"Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning." Psalm 30:5

Friday, April 30, 2010

Chez Panisse

Big day today!  Several weeks ago we (probably me if I must tell the truth) decided that Chez Panisse was a "must do" while in Berkeley.  We had lunch there today in honor of Leigh Anne's birthday last Saturday, Doug's birthday tomorrow, and Mother's Day next week.


Alice Waters and partners opened Chez Panisse in 1971 and it is the most famous restaurant in the "Gourmet Ghetto" section of Berkeley.   (The Cheeseboard that I blogged about earlier is across the street).  All the food is freshly prepared, organic and locally grown.  My meal was absolutely delicious.   The salad was citrus based with fresh grapefruit, oranges and avocado on greens - so good:)

 I love Indian food and chose the halibut cooked with Indian spices and chick peas and served with cucumber raita. A great choice.  

Leigh Anne had to leave for work before dessert but that did not stop Doug and I.  He had coconut ice cream with strawberries and I had the rhubarb crumble with vanilla ice cream.

Another great Berkeley experience!!!  Thank you,  Doug and Leigh Anne!

Reservations are a must.  We had a wonderful table at the front of the restaurant - almost like sitting in a treehouse.  Excellent service.  Doug and I both love to cook so this was "research"!!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Strawberry Season; Bette's Oceanview Diner

The strawberries have been in season the whole time I have been here!!  People sell them on the corners by the flat ($20) or half-flat ($12).  These are huge and very sweet!!!

Leigh Anne and I had brunch at Bette's Diner today.  Another very popular Berkeley institution that is famous for their pancakes.  Amazingly, I have not gained weight this last month - must be all the walking.  Leigh Anne and I shared an order of pancakes and an order of homemade granola and yogurt.  Very good!!!  Doug missed out - he is studying for finals next week.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Union Square and Chinatown, San Francisco

Leigh Anne and I rode BART into the city today and did some shopping in the Union Square area.  She had received some gift cards for her birthday and found a nice London Fog coat and a cute skirt at Macy's.  I even found a new long sleeve t-shirt on the clearance rack.  It will come in handy in Alaska!   Leigh Anne had fun trying some new make-up.  We also went to Nordstrom's and looked at shoes - the best shoe department anywhere!    We both give Nordstrom's ladies' room five gold stars.  

Then we headed up the street and Leigh Anne noticed Britex!!  Poked my head in but it deserves a trip of its own - and it is going to be fun.   We found a restaurant in Chinatown and shared some great dishes.  Our indulgence of the day was next - foot massages.  Sheer bliss!!!!  We both loved it - but what's not to love?  It started with a ten minute soak in a herb bath and then 30 minutes of massage.  Honestly,  neither one of us would have ever gone in this little "hole in the wall" on our own but we sure made a brave duo.  If you ever get the chance, go for it!  Thanks to my sister, Ardell,  for giving me the idea.

We ended the day with a treat and then headed home on the BART.  I don't know about Leigh Anne but I came home and collapsed!

Knitting Update, etc

My scarf is growing longer!!  Tuesday mornings I go to the local knit shop, K2Tog, to get help and visit with the other knitters.  Ellen, the owner, is always helpful and straightens out whatever trouble I have gotten myself into.  I am getting better - I know when I make a mistake now and sometimes can fix it on my own.  When I get this scarf finished, Ellen is going to show me how to make socks!  Should be interesting.  The second half of this scarf is a repeat of the first half so I think it will go faster - maybe!    Note to sewing friends:  they have some great buttons as well as knitting supplies.  I've never thought of checking local knitting stores for unique buttons.

After knitting, I met Stevanne at Peet's and we had lunch and enjoyed some of the shops in the 4th Street area of Berkeley.  I'll start reading her book, The Contest, as soon as I finish my current book.  She is also known as "Dr. Toy".

