Thursday, February 25, 2010

Central Coasting

Last weekend Brent and I took Em back to our old stomping grounds on the Central California Coast.

The main objective of our long weekend was to introduce Em to my grandfather, whom I hadn't seen in more than two years. After visiting at his house in Morro Bay, we went out to lunch. My grandpa, whom I've always called Pop-Pop, fell in love with Em, and she eventually warmed up to him, too.
Em meets her great-grandfather

After lunch, my grandpa and his wife headed home while Brent and I took Em to the nearby aquarium, a place I had fond memories of visiting with my family growing up.

The aquarium starts with its rehabilitation center for sea lions. Currently there are three sea lions, and you can purchase cut-up fish to feed them.
Seal Food!

I thought it'd be fun for Em to feed them, but she's still too young to grasp the concept. I was a little grossed out by the bits o' raw fish myself (yet I adore sushi), but I still fed the little guys.
Sea lions

Brent, who'd never visited this aquarium, immediately dubbed it the "Haunted Aquarium."

It is a bit creepy. It's small and features tanks that are probably straight out of the '60s.

Em was momentarily unhappy.

Admittedly, the fish were kinda scary.
Creepy eels

Ok, *really* scary.

But we still had fun, really!

Later that evening our friends, Matt and Nicole, arrived from Northern California. Matt's parents were so sweet to let us all stay at their awesome vacation house in Pismo Beach. After Em was down for the night, we had a blast catching up with our dear friends, who brought along some poetry from the lovely Suzanne Somers.

Matt's reading.
Matt's turn

Brent's reading.

(Matt and Nicole recently attended a comedy night in San Francisco, where comics read aloud from other actors' autobiographies. That's how they discovered that lovely gem of a book.)

The next day we drove through the Cal Poly college campus, where we all went to school.
Where it all began

It was amusing to see how much the college has changed over the last 10 years. Tons of swanky new dorms and dining options, and huge new buildings for various departments.

We lunched at Downtown San Luis Obispo's Firestone Grill for its amazing tri-tip sandwiches. Then we introduced Em to Bubblegum Alley. Notice that we kept her secured in her stroller 'cuz I think I would've vomited if she went for any of that chewed gum on those walls.
Em visits Bubble Gum Alley

We rounded off our weekend with a trip to the nearby outlet mall (where I used to work), and a quick visit to a monarch butterflies grove.

We were hoping the rumors that were still lots of butterflies were true.

Sadly, we probably saw about a dozen TOTAL.

Despite the wacky aquarium and lack of butterflies, we had a really nice time with our friends and family! It'd been way too long since we'd taken a trip anywhere.

Em seemed to enjoy herself, too!
With my sweet girl in Pismo Beach

"No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one." - Elbert Hubbard

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Project 365 - cram session

Didn't realize I was so behind! Eek!

Day 39 -Dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's.
Day 39

Day 40 - This pic is blurry, but we love the quietly proud look on her face. "Welcome to my kitchen."
Day 40

Day 41 -Didn't you know that Em is from the future?
Day 41

Day 42 - We watch Em while she sleeps a lot. Brent couldn't resist snapping a pic of her during one of her morning naps. I love that her monkey lovey is striking a similar pose.
Day 42

Day 43 - Em started music classes again. Here she is before class, rockin' the piano.
Day 43

Day 44 - One of Em's favorite parts of music class is the bubbles at the end. So I surprised her with a bubble machine of her very own! Here she is, enjoying bubbles and sporting a pre-Valentine's Day outfit.
Day 44

Day 45 - For Em's Valentine's Day outfit, she sported her birthday tutu, a fun onesie from a relative, and some baby leg warmers.
Day 45

Day 46 - Our sweet girl. Nothing more to say.
Day 46

Day 47 - That brings us to tonight, when I realized after we'd put Em down that I hadn't snapped a pic. Some kids have the Tooth Fairy. Em has the Photo Fairy.
Day 47

"Colors are the smiles of nature." - Leigh Hunt

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A whole new chapter

We've been through 16 months of her dumping stuff out, emptying every container within reach of her tiny toddler hands, and scattering bits and pieces just to hear the the sound they make as they hit the floor.

But she's turned a corner, and this has begun.

It's only a matter of time before I'm fishing my car keys out of the toilet.

"If an idea's worth having once, it's worth having twice."
- Tom Stoppard

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sweet Spago

Last Thursday my in-laws offered to send Brent and I to enjoy a DineLA lunch at Wolfgang Puck's Spago while they watched Em. They had dined there earlier in the week and loved it, and the foodie community's consensus was that Spago offered one of the best bangs for your DineLA dollar.

I apologize in advance for the quality of the following photos. I didn't feel like bringing our big DSLR, so I used our point-and-shoot. I tried to be quick with my pics as we were already laughing at amused by the many nearby patrons who were snapping pics of their food with their giant cameras. (I know, I know - the first rule of food blogging is to be committed to the photography. I obviously wasn't in the mood.)

