Hi guys. Looking back at my October 2017 photos it dawned on me that we spent much of that month eating out! Food, food, glorious food! It's a no-brainer that breaking bread with your special people is one of the easiest ways to facilitate a ...


October 2017 Little Things and more...

October 2017 Little Things

Hi guys. Looking back at my October 2017 photos it dawned on me that we spent much of that month eating out! Food, food, glorious food! It's a no-brainer that breaking bread with your special people is one of the easiest ways to facilitate a get-together, I guess.

So back in October last year, my dear friend Silvia (we met at uni a lifetime ago) came over to Auckland for a visit (she also has a sister who lives here) and we got together for lunch and a bit of a catch-up. I didn't get a photo of the two of us, but I did snap a picture of my delicious lunch that day. Duh. I think I need to prioritise better in future.

Sidenote: But this sushi was truly sensational. So beautiful and definitely photo-worthy - I couldn't help but take a photo of it. Want to try it? Then head on over to &Sushi - you'll be wowed by the beauty of this food.

We went to the one in Auckland City and I snapped this photo on our way back to our car after lunch. Auckland has some very pretty buildings and churches.

Other October news: Sarah got her hair done.

Also, Jess and I had a lunch date at the waterfront.

We headed down to Dr Rudi's Rooftop Brewing Co. where we enjoyed a bunch of starters while looking out at the yachts and catching up on life. (At this stage Jess was at Uni Halls and living away from home so it was good to be able to chat about what had been happening in her life in more detail than just quick chats on the phone.)

And then I also had a lunch date with Sarah one day in October. This time at one of her favourite places called Fact Tree. Lunch dates are always a good idea and a wonderful chance to connect and get to listen to what is going on in each child's life.

I never did get around to doing a post about Jessica's time at her Auckland University Residence, but suffice to say she spent a very happy second semester at O'Rorke Hall in the City, where she met some very lovely friends and had endless fun (as is the norm for Uni students the world over, I guess). She's back at home now and we'll see how the commuting to the city campus goes this year.

Bailey still enjoys her beach walks:

And then one weekend we had a big family lunch out at the Puhoi Cheese Factory with our family, my mom, Geoff, Colleen, Sam and Evie. Such a yummy lunch and lovely to get up north again after a long time.

Yes, I definitely ate out quite a bit in October last year!

We also spoilt ourselves one night and had dinner at Orphans Kitchen in Grey Lynn with our friends Durk and Helen. Wow, was that a good meal. Very tasty. But I must add that I didn't think it warranted the price tag, to be honest.

Cute decor, though.

After our meal there, we headed off to the Vodka Room, a short walk away and had a quick nightcap before heading home.

That place has some awesome decor too. I was reminded that night that Auckland has some seriously fun places to enjoy an evening out. 

I love a good neon light:

October sure was a month of good eating. And Auckland, you sure have some seriously good restaurants and bars!


Our Trip to San Francisco: Part Three

Hi. I hope you're enjoying my week of San Francisco posts! I'm certainly enjoying doing them as it's a beautiful reminder of the amazing time we had there last year. We've got friends who are visiting there at the moment and I'm wildly jealous.

How I would love to be having a coffee with this cute guy in Little Italy right now, planning our day and chatting about life.

So on this particular day, which we started off at a charming cafe in Little Italy, we decided to take a walk up to Coit Tower (see below). And luckily we had the sustenance of some yummy avo bagels at breakfast because man, the route up to that tower was STEEP and seemingly never-ending. 

It doesn't look very steep in the above picture, but believe me when I say that my calves got a mean workout that morning. 

But it was definitely worth the slog because we were rewarded with these spectacular views of the city from up there:

I couldn't get enough of those views. Can you tell?

Side story - I'm very pleased that we got there early that morning because we found out that the lift up the tower stopped working soon after our group went up. Shoo-ee!! I'm not sure that I would have contemplated climbing all those stairs to the summit, after just having walked up that steep hill. Is all I'm saying. So, thank goodness that lift was working for us!

