I've mentioned this many times in previous entries, but we enjoy playing tourist in our hometown. Sometimes, it takes us to places like Fisherman's Wharf which is actually my least favorite destination, but there are a few gems worth experiencing.
Besides it's rich history, Boudin Bakery truly has the best sourdough bread on the planet. Their newish flagship location contains a cafe, a working demonstration bakery, gift shop and restaurant and bar. During prime tourist season, it's slammed. We've discovered that the crowd thins out by evening, and grabbing a table and bowl of clam chowder in the cafe is a bit easier. For a sure thing and a great view, make a reservation for Boudin Bistro, the restuarant located upstairs. It is on the pricey side, but the food and service are always great.
After you've filled yourself with sourdough, walk across the parking lot to Musee Mecanique, an antique arcade more or less. This is loads of fun for the entire family! Be prepared to drop quarter after quarter into the old mechanical games and enjoy the delightful machines come to life.
Enjoy - F&N
Another favortie destination of our's is the Presidio and Andy Goldsworthy's Spire.
I particulary enjoy the trails in the Presidio as they offer more solitude than other trails around the city, and the Spire offers endless opportunities for D's imagination. Some days, it's a magic portal ready to transport us back to the time of dinosaurs. Other times, it is a soldier fort or alien artificat.
IF YOU GO: Make sure to walk to Inspiration Point which is across the road from the Spire. From here, you can see Alcatraz and Angel Island. Weather permitting, you might catch the bay full of sailboats which is a beautiful site.
Make sure to take the path to Julius Kahn Park, the prettiest park in SF I imagine. While you're walking through the eucalypts trees, keep your eyes out for raptors perched up high or gliding just over head.
As usual…layer, layer, layer!
WWII has been a hot topic in the house lately. Perhaps I'll explain the "hows" and the "whys" another time, but the current soldier obsession coupled with beautiful weather had us headed across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands.
We had a ton of fun exploring the trails, playing in the army Batteries and Forts, and walking out to Point Bonita lighthouse. Weather permitting, or if you can stand the winds, it's a great place to spend the day.
IF YOU GO: Layer, layer, layer! This is the standard M.O. for dressing in SF anyhow, but will serve you well while you're exploring the headlands.
Bring a picnic! There are many great spots to find that look out to the Pacific Ocean and back to the GG Bridge with SF in the background.
Don't forget binoculars! Raptors are present in the area to spot and watch. We were lucky and saw a huge turkey vulture gliding very low right over our heads.
Go to the Marin Headlands website for a description of all the destinations.
Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were festive, happy and somewhat relaxing. Ours were festive and happy, but not relaxing. It's not a complaint, just the truth.
One activity that that provided fun and interest over the break, was a sleepover, Penguins + Pajamas, at the California Academy of Sciences. I thought the idea of an experience as opposed to an object would be a great gift and new approach to Christmas. Fortunately, it was well received.
Shortly after Christmas, we pulled out our sleeping bags and air mattresses, packed our toothbrushes, and headed over to the museum. The dark and stormy night fueled our imaginations and sparked our excitement. After we stored our gear in the atrium and ate dinner in the cafe, we started to make our way through the attractions enjoying the crowd free experience.
Meanwhile, the winds and rain were wreaking havoc outside while we were adventuring inside. Just as a movie on the Farallone Islands began rolling, the power went out. Brief confusion prevailed, then more confusion.
An impromptu scavenger search and visiting with school friends filled the rest of the evening until bedtime. Who needs electricity!
Our favorite shapshots:
An extremely gorgeous and handsome basilisk
the most elegant orb spider
expired but regal butterfly
the geriatric albino alligator, claude
sleeping bag mayhem
our camp spot
D had a birthday last month. It was a small celebration with two friends.
What D wanted more than anything [besides Bobba Fett's lego ship] were hamburger cookies. It's a fake-out food, it looks like one food, but it's really something else. I was skeptical at first, but when I read the instructions I was up for the challenge.
These were really easy. I made the brownies using my regular brownie recipe. You'll find it on the back of the Ghiradelli sweetened powdered chocolate, and it makes the BEST brownies. Oddly, cookies are my least favorite thing to bake. So, I bought some wonderful pre-made pumpkin cookie dough at Whole Foods and that saved the whole project. Just sprinkle some sesame seeds on top before you bake for instant "buns".
1] Make sure to only sprinkle sesame seeds on half the cookies as these will be the tops and the rest, the bottoms
2] Bake your brownies in a larger pan, I used about a 9 x 12, so you'll get thinner brownies and more realistic patties. I was nervous about doing this because the batter barely covered the bottom of the pan, but it worked. Make sure to adjust your baking time!
3] If you're ambitious or just like to bake cookies, the original recipe calls for peanut butter. I think the peanut butter would compliment the brownies perfectly.
