Exploring La Jolla California (Part 1)

For our first day in LaJolla, after inching through the traffic between the hotel and the coast, we finally found a place to park about a block from the beach.

LaJolla CA Seal Beach

First stop would be the Casa Beach to see the Harbor Seals.  Here’s what the view looks like from street level (click to enlarge).  Now remember this is right in town and less than a 5 minute walk from where we parked.  Looks kinda like a normal beach, protected from the waves by the wall and walkway.  What you may not notice is that there are Harbor Seals in the water and on the beach, just below the wall, past where all the people are.  At certain times of the year, the whole beach is covered with seals, and this is also where they have their pups in the spring.

This harbor seal colony numbers approximately 200 seals.  To learn more about this beach, the seals and the La Jolla Friends of the Seals that help out there, click here.  It’s really quite interesting.  There’s also some controversy between those that think the beach should be roped off to protect the seals year round and those that think humans should have access to the beach in the summer for swimming.  If you’re interested in more info on that, visit “The Controversy” here.Pacific Harbor Seals La Jolla

We walked down on the beach and I pulled out my 300mm zoom lens so I could get some close-up shots of the seals without disturbing them physically.  They’re so cute and lovable, but can seem to be aggressive when humans encroach on their space.  While we were standing there, an adult seal moved away from the rest of the seals and toward some folks that were getting too close.  She seemed to be chasing them away from the pups and other adult seals.  Once everyone backed up, she went back to the group.   I’m not sure what would have happened if the humans hadn’t moved, but suffice it to say that it’s important that we respect their habitat and honor their right to be there too.  In the photo above you can see how close people were to the seals.

Multi-colored SealsHere’s a group shot that shows the interesting range of color and pattern in their fur coats.  They go from silver to black with all manor of combinations in between.

La Jolla Seals and TrashLook at the seal heading into the water in this one!  And the brownish one lying on his back.  He looks like your favorite dog begging to have his belly scratched.  The sad thing about this photo is the water bottle tossed in the group of seals.  Seriously, who in the world would do that?  Sad enough that someone would throw it on the ground at all, but the fact that this could have been thrown directly at a seal is disgusting.  Please teach your children that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.  (getting off my soap box now…)

Amy & Andrew LaJollaSo after we left Casa Beach, we walked down a little way.  Andrew and I did some wading at another stretch of beach while Terry and Amy looked on.

And while we were there, I used my “motherly expertise” to rescue a little boy who had encountered a serious issue.  Check out this photo that Amy took.  This little guy was maybe 8 years old and had been playing on the rocks at the beach.  Somehow he managed to rip his trousers across the top of the back pocket and ALL THE WAY down his pant leg from top to bottom, so his underwear and rear end was showing.  Fortunately he HAD underwear ON, but it was still pretty embarrassing, I’m sure.  So Amy had a big safety pin and I managed to get the loose flap pinned to the top of his pocket enough so that everything wasn’t hanging out.  It’s something only a mom would be allowed to do respectfully.  I’m not sure where his mother was, but I would have hoped that someone would do the same for Kevin if he’d been wandering around like that when he was young.  The little boy seemed to be appreciative, but still couldn’t find the shirt that he lost as well.  Good thing he was having fun in the water, otherwise it could have been a ruined day for him.

Amy & Terry

Andrew in LaJolla

Isn’t it amazing how, even as adults we’re fascinated by the interplay between waves and sand.  I could sit and watch the ocean for hours.  It’s so relaxing and refreshing…

You can see more photos that Amy posted from our adventures here too.

So, we’re about half way through the day at this point.  The next post will be the rest of the afternoon.

What do you think about the ocean?  Is it scary or intriguing to you?  Having grown up right next to Lake Erie, large bodies of water don’t frighten me.  I am a bit intimidated by the more dangerous creatures in the ocean though…like sharks and jelly fish and the like.  And I’m not really fond of the salt water coating that’s left in your hair and on your skin after swimming in the ocean.

Let me know what you think about the ocean. Have you ever been to La Jolla?  What’s your favorite thing to do there?

Eating in La Jolla, California

Because we know it’s all about the food, I thought I’d share about a couple of places that we ate when we were in La Jolla.

