Scott and Caroline's Current Location: Oakland, California

 

7/01/12 - Scott and Caroline have a new address!  901 Jefferson Street, #510, Oakland, CA  94607

 

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Hellll-ooo, Albuquerque!

5/4/13 - Albuquerque, NM

Checking on the house and visiting with great friends

This post finds us just returned home from our unofficial annual weekend pilgrimage to the high desert.  Our third tenant in as many years- a young couple in the film industry with a shar pei dog - is moving in later this week and we thought we'd better go see how the house was faring after a couple of move-ins and -outs.  And as an added bonus, it also gave us a wonderful excuse to see a few friends from our Albuquerque days. 

We hadn't seen the interior of our former home since we moved out almost exactly two years ago and we weren't quite sure what to expect when we got there.  Upon arrival, we were pleased to see that it was quite clean.  The dog smell that several prospective tenants complained of had been completely eradicated with carpet cleaning and the house was in surprisingly good condition overall (not perfect, but good enough).  We were very pleased with our most recent tenant's treatment of the place and are sad to see him go.  Furthermore, we were delighted to hear from our friendly next-door neighbor, Rick, that our most recent tenant, Tim, had even had a couple lively-sounding parties out on the patio just as we had hoped he would, as this patio was meant to host parties.  Since there were no real surprises at the house, we easily finished the small projects we intended to work on during the day on Saturday and on a quick follow-up visit on Sunday, as well as compiling   (more text &  photos)

   
Merry Christmas from Seoul!

12/31/12 - Seoul, South Korea

Trudging through the cold and snow on an adventurous first trip to Asia

On the day before New Year’s Eve we returned home from a very cold but equally rewarding week spent in South Korea.  Just about the first thing that everyone asks us about this trip is “how/why did you decide to go to Korea?!”  It was a bit of an odd choice, I suppose, and so I guess I’ll start there.  When we began researching this trip, we knew we wanted to go to Asia, as it was one of the remaining continents we had yet to visit (we hope to do South America next time).  We really were thinking of going someplace a bit warmer, such as Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia, and which have all been popular destinations for Westerners in recent years, but flight times are much longer and more expensive and we only had a week to travel due to Scott's work schedule.  While researching flights to Southeast Asia, Scott started noticing that many of them stopped over in Seoul, South Korea, which only takes as long to travel to as many parts of Europe.  (We could have just as easily gone to Japan but decided to wait until we had more time, both to plan as well as to visit.)  And so Korea it was (being the practical-minded folks that that we are. And besides, we do seem to gravitate to the road less traveled if given half a chance…)!   (more text &  photos)

   
Happy Holidays!

12/15/12 - Oakland, CA

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season!

 Holiday Greetings from Oakland!

 

Click here to see our 2012 holiday photo

   
Happy Thanksgiving from Lake Tahoe!

11/24/12 - Northstar-at-Tahoe, CA

A perfect holiday celebration in the mountains with old friends and new

In keeping with tradition, we traveled to Lake Tahoe to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with  the usual suspects - Jen, Tod, Christine, Mark and their four kids between them - and some new friends this year, too.  Earlier in the week, we had hosted Caroline's friend Barb and her boyfriend Chris at our apartment.  On Wednesday afternoon, in preparation for our holiday weekend departure, we dropped our friends off at their hotel in the City and said a fond farewell.  Back at the apartment, we loaded up the car (a rather slow and laborious process when you live on the 5th floor) and hit the road, where we proceeded to sit in holiday traffic for about 5 or 6 hours on our drive to the mountains.  Long after dark, we finally arrived at the house to the sound of loud cheering.  We thought our friends were excited to see us but it turned out that the drunken cheers were for the person who won the bet on when we would finally arrive.  Some friends!  After our long drive, the weekend quickly improved, with Mark mixing his usual creative, yet bizarre drinks (cinnamon whiskey and Mountain Dew??!!) and lots of laughter   (more text &  photos)

   
Welcome to Our New Apartment in the Heart of Downtown Oakland!

10/12/12 - Oakland, CA

Finally posting photos of our new apartment in Oakland's historic Old Oakland district

Since moving in in early July, we've been enjoying our new downtown apartment and neighborhood immensely.  While our old place in the Rockridge district was quaint and full of historical architectural details (not to mention basement storage!), it simply lacked the modern layout, design, energy efficiency and appliances that we craved.  We do miss having a private outdoor space but we sure love not having to mow the lawn and our new apartment, a corner unit situated on the fifth (top) floor of a 4-year-old building has almost everything else we wanted (including slightly lower rent).

