Winchester House & Folsom Fair weekend

Yes, that is me! It’s  from a poster promoting FSE some years back

Winchester & Folsom unlikely bedfellows… or not?

Because my life isn’t full enough with what I have to do on a daily basis – we still took some time to enjoy Folsom week and the Folsom Fair last week. Having a guest in town gave us an excuse to go and for me to try a few new dishes. But first, it also meant I had company to make my annual trip to the Winchester Mystery House (aka Winchester House or by its formal name while its owners were alive  “). Each year I go to purchase my annual pass and with the pending movie due out by CBS Films starring Academy Award®-winner Helen Mirren (The Queen, Eye in the Sky) and Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Zero Dark Thirty) and is being directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig (Predestination) based on their screenplay.  As with any local favorite – once a film or episode is shot – you can expect crowds – so I really wanted to get in now.

On a side note: because of the film launch, where in the past you could take pictures inside the house – the agreement currently is they aren’t allowing photographs. While a disappointment for first-timers  (I wish they made that fact better known on the websites too)the images I used here are from a 2008 trip and do not include recent upgrades, newly acquired furniture or open rooms.

Winchester House Tours

Since my last trip, in addition to the Mansion Tour, they launched a new tour, called Explore More Tour. This replaces the previous “Behind the scenes” tour and adds several new areas of the house including more backstory on the rooms closed off after the earthquake.  The annual skeleton key pass also gets your guests a reduced rate on the tours! To do both tours will run over 2 hours and 15 minutes. While not exhausting, the tours do include a lot of walking and stairs – so dress accordingly. Either tour offers great insight into this local favorite. For me, Winchester has special significance as it is also a hometown name. New Haven, which is where I hale from,  is the birth (and final resting place) for the Sarah Winchester and her husband. Located right in San Jose, about a 45-minute ride from San Francisco, literally across the street from the major shopping promenade. this afternoon or evening treat ( they offer special night events as we get closer to Halloween) is a perfect “go to” for kids of all ages. If you are curious you can also check out Winchester House’s Blog and/or it’s very interactive Facebook page, Facebook.com/winchestermysteryhouse/. For you thinkers out there – you can also visit the website The Truth About Sarah Winchester I can’t attest to its accuracy -but it does fill in some holes I thought interesting.

Knowing I was going to want to have a simple breakfast on Sunday before the Folsom Fair and did a nice omelet on Saturday for the boys – I opted to try my hand at making this Spicey Cheese Bread. One of the Cooks Country recipes – but if you don’t have an online membership – you can find the recipe here on fellow bloggers site; https://www.browneyedbaker.com/spicy-cheese-bread/

The recipe wasn’t as hard as I anticipated. Don’t get too nervous about the amount of red pepper either – you really need it to balance with cheeses. Note: this bread reheats really well and I can tell on its own or alongside a hearty stew it’s a keeper. My next plan is to play with the recipe and add cooked off diced prosciutto or sausage!

I even managed to get a few decorations up!

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Birthday weekend Under the “Sun”

What a weekend; with temps as high as 103 in some areas, the house hitting 92 and trying to enjoy a long weekend and celebrate my birthday. Talk about some logistical challenges. 🙂

But we weathered the storm (barely) and we all made it to Tuesday. A short recap of the last few days;

After taking time on Thursday and Friday to write more text for the journal articles due in October, I finally called it quits as the heat in the house rose. Thursday as the weather grew warm, we opted for burgers so I did some searching online and came up with a recipe for homemade burger buns. Saving me a trip to the store as I was due to get Dino from “doggie day camp”. The super easy recipe had them done and ready to cool in less than 40 minutes, you can read about it here.

Friday hit warm and the house wasn’t going to be pretty but I tried to get some work done. Ended up getting drafts in, haircut for the next day and enjoying the messages, texts and Facebook posts that so many folks left me for my birthday. Getting them always helps to remind one of the power and space they take up in the lives of others. To be fair, I also posted a few of those “I can’t believe they still exist” images of me on my 5th birthday with the cake my mom made for me.

