Friday, December 30, 2011

OBSESSED WITH STRIPES

During my Day-After-Christmas shopping expedition I bought four things at Gap. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was shopping thematically. Dark blue skinny jeans. Navy & white striped sweater. Navy shirt. Navy & white striped shirt. Basically, I kind of, seemingly, love all things nautical. I'm not entirely surprised by this given this year's quest to find the perfect blue paint for the living room, and my obsession with the picture that is our blog banner, but I didn't realize how overt the love was. And then I started shopping online for clothes for our trip to Maui in a handful of weeks. Of course I fell right back into the same patterns as I did the other day.


Of course, I'm also very, very cheap so I'd never buy all of these at one time. Especially since one of these dresses cost more than the entirety of what I got at Gap the other day. But I really, really, really want one of them. I'm thinking the one in the middle, yeah?

While I'm talking about fashion, can anyone out there explain to me why all bathing suits are halter style? I absolutely abhor having that tie around my neck. I feel like it's choking me within seconds of wearing it. I can't be the only one that wants regular straps, can I?

TOP 7 POSTS OF 2011

Since everyone else is doing it, I thought I would too. (I'm such a lemming that way.)

Based on the number of page views this little ole blog has received this year (hi everyone! thanks for reading; I really appreciate it.), the seven most popular posts are as follows:

1. Kindle White Screen of Death
Based on the sheer volume of visits this post received this year, I have a feeling this will also be next year's top post. It seems Kindle has quite the oopsy daisy and there aren't a lot of resources online to find out how to fix this problem easily. Since I'm an insomniac with excellent research skills I was able to find the answer and posted it in the middle of the night for the world to see. And see it they have.

2. Office Space
When I switched jobs at the beginning of this year I started working from home. At the same time that I started my new job Alan quit his old job, which had him regularly working from home two days a week for several years. Because of that, our home office was pretty much his domain. Since he would continue to need the space in the evenings and on weekends (when you're the founder of a company, you're never really off), we had to figure out what do for my working space. This was the beginning of that transformation. I have a feeling the Ikea furniture is what drove the majority of the traffic.

3. Favorite Tablescapes 
As part of the Dare to ... link party series hosted by NewlyWoodwards earlier this month, I posted a round up of holiday tablescapes from years past. (I also linked up to Layla's tablescapes party). I realized that when it comes time for fancy dinner parties or holiday meals, that this year I've pretty much thrown in the towel. I don't have fancy china. I've had the same plates & napkins since Thanksgiving 2006 and I use them every holiday so there's nothing really new or exciting for me to do. This year for Christmas I tossed an extra wreath on the table, plopped a mercury candle holder and pillar candle in the middle, topped it with clementines and called it a day. I didn't even bother to take a picture.



4. Experiencing the Hawaiian Tsunami
We took a delayed 9th wedding anniversary trip this year to Hawaii (only by a couple of weeks). This altered timeline put us on the island the day the devastating earthquake shook Japan. As the ocean there swallowed up whole towns, we were blissfully unaware of what was happening across the Pacific. After spending the day in the Kohala mountains and then chilling out at Mauna Kea Beach, we went back to our condo to cook dinner, drink some beer, and relax. A number of bottles into the evening Alan's dad called to tell us about the tsunami heading our way. As Alan was on the phone with him, my phone started blowing up with text messages from friends across the country wanting to know if we were in the path of destruction. Alan hung up the phone and we immediately turned on the TV to see the horror and tragedy happening in Japan. Now, I should tell you, the three things in life that I am most afraid of are earthquakes, tsunamis, and plane crashes. Irrational, yes, but who said fears have to be rational? I've never sobered up so quick in my life. I told Alan we had to pack and leave. I sat glued to the TV during the aftermath of the tsunami in Thailand and Indonesia and there was no way I was going to putter around waiting to see what happened. Seconds later the phone to our condo rang. No one had the number there so it freaked me out. Then I heard the pre-recorded message telling us to get the hell out of dodge. Say no more! We packed everything we brought to the island, all of our groceries, and bedding into our mustang and drove up to Waikoloa Village, about 500 feet above sea level. I had spotty cell reception up there so I couldn't check the news, but every now and then Twitter would work so I could follow the #HItsunami hash tag to see what others were saying. I also listened to the news all night, hearing first hand accounts of the waves coming ashore in Kauai at the Hyatt. Based on the reports, I knew we'd be okay where we were, but while others were going back down the mountain with cries of "false alarm!" we stayed right where we were, finally returning to our condo around 7 a.m. I logged on to the Internet and saw that people were saying there was no damage in Hawaii after all. People were upset that they had evacuated when there was absolutely no reason to. For whatever reason they were completely wrong. The town of Kona was in a shambles. Hotels were closed and businesses were ruined. Snorkeling coves were a mass of mud. A house washed into the ocean down near Captain Cook monument. The Four Seasons Hualalai had to close for weeks. The Kona Village Resort suffered major damage. The beach in front of the Marriott, A Bay, where we were staying in Waikoloa was completely washed away. But somehow to hear everyone talking about it, nothing had happened. Yes, compared to Japan the destruction was a blip, minor. But people still lost their livelihoods and I think to call that nothing is like sticking your head in the sand and pretending nothing happened at all.



5. Christmas Tour
This is a very recent post so I don't need to say anything about it except that I loved all of the link parties that were hosted this year. It gave me an opportunity to look at a number of houses I wouldn't normally otherwise be able to, and it introduced a handful of new blogs to my Google Reader feed.



6. Hawaii Trip Recap - Day 1
More than any of the vacations we took this year, people really seemed interested in our trip to Hawaii. We've been going to islands almost every year for the last ten years (sometimes twice a year) so it's a place where we really feel at home. And because we've been to each island a handful of times, we don't feel the need to do all the regular touristy stuff. A lot of times we just go hiking or hang out at the beach.



