Sunday, December 29, 2013

Recommended Classes- Sewing Demystified- Sewing Classes in North Oakland, CA

With the new year coming soon, I thought I'd write about this sewing class I found out about!  The business name is Better Living Sewing and they provide sewing classes to individuals and small groups in a fun, patient, and supportive atmosphere.  Classes are small so you get individual attention and hands-on experience.  According to the brochure, ""You'll leave class with skills to help you fearlessly tackle new projects.

About the instructor:  Diana Stasko has taught sewing to hundreds of students for over 15 years in the SF Bay Area.  She has a 35 year sewing background in costuming, textile art, garment making and alterations.

Studio Location:  The sunny, private studio is located near 40th and Broadway in North Oakland.


Better Living Through Sewing
(510) 681-3779

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I Love Hallmark Channel Holiday Movies!

I love Hallmark Channel Holiday movies!  They are sweet, romantic, and when I watch them I usually feel like things are great with the world!  Our cable service currently doesn't get Hallmark channel, and I really miss watching the holiday shows.  I was at my brother's tonight and we watched a movie- my brother, son, our dog, and I all cuddled up on the couch and it was wonderful just to relax!


Holiday movies on Hallmark Channel

(This service is similar to netflix, but has more family friendly content, I haven't tried the service yet.  The service is owned by Hallmark, but all the Hallmark movies are not available on this service.)

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Historic Holbrooke Hotel, Grass Valley, CA- Christmas dinner is 11AM to 6PM- California State Landmark

The current structure of the Historic Holbrooke Hotel in Grass Valley, CA was built in 1862, it was then named the Exchange Hotel, because it was convenient to the local gold exchange.  In 1974, the hotel was declared a California State landmark.  I saw the Holbrooke Hotel this past Friday night when I attended the Cornish Christmas Festival in Grass Valley with my son.  Mr. Snow, a local, was roasting chestnuts in an antique popcorn popper over an open fire, and allowing people to taste the chestnuts for free.  They were delicious.  The Holbrooke Hotel was a gorgeous backdrop to the scene of the fire and roasting chestnuts, so my son and I wanted to go in and check it out.  The hotel was decorated for the holidays and was gorgeous!  They have a Christmas dinner menu, plus you can warm up by the fire inside the Golden Gate Saloon and enjoy specialty drinks.


The Historic Holbrooke Hotel
(530) 273-1353
212 W. Main Street
Grass Valley, CA  95945
(Open for Christmas dinner, menu at $28.95 per adult, and $15.95 per child under 10.)
 Hours are 1PM to 6PM for dinner.

Bronners Christmas Shop, "World's largest Christmas store!" Frankenmuth, Michigan

Bronners Christmas shop in Frankenmuth is thought of as the "World's largest Christmas shop."  The store is open year round, and has nearly every Christmas decoration you can imagine.  The ornaments are gorgeous, and they can be ordered online and shipped.  Frankenmuth is also decked out for the holiday season, and is thought of as "Michigan's little Bavaria."


Bronners Christmas Shop
25 Christmas Lane
Frankenmuth, MI

Christmas Buffet at Zehnders in Frankenmuth, MI

I remember going to Frankenmuth, MI around the holidays, with the lights twinkling and decorations galore!  The main dining room has a Christmas buffet.  When I think of places that would be fun to celebrate Christmas, I think the Zehnders would be special enough for dinner!


730 S. Main Street
Frankenmuth, MI
Hours of main dining room on Christmas Day:  11-8PM

Christmas buffet
adults, $24.50 per person, lower prices depending on age of child

Celebrate the Holidays in Nevada County, California

This holiday season, my son and I went to some of the holiday celebrations in Nevada County.  They really know how to celebrate!

These are some of the festivals they offer:

Victorian Christmas- Nevada City

Artisans Festival at Miners Foundry

Cornish Christmas - Grass Valley  (My current favorite)

Auburn Christmas Festival- Auburn


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Victorian Christmas Festival is today at 1:30PM in Nevada City, CA, great way to get in holiday spirit!

