Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cali Trip, Part Two

On Thursday Ken and I headed off on our own again, this time to hike in Muir Woods. It was a little chilly in the forest, surrounded by immense trees with little sunlight peeking through the dense canopy. We walked the trails for just over an hour, drove down to check out Muir Beach (cold and not very exciting), then stopped off at the Pelican Inn (upon Debbie and Paul’s recommendation) for pre-lunch drinks. The inn looks like it was plucked right out of England! So cute.

cali4 Muir Woods

The Pelican Inn  The Pelican Inn

After drinks at the inn, we drove to Sausalito for lunch. We both were in agreement for where to go: Horizons, the restaurant on the water where Paul and Debbie took us 7 years ago and the place where we first tried mussels. They did not disappoint us this time, either! Not nearly as rich as the dish we love at Martinique in NOLA, but very fresh-tasting and delicious. It was an absolutely gorgeous afternoon, so we walked around town a bit after our fabulous lunch. Then we went back to the house to meet up with Debbie and the kids, got right back in the car, and headed out to the boys’ t-ball game. While they had fun running around in the dirt, the adults enjoyed beers and tacos from Cactus in the outfield!

IMG_8956Fantastic food with a breathtaking view: we sat next to each on a bench right by the water.

cali5 T-ball time

Friday was our last full day in Cali. We decided to take the kids to the new California Academy of Sciences museum in San Francisco. The place is huge with so much to see, and it was a little crowded, but we managed to get in a good couple of hours there. My favorite part was the top floor of the rainforest exhibit, where lots of butterflies are freely flying around. So cool! We even got to go on the “living roof.” Check out the pics below.



After the museum, we walked around San Francisco for the rest of the afternoon, including visiting one of my favorite places in the city: Ghirardelli Square. We of course had to get ice cream, and it did not disappoint. We had our treat on the grassy area in front of the square overlooking the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge and decided to take said bridge back to the house so I could get some pics.

cali7 cali8 

We had a quiet night at home, a relaxing next morning, and all of a sudden it was time to leave. But we managed to squeeze in one last picnic on the Embarcadero before we had to go to the airport and tell them goodbye. Thanks for everything, you guys; we had an incredibly fantastic time spending the week with you!


When can we come back??? :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cali Trip, Part One

Kenny and I returned to New Orleans just before 1am on Sunday morning, and as soon as we stepped off the plane, we wondered when we could go back to the MUCH nicer weather! It really was a great trip; we had so much fun hanging out with our 4 CA relatives. We had a quiet night at their house on Monday night, celebrating Paul's birthday with Indian take-out for dinner and carrot cake for dessert. Both were surprisingly good!

Happy Birthday, Paul!

The next day Ken and I took off on our own to explore Half Moon Bay, CA, which is about an hour's drive away from Berkeley. It's a cute, small beach town. We hiked along the coast near the gorgeous Ritz Carlton resort, then headed to Barbara's Fishtrap for a yummy lunch of fish and chips. And, lo and behold, right across the street from our lunch spot was Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. Perfect! The beer was pretty tasty, and there were lots of different kinds to try.

Gorgeous flowers in front of the Ritz

Hiking, lunch, and beers

We stopped at a roadside produce stand on our way back to the house to pick up some fresh mangos (my new addiction these days) and strawberries and fresh potatoes and asparagus to contribute to the salmon Debbie had planned to bake for dinner. Delicious!

Wednesday we visited the Marine Mammal Center in Marin, and I have decided that I could be very happy working there. It is such a cool facility, and I even got to see a live necropsy on a sea lion. Not the greatest thing to watch, but of course I was interested and had to drag myself away to catch up with everyone else!

The Marine Mammal Center

After the Center, we tried to walk up to the Point Bonita Lighthouse, but it turned out it's only open to the public on weekends. Bummer. Instead we found a place for a chilly picnic lunch, and then headed to the really cute town of Mill Valley to window shop. We were fairly tired after our long day out, so we decided to forgo cooking and opted to try another brewery for dinner. This one is in downtown Berkeley, called Jupiter. Great atmosphere, great pizza, and great beer! What more could we ask for? :)

Beautiful views of the coast, but no visible lighthouse!

