Tuesday, July 28, 2009

SFMOMA Exhibits

Last Monday, my friend Inger and I went to the SFMOMA primarily to see the exhibit entitled Georgia O'Keefe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities but we ended up being pleasantly surprised with two more great exhibits. I went to the Ansel Adams at 100 exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston several years ago and loved it so I was excited at the prospect of seeing his work again. Adams truly is a master photographer- I am even more impressed since he was not able to immediately view how his images turned out in his digital camera, like we do today. He definitely embodies the idea of patience and hiking to get the best views. Some of my favorite works were "Pool and Cloud Reflections, Yosemite National Park" (I love how the clouds are being reflected in the water- they look like he is photographing them directly), "Lake Near Muir Pass, Kings Canyon National Park" (I love how it is a perfect mirror image of the mountains), and "Sand Dune, White Sands National Monument, New Mexico."

I am a huge fan of Georgia O'Keefe as well- her paintings are DEFINITELY better in person. You are able to see the amazing gradations in color and how she was in complete control of this medium to evoke an emotional response. My favorite works of hers were "Red Cana," "White Birch," and "Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico."

O'Keefe and Adams were friends and they used similar subjects in nature. I had hoped that the exhibit would be directly comparing their works but that only happened a couple of times. I bought the exhibition book and love the title page that directly compares their work, along with having a photo of each artist.

No photography is allowed in any of the exhibits but I was able to snap two photos from the Richard Avedon that were outside the museum (thus, pardon the glass). This is one of his self portraits and the other was on of his high fashion photographs- I loved how he placed these models in the midst of the elephants.

Richard Avedon was involved with taking beautiful portraits starting in the late 1940s, most notably of Parisian models and celebrities including Marilyn Monroe and Bob Dylan. He worked as a photographer taking thousands of id photographs for the military when he discovered how much he loved it and decided to pursue it as a career. His work is simply stunning- showing just how beautiful and unique each individul is. You can click through some of his work on the exhibition homepage.

One of the other great photography exhibits was called "The Americans" by Robert Frank. Frank received a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation to drive around the U.S. for two years and take photos of the everyday lives of Americans. The photographs included gas stations, diners, automobiles, and individuals who probably would not have been the focus of photographers before. These images are very powerful, conveying the emotions of life in America.

All of these exhibits about photography made me want to go out and take photos- I do need to take a class though to improve my skills so that I can take really good pictures.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wahoo Fish Tacos and Pinkberry

I ate at two new places today- both at Santana Row. The first stop was Wahoo Fish Tacos and so I of course got the specialty- the fish tacos- which were excellent. I also got some chicken taquitos which were crispy and crunchy and with well seasoned. Generally, at many restaurants, rice and beans are just kind of a filler but these standout all on their own. I tried some Pinkberry yogurt today and it definitely lived up to all of the hype. I had the swirl of coconut and passionfruit and it was heavenly. One of the most unique tastes, delicious and refreshing- not heavy. Perfect after a filling meal. Well, two more good places to add to the list of favorite restaurants in the area- not that we really need any more . . .

Capitola Beach

Last Thursday, I went with some friends out to Capitola beach about 45 minutes away from where we live. We got there at about 10 am to the beach completely engulfed in fog and it was cold and windy. But, the beach was packed with kids ranging from about 6 years to teenagers there for junior lifeguard training. The kids had to run up and down along beach

As well as swimming in the water. I was so impressed by their dedication since the water was so cold in addition to the wind.

My little friend Nora loved being in the center of the action- not moving an inch while the kids were running all around her.

