Sunday, November 30, 2008

Georgia Trip Day 5: The Georgia Pig

Day five of the Georgia trip and we were sad to see it come to an end.  I had a fantastic time meeting Will's family, eating delicious foods, and seeing a new place.

We packed up the house and prepared to leave.  The rocking chairs had to come in from the porch, and John and Ellen packed a bag of the key limes from the Will and Anna tree, which I carefully stored in my carry-on luggage.

On the way from Sea Island to the Jacksonville airport, we stopped by at the Georgia Pig, a small brown shack with pictures of Elvis Presley hanging on the walls amidst more pig paraphernalia than I could ever imagine.  It was the best BBQ I have ever eaten: a tangy pork pressed sandwich with extra BBQ sauce in squirt bottles on the table, coleslaw, baked beans, and sweet tea.  We paused to take a picture outside:

Click through and you can see the "GA Pig" sign above the rocking chairs.

We had a fantastic trip and cannot wait to return.  Love, Will and Lauren

Georgia Trip Day 4: Sea Island

A lazy Saturday in Sea Island.  The weatherman predicted rain, so we'd already squeezed in all of our outdoor activities on Friday.  That left Saturday as the perfect day for catching up on sleep.  Still woke up around 9am.  Dad had prepared "Grits Lauren," which is made with chicken stock, a little garlic, and some sauteed leeks.  Grandbetty and other grits traditionalists (like me) don't know what to make of it, but Lauren can't get enough.  More of a fancy polenta than grits at that point.  Tasty enough in my opinion, but I think Lauren would eat it every morning if she could.

After breakfast, Lauren and I again jogged down to the beach, where we ran into Lee, Betsy, and Elizabeth.  They told us that the walk along the beach to the jetty was very nice.  It didn't look too far, so off we went.

Well, objects on the beach can be much farther than they appear.  By the time we got to the jetty, we were worried about making it home in time to say goodbye to Grandbetty and the other Robinsons leaving on Saturday.  So, we ran the half-mile or so along the beach in addition to the expected run home.  Running on the beach is hard work!

We arrived home to find that we still had hours before the crew was heading back to Atlanta.  So we showered up.  Emerging from the shower, I found out that after a hard run, what Lauren wanted more than ANYTHING was ... well, it was more grits.  So we had some more grits, leftover tomato soup, some of Grandbetty's Seven-Vegetable Salad, and biscuits.

After lunch, Lauren and I visited with Grandbetty and my parents on the back porch, and snapped a few photos in the back yard:

Then, it was time to say goodbye to Grandbetty and the Lee Robinson family as they drove back to Atlanta.

After seeing them off, we headed up to the Beach Club to relax, read our books, and (in Lauren's case) down another Coke float:

We quickly ran home to change for dinner.  Here's Lauren and I on the joggling board:

We then made our way to the Lodge on St. Simon's island to listen to the bagpiper at dusk and sip cocktails.

Then we drove a short distance to the Georgia Sea Grill.  Really good bread to start, then tasty fish all around the table (so they tell me), and a chicken piccata for me.

Last stop was in front of the TV at home, where we watched the movie version of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, mainly for the thrill of seeing a movie filmed largely in the house we'd just visited.

Grandbetty's Seven-Vegetable Salad recipe

A big hit with Lauren, and pretty easy to make from the sound of things:

Drain and mix:

  • 1 can LeSeurs baby English peas.
  • 2 cans cut green beans (after cutting them a bit more).
  • 1 oz. white niblit corn (canned).
  • 1 small jar pimento.
  • 3 or 4 good pieces of celery (chopped)
  • 2 packages of scallions (chopped, without the white part).
  • 1 yellow pepper (chopped).
Create marinade of:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
Warm the marinade just until sugar dissolves (don't boil).  Mix marinade with veggies.  Leave in fridge at least overnight.  Drain, then serve.  Keeps for about a week.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Georgia Trip Day 3: Sea Island

Good morning! The day started with a breakfast of biscuits, bacon, grapefruit, and oranges and the Wall Street Journal. Then off to shooting with Will, a real treat at Sea Island.

