls, windows in the floor, elegant bedrooms, some of the earliest elevators, stairways that end at the ceiling, doors that open onto a large drop, etc. The tour groups aren’t too large so you kind of stay together and you can hear the guide well. THEN we went on the behind the scenes tour. Our tour guide for that part was studying for a future career in used car commercial announcing. She really needed to work on appearing to have a natural style at least. It was interesting to traipse around the grounds, tho, and see the grapefruit tree and yew tree that are original plantings, and then go into some of the more unfinished rooms and into the basement (hard hat required, Ken bonked his tall head a couple of times on the pipes) so we were glad we did that. And then we were about toured out.  We had to get our traditional souvenir of a magnet, and of course the book.
Got in the car, the rain had settled down, and drove back north toward Richmond/Berkeley.

Next stop: IKEA!!!! We are getting one in Denver next fall but I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to get an idea what they might be like. Ken’s idea was that we were just going to make a “quick visit” there but from my reading about IKEAs, I was pretty sure that was not even possible. Those stores are just huge and take a long time to wander through. I restrained myself to only buying finger puppets (there was a shark one in the assortment, I HAD to). If there was one of these close to us, I would go just for the food and the toys, never mind everything else. Plus, they had a large bin of wind up kitchen timers, and you know what I had to do with them. I hope the people shopping the rest of the night enjoyed them going off randomly.
Dinner tonight: Spengers Seafood Grotto. They have well-known cioppino, and that was one of my foods I wanted to eat in SF. I had the cioppino, april had mac and cheese with andouille sausage and shrimp, Nick had the stuffed salmon, and Kenny had the fish and chips. Little oddities:  the crab fork I originally received had one of the tines bent at almost a 45 degree angle. We were pretty sure that was NOT the way it was supposed to be. Then April got her mac and cheese, and it had chicken chunks instead of Andouille, we told the waitress about that but never got an explanation. She was still happy with it. They were busy, probably had run out. I had creme brulee for dessert, and Nick and April had the pumpkin pie. Kenny tried the creme brulee, and decided that hey, creme brulee is pretty good. Well, there goes me having that dessert all to myself. On the other hand, he might let me get a torch now, to make my own. “Under close supervision” he says. Hmmm, just because of a few minor oven fires and that one burned up toaster oven, he is hyper cautious. Excellent dinner all around, but I did decide that I prefer squid in my cioppino over crawfish.

Then we came home and I talked everyone into playing Trivial Pursuit and a Christmas/Birthday gift to me. They were more willing when I said it could be all of them against me.  Nick and April have the 20th anniversary edition, I think those questions are on average a little difficult, because they center on the 20 years of 1991-2001 that the game has been in existence, so there aren’t a lot of history questions. I of course had to go get my shark finger puppet to join in the game. His name is Bruce, he was a big help. Then everyone else had to have a finger puppet. At one point Nick had one on each finger, so that greatly added to the amusement of the game. Nick is really good at coming up with the correct answer and then talking himself out of that answer and going with his second impression so that helped. We got down to the last question for each of us, and they kept giving me sports questions, and I kept giving them the literature category, and of course they got the question about George magazine, which we had already had a question on previously in a different category, so they won, but still it was great fun. And the finger puppets enjoyed it.  And then we all fell into bed as it was  11:30 or so.

Sorry, no pictures from today, here is another one of Rodeo Beach.

San Francisco Trip Report – Day 2 (Thanksgiving 2010)

Links to all of the trip reports from this trip:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Friday: I was up around 7:30, of course, would be nice if I could sleep in on vacation but the older I get the more that seems impossible. By the time I am Mom’s age I am sure I will be getting up at 5:30 a.m. like she does.

Before we got on the road to Muir Woods, Nick asked if anyone got carsick on twisty roads….I said I might but I would let them know how I was feeling. Well, this road was considerably worse than either the road between Hermosa and Custer where I used to get sick as a kid, or anything in the Black Hills for that matter. But I was OK as long as I had the window rolled down. When we got to the hiking area, to hike to see the redwoods, we knew it was a bad sign when the parking area was full. Then the overflow parking was full, then all along the road was full, then a mile down the road was full, so we decided we didn’t want to have to hike 2 miles for the start of the hike, and just continued on. Nick told us about the eucalyptus trees in the area, they are kind of an invasive plant, they were brought over from Australia to provide wood for building but their wood is terrible for that. But, they are really flammable, so they are good for brush fires!

