Long days and the deception of work

When my morning alarm goes off, I jump up with a start thinking that I’ve overslept because the sun’s shining so bright it’s like high noon outside. I stumble across to my cell phone at the other side of the room and whew, it’s only 6-ish. To those of us who’re constantly complaining that we don’t have enough hours in a day to get everything done, these unseasonably, incredibly long summer spring days are a dream come true.

Getting an early start knowing you have a full 15 hours of daylight ahead of you is a great feeling. While it’s technically not quite summer yet, Summer seems intent on elbowing Spring swiftly out of the way. And if our air-conditioning weren’t acting up so often, that great feeling might easily be a superlative. Except the darned thing keeps blowing hot air instead of cold.

So between toasty temperatures and cranky AC, we figured we really must do something about it. We did the next best thing: jump in the car and drive to San Francisco to escape the heat. Well, okay, the heat was one thing but our real excuse was the Memorial Day sales. Now if you’re a serious shopaholic, you don’t just stand there doing nothing when it’s raining discounts and promos out there.

Two productive days of retail therapy later, I’m happy to report we have a few, not many bagfuls of spoils to show for our hard work. Shopping is work? You’d better believe it! Do you know how many pairs of jeans I had to try on before I found my one true love? And don’t even get me started on the shoes. Sifting through rack after rack, shelf after shelf, hunting down your size, waiting in line for the fitting room clutching armfuls of clothes, yeah!

But it’s only when you get into the fitting room that’s when the real work (or workout, depending on how you look at it) begins. You’re doing countless squats trying on a pile of jeans and your ankle socks keep coming off with your jeans and you’re doing countless bends to get them back on. At some point, I hear someone saying, to heck with these socks, I’m leaving them off. But not me, I hate stepping on the cold, sandy floor and getting my bare feet dirty… so I keep on keeping on with the battle of the socks!

So yeah, it would seem, and I’m not even going to fault you for thinking, that it’s been all play and no work around here lol. If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you’ll know that around here, the term ‘work’ often takes on meanings that are worlds away from how others may view it.

Peace out… uttered with tongue in cheek.

Lunch in Carmel

Lunch in Carmel

Over the long Labor Day weekend (was that really 2 weekends ago? wow), we snuck out of town early one morning just after sunrise on our little road trip to Gilroy, CA. Our mission: to catch the Labor Day sales… what else? But before that, we decided to make a quick turnoff to Carmel-by-the-Sea for lunch.

Lunch in Carmel

If the thought of lunch in Carmel, dinner in Gilroy somehow conjures up images of lunch in Paris, dinner in New York, well, this would be the poor man’s version. Gilroy and Carmel are less than an hour’s drive from each other, so we’re not exactly talking jetset here lol. Nevertheless, good try!

I’ve been to Carmel many times since college. You know, there’re places where no matter how many times you’ve been there, it’s still that same old sleepy town of beautiful houses, quaint stores, narrow streets, gnarled trees and uneven sidewalks. It seems nothing ever changes there. And it’s nice, seeing everything as you remember ’em from the first time.

Carmel sits on the California coast with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. On the drive in, I’m eagerly anticipating glimpses of houses and picket fences partially hidden from the main road by leafy vegetation and angled driveways. I admit I’m a diehard romantic and everything about this little town could’ve come straight out of a romance novel.

Soon the residential road gives way to artsy-craftsy stores with lattice display windows and painted doors lining the narrow cross streets. The next thing that hits you is that everyone is out walking their dogs. Yes, everyone! Okay, maybe not the people milling around outside the little hip restaurants patiently waiting for a table.

Lunch in Carmel

It’d be nice if I could remember the name of the restaurant where we had clam chowder, and fish and chips when Hip2bDaughter1 was three years old. I don’t even know if it’s still there. Probably not. But the Italian owner was so nice he gave Hip2bDaughter1 extra packets of those little saltine crackers he saw her reaching into my packet with her chubby little fingers, and there was none left.

On our last trip here 3 years ago, we discovered Flaherty’s. Quite by accident. They served the best lobster linguine carbonara we’ve ever tasted. In fact, we started with one serving and just had to order another because it was tha-aat good! And the owner, an older bearded man, promised us free ice cream on our next visit when we couldn’t stop raving about his food.

And this is what we’ve come back for this time. Sadly though, they seem to have changed owners because, heck, that one-in-a-million lobster linguine ain’t on the menu no more *bawls loudly and stomps feet*! There’s just no way! Devastated, we resorted to ordering their crab carbonara instead which tasted weird because of those, those pesky green onions in it!!!

