Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mom Retired!

JULY 2012 - back to Texas!
My mother decided it was time to retire this year.  It was bittersweet as she had spent so many years, decades, enjoying her work atmosphere and all the friends she'd come to know and love, but the last few years have been dreadful for everyone.  The culture changed, everyone was miserable everyday, it was destroying everyone's quality of life and everyone was looking for their way out.  My Mom's last day was July 6, 2012.  Everyone was asking about a retirement party, so I was unable to work the actual party into a surprise.  Instead, I worked with her best friend Suzy (my other auntie) to coordinate the date, place and of course one fun surprise... Trey and I coming to her party!

I flew in a few days early so I could help with party details and have some time to spend with Chandra.  We had a relaxing and fun time hanging out, chatting over drinks, spending time with Izzy and they took me to a yummy Melting Pot dinner on the last night.  They were due to leave for their vacation just one day before the party so they graciously left me with keys to their house and extra car so I could continue to hide out in Austin :)
I got to meet my Dad & Stepmom for lunch in Austin and then while Donna was busy with a genealogy research project, my Dad & I went to see Moonrise Kingdom at the Velvet Crown downtown in the "new" 2nd street area.  After the movie, it was about 7pm and we began our walk to the parking garage.  It was the most heavenly early evening weather... how to describe... it's warm, it's summer, yet impossible to believe I don't think there was any humidity, and the light breeze you catch like across your face feels like... did I say heaven already?? (this is in JULY people!!!)  I really could not believe I was lucky enough to be in town during this miraculous event so I asked my Dad if we could just park it on one of the sidewalk benches and enjoy it for a few.   So we did and it was seriously a perfect and entertaining evening on our bench!  We chatted and people watched, always a good time in downtown Austin.  All the cowboy boots with chic and girly attire makes me kind of homesick even though I don't wear boots.  The Darth Vader bicycle cab, the conversation and clinking noise of the restaurant with the open patio we were sitting out in front of and then... the live music!!  Oh Austin, how I love thee.  We realized we were on the sidewalk just below the new location of Austin City Limits!  I didn't think our impromtu father daughter date could get any better.  ACL is up over the restaurant, but it's an open air event so we could hear everything perfectly and the headliner was Dwight Yoakam!   I think we sat there for about 2 hours and every time I thought it was time to head home, a breeze would blow through and I'd think, "aahhh... just one more, we'll wait for one more of those..." 

Saturday morning, Trey drove in from Boerne bright and early to meet me for a movie before we had to run errands for the party.  We giggled that Mom would be so annoyed to find out we were at the movies in Round Rock and she didn't know, ha.  We picked up balloons and the homemade rum and tres leches cakes Suzy ordered, took everything to the restaurant to set up and then ran down the road to meet our auntie Elaine (Mom's BFF) at a bar for a drink while we hid out until it was time to surprise Mom at her party.  We had Suzy hand her our card to read just before we entered and it read "...and that's why we wouldn't miss it for the world!" She was confused, but was also so overwhelmed by all her guests in general that she didn't think to hard about what it meant so Suzy had to tell her 3 times "turn around Suzanne!" And ta-da, she was surprised :)  It was fun to see some of my Mom's friends I have known since I was about 10 and haven't seen in years.  I think Mom had a great time and was then excited to have me and Trey in town for a few days! 

(above) Svena (already downed her shot), Mom & Auntie Elaine reenacting theirs for the photo, lol

Visitors, visiting and more visitors!

Baby Lala "Delilah" at 3 mos.

As soon as we got back from Brooklyn, our good friends Beverly and Jerry came to stay with us for a few weeks.  They were in and out using our place as a home base for their northern CA hopping around.  Delilah Grace was born in February and not long after that they decided to leave Hawaii and do a U.S. tour to visit friends and family.  Josh and I were happy to host our friends, but most of all to have some Baby Lala time and watch all her little changes over the 3 weeks she was around us!  We also got a few visits from Sally and Azure (Josh's godson) who is growing so big.  Sally, Azure and Kevin are now stationed in Ft. Irwin in the desert/middle of nowhere in southern CA.  Closer for us and their family but a bummer on location :(  Azure loved when Jerry played the guitar, so cute!

