Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Old Bakeries still alive in North Beach area of San Francisco

I love going to the North Beach area of San Francisco and visiting the old original bakeries.  Though some things have changed about the area over the years, it still has an Italian heart and soul.  The following are a few of the older bakeries in the area:

Liguria Bakery (est. 1911)
1700 Stockton
San Francisco, CA  94133
(415) 421-3786
(excellent focaccia)

Victoria Pastry (est. 1914)
700 Filbert Street
San Francisco, CA  94133
(415) 781-2015
(yummy chocolate eclairs and princess cakes)

Italian-French Baking Company
1501 Grant Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 421-3796
(great chocolate croissants)

Stella's Pastry (ca.1942)
446 Columbus (between Green and Stockton)
San Francisco, CA  94133
(415) 986-2914
(tasty tiramasu, eclairs, and cannoli)

Mara's Italian Pastry
503 Columbus Avenue
(between Stockton and Green)
San Francisco, CA
(415) 397-9435

Monday, October 28, 2013

Recommended Artist and Artwork, Frank Erickson

Frank Erickson has a large selection of artwork on his website.  His inspiration for painting was growing up with beautiful artwork on the walls of his home.  Growing up with all those paintings on the walls was his "inspiration to be a painter."  He could therefore, "not resist to paint!"

On his website he even shares what paintings were on the walls as he was growing up, it is fascinating to witness this part of his history of being an artist.


Mark Erickson
(510) 893-2800

Friday, October 25, 2013

Knights Ferry, CA - Salmon Festival, October 26, 2013

Tomorrow is the salmon festival at the Knights Ferry covered bridge.  The festival will be from 10AM to 4 PM.  The covered bridge was built in 1864 to replace the original bridge, which was washed away by the flood of 1862.  The bridge is fastened together with locust pins.  It was a toll bridge until purchased by Stanislaus County in 1885.  The salmon festival will have the following activities:

*historic tours
*food, such as barbecued salmon
*live music
*fish print shirts
*salmon obstacle course
*fly fishing demo

Image from

Salmon Festival, 2013
10AM- 4PM
October 26, 2013
Located at Knights Ferry Covered Bridge
17968 Covered Bridge Rd.
Oakdale, CA
(209) 334-2968 ex. 403

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Recommended Cafe in Alameda, CA - Wescafe

I found a great cafe in Alameda, CA on the way to my son's favorite outdoor area in Alameda, Crab Cove.  It is called Wescafe.  I really love it as it serves other creamer other than just milk and soy, it has almond milk as well as Hemp milk.

Book Recommendation for Fellow Crafters - I Just Like To Make Things by Lilla Rogers

I was at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago browsing in the bookstore with my son and I discovered the book, I Just Like To Make Things by Lilla Rogers.  Lilla is a top artist agent who founded Lilla Rogers Studio.  This book is a great read for someone like me who loves making things, doing art, and crafting.  The book starts with the introduction saying, "If you want to paint, craft, illustrate, or design, and make it lucrative and exciting, then this is the book for you."  While I was reading this book, it made me feel like I was having coffee with a good friend who happened to be an art agent, and she was telling me her secrets!  I have only read 1/4 of the book, but I am really enjoying it!


I Just Like To Make Things
by Lilla Rogers
Founder, Lilla Rogers Studio
Quarry Books
100 Cummings Center
Suite 406L
Beverly, MA 01915

Monday, October 21, 2013

I discovered this blog last night.  Jenny blogs about lots of home improvement ideas.  Great blog!


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Halloween Murder Mystery dinner at historic National Hotel, Jamestown, CA

The historic National Hotel was established in 1859 by Heinrich and Hannah Neilson.  The 2 wooden buildings were among the first permanent structures in the gold-rush town of Jamestown.  The wooden bar in the restaurant is original and on the wall there are pictures of people sitting around it since 1900.