The Spot – La Jolla

Saturday night was an unofficial birthday dinner for me (and for Andrew too) since both of our birthdays were in the week before we were there.  We tried to make a reservation for a place overlooking the coast, but the earliest they had was 8pm, and we had eaten early in the day, so we tried to find someplace available earlier.  We ended up at The Spot.

It wasn’t overlooking the coast, but we were able to snag a table right next to a couple of windows that opened out onto the sidewalk with the fresh ocean breeze wafting through.  This is the booth where we sat.  Can’t you just feel the breeze?

It also helped because the restaurant is a little dark, so the outside access helped it feel more open.

Here’s what we ate:

Andrew’s Garbage Burger: 1/2 lb beef patty with lettuce, tomato, pickle fries, sauteed mushrooms, bacon, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and onion rings

Garbage Burger

My steak and shrimp scampi.  The scampi was a little over-cooked but still had good flavor.   The steak was tender and delicious!

Steak and Scampi

Terry’s Shrimp with Penne Pasta looked very tasty: imported penne pasta tossed with grilled chicken in our pesto cream sauce

Pasta with Shrimp

I don’t have a photo, but at the table next to us the guys had a Deep Pan Pizza that looked amazing!  We were staring enough as it was, so I didn’t want to totally intrude by taking a picture.

This is the view looking outside from the table.

Overall it was a wonderful meal in a great location with some of my favorite dinner companions.

For those who’ve seen this post already, I apologize for the duplication.  I realized that I didn’t include the “window” shots and I wanted to add them.

I think I’m going to share about the next place in a separate post because there’s more than just the meal to talk about.

Next Post: Seals, Sea Lions and more in LaJolla

Then: LaJolla’s Open Aire Market!

Onward and Upward Workshop

We interrupt our regular posting series to announce that our daughter, Amy is presenting a new online workshop!

You can check out all the details here!

She also posted some pics from our recent visit with them and our trip to LaJolla.  You can find those here.

My pics are coming soon, I promise.  You’re gonna love the cute seal pictures and I have some good ones of Amy and Andrew too.

We have commitments tonight and tomorrow night, but I should get some more out over the weekend.

By the way, what’s your favorite day to read new blog posts?  I’m always hesitant to do new posts on the weekend because everyone is out and about and I’m afraid that they’ll get lost in the shuffle.  I’d love to target the best days for you, so let me know what they are.

Thanks for reading!  Hope you’re having an awesome summer!

2 Great Casual Places to Eat in Encino

A couple of weekends ago we headed over to Southern California to see Amy & Andrew and to use a hotel gift certificate that was going to expire. What a great excuse to get out of the heat!  We stayed one night in Tarzana with the kids and Saturday night we stayed a couple of hours south in LaJolla.

Because food is always a key ingredient in any trip, I thought I’d share a couple of the places that we ate.  Three of them were excellent and one was very good. It’s hard to rank them because they were all very different, so I’ll list them in the order that we ate them.  See what you think.  I’ll share two from Encino today and two in La Jolla tomorrow.

The Stand – When Terry and I were making the long drive from Phoenix, I started thinking about The Stand about 2 hours before we got there. It’s THAT good.  We went to the one in Encino, but there are a few other So Cal locations as well.  Amy & Andrew introduced us to this place a year or so ago and we have loved it every time we’ve been there.  In addition to the great food, the awesome outdoor eating area just adds to the experience.  I don’t know about you, but a breezy alfresco meal always tastes better to me somehow!

I was analyzing this cozy spot that’s right next to a very busy city street.  They’ve creatively planted trees and tall hedges to provide shade and sound proofing between the diners and the cars.  This could easily be replicated in Phoenix.  They might have to close down for a month or so in the summer. Then again, if they had misters in a shady area like this, it could be a year round venue.  Anyone willing to try it?  We’ll definitely be your regular customers!  Randy & Linda, How bout it?  You could close down in the summer and head out of town!

The Stand Encino

On this visit I tried their Chicago style hotdog with sweet potato fries.  I’ve heard so  much about it, but had never tried it.  I’m not a huge fan of the poppy seeds on the bun.  I can take or leave them. They don’t add a lot of flavor and I always worry that they’re stuck in my front teeth when I’m finished eating.  Otherwise, this was delicious!  Terry shared my fries and got a chili dog and liked it so much that he went back for another one.

