California Rainin’

After my Lake Tahoe and Sacramento adventure with Cely, I made my way to San Francisco to spend the next few days with my good pal Dawn. I mentioned in my last post that I took the Amtrak train (very similar to the GO Train in Ontario) and I’m so glad Cely told me about that being an option. I was going to rent a car but it would have cost me at least $100 just for that one day and then I would have had to deal with traffic and the stress of driving on rainy unfamiliar roads. The train was leisurely and only $33 (American, but still big savings). It dropped me off outside of the city and then I just hopped on a shuttle bus that took me right downtown. I had planned on taking an Uber over to Dawn’s hotel but it was only about 2km away and it wasn’t raining (for once, it rained most of our time in SF) so I decided to hoof it through the financial district.

I only had a carry-on suitcase and it didn’t love being dragged over the cobblestones on Market Street but I made it!

Dawn and her colleague Lynne had been in SF for a conference all weekend and were staying at the Hotel Diva on Geary Street right by Union Square (the outskirts of the Tenderloin, which looks pretty fun but has some sketchy areas — we asked our Uber drivers what area of the city we should go to if we were looking to get robbed and they all said the Tenderloin). I was only in this area for one night but our immediate area seemed super fun. I also have to recommend Hotel Diva. Our room was cute and we LOVED the guys working the front desk, they became our temporary friends, and they had free shots in the lobby every evening!

Again I was only here for one night, but Dawn and Lynne raved about it also.

They also had a TV that took selfies, so we took one with a new friend.

After I dropped my stuff off and settled in, we walked around the neighbourhood until dinner (we asked the lobby guys which streets to avoid and I felt very safe there).

For dinner we went to Colibri Mexican Bistro, since it’s attached to Hotel Diva and is rated on of the top Mexican restaurants in the city (second best I think!). We ordered a bunch of stuff to share.

All delicious. Not the best Mexican I’ve ever had but still very good. I also ordered the corn on the cob, I’ve been big on getting that lately at Mexican restaurants, but sadly it was either over or under cooked so not the best.

Our server was awful though. I think she just forgot we were there. That was our biggest complaint about the place.

After dinner we were chatting with a gay couple in our lobby and they were recommending places for us to go for a quick drink (it was Sunday so we weren’t looking for anything crazy) and one of the places they told us about was a bar called Kozy Kar. They mentioned it had waterbeds as booths so that obviously sold us. We headed there immediately when we heard that.

It was the craziest bar Dawn and I have ever been to. They did indeed have a waterbed in a booth.

Made a new friend in there. And yes I know a waterbed in a bar may not be the most sanitary but I was on vacation and decided not to worry about that.

They also had a hot tub booth.

On the TV screens they showed 70s/80s cereal commercials mixed with 70s…uh…adult movie clips. There were also naked lady cards blown up and used as floor tiles, Playgirl magazine photos in all their glory covering all the bathroom stalls, a stripper pole, mannequins, and who knows what else. We loved it. WELCOME TO SAN FRANCISCO!!!

Dawn asked Lynne if it was the most outrageous bar she had ever been to and Lynne responded that actually, it was the only bar she had ever been to. Whoa whoa wait WHAT?! Great, we’ve corrupted her. We explained that this was not a regular bar setting and not to get too excited because it basically goes downhill from here. She should probably just not ever visit another bar so as to not be disappointed.

We stayed for a couple drinks and then headed back to our hotel to tell the lobby lads about our Kozy Kar adventures and show them our pictures.

They liked.

Monday was the rainiest day we were there so we had mostly indoor activities planned. We woke up and hit the gym, which I was so glad to do after eating and drinking all the things all weekend. After we showered we moved all our stuff to our next hotel. Lynne was leaving that evening so Dawn and I were moving somewhere a bit less expensive for the next couple of nights, San Remo Hotel. It was the cutest. ever.

We had the tennis themed room

It opened in 1906 and is one of the oldest hotels in the city. It’s right on the border of Fisherman’s Wharf and North Beach, so great location, and cheaper because there are shared washrooms, though you do have a sink in your room. It wasn’t like a hostel, however. Each toilet and shower was in its own room with a door. Our actual room was small but there were a lot of common areas if you wanted to hang out somewhere. Sort of like a big bed and breakfast. I loved this place and would definitely stay here again.