 

Our new neighborhood of Old Oakland is quite diverse and includes a vibrant, youthful population, attracting a variety of interesting bars and restaurants.  In addition, bustling Chinatown is mere blocks from our front door and the upscale-casual restaurants, kayak rentals and waterfront of Jack London Square are a short walk away as is the 3-mile walking path that rings man-made Lake Merritt, located just one mile from our building.       (more text &  photos)

   
Idyllic, Lazy Days at the Beach and a High School Reunion

8/07/12 - Grand Haven, MI

Heading back to the west 'coast' of Michigan to spend some quality time with family, friends and old high school classmates

We've just returned from ten days of touring up and down the west side of our home state of Michigan, enjoying near-perfect summer weather and a multitude of family visits.  You could say the unofficial theme of this trip was reunions.  It all started because it was time once again for Caroline's GHHS Class of '87 high school reunion.  She had so much fun five years ago at her 20th, that the minute she left, she vowed to return for the next one.  And now it was nearly upon us.  Neither of us had had the privilege of being in Michigan during one of their wonderful summers in quite some time and Scott had yet to meet our niece Kate who was turning one-year-old on the day of the reunion itself.  Furthermore, Scott's parents and closest cousins would all be together in one place on their annual vacation up at Torch Lake the week leading up to the reunion.  Add to that that Caroline's sister and her family had rented a beach-front cottage on Lake Michigan for that week as well, and the timing couldn't have been more perfect.  We decided it would be a good time to make a week-plus trip of it, visiting with extended family on both sides as well   (more text &  photos)

   
A Return Visit to the Duke City

2/06/12 - Albuquerque, NM

Eight months after moving to Oakland, we head to Albuquerque to reunite with some good friends and great scenery

It's been a beautiful winter here in California this year - mostly dry, temps in the 60s and sunny, blue skies (although as I write this, I am listening to raindrops patter against the window).  But despite the stellar weather, as January turned into February, we decided we could use a change of scene and that it was time to take a much-needed break from Caroline's dismay at the tight job market and Scott's hectic and all-consuming work schedule.  Besides, even though we are still pretty happy with our decision to move away, we had made some close friends during our time in Albuquerque and we were determined to stay in touch as we began our new life in California.  So, on a bit of a whim we caught a Southwest flight to Albuquerque last Thursday!  After a week of feverish logistical planning to try to make sure we could see as many old friends as possible in the space of a long weekend, Caroline was happy to put away her social-planner hat and relax with friends upon our arrival in Albuquerque. 

After touching down at the Sunport on Thursday afternoon, and following a brief visit with Scott's old co-workers at UNM Hospital, we picked up Margaret, our hostess for the evening, from work and decided that tonight called for a New Mexican culinary treat.  After settling in at the house, we eventually descended upon the ultra-casual and ultra-New Mexican atmosphere of Padilla's with Margaret, Petra, Joe and even Jeremy - who just happened to be in Albuquerque from Philadelphia on business, as luck would have it! - and enjoyed a lively, convivial meal, along with some of the best sopapillas in town!  The weekend was off to an excellent start and after some catching up with Christopher over celebratory champagne and cognac in front of a roaring fire back at the house, we fell gratefully  (more text &  photos)

   
Happy Holidays!

12/04/11 - Oakland, CA

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season!

 Holiday Greetings from Oakland!

 

Click here to see our 2011 holiday photo

   
Happy Thanksgiving from Lake Tahoe!

11/26/11 - Northstar-at-Tahoe, CA

Celebrating all we have to be thankful for with good friends in a snowy, winter wonderland (well, sort of)

This Thanksgiving, we had the pleasure of returning to Lake Tahoe to spend yet another holiday weekend at friends Jen and Tod's home in the mountains, along with Christine and Mark and their kids as well.  This was to be our fourth Thanksgiving celebration with this particular group of friends (more than we've jointly celebrated this particular holiday with either of our families!) and we arrived on Wednesday morning full of eager anticipation for the celebratory meal and fun-filled weekend that lay ahead.  Once again, Christine and Scott had planned to work from 'home' for a bit and Scott settled right in as Caroline unpacked in the kitchen the myriad bags and boxes of food and supplies we'd brought with us.  When we arrived, Jen and Tod were waiting in the driveway for the shuttle to take their girls skiing and Caroline was barely out of her coat before 10-year-old Evan enthusiastically invited her to play a game of Monopoly, the first invitation of many over the course of the weekend.  But it was nice to see the kids feeling more familiar with us even if Caroline didn't really want to play Monopoly at 10-o-clock in the morning! 

