In 2015 I decided I wanted to celebrate my October birthday in New Orleans. The other reason I chose to travel to that city was because I had been wanting to experience Halloween and visit a friend that had moved there. We made plans and set the dates at the beginning of the year. Another friend that lives in Dallas said she would come visit at the same time and we could hang out. This would be both of our first time in New Orleans and I was very excited.
We had so much fun exploring the area seeing all the landmark sites, as well as ate and drank throughout the town. One of the first places our friend took us to was a place called Oceana Restaurant in the Famous French Quarter district. Walking into the restaurant, looked like some fun décor. That is also when I realized the places there had courtyards. I had thought it was just patios on the side of places like they mostly have where I live. It was really pleasant to sit in the courtyard and relax. We order several sampler dishes and drinks. One of which was some alligator. Couldn’t come all that way and not try alligator.
I didn’t think to get a close up photo of the alligator. It’s the breaded dish that looks a little like nuggets. And it did taste like chicken nuggets, definitely not chicken, but similar. I’d eat them again.
We also enjoyed oysters, gumbo, crab cakes, and pasta. Very yummy and filling lunch.
Every year I head out to a convention for my Active 20-30 International organization (philanthropy & service club). July 2017, I went a few days early and there were some pre-convention options. One was a chance to ride dune buggies. I was so excited to do that for the first time. We got on a bus and headed out to Florence, Oregon and ended up at Sandland Adventures. There we learned that we would be riding in giant dune buggies and get a tour of the sand dunes.
It was fun to be in a group and go along for a ride and look around. The driver would point out interesting spots and talk about the sand dunes and the water table.
It was also interesting to see a bunch of people sliding down a hill. Later learned that they were skiing on the sand. I’m used to skiing on snow but hadn’t thought it for a sand hill.
It would be fun to drive a dune buggy but for now I can say I’ve ridden in one and got to experience going over the sand.
Have you ridden in a dune buggy or driven one? California, Oregon, or another state/country?
Title: 1984 Author: George Orwell Publication Date: 1949 Country: USA Genre: Science Fiction Pages: 328
Synopsis: Winston Smith toes the Party line, rewriting history to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Truth. With each lie he writes, Winston grows to hate the Party that seeks power for its own sake and persecutes those who dare to commit thought crimes. But as he starts to think for himself, Winston can’t escape the fact that Big Brother is always watching…
A startling and haunting vision of the world, 1984 is so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the influence of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.
My Book Report: I am not sure if I want to do a book report/review for each one. I will definitely let you know on ones I absolutely hated.
I am pretty sure it was for my 30th birthday, when my dad treated me to a Napa winery experience. This was the first time I visited a winery. We went to the Robert Mondavi Winery, and it was amazing. And began my love of experiencing all the different venues and grounds, not to mention trying all kinds of grapes and blends. I learned how the soil, weather, the way it’s stored and processed, changes the way it can taste each year. Which means, return trips to taste the different vintages.
I’m lucky to live in a city surrounded by several AVA = American Viticultural Area, which is also known as a designated wine grape-growing region. (I noticed some blog posts and articles including AVA when talking about an area, so I figure I should look it up). Heck with just the city, let’s include the whole state with lots of winery visit opportunities.
I might as well make a checklist for the wineries and separate them out by regions. Of course some wineries I love to go visit whenever I’m in the area, but I am going to mainly post once to check it off. I will work to have page tabs up top to reference to lists.
For now let’s start with LODI, CALIFORNIA.Here is a list based off the wine map.
Location: Cantaritos el guero, Guadalajara, Mexico
Notes: located on their “Tequila Trail”. really cool stands to just hang out, enjoy a “pitcher” of this drink with friends, get some food, and often they have bands playing music. It was a fun afternoon. I don’t care much for grapefruit, but I LOVE this drink
Drank on: November 8, 2017, in observance of National Harvey Wallbanger
Location: The Grand Wine Bar, Sacramento, California
Notes: As I was looking up what to drink at this bar, I saw that it was National Harvey Wallbanger day. Well then, that’s the drink for me tonight. The bartender didn’t have orange juice, but went to the back and found some oranges and squeezed them out. That was really nice. The galliano basically makes this a sweet tasting screwdriver.
Wake Island Water Park, located nearby Sacramento, California,
is home to the largest floating AQUA PARK you have ever seen. The equipment is state-of-the-art and it is easy and fun for kids and adults. There is a great variety of different shapes, sizes and functions making the water park exciting and entertaining for everyone. Bring the whole family and wipe out on our enormous floating obstacle course.
I looked at photos and read reports but still didn’t really know what to expect going. We got there pretty early on a Saturday morning but the first group was already booked up. Headed over to the little beach area to watch as we waited for the next session.
When it was our turn, they give a little safety lesson, that basically went over the rules posted on the signs. Grabbed a life jacket and swam out to the floating obstacle course. With kids bouncing, diving, and crashing around added to the challenge of getting around. Decided it is like being on a crazy bouncing bounce house. Gave up walking as I couldn’t really keep my balance and tried sliding over some of the obstacles that are made just to cause you to fall into the water. The fun part was trying to get back up. I found a couple of spots where the corner helped. Other times, friends were nearby to help pull you up. You definitely couldn’t be self conscious of flopping onto the float.