She also loved playing in the sand and riding in her dump truck

Happily, the fog burned off and the sun came out after about an hour of us being there so we were able to have some fun in the sun. Capitola is a cute coastal town with brightly colored buildings and cafes lining the beach

As well as a sailboats near the pier. The waves were pretty good- the water was a bit too cold for my taste so I only went wading

I am definitely going to visit the beach- and this town again since it is so charming

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gilroy Outlets

Since we were already down in Gilroy for the festival, we decided to go shopping at the outlets. Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea. It was PACKED. It seemed like it was the day-after Thanksgiving that's how bad the crowds were. But, they also had some rocking sales. I got a new leather purse- that I am super excited about. I also got a black shrug and a shirt from Charlotte Russe. William also benefited from the sale at Van Hussen getting 3 new- and good looking-dress shirts. The interesting thing was that the outlets smelled more like garlic than the festival did! The festival surprisingly did not smell like garlic- something that William and I repeatedly commented on during our visit. But the rest of Gilroy smells like garlic- you can even smell it from the freeway. Go figure.

Gilroy Garlic Festival

William and I went to the Gilroy Garlic Festival- I was the one who was primarily curious about it since I had heard a large buzz about it. There was a good amount of traffic but it moved fairly quickly- not like our trip to Half Moon Bay for the pumpkin festival which took us over 2 hours. It just took us about an hour and a half- we were completely SHOCKED by the number of people at the festival. They had a huge parking lot in a flattened corn field and they had free shuttle buses taking you to the festival. There were thousands of people there- an unbelievable amount. We got there at noon and were glad that we got there fairly early since vendors started running out of food as well as it was getting SUPER hot (in the 90s) around 2:30 when we left. And the traffic was still backed up when we left.

The first thing that we saw when entering the festival was a giant floating chicken. Somewhat random for the festival, but it was just for the Foster farms "say no to plumping" campaign.

Garlic mascots- I am impressed that this kid was able to keep that big thing on his head with how hot it was that day- nearly 90 degrees. This other balloon guy looks super strong- probably from all of the garlic.

One of the largest garlic manufacturers in Gilroy is called Christopher Ranch and they have an inflatable garlic guy- and check out just how long this chain of garlic is.

They even have special garlic hats

There's nothing like flaming garlic to spark fund raising efforts- check out how much they raised.

They had a kids area where they had spin art on frisbees, sand art, creating your own custom wax hands, making tool boxes (William thought that it was said that this isn't taught at home), winning hermit crabs, or one of these giant plastic aliens. Random.

They also had balloon bounce areas as well as a few mini-rides but the most ironic part was that the surrounding playground was completely closed and fenced off.

They had several stages set up with various kinds of musicians and even cooking demonstrations. Here was one that was going on- we didn't watch very much of it since all of the seats were already taken.

They also had vendors selling craft objects such as windchimes, face painting, wood blocks, clothing- the type that you would find at your typical street fair.

But the main event was definitely the food vendors. They had FOUR main food alleys where they had vendors. The best ones were at Gourmet Alley- which had two sides of yummy garlic goodness. We sampled the penne pesto (which was good- but a little spicy), garlic fries (MUCH better than the ones at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk- the garlic was better seasoned and cooked further), but THE BEST part was the garlic bread. It was unbelievable- so soft and flavorful. They also had garlic ICE CREAM- knowing my affinity for this particular frozen delight, I had to try it. Fortunately, I got a small cone for free.

I was expecting the worst but it wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. The garlic flavor was very muted- but I would not recommend it. I was able to finish my cone so it was ok- but I definitely wouldn't pay for it. I also enjoyed trying garlic popcorn and garlic olive oil- but I didn't buy any because I was completely garlicked out. They also had other non-garlic foods for sale- like funnel cake, giant snowcones, corn on the cob, and various kinds of meats. But they also had Paella. I am a fan of paella but I thought that it was a fairly random food to find at the fair.

We tried to see the fire garlic roasters but it was too crowded around them but we saw it on a video on the shuttle bus. Pretty impressive.