Picnic lunch near Point Bonita

Walking around Mill Valley

I'll post more on our last few days another night. Time to make dinner!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Greetings from Not-So-Sunny-But-Rather-Chilly California!

Kenny and I have reached the end of our third day in California with his sister and her family. We've been having lots of fun, and I have been taking loads of pictures, some of which I will post when I have more time to devote to a proper write-up of our trip. For now, I'll just provide tidbits of what we've done so far: two picnic lunches, two breweries visited, a hike along the coastline with another among the nearby redwoods to come tomorrow, lots of window-shopping, nightly games of UNO, and a visit to the Marine Mammal Center. We unfortunately haven't seen much of Paul since he's had to work, but we've been having tons of fun with Debbie, Nicholas and James! More later. :)

Day One: picnic lunch outside on Debbie's deck

Day Three: Marine Mammal Center visit

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Night Out

I stopped at the theater on my way home from work on Thursday to buy tickets so we could be assured of seeing Harry Potter 6 that night. Kenny and I arrived almost a half hour early so we wouldn't be stuck sitting in the front row. No need! Lafayette, Louisiana is not that big of a city, which was evidenced by the two of us being the first people in the theater. Oh, well! Better safe than sorry.

The movie was very good, well-done like the others. I probably should have skimmed the book before seeing it, though. I'm sure there were lots of little plotlines left out that I just don't remember since I haven't read the book in awhile. And at a few points throughout the movie, I was left wanting just a little bit more meat to the story. But Rowling packed so much into the novels that the movies would be 6 hours long if the filmmakers did so! However, I bet many fans would not mind a HP movie of that length, provided that built-in bathroom breaks were included in the screenings.

Ultimately, I enjoyed the latest installment. There were some incredible effects, and the scenes focused on the students' raging hormones were hysterical. But unlike the other movies, the end of this one left me wanting to jump right into the next one. I always knew the story would eventually be continued at the end of the first five, but all of those were wrapped up neatly enough to satisfy me for the meantime. Not so in this one! And we'll have to wait over a year until the first part of the final movie is released: it is currently set to come out on November 19, 2010.

As a side note, I just finished watching the ABC special "J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life" ( Her story is an incredible one, and it was interesting to hear her discuss her past, her fame, and how much her personal life influenced her HP writing. She seems to have maintained a hold on a very down-to-earth personality, despite her renowned status and all that she's been through. I look forward to her next project (which she cryptically refers to as a "political fairytale") being published!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Harry Potter 6


The next movie in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, opens tomorrow! After a very long wait since the fifth movie came out, we will finally see the sixth installment come to life on the big screen. I went with some friends to a midnight showing of Phoenix, but I am not planning on doing that again. I was really excited to see it, but I actually started to fall asleep since it was so late! My wonderful husband has agreed to take me to see Prince on Thursday evening after work, so keep your fingers crossed the theater isn’t too swamped with diehard HP fans!

Two Weddings and a Get-Together

Last weekend Kenny and I were in New Orleans again. We had two weddings to attend on Friday night, one for a high school friend of his (Keith) and one for a family friend of mine (Karen). They just had to be on the same night! We went to Keith’s ceremony and part of his reception in Metairie first, then we headed downtown to the Westin for the end of Karen’s reception. Both were lots of fun; congrats to the two newly married couples!

IMG_8628 IMG_8637 

Kenny and I were going to head back to Lafayette on Saturday, but Reyna ended up coming into town with Natalya, and she wanted to see everyone. So a few of us got together for an impromptu visit on Saturday evening. I think there were almost as many kids as there were adults! Man, we’re getting old.

