Birthday Girl’s Weekend –San Diego

Hi all–Our grand-girl Charlotte turned 10 years old!!  So to celebrate this special birthday we trekked down to San Diego for a zoo day, some late night swimming and a stroll through the Natural History Museum.

It was grand to spend the time with just Charlotte– We followed our “Fun Map” to see us through the trip.
     

First stop– The San Diego Zoo

     

Sunday morning I was in “breakfast heaven” at– Con Pane–Rustic Breads & Cafe–with a thick slab of raisin hazelnut bread & butter.
     

We ended out trip strolling through Balboa Park, and Charlotte’s pick– The Natural History Museum.

     

After a stop at the “Old Town” for a taco & enchilada lunch, we headed up the Interstate to return Charlotte to Ojai.
     
Thanks Char-Star for all the lively fun to add to our lives– And Happy Birthday 10 year old!!

At Home in the World (& other travel books)

Hi Reading friends– Just finished At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider.  And I could happily pick it up and read it through all over again right now!  It made me think of other travel books I’ve loved.  If you’ve got the travel bug– maybe you’d love them too.

But be careful.  Now I’m itching to plan up a big trip.  (I did google “cheap flights to London!!”–$340 round trip from L.A. Air Canada!!)   Do you have summer travel plans??  Suggestions??!

Tsh and Kyle Oxenreider did something I secretly (or maybe not so secretly since I’m writing it here!), wish we could do.  They sold their house packed 5 backpacks for themselves and their three smallish kids and began a trek around the world that took 9 months.  Starting in China with jet lag and a language barrier, settling 6 weeks in Thailand, and moving on to sojourns in Australia, Kenya, Ethiopia, France, Kosovo, England and points in between.   They stayed with friends along the way and met a colorful new band of people as they traveled. Tsh is contemplative and practical.  She muses about the place called home and their place in the world.  Loved it!

In A Year of Living Danishly, Helen Russell and her husband find themselves transported from the bustle to London to small town Billund, Denmark when he takes a job working for Lego.  Having heard repeated statistics touting Denmark as the happiest country on earth, Helen spends 12 months uncovering the habits and preferences of Danish people with style and humor.  She interviews Danes around the country on the topics of education, work culture, taxes, health care, food, interior design in her attempt to find out why they could be so happy.  She immediately is taken with their pastries and slowly comes to understand the quirks of their culture.  Just a fun book, and a real look at fascinating country.

It’s been a while since I read The Geography of Bliss.  But it left an impression.  Eric Weiner wanted to find where the happiest people on earth were found– So he set out to The Netherlands, Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland, Moldova, Thailand, Great Britain, India and finally back to the U.S.A. , interviewing people from all walks of life and positions in the country to determine how much happiness could be found in these places.  He depended on psychology, science, history and humor in his search and the result is vastly entertaining and an enlightening look into the lives of people around the world.

A friend sent us a copy of Heidi’s Alp the years we lived in Spain, and would travel in our tired old van around the continent with 4 kids in tow.  This is the story of a family from Oxford who loaded their 4 daughters in a camper van and traveled through Europe tracking down the origins of well known fairy tales, from Cinderella in France and Pinocchio in Italy, to The Little Mermaid in Denmark and the tales of the Brothers Grimm in Germany.  Along the way they also were acquainted with new foods, cultural sights and curious customs.  She also includes a lot of just rollicking fun with the girls as they go– and subscribes to Hans Christian Andersen’s thought, “To travel is to live.”  (Used copies still available on Amazon)

This is another family off to see the world!  Author David Cohen, wife and three kids (2, 5 & 7) sell their house and set off.  They hike up a Costa Rican volcano, view Burgundy from a canal boat, meet lions on an African safari and trek across the desert lands of Australia.  The style is less reflective and more just an amazing travelogue of the high highs and low lows of traveling around the world as a family.  I especially liked his final chapter on what he would do differently, were he to start over again.  A satisfying armchair travel book!

Day in L.A.

 

Hi friends– Tomorrow is our anniversary– #42!  (Yikes! Where did all those years go?)  We celebrated last weekend with a 14 hour vacay- a little art, a walk along the beach and of course, breakfast, lunch & dinner!  Here’s our day:

Breakfast at my new favorite restaurant–Republique

    

Spent a tranquil morning at LACMA– (wonderful Reformation special exhibit from 3 German museums)

    

Lunch at Joan’s on Third–deli & market

There was an afternoon walk along the beach at Santa Monica.

And a stop for gelato on a stick  before we headed up to West Hollywood for dinner at Shake Shack.