I love Craigslist!!!!  I am set with a sublet in Juneau for the summer - Sarah went by and gave it a "thumb's up".  It is on Douglas Island, seven miles from downtown Juneau.  Next up?  Find a seasonal job!!  There is joy!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kenyan Friends

Sunday afternoon Leigh Anne and I drove Margaret and Mercy back to Sacramento.  They had been to Mass earlier in the day and visited with Father James.  Mercy is a big movie fan and had been to Blockbuster with Father James and scored some new “used” movies.  They have quite the system going.  After Mercy and friends have finished viewing them as often as they want, she returns them to Father James and he sends them to Kenya.  After I picked the group up, our first stop was “Texas Roadhouse” for a meal.  Mercy and Margaret were so excited to see the peanuts everywhere – they are called “groundnuts” in Kenya.  It was fun to see the joy on their faces at this simple pleasure.  The manager gave them a bag to take home and we stopped at the grocery store and bought a big bag so they have a nice supply!  After we arrived at their house outside of Sacramento, we were treated to hugs (all I had to say was I was Doug's mom)  and the most delicious Kenyan tea.  Leigh Anne has been wanting a lesson on how they make their tea so I hope I will get to judge her efforts.  I also got to meet and visit with Anthony (age 12) and his mother, Peninah.  They were not able to come to Leigh Anne’s birthday celebration because Anthony had just had a surgery on his burns on Thursday.

To give you a little background, Leigh Anne and Doug have been talking about their “Kenyan friends” for the past year.  Mercy and Anthony were both severely burned during political unrest in their hometown in Kenya.  One day their lives were normal and the next day their life was changed forever.   Margaret’s family owned eight cows, pigs, chickens and grew maize and vegetables.  She sold what her family didn’t need.  Peninah’s husband was a businessman and their family was prosperous.   Within an hour or two their homes and everything they owned was destroyed.  Both families ran to one of the local churches for shelter, but this time even the church was burned.  Mercy and Anthony were two of the most severely burned in that fire.  Margaret saw 14 year old Mercy burning and running for her life.  Mercy was headed for the local hospital and ran for several miles before a good Samaritan picked her up and took her to the hospital.  Margaret and her three other daughters (18, 7 and 2) stayed in a refugee camp for several months.  The first week they had no blankets and just slept on the ground.  UNICEF eventually provided food, etc.   The two year old had health issues before the uprising and died in the refugee camp.   Both Anthony and Mercy were hospitalized for months in Kenya and then sent to Shriner’s Hospital in Sacramento for more treatment which Shriner's provides free of charge.  The Kenyan government pays for the house where they live and some living expenses.  As I talked to these two mothers, I was in awe of their strength and courage.  Margaret’s other two daughters are now 20 and 9.  She has not seen them for a year and Mercy needs two more years of treatments.  The girls are living with Margaret’s brother and going to school.  Peninah has two other children as well, ages 11 and 8, and her husband takes care of them when they are not in school.  Anthony also needs two more years of treatments so it will probably be two more years before they are able to see each other.  Even communication with their families is hard.  Kenya does not have reliable or strong internet connections for the ordinary people.

 Father James, Anna and Leigh Anne have worked together to raise funds so the children in Kenya can go to school.  Anna and Father James went to Kenya for several weeks in January.   The website about their efforts to help these families and others is Runkleworks.   If you would like to help keep their children in school, there is a link for donations on Anna's website.

I was truly blessed today in meeting these families.  I am so proud of Leigh Anne and Doug for being involved in this ministry.  Proud Mom!!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Berkeley Marina

First stop today was The North Face Outlet to get a much needed windbreaker.  The guys there suggested a great little sandwich shop on the way to the marina.    I followed their advice and picked up some lunch to enjoy by the water.  I walked to the very end of the fishing pier at the Berkeley Marina and really needed that new windbreaker.  The picture on the left is from the end of the pier looking back at the Berkeley Hills.  The Berkeley Marina is where most of the family attending Doug's graduation will be staying.  Bring your windbreakers!!!  Besides the fishing pier, marina, restaurants and hotels there is also a huge park (Cesar Chavez Park) and a walking/biking trail and a place to fly kites.  I found a nice bench facing the water to enjoy my lunch.   There were  ground squirrels everywhere waiting for me to drop them a snack.  Little did they know that squirrels are not my favorite animals.  Their cousins have caused me much grief in the past!!!

