Tag Archives: birthday

Central Coast Vacation

20160602_161149

Here are pictures from our recent road trip. As it included Rem’s birthday, we visited a few breweries so he could sample some beer. We drove south on Highway 101 and our first stop was at El Toro Brewing Company.  Rem tried their Ghost Chili Golden Ale, a hot, spicy beer after enjoying one on our last birthday beer road trip.

20160531_12564120160531_12564420160531_125755

They claim it is the hottest beer in the world. Rem said it was “insane” but I think he was glad to have tried it.

Speaking of insane, with Rem at Big 5 picking up new sneakers since he left his at home, I wandered through the BIGGEST craft store I’ve ever seen: Hobby Lobby.  There were aisles and aisles of different kinds of letters: metal, cardboard, acrylic, paper, etc.

20160531_132557

 

20160531_133209

A huge selection of cabinet knobs.

20160531_133039

This cool dresser:

20160531_132524

And this cute pillow and poster, not to mention a LOT more stuff. It was staggering to just try and get an idea of all the crafting supplies they carried.

20160531_132511

20160531_132906

I’ve since learned that I don’t see eye-to-eye with this company and some of their practices, so it’s just as well there’s not a store near home.

Next stop: Monterey Coast Brewing in Salinas. This is where Rem met up with a cute blonde at the bar.

13329390_10206512502706806_7300388114102794308_o

Well, to be honest, we brought her with us. This is Stella, my sister Kathleen’s long-haired dachshund. We couldn’t really bring her, so we did the next best thing and brought some cut-out photos of her, and had a great time finding new places for her to visit.

At Paso Robles, which was a toasty 103 degrees, we headed to the cool, foggy coast and our destination for the next three nights: Cambria and the lovely Olallieberry Inn, recommended by friends. The inn had a birthday special for a three-night stay: Stay over your birthday and pay the regular rate for the first two nights, and the rate for the third night is the year you were born, which in Rem’s case meant we paid $19.67.

We arrived just in time for the late afternoon wine and snacks on the deck.  An abundance of flowers in the back garden added to the charm of the inn.

20160603_094919

20160603_095022

20160604_154756

After dinner out, we fell asleep in our “Room at the Top,” with a chorus of frogs outside for a lullaby.

Rem’s birthday started with decadent French Toast Brûlée, olallieberry yogurt, homemade granola and bran muffins. I left the French toast for him to enjoy and was very happy with the rest of it. It’s a good thing, because on our drive into the hills above Cambria, we stopped at Linn’s Fruit Bin and shared a mini-ollalieberry pie. We didn’t see any olallieberries and the blackberries weren’t ripe but it was still a pretty place to visit.

20160601_112347

Stella enjoyed the scenery.

20160601_120759

20160601_120502

20160601_120313

We hung out in Harmony.

20160601_164536

It’s a tiny town, really just a few shops, a glass blowing studio and shop, and a small chapel.

20160601_164150

Back to the Inn for our evening snacks than a change of clothes before going out to dinner.  Robin’s Restaurant had been recommended by the same friends that suggested the inn, and we had a special meal, befitting the occasion. Rem chose a curried lamb dish and I had short ribs. Even though it was his birthday, he let me choose dessert and it was not difficult to decide on the Sweet Trio: strawberry sorbet, dark, dense chocolate mousse and excellent creme brûlée. We were both surprised when they brought a chocolate sundae for Rem gratis. A sweet finish for a nice birthday.

20160601_184951

The next day we drove back to Paso Robles for lunch at Firestone Walker Brewing Company in their Taproom Restaurant. It is a huge complex, much bigger than other breweries we’ve visited and they’re expanding.

20160602_132037

We did a little meandering on our way back to Cambria, stopping at a few wineries, but it was pretty hot and I was looking forward to the foggy coast.

This is the ceiling in a winery that looks like a castle; Tooth & Nail.  I was able to get a few of their wine bottle labels to use in collage projects.