Next we went to Rodeo Beach.  This beach is rocky instead of sandy, and you know how Petersons are with rocks.

So I was picking up good rocks and putting them in my pockets, of course. Found some tiny pieces of green sea glass. This beach is surrounded by bunkers and gun emplacements. I didn’t know about all the military installations in the area, but SF was considered such an important port in the late 1800s that all of these bunkers and buildings were built to guard and protect the coast, and there are still barracks, etc., where the soldiers stayed. After the advent of radar, these facilities were declared obsolete, but the ruins are still there, and are historic landmarks today. Ken really thought one was a great place to make a zombie movie.  I also discovered that while I am not typically bothered by heights, I am bothered a bit by heights that involve tall ocean cliffs with rocks below. Yikes.

We hiked up one hill to look at the bunker at the top and see the view (while we were at Rodeo beach.) Ken would not let me pick up any large pieces of sea weed to take home. Or, the dead seagull which I know Nick and April’s cats would have enjoyed.  We drove to the other bunkers/gun emplacements. While looking over one of the cliffs, I had the first seal sighting. The boys were too impatient to stick around and see him poke his head out of the water, but April confirmed for me it was a seal.

I wanted to dip my toe in the ocean, so I took off one shoe. April joined me. The ocean had its own ideas, and so both of us got both feet wet.

Speaking of the cats, it is really nice for us to stay somewhere that they have cats, because then we don’t miss ours so much. Nick and April are way more strict cat parents than we are, however, they don’t leave a light on for the cats when they know they are going to be gone all day and get home after dark. Also, no cats sleeping on the bed in their house. We are having fun playing with Newton and Zoe.

Then we headed to Golden Gate Bridge. There were a lot of people there, but we didn’t have to park too far away. There is a park area, and a walkway with historic information signs  (and more bunkers and gun emplacements) and we walked out to the overlook for the bridge. Lots of picture taking.

We decided it was about time for lunch and headed back to the car. April and I investigated the bathrooms and decided that we could hold it until we got somewhere far far away from there.

We drove over the Golden Gate to get to Ocean Beach, where we ate at Beach Chalet (well, really we ate at “Park Chalet” which is the part of the restaurant that faces the park rather than the beach.) All of the other three had local beers, I had my beloved diet coke. April had wild mushroom and goat cheese pizza, Nick had the crab roll, Kenny had a burger, and I had calamari and ceviche. Oh, good April quote to Ken, I don’t remember when – “I didn’t know that you were so picky!” Uh-huh, welcome to my world. Then we had to go walk on that beach, because if I am anywhere near a beach, I have to go investigate.

This beach was sandy, with some small shells and parts of sand dollars washed up. I always have to collect some shells to take home for our shell jar. Once again, I was not allowed to take the very interesting large pieces of kelp.

Part of the fun of this trip to SF is that I have a science fiction/fantasy book that I really like called “Earthquake Weather” that is partially set in SF. So there were some locations that I really wanted to go to, like the Sutro Baths and Cliff house. The Sutro Baths were a large indoor bath house built along the ocean in the early 1900s, and they are only a ruin now. You can walk around on the old foundations, and there is a tunnel you walk into that has two cave openings to the ocean where you can hear and see the water, and a spot at the end of the tunnel where you can see the waves on the rocks.

I got Ken’s attention when I stumbled a bit on the foundations and he was pretty sure I was going to fall in.

I decided that if I was going to fall into the murky green water in the ponds or the rocks on the ocean side, I would rather fall into the water.

This is April and I reflected in the water.

After we staggered back up the large steep hill to get back to the car, we watched the sun starting to go down over the ocean, and you could see the clouds rolling in from the cold front that was supposed to move in. Over and over during the day we heard what a great day this was, how flat the ocean was, and how this was NOT TYPICAL!

