California and its coast

Well, I’m back to my blog writing. It’s been a very busy last few months, as I made the big move to California and started a new job. It’s funny how the entirety of my experiences can be summed up in a single sentence, that somehow doesn’t even begin to explain the infinite list of things to do in order to transplant myself into a new world. It’s starting to settle down, though, so I think this is a good time to get back into my normal swing of things.

I had a particularly relaxing weekend last week, when the boyfriend and I went down to Monterey and Carmel. It’s an area that I’ve wanted to explore for quite a while, but the extra day of the long weekend gave us the opportunity. It was definitely worth it.

Monterey Harbour

One of my favourite things was the coastline. As a Vancouver girl, I’m deeply and madly in love with the ocean, and it’s been a little sad not seeing blue every day. (I have to admit, the blue sky is a nice substitute, though).

Carmel beach

We did the 17-mile drive near Carmel, which I would highly recommend. It’s a loop that goes through everything from extremely fancy houses tucked away in the woods, to golf tees hovering perilously close to cliffside drop offs, to the actual drop offs that turn spectacularly into the beautiful seaside. It’s very easy to stop anywhere for a walk and pictures, which is exactly what we did.

Coast

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The town of Carmel was also very cute. You could tell it was touristy, but forgave it because it was so charming. We ate some delicious pasta at a place called Yafa – trying to find a restaurant on Saturday night was crazy! We didn’t realize most places were reserved until 8 or 9, but the very nice waiter at Yafa squeezed us in.

The next day, we visited Point Lobos state park, which was also very beautiful. One of my favourite things was seeing sea otters playing far down below in the water. They were too far to photograph, but my boyfriend had to drag me away, or I would’ve stayed there watching for hours.

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Later in the day, it started to get really foggy, which made the views both picturesque and a little eerie. Looking out at endless blue and white from on top of a cliff gives you vertigo like nothing else.

The last day, we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which I had been extremely looking forwards to. I thought it was a very nicely done aquarium, and they had a special jellyfish exhibit. My favourite were the blubber jellyfish, which seemed to have no other purpose than collide aimlessly with one another, causing giant clumps of rapidly pulsating jellies.

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Overall, a really neat trip, and a welcome break from the normal work-weekend schedule. Though this weekend we made homemade cabbage rolls, and I played with my Kitchenaid and made snickerdoodles, so ordinary life isn’t so bad either.

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Visiting the land of overwhelming happiness

I am so tired, but it was so worth it. I spent this weekend in Disneyland with my family, being amazed at how absolutely cheerful it is and screaming my lungs off on various rides.

In line for Indiana Jones

I haven’t been to Disneyland since I was about six, so I didn’t remember too much of it (other than It’s a Small World, which I vividly recall forcing my parents to ride multiple times). I am still a small child at heart, however, so I had a great time. I loved how detailed everything was – I was so impressed with the amount of thought they put into everything, from the sets to the rides to the random small details of the park. I especially loved Toon Town (it just made me laugh) and the Pixar-themed sections of the park, because I am a huge Pixar fangirl. The rides were fantastic too, and actually suited me really well because they didn’t often involve a lot of spinning (which usually results in me wobbling away feeling extremely nauseous). My favourite was Space Mountain, which my sister and I rode three times. We would’ve gone more, but the line up started to get a little crazy.

There were some other really good rides too. The best rollercoaster was California Screaming, which shoots you upwards at some crazy speed. There was a cool interactive Toy Story ride, where you got to shoot 3D lasers at targets. Soaring over California was my mom’s favourite – it’s basically a huge Imax theatre where you feel like you’re flying over California. It’s so realistic that I was actually clinging onto my seat. I have terrible memories of the Tower of Terror (as a child I cowered the entire ride) but it was actually a lot more fun than I remember. I held hands with my sister and shrieked the entire way. Actually, in all honesty, I shrieked on most of them. It’s more fun that way.