 There is a Halloween murder mystery dinner at the hotel on Thursday, October 31, 2013.  Guests are encouraged to dress as a favorite movie star or favorite character from a movie, as a "casting agent" is there to find the perfect look-alike movie stars to appear in a new movie.  An original mystery will be used which was written and produced by Eric Owens.

 The party begins at 6:30PM for appetizers and drinks.  Then, there is a $70.00  three course dinner with choices such as Veal Rolatini, Salmon En Croute, or Chicken Crevette.  The dessert is delicate pastry cups filled with ice cream, berries, and chocolate!  The fee also includes a complimentary well drink, tax, tip, and sleuthing.  There is a resident ghost named Flo, who you can read about on the website.  There are hotel rooms available, with special murder mystery rate.  Maybe, if you stay, you can meet Flo who is supposedly a friendly, mischievous ghost.


1859 Historic National Hotel
http:  //
(209) 984-3446

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Recipe - Beer-Braised Short Ribs

Beer-Braised Short Ribs


3 pounds of beef short ribs, trimmed
(Have butcher cut the ribs into 2 to 2 1/2 inch lengths so that they easily fit in the pan.)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
3 celery stocks, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
5 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 (12-ounce) bottles lager beer
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
14.5-ounce beef broth, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Hot cooked egg noodles
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle ribs with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Heal oil in a Dutch oven or cast iron casserole over medium-high heat.  Add ribs to pan; cook 8 minutes or until browned on all sides.  Remove ribs from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon oil in pan.

2.  Saute onion, celery, and carrots in to oil for 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and tomato paste; saute 2 minutes.  Add beer, Worcestershire sauce, and 1 1/4 cups broth to pan, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of pan.  Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

3.  Return ribs to pan, turning to coat with sauce mixture.  Bake, covered, 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until ribs are very tender.

4.  Transfer ribs to a serving bowl.  Skim fat from pan drippings.  Whisk together flour and remaining 1/2 cup broth; stir into pan drippings.  Bring to a boil; boil 1 minute or until thickened.  Serve ribs with hot cooked egg noodles; top with pan sauce, and sprinkle with parsley.  Makes 4 servings.

Daniel Island, South Carolina - Coastal Living Showhouse tour

Daniel Island which is outside of downtown Charleston, South California used to be a private hunting retreat.  Now, this quaint waterfront locale is booming after being developed by the Daniel Island Company.  The master-planned city's success is due to its commitment to establishing a true sense of community, even having building regulations that mandate that each home be equipped with an extra large front porch for neighborly get togethers.

Coastal Living Magazine has a 2013 show house in the community, featuring the best of Seaside design.  The house can be toured this weekend, October 19th and 20th.  Visit for more information.  This house is not an old bungalow, but I guarantee it has an amazing front porch!


Daniel Island, South Carolina
Coastal Living Showhouse tour

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sideboard Cafe, Danville, CA- dog and child friendly!- Update, January 2014, they are moving!

My son and I love going to the Sideboard Cafe when we are in Danville.  The Sideboard was founded on St. Patrick's Day in 2008 around the time my son was born.  I remember first going there with him as a really little guy with some of the moms I met at a baby sign language class at the Danville Library. They have a commitment to natural, organic, and sustainable produce whenever possible.  Sometimes we bring our dog and sit on the patio, which is dog friendly.  There is such an adorable selection of pooches on the patios with their owners!  They have a bright red wagon filled with comfy blankets for cold days or nights.  My son loves wrapping himself in a cozy blanket.

I like the fried brussel sprouts with dip, unbelievably yummy!  My son loves the cheeseburger.  They also have a homemade rub for pork and beef that they sell at the shop, made with Blue Bottle espresso. I sent a few bottles to family members out of state and they loved the gift!

Today, my son and I are going to check out the Museum of the San Ramon Valley on Railroad Avenue, which is walking distance from the restaurant.  Currently, they have an exhibit on Native Americans.  Also, there is a real train caboose that houses public bathrooms, but also has an exhibit.  My son loves playing around the real train!  We discovered together from this exhibit that the very train tracks on exhibit used to go all the way from Danville, CA to San Francisco, CA.  My son wishes that train still exists!  The train museum hours are limited, so check the website before visiting.