A nice surprise for the day was getting a delivery. One of the “you can’t go wrong with sending them” gifts. After Amazon gift cards they happen to be one of my favorites to receive. Thanks, Wayne and Tom! Paul also surprised me with a new knapsack – but this one has an Owl theme and is in rubber – perfect for gym and rain days.

As usual, Paul had his fun with the birthday card – – we have a long-running joke about the movie Frozen and “Let it go”, but he managed to find a new one:

 

That night we played it easy for dinner and tried to figure out a way to cool the house down. Saturday dawned hot again. Derailing some of our plans, so it was a lazy day until dinner that night at The Old Clam House. One of my fav places to eat ( they also own the outstanding restaurant Osso Steakhouse, another of my “can’t wait to go again places”, we went last January). After a rough start with delays for seating and some staffing issues they finally had a plan sorted out for us. Unfortunately, some people can’t hold warm weather drinking and another guest managed to knock over our post-dinner cupcakes from Noe Valley Bakery, which had been on the hostess desk waiting for the hostess to return. But the GM graciously offered to comp our desserts as an apology. They are a class act that way.

But before heading out, traditionally if I have a birthday dinner out, and it’s not hosted by me, I will try to make a little something for people to take home as a thank you for coming. Earlier that day we had been watching the chef and restaurant owner, Lidia Bastianich on tv and one of the recipes was for a Sesame Candy. It looked manageable time-wise and tasty and I happened to have everything on hand. So I knocked a batch together and wrapped them for with a simple rustic “Thank You”

We rounded out the weekend pretty mellow, Sunday night for Pizza as the city began to cool down and then managed to grill out for dinner again Monday night keeping it simple and easy with grilled skirt steak, broccoli before some TV and prepping for the rest of the week.  Even found my new favorite nondairy ice cream on sale!

 

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Getting My Travel Tips out on via @Techfortravel

Travel tips make the process so much easier. Any many of us have lots to share.  With my being a way so much for work. Ive learned a few things about traveling and keeping it stress free. Tom Payne,  graciously asked me to share a few  #TravelTips on his blog  TechforTravelUK.co.uk . I posted this out earlier from my Twitter account @FVStrona,  #MentorSFCA but sharing here as well.

Travel Tips on https://techfortravel.co.uk

Check out his other tips on his blog or follow him on twitter @TechforTravelUK to get his latest.

Thanks Tom, for asking me to guest post!

MentorSF Travel Tips

And it’s A Whirlwind Saturday

What a whirlwind.

Two parties in one day during an already emotionally overwhelming day of “push back” against political extremists, and while a hugely important topic – it’s being covered elsewhere so back to the good stuff for now.

Paul’s work picnic went over well, even with warm temps and my having to grill. In the end lots of great foods including a new favorite local find; bbq from City Smoke House. 

It may be some of the best local bbq I have had in some time. I think they will be appearing at a house party for sure!.

City Smoke House

City Smoke House, http://citysmokehousesf.com

Between the grilled chicken, corn, hot links and a few burgers for the young ones and the bbq, salads, fruit everyone ate well and took “doggy bags” home- even the ride home from Tilden Park was quick with little traffic coming back into the city.

And yes, that is a quick read thermometer In my hand. Doesn’t everyone carry one to a bbq? 😱

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Ryan Landry’s “GREECE” by way of Provincetown

A few words from Ryan Landry

We got to see the very funny and quick witted Ryan Landry’s show “GREECE” last night at the Fishermans Hall (the backside of Provincetown High School). The new performance space will bring you back to school stage performances, and serves as a backdrop for an amazing opportunity to add to an already history rich entertainment portfolio from Landry and the Gold Dust Orphans.  The show was the usual “how do they think of this” mashup of themes (something I look forward to each year)  that creates a carnival of fun in one setting. Plenty of talent in this years cast, with over the top costumes and tight scripting made for a fun night overall.

The new and still growing space, has air conditioning (you may want to bring a sweatshirt- yes it works that well) and a still developing sound and light system that will definitely raised the “story to life”.
Now for those of you who recall its old location; gone is the long walk, limited car and bike parking. Instead, Fisherman Hall (12 Winslow St.) is a short walk from pretty much anywhere in town, and offers easy parking to boot.

