Category Archives: places



Yeah… it’s September now.  Does anyone know what happened to August?  I swear I left it right here, and then I turned around and it was gone.  I bet one of the dogs dragged it into the yard and chewed it up.  Those dogs… that’s why we can’t have nice things.

We spent a weekend in Temecula, then a weekend in Vegas for my mom’s birthday.  Went flightlining along a ridge in the desert (so fun!) and I got all dressed up to see Nora Jones and was fed overpriced, underwhelming food court pizza because the “brewpub” I was taken had closed their kitchen capabilities two years ago and all the good restaurants had an hour-long wait.

I had the best intentions to finally put up the photos of our New York trip, seeing as how it’s been a year since we were there, but – get this – it takes time to sit down, transfer pictures off the memory card, and then put together a post.  And I have not had time to sit.

We’re vacationing in New Zealand in a couple of weeks, a trip I’m excited about.  If all goes well, we’ll cram wine, beer, food, hiking, culture, caving, tubing, and hopefully more food into a(nother) whirlwind trip.  Seriously.  If we could just win that lottery and not have to worry about billable hours and paychecks, we could spend as much time as we wanted overseas.  Of course, I’d probably miss the pups.  Definitely the kittens.

My parents are generously watching our kittens while we’re gone; we dropped them off during our Vegas weekend and we’ll pick them up after we get home.  I’m hoping they get used to the many, many cats and dogs running around there.  They seemed a little overwhelmed when we left.

Faced with a two-week countdown to what could be a gluttonous trip (wine, cheese, ice cream, beer, meat!), I figured it would be a perfect time to also life-check that crazy Primal diet I keep reading about.  I know it’s pretty restrictive if you follow the rules, but we’re mainly just staying away from grains (did you know Primal considers corn a grain?), alcohol, and sugar.  Milk in the coffee, honey here and there, fruit – all accepted by me.  I’ve been playing with almond flour and coconut flour and I think almond flour makes a substantial baked good but coconut flour gives you something more baked-goody, although moisture-suckingly dry.  In a week, I’ve lost 5 pounds, which I suspect is water weight, or something close to it.  There’s no way I could lose 5 pounds of anything substantial.  One more week to see what happens and the end result as soon as I stick a piece of bread in my mouth.

As a parting gift, I offer you this kitty “glamour shot” pose:


Happy discoveries from my last work trip

First, updates: I was going to get all creative and have the kitties pick the winner of The Jensen Project giveaway, but I ran out of time, then went away on a work trip, and I figured if I was going to pick a winner before too much time went by I’d have to rely on good ol’ Random Number Generator. So, I did. It picked #4 and the winner has been contacted. Congrats to Carole!

So… I took a short trip to SF for work. I helped out SF office on a project, which was undergoing public review, and attended a City Council meeting in case someone asked a tough question. I flew up in the morning, went to the office, carpooled to the meeting, got dropped off at my hotel, and flew out the next morning. It was a whirlwind trip and reminded me that I hate traveling.

Don’t get me wrong – I love going places, love vacations and seeing new places, and I love doing things. I’m just not a fan of getting there, at least not airplane-wise. You have to guess when you need to be at the airport to get through security, predict which line of people actually know what they’re doing and can get their stuff on the x-ray belt efficiently, decide how far from the gate you’re going to sit (because there are no open seats AT the gate), cram into a tiny seat (and I’m actually lucky because I’m short enough to be able to cross my legs in coach), and then fly with the drone of babies crying and toddlers shrieking. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to sit next to someone who smokes and/or doesn’t use deodorant. In those instances, I lean away and try to point the little air-spigot so it blows air away from me.

I also don’t like packing, unpacking, repacking, unpacking, and then doing laundry.

But, when you have to fly you just have to deal. I discovered two things on this last trip that made everything much better. One, I’m guessing you don’t know about. The other, I’m guessing everyone in the world knew about it and neglected to tell me.

I stayed at the Travelodge Airport South (don’t get confused with the North location). It’s located on El Camino Real in Millbrae, but it’s just minutes away from the SFO airport. Yes, it’s a Travelodge. Yes, it’s by the airport. But, here’s why I think it’s an awesome find:

There’s a free shuttle to and from the airport; you just need to call and let them know you’re waiting. They’re the first drop off after the hotel and from the hotel they go straight to the airport (no riding around to other hotels).

