Half Moon Bay Tweetup!

I drove to Half Moon Bay by myself to my first twitter meetup on July 22, 2008. I heard about it from Laura Fitten (@pistachio, http://pistachioconsulting.com/).  Laura and I are connected through Twitter.com.

The drive was longer than I expected.  I initially thought Half Moon Bay was near Stinson Beach.  It’s not.  The drive ended up being almost two hours, including San Francisco Bay Bridge traffic that I had to pass through.  The closer I got to Half Moon Bay, the more beautiful it was.

I was reminded of the only other time I had been there.  In high school my science class had gone to Half Moon Bay for a fieldtrip to see the tide pools.  That memory and the view around me made me eager to plan a trip their again soon, with my kids.

I finally arrived at the Half Moon Bay Ritz-Carlton!  It was a stunningly beautiful hotel nestled next to the bay.  The view was incredible!  We were supposed to be meeting by the fire pit on the ocean side of the Ritz.  What I didn’t realize was that the Brainstorm: TECH Conference that I had heard talk about was also going on there at the same time!  In the same location!  It was so crowded with people it was difficult to get to the fire pit area,  which by-the-way contained no fire.

I first spotted Lucretia (@geekmommy)!  Laura Fitten (@pistachio) was also there!  Lucretia and Laura are both twitterfriends of mine and we recently met face to face for the first time last week at the San Francisco BlogHer ’08 People’s Party.  I stayed with Lucretia, most of the time, and got to meet her family, her husband and adorable daughter!  I met Shel Israel (@shelisrael) , also Ryan who has a startup and no business card!  Robert Scoble was there, and I had orignally hoped to meet him, but in the end I was standing next to him and didn’t make the effort.  He seems very friendly, maybe next time.  He actually looked much younger in person than I had expected from the pic on his blog.  There was a barbie doll version of him floating around that was hilarious!

Funny story.  While I was standing next to Robert Scoble I was trying to set the date on my camera and had it pointed down and ended up taking a pic of his shoes!  Made myself laugh!

The BrainstormTech people were beginning their dinner outside near our meeting spot and everyone started leaving the tweetup to find dinner elsewhere.  Men that looked very much like secret service men, with the dark suits and earpieces, told us we had to leave.  Right before that a woman had told me that I wasn’t supposed to be taking pictures.  Oops, too late!  (If I suddenly disappear, you’ll know why).

I had talked with Cathryn Hrudicka (@creativesage) on twitter and had hoped to meet her some time soon, but I didn’t realize that she was going to be at this meetup, so when she came up to me I didn’t place her at first, but luckily she did me.  I was very pleased to meet her!  She had ridden with another couple who initially wanted to leave early, so I offered to give her a ride home.

I was a little nervous about driving out of Half Moon Bay at night because there had been quite a few turns and I didn’t have clear directions home.  I initially wanted to leave before dark, but Brian Solis’s cheeseburger description changed my mind.  Luckily Cathryn knew her way around Half Moon Bay a bit more than I did so between the both of us we found the restaurant and the rest of the group.

The restaurant was part of a hotel, simple but nice.  We had a table of twelve that included Laura Fitten, Shel Israel, Stowe Boyd, Brian Solis, Cathryn and myself.  Cathryn and I ended up sitting across from Brian and Stowe.  They seem to know each other quite well and were enjoying the night and a bottle of wine.  After we all got aquainted they wanted to get another bottle of wine and share it with Cathryn and I.  I was driving, but was really good and only had a small glass.  I had my friends on twitter DM (Direct Message) me to remind me not to drink too much wine!  (Thank you Mark and Tina!)  Brian and Stowe were a lot of fun and Cathryn and I really enjoyed the dinner.

Even though we got turned around a bit at first, the drive home was very enjoyable thanks to Cathryn’s company.  It was such a pleasure to get to know her.

Even though I had a long drive by myself, I am so glad I made the effort.  I got to see some special friends again, and make some wonderful new friends.

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BlogHer ’08 ~ The People’s Party

 

I didn’t attend BlogHer, the women’s blogger conference held in San Francisco, but I did attend the BlogHer People’s Party! 

