#52- Something something Punchline

Punchline San Francisco

Headed in

It’s been maybe a decade since I’ve attended a live comedy show.  Not sure why it’s been so long, since the cost is equivalent to a movie pass these days, and you’re almost guaranteed a lot more laughs for the same amount of time spent in a movie theatre.  But I realized I needed a good laugh, so this was #52 on my list.

We had 4 comedians total, with the headliner being Dan Mintz.  You could google him yourself to see all his accolades, but it wound up not meaning much to us, as we found his humor to be pretty … unhumorous. Or at the very least, not our style in the slightest.  I didn’t ever think to analyze a comedian until that moment, to try and figure out why he didn’t appeal to me.  He was nothing but one liners after one liners that were obviously completely made up because he went from talking about his girlfriend to talking about his wife to talking about being a virgin to talking about his grown kids.

On the flip side, there was the opening act from Sacramento who was very relatable with his bit, because the stories he told were current. Current and something we had also experienced (like Obama’s daily emails). Hysterical!

Anyway, 3 out of 4 isn’t bad, and I wouldn’t mind doing comedy clubs more often, it’s worth the ticket price in my book!


#63- Bourbon & Branch

Bourbon & Branch was stop # 2 on our Date Night, and # 63 on my Bucket List.  For anyone who is looking for an awesome Prohibition-Style, A+ Speakeasy… this is your destination vacation!  It was so true to form I found it a bit ridiculous, but in a good way.

Bourbon & Branch San Francisco Speakeasy

The Entrance

For starters, you need to make reservations ahead of time and get a password, which you must “whisper” to the hostess at the door in order to get in.  There are a list of house rules, which include no photography… so I felt weirdly nervous when Blake started ‘sneaking’  a few shots with the camera. I didn’t want to get kicked out! The inside is gorgeous from the velvet wallpaper to distressed hardwood tables & booths.  The ambiance overall is very sultry & a bit naughty.

Bourbon & Branch San Francisco SF Speakeasy

Bourbon & Branch San Francisco Speak Easy

What I really liked about this place is how obvious the proprietors and staff truly care and invest in the experience customers have.  Our waitress was very well versed in every selection on the menu, knew the ins & outs of the different spirits and made recommendations, which turned out to be excellent.  I ordered the Cucumber Gimlet, as recommended by Yelpers followed by the French 75, as recommended by our waitress.  Both were smooth as …. well I don’t have an accurate comparison, but I will say the cocktails were so perfectly mixed I felt like I was sipping on my most favorite summer drink.  I even liked Blake’s drink orders, which is a testament to their goodness because he loves his stiff drinks and I never have until Bourbon & Branch made them.

I’d like to go back sometime, and I would recommend it to anyone who finds the Prohibition Era & Speakeasy life style appealing.  Tho do take your phone or a small flashlight with you for restroom use-  Even the lights in there are so dim you can’t see the toilet, which is brilliantly painted black. hm.

#82- Welcome to Fort CCP!

Natalie has taken it upon herself to build plenty of mini-forts in our living room, as I am sure many of us did when we were kids.  But, even when I was a kid…. I was never FULLY satisfied with the Fort I built.  It was usually too small, the blankets would keep falling down, or my parents would start nagging that they needed their living room back. I figured Natalie felt the same, since most of her fort building moments ended in tears or disappointment.  What to do, what to do?

When I was considering how to go about # 82 (Build an elaborate Blanket Fort with Natalie) I realized I could not do this alone, with just me and her and our small collection of oversized blankets. It just would not be as fantabulous.  At first, I tried to enlist the help of my girlfriends, who loved the idea but rarely got back to me on dates & logistics.  That’s a big problem for me, only because I have a deadline here!  Where do I turn to next?  Where might I find a group of contained children with blankets to spare and parents just as enthusiastic?  Natalie’s Preschool of course…..

It didn’t take much convincing, actually it didn’t take ANY convincing with the teachers to pull this off.  First, I’m pretty persistent.  Second, I’m a Preschool Teacher by trade so they know that I know what I’m doing.  With the help of CCP HMB’s Site Supervisor, we emailed all the parents and hit them up with reminders to bring in their largest blanket to borrow for this creation.

