Life. 365-Style (9/18-10/21)

Another month has passed, friends. October has really been flying by. We’re out enjoying as much of our warm weather as possible – getting some of our final Stairway Walks wrapped up, squeezing in a hike or backpacking trip, and whatever else we can do to stay outdoors.

In addition to all of that regular stuff, life has been full of changes since August. Some horrible, some not too bad. I had an amazing time in NC with my family, and started a new job right after I got back. We continue to adjust to life without Tange. We had to put mom’s cat down while in NC, and that experience brought back all those all-too-recent memories. But we move on, as is our only choice.

All in all, putting things into perspective, life is still good. Here’s the short summary:

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261 – I had no idea I’d have to say goodbye to yet another cat in such a short time. This was mom’s cat, Boo, who was hiding a large tumor from his mommy until he just couldn’t anymore. He didn’t like me at all, and this is the closest I ever got to him.

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262 – One perk of my visit to NC was spending lots of time with family, and one extra-special perk was getting to finally go to another NCSU football game. We had some pretty awesome seats, and my Pops and I (along with his drunken friends!) had a pretty good night.

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263 – My Sis and I realized the rehab center had this rando bird cage at the entrance. wtf?

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264 – sometimes there’s nothing else to do but watch movies. Bridesmaids never disappoints.

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265 – Neither does bonding with my sissy. We had a really great time together, even if her feet did stink.

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266 – Mom will KILL me for posting this, but I like to think she’ll be ok with it, since I’m commenting on how amazing her hair looked after a good wash and curl – the old-school way!

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267 – Mom stayed in the rehab center for about 10 days, and then I brought her home. Before that though, I loaded the fridge with a whole cheesecake from this cute lil’ place in downtown Clayton. Super tasty.

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268 – Bye, Boo. This was without a doubt the worst day of my visit. It was hard to see mom so upset, after she’d made so much progress, and knowing how excited she was to come home to her cat.

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269 – BBQ one last time. I couldn’t get enough! And I’m glad I discovered Charlie’s.

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270 – Ok, one more time. With Cheerwine, too!

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271 – As much fun as I had in NC and as hard as it was to leave, it felt good to be home to my normal life. Plus, I missed Philz ;).

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272 – Mom wouldn’t have liked Pumpkin Curry, but we sure do!

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273 – Speaking of my normal life, it felt good to not be unemployed. I had three weeks off from working once I left Stanford, and my new job started on 9/30. I was none-too-excited about this pic, but whatever. I can’t ask for much for an ID, I suppose. And for anyone who’s wondering, my job is going well. It’s very similar to my old one in many ways, but I do miss my Stanford coworkers.

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274 – The best part? this dang commute. I bike by City Hall and the Civic Center every day, and lately, it’s been just gorgeous. The hills on the way IN to work? They’ll take some getting used to…

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275 – I should just call this post BBQ and be done with it. Not a week later and we met Liz and Kevin at Southpaw. I actually got the fried chicken, but Chris and I split that and his BBQ.

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276 – Sometimes Sasha really does think. Just not often. But isn’t she so pretty?!

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277 – Another Friday happy hour at Pi.

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278 – We got out of SF for a day and picked up some of our wine in Sonoma. We decided to stop at Matanzas Creek, a winery we went to on our first trip to Wine Country when we were still in Chicago. The views there are gorgeous.

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279 – We finished a Stairway Walk in the Upper Market area of town, right smack dab in the center of the city.

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280 – I love a good fall beer. This is Anchor Steam’s Big Leaf Maple.

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281 – Another benefit of my short commute? I’ve figured out how to make my running work into the trip home – a couple of days a week I take the bus to work instead of my bike, and I run home, creating random zig zags along the way to complete my full program. It takes a little planning, but it’s great to get a full run in and still be home by 6:15. This is one of the views from Dolores Park (and yeah, after barely surviving up the hill, sometimes it’s nice to stop and snap a pic!).

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282 – weeknight vegetable curry. This one was from the True Food book and just ok, but the leftovers tasted better.

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283 – I had a benefits orientation this morning, so of course I managed to squeeze in a trip to The Mill on the way.

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284 – Do you see the lil’ one in the back? I can’t tell if he’s scared or excited.

