Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Princess and the Frog

I watched this movie last night, and it was great! Classic Disney with great animation, catchy songs and  good wholesome themes ("dig a little deeper"). It was refreshing to see diverse love-able characters (Ray the lightning bug was definitely my favorite) and bodes well for Disney's future. I have never been to New Orleans, and I'm sure what was portrayed is somewhat of a caricature, but I feel I know a lot more about it now than I did. Now I'm hungry for beignets...

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Farmer's Markets!!!!!

Since moving to the Bay Area, I have attended seven different farmer's markets. Almost every neighborhood has one, and they all have different highlights. 

Grand Ave.: In addition to being the closest one to me, this is a really great farmer's market. I always treat myself to something at each farmers market, and at this one I had a delicious Belgian waffle (really did remind me of those I had in Belgium), a pretzel croissant (yes, as good as it sounds) and a German pretzel covered with cheese (I think crunchy edges of baked cheese is some of the most delicious food ever). Of course they have lots of vegetables--super fresh carrots, chard, kale (yes, Dad, kale!), broccoli etc. Also strawberries and at least one kind of dates. 

North Berkeley: I love buying fresh lettuce at farmers markets, especially because you can get just enough for a few small salads, if that's what you want, then come back next week. Another highlight here was the yogurt.

South Berkeley: This one really impressed me. For a weekday market, they have a pretty incredible selection including a date stand with more than five types of dates, a fresh cheese place that makes deals if you buy a couple of packages, vegetarian Mexican food, great hearty bread, interesting apple varieties as well as lots of fresh veggies, nuts and fruit. Out of loyalty to Riverside, I feel like I should say the oranges I bought here couldn’t compare, but they were pretty good. =)

***Note: I figured out why the South Berkeley market is so good—many of the same vendors as the Berkeley Downtown market. Bought some delicious handmade corn tortillas for enchiladas, and the seller explained that I need to heat them up before adding the contents so they don’t break! Made chips with the leftovers—yum!

Sausalito: After a weekend retreat in Stinson Beach, I came back by way of Sausalito. This wasn’t a great market in terms of selection or prices, but it was a pretty setting, at a park along the bay. The baklava I tried here (lots of pistachios and honey) was quite good, and I bought a cilantro chutney from a seller who kept giving me more and more pieces of bread with various spreads to try.

Jack London Square: This is in downtown Oakland, right by where the ferry to San Francisco picks up. Its still a pretty edgy neighborhood (at least compared to small-town Arizona) but does have a great fruit selection at good prices. There was a “pop-up” pasta shop one day I was there (they rent the space just for the day) that I bought as gifts. This is also where I found the flavored almonds I brought home for the holidays.

Another one of my favorites is the Montclair Sunday market. Montclair is this adorable European-type town in Piedmont (expensive neighborhood in hills above Oakland). The downtown is very compact, and full of interesting shops. I first attended a Christmas market here and they had carolers, cookie give aways and lots of festive atmosphere. This is convenient to my church, and also has a Safeway grocery store nearby, so I often pick up groceries before or after church, and then go home to cook! Some of my favorites here: German bread, fresh mushrooms, plum butter, Indian samosas, almonds and walnuts, eggs and nice fresh flowers.

There are many more to visit, but one on my short list is the San Francisco Saturday market, which I have heard is quite large and somewhat like Washington D.C.’s Eastern Market. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Streetcar Named Desire

Thursday night I attended the Oakland School for the Arts production of A Streetcar Named Desire. I have seen other Tennessee Williams plays before, including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with my grandmother in Delaware. I was very impressed by the production, which they describe as bare bones, and more focused on the characters themselves. To see high school students performing such heavy drama and exploring issues that are still very real today--it was a treat.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Hubbard Street and Alonzo King Dance Studios

Saturday night I went to a dance performance on Berkeley's campus by combined dancers from Hubbard Street Dance Studio in Chicago and Alonzo King's Lines Ballet from San Francisco. I attended an all you can dance classes for $5 at Alonzo Kings on of my first Saturdays here, so that's why the announcement caught my eye. All the dancers are trained in ballet, but the performances they do are more like modern dance--different music spliced together with a theme that the choreographer is trying to convey. Although it was neat to see the scenes with lots of dancers on stage at once, I found the really compelling parts of the performance were with just one or two dancers on stage, and watching their interplay.

Redwood Hike

After a frustrating morning dealing with smog check related issues, I recharged at Redwoods Regional Park in Oakland. The "rim" trail was full of families, dogs, runners and bikers. What I really enjoyed was getting back into the redwood groves, scrambling up and down the steep ravines and being in the still quiet of the great outdoors. A lovely afternoon hike in all respects!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King Day

First I explored the seat of the Catholic Diocese of Oakland in their Church of Christ the Light. The original church on this location was destroyed during the Loma Prieta earthquake. The diocese wanted to build a new cathedral (a cathedral is a church with the bishop's seat) and after some consideration they choose to rebuild at that site. Its a very diverse part of the city and therefore should be available to all constituents. Its a lovely church. I really like that it is open all during the day, like the cathedrals of Europe. When viewed from overhead, you can see that it is shaped like a fish, a very old Christian symbol. The building is built of glass, wood and concrete blocks. The light inside is totally natural and even creates the image of Christ on the cross in the front. (Images courtesy and SOM).

I attended part of a film festival at Oakland's African American Museum and Library on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It was cool to watch a film about MLK Jr. and learn things I hadn't known, and it was a neat and very interested mostly black audience I watched it with. After the film, many people stood up and talked about the work that still needs to be done today, or how they were involved in the protest marches back in the 1960s. Meanwhile, the building itself is quite beautiful and has exhibits covering the history of black populations in Oakland.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Garden: Part II

Tomato plants are looking good--see some already red?

The first bunch of without all the weeds.

Pepper plants and happy-looking sunflowers

Zucchinis and cucumbers

Parsley and Dill (blooming)

Was hoping you might know what this plant is and if it should be pruned back a bunch...we didn't last year and now it is even bigger. Already done blooming.