Yearly Archives: 2011

Weekend in Napa for Jessie’s birthday

My sister Jess celebrated her birthday in style in Napa and I was lucky enough to be the one she invited to tag along!  🙂  This was my first trip to Napa (Kevin and I visited Sonoma last year) so I was excited to see what the fuss was all about!

We made our first stop to Chappelet Winery which her friend Daniel works at.  We spent a few wonderful hours there, sipping on some super yummy wines, taking in the amazing scenery, and enjoying each other’s company!  My favorite wine we tasted was the Chenin Blanc and Jessie was in love with the Signature Cabernet.

The entrance to Chappelet

Jess sipping on the first of many wines we tasted

I love being in the dark, cool wineries surrounded by barrels and barrels of wine!

Our private tasting area!

Me and the barrels

We eventually joined in with a group that was tasting and touring the facility (Jessie’s friend Daniel is the one in the middle pouring)

Wine from the 1970’s

Jess on the tour

What a view!

Sister, sister!

After a few hours at Chappelet we were starving so made our way to Rutherford Grill.  The food was super tasty but the company was even greater!  🙂

After stuffing ourselves silly we made our way to the hotel (which Jessie had won through a contest at work)–the Silverado Country Club.  It was so fancy, we had to follow a guy in a golf cart to get to our room, ha!

That night we got out and explored downtown Napa at the Oxbow Public Market.  It reminded us a lot of the Ferry Plaza in San Francisco with a lot of similar stores.  Jess enjoyed a cup of joe from Ritual Coffee and we shared a super yummy tiramisu.

The next morning I woke up bright and early and am happy to report that I went for a 3 mile run while on vacation!  You sure can’t beat the terrain–it was so gorgeous at 8 in the morning and it was such a treat being able to enjoy the views on foot instead of zooming down the road by car.

On the way back home we had some breakfast at Gillwoods Cafe which just hit the spot (yummy granola pancakes!)

Thank you Jessie for inviting me along to enjoy your birthday weekend with you!  We’ve never taken a sisters trip before and we know we have to make this a regular thing!

Sarah’s visit

Kevin’s sister Sarah came up for a shotgun trip on April 10 and it was so good seeing her even if it was for only a few hours!  We met up with her and her friend Dave who lives in SF at Toad Hall bar in the Castro for some drinks (and a few new friends as well).

Beautiful flower on our stroll to the bar

After throwing down a few drinks on such a lovely Sunday afternoon we took a quick cab ride to Chilango (yes, the same Mexican restaurant Kevin and I had gone to just the week before with my mom and Steve–it’s THAT good!)

Dave and Sarah

Me and Kev

D & S

We ended the evening afternoon at Blackbird bar for some final swigs.  🙂

Beautiful mural on our walk back to the car

Even though the trip was short and sweet, we had a blast catching up with Sarah since her move back to LA from New Orleans!

McLaren Park & Ocean Beach

Lola got her share of outdoor adventures in early April with visits to McLaren Park and Ocean Beach within days of each other.

Sometimes we forget that in our funky little neighborhood is a gem such as McLaren Park.  On April 4 we took Lola for a 10 minute walk and ended up in a beautiful open space to play catch and work her out.

Lola’s glamour shot

Me looking over Lola’s shoulder

I love this girl (can’t you tell?)

And so does Kevin 🙂

On April 9 we were craving donuts like nobody’s business so made a trip to Donut World in the Inner Sunset to satisfy that craving.  I hadn’t had donuts since we moved here almost two years ago and boy was that first bite of the chocolate old-fashioned donut (a favorite for both of us!) like pure heaven.

We then made a drive out to Ocean Beach in the Outer Richmond for some beach time.  It was super windy that day but the skies were clear and the beach was pretty empty so we enjoyed a nice walk along the beach.


Lola in action

Such a beautiful beach (if it wasn’t always so chilly!)

Sandy trails

Lola in action take 2

Me and Lola (and my hair, yet again, looks terrible. Thanks Kevin for having my back!)

The funniest thing was that Kevin taught Lola to be obsessed with birds on this walk.  We wanted to get a photo of her running through the birds but she’s never been much of a bird lover so weren’t sure we could do it.  Kevin kept encouraging her “Go get the birdies, go get the birdies!” and after a few attempts she got the hang of it and quickly became obsessed with chasing them.  At one point she even ran through so many groups of birds so far down the beach that we couldn’t even call her anymore, we had to chase her down the beach!

We didn’t quite get the shot we wanted but I guess that just means we’ve gotta try it a few more times (and I’m sure Lola won’t argue with that!)

