Thursday, January 31, 2013

Stay overnight at a Frank Lloyd Wright House!

There are a few of the Frank Lloyd Wright houses where you can actually stay overnight!


Frank Lloyd Wright sleepovers:

The Polymath Park Resort
Acme, PA
(Features 3 of his houses)
From $299. per night

The schwartz House
Two Rivers, WI
From $295. per night

[The photo is "Feb Full Moon" at

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 1853

The First Presbyterian Church was the first Christian congregation in Oakland, forming in 1853 in a tent on Oakland's waterfront.  The congregation settled at its current location, at the corner of Broadway and 27th street, and the church was completed in 1914.  The copper clad-spire is 138 feet tall.  Organ pipes that are about 30 feet tall fit inside a white, 65 foot arch at the alter at the front of the church.

This is a magnificent church, I had a chance to visit this past Sunday.

The city of Oakland offers a free, guided walking tour of churches and temples in Oakland.  All 90 minute walking tours in Oakland are from May to October.  I've never gone on one of the walking tours, but this spring and summer I want to go on a few of the walks!


First Presbyterian Church of Oakland
corner of Broadway and 27th Street,
Oakland, CA

Oakland Walking Tours

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Century Old Rainbow Lodge, Old Ski Collection

I love the century old  Rainbow Lodge off Hwy. 80.  We went there for dinner after a day of skiing at Soda Springs.  I haven't stayed there yet, but have eaten there twice.  The restaurant has a small old ski collection on the walls.  There is a fireplace and a big window looking out to the snow outside.  The bar has knotty pine that made me think of my brother, Rick, who loves knotty pine.

The bar:

The front entrance of Rainbow Lodge in winter:

[Pictures from]


The Rainbow Lodge
50080 Hampshire Rocks Road
Interstate 80 at Norden exit,
Soda Springs, CA  95728

dining room reservaions  530-426-3661
lodging reservations  530-426-0100
ame day reservations 530-426-3661

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Feather River Inn, Renovation, Graegle, CA

I've been following the renovation of the Feather River Inn, in Graegle, CA for the past few years.  The inn is tucked away in the California Sierras, and it is referred as the Shangri La of the Sierras.  Currently, the inn is undergoing an extensive renovation project to return it back to its original grandeur. Through the website,, I can chronicle the inn's historic renovation through photos, news articles, feature stories, photo essays, and interactive presentations. I am especially interested in reading about how they are renovating the historic veranda that people would sit on with provided blankets and rocking chairs and look at the stars!  I am looking forward to visiting this inn and sitting on the newly restored veranda that will open the entire length of the lodge as it did almost 100 years ago.  Imagine soon sitting on the rocking chair seeing the stars  twinkle or a beautiful sunset.  I am looking forward to this inn opening again.


The Feather River Inn
65899 California 70
Blairsden, CA  96103
(530) 836-1253
Established 1914

Is our bungalow a money pit?

I was sitting on my bed and I heard what I thought was rain outside.  Yet, when I looked outside it was sunny- then I had a sunken feeling in my stomach  as  I realized that we had another leak!

Luckily our bungalow has two bathrooms, so now we just have to use our downstairs bathroom until the plumber comes to fix the leak.

My question today is, "Is our bungalow a money pit?"

Friday, January 18, 2013

Preservation Park, Oakland, CA

Preservation Park, in Oakland, has been around for 125 years and is home to sixteen 20th century Victorian residences.  The two landscaped city blocks is an Oakland city oasis.  Currently, mostly small businesses rent the spaces, but tours are offered and there is also event space open to the public.


Preservation Park
1233 Preservation Park Way
Oakland, CA

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Missing Westview Orchards in Michigan

As I sit here on a chilly wintery day in California I find myself missing the fall and winter in Michigan, where I grew up. Today I was thinking of Westview Orchards and Adventure Farm where they have fresh apple cider, warm donuts, and all kinds of other treats. Plus, they have a huge play area for children! I imagine the place now covered in snow. I wonder if they stay open in the winter, and let children play in the snow there?