Then we drove around downtown for awhile, drove the Haight Ashbury area, and then to that crazy Lombard street, that has all the turns – we were going to drive it but the line was waaaaay long so we drove to the other side and watched other crazy people drive it. We headed to the house where we started the debate on where to have dinner. G’s rule on vacations is to not eat anywhere she could eat at home – so we are supposed to go somewhere local! We tried to go to Looney’s, a BBQ place Nick and April highly recommended, but they were closed, must have given their employees the day off after T-giving. So then on to T-Rex, another bbq place, somewhat inexplicably named, because there was NO dinosaur theme, much to my disappointment. Had excellent ribs there, Ken and April had the baby back ribs, actually that is what all of us were going to have, and then our waiter gave us a bad time and told us we weren’t challenging ourselves…so Nick had the Long Cut Beef Short rib, which was something like the piece of meat Fred Flintstone orders that knocks his car over, and I had the spare ribs, which came in an order of 6 and I only managed to eat 3. They came with potato salad (red skins, fress dill! YUM!) We also ordered the side of mac and cheese with bacon, which was deeeeelicious and a huge hit. I had a ginger beer which made me feel old-timey and nostalgic for the 1890s, but was quite tasty and I am sure good for me.  And then we went home and the girls pulled out the yarn and the boys pulled out the remotes, and we discussed the possibility of cards or a board game and just never got around to it. We did watch an episode of Diners Drive Ins and Dives that had a restaurant on it that is in Berkeley and very close to Nick and April here, not sure if we will get there or not….so many things to do, so little time……

San Francisco Trip Report Day 1

I warned you: I am on travel, and the cumulative exhaustion from all the travel this month has led me to post my trip reports from Thanksgiving 2010 while I am on my latest trip, rather than writing fresh. Not everyone has read these, and I still enjoy reading them, so I hope you do too. This first day doesn’t have any pictures but the rest of them will have pictures.

Links to all of the trip reports from this trip:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Well, how about one iconic San Francisco picture:

Leaving Denver: Got up at 5:00. This is not a good time for me to get up. Clamped my finger in the curling iron instead of my hair. That left a mark. Got to the airport and parking was kind of goofy, they have no signs for the Mt. Elbert parking lot, but apparently that one was full anyway and we followed the crowd to the Pikes Peak lot. Lots of cars but the airport had staff there directing traffic. Pretty full bus to the terminal, I was amazed at the number of people flying today. Security wait was pretty long, but it kept moving along. Did not see a lot of people getting pulled out and groped, but the lady in front of us who was apparently wearing ALL of her favorite jewelry and had to go through the metal detector 5 times was pretty annoying. Got there with plenty of time for me to go out to concourse C and get my breakfast calzone that is Tradition, but their quality has decreased, might have to get something else next time. Plane was full, and numerous kids that weren’t thrilled to be sitting still for 2.5 hours, but they were really pretty good. Kenny slept part of the way and I watched TV and knitted, although I discovered I dropped a stitch several rows down (sticky yarn, so it didn’t unravel) but it was going to drive me nuts so I had to unravel about 20 rows to fix that, so I didn’t really make much net progress. Lovely weather of about 18 degrees when we left.

San Francisco Airport: First off our plane nearly ran into another one on the taxiway. Not sure how close we came but the pilot slammed on the brakes. Don’t know if he was supposed to yield to us or we were supposed to wait for him, but I am sure there was a report written up about this. He was just a little tiny United Express jet so we would have come out better in the collision, I am sure.

At the SF airport, there are apparently two sets of luggage carousels. Beware, your ride may go to the wrong one to meet you. Beware, there is not a lot of parking on busy travel days.  He  made his own parking place that he wasn’t sure we were going to be able to get out of, but we did. Pretty drive in from the airport to their house, lots of gawking around at the scenery. I was unhappy on the bridges that they put the walls too high that you can’t see stuff. Brother-in-law Nick says, “They do that so you don’t go off of the bridge!”