 IMG_8642 IMG_8646 IMG_8650

So we didn’t get back home until Sunday afternoon. Ken immediately headed outside to give the grass a much needed cut, while I put things away from the weekend and assembled homemade pizzas for dinner. We ended up coming home with more than we originally brought, but no complaining here: I got two purple glass hurricanes (with candles) and a red decorative ceramic pot from my mom. Score!


Now we’re in the middle of getting through a relatively easy week at work, and then we’re off to California! Can’t wait!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Windows Live Writer….thanks, Suzanne!

Suzanne recently wrote about using Live Writer to post pictures to her blog, so I thought I’d check it out myself. So far it seems like a pretty easy-to-use program! Let’s see how pictures look:

I think I like it! That was always one of my main problems with Blogger…..the limitation on how to post pictures. Live Writer offers lots more options, which is fabulous! I’m going to have fun playing around with all of the features.

I also found a new template/background for my blog….hope you all like it!

Hard Work and Good Eats

Despite the blazing hot temperatures we had to battle the past two days, Kenny and I managed to just about finish in the front gardens. We took a trip out to a local nursery this morning to purchase our color (we settled on vincas) and swung by Home Depot to get more mulch, fertilizer, and supplies for soaker hoses for both beds. Such an expensive weekend for not going anywhere! The finished product looks great, though, so our efforts seem to have paid off. We have two more small sections on either side of the walkway to fill in with something else, but other than that, we're done!

We worked hard this holiday weekend, and we also ate very well. My co-worker Gabrielle raises sheep on her farm, and she very generously gave me a pound and a half of ground lamb to use in a Rachael Ray recipe I found recently. I made pasta with lamb and cherry tomato ragu ( on Friday night, and it was delicious! Then Kenny smoked ribs and grilled zucchini and corn on Saturday night. He even made dessert: creme brulee. Yum!

Pasta with lamb and cherry tomato ragu

So after working our tails off in the gardens, it's back to the daily grind at our jobs tomorrow. Can't hardly wait! We do have something to look forward to, though: our trip to California to visit Ken's sister in two weeks!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Yay for Holidays!

It's always nice to have a weekday off from work, right? While I did enjoy getting to sleep in until 9:30, the rest of the day we were actually pretty busy doing things around the house. Kenny and I decided not to go anywhere for the 4th, instead of opting to stay home and work in our gardens. The petunias and snapdragons finally bit the dust, so we needed to find something to replace them. After much discussion and debate, Ken went out today and got two flats of caladiums, a bunch of grass edging, and lots of fresh mulch. We also wanted to put begonias in, but since our house gets full sun most of the day, they probably wouldn't have done well. So tomorrow we'll work with what we've got, and go back out to get some color if we think we need it. While Ken ran around the city visiting garden centers trying to find what we wanted, I stayed home and cleaned. Such a fun activity to do on my day off! But the house really needed it, and I did get lots done. During the dusting portion of the afternoon (proud of me, Mom?), I discovered this little guy trapped in one of the candle holders in my guest room:

I'm not quite sure what he was, but he looked a little like a leopard gecko. Don't really think that's what he was since those are naturally found in the Middle East, but he did have a neat looking pattern on him. I released him into the lantana I have potted on my front porch and hope he survives the heat!

So tomorrow we begin again outside. I hope the things Kenny bought today look good and work well in our garden! Keep your fingers crossed it all lasts until winter. :)

Garden before....stay tuned for after pics!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Junior's NOLA Wedding Reception

Our friends Jeff and Becky got married in Jamaica at the end of May, but Kenny and I unfortunately weren't able to attend. So we were glad when the newlyweds decided to hold a reception in New Orleans a month after they were officially married. The party was this past weekend at Stonebridge Country Club on the Westbank. The club is a beautiful place, and it was so nice to be able to see all of our friends again. Here are some pics from the fun night!

Becky and Jeff

Stonebridge Country Club

We were entertained by Julia for most of the night!

Kenny and me

The girls, minus Kat....where was she??

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