Bay Area Entertainment Suggestions

August 22, 2012 By: Jenna Category: Uncategorized

Hiiii! We’re still in Poland. Here is T1 doing what he loves most, playing in my in-law’s backyard.

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Here is Krakow:

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All of the family members here keep saying “Your time here is so short, too short.” I hope they will come visit us in California soon, now that we have the space to host them!

When I announced we were moving to Chicago two years ago, you guys flooded me with suggestions regarding what to do and see while we were there, and I loved it! If you’re headed to Chicago and would like to find ideas regarding where to eat, I have a Pinterest board devoted to places I’ve been (and a few places I wanted to go but never got to).

I logged in to Facebook this morning and noticed a friend had asked what to see/eat/do in San Francisco which led to lots of fabulous suggestions. Do you have any suggestions for me? Now that we have more disposable income and T1 is a little bit older we are looking forward to exploring a bit more. Also we haven’t been very good about making date night a regular occurrence and I am committed to making sure that changes from here on out!

Although I’m sure most people know and love San Francisco the best (and I’m sure we will make some trips up there!) we’re living closer to Stanford and suggestions related to the Palo Alto area would be much appreciated. Or Berkeley or San Jose if it’s something we absolutely can’t miss.

If you have a whole books worth of ideas and would like to get specific, here are the type of suggestions that fit our current lifestyle:

Family outings appropriate for children under 5

Weekend half-day trips for the whole family

Inexpensive (and delicious!) restaurants in the Palo Alto area where I can take friends and family when they come stay with us, or for meeting up with people in the area

Unique restaurants for date night (they don’t have to all be expensive, though French Laundry and Chez Panisse are already on my list!)

Date night ideas (particularly free ones in the Peninsula area of the Bay)

Activities and places to take guests (with/without kid(s) )

Any and all restaurants (and why you loved them) because I love bookmarking possibilities and looking at menus!

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Next week we are going to have a few days together before TH starts work and I want to do something fun before he gets really busy. I’m thinking a day trip down to Santa Cruz (it’s about n hour from where we live) could work. Is there another beach town you would suggest instead? Or something else a sick pregnant lady can handle?

Poland 2011

May 02, 2012 By: Jenna Category: Travel

Look at how much T1 has grown in 6 months time! We were in Poland in September of 2011 and I’m writing this post in May of 2012. Prompt recaps just really aren’t my thing, you know? This is a little taste of the happiness we found in That Husband’s hometown.

My in-laws have a gorgeous backyard filled with trees and bushes that were bursting with fruit when we were there. Pears, berries, apples. We missed the mini kiwis by only a few days!



T1′s grandparents on both sides spoil him shamelessly. On this visit to Poland he found a special chair in the kitchen where he could sit and drink his milk while watching Teletubbies (in Polish of course).

A favorite from the trip!


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Lake Garda: Where We Ate

April 13, 2012 By: Jenna Category: Travel

My enthusiasm for recaps is running low, and so for my last of our Italy posts I shall copy and paste directly from my notes.

Verdi in Garda
Antipasti d’Italia (assortment of meats with pickled vegetables)
Antipasti of the lake (so so good!)
Mixed salad
Grilled trout (our favorite)
Lavarello
39 euros

Gelateria Paradice
Ricotta Miele e Noci
Fragola
Skip the cone at this place. Not only was my wafer stale, the coconut on the outside was rancid!

La Vittoria
Caprese
Ham and mozzarella
Smoked trout on a bed of greens with pink peppercorns
Lavarello
Huge portions!
45 euros

On the last day of the trip, as we drove down from Lake Garda toward Bologna, we had one last stop. I had done some searching to find the best restaurants in Italy, and it turns out that one of the best in the world is located in Modena. Osteria Francescana was the perfect way to cap off a dream vacation for us.  This place is tucked away, and has some of the best service we’ve ever had. It’s a tiny dining room with six tables, and at the beginning of our meal we almost felt like we should whisper because it was so quiet. Happily this wore off with time. The most interesting thing in the room was the young man dining all alone directly across from us. We enjoyed speculating about who he might be, and why he would be eating such an expensive and unique meal all by himself.

At first That Husband wasn’t very excited about me taking pictures, but then the people around us started photographing every course and so I felt it was appropriate to bring mine out for a few dishes.

If you want a really in-depth review of the meal, this New York Times article will tell you what you need to know. But I admit, I liked that we went into the experience not knowing much about what we were getting ourselves into. A few of the surprises that we had really delighted us. No matter what, you absolutely must have the five ages and five textures of Parmesan cheese. I think it is the most whimsical thing I’ve ever eaten.

Here are my notes:

Modern decor
Only 6 tables in the dining room
When you get up and leave your napkin, they retrieve it and take it away, and bring you a new one using tongs

Meat paste is a little strange texturally, but I appreciated the contrast with the salty bread.

