What I Love

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and is ready for December to be here! Here are a few more things that I have been loving lately, in no particular order. 

Shampoo Bars. My favorite one is this one by Body and Earth, but I also like the Love Beauty and Planet two-in-one, and it smells fantastic. If you are new to these, you may sometimes miss the foaminess of your regular shampoo, but people, that is just a tactile add on and does not do anything to get your hair clean! I have found these great for traveling, as they do not count toward your one quart rule, plus you can also use them as soap, so technically they are three in one. Some of the 2-in-1s are better than others with the conditioning part of the bar, so you may need two different ones depending on your hair type. I have thin hair so I don't really use a lot of conditioner anyway, so these are perfect for me. 

Tuesday runs. I have been running in the city before going home after work on Tuesdays and it has been great. If I go home, it is a lot harder to get back out of the house so I decided to do this, even if it is just a couple of miles, as a way to keep myself motivated regarding exercise. I always feel better afterward, plus my route goes right by the water, so if I had a bad or unmotivating day at work, it is a great way to clear the mind and focus on the beauty of the day. 

Tuesday Run Day - Fort Mason

Bertha. Since my car got broken into in July, I have not driven to work once and the old bag (Bertha) has really held up well! It is only about two miles each way, but I haven't had any issues and just like the Tuesday runs, sometimes the ride back home at the end of the day is just what I need after being stuck in the office all day. I highly recommend getting a cheap or second hand bike and doing a few mile loop a couple of days a week if you can; the feeling of the wind in your hair really is priceless sometimes. 

This peeler. I know that a peeler seems like such a housewife thing to gush about, but this peeler is great! I am sure you have all had those moments where you wonder if the peeler you got is for left handed people, or if it was made for people without thumbs, because it is so much work to peel a potato or even a carrot with it. This peeler had a good handle, it peels without having to be manipulated and it has a sharp end to get rid of bruises or eyes if needed. It is the most I ever spent on a peeler, but (1) you get two so you can gift one of them and (b) it was totally worth it! 

The library. I know I have said this a million times but I would be lost without the library. I have had a card in pretty much every place I have lived in, including London and New Orleans, and have used it voraciously. Not only do they have books, but most libraries also give you free tickets to museums, but they have book clubs and Spanish classes and resume writing seminars. There are a plethora of things to use the library for and it is definitely something that I am happy to pay taxes for! 

How was your Thanksgiving? What are you loving lately? 


Let The Games Begin?

Last week was one of those weeks were I completely overbooked myself and this week is going to be more of the same. Last week every day I had something after work, culminating in a client meeting and dinner on Friday, of which I was very glad to see the back of, although it went well and we had a good time. Planning for work events with multiple personalities and likes/dislikes is not really my thing, although I always seem to be in charge of doing it, like it or not. Luckily everyone was happy in the end, but if I don't have to do that again for a long time, I will not be sad. On Saturday I went to a wine and music event with my friend E and we were talking about his Thanksgiving plans, which are going to be nothing social, and I was telling him how I completely understand why. Sometimes it just creeps up on you and you need to hide under a rock for a while. 

Fancy dinner

Wine & music with Les Claypool

Luckily although this week will be socially heavy, it will be fun and a bit more low key. I only have Thursday off of work, so will have to go back into the office on Friday, although I expect it to be slow, as the markets are not open all day. Then on Saturday, I will run the Quad Dispea, an annual trail race, for which I have not trained enough. It will be painful, but it is kind of the running community's "holiday" get together, where you will often see people that you may not have seen since last year's race, so it will be nice to catch up with them, or at least see them on the course. I am crossing my fingers that it doesn't rain, as there are some steep muddy and slippery rock sections that are much more fun when dry. 

The Dipsea trail is known for its 678 stairs

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving, which will probably just be a low key lunch/dinner, lots of games, some hikes and otherwise just catching up and drinking lots of coffee! I think we are looking at lows in the 40s and highs in the 60s, and no rain, which is a very welcome thing! Last weekend we had some thunderstorms which were good for the garden, but difficult when trying to dash from a car to a restaurant in high heeled shoes, which is what happened to me on Friday night. 