I wanted to attend Blogher ’08, but a couple of things held me back from registering.  First, I’ve only been blogging a short time, since May on this WordPress site.  I didn’t feel qualified to attend with only 2 months of serious blogging under my belt.  Also, I was laid off from my part time job as a food server at Julia’s Kitchen.  With less income coming in, it didn’t seem like a good time to spend money on a conference.  The thing was, I was dying to go and meet some of the other women bloggers.  I had met some through Twitter.com and some I had stumbled upon their blogs randomly, and they were amazing women – full of humor, caring, creativity, and depth.  They had inspired me to begin blogging in a more professional way. 

I was so sad thinking that the women who I had come to think of as friends were going to be in San Francisco, right in my own backyard practically (I live about an hour from SF), and I wasn’t going to get to meet them.  Then an amazing thing happened!  (Shhh…I think I used “The Secret“!)  I heard about The People’s Party from Megan (@velveteenmind, http://velveteenmind.com/)!  I read it on her blog and I immediately wrote to her and asked her if I could come, she said, “YES!”  Then I wrote her back and asked if I could bring Angela, and she said, “YES! But we may run out of drink tickets so be prepared with cash just in case.”  No problem!

Angela and I drove into San Francisco together, parked and found the Westin St. Francis just fine.  Angela is one of my best friends and our joke of the night was that she was my “entourage”. Finding the party was another thing, we wandered through the corridors for a bit, even scored a schwag bag from a medical convention!  As we carried the bags away on our quest to find The People’s Party the doctors we passed gave us strange looks, obviously thinking, “Yeah right, sureee you’re doctors!”  Okay, they were right, but still. 

Finally we heard women’s voices and I said, “That HAS to be it!”.  We followed the voices and found it, the BlogHer People’s Party!  woo!  We were given two drink tickets apiece as we entered and pretty much headed straight for the bar and some white wine.  Next we picked up our schwag bags, which were full of fun stuff!  Even a hardback book that I was planning to buy!  (shhh…i must have used “The Secret” again!)

 The next order of business was finding my friends.  It was harder than I thought it would be!  It was a dimmly lit room and I had to walk by casually and stare at people’s name tags, without tripping and spilling my wine, to see if i knew them or not!  The person I wanted to find the most was Tina Cruz (@sendchocolate, http://casadecruz.blogspot.com/).  I found Megan and said hello and we took a pic, and I asked her if she’d seen Tina, she said no.  I chatted with a few other bloggers and we exchanged business cards.  Next, out in the hall I saw Erin! (@QueenofSpain, http://queenofspainblog.com/)  Erin has done so much live blogging (which she is a natural and amazing at) that I knew her instantly!  She said, “It’s lauralovesart!” and I said, “It’s Queen of Spain!” and we hugged.  She was with a guy from photrade.com and we took a couple of pics together to commemorate.  So fun to see her in person!  I could totally drink some wine with that girl!  I asked Erin if she had seen Tina and she said no.  Angela and I headed back inside and mingled. 

Next I saw Laura Fitten! (@pistacio, http://pistachioconsulting.com/) I didn’t even expect to see her because she had told me she would probably not make it and so we had talked about meeting later in the week at a Tweetup. It was really fun to see her in person, and it felt like a bonus since I wasn’t expecting her!

We came back to the hall and Erin said, “Tina’s down there by the bathroom!”, so I hurried down and found Tina (@sendchocolate), Leah (@califmom, http://www.califmom.com/) and Lucretia (@geekmommy, http://www.geekmommy.net/) all sitting in a circle on the floor near the bathroom of all things!  I pounced on them!  Then I joined the circle to catch up, then someone said that The Bloggess was in the bathroom so we went to investigate…

I knew Jenny, the Bloggess, was there at the party and I loveee her blog!  (@theBloggess, http://thebloggess.com/) She has an awesome sense of humor!  I reallyyy wanted to get a picture with her.  She was there, and then she disappeared before I could talk to her.  Finally she was back and I went to talk to her and she was sooo cute and funny!  Later in the night she was holding court in the bathroom of all places, drinking wine and sitting on the counter!  Had a blast hanging with her, I just love her!  I could definitely drink some wine with her too!

Mrs. Flinger licked me.  With a sticker, and for real.  Leslie has the cutest twitter personality and is even more fun in person!  (@mrsflinger, http://mrs.flinger.us/)  I love love love her!  We screamed “Squeee!” when we saw each other!   It was amazing to meet her in person! 

