Saturday, March 25, 2017

An Eight-Day Odyssey: Part One

Hello! My husband and I just returned from an eight-day odyssey: a road trip that took us to Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Lexington, Cincinnati, Lexington and Indianapolis, plus the smaller cities of Williamsport and Ephrata (both in PA) and Berea, KY. All told, we traveled a little over 2,000 miles and visited six states. Quite a busy time! The longest travel day was six hours, and most of the driving hours were considerably shorter, so we had time to tour spots of local interest along the way.

For us, one must-see spot in Baltimore is the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM). We've gone to this fun, funky museum several times before, and thus I'd blogged about it. However, during those prior visits I could only show off exterior shots of AVAM, since no interior photography was allowed.

But at some point that policy was changed, because we learned we could now shoot indoor pics as long as no flash was used. Hooray! Now I can show off the wackiness of this unique institution.

I'll begin with examples from the current special exhibit "Yummm! The History, Fantasy And Future Of Food":

In both photos, the mosaic-like artworks were created by using pieces of bread and other stale carb-centric foodstuffs. I liked how the smaller works (created by students of the man who had thought up the project) were mounted on large baking sheets, the type used by cafeterias and bakeries. 

Circles within a circle: bagels and bun halves were used to create the above.
A close-up:
Honeycomb cereal, goldfish crackers and pretzels were included as well. 

Non-bread artworks from the Yummm exhibit:




A painting that suggests the usage of a rolling pin as a tool for "husband adjustment". "Cures alcoholism, smoking, excessive sports watching, apathy, lethargy, ADD & OCD. Apply directly to forehead once daily or as needed". LOL. 


Let them eat cake: a mannequin adorned with look-alike sweet stuff. 


Fake cakes, but they sure looked like the real thing!


Many of us can agree with the above quote when faced with real cakes!

One of several folk art paintings created by a woman to advertise the goodies she was selling at her farm market. Over time, her paintings became more popular than her food!

Please avoid the next three photos if you're squeamish; they're taken from a brief video that showed raw meat being knitted. I found the process gross myself, but took the pics as a novelty for a talented knitter friend:


Upon hearing of this meat knitting, our daughter asked me if the finished item was cooked. The video didn't say. 

On that note, I'll now show off some of the permanent displays:

Haunted by the deaths of relatives who couldn't escape a house fire due to stuck doors, a woman began painting on old doors. 


To pass the time while in prison, a man embroidered pictures - using the yarn from unraveled socks. 

Goofy carved and painted wooden piece. 


A goddess. 


A large assemblage that spins - made from colored paper plates.


Fifi, the mascot of AVAM's annual Kinetic Sculpture Race. You may have noticed the wheels on Fifi's base - yes, she was part of the race several years ago. There used to be a photo of Fifi nearby, showing her partially submerged in the Inner Harbor, which is just a short distance away from the museum. Obviously she overcame that mishap during her participation in the race that year. 

A car covered with shimmering pieces of glass. 


An art quilt that highlights various common faults: I've shown off one of mine, procrastination (near the bottom, slightly left of center).


A pious hot air balloon: as it spins around, one can read the artist's words of faith - "God Is Love". 

Switching gears again, to another special exhibit - Matt Sesow's "Shock and Awe":


A close-up:


In English, "el rincon" means "the corner". 

Yes, Sesow's work looks raw, intense and even a bit on the macabre side - probably not unexpected for a self-taught artist who was the victim of a traumatic freak accident when he was but eight years old. 

I'll leave you with one final photo:

These two robot-like sculptures are part of a "family". If memory serves me correctly, this duo was "married" in a ceremony hosted by AVAM several years ago.

And I think that such an "event" sums up the overall zaniness of this museum. If you're ever near Baltimore and were planning to visit the Inner Harbor area while there (or even if you weren't), AVAM is worth a look! 

If you'd like to learn more about this museum, go here.
 






 








 














 





Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Eats: Happy Pi(e) Day!

Hello! With today being Pi Day (3/14), I saw mention of pizza specials on TV. But I decided to take a different approach - I made pecan pie. Actually, I made two of them, in miniature form, thanks to this recipe:

Li'l Pecan Pies (recipe attributed to Christine Boitos of Livonia, MI. Not sure in what magazine the recipe had appeared; possibly Taste Of Home.)

