This week our little Witty family finds itself in San Diego (insert Anchorman joke here). It’s been fun so far seeing my nieces light up with excitement over everything from the donut shop to the hotel room sliding glass door. It’s not been the best to see them freak out over sharing and pushing elevator buttons buuuut you win some, you lose some.
- The Donut Bar: Don’t let the simple name fool you. This sweet shop offers fun, festive donuts and a ton of drinks on tap (including rich chocolate milk). It also happens to be a block from our hotel, making it almost impossible to resist. Somehow, we’ve only managed to go twice so far 😉 And, compared to SF prices, they’re a good deal for the size of the sweets.
- The Taco Stand: I won’t give San Diego points for naming creativity, but maybe their businesses just benefit from Google search terms. Right next to The Donut Bar is this fan favorite of locals and visitors alike. I tried the nopal (cactus), fried fish, and shrimp varieties, and 2/3 were truly perfect. We’re heading to the La Jolla location for sunset on Friday, so I’ll be sure to report back about round two.
- Muppet Babies: One of the benefits of being around kiddos is learning about all the stuff they watch. I had no idea this classic cartoon was redone for Disney and featuring an all-new (to me) character, a penguin named Summer. Fozzie still has awful jokes; Kermie is still helpless without my fave, Miss Piggy; and Animal is still my younger niece’s spirit… animal. Gonzo rounds out the crew for ridiculous adventures and antics.
- Disneyland: A second benefit of kid time is seeing the
worlder, land, through their eyes. Even though they’re already experts at Walt Disney World, they got to experience a whole new (to them) park and distinguish differences between the two. From the classic It’s a Small World and Thunder Mountain Railroad to the Star Wars area, infinity and beyond, they had an absolute blast.
By now, you’ve no doubt heard about the wildfires devastating both northern and southern California. We watched the news from Nairobi to Frankfurt and the smoke is still far from cleared.
As of this morning, The Camp Fire in Butte County has destroyed 135,000 acres and is 35% contained. The Woolsey Fire in LA and Ventura Counties has decimated 97,620 acres and is 47% contained.
While area businesses and organizations are scrambling to provide relief, I’ve pulled this list of reputable resources you can donate to, thanks to Inside SF:
- “The North Valley Community Foundation in Chico is raising money for shelters. Donate here.
- The Enloe Medical Center, which is also based in Chico, is raising money for caregivers and patients who have lost their homes. Donate here, and see its ongoing list of other area foundations raising money for victims here.
- The California Fire Foundation is providing short-term financial assistance for those who suffered “catastrophic losses.” Donate here.
- The California Community Foundation has an ongoing wildfire relief fund you can donate to here.
In addition, Curbed SF has enlisted San Francisco disabled rights activist Alice Wong to focus attention on the plight of the mobility impaired, many of whom are left behind in disasters like the Camp Fire. Scroll down to see her list of agencies focused on helping marginalized groups affected by the disaster.”
I can’t imagine the turmoil these thousands of people are experiencing, whether it’s losing their homes or not knowing where their loved ones are. Anything you can spare will surely help these people in need — particularly as we head into the holiday season.
The pros of a long weekend are pretty infinite, but the one con I can think of is forgetting what day it is for about a week. And maybe, trying to get five days of work done in four. Sigh.
- Pismo Beach: I spent the holiday weekend on a girls’ trip to Pismo and couldn’t have asked for a better time. Between rooftop drinks, delicious dinners, gorgeous views and a packed playlist, it was an unforgettable time. If only we could make the drive down every weekend! A girl can dream, eh?
- Nepenthe: On our way down (cue Ryan Cabrera), we stopped a few times for photo ops and pit stops. This was our lunch destination in Big Sur, which provided incredible scenery and tasty bites. It was wise for us to arrive just before opening, as they filled up quickly and reservations were tight. Def do the same if you intend to stop by!
- SLO Sailing: Sunday’s main event was a 2-hour sailing trip off the bay and into the Pacific. “Breathtaking” is an understatement. While the waters were rough for a little bit, we thoroughly enjoyed the sweeping views and picture-perfect adventure. We even made a new best friend, Cheryl, who ditched her husband to take the only spot left. You’re my spirit animal, Cher.