Here's Will waiting to shoot and looking very manly and handsome with that shotgun broken across his knees:

The guys at the Sea Island shooting school were very kind; Will had taken shooting lessons from Frank, a shooting school instructor who ran the place for 60 years, and one of the guys manning the front told Will that Frank and his father had been hunting buddies. It was quite manly. Our instructor, Jimmy, gave careful instructions about leaning into the gun, pointing smoothly and steadily, and keeping my right cheek tight against the top of the gun so that it would follow my line of sight.

Here's me in my tennis skirt, looking much less manly than Will, more like a ballet dancer with a big gun:

The clays flew over the golden marshes and I almost felt like a real hunter going to face the wild. Jimmy was such an expert coach that he was able to figure out that my gun moved erratically when the clays went to my left side; from this, he deduced that my right eye was stronger, and advised me to close my weaker left eye. This was so helpful that my consistency improved immediately. When I complimented Will on his excellent shooting, Will said that it was from playing video games -- and Jimmy said that, although people laugh, it's true. Video games will improve your shooting.

Then off to the tennis courts. I had never seen clay courts before, so this was new and fun -- kind of like playing on coarse, tightly packed dark green sand.  I am a terrible tennis player but love chasing after the ball so much (I swear I was a cocker spaniel in a former life) and Will is nice enough to be very patient with me.  AND I got to wear the preppiest, most pink-and-sea-green outfit in my life, and it was not a bit out of place -- people REALLY dress like this here!  I was overjoyed:

Then we showered and joined Ellen and John at the Beach Club for lunch.
The Beach Club is beautiful -- it looks something like the beach lobby at a major hotel such as the Four Seasons on Lana'i might look -- lots of beautiful open space and huge sprawling pools.  John had found some boiled peanuts and I was thrilled to eat them.  Lunch was at Big George's, named after a long-time employee of Sea Island, whom we got to meet on the way over.  George had huge black-and-white pictures all over the walls of the restaurant, some nearly lifesized, in different areas of the resort -- handing ice cream to kids, or standing in a suit under the palms, or lording over the salad bar.  It was really something.  I had a swordfish sandwich with fried green tomatoes.
Then a restful afternoon at the Beach Club.  We spent some time reading outside of the Beach Club Coffee Shop, then took a few minutes to walk down to the shoreline and look at the water.  Apparently baby Will and Anna spent many hours body surfing in this water, and Will and I spent some time reminiscing.  After a stop at the ice cream shop at my request (a rootbeer float -- a classic and still the best), we returned to the Robinson's house at Sea Island.

For dinner we went to Halyards, a nice place with delicious wine and the best steak that Will has eaten since Bern's in Florida:

All in all, a great day with lots accomplished!  Tomorrow perhaps drinks and bagpipes!

Georgia Trip Day 2: Thanksgiving Day

We had a lovely Thanksgiving Day in Sea Island.  Lauren and I began the day with an easy run to the beach - one mile each way, with a lot of beach-wandering in the middle.  Lauren's puppy-summoning superpower was evident once again, as the beach was completely empty except for a lone old man and his adorable puppy.
Lauren also marveled at some large horseshoe crabs washed up on the beach, claiming she'd never seen anything like them:
After the run, we got cleaned up and had a simple breakfast.  Dad read aloud from the Mayflower's post-Thanksgiving journal (reprinted in the Wall Street Journal each year).  Then, lots of quiet reading and working time at home until lunchtime, when the smells of Aunt Betsy's tomato soup called us to the kitchen.

After lunch, Lauren and I grabbed a car and visited historic Fort Frederica, where Anna and I had spent many childhood afternoons wondering how the adults could spend so much time looking at old stuff.

Lots of personal touches and exposed, original home foundations made me feel surprisingly connected to people who had lived out their lives here so long ago.

