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The Week We’ve been Waiting For #VACATIONALLIEVERWANTED

The Week We’ve been Waiting For #VACATIONALLIEVERWANTED

It’s been quite a week. We closed on our new house on Friday, left for vacation first thing on Saturday morning, and when we get home from vacation on Sunday, we move right into the new house. Normally I don’t say anything about being on vacation until I’m already back, but all our stuff is packed in a POD, so there isn’t anything in either our new or our old house, anyway.

This year’s vacation has been a low-key visit with family. Because we had a 5:40 am flight out of the ‘burgh, we decided to stay overnight at the hotel at the airport. I took Baby Beez for a swim, and was very successful at tiring that kid ahhhhht (wonderful result: she was so tired that she slept through most of the morning’s flight).

Swimming

We flew in to San Francisco to spend a day checking out the city.

First things first: Breakfast. We braved the 30+ minute line to get a table at Dottie’s True Blue Café, and it was absolutely worth it. Hanging out on a Saturday morning on a sidewalk in SoMa with a 3 year old is full of interesting questions like “Why is that man sleeping on the sidewalk?” So yes, all around an experience.

San Francisco

Dotties

The ambience is irreverent and fun (not a typically kid-friendly place, but ours stayed out of the way and we didn’t even get dirty looks for bringing her there). The menu is full of all kinds of sweet and savory treats. Dottie’s is famous for their pancakes, but when it comes to breakfast, I opt for eggs. I got zucchini cakes with poached eggs and spicy marinara, and a side of lamb sausage. Amazing. The bloody mary could have done with a few more garnishes, but the drink itself was solid. Dottie’s is A+

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Despite being totally stuffed, we decided our next item on the itinerary should also be full of food. Off to the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building we went. The Ferry Building itself is full of gourmet food stalls, like Pittsburgh’s Strip District or Philly’s Reading Terminal market. On weekends they also add on an enormous farmers market. We only made it through about 1/3 of the farmers market stalls, and it pains me to say this, but the variety in California’s agriculture blows Pennsylvania out of the water. All the fruit! The fruit!

Ferry Building 1

Ferry Building 3

Ferry Building 4

After stuffing ourselves, it was time to burn off some calories at the playground.

Playground

And then, a quick rest at our super cool hotel, Hotel Tomo. The price was in line with most of the hotel chains we are familiar with, but the hotel itself had personality and good service.

Hotel Tomo

Hotel Tomo 2

After the brief respite, it was back to adventuring. First up: The Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate

golden gate family

And afterward, of course, we ventured to Chinatown for some dinner!

Chinatown

All of this running around on the first day was followed-up with a quiet day of driving up to Oregon, aka quality time with my audiobooks.

Road Trip

I spy Mt. Shasta.

Mt Shasta

Once we made it to Oregon, we’ve been spending the time hanging out with family. Baby Beez was very excited to go fishing with her Papa. We came back empty handed, but had a lovely time enjoying the gorgeous surroundings.

fish lake

Fish Lake 4

Fish lake 2

That's enough fishing for today.

That’s enough fishing for today.

Today was also busy, with a trip to the Spray Park, a visit to a farm, and hanging out with family. Tomorrow, finally, is a day of doing not much of anything at all. I’m excited to check out a class of Bikram Yoga of Ashland, and we’ll spend the rest of the day just hanging around the house.

Good night.

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A Perfectly Pittsburgh Wedding

I’m a sucker for wedding write-ups, and it’s always an extra thrill when the Whirl Wedding Guide rolls into my mailbox. I spent my treadmill time yesterday thumbing through its pages, jealous of the excitement that goes with planning the Big Day. It’s fun to see how couples personalize their big day, what traditions are going strong, and what traditions have fallen by the wayside.

We’ve stumbled out of the newlywed phase– March 29th will mark our 5 year anniversary! Our wedding is just far enough in the past that the stress of sorting out vendors and tussling with family has subsided. All I have now are those fond memories of paging through advertisements, dreaming of what my day would be like in this venue or that, and trying to pick out decor that is classy but speaks to our personalities.

Wedding planning was a puzzle for me, and I craved the success of fitting it all together just right. We were on a budget, but of course we didn’t want the wedding to have a budget feel. The party served to celebrate our union, but we wanted our guests to return home with memories of all the fun they had.

Ultimately, I think our puzzle assembled in a grand success. It was not an all out wedding, but we were able to focus our resources on certain priorities and scale back on others. Unless you’re swimming in a Scrooge McDuck vault of money, wedding planning eventually boils down to priorities, and not every couple’s priorities are the same priorities. We were willing to pare down the guest list to a very small gathering of close family, so that we could have the higher-quality caterer we craved. We lucked out on a venue (the Warhol museum) that had a ceremony space and party space all in one location, with a hotel for all my out-of-town family in very close proximity. A bonus of picking a venue with such BIG personality– we didn’t have to worry about much decorating.