It was also really nice to see my family. We had a delicious early-birthday dinner on Saturday at a tiny Italian hole in the wall – if you’re ever around Disneyland, go to Rufino’s. It’s amazing. I had the best fettuccine alfredo of my life. I think they tired me out, though, as we got up at 6:30 each morning to go to the park early. Not that I’m complaining – it was a great weekend and I can’t wait to come back home to my family in a few weeks. It’s been pretty busy over here, and I think I’m looking forwards to a break when I come home. This week should be fun, though – there’s a boat cruise on Thursday and my birthday on Friday, so I definitely have things to look forwards to.

ByteNight and Batman and other non-B adventures

I was supposed to get some work done today, but my computer has decided that today is a good day to throw a temper tantrum and refuse to connect to my linux desktop at work. My computer is like a child that I have to placate with kind words and loving pats in an effort to console it and make it work properly half of the time. Apparently my consoling hasn’t been up to par.

I haven’t been up to anything too crazy this week. I geeked out on Thursday night and went to an event called ByteNight at the Computer History Museum. I was a little disappointed because we were told food and drinks and the food was MIA (yes, I know, it was terrible), but the museum was kind of interesting. I feel like it was cool to go but I wouldn’t have paid money for it. It could’ve also been that I’d already been at work all day and wasn’t quite in a museum-going mood, but I saw some friends and had a good time overall. One thing I remembered, though, is how much I hate making small talk when I’m tired. It’s exhausting trying to think of interesting yet not invasive things to say to a stranger you met five minutes ago. There were a bunch of interns there and I met a few nice people, but I was a little relieved to escape away with my friends and wander through with people I already knew. Perhaps I’m just lazy.

I was going to have a quiet Friday night evening at home and do some work, but my internet decided to die completely so that was a bit of a fail. I managed to finish season 3 of Community instead, which was amazing. (But totally unproductive on my part). I also tried experiment two of cooking with polenta, and this one turned out to be much better. I like to think of it as pizza polenta, and it was ridiculously easy.

Pizza Polenta (for one)

Ingredients:

  • Half a package of prepared polenta
  • Marinara sauce
  • Cheese
  • Meat of your choosing, chopped into small pieces – I used sausage, but this could easily be changed

Directions:

  1. Cut the polenta into 1/2″ rounds. Lay them out on a baking pan (or in my case a casserole dish, because I don’t have a baking pan in this apartment).
  2. Spoon generous amounts of marinara sauce on top of each round, covering it fully. Sprinkle your meat on top.
  3. Add a layer of cheese – I like lots of cheese so I was pretty heavy handed with this.
  4. Bake in oven at 375 for about 25 minutes.

Yesterday I went to go see the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. I liked it, but I wasn’t too impressed with the character development of the bad guys. I spent a lot of the movie trying to figure out why the bad guy was so pissed off at the world, and what kind of fashion statement he was trying to make with his mask. It’s worth seeing, but I felt like that part could have been fleshed out more.

Today I made my customary trip to the farmers’ market, did some laundry, skyped my parents – nothing too exciting. I will leave you a picture of the tomatoes we saw this morning though. If a fruit can be beautiful these ones definitely were.

 

California fights back

On my time, that is. It’s been insanity over here – I feel like I haven’t stopped moving long enough to breathe lately, let alone blog. Let’s see, what’s been happening. It seems like so long ago already, but I had a really great fourth of July holiday: Google is awesome and gives us five days off, so my boyfriend came down to visit and we did fun touristy things. One of my favourite parts was the fireworks in SF on July 4th – they were beautiful! I love fireworks, and I’m sad that I miss the Celebration of Lights ones in Vancouver because I’m in California, so it was really nice to see some this summer. We also had a really cool experience when we went for breakfast the next day – we went to Dottie’s, which has amazing food but an even more incredible line, and ended up chatting and eventually having breakfast with the couple behind us. They were really nice people and it was really fun to randomly meet someone and like them enough to share a meal. The food was totally worth the line too, but I’m a foodie and might not have the most sound opinion on these types of matters. I also went to my friend’s place for a BBQ and made some amazing potato salad, so if you want a light tzatziki-like potato salad, I highly recommend making this one at smittenkitchen.