They had complimentary coffee, tea, hot chocolate and snacks so that made it better also.

After we checked in and dropped off our stuff we Ubered over to the Ferry Building (thank you for recommending it!)

We enjoyed walking through there and looking at all the food places. It reminded me of Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market (though maybe not quite as good? but to be fair we didn’t go on farmer’s market day). It was raining so we couldn’t really check out the outdoor area but inside was fun. Made another friend!

That’s too much to ask, lady.

I snagged some oysters, since those were a big recommendation.

Yesssss. For lunch we went to that Japanese fusion restaurant in there and it was pretty good. And you know I got ice cream from Humphrey Slowcombe.

After wandering around in there for a couple hours we got in another Uber to take us to the Castro (gay district), but our Uber driver was so awesome he wanted to take us on a tour of the city once he found out we were from Canada. He drove us around for about an hour and didn’t even charge us, so that was super nice of him.

He took us down Lombard Street, the most crooked street in the world!

You can’t tell from the photo so here’s one from Wikipedia.

The hill was too steep to have a straight road on it so they made eight crazy turns instead. The hilly streets are CRAZY. I would not want to be driving a vehicle with a manual transmission in that city.

We were telling our driver all about Canada (the conversation ended up going there with most of our Uber drivers) and we were saying we didn’t understand the need to own a gun, as we’re not big on guns here (we can’t legally own them, except hunting rifles specifically for hunting and you need to apply for a permit). We can’t even legally carry pepper spray (I do sometimes when I run outside though because I enjoy not getting attacked). Dawn told him that instead of guns, and pepper spray, women are allowed to have grenades. For protection. We just carry grenades around. He was all “WHAT?! I can’t believe you can’t own a gun but you can have grenades!” This went on for a few minutes of him just being bewildered and eventually I felt embarrassed for the poor sucker and told him she was joking. There are no grenades here. I just couldn’t let him leave us thinking Canadian women are carrying grenades around!

After our impromptu rainy San Francisco street tour our driver dropped us off at our destination in the Castro, the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender) San Francisco history museum.

It was a lot smaller than I expected, basically just one room, but it was powerful. You may already know this but San Francisco is one of the largest and most prominent LGBT communities in the world. The museum showed the fights and activism for the LGBT community over decades to obtain basic rights. The videos were really well done and one that stood out to me had a transgender woman talking about how in the 70s (I think it was the 70s) there weren’t a lot of options for feminine men or drag queens — they couldn’t get jobs as women, and they would be fired from their jobs as men once their companies learned about their lifestyle. So, many were forced to take up prostitution to make a living. It was that or be homeless. I just don’t understand how the way someone else is living their life can offend you personally SO MUCH when it has absolutely NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. The struggle for rights continues, as we know, and it’s so unnecessary. Just let people live! The museum was really interesting and enlightening and it’s only $5 to get in so I’d recommend checking it out if you’re in the area.

After that we headed back to our hotel to leisure for a bit. Lynne was off to the airport so it was just Dawn and I for dinner. It was still raining so we popped into the Italian restaurant attached to our hotel — Fior d’Italia, which opened in 1886 and is the oldest Italian restaurant in all of America.

I needed some pasta in my life so I went with the tagliatelle alla bolognese and the house red wine.

No disappointments there!

After dinner we went for a walk in our neighbourhood over to Trader Joes — I’ve never been and it was everything I’ve been anticipating and more! Canada really needs to get on that. We’re seriously missing out.

And then it was back to our hotel to bed. More San Francisco adventures to come.

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Emerald Bae (and eating)

After our skiing adventure, Cely and I dropped off our rental equipment, walked back to our hotel, cleaned ourselves up, changed into our best plaid and headed out on the town.

And by out on the town I mean into the casinos. Apparently gambling is illegal in California unless it’s on a First Nations reserve (like in Ontario, though I guess we’re able to have slot machines and racing off of reserves), but the good thing about South Lake Tahoe is it’s half in Nevada! Who knew! (I didn’t.) Obviously there is much gambling in Nevada, so there were several casinos around. Our hotel was in a casino, and Harrah’s Casino and the Hard Rock Cafe Casino were both within walking distance — everything was, it was so handy!

