Posts in "California"
A #LetsHoliday Dinner in Sausalito with Whole Foods
#LetsHoliday Dinner with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian

A couple weeks ago I was invited to a holiday dinner event in Sausalito with Whole Foods, and while going to events like that on my own is usually way out of my comfort zone, I was so excited to meet some new people and enjoy a glass of wine or two with a waterfront view of San Francisco—I mean how bad could that be? And it really was as dreamy as I imagined it would be.

We usually just drive right through Sausalito on our way to Sonoma, so it was nice to stop and walk around a little on my way to Casa Madrona, the hotel and spa where the event was being held. I don’t get very much alone time these days so I really enjoyed every minute of the journey from my house to the hotel—it took about an hour so I made a latte before I left and spent my drive finishing up a couple half-listened-to episodes of Pod Save America and The Dream (is anyone else listening to The Dream? Holy cow—but I guess that’s a whole other blog post).

The party took place on a gorgeous terrace on one of the upper levels of the hotel, with hors d’oeuvre stations scattered throughout and a couple beautiful tables outside styled with truly lovely place settings. I was given a name tag, a glass of sparkling wine, and a little plate with an assortment of caviar upon walking through the door, and I was officially in relaxation mode. Cheese, oysters, persimmon toast, and that view! What more could you ask for on a Sunday evening in December?

#LetsHoliday Dinner with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian
#LetsHoliday Dinner with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian

When I lived in Charlotte I got to go to a lot of events with food and lifestyle bloggers, and it was always so nice to feel like I was part of that world. The Bay Area is so much bigger—it took me a long time to feel like I had a place here, and sometimes I’m still looking for it, so it really meant a lot to get to experience a fun media night with a bunch of other food-obsessed writers and photographers. I’m definitely an introvert, but sometimes I crave that sense of community. (Michelle from Nom Nom Paleo was there and I fangirled so hard I basically just ignored her all night. Maybe next time.)

#LetsHoliday Dinner with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian
#LetsHoliday Dinner with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian
WFM x Casa Madrona (58 of 182).JPG
#LetsHoliday with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian
#LetsHoliday Dinner with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian

The food was so good.

Dinner consisted of prime rib with horseradish cream, roasted acorn squash with maple and hazelnuts, potato gratin with truffles, cumin-spiced carrots, and some of the best flaky rolls I’ve ever had. I was too full for pie but snagged a cranberry white chocolate brown butter cookie before I left, which was so good (I also found a second one in my swag bag which didn’t last very long). Everything was so special and decadent that I almost forgot that I could re-create everything (or just buy those COOKIES!) from my local Whole Foods.

They also served a really interesting red wine at dinner that I actually plan to get for our own Christmas celebrations next week (I think it’s the Sean Thackrey Pleiades Red Blend but I’m going to double check to be sure—I think another taste is in order).

#LetsHoliday Dinner with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian

All in all, it was a pretty special night. I hadn’t really planned to write a full blog post about the event but these photos were just too beautiful not to share! And I really love the idea of beef for Christmas—if you’re celebrating the holiday, what’s on your menu for next week?

#LetsHoliday Dinner with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian
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September in California
September in California | Freckled Italian

This morning I woke up early, after a night of nursing and infant Tylenol and rocking a teething baby. Usually if Sophie wakes up early I'll change her, feed her, and put her back down and we all sleep another hour or two, but today I felt simultaneously restless and well-rested, so going back to sleep felt risky--I really hate trying to sneak in an early morning nap and waking up feeling worse than I did when I was awake earlier.

We've been leaving Ender out at night instead of putting him in his crate, and when I returned to our bedroom he had snuck in from across the hall and curled up into my warm spot in the bed. He was sleeping with his eyes tight so shut, a thing he does when he feels like he can finally relax. "The baby's not crying, dad's right here next to me, mom is back...ahhhh"--I can practically hear it in the voice we do for him.

He is definitely not getting as much exercise as he needs these days. We hired a dog walker a few times a week which helps, but I have this annoying thing where I feel like I should be able to do it all. Sophie is getting too big to wear while I walk him and I haven't mastered the leash and stroller combination yet, so if it doesn't happen before she wakes up or after she goes to bed, he and I don't usually go on walks together anymore, which makes me sad--that used to really be our thing.

So I leashed him up, put on a sweater, and snuck out of a sleepy house with my dog--into the quiet, early morning; sun still not quite up yet, cars still in the driveways, misty haze hovering, chilly air fragrant with eucalyptus.