After a low-key Wednesday of work, a pizza lunch in the village where we watched the ice skaters for a bit and dinner of experimental   (more text &  photos)

   
Houseguest #2, John from MI, Comes to California

10/10/11 - Oakland, CA

We host our friend John on a beautiful Indian Summer weekend

Hot on the heels of Caroline's return from a family visit to Michigan, Scott's childhood friend John arrived from Detroit.  Having thoroughly enjoyed the high desert landscapes of New Mexico on his last visit to us, he was hoping for a second trip to Albuquerque.  Unfortunately for John, he missed his window of opportunity by mere months.  But luckily for us, he was happy to come to the Bay Area instead and was rewarded handsomely with three days of the best weather imaginable (following an arrival day of intermittent showers spent wandering the streets of San Francisco, solo, while Scott finished up his work week and Caroline went to the dentist).   Over beers and a baseball game at a bar on Thursday evening, it was decided that a little wine-tasting was in order.  Friday dawned clear, sunny and warm, showing no trace of Thursday's showers and gloom, and we drove off towards Napa Valley in the lingering new-car smell of our Honda Fit.  Once in the famous wine valley, we filled our day with tasting stops at three wineries, the highlight being our visit to Sterling Vineyards, where we went on a self-guided "tasting tour" after  (more text &  photos)

   
Allow Me to Introduce...the Fabulous Kate!

10/04/11 - Grand Haven, MI

Caroline travels to Michigan to meet the newest member of the family, her niece Kate

On August 3rd, Caroline and Scott's first niece, a healthy baby girl named Katarina Claire, known as Kate, was born to Caroline's sister Jen and brother-in-law Ivan.  As Caroline's side of the family was a tribe of females before our nephew Christopher came along five years ago, this was a pretty exciting occasion for them - not just a baby, but a girl baby had become the newest member of this close-knit family of ladies!  Caroline was still "in-between jobs" (a neck injury and some necessary dental work getting in the way most recently) since the move over Memorial Day Weekend and Scott was set to be busier than ever at work during the end of September and into October, so he encouraged a visit while he toiled away at home.  On September 27th, Caroline boarded a flight bound for Grand Rapids and was on her way for a week of family visiting.  Prior to the trip, it was decided that Caroline would start and end her visit in Grand Haven where her mom and stepdad, Bill live (and which is also her beloved hometown).  Those segments would bookend a 2-and-half-day visit to Lake Orion (accompanied by her mom) to meet Kate and to spend time with Jen and Christopher.  It proved to be a perfect plan, if one discounts the cold, rainy weather that was dialed up for almost the entire Lake  (more text &  photos)

   
Labor Day Weekend in Lake Tahoe

9/06/11 - Northstar-at-Tahoe, CA

Saying goodbye to summer with a holiday weekend of gorgeous weather and good friends in northern California's premier lakeside playground

Or was it gorgeous friends and good weather?  In any case, it was finally here - Labor Day weekend!  After many months of painstaking renovations, friends Jen and Tod had put the finishing touches on their beautiful and luxurious, 4-bedroom, mountain vacation home.  Located in the tranquil and scenic Northstar-at-Tahoe resort community, they are just a stone’s throw from the north shore of Lake Tahoe, along with a multitude of opportunities for outdoor fun.  And we, along with another couple, friends Mark and Christine and their two kids, were lucky enough to score an invitation for the weekend! 

Friday got off to a bit of a slow start with grocery shopping and some necessary work, but after Christine and Scott were able to put their computers away after working from "home" for most of the day, the weekend had a decadently relaxed and leisurely pace to it and much time was passed simply lounging around the house with the kids and the dogs.  Over the course of the weekend, one couple was responsible for cooking dinner each night.  Continuing the relaxed pace   (more text &  photos)

   
Jamie & Andy Come to California for a Visit!

7/20/11 - Oakland, CA

We welcome our first visitors since our return to the Bay Area

Last weekend, we welcomed friends Andy and Jamie from Albuquerque as our first guests here in Oakland!  If you're wondering how they managed to get out here so fast, we had actually arranged the visit prior to our departure from New Mexico.  Back in May, Andy already had plans to be in southern CA for work in mid-July and thought it would be fun to tack on a visit to us and then drive down the coast before his work meetings began later in the week.  And luckily, Jamie was able to make the trip as well.  Considering Scott's hectic work schedule and it being the last full weekend of us living in our sublet before moving into our new apartment, the timing turned out to be a bit crazy and so we didn't quite manage to roll out our usual red carpet for our guests as we would have liked.  But despite the circumstances, everyone seemed to enjoy the visit, guests and hosts alike.

Saturday began with a delicious breakfast at home of coffee, gourmet pastries, baguette, salami and cheese, followed by a walk through the    (more text &  photos)

   
Moving Back to the (Other) City by the Bay

6/20/11 - Oakland, CA

Returning to the Bay Area - the Oakland  neighborhood of Rockridge this time - and the lifestyle we've been longing for

With the exception of our wonderful friends and our home that still contains much of our blood, sweat and tears, we'd begun to feel as though Albuquerque had run its course for us.  We loved our house that we'd put so much work into, our beautiful neighborhood in the Sandia foothills and our fun-loving and kind-hearted friends.  But there was just something missing.  We longed for the more urban, cosmopolitan lifestyle centered around a mixed-use neighborhood, where we'd walk to grocery stores, drycleaners, restaurants and to catch the train to work that we'd left behind in San Francisco nearly seven years ago - a less car-centric lifestyle with a vibrant, bustling, neighborhood vibe was what we craved.  In recent years, our talk of leaving New Mexico had become more frequent, but we were undecided as to where we'd go.  We weren't entirely convinced we were ready to return to the Bay Area, but where then?  So we left it to simmer, just under the surface of the daily routine of our lives.  As a record cold and snowy winter turned to spring, we looked forward to another warm (ok, hot!) and relaxing New Mexican summer      (more text &  photos)

   
California Road Trip - New Year's Eve in San Francisco!

