Family Trek through the Sequoias!

Hi all– Just back from 5 days with family at Sequoia National Park.  Growing up, every summer, my Mom and Dad would stash 4 kids and piles of camping gear in the station wagon, and head up the interstate to Sequoia. So it was big fun to do it again with my Sis and some of our kids!!

We set out one morning to hike our way around bright and brilliant Crescent Meadow (an old favorite for me and my Sis, Lulu!)



Midway around the meadow, we found a quiet spot to stop for lunch and a chance to rest our hiking feet!  And then on we trekked…


We finally arrived at Tharpe’s Log– a fallen redwood tree that became the home to the first settler in that area, who raised sheep in the adjacent meadow.


It was a fine full day–and being immersed in such beauty filled my soul.  I was thanking God for the glorious views all around me.


Thanks bunches to Charlotte, Micah, Jodi, Maryann, Larry, Jobay, Laurel & John (and Ted & Lu!)  for being the best adventurous, intrepid hiking buddies.  Let’s do it again!!


Wisconsin Welcome

Hello all– Wonder if you’ve been off vacationing yet this summer. –???  We’re just back from our week away– spent a warm & welcoming time with our Laurel & John at their new house near Madison. (warning– SO many photos here!  –couldn’t help myself.)

Our first evening we joined a few thousand others on the State Capitol lawn for a pizza picnic to the music of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.  They played a Spanish favorite– Concierto de Aranjuez!!  Magical!


One morning we traversed 3 lakes (including raising the boat in a lock) to arrive at the University of Madison Terrace on the lake.  We lunched on brats and fresh corn along the lake and finished off with the memorable ice cream from the school’s dairy department!



Saturday morning found us at the Farmers Market collecting bagfulls of fresh produce to cook up over the weekend.


John’s intrepid red jeep ferried us out across the countryside to the Crane Institute– a study center for cranes from all over the world.  Then we stopped off along the Wisconsin River for a picnic (until it started raining!).



Laurel & John made sure we ate well!  Succulent steaks on the grill with Laurel’s beautiful salads– next night, a big grilled paella to eat out under the oak trees with friends.


The highlight of the trip was getting to see John & Laurel’s new house!!  While they were at work, Larry & I did a little wall paper stripping, spakeling and instaling of bookcases in the study).  It’s such a cozy place!

We took a few evening walks to enjoy the fireflies and everything so green and bountiful in the Wisconsin summer.


Thankful thankful for the days out and about, for the quiet conversations over dinner, for the joy of seeing you settle into your new home John & Laurel,  We love time with you!!  (See you in Sequoia in a couple weeks!!)

Good Times in San Francisco

Hi there friends– Happily home from a week in San Francisco.  Our Laurel was out in SF from Wisconsin so I headed up for a sweet time with my 2 girls together in the same city!  — and stayed the week to watch Little Lois.  Here’s the best parts:

Spent a morning wandering through Golden Gate Park and ended up at the Beach Chalet outdoor tables for a picnic-ish lunch.


And we had a day out at the Presidio, a former military installation, first established by the Spanish in 1776– strolled through the Officers Club, now with a Presidio Museum– And ended up at Native Burger for lunch (notice the small hand reaching for my burger–I didn’t notice it when I took the photo!)



But the real highlight of the week was watching Little Lois while her Mom was away.  We hit a couple library story times and a few playgrounds, baked biscuits and read so many stories.

So grateful to spend a “Girls Weekend” with Ani, Laurel and Lois (and of course, you too Brian!!)  Can’t wait to see you all again!

Wisconsin in Winter

Hi friends!!  We’re just back from our stay in Wisconsin with our kids– John & Laurel.  Those two know how to make everything fun.  So here’s my favorite– “Great Eight” things we did for our Wisconsin winter!!

#1.  One afternoon Larry and I trekked down to the campus of University of Wisconsin, for a stroll through the campus, a stop for the best ice cream (from their dairy department!) and a walk on the frozen lake!!  yikes!


#2.  We also studied our way through the Chazen Art Museum on campus one afternoon– small, but with a wide range of art from around the world and across genres.


#3.  Saturday morning we browsed at the indoor Farmers Market, where each week a different restaurant in Madison, serves up a wholesome breakfast (That week was root veggie hash!!)


