My Etsy Shop

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas At Our House

Christmas Day at our house was a quiet affair. We had already put up the tree and Steve had arranged "The Village," which is a collection of little houses and figures that were his mom's, on the mantlepiece. We'd had thunder, lightning, hail, rain and lots of wind on Christmas Eve...which is probably why Santa only left us a handful of presents under the tree this year. What? You think it might be because we weren't good enough? Awwww....

The sun broke through the clouds and we decided to get some fresh air, heading out to Ocean Beach, where a few bold kite surfers skipped along the whitecaps and choppy waves. It was still chilly and windy out there. We had a blustery little hike on the Coast Trail along with happy dogs and their happy humans. Lots of the dogs were sporting new Christmas duds.

Someone found a unique "canvas" to draw on along the trail. You never know when creative inspiration is going to hit.

The next day we received the phone call that the weather was clear enough across the pass, so the Oregon Reinhardts were going to make the trek. We flew into action, preparing for their visit. Here's a shot of the happy group by the Haight St. entrance to Golden Gate Park.

The logistics of gathering up and transporting 12 people around a holiday weekend busy city were a challenge, but everyone rose to meet it. The cousins enjoyed each others' company roaming the Westfield Downtown Center, dropping some cash at Abercrombie's and the food court; while the adults quietly dined at a bistro around the corner. The visitors stayed at the Nikko in 4 diamond luxury, rather than attempting to crowd into our already crowded tiny house.

Here's Pete and Deb enjoying big city life for an evening.

Saturday we all met by the park, enjoying lunch (table for 12??) at Park Chow before walking through the park and taking in the view from the de Young museum tower.

Niece Kaya enjoyed the view from the tower, as did nephews Sean and Luke.

Steve & I left the group to explore Haight Street and beyond while we hurried home to get ready for the triple birthday party. I got these flowers at Safeway and tried to recreate an arrangement I had seen in Martha Stewart Living magazine for probably 1/3 the price.

We can fit about 10 around our dining room table, so we set up a big kids' table in the living room for volunteers Kara, Patrique and Sean. The giant mushroom lasagne worked to feed the hungry crew. After dinner, Uncle Steve showed some Reinhardt family home movies in the garage to round after round of rowdy laughter.

We all sang Happy Birthday to the three birthday boys, David, Steve and Luke before feasting on cake and Christmas cookies. The Oregonians returned to their rooms at the Nikko, except for Luke, who had his own night out on the town. He met some celebrants who were happy to buy him a drink when they found out it was his 25th birthday.

It was a long drive for a couple of days' visit, but I think everybody had a pretty good time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidaze

Steve wore his traditional holly bow tie to work on Christmas Eve. I picked him up from BART and we went over to the library to drop off/pick up books. Steve was excited to go to West Portal because he had a full Noah's bagel card to turn in for a dozen FREE bagels. They were out of the normal ones, so he got these gross red ones. Then we popped next door to Peet's where they were giving out free coffees today. You are supposed to donate to a charity, so we did. Nothing makes Steve happier than getting things for FREE. Merry Christmas, dude.

Steve took this shot of me and Gloria at Steve's company holiday party last week, long before my feet started to kill me and the endless skits, videos, speeches, presentations made me beg for mercy. Gloria is always so fashionable. That night she was looking very elegant in this long red suit dress.

The HR department did a lovely job on the centerpieces. I would not have thought that black & white table settings would work for Christmas, but they sure pulled it off. They even had silver chargers and deep red silk napkins. Very chic.

I rescued the Christmas cookies last night from an imminent ant attack. They are now safely stored in the fridge. (The cookies, not the ants...) We're going to Marie & Mark's tonight for a quiet Christmas Eve supper. Then tomorrow we're hanging out at home and cooking a turkey breast. We're anticipating the arrival on Friday of either: 10 Reinhardts from Oregon or, nobody. It depends on how bad the snow is in the Siskiyou pass Friday.

Happy Holidays everybody!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Baking

Years ago I found myself unemployed before Christmas and had a lot of time and not so much $$$, so I decided to bake a whole bunch of cookies to give to family and friends as gifts. They were pretty popular, so I kept it up for many years, even after I was back to working full time.