12/31/10 - San Francisco, CA

Day 7:  San Francisco - spending a relaxing day wandering the city and a rockin' NYE at Perbacco and Bimbo's 365 Club with friends

After a long day on the road the day before, followed by a lively night out with Leane, we were quite content to spend our only full day in the City staying within leisurely walking distance of the hotel.  Heading off on foot towards Union Square, we stopped at some of our favorite stores - Banana Republic, Crate and Barrel and CB2 - to drop a little cash.  From there we continued on to the beautifully renovated, waterfront Ferry Building, where we enjoyed perusing the impressive selection of gourmet offerings, such as fresh raw oysters, cheeses and mushrooms.  After pausing for a bit to watch the ferries come in from the rear deck of the Ferry Building, we  moved on to an inexpensive hamburger lunch (saving up in more ways than one for our NYE dinner reservation later on) at the delightfully old-school Red's Java House, conveniently located on the the waterfront  just up the Embarcadero from the Ferry Building.  With full stomachs and tired legs, we made one final stop at the Container Store to pick up that extra spice rack basket we'd been wanting to add to our set at home before returning to the Mosser to get ready for our night out on the town.

Dressed in our black-tie finery, we continued our pleasant day into the evening, meeting up with several friends for an unofficial reunion at Perbacco, a casually upscale Italian restaurant where our friend Kris has a friend who is a chef and so was able to get us a somewhat last-minute reservation.  John & Carey flew in from Hawaii where they now live, Kris and Jessica arrived from Kansas City, although they live in New York City and Jen and Tod made the long and    (more text &  photos)

   
California Road Trip! - Part 3

12/29 - 12/30/10 - Morro Bay, Highway 1 & San Francisco, CA

Days 5 & 6: Coastal California - a scenic drive up the coast, destination San Francisco

Having spent two satisfying days exploring the beaches of southern California, we were ready to continue on our journey northward.  After coffee in our light-filled room, we packed up the car in the pouring rain, some of the only inclement weather we saw on our trip, and headed up the coast for Morro Bay, where we'd be sleeping tonight.  The next two days were primarily allocated for a leisurely, scenic drive up the coast to San Francisco, where we planned to arrive on Thursday afternoon.  We set off, grocery store bagels in hand, in the traffic and the rain.  It looked like it might be a long day.  And it was.  Our only stops of the day involved a quick trip to Santa Monica to see if the CB2 downtown had any must-have furnishings (nope, only some juice glasses we couldn't resist), followed by a fruitless stop at an outlet mall in Ventura, where we loitered in the mall parking lot to make our final picnic lunch of the trip.  Not really our finest travel hour, to be sure.  After  (more text &  photos)

   
California Road Trip! - Part 2

12/27 - 12/28/10 - Dana Point,  Laguna Beach & Newport Beach, CA

Days 3 & 4: the Beaches of SoCal - enjoying the sound of the surf, the ocean breezes and the sand between our toes

Palm Springs had been kind to us on this trip (as usual - we love that place!) and we were loathe to leave.  But of course we were lured on by the prospect of exciting coastal adventures to come, so on Monday morning we ventured on towards our next destination.  After a couple detours due to the massive flooding they'd had just a week earlier and an ocean-front picnic lunch at Dana Point, we found ourselves at the Pacific Edge Hotel right in the heart of the charming, bustling community of Laguna Beach.  We were confident we would like this hotel, since it was a Joie de Vivre property.  We've enjoyed stays at several JdV properties in the past, so much so that we have a loyalty card for this California boutique hotel chain.  And how lucky for us, because upon checking in we learned that we had been automatically upgraded to a full ocean-front/view room (we had booked a non-view room at the ocean-front property in an attempt to keep costs down) and they threw in a full bottle of California red wine to boot, all because we carried their free loyalty card.  Sometimes, membership does pay!   The room, decorated in a playful and    (more text &  photos)

   
California Road Trip! - Part 1

12/25 - 12/26/10 - Palm Springs, CA

First stop: the California Desert - enjoying the mild weather and natural beauty of Palm Springs on our Christmas-New Year's holiday road trip

Shortly after Thanksgiving, when we learned that a couple bands we enjoyed during our days in San Francisco would be playing on New Year’ Eve at a club we also favored, we knew immediately what we were doing this New Year’s Eve – time to head to San Francisco!   As many of our friends and family know, we gave up traditional gift giving long ago.  But with a black-tie optional event scheduled on NYE in San Francisco and no other plans between Christmas and New Year’s (combined with four paid holidays from work for Scott) we decided it was a perfect time to treat ourselves to the California road trip we had been longing for in lieu of all those gifts not given.     (more text &  photos)

   
Happy Holidays from Scott & Caroline!