Parmesan dish reigned supreme, the crunchiest was my favorite, with the creamy being the next best.

Soup was very complex, the flavors all finished one after another.

Cooked the ravioli pork until all the fat is gone, light butter sauce

The gelatinous covering on the dessert was interesting, and actually took away from the dish. Once I peeled that off it was much better.

The last course was the best!!!

Oh, and if you go, you must visit the bathroom! The doors are really cool. :)

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With our bellies full (and my heart aching to see the little one again!) we boarded a plane and headed back to Poland. This trip was everything I had been dreaming of.

Lake Garda: Where We Stayed

April 13, 2012 By: Jenna Category: Travel

As I mentioned before, our Lake Garda lodging choice was made based on the list provided me by Mrs. Carousel. Other options that caught my eye included Hotel Cortina and Miro Hotel, but the pictures on the La Vittoria website won me over in the end, combined with their offer to give me a pass to a gym/waterpark for free (I went once and got a massage that was fine, but not great).

I loved our room. It was really big, full of light, and very quiet. We didn’t have a view of the lake, but I appreciated the extra space (Carousel’s room had a view of the lake and was half the size of ours). The price was great, around $100 a night I think. It was very easy to park and unload the suitcases, and when we arrived late, without a phone call or notification, we found the owners enjoying a glass of wine while waiting for us. They welcomed us warmly and showed us quickly up to our room. I didn’t feel like the website made this clear.

There were a few drawbacks to this place. In our room, number 8, the internet was testy and very slow. We had trouble getting passes so we could use the ipad and the iphone simultaneously (because we were grounded due to injury we spent a lot of time just chilling in our room). The biggest drawback for me was how far away we had to park the car to keep it in the private lot overnight. It was nice to get the exercise (a 15-20 walk) but I was always the one who had to do it because my partner-in-crime was down for the count.

La Vittoria is located right on the main thoroughfare, and I think it’s one of the prettiest hotels in the area. I was jealous of the rooms with a balcony AND a view of the lake! Breakfast was on the patio and was my 3rd favorite out of the 4 breakfasts we had during our trip (it was actually really good by American standards, but La Torre and Aemelia were phenomenal). Farther down toward the center of town we heard bands playing, and I liked that we were far enough away that we didn’t have to listen to any of that.

If you decide that Garda is a good place for you (if you want to experience a cross between German and Italian culture this is the place to go!), La Vittoria is a lovely place to stay. The owners and staff were so kind and I hope they continue to be successful!

 

Lake Garda: What We Did

April 04, 2012 By: Jenna Category: Travel

The last stop on our Italian roadtrip was Lake Garda. An interesting choice, but one I was pushed toward via an internet friend, Mrs. Carousel from Weddingbee. Shortly after she was announced as a new writer for the site, I sent her an email asking if she’d be interested in giving me some advice regarding our trip planning. She didn’t just write back with a sentence or two, she put together a multi-page spreadsheet with itinerary, suggested budget, aguriturismo suggestions, transportation options, and more. It was hands-down one of the nicest things a complete stranger has ever done for me.

Because she loved Lake Garda so much, and because I like the idea of travelling and experiencing places that a local loves, we decided to end our trip in the town of Garda. We had plans to do a day trip to Venice, go see some ruins, do some trips around the lake on a boat, but TH’s hurt leg had us largely confined to our room and the area around the hotel.

My favorite part of this location was when I accidentally bumped into Mrs. Carousel on her wedding day! We were eating breakfast in the hotel lobby the morning after we arrived when a woman walked up and asked if I was a writer for Weddingbee. I was stunned when she told me that she was Carousel’s wedding planner and that Carousel would be arriving shortly from the hair salon. She wasn’t just staying in the same hotel, we were literally staying in rooms adjacent to each other! Somehow, the bride-to-be and I had managed to book the exact same hotel for the weekend, without even knowing it. I found out when she would be arriving, and went over to surprise her and say hello. It was so fun!

She was waiting for her mom to get there before stepping into her dress, and after we talked for a few minutes (and got over the shock of seeing each other in person!) she was kind enough to invite us to the ceremony and cocktail hour held later that afternoon. The ceremony wouldn’t work with our schedule, but I sheepishly agreed to stop by at some point, feeling a little bit like a wedding crasher. Ha!

We decided to say hello at the cocktail hour, held at a hotel that was just a few minutes drive from our place. It was located right next to one of those medevial times type places (yes, they have those in Italy as well!) and while the bride and groom were away doing portraits, we witnessed a sword fight intended to convince all of us that we simply must come over and pay a few euros to see who the victor would be (none of us were swayed).

Carousel’s dress was custom made. Why does it feel like everything is better in Europe? My SIL’s dress was custom made as well! Read more →

      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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