20160602_150449

Back in Cambria, a full 44 degrees cooler than Paso Robles, we went to Moonstone Beach, pictured here at the top of the post. This photo is looking south and the other one is looking north.

20160602_161045

After some geocaching and window shopping in town, we had our last evening wine (Rem) and snacks (me) at the Ollalieberry Inn before a low-key dinner out.  Each evening and over breakfast we enjoyed conversation with the owners, staff, and other guests at the inn. I was also delighted to be able to spend some time crafting in the dining room and finished a collage-painting.

The last morning at Cambria had arrived but we still had a few more days of vacation, which I will share in a future post.

20160603_095334

Thanks for sharing our trip and thanks for your visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Life

Balloon Birthday Card

20151109_181006

A big, red balloon was the perfect image for a birthday card for my boss: bright, cheerful and uplifting.

As usual, I went to Pinterest for ideas and found Jennifer McGuire Ink and her cute and simple balloon cards, which I pretty much copied for the card front.

Since this was a red-letter birthday (she turned 40), I wanted something extra special on the inside: more balloons!  I found more inspiration on Pinterest with a link to this tutorial video by Valita. Too bad that  I jumped in without thinking and ended up having a few challenges with the card, but I’ll get to those later.

Open the card…

20151109_180806

20151109_180802

20151109_180731

Gold thickers looked great for the number 40.

The mistakes I made include:

  • Heavy watercolor paper for the card – It doesn’t hold the creases as well as a thinner, more standard card stock
  • Double-sided tape that wasn’t strong enough – I ran out of my super-sticky tape and used some Scotch tape and it wasn’t strong enough.
  • No balloon-shaped punch – Not a mistake, really, but each balloon is two pieces, so that meant tracing and cutting out 22 balloons
  • Acetate that was too lightweight – I used a sheet of acetate that is used for copying and it was too flimsy to hold the balloons up, so I had to score and fold two creases in each piece with was fiddly and made them more rigid than I would have liked.

In spite of all of this, I’m pleased with how the card turned out.

Thanks for your visit.

20151109_180847

6 Comments

Filed under Crafts

Photo Album: Mom’s 80th Birthday

IMG_0282-001

We celebrated my mom’s 80th birthday last weekend.  Her birthday was actually in July but this was when all her kids could be there for the event.

Mom & Grandkids

All the grandkids were there too.

Before the event, I made a batch of invitations. I photocopied this sweet old photograph of my mom to put on the front.

IMG_0072

Each card was a little different from the next.

IMG_0307-001

The party was for lunch and after considering different ideas, we ended up having it at my mom’s house (at her suggestion).

Various family members assisted and I organized the party. We decorated with paper lanterns and flowers from the farmer’s market.

IMG_0255-001

IMG_0253-001

IMG_0251-001

Nestled in the arrangements were naked ladies, or pink Amaryllis Belladonna, flowers that my dad always loved, if only because it amused him to say naked ladies!

Here’s some naked ladies outdoors.

IMG_0201

The day was sunny and warm but not terribly hot not like the weekend before.

Michael and Suresa.

IMG_0256-001

Victoria and Caitlin, both wearing giant hoop earrings.

IMG_0257-001

Robert and Leah.

IMG_0264-001

Mom and Sarah.

IMG_0263-001

After lunch we had dessert: Kathleen brought angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream.

IMG_0262-001

Leah made lemon bars from Smitten Kitchen.

IMG_0261-001

I made brownies from the Commonsense Kitchen Cookbook to round out a trio of delicious desserts.

IMG_0260-001

Victoria, Jake and Chelsea.

IMG_0267-001

Caitlin, Cooper and Sarah.

IMG_0272-001

Molly and Mom.

IMG_0275-001

It was really a big, extended family party.

IMG_0295-001

Gianna with Stella.

IMG_0297-001

Stella wasn’t the only one that was tired at the end of the festivities.

IMG_0303-001

Mom and I share an ottoman as we both put our feet up.

