Ode to One Fish

Yeah, my fish died. I had it for a really long time — like 10 years or so. It was just a simple goldfish that I’d brought home from school to take care of over winter break years ago. For some reason I didn’t take it back and that fish found its way into our home. It moved with us several times, changed locations around the house a million times, saw several fish friends come and go, allowed the cats to drink the water from its bowl, and survived the tot dumping tons of fish food in the tank.

It was a good fish.

I know it is silly to get attached to a goldfish. I love fishing. I love eating fish. But that darn goldfish greeted me every morning when I stumbled into the kitchen, kept watch over me while I cooked dinner, and wiggled its tail like crazy whenever I came near the tank.

Fish’s latest companion of three years left us a couple of weeks ago. Just another simple goldfish. We hadn’t done anything different or changed the water or moved the tank around or anything. But I kind of had a feeling.

When I woke up the other day and One Fish (yes, that was my fishy’s name) was lilting, I just acted like he/she was extra tired. Maybe it had  a long night? Maybe he/she was lonely?


One Fish was on the way out.

Last night I bawled while my husband took care of my floating fish. It was pretty pathetic. I know One Fish was just a goldfish, but that goldfish was the awesomest goldfish around. I was used to watching as he/she swam around the tank, loved how my daughter was starting to understand the concept of caring for a pet, and how One Fish’s tail was the coolest fish tail around.

Our solution?

We went to the pet store and picked up a mini tank and plopped it atop of our daughter’s dresser in her room. She’s been a bit of a challenge at bedtime (it’s too dark, I’m not tired, I need water, I’m bored, tuck me in again, I dropped my toy….) and figured having the new fish in her room in a tank with a light would help lull her to sleep.

Her nighttime routine now includes saying goodnight several times to her new itty-bitty goldfish that she named Red, she then sings the fishy a song, then talks to it, then sings again, then talks to it a bit more, and eventually falls asleep.

Hey, I don’t care.

She’s not calling for me every five minutes and that itty-bitty fish cost 15 cents at the pet store and can be swapped as many times as needed.

Thanks for the memories, One Fish.

I’ll miss you.

Lunch at Anchor & Hope in San Francisco


Yesterday we were treated to a holiday lunch at the Anchor & Hope by some wonderful friends. My husband’s known this couple for almost 20 years, and has been working with his buddy for over 10. It was a true treat for us to drop the tot off at preschool and then head into the city for this special gathering, and I was looking forward to a tasty lunch (and maybe a mid-day glass of wine — total indulgence!).

Known for their tasty fish dishes, the restaurant is tucked on Minna street and has an ample seating area and a bar for patrons. We had a noon reservation, and when we got there (after struggling to find parking!) the place was packed. Before I even had a moment to look at the menu, a beautiful selection of oysters, perfectly poached shrimp, fresh clams, crab and lobster salad, and a variety of house sauces was placed on our table.



From here we sampled more delicious oysters and also sipped an amazing bottle (or two) of wine.


While watching the food come out of the kitchen it looked like the lobster roll sandwich was the thing to order, and our party ordered their share — along with the seared salmon sandwich (which I ordered).


Then it was time for coffee and dessert, which was also absolutely delicious. In fact the cup of coffee that my husband ordered (that I sipped too) was one of the best cups of coffee I’ve had ever.




But the best thing about our lunch was the amazing service. Our waiter was wonderfully attentive without being overbearing and the rest of the staff filled water glasses and removed plates like silent serving ninjas, making us feel like we were the only table in the place, which we weren’t. The place was packed, and from the smiling and approving faces seen around the restaurant, everyone else was having an awesome time too.

While checking out the dinner menu, which wasn’t much different than the lunch offerings, I had no doubt that the restaurant would be packed again in only a few hours with patrons that would continue streaming in until closing. But, I would suggest hitting Anchor & Hope for lunch — with a reservation of course. You can sit and enjoy a leisurely mid-day meal, without feeling rushed, and not bust the bank. Sandwiches run around $15 to $24, with lunch entrees over $18. And you have to order a few oysters (starting at $2 each), which are shucked perfectly and seriously tasty.

Plan on parking at the garage on Howard and 2nd (which ran us $9) and metered parking is free after 6pm and on Sundays. You’ll love the energy of the restaurant, the fantastic staff, and the sensational fish.

Homemade mocha café au lait

This time of year I’m always reminded of the scents of the season. From sharp peppermint to soothing cinnamon, I get so caught up in baking and cooking and creating heavenly smelling goodies. And nothing goes better with all those holiday treats than a big cup of coffee. So I figured combining the two would be heavenly.