As we were walking to the casino we ran into a lady Cely used to work with, as well as her friend and their husbands so we found a $1 minimum Blackjack table and gambled and drank free drinks with them for a few hours. That was super fun. We met a very vocal Trump supporter at our table — the only one I encountered in California (that I know of) and she was from Texas. Her eyes burned with a fiery smugness and she kept loudly proclaiming that she lived in the real world because she lived on a ranch and had grandchildren. Alright. She definitely wanted to engage the rest of us special snowflake liberals about the current political situation but thankfully Cely was able to derail her.

Eventually we parted ways and Cely and I went off to Base Camp Pizza for dinner. There was a bit of a wait so we ordered beer from the bar, took it outside and watched a band playing old school rock on the patio next door. We ended up having to wait for about an hour but we were talking and listening to the band playing Neil Young while drinking beer so it was honestly one of my favourite hours.

Eventually Base Camp let us in. We started with the fried calamari.

It was crispy and delicious and I loved that it came with marinara sauce. For my pizza I went with the personal-sized (like a responsible eater) Base Camp pizza with pepperoni, Italian sausage, roasted peppers and onions and portabella mushrooms. It was perfect and I loved it all.

We had a really great conversation and really delicious pizza so, it was a good time all around.

After that it was back to the Blackjack tables. I was doing well for a while and then I started losing and then suddenly it was 4am and my money was gone. As Cely said, time sure flies when you’re losing money and drinking. I had a really good time but in hindsight we probably would have been okay leaving about an hour before we actually did — I would have been up about $200, I wouldn’t have knocked my beer over on the table (possibly more than once but in my defence there were no cup holders!), we may have dodged a hangover, and we would have avoided an altercation where we ended up being the Big Bad Man-Hating Feminists (Cely summed this up well)… But, live and learn, as I like to say (a lot).

The next morning we were not feeling our best but we dragged ourselves out of bed, got our stuff together and headed to breakfast at the Red Hut Cafe. It was SUPER CUTE and I was excited about my pancakes and bacon.

I don’t feel I appreciated those pancakes as much as I should have because my stomach was being a jerk. Thankfully, after breakfast Cely introduced me to the miracle that is Alka-Selzter and I felt like a new woman!

I still hadn’t seen Lake Tahoe which I had heard was in Lake Tahoe, so Cely took me on a mission to prove its existence. She couldn’t let me leave without seeing the lake and I really appreciate her determination on that. It was still overcast (it was actually nicer in Ontario than in California when I was away which is basically the story of my life) but the snow had stopped and we were able to drive over to Emerald Bay.

And hoooooly beautiful. I’ve seen Cely’s pictures and I know on a bright and beautiful day it has the potential to look like this:

From Wikipedia

But I loved it in all its dreariness! It is a gorgeous area.

I should mention that we were having trouble finding a parking spot by an actual trail so we had to do a bit of climbing to get to the view…

Getting off that thing was fun and we basically just rolled down the bank like watermelons. I also accidentally stepped off the packed snow and one of my legs was suddenly buried up to my hips.

Not sure if that picture does it justice but it was a real pickle. I didn’t fall off the mountain though, so that’s a success. Wouldn’t be the first mountain I’ve almost tumbled down. I do feel like I really embraced embarrassing myself on this trip and I think Cely appreciated that as I took the heat off of her.

Anyway, yeah, the area is gorgeous. I got a bunch of pictures.

After Emerald Bay we went back over to the main lake area.

And the clouds parted for almost a minute and I saw a sliver of blue sky!

After our Lake Tahoe adventure it was time to drive back to Sacramento. I was excited to see the view this time as when we were driving into Lake Tahoe it was dark and I couldn’t see much. We saw a few waterfalls and I loved the trees!

We were going to listen to the first episode of the My Favorite (American SIC) Murder podcast but then we got to talking and couldn’t stop so that didn’t happen. I’ve listened to a few episodes now though and I’m really enjoying it! Once we were back in Sacramento, Cely took me straight to Firestone Public House for lunch so she could introduce me to her favourite pretzel.