 I also got to meet Sweetney!  Tracey was so kool!  (@sweetney, http://www.sweetney.com).   I was just adoring all these women!

Angela and I went back to the main room for her to get another glass of wine, I sat my glass up on the counter and the bartender filled it up, I was trying to slow down, didn’t happen.  Out of nowhere two engineers from Yahoo appeared and one started dancing with me.  They were nice, but wouldn’t give me a straight answer as to why two guys from Yahoo were at a women’s blogging partay!?  They wanted to take us dancing, but I was there to see my friends so we said goodbye.

Next the party was winding down and we ended up in the bar at the Westin with Leah and Tina.  They were hungry and Angela and I needed to sober up before driving so we went to Denny’s nearby.  Had a great time but the service was slow as molasses.  Felt like we were there for three hours! 

Angela drove us to her apartment in Albany, then I drove myself home.  It’s been a long time since I got home after sunrise! 

I had a blast at the BlogHer People’s Party and I am so grateful to Megan for inviting me.  It was truly a sureal experience meeting women I felt I knew so well from seeing their pictures and reading their words on their blogs and twitter.  Now I really know them in person and I feel like I have a bunch of new BFF’s, Best Friends Forever!  Fun, fun time! 

BlogHer ’09 here I come!  woo! (definitely using “The Secret”!)

I met many more women than I could mention here, and I have a lot more fun and amazing pics from the party than I could post here, maybe of YOU! please check my flickr.com photo stream at: http://flickr.com/photos/lauralovesart/

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Product Review ~ Mott’s Cinnamon Applesauce

 Image via Wikipedia

This product review has moved to it’s own blog! Find more at: http://lauralovesbest.com

Mmmm! Mott’s Cinnamon Applesauce is amazing! It is my new favorite snack to have with my coffee – the flavors blend perfectly together! I take a bite of the applesauce, then a sip of my coffee, and perfection results.

Mott’s Cinnamon Applesauce is also convenient to eat as a snack since it comes in a snack pack with 6 individual cups.  Each cup equals one fruit serving and gives you 20% of your recommended vitamin C for the day.   It’s also fat, cholesterol and sodium free!

My mom and dad even enjoy them as snacks , as does my daughter19.   It’s really perfect for my dad who can only eat soft things.  Mott’s states that they hand pick their apples and make the applesauce from their special Mott’s family recipe.  That must be why it tastes so good.

I just know I love it with my coffee!

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SummerMash SF


Last night, July 15, 2008, I attended mashable.coms SummerMash SF, and the event was a smashing success! I went with my entourage, of course. That consisted of Angela.

SummerMash was held at the club, Mighty, in San Francisco. Mighty was the perfect spot for it, except for the tiny step you had to watch out for mid-floor! A DJ was spinning the night away for atmosphere, though no dancing occurred until the end of the night and it was scattered at best. Tables were set up around the room by the sponsors, which included Mashable(naturally), speakTECH, Sun Startup Essentials, Yoono, MySites, Pubmatic, Yuku, SocialRadi.us.com, and Stickam. Author, Rohit Bhargava, was also on hand signing copies of his book, *Personality not included, the ultimate guide to marketing with authenticity.

Many of the booths were handing out schwag! woo! I scored a nice big coffee mug from PubMatic, the leader in ad network optimization. A lazer and LED pen from, I think, SocialRadi.us.com. Sun Startup Essentials were giving away luggage tags and OpenSolaris and NetBeans 6.1 CD’s. Mashable was serving the drinks in their logo printed plastic cups that changed color with cold, kind of like a mood ring! Yoono.com handed out stickers and yoono blue armbands. My favorite score was a webcam given to me by adorable Steven Fruchter, CEO of Stickam.com. The webcam has a built in microphone and light!

The event invite on eventbrite.com had mentioned food and drinks included. My only disappointment of the night was that this did not exactly turn out to be the case. The only food available was a bowl of candy at one of the booths. Near the end of the night it was announced that the booths had free drink tickets to give away, but by that time I had my limit, since I was driving, and ended up giving them away.

All in all Angela and I had a fantastic time. I met and took pictures with many of the CEO’s, including mashable.com’s Pete Cashmere. (Who I voted for in Jane Porricelli’s blog on the hottest male blogger’s on the net: http://www.momgenerations.com/blogs/jane/index.php/2008/07/10/who-is-the-hottest-male-blogger-its-double-standard-time/) Pete didn’t win, but I would date him if he was 20 years older.

