I left my Heart in San Francisco

San_Francisco_Bay_Bridge_skyline

One of my favorite places on the planet, in addition to Paris, is San Francisco.  The art, the music, and the cuisine can rival just about any city. But when you add the thrill of riding a cable car up and down the steep hills, or gliding through the waves with the cool breeze in your sails, glancing back over the breath-taking city waterfront – I’d say only a few cities in the world can compare.

I lived and worked in the City by the Bay for many years, but five years ago I moved away and have missed it ever since. As you can imagine, the song I left my Heart in San Francisco rings especially true for me.

I’ll move back one day, but for now I just visit as often as I can, and dream of the beautiful fog flowing through the golden gate.

As a music lover, here are some songs I listen to whenever I’m feeling a little home sick.

 

Enjoy!

San Francisco Blues ~ Peggy Lee

 

(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay ~ Otis Redding

 

San FranciscoBay Blues ~ Eric Clapton

 

San Francisco Days ~ Chris Isaak

 

San Francisco (Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair) ~ Scott McKenzie

 

San Francisco ~ The Wheepies

 

Grace Cathedral Hill ~ The Decemberists

 

 

Lights ~ Journey

 

Fake Tales of San Francisco ~ Arctic Monkeys

San Francisco Nights ~ Eric Burdon & The Animals

And of course…

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Easy and Delicious Peach Cobbler

This evening I was looking for a little something yummy to make after dinner, when all of a sudden I realized I have all the ingredients to make my mother’s delicious Peach Cobbler. I have enjoyed this quick and easy recipe since childhood, so I thought I’d share it with you.


Ingredients

1/4 cup of butter
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3 (15oz) cans of sliced peaches

Directions
Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees; while pre-heating oven, place butter in the 10″X13″X3″ baking pan and place in oven to melt.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl, then add milk and whisk until smooth.


Remove baking pan from oven, and pour the batter over the melted butter in pan. Place sliced peaches over batter, and then pour 1/4 cup of remaining peach juice on top.

Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake for 45-minutes to 1-hour at 350F until golden brown.

Serve warm (alone or with vanilla bean ice cream)

Enjoy!

Getting to know Me again

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my life, and one that I will now always remember, is that I can’t continually put my ideas and dreams on the back burner for someone else – no matter how much I love them. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that relationships are all about compromise, but there are some things that just shouldn’t be compromised. And the things that make you “you”, definitely shouldn’t.

Looking back, I’ve done this periodically throughout my life. I want to make my partner happy, and sometimes I didn’t think about what I wanted or what I enjoyed; but instead I hung out with “his” friends, went where “he” wanted to go, listened to “his” type of music, and did what “he” wanted to do in an effort to have a happy marriage. Soon enough I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror.

This September marks the 5th anniversary of being single, again, following a 7-year marriage; and I have to tell you I am really enjoying getting to know ME again.

I’m writing. I’m traveling. I’m singing. I’m hanging out with MY friends again. I’m doing all those things I neglected.

In listening to this beautiful song by Mandy Moore, it seems she has been guilty of this as well.  She and Chantal Kreviazuk wrote this incredible song about taking the time to get to know yourself again. You can really hear the emotion in her voice.

Take a listen – you won’t be disappointed.  I’ve also posted the lyrics below.

Gardenia
Well, I put so much thought into getting ready
Now I know that was the best part
It’s so easy to get caught up in what I’m regretting
Forget what I got from a wounded heart

I’m the one who likes Gardenia
I’m the one who likes to make love on the floor
I don’t want to hang up the phone yet
It’s been good
Getting to know me more

I’ve been seeing all my old friends in the city
Walking alone in Central Park
Doing all the things that I’ve neglected
Traded ’em all in
To be in your arms

I’m the one who likes Gardenia
I’m the one who likes to make love on the floor
I don’t want to hang up the phone yet
It’s been good
Getting to know me more

Well, I hear my own voice
Sounds so silly
Keep on telling my story all around
Everything I lost seems so different
Well, this is how everybody gets found

American Idol – LIVE Tour 2011

Last night the season 10 American Idol Summer Tour came to Sacramento.  As a huge fan of the show, I was thrilled to be there. Overall, it was an entertaining evening and I enjoyed watching these kids live out their dream.

The excitement was palpable inside the Power Balance Pavilion as the lights dimmed and the top 5 Girls from Season 10 took the stage. Immediately noticeable, however, was Lauren Alaina – hobbling around the stage amongst her dancing counterparts. What’s that on her leg? A cast? Wow. After a little digging I got the scoop from a twitter message Lauren posted on July 10: “Good news & Bad news. It’s not broken but I have a third degree sprain and I have a boot and crutches!” I must say I am impressed that she preformed the day after her accident. She used a fancy black sparkly cane as she performed her solo’s later in the show.

Now here’s some highlights and lowlights from the show…

During the first half-hour, Stefano Langone and Pia Toscano were definitely the highlights, in fact during that time-period they performed more solos that then their counterparts. It was as if the producers are trying to push these two into the spotlight, and showcase their talent since they had less time on the show.