Mom & Steve’s visit

My mom and her boyfriend Steve came up for another visit (see their past visits here and here) from April 1st-3rd and we had a nice time.

Friday night I joined them in Los Gatos at Jessie’s work, Enoteca La Storia (a super cute wine bar) for some champagne and cheese (a lovely combination 😉 ).

Jess hard at work and me hard at drinking 😉

Jess nommin’ on some goodies

The spread (or what was left of it)

Mom & Steve (in shadows, wah!)

The only scraps we left on the cutting board

Mom, me and Steve through the window

After Jessie’s shift ended we ventured to another wine bar in downtown Los Gatos, Cin-Cin, for dinner.  The restaurant offered small plates and they were fantastic!  We then took a stroll down the main strip and landed at the Dolce Spazio Dessert Cafe for some gelato. Mmm, mmm, mmm!

Beautiful blue sky on the drive to SJ

Afterwards we drove back to San Jose to check out an art walk that happens on the first Friday of every month in downtown San Jose called South First Fridays.  Only a couple of galleries peaked our interest: the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles and another gallery that I didn’t catch the name of that featured pieces about size (from microscopic to ginormous).

Me and Jess in front of some beautiful quilts

One of my favorite pieces.  If you look closely…

…you’ll notice that the artist carved the alphabet out of the tips of these pencils.  Incredible!

I felt like I walked straight into a Dr. Seuss book with these funky tree sculptures.


On Saturday, mom and Steve came out to SF for some exploring.  Our first stop was lunch at Chilango Mexican restaurant.  Now I’ve always been a fan of Mexican food (I mean hello, I’m half Mexican) but I have never fallen so deeply in love with a Mexican restaurant as I did with Chilango.  Their food is in traditional Mexico, D.F. (the capital) style and it is SO AMAZING!  A little pricey but holy hell it’s worth it.

Okay, I’m done drooling now.

My mom and I giving Chilango two thumbs up!

We then took a nice drive through the Castro, starting out at the Seward slides (see a video of me and Kevin going down the slides here, with Kevin’s crazy drop straight on his rear at the bottom of the slide), then winding our way up through the beautiful neighborhood and finally ending at Corona Heights park.  Mom, Kevin and I went for a brief hike up to the top of the rock formations and really enjoyed the views of the city.

Beautiful colored rocks against a bright blue sky.

A random little “village” we came across.  These little houses were maybe 6 inches tall, so cute!

Me and Kev at the top of Corona Heights

For dinner we shared our love of Ethiopian food with mom and Steve and they quickly became fans!  We went to Cafe Ethiopia in the Mission which we had tried before and definitely loved (except for one of the waiters telling us, at the end of our meal, that “there are people waiting to eat”, we got the hint!)

Dig in!!

We had a really nice visit (and lots of yummy food to boot!) with mom and Steve.  Looking forward to their next visit!

Lake Merced & Earth Hour 2011

Mar 26–Lake Merced

Kevin and I spent an afternoon walking around part of the huge Lake Merced in the southern part of the city.  I discovered it with a friend when we decided to do a 3 mile loop run a few weeks prior and wanted to take Kevin and Lola there.

I know, we’re terrible doggy parents, always making Lola pose in front of the weirdest statues (this one, if you can’t tell, is of three penguins).

Kevin & Lola at the end of the path surrounded by strawberry bushes.

I know my hair looks terrible.  Unfortunately, Kevin didn’t think to tell me before he snapped this photo!  Hahah.

Mar 26–Earth Hour 2011

The first time I heard about Earth Hour was when we were in Australia in 2008 and although I had never participated in it I thought it might be fun to do it this year.  So at 8pm on the 26th we shut off the lights and hung out by candlelight.

But of course we couldn’t just sit there and stare at each other in the dim light.  We had to do something.  And do something we did!  We spent a couple of hours messing around with flashlights, lasers and the camera to take some cool photos.  Kevin was the genius photographer behind all this and I “wrote” in the air with the light.

The first one was written with me facing the camera so I had to write backwards and in cursive–not the easiest thing, let me tell you!  But I think it turned out pretty good.

This second one we used a laser pointer and I wrote Lola’s name facing her.  The hard part was getting Lola’s body to be lit up so after I finished writing her name, Kevin flashed a flashlight on her for just a second so that her body could be captured in light (otherwise she would’ve been too dark to see).

