Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I've declared this the Week of Twee

Yesterday's post was about a precious little shell who talks and wears shoes.  Today?  I'd like to introduce you to two baby teeth named ickle and Lardee.  They live over at My Milk Toof, and get into all sorts of adventures.  Have you already met them?  If not, you're going to be smitten at first sight.  Browse the archives, get to know their characters, chuckle, and wish that your milk teeth were still around to secure your home when you're away.  (That's my favorite recent ickle and Lardee adventure. "Safety first.")

I think we can all take inspiration from the lil' guys' To Do List:

Pinwheels on Sundays
Paper airplanes on Tuesdays
Painting on Thursdays
Flapjacks on Fridays
And a little levity on Mondays (of course!)

Pretty solid tenets to build a life's philosophy around, I'd say.  Enjoy the outside, surround yourself with color, invent fun wherever you are, create art, treat yourself, and laugh when things suck.  Yep, that's a sweet life.

I hope you're able to work a little ickle and Lardee inspired mischief into your week.  If you're looking for a treat (for yourself or your favorite five-year-old!), enter my drawing for a copy of Marcel The Shell's picture book!  As of this post's publishing, you still have about 52 ¼ hours to participate!  :)

All images by Inhae Lee of My Milk Toof

Monday, January 30, 2012

I have something I want to give to you.

(Well, one of you, at least.)

You've seen this, no?  Marcel the Shell With Shoes On?  And the sequel?

My favorite quotes from the most witty and charming invertebrate ever:
  • "Guess why I smile a lot.  Uh, cuz it's worth it."  Marcel, my little shelled friend, I wish everyone had your attitude.
  • "... I also have shoes and, um, a face.  So, I like that about myself, and I like myself, and I have a lot of other great qualities as well."  Indeed!  
  • "Sometimes people say that my head is too big for my body.  And then I say, 'Compared to what?'!"  When I was your age, I wish I had enough aplomb to improvise such a brilliant comeback.  

Beyond introducing you to Marcel the Shell (or reminding you of his magnificence), I actually do have a tangible gift for one of you.  Yep, this is We hope for more's very first giveaway!  A little thank you, from me to you.  I will send one lucky reader a copy of Marcel the Shell With Shoes On: Things About Me—Marcel's very first book!

Drawing Details:
  1. To enter, watch either (or both) of Marcel's videos, and leave a comment below that states your favorite quote and why it's your fave or why it made you laugh or what it reminds you of, etc. etc.
  2. Leave your comment by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, February 2, 2012. 
  3. I will most likely allow my cat, Cleo, to select the winner.  (Or just pull names out of a hat.  WWMD?  [What Would Marcel Do?])
  4. I will announce the winner this Friday, February 3! 

Good night and good luck!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Touring the City: Unexpected Bonus!

Didn't mean ta disappear on y'all like that.  Life is always full of unexpectedness, ya know?  The photo above is evidence of why I believe it's important to carry on like a tourist in our own stomping grounds.  (i.e. consciously appreciating all that wherever-we-are has to offer, viewing our surroundings with the same kind of awe we have when touring foreign towns, noticing the sparklies, and all that jazz).    

There I was . . . just a small-town girl . . . livin' in a lonely world . . . heading to the 5:22 BART train that would take me back to the East Bay (you had to sing that last part super fast to make it sync with the original notes).  Many thanks for indulging my Journey detour.  (Wish I could promise that it won't happen again. I cannot.)  Um, what was I going to tell you?  Oh yeah!  I was finished with my City Touring, and walking down Columbus toward the Montgomery BART station, when I hit a red light at Broadway.  So I look up and around, like a good, observant tourist does.  And what should I see on the Southeast corner?  No, not the naked ladies enticing me to come into the Garden of Eden.  Higher.  Yes!  Up there, beyond the tree that looks like an ambitious chia pet.  See that black stencil and red lettering?  That, my friends, is a Banksy.  I happened upon a Banksy while ambling through North Beach.  (You may recall that I am a fan of street art.  I've mentioned it two or three times.)