There’s free parking at the hotel, in case you need a rental car for your stay.

It’s within easy walking distance to the Millbrae BART, which takes you into the city (only costs $4.25 to get to Embarcadero but does take about 35 minutes to do so). Easy walking distance means E.A.S.Y. because I’m not really a fan of walking too far for anything.

It’s across the street from Walgreens, CVS, and a grocery store in case you want to grab a bottle of water or candy or ice cream.

It’s within easy walking distance of a Japanese restaurant, Chinese (we actually ate dim sum there on a separate occasion), coffee car, café, and a Vietnamese place (that is open until 10:30pm)

It’s next to Wendy’s and across from Chipotle, in case you like to eat fast food when traveling.

There is free wi-fi and more cable channels that you’ll know what to do with.

The rooms have all been renovated with pillowtop beds, soft pillows, and pretty tile showers.

Their “expanded” continental breakfast has two coffee machines (one Maxwell and one fancy espresso/latte), juice, toast/waffles/cinnamon French toast that you toast in a toaster, yogurt, cold cereal, granola, juice, fruit, scones/bread pudding squares/cinnamon rolls, organic jam, and real maple syrup. Very nice.

It’s quiet. I’ve stayed on the third floor and the ground floor and neither night did I need to put in earplugs because of noise.

When I went up for work, the room rate ended up being $95 after all the taxes and whatever. To me, that’s a pretty sweet deal.

Unless there’s a reason for staying in the city, I can’t imagine staying anywhere else.

I flew Southwest because they go non-stop to SFO. Flying Southwest means no assigned seating. I always get stuck in the middle seat when I travel with Travis because he likes the lean against the window. I actually prefer the aisle, so I don’t have to climb over anyone to get to the bathroom. So, for some reason, when I fly Southwest I’m obsessed with getting the best boarding number I can. Before I leave, I always check in online the minute I’m 24 hours away from departure, but on the way back I usually don’t have access to a computer and/or printer. For some reason, I thought if you check in online it creates hassles to print out a boarding pass at the airport (maybe because United gives me a hassle when I try to do this). So, I just check in when I get to the airport and then deal with my lowly boarding priority and hope for an empty flight. Well, this last time I decided there must be an iPhone app for exactly this type of problem and there is. You can check in online through the app (you can probably do this through the browser, too) and get your nice “A” group priority and when you get to the airport all you need to do is “reprint” your boarding pass. This all assumes you’re not checking luggage. If you’re checking luggage you have to deal with all sorts of other hassles, like immensely huge lines.

things to come

Many apologies for the stop-and-go flow of posting… it’s just that sometimes I get a lot of free time and get motivated to download pictures off the camera and sometimes I just don’t. If I was a dedicated “blogger”, I guess I would be disciplined enough to set aside the time to write posts and take pretty pictures for you on a regular basis. But, I have a day job and I just try to get dinner done on time for some couch-sitting, time on the treadmill or with Jillian Michaels, and occasionally a little face time with Travis. Plus, there are these dogs, a chicken, and new chicks that like attention and care and whatnot. I suppose that’s why I don’t have a blogger book coming out. I let my regular life take precedent over the internet. It’s also why I rely on Joel McHale to watch all the garbage on tv for me and sum it up weekly on The Soup.

There are exciting things coming down the pipeline, though! We named two out of three chicks and I have plans to take better pictures of them. The third chick we are still debating whether to give her a real name, give her a food name (like Pot Pie or Dinner), or just call her Chicken. It’s sad, but we just don’t like her as much as the other chicks. She’s not tiny and cute, she’s not going to be a pretty redhead, and so far she just seems like trouble. I say this now, but I’m sure when she grows up she’ll be very nice and we’ll love her (of course we’ll love her, we’ll probably just tease her a lot).

Travis managed to take some pictures of our Momofuku-inspired dinner, when he was off judging beers and I was left with an entire day to play in the kitchen. It was really good and we’ve been enjoying the leftovers all week. I don’t know if I’d be as impressed or excited if we hadn’t eaten there, though. Hard to say.