As usual, Pia was amazing. Her tone and pitch was spot on; and she was graceful, poised and beautiful. I wish they would have made better song choices for her, because they were a bit forgettable after a few minutes. She did the best with what she had, and it was great to hear that voice again – she was unquestionably booted from the show too early.

Stefano really shined! Great song choices, his confidence is up and he truly looked like he belongs on the stage. With dance moves and a wide vocal range, he certainly showed everyone he deserved to be there.

Unfortunately, Thia Megia’s lower register was barely audible, and thankfully, she only had one solo (that I remember); her higher range is much stronger and thankfully half of the song was in the higher range. She’s this seasons’s weakest link.

Naima Adedapo’s voice and dance moves were quite strong; and she adapted a Beyoncé song to include an African Tribal Dance. WOW, that girl can move!

When Paul McDonald took the stage singing Maggie Mae (and the crowd erupted) I had a premonition that soon Rod Stewart will be writing his life story for a made for TV movie, and Paul would definitely get the lead role. It’s uncanny how much he looks, acts and sings just like the superstar of the 70’s and 80’s.

The biggest highlight of the 1st half of the show came when Casey Abrams took the stage with his standing Bass and started a slow and seductive version on Smooth (by Santana), the audience went crazy! The first verse was completely amazing, and then he transitioned into the radio version of the song. It was still fantastic, although I preferred the slowed down version – he’s just an incredible talent. Soon Haley Reinhart joined him on stage (again the crowd goes wild) and they start a scatting duo to rival any Jazz singer. Following the duet, Casey continued his magic with his own version of Maroon 5’s Harder to Breathe. Simply amazing.

The 1st half concluded with a forgettable group ensemble of Forget You. The performance seemed disconnected and they definitely had sound equipment issues.  Jacob Lusk started off at lead vocal, but his microphone was either turned down, or turned off, because you couldn’t hear him for the first line or two of the song. Then, as each of the other members of the top 11 (minus reigning Idol Scotty McCreery) joined him on stage, it was difficult to follow what was going on if you weren’t sitting in the first 10 rows. This was due in part because the video camera was continually pointed at a performer who was NOT singing. The sound issues continued and finally the song just ended; so unexpectedly, in fact, that the audience needed a few seconds to catch up and applaud.

Following intermission, the show continued with James Durban entering the building from the Pavilion’s side entrance and walking through the audience singing Sweet Child O’ Mine.  He was high-fiving fans as he walked through, until he finally made it to the stage. That stellar performance was followed by another, as he belted out Uprising, the Muse song he performed on one of the last Season 10 episodes. Both songs were incredible!  It was amazing to watch this sort of talent in person.  I always thought he was fantastic on the show – but hearing and watching him perform live was stunning.  His vocal range (in full voice) is truly remarkable. He moves constantly, running from one end of the stage to the other, and he doesn’t lose his breath or his place in the song.  That’s tremendous! Following his performance, the audience applauded and stomped their feet so much, it was like we were experiencing an earthquake in Sacramento.

Jacob Lusk followed James, and again, wrong song choice and unfortunately for Jacob, pretty much bad placement. I certainly would not want to follow James, but if I did, I’d want to sing a song that people knew, that they could sing along with. His performance made me feel like I was attending a Church service – when I’m an “unbeliever” – I felt out of place.  His second song was a much better, but I was actually relieved when the next act came to the stage. Don’t get me wrong, I think he has a really great voice, I just didn’t feel the songs that he performed highlighted his abilities in the best way or engaged the audience.

Thankfully, Haley returned to the stage immediately following Jacob, and she blew us away with her rendition of The House of the Rising Sun.  Her sultry and seductive vocal stylings truly captivated the audience. She followed up with Benny and the Jets, a fan favorite from season 10.  Haley, in my opinion, should have placed at least second, if Scotty was going to win. She’s polished, poised and knows how to work the stage; unlike Lauren Alaina who is young and sweet, but who at times appears immature and lacks confident.

That said, Lauren did a great job on her solo’s. The best being her new single, Like My Mother Does – a wonderful tribute to the relationship she has with her mother.

The climax of the evening followed a video presentation from the past 9 seasons as each Season’s Winner was announced;  then they showcased Scotty McCreery’s crowning moment. The crowd erupted in anticipation of Scotty finally taking the stage – hands clapped, feet stomped, girls screamed, tears rolled down young girls faces and then you heard it – “Well, lock those doors and turn the lights down low…” – Scotty’s unmistakably low and rich voice came across even sweeter in person. Following his first song, he spoke directly to the girls in the audience (he knows his fan base) and then thanked everyone for coming out.  He followed up with Are You Going to Kiss Me or Not, and then sang his new single This Big.

He continued his seduction with When You Say Nothing at All; and following the first verse, Lauren Alaina joined him on stage and they sang the number as a duet. I’d say this was one of the evening’s highlights. Lauren Alaina sounded amazing, Scotty sounded like Scotty, and they looked like they were actually in love.

Lauren Alaina left the stage and Scotty concluded his performance with Gone, with a few of the female contestants on backup vocals.