IMG_0304-001

Thanks to everyone for being a part of this special day.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Life

Vacation Album: Ft. Bragg to Sea Ranch

IMG_0127

Looking at the mouth of the Noyo River just south of Ft. Bragg on my morning walk. State Route 1 crosses over above the river.

IMG_0129

Businesses along the wharf have beautiful (and often humorous) signs.

IMG_0134

IMG_0135

“No phone, no TV, No WIFI. No problem. You are on vacation.”

IMG_0138

I thought of you, Ariel.

IMG_0143

IMG_0148

Hiking up the hill to our motel I looked down at the wharf and harbor it was very peaceful.

After a bit of sunny weather in the Ft. Bragg area, going south to Sea Ranch we found it grey and foggy.

Nearly every day for the rest of our vacation was cool and grey.  Here are some pictures from Sea Ranch where we were joined by first my mom and Molly, and then my sister Kathleen.

IMG_0199

Abalone divers getting ready to go into the water.

IMG_0200

Low Tide on Walk On Beach.

IMG_0201

IMG_0207

IMG_0211

Gooseneck barnacles and mussels on the rocks.

IMG_0212

Rem and I made a cake to continue his birthday celebration: Double Chocolate Layer Cake from Smitten Kitchen.

IMG_0189

The cake pans were a little smaller than called for, so we made a few cupcakes too.

IMG_0193

I decorated the cake with nasturtiums.

IMG_0198

The sun came out on the day we were leaving.  My mom, Kathleen, Molly and I walked at Gualala Point and down on the beach.

IMG_0228

IMG_0242

There was still a little finger of fog over Gualala.

It was time to pack up and get ready for our drive home after a wonderful vacation.

Thanks for your visit.

Leave a comment

Filed under Life

Vacation Album: (More Beer, More Trees)

IMG_0090

Pretty little Victorian town: Ferndale. We found many shops closed on a Sunday, but still enjoyed walking around.

IMG_0092

Every town should have clean, centrally located restrooms like these.

IMG_0095

The cemetery is on a hillside overlooking town.

IMG_0096

Onwards to Eureka and more closed shops in Old Town.  We went into a  Los Bagels shop and they had this great piece: Frieda with Glitter by Michelle Graham de Martinez. (Thought of you, Vic).

IMG_0102

More Victorians, including the Carson Mansion (hi, Carson!).

IMG_0105

Across the street, the “Pink Lady” was built for William Carson’s son as a wedding gift.

IMG_0104

IMG_0109

Dinner and of course more beer at the Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka.

Rem’s birthday started grey and turned rainy. After the dry weather in Marin, it was nice to see so much green everywhere and Rem didn’t mind the wet weather on his special day.

IMG_0005-001

We drove north into Redwood National Park and took a little walk in the woods.

IMG_0006-001

IMG_0009-001

IMG_0014-001

Heading south again, we took a quick detour when we spotted elk in a campground.

IMG_0016-001

IMG_0020-001

We found Luke’s Joint, a little lunch place in the Arcata Plaza, because the next brewery, Redwood Curtain Brewing Company, doesn’t sell any food beyond potato chips.

IMG_0025-001

IMG_0030-001

IMG_0028-001

IMG_0035-001

After careful research (and don’t be fooled by the photos, he tried more than four beers here), he decided the Pine & Pineapple Pale Ale and Irish Dry Stout were his favorites.

IMG_0031-001

The brow a LOT of different beers here and were happy to give Rem small samples so he could try more varieties.

We didn’t want to miss one of McKinleyville’s top things-to-see:

IMG_0037-001

IMG_0044-001

It is located, rather unexpectedly, behind a Safeway store.  Once, years ago, I took a stroll through what was supposed to be a totem pole park and somehow missed seeing the totem poles!  It was in Alaska and I guess we (hi, Lis), took a wrong turn.  So it was nice to see the World’s Largest Totem Pole, even if it was in a Safeway parking lot.

IMG_0042-001

IMG_0050-001

Birthday dinner was at the Six Rivers Brewery, which along with Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka, is female-owned.

