I am a teacher and aspiring writer, and keep a blog to keep up with writing and document the daily moments that make up my life. Working with my students & travel writing are my biggest passions. People, art, food, wine/spirits, and culture are other writing interests. Thanks for coming by!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bachelorette Party in Santa Cruz!

MY GIRLS! MaeMae, Brea, Laura, Jess & Alicia on Saturday night.
Saturday evening before going out with Megs & Jen.
Oh Hell No!
Mae Mae can't keep the guys away.
Laura P., Jess, Laura B. & Brea before the festivities on Saturday night!
Saturday Morning Gifts
Jen, Jess & Alicia - Having breakfast
Brea, Laura & Karissa

It began on Friday, April 16, from the beginning, it was Fun with a capital F! We arrived in Santa Cruz in the late afternoon, the trip north from Cambria took a little longer than expected. By the time we got there, Alicia, Laura P., Jess & Laura B. were all there already. Alicia is a lifelong friend, and like a sister to me. Laura I've been friends with since high school, and she flew up from LA. Jess & Laura B. are close friends from college. Since we graduated high school 15 years ago, and college 10 years ago, (OUCH!) these are all old friends at this point. So needless to say, I was thrilled to see all of them, and we didn't waste any time getting the party started. The place we were staying was overlooking the ocean, and we had our own special deck and table, this of course was where we decided to hang out. People were trickling in all evening, and by late night the party was in full swing. It was a huge reunion, because most of my friends there were childhood, high school, or college friends, so a lot of my friends hadn't seen each other in ages. I hadn't seen a lot of my friends there in a long time either, it was so great getting to see everyone and catch up. We didn't go to dinner on Friday night, just drank our cocktails or wine and ate appetizers. My college roommate Shannon couldn't make it because she's pregnant for one things and she was sick this weekend for another thing. But she made me a book with a photo and a quote from everyone there, it was such a special gift! We all stayed up really late on Friday night, we were all so excited to be there and had so much catching up to do.
Saturday morning we all woke up kind of early, considering how late we'd been up the night before. We drank some coffee, and ate breakfast out on the deck. Then the girls brought out the gifts they'd gotten me, and I unwrapped them while everyone else ate breakfast or drank their coffee or mimosas. After that we took a walk on West Cliff drive and checked out the surfers at Steamer Lane, then headed to the beach to relax.
Saturday night was dinner at a Hawaiian restaurant in downtown Santa Cruz, (just a short walk from our room) and then the bars to paint the town red. Sad to say, we did not paint the town red, and it was mostly all my fault. We went to a couple of bars, but for one thing, I'd gone big the night before, and for two, I would have rather just stayed on our deck and had our cocktails there and watched the sunset. I had fun though, and we did run into a bachelor party and the bachelor was VERY drunk, so they provided us with lots of good entertainment and laughs.
Sunday morning we woke up and got breakfast, then went home. I was sad it was over, it all went by WAY too quickly! One thing I realized for sure: I don't see my girlfriends often enough. I miss them. Seeing them reminded me of how much I love seeing them and how much I miss them. I hope to see much more of them. I have to make more of an effort too. I LOVE MY GIRLS!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Central Coast Road Trip!

A special thing happened last week. I got to see Ragged Point for the first time, the place where Rob & I are getting married in July! Karissa and I took a road trip down to check the place out. We weren't disappointed! The has spectactular views and beautiful grounds. The beauty of the place literally took our breath away!

After checking out the site, and meeting with the wedding planner, Gloria, (and tasting the wines too!) we went to a great seafood restaurant in Cambria called the Sea Chest. The Sea Chest was one of the top five best restaurants I've ever been to, and if we're just talking seafood, the best. We ordered a bottle of Albarino (our favorite wine!) and shared an appetizer (Oysters Rockefeller) and entree (shrimp and scallop scampi.) We sat at the bar, which was great, because we got to watch the chefs, Jose & Andy, work their magic. We also met the owner, who just happened to take a seat next to Karissa to enjoy his nightly dinner there. He was a salty old dog who had some great stories to tell. He said he opened the place back in '74, and hasn't looked back. Back at our room, we fell into a blissful sleep after having a full - and pretty great - day.

The next day we woke up to do - what else? - some wine tasting. After all, when in Rome, right? I've always wanted to wine taste on the Central Coast but never had a chance to. We started out at a place called "Opolo," which is Greek for "fun," we learned. We tasted some wines there, and Karissa picked up a bottle of their Sangiovese. We took a recommendation from them to try a place called "Oso Libre" out up the road, and this place may have been our favorite. Fairly new, but with some pretty good wines already being produced, this place had that wonderful feeling of the kind of place where things are on the upswing. We made friends with the winemaker, Chris, who was not only smart enough to move there, plant a vineyard, and make wine, but also smart enough to make double use of his land as a frisbee golf course. This is a guy that knows how to live! We met his dogs, their names were (blank & blank), he said one was the brains, and the other one was the brawn.