After taking 3267 photos from up there (and of the amazing murals in that place), we walked back down to the city via the Filbert Steps.

And I would highly recommend taking this route down because not only is it a quaint walk, but it's also a quick route back down that hill, with lots of shade (which was very welcome on the hot day we did that walk).

We then made our way to the:

And got to experience this brilliance:

We sat there for ages listening to those ceramic bowls gently clinking against each other in that little pool and it was one of the most peaceful sounds I've ever heard. I love moments like this. Art has a way of touching your soul so deeply sometimes.

SFMOMA has a great mobile app you can download that has lots of information about the exhibits and their creators. I relished that app as we walked through that immense art museum that day. There was so much to see and learn in there and it was so handy having that information right there on my phone.

I think my favourite piece of the day was this one by Chuck Close:

Let's take a closer look at this beauty:

I mean, how clever is that? I just love it. The cleverness, the simplicity, and the overall brilliance.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, you are awesome!

On another day we started off with breakfast at Lori's Diner. I ordered a short stack that morning and there have been many mornings since that I have craved the deliciousness of a quick short stack at a diner to start my day. There's something about sitting in a booth drinking average coffee, eating pancakes, surrounded by American paraphernalia that makes you feel like you're in a movie.

I mean, how often do you find a car IN a restaurant?

And after that hearty breakfast, we made our way to Muir Woods for an injection of nature.

And this place reminded us so much of New Zealand. It was so lovely.

Those world-famous tall Redwood and Giant Sequoia trees made us feel decidedly tiny!

And after our hike through the woods, we caught a bus down to the quaint little town of Sausalito and had lunch at Angelino again. We got a table outside, facing the bay and enjoyed watching the people and boats go by while gobbling down some divine Italian fare. And a delicious Chardonnay. 

All in all, it was a very good day.

Walking back to our hotel one day, I snapped this photo up a street of Chinatown. Grant was probably waiting patiently up ahead wondering what had happened to me. Listen, walking up those steep city streets means stopping to take photos every block or so is not so much a nicety, but a necessity! Shoo. (It's definitely time to get back to the gym, I think.) But do you see what I mean by gorgeous views down most streets in this city?

And here is a picture of Grace Cathedral which was close to our hotel on Nob Hill:

This Cathedral is so beautiful and I met this cute dog called Honey in the park right in front of it. How cute is she? She's a service dog who keeps people company at a local old age home. Cute and an inspiration! She was dressed up for Halloween and was in the park to meet her friends who gather there regularly. Such a little darling. Made me miss Bailey even more.

And then, after the four amazingly hot days we had, the fog rolled in and the nights became bitterly cold.

Grace Cathedral at night, after the fog had rolled in:

Another morning, another breakfast. This time at Sears Fine Foods near Union Square. I love this place. Great breakfasts. And such olde world charm. Go here and lap up that feeling of Sunday family lunches from way back when. This is definitely a feel-good kinda place.

That day we went to see the 'crookedest street in the world' - a block of Lombard Street. Now well aware of the steep streets in this city, we made the good decision to walk DOWN this street. Great decision. And what a fun experience this was to see.

Another iconic residential area - and again I felt for the residents who live on this street. They have an endless stream of tourists walking and driving past their homes, but wow, I guess you do have awesome views from there and let's face it - those homes would be worth a small fortune. So, win some, lose some, I guess.

You can just spot Bay Bridge and Coit Tower in the picture below:

Cars slowly making their way down this street:

So besides getting to walk downhill, it's a known fact that you get better photos from the bottom looking up. In theory. Me, not so much. Try as I might, I just couldn't get a good shot - one without a throng of tourists or one that showed all the curves of the street. Ah well, I saw it in real life and it was good. ;)

Went to the rooftop garden of a neighbouring hotel (to the one we were staying at) and got this shot of Coit Tower in the distance. Quite an icon in that city.

