My mom had to go to Anaheim for a charity conference. Because her hotel was at the Anaheim conference center, which is across the street from Disneyland, my dad, sister and I invited ourselves to crash her hotel room.

It was just like old times, all four of us squeezed into one room. The room was actually surprisingly big, which is probably the only positive thing I have to say about the hotel, and we were not too over-crowded, even though there were four adults in the room.

Other than the size of the room, which as I mentioned was very good, the hotel sucked. We stayed at the Marriott Anaheim. In all other respects the hotel varied from disappointing to down right outrageous. The worst parts of the hotel were the miserably tiny pool area, then fact they wanted to charge you for EVERYTHING ($9 to use the gym for an hour or $14 to use it for one day, $3 each way for the shuttle to Disneyland, fees to get a fridge in the room, etc), the lobby was so dark it was like nighttime, miserable angry people at reception and the air conditioning controller in the room was broken so the room was always about 60 degrees.

Enough about the shitty hotel.

The vacation was great. Friday during the day my Dad and I went to the La Brea Tar Pits and in the evening we met Katy in Hermosa Beach. The tar pits are a lot more interesting than they sound. The tar is very pretty and bubbly, and the Page Museum, while small, has mammoth bones! Who doesn’t love mammoths?

In Hermosa, first we went and sat around at a rooftop bar drinking beers and enjoying the lovely view. Later we went for a short walk up and down the beach and then went to a delicious tapas restaurant for dinner.

This was the view. Not bad.


Saturday my Dad, sister and I spent the entire day at Disneyland. We were there from opening at 8AM to closing at midnight. This was also my Dad’s birthday, so he got to spend an awesome birthday at the happiest place on Earth!

He seemed to have a great time, which made Katy and I very happy. Disneyland was unbelievably crowded, but Katy and I worked together and we were able to ride lots and lots of rides. Katy downloaded an app telling her the line times for different rides and which ones were open or shut-down. Using this app, she would send me to go to fast passes for the most popular rides while she and my dad hung around in shops or waited in other lines. I went alone to get the fast passes because my dad is notoriously slow and we would have wasted many good hours walking across the park just to get passes.

The fact that the app told us which rides were open and closed was an extra awesome feature. One of my dad’s favorite rides is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. When we first got to the park that ride was closed, but around mid-day the ride opened. Katy noticed this and we were able to go over there and stand in a relatively short line. The ride was only open for a few hours before it was shut down again for the remainder of the day. I strongly recommend getting the Disneyland app if you have a smart phone.

I am very happy that my Dad has such a great birthday. He was turning 66, which is a big birthday, and I love to see him happy. I am a little behind on updating and it has now been several weeks since we were there, but my dad is still talking about how great his birthday was. :)

Bay to Breakers

This weekend was Bay to Breakers (B2B). This is the world famous SF footrace. It is the oldest consistently run race, having been done every year for over 100 years. It is only 7 miles, so anyone can walk or run it.

It is not the length of the race, nor the number of years run that makes this event special. It is the city of San Francisco and the people in it. In true SF fashion, the race is less about running and more about the costume fueled seven mile party that the race becomes. The first group or two of runners are the serious running types that actually care about their times. After them come four more groups of people who couldn’t give two craps about their times, but are there to party and enjoy the company of the dressed up happy fools around them. I am part of this crowd.

This year I ran the race with my housemate Susan, Katy, Evan, Katy’s bestie Diana, Diana’s fiance John and John’s buddy/business partner Arlan. The theme for our costumes was animals, though not everyone followed this. I was a bunny, Susan was a beautiful butterfly, Katy a giraffe, Diana a white tiger and Evan a magical unicorn with tiny blue wings. Evan won for best costume in our group.

The race starts down by market street and the bay bridge. You then run up Post Street and the Hayes Street Hill. After that, the rest of the race is through Golden Gate Park and tends to have a slight downward slope until you hit Highway 1/the ocean. Overall it is not too bad, but the Hayes Street Hill is a little intense.

