Monday, December 24, 2007

Lake effect...

Like an old black and white television during a snowstorm, my blog has gone into a Nature-imposed media blackout. Still, the harmless-but-beautiful pre-Christmas snow that is dampening my cell signal seems worth the sacrifice :)

Hopefully, I will be able to post a picture or two soon...but in the meantime, text will just have to do...Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Songs to make you feel good...

On my drive in this morning, two Christmas songs popped up back-to-back on my iPod. Both are personal favorites that invariably make me sing along and smile. I thought I would dig these up on YouTube and post for your holiday enjoyment.

The first is "Do They Know Its Christmas", with is message of hope for the world. Its simple and catchy, and always stirs me to try and do more.

Second is a song that Matt introduced me to a couple of years ago..."Marshmallow World"...a true Rat Pack classic with Frank and Dean. Throw-away lyrics about winter-time fun. I can't ever get this tune out of my head. (Thanks, Matt.)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Holiday buzz...

No matter how far ahead I am with holiday preparations, the procrastinator in me ALWAYS stresses with the last-minute details. Still, in the midst of it all, I wanted to share some holiday whimsy...and what is more whimsical than the army of plastic snowmen at the Cornerstone gardens. (To be honest, these plastic snowmen and penguins are a bit frightening...but that's for the therapist's couch.)

One oddity of note. I was picking up a gingerbread latte this morning from Starbucks in the Financial District. There was a guy at a table in the corner with his pet bird standing on the table eating if this was normal. Reminds me to bring my own handi-wipes to all public eateries. Ick.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A quick visit to Albuquerque... first trip in over a month...but just a quick one. A few travel irritants, but its December, and I'm in the Christmas, no rants :)

My stay at the Albuquerque Marriott was pleasant, but definitely a bit of sameness here. Lots of new development around this area, which means brand new box stores and brand new chain restaurants. Such is the mark of progress in suburbia. Still, there is a small, homey charm to Albuquerque...and the looming mountains with snow are a welcomed distraction. The freezing temps at night kept the air clean for a serene crescent moon.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A weekend on three hills...

On Saturday afternoon, Jeff and I visited with our friend Pamela and her husband John for their annual cookie decorating party...a casual afternoon painting with sugar, sipping wine, and talking with friends. The afternoon skies were brilliant, and Pamela's perch on Telegraph Hill was the perfect location to watch the Bay light up as the sun set.

After the party, we had a light dinner with our dear friend Susan near her place in Russian Hill. We snacked on flavorful sandwiches and salads, while the Hyde Street cable cars rumbled by full of boisterous holiday revelers. Susan gave us a colorful penguin ornament for our tree :)

Susan, Jeff, and I ended the evening with a festive cocktail party on Potrero Hill...with friends celebrating an anniversary, a baby birthday, and the season.

On Sunday morning, we met back up with Susan and had brunch in Russian Hill at a tiny neighborhood gem: Olea. First time's the charm...everything was amazing. Our Blue Bottle lattes were smooth and rich. My slow-roasted pork sandwich was bursting with flavors. Jeff's baked egg/tomato/bean dish was an unexpected melding of tastes and textures. And Susan's omelet was light and fluffy.

After brunch, we returned to Potrero Hill to shop at a store that Susan introduced us to...Dandelion...a locally owned store with two floors of carefully picked gifts. What an amazing weekend amongst the hills of San Francisco.

Days 13/14 photos from our last days in Europe...

These are a few seemingly unrelated shots from our final two days in Europe...Saturday and Sunday, November 3 and 4th. We start with some parting shots of our lovely apartment on the Seine.

Midway through our train ride, we stopped for about an hour in Köln...long enough to snap a photo of the imposing cathedral.

Almost all of the final shots are with family...eating, laughing, playing. Sooooo, we close the last of my Europe photos with the oft-mentioned Lego castle with Porta Nigra.

Day 12 photos from Fontainebleau...

Our last full day in Paris was Friday/Vendredi, Nov 2 (blog entry HERE), and we successfully found our way to the beautiful Chateau de Fontainebleau. The rich interiors inspired picture after sumptuous picture...each room a different fabric, or wood detail, or tapestry. Truly a visual feast.

As we were leaving the Chateau, these recurring archway images caught my eye.

Even though it was November, the grounds at Fontainebleau were impressive. The rough English garden, formal French garden, and expansive woods. A brisk carriage ride took us from corner to corner.

At dusk, we caught a train ride back to Paris into the Gare de Lyon.