My son loves the snow and after hearing the song, Rocky Mountain High on the radio the other day, he said it made him sad because it made him miss the snow! It was so sad! I think he would love being raised somewhere with snow as he loves skiing, ice skating, sledding and just playing in the snow. 

Resources: Westview Orchards & Adventure Farm (586) 752-3123

Little Skate in Alameda still open until Jan. 21st.

We All of the outdoor skating rinks in the Greater Bay area area are all closing one by one.  The Little Ice Rink at South Shore Center in Alameda is one of the last ones to still stay open, and they are open until January 21st.  Lucky for my son and I, this is one of our favorites!  My son likes the orange seal skate buddy, and I like to smell the ocean since the outdoor ice rink is so close to the beach. We will be going there at least a few more times this season. I think I love Little Skate so much because it reminds me of growing up in Michigan in the winter and skating on lakes, it was so cold!

 Resources: Little Skate Alameda, CA

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Who repairs leaded glass in Berkeley, CA?

When we bought our house, two of our leaded glass doors on our china cabinets in the living room were broken.  I found out from my realtor about The Stained Glass Garden in Berkeley, CA.  I took off the leaded glass doors, put them in my car and dropped them off at the shop.  They did a beautiful job of fixing and restoring the doors.  I would highly recommend them.

I also found directions for fixing the doors, but I know that is a very difficult process.


The Stained Glass Garden
1800 Fourth Street
Berkeley, CA  94710
(510) 841-2200

For those that would like to fix the leaded glass on their own, see this website

Monday, January 14, 2013

Parenthood on NBC -- Bungalow Home

I just love the show, Parenthood.  The show is supposed to take place in Berkeley, CA, and I just love the beginning of the show, when they have the whole family sitting outside having a meal with twinkling lights above them!  To be honest, part of why I love the show is the set!  I only regularly watch two shows on television, and this is one of them.



Sunday, January 13, 2013

Outdoor ice skating in Marin, CA - Twinkling lights!

Yesterday I took my son to Marin on Ice which is located at the Northgate Mall in San Rafael, CA. We started out with a late lunch/ early dinner at Pandora Bread where they have yummy soup and sandwiches.

 During the winter I crave going outdoor ice skating as it feeds my soul and reminds me of my childhood.  I grew up in Michigan and we did not have any indoor ice skating at all.  During the winter, we'd go to a local lake, test the lake to make sure we wouldn't fall in, then shovel off the snow and that is where we'd finally ice skate.  Once the sun went down a little, we left quickly as it got colder and we had no lights.    It was gorgeous and cold! We then had to walk home.

 Last night as we were skating at Marin Ice  in the cold, and the twinkling lights were on that surrounded the rink, all was right with the world for a moment.  I could have been on a frozen late in Michigan ice skating with my son, or I could have been at a mall- it didn't matter.  It was a really great place to share the story of what it was like when mommy used to ice skate when she was small!  Plus, afterwards, we went to Peet's coffee and my son got a warm vanilla milk drink and I got a cup of tea!


Marin on Ice
Dates open - November 10, 2012 to January 13, 2013
(Today is the last day of the season! The hours today are 12 noon to 10PM.  Stay at night to see the twinkling lights, it is so pretty.) A skate buddy is available to rent, which is only $5.00.
Cost- $15.00 per person which includes ice skating and ice skate rentals.
(There are no lockers, so leave valuable bags and purses at home.  There are simple wood cubbies for shoes and jackets.)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Great Train Expo in East Bay This Weekend!

The Great Train Expo is in the East Bay this weekend, Jan. 12 and 13 from 10am-4pm.  The Great Train Expo is a huge model train show that travels around the country.  For more information, check out their website here.  Kids under 12 get in free.

.[Pic from]

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Dog or A Cat Makes A Bungalow Home! ARF

The other day, my son and I visited ARF in Walnut Creek, CA.  We are looking into getting a dog to join our home.  We already have a cat who actually adopted us.  Actually, I have almost always had a cat and most of them have found and adopted me, and usually they are tabby cats.