I went to go see Les Miz last night, and it was amazing. I didn’t know all of the music (only the biggies, like I Dreamed a Dream and On My Own) but the singers were really talented and the musical is excellent. It was so sad though! I cried twice. I feel like I’ll have to add the book to my infinitely growing reading list. We also went for dinner at a really random resturant located right smack in the middle of the Nordstroms in Westfield Mall in SF. It’s a little odd to go for dinner in the midst of a bunch of clothing, but we trusted Yelp and it turned out to be really good! I had sweet pea risotto with scallops.

Then today I did some interview prep at work (which made me realize how awful I am at interviews), hung out by the pool and cooked some dinner. I tried making polenta, which was really interesting. I’ve had it at work a couple of times now and I was intrigued, but I’m not sure the best way to make it – I’ve seen polenta all mushy and soft, and I’ve also seen it grilled and in a more solid form. I tried sautéing it and it turned out pretty well, so I’ll have to experiment a bit more. I think it’d be good with some kind of sauce, so I might try that.

I was fighting off a cold this past week and so I’ve been kind of walking the line between sickness and health. I think I’m finally veering towards the latter, though, which is good because I really can’t afford to be sick right now. If this is even possible, work is starting to ramp up – I’m realizing I only have five weeks to go, and the amount of things I need to accomplish is definitely still a long list. There will definitely be some late nights this week. I’ve just made plans for my birthday, though, and I’m going to Disneyland and seeing my sister and parents in two weeks, so there’s that to look forwards to!

And that’s when Shannon got consumed by work. Omnomnom.

And it’s only halfway through my internship!

Wow, it’s been an insane week. Sorry for being so MIA – I’ve been at the office until 9ish every night this week, and by the time I get home all I have the energy for is collapsing on the couch with some tv or my book. I kind of feel like I’m back in school, only with a lot more perks and free food. It was just a very busy week, though, so hopefully it’ll settle down. We get three days off next week for July 4th, and someone I miss very much is coming to visit me, so I’m just going to look forward to that. It did mean that I was in the office for most of my day today, but I’d rather work over the weekend than work over the holiday.

I had a crazy busy fun-filled weekend last week with one of my favourite SF events, which I didn’t get a chance to blog about earlier. Pride! Saturday was filled with dim sum, wandering around Fisherman’s Wharf, a mad dash to get to Ike’s Sandwiches before they closed (which, by the way, was totally worth it), and BRAVE! I’ve been so hyped to see that movie. I was literally doing excited dances around the movie theatre. It ended up being pretty good, though I think not my favourite Pixar – I still think Wall-E is brilliant. SF was extremely busy as well, which was to be expected. At one point we took a bus where I could not move a single part of my body because I was sandwiched in between so many people. I now know what a sardine feels like.

Sunday was the Pride parade, which was a lot of fun but extremely exhausting.

We marched with Google, which is always exciting, but since we were farther back in the parade we had to wait for ages to actually get going. It was a good hour and a half of just standing around, and our friends in Facebook were even farther back. By the time it was all over, we were so tired we headed back to my apartment in Sunnyvale and collapsed by the pool.

Anyways, this weekend has been pretty quiet – some shopping, stuffing my face at the Cheesecake Factory, and work today. Also, I always have to mention something food-related because I’m obsessed, so here it is: I got some wild boar sausage from the farmers market yesterday, and made it tonight for dinner with pasta and squash – SO DELICIOUS. I had a foodgasm. I’d post a recipe, but it was extremely simple. I pan-fried the sausage, cut up a yellow squash and sauteed it as well with coconut oil and some salt, added the pasta and some cheese and devoured it. The sausage fat was enough to give the pasta flavouring, so I didn’t need any pasta sauce – it was perfect.

