Entries Tagged 'Urban family' ↓

Orange Girl’s Christmas Greeting 2013

Thanksgiving Dinner #7

We cooked our 7th Thanksgiving feast yesterday – started back in 2006 (hoping for an urban family tradition in NZ after having been in the States the prior year getting married when it was Thanksgiving!) and our first one cooking in the States was 2 years ago in San Francisco with Kara (last year we went to Bev and Dan’s).

We had a possible posse of 5 lined up but in the end it was a true family occasion with us and Cousin Grant. We had the usual menu lined up:

Thanksgiving Dinner 2013

Roast turkey with wild rice & cranberry stuffing
Homemade cranberry sauce
Kumara & orange gratin
Coleslaw

Apple pie & cream

We finally got our hands on the turkey we’d ordered – thankfully not the 18 pounder (read that drama here!) and oh what a wonderful place America can be – the supermarket on Thanksgiving morning has LOTS of everything anyone could need  – fresh cabbage, fresh bread, plenty of dairy, sauces, pastry, flowers etc etc – not like a New Zealand supermarket running out of things when a food-based event rolls around the same time every year!

We cooked throughout the day with a couple of rest stops to catch up on The Mentalist and other than setting off the smoke alarm because the gas grill caught our crostini on fire, the food all turned out great and Cousin Grant was very impressed :)

Menus and run-sheets from previous years were consulted to check cooking times and reminisce

Thanksgiving menu prep

Out to get the fresh supplies in -1 deg C

Thanksgiving supplies

Made cranberry sauce from scratch – was a great batch this year

Thanksgiving prep

Good batch of cranberry sauce this year #thanksgiving

Ninja knife skills for the kumara (yams)

Thanksgiving prep

Bit of a rest and a small lunch snack

Thanksgiving pre - bit of a rest!

Turkey time!

Thanksgiving prep - turkey's up

Thanksgiving prep - turkey's up

Thanksgiving prep - turkey's up

Thanksgiving prep - turkey's up

Best husband in the world went out for afternoon coffee (mind you we were too scared to leave the oven unattended in case the gas caught the turkey bag on fire!)

Thanksgiving prep - afternoon tea!

Proud of the turkey!

Thanksgiving

Finishing touches on the crostini (luckily we had a long enough baguette and could make some more!)

Thanksgiving

Family.

Thanksgiving

Orange Girl’s Christmas Message 2012

Photo of Orange Niece

Wow, the Orange Niece is growing up. Love this photo I found on the FB today.

georgiacatFB_500

Orange cast

We have more orange in our lives right now, in the form of a forearm cast on The Mister’s left arm. The day before we went to London he crushed his thumb under something heavy. It was sore and red and swollen and angry by the time we went to work and by the time we came home from work that same day it was 100% bruised and down into the palm of his hand. Colleagues from work were over for pizza that night, he could still bend and wiggle his thumb, not broken was the consensus.

Off we went to London, then home again to meet his parents off the plane and play hosts to them, then a 3 day train trip to Denver, then back to work. The bruising was gone, the swelling had gone down a little, but the thumb was still very fat and hurt to hold anything with any conviction in that hand. Off to the doctor he went, then to an x-ray where he got the news of the break, then to an orthopedic surgeon to see how to fix it. Turns out it was a little bit of knuckle bone chipped right off and it hadn’t been able to reattach itself because he kept bending and using this thumb. Apparently a good thing because with immobilization i.e. a cast and some ‘finger therapy’ it should make a full recovery.

We didn’t quite realize the cast would be fitted there and then! The casting lady open the cupboard of boys’ colors and asked The Mister what he’d like. I was certain I’d seen people with orange casts so I pushed in and opened the other cupboard and hey presto, pinks, mauves, yellow and orange! He chose that :)

Orange cast!

So we have 3 weeks of one-handedness, luckily not too much pain but a whole lot of awkwardness and impatience having to lug the cast around and a very limited wardrobe because we don’t want to cut slits in the sleeves of jackets and shirts! He’s getting plenty of interest around town with people yelling out of car windows or commending him in the street for showing such staunch support for the city’s baseball team (in the World Series this year), the very orange San Francisco Giants!

Not long to go Mister, better this nuisance than arthritis in your thumb!

Orange cast!

Another parental visit

Our last set of “big” visitors (I say that to mean more than just one person for one night) was The Mister’s parents – here for 10 days. They chose October thinking the weather would be good – not too hot, not too cold as we head into autumn and San Francisco often has an Indian summer so they wanted to chance that. Well. There was a heat wave. 30+ degrees! And apart from that, must’ve been the best weather that any of our visitors have had – no rain, no fog (they were disappointed not to see it on this side of town) and not cold at all!

By now we’re a dab hand a looking after guests and touring them around the city and environs, although M&F-I-L had been to San Francisco before so didn’t need the all-new-visitor tour.