Oh, hello lover!

I understand why it’s her favourite pretzel. It was the best giant pretzel I’ve ever eaten in my life and I still can’t stop thinking about it. It was so soft and pillowy and buttery and salty and had pimento cheese for dipping. Just a dream. I’m going to have to try to find a similar pretzel in Toronto. I don’t feel like that mission is going to be a success.

I also ordered the grilled cheese because, grilled cheese, but then it came and I was like WTF am I supposed to do with this monstrosity?

Is that an American grilled cheese? It was extreme. We both suddenly had no interest in eating anymore, which is a rare thing. We took our lunches home. We spent the rest of the day on the couch napping and watching movies which was GLORIOUS (we also may have ordered Chinese food). I met Cely’s sister Sari which was a California highlight for me! I loved her immediately. I had never even met her but I felt like I already knew her. She came in when we were sprawled out on the couch in our fat pants and I just felt so comfortable around her right away, like “hello Sari, I’m Cely’s internet friend and I live here now.”

We watched the Edge of Seventeen which I loved so much I wanted to watch it again immediately after. Instead we watched Fifty Shades of Grey which I hadn’t seen but both Cely and Sari had so they indulged me and eh. We should have just watched Edge of Seventeen again. Watch it!!!

The next morning the three of us went to brunch at Cafeteria 15L with their friends Tracy and Heather. They were both awesome and I also loved my bottomless mimosas and my fried chicken and waffles.


My stomach did not love the fried chicken and waffles and I paid for that later but THAT’S OK because when on vacation. That is PECAN BUTTER!!! Oh it was heavenly.

And then I got my stuff together and Cely took me to the train station so I could make my way to San Francisco. She actually parked and brought me straight to the train which I am so thankful for because guaranteed I would have gotten on the wrong one. Or at least waited in the wrong area for a train that was never coming (done that before).

It was such a fabulous weekend and I was so sad to leave Cely. And Sari. I felt like I had known both of them forever and I told Cely that I just wanted to stay forever and be their third sister. I made them promise to come visit me and I really bigged Ontario up so I feel like I lured them pretty good. They better!!!

If you don’t already read Cely’s blog you need to, she kills me and is my must-read every day. And not even a hate read, I love her! She is just as hilarious and smart in person.

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Trouble in Lake Tahoe

I’m baaaaaaack!!! And I didn’t blog while I was away so you know what that means…endless vacation recapping! I have a lot to talk about so gird your loins.

I left last Thursday morning and happened to bump into my pal Dawnald at the airport!

She was headed to San Francisco for a conference and I was meeting up with her for the second half of my trip, coincidentally our flights out there were at the same time. It was nice to see her for a quick romantic rendezvous.

I was headed to Sacramento, however, and while she had a direct flight to SF, I had quick stopovers in Chicago and Denver. I actually didn’t mind those too much — it took me 10 hours to get there but the stopping broke up the flight time. The Chicago airport was super fancy, too. They had automatic rotating seat covers on the toilets in the bathroom which I thought was pretty cool but also probably unnecessary. They also had personal deep dish pizzas which I totally missed and only noticed after I had already grabbed a sandwich. Stupid. I made the wrong decision!!!

Anyway, I was on my way to meet my long time internet friend Cely for the first time! We have followed each other’s blogs for years (I actually just had my six year blogging anniversary — CRAZY!), and over that time we have emailed and texted a bunch, and we are Facebook friends (so that means we’re real friends) but we have never actually hung out in person. Just on the internet.

Cely was picking me up from the Sacramento airport and on my flight from Denver to Sacramento I started to get just a litttttle bit nervous about meeting her for the first time. We would be spending several days together, what if we didn’t like each other or had nothing in common? But I needn’t have worried. As soon as I saw her I felt like I was meeting one of my best friends. There was never any awkwardness (this is why exchanging long crazy emails for years before meeting is key!), our conversation flowed naturally right away and we spent most of our three+ days together just laughing. At one point we also had a good 20 minute conversation trading stories of falling down the stairs so, I feel like we are awkward kindred spirits.

Someone commented that the two of us meeting up felt like a TV crossover episode, which made us laugh hard. Just like when Steve Urkel was on Full House!