I’ve determined that we should honor Earth Hour more often so that it will get us off our rears and do something fun like this!  🙂

Dog sleepover, etc. in March

So it’s been a while since I last updated the blog, oops!  I think that can only mean that we’ve been having a good ol’ time up here, right?  🙂

Here’s a bit of a recap:

Mar 16-18–Lola’s first sleepover with Bailey!

While Carleigh was out gallivanting in Israel & Jordan (!) and Scott was at a work conference, we had the opportunity to dog-sit for Bailey and Lola couldn’t have been happier!

They spent lots of time together…


…chewing on chew toys…

…eating (but only when they could be within sight of each other)…


…and more sleeping (notice how they only switched sides of the couch)…

…more sleeping…

…and yet more sleeping…

Before we had to drop off the bundle of joy we took a series of photos that are pretty hilarious as an animation:

Mar 19: Pyramid with Lola

With Bailey gone, we had to keep ourselves entertained and the way we did this was in making a pyramid with Lola on top.  We’re so cool.

Mar 20–Jenny’s visit

Our friend Jenny from Long Beach (we went to middle/high school together) was in town for work and was able to meet up with me for some lunch at Hamano Sushi in Noe Valley.  It was soooo nice catching up and I can’t wait for her next visit (hint, hint)!  🙂

Mar 23–Rainy walk in the neighborhood

We had lots and lots of rain throughout the month of March but it couldn’t keep us cooped up inside all day!  Lola and I ventured out for a walk in the neighborhood and were just short of soaked by the time we got back home.

It’s raining, it’s pouring…

The sun peaked out for a brief moment and we took the opportunity to hit the pavement.

Lola: “Dude, this is not cool.”

Using our car as a safe haven.

And of course the clouds part just as we get home!

Mar 25–Construction on our house starts

Our landlords are stuccoing the house and so as a result our backyard has been completely taken over with construction equipment.  They’re on a bit of a hiatus today (4/24) but the crew should be back in a week or so to finish up the job.  It will be nice once we have the yard to ourselves again!

Lola: Okay, what’s with all this junk?

Lots of tools

Lola taking advantage and making her own jungle gym.

Our personal equipment inspector

Golden Gate Park 10k

One month ago I went for a run and, after huffing and puffing up a small hill, I realized something: it had been three months since my last run.  I knew that was not the purpose of the months of training and my completing the half-marathon even while sick as a dog and so I was determined to not let all of that hard work go to the way-side.  I quickly went online and signed up for the Golden Gate Park 10k that was coming up in early March and began my training that day.

With only four weeks to train, I only built back up to running 4 miles so I was a wee bit nervous about completing the 6.2 mile race.  But I knew that even if I had to walk across the finish line, I’d finish.  My goal was to finish in 1 hour, 20 minutes (13 minute/mile average).

The morning of Sunday 3/6 I woke up early to a nice little rain storm.  I wasn’t too nervous since I’ve run in the rain before and I was hoping it’d let up a bit.  I showed up to the starting line to register, get my race tag, and warm-up.

Still smiling despite the rain! 🙂

Because of the rain, for the half hour before the start time there weren’t many people there.  And, since I was running a race that was put on by a local running club that was open to the public, the majority of the people there looked like professional runners.  I was getting more and more nervous by the minute, afraid that I would get left behind in the dust and be the last person by a long shot to cross the finish line.  As the gun went off, all I could think was “Well, here goes nothing”.

Warming up

The rain was coming down steadily throughout the entire race so, needless to say, my shoes and clothes were soaked!  But one advantage of the rain was that I didn’t sweat nearly as much.  🙂

Raindrops on the trees

Drizzle over Spreckels Lake

Towards mile 4 I realized I hadn’t yet taken a walking break so I made a goal to not walk the entire race…and I did it!  I was pretty amazed that I didn’t take a single walking break and I still felt pretty good by the time I crossed the finish line.  My finish time was 1 hour, 12 minutes (8 minutes faster than my goal!) and I got a nice little ribbon for it.  I placed 139 out of the total 158 racers, not too shabby.  And luckily I wasn’t the youngest person in the group of the slowest 20.  😉

Soaked to the bone!  But a happy runner nonetheless

I want to sign up for another race in the next couple of months to help keep my running up–who’s with me??  😉  I might do the Bay to Breakers 12k on May 15th–it’s the centennial for the race so it’ll be quite the show!

Hike in Almaden Quicksilver Park

So far we’re 2-for-2 with our goal to hike as many Saturdays as possible!  We went down to San Jose on Sat. 3/5 to meet up with Jessie to explore Almaden Quicksilver Park which isn’t too far from her place.  The total hike was 3 miles and although we could have kept going we had to leave it at 3 miles because Jess had to work that afternoon. We all really enjoyed exploring the small corner of the park we saw and are definitely excited about returning to check out more.