Halloween decoration. Still can't believe that I totally missed Halloween 2017 - I was literally flying across time zones and completely missed the 31st of October! :/

And here are my last few shots of Grace Cathedral:

We had a great little holiday in SF - it was a real treat being able to get away with Grant and enjoy time together, just the two of us. So good for a relationship, that. Yes, we missed the kids loads and they missed us, but more good came out of the experience than bad and with the kids being older now we love that we can go off without them every now and then. (Obviously a big thank you to my parents who look after them and our dog when we're away because we couldn't do this without them.)

Have you been on a couple holiday, without your kids, recently? If yes, where did you go? If not yet, where would you go?


Our Trip to San Francisco: Part Two

Whoa! I posted Part One of my San Francisco series so long ago now that I think you probably need a recap of what went down back then. (See that post over here.) I also wrote a post about our visit to The Color Factory back here. (I loved that place!)

Okay, so besides visiting The Color Factory, we also did a touristy trip with Hornblower Classic Cable Cars that started down in Fisherman's Wharf, and made its way through Little Italy, Chinatown... 

... past City Hall (where we stopped to have a look around).

We then went on to see the Painted Ladies which was a huge highlight for me. I didn't get to see these beauties on our previous trip to San Francisco, so this was something I was dying to see this time around. To be clear, I'm not a huge Full House fan, I simply love the contrast between these old homes and the more contemporary cityscape in the background. And we were so lucky to experience this view on a sunny day.

An iconic residential area, the residents of these homes often keep their blinds closed, away from the prying eyes of the many interested tourists. Some bold and pesky tourists even make their way up the steps of these homes to get the perfect photo!

There were so many houses decorated for Halloween around there - this one was particularly well done.

Then it was down through the Haight Ashbury area...

... where we drove past the house Jimi Hendrix lived in back in the day:

In the neighbourhood of love:

Our tour also included a drive across Golden Gate bridge...

... before passing through the Presidio suburb, seeing this cemetery...

... and making our way along Billionaire's Row where we saw the house that the movie, Mrs Doubtfire was filmed in (see below).

Then we made our way back to Fisherman's Wharf to end our journey.

We so enjoyed our cable car tour that day - it certainly gave us a concise overview of the city and a few of its neighbourhoods - and a bit of its interesting history. There are so many interesting places to see and lovely vistas to enjoy up and down the streets of this gorgeous city, and we were very fortunate to enjoy such beautiful weather for the first four days of our time there.

So beautiful.

But wait! There's more!

I've got so many more photos from our time in SF, that I think I'll have to do another post - so get ready - Part Three coming soon.


5 Fantastic Restaurants in San Francisco

Before too much more time goes by, I want to document the rest of our trip to San Francisco back in October 2017. First up - the restaurant recommendation post that I mentioned I'd do. So here it is - 5 fantastic restaurants in San Francisco.

These are restaurants that we went to and thoroughly enjoyed, in no particular order:

1. Sotto Mare in Little Italy

We discovered this amazing restaurant on our previous trip to San Francisco, loved it so much back then that we (specifically Grant) had to go back this time around. And I have to admit, it was as good as before, and it still has a great atmosphere and the 'best damn crab cioppino'!

And the decor in that place is next level authentic. 

Just look at this happy chappy:

This one, not so much:

And these three were such good sports to pose for my photo:

You'll remember this food forever, it's that good. Seriously, if you find yourself in San Francisco, go! You won't be disappointed. That crab cioppino is excellent. And the scallop and prawn dish had us mopping up the sauce at the end of it. Even the carrots and courgettes were heavenly. No jokes.

2. Next up, Rich Table

Wow, I think this restaurant was my best on this trip. After looking at the menu, I was totally undecided as to what to choose, however, our helpful waitress proceeded to recommend some real winners to us. So much so, that after eating two of the dishes she recommended, we ordered them again - they were that good. 

I still dream about this food. Mmmmmm.

Okay, so one of her recommendations was the sardine chip. It doesn't sound very appetising, I will admit. However, when they arrived we were blown away by their uniqueness. And then we bit into them. And, oh, my gawd! You guys! You've got to eat one (preferably more) of these in your lifetime. No lie. Put it on your bucket list. You'll thank me later, I promise. Crazy good.