I get to be Uncle Jesse, sorry Cely.

There was one must-eat place for me in California, In-N-Out Burger. I’ve been hearing about it for years but have never had the chance to try it so we headed there after Cely picked me up.

I have to say I was underwhelmed… My burger was good but I didn’t find it to be the most spectacular fast food burger I’ve ever eaten. It was pretty onion-y. However, I heard I didn’t order correctly and I should have asked for my burger to be ‘animal style’. Cely even warned me about this and I didn’t listen. Oh well, you live and you learn. I’d go again and do it right next time.

After our burgers we drove to South Lake Tahoe for a skiing adventure. Cely had warned me the day before that this part of our trip might get delayed since that area of California had been experiencing some extreme weather lately, namely landslides. Apparently the highway we needed to drive on had been closed due to a mudslide and had only reopened the afternoon before. There was also a snowstorm in the area that was supposed to cause some trouble, but thankfully that wasn’t as bad as expected so we didn’t have to postpone our trip. And now since leaving, part of that highway has collapsed into the river. I feel very lucky that we were able to get in and out okay. I joked that the weather out there hated me but it truly could have been much worse.

It was super awesome to be traveling to Lake Tahoe with someone who knew the area. I was totally lazy in my travel research because of this and just let Cely choose where to stay, where to eat, where to ski, etc. since she knew area so well. She also brought a bunch of ski accessories and snow boots for me to borrow, which was great since I was traveling with just a carry-on.

We checked into our hotel (Harvey’s, which I would definitely recommend — our room was cute and surprisingly inexpensive) and then hit up the Stateline restaurant and brewery for a cheese plate.

And some beers.

I wanted to try them all.

I was really excited that Cely was always on the same eating page as me. It’s so nice to travel with someone who is just as food-oriented as you are!

After the cheese and beer we headed back to our hotel and hit da sheets. It was about 3am my time at that point and I was tired after sitting on the plane all day (traveling will really do that to ya).

The next morning we got up early, grabbed a leisurely breakfast (I had breakfast nachos and they were delightful), rented our equipment (we reserved it online in advance which was a good call, saved 25%!) and then took the gondola up to Heavenly.

I’m glad there was this photo of the mountain because it was snowing so hard I couldn’t actually see the mountain and that was disorienting. I had to rely on Cely to tell me about the views I would normally see up there. The snow made it difficult to even see the hill in front of us so I never got to see the lake! That was sad because I hear it’s a spectacular view. I just tried to imagine it.

So this is actually the first mountain I’ve ever skied on. I’ve cross country skied on a mountain in Revelstoke (wrote about that experience here) but never downhill skied. We don’t have any mountains in Ontario so my skiing experiences up until this point have been on very large hills. The biggest difference I noticed was that it takes so much longer to get down a run! I really liked that. It’s been about 7 years since the last time I skied, but thankfully it’s just like riding a bike and I still got it.

I was so thankful to Cely for letting me borrow a water pouch, goggles and that skeleton buff for my face. I felt so badass.

It was a bit more difficult than I expected though because of the weather. We were having some serious depth perception issues — the ground just looked like flat whiteness but there were big snow drifts that we would ski into that would mess things up. There were some struggles, but neither of us had a yard sale (when you fall on the mountain and all your equipment goes everywhere) or fell at all, so that’s a win.

We stuck to mainly long leisurely blues, which are my favourite so I was happy Cely was on the same page about that. Since she knew all the runs I was content to let her take the lead and just follow her red jacket down the mountain.

Unfortunately we got separated at one point and another girl with a red jacket and black pants somehow got in front of me so I blindly followed her for a while. In my head I remember noticing that her ski outfit just got super sleek all of a sudden, but I was concentrating on not falling so I didn’t register that it wasn’t Cely. At one point there was a portion of hill that levelled out and we had to work a bit harder to get across it so I was yelling some snarky comments at her about that, trying to be funny. She glanced at me over her shoulder but didn’t have a reaction other than that which I thought was weird. Then we stopped at the crest of another hill and I pulled up beside her and realized she was not actually Cely. I turned around and saw Cely coming up behind me dying laughing. Whoops. We laughed for a good half an hour about that. Cely said she was worried I was going to blindly follow this lady down a double black diamond or something. Sure glad that didn’t happen. Fake Cely may have lead me to my death.

