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Tuesday Beautiful Things

June gloom is how Californian’s see this month – due to the relentless heavy fogs along the coast and sometimes even inland. Surprisingly, we had a few gorgeous days at the start of the month, so we took to the streets, parks, and sandy beach walks soaking it all up. Today, the fog has rolled in as expected, and we are once again indoors, wearing sweaters and socks and all things winter related.

For this very reason, I felt the need to share some beautiful things to help stay focused on positive thoughts…

{featured image source and credit here, here, here, here}

Travel: Travel Abroad On Your Staycation

I’ve been a bit grumpy lately over the fact, the U.S. has relapsed, causing all states to retract parts of their post-lockdown phased openings. Not to mention the fact, we’ve been banned from travel to Europe. This too has caused my mind to hurt.

Last week, I did a bit of staycation, where I ventured 20-60 miles out of San Francisco to explore parks and small towns mostly by driving through, hoping to find similarities in places in Europe I so miss.

This list naturally caught my attention, about places in America’s western region where one can experience a bit of Europe. This also works well for all those stuck in the U.S. since the lockdown. Just remember to wear a mask, if you plan to drive through these towns for the fourth of July weekend holiday.

Vineyards in Napa Valley, California, USA. – compared to the Tuscan region in Italy
The hills are alive in Veil Colorado – is a reminder of Switzerland, Austria
Catelina Island off the coast of Los Angeles is being compared to Amalfi coast, although I think Tiburon and Sausalito are probably a better comparison.
Solvang, California I have frequented often and love walking through the picturesque town surely a reminder of Holland
Leavenworth Washington is being compared to a German town – which I have tagged as a place to visit next

Where in your neck of the woods can be compared to a European destination?

{featured image full credit and source}

Thoughts for Today

As the world moves forward and we stagnate or worse in the U.S. in terms of COVID-19, I cannot help but wonder what topics are on everyone’s mind from across the world these days?

Are Europeans thinking about travel? Is the continent of Asia in mixed state, some exploring Disneyland in their own ways while others are being arrested for protesting? Why isn’t anyone talking about Africa? Is the pandemic worse or stabilized in those nations? I feel the news is often contradicting and my stress level elevating and my hopelessness growing.

Is anyone else feeling this way on this first day of July? Or your thoughts are shifting based on this thought process?

And then there is this weirdly happy/scary scene…

Prague celebrating end to COVID-19 lockdown in their country

Have we stopped caring? Or is this our way of coping and warding off the stress and anxiety about what the future holds?

These are the thoughts going through my mind today. I apologize if this is not in line with what you have hoped to see on RS&S today.

Food: Dinner Tonight – Salmon

I’ve been craving salmon almost every day and normally, I’d oven-grill one with ginger, butter/olive oil, salt/pepper and that’s it.

This morning, I found this recipe I want to try, which is very close to the way I grill mine – except there is feta cheese and orzo and a whole bunch of other wonderful components. So, here you go – in case you want to attempt the same recipe for tonight’s dinner:

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 (5-6 ounce) salmon fillets
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tablespoon dried oregano)
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 lemons, sliced and seeds removed – use to your taste
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, dill, and or mint, chopped (I use a mix)

ORZO SUMMER SALAD

{featured image and recipe full credit}

Interesting Topics To Share

Diving into this week has been most difficult after the staycation last week. But the world as we know continues to evolve, and although I stayed out of touch all last week, I am now fully immersed in all things.

So to kick off my official back at the office routine, I decided to start off with interesting topics to share:

The world as we know it – isn’t anymore as defined in this article
Those places which can travel will find this topic helpful in planning post-lockdown travels in 2020
Would outdoor cinemas work in all parts of the world?
This home
Recipe ideas for fourth of July – even when social distancing in the U.S.

Back From Staycation

Last week I had no intention of being online for work or play while I took a few days off to come to terms with a milestone birthday 2020 style.

I did my best, drove out of town, day trips mind you, to places I haven’t been and some places I have and got a glimpse of how much different things are since the lock down. I was disappointed in some places, where folks did not wear their masks, and other places where too many people were grouped together for dinner or lunch. I felt very nervous, especially since the U.S. is not on track with recovery or making conscious efforts to adhere to the rules to help slow down the virus. As a result I am afraid that we may be headed for another lock down if we continue to play as entitled as we are bred in this country.

As it stands EU has rightfully banned American travelers from going abroad and who knows which other nations will follow suit? But I am going to pause this thought right now and instead share some bits of good in all the weirdness around.

Day one – Fort Baker in the fog – we drove from the city very early in the morning and was able to walk around as if we had reserved the entire place to ourselves. It was cold and windy and very foggy but nevertheless, a great kickoff to the staycation.