- Ember: Among our other memorable meals, Ember stands out as a truly wonderful dining experience. The farm-to-table restaurant doesn’t take reservations, but the wait is well worth it. Craft cocktails and a monthly menu piqued our interest, while the helpful staff and friendly husband-wife ownership team kept us smiling. It’s a must if you’re in the area.
It’s a good thing we’re halfway through May since it is thoroughly kicking my ass. Between visitors, work trips, dog-sitting, volleyball, volunteering and um, my day job, I am le tired.
I was a little depressed about being far from family on Mother’s Day weekend. And, I was “missing” an event due to the recent break-up. To say I was in a funk is an understatement. A hike up Lake Berryessa last weekend couldn’t have come at a better time.
And, let me tell you firsthand: This hike has no time for funk. It’s about 2.5 miles of switchbacks up the whole way. Not much shade, nowhere to hide. I seriously contemplated having my friends leave me to be eaten by vultures, but I persevered.
And boy, was the view worth it.
Full disclosure: It helped that we had the promise of wine and cheese and meat at a nearby winery after.
So the next time you’re dying on the side of a mountain (figuratively or literally), remember this view and how much the pain is worth it. If He brings you to it, he’ll bring you through it. Cheers to that!
I’m running on empty today, after being emotionally drained and awoken multiple times last night by what I thought was an alert in a dream. It wasn’t until 6am that I realized the alert was happening in real life, and it wasn’t until I was on a chair, smoke detector in hand, that I discovered it was coming from my beloved Jambox.
I must not have turned it off after its last use, so I had a woman’s voice tell me every 10 minutes or so to recharge the battery. Hint: This is not an ideal way to wake up.
All that to say, I’m ready to recharge myself and my Jambox.
- Before the Fall: I’ve been on a book binge lately, devouring the shelves of stories I bought months ago but hadn’t committed to reading. This novel details the events of a (fictional) horrific private plane crash from multiple perspectives, as we try to piece together what happened and why there are just two survivors. It left me breathless most of the way, but I was a bit disappointed in the final chapters. Still, I’d recommend the read — just not while you’re in-flight.
- Heavenly, Tahoe: I spent last weekend in Tahoe for a good friend’s 30th birthday celebration, marking my first adventure there in the winter (and with a bed)! We had our fill of snow games during the day, plus cozy cabin fun at night. Our backyard was a winter wonderland, making it hard to leave, so I’ll just need to find 15 other people to rent the house out with me again soon. Should be as easy as a Floridian sledding down a snowy hill, right?
- Basecamp Fitness: It’s only natural to try the countless fitness facilities SF has to offer. A friend brought us in for a free trial and we picked Plyo, AKA “the toughest class ever,” according to the girl next to me, who’s worked out there for a year. The schtick is simple: You do a minute on a resistance bike, a minute doing something else, then back to the bike and so on. You’re “done” in 35 minutes, although they encourage you to stay for the optional 10-minute abs session after. I’m sure I’ll be back soon to see how other classes compare.
- Pagan Idol: It’s the Tahoe birthday girl’s actual birthday, so we’re set to escape even further tonight — to a magical, tropical bar downtown. The tiki hut is reserved, the drinks will be flowing and I’m practicing my “luau” for the occasion. Added bonus: The excitement of tonight’s festivities are about the only thing getting me through today. And, the promise of a warm space away from the cold, rainy outdoors is even better!
Today marks my second San Franniversary, so I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learned since moving here. Bonus: It’s apparently (and arbitrarily) San Francisco Appreciation Week! If I’m missing anything, I’m sure you’ll all let me know 😉
1. Never, ever, EVER call it “San Fran.”
I realize I broke this cardinal rule in the very title of this post, but I believe a pun makes it OK. (I haven’t gotten an eye-roll yet in my empty apartment, at least.) For some reason, SF residents absolutely cannot stand calling their beloved city “San Fran.” It’s “SF” (pronounced “ess eff”) or “The City” (though I still save that for NYC). And I’m guilty of the hatred toward “Saaan Fraaan,” too. It strikes a nerve, sounds sooo country and feels like a betrayal to the Bay Area. Even worse: “Frisco.” *shudders*
2. There won’t be a heat wave in August.
It goes against everything you’ve ever been taught, but bring sweaters and jeans if you visit SF in August. With an average temperature this year of 58°F, you’ll thank me later. Easiest way to spot tourists here each August? They’re wearing overpriced Golden Gate Bridge sweatshirts from Fisherman’s Wharf, because they figured it’d be hot like everywhere else. On the flip side, September and October are our warmest months. I don’t make the rules; I’m just sharing them.
