Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Guess what Martin got me for x-mas?!?!?!

A digital camera of my very own!!!! It's tiny so I can carry it around with me with ease and grace (aka in my bag). I think the real reason he got me a camera was because of this - every single time we would go somewhere (a park, Seattle, down the street) I would be all, "Oh, take a picture of that," or "Take a picture of this," or "TAKE A PICTURE!!!" And he would smile, and look at me funny, silently saying, "But I don't want to take a picture of this or that." Sometimes I would wear him down and he would do it. Now, I can take the pictures myself and I don't have to be such a nag!!! Here are some of the pictures I took last night when I got it.

My very 1st shot with my new camera of my cute, but at the time sick Martin.

This is the Threadless shirt that was my x-mas gift to Martin.

Me trying to take a picture of myself but not knowing how to turn off the flash so I just blocked it with my finger creating a creepy blood red tint to the light.

Us - Martin was on the computer and I was still smitten with my new camera. You can kind of see that he's laughing at me. It's in his eyes.

Dude! We laughed so hard after seeing this picture. It totally looks like he's gone crazy and decapitated my smiling head.

Also, the camera can record little videos!!! Martin was excited about me being able to post them to the blog. You'll definitely be seeing more of the parks and San Francisco as I start to wander around with it. Now I just need to get a memory card that holds more than 10 pictures at a time. :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

15. Twin Peaks Park

We did it! We walked (!!!) all the way from our apartment to Twin Peaks and back. The map above (right click and open in a new tab/window to see a larger version) shows our route and the graph at the bottom shows the elevation change. It was only 2.8 miles to get there, but it was an uphill journey.

Here are some pictures ...

You can barely see downtown behind me b/c it was a little rainy when we first got there.

I love that it looks like he was sneezing, but really it's just a weird smile moment.

Martin belly laughing with the Sutro Tower behind him.

A close up on my eye.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Merry

We decided to get a house plant instead of a tiny x-mas tree. This way we'll have greenery all year long, if all goes well. I have a notorious brown thumb. We've named the plant Princess Lucienna III. Or Lucy for short.I hope everyone is having a lovely x-mas day. We're off to enjoy a beautiful day by checking out the view from Buena Vista and then walking downtown to see Benjamin Button. Then, we're making a vegetarian dinner with some Quorn turk'y roast, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and ginger beer.
We're missing all of you friends and family out there in the world. Love you all lots!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tour of SF Parks initial tally

It's been a quiet weekend. We didn't make it to another park because of x-mas shopping and general housekeeping chores, but I thought I would make a list of the parks that we have been to just so that we have a running tally.
  1. Golden Gate Park & the Panhandle - we went the first day we were in the city and wandered a bit in the Botanical Gardens.
  2. Mission Dolores Park - it was so close to our sublet. One night we bought sandwiches and sodas and ate dinner sitting in the park as the sun set.
  3. Duboce Park - my favorite dog watching spot. Tons of people bring there dogs to play in the leash free area here and it's near the trolley stop.
  4. Alamo Square - also right around the corner and made famous by Full House, I mean, the Painted Ladies.
  5. Buena Vista Park - I posted about that trip already but visitors beware Martin has decided this is a must see if you come to visit and it's a definite up hill journey.
  6. Corona Heights Park - a perfect light rock climbing spot with amazing views.
  7. Union Square Park - I went with Danny when he came to visit a while ago and we saw a free modern dance performance that was really cool. Oddly though there's a lot of concrete here for this to be called a park in my opinion.
  8. Washington Square Park - we ate sandwiches here when Martin's sister Sara came to visit for T-day.
  9. San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park - we cycled through here on our first ill-fated journey to see the sea lions.
  10. The Presidio of San Francisco - BUT only the shoreline part w/Chrissy Field. We haven't made it to the inside part yet b/c it's rather hilly and I'm a wimp.
  11. Precita Park - a small neighborhood park that we stopped at on our way up to Bernal Heights.
  12. Bernal Heights Park - so windy. If you zoom into the picture of me on the top, you will see me making a really weird face. That's me in the process of whimpering about how cold it was up there.
  13. Coyote Point County Recreation Area - we went here with Chris, a friend from college, back in September one afternoon. It was a ten+ mile bike ride on which I was often lagging behind. We did cycle right by the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge on our way there.
  14. Ocean Beach - not technically listed as a park, but I think it should be. We walked on the sand and flew our pocket kite.
The next ones on our list are:
Here's a really neat video of the sunrise from Twin Peaks. I don't think we'll make it up there early enough to see that though. It's quite a hike from where we are.
Twin Peaks San Francisco Sunrise (HDR time-lapse) from Chad Richard on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sappyness for the Season