Next stop was Peet's for a cup of coffee and to warm up.  While there, a very interesting couple asked if they could share my table.  We started talking about my iTouch and branched out from there.  Oddly enough, she is an author and just published a book on divorce.  She invited me to meet her for coffee Tuesday so she could share a copy with me.


Several people have emailed that they have signed up as "Followers" but are not getting notifications of new posts.  After some research (remember I am new at this!!),  I have found out that "Followers" are people that like my blog.  Thank you for following:)   And, yes, it is okay to share the blog.   I have added a new link right above "Followers" that will allow you to link my blog to your Google Reader or Blog Reader (or several others) so you will know when I post.  If you read more than one blog, it is the easiest way to keep up with all of them.  Leah has also sent me info on adding an RSS feed so I'll do that as soon as I have time.

I had a great day Sunday and am working on a post.  Hope everyone has a great day!!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Leigh Anne!

Today (April 24th)  is Leigh Anne's 25th birthday!  The celebration included having a few friends over for dinner and a song fest.  Rob and Anna were there and Rob brought his guitar and played.  Margaret and her daughter, Mercy, are from Kenya and rode the train down from Sacramento.  Mercy is receiving treatment at the Shriners' Burn Hospital.   They have been in the United States for one year and may be here two more years.  Father James, a Kenyan priest, and good friend of Doug and Leigh Anne's also came but was called away before the singing began.  Leigh Anne and I had cooked, baked and cleaned on Friday so all was ready.  Doug even had some cupcakes/candles to celebrate his birthday next Saturday (May 1).

Margaret and Mercy spent the night so they could go to church and a movie with Leigh Anne on Sunday.  Leigh Anne will drive them back to Sacramento Sunday afternoon (with me tagging along).  Doug is back in the "study mode" with finals coming up soon.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Berkeley Rose Garden

The Berkeley Rose Garden was built as a Civil Works Administration  project.  I love seeing these projects that put people back to work during the depression.  There were a few roses blooming but I'll go back in a few weeks and catch the roses at their peak.   The bushes were just covered in buds.   The rose garden is in a canyon and is built in amphitheater style so you can imagine how beautiful it is when the flowers are in full bloom  This "Yellow Rose of Texas" did catch my eye.    There are also beautiful views from the gardens of San Francisco Bay.  Across from the rose garden is Codornices Park.  I walked on some of the trails until the bench in the photo caught my eye.  It was a great place to sit and read for a while.  My iTouch always goes with me and I usually have several books to choose from.  A nice relaxing day after  all the walking I did yesterday.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

San Francisco

Today was my first day to take BART into San Francisco on this trip.   It was a drizzly, cold day but I bundled up and went anyway.   I got off at the Powell Street station so I could ride a cable car to Ghirardelli square.  On this drizzly day there wasn't even a line so I hopped right on.  I got off at the end of the line and went to the National Maritime Museum.    Entrance to all national parks is free this week and besides some interesting exhibits they have restrooms:)   After I wandered around there for a while, I headed over to Ghirardelli square and The Cannery.  Almost the first thing I saw was a cute little cupcake shop so I decided to "eat dessert first" today.  Not as many shops or people in this area as I remember.  Pier 39 is always a fun place even if it is touristy and I wanted to see if the seals had come back.  They have but it was much more impressive seeing them at Point Reyes.  I continued in the "super tourist" mode by having clam chowder in a bread bowl for lunch.   The trip back to the BART station was another ride on the cable car - this time I got lucky and sat outside.   There is lot of shopping in this area and I looked around Bloomingdale's but I was too tired to do it justice.  My plans are to head into the city about once a week while I am here to visit the different areas.  Union Square and Chinatown are two of the areas I would like to visit in the next couple of weeks.  One trip I am planning to visit Britex and Satin Moon - both well known fabric stores.  For my sewing friends, I sat next to a young woman on BART this morning that was reading a sewing book  She is just learning and will be checking us out on Pattern Review.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Point Reyes National Seashore