Pie Crust

1/2 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons shortening (see note)
4 teaspoons cold water

Filling:

1/3 cup pecan halves
1 egg
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (see note)

Whipped cream, optional

In bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in shortening until crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a 6" circle and transfer to two 4 1/2" tart pans. Fit pastry into pans, trimming if necessary.

Arrange pecans in pie crust shells. In bowl, combine filling ingredients; mix well. Pour over pecans. Place shells on baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Top with whipped cream if desired. Yield: two servings. 

Notes: I used butter instead of shortening in the pie crust. The chilling period of at least 30 minutes seemed silly to me for such a small recipe. So instead, I divided the pie crust in half, flattened each half, wrapped them separately in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer. I then proceeded to make the pie filling. By the time I had whipped that up, the pie crust halves had firmed up enough to roll out. Much quicker! 

Upon tasting a portion of a baked, cool pie, I felt that the vanilla taste was too strong. I looked at some pecan pie recipes for full-sized pies and saw that they called for 1 teaspoon vanilla. Since my recipe's filling seems to yield 1/4 the amount of filling used for a full-size  pecan pie, I think 1/4 teaspoon vanilla would work better.

Instead of 4 1/2" tart pans, which I don't have, I used two of my mini pie pans. They have the same diameter. 

Here's how one of my baby pies looks:

And a quarter of it:

Yeah, I know the recipe was written as two servings, but pecan pie is pretty rich, so I'll stick to smaller helpings. If you're familiar with the even smaller pecan pie-like dessert known as Pecan Tassies, the above slice is about the same size as two of those pastries. 

And another reason for eating a small slice from a small pie: I'll be the only eating these mini pecan pies. My husband's far more interested in the number Pi than in pie!
 























 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Made It: A Paper Flower

Hello! We've been enjoying spring-like weather lately, although it sounds like winter will be returning soon. So, with the two seasons battling it out (a common March theme in these parts), it seems fitting to pay homage to one of the earliest blooming flower, the snowdrop. 

Not sure why, but we haven't put in any snowdrops on our property, and no previous owners had either. To enjoy the real thing, we  stroll by the front yard of one of the nicest gardens in our neighborhood. But recently I thrifted a book that I thought would at least help me pretend I have this flower myself:

Making Flowers In Paper, Fabric And Ribbon, by Steve and Megumi Biddle. This book was published by a British company in 1991, but both Biddles have a Japanese crafting background. Mr. Biddle studied in Japan with top origami masters, while Mrs. Biddle received a Japan Floral Art Teacher's Certificate. 

With such artistic backgrounds, you'd expect this duo would have created life-like flowers, and the cover above is proof. Those peonies looked pretty realistic to me! So when I took a peek inside the book, I assumed the directions would be quite intricate. But to my surprise, the patterns and instructions for each flower were clear and not all that complicated.

And since I'd been collecting vintage crepe paper (dirt cheap) at rummage sales and thrift stores, I had the "paper" in the book title covered. So I bought it.

Here's the page that shows the pattern pieces for the snowdrop:

I began by copying the patterns onto tracing paper. There are three leaf patterns of varying lengths, but since I decided to practice by making just one flower to start, I used one of the lengths. Overall, this was an easy flower to craft, since I only needed to cut out crepe paper for three leaf pieces, three petal pieces, one of another petal piece, and one calyx. 

Besides the crepe paper, this pattern also called for some typical floral craft supplies: green floral tape, floral wire and a white stamen - plus a green marker (to color the inside of the rectangle-ish petal piece) and glue for affixing the wire to the leaf petals. I had everything but the white stamen (another reason for buying the book - I had the majority of the supplies already on hand. Like the crepe paper, most of them were purchased secondhand).

This kind of craft may seem a bit fiddly, since you're working with rather small pieces, but I found my snowdrop pretty easy to put together. I think I did pretty well for a first effort:

 
Looks close to the real thing, I think! 

A close-up:

Of course, with such a close-up you can readily see that the petals, stem and leaf are made from crepe paper. But our daughter, who came home from college for a visit after my snowdrop had made its debut on our dining room table, didn't realize it was artificial until I told her. So my effort passed the eye test, at least with her. 

This is the only snowdrop I made. However, there's 25 more types of flowers in this book I can assemble, and I look forward to doing so. Daffodils will be nice to create, as will tulips when the local annual festival devoted to that flower comes around. 

We have planted daffodil and tulip bulbs on our property, but don't have enough to cut many for indoor enjoyment. So instead, I can make some and display them around the house for more signs of spring. 