Quirkle, one of our favorite games

Besides the rain though, the weather has been pretty good and is still not getting too cold at night; our lowest low has been in the 40s still and the trees are still pretty and golden in most places. Of course, as I mentioned before, this still means that raking season is going strong, and likely will for some time yet. I have really been enjoying leaf peeping walks around the neighborhood lately though! 

Golden leaves

Fun neighborhood corner

After that, November will basically be over, and it will be the last month of the year! My Christmas cards are 99% done, so I will put the finishing touches on them and get them sent out at the end of the month. The other thing I always do in the last couple of months of the year is to get all of the pesky check ups done. I already went to the eye doctor, next up are the dentist (today actually) and all of the lady checks and then I am done until next year! I still have to do some more serious dentistry, but will wait until my new insurance starts in January, and will also do my normal wellness exam (blood panel for triglycerides, cholesterol etc.) in January once the calendar starts over again. 

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Have you done all of your annual exams, dentist appointments, eye appointments etc. yet? What are your neighborhood walks like lately? 


Am I Wearing Pants? And Other Random Stories

Who remembers this meme? 

Leg Pants. 

I think the meme above was from when it was once again becoming more common to wear leggings out in public for no reason (see --> "are they yoga pants? are you doing yoga?") and it was not always appreciated! These days it is more accepted, but there is still the "leg pants" phenomena, where I wonder if a woman (or man I guess) knows that her pants are the exact same color as her legs. Sometimes I nearly have a heart attack as I pass or come up behind her, thinking she is walking around naked. People, perhaps get a shade a few shades darker or lighter than you? Or maybe you like seeing how many people you can get to do a double take. 

As a kind of related side note, the other morning I was getting off the train and a lady was getting on the opposite train and I saw that she was wearing leg pants that really hugged her butt tightly and were the perfect color for her complexion. She had a nice fur coat on top and had her hair done up really fancy. Then I realized at the last minute that she was NOT wearing pants, or underwear and that was actually her butt I had been seeing. Good morning to you too!

Mean Dad. 

Two weekends ago I went to A's soccer game. If you come to spectate, you must sit on the same side of the centerline that your kids are sitting on on the opposite side. We arrived a few seconds after the game had already started and so the only place to sit was basically just left of the centerline (by mere inches) meaning that we were sitting right next to the spectators from the other team. There was a girl on the opposite team who was playing on our side of the field and her Dad was sitting a couple of chairs down from us. He kept yelling at her, berating her, telling her all of the things that she wasn't doing etc. (these girls are around 13 by the way). The ironic thing was that he was pretty supportive of the other players, but very critical of his own daughter, who I thought was doing quite well. 

As Broski and I were sitting there, we chatted about this cool camera that was sitting right on the centerline, filming the game. We even Googled it to find out how much it cost and surmised that one of the parents must really be into sports. My friend K (A's Mom) arrived around halftime and after she arrived, the mean Dad walked away and went to sit further down the field. I was telling her how this Dad was being so mean to his daughter and she was really doing well and K told me that the last time they played this team, the parents got into a huge fight because the parents of the other team were all being rude, mean and unsportsmanlike (i.e. telling their daughters to "take them out!" and encouraging them to hurt the other girls and things like that). Anyway, the game ended, our team won in the last three minutes (boo yeah!) and as we were packing up to go, we noticed mean Dad packing up the camera. We kind of shook our heads at ourselves, imagining him sitting at home with his poor daughter, making her relive everything she had done wrong in the game. 

Later that week I was having dinner with K and the kids and she told me that she had received a video from a parent using that same camera for L's last game and as she had watched it, she had remembered how good the audio is on these cameras. They sit up off the field about 15 or 20 feet, but she could hear the parents chatting underneath the camera. I asked her what they do with these videos and she said that often the team will review them all together and they will talk about what needs to be improved. So basically, the team that A's team played is going to do the same thing. And if they do, they are going to get an earful about how I felt about mean Dad!! Oops. However, nothing I said was not true, AND they are also going to be able to hear him berating her, so perhaps he will take note. People, we are being watched and listened to no matter where we are! I guess the moral of the story is don't say anything that you wouldn't want a bunch of thirteen year old girls (and their mean Dads) hearing! 

