San Franciscan Santa

I thought it would be a nice test of your readership to take a two week reprieve from blogging. Hopefully you continued to stalk my homepage in anticipation.

I spent 10 days in California with my family for Christmas. I had a few leisurely days to sleep in, take yoga classes, read two books, Christmas shop, and spend time with my grandma and mom before the rest of the family arrived. With the whole clan together, red wine began to flow, the Christmas tree lit up, cars were crammed full, and seven too many chefs were in the kitchen. But it was great.

I’ll let my iPhotos illustrate the highlights of my holiday. There were numerous uncaptured rainy days, hilly runs, sea salted caramels, warm fires, and Mark Twain readings in between.



Meditation trip my my momma

Meditation trip my my momma

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Courtesy of my brother

Courtesy of my brother

Courtesy of my brother

Courtesy of my brother

Courtesy of my brother

Courtesy of my brother

My mom and I ventured through the windy roads and sandy shores of Marin to reach the Green Gulch Zen Center. We spent a day and night in at my mom’s old haunt where she use to stay as a student–meditating, cooking, gardening, earning her keep, etc. It was a beautiful and rainy escape from chaos, cell phones, and the everyday stressors; instead, we mediated in silence early morning, read to our heart’s content, bundled up in our lodging, and indulged in vegan/vegetarian fare. A treat indeed. I would love to escape for a longer period here and really experience a transformation from an environment like this.

And happy birthday to my mom today!! No idea how old you are still 🙂





Starbucks does juice in Cali :)

Starbucks does juice in Cali 🙂

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What is Christmas without handmade cards??

What is Christmas without handmade cards??

What is it?

What is it?

Ma gets an iPad!!!

Ma gets an iPad!!!

What a blessing it was to be with all my family and enjoy such a wonderful holiday together. It’s hard being back at work again without all these smiling faces, spiked egg nog, and relaxing afternoons I experienced over vacation.


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It’s difficult to express the beauty of the rolling vineyards, barrels of wine, and baguettes upon baguettes of rustic bread at your finger tips in Napa Valley. We spent a day and night in the wine country, exploring the towns, restaurants, and vineyards to our heart’s content. Four vineyard tastings in one afternoon can make for an interesting night ha. My sight, smell, and taste were stimulated throughout the trip–so much to gaze at, imbibe, and savor.


I feel like a kid again, ready for Christmas to be back. 352 days to go….

The California Ten

It’s such a familiar scent. The eucalyptus trees , the blazing furnace, the polished silver, the decanted wine. A warm nostalgia floods me when I walk through the familiar doors on King Avenue. I’ve sat under the tree opening tiger rockers, beanie babies, curling irons, university sweatshirts, and cook books over the years. The view lying under the Christmas tree looks very different than it use to–the branches less enveloping, the tree top not as daunting, the lights a little less blinding. But nonetheless, my holidays spent in this house are still as exciting and blessed. Home sweet home at my grandmother’s.


Let’s talk about the ten elements of my California day:

10: The number of minutes until boarding when I finally arrived at my gate to San Francisco. Dulles Airport is an adventure during the holidays, even on a Tuesday night

9: Scallops were prepared by the boyfriend for my last meal in DC. We chefed seared scallops in pesto, cauliflower mash, mustard green beens, and tomatoes with pesto. And wine of course. An epic meal

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8: The number of degrees warmer my room at my grandmother’s should be. Eight or 15 give or take. Survived the night with a few dozen blankets

7: Beautiful faces walking to elementary school together. Smiles, waves, and bundled up coats in the 36 degree morning dew

6: Miles around the California hills this morning


5: Varieties of nuts, I’m snacking on as I write this. Almonds, pistachios, and cashews have a special place in my mouth heart


4: Magazines I poured over while in my bubble bath, after my run and before our Christmas shopping extravaganza. Caught up on my travel and food magazines

3: Cans of pumpkin for some imminent pumpkin chocolate chip cookie baking. It’s happening. Sugar cookies, poached pears, and maybe a Bouche de Noel attempt


2: Neighborhoods we drove through to view the Christmas spirit this year. It’s still early, so there’s time for more creative designs to come up and the color lights to come down

1: Partridge in a pear tree. Bra short of a perfect packed bag. I was so close but I guess a shopping trip is in store for me


What was your day like?



Fact: It’s Friday


Fact: I have an addiction to Kombucha. I crave the refreshing carbonation and it’s “healthy” placebo effects. I’ve been chugging these and going broke



Fact: I have 2.5 days of work before CHRISTMAS VACATION. My holidays don’t rollover to 2013, so I’m taking off eight days in December


Fact: When a foodie and an architect (along with a lot of wine, beer, and Hershey kisses) get together on a Thursday, this happens….

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Fact: My Christmas cards have been mailed and the majority of my holiday shopping list is complete. This is a historical moment. Take note



Fact: I eat a protein pancake almost every day–topped with strawberry jam and greek yogurt. Grape jelly will never be welcome  in my house



Fact: I can barely contain my excitement at new book recommendations. I’m reading Junot Diaz’s new novel (I’ll report back) and have a overwhelming list following that completion. Eeeeeeeeeee


Fact: We did the tree lights TWICE this year, since some male in my family started with the light plug at the top of the tree. Note to all: use the outlet side



Fact: I will be in Northern California in four days. If anything brings out the crunchy granola in my, it’s the Berkley/San Francisco culture. Let the wine, local produce,  farm to table restaurants, cookie baking, grandma time, and yoga ensue


What are your facts?