Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Just a Little Something...

Everything has been pretty uneventful lately. Just the usual go to work, play with the animals, relax at home, and start all over again.

I have to share this cute little clip - If you have a cat, its probably very familiar:

Friday, October 5, 2007


I really enjoy my Fridays. I get off from work a little early and usually grab Ayla to go have fun somewhere. Most of this past summer we went to Shadow Cliffs, part of the East Bay Regional Parks system. The main lake has a swimming beach, fishing docks, boat rentals, grassy picnic grounds, and probably a ton of other stuff. But I haven't really been there, because if you go over the hill on the other side of the parking lot there's a bunch of little lakes and dogs are allowed to be off-leash. That's such a rarity, the grail search of dog owners out here, a place where your dog can run unfettered by nylon or leather leads.

So today we headed out to Shadow Cliffs for what will probably be one of the last trips till next season. Ayla loves going here. She really likes swimming, or her approximation of it. She often makes friends with the other dogs we see and I've met some interesting and mostly nice people. They're not always nice though.

A couple of weeks ago we went, and there's one beach area that Ayla can use to get in the water. All the other areas have drop offs and she's a bit wonky and can't handle them. So we're playing fetch in the water, she's splashing about and having fun, when two fishermen come up behind us. One sets his tackle on a table a ways back while the other continues on. I nod my hello and continue playing with my dog. A few minutes later the remaining fisherman comes up behind us, rod in line. In disbelief, I ask is he's planning on fishing here, to which he responds, "Yes, its the only clear space [its not the only one, he didn't want to walk farther]." I say, "Yes I know its a clear space and the only one where my disabled dog can get in the water." "Hmmph," he says, readying his cast. "Well, I guess we'll leave," I say. "Oh you don't have to," he responds. "But I don't want my dog getting hooked on your line," I say. "Hmmph." "We have to go now, Ayla," I say and lead her away while she's looking behind her.

What? Why would a fisherman want to fish where a dog has been swimming? There's not going to be any fish there! And why would someone push their way in where someone else already is? What happened to first-come first-served? I was just flabbergasted and left, though I wish now I had said something and stood my ground. Anyway, we walked a loop around and came back, by which time he had left, and resumed playing in the water.

That rant aside, it really is a wonderful place. Here's a little slideshow of pictures I took today:

Its been a nice relaxing day and a good start to the weekend. After Shadow Cliffs we came home and rested, then I did some grocery shopping. For dinner I made Giada De Laurentiis' Veggie Meatloaf with Checca Sauce, which I watched her make last weekend and have wanted to do since. It was tasty but turned out more like a casserole. I think there's probably twice as much rice and lentils in the recipe than there needs to be. Two measly eggs and some mozarella isn't enough to bind it all together, like Giada's was on the show. Chris liked it and the checca sauce, so I'll play around with the recipe and get it to work right. Oh, and don't serve it with mashed potatoes. Can you say carb overload?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Fine weekend... fine wine

Stef and I went to Napa this past Saturday for a beautiful day of wine tasting and catching up. We took a random road off of Highway 29 to get over to the Silverado Trail and away from the overly crowded wineries along the main route. Luckily it presented a very nice photo opportunity:

We started off at Mumm Napa Valley. Their tasting experience is a lot different than I've seen before. We saw a lot of people sitting at tables and thought it was a cafe, but realized no one had food. You actually sit on a nice patio at tables with umbrellas and they bring the tasting to you. Nice! Stef tried their Pinot Trio and I had their Signature Sparklers. They give you a lot of wine too:I really liked the Cuvee M and came home with a bottle. It was my favorite wine of the trip!

We headed to ZD next, just down the road from Mumm. This is one of Stef's favorite wineries, and where I took the grapevine picture at the top. There is a grapevine arbor on the path to the tasting room, ending with a fountain. The tasting room was very pretty too, with two big chandeliers that remind me of Mom Schafer. The wines were nice too, though I don't remember which we tasted (I meant to take pictures of the tasting menus, but only got Mumm's - oops!). Here's the two of us under the arbor:Then we went to lunch at the Silverado Resort, where Stef holds her big work function each year. The food was very good - we both had the onion soup, I had a vegetarian wrap (made with spring roll wrapper, yum!) and Stef had the French Dip. The service was incredible too. As soon as we appeared to have our minds made up on our orders the waiter appeared. As soon as I put my soup to the side it disappeared (I didn't even see them do it!). Good service always impresses me at a restaurant. The resort was very nice too - casually elegant without being pretentious.

After that we were ready for more wine. We headed to Darioush, with its building modeled after a Persian royal palace. The building definitely stands out along the Trail, and inevitably draws more crowds as there were many people in the tasting room. The wines were fine, though I wasn't trilled with them (but I don't really know anything about wine - I usually buy pretty labels).The last stop of our trip was Clos Du Val, another of Stef's favorites. I liked the label. :) We called Liz outside of the tasting room to tease her that we were drinking wine and she can't, because we're mean like that. But we really wish you were there Liz!

We drove back to San Ramon and played with Ayla a little. Then we went out to dinner in downtown Pleasanton at Pasta's Trattoria where we sat on the patio since the evening was so nice. There was a breast cancer benefit walk going on, so streams of people wearing bras decorated with lights and everything else streamed by, reminding us to get mammograms and protect our ta-tas by megaphone - it was interesting. The dinner was quite enjoyable nonetheless.

It was such a wonderful and decadent day, I had to recuperate on Sunday! Chris and I took Ayla to the local park to play some fetch. Then we just hung out at home and relaxed. I hope your weekend was at least half as good as mine!