I was interviewed by Stickam.com about my soon to beta launch site, http://thesmartmomsnetwork.com and also about this blog. THAT was fun! I can get used to that! The interview hasn’t been uploaded yet, but I will post the link here when it is.

The night was fun and best of all I met some fantastic people. It was a great networking event. I payed $22 for my ticket, and $6 a piece + $1 tip for my two Mashable cups of white wine, but it was well worth it. If Mashable does another event in the SF area, count me in!

(And someone find out if Pete Cashmore’s father is single.)

More pics of the event can be found here: http://flickr.com/photos/mashable/sets/72157606202125941/

All pictures above can be clicked to enlarge w/further descriptions.

Congress Twitters!

Speaker of the House...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Congress Twitters! Is that amazing or what?  Our government is twittering! 

“Congressional debates on the House floor? So 2007 (or 1787 for that matter). Earlier this month, Congress witnessed its first Twitter debate, when Speaker Pelosi’s 30 Something Working Group Member Rep. Tim Ryan (@timryan) challenged Rep. John Culberson to a Twitter-off. The Congressmen used Twitter, the micro-blogging site that lets users post 140 character status updates, for a real-time debate from the House floor about gas prices, oil drilling, and extending unemployment insurance for Americans looking for work” (Nancy Pelosi’s newsletter)

What will be next? Will the new President Twitter? Barrack Obama does already! Or maybe it’s someone on his staff, but his name does post regular Twitter updates. Social media is joining the big time! woo!

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UPDATE:  Since I wrote this piece I have seen multiple articles about this including a site collecting support to let Congress Twitter:  http://letourcongresstweet…..  Of course I am now a member!

Facebook Geek Girl Dinner


Just to let you know…I started blogging on BlogHer.com. I’m a bit confused on where I want to blog. Bear with me. Or would that be bare with me…yes…that would be it…not the animal…lol…

Okay-to start off with their was no dinner-but there were appetisers. Last night I went to the Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner #2: Sponsored by Facebook. It was held at Ettiquette Lounge in San Francisco. It was such a fun event! To start with I didn’t know if I was geeky enough to go. I mean I blog…I’m starting a website (The Smart Moms Network) but…I’m not the developer. I’ve taken beginning programming and networking but that was as far as I got. I realized it wasn’t my thing. I asked Retro Audrey, one of the event organizers if I would fit in and she said yes, come. I knew a lot of these women were hardcore programmers so I wasn’t sure, but I thought it would be a really interesting event and possibly a good networking opportunity.

I brought along Holly, who is even less geeky than I, but very fun to hang with. We met at the parking lot and walked over. I fell out of the parking lot area and skinned my knee. I had blood dripping down, but somehow my supersonic L’eggs pantyhose escaped without a tear, run or hole!?!

At Ettiquette we were greeted with a red carpet entrance! Upon entering we were given cool name badges and two drink tickets. I was rather impressed that the drink tickets were for anything we wanted, not just cheap beer or wine! Facebook rocks! I had a raspberry mojito and a pandora’s box. Both were excellent! The bartenders at Ettiquette rock, too!

It was a small venue with approximately 200 in attendance, I was told. The panel included:
» Ruchi Sanghvi (Principal Product Manager, Facebook)
» Julie Zhuo (Product Designer, Platform, Facebook)
» Alina Libova (Founder and Developer, Easter Eggs)
» Holly Liu (User Experience and Co-Founder, Watercooler)
» Annie Chang (Co-Founder, LOLapps)

Moderator:
Sandra Liu Huang (Program Manager, Facebook)

Introduction:
Cyan Banister (Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Zivity)

All the women were amazing and accomplished. The sassy and scandalous Cyan Banister(http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/29/1938media-interview-with-zivity-cofounder-cyan-banister-guest-appearance-by-scoble-at-end/), co-founder and editor-in-chief at Zivity started us off with her introduction. I had to wonder why Facebook hasn’t hired Alina Libova, a UC Berkeley college student and the founder and developer of the Easter Eggs application? I snagged her email address in case I am in need of her skills someday for one of my websites! There were plenty of women headhunters from Facebook who seemed to be looking to hire. I would LOVE to work for Facebook, but Palo Alto is a bit too far of a drive for me.

