June 28, 2015

Happenings, Part 2 -> San Francisco

Two weeks does fly by quicker than we usually realize.  These two weeks went by even faster simply because we had our Kiddos here...

Ron and I are spoiled.  We've been self-employed and working together for the past 22 years.  Although we don't get paid vacations, we can take a day off every now and then to play hookie.  We decided that at least one day was to be taken off so we could go to San Francisco.

Monday, June 15:
Today was our day to play hookie.  Jessica really wanted to visit San Francisco and get some 'real' sea food at Fisherman's Wharf.  She said the sea food in Maryland isn't that great unless you go to Annapolis or Baltimore, both of which are a long drive for her.  She also said she can get small crabs called blue crabs but "it's not the same".

it's busier than I expected for a weekday

We got a little bit of a late start for the day.  When we crossed over the bridge and parked at the garage in SF, we had one thing on our minds: FOOD!  Honestly, it was probably sooner than that but as I was the driver and my three passengers slept most of the way (cars seem to do that to them, but not me) I didn't realize it until they awoke and proclaimed their hunger...

Knowing that the weather was expected to be in the 70's, compared to near 100 (or more) at home, we brought our jackets.  Good thing we weren't crazy tourists and wore shorts!  Jessica's mother-in-law, Christine, works in the medical field.  She let us borrow a wheelchair for the day and what a lifesaver it was.  Can you imagine crutches in SF??  No thanks.

Once set up in the wheelchair, our next mission was to find someplace to get lunch.  And like Goldilocks and The Three Bears, the last one was just right :-)

the first one was too expensive
the second one was open seating with standing room only
the third one was just right, not too expensive and plenty of open tables :-)
Yes, there are a lot crazy stupid amount of restaurants and eateries on the wharf.  All we really wanted was a simple bowl of chowder served in a bread bowl.  The first place wanted way too much money and seemed a bit upscale for our taste.  We went across the street (mind you Ron is pushing Jessica the whole time) to Boudin Bakery.  It seemed like a great place to get a bowl of chowder.  Once inside we saw that it was buffet style with open seating.  No way that was going to work with a wheelchair.  We again crossed the street and there it was. The prize.  Right in the middle of it all is a little round restaurant called Chowder Hut.  It's literally round with outdoor seating, an open patio atmosphere and fire pits to keep you warm on a chilly afternoon.  We deiced to sit at a more traditional table.

the drinks came fast but still waiting for their lunch

clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl = my SF favorite
We all ordered something different.  Ron had fish 'n chips, Jessica had a spicy fish sandwich, Alex had crab chowder in a bread bowl and I had my favorite, clam chowder in a bread bowl.  We all enjoyed our meals while being serenaded by a terrific sounding street performer!

Our hunger was soon abated and it was time to stroll around the area.

meant for Father's Day but I thought it was cute because Ron was pushing Jessica around all day :-)
We ended up walking the perimeter of  Fisherman's Wharf and down the main street to Pier 39.  The crowds were more than I would have guessed for a Monday, but then again, it is summer tourist season.

Pier 39 is home to hundreds of shops,  restaurants and even an aquarium
For those who have never been to Pier 39 in San Francisco, you're in for a sensory adventure.  All senses are on high alert when you're here: you can go into the aquarium and touch the bat rays, see all of the colorful shop facades and their wares, smell the fresh bread baking at the Boudin Bakery on the pier, hear the sea lions barking at one another while vying for the best sunning location and so many places for tasty treats!  There are hundreds of shops in the multi level shopping area.  Some sell unique items only found in one location.  Others sell trinkets with the SF logo that you can find on any other corner in the city.  People watching is a past time of many, ourselves included.

chopsticks anyone??
I've heard about the musical staircase for quite sometime.  Today, I finally got to see and hear it in person.  It's an ordinary staircase, toward the center of the pier, that has been transformed into a sound resonating keyboard.  There are motion sensors located along the left side of the staircase (in black).  As people cross the steps and pass the sensors a musical chime sounds.  It's fun for children of all ages.  Could you imagine having a group of people who together could play a song? 
the end of the pier has an unobstructed view of Alcatraz Island
We went in a few of our favorite shops to browse.  Both of the Kiddos bought a poster.  Jessica bought some sourdough bread.  Ron and I avoided the knick knack souvenir collection bug.  But if I could, I would've bought this cute plaque I saw in the sea shell store.

maybe next time around I can get it, if it's still there...
The day was just about over.  We all had our sea food fix.  The kids got their souvenir fix.  Ron and I got our cool weather fix.  Now for the two hour car ride back home.  Good thing I wasn't tired, as I was the driver again :-) 

June 26, 2015

Happenings, Part 1 -> Family, Lasagna & A Party

I knew the time with our kiddos would go fast, but REALLY FAST seems more like it!

We managed to squeeze in some great times making memories.  Here is Part One of our two weeks together.