On the way home from Frederica, Lauren "politely asked" if we might be able to find some coffee.  iPhone to the rescue.  We managed to find the one coffeeshop on St. Simon's Island still open at 4:30pm on Thanksgiving: Palm Coast Coffee.  And what a coffeeshop it turned out to be!  Owner had stories from prep school in Menlo Park, CA.  Coffee was amazing.  Jazz music set just the right tone.  The couches were cozy; the ocean, near.  We curled up with our books and sipped away until it was time to go home and prep for dinner.

Dinner was at the newly revamped Cloister, which switched to a buffet this year.  The buffet was expansive and delicious.  I think Lauren may have had sweet potatoes and sweet (SWEET!) tea at every single meal since arriving in Georgia.  (They're trying to make up for a lifetime deprived of those delicacies, I think).  Thanksgiving favorites of turkey+stuffing were right at home next to local treats like Brunswick stew and pralines for dessert.  Brunswick stew might have been the best I've had.

We took a short walk through the Cloister after dinner, spending a few minutes gawking at the meeting table used at the 2004 G8 summit held in Sea Island.  The Cloister has kept one room exactly as I remember from childhood, but everything else is new.  Doesn't seem much better or worse to me, just different.

Lauren, Mom, Dad, Grandbetty and I passed on the post-dinner bingo game, and headed home for some conversation and an early bedtime.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Georgia Trip Day 1: Savannah

Travel to Georgia! Yesterday Will and I spent a long time on the plane -- several hours to Cincinnati and them one to Jacksonville, Florida -- and I got to see the acrobatics of poor 6' 7" Will fold into an airplane seat for several hours.  We look pretty happy here:

But don't be fooled; Will at this point is pretty tired.  I on the other hand slept just fine for nearly the whole ride.
We rode to Sea Island in the dark, and I was struck by the golden wheat-colored marsh grass and the Spanish moss hanging from all the trees.

In the morning we travelled to Savannah, Georgia, which was very exciting because I had just finished Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, a journalist from New York who lived in Savannah and wrote character sketches of the people living there in order to give a sense of the place.
Our first stop was Mrs. Wilkes' House, a former boarding house that served such delicious food around the family-style table that visitors began just showing up for the meals.  We all sat at a huge table of about ten, with two other families, and passed around perhaps twenty dishes filled with Southern food, such as beige-colored black-eyed peas, lima beans, sweet potato mash with a little bit of spicyness, sweet sweet tea, corn biscuits, hot greens with vinegar and peppers, rice with gravy, barbeque, carrot salad, potato salad, stuffing, and of course the famous fried chicken (Mrs. Wilkes' motto: "If the colonel made chicken this good, he'd be a general.")

We had a fantastic time and left the restaurant stuffed.

Then for a walk around the town to Mercer House, which was in a book I just finished.  The author John Berendt was a journalist from New York who lived in Savannah, Georgia and wrote character sketches of the people living there in order to give a sense of the place.  The main plot of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil revolves around Mercer House, whose owner, Jim Williams, was an antique restorer who was wealthy, fashionable, and probably gay.  Williams shot and killed his young male lover in the study of Mercer House, was acquitted after trials spanning several years, and then a year later also died of a sudden heart attack in the same room.

We took a tour of the house, looking at all of Williams' beautiful antiques and glamorous party pictures, and even got to see the infamous study.  This is Will and I in front of Mercer House.

 We closed the day with a visit to a cute shop called the Paris Market that Ellen found online.  In the back of the shop next to a sunny window was a cafe, where Will and I enjoyed some (needed) caffinated drinks and I ate a gigantic lemon marshmallow.

Then back to Sea Island.  We arrived just in time to meet Will's grandmother, as well as Aunt Betsy, Uncle Lee, and cousins Elizabeth, John, and Caroline.  Ellen had a beautiful table prepared, with foliage from around the house and nearby landscapes, and we enjoyed another delicious meal of vegetables, pork, and rolls.  It was an amazing day.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mustard+grape chicken, couscous, sweet potatoes, green salad

Last night's meal.  I'm convinced that I can cook anything.  Well, anything that's in a Rachel Ray cookbook.