We skied for a few hours and then took a break for lunch when the snow started coming down harder and the wind increased.

Eating after physical activity is my favourite. That was some damn good chili.

After lunch we headed back out hoping the weather would be better, but unfortunately no, it had gotten worse. The wind picked up, making the lifts (which are quite long) a pretty crappy time because it felt like little daggers of ice were hitting your face. We did a few more runs and then decided we were done. I loved it though and was so glad we skied!

The next day when it stopped snowing I could finally see that yes, we indeed skied on a mountain!

But I still hadn’t seen the lake. I’ll get to that next week though ’cause somehow this got long. In the meantime, Cely recapped all our adventures really well so you can check that out on her blog.

Have a great weekend!

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Celebrating Birthdays and the Chinese New Year

On Friday evening I attended a Chinese New Year event for a freelance assignment I was working on. I mentioned last week that I was just a little nervous going into it because I was on my own and I wouldn’t know anyone, and I suspected I might stand out, which, I totally did. But everyone was super nice and welcoming and it was QUITE a time ringing in the Year of the Rooster.

I think it was my first time seeing a Chinese lion dance in person, so that was pretty intense. I really enjoyed it. I initially was calling it a dragon dance but I looked it up and there is a difference — dragon dances typically have many people acting as the dragon, while the lions only have two (per lion). I was not aware of that. The lions danced to the beat of a drum and were fed lettuce, which somehow symbolizes getting rich. These days the dances are just for show or competition but I guess it was originally believed that the lion would chase away the evil spirit Nian–who feared lions.

There were many giveaways throughout the evening, one was straight up hundred dolla bills, y’all (keeping up with the get rich theme), which THREE PEOPLE at every single table won, but one of those people was not me. Of course. But that’s okay, ’cause you know what I won? A jar of Auntie Hung’s gingered walnuts.

Which were freakin’ delicious. I don’t need no $100 ’cause I have these fantastic walnuts, which are priceless. Evan says I didn’t win $100 because I wasn’t channeling my Chinese “bring the money to me” vibe, which could be true. But I think I didn’t win because I just don’t win things.

There was also a live band that sang throughout the evening.

They were really good, though it was mostly in Chinese. But there were a few English songs thrown in! Just for me.

The people at my table were fabulous, and one woman and her husband totally took me under their wing and made sure that I always got food first and my drink was always full for toasting (there was a lot of toasting). And they explained what was happening onstage because it was also mostly in Chinese, so that was helpful. The servers brought me a knife and fork for eating but GUYS. I know my way around chopsticks! When I started using them my table friends started cheering and giving me the thumbs up. I felt proud.

So the food. I think there were eight courses plus dessert, I sort of lost track but it felt never ending. We started with the crispy pork skin and noodles (edit: those noodles are jellyfish! A got a couple of corrections. I remember a lady at my table saying “sea noodles” so jellyfish makes sense. It was hard to follow sometimes.)

It was pretty good. I ate nearly every last bite of everything in front of me because everyone at my table was watching me and would ask “do you like?!” after my first bite. I would nod enthusiastically. I did like! I liked this the most:

That was my favourite dish for sure.

I thought this was hot and sour soup so I got really excited because I LOVE hot and sour soup, but it was neither hot nor sour, sadly.

It wasn’t bad though, I ate it.

Chicken…

And the fish.

I can’t lie I felt a bit weird about the fish arriving at our table with its head and tail still intact but I was pleasantly surprised about it. It didn’t taste fishy at all and I really liked the taste of the sauce it was in, so, I enjoyed.

Dessert was a sort cold red bean soup with jello in it, which definitely was not something I’m used to, but I actually kind of liked it and I ate it all.

The highlight of the evening was definitely the limbo contest. I did not partake (I’m a large white lady, I could not compete) but watching it gave me great pleasure. It was hilarious.

It was quite a night and I learned a lot and I made some new friends, so that’s a success!