On Thanksgiving, we hung out at the house and visited and smelled the turkey while it was roasting. Nick likes to make the Alton Brown brined turkey recipe. He couldn’t find any allspice berries at the store so decided to throw some fresh cranberries into the brine before he cooked the brine. If you do that, please consider that your turkey will come out of the brine bucket with pink skin. We really should have gotten a picture of that. But it did not stay pink, when it was cooked. It was very good. Sister-in-law April has a family recipe for mashed potatoes where you make them in advance, it involves a lot of butter and cream cheese, I believe, and that was delicious. There was kind of a pie crisis, because April wanted to experience making her own pie crust and then was not pleased with the results. Diagnosing the recipe, I think she has a family recipe (low in instructions, high on “everyone knows how grandma always made this”) that is meant to make 4-5 double pie crusts. So there was a last minute run to the store for pie, and gravy and stove top. Sorry, I come from a family that has to have gravy. (I remember how gravy was the main thing my brother would eat at most holidays). But really, I will admit, those mashed potatoes were so rich you wouldn’t need gravy!

So we ate and then got the phone call from the family on speaker phone. I think the kids were all running around playing so we didn’t get to visit with them. Ken’s dad had to give us his sales talk on some calendar lottery their church is running to pay off the mortgage, so both of us couples now are signed up to buy a calendar and win big $$ on a Sunday or Holy Day when they have a drawing.

Then we all pretty much went into food comas and watched TV and just relaxed and caught up.  There was reminiscing about last Christmas when we were all snowed in in South Dakota.  April and I pulled out the knitting and the crocheting. No games tonight, just went to bed.  Nick said we were lucky, it was an unusually clear and sunny day.

Nautilus and New Pants

Wow, another short weekend. I spent a bunch of time quilting because I will be gone on travel next weekend, and the Wednesday after that is my Color Theory class, so I have to pretty much have the Nautilus/Tentacles quilt done by the time I leave on Tuesday morning. I may have a little time after I get back, on Monday and Tuesday evenings, to finish, but I am not counting on that. So I spent almost all morning on Saturday fusing everything down, and quilting the nautili and tentacles. Of course I had to listen to “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” on public radio, so I could only quilt on station breaks during that. So we went out to eat at Jack N Grill, because I was hungry for their posole, and was in no mood to cook.  Ken had a hamburger as big as his head. They have seriously large burgers, with homemade buns, there. We had their queso this time, too, it was also excellent.

More quilting in the afternoon. Then I had to run to JoAnn Fabric to get more fusible webbing, iron cleaner (needed after incidents with the former), and thread to quilt the background of the Nautilus piece. Did get Spaghetti with Parmesan and Bacon made for dinner. This is a Cooking Light recipe and is really good, and is excellent warmed up for lunches for the week. I will say, it does not need a whole teaspoon of pepper, a 1/2 tsp is fine.

Ken had to go into work this morning, and his alarm woke me up and I couldn’t go back to sleep. I had been having bad dreams anyway so I just got up. His alarm alternates between a buzzer and some religious station (because someone on that station is always speaking in a very EXHORTING tone) and I was exhorted right out of bed. He went off to work and I quilted on the background of the piece until a quarter to 11 – at 11 the mall opened, and I had to go clothes shopping.

I do not like clothes shopping. Currently I am not a small size. Designers do not usually chose wisely when they pick their designs to make in larger sizes. They do not look the same as they do on smaller women. The ones that would actually cute seem to be reserved for smaller sizes only. I really prefer to do my shopping at the thrift stores, but sometimes that is hit and miss, and sometimes you just need new stuff for work. And I felt like I had worn the same things to these meetings I am attending this week for four years in a row.

Well, I managed to get 12 different items for about $360. Believe me, I about went into shock spending that much on clothes in one day, but it had to be done. Between Coldwater Creek and Dillards, I got a blazer, 6 sweaters, 2 turtlenecks, 2 pairs of nice dress pants, and a white no-iron (we will see) dress shirt. So that is less than $30 per item, I still like to pay a lot less than that but sometimes you have to buy things that are work-worthy. That bad news was that I had to hem 2 pairs of pants, I really hate hemming. I did most of that during Iron Chef, so that was OK. PS Coldwater Creek is currently having 40% off their already on sale items, plus an additional $20 back if you spend over $80.