I love ARF for so many reasons, but a main one is that they find their animals at shelters and look for pets that are ready to be euthanized, and then bring them to ARF.  Once they are at ARF, there is a guarantee they will live a naturally long life, therefore when I go to ARF and I do not select a dog I know that they will soon find someone else more suited to them.  My son and I have looked at dogs twice at ARF and haven't found the one yet, but I am hopeful we will find our perfect dog soon.

The following is an example from the ARF annual report of what fabulous things they are doing:

1,974 dogs and cats adopted from ARF  (These are dogs who are from public shelters where they have run out of time.

3,357 spay and neuter surgeries (providing community low-cost services and $25 spay/neuter for Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas)


Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation
2890 Mitchell Drive
Walnut Creek, CA  94598
(925) 296-3152

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I'm cold and have the flu in my bungalow

I'm freezing in my old bungalow.  Why are these bungalows so darn cold!  As I sit here freezing I dream of a modern condo in Palm Springs!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Alameda Holiday Lights

I've been hearing about the Alameda holiday lights on Thompson Street  for years, and I finally took my son for a drive there this past Thursday evening.  There were still lights up and my son was really excited.  Tonight is the official last night of the Embarcadero San Francisco lights, and the holiday season is officially coming to an end.  Children will be back at school tomorrow.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Whippersnappers Holiday Store - Lafayette, CA

I took my son to Whippersnappers in Lafayette just before the holidays. The window is decorated so cute!  Now that the holidays are over, they have a whole new window display and my son loves to just stand and stare at them!

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Great GPS disaster on New Year's Eve

On New Year's Eve we were invited to a party at a friend's cabin in Twain Harte, CA.  We used our GPS to get to the party and ended up heading higher into the icy roads of the mountains getting farther away from our destination!  Our friend's husband ended up rescuing us at the Confidence Inn off 108.  Yes, this place really does exist!  A good old fashioned map of the area would have been more helpful.  When the white truck saved us at the Confidence Inn, I felt I could breathe again!

Crop Swap in San Francisco Bay Area

We have some lemons and plums in our yard, and I am thinking of joining a "crop swap."  My friend told me about it on our recent trip to Twain Harte, and I am going to research it.  We have so many plums and lemons that simply fall on the ground, then we have to clean them up.  This year I am making a resolution to use them or give them away.  The "crop swap" may be a perfect solution.

Twain Harte, CA Caffe Blossom - Yummy Chai!

A few days ago we were in Twain Harte, CA over New Year's eve.  We had breakfast two mornings at Caffe Blossom.  The place was really cute, and they even had a wood stove to keep warm.  For a minute, I wanted to sit in the comfortable chair by the fireplace and read a book,  but then I heard the three children under 7 saying they wanted to go sledding and off I went to the snow at Leland Play Center (see blog!)  They sold these special Bell jars by the Mason Bar Company that you can use at home or bring to a cafe. They are Mason jars but have a handle and a top - how clever!  I really appreciated that they carried almond milk, as that is unusual in the Bay Area.  The almond milk chai was delicious!


Caffe Blossom
23063 Fuller Rd.
Twain Harte, CA  95383
(209) 586-9347

Bell jars with handles and tops for drinking hot drinks

Old fashioned ice skating outside in Alameda, CA

Last night I took my son ice skating in Alameda at The Little Ice Rink.  Last year this rink was off of Park Street but this year it moved to South Shore Center West near the beach.  I was so happy to find out it was still open!  I found out last night that they also do parties, call (510) 872-1773 for more information.

They have these orange seals that beginners can hold onto for support.  Though my son is four, he was hanging onto the seal and skating around the whole rink by himself!

The ice skating rink is open until January 21, 2013.


