birthday trip to san francisco, part 1

so I have a discovery to share with you: san francisco has the most beautiful weather!!

i know everyone says it’s cold and rainy and windy, blah, blah, blah. well, turns out, they are lying! really, i know this to be true because i went there and it was perfect! and it’s also, pretty and fun and bustling and creative…
which leads to the obvious conclusion: everyone that lives there is lying through their teeth about the weather as a means to keep the entire country from moving to their city!! secret is out.

okay, so now that that is cleared up, here is the recap of our trip, mostly in pictures, with some words in between.

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FRIDAY
we kicked off our weekend by taking virgin america for the short, one hour flight, to san francisco . virgin is pretty hip. they have mood lighting (as shown) and screens at every seat with music, games, online ordering of food, a map tracking your location/altitude/speed, satellite tv, etc, etc. and you can IM people all over the plane based on seat number. not that i did… but i could have, and that is the point.

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when we made it to san francisco and to our hotel – the intercontinental in union square, which was very new and very big and very nice – michael saw the clean room with the big, white, smooth, untouched comforter, without a wrinkle insight, and he immediately did this:

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he is 26. in case this made you wonder.

SATURDAY
since we had, literally, only 48 hours to see the city, we got moving fast. we were out of the hotel room by 8:45am and on the move.

first stop: chinatown
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i’d read about a fortune cookie factory that you can find by going down a little alley in chinatown. i really, really like seeing things get made, especially things you can then eat, so we obviously had to go.

we found it, we saw it, we bought the cookies.

surely the freshest fortune cookies we will ever eat. very crunchy.
michael got a fortune advising him to focus on the color purple to bring him luck.
mine said to be frugal.
i’m pretty sure the fortune cookie gods got our fortunes swapped on accident.

next up: cable car ride
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we caught a cable car in chinatown , rode about ½ a block, then came to an incline, and then the car broke and came to a complete stop. so we sat in a stationary cable car, in the middle of the street, for about 5 mins until a big truck came and literally pushed us up the hill! the truck driver got us to the top, gave a little friendly two pulse honk, and off we rolled down the hill. i’m not sure if getting pushed by a truck made the ride more or less authentic…?

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broken or not, our ‘special’ cable car got us here:

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and then it was time for breakfast. adding to my obsession with michael’s iphone is its ability to yelp on the go. (yelp= user restaurant reviews) you can type in ‘breakfast’ and ‘near current position’ and lo-and-behold there’s a very highly rated little café just 3 blocks from where you’re standing, on a street you probably wouldn’t have wondered down had yelp not guided you do it. now replace all of those “you’s” in the previous sentence with “we’s” and that is what we did.

so, we found pat’s café and had this for breakfast:

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after breakfast we were off to firsherman’s wharf, with a view of alcatraz island, and to hang out with the sea lions.

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after the wharf we made our way to the golden gate bridge. we wanted to walk the bridge but didn’t want to do it twice, so we walked to the half way point and back. good enough for me.
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by the way, i read that it’s the most photographed man made structure in the world (i don’t think I believe this, and michael definitely doesn’t believe it, but that is what my fodors book told me) and just in case you’ve never seen a photo of the golden gate bridge (you have!), here it is:
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and in case you’ve never seen a photo of us in front of the golden gate bridge (you haven’t!) here we are:

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(just ignore that really ugly chain link fence. this just happened to be the view available when we found a single girl that we deemed to look trust worthy enough – and frail enough to outrun and tackle if need be – to hand our camera to take our picture)

next we headed the the golden gate park just to wander around and around…
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and look at nature…
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and finally, after alllll of this, we were completely exhausted! so we went back to the hotel for a rest. buuuuuut first we grabbed a sandwich to split (of avocado, goat cheese, celery, watercress, and walnut pesto – so good) at wichcraft on the way.

After a nap and some tv we were ready to head back out to meet my friend melanie (we went to school together and she’s now living in san fran) for dinner at Citizen Cake, which was our third, and final, very good meal of the day.

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……… stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of our 48 hours in san francisco.
(this just already a really too-long post. i’ll be back with sunday’s recap tomorrow!)

the birthday post!