There is the possibility of a grill pan review coming up, paired with another giveaway! So, definitely keep an eye out for that. I think that will be fun.

We’ve been invited to the grand opening shindig for the “new and improved” Bali Hai restaurant tonight. I brought a camera, but the battery may not be charged, so you may end up with iPhone pictures or none at all. Sorry. Yet another reason I’m not a good enough blogger to have my own book in the works.

Bones (Denver)

It’s a blast from the past!  Not to mention an actual post about food!  With pictures (even if they are poor iPhone pics)!

So… back in February, we went to Denver (and surrounding areas) to visit some of Travis’ friends and see the new babies that are now walking and (practically) talking.  Yes, this post is 2 months late.  You should prepare yourselves for the posts from our New York trip I still haven’t written.

Because we were going to be bouncing around every day, visiting all these different people in different areas, I’d pretty much accepted that we’d just be eating whatever was convenient to wherever we ended up.  Except for the night we landed and the night we were leaving.  Since we had an 8 PM flight out of Denver and most of my choices didn’t even open for dinner until 5 PM (or later), I had to get a little creative.  Thus, I tried to plan a dinner at Bones for the night we arrived.  Because we were arriving on a Thursday and our flight was scheduled to come in at 8:30 PM, we had a very small window to make this happen (if we were flying in on a Friday, I would have had an extra hour before closing to play with).  I made the latest reservations I could, Travis signed up for the rental car “club” so we could pick up our car through a kiosk, and I started salivating over pork belly buns and lobster ramen (I was missing the pork belly buns from Ssam Bar).

I don’t know what I did to make the Universe mad at me, but it seemed like everything was conspiring against our making it to Bones for tasty food.  Our flight was delayed (the incoming flight was late, it took forever for people to board, plus we got stuck in the departing “line”).  The pilot said we’d make it up and actually land in Denver early.  He lied, we made it into Denver late, and I’m not ashamed to say I did not let people with connecting flights get off the plane before me.  I had a connection to make, too!  An important connection with tasty pig parts!  We race out of the airport and wait for the rental shuttle to show up.  I swear, we always rent from the company that has 1 shuttle when everyone else has 4 circling around.  Then, when we finally got to the rental counter, the kiosk would let us access our reservation.  We had to wait in line!  We finally get the paperwork done and go pick a car.  Wouldn’t you know it?  The car we picked has no gas.  Like, I don’t think it would have made it to the exit station.  So, we turn around and try to find another car and end up with some stupid Kia that barely goes 65 on the freeway!  Meanwhile, I’m constantly calling Bones, speaking with the lovely host Adam, telling him where we are and trying to figure out if we’ll make it before they close up.  He must have thought I was crazy, working so hard to eat there.  But we only had one shot!

We eventually get to Bones, after hitting every red light possible, and find a parking spot right across the street (of course we do, it’s practically 10 PM and everything’s getting ready to close!)  The second we get in the door, I let out a huge sigh and I swear everyone in there knew exactly who we were.  They were very nice about it all, though, and Adam brought us a glass of sake, sensing we needed a stiff drink to start off with.

I have to give many props to poor Travis for not only putting up with me through that whole craziness, getting us to Bones in a calm and orderly manner (while trying to go as fast as the car would allow), and not asking me what the big deal is and why we couldn’t just eat somewhere else.  He’s a good man.

pork buns!

We started with pork buns, of course!  It’s why we were there!  They were completely different from the ones at Ssam Bar, but delicious in their own right.  The buns were a little chewy, and the pork belly was cubed instead of sliced.  But, the pork belly also had a crispy later on top, which just makes you love pork even more.  There’s also a version of buns with suckling pig, which I contemplated ordering, but I’m a sucker for pork belly.  I can’t help it.

