Monday, January 17, 2011

Little Birdy Leaves the Nest

At the end of this week, I'll get in a car with someone that has been with me for nearly every day of the last 19 years.  Somehow I'll try not to get emotional or too sentimental as we drive down Hwy 5 to Long Beach.  I'll try not to think about how I left home at 19 and never came back (except brief vacations).  I'll try not to second guess if I did a good enough job as a mother... especially these last four years.

I was barely out of my teens when I had my son. The two of us grew up together - me as a "mom" and he as an independent young man.  I don't think I had the same level of natural mothering instincts as some of my friends, but my son drove me to give my best. 

I think right before I say "Good-bye, I love you.", I'll also tell him "Thank You".

Friday, January 7, 2011

Christmas Time in the City...

This is the second year that I've been child free for Christmas.  The kids spend it with their father and I'm left to my own devices.  Last year I visited my parents and friends in Minnesota, but decided this time to stay a little closer to home and a little warmer.

I'm very lucky to be near to San Francisco and I resolved to do a stay-cation there, as most of the time I'm in the city it's for classes or conferences and I never have the luxury of just **exploring**. I checked with my favorite boutique hotel, the King George right around the corner from Union Square, and was astounded that room rates for Christmas week were as low as $59/night! What a deal! It's not the fanciest place in town, but it's cozy, clean and central to what I wanted to do: shop, spa, and sight-see.

Ahead of time I had planned a few things including going to the San Francisco Ballet's The Nutcracker.  I have to confess, I've never been to a ballet before and I figure I couldn't keep waiting for someone else to take me: I'll take myself! Wednesday evening I got all gussied up, caught a cab over to the Opera House and enjoyed a wonderful performance.  While I don't know if future ballet visits would be my cup of tea, I'm so glad I finally got to see the Nutcracker performed by a group like this with so much history behind it. Bad News/Good News on the way back from the show.  I could NOT catch a cab for the life of me, so started walking back on foot.  I ended up hiking across San Francisco with a very nice gentleman and his precocious 5-year old son.  Not only did I feel safer, but the conversation was pleasant and just being able to see the city (and Christmas) through the eyes of a young child again was refreshing!

Speaking of refreshing - the next day, Thursday was Spa Day at Elizabeth Arden's Red Door Spa! My very good friend Penny and I have been planning this for the last month or so, every since she received a well-deserved performance award at work.  We discovered that one of the choices was Spafinders certificates. Red Door takes those and was also highly recommended by two other friends.  For me, Costco had $100 Spafinder certificates for only $79.99 so I ended up with a nice savings too.  Our day started with massages, then facials (ooohhh how come no one told me about this before??) before a break for a nice lunch.  Afterwards we had manicures and pedicures and Penny's package included hair.  I took the picture to the right from the Gumps store across the street as she was finishing up.  We both agreed that we shouldn't wait years before we do this again!

We completed our day with some more shopping (something I had pretty much been doing non-stop since arriving in the City!) and then a nice dinner at Max's on the Square.  I finally found a place that made Bramble cocktails and it was just as delicious as the description I had been sent months ago!

The next day was Christmas Eve and I visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for their "How Wine Became Modern" exhibit.  If you know even a little bit about me, you know that in addition to being an IT geek, I've worked for the last decade at a winery.  Learning more about the product is always a goal for me.  While smaller than I was hoping, I enjoyed the exhibit and the museum as a whole.  They had some unique displays including a sensory one where you could smell concentrated amounts of what usually wine writers put in reviews that leave you scratching your head.  "Bell Pepper?  What does that smell like?"  Now I know!  The gift shop has some lovely tie-ins to the exhibit including books, stemware, and interesting items.  Well worth a visit.  (plus if you hang on to your admission ticket, some wineries up in Sonoma/Napa area have discounts when you present it.)

The biggest challenge of my entire visit to San Francisco was finding a place for dinner Christmas Eve.  I was meeting a friend and the first few places we had initially chosen were either closed or sold out.  After a trek across town to a closed restaurant, a short hike with Yelp! on my iPhone, I found us a spot at Jardiniere in the Civic Center.  While waiting for my friend to arrive, I was happy just to enjoy a beautifully made lemon drop (or two!) at the bar.  I had the Maine Diver Scallops and my friend had the Hoffman Ranch Hen, both of which I thought were simply delicious! It was also nice to enjoy wines that *aren't* produced by my company, and my friend is a wine aficionado and picked an excellent one to complement our dinners.

Union Square was beautiful Christmas Eve, but I was amazed at how many people were still out and about.  Christmas in the City is definetly an adventure!
Christmas Day I traveled up to the wine country - Sonoma County and was treated to a relaxing day of movies, conversation and a fantastic prime rib / crab dinner.  My experience cooking is that anything with less than four ingredients is good, the acting "chef" pulled out an excellent Prime Rib with Red Wine recipe.  All I can say is that the time and effort spent was well worth it.  The sauce was delicious!  (Plus I can say I chopped some carrots and shallots as part of the prep effort!).
All in all, a wonderful week - so glad I took the time for myself.  Can't wait till the next trip!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year's Resolution '11

Nothing earth-shattering... Simple goal. Be true to who I am as a person.