Wednesday, February 23, 2011

If You're Going to San Francisco...*singing*

Yeah I actually recorded my own version of that song at one point (which is not so great - perhaps I'll re-record it one day) :)

What an amazing city! I especially loved Hayes Valley! It reminded me so much of Nice, France, with the lush greenery, pastel-painted buildings, palm trees and beautiful ocean scenes from many piers off the coastline.

Home of the famous "Painted Ladies", where the outside opening scene of Full House is filmed. The outside of one of these famous homes was actually supposed to be the Full House's house - however, the show was actually filmed on the inside of this home (pictured left), interestingly enough!

We also had a chance to drive up to Napa Valley, where all the famous vineyards reside. What a beautiful landscape and homes. It was like I was in the deep south mixed in with a Tuscan flair.

We had a chance to stop at 4 vineyards for wine tastings, before we were really feeling the alcoholic effects :)

All of them were quite lovely (Hall, Heitz,Castello di Amorosa, Rubicon Estate).

I really wanted to stop at the Nickel & Nickel, as the outside reminded me of a Louisiana-styled home - unfortunately it was too booked up to accept drop-ins that day. (pictured - top right)

My favourite winery would have to have been the one owned by the famous Francis Ford Coppola; Rubicon Estate, formerly known as Niebaum - Coppola Estate.

They must have insane amounts of money to make movies and wine. Sofia even has her own blanc de blancs, rose, and Riesling that I really want to try. The world famous and most expensive "Rubicon" was the smoothest, most lovely of wines I have ever tried.

This wine is what put them on the map between 1882-1885 by the original Ingelnook founder Captain Gustave Niebaum. My brother and his fiance have a couple of fine bottles - and are waiting to crack them open on their wedding day. I also can't wait for that ;)

My brother also bought a few other great tasting wines and my other favourite from the same estate, named after the Captain himself - which was also so damn smooth! We had it over a Ruth Chris's steak which was a match made in food heaven! If you go to San Fran, you have to check out Napa Valley, as the drive in itself was so beautiful!

At the Hall vineyard, we had to take a picture with their steel men hanging around outside, as it reminded us so much of the Norwegian men that I wrote about long ago (the Broken Column art project of 21 rust men).

I think someone was a little Nordic inspired ;)

They also had some lovely wines - and their cream of the crop is their red-labelled Kathryn Hall.

Heitz Cellar was offering free wine tasting because it was their 50 year anniversary. Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 was also uber delicious and the smell was sooo lovely.

So lovely my brother also had to take some home as it was the original bottle that turned him into the wine connoisseur he is today. Taking after our mother of course :)

We also went to this Italian castle winery called "Castello di Amorosa", that was actually started construction on in 1993 and finished only 3 years ago. It was pretty cool to build something old - but being through actual old historic castles - it was ok :)

The wine tasting was really good here though!

How could I forget the breakfast that was so good - I asked to go again the next day and for the exact same meal! STACKS!

Best San Francisco breakfast place - hands down - even though I can't even compare anywhere else. Next time I will :)

They had the best applewood smoked bacon and avocado omelets to die for! (My brother testing out the cam on my iphone 4 with it's ultra white flash over an interesting convo)

On Sunday, after our second Stacks date, I got to taste the best macarons in the world! And best of all; they are gluten-free!

Yes, Paulette macarons would be my new hangout (doughnut shop styles) if it came to me wanting to chill for a week there, which I can see now as easily done. So soft and so fresh - just melt in your mouth goodness.

Now I am just teasing myself, because I could really go for 1 or 2 right now - as they are just the perfect size!

After that we headed to Union Square where we checked out some shops and just enjoyed the only proper sunny day we had there. They had some lovely Opera singers out on the streets singing - that was a nice walking accompaniment.

Later on we headed out to the famous Pier 39 where we got to see the sea lions and checked out Alcatraz from afar (we need to check it out for real next time) and a super nice Aquarium called Aquarium of the Bay, where I got to touch a different type of sting-ray!

I touched one in England named Pancake but this certain breed looked more like a manta-ray, but smaller. They always look like they are smiling underneath!

I also touched a couple different types of live starfish - because a little boy was daring me (thank you for the push, kid) and live coral. I always get such a rush when I can do things like that.

I have a huge respect for underwater creatures and I am OK with the space we have between them and us. They are so beautiful and relaxing to look at!

It was also super awesome going underneath them, while we went through a moving, aquatic tunnel. You really felt like you were in there - and sometimes that was a little frightening. I'll include a video!

Oh! I also forgot that we walked over to Fisherman's Wharf! We walked by these really cute and world famous sourdough animal-shaped bread loaves at the Boudin Bakery. I wish I wasn't gluten intolerant so I could try this sourdough goodness!

That night (and after an hour and a half spent waiting for a table) - we got to try the world famous (and might I add ridiculously busy) Cheesecake Factory. I was impressed with my meal - but unimpressed with the manager and the lack of knowledge anyone had about food allergies. It's one thing to ask a waiter and they don't know - which is totally fine - but when the manager doesn't know ... well, that is just bad news.

Unfortunately, I didn't want to risk trying any of the cheesecakes - and the cheese in itself would have done a number on my tummy anyways. But still - I wish they knew. They do make a mean strawberry daiquiri though!

San Francisco is a little French with a hint of Southern charm - basically everything I love! And it's interesting to know that the city itself is so small! Just a little bigger than London, Ontario, which is crazy! 800,000 people live there. However, if you include the area around, there's more than 7 million people - and I was informed that the population of the city itself basically doubles during the workdays - as people commute in from the area around.