Ken had called while I was in the dressing room and said he was going to be at work for a while, so I had an Aunt Annie’s pretzel for lunch (that sounds healthy but I had the one with pepperoni on it, and had cheese dipping sauce, of course….). Also hit Forever 21 which does, surprisingly, have a Plus Size section. Usually I am greatly amused by most of what I see, and I find on thing that works for me, this time it was a belt, which I put on immediately, because my jeans were falling down.

So now I am carrying two very heavy clothing bags, and I stop by the calendar kiosk, because we haven’t been able to find a page-a-day calendar with cat cartoons (usually the New Yorker does one but not this year) so I bought us the Bad Cat calendar, for 75% off, so that was a good deal. I had no idea what day it was for the first part of this month, and we also like to use the daily sheets to make lists and notes on, so this was necessary.

Just to add to my heavy bags, then I go to Williams Sonoma to get a pizza stone. I had a gift card, and I also wanted a knife, of course they don’t have the knife, so I fill out a little card for them to call me when it comes in. Then I trudge all the way to my car with the pizza stone under one arm (huge) and the two bags in my other hand. My arms still hurt from that. Then when I got home, there was a message on the machine saying they found the knife after all and if I was still out shopping I could come get it. Grrrrrrrr. Very tempted to not get it there after all, now, since I am unimpressed with their inventory-finding skills.

I still beat Ken home. I had two pounds of hamburger thawed out, so I made that into meatloaf, knowing he could eat it for meals this week and we could also freeze part of it. (Sorry, no recipes today, I am about wiped out….).

For dinner, I had a tri-tip steak marinating since last night, and put that on the grill. Tri-tip is one of those steaks that you grill and then slice against the grain, it would be too tough to eat just as a regular steak. I think this is a new venture for my Mom and Dad’s butcher, I don’t think I have seen one of those from him before. It was good. Of course, when I planned the menus for this weekend, I thought it was going to be nice, and I thought I was going to be making the tri-tip for lunch. Well, even at lunchtime it was 40 degrees and wind gusts up to 50 mph, so all in all a lovely day, but I got it grilled. Also made Shepherd’s Potatoes, these are excellent, one of my go-to potato recipes now.

I give my mom a bad time about writing every detail of life in her diary each day, but I guess I have inherited those tendencies. Although I don’t have two delightful children to write about. From Mom’s diary – “Caught W. biting the cat today because G. told him to.” Brother W. doesn’t listen to me nearly so well as he did in 1972.

Another Quiltapalooza

I am just warning you now that next week while I am on travel you are going to get warmed over San Francisco trip report as blog postings. This is a BIG LONG trip and I am pretty sure I won’t have the mental faculties to be posting. I am not sure I have the mental faculties to be posting right now for that matter, but I am. I get to be home for four glorious days before I am on the road again, did I say how keen I was on the month of January?

So for today, some more quilt history, this time with the quilts for grownups.

The color on this photo is a little wonky, the blues and yellows aren’t usually quite this wild. This was a quilt for my brother and sister in law for their 5th anniversary (Ken’s brother) – people were getting 5th anniversary quilts until they all started having kids and then I made quilts for the kids, and that slowed me down on the anniversary quilts.

This shows the fabrics a little better, as well as a mysterious shadow. This pattern is called Yellow Brick Road.

Garden twist quilt for another sister and brother in law (Ken’s youngest sister.) This one is called Garden Twist. Now that I look at it I may have done something funky with that pattern, it looks a little odd. I may have transposed some of those triangles. At least I was consistent.

The colors are funny in the picture again, the background is actually a mottled black.

This one is a little better.

This quilt (finally, digital pictures) was made for Ken’s youngest brother and his wife as a wedding quilt. He is an astrophysisist, hence the “stars and galaxies” theme.

Now, of course there was a wedding quilt for the couple I made the 5 year anniversary quilt for, and a wedding quilt for MY brother and his wife, but I haven’t found those pre-digital pictures yet. And the wedding quilt for my brother and his wife is a whole story in itself, titled something like “How NOT to make a quilt,” so it will get a post all its own when I find those pictures.