Lunch in Carmel

I mean, who would put green onions into pasta and WHY?!! You know what, I associate green onions with Asian food and I would rarely, if ever, use it in Western cooking simply because the pungent flavor of the green onions would overpower the subtle aroma of the Italian herbs. So what kind of pasta would that be then?

The million dollar question is, what are those chopped green onions doing in that pasta? Well, we think we may have figured out the answer. We could be wrong but it’s probably to appeal to the palates of Chinese tourists so that when they see those familiar old green onions, they’d think, hey, there’s green onions in this so it probably tastes like Chinese food!

Aargh, I don’t get it! The very premise of spending so much money traveling to far-flung lands is to experience the different cuisines and cultures and everything else that’s new and unfamiliar. Take in a breath of fresh air, know what I mean?? It completely defeats the purpose of going all that distance only to snap a few photos and eat the same old stuff you’ve been eating every single day of your life! Am I making any sense here? Lol!

Anyways, back to my story. I had to have my clam chowder, of course and I honestly wasn’t prepared to be as disappointed as I was. This was clearly a case of too much potato, too little soup.

Lunch in Carmel

As for the fish and chips, the fish was fresh and flaky. Very nice. I would’ve loved to have eaten more but between the three of us, there wasn’t quite enough to go around. I guess we hadn’t taken into account the fact that Carmel being a touristy place, the portions might be a little smaller than what we’re used to.

Lunch in Carmel

Still we had a pretty good lunch. The weather was so nice – around mid-60F which meant we could walk around in light, long-sleeved tops – that we decided to stroll around town for a bit before we left for Gilroy.

Have you ever been to Carmel, CA? Did you find any good restaurants you’d love to visit again?

One for the ant

One for the ant

Seems like I blinked, and it’s April. Where did the time go? Don’t ask me, I have no idea, I wasn’t looking! Mostly the weeks of preparing for the acocalypse have kept me crazy busy. While the grasshoppers have been singing and dancing in the fields, the ants have been hard at work scurrying back and forth with heavy loads on their backs. Don’t envy me, I’m five shades darker than before just from dashing in and out of the sun daily in near 100 degree weather (Vancouver, how I miss thee!). Okay, so now that this chronic bulk shopper is done, she’s finally getting a breather 😉 .

Well now, that’s not to say that life has been all work and no play. Hanging out with our Korean friends has been so much fun. Not to mention that I broke the record and had soju and what was that – whiskey? for the first time. I know. It’s bound to send some shockwaves through this little blog of mine. Heck, I don’t even drink, not even socially! I’m strictly an orange juice person. But our friends like to have soju over dinner and they’ve somehow managed to persuade me to try some.


Obviously I had no idea what soju would taste like. It looks like water so I figured, how bad can it be, right? And quite honestly, it isn’t bad. It’s easy to drink, not heavy or intense, and it doesn’t seize up your tongue. Drinking a little now and then is okay. I don’t advocate drinking but like I tell my kids, if the social setting calls for it, we should drink responsibly. Each time before we start dinner, our friends would insist on appointing designated drivers for each car, even though we don’t drink nearly enough to get anywhere near drunk. Gotta love them for it.

On that note, here’s my friendly little reminder to everyone, never drink and drive, be sure you have a designated driver. Like mine, he was only allowed to sip sipping iced green tea 😉 .

Zigzagging down Lombard St.

Zigzagging down Lombard St.

Like I said, the streets of San Francisco make one heckuva fun ride. We were all set. First stop, Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world. This time, I parked at the top and we walked down these stairs.


No matter how many times I’ve been here, the feeling is always the same. I’m completely knocked off my feet by the beauty of the homes on both sides of this street. They have a quaintness all of their own. I’m sure they must look like a page off a decor magazine inside. What makes them even more mysterious is that I’ve never seen anyone go in or out. It’d be interesting to see who lives here.

Living on such a winding slope of a street must be quite something. I can’t imagine reversing in and out of the garage. But if you live here long enough, I guess you will eventually get the hang of it but surely it must be a bit of a daily adventure. See those little green dots I’ve marked on the hedges to show how the street zigzags its way downhill.

Lombard St

When we got to the bottom of Lombard Street, we climbed back up the stairs, got into our car, and I did something I’ve never done before! I freakin’ drove down Lombard Street!! This is a first for me and I gotta say maneuvering those bends and screaming all the way down was quite a thrill! I wonder why I never thought to do it before. By the time we got to the bottom, Hip2bDaughters were lamenting that the ride was too short! Let’s start over. Sure, let’s do it again next time, why not? it was fun!