#4.  On a blustery afternoon Laurel ferried us over to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens to wander through their greenhouse tropical garden– lush and warm and filled with singing canaries!

#5.  We tagged along with John & Laurel and their realtor Wade, while they did a little house hunting around Madison (But are still looking to find the perfect place).

#6.  Our most Wisconsin-ish adventure was an evening at the Fishing Expo– I had no idea there are so many many accessories to fishing, from boats to lures to wall mounted trophy fish!


#7.  Madison has a gorgeous new library downtown so one day we hiked down past the capital building and on to the library, where we raided the new book section an sat and read to our hearts content.  (P.S. the sculpture on the library wall is all made of battered old bookends!)


#8.  And last but sure not least, we had several wonderful meals with Laurel and John– starting with an assortment of coffee shops, a few morning walks to Batch Bakehouse, Salvatore’s Tomato Pies (the Best Pizza!), fashionable Mint Mark Cafe for breakfast, Noddle’s & Company Pad Thai, and our very own John’s incredible burgers at home!



Loved every minute with our John and Laurel.  They know how to hug and talk to and feed visiting parents in the very best sort of way!  Thanks you two!!  We can’t wait to come back to Madison…

Quilt of Many Colors

Hi there– Finished stitching up this quilt for our Laurel– She and John are getting married in August this is their wedding quilt.  She has always been our most “colorful” child–so when I handed over my Pinterest quilt idea board, I wasn’t surprised when she picked this bright quilt!


It was super fun to work on with all the variety color and shapes!! –with a soft green patterned flannel backing.  About 100 hours of stitching– plenty of time to sit in front of HGTV!!  And also some quiet time to sit and stitch and pray for Laurel and John and all they good years they have ahead…

So happy for you dear girl– You’ve made our lives fuller with all your colorful adventures, including your purple tinged hair!!

(Almost) Winter in Madison!



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!)


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.

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!

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!

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.

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…

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

Out and About in Madison


Hello all– Back from a couple weeks in Wisconsin and it was really a 2 part trip (so more later…).  Here’s “Wisconsin– Part #1,”  This is the week with Laurel out and about in Madison.  I thought about calling this post “Mad About Madison”  –I liked it that much!  Here’s my faves from our days together:

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I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the state capitol building!!  Laurel’s co-op office is on a corner of the capital square, so she walks straight through the building on her way to work in the morning– a glorious commute!

One afternoon we took off across the countryside, past hilly farmland, stopping in Mt. Horeb  and rolling on the Cress Spring Bakery for Pizza on the farm.

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Photos:  Rolling farmland, Scandinavian shop in Mt. Horeb,  pizza picnickers out on the farm.

We spent a morning in the new Madison Public Library–being very fond of libraries (especially this one!), I went back and read through one afternoon there while Laurel was working…

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Photos above:  back half of the children’s floor, library exterior, Laurel looking over the kid’s book selection,  3rd floor event space looking across the city.

Just loved strolls through Laurel’s neighborhood on Lake Monona, all the stately older houses, lush trees, flowered yards– plus the lake and park along the canal.  So different than my little California suburb.

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Photos above:  Bridge across the canal, two of my favorite houses, morning crew out on the dock feeding ducks.

One day, I wandered across the street from Laurel’s work to stroll through the Wisconsin History Museum– four floors of Indian artifacts, immigrant settlers and things particular to Wisconsin–an afternoon well spent.

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Photos above: Indian utensils and satchels, immigrant clothing & religious artifacts

And Laurel and I took drizzly walk through her neighborhood along the lake to Olbrich Gardens to walk past fountains, flower beds, and wooded pathways.

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Thanks for your warm and wonderful hospitality Laurel & John–It couldn’t have been more fun!  Glad we finally got our picture up on the visitor wall!!  (We’ll be back!)

Wonderful (& Wild) Wedding Weekend

Sunset at Paul and Andrea’s  Beautiful Beachside Wedding

Hello all– Last weekend we went from a little house of 2 people to a bulging house of 11.  Kids came in for our niece adorable Andrea’s wedding and I loved every crowded noisy minute of it.

11822858_10204674970575896_3730882765683165991_n     11219519_10101297814102144_8912496234809558510_nThe wedding day was brilliant and so were the bride and groom–  photos: Andrea with her ever-loving’ Dad– and the happy couple after the ceremony.

And we sandwiched a little more fun into the weekend with kids in tow.