Sideboard Restaurant
411 Hartz
Danville, CA
(925) 984-2713

Update, January 2014
Sideboard is moving to Railroad Avenue in early 2014, so check the website for the exact opening of the new location!  I can't wait, though I loved the old location with the fun patio, with heaters, blankets, and dog and child friendly environment!

Museum of the San Ramon Valley
(925) 837-3750
205 Railroad Rd.
Danville, CA

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Recommended realtor in Copperopolis, CA

Copperopolis is a new, old town in Calaveras County, CA.  Aaron Stafford has lived in Copperopolis in years and loves the area!  He is extremely knowledgable about the area and is patient with questions.
I highly recommend him as a realtor in Copperopolis, CA


Aaron Stafford
Coldwell Banker
Broker Associate
Lic #01241567
Lake Tulloch
Cell:  (209) 840-1432
Fax:  (866) 807-8832
14  O'Byrnes Ferry Road
Copperopolis, CA  95228

Copperopolis, A New Old Town- Recommended Restourants

I visited Copperopolis, CA this weekend and I really enjoyed visiting this new, old town.  The Saddleback Resort is a few miles from the town square and they have some of the best golf in California!

 I went to two restaurants in the town on a recent visit and I recommend both of them.

 Paninis Italian Grill had delicious Italian food.  It is a locally owned restaurant and the owner greeted us at our table and gave us some interesting facts about the town.  I love supporting locally owned businesses, if possible.   My son had the spaghetti and loved it.  The lasagna was really yummy too.

Griff's Barbeque and Grill had barbecued food as well as delicious salads.  I had a really yummy salad and my husband and son had barbecue.  We all enjoyed our dinner.  The environment is great too!

The town was decorated for Halloween and there were ghosts and goblins flying in the town square and on the gazebo.  My dog enjoyed taking a break and running around the square playing catch.

Griff's Barbeque had an outdoor area where you can eat with your pooch.


Panini's Italian Grill

Griff's Barbeque & Grill

Local Cafe, Snaps, for coffee and hot drinks

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Autobahn Cafe, Oakland, CA- Victorian exterior!

I'm sitting at the Autobahn Cafe in Oakland, CA.  What a cozy find parallel to 880 near Jack London Square!  I was impressed how easy it was to park on the street outside the cafe, and the beautiful Victorian exterior with old style lamps, that may just be original.  The inside has high ceilings, fans, and comfortable wood tables and chairs.  I'm sitting at a window seat looking out a bay window (i'm looking at the 880 freeway, but with the song, "As Time Goes By" and other classic instrumentals, I feel like I can dream I'm anywhere I want to be!

I highly recommend this place.  For coffee or chais, they have soy milk and milk (no charge for soy milk.)  I am actually temporarily giving up both soy and milk, and I brought my own small coconut milk container and they graciously made me a delicious chai latte with it.  The people who work here are really calm and kind!  I highly recommend this place, it is my first time, but I will definitely be back.  There is a sign outside showing lunch items, and the organic quinoa salad sounds delicious!


Autobahn Cafe
571 5th Street
Oakland, CA  94607

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dinnerware- 100% Tree Free Disposable Dinner Plates

I found some ultra strong dinner plates that are 100% tree free!  They are made from bamboo which is more eco friendly than regular wood because bamboo regenerates in as little as six months.  The plates are also microwavable!  We like to use disposable plates when we eat outside.


Ultra Strong Dinner Plates
18 microwavable plates
100% tree free
Distributed by Walgreen Co.
200 Wilmot Rd.
Deerfield, IL  60015

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Cleaning the home- Casabella Water Stop Gloves

I found the Casabella gloves at Whole Foods, but they can also be ordered online.  They are 100% latex and also have a comfortable cotton flock lining inside.  What is nice about these gloves is that they have a cuff that catches liquid from getting on your sleeves or hands.  I use these gloves for dish washing, car washing, oven cleaning, everything where I'm using water but don't want to get my hands wet.