12/13/10 - Albuquerque, NM

Scott & Caroline's holiday greetings and 2010 Year-in-Review

Holiday Greetings from Albuquerque!

 

Click here to see our 2010 holiday newsletter

   
A Holiday Celebration!

12/11/10 - Albuquerque, NM

Hosting a festive evening of cocktails, a gourmet meal and good friends

On a blustery Saturday evening, we built a roaring fire, lit all the holiday candles and welcomed six friends into our home for a festive dinner party in celebration of the season.  Greeting our guests with Yes We Canton cocktails of ginger liqueur and pineapple juice topped with sparkling Prosecco, we were feeling especially celebratory, since Petra, despite a freshly broken leg, still managed to join us and was even dressed in her Alpine holiday finery.   Having just gotten out of the hospital one week earlier, she was accompanied by her attentive and devoted boyfriend Joe as well as her charming mom, Liz, who had just arrived from England in order to help with Petra’s convalescence and who even managed to make her famed mincemeat pies for our dessert!

Our menu of pear gorgonzola salad with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette, shrimp bisque and beef Bourguignon over buttered and parsleyed egg noodles, accompanied by several bottles of California and French pinots and Liz & Petra’s mince pies with brandy butter was well-received by all.  Nikki and    (more text &  photos)

   
Happy Thanksgiving!

11/29/10 - Albuquerque, NM

Feeling extra thankful as we host our first Thanksgiving in Albuquerque (or anywhere, for that matter!)

This Thanksgiving, we had the honor and privilege of hosting Caroline’s entire immediate family for several days of eating and other fun activities over the long holiday weekend.  Caroline’s sister Jen, brother-in-law Ivan and our 4-year-old nephew Christopher flew in from Detroit on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and her mom and step-dad, also from Michigan, rolled in via Amtrak in time for a family meal the night before Thanksgiving.  This year was a very special Thanksgiving for us, not only because we were celebrating with family but also because it was our first time ever hosting and cooking a Thanksgiving feast.  Several busy weeks were spent in advance of the big day carefully planning and preparing for the festivities.  In the end, it proved to be time well spent and we declared the weekend a success on all counts!  Spearheaded by Chef Scott, our menu of brined turkey, red-wine gravy, apple and sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, ginger-glazed carrots and bourbon cranberry sauce was made almost entirely from scratch (excepting the green bean casserole, since the Campbell’s soup version is a tradition from Caroline’s childhood) and was definitely worth all the effort that went into it!  Kudos to the chef and to all of his many helpers – he couldn’t have done it without them!  And finally, Scott’s delightful homemade desserts of traditional pumpkin pie and a glazed chocolate tart rounded out the meal just perfectly.    (more text &  photos)

   
Glorious Natural New Mexico!

11/08/10 - Various mountains and parks, NM

Enjoying three seasons of the beautiful hiking trails New Mexico has to offer (and located within 2-3 hours of our house!)

New Mexico, home to stunning scenery and few crowds, has so many fantastic hiking trails that it could accurately be nicknamed the Hidden Gem State!  While we are fortunate enough to have the gorgeous Sandias, with their multitude of awesome trails right in our backyard and take advantage of them as often as possible, there are so many other wonderful areas in our state to explore too!  Loving every opportunity to get outside, we managed to enjoy quite a few of them during the 2010 spring-summer-fall hiking season.  This year, we made our very first trip to Chaco Canyon (officially known as Chaco Culture National Historical Park) over Memorial Day weekend and couldn't believe we had waited so long - what an amazing and intriguing park!  In addition, we made return trips to some areas we've enjoyed in the past: Bandelier National Monument, Taos Ski Valley - Williams Lake Trail, McCauley Hot Springs Trail in the Jemez Mountains and 4th of July Canyon in the Manzano Mountains southeast of Albuquerque.