4] Go crazy with condiments! The cookies and brownies are just fine on their own, but the icing condiments add a lot of fun. I just did ketchup, but you can do pickles, cheese, mustard and lettuce too.
5] I used a 2.5" baking ring to cut the brownies and a generous table spoon of cookie dough rolled into a ball.
A favorite destination of ours is the Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park. Doc and I visited the gardens frequently during our brief courtship, and now the three of us continue the tradition. D loves imaginary play, so this spot provides endless scenarios. The usual, though, is ninja vs. samurai, inspired by Jack and Annie from the Magic Tree House series.
I have so many pictures from the Tea Gardens, but I thought I'd share these that were taken with my iPhone and the Hipstamatic application.
While the tea service isn't traditional or authentic in the least, it's nice to relax and chat and take in the view over a pot of tea and fortune cookies.
TIP: SF residents receive a discount if you show your I.D. Of course weekends are busiest, especially if the weather is nice. If possible try to sneak in during the week when school is out of session and make a day of it by visiting the DeYoung and the Academy of Sciences.
So, a friend and colleague turned me on to Apolis Activism. I'm sure I'm a late comer, but nevertheless, I'm glad I've discovered it. It's for men, but the accessories can be rocked by ladies, too. At least I think so! Read more about the company and the brother trio who created Apolis.
All images from Apolis Activism. A few of my favorites.
It seems like summer weather has arrived in SF. This year was particularly cold and foggy. I attributed our gloomy summer to our new geographic location, but it truly was a colder than usual summer.
So when the sunny, warm weather arrived, we headed down Highway 1 to Moss Beach, or the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. As a teenager we use to come here to play and explore the tidepools looking for the biggest sea anemone, various starfish and batfish, sea urchins and hermit crabs. Even now, I still love the excitement and anticipation of what the tide pools hold.
This trip we took a new gadget. I'm told it's a snipe. It's made of 4" pvc tubing with a 1/4" acrylic bottom that serves as a window. It was given to D by a colleague of mine. You simply dip the tube in the water and explore the bottom. I'm also convinced that it acted as a microscope, enlarging whatever was in the viewing window.
I'll never leave home without this when headed to the beach! Super fun. More pictures of our discoveries below.
That's a sea anemone! It's a medium sized green anemone. It's fun to touch the tentacles and see the anemone close around your hand. You can even feel the resistance of their sticky, stinging tentacles. Don't worry, these guys won't harm humans.
D spotted the only urchin of the day. Urchins are my favorite. Their color and shape mesmerize me. These guys are hard and pointy, but still fun to gently touch.
Sea urchin shells. These were all over the place, in the water and on the beach. I find these even more beautiful than the creature itself. Nice variety of color and textures.
Interesting find. It looks like a little clam was growing on old, empty clam shell?
The faceted thing in the middle of the picture is a chiton. I thought it was a fossil because it looked like stone, but Doc quickly corrected me. It was pretty big, about 4 inches long. Chitons are really cool and there is a large variety. More research on these guys is in order.
Just a poetic moment.
TIPS: If you go, make sure to check the tide tables or tidelogs to ensure you'll be able to see the pools while the tide is low. Also, go the website, http://www.fitzgeraldreserve.org/ for more information. Make sure to wear shoes you can walk and climb around in and you don't mind getting wet. Rain boots, rubber boots, water shoes I highly recommend. Also, while you can bring chairs and towels, there is very little beach and the sand is very coarse. I think this is more of an exploring beach than lounging. Either way, it's still beautiful and inspiring.
Sometime ago, a writer who was interviewing me for the SF Chronicle asked me what was my most favorite object. That was a tough question to answer. In fact, I don't think I ever responded. But, if asked again, my answer would be my Gerstner tool box. It was a Christmas gift [my only gift as I recall] from Doc years ago.
I have a serious love for tools and tool boxes, both new and old. By far, my favorite is my walnut Gerstner tool chest. The utilitarian design coupled with beautiful craftsmanship make them a true design classic. Beauty aside, they are practical and have so many storage uses beyond tools. Mine stores my minimal jewelry collection, small treasured objects, cards and love notes from Doc and D, and any other sentimental, personal things I don't want on display.
Doc also has his own, but in oak and much smaller. Fortunately, they live in separate rooms, otherwise, I would have to insist both boxes be identical. His box contents are in constant rotation including fly fishing gear, antique tools, receipts, etc. I've recently noticed with his new found hobby, that more and more tools are finding a home inside the green felt lined drawers. While I watch him tinker away, I find myself thinking "I could use one of those at my desk." Hmm…
I do, however, look forward to giving D his own box one day. He's always loved to explore inside the tiny little drawers, and at various times, Doc and I have allowed him to have his own drawer in our respective chests. Perhaps thirteen is a good age, maybe even sooner. Although the price tag is steep, he will have it forever. And hopefully his children will have mine and so on.