IMG_0023-001

IMG_0024-001

IMG_0051-001IMG_0054-001IMG_0056-001

IMG_0061-001

We shared a very good “Sweet Heat” pizza: habañero hot pepper jelly, caramelized onions, bacon, mozzarella and goat cheese and a sprinkling of green onions.  Rem gave high ratings to the Raspberry Lambic-Style Ale and the Anniversary Blarney Stout.

A brownie-sundae finished the evening and Rem’s birthday month was off to a great start!

Thanks for your visit.

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Life

Rem’s Redwoods & Brewpubs Birthday Roadtrip

IMG_0022

For Rem’s birthday, we’re enjoying a road trip in Northern California that includes flights of beer and beautiful redwoods. A flight, or small sampling of different beverages or foods, is a practice that is probably better known in winemaking, but has also gained popularity in the culinary world.

Last year, we experienced a different kind of flight when we celebrated his birthday!  This is less exhilarating but I think I’m enjoying it more.

We left San Rafael heading north on US Route 101, on the segment known as The Redwood Highway. The Redwood Highway starts in Marin at the Golden Gate Bridge and goes all the way up to the junction of 199 near Crescent City.  We won’t make it quite that far, but we’re seeing loads of redwoods and enjoying the incredible scenery along the way.

From the quirky to the sublime.

IMG_0035

IMG_0055

Our first stop wasn’t a brew pub, but Rem was still able to sample two beers on tap.

IMG_0003

Graton is really ginormous. Because it is on tribal land, smoking is allowed.  They have non-smoking sections and I’m sure there is an elaborate ventilation system to suck up the cigarette smoke, but it is still there and you can still smell it.  We played a few slot machines after lunch. I used a dollar from Rem and put in a dollar of my own. Oh, so exciting. I just do NOT see the attraction.

Here are my winnings:

IMG_0028

Did I get 97 cents worth of entertainment?  Well, I would have paid that to leave, so I’ll call it a win.

Onward to Ruth McGowan’s Brewpub in Cloverdale, the home of Cloverdale Ale Company, for the first official stop on the Brewpub Tour!

IMG_0010

IMG_0018

Rem enjoyed tastes of eight different beers (the flights have ranged from 2 to 4 ounces in size, and he hasn’t finished all the beers in a flight).  He is using an app called Untappd to track and rate the beers.  His favorite here was the McGowan’s Dry Irish Stout.

IMG_0015

I enjoyed the signs I noticed:

IMG_0019

I was a little confused by this one (in the Ladies Room)…

IMG_0013

…until I looked in the mirror. (It says “You’re Beautiful”). Awww.

IMG_0012

It was in the low 90’s as we headed on to Ukiah and our next brewery: Mendocino Brewing Company.

IMG_0020

IMG_0021

A flight of nine beers for $10 is a great way to sample the offerings.  Rem particularly enjoyed the Eye of the Hawk Imperial Ale.

Our dinner that night at Ritual, also in Ukiah, kept with the theme of samples; we shared 4 appetizers (Firecracker Won Ton, Lumpia, Thai Chicken Wings and Lamb Lollipops) plus a delicious salad of greens, beets, locally-made goat cheese and caramelized walnuts for me.

IMG_0029

Ukiah Brewing Company is adjacent to the restaurant and is no longer a stand-alone brewery.

IMG_0030

The server told us about a specialty beer, Navarro Yarrow, but cautioned it was particularly foamy that night.  She brought Rem a sample in addition to the flight of beer he was trying, and it was his favorite of the evening.

I had a walk in Ukiah early the next morning before we hit the road.

IMG_0040

Church mailbox in front of church.

IMG_0042

IMG_0046

We both dressed for the hot weather we expected after the first day.  However, the temperature never rose above the low 70’s and the scenery was just gorgeous.  It was a beautiful day. We deterred off Highway 101 to drive the Avenue of the Giants, a scenic roadway going through Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

IMG_0053

Of course we didn’t want to miss the Drive-Thru-Tree.

IMG_0049

IMG_0050

We took a short walk along one of the park trails.

