Birthday Girl’s Weekend– Santa Barbara!!

Hello friends– Do you have fall birthdays to celebrate in your family?? We have a big one– Maryann turned 10!!  So last weekend we trekked up to Santa Barbara for her “ten year old birthday trip.”  Let me tell you, it’s big fun to have all that time to ourselves with our bright spunky girl!

We started out referring to our Birthday Fun Map–  First stop was the Moxi Museum for kids.  Maryann was in her element.  Hands on exhibits using light, art, sound, movement.


Then we were off on the Little Toot tugboat tour of the harbor– the Captain even gave Maryann a turn at the wheel!

We made a Sunday morning stop at the Santa Barbara Mission–founded 1786.

Then dropped in to stroll through the lush Santa Barbara Zoo.


We picked out our favorite pieces at the SB Art Museum– and puzzled over a few we were unfamiliar with.

And we rounded out our day with a tour through the historic courthouse– up the tower for views across Santa Barbara.


The sun was about to set when we headed back to deliver Maryann home.

We’re so thankful for days exploring with this sweet girl.  Happy Birthday 10 year old Maryann!!  Here’s to a great year ahead!


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 you add to our lives– And Happy Birthday 10 year old!!

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!)

DSC01985     DSC01974

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)

DSC02023     DSC02025

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!

DSC02062     DSC02078
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.

DSC02207     DSC02189

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!



Grand-girl Top Ten

Hi all– Well the grand-girls have been here for 10 wacky fun-filled days–time to send out the Grand-girl Top Ten– our favorites so far!

A back seat full of grand-girls, on their way to the zoo!!

IMG_8433     IMG_8329
IMG_8288     IMG_8284
After dinner fun in the new play house, opening all the envelopes full of surprises from the girls after breakfast,  Jet-lag strikes–mid coloring session & at the park.

#1.  Loading up at the Library– We’re set for snuggy bedtime stories.
#2.  Cut throat UNO games– Those girls get the giggles when they serve up a Draw 4 to Grandma!
#3.  New Secret Password (it’s “fancy pants” –don’t tell)
#4.  More than 1 trip to Yogurtland–load on those gummy worms!
#5.  Frequent spontaneous jet-laggish nap.
#6.  Sunday morning Sunday School –Charlotte told me it was “the best time she never-had!!”  (I think that’s good.)
#7.  Carrying over, putting together the playhouse on loan from next door.  (Thanks Trisha and Oscar).
#8.  Bathing suit shopping, ending in the pool at Great Grandma Lo’s.
#9.  Reading through a tall pile of drawing-letters from the girls, complete with homemade envelopes– stickers and colorful tape included.
#10.  A day out to the L.A. Zoo, with car naps for 3 girls & their grandma on the way home!

It’s happy, silly, exhausting fun to hang with these grand-girls– so glad there’s more ahead…

10154111_10152404209149665_2557245892860294758_n     IMG_8387
IMG_8381     IMG_8432
Off to explore the zoo,  Grandpa and Jobay check out the flamingos, Maryann reads to map to see where we are,  three grand-girls sleep all the way home.