I remember when Banksy made his mark in San Francisco in 2010, around the time Exit Through the Gift Shop hit theaters.  But, for some reason, I never made the pilgrimage across the Bay to see his work in person (I think I thought they'd all be promptly removed, defaced, or stolen).  And I questioned whether what I saw on Columbus and Broadway was actually "a Banksy" because I only remember hearing about the ones in Chinatown, the Mission, and a few others; I hadn't heard of one in North Beach.  Sure enough, though, there are a few "Lost Banksy's of San Francisco". 

Truth is, my favorite moments during my "tour" of San Francisco-y spots were the unexpected ones.  Inadvertently seeing that Bansky?  Was like a surprise party for my eyes.  And my heart had a grand time dancing at that party.  Such a moment underscores how important it is to get out there for mini-adventuring.  We must invite the opportunity to see the sparkly things around us.  And, I'd like to take this opportunity to remind you—if all the glittery things are eluding your vision, make your own magic.  There are plenty of ways to do so, including ones you've yet to imagine.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Touring The City: San Francisco

Thanks for Touring Castro Valley with me last week, y'all.  Did you join in the fun, too?  Did you revisit some of the sparkly parts of your current locale?  

As previously noted, I grew up, and currently live, about twenty minutes from the bridge that connects the East Bay to San Francisco.  And I'd like to rectify the fact that there are many spots in what we Bay Areans call The City, that I've yet to visit.  Weather permitting, I'm gonna get out there this week, and show you some (hopefully) sweet spots of The City by the Bay!

And since we're talking about San Francisco and second-hand shopping, I think I'll throw some feelers out there.  To you, my people.

As you may or may not know, there was a football game yesterday.  Okay, there were two, actually.  But I only cared about one of them.  My beloved 49ers played the New York Giants to determine which team would represent the National Football Conference in the Super Bowl.  To many of you, this may mean nothing.  To me, it meant a great deal. 

Do you have a favorite season?  And do you have markers that signal said season is nigh?  E.g. you love winter, and the first dust of snow signals it's a comin'!  Or you love spring, and blooming daffodils make you think, "Spring is so close!"  Or summer's your thing, and you hear the Doppler effected Ice Cream Truck song floating closer and closer, and you feel all giddy inside?  That's how I feel about autumn.  And when NFL season kicks off (pun intended) in September.  Leaves changing color and swirling to meet the ground via mini cyclones; crunching those fallen leaves; crisp and gooey caramel apples, the ubiquitous pumpkin spice latte; watching 49ers games on Sundays.  That's autumn to me.  And autumn is my favorite.

I've never really pondered why 49ers games mean so much to me.  Beyond the fact that I love to watch grown men run and cut and pivot and slant and dig in and push and spin and jump and did I mention run?  And I don't want to get too deep here, but I think it's fair to say 9ers games remind me of a time when I was reconnecting with my dad.  During this time, I must have felt happy, because when I hear the first six notes of this theme, I am flooded with nostalgic feelings of goodness.

Although yesterday's game did not end how I would've liked, I'd still like to thank the 2011 49ers for making it fun to be a 9ers fan again.  The past eight or so years have been painful, and had you told me, back in September, that this team would win more than six games, I would've squinted my eyes, smiled really big-like, and laughed heartily at your folly.  And had you told me they'd play the Giants in the NFC Championship game?  I would have been genuinely frightened for your well being.  How can I complain about the final outcome of the season, when this team provided so much more than expected?  Paramount among their provisions—rekindling my hope.    

Wow, can I digress like a champ.  Remember when I was going to tie this last bit into second-hand shopping five paragraphs ago?  Ahem.  

I have been on the hunt for a vintage 49ers sweater like the two pictured above.  Preferably white with red lettering, and preferably not 3XL.  As you conduct your thrifting, my dears, please keep an eye out on my behalf.  Gimme a holler if you strike gold. 

(Get it?  Anyone?  Bueller?)  