Several people have recommended a visit to Point Reyes National Seashore and I am so glad they did.  Today we met for breakfast at the Sunny Side Cafe - the first "green cafe" in Albany and then headed out to Point Reyes.   After  a quick stop at the Visitor Center for a map, we drove out to see the famous Point Reyes Lighthouse.  Walking down was pretty easy but coming back up was the equivalent of walking up a 30 story building.  That involved a couple of "breathing" stops !!!

We then drove to see the elephant seals and hike to Chimney Rock.     The elephant seals were huge and it was amazing seeing them in their natural habitat.  A lot different than Pier 39 in San Francisco!!  We sat up at the top at Chimney Rock for quite a while enjoying the sunshine, beautiful view, wildflowers and peacefulness of it all.  Next stop was the beach where we enjoyed the picnic lunch we had brought along.  I just love the ocean - the smells and watching the waves roll in.  Even stuck my toes in the Pacific Ocean for a minute!!!

We drove back along Highway 1 through Stinson Beach.  Highway 1 is just as curvy as everyone says with more gorgeous views.

The day ended with a stop in Berkeley for some frozen yogurt.

There are more pictures of the day here. at my Flickr account.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Night Fun

Fun time tonight!!!  We went to The Cheeseboard for pizza.  Really a fun place that has been a Berkeley institution for years.  It is a coop owned by the workers.  Each day they make one kind of pizza, one kind of salad, and one type of cookie and sell the pizza by the slice, half a pie or the whole pie.  Today's pizza was asparagus, mushroom and cheese!!!  How do you think up such a combination?  But, it was delicious. We ordered salads and half a pizza and a couple of soft drinks for the grand sum of $27!!!  We tossed $3 into the pot for the jazz musicians that were playing.

There was a long line outside but it moved really quickly because your choices are so limited.  We got lucky and got a table right by the jazz band.  It was amazing the number of pizzas they had made up waiting to have their turn in the oven.  The two women who sat down across from us were from Houston.  Small world!  One was a nurse and they had moved to Berkeley three years ago.  We enjoyed visiting with them.  Next month they are headed for Garner State Park.

                                              The seating area is pretty small so people who don't get a seat inside go sit on the median and eat and listen to the music.  The line was still down the block when we left.

Fun place!!

Brunch - Couldn't help myself!

Couldn't help myself!!!  After talking about the waffles at the Guerilla Cafe last night, I had to go back this morning.  Since I planned to spend some time browsing at Stone Mountain and Daughter this morning and it was on the way, it seemed the "right" thing to do!  Delicious!!

 Stone Mountain and Daughter was a lot of fun, too.  I have been sewing since I was thirteen years old when fabric stores were everywhere.  SM&D is like one of the fabric stores of old.    Lots of interesting fabrics, buttons, etc. and helpful people that actually know how to sew.  After browsing around for a couple of hours,  looking at patterns, etc., I ended up with some linen/rayon blend  for a new Liberty shirt using the Sewing Workshop pattern.

Lots of walking today so I don't feel too badly about my indulgence.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Quiet Week

I've gotten a couple of calls/emails about why I haven't posted for a couple of days.  It has been a quiet week - very pleasant!!!!  I have been to knitting class and started my first project.  For those knitters who are wondering, it is a scarf using Pattern #42 by Ann Norling - Stitch Sampler Scarf.  I am using some cotton/wool yarn in a denim tweed.  For those on my Christmas list - don't get worried yet!!!  No way am I giving this first project away and at the rate I am going you are safe for a couple of years.    The knit shop that sorts out my mistakes is K2tog on Solano Street in Albany, Ca.