The last two weeks before the wedding brought the usual crush of last minute chaos. If there were one thing I could re-do about my wedding is that I would have spent those last two weeks, and especially the day of, popping a few extra corks and relaxing with some champagne. After all, even if something goes wrong, the wedding’s still going forward, the party’s still going to happen, and everyone has a better time when the hosts are happy.

One of the most fun things at our wedding was a special visit and dance by Steel Dragon. Their performance left us with such extraordinary memories.

When we started off with wedding planning, our singular goal was to send our guests home thinking “Boy, those two can throw a party!” And yep, I think we did it!

For just a brief moment as I perused the Wedding Guide’s last few pages, I considered “Maybe we should throw an all-out 10th Anniversary bash?” But then I realized that by that time, Baby Beez’ Bat Mitzvah will be only a few years in the future, and boy will that be an occasion to celebrate!

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Goodbye, Grandpa

Goodbye, Grandpa

My Grandpa passed yesterday after battling lung cancer for many years.  He was resting and surrounded by loved ones, and I hope at complete peace.  This is a tough time for the Farinas, but we are sharing lots of love and support.  I only wish I were in California right now to give my Grandma a hug.

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I will miss how he greeted me with “Hiya doll!” and a firm hug and slap on the back, so enthusiastic that he almost knocked the wind out of me.

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As far back as my memory goes, he had lost most of his vision and hearing.  He didn’t let this get in his way.  Despite these challenges, he kept busy by building an intricate doll house with working electricity and tiny furniture, a miniature church with all the details, and other doll-sized creations.

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He spent most of his sunny California days tinkering in the garden.  As a kid I loved to collect his carefully-grown roses that filled the front yard.  The back yard was filled with lemon and orange trees, and at harvest time every visitor was urged to please take some home!

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My favorite memory was one Christmas, after all the other presents had been opened, he brought forward another gift for Grandma from “Captain Video” (a nickname that predated me, so I don’t even know what it means).  She was puzzled, because they went and did nearly everything together all the time, and where did this gift come from? Despite being almost fully blind and deaf, he had snuck out to the shops on Ventura Boulevard and found his way to a perfume shop, and surprised Grandma with her favorite perfume.

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Thursday Mix: Things on my Brain Today

  • This week wins. As in it has demonstrated itself to be victorious over me.  I have been crazy, crazy tired. Not just sluggish, I’m talking bone tired. Can’t keep my eyes open tired. Physically falling asleep tired. Yesterday I got back from Erie at like 4pm and immediately fell asleep tired.  Then I remembered how many friends have newborns right now, and they are experiencing that kind of tired, except when I’m tired like that, I can hand my kid an iPad, stick her in her bed, and go take my own darn nap. So even though I’ve been tahred, I love my life, because napping is an actual possibility.
  • I saw Pitch Perfect not too long ago, and I kind of love it. It even made me love “Party in the USA.”  I wanted to hate this movie, but I just can’t, because it’s so fun.
  • I’ve figured out what Pinterest is useful for– It fills that “shopping spree” urge.  Like I get almost the exact same kind of satisfaction pinning all the things I want to buy, as I do from buying them (it’s the picking out process that’s so addicting for me, once the thing has arrived, the thrill is worn off).  Pinning is curbing my shopping appetite, which is very very helpful, given the aspirations of Mr. Beez and I of getting a house that actually has air conditioning in the next few years.
  • Baby Beez’s birthday is next week. She’ll be 3. What a big girl! We’re not doing a party this year, because she’s 3, and really doesn’t understand parties. But she’ll have a birthday cake, and we’re going on a little ride on the Gateway Clipper with the Orange Chair Blog family and Mr. Beez’ parents.  Baby Beez loves all kinds of methods of transportation, so I think a boat ride will be just the right kind of little celebration for her.
  • I’ve been a stupid stupid weekend warrior lately.  My anticipated training schedule (that I made myself) for the EQT 10 miler race in November was too much mileage, too fast. I ended up with terrible, crippling calf cramps.  And then I’ve stupidly persisted in these significantly longer runs on the weekends, that leave me essentially hobbled until Wednesday the following week.  I’m trying to be smart and train in a way that builds distance but doesn’t hurt me, so now I’m doing a mix of running and walking. Generally I walk 0.25 miles, run 0.75 miles, but I mix up that proportion depending on how I feel.  Given that I walked 7.5 miles last weekend alone, I’m confident that as long as I continue training with the goal of increasing distance, and am open to mixing up walking with running, I’ll be able to finish the 10 miles by November.  It may not be fast, it may be a lot of walking, but I’ll get across the finish line. I’d rather actually run the whole thing, but it is what it is, and I need to focus on being healthy, strong and not trying to push my body beyond what it can safely do.
  • I am simultaneously reading a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, world’s wost book (The Host by Stephanie Meyer) and an absolutely excellent book (The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling).  I have no idea why I’m continuing with the awful book.  I like the general idea behind the story, but it’s just awful writing, and I’ve come this far, I guess I kind of feel like I might as well finish it. Ugh it is so bad.
  • Holiday weekend coming up! What’s going on with yinz guys?