I love B2B. It is always great fun. However, I must say that I am pissed at SF, as every year they try to ruin this major event. A few years ago, the city said no more floats and no more alcohol. The alcohol I understand. 50,000 drunken fools can be a bit of a hazard to themselves and others. Plus, if you really need some alcohol, you just stop at one of the hundred house parties along the route.

The no floats thing is was really pisses me off. There is no reason for the city to out-law the amazing floats. Maybe they cost the city a little more to clean up, but then SF should just increase the cost of the race or charge an extra fee for floats. People would gladly pay. The floats used to be so amazing, they could put some major parades to shame. I hate that SF got rid of them and I wish they would stop being douche bags and just bring them back. Everyone misses the floats.

Rant Over.

I had a wonderful time at B2B this year. I was able to do the entire race even though I had seriously injured myself the weekend before, and the after party was even more fun. We sat drinking in the Safeway parking lot, made some random new friends, and then ended up at a hidden rave style party in Golden Gate Park. Nothing was planned and all super fun, which is my favorite kind of adventure.

Here are some photos from the day…

RunnersIMG_0359 More RunnersIMG_0361 Drinking on the Sidewalk Next to SafewayIMG_0363 Party in the ParkIMG_0365

Wine Making

Yay! Busy season is over and I can start having fun again!

For Christmas I got Joe a wine making kit and some Malbec wine juice. Due to busy season, we have been unable to make the wine until now. The kit is very good. It is from Wine Makers Depot, and has everything required to produce wine, except the grape juice.

The wine making three has stages: adding yeast to grape juice and allowing it to ferment (takes about 2 weeks), adding clearing agents to the wine and allowing it to settle (takes about two weeks), and bottling the wine and allowing it to age (takes 2 to 3 months). This week we worked on the first stage.

The most important part of wine making is sterilization. Just like with canning and beer making, if you use dirty equipment, your product will get moldy and be ruined. Most of what we did this weekend was sterilize everything. There was a tiny bit of measuring the specific gravity (measuring the ratio of your specific liquid to that of water), and a small amount of mixing yeast into grape juice, but all other time was spent sterilizing. While sterilizing is not super fun, all the measuring and recording of information made it feel like high school chemistry class, which was enjoyable.

Some photos from the day..


After busy season, I went out of town to Dallas for my cousin’s grandfather’s 90th birthday. When I got back, Joe had done all the irrigation. It was amazing. He dug all the trenches and installed all the piping. He did it all by himself, so I do not know anything about the piping or tools he used.

Go Joe! Go!



The vines are planted! The vines are planted!

Thanks to the help of some wonderful friends and family we got 47 vines planted this weekend. The planting went really well. We had one set of two guys running the single person post-hole digger (which had a good bit and worked wonderfully this time). We then had two teams of two people planting the vines, and finally one person with a bucket going around and watering the new plantings with a mixture of H2O and vitamin B12.

The B12 is important. You are supposed to let the dormant vines soak in a combination of water and B12 for 12 to 24 hours prior to planting. This wakes up the dormant plants. Once the vines are in the ground, you add the same mixture to help them establish themselves.

We used two person planting teams because there is more to getting the vines in the ground then just sticking the plant in the hole and covering it with dirt. Once the plant is in the hole, you need to add a little dirt and tap that down. Then you pull up on the plant slightly, allowing the roots to straighten; and while one person holds the plant slightly lifted, the other adds the rest of the dirt and taps it down again.

Once the plants were in the ground, we covered each one in a blue grow tube. It might not look too pretty, but the tubes should protect the plants from critters and should amplify blue light which increases beneficial photosynthetically active radiation.

My only regret from the whole day was that I did not get a group photo of all the wonderful people who helped out. It would be nice to have a picture of all the people who helped out. Even though I do not have a group picture, here are a few photos taken throughout the day.

Planting This Saturday

The vines are here! Two bags arrived this afternoon. When I ordered 50 grape vines, I expected some giant shipment. Not so. Only got two small bags each filled with 25 vines.

Tomorrow is planting day. I have suckered a number of my family and friends to come help me out. Hopefully we can get all 46 planted along the rows. The rest will be planted along the fence, but that might not happen for a little while.