Expiration dates. 

Last week Nicole touched on suggested expirations and I just want to say that I pretty much ignore most expiration dates. This may make me gross in some people's minds, but I am fairly sure that most of them are just a ploy to get you to buy more of their product. Now, I know that if they are old they can be less effective or not as tasty in the case of food, but I don't think I am going to die if I use a 2 year old mascara or eat an expired can of corn. I take them as a suggestion and if it is food, I definitely give it a good sniff before eating it. But I am going to use up that two year old bottle of Jergens and that Costco coconut oil even if it kills me. 

Having said that, in the past year, I have bought new tires for both my car and Bertha (the road bike) and they are fabulous! I have been using the same tires on Bertha for about 10 years and I was starting to have trouble stopping due to the lack of tread. I even splurged for the fancy brand, and man are they nice. Same thing goes with the car; I have replaced a tire here and there but finally decided to get four new ones at the same time and I feel like a new woman. I also do replace the little things that I can fix myself, like my car cabin air filter (did you know you were supposed to do that? I just learned about it a few years ago), wipers and the engine air filter regularly. 

Old girl, new tires


It is perpetual leaf raking season again. I think I have mentioned before that my seasons are based on the status of the maple tree in my front yard. September: clean the leaves out of the gutter season. October to December: leaf raking season. January to March: ankle breaking ball pick up season, also coincides with rainy season. April to June: spring break. July to August: removing branches from electrical wire season. I pretty much fill up the compost bin and/or the green trash bin with leaves each week and I still can't really keep up with all of the leaves on the ground. Usually at some point in December there is a huge wind and rain and it knocks many of the remaining leaves off the tree, but I would prefer that just happen early so I can rake them all and be done with it. It is supposed to rain this week so maybe this will be the week it happens? I doubt it, as the tree still has about 87% of its leaves left right now but one can hope. 

Gutter cleaning season

How was your weekend? Do parents use fancy cameras to film stuff at your kid's sports events? Do you follow the suggested expiration dates on your products and/or foods? 


10 Things To Do In San Francisco

I know many of you have probably already been to San Francisco, and have done the usual touristy things (Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Golden Gate...etc.) but thought it would be fun to provide you with a few of the lesser known things to do on your next trip that are a bit less touristy! Or, if you have never been, perhaps you can do a bit of both. This is obviously not an all encompassing list, but just a small slice of the many fun things to do! Everything on this list can be reached by public transportation or on foot, or there are many public bikes and scooters if your feet need a break (link to below map here). 


1) Twin Peaks / Sutro Tower: My family has always called the tower Godzilla, and I am not sure why because I Googled it and can only find reference to it being called the Space Claw... It is kind of a monstrosity either way, and was built in 1973 (it recently had its 50th birthday) to help improve the television signal in the city. However, the real reason to go up there is the fun drive (or hike if you are feeling athletic; it is only a couple of miles depending on where you start) up and down and the great view you get from the top! 

View of downtown from Twin Peaks

(2) Golden Gate Park: This is a lot of ground to cover, but a favorite loop of mine is to go and ogle the bison in their paddock (2a), walk past the Dutch windmills and tulips (2b) (in bloom in February) and then end up at Ocean Beach (2c), where you can watch the (kind of scary) waves of the Pacific beat on the shore. If you like walking a lot, you can keep going and head over to the Cliff House (2d), an icon of the city, and the Sutro Baths (2e), where people used to bathe with a view of the ocean! For these places basically being in the middle of the city, they can all be surprisingly quiet. Tip from a local: bring a jacket, no matter what month it is. It gets chilly on that side of the city! 

Dutch windmills & tulips

(3) Land's End: If you keep walking after the Sutro Baths, you will get to Lands End, a dirt walking trail along the coast, which has some good views of the ocean and the Marin Headlands to the north. Also, this is right near the Legion of Honor (3a), which is worth a look-see (and if you don't want to walk so much, you can split the park and these two places into two groups). 