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285 – It was a little difficult to backpack what with the government shutdown and all, but we found a smaller state park in the area with a short hike in and enjoyed a leisurely afternoon of napping and reading in the sun.

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286 – there’s water back there in the distance. These are the Santa Cruz mountains.

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287 – SPRINKLES! need i say more?

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288 – It’s hard to capture these moments, but Sasha has a weird infatuation with licking plastic. Remember how I said she wasn’t so smart?!

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289 – Pigeons! As Chris would say, #missionlife.

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290 – I’m on jury duty this week, and they don’t require potential jurors in court until 9:30. So, I obviously went to Craftsman & Wolves beforehand for a thai curry scone. Duh.

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291 – Just barely escaped jury duty after being in court for 2 1/2 days. I had to grab another Friday Pi beer.

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292 – This weekend was amazingly beautiful. Chris and I completed 2 Stairway Walks, both on the north side of the city. We even tiptoed around Fisherman’s Wharf for one of them. Tourist count was off the charts, and I think I don’t need to go back there for at least a few more years ;).

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293 – After a sad Bears loss, we hit up a nice semi-outdoor late lunch at Namu Gaji, tossed in some soft serve from Bi-Rite, and laid in Dolores Park for a little bit. Cannot complain about that day, despite the loss.

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294 – Post-run Bernal fog rolling in.

Reverse Californication

wine at Sterling
Friday
Day 2 begins in the Valley of Napa. This is a vacation worth waking up early for – especially knowing that a tasty breakfast is on the horizon. I wish I had pictures of the first breakfast but just imagine a poached egg atop an herbed potato with more diced herbed potatoes scattered about. Topped with a lemon-thyme-pepper cream reduction. Let’s not forget the first course – they always have a “buffet station” with fresh fruit, homemade granola, and cereal along with some additional homemade treat such as a scone or muffin. Makes me feel a little healthier to grab some fruit, except when I dump creme anglaise on top!

We had a number of wineries planned for today, so we really had to get crackin’. The innkeepers had warned us against a winery called V Sattui. They don’t distribute their wine, so it’s a popular place for tourists to hit up and apparently it can get extrememly busy to the point where you are standing in line to get to the tasting bar. We decided at the last minute to go there first thing, since one of Chris’ coworkers recommended this one. To our surprise, the place was dead! And the wine host was so awesome. We knew right away he’d be delightful after he turned around and was wearing a sweater vest with a grateful dead patch. He was a hoot! The next couple at the bar was an older couple from North Carolina – how ironic, right?! We talked for a few about the sad basketball team of NC State and then they started talking about how much they liked Merlot and then the conversation was over. Their wine was great. WBT: 2 (6).


V Sattui winery


Next up was Sterling. We’d heard they had a tram that took you up to their tasting room. Fancy! There was a $20pp price attached, but during my trip looking-up, I found a $5 off coupon as long as you go in the morning. No brainer! The tram was really cool – it reminded me of the one we took in Barcelona last year. They had a neat tasting balcony complete with sunshine and warm weather. The wine host was more of a waiter and brought us our 5 tastings as we finished each one. He was the cutest frenchman (aside from Chef Pierre from school!) and was such a jolly guy. They had an unbeatable special for their entire flight. Sold to the lady with the big shades. WBT 5 (11). So back down the tram we go and on to more wine!


Chris at Sterlingme at Sterling


We’d planned to head up to Alexander Valley for the remainder of the day, but traffic was thick as could be on 29 and we’d sat in traffic for some unknown reason for about 10 minutes with our stomachs growling like mad. With no thanks to the horrible turning radius on the Eclipse, we finally managed a 3-point turn for lunch. We passed a burger/diner joint we’d heard about called Taylor’s Refresher. Good call. We tore down like starving mad tigers, or something. Grabbed an espresso milkshake for dessert; figured since we’d passed on the fries we could “make up” for the “lost” calories with a milkshake. Hit the spot.


Taylor's Refresher


Since for some reason we weren’t meant to head up north, we headed around Napa and then west instead. Chris’ coworker had recommended Miner. The wine host was really nice, but this just wasn’t our cup of tea. Seemed like everyone was there to do business or something. Weird. We did buy a bottle – which apparently is an unsaid rule we had throughout the trip, and the host gave us a free tasting, which we found out later was probably because we used AMEX. WBT 1 (12).