Image 1 and Image 2

Friday, January 20, 2012

Touring in my own town: Second-hand Shopping

Okay, so I need you guys to cut me a little slack on the final day of "Touring Castro Valley".  You see, one of the wonderful things about living in Castro Valley is that we are really close to awesome things.  Proximity and access to awesome are essentially the same as possessing awesome, right?  Right!  Sweet, now that we've agreed upon that fact, I can confess that my favorite thrift stores are actually in San Leandro and Hayward.  (I totally didn't mean what I said yesterday, Hayward. You're the best!)  Mere miles from my current residence you fill find treasures such as these:

Thrift Town.  I buy almost all of my clothing second-hand.  I like how Thrift Town organizes their clothing by colors AND size.  Very helpful.  And every now and then, a treasure such as the couch above will appear.  That beauty was $39.99, AND it was available on Monday when everything in the store was 30% off thanks to the Martin Luther King holiday!  Some lucky potato bought that couch for $28!  Unreal deal.  Anyway, I know where I'll be on February 3rd—scouring the racks during the annual 99¢ sweater sale!   

And my most recent discovery is Eco Thrift.  Whoa.  Quite an impressive outfit (no pun intended) they got goin' there in what is clearly an old warehouse.  Sweaters for days.  And coats!  Oh my little pony—the coats!  The photo above does not do the styles nor the colors justice.  Peas, swings, and belted maxis; mustard, light camel, and lemony-lime.  There was one in the perfect shade of red, too.  I wanted them all, and tried each on in vain.  As my grandma says, "Some days you don't make a dime," which I think roughly translates to, "You can't always get what you want."  So true, Mick and Grams, so true.  Still, when a wool coat only costs 200 dimes (before factoring color tag discount), it can be a challenge to walk on to the next rack.

Today was green tag day, so the vintage JC Penney "ski sweater" above was 50% off, and therefore could've been mine for $9.98.  Alas and alack, 'twas not meant to be.  Like the aforementioned wool coats, it just didn't fit properly.  Le sigh.  But, behold!  Le purr:   

I pretty much guaranteed securing Grand Prize should I find myself at an Ugly Christmas Sweater Fête next holiday season.  The teddy bear(?)'s face is pretty effed up.  And his scarf is three dimensional.  As are the jeep's tires.  Truth be told, though, I think it's so ugly, it's kinda cute.  Like a chihuahua.  Or monchhichis.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Touring in my own town: Art

Castro Valley is also home to the very charming Japanese Gardens, where all of the trees resemble Edward Scissorhands' handy work.  (See above.)  I always thought the gardens were technically in Hayward, because they are near the ambiguous zig-zaggy border between CV and Hayward.  But, according to Google Maps (THE authority on all things location), the gardens are in 94546.  Take that, Hayward!

Such a peaceful setting.  Birds chirping, water falling, and if you look very, very closely below, you may see the little turtle sunning himself in front of the mini-pagoda statue.

There are numerous rock "seating areas", perfect for one or two, secluded from the paths.  Ideal for quiet reflection, observing, or picnicking.

And there are Koi swimming about!  Huge koi.  I threw all those coins in the pond so you'd have points of reference.  ;]

And, a little color in the winter is always welcome!

Besides landscape art, Castro Valley houses the Adobe Art Gallery, which shamefully, I've never been to.  AND, I recently discovered some delightful street art in CV.  No, you did not misread that last statement.  I will show you soon.  Street art is one of my favorite things, though, and it deserves its own week's worth of posts.  At least.  Watch out—We hope for more could become a niche blog after all. We hope for more [art].  ;]

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Touring in my own town: Extra-Curricular Activities

When you want to go out and "do something" in Castro Valley, there are a handful of options.  One can catch a matinee (for only $5, mind you!) at the Chabot Theater.  Had the local cinema not been currently showing Joyful Noise, I would've gladly done so in order to report back to you, photos included.  But I simply could not bring myself to watch a flick with a 37% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes—even at the incredible matinee price.  Option two is the Castro Village Bowl(ing alley), which has various weekly specials, including Rock & Bowl on Saturdays.  And beer.  Yes, like any classy bowling alley, there is a lounge attached.  And then there is Golden Tee Golfland, which we always called Pee Wee Golf when I was but a tiny Tigress Woods*.