Congers New York  10920  USA
Made in Greece

Dinner Recipe- Beef Meat Loaf from Whole Foods

Normally I make my own meatloaf, but when I was at Whole Foods yesterday I noticed they made it there fresh with freshly ground basel and other herbs, the butcher said he even brings it home and his own children love it.  For 1.940 lbs. it coast $10.65.   So, I tried it.  It is so easy, I just preheated the oven to 375 degrees and cooked it for one hour, then took it out and glazed it with organic catsup then cooked it for 5 more minutes.  It was delicious!


Whole Foods Market, meat department, Beef Meatloaf

Monday, October 7, 2013

Caffe 817, Old Oakland, CA

I am sitting at Caffe 817 in Old Oakland.  I ordered a house brewed chai soy latte, which is really tasty but not too sweet, plus I ordered a single poached egg and they only charged me the "add an egg" rate at $1.50.  The parsley and other spices they sprinkled on the egg really made it taste every savory! There are high ceilings, a wood tables, and large windows that look out onto Old Oakland.  Street parking can get tight at lunchtime, though there is a paying parking area across the street.  Right now I am parked on the street.  I have always liked Old Oakland shops on Washington Street.

Bungalow Mama


817 Washington street
Oakland,  CA  94607
1 (510) 271-7965

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Out and About in Rockridge is today until 6 PM. Rockridge, CA

Today is Out and About and Rockridge in Oakland, CA.  Festivities are today until 6:00PM.  We spent much of today walking around, having lunch, shopping, and people watching.


Out and About in Rockridge
Rockridge District of Oakland, CA

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Full Belly Farm has campout tonight!

Full Belly Farm in Yolo County, CA is having a campout tonight.  The price is $25.00 per car and no reservations are required, and you do not have to have a CSA membership to camp over.   This year is the 26th annual celebration, and the main festivities are  today from 11AM to 11PM.  Last year my son and I drove to Guinda for the Saturday celebration, but did not camp.  They had food, music, and other entertainment.  They also had tractor tours of the property which were really interesting!  This year we had another engagement so couldn't go, but I look back fondly at last year's trip there.  Next year I want to camp there as it was a long trip there and back.

Check out a video of full belly camp on tube, under the title of Full Belly Camp Documentary by Andrew Pinkham.

Full Belly Farm is a certified organic farm located in the beautiful Capay Valley of Northern California.  Their CSAF program offers boxes of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, and offers seasonal outings like these, some for members of the CSA only and others for the general public.


Full Belly Farm

Hoes Down Harvest Festival
26th Annual Celebration
October 5th and 6th
Yolo County
Saturday, 11AM to 11PM
Saturday Night camping, $25.00
Sunday- Specialized hands-on seminars in a variety of subjects, register at Ecofarm booth.

Fully Belly Farm
16090 Road 43
Guinda, CA
(530) 796-2214



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Recipe - Garlic Ginger Chicken

Garlic Ginger Chicken

2 Tablespoons of grass fed butter, unsalted (I used goat butter I had purchased at Whole Foods.)
1 Tablespoon of ginger root, minced
5 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
1/4 teaspoon of fish sauce
1/4 cup of coconut aminos
8 chicken thighs
1 teaspoon of salt  (I didn't use any salt and the chicken was delicious.)
1 teaspoon of black pepper


1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter on low-heat.

3.  Turn the heat to medium, and add the ginger, garlic, fish sauce, and coconut amines to the butter.

4.  Allow the mixture to come to a bubble, and stir for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat, and set aside.

5.  Place the chicken thighs in an oven safe baking dish, and pour the sauce over the chicken.  Optional:  I used a large cast iron pan to cook the chicken on each side for a few minutes before placing in the oven.