And then there were these little beauties. Dried porcini doughnuts, no less. With a raclette (cheese) dipping sauce. These look a little arbitrary but don't be fooled. That's another taste you'll probably never forget. I can still taste them now.

The burrata:

Not photographed, but equally sublime, the tonnarelli - read the description on the menu. That dish was so good that after we finished it, we ordered another one. That good.

We need to get back to this restaurant to try all the other dishes on the menu too.

3. Zuni Cafe

This place is easy on the eye, lots of windows, a great bar area, open plan upstairs downstairs areas - very hip and happening. And the signature dish is a whole roast chicken for two, with a bread salad that includes currants, pine nuts and greens. I kid you not. Just that. And I've got to say, yum. Tasty, succulent chicken. We ordered a side of shoestring fries too.

The simple meals, done well, are sometimes the best. I'd recommend ordering your chicken when you call to make your reservation - just to be sure to get it. It's that popular.

And those fries were pretty good too.

4. Ryoko's Japanese Restaurant and Bar

I mean, what's a restaurant recommendation list without a sushi spot?

One night, feeling pretty tired, but too hungry to miss a meal, we googled the best sushi restaurants within walking distance of our hotel and came up with Ryoko's. Its description was vibey (loud music playing in the basement restaurant), but most importantly, it had consistently good food ratings. And boy, were they right.

A bouncer (security guy) greets you at the door and you're ushered down a flight of stairs to be welcomed (very loudly) by a group of friendly chefs behind the bar counter. Well, hello! What a welcome!

And then, after settling into our booth, we ordered some very interesting sounding sushi. And some of the most beautiful sushi came out to our table that night. Just a word of warning - when they say spicy, they mean spicy. Whoa. Grant absolutely loved it!

It being Halloween around the time of our visit to SF, we encountered a guy dressed up as Nemo - right there at Ryoko's. Super crazy. And a fun night out, despite our exhaustion.

5. And lastly - The Slanted Door

A big Vietnamese restaurant at the Ferry Building, with some equally big flavours.

I can't remember exactly what we had that night - we opted for a set menu, but I recall some tasty spring rolls and the shaking beef was particularly delicious.

And the end of the evening was highlighted by the arrival of the candyfloss dessert and the churros with a chocolate sauce. Smiles all around. (We were joined by Grant's work colleagues that night.)

And that ends my restaurant recommendation for San Francisco. I'm literally salivating now.

Obviously, there are hundreds of brilliant restaurants in that awesome city and the next time we go we want to try some of the others - so please leave any of your recommendations in the comments below. I'm always on the lookout for new and exciting places to experience.


Happy 2018!

Well, would you look at that - it's the 5th of January 2018 already! "Happy Happy" to you!  I thought it was about time that I dusted off my keyboard after a lovely Christmas holiday and make contact with all of my lovely readers. Hope you've had a fabulous rest over the break.

So... goodbye, 2017! You were (mostly) fun.

Here are my #2017bestnine from over on my Instagram account. I love doing these #bestnine recaps every year on Instagram as it's truly heartwarming to be reminded of a few of the many good memories I made over the year.

And we enjoyed so many good times in 2017.

But there were also some sad moments last year. Heartbreaking events. Both out in the world and closer by. I was acutely reminded just how precious life is and that we should hug and enjoy every moment with our loved ones because sometimes life can suck.

Wishing you all much strength in the year ahead. And much happiness.

M A Y   Y O U R   2 0 1 8   B E   A  G O O D   O N E

I also hope it'll be fulfilling and that you're grabbing this new slate and running with it!

I certainly have. I've already written down a few thoughts, not resolutions, just thoughts - to clarify my many ideas and plans for the upcoming year because my mind has been racing recently as I try to organise myself and get ready for a year of doing, being, exploring and discovering. 

And I'm (mostly) ready - so, 2018, here we go!

Love to you all.

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