I had a sore throat on Thursday and Friday and as soon as I got home Friday evening it was BOOM. Full on cold. So I cancelled my Orangetheory class on Saturday morning and spent the day mostly leisuring and trying to get better until it was time for Evan and I to head out to our friend Sherrie’s birthday party.

I got that inflatable picture frame at some random store in the Distillery District, such a find.

Sherrie had her birthday at the same bar as last year, The Edge Lounge in Ajax, since we loved it so much. Last year was a highlight for me because my bestie Lisa was in town so I didn’t think this year could top it, but I dunno, it was pretty close.

I was feeling pretty crappy when I first arrived and I was wondering how I was going to get through the night… But then I sort of picked up on everyone else’s energy and the adrenaline kept me going. Evan and I ended up almost closing the place down and I had such a great time!

We had some glasses switching going on…

And a LOT of dancing. I had a bunch of videos on my Snapchat but didn’t take a lot of photos — I keep doing this lately, snapchatting and forgetting to save. Oh well, it was a time.

That was at the very end of the night when we were about to leave so we missed a bunch of people, so last year’s picture for context.

Good times. And now I am off to California! I won’t be blogging while I’m away but I would recommend checking out Cely’s blog next week ’cause I suspect she’ll have some stories up. California is really trying to thwart my visit with their dams breaking and their snowstorms and the sides of their mountains sliding off but I will not be deterred! And you know I’ll be spamming snapchat and instagram with our adventures. Have a great weekend!!!

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Valentine’s Card Regifting

I was thinking about what sort of post I would do for Valentine’s on the ol’ blog this year and was considering some sort of cartoon…but then I kept coming back to my very favourite Valentine’s Day memory, and that’s what I want to write about. It doesn’t even involve a significant other, though my first Valentine’s Day with Evan is a close second. My favourite Valentine’s Day memory is all about my Nana.

It makes me feel good to remember her, so it seems fitting to tell this story this year.

Forgive me friends and longtime readers because I have mentioned this several times so you may have already heard it. Hopefully it hasn’t gotten old.

So my Nana was obsessed with greeting cards. They were her favourite part of any gift to both give and receive. All she wanted from us on any occasion was a card (and pictures of us), and she saved every card her family and friends had given her over the years and kept them in a photo album so she could go back and look at them from time to time. She was sentimental, that Nana.

Her favourite cards to give to us were those super cheesy ones with long messages on both sides written in script. She took her card selections very seriously and would choose the perfect card with the perfect message for every family member. She would then decorate the cards and envelopes with stickers she had bought (for this purpose, of course), and she would write the sweetest messages inside. My birthday card every year, without fail, had the message “May your dreams come true.”

Sometimes in her later years they would also say “Happy New Year!” which I also loved and appreciated.

Nana would watch our faces and truly take in our reactions as we opened and read her cards. Those cards gave her great joy. We would get them for Christmas, our birthdays (and on Christmas and birthday’s those cards came with cheques!), St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and of course, Valentine’s Day (and when I was younger my Valentine’s Day card would come with a Babysitter’s Club book!).

The last few years though, it was difficult for her to get out and buy cards being in the nursing home. One Valentine’s Day a few years ago, she didn’t have a card for me. But she couldn’t just let me not receive a card. Unthinkable. So, she did what any resourceful grandmother would do.

A group of elementary school students had recently made Valentine’s cards for residents of the nursing home, so Nana decided she would just use the card she received from one of the kids.

When she presented this to me I remember thinking “Wow, did they have craft time in here or something?” (which, they should!!!) But when I opened it up I saw that Nana was probably not the original creator of the card.

It may have been the “Nana” over the the whited out child’s name that tipped me off.

I’m sure she appreciated the card when she received it (I’m sure there were proclamations of “wonderful,” “beautiful” and “fantastic”), but she didn’t need a card from this stranger, she needed a card to give to her granddaughter!

I erupted with laughter when I realized what had happened and Nana said “Oh I didn’t make this card! I just…borrowed it.” which made me laugh even harder because Nana, I can tell!!! She totally regifted that card, but I loved that she didn’t just try to pass it off as her own.