And now I am going to hang out and enjoy being HOME!

Must Not See TV

Happy Birthday to my Mom! If she hadn’t been born, I wouldn’t have either, so it is a good day. Give her a call if you know her.

Another indicator that I am a FINE person to travel with: I made sure to tell my dining companions all about the cases of Legionnaire’s disease that people had caught from a water wall in a hospital in Wisconsin. While, of course, we were eating lunch in the atrium with a water wall. I am delightful company. And some of them didn’t know what Legionnaire’s disease was, doesn’t everyone enjoy reading about disasters?

I really don’t watch that much TV. I generally don’t have time, and if I do sit down to watch TV, I am usually knitting so I have something to do with my hands. My mother was a firm believer in having something to do with your hands. (I spent a lot of time as a kid churning butter and reading a book at the same time. Let me tell you, that is doing one too many things at once, and spilled cream is no fun to clean up.) Sometimes I wish there was better stuff on TV some nights because then I would get more knitting done.

I could always watch the Lord of the Rings movies over and over while listening to the cast/directors/designers commentaries, but the other interested party in the house objects to that, and he usually caves when I object to his watching endless Seinfeld re-runs, so we do compromise on that.

When I do watch TV, I default to the Food Channel, preferably Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. I can watch that show regardless or how many times I have seen the episode before. My fantasy for when I win the lottery is that we will travel around and visit all of those restaurants. After we go travel the entirety of the old Route 66 and stay at a motel where the rooms are shaped like tee pees. I have simple needs.

I do not like reality shows on the Food Channel or any channel because they are all about personal drama and really I have had enough of that in my own life, I don’t need any more annoying real people on TV. Well, Iron Chef might be considered reality TV but it is still about the cooking. I watched a few episodes of Chopped but then got irritated with it and quit. Too contrived.

I also like zombies (or enjoy reading books about them, watching movies about them, etc., I do not know if I like zombies personally because I haven’t had the opportunity to meet one. Yet.) but I quickly got fed up with the show Walking Dead because there was too much interpersonal drama. Hello, you are having sex in the woods while the zombies are taking over? You should be out looting grocery stores for canned goods! Finding guns and ammo! Looking for a cave to move into!

I will watch America’s Funniest Home Videos at about any opportunity, because it is on some channel, somewhere, at any given time, and it usually has some entertaining video with cats in it at least once per half hour. Plus, it doesn’t really have a plot you have to pay attention to. I will turn the channel on anything involving snot, barf, or anything going up the nose that does not belong in the nose, which includes almost everything.

Ken and I can both agree on Storage Wars, because the amount of personal drama is outweighed by the inherent human desire to go through other people’s stuff. I think that is why that show is so popular, we all want to rummage through someone else’s stuff with no recriminations. Most of us are pretty snoopy at heart. (You ALL want to ask me to come over now, I just know it. I do manage to restrain these impulses in my daily life. Mostly.) That is why I like going to auctions,  estate sales, and antique stores, it is a type of voyeurism. (Lord knows what kind of google searches “voyeurism” is going to lead here.)

Speaking of google searches, I was going through my pictures last night looking for something to post and I noted that I had named one of the pancake machine pictures “Miracle Pancake” – I am just WAITING for the miracle pancake search. But that sounds like something only I would search for, so maybe not.

I guess this is on my mind tonight because I am still on travel and I was questing for something to write about (so there is a daily story for my faithful readers, all 8 of you : )) and what I really want to do is take a bath and then go watch TV in bed. We do not have a TV in the bedroom at home, and so the ultimate indulgence for me when I am on travel is to watch TV in bed instead of read. And to especially watch sciencey/National Geographic programs that Ken would argue with me about watching if he was with me. I AM really interested in learning about the history of the dodo bird whereas he is not.

And so, adieu, I am off to bed, to see what is on Nat’l Geographic tonight.

On The Road Again, if Only I Was Making Music with My Friends

Sign that I am getting to know myself better after all these years: I used the new bottle of shoe polish over the sink where it could easily be cleaned up. I was correct to use this precaution.