All in all, we were glad that we went to the garlic festival but we think that it will be a "one hit wonder" since it costs $12 a person just to get in and the majority of the food costs extra. We had no idea just how popular it was and somewhat of an institution for the city of Gilroy- as they have 4,000 volunteers orchestrating the festival.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I finished reading Walden this past week and most of the book was ok. It talked mainly about the importance and the rejuvenating power of nature, as well as the everyday beauty that can be found therein. Thoreau built his own cabin and did some of his own farming, discussing the importance of simplicity and growing your own food. I found it interesting that these arguments he had made years ago are now being resurrected and advocated once again. He talked about the movement of the ice on the pond breaking up, as well as a fox running around and making friends. I thought that most of the book was ok, but the conclusion was OUTSTANDING. There were so many profound quotes in that part- here are a few that I particularly liked.

"I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he had imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in the common hours"- Henry David Thoreau
What I particularly like about this quote is that success can come when it is least expected but only as a result of the confidently pursuing your dreams.

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. No put the foundation under them" - Henry David Thoreau
This quote relates to the previous one in that we need to put effort to help make our dreams become reality.

"Let every one mind his own business, and endeavor to be what he was made . . . If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let her step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away" - Henry David Thoreau
I don't know if this is the orgin of the moving to the beat of a different drummer phrase, but it seems to directly relate. We each need to follow our own music and do our own thing and not be a mindless follower.

I'm glad that I read this book as it is definitely one of the classics and brings a perspective about nature that has influenced so many facets of our society.

Coupa Cafe

I met up with a colleague yesterday at the Coupa Cafe in Palo Alto and they had some of the best hot chocolate I've had in awhile. It was rich and slightly creamy but with a tang- and not too dark, bitter tasting. And they even made a heart out of the milk froth on top :-) The hot chocolate was called "Abuela" and delicious, as well as coming in the most adorable, creative packaging with the colorful, stained glass design. I loved their outdoor seating area as well, and they had plenty of indoor seating as well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Los Altos Farmers Market

Last Thursday afternoon was my first trip to the Los Altos Farmers Market and it definitely will not be my last. My friend Dyan invited me to come with her and her daughter Nora- I absolutely love this photo. Nora loves to help push the stroller and be just like Mommy. The farmers market is not nearly as large as the Haymarket one in the Boston, but has some aspects that I like much better about it. The vendors in Los Altos offer samples of their products- this truly is the best selling technique because it I bought these amazing nectarines only because they allowed me to taste part of them. I also love that you do not have to buy the specific amount that they tell you- at Haymarket, you have to buy 6 apples for a dollar but you can't do 3 apples for 50 cents. At the Los Altos market, you can also pick your own produce whereas at the Haymarket one, they choose for you. I do miss just how large the Haymarket is- and how many different flower vendors they have. The Los Altos market also has vendors who sell fresh pasta, indian food, and even baked goods. I had thought that you could not have a bad whoopie pie but I stand corrected. Dyan and I shared one that was horrible- it was the most bitter chocolate cake part I've had- it literally tasted like there was no sugar in it. I was just relieved that we shared it so that neither of us had to eat the entire thing. I got some of the best organic strawberries from this market- and I actually do taste the difference. They were so sweet and perfect. I will DEFINITELY be going back to this market- especially since the prices were so reasonable for such great fruit.

Chili's 3 Course Meal for $20

Chili's has the best deal going on right now- they have a three course menu for $20. You have a choice of appetizer- we got the texas cheese fries (but have them hold the jalapenos because they literally gave us 2 whole ones on top)- and then you each have a choice of entree- (we shared the bacon burger and the fire grilled chicken quesedillas, though we took them home to have room for the best part) and then dessert- we had the chocolate chip molten cake. SO GOOD. All of their molten cakes- the original chocolate, the white chocolate, and now the chocolate chip- are true heaven. I'm sure that we will definitely be back again to get this unbelievable deal before it goes away.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