IMG_0064

IMG_0058

IMG_0073

I was charmed by this little bunny.

IMG_0077

Continuing back on 101, we went to the tiny town of Loleta to visit the Loleta Cheese Factory and tasted our way from one end of the shop to the other.  We didn’t try all 34 varieties they make, but we did try quite a few of them and bought some to take with us.

IMG_0079

We backtracked to the town of Fortuna and after checking in to our motel, we walked to the next brewery on the list: Eel River Brewing.

IMG_0082

We split an order of baby-back ribs and I had a salad.  Rem, needless to say, also had beer. His top pick here was Raven’s Eye Imperial Stout.River.

I started the next morning with a good walk along the Eel River, which is at record low levels due to the drought, but pretty nonetheless.

IMG_0087

IMG_0086

IMG_0088

I will post another section of our trip soon. Thanks for stopping by.

4 Comments

Filed under Life

Mini Piñata

IMG_0013-003

At Craft Gym last week we made sweet Mini Piñatas. Today is May the Fourth and it is my sister Kathleen’s birthday.  Happy Birthday! I’m sure the piñatas were to honor Cinco de Mayo but I thought it would be a just the thing to celebrate Kathleen’s birthday and make it an even more festive fiesta.

Unfortunately, the link for the mini piñatas on the Once Around site isn’t working, so I’ll walk you through the steps.

Mini Piñatas

You’ll need:

  • A Template (lots of online options) or draw your own
  • Pencil to trace template
  • Lightweight Cardboard such as cereal box or poster-board
  • Scissors (if you have multi-blade fringing scissors, now is the time to use them!)
  • Masking Tape
  • Colorful Crepe or Tissue Paper
  • Glue Stick or Glue such as Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue
  • String (if you want to hang it and/or to attach to trap door)
  • A large needle (to put the string through the cardboard)
  • Optional: Washi Tape to close the trap door for accessing the treats inside
  • Small Candies or other tiny treats to fill the piñata

IMG_0012-003

I used some hand-cut confetti, sequins, paper hearts, felted balls and a variety of small candies to fill the piñata.

I saw several patterns online that had tabs for putting together the pieces of your piñata but in our Crafty Gym we didn’t cut any tabs, and they worked fine.

Cut two matching shapes of cardboard, (I thought the donkey was really cute, but it was a little tricky putting it together – a big heart would also be cute and much easier!) and one long strip of cardboard, about 1.5 inches wide.

Use masking tape to assemble the piñata. I started at the bottom of one leg and taped the strip to it for a few inches.  I creased the strip whenever I reached a sharp corner, then lined up the matching shape and starting taping it on the other side of the cardboard strip to form a 3-D shape.

If you want to hang the piñata up, use a large needle to poke a hole through the cardboard at the top of your shape and thread the string through the hole. I did this after I’d completely covered the piñata with paper fringe and it was pretty tricky.

IMG_0010-003

I used super-cute yellow pom-pom cord that came on a birthday gift and I saved for just such an occasion. One piece is for hanging it up, one piece connects to the little trap door underneath.

Most directions suggested cutting a flap or trap door for candy removal after you’re finished assembling the piñata but I cut the trap door on the inside of one leg before I’d started adding fringe.

IMG_0011-003

(Above) here is the candy door open, it is on the inside of the leg to the right) and you can just see two yellow pom poms attached to the door.

Cut tissue or crepe paper into strips about 1.5 inches wide and fold several strips together, folding in half and then in quarters, keeping the paper aligned.

Cut the tissue or crepe paper into a fringe, then unfold.

Using glue stick or tacky glue, glue two rows of each color of fringe to the piñata, starting from the bottom and working upwards.

Once you’ve completely covered your piñata, you might want to trim the fringe  so as to keep the shape of the piñata from become obscured.

Let glue dry.  Fluff the fringe a bit to give it more texture.

Fill your piñata with treats, tipping and tilting to fill every little corner.  Attach cord to trap door.

IMG_0015-003

I added a small “happy birthday” tag on the cord for pulling open the candy door.