The panel spoke about their accomplishments and the challenges and rewards of being a woman in a male dominated field. Listening to Ruchi gave us a taste of what it must have been like to be part of the beginning with Facebook. The women also spoke of the importance of user feedback and how immediate it can be on the internet. User feedback kept Annie Chang busy changing her apps to meet the users wants when she was heavily involved with LOLapps.

Right now I can only imagine how exciting it is to be on the ground floor as a website launches, and to get that user feedback and see your site grow. Soon I won’t have to imagine though, it will be my turn to be part of that as The Smart Moms Network launches, and I can’t wait!

After the panel talks and discussion we broke up for networking. It was a little difficult networking because no one seemed prepared for it. No one had business cards handy. The women speakers in the panel all kept saying that their business cards were in their backpacks in the back. (Apparently hardcore geek girls carry backpacks instead of purses.) Back to the bar for my second drink. Yes, we tipped the bartenders well! There was a spot for Geeky pictures with props, so Holly and I had some fun with some geek glasses. We also enjoyed the appetisers, the wasabi shrimp being my favs. A DJ was on hand through the night, though more for atmosphere than dancing. I recognized Retro Audrey right away from her Facebook photo, it was fun to say hello to her, she said she recognised me too!

To end the night we were presented with schwag!!! Did we get pocket protectors? No! Our schwag included a soft American Apparel lavender w/purple trim T-shirt with the Facebook Developer Garage – Geek Girl Dinner logo and a nifty wifi detector keychain! Retro Audrey was handing them out. After everyone had been through the line there were a few left over and she offered me an extra t-shirt for my daughter! She was a doll!

I can’t wait for their next event! Facebook and the Geek Girls did it high class all the way.

I love being a geek girl! Where’s my backpack!?!

P.S. I ALSO love blog comments! Leave one, please!

photo credits ~ Laura N Holly standing, Laura with another geek girl, Laura and Holly, geek panel from the back of the room photos by Icka Boo. Geek panel speaks, geek panel geeky, geek room, retro audrey, Etiquette, Ettiquette Inside by Vanessa Naylon.

Family Changes

So my family has been going through a lot of changes. Changes like me being laid-off and home all the time, changes in the eating habits of the kids, and changes like me starting to go to the gym.

It’s been interesting being home. I thought I wanted it. I thought it would be the most wonderful thing in the world and I would get SO much done. The truth is that I’m bored sometimes and lonely too because I have all this free time and the kids work and have their own friends and so I’m home alone at loose ends. I’ve finally started to work on the house, and boy does it need it! I’ve given a bunch of stuff away to freecycle.org in the last two days, cleaned my porch mostly, I still need to vacuum it though. It’s really hard for me to get rid of stuff. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been a packrat. Part of it may be having gone through a divorce you feel like you lose so much that you don’t want to let anything you do have go. But I’ve always been like this to some degree. I read a book recently, “Clear Your Clutter with FENG SHUI” by Karen Kingston, and I get it, I get why it is important to clear your clutter and how it could improve your life. It’s just really hard to let go of stuff still. Some things are harder than others of course. I can let go of the dress that I paid 99 cents for at the thrift store and really didn’t end up fitting me that well anyways, but the really cute dress that I bought at Macy’s for a wedding that is too small for me right now but might fit me after I work out for a couple of months, that I don’t know if I can get rid of. I guess I’ll start with the easy things. I thought I would get more done, but I’ve found myself spending hours upon hours on sitting in front of my computer screen. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve made some new friends, but I need to rebalance my time management! That’s my goal right now.

Our eating habits have gone through some changes since I’ve been home. To start off with when the kids were little and I was a stay-at-home mom or SAHM I used to cook 6 nights a week, and one night a week we would go out or get fast food. Since I have been working two jobs, I am lucky to cook one night a week, I’m usually too tired and I usually had the money to just go out or pick something up. Now that I’m home, I’ve started cooking again every night. I’ve had some hits and misses in the cooking department, but I’m rediscovering how much I love to cook! The thing is, now that I’m getting the hang of cooking every night again, my kids have decided to change their eating habits. My 22 year old son has now become a vegan, and my 19 year old daughter is currently on a juice fast. The outcome of this has been that the lovely meatloaf cooked in a bag with veges that I made two nights ago, I have had to eat by myself for two nights, and now I’m tired of it and throwing the rest out. Apparently, I’m going to need to learn to cook vegan or be eating alone. This should be interesting.