I must say, the Golden Tee has not changed much, if at all, since I was a kid.

I'm thinking this is the original carpeting.  

And the obstacles are as frustrating as ever.  ;]

Even the iconic trio of primary-colored dragons remains.

The colors and whimsical attractions make for a fun environment (read: distraction from your horrendous, far-above-par scores, caused by said whimsical attractions. And maybe your tendency to hit the ball too hard.)

The truth is, I don't even know what my score was, because Ben was sweet enough to hide the numbers from me.  I stopped asking after the third hole.  ;]

*Credit for coining the name "Tigress Woods" goes to Ben.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Touring in my own town: The Great Outdoors

up to Fairmont Ridge!

Hello, and welcome to the first glimpse of my hometown!  Castro Valley, California.  Not to be confused with Castroville.  I wish I had a dollar for all the times folks confused my hometown with The Artichoke Center of the World.  Nope, I hail from what was once rumored to be the town that boasts the most fast food restaurants in a mile stretch (though all my internet research has failed to turn up any corroboration).

As you can imagine thanks to the second noun in its name, Castro Valley is situated among hills, which means there are ample trails to blaze, and some that are already paved. ;]  Within town limits, there are a few parks and recreational areas, including Cull Canyon, which has a swim lagoon.  But the gem of them all is Lake Chabot (aka Anthony Chabot Regional Park).

Lake Chabot

Along Lake Chabot's southwest shore is Fairmont Ridge, which provides gorgeous views of the lake; the cities to the south, west, and north; as well as the San Francisco Bay.  I took all of the photos in this post while atop Fairmont Ridge.   

peek through the trees

Oh, and you can find a letterbox up there, too!

we found the letterbox!

The surrounds of Lake Chabot are teeming with active folks.  No matter the weather or day of the week, you will usually see runners, walkers, bikers, boaters, and people fishing.  I personally run the trails a few times a week.  (In fact, I ran my first half marathon around Lake Chabot.)  Still, every single time I run there, I marvel at the scenery.  There are a few brutal hills, but for the most part, the topography is the good kind of challenging for anyone beyond beginner level.  And do those trees ever provide welcome shade when the sun is trying her darnedest to be noticed! 

In addition to running/hiking/biking trails, there are plenty of volleyball nets, sprawling lawns, horseshoe pits, and picnic areas, including out on the lake itself.  At the marina, visitors can rent paddle boats to take for a spin around the lake.  (Which is not quite as easy as it seems!  Oooh, my burning quadriceps!).  Speaking of spinning around the lake—when I was wee, I was known to rock my roller skates, and spin my 8 wheels at very conservative speeds around the paved paths.  :]

Lake Chabot is filled with wonderful memories, and I hope to make many more!
easily distracted

So!  What do you love about The Great Outdoors where you live?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Touring in my own town

Happy Monday, all!

Researching opportunities for quirky mini-adventures in exotic and distant (ha!) cities these past two weeks reminds me that I am also fully capable of discovering and embarking upon quirky mini-adventures in native and near cities.  As did my recent travels through Europe (remind me, that is).  In Europe, I filled my days with yummy food; musical performances; museums; meandering alongside bodies of water, through parks and gardens, and over bridges; observational walks; photography (which really helped me focus on noticing all the delightful things I was witnessing); and vista points.  I see no reason why I can't spend my free time doing similar activities wherever I am.  Think of how enriched our lives would be if we lived like tourists at home.

Not that I haven't always looked for fun activities to fill my time, but I want to be truly conscious of appreciating all that wherever-I-am has to offer, with the same kind of awe I have when touring another town.  This week, I'll take you along on my tour of my hometown, Castro Valley, California.  Castro Valley is not as sparkly as say, Paris (or, heck! even its neighboring city, Hayward), and it'll certainly prove to be a short tour, but I am determined to recognize and observe the good things.  There is beauty everywhere.  Why not focus on that?         