Close door and use some washi tape, if desired, to keep it closed.

IMG_0018-003

Two strips of polka dot washi tape are keeping the treats inside until the recipient opens the piñata.  You might want to provide a plastic bag when you give your piñata so they don’t lose any goodies.

IMG_0014-003

Thanks for stopping by.

IMG_0003-003

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Crafts

Birthday Dinner Recipe: Fresh Pasta

IMG_0178

When Rem and I were on vacation, we celebrated my 55th birthday with a delicious home-cooked dinner.  I haven’t made pasta for years and years but love the slightly irregular, slightly chewy fresh noodles and knew it was part of my desired menu.  We also had flat roasted chicken, asparagus, and a yummy chocolate cake for dessert.

This was a fresh spinach and herb pasta which made beautiful, springy, green noodles but the flavor was pretty mild.  I will try it again with more herbs next time.

Here is a little slide show made from pictures of mixing the dough, rolling it out, cutting the pasta, and cooking it (some of the same photos are throughout the recipe as well).

Fresh Spinach & Herb Pasta

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

IMG_0097

3 cups fresh spinach and herbs (any combination of spinach, arugula, green onion, chive, basil, green onions or other fresh greens and/or herbs will work fine – we used mostly spinach,  with some very finely minced rosemary, thyme and some dried basil because we didn’t have fresh)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus additional flour for rolling out pasta

2 large eggs, room temperature

You may need 1 or 2 Tablespoons water

Optional: Cornmeal for rolling out pasta

Directions:

Wash and dry your fresh greens and/or herbs.

Coarsely chop the greens and herbs and place in a sturdy bowl and sprinkle with the coarse salt.

Use a pestle, dowel or other implement to grind the salt and herbs together into a wet paste. (I used a metal spoon) and set aside.

IMG_0114

Mound the flour on your work surface.  Make a well in the flour with your fingers and crack eggs into well.  You can start with a fork but I just used my fingers to start mixing the eggs and flour together.

IMG_0129

Add the herb paste to the flour and egg mixture and continue mixing.  You may need to add a tablespoon or two of cold water to form a rough dough with no dry flour left on the counter.  However, I didn’t need any water.  The dough will be fairly stiff.

IMG_0135

Knead dough for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and springy.

IMG_0142

IMG_0147

IMG_0150

Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes. Note: you may also choose to do this in a stand mixer, or in your bread machine set on the dough cycle. If you use your bread machine, cancel the cycle after about 10 minutes of kneading, and remove the dough.

Divide dough into 4 pieces.  With a rolling pin, roll out 1 portion of dough at a time on a large cutting board lightly sprinkled with flour or cornmeal, rolling dough quite thin, about 1/16th of an inch, although I don’t think mine was that thin.

IMG_0155

IMG_0159

Cut into narrow strips, or roll up the whole sheet and then cut.

IMG_0170

In these pictures, when I rolled the whole sheet of pasta before cutting, it should have been in a looser roll.  Be sure to unroll the cut pasta.

IMG_0183

IMG_0189

IMG_0195

Toss strips lightly with a little flour or cornmeal and allow to dry for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.

If you aren’t going to use all the pasta, you should dry it for a few hours before storing.  I tried making nests, but my pasta was on the thick side and ended up sticking to itself.  I should have left it just spread out (or maybe hanging over a broom handle!)

IMG_0199

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.  Drop the pasta in and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, testing for doneness after 3 minutes.

IMG_0216

Drain the pasta, add a simple sauce or just butter and Parmesan cheese and serve.  We used a splash of heavy cream (left over from another recipe), some butter, Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.

IMG_0230

Mangia!

Thanks for your visit.  Still to come: flat roasted (or spatchcocked) chicken and chocolate cake.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cooking

Walking Sea Ranch & Turning 55

IMG_0008

I’ve celebrated another birthday at Sea Ranch and so far 55 agrees with me. Yes, I’m falling apart…

IMG_2897

…but slowly.

I managed a zipline course just days before my birthday which included both fear and fun in exhilarating measures.

