Celebrating Alex’s birthday. 3/7/21

Alex is turning 15 this year. I cannot believe it!! It seems like such a short time ago that she was just a little kid. Ah, well, I guess we all get older (and older.) John, Sarah, and I took a trip over to Jon and Ryan’s house for a little celebration. Of course since it is still pandemic time and not everyone has been vaccinated, we celebrated in our masks outdoors. Jon, Ryan, Leigh, and Sarah cannot wait for it to be their turn to get the vaccine.

Here are some pictures from the day –

Alex and Sam in their matching outfits
Ooh, cookies from Auntie Sarah
Opening some presents from mom and dad which included a new scooter and some high tech headphones.

We gave Alex some Spring clothes which is not terribly exciting but I know will be appreciated when the weather warms up. (If it ever does!!)

Sam’s 12th birthday. 1/11/21

It is a new year but the quarantine goes on as Covid-19 rages throughout the U.S.  But it is Sam’s birthday and it must be celebrated. We all don our masks and keep social distancing while we have a little party outside on Jon’s front porch.

Alex and Ryan. Alex is wearing some of the new clothes we gave her for Christmas.
Sam opening presents with Jon
Sarah and John at our little party
Sam’s at-home birthday celebration has a fabulous cake by Leigh
12 year old Sam!


It’s my birthday! 12/8/21

Today is my birthday and usually we are sharing a celebration with Karen and George. This year, though, nothing is normal and George and I will not be together for “the birthdays.” It is sad. But John and Sarah are treating me with all sorts of great things to eat so I am feeling well-feted by the end of the day.

Documenting the passage of time – Mary, 72
Sarah made me her fabulous Swedish tea ring which is reminiscent of the Dugan’s coffee cake I used to eat as a kid
For hors d’oeuvres John got some sushi
He followed the sushi up with a dinner of Chilean sea bass, rice, and broccoli

Even though my birthday was bereft of my birthday buddy, I had a nice day with a phone call from my sisters and my sweet family around me.

Jonathan’s belated birthday celebration. 2/8/20

On Saturday, February 8, John and I meet Ryan and Jon for a belated 43rd birthday celebration at the Black Sheep Brasserie in San Jose. We have a really  good time! We start off with a champagne toast compliments of the restaurant. Our server, Tyler, is very knowledgeable about all the things on the menu. We start with a charcuterie plate which has, among other things, a really delicious duck pate. Among the four of us we order skate wings creamy cauliflower chowder, pork cheeks, onion soup, French fries, and incredibly delicious brussels sprouts.

Some pictures from our evening –

Jon and John
Jon, Mom and Dad
Ryan and Jon
The four of us

Happy Birthday, Jon!

Alex’s 13th birthday party. 3/9/19

Alex is officially a teenager yesterday and we are celebrating his birthday today! The party is mainly held in a truck that has big video screens for the kids to play various games on. We really do not see any of the party-goers until it is time to cut the cake.

Kids on the party truck

Auntie Leigh has outdone herself this year with a totally edible dragon cake. She even has dry ice set up so it looks like the dragon is breathing smoke. Everyone is wowed by it.

Dragon cake
Cake, Alex, Auntie Leigh

Happy Birthday, Alex!

Sam’s 10th Birthday. 1/11/19

Wow, can it be!? Sam is double digits today! Here is what happened at his birthday party-

We have just arrived and while Sam is busy playing with his friends…
Sarah is busy photobombing Jon in the kitchen.
Sam is enjoying treats…
And Sarah has concocted a drink in the kitchen while Rose and John H. look on.
Leigh and her Dad
John H. And Sarah toast the birthday boy.
Alex and her friend Noah stay out of the way of the younger kids.
Here is the Rainbow Pusheen birthday cake that Auntie Leigh has made for Sam!
A hug from Sam for Auntie Leigh
Leigh and Sam with the cake
Happy family and cake
Sam and Zayde
Sam blows out the candles
Time to cut the cake
Cake cutting inspection
Wow! It’s rainbow inside!
Sam and his special cake
Beeba, Jon, and Sarah at the party
Time to open presents
And more presents
At the end of the party Sam and everyone else is pretty worn out

Happy 10th birthday to Sam!!

Sonoma Wine Country

Since my birthday is a week from tomorrow, we figure that it is a good time to start celebrating early. December will be a month of celebrating and travel so there will not be a whole lot of cooking. But I am happy to include in my posts some great experiences, interesting restaurant dishes and the occasional home cooked meal.

Our day started with a stop at Jacuzzi Winery, home of The Olive Press, where we always stop to sample the olive oils and get our bottles refilled. Today we get a new pressing of Arbequina olive oil. We use these better oils as finishing oils while we use a more generic EVOO for everyday cooking.

Here’s a picture of John next to Santa at the Jacuzzi Winery and The Olive Press.