Here are a couple of posts that Amy did about The Stand too, with even more photos.

Hotdog at the Stand

More Than Waffles – Encino

This is the first time we’ve been here and if I had looked at their website before we went, I probably would have ordered something different.  Not that my club sandwich wasn’t good, but some of the other breakfast items look AMAZING!  Terry got a very hearty omelette with waffles on the side. The smell of freshly made waffles is so scrumptious. He was kind enough to share a bite of his with me. Everything we had was excellent.

Amy & Andrew

What a great time to be with A & A and explore a few of their favorite spots.  They live in a great area for cute little eateries.  We love going there and trying out their discoveries.  Of course, we’d love going there no matter where they live.  It’s the people, not the place that we love the most.

Soon I’ll share about our day in La Jolla looking at the seals and sea lions.  And the little boy who needed a little bit of “mom-type” help.  It was so much fun!

47 Foods You Should be Eating on Vacation (or Anytime)

If you’re anything like me, you have a hard time making good food choices when you’re on vacation, especially when you’re eating out and have literally dozens of options, both healthy and unhealthy at your command.  This summer our family is making plans for a BIG vacation in August when we’ll be going to Scotland for a week and Ireland for a week.  And right now I’m in the process of losing some extra weight, especially before the trip, but also don’t want to go too crazy on vacation either.

So, here’s something that might help all of us make better choices both at home and away.  Today, my Frommers Travel Newsletter provided a timely link to MohrResults.com where I found this list of “47 Foods You Should be Eating“.  I’ve segmented the list into easy snacks for travel, then those with a higher likelihood of finding in restaurants, and last are the ones that you’ll probably find in the grocery store or in some cases, your local farmer’s market.

I would recommend posting the list in the kitchen, adding it to your smart phone or iPod or carrying a physical list around with you until you have it memorized.  Then on your next trip (or even your next local outing) when you’re sitting at a restaurant trying to decide what to get, look for one or more of these items in your food choices.  And of course, when you’re at the grocery store, make it a game to see how many of them you can include in your weekly menu.

I took my own inventory and discovered that I actually had 23 or the 47 items already in the kitchen!  Yeah!  I guess that means we’re off to a good start.  Plus I picked up a few more at the grocery store today.  Woohoo!

Also don’t be afraid to try some foods on the list that may be new to you.  Yesterday, (before I saw this list) I was at True Food Kitchen in Phoenix and tried their Tuscan Kale salad as a side dish and it was DELICIOUS!  I’ve always been leery of kale, thinking for some reason that it would be too bitter, but this was amazing with a light sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a wonderful lemon dressing.  If there were places like True Food all over the planet, then we wouldn’t have to worry about eating healthy.  They make it easy and scrumptious too!

So today when I was at the grocery store, I decided to broaden my horizons and picked up some kale in the produce section.  Then when I got home I did a little more research on this AMAZING super food.  Check out this summary of the benefits of kale.  Wow!

Now here’s the cool part.  When I was researching, I also came across the Kale Salad recipe from True Foods here.  So I made it for dinner!  Here’s the picture of MY Tuscan Kale Salad (below) with the addition of cucumbers and a few minor changes (I added some lemon zest and Queen Creek Olive Mill  Meyer Lemon olive oil (instead of EVOO) to the dressing) because I LOVE lemon flavor.  Be sure to watch the short video showing how easy it is to make.  

In addition, when I googled “Kale Salad”, near the top of the list was another recipe from the food blog, “Oh She Glows“.  The strange thing about that was that I had just finished reading my daughter’s blog post about her Top 5 Food blogs and she had mentioned this as one of her top five favorites.

So here’s the list as promised.  I hope it helps you to take a step toward healthier eating.  For me summer is always a better time to eat lighter when the temps are higher and the produce is fresher and less expensive.