11846516_10156323924120131_2099115365889498471_n   IMG_2280

11794378_10104479821094423_2002550834861642123_o     11222728_10104478528419953_8163597927642699430_o  photos:  4 gals snapping selfies in the backyard,  Laurel & John celebrating Route 66 on the Santa Monica Pier, John greeting the mastodon at the La Brea Tar Pits Museum on his L.A. tour, Brian-Harry-Ani out for super burger dinner and a stroll around Fullerton.

11791899_10153160423171478_1343325681399519460_oIt warmed a mom’s heart to have kids around the house and all dressed up (!) for the lovely wedding together– thanks all –for the memorable weekend!!

Eating with Laurel in Chicago

Stan’s Donuts–home of the pocket donut, stuffed with banana or peanut butter or…

Hi friends–
If you’ve talked to me at lately, you’ve probably had to listen to me go on (and on) about my week with Laurel and Jenon in Chicago.  Well, here I am again.  Just wanted to tell you about eating in Chicago, which everyone knows is a very important part of traveling.  Right?  Here’s some fun meals we ran into:

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     DSC01950    The first evening Laurel whisked us off to Charlatan.  It’s a very current kind of place, labeled “Italian-American Farmhouse Fare.” Loved all the bites we passed around the table and it was all so beautiful on the plate.  And it has the added bonus of three mascots on the back wall to welcome you in.  photos: place setting; salad with farrow, lardons, pomegranate & smoked walnuts; chicken & waffles; a buck buffalo and wild boar on the back wall over our shoulders.


DSC01953     DSC01961My favorite breakfast was at Winchester Cafe.  Unfortunately I was so excited to eat my breakfast, I forgot to take a photo before it was all gone!  You’ll just have to trust me that the avocado & grapefruit seasoned with peppers –with seedy toast was pretty and delish! photos:  Oatmeal with dried fruits, breakfast menu, a well eaten breakfast…

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Laurel had told me ahead about Coal Fire Pizza, so I had been really anticipating this delicious stop.  As you would guess, the pizza’s are blasted in a coal fired oven.  I sidled over to peek in the kitchen to get a look at the oven.  The friendly server told me some spots in the oven reach 1200 degrees!  And they only leave the pizzas in to cook for 90 seconds!  Amazing.  photos: John & Laurel with our pizzas– they drop little puffs of fresh ricotta on the pizza after it’s cooked, and pizza hot from the oven.

DSC02050   DSC02040  DSC02048.
We preceded our visit to the Swedish American Museum with a bountiful Swedish breakfast at Ann Sathers– where they’ve been serving up their legendary cinnamon rolls and Swedish pancakes for over 60 years.  Good morning!!!


c96ddea4b9db6957a1028175ef89c51a     DSC02250    On our last night in town Laurel & John ferried us over to Margie’s Candies.  Opened in 1921, it counts Al Capone and the Beatles as former customers! It’s a candy shop, and also serves up monumental ice cream sundaes.  It’s a tiny place and we waited a while squished into a corner until we slipped into our cozy booth that looked as it I may have been there since the beginning.  I don’t need to tell you it was a mouth watering stop.  photos; the shop and the ice cream!

DSC02070     DSC02069Hanging out with a 30 year old takes you places you might not have wandered into by yourself.  Take Furious Spoon! Loud and a little crazy– but oh that broth,  best ramen around… (sorry Laurel for all the wacky Laurel eating shots– but you are a pretty irresistible food model!)


DSC02237     littlegoat_intro_033013And last, but far from least, we settled in for dinner at Little Goat Diner.  A wish come true.     The interior was clean and retro-ish modern, and the food was updated old fashioned.  Loved it.  photos:  Quesadilla with asparagus and blueberries (who dreamt up that one?) and below, my tuna melt on sour dough with a cheese sauce and topped with a bright nicoise salad.  It was incredibly edible.

So Thanks Laurel (and John and Jenon) for all the good eating and your amiable companionship at meal time.  Can’t wait to do it again!

Spring Break Chicago!

DSC02154Hey there– Back from the best kind of spring break– not balmy beaches and swimming pools, but blustery days out and about in Chicago.  Trekked back with a college friend, Jenon, to stay with my Lovable Laurel of the blue and purple hair.  It was grand!