Martin found this wonderful band called Little Joy. We've been listening to them a lot lately. This one always makes me smile and puts me, oddly, in a holiday mood. I hope that it makes those of you with someone special in you life think of them and grin like it does for me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Never Blend In

We went to see Milk at the Castro Theatre! It's an amazing film that shares such an important, moving story about human rights, making a difference, and the engaging Harvey Milk. Not only was I overwhelmed by the film, I was overwhelmed to be seeing it in the Castro Theatre. To walk out and see the street where so much happened was a unique expereince.

It's interesting to be in a city that has such a rich history and focus on local politics. There were over 20 city ballot measures when we voted this year ranging from the funding for the children's hospital and the 911 service to the re-naming of the sewage plant to the George Bush Sewage Plant (unfortunately, that one didn't pass).

On election night, Martin and I wandered over to the Castro after we heard that Barack won and Prop 8 was still pending. Here's a picture of the party that was going on in front of the theatre. It's fun to live in such a progressive, open place where people still believe and work to make the city, nation and world a more accepting and safe place.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The SF Tour of Parks begins!

The Saturday before last, Martin and I took a walk up to Buena Vista Park. We'd gone up once before when we first moved here, but hadn't been back even though it's right around the corner from our house. When we first went up sunbeams were streaming through the trees creating a beautiful, surreal atmosphere. Martin and I grabbed a muffin and hot chocolate from Coffee to the People and enjoyed the many views of the city through the trees.

While up there, we spotted the nearby Corona Heights Park and decided to venture over since it wasn't too far of a walk. Unlike Buena Vista, Corona Heights has no trees, really it's just a big hill with some rocks on top. The view from the top is pretty amazing though. You can see all around. Martin thinks it would be a great place to watch the sunrise or set.

While on this little hike, Martin and I hatched the idea that it would be fun to visit a new San Francisco Park every sunny Saturday. Thus our Tour of SF Parks was born.

This past Saturday, we were headed to Bernal Heights when it started to rain. We detoured to the local food co-op to get some yummy granola for breakfast this week, and when we came out, the storm had passed. So we trekked up to the top of the hill. It was windy! We saw a number of dogs with their owners in the park area. There were also some hawks hovering in the breeze keeping an eye out for lunch I imagine.That's me on top of Bernal Heights Summit. I'm not sure what our next park is but I'll be sure to let you know after we get there!

Friday, December 5, 2008

2 Trips to the Golden Gate Bridge

After 3 months, we finally made it to the Golden Gate Bridge, twice! The weekend before T-day Martin and I decided to take a bike ride. It had been weeks since I'd actually ridden. We decided to cycle through Pacific Heights - the rich people neighborhood - to the Marina, Crissy Field, the Presidio and the Golden Gate Bridge. We also stopped by the Exploratorium, but we didn't go in. Here's our route...
All in all it was a rather long day on bike and on foot, but it was a lot of fun.

Then, when Martin's sister came in town for Thanksgiving, we offered all of the neat things we've seen and haven't seen as options for her Friday tour of the city.
We ended up deciding to ...
  1. Take the F Market Trolley down to the Embarkadero to see the sea lions.
  2. Walk up to Little Italy and Chinatown.
  3. Take the bus to the Marina and walk through Chrissy Field and the Presidio up to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Here were the (random) highlights that emerged ...
  • Our trolly driver was totally crazy. He had a northeastern accent, cursed a patron for not pulling the cord, and offered important advice about pick pockets on the trolley.
  • Stopping by Molinari Delicatessen in Little Italy for sandwiches for lunch and eating them in Washington Square Park.
  • A live frog in a bucket of dead ones in a Chinatown meat shop.
  • Walking along the bay (when we cycled we were on the street and not on the walking path).
  • A hipster guitar player in the historic earthen works along the path to the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Watching a family try to stuff a giant Christmas tree in the door of their multi-million dollar house.
Most of all - getting to spend time with Sara, Martin's oldest sister. She headed back to Phoenix the next day along highway 1 with some beautiful blue skies. It was nice to spend time with her, and hopefully, I'll be able to post some of the pictures she took.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

News from Italia

A few years ago, when I graduated from Emory, I ran away to Italy. While I was there worked as an au pair for a family. I lived with Flavia and her three girls - Alice, Irene and Viriginia.