3. NorCal is very different from SoCal.
I haven’t personally experienced Southern California yet, but I’ve heard enough comparisons to feel confident in this lesson. NorCal is bourgie and techy, chilly and pretentious — while SoCal is beachy and sprawling, warm and pretentious in a different way. Also: Don’t expect me to “pop down” to San Diego or LA while you’re there on a weekday, since they’re 400+ miles away. I still love you, though 🙂
4. We work smarter, not harder.
Work/life balance is a constant topic of conversation here, almost to a fault. I haven’t worked in the smallest of startups — so there is some variation — but for the most part I believe SFers find efficiencies in their work, suggest changes to organizations’ processes and don’t have to prove their worth by how many hours they work. We value getting in, getting shit done and getting out to live life away from office walls.
5. We take our wine and our sports seriously.
This should come as no surprise, given electric playoff seasons from the Golden State Warriors, San Francisco Giants,and San Jose Sharks — plus the recent resurgence of the Oakland Raiders. Even the 49ers and A’s fans are fiercely loyal. And while wine and sports don’t necessarily go hand in hand, you can’t be just south of Wine Country and not have a strong appreciation for vino. Cheers to that.
6. Oakland is SF’s cooler cousin — and kinda too cool for me.
I haven’t explored nearly as much of Oakland as I’d like to, but what I have seen has been mostly awesome. The Fox Theater is a phenomenal concert venue, there are awesome restaurants and bars to try all over Downtown, Lake Merritt and more. Get comfortable with the BART map first, though, as I’ve gotten turned around and spent way more time on the train than is ever necessary for one human.
7. Trolleys are not the same as cable cars.
This is a lesson I’m still learning, as anyone within earshot is quick to correct me when I mistakenly identify a trolley (or streetcar) as a cable car. The key difference is how they’re propelled, which is exactly why I can’t seem to keep them straight. All I really know is, both types are adorable and strangely efficient forms of transportation — provided you avoid the stops at each end of the cable car lines.
8. Public transportation is laughable.
Ask me two years ago, and I’d say I would never, ever miss the MTA. But being out here, I miss the subway nearly every damn day. MUNI is inefficient, dealing with traffic and breakdowns and shitty people who refuse to follow the rules. BART is a hot mess of its own. And while I understand this city wasn’t built for the massive influx of people, it’s frustrating to feel like there aren’t any major changes in sight for affordable, efficient, reliable public transportation.
9. Uber, Lyft and Chariot are godsends… mostly.
It’s no wonder, then, we freaking love rideshare and shuttle services. Since Uber and Lyft were founded here, we’re often a test market for new features (and promos!) before they’re rolled out nationwide. I relied heavily on UberPool with my last job, since my 2.5-mile commute would take more than 50 minutes on MUNI. I’m now blessed with transportation reimbursement from my employer, so a shuttle service like Chariot (also founded in SF) makes commuting and getting around SF a breeze.
10. SF is a fantastic place to live.
There are plenty of challenges living in a big city with rich history and recent gentrification. It’s easy to take it for granted, but it’s truly become my favorite home. Whether making jokes about Karl the Fog; braving tourists on Golden Gate Bridge; or enjoying the quirky, eclectic local vibes, SF will always have a special place in my heart.
As of this writing, my sister-in-law will be induced any minute to begin delivery of my second niece… and I can’t contain my excitement! It’s been absolutely incredible seeing my first niece grow and develop over the past two and a half years, and I know she’ll be an amazing big sister. Baby will likely arrive tomorrow, but I’m celebrating now anyway. We won’t quite be birthday twins, but she’ll always be a firecracker in my eyes.
Here’s what else I’m celebrating:
- Anchor Brewing: One of my work teams visited this brewery for a tour last week, and it didn’t disappoint. My fave so far is the Meyer Lemon Lager — perfect for a sultry summer day. Anchor also has a spectacular setup at AT&T Park’s neighbor, The Yard, where you can enjoy craft drafts alongside America’s favorite pastime.