 

Hopefully next year, we'll have an opportunity to go further afield as well, as there are many more wonderful New Mexico hiking areas located within 3-5 hours from us that we're eager to explore!   (more photos)

   
Denise Celebrates a Milestone Birthday

10/31/10 - Las Vegas, NV

Taking a road trip to Sin City to give Scott's mom a special surprise for a special birthday

Even though we had just returned from a whirlwind 2-week trip to France 10 days earlier, we couldn't resist the lure of a road trip when Scott's dad asked us if we could come in Las Vegas in order to surprise Scott's mom for her 60th birthday.  We jumped in the van early on Friday morning of Halloween weekend, coincidentally passing Hoover Dam precisely when Scott's parents were to be there taking a tour of the new bridge and dam.  We thought we'd stop and take a look at the newly finished bridge, where we nearly ruined the surprise when we happened to run into Scott's dad!  Luckily, Denise didn't spot us and we continued on to Las Vegas, surprising her in high style at L'Atelier (de Joel Robuchon), where we were waiting at our table with Darrin and Buddy, who had surprised her the day before, when she and Jerry arrived.  The look on her face was priceless and the surprise was a success!  Happy birthday, Denise!    (more photos)

   
Bustling Beaune, Gentrified Amboise

10/19/10 - Beaune & Amboise, France   (Shutterfly photo album - Beaune area, Burgundy & Loire Valley, France)

Visiting the busy wine town of Beaune in Burgundy and spending one fabulous night in the lovely Loire Valley before traveling on home

While we enjoyed a gorgeous sun-dappled drive in to Beaune the weather quickly turned cloudy and cold, with bouts of wind and rain.  Along with the many other (mostly European) tourists in town we didn't let this deter us; upon checking into the charming enough Hotel de la Cloche, we even "enjoyed" (it was a bit chilly for Caroline's taste, if she's honest...) alfresco drinks at a busy cafe on Beaune's main square.  As the sun started to set and the day gave way to darkness, we wandered town looking for a restaurant for dinner.  Getting chillier and chillier over the course of our stroll, we chose the place with the roaring fireplace, precisely for the warmth of the fire.  Luckily the food was every bit as wonderful as the cozy atmosphere.  At the charming and friendly Piqu'Boeuf, we enjoyed a local Haute Cote Burgundy wine along with a traditional 3-course menu that included our first taste of the famed regional specialties oeufs en meurette (poached eggs in red wine sauce), boeuf Bourguignon (mmm, more red wine sauce!) and local Epoisse cheese - oh la la, delicieux!    (more text & photos)

   
We're in Burgundy!

10/14/10 - Pont Aubert, France   (Shutterfly photo album - Northern Burgundy, France)

Visiting the charming, northern region of Burgundy

Approximately 2 1/2 hours southeast of Paris lies the northern edge of Burgundy, renowned for their wine and food - making it an obvious choice for our next stop after leaving Paris.  One of the first towns we came across was Chablis, where we enjoyed the scent of wine in the air and stopped in the local co-op to sample the first of many Burgundy wines.  The very scenic, but confusing, local roads led us next to the historic, charming village of Vezelay, another recommendation from our friend Christopher.  We arrived shortly before sunset, walking up the quaint but steep streets to the Basilica Ste. Madeleine, located at the top.  The views from the walls of this hilltop town over the surrounding villages and countryside were absolutely spectacular, especially in the late afternoon light.  The basilica was beautiful, and we were there just in time to hear vespers, adding to the ambiance.

Our hotel for the next two nights was the Au Soleil d'Or in Pont Aubert, an extremely small village about 10 minutes east of Vezelay.  This establishment was... just fine.  Quirkier than our contemporary room in Paris, the friendly staff made up for a lot, especially the young man who seemed to enjoy practicing his English with us, giving us a welcome break from speaking French (or attempting to, anyway).  Upon finding many of the area's restaurants closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we ended up dining in the hotel restaurant both nights of our stay, and were not disappointed. 

Remember how we said it was unseasonably warm in Paris?  Well, no more! On Wednesday morning, we stepped out of the hotel, breath visible, with all of our sweaters, coats, gloves, and scarves on, and were still freezing.  After a quick stop in the work-a-day town of Avallon for coffee and a   (more text & photos)

   
Fantastique - an Excuse to Return to Paris!

10/11/10 - Paris, France  (Shutterfly photo album - Paris, France)

With Caroline's cousin living in Paris for a year, we have a great reason to return to France.  First stop, Paris!

Last year, after learning that Caroline's cousin Amelia and her husband Graham would be living in Paris for a year so that Graham could work on his doctoral program, we could not resist making plans for a visit.  So last Thursday we left Albuquerque with plans for a 12-day visit with an itinerary including Paris, the wine country of Burgundy, a brief stint in the Loire Valley, and a list of things to eat and drink that would frighten most people.

We felt surprisingly good upon landing and making our way to Amelia and Graham's apartment on Friday morning, so we headed straight out for a walk and lunch of falafels at one of their favorite falafel places (Marianne's) in the Marais.  We couldn't have asked for better weather, as Paris was experiencing summer-like weather in October, after weeks of cool, rainy days.  We spent the day strolling and catching up, having our first espressos and cafe cremes to keep the   (more text & photos)

   
No More Carpet (in the Bathroom, Anyway)!!