Ho, ho, ho John at Jacuzzi winery
Wind-blown Mary in front of jacuzzi Winery

Next we stop at Imagery Winery to pick up our Wine Club allotment. For agreeing to a certain number of bottles per year you get a 20% discount. Also you get a free tasting of their recent offerings. So John and I try a few sips. It is fun as long as you do not enroll in too many wine clubs or have too many sips!

For a late lunch we try the recently opened Salt and Stone restaurant in Kenwood, CA. I think we make very reasonable choices.

John’s roasted octopus with chickpeas
My octopus salad

After lunch we head for home trying not to get caught in rush hour traffic. Sonoma County wine country is beautiful even in late November and a nice break from the urban/suburban bustle.

Leaves turning in the vineyards of Sonoma County




John’s birthday celebrations. 9/14/18

Unlike me John does not usually get a five-star multiple event birthday celebration. But at the end of his sixth decade I think he deserves it.

We start out with a visit with Jim and Eileen Kendall, our old friends from Massachusetts days.  Eileen goes out of her way to provide us with a lovely lunch and we all toast John a happy 69th birthday.

Eileen and Jim on a recent Alaska cruise

After lunch we slog through some heavy traffic up to Healdsburg for dinner out and an overnight at the BW Dry Creek Inn. The rooms at the Dry Creek Inn where we have stayed many times before are in need of a total refreshing but it is only one night so it is not a big deal.

I have made reservations at The Brass Rabbit for dinner. I am thinking that this will be a nice fine dining place on the Healdsburg square. But no, it is really more like a bistro and although the food is good the atmosphere leaves something to be desired.

In the morning the birthday boy and I stop at Stonestreet Winery for a tasting.  They have great Chardonnays and although the tasting fee is steep ($40 pp) we go for it. At least they comp the fee if you buy wine. (Which of course we do.) Their wines are great!

John is front of Stonestreet Winery
Sculpture out in front of Stonestreet with Geyser Peak in the background

It is a long tasting so we decide to stop for lunch before returning home.  We have lunch at Taylor’s Refresher for some mediocre hamburgers but great onion rings.

Our last birthday celebration is at the Smoked Pig in Fremont with the whole family. The adults enjoy the food while Alex and Sam do not. It is hard to find someplace where everyone will be happy. But it is good to see the family and now John has been thoroughly celebrated.

Happy Birthday to my sweetie!!

The Birthdays. 12/8-9/2017

Wow, the first time George and I celebrated our birthdays together I was 29 and here it is 40 years later. We are not so spry now but we always manage to have a good time. This year’s Birthdays celebration takes us to Little River, CA. We are staying at the Little River Inn and will also dine there.

On the way up we stop at Healdsburg for lunch at the Healdsburg Bar and Grill. It has food that everyone should like. They are especially known for their burgers. Karen and George opt for a cheese burger while John and I try the veggie burger. I am still trying to stay on my vegan before six diet. The veggie burger comes with a load of feta cheese so I dutifully scrape it off.

Veggie burger at Healdsburg Bar and Grill

The drive out to Little River is beautiful and we pass through redwood forests with their deep shade and ferns abounding. Along the way we stop at Goldeneye Winery for a little tasting. For $15 we get a seated tasting with some nibbles and seven different wines. This is so much better than Napa where you have to pay $50 just to walk through the door!

John, Karen, and George at Goldeneye Winery

We reach our hotel and our rooms are pretty far apart. George needs a disability room and our room is on the second floor of a building on the other side of the complex. The room itself is pretty spartan for the price but has a nice porch and view. We are greeted by a seagull sitting on the railing who does not seem to be afraid of people.

View from our room with seagull
Sunset over the Pacific

We meet for dinner to celebrate my birthday. The food is pretty mediocre but we have a great time nonetheless.

John and I at the restaurant

After breakfast at the hotel the next morning we are off to celebrate George’s birthday. We decide to go to a few wineries for tastings and find lunch somewhere.

A beautiful clear day in the 60’s awaits us
One of the wineries we stop at is Greenwood Ridge Vineyards
They have some veryf friendly ducks!

While John and George peruse the menu of wines WE CAN TASTE FOR FREE I spin the wheel and hit the jackpot – 45% off a case of wine! We decide to split a case. My birthday celebration is going along great!


After visiting three places we find a place for lunch. Stone and Embers is a great choice with a wood fired pizza oven. The oven is so hot that it cooks the pizza really fast and the crust comes out wonderfully cooked with a little char. We sit at the counter and George has fun schmoozing with the owner/chef.

Our pizza puffing up in the oven
Yum! Supposedly the sausage is from a turducken

Since the food in the restaurant is only meh we decide to have dinner in the bar. We have a lot of fun. George has found someone who is also celebrating his birthday and we get a rousing chorus of happy birthday with our dessert course.

Me with John and George

The next day we ride down the coast towards home stopping in Point Arena for breakfast. I love our Birthday celebrations and this has been a great one.