Now, if only spring weather will stay here, rather than allowing winter to return this weekend!
 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Made It: A Scrappy Journal

Hello! Some time ago I found an issue of the late, great Craft magazine at a thrift store. As I usually do with such finds, I tore out the articles I wanted to keep, filed them away, and tossed the rest. But I kept Gareth Branwyn's "Journal-Art Memoirs" out to refer to, since I wanted to try the project featured - what he refers to as a "visual journal". 

Branwyn started out with a 5.2"x8.2" Moleskine journal, and transformed the blank pages with art supplies (paints, stencils, stickers, rubbers stamps, etc.) and emphemera (some examples given were travel brochures, receipts, junk mail, newspaper, wine labels, string, ribbon, etc.) "...you can pretty much use anything that's relatively flat" Branwyn explains (so that the journal will doesn't become too unwieldy). 

I finally got around to starting my own visual journal last month, and challenged myself to do a page every day of that 28-day period. Besides getting tired of seeing that article on our coffee table for months on end, I knew the trip we were taking to the Bay area would give me a few fun pages to work with. And I trusted that I would figure out what to put on the other pages as the month unfolded. 

And here's how they unfolded, starting with the blank journal I used:

I didn't have a Moleskine journal the suggested size, but did have sketchbook that measures 5"x8", so that's what I used. The boring label on the cover couldn't be removed, so I put a facsimile of a vintage illustration (from the book Food Mania, which is loaded with such stuff) over it. I stamped the words "a scrappy journal" on vintage paper, then glued them to the illustration. Much better! 

A close-up:

Now on to some pages:

 
Bits of packaging from a favorite snack mix recipe, which I'd made to give to our daughter (I admit, I saved plenty for myself!)

On the left, scraps of decorative papers used to craft Valentine's Day cards. I had to get the cards done and mailed out before we left for our trip. I wrote some details on how I crafted the cards. 

On the right, a homage to Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the patron saints of Slovakia. If I had not married a Slovak-American who gets the Zenska Jednota magazine (a publication of a fraternal organization), I would have not been familiar with these saints. But as their feast day is February 14th, that month's issue had a feature article on these two men's efforts to bring Christianity to the Slavic region. 

A day in San Francisco: cable car ticket, portion of a takeout menu from El Rincon Yucateco, where we ate lunch, address for San Francisco Art Exchange (a gallery where we viewed rare, original photos of the Beatles), and a snippet of ribbon (squirrel design) from Britex. 

Pages from the last two days of our trip. On the left, St. Vincent de Paul church, Petaluma (as depicted on its church bulletin), a snippet from a postcard advertising an art show in Petaluma, and a business card from Petaluma Pie Company. 

On the right, a page from the last day. Because it was Valentine's Day, I included a scrap from a red/pink paint chip sample on the upper left hand corner, and a scrap from Valentine-themed art paper on the lower right hand corner. I also included the tag from our checked luggage, a bit from the Yoga Journal magazine I read on the plane, and a scrap cut from the Jamba Juice takeout menu I picked up at the airport in San Jose. I'd never been to a Jamba Juice before (they don't seem to be around where I live), so I was curious about this business. (didn't buy anything there, as I was pretty full from lunch.)

I prepared for doing the vacation pages by packing along a glue stick, double stick tape, a small pair of scissors and few decorative odds and ends. These supplies all fit in a quart-size baggie, so little room in our luggage was sacrificed. If we'd been driving, I could have taken more supplies along. 

It's easy to do such spreads while on vacation, as ticket stubs, tourism brochures and the like are easy to pick up here and there. But at home, it was sometimes a challenge to figure out what to put on a daily page - especially when I came back home from the trip with a nasty cold. Fortunately, it doesn't take much to fill a 5"x8" page, and inspiration managed to come to me every day.

Although not feeling great, I stubbornly went out for daily walks anyway. On one such walk, I encountered a couple walking their five Newfoundlands - a breed I love! So I took the corresponding illustration out of a vintage encyclopedia in honor of that "family". 

The next day, I still wasn't feeling great, but made a short trip to pick up our daughter after her visit to Chicago. She took the South Shore Line train from Hyde Park to its terminus at the airport in South Bend:

So the brochure I picked up at that airport became the basis for that day's page. 



Thrift store finds above: a game card from the 1967 Musical Bingo game and the cover and goofy line drawing from a vintage community cookbook (vegetable chapter; vintage cookbooks of this type seem to be chock-full of such illustrations).