I spun a web around the playground using some donated heavy duty twine, which was fun in itself.    Then, 60 blankets and 200 clothespins later, we had a HUMONGOUS fort!  The kids loved it!  And I have to say, I am now very much satisfied with my fort-making abilities 🙂

#24 A long overdue visit

In the past 4 years, Blake and I lost 5 of our grandparents. I don’t think many people can find the right words to describe their thoughts on death, and I won’t claim to have the right words myself.  But here is one of my attempts at it…

I don’t like that it still remains such a mystery, and forever will be.  I sometimes think that the entire concept of religion came to be because people were simply just trying to understand death.  And Jesus was the number one, world’s best salesman because he sold most of the world on something we want to hear and want to desperately believe- that there is an afterlife and we will see our family again one day.

I don’t like that I sit here and hold my infant child with such an overwhelming feeling of love, and it occurs to me that my grandmothers once did the same.  I don’t like time, for this reason.

Alice Faye Minnema

My grandmother passed away before I was born. My grandfather passed away when I was 15.  They are buried next to eachother in  Lodi, but for many reasons I never visited their gravesite since my Grandfather’s funeral. I didn’t remember where it was and I didn’t ask. For me, hearing and telling stories was all I needed to mourn and remember.

But, with the more recent deaths of our Grandparents, I realized I wanted to know and wanted to visit (#24). At first I told myself it was out of respect, but then I started thinking that is such a cliche phrase -‘out of respect’- what does it really mean? I’ve always respected my grandparents. Do my grandparents know whether I visit out of respect? Maybe? Who’s it for? I don’t know. But, I reason that I did it for myself and I did it for my Dad.  Out of respect for our family.  We drove together out to Lodi, had a great visit, and placed orange tulips at his parents site.  It was nice.  I didn’t know they had tulips engraved on their stones, so I was very pleased it fell into place so nicely.

I’m not sure how often I will visit now that I know where they are buried. It’s not exactly local, but I have passed thru the area before so maybe I will make it a point next time I find myself nearby.  For now, Blake and I have our own tribute that will always be in our home.

#94- To Worship

St. Anthony's Church Pescadero

St. Anthony’s Church, Pescadero

My idea behind attending a religious service other than that of my own church upbringing was for two specific reasons: 1) It was an assignment during my Master’s program that I “faked,” thus leaving me with a guilty conscience and 2) There is a mansion on the outskirts of Half Moon Bay that I drive past all the time which happens to be a Buddhist… temple? House of faith.  It looks super fancy with all the mercedes, lamborghinis, ferraris, bugatti’s in the parking lot and a huge glittering sign written in a language I cannot decipher.  Thru googling alone I discovered it was Buddhism, but no where on it’s gated entrance or on the internet does it say I am welcomed.  Phooey! I want in!

But alas, I decided I rather put my money in an offering basket where it was welcomed and needed. Believe it or not, I’ve never attended a Catholic Sunday Worship Service. Weddings, Funerals, Quinceaneras, sure. Mass? no.

This experience was more intimidating for me than one might think, too, because I chose a Church that was incredibly small with not many regular attendees.  Living on the outskirts of Pescadero, a town of 600, I had heard through the grapevine that both the Catholic Church here and the Community Church here are hurting for members.  Maybe not so much donations (tho that is nice too) because the churches are overseen and managed by an alliance of Churches that keep small places like these afloat. For me, my personal preference has been to go unnoticed at church. I don’t know why. Maybe I know why but rather than explain it.  Nonetheless, to walk in to a Catholic Service where I don’t know customs/rituals/etc. and hope to go unnoticed amongst the 25 or so in attendance, well, that’s not going to happen.  And it didn’t happen. I don’t know why I thought it was such a big deal.  Maybe because I didn’t want to give them the false hope that I’d join the Catholic Faith and boost their numbers. I didn’t want to be honest either and tell them they were part of my own little social experiment.

St. Anthony's Church Pescadero

St. Anthony’s

But it didn’t matter in the end because no one asked.  Besides some smiles and hellos, no one wanted more from me.  It turns out Catholicism at this church is much like my own home church. I enjoyed the service, the message and reconnecting a little with something I’ve been lousy at keep up.  Mornings are hard for me to get up and get 2 girls going with.  Though I’m not looking to make excuses because I know many women take no issue with wrangling much larger families than my own to church.

I suppose if I could do this task over, I might really go for the gold and attend an Islamic service.  If I am welcomed.  I think I was hoping simply to expand my horizons and worldly understandings.

#65- A Good Old Fashioned Chili Cook Off

Chili is a common dinner menu item in our home.  I’m not really sure why, cause even though I like chili, I’ve never craved chili to the point where I’d want to take a full day of whipping up all the multiple ingredients and stewing it in the crockpot for 8 hours or more.  The chili out of the can always suited me just fine. And even then I saw it as a last resort I-don’t-feel-like-cooking item.