I invite you to follow along and tour all the sparkly things in your own hometown!  What are your favorite outdoor locations, activities, art offerings, food haunts of where you currently are? 

p.s. When reflecting on the idea of being a tourist wherever I find myself, I realized that there are so many magnificent places I've never been, sights I've never seen, in San Francisco.  Which is preposterous really, since I've never lived more than 20 minutes away from the Bay Bridge my entire life.  SO!  I'm very excited to say that after our Tour of Castro Valley, we'll be headed on a Tour of San Francisco next week!  Let's make a pact to not leave our hearts, there, though.  ;]

The controversial "Castro Valley Sign" image source 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Town + City Survey: Madison

not a badger riding a plastic pony

Happy Friday, friends!  For today's final installment of the Town + City Survey, we come full circle from where we started—with the other Rose Bowl participant.  The Badgers of Madison, Wisconsin.  I have visited Madison, twice actually, but both visits were many moons ago, and all I remember are fried cheese curds and beer and snow.   Were my more mature self to relocate to Mad City, I think I would partake in (and be proud of*) the following.

  • Cheese Farm Tours.  I clicked on the “view map of cheese factories” link, and I saw sparkles when clusters of little, inverted, red raindrops appeared, denoting countless cheesy tour opportunities.   
  • The Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest provides two of my favorite things in one stop.  And from cheese to beer + cheese to just beer: The Great Taste of the Midwest offers about 500 beers to sample.
  • Numerous options for fresh and local food—one being, Willy Street Co-op, a full-service grocery cooperative specializing in natural, organic and locally produced foods.  And the Dane County Farmers' Market seems pretty epic.  Apparently, it's the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the country.  Open year-round, rain (snow) or shine.
  • I'd make a weekend getaway to Green Bay in order to see the Packers play at Lambeau.  I dig the fact that they are owned by their fans.  
  • La Fête de Marquette is a free event, featuring New Orleans, Cajun and Zydeco music, with acts from French-speaking areas all over the world: Quebec, New Orleans, Haiti, to name a few.  French food and beer too!
  • Now, I know I might lose a lot of you with my final two choices, but I simply must see the Dead Pals of Sam SanfillippoTaxidermied exhibits of wonder. 
  • And, as if Sam's Dead Pals weren't enough, did you know *the official bird of Madison, Wisconsin is the plastic pink flamingo?  Perfect.

Totally mature, right?  And, you, friends?
What do you dig about Madison?

 Dead Pal image source

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Town + City Survey: Dayton

Hi, friends!  Before we look at our first Midwestern city, I'd like to acknowledge that I totally spaced out while writing the last couple posts, and forgot to ask y'all for input on Boulder and Nashville.  Please excuse my lapse in manners, and do share if you have any experience to report! 

old timey photo of skaters on frozen Great Miami River in Dayton

Now, onward with the City Tour!  To The Midwest!  To Dayton, Ohio—a.k.a. Gem City in the Buckeye State.  You see, I have a bee in my bonnet, and it's been buzzin' up a storm about experiencing the four seasons (and I don't mean a Vivaldi violin concerto).  Even if it's for only one cycle, I am keen on living in an area that has four distinct seasons.  I want fall foliage, pumpkin patches, and corn mazes, which we do have in California, of course.  But somehow, it all seems inauthentic when it's 87º outside.  I used to be so defensive when my friends from Illinois and New England would scoff at our "Autumn", but traveling through Europe during October and November last year showed me that, indeed, we Californians do not know Autumn.  And, just once, I'd like a Snow Day, please. :]

So, what does Gem City have to offer besides winter, spring, summer, and fall?