(4) Irving Street: Since we are already down near the park, we may as well go to Irving Street for something to eat! There is pretty much anything you could want between 19th St. and 24th St., but some of my favorite things to get are either pho, dim sum or Thai food (Marnee Thai  (4a) is a must and if you go, you have to try the kanom krok - even if you don't see it on the menu, ask for it). You also can't go wrong if you just wander, or stop when you are hungry (after your GG park walk you will be!) This guy has a fun map with restaurant names and notes. Oh, and if you feel like straying a bit for a good pizza or bread, check out Arizmendi Bakery (4b) on 9th and Irving. 

(5) Chinatown: Pick up some dim sum to-go from Delicious Dim Sum (5a) and sit in Portsmouth Square (5b) where you will have a view of the Transamerica tower, and watch the locals play their daily board games. They really get into it and it is fun to watch the competitions arise! Plus the area is just so vibrant; it is a great place to people watch. 

Delicious dim sum!

After that, if you feel like being a tourist, you can walk down Grant Street, or if you want to see how the locals shop, take a stroll down Stockton Street (5c). Local tip: You can get great prices on fruit and vegetables here. If you want to buy anything from the shops, there are not really proper lines. Just walk in, put your item on the scale next to the register and get your dollars out quick. It is a dog eat dog world out there and you need to be quick to win your right to pay for your goods! Also, I have never paid with a card, so I can't confirm whether they take them, but I would have cash on hand just in case. 

(6) Filbert Steps: These go from Sansome Street up to Coit Tower, so they are a little touristy, but it is also  fun to go up or down them. It is a stairway within a neighborhood and it is fun to check out everyone's gardens and at the same time you get a glimpse of the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco bay. If you feel like doing a loop, I like to go up (or down) Vallejo Street (6a) which is also steep but provides a nice view. If you like hidden staircases like I do, San Francisco has over 600 public stairways (map here) for you to explore; here is an article about 11 of them to get you started. 

(7) The Murals in the Mission: Head down to Clarion Alley (7a) and scope out the cool murals, and afterward, go and get a burrito. There are so many places to choose from, and you can't go wrong with most of them, but I often end up at either El Farolito (7b) on Mission & 24th or El Toro Taqueria (7c). And don't forget to eat the burrito properly, which I describe in this post. You can also find more mural locations in this article

(8) Crissy Field/Fort Point: If you feel like taking a nice walk along the water, you can go from Crissy Field down to Hopper's Hands (Fort Point) (8a), which is about 1.5 miles each way. If this is too much, there are options: you can park in the Warming hut lot (8b), which makes the walk only about half a mile, or you can drive all the way to Fort Point if the gate is open. Either way, it is a great way to get outside and get some fresh air, plus you have the added bonus of a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the water, the Marin Headlands and the city! Basically you can't go wrong. Don't forget to touch Hopper's Hands for good luck when you get to Fort Point! 

Fort Point

View from Crissy Field

(9) Fort Mason: You can go and watch the sea lions at Fisherman's wharf, or you can go to Fort Mason instead and watch them at the marina, swimming around and sunning themselves on the docks. Also, if you are looking for love, supposedly the Safeway (9a) across the street is frequently listed as one of the city's best pick-up spots and is affectionately known as the "Dateway." 

Fort Mason / Marina

(10) Biking the Embarcadero: Most people talk about San Francisco's hills and how scary they are when running or biking, but despite the rumors, there are a lot of flat options! The simplest one is to bike along the Embarcadero where you will have to climb a small hill to get to Fort Mason, but after that, you will go back down towards the Marina and Crissy Field where it is flat again. Of course, you can make this a multi-mile trip pretty easily: the Mission is also flat, Ocean Beach/Great Highway are gorgeous, you can even bike to Sausalito (and beyond)! Really the city is your oyster. 

Bay Bridge / Embarcadero

Well there you have it folks, a handful of fun things to pick from next time you are in San Francisco! Of course feel free to ask questions if you need more information! 

Have you ever been to San Francisco? Have you been to any of the places/done any of the things on this list? If not, what is your "local tip" for your neck of the woods?