When a big batch of Dunkin’ Donuts® coffee arrived on my doorstep, I knew I had to combine that coffee with some delicious scents of the season and concoct a hot and steamy holiday drink. Nothing evokes the joy of the holidays like sharing memories with family and close friends over a cup of delicious coffee.

And some of my first memories of the holidays involve the scent of coffee. For some reason the smell of that coffee brewing in the morning takes me back to my little self and the anticipation of what may come. From opening exciting gifts to spending time with loved ones, that sharp dark scent always reminds me of the holiday season even to this day. My husband often brews an individual cup of coffee for himself early in the morning, so the smell doesn’t linger — it’s usually gone by the time the tot and I make our way upstairs.

Such a shame.

The other morning I indulged and made a whole pot of some Dunkin’ Donuts® gingerbread flavored coffee and mixed it together with a few ingredients to create a sweet smelling and eye-opening morning brew. There are so many flavors to choose from: Original Blend, Dunkin’ Decaf® and special seasonal varieties including Mocha Mint, Pumpkin Spice and Gingerbread Cookie. But act fast as these seasonal varieties are only available for a limited time at your local grocery store.

-keep reading for the homemade mocha café au lait recipe!

Are you ready for some sangria?!

*I was not paid for this post, just provided with a bottle of sangria for tasting.

There’s no other way to say this — it’s been really hot here. We’re talking in the 90’s-can’t even go outside-don’t want to cook or do anything- kind of hot. I’ve been trying to stay cool in the yard with the tot and my laptop getting work done while she stumbles about in a swim suit spraying herself with the hose. So when this box showed up on my doorstep containing a vibrant bottle of sangria, I had a hard time waiting for the appropriate time of day to crack it open.

Just a reminder, I wasn’t paid for this post — just provided with a lovely bottle to taste test and then share my opinion. Eppa SuperFruit Sangria is a blend of real fruits, including blueberries, pomegranate, blood orange, and acai resulting in a wine that contains twice the amount of healthy antioxidants than a regular ol’ glass of red wine and only 120 per serving for about $12 a bottle.

And this sangria is certified organic.

The base is a Mendocino Cabernet and Syrah, made  just north of me, and creates the perfect compliment to the sweet fruits. As soon as I opened the bottle, I knew the wine was going to be tasty and wonderfully fruity. The bottle told me to pour over ice and enjoy with a slice of fresh fruit. Well, thanks, I will!

After my first sampling, the undercurrents of the wine was lovely with a fruity finish. Because the wine is combined with real, organic super fruit juice, the result is quite a treat, and definitely on the sweet side. I decided to use the sangria as the base for a lovely spritzer and topped my glass with a good shot of sparkling mineral water and a big slice of lemon.


This sangria would be perfect at any picnic or gathering — or for a fun night hanging with the ladies. And it would also be a great base for making tasty cocktails any time of year. Here’s another cocktail suggestion from Shape. Wondering where to pick up a bottle? Whole Foods carries the wine, but if you don’t have one near you, check out their store locator to find a bottle near you.

The fence

I am not a fence builder. My dad and husband built the fence around our lot, but this situation was totally different. If you’re wondering why the need for a fence, here’s the back story. We weren’t so interested in making things super secure (basically we didn’t want to dig holes and pour cement) because we were paralleling the chain link fence. The plants that were still left from the butchering on our side of the fence were very happy, which meant we needed to build around or weave the fence through.

We had no idea what to do.

After digging holes and securing a few 6-foot redwood stakes, we started weaving thin redwood slates to create a horizontal organic fence. We are calling it a big trellis…

By the end of the first day we were feeling pretty good about how things were going. You can still see the (now bare) chain link fence and a bit of the football field, but at least now we can train the vines to grow on OUR FENCE.

Today we added the final few lengths, repositioned a few plants, and mourned the loss of quite a bit of one of our really mature grape vines. I think I’ll mourn it a bit more later with a glass of wine…

A plant tragedy

This week got away from me. There was also a bit of plant tragedy, which left me a bawling fool yesterday. You see we’ve got a yard that sides with the high school football field. This is actually a good thing because it means we don’t have neighbors lurking behind us, things are pretty quiet for the most part, we have AMAZING views, and if kids decide to hang out late-night on the field and do things that teenagers do, we can always call the cops and complain (and they show up with this crazy-bright strobe light and do this hunt-and-chase thing with the kids that is kind of cool instead of just yelling at them or something).