June flew by with home projects, fitness and planning to visit Texas for my Mom's retirement party (see next post).  Early July brought Josh's eldest sister Sarah, Paju & Calliope out for their annual CA visit so we had a full house for 2 weeks.  However, I was gone the first week due to surprising my Mom for her party :)  It was so nice to host family and give them a comfortable space.  I love getting to know them and have been so grateful for our quality time with them in Brooklyn and then a few months later having them here.  Wish they were closer :(  Calliope is such a fashionista with hippy, creative flare and boy is she a smart cookie!  You have to be very careful what you say, she remembers everything!!  I love when I use "big" words, she always challenges me for the definition.  So far I'm pretty impressed with myself, lol.

Below are just 2 photos of our many household projects.  The board is an old piece of redwood fence that we saw being scrapped in the neighborhood on one of our walks.  We pressure washed it, put a light oil stain on it to bring out the richness and then did a clear sealant so we wouldn't lose the look of texture, but not give ourselves any splinters.  The photo does not do it justice of course, but after the walls were painted, Josh and his brother Jake installed it directly on the wall behind our bed and it looks great!  The idea came from Pintrest where people had used old pallets as headboards.  The second picture shows our new master bedroom color, finally!!  After doing the 2 guest rooms, 3 bathrooms, the hallway and the kitchen... and then staring at color sample squares painted on our wall for months it seemed, we finally chose the color Nimbus, the perfectly warm, light grey shown below.  We also put a fresh coat of bright white on the ceiling as well as the doors and trim which were previously an old ivory.  I love it! 

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

May 2012

With Josh and I unemployed, I'm sure galavanting around the country seemed a little irresponsibly indulgent... well... everyone is allowed their opinion ;)  

Josh's oldest sister, Sarah, lives in Brooklyn, NY with Pahu and their daughter Calliope and when Josh saw a great deal on a direct flight we jumped at the opportunity for a no frills family visit.  I have been to upstate NY and to visit Melanie in Buffalo, but have yet to get anywhere close to Manhattan until now!  Brooklyn reminds me of Oakland, just a subway ride away from the fancy big city, it has a lot of culture and fun with just a bit more of a chill vibe.  We arrived on their doorstep Friday morning (after a red eye it was about 4am our time) just as the family was finishing up breakfast and heading out the door to work and school.  Josh and I opted for a nap. Rolling out the door a few hours later, Josh and I decided to stroll the neighborhood for lunch, then went to Josh's favorite pub the nearby Moe's.  A nice chill afternoon and then met Sarah and Calliope for dinner.  The next morning Josh and I took Calliope out for coffee so Mom and Dad could have a lazy morning in peace.  Calliope was essential in helping us find good coffee - she has a fantastic memory and remembered her Dad had said it was the good coffee place.  SF's Blue Bottle in Brooklyn, woo woo!  She also took us to a bookstore and introduced me to the cutest children's books "Fancy Nancy" - love them!  It was then time to head to the nearby park for Calliope's May Fair Day festivities.  Check out the perfect little linen dress she's wearing?  Thank you Aunt Shelby ;)  (picked up  the dress at the market stores in San Antonio).   They made flower wreath head bands and each grade sang a different song and danced around the May Fair Pole celebrating Spring.

That evening the neighbors took Calliope with them to the museum and dinner so Pahu and Sarah could have a night out with us!  It was so funny... as we headed out the door, Pahu said he needed to take their dog Scarlet down with us real quick and he'd run her back up.  As we all walked down the steps into the street, Sarah darted across the street and from behind a car waved frantically for us to follow.  Looking down the block we saw the neighbors walking back with the kiddos and heard "oh hey kids! Look up there, what's that!?" LOL!  Parent to parent hook up, we hid with no shame as it would be an event to run into Calliope and explain we were off to have fun without her.

Sunday we all went to Central Park!  Every other day we were in NY it was overcast, a little cool and sometimes misting, but Sunday was a sunny, blue skies, perfect temp day!
 Starting at Columbus Circle , we strolled about, got hot dogs from a park vendor and plopped in the huge grassy field with about 1,000 other like minded folks.  After that break, we headed over to the carousel, saw the famous Bethesda fountain, stopped for a cocktail at the Boat House (my favorite part), climbed around on the Alice in Wonderland statue and got ice cream.
Josh and I parted the family and wound our way back to the west side and stopped for a beer and to rest our feet.  As we got on the subway Josh realized we were only one stop away from Time Square and suggested we hop off and go see it since it was my first visit to NYC.  I have to say... how disappointing.  LOL.  I'm not shocked really.  It seems the more you travel you experience the sites that have been glorified by movies.  Sometimes they are still, if not more, amazing and an example for me would be having seen the Eiffel Tower twinkle up at night, it's better in person.  Time Square is very small, very garish with consumerism slapping you in the face left and right and feels like a dead end where you witness tourists milling around looking a bit hypnotized.  It was on the life list to see and of course I am grateful to have had the chance!