The Little Ice Rink
523 South Shore Center West
Alameda, CA  94501
(510) 521-8100

For parties, call (510) 872-1773

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dorothea's Christmas Shop, Sonora, CA

Yesterday, I visited the Dorothea's Christmas shop in Sonora, CA.  My four year old was really excited to see the Christmas display as he is not quite ready for the holiday season to be over.  We were on our way home from Twain Harte and I had heard through word of the mouth from a local about the place, she actually grew up and went to school with the owners daughter.  She also told me that relatives own the other store in Folsom, CA, so I included that address below.  I got a few ornaments that my son picked out, and I also got a wood sleigh for our house and for grandma's house.  This place is so sweet, when you walk in it is magical even for an adult, and I really like the fact that it is family owned and operated.  There seems to be an endless supply of baskets filled with cute ornaments, and other seasonal decorations!  I changed my mind a few times and they were incredibly patient with my son and I!  This place is open year round so I recommend looking at the website or taking a drive to Sonora!  The town of Sonora is a gold rush town and it is worth a visit too!


Dorothea's Christmas
132 Washington street
Sonora, CA
(209) 533-4198

Dorothea's Christmas
801 Sutter Street
Folsom,CA  95630
(877) 822-6313

(family owned and operated)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Old Sled Collection! Leland High Sierra Snowplay

A few days ago we went to the Leland High Sierra Snowplay area in Strawberry, CA.  Though we came here on December 31st, the place is open from the first snow fall until about mid-April.  This place is family owned and operated, and the lodge is cozy with a fireplace and snacks available.  There is a large collection of antique sleds on the ceiling.  It was fun looking at all of them, and actually remembering some of the wood ones from my childhood.  We used to have a really long sled when I was a child and I'll never forget the thrill of riding down the hill with my brothers!

There is a kiddie hill for children with sleds and innertubes, snowmobile rides for children starting at age 5, and another bigger hill to ride a tow rope up to that is so big that when I went down on an innertube, I had to close my eyes half way down as I was so scared!

Also, for those that just want to hang out and watch,  there is a cozy fireplace, snacks and a deck viewing area.  My friend watched us and had a great area to take photos!


Leland High Sierra Snowplay Inc.
34033  Leland Meadow Rd.
P O Box 152
Strawberry, CA  95375
Phone  (209) 965-4719
FAX (209) 965-3120

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Long Barn Lodge- Historical Destination in Long Barn, CA

My son had a blast at the Long Barn ice rink, and we also stayed at the Long Barn Motel.  This place is really child friendly in the winter with lots of room for children to make snowmen and sled, also there is even an ice skating rink on site!  In 1925, rancher Warren Beal built the Long Barn Lodge so people driving over Sonora Pass could stop for food and lodging.  Long Barn Lodge is still a fun, historical destination for the whole family.  The ice rink opened November 9, 2012 for the 42nd season.  In the spring, summer and early fall months the ice rink turns into an event center that can hold over 300 guests.  This would be a fun place for a family reunion or wedding!

Here's a picture of the Long Barn ice skating rink (containers of mustard for use with corn dogs, which we don't recommend, in the foreground):

Skating in the Long Barn:

Playing in the snow at the Long Barn Inn:

Snow Man created outside a cabin at the Long Barn Inn:

The pool (not used in winter) at Long Barn:

 Saying goodbye to the snowman:

On the way down the mountain, we stopped off at Andy's Mountain Grill, which is just west of Long Barn (before you get to Twain Harte) as you drive west on Highway 108.  Andy's has great burgers.  REALLY great.  They also have a toy car/hobby shop in the back.  They have a great collection of toy cars, as well as radio controlled cars and helicopters.  We found this old sled in the shop.

Pictures of a small part of the toy car collection:

Outside Andy's:

The drive here was a little hair raising as it was icy. I highly recommend bringing chains for your car in the winter months.  Also, once you drive off 108 to Long Barn, there are no restaurants walking distance from the motel and cabins so I would recommend picking up food and drinks before checking in.  Some of the cabins have kitchens and some do not.  We did not want to go out once we checked in so we ordered some snacks such as nachos and corn dogs (which we do not recommend).


Long Barn Lodge and Ice Skating Rink
25957 Long Barn Road
Long Barn, CA  95335
(209) 586-3533

Long Barn ice skating