Getting to “GREECE”

A little spicy seafood pasta for dinner at Sal’s Place

Staying in the West End, and after a lovely dinner at Sal’s Place, we simply took a short walk down Commercial Street and hung a right on Carver (at the Crews Quarters) then left on to Bradford (past the Gifford House Inn). Several blocks later, is a short set of steps which is the back walkway up to the High School Parking lot at Prince & Bradford.  Really – it is that simple. Then just look for the “Fisherman”! at the building end of the parking lot.

The show runs Sundays through September 3rd. Tickets are available at House of LaRue or online at: greeceprovincetown.brownpapertickets.com

The Fisherman on the wall

For more information on “GREECE” or other GDO shows:

Visit: the Gold Dust Orphans/ website, or on the GDO Facebook page and other social media at  Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat  and learn how you can donate to keep the creative arts in Provincetown https://www.thegolddustorphans.com

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Settling In and stuff

Settling in at the Cove each summer is always a whirlwind for the first few days, but rarely lasts long. On this trip, we also have a few friends here – so its added some fun additional options.

After a very long coach ride into Provincetown on Saturday . It was nice to just sit back and breath.

Come Sunday we were in full vacation mode. Bikes needed to get rented for the next two weeks, as that makes  being able to go to Stop & Shop for groceries much more doable.

So we made the short walk up to the road to PTownBikes   (Address: 42 Bradford St, Provincetown, MA 02657, Phone: (508) 487-8735). After getting our annual “rules of the road” reminders, we were off for a short ride to Herring Cove  to show the boys around that end of the town.

After we got back from the ride, it was nap time for the boys – so I had some time to connect with local friends and get the skinny on the season and the annual “what do you want to do for activities” ticket discussion begins.

Once we were all refreshed and we had enough coffee in us. Yes, I had made sure to run by Joe’s Coffeeshop (170 Commercial St, Provincetown, MA 02657) . You can check out Joe’s Facebook page for more on this little slice of Provincetown. It was time for the dreaded Stop & Shop run.

So, empty backpacks ready,  we got on the bikes and took to the store for supplies to get us through a few days. While we always love eating out – being here in a unit with a kitchen allows me the luxury to also cook some of the days. Especially those when we just don’t want to deal with the crowds. (Note: first time to Ptown? Don’t shop on Saturday if you can avoid it – that’s turnover day in town and usually a mad house. We tend to go later Sunday or even better on Monday am when we can).

It was still early when we got back, so everyone hit the deck for some late rays, while I went in to think about dinner. For tonight, we went with marinated (yes – with bottled italian salad dressing, along with some ginger beer added for zing) to toss on the grill, grilled sweet potatoes and quick pickled carrots.

After dinner we took the first official “ice cream” walk to close out the day.

Monday

Come Monday, we were all in “vaca mode”. I tend to wake up early, so generally out with the camera  walking around by 6:15 then heading back to Joe’s coffeeshop around seven. Spent a few hours drafting some notes for a journal article then met up with Brent and Josh before walking back to the house to figure out the game plan for the day.

All in all, it was just a very nice relaxing day at the Cove; lots of sun and catching up. We ended up eating lunch in doing that old standard “make yourself sandwiches” since we knew that evening we will be going to a show and dinner.

After all getting showered we went over to the Canteen (225 Commercial St, Provincetown, MA 02657) for dinner, one of my favorite of the small places here in Ptown. A nice assortment of fresh and fried foods and probably the best crispy brussels sprouts we’ve had. They do their brussels sprouts cooked to get fried crispy and then top it with the vinegar fish sauce working with the natural flavor of the smoky sprout. The
other guys went with some basic fish and chips,  I opted for “fish fries”, a.k.a. fried smelts.

After dinner, we walked over the Crown and Anchor where we checked out an early show of the Generations Project (thegenerationsproject.info). Part of a new intergenerational, transnational LGBT queer storytelling project that hopes to serve as a bridge between older and younger folks by sharing different stories frint points in our lives (coming out, risk, dating etc.). Tonight’s specifically highlighted the stories related to Ptwn.