We moved into a new house two months ago, and even though it's only a mile away from the other one, the entire vibe is different. Orange trees along the sidewalks have been traded for figs and apples, and I always walk Ender down a long road that's lined with eucalyptus trees--a plant with a look and scent that bring me back to being a kid in Half Moon Bay for chilly summers with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Sometimes you can't smell them very well, but when the air is cold and wet (the way it so often is in the late summer and early fall here in the Bay Area), you can't ignore it.

I pulled my sweater closer around me and started thinking about how two years ago we were on the road, leaving hot and muggy North Carolina and passing through Tennessee, Alabama, and Kansas, before waking up in chilly Colorado on the first day of autumn, then continuing on through Utah, bundling up for another early morning walk in 40-degree Lake Tahoe, and finally arriving in Silicon Valley. It was such an adventure, just me and Rob and Ender. It literally felt like we were traveling toward our new life and a new season, as every state got chillier and chillier and we rearranged our luggage, trading our shorts for sweaters.

And now Sophie is here, our next great adventure, and I'm beside myself with excitement and a little nostalgia as her first autumn approaches along with her first birthday. Life in California is so new to us still sometimes, but I have childhood memories here that run deep.

I can already picture her toddling around with a little pom-pom hat on her strawberry blonde head--riding a train on a farm, reaching out her tiny hand at a petting zoo, picking out a pumpkin in Half Moon Bay on a late September afternoon; feeling that coastal breeze on her little face and smelling the eucalyptus in the air like I did before her for years and years and years.

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In Which We Move Again
In Which We Move Again | Freckled Italian

We're packing again.

At the end of May, just a day before our big trip back east, I woke up to a text from our property manager saying she was sorry, but the owners of our house wanted it back at the end of our lease. I sat in bed and cried, not because I love the house but because I am so incredibly tired of moving. And because finding housing in the Bay Area feels impossible sometimes, and I've never had to do it with a 7-month-old baby before.

But I also cried a little because I love the house.

Our property manager is comically bad at her job. I laugh about it because I don't think it's good for my blood pressure to do anything else. She ignores texts, refuses to get broken things repaired (once she told me to "YouTube it" when our garbage disposal stopped working), and regularly leaves the country without telling us how to reach her. The base of our front gate is held in place with good vibes and bricks I carefully spaced out along the edge.

And yet, this is the house we brought Sophie home to that Thanksgiving afternoon. Where I labored for hours days before. Where we spent countless early mornings and late nights on the couch feeding her all winter. Where she refused to sleep. Where she slept through the night for the first time. The first place she ever crawled. We crammed a lot of memories into this place.

I was packing up the books in the nursery the other day and had to take a moment to sit in that rocking chair where I would hold her in one arm as she nursed, my other hand holding my phone and watching The Big Family Cooking Showdown at 2:00 or 3:00 or 4:00 AM. At the time it was all I could do to not nod off, but now that the newborn haze has lifted and I actually sleep 6-8 hours every night I look back and think man, that was a beautiful time.

Our new house is bigger and brighter and only 5 minutes away. It has air conditioning and the people who own it live in another house and have no intentions of moving back or selling it. They want us there for as long as we want to be there, and it's probably the first house Sophie will even remember. The first place she'll walk. The first place she'll sleep in her own room.

There are still plenty of firsts.

It's so crazy to me that in September we will have lived in California for as long as we lived in North Carolina. Charlotte felt like home, we miss it, and we always count down the months until we get to visit again. But the Bay Area actually is home. Minneapolis sometimes feels like a distant memory and I wonder when Charlotte might feel the same.

My mom came to visit us last week and while I pumped and Sophie napped she boxed up our kitchen and garage. This is her third time staying with us in this house and it was bizarre to think that the next time she'll be back Sophie might be walking, and that we'll definitely be in a new home. We have a few things we always do when she's here, and after I dropped her off at SFO on Wednesday morning I added a new memory to the bank: of cruising down the San Mateo bridge by myself after dropping a loved one off at the airport, latte in hand, Lana Del Rey blasting through the stereo, the morning air still chilly. It breaks my heart a little every time but somehow I still love it--the same way I think about driving back from the airport to our apartment in snowy Minneapolis every time my brother or mom would come visit. It's just part of the deal.

I could go on and on about the weather here because I'm still not used to it--the disorienting coolness of every morning and evening, making you stop in your tracks and have to actively remind yourself what time of year it is, because it might be June but every night the crisp breeze feels like fall is on the horizon and makes you want to go home and bake a pie. And no matter what house we're in, whether we're moving in or moving out or finally staying put, Rob is there and Sophie is babbling and Ender is curled up on the floor with a bone.

And I'm home.

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