9/27/10 - Albuquerque, NM

Our long-awaited guest bathroom remodel is complete

Back at the end of July, when Caroline was recovering from oral surgery, we were just lounging comfortably and relaxing on the sofa on the covered patio, since Caroline wasn't yet up for doing much else.  Somehow, the conversation made its way around to how much we really want to remodel the kitchen, and sooner rather than later.  "But what a big, expensive job," we thought, "especially since we would need to do all the main area (non-bedroom) flooring at the same time because it's all one large space.  That's just too much right now."  And that's how our guest bathroom came to be reborn.  By comparison, it just seemed so manageable...

 

The guest bathroom, with its smoked glass shower door and scalloped sink molded from the counter was in reasonably good shape.  It was just rather bland, style-less and  just a little out-of-date.  But the clincher was the carpet.  When we bought our house back in 2007, both bathrooms were fully      (more text &  photos)

   
2010 Season Opening Night at the Santa Fe Opera - Tailgate!!

7/03/10 - Santa Fe, NM

An evening of champagne, gourmet food, friends, dramatic weather and Madame Butterfly at the gorgeous Santa Fe opera house

Late on Friday afternoon in the blazing heat of a southwestern July, we set off in a caravan of four vehicles headed for the Santa Fe opera, dressed to the nines in our opera finery.  Although the heat in Albuquerque was relentless, as we set up our tailgate on the opera theater grounds and kicked off the party with champagne cocktails, the clouds rolled in, bringing with them a wonderful cool breeze and also a few raindrops.  Luckily, our fabulous tailgate planners Erica & Eric didn't miss a beat and we set up a large tent over our table, where we enjoyed an amazing gourmet feast among friends of asparagus crepes, spicy shrimp skewers, just-from-the-garden caprese salad, wasabi salmon and cucumber cups, canapes of goat cheese, goose liver pate and olive tapenade and gooey turtle brownies for dessert, just to name a few of the delights on the menu.  Except for a very few drops, the rain held out during the meal as well as during our stroll through the parking lot in order (more text &  photos)

   
Celebrating Caroline's Birthday with Friends in Albuquerque

6/08/10 - Albuquerque, NM

Christopher & Margaret host a decadent fete in honor of Caroline's Big Day

Back in April, when Christopher found out that Caroline was having a birthday in June, he graciously and enthusiastically offered to host a small dinner party in her honor.  When June 8th rolled around, it was a beautiful, balmy summer day - perfect for a birthday party!  That evening, Caroline and Scott, along with friends Julia, Jeremy, Petra and Joe, gathered in Christopher and Margaret's tranquil backyard  for a delightful evening meal.  Upon their arrival, Christopher greeted his guests with mojitos and hors d'oeuvres of prosciutto-wrapped goat cheese and delicious grilled shrimp.  After a bit of mingling in the garden, we were seated to a casual, yet elegant alfresco meal of avocado salad with caviar, grilled chicken with fruit salsa, eggplant halves and of course a homemade chocolate cake complete with candles and champagne.  What an evening!  The food was fantastic and the company even better (if that's possible!); Caroline felt like one lucky birthday girl indeed! (more  photos)

   
Concluding an Idyllic Spring-time Weekend in New England

5/01 - 5/02/10 - Providence, RI; Attleboro, MA & Narragansett, RI

Continuing to enjoy a perfect spring weekend by celebrating at the wedding reception of Ben and Melanie, spending a final evening in Providence and a final morning down-state

Saturday proved to be yet another beautiful spring day; you simply couldn't ask for a better day to celebrate a wedding!  Ben and Melanie's formal reception at the Highland Country Club started at noon, so on Saturday morning we had time for coffee, a quick walk and a bagel before we needed to get dressed and drive to Attleboro in the fabulously fuel-efficient Yaris.  Again, we were some of the first to arrive so after signing the guest book and locating our table cards we headed back outside into the gorgeous spring sunshine to wait for additional Brookses to arrive.  We weren't sure quite what to expect, what with the small, family-only ceremony taking place on Friday and the reception beginning at noon the following day, but it proved to be quite an elegant, well-thought out and well-orchestrated affair.  The reception began with drinks and passed hors d'oeuvres served in the sunlit bar area adjacent to the dining room, after which we were seated  (more  text & photos)