Note that Lauren made me retake this picture, since the first one was missing the all-important thumbs-up.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pesto pasta and carrots

On Monday, we made pesto with fresh basil from Lauren's herb garden, combined that with some sundried tomatoes, leftover chicken, and corkscrew pasta. Add Lauren's grandmother's ginger carrot recipe, and you're done.

Lauren gives two enthusiastic thumbs up, but she's not a terribly harsh critic when it comes to our cooking...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Traipsing through Saturday

After a wildfire nixed our plan to drive down to Santa Barbara for the weekend, Lauren and I shared brunch with Sam at Joanie's and then walked around in Palo Alto's Gamble Gardens for a while.
Later in the afternoon, we finally made it to Barefoot Coffee Roasters in San Jose, which I'd been meaning to visit for quite a while. Hippie drum circle outside the shop was a good sign. (Just never go with a hippie to a second location). And the coffee was as tasty as it was beautiful. Here's Lauren with her "Cubano":
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Jazz Festival pics

Some pictures from the San Francisco Jazz Festival, where Lauren, Gina, and I saw Jake Shimobukuro (see Lauren's earlier post). First, Lauren and Gina, then Lauren and me:

Boy, what that iPhone camera lacks in quality, it makes up for in ubiquity...

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Cooking updates from Lauren, Will, and Rachel Ray

A few quick iphone snaps of dinners we've cooked recently. First, meatloaf with double the recommended green pepper serving (oops), along with some chard+vinegar and corkscrew pasta:
Then, some pumpkin and sausage pasta, just in time for Halloween, along with a fresh green salad and some chocolate milk:
Last but not least, some balsamic vinegar-marinated chicken, asparagus soup, and mushroom+truffle ravioli, from just two days ago. Do note the thumbs-up:
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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Primary Color Cozy Hat

This one was knitted from one ball of interesting confetti red yarn, with a crochetted yellow flower.  I don't remember how to crochet, but am sure when the time comes I'll re-learn pretty fast.

Purple Baby Flower Hat

Here's the first baby hat I knitted, purple with white flowers, and the matching scarf.  It was too small for the little girl it was meant for, so I'm waiting for another little girl baby to enter my life  :)

My Herb Garden!

The rosemary and roses are in bloom.  I never knew that rosemary blossoms would be light purple and so delicate.

This is the golden sage and parsley with the rosemary in the background.  The sage is a beautiful color.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Picture of Will Robinson

Here's a picture of Will that I think should be his profile picture for all remaining blogs / online profiles:

It was taken at Pluto's in Palo Alto.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jake Shimabukuro!!!!!

My high school dreams came true when Gina, Will and I went to a Jake Shimabukuro concert this weekend.  Yes, he was amazing -- he's a real, live virtuoso with some interesting things to say about jazz, on the ukulele.  Here's a YouTube video of his song "Dragon," which we heard at the concert, inspired by Bruce Lee, his childhood hero:

The irony here is that Jake kept saying, "This was my favorite movie when I was a kid" or "I loved to go driving when I was a kid" and meanwhile the older, San Francisco Jazz season ticketholder audience can hardly contain their giggles, beause 32-year-old Jake looks all of 16 years old.

I distinctly remember him being hotter when he was part of "Pure Heart:"

Note the screaming girls in the background (I was probably among them), who were not present at the SF Jazz concert, especially considering that Will, Gina, and I were probably among the youngest ones there. I guess a Hawaiian shirt and glasses can do a lot towards making a goofy, dorky genius uke player look a lot better ...

It was a good trip down memory lane.  Will threatened to throw his bra at Jake.  Shimabukuro did some interesting things musically, including taking influences of sounds he hears and incorporating them into his music.  For instance, he did one short, fast piece from Bach's inventions; he did an original composition based upon common piano chords; he did "Sakura Sakura" based upon the koto music he heard in Japan (it sounded real, as far as I could tell).

He did one song about driving along with his dad, then running out of gas ("that's the second part of the song, where it goes all minor"), and then getting more gas and driving again.  It was Gina and my favorite piece.

