Matterhorn

FEBRUARY BLOG POST WEEK 3

So in continuing the topic of my day and a half in San Francisco, it’s only fitting to talk about the incredible meal that followed our time at USF. My great aunt and uncle live in the city and we had visited with them earlier that day as we were staying with them for the night. They’ve traveled the world together and we enjoyed swapping stories of European train mishaps and other tidbits worth mentioning. Of course, in time we landed on the subject of food and they recommended the Swiss restaurant Matterhorn.

We made reservations and showed up after an afternoon of browsing in shops and snacking on pork dumplings from OTD. A Swiss lady with a thick Germanic accent greeted us and led us to our table, through a restaurant adorned with Swiss wood carving designs and pictures of Switzerland throughout. Their menu featured an assortment of fondues and various sides to dip in it, each prepared specifically to be shared by two people.

We settled on the “Oh La La” option; a combination of Raclette and Camembert cheeses. It was a pretty mild mixture with just a hint of sharpness and it tasted phenomenal. We dipped baguette chunks, apple slices, and sausage into it and feasted until we couldn’t eat a single bite more.

The entire atmosphere of the restaurant was adorable and I enjoyed myself immensely. It was the perfect end to a spectacular day and I recommend this restaurant to anybody craving some Swiss or German comfort food.

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USF: Another Option?

BLOG POST FOR FEBRUARY WEEK 2

Taking advantage of our four day weekend, my mom and I decided to drive down to San Francisco for Friday and Saturday so that we could take a look at USF’s campus and spend some time in our favorite city. Since November, I’ve been pretty focused on University of Portland – I found it absolutely perfect and a little Dead Poets Society-esque when I toured it over Thanksgiving Break. Because of this, I went into the tour not expecting to love what I saw; I had mostly agreed to go look at it because it was a great excuse to spend some time in San Francisco and maybe even get to the beach.

I guess things really do never go as planned. I ended up loving the campus and loving the school. It was a beautiful, fog free day in the city and students were scattered around the lawns, studying or picnicking together. The campus was gorgeous and you really can’t beat the prospect of living in San Francisco for the next 4 years.

Academically, I find their small size and Jesuit values really appealing. They also have tons of study abroad options that could end up broadening my horizons more than I can imagine at this point in time. You can go on service trips around the world or in America and the diversity of students and cultures a USF student is exposed to seems incredible.

It’s a similar school to UP so for the next 2 months I presume I will continue going back and forth between the two. Secretly, though, I think my heart and soul may have already decided even though my mind might not be made up.

A Glass Castle

BLOG FOR FEBRUARY WEEK 1

I spent today thoroughly enjoying the rainy, windy weather and it made for a peaceful Sunday, one where I felt perfectly content. Four main points made this day so enjoyable in such a simple way, the first being that church was followed with good coffee and delicious pastries at Tin Roof with my family. We chatted over our yummy breakfasts while the rain pattered against the roof and I could just tell that it was going to be a good day.

I spent my mid morning then making homemade panna cotta and a fresh mango puree to be served after dinner tonight. I never realized that making my favorite Italian dessert was as simple as it really is and the end product was to die for. With some freshly cut strawberries placed on top of the puree, the dessert was truly incredible.

After doing the prep work for the dish I decided to make use of the day in a more active way and headed out into the blustery weather for a 3 mile run. I ran one of my favorite loops from my house and the weather was absolutely perfect for running. It feels so nice to finally be getting into shape again and my legs feel stronger with each run. I jumped in the pool when I got home and I never realized that a freezing cold body of water in the middle of February could feel so good.

I finished up my day by reading the novel A Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. It is a heart wrenching and inspiring memoir about her childhood, where she and her 3 siblings grew up with an alcoholic father and absent minded mother, both whom were very against any conventional ways of living. She spent her childhood moving from town to town and living off of next to nothing until she finally made her way to New York City. It was one of those reads that makes you think for a long time after you finish the book and I’m still not sure what emotions I’m supposed to be feeling because of it. At any rate, the read was wonderful and I highly recommend this memoir.

Whirlwind Weekend

JANUARY BLOG WEEK 4

The last 48 hours were about as packed as one could possibly make such a time period. Our 2 day trip to Los Angeles as exhausting but absolutely wonderful and definitely one of the best weekends I’ve ever experienced. Lately, I’ve been going stir-crazy while trying to fight the Senioritis that is placating me each and every day. Focusing on things like high school, which feel more and more trivial by the day, is becoming so difficult when I can be focusing on more exciting things.. i.e. my future. In short, I needed an escape.

After I got off of work on Friday my dad and sisters picked me up and we headed towards La Habra, taking full advantage of the car’s stereo system as we alternated between Rhapsody UnRadio and This American Life podcasts. We made it to our family friends’ house in 7 hours, arriving at about 2:30 am. They greeted us and we visited for awhile before calling it a night (some of us hitting the hay at 3 or so and others waiting til 5 am to go to bed.)

I slept in a little bit the next morning and woke up to belgian waffles and sausage and eggs and we had a lively breakfast with the Breniers; Paul and Stephanie have 6 kids who have grown to be like siblings to us. We spent the late morning visiting their toy store and eating candy apples and ice cream in downtown Whittier – my dad’s hometown. It was sunny and beautiful and made me feel a world away from reality.

This quick trip did have a more bittersweet purpose however. My dad’s good friend from high school, and Paul’s brother, Don, passed away a year ago and this trip was to help his family celebrate the one year anniversary of his death. Or perhaps more accurately worded, to come together once again to celebrate the life that he lived. We all gathered at his headstone and toasted to him with his favorite drink (Dr. Pepper), ate some of his favorite foods (Ambrose pizza and chocolate chip cookies) and listened to some of his favorite music (John Denver.) Towards the end of the picnic everybody tied messages to him onto the strings of balloons and we let them float up into the sky. The whole idea of a graveside picnic sounded a bit strange to me when my dad first presented the idea to us, but being there felt like the most natural and content way of remembering Don.

After the picnic we watched a bit of his son’s basketball game and then headed out to spend the evening in Huntington Beach with the Breniers and some of their extended family. In total we were 9 kids racing around the beach and playing in the waves under the pier and that evening definitely makes it onto my list of best beach experiences, only trailing the beach in Holland with the swing set. We ate tacos at a restaurant across from the beach and then headed back to the Breniers house.

We swam in their pool, hot tubbed, played games and danced, sat around their bonfire, and overlooked the city in their gorgeous backyard until 2 am or so. Then we all headed inside, with the intention of watching a movie, and all fell asleep in the living room. The day may have ended in exhaustion but we certainly made the best of the short amount of time that we had together.

This morning we got up and said goodbye to the Breniers before grabbing coffee and heading out for a tour of my dad’s childhood neighborhood. As we drove past each house on the twisting road situated on the edge of a canyon, a story would accompany each address. It was some of the most I’d ever heard about his childhood and it gave the city so much more meaning to us. We also went to see my grandma’s headstone at the nearby cemetery, which was also really nice but I have to admit that seeing “Laretta Johnson” on a tombstone already is a little bit eerie.

From Whittier we headed towards Las Feliz, where we visited our cousin and her husband and two adorable daughters. We walked through their neighborhood and had a delicious breakfast at Alcove. It was a beautiful day, of course, and we had a wonderful time visiting with them before heading back to Chico.

We spent the day driving and pulled back into our driveway around 8 pm tonight, making our trip last a grand total of 49 hours. That was quite the weekend, I just wish I could go back and do it all over again now.