This is what got delivered today. I am so excited to plant these suckers into the ground!

IMAG0463 (1) IMAG0465


As a blog designed to document my travels, this is going terribly. I will post about my wonderful trip to Hawaii soon, I promise.

As a blog documenting my attempt to plant a mini vineyard in my back yard, this blog is going swimmingly.

Last weekend Joe & I took a 1 day course on starting your own vineyard hosted by Tom of the Thomas Kruse Winery in Gilroy. It was a great class and we learned so much. My only regret is that I did not know of this class last year when we started this whole endeavor. I would have done several things differently, including possibly choosing a different support structure for my trellising. My wooden posts will still work fine, but Tom recommend a metal structure system that seems a little better. Also, it might make better use of the light in my back yard. I still like my system and I do not regret going with the wooden posts.

The two most useful  bits of knowledge I got from the class was 1. how to properly plant a 1-year old grapevine that you get from a nursery and 2. how to train and prune the vines. I have been very worried about the pruning of the vines. Grapes only grow from 1 year old wood, so you have to be very careful about the pruning of the vines in order to ensure that you get good quality and quantity fruit.

After taking this course, Joe & I feel so much more confident about our future vineyard than we did the day before. In fact, we are feeling so good that we went ahead and ordered our vines for delivery. The vines will be arriving Thursday, March 13th. Since the fear of frost is over, ends about Feb 15th in our area, we are going to plant the vines that Saturday and Sunday. We will be renting a post hole digger and calling on the kindness of friends and family to come help us plant. I am so excited I can hardly keep from jumping all around. Yay vines!!

Scuba & Other Stuffs

I am exhausted. Since mid-December I have spent almost no time at home. It started with lots of Christmas holiday activities, then Katy moved home!!!! and now life has just continued with the constant fun. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but I could use a good night at home. This is not going to happen, but a girl can dream. For example, in the last 12 days, I have spent one night at home. Having so much fun is exhausting.

One of the fun things I did recently was go to a Shark’s game with my housemate Missy. Missy works at Fibbar’s and one of the suppliers gave the bar tickets to their private box. Missy took me as her hot date and it was AWESOME. I had been in a SJ box once before when I was in high school and through friends of friends scored free tickets to a ZZ-Top concert. That was fun; this was better. The supplier treated everyone to tons of food and alcohol. Plus the Sharks won! It is what I consider a perfect evening.

I am going to another Sharks game tonight (my own season ticket package). My littlest cousin Austin (he is 6’5″) is driving all the way from Tahoe to join me. This will be his first hockey game. I hope he loves it.

Last week I also went to SF for Diana’s birthday. It was a group of 7 of us (all girls) and we went to Lolinda, and Argentinian steak house. The food was great but the best part was the rooftop bar. Our dinner reservation was for 8PM, but we all arrived early to drink and enjoy the view from the fabulous rooftop bar. This has been a very dry and warm winter in CA (sucks to be in the rest of the country which has been having coldest winters on record), and we were able to enjoy the beautiful night with just a light jacket. The whole evening was so great that Katy and I lost track of time and ended up missing our BART/train connection. Joe, being too good for me, agreed to drive all the way from Sunnyvale to the Milbrea BART station to get us. He is too nice.

Happy Birthday Diana (in this photo we all have champagne eyes)

In addition to lots of delicious grilled meat, we also had churros and chocolate. They were delicious but I think they will forever make me slightly sad as they remind me so much of Jason. He was so enthusiastic about the churros & chocolate in Madrid, and one time even made them for Katy for her birthday. It was the nicest birthday gift, made even better by the fact that Jason did not cook and the churros he made were great! I cherish good Jason memories like that one.

Other miscellaneous fun things I have been doing is watching lots of football at Fibbar’s, going to the Rosewood Hotel for fun girl time, working out with friends and the biggest, and most time consuming activity I have been doing, is getting my PADI scuba certification. Last weekend Friday, Saturday and Sunday were spent taking scuba “class” and practicing skills in the pool. This weekend I spent the whole time in Monterrey diving in the bay. I got the certification from Pacific Scuba Divers in Sunnyvale. The experience was great, mostly due to my very cool instructor Ken.

