rockinthemomrole

I'm on the journey called Life, let's travel together


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San Francisco, A Weekend Get-A-Way

With the graduation of my youngest from High School, Hubby suggested we take advantage of the opportunity of having both daughters around and available one last time, by taking a long weekend vacation trip together as a family. Deciding on a destination was easy. When he suggested San Francisco it was met with approval by all, so SFO it was.

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This was a great ’empty nester’ practice test run for me, traveling light; ie: carry-on. I set forth to acclimate myself to the mindset for the freedoms of being an empty nester. Since my husband travels quite a lot for work, I need to be able to pick up and go if I want to join him, and I do! We decided in advance we’d be doing lots of walking, maybe some shopping, eating only amazing food, nothing of which required any fancy dress .
With those parameters in mind, the girls and I headed to the airport with our carry-on bags, our TSA mandated ziploc quart bags, and an abundance of excitement. (Hubby was flying in to meet us from his business trip)

We were on time at the gate, patiently waiting our turn to board, when I hear my name on the P.A. system. I don’t know about you, but when I hear my name over a public address system, my first thoughts leap to trouble. A little concerned, I walked up to the gate agent to find out why I was paged. Low and behold I was thrilled to be asked if I would like to fly 1st class with my daughters!

WHA?

ME?

Well, HECK YEAH! And sell me a lottery ticket while you’re at it, because I never win ANYTHING!
Tell you what, first class for a 4 hour flight is just the perfect way to start a mini-vacation. Oh yes, yes it was.

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We arrived in SanFran just around dinnertime. We met Hubby at the hotel (Westin St. Francis) which was beautiful and a perfect central location, right on Union Square. We dropped the bags off in our room, freshened up from the flight, then headed down to the concierge to ask about places to grab a bite to eat. As I said, we were looking for good food, not fancy food. A hole in the wall would do nicely, and a hole in the wall she recommended. A short walk and we were at The Old Siam Thai Restaurant.

Now, as most here are familiar with, my youngest is gluten intolerant, not celiac. That gives us a little more freedom in our food choices and places we choose to eat, but asian is always challenging with it’s soy, buckwheat, oyster sauce and flour based noodles. Thai, however, is a lot of rice, rice noodles and fish sauce based dishes, not soy. That gives us a little more room to play with. The waitress there was extremely helpful and despite the language barrier (their english was not the most proficient), she dutifully checked for wheat and soy in all our dishes. She explained how best to order and helped us select a tasty meal that was by far the most reasonably priced of the whole trip. If you like Thai, which we do, this is a great find. I can’t say if a celiac can eat there or not, but if you intolerant, my daughter did just fine here.

After dinner we did a little walking around and I found myself breathing deep breaths, just inhaling that wonderful coastal air. After so many years landlocked, it’s hard to describe the soul satisfying comfort of that clean, slightly salty smell that comes off the ocean.

Have you ever had that moment when you realize that there was something missing, something in the deepest recesses of your soul you craved, but wasn’t aware of that emptiness until it hit you in the face? I grew up on the sands of Oregon’s beaches. Cool, crisp, sweet and salty air is as much of my childhood associations as mountains are. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it, until there it was, saturating my sinuses. I’m sure many a tourist travels to SF and they have never even made that association. I’m sure they are overwhelmed or mesmerized by the lights and bustle of the streets. I, however, was too preoccupied with the sea air, taking deep draughts of that soul satisfying breeze.
As we wrapped up the evening back in the room, I opened the window and let that wonderfully damp, brisk, bay breeze lull me off to sleep, dreaming of bare toes dug into the sand, accompanied by the roar of the ocean in the background. Don’t misunderstand, I know I was in the city, with big city obligatory rumble and roar of the city sounds. But this is different than any other big city to me, this is home…west coast home.

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A Birthday Celebration

My daughter turned the big 2-0 this year and wished to have a party for her closest friends. Who am I to say no? How long will my ‘baby girl’ be asking me for a party?