And finally, from the last day of the month:


Mini calendar page for February, tag from an Earl Grey teabag, and a newspaper clipping that depicts snowfall totals for the month. Officially, we got .8", which is so low for February as to practically be unheard of. The same clipping shows a seasonal total thus far of 42.5" - again, way less than we'd typically expect for being this far along in a winter. Our normal snowfall total for the season averages around 80".

But now it's March - and wouldn't you know it, it's snowing. We may end up with more snow this month than we had in February!

And will I keep up with my "scrappy journal" project? Yes, I will! I found it a great way to do something creative every day, and it's fun to have the visual reminders for the month too. So excuse me now while I go work on today's page!



 




 
 

 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Eats: A Nice And Easy Soup Recipe

Hello! It's not really been "soup weather" most of this week, what with temps that felt more like May in these parts (mid-60's some days!) Nevertheless, I made a nice, easy soup a few days ago to ease my cold symptoms. Today is definitely a "soup weather" day, though (30's and a light coating of snow), so I'll post the recipe I used, with adaptations explained after.

Easy Soup (adapted from Marcia Adams' Cooking From Quilt Country)

1 large onion
4 stalks celery
2-4 tablespoons vegetable oil (Adams specifies the larger amount, but I've found the lesser measurement is plenty)
4-6 cups broth of choice (turkey, chicken, beef or vegetable, see note)
1 15-ounce can navy beans (see note) 
1 15-ounce can tomatoes, drained and chopped (see note)
1 10-ounce bag frozen mixed vegetables (see note)
1/4 cup quick-cooking pearled barley (see note)
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme, optional (see note)
1 cup mashed potatoes (see note)
1/2 cup half and half (see note)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (see note)

Chop onion and celery. Heat oil in large kettle; cook onion and celery until the onion is transparent. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the potatoes, half and half and parsley. Cover, bring to a boil over high heat, and then lower heat to simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until barley is tender. Add the potatoes, half and half, and parsley, and simmer 5 minutes longer. 

This may look like a lengthy list of ingredients, but they're ones that are common (except maybe the barley), so you may have them on hand already, and prep time is short. And once the soup kettle ingredients have come to a boil, the total cooking time is a mere 15-17 minutes. I'd call that easy for a soup recipe! 

Now on to the notes:

I think that 4 cups of broth makes for a very thick soup, so I increase the amount to 6 cups. Try it either way. 

Adams calls for 4 cups of turkey broth, since she designed this recipe to be prepared with stock made from the carcass leftover from a Thanksgiving dinner. And I admit, I do make it that way (she supplies the turkey stock recipe on the preceding page of this cookbook). I haven't hosted a turkey dinner in awhile, but buy one when they're on sale in November and stick it in the freezer until I feel like cooking it. Same with the carcass - I freeze it as well, until I feel like making Adams' stock recipe. 

Of course, the better the broth, the better the soup, but feel free to substitute other flavors of homemade or commercial broths.

The recipe calls for navy beans, but use any other cooked beans that you may have on hand. I cook large amounts of dried beans in my slow cooker, then package them up for freezer storage. Then I just pull out whatever type I feel like on soup-making day. 

I use a can of petite-diced tomatoes to save on the mess of having to chop whole canned tomatoes. 

I usually buy a 1-pound bag of soup vegetables to use with this recipe. Since Adams created this recipe "for the busy Thanksgiving weekend...you can add any leftover vegetables from the holiday dinner or any other fresh vegetables you prefer." In other words, feel free to use what you have on hand.

I didn't have quick-cooking pearl barley on hand when I made this a few days ago, so instead I added a half-cup of small-size shell pasta, whose cooking time matched that of the recipe's. I think I could have increased that amount to 3/4 cup or even a full cup of uncooked pasta.

I did use all the specified seasonings listed, including the optional dried thyme, but also added a small amount from a "soup seasoning" mixture I'd gotten in bulk at an Amish grocery store. If you use other seasonings when making this type of broth-based soup, you can add them instead if you wish. 

I'm guessing that Adams stuck mashed potatoes in her soup since, again, they were likely a leftover component from her Thanksgiving dinner. (Her recipe for mashed potatoes follows this soup recipe). I had just the right of leftover mashed potatoes in my freezer, but I'm sure you could use leftover boiled potatoes, or cook a potato in advance to add to the soup. 

I don't use half and half for this recipe, just milk.