There was one “hill” where you could pull yourself up by rope or use handholds to be able to jump or slide once you get to the top. I really wanted to do the slide part. I started up fine on the handholds, grabbing tight and placing my feet well. At the same time my friend cautioned me about slipping, I was near the top so made a grab. It was still a little to far up for me and so I missed and slid down. Crashed into her a little, She jumped out of the way. luckily i didn’t crash into anyone else, especially a kid. and fell into the water. I had hit my elbow and got my knee really good on one of the plastic holders. I wasn’t inclined to try again.
Got back on the float and realized it hurt to crawl, so I tried walking a little but found a place to sit for a bit. Bouncing takes a lot out of you! I did get around to a smaller slide. One our our friends started to swing his legs around, but slipped sideways off the side of the slide. it was pretty funny. Another started going down face first but we yelled at her that the rules were feet first. So she tried to sit up but started sliding instead and ended up going in a circle down the slide.
45 minutes seemed like it would be pretty short, but when the time came, it was perfect as I was done and ready to get out.
I would recommend doing a floating obstacle course for a bucket list item. It might be nice to just use a float and float on the water, but bouncing and trying to run and not fall in the water is nice too.
Title: Foundation Author: Isaac Asimov Publication Date: 1951 Country: USA Genre: Science Fiction Pages: 255
Synopsis: For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future–to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire–both scientists and scholars–and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for a future generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation.
But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. Mankind’s last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and be overrun–or fight them and be destroyed.
My Book Report: I am not sure if I want to do a book report/review for each one. I will definitely let you know on ones I absolutely hated. This one was a pretty easy read, short chapters of different situations through the years. If I think of more to add I will.
I had thought about getting a tattoo on and off through the years. I couldn’t decide on what it would be or where I would have it. I knew it had to be something I wouldn’t regret or get tired of after a few years. I would look at tattoos of things I liked, teddy bears, turtles, ladybugs, and Celtic knot designs. Plus, there was the whole being stabbed with a needle. I get light headed just seeing a needle for blood work. Of course that could be the blood part. So, I would look at tattoos but not really plan for getting one myself.
A couple of years ago, as I was looking online, I came across this Wild Bills Tattoo place located in Roseville, California. There was information on a day that they would host a tattoo-a-thon and 100% of the cost of the tattoo would go to the UC Davis Children’s Hospital. I thought to myself, “Well if I do get a tattoo that is when I will do it and then I can say I got tattooed for the kids”. It was an awesome find. I put it in my calendar to remind myself about the tattoo-a-thon each February.
I think it took me another couple of years to work up the nerve to go for it and get that tattoo. In 2016, I decided on getting a shamrock (because I’m part Irish, and it’s for luck, and it’s cute) and started looking at different photos online to see what kind of design I wanted and where. I found a cute one where it was just an outline and the leaves also looked a bit like a heart, and it was on the wrist. I really liked that idea, then I would be able to see it. I showed my mom and told here I wanted to get this one but not to worry, it would be small. She liked it be was iffy that I would go through with it from seeing the needles and getting poked. I made my appointment for early that Saturday morning.
A friend said she would come with and check it out. She was thinking about getting a tattoo and wanted to see. We got to the place and had to wait a bit for one of the artists. When one came over, I showed him the photo of the shamrock tattoo I wanted and that it’d be a small one on the inside of my wrist. He said okay and went to sketch the design on the transfer paper. That was something I hadn’t realized they did but totally makes sense. That took a while and then he came back and we grabbed seats. Luckily it was near the waiting area and my friend could sit and watch.
The artist told me to relax my wrist and warned me that doing it there, my fingers might twitch. Whoah! What? I hadn’t thought about that, but with the nerves being right there. Something else to get nervous about. How much twitching would they do? Deep breath. He transferred the design on the wrist. It was a little larger then I was thinking, but didn’t look too bad. I had told him I wanted it in green, he suggested doing a green and black coloring. I figured he knew what he was talking about and said sure. He placed the needle over my wrist and started the process. It went up and down so fast that at times felt like it was slicing me like a knife. That is when I realized, tattooing is basically have people stab you on purpose and scar you. Usually we try not to leave scars if we get cut. hmmm.
It felt so uncomfortable, but so glad he was was fast, and that I got a simple enough design, that it was over pretty fast. My friend got a photo that perfectly summed up what I was feeling. I am glad she got it while I was getting tattooed. The artist finished up and went over the care for instructions and I was done. He told me what the cost of that size tattoo would be and I wrote a check for a little more for the donation to the hospital. Then got a sticker that said “I got tattooed for the kids”. I really wanted that sticker.