  • RiverScape Park.  Looks like a fun spot where the community can hang out year round.  Spectacular water shows in the warm months, and an ice skating rink in the cold months.  Plus, broomball.
  • 2nd Street Market.  Over 40 vendors selling locally grown + handmade goodies.  Find maple syrup, maple cookies, jams, soaps, breads, wines, etc. in an old B&O Railroad building (who knew B&O was real?  You know, not just an imaginary railway to acquire in Monopoly?).  Stopping by the Market could be a weekly ritual.
  • A World A'fair.  It seems I am obsessed with festivals.  And with good reason!  Where, when and how else can I marvel at Kenyan acrobats while snacking on Indian samosas and Greek spanikopita before my dinner that consists of Japanese sushi and German beer?  Which will, of course, be followed by Slavic creme puffs and Guatemalan coffee for dessert, while the French can-can dancers show us their petticoated bits.  My only quibble?  Why aren't adults allowed to answer the trivia questions and get their passports stamped at each booth?  No fair!
  • The Dayton International Peace Museum.  One of a kind museum with an indisputably important message. 
  • Garden Station, an urban community garden and sculpture park.  Art installations, murals, workshops—a space for an ever-changing community project.
  • And should I ever live in Dayton, I am going to make an annual weekend getaway to Celina (a smallish town near Grand Lake), to "run" in the Donut Dash.  Observe: “The Donut Dash is a unique event, where your ability to eat donuts is just as important as your ability run fast . . . While racing you will visit two "donut stops" along the 3.1 mile course and eat donuts.  For each donut the runner eats during race they have 2 minutes deducted from their finish time."  Donuts while running?  And the more I eat, the more I will be rewarded with a sweet finish time?  Yes and yes

And you?  Any thoughts on Dayton?

ice skating image source

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Town + City Survey: Nashville

honky tonks all decked out for Christmas

The next city in the Town + City Survey leads me far, far out of my comfort zone: to a land called The South.  Granted, Nashville, Tennessee is part of the "Upper South", but it's still quite foreign to me.  I suppose that's part of the point of moving somewhere new, though, right?  So I carried on with investigating "Music City".  I discovered some pretty sweet attractions and activities.  The first few suggestions are care of my sweet friend, Amira, who recently visited.

  • Bounce from one honky tonk to the next, downtown.
  • Cater to your need for order while flailing your body about, and go line dancing at Wild Horse Saloon.
  • I'd like to watch the recording of A Prairie Home Companion at the Ryman Auditorium in April.  The Ryman was the first venue of the Grand Ole Opry, a weekly country music stage concert.  (And, yes, I had to look that up.  The closest I am to being qualified as a country music fan is the fact that I saw Walk the Line.  Oh, and 9 to 5, starring Dolly Parton.) 
  • Dine at Swett's Restaurant.  Personally, I'd try the macaroni and cheese, squash cassarole, cabbage, green beans, collard greens (as long as they weren't flavored with bacon), fried cornbread, and sweet potato pie.  I can't eat much else of southern cooking as a vegetarian.  ;]
  • When Ben and I visited the EMP in Seattle, we saw an exhibition of Hatch prints.  Apparently, the historical print shop, Hatch Show Print, is still operational.  I'd love to go see the letterpress, posters, and shop cats.     
  • Though Nashvillians do not suffer similar average high temperatures as Tempe, I think I'll still have to cool off regularly with ample doses of Las Paletas Gourmet Popsicles.  I would not stop till I tried the Avocado, Pumpkin, Pistachio, and Mexican Caramel flavors.  (Not at the same time, of course.)  Ben would be all over the Horchata and Cantaloupe.  
  • This Design*Sponge Guide to Nashville has dozens of suggestions for coffee shops, restaurants, and other cool shops to check out.  Hello, Germantown!
  • And last, but certainly not least, I have discovered the Fest that makes all other Fests feel inadequate: The Tomato Art Fest.  Brilliant!  The tomato jamboree includes: honoring tomatoes through haiku; tomato-flavored ice cream; bobbing for tomatoes; a tomato toss; a Bloody Mary competition; biggest, little, ugliest, and prettiest contests (for tomatoes, not humans); a readhead contest (this time, for humans); recipe contests; and there is a RUN, people—the Tomato 5k (which includes a training program for beginners called Potato-to-Tomato!).  I can get behind a town that celebrates all things tomato and uses puns to describe community programs.

that building on the left—it resembles Optimus Prime's head, no?

Honky tonks image source
Nashville skyline image source 

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Town + City Survey: Boulder

    Think Ben would reenact the Kermit + Miss Piggy running toward each other scene with me?