Alice was the oldest, in her first teenage rebellion against her mother. She was very attached to her scooter/moped and wanted to become a mechanic. I remember Alice being very sweet and welcoming to me. I could tell that beyond her tough, teenage facade she was a kind and gentle person.
Me and Alice
Irene was the middle child. She was very distant from me for most of my time there. I can't blame her since she'd seen au pairs come and go all of her life. She also had a closer attachment to the au pair just before me, Camia. She was very interested in fashion and wanted to have very little to do with speaking English. We did bond over the OC and I was glad that I got to celebrate her birthday before I came back home.

Camia and Irene

Virginia was the youngest and she was amazing. I spent the majority of my time taking care of and playing with Viriginia since the two older girls were pretty much self-sufficient. I noticed from the start that Virginia had a theatrical flare. We would sing and act out made-up operas together all of the time. She had a nack for being a clown. I remember her showing off by doing the Charlie Chaplan trick of trying to pick up a hat and kicking it at the same time. I did my best to encourage her in her natural talents in singing and clowning. She was a natural star and totally stole my heart.
A few months ago, I heard from a friend in Italy that Viriginia had been selected to be part of an annual international singing competition held in Italy called Zecchino d'Oro. I can't tell you how excited and proud I was. The competition was held at the end of November. At the bottom are two videos of her singing her song for the competition - "Giochi di parole." One she sings solo with the choir and the other she sings as a duet with an Italian singer named Francesca Alotta.

The children's RaiUno website (in Italian) has a section on the competition. It looks like Virginia got 2nd place! If you click on Personaggi on the side there are profiles for all the singers with photos. Virginia's the the 8th one. My Italian is pretty rough, but I know it says she likes Hilary Duff's singing and Ashley Tisdale's acting in High School Musical. She plays tennis and something about her parents. She likes pasta with tomato sauce and her favorite animal is the tiger. She dreams of singing when she grows up. Her favorite part of being in Bologna was sining with the other children.

Monday, December 1, 2008

28 months

And we're still
as crazy
as ever!
Maybe San Francisco is a good fit for us!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lauryn's new art project

One of the things I do really like about this city are the street stencils. Everywhere you go here and there are little spray-painted, tags on the sidewalks. I guess I like to look down when I walk. Anyway, I've decided to take Martin's camera with me on walks in order take a picture of every single stencil that I see. I think we're then going to plot them on an interactive map online or something. I did one walk a few weeks ago as a test. Here are some of my favorites (I took over 50 pictures!).

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Yum! This was the only shot of the amazing meal that we cooked up for T-day. Between the three of us (me Martin, and his sister Sara), we made enough food to feed 2 or 3 times as many people. It was fun though, and I'm proud to say that everything was veggie friendly. We all had Tofurkey for the first time and it was remarkably good (and saved us from having to make stuffing). I made my green bean casserole with all of my dad's special tricks to make it better. Here's the recipe ...

T Menard's Extra Special GB Casserole
  • french fried onions - French's is a great stand by and has the basic recipe on the package
  • cream of mushroom soup - 1 can
  • milk - 3/4 a cup (and real milk works better than soy)
  • fresh green beans - as much as you like, but pre-cook them a bit if you don't like crunchy beans
  • fresh mushrooms - as much as you like, but try to get small ones
  • fresh garlic - one large clove or two smaller ones, minced
Wash fresh ingredients. Break longer beans into easier to eat pieces. Keep mushrooms whole. Combine all ingredients (except for 1/4 the can of french fried onions) in a casserole dish and mix well (you want the garlic spread out). Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Top with extra onions and bake for 5 more minutes until the top is golden brown. Let cool for a 5-10 minutes before eating so that everything sets.