- 4th of July: Speaking of ‘Merica, it’s only fitting that we start celebrating its birthday (and mine) early. The US of A is turning 240, after all. I’ll be camping in Tahoe with my boyfriend and a group of great friends, but no matter what you’re up to, keep it classy and stay safe!
- A Wireless Weekend: And now, speaking of Tahoe, I’m pretty pumped to go off the grid for a few days. My cell reception will be spotty, which is just what I need for a bit of rest and relaxation. As long as my niece arrives before then, I’m OK with missing birthday notifications on my actual birthday.
- Miley Cyrus – “Party in the USA”: I know, I hate me too. But what better way to get the people going than with such poetic prose as “Noddin’ my head like yeah / Movin’ my hips like yeah”? It’s cheesy and awful but the perfect party earworm for Lady Liberty (plus, a hefty payday for Jessie J).
Was last week a whirlwind for you all, too? Even with Thursday off from work, I can’t quite believe how fast Thanksgiving came and went. Oh, and it’s December. Where does the time ever go?
- “The Talented Mr. Ripley”: Speaking of time, step back to the 1950s (or 1999, because that’s how far behind I am) and soak up this thrilling tale of deception and lust. The book was better — yes, I’m an asshole — but the movie is pretty damn good.
- Ryan Gosling Hosts SNL: If time continues to move at warp speed, then Christmas come early indeed. My love for The Gos has become a parody at the office, but my excitement for Saturday is fully genuine. Here’s hoping there’s at least one shirtless sketch!
- “California Christmastime” – “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”: This CW show continues to surprise me week after week, and this finale number from Monday’s episode was another showstopper. It’s a little more referential to SoCal than San Francisco, but all Californians alike are finding ourselves.
- Spiced Pork, Squash & White Bean Soup: I’ve obsessed over Blue Apron for most of this year, and there are often recipes I’d repeat again. But never have I felt so compelled to share — this soup not only made about five servings, but it was so easy to make (once you hack through the squash)! Enjoy 🙂
It’s that special time of year when families gather to feast, feud and frolic to the store for 1/2 off sweaters. Don’t you just love it?
- Magz Is Here: My favorite mom arrived last Friday and is here for the week. She’s seen and done so much already, but I’m looking forward to more QT together these next few days.
- Macy’s 88th Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade: It’s tradition. Watch the parade tomorrow at 9 a.m. EST (or record it on your DVR if you plan to sleep in like us). Can’t wait to see Papa Smurf, Snoopy and all the other iconic characters!
- Terrific Tours: Our first excursion was us a daylong trip through Sonoma’s wine country with Terrific Tours. I can’t recommend their services enough — we saw FIVE wineries, tasted more than 20+ varietals and had entertaining stories throughout the day!
- “All About That Baste” – The Holderness Family: Magz introduced me to this family foursome, known for silly song parodies. I think Meghan Trainor would be proud, #noskinnybritches and all.
Wishing you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving weekend!
I know I say it a lot, but I am truly exhausted today.
Why, you ask?
Well, I spent the last few days in San Fran looking at apartments and working from my new office, and then returned to New York on a red-eye this morning. No less than three cups of coffee later, and I’m finally certain that it is, in fact, Wednesday.
- Oren’s Daily Roast: I wouldn’t have survived today without my favorite downstairs baristas at Oren’s. If you want frou frou, go to Starbucks. If you want exciting flavor combos and coffee that tastes like coffee, check out this NYC staple.
- Out The Door: Back in California, some friends gave me a crash course on the SF food scene via OTD. Everything we tried was delicious, particularly the crispy salt & pepper squid salad. Yum!
- MUNI: It’s weird to be obsessed with public transportation — and its bus component, no less —but as someone who loathes the buses in NYC, I applaud SF’s city planners for thinking this one through. MUNI is easy to navigate and well-maintained … we’ll see if I’m still singing the same tune come October.
- “Leave the Night On” – Sam Hunt: I can’t put my finger on what it is that makes me gaga for this song, but I’m hooked. It doesn’t hurt that Hunt is foxy and he mentions Cali!