A friend that lived nearby messaged us to come over for brunch, so we did. We said there almost all day, just chatting away. Hope she didn’t mind. I waited until the tattoo was healed and took a photo to show it off while wine tasting at a winery. I think it turned out cute. Took a while to get used to the fact I have something permanent on my arm.
I don’t know if I will get anymore. I have thought about it now that it’s been some time. But then I look at that photo above of when I was getting this one and remember. I am not closing the door, but I am happy with this one.
Did it take a while for you to get a tattoo? Have you done someone like this where the money is for a benefit for children?
My favorite so far is the surprise birthday party my sister and I threw for our mom a few years ago.
This was one of those milestone birthday’s (I won’t say which one so she can’t get mad at me) My sister and I wanted to make sure to do something special. Her birthday is at the end of July and there were several years she had to celebrate it at a swim meet.
I had gone to a friend’s wedding at a little winery not far from our house. It was super cute and their wines were pleasant to taste. I had the place in mind right away when we started discussing this. AND it would serve as a great cover of getting her to it, by using the excuse of wine tasting and then lunch.
We created a list of family and friends and sent out invites. This was my first time planning a big-ish event like this. Lots of little details became clear. Not to mention costs. There was the location, food, drinks, cake, decorations.
My uncle (her brother) was very helpful with the planning and when I became worried about having the money for it all, said he would be willing to help cover the cost of the food. My cousin was dating (and now married to) a very nice gal whose family managed a food place (Armadillo Willy’s). They talked and worked out that they would bring the food as a buffet. It was a perfect choice because it was food we knew my mom would enjoy, especially the coleslaw (side note: I am not much for coleslaw but this one is very yummy).
Next up was ordering a fruit basket cake from Whole Foods. That part wasn’t hard at all. The hard part was getting my sis here from Hawaii and making sure not to blow the party to our mom. I was living in an apartment at the time, so she was able to fly in and stay with me without mom being aware. She went to our house during the day, while mom was at work, and looked for photos to use as part of decorations. We found some fun ones of her throughout her life.
My sis thought she was being clever in setting up a call to mom to make it seem like she was still in Hawaii going about her daily routine. I just had to make sure not to say anything about the party when my mom was around.
We almost got away without her being completing aware, but then the winery made the mistake in calling her house phone instead of my cell phone. They wanted to make sure I was sending the final payment for the event. I was SOOOOO PISSED! It worked out in the end because, as my mom said, I didn’t need to come up with an excuse and she didn’t know what or who might be there.
The day of, we went to the farmer’s market to get a bunch of flowers. Then headed to the winery. Our uncle and family was there to help set up the food and when a few other guests got there a little early, gladly helped us finish setting up tables. We had bought glass jars from Goodwill that we filled with the flowers and then had the photos placed at the different tables. The winery had a table for the wines and set up another one for the cake and any presents people brought. I had a little stereo that had music, but it was small so people couldn’t really hear it (turned out to be unnecessary anyway). Being at the end of July, I wasn’t sure if it’d be super hot like it can often times be. Luckily it was only warm with a slight breeze coming over from the river nearby.
Then I went to go get the guest of honor.
One last thing, the week before my mom had gone out to dinner with a friend. They decided to get a bottle of wine and asked the waitress for a recommendation. She mentioned Scribner Bend to try. My mom came home to tell me that we have to check out this winery and that the wine was very nice. I almost said something then, but I was able to stop myself. Was very glad to know she would enjoy the wine.
So, I went and got her and came back to the winery. Now, where we all were was in the middle of some of the vines, so she couldn’t see it right away. She walked through the flower arch and everyone yelled, “SURPRISE!!” and she was. There were a few people she hadn’t seen in a while. But when she noticed my sister hiding in the back, she said “I KNEW you were here!” Later, she admitted she didn’t really, but had hoped.
In the end, it was a very pleasant afternoon and so fun. Definitely a surprise party to remember and cherish.
Have you thrown a surprise party or been the recipient of one?
Ingredients: vodka, peach schnapps, and cranberry juice
Drank on: May 21, 2014
Location: Clubhouse 56 in Sacramento, California
Notes: The bartender hadn’t heard of the drink name before but when I showed her the ingredients she said no problem. I really liked this one. It’s a nice change up from just vodka and juice. Also had fun saying the name with friends.
16 large sea scallops, patted dry
Freshly ground white pepper
Barrel-Aged Savignon Blanc / Semillon Blends , Murphy-Goode Fume Blanc, Dry Creek Fume Blanc (California), DeLille Chaleur Estate Blanc (Washington), Chateau La Louviere, Chateau Rahoul (France)
I found a Murphy-Goode Savignon BlancMy Review:
Scallops are a bit on the expensive side, so we only bought a dozen (6 for each of us). The flavor came out great with the scallops. I was thinking, it’s not really crusted and then realized as I was typing this that I forgot to pat the scallops dry so the mix would coat them more. I was a little nervous cooking them, as this was my first time and I know how easy it is to overcook scallops. But I think I did it just right.
Savignon Blancs are usually pretty tart tasting to me so I don’t often get them and this wine choice was just okay. This did go great with the scallops though.