Two more days until a rest!

Does climbing a mountain justify stuffing your face?

I think it does.

Well, it’s my last full day in Boulder. I have to say that I’ve throughly enjoyed this trip – Boulder turned out to be much more interesting than I anticipated, though I think I can also safely say that we’ve pretty much experienced every touristy thing this town has to offer in about a week. I think I might quickly get bored of living here (no offence to the Boulderites) but it’s been a fun visit.

We went for a really gorgeous hike on Sunday. The sun was testing its strength and sending down some 35 degree rays, but a combination of wind, altitude and waterfalls kept us cool on the trail up. We went to Roosevelt National Park and hiked the Hessie trailhead up to Lost Lake, which turned out to be much more of an uphill climb than we were expecting. It soon became very clear that we were climbing a mountain, but the scenery was amazing. I felt like I had wandered into the Sound of Music, and I kept expecting Julie Andrews to come trilling out from behind a nearby bush. My host was awesome and took a ton of photos, which meant I didn’t have to lug my camera and still have stuff to show for it!

The hike made me feel less lazy, though in fairness even if we were home I probably would have failed at going to the gym, given all the late evenings and early mornings we’ve been keeping. The food has been great though, which contributes to the whole feeling-lazy thing. We’ve had amazing French, Mediterranean, Nepalese…I commend Boulder on their eats. Nom. I’m going to tell myself that they’re all vacation calories, which are equivalent to birthday calories, sadness calories and post-and-pre-exam calories: they mean nothing. (You know, I really should be a skeleton with the amount of non-calories I consume).

“Going to Boulder? Is that a really special rock?”

That’s what my friend said to me right before I left. I mean, as cool as it would be spending a week cuddling up to some interestingly shaped rock, that’s not quite what I meant when I was telling her about this trip.

I’ve been in Boulder for a few days now (I’ll be here until mid next week) and we’ve been pretty busy cramming in both work and play. My time zone is kind of off, so I think I’m accumulating a bit of a sleep debt as I’ll go to bed late and then wake up early to go to the office, but it’s still been pretty fun. I like visiting new places, and Boulder has a very interesting vibe. It seems pretty small, and I kind of get the feeling that you could run out of things to do relatively quickly, but overall it’s very cute. The word that comes to mind is hipster, but in a good way.

We’ve been at the office for most of the weekdays (which has also been really interesting, because it’s so different from the main office back in California) but the weeknights we’ve been going out for dinner with the team here. So far, the food (which had to be mentioned, because I’m an obsessive) has been great. The lunches at the office are delicious, and when you’re having first world problems that consist of being too late to lunch to try the fried rattlesnake, you know life is too good to you. We’ve gone for Ethiopian, continental and pizza so far. Nomming is definitely occurring.

We’ve also explored the downtown area of Boulder, Pearl Street, quite a bit – it’s not too large so it’s easy to walk from one end to the other, but there’s lots of interesting little stores and restaurants along it. Tons of bars, but it’s a university town so that’s understandable. So far we’ve stopped at some bookstores, an art store or two, and a tea store. It’s interesting how the street changes depending on the time of day – for example, at night there’s lots of people wandering around going for dinner and such, but today during the day the amount of buskers and street performers was astounding. It was literally a different person every ten meters or so.

Boulder’s surrounded by mountains (hence the name, I suppose) so yesterday night we drove up to Chautauqua Park/Mountain/Area I can’t remember the name of and walked around a bit. The views at the top were gorgeous! My host took lots of pictures so I got to be lazy and just meander around.

Today we checked out a meadery and brewery and took tours of their facilities. I must say, it’s annoying not being 21 here, especially since I’m legal at home. It’s not that I have a raging urge to go out or anything, but I think I’ve gotten used to having the option and now it’s like someone took away the favourite toy I’ve had for two years. But the tours were cool – did you know that to make a dessert honey wine, they use 800 pounds of honey? That’s roughly seven Shannons. It’s ridiculous.