The streets of San Francisco

The streets of San Francisco

After spending a half day in San Jose walking around Japantown, and checking out the Japanese shops and restaurants, and a Buddhist temple, we hoarded a stash of Japanese pastries and sushi. It’s a shame that after our In-N-Out escapade, we couldn’t fit in another lunch – there were so many Japanese restaurants there.

The next morning, we headed out to San Francisco on a cold, gray day with patchy fog (nothing like the white wall) which wasn’t so good for picture taking but good weather to be out. Okay, so you know you’re in San Francisco when the streets turn into a roller coaster. Wheeee! Up and down we went, and as if that’s not thrilling enough, many of the Stop signs are at the top of really steep inclines! which literally leaves you sitting tilted backwards as if you were in a dentist’s chair.

Tilted backwards

I was almost afraid that when I took my foot off the brake to step on the accelerator, we would inadvertently go sliding back down the incline. If I were driving a shift stick, that would be a very real possibility. Thankfully with an auto, we just went screaming as we rolled forward down the slope, hahaha!!! So much fun!

The white wall

The white wall

I’m back! From our little vacation to the Bay Area. It was a cold, gray day when we headed out to San Jose. Mind you, this wasn’t your regular gray winter’s day, it came with thick fog. Regular fog is fine, I’m used to that. But we ran into several patches of fog so thick that visibility was like 200 feet. We’re talking complete whiteout here!!

Pretty weird!! I felt like I was driving straight into a white wall. I couldn’t see anything beyond the front of my car. That’s how bad it was! All I had were the white lines on the road to guide me. Beyond that, I couldn’t see a thing!! Not a thing! Whenever a vehicle passed by, its tail lights would disappear in a flash and then it’s back to that white wall again.

It’s a strange feeling. It’s like you want to get out of it quick. You’re hoping the wall will open up at any moment. But you can’t speed up. In fact, I slowed down so as to keep a safe distance between me and any vehicle that might just be in front of me which I couldn’t see. You wonder where everyone else is, and if they can see you. You hope they’re not speeding. And you wonder how long that wall is going to go on for. Just pretty weird!!

But by the second patch of blind fog, I was beginning to consider myself quite a pro at it. I slowed down. I kept going. And I was glad when I finally emerged from it. It’s just like they say, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, you know there’s a clear road beyond the fog. 😀

Catching up… sorta

Catching up... sorta

So happy we’re beginning to see some signs of fall. Enough of this searing weather already! I feel like I’m being fried every time I step out. It was cloudy yesterday which is rare in a place where there’s hardly ever a cloud in the sky. What was even more surprising was that it rained. yes. all 3 drops of it in 20 seconds. We enjoyed that for what it was worth. A big change from Vancouver where the rain is drippy and goes on and on and on… so annoying! And today when we stepped outdoors before 8, the air was crisp and chilly.


But enough about the weather. So much has happened since my last blog post I’m not even going to pretend I will ever caught up in detail. So here are some brief highlights.

In the almost tradition of Hip family flying, we pulled an overnighter at LAX to wait for daylight to drive to our hometown. Always interesting to see who’s snoring on a bench near you!


Between a VW Jetta, a Chevy Cruze, a Chevy Captiva, and a Chrysler Town and Country minivan (soccer mom me, yeah!), I drove them all in the past few weeks. Wish I could’ve kept the big*ss Chrysler. That thing is huge and it rocks! Oops, did I let slip the a word?! 😳

Pancakes and turkey sausages every single morning for 3 weeks… not funny! You just wanna kick yourself for not noticing those strawberry, and raisin cereals sooner.

It’s almost endearing how helpful someone is at first. Then you realize they were only out to make a sale.

When you don’t have internet connection, you have so much to blog about (in your head). The minute you get internet connection, your mind goes blank.

There IS such a thing as too much of a good thing. I’m looking at you, Panda Express.

We’re settling in. It’s good to be home. Really happy with how we’ve set up the place. I think we’ve given brand new meaning to the word minimalistic. It’s still a work in progress but we’re getting there.

Our cookware set arrives Friday so we have a few more days of eating out before we start cooking at home. My daughters can’t wait to have a homecooked meal.

And that’s all the time I have for right now. I’ll be back with more catchup posts, I promise.

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