6.  Sprinkle each chicken thigh with pepper and salt (optional)

7.  Bake the chicken for 45 minutes and allow it to cool slightly before serving.

This recipe is adopted from the Garlic Ginger Chicken recipe on page 132 of the book, The 30 Day Guide to Paleo Cooking by Hayley Mason and Bill Staley.


The 30 Day Guide to Paleo Cooking
by Hayley Mason and Bill Staley
Victory Belt Publishing Inc.
Las Vegas
Copyright 2013
ISBN 978-1-936608-49-2

Tours - Bay Area Green Tours, SF Bay Area

Last year I went on a sustainable restaurant tour in San Francisco, by the waterfront,  through Bay Area Green Tours.  I found out about the tour from a friend who goes on many of their tours and loves them!  It was a very enjoyable and delicious day and I want to go on more of their tours.

The tour topics are the following:

Alternative transportation

Sustainable San Francisco

Green Building

Renewable Energy

Moveable Feast

Wine and Cheese

Green Pioneers

Sustainable Agriculture

They also offer private tours for schools, colleges, businesses, tour groups introducing their guests on the tour to sustainable businesses and organizations that are role models for a sustainable economy.

The locations where tours are offered are the following:

Napa County

Marin County

Sonoma County

Moveable Feast-a sustainable restaurant tour, the tour I went on, LOVELY and YUMMY!


Bay Area Green Tours
2150 Allston Way
Suite 280
Berkeley, CA  94704
(510)  704-0379

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cookbooks - Good Morning Baking, by Mani Niall

I am sitting with a hot cup of coffee and a oatmeal sour cherry chocolate chip cookie at Sweet Bar Bakery on Broadway street in Oakland, CA.  This is my favorite bakery in Oakland, and also my son's favorite place to get a chocolate chip cookie with organic flour and a glass of organic milk!!!!  I love this place.  A few days ago I had talked to the owner and he told he that his dried cherries of the oatmeal sour cherry chocolate chip cookies come from Traverse City, Michigan!  Now, I know why this place reminds me so much of my childhood in Michigan.  Also, the owner and chef, Mani, spent his early years growing up in Michigan.

He has a new cookbook called Good Morning Baking!  It has delicious recipes to start the day.  As I looked through the book, I noticed the Strawberry-Rhubarb Turnovers which reminds me of the rhubarb pie my grandma used to make from rhubarb in her garden!  I will ask Mani if I can share this recipe on a future blog!

His book is dedicated to the memory of his father, George Brendan Nial, Sr. whose idea of a good morning began with soft scrambled eggs, crisp bacon, and black coffee.  My father, like Man's father, always had us start the day with a real breakfast such as eggs, bacon, pancakes, and biscuits!  In my dad's mind, breakfast was the most important (and tasty) meal of the day!  All  of us 4 children in my family grew up knowing how to cook eggs, bacon, and sausage, and we all have loved a great breakfast!

Sweet Bar Bakery has a delicious gluten free frittata for a breakfast choice, they also have breakfast sandwiches.  Coffee refills are free, too!


Strawberry-Rhubarb Turnovers, from p. 71,
Good Morning Baking, Delicious Recipes to Start the Day
Mani Niall
Photographs by Erin Kunkel
Egg & Dart Publishing
ISBN 978-0-9838595-7-4

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Porch - a glossary of words

I've been noticing porches in my neighborhood recently, and it is really fun looking at the different aspects of the porch and actually knowing the language.

Here are some words I've recently learned referring to different aspects of a porch.

Baluster - One of the small upright posts that support rail and sometimes connect to a lower rail.

Balustrade - The entire railing enclosing a porch, staircase, balcony, or deck, made up of a series of balusters.

Gingerbread Trim - Ornate wood decoration common on Victorian homes.

Header - Horizontal framing member above the porch posts.

Lattice - Decorative, openwork wooden panels often used to fill the space from the porch floor to the ground

Newel - The post at the top or bottom of the stairs.

Ornament - This includes millwork, moldings, gingerbread trim, and other detailing added for decoration.

Pediment - A low-pitched gable often used as a porch roof.