This weekend we did two dives Saturday and Sunday; one in the morning and one in the evening. Susan took the class with me, and the weekend would have beaten us, except my wonderful Uncle Joe allowed us to spend Friday and Saturday night at his vacation home in Pacific Grove. Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU Uncle Joe. Had it not been for the luxury of getting to sleep at the PG house, we would have had to get up at 6 each morning to drive our asses out to Monterrey, and then drive home all exhausted. I am sure we would have crashed the car.

Diving in Monterrey is cold but totally worth it. We saw the following creatures, plus many more which I can not remember right now: diving birds under the water, sea stars, sea cucumber, octopus, purple colored rock fish, jellyfish, sand dollars, little hermit crabs, some other kind of giant crab… We also saw seals, but those were not in the water with us. I didn’t get to see any sea otters, but hopefully next time.

Staying in PG was also great in itself. It felt like a mini-vaycay. Uncle Joe’s house is lovely and it is walking distance to many tasty restaurants. The restaurants are pricey, but the area is a little touristy, so that is expected. In addition to great food and diving, we also went to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. The Monarchs spend the winter in two main areas, Mexico and the CA coastline. PG has a grove where thousands of butterflies hang out from around October through February. I had never been to the Butterfly Sanctuary and had always wanted to go, so getting to see it made my weekend extra special.

Example of Monarch Butterfly Cluster


My super smart and thoughtful sister gave my dad and her fiancé Evan tickets to the Thanksgiving Day Cowboys football game for their birthdays this year. My dad turned 65 and Evan 30, so this was a great gift to honor such big milestones. In addition, she asked all my family members if they wanted to join, and in the end she got a total of 12 people saying yes! Well, it is now Thanksgiving and we are all in Texas.

My family and I flew down to Big D on Tuesday. That night we stayed at Stanis’ (mom’s sister), and Katy and Evan showed up a few hours later. They are on month number 5 of vacation and have spent the last 2.5 months driving around the US. It was great to see them. I miss Katy so much. They have one more month of travel and then will end up back in Palo Alto for good.

That first night we just hung out at Stanis’ for an easy evening. There were 14 of us: me, my parents, Katy and Evan, Stanis and Uncle Bob, cousin Duffy her husband Shann and their two kids, and my cousin Robby and his two girls. It was lots of people and lots of fun.

Wednesday we took the morning easy. In the afternoon we drove to Denton. We got lunch at the Smiling Moose Deli. It is a chain but very tasty. I would have preferred going to a local place, but this was still very good.

After lunch we went to the cute little Denton town square. It looks like a perfect old timey town square out of a movie, and it is where Evers Hardware, my family’s 100+ year old hardware store, was. The hardware store has been gone for several years now, but we still have the awesome old building. My aunt Celia gave us a tour of the area and we ended at a new tequila bar that was recently installed in our old warehouse behind the Evers Hard IMG_0195

Evers Hardware – Then & Now

After our tour of down town Denton, we went back to Celia’s house. My mom and the rest of her side of the family eventually showed up and Uncle Mike bbqed cheeseburgers for everyone. Since we had lunch at 3, I was not hungry so I ust nibbled on some baked beans and drank a few beers. After dinner there was lots of chatting and we played Left, Right, Center and the adults played Cards Against Humanity. I love that game but playing with your parents is uncomfortable. My dad is a good guy but still, having to say things like smegma and jizz in front of him leaves me feeling like a horrible person.

We ended the night early and everyone was in bed by 11 because the next day was Thanksgiving and Cowboys Football!!!

Thursday morning we got going early. Showered, breakfasted, packed pick-necking supplies and were on the road by 10. We left early because we were afraid that all the tailgating spots would be filled. Our concerns turned out to be baseless. When we arrived in Arlington, there was hardly anyone there. It was also 5 hours until kickoff, so that might have had something to do with the empty parking lots.