After a really well-done show, we once again took a walk so the men could get ice cream and I splurged at the Portuguese Bakery (299 Commercial St, Provincetown, MA 02657) for a pastry; Malasada is  the Portuguese version of a “fried dough” treat. Italians grow up with a similar version serves on Sundays or at street fairs. As they do with the italian version – they cover it with sugar hot out of the grease.

On Tuesday

Paul’s parents were scheduled to come down on the 11 o’clock ferry, so after getting up and doing a few hours of work I went back to the unit and made some breakfast for all of us. 

Then we took a nice leisurely stroll to the ferry for his mom and Eddie. Looking for something to do that wouldn’t require them to walk as much, we decided to make use of the new Provincetown Mayflower Trolley tour.

What a great ride. We were able to get to a bunch of locations with the tour we hadn’t checked out before. While we heard some really interesting stories and history of the people who founded Provincetown. Not to mention learning about the environment & ecological structure.  Overall well worth the money for the $20 tickets and I would reccomemd to anybody who’s never been here to take advantage of it. And I got a recipe to try as well!


We caught sight of some fun street based art that often can be found tucked away in nooks and crannies.
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Travel day

Travel

We all love it, but travel can just as easily go wrong. I have to say the hardest thing about the early morning flight is actually the early morning itself. In order to catch a 6 AM flight out of SFO,  it means leaving as early as 4:15 AM.

As luck would have it, it was a pretty uneventful travel experience. The airport was a little more crowded than usual but I managed to get on the plane, make my connections and found myself a Boston, 15 minutes ahead of schedule, albeit 12 hours later.

Next stop, Residence Inn Seaport downtown to meet Paul, with old friends Josh & Brent in tow, who came in from San Diego and would also be staying Ptown.

Residence Inn Downtown 

Any visit to Boston for me that is non-work related, usually begins and ends with a stay at this facility. Between the friendliness of the staff, the super convenient location for both water events and inner city Boston events, just makes for it to be a perfect place to relax & recharge.

This inspired, converted building turns the stay into something that feels like you’re actually on a “urban adventure”. From it’s super airy atrium, to the modern desired modular rooms; this place, has lots of nooks and crannies to explore. Each of the rooms we’ve stayed in, has a slightly different layout which is how they all fit into the natural structure of the building. Giving those who live in tradition houses an opportunity at staying in a super cool urban environment.

Close to public transportation, including the ferry for those folks headed down to the Cape. They’ve got in-hotel full service coffee shop that caters to the neighborhood, as well as it’s traditional Residence Inn morning buffet. Much like other Residence Inns, the staff tend toward the awesome side of hosting. Working at whatever they can to help make your stay the best.

Word up though; while not the most expensive of the hotels in this area it isn’t inexpensive. So plan ahead, sign up with Marriott deals so that you can utilize your points or discounts as appropriate. This site also is within a short walk to the childrens museum; so on this visit also staying were more families than previous stays which made navigating the breakfast buffett a little “treacherous” as not all children (and some adults it would seem) have been taught proper public shared food space/buffett curtesies or hygiene practices. So if you want particularly kid or family-friendly you might want to call ahead to find out if there’s a kid focused weekend happening. Another fav feature is the “grocery option”. Many of the facilities will now do some basic grocery runs to stock up the very workable kitchens. Billing your rooms and saving you time.

Dinner and what not

This is a great central location for nice walk to the italian area of town. Which we do each trip for pizzia at Regina Pizzeria (the original one). If you want calm, quiet dinner – this isn’t the place. It’s loud and ethnic as only a small family place can be. The 30 min walk, takes you through several community parks, right by the front of the Boston Children Museum, which is sure to have something fun going on and eventually right into the Italian section of town.