*drool* bone marrow

I’m also a sucker for bone marrow.  Even though I know how easy it is to make at home, I can’t resist ordering it if I see it on a menu.  Mainly because I don’t have to cook it, and also because it’s usually accompanied by some tasty condiments that I probably wouldn’t have at home.  This came with crispy/chewy bread slices and a figgy jam.  A smear of jam on the bread, with a dollop of marrow and a sprinkle of salt?  Incredible.

hard to find beer

Travis was excited to see they had a good beer list.  Here he’s enjoying a Lion Stout from Sri Lanka… it was very smooth.  I think.

buttery lobster ramen

Then, even though we were so full (at least, I was), we ordered ramen.  Because everything I’d read said that it was a must-eat.  Travis had the pork shoulder ramen with a poached egg and I got the miso lobster ramen.  I’ve eaten a lot of ramen in my life and I’ve never had anything like this.  The miso was very subtle – instead, the ramen broth was full of lobster flavor with a rich, buttery mouthfeel.  The noodles were perfectly chewy/soft and the edamame got tangled up in the noodles to add a little texture.  But the broth was amazing.  Travis’ ramen was good, too, but not life-changing.  Lobster ramen?  Life changing.

We didn’t get dessert there, mainly because I couldn’t have shoved another morsel (not even a wafer thin mint) into my mouth.  And, the dessert menu didn’t look as enticing and the rest of the food.  It was a really good meal and if we’re in Denver again I’d love to go back.  I’d have to go hungry, though, because there are more appetizers I’d like to try, but I don’t think I could pass up the lobster ramen.

Many thanks to the staff at Bones who encouraged us to keep trying to arrive on time, serving us well, and not making us feel bad for being the last diners there (in reality, we weren’t there much longer after the last people left).  It was an amazing meal and well worth the drama to get there!

Bones on Urbanspoon

and we’re back! but not really

I’m going to tell you right now that hosting a conference is fun, exciting, exhausting, and fun. It’s a conference Travis and I have attended for the last five years as it’s moved around the Western U.S. and we have met so many young engineers in that time. I can’t believe all our planning (and I mean the planning of our entire San Diego group) is over, and at the same time I am so glad. Coming back home on Sunday, my mind was just exhausted and all I wanted to do was sit down and not think (I also ended up taking a nap).

You may think an engineering conference is boring and you would be correct in most cases. This conference, though, is a conglomerate of chapter officers and leaders and the sessions are targeted to learning more about all the different groups. An insider networking event, you could say. This year, I came back with the realization that Younger Members are the middle child of the ASCE family. There are general Section members and staff, and there are the college students – each are recognized and easily identified. The Younger Members kind of get forgotten. Don’t get me wrong, people know we’re there, but I’m not sure they know what we do. We’re mistaken for college students by the general members; students think we’re just old. But the truth is that we are a significant group, not just in size but in participation. We are the heart of enthusiasm for ASCE and it’s our members who try to keep the momentum going, who reach out to kids trying to decide if math is really worth learning, and who spend our Saturdays building houses, cleaning up beaches, and setting up events in the rain. We sit on ASCE committees, get involved in policy decisions, and create open communication across the country. And we also know how to have fun.

What impresses me most is the fact that you will see people returning from our socials at 1 am… and then you’ll see them bright and early and the 7 am breakfast. We go to these conferences to enjoy ourselves, but we take the sessions seriously, too. It’s an organization and a group I’m proud to be a part of.

It’ll probably take me a good part of the week to get back into the groove of things, not including all the post-conference wrap up and work catch up I’ll be doing. But we had a completely amazing time and it was really enjoyable seeing people have fun in our city.

Some notes:

· We used Five Star Tours for buses, which we used for a social night in PB, technical tours, the pre-conference tour, and our awards banquet. They had the best quote and did a good job, for the most part. My advice would be to make sure both drop-off and pick-up locations are clearly stated on the contract if they aren’t the same spot.

· For as complicated as they made things right up to the moment we got there, Stone Brewing (and the Bistro) did a fantastic job giving us a tour of the brewery AND treatment plant and accommodating over 40 of us for dinner and drinks.

· Dussini’s Loft Bar was a spectacular location for our Awards Banquet, but you don’t even want to know how much we spent there.

· Going to Farmhouse Café for brunch on Sunday, with good strong coffee and some quiet was outstanding. I also love how everything on their menu is delicious, so I never have to worry about ordering the wrong thing.