P.S.– I apologize in advance for any “photo fatigue” you may endure here– so many pictures– I couldn’t narrow it down!  (just skim!)

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DSC01970     DSC01986Our first morning we headed downtown to study our way through the Art Institute.  The monumental building welcomed us in and we set off toward the European paintings with loads of happy anticipation–favorites:  architectural details along the Grand Staircase,  “Meekness” one of series from the Beatitudes by by Eustache Sueur (French), the American folk art collection and this more modern take on “The Annunciation” by George Hitchcock (American)

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11088556_10100959968986450_7808233584593343123_nIn the afternoon we scurried through the chill of Millennium Park (the Bean!) and across downtown, stopping midway for a restoring cup of hot tea.  Here’s our mandatory reflection in the bean photo– we’re the 3 jolly gals in the middle!

DSC02036     DSC02039We did a little grocery shopping at Eataly (Mario Batali’s super amazing Italian grocers/eating spot) and at the local Mariano’s for soup ingredients.  Grocery shopping–one of my favorite indoor sports!

DSC02050    DSC02052    DSC02055. We started the next day with a Swedish Ann Sather’s breakfast and then strolled next door to the Swedish American Museum– checking up on Jenon’s Scandinavian roots!

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Of course we squeezed a little shopping– to the Four Corners Print shop to pick up a Chicago skyline print for Laurel– and into the fanciest Walgreens installed in an old Chicago banking building.


DSC02106     DSC02109One soggy morning, we found ourselves in the (slightly drippy) Garfield Park Conservatory– an immense glasshouse, built in 1908 and chock full of lush vegetation, secret pathways and the brightest blooms.  Loved it!

140416_blog_photo_Landmarks_Glessner1_BillZbaren    DSC02113

DSC02114     DSC02119One of my favorite stops was at the historic Romanesque Glessner House, built in 1886, by architect Henry Richardson.  It’s on Prairie Street, once home to Chicago’s elite, and is filled with original Arts & Crafts movement furnishings of the Glessner family.  So grand to pretend we were guests in this exquisite house–  ((last photo: Laurel and I examining Mrs. Glessner’s dressing table.)


DSC02147     DSC02146And we spent a fishy afternoon gaping at all the creatures in the Shedd aquarium.  Personal favorites– the sea turtle and the otters.

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DSC02192     DSC02176Next stop, the Lincoln Park Zoo.  One of those beautiful older zoos–the lion house is a classic.   And it’s free.  That just feels like a friendly thing to do– welcoming people in to say hi to the animals without even standing in line for a ticket.


And finally we topped off our trip at the Chicago History Museum– It’s one of my favorite stops in a new city– to get a real sense of the place.  They had exhibits from Fort Dearborn, the Chicago Fire, and architecture and pop culture.  Big fun. Here is the Water Tower that escaped the Chicago Fire and Laurel pointing out her neighborhood on the map.

DSC01938     DSC02237And, of course, there was plenty of eating involved– Laurel and John know how to pick the most intriguing places to sit down to a meal.  (and I do have to include the scrumptious Nicoise  salad tuna melt).  But I’ll save most of all that eating that for another post…

Thanks bunches Jenon and Laurel for all the fine times out and about in Chicago.  xoxo!



Moments with Mae

Hi there friends–  Well, last weekend was a whirl of sweet fun.  Aaron and Jessica were on a trip so they brought me up to San Francisco and flew Laurel out from Chicago and Ani trekked a couple miles across town for a “Girls Weekend” to babysit our Mae!!     Here’s the highlights:

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There was squishy Playdough and lots of story reading.

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We set out along the park and down to Mae’s favorite breakfast spot for oatmeal topped with yogurt, nuts and fruit.  Here’s she’s looking over all the toppings with Aunt Ani.


10317781_10103864566669223_8585837015772320323_o   10830491_10103864566664233_8849017285676404723_oAnd Uncle Brian ferried us all down to Chrissy Field for a Taco picnic, some bouncy ball playing and a walk along the bay toward the Golden Gate.

And at the end of the day, there was always bath time– It was three days with little Mae and my two girls– “the aunties”. What could be better than that?


Crafting Christmas Wreaths

IMG_3220Hi friends– I’m not much of a Christmas crafter– No painted ornaments, no knitted stockings…   But when we were up in SF over Thanksgiving, Jessica took us down to Studio Choo– for a morning wiring together Christmas wreaths– and it couldn’t have been more fun!