The last place we tasted was a place called "The Whalebone," and miraculously enough, they said their name came from the fact that a whale bone was found on their vineyard. Amazing.

At this point, we'd had our fair share of vino and needed to get some lunch, so we headed to the deli around the corner on Highway 46. After lunch we were pretty much done for, so we drove back to the coast and took a beach walk, then bought our guys shirts at the Sea Chest, since we both have significant others who love to fish and love seafood. We are so excited to take them there when we are down there for the wedding. We didn't eat again at Sea Chest, instead we opted for "El Churlito," a Mexican place in Cambria that was recommended to us as a potential place to have our rehearsal dinner. The food was pretty good, the view was really nice with a garden full of succulents and coastal wildflowers, and then beyond that, the sea. We called it an early night because we'd had another full day!

The next morning Sandy, the flower lady we're working with, met us at our motel room to discuss flowers for our wedding. We made great progress. We chose flowers to use in the bouquets for the bridesmaids and I, and the flowers for the centerpieces. Also, I finally found the flower I am putting in my hair, it's a Malaysian orchid and so pretty. This meeting was a huge relief because flowers are so difficult to discuss over the phone.

That wrapped up our time on the Central Coast, and from there, we packed up for Santa Cruz, where the bachelorette was about to begin! But on our way north toward Santa Cruz, we did make one last stop at one of my favorite places on Earth for brunch: Cafe Kevah in Big Sur. We ordered mimosas, and took in the view, and had a little break from driving around all of those curves. Up next: Santa Cruz.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Memoir of a treasured friendship

Summer of 2007 - Cardiff by the Sea

November 2007 - Havana, Cuba

Summer of 2009 - Our Casa, Sacramento

New Year's 2009-2010 - Baja

I met Karissa on the swings at the park near both of our houses when we were ten years old. We lived 5 blocks apart. I didn't see her again until a couple of years later in junior high school, but we were in different grades so we really didn't hang out. Even in high school we were kind of in different crowds. But after high school, and then really after college we became close.
Summer of 2001 was our summer. We had both graduated college a year before that (she graduated from UCSD and I from Chico State), and in the interim she'd moved to Berkeley, and I'd been living in Hawaii. We both ended up back in Sac that summer and all we did all summer was have fun. We somehow had both managed to save enough to take the summer off, and all we did was get iced coffees every day, and went to see live music practically every night. We also laid by the pool a lot at the house where she was house-sitting for the summer. It was pretty nice.
At the end of the summer she left for the Peace Corps in Paraguay, where she spent the next three years. When she returned I was in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, (just north of San Diego) and she joined me there. We lived there together for a year and a half before I moved back to Sacramento.
I moved home because both my maternal grandmother "Mum," and my biological father "Danny" had both died unexpectedly in six months. I had a job I hated as a loan processor for a shady mortgage company, in fact their business practices were so unethical that they were later shut down. I felt out at sea and just really lost so I moved home.
Between the two deaths in the family, a job I hated, and no love life to speak of (except for occasional internet dates that were so bad I still cringe to think of them) I felt like maybe things just weren't working out for me down south. It's been four and a half years since I've moved home, but the one thing I've missed practically every day since I left was living near Karissa.
We did everything together: cooked together, drank wine together, walked on the beach together, watched sunsets together, surfed together, went out for drinks or live music or whatever. She was and still is the person I tell everything to: the good, the bad, and everything in between. If I have great news, she's the person I want to call. If there's bad news, she's still the person I want to call. It's great to have someone you love to talk about everything with. We talk about new wines we tried and love, or new recipes, or places that we want to travel to.
We both love to travel and she's traveled a ton throughout Central & South America, among other places. We went to Cuba together and it was truly a trip of a lifetime. I look forward to traveling together a lot more. We are taking a road trip down the Central Coast this coming week to look at my wedding site, and do some wine tasting, then heading up to Santa Cruz for the bachelorette party. I can't wait! Some of the very best moments in my life have been with her. She's also been with me through some of the worst parts of my life, and I can honestly say that she's one of the few people that didn't walk away when my life was feeling like a bad dream. But things have turned around and now I just look forward to all of the good times ahead. We want to take cooking classes in Italy together, and go to Portugal and Greece, and see Starfish Beach in Panama together, and I forget the rest but there are many more dreams on that list.
I've heard that if you're lucky, you can count your close friends on one hand. Surprisingly, some of the closest friendships I've had in my life, friendship I thought would never change, have, and some of those people I rarely talk to anymore. Not because of a big argument, but just over time and distance, we've grown apart. This will never happen with us. We are like family. We'd do anything for each other. I feel so lucky to have met a friend like this in my life. Our friendship is one of my greatest blessings.

Sunday, April 4, 2010