Rutherford Hill was next on the list since it was fairly close. This one was well-hidden, but that wasn’t stopping us! After many a winding road, we found it. The wine host their was too freakin’ funny. I think the first thing he did, after throwing a free tasting pass at us, was scratch his balls. Ha! Totally nonchanlant about the whole thing too, as if he’d done it his whole life. Wait… Anyway. We really loved their wines. One of them, Angel’s Peak, was what was given to a winner on Top Chef. We ended up liking Devil’s Peak better as well as a Petit Verdot and a Cabernet. Turns out he didn’t charge us for either tasting, and he threw in a little cloth bag and wine glass. Wetzels:1; Rutherford:0. WBT 3(15).


Rutherford Hill winery


West we go. I’d read about Matanzas Creek and their lavendar fields in a Food & Wine magazine, so we ventured on a gorgeous road trip through some tight twists and turns over to Bennett Valley. Now this guy was into the wine – he could talk for hours, but he was really helpful. We didn’t venture out to the lavendar fields but got a good look and unfortunatley forgot to take pictures here. But check out their website – you’ll be talked into visiting this one from the pictures alone. This place threw us for a loop though, because we tasted Merlot that we liked! Lesson learned – stay open minded about wine varieties. Point taken :). WBT 3(18).

For our final tasting of the day, we headed to Sonoma to a winery I’d found as a result of insisting on finding Malbec in California, Ty Caton. I’d emailed what I thought was a generic address for the winery, and was contacted by the winemaker himself who gave me a free tasting pass. Turns out they had a great Malbec AND we discovered a new variety that we both absolutely loved, Sangiovese. Go try this – it is so good. I won’t pretend I’m so into wine that I can describe all the “tasting notes” or whatever (which I’ll prove on Saturday) so I can’t really tell you what it tastes like. But if you buy a bottle you can figure it out on your own. Chris found his own special bottle to drink when he finishes grad school too. Too bad we won’t be opening that any time soon!! tee hee hee! WBT 3(21).

wine purchases



With almost 2 cases of wine in 1.5 days of tasting, day 2 winery-ing has come to an end. But the best is ahead – dinner! We’d made reservations at Celadon, which is known for their “global comfort food”. And again, we had to go for apps, entree, and dessert. I had the coconut fried prawns (yes, fried=fatty; shut it, i’m on vacation!) with mango, cucumber and greens with citrus vinaigrette and chris had the pear and endive salad with blue cheese, walnuts, and mustard vinaigrette. Mine was prettier 🙂 and look at the size of those prawns! Yipers!

my prawn appetizer at CeladonChris' salad appetizer from Celadon









For dinner we both opted for the nights’ specials – of which they had three to choose from! Chris had fresh fettucine with rock shrimp which also had a hunk of mahi mahi on top. I had the scallops with banana curry. Sounds good eh? What’s not to like about banana and curry in one sauce?!


Chris' fettucine and shrimp at Celdaonmy banana curry at Celadon











We did learn a lesson from the first night – while stuffing your face is pretty darn fun and fulfilling (no pun intended) at the time, it kinda hurts later, and it’s harder to walk home when you are carrying some extra poundage. So we shared this time. Turns out that dessert was plenty big to share! We again opted for the special, which was called “Chocolate Gooey Cake”. How could anyone in their right mind resist that? Wanna make it a little tastier and tempting? Try adding CREME FRAICHE icecream. What a lovely, creamy taste that had. I could have eaten another bowl and I WILL find a way to make this at home.


cake with creme fraiche ice cream at Celadon


You may be wondering (and even if you’re not I’ll tell you anyway because I’m an informative person) – what’s with the title of the blog? I love the Chili Peppers, as you know from a former post. I have always wondered what the term “Californication” meant, so one day I looked it up. Turns out it has something to do with the movement of Californians into other parts of the country. That’s not what I thought it meant…. And so, with two days of Napa in the pocket of my suddenly tighter jeans, I have already begun picturing myself here on a permanent basis. It’s a place that seemed to fit with me, and I never thought I’d say that about a TOWN that isn’t jam-packed with skyscrapers and public transit. Will the feeling pass by the end? Am I in vacation la-la land? We’ll see. But at this point I close my eyes in great anticipation of waking up on Saturday and once again finding myself in Napa.