Lastly, the gym. I used to go to the gym faithfully. I used to read workout books and Self Magazine (or is it Shape) and be hardcore about going to the gym 5 days a week. I worked out with free weights and machines 2 days a week curcuit training and then did aerobics classes the other three days. I was in fantastic shape! And then I stopped. And then the last 15 years I guess I have been working two jobs and sometimes going to college and there just didn’t seem to be any way to fit in a work out regularly, so I didn’t do it at all. Last year I joined 24 Hour Fitness and planned to go work-out with my daughter. I’ve gone three times, and two of those three times were in the last week. I’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes and they told me I should lose some weight and exercise (I always have to check how to spell the word exercise, I want to make it excersize or something else), anyway, I need to be exercising. So, now I’ve started. I went twice with my daughter in the last week. One day we just did the stairmaster, the next day we worked out on the weight machines and also the stairmaster. It’s all starting to come back to me. The things I used to know, the techniques, the enjoyment of working out and being fit! The thing is, I don’t know if I can keep this all up or not once I start back to work. I guess I’ll cross that hurdle when I come to it. How do you balance work, fitness, and all the other stuff you have to do?

Now the 22 year old son brought home 3 yoga/meditation DVD’s. Who knows what my house will be like next week?

Chez Panisse

Yesterday, my friend Angela invited me to come visit her. She lives in Albany, next to Berkeley. I drove over and we decided to go out to lunch to this place that I can’t remember the name of, but she said it was across the street from Chez Panisse. So, I said, “What about just going to Chez Panisse?”. Angela said, “Well, I checked on that online and it said that you need to make reservations about a month in advance”. Angela is getting a degree at UC Berkeley (that I don’t remember the name of but it has something to do with food and wine). Angela also just finished reading “Alice Waters and Chez Panisse” by Thomas McNamee. (I can’t figure out how to underline the title here in WordPress – forgive me, I do know better). In any case I knew Angela would love to eat there between her major and just finishing the book, so we drove downtown Berkeley and found a parking spot and put 10 quarters in the meter. Berkeley is so cool and quirky. There were people picnicking in the grass in the meridian of the street. Lots of them! With cars driving by on both sides of them, like they were in a park! Most of them were eating pizza from a nearby place. I was dying for Alexandra’s digital camera! I had asked Angela to bring hers, but the battery was dead, so no luck there either.

We decided to try Chez Panisse before going over to the other restaurant, and they took us right in! We went upstairs to the cafe, which I am told is a bit less formal and pricey than the restaurant.

We were seating in a very tight spot, very close to another table, but we didn’t mind, everyone was very friendly. They first ask if you would care for still or sparkling water and they bring it the table in a pretty etched glass decanter. It says Chez Panisse on one side, and Still on the other. There was a wonderful flavorful brown bread that was served with some very yellow butter. Angela said that the guy that started Acme Bakery nearby had worked at Chez Panisse and Alice Waters had helped him get started, so we imagined that the bread was probably from Acme Bakery. That was where our bread from Julia’s Kitchen had been from, too. The busser girl told us the butter was from grass fed cows and that it was yellower because it had more carotene. Wow. I guess I didn’t even know what color butter was supposed to be. I’ve grown up on the pale butter made from grain fed cows. It’s kind of a shame.

We ordered a bottle of rose wine that was rather inexpensive and Angela said she had read it was one of Alice Waters’ favorites. It was perfect! Our server was apparently in training because another server came over to open our wine while instructing her. Later I saw her trying to open the wine for another table. I wanted to help. (I could have taught her much better…)

We shared an appetiser. (I’m on a budget) It was a salad with fried goat cheese. Angela once again said that she had read that it was one of the classic dishes at the restaurant. Next we share an entree. There was a boneless chicken that they said was pressed as it was cooked to make it crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. It was wonderful! As were the herbed peas. I’ve never had better peas. Honestly. And then there were some homemade potato chips as well. So good! Lastly, dessert. I had a peach and raspberry tart with vanilla bean ice cream and Angela had the fresh fruit, queen anne cherries and a plumcot. We were both in heaven! Truly a meal to remember!