Her thought was to have an all day fun-fest poolside, starting at 10am going through the evening. So, for brunch, we started off with festive mango beverages, fruit salad and homemade GF scones. 

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As you can see, the chairs emptied quickly when I brought out warm chocolate/cherry scones!

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Once they ate, I started on fixing hearty snacks. The temperatures were in the upper 90’s, so any desire for ‘food’ was minimal. Instead, with the help of my dear friend Dalia, we fixed up some hearty snacks that all go well with the heat. Such as Tuscan White Bean Dip with fresh cucumber ‘chips’:

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Homemade and hearty Guacamole, with hearty tortilla chips. (Thank you Miss Dalia for all your help churning out food!):

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Of course, a veggie platter is a must!

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Here is the table spread of goodies that were gobbled up. That salsa in the yellow bowl was AMAZING. Homemade, hearty and smokey with fresh grilled corn and black beans, topped with cotija cheese. 

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Again, clean up of lunch and then we began dinner preparation. Chicken Cesear Salad with grilled french bread. It is perfect for a gaggle of girls all hungry but watching their figures. (Some boys stopped by, so I threw out some grilled dogs for ‘filler’. Good thing, they were gone in a heartbeat!)

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I feel like a mouthwash commercial: rinse, repeat. Next up, a birthday dessert fit for a birthday celebration, but one that will go down well in the heat. Voila! GF strawberry shortcakes! 

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Happy Birthday was sung by all and based on the smiles and laughing, it was a successful party. Yes, it was a lot of work for me, especially following a graduation party. But really, how many opportunities will I have left to shower my love and attention on them this way? Yes, it was a whole day spent cooking and cleaning up, but it was completely worth every ounce of effort. The cost of food, beverages and my time for these things are not always easy on the budget, but watching my daughter and her friends enjoy themselves to the fullest – is priceless. 


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Graduation Celebration

If you’ve wondered where I disappeared to, I haven’t. It’s just been more than a little crazy around here getting ready for my seniors’ graduation party, hosting visiting family, birthdays and horse shows. 

Now that the dust seems to have settled, I have a few moments to put some thoughts to paper…or, whatever this is called. (Think about the coolness factor of just that statement, because 20 years ago, I’d have to write a book, submit an opinion piece or be hired by someone who would publish me. The freedom of the internet is truly marvelous. Moooo-ving on…)

I have a HS graduate!

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For my oldest’s party, I did all the food AND decorating, AND there was a horse show the day before, AND I had family in town. It was a bit too much. With this child, it had to be Gluten Free AND yummy food I’d be proud to put on my table, but I also needed to reduce some of the stress. This year we also had family visiting, but also a horse show and 20th birthday party for my oldest, right on the heels of the Graduation Party. Enter my dear friend Dalia. She is Puerto Rican an AMAZING cook and she also does a little catering on the side. So I asked for her help, and the food was simply amazing! We had an entire feast of delicious, gluten free food that people gobbled up. Some came back for 3rds!! 

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I was so busy that day, but it was not stressful because I knew I could count on my friend to take complete care of preparing and serving all the food, as well as keeping it stocked. I even had time to sit down and have a plate myself! Granted, I was so hungry I started to munch before I thought: “I better take a pic of this!”

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We had Arroz con Gandules, Pernil, Puerto Rican black beans, Cilantro rice, Pollo Guisado and a soft serve ice cream machine with hot fudge sundae fixings, root beer floats, along with a Tres Leche cake. It was a great party and seemed to be enjoyed by all. We even had Sangria at the ‘adult’ bar to fit with the latin theme. 

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It was a perfect day, the Good Lord gave us beautiful weather to be able to set up and sit outside on my beautiful patio. 

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The pool was used by lots of kids, then when the little ones left, the teenagers played volleyball. 

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What a blessing to be able to entertain and love on our family and friends. It is a bittersweet time, but with much joy I say: Congratulations baby girl! 

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