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i had a wonderful 24th birthday (yesterday)!

my dad prepared dinner, michael made a cake, and blair and kayla came over to help us eat it all. (which was a very good thing since there was enough food for twice as many people!)

we had a pizza (appetizer), flounder filets stuffed with crab meat, grilled steak, salad, and corn on the cob.

Dessert was michael’s interesting take on birthday cake (see above), and two kinds of ben and jerrys ice cream. 🙂

just as good as the food were the gifts.
from kayla: two pairs of earrings
from blair: wonderfully fancy butter from my favorite downtown restaurant (where she also treated me to a birthday lunch date earlier in the day) and a conversation block for book clubs for my book-club-one-day-to-be (really it’s only a matter of time)
from my dad: pink flowers, dinner for us all, and a big, big book on the Beatles
i also got a birthday package for my mom via mail with two books, the game bananagrams, and a gift card.
and promise from my brothers that i’d see their gift, “before the end of the year.”
oh, and i got lots and lots of phone calls, emails, and facebook posts! thank you to everyone!

michael is going to get me a pretty camera strap to replace my very utilitarian black and yellow one that came with our camera. But i get to pick it out and i haven’t done so yet. and, he got me flowers as well… her brought me lilies which happened to be pink, like the flowers from my dad, so he put his previous flower shop work experience into action and combined them into one bouquet – michael was feeling creative (cake making and flower arranging!).

the only ‘problem’ with the whole night was that i hardly took any pictures for you to see!! i took that one up there of the cake, and i took this one of the table, below, and all the rest come courtesy of blair. glad someone was on the ball. : )

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my birthday week is wrapping up with michael taking me on a weekend trip to san francisco!! it will be the first time for both of us (not counting trips taken before we were old enough to make and retain memories) and we leave tomorrow on virgin america (how fancy!) : )

pear-caramel ice cream

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here is the recipe for the pear-caramel ice cream we made for our dinner with kayla and blair.
a few have asked for it, so i thought i’d just put it here for all to see.

ingredients:
3 med. ripe pears, peeled and cored
3/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp sugar
2 c. heavy cream
1/8 tsp coarse salt
a few drops fresh lemon juice

method:
dice pears into 1/4″ pieces

spread sugar into large, non-reactive, heavy-bottomed saucepan. cook sugar over med heat, watch carefully. when it begins to liquefy and darken at edges, gently stir, encourage heat of the liquefied sugar at edges to melt the sugar in the center.

once the sugar is deep amber, stir in pear pieces. the caramel will seize and harden, but keep cooking and stirring to remelt any hard caramel as the pears soften. cook for 10 mins until pieces are cooked through.

remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the cream, then mix in remaining cream, salt, and lemon juice.

let cool to room temp, then puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. press mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any pear fibers (we don’t have a strainer, so we skipped this, but it turned out fine).

chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze in ice cream maker.

recipe from The Perfect Scoop (D. Lebovitz)

cali science center

the other day, michael and i paid a visit to the california science center. we went because we’d never been and also because it was free, and we are all about fun for free. but of course, didnt think about the fact that there’d still be parking money involved, which became a problem when we pulled up and the man asked for $8. i emptied my wallet of the $7 i had and told michael to just add a buck. well… true to form, michael didnt have a single dollar on him. not one. and all we could find in his car was a quarter. that’s it! ay yi yi

so we had to kindly bat our eyelashes and smile sweetly and he gave us the dollar discount.
he even let us keep the quarter. : )

so anyways, that was all beside the point. im really writing because im so excited about the photographic evidence that my constant state of being cold is not, in fact, in my head (as many claim) but i am, physically, cold!

here we are in front of a infrared, heat sensing camera.
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and here are my cold, lifeless fingers interwoven with michael’s, warm blooded ones.
and i wasnt even cold here. not at all!
i don’t know why i was so pleased about this… but i was.
i felt vindicated.
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another fun thing at the science center:
a dancing screen.
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and a not so fun thing:
the aging machine (technical term). according to the california science center this is what i will look like if i make healthy life choices (wear sunscreen, no smoking, eat healthy…)
soooo is this supposed to be my incentive!?!?
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eek!