L-R: Rene', Alex, Sandi, John, Jessica & Ron

Thursday, June 11:
My Aunt Sandi and Uncle John love me as if I was their own daughter.  They have been supportive of Ron and I for so many years.  And Alex and Jessica are like the grand kids they never had.  So when they heard that both of our kiddos were coming for a visit at the same time, they just had to come and see us all!  We chatted here at the house for a few hours, reminiscing about the past and talking about what the future holds for Alex in Japan.  They were concerned for Jessica too.  She's been unable to work since her accident in late May.  It may be up to another couple of months before she can return to her job.  We decided to take the gang over to Marie Callender's for dinner.  The food was great and the conversation flowed freely.

Unfortunately Ron and I still had to put our time in at the shop during the week.  The kiddos didn't seem to mind.  They enjoyed staying up till goodness knows what time (usually 4 or 5am) and sleeping in till mid afternoon...  Oh, to be young again.  We'd share dinner and a game or TV time together but nothing beats fun time!

the beginning of a fantastic dinner
Saturday, June 13:
Thankfully the weekend came quickly and we were able to spend some time with them both.  Jessica had been looking forward to making us lasagna.  But not just any lasagna.  She wanted to make us "World's Best Lasagna", a recipe she found online and has used many times.  The recipe says it takes 3+ hours to prepare.  It really takes a lot longer because you have prep time for the sauce and then the time it takes to assemble the lasagna.  Jessica said that sometimes she'll make the meat sauce and use it for spaghetti.  I'm sure whatever isn't used will freeze quite well.

Jessica and I took a trip to the grocery store together to gather the ingredients.  The grocery store has a couple of the motorized carts.  Jessica rolled around on it while I followed with a shopping cart.  Wish I got a photo...  She filled the cart's basket with lasagna ingredients.  I filled the larger shopping cart with other essentials for the week.

ooey gooey goodness

Jessica was a trooper standing in her boot while cooking dinner for us.  And just like the recipe's namesake, it was absolutely the best lasagna I've had the pleasure of eating!  There were a few slight modifications Jessica made to the recipe.  She used ground turkey instead of ground beef, she added some crushed red pepper, she used already sliced mozzarella cheese (a real time saver) and she used wheat lasagna noodles (her preferred style).  Every one of us ate a huge piece.  It lasted only two meals!  The combination of meats in the sauce, the added egg and spices made the taste incredible.  The 9" x 13" pan was overflowing with melted cheese and meat sauce.  I'm glad she thought of putting it on a foil lined cookie sheet.  If you want a great crowd-pleaser, give this recipe a try.  You won't be disappointed!!

Sunday, June 14:
Alex isn't much a fan of being the center of attention.  So a Big Thanks to Alex for agreeing to my idea of throwing a going away party for him!!  We invited friends and family over to the house.  Some we see often, others not so much.  We had around a dozen people stop by and say their well wishes to Alex.  It's great to see him happy and enjoying himself.  

chatting with friends
We did get some news from Ron's brother, Burk.  He and Karen will be selling their house and moving to Missouri in the next few months.  Karen's dad isn't doing well and she wants to spend as much time with him as she can.  Burk will be working for the same company, only reporting by telephone and traveling to customer's facilities as needed.  We were really hoping to begin RV'ing with them.  We'll definitely have to visit them when we finally get on the road.

On the flip side, the weather that day was excellent.  There was a very slight breeze and the temperature was in the mid 90's.  I asked guests to bring their favorite dessert to share.  I made a cherry cobbler in the crock pot, there were some home made cookies and even a fruit torte.  Everyone left stuffed and of course, there were plenty of leftovers. Yum!
We decided to take Monday off work and play hookie in San Francisco.  But that's in my next post, so stay tuned... 

June 7, 2015

All Together Again

I'm a Happy Mom!

Both of my Kiddos are here for a visit!

Alex and Rocky were the first to arrive.  He drove the 1600 miles in two days!  Talk about die hard driver!  
1600 miles of highway = lots of bugs
Alex is being reassigned to the air base in Kadena, Japan.  He'll be there for the next two to three years.  He decided to take a month of leave to visit family and friends.  Since it may be some time before we see him again, we're more than happy to spend the time with him.  So far we've watched a few TV shows. played some card games and talked about happenings in our lives.  Good times :-)

talking 'tech' with each other
Alex is a technical kind of guy.  He enjoys building computers.  He built a computer for a friend and shared it's innards with Ron who also likes to build computers.  Sometimes it seems as if they speak a language all their own.

Jessica arrived by airplane last night.

Alex, Ron & Jessica, my three favorite people
Jessica broke her foot and needs to use crutches to get around.  Her foot has to be in a boot 24/7.  She would love to go hiking with us but she's limited this trip.  Her only request is to visit Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco.  We'll make it happen!

Last night Alex taught us a new game called Boss Monster.  Rocky watched but I think he was more interested in Jessica's bowl of ice cream.

what'cha doing??
Today is a day to relax.  After getting to bed so late last night we all need it.  Alex and Jessica decide to set up a computer game.  Since they're busy with their game, I guess it's time to get back to my blog and write a post.   

relaxing and entertaining at the same time
Ron and I are looking forward to spending some time with our Kiddos in the next couple of weeks!