I’ve saved the card and I think I’m going to frame it because it might be the most precious card I’ve ever received (it’s certainly the most hilarious). I love the thought behind it so much, that she did what it took to ensure she had a card to give me. I think that’s kind of a metaphor for our entire relationship — she went to great lengths to ensure she was taking care of me, and she went to great lengths to show me that she was always thinking of me. What a Nana she was.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Friday Wrap Up (and help I need San Francisco reco’s)

Guess what! Next week I’m going to California! I’ve never been and I’m super excited about it. Several months ago my good friend Dawn told me she was attending a conference in San Francisco and asked if I wanted to join her for a Danny Tanner adventure once her obligations were over. Pretty tempting… I’ve always wanted to go to SF and what better time to do it? Okay, well, it’s not exactly the most ideal time to visit the US considering everything that’s going on, but I bought my ticket before this shirtshow really got underway and it’s non-refundable so…I’m goin’.

Which leads me to my request, people of San Francisco, or just frequent visitors, WHERE SHOULD WE EAT?! Any must-eat places you can recommend?

You know? I still have regrets about not eating enough in Nashville. We’re looking for at least one nicer dinner, cheaper lunches, cool drink spots, etc. Well, you know what I like. We’re staying in the North Beach area but we’ll be all over the place so we’re easy. I don’t even know what SF is known for food-wise, so I need some help.

I’m also visiting my long time blog friend Cely for a few days while I’m out there, which I am SO excited about. We’ve been internet friends for about 5-6 years now but have never actually met in person, so that’s going to be a time! I can’t believe it’s finally happening. When I told her I was coming out there she immediately offered to host me for a romantic Valentine’s weekend. We’re starting off our adventure in Lake Tahoe, and this is one of the pictures Cely took when she was there a couple weeks ago…

I die. That picture takes my breath away. I can’t even imagine in person. Ah, I’m getting overwhelmed thinking about all the shenanigans.

Other things that are going on…

Tilly is still loving the crap out of her cat tree.

It’s the best $100 I’ve ever spent. She seriously lives in it.

Tilly and Bonnie are still not friends. We still have Bonnie in the guest room with the screen separating them and do an hour or two of supervised visits every day. Tilly is just OBSESSED with Bonnie and wants to harass her all the time, but Bonnie would prefer to be left alone. Every encounter is just soooo dramatic. Tilly will get closer and closer until she’s all up in Bonnie’s face like the below photo, and then one of them will start swatting in the other’s direction and I’ll have to intervene with a feather toy to distract them.

I am seeing improvements though, so I still have hope they’ll be coexisting in a couple of weeks.

The other day I was looking through my Netflix and saw the OA was recommended to me…

Because I watched the cracking fireplace. I’m not sure what my show choices say about the kind of person I am… Anyone watch the OA? Because based on that recommendation it sounds just riveting.

And is anyone watching Riverdale yet?

I was freaking obsessed with Archie comics when I was younger, my bestie and I would spend our summer days reading those on the dock and we still buy them for each other for holidays now. So I was SO EXCITED when I heard they were making it into a show. I don’t know how it hasn’t happened sooner.

Normally I don’t like it when things are changed up too much from what I’m used to and love — Riverdale is a lot darker than the original Archies and the characters are VERY loosely based and I’m not sure what to think of this weird, creepy Jughead (or Luke Perry as Mr. Andrews, or Miss Grundy?!) — but I actually loved the first episode. The second one I didn’t like quite as much, but I’m still hoping it’s gonna be good.

Speaking of Netflix, since I’m technically not working right now I’ve enforced a no Netflix before 4pm rule around here so I can try to be productive during the day. Otherwise it’s a slippery slope and I feel like I’ll just be on my couch in my pajamas all day watching all the things. I mean, I do still spend a lot of time on my couch in my pajamas, I’m currently writing this from my couch in my pajamas, BUT I’m trying to focus on productive things like writing. Though, that’s not to say I don’t spend a lot of time messing around on the internet, which is also a slippery slope…

And speaking of writing, I’m covering an event tonight celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year for a freelance article I’m working on for a travel website, and the event is an EIGHT COURSE DINNER. I feel a little nervous about it, mostly because I won’t know anyone there, but oh man I’m so excited for all that food!!! I’ll report back.

Have a great weekend!

 

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