But somewhere along the line it was suggested that I make it from scratch, so I did, and at that point Blake said it was really good so whenever he asked for it, I obliged.

Then, I began making it for him to take on his hunting trips where he swears the guys at the camp really liked it as well so I needed to keep making it every season when he went hunting.

At some point I did enter a chili cook off, but it was a fumble on my part because I did not properly calculate the time needed to prep, mix, stew, etc. so when it came time for judging it was a flop.

Over the years I think I’ve slowly made progress with perfecting a recipe.  Sure, there have been a few times where I really screwed up. One time, Blake said he wanted it really REALLY spicy so I puree’d a few jalepenos, anahiems, serranos and habeneros together (in addition to some crushed fire ants) and tossed that in, only to have Blake choke down 3 bites before giving up.  I do feel slightly proud that I finally made something too hot for him, however, as usually his biggest complaint about my cooking is that it’s not spicy enough.

Perfect Blend of Spices!

But, in the back of my mind I was wandering how good my chili really was.  And because of this, I wanted a do-over with my Chili Cook-Off entry. So I put #65 on my list.  I googled Chili Cook Offs around the area but nothing really appealing showed up.  Then, one evening I happened to be having a conversation with Tacy Currey.  I told her I wanted to see the progress they were making on their “broken house” out at Currey Ranch to which she replied, “Well you should just come to our Chili Cook Off next month.”  Chili Cook-Off ?!?!  Yes please!

Chii Cook Off

John explains the Rules for judging, which were almost entirely incorrect. Thank goodness his wife was there to correct everything 😉

John & Tacy hold this event every year for the past 3 years out at their Ranch in Dixon.  Not everyone who shows up  has to enter a Chili, they could also enter the Corn bread Bake-Off or just bring a side dish to share.  This year, I forgot to count but I think there were about 10 Chili entries.  Mine stood apart from others because I chose to use venison, instead of beef. Blake recently came into possession of a Buck who’s main diet happened to be brussels sprouts….. so our diet lately happens to be 78 pounds of buck.  I was a little worried that my chili again was too spicy. I didn’t put in a single pepper this time around but I did do the standard chili powder, which for me was plenty.

Chili Cook Off!

Commence Chili Cook Off!

Several of them were very good, so I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to win, especially cause I thought the heat in mine would deter some folks.  I think there might have been about….40-60 people in attendance? But it was such a nice evening, I enjoyed just being in good company. So, it was a complete surprise when Tacy announced the winner!

And all with a baby in tow!

Crowns never looked good on me. Which is why I am so thankful I was never Homecoming Queen.  Thanks to John & Tacy for a great evening! I guess I’ll be back next year to defend my crown 🙂

#57- Gerbera Daisies like cold weather, right?

Somedays, Heather and I seem night and day from each other.  She, a flaming liberal Nurse living in sub-zero temperatures in Minnesota. Appearance including dreadlocks and ornamental live cats. Me…. the opposite.  But, then there are moments that prove we are soulmates, like ranting about the Satan-inspired Homeowners Association on Facebook. Or, like showing up to our Senior Ball unknowingly wearing the same thrift-shop Chinese Dress get-up….  

Heather, Eric (her date) and me!

Naturally, when it came time to write this blog I wanted to post a photo of us in our prime, middle school glory days, when we first met.  But after rifling thru all my photos, I found some of her, but none of me AND her.  How could this be? I immediately demanded Heather go thru her pictures and email me one… but she came up with nothing as well. So strange. So soulmate. ha!

Anyway, the purpose of this blog is #57 on my list- send an old friend some flowers.  I hemmed and hawed over this one for…. 10 months.  Heather and I talk at least once a month by phone, sometimes more.  Recently, so many wonderful things have been falling into place for her and her husband, and I found myself randomly putzing around my home smiling when thinking of how happy I was for them. That’s when it dawned on me- HEATHER is who I want to send flowers to! And, it was even a small adventure cause she’s out in Minnesota, and I have no idea who’s a good florist and how her workplace (a hospital) handles flowers. I assumed it was be easy, and luckily Heather was surprised at work the same day I called and placed the order.

Greetings from Minnesota!

So, I called her hospital to double check their procedures and then Yelped a good Florist nearby. I also prank-dialed her house a few times to make sure she wasn’t home. hehe.

I love you Heather!  Can’t wait to see you in December 🙂