In between all of this, I forgot to mention that since I knew I was going to be near Chez Panisse I thought I would bring along a resume and drop it off, since I am on the market at the moment. After we were seated for a few minutes I handed our server my resume and asked her if she could please give it to her manager. A few minutes later she brought it back to me and said it would probably be better to wait until I was leaving and give it to a manager myself, that way they might have time to sit down with and talk with me. Then, once again, a few minutes later a woman comes up to our table and says, “Hi, I’m Renee, did you want me to look over your resume?” I gave it to her of course and we continued our lunch. When we finished I checked to see if she was available, but the said she was in a meeting and had my number and would call me. Honestly, that is probably for the best, I don’t know what kind of interview I would have given after drinking half a bottle of wine!

Angela and I stopped and she got a couple of cheeses and some bread and salami and a lovely cold bottle of prosecco and we went back to her place, where her son Elijah and boyfriend Jesse were, and watched a French foreign film I had rented from Netflix, called Avenue Montaigne. Not Amelie, but very cute. We had the best French themed day!

Chez Panisse didn’t call today. Maybe tomorrow.

P.S. I LOVE blog comments!

Earthquake and a Chemical Factory Explode!

What a week! And it’s only Wednesday! Yesterday an earthquake and now today a chemical factory explodes incredibly close to my house!

Last night I was in the middle running my meeting for RW Investments, a women’s investment group, and we felt a small earthquake that went on for two or three seconds. The earthquake happened at 7:29 PM with a magitude of 3.9 and was centered near Vallejo, California. We all just sat there rather calmly and said, “Hey, I think that was an earthquake!?” Katherine Klein, who is adorably 7 months pregnant, jumps up and runs to a doorway! We all look at her, and she looks at us. And we start laughing and say, “Is this your first earthquake?” and she says, “yesss!”. She is a little afraid and rather shaken up, but we assure her that if it was going to be a bad earthquake that it would go on for a longer time and that you would have time to run out of the building. She said that she felt the baby moving and then realized that she was moving too! Leo Martinez, our guest speaker for the night, was standing and didn’t notice it at all, only the people sitting did.

It struck me rather funny how we all reacted so calmly to it except Katherine. We really don’t have earthquakes often, but I have felt them every few years. The worst one that I’ve felt was the time the bridge collapsed in San Francisco. That one went on long and hard enough that I grabbed my baby son out of his crib and ran out to the street. That was a bit scary, but I had absolutely no damage. Whenever an earthquake is reported on the news my mom’s phone lights up with calls from her relatives in Tennesee. They are all afraid we’ve fallen into the ocean. Just kind of funny how we take it in stride, while the rest of the country is frightened by the thought of it.

So now, today, I am cooking dinner, and my neighbor, Cathy Reisinger, calls me and asks if she can come by and drop something off to me. I say sure, and I hear her yell outside, so I walk out and she yells, “Laura! Come here! You have to see this!”. I walk out and straight down at the end of our street, though you can tell it’s in the distance, is extremely black smoke rising up in a colomn. Then we start hearing noises! “Bang…bang bang! Bang!”. This continues on intermittently. We are both trying to think what is located in that direction and what is blowing up making those bang sounds? We consider the gas station and a Burger King. We both go back inside our homes and she calls me a few minutes later and tells me to turn on the news. KCRA 3 news is reporting that the Ashland Chemical Plant is in the middle of a 3-alarm fire. The fire started in a tanker trailer, which may have been what we heard exploding. I heard a woman on the news saying that the fire smelled like tires. They evacuated nearby residents and sent them to a shelter. We were pretty nearby I’ll tell you, but luckily the wind wasn’t blowing in our direction. I’m sure it’s less than 5 minutes drive away from me. They told the rest of the local residents to stay inside. I have been staying inside! They are saying that the chemicals are “relatively” non-toxic. “Relatively” doesn’t make me feel very good to be honest with you. Reports say that the fire was put out at 8:30 PM, but it’s about 9:15 PM now and I still hear helicopters flying around constantly.

So, it’s been a rather eventful week, and it’s only Wednesday! Here’s to the rest of the week going out like a lamb.

UPDATE: Just now at 9:30 PM I received an automated phone call from the Fairfield Police and Fire Departments saying that the fire has been contained, air quality is good, and we all can resume our normal activities.

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