Calliope's May Fair Day & Central Park
Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge to NYC
 Monday the gang had to go to school and work respectively so Josh and I were on our own.  On my to-do list was to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.   I highly recommend, but it may not be as fun for most people.  I liked using the historic bridge to get from Brooklyn into the city for an afternoon, it was on the list of things movies didn't ruin for me :)
As we walked I was happy that at a non commute time the bridge wasn't all that crowded so photo ops at the different views of the city weren't making us annoying tourists.  Poor Josh who hates looking like any version of a tourist is such a trooper because he knows how much I love photos!  I mean I do my best not to be a loathsome tourist and I don't love looking like one, but I'm not going to miss out on my photo memories just because I'm embarrassed to admit that I am just visiting your cool city.
 As we entered the city we just strolled about ending up on the financial district side, happened upon the WTC site and decided not to stand in the very long line to get ID'd just to get in the other line to go through the construction site to see the waterfall monument.  I saw a photo of it and it looks really beautiful, but I am taking my chances I'll visit NYC again when maybe it's an open city landscape and see it then.   We walked by the wall street bull - did anyone else thing that it was in the middle of a plaza of skyscrapers or at least in an open area in front of a skyscraper?  Darn movies... I swear they make it look that way.  Anyway it surprised me that it was on a median in the middle of the street.   Josh had the great idea to take the Staten Island Ferry to get a closer glimpse of the Statue of Liberty since it was free!  On the walk there through Battery Park, we saw the immigrant statue and The Sphere Monument which originally was a sculpture by the WTC (I thought it was moving).

High Line Park and then stopped for recommended cupcakes!
Tuesday afternoon Josh and I went back into NYC and walked the High Line, a 1 mile park built on an old part of an elevated railroad.  It was really cool and I loved the repurposing and beautification of it all.  At the end of the track we were planning on going down to street level and walking another mile to a cupcake place Pahu recommended, but we were forced to go all the way back to the beginning of the rail line to use the bathroom, which had us 2 miles from the cupcakes.  I'm not sure why we opted to walk and not hop back on the subway... I personally enjoyed walking the streets of New York, but Josh had a mission and was walking too fast so I blame him for my sore feet!  I was rewarded with a pretty good cupcake so I guess I can't complain too much (Cupcake Cafe).

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
After cupcakes we headed over to SoHo for some browsing.  You have to venture off the main strip in SoHo and go down the smaller streets to find unique shops.  The main strip has all the stores in major city has so it's unless you just want to say you went shopping in SoHo, even though it was at Bebe or Banana, quickly get off that main street.  We didn't really have the spending power to be shopping anywhere, but I enjoyed popping into a few unique shops then relaxing at a neighborhood pub.  Josh and I headed back to Brooklyn to meet Pahu, Sarah and Calliope at the Botanic Gardens.  The flowers were just brilliant and really popped under the grey, gloomy sky.  I was a little disappointed we missed the cherry blossoms by a few weeks, but it seemed everything else was in bloom.  We stopped for a snack at the cafe in the park, apparently the whole reason Calliope loves the gardens.  If you ever go, they really do have quality food and nice healthy options, I'm with Calliope ;)

That night was our last night so Sarah & Pahu stayed up as late as they could.  We would be getting a car in the wee hours of the morning before they would even be up.  It was such a great visit!!  I feel like I got to see and do so much all for free, yay!  My favorite thing was definitely getting to know Josh's family better and I know I'll get to visit again.

THANKS SARAH, PAJU & CALLIOPE for hosting us and making our visit so nice!
Chillin' at Sarah & Pahu's 

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Josh visits Texas!
April 2012

First, we had my Mom's visit which was very fun.  She had her own room and bathroom at my house (Finally, Yay!) and we had a few fun days in Oakland with Josh and I showing her around and enjoying some of our local amazing eats.  Then Mom and I drove up to Calistoga for wine tasting, dining, shopping and our main purpose, the zen experience known as the volcanic mud baths at Indian Springs Resort.  LOVE.  My second favorite thing about that place is the pre bedtime dip in the heated mineral pool... heaven.  A few posts ago I was the guest of this experience thanks to my great friend Cari Cohorn and had to share with my Mom for an early birthday celebration.