  • There was plenty of walking around the waterfront with us, and on their own when we were at work. They quickly became fans of Blue Bottle in the Ferry Building. We even got to see the NZ America’s Cup yacht up close!

Bridge scenes

NZ yacht

  • There were lots of nights at home with wine and chips and home cooking and chatting around the table (oh so many questions about our lives here!!)

Dinner at home

  • A couple of trips over the Golden Gate Bridge and every time (including their hop-on-hop-off bus tour) except once, the sky was clear and bridge and views of the city were stunning

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco view

  • A day trip to Sausalito was very pleasant, tourist season and summer is beginning to wind down there and we were thrilled to get a table outside the deli where we normally get lunch with great views over the bay while we ate. A German tourist who said she was terrible at taking photos volunteered to take a photo of all of us on the pier – turned out to be a great photo and my favorite of us all for the trip. Amazing how clear San Francisco is in the background.

Sausalito

Sausalito

  • 3 days of their trip was the California Zephyr train trip from San Francisco to Denver – you can read my train log here and the day in Denver here. It was certainly a great experience and after I got over the initial motion sickness feeling I was OK being on the train but it was a lot less salubrious than I thought it would be! Some great scenery although some delays meant we didn’t see the Rockies in all their glory.

All aboard the Zephyr

  • Back in the city we spent a Saturday fully enjoying the Ferry Building market and were entertained by the daredevil Blue Angels doing aerobatics and fly-overs as part of Fleet Week.

Saturday at the Ferry Market

Fleet Week - Blue Angels

Fleet Week - Blue Angels

  • The day before they flew out we took them to Napa – our favorite day trip via Yountville for coffee at the Coffee Caboose then to Dean & Delucca for lunch supplies, then to Alpha Omega for a tasting and picnic that lasts just about all afternoon because it’s so lovely sitting in the warm shade watching the water fountain.

Passing through Yountville

Alpha Omega

Alpha Omega

A day in Denver

Even though the California Zephyr train (train log here) goes from San Francisco to Chicago, we got off in Denver for a night and day before flying back to San Francisco (last Friday). The train arrived 3 hours late so we had dinner on the train and got in well after dark, went straight to our hotel to bed. We were outside enough to feel that it was very nippy compared to San Francisco – about 8 degrees! But we’d been prepared for that as a nighttime temperature.

When we woke up the next morning, I was feeling rather drugged thanks to sleeping very heavily after not really sleeping on the train so I was a bit befuddled when The Mister lying next to me held up his cell phone and said “have you seen those little sparkly things on the weather app before? What is that?” and I screeched “That’s snow!!!!”, leaped out of bed, yanked back the curtains and squealed  “SNOW”! Not much, but it was real snow!

Snow when we woke up in Denver!

Now then, we didn’t have anything to wear in such weather! I’d checked 3 days earlier before we’d left San Francisco and it was forecast to be 15 or 16 – not 3!!

However, we rugged up in what we had (we did pack scarves and I had gloves) and left the parents-in-law enjoying the hotel buffet while we braved the cold and bus to head 20 minutes out of the downtown area to find decent coffee and a croissant for breakfast. My god it was bitter, although bearable if you could walk in a patch of sun. A guy we shared a table with at breakfast said it was the first sprinkling of snow for the season and was unseasonably early – usually the last day of October was when the first snow fell. So we’d come from a heat wave in San Francisco to a cold wave in Denver!

Bus stop Denver

We spend the middle of the day wandering along the city mall and around Larimar Square braving the cold as much as we could – it was slightly better after an emergency coat purchase stop. The temperature got up to 4.4 degrees – 40 degrees Fahrenheit!

Denver mall

Larimer Square Denver

Cold in Denver

After warming up with a soup and sandwich we headed over the bridge and through the park at the end of the mall to get to more good coffee, hoping it would be a warm cafe we could hang around in for a couple of hours before heading back to the hotel for our bags and transport to the airport – it was, and that’s what we did. On the walk over the bridge we discovered snow still lying about!

Snow in Denver

Denver

To use up some time after coffee before we needed to get to the airport we rode from one end of the mall to the other and half way back on the free mall bus – a great service and I can imagine they’d need it in the winter – it stops frequently on the single mall street so that you can come out of your office building, dash onto the bus, ride a couple of stops and dash back out into a shop or cafe or chemist or train station – barely needing to go outside!

So not a very adventurous day in Denver but despite the cold we walked from one side of our hotel map to the other – the route largely determined by coffee but that’s us!

Denver travels

California Zephyr – train log

7.35am Arrived to an Amtrack signpost on the sidewalk outside the Ferry Building, sweating (the heat is still hanging around the city) from rushing with our cabin bags and coats, expecting it to be cooler in Denver. Amtrack bus pulled up just as we did. It was with some disgust I left my beautiful orange cabin bag on the side walk to be hurled under the bus for the first leg of the trip, bus ride to the Amtrack station in Emeryville.