    Time to head where the air is thin, the hippies are abundant, and there are hundreds of thousands of miles of trails and four million acres of space for outdoor activity enthusiasts to delight in: Boulder, Colorado.  Ok, so that last bit is a slight exaggeration.  I must say, though, I'm not sure I'm outdoorsy enough to live in Boulder—not sure I meet the prerequisites.  Sure, I'm a runner, but I don't hike, bike, rock climb, swim, play rugby or ultimate frisbee.  I'm pretty sure one needs to participate in at least four of those six sports in order to enter city limits.  Also, I almost disqualified Boulder from the Town + City Survey when I did not find a single fondue restaurant in the city, neither via yelp nor google.  All reservations aside, my patented "brief and superficial" research techniques have led me to learn the following:

    • Taking a Banjo Billy Bus Tour is a must for recent transplants who want to learn about their new hometown.  Posh + quirky.    
    • I'd be a little bit closer (geographically speaking) to seeing a concert at Red Rocks Ampitheater.
    • I'd tell Michael Tilson Thomas to eat his heart out because in Boulder, there is an entire festival dedicated to Mahler.  Behold: Mahlerfest.
    • In fact, there are a number of annual fests.  Two of note: the Screamin' Snowman Snowshoe Race and the Tulip Fairy and Elf Parade. 
    • Imagine running a 10k, and crossing the finish line in Folsom Field (The University of Colorado's football stadium with a capacity of 53,613) in front of 53,613 spectators, like the Olympic runners.  That's what runners of the Bolder Boulder Race do every year. 
    • Did somebody say free tea?  I'm down to take the Celestial Seasonings Tour.
    • A 30-minute drive is a small price to pay to watch a movie at a classic Drive-in Theater.
    • In the land of Coors, there are some stand-out microbrews!  Avery Brewing Company will tap their MINT CHOCOLATE STOUT this Friday, January 13.  Could be gross; could be outstanding.  A risk I'd be willing to take.  I'd also love to frequent their establishment on the first Tuesday each month when they host an ASL Happy Hour.  Discounts are given to those who are deaf, actively signing, or actively learning to sign!  And dear Upslope Brewing Company, you had me at pumpkin.  ;] 

    I'm a sucker for tulips!
    Rocky Mountain field image source
    Tulips at the Pearl Street Mall image source

    p.s. I simply cannot think of the Rocky Mountains without remembering my favorite line from Dumb & Dumber.  After heading East for hours, rather than West like they were supposed to, Harry comments on the terrain, "I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than this."  To which Lloyd replies, "I was thinking the same thing. That John Denver's full of shit, man."

    image source

      Monday, January 9, 2012

      Town + City Survey: Tempe

      image source

      Hello, friends!  Today's Town + City Survey brings us to a city I've never set foot in: Tempe, Arizona.  It would take a whole lotta awesome for a town whose average high temperatures are between 92° and 104° for five months out of twelve (seven months being above 85°—I feel a faint coming on!) to lure me.  I am not a sun worshiper; I am more what one would call a shade-and-gentle-cool-breeze worshiper.  I hope this town provides misters and gelato on every corner.  But I digress.  Should I ever live in the land of the Sun Devils (their terminology, not mine!), here's how I'd spend my time:

      Ever been to Tempe?  What's your 2¢?

      image source

      Friday, January 6, 2012

      Town + City Survey: Los Angeles

      technically, not in Los Angeles, but so close!

      We'll head east into uncharted territory soon enough, but for now, let's keep the city search on the West Coast, shall we?  I've been to Los Angeles, California a few times, and although I'm not a huge fan, I am open to the possibility that awesomeness can be found there.  Personally, I'd prefer to keep driving another 30 (or so) minutes south into Orange County to visit The Happiest Place on Earth*, but perhaps that's simply because I don't know much about LA.  I've never been to any of the following, and I think these spots seem quite charming:

      Oh dear, it seems I've never eaten a proper doughnut in Los Angeles!  In fact, I don't have any food-related memories of LA at all.  Help me, folks!   

      Know of any yummy doughnut shops in the greater LA area?  Or any other cool spots besides the obviously touristy ones mentioned above?  There must be some treasures located in The City of Angels, right?   

