Friday, June 21, 2013

Claremont Diner in Rockridge District, Oakland, CA -Retro 50s

Today is the first day of summer!  As a teacher, I have a little time off and my son and I decided to celebrate by going out for breakfast!  My son chose the Claremont Diner on College Avenue in the Rockridge District of Oakland, CA.   We got there early so walked over to my favorite coffee place, Cole Coffee, which is on College avenue across from Safeway.  The Claremont diner, which opens at 9:00AM, is a true retro style 50s diner that is a great place to go with children!  My son loves this place because there is a overhead, just below the ceiling, toy train that runs around the restaurant through a miniature village.  In order for the train to run, you'll need to ask the waitress.  There are red vinyl booths and a long countertop with swivel booths.  There is a true nostalgic feel and reminds me of Red Knapp restaurant in Rochester, Michigan which is where I grew up going.  They also have a fun neon sign collection.  I'll blog about Knapps another day, maybe when I'm visiting family in Michigan!


Claremont Diner
6200 Claremont Avenue
Oakland, CA  94618
(510) 655-5455

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que - this place is fun and has great story!!!! Love this place!

I took my mom and son to Lucille's Bar-B-Que last night in Concord, CA right next to Sun Valley mall.   This place is so much fun, my son loves the jazz music, he literally dances in his seat!  They are child friendly and have a great story about how the name Lucille's came to be.   There is an actual smoker with apple and wood, with a bell ringing when the next item is going to be smoked.  What I love about this place is that the waiters and waitresses actually look happy and that means so much to the customer.  I've been here twice and both times have been family excursions, but I think this would also be a fun place to go with friends for drinks and appetizers!  This place is a chain as there are other locations, and I am sometimes wary of chains as they sometimes can lack a personal, bungalow personality!  Yet, the owners of this chain really understand the importance of going to a place and getting local art and culture.  There are pictures of the south and by local artists all over the walls, and they look original.  I would love to have a conversation with the owners about their artwork and ambiance!


Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Peet's Coffee between Telegraph and Shattuck, in Temescal, is open at 6:00AM

Yes, I'm still at Peet's Coffee, parked in front of my computer with a cup of Joe in my hand. I thought I'd share about this Peet's being open so early.  Most cafes in the area that I usually go to don't open until 7:00AM.

I have begun to really love this area of Temescal, and love the early morning feeling here!  Also, this shopping center where Peet's is located has parking so as I'm writing I'm looking at my car!

Next Steps for our bungalow - Shall we remodel the kitchen? Is there homeowner spring fever?

As I sit and have my coffee this morning, I think about next steps for our bungalow.  We have been caretakers and owners since the fall of 2003, and in some ways it seems less.  When we first purchased it, we had so many hopes and dreams.  We have not done as many restorations as we thought, this fall will be our 10 year anniversary.  Now, we have a son, a dog, our beloved cat, T. passed away and now we have an outdoor cat named D.   This past fall my brother passed away from cancer, our uncle passed away last summer,  I've had two aunts from both sides of my family pass away, and my son has lost his first three pet fish.   This morning I woke up at 6:00 AM thinking about all these things.  I headed over to the Peet's coffee by Domenico's on Telegraph avenue.  This is the first time I've been to this cafe so early.

I think I have homeowner spring fever.  I want a new kitchen, but don't want to feel the stress during the process.

One thing I do recommend is this Peet's at 6:00AM.  It is a great place to write and contemplate life.  Peet's does a great job of creating a homey, yet structured feel.  There are comfortable wood chairs with leather tops, long hanging lights, and even a leather sofa.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Hidden Meadow Ranch in Greer, Arizona

Hidden Meadow Ranch is four hours from Albuquerque, New Mexico.  It is one of the most beloved vacation spots in Arizona as it is twenty to thirty degrees cooler than the deserts.  The majestic dining room has a thirty five foot granite fireplace on wall that was adorned with a mounted moose head.  There are also leather couches hobnobbed against the backdrop of expansive picture windows.  This vacation spot has twelve cabins, and has activities planned such as leather working.


Hidden Meadow Ranch

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Legendary architect, Frank Gehry, started with a tiny bungalow in Santa Monica - see his TED talk

Tonight I watched a TED talk about living legend, Frank Gehry.  I learned that he started with a tiny bungalow in Santa Monica, and built around that small bungalow.

He gave the following quote regarding his work, "If I knew where I was going, I wouldn't do it.  When I can predict or plan it, I don't do it.  I discard it."


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Merritt Restaurant and Bakery, an Oakland, CA landmark near Lake Merritt, closed due to fire

I need a sheet cake tomorrow and so I called  Merritt Bakery in Oakland near Lake Merritt and when I didn't get an answer, I looked it up on the internet and discovered they were closed due to a fire that occurred in May.  The old style diner was 63 years old, it opened in 1952, and has become an Oakland landmark, popular with elders as well as hipsters, too!  My son loved to go to the bakery and get a treat when we were visiting Lake Merritt.  In fact, we got his circus birthday cake there last year, he loved it!  We will miss this special bakery and diner!  Hopefully, they will open again.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Arbor Cafe, Telegraph and 42nd streets, Oakland, CA - love the wood mismatched furniture, lovely!

I'm sitting in the Arbor cafe right now, at the corner of Telegraph and 42nd street.  I'm sitting in an old wooden chair with my computer on a wood table.  In front of me, I see an antique chandelier hanging from the wall.  This place is filled with comfortable seating, just made for hanging out with a good cup of coffee.  They only do pour over coffee and french press, they do not do espresso or fancy latte drinks.  This is also refreshing!

They only take cash, no credit cards.  The guy in front of me didn't know this rule, had no cash and pulled out his credit card.  The guy behind the counter said, "Don't worry about it, you can pay next time!"  He actually said this with an empathic,  friendly smile on his face!  We are in the Temescal neighborhood, which is a very hip area of Oakland.  As I write, I hear Fleetwood Mac's "Never Going Back Again."  This place feels very different from the typical modern coffee shop.

The coffee is from Bicycle coffee which is based in the area also, the coffee is actually delivered by bicycles to the different stores and coffee shops.

Here's a picture (taken from, which has a great article about Arbor Cafe available here).

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Lakeside Inn - Lakeside, MI, on National Register of Historic Places- Part I of the story

I was on the way to Chicago this past month and decided to check out and visit the Lakeside Inn in Lakeside, Michigan.  The place has a long and varied history, the land was originally purchased back in 1844 by 58 year old Alfred Ames, who came from Vermont.  The area was known as the Clay Banks because sailors used the high clay bluffs as landmarks as they sailed along the lake shore.  Ames' wife, Mary, remained in Illinois for the first year while Alfred built a long cabin on the property.  This was actually the first home built on the lake proper in the area.  The first school in the township was at the Ames' house with Mrs. Ames acting as the teacher of the nine children in attendance.

To be continued........

Here's the front entrance of the Lakeside Inn:

 Some pictures inside the Inn:

The back entrance:

In the courtyard:

The Inn's veranda:

The long steps down from the Inn to Lake Michigan:

Back on the veranda, looking out toward a bird hotel: