Monday, December 25, 2006

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!


Wow! It's been quite a while since we've updated this blog! And, a lot has happened since Pierce entered the world. Let's review...

In early November, Sarah treated Jason to a delightful four-day weekend in NYC to celebrate Jason's birthday! We ate at some fantastic restaurants (including Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill, at which Jason exclaimed, "Goddamn, this is good food!), had a cupcake expedition, shopped like movie stars, and caught the Broadway version of "Wicked!" We also caught up with Sutt, who took us to the finer speakeasys and "underground" bars of the Greenwich/SoHo area, where drinking vodka out of tea cups is the latest craze. Sutt said that it has something to do with Prohibition, but we're not sure if we're buying that.

Next on our list was Thanksgiving in Southern California. Well, actually the days following Thanksgiving were in Southern CA. Thanksgiving day was spent in a hotel in Oxnard, eating microwave mac-n-cheese and chips and salsa from the 7-11, but that's another story...

The weekend was spent with Amy, Alan, Kaia, and Caleb at their soon-to-be house in Dana Point. We watched the sunsets...






Built a fire at the beach...











And even built a fire at Amy and Alan's future house (although, that just consisted of turning the gas "on" and throwing in a match).








Finally, we spent our first Christmas in our h
ouse in Pacifica. We've actually lived here for about 18 months, but this is the first time we actually spent Christmas Day in the Bay Area. Although we missed the cold (rain) snow that we grew up with on the East Coast, it was nice to have a warm Christmas!

After opening gifts, we took a stroll on the beach and watched the surfers! It's quite a change from a Chesapeake/Johnstown Christmas, but we think that we're going to stick it out here for at least a while longer! ;-)

We hope that everyone had a great holiday, and that all of your New Year wishes come true!

XOXO




Monday, October 23, 2006

Boy Power!

I am happy to report that Jason and I are the proud Aunt and Uncle of Pierce Schiflet, born Oct. 16 to my ecstatic brother Craig and his wife Lorye. Our family is officially trending "boy" with Pierce being the third, and incredibly adorable, grandson!

Lorye spent a full day in the hospital before Pierce was ready to meet the world... and apparently even then he wasn't ready to announce his arrival as Craig had to poke him a bunch to even get him to make any noise! In true-boy fashion, Pierce is proving to be laid-back and easy-going... much like his Dad.


Lorye & Craig are adjusting nicely, and benefitting from doting grandparents and family in these first weeks as new parents. Jason & I will meet Pierce in person this Christmas, while my sister and Alli will see him in November. Ty and Jake will meet their new cousin this winter, and I can only wonder about all the things they'll tell him about being member of this family! Enjoy the pics, more to come (as soon as Craig has time!).

Sunday, October 08, 2006

By Land, Sea AND Air!


What a busy weekend! I don't want to mis-lead you, we didn't actually fly anywhere, but we did watch the Blue Angels and to me, that counts (and it also made for a catchy title!).

On Saturday, Jason and I took our kayaks out on the Bay and paddled around in the rip currents by the North side of the GG Bridge. OK, I'm being a little dramatic, but by the time we got out of the water the waves were huge and the current was super-strong! We had to do a lot of back-paddling to stay in one place, but we managed to hang out for an hour or so, catching the airshow in town for San Francisco's Fleet Week. We took these pics from our boats, but if you're really interested in this stuff, check out the SF Chronicle's photos - they are very cool - http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2006/10/08/FLEETWEEK.TMP&o=0

We had a really good time just hanging out on the water and dodging a few hundred boats (all bigger than us, of course!) but we also had a great view! Mind you, the Blue Angels kept flying overhead and around in circles, making me sea-sick after a while b/c I was following their movements while bouncing up and down in my boat!

Today, Jason completed his first-ever organized sporting event - I mean, unless you consider bowling a sport?! Jason ran in the San Jose Rock and Roll half marathon and crossed the finish line right on target, and still smiling too.

Despite sore shins, Jason persevered through 13 miles of pavement - all before 11 in the morning! Why wasn't I running, you ask? Well, someone had to document the event with pictures so I stayed behind, very selfless of me, I know - ha ha!

Luckily Jason had a few friends from work that also ran, and he and Tiffany ran the entire race together, crossing the finish line like pros!

Congratulations Jason, I am so proud of you!

Engaged!





Mark and Michelle (and Maggie & Sarah) hosted a fabulous engagement party for us a few weeks ago... we got really lucky with "summer-like" weather and thanks to Jason's early-morning scouting, we ended up with a primo picnic spot!

Except for a few hiccups before the party started (how's the bumper, Mark?), I think everyone had a great time enjoying the sun and scenery, while eating homemade cioppino (with clams, mussells, fish, shrimp - the works!), scallops wrapped in prosciutto, fresh sourdough bread and salads, and last - but absolutely not least - a scrumptious carrot cake to top it all off.

This was really the first chance we've had to hang out with all our friends since we got engaged, and it was really so much fun to just relax with everyone and catch up. As Jason usually does when a party is over, he asked as the sun finished setting: "where'd everyone go?"... as if seven hours for a picnic or a party is not nearly long enough! But I think it is just a testament to the fact that we have such great friends - we hate it when they do actually have to be on their way. Everyone is so busy these days (including us), and it seems like a really special event when we can all take an afternoon and just hang out for a few hours. Oh, and did I mention the multiple cases of wine and beer? That really helps with the "relax" part!! :-)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Career #24: Winemaker

Some of you may have heard me talk about CrushPad, the San Fran outfit that helps you make your own wine. You choose the grapes, you pick the wood for the barrel - basically, you work with their winemaker to determine everything throughout the whole process. Check them out at www.crushpadwine.com.

Well, I just signed up to make a barrel (25 cases!) of pinot noir with some guys from work. The plan (i.e. the only way to get Sarah to support this expense) was that this was going to be the wine for our wedding. Ahhh - how romantic!

Well, our first meeting with the winemaker was this past Saturday. We sat with him for a few hours to discuss things like brix, acidity, crush level, saignee, and cap management. All things that, previously, the people at winery tasting rooms said as I guzzled their latest bottling, not paying attention.

We chose our aging vessel (a 50% new French oak zebra), our target alcohol (14.4 - for a good buzz), our target free SO2 (25-30 ppm, give or take a few ppm), and our aging (9-11 months), and about 50 other things. At that point, something clicked. I'm no math major (in Engineering school, we quickly lost numbers and went to all letters, derivatives, functions, and LaGrangians...), but I was able to use my fingers to see that from September 9th to June 23rd was a bit less than required by the winemaking process. And, the grapes have yet to be harvested!

Uh oh.

I guess we won't be having my handmade pinot at our wedding... :-(

My proposal - and give me your feedback on this - is to instead roll some of this experience into our wedding day in other ways. What about vows that say, "Sarah, I promise to love you in sickness and in heath, in low pH and in high, through malolactic fermentation and extended maceration..." (I have yet to pass that by Sarah.)

Anyway, these are pictures of our grapes - pinot noir from the Amber Ridge vineyard in Sonoma - still hanging on the vine, taunting me and saying, "I got you in trouble!"

Just think, only 9-11 months + harvesting time + fermentation time + bottling time + whatever else time until we can drink it! Happy New Year 2008!




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Monday, July 10, 2006

Kayaking the City (i.e. Geek meets Outdoors meets City)

Since Sarah jetted out of town to London for the week, I figured that it would be a perfect opportunity to take on a manly kayak trip. Not a 20 minute "let's just get out on the water" trip that we normally take, but a real, long kayak paddle.

OK, that's not the real story. The real story is that Sarah makes fun of me every time I pull out my GPS. So, with her safely 6,000 miles away, I was able to GPS to my heart's content.

So, I set out from AT&T Park (PacBell, SBC, whatever), and headed towards Ferry Plaza.

Here's a nice picture of me off the coast of The Gap headquarters. Now there's a site you don't normally see when kayaking! (I apologize for the poor photo quality, but my Razr phone only does so well...)







After about an hour of paddling into some stiff headwinds, I finally made it up to Ghiradelli Square. Here's another nice picture of me (OK, the tip of my kayak) looking at Ghiradelli Square from the water.












Finally, the best part of the trip happened long after I was off of the water: downloading my waypoints from the GPS into the mapping software! Sweet, eh? The yellow line with the black dots is my route, in case you were wondering.



In case you need some stats, check out the table to the left. Oh yeah, that was well over 9 miles. 9.07, to be exact!

Max speed? Yeah, that was 5.6 mph.

GPS? Worth every penny!