My brother and his fiancee have such an awesome apartment with huge windows - looking out at the wonderfully lit city hall. I can't wait to visit them again!

If you're looking for a really wicked city loaded with lovely architectural history - definitely check out San Francisco - you'll love it!

Friday, February 18, 2011

David Guetta feat Rihanna - Who's That Chick? (Day Version)

Who's That Chick (day version) makes me smile and dance around the house. This video is like the Aqua cheesiness that I am ever so lacking in my musical life right now.

I really love and want to own Rihanna's outfit as it is quite Japanese cosplay-esque (I also want her night version outfit).

When I play this track its like I have this over-whelming urge to cover my Laptop with Lisa Frank stickers ... You remember those? I actually never had the opportunity to own any as a young child - I guess now is my chance ;)

The video doesn't make any sense - but that is the beauty of it. LOVE the song!

I will also add the night version here at the bottom; which I also like, but ... it doesn't scream Lisa Frank stickers, cosplay outfits and sweet Danish pop music...

Which version do you like best?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Avett Brothers: I and Love and You = Wow...

I love music that reminds me of the deep south and old country folk music like Dolly Parton and Emmy Lou Harris. After hearing these guys at the Grammys play their song "Head full of Doubt/Road full of Promise" the other evening - I couldn't help but be mesmerized by them!

I jumped on iTunes and supported their talented asses right away, because I could feel their sincerity in their lyrics and voices accompanied by beautiful music.

Their album "I and Love and You" is an album I can see myself listening to for a very long time. It's one of those albums that people of all ages can relate to. So, dad, you better get one this one!

Definitely suggest this album!

Check out the beautiful song "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise" below.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's been quite busy here over the last few days, so I apologize for my lack of posts. Bad me! *slaps wrist*

Anyways, when I woke up and got a bottle ready for Edie - she came over to give me a little satin purple satchel, in which I could tell there was something from Disney Couture again! (I sort of picked it out long ago).

I thought it was fitting because it was a cream-coloured heart with an arrow through it, with a gold Tinkerbell on top. I see it as the first Valentine's with Edie and it's a little enchanting and magical.

I have two Valentine's sweeties now! It's something I'll give back to her when she is old enough to wear it. I am so cheesy, I know :)

But, all in all it was a good day.

Credit to JQ Cao blog as I didn't take any pictures!
We celebrated Valentine's Day proper on Friday evening at Auberge du Petit Prince, where they have a seperate gluten-free menu for me! I felt like a princess eating there and shall I mention that the creme brulee is to die for! (even though my lactose-intolerant tummy would tell me otherwise).

The service is wonderful and the building itself is very cozy. Everyone was professional to my needs and the food was delish, of course! Definately suggest a night for dinner there for anyone!

Did you have a good Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TomTom - GO 730!

So - since I get lost walking from the kitchen to the living room, I've been craving a GPS for my car for quite some time. This Christmas, I got a TomTom Go 730. I didn't want a Garmin - no offense to all Garmin users (which is everyone - so let me bring you to the TomTom side!).

Seriously - the TomTom will not say "Recalculating" in a bitchy, nasal voice once! :)

I really was interested in the TomTom for its Bluetooth handsfree calling (if I'm not in my own car). Also - the traffic update service giving me up-to-date accident or slow traffic information, and offering me alternate routes. It also recalculates travel time based on the traffic information - it's so smart! I still always seem to get there 15 minutes late - I just can't turn left, Zoolander-style, I swear! Just (almost) kidding.

The Tomtom has this utterly cool thing called "TomTom IQ Routes" where they "evaluate routes based on actual traffic speeds, rather than posted speed limits, and will recommend the fastest route for the time of the day". Basically, it uses information from all other TomTom users and considers rush traffic, traffic lights, day of the week, pedestrian traffic and then some! Even left turns, I'm sure! ;)

And let's be honest. I really wanted a TomTom to download some awesome new voices! Since I drive the Mini Cooper - I secretly wish  Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks would keep me company on my drives. Kyle MacLachlan, I'm talking to YOU! :)

I haven't even touched on most of the awesome services that my Tomtom GPS offers, but what I have witnessed so far leaves me mighty impressed!

Seriously though - I am so happy with the TomTom Go 730. I am confident that the Englishman (whose voice I loaded on there) will take me to my destinations confidently without being of any annoyance.  It also helps that they know ALL the street names. Even ours, that was just finished before the winter hit!

If you haven't got a GPS and have been undecided and wondering what to choose ...without question - Go with one of these ;)

Love, love, love!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Agnes Obel - Philharmonics = Most Beautiful Album of 2011

The Scandinavians tear at my heartstrings every which way when it comes to the personal and musical! For some reason I have been fascinated with the Nordic music scene for many years now, and Agnes Obel is no exception!

I am digging this Danish singer's new album "Philharmonics", as she sings and plays the piano so beautifully. She reminds me of a female version of Woven Hand with that little southern vibe to the music. I love it!

Obel kind of reminds me of the Norwegian artist Susanne Sundfør (freaky- I wrote about her in February of last year) as these albums make my soul sing with so many emotions. :)

Check out Anges Obel's new album Philharmonics. I bought it on iTunes. Seriously, you'll love her!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Edie is 5 Months Old!

Check out what is happening at Hunnie Bunnie Babies!