7.45am Bus is filling up, I realize we might not’ve brought the right train clothes, is a felt hat really necessary for the dining car?

floppy train hat

Wondering now if Amtrack will in fact be like the Orient Express … also, we’re the youngest on the bus so far.

8.10am Arrive Emeryville Amtrack station where I find out it’s another hour wait until the train leaves! Railway waiting room mm-mmm. Absolutely stunning view of San Francisco, the bay, Ferry Building, Alcatraz and a little bit of the Golden Gate bridge from the bus going over the Bay Bridge. AmtrackConnect poster in the waiting room advertising wi-fi on board other train services, but not the Zephyr. Thank goodness we brought the mi-fi.

8.50am Met the very cheerful conductor who knew who we were by the time we got to him – looking on his list I think he figured, young couple with greyer-haired couple following, heading to car 31 – must be the Walker family!

All aboard the Zephyr

9.10am Thought I was fainting standing there looking into my phone but it was the training creeping into motion while I was facing the wrong way! Sat down to look out the window. Room is not too bad – pokey and The Mister will have to pick up after himself and learn where everything goes!

Our room

9.20am Mi-fi success! Yaaay we have our own in-room internet! Devices all connected. How long will it last? C’mon AT&T 4G keep on working right into the mountains.

9.30am Arrrrgh, wondering if I can cope with 36 hours of this, I’m sure I’m feeling motion sick. Wandered down through the dining car to the observation car and sat sideways looking at the view for a while.

Dining car

Realized we were passing through Hercules and thought of Eileen so tweeted her to see if the baby was on his way.

10.10am Out the window yellow California desert.

California desert

Morning tea time! Out comes the travel coffee kit and precious Supreme beans recent visitors have couriered across for us. Hunted down Johnny the purser for some hot water “for a cup of tea” – turns out there’s an urn in the dining car so I know where it is for next time. Set up a coffee making station on the table.

Morning tea on the Zephyr

How the simple things make my heart swell – sounds naff but I was SO excited sitting there grinding the coffee, moving the cups and packets of sugar around to make us a morning tea.

Morning tea on the Zephyr

News that the baby is not yet coming. Computer time.

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Parents at Xero HQ

It felt pretty sad to miss a Xero AGM for the first time this year, and our 5th one at that! However I was up online at the ready, half an eye on Batman Begins in preparation for going to the latest film this weekend, to post news and images across social networks and boy was there news. 100,000 customers and big revenue numbers. So amazing to be part of.

During the evening I received photos of our parents visiting the new Xero HQ in Wellington – luckily Jif was on hand as a familiar face! And the mums found The Mister’s old Momo office racing seat and posed for a photo :) Very nice.

Family at Xero HQ

House guests with kids

Dean, Steph and Aidan have just visited for 2 weeks – having a child to visit meant we had to adjust the schedule, dragging everyone around coffee shops was not really an option! Here’s the only photo from the trip with all 5 of us in it and it’s a great photo!

Muir Woods

On this trip I realized that Dean and I have been bestest friends for more than half my life – quite a special milestone!

Day trip to Napa

  • We all went to a San Francisco Giants baseball game the day after they arrived.

SF Giants game

  • We visited the Ferry Building and it became a bit of a regular day trip for them when we were at work for ice-cream and coffee.
  • The Mister and I slept in on a pull out couch and lived out of a suitcase – but I could see the Bay Bridge lights as I fell asleep every night.
  • I had a long lunch hour at the shops with Steph – she’s quite a good shopper and even took one of those large mesh bags around a shoe shop for when you clearly intend on buying more than one pair of shoes!
  • 4th July picnic and Golden Gate Park, homemade burgers (including vegetarian patties) and fireworks.

4th Juy day at the park

4th Juy day at the park

4th July dinner

  • Had cars and noise and hundreds and thousands and finger prints all through the house.
  • Napa day trip for the boys with me as their sober driver – burgers for breakfast, coffee break in Yountville, wine and picnic lunch and meat tray for dinner.

Day trip to Napa

Day trip to Napa

Day trip to Napa

Day trip to Napa

  • Day trip to the outlet mall for the girls while the boys went to Santa Cruz to play on the beach and go to the movies. There’s no food at outlet malls so we ate peanut butter rolls I’d taken in my handbag and to fight off caffeine headaches we subjected ourselves to (get ready for it) Starshudderbucks – Steph was disgusted by her iced coffee that was just a bucket-o-cold black coffee with ice in it and my latte with an extra shot tasted like savaloy water. Awful.
  • Dean changed the batteries in all our smoke alarms after we were woken one night to the flat battery beep.
  • Got a sitter and enjoyed a night out at a vegetarian/vegan restaurant with a view of the Bay Bridge. I even wore shoes that didn’t require socks!
  • Visited an extremely large Toys R Us out in the ‘burbs.
  • Very foggy day the one time we went especially to see the Big Orange Bridge.

Foggy Orange Bridge

  • Did the Muir Woods and Sausalito circuit.

Muir Woods