Travel to Provincetown

Our next stop of the trip starts on Saturday am, and brings us to to the Ferry. Which normally would take us out over the water into Provincetown. But for the first time, rough weather water warning meant this trip taking a motor coach supplied from the Bay State Cruise Company to get us to Provincetown. [By the way, “rough weather water” warnings means more than a few passengers on the early ferry, ended much “green around the gills” than normal]

Now, while I will miss the boat ride, I don’t need a tossing boat & seasickness to start my day. I say as long as “someone else takes the wheel, and it’s not me driving” go for it.  Needless to say the 2.5 hour drive by coach bus, ended up almost 3.5, but was pleasently stressless it a bit cramped. [hint – this is the Cape, time flows differently so 2.5 hours = 3.5, its new “old” math for the Cape]

Getting Settled

Once we got settled in at Fisherman’s Cove, our “home away from home”, it was time for a short walk and some food. Since it was already 4:00, we opted for sandwiches now and diner later. We walked further down the West End to Relish, (I wrote about Relish in previous trips as well here (2015) and here 2014) bringing them back to the condo and our first waterside meal of the summer. Then it was time for the boys to go down for naps, while I took a walk to get caught up with my local peeps and the “news” around town.

The day slowly came to an end with a pleasant sunset watching on the main deck, while we waited for everyone to get ready for dinner. For the opening night, we took a short walk into town for burgers at Local 186  (I wrote about Local 186 previously here). Closing out the evening with a stroll to walk off the dinner and meander around till we settled in for the night.

Over all, a good first day.

 

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A journey to “Paradise Found” while painful can shine @sfgmc

A heartfelt and courageous concert from the men of the San Francisco Gay Mens Chorus last night at the Herbst Theater. Dr Timothy Selig, with only half  (space constraints of the Herbst stage) of his talented arsenal of out and proud men, became a real-world “wall of hearts” over the weekend and clearly illustrated the power of love, integrity & resilience.

This diverse collection of “hearts”, rose to new heights to a full house to perform a concert worthy of it’s “Paradise Found” theme. Even more impressive was knowing that less than 24 hours prior, they had lost one of their own “hearts” on the very same stage.

Stay tuned for more details as SFGMC prepares for an incredible summer tour, dubbed  The Lavender Pen Freedom Tour as they raise funds while making diversity and inclusion heard in some of the more restrictive cities here in the Unites States. For more information and how you can help (or join them as part of the “Entourage”) visit http://www.sfgmc.org.

Equally entertaining was the richness of the “traditional meets contemporary” performances from the concert guest artists of  the evening, Patrick Makuakane’s Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu dance company. Along with the super talented troupe, we were tempted with a look at The Natives Are Restless, a new coffee-table book that tells the story of Patrick Makuakāne and Nā Lei Hulu through a stirring narrative, striking photographs, and arresting moments from performances through the years. 

 

 

 

REMEMBERING RYAN NUNEZ: A member of The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (SFGMC) passed away on stage during the intermission of the choir’s Friday night performance.

It’s the last of the Cioppino nights @RoccosCafeSanFrancisco for the season soon

Heads up folks!

Some of you know that Rocco’s Cafe San Francisco is one of my “go to” fav places.

Top dishes on the menu include the seasonal Corned Beef & Cabbage we had last week during our annual St. Paddy’s Day Night out. 

But the other seasonal “must have” is the Chippino.

Just got word that the last time of the season for Cioppino is at the end of the month.. see the message below and use the link for reservations.

“The secret is out, so you better make your reservations now because it’s going to get a little crazy in here.LAST CIOPPINO of this season is Fri 3.31 & Sat 4.1, and this is no April fool’s joke!”

Rocco’s Cafe

1131 Folsom StSan Francisco, CA 94103-3931(between 7th & 8th Sts.)

Reservations Accepted: https://www.yelpreservations.com/r/roccos-cafe/

And Just because it was worth it to me… we can all use a reminder

“For Good” – Out of Oz Studio Sessions with Kristin Chenoweth
Because we can all use a reminder

Reposted from her page; Sang with my girl Kristin Chenoweth for the first time in 12 years to honor WICKED The Musical producer David Stone at the Second Stage Theatre Gala. Very emotional. Hope you guys like!

She is on tour! Find out more on her Fb Page

AUG26
Sat 8 PM · Hearst Greek Theatre · Berkeley
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MAY27
Sat 8 PM EDT · Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall · Sarasota, FL
Concert
JUL22
Sat 8 PM EDT · The Fox Theatre · Atlanta, GA
Colby and 11 friends like this place