My bike hasn't been ridden in a while so I took it over to the local bike shop to have the brakes adjusted, etc.  There couldn't be much wrong with it since it is only costing $20!!!  It will be ready on Friday so I am looking forward to some bike rides around the area.  The greenway that is about a block from me is called the Ohlone Greenway and it is one of the Rails-to Trails if you are familiar with them.

Strawberry season is here!  Lots of yummy berries in the market.  I have been walking to Monterrey Market to pick up fresh produce, etc.  Last night Doug, LA and I had a great salad with fresh strawberries, greens, chicken and my very favorite Honey Dijon Salad Dressing.  Thanks to Vera for emailing the recipe to me.  It is one of my favorite recipes from our Central Market Cooking Classes. I mix this in a food processor or blender.

Honey Dijon Mustard Dressing

1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Dijon Mustard (Grey Poupon)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Mix all ingredients well, cover and use on a variety of salads.

Tonight (Wednesday) Doug, Leigh Anne and I walked over to have dinner at the Guerilla Cafe. Everything was so fresh and good.  Homemade hummus with vegetables and panini sandwiches.  Very California:)

If I am blogging about what I am eating and posting recipes, you know I have had a quiet week.  Not complaining at all - it has been very restful.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Home Dec Project

Leigh Anne and I recovered their dining room chairs last Saturday night.  This week we have gotten the Rocketeer up and running and have put it to good use.  Leigh Anne and Doug wanted something to cover the metal rods on the chairs and we decided on these covers.  One is finished and Leigh Anne and I will work on the rest during the week.  This dining set has quite the history.  Leigh Anne's parents bought it used when they first married.  They used it for a long time and it was brought out of storage and passed down to Doug and Leigh Anne when they married.  A college friend of Doug's refinished it for them as a wedding gift.

It is another cold, rainy day in California!  Doug is busy watching the Masters and Leigh Anne is getting ready for the week ahead.  I am at my sublet seriously considering an afternoon nap.

Peggy - there are a lot of us!

When Peggy B, Leigh Anne's mom commented on one of my posts it made me realize that there are five people named Peggy (including me) following my blog.  For some reason, that seems strange to me:)  I never remember another Peggy in any of my classes at school.  When I worked at Leaman Management, there was a tiny young woman named Peggy hired to be the receptionist.  That caused some interesting conversations on how to distinguish the two of us.  Ideas I nixed were:  Young Peggy/Old Peggy; Big Peggy/Little Peggy -you get the idea!!!

My Peggy friends include:

Peggy B  - Leigh Anne's mom and Doug's favorite mother in law:)  Our birthdays are also just a few days apart.

Peggy K in North Carolina - we were neighbors in Sugar Land back in the days when we were having babies.  Her family moved to North Carolina years ago but we have always kept in touch.

Peggy W - sewing buddy and also the mother of twins

Peggy E - sewing buddy - her daughter may go to Texas State in the fall

Friday, April 9, 2010

Rambling Around Berkeley

Rambled around Berkeley today to enjoy the sights.  I am not the best photographer but took some pictures in hopes of sharing some of the charm of this interesting town.  I have added more photos to my Flickr album "Adventure 2010".

Doug, Leigh Anne and I met around noon and went to a sushi place for lunch.  Leigh Anne and I put Doug in charge of ordering.  He did a great job and we all enjoyed it.  There are so many little ethnic places for us to try.

After we ate we did some more walking and visited Stone Mountain And Daughter.  It has the reputation of being one of the best independent fabric stores left in the United States.  Right up my alley!!!!  I browsed a little bit but will go back later and spend more time.  I will definitely need a souvenir from there.