For the last three years I have nurtured several plants along the fence line, weaving them into the fence, building a natural layer of privacy instead of putting up a big fence that would block the light and completely close us off from the field. Here and there are small holes for use to catch a glimpse of the soccer game on Sundays or the fall football games.

Here’s the picture I posted just the other day after we racked leaves.

See that nice, lush wall to the left of my tot? All the plants on my side of the fence are still there. Any parts of them that grew through or winded their way within that fence are gone.

It’s just chain link again.

I was in tears for most of the day yesterday.

Yes. I know that’s a bit pathetic, but I cried over the time I spent with those pants. I cried about how they were chopped and butchered with a seriously loud gasoline chainsaw. I even went and asked the school gardener yesterday though tears if he really needed to cut them, to which he responded that it was his job and that he is a gardener and knows what he is doing.

I couldn’t stop crying.

Today is a new day and I do realize I was a bit distraught over plants that will grow back in time, but still ache over what had been my happy plants. I’d post a picture but I haven’t been able to visit the yard without getting a bit teary-eyed.

Tomorrow we have plans for building a fence, which might end with the husband and I having a drop-down-drag-out fight or us happily sipping cocktails in our newly fenced yard by Sunday.

(And the fence building I will document. OH yes I will.)


Healthful Mondays – Eating with your kids

yogurt fettuccine

Things have been seriously crazy over here. I had an awesome job interview last week, the tot and I spent lots of wonderful quality time together (now that we stopped going to the preschool), and I made the big decision to have us start eating dinner together every night. What we had done was I fed our daughter dinner around 5 or so. Then, when the hubs arrived home at 6 – 6:30-ish, he’d have one-on-one time with her until bedtime at 7:30. But, by that time, she was out of control, not fun, and my husband wasn’t having any sort of quality time with her at all. Then, after we put the tot to bed, I’d cook dinner (and have a drink) and we’d have adult dinner around 8:30.


Since stopping the preschool (another story for another time) the tot’s behavior has been better, but we still seemed to be running into a bit of trouble during the last few hours of her day. And the two dinner thing wasn’t working. I decided we’d try eating all together around 6:30. I figured she’s old enough to start sitting with us while eating, and we’re old enough that we really should be eating much earlier in the evening, so we tried it for the entire week.

Some nights were better than others.

I’ll be honest, by the weekend I’d decided I needed a break, so the tot  enjoyed peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches (her new favorite) while I cooked our adult dinners that we enjoyed after she went down for the night.

The highlight? *Creamy yogurt fettuccine! Along with a more enjoyable time together in the evenings, our toddler loves setting out napkin placemats for us, learning more about table manners, and assisting with dinner clean-up!

yogurt fettuccine for toddlers

Eating together as a family has so many benefits, including an opportunity to really chat together about everyone’s day, and studies show eating family meals encourage healthy eating habits, better school performance, and positive behavior. I grew up in a family that ate together every night, which was sometimes seriously annoying as a teenager, but it worked. I sulked my way through many a dinner, but deep down I valued that time together with my family. Even after my sister had gone off to college, I sat down to eat with my parents most nights of the week.

On a side note, I had a tragedy over the weekend. My laptop crashed. This was seriously traumatic for me – resulting in a bit of crying and some serious brooding. Wonderfully, it was an $80 fix, but I lost everything on the computer. Everything. I hadn’t backed-up my pictures in months, resulting in hundreds and hundreds of lost pictures. Yes, I take a lot of pictures, and, now that I’ve got the fancy phone, many are on the phone, but I’m still a bit sad over what’s not there anymore. I got a seriously wrist slapping from the husband about how I hadn’t backed up. All I’m saying is invest in a small hard drive, or get yourself set up with a back-up system, and back your stuff up! This way if your computer decides to take a dive you won’t lose your precious stuff.


Do it now.

(It was also my birthday and my husband bought me a cake – and lots of chocolate)

Happy Monday!

*I’ll share the recipe for yogurt fettuccine later in the week….


Echelon Vineyards: All kinds of wonderful

This week was full of ups and downs. The tot and I had a few disagreements (but what’s new, right?), a couple of things changed with my work stuff, and the cats continued being cats and waking me up the minute they saw the sun. But, there was one wonderfully, shining moment early in the week – the moment an actually somewhat-hunky guy showed up on my doorstep bearing wine – and he wasn’t my husband.

Thanks to Echelon Vineyards and the Clever Girls Collective, I had the opportunity to sample a few bottles of Echelon wine. Let me tell you up front, I wasn’t paid to write this review – just offered a few bottles to taste test and then share my honest opinion. I mean, really, twist my arm and all that stuff.