7. Tracing My Heritage
Earlier this year my BFF started talking about her ancestry and it got me interested in the process since I know next to nothing about my family beyond my grandparents. All my life I've been told that I'm Irish, English, German, and Welsh, with absolutely nothing to substantiate those claims beyond the fact that we know my grandmother's family came over from Ireland several generations back. We'd always heard that they came from Cork, but leading up to our trip to Ireland I couldn't find anything to support this. I ended up learning most likely that the Irish side of her family comes from Donegal (Donnelly) and that my father's family actually hails from the Earls of Tyrone in Ulster. Even though my dad's last name is Jones and that is a predominantly Welsh last name I couldn't find anyone from Wales in the family tree and I was able to go quite far back. Also on my dad's side, the bestie was able to trace our family back to one John Williamson, circa 1855 in the Scottish Highlands. I'm Scottish and Irish. Hooray! (Since then I've found out more information about my grandfather's family, tracing it back several hundred years to some fleeing Mennonites from Belgium.)


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So there you have it, the posts you're most interested in from 2011.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

A WEEKEND IN TRINIDAD

Earlier this month we spent a long(ish), wonderful weekend in Trinidad. No, not the Caribbean island; I'm talking about the small town (hamlet? village?) of Trinidad, California, approximately five hours from our home in Oakland.

One of Alan's former co-workers is from Trinidad (his father was both the youngest and oldest mayor of the town), and having recently purchased a vacation-slash-retirement home overlooking the water, he is graciously lending it out to friends. Even though we had just come back from New Orleans mere days before, we jumped at the chance for a quiet, relaxed weekend up along the coast. It was sheer perfection.

I took a half-day off from work and we hopped in the car before sunrise for the journey north. Of course I fell asleep, but Alan reports that once we got past Alexander Valley that the drive was simply gorgeous. We stopped in Hopland to fill up and I was giddy to see temps in the twenties. There was frost covering all of the vines and hillsides and it truly looked like a winter wonderland. We stopped in Ukiah at the Slowest Starbucks on the Planet (TM) for my only egg nog latte of the season before continuing on. We finally reached the house around noon and holy heck it was exactly what I was hoping for.


This is the view from the living room window and the first thing you see after you pass the foyer. I posted this to Instagram within seconds of arriving.

We grabbed lunch at Eatery & Gallery where I kicked off my "To heck with this diet" December by enjoying possibly the largest basket of fried clams & french fries I've seen outside of the Eastern seaboard. I finished up working for the afternoon and curled up on the couch with my iPad to finish reading "A Discovery of Witches" (one of my fave entertaining reads of the year). After some more napping we went to dinner at Larrupin Cafe. My food was just okay, but Alan's meal was especially delicious (cornish game hen with roasted sweet potatoes). And let me tell you, this place was decked out to the nines for Christmas. I have never seen a more awesome Christmas tree than the peacock-themed one they had in the foyer. I wish I would have had my iPhone on me so that I could have gotten a picture. It was that amazing.

We came back to the house and Alan built a fire before we settled in to watch Elf. Unfortunately I fell asleep about midway through. (This was, unfortunately, a theme for the remainder of the month as I also fell asleep during Love Actually and A Christmas Story.)



The next day we woke up bright & early and watched an amazing sunrise from the master bedroom before getting bundled up and heading down to the pier for breakfast at Seascape Restaurant. The reviews on Yelp are weird. People either love or hate this place. Personally, I don't understand the hate. My food was good, the view was spectacular, and the service was fast and friendly. What's not to like?

From there we hiked the Trinidad Head. BEAUTIFUL. That said, I don't recommend hiking it on an extremely full belly. Lesson learned.








After another nap we jumped in the car and drove north to Prairie Creek State Park where we were supposed to stumble upon a giant herd of elk. Most were hiding so we only saw a handful over by the ranger's station, but we did get a chance to take another hike through the forest which was an awesome way to further work off the morning's giant breakfast.






That night we drove down to McKinleyville for dinner at Six Rivers Brewery. This is another place that has strange reviews on Yelp. We thought the food was good, the beers were decent, and the ambiance was exactly what you'd think of from a brew pub. A lot of people report having bad service but we had EXCELLENT service the entire night. If you get a chance to go during the winter, their seasonal brews were the best.

We woke up the next morning bright & early to another stunning sunrise from the bed in the master bedroom.



Later that morning we had breakfast at Beachcomber Cafe as a band was setting up for the afternoon. What I loved about this place was the fact that they had excellent coffee and you could tell this was where all the locals go. Everyone knew everyone else and there were people bringing in their own mugs to be filled. It had the vibe that you hope for with a local establishment but sometimes don't see. I loved it.

When we were parking we noticed there was a holiday craft faire going on in the gym of the school across the street. After doing some Christmas shopping up the street we circled back down to the school to check it out. This is a tiny town (population mid-300s) so I didn't expect a huge number of crafts or people. Some of the stuff was kind of granny and regretsy, but as we were leaving there was a table full of pottery that I stopped at. Immediately I saw two gorgeous pottery mugs that I loved. I figured they'd be in the $16 range so imagine my happiness when I found out they were $6 each! I bought two! We also bought a vase for Alan's mom for Christmas and then headed on our way.

I was sad to pack up and leave but we had a long drive ahead of us and we still wanted to stop in Ferndale on the way home. Trinidad is definitely a beautiful town in a remarkably stunning location. It's far enough from home that it feels like you've gone somewhere, but close enough that we can do it as a long weekend. And our friend's house is just perfect for our wants and needs (perfectly outfitted, but not overly fancy). And the view can't be beat. I'd definitely love to visit again at some point in the future and hit up a few more of the state parks for hiking.