Unfortunately the fun had a small kink as we came back to Oakland, I severely threw out my back on the way in the front door.  This has been my problem for years :(  That night I could barely pack my things as Josh and I had scheduled to be on the same flight back to Austin with my Mom the next day.  I could not be more thankful that it was all 3 of us going to the airport since I could not even carry my purse I was in so much pain!   We got there nice and early since we had no idea how long it would take me to shuffle about and after a giant long island iced tea and a muscle relaxer, I was on the plane and watching a movie with Josh feelin Pretty Good.

We did so much.  I feel bad that there was so much driving and going going going... but I only go home once a year and typically at Christmas to just hang with family,  I had so much regular fun stuff I wanted Josh to see and do and more importantly, eat!  Trey took several days off work to join in our visit, it was the sweetest thing and we had a lot of fun together.  I gave Josh the driving tour of my hometown, Round Rock and we stopped by to visit my childhood neighbor and long time friend, Mr. Born who still lives in the house right behind my old one.  In Austin we took Josh to stand in line at 9:30am for Franklin's BBQ - he understands my judgemental nature towards anything referred to as BBQ now.  We showed him downtown, the capital, a little bit of the UT campus, then Trey & I met up with friends for my favorite Tex-Mex at Guerro's and then out for some drinks on 4th street ending up on a rooftop lounge til nearly 2am, it was a perfect Austin night!

Our last day with Mom, Auntie Elaine joined us for a day in Gruene, where we started off with margaritas at the Grist Mill under the shade trees (that was very difficult to move on from) and then hit the big antique store after which we all had to pee so of course we hopped over to the wine shop to graciously taste wine and buy more drinks in order to use their facilities and finished those out under the shade trees as well.  Seriously, this is vacation.  After putzing around some other stores, we headed over to New Braunfels to have dinner at Huisache.  I was very disappointed and a little embarrassed, since I think everyone would have loved to go back and eat at the Grist Mill but I insisted on my all time fave Huisache.   I'll just say... I cannot believe they changed/modified their flan.  wtf.  There were other disappointments as well, but that says it all for me.  I don't think I can go back. :(
Trey took Josh and I on to Boerne from there and Elaine joined Mom for the drive back to Austin.  We had a great time staying at Trey's place, watching Friday Night Lights for the first time and drinking and talking on his patio and met a few of his friends, it was really nice.  The next day we went into San Antonio starting with a quick visit to see my dear friend Allison and her new baby girl Olivia!  It was just warm enough to feel like we were in Texas but it was still not "hot" so this was a perfect River Walk tour day, lunch outdoors at La Margarita day and oops I didn't know the Alamo closed so early so my boyfriend didn't get to go inside day.  Such a bad girlfriend!  I didn't realize he'd be so bummed since I think the inside is kinda boring :(.  

The next day we had coffee and checked out the wine tasting room (it's never too early, vacation!), some of the cool shops in town and enjoyed one of Trey's favorite drinking holes (over 100 beers on tap, nice) then Trey drove us to San Marcos to meet up with Dad & Donna.

We said goodbye to Trey and headed on to Flatonia where we showed Josh the awesome country sites: Smithville - Dad's birth place, home of the movies Hope Floats and Tree of Life, Shiner TX - home of yummy beer, Luling - the BEST BBQ in my humble opinion and Josh with his limited taste test did agree and of course the best spring of wild flowers I'd ever known!

Wow, seriously good job Texas on the first impression for Josh!  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hawaii - Big Island
November 2011

I can't believe of all my pictures, I didn't get one of Josh and I with our friends Jerry and Bev!!   Josh has known Jerry since he was like 19 or something and Beverly is originally from Alaska and they live in Hawaii on the Big Island in Kona.  Lucky for Josh and I to have an awesome and free place to stay in paradise!  We snorkeled, putted around, hung out with cocktails and friends, took a drive around the island... it was perfectly relaxing.  Here are a few pictures:  (ask me about the terrifying snorkel moment, it's kinda funny but it still gets my heart racing!)