And we’re off! Me, Jess and Lola hitting the trail

Jess and Lola checking out the creek

Kevin got this great shot of the creek

Me and Lola hanging out

The Buena Vista Trail

Jess, Kevin and Lola on the Buena Vista Trail

This led us to the end of our hike: The Buena Vista mining site. We had a good time exploring the remains of this mining site.

Some of the remains of the site, old concrete structures with massive bolts left behind

Creepy look at the long way down the brick wall

Kevin went exploring a little farther as me and Jess took a break and he got this shot of us from the hill across the valley

Then I got this shot of Kevin as he was jumping off the 8 foot brick wall.  Pretty cool!

Here is it zoomed in

Pretty manzanita trees

Berries and blue sky

Lola in flight

Kevin had the day off of work and school on Friday 3/4 so he and Lola came to pick me up from work and we took a little trip to Levi’s Plaza.

This is one of Lola’s favorite parks because there’s a nice, calm river that she loves to run around.  And it’s just at the base of the huge staircase up to Coit Tower so it’s a nice little refuge after the strenuous walk up those stairs.  We only went up about half way this time (see the post from our last trip up to Coit Tower here, includes a video of Lola running around the park) but it was a good little workout nonetheless.

The highlight of the trip was that Kevin took some awesome photos of Lola in flight as she leaped across the river!

I can’t stop cracking up after looking at these photos of her mid-air!  Too funny.

Hike in the Presidio

Kevin and I made a goal to go on a hike as many Saturdays as possible.  So on Saturday 2/26 we went on a 5 mile hike through the Presidio in San Francisco.  The Presidio is a 1,500-acre urban national park at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge and although we had driven through it many times when we had visitors in town, we hadn’t explored much of it on foot.  We followed the map in a book we checked out at the library and, although there was a bit of a detour due to construction, we followed it pretty close.

There was rumor that it might snow in San Francisco the day of our hike but, as you can see, it was a super clear day over the Golden Gate Bridge!  We couldn’t have asked for better weather.

There were lots of old canons and army memorabilia out for people to see.  We thought this beautifully decorated canon was quite the sight:

Then we came upon an old army hospital:

Lola went galloping up the stairs…and ended up on the balcony, looking down at us:

So I ran up to join her for a photo opp on the balcony of the old army hospital. 🙂

Around the back of the hospital we found these two cottages which were built after the 1906 earthquake for refugees:

Nice little set up they had there!

I took a photo of Lola from the inside of the cottage and it wasn’t until later that I realized what she was doing at the time.  Nice way to show your respect for a piece of history, Lola!

Lola on the back steps of the hospital

Officer’s Row

Then we got stuck for a few minutes due to construction.  We were going to try to bypass the construction by zipping through the national cemetery but because dogs aren’t allowed we had to come up with another plan.  We decided to hike through the forest behind the cemetery to try to meet up with the path again (instead of taking the 2 mile detour back the way we just came!)  Luckily, it worked out perfectly and we saw some cool sights along the way.

Me and Lola hiking through the forest

We saw a couple of cool churches:

And here’s part of the national cemetery with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background:

Then we happened upon this weird pile of wood.  After contemplating what its purpose was and after Lola climbed on top of it (typical), we finally saw a sign describing it.  Turns out it’s a gray fox habitat!

Then we saw these huge block letters on poles out in the middle of a field.  One line we were able to make out said “resolve conflict with song” and we had no idea what the heck the purpose of it was.

Then we saw another sign which said that it’s a habitat for a bird.  Here’s a close-up of some of the letters, they were filled with straw.

I guess there are a ton of these artistic habitat displays that people can check out and they’re part of the Presidio Habitats Exhibition.  They’ll only be up through May 15th of this year so we gotta check out the rest!

Beautiful old brick building

“I live on the corner of Upton and Upton”–good lord.

A lone crane out in the field

Fallout shelter: Cool, now we know where to go.

Lola found this random mini castle out in the middle of the Presidio. So I had her pose in front of it since she’s like our little princess.  🙂

At the base of Golden Gate Bridge

View of the coast

The last third of the hike was along the Bay Trail which took us through Crissy Fields and along the beach.

Kevin made me and Lola go through this 4 foot tunnel that was filled with about an inch of water instead of taking the long way around. Crazy guy.

I can’t get enough of this view! And the bridge looked even more amazing on such a gorgeous day.