Of course, I do miss Sarah. Well, maybe...

;-)
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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Ferrari Central

For Men Only!

A few weeks ago, I dragged Sarah to Infineon Raceway up in Napa to check out the Ferrari Challenge. Basically, it was rich dudes who raced their own Ferraris, and car geeks like myself drooling in the stands. Below are some highlights.






































Thursday, May 25, 2006

Smurf-to-Breakers!

San Fransicso is a strange place. Where else can you see several Elvis (Elvi?), the US Jump Roping Team, a pink elephant, way too many hairy naked old guys, and 62,000 other people drinking their way along a 12K (7.46 mile) race?

Bay to Breakers is an annual race in San Francisco that began in 1912 as a way to get the city back on it's feet (literally) after the 1906 earthquake. That race has transformed over the years into "a testament to San Francisco’s uniqueness and audacity," as you will see.

This year, we just couldn't stop our inner Smurfs. We had to race! A friend of Sarah's put together a bid for the Guinness Book of World Records that was something to the theme of "the most people dressed up as Smurfs." Since there was not a previous record in this category, I think that we may have it locked up (we'll keep you posted).

In this year's race, Gilbert Okari, 27, of Kenya (shocking!), was the first man to finish. He did so in 34 minutes, 20 seconds. For comparison, it took our group 53 minutes and 35 seconds just to get to mile 2.

Anyway, here are some of the highlights:







Sarah, getting all smurfed up prior to the race.











The smurfs gather...















The giant mushroom (housing DJ Gargamel and 6 taps of smurf-tastic brew)!













Brainy Smurf (Calvin from Canada) and Sassette Smurf finally make it to Mile 2! Whew! Only 5.46 more miles to go!











That damn mushroom only ran on smurf-power!














And smurfs weren't the only celebrities there!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Happy New Year!


We hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas, and a few days off from work to get some R&R. Jay and I took the non-traditional approach to the holidays this year and traveled to Europe to celebrate Christmas, New Year’s and my birthday (yes, it’s an official holiday now!). After a grueling 12 hour flight, we landed in London on Christmas Eve morning. We explored the city and had afternoon tea at a swank hotel by Hyde Park … later that night we attended the midnight service at Westminster Abbey, complete with carols from the choir! On Christmas we exchanged the gifts we brought with us and called our families to say hello... here I am getting ready to call the kids!

The next two days we saw the sights and walked almost the entire city on foot, popping into pubs whenever we got cold, or in Jay’s case, thirsty for a Guinness.

Next we traveled by train to Paris and on to Nice… the train was fun, Jay had his face stuck to the window for most of the trip. I used the time to relax and read a great book (thanks Sherri!), which felt luxurious - no email, no phone, no IM = heaven! Nice was fantastic, the wine and open air markets were really amazing and we only wish we had more time to shop and eat there! The architecture was just what you would expect and was most impressive around sunset when the colors were magnified by the pinkish hues of the sky. Luckily the Matisse museum was open and we walked through town and up into the hills to check it out - very impressive, I think we actually learned something on this trip!
The water and beaches were beautiful (although rocky) and the sun was out every day (a nice change from London!). We also visited Cannes and Monaco, doing lots of window shopping at the high-end stores! The only place we really bought anything was at Lenotre, a chocolate shop that we couldn’t resist. Jay claims the ├ęclair he had was the best “confection” of his life. And yes, real men do eat ├ęclairs!! I was happy to find birthday cotton candy in Monaco, my favorite dessert!

Back in Paris for the last leg of our trip, we set out for more chocolate and were not disappointed… we’re still savoring the last few pieces of our loot. I also had the best cocktail of my life at the Four Seasons hotel (naturally). It was also by far the most expensive cocktail of my life. But since it was my birthday, I went ahead and had two! At this point in the trip, Jay was drinking soda so I rationalized a second pricey drink on my part was completely justifiable. So, you’re probably asking yourself “why was Jay drinking soda?” Well, let’s just say the foie gras from the night before didn’t agree with him and as of today, it’s been about six or seven days since Jay’s really eaten. We even took a field trip to the ER near our hotel to have him checked out… my French was a bit flimsy as I couldn’t recall learning any medical terms in school!!

So I guess if you boil it all down, the trip was really all about searching out great food and drinks, which probably isn’t too surprising to anyone out there… best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy 2006!