      *I am not kidding when I say, should I move to Los Angeles, I will purchase an annual passport.  And I will not hesitate to regularly stop by New Orleans Square for a beignet breakfast or drop by Main Street at nightfall for some Gibson Girl and the fireworks show.

      Thursday, January 5, 2012

      To whom it may concern:

      Sarah was home sick, today, and was unable to put together the planned post for the 3rd day of the Town + City Survey.  She is terribly sorry about this, and hopes to return tomorrow, to end the suspense over the crucial question: did Sarah eat doughnuts in the 3rd city on this tour?.

      The Management

      Wednesday, January 4, 2012

      Town + City Survey: Seattle

      SPL, Green Lake + the incredible sideways-growing tulips

      Keepin' the investigation in the Pacific Northwest, let's look at Seattle, Washington.  Ben and I visited Seattle in 2009, and we were pretty smitten with The Emerald City.  In preparation for our trip, I made this map of places to check out.  In just four days, we managed to squeeze in:

      I really wish we'd also dined at The Pink Door (tarot, trapeze, and jazz—oh my!), seen fields of tulips in bloom, and visited the other museums on my map.  Guess I'll have to return to Seattle one day!  :]
      EMP Museum + Space Needle

      I ask you, now.  Have you ever visited (or lived in) Seattle?  What were your favorite haunts?

      *Both the Central library branch and the EMP buildings are examples of exceptionally cool modern architecture!  Sigh.  Seattle, I adore you.

      Tuesday, January 3, 2012

      Town + City Survey: Portland

      image source + source

      So, the Country Mouse + City Mouse hint.  Richard Scarry's version of that story was one of my favorites when I was wee.  I still want to live in his illustrations.

      Where I want to live is precisely what I was hinting at, actually.  The City Mouse was checking out the country, and the Country Mouse was visiting the city.  This City Gal knows she wants to live elsewhere, but she doesn't know exactly where.  I thought it would be fun to survey some cities to determine their potential (but I promise to be far more polite and gracious than City Mouse was!).  So, for the next nine posts, I'll focus on nine different cities, and write about attractions, restaurants, events, and various other pull factors that seem pretty swell. 

      In honor of Oregon's Rose Bowl victory yesterday, let's start in the Beaver State.  Despite almost being deterred by how the city is portrayed in Portlandia, I'm thinking Portland, Oregon, is a pretty super place to live.  (Yes, I know UO is in Eugene, not Portland. I just wanted to make my post seem timely, 'k?)  

      I visited Portland about ten years ago, and I had three favorite spots: Voodoo Doughnuts, Powell's Books, and Multnomah Falls at the Columbia River Gorge.  Swoon, swoon, and swoon.  Wouldn't mind hitting up those three spots on the regular.

      Brief and superficial research has led me to discover a few other promising tidbits:

      Tag—you're it!  Have you ever visited (or lived in) Portland?  What makes it awesome?  What are some must-sees, must-eats, and must-do's?

      Monday, January 2, 2012

      Welcoming you + the new year

      Happy New Year, all!  I hope you are looking forward to making great things happen in 2012!  You are?!  I applaud your optimism and moxie.  :]

      I added a few info bits to the blog should any strangers stumble upon it while asking google to track down a recipe for cookies that resemble sparkly butts.  Now folks can read a little about who I am, why I started this blog, and the other blogs that inspire me regularly.  See the links over there?  Just to the right of the red arrow?  Underneath the heading, Learn a little more?  If you want to know more about what's going on inside my brain, just click on Oh, hello!, Why the blog?, and My Favorite Things: Blogs.  And, yes, I am aware that as I add more posts, that little arrow is going to look mighty silly pointing over to an empty sidebar.  How's this, then?  More helpful to folks who are fashionably late to this party?

      Did I just confirm that I am the biggest dork ever?  Don't answer that. 

      Anyway!  Thanks so much for reading We hope for more.  Writing these posts has been quite fun so far, and I am looking forward to what I'm scheming up for the next two weeks over here.  I'll give you a hint:

      The Country Mouse and the City Mouse, Illustration by Richard Scarry
      image source