William and I went and saw Harry Potter on Friday night and we picked the right showtime- 6:15- in that we did not have to wait in line and got perfect center seats. When we left the theater, there was a HUGE line for the next show. I have loved the books but I am glad that I have not read them in awhile because I feel that I liked the film better because I was not continually comparing it to the book. I still am so impressed by how well they have recreated the book into a visual form- it can be something that is very hard to do. Seeing this film made me want to go back and watch all of the other movies in order. William has not read the books but he was fascinated by the movie- he kept asking me clarification questions as well as speculating about what will be happening in the next films. I answered his questions about previous films but would not let him know if his conjectures are right or wrong. I told him that he needs to wait until the next films, but a better option would be to read all of the books since they contain so many more details and nuances that cannot be translated into a two and a half hour movie. If you loved the previous Harry Potter movies, this is a definite must see. And Ron is still my personal favorite character- he is so funny and has the best facial expressions.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ice Age 3 in 3D

We went and saw Ice Age 3 in 3D while we were in Utah with William's parents. William took me to see Ice Age 2 on our 5th date in Boston so we definitely love the series. And I enjoyed the 3rd one even more since he could hold my hand now (he didn't in the 2nd film since we had just started dating- yet I wanted him to the whole movie). Many times, the sequels are not as good as the originals but I have to say that they have done an excellent job with the sequels. It is funny and clever, as well as touching story about what it means to be a family. My mother-in-law thought that the 3D was better in this movie than in UP since it made some more explicit use of the 3D such as making some of the animals jump out. We definitely love the 3D and are glad that many more movies are utilizing it.

Fireworks Show in Twin Falls Idaho

We were able to watch the local fireworks show from our hotel. I was fairly impressed by just how long the show was- about 20 minutes- and they had some good fireworks as chronicled below.

It was also fun to watch the illegal fireworks that people let off in the parking lot- the cops came and talked with them and as soon as they drove away, the fireworks started yet again. But they kept launching them during the show which didn't make sense to me because I would have just waited until it was over to maximize the number of fireworks watched.

Idaho Joes

We went to dinner at a restaurant in Twin Falls called Idaho Joes. As many of you already know, one of our favorite restaurants from MA is called Not Your Average Joes so it appears that we have a great affinity for restaurants with "Joes" in the title. They have THE BEST SCONES- they were kind of hidden on the menu in the appetizers and so William and I decided to try them and it turned out to be our favorite thing. Each scone was huge and covered in cinnamon sugar and came with honey butter- William was kind enough to share with his parents but I very greedily ate all of mine. Had I know they were that good, that would have been all that I ordered. They also had a great deal called the "burger-fry-and pie". For $7.25, you get a burger, fries, and a slice of their pie- hard to beat that deal. The pie was only ok- the scones are the real showstopper of the restaurant.

William made the following observation: You know that it is a Kunz family reunion when there is more food than luggage. That being said, we definitely ate well for the whole trip.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Shoshone Falls

After going to the ice caves and the Twin Falls temple, we headed out to Shoshone Falls. I had never heard of these falls before but they are called "the Niagara Falls of the West" and I have to agree with them. Niagara Falls are wider, but these are taller and very spectacular. At $3 a car, this is such a bargain. What I love about the park is that they have several different viewing areas of the falls that provides unique views.

This was our first view of the falls

The amazing rushing water over the falls

The second view point had a cement walkway extending off the cliff to provide this great view, you can even see a little rainbow in the right corner.

Me and my beautiful mother-in-law Lynne

William and me in front of the falls

The falls run down into the gorge and it is very beautiful in its own right

I love the mist from the falls

My father-in-law saw another walkway further up the hill but it looked pretty far away and had some steep stairs to it. It was quite hot and I was hesitant about doing the hike as I thought that the view probably wouldn't look all that different, but I conceded and was especially glad that I did. It was even more amazing than the previous views. Sometimes if is definitely worth the extra physical effort to get there.

I finally have a picture of me with a rainbow

Me with my amazing father and mother-in-law- I truly am so lucky to be a part of their family

And we even saw a double rainbow

William took most of these photos- he took so many great ones that I had to include many of them.