I had fresh parsley in my freezer, harvested and frozen in the fall from my deck planting. You can use dried parsley, but fresh really is nicer. 

Adams states that this recipe yields "12 hearty servings", which seems a little low for a soup that begins with only 4 cups of stock. You also may have noticed that there's no meat in the recipe, so perhaps she meant for this soup to be served as a light lunch for house guests over a Thanksgiving weekend. Feel free to add turkey, chicken, beef, etc. to your soup if you prefer. I've sometimes added turkey, but didn't this time since we'd recently come back from a trip and had thus had been eating richer foods than we usually do. 

Even when making this with 6 cups of broth, I'm not sure that "12 hearty servings" is realistic when using this as the main dinner course. But it would likely serve 4-6 people that way. 

Okay, I think that's enough talk about the recipe, now here's a pic:


And yes, it tasted as good as it looked!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Get Carded: Happy (late) Valentine's Day!

Hello! Because of out-of-state travel on Valentine's Day, my husband and I were late in celebrating the occasion. But we eventually got around to it (heart-shaped pizzas, ultra-rich brownies and candy gifts). And I eventually got around to taking a photo of the card I made him, so I can show it off now - along with two others, that were mailed in time to the recipients.

Materials used:
  • white card stock
  • mailer card from 1960's tourism publication (chosen because city listed on card is a well-liked vacation spot of the recipient); card altered with stenciled red acrylic paint
  • "Be My Valentine" heart cut from Cavallini paper product
  • heart-shaped yo-yo made by me
  • heart-shaped button
  • paper tape piece with pointed finger, another Cavallini product
  • "Heart" stamped in red ink
The recipient had recently given me a gift card to Fris, a local art-supply store, for my birthday. I spent that card pronto on two Cavallini products, the Valentine-themed paper and a paper tape set, so I thought it'd be nice to show the recipient how the gift card had been used. 

Card #2:

Materials used:
  • white card stock
  • Kraft  paper altered with stenciled red acrylic paint
  • "My Valentine" cut from Cavallini paper product
  • heart cut from paint chip
  • Kraft paper tape
  • sliver of altered Kraft paper glued behind paint chip heart
  • "Special Delivery" paper tape from Cavallini(the "S" is missing because it was the beginning of the paper tape roll, but I didn't want to waste that piece!)
Card #3:

Materials used:
  • white card stock
  • ad from 1960's tourism publication
  • "Hello Dear!" heart cut from Cavallini paper product
  • heart cut from altered Kraft paper
  • white plastic heart, pulled off old sachet I was discarding
  • ruler designs stamped in red ink (placed on left edge of card and underneath white plastic heart)
  • red paper tape with pointed finger design; Cavallini product
  • two hearts stamped in red ink
  • "Love" stamped in red ink
You may have noticed that I used some of the same materials in all three cards, which is a habit I have when making more than one card at a time (or for the same occasion). This saves time and effort since I just leave my supplies out until I'm done with this round of card crafting. Yet each of these three cards looks quite different from the other.   

I had fun making these cards and like how they turned out! On time or late, a Valentine's Day card is always enjoyable to create.

Friday, February 17, 2017

San Francisco Sojourn #2

Hello! The second half of our trip to the Bay area began with a Sunday visit to San Francisco Botanical Garden, located within Golden Gate Park. It was another sunny, mild day, perfect for this outdoor activity. 

The microclimate of the Bay area means that this botanical garden has plants from all over the globe. We saw many plants we'd never seen before, as well as those that we'd only previously seen in conservatories. We were familiar with camellias and magnolias, but not used to seeing them bloom in February.

I took several pictures:

A large magnolia tree


This is called a paper bush.

This tree had an interesting form, I thought.





A close-up of its branches.


Vivid red camellia blooms, so nice to see when everything is gray back home.

There's lots more pictures I could have taken, but mostly I was in awe of the vast variety of plantings I saw. Redwood Grove? Check. Andean, Southeast Asian and Mesoamerican Cloud Forests? Check. Gardens representing the Mediterranean, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Temperate Asia? This botanical garden has all that too. There's even an Ancient Plant Garden, which was fascinating. And there were some other garden themes as well - Native California, Fragrance, Moon Viewing, and so on. 

So all in all, a very enjoyable visit. If you like botanical gardens, you definitely should check this one out if you visit the Bay area. 