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We got a quick lesson and then were left with bountiful buckets of greens and berries and the tools to go to work!…

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It took us a while.  And every wreath was individual– from Ani’s pinkish flowery wreath to Jessica’s asymmetrical berry laden one.

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All around the studio, everything was beautifully organic.

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So fun to watch how each wreath developed stem by stem wired around the ring.

Thanks Jessica for one of the best “Girls’ Day Out” ever!!


Food Faves in Chicago

IMG_1554Hello there– Did I mention what a wonderful week I shared with our Laurel in Chicago?? (of course I did!)– We’ll here’s a little P.S. to that previous post.  Wanted to tell you a few of the great things to eat that you can find in Chicago…

IMG_1550     10553462_10100749314434860_6510726160228527300_nLaurel knows I’m a sucker for Cute Coffee Shops– so the first morning we headed over to “Lovely: a bake shop,” and settled into their homey old fashioned space for some moist fragrant scones and the cutest (yep, cute!) pots of tea.

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IMG_1632     IMG_1639We spent one entire afternoon wandering through the shelves of Eataly, Mario Batali’s two story Italian goods store– so much glorious food!  And it provides several spots to set yourself down to a lovely meal  (and that’s exactly what we did for a charcuterie lunch at the mozzarella bar).  The bottom-right photo is a gnocchi maker at work…

IMG_1787      IMG_1786 Of course, in Chicago, having a hot dog at a neighborhood place is a must.  One evening after a long session of painting/furniture construction in Laurel’s new apartment we walked down to Chopper’s– and a late supper along with a whole fleet of Chicago policemen who seemed to like this place as well.

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IMG_0437     IMG_0435One warm evening found us sitting out on the patio at Mott Street Restaurant.  How can I describe this place?  It’s small plates to share like tapas, but ingredients and tastes borrowed in from various cultures–   Loved the pork stuffed cabbage with kimchi & sticky rice. Pictured:  bread with pickled red onion & cranberries + kale butter — and wok cooked Brussel sprouts with pancetta, maple brown butter and peanuts)

IMG_1595     IMG_1596We made a quick stop, as we came out of the blue line train, at Stan’s Donuts.  It was a terrible decision– blueberry fritters or nutella stuffed donuts… but we landed on a “pocket donut” stuffed with bananas and peanut butter and covered with chocolate.  Oh my!

IMG_1597Thanks Laurel Kate for being my resourceful eating buddy–I’m looking forward to more comestible adventures ahead with you!

Chicago Super Seven

IMG_1569Hi blog friends–  Our daughter Laurel works for the photo website, Photojojo. About once a year, the employees pack up and relocate to an exotic location (Thailand, India, Costa Rica…) and spend a couple weeks on a “work-cation.”  They work some days and tourist  around in between.  It’s a whole company of people who know how to have fun (and take great photos while their at it)…

So when I visited my Laurel this past week we had a little work-cation of our own– She’s just moved into a sweet old apartment in Chicago, so we spent our days tracking down furniture and all she needs to kit out a kitchen–and did our share of eating and touristing as well.  What could be more fun than that?!

So here’s the super seven of a fab week with Laurel:

IMG_1553     IMG_1657     #1.  Let me just jump in right from the start– some fabulous eating!  Laurel does know how to find the best places!  (I’ll do a whole ‘nother post on all that yummcious food.)
Here Laurel takes her expert food pics.  And a incredible charcuterie lunch at Eataly.

IMG_1577     IMG_1576#2. We spent an afternoon trekking through down town Chicago–  joined the summer tourist crowds snapping pictures of the bean.  Why is that thing so intriguing?  And we explored the Chicago Cultural Center top to bottom, ending up under this glass dome.

IMG_1668     IMG_1768     #3.  And, of course, we shopped–thrift stores, good old Homegoods and 5 productive hours in Ikea!!  Gathered up all we needed to make a home sweet home for Laurel.  Then
we went to work.  If you need help, putting together any Ikea furniture together, give us a call.  We’re experts!  (even constructed a sofa.  Yikes!)

IMG_1711     IMG_1700#4. On Saturday, we hit the road for Milwaukee with Laurel’s friend John at the wheel.  It was great–from a community Farmer’s Market, to the most incredible Milwaukee Art Museum on Lake Michigan, on to the river walk and, of course, a Wisconsin brat lunch.