I used to make about a dozen different kinds, tie them in little saran wrap packages with color-coded yarns, package them up in decorative tins, wrap the tins and then box them up and mail most of them across the country. It got so that people would start calling the beginning of December asking, "When are you making the cookies?"

It got a little out of hand when I found myself getting so stressed out about how I was going to get them all done that I was getting sick, so I reluctantly decided to end the tradition.

I guess I got bitten by the Christmas baking bug again this week. Steve's been crying because Mother's Cookies company went out of business and he can't get his favorite seasonal gingerbread men anymore.

So I pulled the box of cookie cutters off the top shelf and dusted them off. I used to really have the methodology down, so I could crank them out quickly. I'm a little rusty. I can't believe I used to mix them by hand for years before Steve got me my Kitchen Aid heavy duty mixer.

There's never enough counter space in my 1960s designed kitchen, so the kitchen table gets covered with cooling racks.

The icing is the messiest part, but sort of the most fun part too. Now the trick is to store them somewhere the ants (and Steve) can't get at them all before Christmas. I'll never forget the one morning the day after Christmas when I was sitting at the table having my coffee before going to work and noticed a line of ants snaking from the windowsill across 3 walls and directly into my tin of Christmas cookies that I had been saving for us until Christmas. Tears were shed.

Monday, December 1, 2008

"All I need are some tasty waves..."

Yesterday we had planned to tackle some yard work, but it was such a gorgeous day and hey, gas is down to less than $2/ we headed down the coast to Santa Cruz with a plan to meet our friend Jack for dinner. We noticed huge waves all along the coast heading south. Arriving in Santa Cruz with hours to spare before Jack would get off work, we drove along the pedestrian walkway which runs by the shore north of the Municipal Wharf.

A crowd had gathered near the lighthouse. We parked the Accord and went to check it out. We know next to nothing about surfing, but found out that this spot is called Steamer Lane, and can be prime surfing territory when the winter swells are up.

Steve caught some of the action with his new(ish) camera. Here are some of his shots.

I was transfixed for a couple of hours watching these guys. These were not your beginning surfers. It was amazing watching the sets of waves come in and the surfers trying to position themselves to catch a ride or at least not get totally smashed by the waves. Sea lions were getting in on the action too, leaping and diving into the waves alongside the surfers.

There was a group of professional photographers and videographers catching the action right in front of us. I don't know if you can even see the tiny specs that are the surfers in this photo. (Maybe you can if you click on the photo to get a larger version.) Steve had to use his zoom, which is not quite like the lens this woman is using.

The diehards were still out there even after the sun had set. I was serenading Steve with "If everybody had an ocean across the USA..." as we headed out.

A few weeks ago, we happened upon some more "tasty waves" by Fort Point in San Francisco. It's right under the Golden Gate Bridge. If you've seen the Hitchcock movie Vertigo, it's where Jimmy Stewart pulls Kim Novak out of the bay.

This was also not surfing for beginners. I've never seen the waves so big there before or seen so many surfers in the water. It was cool.

Like Californi-ay...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

We're having a nice quiet Thanksgiving Day here in partly sunny San Francisco. I made pies earlier. Pumpkin and apple. These photos are for my niece Casey, who is celebrating Thanksgiving in Senegal and is slightly homesick.

I'm thankful for living near Pt. Reyes. Steve has to work tomorrow, so he took last Friday off and we went up to Limantour Beach. This Ring-billed gull hung out by our blanket the whole time we were there.

It was a glorious day. We took a hike on the Muddy Hollow trail, which we later found out was actually closed (oops!) They are doing construction on it, but it looks more like DEstruction if you ask me. Supposedly they are returning the landscape to a more "natural" state. We saw a Virginia rail, which is a fairly common bird, but hard to see, as they are secretive. Steve saw a mammal swimming in a pond. We thought it might be a mountain beaver, but not sure.

When the sun started to go down, we drove up the hill to a lookout spot and parked the car. I got out to watch the sunset and I heard coyotes calling back and forth to each other across the canyon. Some calls were close to us. Finally the coyotes came together and started all yipping. It was such a wild sound. Really cool.