Lunch (leftover food from the dinner we'd packed to eat at the airport before we flew out Friday evening) was eaten at the botanical garden - allowed, but people are discouraged from feeding their meals to the wildlife. We saw others ignoring this request, which probably explained the rather aggressive friendliness of the squirrels and Canada geese there. Saw one of the latter literally walk right up to a family eating on the grass near a pond, clearly expecting a handout. 

After visiting San Francisco Botanical Gardens, it was time to head across the Golden Gate Bridge to go to another hotel in San Rafael. Once settled there, we ate dinner at

Crepevine, in downtown San Rafael. This place has a big menu, and as you can see, it's not just crepes! They also serve sandwiches, salads, various egg dishes, even a few pasta items. I had the Mediterranean sandwich and my husband ordered the Kyoto Crepe. Both came with a choice of potato and a salad of organic mixed greens. 

Monday we headed up the road to Petaluma, a cute old town with many cute old downtown buildings. I headed straight toward one of them, Petaluma Seed Bank - housed, of course, in an old bank building. This store is owned by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, which means you'll find seeds you won't see in the racks of your local garden center. I had gotten their catalogue, so I'd come with a shopping list. Nevertheless, I was still overwhelmed by rack after rack of seed packets. I did end buying several packets, and look forward to sowing them as soon as I can!

My husband and I wandered around a bit, and eventually ended up at McNear's Saloon and Dining House for lunch. Fun vintage tavern decor, but I can't say I was overwhelmed by the California sandwich I'd ordered. My husband said his burger was good though. 

We split up after lunch to mosey around to our hearts' content for awhile. Since it was a Monday, some shops were closed, but there were still plenty around to tempt me. I stayed clear of most of them, though. With Petaluma being a wine country (Sonoma County)tourist town, I figured the boutiques were likely on the pricey side. 

So what did I do? Visit a couple of downtown thrift stores, of course! And why not - after all, sales at Alphabet Soup benefit the local school system, while Sack's proceeds go to a hospice. I felt good about trying to help out both. I was sorely tempted by some vintage housewares at Alphabet Soup, but realized there wasn't room for them in our luggage. But it was a different story at Sack's, where fabrics were half off that day. I had no trouble selecting several remnants of vintage fabric. 

I took a few pictures around Petaluma:


Funky painted building; looked to be an old corner gas station, but not used for anything right now. 


The imposing facade of St. Vincent de Paul church. 


And across the street from the church, a small Victorian house with a large palm tree in its front yard. I love seeing palm trees growing, since of course they don't grown where we live. 

Yeah, I should have taken more pics in Petaluma, but to tell you the truth, I was pretty tired by then. It seems to take me several days to adjust to jet lag when we fly out west. (I didn't get a decent night's sleep until that night, our last night there.) 

So instead of traipsing further around Petaluma and more of Sonoma County, we headed back to our hotel in San Rafael. And when it came time to get dinner, we returned to Crepevine. This time I selected the Parisienne French Toast, which is French toast made with cinnamon-raisin bread. Very good! My husband had the tofu-egg scramble, which came with home fries and toast. Sometimes it's just fun to have breakfast food for dinner.

The next day, Tuesday, was fly-home day. It was sunny and in the mid-60's when we stopped at El Super Burrito in Millbrae for lunch before heading to the airport. We'd first eaten here in 1997, back in pre-Yelp days. We were staying at a hotel in Millbrae then and looked through the Yellow Pages for a dinner place. El Super Burrito sounded good and it was, so it's become a go-to place when we're out there. Their burritos are "super" indeed, as in super-sized. I got the steak and avocado, while my husband got one stuffed with shrimp. The women behind the counter also stuffed them with rice and pinto beans. We finished them at lunch - but were still full enough when we landed at Midway Airport (Chicago) several hours later that we didn't need any dinner!

And speaking of airports, we flew into Oakland and departed from San Jose. We've found that if the fares are competitive, it's much nicer flying in and out of smaller airports rather than the bigger ones. Far less congestion, both in the terminal and on the tarmac! We were lucky in that we got TSA pre-check both times. It took all of about 30 seconds to go through security at San Jose! Can't complain about that. 

We flew on Southwest Airlines. Because it was Valentine's Day when we departed, some of its employees passed out fancy heart-shaped cookies and lollipops to the passengers. I declined the candy but took the cookie. Ate it the next day, and it was very good! I don't know if other airlines did something similar that day, but I appreciated that Southwest Airlines had done so. 

We returned home to chillier weather and duller vegetation. Sure do miss the beauty and milder climate of the Bay area! But we were glad to have visited it again.