Nevada City is such a magical place around the holidays!  There are white, twinkling lights everywhere and beautiful buildings!  Today is the last Victorian Christmas Festival of the season, and it will be at 1:30PM.  This weekend before Christmas is a gorgeous time to be in this area as there are several winter festivals.  On Friday night was the Cornish Festival in Grass Valley, On Saturday night was the Auburn Christmas festival, and today is the Victorian Christmas festival in Nevada City.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Victorian Christmas Festival in Nevada City

Nevada City is where one of my favorite holiday films, "The Christmas Card," was filmed.

Sunday, December 22nd, is the Nevada City Victorian Christmas Festival.  Here's the official description:

The enticing aromas of roasted chestnuts and hearty holiday foods fill the air, along with cries of street vendors hawking their wares and lamp-lit streets filled to overflowing with authentic Christmas treasures. It’s the 35th one & only Victorian Christmas-full of new shows, sights, sounds and attractions.
Welcome the holiday season in style in historic Nevada City, a quaint, Gold Rush town nestled in the foothills of the snow-capped Sierra where each year the town’s picturesque downtown transforms into a genuine Christmas card come to life. It’s a magical setting of hilly streets outlined with twinkling white lights and authentic gas lamps, wandering minstrels and carolers dressed in Victorian attire, and a myriad of visitors sharing holiday cheer and good tidings.
This annual, family tradition takes place three Wednesday evenings and two Sunday afternoons in December and features holiday activities for all ages:  carriage rides, live entertainment, savory yuletide treats and libations, and of course, Father Christmas!
There is oh so much to see, hear, feast upon and experience at Victorian Christmas. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice…we look forward to welcoming the best of the holiday Season with you and yours!
For anyone looking for the Christmas Card movie, here it is:

Cornish Christmas in Grass Valley

The Cornish Christmas Festival in Grass Valley, California is tonight until 9pm.  We are having a great time!  

Lots of food, crafts, etc.  Hot cider.  Hot chocolate.  Cornish pasties.  Clam Chowder.  Tons of other food.  Police are patrolling on horseback.  Lots of people; great way to get into the Christmas spirit.  

One big highlight for us -- chestnuts roasting on an open fire in front of the Holbrooke Hotel.  Just like the song.  And we have just learned that my son loves roasting chestnuts.  

Another highlight -- a 10-year old student at Nevada City School of the Arts playing Christmas songs on the violin.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Red Microfleece Throw - on wicker rocking chair on front porch

When I went to a concert with friends just before the holidays, my friend picked up micro fleece throw at Target.  I liked them so much, that she gave them to me for Christmas!  I love them thrown over wicker rocking chairs.


Polartec Microfleece Throw, Oversized
Berkshire Blanket
$19.99 each

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Decorating- Net-style lights- can use on bushes

I saw some gorgeous lights last night on  bushes!  They are truly Hanukkah bushes or Christmas bushes, or anything you want them to be!  I went to the ACE  hardware store near my house and they are called net-style lights.


150 indoor/outdoor net-style lights
(Great for decorating bushes, trees, or windows)
Manufactured for Ace Hardware Store
Oak Brook, IL  60523
Catalogue #  48950-71
ACE # 9864307

rats and mice- unwelcome holiday guests in an old bungalow

Old bungalows have rats or mice sometimes,  I actually found a hole in my kitchen once that led outside.  I'm always checking for cracks and crevices.  The JT Eaton Stick-em rat & glue traps work well, and are easy.  Make sure you do not touch it as they stick well, and also keep off the floor if you have pets.  We found out about this type from a contractor.


The Original Stick-Em Rat & Mouse Glue Traps
Pre-Baited, Peanut Butter Scented, non-poisonous
JT Eaton

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rockridge Craftsman for sale in Oakland, CA with original oak wood and built ins

I went to an open house yesterday, which I haven't done in quite awhile.  I saw a craftsman home in Rockridge with 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and what was really special about this house was the built ins and the original oak wood!  I appreciated that the wainscoting was not painted white, but was left with the original oak wood.  This is a beautiful house that is quite roomy for a craftsman style home in Rockridge.  It is hard enough finding a 2 bath home, much less 2.5 baths.  There were hard wood floors throughout the home, walk-in closets, and it is walking distance to bart, shops, coffee, etc.