   
An Idyllic Spring-time Weekend in New England  - Part 2

4/30/10 - Providence, RI; Bristol, RI & Attleboro, MA

Exploring a new state and attending the wedding ceremony of Ben & Melanie

The following morning, as we set out for a walk, we discovered that we couldn't have asked for a better location for our hotel either!  It was a perfect spring day as we made the short trek to historic Benefit Street, where we admired the beautifully preserved and restored homes on that picture-perfect street.  The trees and flowers, namely beautiful tulips and bright yellow daffodils, were all in full bloom and we could smell the lilacs that bloomed in manicured yards as we passed.  The delicious croissants we enjoyed from a corner European bakery only added to our buoyant mood.  We continued our stroll on some of the more noteworthy architectural streets in the College Hill area of town (as pointed out to us before leaving home by our friend Margaret, a former Providence resident), and across the small but pleasant campus of the prestigious Brown University.  We could have walked for hours down all of the beckoning side streets, but alas, it was time for lunch and we had big plans.  We were here for the seafood and we'd gotten a couple recommendations from friends and family for Quito's Seafood Market and Restaurant located just a short drive south of Providence in Bristol, RI.  After an enjoyable drive on this gorgeous sunshiny Friday through charming small-town Rhode Island, we arrived at Quito's.  Upon being seated in the small dining room, we proceeded to order a smorgasbord of fresh seafood off the tempting menu: raw oysters, lobster bisque, a stuffed Quahog (aka a stuffie), clamcakes and over a pound of steamers.  Everything was delightful (the bisque was positively divine!) and we left feeling only   (more  text & photos)

   
An Idyllic Spring-time Weekend in New England - Part 1

4/29/10 - Providence & Newport, RI

Hitting the ground running, we kick off our wedding weekend trip to New England with a visit to Newport, RI

When we learned that Scott's younger cousin Ben, from Boston, was finally tying the knot with his long-time girlfriend Melanie, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity not only to see some family from both Massachusetts and Michigan but also to add a new state to our lengthy list of those we've visited: Massachusetts' petite and often-overlooked neighbor, Rhode Island.  Being the travelers that we are, there are very few states remaining that we have yet to visit and Rhode Island was one of them so we were very excited to be able to add a new notch to our belts and eat lots of seafood along the way.  As the wedding festivities were to take place in Ben's hometown of Attleboro, MA it made sense for us to base ourselves in Providence, RI less than 30 minutes away. It was to be a brief trip; we would be away for just four days with two of them spent largely just getting to and from the east coast.  As it turned out, all of our advance research and planning more than paid off and we spent four wonderful days celebrating Ben & Melanie's marital union with Scott's mom, dad and numerous Brooks aunts and uncles, as well as   (more  text & photos)

   
A Wall-full of New Windows and Doors, at Long Last!

4/19/10 - Albuquerque, NM

After many months of delays, mishaps and other foolishness, our new Andersen low-e, SmartSun wood-frame windows and doors are complete

"Wow," you're thinking, "they look the same as the old windows!"  Yes indeed, they do!  We didn't want to replace our windows.  We loved our old windows, with their simple, narrow frames that maximized the view, and we still have several remaining in the rest of the house that did not need replacing.  But the east wall of our home gets some serious sun exposure and also bears the brunt of any storms that pass through, coming in off the mountains.  Many of these windows and the master bedroom patio door on the east wall of our house were leaking, rotted or both and generally weren't too weatherproof, and that we didn't love; they desperately needed replacing.  Our primary challenge with this project (other than just getting the windows and doors ordered and installed, but I won't even go there, except to say that we started this process back in November...) was to buy brand new windows and doors that, at least upon casual inspection, matched the original, 25-year  (more text and photos)

   
R&R, Mexico Style

3/30/10 - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Enjoying some much-needed tropical warmth, ocean breezes, and sand in between the toes south of the border

After a rainy and chilly trip to Phoenix, combined with the stress from the window/door project that just wouldn't end, we decided it was time to take drastic measures - time for a long weekend in Puerto Vallarta!   Our schedule turned out to be a little busier than we would have liked but it was nice to see old friends who still live in Mexico and the weather was absolutely perfect!  The condo didn't require too much attention since we'd just been there last year and we still had just enough time (well, ok, maybe not quite enough!) to spend sitting at the beach or in our deck chairs on the condo's shared pool deck overlooking the bay, drinks in hand (always!) - just what the doctor ordered!       (more photos)

   
A Winter Visit to the Valley of the Sun

2/22/10 - Phoenix & Scottsdale, AZ

Exploring down-to-earth Phoenix and doing the requisite Scottsdale (& Tempe) shopping...in the rain

It's been a long winter here in the Sandia Foothills of Albuquerque.  Unlike the lower elevation areas in town, we've been pounded with snow (relatively speaking, of course) up here.  Our window and door installation has been dragging on, hindered by measuring mistakes, weather delays and illness, and our installer decided he wanted to work on finishing the drywall windowsills and staining the newly installed doors and windows all weekend.  We needed to get out of here!  We'd been talking about going to Phoenix to enjoy some warmer weather and to look at some new dining chairs at Ikea that will give a more updated look to our old wood table.  We also had our eye on a couple different martini glasses (we've become really into Hendrick's martinis lately) on-line at Crate & Barrel and wanted to see them in person in order to make a decision.  Even though the forecast for the weekend was for disappointingly chilly temps and rain, we decided to go anyway  (more  text & photos)

   
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