Sonoma1_47246

I decided to walk the length of the Sea Ranch bluff trail while on vacation, something Rem suggested and reminded me I’d done a few years ago. With my Fitbit I could log my steps and mileage and Rem agreed to drop me off and pick me so I wouldn’t have to backtrack. It is a beautiful way to experience the coast.

Sunday, March 1

IMG_0005

Walking north from the Sea Ranch Lodge on the first day I soaked in the gorgeous ocean views, the soothing sound of the waves, and the familiar smell of salt air and sage-like plants along the trail.

The trails here often seem like something out of a fairy tale, with bridges crossing small creeks, tunnels formed from wild hedges and seals barking on the rocks and in the water below the bluff.

IMG_0015

IMG_0023

Rem and I weren’t sure our cellphones would work so I’d picked a spot to meet about 4 miles up the coast, where a short trail linked the bluff and the end of the aptly named (and currently blooming) Wild Iris street, near the White Barn.

Distance: 4.21 miles. Steps: 8,600.

IMG_0035

That afternoon, Rem and I baked my birthday cake, using the recipe I’d previously made as cupcakes: Chocolate Cake with Guinness. I remembered it being a delicious, moist cupcake, not too sweet, with a deep chocolate flavor and a slight earthy quality from the stout.

IMG_0050

Monday, March 2

IMG_0033

We started my birthday by driving down to Shell Beach (the beach closest to the house) to watch the sunrise. Low clouds thwarted that idea but once up and out, I decided to walk south from Shell Beach to meet up with where I’d ended the day before, Wild Iris. There are numbered trail posts that help to match your location with the map, though they don’t indicate distance, which is too bad.

Rem headed back up to the house and I headed down the coast for the first of two walks that day.

IMG_0036

Walking along I enjoyed some of the Sea Ranch architecture. Houses are in shades of grey and brown, like driftwood. From the street side, this one is tucked down into a berm and the grassy roof helps it to blend into the surrounding landscape.

IMG_0038

From the side you see skylights and the grass roof.

IMG_0040

From the ocean side it looks more conventional, with more skylights and plenty of windows to enjoy the view.

IMG_0041

Another house reminded me of photos I’ve seen of African rondavels.

IMG_0019

This house has a wall that is almost all glass. A little greenhouse-type structure in the corner protects the hot tub from chilly coastal winds while retaining the view.

IMG_0014

Once again, Rem and I met at Wild Iris. Back at the house I made one of my favorite breakfasts: a fried egg sandwich with bacon on a toasted English muffin, and Rem gave me the birthday card he’d made.

IMG_0048

IMG_0049

Cheeky. But he can get away with it since 1. I love that he makes me laugh and 2. He gave me a spa day at Imperial Spa  in San Francisco for my gift.

Sitting in the window seat reading and crocheting on my very-slow-growing scarf was an important part of my morning.

IMG_0065

…as was putting together my birthday cake. I split the two cake layers to make four thin ones and layered them together with semi-sweet chocolate ganache.

IMG_0051

IMG_0052

IMG_0054

Buttercream frosting with instant espresso powder was the finishing touch. I did a crumb coat (thin layer of frosting to keep the crumbs in place), let it sit in the fridge a bit before swirling on a ridiculous amount of frosting. The leftovers went into the fridge to eat sandwiched between graham crackers.

IMG_0092

After lunch (open faced tuna melt with Swiss cheese), I went on the next bit of my walk. I started at the trail head by Shell Beach and headed north again.

IMG_0078

IMG_0080

IMG_0081

Rem and I met at the corner of Tide Pool and Sea Drift, not far from the Del Mar Center.

Distance: 4.73 miles. Steps: 10,728.

I brought The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman along on the trip and picked out “Flat Roasted Chicken” for my birthday dinner but instead of the tiny potatoes she fixed with it, I’d been wanting to make hand cut pasta for ages. So we did! I’ll write another post soon with more details on the spatchcocked chicken and fresh herb pasta. Suffice to say, it was a red-letter day dinner.