On with the food!

Brent started with the Serrano ham and garratxa cheese. Delicious!
Serrano ham & garrotxa cheese

My starter was the braised oxtail tortelloni with wild mushrooms. Out of this world!
Braised Oxtail Tortelloni

Brent's entree was the grilled "tandoori" loch duart salmon with marinated cucumbers, cilantro-mint Raita and tomato-tamarind chutney. Quite yummy...
Grilled ‘Tandoori’ Loch Duart Salmon

But not as delicious as my roasted rack of kurobuta pork with alsacien-style cabbage and apple-rosemary compote! It was a HUGE portion, so I was only able to eat half, but Brent was happy to finish it off. The pork was not dry at all, and the cabbage and compote were to die for!
Roasted Rack of Kurobuta Pork

For dessert, we both settled on the aptly-named "Lemon, Lemon, Lemon" - cake, creamy sabayon, glace. I could've eaten two more bowls of that, if given the chance.
Lemon, Lemon, Lemon

During our meal, ol' Wolfgang himself came around and chatted with everyone. Brent, who's been there a few times over the years, asked Wolfgang how it was possible that every time Brent is there, Wolfgang is there, too! Seriously, the guy owns 18 fine-dining restaurants alone (not even counting his casual establishments)! He laughed and said, "I just really like it here!"

Oh, I almost forgot - Brent spotted Larry King across the restaurant, wearing a red leather Members-Only jacket. Hilarious.

The service was great. The food was unbelievable, and for only $28 per person, it can't be beat. We hope Spago participates in the next DineLA event - we're soooo there!

On the way back to his parents', Brent offered to make a quick drive-by of one of the houses in ABC's Modern Family. It's one of our favorite new shows, which happens to film quite a bit in his parents' neighborhood. The night before our lunch, Brent realized that one of the family's homes on the show is next door to a childhood friend's home.

Brent pulled up, and I quickly snapped a pic from the passenger seat. That was followed by my hurried, "Go, go, go!!!" to Brent. As much as I adore that show, I think I would've been mortified to be caught being all stalkerazzi.

For those of you who watch the show, check out Phil and Claire's house!

Modern Family - Phil & Claire's house

w"You know how in a fairy tale there's always a potion that makes the princess fall asleep and then the guys start kissing her? Well, this is like that except you don't wake up in a castle — you wake up in a frat house with a bad reputation." - Phil, Modern Family

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Days 33-38

Day 33 - At the park with Daddy. They go there a lot when I'm working. Brent says this pic is very "preschool 007."
Day 33

Day 34 - By the time I got around to taking Em's daily picture, she was Grumpy Gus. I took a couple videos in the hopes of cheering her up, but that just made her more grumpy as I wouldn't let her have my camera. When I film something using my point-and-shoot, it automatically makes a collage from the video, as seen below.

Day 34

I'd post the video, but it makes Brent and I cringe, so we imagine it'd be even less fun for my readers. Trust me on this one.

Day 35 - 11:58 p.m. Em is fast asleep. I'm running around our condo, thinking, "Gah! I'm too late!" Then I figure out a Project 365 cheat - and take a picture of a picture of Em. So very meta, right?

My pal, justjenn, just launched new personalized stationery. She used one of Em's pics for her prototype. She dropped a set off to us (along with these most amazing MOCHI DONUTS). I'm so excited to put these paper goods -- a notepad and notecards -- to good use!
Day 35

Day 36 - Post-nap Em, complete with sleep lines on her face. I love rosy cheeks.
Day 36

Day 37 - Em loves all paper goods. She adores books, magazines, catalogs, envelopes, Netflix sleeves -- everything. Here she is with a copy of Brent's latest "Dwell Magazine." Oh, yes - those are pigtails you spy.
Day 37
If you're my friend on Flickr, then you must check out the runner-up pic for that day here.

Day 38 - That brings us to today. Sweet girl, chilling by a fountain with Daddy.
Day 38

"A book hasn't caused me this much trouble since Where's Waldo went to that barber pole factory." - Tracy Jordan, 30 Rock

Monday, February 01, 2010

Project 365 - the unpretty version

While our baby girl is always adorable, sometimes she's not so pretty, as you'll see.

I recently scored a new charger on ebay for my point-and-shoot camera, which I've been getting reacquainted with this week.

Here's Em in her play kitchen. It's in the baby jail in an attempt to contain her 100 pieces of play food.
Day 28

Here she is on Day 29. Cute, yes, but more skeptical than smiley.
Day 29

Day 30. Dark garage + camera flash = surprised Em.
Day 30

Yesterday Brent took Em for her first trip to the zoo with some friends of ours while I brunched with some of my pals. It was a quick trip, so he only snapped a couple of pics. Here she is with the flamingos.
Day 31

Brent had an interview today. Em wished him luck on his way out the door. "I hope they pick a winner, Daddy!"

Day 32

"Please all, and you will please none." - Aesop