Fort Baker in typical June Fog in San Francisco – can you see the bridge?
Sausalito always fills my Lake Como wanderlust – since I was supposed to be there this week
We discovered Point Bonita lighthouse was open only Sunday-Monday so we ventured to the location and walked the narrow path to the cliff and discovered the lighthouse was actually closed, so we trekked to the highest point near Point Bonita and to my surprise got a visual of the lighthouse in the far distance. (this is a zoomed in photo)

Day two of my staycation, we drove to Calistoga downtown, which is about 60 miles or so from San Francisco. Arriving at seventy-thirty in the morning so that I could leisurely walk through the neighborhoods, and breathe in the fresh air. Calistoga’s small town feel was what I have been nostalgic about recently – remembering childhood family getaways to the hot springs, or pools.

I noticed an elderly woman, maybe in her late 80’s stepping out of her white picket fenced home and very determined began walking ahead of us and then stopped in front of what appeared to be Veteran’s Memorial. I stood ten feet apart from her to see what it is she was looking at and without asking, she told me that was her husband’s name on one of the plaques. Which prompted me to ask about him serving our country and she told me the story, about WWII, and the injuries he sustained, and the health issues he had thereafter. He died in 1964 she said, which left her a widow for 56 years. We said our goodbyes afterwards, and I watched her walk back the same path. I hoped that I made a small difference in her life of loneliness.

The best part of Calistoga walks was the tallest redwood trees on every street, shading the homes so perfectly
And the sweetest of Magnolias – I cannot get enough of – perhaps I need to move to Calistoga

Day three – we went on a Park adventure – across the Golden Gate again, to Marin this time or proximity in search of public parks and although we explored all the one’s listed here, my favorite was McNear Park – which currently is open but not populated due to the pool being closed. But nevertheless, it is definitely a place that I’ll be frequenting when I am longing to be in Hawaii 😉

Day Four – We stayed local and bought things for projects around the house, which I’ll share with you later.

Day Five – We drove up to Sonoma, to walk the fields filled with vines, so lush and so up close, it takes your breath away.

Have you yet experienced a 2020 style staycation? And if so where and when?

Food: Chicken Florentine

I decided to take this week off – from work and even the new /strange lifestyle we’ve all been living since the social distancing and all. It is a staycation naturally, where I had to find creative ways to be outdoors and away from San Francisco’s dreary ‘summer months.’ In case you don’t know, San Francisco has the coldest summer with heavy fog, drizzle, wind and nothing but gray.

I’ll be talking about the staycation next week, once I’ve put my concept together on how to present the blog post to you all. In the meantime, just know, I am still cooking at home, in the evenings and this recipe is the winner for tonight’s dinner: Yes mother, we are having chicken 🙂

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or use gluten free
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets (about 3/4 inch thick)
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 10 tablespoons cold salted butter, cubed (see note)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 ounces buffalo or regular mozzarella, torn
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, torn {more}

Recipe and feature image full credit

Today’s Pretty Things

It has been a week – on a personal level, with a car break in, plumbing issues lost driver’s license, and health related concerns, and yet I am buying a bouquet of flowers, and sprucing up the house, to do my best in staying positive or even optimistic. Photographs of pretty things help, especially these lovely ones.

Hang in there if you are having an equally tough week.

Just a collection of wonderful for a mantle decor
Roses don’t have to be red to be adored
Passionate about cake decor
Terrace at the edge of the earth
yes please – poolside pleasures

{featured image source and full credit}

Culture: Some Good

The thought of some good is welcomed these days, as the world is quickly changing in so many ways.

As statues are coming down across the world, one important statue is erected in Riga, Latvia worth admiring
Loveliest wedding photo blending of families
Drone drops books for children to continue reading
Taking up hobbies reduces depression
Some good news to emerge from COVID-19

{featured image full credit}

Decor: Home Is Where We Are

Although many states, or countries are lifting the shelter in place to boost moral, moods and the economy, I am still considering staying more at home, and focusing on projects around the house which will certainly boost moods or moral if done as suggested in these topics of decor interest on this Wednesday.

Deck railing for the perfect family gathering place all throughout the summer and early fall
If wood flooring is your household project – then consider these suggestions
Turn your backyard into a beach oasis
Outdoor fireplace for those cooler nights of social distancing
Basement bar ideas for the six-feet apart entertaining

{featured images and article full credit}

Food: Side Dish 101

I live for side dishes – and with each meal plan them carefully so to use up the freshest of ingredients I purchased from the grocers. Which is what led me to this list of side dishes to consider adding the perfect to the simply meal.

I normally shift between roasted tomatoes, cabbage slaw, roasted peppers, roasted potatoes and sometimes rice.

Roasted Onions – perfect for burgers, or Philly cheese steak sandwiches
cabbage slaw, by itself or added to tacos
Roasted peppers, with steak mostly or paired with rice pilaf if staying vegetarian
roasted potatoes are a go to for chicken or salmon in my household
scallions are the best with mashed potatoes, and hot links for my family

{featured image and source full credit}