The finale was, of course, a group number that included a montage of the Journey songs. I had to check my ticket, because all of a sudden it felt like I was watching a Glee concert (which is a good thing). They sang perfect harmonies and their voices were completely synchronized. It was a brilliant way to close the show.

The Red Balloon

The Red Balloon / Le Ballon Rouge (original title)

Over the weekend, I decided to stay out of the 100+ degree heat and watch a couple French Films, one of which was Le Ballon Rouge (The Red Balloon). I find it hard to believe that I had not seen this film before, but I must say I really enjoyed it. (And you can watch it on Netflix Instant View streaming video.)

The only short film ever to win an Oscar for best original screenplay, Albert Lamorisse tells the story of young Pascal (Lamorisse’s own son Pascal), a nine-year-old Parisian boy living an ordinary life in a sketchy Parisian neighborhood until the day that a large red balloon mysteriously floats into his life.

In this film, Lamorisse portrays Paris unlike what you have probably seen in most other films. There are no gorgeous shots of the Eifel Tower or Notre Dame. The sky is overcast, there are dull gray buildings flanking gray cobblestone streets with people in gray suits. Then in the midst of it, there is a single red balloon. I love how the color just pops!

As they walk the streets of Paris, the balloon provides the only pop of color in the boy’s mostly gray world.

The cinematography is sophisticated and elegant, as the film tells the story of this magical red balloon and the beautiful friendship formed between it and Pascal. Together as they walk the streets of Paris, the balloon provides the only pop of color in the boy’s mostly gray world.

There is barely a word spoken throughout this 34-minute film, so do not worry about subtitles or speaking French. In addition, if you have children, I highly recommend watching it with them. The film portrays the secret lives of children but doesn’t talk down to them or disrespect their fears or their loves.

Director: Albert Lamorisse
Writer: Albert Lamorisse
Stars: Pascal Lamorisse, Sabine Lamorisse and Georges Sellier

The post is also posted in my blog: The French Project

Couch to 5K to Couch ~ OUCH!

Couch to 5k to Couch ~ OUCH!

You may be wondering why I haven’t posted anything lately about my 5K Training. Well, I’ll tell you …

After my last run of week 2 training (last Saturday morning), there was a little tightness in my calf and my ankle felt a little stiff, so I stretched a lot and went on with my day. But overall  I felt great! I was invigorated and ready to start week 3 following a 1 day rest, as the program recommends.

However, later that evening I couldn’t walk.  My ankle was swollen and throbbing in pain. I don’t even know what I did. I iced it, I took Motrin and rested it all day Sunday, hoping that I would be able to get back on track by Monday.

I woke up Monday morning and it was still a little sore, so I decided to take one more day off from running to make sure it healed. No such luck, after a long day at work it hurt worse, and by Tuesday I could barely put any pressure on it without a lot of pain. So I decided to call my doctor.

He said I was doing everything right, and just keep doing what I was doing: icing it, taking the Motrin and keeping it elevated as much as possible. Well, I have a job, so unfortunately I can’t just stay home and pamper my ankle, so I continued to hubble on it all week, and it continued to hurt and swell.

my new friend
Since this last weekend was a three-day holiday from work, I decided to cancel my plans, and just stay off my leg as much as possible. I watched a lot of movies. I kept ice on it (well, as I could handle), and kept it elevated… popping Motrin like M&Ms.

By Monday it started to feel a little better and today I am not limping at all. I still hurts a bit (more as the day goes on), but I’m hopeful that I will be hitting the trail one day this week.

Side note: After talking with a few of my runner friends, it sounds like I need to purchase a new pair of running shoes, as my 5-year-old cross trainers probably aren’t giving enough support.

Fake it ’til you make it!

Pain au Chocolat

Pain au Chocolat

We’ve all heard the expression “Fake it ’til you make it!” and that’s what I intend to do – live like I’m living in France, until I can make the move.

For me, the French/European lifestyle is all about working to live, and not living to work.  Taking time to enjoy life’s pleasures. Being an artist. A writer. Dining outside. 

Parisian Cafe

Parisian Cafe

When I’m in Europe, I take the train to visit different cities. I walk more. I eat bread (*gasp*). Spend hours, sometimes entire days in Museums AND Cafés. Drink Champagne. Enjoy Crêpes and Pain au Chocolat (chocolate croissants)  – a lot! So why not do this now?

Nutella and Banana Crepe

Before I leave for my French Adventure, I plan on doing the following things right here in the Good Ole U.S.of A.:

1. Take the train to another State (perhaps Denverto visit my bestie Heidi; or Chicagoto visit my brother; or just maybe travel to a city I’ve never visited).
2. Finish my novel.
3. Relax in the park with a loaf of French bread, a bottle of wine and a good book.
4. Start drawing /painting again.
5. Enjoy the local museums and galleries.
6. Dine outside as much as possible.
7. Host a French Dinner & Movie Night –  complete with French music, a French film, Champagne, Hors d’oeuvres and Crêpes!
8. Speak French daily.
9. Cook French cuisine.
10. Sit in a local coffee-house for hours and people watch.

I better get started tout de suite!

This post is also posted in my new blog: The France Project