Thank you Larry for walking through all the ups and downs of 42 years together.  It’s been grand–   looking forward to all we have ahead…

(Almost) Winter in Madison!

 

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Hi hi– back from a week with our Laurel in Madison, WI.  I booked this trip anticipating snow up to my waist, icy winds and swirling snowflakes.  But, surprise!, it was all sunshine and balmy days.

Even without snow, it was a sweet time with that girl of ours.  Laurel is the best best travel buddy.  Here’s what we do — tourist, shop, eat.  Repeat.  So here’s a little of each in the dead of Wisconsin winter!

Our winter “touristing” included frozen lakes, state park look outs and a woodsy museum.

Here we are astride Lake Menona (don’t ask me why I thought that was a good idea!)

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Brave people ice fishing on the lake– and ice at the lake’s edge.
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One afternoon we ambled along a trout stream.
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Laurel and John up the look out tower– and we did find real snow–piled in the parking lot!!
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After touring the Aldo Leopold Museum (early ecologist), we took a soggy trek back to the home in the woods we shared with his wife and 5 kids!
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John’s trusty jeep carried us through the woods,gorgeous fungi on the forest floor.
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Through the forest, just before a flock up enormous sandhill cranes passed over head– It was a so magical!
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We squeezed in a little shopping–kitchen store, books stores, thrift shops, the indoor winter farmer’s market along the way.
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And you know we found some good things to eat –starting with morning coffee & scones.
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Friday “Fish Fry” at the Tip Top Tavern–and a humongous pretzel at the Grumpy Troll Brewery
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Indian breakfast at the indoor Farmer’s Market
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And Laurel pulled together a Wisconsin cheese tray feast when friends dropped by…
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And one last P.S.– Thanks to our awesome nephew Shawn– who surprised us with the best seats for a Maroon 5 concert in Milwaukee– a big serendipity!!  We felt like rock stars ourselves!
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So thank you, thank you Laurel & John– you are always so warm and welcoming. Love you.  xox
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Rain and Shine in San Francisco

 

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Hi friends– Back from a week of pounding rain followed by glorious sunshine in San Francisco.  Went up to watch little grand-girl Lois, while her mom trolleyed off to work, and to help pack a few boxes to empty the house for a remodel.  Funny — I have dozens of pictures of that Lois and not one to show you of boxes!

Loveable Lois and I read books, sang songs, danced around the living room and had long talks about all she has ahead…
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photos: Off to visit the pediatrician check-up, tummy-time!  & on the changing table.

And we spent a day with Mae & Eero (more grand-kids in SF).  That is always loads of lively fun fun!
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photos:  Mae absorbed in her new book, stop at the bookshop, Eero checking on his new cousin.

And in SF we usually find our way to good places to eat.
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photos: family fills the window seat at Smitten ice cream shop, a festive birthday dinner for Ani at Outerlands, Mediterranean roasted chicken wrap on the back patio at Souvla,  afternoon tea and desert at Tartine Manufactory.

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Thank you AA & Jessica, Ani & Brian for a best time talking and eating and walking with you and those sweet grand-kids.  Loved it.

To China and Back

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Hello all– Our three grand-girls and their amazing mom have been off to China for about 6 weeks.  They traveled to Hunan Province for Chinese New Year with their other Grandparents there!  From all I heard it was a sweet time– here are my favorite photos:

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The girls with their grandparents in China.

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Jodi and the girls sitting down with her parents for the sumptuous New Year’s feast!  (Jodi’s mom is an amazing cook!)

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Twelve amazing dishes for the feast! –my favorite  rice coated meatballs–and the crabs!!

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Welcome Home at LAX.  Missed these girls and their mom, so glad glad they’re home.  Love that big smile Jobay!!!

P.S. Thanks Jodi for all your beautiful photos!  xox

Snowy Weekend

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Snowy trek up the mountain–I’d never seen such white sky!

Hey all– Are you looking out the window to see a wonderland of snow–bright & white & beautiful??  We’re snowless all winter here at our house, real snow amateurs.  But last weekend we trekked up the mountains to Big Bear through a snowy afternoon and it was magical.

We settled in to a snug cabin.
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We woke up to sunshine and crisp mountain air (Larry was the snow shoveler!)
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Some of the group took off to ski/snowboard.
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While Larry and I took a long morning walk in the sunshine.
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We loved every minute talking and playing games and eating and praying with this group of amazing people.  It’s wonderful to be together with them…
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Thankful for the beauty and the people and the quiet of this snowy weekend.
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And thanks Tyler for this sunset photo– it’s awesome! So glad and thankful for this group and for all we learn from you…