I know it's exactly the recipe on the box, but the addition of fresh beans, mushrooms and garlic make a huge difference. The mushrooms get all juicy and wonderful - like stuffed mushrooms without the stuffing. And if you like crunchy green beans like me, then using fresh ones is perfect.

It was so nice to talk to everyone in Mississippi and sounds like you all had a great time there. We missed you all a bunch! I hope that everyone I didn't talk to in Atlanta and elsewhere had a lovely day. I am thankful for all of you and that you're here reading about our expereinces out here in SF.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

As promised

Here are some pictures of our place in the Lower Haight. We're still in the process of decorating. Currently, we're trying to figure out how to hang our paper lamps without attaching them to the walls or ceilings. I think we have it figured out and it should be a fun project that I'll be sure to share later. Until then, enjoy these meager offerings...

Our house number lit up at night.

The view of the fire escape out the right side of our bay window.
The view out the left side of our bay window.

Our photos from the Musee Mechanique on the fridge.

The kitchen, which now has a microwave as well.
The top of our dresser.

Our bathroom window and toiletries.

Me, taking a picture of me, in the bathroom mirror.
The birds Tanya got for me in India that are hanging by the closet.

Our enormous light fixture.

The light fixture in context of our bed and desk.

Our fridge and dining area.

Detail of what's kept on the island/table/counter area.

It's small, but it's home. I'll try to have Martin take some better pictures at some point.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Friendly faces cont.

The weened after Krista's visit, we packed our backpacks and hopped on a plane to Seattle. We went to see Erin (Martin's sister), Jacob (Maritn's brother-in-law), Avah (Martin's niece) and Cole (Martin's nephew), who were in town for a conference.
We got in on Saturday around noon and took the bus from the airport to downtown Seattle. After grabbing some Thai food for lunch, we walked down to the Olympic Sculpture Garden. My favorites were a piece by Richard Serra entitled Wake and a piece by Roy McMakin entitled Love and Loss.
We headed back into town to check into our hostel - the Green Tortoise. When we got there, a street swing band and dancers were performing right outside. The hostel was right outside of the Pike Place Market, which was a neat place to wander in and through. We saw Erin, Jacob and the kids that night, but they were in a totally different time zone having flown in from Ohio that afternoon, so we let them get some sleep.

The next morning we had breakfast at the hostel. We got to meet a lot of people from all over the country and world - DC, Portland, China, New Zealand. It definitely was a much more friendly and open breakfast than those I have experienced at hotels.

That day, Martin and I walked to Lake Union and then to the touristy area - you know the place with the Space Needle (no, we didn't pay to go up). We found some good coffee (I know, hard to do in Seattle) while we waited for Cole and Avah to have a nap at the hotel. We met up with everyone at the Children's Museum where Avah and Cole had fun running, crawling, jumping, painting, etc.

We took the monorail back into the downtown area and put Cole to bed. Avah got to go with the adults to dinner. She and I had some fun trading incomplete, but hilarious knock knock jokes. I had a lot of fun playing with her and realized a little bit how much I really do miss teaching creative movement.

Martin and I caught a late showing of Burn After Reading once dinner was over. Those Cohen Brothers really are darker than I expect them to be. Amusingly, at a few points in the movie, they poke fun at Seattle.

The next morning, Martin and I took the kids for a walk with their grandparents (Jacob's parents) while Erin attended Jcaob's award ceremony.

That afternoon, Martin and I wandered over to Seattle's Chinatown. On the way, we stopped at the public library. And by the way, Seattle has the most kick ass library ever. I would love to go there to study, read, journal, sit and stare. It's really fun to wander around.
In Chinatown, we stumbled upon a community garden built into a hillside. It was nice to sit down outside and just chill. The weather in Seattle was really nice. I think it was because I went to the trouble of bringing an umbrella. Overall, I think both Martin and I fell a little bit in love with the city and hope to be able to head back there in the future. But we won't be losing any sleep over it.

PS - So, we flew Virgin Airways and apparently before each flight they have some sort of game to give away stuff (head phones, a free drink ticket, etc.). Before the flight home, the crew was playing music and having people come up if they knew the title and artist. Half way through they said anyone who also sang along with the song got an extra prize. Everyone who knows me knows where this is going. The next song they played was this one and I'm proud to say that I knew the title, artist, and sang my heart out so that my sweetie and I could have a free drinks on the way home. I love random karoke.