He's a J-Pop star in Japan now and kind of looks like it -- a skinny kid in designer jeans with a "Hawaii Week" t-shirt and J-pop-ie fluffed hair.  But I of course will always remember him as part of Pure Heart:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Guest Artist: Donna's Rose Centerpieces

Check out the centerpieces that my mom made for the Women's Legal Association dinner:

The theme was something like "Enchanted Evening," and people showed up in tiaras.  Needless to say, my mom is not a tiara type of person, but she did a great job on the centerpieces -- nice work, Ma  :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Phone Banking for Barack Obama

Hurray!  Barack Obama won tonight by a landslide.  Even Florida, Colorado, Ohio, and Virginia went blue.  And in no small part to Will and Lauren!  Yes, your two favorite adventurers spent this afternoon phoning strangers in Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Colorado, asking if they had voted:

This is Lauren with her Obama T-shirt, name tag, button, and "I Voted" sticker.  I phoned about thirty people, mostly leaving phone messages, just reminding them to vote.  They were very nice, especially the younger ones, and I was so glad to know how to say "Des Moines" correctly.  Most had already voted.  I only had one guy say, "Yeah, I voted, but I didn't vote for Obama," to which I answered, "Well the most important thing is that you voted -- great job."  

I had a great time being with other Mountain View community members who cared about a cause I believed in.  I also felt great being part of a national movement, and when I saw that Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Iowa had gone blue (these were the states I had personally called to), I felt personally gratified.  Even though my participation was tiny and late in the process, it was a start, and perhaps in the future I can do more.

It was great to see Obama win this election.  San Francisco's been excited for a long time, and quite a few of my friends have worked long hours on this campaign.

That said, Prop 8 in California passed, which is eliminating the right of same sex couples to marry.  It's sad -- No on Prop 8 was up in the polls, but as the election approached, it fell behind.  I can't wait for another chance to vote on it.

Go Obama!  Yes we can!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Madonna Concert

This weekend Mom and I went to Madonna's "Sticky and Sweet" concert at the Oakland Coliseum:

She was awesome.  Really.  Madonna has been a megastar since before I was born, and yet she danced the entire show -- very athletic -- and was so sexy!  It was inspiring to see a woman who is older and yet so sexy and athletic.  Makes me look forward to being older, about which I am already exited, even more!

I enjoyed the dancing, of course, but my favorite part was the theatricality of the show.  Each song came with a different visual depiction that was unique and meaningful.  For example, during one part of the show Madonna sang a song with the refrain, "She's not me."  Meanwhile behind her flashed iconic images of herself throughout her career -- "Like a Virgin" bride outfit, the eighties power suit, the Vogue fushia dress.  Then her female dancers appeared wearing the same outfits, moving like marionettes, and Madonna kissed each dancer before tearing apart their outfits.  I believe this piece was a metaphor for how people constantly view Madonna through the iconic images of her former reincarnations, but Madonna wants to be seen as herself.

In my favorite piece of the show, two dancers with long dreads, dressed in ceremonial thick embossed silk kimono pieces, popping and locking.  It was awesome to see how well the fabric moved around those dancers.  Then a circular screen with images of water crashing around it lowered from the ceiling, and a piano with Madonna singing on top of it rose from a circular protruding stage.  The lit water images were opaque, but the darker unlit portions were translucent, creating the effect of water crashing around Madonna in the center.  It was a classic piece of theater lighting using screens, projections, opaque front lighting and translucent backlighting -- with a ton of money.  Well done.

The Madonna concert was classic.  She made some pretty bold political statements endorsing same sex marriage (there were a LOT of gay boys at the concert) and Barack Obama, even going so far as to showing his face as the last in a succession of images of famous leaders, such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, and Gandhi.  "Vote Obama 2008" t-shirts were selling right next to Madonna t-shirts, with Obama's face in rainbow colors across the front above the words "Express Yourself."  It's a great time to be alive and involved.

Of course Ma, Gina, and Joyanne were the best part of my evening.