IMG_1606     IMG_1549    #5.  I have to say my very favorite moments were working mornings with Laurel.  We’d locate a comfortable table in a cozy coffee shop and and breakfast, while Laurel worked and I wrote on blog posts and read away the hours.

IMG_1637     IMG_1630    #6.  We spent an afternoon wandering through Eataly, Mario Batali’s food emporium, two floors of Italian groceries and several tempting spots to sit and enjoy a leisurely lunch.  We couldn’t resist the charcuterie and a glass of wine.  It was a food wonderland!

IMG_1546     IMG_1558#7.  As a California girl, I love the old style architecture of Chicago.  Laurel’s neighborhood is a collection of leafy streets lined with solid brick homes and beautiful old churches.

IMG_1578     IMG_1752. So here’s Laurel in front of her new home sweet home.  Thanks dear girl for all the furniture shopping, nonstop talking, salad making, apartment planning, sight seeing fun.  It was the best!!

Mini Vacay with Laurel

Hi all–  Laurel and I have had a few rollicking vacations together.  There was the touristy food-filled August in Portland.  And that 4 day cross country road trip from Chicago to Socal,  when she found every historic sight from the St Louis Arch to the Indian Museum in Gallup to the “blizzard” at the Gand Canyon as we made our way down route 66.  But my favorite was our birthday trip Dublin, Paris, Spain– fabulous food, miles of walks through museums and lots of back alley exploring…  Yep, she’s the best travel buddy around.

So when she came home this week for her high school reunion, we slipped in a quick sunny day of mini-vacation down by the beach.  It was grand.

IMG_0167     imageWe set off walking across Balboa Island, past bobbing boats and the adorable houses.

IMG_0188     IMG_0172Then we hopped on the ferry to cross the channel over to the beach. That 10 minute ride on the water truly makes me feel like I’m on vacation!

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IMG_0179     IMG_0181We trekked out onto the Balboa Pier to have a late huevos rancheros breakfast up on the rooftop of Ruby’s, watching the dolphins arc through the water and talking non-stop.

IMG_0192     imageThen we ferried back to the Island, strolled down the shopping street with a stop at an old favorite sweets store.  Thanks Laurel-Lu for day out and about.  Loved it.  Love you.

We’ll always have Paris…




Hi all– I was browsing through my favorite card shop up in SF when I came upon this glitter encrusted copy of an old Notre Dame post card.  I grabbed it to send off to Laurel– to remind her of  our Paris trip this time last year!  I wish we could do that trip all over again– but at least I can drag out our photos to enjoy those memorable days one more time …

IMG_6119   IMG_3764   IMG_6293We were intrepid tourists and strolled out every day to see all the famous (and not so famous) sights.
Laurel’s fish-eye view of the line into Notre Dame, in the park behind the tower, overlooking gardens in Versailles.

IMG_4009   IMG_3658   IMG_6430  We poured over the incredible art, pieces we had studied in art history classes and were so glad to “meet” them in person.
— Van Cleve’s “Christ the Savior of the World”  at the Louvre, Representations of Cosette in the Victor Hugo Home,  portrait by Jean Dubuffet at the Georges Pompidou.

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Oh, and the food.  There was no shortage of wonderful things to eat.  —
Breakfast at “La Favorite,” around the corner from our hotel,  Charcuterie for dinner,  artichokes in a market stall, the remains of Laurel’s duck dinner.

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All around, everywhere we looked, so much beauty…  thank you Laurel for a trip
I’ll never, ever forget.
View from a Louvre window, sailboat pond in the Tulleries, a street view in the Marais, clock window upstairs in the Orsay, Hotel de Ville.

Chicago Top Ten

IMG_0574Hellos friends—Last week we spent my spring break catching up with Laurel in Chicago.  It was grand!  From the moment she whisked me “home” on the blue line train to the lazy good-bye Sunday brunch, I loved every minute with that girl!  Here’s my Chicago top ten:

IMG_0505     IMG_0370#1.  Surprisingly, my favorite hours of the week were the ones that Laurel was “at work.” She writes for “Photojojo” and that involved mornings breakfasting in interesting coffee shops while she tapped away at her computer and I poured over a book.  All those quiet hours together felt luxurious– companionable small talk and working over mugs of tea…   (photos:  peanut butter and jelly bar–our breakfast dessert!  And Laurel at work in our her old standby coffee house, Filter.)