I hope you all are enjoying your Thanksgiving Days.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sanibel Shell Shadow Box

I finally put together this shadow box of shells that I collected at Sanibel Island, Florida in 2001. I've had the idea to do it as part of my bathroom redecoration for a long time, but just got around to completing it this week. I got a nautical chart of Sanibel Island off the internet and printed it out at a low opacity for the background of the shadow box. I even figured out how to use a hot glue gun.

Sanibel is known for its fine shelling beaches. It is uniquely situated facing east/west on the Gulf of Mexico and the sand extends far out from the island, dropping off very gradually, so the shells do not get crushed, but roll gently onto the shore. They have a shell fair every year there too.

Steve took this picture of a pile of shells on the beach there. So now you're probably less impressed with my collection, aren't you? (I think we might have planted some good ones in this shot.)

I really got into the shelling while there. They even have a shell museum which we visited. The best time to look for shells is just after the lowest tide and early in the morning, before the beach has been picked over. The last day we were there, I got up before the sunrise to go shelling and Steve took this picture. I'm SO not a morning person. The only things that get me up before the sun are birding and shelling.

Steve also took a nice photo of one of the beach bikes that our inn lends out to guests.

One thing you need to know if you are going to collect shells and bring them home is...they get really stinky if they are not washed and dried properly. I put mine in a tupperware container and it was really ripe when I opened it a few days later. Here's the whole collection.

The other really cool thing about Sanibel Island is that a big portion of it is a National Wildlife Refuge called "Ding" Darling NWR. Their specialty is wading birds. You can see spoonbills, ibises, all sorts of egrets there. It's wonderful, but don't forget the bug spray.

Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling was an illustrator, well, a cartoonist. He was also an early conservationist.

Now I want to go back there. They even shut off all the lights on the island at night so that the baby sea turtles don't get confused after they hatch and are trying to navigate by moonlight back to the sea.

My next project is to paint two faux natural history "prints" of these seashells to frame and hang over the bathtub. I hope that these will not take me as long to complete as the shadow box.

Friday, November 7, 2008


During my water running class at the Y this morning, 3 of the lifeguards kept circling the pool, staring down at the water and carrying a net on a long pole. At one point, Courtney put on a mask and latex glove and dove down to the bottom in the middle of our class, coming up empty.

Finally they located what they were looking for. Horst blew his whistle and declared, "Emergency, everyone out of the pool immediately!" They wouldn't tell us what they had found.

Reminded me of the famous Baby Ruth scene from Caddyshack.

Ok, well I can't always be highbrow.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Can Breathe Again

I feel like I have been literally "waiting with bated breath" for this election to be done already. Here in San Francisco we had 12 state and 22 city propositions to vote on, which I think is insane. The city voter pamphlet was almost 1/2 inch thick! And then the state one was another quarter inch of pages to wade through.

We decided to attend the Troubletown Election Night Party at this bar out by the beach called the Riptide. I know Lloyd and his wife Hae from serving with them on Graphic Artist Guild committees. You may know Lloyd from his illustration for the Airborne package.

Funny, there's a bar back in Marblehead called the Riptide (locals call it "the Rippa.") We got there just as the networks were calling the election for Obama. The place was packed with jubilant people. It was so crowded that we had to stand on a bench outside and peer through the window to watch McCain's concession speech.

Here's Steve and our friend Annie standing on the bench. Annie's from Paris. She did not get to vote, but she is glad that now she can go home for visits and not be embarrassed to live here anymore.

Lloyd had hung an "interactive map" just inside the front door of the bar. They were sticking chocolate dipped madeleines on for the blue states and saltines for the red states.

Our friend David, who's quite tall, managed to stake out a spot by the wall for us, so we crowded in with everybody to watch Obama's speech from Chicago on the video screens. There was a lot of cheering and clinking of glasses and beer bottles. When we got home, someone was shooting off fireworks.

I thought that this piece I heard on the radio was interesting. Perspective from commentator Brenda Payton, who thought her parents would never see "two little black girls living in the White House."

Too bad that Prop 8 passed.

I haven't been posting much lately, I know. I'm still very bummed about losing Esther.