47 Foods You SHOULD Be Eating

Snack options:

  1. Pistachios
  2. Almonds
  3. Apples
  4. Blackberries
  5. Sardines  (if you don’t have to worry about the odor offending your neighbor)
  6. Carrots
  7. Red, yellow and orange bell peppers
  8. Blueberries
  9. Red grapes
  10. Nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, etc)
  11. Coconut (either fresh, where you crack the shell or unsweetened, shredded)
  12. Tomatoes, cherry or grape tomatoes make great snacks (for meals – raw and cooked both have unique benefits)
  13. Cherries
  14. Pineapple
  15. Raspberries
  16. Strawberries
  17. Plain Greek yogurt
  18. Green tea
  19. Black tea

Look for these in addition to those above on restaurant menus:

  1. Wild salmon (fresh and/or canned)
  2. Whole eggs
  3. Spinach
  4. Lean red meat (we prefer grass fed beef)
  5. Cauliflower
  6. Avocados
  7. Garlic
  8. Beans (black, kidney, chick peas, red beans, etc)
  9. Sweet potatoes or yams (technically not the same, yet they’re often used interchangeably)
  10. Broccoli
  11. Red and green cabbage
  12. Onions
  13. Cinnamon
  14. Mushrooms (all types)
  15. Barley
  16. Canola and olive oils (replace other less healthy fats with these, don’t simply add these to the diet)
Add these to your grocery list and try them at home if you can’t find them in a restaurant:
  1. Swiss chard
  2. Quinoa (pronounced “keen wah”)
  3. Rolled oats
  4. Barramundi (often called “the sustainable sea bass”) can be found in the frozen section of Whole Foods & has half the calories, yet equal omega 3′s to coho salmon)
  5. Pink grapefruit
  6. Turmeric (benefits)
  7. Kale
  8. Pumpkin (we often add canned, unsweetened 100% pure pumpkin to our smoothies)
  9. Unsweetened cocoa powder or cocoa nibs (also often added to smoothies or Greek yogurt)
  10. Lentils
  11. Oat bran
  12. Beets (try this Summer Salad Recipe with beets)
Let me know which of these are your favorites already or any ideas for ways to incorporate them in your daily routine.

5 Ways That My Husband Loves Our Kids

In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I’d share a little bit about why I’m so thankful for the man I married.   He’s taken time to invest in our children in so many ways over the years and here are just a few of them.

He loves our kids by showing affection to them and to me.

He loves our kids by encouraging them to seek out adventure.

He loves our kids by teaching them stuff. (They’re flying kites here.)

He loves our kids by enjoying life and having fun with them often.

He loves our kids by reading to them and encouraging them to be lifelong readers. (He always loved to do all the fun voices when he was reading to them as little ones.)

I trust that you can take time today to find at least one thing that you can be thankful for in regard to your father or the father of your children and take a few minutes to let them know about it.

I’m so thankful that my own dad was a good provider for our family.  We never went hungry and always had a roof over our heads and clothes to wear.

Who and what are you thankful for on this Father’s Day?

Better Blog Content 2.0

O.k., so its clear that you’re probably not getting much inspiration from me lately, but I do have a recommendation for you to check out someone who is a prolific blogger.  And this week, she’s running an online Blogging Workshop on “Lemon and Raspberry” called Better Blog Content 2.0.  You can find all the details here.

Full disclosure: she happens to be my daughter, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have great stuff to share and to help you in the blogging world.  In fact this might just inspire me to start posting again.  See, this post is proof that it’s working already. 🙂  I love this picture of her from some recent “outtakes” at her  home photo shoot.  Note the raspberry lemonade in the photo for her “Lemon and Raspberry” blog.  Clever huh?

But, it’s getting more and more difficult for me to choose what to blog about.  We just added a few more events to the list.  Last week I helped my dear friend, Linda on a photo shoot with her daughter-in-law and granddaughters, which was a blast!  I’ll post more on that.

Then I went with my husband and the Ryans to Tucson to hear my husband and Bob perform at the Tucson Folk Festival.  I promise, soon I’ll post about that trip, as well as an awesome Mexican restaurant that we visited there.  It’s a place that you won’t want to miss if you’re in the Tucson area and are hungry for Mexican food.  Stay tuned for all that and more to come.

Thanks for hanging in there with me during this busy time of life.