IMG_0363     IMG_0492#2.  And you know we managed to find some good things to eat.  Late night Chicago hot dogs at the neighborhood spot,  bowl’s full of silky noodles and veggies at Penny’s, a chilaquiles brunch at Prasino’s,  vegan tacos at Native Foods…  I’m not weighing myself this week back home yet!   (photos:  outside the neighborhood hot dog shop.  Colorful–and delicious– vegan tacos)

IMG_0452     IMG_0427#3.  Once Larry joined us, we spent a intriguing morning in the Field Museum.  I kept wishing my 3rd graders could have tagged along to see things we had talked about in science lessons.  And I couldn’t resist taking loads of animal photos to email off to the grand-girls in China.  It was big fun.

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 #4.  Laurel’s  a walker–so we spent lots of time getting from here to there through north Chicago neighborhoods.  I loved the traditional brick homes of Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village neighborhoods.   (photos: 2 houses on Laurel’s street and a grand home in Wicker Park)

IMG_0613     IMG_0612#5.  It was big fun to sit over meals and talk with Laurel’s room mates Raul and Keighty– such bright and creative people.  And to meet other friends who were coming and going.
(photos: dinner time, 2 old friends)

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 #6.  For Larry, of course, a good trip to Chicago includes a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. So we bundled up and joined the crowds rooting in the Cubs.   Fun to be in such a historic old ballpark.  (photos: outside and in the stands at Wrigley Field)

IMG_0373    IMG_0381    #7.  When Laurel and I get together, there is always a little shopping involved–browsing at Myopic Bookstore, picking out favorite little art pieces at the Paperish Mess shop, gawking at the bounty at the huge Wholefoods, picking up treats at the Crate & Barrel Outlet…  (photos:  Laurel reading at the childrens’ books shelves and a grind your own variety of nut butter station)

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#8.  We hopped into Laurel’s little brown Fiat 500 to travel out to the suburbs to join my cousins for a beautiful breakfast by the fireplace and another night to travel out to meet up with old Spain friends for dinner and lots of good talk…  (photos:  Cousin Brenda at home and old friends from Spain Paula and Elaine)

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#9.  On Saturday Larry, Laurel and I trekked the 2 1/2 miles from her house into the city center.  We stopped at an amazing Italian bakery midway to snack on cannolis, shopped a bit on Michigan Ave., lunched at Bao Wow (fast food Chinese buns), walked along Lake Michigan and stopped for churros and thick hot chocolate (just like Spain!) at Xoco.  (photos:  Hancock building and our walk along Lake Michigan)

IMG_0614     IMG_0628#10.  Sunday we walked just a few blocks to church at “the Painted Door” a group that meets in an old  high school auditorium– and brunched on chillaquiles and banana bread french toast in the sunshine before we set off for the aiport and home to California.
(photos:  On the walk to church and a Prasino brunch together before we take off for home)

Thanks Laurel for all the good times in Chicago.  You know we loved the time with you!

Cambria with Kids

IMG_9750Hello all– I guess you know there’s few things a mom likes more than time with her kids.  Ours are scattered far afield, but this past weekend we met up in Cambria for windy walks, good meals, a little touristing and some late night Trivial Pursuit.  And stories.  I could listen to them go forever.  So here’s a few pics from our weekend away.  It was grand.

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We joined the cluster of tourists trundling up the hills to Hearst Castle, built almost a century ago to contain the architectural and art collections of of William Randolph Hearst–at points imposing, other moments beautiful and surrounded by views of velvety hills and the sea.

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And you know I sure did enjoy sitting down to eat pretty meals that I didn’t have to cook.  We talked over plates of curry, baskets of sandwiches, servings of ham and eggs…

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The shores of middle California are rockier, more wild than our sandy, busy beaches down south.  We walked along the wooden boardwalk watching waves thunder in and joined the crowds peering down at the rows of lugubrious elephant seals.  And our windy sunset walk sent us scurrying along the cliffs.  So much beauty.

734628_10101925787852513_384436388_nThanks Old AA & Jessica, Ani & Brian and Laurel-Lu for making our weekend the best.

P.S.  thanks Larry & Ani for the photos I stole–good ones!