Lots of beautiful flowers blooming.  I don't know what most of them are but some of them smell heavenly.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sewing/Knitting and "The Rocketeer"

If you are not a sewer or knitter, you probably want to exit now:):)  First up, The Rocketeer!!!  Leigh Anne and I recovered their dining room chairs last Saturday and then decided we would make covers for the chair backs.   She got out the sewing machine her Granny Brown had given her before they moved to Pittsburgh.  We wanted to see if we could get it to work for this home-dec project.  I knew she had the machine and even helped move it around but I had never really looked at it.  Whoa, it is a much coveted Singer 500A Rocketeer!!!   We cleaned and oiled it really well, put in a new needle, etc. and it has the most gorgeous straight stitch.  This mother-in-law is just a little jealous and knows where that machine can be stored if the need ever arises.  After all, they are moving to a small apartment in NYC:):)   When I see the smile on her face when she is using it, I think I am out of luck!!!

Tonight was my second knitting class.  We learned casting on, ribbing and the seed stitch.  Now it is time to start a "real" project.  Something easy for this novice!!  The teacher, Ellen, suggested we do scarves using all the stitches we learned so that is the plan.  I'll go next Tuesday morning to get started.  Here's a pic of my "practice piece":)

Questions and Answers

I've had quite a few people email me with the same questions so thought I would just answer them all here.

1.  How was it traveling alone?   It was great and very peaceful.  I truly enjoyed the journey.  My iTouch was loaded with music and a couple of audio books.  For now, I also have a trial subscription to XM radio.   I listened to what I wanted, when I wanted and stopped when I felt like it.  Amazingly, people talk to you more when you are alone.  People were very friendly and I was never lonely.

2.  Where did you stay?  The only hotels I stayed at were ones with inside corridors.  I just feel safer without a door opening to the outside.  I also tried to stop before dark but wasn't always successful on that score.

3.  Did you eat alone?  Yes - again, no problem.  All the hotels I stayed at had free breakfast so that made it easy.  People always talked to me in the hospitality rooms.  My cooler was packed with cheese, fruit, boiled eggs and drinks, etc. so I snacked on that at lunch and during the day.   I went out to a restaurant for dinner but avoided the chains.

4.  What would you do if you had a flat tire or car trouble?   New car so I wasn't worried about car trouble but I do have OnStar so could push a button and they would send help.  My brother put in a can of "Fix a Flat".  I have a cell phone:)  I also belong to AAA.

5.  Why did you choose that Bible verse at the top of the Blog?   I woke up about 2:30 a.m. the day the divorce was finalized and that verse kept running through my mind.  My interpretation was that God was telling me there would be joy in my life again.

6,  Were you ever scared?  You are so brave.   No, I wasn't scared and  I don't really think I was particularly brave either.  My mother used to drive across the country a lot and do whatever she wanted after my father died.  She set a good example and didn't let anything stop her.

7.  Why did you decide to do this trip?  My son and his wife came up with the idea of a sublet in Berkeley several months ago and it just sounded like a great idea to me.  Alaska was at the back of my mind, too.  All of my belongings are in storage and I am "homeless" so it is just the right time for me to do this from a financial standpoint.    The last year has been really difficult and this trip is part of the healing process.   What better medicine is there than spending time with your children?  By the end of the adventure, I will have enjoyed all of their company.   Janet and Nick might decide "too much time":):)

8.  How is it driving in Berkeley?  Not too bad!  I can get back and forth to Doug and LA's, grocery store, etc. without getting lost.  The speed limit is pretty low - 15-30 mph a lot of places so that gives me a little time to figure out my route.  Pedestrians always have the right of way and people really stop for them:)  I am used to Houston and being extra careful walking because Houston drivers don't know what a pedestrian is!  Lots of bicycle riders, too.  If I can, I walk where I am going.

9.  Have you seen the Golden Gate Bridge?  Yes!!  You can see it from Doug and Leigh Anne's balcony.  My goal is to walk across it before I leave.  I am petrified of heights so will have to see on that one:)  This picture is from their window - too far away for me to get a good shot with my little "point and shoot" camera.