IMG_0230

IMG_0235

IMG_0236

It was ambitious and we were both tired after the busy day, but it was fun cooking together and both dinner and dessert were delicious. Rem surprised me with another gift certificate (for art supplies) and we finished the day with a soak in the hot tub.

IMG_0237

Tuesday, March 3

IMG_0275

Walking north from the spot I reached on Monday, I noticed the different textures of the landscape I was passing through.

IMG_0249

IMG_0263

The views are often breathtaking and the path continued to unfurl like a story, hiding then revealing portions as I walked.

IMG_0277

IMG_0279

IMG_0312

I passed one of my favorite Sea Ranch homes, one whose interior I’d love to see, as well as others that caught my eye for their charm or quirky design.

IMG_0300

IMG_0302

IMG_0303

IMG_0267

This huge play fort is carved out of trees and hedges and is large enough for me to stand in without stooping.

IMG_0282

For the 50th Anniversary of The Sea Ranch, historical trail markers such as this one have been added alongside the path.

IMG_0293

Although it isn’t part of The Sea Ranch, I wouldn’t consider this bluff-trail walk complete without a coda: the portion in Gualala Point County Park. I gave a small mental cheer when I passed the last numbered trail post, but continued on.

IMG_0319

I thought of my dad along this last section, remembering one summer when we both had our bikes at the house. We rode at different times of day, and would leave small offerings for each other at the last sign on the path just before reaching the beach. A pine cone or two stacked pebbles would be arranged for the other person to find on their next ride.

IMG_0306

I looked for pebbles to leave and thought about all the feathers I’ve found since he died. I hadn’t seen any feathers on the bluff, although until then I hadn’t been looking for them, and thought it would be nice to find at least one small feather.

Sure enough, I found just that: a tiny white bit of down, about the size of my thumbnail. I kept looking and found a second and then third itty bitty little feather. It made me laugh because if you asked my dad for a small portion at a meal, he would dish up about a teaspoon of lasagna or a single strand of spaghetti. Somehow, those three tiny feathers made me think he was saying, “One small feather? Here you go, is this small enough?”

Coming to the last curve, I took in the last gorgeous views.

IMG_0308

IMG_0311

I found several small pebbles and left them at the sign by the beach.

IMG_0489

Walking back to where I was meeting Rem I saw several clusters of daffodils I’d missed before. We have daffodils blooming at home in San Rafael in two planter boxes on our patio. There are also daffodils in bloom in front of the Sea Ranch house and many other homes here, which makes me happy because they always remind me of my birthday.

IMG_0314

Distance: 4.66 miles. Steps: 10,323. (The extra part, in Gualala Point County Park, was 1.46 miles and 7,011 steps, which is reflected in my total distance).

This walk felt like a gift to myself that I unwrapped as I walked along.

IMG_0301

Thanks for stopping by.

8 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Life

Castle Card

IMG_0249

Along with making Valentine’s last week, I had a birthday card to make.  Not just any birthday card either, but a birthday card for a Princess.  What does every Princess need? A castle! So I made a castle-shaped card.

Although I saw several different castle cards on Pinterest, I didn’t find one that was fitting my mental picture, so I just sketched out what I wanted with a pencil, and starting cutting it out with scissors and an Exacto knife.

IMG_0240

This shows it unfolded all the way, which shows both the front of the card with the big medallion (sticker) on the front door, but also the birthday greeting on the inside

IMG_0244

The flip side includes a strip of vellum on the far left  (it added stability to the tall tower).  When the card is folded, the doors open to reveal “Welcome!”

IMG_0254

IMG_0239

It was fun using little scraps of paper for the turrets and rooftops, and than using different pens to add even more details.  Sparkly glitter tape is perfect for a banner on either side of the entrance.

To go with the Castle Card, I made a little garland of needle-felted wool hearts in ombre shades of blue.

IMG_0232

IMG_0251

A few years ago, this is the  card I made for this friend:
IMG_0029

Thank you for taking time to stop by.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Crafts