(I couldn’t wait to start sampling!)

Honestly? I pretty much like all wine. But, I do have a bit of a wine-snob husband. He worked his way through college while waiting tables at the San Ysidro Ranch and part of his job was checking out wine – and we’re talking the good stuff. He’s a bit of a snoot and is brutally honest while tasting, so I enlisted him to assist. I decided what better way to really get a full understanding of the flavors than by cooking up a special dinner for each bottle.

Let me tell you.

All kinds of wonderful.

We started out with the 2010 Echelon Vineyards Chardonnay that I paired with grilled garlic and oregano marinated boneless skinless chicken thighs over rice and fresh spinach topped with homemade tzatziki sauce. We had a sip of the Chardonnay before eating and both commented on how light and smooth it was. Neither of us had read the label, but the husband noted instantly the hints of honey, pear, and apple. It went wonderfully with our dinner, and, I’ll be honest, there wasn’t any wine left once we were finished. Echelon’s Chardonnay is a complex but light wine that I would bring to any barbecue.


The next night we cracked open a bottle of the 2010 Echelon Vineyards Red Blend. We both had a bit of hesitation – the idea of a red blend had me concerned (headache in the morning), but we figured we’d have a glass and then (potentially) use the rest for cooking. While putting the finishing touches on our oven-baked vegetarian eggplant parmesan, we sampled a small glass and both couldn’t keep sipping. Once again, neither of us had read the label, but commented on the light, fruity flavor of the blend and called out the oaky-ness as well as the smoothness, which didn’t leave a dry feeling in the mouth. Once again, there wasn’t any wine left at the end of dinner….


A few nights later I made barbecue chicken breasts along with a hot lentil salad with roasted red pepper, radishes, and beets. We couldn’t wait to try the 2010 Echelon Vineyards Pinot Grigio because the other bottles had been so good. Let’s just say we’d both had a nice, big glass before we even sat down to dinner. It was so cold and fresh and the husband noted the light but super-crisp flavor with the slight fruit undertones.  I simply tasted all kinds of goodness. We both decided this was our favorite bottle of the three – by far. It also went wonderfully with our dinner. This is a perfect summer wine and lovely with anything from grilled meats to big salads


Echelon Vineyards has won its fair share of awards and I can see why. Their wines are easy to drink and not overly anything in any way. And, they are wonderfully priced ($10-$15 per bottle), making them taste even better.

Head on over to Echelon Vineyards for more information about their wines and where you can pick up a bottle. Do it – seriously, do it now. You’re entitled to a nice glass of wine!


*Once again, I wasn’t paid to write this post – just provided with some really amazingly good wine to sample. I also wasn’t asked to write a blog post about the wines, but I did because they were that good.

Date night (with a toddler)

It’s been a long week. The tot came down with a pretty nasty sick ick and the husband was super busy. On top of all that, the hubs had something going on tonight (Friday), which meant I would be on my own all day and evening with the tot. Yeah, yeah. I know some of you are rolling your eyes. But, after being with her all week, and the husband only seeing her for about two hours total each day, I was a wreck.

Last night the husband had a crazy idea. What about a date night – with the tot in tow? She and I could take the ferry into the city, rendezvous with him at the Ferry Building to enjoy a quick dinner (and a sampling of other tasty goodies), and then the tot and I could return home on the ferry with the hubs following behind an hour or so after.

At first I thought he was joking.

Load up a sickie, drag her onto a ferry, and then try to have a tasty meal out in the city?!


I did it.

We had an awesome time. Sure, she yelled the entire time on the ferry that she was going to see her dada. Sure, she wasn’t wonderfully behaved while we were eating – but we sat outside and it didn’t matter. And, yeah, I forgot to take a picture of our dinner (but we can partially blame that on the margherita I had with the meal).

But, here are a couple of other pics…

Happy Friday!

The Magic Room

Just about every girl daydreams about her wedding at some point. No matter if she’s hoping for a princess dress or something simple and elegant, that gown is a big part of her romantic musing.

While reading The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow I was reminded of my experience while trying on wedding dresses. I was with my sister at a re-sale and seconds wedding shop and we were on our own. I would’ve loved if Shelley, or any of her staff from Becker’s, had there to help me make my decision and then lead me down to the Magic Room for my final selection.

This book is such a good read and reminds us all that life happens when you least expect it. The stories shared in The Magic Room tell of anxious young brides, mother-daughter relationships, and the irony and tragedy of love.

Make sure to get nice and comfy before starting to read The Magic Room. Once you start you won’t be able to stop.

Head on over to BlogHer and join the book discussion!