I am on the road for business travel again, this time to Dallas. I can’t complain too much, because I do have a job, while many people do not, and I only travel 30-35 nights a year, and many people travel way more than that, including my boss. But still, travel is just fraught with so many possibilities for hilarity, because there are so many possible variables.

I was kind of sad starting out this trip because my board member who was supposed to come with me had a sick daughter and couldn’t make it. She and I have had some fun traveling together. I guess we either had compatible senses of humor, or she puts up with mine. So that was a downer, but no big deal, I usually travel with a group but I am fine travelling on my own.

Of course I had a meeting early in the morning, and there were several fires I was trying to put out or get started, and so I was on the computer/Blackberry all through lunch and then as I waited for my flight. And waited, and waited, the board said “delayed” but I was pretty sure there was no weather anywhere near my destination causing delays.

The gate I was waiting at was not in the COOL concourse that has tall tables near the gates where you can sit and plug in your computer and use the wireless, so I was sitting in one of the rows of FABULOUS airport seats that are all bolted together. And these were mostly bolted together, and not too firmly to the floor, because fellow passengers kept throwing themselves into them as hard as they could and I would nearly be catapulted out. And then one gentleman sat next to me and jiggled his leg for about 20 minutes. And then the next guy sat for a while, and then TOOK OFF HIS SHOES and lay on the floor and put his stocking feet up on the chair. Several people nearly stepped on his head. I did get some enjoyment from one of the resident birds (yes, inside the terminal) which buzzed one of the throw-yourself-in-the-seats guys and made him freak out a bit.

The guy on the floor also felt the need to do some personal re-arrangement if you know what I mean. Who needs entertainment at the airport, I had enough going on right around me from my fellow passengers.

So finally they get the previous flight boarded, and then they announce that the gate for our flight has changed (probably because there is still a flight there for Spokane blocking the gate) and of course it isn’t right next door, it is pretty darn close to as far away as you can be and still be in the same terminal.

In the midst of all of this I somehow lost my boarding pass.

Fortunately, they don’t make a big deal out of this, they just print you a new one. I probably accidentally pulled the old one out of my pocket one of the times I checked obsessively to see if it was still there.

By the time I got to the new gate and got a new boarding pass it was about time to board. The gate agent was actually pretty funny, he got in the intercom and said, after about 10 people stood in line to ask him, “Yes, tis is the gate for Dallas. If you are standing in line to ask me if this is the gate for Dallas, please go sit down, I need to get you boarded.” The announcement board behind him said “Dallas” but you know, we all pretty much turn into cattle/sheep when we travel and you take us away from our familiar routines.

And of course the airplane is jam packed full, including someone in my board member’s seat. But that is no surprise. I did get some knitting done. Oh, I also got stopped at security because I had a pair of scissors in my knitting bag that I had forgotten about – I had ransacked the house this .a.m. looking for my tiny folding pair of scissors, found them, and brought them, but I also had another much larger pair along. They weren’t large enough to get confiscated but the TSA did go through that bag and scrutinize and measure them. Will have to remember to put them in checked luggage on the way home.

This was one of those business trips that turns enjoyable though, because my cousin Michael picked me up at the airport and brought me to his and his wife’s home and we had a lovely meal, and told MANY family stories. He didn’t live close when I was a child, so it is even more fun getting to know him as an adult. And because he knows about my cupcake fascination from Facebook, #1 his daughter whipped up cupcakes for dessert, and #2 he pointed out a cupcake store very close to the hotel. GOOD TO KNOW!

Totally unrelated but I better write it down before I forget: One of my favorite things is when my mom tells me how much I am like my Grandma Rose. (I was almost named Rose, after her.) I never met her. But apparently she was a character and perhaps “a bit loud.” Worthy traits to live up to, I think.

And I’ll leave you with this picture of me in my “Wonder Woman Costume” – self designed, self selected. I think I may have said before, most of my costumes took place entirely in my head. And they still do. I wish I still had this, I am feeling quite Wonder-Womanish.