Rockridge Craftsman
5804 Ocean View
Rockridge district
Oakland, CA

Mark Bitzer Broker (Lic 0301863)
Bitzer Realty
(510) 757-8704
FAX 510-658-3008
(This property sold "as-is"

A new bike ride above the San Francisco Bay - from Oakland towards Treasure Island!

There is now a bike lane on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge!  The ride starts near the Emeryville, CA Ikea, which also a great place to park, and then shop or eat afterwards.  The path is 3.5 miles and meanders under freeways and past the Oakland docks before rising over the bay.  The route now ends just short of Treasure Island.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Swaps, Berkeley, CA

In Berkeley, there are now winter swaps the first Saturday of the month.  Bring books, clothing, crops, seedlings, or something homemade to share.  Enjoy the park and meet people in the community.  Participation open to everyone.  Cancelled if raining hard.


Winter Swap, Berkeley, CA
Sponsored By Transition Berkeley
Location:  Ohlone Greenway @Sacramento and Delaware, across from North Berkeley Bart.
January 4, 2014
February 1, 2014
March 1, 2014
April 5, 2014
June 3, 2014


Transition Berkeley

Transition Berkeley is part of a growing international network of Transition initiatives.

The purpose of Transition Berkeley is "Bringing neighbors together to build a more sustainable, self-reliant future for Berkeley.  We envision a strong, diverse local economy with a greatly reduced dependence on fossil fuels, and a cooperative, rewarding community life."


Transition Berkeley
See website for events and resources

Seed lending Library, Berkeley, CA

Discover the world of Saving and Sharing Seeds at the seed lending library!  The Cesar Chavez and Dimond branches of libraries in Berkeley, CA have seed lending libraries.  These free urban seed projects are committed to increasing the capacity of our community to feed itself wholesome food by means of education that fosters community resilience, self-reliance, and a culture of sharing.  The seed library is supported by volunteers and donations.


Seed Lending Libraries

Cesar Chavez Library
3301 East 12th Street, Suite 271
(510) 535-5620
Tuesday 12:30 to 8
Wednesday 10 to 5:30
Thursday & Saturday 10 to 5:30
Friday 12 to 5:30
Monday & Sunday Closed

Dimond Branch Library
3565 Fruitvale Avenue
(510) 482-7844
Tuesday 12:30 to 8
Wednesday 10 to 5:30
Thursday & Saturday 10 to 5:30
Friday 12 to 5:30
Monday & Sunday Closed

Saturday, December 7, 2013

BART Problems Visit Rockridge

A few days ago, a BART train got stuck in the tunnel between Orinda and Rockridge.  Passengers were trapped for around an hour, and complained that BART did not provide details on why the train was stopped.  A burning odor floated through the cars, and a number of passengers apparently ended up being hospitalized.

Here's the scene in Rockridge that night -- lots and lots of television vans!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Classic Train Set

I got my son a classic train set from the gift shop at the CA State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.  It contained everything we needed to set up a moving train.  It is not big enough to put around the Christmas tree.  I recommend this product, my son has really enjoyed it!  It even features lights and sounds.

Wow Toyz
103 Panton Road
Vergennes, VT  05491  USA
Item # WT-TR14
($14.99 at the CA State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, CA)

Recommended Wood Spoons

I really like using wooden spoons now.  They can be used on any cooking surface, and you don't have to worry about them melting or scratching teflon pans.  When I go camping or rent a cabin, I bring a few of mine from home, because they come in handy!  I even use them sometimes to serve a salad!  Handwashing is recommended, but we sometimes put them in the dishwasher.


wood spoons
Bradshaw International, Inc.
Rancho Cucamonga, CA  91730
(I use #27900 spoons)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Recommended beach bungalow rentals in Santa Cruz area (Aptos, Santa Cruz, Capitola, etc.)

We were looking for a beach bungalow to rent in the Santa Cruz area that allowed dogs, and we found one through Santa Cruz Getaways.  We rented the Harris II, which is at 100 Winfield  in Aptos, and it was wonderful.  It is walking distance from the Rio Del Mar Beach, has 2 bedrooms, and a fold out couch.  Rio Del Mar Beach is really dog friendly, there is also a cafe walking distance away called the Beach Bean.


Recommended Beach Bungalow
Harris II
100 Winfield
Aptos, CA

Santa Cruz Getaways
(831) 687-WAVE
Frank & Jewlia