For the next several hours we tailgated: drinking beer, eating deviled eggs and sandwiches and enjoying watching the parade of dressed up Cowboys and Raider fans pass by. It was chilly but Evan made delicious homemade cider and spiked it with Everclear, so that kept us warm.


 Dad Hanging Out Tailgating

After we were fed, we went into the stadium. It was quite the party. Dallas Cowboys Stadium looks like a spaceship and is as impressive as it is hyped up to be. Silver and shiny and housing the worlds largest flat screen tv, it is big and flashy just like you expect a Texas monument to be.


Katy & I In Front of Jerry Town


Cowboy’s Superbowl Win Pennants


Dad & Katy at Cowboys Game


World’s Biggest TV – it is HUGE

Before the game, my dad and I enjoyed a Fletcher’s Corn Dog. These are the original hot dog on a sticks, invented at the state fair of Texas. It was tasty and way over priced, to be expected of stadium food, and made my dad very happy.

The football game was great fun. It started off looking like the Cowboys were going to go down in flames; they fumbled the kickoff and the Raiders scored (thus we were down by 7 points within 3 to 5 seconds into the game). It was pathetic. The Cowboys managed to score and then the Raiders scored twice more, giving them a 14 point lead. Then right before halftime the Cowboys had an excellent drive down the field, allowing them to score and bringing with difference within one touchdown.

The half time show was a performance by someone called Selena Gomez. I believe she is a teen pop star. We had no interest in the show and spent half time walking around and buying over priced beers.

The second half of the game was very exciting. The Boys managed to take the lead and hold onto it. Woohoo! A Cowboys win and a happy Thanksgiving for all.

Friday, while the rest of the crazy world was out fighting each other over Black Friday deals on toasters and flat screen TVs, my family enjoyed a nice relaxing day at home and a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner together. During the day we hung out, watched football, exercised and decorated ginger bread men. I managed to turn my gingerbread man into a bunny. Then in the evening we are ourselves stupid.


There were 18 of us and we ate delicious turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing (my favorite), rolls and pie (my other favorite). We all toasted Katy for being so smart and getting us all together, and my mom and Stanis for making great food. It was me, Mom, Dad, Katy, Evan, aunt Celia, Austin, Duffy & her family, Stanis & Bob and Robby and his family. I loved getting to spend time with everyone and it made me so happy and content.

Saturday Dad, Kate, Evan and I went out to see my dad’s buddy Mario and Mario’s wife Jenny. They live in Vally Mills, which is close the Waco, and they are the nicest, happiest people I have ever met. They don’t have much, but they are always willing to share a smile, laugh and anything else with everyone they meet.

Vally Mills is way out in the boonies. The ranch is a great place to go and relax and is made extra super cool because it is covered in 35+ million year old fossils. You just walk around and can pick fossilized sea creatures off the ground. If you are really lucky, you can also find old Comanche arrow heads. I am a cheap bastard and have decided that everyone is getting free dusty old sea creature shaped rocks for Christmas.


 View From Mario’s Deck

We spent the afternoon waking around fossil hunting and the evening eating BBQ, drinking beer and hanging around a bonfire. Mario is so funny and has an endless amount of hilarious stories about my dad. I loved just hanging out.

Sunday morning Jenny made a giant breakfast spread and we once again stuffed ourselves stupid. I am going to come home with an extra 20 pounds. Not sexy, but I have enjoyed every meal that contributed to it.

After brunch there was more fossil hunting and football watching until it was time to return to Big D.

Sunday night a large group of us went to El Fenix for dinner. I do not like Tex-Mex, so the food I can rate as mediocre at best, but the restaurant gives you unlimited delicious chips & salsa and tortillas. I am normally not a huge fan of chips, but the El Fenix tortilla chips are amazing. I had the taco salad for dinner. There was too much sour creme and I asked for the dressing on the side, which they did not do, so the salad was a little gross. I have had worse though.

That about sums it up for my Texas vacation. On Monday I flew home, but nothing exciting happened there. I really enjoyed my time down in Texas and I can’t wait to get back there.